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Monday, July 20, 2015

Missouri Synod Theses- truly Lutheran congregation (in 1876)

      In researching the convention essays delivered during the lifetime of Walther and Pieper, I ran across a Der Lutheraner article publishing the following 28 Theses which struck me as sufficiently brief and yet thorough... and Lutheran.  I believe C.F.W. Walther had a hand in drafting these Theses although neither the article nor the subsequent district conventions positively identified the author.  They certainly deserve a re-publishing today as they are timeless for any congregation desiring to be truly Lutheran!

      Note of July 23, 2015: I just discovered These 4 and Theses 5 were discussted at the English Lutheran Conference of Missouri in November, 1884.  See the Convention Essays blog post for download -- 1884-English District-Theses IV, V...

Translated from Der Lutheraner, vol. 32 (1876), No. 11 (June 1), page 86 by BackToLuther July 20, 2015; basis for discussion at the Northwestern District in that year (1876), also in 1877, and 1879. C.F.W. Walther present in 1876 and 1877.
What are the characteristics of a well-founded truly Lutheran congregation, for which Lutheran preachers with their congregations therefore have to strive as their goal?
(To be submitted for this year's proceedings of our Northwestern District on July 12, and the following days.)
1. God's Word has the dominion in itself.
2. The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are also their confessions in truth.
3. It holds that the Lutheran Church is not the Church outside of which there is no salvation, but believes that God has his people everywhere; it is not schismatical.
4. It recognizes in Luther the Reformer of the Church called by God and highly regards his writings over all other human writings.
5. In it, above all, the Gospel or the doctrine of justification alone through faith prevails.
6. It has no favorite doctrine that it drives at the expense of the others, but respects each revealed doctrine in God's Word as a very precious treasure.
7. Their true members establish the certainty of their state of grace above all on the means of grace.
8. It recognizes the congregation of believers as the owner of all ecclesiastical power and therefore rejects all priestly rule and human servitude in matters of faith and conscience.
9. It sets the teaching about life.
10. It regards all arguing against God's Word, false doctrine as a dangerous soul poison.
11. It accepts  only those among its members which are by their confession one with her faith and from those they can by love accordingly assume that they are devout Christians.
12. It guards against all mingling of religions, as a thing that is against God.
13. It believes from the heart in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion, and therefore seeks to prevent anyone to enjoy Communion with her by their own judgment.
14. It practices church discipline ordered by God on its members in doctrine and life, but in an evangelical manner.
15. They present their children for baptism and care for them, as faithful children of God entrusted to her.
16. It proves to be a caring spiritual mother of her adolescent youth.
17. It holds high and holy the offices of householder, ministry, and government as God's foundations and regulations.
18. It insists firmly on its Christian freedom.
19. It prompts before all the works of the Ten Commandments and their occupation, and discards all self-chosen works and services.
20. It provides growth in knowledge over temporary excitement of religious feeling.
21. It can not fail to testify to the truth and resist the error.
22. It rejects all equality and mingling with the world.
23. It is filled with the spirit of the mission both inside and outside the Church.
24. It uses no wrong means for its good purposes.
25. It fosters fellowship with those who are of their faith.
26. It seeks after this, that all happens decently, honestly and orderly with it, both inside and outside the divine service.
27. She holds high God's gifts also in the realm of nature and the world and is a friend of all good arts and sciences.
28. It has not a changeable mind bent on seeking innovation.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 
      The doctrinal proceedings from the 1877 Northwestern District are of great interest for it covered Theses V.: on the Doctrine of Justification.  This convention had as its guests several representatives from the Wisconsin Synod: President Bading, Prof. Adolf Hoenecke, and Pastor... Franz Pieper! ... in 1877. — The Theses were only covered as far as No. 6 in convention, but this complete list should benefit all who would be members of a Lutheran congregation, not just in name but in spirit!
[NOTE: see the next post for an English translation of the full discussion of the 2 most important Theses]

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