What Grabau Teaches and Professes: Pages 1 - 7

What Grabau teaches and professes!


an Explanation of
the previous Disputes in Pastor Grabau's Trinity Church of Buffalo

by G. Henning


Buffalo, N.Y.

Steam-press printing by Brunck & Held


St. Augustine says: "I may be in error, but I do not wish to become a heretic." Fact: Heretics do not just commit error, rather they do not want to be shown their error. They defend their errors and fight against established truth and against their own consciences. Thus says St. Paul in Titus 3: 10 and 11, you should avoid a heretic, even warn him once or twice, and you should know that such is heresy and it is a sin to willfully and knowingly remain damned in error. However St. Augustine gladly recognized his error and let it be called such. Thus he was not a heretic when he was in error. Other saints have done the same and lent their hay, straw and wood to the fire in order to remain within the realm of sanctity. We have done the same and still do it now."
         (Luther in the Pamphlet by the Council and Churches)


Fact: Why the Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Congregation of Buffalo separated itself from Pastor Grabau


            For no one can lay any foundation other than the one
                     already laid, which is Jesus Christ - 1 Cor. 3.11

The writer of this chronicle has been a member of the Grabau congregation in Buffalo for more than 20 years and he has tried to privately and publicly defend its doctrine against the teachings of the Missouri Synod. He once believed that Pastor Grabau zealously worked towards the institution of God's ministerial hierarchy but the Missouri Synod dismissed it because Grabau blatantly accused them of being enemies of God's order and persecuters of the Buffalo Synod. Thus it came to be that we read these earler writings of the Missouri Synod with anger and prejudice. We saw them as enemies and would not accept the truth of which they were convinced. It was through the love of God that Grabau made himself ever more known to us. We recognized through his own preachings and deeds that he sought his own honor rather than God's, and thus clung ever tighter to the hierarchical structure, a fact which the Missouri Synod had long since detected. Through his self-promotion he fell into disharmony with the greater portion of his brother ministers and a schism developed between his congregation and the earlier Buffalo Synod. Even before the congregations had been told about the threatening disharmony among the pastors, Grabau had delivered in his sermons ever more clearly at the beginning of 1866 his rantings over hierarchies and his false doctrines. His Lenten sermons, for example in which he represented himself in the person of the suffering Savior, were unbearable for me and many other people. He further preached on Jan. 26, 1866:
"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


                                    The Word of God is living and powerful
                                                                        Heb.4, 12

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):
"God empowered those of his ministry not to instruct mankind but to become His Chosen and thus the Word of God is the minister's tool in much the same way as a tool is in the hand of a carpenter. The more skillful he is with it, the more he can accomplish. Thus Christ said 'My Words are spirit and life,' therefore this tool is given life force through skillful handling. — Furthermore, we do not speak but rather our Father's Spirit speaks through us."
Thus the minister himself is much more than a tool of the Holy Spirit for through him His Word is brought forth. When a minister is not just a skilled man but rather someone who allows himself to be led by the Holy Spirit, the Word becomes a tool ready at hand for him and he is assisted in its skillful handling. It is not the word of the minister but the Word of God, as used by the Holy Spirit. The Word and the Holy Spirit are inseparable, delivered and brought to fruition through the Gospel according to the 3rd Article of the Apostles' Creed. Grabau repeatedly preached and defended this false teaching concerning the Word of God, for example on the day of St. Paul's conversion and he was taken to task by the Ministry for this. The Ministry made a record of his explanation for this and judged, among other things as follows: "Because the pure doctrine, which is the Word of God, carries within itself its own force, so is this force of God made holy according to Romans 1, 16. We find however that in the manner in which Pastor Grabau delivered his sermon of Jan. 25, 1866 he made the power of God's Word conditional...

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:
"On this point we are convinced, that an appointed member of the congregation can not give absolution nor can he distribute the Body and Blood of Christ. He merely gives bread and wine."

This severely erroneous doctrine was not only repeated in the second Synodal Letter (Buffalo) but also encountered by the Missouri Synod in the following:
You (the Missouri contingent) maintain erroneously that the Word of God may hold the power of sacrament when the Eucharist is given by someone other than the minster. Therefore according to the old Buffalo teaching, without the properly educated and appointed minister the Word of God as realized through the sacrament of Communion rings hollow. Thus Christ must have spoken: "My Words are spirit and life when they are proclaimed through the mouth of a properly appointed servant." If the words ring hollow it must be because they lack the power of realization due to the shortfall of the minister. How difficult is it for us when the workings of grace are contingent upon the individual administering them? Who could still have a joyous heart? Don't those who rebaptise people believe that the Holy Spirit can fulfill the Word of God through Baptism only once a person reaches the age of reason and agrees to it. In the second Synodal Letter it is taught that the Holy Spirit does not realize the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ if the minister does not have a true vocation.

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,
                     one which Christ has given to His 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