Archive for September, 2009

I Thought Every Day Was Blasphemy Day: International Blasphemy Day is Coming

September 25th, 2009 4 comments

Just picked this up over e-mail. If you actually notice an increase in the already high level of blasphemy all around, well, now you’ll know why: it’s blasphemy day! I’d like to suggest that the organizers of this event arrange to celebrate it in a Muslim nation in the Middle East and they shall soon gain a greater appreciation for their rights in the USA, if they live to tell of it.

Amherst, New York (Sept. 25, 2009)–The Center for Inquiry will draw attention in several major cities across the continent this Wednesday with its robust participation in International Blasphemy Day. Events are scheduled for Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., Austin, Tucson, Tampa Bay, and Amherst, N.Y.Sept. 30 is the anniversary of the original 2005 publication of the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. The fury which arose within the Islamic community following this publication led to massive riots, attacks on foreign embassies and deaths. Four of the cartoons were reprinted in Free Inquiry magazine in support of the public’s right to free expression and criticism.

Participation in Blasphemy Day is part of the Center for Inquiry’s larger Campaign for Free Expression, an effort to focus attention on one of the most crucial components of freethought: the right of individuals to express their viewpoints, opinions, and beliefs about all subjects–especially religion. “Placing religion off limits in social discourse is just another, gentler way of prohibiting examination and criticism of religion,” CFI President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay said. “In my view, all subjects of human interest should be open to examination and criticism by humans.”

Other elements of the Campaign for Free Expression include:

  • A Blasphemy contest to create a phrase, poem, or statement that considered blasphemous–deadline Oct. 1.
  • A Free Expression essay contest open to all students currently enrolled in accredited colleges and universities, with the winner receiving a $2,000 award–deadline, Jan. 5, 2010.
  • A cartoon contest, judged by professional cartoonists, in which the theme will be the doctrines of humanity’s many and various religions (CFI aims to be as ecumenical as possible)–deadline to be announced.
  • The launching of a new Web site, Please Block Us, featuring reports on recent censorship attempts and controversies as well as original material that would be suppressed under the laws of some countries. It’s an open invitation to oppressive governments to block its material from their citizens’ access, thus highlighting their opposition to free expression. Offending nations’ names will be listed on the site.
  • Public discussions and writings devoted to the contemporary champions of free expression.
  • A petition drive urging relevant United Nations bodies not to limit speech critical of religion.
  • Special events with prominent guest speakers; and much more.

The motivation behind Blasphemy Day is not simply to come up with ways to offend the religious. It’s meant to call attention to human rights–especially the right to free expression and the right to openly criticize unreasonably shielded ideas.

The Center for Inquiry/Transnational, a nonprofit, educational, advocacy, and scientific-research think tank based in Amherst, New York, is also home to the Council for Secular Humanism, founded in 1980; and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP), founded in 1976. The Center for Inquiry’s research and educational projects focus on three broad areas: religion, ethics, and society; paranormal and fringe-science claims; and sound public policy. The Center’s Web site is .

Categories: Culture

“Get this Bible!” Rev. Matthew Harrison’s Endorsement of The Lutheran Study Bible

September 25th, 2009 Comments off

thumbs_upRev. Matthew Harrison, the Executive Director of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Board for World Relief and Human Care, shared these words of endorsement with us recently:

On April 2, 1875, Dr. C.F.W. Walther finished his forward to the Concordia Publishing House reprint of Das Weimarische Bibelwerk, that is, The Weimar Bible, which had been produced under the careful eye of Ernst Salamo Cyprian, 150 years earlier. CPH reprinted the “last edition of 1768, unchanged.” It is a massive book of some 2000 folio pages. Walther noted that while he did not assert that every single note on every passage of the bible concurred with the actual meaning given the text by the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, “we speak on the basis of many years of use of the work, together with a chorus of the most enlightened theologians of our church, that we are most certain that in this bible the reader will find the exposition of scripture completely in accord with the analogy of the faith (Romans 12:7), in the purely golden doctrine…”

I now have in my hands, what I believe will prove to be the greatest study bible ever produced in English, and that particularly for the reason Dr. Walther praised the Weimar Bible. The genuine Lutheran and biblical faith rings like a bell in all the notes, the charts, and the supplemental essays. Luther’s prefaces grace every book along with notes on the challenges and blessings for the reader. The notes are laced with devotional material and prayers (Small Catechism included). The ESV is a vast improvement over the NIV, particularly in the translation of verses having to do with the sacraments. TLSB recovers the cross-reference system used in the Luther Bible tradition). The chronological charts are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a bible. I love the running date at the top of each page, letting the reader know when in history the events on that page are occurring. The study notes, are all written by confessionally faithful Lutherans (laced with quotes from other faithful teachers), with clear emphasis on law and gospel, mission, and the Lutheran and Christian sola fide, sola gratia, sola scriptura.

The long list of contributors is a tribute to the grace of God in giving us so many faithful Lutheran leaders around the world, on every continent, from every tribe and language, so to speak. The bible makes full use of the gifted seminary scholars we have, and the Concordia Commentary Series. The notes are full of quotes by ancient church fathers, and Martin Luther, Martin Chemnitz and the Lutheran confessions.

Through Amos, the Lord said, “I will send a famine in the land – not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.” (8:11-12).

The Word of God! That is where the renewal of the church is always found! Always! Nowhere else! Every congregation would do well – as it orders these bibles for all its folks – to add an additional ten percent to send these bibles all over the world, to our Lutheran friends everywhere, partner church or not. Major donors should consider gifts to CPH to have the book translated into Spanish, Arabic, and perhaps French and Swahili.

I recall as a young seminarian when the Concordia Self Study Bible came out. There was some rumbling at the seminary about this or that. It’s notes were just tweaked by our scholars. The NIV was problematic, etc., etc. But when I got into the parish, I found laypeople who just wanted to learn the bible. They had all sorts of bibles that were either weak, or outright heretical (millennialism, etc.). But we had something that would uphold and encourage the faith. I used it diligently. My people have worn them out over the years. I did too. Now comes TLSB which is infinitely stronger, exponentially more thorough. Joy! St. Augustine said somewhere that the holy scriptures are like a river so shallow a child can wade across, and at the same time so deep that an elephant can drown. He was referring to a quote by Gregory the Great (Gregory the Great (540–604) said: “Scripture is like a river, broad and deep, shallow enough here for lambs to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim” (see “Morals in the Book of Job,” 1.1.4). That’s true also of TLSB.

Congratulations CPH, Bruce Kintz, Paul McCain, Ed Engelbrecht, the board and the entire staff. Congratulations faithful seminary professors, pastors and laypeople who contributed so generously and freely.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16.

Lord have mercy. May we “tremble at your word,” may we read it as Gerhard said, as thought it were printed with ink made of the very blood of Jesus, our Savior.

In other words… get this bible.

Martin Luther’s Writings: A Bibliography and Internet Resource Guide

September 25th, 2009 2 comments

LWThanks to Mr. James Swan for compiling this resource.

Luther’s Writings (Primary Sources)

A Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians By Martin Luther, Erasmus Middleton
Edition: 3 Published by Printed for B. Blake, 1833 Original from the Complutense University of Madrid

A Manual of the Books of Psalms (tr. Henry Cole, 1837)

An Open Letter on Translating (1530)

Commentary on Galatians (1535; translated by Theodore Graebner, 1949)

A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, Martin Luther, Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Tischer, Samuel Simon Schmucker (1860)

Bondage of the Will(Henry Cole Translation,1823)

Bondage of the Will(Edward Thomas Vaughan Translation,1823)

Martin Luther on the Bondage of the Will: Written in Answer to the Diatribe of Erasmus on Free-will. First Pub. in the Year of Our Lord 1525 By Martin Luther, Henry Cole Translated by Henry Cole Published by Printed by T. Bensley for W. Simpkin and R. Marshall, 1823 Original from Oxford University

Concerning Christian Liberty By Martin Luther Published by Plain Label Books ISBN 1603030883, 9781603030885

Concerning Christian Liberty (1520: Parts One / Two / Three)

Disputation on the Divinity and Humanity of Christ (1540; tr. Christopher B. Brown)

Large Catechism (translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau, 1921)

Luther’s German Bible

Luther on the Sacraments, Or, The Distinctive Doctrines of the Evang. Lutheran Church, Respecting Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Containing a Sermon on Baptism, a Letter on Anabaptism, and His Larger Confessions on the Lord’s Supper By Martin Luther, Ambrose Henkel Published by Henkel, 1853 Original from Harvard University

Read more…

Categories: Luther's Works

Obamicon Me

September 25th, 2009 1 comment

mccainYes, this is silly. Yes, everyone is doing it, but…yes, it’s still fun. Get your’s here.

