It is this communal faith and trust, which binds us together and binds us to our ministers. We have not followed them blindly; rather we have rightly placed our trust in them and especially in the oldest and first among them, the currently elected bishop. These ministers have sworn a sacred oath to the articles of faith of the Lutheran church. Their oath is strong, firm and true. They are well aware that they must give full account to our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of reckoning. They have not allowed themselves to be divested of this oath either through the example of so many mercenaries, who took the same oath but perjured themselves by not holding to their sworn profession of faith, or by the decrees of the ministerial authorities, who repealed this oath either entirely or in part over the past few years. Our ministers were the only teachers who unerringly persisted in teaching the old Lutheran faith despite shameless persecution. They preferred to resign from their posts rather than break their oaths and teach altered doctrine.
Since we have left our fatherland our trust in them has increased seeing how they, freed of the European chains and unhindered, continued to care for us during the journey and showed us their love, loyalty and concern for our souls.
Thus we establish our trust in their true constancy to our communal faith and profession
and in the love we have received from them. However foremost our trust is grounded in God's holy word, to which we submit unconditionally. In so doing, there is nothing we want to know and nothing we need to do. This holy word demands that each member of the church be obedient to the teachers, who watch over their souls and follow them (Hebrews 13, 17); in turn these teachers are prohibited from dominating the people or using the souls commended to them for shameful personal gain. (1 Peter 5,2) — It is God's holy will that we keep to His word. This is enough for us and we are very happy to suffer reproach for the sake of this relationship with God.
In conclusion we declare most solemnly that we claim the honor of being called free men despite the criticism of our opponents. We have proven ourselves such by not tolerating the oppression of our faith and our consciences in our fatherland and by emigrating; we will prove ourselves free men in America by not allowing ourselves to become confused about what is pure and good in our lives.
St. Louis, April 29, 1839
(This was followed by the signatures of the following men:)
Dr Carl Eduard Vehse
Johann Gottlieb Hellwig
Johann August Störtzell
August Friedrich Häcker
Carl Julius Otto Nitzschke
Johann Friedrich Ferdinand Winter
Johann Christian Friedrich Müller
Johann Bernhard Schmidt
Johann Gottfried Otto
Johann Gottlieb Palisch
Christian Friedrich Hoffmann
Johann Gottfried Heinig
Johann Christian Gräse
Christian Gottfried Müller
Johann Christian Poppitz
Christian Gottfried Schlimpert
We are sure we can expect nothing but a new wave of insults following this declaration. We will bestow the honor of having the last word upon the editorial staff since it was they who so enthusiastically started this debate and continue to carry it on. We will not present them with a justification or a defense. There is no need for us to justify or defend ourselves against them. The old, revered, three-hundred year old Lutheran church will never have to bow before the judge's bench of a three year old child such as theAnzeiger des Westens.
the company assembled around the bishop as he sat on a bench, which they had brought with them. The bishop began to complain aloud about his troubles and to describe his undeserved persecution. He expressed the idea that as soon as the necessities of life were in order in the new fatherland, steps should be taken to compose a chronicle of the congregation. He had already gathered much material for it. — Particular attention would be paid to the character of certain individuals, who earlier in Dresden had been his greatest admirers but who later, when his star had begun to fade, disloyally withdrew from him. Even the Baron von ****, who not only promised to follow them to America but also pledged a significant sum of money, was dealt with harshly.
We believe there would be many wolves in sheep's clothing who would not be displeased if this chronicle was never published since the masks of many people would be torn away.
It is a tragic sign of the times that we so often encounter the same grasping and speculative frivolity in religious matters as we find in the everyday business world. The most noble sentiments of man are demeaned by it and turned into disgraceful parodies. A hypocrite is more despicable than a political or industrial huckster, who constructs his guiding principles or enterprises to his own advantage without questioning the rightness or wrongness of his approach.
There were a lot of people for whom Stephan was a bright star, but only for as long as he received his brightness and warmth from other, more highly placed, protecting suns; only for as long as his ties with them were of the sort whereby he could help propel these little people forward in the world of society; even if the path was not the most direct. But the relationships ended as soon as these people could no longer attain their goals through him; they withdrew and later became clear enemies of their previous protector. These people, we repeat, could cause no further injury if their dealings were revealed. This is not Stephan's wish but our own because to us nothing is more contemptible than educated men feigning piety when it is the farthest thing from their hearts, when their conduct in the business world stands in sharp contrast to it and when they are only using the appearance of it to gain their own personal goals. Such behavior is and remains despicable. The simple man of faith, who in innocence stands by his teacher, follows him, believes in him in ignorance of his teacher's evil doings, is ever more honorable than any men like you when he is unable to respond to your clever claims.
Before we let Stephan go his way we wish to mention that in general his conduct was in no way conducive to making the residents of St. Louis sympathetic towards him. Many Germans visited him, among whom
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Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks