Associate professor of church history princeton theological seminary baker book house

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8. Period of Deterioration, 1787‑1820: The prevailing rationalism of the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century did not affect the Lutheran Church of North America quite as strongly as it did the churches of England

and Germany. With few exceptions

1. Effects the Lutheran pastors in America ad­of Ration‑ hered to the confession of Christ, the alism. Son of God, and the Word of the Cross.

The traveling preachers of the mother synod did active missionary work in the West and Southwest, organizing congregations and confer­ences which formed the nucleus for new synods in Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Mary­land, and western Pennsylvania. Among the tracts and religious literature which they distributed the Augsburg Confession had a prominent place. The parish schools were numerous and in flourishing condition. In the year 1820 not less than 206 parochial schools are reported by eighty‑four con­gregations of the Pennsylvania Ministerium. Never­theless, there were unmistakable signs that the strict confeaeionalism of the early Lutherans was



beginning to weaken and to yield to indifferentism and subjectivism. The altered constitution of the Pennsylvania Miniaterium of 1792 made no refer­ence to the confessional standards, though the pas­tors continued to pledge their adherence to the symbolical books at their ordination. After Kunze's death Frederick Henry Quitmann became the leader of the New York Miniaterium. He was a pupil of Semler, a decided adherent of the com­mon rationalism, and it was through his influence that the old Lutheran Catechisms, Hymn‑books, and Agenda gave way to modern publications, which were to have " due regard to the needs of the rising generation." The same tendency mani­fested itself in Pennsylvania, where the Hymn­book of 1817 ( Des Geniei.:nachaftliche Gesang­liuch) for the use of Lutheran and Reformed Churches, and the Agenda of 1818 represented a complete falling away not only from the historical, conservative order of service, but also from posi­tive Lutheran doctrine, in the orders for baptism, communion, and ordination. In 1797 the New York Miniaterium resolved that, on account of the close relation between the Lutheran and Protestant Epis­copal Church and their ' similarity of doctrine, it would never recognize an English Lutheran church in a locality where the services of the Episcopal church could be attended by the Lutherans. This resolution, which was, however, cancelled after seven years, revealed the strong antagonism of the Ger­mans to the English language.

The conflicts arising in this period through the transition from the use of German to that of Eng­lish greatly retarded the progress and healthy de­velopment of the Lutheran Church. In New York the English became the official language of the minieterium in the year 1807 and held that posi­tion until 1866, when at the formation of the Gen­eral Council, the English element ee‑

2. Change ceded and the German took the lead. In Lan. In Philadelphia the language contro‑

gnase. versy led to a split in the mother con­gregation. The English element, under the leadership of Peter Miihlenberg, had demanded the appointment of a third pastor who should offi­ciate in the English language. This request being refused, St. John's Church was organized in 1806 as the first English Lutheran congregation. The Ministerium of Pennsylvania, the decision of which had been asked in the language controversy, re­solved in 1805 forever to remain a German‑speak­ing body. But it recommended the formation of English congregations and provided for their ad­mission into the synod on condition that they accept its constitution. In other towns of Penn­sylvania the language difficulty adjusted itself in a more peaceful manner. The German congre­gations first became German‑English, with two j pastors for the two languages. Gradually the Eng­lish gained the ascendency and dismissed the Ger­man element with sufficient financial assistance, so that new German churches could be built. By this peaceable process of transition the descendants of the old Lutheran families were retained in the church of their fathers, in the English language, while in Philadelphia multitudes were lost to the

English denominations of another faith. The na­tional and linguistic feeling was stronger with the Germans than their ecclesiastical and Lutheran consciousness. They felt themselves nearer to the Reformed Germans than to the English‑speaking Lutherans, and the venerable Charles Frederick Schaeffer (q.v.) of New York voiced the general sentiment when he said, in a letter addressed to the Pennsylvania Synod in 1819, that " as the Lutherans and Reformed in Germany had been brought together in one united church, so the true Germans in America should, in this respect, follow the example of the Germans in Germany."

4. The General Synod: At this critical period in the history of the Lutheran Church in America the first steps were taken toward the formation of a Lutheran General Synod, in order to stop the threatening disintegration, to unite more firmly the scattered members of the Lutheran

1. Organ‑ Church on this continent, and to secure ization and for her a recognized position. The

Purpose. mother synod of Pennsylvania took

the initiative at its convention in Har­

risburg, 1818. An organization was effected in

Hagerstown, Pa., in 1820, and in the following year

the first regular convention was held in Frederick,

Md., the Synods of Pennsylvania, North Carolina,

and Maryland=Virginia being represented. New

York sent no delegates until 1837. Ohio and Ten­

nessee stood aloof. Pennsylvania withdrew again

in 1823, yielding to the unreasonable anxiety of

some of its country congregations who feared the

danger of hierarchical oppression on the part of the

general body. Thus, for eight years the General

Synod consisted of the small synods of North Caro­

lina, Maryland‑Virginia, and West Pennsylvania.

The Hartwick Synod, in the State of New York,

entered in 1831, the synod of South Carolina in

1835; New York in 1837. At all times the Gen­

eral Synod represented only a minority of Lu­

therans in America. For a considerable period

the mother synod of Pennsylvania alone outnum­

bered the general body. The General Synod un­

doubtedly was a courageous and determined at­

tempt to perpetuate the Lutheran Church and to

give her a standing and recognition in America,

such as she had not enjoyed before. It succeeded

in organizing the educational and missionary work

of the church. The establishment of the theolog­

ical seminary in Gettysburg, the sending of a dele­

gation to Germany to rouse the sympathies of the

fatherland and to collect contributions for the Lu­

theran Church in America, the formation of the

Parental Educational Society, the Central Mission­

ary Society, and the Foreign Missionary Society

were measures of the highest importance, looking

to the vital interests of the Lutheran Church in her

new western home. There was, from the begin­

ning, an element that sought to remain in contact

with the faith of the fathers and the historical Lu­

theran Church and manifested a certain conscious­

ness and appreciation of the peculiar gifts and

responsibilities of the Lutheran Church and an

endeavor to assert and preserve her individual

character. But then these was, on the other side,

a broad and powerful current of unionism and in‑





differentiem which declared, in an official commu‑

nication to the Evangelical Church in Germany (1845) : " In most of our church principles we stand on common ground with the Union Church of Ger­many. The distinctive doctrines which separate the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches we do not consider essential. The tendency of the so­called old Lutheran party seems to us to be behind the time. Luther's peculiar views concerning the presence of the Lord's body in the communion have long been abandoned by the majority of our min­isters." While in the Pennsylvania Synod, during the thirty years of its separation from the General Synod, a more conservative and churchly spirit had gradually gained the ascendancy, it neverthe­less maintained friendly relations with the General Synod. On several occasions approaches were

made by prominent men of the General Synod

toward the restoration. of the union. The Penn­

sylvania Liturgy and Hymn‑Book were adopted by

the General Synod. And the Pennsylvania Synod

endowed a professorship in Pennsylvania College,

Gettysburg, belonging to the General Synod. Thus

the way was prepared for the formal return of the

mother synod to the General Synod, which took

place in 1853. The step was taken in the hope of

strengthening the conservative element in the Gen­

eral Synod and with the reservation, that " should

at any time the General Synod violate its constitu­

tion and require of our synod, or of any synod, as a

condition of admission to or continuation of mem­

bership, assent to anything conflicting with the

old and long‑established faith of the Evangelical

Lutheran Church, then our delegates are hereby

required to protest against such action, to with­

draw from its sessions, and to report to this body."

In order to define more clearly the position of

American Lutheranism, which was claimed to be

the position of the General Synod in its majority,

Samuel Simon Schmucker published in 1855 the

Lutheran Manual, an American recension of the

Augsburg Confession, the " Definite

2. Dissen‑ Platform," in which the seven articles

bent Move. on abuses are entirely omitted, and of

manta. the twenty‑one doctrinal articles twelve

are more or less altered, particularly

those treating of the sacraments. The effect of

this publication was a disappointment to the au­

thor and his party. It opened' the eyes even of the

indifferent and undecided ones and caused them to

reflect. On all aides strong protests arose against

this attack on the venerable Augustana. Only a

few Western synods adopted the " Definite plat­

form." While, even then, an open rupture was

for the time avoided, the " Definite Platform " cer­

tainly hastened the crisis in the General Synod.

During the Civil War the Southern churches had

withdrawn and established the General Synod of

the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confed­

erate States of America, j1863). The second, far

more important rupture dates from the conven‑

tion of the General Synod in York, Pa., 1864. The

Franckean Synod, New York State, applied for ad­

mission into the General Synod. It had never

formally adopted the Augsburg Confession, and

had been declared Sabellian and Pelagian by the



civil coilrta. It was received into the General Synod by a vote of ninety‑seven to forty. The Pennsylvania delegation protested and withdrew. A number of delegates from other synods joined in the protest of the Pennsylvanians. To avoid the threatening rupture the doctrinal basis of the Gen­eral Synod was amends so as to recognize the Augsburg Confession as a correct exhibition of the fundamental doctrines of the divine Word, and of the faith of the Church founded upon that Word. But the important question, which doctrines were to be considered as fundamental, remained open, most of the American Lutherans considering the distinctive doctrines that separated Lutherans and Reformed as non‑fundamental. The action at York was answered by the Pennsylvania Minie­terium in the establishment of her own theological seminary at Philadelphia, in July, 1864 (first fac­ulty: Drs. C. F. Schaeffer, W. J. Mann, C. P. Krauth, C. W. Schaeffer, G. F. Krotel; present faculty: A. Spaeth, H. E. Jacobs, J. Fry, G. F. Spieker). The Pennsylvania Miniaterium, still considering itself a member of the General Synod, appointed delegates to represent it at the next con­vention of the General Synod in Fort Wayne, 1886. Here the final crisis occurred through the action of the presiding officer, S. S. Sprecher, who refused to accept the credentials of the Pennsylvania dele­gates when the roll of the synods was called, de­claring that synod to be " out of practical union with the General Synod." Nothing was left to the delegation but to withdraw again and to report to their ministerium, which now formally severed its connection with the General Synod and issued a fraternal letter, inviting all Evangelical Lutheran Synods in the United States and Canada to unite in the formation of a new general body, " first and supremely for the maintenance of unity in the true faith of the Gospel, and in the uncorrupted Sacra­ments, as the Word of God teaches and our Church confesses them; and furthermore for the preserva­tion of her genuine spirit and worship, and for the development of her practical life in all its forma." In response to this fraternal address the " heading Convention " was held, in Dec., 1868, at which Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Pittsburg, Wiscon­sin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Canada, the Norwegian Synod, and the Sweden were repre­sented. The " Fundamental Articles of Faith and Church Polity," drawn up by Charles Porterfield Krauth, were discussed and unanimously adopted. The organization of " The General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America " was resolved.

At present the following synods belong to the General Synod: Maryland, West Pennsylvania, Hartwiok. East Ohio, Frenclcean (N. Y.). Allegheny (Pa.), East Penn­sylvania, Miami (Ohio), Wittenberg (Ohio), Olive Branch (Ind., Ky., Teen.). Northern Illinois, Central Pennsylvania, Iowa, Northern Indiana, Pittsburg (W. Pa.), Susquehanna (N. E. Pa.), Kansas, Nebraska, New York and New Jersey, Wartburg (German, West and South), California. Rocky Mountain (Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming). Nebraska (German), Central Illinois, Southern Illinois, numbering s total of 1,322 ministers, 1,734 congregations. 288.489 com­municants. The General Synod has b theological semi­naries with 22 professors and 103 students. It has foreign mission stations in the Telugu land, East India, and in Li­beria, Fast Africa, with 80 missionaries, 550 native helpers,

34,053 native Christians, 10,500 pupils in mission schools, and 3,900 candidates for baptism.

6. Confessional Lutherans is the West: About s quarter of a century before the revival of confes­sional Lutheranism in the General Synod led to disruption and to the organization of the General Council, Lutheran immigrants from Saxony, Prus­sia, and Bavaria, who had left the fatherland on account of their faith, undertook the foun­dation of strictly Lutheran bodies, which, though frequently engaged in sharp controversies, were re­markably successful in gathering the large Lutheran population of the West into strong ecclesiastical organizations.

In the month of Nov., 1838, hundreds of earnest Lutherans, under the leadership of Martin Stephen, pastor of the Bohemian Church at Dresden, re­solved to emigrate to America.' The hopeless con­dition of their home church, the opposition to the

Lutheran confession, and the preva‑

1. The lance of rationalism, drove those peo‑

Synod of plc out of their native land where they

Missouri. despaired of seeing their ideal of the

Church realized. Stephen was dis­tinguished by his remarkable eloquence in the pul­pit, his knowledge of men, and his pastoral ability in dealing with souls in a state of despondency under severe spiritual trials. Though he had had diffi­culties with the ecclesiastical authorities in Saa­ony, no charges had affected his character. His adherents had absolute confidence in him and trusted him not only with their spiritual guidance but even with the administration of their worldly possessions. They numbered altogether about 700 persons, among them several faithful pastors of the Lutheran Church in Saxony, like O. H. Walther, C. F. W. Walther, E. G. W. Keyl, and G. H. Locher. One of the vessels on which the immigrants embarked was lost at sea with all on board. The others landed in Jan., 1839, at New Orleans and settled in St. Louie and in Parry Co., Mo. Soon after their arrival Stephen was found to be unworthy, guilty of defalcation and gross im­morality. They cast him off, and Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (q.v.) became their principal lead­er. When the catastrophe of Stephen's exposure overwhelmed the Saxon immigrants, and they them­selves .were in doubt, whether they still were a Christian Church and their pastors real officers of the. church by divine right, it was Walther who brought light and encouragement to the downcast little band. He founded the semimonthly Dar Lu­theraner and later on the theological monthly Lehre and Wehre. By means of these publications he gathered a number of like‑minded men, and pre­pared the way for the organization of the synod of Missouri, which met for the first time in Chicago, Ill., Apr. 26, 1847. In the same year the educational institution founded by W. Loehe in Fort Wayne, Ind., was transferred to the synod of Missouri, and the theological seminary of the Saxon immigrants in Parry Co. was moved to St. Louis, where Walther became the head of the faculty. From the very beginning the synod of Missouri placed itself on the foundation of the Lutheran confessions as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, rejecting all kinds


of unionism and syncretism with those of another faith. Continued doctrinal discussions at synods, conferences, and congregational meetings, regular visitations of the churches, and the faithful training of the children in their parochial schools were the means of not only holding the synod itself firmly together in one spirit, but also of enlarging it rapidly in every direction. Special emphasis was laid on the rights of the congregation, and all "High‑church" ideas concerning the ministry were repudiated. The authority of the synod in its relation to the congre­gations is advisory in character. The right of vote at synodical meetings is confined to the delegates of congregations and to those pastors who actually serve congregations in full connection with the synod. All other pastors, teachers, and professors are only advisory members. The wisdom and con­sistency of Walther's management proved a power­ful attraction, which succeeded in overcoming and assimilating even antagonistic elements. At its second convention the synod numbered fifty‑five ministers, among them many who had enjoyed a thorough theological training at. German universi­ties, who knew how to adapt themselves admirably to their new American environments, and who worked together with the greatest personal devo­tion and self‑denial. In 1909 the synod of Missouri extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil. Includ­ing the English Synod (1888) and the Slovak Synod (1902) it numbered 2,086 ministers, 2,584 congrega­tions, 498,409 communicants. It had two theological seminaries with 12 professors and 396 students.

The Missouri Synod in Brazil.‑In the year 1899 Pastor Brutschin of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, ap­plied to the synod of Missouri with the request that pastors be sent to that territory. The General Committee for Home Missions of the Missouri Synod sent C. J. Broilers to examine the field in 1900. He was followed by,other pastors in 1901 who took up the work in the interest of the Missouri Synod in the district of San Lorenzo. In the year 1902 W. Mahler, henceforth the leader of the Missouri pas­tors in Brazil, established himself in Porto Allegre. In 1903 the publication of a periodical in the in­terest of the Missouri Synod was undertaken and an institution founded for the training of pastors and teachers, which, after a temporary interrup­tion, was reopened at Porto Allegre in 19_07. In 1904 the synod of Brazil was organized as a sepa_ rate district of the Missouri Synod. It numbers at present 20 pastors, ministering to 8,251souls, includ­ing 3,943 communicants, and 1,234 voting mem­bers. In Europe (Germany and Denmark) the Mis­souri Synod numbers 29 pastors, in Australia, in two districts, 38 pastors, in New Zealand 3 pastors.

Following the Saxon emigrants, in 1839 another band of German Lutherans left their home on so­count of their faith and started for America. Their leader was Johann Andreas August

8. The Grabau, bore 1804 near Magdeburg,

Pastor of St. And rew'sChurchatErfurt.

He had been repeatedly imprisoned on

account of his opposition to the Prus­

sian Union and to the introduction of the king's

Agenda. About 1,000 adherents followed him, the



moat of them from Erfurt, Magdeburg, and the sur­rounding country. The greater number settled in Buffalo, N. Y., but some went as far west as Wis­consin. In the year 1845 Grabau with his friends, P. v. Rohr, L. Krause, and Kindermann, founded the " Synod of Lutherans immigrated from Prus­sia;' afterward called the Buffalo Synod. Its the­ological seminary was connected with the Martin­Luther‑0ollegium in Buffalo. In distinction from the Saxon Lutherans Grabau entertained high­churchly ideals of the office of the ministry and ordination, making the reality and efficacy of the means of grace dependent on the office, and depri­ving the congregation of its right to discipline and excommunicate its members. Even in the man­agement of the temporal affairs of the congrega­tion the members were bound to strict obedience toward their pastors. Walther and his friends were convinced that in these views the hierarchical tend­encies of Stephen were revived, from whose bond­age they bad just escaped. A violent controversy ensued between the " Prussians " and the " Sax­ons." After a colloquy held in 1888 eleven pastors of the Buffalo Synod joined the Missouri Synod. The small remnant again broke into two sections, one of which ceased to exist in 1877. At the pres­ent time the Buffalo Synod numbers 30 pastors, 41 congregations, and 5,556.communicants. It has a theological seminary in Buffalo with five teachers and eleven students. In recent times there has been brought about an amicable understanding be­tween the Buffalo Synod and the Ministerium of New York. Several conferences have been held with satisfactory results, both synods recognizing each other and admitting their members to pulpit and altar fellowship.

In the year 1841 the Rev. Frederik Wyneken, pastor of the Lutheran congregations in and nor Fort Wayne, Ind., sent forth a touching appeal to the mother church in Germany, appealing in be­half of the Lutherans in the western States of North America for help in supplying them with the means of grace. The venerable W.

S. The Loehe, pastor in Neuendetteleau, $a‑

Iowa varia, and founder of the deaconess

aV‑0d• institution in that village, was deeply

moved with sympathy for his breth­

ren in the faith in America. He established a mis­

sionary institute and began the publication of a

paper (Kirdaliche Mitteilungen arcs and fiber Nord

America) through which he awakened and nour­

ished an active interest in the condition of the

Lutherans in America. The first two missionaries

sent by him attached themselves to the synod of

Ohio and to the Michigan Synod. But in 1845 they

and their sympathizers left the synod of Ohio and

established the theological seminary at Fort Wayne

under the presidency of Wilhelm Sihler. This step

was taken because they were not satisfied with the

confessional position of their synod in respect to

the unionistic tendencies of the time. The insti­

tution at Fort Wayne was opened in 1848 with eiz­

teen pupils, most of whom had received their pre­

paratory training at Neuendettelsau. The ground

and the buildings were acquired chiefly through

contributions coming from Loehe and his friends.

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