Thursday, December 28, 2006

First published in 1822, David Henkel's Treatise on Holy Baptism: Heavenly Flood of Regeneration, is now available on-line in its entirety at David Henkel Reader.

The Treatise, written nearly two centuries ago, continues to speak to a world where detractors of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism abound. Henkel points out the blasphemous absurdities of emblematical views of the Sacrament and the horrific conclusions to which such positions naturally lead. "Although I do by no means belieive that such denominations have the least idea that this their doctrine leads to this horrid consequence, else one should think they would surely abandon it" (Henkel in Heavenly Flood).

Writing from Lincoln County, North Carolina, without a German-English Dictionary at his disposal, Henkel also provides original translations for a portion from Luther's "Against the Heavenly Prophets" as well as from the section on Baptism in Luther's Large Catechism.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Confessing the "Whosoever will be saved..." at Christmas

A few years ago, I was reading F. R. Webber's Studies in the Liturgy and was surprised to read that the Quicunque Vult (the Athanasian Creed) had been used among Lutherans "on the Festival of the Holy Trinity, and frequently on Christmas, the Epiphany, Easter Day, Ascension and Pentecost as well." I was surprised because I had never encountered this confession outside of Holy Trinity Sunday.

In my estimation, the custom of making this confession on the Christ Festivals of the Church Year is commendable and worthy of revival. This was vividly illustrated for me on Christmas Day morning, within an hour after confessing both the Quicunque Vult and the Nicene Creed, after preaching a sermon on the two natures of Christ (the Gospel was John 1), when I received a knock on my door from a Jehovah's Witness, who stopped by to deny the divinity of Our God and Savior Jesus Christ! Kyrie eleison!

I would like to join McCain and Veith in wishing you all a "Merry Christmas and a slappy new year!"

(I love this picture of St. Nicholas from Cyberbrethren : )

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another gem from David Henkel's Heavenly Flood of Regeneration, Part IV:

It may also be justly concluded, to make emblems (which are the same as images) in divine worship of things that are in existence, must be idolatry ; for the commandment says, " Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath," &c. Exod. 20, 4, 5. Types under the law were no likenesses of any thing that was ; for the things they prefigured were not then at all in existence : hence they could not have come under the prohibition of this commandment ; for it prohibits the making and worshipping of likenesses of things that are. But the case stands far different under the gospel ; because there is nothing more to prefigure, no future Saviour whom we must expect at a distance. Now to make emblems in divine worship of those things which are present in reality, must be a notorious breach of this command, and a pagan idolatry. In vain protestants condemn the papish image-worship, when they themselves turn the sacraments into images in their most solemn worship !! Is not this the language of many protestants who deride the papists–baptism is an emblem of some spiritual gift ! bread and wine are holy emblems of Christ's body and blood ! Image-worship belongs to the kingdom of Antichrist ; but in the kingdom of Jesus there is no worship by types, nor in ancient Jerusalem ; but God is worshipped in spirit and in truth."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Unexpected Gifts

A while back, my classmate Pastor Juhl posted about a box from Amazon that unexpectedly appeared on his doorstep one day, filled with books from his Amazon wish list. I thought of him today when my wife came home from the post office, asking if I was expecting a package in the mail. (I usually am, but this time I wasn't.) Here's what we found when we opened the box.

Another classmate of mine had stopped by earlier this year, having come with a small group of men on a fishing expedition to northern Minnesota. One of the men from his group very kindly remembered us and sent us this beautiful cross as a Christmas gift. My wife was so delighted that it went almost immediately from the box to our living room. - Thank you, Harold! Our best to you and Martha as we watch and wait for the Coming One and anticipate the Christmas celebration of His holy Nativity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I love this section of Heavenly Flood of Regeneration; it's in Section III:

3d. God's name is the fundamental thing in baptism ; hence who then, with propriety, can deny it to be a saving means, or flood of regeneration ? Ought it to be called a mere emblem ? It is very lamentable, that so many of the different denominations who profess Christianity, make so extremely light of baptism. They are far from believing it to be so valuable a flood of grace, that they, on the contrary, call it a mere emblem or representation of something to be received in some other way ; an outward token, by which Christians are externally distinguished, &c. So we frequently hear it announced from the pulpit, and in a similar form we may read it in some confession books and catechisms. Nevertheless, they all, when they baptise, say in their forms, ' I baptise thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ;' and yet, in the meanwhile, call this baptism, performed in this holy name, a mere emblem ! a representation ! If baptism is a mere shadow, or an emblem, then God's name can be nothing more ; because that is the ground-work of baptism. If so, God himself must be a shadow, or an emblem ; because his name is himself. Thus, if we make baptism an emblem, we must make his name, hence himself, an emblem ! Ought our minds not to recoil at such a grotesque idea ? If God is no more than an emblem, he is no almighty God. Hence what would this be but implied atheism ? Although I do by no means believe that such denominations (who call baptism an emblem) have the least idea that this their doctrine leads to this horrid consequence, else one should think they would surely abandon it. But let them for a moment, without prejudice, cooly reflect on this subject.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weinrich to preach tomorrow

Concordia Theological Seminary's Blue News carried the announcement that Dr. Weinrich will be the preacher and celebrant at tomorrow's Service (Tuesday, Dec. 12) at Kramer Chapel in Fort Wayne. The audio from the services at Kramer Chapel are posted daily at this link.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

New blog on the Book of Concord

McCain, Alms, Veith, and Weedon have opened shop with a new blog which promises to be an "ongoing roundtable discussion about the Book of Concord". Visit this new blog here.
More from David Henkel's Heavenly Flood of Regeneration:

Now since the word of God is a heavenly light, a holy fire, a divine glory, what then must baptism be ? It must be a shining, vivifying flood ; a cloud of glory, like the pillar of fire by night, transcendently luminous, going before the host of Israel. Why so ? Answer : Because this blessed word, with the water, constitutes baptism.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sample from David Henkel Reader: Heavenly Flood of Regeneration -

It is quite congenial to the wisdom of God, that he bestows his blessings by simple means. If he employed great means, the blessings might be ascribed to their greatness ; but when they are simple, the blessings can be ascribed to him only. St. Paul saith, " We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." II. Cor. 4. 7. The feebler the instrument seems by which mighty works are wrought, the plainer the omnipotent hand of God is to be seen.
David Henkel Reader is up and running. Posts are initially being added from David's "Heavenly Flood of Regeneration: A Treatise on Holy Baptism".

Thursday, December 07, 2006

From Hermann Sasse to AC Piepkorn about Lutherans going elsewhere

Dear Reverend and Doctor:
Some months ago I wrote to you asking whether you could give me any advice as to how to deal with a student of mine who was in danger of going over to Rome. I was hoping that you perhaps could recommend some good literature.
(Lonely Way II, 238)

Replies? Or maybe, in light of recent events, some could offer suggestions, replacing "Rome" with "Constantinople"?

Regarding the latter, I have suggested Avery Dulles's "The Filioque: What Is at Stake?" Perhaps others can suggest something better?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why We Continue to Study the Small Catechism

(T)hey declare with a solemn oath, that nothing in the world is easier than learning the Catechism, – so easy indeed, that with a single reading, they can accurately repeat the whole. Then immediately, as if arrived at the highest proficiency and thoroughly instructed, they throw away the book into some corner, and they are ashamed to take it in their hands again.


But I, if indeed I may speak of myself, am also a doctor and a preacher, endowed, as I believe, with no less learning as well as experience than those who presume so much on their abilities, and who have attained so high a state of confidence; yet by no means am I ashamed to imitate the young, but just as those whom we teach the Catechism, so do I, – early in the morning, or whenever I get a moment of leisure, – privately recite word by word, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Articles of Faith, the Psalms, or something of the kind. And though I have leisure every day for these lessons and studies, yet not even in this way am I able to reach the point which I am seeking, or to attain the proficiency which I desire.


[This one is the best -]

And while these plethoric and presumptuous saints really scorn the Catechism, and esteem it far too contemptible to be read and studied every day, what else, I ask, do they do but consider themselves far more learned than God himself, than all the angels, the Patriarchs, the Apostles, and all Christians? For since God is not ashamed to teach these doctrines daily, – the very best that he has to teach, – and since he frequently repeats and inculcates them over again, – never adding any thing new or inconsistent with them; – I say further, since all the saints knew nothing either better or more useful to learn and were never able to study them too profoundly, are we not most eminent and accomplished men indeed, who, having read or heard this doctrine once, are fully persuaded that we know it all; nor is there any further necessity for us to read, as we are able to learn in one hour, what God himself has not been able to exhaust in teaching, though he has been teaching it from the creation of the world to the present time? which all the Prophets and all holy men have been ever engaged in studying, and yet of which they remain students perpetually, and necessarily must ever so remain. (Large Catechism, Preface.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Smalcald Articles from the 1854 Henkel Concordia have been blogged and are available online at smalcaldreader. Presently, they are blogged in the same rough format as the Small and Large Catechisms at catechismreader, with typographical errors galore. The comment feature on both is closed at present, with plans to open them after the completion of the project.

