Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 15, November & December 1867


November 1867, pages 99 & 100

History

of the origin, emigration, settlement and ecclesiastic development of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church or Congregation, which emigrated from Prussia between the years 1839 and 1843, now known as the Buffalo Synod.

Continued from page 86

Brotherly Communication on our Thoughts concerning Emigration

May the Lord Jesus send the Holy Spirit to you. Amen!

We are in accord with Dr. Luther's clarification on the words and commands of our Lord Jesus to His apostles in Matthew 10, 23: "However when they persecute you in one city, flee to another." We are rebels when we declare our allegiance to the gospel; that is, we hold our church services contrary to the will of the leader in his country. Shouldn't we follow the gospel to another country rather than demanding our bygone legal rights to hold our church services in our beloved fatherland when those demands run contrary to the will of the king?

The king has canceled these rights with the power, which at least until now had been imparted to him through God's grace to have unlimited authority over his land. In accordance with Matthew 5, 40 we should no longer fight against this. And in accordance with Matthew 10, 23 we should not stay to be persecuted. Instead we should flee and emigrate. These are the words of the Lord and he commanded us just as he commanded His apostles. As it states in Mark 13, 37, "What I say to you I say to all. Be vigilant." And even more stingently in Matthew 28, 20, "and teach them to obey all that I have commanded of you."

These questions also arise: 1.) If the leader of the country

will tolerate us and our church services in his country; and 2.) will we be persecuted with his consent and by his order?

If our answer to both questions is "yes" then it is a sin against God's word for us to remain in this country and hold our church services.

However we must never agree to go to a part of the world where we could not practice our faith anymore than we would go some place where they would forbid us to breathe.

Thus far we have correctly testified against the false church, maintained our right to have our church and suffered persecution because we still hoped that this was not done with the approval of the country's leader. We hoped he would hear our petition and promise us protection.

However now we know that he will not tolerate us:

1.) From the cabinet order of August 24, 1837 in response to the Magdeburg congregation's appeal for immediate intervention and from the king's cabinet order, which began, "Enrollment in the Union shall be a freely made decision," but which ended with, "Non-acceptance of the Agenda and consolidation of foes of the Union in a particular church communnity shall in no way be permitted because it is totally unchristian."

2.) By the forceful expulsion and arrest of our deputies in and outside Berlin with the order that they not return as deputies. This occurred specifically as the result of a royal cabinet order, which was read to the deputies and as such must be interpreted as a final response to


the deputies' written request "for tolerance from His majesty so they might belong to the evangelical-lutheran church."

3.) From the response received to the church's petition for tolerance communicated by his majesty trhough Minister von Altenstein. The elders of the Berlin congregation were supposed to deliver this petition when their deputies had an audience, however they were sent away so the petition was sent in the name of the deputies and the church. The response was read before the larger congregations. In brief, it contained the following:

His majesty had issued a cabinet order dated September 30th to Minister von Altenstein denying the petition. The comment was added that we should not expect to receive any sign of tolerance.

4.) Doesn't the permission to emigrate provide the proof that his majesty has decided it is better to rescind his previous policy hindering emigration and thus damage his reputation before the world rather than foster the evangelical-lutheran church outside the Agenda in his country?

No proof is needed that the evangelical-lutheran congregations have been persecuted for the sake of their faith and in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We know of no commandment from God whereby we must remain in a country where we are persecuted. Indeed, we have God's command to flee. — How could we exist in Our Lord if He wanted our souls to perish under this oppression, if He wanted the parents, the children and especially the orphans to fall into the hands of the persecutors and their church, —

if He wanted their blood at the hands of those who hinder them. In accordance with the word of God, should they not flee this peril?

Who can exist amid such escalating persecution without considering himself called to action? We have seen how the congregations in Meseritz, Prittisch and Halle have grown weary.

Whenever a congregation encounters persecution should not every member feel pain? When the smallest of congregations in the remotest of areas falls, should we continue to wait and stay just because the larger congregations are not so harshly oppressed? Should we wait until we suffer from such harsh oppression? Are the larger congregations not guilty of the deaths of these smaller congregations because they did not feel the suffering? By their words and examples haven't the larger congregations hindered attempts to flee to a place where they can be fortified by the teachings and the sacraments and their souls can be redeemed?

How shall parents answer to the Lord Jesus when they do not protect their children from the danger of spiritual death at the hands of the false church? How shall they answer when they remain in a land where they are hindered from sending their children to a Christian school because the Lutheran teachers and pastors have been dismissed. Lutheran private school teachers have been imprisoned. In one case in Berlin a Lutheran congregation's school teacher sat terrified in the city jail for 8 to 14 days charged with 18 offenses subjected to all manner of vermin and filth. For the sake of their faith many congregations will no longer allow their children to be corrupted by United schools; we've even dispensed with confirmation instruction.

