"Lutheran Customs" by Marmaduke Carter
Christian News, February 25, 2013, Vol. 51, No. 08
A “Firestorm” is raging within The Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod because Dr. Matthew Harrison initially defended what “Only Scripture” and the LCMS’s constitution says about religious unionism. When the fire-storm arose, Harrison apologized for some of what he had written in a statement asking a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor to apologize for worshipping with Muslims, Jews, Bahai’s, Roman Catholics, and liberal Protestants in Newtown, CT. After giving the benediction at the service, the LCMS pastor said that all those present could seek spiritual comfort from the clergyman of their belief.
The February 13, 1995 Christian News was a special issue for Black History Month titled “Only Scripture”. It includes a 62 page pamphlet by Marmaduke Carter titled “Lutheran Customs – A Popular Presenta tion of Some Practices of the Lutheran Church.” The firestorm in the LCMS again showed that many within the LCMS know little about what the LCMS has always taught. LCMS pastors throughout the nation should encourage their members to read Marmaduke Carter’s “Lutheran Customs”. The famous LCMS pastor preached in both English and German. The CN editor heard the powerful speaker preach at a Reformation Rally in 1955 in Rochester, New York.
Carter wrote in a section on prayer fellowship in his pamphlet Lutheran Customs:
“Reverend, there is one thing that got pretty close to me. I attended a public function where all the preachers of the city were present and sat on the platform. Several of them prayed. They passed around the different activities so that each denomination would be represented. But I did not see the Lutheran pastor. I learned later that he had told the committee that he would attend only on the condition that they would not call upon him to pray, nor to participate in any of the religious doings. Reverend, how about that? Just what is a minister for? Do you Lutheran ministers think you are better than anyone else? Do you look upon other Christians as being non-Christians?”
“We shall try to answer your last question first. The Lutheran pastor does not go about weighing his goodness alongside that of other men. He is too busy realizing that in and of himself there is no inherent goodness at all. But we try to be honest and consistent. What would you think of a man who would attend a Republican rally tonight and endorse all their principles, and then go to a Democratic rally tomorrow night and promise to support their ticket? You would say of such a man that he is neither fish nor fowl, and is too big a humbug to be entrusted with the right of suffrage.
“We do not dare to say that others are not Christians. We would tremble and shiver at our own audacity were we to say such a thing. We hold that wherever the Word of God is preached as it should be, the Holy Spirit is going to beget children for God. If they lean only upon the grace of God, they are going to be saved, not because of the errors to be found in their church organizations, but in spite of them. Now there are differences between the denominations. In politics a Democrat is a Democrat, and a Republican is a Republican and may never the twain shall merge. I am a Lutheran. That means I am not a Baptist, or a Methodist or a Presbyterian, and cannot be one of those while I am a Lutheran. Why not be honest in word and practice and say what I am and what I am not. This talk about all aiming for the same heaven is just thin whitewash. I have invited some of them to carry out their statement that there are no differences, and prove their sincerity by coming over and joining my church. But they invariably back away. They say we are all aiming at the same thing, but I cannot get them to aim with my shotgun.
“What does it mean when I engage in prayer fellowship with a man of another faith? It means that in joining him in the act of praying or apparent praying, I am accepting and endorsing his ideas, convictions and doctrines as well as the doctrinal position of the church body to which he belongs. If he is a Baptist, it means that I am fellowshipping with him and with all Baptists. When I practice prayer fellowship with him, I am thereby saying that he is right, and by the same token, since we are different, I am saying that my church, the Lutheran Church, is wrong. It means that I am no longer a Lutheran, because I have entered into prayer fellowship and hence doctrinal fellowship with a church body different from the Lutheran. It means when I return to my own camp and say I am a Lutheran, I am either a fool or a liar, because I have countenanced all the teachings of the Baptists. If I fellowship with him in prayer and at the same time in my heart denounce his doctrines, I am a hypocrite and a traitor. By such an act of fellowship I am saying to the world that we are one in doctrine and practice. I have torn down the wall that separates us. If my doctrinal conscience is not ready or refuses to let me tear down that wall, I should not go through the motion of doing so.
“Only Scripture” is the title of CN’s February 13, 1995 Special issue for Black History Month. (It is available from CN for $2.50) The lead article said:
“In the Lutheran Church the notions, ideas, doctrines and commandments of men have no place unless they agree fully with the Scriptures” wrote Dr. Marmaduke Carter, one of the pioneer black ministers in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the former Synodical Conference, in a booklet titled “Lutheran Customs—A Popular Presentation of Some Practices of the Lutheran Church.” Carter’s 62-page “Lutheran Customs” appears in this issue of Christian News as the nation observes Black History Month. Dr. Robert King, Second Vice-president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said that Carter, spoke for most of the black pastors in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. All of them had a deep loyalty to the Bible and Lutheran Confessions. Dr. Robert King, succeeded Carter as pastor of St. Philip’s Lutheran Church, Chicago, Illinois—King remains a great admirer of Carter. On January 24 King spoke about Carter and “Lutheran Customs” at a pastoral conference held at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Freedom, Missouri, where King is now the pastor.
Carter wrote in 1946 when he was the pastor of St. Philip’s Lutheran Church, that “While we have Christian liberty in connection with many of our customs, none of them may be at variance with the word of God. If they are, they must go.”
According to Marmaduke Carter, who preached all over the U.S. in both English and German, the Bible “contains no errors or mistakes of any kind, in connection with any matter, even of a secular nature.”
Commenting on the business of the church, Carter noted: “No raffles. No bingo. No bunko. Neither should the church be a begging institution. If she is at the begging state, do the thing squarely, and go and ‘get on relief.’”
In a section noting that the Bible teaches infant baptism, Carter said: “It should be plain to you now that a sponsor for a Lutheran child, in a Lutheran congregation, must himself be a Lutheran.”
He states in a chapter on the Lord’s Supper: “As Lutherans we hold, with the Scriptures, that the Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and drink, instituted by Christ Himself.’ ‘There is in our circles not one case on record where any person has been infected by the use of one cup.” The black pastor defends the LCMS’s official policy of close communion. He affirms the vicarious satisfaction of Jesus Christ: “God and man in one person, the Sin-Bearer for mankind, the crucified and risen Redeemer and Savior of the world—that Jesus who has rendered perfect satisfaction to God for man’s sins, who has redeemed us to God by His blood.”
Carter defended the scriptural doctrine of creation and rejected evolution. “We teach not only the Christian religion, but also the secular branches, as thoroughly as the best of the public schools, but in the light of Christian principles.
“In our institutions of learning we follow the same program. We teach science, for instance, but repudiate the false and foolish theories, and hypotheses that are advanced by the little men who lift up their puny arm against God, and use their God given breath to dispute the Word that proceedeth from His mouth.”
Prayer, according to Carter, “is not a means of grace. That means we cannot be saved by our prayers, nor because we pray.” Responding to those who criticize the Lutheran Church for using formal written prayers, such as the collects in the Lutheran Hymnal, which have been used by Christians for centuries, Carter wrote: “In our church we use prayers that have been well thought out. They come from the hearts, the trials and the experience of mighty men in the kingdom of God.” He opposed unionistic prayer fellowship: “If I fellowship with him (non-Lutheran, ed.) in prayer and at the same time in my heart denounce his doctrines, I am a hypocrite and a traitor.” “Is doctrine that important? According to God’s Word, it is. What is the source of Christian doctrine? The Bible. May we join with one who is careless and indifferent about Bible teachings? This passage (Romans 16:17) says. “No. Keep away from them.”
Individual Christians may be active in politics, but not the church warned Carter. “But let this be remembered: No preacher, as such, may dabble in political affairs. They may not be brought into the church. His members are well informed American citizens who are able to decide upon their political connections, and choose their political activities without any advice from him. They understand those matters better than he does.”
In 1946 the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, its official publications and leading theologians all said that the Bible opposes both women’s ordination and women’s suffrage in the church. Carter endorsed that position. “So, to make a short story shorter—no women preachers in the Lutheran Church. It may be argued that although those men sit quietly and worship, they nevertheless have a voice and a vote in the affairs of the congregation. Well, if you find that Voice and vote in I Corinthians 14 labeled, ‘For Women,’ take it out and hand it to them.”
Carter wrote in a chapter on marriage: “We insist upon honorable courtship. We emphasize the binding force of the engagement, properly entered into. We assume that the church is to be permitted to pay for and add its blessing to the union of the two young people who be1ong to it. No elopements. No runaway matches.” “So, interracial marriages are not in themselves sinful, wicked (or even illegal) in some of our states). Yet we must say, expressing our own feelings, that they are unwise and unfair to relatives on both sides of the racial fence.”
Carter was not a supporter of prize fighting. “Any form of athletics for its own sake is not wicked. Just be careful about over-exertion. Now when it comes to prize fighting, that is different. That is not exercise for the sake of taking exercise. The participants are breaking God’s Fifth Commandment which enjoins that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body.”
Carter said in Chapter XIV on the lodge: ‘The lodge system of religion teaches men, and has them expecting to be saved by their own works, by their outward morality, by their civic righteousness, by the good qualities that exist in their own eyes and in the eyes of others, by their living ‘on the square.’“ “Now in Masonry a so-called Christian will join a lodge. A Jew is eligible of course, and he joins. That Jew is Christ’s enemy. He hates Jesus. He does not want to hear His name mentioned. The Christian brother cannot offend that Jew because he is a lodge brother, and moreover, he has taken oath not to offend him. In the lodge hall the Christian member must keep silent about his Jesus because the Jewish brother does not want to hear it. Is that confessing Christ? Or is it denying Him? Away with an organization which causes Christian men to keep quiet about Christ. In their prayers and ceremonies they speak of the great Architect of the Universe. Who and what is that? The true God is the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
Carter maintained that Christian pastors should not bury non-Christians. What should a pastor do when “the world” asks him to bury one of their own? “What about this situation? The Lutheran pastor goes running to the scriptures faster than those people came running to him. He is making such speed that he tumbles down and lands right in Matt. 8:21-22. ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ Let the spiritually dead bury their spiritually dead. ‘And you let the entire matter go. If you are going to follow me, center your entire attention upon that. That is instruction, even if it is your father who is concerned.’“
“The church and its servant, the Christian pastor, cannot bury people who manifestly die outside the kingdom of Grace. Should they do so, church and pastor would be telling a lie. That is because a Christian burial— and that is the only kind a true Christian church can have— is a statement that another soul has gone up to live with God. If that is manifestly not the case then the church and pastor are liars if they bury him.”
“No true Lutheran pastor should be expected to bury a lodge man. If you remember our chapter on Lodgism in this little treatise, you will readily realize why.”
Commenting on “Titles,” Marmaduke Carter writes: “In America today every man who can jump over a broom stick and repeat a few verses from the Bible, wants to be called, and have himself called, ‘Doctor.’ Our Lutheran Church stands for scholarship and theological training. Our ideal is a working knowledge of five languages (ed. Carter is most likely referring to Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German and English), and a Theological training that is second to none in the world. Yet, in the old line Lutheran Church, the saying goes that if a man is given the ‘D.D.’ title, that is a sign that his one foot is in the grave and the other is on the edge thereof in the Missouri Synod roster of clergymen, the list comprises approximately 5,000 men. By actual count we found (1945 list) fewer than 50 ‘D.D.’s. That list takes in all the professors who teach in all our seminaries and colleges in North America and South America.” There are now about 6,000 men on the LCMS clergy roster and several hundred of them have D.D.’s.
When the LCMS celebrated the “Black Lutheran Centennial” in 1978, Christian News said in a lengthy review of Carter’s “Lutheran Customs”: ‘This excellent book is one of the best known of all Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod black clergymen and deserves widespread circulation throughout the LCMS during this year when the LCMS is celebrating the Black Lutheran centennial. We hope it will receive publicity in the LCMS’s official publications. CN reviewed it at considerable length several years ago.” “Carter takes a thoroughly scriptural stand and makes good sense throughout his book.” (Christian News Encyclopedia, pp. 286, 2644).
The LCMS has done more mission work among blacks than most denominations.
Rev. Paul Burgdorf, a 95-yearold retired LCMS pastor who formerly edited the Confessional Lutheran and wrote many articles for Christian News, noted in a review of Roses and Thorns: The Centennial Edition of Black Lutheran Mission and Ministry in the LCMS (Christian News, September 19, 1977, CNE, 281) that Marmaduke Carter and other black pastors were frequent guests in his parental home. Burgdorf said that ‘The present reviewer has a special interest in the subject in hand (mission work among the blacks). One of the reasons for this is the involvement of his father and paternal grandfather in the history of the work under discussion. His grandfather. Prof A.C. Burgdorf, was for some years treasurer of the mission board of the Ev. Lutheran Synodical Conference for work among the ‘Colored’ people of the South. His father, who studied under Walther, in 1884, served a vicarage in the Conference’s first congregation in Negro mission work, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Little Rock, Ark.”