Archive for January, 2010

The Church Fathers and Lutheranism

January 21st, 2010 7 comments

The opinion of these fathers is that a thing should not be believed or accepted because someone of the fathers either thought or said so, unless he proves what he says from the canonical Scriptures, that the fathers could have thought differently from what truth demands, and that we have been called by the Lord to that liberty that we may freely judge about the writings of any and all persons according to the canonical writings, and that when we disapprove of anything in the writings of the fathers which does not agree with the Scripture and reject it, this is done without rashness but by a just judgment, without injury or disgrace to the fathers, without prejudice to their honor, and with their consent, and this is done by those also who are incomparably inferior to the fathers.

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, I:261

Categories: Church Fathers

Check out the New and Improved Concordia Publishing House Web!

January 20th, 2010 4 comments

Check out Concordia Publishing House’s great new web site!! It went “live” last night and we’ve already been getting a great response. I think you will enjoy all the new functionality and features and will be able to find things more easily. One of the cool features is the integration of social media on every product. See something you like and want to share? Just hit “share” and you can e-mail it, Facebook it, Tweet it, and many more ways to spread the news. Enjoy!

Categories: CPH Resources

Lutheranism’s Attitude About the Ancient Church Fathers

January 19th, 2010 1 comment

The Lutheran Church has never despised or even disregarded the traditions that have come down from the ancient fathers of the Church. What has been preserved by the teachings and doings of Christian men from the apostles’ time down to the present day is precious. The light which it gives in regard to the faith and the labors of love which the Holy Spirit wrought in other days, the lives which were rendered luminous by rays from heaven – as others were rendered dark by obscuring blackness from hell, in its rage against the Anointed of the Lord – the Church is not willing to forget. She desires to learn the lessons of history and rejoices in her fellowship with men of God who lived and suffered in the same glorious cause in which she is still engaged with the same assurance of faith which made believers strong in other days. But she knows that some professed to be Christians who were not such, and that Christians could err in the past as in the present, and therefore she applies to the Christians of other times the same unerring rule that she applies now, and holds fast as God’s truth only what is declared in God’s Word.

Matthias Loy, The Augsburg Confession, p. 179.

Categories: Church Fathers

Lutheranism is the Orthodox Evangelical Church

January 17th, 2010 3 comments

Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in that it lays great emphasis on the fact that the evangelical church is none other than the medieval Catholic Church purged of certain heresies and abuses. The Lutheran theologian acknowledges that he belongs to the same visible church to which Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, Augustine and Tertullian, Athanasius and Ireneaus once belonged. The orthodox evangelical church is the legitimate continuation of the medieval Catholic Church, not the church of the Council of Trent and the [First] Vatican Council which renounced evangelical truth when it rejected the Reformation. For the orthodox evangelical church is really identical with the orthodox Catholic Church of all times. And just as the very nature of the Reformed Church emphasizes its strong opposition to the medieval church, so the very nature of the Lutheran Church requires it to go to the farthest possible limit in its insistence on its solidarity and identity with the Catholic Church. It was no mere ecclesiastico-political diplomacy which dictated the emphatic assertion in the Augsburg Confession that the teachings of the Evangelicals were identical with those of the orthodox Catholic Church of all ages, and no more was it romanticism or false conservatism which made our church anxious to retain as much of the old canonical law as possible, and to cling tenaciously to the old forms of worship.

Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, pp. 110-11.

Categories: Lutheranism

Daily Renewal: What Does This Mean? How is This Done?

January 16th, 2010 1 comment

On the importance of the daily renewal of the Christian:

“Sin is forgiven in justification, but it still retains its roots in our heart. If the Christian therefore does not renew himself daily, his heart must soon become wild again, like a tree which is not pruned, or like a garden which is not weeded. True, in justification and regeneration we are born as God’s children, and thus the beginning according to God’s image is brought about in us. But at first we are still weak infants, who must receive their daily nourishment and strengthening in renewal if they are not to die and perish again.

“In justification we are like the one who fell among murderers. Christ indeed took pity on us and bound up our deep wounds of sin with the balm of His gracious gospel. But now, in daily renewal, we must remain under the treatment of His Holy Spirit until we are fully healed when He returns and calls us to Himself by a blessed death out of the hospital of this world. Justification and the new birth are the spiritual creation. The daily renewal of the Christian is the work of spiritual preservation. However, just as the created world would long ago have perished but for God’s preservation and government, a Christian cannot remain regenerated but for daily renewal. It is indeed well if faith has once been implanted in the heart, but then it requires daily watering, as Paul says. In this way the Lord grants also the final increase for final apprehension and enjoyment of eternal life.

“Hence, what is daily renewal? It is the continuation of the work of grace begun by the Holy Spirit in our soul in justification by faith. It is the heartfelt diligence of the faithful Christian to put off the old man increasingly every day, that is, increasingly cast off all error, and to weaken, restrain, and kill sin in himself more and more. It is the daily earnest concern of a child of God to put on increasingly the new man, that is, to grow in all doctrine and knowledge and spiritual wisdom and experience, and to become more and more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ in thoughts, words, attitudes, and works.”

CFW Walther

HT: Pastor Alms

Categories: Christian Life

Haiti Earthquake Relief

January 15th, 2010 Comments off



As news of what is being called the largest earthquake to hit Haiti in more than 200 years reached LCMS World Relief and Human Care, the Synod’s mercy arm began preparing to reach out in the Caribbean nation with much needed assistance and working in cooperation with Lutheran partners.

“The unfolding drama in Haiti calls for unlimited mercy on the part of the people of the LCMS. The needs are urgent and overwhelming right now,” said Glenn F. Merritt, director of Disaster Response. “I appeal to God’s people to respond as generously as possible during this most difficult time.”

Please join this effort today … your gift in any amount — $50, $100, $500, or substantially more — will strengthen and support our men and women who will respond to disaster in Haiti in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you!

    Click here to make your donation:

Mercy forever,

Rev. Matthew Harrison

Matthew Harrison,
Executive Director

LCMS World Relief and Human Care

P.S.: For updates please go to the LCMS World Relief and Human Care website at:

Any funds not needed for this relief effort will be used for other disaster purposes as determined by LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Your gift is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Categories: Uncategorized

Reformation Theology Research Award Announcement

January 15th, 2010 Comments off

Sponsored by Concordia Publishing House

To promote the study of Lutheran Confessional theology (16th century to present), its history, and its application in congregational life.

2011 Topic
American theologian, C. F. W. Walther, in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birth

Research paper or commemorative sermon and prayer

Cash Award
$1,200 award for the best original research paper; $600 award for the 2nd place paper
$200 award for best commemorative sermon and prayer (May 7 commemoration of C. F. W. Walther, Theologian)

Publication Honors
The award-winning papers, other selected papers, and the best commemorative sermon and prayer will be published with a bibliographic essay on the state-of-the art in research on C. F. W. Walther’s service as a theologian. The publication will also include the jurors’ list of noteworthy researchers and their research topics so that writers may collaborate for future study.

Term and Conditions (Summary)
Anyone may enter a 25-page research paper with 3–5 pages of bibliography. Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastors and divinity students may enter a sermon and prayer. However, each submission must carefully adhere to the terms and conditions of the award (details provided below). Submit your text to:

Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht, STM

Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht
Concordia Publishing House
3558 S. Jefferson Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63118-3968

To maintain objectivity, the senior editor will catalog the entries and remove the names of all authors. A panel of theologians will jury all entries submitted by October 31, 2010. Announcement of award winners will coincide with the publication of the finalist papers in 2011.

Please read the extended entry for the terms and conditions.

Term and Conditions (Details)

The entry period for a submission of: 1) a research paper, or 2) a commemorative sermon and prayer, on C. F. W. Walther begins January 31, 2010 and ends October 31, 2010. No additional submissions will be accepted after the close of the entry period.

Any individual may submit a research paper and its bibliography. Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastors or divinity students may submit a sermon and prayer. Employees of Concordia Publishing House who are or were employed during the term described above, members of the Board of Directors at Concordia Publishing House, and jurors appointed for the award are not eligible to participate. All participants must submit accurate and truthful information about themselves in English. CPH will not reveal identities of participants unless and until they receive awards and publication honors.

Research Paper and Bibliography Format

A paper must present original and previously unpublished research. A paper may not exceed 25 manuscript pages in length (8.5” x 11” page; 12-point Roman font; double-spaced type). Entries must be in MS Word. The body text must be written in English; footnotes may include texts cited from other languages. All annotations must have complete reference information and conform to the CPH Style Sheet. The jury process requires anonymity. Documents written so as to reveal the writer’s identity will be disqualified. (E.g., Do not write with personal references to earlier work such as, “In an earlier article, I showed . . . .” A previously published writer should refer to himself in the third person.) A research paper will investigate historical theology by integrating doctrinal history, personal history, and church history within the broader context of civilization. It will present original research and conclusions. Its thesis will be introduced with the words, “The thesis of this paper is . . . .” The paper will include explicit references to passages from the Lutheran Confessions and may include interaction with other theological traditions as appropriate to the topic. The final section of the paper shall have the heading, “Application to Parish Life Today.” There you will compare/contrast the paper’s historical theology topic with issues faced by people now, concluding with admonition and encouragement for modern readers. Each research paper shall be accompanied by 3–5 pages of bibliography (8.5” x 11” page; 12-point Roman font; double-spaced type). Under the heading, “Primary Resources,” the participant will list all primary resource material used. Following a heading, “Secondary Resources,” the participant will list all helpful secondary resources used that pertain directly to Walther. (The bibliography should not include general reference works such as lexicons, unless cited for specific arguments in the paper.) Bibliographic entries must be in MS Word, have complete reference information, and conform to the CPH Style Sheet. CPH reserves the right to reject any paper that advocates teachings that are contrary to the Scriptures or the Lutheran Confessions, or which is written by an individual that has publically criticized Concordia Publishing House, or The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Sermon and Prayer Format
The Sermon and Prayer entries will focus on the May 7 commemoration of C. F. W. Walther, Theologian (Lutheran Service Book, p. xii, the hymnal of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod). Each sermon entry must be original and previously unpublished. The entry shall include: (1) the feast day, (2) the title, (3) the biblical text reference, (4) the statement of theme in capital letters, (5) a brief outline, (6) the body of the sermon, and (7) a concluding prayer. The total entry shall not exceed 5–7 manuscript pages (8.5” x 11” page; 12-point Roman font; double-spaced type). For more specific guidelines and examples, participants may consult the “Author’s Guidelines: Special Sermons” for Concordia Pulpit Resources.
Jurors will consider the style and content of the sermon and prayer, with special interest in their faithfulness to the biblical text, application of the biblical text, and appropriateness to the life and service of C. F. W. Walther.
The jury process requires anonymity. Documents written so as to reveal the writer’s identity will be disqualified. (E.g., Do not write with personal references to earlier work such as, “In an earlier message, I showed . . . .” A previously published writer should refer to himself in the third person.) CPH reserves the right to reject any sermon or prayer that advocates teachings that are contrary to the Scriptures or the Lutheran Confessions, or which is written by an individual that has publically criticized Concordia Publishing House, or The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Submission of Entries
Entries must include the writer’s complete contact information (email address, mailing address, and phone number) in a cover letter or email. They shall be submitted to Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht, CPH Senior Editor for Professional and Academic Books & Bible Resources. They may be sent by email attached file or standard mail to the following:


Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht
Concordia Publishing House
3558 S. Jefferson Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63118-3968

The senior editor or his assistant will acknowledge receipt of each complete submission. Because the jury process requires anonymity, the senior editor will catalog all entries and remove the writer’s name from each document before the jury process begins. Documents written so as to reveal the writer’s identity will be disqualified (see above).
Judging of Qualifying Entries
A participant shall reasonably cooperate with the senior editor and the jury process in any verification of information about an entry or eligibility.
A panel of jurors will judge each entry based on the conditions of the award as well as personal assessment of the entry’s content and style. The jurors will select the best papers. They will make known the first and second place research papers and sermon/prayer to the senior editor in spring 2011. The senior editor will contact the award winners and other writers who submitted entries that will be published.

Cash Awards
$1,200 (USD) will be awarded for the best original research paper, $600 for the second place paper and $200 for the best commemorative sermon and prayer.
Publication Honors
The award-winning papers and the best commemorative sermon and prayer will be published with a bibliographic essay on the state-of-the art in research on C. F. W. Walther’s service as a theologian. In addition, other selected essays may be published. Authors of other essays selected for publication will receive a copy of the printed volume. The publication will also include the jurors’ list of noteworthy researchers and their research topics so that writers may collaborate for future study.

Additional Terms and Conditions
1) By submitting an entry to the context, each entrant hereby assigns exclusive right in their contribution to CPH for one year from the date of publication. Thereafter, they assign non-exclusive rights to CPH while the book remains in print in any form now know or hereinafter developed, including, but not limited to, electronic rights. CPH and/or its contracted general editor have the right to edit the contributions to suit the requirements of its doctrinal and editorial polices. CPH holds the right to final editorial approval. By submitting a contribution, each entrant certifies that their contribution contains no material, the publication of which would violate any copyright or other personal or property right of any person or entity and CPH may rely on the entrant’s representation in publishing their contribution.
2) CPH, as sponsor of the competition, will be the final arbiter of all questions regarding entries, judging, interpretation of the rules, and other aspects of this contest. In the event that there is an insufficient number of qualified entries or if the jurors determine in their absolute discretion that no or too few entries meet the quality standards established to award the prizes, CPH reserves the right not to award the prizes. CPH will not be responsible for incomplete, lost, late or misdirected, or illegible entries for failure to receive entries due to transmission failures or technical failures of any kind.
3) All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited.
4) By entering, entrants acknowledge compliance with these rules, including all eligibility requirements.
5) Except where prohibited, participation in the contest constitutes entrant’s consent to publication of his or her name and image in any media for any commercial or promotional purpose, without limitation or further compensation.
6) Winners agree that CPH, its employees and agents, shall not be liable for injury, loss or damage of any kind resulting from participating in this contest or from any acceptance or use of any prize awarded. Winner is responsible for all federal, state or local taxes that may be due upon acceptance of the award.
7) The prize is non-transferable.

Categories: CPH Resources

The Consensus of Purer Antiquity and Lutheranism

January 15th, 2010 3 comments

For we can affirm with a good conscience that we have, after reading the Holy Scripture, applied ourselves and yet daily apply ourselves to the extent that the grace of the Lord permits to inquiry into and investigation of the consensus of the true and purer antiquity. For we assign to the writings of the fathers their proper and, indeed, honorable place which is due them, because they have clearly expounded many passages of Scripture, have defended the ancient dogmas of the church against new corruptions of heretics, and have done so on the basis of Scripture, have correctly explained many points of doctrine, have recorded many things concerning the history of the primitive church, and have usefully called attention to many other things. And we long for this, that in the life to come we may see what we believe and hope concerning the grace of God on account of His Son, the Redeemer, as members of the true catholic church; that we may see (I say) the Son of God Himself, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and fathers, who held to the true foundation, and may enjoy intimate friendship with them to all eternity. Therefore we examine with considerable diligence the consensus of the true, learned, and purer antiquity, and we love and praise the testimonies of the fathers which agree with the Scripture.

— Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I, p. 256.

Categories: Lutheranism

Is the NIV Easier to Read Than the ESV? No, not really

January 14th, 2010 3 comments

A colleague passed this information along to me, and I to you. I think you will find it very interesting. We hear sometimes that people think the ESV reading level is more difficult than the NIV. This is, in fact, a misunderstanding. I personally did a lot of Bible reading with children for a research project last year, reading to and with pre-K through second grade. That’s one of the reasons I’m aware of this information about readability. The ESV and the NIV are on virtually the same reading grade level (ESV 7.4 and NIV 7.8). Crossway has provided very specific information about the ESV readability scores on their blog. Some might think this is biased information, since of course the publisher of the ESV would want the best possible outcome to such a question. But here is where it gets really interesting. The publishers of the New International Version have issued their own “readility” analysis, and the ESV beats the NIV here too! Here is information from Zondervan about the readability level of the NIV. There is some misinformation on the web that places the ESV on a 10th grade reading level. That may be a case of misunderstanding or of someone trying to shore up the NIV’s market position, which has been badly damaged by their decision to use gender inclusive language and by competition with the ESV. According to retailers, the ESV is growing exponentially in popularity while the NIV is now in rapid decline. Their editorial board is planning a revision of the NIV. You can read about that here.


January 14th, 2010 Comments off

Please listen carefully to Pastor Harrison’s report and prayerfully consider what you are led to do to respond to this horrible, horrible disaster. You can also listen to a radio interview with Pastor Harrison. We have many dear friends and colleagues in ministry in Haiti, and as you know very well, any of us who have been blessed to meet these fine men of God and our fellow Christians in Haiti are deeply, deeply moved by these events. Their faces are before us and we remember their love and humility. Their need is clear. Let us respond, generously, for we have been so generously blessed, in Christ, by our good and gracious God. Lord, have mercy. Please visit this web site for the latest information. Concordia Publishing House is doing all we can in partnership with LCMS World Relief and Human Care.

Categories: Uncategorized

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Praying

January 14th, 2010 3 comments

Praying Hands, by Albrecht Dürer. Public domain.

Martin Luther offers some excellent advice for what to do when you just don’t feel like praying, when you think you don’t have time, when the cares and worries of life are so great they crowd out your prayers.

When I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little psalter, hurry to my room, or if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do. It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.

[Source: Treasury of Daily Prayer pg. 1087. Original Source: Martin Luther, "A Simple Way to Pray", pg. 193 - Vol. 43 of Luther's Works (American Edition). Augsburg Fortress: 1968. Also available as a A Simple Way to Pray from Northwestern Publishing House] HT: Pastor Gumm

What Does That Wild and Colorful Book of Revelation Mean?

January 13th, 2010 5 comments

Let’s talk about what is perhaps the wildest, weirdest, most colorful book of the Bible: Revelation. It has been the subject of great debate and controversy in the Church, and has provided a lot of material for film makers and popular novelists to use to roll out the latest end times movie or the latest speculative “Left Behind” type books.

But, what does Revelation really mean? What can it teach us?

Now’s your chance to understand this mysterious and baffling book of the Bible with Concordia Popular Commentary: Revelation. Follow the link to the book and you can download a sample of the book.

Revelation can bring to mind terrible visions of war, disaster, persecution, and global destruction. It challenges the reader with symbols and hidden meanings. Yet the golden thread that runs through Revelation is Christ with His Church in worship on earth and in heaven. This commentary explores and explains the final testimony of the ascended Lord before His return in judgment.

This book draws its content from the best-selling book Revelation-Concordia Commentary series. This new lay-friendly edition includes all of the original translation and commentary but excluds technical notes, original biblical languages, and terminology required of an academic edition.

Categories: CPH Resources

How Do You Choose a Religion?

January 13th, 2010 8 comments

Ken O. sent this blog post link to me, and with it some perceptive remarks and a question. Here’s the link and here are Ken’s observations:

How do we maintain the richness of our Lutheran heritage and the power of God’s Word in a society where people are “paralyzed by choice?” The rational side of me says it’s all by the power of the Holy Spirit and in God’s hands. The more emotional (marketing) side of me says…there’s got to be something else we can do…but, what?

What do you say?

A Wordless Gospel is Like a Digitless Phone Number

January 12th, 2010 10 comments

How many times have you bumped into the expression, “Preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words.” I detest that expression. I think I understand why some people like it, they want to emphasize the need to not only be hearers, but doers of the Word. OK, I get that, but the vast majority of those who use the phrase do so to denigrate doctrine, to advocate the whole “deeds not creeds” mentality. Well, I overheard on Justin Taylor‘s blog this wonderful retort, which I will use each time I hear this expression, going forward:

Saying “Preach the gospel; if necessary use words” is like saying “Tell me your phone number; if necessary use digits.”

Categories: Theology

Why Liturgical Lutheran Worship is Important

January 11th, 2010 23 comments

How did the founding fathers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod regard the historic liturgy of the Lutheran Church? Let’s let Dr. C.F.W. Walther answer that question:

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 Papism in outward things. It is a pity and a dreadful cowardice when one sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American sects, lest they accuse us of being Catholic. Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that the sects can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?” We are not insisting that there be uniformity of perception or feeling or of taste among all believing Christians – neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he is. Nevertheless it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extend that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are addressed or instructed (NOTE: if Walther were writing today, he’d no doubt add: they look like movie theatres in which the hearers are entertained!), while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. (Essays for the Church, Volume 1, p. 194 (St. Louis, CPH, 1992).