Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists


A Lutheran Church

We visited a Lutheran church, an old building which has, apparently, stood unchanged for hundreds of years. It is built of logs, the walls as well as the roof covered with clumsy split shingles, and painted a muddy red. The doors are low. On the inside, the building is arched and ceiled. It seemed like a prison; the air struck us with a peculiar, dungeon-like chill, and the close box pews, with their narrow seats and high, straight backs, suggested torture. In the place where the pulpit stands in our churches, was the altar, but not elevated above the floor. It was surrounded at a little distance by a circular railing, outside of which was a low seat for the communicants to kneel upon while taking the holy wafer. To the right of the altar, attached to a projecting pillar, was a little box-like pulpit approached by a flight of steps. An hour-glass added still further to the antiquated appearance of the place. The priest's study in the rear was lighted by small grated windows. It contained a table and chair, and two small cases of books, and was in keeping with the rest of the building. A more dismal place I do not wish to see. This old building seemed like a relic of the Dark Ages, as if priest and people had been asleep for hundreds of years. I could not but think that it fitly represented the condition of the church. HS 198.2

The priests enjoy their beer-drinking and smoking, and cling to old forms and customs, as jealous of any reform as were the scribes and Pharisees. They are of the class condemned by Christ, as those who have the key of knowledge, who will not enter in themselves, and those who would, they hinder. They are so fearful lest something shall be introduced that will turn away the people from their creeds and dogmas, and divert the means into other channels, that they spare no effort to excite prejudice, and resort to commands and threats to prevent their members from going to hear Bible preaching. They look with suspicion upon every one who does not fully sustain their church, and denounce as heretics those who instruct the people in Scripture truth. By representing them as working against the interests of the church, they stir up the authorities against them. They claim the name of Lutherans, and point back to Luther, to his work and his testimony, but they have not cherished his spirit. They do not, like Luther, test their doctrines by the Bible, but by their creed, their church customs, the practices of the Fathers. Their so-called Lutheranism is little better than Catholicism with the name of Luther attached to it. HS 198.3

The moral standing of a community is dependent upon the diffusion of Bible knowledge and the growth of true religion. Where the religious teachers bar the people from obtaining light from the Scriptures, unbelief, skepticism, and infidelity cannot but prevail. And with such examples as are given by these pastors, who are seeking to benefit themselves and not their flock, it is not strange that the people are self-indulgent, pleasure-loving, and sensual. But the Lord will cause the light of truth to shine forth amid the moral darkness; and those who receive the truth should be careful to correctly represent its sanctifying power upon their life and character, to show the contrast between the influence of truth and that of error. HS 199.1