procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the first australian lutherans

enjoy this quick summary of an essay for australian church history. i haven't included any references, please ask if you would like to know how i know all this!
the east coast of Australia was first colonised by the British in 1788. South Australia was first colonised in 1836 (a convict-free zone).
the first Lutherans, fleeing the latitudinary Prussian union church, started arriving in SA in 1838.
they were led by their pastor Augustus Kavel, and named their two main settlements Klemzig, after their home-town, and Hahndorf, after Captain Hahn who piloted many of them to their new home.
the happy environment meant they invited others to join them, including another pastor, Gotthard Fritzsche, and his flock.
these were happy times, but schism was in the air:
  • the group had entered into financial agreements with their sponsor, George Fife Angas (no relation), and some had second thoughts over arrangements to buy such large amounts of land. Kavel saw this reneging as a breach of faith, and considered withholding communion from the offenders.
  • the doctrinal sloppiness in the Prussian union church meant Kavel saw Australia as a chance to start again, to be like the church of the apostles. in this vein he wrote the Apostolical Church Constitution, which among other things, was heavy on discipline. this would be another bone of contention; Lutheran missionaries in the colony refused to sign, and Fritzsche pushed for changes.
  • the religious air in England, where Kavel had stopped over briefly, was one of expectant hope of the return of Jesus. Chiliasm, or millenialism, became an increasing feature of his preaching. one listener recalls him teaching that God would provide them with reeds with which to build an ark with which they could sail to Israel or Egypt! Fritzsche in response preached against chiliasm, forming another fault line for this infant church.
1845 synod - the two pastors thrust into the fore, despite warm feelings to one another, cannot agree. they decide to take the next year to think through their positions.

1846 synod - neither had the time to do what they promised. they both became firmer in their stances, and Kavel, rather than critiquing his views by the Lutheran Confessions he held as regulative, critiqued them, finding them at points decidedly unscriptural.
he brought to the 1846 synod his Protestations for discussion. the synod quickly became a yelling match, Fritzsche tried to restrain Kavel from walking out, but in the end Kavel and his group had to leave.

from 1838 to 1846 there was one Lutheran Church of Australia, which would take 120 years to unite once again.
as an outsider, having only been to a Lutheran church on several occasions, it seems that both Fritzsche and Kavel would be unhappy with the basis for the reunion. the doctrinal latitude of the LCA is probably wider today than even the union church which persecuted them.

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Anonymous Mark Earngey said...

Would love a read when you're done big fella!

2:31 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

someone still reads my blog!

it's on its way - i did 3000 words. so exam next week. are you doing 6000?

2:50 pm  
Blogger Klaus said...

I met a lady yesterday who told me her father is Ian Harmstorf, a very well-known historian writing about Germans in South Australia. Did you come across him?

8:46 am  
Blogger psychodougie said...

Leider nicht! Always worrying to hear names you've never heard before. There were three histories and lots of newspaper clippings.
He's probably a real historian, reading primary sources that they wouldn't let me read.

9:10 am  

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