- Book Editor of Professional and Academic Books at CPH
- Managing Editor, Luther's Works – American Edition, New Series
- author of the blog Lutheran Orthodoxy
Grabau was the leader of the Buffalo Synod in the 1840s through 1860s who held to errors in the doctrines of Church and Ministry. I quote the opening sentence from Mayes' essay:
This is not a story of good against evil, but of two justified sinners, each filled with anger at the other and often completely misunderstanding the other, due in part to their totally contrary experiences and fears.Mr. Mayes says that Walther was "filled with anger" at Grabau and "often completely misunderstood" Grabau. Strike 1 against Walther. Quite an honor for C.F.W. Walther!
In footnote # 3, Mayes says:
... Walther and the Missouri Synod advocated a kind of Lutheranism found in the Book of Concord, early Luther, earlier Lutheran Orthodoxy,...Early Luther? Not the later Luther? Mayes implies the Missouri Synod did not follow the later Luther on the doctrines of Church and Ministry. Strike 2 against Walther. (Modern theology loves to try to find inconsistencies in Luther.)
On page 248, Rev. Mayes makes the following point about "tension between two poles":
Both sides seemed to be grappling with how to coordinate the inherent power of God's word with the divine institution of the office of the holy ministry. These two facts, held in faith to be true by confessional Lutherans, have caused many to ask questions such as these: If the word is powerful by itself, what need is there for the office of the holy ministry? If God instituted the office to preach the word and administer the sacraments, are the word and sacraments administered by someone outside this office, and thus contrary to the order willed by God, able somehow still to do God's will by forgiving sins through the word and sacrament? These questions show the tension between the two poles of divinely-instituted office, and word and sacraments efficacious in themselves. The natural human tendency is to abolish one or the other. Both Grabau and the Missouri Saxons avoided this temptation, though they came up with differing answers of how to deal with the tension.Could it be that Rev. Mayes is one of those asking the questions about the office of the holy ministry?... and presenting them in such a way as to suggest that the Missouri Synod doctrine of the Ministry is somehow open to debate? Later he states:
Grabau and Walther: both sides in this 19th-century debate focused on "rights." This made the whole issue a power struggle and put pastors and people at odds with each other from the start. The best situation is when pastors teach their people aright, and the people have "ears to hear"; and when not just the pastor, and not just the voters' assembly, but rather only the theologically catechized Lutherans – pastors and people together – are making decisions for the good of the church.Walther's doctrine is focused on "rights" and his doctrine causes a "power struggle" between pastors and lay people. Strike 3 against Walther. (But isn't Walther's doctrine Biblical... from God?)
Now we see Rev. Mayes position with regards to Walther. Walther is to be put aside and used as a point of comparison... and maybe even questioned. Happy Bi-centennial, LC-MS! Have a wonderful celebration!
The next post Part 3 handles MacKenzie's essay Walther's Use of Luther.