They alone had held to the proper Lutheran Church. They should have seen that Stephan was a heretic and a traitor. But now the opposite extreme had occurred. Now every Christian was born to the priesthood because of his baptism; every Christian had the right to appoint himself to ministerial office; he could assume this right privately and without the approval of others; previously he had to be appointed by the congregation. Every shoemaker's apprentice and dairy wife could distribute the holy eucharist (Professor Walther's claim before the Buffalo Collegium.) Proper appointment became merely the choice of the congregation. Ordination was not by divine decree, therefore it was not necessary! If a congregation made an unschooled, untested and unprepared man its preacher, it was not an offense, merely a mistake. (Critic of the pastoral letter - page 31) As proprietor of the office the congregation retains all rights given in the church, but according to God's command it is supposed to transfer them to someone, who will execute the office on behalf of the community. (See Walther's thesis in the book Church and Office.) Herein lies the essence of ministerial office, "that the rights of spiritual office are exercised through public ministry on behalf of the community." Buffalo Colloquium Page 12.
The cultivation of the church is the duty of the congregation under the auspices of the pastor, who administers by virtue of the keys of office, etc; certainly not without the community of brethren, which in particular retains the right of decision in disputed circumstances. (According to the Missouri practice, through vote.) "The community retains the right of decision in matters of faith if the application of the Word of God is dubious in certain circumstances and interpretations"!!! (See Missouri Church Order 1839.)
Still later other heresies arose with them with regard to church teaching: that these things were literal yet invisible; that the visible assembly to partake of the Word of God and the eucharist was the symbolic church;" "that all sects were counted among the symbolic visible church by virtue of their adherence to faith and thus in accordance with the 3rd Article of Faith complied with the concept of the word church. (See Walther Church and Office and Buffalo Colloquium pages 4 onward.) Thus the triune church was:
1.) merely an invisible literal church;
2.) a visible figurative actual church (the Lutheran);
3.) a figurative visible all-sect church.
With the establishment of this false teaching, which ran in complete contradiction to the Word of God and the written professions of faith in the Lutheran church, this synod had acknowledged the heresy of predestination, which was in perfect agreement with the Calvanist interpretation. (See Jahre und Wehre, issue 18, pages 196 and 198; also Synodal Report of the Northland District 1868 and Walther's sermon of Septuagesima Sunday.)
The pious Pastor Grabau could not remain silent amid such false doctrine and church-destroying principles as they invaded our congregations and created such confusion and mutiny. Even less could he condone them. In his conscience he found it necessary to bear witness against them and to give warning. Much hatred, derision and slander he freely bore because of it, but his heart was steadfastly grounded through God's Grace in the evangelical truth that nothing, neither respect nor insult and scorn would dissuade him. Neither human fear nor human complacency could keep him from rejecting them. Decisively and fearlessly he acknowledged and defended true doctrine against all; he remained true and steadfast unto his own pious demise. * [1.]
[1.] * Comment: His profession of doctrine against Missouri may be found in the synodal letters of the Buffalo Synod and especially in the small volume he published, Der Missourische Geist und die Lehre der Lutherischen Kirche [The Missouri Spirit and the Teachings of the Lutheran Church]. This later volume may be purchased for 10 cents from teacher A. Stiemke, 52 Maple Street, Buffalo, N.Y.
Establishment of the College and the Synod
Pastor Grabau cared for true service to God and Christian education in his congregation by having plans drawn up, which would provide proper teaching and ministers to the scattered communities as well as maintain proper church service in the open profession of Lutheran doctrine for the generations to come. To this end he established by 1840 a preparatory seminary where he instructed some gifted older and younger people, who were filled with the desire to become ordained ministers, so they could properly and capably serve the Word. Among these people was the former Prussian officer, Captain von Rohr. After his return from Wisonsin he was active as a teacher in Buffalo and under Pastor Grabau's guidance he prepared for the ministry. The same was true for the oboist, Friedrich Müller who later became pastor in Freistadt, Wisconsin; Hermann Lange, who died in 1857, later became pastor in Eden and Wallmow and the Reverend Robert Schulz came from Martinsville.
In 1845 Pastor Grabau established the Lutheran "Synod of Buffalo" with Pastor Krause, Pastor Kindermann, who had come over in 1843 with a large, mostly Pommeranian congregation, the previously ordained Pastor H. von Rohr and their congregations. This synod professed its faith in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and the assembled symbologies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. They assumed the precepts of the old Pommeranian and Saxon Church Order to the degree to which they were applicable in their new circumstances. To this day all pastors, school teachers, church committees and congregation remain duty-bound to this church order. At the time there were eight students in the preparatory seminary,
which from the time of the establishment of the synod was supported and maintained as a synodal institute. Through the grace of God the synod grew outwardly in the number of pastors and church members and inwardly in its steadfast profession of the true faith. The teaching facility acquired ever more students to the point where the synod found it necessary to construct another more spacious building than the one which is no designated as a boarding house. It was also necessary as an additional blessing to the church to appoint a professor with whom Pastor Grabau could divide the work in the college. In order to create this position, take on the building of a college and assemble a sufficient teaching force, in 1853 the Synod appointed Pastor Grabau and Pastor von Rohr their delegates to travel back to Germany and seek the assistance of the brothers in faith and the Christian authorities there. This journey was not just undertaken for the sake of the college but for the sake of the benefit and blessing of the entire synod. (See communiqués concerning the trip in Informatorium Volumes II and III.) A lot for the college was purchased before the trip to Germany and plans for its construction were already completed. Through our congregations and those in Germany funds were amassed and the building was begun and completed in God's Name. On November 10, 1854 the building was dedicated as the "German Martin Luther College." (See Informatorium Volume 4, No. 8) Instruction could now proceed in full blessing. The number of students grew and in 1856 Pastor Fr. Winkler of Detroit was appointed and installed as professor. For 22 years this man performed his office with great diligence and Christian loyalty without pretention. He was an honest and true friend of the heart for Pastor Grabau until his own holy demise. In these two men one sees the word of Psalm 133 fulfilled: "See how fine and lovely it is when brothers reside peacefully together."
In 1853 Pastor Grabau was elected Director of the college and he remained in this office until his death. He delivered his many true and diligence courses of instruction for 37 years without financial compensation for the sake of God's Church. He did not neglect his duties as pastor of the congregation or Senior Minister; rather he worked and studied from early in the morning til late in the evening. Scarcely a minute of his time was left unused. He toiled and cared
for all the congregations to which he was Senior Minister and especially for his own congregation and individual members. He did not fail to conscientiously deliver warnings to sinners, instruction to the weak and confused, and comfort to those in mourning. He especially sought to preserve the Christian church culture and keep the church of God pure in the face of all worldly and sinful ways. And since he did not fail in his ministry with regard to doctrine, punishment, warning against the worldly spirit of the age, sinful service and falling away from God's truth, he was in his comportment a role model for the young and old.
Thus the years passed amid exigency, distress and heated conflict especially against the Missouri Synod and against the false spirit of Iowa Synod established by fervent missionaries. In the beginning this synod seemed to be true to the symbols of the Lutheran Church and it was assumed in communion with the Buffalo Synod in heartfelt love and friendship. Soon after it revealed itself as a Chilistic synod, which merely accepted a "historical positing of the symbols of the church" and merely wished "to acknowledge duty within the limits of such positing and interpretation of these church symbols." As such the synod identified itself as one of those "establishments within the Lutheran Church, which strives towards the further development of church teachings."
In consequence of such disloyalty to the symbols of the church the Buffalo Synod found it necessary to break off its ecclesiastic relationship with Iowa, which did as Missouri have done - commit gross injustices against the Buffalo Synod. It seceded from the Buffalo Synod. In turn the Buffalo congregations, upon the advice and urging of their ministry, recalled their ministers from Iowa. Just as Toledo and other groups had done in Detroit, Iowa formed an opposition congregation. Shortly thereafter through intrigue it annexed a significant portion of the congregation in Roseville and it forcably barred the smaller portion, which had remained loyal, from the use of the portion of the church property to which they had contributed funding. (See Wachende Kirche [The Vigilant Church] 1878, volume XII, No. 3.)
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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 17, 2006