Archive for October, 2006

Does Being Lutheran Matter?

October 31st, 2006 Comments off

The movie "Luther" sparked renewed interest in the life and work
of Martin Luther. The fact that Concordia Publishing House’s movie
companion book, Luther: Biography of a Reformer was received so
enthusiastically indicates that, if only given a chance, people are
eager to learn about Martin Luther and what it means to be and remain
genuinely Lutheran. There seem to be three types of responses to the
question, "Does being Lutheran matter?" One is, "Are you kidding
me? You better believe that it matters! Let me tell you why!"
Another response is a sort of "mental shrug" to the question,
"Well, of course we want to be and remain Lutheran, that goes without
saying, there’s no real need to talk much about it though." And
then, sadly, there is this response, "It doesn’t matter. All that
matters is being a Christian. We need to focus on what unites us
rather than what divides us." As I watch and analyze events and
trends in Christianity and Lutheranism, both in this country and
around the world, I am more convinced than ever before of two things.
First, being and remaining genuinely Lutheran matters more then ever,
and second, the reasons why this is so are unclear at best to many

Read more…

Categories: Lutheranism

“What More Do I Want?” — Thoughts from Luther for Reformation Day 2006

October 31st, 2006 1 comment

" I want to see whether any doctrine concurs with Christ. I dare not forget the clear rule which St. Paul gives us Christians: to pay attention to what conforms to the doctrine of Christ and to the faith. In
Rom. 12:7 he says: “Let it be in conformity with the faith”; that is, it must be in harmony and conformity with Christ. And St. Peter declares: “Whoever speaks, let him speak as the Word of God” (1 Peter 4:11). You must not go only to St. Bernard and St. Ambrose, but it is imperative that you take them with you to Christ and see whether they agree with His teaching. If they do not, but have added something to that which Christ has taught, or have evolved something from their own piety and taught this, I shall let them answer for that. But I must not convert it into an article of faith; nor am I to believe it, since they do not entirely agree with Christ. For I am to adhere to Christ alone; He has taught neither too much nor too little. He has taught me to know God the Father, has revealed Himself to me, and has also acquainted me with the Holy Spirit. He has also instructed me how to live and how to die and has told me what to hope for. What more do I want? And if anyone wishes to teach me anything now, let him beware of any innovations. If he tries to present anything new, I must say to him: “I will not believe it, dear pastor, dear preacher, dear St. Ambrose, dear St. Augustine. For anything that goes beyond and above the man who is called Christ is not genuine. It is still flesh and blood, and Christ warned us against relying on that. He Himself did not trust Himself to man.”

Martin Luther, vol. 22, Luther’s Works, Vol. 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, 22:255 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1957).
Categories: Lutheranism

Thoughts on Orthodoxy

October 30th, 2006 15 comments

Ecath_1I first posted this message last February. In light of news received over the weekend that another Lutheran pastor has decided to leave Lutheranism for Orthodoxy, I thought it was both appropriate and important to post it again.

What I notice in reading discussions between Lutherans and recent converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, or those considering taking the plunge to swim the Bosporus, is how hard they strive to assure themselves that in leaving the Lutheran Confession and embracing Eastern Orthodoxy they are in fact either completing what they started to find in Lutheranism, or that they are discovering what Lutheranism leans toward, but does not fully embrace, or perhaps most honestly of all, they say that they have found the fullness of the Church that Lutheranism lacks.

Read more…

Categories: Eastern Orthodoxy

We Have Everything A Thousand Times Better in Christ

October 29th, 2006 1 comment


"The invocation of the saints is also one of the Antichrist’s abuses that conflicts with the chief article and destroys the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:8). It is neither commanded nor counseled, nor has it any warrant in Scripture. Even if it were a precious thing–which it is not–we have everything a thousand times better in Christ. The angels in heaven pray for us, as does Christ Himself. So do the saints on earth, and perhaps also in heaven. It does not follow though that we should invoke and adore the angels, and saints. Nor should we fast, hold festivals, celebrate Mass, make offerings, and establish churches, altars, and divine worship in their honor. Nor should we serve them in other ways of regard them as helpers in times of need. Nor should we divide different kinds of help among them, ascribing to each one a particular form of assistance, as the papists teach and do. This is idolatry. Such honor belongs to God alone. As a Christian and saint upon earth, you can pray for me in many necessities. But this does not mean that I have to adore and call upon you. I do not need to celebrate festivals, fast, make sacrifices, or hold Masses for your honor. I do not have to put my faith in you for my salvation. I can honor, love, and thank you in Christ in other ways. If such idolatrous honor were withdrawn from angels and departed saints, the remaining honor would be harmless and quickly forgotten. When advantage and assistance (both bodily and spiritual) are no longer expected, the saints will not be troubled, neither in their graves nor in heaven. No one will much remember or esteem or honor them without a reward or just out of pure love."

–Martin Luther

Smalcald Articles, Part I, Article II, par.25-28.
Concordia: pgs. 292-293.

Categories: Roman Catholicism

October 28th, 2006 3 comments


Mlbcardinals_2 It was a great series, even if the Tigers’ pitchers set a record of most errors ever in a World Series. Ouch. That truly has to hurt.  [Detroit fans: demand an investigation into this. Did they intentionally throw the game? That's the best construction possible here!].

The pitching duels were wonderful.  Well, except for the final game where the Tigers’ pitcher fell apart.

The baseball was old-school "small ball" in many cases. The conduct of the players, with one notable exception, was exemplary.  It is a shame that Rogers brought disgrace on himself and his team as he did. But overall, a great series.

Kudos to Jim Leyland, manager of the Tigers. He is one class act! Congratulations sir. I’ve never seen a manager be so forthright, honest and handle himself with such aplomb and integrity. Class act! What a refreshing change. Larussa and Leyland-really showing the best of baseball! Thank you gentlemen. Congratulations to the Tigers on a remarkable turn-around in their season. Oh, the joys of First Article gifts.

My bottom line on any world series is that any series the Yankees haven’t bought their way into with their salary advantage, is a good series.

Categories: Current Affairs

We Should Not Refuse to Walk in our Fathers’ Footsteps

October 27th, 2006 4 comments

We like to comfort ourselves these days with the thought that our times are so different and so unique from the times and situations faced by the founding fathers of The LCMS. What utter hubris! Here in America they were outnumbered tremendously by the Methodists and other revivalists. Did they choose to bring into our churches the "style" of popular American Christianity forms? No. Today however it seems to be popular, even "politically correct" to "bless" whatever any congregation chooses to do in their ‘"freedom" when it comes to worship practices. "Missional" seems to be a word used to excuse a lot of sloppy practice these days. Call me "old fashioned" but I want my father and mother, myself, and my children, to be prepared to face their Maker in heaven with the historical Lutheran liturgy and classic chorales on their lips and in their hearts, rather than insipid  ditties like "Shine, Jesus, Shine" and other such pop-evangelicalism banality. Call me an old stick-in-the-mud if you must, but that’s how I see it. A Lutheran pastor I’ve always respected has quite a lot to say about doing away with historic Lutheran worship forms. Tough words? Perhaps. True words? You better believe it!

We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them. It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won’t accuse of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, [or a non-denominational Christian, or a Calvinist, or an Evangelical], who perverts the saving Word, or ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them? We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or feeling or taste among all believing Christians, neither dare anyone demand that everyone be of the same opinion as his in such matters; nevertheless, it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls, [theaters or auditoriums], while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. . . . Someone may ask,” What would be the use of uniformity in ceremonies?” We would answer, “What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers.

C.F.W. Walther, Essay on Adiaphora in Essays for the Church: Volume I (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992), p. 193-194.

Confession and Doctrine

October 27th, 2006 Comments off

For the Lutheran Church a confession is nothing else than the great: “We praise You, O God; we acknowledge You to be the Lord” of a pardoned sinner. And then the church rejects the errors of ancient and modern times “with common consent” in the great “we believe, teach and confess” of the Lutheran Confessions, this concern for pure doctrine is nothing else than the concern which Paul and John manifested when they warned their congregations against distortions of the evangelical proclamation, against gospels which were no longer the Gospel.

Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, p. 8.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Real Question Facing Us

October 27th, 2006 1 comment

Does being Lutheran still matter? Yes, and in saying that we immediately are driven to our knees in prayer to the Lord of the Church that He preserve pure doctrine among us. Simply asserting, "We all agree on doctrine, we just have some differences in practice" is unhelpful. The facts of our situation today in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are what constitute, as Hermann Sasse noted, years ago:

The real question of life and death for the Missouri Synod as they have for every other Lutheran Church. It is not the question concerning the strength of the external organization, the constitution and bylaws, the growth of the congregation, or the school system. Nor is it a question about the position of the Confessions as the basis for the message and work of the church. Rather, it is the question concerning the strength of the Lutheran faith in the sense of the genuine, deep faith of the heart in the saving Gospel, which the Holy Spirit alone can give. It is the question whether, and to what extent the Missouri Synod is a truly confessing church, a church in which the Lutheran Confession is not merely held in honor as the confession of the fathers and therefore [simply assumed]. It is the question whether the Confession is the confession of a living faith of the congregation, and therefore the formative life-principle of the church. It is the question that the Missouri Synod, as every other church, must always ask herself in deep humility and repentance: Are we still Lutheran?

Hermann Sasse, "Confession and Theology in the Missouri Synod" in Scripture and the Church: Selected Essays of Hermann Sasse, Edited by Jeffrey J. Kloha and Ronald R. Feuerhahn (Saint Louis: Concordia Seminary Monograph Series, Number 2, 1995), p. 202.

Categories: Lutheranism

Carpe Verbum! Sieze the Word while it may be found!

October 27th, 2006 Comments off

The annual thanksgiving and praise we offer to our Lord for the blessing of Luther’s rediscovery of the Gospel at the time of the Reformation must always drive us first to our knees in repentance and plea that God would forgive our shallow thankfulness and our lack of faithfulness to His Holy Gospel, both in our lives personally, and in our life as a Church. We do well to mark well Luther’s prophetic warning:

Let us remember our former misery, and the darkness in which we dwelt. Germany, I am sure, has never before heard so much of God’s word as it is hearing today; certainly we read nothing of it in history. If we let it just slip by without thanks and honor, I fear we shall suffer a still more dreadful darkness and plague. O my beloved Germans, buy while the market is at your door; gather in the harvest while there is sunshine and fair weather; make use of God’s grace and word while it is there! For you should know that God’s word and grace is like a passing shower of rain which does not return where it has once been. It has been with the Jews, but when it’s gone it’s gone, and now they have nothing. Paul brought it to the Greeks; but again when it’s gone it’s gone, and now they have the Turk. Rome and the Latins also had it; but when it’s gone it’s gone, and now they have the pope. And you Germans need not think that you will have it forever, for ingratitude and contempt will not make it stay. Therefore, seize it and hold it fast, whoever can; for lazy hands are bound to have a lean year. 

Martin Luther, vol. 45, Luther’s Works, Vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, 45:352 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999, c1962).

Categories: Lutheranism

Jesus, the Embryo

October 26th, 2006 1 comment

A great comment came in on the previous post, and I share it here.

Jesus was an embryo, too!

To deny full humanity to a conceptus is to deny full humanity to the Savior, "qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria virgine" (Latin).

We worship the coming Savior, we worship the ascended Lord, we worship the resurrected Son of Man, we worship the crucified Lamb, we worship the Boy in the temple, we worship the Babe in the manger, we worship the Conceptus in the womb of the Mother of God.


Categories: Uncategorized

The Life of God in Your Church

October 25th, 2006 Comments off

A wonderful piece from a Missouri Synod district president, Rev. Herbert Mueller of the Southern Illinois District.

The Life of God in Your

“Jesus Gives Life at 100+ Mission
Outposts!” That was our theme for the district convention last February.
This also will be our litmus test in the visitation of all the parishes
of the district we have begun. In three stages, first to the pastor to
encourage him (Fall 2006), then to the pastor and congregational
leadership (2007) and finally to the voters assemblies (2008), the
district president, a vice president or the circuit counselor will be

Why visitation? Both the Special
Convention in 2004 and the Regular Convention in 2006 mandated
visitation around the themes of mission, worship and communion practice.
But central to each of these is the life of Christ for us. In worship
and communion we receive the life Jesus gives. Our mission as a
congregation, as a “mission outpost,” is to give this life away, to
bring others into the life of Christ.

The life of Jesus does not come from a
new program, but through repentance and faith. The life of God is not
the result of moral instruction and moral living, but of God’s gift of a
new relationship with Him in Jesus Christ.

The beating heart of your congregation
is the life of Jesus Christ – His life lived for us and offered up for
us on the cross. His life triumphant in His resurrection. His life
freely given in His body and blood, in the forgiveness of sins, in the
washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.

You are alive because you are in
Christ.  You are alive because Jesus gives life to you and to all who
believe. You are alive because Jesus gives life to you through your
congregation, your pastor’s work and your fellow members’ witness to
Jesus. You are alive in Christ because He has made you alive in His

When we say that “Jesus Gives Life at
100+ Mission Outposts,” we look for each parish to become more and more
the body of Christ. We have received in Christ our true Head. “Now you
are [together!] the body of Christ, and individually members of it” (1
Corinthians 12:27). If Christ is the Head, and we the body, then we are
sent into the world as members of the body to extend His ministry of
love and service to the world.

The life of Jesus given for us implies
that we take worship seriously. If Christ is our Head and we His body,
we nourish ourselves at the font, the lectern, the pulpit, the altar,
wherever the Word of God is found. Here Christ gives Himself to us that
we may give away the life of Jesus by serving others and drawing them
into the life we have received.

The new life Jesus gives implies that
we are always ready to teach the Word of God, “ready always to give an
answer to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us” (1
Peter 3:15). Led by the Spirit, we search the Word of God together to
discover and to grow in the will of God for our life together. No one is
too young or too old to be taught, but everyone is drawn into the Word.

The life of Jesus connects us to one
another in love. We are not alone, but we receive His life – together!
We are “thankful for your partnership in the Gospel, from the first day
until now…” (Philippians 1:5). We stand together in a new relationship
to God in Christ. We seek to strengthen one another in the faith by our
words and our actions, helping each other enjoy the good gifts of God.

The life of God in Jesus means that we
take prayer and worship seriously. We teach families to pray together.
We provide many opportunities for worship and prayer and study of the
Word. We provide holy absolution and Holy Communion as often as they are

Jesus gives life also in order to send
us into the world, for the sake of the hungry, the needy, the lost,
those who do not yet know Him. Jesus gives life so that we also present
ourselves as “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God” in Him. We
are a community of servants sent into the world in our various vocations
to serve God by serving others. (Various thoughts in this article drawn
from A.C. Piepkorn, The Church, pp. 116-118).

Our theme shows us how Jesus enlivens
His Church – through Word and Sacrament, at locations (wherever God’s
people gather in His name), and from which we are sent into the world to
give His life away. 

  Herbert C. Mueller, President


  Illinois District – LCMS

Categories: Christian Life

A Former Embryo Against Stem Cell Research

October 25th, 2006 2 comments

A fellow Lutheran blogger has inquired why I have not had anything to say about the vote on stem cell research coming up in Missouri next month, a vote on "Amendment 2." We’ve been inundated here by advertisements featuring a trembling Hollywood actor, tugging at our heart strings, to believe that a vote against Amendment 2 means the end of hope for persons with his unfortunate neurological condition. We have baseball stars and football stars and TV stars and a movie star telling us to vote against Amendment 2. By the way, there is a great post today at the Get Religion blog about the misleading ads being used to sway people to vote for embryonic stem cell research. The most ridiculous of the bunch is former Senator Danforth in deep tones telling us that a vote against embryonic stem cell research will mean Missourians are being deprived of all the wonderful benefits of embroynic stem cell research.

Frankly, I doubt the Cyberbrethren blog site is read by too many people who are not already convinced that embryonic stem cell research is wrong, but on the outside chance there is somebody reading that doesn’t understand why embryonic stem cell research is wrong, let me simply say this.

What is the "thing" we are talking about? It is you. It is me. It is us. We are all former "embryos." We do not treat human beings at any point in their lives as things to be experimented on and destroyed. The last time this was done in an organized systematic and intentional fashion there people were being tormented and experimented on, killed and then thrown with millions of other people into death camp ovens across Germany, The human embryo is a human being. Period. It is not a life unworthy of being lived. And it is not a "thing" for us to do with as we will.

That’s the bottom line.

So, from one former embryo to another, I hope this is your bottom line as well. I’m voting no on Amendment 2. I hope you will too.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Lutheran Confessions and the Book of Concord: Is there a difference? And some thoughts on the unhelpful distinction between “historical confessional” and “authorized collections”

October 25th, 2006 Comments off

I’ve appreciated the feedback and observations I’ve received from folks in response to my two blog posts on the topic When Is a Book of Concord Not a Book of Concord? An interesting question has been raised in connection with this issue. The Constitution of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod not specifically mention the Book of Concord, or at least it no longer does. Instead, the Constitution stipulates the individual documents in the Lutheran Confessions by name. I’ve been told that this might suggest to some that in fact the Book of Concord is not necessarily the definitive collection of the Lutheran Confessions. I would respectfully disagree with that point of view. What is the Book of Concord? It is the normative and authoritative collection of the Lutheran Confessions. It was produced in two editions: a German edition in 1580 and a Latin edition in 1584.

The study of the textual history of our various Lutheran Confessions is helpful, but it does not, and must not be permitted to, change the fact that the texts of the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the two editio princeps of the Book of Concord, the German edition of 1580 and the Latin edition of 1584, are the authoritative forms of the Lutheran Confessions for our Synod, not predecessor forms, and certainly not necessarily the forms of those texts as they are rolled out in each new edition of the Bekenntnisschriften.

Someone might say, "But it is the German BOC of 1580 that alone is the definitive text." I would say to that simply, "Yes, the German BOC has pride of place, a "first among equals" position, but clearly the history demonstrates that the reality was simply that the German 1580 and the Latin of 1584 were always received by the church as the two editions of the BOC. The Latin was intended to be released nearly simultaneously with the German, but after two efforts to produce an adequate Latin text, it was several years before a Latin text was arrived in 1584, but there is no doubt it is also an authoritative, definitive edition of the BOC in Latin. It has always been, universally, regarded by all who subscribe the German BOC of 1580 as simply being the definitive Latin edition. This is how Bente refers to it and regards it. Similarly, Walther and Pieper. It simply is not an issue. Therefore, ex post facto efforts to "make something" of this and attempt thereby to justify reaching back into the prior historical forms of the various Lutheran Confessions and put those forms before our Church as texts of the Book of Concord, is not appropriate. The Latin edition was universally used by the schools and universities to prepare pastors and theologians for centuries. We have our BOC in both German and Latin, the two editio princeps, as was always clearly understood." That our Confessions were intended to be received in the Church in both German and Latin is witnessed to by the fact that John Frederick the Magnanimous insisted on his favorite of all of Luther’s writings, the Smalcald Articles, be published in a German-Latin Octavo edition in 1542 [Bente, 58, 60]. To use this point however to defend reaching back before either the German or Latin editions of the BOC to bring in forms of texts not in either edition of the Book of Concord is unjustified and an illegitimate procedure. Producing editions of the Lutheran Confessions in predecessor forms, or forms not contained in the Book of Concord is one thing, presenting them as editions of the Book of Concord is quite another.

So then, what are we to make of the fact that The LCMS Constitution does not mention the Book of Concord by name? I can find no evidence to indicate that The LCMS ever regarded a list of the individual Lutheran Confessions to be somehow distinct from where those documents were authoritatively located, in the Book of Concord. Let me site some evidence to support my contention.

In fact The LCMS Constitution did mention the Book of Concord. The very first section of the Synod’s Constitution said:

I. Reasons for forming a synodical organization: 6. The unified spread of the kingdom of God and to make possible the promotion of special church projects. (Seminary, agenda, hymnal, Book of Concord, schoolbooks, Bible distribution, mission projects within and outside the Church.) You can see  the actual first page of our Constitution where this is stated at the Concordia Historical Institute web site.  The same point was picked up and repeated in 1854 when the Constitution was amended to divide the Synod into districts. Again, “enterprises of the Synod” listed among the reasons for its formation which included: “seminary, agenda, hymnal, Book of Concord, schoolbooks, Bible distribution, missionary endeavors, within and without the church, etc.). (Moving Frontiers, p 149).

When did this drop out of the LCMS Constitution? At some point near the turn of the 20th century, and for no reason other than apparently an effort to conserve some space and remove what was no longer deemed necessary verbiage as to specifying objectives, which were incorporated elsewhere. In other words, long before anyone arrived on the scene suggesting that the Lutheran Confessions are one thing, and the Book of Concord is another, or that the 1580/1584 editions are not the definitive editions of our Lutheran Confessions.

That the Book of Concord was in the mind of our founders when they speak of the Lutheran Confessions is without doubt also indicated by the fact that they used the word “Concordia” to name their first institution of theological education, Concordia Seminary, and used it to name nearly every institution they could in the coming years: Concordia College, Concordia Publishing House, etc. Concordia is, of course, a reference to the Book of Concord, “Concordia” being the book’s title.

Robert Kolb writes in his book Confessing the Faith:

By the end of the 16th century formal authority for interpretation of Scripture came to rest, for the Lutherans, in The Book of Concord. The Augsburg Confession remained the primary document within this collection of confessional documents. The disadvantage of using such documents as an authority is that the documents did not and could not address every question which might arise in the later life of the church. The advantage of such an organ for the exercise of secondary authority in the church is that the Book of Concord provides a model and an orientation for the teaching of the churches which accept it as norma normata (normed norm, in the language of the 17th-century Lutheran teachers). The Book of Concord draws all its adherents into the active public confession of their faith in Jesus Christ. It orients their confession and teaching around Jesus Christ and the message of forgiveness and life which He is and brings.(Robert Kolb, Confessing the Faith: Reformers Define the Church, 1530-1580, [St,. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1991], p. 40).

This is a nice summary of the important role that the Book of Concord, note, the Book of Concord, plays in the life of the Lutheran Church.

And finally two more pieces of evidence as to what is intended by a listing of the Lutheran Confessions. Bente states very simply in his Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions that, “Book of Concord, or Concordia, is the title of the  Lutheran corpus doctrinae, i.e., of the symbols recognized and published under that name by the Lutheran Church. (Friedrich Bente, Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, Second Edition, 2005], p. 1). 

Bengt Hegglund notes:

Through the formation of the Formula of Concord the ground was prepared for a uniform collection of confessional statements by the different Lutheran church bodies. This was accomplished in the year 1580 with the publication of the Book of Concord. This includes, in addition to the Formula of Concord, the following statements: the three ancient creeds, the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and Luther’s two catechisms. The Book of Concord replaced the collections of doctrinal statements (corpora doctrinae) which had been used previously in the various regional churches (for example, the Corpus Philippicum of 1560, accepted in Saxony, Denmark, and elsewhere). As an anthology of Lutheran confessional statements, the significance of the Book of Concord gradually came to be recognized even outside the circle of German Lutheranism. In Sweden an edict promulgated in 1663 recommended that pastors study it. In Denmark and Norway, however, it was not officially recognized, since the authorities there did not wish to bind themselves to the Formula of Concord. (Bengt Hagglund, History of Theology [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999], p. 280).

Therefore, the fact that today the LCMS Constitution lists the Lutheran Confessions by name this is not intended to imply some sort of distinction between the Lutheran Confessions and the Book of Concord. The Missouri Synod has always understood that the authoritative edition of the Lutheran Confessions are to be found, in German, in the 1580 Dresden edition of the Book of Concord and, in Latin, in the 1584 Leipzig edition of the Book of Concord. And, of course, the Synod’s Articles of Incorporation, still mention by name the Book of Concord.

Therefore, is there any truly meaningful and significant difference between the Lutheran Confessions and the Book of Concord? No. The Book of Concord is where we find the authoritative and definitive collection of the Lutheran Confessions. Study of the textual history of the various Lutheran Confessions has its place and is useful, but it has its limits. It can not provide us with a “better” Book of Concord, nor should it make that attempt.

One more point to be made. Some say that using texts in forms not
contained in the BOC editions is a “historical confessional” approach
to the Lutheran Confessions, while an approach that locates the
authoritative texts of our Lutheran Confessions only in the Book of
Concord is an “authorized collection” approach. Who authorized this
collection? Since the signatories of the Book of Concord were political
rulers and entities, I’ve heard it said that the Book of Concord is
actually more of a German legal document than a churchly/theological document. If we take this approach to these issues to its logical conclusion, we should dismiss the
Nicene Creed as a “political document." Using phrases like this only
serves to muddy the water. It is neither helpful nor accurate to speak
in such a manner about these issues. The "authorized collection" is also the definitive, historical collection of our Confessions and it is called The Book of Concord.

Finally, let it again be noted that there is no issue of doctrine that arises in these questions of texts and textual criticism in regard to the Book of Concord. Be assured of that. However, there have been some who have, in their efforts to defend decisions to include texts of the Confessions not in either edition of the Book of Concord, have not made this point clear and have in fact left the impression that using texts as they are contained in the Latin or German BOC is somehow insufficient, erroneous, or  "poor scholarship." This approach to the issue is most unhelpful indeed, for precisely in defending one’s decisions about such textual matters is the risk run of leaving people with the impression that the question of what the texts are in the Book of Concord is finally only something that can be determined by specialists laboring over various forms of the texts that predate their inclusion in the two authoritative editions of the Book of Concord. In regard to Biblical textual criticism, we do not in fact have any original autographs, that is, the original texts penned by the holy writers, but in the case of the Book of Concord, we do have the original editions of the Book of Concord. If only these points were made clear, and it would be clearly asserted that it is by no means a question of doctrine, and that using the texts of the German and Latin BOC is not really an issue, that would be one thing, but public assertions that fail to make these points only cause doubt and confusion where none need exist. Similarly advancing novel ways of describing the two schools of thoughts: "historical confessional" vs. "authorized collection" further adds uncertainty and a lack of clarity to the issue. This is what motivates my remarks on these issues. And I thank you for your kind indulgence while reading these various posts on these issues.

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

Which Book of Concord do you use?

October 22nd, 2006 6 comments

All this discussion about Book of Concord editions have led several of you to ask me, "So, which edition of the Book of Concord do you use?" That’s easy enough to answer: all of them!

Obviously, my favorite edition is Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. It is my "default" edition that is at my desk. For more scholarly purposes, I use the Triglotta edition, which provides the Latin and German of the respective 1580 and 1584 editions of the Book of Concord, with a translation that, though it has a few problems here and there, is very faithful to the original languages. The English translation of the Triglotta is available on my other web site, along with Bente’s Historical Introductions. I use the German critical edition, the Bekenntnisschriften, particularly for the wealth of footnotes and helps it contains, even though it is not providing, necessarily, the texts of the Lutheran Confessions as they appear in the actual two editions of the Book of Concord. I have also enjoyed very much turning to the Lutheran Legacy web site to use the scan they have there of a 1580 Dresden edition. I like the Tappert edition because it is the one I used to study the Confessions in college and seminary more than any other. I like the Kolb-Wengert edition because it offers the second edition of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and many useful footnotes and annotations. The notes on the Formula are particularly interesting, although one must be aware of a good bit of historical revisionism reflected in them, for instance the use of the phrase "crypto-Philipist." There was nothing "crypto" or "secret" about Melanchthonianism. The older and more accurate phrase, "crypto-Calvinist" continues to serve well. However, in regard to both Tappert and K/W, as I’ve pointed out, and as have I learned over the past several years, neither of them offer a text of the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord. K/W suffers, unfortunately, from the imposition of the gender-neutral language agenda by Augsburg-Fortress. I have both the first and second editions of the Jacobs edition. The second edition in 1911 contains the better translation of the Augsburg Confession. I If you can get your hands on the original first edition Jacobs, the second volume provides many documents referred to, or underlying, the Lutheran Confessions. The Henkel edition of the Book of Concord remain, to this day, the only English translation of the entire 1580 German edition of the Book of Concord. The 1854, second edition, is better than the first. I have both and use the 1854 edition more often when comparing translations. You can read both of the Henkel editions on the Lutheran Legacy web site. Used appropriately, all these editions are helpful and we can be grateful for all of them.

I have each English edition on the computer so it is easy to move around in them. The more the merrier, I say, so happy reading!

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

Luther and Melanchthon on Justification and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession

October 21st, 2006 1 comment

From time to time, one hears that Luther’s emphasis on the imputation of God’s righteousness is not actually the teaching that is emphasized in the Lutheran Confessions in regard to justification. Interestingly, there are some who point to the differences between the first and second editions of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession in an effort to show the difference between Luther and Melanchthon on justification. I found this interesting abstract of a journal article and thought I would pass it By the way, if you have never read the excellent joint LCMS seminary statement on the JDDJ, you really must. A significant debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. David Scaer, Chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and Dr. Charles Arand, chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, and their respective departments for this fine statement.

Titre du document / Document title

Luther versus Melanchthon?
Zur Frage der Einheit der Wittenberger Reformation in der
Rechtfertigungslehre (Luther versus Melanchthon? About the question of
the unity of the Reformation of Wittenberg in the docrine of
justification) (Luther versus Melanchthon? Sur la question de l’unité
la Réforme de Wittenberg dans la doctrine de la justification)

Auteur(s) / Author(s)

FLOGAUS Reinhard (1)

Affiliation(s) du ou des auteurs / Author(s) Affiliation(s)

(1) Theologische Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität, Waisenstrasse 28, 10179 Berlin, ALLEMAGNE

Résumé / Abstract

the last decade the new Finnish Luther research established by T.
Mannermaa has revived the old thesis by K.Holl and his school that
Melanchthon spoiled Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith by an
imputative understanding of justification. According to this view,
Luther’s teaching on justification through the presence of Christ was
superseded by Melanchthon’s one-sided forensic doctrine of
justification, which also appeared in the Formula of Concord. In this
paper important texts by Melanchthon on the doctrine of justification
are compared with statements by Luther made at about the same time in
order to find out whether the two Wittenberg reformers really held
different opinions on this central point of Reformation theology. The
analysis makes clear that both, Luther and Melanchthon, saw forensic
and effective justification not as alternatives but as a unity. It is
true that up until the Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Luther mostly understands the presence of God in man as the presence of
Christ and that on the whole Luther emphasizes this point more than
Melanchthon, who in this context usually speaks of the Holy Ghost. This
does not, however, constitute a substantial difference. While in the
octavo edition of the Latin Apology and in the German Editio princeps
of the Confessio Augustana, which appeared in the fall of 1531,
Melanchthon stresses the forensic aspect of the doctrine of
justification, this is much less pronounced in the German Confessio
Augustana Variata of 1533. In Melanchthon’s Loci of 1535ff iustus
effici and iustus reputari do no longer play a decisive role.
Melanchthon interprets justification above all as the forgiveness of
sins, as reconciliation and as a gift of the Holy Ghost. During these
years Luther also stressed the complete forensic justification as
opposed to the gradual and partial effective justification of the
believer. Moreover, since 1532 Luther adjudicated priority to the
justifying forgiveness of sins

Revue / Journal Title

Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte
(Arch. Reformationsgesch.)
ISSN 0003-9381

Source / Source

2000, vol. 91, pp. 6-46

Langue / Language


Editeur / Publisher

Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh, ALLEMAGNE

Mots-clés anglais / English Keywords

Luther (M.) ;
Melanchthon (P.) ;
Justification ;
Reformation (The) ;
Faith ;
Reconciliation ;
Gift ;
Sin ;

Mots-clés français / French Keywords

Luther (M.) ;
Melanchthon (P.) ;
Justification ;
Réforme (La) ;
Foi ;
Réconciliation ;
Don ;
Péché ;
Confessio Augustana ;
Formula Concordiae ;

5271137 ;
527iv ;
527 ;

Localisation / Location

INIST-CNRS, Cote INIST : 25532, 35400009252207.0010

Categories: Lutheran Confessions