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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : UNIONISM IN THE ASCENDENCY.

American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente

UNIONISM IN THE ASCENDENCY.

61. Seeking Refuge with the Reformed. -- In their struggle against Rationalism and the English language the German Lutherans of Pennsylvania sought help in an alliance with the German Reformed and the Moravians. Fellowship between them became increasingly intimate. |Luther and Zwingli,| they boasted harmoniously, |opened the eyes of the world!| |After all,| they kept on saying, |there is but one faith, one Baptism, one Supper, no matter how much the Lutheran and Reformed views on it may be at variance.| (539.) One of the objects of the German Evangelical Magazine evidently was to bring about a more intimate union between all German Evangelical bodies. For this reason it was not called |Lutheran,| but |Evangelical.| The preface to the first volume declared: |Our undertaking would be greatly furthered if the brethren of other communions would beautify it with their pious contributions, and also solicit subscriptions. The brethren of the Moravian Unity have expressed their satisfaction with this imperfect work, and assured us of their abiding love in this point.| (544.) In view of the celebration of the Reformation Jubilee, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, at York, June 2, 1817, resolved that the German Reformed, Moravian, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches be invited by our President to take part with us in the festival of the Reformation. In the following year the unionistic and rationalistic Agenda characterized above was adopted by the Ministerium. A committee was also appointed to confer with the German Reformed, and to devise plans for utilizing Franklin College as a theological seminary, in order to prepare ministers for both denominations. In 1819, at Lancaster, Pa., Synod again considered the proposition of founding a joint seminary at Lancaster, and appropriated the sum of [USD]100 for this purpose on condition that the Reformed Synod set aside an equal amount. A committee was also appointed to confer with a similar committee of the Reformed, and to draw up the necessary plans for the seminary. During this time, especially in the period of 1817 to 1825, prominent men of the Pennsylvania Synod considered and advocated plans for an organic |general union of our Church in this country with the Evangelical Reformed Church.| (685.) The Pennsylvania minutes of 1822 contain a notice according to which Endress and W. A. Muhlenberg were among the chief advocates of this movement. Many, especially in the Pennsylvania and North Carolina synods, regarded and zealously urged the union of all Lutheran synods in a General Synod as a step in this direction, viz., union with the Reformed. Graebner says: |When all the Lutherans had been organized into one general body, and had grown accustomed to marching together, one might also hope to experience that when the command for the greater union would be given, the entire Lutheran people, now freed from Lutheranism, would march in stately procession to the goal of Schober's Morning Star [union of all Evangelical churches]. This was evidently the policy and ulterior object when, at Harrisburg, 1818, the Pennsylvania Synod resolved that 'the officers of Synod be a standing correspondence committee to bring about, if possible, a union with the other Lutheran synods.'| (685.) Viewed in its historical context (the favorable deliberations and resolutions on the union seminary, the union hymn-book, etc.), this resolution admits of no other interpretation. When, therefore, the organization of the General Synod seemed, in the opinion of many, to interfere with and threaten the projected union with the Reformed, the Pennsylvania Synod promptly withdrew from this body, in 1823. Says Jacobs: |The form of the opposition [to the General Synod] was that the General Synod interfered with the plans that had been projected for a closer union with the Reformed, and the establishment of a Lutheran-Reformed theological seminary. Congregations in Lehigh County petitioned the synod, for this reason, to 'return to the old order of things'; and the synod, in the spirit of charity [?] toward its congregations, in order that nothing might interrupt the mutual fraternal love that subsisted between the brethren, consented, by a vote of seventy-two to nine, to desert the child which it had brought into being.| (361.)

62. Union Reformation Jubilee of 1817. -- At York, June 2, 1817, the Pennsylvania Synod resolved to celebrate the tercentenary of the Reformation together with the Reformed, the Episcopalians, etc. Invitations were extended accordingly. In his answer of October 14, 1817, Bishop William White of the Episcopal Church wrote to Pastor Lochman, expressing his delight at the prospect of taking part in the prospective celebration. He said: |I received the letter with which you honored me, dated July 23, 1817. In answer I take occasion to inform you that it will give me great satisfaction to join with the reverend ministers and with the whole body of the Lutheran Church, in this city, on the day appointed, in returning thanks to Almighty God for the beginning of the blessed Reformation in the three-hundredth year preceding, and in raising up for that purpose the great and good man who has transmitted to your Church his name, and whose praise is in all the churches of the Reformation. This occasion must, of course, be the more welcome to me on account of the agreement in doctrine which has always been considered as subsisting between the Lutheran churches and the Church of England, the mother of that of which I am a minister.| (Jacobs, 356.) In his sermon at Frederick, Md., D. F. Schaeffer declared that it is noteworthy that both Luther and Calvin |were agreed on all points, with the exception of one which was of minor importance.| The congregation sang according to the tune of |Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern|: |One hundred years, thrice told this day, By heavenly grace truth's radiant ray Beamed through the Reformation; Yea, glorious as Aurora's light Dispels the gloomy mists of night, Dawn'd on the world salvation. Luther! Zwingli! Joined with Calvin! From error's sin The church to free Restored religious liberty.| In Yorktown a German cantata was sung from which we quote, according to the original, as follows: |Chor: Heute vor dreihundert Jahr, Strahlte Licht aus Gottesthron, Durch die Reformation. Luther, Deutschlands hoechste Zier, Stund der Kirche Jesu fuer. Solo: Aber welch ein Widerstand! Solo: Luther war mit Gott verwandt. Duetto: Seiner Lehre heller Schein, Drang in tausend Herzen ein, Drang in tausend Herzen ein. Pause: Zwingel kam Und Calvin, Traten auf in Christi Sinn; Duetto: Und verbreiten Licht und Heil Segensvoll in ihrem Teil. Ganzer Chor: Millionen feiern heut', Dankbar froh' im hoeh'ren Ton, Dieses Fest dem Menschensohn.| (G., 665.)

63. Reformed and Lutheran Minutes on Lancaster Seminary. -- From 1817 to 1825 the Synod of Pennsylvania and the German Reformed Church were engaged in devising plans and adopting measures looking to the establishment of a united theological seminary for the education of the ministers of both the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. According to the minutes of the two bodies the respective actions taken were as follows: Minutes of the German Reformed Synod, 1817: |The committee on the founding of a literary institution reported further, recommending that two committees be appointed, consisting of three persons each, the one to confer with a committee of the New York Synod [Dutch Reformed] and the other with the Lutheran Synod. Resolved, That the Rev. Messrs. Pomp and Saml. Helffenstein be the committee to the New York Synod, and the Rev. Messrs. Hendel, Hoffmeier, and Wack, Sr., the committee to the Lutheran Synod.| (11.) Minutes of Pennsylvania Synod, 1818: |At this point, Revs. H. Hoffmeier, E. Wack, and W. Hendel appeared before the synod as a committee from the Reformed Synod of this State, and presented the following communication in writing, namely: An extract from the minutes of the Reformed Synod held at York, September 9, 1817. Mr. Hoffmeier having explained this whole subject more particularly to Synod, it was thereupon resolved, That a committee be appointed to confer with our esteemed brethren of the Reformed Synod in respect to the subject under consideration. The Messrs. J. George Schmucker, Conrad Jaeger, and H. A. Muhlenberg were named as this committee.| |The committee appointed yesterday to confer with the committee of the Reformed Synod, and to make inquiry as to the way in which a union seminary for the education of young men for the ministerial office in both churches could be best established, presented the following report: '1. That they have attended to the duty assigned them, and have had under consideration the fact that in the city of Lancaster there is an institution already in existence, known by the name of Franklin College. ...2. That the committee greatly regret that this institution has hitherto been neglected, and consequently the object to which it was originally devoted by the State has altogether failed of attainment.3. That the committee has examined the charter of said institution with care, and finds it necessary to recommend that the president thereof be instructed to make arrangements for holding a meeting of all its trustees.4. That Messrs. Hoffmeier and Endress see to it that such a meeting be held.5. That a committee be appointed by both synods, who shall conjointly prepare a plan setting forth how this institution can be best adapted to the accomplishment of the purpose aforementioned.' The above report was received with general favor, and Messrs. Schmucker, Lochman, Geissenhainer, Sr., Endress, and Muhlenberg were appointed the committee provided for in section five of the report.| (7.8.) Minutes of German Reformed Synod, 1818: |The committee which was appointed to confer with a committee of the Lutheran Synod in reference to the founding of a theological school reported that they attended the Lutheran Synod of last year, and were received in a very fraternal manner; and that that Synod has appointed a committee to confer after the present meeting with a committee of the Reformed Synod on any subjects relating to the school, and to submit something definite; and they proposed that a similar committee be appointed. The proposition of the committee was accepted, and Revs. J. W. Hoffmeier, F. Herman, Sr., Wm. Hendel, Thos. Pomp, and S. Helffenstein were appointed such committee.| At the same meeting a committee which had been appointed to confer with a similar committee from the Reformed Dutch Church, in reference to uniting with it in establishing a theological seminary, reported, stating that, inasmuch as negotiations were in progress with reference to uniting with other Germans in Pennsylvania, who have a common interest in property voted to them by the State Legislature for the support of a German institution [at Lancaster], nothing definite could at present be done in the matter. (6.) Minutes of Pennsylvania Synod, 1819: |Pastor Endress made a verbal report in behalf of the committee appointed the previous year to confer with a committee of the Reformed Synod in regard to the matter of Franklin College in Lancaster. Resolved, That the sum of [USD]100 be appropriated out of our synodical treasury toward the support of the college in Lancaster, provided the same be done by the Reformed Synod. Resolved, That a committee be appointed on our part who shall, at the next meeting of the Reformed Synod in Lancaster, in conjunction with a committee from this latter body, draw up a plan for a theological seminary. Resolved, That the Pastors Schmucker, Endress, Lochman, Muhlenberg, and Ernst constitute said committee. Resolved, That, through Mr. Endress, fifty copies of the minutes of synod of this year be forwarded to the Reformed Synod, shortly to convene at Lancaster.| (15.) Minutes of Reformed Synod, 1819: |Proposed and resolved that a committee of five be appointed to confer with a committee of the Lutheran Synod in reference to the founding of a union theological institution, with authority to devise the plan necessary for the purpose. The committee consists of Revs. Hoffmeier, Hendel, Pomp, Becker, and Saml. Helffenstein.| |The committee of the Lutheran and Reformed Synods to consider the matter relating to a theological seminary have prepared a plan for this purpose, and carefully examined the same, and found that such a theological seminary would be not only exceedingly useful for our youth preparing for the ministerial office, but also can easily be established. The committee, therefore, submit this plan to the Rev. Synod, and, at the same time, request the Rev. Synod to have the plan printed, in order that it may be circulated among the members of both synods, to afford each one an opportunity to examine it carefully for himself, because the time for this purpose is at present too short. The committee of the Rev. Lutheran Synod proposes to pay half the expenses of printing, and recommended that two hundred copies thereof be printed.| |It was proposed and resolved, that fifty copies of the proceedings of the present Synod be transmitted to the Rev. Lutheran Synod as an evidence of our gratitude and mutual respect.| (7.19.) Minutes of Pennsylvania Synod, Lancaster, May 28, 1820: |The president of synod made a verbal report in behalf of the committee that had been appointed, in conjunction with a committee of the Reformed Synod, last September at Lancaster to draw up and publish a plan for a union seminary. From this report it appears that the members of our committee were not all present; that the joint committee did actually prepare a plan; that the printing of the same was entrusted to Revs. Endress and Hoffmeier, but that this duty was not attended to. Dr. Endress arose and made a long speech in defense of himself, referring to a number of local reasons and certain misunderstandings that influenced him to omit the publication of the plan. To this it was replied that the reasons given by him were not altogether satisfactory. Candidate Schnee arose and gave synod an account of an institution located at Middletown, Pa., known as 'The Fry's Orphans' Home.' He awakened the joyful hope that by the blessing of the Lord it might be possible at some future time to establish at that place a theological seminary for the Lutheran Church in this country. Dr. Lochman arose and made a powerful speech in favor of establishment of a theological seminary, and of supporting the college at Lancaster. Resolved, That a committee be appointed to attend the meeting of the Reformed Synod shortly to be held at Hagerstown; that Revs. D. F. Schaeffer and B. Kurtz constitute said committee.| (19.20.) Minutes of Pennsylvania Synod, Chambersburg, 1821: |Revs. Hoffman and Rahausen, deputies of the German Reformed Synod, took seats as advisory members. Resolved, That Rev. Mr. Denny, pastor of the Presbyterian church at Chambersburg, be acknowledged as an advisory member of this synodical assembly. The committee to examine the protocol of the German Reformed General Synod reported that they examined said protocol, and found the following items which may require to be considered at this meeting: 1. That Messrs. Schaeffer and Kurtz, appointed as our delegates to the Reformed Synod at our last year's meeting, were received as advisory members by the Reformed Synod. Resolved, That this Synod sees in this action evidence of the love of those whom we acknowledge as brethren, and that it is prepared always, as heretofore, to reciprocate this kindness.2. That Revs. Hoffman and Rahausen were appointed delegates by the Reformed Synod to attend our present synodical meeting. Resolved, That Pastors Muhlenberg and Knoske attend the next meeting of the Reformed Synod at Reading as delegates from this Synod.| (6.16 f.) In 1820 the Pennsylvania Synod entered upon its wild scheme to found a seminary at Frederick, Md., with Dr. Milledoller as professor, with [USD]2,000 salary. This stopped all other negotiations for the time being. Dr. Milledoller held the call under consideration two years, and then declined. He went to New Brunswick immediately after that, and Col. Rutger's money went with him to that place, which, it was understood, would go to whatever place Dr. Milledoller would go. (Lutheran Observer, Sept., 1881.) The fact that nothing tangible resulted from the movement of uniting the Lutheran and Reformed synods and of establishing a union seminary was not due in the least to a growing confessionalism on the part of the Pennsylvania Synod, for at that time such was not in evidence anywhere.

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