a) The synodal decrees were not articles of faith and would not be enforced as articles of faith; people would remain sanctified even without accepting them. These decrees had not been pressed upon people; rather congregation members had drafted them through their pastors (Pastor Kindermann himself had been present) and their deputies, who accepted them and affixed their signatures to them. Since they were then published, they had the duty-binding power of God's word as exemplified in the 4th Commandment, Hebrews 13, 17, 1 Corinthians 14, 40 and the symbolic books, for example the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession. Anyone who rejected them on his own authority was disobedient and had to be reprimanded; if the individual refused to accept instruction then he was excommunicated for persistent disobedience. This occurred without their having the slightest right to speak of enforcement, which is the case when an unauthorized body composed the decrees or when physical measures needed to be employed to exact obedience.
b) The synodal decrees were also not contrary to God's word — Then page 44 was not contrary to the word of God as Pastor Kindermann stated. Hence public sins were divided into gross and petty ones. Pastor Kindermann was vexed that this division was made, — whether they should incite a general alarm or a lesser warning within the congregation. This discourse presented something new and false; there should be no distinction between a general alarm and a lesser warning. However Pastor Kindermann noticed that it stated, "whether they should incite." The degree of action was not made dependent upon the nature of the offense but on what a God enlightened congregation would make of it. *
c) Pastor Kindermann objected to the statement on page 91 where it was called separatism if someone did not wish to receive the eucharist from a pastor because he was charged with preaching false doctrine. However his proof derived from God's word was not correct. According to the unchanged Lutheran Agenda, when a false teacher administers the eucharist, people still receive the true sacrament. The synodal decrees discussed this scenario. In the passages Pastor Kindermann cited there was only a warning about the false teachings of false prophets but no interdiction against receiving the true eucharist from him. See the large Luther Catechism, pages 784 - 786. "I say, it is the word which makes the sacrament, etc." — Pastor Kindermann was in no position to compare the following two ideas or focus on either:
* The sins, which a faithful Christian congregation must address, must have occurred in the outside world, be apparent and public; therefore they are all gross offenses because they are external and despised outbreaks of sin. They appear to be gross to all because they are committed with no sign of regret. Lesser offenses appear to be those living secretly in the conscience, hidden or camouflaged with words. Thus the degree of the offense is not necessarily based on the effect it has on others but on the way in which the sinner commits it before the eyes of the church. Therefore Pastor Kindermann was also correct here. The Smalcaldic Articles call certain sins lesser if they are hidden and known to God alone. Part 3, Article 7. Return to text
Thus he came to a false conclusion, that Christ's eucharist ceases to be true if it is administered by a pastor who teaches false doctrine even though he resides in the righteous-faith church. He incorrectly cites Dr. Luther's advice, "do not take the eucharist from those, who teach Zwingli doctrine." — However he forgets, "that in a previous time there was no formalized church constitution which differentiated between the Lutheran and the Reform church, that each teacher constructed the church formula in accordance with his individual doctrine, thus the means of handling the eucharist was fashioned in agreement with that doctrine, be it false or proper; today a teacher, who does not have faith in the Lutheran church and yet still handles the sacrament in accordance with the unfalsified orders, is merely a servant and although he may be a non-believer, he still does not make the sacrament of the eucharist false." *
d) Pastor Kindermann criticized that on page 98 of the synodal decrees the United Church had been called "evangelical." Pastor Kindermann was right here, it is not evangelical. The Upper Church College responded: people had only wanted to call the Church of Prussia by its official name, just as the papist church is called Catholic although it is not. Also, the pope was no father although he was so called. Matthew 23, 9.
e) Pastor Kindermann also criticized that on pages 93 and 94 the United Church was called heterodox or encompassing different systems of faith. He should cite 2 Corinthians 6, 14; 1 Timothy 1, 3 and 6, 3; Galatians 1,6 and Hebrews 13, 9 in proof. Anyone defining the United Church as heterodoxic may just as well define it as encompassing different systems of faith. In truth it makes things much easier for people than using our catechism's definition of a false faith church, which the United Church certainly is.
e) [sic] Pastor Kindermann criticizes that the schools of the Lutheran would be handed over to the United enemies. Pastor Kindermann is right here and we have already proven this in our First Synodal Letter on page 5, paragraph 2.
f) Pastor Kindermann objected that the Breslau Synod had recommended that funds be given over to support the preachers and schools of the false church. And unfortunately this is true. The proper path would have been: We will give what we must to obey the authorites and their orders, however we will not be forced to give anything to the United Church; we can only be patient while they take things from us.
* The 8th Article of the Augsburg Confession merely regrets that there are hypocritical and unpious priests within the true church administering the eucharist. It does not state that false prophets administer it. People should not accept the eucharist from them, even though the eucharist would still be the true sacrament. However in accordance with Matthew 18 people should warn these false prophets and if they do not return to the truth, people should flee from their altar so they may no longer administer to Christians because of their false teachings. Even if the priests are public sinners, the local church is not made false; however if they are false prophets, the local church becomes false for as long as it indulges and shelters them — even if the proper formula for the eucharist is maintained. Here Luther's advice is entirely correct. Galatians 1, 8. Return to text
There are many foolish and unsupportable statements in this refutation. It is worthy of note that there are accusations of misleading and unhinging the Oderbruch congregations however Pastor Kindermann was in no way involved. With God's grace these people recognized the falseness of the synodal decrees on their own and it was only later that Pastor Kindermann joined them in their emigration efforts (so they would have a pastor). They write about the deplorable unhinging of the congregations exposed to his influence. This unhinging consisted only of the congregation's desire to emigrate with Pastor Kindermann; it was during this time that Pastor Kindermann showed them the error in the synodal decrees. There is only falsehood in the Upper Church College's letter concerning charges that he publically preached against the synodal decrees and incited the congregations. Pastor Kindermann publically swears to this. Two members of the church, who are with us today, also swear that they never heard such things in Pastor Kindermann's sermons at that time.
8) Finally a verdict was reached March 23, 1843. A letter accompanied the verdict on April 20, 1843. The judges merely state that they could not ignore the events leading to the trial or fail to render a verdict:
a) that the congregations, which Pastor Kindermann continued to serve after he was suspended, still belonged to their synodal union and that nothing was known about their sectarian separation.
I. Pastor Kindermann was found not guilty:
II. He was found guilty
a) because he wrote to those people banned from the eucharist in Berlin, called their behavior acceptable and justified their actions. — These people had rejected many parts of the synodal decrees, including the two-fold ban (excommunication from the eucharist and expulsion from the congregation) plus they had a dispute with Pastor Lasius concerning original sin, in which they thought they had found their justification in the symbolic books. It was made known to Pastor Kindermann that he had acted incorrectly;
he had not talked to the pastors of the Berlin congregations concerning what he had heard about them. Instead he wrote to Pastor Lasius, who then answered him. Pastor Kindermann should tell these people that he had sinned against them due to his letter and because he had approved of their conduct. This letter was submitted to the Upper Church College. N.B. These people wanted to emigrate and for this reason they joined Pastor Kindermann.
b) Concerning Pastor Kindermann it was decided that he had made his pronouncement concerning the synodal decrees based on several errors in comprehension - He stated that the Upper Church College had betrayed the church to the State; he had misrepresented the synodal decrees and he had spread false doctrine concerning the thousand-year reign. He had also expressed mistrust in the administration of the Upper Church College. Since the Upper Church College had given no clarifiction on the false teaching of the thousand-year reign, it was precipitous of Pastor Kindermann to burden the entire college for the remarks of a few individuals when he should have pressed charges in the proscribed manner. He publically raised controversy with the Upper Church College, which scarcely showed devotion. — (N.B. Pastor Kindermann had charged that the Upper Church College did nothing about it when the Lutheran pastors were merely called "satisfiers of spiritual need" by the Prussian State.)
c) Through his conduct he had made his congregation mistrustful of the Upper Church College and indirectly incited them to emigrate. He should acknowledge these sins before the congregations and admonish those whom he influenced to take this course.
d) The accused has acknowledged that he sinned by ridiculing the synodal decrees. Therefore he shall merely receive a reprimand to guard against such behavior in the future.
e) It shall be held against Pastor Kindermann that he wrote to his majesty, the King (Friedrich Wilhelm IV); in this letter of December 21st he registered his opposition to certain pastors but he did not name them, only stating in this letter to the King that they had the approval of the Upper Church College. In doing this he separated himself from the church! He also separated himself from the church by taking his leave of the Gramenz congregation without submitting prior notice to the Upper Church College. He also separated from the church once he declared his intention to emigrate!
The judges add to their decision: unlike the other charges listed above, the intention to emigrate is not included as a factor leading to the verdict of separation from the synod. The judges rested their verdict on Pastor Kindermann's abandonment of ministerial office because he did not assure the synod that he had no intention of separating and he did not clarify his intentions. Even though he had received a suspension from office and then been acquited, he was guilty of disobedience to the Upper Church College and this disobedience had been reinforced by the statement that he would not obey. They judged it proper that Pastor Kindermann
should conduct a parish ministry only under direct supervision and they indicated that he should leave Pomerania immediately, discontinue his prior ministry but retain his eligible status, go to Breslau and await reassignment by the Upper Church College. If Pastor Kindermann did not wish to submit to this verdict, he would no longer be considered a pastor of the Lutheran church in Prussia and his expulsion from the community would be made known. —
Our present synod deliberated for 2 days on the validity of these decisions and after inquiry we delivered a brief verdict concerning the conduct of Pastor Kindermann. Specifically, our congregations examined these questions:
I. The suspension was premature and unjust because the three judges had remarked several times beforehand that Pastor Kindermann could not be charged with disobedience towards his church commission; in fact, his obedience had been indicated.
II. The Synod decided that the judges did not remove Pastor Kindermann from office but rather merely wanted to transfer him and had indicated that he would conduct a parish ministry under special supervision. This was done mainly to prevent the congregations in Pomerania from following through on their plans to emigrate.
(Comment: Pastor Kindermann was not at liberty to submit to this transfer to Breslau because he not only saw the necessity to emigrate as a personal matter but one which tied him in conscience to the emigrating congregation, which had joined him, or rather which he joined in order to continually provide service to them.)
If in that time of so many pressing needs Pastor Kindermann did not always render the proper responses and notices * to the Upper Church College, let the urgency of the surrounding circumstances be remembered and let us not hold him too strictly accountable; rather let us be liberal with our forgiveness. †
We consider it proper and good that in general the order,
† In contrast one cannot deny the dictatorial, papist and arrogant spirit of the Upper Church College throughout the entire matter; for example, the dismissal and transfer of a pastor, the artful insertion of the synodal decrees and especially the ignoble and foolish hostility towards the Christian freedom of choice to emigrate. Gr. [Grabau] Return to text
Go on to pages 48 - 50
Copy of text provided by the A. R. Wentz Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks