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United States, Lutheran Theology in the.

1. The early Luths. in Am. came from Swed., Holland, and Ger. determined to adhere to the Luth. Confessions. The Swed. govt. instructed J. B. Printz (see Campanius, Johan) that services be performed acc. to the UAC, the Council of Uppsala (see Sweden, Lutheranism in, 1), and the ceremonies of the Swed. ch. Dutch and Ger. Luths. proceeded largely on basis of the Amsterdam Ch. Order. which required subscription to the UAC.

The Lutheranism of H. M. Mühlenberg* and of his fellow workers from Halle was tinged with Pietism.*

2. The Pennsylvania Ministerium (see United Lutheran Church in America, The, Synods of, 22) had no const. or formal declaration on the Book* of Concord when it was organized. But J. N. Kurtz* promised at his ordination 1748 to teach only what harmonizes with the Word of God and the Confessions of the Ev. Luth. Ch. The dedication sermon of St. Michael's Ch., Philadelphia, 1748, reminded the cong. that Ev. Luth. doctrine should be taught in it acc. to the foundation of the prophets and apostles and acc. to the UAC and the other symbolical books. The 1781 Pennsylvania Ministerium const., chap. 6, par. 2: “Every minister professes that he holds the Word of God and our Symbolical Books in doctrine and life; …”

3. H. M. Mühlenberg died 1787. Gen. deterioration of confessional Lutheranism followed. The 1792 Pennsylvania Ministerium const. omitted all confessional tests. F. H. Quitman* of the New York Ministerium (see United Lutheran Church in America, The, Synods of, 15) was a rationalist.

4. The General* Syn. of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in the USA was organized 1820 for closer relations bet. syns.; its const. made no ref. to Luth. confessions.

Gen. Syn. 1825 plan for a sem., resolution 1: “In this Seminary shall be taught … the fundamental doctrines of the Sacred Scriptures, as contained in the Augsburg Confession.” Purpose of the sem. as expressed in its 1826 const., Art. I: “To provide … pastors who sincerely believe, and cordially approve of the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, as they are fundamentally taught in the Augsburg Confession, …” The oath of prof. office required by the const. read in part: “I … believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the inspired Word of God, and the only perfect rule of faith and practice. I believe the Augsburg Confession and the Catechisms of Luther to be a summary and just exhibition of the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God.” The 1829 Gen. Syn. Const. of Syns. for dist. syns. candidates for licensing and ordination were required to say that they believed that the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God are taught in a manner substantially correct in the doctrinal articles of the Augsburg Confession. But these confessional obligations lacked necessary clearness and definiteness and opened the door to latitudinarianism. In a letter in the mid-1840s to the Ev. Ch. in Ger. the Gen. Syn. said: “In most of our church principles we stand on common ground with the Union Church of Germany. The distinctive views which separate the Old Lutherans and the Reformed Church we do not consider essential.” Besides unionism,* doctrinal indifference, and rationalism, the influence of Puritanism was apparent. Works, external conduct, and “new* measures” were emphasized.

5. Paul Henkel (see Henkels, The, 2), C. F. W. Walther,* and others protested nonconfessional trends. See also Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, The. Conservative Lutheranism was strengthened.

6. The Definite* Syn. Platform, an unsettling factor, led to Free* Luth. Conferences.

7. Admission of the Franckean* Syn. to the Gen. Syn. in the mid-1860s led to disruption of the Gen. Syn. and formation of the General* Council of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in (N.) Am. 1867. See also Four Points; Galesburg Rule.

8. After formation of the Gen. Council the doctrinal position of the Gen. Syn. became progressively more conservative. By 1913 all dist. syns. of the Gen. Syn. had approved revised arts. of the const. that recognized the OT and NT canonical scriptures as the Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice; the UAC as a correct exhibition of faith and doctrine as founded on the Word; and the secondary symbols as expositions of Luth. doctrine of great hist. and interpretative value. The revised arts. especially commended the SC as a book of instruction.

9. The United* Syn. of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in the S. recognized “the Holy Scriptures, the Inspired Writings of the Old and New Testaments, the only standard of doctrine and church discipline”; the ecumenical symbols and the UAC “as a true and faithful exhibition of the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures in regard to matters of faith and practice”; and the other Confessions of the Book of Concord “as true and Scriptural developments of the doctrines taught in the Augsburg Confession, and in the perfect harmony of one and the same pure, Scriptural faith.”

10. The doctrinal basis of The United* Luth. Ch. in Am. recognized the OT and NT canonical Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, and as the only infallible rule and standard of faith and practice, acc. to which all doctrines and teachers are to be judged; the 3 ecumenical* creeds as important testimonies drawn from the Holy Scriptures; the UAC as a correct exhibition of the faith and doctrine of the Ev. Luth. Ch., founded on the Word of God; the other Luth. Confessions as in the harmony of one and the same pure Scriptural faith. See also Pittsburgh Agreement.

11. On the confessional basis of the Mo. Syn. see Lutheran Church4—Missouri Synod, The, III 4; see also other parts of that art., esp. V and VI.

The Synodical* Conference acknowledged “the canonical writings of the Old and New Testaments as God's Word, and the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of 1580, called the 'Concordia,' as her own.” See also Predestinarian Controversy, 2.

On the doctrine of the ALC (1930) see American Lutheran Church, II. On the doctrinal basis of The American* Lutheran Conference see Chicago Theses; Minneapolis Theses (1925). On the doctrinal basis of The ALC (1960) see American Lutheran Church, The, II. On the doctrinal basis of the LCA see Lutheran Church in America, III. Purposes of the Lutheran* Council in the USA include seeking to achieve theological consensus on basis of the Scriptures and the witness of the Luth. Confessions.

See also American Lutheran Church, V 1; Brief Statement; Common Confession; Madison Settlement; Madison Theses.

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

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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