Pastoral Letter and Correspondence between J. A. A. Grabau and the Missouri Synod: Pages 38 - 42


The old church orders demonstrate the practice or exercise of said profession for Lutherans, and other writings of true teachers could be cited as testimony, notwithstanding cum judicio [with judgment] that one a) understands they are right in and of themselves, b)are in agreement with and directed by God's word.

§2. The Holy Scriptures teach of the holy ministerial office that there is a particular status ordered by God, to which He ordains certain capable people among men so they may carry on with divine authority as messengers in His place delivering the Lord's word to others, giving them the sacraments, thus leading them to Christ and raising them to eternal life. (Thann's Development of all Articles of Faith, Weissenfels, 1680.) This definition agrees sufficiently with God's word.

§3. The Holy Scriptures teach of the spiritual priesthood that it exists for all faithful, men and women, old people and children so that as righteous faith Christians they are for other men the glorified, the chosen of God, the holy, beloved and first of His creatures and so that they may daily offer up their spiritual sacrifice, which is pleasing to God through Jesus Christ, and being redeemed through the blood of Christ they may have free and joyous entry to the gracious throne of God.

Psalms 16, 3; Colossians 3, 12; Jacob 1, 18.1; Peter 2, 5.9; Hebrews 13, 15.16; romans 12, 1; Apocalypse 1, 5.6.

§4. In accordance with this the spiritual priesthood is invested with the righteousness of Christ, a holy apparition of our people reconciled before God. Revelations 1, 6. However this is not a ministerial office set before the congregation whereby someone is a spiritual priest, as all faithful are, but he is still not a shepherd or a teacher of the church; rather ministerial office has a claim to be one of the righteous order, except for women, who should not become ministers. While the spiritual priesthood of a person is their link in faith to the forgiving God, so is the holy office one created by God with ordained standing in its dealings with the congregation. See besides the passages cited in §3, Revelations 5, 10; 2 Corinthians 5, 20; Hebrews 13, 17; 1 Peter 5: 2, 3; 1 Corinthians 3, 5; Romans 10, 14, 15; Luke 10, 16; 1 Corinthians 4: 1, 2; 1 Timothy 4, 16; Matthew 4, 19.

§5. We may not define the workings of the spiritual priesthood in the proper church as it appears in 1 Corinthinan 14, embellished with high prophecy and even special and supernatural gifts and languages; this is to mix up the spiritual priesthood with the ministerial office and the pronouncement of the virtues of he, who is ordain for us and brought out of the darkness and into the wondrous light (1 Peter 2: 5, 9); we understand it to mean the spiritual offerings brought before God, gathering all the faithful with his heart and voice and life so they no longer muddle through the darkness of the flesh. (See verse 5 and verses 10, 11, 12.) We do not understand this as the ministerial office within the congregation. Indeed it shows that the right to choose and ordain a minister proceeds from it; both treatments within the church are of a spiritually offering nature in that they represent God as a person, who gave the office and through whom he wishes to expand his honor in believers and non-believers, in ministers and all other classes of society.


§6. Here is further necessary handling of the true dependency between the spiritual priesthood and the holy office of minister, which I cannot introduce here. I can only mention that in the pastoral letter the administration of the holy sacraments is merely called "the priestly portion of the office" in so far as it is considered one service under the high-priestly office of Christ, who allowed himself to be crucified for us; thus it is considered since the high priest, Christ, communicates with the recipients through the sacraments and delivers his seal of grace to them; — in contrast to preaching, which is thought of as a service under the prophetic office of Christ; whereas no agreement has been reached that the preaching of the gospel offers the high-priestly merit of Christ and thus might be "a priestly work" but, as Luther says, the preaching of law and of God's wrath just cannot be decreed. Preaching of atonement and grace in the pastoral letter are together considered a service under the prophetic office of Christ, the communication of Christ in the holy sacraments however is considered a singular and pure priestly work of grace. I also hope that this division, not of the office but of the various activities of office, is not contrary to the word of God and I could demonstrate it with many more examples. For as the Lord has commanded: teach — baptise; it is only one office but most certainly two different activities of the office. The expression in the pastoral letter, however, may be imcomplete concerning this issue and I will gladly see you improve upon it. Blessed Luther also does take it serious enough and calls preaching, baptising, holding mass, absolving, etc. public offices although they are all grouped together as one office.

§7. The holy ministerial office is not given or conveyed by the congregation, as you, my dear friends, say; rather the son of God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as the above definition states, "ordains a particular person to the position;" this is as it is written in John 20, 21: Just as my Father has sent me, so I send you. Luke 24: 46, 47. Christ allows us to preach in his name. Acts 20, 28: Under which (flock) the Holy Spirit has established bishops for us and Ephesians 4, 11. He has established certain men to be shepherds and teachers. Luke 10, 2. He sends workers into his harvest. Although the church does not bestow the ministerial office upon the person, God does not bestow it any differently than through the choice and ordination of the church; this is His ordering. Acts 1, 23 - 26; 2 Timothy 2, 2.

