Archive for August, 2009

Two Lutheran Study Bibles? A Cautionary Tale

August 30th, 2009 10 comments


In light of the release of The Lutheran Study Bible, I thought it would be a good time to re-run a blog post from several months ago, explaining the important differences between the ELCA’s new Bible, which their publishing company titled Lutheran Study Bible, and The Lutheran Study Bible. By the way, they titled it that knowing The Lutheran Study Bible was on its way. Go figure.

I encourage you to advise everyone you know that the ELCA Bible is not The Lutheran Study Bible by CPH. The two Bibles are quite different in content, style and purpose. Most significantly, the ELCA Bible takes a different approach on key doctrinal points than does The Lutheran Study Bible. So, please be aware, and spread the word, that The Lutheran Study Bible the ELCA Bible are something quite different from each. Be sure to point people to The Lutheran Study Bible web site, or its Facebook Group, or Twitter feed.

This post examines two issues in both Bibles as a way of illustrating the stark and dramatic contrast between these two Bibles. To distinguish between these two Bibles, they shall be referred to as The Lutheran Study Bible and the ELCA Bible. The two topics used to illustrate the stark difference between the two Bibles are: the Great Commission and the topic of homosexuality.

The Great Commission

The Lutheran Study Bible on the Great Commission

28:18–20 Though all God’s people are to bear witness to the Lord (cf Ps 145; Is 43:10), the focus here is on the apostles and their calling as leading witnesses and representatives of Jesus. (Compare to the authorization in Mt 10:1–7.)

28:18 “All authority.” Christ’s human nature, which had refrained from exercising the divine authority belonging to the person of Christ, now is fully exalted and given free use of divine authority (cf v 19). “He can also powerfully effect and do everything that He says and promises” (FC SD VII 43). “The Church’s authority and the State’s authority must not be confused. The Church’s authority has its own commission to teach the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments [Matthew 28:19–20]. Let it not break into the office of another. Let it not transfer the kingdoms of this world to itself. Let it not abolish the laws of civil rulers. Let it not abolish lawful obedience” (AC XXVIII 12–13).

28:19 “make disciples.” See note, 5:1. Jesus gives us the tools to make disciples: Baptism and His teaching. all nations. Not just the Jews, but Gentiles too (cf 10:5–6). baptizing them in the name. “Name” is singular, followed by the threefold naming of the divine persons. This illustrates the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. See p 0000. Those baptized in the name of the Father have God as their Father; baptized in the name of the Son, they receive all the benefits of the Son’s redeeming act; baptized in the name of the Spirit, they receive the life-giving, life-sustaining power and presence of the Spirit. Christian Baptism is founded on this institution. See note, Nu 6:22–27. baptizing. Washing with the water of new birth. “Baptism is no human plaything, but it is instituted by God Himself” (LC IV 6). “It is necessary to baptize little children, that the promise of salvation may be applied to them, according to Christ’s command to baptize all nations (Matthew 28:19). Just as in this passage salvation is offered to all, so Baptism is offered to all, to men, women, children, infants. It clearly follows, therefore, that infants are to be baptized, because salvation is offered with Baptism” (Ap IX 52).

28:20 “teaching.” Disciples are made not only through Baptism, but through the ongoing catechetical work of the Church. observe all. Christians are called to do more than “obey”; they are called to treasure God’s Word in their hearts. commanded. Not only Christ’s moral injunctions (the Law) but also His invitation to trust in Him (the Gospel). I am with you always. Not only in Spirit but also according to His human nature. See “be with,” p 0000. “He is present especially in His Church and congregation on earth as Mediator, Head, King, and High Priest. This presence is not a part, or only one half of Him. Christ’s entire person is present, to which both natures belong, the divine and the human—not only according to His divinity, but also according to, and with, His received human nature” (FC SD VIII 78). end of the age. When He returns visibly.

28:16–20 Christ commissions His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations through Baptism and teaching. Christ promises to be with us, and He is the one who makes disciples through our baptizing and teaching. Today, remember your Baptism and confirmation in the faith, which are precious blessings for the Lord’s disciples. His love and care are new for you every morning. • Send us, Lord, to make disciples in Your name in accordance with our callings in life. Amen.

The ELCA Bible on the Great Commission
28:16-20 the eleven disciples went to Galilee: The eleven meet Jesus on a mountain in  Galilee. Even when the eleven see him, some doubt. Jesus’ resurrection returns to the question of his authority in 7:28-9:34; 21:23-32. Through the resurrection, God has given Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth. This does not mean that only now does Jesus have authority. It establishes his authority exercised throughout his life and ministry (28:20). The end of the Gospel sends the reader back to the beginning (4:12-9:34), and it gives God’s answer to the Pharisees’ charge (9:34). In contrast to 10:5-6, 23, Jesus now send the disciples to make disciples of all nations. That does not mean make everyone disciples. Most people who are helped by Jesus and believe in him never become disciples. Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or ever know about him (5:30; 25:31-45). Disciples are students, called for the sake of the world to learn from Jesus and to bear witness to the kingdom. They are salt and light (5:13-16). Jesus promises to be with them always as they carry out this mission. Previously, Jesus promised to be present in the exercise of forgiveness (18:18-20) and in the “least of these” who suffer (25:31-45). (p. 1658)


Genesis 19:5 The account of Sodom

The Lutheran Study Bible
Genesis 19:5 know them. Have sex with them. Homosexual lust burned among many of the men of Sodom. Cf Lv 18:22; Rm 1:27.

The ELCA Bible
Genesis 19:1-11 This scene is an illustration of Sodom’s wickedness. The verb know refers to sexual activity. With every man involved, the result would have been gang rape (19:4-5). Sexual abuse of strangers demonstrated who was in charge (as in prisons). The sins of Sodom are most explicit in Ezekiel 16:49: pride, gluttony, prosperous ease and not aiding the poor and needy (compare with Matt. 10:14-15). That Lot would substitute his betrothed (engaged) daughters is another sign of Sodom’s immorality. In 19:30-38, Lot himself is sexually abused.

Leviticus 18:6-23: Prohibitions Against Homosexuality

The Lutheran Study Bible
Leviticus 18:6–23: Pointedly, God provides provisions for holiness in sexuality by addressing key issues of incest (vv 6–16), adultery (vv 17–18, 20), sacrificial idolatry (v 21), homosexuality (v 22), and bestiality (v 23). The Bible records Abraham’s intercourse with a servant (Gn 16:1–4), Lot’s incest (Gn 19:36), and Jacob’s marriage to his first cousins, who were also sisters (Gn 29), but it never promotes such relationships. God restates here that His original intent at creation was the ordered intimacy between one man and one woman. He makes plain that close intermarriage is now forbidden. See note, Gn 4:19.

Leviticus 18:22: Sexual intercourse was ordained by God for procreation (cf Gn 1:28) and must involve husband and wife, the “male and female” in Gn 1:27. abomination. See note, Pr 6:16.

The ELCA Bible
Leviticus 18:22-23: “you shall not lie with:” Prohibitions against sexual activity between men and between person and animal.

Read more…

The Lutheran Study Bible: Photos for Sharing

August 29th, 2009 1 comment

Here are a couple larger photos of The Lutheran Study Bible. Feel free to share these wherever you wish. Please link them back to: and thanks! TLSB

TLSB front Cover

Rejoicing and Celebrating, Thanking God for His Blessings

August 29th, 2009 Comments off

Yesterday, when The Lutheran Study Bible finally arrived, Dr. Bruce Kintz, President/CEO of Concordia Publishing House, and Mr. Jonathan Schultz, Vice-President, and yours truly, had the privilege of presenting the Bible’s General Editor, Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, with a copy. I thought you might enjoy seeing a few pictures of the happy occasion. It was a casual day at Concordia Publishing House and a “Cardinals Day” as well, so please excuse the casual dress. I told Ed that his new name shall be: “General Ed.”

Examining The Lutheran Study Bible

Examining The Lutheran Study Bible

Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht, General Editor of The Lutheran Study Bible

Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht, General Editor of The Lutheran Study Bible

My House at the House

August 28th, 2009 5 comments

Here are some photos of my office at Concordia Publishing House. Yes, I have a thing for books. I like to think it is a good thing, a very, very good thing.

Office 3

Office 1

Office 2

Categories: Uncategorized

But wait, there’s more! The first volume in the new Luther translation series came in too!

August 28th, 2009 1 comment

So, we finished up handing every CPH staff member a copy of The Lutheran Study Bible in our lobby and I come back upstairs and…the first copies of the first volume in the new series of Luther’s Works translations had been delivered to the corporate office! On the same day as The Lutheran Study Bible. How’s that for timing? And to make it even more eerie, I’ve been shooting shots of the Bible and the give-away event, and….the file number of this picture is…yes, you guessed it…69, the volume number the new series is beginning with. Read more about the series here:

Luther's Works Volume 69

Luther and The Lutheran Study Bible

August 28th, 2009 1 comment
Luther with Bible

The Lutheran Study Bible with a Bust of Luther and a Painting of Luther Posting the 95 Theses. Taken in the Concordia Publishing House corporate office.

The Foundation of The Essential Lutheran Library

August 28th, 2009 2 comments

Bible, Book of Concord, Hymnal. ’nuff said.

Essential Library

Categories: CPH Resources

The Lutheran Study Bible has arrived! First look.

August 28th, 2009 19 comments

The Lutheran Study Bible has arrived! The regular hardback edition will be shipping out to all who ordered it by the end of next week, other hardback editions will ship as they arrive in the next couple of weeks. By the end of September, we will be able to ship out all the various leather editions. So, remain patient, your copy is coming! For full information about The Lutheran Study Bible go to

Te Deum laudamus! Soli Deo gloria!

TLSB Low Res

The Lutheran Study Bible Regular Hardback Edition

TLSB lay flat

God is Not Tolerant and Grace is Not Tolerance

August 27th, 2009 5 comments

Pastor Larry Peters knocked this one out of the park. Do you agree?

Categories: pastoral ministry

Are we Lutherans, Catholics or Christians? All three, and here’s why.

August 27th, 2009 4 comments

My collegue, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, likes to share crumbs that fall from the master’s table he is working at, as he edits Johann Gerhard’s Loci Theologici. Here is the latest pearl of wisdom from Dr. Gehard Ben just shared with me, and I with you. You are, I assume, buying the volumes in the Gerhard Loci series? Hint-hint. Nudge-nudge.

The volume on Scripture and Theology is out, and so is the volume on the doctrine of the Trinity, before the end of this year, the volume on Christ will be in print and next up is the volume on the Church. Here are the various Gerhard resources available from Concordia Publishing House. Here is the pearl.

It is not we who call ourselves Lutherans. Rather, our adversaries call us that. We allow this to the extent that this title is an indication of the consensus that our churches have with the orthodox and catholic doctrine that Luther set forth from Holy Writ. Therefore we allow ourselves to be named after Luther, not as the inventor of a new faith but as the asserter of the old faith and the cleanser of the church from the stains of Papist dogmas. Consequently, we also do not reject the names “Christian” and “catholic,” nor do we render ourselves unworthy of them by the approval of any heretical dogma, as did the Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, etc. Rather, we are called “Christians” from Christ as the only Author and Teacher of our faith. We are called “catholics” from our consensus with the catholic faith. We are called “Lutherans” from Luther as the asserter and defender of that faith, but especially as the reformer whom God raised up.

—Johann Gerhard, On the Church (Theological Commonplace XXV), § 156.

Categories: Uncategorized

New Luther Translations: Never Before in English

August 27th, 2009 3 comments

Picture 4In a few weeks the first volume in a project twenty-volume series of never-before translated works of Martin Luther will be available. A letter to all Lutheran pastors in several Lutheran church bodies in the USA and Canada is going out this week. This truly is a major publishing event, for it has been several decades since there has been an effort to bring more of Luther into English. The project, about which you can read more here:, has the highest praise from Lutheran pastors, theologians and scholars across all Lutheran denominations. The series’ managing editor, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, offers these words of explanation about the series:

Dear friends,

Since the publication of the American edition of Luther’s Works in English began in 1955, there has been an explosion in the translation of Luther into the languages of the globe. Although the existing volumes of the American edition are the most extensive collection of Luther’s works in translation, they do not contain everything that has attracted the attention of historians and theologians in subsequent decades nor everything that Luther’s contemporaries and successors esteemed and republished.

Concordia Publishing House is happy to announce an expansion of the popular English series of Luther’s writings: Luther’s Works: American Edition. The twenty planned new volumes reflect both modern and sixteenth-century interests and expand the coverage of genres underrepresented in the existing volumes, such as Luther’s sermons and disputations.

This series is translated from Luther’s original Latin and German into clear, accessible, modern English, making it ideal for undergraduate use. In addition, the introductions and footnotes make significant academic contributions and are thus an important resource for graduate-level research. Read what scholars are saying:

“Luther’s analysis of human life and his proclamation of God’s merciful deliverance of humankind from sin and evil through Christ ring true across the cultural boundaries of time and space. This supplement to the historic edition of the reformer’s writings, completed a quarter century ago, is bringing significant additions to the texts from his pen than are currently available in English. It will also provide English-language readers access to documents that aid in understanding Luther’s own life and the development of the Wittenberg Reformation. The volumes are being edited according to the highest academic standards and their introductions and notes offer readers helpful guides to the context and content of the reformer’s writings. Casual readers and those seeking to expand and deepen their knowledge of the Reformation will profit greatly from these carefully translated and edited volumes.” Robert Kolb, Missions Professor of Systematic Theology, and Director of the Institute for Mission Studies, Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri

“There is no better way to understand Luther than to read his works. This edition will give insight into Luther’s development and the exposition of his biblical theology. English-speaking readers will become acquainted with crucially important texts like the Heidelberg Disputation or his lectures on the Psalms, presented in a very accurate manner. I welcome this important undertaking on the way to the Reformation jubilees in 2017!” Volker Leppin, Chair for Church History at Jena (Germany), Member of the Academy of Sciences of Saxony at Leipzig, Member of the Continuation Committee of the International Congress for Luther Research and of the Advisory Council for the Preparation of the Reformation Jubilee in Germany

To see a complete prospectus of the new series or to read more endorsements, go online to I hope you will agree that this series is important for your institution.

Subscribe today online or call 1-800-325-3040.

Sincerely, Benjamin T. G. Mayes, Ph.D. Managing editor, Luther’s Works; general editor, Johann Gerhard’s Theological Commonplaces

Bad Vestments Blog

August 26th, 2009 5 comments

idahoThis is now one of my “must read” blog sites: Bad Vestments Blog. It is a site that is free from denominational pettiness. It features the best of the worst vestments, very ecumenically. Spend a few minutes here and you will either be laughing, or crying, or laughing so hard you start crying. See for yourself here.

Categories: Uncategorized

LCMS President A.L. Barry on the ELCA’s Ecumenical Decisions

August 25th, 2009 2 comments

I was reviewing my files and came across this statement that Dr. A. L. Barry, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, made to our Synod after the ELCA entered into full communion with three Reformed church bodies in the mid-1990s. I appreciated Dr. Barry’s words then, and perhaps even more now, in the wake of the more recent decisions made by the ELCA. I think you will too.


A Statement from The Office of the President
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
1333 South Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63122
United States of America

I have had an opportunity to comment elsewhere on the ecumenical decisions reached by the ELCA at its churchwide assembly this past August, but here I would like to offer a few additional remarks. This is the first chance I have had to address this issue in an edition of The President’s Newsletter.

Needless to say, the ELCA assembly made very troubling decisions. They adopted full communion with three Reformed churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ. These three churches hold to positions on doctrinal and ethical issues that are clearly contrary to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

Most people in our Synod were very much saddened to learn that the ELCA is now in full communion with these churches, particularly the United Church of Christ, which tolerates the ordination of actively homosexual persons in some of their congregations and supports an openly pro-abortion position. Members of our Synod were also deeply disappointed that the ELCA itself was unable to vote to place even the mildest of restrictions on the payment for elective abortions in its church-run health plans.

In addition to these more “attention-grabbing” concerns, there is the fact that the three Reformed Churches still embrace the historic doctrinal errors that the Lutheran Confessions clearly reject and condemn as contrary to God’s Word in regard to key theological issues such as the Lord’s Supper. When one adds to this the fact that the ELCA also adopted a declaration on justification that indicates that the historic differences between the Roman church and the Lutheran church in regard to the chief article of the faith, justification, are no longer applicable-the word “stunning” is one that continues to surface among the reactions I receive.

This situation presents our Synod with a significant challenge and a very important opportunity. We feel no joy over the ELCA’s decisions. The ELCA’s recent ecumenical decisions represent a significant movement away from historic Lutheranism.

As I shared with the ELCA assembly, our Synod remains open and willing to discuss these serious matters. We will continue to express to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA, including her leaders, why our Synod believes that these decisions are unacceptable for a Lutheran church and why these decisions have made Lutheran unity more difficult than ever before. We will not discontinue our humanitarian efforts with the ELCA for we recognize that such joint humanitarian efforts consists of cooperation in externals, that is, cooperation in matters that do not touch upon the church’s doctrines and practices.

Now, more than ever before, it is essential that we not give anyone the impression that the differences between our two churches are trivial. There are profound doctrinal differences between our two churches which I have commented on elsewhere.

We need to be very clear that our differences with the ELCA are genuine doctrinal differences, not merely differences in practice, as some both within and without our Synod suggest. We must counteract such misleading thoughts.

Most importantly, our Synod needs to reach out to those within the ELCA who are now feeling as if they have lost their church. Winsomely, yet clearly, we need to help them understand our position on these issues. More than talk, we need also to welcome any ELCA congregation, pastor or layperson who now recognizes that their church body has made a decision that compromises what it means to be a fully Lutheran church.

For all Lutherans, as I said in my press release on this subject, this moment presents a wonderful opportunity to really grapple with the question of what it means to be a confessional Lutheran church in this day and age. What does it really mean to say we embrace the Holy Scripture as the inerrant and inspired Word of God? What things will therefore be rejected? What things will therefore be raised high as items that can never be compromised or bargained away? What does it mean to say we subscribe unconditionally to the Lutheran Confessions as a pure exposition of the Word of God? What issues are non-negotiable and can never be surrendered or given up by Lutherans who wish to remain genuinely confessional Lutherans? What makes for true church union? Is “agreeing-to-disagree” an appropriate attitude for Lutherans when it comes to establishing church fellowship? These and many other questions will offer us opportunities to provide clear theological leadership.

So, while this is indeed a very unfortunate moment in the history of the Lutheran Church in America, it is also a moment of opportunity we have never had before in the history of our Synod. Never before have the alternatives in Lutheranism in this country been so plain and so clearly defined. May God give us the wisdom and strength to embrace this opportunity for the sake of the truth.

Categories: Uncategorized

Welcome New Readers

August 25th, 2009 10 comments

welcome_mat The past week has seen a 34% increase in visitors to Cyberbrethren, probably because of the extensive coverage of the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly decisions and posting of various reactions and statements. If you have a moment, feel free to add a comment and let us know who you, and where you are from. Thanks for reading.

Categories: Blogging

Are the Lutheran Confessions Just Relics of the Sixteenth Century?

August 24th, 2009 9 comments

A Lutheran pastor recently made an observation that I found very well put. What do you think?

I believe there are a whole lot of voices in our theological community who think the Confessions are so 16th century. For me what is at the heart of the Lutheran Confessions, as noted so simply and repeatedly in Luther’s explanation of the three articles of the Creed in his Small Catechism, is that the action that makes a difference is in the hands of our Triune God. The result as the explanation to the second article concludes is that “I might be his own, live under him in his Kingdom, and serve him…”

For me this is simply bedrock truth for all centuries and especially needed today. Look at seminary continuing education offerings and ask yourself if there is much of any sense that our God holds any of the action that is at the heart of our faith. One offering after another focuses on some aspect of our leadership, management, etc. We are the players who must improve our skills at this or that or our witness will be crippled. Yes, we can be helped by some of that learning, but living under the sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ to whom all authority has been given in heaven and on earth is ever so much more important.

Categories: Lutheran Confessions