Dear brethren in convention assembled, I wish to impress upon you in this my last presidential message the fact that the Melanchthonian spirit of synergism, compromise, and unionism all but succeeded in preventing the giving of the Augsburg Confession to the World. After Luther’s death the same spirit raised its head again and made protracted and insidious attacks on Scripture truth as confessed at Augsburg. This time it brought forth an Altered Augsburg Confession. It has been active ever since, though its voice has at times been somewhat muffled and its operations varying in degree of boldness.
The forces thus set in motion within thee early Lutheran Church, and which have their deep-set roots in natural man’s reason and inclination, are today bringing forth a bountiful harvest of indifferentism to and misuse of, God’s Word, of compromise, and of related sins. Throughout the length and breadth of our land a strong, influential voice is now reverberating, bearing the message: “God’s Moment is Now” for “recognition and fellowship” among American Lutherans. Voices are also lifted in the interest of “the whole problem of American church unity” which express the hope that “the tide toward a true, free, national church in America” may set in.
The wave of indifferentism and unionism that threatened to swamp as, and that did wash overboard many of our friends and brethren two decades ago, was relatively small and timid as compared to the great and bold wave now advancing on orthodox Lutheranism in America and the world. The prevailing winds are against us, the tides and currents are contrary, the sea is rough. Brethren, the need of the hour is faithful, I repeat, faithful, fearless, consecrated captains with firm hands to the helm, eyes fixed on the compass and chart — the open Bible — and a vigorous “get thee hence Satan” to every suggestion of reason, convenience, and self aggrandizement.
Should fear and trembling overtake you, see to your footing on the impregnable Rock of Ages. Behold the Ark which Noah builded in obedience and according to the Lord’s specifications, and take courage; it carried its precious cargo to safety, borne on the very waters of the deluge. See the disobedient Jonah cast into the sea and swallowed by a great fish, and don’t fail to note that the selfsame great fish had to do God’s bidding and bring the obedient Jonah in safety to land. Note well, furthermore, what the lone voice of the chastened, obedient prophet accomplished: The exceeding great and wicked city, Nineveh, repented and believed God. “Why,” indeed, “are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” With us is the Lord our God to help us as long as we continue in His Word. Amen, in Jesus’ name.
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By the grace of God our Synod has carried on another year. Misgivings of a year ago have been put to shame. Increased zeal and added application have been successfully pitted against discouraging conditions.
Your president has in official capacity made two trips…. The past year’s experience assures him that the full and proper functioning of our board of visitors will relieve the president’s office of many tasks and tend to greatly increase general efficient in Synod’s work.
Our standing committees and boards have been alert. I shall not anticipate their reports, but urge all to give them due attention and consideration, to the end that intelligent and wise action may be taken where needed.
The office of visitor has, up till the past year, been little else than an idea, more or less intangible. Even yet it does not seem that all pastors and congregations, nor, perhaps, visitors have a full and correct idea of the functions and purposes of that office. However, a substantial beginning has been made in the right direction. Quite a few congregations and pastors have, during the past year, experienced the benefits of the visitor’s office rightly administered. I would suggest that the convention give this question needed consideration, so that the idea may crystalize in the minds of all pastors and delegates, and, possibly, the more important features be reduced to formal statements by resolution.
… [Reports of installations, etc. are included.]
May God bless our 17th annual convention. We ask it in Jesus’ name.