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When Lutherans Assert that the Bible is the Verbally Inspired Word of God, and Actually Mean it, Are they Fundamentalists or Calvinists?

February 7th, 2013 3 comments

commandments

The one, holy, catholic and apostolic church has confessed throughout her entire history, until the last couple of centuries, that the Sacred Scriptures are precisely what they claim to be: the God-breathed words of God—the very words that God chose to have set down in written form. This is simply a fact.

I was reading recently statements made to the effect that insisting on this truth is a result of the influence of American fundamentalism, or if a person dares venture a bit further back in Church history, there is the charge that Lutherans who confess the Bible is verbally inspired and thus free from error and incapable of error have come under the influence of Calvinism. This is nothing short of stupendous ignorance of the facts of church history, in which one need spend only a small amount of time to find that the ancient fathers of the Christian Church were quite happy to confess the Bible is the very Word of God. Any claim that the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is some kind of more recent American fundamentalist assertion, or something Lutheranism took over from Calvinist is totally bogus. If or when you hear any Lutheran saying that you can be assured that you are hearing from a person who is abysmally ignorant of Lutheran doctrine, history and, for that matter, church history as a whole.

As for Lutherans…the “Second Martin,” as he was called, Martin Chemnitz, the foremost of the followers of Luther’s reformation insights after the great Reformers death, makes it abundantly clear what Lutheranism has to say about the inspired text, in his magnum opus, from which to this day remains the most definitive refutation of the Council of Trent ever published, The Examination of the Council of Trent.

The quote below comes from the very first volume of Chemnitz’ work where he is setting for the Church’s understanding of the Holy Scriptures and why they, not “tradition” or any other source are the supreme source for everything the Church believes, teaches and confesses. In great detail he works through how God chose to transmit His Word to his people, by means of written communication of His Word, seen already in how God chose to give His people the Commandments:

“It will profitably clear up and simplify the present controversy concerning the Holy Scripture by showing how the Scripture itself began. History shows—and I think this must be noted especially—that God not only instituted this way and method of preserving and retaining the purity of the heavenly doctrine by means of the divinely inspired Scriptures but that He also by His own act and example initiated, dedicated, and consecrated that way and method when He Himself first wrote the words of the Decalog. Therefore the first beginning of Holy Scripture must have God Himself as the author.

“I have related these things in order that it might be observed from the divinely inspired Scriptures, which God wanted preserved and made available for posterity, that nothing was written before the tables of the Decalog, which were written by the finger of God. It does much to shed light on the dignity and authority of Holy Scripture that God Himself not only instituted and commanded the plan of comprehending the heavenly doctrine in writing but that He also initiated, dedicated, and consecrated it by writing the words of the Decalog with His own fingers. For if the writing of the sacred books had first been begun by men, an exclusion of more than two thousand years could have been argued, where in the better times of the world and among the most outstanding patriarchs the doctrine of the divine Word was transmitted without writing, by the living voice. Therefore God Himself with His own fingers made a beginning of writing in order that He might show how much importance is to be attached to this method, according to which the purity of the doctrine is to be preserved to posterity by writings.

“For the fact that He took tablets of stone on which to write the words of the Decalog there is another reason, which is explained 2 Cor. 3.

“In order that those things which were either to be written through men of God, adorned for this by miracles and divine testimonies, or to be approved by them after they had been written, should not have a lesser authority or no authority at all for the confirmation of dogmas and the refutation of errors, God chose not to write the whole Law Himself, but, having written the words of the Decalog, He gave Moses the command that he should write the remainder from His dictation. And in order that the people of God might be certain that this Scripture of Moses was not introduced by the will of man but was divinely inspired, God gave the testimony of Moses authority through many mighty miracles both before and after the writing, and during the writing itself.

“We have thus shown two things from the most ancient sacred history: (1) that the purity of the heavenly doctrine was not preserved always and everywhere through tradition by the living voice but was repeatedly corrupted and adulterated; (2) in order that new and special revelations might not always be necessary for restoring and retaining purity of the doctrine, God instituted another method under Moses, namely, that the doctrine of the Word of God should be comprehended in writing.

“This is how the Scripture began. Now that this has been shown, it remains that we consider further what use God wanted us to make of the Scripture, and what was to be its dignity and authority. Because the history is clear, we shall be content merely to list the passages.

“Moses included in four books not only the history of his own time, the exodus from Egypt, and what happened during the 40 years in the desert, but his plan was chiefly to write the doctrine of the Law, which God delivered to the people of Israel on Mt. Sinai in the desert. Besides, in the first book, he summed up the chief points of the doctrine and faith of the patriarchs, which they had received by tradition, on the basis of the revelation of God Himself from the beginning of the world almost down to his own time, and which they had also professed.

“God commanded that the tables of the Decalog, written by God’s own hand, should be deposited in the ark of the convenant, which was in the holy of holies in the tabernacle. And Moses commanded that his own writings, composed by divine inspiration, should be put into the side of the ark (Deut. 31:25–26). The custody and preservation of this deposit he entrusted to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. He also ordered that the king should have with him a copy of the Law, written according to that which was before the face of the priests and Levites, lest he depart from it either to the right hand or to the left (Deut. 17:18–20). He also commanded that the people should write these words on the posts, the doors, the lintel, and the gates of their houses. (Deut. 6:9 and 11:20)”

From: Examination, Volume 1, pgs. 53-54.

 

When He Nails Stuff on Doors…

October 31st, 2012 Comments off

Categories: Lutheran Fathers

The Small Catechism in Four Languages

August 21st, 2012 3 comments

My colleague, Dr. Benjamin Mayes, found an interesting resource in Google books, Luther’s Small Catechism in four languages: German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

Take a look at the whole thing here.

Here is a screen shot of a couple of pages.

A Special Ascension Day Gift: Dr. Norman Nagel on the Ascension of Our Lord

May 17th, 2012 1 comment

A couple of years ago, Dr. Norman Nagel was being interviewed by Issues, Etc. on the Ascension of Our Lord. As many of you may know, Dr. Nagel, a beloved Lutheran seminary professor, suffered a stroke some time ago. It certainly has not affected his wonderful ability to so beautiful explain and proclaim the Gospel of our Lord. I urge you to listen to Dr. Nagel’s interview.

Commemoration of John Bugenhagen, Pastor

April 20th, 2012 9 comments

bugenhagenToday we remember and thank God for the faithful service of Rev. Dr. Johannes Bugenhagen. Here is a nice summary of Bugenhagen’s life and work, by Rev. Michael Zamzow.

A Short Synopsis of Bugenhagen’s Life
On April 20, 1558 Johannes Bugenhagen was born to eternal life. His earthly life began on June 24, 1485 in the Hanseatic city of Wollin in Pomerania. Bugenhagen’s father was a member of the town council and made sure that Johannes was given an especially good education. In 1502 he began his studies at the university in Greifswald where he came in contact with the growing Humanist movement, but did not pursue theological studies. In 1504 Bugenhagen was called to serve as a teacher and rector of the municipal Latin school in Treptow on the Rega. In the following year he was called serve simultaneously as lector (lecturer) for the canons of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Belbuk outside of the city. The abbot not only headed the abbey, but was the patron of the congregation and the school in Treptow. He was to give the canons an introductory course in Holy Scripture with an emphasis on Paul’s Pastoral Epistles and the Psalms. His reputation as a scholar grew and spread. In 1509 Bugenhagen was ordained a priest and began preaching (it is worth noting that his sermons in Wittenberg sometimes lasted three hours).

In 1517 Bugenhagen traveled throughout Pomerania gathering documents in order to write the first history of the Duchy of Pomerania. This enterprise was commissioned by Duke Bogislav X. Bugenhagen was thus connected with the past and then the future of his Pomeranian homeland.

In 1520 Bugenhagen comes to agree with Luther (after initial rejection of the reformer’s writings), being impressed especially by the Babylonian Captivity of the Church.

In 1521 Bugenhagen traveled to Wittenberg to study theology. While Luther was at the Diet at Worms, Melanchthon suggested that Bugenhagen fill in for the absent Reformer by lecturing on the Psalms. So began the career of Johannes Bugenhagen as a leader of the Lutheran Reformation.

In 1522, Bugenhagen married his wife, Walpurga.

With the help of Luther, Bugenhagen was called as Pastor of the city church (St. Mary’s) in Wittenberg in 1523. He thus became Luther’s confessor. About the same time he became involved in publishing Luther’s New Testament in Low German. His scholarship led to a paid appointment as a lecturer in exegesis at the Wittenberg University. Bugenhagen began his work on his later very influential Passion History at this time.

Bugenhagen is the first Lutheran theologian to take issue with Zwingli’s teachings on the Sacrament of the Altar with his Sendbrief wider den neuen Irrtum in 1525. In the meantime Bugenhagen had received calls from various Hanseatic cities to be their pastor. Bugenhagen also begins what became one of his great accomplishments, the organization of the Lutheran churches in Northern Germany and Scandinavia. He writes theological arguments for the introduction of the Reformation and then works out church orders which will shape church structure and practice for centuries.

Bugenhagen always remained the pastor at heart. When the plague hit Wittenberg in 1527, the university and scholars fled the city. Luther and Bugenhagen remained to minister to the flock. After years of lecturing, Bugenhagen was given a doctorate in theology in 1533. The following year he works on publishing the entire Bible in Low German. In the meantime, a grassroots Reformation had been developing in Bugenhagen’s homeland, Pomerania. Just as he was made a professor at the university in Wittenberg in 1535, the request came from Pomerania for a church order for the duchy and a visitation or inspection tour. Although he was offered the office of bishop of Pomerania, he remained pastor and professor in Wittenberg.

From 1537 to 1539, Bugenhagen undertook the task of reforming the church in the realm of Christian III of Denmark which included Schleswig-Holstein and Norway at the time.

During the Smalcald war, Bugenhagen remained in Wittenberg while others fled. He even continued to preach during the occupation of the city by imperial troops in 1547.

In 1558 Bugenhagen died and was buried in the City Church in Wittenberg.

Bugenhagen’s Significance
There are several areas in which Bugenhagen still shapes the life of the Lutheran Church. Bugenhagen chose a harp as his seal because of his love of music. Our Lutheran liturgies still contain some of the music he wrote for the divine service.

The Lutheran understanding of the Lord’s Supper and the accompanying piety are due to a great part to the efforts and influence of Dr. Pomeranus. He recognized the danger in Zwingli’s teaching and sounded the warning trumpet. It has been shown that it was pastors who were taught and trained by Bugenhagen who took up the struggle against the Crypto-Calvinists. While it is disputed that Bugenhagen was himself a Premonstratensian (Norbertine, for us Northeast Wisconsin types) canon. His close association with the order is, however, evident. This background would account for his liturgical interests. His preservation of traditional vestments and practices at Wittenberg scandalized Martin Bucer during the discussions which led to the Wittenberg Concord which was incorporated into the FC. His alertness to the dangers of Sacramentarianism might also be traced back to Premonstratensian sensibilities since Norbert of Xanten took on Tanchelm in Antwerp.

The organization and spread of the Reformation among the North German cities and principalities as well as in Scandinavia was aided by several gifts which Bugenhagen brought to the task. Being the son of a Hanseatic merchant gave him insight into the independent-mindedness of the Low German culture which prevailed around the Baltic Sea. It is that same culture which gave rise to what we know as Anglo-Saxon law. It took a skilled theologian to convince learned bourgeois leaders of the veracity of the Lutheran teaching on justification. It also took someone who spoke the lingua franca of the Baltic: Mittelniederdeutsch (Middle Low German). Mittelniederdeutsch was the language of contracts not only in Northern Germany, but throughout Scandinavia and even into Russia and within some quarters of London. The common Gothic syntax and grammar made it the koine of the region.

It was the heart of a pastor who heard the confessions of Luther, of nobles, of peasants, and servant girls. It was the heart of a pastor which would not falter before pestilence or war. While we might not want to emulate three-hour sermons, Bugenhagen’s attention to Holy Writ, the liturgy, music, and especially to the Sacrament of the Altar should serve to inspire 21st century Lutheran pastors to faithfulness in preaching and careful administration of the Sacraments.

The Problem with Poo-Pooing Pieper

April 29th, 2011 22 comments

Sadly, it is somewhat “fashionable” to “poo-poo” Francis Pieper and his work on Christian doctrine Christian Dogmatics. Francis Pieper was the Missouri Synod’s greatest systematician, serving as successor of Dr. C.F.W. Walther as president of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. He also served as president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. To this day, his work on Lutheran doctrine remains influential and for most LCMS pastors, key to their formation as pastors, since it gives them a good, solid grounding in classical Lutheran confessional orthodoxy.

As time went by, and the influence of modernist theology was felt in The LCMS, it became increasingly popular to poke fun of, and dismiss, the great work of Dr. Pieper. Sadly, this continues to this day in some circles.

I am not a person to look down on, dismiss or otherwise put myself in the position of “knowing better than Pieper.” Why? Because I’ve read too much bad theology to do that, and I’ve read too much good theology not to appreciate Dr. Pieper’s fine work.

Francis Pieper is the person most responsible for me being a Lutheran theologian, to this day. I was required to read Pieper’s dogmatics, very, very carefully, for a good number of years at the seminary. I was quizzed over each of my readings for every class I had with Professor Kurt Marquart. I was required to memorize the various Latin terms and phrases Dr. Pieper uses in his work to teach Lutheran theology. And not only to memorize them, but to be able to explain what they mean and why they were important. Doing so equipped me with a helpful “shorthand” for making clear, what are clearly complex concepts. But when you are able to define them and explain them using the classic Latin phrases and terms used for them, they stick with you.

Francis Pieper’s three volume work on Lutheran doctrine is still the best available complete Lutheran dogmatics in English. It was translated from the original German, and in spite of the faults and failings of that translation, and I will the first to acknowledge they are there, it remains to this day the finest work of Lutheran theology for American Lutherans available. Why do I say this?

Francis Pieper was well aware of the advent of higher criticism and the “subjective” theology that has now thoroughly overwhelmed all of modern Christianity. He provides the student of Lutheran theology with a very solid grounding in classic Lutheran theology, and by use of many Latin terms and phrases, he provides the seminarian and future pastor with a vocabulary to understand very complex and highly important theological concepts. If you understand the Latin words and phrases, properly, you will understand the theology faithfully. And, frankly, there is really nothing new under the sun when it comes to heretical opinions. If you understand the doctrine set forth by Dr. Pieper, you are equipped to handle whatever comes down the pike.

I grow increasingly concerned when I hear about seminarians not being required to read and study Pieper, but instead use more modern Lutheran theological works. The precision of the classic Lutheran orthodoxy represented so well by Pieper is not available elsewhere. The other aspect of Dr. Pieper’s work is the wealth of Luther quotes he provides, along with other classic orthodox Lutheran theologians. Neglecting to study, very carefully, the work of Dr. Francis Pieper is a huge error on the part of any Lutheran preparing for the ministry. Neglecting Pieper is akin to a doctor neglecting to study carefully his basic medical texts. You can not read and understand other approaches to theology unless you are thoroughly grounded in good, solid orthodox Lutheran doctrinal theology, and that is what Francis Pieper provides. He provides the tools necessary for any faithful pastor to deal adequately with modern day errors and problems in theology.

All of which is to say, if and when you hear anyone, and I mean anyone, no matter how respected that person might be, be he a pastor or a professor, poo-pooing Pieper, you are hearing somebody saying something very foolish. I was particularly delighted recently to hear this gentleman quoting Francis Pieper:

The Devil’s Work in the Church: Keeping People from Seeing Christ

November 30th, 2010 2 comments

Jesus says regarding Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14, 6 Peter confirms this statement by his declaration before the Jewish Sanhedrin, saying: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4, 12 Paul adds his testimony by telling his Corinthians: “ I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I Cor 2, 2. Verily, then, it is a great and awful sin not to draw any soul that has been entrusted to us for instruction to Jesus and not to tell that soul again and again what a treasure it has in the Lord Jesus, its Savior. To keep some one from believing in Christ is such an awful sin that words cannot express it. A preacher who restrains a soul from confidently laying hold of Christ — no matter whether he does it consciously or unconsciously, purposely or from blindness, through malice or as the result of a perverted zeal for the salvation of souls — deprives that soul, as far as he is concerned, of everlasting life. Instead of being a shepherd to that soul, he becomes a ravening wolf to it; instead of being its physician, he becomes its murderer; yea, instead of being an angel of God, he becomes a devil to that person. Alas, ever so many preachers have not realized until their dying day how many souls they have kept away from Christ by their unevangelical preaching and by their own fault have cause the souls entrusted to them to die of spiritual starvation. The result was that these unhappy preachers shortly before their death have had a severe soul-battle to fight with self-accusations and despair, and not a few of them have departed this life without consolation, in anguish, misery, and despair.

The worst offenders in this respect are the so-called rationalistic preachers, who with diabolical audacity mount Christian pulpits and instead of preaching Christ, the Savior, to all sinners, recite their miserable moral precepts for a virtuous life and fill the ears of the people with their empty bombast. To these rationalistic mercenaries, “whose God is their belly,” Phil 3, 19 the terrible woe is addressed, even in our day, which the Lord denounced, saying: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matt 23, 13. What terror shall seize these preachers who used to call themselves friends and adorers of Jeus Christ when they must appear before His judgement-seat and hear Him address them in words of flaming anger: “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt 7, 23.

However, equally grievous is the offense of papists in this respect. They, too, do not draw men to Christ, the Savior and Friend of sinners, but represent Christ as a more rigorous lawgiver even than Moses because he has laid on men many more and much more rigorous commandments than Moses. A poor sinner coming to a priest in his anguish for advice is not directed to Christ, but to Mary, the so-called “Mother of Mercy”. They have taught men to be afraid of Christ, telling them that Mary must take them under her sheltering cloak. Or they direct them to some tutelary saint. For this horrible sin of directing poor souls away from Christ they will have to suffer the wrath of God, which will consign them to the place where “the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever.” Rev 14, 11 For failing to teach and proclaim Christ, telling men not to believe in Him, is as heinous an offense as blasphemously to brand Christ as a fanatic as the unbelievers do.

Well, it is easy to avoid this gross manner of keeping men away from Christ. I need not warn you against it. But it is difficult to avoid doing the same thing in a more refined manner. Innumerable preachers imagined that they were preaching Christ and proclaiming His doctrine until their eyes were opened and they saw that they had concealed Christ from the eyes of poor sinners and had directed men away from Him rather than to Him. ‘

from C.F.W. Walther, ‘Law and Gospel, Thirty-fifth Evening Lecture’ (September 18, 1885)

What is the “Righteousness of God”?

November 18th, 2010 Comments off

At the heart of the Reformation recovery of the Gospel, was Luther’s return to the Biblical meaning of key terms and phrases. One of the most signficant is the phrase “the righteousness of God.” Martin Chemnitz lays out the meaning of the word “righteousness” in his Loci Theologici in the following manner:

“It is useful to show on the basis of the correct foundations what the term “the righteousness of God” properly means in this article. It is absolutely clear that the correct meaning in this passage is not the one about which we have now spoken. For this kind of “righteousness of God” is revealed in the Law, and Paul says that, apart from the Law, the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel.

“We have said that the sum and substance of the Gospel is that we are exempted from the rigor of the tribunal of stern righteousness and that we flee to the throne of grace. And what the proper meaning of the Gospel of justification is cannot be understood nor correctly taught if we understand “the righteousness of God” in a legal sense; indeed, the most pernicious corruptions follow …. It seems indeed to be taken in the legal sense in Rom. 1:32: “Though they know God’s decree [or righteousness, dikaiōma], that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve of those who practice them.” But the words are different. The dikaiōma of God refers to the rule of righteousness in God as revealed in the Law. It is used this way in Rom. 1:32; 2:26; and 8:4. The word dikaiōsis is used in Rom. 5:18 in opposition to condemnation; hence, it is manifest what it means.

Read more…

Where Can You Find the Church?

November 6th, 2010 Comments off

The true church of God on earth is not determined by the multitude of people (Mt 7:13–14), even as it is not to be determined by power, nobility, and wisdom according to the flesh (1 Co 1:26–28). Nor does this assembly always represent the true church, which carries and bears before itself the name “church,” even as the universal or Christian church is truly not definitely recognized by the ordinary succession; the accounts of the prophets, Christ, and the apostles point this out. Nor is it enough, to identify it, to put forward what was written many years ago and the authority of the ancients (Mt 5:21–48; 15:1–3). But these are the genuine marks that distinctly identify the true church of God on earth:

I. Where the Word of God is taught purely and in truth, without corruptions (Jn 10:5, 27; Eph 2:19–21; 4:11–12; 2 Co 2:17; 1 Ti 3:15).

II. Where sins are bound and loosed through the Word and according to the Word of God (Mt 16:18–19; Jn 20:22–23).

III. Where the Sacraments are administered according to the divine injunction and institution (Mt 28:19–20).

IV. Where there are people who use the Sacraments (Mk 16:16; 1 Co 10:17; 11:33), hear the Word of God (Jn 10:27, receive [it] (1 Th 1:6; 1 Co 15:1, confess [Christ] (Mt 10:32), follow [Him] (Jn 10:27), and call upon God, as He has commanded in the Word (Lk 19:46; 1 Co 1:2; Ps 79:6). And these signs are sometimes more in evidence, sometimes less evident. For on this foundation some build gold, some stubble (1 Co 3:12–13). And yet if the foundation remains intact, God has His church there (1 K 19:18).

Martin Chemnitz and Luther Poellot, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments : An Enchiridion, electronic ed., 154-55 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

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).

What are the Benefits of the Lord’s Supper?

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off

What Benefits or Fruit Does the True Use of This Sacrament Confer?

One can reply briefly: It is profitable for strengthening of faith. But this must be explained more fully, and it cannot be done better than with the words of institution, thus:

I. Remission of sins and salvation consists in this, that we are partakers of the merit of Christ and are included in the New Testament covenant of grace. Christ offers us the greatest token and surest seal of this in His Supper, namely that very same body of His, by whose offering these great benefits have been bought, and that very same blood, by whose shedding the New Testament was confirmed, so that we might be made sure and strong against all temptations by this most precious pledge, that the communion of the good things accomplished by the death of Christ most certainly applies also to us.

II. The promise of the Gospel in general offers grace to all believers, so that everyone might surely conclude that this universal promise applies specifically also to him and that this grace is offered and presented to him in such a way that he can safely rely on it and rejoice in it. In the true use of this Sacrament, Christ Himself offers and gives to every individual His body and blood, by the means ordained for this, beamed at every individual with this personal invitation: “Take, eat and drink; this is My body given for you; this is My blood [shed] for the remission of your sins.”

Read more…

Does the Bible Teach Infants Should be Baptized?

October 20th, 2010 3 comments

From Martin Chemnitz’ Enchiridion.

Does Infant Baptism Have Basis in the Word of God?

Yes. For Christ declares regarding little children, Mt 19:14; Mk 10:14: Of such is the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God. And no one who is born of flesh can enter the kingdom of God unless he is reborn, Jn 3:3. And this regeneration and rebirth takes place by water and the Spirit, Jn 3:5. For Baptism is the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit, Tts 3:5. Since, then, Christ wants little children to become partakers of the kingdom of heaven, and that must take place through Baptism, it is surely Christ’s meaning, will, and command, that little children be baptized. For the promise of the kingdom of God must be applied through a certain means or instrument instituted by God Himself. For the promise without application profits no one. Therefore also the promise of the kingdom of heaven, which is given to infants (Mk 10:14) must be applied to them through a certain means. Now, Scripture declares that this means is Baptism. Jn 3:5; Tts 3:5.

Second, Christ also wants infants to be saved, for He says: It is not the will of the heavenly Father that one of these little ones should perish, Mt 18:14. But the heavenly Father saved [us] by the washing of regeneration, Tts 3:5. It is therefore the will of God that infants be baptized and that they do not perish, but be saved.

Third, infants are conceived and born in sins, so that by nature they are children of wrath, Ps 51:5; Eph 2:3. Therefore they must obtain forgiveness of sins, so that they do not perish but be saved, Lk 1:77; Ro 4:7. But Baptism is the divine means by which sins are forgiven and washed away, Acts 2:38; 22:16.

Fourth, Christ wants and commands little children to be brought to Him, that He might bless them, Mk 10:14, 16. Now, one asks: How is this done? And Scripture declares that they who are baptized put on Christ in Baptism, Gl 3:27. For they are baptized into His death and resurrection, Ro 6:3; 1 Ptr 3:21. Christ cleanses and sanctifies the church, for which He gave Himself, through the washing of water by the Word, Eph 5:26. And this very thing is true blessing, Gl 4:14; Eph 1:3. It follows, therefore, that Christ’s command is that infants be baptized.

Fifth, Baptism of the New Testament succeeded circumcision of the Old Testament, Cl 2:11–12. Therefore, just as in the Old Testament the covenant of divine grace was applied and sealed through circumcision not only to adults but also to infants, Gn 17:10, 12, so also now in the New Testament that grace should rightly be applied and confirmed as by a seal both to infants as well as adults through Baptism, since the grace of God was made not less but rather more abundant and richer in the New Testament.

Sixth, Is 49:22 prophesies that in the New Testament not only adults would be implanted in the church, but behold, he says, they shall bring your sons in [their] arms and your daughters shall they carry on [their] shoulders. And Peter says Acts 2:39 after he had baptized adults: This promise was made to you and to your children. In this way also the apostles baptized entire households, Acts 16:33; 1 Co 1:16. But where a household or family is mentioned infants are surely not excluded.It is therefore clear and manifest from this that the doctrine of infant baptism is not only orthodox but also altogether useful and necessary and gives very sweet comfort to parents and children.

Martin Chemnitz and Luther Poellot, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments : An Enchiridion, electronic ed., 116-17 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

How to Engage in Intentional and Prayerful Theological Study, According to John Gerhard

August 17th, 2010 1 comment

My colleague, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, the General Editor of the English translation of Johann Gerhard’s Loci Theologici, shared with me a copy of something he prepared, in honor of, and memory of, Dr. Gerhard, whose heavenly birthday we commemorate today. Here is what Dr. Mayes sent to me:

“Some friends have asked me to share what I’ve been learning from Johann Gerhard’s “Method of Theological Study.”

“With regard to the study of Scripture, Gerhard and many other Lutheran theologians advise a twofold approach: cursory and accurate reading. With the cursory reading, you read the Bible in the vernacular, two chapters in the morning and two chapters in the evening, according to this plan:

“Morning (didactic books): Genesis (50), Job (42), Psalms (150), Proverbs (31), Ecclesiastes (12), Song of Songs (8), Isaiah (66), Jeremiah (52), Lamentations (5), Ezekiel (43), Daniel (12), Hosea (14), Joel (3), Amos (9), Obadiah (1), Jonah (4), Micah (7), Nahum (3), Habakkuk (3), Zephaniah (1), Haggai (2), Zachariah (14), Malachi (4). Apostolic Epistles in the NT. Total: 665 chapters.

“Evening (historical books): Exodus (40), Leviticus (27), Numbers (36), Deuteronomy (34), Joshua (2), Judges (21), Ruth (4), 1 Samuel (31), 2 Samuel (24), 1 Kings (22), 2 Kings (25), 1 Chronicles (29), 2 Chronicles (36), Ezra (10), Nehemiah (13), Esther (10), Judith (16), Wisdom (19), Tobit (14), Sirach (51), Baruch (6), 1 Maccabees (16), 2 Maccabees (15), Fragments of Esther (9), Fragments of Daniel (5), Prayer of Manasseh (1), 3 Esdras (9), 4 Esdras (16). The four Gospels, Acts, Revelation. Total: 670 chapters.

“As you read, you should write the theme of each chapter at the top of the page. E.g., for Gen. 1: “Creation.” If you follow this plan, the heavy thinking is done in the morning, and the lighter reading is done in the evening. The schedule allows you to miss something like 30 days and still finish in one year.

“With the accurate reading, you read the Bible in the Greek and Hebrew, beginning with the NT epistles. In this manner of study, you may only work through a few verses per day, and you are often reading a trusted commentary on the original text alongside. Gerhard says that for each chapter of the Bible, you should take notes on the following things:

“1. The summary and scope of each chapter.
2. Its general outline.
3. Significant emphases of words or phrases. (For this one, I simply note the definition of unusual words or phrases.)
4. The differing interpretations of ancient or recent teachers of the Church. (This is where you compare translations: especially Luther’s German translation of 1545, the Vulgate, if you’re able, as well as the KJV, plus the accurate modern translations.)
5. The resolutions of apparent contradictions.
6. Significant doctrines and observations that are not obvious at first sight.
7. Solid sayings of the Fathers. (Here is where I put the exegesis of passages treated by the Book of Concord, to start off with. Later, as I read Luther or the early church fathers I can add their exegesis in the correct place as I come upon the interesting quotes.)

“This is a work that will require many years. The first time through, Gerhard says, one should concentrate on annotating at least something and leave the rest of the space in one’s very large notebook blank, to be filled in from one’s future study.

“I have started this procedure, but on the computer. I am making one word processor file for each chapter as I come to it. To make it easier, I made a template that has the aforementioned seven items as headings. The reason for taking notes like this is to make preaching, teaching, writing, and debating easier. For the sake of preaching and catechizing, adding an 8th item for illustrations could be helpful.”

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

The Kind of Huge Miracles that Faith Works in Our Hearts

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

In James 2:1, the apostle says: “My brothers, SHOW NO PARTIALITY as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” If you prefer the rich over the poor because of their wealth, this means you are focusing on the person and thus have no faith. That is an attitude that faith will not TOLERATE as James says quite correctly.

This means that where there is faith, this kind of attitude must disappear, because faith does not focus on the person but on the relationship that person has with God. Faith thinks: “This poor beggar has been redeemed by the blood of the Son of God. As far as I am concerned, this makes this man worth as much as a king or an emperor.” These are the kind of huge miracles that faith works in our hearts.

C.F.W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 233
Twentieth Evening Lecture, Feb. 27, 1885

Categories: C.F.W. Walther

Audio Interview on Frederick the Wise

May 5th, 2010 Comments off

I was interviewed by Issues, Etc. on the Lutheran prince Elector Frederick the Wise, here’s the link: http://issuesetc.org/2010/05/05/4815/

Categories: Lutheran Fathers