What Grabau Teaches and Professes: Pages 8 - 13

3. Grabau's Self-Elevation

The Pope rules over everyone but he is neither ruled by the church nor any individual; his authority presides over the judgment of the councils and the entire church. Thus he makes himself God. [See Schmalkald Article in Appendix.]

Luther says: The proclamation, that the pope will suffer no judge over him, is worse than any fanaticism he could perpetrate. Grabau's desire to emulate the pope in this regard could not only be seen by all in his deeds but also could be heard in his words. On the Sunday after New Year 1866 he proclaimed from the pulpit: I could explain to you how these things have come to me and how I have come to deliver them to you from the pulpit, but I will not explain since I am responsible only to God, etc. Some time after this sermon when the ministry was assembled in Buffalo, I sent a letter to Pastor von Rohr and asked him to lay this matter before the ministry. In this letter I requested an answer to this question: what is the difference between a senior churchman of the Buffalo Synod and the Pope in Rome if the senior churchman need answer to no one and be responsible to God alone. At that time I was ready to deliver evidence that Grabau was falsely teaching other things. They banned me. On February 6, 1866 Pastor Grabau met with Pastor Hochstetter, who in the presence of Pastor Zeumer notified Mr. Grabau that he must prepare a report to the ministry: "Even if a hundred ministers come, I have nothing to answer for" (See 9th Synodal Letter, Page 71). Grabau demanded unconditional obedience from his congregation; blindly it had to follow him and say: Grabau said it, therefore it must be right. How could it be otherwise? With his talent and his skill Grabau would make the Word of God powerful and actual. According to Grabau's teachings the laity had no right to judge matters of doctrine. Such woe, oh woe to those who doubted the correctness of Grabau's teachings; to them came condemnation as he seized them in his majesty. Pastors Hochstetter and von Rohr dared to consider in "Christian deliberation" upon the teachings and ministry of Pastor Grabau and for this they were proclaimed rabble rousers and purveyors of false doctrine; they were dragged before the pulpit and called mutineers, that is, people who had raised themselves up against the sublime majesty of authority. To summarize: anyone who spoke up against Grabau had committed a mortal sin; Grabau created new precious stones for his martyr's crown. He also loves it when his

use of hypocritical flattery elicited from people reports of comments made or supposedly made against him. This too must also be exposed along with the lies and it must be reported to the Christian public. An "honorable Christian" had brought him the news that I had supposedly said something against him and he served this up to the public in his so-called Aufklärungen. It states on page 20:
"Here were still the life-traces of the Henning Gang (Grollmitz, Becker and Hochstetter) in Buffalo. Thus writes an honorable Christian of this city:

Historical Facts

Whosoever has a full heart speaks of it - Luke 6, 45. Does one find grapes in the thorns or figs in the thistles? Matthew 7, 16.

"It was at the end of April that I came on business to the workplace of Br. H., S. D. Str. and heard of the dispute between our pastors Grabau and Hochstetter, etc. At the time I took it to be nothing more than family quarrels, originating from gossip and discord and I said very little about it. Henning said terrible things about Grabau and his dreadful teachings, etc and among other things he said: it would be worth it for him or somebody else (I don't remember the exact words) to hit him over the head. I no longer remember whether or not I said anything about that. I just went my way and didn't give it another thought until a couple of weeks ago when Deacon Hochstetter and R. from Marilla were with me on another matter where the conversation arose that Brother Heilbronn had made a certain declaration * at a certain place here in Buffalo which was substantially the same as a statement made by another church member. To this Mr. Rosenkrantz in the presence of Deacon Hochstetter answered: If Heilbronn said that, somebody should shoot him. Another participant in the faction, Student T., was with me eight days ago, talking in a similarly slanderous manner and among other things he said he would sharpen his knife, whittle a cudgel, and

* During Pastor Zeumner's visit in M. [May?] the assembled brethren of the General Assembly testified that the so-called "certain declarations" are lies.

if someone came to his house because of these disputed matters, he would thrash them out the door but if Pastor Grabau himself approached he would hit him over the head. If this is the fruit of the teachings of this new faction, then God protect us from it."

When this slanderous report was read to the assembled congregation one of the brethren asked: Was anyone at that discussion who can tell us whether Brother Henning said that? However no one came forward and Grabau immediately urged the assembly to agree to its withdrawal from the Synod. The recorder of these glorious "historical facts" did not sign his name to them. He said himself that he still didn't know whether he said something or what he would have said. He had left and thought no more about it until he encountered another person and another declaration, similar to the first one and then another during a conversation against Grabau. Only now does the issuer of the report shed light on the situation stating that: Henning also spoke thus. He did not warn Henning, whom he called brother. He kept to himself. And know this, that he did not treat the matter in a Christian way but rather went contrary to Christ's command: If a brother sins against you, punish him. In short, everything revolves in the head of the reporter like a mill wheel - the words I may have used he no longer remembers but this much still resides in his memory, that I had spoken against Grabau's "dreadful teachings", and that would be the greatest sin of all. Therefore I was branded in his publication as one who wished to establish Henning's Gang.

Anyone unconnected with a particular faction can see that we not only had a perfect right but indeed we had a sacred duty to separate ourselves from Grabau. Thus we were cursed and damned as mutinous rabble by the fanatical dependents of Pastor Grabau. According to them anyone who separated himself from Grabau deserved death and eternal damnation. But we sought none other than the One who is our Master, Jesus.


4. How Grabau took possession of the
Congregation's Property


The separation proceeded faster than we had expected. On February 6, 1866 he was privately admonished because of his sermons but he did not heed the warning so the matter was brought before the ministry. He received the above-mentioned judgment on May 8th. At the beginning he stated

that he was in general pleased with it but later he declared that the judgment was Calvinistic and from the pulpit he called the ministry Jesuits and Papists. According to the Buffalo Decree the matter had to be brought before the Synod and he himself was called before it. He claimed that the Synod would not give him justice so he withdrew from it on June 7th. In that same hour he assembled his contingents and urged them to withdraw from the Synod. On June 9th there was issued a

Letter of Withdrawal

to the Synod.

To the Revered Synod here assembled, delivered to its chairman, Pastor Maschop.

                                                              Buffalo, June 8, 1866.

The undersigned Church Committee and Trustees hereby notify the Revered Synod that we have assembled the congregation and after two congregational meetings the decision has been reached on June 7th of this year to withdraw from you in order to release ourselves from further ties and obligations to you. The reason for our withdrawal and that of our congregation is that in our eyes and that of the congregation the Synod comported itself in its eleven day conference of May 28th through June 7th with obvious injustice in its treatment of doctrine and other church matters, that neither our pastor nor our Trustees found rectitude in the performance of your sworn duty to protect against rabble factions. In your ministerial authority and church regime they could find no solid grounding. Fanatical peace treaties threaten church authority and church discipline and they will confuse and engulf you. With such a church regime we can go no further as Lutheran Christians because this is no longer pure evangelical doctrine but rather human hustle and bustle which will change the Christian membership in the Body of Christ and subjugate it to a Synod.


Although at the beginning only 62 members signed the above letter, one finds that it contains the signatures of the majority of the Trustees. With their help Grabau established himself firmly in the proprietorship of the church property. Grabau had earlier cursed and condemned this Trustee authority and for this reason the costly Johannesburg Trial had been held in order to determine whether protection should be obtained against this "brutal" power of authority. It would be interesting to compare his earlier notes with his behavior of that time.

In 1861 Pastor Grabau overturned the State ordinance whereby the Trustees of the church "could chose who performed their religious services" and he stated in the small publication "An Insight into the Public Hearings, etc.": It is quite open and shameless the way in which a body of trustees can turn over its authority to despotic church patrons; a villain can chase away the pastor and the congregation's profession of faith can be subjugated in so far as it wishes to maintain a so-called legal claim to physical and ecclestiastical property. A greater form of church tyranny could scarcely be established in any land; from the ill-used guardianship of Trustees there may arise a hierarchy of church patrons because of State interference; according to their whim pastors may be chased off and replaced, thus bringing the church to ruination! -

In 1866 Grabau drew aside 4 trustees from his congregation and advised them to firmly and quickly form a faction. While the dispute between him and Deacon Hochstetter was in deliberation by the ministry and the decision, which the Synod should make concerning church authority, was close at hand, he managed to convince the 4 trustees to act in the manner described in the dreadful argument cited above - to chase the deacon from the pulpit, claim ownership of the church holdings and property, and bring their own church to ruination!

In 1861 Pastor Grabau wrote in the small publication cited above:
"According to some doctrine the body of Trustees should be made part of the church regime, which unites all temporal and spiritual power in itself - absolute and despotic church patronage! Thus comes to fruition what was determined by a church historian who is still living: In its establishment free North America shows us an experiment in modern barbarism!"

Whosoever ascribes and proscribes this worm-ridden and despotic church principle wears his damnation like a vestment and gains his certainty from the school of Satan. He has condemned himself to being an inferior servant to materialism.

In 1866 Grabau embraced this same materialism and by means of this previously condemned principle not only chased away the deacon but also alienated half of the original congregation from the church because they stood by their Synod and rejected the ecclesiastic tyranny of the Trustees! How will Grabau escape the damnation which he established with the above cited words, words which ascribe and proscribe such despotic ecclesistical principles?! -

The degree to which one should reject Pastor Grabau's action is made apparent when one considers that already in 1849 he had let be weighed and recorded the unanimous decision arising from the declaration translated from English

Translator's Note: Various States of the Union had been enacting legislation to secure the ownership of church property into the hands of lay trustees rather than clergy for several decades. In 1855 the State of New York passed the Ecclesiatical Title Law - this Law was reported in the Thursday, April 12, 1855 edition of the Buffalo English Language newspaper The Democracy. Buffalo's own Senator Putnam spearheaded the legislation. A report of his speech can be found at http://www.archivaria.com/democracy3.html. The impetus for Senator Putnam's involvement however came, at least in part, from the St. Louis Roman Catholic Church Board of Trustees, which at the time was experiencing conflict with Bishop Timon over who owned the church property. I have found no evidence of the Buffalo Synod's involvement with legislation.

whereby the congregation protected itself from the power of the Trustees. He was so serious about this declaration that anyone who disagreed with him was chastised and banned.


Declaration of faith by resolution*)

                                                      Buffalo N.Y., March 1849

Declaration of the German-Lutheran Trinity
Congregation of Buffalo


The German-Lutheran Trinity Church in the City of Buffalo, in the State of New York, at Goodell and Maple Streets, which became incorporated in 1840 under the name of "The Old Lutheran Church", held a meeting of the congregation today and decided the following:
1. That it is a Lutheran congregation embracing the tenets of its faith, those being the Apostalic, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds from the unchanged Augsburg Confession of 1530 along with the apologue from the small and large Lutheran catechisms of 1529, the Schmalkaldic Articles of 1537 and the Concordia Formulations of 1580. This is so because this congregation is convinced that in these holy writings the tenets of faith are completely and fully acknowledged and contained as they were in the true apostolic church at the time of the Apostles and as they have been once again brought to light by the Lutheran Reformation.

2. This German-Lutheran Church of the Trinity further declares that it elects, appoints and ordains the minister and the school teacher according to its dictates and the above-mentioned rightfully-chosen tenets of faith; and this congregation with its minister and teacher, since the time of its founding in Buffalo on October 6, 1839, has accepted and observed the Old Saxon Church Order of 1536 and 1580 and the Stettiner Pommeranian Church Order of 1535, 1563, 1680, in so far as current circumstances and conditions have allowed, - the Committees and Trustees are also obliged to obey these Church Orders.


*)This letter may have been first put down in the German language by Pastor Grabau and then translated into the English language by a college student. However the English translation is so poorly executed that one can scarcely make sense of it. The reader himself must decide its content, etc. Return to text

Go on to Pages 14 - 19

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Reproduction [of the text] by Permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo NY: October 16, 2003
Edited January 10, 2006
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks