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Archive for October, 2010

Why are we called Lutherans?

October 31st, 2010 3 comments

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

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

HT: Chris, at Lutheran Kantor

Categories: Lutheranism

The Festival of the Reformation

October 31st, 2010 Comments off

Greetings in Christ, and a blessed and happy Reformation day to all.



Dear Christians One and All Rejoice

by Martin Luther

Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And, with united heart and voice,
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God hath done,
How His right arm the victory won;
Right dearly it hath cost him.

2. Fast bound in Satan’s chains I lay.
Death brooded darkly o’er me.
Sin was my torment night and day.
In sin my mother bore me.
Yea, deep and deeper still I fell.
Life had become a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.

3. My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining.
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left naught but death to be my share.
The pains of hell I suffered.

4. But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world’s foundation.
And, mindful of His mercies great,
He planned my soul’s salvation.
A father’s heart He turned to me,
Sought my redemption fervently.
He gave His dearest Treasure.

5. He spoke to His beloved Son:
‘Tis time to have compassion.
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,
And bring to man salvation;
From sin and sorrow set him free.
Slay bitter death for him that he
May live with Thee forever.

6. This Son obeyed His Father’s will,
Was born of virgin mother.
And God’s good pleasure to fulfil,
He came to be my Brother.
No garb of pomp or power He wore,
A servant’s form, like mine, He bore,
To lead the devil captive.

7. To me He spake: Hold fast to Me,
I am thy Rock and Castle;
Thy ransom I Myself will be,
For thee I strive and wrestle;
For I am with thess, I am thine,
And evermore thou shalt be mine.
The foe shall not divide us.

8. The foe shall shed my precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving.
All this I suffer for thy good
Be steadfast and believing.
Life shall from death the victory win.
My innocence shall bear thy sin;
So art thou blest forever.

9. Now to My Father I depart,
The Holy Spirit sending
And heavenly wisdom to impart
My help to thee extending.
He shall in trouble comfort thee,
Teach thee to know and follow Me,
And in all truth shall guide thee.

10. What I have done and taught, teach thou,
My ways forsake thou never.
So shall My kingdom flourish now
And God be praised forever.
Take heed lest men with base alloy
The heavenly treasure should destroy.
This counsel I bequeath thee.

Autumn Greetings from LCMS President Matthew Harrison

October 30th, 2010 1 comment

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t Forget the Fiskinator

October 30th, 2010 3 comments

The Force is strong with this one.

Categories: CPH Resources

Rediscovering the True Fountains of Comfort: How God Used Martin Luther

October 30th, 2010 Comments off

Martin Chemnitz concludes his survey of false teachings about justification in the history of the Church in his Loci Theologici with this beautiful comment about the role and work of Martin Luther:

It is in recent memory, and ought to be noted for all posterity, by what events God in our own age brought the doctrine of justification out of densest darkness back into the brilliant light of His Word. For when Christ and His benefits had been quite buried, the impudent trafficking in Masses, indulgences, merits, and invocation of saints ruled in the church, together with sophistic and unending disputations regarding satisfactions. This memory won the minds of many good people over to Luther from the very beginning when, by presenting the torch of divine revelation, he uncovered these impostures and showed the true fountains of comfort.

Martin Chemnitz and Jacob A. O. Preus, Loci Theologici, electronic ed., 473 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Don’t Miss This Book: “The Great Works of God”

October 29th, 2010 3 comments

Categories: CPH Resources

Why the Concordia Triglotta is Still a Priceless Jewel: Do You Want a Copy of It?

October 29th, 2010 39 comments

The Concordia Triglotta. Do you even know what it is? It was a book published by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod many moons ago, and here I’m quoting from the title page: “As a Memorial of the Quadricentenary Jubilee of the Reformation anno Domini 1917 by resolution of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States.” Due to wartime paper shortages and so forth, it was not actually printed until 1921. For many years Concordia Publishing House kept it in print, but eventually transferred it over to the Wisconsin Synod’s publishing house, which kept it in print until the late 1990s. I picked up a copy from the last printing in around May 2006.

The reason that the Concordia Triglotta remains such a priceless jewel is because it is the only place you can obtain the text of the official, authorized edition of the German Book of Concord, published in 1580, and the Latin edition, published in 1584, along with a fairly literal, to the point of being literalistic, translation of either the German or Latin texts. What happened is that while the Triglotta remained in print, the texts of the two official editions of the Book of Concord were easily accessible to anyone. Now, however, since the Triglotta has gone out of print, and is only available digitally, these texts are not as easily accessible, unless of course you happen to own a first edition 1580 Concordia or 1584 Latin.

Why is this important? Because modern translations of the Book of Concord are not, in fact, based on the official texts of the Book of Concord, but on scholarly reconstructions of what the “best form” of those texts are thought to be, not what they are as they were published in 1580 and 1584. Is this some doctrinal crisis? No, but since confessional Lutherans are pledged to the texts of the German and Latin Book of Concord, most specifically, of course, the German 1580 text, it is good to have those texts available.

So, here is my question to you, dear reader, would you be interested in buying a copy of the Concordia Triglotta is we bring it back into print? We are investigating this right now and aiming at trying to bring it back into print at a reasonable price point, but it is not going to be cheap. Obviously, we can not print thousands of copies and expect to sell those. So, we will probably have to print copies in the hundreds of copies, rather than thousands, which mean the price point will be somewhere in the $60 or $70 range. It will be a casebound book, with an attractive cover design.

So, drop me a note and let me know if you are interested in buying a copy of the Concordia Triglotta. We will not be including the eye-straining copy of the Historical Introductions in the Triglotta, since those now have been retypeset in a nice readable edition, which is available here.

So, let me know. Is you in, or is you out? Want a copy of the Triglotta?

Important Long-Overdue Book on Natural Law is Coming Soon

October 29th, 2010 10 comments

Concordia Publishing House now has a Web page dedicated to the forthcoming book, Concordia Publishing House now has a Web page dedicated to the forthcoming book, Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal (January, 2011) on its Web site. As you may be aware, Lutherans have not discussed natural law in a serious way (that’s my biased opinion) since, oh, perhaps the early twentieth century. This new book containing 15 chapters written by 16 Lutheran theologians, teachers, and pastors presents a spectrum of views about natural law theory in the Lutheran tradition. Anyway, here are the contributors:

Rev. Robert C. Baker (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Carl E. Braaten (ELCA)

Mr. Matthew E. Cochran (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III (LCMS)

Mr. Jacob Corzine (LCMS)

Dr. Adam S. Francisco (LCMS)

Rev. Gifford A. Grobien (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Korey D. Maas (LCMS)

Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson (ELS)

Dr. Thomas D. Pearson (ELCA)

Rev. Prof. John T. Pless (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Carl E. Rockrohr (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Armin Wenz (SELK)

Rev. Dr. J. Larry Yoder, STS (NALC)

Prof. Marianne Howard Yoder (NALC)

Rev. Prof. Roland Ziegler (LCMS)

Why don’t you preorder a copy of this important book today? Here’s more information:

Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal presents engaging essays from contemporary Lutheran scholars, teachers, and pastors, each offering a fresh reappraisal of natural law within the context of historic Lutheran teaching and practice. Thought-provoking questions following each essay will help readers apply key Bible texts associated with natural law to their daily lives.
Why the Natural Law Is Necessary
“No contemporary thinker is interested in a wooden repristination of the natural law that is tied necessarily to the particular metaphysical foundations in the Thomistic–Aristotelian synthesis. The history of natural law shows a wide variety of interpretations and applications. But they all have some elements in common. They all oppose cultural relativism, the notion that laws are mere moral conventions that vary among societies, with no transcendent ontological claim to being universally valid and binding. To the contrary; those who hold to the natural law believe that for a law to be just, it must conform to the structure of reality itself and not depend on the oscillating opinions and preferences of human beings. The law must be the same for all human beings and at all times, so that if murder is morally wrong in America, it is equally so in Asia and Africa. If torture is to be condemned as evil in Jerusalem, it must be equally so in London and Tehran. The United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights formulates rules with respect to freedom and equality that are binding on all nations and peoples, not because of any majority vote, but because of an inherent correspondence between reason and nature. That is what is meant by saying that the Law is “written on the hearts” (Romans 2:25) of all human beings.” — Dr. Carl Braaten
What Others Are Saying
Natural law was a common idea among the Reformers and their heirs. There has been some fledgling reconsideration of this heritage in recent years in my own Reformed tradition, and it is very encouraging to see similar discussions taking place among Lutherans. Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal helpfully wrestles with natural law from various historical and theological angles and also explores its relevance for several important social and ecclesiastical controversies of the present day. These essays on natural law—some enthusiastic, some cautious, others skeptical—are a wonderful contribution to the literature and should help to stimulate important conversations about this perennial issue for years to come.
David VanDrunen Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics Westminster Seminary California

As a Catholic, I found it fascinating to read these fine essays and “listen in” on a conversation about natural law conducted by an outstanding group of Lutheran scholars. The authors consider such topics as whether there really is a natural human capacity to identify and affirm valid moral norms, and whether belief in a moral law accessible to unaided reason is compatible with an acknowledgment of the devastating impact of sin on the human intellect as well as the human will. Lutherans will benefit from reading these essays, but so will everybody else.

Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Princeton University

Categories: CPH Resources

What Does It Mean to Be Holy?

October 29th, 2010 2 comments

John Kleinig’s commentary on the Book of Leviticus is nothing short of brilliant. Here is how he explains how the Church today is like the Israelites of old and how we today live out our lives as God’s holy people.

“Like the Israelites, all the members of the church are called to be holy (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 4:7) and share in God’s holiness (Heb 12:10). Each congregation is a community of saints or “holy ones” (1 Cor 14:33), people with angelic status and a priestly vocation (e.g., Acts 9:13, 32, 41; 26:10; Rom 1:7; 8:27; 12:13). These saints are true Israelites (Romans 9–11; Gal 3:26–29; 6:16). They are united with Christ in a fuller covenant and communion. He is their holiness (1 Cor 1:30). They are sanctified by him (1 Cor 1:2), holy in him (Phil 1:1; 4:21; Col 1:2). Since they are holy and blameless before God the Father in Christ, they have access to every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm (Eph 1:3–4). The goal of their sanctification in Christ is participation in eternal life, the divine life of the Holy Trinity (Rom 6:19–23). All this is a corporate, communal reality, something that all Christians have in common because they all belong to Christ.

“Since they are holy in Christ, the promise and admonition of Lev 19:2 applies to them. They are to live and act as holy, priestly people here on earth (1 Pet 1:15). Their lifestyle is governed by the ethic of holiness. Their liturgical participation in God’s holiness shapes the life of the community and their dealings with each other in it. Apart from the laws that dealt with the temple services rather than the Divine Service in the church, the prohibitions and the commandments are even more relevant to Christians than the Israelites. Hence this chapter is used more often in the NT and the early church than any other part of Leviticus.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Concordia On Demand: Have You Seen What We’ve Brought Back in Print Lately?

October 28th, 2010 3 comments

We’ve got a boatload of “oldies but goodies” back in print again, thanks to the Concordia On Demand program. In fact, today, an often requested title is available once more: The Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal. If you are fortunate enough to find a used copy on the Internet, the going price is anywhere from $80 for a book in average condition, to over $200 for a copy in great condition. Well, now you can pick up a copy for $49.99. And there are a lot other titles available and back in print. You can see the whole collection of “Concordia On Demand” titles by going to this web site. What happens is that when you order a copy of a book in our “on demand” series, it is printed after you place your order and sent to you. We will continue to bring titles back in print, and if you have suggestions for us, please let me know.

Categories: CPH Resources

Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel: Volume Two – Video Introduction

October 28th, 2010 5 comments

You can order it now from CPH’s web site. Subscribers will receive it soon.

Categories: CPH Resources

Notebook Edition of The Lutheran Study Bible? Take a survey and let us know what you think

October 27th, 2010 14 comments

My colleague and I, Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, were kicking around ideas a few months ago and we began talking about whether or not people would be interested in having a sort of “notebook” edition of The Lutheran Study Bible. Let me explain. The idea is that we would print the books of the Bible on 8.5 x 11 sized paper, triple hole punch it, saddle stitch it and provide wide margins, maybe even interleave blank pages, so that you would have, in effect, a complete “notebook” edition of The Lutheran Study Bible. The longer books of the New Testament would appear as individual booklets, shorter books would be combined. We would start with the New Testament. The price per booklet might be around $10.

Sound interesting?

Would you mind taking a short little survey to let us know what you think? Just click on this link to take the survey.

Here’s a screen shot of what we are talking about, again, it will be 8.5 x 11. If you click on it and click through again on the image, you’ll have an actual 8.5 x 11 page sample. If you take the survey, you will be able to download a longer sample you can print out:

Categories: CPH Resources

LCMS President Video Interview about Lutheranism 101

October 27th, 2010 Comments off

Protestantism Needs Reformation

October 27th, 2010 3 comments

Dr. Gene Edward Veith posted this excellent declaration on his blog site.

The original Reformation, whose anniversary we mark on October 31, began in 1517 as an attempt to bring medieval Catholicism back to the Gospel, the Bible, and Vocation. It has occurred to me that today the various Protestant churches need that same Reformation.

THE GOSPEL.

Luther nailed his theses on the church door to challenge the practice of selling indulgences. In effect, people were told to give their money to the church, whereupon they would get to go straight to eternal happiness in Heaven. Today, in many Protestant churches, people are being told to give their money to the church, whereupon they are told that they will get health, wealth, and temporal happiness in this world. But the Prosperity Gospel is not the Gospel!

Neither is the Social Gospel of the liberal mainline Protestants, which construe the Kingdom of Heaven as an earthly utopia. Neither is the Social Gospel of many conservative churches, which construe the Kingdom of Heaven as an American civil religion.

In sophisticated theological circles, both of mainline Protestants and among a surprising number of evangelicals, the Gospel has to do with inclusion, of being accepted into the church community. The “New Perspective on Paul” says that the Apostle did not teach justification by grace through faith apart from the Law, as Protestants used to all agree. Rather, by “Law,” he just meant the setting aside of the Judaic ceremonial law. He was concerned with inclusiveness, of allowing Gentiles to become full members of the church alongside of Jews. Not salvation from the guilt and sin that comes from violating the moral law. Similarly, the business of the church today should be including everybody, not proclaiming a supernatural salvation grounded in redemption from sin.

The actual Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ has, through His life, death, and resurrection, atoned for the sins of the world.

The Protestantism that has drifted away from this Gospel is in need of Reformation.

THE BIBLE.

Medieval Catholicism did believe in the Bible. They just didn’t use it much. Today’s mainline Protestants don’t believe in it at all. Many conservative Protestants believe in it–acknowledging its authority, inerrancy and all–but they have stopped reading it in their services and their sermons sometimes have not a shred of Scripture in them. Instead, the preaching is about self-help, pop psychology, politics, or generic inspiration. Sometimes the message is “believe in yourself” or even “have faith in yourself.”

The Reformers taught that the Word of God is not only authoritative, but a means of Grace. They preached the Law, to bring their listeners to repentance, and then they proclaimed the Gospel of free forgiveness in Christ. In the words of Walther, they preached faith into their listeners’ hearts.

The Protestantism that has drifted away from the Word of God is in need of Reformation.

VOCATION.

Medieval Catholicism believed that the highest holiness required rejecting marriage, economic labor, and participation in the state. Instead, they required their clergy to take vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience to church authorities (to whose laws they were subject instead of the laws of the land). The Reformation taught that God calls all Christians to love and serve their neighbors in the vocations of the family, the workplace, the state, and the church. God Himself is present in vocations. Vocation was the Reformation doctrine of the Christian life.

Today, many Protestants are torn between a hyperspirituality that denies the significance of earthly life and a hypermaterialism. They do not know how to express their faith in their vocation as citizens. In their work, they either try to formulate a distinctly Christian way of exercising their professions, or they consider their work to be nothing more than a way to keep themselves alive and prosperous until they can go to church and engage in “church work” through the week. Meanwhile, the Christian family is at risk, as the divorce rate is as bad or even somewhat worse than that for unbelievers, a clear sign that Protestants have forgotten the vocation of the family.

The doctrine of Vocation solves the Christian’s problems of cultural engagement, political involvement, and being “in, but not of” the world. It does so by affirming the spiritual significance of the “secular” order while preventing the Church from being secularized.

The Protestantism that has drifted away from Vocation is in need of Reformation.

How Does Jesus Keep Cleansing You With His Blood?

October 27th, 2010 Comments off

“The high priest brought the blood from the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the earthly altar for incense and the earthly altar for burnt offering (Heb 9:21). In this way he cleansed and consecrated these most holy things. Jesus, the great High Priest, sprinkles the heavenly things with his blood (Heb 9:23); with his own blood he sprinkles the hearts and consciences of those who serve the living God in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 9:13–14; 10:2, 22; cf. 9:9). In his Holy Supper he brings his blood from his Father’s presence and gives it to his guests to drink for their cleansing and sanctification. Thus, as Pfitzner has shown, Jesus performs an “ongoing ministry of atonement” by the application of his blood on his people.”

John W. Kleinig, Leviticus, Concordia commentary, 348-49 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2003).