Pastoral Letter and Correspondence between J. A. A. Grabau and the Missouri Synod: Pages 63 - 67


from God and because of the office, to preach the ministry and teach the gospel of God and administer the blessed sacraments, etc." — Don't you see what kind of teaching according to 2 Timothy 2, 2 is grounded here?

XII. In the Electorate of Saxony Church Agenda of 1580 the ordaining pastor says: "And so I ordain, confirm and establish you according to divine order and decree as a servant and spiritual caregiver to this congregation; with the earnest command that you will preside honorably in true fear of God." Don't you see that here the ordaining, confirming and establishing of the person happens out of divine command and order? — The same church order on p. 105 declares the external ceremony of the laying-on of hands in ordination an extraneous thing but not the ordination itself. However because of the ceremony the impositio manuum or laying-on of hands occurs.

XIII. In the Nuremberg Church Agenda of 1592: "Thus the preaching office, which the Lord Himself established, is installed and ordained, always coming one after the other, through the laying-on of hands and communication of the Holy Spirit unto this hour. It is also the proper consecration, by which one should bless the priests; it's been done this way everywhere and always and it should remain this way; what people have created in the way of other ceremonies have been invented and instituted without necessity by people." Ordination in itself is declared divine order here, which people should retain for all time and everywhere and which is distinguished from ceremonies of human invention.

XIV. In the Pomeranian Church Order and Agenda of 1690 concerning choosing and ordination: "The choosing and the calling are done by the Christian church, which we preachers shall serve, etc. St. Paul commanded in ordination that the Christian bishops and elders must lay hands on no one unless they had been previously tested and interrogated and then singled out and confirmed to the holy preaching office." Further: "God the Lord will have said order maintained, as one sees, when the Holy Spirit pronounced the same concerning them in Jeremiah - those, who come and are not sent out, and those, who break in and allow themselves to be installed without ordination." Further: "Therefore we now want to confirm, according to the customs of the apostles, the men presented for the preaching office, consider God's word over them, invoke God above them and command them with prayer and laying-on of hands to the holy office, that they should remain separate from worldly matters and serve our Lord Christ in the preaching office."

XV. In the witnessing of the ordination, which according to the Pomeranian Church Order should be performed on the new pastors, it states: "Manifestum est, pios episcopos in ecclesia profitente Evangelium Domini nostri Jesu Christi, habere jus et potestatem ordinandi et constituendi presbyteros et ministros Evangelii sicut docent haec dicta Christi et Pauli: 'sicut me misit etc.' Et Paulus Tito Superintendenti ecclesiarum Dei in Creta inquit: 'Te reliqui ibi etc.' Et Timotheo, episcopo Ephesi inquit: 'Nemini cito manus impone etc.'."

Here it is also maintained that righteous faith bishops, which according to the declarations of Christ and Paul are commanded, have the right and the authority to ordain church servants and to mandate and to assign their ministerium tradere or ministerial office. Is it also not taught here that ordination is divine command and order? *

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* Comment - Often the elders think that ordinatio subjecti vocati is a particular expression of successio doctrinalis within the righteous faith church. This is also realized in 2 Timothy 2, 2. Through this, ordination becomes a guarantee of righteous faith and ability to teach; this is continual and requires no repeating, whereas the imparting of full power of authority, which begins in ordination, requires a repetition. Thus ordination becomes an operation, which relied upon the unity of faith: thus the prohibition in 1 Timothy 5, 22, where, if it is overridden, a heretic could easily be insinuated. Return to text


Then it states later in reference to the ceremony at the ordination: "Ritas etiam expresse ab Apostlis traditus est, ut vocati, facta exploratione doctrinae et vitae, oratione et impositione manuum presbyterii ad ministerium ordinentur, segregati a mundo, ad opus propagandi Evangelii, consecrati Deo et sic Ecclesiae facta publica invocatione commendentur."

Here even those things, which have been added in the ordination to the customary rite of the apostles of the church may be omitted since only the rite, not the customs around it, are ordered. I now hope, beloved brother, that you will perceive in all these points of teaching on how the living faith church has maintained these things in praxis throughout the entirety of Germany - how ordination is divine order, instituted by Christ and commanded by the apostles. The external ritual, which accompanies it - laying on one hand, two hands, no hands, etc. - these are considered works of Christian freedom, which one can maintain and also should, but only as ritual and not as command of Christ and the apostles.

No. 5

Our Deliberation on the Refutation by Pastor Grabau

            Reverend Brother in Office!

You have laid so much before us in your voluminous text of July 12th of this year that, with our especially heavy workload, we have been unable to write down our reply since we want to carefully consider your well-intentioned comments. As of now we have considered all submissions to the utmost according to the intelligence God has given us and have called upon God that He may give us the light and the clarity as well as the love and the meekness to respond to your harsh and incorrect charge of guilt, your misinterpretation and corruption of our words with as much calmness as precision. May God bless this task and allow it to succeed to His honor!

