What Grabau teaches and professes!
an Explanation of
by G. Henning
Steam-press printing by Brunck & Held
(Luther in the Pamphlet by the Council and Churches)
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one
"When one has pure doctrine and preaches the Gospel but does not preach with such proofs (as Grabau asserted in his sermon), he is damned according to Gal.1,8. Thus I say in warning
to you and your children."
I will omit the hateful remarks he made in so many sentences and report only the major errors in doctrine Grabau committed, which led to my departure and that of many others.
1. Grabau's false teaching of the Word of God
In the 3rd Article we see that the Holy Spirit called the whole of Christendom together through the Gospel and with the Gospel He enlightened, sanctified and sustained it. For this reason God gave us His Word and it is powerful enough to compel without human intervention. Grabau however made the realization of the Word dependent upon the skill of a minister, as he thus professed: when a truly-called pastor knows how to deliver the Word, then it is real; here he takes the place of the Holy Spirit. He preached on the second Sunday after Easter (Misericordia Domini):
From all the testimony given (See 9th Synodal Letter, Page 26) it is concluded that Pastor Grabau has not only preached false doctrine but has tried to hold fast to it and will not publicly and openly declare that he may have preached false doctrine."
From this judgment the reader will recognize that the Ministry had disallowed this erroneous doctrine in the year 1866. Unfortunately it was not Grabau alone but the earlier Synod of Buffalo with him that had made the force and realization of God's Word through the sacrament of the Eucharist dependent upon the just vocation of the minister. From the first Grabau taught in his pastoral letter:
This severely erroneous doctrine was not only repeated in the second Synodal Letter (Buffalo) but also encountered by the Missouri Synod in the following:
In this case there is no difference between Grabau and those who perform rebaptisms since they mutually teach according to the dictates of reason.
One may take exception: If it is true that the Word is not made Flesh only through office and vocation, then anyone can receive the Eucharist by himself at home. That certainly does not follow for there is a big difference between my saying the Word is not made Flesh only through office and vocation or my saying it is permitted for Christians to administer the Eucharist themselves. The first is true, the second is untrue and will not be permitted in the Lutheran Church. Thus St. Paul speaks in 1. Cor. 4: So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Thus it is also taught in the Augsburg Confession, Article 15 that "no one may publicly teach in the Church or deliver the sacraments without ordained vocation." No one who is unordained may presume to give the Sacrament; he who does so sins against God's Order.
Thus spoke Luther: "On no account let us be persuaded that any house father may give the Sacrament in his home. I may have learned that at home but I was not a public preacher until I was publically ordained." With these words from Luther the Buffalo Synod wished to prove that one who is unordained merely distributes bread and wine. However Luther did not say: if you distribute the Eucharist in your homes it is merely bread and wine because you were not publicly ordained; rather he wishes to say: to determine what is not in your purview is left to your discretion. Thus it follows that if someone who is unordained distributes the Eucharist, he sins against God's Order, but the Sacrament itself is not uncertain or without force or merely bread and wine.
2. Grabau's False Doctrine concerning the Ban
Holding the keys is the special power of the church,
Grabau played with the ban in a fickle and shameful manner; he wielded it powerfully to announce: "In the name of the most reverend ministries I deliver N.N. [the name of a person] to Satan, close him off from heaven and lay before him his path to hell, etc." This powerful expression aroused the passions to the fullest. To this day his adherents proclaim that Becker and Grollmitz [Chairman of the congregation before the schism] were given no prior warning before the enactment of the ban. John 9, 22 and Chapter 16, 2. Such pharisee-like and papist tyranny must proceed if one misinterprets Math. 18, 15 - 17: "If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. If he listens to you, you have won him over as a brother. If he does not listen to you, take one or two others with you so that all matters may have two or three witnesses. If he does not listen to them, tell it to the congregation. If he does not listen to the congregation, then consider him a pagan and a tax collector." — thus is the decree of Christ. Oh but how poorly this instruction from Christ was heeded by the earlier Synod of Buffalo! Whenever two people quarreled, one would say: I'm telling the Pastor, or he needed only to write a few lines to Pastor Grabau and send it without signing it, — then the accused would be called forth by Grabau and this would be "the first stage of the warning." If the accused pleaded that he was not guilty, he would be tried by two committee members, and that was "the second stage." If the accused still maintained that he was not guilty, he was brought before the entire church,
|and that was "the third stage." Thus all three stages of warning had been gone through but the ban would not be completed until the Ministry issued the decree. During such inquisitions it often passed that the accused let slip an indiscreet word, — or he would not or could not go to Communion during the investigation — for this he would be placed under the ban due to disobedience to the Pastor and contempt for the Sacrament. Thus is often happened that people were excommunicated under paltry circumstances; in the beginning the indiscretion was small but through the process of inquisition larger sins were exposed a little at a time. It was not rare for people to be banned without any prior warning. Grabau taught that the bishops alone could excomunicate; it was not stated in his catechism: the administration of the key [of heaven] is a special power of the church, which Christ gave to His Church on Earth; rather he [Grabau] spoke: "This power is given to the bishops." Grabau's Bible is also false - when the Lord spoke in Matthew 18, 17 He said "Tell it to the congregation," but Grabau said: Don't do that. Tell the ministry, for the priests alone must decide everything and deliver judgment. With this the ministry became the high tribunal authority, which robbed the congregation of its rights to Christian justice. The degree of seriousness of this decree can be found in a letter Grabau wrote to P. Runkel in 1865: Whosoever defies the order of the ministry defies the church itself. Previously this dreadful teaching seemed right to us or at least we kept quiet about it. It occurred to us that it was like simple Christianity under the pope. The Lord Christ took bread and wine, transformed it into the Eucharist and distributed it, but the priests say that it is just as good if you merely take bread, in fact it may be better to receive the Sacrament in any form. We also thought that the congregation should feel consoled when it was told that the sinner had been expelled. But the Lord Christ did not say: Tell it to the congregation when he [the sinner] has been expelled. Rather He said: tell the congregation that it should warn the sinner and if the warning is unheeded, place him under the ban and consider him a pagan and a tax collector. It would stray too far from the point if I wished to further add how terribly and dreadfully the profession of faith was martyred by the tyranny of the ban but we have learned from it how much heartache comes from sullying and falsifying the source of comfort in God's Holy Word. It came to us like it did to the wise men from the East. The Loving God gave them a wonderful star which led them to Christ. But when they lost sight of that star they came before the murderer Herod. Luther says if the wise men hadn't misunderstood the prophets, they would not have come before the murderer Herod. Likewise if we had been properly instructed in the Word of Christ [Matthew 18], we would not have been led astray by such murderously false doctrine.|
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Reproduction [of the text] by Permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo NY: October 16, 2003
Edited January 9, 2006
Imaged and translated by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks