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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : THE NORTH CAROLINA SYNOD.

American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente

THE NORTH CAROLINA SYNOD.

70. Unionistic from the Beginning. -- Most of the Germans in North Carolina came from Pennsylvania. In 1771 the congregation at Salisbury (which was in existence as early as 1768, and soon thereafter erected a church), together with the congregations in Rowan Co. and in Mecklenburg Co., sent a delegation to England, Holland, and Germany, asking for assistance. The result was that Pastor A. Ruessmann, who died in 1794, and Teacher J. G. Arends (Ahrends), who soon officiated as pastor, were sent in 1773. In 1787 Pastor Chr. E. Bernhardt arrived, followed by C. A. G. Stork (Storch) in 1788, and A. Roschen, who returned to Germany in 1800. But it was not genuine Lutheranism which was cultivated by these German emissaries. Many of the books coming from Helmstedt were of a rationalistic character. Also the North Carolina Catechism (|Nordkarolingischer Katechismus . . ., entworfen von Johann Kaspar Velthusen, Doktor und ordentlichem Lehrer der Theologie, erstem Prediger in Helmstedt und Generalsuperintendent|) savored of rationalism. The confessional and doctrinal degeneration of the pastors in North Carolina appears from, and is attested by, the fact that in his ordination, in 1794, R. J. Miller was pledged to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Episcopalians. The Synod of North Carolina experienced a rapid growth, receiving 19 congregations into membership in 1813. According to the Report of 1815, twenty lay delegates were present at the meeting of that year. In 1823, after the separation of the Tennessee Synod, the North Carolina Synod reported 19 ministers with about 1,360 communicants. Its first convention had been held in Salisbury, May 2, 1803. Besides the lay delegates, this meeting was attended by Pastor Arends, Miller, Stork, and Paul Henkel. From the very beginning the Articles of Synod made no mention of the Lutheran Confessions. At the meeting of 1804 a Reformed minister delivered the sermon. In 1810 a resolution was passed permitting every pastor to administer communion to those of another faith. It was furthermore resolved: |Whereas it is evident that awakenings occur in our day by means of preaching for three consecutive days, and whereas this is to be desired among our brethren in the faith, it was resolved, on motion of Mr. Philip Henkel, to make a trial in all our churches next spring.| In the same year the North Carolina Synod ordered the ordination of the Moravian G. Shober (Schober). The minutes of 1815 record the following: |Since the church council of a newly built Reformed church in Guilford County expressly desires that our next synod be held in their church, it was resolved that synod shall be held in said church on the third Sunday in October, 1816.| As in the other Lutheran bodies of that time, pulpit- and altar-fellowship, Reformed teaching, and Methodistic enthusiasm became increasingly rampant in Synod. In 1817 Synod declared that it would continue to bear the Lutheran name, and became demonstrative over the Reformation tercentenary. The same convention, however, passed a resolution with regard to the joint hymn-book published by Schaeffer and Maund in Baltimore, as follows: |We hereby tender the aforementioned gentlemen our heartiest thanks, and rejoice that we are able to accede fully to the aforementioned recommendations for its use both at church and in private among all our congregations. At the same time we humbly petition the God of love and unity to crown it with blessings in His kingdom and temple. It was also resolved that the English Agenda which Quitman had introduced in New York |be adopted as one of our symbolical books, and as such be recommended for use.| (G., 647.)

71. Shober's Jubilee Book. -- In 1817 Synod also approved of, and resolved to publish, Shober's jubilee book, |A Comprehensive Account of the Rise and Progress of the Blessed Reformation of the Christian Church by Doctor Martin Luther, begun on the thirty-first of October, A. D.1517; interspersed with views of his character and doctrine, extracted from his book; and how the Church established by him arrived and progressed in North America, as also the Constitution and Rules of that Church, in North Carolina and adjoining States, as existing in October, 1817.| In the Preface, Shober gives utterance to the hope that all Protestant churches and their individual members would, by reading his book, be moved |to pray to God that He would awaken the spirit of love and union in all who believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and men, in order to attain the happy time prophesied, when we shall blissfully live as one flock under one Shepherd.| On page 208 ff. he says: |Why are we not all united in love and union? Why these distances, controversies, disputes, mutual condemnations, why these splittings of formulas? Why cannot the Church of Christ be one flock under one Shepherd? My friends, at the proper time the Lord will unite us all. Thank God, we see the morning star rising; the Union approaches, in Europe through Bible-societies, in America, too, through mission-societies, through the efforts of the rich and poor in sending out religious tracts, through the hundred thousand children who now learn to know their God and Savior in the Sunday-schools. Through frequent revivals and many other signs it becomes apparent that the earth will soon be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Among all classes of those who adore Jesus as God I see nothing of importance which could prevent a cordial union; and what a fortunate event would it be if all churches would unite and send delegates to a general convention of all denominations and there could settle down on Christ, the Rock, while at the same time each denomination would be permitted to retain its peculiar ways and forms. This would have the influence on all Christians that, wherever and whenever they met each other, they would love one another and keep fellowship with each other.| Synod declared: This book |will give to our fellow-Christians in other denominations a clear view of what the Lutheran Church really is.| Yet, in this jubilee-gift Shober practically denied the Lutheran doctrines of the Lord's Supper and of Absolution, and, as shown, enthusiastically advocated a universal union of all Christian denominations. Previously Shober had written: |I have carefully examined the doctrine of the Episcopal Church, have read many excellent writers of the Presbyterians, know the doctrine of the Methodists from their book Portraiture of Methodism, and am acquainted with the doctrine of the Baptists, as far as they receive and adore Jesus the Savior. Among all classes of those who adore Jesus as God, I find nothing of importance which could prevent a cordial union.| (647 f.682.)

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