May the Lord continue to be a sun and shield for them.
Concerning this same horrifying synod I wish to add the impartial judgment of an eye and ear witness, as it was stated in a letter of warning, printed in 1867, to the persecutors of Pastor Grabau:
Cederburg, Wisconsin, July 30, 1867.
Here is the proof and grounding for my assertion:
I. A false spirit reigned amid Pastor Grabau's opponents in the Buffalo Synod of June 1866; namely
a) which although Pastor Grabau himself had called a meeting of the assembled ministry and later a synod, the greater portion of the synod considered it a good thing that the then chairman, Wolläger, levelled a suspension (or temporary removal from office) against him. This is not only how proud and pagan Rome had handled the accused, Apostle Paul; it's also similar to Acts 25, 12: "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!"
and defends himself when rumor spreads from accusers of the neighboring congregations that he may be a false prophet? Is it a crime if he finds justification in seeking the protection of loyal church fathers against unwarranted seizure of his office? And against an untrue deacon?
b) On June 11, 1866 Pastor Weinbach communicated that when the question was raised whether Pastor Grabau should be warned first or removed from office first, the answer was given: Pastor Grabau must be removed from his office; as far as I'm concerned, people could warn him for the next ten years. And this decision was affirmed by the entire party, thus it was decided to remove him from office.
c) This prideful spirit also prevailed in the proposal, which was accepted, to do away with the printed record of the synodal proceedings: "The chair warns the synod members to exercise better control over their emotions." Thus this catastrophy-ridden horror of a synod would not appear as black before the world as it really was and others might not be tempted to say: Is it any wonder that Pastor Grabau couldn't abide by it.
d) It was also prideful spirit operating through Deacon Hochstetter as he said after the peace treaty: I want to know if I am restored to office in grace and mercy. Oh, how much better it would have been if he had remained silent about all the injustices he believed he had suffered at the hands of Pastor Grabau, if God's Word had prevailed, and the Deacon had been mindful of the gross injury the old Senior Minister had suffered at his hand. What's more, if things had been allowed to settle and the Senior Minister had been prepared to let everything be covered in God's Word, then he would acknowledged: "It is true, I was angry with the dear deacon, but I am no longer."
However the prideful spirit remained until it destroyed everything.
2. A malicious and cunning spirit had the upper hand:
Pastor Grabau referred to the synodal assembly in Jerusalem, Acts 15, etc. He reminded that God's Word
is the guiding light, that doctrine will illuminate the path through all other disputed matters. This was countered by Wolläger and Hochstetter with the claim: Mutineers, wolves and the like have been referred to, therefore first we must investigate whether there are really wolves and mutineers in our midst; until this matter is settled we cannot investigate doctrine. Pastor Grabau asserted: One may discuss here what has previously been challenged, but shouldn't one also deal with the way I was treated? I was charged with having preached false doctrine and (as he had said previously) "of being a heretic, which I consider a gross insult, which I endure for the sake of my Lord, Christ." At the resultant inquiry however it was decided: We must deal with the thief and the murderer first before we can deal with doctrine. Pastor Grabau responded: First one must see if it can not be mended.
And why did they refuse to accept the accused one's doctrinal defense right up to the ninth day? They used the excuse: Wolläger and Hochstetter's honor must be saved, as if Pastor Grabau's honor were not a stake and his good name for the most part would not stand or fall with that of the synod.
The malevolent spirit evinced its dominance through many incendiary letters, which had been sent before the beginning of the synod to various pastors (even I received one). In these letters were malicious claims, including: If Grabau is reinstated, I'm leaving the synod.
3. The deaf spirit lead the hierarchy. Thus all warnings against the devastation of the synod were for nothing.
a) Pastor Grabau warned all too frequently: Dear Brothers! Consider what an meagre household we are.
b) Another person offered: Let us take heart in the words of St. Paul (Galatians 5, 15): "If you bite and devour each other, beware lest you destroy one another."
c) Poor W. — filled with anxious misgivings — there was a similarity between him and Judas; when he saw what he had brought about through treacherous handling of the hasty and unjust suspension, he became fearful and timid. At one point he spoke these words: I am very afraid if this battle continues to wage in this fashion,
we're sitting at our own last supper as a synod." Another time he said: Dear Brothers! I can no longer endure this; my physical and spiritual powers are disintegrating and I must die." — As if he, as chairman and as a younger man, had come this far as a mere member of the audience and had become so critically ill that his life hung in peril, gripped by a nervous fever. Is it any wonder that Pastor Grabau, already past the age of 62 and already harried and assailed for so many months, decided he could no longer endure, 10 days before the synod, the defendant's bench and thus decided he must leave since amid such people he was sacrificing his physical and spiritual powers for naught.
Pastor Wolläger said: "I urgently and seriously ask the venerable synod, for I have been much in prayer over this, to finally give me a verdict concerning my conduct in office (as the current chairman) so that I may quiet my conscience." In response to this they not only remained deaf; they claimed that everything was fine — a couple statements were made — what Wollällger had done to Pastor Grabau, that he had suspended him, etc.
d) The false spirit was also deaf to the warning of Pastor R. G., who asked that the synod take no further action against Pastor Grabau, especially that no trial be held for him; rather they should consider the loss created by his departure. They rushed off in passionate rage and accomplished nothing but ever grosser destruction and schism.
4. Furthermore it was a mute spirt, which led the authorities.
a) For when the members of the synod were called upon to respond to phrasing of the warning, said to be similar to 1. Moses 31, 24 in Laban, no one gave an answer.
b) The same was true of 3 petitions sent between November 16th and March 18th to Ministerium Pastor Maschops, for the signers received no response.
5. A lying spirit also ruled.
a) On the first Sunday after Trinity, June 3, 1866, Pastor Grabau preached a marvelous sermon on verse 29 of the gospel to his congregation in the presence of many synod members,
which dealt with the theme "the power of the Christian sermon." Days later chairman Wolläger said before the open synod: To all that was preached I can say Yes and Amen, and I recognize that there truly remains no doctrinal difference between us. But Pastor von Rohr maintained that Pastor Grabau may have broken the peace again after the sermon with two improper words uttered during announcements made from the pulpit and when none of the other pastors heard these additions, Pastor von Rohr angrily proclaimed, "Well then, the devil must have whispered in my ear!" He then turned to the deputies and they too had not heard these additional words; even Pastor Grabau assured him that nothing had been said, which anyone could not have read from the church book. To wit Pastor von Rohr repeated these words and said, "I say once again, the devil must have whispered in my ear!!" — It wasn't enough that the evil spirit was whispering in peoples' ears; he was manifesting in many feathers, hearts and mouths.
b) On June 11th the undersigned stood and requested that the deliberation concerning Pastor Grabau's dismissal be postponed until Pastor Wolläger (who was spiritually ill) returned, for he [the undersigned] had indicated that he would deliver proof that the dismissal of the pastors, who had broken away, may be ill-advised. Hochstetter rose and spoke, "I was with P. W. [Pastor Wolläger]. He is in complete agreement that Pastor Grabau should be dismissed, and if you do not dismiss him, you must dismiss me." However please note that when W. returned to the assembly two days later he said that he was decidedly against dismissal.
c) The spirit of deception was also at work on the evening of June 7th in the Martin Luther College and in the next edition of the Informatorium with the publishing of Pastor Grabau's withdrawal with the most important words deleted: I withdraw for as long as this spirit prevails.
6. Furthermore in the synod of June 1866 a larcenous spirit prevailed for it took the word of an attorney over that of holy scripture. Just as the friends of Pastor Grabau were celebrating that Wolläger rejected the verdict for dismissal and were gaining a new momemtum because of it, there came Wolläger's words: "What have you done? You shouldn't have done that!"
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 18, 2006