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Madison Settlement

(Madison Agreement; Opgjör). As early as 1870 the Norw. Syn. (see Evangelical Lutheran Church, The, 8) sought unity through free conferences. In 1905 Hauge's Norw. Ev. Luth. Syn. (see Eielsen Synod) invited Norw. ch. bodies to hold discussions with possible union in view (see also Evangelical Lutheran Church, The, 13). Committees of the Norw. Syn., Hauge's Syn., and the United* Norw. Luth. Ch. agreed on the doctrine of absolution 1906, lay activity 1906, and the call and conversion 1907–08. Sharp disagreement developed beginning 1908 regarding the doctrine of election and predestination bet. the committees of the United Ch. and the Norw. Syn. In 1911 these 2 bodies elected new committees which adopted the “Settlement” at Madison, Wisconsin, 1912. Content:

“1. The union committees of the Synod and the United Church, unanimously and without reservation, accept that doctrine of election which is set forth in Article XI of the Formula of Concord … and in Pontoppidan's Sandhed til gudfrygtighed, Question 548.

“2. Since both the conferring bodies acknowledge that Article XI of the Formula of Concord presents the pure and correct doctrine of the election of the children of God unto salvation as taught in the Word of God and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, it is deemed unnecessary for church unity to set up new and more elaborate theses on this article of faith.

“3. However, since it is well known that in presenting the doctrine of election two forms of doctrine have been used, both of which have won acceptance and recognition within the orthodox Lutheran Church,

“some, in accordance with the Formula of Concord, include under the doctrine of election the whole order of salvation of the elect from the call to the glorification (Formula of Concord, Part II, Art. XI: 13–24 [the original has '10–20, ' acc. to Norw. ed. of Book of Concord by Johnson and Caspari]), and teach an election 'unto salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,'

“while others, with Pontoppidan, in agreement with John Gerhard, Scriver, and other recognized teachers of the Church, define election more specifically as the decree concerning the final glorification, with faith and perseverance wrought by the Holy Spirit as its necessary presupposition, and teach that 'God has appointed all those to eternal life who He from eternity has foreseen would accept the offered grace, believe in Christ and remain constant in this faith unto the end'; and since neither of these two forms of doctrine, thus presented, contradicts any doctrine revealed in the Word of God, but does full justice to the order of salvation as presented in the Word of God and the confessions of the Church,

“we find that this should not be cause for schism within the Church or disturb that unity of the spirit in the bond of peace which God wills should prevail among us.

“4. Since, however, in the controversy over this question among us, there have appeared words and expressions—justly or unjustly attributed to the respective parties—which seemed to the opposite party to be a denial or to lead to a denial of the Confession,

“we have agreed to reject all errors which seek to explain away the mystery of election … either in a synergizing or a Calvinizing manner, in other words, every doctrine which either on the one hand would deprive God of His glory as only Savior or on the other hand would weaken man's sense of responsibility in relation to the acceptance or rejection of grace.”

The “Settlement” rejected the doctrines (5 a) that the mercy of God and merit of Christ is not the only cause of election, (b) that election takes into account anything that man is or may do or omit to do “as of himself and by his own natural powers,” (c) that froth is in whole or in part a product of or dependent on man's choosing, power, or ability, (d) that faith is the result of an ability and power imparted by the call of grace, which therefore now dwell within and belong to the unregenerate heart, (6 a) that God acts arbitrarily and unmotivated in election, (b) that God's will regarding salvation is of 2 kinds, one revealed in Scripture, the other unknown and concerning only the elect, (c) that when resistance is removed in those who are saved and not in those who are finally lost, the cause of this different result lies in God, (d) that a believer can and shall have an absolute assurance of his election and salvation instead of an assurance of faith, (e) all doctrines concerning election which directly or indirectly would conflict with the order of salvation, and would not give to all a full and equally great opportunity to be saved.

The 3 conferring bodies resolved 1912 “that the essential agreement concerning these doctrines which has been attained is sufficient for church union.” Most of the Norw. Syn. agreed to the Madison Settlement. The minority, led by C. K. Preus* and I. B. Torrison,* requested 1. that Section 1 of the Madison Settlement be omitted; 2. that in Section 3 the reference to FC II [SD] XI read “1–20” instead of “10–20”; 3. that the end of Section 4 be changed from “or on the other hand [would] weaken man's sense of responsibility in relation to the acceptance or rejection of grace” to “or on the other hand [would] weaken man's sense of duty in relation to the acceptance of grace and blame for the rejection of grace.” The Union Committee found a formula agreeable to the merging bodies and to most of the Norw. Syn. minority in this: “… there is nothing in the … request which is contrary to Scripture and the Confessions, and … we regard the position taken in that document as a sufficient expression of unity in faith …

“Note. It is obvious that the above cited resolution must not be construed to mean that [the Madison] 'Agreement' as a basis for the union of the three contracting bodies thereby has been abridged or altered.”

This “Austin Agreement” (Austin Settlement; 1916–17) takes its name from Austin, Minnesota, where agreement was reached. A minority of the minority disagreed with it and organized the Norw. Syn. of the Am. Ev. Luth. Ch. (see Evangelical Lutheran Synod).

The Union Documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, comp. and tr. G. M. Bruce (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1948); L. u. W., LVIII (1912), 222–223, 511–513, 562; Documents of Lutheran Unity in America, ed. R. C. Wolf (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1966), pp. 232–235.


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod


Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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