Full Text for Church History 3 - Volume 51 - From Perry County to Missouri Synod (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CH3-051 PROFESSOR LAWRENCE RAST PROFESSOR WILL SCHUMACHER Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800-825-5234 ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***** >> JOSHUA: Now I see how the Saxon churches in Missouri survived their crisis after Stephan's failure. Now I want to ask about the connection between that crisis in Perry County and this church body we call the Missouri Synod. What happened to lead to the organization of the synod? >> DR. LAWRENCE RAST: Joshua, the publication of Der Lutheraner can't be underestimated. It alerted the various Lutherans in the Midwest, German extractions certainly, to the presence of one another as well as the confessional commitments that each had and which they found they shared. And that's really the key thing. These, as I mentioned somewhat earlier in the course, are Lutherans, Germans, from different parts of Germany with different backgrounds with different commitments with different histories. And they're scattered geographically throughout the Midwest. It takes some doing simply to get from one place to another. And so for them to find a way to approach one another would be the key. What's the basis for that? Well, Walther writes an editorial in the first issue of Der Lutheraner on what it means to be a Lutheran. And that literally is the catalyst for beginning the conversations. Wyneken reads it, is very much appreciative of Walther's perspective, and begins to seek ways to gather these groups together. After he has made this proposal, the groups actually are enabled to meet. The first meeting is held in September 1845 in Cleveland, just about a year after that article had been published. That gets together this group in its beginning forms as it prepares for ongoing conversations. A second meeting is held in St. Louis in the spring of 1846. At this meeting they begin to pound out a constitution, a basis for them working together both in terms of preserving their theological heritage as well as extending it. A third meeting occurs at Fort Wayne in July 1846. And here the proposed constitution is revised once more and the revisions are sent forward to the next meeting which will happen in April 1847. Again, we cannot underestimate what it takes to bring these folks together. They're scattered far and wide. And for them to make the effort, for them to make a commitment to one another without knowing one another personally well is really nothing short of remarkable. The group that gets together in Ohio in 1845 really sets the stage for a working relationship based on Scripture and the confessions as the fundamental source, namely, Scripture and the correct exposition thereof in the Book of Concord. When they get together in St. Louis later in 1846, there is greater opportunity for them to get to know one another. And finally, Fort Wayne as well. But some funny stories happen along the way. For example, just to give you a sense of how they have to build relationships before they can actually build a synod. When the meeting in Fort Wayne is being held in July 1846, the delegation from St. Louis comes by way of first, the Mississippi down to Carol, Illinois, then up the Ohio River to the area around Cincinnati where they catch the Miami and Erie Canal up through west western Ohio. In the western part of the State of Ohio, in the northern section, there is a little town called Junction. It's just a few houses today. Back in the 1840's, it was the junction of two canals: Miami and Erie and Wabash and Erie. At that point there was an inn, and as the St. Louis delegation was coming up the canal from the south, one of the members of the other delegation, August Cramer, observed from afar for the first time this particular delegation. He was having his first meeting with the bunch also. He noticed a man standing on top of the canal boat, thin and wearing a preacher�s coat. He wondered if that man might be a Methodist. It turned out to be C. F. W. Walther. These folks had to build relationships before they could build a synod. They did that. They did it within the context of scripture and the confessions. As they hammered out their different backgrounds, as they moved toward being one in one synod, these things were all carried out under the context of the Lord's work and scripture and the faithful confession thereof in the Lutheran confessions. Well, ultimately, they did come together. And as I mentioned before, on April 26th, 1847, these disparate Germans ignited into one, the Deutsche Evangelische Lutheranische Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten, the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States. Now why such a name? Well, in the first place, there was already an Ohio Synod. There were other synods that had been named geographically, as we have seen throughout this course. So why Missouri, Ohio, and other states? Well, for one thing, of the congregations that were present, the farthest west were to be found in Missouri. The farthest east were to be found in Ohio. And then there were other states represented as well. Interestingly enough, the majority of congregations came from Indiana. So why not an Indiana Synod? Well, there was already a Lutheran synod named the Indiana Synod that had been formed in 1835. So Missouri, Ohio, and other states. And very quickly that other states came to mean not just Midwestern states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, but beyond those boundaries, New York. And later on, California. And other states would even go on to include mission activities throughout the world, in India, Japan, and to the ends of the earth. When this group came together, they said very clearly, our reasons for forming this synod in the first place are in the example of the apostolic church in Acts, Chapter 15. But our purpose is the maintenance of the pure confession on the basis of scripture and the Lutheran confessions and the extension thereof. So from the beginning, we see in the Missouri Synod a close linkage, in fact an inseparable connection, between the doctrines of the scripture rightly preached and proclaimed both to the church and to the world. Sometimes today we hear about a difference of emphasis between doctrine and mission. One of the things we can learn from the founders of the Missouri Synod is that doctrine and mission are inseparably united. There are many more things we can say about the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. And we'll explore those topics over the remainder of this course. But at this point I want to leave you with this particular thought, Joshua: namely, what God brought together in the Missouri Synod is a remarkable set of individuals who were committed to two things: the unchanging word of God rightly confessed and a vigorous mission. In that, they remain a model for us today. ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *****