Wednesday, July 9, 2008

1938-1954

An interesting starting point in this whole discussion would be the summer 1955 because that is when things really get interesting. The WELS has been admonishing the LC-MS for many years by this point and things were coming to a head.

However, at that convention, the Standing Committee in Matters of Church Union (Committee No. 2) had some historical notes outlining the years from 1938-1954. In order to gain some understanding of what the delegates were facing that summer, we need some historical perspective.

The following is taken directly from the Proceedings of Thirty-third Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States Held at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Michigan, August 10-17, 1955 (pg. 82-84)

Historical Notes Prepared by Committee No. 2 in
Conjunction with its Report to the Convention


1938 - Missouri's St. Louis Resolutions join its Brief Statement with the A.L.C.'s Doctrinal Declaration as a joint settlement of past differences. A.L.C.'s Sandusky Resolutions view the Brief Statement "in the light of" their own Doctrinal Declaration.

1939 - In 1939 the Wisconsin Synod adopted the following: "Not two statements should be issued as a basis for agreement; a single joint statement, covering the contested doctrines thetically and antithetically and accepted by both parties of the controversy, is imperative; and, furthermore, such doctrinal statement must be made in clear and unequivocal terms which do not require laborious additional explanations." Proceedings 1939, page 60.

Also: "Under existing conditions further negotiations for establishing church fellowship would involve a denial of the truth and would cause confusion and disturbance in the Church and ought therefore be suspended for the time being." Proceedings 1939, page 61.

1941 - Missouri's Ft. Wayne convention instructs its Committee on Doctrinal Unity to prepare a single document of agreement with the A.L.C.

Missouri begins joint work with the A.L.C. in relief of missions and establishment of service centers.

Wisconsin Synod unanimously adopted the following resolution concerning the military chaplaincy: "The commissioning of Army and Navy chaplains by our Synod would conflict with Scriptural principles and established Lutheran practice," Proceedings 1941, page 77.

1943 - Wisconsin memorialized the Missouri Synod to halt its negotiations with A.L.C. because of hte false basis underlying those negotiations.

1944 - Missouri and A.L.C. publish a single document, the Doctrinal Affirmation.

Missouri abandons its former position on Scouting.

1947 - A.L.C.'s commissioners issue a "Friendly Invitation" to renew negotiations, contending for an allowable and wholesome latitude of theological opinion on the basis of the teachings of the Word of God."

Wisconsin adopts its theses on Scouting. 1947 Proceedings, page 106ff.

1949 - The Wisconsin Synod addressed six questions to the Missouri Synod (Lutheran Men of America, Cooperation with Welfare Agencies, Cooperation with the National Lutheran Council, first Bad Boll, the booklet "Scouting in the Lutheran Church," applicability of Romans 16:17 to all errorists, whether Lutheran or not).

It also stated: "With deep concern we note that the ties which have united us particularly with the Synod of Missouri are being loosened." (1949 proceedings, page 117.)

1950 - Missouri and the A.L.C. adopt the Common Confession.

1951 - Concerning Missouri's reply to our letter of 1949 our synod stated: "The reply of the Praesidium of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is in part conditional, in part incomplete, and sometimes evasive." (1951 Proceedings, page 145.)

Wisconsin rejects the Common Confession as "inadequate" and creating "a basically untruthful situation" and requested the Missouri Synod to repudiate its stand that the Common Confession is a settlement of the doctrines treated by the two committees.

It furthermore stated: "That we further inform the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod through our President that, if the appropriate action in the matter treated in this report is not forthcoming, at least through the Praesidium of that body, we shall feel constrained to carry the issue to the Synodical Conference at its next regular convention." (1951 Proceedings, page 148.)

1952 - At the Synodical Conference session at St. Paul, Minnesota the delegates of our Wisconsin Synod declared themselves in a state of confession because they felt that the issues had not been met at all.

1953 - No favorable action was taken by the Missouri Synod at tits meetings in Houston, Texas on the request of our Synod.

At the sessions of our Wisconsin Synod the following was adopted:

"1. That we declare that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

a. by affirming its acceptance of the Common Confession as a "settlement of past differences which are in fact not settled" (Proceedings 1951, page 146), and

b. by its persistent adherence to its unionistic practices (the Common Confession, joint prayer, scouting, chaplaincy, commnunion agreement with the National Lutheran Council, cooperation with unorthodox church bodies in matters clearly not in the field of externals: negotiating with lodges and Boy Scouts of America with the plea that this gives the opportunity to bear witness, under the same plea taking part in unionistic religious programs and in the activities of unionistic federations; negotiating for purposes of union with a church body whose official position that it is neither possible nor necessary to agree in all matters of doctrine and which contends for an allowable and wholesome latitude of theological opinion on the basis of the teaching of the Word of God), has brought about the present break in relations that is now threatening the existence of the Synodical Conference and the continuance of our affiliation with the sister Synod.

"2. That we herewith approve the Protest agreed upon by our representatives immediately following the St. Paul convention of the Synodical Conference, 1952.

"3. That we prevail upon the President of the Synodical Conference to arrange a program for the convention in 1954 that would devote all its sessions to a thorough consideration of our declaration in Point 1 and of the doctrinal issues involved." (1953 Proceedings, pages 104-105.)

1954 - Printed testimony distributed by both Wisconsin and Missouri synods.

Doctrinal discussions held at Synodical Conference meetings at Detroit and Chicago.