THE DRIVE TO OPGJØR
The Years 1900-1917
In The Old Norwegian Synod
ELS General Pastoral Conference
October 7-9, 2003
Rev. Jerry Gernander
Richland Lutheran Church
The subject of this essay is to reconsider and evaluate the events that led to the 1917 merger of three Norwegian Synods. The merger in effect was the beginning of our synod, which began with the 13 pastors and their congregations who refused to join the merger church. It’s a good subject for this 2003 general pastoral conference, the 150th anniversary (almost to the day) of the founding of the old Norwegian Synod. We call ourselves the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, but in reality we are the true heirs of the Norwegian Synod.
But what is our purpose? This answer, given 50 years ago, is just as true today:
Our purpose in considering these things is not chiefly to satisfy our curiosity and to evaluate the weaknesses of our fathers and former brethren. But it should serve as a lesson for us, who are still exposed to the same dangers as they were. And it will help us also to understand the problems of other synods; for, as The Preacher says, ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ History is sure to repeat itself in so many ways. The arch enemy of the saving truth will use pretty much the same tactics at all times, to rob us of this truth, though they may appear in somewhat different form as the occasion demands. The Lord protect us against his machinations.
This essay is dedicated in grateful appreciation to Pastor Emeritus J. Herbert Larson (who was my pastor during my youth in San Antonio, Texas). He has helped me immeasurably by sharing with me not only his translations of previously untranslated Norwegian Synod documents, but also his insight.
The years covered in this historical essay are 1900 to 1917. But the beginning really goes back to the 1880s and the Election Controversy, which really never ended until the Merger. And the history went beyond 1917, into the fledgling years of our synod, when the right to the name “Norwegian Synod” was debated; when the little Norwegian Synod still was struggling to keep the hearts of its people and to regain the hearts of former brothers and sisters who had gone into the merger church; and when the big church was rapidly drifting farther away due to its new associations with the National Lutheran Council. It’s in these years after 1917 that this history is best learned, from the writings of those who were continually reliving it, often against their will.
With that disclaimer given, this essay is – speaking strictly and narrowly – a consideration of the union movement in the Norwegian Synod in the years 1900-1917, centering on the controversial OpgjØr (“Settlement”), a.k.a the Madison Settlement. (Note on documentation: A basic summary of this history is given in Grace for Grace, edited by S.C. Ylvisaker, Christian Anderson, and George O. Lillegard, p. 92-110; and in A City Set On a Hill by Theodore A. Aaberg, p. 44-74. Let the reader assume that historical information which is not footnoted comes from these pages in these books.)
Disputed Points in the Doctrine of Election
Before we track the progression (or, more properly, regression), beginning in 1900, it’s best to have a brief look at the disputed points in the doctrine of election. Along with the desire for external church unity that is really a false “ecumenical” spirit, this was the issue: what people believed (or were willing to tolerate) about the doctrine of election or predestination.
Right in the OpgjØr document, the disputed points are put side by side. (See Appendix A, “The Text of OpgjØr.”) Paragraph 1 speaks of “that doctrine of election which is set forth in Article XI of the Formula of Concord, the so-called First Form” of the doctrine, “and [that doctrine of election which is set forth in] Pontoppidan’s ‘Truth Unto Godliness’ (Sandhed til Gudfrygtighed), the so-called Second Form of Doctrine.”
This debate about “the first form” and “the second form” of the doctrine of election went back to the Election Controversy in the 1880s. The important point was the role of faith in the doctrine of election. The so-called “first form” and the so-called “second form” could not live side by side at that time. Rather, the Norwegian Synod at that time called “the first form” true and “the second form” false. In the 1880s, the Norwegian Synod came down on the side of the Lutheran Formula of Concord: that God has called or elected each person by grace, not in view of the faith, as if faith were the cause of a person’s election; rather, the faith is a result of the election by grace. At the same time, of course, the Norwegian Synod in the 1880s rejected what it considered the opposite view: that God has called or elected each person intuitu fidei, “in view of faith.” This position makes faith not the result of God’s action, but the cause of it.
In summary, the issue was where you place faith in the doctrine of election. “The first form” places faith after election, as the result of election. “The second form” places faith before election; faith is the cause of your election.
Another way of putting it is that “the second form” of the doctrine limited election to the final stage of salvation, a person’s “glorification”: that a person endures in faith to the end and goes to heaven, God sees this in advance, and therefore God elects him. Again, this puts the individual Christian’s faith ahead of God’s election, or as the cause of it. Against this, “the first form” of the doctrine declares that election consists of the entire “order of salvation.” In other words, it includes God’s calling us before the foundation of the world, and it includes God’s calling us by the Gospel and bringing us to faith in the means of grace, as well as our enduring in faith to the end. Again, this puts faith in the position of being a result of God’s election.
These two “forms” are against each other. Dr. Franz Pieper of the Missouri Synod noted in an analysis of the OpgjØr in 1913 that “not two ‘forms’ of doctrine, but two doctrines, materially differing from one another, are presented in the theses.”
This really was the doctrinal issue: whether they were two acceptable “forms” of the true doctrine of election, or two different doctrines of election, one true and one false. Both the Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Synod theological periodicals declared “the second form of the doctrine …to be false doctrine which ought not be tolerated within the Lutheran Church,” observed Dr. H.G. Stub, the president of the Norwegian Synod in these years and the main promoter of the OpgjØr. Of course Stub did not accept that these were two different doctrines: “[OpgjØr speaks] only about the doctrine in the two forms.”
An important issue is what to do with the source of the “second form” – Pontoppidan’s “Truth Unto Godliness,” Question 548, based on statements by 17th century dogmatician Johann Gerhard. The answer given to “What is election?” is: “That God has appointed all those to eternal life whom He from eternity has seen would accept the grace proffered them, believe in Jesus and persevere in this faith unto the end.”
In the 1880s, the Norwegian Synod was willing to tolerate this position. “So long as the doctrine of sin and grace is kept pure, we do not regard anyone who has used, or uses, that incomplete concept of election as a false teacher. … We stand in fellowship of faith with those who like Pontoppidan and Johan Gerhard teach correctly regarding sin and grace and who, like them, reject the doctrine that God has been influenced in electing men by their conduct.”
But the Norwegian Synod did not make this position they tolerated equal with the position in the Formula of Concord. Before and after the Merger, H.G. Stub tried to show that the Synod always had considered the two positions equally correct. In 1921, Rev. George Gullixson showed this was not the case:
It was tolerated only when weak brethren who used it, by explicit statements guarded against its grammatical sense with rigid reservations. It was never considered a definition of the Election of Grace as taught in the Word of God. … We were warned against the “intuitu fidei” doctrine morning, noon and night by spokesmen of the Norwegian Synod. Our congregations were asked in many instances to change a paragraph in their constitutions, so as to include the Book of Concord and thus to guard against the intuitu fidei doctrine …We will not accept the doctrine of election in view of faith without reservations and become guilty of placing this subterfuge for synergism on par with the Lutheran Confessions. Dr. Stub has been busy ever since the adoption of “Opgjoer” endeavoring to make it appear that that which was made the exception with most rigorous reservations has later been made the rule without reservations by the old Norwegian Synod.
Here Gullixson (one of the pastors who didn’t join the Merger) highlights that the “in-view-of-faith” position was tolerated “with most rigorous reservations.”
Rev. Christian Anderson showed the importance of it, in a 1930 analysis:
The faithful teachers of the Synod … showed clearly that if this definition of Election is to be taken in the sense which the words undeniably express, then it weakens and limits the glorious Gospel which God wants to proclaim in the passages which speak of Election. That this was actually the case became clearly evident when, during the controversy on Election, the consideration of the doctrines of the Call and Conversion were considered. Just as the so-called Anti-Missourians taught that God in Election took into account something in man, so they ascribed to man a certain ability through the prevenient grace to follow God’s call and to resolve to accept His grace.
Anderson’s point is a very important one, especially as we consider the OpgjØr and its history. The issue involved not only the role of faith in God’s election, but also the means of obtaining faith in conversion. Even 2 years before the writing of the OpgjØr, in the midst of ongoing doctrinal negotiations between the Norwegian synods, Koren himself said: “The disagreement which appeared on [election] …surely rests on disagreement in the doctrine of conversion.” The result, in the text of the OpgjØr, was a statement in Paragraph 4 giving man “responsibility” in “acceptance of grace.”
This is why the position that had been tolerated could not be considered equal with the Scriptural position of the Formula of Concord. But it’s what the OpgjØr did.
First Steps Toward the Merger (1900-1905)
It’s ironic that F.A. Schmidt was centrally involved in the first steps toward the merger of the Norwegian synods. He originated the Election controversy in the 1880s. When the massive withdrawals of congregations took place around 1887, Schmidt and his followers formed the Anti-Missourian Brotherhood. In 1890 they helped form the United Norwegian Lutheran Church in America, known as the United Church. In 1900, the Norwegian Synod invited and began meeting with the United Church for doctrinal discussion. The participants included none other than F.A. Schmidt!
It’s difficult to understand why the Norwegian Synod thought anything good could come from doctrinal discussions with declared opponents. Evidently, however, they recognized the dangers and intended to remain firm:
As late as the year 1900 the Synod conventions, together with resolutions declaring that they would work earnestly in an effort to bring about unity among the various Norwegian Lutheran bodies, adopted also a paragraph which reads as follows: “Also for the very purpose of furthering true unity and of preserving the truth of God’s Word, which we believe that your Synod by God’s grace possesses pure and true, our Synod wants to avoid and abstain from all kinds of unionism and all proceedings which would make it appear that we are in doubt whether we in all points have the truth pure and true or not.”
But discussing doctrine with opponents makes this goal too difficult, as the little Norwegian Synod’s 1st president, Bjug Harstad, said at the 1921 convention: “People have continually held meetings in order to be united with opponents.”
The result, in this case, is that Schmidt himself published an article protesting the way negotiations were being handled. Then the Norwegian Synod’s Church Council recommended to the Synod at the 1902 convention that the Synod not continue its involvement in the discussion, if Schmidt were not replaced. (They had asked the United Church to appoint someone else to take Schmidt’s place on the committee.) They followed this up with a pamphlet that detailed Schmidt’s past naughty behavior – dishonest, unreliable, etc. – during the Election Controversy. At the festive 1903 jubilee convention of the Norwegian Synod, the United Church sent a telegram questioning this opinion of the Synod’s Church Council. The convention unanimously approved the Synod’s answer: “If the Church Council has spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.” One year later, the United Church gave its answer in a pamphlet titled: “The Church Council Has Spoken Evil.” The synods should have had little possibility of fellowship with each other.
Actually, the synods’ wrangling out of one side of their mouths was canceled out of the other side of their mouths. While the Norwegian Synod was demanding the removal of Schmidt from the participants, it was stating its desire to continue union negotiations. While the United Church was challenging the Norwegian Synod on this, it was declaring that it still was holding out the hand of brotherhood.
Because of this (and other factors within the Norwegian Synod), it shouldn’t be a surprise that when the Hauge’s Synod sent an invitation to the 1905 Norwegian Synod convention to participate in joint doctrinal discussions – obviously with the eventual goal of union – the Norwegian Synod (and also the United Church, for its part) appeared to hesitate not one bit! Right away, the Synod named its 5-member union committee that would meet with 5-member committees from the United Church and the Hauge’s Synod. The Norwegian Synod committee originally consisted of three theological professors and two pastors: Professors H.G. Stub, O.E. Brandt and A. Mikkelsen, and Pastors H. Halvorsen and O.P. Vangsnes. Later, Mikkelsen and Halvorsen resigned and were replaced by Professors Johannes Ylvisaker and E. Hove.
The choice of men for the United Church’s union committee is very revealing. It included their president, T.H. Dahl, even F.A. Schmidt, a theological professor named E. Kr. Johnsen, and (added in 1906) professor J.N. Kildahl. The Norwegian Synod men knew Schmidt’s opposition to their teaching on election. His earlier statement should have struck an ominous note now: “Have I not accused the Synod people of false doctrine and Calvinism, and have they not still conferred with me?” Dahl, as we will see, made it known that he was very adamant against the Norwegian Synod’s teaching on election. After the merger, Johnsen declared: “My view on the doctrine of Election is the same as it was 25 years ago.” Kildahl was a professor of symbolics in the United Church’s theological seminary. As we will see, he fought hard against the Norwegian Synod’s doctrinal position, when it came down to it. In several Lutheran Sentinel articles in 1920, Dr. S.C. Ylvisaker showed that Kildahl’s position was well known and did not undergo any change, before or after the Merger.
Besides the formation of union committees, the other alarming event was the election of H.G. Stub to the position of vice president at the 1905 Norwegian Synod convention. Because President Koren was failing in health, it was commonly assumed that (a) the vice president probably would succeed Koren, perhaps even finish Koren’s present term; and (b) the vice president at least would assume much of the work that a healthier Koren normally would do. Stub was the favorite of the restless, more “liberal” people in the Synod.
Stub actually had participated in the 1880s in defeating the false teaching on election. With Koren and others, Stub represented the Norwegian Synod at the October 1882 meeting of the Synodical Conference in Chicago. This was the meeting at which the Conference rejected F.A. Schmidt as delegate. The other synods in the conference – Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – had each accepted doctrinal statements in their respective synods that rejected the “in-view-of-faith” position. The Synodical Conference therefore, desiring to go on record, elected a committee to present a resolution on this subject.
The committee consisted of Ernst, Koren, Stoeckhardt, Walther … and Stub. Their resolution included this declaration: “the doctrine that God has elected in view of faith is positively repudiated.” Stub helped write this resolution. Stub voted for it. In fact, at the time he said: “Behind the second form [the “in-view-of-faith” position], Semi-Pelagians and synergists can hide, not behind the first.”
The question is: How did Stub become the champion of approving the very position he had repudiated so recently as the 1880s? We may never know. He was not new to the Synod. His father was H.A. Stub, one of the pioneer Norwegian Synod pastors. He had been a student of Walther in St. Louis.
We don’t know why Stub came to serve what many from this period call “the more liberal element which was developing.” Rev. Christian Anderson, who lived through these years, said Stub “had always been a champion of the cause of union.” This perhaps is all we can know.
The Work of the First Union Committee (1906-1910)
Beginning in October 1906, the union committees from each synod met together once or twice a year. They reported the results. The reports all had a happy tone. Evidently the committees quickly had agreed on the doctrines of absolution, lay activity in the church, the call, and conversion. They had the approved theses in hand.
Careful reflection would have shown a different picture. Did the Hauge’s Synod now repudiate its conditional form of absolution? Did the United Church now repudiate its statements that followed its own F.A. Schmidt regarding a person’s ability to choose salvation for himself? Not with Schmidt serving on the union committee! In fact, Schmidt refused to accept Thesis 11 in the Theses on Conversion (abstaining from voting): “When a person is converted, the glory belongs to God alone, because it is He who throughout, from beginning to end, without any cooperation on the part of man works conversion …”
The false doctrines taught in the United Church and in the Hauge’s Synod never were repudiated by these committee members. The 1936 document Unity, Union, and Unionism – which uses this history as an illustration of why Christians of opposing beliefs should not have doctrinal discussions together – mentions that “members of the Norwegian Synod” made “a strong demand” for antitheses, “in order to make sure that false doctrines formerly championed by other synods were no longer held by them.” It also includes the testimony that “the committee members from the Norwegian Synod assured us that this would no doubt be done.” Their optimism was disappointed, however. The wish for antitheses never gained a hearing in the joint union committee.
President Koren himself believed antitheses were needed. Did he think so at the time, in 1907-1908? His thoughts on the subject are only made public at a later date.
In 1910, as part of his presidential address to the synod (which Stub was to read in his absence), Koren said the disagreement over election “surely rests on disagreement in the doctrine of conversion.” In other words, not enough was said in the Theses on Conversion on which everyone so happily agreed. Koren went on to say, in his address prepared for the 1910 synod convention: “That a series of theses on this doctrine [of election] is adopted does not prove that there is thorough agreement. This we have experienced before when all our positive theses were accepted while violent objections were made to the antitheses although these were only inevitable conclusions of the former.”
Also in 1910, in a letter to Stub, Koren shed more light on his thoughts about the lack of antitheses in the earlier theses: “As I often have said – our [union] committee has been careless in not adding antitheses. Without these we have, in my estimation, no guarantee that an agreement has been attained in any point. Had an actual agreement been reached in the doctrine of conversion then there would not have been such difficulties with the doctrine of election.”
Although many members of the Norwegian Synod had high hopes at this time, in retrospect it was a sign of grave consequences in the future:
These theses were hurriedly adopted in the excitement of the Union Movement without any debate, so that those who had been separated could be joined together as soon as possible. There was little probability that the individuals gave any serious thought to the fact that their doctrine and preaching was to be governed by these theses in the future.
It was on to the doctrine of election for the joint union committee. Four words sum up their efforts from 1908 to 1910, from beginning to end, in full committee or in sub-committee: they could not agree! Here is the way it went:
(1) For the Nov. 10-13, 1908, meeting a sub-committee was assigned the task of preparing a basis for discussion by the full committee. This committee consisted of H.G. Stub (Norwegian Synod), J.N. Kildahl (United Church) and M.G. Hanson (Hauge’s Synod). They brought nothing. They couldn’t even agree on how to start the discussion!
(2) Instead, the sub-committee brought three sets of theses: one set by Stub, one by Kildahl (of the United Church), and one by M.O. Boeckmann (also of the United Church). The union committee voted to make Stub’s theses the basis for discussion.
(3) At three meetings (lasting 4 days each) from November 1908 to November 1909, the full committee discussed the first six of Stub’s theses. They could not agree.
(4) At the Nov. 2-5, 1909, meeting, the United Church men recommended that “the second form” position found in Pontoppidan, question 548, be used as the basis for discussion. Their recommendation failed. The committee elected a new sub-committee (again with Stub as a member), which was to find a mutually agreed-upon basis for discussion.
(5) The joint union committees again met on March 29, 1910. The new sub-committee had failed to find a basis for discussion. Stub presented a revised version of his theses for consideration by the full committee. Boeckmann of the United Church presented a revised version of his theses. Rev. C.J. Eastvold, the Hauge’s Synod president and a member of this newer sub-committee, presented his own set of theses on the doctrine. Nobody could agree.
(6) The Norwegian Synod committee members left the meeting. They did so, they said in a written report to the committee, because the full joint union committee previously had resolved that if the sub-committee were “unable to present a joint doctrinal declaration,” then the full committee would “not meet for further doctrinal negotiations.”
(7) The negotiations now were at an end, supposedly. The Joint Committee agreed not to meet anymore. Each synod’s union committee reported this to their synod conventions. This stage was seen by all as “a complete rupture.”
But it wasn’t really the end. As it turns out, in spite of harsh language, the other synods were waiting for the Norwegian Synod to weaken its resolve.
What stirred the Norwegian Synod most were the words of President T.H. Dahl of the United Church, a member of his synod’s union committee. At his church’s annual meeting, Dahl declared that the break-up of the negotiations was due to the insistence of the Norwegian Synod men on adopting Stub’s theses. Dahl said these theses contained “unbiblical and un-Lutheran” doctrine. This was no casual comment. Dahl said this at two annual conventions of his church. In June 1911, the United Church union committee issued a pamphlet explaining their reason for declaring the theses “unbiblical and un-Lutheran doctrine.” Ten years later, Rev. Bjug Harstad commented in reviewing the history: “In [the pamphlet] the biblical, Lutheran doctrine was definitely rejected. The proofs were essentially the same as we had heard from Schmidt, Boeckmann, Kildahl and others so many times for several years. Consequently nothing is heard either of the demand for more proofs or from our Committee any refutation of the wretched rational arguments and perversion of the teaching of the Scriptures and the Confessions of which that document is full.”
The response of Stub (and the Norwegian Synod) was a seemingly vigorous defense of the true doctrine.
First, Stub took his theses to the Norwegian Synod district conventions in 1910. The district conventions approved his theses as a correct expression of the doctrine of election – thereby rejecting the United Church doctrine.
Then, at a Dec. 13, 1910, meeting, the Synod’s union committee stated “as an imperative for future discussions with the representatives of the United Church … that they point out in which theses the unbiblical and un-Lutheran teaching is contained, provide proof of it, and that this first form the basis for our discussions.” When this wasn’t done, but rather theses by Eastvold were approved for discussion, the Norwegian Synod men left the meeting with the supposedly emphatic declaration that they “no longer took part in the deliberations.” This prompted the afore-mentioned pamphlet that the United Church came out with in 1911. We gain more insight into the real conviction of the United Church men in Stub’s words; after the Dec. 13 meeting, he wrote in “What Hinders Church Union Among Us,” published in Kirketidende: “It was so far from being the case that the committee of the United Church would disavow the opinion of the December 13th meeting, that much rather several of its members repeated it in even stronger words. The Synod’s sin could not be branded in strong enough expressions. One speaker even thanked God twice because he had gotten the opportunity to brand our foundation as unchristian.”
In spite of this appearance that the synods were crossing swords doctrinally, they actually were taking steps in the opposite direction.
The Hauge’s Synod and the United Church were giving the Norwegian Synod room to move toward compromise. The president of the Hauge’s Synod, C.J. Eastvold, said: “The action of the Synod in this matter is of the utmost importance.” For his part, United Church president Dahl – in spite of branding the Norwegian Synod doctrinal position “unbiblical and un-Lutheran” – said in almost the same breath at the 1910 United Church convention: “Be it far from us to give up making an approach to these bodies with union as the ultimate result.” He recommended that the United Church continue union efforts by negotiating through the committees, and his church accordingly passed a resolution authorizing the continuation of negotiations, not only with the Hauge’s Synod, but also with the Norwegian Synod.
It would be one thing if such heterodox churches were the only ones pursuing a hypocritical union. But the decisive factor that assured these negotiation were not at an end was that the Synod itself did things that left the door open, not just pursuing discussion but sending mixed signals to its own people.
First, at the 1910 district conventions – despite accepting Stub’s theses on election and approving the withdrawal of the union committee from the discussions – the Synod recommended that the union committee continue to work “as long as it has any hope that unity on the basis of truth can be attained.”
Second, the conventions added the clause: “that the two forms of the doctrine of Election, presented by the Lutheran Confessions and by Johann Gerhard respectively, ought not be divisive of church fellowship, and that it would be very regrettable if such should be the case.” This was Stub’s recommendation, even after bitter opposition from the United Church men! Added to this was the hope that God would bless “the work of church unity among us.”
Perhaps this has been excessively detailed attention to the work of the first union committee. But it laid the groundwork for what happened later. In retrospect, the work of the first union committee was preparing the Synod for a doctrinal compromise (although that surely was not what they intended). Here at the end of 1910, it was not the opponents but the leaders of the Norwegian Synod who kept the door open when it should have been shut, by authorizing further discussion and by labeling the “second form” position “not divisive.”
Of this Christian Anderson wrote: “As to the effect of such a resolution there can be no difference of opinion among us today.” 
Our early synod leaders – the ones who lived through this battle and did not join the merger – considered these events between 1906 and 1910 critical for what took place later. Listen to the testimony of two of these men:
The chief danger of today, as it was previous to 1911 to 1917, is that so many church members are indifferent to the teaching of God’s Word. … Such indifference ruined the old Synod and brought about the merger.
This ignorance together with the fact that our Synod, contrary to Titus 3:10 and other passages, continued to negotiate with the opponents long after they had plainly shown that they would not listen to our testimony to the truth, was no doubt the main causes of the deterioration and breakdown of the Old Synod.
Preparations for OpgjØr (1910-1911)
Who in the Norwegian Synod would have admitted they were preparing for such a thing as a doctrinal compromise? But it was happening.
First, there was the very real rejection of Koren and the very real promotion of Stub. It’s true that Stub was arranging much of this. But he had followers. Rev. Christian Anderson remembered “much murmuring” about Koren’s 1902 essay, “What Hinders Union of the Various Norwegian Church Bodies.”
Then there was Stub’s own treatment of Koren. In 1910, Stub read Koren’s presidential essay to the convention in place of the ailing president, and omitted Koren’s paragraph which (a) cast doubt on the prospect of real agreement on the doctrine of election and (b) urged the adoption of strong antitheses (above, p. 8). Privately, Koren said to a synod pastor: “Did you notice the blow in the nose (næsestyver) which Dr. Stub gave me at the last Synod meeting?”
The final point on this subject – really the final straw – was Stub’s election to presidency of the synod in 1911, after Koren’s death. The course of events from 1911 to 1917 shows the role of political maneuvering in his presidency. This is intertwined with the role of the Church Council.
Another danger which threatens the church is Church Politics. It was an important factor in destroying the old Synod and may also become a danger in our Synod. The Church Council (Kirkeraad) in the old Norwegian Synod originally served a good purpose but after 1910 it became a dangerous power for the Synod’s downfall.
“After 1910 …” In other words, in Stub’s hands it was used “for the Synod’s downfall.” Again Rev. Christian Anderson sheds light on this subject. He writes that “the presidents became the leading element in the Council” during the tenure of Koren, and “the office of president practically became one held by the incumbent for the rest of his life.”
Koren’s successor in office [Stub], who had always been a champion of the cause of union, found little difficulty in lining up the majority of the Council for this cause. … Since the Church Council had gradually become such a strong influence in the Synod, when its power was taken into service of the liberal element, it was something which was not easy to resist.
Stub’s influence, then, helped prepare for the doctrinal compromise that was coming. Then, in 1911, two things happened:
1. The United Church proclaimed itself “ready and willing” to continue meeting with the Norwegian Synod with the goal of “bringing about a union,” and sent a representative to bring greetings in person to the Norwegian Synod convention 1 week later. The United Church also took the significant step of electing an entirely new union committee.
2. At the Norwegian Synod convention, after first rebuking the United Church for sending greetings to a synod it had accused of “unbiblical and un-Lutheran doctrine,” Stub recommended (without conferring with union committee members) that the Synod continue to negotiate with the United Church, and elect an entirely new committee. The Synod did so, “though no dissatisfaction with the old members of the committee had been expressed.”
Careful observation of the facts should have prevented the Norwegian Synod’s pastors and delegates from approving this action. What was known is that the United Church condemned the Norwegian Synod position as “unbiblical and un-Lutheran,” and had not repudiated this.
The pamphlet that the United Church’s first union committee published in 1911, providing the reasons for the accusation of “unbiblical and un-Lutheran doctrine” on the part of the Norwegian Synod, was a current topic. S.C. Ylvisaker later wrote: “In 1911 this first union committee of the United Church made a notable declaration with regard to the doctrine of election. It contained certain very clear positive statements as well as accusations of unbiblical and un-Lutheran doctrine on the part of the Norwegian Synod. The report containing this declaration was published in the official organ of the United Church … and has never been disavowed by the church despite violent efforts on the part of Dr. Stub and others.” This pamphlet said that “the difference between the doctrine on election of the Synod and ours is not a question of two forms of doctrine alone, but of two kinds of teachings …According to our doctrine God truly deals alike with men; but men conduct themselves differently toward His work of grace. This is the cause of the different results of God’s equally converting and saving grace.” Stub (at the same 1911 convention) responded in a sarcastic tone: “They have solved the mystery of election.”
Why, then, was there not more opposition to resuming doctrinal discussions at this point with such declared opponents? Rev. Bjug Harstad recalled that the points in the pamphlet “were rejected in as definite terms as usually.” But then the pamphlet “was left for free acceptance in the assembly.”
After this no serious objections to its contents had been heard, except by a stricken few remains of the old Norwegian Synod; thus the pointers and proofs of false doctrine, contained in this instrument from the United Church committee, must have been conclusive to our committee and many others.
The Doctrinal Compromise: OpgjØr (1911-1912)
The new union committees from the Norwegian Synod and the United Church met only two times before stalemate turned into complete “agreement.”
Their first meeting was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, November 21-24, 1911. Each committee presented its doctrine of election. The Norwegian Synod men afterward said they hadn’t suspected there was such doctrinal difference between the two sides. (They also expressed surprise that the United Church men accepted the Formula of Concord doctrine – showing ignorance of the situation; what the United Church wanted was a concession that the “in-view-of faith” position be given equal status with the Formula of Concord position.)
We can wonder how some of the Norwegian Synod clergy could have been so naïve about the doctrinal positions of each church body in this issue. We can only speculate, but ignorance surely played a part.
After the complete break in 1887 the majority of our people had tired of the controversy, so that they let it suffice to blame the opposition for the controversy, which they regarded as unnecessary, and neglected to continue to study the issues involved. Thus they became more and more ignorant of those issues, while the opposition by continuing their propaganda against our Synod kept the issues for which they had contended fresh in mind. When the opposition began to appear more friendly, many of our pastors who had stood firm seemed to feel that the matter was now just about solved. 
The committees decided to continue negotiations, and designated a sub-committee of 2 men from each synod to prepare theses for the next meeting. It was held Feb. 14-22, 1912. Coming out of the last session, one of the Norwegian Synod men was asked, “Well, did you get what you wanted?” He replied, “Not exactly, but we pressed them pretty hard.” Our synod has said: “A better characterization of OpgjØr than this remark has probably never been given.”
On Feb. 22, a telegram came from Madison, signed by J. Nordby (Norwegian Synod) and N.H. Hegge (United Church), the chairmen of the joint committee: “The committee on church union fully agreed.”
President Stub wrote in the Norwegian Synod’s Kirketidende: “The result is then that these committees together have found a solution satisfactory to both parties … It must be stated: This is from the Lord.” One week later, the text of OpgjØr was printed in Kirketidende. In the United Church, it was greeted with “a storm of jubilation.” Its convention unanimously (except for one dissenting vote) approved it. But the Norwegian Synod began a long debate.
OpgjØr: The Doctrinal Issues
Before we examine what was done with OpgjØr, we need to highlight the points in its text that were at issue over the next 5 years.
1. In the first section, “that doctrine of election which is set forth in Article XI of the Formula of Concord, the so-called First Form, and [that doctrine of election which is set forth in] Pontoppidan’s Truth Unto Godliness, question 548, the so-called Second Form of Doctrine,” is accepted “unanimously and without reservation” (emphasis added).
The issue for OpgjØr’s opponents was, first, that the two positions are “coordinated” – made equal, or equally true; and second, that it was to be accepted “without reservation” – not merely tolerated with reservations.
The objection – and the belief that the first section was nothing but United Church doctrine – was well founded. In 1915, Rev. Theodore Graebner wrote in Lutheran Witness that the text of OpgjØr fulfilled previous demands made by the United Church. This is true of the first section. In 1911, when the United Church established a new union committee, its official publication strongly urged “that the United Church accept the ‘First Form’ of Election, and the Norwegian Synod the ‘Second Form,’ and without restriction (‘uforbeholdent’) declare that no new theses on Election are necessary.” This is, almost word for word, what OpgjØr says in Sections 1 and 2. Section 1 states that both sides “uforbeholdent,” “without reservation,” accept both “forms” of the doctrine, and section 2 declares that no new theses on election are necessary.
From our perspective one of the authors of OpgjØr leveled an even greater indictment against it. After the merger, testifying in court in a case involving church property for the Silver Lake congregation in Northwood, Iowa, Rev. R. Malmin said the word “acknowledge” was the key to understanding the paragraph: “In the church, when we wish to accept any doctrine, we always say that we believe, teach, confess or profess. We discarded all those theological terms, and, instead of that, we selected the term acknowledge or recognize.”
The word “acknowledge” is to be taken in its first sense, to own or admit knowledge of. Applying this sense to the first paragraph of Opgjoer, we can readily see how each party could subscribe to it “without reservation.” Both parties could say without reservation that they had knowledge of the fact that the United Church used the word election in a wider and narrower sense, that the second form is contained in the first, and that the two forms teach the same doctrine of election.
2. In the third section, it is stated that “two forms of doctrine have been used,” then it proceeds to state them, and then it declares: (a) “neither of these two forms of doctrine … contradicts any doctrine revealed in the Word of God, but does full justice to the order of salvation ...” and (b) “we find that this should not be the cause for schism within the Church or disturb [the] unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace …”
The old Norwegian Synod teachers would agree that both positions had been used. They could even agree that the second position didn’t contradict Scripture and the Confessions, if understood correctly and provisionally. But they would have said that the “in-view-of-faith” position couldn’t be made equal with the Formula of Concord position without causing division.
3. The fourth section rejects “every doctrine which … would weaken man’s sense of responsibility in relation to the acceptance or rejection of grace.”
This was the “lightning rod” issue for what became the “large minority” of Norwegian Synod pastors who did not want the merger without changes in the OpgjØr. To credit man with “responsibility” for accepting grace was the position of F.A. Schmidt that the Synod had rejected in the 1880s.
Not long after Opgjoer was adopted the United Church stated clearly that Opgjoer agrees exactly with what Schmidt had fought for. But reading his articles on the controversy a person will soon find Opgjoer’s assertions; for that reason one of Schmidt’s fellow-combatants [in the 1880s Election Controversy], Dr. [F.W.] Stellhorn, immediately expressed his satisfaction with Opgjoer and his joy over the fruit of Schmidt’s testimony.
Again, this part of OpgjØr fulfilled a previous demand made by the United Church. In 1911, Prof. Vignes of the United Church wrote that the anti-Missourians emphasized the notion that man has “some personal responsibility (ansvar) over against (ligeoverfor) the matter of his own salvation,” and he further explained that this means “it is left to [a person’s] own free decision whether he will walk on the path of life or of death.”
The very words of OpgjØr, Section 4, reflect this: “reject every doctrine which … would weaken man’s sense of responsibility (ansvar!) in relation to (ligeoverfor!) the acceptance of grace …” Vignes concluded his 1911 appeal: “The Missourians emphasize God’s sole activity in our conversion; the anti-Missourians, man’s responsibility. Both are needed, each in his province. Let us all be both Missourians and anti-Missourians.” Graebner comments:
A better summary of the Madison Agreement than that contained in the last sentence cannot well be conceived. Through the reference to “responsibility for accepting grace” and the “unreserved” adoption also of the Second Form doctrine, the anti-Missourians, to use the terms of our editorial in 1915, “had their views deposited in the theses” … No wonder the anti-Missourian element in American Lutheranism rejoiced when the text of the Madison Agreement became known, and heralded it as an anti-Missourian victory.
4. In the “Resolution” which accompanied the OpgjØr, the union committees restated Section 1’s “unreserved and unanimous acceptance” of the Formula of Concord doctrine of election and the “in-view-of-faith” doctrine; stated “the essential agreement concerning these doctrines which has been attained is sufficient for church union”; and recommended approval by each synod.
This is not a new point, simply a reiteration of the first controversial point in the OpgjØr. But again it is clear that the “agreement” was no longer merely to “tolerate with reservations” the “in-view-of-faith” position, but to make it equal with the Scriptural and Confessional position, unconditionally.
Reactions to OpgjØr Within the Norwegian Synod (1912)
Those who supported the OpgjØr tried to show that it was the traditional Norwegian Synod doctrinal position. Those who opposed it said that it wasn’t.
At first it appeared that the Norwegian Synod would have Stub’s support for changing the document to protect the Scriptural doctrine of election. On March 27, 1912 (barely a month after the Madison Settlement), Stub told Rev. M.F. Wiese: “Wiese, we must strike paragraph I in OpgjØr” – because, he said, “it encumbered consciences.” At the Minneapolis Special Conference in April, Stub promised to recommend the union committee strike the first paragraph. It never happened. Instead, the authors of OpgjØr explained its intention.
After that, the Synod went through a prolonged discussion of “What does this mean?” President Stub and the Synod men on the union committee answered: “It means we have kept our doctrine.” The United Church theologians and union committee members answered: “It means that you have adopted our doctrine.” It became clear to many that it was a change in doctrine.
The first stage of this was the convening of district conventions in 1912 (there was no general synod convention that year). The Minnesota District conference came first. President Stub spoke in favor of accepting OpgjØr. During the discussion, 3 union committee members were questioned (especially by Prof. Johannes Ylvisaker, a member of the first union committee and the father of S.C. Ylvisaker) about the meaning of the first paragraph and its unqualified acceptance of both doctrinal positions. They answered that the Synod’s committee members accepted “without reservation” the Formula of Concord position, “but can nevertheless recognize as brethren” those who hold the other position; one of them said “this first paragraph is to be understood so that it does not compel us to accept the so-called second form of doctrine.” The Minnesota District president said that OpgjØr was to be accepted in light of these explanations, in light of Stub’s 1910 theses on election, and in light of Koren’s “An Accounting.” It’s not hard to see why it was approved by 209 votes out of 221.
