Pastoral Letter and Correspondence between J. A. A. Grabau and the Missouri Synod: Pages 48 - 52


would cease being Lutheran and would be called nothing other than a gang of mutineers. The pastoral letter merely intended to show how church vocation was maintained in most of Germany without insisting that each act in itself belongs to the divine ordering, where it is derived, for example, that even with the choosing and installation of a minister within a local congregation it is done in the presence of Christian authority as a nutrix ecclesiae [ecclesiastic foster-mother]; I gladly concede that it might have been better for the sake of clarity not to merely take excerpts from the church orders but to immediately separate them into human and divine order and put each in its place under a proper heading.

§ 5. It is incorrect and false that you call the old Lutheran church writings printed ministerial tutoring, for they have never been this in and of themselves and I would rather have them rightly called: conscientious, evangelical, fatherly provisions, as St. Paul says of his tending in 2 Corinthians 11, 28; the abusive, suppressing and police-like dominating organism came later, especially since the raising of the German Kaiserdom, subsequent to which a political transformation of Germany occurred. Then each land in the German war confederacy attempted to come to a particular political apex and because of it at the same time the Lutheran church was forced to be silent in political-ecclesiastic submissiveness to one or other State authority; the church committed its own sins in that since 1770 preachers and congregations allowed non-believers to gain ground. Just as the Lutheran church of Germany was forced into slavery to the state, so now the devil in America attempts to do the same thing with the individual congregations through lack of restrain in the churches, and the free political composition of our country assists in this because it is misused. Here in America for more than 100 years one sect or gang has risen after another, therefore it is good and necessary to preach the proper Christian freedom for all time but it is just as necessary to point out the limits of the individual's Christian freedom with regard to the entirety of church orders and especially to warn of the abuse of political freedom because here it is so easy for anyone to establish his own standard. There are no congregations of Lutheran-faith churches known to us, which have stood in slavelike fear before their spiritual caregivers and there are no such congregations and church members among us. Only the gangs and the confused souls fear our teaching because they are grounded in God's word; it is for this reason that much effort is expended to cast suspicion upon them.

§ 6. We extol the praises of no man, even Luther, and much less Sts. Peter and Paul; rather we hold to the word of God in norma fidei and faith that we remain within the ordering of the ministerial office, as it was maintained by the apostles and their students and the congregations of the New Testament, and as it will for our part properly care for His church and that God Himself may and will care for his church; are we not inclined to allow ourselves to take only a certain portion of these orders when we might be reprimanded by you and by our sectarians as if we wanted to protect the church beyond the realm of pure gospel, but still within the scope of the ministerial office and with roof-work outside of the ordering, or dressing the congregation in iron corsets, God's word is written and remains


with us through teaching in all things; it doesn't just teach law and gospel and righteousness through our Lord Jesus Christ but it tells us, based on this gospel grounding, which order concerns God's order in the appointment of the holy ministerial office and what God finds pleasing. Through this ordering God wants to give his church capable preachers and protect it from incapable ones. By disregarding this ordering the church has become full of perverted and incapable shepherds. Our faith concerning other external orders, which may be categorized as mediated things, is found in the 15th Article of the Augsburg Confession and we may gladly concede that each congregation may use the old and valid church orders according to the circumstances in which they find themselves, however we consider it dangerous to pay too little attention to the old orders and to consider oneself capable of introducing innovations.

To the Fourth and Fifth Part of the Pastoral Letter

Advice and Admonition

§ 1. Concerning emergency baptism the church has always taught that one should not rush this. May it always remain within the power of a father, in the absence of a church servant, to administer it after a few days or a week or a longer period of time: it is still correct that the church unto the time of profession in which we currently live, recommends, if possible, waiting for the arrival of a church servant, as we Lutheran pastors have never avoided traveling even under the greatest danger of persecution; and the true members of the church in Prussia have maintained this attitude and God has sent the parents with this attitude much grace and comfort and to the children God has sent many gracious proofs, thus the harmony of the baptism ritual and the oneness of the entire church is maintained.

§ 2. The postponement of wedding is only advised in the pastoral letter under the condition that it is possible. If according to our old church orders it's supposed to be possible for a widower to wait at least half a year before remarrying, then why shouldn't it be possible in most cases for the wedding to wait another month until one can expect the arrival of a church servant. However the church blessing given through the ministerial office before the full congregation after the betrothal has already taken place before witnesses is not recommended as a binding matter for conscience but as an expression of the profession to the church in opposition to existent gangs. It is also written that the Lord will bless pious couples from Zion, not from the activity of sects. Psalm 128. May the faithless sectarians have their couplings as they will; true and righteous faith Christians stand by the church.

§ 3. Concerning Attentiveness to Teaching and Deliberations on It. Each true Christian has and acknowledges his universal vocation, to distinguish false and true teaching; and thus for the sake of his sanctity he should watch for false teaching; our preachers should also do this for the sake of their sanctity. The pastoral letter does not discuss this. Besides this universal Christian vocation, which we all have received in holy baptism, there is, according to God's ordering, ordained vocation, which church servants receive from God


so that they, as called and ordained shepherds and teachers within the church, shall pay attention to teachings and not fall to false teaching. See 1 Timothy 1: 3, 4 and 4: 13 - 16; Romans 12, 7; 1 Timothy 6: 3 - 5; 2 Timothy 2: 25 - 26, 14 and 15 and 4: 2 - 5; Titus 1: 9, 10 and 2, 10; Matthew 7,15; John 10: 4, 5; Acts 20: 29, 31.

Universal Christian vocation will be honored and esteemed just as much as ordained vocation. In the case of a heresy arising or if there is at least some difficulty concerning teaching
a) each Christian is responsible for guarding himself against false teachers, not believing in any spirit that comes along and not allowing himself to become involved with varied and strange doctrine; on the other hand
b) each servant of Jesus Christ's ministry is a shepherd called by God and a watchman of the church in his district and area; he is responsible for the discovery of strange teaching from God's word and its public disputation, the defending of proper teaching from God's word without the use of physical weapons. 1 Corinthians 10: 3 - 8.
c) Now if turmoil and dispute spread so far around you that other or many congregations are endangered by it, thus involving the needs and the welfare of the entire church, the teachers of the church, and other enlightened and trusted people assembled in the name of the entire church, may discover the general error out of God's word and defend true teaching and warn all congregations to remain true to the same, as, for example, the apostles and the preacher did in Jerusalem in Apocalypse 15.

The pastoral letter only handles the case, which was introduced by us, namely that Christians go too far in the first named universal Christian vocation, that is, becoming presumptuous and impertinent. The letter only shows that this universal Christian vocation, if it will stand in honesty, must proceed in the proper church order, as it is described in the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession, where we find that a statement must first be shown as incorrect from God's word, by ecclesiastic means, before open measures can be taken against it by individual members of the church. Such measures occurred, for example, among our mutiny-minded gangs against the old Saxon cathechism (which was used in the schools), before any decision was reached, that the supposed errors of the cathechism should be proven from God's word within the church ordering. More than anything they wanted me, as their pastor at the time, and the church committee to immediately accept their opinion as true. The Confession says: if the bishops establish something that it against the gospel, the church shall not follow them. Now this has come to mean: if they establish something, it apparently follows that it must first be proven by ordinary means whether they are establishing something, which is contrary to the gospel. Thus when a church member, as for example Roggenbuck, Dreyer, Zion etc. upsets this order, presumes to become a self-appointed judge, not merely to declare the teaching of the church false but at the same time to raise up his own deep understanding of a point of doctrine, which is contrary to healthy church confession, there is no better advice to give him and the entire alarmed congregation than to hand over to them the decision, that is, the public, ministerial investigation, deliberation and decision concerning the teaching, as it pertains to the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession, whereby the entire matter proceeds in the church ordering. In any event a shepherd and teacher of a congregation must, where such a presumptive atmosphere arises, retain the right to earnestly warn of this forwardness,


demonstrate the truth from God's word and provide proof of it in the symbols of the church and the church orders, in order at the very least to maintain the unseduced portion of the congregation in the ways and beliefs of the church. A Lutheran preacher, who would give up this right, would be objectionable to God! Hebrews 13, 17. It is all the more tragic when there are Lutheran preachers who would assail their brother in office in such divine rectitude and duty, to test him with suspicion and instead of admonishing him and offering the comfort of encouragement, happily continue in the defense of the truth, discouraging him, unashamedly expressing the opinion with words and feather that their brother in office is going too far. That is deeply distressing and proof that the holy zeal for the house of the Lord is being poorly heeded with such people! that they have still not found themselves in the right battle, and indeed do not yet know what a shepherd and teacher has to do in the church of Jesus Christ! Now whoever in our congregation would quarrel with his spiritual caregiver and will not suffer that he has transgressed God's word, the symbols and the church orders, indeed has stepped on God's word, the symbols, the church orders, the cathechism, even Luther's writings, at the same time praising them although he has twisted them in his head in order to correspond to his own affairs; let one observe how he answers for it: we have nothing to do with them, and whoever takes such people under his protection, see if he doesn't ultimately protect the poor devil himself.

For this reason, my worthy gentlemen and friends, permit me this indulgence, so that I, as a brother in Christ with whom you, as you yourselves say, still wish to stand in similar office and work of the Lord, might observe that up to this point you still stand off course in your unlutheran direction, especially with the false perverting of Luther's writings. However in my efforts to be helpful, I will show in the following first appendix the true sense of all of your previously introduced passages from Luther's writings; in the second I will count up and draw together all your mistakes.

First Appendix

Concerning the proper and true Sense of all introduced passages from Luther's Writings

§ 1. The proofs for Part I, a, b and c are from Luther's letter to the councillors and the congregations of Prague in Bohemia and state: He who has the preacher's office also has the office to administer the sacraments; however he may restrict himself to preaching alone and leave baptism and other under-offices to others. Holy Luther thus does not call baptism an under-office because it was singled out as was preaching, but merely because baptism and the eucharist are based upon the word of God and through the power of the word become sacrament; since they are sacraments through the almighty word of God, they are no less the same office as the office of the word. — If the sacraments were such and in themselves less, then one could leave them to others, who are not preachers; but Luther did not want to say that. Concerning Psalms 110, Luther declares: gospel-preaching is the proper priestly office, for it is a preaching of God's grace and the forgiveness of sins,


as it was hard-won by the high priest Jesus Christ. This is called the proper priestly office of the New Testament, the command and office for which is given, owned and delivered by Christ as opposed to the papal priests of offering. Here Luther does not mainly discuss Christian preaching office, as the pastoral letter does, but merely the preaching of the gospel; the preaching of law is also not thought of here. For that you may wish to consult what Th. 1, § 6 says.—

§ 2. The proof for No. 2 is from Luther's text "Example, to be ordained by a proper Christian Bishop." Here Luther maintains:
a) that it is not determined by the good morality of the one performing the ordination.
b) that it is not determined by proper choosing by the church.
c) that the ordination, when the choosing by the church is correct, thus remains right and powerful regardless of whether the person performing the ordination is an angel or a devil - "and thus the ordained remains properly ordained." Luther in no way teaches that ordination may, in and of itself, not be necessary.

§ 3. No. 3 is from Luther's text "Ways to hold Christian Mass." Here Luther states: It may not be fitting to encumber Christian conscience with laws and commands. The text arranges nothing conclusive concerning these things; it permits the freedom of the spirit to ascertain its meaning according to time, place and people. With texts and examples of the fathers one need not prove this ordering (to hold mass), for there are things not known and what is known or somewhat known is not sufficient to draw conclusions and we certainly do not know whether these things were of one sort or another, whether they were applied through law or necessity, and whether we should follow these examples.

§ 4. Luther wishes it known that the church orders, as good as they might be, should be quickly abolished if through misuse there results a disadvantage to faith and love. All this also finds no application in the pastoral letter;
a) it does not concern the misuse but rather the total non-use of the church orders, and
b) it requires no misuse of the church orders, rather only the proper attention and righteous love of them. Furthermore in our entire church existence no "if" or misuse has yet to enter the picture. We shall remain steadfast to the proper customs in which we, praise God! currently stand. You, however, stand far away from the proper customs.

§ 5. No. 5 is taken from Luther's interpretation of the 8th Psalm. Here Luther states: it is God's calling when a call to ministerial office is sent out and received, which runs beyond, and indeed contrary to, one's will, and is then confirmed by the authority of the superiors, be they spiritual or worldly. People should not despise someone who seeks the office out of godly and good intentions, 1 Timothy 3, 1. Here Luther does not discuss the order of the installation into office but the life conduct leading to it; and above all else one can also find an indication of God's will when a person, without announcing himself, is drawn to the office. If one were to consider such a person merely as being God's chosen, then one could not consider it being called by God, for a person to proclaim the office for himself and thereafter be properly ordained.

Comment - In the words of Luther I used at the close of the first part of the pastoral letter, Luther discusses above all else the means of the calling, which the apostles and disciples had themselves maintained, and said that it must remain so. This is a) proper election by the congregation, b)


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Photocopy of text provided by Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Gettysburg, PA

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks