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How Things Have Come to Where They Are in Liberal Lutheranism

June 21st, 2010 3 comments

Dr. Jack Kilcrease, a former member of the ELCA, had a great blog post recently, talking about his reading in the word by Werner Elert titled The Christian Faith. It has never been formally published, but a translation done years ago has been available for quite some time. Dr. Kilcrease makes some great points, well worth pondering. How did liberal Lutheranism in this country reach a point where they eschew Trinitarian language, and embrace deviant human sexuality, all in “light of the Gospel.” Here’s how:

“I’m in the process of re-reading Werner Elert’s The Christian Faith. It’s a bootlegged translation done back in the 70s (I have the manuscript from Luther Seminary, which I still have borrowing rights from). From what I heard (and Pr. McCain can correct me) CPH bought the rights and then found that a lot of it was heretical. So they translated the non-heretical parts and then not the rest. I will grant that a great deal of it is heretical. It is interesting and insightful at certain points though.

“This brings me to one of the points where Elert fails seriously, namely the doctrine of inspiration. He makes a series of weird statements about the authority of the Bible. First, he thinks that all Scriptural authority is based on the gospel. I don’t even know what that means. When I was in the ELCA, I had professors claim this- but I never really bought it. The difficulty with this that the gospel makes no sense if you don’t have the law. Both together don’t make any sense if you don’t have them within the context of salvation history. So, saying “the gospel” is the thing that makes the Scriptures authoritative, doesn’t make any sense, since the gospel makes no sense without things that aren’t gospel. Consequently, they must also be authoritative and then logically a subset of a larger phenomenon known as the “Word of God.”

“What I think is really going on is his existentializing and psychologizing tendency. This leads us into the next weird claim, that it’s the content of the Scriptures, not the Scriptures themselves which are authoritative.

“What? How can the content be authoritative, without the thing itself being authoritative? In other words, are you claiming that the Lutheran scholastic authors claimed that if the Scriptures were stripped of their content their would be something left over which would be authoritative? Certainly not. The content and the thing itself is no different.

“What he’s really getting at is this: he thinks that a person denigrates the authority of the gospel if you ground it in a prior theory of inspiration. In his way of thinking you’re saying “I believe the gospel, because I believe in a theory about inspiration.”

“But of course, not one really says this. David Scaer has consistently pointed to the Christological basis of the doctrine of inspiration particularly in his early work The Apostolic Scriptures. The Scriptures are authoritative because they are inspired. This inspiration is anchored in the authorization of the Old Testament (“the scriptures cannot be broken…) and the authority of the Apostles who wrote the New Testament (“those who hear you, hear me…” “I will send you the comforter, who will lead you into all truth…”) by Jesus.

“If I believe in Jesus, I will believe in the inerrant Biblical Word that he authorized. In fact, I will no other access to his person and work than to that witness. So, by believing in him and his trustworthiness, I will automatically believe in the trustworthiness of his Bible. This is what was often referred to by the Lutheran scholastics as the inner testimony of the Spirit regarding the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures.

“In the end, what Elert wants is to place authority in act of believing in Christ and his gospel and then to exclude a doctrine of inerrancy and Scripture inspiration on this basis. No one is disputing that faith comes first and this faith leads one to acknowledge the Scriptures. What Elert’s move does is in fact internalize authority in a psychological event of coming to faith. It takes the locus of authority away from the external Word and places it within the individual and their faith in Jesus.

“In the end, as we can see, this is a false decision of either/or. Faith in Christ automatically means both/and. Ultimately Elert’s reductionism gives us the current LWF and the ELCA. For this he and his companion at Erlangen have much to account for.”

Happy Father’s Day!

June 20th, 2010 Comments off

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers! I thank God for the wonderful blessing he gave me of a father who loved me beyond measure and was my best friend and supporter. He is asleep in Jesus now and his example of devotion to his ministry and his family inspires me every day. God bless all of you who have been called to the high and holy calling of father!

Categories: Uncategorized

Life is a Hospital, Christ is the Physician

June 19th, 2010 3 comments

“After Baptism there still remains much of the old Adam.  For, as we have often said, sin is forgiven in baptism, but we are not yet altogether clean, as is shown in the parable of the Good Samaritan, who carried the man wounded by robbers to an inn.  He did not take care of him in such a way that he healed him at once, but rather bound up his wounds and poured on oil.  The man who fell among robbers suffered two injuries.  First, everything that he had was taken from him, he was robbed; the second, he was wounded, so that he was half-dead and would have died, if the Samaritan had not come to him.  Adam fell among the robbers and implanted sin in us all.  If Christ, the Samaritan, had not come, we should all have had to die.  He it is who binds our wounds, carries us into the church, is now healing us.  So we are now fully under the Physician’s care.  The sin, it is true, is wholly forgiven, but it has not been wholly purged.  If the Holy Spirit is not ruling men, they become corrupt again; but the Holy Spirit must cleanse the wounds daily.  Therefore this life is a hospital; the sin has really been forgiven, but it has not yet been healed.”

That was from his last sermon preached in the town of Wittenberg in 1546.  You can read the whole of it in AE 51:375.

HT: Pr. Weedon’s sister.

The Essential Lutheran Library and The Three-Time Buyer!

June 18th, 2010 4 comments

I heard from a lady the other day who told me that she has now, personally, ordered three sets of The Essential Lutheran Library, and keeps giving them away as gifts. Nice! Here’s a picture of the latest version of The Essential Lutheran Library with the new volume Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible added to it.

Categories: CPH Resources

Confession and Liturgy Remain Inseparable in a Healthy Church

June 18th, 2010 1 comment

“Confession and liturgy belong inseparably together if the church is to be healthy. Liturgy is prayed dogma; dogma is the doctrinal content of the liturgy. The placement of liturgy above dogma, for which one hears calls in the liturgical movements of all confessions with the well-known saying “lex orandi lex credendi”…, has been opposed in the Roman Church by the present Pope Pius XII] in his encyclical “Mediator Dei”, in which he points out that one can also turn this saying around and that in all circumstances dogma should be the norm for the liturgy. If that is already known in Rome, how much more should it be known in the church that makes…the right understanding of the Gospel also the criterion for the liturgy.”

Hermann Sasse, The Lutheran Understanding of the Consecration, in We Confess the Sacraments, trans N. Nagel, Concordia, 1985.

Categories: Hermann Sasse

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, A Sinner: A Litany

June 17th, 2010 Comments off

I recently was expressing concern to my friend Pastor Weedon about a “litany” I saw being promoted for use by youth groups, well, ok griping, moaning and groaning about it, to be more accurate. It was shockingly and embarrassingly bad. Pr. Weedon simply responded by saying, “Ignore it and pray this.”

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy On Me a Sinner

A Litany by Pastor William Weedon

Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Word of the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Word through whom all things were made,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, foretold by the prophets in signs and words,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, in the fullness of time conceived by the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Holy Virgin,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, hymned by the angels,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, adored by the shepherds,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, worshiped by the Magi,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, held by St. Simeon,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praised by St. Anna,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, obedient to your parents,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to a sinner’s baptism,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, fasting in the wilderness,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, driving out demons,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, cleansing the lepers,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, teaching the precepts of the kingdom,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, raising the dead,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, walking on water and changing water into wine,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praised by the little children,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, riding into Your city as the sacrifice appointed,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, giving your body and blood to be eaten and drunk,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praying in the garden,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, bound and mocked,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, stripped and beaten,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, innocently condemned to death,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, opening Your hands upon the cross to embrace the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, knowing the loneliness of our exile and our sin,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, trampling down death by death,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, pouring forth water and blood to save the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, sanctifying our graves by lying in a tomb,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, harrowing hell and releasing the prisoners,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, rising in victory over death and corruption,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, appearing to the disciples in the broken bread,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, ascending in triumph,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, coming on the clouds of glory to renew all things,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, returning to judge the living and the dead,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, delivering the Kingdom to God the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Misreading Luther with Bishop N.T. Wright

June 17th, 2010 8 comments

Once again, Wright is wrong. In his latest book, Bishop N.T. Wright, for whom even a number of Lutherans have taken a shine, manages to mangle the theology of Martin Luther and the Lord Christ and His Apostles themselves. Here is a well stated blog post by Pastor M. A. Henderson, and following it some other remarks by Michael Horton, who, like Wright, is a Calvinist in theology. Horton states very accurately the problems in Wright’s latest book:

Welcome to ‘Misreading Luther with Bishop Tom Wright’. (I originally titled this post ‘Wright Wrong on Luther’ but thought it rather too obvious, so I hit upon the above, which might serve as the title of a series if I have enough time.)  What can I say by way of introduction to the topic? Every time I read something the very influential scholar Bishop N T Wright has said on Luther I come away scratching my head and thinking ‘Has he even read Luther?!’ For example, here’s Bishop Wright on the ‘Lutheran’ milieu he grew up in:

“I grew up as a somewhat typical middle-Anglican with a strong dash of evangelicalism, or put the other way around, I grew up in a Lutheran evangelicalism which left me with a strong antithesis between law and grace. I found this all profoundly unsatisfying until I met Calvin and Calvinism. I began to think, “Whew…the law is a good thing. It is holy and just and good. It is right and it has been fulfilled, not abrogated, in Christ.” All of that is right. So, if you are faced with a choice between Luther and Calvin, you simply have to choose Calvin.” [From an interview published in Reformation and Revival Journal, volume 11, numbers 1 and 2 (Winter and Spring 2003), available on-line] [Italics mine]  Now here’s Luther on the law: “In chapter 7, St. Paul says, “The law is spiritual.” What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart. But no one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart. Such a law is spiritual since it can only be loved and fulfilled by such a heart and such a spirit. If the Spirit is not in the heart, then there remain sin, aversion and enmity against the law, which in itself is good, just and holy.” [Italics mine] Imagine that, Luther actually agrees with Bishop Wright that the law is “good, just and holy”! Clearly, Wright has (mis)read Luther as antinomian, and pegged him as the source of what perplexed him growing up in middle-of-the-road evangelical Anglicanism, which eventually sent him running to Calvin as his guiding light (although more than a few Calvinists are upset at the direction Bishop Wright’s theology has taken since, but that is a subject for another post).  If only Bishop Wright had actually read a text as basic as Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, from which the above quote is taken – not to mention the Small Catechism - he would have known that what he was hearing from evangelical Anglican pulpits as a young man was not Lutheranism at all, but antinomianism, which Luther goes on to reject in the very same little preface, following the Apostle Paul closely, of course.  A lecturer at my alma mater, Luther Seminary in Adelaide, once wisely said, “If you want to understand someone’s theology, try to understand their biography.” Alas, it seems that Tom Wright’s youthful misadventures with ‘Lutheranism’ were formative for his theology, which might not matter but for the fact that he is probably the single most influential ‘evangelical’ theologian writing today, and well read by Roman Catholics as well, as a visit to my local Catholic book shop will testify. Indeed, the local bishop is a Wright fan, and no wonder, I might add, given the implications of Bishop Wright’s theology for the magisterial Reformation’s doctrine of justification (of which more anon., d.v.). To the many evangelicals who buy Wright’s books, including his series of popular-level New Testament commentaries which are rapidly filling the place once occupied on the layperson’s bookshelf by another scholar who abounded in dubious opinions, William Barclay, one can only say: caveat emptor!

– + –

Michael Horton has an interesting review in CT of N.T. Wright’s After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters.

Horton is essentially positive about the book’s proposals, and yet mystified at Wright’s repeated caricatures of a rich resource for building on, and supporting, the good points made therein.

An excerpt:

In spite of a few quibbles, I was impressed by this book’s popular presentation of themes that I have come to appreciate in Reformed theology. The eschatological emphasis on cosmic renewal (resurrection, not escape) as the impetus for our lives here and now, the emphasis on the church—in fact, just about everything in After You Believe was a fresh way of exploring many familiar truths.

Hence my surprise at the jarring, frequent caricatures of the Reformation, even when the author articulates long-standing emphases in that tradition.

Here’s the conclusion:

While there are many good biblical-theological studies that make the same points, Wright—ever the master of metaphor and turns of phrase—is especially effective in communicating the richness of the Bible’s eschatological horizon to a wide audience. Nevertheless, his imprecision about the views that he targets for criticism is careless, depriving him—and his readers—of resources and allies for a message that is on so many points a vital and necessary corrective.