               To be continued


December 1867, pages 115 & 116

History

of the origin, emigration, settlement and ecclesiastic development of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church or Congregation, which emigrated from Prussia between the years 1839 and 1843, now known as the Buffalo Synod.

Continued from page 100

Thus many children are growing into little pagans because most housefathers are unable to instruct their children themselves. Could those who are able not help out the other members?

Up until now the Lord has imparted his help to all and we have good cause to praise and treasure His power, His grace and His intervention. But from now on — if we no longer want to put up with this persecution while following His mandate and His call, will we still have reason to rejoice in His precious faith and His intervention? From now on will we have to be afraid if we take matters into our own hands so as not to fall into sin? Shall we surrender to the peril and allow ourselves to be corrupted?

This is our plan. We will not be held captive in this turmoil. At all cost we shall turn ourselves around. We have been enlightened by the grace of God to see that we would belong to a false church. Our Lord also asks us this question: Would you willingly give up everything for the sake of your faith and leave your beloved fatherland? Would you willingly leave behind even a father, a mother, a wife and a child? —

The merciful Lord sent us the answer to our supplications: Yes, even this, dear Lord. Let your power work in and through us.

Up to now we have recognized it as our duty to bear witness before the authorities at every instance,

to demand our religious rights and testify to the perversion of Christianity by performing our service to God and enduring every form of persecution set in our way. — Now we have come to a decision based on our beloved king's proclamation that he will not uphold the rights of the Lutheran church in his country and he will not show tolerance towards us. Our final and ultimate testimony will be emigration, by which we will show what we think of a country and its leader, who will no longer permit the gospel. We were confident in our previous actions and we are confident now that this final and irrevocable course of action will do more to awaken people to the truth in the fatherland than our previous demonstrations. We draw on the example in Camin where more people were awakened to the truth than the number who left. So it is as it was in Revelations 12 where the woman flees across the sea and the devil finds enough of her offspring to wage war.

For a true Christian there is no other solution than reasoning based on God's word; it cannot be based on worldly or extraneous reasoning, feeling or inclination. It cannot be based on good works such as the awakening of confused admirers of Jesus still present in the United Church, etc.

The solution we pray for is, in short, based on established proofs derived from God's word - we cannot escape persecution under the current set of circumstances and if we stay we must cease holding our services to God because it is against the will of the leader in his country.

Because of the persecution and the interdiction of the authorities we are in a position where


no one will be going against the word of God.

Setting aside the question of where should we go because there are many varying opinions, we must first agree on whether it is a sin to remain and our duty to leave. Do we have a proper understanding of God's answer to our prayer as based on His word? Is it the Lord's command that we follow His mandate, "so flee?" Is it a sin to continue our outlawed church services because it is contrary to the will of the leader in his country? If we find that we are not misinterpreting God's word, we will acknowledge that nothing stands in our way and we will know that it is the Lord's wish. The time of need and strife will then arise as we acknowledge that we are all His people. Despite the resistance of flesh and heart we will bow to His will and there will be no reason for excuses.

Each person unwilling to emigrate must examine his conscience. Is it the love of worldly possessions, the love of his occupation, his father and mother, his spouse or children which makes him refuse to take up the cross of emigration? (Is he willing to abandon those things which he loves most?) In choosing to take up this cross he will engage in more battles with the authorities and encounter even more fines and punishments than he has previously experienced. However he must consider the possible danger to his soul and that of others if he does not take up the fight.

Let each person inclined to emigrate consider his motives. Does he think that by emigrating he will avoid taking up the cross of Christ and that by fleeing he will escape to the golden mountain where peace resides and there is physical and financial security?

Or does he only want to save his soul and those of his family? All these people must pray to our beloved Lord for guidance so they will see how much it will cost to emigrate. May he show them the privation which emigration will cause. They will live less comfortable lives than even the poorest among us here, who live in a cultivated land and have certain creature comforts such as food, roofs over their heads, and protection from physical harm. They will be emigrating to undeveloped territories and provide all their own necessities of existence.

It is proper to consider Matthew 10, 39; Luke 17, 33; John 12, 25: Whoever would preserve his life, will lose it and whoever despises his life in this world will find it in eternity.

Furthermore with the help of the Holy Spirit let us rein in our dreams, which make everything seem so wonderful. May the Lord grant us His help and His blessing. We must keep in mind that we will experience privation and need for "the rigtheous seeds will not go for bread." We will be as the Israelites in the desert for 40 years. As it has ever been, it will be an oppressive and difficult task to take up this cross and anyone not prepared and fortified in the power and love of Jesus Christ might resent the task and eventually fall as would happen to anyone in the desert. He might be destroyed out of jealousy and scorn for our merciful but ever righteous Lord.

The peril to the soul is just as great for those who remain out of fear of taking up the cross as for those who flee for fear of the cross.

               To be continued


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Microfilm provided by The Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Elk Grove Village, Illinois.


Imaging & translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks