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.,
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
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
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 .
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