Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rev. H.A. Preus' 1893 address to the ELS Convention

The ELS website has a fascinating collection of ELS convention addresses, including 18 speeches given by Reverend Herman Amberg Preus.

In the 1893 address in Chicago, Illinois, Rev. H.A. Preus has a message to us in the future. I am not making any specific statements by highlighting his comments; I just find it fascinating that, indeed, there is nothing new under the sun. Our battles of today in keeping false teachings, often disguised by Satan as well-meaning attempts at unity for the sake of Christ, out of our churches are nothing new. Our forefathers also fought this battle. Our children and great-great grandchildren will also fight the same battles, so we need to teach them well and in love.

If by the grace of God the Norwegian Synod also in the future will remain faithful to its lofty task: to be a faithful witness for delivering souls, then it will never be able to enter into any union of churches with a church body which will not purify itself of such gross errors, even if a person wants to attempt to build the union over a many-sided, deep ditch which was supposed to cover over differences of belief.

At this moment an extremely dangerous current is flowing through the various church bodies nearly everywhere in the world. It is a current which even if not always intended by its leaders and their followers, yet, however, by the instigator, Satan, the tempter, aims at nothing less than emancipating from the absolute, divine authority by the rejection of the doctrine of God’s Word concerning the inspiration of Scripture, that is, that all Scripture is inspired by God and is therefore the Word of God. As you know, at the present time not one theological seminary is to be found in “Lutheran” Germany which holds on the old Lutheran doctrine of inspiration. Similarly, unfortunately, it is discussed among leading theologians in the church of our dear fatherland as a theory abandoned long ago by everyone capable of forming an opinion. It is true, a clear testimony on the other side is heard in Germany from one or another old-Luth-eran pastor, just as in Norway there surely are also found many among the older clergy who do not want to be along in this apostasy from the Lutheran Church but who hold fast to its doctrine in this chief point.

This sentence, giving a picture of days long gone, also caught my eye:

And here, we will always remember with thanks to God the faithful help and support which the Lord gave us in the older, much experienced, Missouri Synod.
The entire speech is a great history lesson, as are many of the speeches. If you, like me, are less than knowledgeable about the history of the Norwegian Lutheran Synod, you can match the speeches up with this timeline.

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