Luther's Smalcald Articles are a great read, reminiscent of the Augsburg Confession in many ways, with both symbols treating quite a few of the same topics. The intervening time, however, between 1530 and 1537 (and perhaps also the difference in authors and recipients,) accounts for a definite change in tone from "hopeful for reconciliation" to "hopeless that any real reconciliation or reformation will take place".

Monday, November 27, 2006

Catechismreader is up and running! Ok, so I've had the link posted for quite some time; but this evening, the final portions were posted on the Larger Catechism, bringing both the Smaller and the Larger Catechisms from the 1854 Henkel edition into the blogosphere. While both catechisms are now posted in their entirety, I have yet to go back through with a fine-toothed spellchecker to catch words that I may have inadvertantly mis-typed. (Some misspellings were intentional, in an attempt to maintain the original Henkel spellings. Others were the result of quick-moving fingers hitting the wrong keys... And still others, spellchecker will not catch, because those misspelling may have formulated another word that is correctly spelled!)
On Infant Baptism from the Large Catechism

Here we further assert, that it is not of the greatest importance as to this point, whether the person baptized believes or does not believe; for Baptism does not become wrong on this account, but all depends upon the word and command of God. Now this is indeed a nice point, but it is founded upon the assertion, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the word of God intimately united; that is, when the word is connected with the water, then baptism is right, although the individual may be destitute of faith at the time of his baptism; for my faith does not make, but it receives Baptism. Now Baptism does not become wrong, even if it be wrongly received and applied, since, as observed above, it does not depend on our belief, but upon the word of God....

For this reason we say, if you have not believed, believe yet, and thus declare: "The baptism was surely right, but I alas! have not received it rightly." For I myself, and all who permit themselves to be baptized, must thus say before God: "I come hither in my faith and that of others, yet I cannot depend on my belief and the prayers of many others for me, but I rely on thy word and command, even as I go to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, not upon my faith, but upon the words of Christ, whether I be strong or weak, for this I let God provide; but I know that he orders me to go, to eat, and to drink, &c., and that he gives me his body and his blood,– which words will neither belie nor deceive me."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More on the Filioque

The Father and the Son are identical in everything except the mutually opposed relations of fatherhood and sonship. According to the famous dictum of Athanasius, "the same things are said of the Son as are said of the Father, except His being said to be 'Father.'" The only thing that the Father alone can do is to be Father, that is, to generate the Son. Since the Father does not act alone in spirating the Spirit, the Spirit must proceed from the Father and the Son as from a single co-principle. The Holy Spirit is distinguished from the Son by a different relation of origin.

(The Filioque: What Is at Stake? by Avery Dulles, S.J.; Concordia Theological Quarterly; vol. 59, numbers 1-2; p.36)
Wilhelm Loehe on the Filioque

Questions and Answers
to the Six Chief Parts of Luther's Small Catechism

397. On whom do you believe in the Third Article?
The Holy Ghost.

398. Who is the Holy Ghost?
The Third Person of the Godhead, equal to the Father and the Son in essence, majesty, and glory.

399. What do you believe concerning the Holy Ghost?
That from all eternity He proceeds from the Father and from the Son, and has been sent by the Father and by the Son for the sanctification of men.

400. What is the meaning of the words,
"He proceedeth from the Father and the Son"?
They denote the manner of the origin of the Third Person of the Trinity, as it is described in the Athanasian Creed:

"The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.

"The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.

"The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding."

All our imagination and thought fall short of this thrice-holy mystery.

401. Is all Christendom agreed in the doctrine
of the proession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son?
No. The Eastern church believes that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone.

402. Why?
Because no express word declaring His procession from the Son is found in the Scriptures.

403. Why then is it believed in the West?
Because otherwise the Father and the Son would not be equal. John xvi. 15.

Because otherwise the order of Persons would not be clear, nor would it be evident which is the Second, and which is the Third Person.

Because otherwise the Holy Ghost would be sent by the Father alone, and not by the Father and the Son. John xv. 26; xvi. 7; xiv. 26.

Because otherwise the Spirit could not be called the Spirit of the Son. Gal. iv. 6.

Published by Repristination Press;
translated by Edward T. Horn and copyright by the same, 1893,
Pages 102-3.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thoughts on an Unconditional Confessional Subscription
(fourth part of several to follow)
I wrote:

What makes a subscription to the Book of Concord unconditional?

(4) When the great "we believe, teach, and confess" statements (regardless of an indicated sedes,) together with similar statements such as "our churches believe", etc., are considered the only portions of the Book of Concord which are to be upheld for the Evangelical Lutheran Church to believe, teach, and confess today - ?

