Dr. S.C. Ylvisaker
1920 Synod Convention Essay
I. Why Are We Concerned With the National Lutheran Council?
1) Because it is an organization which involves more than one-half of those who bear the Lutheran name in this country.
2) It seeks to embrace all Lutherans in America.
3) It is reaching out also to those who bear the name Lutheran in foreign lands.
4) It represents a definite movement within the Lutheran Church, a great step forward in the direction of liberalism in doctrine and practice, which is doing untold damage to the cause of those truths and principles which we hold most dear.
5) In this movement are directly concerned many whom we still count as our spiritual brethren. In their behalf we too must join in testifying according to our ability.
6) We ourselves above all need to know the facts and to be warned against the dangers which threaten.
II. What is the National Lutheran Council?
“The National Lutheran Council was organized on the 6th of September 1918, in the city of Chicago. … After two preliminary meetings of the presidents, and representatives appointed by them, of the general Lutheran bodies, the organization meeting took place. The following organizations were represented: General Synod, General Council, Joint Synod of Ohio, the Synod of Iowa and other States, Augustana Synod, Norwegian Lutheran Church, Norwegian Lutheran Free Church, Danish Lutheran Church, and the National Lutheran Commission. Later the United Danish Church and the Buffalo Synod have decided officially to co-operate with the National Lutheran Council. The Icelandic Synod has considered the matter favorably, but referred it for final action to its Ministerium. The Augustana Synod has endorsed the action of its president in participating in the organization of the National Lutheran Council and decided to affiliate with other general Lutheran bodies in the permanent organization of said Council, The United Lutheran Church has authorized its president to appoint representatives for said body upon the National Lutheran Council. The Lutheran Free Church and the Danish Church in America have formally elected their representatives. The Norwegian Lutheran Church of America has approved the organization of the National Lutheran Council and its work to date, but has postponed final action with reference to future co-operation until its general meeting in 1920. Formal action by the Joint Synod of Ohio and by the Synod of Iowa and other States is awaiting the general meetings of the bodies.” (Report of the General Secretary, Annual Report of the National Lutheran Council, Nov. 6, 1919, p. 9).
According to the Annual Report. 1919, the following are members of the Council:
United Lutheran Church: Dr. F.H. Knubel, Dr. H.A. Weller, Dr. C.M. Jacobs, Dr. V.G.A. Tressler, Dr. W.B. Greever, Hon. E.F. Eilert, Dr. T.E. Schmauk, Hon. J.L. Zimmerman.
Norwegian Lutheran Church: Dr. H.G. Stub, Dr. L. Lar sen, Mr. E.B. Steensland.
Augustana Synod: Dr. G.A. Brandelle, Rev. P. Peterson.
Joint Synod of Ohio: Dr. C.H.L. Schuette, Rev. M.P.F. Doermann.
Iowa Synod: Dr. I. Richter.
United Danish Church: Rev. I. Glettsen.
Lutheran Free Church: Rev. O.H. Sletten.
Danish Lutheran Church: Rev. P. Gotke.
Icelandic Synod: Rev. B.B. Jonsson.
Buffalo Synod: Rev. K.A. Hoessel.
Article III of the Regulations governing the Council has this to say concerning the membership: “The membership shall consist of representatives from every General Lutheran Body or Synod that may co-operate in the execution of its program. Each Body shall be entitled to one representative for every one hundred thousand confirmed members or one-third fraction thereof; provided, however, that every participating Body shall be entitled to at least one representative. The term of office of each member shall be two years, but the term of the original members shall expire with the first regular meeting of the Bodies which they represent, when the members from that Body shall be subject to re-election or reappointment for a term of two years, as the Body may decide.”
The officers, elected annually, are at present as follows: Dr. H.G. Stub, Chairman; Dr. F.H. Knubel, Vice-Chairman; Dr. L. Larsen, Secretary; Hon. E.F. Eilert, Treasurer. Executive Committee: Dr. H.G. Stub, Dr. F.H. Knubel, Dr. L. Larsen, Hon. E.F. Eilert, Dr. G.A. Brandelle, Dr. F. Richter, Dr. C.H.L. Schuette, Dr. H.A. Weller, Rev. I. Gertsen.
III. Which Are the Considerations That Led to the Organization of the National Lutheran Council?
These may be summarized as follows, each consideration being specifically mentioned in the regulations governing the Council and in articles written from time to time by representatives of the Council:
1) After-war work in army and navy, maintaining additional pastors and assisting regular chaplains in ministering to the soldiers and sailors, especially the sick and those recovering from wounds; providing adequate equipment and workers for local churches in the neighborhood of ports of debarkation, and in camps ; supplying Bibles and other books, equipment and emergency funds to the army and navy chaplains during the period of demobilization. (Lutheran Church Herald, Feb. 4, 1919.)
2) The problem of serving the many Lutherans in the so-called industrial centers, which have sprung up during the war.
3) To represent the Lutheran Church adequately over against the national government and any outward organization where it is necessary that the common conviction and sentiment of the Lutheran Church be expressed, e.g., the language question.
4) The matter of publicity.
5) To promote the gathering and publishing of true and uniform statistical information concerning the Lutheran Church in America.
6) Harmony of action among the various Lutheran bodies m this country on the home-mission field. (Lutheran Church Herald, Dec. 31, 1918.)
7) To bring to the attention of the Church all such matters as require common utterance or action. (Art. II of the Regulations.)
8) To further the work of recognized agencies of the Church that deal with problems arising out of war and other emergencies; to co-ordinate, harmonize, and unify their activities; and, to create new agencies to meet circumstances which require common action. (Art. II of Regulations.)
9) To co-ordinate the activities of the Church and its agencies for the solution of new problems which affect the religious life and consciousness of the people, e.g., social, economic, and educational conditions. (Art. II of Regulations.)
10) To foster true Christian loyalty to the state; and to labor for the maintenance of a right relation between Church and State as distinct, divine institutions. (Art. II of Regulations.)
11) The consideration that such an organization as the Council might become a great help in bringing the different Lutheran Church bodies together into a great American Lutheran Church. (Dr. Stub in Lutheran Herald, Dec. 24, 1918.)
12) In Europe, to relieve the suffering of needy brethren physically.
13) Assist in the restoration and extension of the Lutheran Churches in Europe, especially in the war zone. (Lutheran Church Herald, Feb. 4, 1919.)
14) The saving of the foreign missions conducted by the Lutherans in Germany for the Lutheran Church. (Lutheran Church Herald, Aug. 12, 1919.)
15) The duty of the Lutheran Church in America to take the lead in International Lutheranism. The Lutheran Church in America is the strongest and most orthodox in the world and the only part of the church that has learned to live under a democratic government. (Dr. Larsen in Luth. Ch. Her., Dec. 31, 1918.)
IV. What Has the National Lutheran Council Accomplished?
A. In America:
1) Office established at Washington, D.C., to make direct and personal representation to the Government authorities with reference to the position of the Lutheran Church. June 1st, 1919, the General Secretary of the Council became the Executive Secretary of the National Lutheran Commission, and the office was moved to New York.
2) Finances. During the beginning of its existence and work, the National Lutheran Council was financed by the National Lutheran Commission. … The question of raising funds for the work of the National Lutheran Council was first taken up by its Executive Committee on the 6th of September, 1918. It was clear that it would be necessary for the Council to raise considerable sums in order to carry out its program of service, especially in the after-war reconstruction period. At this time, however the armistice had not been signed. Several of the Protestant Churches were considering the same needs for funds. Under the stress of war conditions, these churches, just as the seven well-known welfare organizations, found it necessary to make their campaign for funds a Joint Protestant Drive. Dr. F.H. Knubel and Dr. H.A. Weller were made a committee to represent the Council in conferences on the suggested Protestant Drive, with authority to act. The matter was again considered at the meeting of the Executive Committee on the 8th of November, and our sub-committee was instructed to prepare a tentative budget for the next meeting of the Executive Committee to be held in Columbus on the 11th of December (1918). By the time of the Columbus meeting, the armistice had been signed; but the plans for a Joint drive in February had prior to the signing of the armistice taken such form that it was impossible for us to withdraw. On the other hand, it had now been determined that the campaign should not be a Joint Drive in the sense of having a common treasury, but that it should be a simultaneous drive on the part of the denominations interested. The total budget of all participating denominations was set at $20,000,000, and that of the National Lutheran Council at $500,000.” (Annual Report, 1919, page 11.) The amount raised in this campaign was $556,732.63. In May of this year another campaign was staged, this time with no connection with the other Protestant denominations. The goal was $1,800,000 and. the most recent reports show receipts of $623,121.80.
3) The National Lutheran Council stands ready at any time to take over the work of the National Lutheran Commission for Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Welfare.
4) Industrial Centers. In the beginning this work was undertaken in conjunction with the Joint Committee of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (Report, p. 14). Later more purely Lutheran work was undertaken in communities assigned to the Lutheran Church by the Joint Committee on War Production Communities (Federal Council of Churches). A Field Secretary was called, Rev. Reichert of the U.L.C., and wherever it was found that Lutheran Church work was necessary it was, undertaken with a view to assigning the same to a local Lutheran Board of Missions as soon as such Board would be able to undertake the work. For this purpose a conference was instituted of the several Mission Boards of the Lutheran Bodies in America in harmony with the National Lutheran Council. This conference was held at Columbus, Ohio, and a general agreement was reached that the several Mission Boards would co-operate, and as soon as able would take over the administration of any Lutheran Missions organized or promoted in War Communities. When the armistice was signed mission work was in operation at eleven so-called Industrial Centers. Some of these Centers soon disintegrated and the mission work ceased. Others were taken over by the Mission Boards; but the Mission Board of the United Lutheran Church in America had so many of these points thrust upon it that special arrangement was made with the Mission at North Chester, Pa., whose administration, however, was immediately placed under the Board of the United Lutheran Church. To this new congregation formed at North Chester, the Council has promised, for a period of five years, support ammounting to $1,500 and the price of house rent per annum to a permanent pastor. (Report, pp. 14 and 15).
5) At the request of the several Home Mission Boards of the Lutheran Bodies in America in harmony with the National Lutheran Council a doctrinal conference was brought about by the Council for the purpose of conferring on questions of doctrine and practice with a view to the co-ordination of the Home Mission and other work. This conference was held in Chicago, March 11th–13th, 1919. (Report, p. 15.) See paper by Rev. Hendricks.
6) Statistics. The committee appointed by the Council and consisting of Dr. O.M. Norlie, Dr. E.B. Burgess, and the Rev. A.H. Dornbirer, has prepared a statistical blank for possible use in the entire Church.
7) The work of Publicity has been attended to especially through the Lutheran Bureau which organization has been taken over by the Council.
8) In the matter of the Language Question resolutions have been passed by the Council and presentations made to the Council of Defense, to Government officials, and to the Federal Council of Churches, but in most cases the situation could only be handled locally or by States. (Rep. p. 18.)
B. In Europe:
1) On the 11th of December, 1918, the Council authorized its Executive Committee to appoint and send a commission to visit the Lutheran Churches in Europe for the purpose of Christian contact and helpfulness. The following men were appointed: Dr. J.A. Morehead, chairman, Dr. S.G. Youngert, Rev. G.A. Fandrey, Dr. G.T. Rygh, and Rev. H.J. Schuh. These were instructed to learn definitely the present ecclesiastical situation and problems of each group of Lutherans in European lands which were involved in the war, and were given the following specific duties: “You will convey to the Lutherans there the sincere and cordial greetings of the Lutheran Church in America, with assurances of its deep interest and ready willingness to participate in the solution of their ecclesiastical problems. You will ascertain the conditions confronting each Lutheran group, with a view to enable the National Lutheran Council intelligently to afford such counsel and succor as will contribute to strengthen, hearten, and encourage them in establishing the Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in harmonious relationship to our whole household of faith.” (Report, p. 19). The Commissioners have visited France, Germany, Poland, The Baltic Provinces, Finland, Austria, and Czecho-Slovakia and have submitted detailed reports of conditions in these countries.
2) By October 31st, 1919, the sum of $174,679.12 had been distributed for reconstruction work in Europe and by April, 1920, 1,700,000 lbs. of clothing had been sent to the needy in the war zone. Large quantities of food have also been forwarded through the efforts of the Council.
3) Foreign Missions. To solve the problem of the distressed German Lutheran Missions in India, Africa, and other parts of the world the Council asked the representatives of the Foreign Mission Boards of the constituent bodies of the National Lutheran Council to meet for conference. The result of this invitation was the organization of the Lutheran Foreign Missions Conference of North America. This Conference unanimously asked the National Lutheran Council to add the sum of $300,000 to its budget for foreign missions. This has been done. The purpose of the Council is to help in as far as possible in rehabilitating and safe-guarding the Lutheran mission work that has been so seriously affected by the late war. (American Lutheran Survey, May 12, 1920, p. 4.)
V. Why Can We Not Join Hands With the Lutheran Council?
A. Are we agreed in doctrine? See paper by Rev. Hendricks.
B. What is the actual status of the Council with regard to co-operation in so-called externals?
1) In a recent article in Lutheraneren (Apr. 28, 1920) Dr. Stub would make it appear that the work of the National Council concerns only such matters where doctrinal unity is not required. The following resolutions adopted by the Executive Committee of the Council are quoted in support of this: “In stating its objects and purposes, the National Lutheran Council declares: 1) That it will not interfere with the organization, the inner life; or; the principles of fellowship of its constituent bodies; 2) That the execution of those purposes will be carried on without prejudice to the confessional basis of any participating body (i.e. without dealing with matters which require confessional unity); 3) That it is the right of the bodies themselves to determine the extent of co-operation.” The Lutheran Church Herald for May 4th, 1920, says: “Dr. Stub makes it plain that the Council has not established church fellowship between the synods. The work of the Council was to be of such a nature in external matters that a complete union in doctrine and practice was not to be required,” And in the Lutheran Church Herald for Dec. 24th, 1918 Dr. Stub says: “At this stage we must be very careful not to give the impression that the Council is to be the exponent or spokesman of a united Lutheran Church in matters of doctrine, but only an organization dealing with matters of a more external character.”
2) There is a plain inconsistency between these assurances and other statements, which show that internal co-operation was included in the scope and purposes of the Council’s activity. Dr. Stub in his annual report as Chairman of the Council characterizes the work of the organization as follows. “We must, however, keep in mind that the National Lutheran Commission had to deal with matters of an external character, with matters not requiring the expression of unity in regard to doctrine and practice, although the supposition was that members of Commission should only be Lutherans. The National Lutheran Council, on the other hand, would have to deal with matters of a more mixed character. They might be classified as external, as mixed, and as internal. The material help and assistance, the reconstruction work, consisting in furnishing food and clothing to Lutherans in distress in European countries, was, of course, of an external character. The efforts at headquarters in Washington to clear our Lutheran Church from the charge of disloyalty, unjustly raised against it, also of an external character. The efforts to install Lutheran pastors in the so-called “Industrial Centers,” with the object in view of giving these industrial centers over to the Church bodies mostly concerned in these different centers, was of a somewhat mixed character and could not under the conditions be otherwise. The reconstruction work in European countries would of course bring our Lutheran Church in contact with the Lutheran Church in Europe that had suffered intensely and needed assistance, guidance, and encouragement. Then concerted action was required when the question arose: What can the Lutheran Church in America do in order to preserve the Lutheran missions in the former German colonies for the Lutheran Church? Then another question arose and demanded solution, namely: What can be done in specific cases on the home mission field in our own country, where a possible adjustment of Church conditions is necessary in order to prevent competition, rivalry, and strife, and consequently great injury to our Lutheran Church? There was of course no thought of organic union or federation of these Church bodies nor of a general co-ordination and co-operation on the home mission field. But the problem was only in specific cases to prevent the organization of new congregations and to adjust where there was strife.” (Rep., pp. 6 and 7.) At least two paragraphs of Art. II of the “Regulations Governing the National Lutheran Council” show that internal co-operation is included in the work of the Council, namely “4) To further the work of recognized agencies of the Church that deal with problems arising out of war and other emergencies; to co-ordinate, harmonize, and unify their activities; and, to create new agencies to meet circumstances which require common action” and “5) To co-ordinate the activities of the Church and its agencies for the solution of new problems which affect the religions life and consciousness of the people, e.g., social, economic, and educational; conditions.” Among the “principles of action” adopted by the European Commissioners these two paragraphs interest us in this connection: “5. The non-political, churchly, and spiritual character of this Mission of the National Lutheran Council shall ever be kept in the minds of the people of every nation. … 7) The fraternal and helpful relations established by the faithful performance of its task should be judiciously utilized by the Commission to further the ends of good understanding, co-operation and federation among the Lutheran Churches of the world.” (Report, p. 28.) The Commissioners urge especially that the “National Lutheran Council should take under careful advisement the question of effective co-operation with the Lutherans of France at the opportune moment in the fundamental task of establishing a satisfactory system of Church education, including an institution for the training of the ministry.” They also recommend that the Council take steps to increase its funds in order that it may provide for the continued support of Lutheran Churches in war ravaged countries of Europe. (Report, pp. 21 and 28.) Concerning the first budget for the international reconstruction service Dr. Larsen says that it “provided especially for assistance to the work of the Lutheran Church in Europe and not so much for direct service of relief.” Rap. 12).
3) The facts shows that internal co-operation is included in the program of the Council:
a) In Europe. Though it is a generally recognized fact that the established Churches in Europe have for some time been hotbeds of rationalism, that some (see Kirchl. Zeitschr. 1919, 578 ff.; Luth. Ch. Her., Sept. 2, 1919; An Report, 62.) of them, though they hear the name Lutheran, represent the most varied types of doctrine, false doctrines which would be tolerated in none of the Lutheran Churches of this country, however lax, fraternal relations have been established and encouraged with individuals and groups representing these Churches with no further assurance of agreement in faith than the word of the Commissioners or the officers of the Council. These fraternal relations appear from the following:
1. The Lutheran Churches in Europe are continually being addressed and spoken of as “brethren”, a term which has until recently had a special significance among Lutherans in America.
2. Fraternal greetings have been sent to the Lutheran Church in France by the N.L. Commission. (Luth. Ch. Her., Oct. 8, 1918.)
3. Of the moneys distributed by the Commissioners in the war ravaged countries, comparatively small sums have been appropriated for the relief of poor and needy, while large amounts have been given toward the direct support of pastors, congregations, and Church institutions. (Report, p. 21 and the following.)
4. Theological students have been granted direct support, and at institutions where there is no assurance that they will learn true Lutheran doctrine.
5. The reception accorded the representatives of the Lutheran church in France and Alsace-Lorraine on their visit to the United States surely implied sincere fraternal recognition.
6. The recent drive for $1,800,000 included an appropriation of $300,000 for the support of the German Lutheran missions in foreign countries. Co-operation on the foreign mission field presupposes co-operation at home. In this connection it is interesting to note that the Inter-church World Movement also contemplated the support of these same missions, to the extent of $1,500,000.
b) In America. Although it has been announced that doctrinal agreement exists between those individuals who are members of the Council, this agreement is, on the one hand, insufficient (see paper presented by Rev. Hendricks), and, on the other hand, it has not been adopted by the various bodies represented in the Council, for which reason it can not be considered as a proof of doctrinal agreement between these bodies and a guaranty of unity in faith, a divine requirement for fellowship in worship and church work. Despite this the bodies represented in the Council have co-operated in internal church work and have united in worship since the organization of the Council.
1. Union services have been common, especially since the declaration of the Committee concerning doctrinal agreement, so common that specific instances need not be mentioned. The services have in many cases been under the direct arrangement of the officials of the bodies concerned and occasioned by the matters for which the Council was directly responsible, as, f.ex., the reception of the delegates from France and Alsace-Lorraine and the institution of drives for funds for the work of the Council.
2. Congregations belonging to the Norwegian Lutheran Church have been merged with congregations of the United Lutheran Church as for instance in Moorhead, Minn.
3. Joint work has been undertaken by the various bodies represented in the Council in a Training School for Mission Workers in Minneapolis, Colony of Mercy in St. Paul, Spokane, College, Wash., Lutheran Orient Mission (see Luth Ch. Her May 4, 1920).
4. Only on the supposition of unity in faith can it be understood that Revs. J.A.O. Stub and L. Larsen would accept the honorary title of “Doctor of Divinity” from institutions belonging to the United Lutheran Church.
5. At its meeting in Columbus, Dec. 11, 1918, the Council approved the recommendations of the Home Missions Conference with reference to the emergency work in the Industrial Centers and its recommendation that a joint committee be appointed for a conference on matters of doctrine and practice with a view to readjustment or coordination of home mission problems. In this connection the following most farreaching and important resolution was adopted: “Resolved that the National Lutheran Council commends to all general Lutheran Bodies the desirability of a spirit of highest Christian friendliness in their relations to one another; that, therefore, a polemic attitude should be abandoned, and, if manifested, ignored; that the policy of an open, full fairness be vigorously pursued; that the desire to be positively helpful be fostered, and that any manifestation of an effort to proselyte be resisted.” This resolution either presupposes doctrinal unity or is indicative of a plain refusal on the part of the Council to conform itself to a prime requisite of true disciple.ship, that of keeping that which is committed to our trust (1 Tim. 6.20). Scripture even says; “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit. 1,13). Comp. Joh. 8,31: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” and Jud. 3: “Yc should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
6. Concerning co-operation in the “Industrial Centers” see IV.A.4 of this Paper.
C. The National Lutheran Council is not only a unionistic organization itself which without doctrinal agreement is committed to a definite program involving internal church work, but membership in the Council would bring us into intimate relation with church bodies which throughout their history have been known to be
1. Unionistic. No doubt one reason for the rapid inroads of unionistic practice within the Norwegian Lutheran Church is this very contact with bodies which have been strongly unionistic up to this time. Unionism has been so common within the bodies represented in the United Lutheran Church that further proof is unnecessary.
2. Lax in the struggle against the evils of the Lodge. Among the evils which threaten our Lutheran Church in America the Lodge evil is second probably only to that of Unionism. The menace of the Lodge was pointed to a year ago by those of the Norwegian Lutheran Church who opposed the National Lutheran Council, but officials of the Council succeeded in evading and making light of the issue. Today, especially through the untiring efforts of Mr. B.M. Holt, a former Mason and now a member of our Synod, the Lodge question can no longer be disregarded. It was a matter of common knowledge that the United Lutheran Church was full of lodge men and that testimony against the Lodge has been almost entirely hushed in that body (see Proc. of the fifth Convention of the Engl. Distr. of the Mo. Syn. 1919, p. 49) It was also reported that even ministers in this body were lodge members. Mr. Holt has looked into the matter more thoroughly and feels convinced that 250–300 pastors of the United Lutheran Church are lodge men. A list has been compiled of 108 names of pastors and professors of the United Lutheran Church who are Masons. This list can at any time be substantiated by documentary evidence. It is significant that among these are 35 who have the degree of D.D. or Ph.D., one is the president of a Theological Seminary, six are synod presidents, one is the superintendent of a Home for Aged, one is a college president, one is a member of the National Lutheran Council, etc. Can anyone doubt what the outcome would be of intimate relations with a body where the Lodge situation is so deplorable?
D. The organization and work of the National Lutheran Council are a violation of free church principles. So far as we are able to see the first mention of the National Lutheran Council in any of the official organs of the Norwegian Lutheran Church was made in the Lutheran Church Herald, Oct. 22, 1918. “Lutheraneren” for Nov. 13, 1918, in an editorial which welcomes the United Lutheran Church as an answer to the prayers especially of the layity and in the same connection prophecies one Lutheran Church in America, urges a “common council” which can represent the Lutheran Church before the Government in the same manner as the Commission did. In this way the formation of the National Lutheran Council was heralded in advance, though the actual announcement of its organization did not come before the latter part of December, 1918, and the beginning of January, 1919. That the Church Council of the Norwegian Lutheran Church took no official action in the matter before a meeting held in the early part of 1919 seems to show that it had no official notification of the organization before this time. The Church bodies concerned have a right to ask the reason for this delay in reporting such a farreaching decision on the part of its officials.
2. Large sums o£ money (more than $25,000) entrusted to the Commission were used toward the organization of the Council, and that without the authorization of those bodies which had contributed the money specifically for work among the soldiers. and sailors.
3. The endorsement of the respective Church Bodies was sought and obtained (not without a struggle) only after the organization of the Council had been completed and the work outlined and begun, in other words, only after the respective Church bodies through their respective officers were committed to the cause of the Council.
4. The recent drive for $1,8OO,OOO was staged only one short month before the general convention of the Norwegian Lutheran Church. What plainer disregard of the rights of congregations through their chosen representatives to express their sentiments?
Reformed bodies complain in bitter terms of self-appointed committees and organizations which assume unlimited powers and dictate farreaching policies in the Church. It is our firm conviction that the National Lutheran Council is an evidence of the same menace in the Lutheran Church, a menace which is robbing the congregations of one of their greatest privileges and laying a heavy burden on the consciences of many good people, who feel that loyalty demands also their support, though their heart of hearts is opposed to the principles involved.
E. From the date of the Council’s organization until October 31, 1919, one year and two months, the administration and campaign expenses of the Council totaled $82,108.59. During this period the sum of $556,732.63 was collected and $176,679.12 distributed for European and Asiatic relief and reconstruction. Do these figures strengthen the confidence of those who have contributed the money? In the Missouri Synod a fund of $2,000,000 has been collected for the support of superannuated pastors and teachers with no expense to the Church. In the same synod $243,159.68 has been distributed for European relief at an expense to the Church of $3,978.05.
The more one ponders the aims and purposes of the National Lutheran Council and the men who formed the organization, the more one realizes the colossal task which it has undertaken. The problems confronting the civilized world at the conclusion of the war were stupendous, but the problems of the Church were none the less so. Let no one find fault with those who see the problems, who feel the burden, and face the task. Ours is a duty and a privilege such as the Church probably never has seen. We are living in severely critical times, and the Church and each of its members ought to be feverishly busy about its work of saving souls. The field of action has been greatly extended by and as a result of the war. The Lutheran Church has undoubtedly at this time its special duties and responsibilities, which it would be folly to deny. It would also be folly to deny the fact that the National Lutheran Council has accomplished certain remarkable things. It has shown the value of co-operation. Huge sums of money have been secured through the efforts of the Council and much suffering has been alleviated.
And yet the Council may fitly be characterized as a blunder and a calamity.
A blunder, for the opportune moment was at hand but it was misused. For what hinders co-operation among the Lutheran bodies in this country, even in externals? The opponents of Missouri have made much of the fact that the original regulations of the Council were drawn up by a Missourian — how unreasonable she must be when she now refuses to co-operate! The pity is that those who have been-misled to adopt unionistic principles are unable anymore to distinguish clearly between external and internals. Certain problems were at hand which would have made a certain co-operation in externals a desirable thing, but it was made impossible by those who refused to make the proper distinction.
A calamity, for through the organization and work of the National Lutheran Council the floodgates of unionism and lodgery have peen opened still wider and further sections of the Lutheran Church are being subjected to their destroying power. It is seeking to reconstruct, to build up, in one part, but destroys in another; it seeks to unite, but has caused further strife and dissension; it seeks to save Lutheranism in America and Europe, but is robbing it of its real strength and making it an easy prey to the spirit of the Reformed Churches. The National Lutheran Council has brought a crisis in the history of the Lutheran Church in America. May God in His grace keep us firm!