A TESTIMONY AGAINST THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION RECENTLY INTRODUCED BY THE MISSOURI SYNOD.
On the 11th of October, 1881, the Revs. H. Ernst, J. H. Doermann, H. P. Duborg, C. H. Rohe, P. H. Holtermann, and A. H. Wetzel, who, together with others, had left the Missouri Synod on account of its false doctrine of predestination, issued a “call”, “inviting all pastors and teachers who had left the Missouri Synod on account of its new false doctrine, and who were located in northwestern Indiana, in Wisconsin, in Illinois, or south or west thereof, to assemble on the 16th of November, 1881, in the congregation of Rev. H. P. Duborg at Blue Island, Ills., for the purpose of discussing and forming an organization (which, as was presumed, would unite with the Ohio Synod as a separate district). All congregations holding the same faith with us, in a situation similar to our own, and lying within the territory described, are likewise requested and invited to send accredited representatives to this meeting.”
As a result of this call the following persons assembled: —
H. A. Allwardt of Lebanon, Dodge Co., Wis.
J. H. Doermann of Yorkville, Kendall Co., Ills.
H. P. Duborg of Blue Island, Cook Co., Ills.
H. Eisenbach of New Douglas, Madison Co., Ills.
H. Ernst of Michigan City, Ind.
H. Fisher of Maple Works, Clark Co., Wis.
P. H. Holtermann of Mount Olive. Macoupin Co., Wis.
G. Mochel of Shelbyville. Ills.
C. F. Seitz of Columbia City, Ind.
A. H. Wetzel.
J. H. Meyer of Blue Island, Cook Co., Ills.
Baumann of Michigan City, Ind. [[@Page:572]]
DELEGATES OF CONGREGATIONS.
Jno. C. Niemann and
H. Prange from the congregation at Mount Olive, Ills.
H. Baier from the congregation at Yorkville, Ills.
H. W. Rinker from a small congregation which had separated from the Missouri congregation in Hebron.
The following were present as guests: Students of theology G. W. Nicol, F. H. Patzer, vicars of Rev. Duborg, and the Messrs. Gottfr. Kircher, H. A. Reiner, Stofifel, R. Boe, and Rohe. Rev. J. M. Johannes of Ephraim, Door Co., Wis., sent in a written request for membership for himself and for his congregation.
Besides this a number of letters from pastors and laymen were sent in, heartily favoring the purpose of the meeting. Revs. Rohe and Lange in Michigan and P. F. Eirich in Hoboken, N. J., who had also left the Missouri Synod or had been expelled, being outside of the territory described, did not attend the meeting.
The Conference was opened by Rev. Duborg on the 16th of November, at 1:30 P. M., by the singing of hymn 136 and the reading of the first section of the 119th Psalm. Rev. Doermann was then chosen permanent chairman of the meeting. Rev. Wetzel secretary, and Rev. Mochel chaplain.
It was resolved that the Conference continue its sessions, if necessary, until Tuesday evening, and that the sessions be held from 8:30 till 11:30 A. M., and from 2 till 5 P. M.
The chairman hereupon made a brief address. He stated, that the faith of the heart will certainly find it necessary to show itself in a confession of the lips, according to the word of David: I believe, therefore I speak; and according to Christ: Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father in heaven; and according to Paul: With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Moreover, it is certain that we cannot define our position in the present condition of affairs too often or too precisely, since our opponents use every means to make it appear as though we had turned from the Word of God and from the Confession. Nevertheless, at present it seems advisable to postpone our doctrinal discussion until the formation of a synodical organization, according to the call that was sent out, has been discussed. Nearly all present were agreed to this proposition. Several congregations had sent representatives for this very purpose, and a number [[@Page:573]]of letters encouraged the project most heartily. But over against this it was stated, that the time between the issuing of the call and the meeting of the Conference was too short to admit of bringing the matter before the congregations in the proper manner. Then too, after all the calumniations and misrepresentations of our doctrine at the hands of our opponents, it certainly behooves us to state clearly and precisely what we teach concerning God’s eternal election, and what we reject in the doctrine of our opponents, so that our fellow Christians can themselves know whether we or our opponents have forsaken the pure doctrine. The discussion of a synodical constitution would require so much time, that we would hardly be able to begin the discussion of doctrine. It was thereupon unanimously resolved: —
That we postpone the definite organization of a synod until the spring of 1882, so that the entire time of the present meeting may be devoted to doctrinal discussion.
All present were also agreed that the organization to be formed should properly unite with the Ohio Synod, since this Synod had been in fellowship with the Missouri Synod for years, and is thus one with us in all other doctrines, and since this Synod has now also remained true to the Lutheran Confession in the doctrine of predestination, while Missouri has become untrue to the Confession.
The entire time of the Conference was thus devoted to doctrinal discussion, from Thursday morning until Tuesday noon, nine sessions in all. Those present found themselves in perfect agreement with each other. During the course of the discussion the Revs. Holtermann and Mochel were chosen as assistant secretaries, and the final editing of the minutes was placed in the hands of the Revs. Ernst and Allwardt, who also furnished the theses for the discussion. Rev. Allwardt was requested to add to the minutes, in the form of an appendix, a sketch of the former doctrine of Missouri on predestination and a brief history of the present controversy.