Pastoral Letter and Correspondence between J. A. A. Grabau and the Missouri Synod: Pages 83 - 87


"medium of service" (for ministery). It remains forever true: When it is asked in general, how does God deal with us, the answer must be, through His word He may proclaim it, or Moses wrote it, or it was given to us to hear and to read by an angel or through men or some other way, or it is written in our hearts through His spirit; let it suffice that as it was said in the Walch edition of the Smalkaldic Articles, 327 that we "should and must persevere, for God does not wish to deal with us men directly but rather through his external word and sacrament." However now comes the question: How does God impart this means to grace to us and thus deal with us in an orderly way? The answer is: through His ordained preaching office. But we should not place the value of this office so high that we might call the sanctifying of the faithful "a work of the office," as you call it; thus St. Paul states in Ephesians 4, 12 that the office might have been instituted pros ton kataftiomon ton eis ergos diskonias; that is, et fideles, qui prae ceteris idonei sunt, instituantur, ut et illi aliquando ecclesiae praeesse possint (Luke, Osiander). Hardly will you find in any commentary another clarification in print and least of all will yours be found.

Ad §2. We object to it here with the following seven points:

1. The anticritique scarcely clarifies properly that the office may not bring about the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the eucharist; however it is and remains false that God has bound this presence to the office of the called householder; for God has given the entire church the preaching office as well as the keys and the holy sacraments.

2. We have correctly cited in Hebrews 4, 12 that the word is powerful unto itself, even without the office.

3. Our pertinent citation from Luther is just as appropriate here; Luther speaks here not merely of morally unworthy persons as you have falsely and incorrectly declared; rather — if you would please reconsider the ciation you will not be able to deny that he makes declarations concerning "consecrated and unconsecrated" persons, that they truly and essentially administer the sacrament. —

4. Likewise it is understood that God will have order in his church and that those not installed to the office shall not distribute the sacrament because they (as Luther, Hutter, Balduin, et. al. cite in reason) have no mandate to it and therefore should not produce disorder. And although Tillem, Hessbusius excludes a case of need, we still did not embrace this exception, rather in our critique we referred to the promise of the word, with which one, who may not have the sacrament, must be satisfied.

5. In No. XII we are charged with an alleged error for no reason, "that we have negated the office in the sacrament." No, we even acknowledge it with the Prussian United preachers so long as they do not say: "we are assembled in the name of the king, separated in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" however we consider their sacrament false, we consider it mere bread and wine because they have professed falsely about it.

6. It was quite unworthily put, that we merely "beat around" the words of investiture. God forbid, but you, dear brother in office, might had done that more when you would reproach us for it!

7. Luther doesn't say one word about any housefather, who would administer the sacrament to his household, would not distribute the body and blood of Christ; he only says he might not and thus any citation is appropriate for what we wanted to say.

What is further established in the third part of your pastoral letter, § 1 and 2, we have already responded to. In § 3 we encountered a strong petitio principii, as if we


were of the opinion that the ecclesiastic misconduct of a congregation is justified and rectified when that same congregation, in its misconduct with the choosing of a preacher, would test the spirit, call upon God and hear God's word. We do not consider it misconduct for a congregation in its time of need to exercise its right and choose a preacher within the Christian ordering because it wishes to hear God's word, call upon God, test the spirit, etc. And if there have been blunders committed in this ordering, the vocation of one not favored by God may still be valid until such time as the blunder is recognized and rectified (vocatio non recto sed rate, just as it is in so many previous circumstances.) In § 4 a righteous compromise is included, which should have been in the pastoral letter, a goodly portion of our critique would have been omitted and thus also that part would have been superfluous in this current text, that being what we had to say concerning the defense of our antithesis in regard to Christian freedom, which you have so incorrectly interpreted in your anticritique. — As you say, you gladly admit "that it might have been better for the sake of clarity not merely to take excerpts from the church orders but to sharply distinguish the human from the divine and place everything under its rubric." If we could not place ordination under the rubric of the divine, as you do it, then we would finally come to one of the important points, wherein we would understand ourselves and be united in the truth that the human, which is contained within the church orders, must necessarily be sharply separated from that which is commanded by God through His word.

Why (might we ask) have you not grasped this truth with § 12 of the first part of your anticritique, for we have confronted you with nothing other that truth from Luther's writings and the symbolic books? Why do you accuse us of ecclesiastic disunity in that we have set before you nothing other than simple conclusion reached out of truth, that man may create no conscience-binding command out of mere human ordering through which damage to Christian freedom and the righteousness of faith occurs? And so we could demonstrate to that your self-proclaimed truths lead to other important deductions, which you would also have to admit are necessary if you are serious about each admission; however, in order not to expand this text too broadly, we would settle with one of the consequences, which we must continue to discuss: that is, if each truth stands firm, then a congregation does not "cease to be of the Lutheran church" when it does not consider this or that human order absolutely necessary. Since your pastoral letter seems not to want to tolerate this and other consequences, then we consider it quite appropriate to show you the pertinent citation from Luther's work wherein the freedom of the Christian congregation is pointedly maintained in contrast to all applied human and priestly regulations.

In § 5 we could scarcely resist once again expressly discussing the rebuff under No. XIII; here our alleged errors are presented to us as though we had called the old Lutheran church constitution suppressing ministerial guardianship. Where, where did we say that? Have you considered our words totally out of their context? Haven't we been sufficiently clear in discussing the "yoke of conscience and the human service," which currently in Germany condemns the poor congregations as a people damned, knowing nothing of the law,


having to be guided by its ecclesiastic superiors in the most important of churchly concerns and left swaying in the wind of this and that doctrine? We did not speak a single word against the old Lutheran constitution per se, we only spoke of the dreadful abuse, which you, more than we, have sketched and described in this section. — If you had also described the opposite a little more broadly, how good our congregations here in America could have it when they no longer follow the foreign voice but rather the certain shepherds, whom they have recognized as true and righteous and whom they no longer have to fear as slaves but rather properly love and honor for the sake of the word and in communion with them guard and care for what is best for the church and its descendents and build on the old ground of Lutheran teaching and old church practice undisturbed, — if you would have considered all these things further, you certainly would have agreed with our declaration without distrust. Under No. XIV concerning our supposed errors you throw a new stone at us, saying that we could not have the proper concept of the holy preaching office "because we have turned the church, established by God with shepherds and teachings, into beneficent friends for the congregations, who should merely stand in gratitude before their benefactors." We have read repeatedly through our critique concerning this rebuke and we have never found this expression. Indeed we have said that "when we would properly preach the freedom of Christian men in a good, Lutheran, faith fortifying manner, then certainly all, who believe in the word, will gladly and willingly accommodate themselves to human ordering and will no longer live in slavish fear of the teaching and the shepherds, as lords over conscience, but in childlike gratitude, honored and esteemed as assistants to their sanctity and as messengers in Christ's place." Further on we stated concerning our brother in office Walther that many of his former opponents are not his "best friends." Now we ask you:
a) Is there something wrong when we have called the preachers beneficent friends of the congregations? They certainly shouldn't be enemies, however
b) where did we call them that? and
c) where, where have we still said that they should "merely" be beneficent friends of the congregations? — Surely you must be blushing about your perpetual twisting and slandering of our words? Haven't we expressly called the preachers in each context "assistants of sanctity and messengers in Christ's place?" And when Walther's opponents become his best friends, mustn't you rejoice over it and find this circumstance entirely Christian as in Acts 19, 31 and 27, 3 even the congregation members of the great apostle Paul were called his friends and John (in Epistle III, 15) was greeted as "friend." And shouldn't people stand in childlike gratitude before their spiritual friends? Would you rather have mere respect? Haven't we spoken of "sheer" gratitude in the same sentence with "honor and esteem?"

We are in more pain and astonishment over your unjust rebukes than we want to be and return in § 6 to the place where you come closer to us and must make a concession, that we scarcely could have anticipated, namely that above all else each congregation must adapt the old church orders "according to its individual circumstances." This is just what we mean and have already spoken of with Thessalonians I, 12! If you had understood us when, with a slight adjustment of the old Lutheran church orders, we wanted to transform anew the life and requirements of our congregations, then we well understand how you could find this


"dangerous" in the context of this section, but how you could find it erroneous and sinful (sub No. XV) we do not understand. The first thing you should have done was wait to see which new orders we made and whether they contradicted the old ones and whether they were unchristian and contrary to God's word. It has never occurred to us to lay the old Lutheran church orders by the wayside and when we have said that a church order was to be developed to suit the life and needs of the congregations and to be accomplished with their participation and consent, we only wanted to say, as was already mentioned: a) that the congregation first be instructed in the correct principles, brought to understanding of its spiritual priesthood and Christian freedom and taught how to distinguish between divine and human matters; b) that, as you yourself have admitted, the resources and circumstances of the congregation are to be weighed to determine what and how many of the old Lutheran church orders (there are more than 350 of these little guiding lights in the Bibliotheca symbolica) are appropriate and healthy for it; in our congregations people come together from various lands; if some want to live by the order they had in their homeland, what do we do then? They must also incorporate themselves in a spirit of unity to an order, which extracts the best and the most appropriate out of the old, and something new may even be included, however nothing which is contrary to the word of God.

We finally come to the last part of your anticritique and say to § 1 that in cases of emergency baptism should be administered immediately; the church has never taught otherwise. In § 2 we notice that no church order is known to us, according to which church consecration has to be administered to a couple, who has already married without a preacher. It's understood, however, that those who circumvent church consecration without need, or are contemptuous of it, are either to be placed under church censure or regarded as separatists. — In § 3 we speak more assertively and positively than unfortunately the pastoral letter itself; it is the right and duty of every Christian to deliberate upon false and proper teaching and even to judge it in so far as he may be able to distinguish between the true and the false and protect himself from the latter. You declared that you did not deny this in the pastoral letter where you said: "that the congregation would not remain obscured by false doctrine." How much is conceded by this! and how much often remains hidden about the fine poison of heresy even on righteous, simple Christians when they have not paid enough attention! Thus how carefully and often all the prophets, Christ and the apostles warn about false teaching, how seriously and emphatically they admonish - beware, watch, test, etc. lest one impart false gospel or even allow himself to be betrayed by Satan in the guise of the angel of the light! Above all St. Paul fears that this satanic phantom would remain hidden to the highly enlightened Corinthians and their sense of simple faith in Jesus Christ might be perverted! (2 Corinthians 11, 3; compare with Jeremiah 4, 14; 8, 8; 14, 14; 23, 15 - 17; Matthew 7, 15; 24, 24; John 10, 4 - 5; Galatians 1, 6 - 9; Colossians 2, 8; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 2, 18; 4, 1. Brother Judas and many, many other warnings and admonitions.) Because in the pastoral letter you have said nothing of this duty of the congregations, which is enjoined with this and other passages and with the two sections, Acts 20, 28 and 1 Timothy 4, 16, the individual attention paid to the teacher and the lessons at the same time is represented as coming only to the preachers, still more specifically to judge teaching according to the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession in regard to the preacher, thus it was entirely our duty, as already shown


in our critique, to make you aware that you erred in it and we still do not regret that we had laid before you in evidence our antithesis with each conclusive citation from Luther. We want to be judged in our words according to these citations; nothing more, but also nothing less than what dear Luther says here, we also want to have said. Thus we have a) in no way and with no writings in regard to called shepherds deny the right and the duty to judge teaching, rather we have merely said that it does not belong to them alone. b) In no way and with no writings have we disputed the order according to which in times of doctrinal disputes the congregations shall resort to righteous teaching or public church assemblies; we also expressly state here that a Christian or a congregation, while in deliberation, shall not draw upon the authority of one body, even a rightous faith person, or a college or a council; rather he shall subjugate himself to the word of God alone, from which the determination is clearly and evidentially demonstrated. The best teachers and councils have committed errors. c) In no way and with no writings have we said that a preacher shall not punish erroneous spirits, disturbers of the peace and the contrary in his congregation, rather our words expressly state that "conspicuous non-cleric judgments and impertinent interference into the public teaching office must be punished." However to make a decision in the Roggenbuck matter, we have to hear the other side too.

Using this explanation it seems clear and correct that even under No. XVI our alleged errors have brought us unjustified rebukes yet we are blameless, and we must declare it a lie when you say that we devalued the preaching office in a deliberation on teaching and significantly denied its right on the pretext of placing the congregations above God and his word and sinfully misusing the writings of blessed Luther.

Even so, we are not scared by your invectives and slander under No. XVII, for 1) we know well what is written in Matthew 18, 17 0 18; 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2; 2) however we also know that with the words "Tell it to the Congregation!" the preachers and teachers are not excluded and concerning this we have not maintained each of the sections of the 1841 established rights of the congregation as though the congregations "hand over their rights to their spiritual caregiver."

It would do well to relate much more to you on this and even to add a punitive critique concerning what you have stated in No. IV of the last part of your pastoral letter, where one should indeed anticipate something quite different after the words "grant it, even if it were the case" (namely that even if sometimes an injustice occurred in the church discipline;) — we will and must break here and in conclusion say to you the following:

You had said in your pastoral letter: "Where you believe that I err, show it to me with fraternal words." This we have done in our critique, and God knows and our text proves that we have taken you to task in a fraternal and friendly manner and have attempted and wished nothing other than an understanding and mutual unity in the truth; you have responded back to us to such an extent that your errors appear ever clearer with each day and the bonds of our commonality are as unravelled as ever. We have asked you to show us the proper sources where we have strayed from the truth. In all, we consider ourselves confident in the decision of each unbiased, pious Christian, who reads your anticritique and our above defense to determine whether you have been able to prove any error to us or whether you have not produced much more contrary to the truth and have committed violence and injustice to our words one time after another. And


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

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks