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Toledo Theses

(1907). Revision of Michigan* City Theses; drawn up 1907 Toledo, Ohio, by representatives of the Ev. Luth. Syn. of Iowa* and Other States and the Ev. Luth. Joint Syn. of Ohio* and Other States: adopted by Iowa 1907, formally by Ohio 1914; basis of 1919 discussions bet. the Iowa and Buffalo syns. that led to fellowship bet. them 1920.

“Thesis I. The Church. The Church, in the proper sense of the term, is the communion of true believers which is established and built up through the means of grace. … According to its real essence the church is and remains invisible on earth. Fellowship of the means of grace is the necessary form of the church's appearance and the infallible mark of its existence; and in so far the church is visible.

”Thesis II. The Office of the Ministry. … The office of the ministry rests on a special command of the Lord, valid throughout all time, and consists in the right and power conferred by special call to administer the means of grace publicly and by commission of the congregation. The call (to the pastorate) is a right of the congregation within whose bounds the minister is to discharge his office. …

“Thesis III. Attitude to the Confessions. A binding subscription to the Confessions pertains only to the doctrines of faith therein set forth, and to all these without exception. Since the doctrine of Sunday taught in the Confessions is a doctrine revealed in God's Word, it is not to be excluded from the body of obligatory dogmas.

”Thesis IV. Open Questions. All doctrines revealed clearly and plainly in God's Word are, by virtue of the absolute authority of the divine Word, dogmatically fixed and binding on conscience, whether they have been symbolically defined or not. In God's church there is no justification for departing from clearly revealed Scripture truths, be their content fundamental or nonfundamental, important or apparently unimportant. Full agreement in all articles of faith constitutes the indispensable condition of church-fellowship. Persistent error in an article of faith always causes division. Full agreement in all nonfundamental doctrines is not attainable on earth, but should nevertheless be sought as goal. Those who knowingly, obstinately, and stubbornly contradict God's Word, even if only in subordinate points, thereby overthrow the organic foundation (of the faith) and must be excluded from church-fellowship.

“Thesis V. Chiliasm. Any chiliasm that regards the kingdom of Christ as an external, earthly, and worldly kingdom of glory and teaches a resurrection of all believers before the last day is to be rejected as a doctrine in direct conflict with the analogy of faith. The belief … that the reign of Christ and His saints referred to in Rev. 20 is an event belonging to the future and that the resurrection spoken of there is to be understood as a bodily resurrection of some [Ger. einzelner] believers unto life everlasting does indeed not contradict the analogy of faith but can no more be strictly proved from Scripture than can the spiritual interpretation.

”Thesis VI. Predestination and Conversion. We find that the church-dividing error in the Missouri doctrine of predestination is the severance of the universal gracious will of God and the special decree of election into two contradictory wills (contradictoriae voluntates) formed one after the other and apart from and beside each other. … Concerning conversion … we confess that, viewed as the placing or planting of a new spiritual life, conversion does not consist of or depend to any extent whatsoever on any cooperation … but that it is wholely and solely the work of the Holy Spirit. … We deny that the Holy Spirit works conversion according to the mere pleasure of His elective will and accomplishes it in the elect despite the most willful resistance … but we hold that by such stubborn resistance both conversion in time and election in eternity are hindered.“ EL

Iowa Syn. Synodal-bericht 1907, p. 109; Ohio Syn. Verhandlungen 1908, pp. 8–10; Ohio Syn. Proceedings 1908, pp. 8–11; Ohio Syn.. Minutes 1914, p. 125; Quellen und Dokumente zur Geschichte und Lehrstellung der ev.-luth. Synode von Iowa u. a. Staaten, comp. G. J. Fritschel (Chicago, n. d.); [G.] F. B[ente], ”Die Toledoer Unionsthesen,“ L. u. W. LIII (1907), 278–284; F. W. Stellhorn, “Das Kolloquium zu Toledo, Ohio,” Theologische Zeitschrift, XXVI (1907), 166–168; F. W. Meuser, The Formation of the American Lutheran Church (Columbus, Ohio, 1958); Documents of Lutheran Unity in America. ed. E. C. Wolf (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1966); Doctrinal Declarations (St. Louis, 1957).

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

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