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Author: Subject: 003.000 Lecture on America's United Church (TWHS, Blasig collection] 25 Jun 1865
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[*] posted on 5-13-2015 at 11:30 PM
003.000 Lecture on America's United Church (TWHS, Blasig collection] 25 Jun 1865


[Also known as 087.400 in Texas Wends: Letters and Documents]

Lecture
on
America’s United Church
By
Johann Kilian
Pastor at Serbin,
Bastrop Co.
Texas.



The United Church in America

Wendish lecture, held in the Ev. Luther. Church in Serbin, 2nd Sunday past H. Trinity

The 25th of June, 1865,
By Johann Kilian, Pastor
English Translation by Barbara Schneider


1. Because today I want to give you news of the General Synod, which calls itself Lutheran and from which the Texas Synod is a branch and of which our neighbor congregation is a small branch, I have to say first that this church was called the General Synod at its nineteenth meeting in May 19-26, 1859, at Pittsburg in Pennsylvania. The proceedings of this meeting were printed and sent to me. Out of this document, which anyone can see at my house, I will report to you how many synods, how many ministers and laymen belonged to this church 6 years ago, in the year 1859.

2. The synods comprising the General Synod 6 years ago, consisted of the following, listed in order:

1. Maryland Synod.
2. West Pennsylvania Synod.
3. South Carolina Synod.
4. Hartwich Synod.
5. North Carolina Synod.
5. New York Ministerium.
7. Virginia Synod.
8. Allegheny Synod.
9. East Pennsylvania Synod.
10. Miami Synod.
11. Wittenberg Synod.
12. East Ohio Synod.
13. Illinois Synod.
14. West Virginia Synod.
15. Olive Branch Synod.
16. Pennsylvania Synod.
17. Northern Illinois Synod.
18. Pittsburg Synod.
19. Texas Synod.
20. English Synod of Ohio.
21. Kentucky Synod.
22. Central Pennsylvania Synod.
23. Northern Illinois Synod.
24. Southern Illinois Synod.
25. Iowa Synod.
26. Melanchthon Synod.

You have now heard, that among the synods, which comprise the General Synod, the Texas Synod, #19, is also listed. Thus no one can say that the Texas Synod does not belong to the General Synod. For if the Texas Synod had broken away from the General Synod after the year 1859, we would have heard of it. Only in the time of the war, such a separation could not take place, because in this time, there was no meeting of the General Synod, and also no postal service was functioning in North America. According to the printed report, which I have in my hands, in the year 1859, the General Synod had 764 ministers, 1506 congregations and over one hundred and fifty thousand adult members attending Holy Communion. So much I got out of this document sent from the General Synod.

3. What now will be told about the General Synod comes from the monthly magazine of the Missouri Synod, which is called “Doctrine and Defense.”

First we want to hear what doctrine the General Synod required of a minister when he entered his office. They asked him, “Do you believe that the main doctrines of the Word of God are taught in an essentially correct way in the articles of the Augsburg Confession?”

Here one sees how one of the leading men expressed himself:
1. that not the whole Augsburg Confession is meant, but only the 21 Articles, which deal with doctrine (thus the last 7 articles concerning the set-aside abuses need not be accepted.)
2. that the obligation only relates to the main teachings, and
3. that in this regard, it will only be demanded, that he who receives the way considers that it is essentially correctly taught in the Augsburg Confession. Therefore it is left to the will of each one, what he will consider as the main teaching, and what he will understand the words “essentially right” to mean.

Therefore one can say, that the General-Synod really has no creed which expresses absolutely what they believe and teach; even Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc., can be well obligated, if they are not ashamed, to adopt such a creed, which recognizes no certain belief, but conceals and obscures and allows each one to decide what he believes and teaches. The Lutheran Church as the correct Biblical church is one such, that recognizes its specific beliefs openly and discards all others. But the General Synod does not do that, because it yields to the will of anyone that he is permitted to believe and teach according to his discretion, if he does not go too far over the line. In short, it is completely bland, entirely mixed doctrine. And if any teacher or any District Synod therein has a really pure doctrine, that only proves that God has his seeds also in false churches. The General Synod to and for itself is not Lutheran and calls itself Lutheran in error.

4. But one could say: “Perhaps the mistake lies only in the expression of this wording; perhaps it was meant differently; perhaps church life is better.” If it were so, we could not be attached to the letter, but should receive it with joy, even if we must say that if a church is convinced of the truth, they must immediately rectify such a misleading expression. Then if people recognize the truth correctly, they will certainly get the same thing, clearly and distinctly. The orthodox Christian says: I believe, therefore I speak. But we want now to prove that the church life of the General Synod is not better than that wording says, and that serves, in my opinion, to hide errors and not to recognize the truth.

Ottesen’s judgment on the General Synod, “Doctrine and Defense,” September Issue, 1859.


In the year 1855, some ministers of the General Synod had a document printed with the title “Definite Platform,” etc.; that is, the basic foundations of doctrine and cultivation of churches for the Evangelical Lutheran District Synods, positioned in agreement with the policy of the General Synod. In this pamphlet, there were 5 parts of the Augsburg Confession omitted, that they did not like, namely these parts:

1. The approval of the ceremonies of the mass (Art. 24).
2. Private confession and absolution (Art. 25).
3. Denial that God’s commandment to celebrate the Sabbath is obligatory for us (Art 28).
4. Being born again through Holy Baptism (Art. 2).
5. The true presence of the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion (Art. 10).

This revised, or better said, mutilated Augsburg Confession was publically adopted by more than one of the synods that belonged to the General Synod. Those that did so were called the “Platformists.” The first district synod that did so was the Wittenberg Synod in the State of Ohio. This gathered on the 6th of September, 1855, and published the following resolution: “Because about twenty-five years ago, the General Synod of the American Lutheran Church introduced in the constitution of their seminary and in the district synods a limited recognition of the Augsburg Confession, at the time of ordination or licensing of preachers, without indicating the omitted doctrines more closely other than by the designation that these same teachings were not the fundamental doctrines of the Holy Scriptures; because among our preachers and churches, a general demand prevails, to have the basis of the doctrine in a specified form and implementation, this determination was left to the discretion of each District synod; therefore we adhere to the cause of truth, for the sake of both us and for our children as obligatory, to state exactly which tenets of the Augsburg Confession and the earlier symbolic Doctrine structure were rejected, some by all, the others from the large body of preachers and churches of the General Synod in this land. Therefore the American revision of the Augsburg Confession was drafted with the counsel and joint work of a number of eastern and western Evangelical Lutheran preachers from synods connected with the General Synod, on the basis of the special wish of western brothers whose churches need it above all, because they remain in the midst of German churches, the large majority of which confess the earlier Symbols. In this revision, not a single sentence is added to the Augsburg Confession, while only the doctrinal views were omitted that were long ago found by the large majority of our churches to be unscriptural and remnants of Roman teaching.

The only errors that the Confession contains and that this same revision itself omits” (the previously listed 5 doctrinal points) etc.

Because the Wittenberg Synod accepted this platform, as it said, as “an exact expression of the teaching obligation, which is stipulated by the General Synod for the District Synods,” they had also concluded that they in their Synod would take in no preachers who do not declare these foundations to be their own.

“Doctrine and Defense,” October and November issues, 1855


Now it must be said, that against this mutilation of the Augsburg Confession, a minister in Philadelphia, by the name of W. S. Mann, published in the year 1856 a pamphlet and defended the Augsburg Confession. This minister also belonged to the General Synod. And not only did he belong to the General Synod, but he spoke out strongly against the revisers of our symbols. And so a big war broke out in the General Synod.

“Doctrine and Defense,” March issue, 1856


5. Because now the General Synod came through this war in affliction and distress, what did they do? They did not draw the “Platformists” into a church fight, but suffered such betrayal of the dearest truths of the Lutheran Church, and suffered these opponents of the Augsburg Confession in the most important offices, for example, as Professors, and suffered also that they teach against the Augsburg Confession in the intended pieces. Yes, even more, the General Synod suffered and suffers still, that more than one District synod publicly adopted the miserable platform. It did not eject those District synods that publicly discarded the 5 parts of the Augsburg Confession, but they continued to belong to the General Synod. The Augsburg Confession states that being born again happens through baptism, and that Christ’s body and blood are present in Holy Communion and are distributed and received. These obnoxious synods hold both of these things as errors, and holds that ministers who do not recognize them as errors will not be accepted into synodical union. And still they belong to the General Synod. But if the General Synod allows those District synods in their company, who publicly write and teach against the Augsburg Confession concerning baptism, Holy Communion, and other things, then everyone must see what the General Synod (United church) is. And if there are many in the General Synod who accept completely the Augsburg Confession and fight for it, so such people must be called United, as long as they stand in synodical and altar communion with such and work together with those who dismiss the Augsburg Confession in some parts, just as also in the Prussian United church, no minister –no matter how religious he might be—could be called something else than United, so long as he does not publicly leave.

6. We must consider that the novices and leaders of the platform were just among the first most distinguished men of the General Synod. The last President of the General Synod, Dr. Harkey, said directly in his inaugural address as theological Professor in Springfield, that he refused to accept “absolutely” the Augsburg Confession in various unessential points and minor details; he demanded freedom in “those parts, and the doctrine of the sacrament would be one of the points about which one can have various opinions.” Is this not exactly the direction of the United Church, that one can teach as Lutheran as well as Reformed, especially regarding Communion?

But here can one ask: How can this equivocal accepted wording that the General Synod minister accepted be spread so far? As you have already heard, the wording is this: Do you believe that the chief doctrines of God’s Word are essentially correctly taught in the Augsburg Confession? How can they then say that the chief doctrines of the Augsburg Confession are essentially correctly taught, since they must concede that the teaching about baptism and Holy Communion are chief doctrines. The thing may be explained thus: if one comes to the opinion, that in Baptism the rebirth does not happen, and that in Holy Communion, the body and blood of Christ is not truly present, so the essence of the sacrament is removed and disavowed, so this Sacrament is considered as nothing more than a minor symbol and sign. Consequently one can then say, that the doctrine of the Sacrament is no chief doctrine, because its essence is removed.

Doctrine and Defense, September issue, 1859


7. Another of the founders and leaders of the General Synod, Dr. Schmucker, theological professor of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, stated in a church newspaper in the year 1860 thus: “According to its Constitution, the General Synod was founded for the promotion of Christian love; for that reason, the inclusion of such items which incite doctrinal disputes was contrary to their goals. The great principle of Luther was that the Scriptures are the unerring guide to life and faith, and his chief teaching, to which this principle led him, namely justification by faith alone, was recognized by the General Synod, as was every necessary antecedent or consequence connected with it. Indeed, the voluminous confessions which in a quarter century after Luther’s death were inflicted on the Lutheran Churches in Germany, were neither approved nor adopted by the General Synod. Conditional recognition of the Augsburg Confession was all that it understood. The educational basis was determined, to hold within the General Synod the various schools of thought and to encompass all in harmony, which Lutherans mutually wish to recognize.”

Doctrine and Defense, December issue, 1860


Here you see it clearly, what the General Synod held for its task, namely the advancement of Christian love among those, which take themselves under the Augsburg Confession, as if under their common flag, so that the banner the various schools of thought hold in common, that the multitude thereby do not rip themselves apart, but only remain together. This aim precludes all doctrinal conflicts, which disturb harmony. Thus brotherly love has first place, but the love of God comes second. Christ’s first commandment is this alone: Preach the Gospel to all creatures, Mark 16. Therefore St. Paul summarizes his entire apostolic work when he says: Christ has sent me to preach the Gospel (1 Corinth. 1:17) and that it has pleased God, through the foolishness of preaching, to save those who believe (1 Corinth 1:21.1). The Lord then has also said in Matthew 10:34 “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword!” Hence it is obvious, that a Synod, which instead of preaching the Gospel, makes the practice of love and unity to be its principle, each time there is an offense against the Gospel, where a pure and unfeigned profession against the same intruding error would disturb outward unity and love. Such a Synod would rather sacrifice the Gospel in one or several parts of its doctrine, than its external love and unity, against the expressed command of the Lord: “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28: 20). It will rather mutilate and falsify the Word, that the Lord has given it, rather than allow its congregation to come in danger of disunion and schism. That is the way of the General Synod all over the world. Merely to sustain the Synodical association, its members neglect it, especially its leading men, if they themselves do not stand in false doctrine, against generation of lies, and freely and publicly confess the truth of God’s Word, as it is recorded in the confession of the Lutheran Church. They are ready to sell the chief part of the Gospel, basic articles of Christian teaching and trade for external unity and friendship and only for this, that their congregation has and keeps a crowd of people.

And so the General Synod recognizes the Augsburg Confession, but not honestly and absolutely, so that if an emergency happens, this or that piece of doctrine can be let go to maintain unity, and they can still have a good excuse. If I say, “the Augsburg Confession is the acknowledgement of my faith,” then everyone knows what my faith is. Then that means that I view all the teaching contained in the Augsburg Confession as the expression of my faith created from the Word of God. I believe everything that is written in the Augsburg Confession.

But if I say “the Augsburg Confession is an avowal of my faith, as far as it agrees with the Holy Scriptures,” then I have opened up my statement completely with this limitation. For so long as I do not explain exactly, how far the Augsburg Confession in my opinion agrees with the Scriptures and how far it does not, then no one knows how I feel about it. Thus such a limited acknowledgement of the Augsburg Confession is to me an empty flickering and pure sham. But it turns out, that the General Synod’s main articles of the Augsburg Confession, through which the Lutheran Church distinguishes itself from other Christian churches, as the doctrine of baptism, Holy Communion, absolution, and Sabbath, either expressly rejects or through toleration of the opposing false doctrines and through omission of evidence against them coming to light, that they held these doctrines of the Augsburg Confession to be not strictly scriptural, so one must accept that the absolute acknowledgement of the Augsburg Confession in the General Synod only happens this way, so that they can say: “We stand on the Augsburg Confession.” But it is clear that the General Synod in truth stands on nothing else than on its love and harmony, in which everyone is free at his discretion to hold or discard some teaching of the Holy Scriptures and Lutheran Confession as basic teaching, but others not to hold, and thus to believe or to discard.

One must not be surprised that the General Synod does not accept other Symbols of our church, because they commit themselves in the same conditional way, and thus are not bound by anything stated therein. But it appears that the party hostile to confessions in the General Synod is not sufficiently unconscionable that they want to apply to the other symbols their conditional adherence to the Lutheran confession. That would mean to them too much crude handling of holy things. Therefore they stop with the Augsburg Confession.

But why does the General Synod state at the outset, that they hold to the Augsburg Confession, as they do not want to acknowledge it purely and honestly, but only in a conditional fashion? They do that so that those of their people who hold a Lutheran faith can say: the General Synod confesses the teaching of the Lutheran Church and of the “Augsburg Confession”! But they acknowledge the Augsburg Confession in a conditional fashion, so that they can say to those of less substantial faith: “With us, there are no compulsory symbols; we have complete doctrinal freedom, so that the teaching of the church and the Augsburg Confession is valid, only as far as it agrees with the Scriptures.” Therefore the General Synod holds its members together through duplicity. Thus one must be amazed how such a man as Dr. Schmucker can say that he stands on the Augsburg Confession.

Doctrine and Defense, December issue 1860.


A periodical of the General Synod, Evangelical Review, in the year 1858, said thus:
“It was said to the strict symbolists in the General Synod: You have united yourselves with others on a foundation which does not demand specific acceptance of the Augsburg Confession, which allows differences in several places, especially in the Sacraments. While you confess that, you exclude nothing, that you believe the Rebirth in Baptism and the real substantial presence of Christ in Communion, as this is represented in the Formula of Concord and by our older theologians; you have agreed to be united in a congregation with those who do not share that faith.”

See, that is pouring clear wine! Here it is outright, that he who in the General Synod has a right, consistent with the Constitution, he who denies the Rebirth in Baptism and the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in Communion, just as he, who believes this according to the Scriptures and the Augsburg Confession, that he, who has the truth, cannot say, according to the basis of teaching of the General Synod, to the advocates of error, “You are not Lutheran,” and cannot demand that they be expelled; instead he must, as it is said in another place, withdraw, in case he no longer wishes to call the teachers of error in the General Synod “dear brothers.”

Doctrine and Defense, September issue, 1859.


8. Here it must be mentioned, that before the war, the General Synod published a public document, which also was sent to me. It seems to me that the title had “Epistles of the General Synod.” But I can no longer find this document. As far as I can remember, it says in this document that in the General Synod, no one can write and speak publically against those in the General Synod who want to discard pieces of the Augsburg Confession, so that no rumor arises, but that each one must exit, if his conscience does not permit him to remain in fellowship with those in the congregation. And that person is also bidden to keep the peace. For the General Synod demands harmony above all things, even if one must purchase this with denial of the truth, so that only a great crowd remains together, and so that its nice institutions, its colleges, its orphanages, its hostels for neglected children, its organization for building churches, its society for book publishing, and other associations may not suffer, all of which are supported by rich taxes on alms!

The General Synod is to all appearances a wonderful church, which is striking to see. But they teach from divided hearts. Therefore our Missouri Synod, which confesses absolutely and properly all symbolic writings of the Lutheran Church, stands opposed to it with all its strength.

9. Also in the Lutheran State Church in Europe in past time, great weakness predominated, and in many places still predominates, that some false doctrine is taught and congregations as well, that also the church regimes do not pay attention, but suffer false doctrine, as was the case in the Saxon Lutheran Church at the time of the predominating religion of rationality. But here we have to see, that as long as such churches remain Lutheran, that the oath on the Biblical and symbolic teaching is not changed. In Saxony, the 4 ministers that have had control over the Lutheran Churches ever since the king became Catholic, have the Bishop’s law over the Lutheran Churches, always on the word of the Prophets and Apostles, as it is interpreted in the common Confession documents, sworn unconditionally and still used to swear today, when entering office. And if they receive the way, all ministers take the oath on the Word of God, unconditionally, as it is interpreted in our symbolic books. Thus the Saxon church has remained Lutheran, so that congregations that protest false doctrine must be heard. If congregations put up with false doctrine or do not judge it or be able to distinguish it, or if the church rule is negligent and does not watch over correct doctrine as it should, then there is only weakness or ignorance in the church. But canon law remains, so long as the oath remains unchanged and the law is the protection of the congregations; they can use it or not. Only if the oath is changed, as in Prussia, that the church authorities and clergymen are sworn in on a new unlutheran agenda or other man-made statutes, or if they are sworn in on the Bible alone, that in its interpretation, the arbitrariness of each person is conceded, and that they are not sworn in on the Bible as it is interpreted in the Augsburg Confession and the other Confessional documents of the Lutheran Church; thus the Lutheran Church lost its rights to land and the congregations are sold in the new teaching and no longer have rights, that they ask for Lutheran doctrine or have identification of that which is against Lutheranism. The wolf then demands the same rights as the sheep.

It can be said no better that where clergymen have sworn conditionally on the symbolic documents, so that they obtain the right to teach Lutheran doctrine, insofar as it agrees with the Holy Scriptures. Then with such a condition, it is stated that in the symbolic documents, not everything agrees with the Holy Scriptures, but that also there are things therein, which are against the Holy Scriptures. To every clergyman, it is left to his discretion with such oaths, how much of the symbolic writings he wants to consider as Biblical teaching. Therefore such an oath is no better than none. The history of the General Synod demonstrates that where no party has the right to expel the others, the sheep are committed to live in peace with the wolves as dear brothers. In the event that they don’t want to do that, they have to leave. And of the wolves, it is also said that they deny their wolf nature and are nicely tame, so that no rumor can arise, but that harmony remains. And we hope, that the wolves, because they belong under the leadership of the General Synod and hold high offices and are well-educated, that they pay attention to the lesson and chasten their wolf nature a bit. For peace and harmony is the highest good in the world. But in the church, the highest good is God’s grace and truth.

10. We want to hear our D. Luther regarding this vaunted harmony. He says in his interpretation of the Epistle to the Galations, thus: “All Germany knows well, that the Gospel originally was kindled by no one, then by the Papists alone. But they, so the doctrine of the Evangelists assumes, were a single thing in all matters and remained in such unity until the mobs took care of themselves with their new notions and opinions, not only for the Sacraments, but for the other articles. They confused the Christian congregations and disrupted their harmony. Since that time, the mobs have increased; for if one error arises, more follow, until one falls away from the truth. From this, it follows that the unity of the heart is separated from the articles of faith, and then everyone will do what seems right to him. Therefore they do us great violence and injustice, that they blame us for disrupting Christian unity. It is very painful, if an innocent party must bear the punishment, which another has incurred, especially in such an important thing. But we could all forget this easily, receive them in turn and instruct them with a gentle spirit, if they only turned to the right track, and properly walked with us, that is, if they correctly and in a Christian way considered the Lord’s Supper and the other articles of Christian doctrine, and if they wanted to teach and preach with us unanimously not their own notions and dreams, but Christianity, such that the Son of God though us and the Father through Him will be glorified. But now they only exploit Christian love and harmony, which one should not disturb, making the article of the Sacrament limited, as if it were not important; we will consider the Lord’s Supper as we like. We could not bear that, but as much as they press for the unity of life, we press for the unity of doctrine and faith. If they would let these things remain unharmed, then we would indeed prize the unity of life, as they would always hold without damage the unity of faith and spirit. For if you lose these things, you have lost Christ; if He is gone, the unity of love will do you no good.

On the other hand, if you maintain the unity of spirit and Christ, it won’t hurt you if you do not unite yourself with those who falsify and pervert the Word, and thereby harm the unity of the spirit. Therefore I would prefer not only that, but that the whole world shun me and become my enemy, than that I fall away from Christ and make Him my enemy, which would happen, if I let go of His clear public Word and be attached to their loose dreams, through which they force the Word of Christ according to their opinion. To me, the One Christ is much greater and more than unity of love beyond measure.”

Interpretation of the Epistle to the Galatians, 6:1.


As respects the branch of the General Synod, which is called the Texas Synod, so states their constitution, which they have published:
“We, the ministers and candidates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the State of Texas, recognize Jesus Christ as the only Head of the Church and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the only infallible guideline (norm) of our faith and life. As a bond of union, we accept the unchanged symbolic documents as they are contained in the Book of Concord, and undertake to accept these as the correct interpretation of the Word of God, and to preach and teach accordingly.” On this same subject belongs the sentence in the Constitution, Article XI, 5. [paper damage] Candidate should recognize the symbolic books of our Church as the true interpretation of the Word of God and promise to teach accordingly.” From this message, which the Texas Synod itself has openly published, we see
1) that they have the will to teach God’s Word in a Lutheran way,
2) that the General Synod, a branch of which it is, allows it freedom, to teach in a Lutheran way, and its united nature does not [paper damage].
3) that accordingly the Texas Synod is within the General Synod,
as many Lutheran-minded ministers were within the Prussian United Church, which allowed them to teach in a Lutheran way, as they liked, if they only maintained the King’s new agenda, and in the parish or in the church, left it alone and said nothing against it. Similarly, the ministers of the Texas Synod are Lutheran birds in a United cage, as long as they do not say anything publicly before the world against it. The Texas Synod belongs in such a church community in which Lutheran and Reformed have the same rights, as demonstrated in the history of the General Synod described earlier. Therefore our neighboring congregation in Serbin stands in connection with the United church, as long as it belongs with its pastor to the Texas Synod, that is, as long as the Texas Synod says nothing against the General Synod, or as long as our neighbor with its pastor has not separated itself from the Texas Synod.

12. As for me, I have belonged since the year 1855 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod, which recognizes wholeheartedly the collected symbolic writings of the Lutheran Church and teaches God’s Word accordingly and publically stands against the General Synod. Consequently all the writings of the Missouri-Synod have been faithfully sent to me, until the time of the War, for as long as it has gone on. I also have from the President of the Missouri Synod an English document with a seal on it, stating that I am a member of the Missouri Synod. Anyone can see it at my house. I say this because I hear that some people doubt whether I really belong to the Missouri Synod.

Although my present congregation still does not belong to any Synod, but is an independent Evangelical Lutheran congregation, still it has always looked favorably, as far as I know, on the fact that I belong to the Missouri Synod, and 4 years ago permitted me to travel to St. Louis to the Synodal conference. And I tell you all that my current dispute rests not only on the writings that I had sent from the General Synod itself, but also especially are taken from the Missouri documents, which I have in my hands. And also that which I communicated to you for consideration on the second day of Pentecost regarding Luther and Francke is not from me alone, but the communicated statement is from the Missouri Synod, which Spener and Francke honor highly, but which judges all teachers according to the Word of God, as the Symbolic books say at the beginning of the Formula of Concord: “We believe, teach and recognize, that the eternal rule and guide, according to which all teaching and teachers alike will be directed and judged, is all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as it is written: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, Ps. 119:105.

And St. Paul: If an angel from heaven came and preached differently, he should be accursed. Galatians 1:8. Other writings of old or new teachers, as they are called, should not be considered the same as the Holy Scriptures, but they and others together have been subject to the same, and not accepted further but as witnesses, in which form and place such teachings of the Prophets and Apostles are preserved after the time of the Apostles.” So Luther respected Augustinian very much, but nevertheless discarded such sayings of Augustinian that are not right. But if any part of doctrine from a teacher is presented to further deliberation to see if it could be proven to be scriptural or not, so that the teacher is not discarded, even if it is said that a house has a wrongly assembled window or that otherwise there isn’t one, or that it is not said that a house can’t be lived in, but must be abandoned. But some have the ignorant habit, that they read a piece to see if they like it or not, and then accept or discard the whole thing. During my lifetime, I have seen people exalt something too soon or discard it too soon, both unjustly and without understanding. But because our Missouri Synod is sharper in its discrimination of churches and doctrine, than the Union’s souls are valued, which also sells the truth, if it can buy peace and unity for it; so certainly everyone among us, which are Old Lutheran in truth and love the sharp discriminations, through this our battle, we feel moved to join the Missouri Synod, which will especially bring its benefits if this congregation will need teachers. The Missouri Synod is German, and in the year 1860, it had 171 preachers and 250 congregations, 2 colleges and over 100 students.

13. That now our neighbor community in Serbin belongs to a quite different church from us, that one can see not only from itself, as was stated earlier, but also it can be known because it takes in our apostates, as churches do when they are completely divided. Take for example the two Lutheran congregations in Saxony. If I were the pastor of one such Lutheran congregation in Saxony and a person from another congregation came to me and vilified his pastor, called him a heretic, and wanted to join my congregation, I would write to my fellow pastor or otherwise contact him to let him know what kind of sheep he had, so that he could take him to task, but I would admonish the person and turn him away. But if the fellow pastor were in truth a heretic, I would say to the unsatisfied person that leaving was not the correct path, but complaint to the authorities. And if the person did not dare to complain, yet he dared to vilify, he would thereby disclose that the fault of his pastor could not be great, but that he was a slanderer. For if a fault is great, then a complaint to the authorities is easy. But if a fault is little or none, then complaining is difficult, because what is said must be proven.

But now that our neighbor congregation takes in our apostates without further question, which certifies clearly enough, that it belongs to an entirely different church. And if it wants to say, that it is one with us, that is only a statement that has no reason behind it, because its deeds say otherwise. But we do not say that we are one with it, but bear witness that each of the two congregations in Serbin belongs to a different church, otherwise our altar would not be separated from theirs, or theirs from ours, but we would all maintain one altar.

Therefore we take all those who come from them to us, just as we take those who come from a Catholic or another church. So our words and our deeds agree. And if we were so thoughtless that we wanted to preach, as the false prophets did, “Peace, peace!” (Jer. 8:11), there would still not be peace. The difference cannot be blurred, even if we wanted to make a church union; the loose mortar would fall away again (Ezek 13:10-12). We are two kinds of people and have two kinds of doctrine. God grant that this fact may come better to light.

For if people who stay with that congregation always find fault with our sermons, that is a sure sign, that we are not united in doctrine. Therefore we should investigate in what parts the difference lies. And if the doctrine would be the same between us, and if brothers could stay separate from us for 7 years only out of personal hate, that would be a devilish hate. Therefore we prefer to say that we are not united in doctrine, but that is not recognized in a welcome way.

14. Because a long time ago, among some people, there was a lot of talk, that I had wanted to join the Texas Synod, but the Texas Synod did not admit me; so first I must say that this talk is a lie. But it has been close to my heart, as long as I did not know the Texas Synod, whether ways could not be found to unite all those in Texas who called themselves Lutheran. Therefore I was disposed to go to the annual meeting of the Texas Synod, and once started to go there, but had to turn around due to rainy weather. It happened, that I once went to a meeting of the Texas Synod. It came to my mind that I wanted to be included in this synod, but foremost I had only to know what difference there was between us. And if there was no hope that we could be united.

Therefore, in the year 1858, I visited Pastor Ebinger in Brenham, spoke with him and told him the first thing that had to happen, before we could come together, would be the exit of the Texas Synod from the General Synod. But he did not think that was necessary. In a letter which I got from Ebinger during this time and which is found in our church archives, Pastor Ebinger says: “Although we belong to the General Synod, there is no proof that we share the same views in all parts or had interference from the Synod in reference to freedom of thought or doctrine. In any case, it is a completely wrong view that has arisen here in America, namely that because the General Synod and other Synods are not exactly like Missouri and Buffalo, that they are United, that is, Unirte, as it was with us at home [in Europe]. There have penetrated into the doctrine of the General Synod many more puritanical, Baptist and Methodist elements, where it unfortunately departs here and there from Old Luther. But our Synod has nothing to do with it, in that the General Synod allows each of its adhering Synods its own Constitution and forces its views on no one.” (The underlined parts were underlined by Pastor Ebinger himself).

Those are the words from Ebinger’s letter, all of which anyone can read at my house. I wrote Pastor Ebinger an answer, in which one can see that we are different and separated. That all happened in the year 1858, therefore 7 years ago, and that profited me, that I now know for sure that the Texas Synod goes one way, and we another.

This Pastor Ebinger is the same one, who was then in the year 1859 sent by the Texas Synod to the convention of the General Synod, which was held in Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania. From the General Synod itself, as I said earlier, I was sent a printed report about this convention, in which was said what Pastor Ebinger had said at the convention regarding the Texas Synod. Among other things, he said this: “For 6 years now, we have been united with this body, not out of pure formality—but in all sincerity of heart and with the desire that this connection will be maintained in the future.”

15: Now I have to tell you still one more thing, whereby it is also clear to see that the Texas Synod is a quite different church from ours. You probably remember well, namely those of you who were here 7 years ago, that our people who left, when they still belonged to us, were invited because of their running to the Methodists before the congregational meeting, which was supposed to be held on the last days of Pentecost, the 25th of May, 1858. And when the announced congregational meeting was held, these Methodist friends did not appear, but sent a letter of separation. So when they should have appeared before the congregational meeting, they shamefully avoided the issue. Afterwards, they saw where they could unite with a church, because they did not want to remain a sect that belongs nowhere. Because they could not agree with the Methodists, with whom they first were busy, they inquired further and found Pastor Lieb, who was willing [illeg], but later Lieb affiliated [illeg ] the President of the Texas Synod wrote to St. Louis to the President of the District Synod, to whom I [damage]. After that, I received a letter from my President, Pastor Schaller, from St. Louis, which was written on August 23, 1859 [64.5], and which lies in our church archives. Pastor Schaller wrote me in this letter thus: “Revered dear brother Pastor! Mr. P.T.C. Roehm, President of the First Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Texas, has directed a document to me, wherein he reports that P. Lieb, with a part of your congregation, some excluded and some exited, now have organized their own congregation, should serve together a while, as the legality of that exclusion has not been demonstrated from the point of view of our Synod. Therefore I kindly ask to have communicated to me the course of events, so that I am in a position to be able to give a judgment about it.” Now it is very nice of the President of the Texas Synod, that for the sake of our separatists, he has turned to my Synod to learn whether he may take in Pastor Lieb. What is said in the letter, that they are a part excluded and a part exited, is a lie, therefore we cannot complain about President Roehm, but about the liars who told him that. I sent to my President Shaller a long exposition about the whole quarrel, which in a copy with Schaller’s letter is to be found in our church archives. And because I have kept the letter of separation that I got 7 years ago from our runaway brethren, explaining [illeg] that no excommunication happened, the legality of the exit need not be established, as President Roehm wanted. Thus my President Schaller did not need to correct me, and I was relieved from all additional responsibility. The lies snuffed themselves out.

The year was past on October 9, 1858, when Pastor Lieb from Roundtop came out to my house with one of the separated ones and showed me that he [illeg] was called hither and that he came to ask what separated us, and that he wanted to look after the people, so that they did not go to the Methodists. I said that they were irreconcilable people. So it was at my request, which also Pastor Lieb recognized to be proper, that October 10th was set for an attempt at reconciliation. Therefore on October 10th, they had not yet received Holy Communion from Pastor Lieb, which was otherwise arranged, but the reconciliation was attempted on that date. Three of the separated ones came, which thereby began with their saying: What do you want with us? We do not want to return to you. Thus the runaway brethren remained irreconcilable to the present day. From now on, Pastor Lieb left the right path, which he had taken until then, and nevertheless took in the irreconcilables, which he could not do without approval from his Texas Synod. That is now a [damage] of the Texas Synod, that they [damage] take in the runaways [damage], if it is a Lutheran Synod. [damage] we do not want to judge them severely, but take that as a [damage], that is it a quite different church than we are. Now ch[urches?] which are completely alien and repugnant, act this way, that one takes in the apostates of the other. And just as Secession has ravaged America, so has church Secession desolated our [damage] world, that many of our brothers [damage] the altar community [damage] hold for a reason and consider people.

Translated by Barbara Schneider, July 2013.

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