From time to time, one hears (from respected persons who care deeply about the Confessions,) that pastors and congregations subscribe only to the "doctrinal articles" contained in the Book of Concord. I'm not speaking facetiously when I say that I'm not quite sure what exactly this means. What exactly is meant by a "doctrinal article"? As I suggest above, are "doctrinal articles" only those portions of the Book of Concord that are highlighted by a certain phrase, such as: "we believe, teach, and confess" or "our churches believe..." or "our ministers teach..."? Are the doctrinal articles only the positions which were stated on controverted teachings? Or is there another operative definition of a "doctrinal article"?

My question:

What is the point of having the Book of Concord at all - if outside of the doctrinal articles (however they are defined), nothing else contained therein should be considered a doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? Is the ELCA's Church Council finally correct when they resolve the embarrassing problem of the Book of Concord by relegating it to the historical department, by implying that it is not necessary for the Lutheran Church today to hold to everything that is said in the Book of Concord, when they regret the beliefs of their sixteenth century namesake because those beliefs do not match what is believed, taught, and confessed by the "Lutheran Church" today?

If pastors and churches are not subscribing to everything - saying that they believe, teach, and confess whatever is contained in the Book of Concord (out of the conviction that it is, indeed, in agreement with the Sacred Scriptures) - then what is the point of subscribing to it at all? If it was never the intention of the Lutheran confessors that their children should subscribe to everything contained in the Book of Concord, then why did they never draft a concretely specific book of "the Accepted Doctrinal Articles Contained in the Book of Concord to which our Pastors and Churches Subscribe"?

My response:

I would maintain that the unconditional confessional subscription of a pastor and a congregation ought to be to the entire Book of Concord, to believe, teach, and confess not only the doctrinal articles but everything else that is in there, too.

(Perhaps those who are wiser or more knowledgeable than I would be willing to show where I have missed the mark?)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thoughts on an Unconditional Confessional Subscription
(third part of several to follow)
I wrote:

What makes a subscription to the Book of Concord unconditional?

(3) When only those portions of the Book of Concord that have the defense of explicit sedes doctrinae in citation are to be upheld as normative for the belief, teaching, confession, and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church today - ?

Any time that the word "only" is used, a conditional statement is made. "I would like to eat the whole pie," I say after dinner, "but I think it would be best if I only take a small piece."

If we uphold only those beliefs, teachings, confessions, or practices in the Book of Concord that have explicit sedes doctrinae cited or available for citation, then we do not wish to subscribe unconditionally to the entire Book of Concord. If we only wish to observe those portions that carry an explicit scriptural command, if we only feel compelled to abide by those portions which can be explicitly defended from the Sacred Scriptures, then we have reservations - we reserve to ourselves the right to reject portions of what the Confessions say. We thereby attach a "condition" to our confessional subscription.

An example:

Augsburg Confession XI says that "private absolution ought to be retained in the church, and should not be discontinued"; likewise XXV says: "Confession is not abolished by our ministers. For the custom is retained among us, not to administer the Sacrament, unto those who have not been previously examined and absolved" and "Yet by our ministers it is taught with diligence, that confession, because of absolution, which is the chief part in it, should be retained for the purpose of consoling alarmed consciences, and for some other reasons."

Article XXV does not give any scriptural proof texts in order to defend the retention of the custom of private confession and absolution; in fact, the article seems to go out of its way to cite the teaching of an extra-biblical document to explain that [private] "confession is not commanded in the Scriptures, but that it was instituted by the church."

* * * * *

So - was ist daß?

Even though there is no scriptural command to do so, are the ministers and churches who wish to maintain an unconditional subscription to the Lutheran Confessions required (that is, do they require it of themselves when they freely make their subscription to the Lutheran Confessions,) to offer private confession and absolution on a regular basis?


I believe so, but I'm interested in hearing your comments as well.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thoughts on an Unconditional Confessional Subscription
(second part of several to follow)

I wrote:

What makes a subscription to the Book of Concord unconditional?

(2) When, like a certain nineteenth century theologian, one excises offensive portions from the confessions and heartily subscribes to whatever is left, as long as the remaining portions still fit the criteria of "agreeing with the Scriptures" - ?

I've already ranted elsewhere about Samuel Simon Schmucker and his General Synodical Platform. This sort of position is really an "I'll follow the Lutheran Confessions in so far as they agree with whatever criteria I wish to establish", that is, it is a very conditional subscription to the Book of Concord. Cyberbrethren has pointed out elsewhere that someone who wishes to maintain an "in so far as" subscription to the Lutheran Confessions might as well subscribe to the telephone directory or Webster's Dictionary (he may have said, "The Koran",) in so far as it agrees with the Scriptures. If a confessional subscription indicates just how much of the Lutheran Confessions you believe are in agreement with the Scriptures, then to subscribe only in so far as is to leave the field wide open, saying that some parts do and that other parts may not. Ultimately, this boils down to a conditional subscription.

