Archive for the ‘1 Thessalonians 5’ Category

Judgment and Mercy, Part XII   1 comment

Above:  The Negev Desert

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Isaiah 61:1-11

Psalm 126

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:1-18

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Advent, in most lectionaries, begins with the Second Coming of Jesus and ends in a way that leads into the First Coming.  The Humes four-year lectionary follows that pattern.

The balance of divine judgment and mercy in these four readings is obvious.  In them judgment and mercy are like sides of a coin; one cannot have one without the other being present.  For example, in Isaiah 61, in the voice of Third Isaiah, divine mercy for exiles entails judgment of their oppressors.  The reading from 1 Thessalonians omits 5:15, unfortunately.

Make sure that people do not try to repay evil for evil; always aim at what is best for each other and for everyone.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

God reserves the right to repay evil with judgment.  Far be it from me to tell God when to judge and when to show mercy.

The lectionary’s turn toward the First Coming is especially obvious in John 1:1-18, the magnificent prologue to the Fourth Gospel.  According to this pericope, which emphasizes mercy (as the Johannine Gospel does), judgment is still present.  It is human judgment, though; those who reject the light of God condemn themselves.

That which we call divine wrath, judgment, and punishment is simply the consequences of our actions blowing back on us much of the time.  These can be occasions for repentance, followed by forgiveness and restoration.  Hellfire-and-damnation theology is at least as wrong as universalism; both are extreme positions.

As we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation, may we, trusting in God and walking with Jesus, recall these words (in the context of the Second Coming) from 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

…and may your spirit, life and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VENERABLE MATTHEW TALBOT, RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC IN DUBLIN, IRELAND

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY GIANELLI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI AND THE SISTERS OF MARY DELL’ORTO

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK LUCIAN HOSMER, U.S. UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SEATTLE, FIRST NATIONS CHIEF, WAR LEADER, AND DIPLOMAT

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-humes/

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Resisting Evil Without Joining Its Ranks, Part III   5 comments

Above:  Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Almighty God, who hast commanded us to love our enemies

and to do good to those who hate us;

grant that we may not be content with the affections of our friends

but may reach out in love to all thy children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 124

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Jeremiah 15:15-21

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Matthew 7:15-29

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The topic of revenge, covered in the previous post, is germane to this post.

The conclusion of 1 Thessalonians uses the word “peace” twice.  People are to live in peace with each other, and God is the God of peace.  Living in mutual peace encompasses both correction and encouragement, always in love.

See to it that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always aim at what is best for each other and for all.

–1 Thessalonians 5:15, The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is a far cry from

O LORD,…

Avenge me on those who persecute me;

Do not yield to your patience,….

–Jeremiah 15:15a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

I, having suffered far less than Jeremiah, know that feeling.  Yet the quest for revenge is a path to spiritual destruction.

May we, following Jesus and tapping into grace, overcome evil with good.  May we, in the process of resisting evil, not become evildoers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, FATHER OF CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY TO THE FAR EAST

THE FEAST OF NELSON MANDELA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, AND RENEWER OF SOCIETY

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Posted December 5, 2018 by neatnik2009 in 1 Thessalonians 5, Jeremiah 10-16, Matthew 7

Tagged with , ,

The Gestation of Hope   Leave a comment

Above:  The Annunciation, by El Greco

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN  THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning,

Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that, by patience, and comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast

the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Lord God, heavenly Father, we ask that you so rule and guide us by your Holy Spirit

that we may receive your holy word with our whole heart,

that through your word we may be sanctified,

and may learn to place all our trust and hope in Jesus Christ your Son,

and following him may be led safely through all evil,

until through your grace we come to everlasting life;

through the same Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 69

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Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 23

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Luke 1:26-35

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Psalm 23 is a familiar text.  One problem associated with familiar texts of the Bible is that one might not be as familiar with them as one imagines, so one might go into unfortunate autopilot mode.  In Psalm 23 the author (allegedly David), although surrounded by enemies, expresses confidence in divine protection.  The enemies cannot keep up; only divine goodness and steadfast love pursue the author.  They do not merely follow; no, they engage in hot pursuit.

The setting of Isaiah 11:1-10 was shortly after the fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel and a generation before the fall of the southern Kingdom of Judah.  Threats to the continued existence abounded and bad monarchs were the rule, not the exception.  The description of the ideal king put the actual monarchs of Judah to shame.  The majority of Davidic kings did not build up the realm; no, they tore it down.

St. Paul the Apostle, writing to the Thessalonian church circa 51 C.E., did so in the context of widespread expectations of the imminent second coming of Jesus.  Some of the faithful had already died, however.  St. Paul, in Chapter 4, comforted his audience by telling them that the faithful deceased would not miss the great event.  In Chapter 5 the Apostle to the Gentiles urged the members of that church to encourage and build each other up.  The imminent end of days was no excuse to slack off morally, he insisted.

As of the writing of this post we are still waiting the second coming.  St. Paul’s advice from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 remains current, however.

The presence of the reading from Luke 1 on the Second Sunday of Advent makes sense liturgically.  Its strongest connection, as best as I can tell, is to Isaiah 11:1-10, for Jesus is the ideal king.  He is not, however, a monarch in the sense of any human model–certainly not from the time of the Bible.  No, Jesus breaks the royal molds, as he should.  We read in John 6:14-15 that, after the Feeding of the 5000, Jesus withdrew to the hills by himself when he realized that a crowd wanted to declare him king in opposition to the Roman Empire.  No, the visions of Jesus as an ideal ruler put all earthly national leaders to shame.  Thus discussion of the Kingdom of God contains a strong element of social and political criticism of the status quo.

The Kingdom of God, which only God can usher into full reality, provides a lofty standard for the time being.  It is useful to remember that, as long as reality falls so far short of the ideal, that divine goodness and steadfast love continue to pursue the servants of God all the days of their lives and that enemies must look on as God sets a banquet table for the faithful.

Meanwhile, hope gestates.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS

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Leaving the World Better Than We Found It   1 comment

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD -- a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD —
a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

Above: The Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins,

and redeem us for your life of justice,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 18

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The Assigned Readings:

Nehemiah 9:6-15 (Thursday)

Nehemiah 9:16-25 (Friday)

Nehemiah 9:26-31 (Saturday)

Psalm 76 (All Days)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (Thursday)

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (Friday)

Luke 21:20-24 (Saturday)

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For all those who hope in you shall not be ashamed:

but only those who wantonly break faith.

–Psalm 25:2, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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One message from the Hebrew Bible is that God liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and gave them orders to live in a just society.  Yet, as prophets attested, rebellion against God became the norm, not the exception to the rule.  Consequences ensued and God showed both judgment and mercy to the Hebrews.

The Jews of Nehemiah 9 were returned exiles living in a province (a satrapy, technically) of the Persian Empire.  They were home, but circumstances did not live up to high expectations and they lived in a foreign empire.  Living under occupation remained the reality of Jews in Judea for most of the time during the following centuries.  In the time of Jesus of Nazareth the occupying power was the Roman Empire, against whom many Jews fought a war from 66 to 73 C.E.  The writing of the four canonical Gospels occurred in the context of the First Jewish War, shaping the telling of stories of Jesus.  Certainly that context influenced the understanding of Luke 21:20-24.  Jesus might have said something similar to those words, but the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. by Roman forces made that text poignant after the fact.

In 1 Thessalonians, which St. Paul the Apostle probably dictated circa 50 C.E., about four decades prior to the composition of the Gospel of Luke, apocalyptic expectations were alive and well.  Some members of that community either used the hope that Jesus would return quite soon as a reason or an excuse to refrain from good works and necessary, even mundane tasks.  The Apostle’s sage advice was to keep working.  That remains wise counsel, for Jesus has yet to return as of the writing of this sentence, and the necessities of life continue to exist.  Waiting for God to act is a poor excuse not to work for justice and to attempt to leave one’s corner of the world better than one found it.  The world might not resemble the best hopes for it, but that fact is a reason to continue working, not to become lazy or to give into apathy or hopelessness.  God will save the world, but we have a moral imperative to leave it better than we found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 10, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SCHEFFLER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Living in Community, Part I   1 comment

Joshua and the Israelite People

Above:  Joshua and the Israelite People

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Holy God, your word feeds your people with life that is eternal.

Direct our choices and preserve us in your truth,

that, renouncing what is evil and false, we may live in you,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 45

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The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 22:1-9 (Thursday)

Joshua 22:10-20 (Friday)

Joshua 22:21-34 (Saturday)

Psalm 34:15-22 (All Days)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (Thursday)

Romans 13:11-14 (Friday)

Luke 11:5-13 (Saturday)

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The man who does right may suffer many misfortunes,

but the LORD rescues him from them all.

He keeps him safe from physical harm,

not a bone of his body is broken.

–Psalm 34:20-21, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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I have read and written of martyrs, such as St. James Intercisus (died circa 421), whose lives contradicted those verses.  Reality has proven much of the Book of Psalms to be naively optimistic.

The theme of this post comes from Romans and 1 Thessalonians.  I begin with Romans 13:12b-13a:

Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day….

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I continue with 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11:

God destined us not for his retribution, but to win salvation through our lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that, awake or asleep, we should still be united to him.  So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Rabbi Hillel, who was an old man when Jesus was a juvenile, summarized the Torah by quoting the Shema then saying,

The rest is commentary; go and learn it.

I apply the same statement to the remainder of the pericopes from Romans 13 and 1 Thessalonians 5.  It is commentary; go and learn it.

Living properly in community before God requires much of us.  It means that we must put up with inconveniences sometimes, for the sake of hospitality, which was frequently a matter or life or death in Biblical times.  It also means that, among other things, we must lay aside misunderstandings and encourage one another.  The altar in Joshua 22 was, in fact, not a threat to the central place of worship.  Neither did it constitute evidence of any variety of treachery before God, contrary to the charge in verse 16.  How many people might have died needlessly had the planned war against the transjordan tribes, based on a misunderstanding, occurred?

Often those who plot and commit errors seek to behave correctly, but they proceed from false assumptions and understandings.  This statement remains correct in current times, unfortunately.  More people (especially those who decide policies) need to check their information more often.  The rest of us (not the policy makers) carry erroneous assumptions in our heads.  As I heard a professor who is an expert in critical thinking say years ago, our most basic assumptions are the ones we do not think of as being assumptions.  How can we live in peace with our neighbors if we do not understand their actions correctly?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 1, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL STENNETT, ENGLISH SEVENTH-DAY BAPTIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN HOWARD, ENGLISH HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR, APOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PAMPHILUS OF CAESAREA, BIBLE SCHOLAR AND TRANSLATOR; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON OF SYRACUSE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-16-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Hope, Joy, and Gloom   1 comment

Last Judgment (Russian)

Above:  The Last Judgment

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Righteous God, our merciful master,

you own the earth and all its people,

and you give us all that we have.

Inspire us to serve you with justice and wisdom,

and prepare us for the joy of the day of your coming,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 1:7-17 (Monday)

Zechariah 2:1-5; 5:1-4 (Tuesday)

Job 16:1-21 (Wednesday)

Psalm 9:1-14 (All Days)

Romans 2:1-11 (Monday)

1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 (Tuesday)

Matthew 24:45-51 (Wednesday)

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Sing praises to the LORD who dwells in Zion;

proclaim to the peoples the things he has done.

The Avenger of blood will remember them;

he will not forget the cry of the afflicted.

–Psalm 9:11-12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Thus we have a segue to the hopeful message of Zechariah 1 and 2.  The rest of the material is mostly dark and joyless, however.  Especially memorable is the fate of the servant who was not ready when his master returned unexpectedly in Matthew 24:51 (The Revised English Bible, 1989):

[The master] will cut him in pieces and assign him a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

My concept of God is one which encompasses judgment and mercy, with the two falling simultaneously sometimes; judgment for one person can constitute mercy for another.  Nevertheless, the recent fixation on judgment in the lectionary has proven tiresome.  I want more of the joy the Lutheran collect mentions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 18:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE PACIFIC

THE FEAST OF ELIE NAUD, HUGUENOT WITNESS TO THE FAITH

THE FEAST OF JANE LAURIE BORTHWICK, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, POET

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-28-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Only One Reading Required: The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Its Predecessors, 1850-1940   13 comments

St._John's_Evangelical_Lutheran_Church,_Milwaukee,_Wisconsin,_Exterior

Above:  Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Image Source = Wrokic

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:St._John%27s_Evangelical_Lutheran_Church,_Milwaukee,_Wisconsin,_Exterior.jpg)

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U.S. LUTHERAN LITURGY, PART IX

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We would gladly behold the day when the One, Holy, Catholic, Christian Church shall use one Order of Service, and unite in one Confession of Faith.

–From the Preface to the Common Service (1888); Quoted in Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), page 308

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We believe the average churchgoer will thank us for not putting in more than one Scripture lesson.

–The Editors of the Book of Hymns (1917), in Northwestern Lutheran, May 1918

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I.  PREFACE

In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part I (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/muhlenbergs-dream-the-road-to-the-common-service-1748-1888/), I wrote about the process which culminated in the unveiling of the Common Service in 1888.  I chose not to write about that liturgy because I had already entered twenty-four pages of writing from a composition book.  In U.S. Liturgy, Part II (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/the-missing-canon-the-common-service-1888/), I focused on the Common Service.  In U.S. Liturgy, Part III (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/truly-meet-right-and-salutary-the-common-service-in-the-united-lutheran-church-in-america-and-the-american-lutheran-church-1918-1930/), I wrote about it in The United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962) and The American Lutheran Church (1930-1060).   In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part IV (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/the-lord-is-in-his-holy-temple-liturgy-in-the-augustana-evangelical-lutheran-church-1860-1928/), I focused on The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860-1962).  In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part V (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/all-glory-be-to-thee-most-high-finnish-american-lutherans-1872-1963/), I wrote about Finnish-Americans.  In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part VI (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/my-soul-doth-magnify-the-lord-missouri-synod-liturgies-1847-1940/), I turned my attention to the Missouri Synod.  In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part VII (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/that-by-thy-grace-we-may-come-to-everlasting-life-norwegian-american-lutherans-1853-1963/), I wrote about Norwegian-Americans.  In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part VIII (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/assembled-in-this-thy-house-danish-american-lutherans-1870-1962/), I focused on Danish-American synods.  Now this leg of my journey through the history of the topic nears its completion with Part IX, in which I write about the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

I have been studying this material closely, trying to record information accurately as I have reviewed primary and secondary sources.  This has required a commitment of much time, for there are so many synods about which to read.  And, since I grew up United Methodist in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the Baptist Belt, Lutherans were scarce, if present at all, when I was quite young.  My spiritual journey has taken me into The Episcopal Church.  Anglicanism and Lutheranism have many theological and liturgical similarities and considerable theological overlap, but my adopted vantage point is still one outside of Lutheranism.  If I have misstated anything, I can correct it.

The material is, by its nature, complicated.  I have tried to organize and format it for maximum ease of reading and learning, however.  So, without further ado, I invite you, O reader, to follow the proverbial bouncing balls with me.

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II.  BACKGROUND

The First German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Wisconsin (FGELSW) organized in 1850.  Its real founder was the Reverend John Muehlhauser, whom the United Rhine Mission had sent to the United States in 1837.  The Synod, which dropped “First” from its name in 1853, benefited greatly from missionaries whom the Basel Missionary Society sent, as did the Minnesota and Michigan Synods.

The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Michigan and Other States (ELSMIOS) formed in 1860.  Its real founder was the Reverend Friedrich Schmidt, whom the Basel Missionary Society had sent.

The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Minnesota and Other States (ELSMNOS) came in existence in 1860, midwifed by the the Wisconsin Synod.  The Minnesota Synod’s real founder was the Reverend Johann Christian Friedrich “Father” Hayer, a missionary to the U.S. frontier and to India prior to 1860.

The Wisconsin Synod became a center of gravity within U.S. Confessional Lutheranism, as we will see.  We will also see that some Confessional Lutherans were more Confessional than others.  There were (and are) Lutherans then there were (and are) Lutherans.

The Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota Synods helped to form the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  The General Council broke away from the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America (1820-1918), which the founders of the General Council perceived had become too liberal and permissive.  But the basic problem of with an obsession for doctrinal purity is that some of the “pure” are purer than others, so more schisms ensue.  Thus the Wisconsin Synod left the General Council in 1869, followed by the Minnesota Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Illinois (1847-1880) in 1871, then by the Michigan Synod in 1888.

The General Council, more conservative than the General Synod, faced several controversies, starting in 1868:

  1. Some clergymen were alleged to have preached Premillennial doctrine regarding the Second Coming of Christ.
  2. Certain members belonged to secret societies.
  3. Some ministers had preached in non-Lutheran churches and certain non-Lutheran clergymen had preached in Lutheran churches.
  4. And some non-Lutherans were taking the Holy Communion in Lutheran Churches.

The General Council dealt with the first point immediately, condemning Premillennialism an an error and affirming the Augsburg Confession (1530), Article XVII:

Our churches teach that at the end of the world Christ will appear for judgment and will raise all the dead [1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:2].  He will give the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but He will condemn ungodly people and the devil to be tormented without end [Matthew 25:31-46].

Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishment of condemned men and devils.

Our churches also condemn those who are spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed.

Concordia:  The Lutheran Confessions–A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, 2d. Ed. (St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 2006), page 40

The General Council refrained from punishing its members who belonged to secret societies, preferring instead to educate them as to the error of their ways.  This decision did not satisfy hardliners.

And, in 1875, the General Council resolved that pulpit and altar fellowship should cease and desist.  Yet, by that point, several synods had defected and others had chosen not to affiliate, citing these controversies.

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III.  THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN SYNODICAL CONFERENCE

The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, or the Synodical Conference for short, came into existence in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1872.  The charter members of the federation (not denomination) were:

  • the Missouri Synod (1847);
  • the Illinois Synod (1846), which merged into the Missouri Synod in 1880;
  • the Wisconsin Synod (1850);
  • the Minnesota Synod (1860);
  • the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States (1818), which left after a decade, during a controversy regarding Predestination; and
  • the Norwegian Synod (1853), which left in 1883, also during the controversy regarding Predestination.

Later Synodical Conference developments included the following:

  • The Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States, having left the Synodical Conference, divided in 1882.  The breakaway Concordia Synod of Pennsylvania and Other States (1882-1886) joined the Synodical Conference before merging into the Missouri Synod.
  • The English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri and Other States (the English Synod of Missouri) (1888) joined in 1890.  It merged into the Missouri Synod in 1911.
  • The Michigan Synod left the General Council in 1888 and joined the Synodical Conference four years later.
  • The Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Synod (later the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches), formed in 1902, joined the Synodicial Conference in 1910.  The denomination merged into the Missouri Synod in 1971.
  • The German Evangelical Lutheran District Synod of Nebraska and Other States, formed by Wisconsin Synod pastors in 1904, joined six years later.
  • The Norwegian Synod, which left the Synodical Conference in 1883, found its unity with other Norwegian-American Lutherans.  Its remnant, The Evangelical Lutheran Synod (1918), joined the Synodical Conference in 1920.

The Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota Synods federated in 1892 as The Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Other States in 1892.  These three plus the Nebraska District (1904) merged to form a new denomination in 1917.  That body retained the federation’s name for two years, becoming the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Wisconsin and Other States in 1919 then the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) in 1959.

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IV.  EARLY ENGLISH-LANGUAGE WORSHIP RESOURCES

The Wisconsin Synod and those Confessional Lutheran bodies similar to it worshiped primarily in their ancestral languages into the first few decades of the twentieth century.  The Missouri and Wisconsin Synods, for example, worked and worshiped primarily in German until the anti-German hysteria during World War I forced many members to hasten the transition to English.

The Wisconsin Synod published its first English-language hymnal-service book in 1911.  This was The Church Hymnal for Lutheran Service, with 115 hymns and four pages of liturgy.  The volume, out of print by 1923, was not impressive, but it was a start.

More lasting was the Book of Hymns (1917), with 320 hymns and sixteen pages of liturgy.  The Sunday service, simpler than those in other English-language Lutheran service books of the time, required only one reading from the Bible (as opposed to the customary two lessons).  Within a few years the process of creating the Synodical Conference’s classic Lutheran Hymnal (1941) was underway, and the WELS was on board.  However, when The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) debuted, it caused some opposition among certain WELS congregations, unaccustomed to such a formal service.

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V.  CONCLUSION

I have had to write about some complicated material, for that is the nature of portions of the U.S. Lutheran past.  All of these synods can become confusing quite quickly, can they not?  At least many of them converged and merged over time.  My strategy in presenting this material has been to do so in as clear a way as possible.  I hope that I have succeeded.

WELS service books in English were primitive before The Lutheran Hymnal (1941).  I wish I could write honestly that post-Lutheran Hymnal WELS worship resources were impressive, but I, having drafted that post long-hand already, know better.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Book of Hymns.  Milwaukee, WI:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1917.  Reprint, 1932.

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA:  The Board of Publication of The United Lutheran Church in America, 1917, 1918.

Concordia:  The Lutheran Confessions–A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord.  2d. Ed.  Paul Timothy McCain, General Editor.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 2006.

Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, The.  The Lutheran Hymnal.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

Melton, J. Gordon.  Encyclopedia of American Religions.  4h. Ed.  Washington, DC:  Gale Research, Inc., 1993.

Pfatteicher, Philip H., and Carlos R. Messerli.  Manual on the Liturgy:  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1979.

Stulken, Marilyn Kay.  Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1981.

Wentz, Abdel Ross.  The Lutheran Church in American History.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  The United Lutheran Publication House, 1933.

I also found some PDFs helpful:

Erickson, Anne.  “God Wants to Help Parents Help Their Kids.”  Pages 8-9 in The Lutheran Ambassador (April 10, 2001).

Marggraf, Bruce.  ”A History of Hymnal Changeovers in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.”  May 28, 1982.

Schalk, Carl.  ”A Brief History of LCMS Hymnals (before LSB).”  Based on a 1997 document; updated to 2006.  Copyrighted by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Zabell, Jon F.  “The Formation of Function of WELS Hymnals:  Further Conversation.”  For the National Conference of Worship, Music, and the Arts, July 2008.

KRT

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