Monday, June 19, 2017

1959 Important Events Surrounding A Call for Decision

The outline below was taken from P.F. Nolting's letter to WELS President O.J. Naumann. In this letter, Nolting goes into great detail regarding the events surrounding the A Call for Decision memorial at the 1959 WELS convention in Saginaw, MI.

February 8, 1959
A Call for Decision was sent to the proper officials with 30 signers.
It was acknowledged as recieved.

May 1959 - General Synodic Committee meetings
No one bothered to inquire about the memorial or point out any error in it.

Conference of Presidents were not going to print the memorial in the book of reports available for the members of the GSC. This was averted by President Siegler.

August 1959 - Saginaw Convention

  • Wednesday, August 5 - A meeting was arranged between the signers and the Standing Union Committee with the Floor Committee sitting in.
    • Purpose seemed to be to convince the signers of A Call for Decision that there was no difference between our proposition and the "Lawrenz" proposition, hoping they would withdraw their memorial.
    • Result was to refer the memorial to the Floor Committee on Church Union.
  • Thursday, August 6
    • 1:00 pm - Signers met with Floor Committee on Church Union.
      • Signers were lectured by Chairman Nitz on the propriety of our obtaining additional signatures to the memorial.
      • Atmosphere was that the signers were being politely listened to but that their argumentation was not being heard or perceived.
      • They were unable to get the Floor Committee to understand the point of difference between the "Lawrenz" proposition and their position.
    • 2:15 pm
      • Signers were dismissed.
      • Committee resolved to recommend to the President that a special committee be appointed to consider the memorial.
  • Friday, August 7 - President Naumann appointed the Protest Committee to appoint a committee of five to sit in on our memorial.
    • The Protest Committee was the very group that was most directly involved in this whole matter to begin with.
    • They would be the people that chose the committee to sit in judgment of A Call for Decision.
  • Saturday, August 8 - Names of Committee #23 were announced.
  • Monday, August 10 - Committee #23 started their work.
    • 10:30 am
      • Chairman Franzmann said to the signers that his committee was not interested in the procedure used in distributing the memorial nor in the language used in it.
      • The signers were able to get the committee to see that there was a difference between their principle for terminating fellowship and the principle that the Synod was following in line with "The Report to the Protest Committee."
  • Tuesday, August 11
    • Evening
      • Report of Committee #23 was brought up for discussion for one hour. No action was taken.
      • President Naumann used his position in the chair to reject the proposal of Pastor Buenger that a temporary moratorium be declared in regard to the discussions with Missouri and that the same time and energy be used to heal the breech in our own midst.
  • Wednesday, August 12
    • Morning
      • Committee #23 came to the floor again.
      • President Naumann asked Second Vice President Krause to take the chair.
      • Professor Lawrenz was given 25-30 minutes to refute A Call for Decision.
      • First Vice President Habeck came in with a lengthy prepared written substitute motion. It was made and seconded. A motion for referral followed and debate was cut off.
      • The signers were not given an opportunity to rebutt Prof. Lawrenz.
    • Evening
      • Committee #23 came back to the floor with a completely changed report.
      • They abandoned their own report in favor of the substitute offered by President Habeck.
      • This second report did not refer to the statement of fact that there is a difference in principles between the Synod position and the signers position in the matter of terminating fellowship.
      • The committee asked the convention to disavow our "charges" on both counts with no attempt to prove from Scripture or history that they were wrong. The report finally called for the case to be studied.

1959 E. Schaller resignation

On October 23, 1959, Pastor E. Schaller wrote to Minnesota District President Lenz and resigned his membership from the WELS.

E. Schaller resignation, October 23, 1959

Quotes of note:

"Confronted with these facts, I see no course by which I can escape the judgment of being 'partaker of other men's sins', other than to suspend fellowship relations with the Synod that has been my life-time association. It would be unwarranted on my part to repeat, as a member of Synod, the admonition and exhortation which the Synod has so roundly condemned."

1959 - E. Schaller to District President Lenz

This letter is in reply to the WELS Minnesota District President Lenz' general letter to his district's membership. In that letter, President Lenz wrote:

"Should anyone not agree with the resolutions of Synod and, as a result, feel compelled to sever his bonds of fellowship, we especially plead that he first make his position clear to the District President and consult with him."

E. Schaller replied, "... It is far from my desire or purpose to leave the fellowship of the Synod. The Synod, on the other hand, has withdrawn from me by open and determined adherence that which I recognize as a false principle of termination of church fellowship and by persisting in the exercise of fellowship relations with a church body that continues despite admonition to cause divisions and offenses in the Church."

"When the original report of Floor Committee No. 23 was set aside by as coarse, as brutal a parliamentary maneuver as I have ever witnessed on a convention floor, when all debate on the true issue was thus effectively cut off, when the Floor committee was somehow induced to defer to the opinions, and, I might add, to the prejudices of the Standing Committee on Church Union, thus violating without warning the undertaking which the Floor Committee had given to the signers of the memorial under consideration, I heard and saw no sign to indicate that my District President spoke in my defense or protested the violence done to the earnest pursuit of the Truth."

E. Schaller to District President Lenz, September 7, 1959

1959 - Letter from P.F. Nolting to Oscar J. Naumann

This letter was written by Pastor P.F. Nolting in October of 1959, two months after the WELS convention in Saginaw, MI. This letter is also a reply to WELS President Naumann's general letter to the synod.

It does paint a very interesting picture of the events during the 1959 WELS convention from the point of view of the signers of the "A Call for Decision" memorial.

P.F. Nolting letter to O.J. Naumann, October 17, 1959

Quotes of note:

"Pastor R. Reim reminded our Delegate Conference last June that our testimony over against the Synod was contained in our memorial[A Call for Decision], but not a whisper of either reproach or commendation was forthcoming. But now there is an uproar in our area and elsewhere because of our memorial. If we erred in doctrine or manner of expression, certainly it should have been called to our attention long before Saginaw."

"A pastor from Dakota put it quite well when he said, 'The Synod seems to have more concern for its cousins than for its own brethren.'"

"Despite all that has happened and despite the fact also that I sometimes express myself forcefully, and at times I freely confess unwisely, I assure you that I bear neither you, President Naumann, or anyone else involved ill will. Nor do I harbor any bitterness against you or anyone in my heart. The matter is much too serious for such pettiness. What is involved is the loss of the Truth that has now made our beloved Synod a heterodox Lutheran Church. What saddens me even more than the Saginaw Convention is the pitiable manhandling of the Romans 16, 17 text in the frantic effort to justify Synod's disobedience of that passage."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1961 - Concerning Church Fellowship (CLC document)

In 1961, the men who formed the newly created Church of the Lutheran Confession wrote a public statement to clearly articulate their views on church fellowship and practice in thesis and antithesis form.

Concerning Church Fellowship: A Statement of Principle

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Essay - The ELS Background of the CLC

Now don't go thinking that I've forgotten about the ELS as a part of the Synodical Conference. I haven't. It's just that I hardly have any documents from that synod at all so if you have some you'd like to share I'd be happy to post them.

I don't know who wrote the following essay but it was most likely written by a CLC man some time after 1968.

The ELS Background of the CLC

Quotes of note:
"While relations were suspended with the LC-MS, no direct action was taken to withdraw from the SC. But there were indications in the suspension resolution that this was intended in the near future."

"The ELS position of long standing has been this, very briefly, that when a person or church body with whom we are in fellowship causes divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned, we mark them immediately, then admonish, and if this proves fruitless, avoid them."

1961 Committee No. 2 Report - WELS

Finally, enough WELS members were convinced that discussions with the LC-MS were at in impasse and they were able to terminate fellowship because a majority voted for it.

Committee No. 2 Report, 1961 WELS Proceedings, p. 197-199

Quotes of note:
"WHEREAS, Our admonitions have largely gone unheeded, and the issues have remained unsolved..."

"WHEREAS, The Commission... reports that differences... have brought us to an impasse..."

"WHEREAS, ... we see no avenue leading to the removal of the difference in regard to church fellowship principles..."

"Resolved, a) That we now suspend fellowship ... on the basis of Romans 16:17,18..."

Is it not interesting that the WELS charged the LC-MS with divisions and offenses way back in 1955? The justification for suspending fellowship at this point in 1961 is because a majority believed that discussions were at an impasse.