BLTC Press Titles

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The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

First Free Lutheran Diet in America, Philadelphia, December 27-28, 1877

by Henry Eyster Jacobs


The Diet proceeded to the discussion of Dr. Krauth's paper.

Rev. D. P. Rosenmiller (General Synod) said that the relation of the Lutheran Church to other denominations who hold the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, should be one of kindness and charity. They are the different branches of the same family of the living God. The name Lutheran, applied to our Church, was an accident, resulting partly from its enemies. The original name was Evangelical; for it was no new organization, but the Church separated from the errors of the Papacy. Even the Augsburg Confession came into existence accidentally. Had there been no indictment brought by the Papal Court, against the friends of evangelical religion, there would have been no occasion for the Confession. In that case, the Bible would have been our only Confession. For the main point with Luther was to give the Church the Word of God as her guide; and hence all who hold it sincerely, without gross heterodoxy, should receive charity from us.

REMARKS OF REV. C. W. SCHAEFFER, D. D. (General Council.)

The relations of Lutherans to the members of the denominations around, as far as these relations are personal or social, ought to be kindly, and controlled by Christian principles. But when these relations enter into the sphere of the Church, and influence the Confession of Christian doctrine, then the first and highest aim of Lutherans should be to maintain the pure doctrine of the Word, as expressed in the Confessions.

The doctrine of the Sacraments comes up so often that I would if I could, avoid it now. But it affords such a good illustration of my meaning that I venture to introduce it.

The doctrine of the denominations around us is to the effect, that the chief element, the distinguishing characteristic of the Lord's Supper, is a mere human act, a devout exercise on the part of communicants, in which they bring to the table a grateful remembrance of Christ, and by eating and drinking show forth His death. If this, which of course is true, were the whole truth, then the Lutheran Church ought to, and without doubt, would, most heartily and devoutly, unite in the Holy Supper, with all evangelical denominations, with all who love the Lord; since in respect to a grateful remembrance of Christ and a devout showing forth of His death, there can be no difference between those who believe in Him and love Him.

But the Lutheran Church receives from the divine Word, and repeats in her Confessions, a very different doctrine, to the effect, that the Lord's Supper is first of all a divine act, that the Lord Himself is the chief actor, that its distinguishing characteristic consists of what the Lord gives us, and we only receive; that what He gives us is, as He Himself says, His body and His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and that what He thus gives us in the bread and wine, is not given and cannot be received in any other place or time or way, than at the Supper of the Lord.

Now this is denied by the denominations around us. Some state their denial in one form, some in another. Yet though differing among themselves, they all agree in a decided and positive denial of the doctrine of the Lutheran Church.

Supposing then that the Lutheran Church is bound to maintain not human opinions, but what it accepts as the doctrine of the divine Word, how can Lutherans unite, in celebrating the Lord's Supper, with denominations that ignore and deny what the divine Word declares is the distinguishing feature and controlling element of the Supper itself? Such an act would be an acknowledgment, on their part, that the nature and the doctrine of the Holy Supper is a matter of no consequence, and that we reach the full measure of it when we observe it as a mere mnemonic act of our own. Irl declining such communion, Lutherans do not deny or question the evangelical character of denominations around them; they seek only to testify their fidelity to the doctrine of the Word.

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