HT: Scott Clark

Via Justin Taylor

Categories: Theology

Bach’s Cello Suites: A Sublime New Recording

June 16th, 2010 10 comments

If you are fan of Bach’s cello suites, which I believe are truly some of the most sublime music Bach wrote, and that’s saying a lot, then you are going to love this recent recording of them by Zuill Bailey, a performer I featured in a blog post recently, showing him playing some of the cello suites. I highly recommend this recording. You can get it from Amazon for only $13. The instrument Bailey uses for this recording is truly a one-of-a-kind cello that fully captures all the voice-like quality of Bach’s compositions. Before Bach came along with his cello suites, the cello was kind of a, ok, are you ready?, kind of a second-fiddle instrument. But never again after Bach gave us these cello suites. People much more in the know than I am about such things tell me that for a cello player, a complete recording of Bach’s works for solo cello is the “Mt. Everest” of cello playing. Bailey has clearly planted his flag on the top of the mountain with this recording.

Categories: Bach

A Church Without Patristics Becomes a Sect

June 15th, 2010 19 comments

“The great truths of the faith that the Holy Spirit led the church of Christ to recognized in the weighty doctrinal struggles of the early centuries, and which have been recognized by the orthodox church down through the ages as the true interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, do not cease to be truths because they have been abused, taken apart, or even denied. If there is one thing that especially Evangelical* theology in our time has to learn from Luther and the Confessions of the Reformation, it is that the ancient church must be taken seriously. The history of the church did not stand still, as many a young theologian today seems to think, from the death of the last apostle until Luther arrived on the scene. The decline of the knowledge and study of patristics among the present generation of theologians threatens to become a disaster for our theology unless it is turned around. A church without patristics becomes a sect.”

“I Believe in the Apostolic Church”
by Hermann Sasse
(Originally written in 1936)

* By “Evangelical theology”, Sasse means Lutheran theology.

Translated by M.A. Henderson from the text found in In Statu Confessionis, Lutherisches Verlagshaus, Berlin & Hamburg, 1966. The translation of Norman Nagel found in We Confess Jesus Christ (Concordia Publishing House, St Louis, 1986) was also consulted for purposes of comparison and accuracy. HT: What Sasse Said Blog

Categories: Hermann Sasse

Book of Concord FAQ

June 15th, 2010 1 comment

Title Page from 1580 Book of Concord

Soon, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of the publication of Book of Concord on June 25, 1580, exactly 50 years after the presentation of the Augsburg Confession on June 25, 1530. Here is a resource that many people have found helpful, and I thought it might be a good idea to post this now, in case you want to share it with folks to honor the anniversary date.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Book of Concord

A poll was taken of over 2,000 Lutheran pastors, asking them to list the questions they most frequently are asked about the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord. The following are the questions pastors reported most commonly being asked.


What is the Book of Concord?
The Book of Concord is a book published in 1580 that contains the Lutheran Confessions.

What are the Lutheran Confessions?
The Lutheran Confessions are ten statements of faith that Lutherans use as official explanations and summaries of what they believe, teach, and confess. They remain to this day the definitive standard of what Lutheranism is.

What does Concord mean?
Concord means “harmony.” The word is derived from two Latin words and is translated literally as “with one heart.”

What does confession mean?
When used in this context, confession means “to say what you believe.” The Lutheran Confessions are statements of faith that Lutherans use to say to the world, “This is what we believe, teach and confess. ”

What is in the Book of Concord?
The Book of Concord contains the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology [Defense] of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord.

What are the Ecumenical Creeds?
Creed is from the Latin word credere, which means “to believe.” The three creeds in the Book of Concord are the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. They are described as “ecumenical,” meaning “universal,” because they are accepted by the majority of Christians worldwide as correct expressions of what God’s Word teaches.

What is the Augsburg Confession and Apology of the Augsburg Confession?
In the year 1530, the Lutherans were required to present their confession of faith before the Holy Roman Emperor in Augsburg, Germany. The Augsburg Confession was publicly presented on June 25, 1530. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession was written to defend the Augsburg Confession. Apology means “defense” when used in this way.

What are the Small and Large Catechisms?
Martin Luther wrote two handbooks in 1529 to help families and pastors teach the basics of the Christian faith. The Small Catechism and the Large Catechism are organized around six topics: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. The catechisms were so universally accepted that they were included as part of the Book of Concord in 1580.

What are the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope?
Martin Luther wrote a set of doctrinal articles in 1537 for an alliance of Lutheran princes and territories, known as the Smalcaldic League. Luther’s articles were widely respected and were eventually included in the Book of Concord. At the same meeting that considered Luther’s articles, Philip Melanchthon was asked to expand on the subject of the Roman papacy and did so in his treatise, which was also later included in the Book of Concord.

What is the Formula of Concord?
After Luther’s death in 1546, various controversies arose in the Lutheran Church in Germany. After much debate and struggle, the Formula of Concord was adopted in 1577 by over eight thousand princes, political rulers, theologians, and pastors, effectively ending the controversy.

Who wrote the Book of Concord?
The ancient creeds in the Book of Concord were prepared by early church pastors and theologians. Philip Melanchthon, a layman, was a professor of Greek and theology at the University of Wittenberg. He was chiefly responsible for writing the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope. Martin Luther wrote the Small and Large Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles. A group of Lutheran theologians prepared the Formula of Concord. They were Jacob Andreae, Martin Chemnitz, Nicholas Selnecker, David Chytraeus, Andrew Musculus, and Christopher Koerner.

Since we have the Bible, why do we have the Book of Concord?
The Lutheran Confessions are a summary and explanation of the Bible. They are not placed over the Bible. They do not take the place of the Bible. The Book of Concord is how Lutherans are able to say, together, as a church, “This is what we believe. This is what we teach. This is what we confess.” The reason we have the Book of Concord is because of how highly we value correct teaching and preaching of God’s Word.

A friend of mine says it is wrong to use creeds or confessions. How do I respond?
The Bible itself not only contains numerous confessions and statements of faith by believers, but it also urges us to confess the faith. If a confession is completely in accord with Scripture, we can hardly claim that the content of the confession is merely “man-made” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).

Are the Lutheran Confessions just for pastors and theologians?
No. They are for all people: pastors, theologians, and laypersons alike. They are important statements of faith. They are not necessarily easy to understand, but they are so important that everyone who is a Lutheran should be aware of what the Book of Concord is and should have a copy of the Lutheran Confessions. There is an edition of the Book of Concord prepared specifically for laypeople to read, filled with notes, annotations, illustrations, and many other useful materials to aid reading and understanding. It is titled Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord and is available from Concordia Publishing House. You may order a copy at http://cph.org/concordia or by calling 800-325-3040.

What documents should a layperson read first in the Book of Concord?
The Small Catechism is called “The Layman’s Bible” by the Formula of Concord because it does such a good job of summarizing the most important teachings of the Bible. The Large Catechism would be the next document to read carefully. The Augsburg Confession is the primary Lutheran Confession and should be read by every layperson. The Smalcald Articles are lively, bold, and powerful and capture readers’ interest. The time and attention needed to read the longer documents in the Book of Concord are well worth the effort since they are filled with such powerfully comforting and instructive biblical truth.

What is a confessional Lutheran?
A confessional Lutheran is a person who uses the documents contained in the Book of Concord to declare his faith to the world. The contents of the Book of Concord are cherished by such a person precisely because they are powerful means by which the correct teachings of Holy Scripture can be taught and shared with other people. The spirit of confessional Lutheranism is reflected well in the last words written in the Book of Concord: “In the sight of God and of all Christendom, we want to testify to those now living and those who will come after us. This declaration presented here about all the controverted articles mentioned and explained above-and no other-is our faith, doctrine, and confession. By God’s grace, with intrepid hearts, we are willing to appear before the judgment seat of Christ with this Confession and give an account of it (1 Peter 4:5). We will not speak or write anything contrary to this Confession, either publicly or privately. By the strength of God’s grace we intend to abide by it.” (FC SD XII 40).

What is an “unconditional subscription” to the Confessions?
Confessional Lutheran pastors are required to “subscribe,” that is, to pledge their agreement unconditionally with the Lutheran Confessions precisely because they are a pure exposition of the Word of God. This is the way our pastors, and all laypeople who confess belief in the Small Catechism, are able with great joy and without reservation or qualification to say what it is that they believe to be the truth of God’s Word.

Why is an unconditional subscription to the Lutheran Confessions so important?
Authentically Lutheran churches insist on a subscription to the Confessions because they agree with the Bible, not merely in so far as they agree with Scripture. Otherwise, there would be no objective way to make sure that there is faithful teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Everything would depend on each pastor’s private opinions, subjective interpretations, and personal feelings, rather than on objective truth as set forth in the Lutheran Confessions.

Do all Lutheran churches have the same view of the Book of Concord?
No. Many Lutheran churches in the world today have been thoroughly influenced by the liberal theology that has taken over most so-called “mainline” Protestant denominations in North America and the large Protestant state churches in Europe, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. The foundation of much of modern theology is the view that the words of the Bible are not actually God’s words but merely human opinions and reflections of the personal feelings of those who wrote the words. Consequently, confessions that claim to be true explanations of God’s Word are now regarded more as historically conditioned human opinions, rather than as objective statements of truth. This would explain why some Lutheran churches enter into fellowship arrangements with non-Lutheran churches teaching things in direct conflict with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

Do other churches have confessions like the Lutheran Church?
Yes, they do. Most other churches have confessions scattered throughout various books. The Book of Concord is unique among all churches in the world, since it gathers together the Lutheran Church’s most normative expressions of the Christian faith into a single book that has been used for nearly five hundred years as a fixed point of reference for the Lutheran Church. Other churches have various catechisms and confessions they can point to, but few have as complete a collection of confessions that has received as much widespread use and support, for so long a time, as the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord of 1580.

Summing things up…
To be a Lutheran is to be one who honors the Word of God. That Word makes it clear that it is God’s desire for His Church to be in agreement about doctrine and to be of one mind, living at peace with one another (1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11). It is for that reason that we so treasure the precious confession of Christian truth that we have in the Book of Concord. For confessional Lutherans, there is no other collection of documents, statements, or books that so clearly, accurately, and comfortingly presents the truths of God’s Word and reveals the biblical Gospel as does our Book of Concord. Hand in hand with our commitment to pure teaching and confession of the faith is, and always must be, an equally strong commitment to reaching out boldly with the Gospel and speaking God’s truth to the world. That is what confession of the faith is all about, in the final analysis. Indeed, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13). This is what it means to be, and to remain, a genuine confessional Lutheran.

by
Rev. Paul T. McCain

Copyright (c) 2008. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy and use this FAQ for non-commercial purpose with the provision that the content of the FAQ not be changed and that it be reproduced in its entirety, with this copyright notice.

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Categories: Lutheran Confessions

The New, Fresh, Powerful Edition of Walther’s Law and Gospel is Available Now

June 14th, 2010 16 comments

I mentioned a while back that the new edition of Walther’s magnificent and important work on Law and Gospel was being issued in a fresh, vibrant new translation, in a special reader’s edition. I’m happy to tell you that it is now in stock and ready for shipping. You can obtain copies for only $20 each if you, or your congregation, place an order for five or more copies. That’s a wonderfully good price, so, batch up those orders and send them on in. By the way, this is the latest volume in The Essential Lutheran Library.

Here is the web link to the book. You can take a look at a substantial sample of the book by clicking this link. The PDF file will download to your computer.

I can not understate the importance of this book for all Christians. Simply put, unless and until one understands the distinction between the Law and Gospel, the Bible remains a closed book, no matter how many times it is read.

Here are more details about the book, from Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, the General Editor of The Lutheran Study Bible. He posted this note on his blog site last week.

This is just a brief note to say that the new translation of Walther’s Law and Gospel reached my desk this week. My book was part of an advance shipment, the main shipment is still in process. The book should be ready for sale later this month, though it is possible to pre-order a copy on the CPH website.

The book includes numerous, noteworthy supplemental essays, visuals, time lines, and other content that make it a remarkably improved book over the earlier editions. Congratulations to the general editor, Charles P. Schaum, who is my close colleague here at CPH; to the assistant editors, John P. Hellwege Jr. and Thomas E. Manteufel; and especially to the translator, Christian C. Tiews. These brothers have done the Church a marvelous service in making Walther’s lectures more accessible than ever so that pastors and laymen can read together and discuss how to apply the two chief doctrines of Holy Scripture: Law and Gospel. Here are ways the book will benefit different readers:

(1) Laymen. Walther’s presentation is clear and direct, making the lectures a joy to read in this modern English translation. He speaks as a pastor to a group of young men studying to be pastors. His style is learned but not dull or stuffy. His constant reference and quotation of Scripture make this a valuable commentary for the layman. The Scripture index at the back means you can easily look up passages.

(2) Church workers. Applying Law and Gospel is what you do day in and day out. This new edition will give you a very fresh look at the challenges and benefits of ministering God’s Word. After seeing the manuscript, a pastor explained to us that he had read the Dau edition many times but this edition was like seeing the work in a whole new light.

(3) Scholars. The editors have built a remarkably handy tool for exploring the history of theology and the Lutheran Church in the nineteenth century when Walther delivered the lectures.

Categories: CPH Resources

The Fathers Speak: Baptism is the Sacrament of Regeneration

June 14th, 2010 6 comments

I’m going to start regularly offering quotes and snippets from the writings of the Early Church Fathers. Starting…now. And, if you want to understand how/why Lutherans cherish and value the wisdom and teaching of the Church Fathers, here is a helpful article by Carl Beckwith explaining how we read and use the writings of the Fathers based on Martin Chemnitz’ discussion of this topic in his Loci Theologici: beckwithchemnitzchurchfathersjustification-4

“The sacrament of baptism is most assuredly the sacrament of regeneration. But just as one who never lived cannot die, adn one who has not did cannot rise again, so too one who was never born cannot be reborn.”

— Augustine
On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins and on Infant Baptism 2.27.43

Categories: baptism, Church Fathers

(Philosophy) World Cup

June 14th, 2010 3 comments

Categories: Culture

An Almost Mystical Force: A Reflection on My Wedding Anniversary

June 11th, 2010 3 comments

I met a young, fair, blue-eyed girl whose bearing was so free and natural, and whose expression was so open and confident, that as soon as she entered the room she took me captive. This moment when I first laid eyes upon my future wife remains in my memory with an almost mystical force.

Those are the words of a man describing the first time he met his wife. They mirror my experience, precisely.

29 nine years ago, in September 1981, Lynn Carol Grunow walked into my life. She has been walking with me ever since. I was sitting down at a conference table in a meeting room at the student center at Concordia College, River Forest, where I was beginning my sophomore year. It was the first meeting of the college yearbook staff. I was the head photographer and I had heard that there was a new editor, Lynn Grunow. She walked into the room and I stood up and shook her hand and introduced myself. Her huge smile and expressive blue eyes stunned me. They still do.

We married on June 11, 1983. I still marvel at the gift God gave me in the person of my dear wife. Happy anniversary, Lynn. I love you.

Categories: Uncategorized

Beautiful Reformation-Era Lutheran Paraphrase of Psalm 23

June 10th, 2010 4 comments

1. What shall we want if Christ our Head,
Our Shepherd, ever leads us?
In pastures of His heav’nly bread
He satisfies and feeds us.
Our soul’s refreshment doth He bring,
Revives us with His flowing spring,
His precious Holy Spirit.

2. On even paths for His great name
He safely doth escort us,
Forsaking not His sheep to shame,
When need or anguish hurt us;
Therefore we ever bold shall be,
Though faced with death’s dark agony;
For Christ the Lord is with us.

3. Thy blessed staff by which Thou dost
Lead, comfort, and correct us—
It is Thy cross, that from our lust
And harm doth e’er protect us.
It drains the poison of our sin
And all the evils wrought within
which else would rage and flourish.

4. Thy table Thou dost rich prepare,
And e’er to sight divest it—
Thy Holy Word’s delicious fare—
We with our heart digest it.
Whene’er the foe our soul assails
This stronghold never breaks or fails,
Bound with Thy Spirit’s fullness.

5. Thy goodness and Thy mercy, Lord,
Shall follow us forever
And all our days on us be poured,
That we through Thee, our Savior,
May dwell by living faith on earth
And there above in heav’nly mirth,
As Thy dear church and children.

6. This all through Christ our Lord we pray,—
Our Shepherd and our Brother:
By grace through faith our souls convey
To God the heav’nly Father,
With God the Holy Spirit One;
So may Thy gracious will be done!
Amen, we sing together.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

Mr. Carver notes: Here is my translation of the early paraphrase of Psalm 23, “Was kann uns kommen an für Noth” (A. Knöpken, 1534), originally written in Low German: “Wat kan uns kamen an vor not.” It took a while to find the original German, as quite a few later paraphrases of the psalm have had significantly more popularity. Ludecus (1589) appoints it as a hymn for Trinity III. The proper melody is well known as an organ piece, but I could not find any notation for a congregational melody line.

Read more…

Categories: Lutheran Hymns