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.
For the sake of greater understanding we return to the correspondence between our synod and Missouri at the time their synodal session was held in Cleveland.
Our last exchange of letters with the Missouri Synod, 1853.
In the Name of Jesus.
From the Synod of Buffalo to the Synod of Missouri, currently assembled in Cleveland.
May the love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and
the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen!
Seek peace and pursue it in obedience to the Holy Spirit. For the sake of this warning the undersigned synodal members also do not wish to overlook any proper, God-pleasing way of serving the cause of peace.
It has been stated in the Synodal Report of 1852 that the honorable Synod of Missouri has commissioned Pastors Habel, Brohm and Gruber to seek reconciliation with the Synod of Buffalo and now to achieve that goal it has written its proposal and sent it to Pastor Grabau so that "nothing might be omitted, which would lead to peace and unity in the church." To this end they also sent Pastor Grabau the book, The Opinion of Our Church in the Questions concerning Church and Office with the request that if, after an unbiased examination of it, we still could not be united with them then we should set up a time and place for a colloquium during which we would compare our doctrinal differences.
Furthermore: Pastor Grabau responded to Pastor Habel, the Secretary of the Honorable Synod of Missouri who had
sent the letter, stating that without the permission of our synod he could only reply as a private individual and not as a representative in ministerial office. This was not the proper path to reconciliation. Instead, he must be asked with our entire synod as indicated in the article concerning a path to peace set out in No. 18 of the first volume of our Kirchliches Informatorium.
Plus: Two more private letters came to Pastor Grabau from Pastor Habel, after which our honorable church ministry sent a response to the Secretary of the Honorable Synod of Missouri stating how inappropriate and irritating it was for our sorely troubled congregations, especially because they had taken in our excommunicated members and sent them gang preachers, to be snubbed in such an important matter or ignored as non-entities since they only offered to negotiate with Pastor Grabau.
Furthermore the ministry of the Honorable Synod of Missouri did not deem our ministry worthy of a response. Instead it issued threats and insults through the Lutheran and its Sidecar.
Thus the undersigned synodal members consider it their duty to issue their own declaration with the following steps in response to the Honorable Synod assembled in Cleveland concerning the 6th Synodal Letter from the Missouri Synod expressing the wish and resolution to omit nothing, which might establish peace in the church.
1. First of all let the assembled synods swear before God and His holy, Christian church that it is their unanimous prayer and wish to omit nothing which is required to attain peace in the church
in a manner pleasing to God.
2. The synods must vow they are in agreement and unanimously of the opinion that the path proposed by the Honorable Synod from Missouri is not the proper path. Rather all must acknowledge the solution given by Pastor Grabau and our ministry because it is grounded in truth. The undersigned also approve the reasons for refusing to attend a colloquium, which had been read to us and then later published in No. 14 of the 2nd volume of our Informatorium.
3. After deep deliberation and many inquiries we are in agreement and of one mind that the proper path to peace is the following, and we wish to travel this path.
The currently assembled synodal session in Buffalo, acting as representatives for our entire synod, offers reconciliation in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ in accordance with His command and His words: "Seek peace and pursue it," "be diligent in holding to the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace," and "if your brother sins against you, keep your reprimand between yourself and him alone, etc."
By the example and in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we repeat the reprimands given by our synod in 1845 and our synod's reprimands of 1848 and 1851 as stated in our synodal letters, charging the Honorable Synod of Missouri as follows:
The Honorable Synod of Missouri still acknowledges in its 6th Synodal Letter that we stand firmly on the grounding of our faith, namely the symbolic books of our evangelical-lutheran church, and some have left merely due to extraneous ordering. Furthermore the Synodal Report issues its resolution to seek church reconcilation with the Synod of Buffalo.
Even Missouri's journal, The Lutheran, acknowledges in No. 8 of Volume 9 that it has never considered us a sect or a non-church. Thus we adminish you to recognize how deeply and horribly you have sinned by seizing foreign ministerial posts for close to 9 years now, interfering with our church courts in cases where our members stand under church discipline, suggesting to the representative church boards of our synod that they turn their errant and sinful children over to you rather than us. It is dreadful to hear that at the synodal sessions in Chicago and St. Louis resolutions had been passed wherein they made it their holy duty to accept people who had separated from us and to appoint righteous-faith preachers to serve them instead of refering these people to their own synod and its church court in cases where our ministers may have committed sin or error in their pastoral care giving, be it in their conduct or their teaching. Of late the Synod of Missouri itself acknowledges that has the same grounding in faith as us.
Isn't it truly dreadful to see how a Lutheran sister synod has sinned against our congregations, our ministers and most of all against the poor, confused sheep of Christ? With the help of another Lutheran synod altars have been built against altars in a Lutheran church congregation. The gang preachers have made it their guiding principle to accept the people who separate from us. Isn't it just as dreadful for the Lutheran to try to justify this activity under the pretense that this had to happen so that in the long run things could be handled properly?
How many souls from our congregations have been led into temptation by these 9 years of activity whereby people are drawn away from holy church discipline and given refuge in counter-altars so they can spite their spiritual caregivers? How many have fallen? — How many sinners guilty of greed, injustice, willful stubbornness,
|lechery and other abominations have fled from church discipline? How many times have our congregations heard immediately afterwards that these people have been accepted, absolved and reinstated by gang preachers such as Bürger, Lochner, Ernst, etc.? Over the past 9 years how many people have died in a state of willful stubbornness or internal confusion? How many people abandoned their congregation, their pastors and their synod, which they had recognized as righteous, all because of personal hatred for the minister and thus died unrepentant! — How many people are brought into peril by the ruthlessness of the Synod from Missouri? For these reasons we reprimand the currently assembled Honorable Synod of Missouri in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the sake of their souls and the many souls of those they have seduced, for the souls for whom our Savior shed His blood. He shall require blood from the Synod of Missouri for the souls it lost and the souls, which will be lost in the future because of its unordained, sinful, unlutheran and unchristian interference with the church courts and spiritual jurisdiction of another evangelical-Lutheran synod. We warn the Honorable Synod to cease following this dreadful path to destruction for itself and for our confused church children. Stop with your plans to plague us, to handle us like a sect, to demoralize and to spiritually kill our errant church children. Hear us and let yourselves be won over to reconcile with the sister congregation you have so grievously wounded. Commit all the power you used to assail us to seek reconciliation through heartfelt and repentant recognition of your sins. Apologize for the injustices you have done to us and give us back the church children you have kidnapped. And lastly, the Honorable Synod should show our fallen gangs how they have committed error and sinned for not turning to their own Lutheran synod. By giving them reprimand you also show that you acknowledge their duty, both previous and|
current, to seek reconciliation with the congregations they abandoned. Show them that if they had complaints against their divinely ordained ministers, they should have brought them to their own church court.
This is truly the only proper and plausible path towards reconciliation. Free of sin and self deception, the Synod of Missouri can and must step forward in true repentance — if it does not wish to be lost for all eternity. You must also admonish the preachers, you sent to our fallen church children,to seek repentance, particularly Messers Bürger, Ernst, Diehlmann, Schaller, Lochner, Fürbringer, Gaier, and Günther. We must admonish even Pastors Keyl and Franke to recognize and apologize for their sins committed previously against us so that they, along with the rest of the Synod from Missouri, may seek reconciliation with us and God and thus expunge the debt of blood from themselves and the synod through the mercy of God.
Although we are responsible for them as their ordained church court and ministry, no one wants to hastily convene a church court against these poor souls, who removed themselves from our jurisdiction and shunned our help in the sinful states of rebellion and separatism. Each case must receive a Christian investigation by the minister and congregation against which the individual committed rebellion. Only after this can the ministry make a proper proposal for the disposition of a case. In turn our pastors and synodal members will be ready to admit where they may have failed in charity and humility while grasped in the heat of debate. Indeed they are ready to admit that both sides may be at fault and they are prepared to offer apologies and make restitution.
We find the path to reconcilation proposed by the Honorable Synod of Missouri,
which suggests we attend a colloquium with them before the grounds for reconcilation are set and before they cease their injustices towards us, unacceptable. We follow the plumbline given us through God's word that we should shun those excommunicated from the Christian church in accordance with Christ's command. No. 14 of the Informatorium clearly establishes the reasons in accordance with Thessalonians 8, 14, 15 and Romans 16, 16, 18.
As long as the Honorable Synod of Missouri continues to send gang preachers to our excommunicants, as long as they continue to administer, absolve and reinstate them, in our eyes they are not a Lutheran Church. If we hold a colloquium with them before they withdraw their preachers, offer apology and seek repentant reconciliation then we become just as guilty of being a sect and can no longer consider ourselves a Lutheran church. Pastor Grabau would have to admit to the slanderous accusation that he is a papist since the Missouri Synod completely overstepped our ministry and synod and offered the chance of reconcilation and colloquium to him alone.
We also object to the notion that there must be changes in practice before there can be unity of teaching. This is nonsense. An example will serve to deflate this idea.
When two Christians bicker about what's mine and what's yours, shouldn't we admonish them to seek Christian reconcilation in accordance with 1 Corinthians 6? Say, for example, that each has assailed and insulted the other because one accuses the other of something while the other accuses the first of being unjust because he took something by force in a gesture of unchristian self-interest.
Shouldn't we admonish, Beloved brothers, reconcile. Let the brother, who took the other's property, return it. Stop bothering each other and forgive one another. To find who was right in the initial quarrel, all must be united in brotherly love.
After all the gross injustices of unchristian self interest, fighting and name-calling has ceased, you won't be able to figure out what the quarrel was originally about, so as reconciling Christians choose a Christian arbitrator to settle the matter. Promise eachother you'll abide in love and reconciliation with the decision made by the arbitrator with Christian insight. This is how it should be between us.
Therefore, first it is necessary for unchristian self interest on the part of our rebels and those of you who fortified your church by aiding them in their separation to cease this activity. Then it will be time to forgive and forget all past injury, admonish our rebellious church children to repent, and point them towards their church court. Once open, undeniably unchristian self interest and seizing of our ministries cease, we can address the doctrinal disputes between our synods in Christian reconcilation and Christian love without further hostility and hatred delivered orally or in writing. The bond of peace will lead to the possibility of unity in spirit.
In this manner theological debate can occur without aggression and the ruination of souls in our church. Other Christian, Lutheran synods and faculties, trusted by both sides, might serve as counsel.
For the sake of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we admonish Christian reconcilation. The holy means to this end are:
1. A Christian reconciliation.
2. Cessation of gross hostilities before the church and the world.
3. Saving the errant souls of our rebel church children, as many as possible who turned to an honorable synod of Missouri.
4. The Synod of Missouri will then be free of the responsiblity and will no longer bear their blood-guilt once it repentantly shows them the proper path.
5. It will then be possible to attain the final goal, unity in spirit, with hearts guided in Christian reconcilation and the ending of doctrinal dispute.
On the other hand, the damage will continue if the Honorable Synod of Missouri snears at this Christian warning and continues to participate in the dreadful sins of the gangs:
1. The damage to faith, which arose at the time of their rebellion.
2. The onorous responsibility for the continued hostility and the escalating blood-guilt.
3. The breaking of their synod's resolution to omit nothing, which might serve in establishing peace within the church.
4. The thorough breech between both synods, as described by the synodal members of Missouri currently assembled in Cleveland, because it would persist in its refusal to accept the offered path to peace due to its subbornness, its unchristian pursuit of power and self interest, its self-appointed jurisdictional presence and its seizure of our ministries. Instead it would be recognized as the church of Cain for its conscious and willful persecution of us and for its accusations of heresy against those who are its brothers standing on similar grounding in faith.
May the merciful God bless this, our true reprimand and warning. May the Honorable Synod of Missouri hear us so we might persuade them to once again become our Christian and Lutheran brothers. Amen!
Buffalo, May 27, 1853.
J. Andr. A. Grabau,
The Congregational Deputies:
Translator's Note: This is the last page of the July 1870 issue, imaged and translated simply because it contained interesting historical information. It is not part of Heinrich von Rohr's history.
This year's meeting of the Synod of the Prussian Emigrant Lutheran Congregations, called the Buffalo Synod, will, if it pleases God, be held in New Walmore, New Bergholz and Wolcottsville and will begin on the 10th Sunday of Trinity.
If possible, brothers in ministerial office are requested to arrive by Wednesday, August 17th. The ministerial sessions will take place on Thursday and Friday, August 18th and 19th.
All honorable brothers in office, who wish to attend our synodal and ministerial sessions as guests, are asked to send a letter of their intent to the undersigned, who will act as local pastor, so that arrangements may be made for their stay.
Wagons will be provided at Sanborn Station on Wednesday, August 17th, for those guests arriving via Lockport. Those coming via Buffalo and Suspension Bridge will find transport waiting for them at LaSalle.
It would be desirable for each guest to submit a sermon to the first ministerial brother.
The close of the synodal sessions will not take place before Sunday, August 27th. The first congregational deputies are requested to make an appearance by Saturday, August 20th at the latest.
New Walmore, Niagara County, June 15, 1870.
The honored readers of the Kirchliches Informatorium are requested to excuse the 14-day delay of this newspaper, caused by the recent reorganization at the printing office.
Rev. H. v. Rohr,
New Walmore, Sanborn Station P.O., Niagara County, New York.
All business correspondence and payments should be sent to the Secretary of the Synod:
Rev. C. SCHADOW,
These times demand special training for anyone who wishes to succeed and everyone must have at the very least a general knowledge of all fields of learning. However the sheer volume of information is too great for people to study each and every faculty of knowledge. And not everyone has the financial means to create libraries encompassing all branches of learning. With references concerning all subjects of current knowledge conversational lexicons finally fill the void and this is why they are found in every European home. However conversational lexicons published in Germany either have insufficient or incorrect information concerning life in America or they have no information on certain topics at all. Our Conversational Lexicon is especially created with sufficient and thorough knowledge of everything to be found in this country concerning America's state of affairs and economic climate, which affect Germans and their families in their new homeland.
The best German authors in the Union have worked to help fill the needs for America. Not only have they prepared sections on all branches of general knowledge like those published in Europe; they have also compiled sections of political, social, religious, geographic, historical, statistical, biographical, scientific, legal, medical, technical and industrial topics, bringing in their relationships to business and commerce, thus correcting mistakes and filling voids in German conversation lexicons. It not only presents a complete picure of German life and pursuit in the states of the union but in the entire world in a way not found in any other work of its kind.
Orders may be place with book dealers and newspaper agents or the distributor,
Translator's note: The Conversation Lexicon has been imaged by Google Library.
August 1870: pages 49 - 51
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.
In the previous issue we showed the readers the letter our synod sent to the Synod of Missouri indicating to them the proper path to peace. Here is Missouri's response:
In the name of the exalted Holy Trinity, amen.
From the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states to the Honorable Synod of Buffalo.
May the grace, mercy and peace of God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
be with us in truth and love, Amen.
We have received the letter sent to us by the Honorable Synod of Buffalo dated May 27th. The arrival of this letter gave rise to great hope for us and the tone in which it was written was truly comforting, however we were deeply saddened to see that now the entire Honorable Synod of Buffalo shares the same opinion as Pastor Grabau, that a Christian dialog cannot take place concerning the differences in doctrine until such time as we cease the presumed injustices we are purported to have committed against you. We now see that we must rescind the offer of attending a colloquium with the entire, revered corporate body since we are being asked to admit that we have been in the wrong. We must reject this as contrary to the word of God. Our simple reason is this, because we would first have to be convinced that the Honorable Synod of Buffalo had not committed injustices by fostering errors in teaching and establishing practices built upon these errors, which went against the consciences of those who subsequently left. For reasons of faith
we accepted these people into our synod. The Honorable Synod of Buffalo now believes it finds its justification for rejecting the offer to hold dialog with us concerning doctrinal differences in scripture passages such as 2 Thessalonians 3, 14-15 and Romans 16, 17 and 18. Indeed we take a reciprocal stance and render the same decisions about the Honorable Synod of Buffalo as it renders on us. Scripture shows us how to do this and there are passages stating that it is against God's command to be in the company of sinners and heretics because when the righteous of faith become involved with sinners and heretics they fortify them in their evil existence and give grief to others. However it is in no way against God's word to concede to the request for dialog with an adversary, who might in turn become convinced of the error of his ways as a result. It might come to light on which side the truth lies, shutting the mouths of the contrary, making them ashamed for what they have said, and in the end giving support to the unsteady and fortifying the weak with the truth.
On the other hand God's word requires that each individual Christian and each Christian congregation be prepared to respond to anyone expressing the wish to know the reason for the hope they have. Do this with meekness and respect so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3: 15, 16. Here we have the example of Jesus Christ himself, His holy apostles and all true professors of the truth for all times. Whenever they were asked, they never rejected the opportunity to discuss the truth even with the most hostile foes of truth or the persecutors of God's church. In particular reference to the practices of our evangelical-Lutheran
church, we think now of the Marburg Colloquium between Luther and Zwingli, the Regensburg Colloquium with Hunnius and Heilbrunner on one side and the Jesuit Gretser on the other, on the Baden Colloquium between Andreä and the apostate Pistorius, on the Mömpelgard Colloquium between Andreä and the Calvinist Beza. We could only declare it gross heresy when the Buffalo Synod stated that they would be sinful if they joined with us to commence a religious dialog for the purpose of coming to the truth. The only thing they were prepared to do was convert us from our errors in teaching and practice, provided we were willing to condemn ourselves for our former actions against the Buffalo Synod, as they understood it, and recant our beliefs concerning divine truth and professed teaching.
Indeed we accuse the Honorable Synod of Buffalo of unchristian self interest for insisting that blatant sins in conduct must first be acknowledged and then it will render judgment on any opposing claims. Under the current circumstances this would be a useless exercise since we would first have to submit to the cleansing process of the Buffalo Synod and then provide our proof that their claim of heresy against us was untrue.
Finally the Honorable Synod reproached us for a self-conflicting statement when we admitted to them that at the time we might have declared it a sect or gang and it was for this reason that we took in its former congregational members into our synod. Grant it, a church severely confused by its own feebleness ought not to be abandoned too quickly, but when this church
will not tolerate the testimony of those witnesses for the truth, when it imposes its heresy upon them and burdens their consciences with practices based on its errors, then we have a case when Christians, who recognize the truth, are forced to leave the congregation. They feel justified in having left. Their own errors are not revolutionary and they do not turn these people into a sect. However the Honorable Synod of Buffalo assumed this regrettable stance and we had no alternative but to remind them of the words in warning by St. Augustine - There's never a schism, which does not take root and eventually form a sect. Up until now we have considered the Honorable Synod of Buffalo dangerously confused but we have not felt the need to declare it a sect. God forbid that the time may come when the truth of Augustine's statement can be seen in you.
Thus in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and in reverence for His holy church we could do nothing other than renew the proposal we made to Pastor Grabau a year ago and this time also direct it to the entire Honorable Synod of Buffalo. For the love of Jesus Christ and for the sanctity and peace of His Church perhaps the Buffalo Synod would not push away the hand we offer in gesture of reconciliation due to the same restrictions and agree to meet with us for Christian dialog concerning the prevailing doctrinal disputes so that we might heal the rift, which has developed between us in the governing of the church and establish a basis for unity in the truth.
We would gladly keep quiet about our apprehensions that the Honorable Synod of Buffalo might decline this proposal delivered in the most sincere of tones but so many negotiations we've conducted have led to disheartening results
that we are forced to conclude with this declaration: If the Honorable Synod persists in its refusal to hold a colloquium and continues to persist in its charges that we are guilty of unrepentance, we will take no further notice of these charges and instead reveal the Buffalo Synod's deviation from teaching while emphasizing the correlation between our teachings with the word of God. We would then have to lay the corrupt results of such an unholy breech before the consciences of those who through their stubbornness refused to follow the proper path to peace and thus made reconciliation impossible.
We will be assembled here until the tenth of this month and God willing, we urgently request the Honorable Synod of Buffalo to send a written response of their resolution concerning this matter before the end of this session.
May the Lord be with us all. Amen.
Cleveland, Ohio, June 3, 1853.
Microfilm provided by The Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
Imaging & translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks