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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Edward C. Fendt's report of a "breakthrough", a "coming out"

This is a continuation of my previous post regarding Edward C. Fendt.  In a November post, I quoted Dr. Fendt's report of a speech made by Prof. Theodore Graebner before a conference of "opponent" Lutheran church bodies.  I am repeating that quote here because of it's significance in church history.  In prior years, Graebner had denounced unionism in several articles and publications.  But at this meeting Graebner was to make an emotional announcement.  Here is the quote again from pages 26 - 27 of Fendt's book Struggle for Lutheran Unity [PNG]:
     But the real “breakthrough” in Dr. Graebner’s change in attitude toward other Lutherans was observed at the Philadelphia meeting of this conference (joint faculty meetings which started at Valparaiso) several years later. In a session when Dr. Elmer Flack of Hamma presided, Dr. Graebner asked for the floor to make a statement. I wish somebody had taken down the statement, but all of us were intent to listen carefully; the statement in essence was:
“All of you know how active I have been in keeping my church suspicious and hostile with respect to developments in other Lutheran churches. I want you to know that I regret many things I have written and said. I have learned to respect and trust many Lutheran brethren in other synods. From now on I shall devote the rest of my life, the few years that may remain to me, to rectify matters and plead with my brethren in the Missouri Synod to follow my example.”
     At times his voice halted and tears came into his eyes while making this statement. All of us in the meeting were stunned, not exactly surprised, but lacking words to express our appreciation. I remember seeing Elmer Flack’s tears roll down on his face and temporarily he was immobilized. But after a bit he arose and without saying a word he stepped over to shake Dr. Graebner’s hand and embrace him. Then I remembered Dr. Greever’s prediction (watch Graebner for changes) and thanked God with the others at the meeting for Dr. Graebner’s statement.
This "breakthrough" speech remarkably resembles what is now referred to as a "coming out".  Let the reader review this elsewhere. Graebner argued to the end of his life that he had not changed.  If that is so, then he could be called a "closet" unionist.
  • Why were the "opponents" so careful to listen to Graebner so intently?  You could have heard a pin drop as Professor Graebner was given the floor. 
  • Why was Graebner's voice halting... why the tears?
  • Why were the "opponents" not surprised at Graebner's announcement?
Dear God, the Missouri Synod had become the Graebner Synod! Satan was loosed to attack not only those in the LC-MS, but also those in the sister WELS and ELS synods who faced the hot breath of modern Missouri.  How much damage was done to the faith of Christians as doubt about their beliefs spread! Even my own faith was shaken by modern Missouri's aberrations. How hard the faithful leaders, pastors, and laymen had to fight for the truth against an onslaught of attacks.  How much heartache was caused among those previously thought to be brethren in the faith!

And what about the "opponent" Lutheran church bodies?  Graebner's actions gave aid and comfort to those in error, those who denied the unsurpassed Grace of God!  The shifting sands they stood on were practically washed away!  They virtually lost all footing in the truth of the Bible.

Dear God, have mercy on us!  Send faithful leaders, teachers and pastors like Pieper, Walther and Luther to us again! In the mean time, may we be guided by their writings - the writings which so faithfully follow the Lutheran Confessions.

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