Stub attended the other district conventions, reporting the Minnesota District’s action and pressuring them to do likewise. Bjug Harstad recalled: “We in the Pacific District at any rate were solemnly assured that the Synod’s teaching was now adopted in Stub’s theses and all the loopholes for synergism plugged up.” But the next stage of reaction started to show the real situation.
The United Church began to respond. First, their union committee members did not accept the recent explanations by the Norwegian Synod men. In other words, the statement could not be accepted in light of the explanations.
Second, they made it quite clear that the statement could not be accepted in light of Stub’s 1910 theses on election, to say nothing of Koren’s “An Accounting.” In the fall of 1912, United Church Prof. J.N. Kildahl (a member of the first union committee) stated: “I am in agreement with OpgjØr and am not conscious of having taught anything contrary to it.” In other words, OpgjØr – to his thinking – endorsed his teaching, posing no doctrinal difficulties for him. He also stated at that time: “I am certain that Dr. Dahl, just as I, holds the same opinion concerning Dr. Stub’s theses (concerning election) now as we held before the acceptance of OpgjØr.” In other words, OpgjØr and Stub’s 1910 theses were not compatible. President Dahl and Prof. Kildahl (chief spokesmen for United Church doctrine) still believed Stub’s 1910 theses to be “unbiblical and un-Lutheran,” and did not think OpgjØr unbiblical and un-Lutheran.
Into 1913, the United Church theologians continued to object to the “best construction” interpretations put on OpgjØr by Stub and the Norwegian Synod “majority.” Kildahl, for instance, wrote:
Since Dr. Stub during the whole [1912-1913] winter so vigorously has contended that the Norwegian Synod stands now where Dr. Walther and the Missouri Synod stood at the beginning of the controversy of election, it appears to me that I, for the sake of the truth, ought to declare that I am not agreed with Dr. Stub in this. Dr. Stub finds Dr. Walther’s doctrine in Opgjoer, I do not find it there.
Also S. Gunderson, one of the (United Church) authors of OpgjØr, said in 1913: “The United Church has not changed a tittle of its doctrine, neither has the Synod. OpgjØr is a compromise.”
This showed, even in 1912, that the Norwegian Synod’s doctrinal position was being changed for them – by the United Church and the leaders of the Norwegian Synod, through the text of OpgjØr that was being approved.
Steady Progress Toward Union (1913-1916)
All the districts of the Norwegian Synod had approved OpgjØr. The real question now was how they would proceed toward a Norwegian church merger. However, OpgjØr was not in the past. Remember that the “resolution” connected to it said: “the essential agreement concerning these doctrines which has been attained is sufficient for church union.” The “agreement” on the doctrine of election – the substance of OpgjØr – was the basis for the merger.
The bare outline of progress toward the merger, based on official action by the Synod, would look like this:
1. The union committees of the 3 synods met in the fall of 1912. The Norwegian Synod members said they had no authority to bring about a union agreement immediately.
2. The 1913 Synod convention approved enlarging the union committee’s authority to include discussion of merger and the conditions to bring it about.
3. The 1914 Synod convention approved President Stub’s report (which included results of the joint union committee negotiations) and the report of the convention “union committee.” This included detailed plans for a merger. This was the vote for union. It was the approval of the merger.
4. The 1916 Synod convention approved forming the merger, approved a constitution for the new church, approved incorporating the new church, and approved turning over all Norwegian Synod property to the new church.
But this bare outline leaves out several important “stories”: the story of the large minority’s efforts to change OpgjØr, the story of the political maneuvering by the Synod leadership to squash any efforts that intruded on ecumenical endeavors, and the story of the efforts by sister churches in the Synodical Conference to influence the outcome.
The Synodical Conference
The Synodical Conference – in which the Missouri, Norwegian, and Wisconsin synods enjoyed pulpit and altar fellowship – was involved right away, though in a respectful, brotherly way. Rev. Christian Anderson recalled:
The Norwegian Synod for many years after the organization of the Synodical Conference was a part of this organization. Although the Norwegian Synod … withdrew from the … Conference during the controversy in the Eighties, it still continued to stand in the most intimate fraternal relation to the Synods now composing the Conference. … When negotiations were going on between the three Norwegian Lutheran Churches, the synods of the Synodical Conference were intensely interested in the outcome. They had gone through the same controversies we had.
The churches of the Synodical Conference could not stay removed from the controversy. When Stub started defending OpgjØr in 1912, one of his major defenses was that the doctrine contained in it was the doctrine that Walther and the Missouri Synod had held during the Election Controversy in the 1880s. Stub’s argument was put down (as mentioned above) by the United Church theologian Kildahl. As an “anti-Missourian,” he (and others in the United Church) especially celebrated OpgjØr because he believed that for the Norwegian Synod to accept OpgjØr would lead to a break with Missouri. “The doctrine contained in the Missouri Synod’s reports of the 1877-79 conventions is the doctrine against which we fought; and that doctrine I do not find in OpgjØr.”
Stub and Johannes Ylvisaker attended the 1912 Synodical Conference meeting in Saginaw, Mich., to see how their brothers in faith viewed OpgjØr. The convention spent 2 days reviewing the document, which had been put into English and German. The background to this is important:
The synods of the Synodical Conference were no more satisfied with [Opgjoer] than was a substantial minority within the Norwegian Synod itself. They considered, as we did, the so-called agreement a compromise. And when the Synodical Conference convened for its regular sessions a little later that same year, the sentiment for severing fraternal relations with the Norwegian Synod at once was very strong.
The result of the Synodical Conference’s deliberation was a three-fold request: to eliminate from the first three sections of the document the “coordination” of the two doctrinal positions; to include with the fourth section (the part giving man “responsibility” for “the acceptance of grace) an antithesis which would reject man’s conduct as a reason for conversion; and for “a fraternal discussion” to take place between the Synodical Conference and the Synod.
Accordingly, the Synodical Conference elected a committee of three – H.T. Dau and Franz Pieper of Missouri and John Schaller (later replaced by T. Schlueter) of Wisconsin. Years later, Christian Anderson wrote: “Could they have treated us any more considerately than this … these brethren, who had treated us so generously and had stood so faithfully by our side for more than half a century?” However, the committee was never able to meet with Synod representatives. Stub referred the responsibility for this to the Church Council.
However, it didn’t keep Stub from trying to prejudice the members of the Norwegian Synod against Missouri and Wisconsin. In making his case for OpgjØr and the merger, Stub tried to make the case that the Synodical Conference churches had changed their position, often referring to “New Missouri.”
Two comments about the role of the Synodical Conference at this point:
1. Besides the efforts of the Synodical Conference delegation to meet with the Norwegian Synod leadership, the theological quarterlies of both synods included stern rebukes of OpgjØr. Undoubtedly, this helped bolster the “large minority” in its efforts, especially from 1913 on. But there is little documentation of this besides these later references to the debt owed the Synodical Conference and also the quick re-entry of the little synod into the Conference in 1918.
That the Missouri and Wisconsin synods were seriously questioning OpgjØr is obvious from Stub’s writings from 1913 on. For instance, in his 1916 Progress of the Union Movement, Stub says:
The fact that influence is being exerted against OpgjØr from St. Louis, from Chicago and Wauwatosa is not surprising when one remembers that in both Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod periodicals the second form of the doctrine has been declared to be false doctrine which ought not be tolerated within the Lutheran Church and that therefore merger with a church body which wanted to use the second form of the doctrine would be a denial of the truth.
This should remind us how important it is for brothers in faith to use their fellowship to strengthen one another, even at times by offering a rebuke in order to lead one another back to the “old paths” and the solid rock of the Word.
2. In 1913, Franz Pieper wrote and published Conversion and Election: A Plea for a United Lutheranism in America (original German title: Zur Einigung der amerikanisch-lutherischen Kirche in der Lehre von der Bekehrun und Gnadenwahl), specifically in response to the Madison Agreement. It sparked some controversy in the Synodical Conference. His brother August Pieper and also John Schaller thought that he had been too soft. This was because F. Pieper’s response was less severe than might have been expected. (My opinion: He was writing as a brother to gain a straying brother.) He said in part that OpgjØr could be accepted, if only a few changes were made. However, in no uncertain terms in this work, Pieper rejects what was objectionable to the large minority in the Norwegian Synod: equating the two positions on an equal basis, and crediting with man with “responsibility” for the “acceptance of grace.”
The Large Minority: Victims of Political Maneuvering
Here we join under one heading the other two major “stories” of the years 1913-1916, since they can’t be separated. The so-called “large minority” came about not only because of the doctrine contained in OpgjØr, but also because of Stub’s political maneuvering. “The most heartless church-political ring that ever operated outside of the Catholic church,” Rev. George A. Gullixson said.
First on the list is the fact that right after the Madison Agreement in 1912, Kirketidende (the synod’s official publication) would not accept articles criticizing OpgjØr, and the synod leaders convinced the influential Norwegian-language newspaper not to publish articles that would discourage union. Almost in response to this, “the minority” appeared, publishing on their own what the Synod tried to stifle. Rev. M.F. Wiese began on his own to publish Retledning og Forsvar, “For Guidance and Defense.” His words in the first issue show how the minority was spurred to action by the leadership’s tactics:
It is of course our simple Christian duty to confess the divine truth and to warn against that which violates it. Since we are not getting an opportunity to do this in our Synod’s organs, we are compelled to do it elsewhere. We know very well that this does not please the majority …
Here we should mention the work of Rev. Theodore Graebner. Later a Missouri Synod theological professor, during these years he was a Norwegian Synod pastor and also the editor of Lutheran Herald. In 1912-13 he published a number of articles and editorials critical of OpgjØr and the union movement. In 1913, he resigned his position because of pressing parish work. When he joined the Missouri Synod, he continued to shine a light on the hypocrisies of the leadership’s push for union while writing for Lutheran Witness. This is reflected in his 1921 three-part article in the Lutheran Sentinel, cited above.
The large minority moved into action, again spurred on by the leadership’s actions, in 1913. The Church Council called for a special synod convention (that year no general convention was scheduled, only district conventions). This was a sign that Stub (through his arm, the Church Council) was aggressively pursuing merger. Previously, the minority had been hesitant to campaign against OpgjØr publicly. But now they formulated a petition (called BØnskrift) and sent it to those who were known to be opposed to the Madison Settlement. The authors were Stub’s former seminary colleagues, Johannes Ylvisaker, O.E. Brandt, and E. Hove. It was not a tremendously rebellious document; it wasn’t against the union movement, but advocated church union only on the basis of full doctrinal agreement, and therefore insisted changes in OpgjØr were needed.
Here the minority again were victimized by Stub’s political tactics. Somehow he got hold of a copy of the petition. He had it published to discredit the minority. Stub snidely called it “anonymous,” criticized “the method of procedure they have used,” and at the convention all but denied their right of petition: “It was not the concern of other men to take this matter in their hands and send out a document to secure signatures for its consideration with complete neglect of the body’s chosen committee.” A later evaluator of this history recalled that the minority’s petition “was characterized as rebellion against the Synod.” Rev. Christian Anderson would later call the way Stub handled this: “tactics … to libel the minority.”
The result of this episode was that the minority’s recommendation to the convention that the union committee continue discussing the disputed points in OpgjØr failed, and by a 394-106 vote the convention gave the union committee greater authority to bring about the conditions for a merger to take place.
From 1914 to 1916, there was only more of the same.
We don’t know exactly what Stub and the leadership were doing. But Wiese, in the first issue of “For Guidance and Defense,” gives us a good idea:
These Synod people who are striving to be loyal to their church body’s principles are constantly exposed to attack in a two-fold respect. On the one hand, in the Synod’s organs and in meetings people are trying to run down their character and are not giving them an opportunity to reply. They are being depicted as contentious, aristocratic reactionaries who do not want union at any price but only want to frustrate “the people’s” goal with all kinds of theological finger-pointing and hairsplitting. On the other hand people are trying to split them into different camps by throwing suspicion on one or the other, by sowing doubt about the individual’s determination and trustworthiness, by holding out to individuals the prospect of certain concessions, or even by threatening them with loss of office.
Stub kept using his “bully pulpit,” in his reports at synod conventions and in Kirketidende, writing that OpgjØr was the position of Koren, Preus and Walther. To this end he wrote Progress of the Union Movement in 1916.
Meanwhile, the merger preparations had been set in motion at the special convention of 1913. In 1914, the minority recommended the appointment of a “peace committee” to the synod convention, but lost the vote 327-173; instead, the convention passed the report of the convention union committee 360-170. As mentioned previously, this was the vote for union and approval of the merger. At the 1916 convention, several motions to delay the impending action failed. The constitution for the new merger church was on the agenda. A substitute motion (signed by 94) to ask the United Church to grant the changes in OpgjØr failed. Instead, the convention approved the new church’s constitution 520-103, approved forming the merger (491-187), voted to incorporate the new church, and approved turning over all Synod property to the new church.
An illustration of this period is given by Rev. Bjug Harstad:
O.K. Teisberg of Stoughton, Wis., reports this: “During the Synod meeting at Sioux Falls, 1914, Dr. Stub met me on the street the morning when the voting on the articles of union should take place. I greeted him, and he said to me that I now must be a good boy and vote for union. I must not be so stubborn as before. I then asked him, Are the church bodies now united in faith? He answered, Yes, they have now become united. Then I asked him if he himself had changed position in doctrine since the days of the controversy? To this he answered, No, he stood firm on the same points in doctrine as before. I further asked if the United Church had changed standpoint. To this he answered that the United Church stood on the same point as before. I asked him, then, how he could say that there was unity in doctrine between the church bodies, when both bodies stood on the same standpoint as before? To this Dr. Stub answered that all this must now be forgotten and stricken out.”
The Final Days of the Old Synod (1916-1917)
This part of the history is the story of what happened to the large minority. This paper, in fact, is not so much about our synod as it is a question, first, of how the majority of the Norwegian Synod could accept OpgjØr and go into the merger; and second, how such a determined “large minority” could, in the end, be whittled down to the 13 pastors who met in Lime Creek in 1918 to begin the reorganized Norwegian Synod.
As soon as the 1916 synod convention had approved the constitution of the merger church, the minority presented a declaration with 176 signatures. It said, in part: “Since it has been decided to force union through without paying the least attention to the request for changes in OpgjØr … unless these changes are conceded, [the minority] cannot go into the new body, but is forced to maintain the Synod, continue its work, and protect its interests.”
During 1916, the Minority had several meetings with the joint union committee, in a final attempt to try to gain the changes in OpgjØr. Their representatives were C.K. Preus and I.B. Torrison. The joint union committee never would accept any changes to OpgjØr. But at a meeting at Austin, Minnesota, the joint union committee issued an invitation to the minority to join the new church, in spite of their “reservations” about OpgjØr, “as full equals and with mutual fraternal recognition.” This is called the “Austin Agreement.”
Preus and Torrison accepted the agreement, and at a meeting of the minority in January 1917 recommended that they all accept it. The majority of pastors present at that meeting (150-200) agreed to accept the Austin Agreement. But in its final form, the Austin Agreement that was presented to the 1917 Norwegian Synod convention by the joint union committee included this addition: “It is self-evident that the above resolution must not be interpreted in such a way that OpgjØr, as the basis of union of the three contracting church bodies, thereby is abbreviated or changed.”
What did this mean? It meant that most of the determined minority joined the new church, believing their doctrinal position was acknowledged and recognized; but in reality, they joined a church whose theology was that of the “unchanged” OpgjØr. This was the theology of the United Church, the anti-Missourians who had opposed Koren, Walther, etc., in the 1880s.
In a 1919 article in the Lutheran Sentinel, it’s noted that Stub – at that time president of the new church – declared: “OpgjØr is adopted by the three churches. No change in OpgjØr as the basis for the union of the three churches, has been made. … Those who had scruples of conscience … have declared that they can be along in the union as full equals and with mutual fraternal recognition. And why can that be done? Because, these differences are not a cause for dividing the church.” The writer of the article then says:
What was it then that the minority attained? What did it get? What did it amount to? It got leave to be along in the New Church body in spite of its different understanding of Opgjoer. This was what the minority got. And on this basis the minority today stands in the New Church. … One can imagine what position in the New Church that part of the minority has which let itself be deceived into going into the union on a basis which did not exist.
We can get a clear picture of what these issues meant, when we hear the testimony of those who entered the merger for a short time but then withdrew. The testimony of such pastors as Norman A. Madson, C.J. Quill, Justin Petersen, H.M. Tjernagel, and S.C. Ylvisaker at the very least is their courage to leave the large synod and return to the Norwegian Synod, little and fledgling though it was. But we do have some of their comments too.
In a Dec. 13, 1918, letter to his brother, shortly before his withdrawal, S.C. Ylvisaker said: “You know that I have wanted to take this step for a long time, but have waited because others have said I ought to let the body show what it would do. To remain longer than this year, I feel, is going to be positively harmful to my Christianity.”
S.C. Ylvisaker’s father, Johannes, who had been a leader in the large minority, entered the merger church under the Austin Agreement and died in 1918. Presumably he too would have withdrawn after a short time. At his death, Franz Pieper wrote: “He stood on the side of the minority, which held that changes must be made at three points in OpgjØr before it would serve as a union platform for loyal Lutherans. What induced him who has now fallen asleep to join the new body in spite of its declaration that OpgjØr must remain unaltered – about this we have no definite information.”
Rev. C.J. Quill in 1922 withdrew from the merger church, and published his declaration of withdrawal in the Lutheran Sentinel. In part he said:
I was opposed to Opgjoer unaltered as the basis for union and did always vote against it, which, no doubt, you know. But did I not enter the union with the Minority on The Austin Agreement? Carried along by implicit confidence in the brethren, who championed the Minority cause, by misconceptions, and neglect of due consideration, the blame for which is all my own, I did enter. But it was with much reluctance I did that.
The history of 1917-1918, the final convention of the old synod, the first convention of the merger church, and the first convention of the reconstituted Norwegian Synod at Lime Creek, has been told many times and need not be rehearsed here. But it is good to note a few things about what the first years brought to those who did not join the merger.
They continually had to relive the history of OpgjØr, often against their will. They observed their former brothers and sisters in the faith taking part in the formation of the National Lutheran Council. Those who had known H.G. Stub for many years were horrified to hear that he had sponsored a resolution for the National Lutheran Council that read: “A polemic attitude should be abandoned, and if manifested, ignored.” But this was not the worst.
They continued to be harassed in various ways. Rev. George Lillegard wrote: “Lawsuits, petty persecution, ridicule, and gossip have been the stock in trade of that Church against the Synod.” The churches of the little synod were involved in court cases over their right to church property. Stub questioned their right to the name “Norwegian Synod” in these words: “the tiny little obstructionist church body which calls itself the Norwegian Synod – to which it has no right,” and: “this little church body has no right to exist, and its accusations against the Norwegian Lutheran Church are without foundation.”
What do we do with this history? In one sense, we do not thank God for the trouble which the evil foe was able to cause among the people of the old Norwegian Synod. But in another sense, we do thank God. U.V. Koren said: “We brought this unadulterated Gospel with us from our mother church in Norway, but we had not acquired a truly clear insight into its glory, in opposition to all errors, until we came here, where both the free church conditions and the controversies which we have had to carry on have, under divine guidance, confirmed us in the old truths” (emphasis added).
The words of Norwegian Synod President Bjug Harstad to the 1921 convention are fitting words with which to close this review of our history:
Let us lay the following words of Dr. V. Koren on our hearts. He says: “But although after this gracious leading of the Lord, and (the connection with the Missouri Synod) both Law and Gospel rang both purer and stronger in the public testimony, although the comprehension of the hearers grew, in many places to a surprising degree, and although joyous fruits in an earnest Christian life showed themselves round about in the congregations – not only in the older people but perhaps even more in the younger, the first generation growing up here in this country – yet however the congregations of the Synod continued to a large extent to bear the sorrowful marks of the mass- and false-Christianity of the state church.” We must rid ourselves of these marks. Since the opposing parties merged, the Synod is tempted to be in competition with them in size and power. I wonder whether the Lord has now been able to cure us of this illness. In any case, we ought all, pastors and congregations, know we are called not to be great and mighty before the world but only to everyone knowing for himself the power of grace to save souls. Then we must work against mass- and false-Christianity in our own congregations.
Aaberg, Theodore. A City Set On a Hill. Mankato, Minn.: ELS Publications Board, 1968.
Anderson, Christian. “Can Such Action Be Justified Before God and Man?”, Lutheran Sentinel, October 15, 1919, Vol. III, p. 250-255.
Anderson, Christian. “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown of the Old Norwegian Synod,” Clergy Bulletin, September 1953, Vol. 13.
Anderson, Christian. “Why the Norwegian Synod?”, Clergy Bulletin, Oct.-Nov. 1955, Vol. 14.
Edwards, Robert. “The Selling of the Madison Opgjoer,” Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary church history paper, 1979.
Fredrich, E.C. The Twentieth Century Shaping of United States Lutheranism,
Ferkenstad, Craig. “The Way of Opgjoer,” Lutheran Synod Quarterly, March 1993, Vol. XXXIII, No. 2, p. 3-19. Mankato, Minn.: Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Grace for Grace, ed. S.C. Ylvisaker, Christian Anderson, George Lillegard. Mankato, Minn.: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1943.
Graebner, Theodore. “A Rejoinder: ‘New Missouri,’ ” Lutheran Sentinel, March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 580-584.
Graebner, Theodore. “A Rejoinder: Light on the Origin of Opgjoer,” Lutheran Sentinel, March 30, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 610-614.
Graebner, Theodore. “A Rejoinder: When the Smoke Screen Lifts,” Lutheran Sentinel, April 13, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 652-655.
Gullixson, George A. “Dr. H.G. Stub’s Reply,” Lutheran Sentinel, March 2, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 551-556; March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 585-590.
Harstad, Bjug. “Pioneer Days of the Norwegian Synod,” Beretning om Det ellevte aarlige Synodemoede. 1928.
Harstad, Bjug. “President’s Report,” Beretning om det fjerde aarlige Synodemoede, 1921 (unpublished English translation by J.H. Larson).
Harstad, Peter, ed. Sigurd Christian Ylvisaker:1884-1959, A Commemmorative Volume. Mankato, Minn.: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1984.
Hendricks, John. “The Basis of the Union,” Lutheran Sentinel, Nov. 10, 1920, Vol. IV, p. 290-302.
Holt, B.M. “My Reasons For Opposing the Norwegian Lutheran Church,” Lutheran Sentinel, August 4, 1920, Vol. IV, p. 69-78.
Lillegard, George O. “Has the Norwegian Synod the Right to Exist?”, Lutheran Sentinel, Feb. 18, 1920, Vol. III, p. 536-539.
Lutheran Sentinel, “What Is the Issue?”, Sept. 17, 1919, Vol. III, p. 186; October 29, 1919, Vol. III.
Moldstad, John A. “The Sacredness of the Ancient Landmark,” Report of the 27th Regular Convention of the Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1944, p. 17-23.
Pieper, Franz. Conversion and Election: A Plea for a United Lutheranism in America. St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1913.
Preus, Herman A. “History of Norwegian Lutherans in America to 1917,” Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, October 1967, Vol. 40, No. 3.
Preus, J.C.K. A Critical Look. Minneapolis, Minn., 1978.
Quill, C.J. “Declaration of Withdrawal,” Lutheran Sentinel, May 10, 1922, Vol. V, p. 708-710.
Schuetze, Armin W. The Synodical Conference: Ecumenical Endeavor. Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Publishing House.
Stub, H.G. Progress of the Union Matter (unpublished translation by J.H. Larson).
Teigen, Torald N. Book Review: “The Lutheran Church Among Norwegian Americans, by E. Clifford Nelson and Eugene Fevold,” Clergy Bulletin, December 1960, Vol. 20.
“The National Lutheran Council,” Proceedings of the Third Annual Convention of the Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1920, p. 64-90.
The Union Documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, 1948.
Thoen, J.E. “The Objection of the Norwegian Synod to the First Paragraph of ‘Opgjoer,’ ” Beretning om Det Syvende aarlige Synodemoede af Den norske Synode (1924 Synod Report), p. 47-65.
“Unity, Union, and Unionism,” Lutheran Synod Quarterly, September 1993, Vol. XXXIII, No. 3, p. 16-44. Mankato, Minn.: Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Wiese, M.F. Retledning og Forsvar #1 (For Guidance and Defense, 1st Issue), unpublished translation by J.H. Larson.
Wolf, Richard C., ed. Documents of Lutheran Unity in America. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966.
Ylvisaker, S.C. “A Plea,” Lutheran Sentinel, February 4, 1920, Vol. III, p. 498-504.
Ylvisaker, S.C. “What Constitutes a Declaration?”, Lutheran Sentinel, April 28, 1920, Vol. III, p. 707-711.
 Christian Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown of the Old Norwegian Synod,” a Norwegian Synod General Pastoral Conference essay printed in Clergy Bulletin, September 1953, Vol. 13, p. 6.
 The Union Documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, p. 38-39.
 This is well summarized in “The Basis of the Union” by Rev. John Hendricks, Lutheran Sentinel, Nov. 10, 1920, Vol. IV, No. 19, p. 291-292. The point is underscored in a presentation to the 1920 (third) convention of the little Norwegian Synod. At that time the merger church (Norwegian Lutheran Church in America) was a member of the National Lutheran Council. From an evaluation of theses on Election adopted by the NLC in 1919: “This paragraph states that ‘the causes of Election to salvation are the mercy of God and the most holy merit of Christ; nothing in us on account of which God has elected us to eternal life. We reject all forms of synergism and all forms of Calvinism.’ During the controversy which the Old Synod had about this doctrine our opponents always denied that they taught synergism – man’s co-operation with God in conversion. This being the case a confession by accepting the Formula of Concord is not sufficient. … In examining this paragraph we find a very serious omission, nothing is said regarding the position of faith in Election. Any one is permitted to teach that faith is a ‘necessary perquisite of Election’ or that we are elected ‘in view of faith’ or ‘on account of faith.’ This un-Biblical doctrine changes the relation of faith and thereby the NATURE of faith. … If we push faith out of the eternal decree of Election and place it ahead of Election we thereby not only change its position but also its nature, it no longer remains a fruit of Election, but it becomes the necessary prerequisite of Election, something which guided and determined God in forming His elective decree. Dr. Koren says: ‘If this, that God foresaw faith, is the thing that guided and determined God in Election, then the term “in view of faith” is false.’” Proceedings of the Third Annual Convention …, p. 86-87.
 Franz Pieper, Conversion and Election: A Plea for a United Lutheranism in America, p. 19.
 H.G. Stub, Progress of the Union Matter, excerpts from Parts IV and VI(unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson).
 From En Redegjoerelse, “An Accounting,” written in 1884 by U.V. Koren and signed by more than 100 Synod pastors; quoted in Grace for Grace,p. 183, and in The Union Documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, p. 57.
 Quoted in Grace for Grace, p. 183-184.
 In “An Accounting,” Koren wrote: “We do not acknowledge [this position] as the presentation of Scripture and the Formula of Concord” (Grace for Grace, p. 183). One pastor who lived through the Opgjoer battle wrote: “You may ask: Did not many good pious men use this term, “Elected on account of Faith” and still maintain a correct doctrine of Faith, of Conversion, and of Justification? We answer, they did. But we claim that these pious men did not maintain this correct doctrine of Faith, of Conversion, and of Justification because they followed this man-made theory, “Elected on account of Faith,” but because they left this system and clung to the Word of God and the Formula of Concord” (Hendricks, p. 299, emphasis in the original).
 “Dr. Stub’s Reply (continued),” Lutheran Sentinel, March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 585-587 (emphasis in the original).
 Christian Anderson, “Why the Norwegian Synod?”, Clergy Bulletin, Oct.-Nov. 1955, Vol. XIV, p. 19-20.
 Grace for Grace, p. 98.
 Anderson, “Why the Norwegian Synod?”, p. 22.
 Bjug Harstad, “President’s Report,” Beretning om det fjerde aarlige Synodemoede, 1921, unpublished English translation by Rev. J.H. Larson.
 Gustav M. Bruce, “A Brief History of Union Negotiations,” in The Union Documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, p. 7.
 “The old committee of the United Church consisted of the theological professors and the president of that church. They were competent men, who knew and taught the accepted doctrines of their church.” J.E. Thoen, “The Objection of the Norwegian Synod to the First Paragraph of ‘Opgjoer,’ ” in Beretning om Det Syvende aarlige Synodemoede af Den norske Synode (1924 Synod Report), p. 50.
 From “What Hinders Church Union Among Us” by H.G. Stub, 1911 pamphlet, quoted by Bjug Harstad in “Pioneer Days of the Norwegian Synod,” Beretning om Det ellevte aarlige Synodemoede. 1928, p. 53.
 B.M. Holt, “My Reasons For Opposing the Norwegian Lutheran Church,” Lutheran Sentinel, August 4, 1920, Vol. IV, p. 77. Holt was a layman in the little Norwegian Synod. For this article, he polled various clergy in the Merger church about whether they had changed their doctrinal position as a result of the Opgjoer.
 Lutheran Sentinel, “A Plea,” February 4, 1920, Vol. III, p. 498-504; and “What Constitutes a Declaration?”, April 28, 1920, Vol. III, p. 707-711.
 Lutheran Sentinel: George A. Gullixson, “Dr. H.G. Stub’s Reply,” March 2, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 553-554; and Theodore Graebner, “A Rejoinder,” March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 584.
 From correspondence with Rev. J.H. Larson, who has translated some of Stub’s writings: “In today’s nomenclature he no doubt would have been labeled ‘gifted and talented.’ He was devoted to the Truth and the synod. He wrote/presented papers at district and synod-wide conventions on the Bible as the Word of God, Reconciliation and Justification; Koren said he could only underscore all that Stub had said on those occasions. Simply stated, Stub was not someone who shot up out of nowhere and suddenly found himself Synod president. He drew upon Scripture, the Confessions, the theologians of the distant past, the synod’s ‘fathers’ of his youth … When he writes/speaks about election, he has En Redegjoerelse (An Accounting) in mind and wants only to speak in total agreement with it.”
 Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown of the Old Norwegian Synod,” p. 6.
 Reprinted in Documents of Lutheran Unity in America, edited by Richard C. Wolf, p. 232.
 “Unity, Union, and Unionism,” reprinted in Lutheran Synod Quarterly, September 1993, Vol. XXXIII, No. 3, p. 35.
 Quoted by George A. Gullixson in “Dr. Stub’s Reply,” Lutheran Sentinel, March 2, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 588.
 Anderson, “Why the Norwegian Synod?”, p. 20.
 The summary of these events is from information written not only in Grace for Grace and A City Set On a Hill, but also in Unity, Union, and Unionism, p. 35-37; J.E. Thoen, “The Objection of the Norwegian Synod to the First Paragraph of Opgjoer,” p. 47-48; Bjug Harstad, “President’s Report” to the 1921 Synod Convention (unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson); and “A Brief History of Union Negotiations” by Gustav M. Bruce in The Union Documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, p. 8-10.
 Bruce, “A Brief History of Union Negotiations,” p. 9.
 Thoen, p. 48.
 Harstad, “President’s Report” to the 1921 Synod Convention, unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson.
 Harstad, “Pioneer Days …,” p. 54.
 Harstad, “President’s Report” to the 1921 Synod Convention, unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson.
 Bruce, p. 10.
 Bruce, p. 10-11.
 Bruce, p. 11; and Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown …,” p. 4-5.
 Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown …,” p. 5.
 John A. Moldstad, “The Sacredness of the Ancient Landmark,” Report of the 27th Regular Convention …, p. 23.
 Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown …,” p. 5.
 Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown …,” p. 5.
 Gullixson, “Dr. Stub’s Reply (continued),” Lutheran Sentinel, March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 586.
 Moldstad, “The Sacredness of the Ancient Landmark,” p. 23.
 Anderson, “The Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown…,” p. 6.
 Bruce, p. 12-14.
 Unity, Union, and Unionism, p. 37.
 Ylvisaker, “What Constitutes a Declaration?”, Lutheran Sentinel, April 28, 1920, Vol. III, p. 709.
 Gullixson, “Dr. Stub’s Reply (continued),” Lutheran Sentinel, March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 588.
 Harstad, Pioneer Days …, p. 56.
 Anderson, “Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown …,” p. 4.
 Unity, Union, and Unionism, p. 37.
 Harstad, Pioneer Days …, p. 61-62.
 Bruce, p. 15-16. Rev. John Hendricks wrote in the Lutheran Sentinel, Nov. 10, 1920: “In 1912 our opponents accepted Opgjoer unreservedly with only one dissenting vote. Indeed a most remarkable happening. From coast to coast the secular press and the ecclesiastical press announced: Full Agreement. Only a handful of reactionaries within the Synod dared to harbor doubts as to the reality of this remarkable happening.” Sentinel, Vol. IV, p. 300.
 Theodore Graebner, “A Rejoinder: Light on the Origin of Opgjoer,” Lutheran Sentinel, March 30, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 610-611.
 J.E. Thoen, “The Objection of the Norwegian Synod to the First Paragraph of Opgjoer,” p. 62-63.
 Harstad, “President’s Report” to the 1921 Synod Convention, unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson.
 Graebner, p. 611-612.
 Harstad, Pioneer Days …, p. 62-63; “What Is the Issue?”, Lutheran Sentinel, Sept. 17, 1919, Vol. III, p. 185-186.
 Harstad, “President’s Report” to the 1921 Synod Convention, unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson.
 Ylvisaker, “A Plea,” Lutheran Sentinel, February 4, 1920, Vol. III, p. 499-500.
 Thoen, “The Objection of the Norwegian Synod …,” p. 62.
 In this section we draw heavily on an article written by Rev. Christian Anderson in 1919, in which he responds to slanders from H.G. Stub – then president of the new merger church – charging that the little Norwegian Synod was urging the Missouri Synod to “carry on propaganda in the congregations which belong to the Norwegian Lutheran Church.” Anderson reviews Stub’s invective against the Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference in 1912ff. “Can Such Action Be Justified Before God and Man?”, Lutheran Sentinel, October 15, 1919, Vol. III, p. 250-255.
 Theodore Graebner, The Lutheran Herald, May 15, 1913, Vol. VIII, p. 457, quoted in “The Selling of the Madison Opgjoer,” a Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary church history paper by Robert Edwards (1979).
 Anderson, “Can Such Action …,” p. 253.
 Armin W. Schuetze, The Synodical Conference: Ecumenical Endeavor, p. 124-125.
 Anderson, “Can Such Action …,” p. 253.
 Documented in “Can Such Action …,” by Christian Anderson, and in “A Rejoinder: ‘New Missouri,’ ” by Theodore Graebner, Lutheran Sentinel, March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 580-584.
 Stub, Progress of the Union Movement, unpublished translation by Rev. J.H. Larson.
 Edwards, p. 10-11; E.C. Fredrich II, The Twentieth Century Shaping of United States Lutheranism, p. 11-12; Franz Pieper, Conversion and Election: A Plea for a United Lutheranism in America.
 “Dr. Stub’s Reply (continued),” Lutheran Sentinel, March 16, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 586.
 M.F. Wiese, Retledning og Forsvar #1 (For Guidance and Defense, 1st Issue), unpublished trans. by J.H. Larson.
 Quoted in Aaberg, A City Set On a Hill, p. 56-57.
 “What Is the Issue?”, Lutheran Sentinel, Sept. 17, 1919, Vol. III, p. 186.
 Anderson, “Can Such Action Be Justified …?”, p. 250.
 Wiese, Retledning og Forsvar #1 (For Guidance and Defense, 1st Issue), unpublished trans. by J.H. Larson.
 Harstad, Pioneer Days …, p. 63.
 “What Is the Issue?”, Lutheran Sentinel, September 17, 1919, Vol. III, p. 187.
 “What Is the Issue? (continued),” Lutheran Sentinel, October 29, 1919, Vol. III, p. 280-281 (emphasis in original).
 Sigurd Christian Ylvisaker:1884-1959, A Commemmorative Volume, ed. Peter Harstad, p. 77.
 Graebner, “A Rejoinder: When the Smoke Screen Lifts,” Lutheran Sentinel, April 13, 1921, Vol. IV, p. 654-655.
 “Declaration of Withdrawal,” Lutheran Sentinel, May 10, 1922, Vol. V, p. 709.
 Holt, “My Reasons for Opposing the Norwegian Lutheran Church,” p. 75.
 George Lillegard, “Has the Norwegian Synod the Right to Exist?”, Luth. Sentinel, Feb. 18, 1920, Vol. III, p. 536.
 Lillegard, “Has the Norwegian Synod the Right to Exist?”, p. 536.
 Harstad, “President’s Report,” 1921 Synod Convention, unpublished translation by J.H. Larson.