Friday, February 03, 2012

Speaking of the Apocalpyse

We'd be grateful for a little help here, particularly from a reader with access to a good seminary library. It relates to Sign of the Apocalypse #1.

Years ago, we were killing time in Krauth Memorial Library, when we stumbled across a little pamphlet on the ever-popular subject of Lutheran communion practices. Like Augustine, we heard a voice cry tolle, lege -- and like Augustine, we complied.

There wasn't much in the booklet that we didn't know. To make a long story short: those little shot glasses that some people use for the Blood of Christ were introduced in the 1890s. They were an instant hit with many Protestants, averse to those newly-discovered monstrosities called "germs."

Lutherans, in those days at least, were more averse to change than to microbes. Pastors in Pennsylvania asked for an opinion, and the Ministerium answered with a firm "Nein." Or nicht, whatever. A couple of years later, the subject came up; pastors in union churches worried that their members would run off to the shot-glass-slurping Reformed communities; the Ministerium responded, literally, according to an account in the Reading Eagle, "Let them go."

And of course, it came up again a few years afterward. This little pamphlet was a response, not from the Ministerium but from the faculty of the seminary at Philadelphia, drafted by its president, who was also a fine liturgical theologian. The faculty had also given little cups a big thumbs-down.

We read the booklet with delight, enjoying the arguments and wishing they had been more widely heard. And as we read, none other than Gordon Lathrop walked past us, and said good evening. We pointed to the pamphlet, and said, "Have you seen this?"

He nodded a little sadly. "Right there at the beginning," he said, "and they already understood the whole problem."

Here's the thing: we can't, after all these years, recall the argument that Jacobs and his colleagues used. Oh, we could re-imagine it, but we would really like to get the details right. It's not on the net, so far as we can tell; certainly not at projects Gutenberg or Wittenberg, nor the Internet Archive, and Google Books gives us a tantalizing link and a 404 error.

On the contrary, there's a quite different article published by the United Brethren, and later printed in Lutheran Quarterly, which makes the opposite point. But we don't care so much what the brethren thought; we care very much what our ancestors did.

So here's the appeal: could somebody at a [Lutheran] seminary track this down for us? Here is the title:

Henry Eyster Jacobs, “The Individual Communion Cup: Opinion of the Faculty of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia — At the request of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States,” (Philadelphia, PA, 1903).

We're pretty sure it is out of copyright, since its pre-1923 and all the authors are long dead.

If some kindly soul could scan this and post it on the net (or let us do it), the said soul will have performed a service to scholarship.


Daniel Spigelmyer said...

I could scan that and email it to you if you provide an address. I'm currently at LTSP.

stynxno said...

alas, General doesn't have it (though does have a few of his other writings).

Noah said...

I'm at LTSP. I'll see if the archives or the library has a copy of this.

Father Anonymous said...

Thanks, guys. I'm sure the LTSP library does have it -- 20 years ago, it was sitting on the shelves, but they may have transferred it to a special collection. (I hope they did; it's old, small and fragile).

By the way, LTSP also owns Jacobs' unpublished memoirs, in an old spiral-bound xerox copy. An incredibly valuable unpublished work, waiting to be edited -- if you're ever looking for a good thesis proposal.

Father Anonymous said...

By the way, none of us should post our email addresses straight to the blog; not all readers are equally ... civil.

But you can reach me at my "buffer" address:
PastorMichael [at]

stynxno said...

Honestly, this blog post intriqued me and since I have to write a church history paper on something that hasn't really been researched, I've been digging around for more data about the response to individual communion cups. Is it possible that this was reprinted in the minutes PA ministerium in 1900 on page 161? Google books has that:

Or is that from a prior response?

Father Anonymous said...

Nice find. Very nicve indeed.

I'm not sure if this is the same document -- I recall it being longer, and signed by Jacobs. My guess is that, since the discussion certainly didn't go away, the Ministerium kept returning to the subject, in this case a few years later. And by the way, look at how the request to the faculty was phrased n the Minutes -- it wasn't a request for an opinion one way or another, but for a solid explanation of why the idea was bad.

But this 1903 document certainly expresses the same ideas, most especially the one that I have been repeating on this blog for years: "The fact that a thing is adiaphoron doesn't mean it is not important." It's very well done.

Now, as a technical matter, my access to Google Books is irregular here (intellectual property and eastern Europe are a bad mix). I could only read the djvu file on Internet Archive. Is there a way to get a copy or a scan of this report to me?

I'll happily post it on Scribd; I think the whole discussion in the Pennsylvania Ministerium should be documented carefully and publicly, because its a great story.

Father Anonymous said...
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Father Anonymous said...
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stynxno said...

I've posted it here on my site. Feel free to crib it and post it elsewhere. Now I need to find a copy of the 1895 minutes.