First of all you reproach us that in our critique of your pastoral letter we do not fully and sufficiently provide proof from God's word but rather mostly refer to Luther's writings and yet may have falsely and inappropriately applied Lutheran as well as biblical evidence to everything without exception.

We gladly concede to the first point, that we could have secured our well grounded argument more richly with biblical proofs; only why have you provided mere passages of holy scripture in citation where we have given chapter and verse? Why not also give them where we discuss the spiritual priesthood, the persistence of freedom, justification solely through faith, the Berrhoen test, the vigil for all the sanctified, the handling of the body of Christ, brotherly punishment, etc.? — Indeed! We may have considered it unnecessary and arrogant for you, as a preacher of God's word, to first point out in a private letter where all these subjects are discussed in holy scripture. To what extent we have erroneously and falsely referred to the herein cited passages (of which, incidentally, there were two you did not list) will be further indicated in the introduction. — In general, however, it does not deal so much with individual dogmas, which would have been brought to light from God's word,


as much as topics of church practice; therefore we believed that we could not have had a better understanding with a Lutheran brother in office as when we allowed ourselves to discuss the dear teacher, to whom we owe our thanks, for next to God he once again gave us the light of pure gospel and true service to God. We have seen ourselves painfully misled in this, our anticipation, and we must allow ourselves to be reproached by you as much as by the 17 written errors we committed by making Lutheran texts part of norma fidei and sources of church teaching.

Beloved Brother in Office, what shall we say about this? — if one of today's nationalists or union men told us, we would not be surprised; but to hear this reproach from you has, in fact, shocked us. First we must justify ourselves before you because of an omission as we acknowledge with our fathers: "God's word and Luther's teaching never cease?" Before you we must first clarify that we hold God's word as the singular source of all sanctifying truths, however our dear Luther was indeed sent by God to indicate the most highly enlightened prophets, through whom, in these latest times, we have once again been given the pure teaching of God's word more clearly and brightly than what was given by any others? — Or you could accuse him in his grave of error, which he might not have acknowledged and settled a hundred times before his departure? Can you, in the the 12 citations we have laid before you from holy scripture, find anything else as pure biblical truth? — We are truly sorry that you have not found the same truths, which we wanted to prove from them; in the course of this letter it will be shown whether you or we understood Luther correctly; however, you have found truth in your own, ever louder words even in these citations. Why now do you charge us so severely that we call upon this man's texts as a source of truth and pure church teaching? Don't our symbolic books already do this repeatedly? — However just because our Lutheran church teaching is above all else confessionally deposited in these symbols, we have not only merely laid before you Lutheran proofs as addenda of our critique but also connected them with the many proving passages from the symbolic books and thus have not, as you say, discussed the source but rather the sources of Lutheran church teaching, from which we took our refutation of your pastoral letter. — Beloved Brother in Office! You might have misunderstood our argument and now presume to admonish accused people with this: You must not rely on Luther so, for you only refer to his teaching, which you recognize as Christ's teaching!" (Luther's Works, Walch Edition, XX, 136.)

Now in following the order of your anticritique, we might first go to § I. posited reasons to ask: why only Lutherans and other true teachers should be cited in text "cum judicio" so that one properly understands them in themselves? Why isn't this just as necessary with God's word, which all confusers and heretics cite without understanding because they use it sine judicio? Who among us then has the proper judicium; that is, the proper understanding of God's word so truly taught as Luther taught it? Where will we be more carefully and strongly safeguarded and warned not to deviate one bit from God's word or to convey meaning according to individual interpretation as in the Great Reformer's texts? Who else so diligently studies and takes to heart the symbolic books, which were given and constructed on no other grounding than the word of God; according to what source shall he compare and judge everything, including all church orders? And why the warning that one cite these texts "cum judicio"


and compare and judge them with God's word? — Should we not sharpen this warning at least tenfold when one of our own issues a pastoral letter and similar items and should any layman be blamed when he does not subscribe and accept the same in good faith but rather it spins him around ten times and when he doesn't find agreement with God's word and Luther's teaching, his thoughts concerning them are left out in the open?

In § 2. we have two things to point out on the proffered concept of the holy preaching office:

a) Merely in passing we notice in linguistic hindsight that the office, when it is understood not as a concrete item but as an abstract concept, cannot be called a "position" but rather much more an order, which Christ introduced to His church, ordo ecclesiasticus, or a service, ministerium, a power, exousia, a vocation, et. al. 1 Corinthians 16, 15; Acts 1, 25; 2 Corinthians 13, 10; Romans 1, 1 etc.; also see 1 Corinthians 7, 20.

b) is in the words that they "carry the words of their Lord to others," and further in adding "publically", as this word is meant in the XVI Article of the Augsburg Confession, in order partly to exclude self-appointed false preachers and partly to reserve the oral testimony to all Christians because each Christian may and should testify the gospel to others outside of the church service. Concerning this right to grace of all Christians, beloved brother in office, you seem, to our great astonishment, willing to admit nothing. Then in § 3 concerning the posited concept of the spiritual priesthood of all Christians as well as the spiritual offering there is discussion, concerning what is pleasing to God through Christ but no word concerning the godly virtues which the spiritual priesthood should proclaim. The wonderful adage, as it stands in 1 Peter 2, 9, is well cited however in the two following paragraphs (4 and 5) it's again emptied of power and quite falsely again related to the spiritual offering of God so that it's expressly stated that the spiritual priesthood of a person may be merely the personal relationship he has to a forgiving God while the preaching office, which has ordered status from God, has to do with the congregation. Do you really mean that the spiritual priesthood has nothing to do with the congregation? We're almost ashamed of ourselves first for asking you this question and we must remind you of the following numerous bible passages, which you have not cited in your pastoral letter or your recounting of it, so we do so here: Hebrews 3, 13; Jacob 5: 19, 20; 1 Thessalonians 5, 14; Colossians 3, 16; Galatians 6, 1; 1 Thessalonians 4, 18; Ephesians 6, 4; 1 Thessalonians 5, 11; Hebrews 10: 24 - 25; Romans 15, 14. There's the example of Apollo, of Aquila and Priscilla et. al. Among others things the passages from the First Letter to the Corinthians belongs here for it discusses the special gifts of prophecy and tongues, through which each congregation is so wondrously blessed and edified by God; blessed Luther repeatedly cites this passage when he speaks of the spiritual priesthood of all Christians. However, because you merely wish to acknowledge this as a distinction of the first Christian church and we need not necessarily use it for our demonstration, for now we will no longer dwell upon it. But in the proclamation of virtues, of which we understand something different from what you see in them, we shall first offer the passages from Luther's Commentary on the first letter of Peter and his words couldn't be understood any differently from how we understand them: "it belongs to a priest that he is God's messenger and has God's command that he proclaim His word. The virtues, St. Peter states, are the wonderworks, which God has made for us; you shall preach that He brought us out of the darkness into the light - this is the highest priestly office;


and thus your preaching shall be done, that one brother proclaims to the other the powerful deed of God as we have been saved from sin, hell and death, and all misfortune through it and called to eternal life; thus shall you also instruct other people, so they too may come to the light. Thus shall all things be directed that you might recognize what God has done for you and afterwards leaving you with the best work, that you proclaim it openly and everyone is called to the light as you have been called. Where you see people, who do not know, you shall instruct and teach as you have been taught, namely that man must become holy through the virtue and power of God and come from the darkness into the light."

Notwithstanding these words, you will certainly not consider blessed Luther guilty that he may have insulted the preaching office by it or confused the spiritual priesthood with it; we know above all how highly he esteemed the order of God in the church and in public service to God; but even after repeated readings of our previous writings we still have not found a single passage in which we are guilty of even the appearance of such an error. Similarly in your anticritique you indicate that first you must instruct us that the spiritual priesthood and the office of the called servant of Christ are two different things. Indeed! That is already well known to us from the pamphlet by Spener concerning the spiritual priesthood. However we also know from the experience of others and in part from our own experiences that there are often certain false hierarchical tendencies in called servants of Christ whereby they externally suppress rather than advance the spiritual priesthood of their congregations in every spiritual agency and (as we have written you) in a continually anxious manner warn them about its misuse and not teach them about and instruct them in its proper use.

That this is a true misuse we have never denied and we admit that you could have been motivated to give warning and advise caution in you pastoral letter because of your own sad experiences. Indeed it is also truly necessary in all seriousness to warn and to stand guard, lest Satan serve up disorder and confusion here; to this end we are preachers in that we watch and advise, punish and draw boundries wherever they are necessary as the holy apostles must have turned their attention in Corinth so that the people would remain on the proper path. However the proper usage of the spiritual priesthood should still not be suspended and the teaching, which lies in the above cited passages, should not be kept quiet but rather taught to us all the more that one might properly proclaim the virtues of God and place himself in service to other souls. And what righteous shepherd of souls would not rejoice when an Eldad and Medad were there to prophesize and to call out with Moses: "May God will it, that everything be prophesized to people of the Lord and the Lord will extend His spirit over them!" Numbers 11, 29. — More on this another time, and we gladly concede to the wish that a practiced feather — also for our congregations in America — shall demonstrate through special treatment the boundries between the spiritual office and the spiritual priesthood and extol praise upon both with unbridled joy and clarity according to God's word.

With § 6. we have the following remarks: We have not disputed that baptism and holding mass may also be called an office however you call it the "priestly portion" of the pastoral office. You justify this expression when you say that you would consider the administration of the holy sacrament a service of the high priest in the office of Christ, who gave Himself up to the cross and now distributes Himself to those receiving the sacrament; however even this clarification increases our concern about this expression in that 1) God's word


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

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks