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American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente


75. Harbors Reformed Views on Lord's Supper. -- The charges against David Henkel as to his teaching the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation, referred to above, had been lodged with Pastor Shober, then secretary of the North Carolina Synod. When David Henkel complained that his accusers were not named, Shober, who had never forsaken his Moravian views, wrote him a letter, dated October 20, 1818, which at the same time reveals that, as to the Lord's Supper, his were the views of the Reformed. For here we read: |Your very long epistle, proving that Christ is with His body every where present, is excellent on paper, but not so in the pulpit, where seven-eighths of the hearers will gaze at the profound erudition and one-eighth of such as reason will shake heads at a thing to be believed, but not explainable, and to none will it effect conviction of the necessity of spiritual regeneration and of adopting Him as their God and Savior crucified.| |I must assure you that creditable people of our Church and the Reformed have not only heard you advance that whosoever is baptized and partakes of the Supper wants no other and further repentance, but also that whosoever teaches other doctrine, he is a false teacher. This, my dear sir, is making people secure in forms and not in realities. How easy is it to go to heaven, for an adulterous heart to be absolved by Mr. Henkel, and as a seal to receive from Mr. Henkel the Sacrament, who by his few words made bread body and wine blood -- and such a holy divine body, without limitation of space, as is compelled to enter into all substances and beings, whether they will or not, so that a Belial, when he receives it, must thereby be made an heir of heaven. No, no, I cannot believe in such theories, and as I told you once at my home when you returned from Virginia and asked me on that subject, so I think yet, and say that when Mr. Henkel consecrates bread and wine, it is the body and blood of our Savior to such with whom He can unite; but to those who are not of pure heart and yet partake, and that with reverence, the spirituality of the true essence does not unite with their souls; they eat bread and wine, for they have not such a faith, love, and humility as enables them to possess the divine essence. And those that partake without reverence, light-minded, and during the ceremony disdain the simplicity of the institution, mock and deride it, they bring judgment upon themselves for eating and drinking the consecrated elements, but not for partaking [the] body and blood of Jesus, for they have not partaken thereof. God and Belial cannot unite. Do, pray, reflect deeply on the subject, and assure to all peace in heart, and those of contrite spirit that the Lord in the Sacrament will unite with them spiritually and seal their heavenly inheritance. But invite them all to come and partake that revere the Savior as God, and assure them that, if they approach with reverence, it may be made the means of viewing the condescending love of God ready to unite with them, and their own depravity, which will or may make them cry, and, if pure in heart, obtain mercy.|

76. Slandering David Henkel. -- What the Henkels, as early as 1809, had taught on the Lord's Supper, appears from a pamphlet published in that year at New Market, in the printery of Henkel. Here we read as follows: |But Paul teaches us that the bread which we break in the Lord's Supper is the communion of the body of Christ, and the cup of blessing with which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ. If our bread and wine has communion with the body and blood of Christ, then it also must be what our dear Lord Himself calls it in the institution: His body and His blood.| (680.) This genuinely Lutheran doctrine it was that also David Henkel had been preaching, and which his opponents who charged him with Roman aberrations called transubstantiation, impanation, or consubstantiation. And true to his Reformed traditions, Shober continued in his endeavors to slander David Henkel as a Crypto-Papist. This compelled Henkel to make the following explanation in 1827: |The ministry of the North Carolina Synod are charged with denying the most important doctrine of the Lutheran Church, and have been requested to come to a reciprocal trial, which they have obstinately refused. . . . Those ministers, as it plainly appears, entertain a strong personal prejudice against me, and have asserted many charges with respect to my personal conduct, as well as with respect to my doctrines. What shall I say? Have I not heretofore offered them a reciprocal trial, even as it respects personal conduct? Why did they not accede to it? They are truly injuring their own reputation when they speak many evil things of me, in order to render me ridiculous, and an object of persecution, and yet are unwilling to confront me and prove their accusations by legal testimony. . . . I wish a reciprocal forgiveness. But as it respects the difference with respect to doctrines, it is necessary to be discussed, as that respects the Lutheran community. Mr. Shober has most confidently charged me with teaching 'that if a man only is baptized and partakes of the Lord's Supper, [he] is safe; and that I call those enthusiasts and bigots who insist upon further repentance and conversion.' Again he charges me with openly supporting the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation, and of forgiving sins like the papists pretend to do. Now I positively deny these charges as being true, and if Mr. Shober does not confront me and prove these charges by a legal testimony or testimonies, what can I otherwise, agreeably to the truth, call him but a calumniator, or one who bears false witness against his neighbor? I do not believe that any man in the United States (or, at least, I have never heard of any) teaches that, if a person only is baptized and receives the Lord's Supper, [he] is safe exclusive of repentance. What a puerile conduct some men manifest in trying to prove that the doctrine with which Mr. Shober has charged me is erroneous, when no man nor class of men contend for it! They are all the while fighting their own shadows. If the reader will take the trouble to read my book entitled, 'Answer to Mr. Joseph Moore, the Methodist; with a Few Fragments on the Doctrine of Justification,' he may readily see whether I maintain the doctrines with which I am charged, or whether I deny regeneration and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Again, as little as I believe the doctrine of transubstantiation, so little do I believe that of consubstantiation. A perusal of the book just now mentioned will also satisfy the reader on this subject.| (Tenn. Rep.1827, 48.)

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