Categories: Humor

First Volume in New Luther Series: In Print and Shipping!

September 24th, 2009 6 comments

155169I would describe myself as a serious student of Luther, and a passionate fan of all things Luther. I’ve done just enough graduate-type research and study in Luther’s works and the field of Luther studies to recognize true excellence when I see it. Believe me, this is great stuff, from every perspective: pastoral, practical, clear, easy to read, superb scholarship. The full price of these volumes is $50, but as a subscriber you will receive them, as they are published, for $35. Become a subscriber. Each volume is currently priced at $49.99 each, but as a subscriber you pay only $34.99 plus shipping, a 30% saving. Volumes will release once a year and will be shipped to you automatically. This is a great price on a series like this. Trust me on this one.

I would like to ask you to support this new series by subscribing to the series. We will be publishing one volume a year. Here is where you can subscribe to the series and read the prospectus about the new new series. Read our press release below for Rev. Dr. Mayes’, the series’ managing editor, comments on this series.

More of Martin Luther’s Works Now Available in English
Expanded series offers students of Martin Luther’s teachings twenty new volumes

09.24.2009 – Saint Louis, MO—Concordia Publishing House (CPH) announces the expansion of Luther’s Works: American Edition. Twenty new volumes are being translated from Luther’s original Latin and German into clear, accessible, modern English, and the introductions and footnotes make significant academic contributions to our understanding of Luther’s confession of Christ.

The newest book, volume 69 (John 17–20) is now available at or by calling 1-800-325-3040. The book is available by itself or as a subscription. Each volume is currently priced at $49.99; subscribers pay only $34.99 each, a 30% savings. Volumes will come out once a year and will ship automatically. To learn more about the series, the Web site also includes a prospectus for the expansion of Luther’s Works: American Edition.

“Nearly five hundred years since the Reformation began, Martin Luther’s writings continue to inspire the preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ in the Christian Church around the world,” says the Rev. Dr. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, managing editor of Luther’s Works. “The twenty planned new volumes, under the general editorship of Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown are intended to reflect both modern and sixteenth-century interests and to expand the coverage of genres underrepresented in the existing volumes, such as Luther’s sermons (showing his pastoral application of the Word) and disputations (showing us Luther’s theology in a systematic context).”

The newest volume of Luther’s Works: America Edition focuses on four chapters from the Gospel of John, including Luther’s exposition of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, as well as his preached meditations on the entire Passion and resurrection of our Lord according to John.

Dr. Mayes continues, “The last part of our new volume is truly unique. For the first time, we have collected and translated all of Luther’s sermons on John 20:19–31, where Jesus breathes on His disciples, gives them the Holy Spirit, and bestows on them His authority to forgive and retain sins. The sermons here in Luther’s Works 69 show in what ways Luther’s explanation of this passage changed through his career, and in what ways it stayed the same. In every sermon Luther’s concern to uphold the forgiveness of sins through the word of absolution is clear and heartening.”

Luther’s Works: American Edition has been well received by scholars and church leaders.

Mark U. Edwards, Jr., Academic Dean at Harvard Divinity School, says, “This 20-volume new series splendidly complements its 55-volume predecessor and offers a treasure-trove of writings never before available in English, writings crucial to understanding Luther’s life, thought, and profound influence throughout the centuries.”

Carter Lindberg, Professor of Church History Emeritus at Boston University School of Theology, states, “Volume 69, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John, 17–20, is a superb example of what we can expect from the edition’s general editor, Christopher Brown. Pastors, professors, and students will profit from the judicious choice of Luther’s sermons, disputations, and exegetical works.”

Robert Kolb, Missions Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, says, “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.”

A Few Drops of Blood Recreated the Whole World

September 24th, 2009 Comments off

forensic-blood-drops-and-smears-21104952HT: Pastor Alms for this great quote from Gregory of Nazianzus. Chew on this one for a while.

We were created that we might be made happy. We were made happy when we were created. We were entrusted with Paradise that we might enjoy life. We received a Commandment that we might obtain a good repute by keeping it; not that God did not know what would take place, but because He had laid down the law of Free Will. We were deceived because we were the objects of envy. We were cast out because we transgressed. We fasted because we refused to fast, being overpowered by the Tree of Knowledge. For the Commandment was ancient, coeval with ourselves, and was a kind of education of our souls and curb of luxury, to which we were reasonably made subject, in order that we might recover by keeping it that which we had lost by not keeping it. We needed an Incarnate God, a God put to death, that we might live. We were put to death together with Him, that we might be cleansed; we rose again with Him because we were put to death with Him; we were glorified with Him, because we rose again with Him. Many indeed are the miracles of that time: God crucified; the sun darkened and again rekindled; for it was fitting that the creatures should suffer with their Creator; the veil rent; the Blood and Water shed from His Side; the one as from a man, the other as above man; the rocks rent for the Rock’s sake; the dead raised for a pledge of the final Resurrection of all men; the Signs at the Sepulchre and after the Sepulchre, which none can worthily celebrate.  Yet none of these equal to the Miracle of my salvation. A few drops of Blood recreate the whole world, and become to all men what rennet is to milk, drawing us together and compressing us into unity.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 45.

Categories: Church Fathers

“For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for thee.” Thoughts On Preaching Against Sin

September 23rd, 2009 4 comments

bellsJohn Dunne wrote: Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know gor whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. I remembered these words when I recently bumped into some perceptive remarks from Pr. David Petersen on how pastors preach against sin. I thought you might appreciate them. It always bothered me as a pastor when I heard people say, “Pastor, you preached what some people in our church really needed to hear!” They were usually always, of course, referring to some specific sin I had mentioned in my sermon. I always took that not as a compliment but as an indication my preaching of the Law and against sin was not encompassing enough, or that I had ground a personal hobby-horse more than I should have. Pastor Petersen offers these thoughts, and I welcome your thoughts on this. Here is what Pastor Petersen said:

“The problem with so much of our Law preaching is that we’re preaching against people who are absent rather than preaching to those gathered to hear the Word and receive the Lord’s Body and Blood. As is fitting with our fallen flesh, this preaching is often wildly popular, characterizes frequently by Dr. David Scaer as the boastful self-indulgence of a “self congratulatory society.” Perhaps it is best seen in the apocryphal tales of old timey LCMS Reformation services where the pastor preached at length against the pope, who never once has attended a Reformation service in the LC-MS. The problem not simply that the Law isn’t heard by those who need it . The problem is that this preaching feeds prejudice and stokes hubris in the hearts of those present. It fails to convict anyone or glorify Christ. In contrast, the Law is to be preached in such a way that the hearers would not turn to judge their neighbors, or those in the church down the street, but that they would examine their own consciences. The hearer needs to be led to recognize his own delusions and self-justifications, to see how his bad behavior is not exceptional but characteristic, that his sins come from inside himself and are a better expression of his true self than the fiction he presents to the world, all of which is to say that he is thoroughly corrupt and evil. This can be a painful and terrifying experience, but strangely, Christians love it. Christians love it because it is the Truth and it glorifies Christ. When the Law convicts us of our sins and we say “amen” to it, it and we, have told the truth. The truth feeds faith, underscores humility, and subdues the flesh. Conviction leads to repentance, a sincere sorrow over sin, a desire to do better, and a desperate hope that there is an escape provided not by justice by by mercy. This is the chief work do the Law: to lead to this desire for mercy, to lead to Christ. For the Law shows the sinner his need for a Savior and sweetens the Gospel by contrast. We preach the Law not to condemn the absent, but to condemn sin and sinners, to teach sinners the hard and humility work of examining themselves, of confessing the pitiful lies we’ve told and our self-absorption, our thousand pretend ways meant to fool ourselves and our neighbors into thinking we are better than we are, to confront what is really in us and who we really are, not as a way of nagging us to better behavior or to make us feel superior to other people, but to show us how great and selfless Christ’s rescue is. Christians love this because it is true and because it glorifies Christ. In contrast, condemning the sins of others is popular, but it does nothing to glorify Christ. Even if the grace of God prevents it from becoming open racism and the like, the only thing it might positively do is glorify morality, and we already have Aristotle for that.”

Categories: pastoral ministry

An ELCA Pastor Reflects on The Lutheran Study Bible

September 23rd, 2009 2 comments

I appreciated these remarks offered by an ELCA pastor about The Lutheran Study Bible.

“I was on vacation this past week, staying at home to continue the bathroom remodel job that was started well over a month ago… probably almost two. However, payday came and went which meant I needed to run into the office to pick up my paycheck. When I did, I found that my pre-ordered The Lutheran Study Bible from Concordia Publishing House had arrived. I really couldn’t wait to crack it open to take a look. In fact, on my way to the bank to deposit said check, I even called a colleague and giddily announced its arrival. I was that excited.

“From the very outset, I really liked the look and feel. Rich burgundy, hardcover, with golden lettering on the cover, and a subtly embossed Luther’s Rose all give the book a feel that makes it clear this book is meant to last and possess a place of honor in your home, office, library, nightstand, whatever. This study bible is clearly meant to bear great dignity.

“Of course, I am am ELCA pastor. I knew before I read one iota of substance held within that there would be significant disagreements between their view and mine. But as one friend pointed out, a denominational study will have its certain polemics (Augsburg FortressLutheran Study Bible is no less polemical; they simply go about their polemics in a different way). For instance, in the opening pages (and probably others throughout the entire bible) there are numerous references to “liberals” who read scripture differently. Their intent is clear: to set forth their own view in extremely certain and unambiguous terms. However, these labels could be much worse in their vehemence, which was actually non-existent. Most references to liberals went something like, “Some liberals read scripture to say X on this point. We read it to say Y, and here’s why…” I know there will be disagreement. The balanced and restrained response is just fine. I actually appreciate this method.

“And I need to say that I am envious. Concordia’s TLSB is what I long for Augsburg Fortress to publish. Concordia evidently put a great deal of work into this study bible. I am not saying AF did not, but everything in Concordia’s TLSB is well thought out and planned. Things hang together nicely and make sense. I did not always get that sense from AF’s LSB.

“The layout throughout TLSB is very similar to the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible (my own study bible of choice). The biblical text is on the top part of the page with explanatory notes on the bottom. In the NOAB, the annotations are kept to a defined section underneath. Every page in TLSB is varied. In the opening pages of the book of Genesis, the biblical text takes up a small percentage of the page, and the commentary takes up over (it seems) three-quarters of the page. Excessive? Perhaphs, but the text and notes seem to be intimately linked. Quotes from Reformers and Church Fathers are peppered throughout. Law/Gospel summaries are places throughout and highlighted by a cross icon. Each one of these summaries includes a prayer.

“As a person reads and prays through this bible, she will encounter maps and other excurses that speak to the issues encountered in the text itself. In Paul’s letter to the Romans for instance, a table appears that lists topics throughout the letter, along with mistaken interpretations and the then the correct understanding. And while there is a map section, finding them throughout the texts helps us to remember that the bible is not written in a historical vacuum. Quality essays appear throughout. Proper understanding of Law and Gospel, the place of the inter-testamental writings, and others are very useful and would generate much discussion if used in a group setting, I am sure.

“Despite the denominational differences, then, there is much more in TLSB that I can and will use. The more I read, the deeper I delved, the more I realized that as per usual it is Christ who is the Word revealed in scripture. That perspective is not lost in TLSB, and even with inherent biases, it is a work that can be used by Christians of many different perspectives. As with AF’s LSB, where I refused to make litmus tests out of one or two particular issues, I will hold to the same thinking with TLSB. I am happy to have this study bible in my library. It will not likely replace the NOAB in my usage (most of this has to do with the familiarity of that book to my fingers-I’ve had it for over ten years now), but I will certainly pick it up sooner than AF’s LSB. Concordia has given the Church a solid reference work, one which should be modelled throughout in many and various aspects, even if not in the particularity of parts of its interpretation.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Pastor Weedon Reflects on The Lutheran Study Bible

September 22nd, 2009 4 comments

Pastor Weedon shared a blog post recently in which he ticks through the features he really appreciates about The Lutheran Study Bible.

