but rather with superabundant power that is God's and not our own.
Therefore, beloved brother in office, let us carefully and diligently endeavor before anything else to properly investigate and preach the public and pure gospel of the free grace of God and to give God alone the honor, that He would and will place his church under his almighty protection through this, His word, even in these latest, perilous days against the gates of hell. If He does not do this and does not give spirit and power to His word, then we ourselves can accomplish nothing with the teaching of God's pure word and, I fear, with the tending of our ministry or the framework of external orders. That He may grant this, not to abandon His church, indeed that all will be completely and solely as it need be as He promised when He spoke: "Behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world."
Indeed, just as God is not a god of disorder, so He teaches us all things, as already mentioned, in His word even these things, that in His congregations all shall proceed honorably and orderly and thus human ordering is a good yet extraneous thing, not to be despised but also not to be turned into a necessarily iron pattern and garment but rather it should evolve and develop according to the lives and means of the congregations and with regard to individual activity and consent, indeed in each and every point correspond to circumstances. Therefore we are well pleased with the advice, admonitions and orderings in the next to last portion of your pastoral letter and with the directions concerning certain church customs in the last section since in their way they are appropriate to circumstance and for the most part not expressly commanded.
Concerning the content of the letter, we still have a few things to mention, for example, that according to the already introduced testimony of Luther, a housefather should not delay, if his child is in danger of dying, in administering baptism (if there is no servant of the church available); further, it may certainly be difficult, because of the lack of a marrying preacher, to advise the postponement of a marriage or even to make the priestly blessing a retroactive, requirement if it is not, as the sacred book teaches, specifically requested. Finally for us the most important point is this, that you, dear brother in office, seem to pay attention to the teacher and the doctrine but entirely dismiss the decisions concerning teaching by the congregations; you seem to regard only those in ministerial office. We have already drawn your attention to this in a previous letter but your answer did not completely satisfy us. It still remains certain that not only is the congregation included in the teacher's words of warning "Pay attention to yourselves" and pay attention to the teacher, but it is of the greatest necessity if you do not wish to fall into the hands of the wolves and false doctrine; secondly it is proclaimed in the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession "judge teaching" does not merely pertain to the functions of the bishop's office or the subject of regulated appointment of worldly bishops and in no way does it discuss the exclusion of the congregations from duties and rights. How could it be that the congregations are similarly warned that when the bishops do not properly administer their offices they will have to look to themselves and should not obey them? Openly unspiritual courses of action and impertinent interference in the public office of teaching must always be punished,
but on the positive side, proper spiritual courses of action, the Berrhoen test, the vigil for all things holy, the reciprocal hand reaching for the body of Christ, punishing and reproaching, whereby the preacher or the laymen exhibits a bitter root, are not merely tolerated or permitted (as one understands it), but also cultivate and add to it with all earnestness and zeal so it may be properly applied to the exercise of the spiritual priesthood. And Luther knows it even better when he says: "Professing and directing the course of teaching belongs to each and every Christian; and thus anyone is damned who misdirects that right even by the width of a hair. For Christ Himself has ordained this right in unimpreachable and many passages of scripture: e.g. Matthew 7 - Beware false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing. He certainly says these words concerning the teachers to the people and advises them that they should avoid their false doctrine. But how can they avoid them if they do not recognize them? And how can they recognize if they do not have the power to judge? He not only gave them the power to judge but advised them to do so, thus these passages are sufficent against all popes, all fathers, all councilors, all school proverbs, which have granted the right to judge and decide merely to the bishops and the clerics; in a godless and church-stealing manner the people, who are the church, the queen, have been robbed. With regard to this Christ stands up and says: "Beware false prophets!"
"Almost all the messages of the prophets agree on this point. Do prophets do anything other than warn people not to believe in false prophets? What is this warning if not a demonstration that the people have the power to judge and to recognize? What is it if not proclamation and assurance that the people have to pay attention to their actions and stand on guard for all time with regard to teachings from all their priests and teachers? Thus we conclude here: as often as Moses, Joshua, David and all the prophets repeated and warned the people about false prophets in the law, so too they cried, prayed, announced and confirmed this same right of the people to judge and to recognize. However they didn't do this in innumerable districts. Didn't our Henry (that is, Henry VIII, King of England, to whom this composition was sent) or a shameful Thomist have something to say about it? Haven't we shut the mouth of those, who discuss injustice? Let us again consult the New Testament. As Christ says in John 10: My sheep hear my voice; but they do not hear the strangers' voices, rather they flee from them. Doesn't He make the sheep judges and confer the right of recognition upon the listener? Likewise with St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14: One calls, the other judges; however when it becomes apparent to the one who is sitting, the first one becomes silent. Doesn't he make the listener a judge? Thus what Christ says in Matthew 24 and other places about false teaching; what Sts. Peter and Paul say about false apostles and masters; and what St. John prays for concerning the testing of the spirit: Everything else proceeds when the people have the power to judge, to test, to condemn; so it is with all rights. Therefore each man believes rightly or falsely at his own peril. Thus each individual must also take care
"that he believes rightly; there exists a communal human understanding and a need for sanctity, which makes it necessary for the listener to judge teaching. Was this written for no reason: Test everything and retain what is good. Or similarly: the spiritual man judges everything and is led by no one. Each Christian is spiritual, deriving his spirituality from Christ. Everything is yours, He speaks, be it Apollo, Paul or Cephas; that is, you have the power to judge over all words and deeds." Luther's Work, Walch Edition, Volume XIX, p. 424.
And in other places Luther says about it: "If the sheep didn't know beforehand that they should flee from the wolves until they were told to do so by the wolves through their Christian councils and public trials, then the sheep pens would be empty and the shepherd would find neither milk, cheese, butter, wool, meat nor hooves and he'd have no sheep left to protect. Then what would Christ, our Lord have created if He had intended and told us to protect ourselves from the wolves without being harried by the wolf-councils? Not just the herd but each and every sheep has the right and the power to flee before the wolves, using whatever means it can. John 10: My sheep flee the strangers." Ibid, Volume XVII, p. 140
You have recently asked if we might give at some time a detailed exposition on the points of difference briefly indicated by your letter. We have done so in this current letter in our feeble way in so far as God has granted us the grace. We wait in anticipation to hear from you as well as from Pastor Krause so that both of you will point us to the proper sources where we are confused but wherever we testify to the truth it will unite us ever closer to the fundamentals.
May Pastor Krause not think ill of us that we have not yet answered his last letter, sent from Perry County. Let what is written here be considered our response to him. — We would still be happy to discuss several things with him, for example, whether he makes a distinction between schism and sect (or gang) and what the difference is? But we must defer this until another time and many of these points will resolved themselves, we have no doubt, as we come to understand one another more closely in fraternal unity. We do not fear that you will accuse us of self-promotion once you know just how sick we were under Stephan's previous hierarchical direction, which we now recognize through the mercy of our God and which impels us to act so that also we may warn others, like children who have been burnt, and at the very least we will not deny that many things have opened up before our eyes, which we previously held for true and proper, but now we see are not. One the other hand we gladly confess that, in retrospect, we perceived many things wrong and false in other Lutheran, non-union brothers in faith, who wanted to stand united with us when they were good and right; thus we ask the two of you, dear brothers, that you might continue on your part
to truly help us, with the gifts God has given you, with advice, comfort and warning so that we, if not through personal contact then through written communication, may apply ourselves diligently to maintaining the unity in spirit through bonds in peace and one helping the other to carry the burden.
May God help us, that the proper situation and the righteous peace may also be accomplished in Wisconsin and everything, which currently exists to divide us, may be united into a spirit of truth! I hope that you, beloved ministerial brother Krause, with God's help, will carry out your plan to pay us a friendly visit and at least speak once with our friend and your neighbor, Brother Walther, who incidentally has had a great deal of trouble with separatists and has had to let many, very many things pass in patience, prudence and love; he too has taken his stand against the bitterest of enemies so that in the end the most decisive evidence of the word of God and the truest and best church teaching may prevail, so that many of his enemies may become his best friends and once the obstinate ones are driven off a wonderful, ever clearer relationship may be established between himself and his congregations, in which the ministry is highly honored and acknowledged in its unalienable rights with freer conviction and on the other hand the congregation, in its proper attitude towards the pastor, is strengthened in the acquired knowledge of its true right to grace and thus church judgment is exercised on both sides, which has been very instructive and edifying for me and my brother in office, Gruber. -------------
May all be as the true God has commanded! May He be and remain our council, our comfort, our power and strength! Amen.
Greetings to your beloved congregations with our love and commending ourselves to your further requests, I sign myself along with my brothers in office, and as I can assure, in the spirit and sense of our absent beloved brother, Keyl,
Your truly united friend and colleague in the work of the Lord,
Gotthold Heinrich Löber,
in conjunction with his two brothers in ministerial office
C. F. Gruber and C. F. W. Walther
St. Louis, July 3, 1843
Pastor Grabau's considered Refutation of our Previous Critique
Buffalo, July12, 1844
Respected and Beloved Brothers!
Your critique of my pastoral letter is in my hands for almost a year now and for nearly half a year the response or anti-critique has been complete without my being able to transcribe or send it. I'll get to it now if the cry of new mutiny-minded people doesn't make it necessary for me to put your critique back in the strongbox. Pastor Ehrenström has not yet arrived and I have six congregations to care for and besides this eight candidates to instruct. I know that in your indulgent love you will forgive me.
In general in your critique I preceived the absence of ecclesiastic reasons which first provide proof of each point coming from God's word before it is introduced as human testimony. Furthermore you provide nothing but Luther's testimony without showing anything coming from God's word. Not only this but in introducing most of Luther's testimony there is a misunderstood application to the pastoral letter. From 2 Timothy 2, 2 we know nothing further than that a preacher must be capable of teaching. You cite Matthew 15, 9 merely to settle your own case, not that of the pastoral letter. You cite John 10: 2, 1 and Corinthians 10, 15 only to refute your individual interpretation concerning the pastoral letter. And again you cite Hebrews 4, verse 12 only in order to reduce the ministry to service of the eucharist, which does not lie within the scriptural passage. John 7: 46, 49 is inappropriately cited, for the pastoral letter does not consider the congregation a damned and unknowing people. I also have to point out that you use "when or if" in many of your interpretations, as it thus often states: if this is meant this way or that, then it is not right; and you often critique your own interpretations but not those in the pastoral letter. This method could only be disillusioning for you and mislead you from the true content of the pastoral letter. It would have been better merely to ask me questions such as what does this or that sentence mean?
I shall again write down my responses according to the sections of the pastoral letter.
Quis rite vocatus sit? or who is called to ordination?
§1. We must understand the word of God, especially in the two epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and the epistle to Titus, because these are the best examples from which to discern what is being discussed. The symbols are not sources of knowledge or proof but rather testimony concerning that which may be proven in and believed of God's word.
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Photocopy of text provided by Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Gettysburg, PA