Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 17, January & February 1870

January 1870: pages 129 - 133


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 Volume 17, page 84


Chapter VII

The Initial Instance of Persecution of This Synod and Its Continuation by the Former Stephanists, now called the Synod of Missouri

In order to understand the historic context of our story we must repeat episodes published earlier in issues 8 and 9 of Volume 15 of the Informatorium and sections from the pamphlet Tell it to the Church.

After the fall of Stephan in 1840 the Saxon preachers sought our pardon through a letter by Pastor Löber. They apologized for not heeding our warning back in 1838. They asked to be admitted into our confraternity and they received our earnest assurance.

A series of correspondence began between them and Pastor Grabau. He sent them his Pastoral Letter so they could see our current church situation and the dispute we had with gangs, which had risen up from our ranks. The correspondence also contained our warning and advice to our remote and preacherless congregations in Wisconsin so they would be saved from seduction and fanatical deviation. In return they sent a draft of their new 1839 parocial order (printed in its entirety in our 5th Synodal Letter.)

Pastor Keyl wrote: They were pleased to read the Pastoral Letter. We held back on any decision concerning the parochial order until a synod could be arranged or at least some sort of verbal communication could be conducted. The church administration in Buffalo was distressed over the fanatical ideas expressed in the order but we wished to avoid dispute for as long as possible. Pastor Grabau told them that Pastor M. Bürger had arrived in Buffalo and said that they still held fast to Stephanist heresy but we did not want to believe this. Pastor Bürger decided not to return to Germany. Instead he accepted the Silesian-Roggenbuck gang for his congregation. He made his own inquiries and received a threefold account on how these people had been excommunicated after two years of warnings,

the last time before the entire congregation. Despite this proof Bürger still accepted the appointment from these excommunicants and considered it divine vocation. At that time we had appointed Candidate Brohm to our congregation in New York and had offered Pastors Gruber and Keyl positions with our congregations in Eden and Humberston. We had done this specifically to keep Pastor Keyl from going forward with his plan to return to Germany. Bürger's wrongful accusations seemed to have awakened their mistrust. Keyl asked for clarification of what was meant by the sentence in the Pastoral Letter, "The congregations promise to be obedient in all church matters which are not contrary to God's word."

They also reported (1842) that in his letters Bürger spread many defamatory rumors concerning the Buffalo church around Missouri and among these slanders were matters of faith. The response to Keyl's question was that silent and subservient obedience was not meant, rather obedience of the individual convinced of God's word.

Furthermore we often explained that the phrase, in all church matters which are not contrary to the word of God, means, in all church matters related to the word of God. Despite our explanation the Missourians have exploited the phrase in their critique of the Pastoral Letter to imply that we demand servile obedience in all church matters.

In October 1842 Pastors Gruber, Keyl and Löber wrote that Bürger's letter gave them cause for concern that Pastors Grabau and Krause were misusing their office

and they wanted more information concerning Bürger's slanderous allegations. They were given full details for the third time in a letter dated February 16, 1838 [sic]. Despite this the painter Pfau brought back the so-called Critique of the Pastoral Letter in July 1843.

At this time Pastor Walther began the first hostile action by sending Candidate Klügel with a letter of recommendation to our fallen church members in Milwaukee even though the candidate was not in agreement with them in matters of doctrine because of his Calvinist teachings concerning the eucharist. Just as Bürger had done in Buffalo, Klügel assembled the fallen members into an opposition congregation and he built an altar against our altar. They honored him with the title of pastor even though he administered the office without ordination.

On November 23, 1843 Pastor Grabau wrote to Pastor Walther in St. Louis that Klügel's false charity and laxness towards the gangsters pained him deeply. There was as little to hope for from Klügel as there was from Stephan. Along with his ministerial brothers in office he might want to excommunicate Klügel from their church community for his gangster activities and for his false Calvinist teachings on predestination. They might also wish to halt Candidate Fürbringer from exercising ministerial office without ordination and cease all such examples of hostility. Grabau also stated that their long letter or critique of the Pastoral Letter caused him more distress than joy since it contained incorrect interpretations, many misunderstandings and even untruths when his words showed just the opposite. Their fears were unfounded and their doctrine concerning the preaching office was not in accordance with the word of God and the symbolic books. The Saxon pastors were greatly irritated by this last statement.

They demanded proof. In March 1844 Pastor Löber complained to Pastor Krause that Pastor Grabau had not yet responded to the Missouri critique. On June 4, 1844 Pastors Krause and Kindermann sent a joint communiqué to Pastor Löber and enclosed a copy of a slanderous letter by the Klügel gang. The pastors stated that they considered their doctrine on the preaching office incorrect. Within this correspondence it becomes apparent that these preachers supported the gangsters in their injustices against us. Walther had even reprimanded Pastor Krause for refusing to yield to Klügel's demands and meet with him before the Freystatt congregation to debate the subject of predestination.

A second instance of hostile action soon followed before they had even received Pastor Grabau's counter-critique. The Saxon pastors ordained Candidate Geyer for a group in Watertown and Cedarburg, which had separated from Pastor Kindermann. They did not see fit to even ask Kindermann about the group before taking this action, thus they built a third counter-altar to our congregation's altar.

Later they sent the traveling preacher, Fricke, to Wisconsin. Fricke advised the Lutherans there to withdraw from Pastors Kindermann and Krause.

The hatred and persecution intensified with the arrival of Pastor Grabau's counter-critique, in which he attempted to point out 17 errors in their critique.

In 1846 these preacher began their publication, the Lutheran, in which they immediately accosted us with the untruth that we had told our congregations we had invited them to form a synod with us when indeed the opposite was true. They had sent gang preachers

so we could not invite them. We would only allow those pastors into a synodal union who were united with us in teaching and practice. It was for this well-known reason that Pastor Broom [Brohm] did not accept our invitation and his congregation in New York had decided to stand by him and separate from us.

In 1847 they held their first synodal session in Chicago. A report of that synod was published in our 2nd Synodal Letter.

Here the Missouri Synod initiated its course of hitherto unheard of actions in the Lutheran Church with the following set of events.

In 1845 disunity broke out in the congregation of Pastor Krause in Milwaukee. The congregation had decided to obtain a horse for Pastor Krause so they could be served more often from Freystatt. Without informing the pastor the decision was then overturned at the next congregational meeting and they decided that the pastor should only come to Milwaukee every six weeks. If he came to Milwaukee during the interim it should not be at the expense of the congregation. In a sermon Pastor Krause delivered a severe reprimand to the congregation for its greed and its trivializing of the holy sacraments. A portion of the congregation voiced its displeasure to the ministry. After receiving written notice of the problem Pastor Grabau was sent to Milwaukee and Freystatt. With the cooperation of Pastor Kindermann Grabau brought about a Christian reconciliation with the displeased parties in Milwaukee and Freystatt, which had complained about harsh treatment by Pastor Krause. Even Pastor Krause admitted that he had been too harsh in his pronouncements. Only Beversdorf in Milwaukee and Helm and Kaufung in Freystatt, especially the former,

did not accept the compromise. Other malcontents joined with them to incite a new schism. Pastors Kindermann and Krause went through the degrees of warning with these uncompromising individuals. The group in Milwaukee took control of the church and ejected the pastor, the school teacher and the congregation. A group under Helm and Kaufung in Freystatt nailed the church shut to its pastor. These two groups, under church discipline, sent Kaufung and Beversdorf as deputies to Chicago to ask for advice.

This synod did not consult us or Pastors Kindermann and Krause. Only Krause was given the option to appear at a synodal session full of strangers in Chicago in order to confront his accusers. Of course he could not accept this offer because it went against all church orders.

Totally groundless charges, which are eludicated in the 2nd Synodal Letter, were made and the following advice was given in Chicago.

"Assuming (!!?) that the report presented to us conrresponds to the facts, it is our belief:

"That Mr. Beversdorf and Kaufung along with the brothers who sent them not only had the right but the holiest responsibility to flee from Pastor Krause and shun him as a dangerous heretic and obstinate sinner. We deem it appropriate that a true pastor should be sent to care for them as quickly as possible."

On the synod's advice the two groups in Milwaukee and Freystatt appointed Pastor Keyl to be their true shepherd.

This was the debut and the first incursion by the Missouri Synod. They sent the gang preacher Keyl to build the 4th and 5th counter-altars to those of our synod in Milwaukee and Freystatt. Based on an assumption (without making inquiries) that the report presented to them was true, they seized the office of a minister from another synod!!

In order to gain legal standing in Wisconsin Pastor Keyl allowed himself to be reordained by ships carpenter Bruss and dismissed school teacher Lemke. He then presented the certificate of ordination to the authorities along with an affidavit stating that this action was in keeping with Lutheran Church doctrine. The record of the action is taken word for word from the judge's case files and was printed in our Informatorium later when people tried to deny the fact!

These were the first actions of this Missouri Synod. For 23 years now they have continued to issue false doctrine and slanderous comments. They have drawn thousands upon thousands of our fallen church children unto themselves, as we shall further prove.

Shouldn't we urge every pastor and Christian in the Missouri Synod to do penance and rightfully acknowledge their past injustices? This is what many pastors in earlier synods have done. To this day even our synod desires nothing more.

Didn't the Ohio Synod give warning at a court of arbitration in 1856? The Leipzig Conference of 1853 gave written warning: There is a ban upon you,

Missouri, until you stop committing sin and building altars against altars.

Shouldn't the synods united with Missouri or those considering union, such as Ohio, make similar demands?

         To be continued

February 1870: pages 145 - 149


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 Volume 17, page 133

Soon afterwards their representative, Keyl, accepted the fallen gang from Pastor Kindermann's congregation in Kirchhayn, thus serving the 4th, 5th and 6th counteraltars to those of our synod in Milwaukee, Freystatt and Kirchhayn.

On the pretext of reestablishing proper church doctrine he did away with the old Pomeranian Catechism teaching on the office of the key. In its place he used a misinterpretation of Luther's instructions on teaching absolution to the simple folk. As a result a portion of his gang later separated from him *.


*Concerning this catechism dispute there is a doctrine-rich history in the 2nd Synodal Letter, p.83. Return to text

In 1850 and 1851 Keyl was followed by representatives Lochner in Milwaukee and Fürbringer in Freystatt, etc. A seventh counter-altar was established in 1853 in Cedarburg and Grafton with the sending of opposition preacher Günther.

In Missouri's 2nd Synodal Report of 1848 opposition preachers Keyl of Milwaukee and Burger of Buffalo were listed as pastors and voting members.

In this report there is also a declaration in the synodal address that a congregation has authority beyond that of God's word and it has the right to endow its synod with that authority.

It even teaches that the synod exists merely beside the congregation and it does not function as the highest church court for the congregation. On this issue our 2nd Synodal Letter states on page 69:

"By this statement we can see that the synod may certainly voice its opinion however it cannot judge or regulate. However we know that a righteous-faith synod is not just a part of the congregation or beside the congregation. It does not exist merely to give opinions or advice but rather to direct the congregation in accordance with God's word.

"It judges the course of teaching and living because the synod has been set up as the assembled righteous-faith church containing all the local congregations. This is as Christ the Lord commanded in Matthew 18: Tell it to the church and if he does not listen, etc. According to scripture this is how the council of apostles operated and all other subsequent righteous-faith councils - see Luther's writing on the councils, Part VII, Wittenberg edition.

"Furthermore this synodal address gives the local congregations the same authority as the Romans gave their pope. On page 9 the congregations have the freedom to reject any proposals made by the synod even if they deal with holy matters. Ultimately, since the synod should not act as judge, the local congregations become the highest court in matters of teaching. The Smalcaldic Articles refute this:

"'The other sin of the pope is that he assumes the authority to judge and will not allow regions to determine their own matters in an orderly fashion. Indeed he wants to be more than the council and he has the authority to tear up and countermand all decisions made by the council. This creates much harm and ultimately devastation because as soon as the rights of judgment and profession are taken away from the church and placed in one individual, isn't it possible that he might navigate into the realm of false teaching and improper service to God thus losing many souls along the way? When the power to judge rests within the church council rather than within the purview of the popes then there is no opportunity for the popes (or individual congregations for that matter) to create mischief. Things should be arranged so the churches have the power to judge. In that way everything will be determined in accordance with the holy scriptures and the word of God.' - Pipping edition, page 41?, line 20 from the bottom.

II. Private and general confession. In the section dealing with

private and general confession it was declared that their constitution allows the continued practice of general confession to safeguard against careless preachers who might attempt to compel the congregations to adopt private confession. There was a request by several members of the synod to change this sentence because the synodal resolution stated "that there was essentially no difference between private and general absolution because in both cases there was the same forgiveness of sins." In response they proposed another resolution in which they would strike out the above sentence, "certainly the general absolution can be continued," because decisions on this and other matters concerning church orders resided totally within the purview of each individual congregation. In doing this they declare that they are not abandoning the 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession. Instead they are leaving it to the preachers' sense of duty to remain true to the church's articles of faith, to inform the congregations about private absolution and to make recommendations so that no individual, who desires private absolution, will be denied the request.

This is utter babbling full of contradictions and self-interest. Indeed it is heretical and perverse to merely tell Lutheran ministers that they should not refuse private absolution to any repentant sinner because he is duty bound to the Augsburg Confession. One should expect and demand much more from an individual bound by the Augsburg Confession. Such an individual should preserve the practice of private absolution for the entire congregation and not let it pass into disuse, as it is stated in the 11th Article. No one should be forced to accept general absolution.

Furthermore it is contradictory and perverse to place the acceptance of resolutions totally with the congregations as to whether or not they want confession and at the same time to state that they do not wish to allow the 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession to pass because of disuse. If a congregation can do as it pleases, the 11th Article is in fact abolished. It is just as contradictory and perverse to make ministers responsible for explaining the option. Once a congregation turns its power to decide over to its minister, it's impossible for the minister to pass his duty back to the congregation. Additionally if the Synod's message, that there is no difference between private and general confession, is true then it's contradictory and perverse to state that the minister still has a responsibility towards the 11th Article. If there is no difference who would believe that a person is still duty-bound to preserve the practice of private absolution?

Here's another piece of dishonesty! They had taken a stand by adopting the above sentence into their constitution in order to prevent careless pastors from being tempted to urge the use of private confession. However they did not declare that they wanted to rescind or cross it out because it would cause infraction to the 11th Article or offend anyone adverse to the idea. Instead they crossed out the sentence because decisions, such as whether to have confession, rested with the congregations! The 11th Article was abolished by this and it is dishonest to annul or invalidate Christian faith by leaving the choice to liberated congregations. Indeed, they boasted that they did not want to abolish the Article but then they made themselves look foolish with the doctrine, "there was no essential difference between private

and general absolution because both practices bring about the same forgiveness of sins." Under such circumstances what simple soul wouldn't be tempted to consider private absolution and the entire 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession unimportant? "Sure, sure," many will say, "but we don't need it. We have general absolution and that's enough!"

Article 11 of the Formula of Concord states, "We should certainly believe in what God has told us and promised us. We should never doubt these things. And Christ did not just deliver the promise to us through the gospel but through the sacraments, which stand as signs of His promise and which reassure each member of the faithful. For this reason we should preserve them, as the 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession states, 'It is God's command that we have private absolution and doctrine; we should believe in this absolution and preserve it. If we believe in this absolution we know for certain that God will be with us because it is as if we have heard a voice from heaven.'"

While our symbolic books posit an essential difference between gospel preaching in general and absolution of the repentant individual, this synod denies the essential difference because both issues come together in a tertio comparationis [third level of comparison] whereby the gospel and the forgiveness of sin are synonymous. It this is true then there is also no essential difference between preaching and the eucharist since the gospel and the forgiveness of sin is contained in both. The essential difference comes into play with the comparison between the solemn bestowing of divine grace

with the general premise concerning divine offering of that grace.

It thus becomes clear that this synod is already in the grips of Unionism. The course of discussion shows that in permitting general confession they've raised a notion similar to the Unionist interpretation: there is no essential difference between general and private absolution. In the end, the Lutheran 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession, which should have been retained, becomes an ancillary consideration for Lutheran pastors whereby private absolution cannot be denied to an individual sinner, who requests it. People have not even encountered such autocratic refusal in the United Church, yet people are well unified by it.

You can perceive the dishonest Union direction in the manner in which they deceive the congregations under the guise of freedom. This deception will seduce them. They give the congregations the power to choose what they want yet give them preachers duty-bound to the 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession. The congregations are mislead when they appoint their ministers, who have been educated and ordained in the Augsburg Confession, and they believe their ministers should not demand the same duty to uphold the practices of the Confession. Hostility is bound to break out over such divergence. Any time one man approaches another with the intention of deceit, especially in matters of a godly and spiritual nature, it's bound to get ugly in the end. The example of the United Church teaches us that.

Ultimately it is a betrayal of righteous-faith Christianity to publically announce, we bind

our preachers to the Augsburg Confession and yet design our synodal constitution so that each congregation, and even each individual, gets to decide whether or not they wish to follow the Augsburg Confession. It's betrayal to bind ministers to it yet free the congregations.

So much from our 2nd Synodal Letter on the Missouri Synod of 1848.

The synodal session in Chicago even took in gang preacher Moritz Bürger and his excommunicated Silesian Roggenbuck gang from Buffalo *. In 1846 M. Bürger published a book in which he justified his acceptance of this gang as a congregation by printing blatant lies and malicious slander about Pastors Grabau and Krause.

Along with his gang he rejected sections of the Dresden Catechism, specifically questions 190, 216, 220, 230 and 242. See our 2nd Synodal Letter, pages 45 and 46, for how he covered up Roggenbuck's Calvinistic-Nestorian heresy.

He also committed Donatic heresy in stating, "If a pastor commits an injustice towards a congregation member which involves the use of the ban, then the pastor proclaims a false church." Professor walther defended this same heresy in the Lutheran, "An injust ban makes the church false." In 1853 a group of theologians assembled by us in Germany responded to this with No!

On page 71 of his book he states, "that these Silesians


* The same thing happened with Hochstetter's gang and the rest of our congregation in Buffalo in 1867 so they could build a new church on Elm Street. Return to text

separated from Pastor Grabau only because they truly believed they had the right to hold their own private church services."

He further states on page 95, "These Silesians had been right to burn our petty notice of excommunication, which they derisively called a papal ban, in the square near the church during the repentance day services on September 16, 1841. This was a fine imitation of the action taken by blessed Luther when he burned the excommunication bull of the Roman pope (Leo X)!"

He ends his book in summary of all his slanders with the following words:

"The church in Buffalo is completely and horrifyingly anti-christian, Stephanistic, and idolatrous; it is a devil's temple."

In 1846 he accepted the small pietistical gang established by Mr. Kornatzky as a congregation, which was also acknowledged by the Missouri synod without making inquiries with the local pastor. The congregation held to the erroneous pietistical teachings of Busskampf, etc. It conducted its own church services and after several useless warnings issued by the entire congregation it had been excommunicated for its profession of faith by the church ministry.

In 1848 Bürger helped build a counter-altar to Pastor Grabau's filial congregation in Eden, near Buffalo. At first he held church services for the excommunicants in the schoolhouse but later these people forcibly took possession of the church by climbing through the windows and breaking the church door. They chased away the pastor and school teacher A. Hoge,

whose son was so maltreated during the attack that he suffered a fracture.

Later on the rabble group in Buffalo became displeased with him so the Missouri Synod sent gang preacher Franke. Still later Missouri sent Diehlmann to Buffalo and Ernst to Eden.

Bürger then accepted an appointment in Washington. Most recently he went to the the fallen members of our synod, who were previously part of the congregation of Pastor Phil. v. Rohr in Winona, Minnesota.

         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