of Pastor Grabau of Buffalo
from the Year 1840
and the Assembled Correspondence
between Him and many Lutheran Pastors
The Publishing rendered
against the Assertion of Hierarchical Principles within
the Lutheran Church
Printed by H. Ludwig & Co., 70 Vesey Street
Preface - page 5
1. The Pastoral Letter Of Pastor Grabau - page 11
2. Deliberation on the aforepublished Pastoral Letter whereby the writer charges us - page 20
3. Pastor Grabau's Considered Refutation of Our Previous Critique - page 37
4. A Letter from Pastor Grabau to Pastor Brohm in New York Enclosed with the Refutation - page 57
5. Our Deliberation in the Refutation by Pastor Grabau - page 64
6. Written Verdict of the Freistadt and Milwaukee Synod concerning our Published Opinions - page 88
7. Our Response to the Synodal Letter - page 91
8. Further Useless Attempts at a Mutual Understanding. Summary of the Published Synodal Letter of Our Opponents along with Some Brief and Deliberated Remarks - page 95
To all Christian and truth-loving readers the grace and peace of God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in consoling communion with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As we allow this current text of correspondence which transpired over many years between ourselves and Pastor Grabau of Buffalo concerning a particular pastoral letter to be published, at first glance many readers may form the opinion that we were compelled to this action out of sheer love for dispute or idle self-promotion or lovelessness or bitterness. Other readers, displeased with us, may perhaps be filled with a certain malicious pleasure that even among the "Old Lutherans" there is no unity; still other readers out of our own midst may be shocked that we did not resist the evil urge when it would have been better to remain quiet about the dissemblance and public dispute or resolve the matter in a different manner.
In opposition to these and other opinions, be they well or ill intented, we must clarify now the following points:
First: God knows and the letters and testimonies within attest that we did not seek honor nor quarrel nor schism; we did not start this dispute without cause; rather we deferred a sufficently long time; we tolerated until we could no longer abide the suppression of our consciences and we could not longer put off the urgings of many of our brothers to deliver the entire matter into publication.
Second, we were forced into this by the circumstances created by Pastor Grabau and his like-minded brothers in ministerial office along with the 18 deputies of their congregations, by the published synodal report of the year 1845 bitterly attacking, insulting and defying our teachings, our ministers and our lives. Now it is our responsibility to make public what we have suppressed in the third year during which time we responded but to no avail! We attempted to see if the prevailing dispute between Pastor Grabau and ourselves could be resolved through mutual agreement, as the reader himself will find in broader context in the last portion of this publication.
Third, we can certify in advance that this dispute does not concern a mere war of words or an insubstantial matter but rather deals with precious and significant truths, which may become unadulturated proofs for the entire church as well at for this time, coming from the sanctifyingly rich influence of God's grace.
Each article of teaching, which will be well treated in this little book, especially concerns the article of the proper relationship of the office of minister to the congregation, of appointment to the office, of ordination, of the spiritual priesthood of all true Christians, of their spiritual freedom, of the custom of good church hierarchy, etc.
It is certainly self-illuminating how important these points of teaching are to each Christian, and how great and desanctifying ignorance or false opinion is, such as is currently prevalent among many debating Christians.
Each point of teaching becomes even more important with regard to the circumstances of the time and the country in which we live.
As it has ever been the case in the history of the Christian Church, so it is also taught in the church history of the present that the office of Christian ministerial office should neither be placed too high or too low. When it is placed too high it becomes quite easy to shift the balance of rights and duties to the side of the clergy over the congregation, establishing an infringement of their Christian freedom, a misuse in the handling of church hierarchy and other evils.
When however the status of the priesthood is placed too low, usually the emphasis shifts to the side of the congregation with a depreciated esteem for the ministry and public service to God, tied together with a proud, separtist existence, an overstepping of Christian freedom, a great hindering in the exercising of spiritual caregiving and church discipline, and thus confusion and all kinds of sectarian disorder.
We, the Saxons of the immigrating Lutheran ministry and community under our leader, the former Pastor Stephan, learned first hand of both of these so-called deviations. We experienced many highly painful incidents because of it and we more or less bore the guilt, but through God's mercy and help we overcame it and now use the experience to our salvation.
Even though a portion of our fellow immigrant congregation members unfortunately has been advised to go in the opposite direction, we have applied ourselves, as our consciences have directed us, with diligence and care to steer ourselves along with the souls entrusted to us ever farther to the proper middle ground, whereby the holy office of minister is in its proper place in the Godly order, neither esteemed too highly nor too lowly, valuing it neither more nor less than God the Lord would have it esteemed in his word and by all the faithful. And in order to better tread this holy middle path and thereby to grow ever more in the proper understanding of the word of God, the true God has delivered to us ever greater light since our immigration in this matter of Christian profession through the writings of his enlightened servant Luther.
And since we should and would serve others now in this light, we believed in truth we should perform a service of brotherly love and communion also to our brother in office in Buffalo and his friends, making him aware of a certain questionable direction which seemed to be prevalent in his pastoral letter.
He took a singular dislike to us and he sent us an appraisal of his own pastoral letter in which he tried to refute and repudiate us
in punishing and threatening earnest. However it would have been a denial of the truth and idle human fear by us if we had allowed ourselves to be intimidated and not let ourselves be moved all the more by love to give our erring brother yet another proof of what we recognized as the injustice in him and had to maintain and defend as precious, hard-won truths against him.
And thus the following negotiations were established, which we now lay before the Christian reader word for word and as written for each to examine. We must thoroughly protest the ways and means in which the battle has been waged against us. It is up to the other side to consider it as a bounty from the all-governing hand of God that in this dispute both opposing sides must arrive at a more meaningful consensus concerning the Christian office of the ministry and the middle ground of truth as completely as we can given our feebleness.
Indeed this is the blessing of all conflicts and disputes in the Christian Church and the hidden widsom of God can bring forth the very sweet fruit of ripened awareness and firmer faith in that He presents truth to the ear of all out of the bitter roots, which evil-intending Satan allows to fester among Christians.
No one should be vexed that we will make this and other disputes public for in the past this was the case in Christianity. Truth can be won through it and we will gladly admit where we have failed and been mistaken in order to allow a better understanding of doctrine if it is worthy of God that we contribute something different to doctrine or be strengthened and empowered through the testimony of voting brothers in our convictions.
We have also not given up on the hope that our opponents, as distant as they are from us at the moment, will turn away from their erroneous path and again draw nearer to our community through the almighty power which can reraise the fallen servant.
And in this hope may we in conclusion deliver a word to the members of the congregations in Buffalo and Wisconsin, who may perhaps come upon these pages and may, we hope, have had the heartfelt desire for some time to hear the other half of the story after having heard so much of the current dispute from only one side, namely that of their pastors:
Without a doubt we stand along with our congregations in a very poor light in your eyes and we have no reason to wonder why, since the majority of you see us as quite dangerous "Innovators and Sectarians, indeed as evil-willing foes of the church and of your pastors." We are also certain you have thus heard us described in the synodal letter of June 25, 1845 issued in the name of your deputies and thus coming from all of you in silent agreement. If some of your previous companions have been disquieted in their consciences over this and asked us for pardon as well as beseeched us for ministers,
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Photocopy of text provided by Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Gettysburg, PA