Pastoral Letter and Correspondence between J. A. A. Grabau and the Missouri Synod: Pages 98 - 101

proper vocation to the holy preaching office and in particular with Christian ordination performed by assigned church servants (5). We maintained that 1) Testing for ability to hold the office, 2) choosing by the congregation and 3) ordination of the chosen one by at-hand servants of the church are in accordance with God's word (2 Timothy 2; 1 Timothy 5, 22; Acts 1, 23 - 26 and 14, 23; Titus 1, 5; 1 Peter 5: 1, 2); in fact we maintained these three points without mutinous schism and wantonous separatism. We hold these 3 things necessary to ordained vocation according to divine order and human custom (6). The Missouri preachers on the other hand consider testing merely by the congregation (testing of the spirit, 1 John 4, 1) necessary and with the election of the congregation they do not pay attention to whether the choosing congregation is a part of the church or a gang (7) Concerning ordination we maintained that in 2 Timothy 2, 2 it is only a


(5) These two points were not the only subjects in our prepared exposition; also discussed was how No. 2 and 4 proceed from our outlined opinions and how the synodal letter itself further reports the above; it also deals specifically with two other points, "that in the pastoral letter Christian freedom and the spiritual priesthood are not necessarily expunged but to the contrary, that the teaching on the holy preaching office and the high esteem of the old Lutheran church orders have been too broadly applied." Return to text

(6) Whoever compares what is communicated above with the pastoral letter will find that there are seven rather than 3 things necessary for vocation to the preaching office according to divine order and human custom; after the announcement of these seven things it states without exception or qualification in the pastoral letter: "this is the divine order of the rite vocatus, of which Dr. Luther states that the 'apostles and their disciples thus held them and that they must remain so until Judgment Day." Wasn't it Pastor Grabau who after our remonstrance first presented these seven things in his anticritique (in the first addendum to the comments in No. 5) and then limited them to three points? Why does he act here as though he had already discussed these three points from the beginning? Shouldn't he at least, in service to the truth, publically and honestly acknowledge what was stated in his anticritique (Thesis III, § 4) in a public notice that in his pastoral letter at best he was careless in saying "the divine and the human are not sufficiently differentiated" and may thus have earned our reprimand? Return to text

(7) Indeed our most hostile enemy could scarcely have expressed a more lie-filled exposition of our clearly expressed teaching on proper vocation to the preaching office. We distinctly stated, as the inclined reader can refer back to in our first deliberations on the pastoral letter: "According to God's word, when the Vocandus has true recognition of pure teaching, evidence of an impeccable life and the necessary gift for teaching and in the call to office everything proceeds in an orderly manner, namely that he is tested beforehand, truly called by the congregation and installed to his office according to the church order in existence at the time." With further reference to this we have also stated: "If preachers are at hand, who are recognized as righteous in their faith, then it is in conformity with divine ordering that one of these preachers be selected by the congregation as most suitable for installation (that is, with testing)." And we have further maintained: "that a congregation, which stands with no other preachers in ecclesiastic bond, may choose a preacher from its midst without the assistance of the preaching ministry and this shall not be considered a misdeed. And should this man be 'unlearned, untested and unprepared' and the congregation has committed a mistake, if it was done so that this congregation could hear the word of God and a preacher was not chosen in willful scorn of its pre-established ministy or out of hatred or separatism, it still is not called a misdeed; for a sufficient number of said mistakes have been committed by the spiritual ministry in the installation of preachers and the office has thus been constructed, etc." Let the reader himself decide whether we said anything further in these words concerning the installation of a preacher than that mere testing of the spirit shall be considered necessary, whether we further indicated what we meant with the explanation of "emergency" or "mistake", what provisions we made, and whether we even appear to have been guilty of not seeing to it that the choosing congregation is a part of the church or a gang. — every unbiased person Go to remainder of footnote

command to Timothy and not to the church. Ordination may have no sustaining apostolic mandate, rather it was commanded at the time in the same way as Acts 15 forbade the heathens their blood feasts (8). You had intimated these opinions already in your newly communicated church order of 1839 (9). We had to discontinue the dispute with you because you no longer conducted yourselves as honorable brothers in office to our pastors since you sent mutineer preachers to our schismatic blasphemers and joined up with our church enemies (10). Therefore we sent you another letter, which was as conciliatory as possible, and appealed to you once more as brothers to amend your conduct (11).

Comment: In the August 7, 1845 response we received a practically flippant reply and it is certainly more advisable to bear the scorn than further respond to it. Proverbs 9,8 (12)


(7 continued.) will recognize that with these words of the Milwaukee Synod, false witness of our guilt was borne against us and our teaching in contradiction of the 8th Commandment. Return to text

(8) Here once again against better judgment and knowledge the uninformed reader is brought to a false contention that we had brought up this teaching on ordination when we had actually layed before our opponents considered testimony of recognized righteous-faith Lutheran theology from which they had to acknowledge that the Lutheran church has taught this and nothing else as the pastors in their synodal letter of June 25, 1845 must at least partly concede and thus take back their earlier, hasty declaration as if this teaching had been insinuated into the church. How dear and important ordination is to us is partly proven by our church practices and partly by that, which we have said about it in this text. Return to text

(9) See below the 17th remark. Return to text

(10) With regard to this charge we had promised in our letter of August 7, 1845 that we would gladly justify ourselves as soon as our opponents recognize and acknowledge their errors and the injustices done to us. Until that time all our grounded justifications are merely wasted trouble and effort. However if the Christian reader wants to know why we yielded to the urgent call of the congregation in Watertown and proposed then candidate Geier for the calling to the preaching office, the reasoning and the context are already well known from much, which is put forth in this current text. We need only refer to the similar circumstances which were substantiated in our synodal report of the previous year with the congregations of Freistatt and Milwaukee. We are sorry that we can no longer stand in spiritual communion with Pastor Geier and his congregation, as was stated in last year's and this year's synodal report; that he was called a mutineer preacher by Pastors Grabau, Krause, etc., he himself and his congregation will have to answer for. For our part, we know of no mutineer preacher, whom we had proposed or sent; however we know well that our opponents designate a congregation as mutineering as soon as it does not subjugate itself to their decisions and, for example, will not unconditionally subscribe to a Grabau pastoral letter. Return to text

(11) This is the letter, which is conveyed in No. 6. The Christian reader will detect whether he finds the high concilatory tone within it, as has been purported. If the gentlemen wanted to write to us as concilatory as possible wouldn't they have taken a different approach to our cited refutation of the 17 listed errors and either revoked their claim or negated our rebuttal with reasoning and counterproof? Instead they renew their previous charges, scarcely acknowledging even one point but rather heaping their usual aspersions and decrees and demanding that we amend our conduct as they persist in their dishonoable, unbrotherly and improper behavior against us. How could reconcilation be possible under these circumstances! Twice after that time we offered our hand and with sincere hearts asked for mutual understanding, which had to precede reconcilation; both times we received no response. Is this as concilatory as possible? Return to text

(12) The letter cited above can be found in No. 5. We leave it to the decision of each unbiased reader whether he finds something flippant in this letter. Continue to remainder of footnote

Page five states: The Lutheran preachers in the State of Missouri, who emigrated from Saxony under the hypocrite and tyrant Stephan (13), have alienated themselves from us for a year and a day in that they sent mutineer preachers to several of our congregations (14) and increased the number of rebellious, audacious sinners and new frauds of freedom in defection from our church congregations especially with the allegation that we did not sufficiently esteem the spiritual priesthood and the freedom of local congregations in our deliberations on teaching; every local congregation is supposed to have the highest court in the church (15). Pastor Brohm in New York also supports us in this matter (16) We do not want to give up the ecclesiastic communion with you if you call back the mutineer preachers from Wisconsin and no longer defend the independence of individual local congregations, which you esteem so highly in you new church order of 1839 with each congregation being the highest court because of its spiritual priesthood, which in a dubious application of the word of God might make decisions in a matter of faith denying the word of God, which is living and powerful, and the holy preaching office, which has its vocation from God to work in word and teaching and to administer the proper application of teaching, is suppressed and enslaved by human hands. Ezekial 3, 17; Hebrews 13, 17" (17)


(12 continued) He will also see it contains reproachful seriousness, perhaps in order to make our opponents a little wiser through this later report than they had shown themselves to be in the previous letter. However if they dismiss our honorable intention with the cited verse from Proverbs 9,8 then we shall refer to them to the ninth verse at another time with our warnings and instructions and glady say of ourselves what is stated in Psalm 141.5. Return to text

(13) May God grant all the servants of His word the grace that they may perceive a warning example in this man and defend themselves with great diligence from all "hypocrisy and tyranny" in their ministry! Return to text

(14) See above Comment 10. Return to text

(15) Compare above what we have said in the first part of our refutation in No. 4 concerning the spiritual priesthood and in the last part concerning the freedom of the congregations in the deliberation on teaching. We believe it was necessary to safeguard ourselves from all misunderstanding and misuse of this point. In fact it was not mere "allegation," that our gentlemen opponents did not value the spiritual priesthood of all Christians highly enough; first we had to demonstrate to Pastor Grabau that the spiritual priesthood exists in the spiritual offering before God, as he had maintained, but also in the proclaiming of the virtues, which call us from the darkness into His wondrous light. Just as he had mentioned in his anticritique nothing concerning the duty of congregations to protect themselves from false prophets and test the doctrine of their preachers in accordance with God's word. Thus in his argument the right of the congregation to deliberate on teaching was at the very least placed in the background. But we had expressly stated that this right was no more exclusive to the congregations than to its preachers and that when it states in Matthew 18, 17 "Tell It to the Congregation," this is not just said to the preachers, it includes the congregations. When the synodal letter discusses this point, as it did others, it's as if we had said nothing whatsoever about the congregations being made independent and the ministry being enslaved and devalued by men. Return to text

(16) Compare here the explanation and protest of Mr. Brohm in the third volume of the Lutheran, No. 8, page 31. Return to text

(17) This, our alleged "new church order" (as seen above on pages 78 - 79, where we have communicated this) is nothing other than a summary of the most important grounding principles on which a good church order must rest and scarcely just principles, which we believed we must hold fast to in accordance with the circumstances we found ourselves in at the time of your writing. If there were misunderstood things within it we believe we sufficiently proved the correctness of our intent in our latest exposition contained in this text. — Concerning especially the right of the final determination in a matter of faith, we lay claim to it for the entire congregation, so the decision is not ours,
Go to the remainder of the footnote

Finally we still need to testify for our brothers in office, who have come from Pastor Löhe's seminary in Bavaria since 1842 primarily to preach in North America; for them we have to bear witness again the assault of the above synodal letter: with confidence we can provide proof that up to now we know of no incident concerning the disciples of this seminary, which the synodal letter can be pointing to, whereby they have taught contrary to the written professions of faith of the Lutheran church or be seen as ancillary matters regarding the office of keys along with Christian church discipline or that they have spoken of the 1000 year reign. However it is not unknown to us that the pastors in Buffalo and Wisconsin may have been guilty of the spiritual rigidity of the 16th Century (?) and fanatacism; we know even less about a persecution, which they claim has been leveled against them, so that the pastors have to refer to the passage in Matthew 5: 11, 12 in order to justify their course of action. However we believe and we know that each of our beloved brothers in office agrees with us in the fundamental truths of sacred teaching, which we have demonstrated in the current text.


(17 continued) rather the decision lies with the congregation as the ultimate court of God's word whereas Pastor Grabau dares to assume the decision belongs to the minister; who would deny that in dubious cases the joint laity does not allow itself to rely upon the determination of the minister, however does that mean he has the right to appoint himself the highest judge in the congregation? What more abusive tyranny over conscience can there be than when in dubious cases of conscience and profession it is the preacher who decides? Did this not originate in popedom when the "spiritual leaders" ultimately stated: "We alone have the right and the power; what we establish is for all. Who is there that he might lord over us?" Can not even the most sincere preacher possess false knowledge and in his misunderstanding of God hasten, for example, to ban innocent people, etc.? Wasn't it decided in accordance with the old Lutheran church orders in all dubious and disputatious cases together by the so-called spiritual and worldly members, comprising the entire community or province represented consistory? It is understood that the decision of the congregation or the church is null and void if it does not agree with the word of God. Return to text

This is the end of
Pastoral Letter and Correspondence between J. A. A. Grabau and the Missouri Synod
Completed June 3, 2006

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Photocopy of text provided by Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Gettysburg, PA

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks