The undersigned endeavors to present herewith, in compliance with the desire of some of his brethren, a short history of the present controversy. In furnishing the accompanying statement, the writer considers it necessary to answer first of all the question: Which of the two now opposing doctrines was formerly the doctrine of the Missouri Synod? Which of the two parties has departed from its former position and has sought to introduce something new? This question might seem superfluous; for even if the synod referred to formerly held the doctrine which she now rejects, and which we defend, this would not prove that we, in our present opposition, are right. It might be that all of us were formerly alike in error. In that case it would be entirely right for the Missouri Synod to renounce its error, and on our part it would be wrong to oppose such a step. The principal question is and always remains this: Which side has the divine truth now? Yes, that is and remains the great question. Those of Missouri, however, declare with great emphasis that they ever held the doctrine which they now hold. Dr. Walther calls the assertion, that they formerly taught a different doctrine of election from that which they teach at present, a “gross falsehood,” which has been “spread from a certain quarter.” Dr. W. says this with especial reference to himself. In Chicago, however, he denied just as emphatically, that the doctrine of an election in foresight of faith had been the teaching of the Synod, consequently, this is what he refers to as a gross falsehood. From the beginning he has been very liberal in charging others with “lies,” “falsehoods,” etc. Let us see on which side the “lie” and the “falsehood” are in the present case.
In the “Lutheraner” of the year 1846, p. 93, we find a communication from the pen of Pastor Schieferdecker, in which the following is presented as the Calvinistic doctrine of election:
That God “according to an unconditional decree elected some to life and condemned some to death, in which decree the conduct of men, and also faith, was in no wise taken into account.” [[@Page:761]]
This is what the “Lutheraner” at that time called Calvinistic. We still call it so.
In “Lehre und Wehre,” 1855, p. 234, we find theses on the doctrine of election by Dr. Sihler. The first of these reads: “Election is an act of God, wherein, before the foundation of the world, in eternity. He resolved according to the purpose of His will, for Christ’s sake, and for the praise of His glorious grace, to save eternally all those whose persevering faith in Christ He foresaw.”
Dr. Sihler has now, alas, retracted this thesis; see “Lehre und Wehre,” 1881, p. 58. But this retraction is an irrefutable proof that these gentlemen now occupy a different position from that of 25 years ago.
“Lehre und Wehre,” 1856, contains a very long article by President Fürbringer. Here, for example, we read: “Before time began God decreed to save through Christ Jesus, His Son, those who were lost and condemned through Adam’s fall. And inasmuch as it was not hidden from Him, whose eyes saw us before He made us, which persons would acknowledge His Savior and believe in Him to the end, He resolved to bring them into an existence in which His gracious will should be glorified in them. But if God (who so determined, and who foreknew because He had resolved to impart) foreknew them as creatures who would be saved through faith, He thereby also predestinated them, as persons who will not be cast away, in whom the counsel of salvation will be realized, unto the attainment of everything necessary for salvation; and these are therefore called according to the purpose. Rom. 8.28,” etc.
This quotation shows in what respect one may speak in an entirely orthodox manner of a predestination “unto the attainment of everything necessary for salvation. The foresight of persevering faith was most clearly presupposed. We have already seen that Dr. W. makes essentially the same explanation in his Postil.
Pres. Fürbringer continues, p. 321: “We are quite logically forced by the foregoing remarks to the question: Is the eternal election of God a cause of the salvation to believers so that this election, first of all, creates faith? We must first of all hold fast that election, to begin with, is not the foundation, nor the means, nor the condition of salvation; for these are Christ, His Gospel, [[@Page:762]]and the faith it works. In the second place, election is also not the cause of our faith so that faith would be the effect of election; for the Word works faith. But because God’s election appoints or ordains beforehand unto salvation His own, whom He knows, therefore it is indeed the cause that works their salvation in so far, as all things in the time of grace must arrange themselves accordingly and serve for this end. It is the cause working to the end that foreseen faith, and all that flows from faith, attain reality by means of the Word coming to us and experienced efficaciously by all who hear it. This is the point of difference which separates the pure doctrine from the Reformed-particularistic doctrine; namely that the power of the divine Word for conversion and regeneration does not require predestination as a presupposition,” etc.
Faith, then, is not the effect of election; for the power of the divine Word to convert men does not rest upon predestination as a presupposition, i.e., does not flow from it, as Missouri now maintains, declaring us to be synergists because we deny it. Pres. F., however, tells us that this is the very point of difference between Lutheran and Calvinistic doctrine. He has, therefore, in advance declared the present doctrine of Missouri to be Reformed-particularistic, i.e., Calvinistic! And everybody knows that we make the same declaration still. Whether Pres. F. has hit the exact sense of [[§ 8, Art. XI, of the Formula of Concord >> BookOfConcord:Formula:SD:11:8]], is another question. For there election is not called a cause of our salvation and of what pertains thereto “in so far,” etc., but it is simply termed a cause. He has also overlooked the fact, that the Form. Conc. embraces in the idea of “Election or predestination,” “i.e. God’s appointment to salvation,” eight eternal decrees, in the first seven of which God “decreed” salvation itself and “what pertains thereto,” but in the eighth, “that those whom He has elected, called and justified” He would also save. If, as does the Form. Conc., we understand by “Election or Predestination, i.e. by God’s appointment unto salvation,” both the appointment of the whole salvation and the appointment of the persons who really obtain salvation, then we can, yea we must without limitation say, this election, this appointment of God is a cause, and we dare not limit the word cause by “in so far,” as Pres. F. does. Still less dare we, as Dr. W. does, call election a cause, namely one beside other causes, viz. Christ, God’s grace, etc. This [[@Page:763]]subterfuge of Dr. W.’s is, evidently so unchristian that it is inconceivable how he could so speak. A cause of our salvation besides Christ, besides God’s grace!! This gross distortion of [[§ 8 >> BookOfConcord:Formula:SD:11:8]] is shown to be such, beyond a doubt, by language used in the paragraph. Election is, “from the gracious will and pleasure of God in Christ Jesus, a cause.” The Latin text likewise shows that the words “a cause” are not to mean “a cause beside others”; also by election “causa est, quae,” etc. According to Dr. W.’s interpretation it would have to read: una causarum, one of the causes, or causa aliqua. In Acts 2.36, we read: Dass Gott diesen Jesum zu “einem Herrn und Christ gemacht hat.” According to Dr. W.’s exegesis that would have to read: “zu einem Herrn und Christ, nämlich neben andern Herren und Christussen.” This is the way in which the gentlemen in St. Louis handle the words of the Confessions, and then call all those apostate who do not consent to such work! If only we pay attention to all that the Form. Conc., embraces in this “appointment of God unto salvation, we can and must say with the Form.: This appointment is a cause of our salvation and of what pertains thereto, also of faith, for it constitutes the summary of all causes and all means, as the eight decrees show.
If, however, we speak, as do our dogmaticians and as Pres. Fürbringer evidently does, only of the eighth decree, the final appointment of individuals to eternal life, then we cannot and dare not say that predestination is a cause of faith; for, as Pres. F. rightly says: “The Word creates faith;” and the Word is treated in the second and third decrees, not in the eighth. The eighth presupposes the Word, justification (and thus also faith), as is clearly shown by the words: “Those whom He has elected, called and justified,” etc. Furthermore, when we, as do the dogmaticians and Pres. F., speak of the predestination of persons, that is of the eighth decree alone, we dare not say: “The power of the Word presupposes predestination;” then we must say with Pres. F. that it is Reformed-particularistic (Calvinizing) doctrine to teach: Election is a “cause of our faith, in so far as faith is an effect of election.” The eighth decree presupposes all the others; they do not presuppose it; as the St. Louis men have already expressly declared, that we must conceive of the election of individuals as belonging between the first and the second decree! [[@Page:764]]
Well, Pres. F. speaks of election in the sense of the dogmaticians, and firmly holds that election occurred in view of faith. That this agrees with the Form, of Cone, he proves as follows: “From all this we conclude at least that believers also were ordained as such from eternity and in consideration of their foreknown persevering faith were elected, not because they believe, but in view of faith; certainly, however, on account of the divine mercy and the merit of Christ, whose expiatory death dare not be limited by election, being in reality the ground of election. Therefore the C. F. rightly says: ‘And in so far a Christian should appropriate the article of God’s eternal election.… Who has resolved in His eternal plan that He will save none except those that acknowledge His Christ and truly believe in Him.’ The Form. Conc. draws its election from the purpose to save only those who perseveringly believe; but this connecting of the two is conceivable only as being brought about by foreknowledge, in so far as God, who would by all means bestow His salvation, only upon condition of persevering faith, limits His plan of salvation to such faith, and has appointed unto salvation all of whom He foreknew that they would thus believe, and whose salvation He has therefore foreseen, because it cannot and shall not deceive. For our Confession does not recognize a blind predestination, unenlightened by knowledge. Thus also the strict Lutheran Leonh. Hutter teaches, who in his Compendium employs chiefly the very words of the Symbolical Books, never in the least contradicting them: ‘Christ is considered in the decree of election not only as a Mediator in general, but also in so far as He is really embraced by men in faith, etc. Do you then maintain that God has elected men with reference to foreseen faith? (Answer:) Why should I not believe it, since the Holy Scriptures most plainly maintain it? Thesis 1. God has resolved in His eternal decree that He will save nobody outside of those who in true faith acknowledge His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore: Thesis 2. God has elected men to salvation with respect to foreseen faith.”
So far Pres. F. quotes the “strict Lutheran L. Hutter” and then proceeds: “Note among his (Hutter’s) proof-passages, John 17. 20; 2 Thess. 2.13; James 2.5. The simple dogmatical definitions follow for him: The essence of God’s election consists in the purpose, in the foreknowledge and in the foreordination. [[@Page:765]]The purpose is the will of God that whosoever believeth on the Son (namely, unto the end), shall have eternal life. The foreknowledge is the prescience (knowing beforehand), according to which He has foreseen from eternity the individuals who would thus believe in Christ. The foreordination, the predestination itself is the act according to which He has given to these eternal life — election took place both according to the purpose and according to foreknowledge. Cf. Eph. 1.5-9, with 1 Pet. 1.1-2.”
So far Pres. Fürbringer, this, we think, will suffice. He presents this as the distinctive feature of the Calvinistic doctrine of election, the Calvinists do not, as do the Lutherans, “make election to have taken place in foresight of persevering faith, i.e., do not condition election by this divine foreknowledge.” Concerning the mystery he tells us: “Their (the Calvinists) hidden divine will is really the revealed will, for otherwise they could know nothing about its contents and import and about its relation to the revealed will” (Missouri says, it is not intended for us to know anything about it, that just this is the mystery. The Calvinistic cap fits both before and behind); “their revealed will is, in turn, a hidden will, it reveals nothing, in fact it only conceals God’s true will, in so far as it contradicts the latter.”
In “Lehre u. Wehre,” 1868, there appeared an article by Rev. Dr. Sihler, in which he again sets it down as a Calvinistic error that God has elected without foresight of faith. In his Postille Dr. Sihler says: “These are the few, whom God of His free grace, according to the purpose of His will, has elected to eternal salvation and glory in foresight of their persevering faith in Christ, wrought by the Gospel,” p. 170. In the sermon for the twentieth Sunday, p. Tr. “But these God has not merely foreseen according to His omniscience, as being in persevering faith, but at the same time has elected and foreordained them unto eternal salvation in Christ, of His free grace, and according to the purpose of His will.”
Regarding the certainty he tells us in the same place: “To this grace we should cling and hold in faith immovably… But we should not inquisitively seek and question concerning our own or others’ election and predestination. For if we persevere in this faith until the end, we are certainly elected.”
The sainted Director Lindemann, of the School Teachers’ Seminary in Addison, dictated to his seminary students, among [[@Page:766]]other things, the following: “Election does not embrace all men, but only persevering believers. These were known to God before the foundation of the world according to their person, disposition, and number.” “God gives the elect eternal life only because He sees them in Christ and as remaining in Christ, namely through faith.”
“He has foreseen the elect, i.e. He has known before the foundation of the world what persons would believe in Christ unto the end (foreknowledge, prescience).” “He knew beforehand who would not believe, who would believe for a time, who would believe perseveringly. This knowing the persevering believers is God’s foreknowledge.” Thus Director Lindemann understood questions 321 and 322 of our Catechism! This he evidently regarded as the doctrine of the Missouri Synod. He uses in this connection two axioms, formerly published several times in “Lehre u. Wehre”; “Not for the sake of faith, but through faith, we are elected unto eternal life.” (Not “unto faith,” as Missouri now says.) “God has indeed elected those only who believe, but not because they believe.” Faith itself is nothing meritorious, but only holds Christ’s merit, in which we are elected. Therefore faith is indeed a necessary condition of election and yet not a meritorious cause. Still Dr. Luther very often says: On account of faith, for the sake of faith, because we believe. The Holy Scriptures also often say: By faith, so that our justification and salvation flow from faith, as from their fountain and cause. Then, however, Christ’s merit is always meant, which faith has. But Missouri condemns all these expressions as Pelagian.
Past. O. Hanser (now first vice president of the entire synod) in November, 1867, presented to the New England Pastoral Conference (to which only Missouri pastors belonged), a catechization on question 321-328 of Dietrich’s Catchism, and this catechization was printed in September, 1868, in the “Schulblatt,” published by the Missouri Synod. The work has had the approbation of that whole conference as well as of the editorial management of the “Schulblatt”; and since the catechization appeared in this synodical publication and remained there unattacked and undisputed, the doctrine it contained is, in the fullest sense of the word, to be regarded as the doctrine of the whole synod. I direct attention to the following questions:
Under question eight a definition of election is given: [[@Page:767]]“Election is the divine decree, graciously to save all who perseveringly believe in Christ.” (According to the present teaching of the St. Louis men it would have to read: “Election is a secret decree of God, to call some unbelieving persons through the Gospel, to enlighten them with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to sanctify them in the true faith and preserve them therein and thus to save them. God has not elected believers, but unbelievers; that they become believers is the fruit and result of election.”)
Question “27. To what condition on the part of man is, accordingly, election unto eternal life bound? To this condition that he perseveringly believe in Christ.”
“28. How can we therefore describe the divine decree of election, since it is bound to this condition? We can describe it as a conditional decree.”
“29. What does this divine decree of election embrace according to question 322 of our Catechism? It embraces in a certain order all causes and means of our salvation.”
“30. In what words does St. Paul accurately state these? Rom. 8. 28-30, ‘We know,’ etc.”
“31. We must here learn to understand, first of all, each separate word. What does the word ‘foreknow’ mean? To know beforehand.”
“32. What does: ‘Them He also did predestinate’ mean? Them He elected.”
“33. What did God foreknow in predestination? Persevering faith in Christ.”
“34. What has God done furthermore, according to the apostle’s words, for those whom He has elected as persevering believers? He has also called them.”
“35. Whereby, by what means, has He called them? By the Gospel.”
“36. What has He wrought in them by the Gospel, when He called them? Faith.”
“37. What has God done further unto those whom he called? He has also justified them.”
“38. How has He justified them? He has imputed unto them Christ’s righteousness — has bestowed upon them forgiveness of sin.”
“39. What has He finally done unto those who have been justified? He has also glorified them.” [[@Page:768]]
“40. It is important to know and to hold fast this order and plan of means and causes in election, because a large Protestant denomination — the Reformed-Calvinistic” — (now, alas! the Missouri Synod, the author of this catechization, the New England Pastoral Conference, the editors of the “Schulblatt,” etc., etc., are to be included) “holds an entirely different doctrine of election. Who can state this doctrine in a few words? They teach that God unconditionally” (underscored in “Schulblatt” itself) “has from eternity appointed the smaller number of men unto salvation, the larger number unto damnation.” (Missouri will not say the latter; she would thus keep up the appearance of being far removed from the Calvinists. Vain effort! But this subject does not belong here.)
“41. How many causes and means of election unto salvation does our Catechism state in question 323? Three.”
“42. Which is the first cause of our salvation? The infinite mercy of God.”
“43. What does St. Paul say, 2 Tim. 1. 9? God has … according to His purpose and grace …”
“44. Which is the second cause of our salvation …? The infinite merit of Christ.”
“45. God’s grace is given us in Christ Jesus, and we already have learned in Eph. 1.4f. that God has elected us in whom? In Christ … through Jesus Christ.”
“46. Christ has acquired this grace for us through His life, suffering and death. By what means is Christ, with His merit, offered to us? By the Gospel.”
“47. What is therefore the third cause of salvation?” ( — Of election, of predestination unto salvation? See questions 40 and 41.) “Persevering, saving faith in Christ.”
These extracts are sufficient to convince every one who still loves the truth that formerly election in view of faith was taught in Missourian publications. So far as leading persons in the synod are concerned, the doctrine was publicly presented by Past. Schieferdecker, Dr. Sihler (who in his retraction expressly mentions, that he sent in his theses in agreemnt with Prof. Cramer; the venerable gentleman does not appear to relish bearing the blame by himself), Pres. Fürbringer, Dir. Lindemann and Vice. Pres. Hanser. So far as the synodical publications are concerned, the [[@Page:769]]doctrine was set forth in the “Lutheraner,” “Lehre u. Wehre” and in “Schulblatt.”
Now on which side is the “lie” and “gross falsehood”? On ours, when we maintain that the Missouri Synod formerly held the same doctrine that we still hold, or on Dr. W.’s, who calls this a gross falsehood? Still, Dr. W. tries to help himself. In Chicago Past. Rohe directed attention to Pres. Fürbringer’s and Dr. Sihler’s essays and said that he could not harmonize with these the present teaching of the opponents (the St, Louis men). Dr. W. answered: “One sees from this that at that time we still tolerated the second ‘Lehrtropus’ [type of doctrine] in our midst.” Minutes, p. 88.
Again: “That was not properly the opinion of our Synod, but the private opinion of Dr. Sihler and Pres. Fürbinger. It was not mine, who am the editor, appointed as such by Synod, and besides a teacher of dogmatics. Whoever says that lies.” Here again — “lies.” Observe what a foul subterfuge is here resorted to by Dr. W.! Note well this strict, orthodox synod, opposed to all arbitrariness in doctrine and to all unionism, “tolerated,” yes tolerated what she now calls “unfounded exegesis,” “introduction at pleasure of foreign matter into God’s Word,” and “Pelagianism,” and what she has now repeatedly characterized in the words of the C. F.: “All these erroneous doctrines are blasphemous and dreadful, whereby there is removed from Christians all the comfort which they have in the holy Gospel and the use of the holy Sacraments, and therefore should not be tolerated in the Church of God.” And yet Missouri “tolerated” it, Missouri so true to the Confessions! In order, however, to palliate this anti-confessional toleration, the expression “second Lehrtropus” [second type or form of doctrine] has been invented, as if the discussions were concerned merely about a different manner of presentation, instead of about an entirely different doctrine! And in order to justify their present condemnation, which certainly cannot refer to an innocent manner of doctrinal presentation, they pretend that we have not the “2d Lehrtropus” at all, but an altogether different doctrine; they did not condemn the “2d Lehrtropus” — but then, again, this will not harmonize with what Dr. W. says in the same Minutes, p. 16: “These (the dogmaticians, who have the 2d Lehrtropus) do not speak of the election spoken of in the C. F.; they refer to an altogether different thing.” So here [[@Page:770]]the “Tropus” is quite a different thing”, a different doctrine. From the beginning they did not mean us, but “these,” the orthodox teachers of our Church. Add to this that the 2d Lehrtropus will not at all “tolerate” the St. Louis doctrine. Pol. Leyser says: “Wherefore we reject and condemn from the bottom of our hearts the Calvinistic separation of some certain persons without considering their faith in Christ, as a horrible, blasphemous error.” For “the Calvinists not only do violence to this clear passage (Acts 13.48), but to the whole Scriptures, by inventing a bare appointment of some certain persons unto faith, when the Scriptures nowhere say that we are predestinated and appointed by God unto faith, but we are predestinated and appointed unto eternal life by the pure grace of God through faith in Christ.” Even a Missourian will not dare to deny that Leyser hits exactly the present Missourian doctrine and rejects and condemns it as a horrible, blasphemous error. But all who have any acquaintance with our dogmaticians know that the “2d Lehrtropus” is throughout couched in the language Leyser employs. Even Pres. Fürbringer, as we have seen, calls this the point of difference between Lutheran and Calvinistic doctrine, that election is said to be a cause of faith, in so far as the latter would be the effect of the former. Thus the “2d Lehrtropus” does not deal at all gently with the lad Absalom, who, assuming the title, Tropus I, is trying to climb into the throne, but calls him a bastard. And this, Dr. W. tells us, he has thus far tolerated, that is to say, he has “tolerated” that “an altogether different thing” was proclaimed as God’s eternal election, and the true doctrine of election was cried down as Calvinistic, and he permitted “Lehre u. Wehre,” whose editor he is, “placed there as such by Synod,” to do service for such a piece of deception! Only Dr. Walther’s enemies will believe that. Moreover, the Synod from the start has never allowed its publications to be at the disposal of doctrinal departures, and Rev. Dr. W. would never have allowed himself to be appointed editor, if he had had to accept articles with whose doctrinal contents he did not agree. He would have regarded it as a piece of insolence, if any one in the Synod had demanded the acceptance of dissenting articles. This is so well known within the Synod that no more need be said about it. As far as my knowledge goes, Dr. W. has published two articles that did not receive his approval — in the one only the “form of [[@Page:771]]expression used” was objected to, the “orthodox meaning of the passage, however, appearing from the context.” In both instances Dr. W. immediately made his disapproval known in a footnote. The extended discussions on election (Pres. Fürbringer’s alone occupies 80 pages), together with their condemnatory propositions, appear without a dissenting word. What right then has Dr. W. to say that this is not his own, not even really the voice of Synod, but only the “private opinion” of the persons communicating the articles? Who in the Missouri Synod so regarded the matter? Certainly nobody, till Dr. W. in the year 1880, in Chicago, said so. There may have been secret Calvinists in the Synod, who therefore did not agree with these articles. Dr. W. himself may have been one of these persons. The fact, however, that Dr. Walther accepted the articles without any remark, and that other pastors who possibly were Calvinistically disposed raised no protest, proves incontestably, that they did not regard their diverging views as synodical doctrine, and therefore kept these views carefully to themselves.
When Mr. Volkening published in St. Louis the “82 Trostreden” [Consolatory Discourses] of Lassenius, P. Grabau reviewed the little book in the “Informatorium” and at the same time sought to furnish a proof from the book against Dr. W.’s doctrine concerning the Church and the Ministerial Office. In replly Dr. W. said in the “Lutheraner,” January 22, 1862: “It looks astonishing and amusing to us that the ‘Informatorium’ seeks to prove from this pure Lutheran book that we have taught false doctrine; astonishing and amusing, because we (Dr. W.) have selected and arranged these Trostreden.” He evidently means: It is nonsense to suppose that Dr. W. would encourage the publication of something with which he did not himself agree. In the little book referred to Dr. W.’s name does not appear, and so P. Grabau did not know that Dr. W. had selected and arranged the “Trostreden,” and that they could not possibly contain a doctrine that did not receive Dr. W.’s approval. So finely had Dr. W. caught his opponent that he was “amused” to see the latter squirm. At the same time he related how Dr. Luther (Dr. W.’s forerunner) at one time pubHshed a little book without adding his name to it, and how Duke George, Luther’s bitter enemy, praised the book and declared: Luther, at any rate, could not write such a book. (Similar stories from the life of Dr. Luther [[@Page:772]]are now, of course, frequently told by Dr. W.) But stop and compare with this Dr. W.’s statement concerning the article which he had accepted in “Lehre u. Wehre,” and by which Past. Rohe wanted to prove to him in Chicago how falsely he now taught! According to the way in which Dr. W. disposed of P. Grabau, he would have had to say: It is astonishing and amusing to us that Past. Rohe would prove to us by this pure Lutheran periodical (“L. & W.”), how falsely we have taught! Wonderful and amusing, because we ourselves published this periodical! How different his evasion now! “Private opinion of Dr. Sihler and Pres. Fürbringer, but not mine, who am the editor.” Over against Past. Grabau it was nonsense that he should encourage the publication of anything that was not his own teaching, over against Past. Rohe it is not nonsense; Dr. W. himself says that he did not agree with what he permitted to be published and dares to add: “Whoever says this” (that he agreed), “lies.”
For Dr. W.’s greater discomfiture, the “2nd Lehrtropus” is maintained in the book referred to and this very explicitly and decidedly. On p. 153 we read: “This election did not occur absolutely, but in Christ Jesus, not without regard to faith, without which no one can please God, Heb. 11.6, but by means of and through faith.” P. 155: “We teach and believe, as God’s Word teaches us, that election unto eternal life took place in eternity, not by a mere decree and pleasure, but in foresight of faith, since God knew that the believers and elect would remain therein.” P. 157: “God has not elected us that we should believe, but because He foresaw that we would believe; but that faith is the means of election, to which in eternity He directed election, Paul shows in Eph. 1.4: He has elected us in Christ Jesus, which means: God has elected us in Christ Jesus, whom we embrace in true faith, because faith is a correlative of Christ” (that is, faith and Christ belong together — Dr. W. himself translated the Latin word in the margin!) P. 185: “But because God foresaw that some would accept this grace, and that others would reject it, He decreed at the same time that He would elect the obedient and reject the others, the disobedient.” P. 158 Lassenius says: “When faith is considered according to its relation in time, we may call it more a fruit of election, although we must use such forms of expression very cautiously; notwithstanding it is not contrary to the analogy of faith to say that the faith of the elect [[@Page:773]]proceeds from the election to salvation.” By the warning that we should use such expressions cautiously, and by the mere concession that it is not contrary to the analogy of faith, Lassenius shows with sufficient clearness that these are unusual expressions, easily misunderstood, although they are not therefore to be condemned under any and all circumstances, providing one does not deny the proper relation between faith and election; and this Missouri does now. On p, 156 Lassenius maintains (just as Dietrich’s Catechism and the Missourian “Schulblatt”) that there are three causes of justification and election, and in this sentence Dr. W. has again translated a Latin word used by Lassenius. This sentence, too, passed properly under Dr. W.’s supervision. Not a single syllable indicates that he does not agree. In the preface to the book he says that the “whole contents are drawn from the pure and unadulterated Word of God” and afterwards he ridicules Pastor Grabau in the “Lutheraner,” because he thought he had found something in the book that was contrary to Dr. W.’s doctrine.
I ask now: Did not Dr. W. most decidedly confess the doctrine of election as taught in that little book, especially since he explained two of the most striking passages by annotations? Did he not, with Lassenius, reject the Calvinistic proposition: “God has elected us that we should believe” (unto faith), and on the other hand accept the proposition: “but because He foresaw that we would believe,” as well as all other statements of similar import? Dr. W. and his blind worshipers have here evidently only two statements between which to choose: Either he then already held the doctrine so distinctly expressed in the above sentences to be the grossest Pelagianism; and if so, then he acted as a genuine deceiver by encouraging the publication of such teachings and unrestrictedly praising the whole contents in the preface, and furthermore he shamefully played the hypocrite over against Grabau and ridiculed him without reason. Or, he at that time agreed with Lassenius; and if so, then he sins grievously against us, by calling it “gross falsehood” and “lies” when we say that he so agreed, that this was also his doctrine. Yea, he sins against us in either case by his accusations; for he evidently at least confessed the doctrine of Lassenius, whether he believed it or not; we must judge his position by his words. On which side, then, is the “gross falsehood” and “lie”? [[@Page:774]]
In addition, Dr. W. in part republished a great number of other works written by the fathers and in part recommended them most unreservedly. These books teach an election in view of faith, defend it by citations from the Holy Scriptures, and what Missouri to-day teaches is most positively rejected and condemned. This is true, for example, of the renowned Weimar Bible, so strongly recommended in the “Lutheraner.” In the preface to the new edition of this work Dr. W. says: “After using this work for many years, we say with a great multitude of the most enlightened theologians of our Church, most positively and confidently, that the reader has in this book an exposition of the Scriptures that is throughout in harmony with the analogy of faith and in doctrine as pure as gold.” Now, this work explains “foreknow,” Rom. 8.29, and “foreknowledge,” 1 Pet. 1, by: “foreknew that they would believe.” This “exposition of the Scriptures as pure as gold” is now called in St. Louis an “unfounded exposition of the Scriptures.” On 2 Thess. 2.13: “Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” the “exposition of the Scriptures as pure as gold” reads as follows: “That the Holy Ghost has called you to Christ’s kingdom by the Word of the Gospel, and has wrought in your hearts true faith in Christ, and thereby regenerated, renewed, and sanctified you: and because this gracious work was known in you from eternity to God the Lord, Acts 15.18, He from eternity also elected you in such sanctification of the Spirit and in such true faith in Christ.” Because our call and faith were known to Him — that is now called gross Pelagianism. Could Dr. W. so have regarded it, when he overwhelmed the work with such unstinted praise? But whether he so regarded it or not — this much he can not dispute, that such a commendation is more than mere “toleration.” In his “Beleuchtung,” p. 31, Dr. W. replies on this point: When one, in recommending an otherwise excellent book, at the same time draws attention to the fact that indeed some things that are false are contained therein, the purchasers would thereby be filled with suspicion. But who ever expected to read anything of that sort from Dr. W.’s pen! Again he says: “In our Church we are continually taught that one should test all human books by God’s Word and hold fast the good only. However much a true Lutheran may praise a book, it is always [[@Page:775]]a self-evident presupposition, that thereby he does not mean to say that the book contains no mistakes.” “Does not mean to say” — even not then, when he does say it in so many words, as Dr. W. said it with regard to the “82 Trostreden” and the Weimar Bible? O these endless shameful evasions, which would all be unnecessary if he would simply and honestly declare: We did not formerly hold it to be false, we do now hold it to be so: our convictions have changed.
I must yet call attention to a book very warmly recommended by Dr. W. in which these make-shifts are annihilated. We refer to a book, which (as he says) “preachers can put into the hands of their hearers in order that these may thereby inform themselves respecting the difference between the true Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church” Among the many works serving this purpose, the one by H. G. Masius (“Kurzer Bericht,” etc.), in Dr. W.’s judgment, is the best of the older works. “This little book is much to be preferred to many other books of a similar nature, both on account of the earnest yet mild spirit displayed, a spirit that speaks the truth in love, and also on account of the clearness and thoroughness of its proofs.” “L. u. W.,” 1857, p. 43.
With regard to this little book Dr. W. can not say that he presupposed, when he unreservedly recommended it, that the reader would of himself recognize whatever falsehood it contained; for the book had this as its object, to show what is false, in order that the laity might learn to test other writings.
What, now, does the book say about the “difference between the true Evangelical Lutheran and the Reformed” doctrine of election? I quote only a few sentences from its thorough exposition of the subject:
“VII. Question: Did election take place in eternity according to the mere will and absolute decree of God, without the foresight of faith and of Christ’s merit? The Lutherans say no. The Reformed say yes.”
“That God elected certain men according to His mere purpose and will without the foresight of faith based on the merit of Jesus Christ, is the standard doctrine of all the Reformed who hold to their symbolical books and accept the proceedings of the Synod of Dort; and though some indeed grant that election did not occur altogether without the foresight of Christ’s [[@Page:776]]merit and of faith, yet their idea is not, that God from eternity elected those concerning whom He foresaw that they would believe and would accept the merit of Christ, but that He elected a certain few according to His mere absolute will, in order that they might believe in time. Therefore faith is not regarded by them as a cause or condition of election, but as a necessary effect of election. Cf. here the Synod of Dort, pp. 342, 524” (and we, alas! would have to add, the Synod of Missouri on all pages). “Molinæus says in so many words: I recognize no election in view of faith, whether faith be regarded as a cause of election or as a preceding condition. God has not elected us because we believe but that we might believe.”
That this describes exactly the modern Missourian doctrine, Missouri herself will not deny. But Dr. W. has most warmly recommended this book, which declares such doctrine to be false and Calvinistic. Could he have done that if at that time he regarded this as the correct Lutheran doctrine?
But how has he expressed himself concerning this doctrine? His blind devotees give themselves all conceivable trouble to prove that in the past already he had the same conviction which he has now. For him to be compelled to admit that he did not formerly, in this doctrine at least, hold the same position that he holds now, and that he either erred formerly or errs now, they seem to regard as the greatest possible misfortune, and seek to shun the thought. Certainly, from their point of view, it would be a misfortune; for it is a fact that Dr. W. is regarded by innumerable pastors and church-members as well-nigh infallible. How often have we had to hear in private conversation: You would be wiser than Dr. W., and he so learned and experienced, — he certainly is not wrong. This idolatrous trust is one of the powers that secretly supports the present false doctrine in that synod. That confidence would naturally be destroyed as soon as it would be conceded openly: Yes, Dr. W. also erred formerly; he taught as do his present opponents, and the controversy arose because he recognized and cast of? his error, whilst his opponents still hold to the error. This would indeed be the open and honorable way for Dr. W. and his followers to take; but they do not possess either the love of truth or sufficient confidence in their pretended biblical truth, to take this straight, Christian course: they prefer to take refuge in evasions which, [[@Page:777]]on the one hand, are manifestly untrue, on the other hand, brand Dr. Walther as one of the greatest hypocrites that ever lived. Their subterfuge is this: “That, whilst years ago he held the doctrine which he now teaches and defends, he did not vigorously urge and explain it, only slightly touching upon it and thus preparing the way for its later introduction and explanation.” This is sufficient for us. Prof. Dr. Walther, accordingly, formerly held the doctrine and also taught it, but with great caution and discretion. In his case no “new departure” occurred in recent times (he did not adopt a new doctrine). “2. We can herewith assure Prof. Loy that these ‘slight references’ to this doctrine operated powerfully among us. Our opinion is that when a professor, in his lectures on a compendium before his class, dictates notes whereby a doctrine, a Lehrtropus, etc., is corrected, such dictations arouse much more attention and have a greater effect, than when their contents is communicated otherwise. When they are of the nature of those stated to us by Prof. Dr. Walther, they constitute semina” (little seeds) “which, when they fall on good ground, at once proceed to germinate, grow and “bear fruit” (yes, we see the fruits now!). “3. Prof. Dr. W., however, expressed himself at considerable length and quite plainly on this doctrine in the year 1863, in L. u. W., p. 289 sqq.”
Thus writes Pastor Hügli, one of Dr. W.’s former scholars and present followers, in ““L. u. W.,” 1881, p. 323, and Dr. W. allowed it to pass! This, then, is the defence: Dr. W. held this doctrine already years ago, but did not urge it vigorously, only slightly touched upon it — N. B. “this doctrine dripping with comfort,” the “most necessary comfort,” etc., only “slightly touched upon it,” and so prepared the way for its later introduction! Why, why, how Dr. W.’s lawyer forgets his role! That is just what we say: they now want to introduce a doctrine that was not introduced before; at that time, it seems, Dr. W. only prepared the way for this step. And how did he prepare the way? In this manner: whilst he permitted, in “L. u. W.,” the free publication of this so-called false doctrine, he also recommended unreservedly other books containing the same doctrine, and always pretended to recommend nothing, and in particular to allow nothing to be printed, that was not pure in doctrine, — in the meantime, within the seminary walls, he taught his students a new doctrine? — no; only “corrected a doctrine, a Lehrtropus” [[@Page:778]]and thus only scattered little seeds, which germinated in “good soil,” — naturally Pastor Hügli’s heart belonged to that “good soil” — ours, if you please, did not — in this manner Dr. W. “prepared the way” for the “later introduction of the doctrine which he now teaches and defends.” We ourselves cannot more thoroughly prove that Dr. W. has forsaken his former position; for here the matter naturally concerns only the position which he openly occupied, not that which he believed in his heart. No one can more deeply damage Dr. W.’s character than Pastor Hügli does; for, according to his representations, Dr. W. permitted a doctrine which he held to be false to thrive unimpeded in the periodicals edited by himself, and only gave occasional intimations in his lectures of the opposite pure doctrine! But all this they take into the bargain, in order that they may only hide the patent fact, that Dr. W. either erred formerly or errs now.
On p. 142 Pastor Hügli mentions the little seeds which Dr. W. scattered in the seminary and with which he is said to have corrected the 2nd Tropus. But in this he is decidedly unfortunate; for in none of the statements quoted does Dr. W. say that the 2nd Tropus really contains false doctrine, he does not once deny that faith is a cause of our justification and salvation, but he denies only that faith is a meritorious cause moving God. And this all orthodox dogmaticians of our Church have rejected, and we also reject it. Christ’s merit is the cause; but no one possesses this merit except through faith, and only in so far is faith necessary. In so far our fathers at times call faith a cause, but they then add: not a meritorious, but only an instrumental cause. Dr. W. gives special prominence to this in the aforesaid connection, and this is what Pastor Hügli calls little seeds which now, in “good soil,” bear such beautiful fruit! Thus Dr. W. is said to have corrected the 2nd Tropus! Pastor Hügli ought himself to have read our fathers, and he would have found that they all say the same thing; in fact, the statements quoted from Dr. W. are almost altogether utterances of the fathers themselves. What then, in the writings of the fathers, did Dr. W. correct? But now Dr. W. does not agree with the fathers, and his devotees create an atmosphere of mystification and cry out: See ye, Dr. W. did not agree already in the past!
Well, the writer was also a pupil of Dr. W.’s, and even after [[@Page:779]]the time of Pastor Hügli. He dictated to me among things the following (and my fellow-students — about 17 in number — may examine whether they have not the same in their notes. Pastor Hügli probably has it in his notes also, but he does not quote it — ):
“Quenstædt: False doctrine I. of the Calvinists, who tear faith out of the decree of election and say that faith belongs to election not as preceding, but as following it, not to election itself, but to its execution. Those of Dort (say): Election is not in foresight of faith, but unto faith.” (That is exactly the present doctrine of Missouri. Then Dr. W. dictated it to us as the Calvinistic antithesis! These are the little seeds, that were sown into our hearts! “Molinæus says: God has not elected us in view of faith, but unto faith.” Here Dr. W. added by way of parenthesis: Cf. Luther’s preface to Romans, where he says, originally faith and deliverance from sin flow from God’s eternal predestination. See Carpzov’s Isagogics, p. 1678.” Was this perhaps one of those little seeds? We know now indeed that he understands these words of Luther in a Calvinistic sense.
As a second antithesis (false doctrine) he dictated to us:
“II. Certain Scholastics and papists, who maintain that the foreseen non-prevention of faith is an effect of election.” According to modern Missouri’s teaching, that too is quite right. Now, after all, the papists defended the doctrine that God justifies and saves by free grace alone! Bellarmin also belonged to that class.
Pastor Hügli appeals in particular to an article by Dr. W. in reply to an attack which a Reformed writer made on our Church. It is certainly interesting to hear how he expresses himself against a Calvinist on this question. The answer is peculiar, that I grant a priori. Not that he then already set forth his present doctrine, — precisely this is what he did not do. The Reformed writer had made exactly the same charges against the Lutheran Church that. Dr. W. now makes against the 2nd Tropus, namely, that she was tainted with a Roman Catholic Pelagianism, or at least Semi-Pelagianism, whilst the Reformed Church ascribes everything to free grace, electing in eternity and before the foundation of the world, and calling in time.”
From his present standpoint Dr. W. could have said only this in reply: “The objection does not strike our Formula of Concord. But this, alas! is true: From the time when the Form. Conc., was accepted, our theologians went astray in this [[@Page:780]]particular. For they have all taught an election in view of faith (and that was what the Reformed writer meant and what Dr. W. now means). The objection then really strikes our Church; for the fact that our Confessions are pure in this regard does not excuse the Church, but tends to her greater shame, because in spite of the pure confession, she has tolerated false doctrine.” This much Dr. W. would have been compelled to grant his opponent, if he had then viewed the matter as he does now. But that he did not do, for he says in conclusion: “How, according to what has been said, a man of sound understanding could impute the slightest taint of Roman Catholic Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism to our Church is wholly inexplicable.” He does not at all, in the course of the discussion, touch on the statement of our Church, that God has elected in view of faith, which proposition the Reformed have always decried as heresy. On the other hand, he grants that later theologians of our Church did thus set forth the subject: “As the unbelief of many, foreseen by God, is the cause for which God has from eternity resolved to reject and condemn them, so the persevering faith of a number of individuals, foreseen by Him, is the cause for which God has from eternity elected them to salvation.” This would evidently be fundamentally false; for unbelief deserves damnation, faith, however, does not deserve salvation, but receives another’s merit. If therefore some of our theologians have called faith a cause of election, they have nevertheless earnestly guarded themselves against this misunderstanding. They called faith an instrumental cause or a subordinate cause, never a meritorious cause. Dr. W. does not say who in “our Church” has taught this. He does not mean Gerhardt and Quenstædt, who very emphatically defend the “Tropus,” for he cites them as his vouchers. And now this is why I call his reply peculiar. He does not say whether by the above sentence he means the “in view of faith” or not. Now they ascribe to the expression a false meaning, and Pastor Hügli points to the essay for Dr. W.’s present position. If Dr. W. at that time did not mean the “in view of faith,” then Pastor Hügli proves nothing, but only creates the well-known atmosphere of mystification. If he did mean it, then he sought to conceal the truth from his opponent at that time, since our Church, and Gerhard in particular, has this “Tropus.” Or do they now pretend that our Church had indeed the expression, [[@Page:781]]but did not connect with it this false meaning, and that we now do attach to it this false meaning? If so, then this last is an open, inexcusable slander, for which they, at the last day, will have to give an account.
There is no open testimony against the “2d Tropus” in this essay, and that is the point which here especially concerns me.
In general he says nothing about the “two Lehrtropen,” but briefly presents the Lutheran doctrine of election according to the Form. Conc., puts the sentence, that election is a cause of our salvation, etc., into italics, and then says: “All orthodox theologians of our Church agree with this.” As proof of the latter statement he quotes two passages from Gerhard, in which Gerhard also disclaims the mistaken idea that faith is the moving cause of election. In a note to the last of these quotations Dr. W. finally says the following: “There is accordingly a great difference whether we say: God has elected those concerning whom He foresaw that they would believe and would remain in faith; or: God has elected some because He foresaw that they would believe and that they would remain in faith, or on account of their faith. The former is entirely correct, according to Rom. 8.29, the latter is Pelagian.” There we have Dr. W.’s own utterance on the question in discussion, and it is exceedingly important, both on account of its contents, and also on account of the use he afterwards made of it in a critical position. We evidently have here the true “2d Tropus,” only with the omission of the expression “in view,” which Dr. W. later declared to be liable to misunderstanding, concerning which we are not now contending, for we only contend for the substance, which Dr. W. declared to be “entirely correct according to Rom. 8.29.” Our opponents have tried in the present controversy so to distort the above sentence as to make it mean: Because God has elected some to faith. He has naturally foreseen that they will believe! Such an evident distortion of their own words is really not worthy of being touched upon! Alas, we must continually battle against such perversions. When we have driven our opponents out of one corner, they at once, with the greatest innocence, sit down in another corner. We must, however, continue the apparently useless chase. Well then, God has elected those of whom He foresaw that they would believe, is made to mean: God has elected some to faith, has decreed: these shall in any case believe; [[@Page:782]]and He then foresaw that He would “execute” this unconditional decree! As though I were to say: The five wise virgins who had oil in their lamps, were admitted to the marriage — this means: out of ten foolish virgins the bridegroom resolved to admit five, to give them oil for their lamps and then to make them wise! The perversion of the sentence is all the more shameful because our fathers have used it as an equivalent in meaning for “in view of faith”; it has a fixed, well-known meaning, which the words also present with undeniable clearness. Whoever knows this meaning and still uses the sentence in another sense does not act uprightly!
But that Dr. W. did not so understand the sentence is clearly demonstrated by his appeal to Rom. 8.29. “Whom He did foreknow,” these words Dr. W. then understood to mean: “Of whom He foresaw, that they would believe and would remain in faith.” This exegesis is irreconcilable with their present doctrine. Therefore they now term it “an unfounded explanation of the Scriptures.” And the same Dr. W. has written since then (“L. & W.,” 1880, p. 353): “It is indeed written: Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate, Rom. 8.29; but where is it written: Whom He foresaw as believing unto the end. He also did predestinate; and what creature in heaven or on earth has a right to add aught to the words of the Holy Spirit?” For the benefit of curious Missourians I shall immediately answer these questions. Where is it written, etc.? Answer: in “Lehre und Wehre,” 1863, p. 300, in a note below; likewise 1872, p. 132. Again: What creature in heaven and on earth has the right, etc.? Answer: Dr. Walther has at least taken to himself the right, and now takes the right to himself to teach an election unto faith, of which neither the Scriptures nor the Confessions say a single word!
Now this much is certainly clear, that Dr. W., until the year 1863, professed in every possible way the 2d Tropus and only warded off from it the idea that faith, in itself, is something meritorious; this, however, our fathers did just as decidedly, and we do the same. Then Dr. W. had nothing to “correct.”
But he certainly made a “new departure” in the year 1868. Because he never understood that our Form. Conc., uses the word “election” in a wider sense than do the dogmaticians, namely, as the Confessions themselves so emphatically state, that the whole doctrine of the counsel, will, and purpose respecting [[@Page:783]]our redemption, call, justification, and salvation is summed together, all which they then set forth in eight successive decrees, whilst the dogmaticians indeed speak of the separate decrees in exactly the same way as does the Form. Conc., and therefore do not essentially differ in doctrine, but understand by the word “election” not all the decrees, but only the last decree — because Dr. W. did not recognize this difference in the use of the word, therefore he could not recognize the agreement between the Confessions and the dogmaticians. He took the word in the narrow sense of the dogmaticians and still wanted to compress into it all that the C. F. included in the wider idea. Election is a cause, etc., he understood to mean: because God has elected this one and that one, therefore this one and the other are called, converted, justified, etc. For this reason he simply laid down the proposition: God has elected some to the call and to faith. In this way he gets into this difficulty: The F. C. says, election creates and effects faith. The dogmaticians say: Election presupposes faith as already wrought. That is an irreconcilable contradiction, one or the other must be fundamentally false, unless the word “election” is differently used in the two sentences; but the latter Dr. W. denies. He could not, therefore, escape the conclusion that two altogether different doctrines existed in our Church. No doubt it was hard for him to concede that. He did not like to cut himself loose from the dogmaticians, and did not renounce them in his controversy with the Reformed opponent, but presented the matter as though only a few later teachers ascribed merit to faith. But the difficulty does not lie there. Dr. W. cannot bring Gerhard’s, Leyser’s, Hutter’s and Hunnius’ teaching into harmony with the Confessions. Possibly it was just his defense of the Lutheran Church against the attacks of the Reformed writer that first brought the difficulty clearly before his consciousness. In the year 1868 he simply rejected the “in view of faith.” In the Minutes of the Northern District Synod, p. 24, we read: “It was objected, that in Eph. 1 it is said, we are elected through Christ and that thus faith is included, since Christ is apprehended through faith, and that thus the expression of the later theologians, God has elected in view of faith, is justified. To this the reply was made: There are no conditions in God, but we ascribe them to Him when we say, He has elected in view of faith.” [[@Page:784]]
That was surely a long step towards a “new departure,” the real fundamental principle of the stoutest Calvinism: “In God there are no conditions,” or, as Dr. W. says in the Minutes of ‘79: God does not ask whether we followed or not, but He acts as He pleases. “In God there are no conditions” — that covers the absolute reprobation of the Calvinist as well as the absolute election; that makes redemption as superfluous as faith, and faith in justification as superfluous as faith in election. That was a strong beginning, starting from a purely philosophical proposition. Dr. W. took his “new departure” not from the Scriptures, but from reason. We read further: “To the question, in how far it is Pelagianism if faith is regarded as a middle term, so that the motive in election is not faith itself, but Christ and His merit embraced through faith?” (to this question so accurately and correctly put) “the answer was given: This places a condition in God. Faith is indeed a middle link; but when one says, God has elected in view of faith, faith is not a middle link but a condition. One may distinguish ever so subtly, still a certain causality is ascribed to faith.” There the matter rested.
“In view of faith” declares a condition, a certain causality on the part of faith, and that is Pelagian. Moreover, the thesis under which this was presented, teaches an election unto the call and unto faith. It reads: “Election is so related to this change of man (regeneration), that God by virtue of His eternal election, also in time, of pure grace, for Christ’s sake, operates efficaciously and brings about that His elect — all whom He has predestinated unto eternal life — come to the means of grace and are converted.” The idea of election “includes 1) God’s love for the elect in eternity; 2) the choosing of the elect from among other men.” That this conception is somewhat narrower than that set forth in the eight decrees of the F. C. can be seen with “half an eye.” Starting from this idea, it was said, “that everything which God does in time to accomplish the salvation of the elect is only a result of His eternal election” — redemption then too? What is left of the universal gracious will? With reference to Luther’s famous statement in the preface to Romans it was remarked: “that if it flows from predestination who shall believe, there must also flow thence who shall not believe; but by this we do not say that God does not want to save such persons.” Luther’s word “predestination” they naturally understand in the narrow sense of their [[@Page:785]]“election.” Thence flows, “who shall and who shall not believe;” of course! If God has elected some unto faith, then it is finally decided that the others shall not believe. But one should not say that God does not want to save those “that are not to believe.” That is Missouri’s universal gracious will! At the following meeting, 1871, the thesis was once more put through the kneading process and it was emphatically repeated that election (N. B. in the Missourian sense), is a cause of all that occurs for the salvation of the elect, and then it was once more emphasized that “on the part of God no regard was had to man” and, of course, no regard to whether man “would believe and would remain in faith” — for this election takes care of that. Only one thing stood in the way: The fact that some believe for a time, then fall away and are lost. They are evidently not elected in the narrowest sense. Whence, then, have they faith, if faith flows from personal election? The Minutes answer: “As regards temporary faith, this is an effect of God’s grace through the Word, but not of election. Election is only the cause of faith in the elect. Therefore an elect person either believes unto the end; or, if he has fallen from faith, he again returns thereto before his end.”
There would thus be two sorts of faith. The one flows from the Word, not from election, and has not from the very outset the qualification that it shall abide; the people who have this faith are really deceived — that is Missouri’s universal gracious will. That thereby the Word and Sacraments are virtually annihilated is plain; for the mere word can merely work “temporary faith,” which helps nobody.
Thus Calvinism stood forth in fullest bloom. But a raw northwester accompanied by a heavy frost subdued it again for a time.
Outside of the feeble opposition that manifested itself in those two questions at the Synod of ‘68 (the questioner, we remark in passing, was Prof. Schmidt, who afterwards sounded the alarm), no open testimony was given in the Missouri Synod against the error that had crept in. Whether it would have been given afterwards, if things had not taken a new turn, I do not know. But in January, 1872, Prof. Fritschel, of Iowa, openly attacked the Missouri Synod for having, with special reference to our older dogmaticians, branded as Pelagianism the doctrine “that God elected and appointed unto eternal life those whose faith He foresaw.” This, [[@Page:786]]he said, was a gross outrage upon our Church and our old teachers and was a disgrace for the Missouri Synod, because there were not at least a few who earnestly lifted their voices in protest.
Dr. W. replied to this in “L. & W.,” 1872, p. 131 sqq.: “All this is, to say nothing worse, simply a gross perversion, an open falsehood,” etc. “Not one earthly word” of it can be found. “Our Synod, according to Prof. Fritschel, has condemned as Pelagianism, with express reference to the older theologians, the doctrine that God has elected in view of faith. Such an assertion only an Iowa professor would be capable of making.”
I shall not here investigate whether Dr. W. justly makes such attacks on Prof. F. I am only concerned about showing how he has expressed himself on “in view of faith.” He decidedly denies that the Synod, with express reference to the older theologians, has condemned the doctrine, that God elected in view of faith, as Pelagianism, and then proceeds: “It is true, our Synod can and will not appropriate to herself the ‘Lehrtropus’ of our 17th and 18th century dogmaticians, but not for the reason that she thinks that our faithful teachers therewith desired to give expression to a false. Pelagian doctrine, but because this Tropus, however correctly it may have been understood by them, so soon as it is strictly taken, contains something false, namely the doctrine, that the elect are elected on account of faith, that man’s faith is the ground, the cause, the condition of his election to salvation.” Again: “Our Synod therefore confesses most emphatically, that the theologians of our Church also in the 17th century have presented the right doctrine of predestination and have maintained the same against the Calvinists. One thing only does she criticise in the form of presentation of this point on the part of those men; the expression, God has elected ‘in view of faith’ is an infelicitous term.”
Here we find as clearly expressed as it is possible, what Dr. W. then censured in the 2d Tropus, namely, the expression only. And this can be explained; for the word “in view,” if it be not more accurately defined, seems to denote merit or worthiness, and that faith cannot be. This only Dr. W. censured in the “2d Tropus,” that the expression did not suit: the matter itself which our fathers sought to convey by this term be held to be altogether correct. Therefore he appeals to his former article against his Reformed antagonist, especially to the passage: that God has [[@Page:787]]elected those concerning whom He foresaw that they would believe and would remain in faith — is perfectly correct according to Rom. 8.29, and he then adds: “What Prof. Fritschel says, our Synod attacked as Pelagianism, she has rather firmly held as correct according to Rom. 8.29, and has confessed it over against the enemies of our Church.” This is, again, a plain confession of the “2d Tropus,” from Dr. W.’s own pen, and it must have the more weight, because he puts down Prof. F., who had charged him with a deviation from sound doctrine, as being, on that account, an open perverter of the truth. If Dr. W.’s words have any meaning, it is this: God saw all men, how in time they would be efficaciously called through the Gospel, so that they, without adding anything on their part, could and would be converted and saved through the power of the Holy Spirit alone, if a part of them did not wilfully and persistently resist the Holy Spirit. He saw in reality only a number converted and saved. These He elected, not because they merited it by their faith, but because they have forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. This is the kernel of the doctrine, which our fathers “have presented and maintained against the Calvinists,” as Dr. W. says.
How this harmonizes with what he said in 1868, Dr. W. does not indeed enter upon; and that, according to his understanding of the F. C, there must actually exist an irreconcilable contradiction between the Confessions and the dogmaticians, he says nothing about in his reply to Prof. F. — as little as he said anything about it over against his earlier Reformed opponent. Of election unto the call and unto faith not a word; of this, that in God there are no conditions, not a word.
In short, over against this attack, he silently abandoned the position taken in 1868 and confessed once more the doctrine of the dogmaticians. If that was mere policy, if he thought that the road for a “later introduction” was not yet smooth enough, and that he would have to continue still to scatter the “little seeds” with caution, — then all the worse for him; developments thus far hardly leave room for any other explanation, and “L. u. W.” suggests this same explanation. In 1877 he began to move again in the matter. The Iowa men who had upset his plan on the former occasion, had in the meantime been declared by him unworthy of further reply; if they had again raised the cry, there would have ensued a haughty silence or their opposition would [[@Page:788]]have been advertised as proof for the truth of the teaching attacked. On the former occasion all was silence in the Missouri Synod. That might succeed again; and, on the whole, it has so far succeeded. Whether everything was really planned out in this way or not, this much is certain. Dr. W. has publicly professed the “2d Tropus.” To report in brief:
1) He has allowed the 2d Tropus to be presented by influential men of the Synod in his paper, to be defended from the Scriptures and the Confessions, and permitted the contrary doctrine to be condemned.
2) He has unreservedly recommended almost countless writings of our fathers, which defend this doctrine and declare the opposite doctrine to be false; he himself has republished such writings.
3) He has in particular recommended Masius’ short account of the difference between the pure Lutheran and the false Reformed doctrine as being an excellent work; but in this book the present teaching of Missouri is rejected as Calvinistic, and the doctrine which Missouri now rejects is declared to be biblical and Lutheran.
4) He dictated to us in the seminary the following as the Calvinistic anti-thesis: God has not elected in view of faith, but unto faith.
5) He himself, personally and publicly, twice professed most emphatically the doctrine of our dogmaticians; and he declared only the expression “in view of faith” to be unfortunate.
What a fearfully insolent front is required by the declaration that the Synod, and especially Dr. W., has always taught as at present! On which side is the “lie” and “gross falsehood?”
But this “gross falsehood,” as well as many other falsehoods, is necessary on their side. False doctrine cannot be upheld by truthful words — that is certain a priori — and so the defenders of the falsehood must distort and falsify all things under discussion. History and language are disfigured, false conclusions drawn, the motive of the opponents is slandered, their own former words impudently denied, and all this with a show of great humility and holiness, as though all the honor is given to God, whilst in reality they are only too proud to make the simple confession: Yes, we have erred!
I now proceed to show briefly how the present public [[@Page:789]]controversy broke out. In regard to this point also Missouri endeavors — Dr. W. again in the van — to practice shameful deception. He repeatedly protested — in Chicago invoking God’s name — that he was guiltless as touching this controversy. We so-called opponents were reproached, because we should have brought the matter before the synodical meetings and should not at once(?) have resorted to open publications. The matter of immediate concern, in this connection, is as to what Prof. Schmidt and the writer have done. In the fall of 1877 the Western District of the Synod of Missouri took up the thread which the Northern District had begun to spin in 1868 and ‘71, which Prof. Fritschel had broken off and Dr. W. had temporarily dropped. The Minutes of ‘77 taught openly and unequivocally an election unto the call and unto faith, and this aroused the first opposition — privately, not publicly. The opinion seems to prevail quite generally, that the opposition came originally from Prof. Schmidt, and that I from attachment to him personally, followed him. That would not change the matter itself; however, the prevalent opinion is not in accordance with the truth. Furthermore, it is said, Prof. Schmidt was so embittered because he was defeated in an election at the synodical meeting in May, 1878, that he attacked Missouri in revenge. I only mention this here briefly, in order to brand it once more as a shameless slander; that it is slander, we have long since proved and have publicly called on the authors of it either to refute our proof or to take back the charge. They have so far done neither. Now the true course of events is as follows: Soon after New Year, 1878, I read the ‘77 Minutes and found, to my horror, that the doctrine it presented was not the Lutheran doctrine of election. It is true. Dr. W. does not there say openly and honestly that all our fathers erred — on the contrary, he quotes from them profusely, as though he found himself in fullest harmony with them; his own remarks, however, and his explanation of the important Scripture passages show a decidedly Calvinistic coloring, so that this one Report brings to light Dr. W.’s whole course of equivocation in the doctrine of election. After having sought in vain for months to get a biblical-Lutheran meaning out of Dr. W.’s false propositions, I laid the matter before my District President, Pastor Strasen, about the end of March, and then learned for the first time that Prof. Schmidt also did not agree with the Report and [[@Page:790]]had indicated this to leading men of his (the Norwegian) Synod. (The synodical convention, which is reported to have furnished Prof. Schmidt the motive for his antagonism, was held the last of May!) I did not urge Pres. Strasen to give an immediate expression of his opinion, but only presented and gave reasons for my scruples, and asked him to examine the matter. When, some time after, I again spoke with him on the sbject, I found that he had reached the same conclusion as myself. In the course of the whole year nothing more was done in the affair, excepting that I again and again examined Dr. W.’s erroneous propositions in the light of Scripture and Confessions, diligently studied also our old Lutheran theologians, as far as I had access to their writings, and conversed almost weekly with Pres. Strasen regarding the matter. At Easter (before that synodical meeting) I spoke with Prof. Schmidt on this subject. From that time on until October, 1879, we three, Pres. Strasen, Prof Schmidt, and I, frequently discussed the matter from all points of view, and we were agreed in our opinion on the Minutes. At Christmas, 1878, Prof. Schmidt was again with us, on a visit, and was then determined to set forth the Lutheran doctrine of election in the “Lutheran Standard” (for which paper he had already written much on other subjects), but without any attack on Missouri; he desired only to present the doctrine, since his conscience would not let him keep total silence in the face of error. Pres. Strasen and I advised him against this course, and urged him to speak privately with the St. Louis men. After being urged to the same effect by men of his own Synod, he did this. In consequence a colloquium between Dr. W. and Prof. Sch. was arranged and was held in Columbus, July, 1879. Dr. W. broke off the discussion after a day and a half, with the excuse that he had no more time. However, a continuation of the colloquium was agreed upon for the following year, and both sides were to have several representatives. Dr. W. asked Prof. S. if he would refrain from writing until .that time, and received the answer: That depends on what position Synod takes on this subject at its fall meeting. (The Synod in the spring of ‘78 was a general convention and did not discuss this matter.) One thesis of the year ‘77 remained to be discussed by the Western District and Prof. S. repeatedly expressed the hope to me that Dr. W. would yield in so far at the fall meeting of ‘79 as to give us satisfaction, and that the [[@Page:791]]colloquium for the summer of 1880 would be superfluous. So remote from his mind was the thought at that time of an open and direct attack on Dr. W! And this was more than a year after the synodical convention which was represented as having given occasion to S. for making open warfare! But even if Dr. W. had not yielded, if he had only not dragged the controversy before the public and tried to cripple Schmidt’s opposition, S. would have waited with his writing until all private negotiations had proved fruitless.
I, for my part, sent a letter in May, 1879, to the general president of Synod, Past. Schwan, in which I fully presented my objections to the ‘77 Minutes, and openly declared that I found in the Report “tendencies towards Calvinism.” I begged him to advise me how I should act. In reply to my letter Pres. Schwan put the question whether it would not be best for him to send my letter to Dr. W. in order that the latter might “express himself more fully concerning the matter.” To this I gave my consent, with the remark that perhaps it would be better to wait until the commencement of vacation, because Dr. W. would then probably have more time. In the meanwhile the meeting of our Northwestern District took place, where I communicated orally with Pres. Schwan and asked him, whether, in his opinion, I had written in an unbecoming manner — in which case I would ask him to return the letter in order that I might make any necessary amendments! He answered: “Not at all, my dear Allwardt.” He said, that if the matter were not otherwise adjusted, I should have to communicate with Dr. W., and this I declared myself ready to do, if it were necessary. I had now attacked the Western Minutes and feared that I might be confronted by the objection, that we had had the same subject in the Northern Minutes of 1868 and 1871; and why had I not first attacked these? I therefore concluded to lay the matter before the pastoral conference, which was held on the day following the close of synod. Without mentioning the Western Minutes, I quoted a sentence from the Northern Minutes of ‘71 and declared that I held it to be erroneous, and begged conference to express itself. When I desired to support my objections briefly from the Formula of Concord, I was prevented by loud protests. Let it be remembered: we are upbraided for not having brought the matter first of all before conferences and synods. Here I laid it before [[@Page:792]]a conference, where no layman was present and I was not allowed to conclude my speech! Pres. Schwan had already left, this reproach therefore does not strike him. I then declared that if I were not permitted to speak further, I should have to desist; “but that the matter must some time be dealt with, since I did not agree with the doctrine set forth. It was then resolved that I present in writing my objections to the sentence in question, and that within four weeks I should send this paper to a number of the pastors, who were to see to its further circulation, and in the fall the matter should be considered at the pastoral conference. One member offered to undertake the defence of the sentence attacked, at that conference. All this took place. The defender in question had secretly sent my criticisms to Dr. W. and had sought from him weapons for the conflict: which I mention for the reason that Dr. W. now also learned from this source, what was the matter under consideration. It is not within the scope of my plan to report fully concerning the proceedings of that conference; I would only mention, that I did not there stand alone; and beside those who with me openly accepted the truth, many expressed themselves privately to me as being grateful that I had attacked the subject, for they had long been disquieted on this account — now they have all, indeed, become quieted. — No agreement was reached at this time. My worthy opponent, who had offered to defend the Calvinistic proposition, frequently answered me with the words: “Rev. Dr. W. writes,” etc. Another one proved the election to the call and unto faith from Gerhard’s Loci! From Gerhard? How was that possible? All very easy and simple! Gerhard quotes Calvinistic statements and refutes them. Thus in § 174: “7. Argument” (of the Calvinists). “The call and justification are effects of election, Rom. 8.29-30; faith likewise, for it is dependent on the call; and consequently faith is not a cause of election.” He quoted this statement word for word, as though it were Gerhard’s proposition; and when I answered: that is a Calvinistic proposition which Gerhard refutes, he most emphatically disputed my reply. Fortunately, I had the volume in question at my lodgings; I went immediately to get it. When I returned, the artful secretary said: “It’s no longer necessary, Allwardt, we have already gone on further.” They did not want their stupidity exposed to shame. I thus saw at once, that at least [[@Page:793]]some of my reverend brethren were no longer able to distinguish Calvinistic from Lutheran statements. But there were very few of them as yet on this occasion. It was resolved to continue the discussion the following year. I too was satisfied with this arrangement.
In the same week, however, in which we held this conference in Oshkosh, the Western District met in St. Louis. This was toward the end of September, 1879. While Prof. S. and I, as well as others, who knew about it, hoped that Dr. W. would there, at least to some extent, satisfactorily explain himself, but in no case expected that in our absence he would touch upon our objections, this last was the very thing he did, and in a way which I would have thought absolutely impossible. Whilst he had broken off the colloquium in Columbus and had agreed with his opponent on a second meeting for the following year, and had desired of Prof. S. to make no public attack until that time, and whilst he had not yet answered a syllable to my letter, which had been handed to him by the general president, yet he criticised our arguments before that convention, distorted them most monstrously, made them appear ridiculous, and heaped upon us the most hateful names imaginable. We are proclaimed rationalists, synergists. Pelagians, followers not only of the papists in general, but also and in particular of the sly and crafty Bellarmin (a Jesuit)! But, before 1 pursue this- further, I must show that we indeed — I, to be sure, less than Prof. S. — were meant, for our names were, of course, not mentioned, and this fact was afterwards appealed to. But we knew it nevertheless, and were just as certain of it as though our names had been mentioned; and the whole cowardly, deceitful business appears the more disgraceful, because our names were not mentioned in order that it might be denied that we had been meant! Now for the proof: In the Minutes (1879) mention is chiefly made of the absolute, infallible certainty of the elect concerning final perseverance in faith, and in this connection certain persons who deny this “certainty” are referred to, i.e. derided from start to finish. Such an absolute certainty I had denied in my letter, and Prof. S. in the July colloquium had first of all directed his attack upon this point. No one beside us had attacked Missouri respecting this matter, because Missouri had not come out in this way with its fanatical certainty till 1877. Missouri had [[@Page:794]]already been attacked by Iowa on account of the doctrine of absolute election, but not on account of this certainty. In this point Missouri had no declared “opponents” except ourselves. Could there then be any doubt as to Dr. W.’s having us in mind? Besides, on pp. 23, 24 and 53 it is clearly indicated that an attack on the Minutes of ‘77 is being repelled. This could mean no opposition excepting ours. On p. 72 we read: “Satan would gain entrance among us”; “among us,” one does not speak in this way of opponents from without! Again, the arguments that we had employed are considered in the Minutes and, in part, derided. We had directed attention to the many warnings of Holy Scripture which would have no sense if the elect were already absolutely certain of perseverance. The Minutes refer to this times innumerable; e. g. p. 97: “It is said, if each Christian should, according to God’s Word, work out his salvation with fear and trembling, he should work it out with the thought: You can, perhaps will, be lost, therefore strive earnestly, that you may not be damned; for everything depends on your working aright.” (Observe here the outrageous distortion! Here already Dr. W. manufactured the shaft, which the entire host with deafening clamour now hurls against us. You are synergists and Pelagians!) We had said that one must distinguish between a Christian’s certainty regarding his present state of grace and the certainty of future perseverance; the first is absolute and infallible, the latter conditional, a “joyful hope.” One becomes absolutely certain, at the moment of death, that he will not apostatize. In regard to this we read p. 73: “Our opponents say: Only in the hour of death can you be certain of this salvation.” (Of perseverance in salvation we say, of actual election; for we are already saved in hope, Rom. 8.24, and are absolutely certain of that also; but it is uncertain who will finally be found so remaining, as Dr. Luther says. Dr. W. emits this our distinction, and accuses us of saying: Only in the hour of death can you be certain of this salvation! And then he adds this fine sophistry:) “If we are to wait for the Lord each hour, then ought we to be ready each hour for death. But if I may not now be certain of my salvation, but only afterwards (!!), then those, who so teach, postpone till a distant time the coming of the Lord.” Can there be a more wicked, and at the same time a more stupid, perversion of an opponent’s [[@Page:795]]arguments, than this specimen from the Minutes of ‘77? The Jesuits alone in their butchery of some of Luther’s sentences, have perpetrated something similar. To prove that faith does not flow from election (when this word is employed in its narrowest sense), I pointed to the fact that the non-elect often possessed faith for a long time. As the circumstance, that unbelievers also receive the body and the blood of the Lord in the Holy Supper (v. 1 Cor. 11), incontrovertibly proves that the Lord’s body and blood are not received in a spiritual manner only, through faith (as Calvin would have it), since unbelievers do not have faith, so the circumstance, that the non-elect believe temporarily proves conclusively that faith does not flow from election, since temporary believers are not elected. This argument is touched upon on pp. 65 and 84, where, at the same time, one can see how Dr. W. evades the force of the argument. Both of us had appealed to Chemnitz’ Examen. On p. 54 we find the answer: “Even so Chemnitz, to whom some would appeal, regards the matter.” Shall I furnish more proofs that Dr. W. intended us? And yet he wanted to appear innocent in Chicago and insultingly appealed to the fact that on “this (his) side the mention of names had studiously been avoided.” Minutes, p. 106. Yes, truly, this, but only this, he had “studiously avoided,” avoided it there too, as we find p. 111: “He (Dr. W.) would not mention that person by name, in order not to uncover his shame”! What forbearance! What “Christian love”! He had already hurled his lance so often at Prof. Schmidt that every member of the conference knew whom he meant; but he did not mention “that person” by name! That sort of forbearance we had experienced in the Minutes of ‘79! Since I repeatedly directed attention to the fact that they had first made a public attack on us (p. 109 f.). Dr. W. said: “How little appeared there (Minutes of ‘79), that could be taken personally! only a little morsel, as it were the extreme tip of the finger, concerning which the speaker knew that the brother (I) had said it.” “Of course another person was more emphatically opposed in the Minutes, but most of the brethren, even in the Western District, did not know who was meant,” p. 111. There we have a confession from Dr. W. himself that he meant us — myself only slightly, more decidedly another person. The subterfuge that “most of the brethren” did not know who were [[@Page:796]]meant, affords him no help; for it is a ridiculously empty make-shift. When Dr. W. during the whole session of a synod attacks such well-described opponents, then, indeed, many would remain in ignorance as to who was meant! Three months previous, after the conclusion of the Synodical Conference, the colloquium in Columbus took place, and members of at least three different synods were among the auditors. No attempt at secrecy had been made. Could such a thing have been kept secret — Dr. W. attacked by a member of the Synodical Conference — could such a thing have been kept secret! Furthermore, it is only too well known that, in private circles, he spoke quite freely about other persons; I learned in the summer that he had spoken at a children’s festival in St. Louis concerning Schmidt’s opposition, and now, at the time of the synodical convention, only a few brethren knew to whom he had alluded! Dr. W. would have it appear that he hurled all those thunderbolts into the air! If it were true, the malicious procedure would still be only shame for him!
And now a few specimens of the way in which Dr. W. at that meeting “slightly” took notice of me, but more emphatically paid his respects to that “other person.” Some samples have already been exhibited: “Satan would gain entrance among us.” P. 72. “God has revealed to us a religion which shows how we can reach heaven; and here they come and remove one of the most important doctrines, a doctrine full of comfort, from the Holy Scriptures. Woe unto him that does this.” P. 52. “May the devil requite you.” P. 32. “And we miserable men would not believe that? We would say: it might displease God, if I should hope to be saved, therefore I will rather believe that I am going to hell, then I shall be a better Christian.” P. 69. “Then faith would be doubt, then it would not be said, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that doubteth and is baptized.” P. 73. “Delay the Lord’s coming until a distant time.” P. 73. “Paul says, if we had not this hope, we should be the most miserable of all creatures, and now they come to us and tell us: No; this hope you dare not have, everything may turn out otherwise.” P. 90. “According to our opponents we ought to believe that it is still an open question whether we will reach heaven or hell.” 91. “We should cling to the confession of hope; but this is a fine confession … when the world [[@Page:797]]asks me: Will you with your religion reach heaven? and I answer: That I do not know.” 95. “Whoever teaches me that I should doubt in this matter, immediately plunges me into despair; for he says: you must rest your hope on yourself.” P. 96. “They are blind Pharisees who speak so.” P. 111. “Perseverance is a fruit of the assistance which God furnishes the elect.… He whose honor is injured too much by that, may see to it how he will get to heaven.” P. 118. “This is nothing but the voice of the serpent.” P. 90. “It appears as though these were clear-headed men and humble spirits who speak in this way, but it only appears so.” P. 75. “These people want to rap us over the knuckles for having such a doctrine of election; but they have no doctrine of election at all.” P. 76. “The apostles were not such rationalists as they who think the certainty of election renders watchfulness unnecessary.” P. 104. “What a bad sign it is that our opponents have not only the papists as supporters of their doctrine, but also such a sly and crafty fellow as is this Bellarmin.” P. 101. (Perhaps the gentlemen do not know that the Jesuit Bellarmin was a Calvinist in the doctrine of election — of about the same stamp as themselves; he denied the foresight of faith, and denied that we know a cause why God elects some in preference to others. God indeed has a reason, but we do not know it. That is a familiar tune to-day. As regards certainty, he denied above all the certainty of the present state of grace, which we, as Dr. W. well enough knows, do not do; we, therefore, have nothing in common with the Jesuits, the St. Louis men hold that first point in common with them, and, in addition, the noble gift of meanly distorting an opponent’s words.) P. 101 we read: “Whoever, therefore, would believe God’s Word should come to us; he that would make the matter plausible to his reason, should resort to those who deny the certainty of election. But what will befall those who make God a liar!” Here already Dr. W. summons men to take sides!
That was the answer I received to my private letter and at the same time it was the continuation of the colloquium with Prof. Schmidt! How, now, is it possible for Dr. W. and his associates to accuse us of having disturbed the public peace, without having first sought in an orderly way to reach an agreement! We are the ones that sought to hold private negotiations [[@Page:798]]and Dr. W. broke them off and caused them to be postponed to so distant a time, so that he could in the meanwhile prepare and educate his own followers, and by means of the Minutes gain the entire Synod for his Calvinistic extravagance, and so abuse Prof. Schmidt’s name that afterwards he could accomplish nothing against Dr. W. As regards the first point, Dr. W. said already in Columbus: They would manage to turn till then all those in the Synod who sided with Prof. Schmidt; and they have turned them nearly all. Dr. W. is not troubled by a lack of means for convincing others! As regards the second point, the above extracts from the Minutes furnish enough testimony that he tried in every possible way to make our opposition malodorous. And before the Columbus disputation we learned here in Wisconsin that they were of the opinion in St. Louis that Schmidt had rendered himself an impossibility as a theological professor! Naturally, that was Dr. W.’s wish and object, which he pursued until Profs. Loy, Stellhorn and others openly gave testimony against Calvinism. From then on he turned against these, in order, if possible, to annihilate them also. But up to this time he had incessantly persecuted Prof. S. In Chicago he overwhelmed him with abuse and made the gravest direct accusations against him. Schmidt was present as an auditor; twice he asked for the floor, but it was not granted him.
Dr. W. was permitted to abuse and accuse, without furnishing any proof, without giving his opponent opportunity to reply. He employed the same cowardly and cunning method of warfare at the Synod of ‘79. He had broken off the colloquium, although it had been appointed nearly half a year before, so that he could arrange everything and have abundant time. But he would have had to furnish proofs there for his false doctrine before an opponent who understood how to distinguish true from specious proofs. The new doctrine was not yet naturalized and the disputation with Schmidt, if a thorough one, might prove disastrous to the new movement. Thus the important matter had to be delayed a whole year. Dr. W. had first of all to work up the Synod at the fall meeting, and in advance he wanted Schmidt to remain away. The proceedings of that convention obliged us to come out publicly against the error — not because we had to defend ourselves personally against Walther’s attacks, O no — but because it would [[@Page:799]]have been unprincipled to allow the false doctrine to have the field for so long a time. God’s Word wants error rebuked at once; in the case of error publicly proclaimed it does not prescribe preliminary private negotiations, because in the meantime the error could enjoy undisturbed and luxuriant growth. If we had immediately made an open attack, on the Minutes of ‘77, nobody could rightly have charged us with sin on that account. Since we did not do this, but first admonished the deceivers privately, even permitting ourselves to be put off a year longer, and since Dr. W. so evidently misused this our weakness, in order that he might once more contend for his error, disfigure our doctrine, distort and deride our proofs, render our persons suspicious and accuse us of heresy — we would have been not only unprincipled men, but must have been fools, if we had still continued silent. Paul at once rebuked the great apostle Peter publicly “before them all” (Gal. 2.12-14), when Peter had taught no false doctrine, but out of fear of men had abandoned a part of Christian freedom, and thus had only tacitly denied the pure doctrine! Dr. W. had openly promulgated a false doctrine, by which, according to our own firm conviction, and that of our whole Church, the Gospel in its deepest foundation had been attacked; he had postponed private negotiations and procured time for himself so that he might in advance publicly disgrace us. As soon as I had read the Minutes, it was my firm conviction that we must now answer publicly, and I was determined to do this, and announced the same on December 3 to Pres. Strasen — I did not as yet want to attack them unawares, but to give them time to yield. But — to think of such a thing in the case of Missouri! Grossly to pervert their former words, or simply to deny them shamelessly, of such degradation they are capable; but to confess honorably: we have erred — nobody need expect of Missouri. Moreover, Missouri was at that time so drunk with victory, that it scarcely feared an open attack — either that such an attack would be made, or if made that it would do them any harm. Had Pres. Strasen, who up to the time of the appearance of the Minutes had agreed with me, but had now suddenly “turned” and had most obediently and also suddenly announced this fact at headquarters — had he not likewise reported that the new Minutes did not overawe me? In the beginning of January I said to him again that I would write against the Minutes, and that I was already engaged in the [[@Page:800]]work. He now urgently begged me not to do this, but rather go to St. Louis and “deal with Walther,” yea, he finally offered to go with me. If he had taken orderly steps for the adjustment of the difficulty, I would have consented. But after Dr. W.’s mean and cowardly procedure at the meeting of Synod, to present myself before him in — humble submission, was as far from my mind as a visit to eternal Rome. If there had been only personal disputes, the matter would have been different. But one of the highest rights in the Church was at stake, the right of every Christian to protest against false doctrine and to be heard at leasts before judgment is pronounced. To Dr. W.’s great learning and eloquence I could oppose nothing except my plain testimony for the truth; standing against him I would be at disadvantage in a hundred different ways. That he was not satisfied with this preeminence, but had employed such violent measures, made me exceedingly indignant, and I was determined now to take the course which promised me the greatest success; namely, to reply publicly to the heresy that had been publicly promulgated and defended by craft and sophistry. When afterwards oral negotiations were undertaken, I was found in my place and refrained, during these negotiations as well as in my essays, from all insulting utterances; for I always entertained the hope that Dr. W. would yield. This has not occurred. How our opponents in Chicago and Fort Wayne, and since then, defended their cause, yes theirs — not God’s — to state this at length would require too much time and space. God willing, this shall yet be done, in order that unprejudiced people may obtain, at least in time to come, a just opinion of the present controversy. Surely, even though it be slowly, the Church in time always gains clear insight into the controversies through which it has passed. The confusion was so great at the time of the first crypto-Calvinistic controversies that the most sincere people did not, to a large extent, know who was right. But long before the end of the century everything was as clear as the sun, and the men who had been derided as wranglers and disturbers of the peace, who had been deposed and persecuted, stood forth gloriously justified. We cannot and will not set ourselves up as their equals; but we have learned from them that one need not despair of the victory of truth.
Here we have desired to prove only that we do not bear the guilt of the public outbreak of this controversy, but that the guilty [[@Page:801]]ones are Dr. W. and his devoted followers; he has tried to smuggle in the new doctrine, and when he was privately admonished by us, he replied publicly; only then did we follow him into publicity. What the condition of his conscience was, when in Chicago he cast the blame upon us, urged us to repentance, pointed” us to God’s judgment, we cannot conceive. In this connection I must correct an expression of Prof. Schwan’s (Minutes, p. 109). He says: “If Pastor Allwardt was so anxious for private negotiations, let him explain why he did not accept, but declined the opportunity offered to him and another person?” In this way these gentlemen always question the honesty of their opponents, and never take back their charges, but allow them to stand, if they find they cannot go on. I have already answered this satisfactorily: before the colloquium agreed upon between Dr. W. and Prof. S. Pres. Schwan had agreed with Pres. Furbringer that the latter should first deal with S. Pres. Schwan sent the letter referred to to me, because he did not know where S. was at the time; he remarked that if he wished, I too might go along and that I was hereby invited. Schmidt could not go, and so I would have had to go alone, which was evidently not the object of the invitation. At any rate, I could not have gone, since I was commissioned by Synod to make a trip to Minnesota and had to go as soon as I received notice of the appointed time. For this same reason I could not go to synodical conference, to which I had been elected and which would have been much more agreeable than the journey to Minnesota. On this account I am put down as a hypocrite, and this by the Reverend General President of Synod.
The same conviction that was awakened in me by the Minutes of ‘79 was awakened in Prof. Schmidt also; only a public testimony was now in place. While I wanted to publish only a single pamphlet and send it to all the pastors, he had decided upon, the publication of a periodical. The first number appeared, as is well known, in January, 1880, the fourth month after the disgraceful Synod of ‘79: from this all can judge for themselves what is to be thought of the statement, made with so much emphasis by the St. Louis men, that Schmidt, exasperated at the synodical convention held in May, 1878, began the controversy. [[@Page:802]]
Prof. S. had sent his paper to pastors and teachers only; he did not want to introduce the controversy into the congregations. Dr. W. answered in the “Lutheraner.” “That is a sharp move,” said some one at the time, who seemed to know the Doctor pretty well; “he now wants to work up the congregations rapidly.” Certainly! And how did he proceed! Not by stating and defending the points actually in dispute and the propositions attacked by us. He laid down entirely new theses, which for the most part were quite correct, whilst he touched on the matters in controversy so equivocally, that one could understand them either way. Now already Dr. W. came forward with the open untruth, that the controversy really turned on the question whether our salvation lies alone in God’s hand, or also in our own! As long as he succeeds in this deception, so long, but only so long, will he have the success about which alone he seems to be concerned. That the deception will finally come to naught, we do not doubt for a moment. Our contest is wearying, but not hopeless. May God the Lord have mercy on His Church, restore the erring and expose the wilful persecutors of the truth. Amen.
H. A. Allwardt.