* the placing of the date when the events described approximately occurred at the top of each column. Folks have trouble keeping what happened when in order because the Scriptures are anything but chronological in the way they are assembled; this goes a long, long way toward helping.

* The Law/Gospel application notes. These little notes run throughout each chapter of Scripture and invite to some deep reflection on the Word just read and invariably conclude with a prayer. Scripture as a prayer book! YES!!!

* Citations from the church fathers (early and reformation) and the Lutheran Symbols. Since the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth” we’d be foolish not to consider the wisdom of our forefathers as they meditated upon the Sacred Scriptures. TLSB notes that these citations are offered not to suggest that the Fathers or the Symbols are on a par with the Sacred Scriptures, but to listen to them as we might listen to a wise old pastor who’s had years of living experience with the Word. (p. xii)

* Schnorr’s engravings. I am partial to icons, I confess, but I must say that these engravings are quite beautiful. Classic Western artistic convention and they grace many pages.

* Articles reflecting on difficult areas in the intersection between the Scriptures and life in this crazy world we’re currently living in. Wrath of God? Covered. Women in the Church? Covered. Homosexuality? Covered. What happens at death? Covered. Claims of faith healers that put an impossible burden on faith? Covered. These exceedingly well done articles pop up near the key Scripture passages that illumine these questions for us, and they let the light that is God’s Word shine upon these question and guide our steps.

* The Christological focus. It’s never lost! On every page, TLSB lets the Word of God do what our Lord says that it does: “testify of Me.” Help in hearing that testimony as Scripture interprets Scripture (or, as I like to think of it, Scripture’s enharmonics calling to each other) is invaluable.

* Geared toward confessing. The Word of God is meant to be spoken! Within the Christian Church we are to speak it to each other, and we are all called to speak it to the world. TLSB consistently reminds of this high calling and privilege to invite others to share with us the joy we have in the forgiveness of sins and adoption into God’s family.

* An extensive set of cross-references. Nothing so illumines the Word of God as the Word of God. By following the cross-references similar words or themes come to clarity. So many of the cross-reference systems in English Bibles were prepared by Christians of the Reformed community and tend to miss Sacramental allusions; TLSB uses not only the best of the typical English cross-references, but includes ones from the traditional Luther Bible. Very rich indeed!

* Reference to LSB hymns and liturgy. I’ve been delighted and surprised to find a rather tight integration with Lutheran Service Book in the notes. The people’s prayed and sung confession is further illumined by the Scripture passages that evoked these songs in the first place. An example. The notes on Psalm 51 observe: “David confesses his sin with Bathsheba in this intensely personal lament that has become significant in the Church’s liturgy (vv. 10-12 in the Offertory, v 15 in the opening sentences of Matin and Vespers and as the Introit for Ash Wednesday).” (p. 896) Totally sweet!

* Word play explained. Lots of times there’s a pun between similar sounding words in Hebrew or Greek that is simply lost in English translation. TLSB very helpfully notes these instances in the notes and will often produce a transliteration so that an English reader can hear the similarity in sound.

* Prayers for illumination. We’ve learned to look at the inside cover of the books for goodies tucked away by CPH. TLSB is no exception. There’s an order for Bible reading, prayers for understanding and growing in the Word, lots more.

* Lectionaries. The two lectionary systems of LSB are at the front of the book. Easy to look up the readings for the coming Sunday and meditate upon them prior to attending Divine Service!

* Small Catechism. Having this handy within the bound Bible is a stroke of genius – CPH already did it some years back with an earlier edition of the ESV. In this Bible it is moved up to the front – fitting as for Lutherans the Small Catechism is a summary of the entire Scriptures.

That’s about it for now, but I wanted to put these thoughts out for any who are interested. If you haven’t bought it yet, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to get it and feast richly upon the Word of God with the remarkable help it provides.

A Pastor’s First Look at The Lutheran Study Bible

September 21st, 2009 5 comments

I appreciated the remarks that Pastor Charles Lehmann shares on his blog site. I’m excerpting a good bit of his post here.

“One thing that I don’t think has been highlighted enough is how The Lutheran Study Bible stands in the tradition of older Lutheran Study Bibles. Older I say? Yes, I do say. Many of the cross referenced passages in The Lutheran Study Bible come from earlier study bibles produced as far back as the 17th century. Concordia Publishing House sat humbly at the feet of previous Lutheran generations and looked to how they were producing bibles for God’s people to study and pray. Even much of the art (yes, art!) comes from older Lutheran study bibles.

“But there are a lot of features (and I’m going to be repeating a lot of what’s been written already in saying this) make me fervently desire that as many members of Saint John’s as possible buy this book.

“The Lutheran Study Bible is devotional. Every few verses (or sometimes after a full chapter), you are given the way Law and Gospel are rightly distinguished in the text and lead into a devotional prayer. This is not accidental. It’s one of the features drawn from earlier Lutheran study bibles. It reflects the fact that Lutherans regard the Word of God as living and active. When you read it (I would say especially when you read it out loud), it works on you. It’s not mere history (though it is history). It’s not something that only happened thousands of years ago (though it did). When you read the Word of God, the Word of God happens to you now. That should evoke prayer! The Lutheran Study Bible provides you with a great way to begin that prayer. It is a version of lectio divina that sends you right back into the Word to see what will happen to you next (like a good Michael Connelly novel, except you’re in it).

“I’ve already mentioned the cross references, but it’s impossible to overplay how wonderful these are. I’ve just looked at a few of them and certain texts just sing once you see their place in the whole of Scripture. For just one example look, in Proverbs 4:22 you are pointed to Deuteronomy 32:47. The Word of God gives life to your flesh, not just now, but in the land… the Land, dear friends, is heaven!

“This Bible is also sacramental. It constantly points you to the gifts of God in the Divine Service.

“There are also a number of features that are great for those who do not yet know the Scriptures well but that also serve as a quick reference for those of us who have spent more time with them. One example is the dates at the top of the columns (which I’d not have noticed if Pr. Weedon didn’t point them out) and the wonderful introductions to each book and each set of books.

“I also noticed in a quick perusal of Matthew 6 that many of the wonderful insights from Dr. Gibb’s Matthew commentary in the Concordia Commentary Series are summarized in the notes. For those of us on a limited commentary budget, it’s wonderful to know that we will be getting some of these gems on the pages of the Lutheran Study Bible.

“The last thing I will note is the quotations that literally litter almost every page from the church fathers, Luther, and the confessors of Lutheranism. This places The Lutheran Study Bible well within the stream of historic Christianity.

“Buy it, use it, pray it. It’s a wonderful gift to the Church.”

Mass Appeal: Younger People Prefer Old Liturgy

September 19th, 2009 16 comments

File this under: what’s old is new again. 18-30 year are interested in formal, traditional, classic Christian worship forms. [Pssst: Lutheran Divine Services!]. Here’s the story and here’s a clip:

“We have noticed a growing interest in ancient or meditative liturgies, particularly among the 18-30 year old age cohort. It’s one aspect of the emerging global cultural shift that is taking place,” Pogue says. “I am proud of Trinity Church in Lawrence and Father Jensen for taking this important step in opening the doors a bit wider to include those who are seeking a service like this.”

HT: Christopher Hall.

“The Holy Word of God” New Hymn for Reformation Day. Free download.

September 18th, 2009 4 comments

Rev. Stephen StarkePicture 1 has written a beautiful hymn, with a melody written especially for it by Jeffrey Blersch. The hymn and its melody were produced for the glory to God, in thanksgiving to Him for the publication of The Lutheran Study Bible. Here are free copies of the hymn for the congregation to use and an accompaniment edition. Hymn with text and melody line: The Holy Word of God – Congr melody Accompaniment edition: thwg_hymn

NOTE: Download the PDF files provided in this post for the whole hymn. The image is merely a screen capture of the first page.

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Pocket Edition of The Lutheran Study Bible

September 18th, 2009 6 comments

pocketeditionGranted, you need a huge pocket, but…I’m proud to show off my pocket edition of The Lutheran Study Bible.

Concordia University Chicago and The Lutheran Study Bible

September 18th, 2009 3 comments

Here is a nice article in The Forester, the magazine of my alma mater, Concordia University Chicago.

What Martin Luther’s 1534 Bible translating the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures into German was for his times, The Lutheran Study Bible is for today’s English-speaking Lutherans. This year, Reformation Day, October 31, will mark the release of the long-awaited Lutheran Study Bible. Historically timely news to be sure, but a particular point of pride for members of the Concordia University Chicago campus community, because four members of the theology department were integral in bringing the project to life and completion. CUC’s Rev. Robert A. Sorensen, Ph.D.; Rev. Andrew E. Steinmann, Ph.D.; Rev., Michael A. Eschelbach, Ph.D. and Rev. James A. Kellerman contributed their scholarship, map, research and editorial skills to the project. Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis) describes The Lutheran Study Bible as “the first in English to be prepared by Lutheran contributors from more than 20 church bodies. Current scholarship, insights from the Church Fathers, and rich devotional commentary provide meaningful perspective for both young and mature Christians.” The new edition of the Bible is unique, because it is a large, one-volume edition, that offers for the first time since the Missouri Synod has moved completely to English––what the English speaking Lutheran Church had enjoyed while using the German language before: a “from the ground up” Lutheran study Bible, with exclusive use of Lutheran notes, commentaries, articles and annotations. For more information, including ordering and pricing, contact CPH at

How Old is The Earth? The LCMS Does Not Answer that Question

September 18th, 2009 67 comments

I was surprised recently when a fellow Missouri Synod Lutheran was quite upset at the thought that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod does not teach that the earth is 6,500 years old. He had assumed, incorrectly, that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has a doctrinal position on how old the earth is. The fact is, we do not. I wonder how many other LCMS Lutherans, or, people who are not LCMS Lutherans, think that somehow our church body has fallen into the trap of Biblical “fundamentalists” who have made a 6,000 year old earth as much an essential doctrine of the faith as the Virgin Birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ. Here is a nice summary of The LCMS’ position on the age of the earth.

Q. What is the LCMS position regarding the age of the earth? Must we accept literally the creation account that points in the direction of a relatively young earth, given the amount of scientific evidence that concludes the earth’s age to be in the billions of years?

A. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod does not have an official position on the precise “age of the earth,” since the Bible itself does not tell us how old the earth is. Nor is it the Synod’s position that everything in the Bible is to be understood “literally.” There is much in the Bible that clearly purports not to be understood literally–but this must be determined by the Bible itself, not by science or human reason. There is nothing in the Bible itself to suggest that the creation account is not meant to be taken literally.

The Synod has affirmed the belief, therefore, based on Scripture’s account of creation in the book of Genesis and other clear passages of Scripture, that “God by the almighty power of His Word created all things in six days by a series of creative acts,” that “Adam and Eve were real, historical human beings, the first two people in the world,” and that “we must confess what St. Paul says in Romans 5:12″ about the origin of sin through Adam as described in Genesis 3 (1967 Synodical Resolution 2-31). The Synod has also, therefore, stated that it rejects “all those world views, philosophical theories, exegetical interpretations and other hypotheses which pervert these biblical teachings and thus obscure the Gospel” (1967 Synodical Resolution 2-31).

At the same time, the Synod firmly believes that there can be no actual contradiction between genuine scientific truth and the Bible. When it comes to the issue of the age of the earth, several possibilities exist for “harmonizing” Biblical teachings with scientific studies (e.g., God created the world in an already “mature” state, so that scientific “data” leads one to the conclusion that it is older than it actually is, etc.)

Numerous books are available that discuss these issues in more detail. One of these is “Studies in Creation” by John Klotz (1985), available by calling Concordia Publishing House (1-800-325-3040), and asking for stock no. 12-3004.

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