Here allow me to briefly refer to the first part of the letter to Pastor Brohm dated June 26th, where this divine ordering is authenticated out of holy scripture and demonstrated with human testimony as teaching of the church.

§8. Rite vocatum esse, (the Apology calls it vocatio ecclesiae p. 150 § 28.) is not the same as the vocation of the local congregation. Ordained vocation, or rite vocatum esse, in the 14th Article of the Augsburg Confession is the general concept which comprises electio, vocatio and ordinatio; vocation of the local congregation is only one facet of rite vocatum esse. Hebrews 5,4 demonstrates the general concept of vocation - "No one takes upon himself the honor unless he is also called by God, as it was with Aaron." The same is true in Acts 20, 28 and Ephesians 4, 11. Within the general concept of ordained vocation is found



a) the choosing by the local congregation of all positions they had to fill, as in Acts 1, 23. They (that is, all 120 apostles and other Christians) were thus placed. One may conclude this from 1 Timothy 3, 2 - 9 and Titus 1, 6 - 9.
b) the calling of the congregation is only the expression of the past vote to the chosen. This may also be concluded from the passages cited above.
c) the ordination by the church servants already in state is ordered and proscribed in 1 Timothy 5, 22 and 4, 14; 2 Timothy 1, 6 and 2, 2; Titus 1, 5.

§9. On the God-given right of the church to choose, call and ordain pastors. This rests partly on the spiritual priesthood and partly on specific divine law. It rests on the spiritual priesthood of all believers, according to which they have a right to enjoy and exercise all divine ordering, means to grace, means to serve God's honor and their own sanctity; accordingly they also have the right to represent through spiritual offering the grace-filled persona of God in the office, as He Himself gave it. It rests on specific divine law; a part of which is decreed by the choosing, a part of which is decreed by the ordination of the minister in the New Testament. Acts 6, 3; 1 Timothy 3, 7; 2 Timothy 2, 2; 1 Timothy 5, 22. Here one must discern between the right of the church and the divine ordering, in which the right is exercised. It is a divine right of the church to choose, call and ordain people; the ordering, however, in which the right is exercised, is this: that the choice of a person must be issued from the entire local congregation in all their stations where the new pastors will serve but the ordination must be performed by the already at hand church servants as proven in the New Testament and established by the symbols. It is regrettable that many of our sectarian-minded people cannot or will not differentiate the right of the church as such from the ordering, in which it will have been practiced in the holy scriptures.

§10. What are the particulars of ordination? Not a mere apostolic general ceremony, which one observes in order to be one in external form with the old church; rather a specific priestly handling of the church where it chooses a person according to apostolic decree through the at-hand church servants for the exercising of the office as decreed, established and blessed, whereby it believes that God Himself has decreed, established and blessed it. As we see in 2 Timothy 2,2; see also 1 Peter 5, 1; 2 Timothy 1, 5; acts 14, 23. Acts 1, 26 - St. Paul had ordered Timothy before God and the Lord Jesus and the chosen angels to hold such ordnation and not in haste to ordain those who were incapable, 1 Timothy 5: 21, 22. And because ordination is a divine command of the office, so will He also assure his gracious promise within it, of which St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4, 14: An ordination without prayer and a profession of faith by the present Christian assembly is not in accordance with the teaching of the New Testament.

Remark — Our Lord Jesus Christ first chose and called his apostles, then ordained or commanded them to exercise the office among all the heathens. John 20, Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 25, 50. (One may see this in the first portion, Number III of the letter to Pastor Brohm.) This is also acknowledged in the Augsburg Confession, Article 28, §6, 7. "Nam cum hoc mandato


Christus mitti Apostelos, Joh. 20, 21. Sicut me misit pater, ita et ego mitto vos, &c. Marci XVI. Ite praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae." This was ordained, or the office commanded, as 2 Timothy 2,2 teaches. (See more in the letter to Pastor Brohm.)

§11. Ordination is not an adiaphore in that it is an essential part of the rite vocatum esse. It is an adiaphore as to whether a bishop or a local pastor performs the ordination on the chosed one; also whether the one performing the ordination is a good or bad person, whether he lays one hand or both hands or no hands upon the chosen one, et. al; but the ordination itself is no adiaphore and non-essential thing. It belongs to the prescribed godly ordering and it has divine and apostolic mandate, as in 1537 Dr. Luther placed the question to the papal legate Bergerius: whether they also consecrated priests? The answer: Quoniam pontifex et episcopi nobis omnem ordinationem denegant, ipsi mandato divino consecramus et ordinamus. (Selneccer in oratione de Luthero.)

We know that we do the will of God with this ordering, however we gain nothing by it. We do not propose to establish wondrous things with the external rite itself, rather we are merely obedient in faith to God when we maintain and aspire to this ordering that He may bless his church in this ordering and see to its care through true shepherds. The formula or means to ordination may differ in various lands and agendas of the church may be proclaimed and these things may be considered indifferent things, but ordination itself is still not an adiaphore. Therefore it is not up to the preference of the church servant whether or not he should allow himself to be ordained, as such is the case in your own midst and you should have to concede to this. (I means the candidate Fuerbringer.)

§12. The Christian freedom of each faithful individual is to be, to a certain extent, distinguished from those of the churches.
a) Christian freedom exists in that we are unyoked and redeemed from force and curse of law; we are also unbound from the ceremonies of the church and the everyday life of the Old Testament; we have the forgiveness of sins in Christ, which earns us alone holiness and sanctity, as St. Paul proclaimed in the letter to the Galatians. Thus it follows that empowered by such perfect redemption and liberation no one of faith shall seek his sanctity in external, legal observances of certain ceremonies, rather seek it solely in the grace of Christ; he does not seek acts and gains before God in external customs but rather remains true to God's word, be it proclaimed or expressed in the sermon or the celebration of the sacraments or other ceremonies. Thus no believer among us seeks godly blessing in the external ceremony of ordination but rather in the godly commanding of the office (2 Timothy 2,2) and the blessed godly promises, which he received through the ordination. 1 Timothy 4, 14; see also 2 Timothy 1, 6.
b)The church's freedom exists in that the church, bound to the proper usage of grace-giving power, installs externally good customs, ceremonies and orders in accordance with God's word and also necessitates the real need and reasons for them, yet may allow certain practices to cease. However the old church orders shall not be done away with if they are needed and the Christian freedom of the individual must learn to be in alignment with the church's free ordering of the whole, for example with an entire district and national church.


This calls for the nature of the Christian true believer as well as one of true Christian love if we are to be members along with others and profess every Sunday: The entirety of Christianity on the earth maintains itself in precisely this singular sense;" thus it follows that if there is no ordained vocation, then each individual may construct and create his own special circumstances in order to demonstrate his freedom and the singular sense of Christianity should and must produce mere possibly good unity and harmony of church ordering in customs. Therefore it is false, what you say about the harmfulness of the introduction of a particular church order among all congregations. It was God's wish that we all have one good order as Crown Prince August of Saxony intended in 1580 in Germany through a fraternal paralleling of all the churches in the province, however this plan was impeded by much subsequent ecclesiastic and political oppression. "Scimus enim (the Apology, p. 204 §24 states) bono et utili consilio a patribus ecclesiasticam constitutam esse." See also Augsburg Confession, Article 28. "Respondent, quod liceat episcopis seu pastoribus, facere ordinationes ut res ordine gerantur in ecclesia, non ut per illas mereamur gratium, etc. — Tales ordinationes convenit ecclesias propter caritatem et tranquillitatem servare." Further: Apology, p. 152 § 33. "Et cum gratissimo animo, amplectimur utiles ac veteres ordinationes, praesertim cum contineant paedagogiam, qua prodest populum et imperitos assuefacere ac docere." Further, p. 214 § 51. "Sine probabili causa nihil mutetur in usitatis ritibus — propter alendam concordiam serventur veteres mores, qui sine peccato, aut sine magno incommodo servari possunt." "Publicam concordiam — judicavimus omnibus aliis commodis anteferendam esse." You, on the other hand, profess your tragic scorn of the old church orders to many districts and call us hypocrites since we maintain them. In 1841 you even sent us a new church order, for the most part not in keeping with the old church order; and because you subsequently declared in another letter that these new principles had not yet been applied and executed, we developed a renewed confidence in you; we see now that we were deceived. What else could we do but warn you in a heartfelt and brotherly fashion about these new church orders, which since 1822 have completely corrupted and plagued Prussia.

§13. It can never be necessary according to God's word that a local congregation must choose from its midsts or anywhere else an unprepared, unlearned, untested and therefore incapable man to be its minister. Proof: He, who believes and is baptised, shall be sanctified. Mark 16: Baptised, faithful Christians are made holy even when through misfortune they have no preacher for half a lifetime. However any Christian may give baptism, according to the word of Christ: "let the little children come to me;" and as it has been said to all Christians, also the old. In faith each believing housefather may raise up his children and his servants if he will only diligently deliver God's word and ask God for the grace to do so. If he perceives that he suffers harm to his soul due to the lack of a minister and souls are in danger, this is so because he demonstrates what the holy office is and what power resides in it, as it is, for example, with the immigrant Prussian Lutherans. If he is prevented from doing this or incapacitated, he may commend his soul and those under his care to God, and hold to the written word of God,


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

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks