Full Text for Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (Text)

' that is, the Christians of a certain locality must apply the means of grace not only privately and within the circle of their families nor merely in their common intercourse with fellow-Ohristians, John 5, 39; Eph. 6,6; Col. 3, 16, but they are also required, by the divine order, to make provision that the Word of God be publicly preached in their midst, and the Sacra- ments administered according to the institution of Christ, by persons qualified for such work, whose qualifications and official functions are exactly defined in Scripture, Titus 1, 5; Acts 14, 23; 20,28; 2 Tim. 2,2. 32. Although the office of the ministry is a divine ordinance, it possesses no other power than the power of the Word of God, 1 Pet. 4,11; that is to say, it is the duty of Christians to yield unconditional obedience to the office of the ministry whenever, and as long as, the minister proclaims to them the Word of God, Heb. 13, 17; Luke 10, 16. Ii, however, the minister, in his teachings and injunctions, were to go beyond the Word of God, it would be the duty of Christians, not to obey, but to disobey him, so as to remain faithful to Christ, Matt. 23,8. Accordingly, we reject the false doctrine ascribing to the office of the ministry the right to demand obedience and submission in matters which Christ has not commanded. 33. Regarding ordination we teach that it is not a divine, but a commendable ecclesiastical ordinance (Trig"lot, p. 525, § 70; M., p.342). Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position. 411 Of Church and State. 34. Although both Ohurch and State are ordinances of God, yet they must not be commingled. Ohurch and State have entirely dif- ferent aims. By the Ohurch, God would save men, for which reason the Ohurch is called the "mother" of believers, Gal. 4, 26. By the State, God would maintain external order among men, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty," 1 Tim. 2, 2. It follows that the means which Ohurch and State employ to gain their ends are entirely different. The Ohurch may not employ any other means than the preaching of the Word of God, John 8, 11; 18,36; 2 Oor. 10,4. The State, on the other hand, makes laws bearing on civil matters and is empowered to employ for their execution also the sword and other corporal punishments, Rom. 13, 4. Accordingly we condemn the policy of those who would have the power of the State employed "in the interest of the Ohurch" and who thus turn the Ohurch into a secular dominion; as also of those who, aiming to govern the State by the Word of God, seek to turn the State into a Ohurch. Of the Election of Grace. 35. By election of grace we mean this truth, that all those who by the grace of God alone, for' Ohrist's sake, through the means of grace, are brought to faith, are justified, sanctified, and preserved in faith here in time, that all these have already from eternity been endowed by God with faith, justification, sanctification, and preser- vation in faith, and this for the sante reason, namely, by grace alone, for Ohrist's sake, and by way of the means of grace. That this is the doctrine of Holy Scripture is evident from Eph. 1, 3-7; 2 Thess. 2,13. 14; Acts 13,48; Rom. 8,28-30; 2 Tim. 1, 9; Matt. 24,22-24 (cp. Form. of o one. Triglot, p.l065, §§ 5.8.23; M., p.705). 36. Accordingly we reject as an anti-Scriptural error the doctrine that not alone the grace of God and the merit of Ohrist are the cause of the election of grace, but that God has, in addition, found or re- garded something good in us which prompted or caused Him to elect us, this being variously designated as "good works," "right conduct," "'proper self-determination," "refraining from wilful resistance," etc. Nor does Holy Scripture know of an election ''by foreseen faith," "in view of faith," as though the faith of the elect were to be placed before their election; but according to Scripture the faith which the elect have in time belongs to the spiritual blessings with which God has endowed them by His eternal election. For Scripture teaches, Acts 13,48: "And as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed." Our Lutheran Oonfession also testifies (Triglot, p. 1065, § .8; M., p. 705): "The eternal election of God, however, not only foresees and foreknows the salvation of the elect, but is also, from the gracious 412 Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position. will and pleasure of God in Ohrist Jesus, a cause which procures, works, helps, and promotes our salvation and what pertains thereto; and upon this our salvation is so founded that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, :Matt. 16, 18, as is written John 10, 28 : 'Neither shall any man pluck :My sheep out of :My hand'; and again, Acts 13,48: 'And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.''' 37. But as earnestly as we maintain that there is an election of grace, or a predestination to salvation, so decidedly do we teach, on the other hand, that there is no election of wrath, or predestination to damnation. Scripture plainly reveals the truth that the love of God for the world of lost sinners is universal, that is, that it embraces all men without exception, that Ohrist has fully reconciled all men unto God, and that God earnestly desires to bring all men to faith, to preserve them therein, and thus to save them, as Scripture testifies, 1 Tim. 2, 4: "God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." No man is lost because God had predesti- nated him to eternal damnation. - Eternal election is a cause why the elect are brought to faith in time, Acts 13,48; but eternal election is not a cause why men remain unbelievers when they hear the Word of God. The reason assigned by Scripture for this sad fact is that these men judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life, putting the Word of God from them and obstinately resisting the Holy Ghost, whose earnest will it is to bring also them to repentance and faith by means of the Word, Acts 13,46; 7,51; :Matt. 23, 37. 38. To be sure, it is necessary to observe the Scriptural distinction between the election of grace and the universal will of grace. This universal gracious will of God embraces all men, but the election of grace does not embrace all, but only a definite number, whom "God hath from the beginning chosen to salvation," 2 Thess. 2, 13, "the remnant," "the seed" which "God left," Rom. 9,27-29, "the election," Rom. 11,7; and while the universal will of grace is frustrated in the case of most men, :Matt. 22, 14; Luke 7, 30, the election of grace attains its end with all whom it embraces, Rom. 8,28-30. Scripture, however, while distinguishing between the universal will of grace and the election of grace does not place the two in opposition to each other. On the contrary, it teaches that the grace dealing with those who are lost is altogether earnest and fully efficacious for conversion. Blind reason indeed declares these two truths to be contradictory; but we impose silence on our reason. The seeming disharmony will disappear in the light of heaven, 1 Oor. 13, 12. 39. Furthermore, by election of grace, Scripture does not mean that one part of God's counsel of salvation according to which He will receive into heaven those who persevere in faith unto the end, but, on .the contrary, Scripture means this, that God, before the foundation Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position. 413 of the world, from pure grace, because of the redemption of Ohrist, has chosen for His own a definite number of persons out of the COr- rupt mass and has determined to bring them, through Word and Sacrament, to faith and salvation. 40. Ohristians can and should be assured of their eternal election. This is evident from the fact that Scripture addresses them as the chosen ones and comforts them with their election, Eph. 1,4; 2 Thess. 2,13. This assurance of one's personal election, however, springs only from faith in the Gospel, from the assurance that God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever be- lieveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; on the con- trary, through the life, suffering, and death of His Son He fully reconciled the whole world of sinners unto Himself. Faith in this truth leaves no room for the fear that God might still harbor thoughts of wrath and damnation concerning us. Scripture inculcates that in Rom. 8,32. 33: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things ~ Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Luther's pastoral advice is therefore in accord with Scrip- ture: "Gaze upon the wounds of Ohrist and the blood shed for you; there predestination will shine forth" (St. Louis Ed., II, 181; on Gen. 26,9). That the Ohristian obtains the personal assurance of his eternal election in this way is taught also by our Lutheran Oonfes- sions (Triglot, p. 1071, § 26; M., p. 709): "Of this we should not judge according to our reason nor according to the I,aw or from any external appearance. Neither should we attempt to investigate the secret, con- cealed abyss of divine predestination, but should give heed to the revealed will of God. For He has made known unto us the mystery of His will and made it manifest through Ghrist that it might be preached, Eph. 1, 9 ff.; 2 Tim. 1, 9 f." - In order to insure the proper method of viewing eternal election and the Ohristian's assurance of it, the Lutheran Oonfessions set forth at length the principle that elec- tion is not to be considered "in a bare manner (nude), as though God only held a muster, thus: 'This one shall be saved, that one shall be damned'" (Triglot, p. 1065, § 9; M., p. 706); but "the Scriptures teach this doctrine in no other way than to direct us thereby to the Word, Eph. 1, 13; 1 001'. 7, 7; exhort to repentance, 2 Tim. 3, 16; urge to godliness, Eph. 1, 14; John 15, 3; . strengthen faith and assure us of our salvation, Eph. 1, 13; John 10, 27 f.; 2 Thess. 2, 13 f." (Triglot, p. 1067, § 12; M., p. 707). - To sum up, just as God in time draws the Ohristians unto Himself through the Gospel, so He has already in His eternal election endowed them with "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," 2 Thess. 2, 13. Therefore: If, by the grace of God, you believe in the Gospel of the forgiveness of your sins for 414 Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position. Ohrist's sake, you are to be certain that you also belong to the number of God's elect, even as Scripture, 2 Thess. 2, 13, addresses the believing Thessalonians as the chosen of God and gives thanks to God for their election. Of Sunday. 41. We teach that in the New Testament, God has abrogated the Sabbath and all the holy-days prescribed for the Ohurch of the Old . Oovenant, so that neither "the keeping of the Sabbath nor of any other day" nor the observance of at least one specific day of the seven days of the week is ordained or commanded by God, 001. 2, 16; Rom. 14, 5 (Triglot, p. 91, §§ 51-60; M., p. 66). The observance of Sunday and other church festivals is an or- dinance of the Ohurch, made by virtue of Ohristian liberty (Triglot, p. 91, §§ 51-53. 60; M., p. 66; Triglot, p. 603, §§ 83. 85. 89; M., p. 401). Hence Ohristians should not regard such ordinances as ordained by God and binding upon the conscience, 001. 2, 16; Gal. 4, 10. However, for the sake of Ohristian love and peace they should willingly observe -them, Rom. 14, 13; 1 Oor. 14,40 (Triglot, p. 91, §§ 53-56; M., p. 67). Of the Millennium. 42. With the Augsburg Oonfession (Art. XVII) we reject every type of Millennialism, or Ohiliasm, the opinions that Ohrist will return visibly to this earth a thousand years before the end of the world and establish a dominion of the Ohurch over the world; or that before the end of the world the Ohurch is to enjoy a season of special prosperity; or that before the general resurrection on Judgment Day a number of departed Ohristians or martyrs are to be raised again to reign in glory in this world; or that before the end of the world a universal conversion of the Jewish nation (of Israel according to the flesh) will take place. Over against this, Scripture clearly teaches, and we teach accord- ingly, that the kingdom of Ohrist on earth will remain under the cross until the end of the world, Acts 14, 22; John 16, 33; 18,36; Luke 9, 23; 14,27; 17, 20-37; 2 Tim. 4, 18; Heb. 12,28; Luke 18, 8; that the second visible coming of the Lord will be His final advent, His coming to judge the quick and the dead, Matt. 24, 29. 30; 25, 31; 2 Tim. 4, 1; 2 Thess. 2, 8; Heb. 9,26; that there will be but one resur- rection of the dead, John 5, 28; 6, 39. 40; that the time of the Last Day is, and will remain, unknown, Matt. 24,42; 25, 13; Mark 13, 32.37; Acts 1, 7, which would not be the case if the Last Day were to come a thousand years after the beginning of a millennium; and that there will be no general conversion, a conversion en masse, of the Jewish nation, Rom. 11,7; 2 Oor. 3, 14; Rom. 11,25; 1 Thess. 2,16. Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position. 415 According to these clear passages of Scripture we reject the whole of Millennialism, since it not only contradicts Scripture, but also engenders a false conception of the kingdom of Christ, turns the hope of Christians upon earthly goals, 1 Cor. 15,19; Col. 3, 2, and leads them to look upon the Bible as an obscure book. Of the Antichrist. 43. As to the Antichrist we teach that the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2, 3-12; 1 John 2,18, have been fulfilled in the Pope of Rome and his dominion. All the features of the Antichrist as drawn in these prophecies, including the most abominable and horrible ones, for example, that the Antichrist uas God sitteth in the temple of God," 2 Thess. 2, 4; that he anathe- matizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man (Rom. 3, 20-28; Gal. 2, 16); that he recognizes only those as members of the Chris- tian Church who bow to his authority; and that, like a deluge, he had inundated the whole Church with his antichristian doctrines till God revealed him through the Reformation, - these very features are the outstanding characteristics of the Papacy (cf. Triglot, p.515, §§ 39-41; p.401, § 45; M., pp. 336. 258). Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Oonfessions that the Pope is "the very Antichrist" (Triglot, p. 475, § 10; M., p. 308). Of Open Questions. 44. Those questions in the domain of Chril:;tian doctrine may be termed open questions which Scripture answers either not at all or not clearly. Since neither individuals nor the Church as a whole are permitted to develop or augment the Christian doctrine, but are rather ordered and commanded by God to continue in the doctrine of the apostles, 2 Thess. 2, 15; Acts 2,42, open questions must remain open questions. - Not to be included in the number of open questions are the following: the doctrine of the Church and the Ministry, of Sunday, of Chiliasm, and of Antichrist, these doctrines being clearly defined in Scripture. Of the Symbols of the Lutheran Church. 45. We accept as our confessions allthe symbols contained in the Book of Concord of the year 1580. - The symbols of the Lutheran Church are not a rule of faith beyond, and supplementary to, Scrip- ture, but a confession of the doctrines of Scripture over against those who deny these doctrines. 46. Since the Christian Church cannot make doctrines, but can and should simply profess the doctrine revealed in Holy Scripture, the 416 D. 13'. lSente illS :tl)eofog. doctrinal decisions of the symbols are binding upon the conscience not because our Church has made them nor because they are the outcome of doctrinal controversies, but only because they are the doctrinal decisions of Holy Scripture itself. 47. Those desiring to be admitted into the public ministry of the Lutheran Church pledge themselves to teach according to the symbols not "in so far as," but "beiJause," the symbols agree with Scripture. He who is unable to accept as Scriptural the doctrines set forth in the Lutheran symbols and their rejection of the corresponding errors must not be admitted into the ministry of the Lutheran Church. 48. The confessional obligation covers all doctrines, not only those that are treated ex proiesso, but also those that are merely introduced in support of other doctrines. The obligation does not extend to historical statements, "purely exegetical questions," and other matters not belonging to the doc- trinal content of the symbols. All doctrines of the symbols are based Qn clear statements of Scripture . • • I D. g:. ~ente aHl ~ijeurug. "S\)er ~einge @eif± iff rein @5fe,)J±ifu£l; er qat nidjt einen ungetuiffen 518aqn in unfer ~era gefdjrieoen, fonbern eine friiftige, grof3e @etuif3~ qei±, bie un£l nidjt tuanten raf3t, unb, tuiIT'£l @ott, nidjt tuirb un£l toanren laWen, fonbem, ®o±± 200, fo getoif3 madjt, al£l getoif3 toir finb, baf3 toir jetunb natildidj Ieoen obet atuei unb brei flinf Hnb." 1) SDicfc!$ oefann±e 5180rt 2utqer£l au£l Wner @5djrift De Servo Arbitrio, bie tuir lieoer nadj ber, tuenn audj mangel~aften, fo bodj in gefdjicHer ).ffieife 2u±qer£l pacfenbe @5pradje treffenben iioerfetung bon ;JuftU£l ;Jona£l geoen, feten tuir an bie @5pite einer ruraen 518lirbigung unfer£l am 15. SDeaemoer 1930 qeimgegangenen ~oIIegen D. ~riebridj )Sente, ber fo lange ;Ja~re bie !Rebaftion£lgefdjiifte unferer ,,2eqre unb 518eqre" oeforg± qat. S\)ertn gerabe biefe£l Q3etouf3±fein, biefe ®etuif3qei±, leote in bem ~eraen biefe£l grof3en :itqeologen, unb aIIe feine ~eroffen±ridjungen oringen biefe @e~ toij3qeit in feqr oeftimmter meife aum m:u£lbrucf. Q3en±e tuar eoen ein @5djrifttqeolog, unb bie aofolu±e m:u±oritiit ber bon ®oft eingegeoenen irrtum£lIofen @5djrif± beig± fidj in feiner ganaen :itqeologie. linb au~ gleidj tuar er ein lu±qerifdjer Q3etennini£l±qeolog, ber 2utqer unb namentridj bie Iu±qerifdjen Q3etenntni£lfdjrif±en ftubiert unb gefann± qat, tuie bie£l feIten qeu±au±age ber ~aII ift unb bem jetigen ®efdjledj± redjt ag ~oroHb borgefteIIt toerben barf. linb tuenn er in feinen @5djriften 1) D. mllrtin \lutljers 6treitigfeit mit ~rllsmo ffiotterobllmo bom freien lffiillen betrefferiiJe, 5llnno 1525. lffiiirtficl)et unb forgfiiftig fonigietier 5llbbtucr bom DriginllL miHlJllufee, lffiiS. 6. 16. 6t. \louifer 5llusg. XVIII, 1680.