Perhaps the only kind word that I have for Schmucker is that he at least had the honesty to clearly delineate which portions of the Augsburg Confession he found agreeable and to physically cut out those portions with which he disagreed. Schmucker at least defined his in so far as subscription in clearer terms, whereas others leave theirs clouded in ambiguity.

* * * * *

Maybe what's missing in this whole discussion is a clear definition of what it means to "subscribe" to the Lutheran Confessions. Is it a token "pledge of allegiance" - something that we "keep on the books" so that we can maintain our 21st century ties to our long-dead 16th century forefathers, some formality that somehow permits us to retain the name "Lutheran"? Or is it (was it always intended) to be something more - to say that we also believe, teach, confess, and do what is written therein as it is in accord with the Scriptural faith?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thoughts on an Unconditional Confessional Subscription
(first part of several to follow)

I have to apologize; I was not playing nice in my previous post.

I wrote:

What makes a subscription to the Book of Concord unconditional?

(1) When, in its entirety and without any exceptions, the Book of Concord is acknowledged as the belief, teaching, and confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the sixteenth century - ?

This statement sounds good, and in and of itself, it is certainly true. Most who call themselves "Lutherans" today will acknowledge that the Book of Concord contains the beliefs, teachings, confessions, and practices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the sixteenth century.

And yet, (this is where I was not playing nice), this nice-sounding statement does not go far enough; it intentionally stops short. It answers the question: "What did they believe?" It does not say anything about me. For my part, I am not making an unconditional subscription unless I say, "Put my name right after theirs. It is my belief, teaching, confession and practice today as well." That is where you see a great divide among Lutherans today, on the question of the extent to which their sixteenth century confessions are still binding for us today.

As an example of this division, we might consider a recently formulated position released by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (Thanks for the heads-up to Cyberbrethren with the post entitled, "The Situation of the 16th Century No Longer Applies in the 21st Century"; the referenced ELCA news release is also available here). The press release indicates that the ELCA's Church Council "repudiated":

statements in the Formula of Concord and declared that condemnations in the Augsburg Confession directed at the Anabaptists do not apply to today's Mennonite Church USA. The Formula of Concord and Augsburg Confession are among the Lutheran confessions written in Europe in the 16th century.

From the declaration itself, pay particular attention to the following:

The Augsburg Confession's condemnations of the Anabaptists in the matter of baptismal faith and practice (CA IX) and participation in the police power of the state (CA XVI) are properly the subject of future conversation between our churches. We note that Lutheran churches in France and Germany have adopted statements declaring that these condemnations are not church-dividing and that they do not apply to Mennonites in their countries. The Lutheran World Federation has begun conversations with the Mennonite World Conference and we support their efforts to ascertain whether the differences that remain between our two churches in these matters are in fact church-dividing.

What is the point in highlighting these things? It would seem to me that the ELCA wishes to declare that what was believed, taught, confessed, and practiced in the sixteenth century is no longer relevant for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the twenty-first century. Why? We live in a different context, and things have changed. Rather than maintaining divisions because of doctrine, we should set aside the doctrine, or at the very least, say that it doesn't matter any more.

I would maintain that it is not enough for one who wishes to subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions "unconditionally" to merely acknowledge that the Book of Concord relates what "they believed" in the sixteenth century. If the sentence that follows "this is what they believed" is not "and it is our belief, teaching, confession, and practice, too", then you are looking at some form of a conditional subscription.

PLEASE NOTE: The press release and the declaration of the Church Council of the ELCA both failed to indicate where the Lutheran Confessions actually urge governmental violence against those who held/hold to Anabaptist teachings. (I am not aware of any such urgings.) The word "condemned" is not always used (nor, I suspect, was it exclusively used in the sixteenth century) to mean "capital punishment", "imprisonment, exile, and execution". kindly highlights several of the ways in which the word "condemn" is used; please consider the following:

1. to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure.

3. to give grounds or reason for convicting or censuring.

4. to judge or pronounce to be unfit for use or service.

7. to declare incurable.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What makes a subscription to the Book of Concord unconditional - ? (An Opinion Poll)

(1) When, in its entirety and without any exceptions, the Book of Concord is acknowledged as the belief, teaching, and confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the sixteenth century - ?

(2) When, like a certain nineteenth century theologian, one excises offensive portions from the confessions and heartily subscribes to whatever is left, as long as the remaining portions still fit the criteria of "agreeing with the Scriptures" - ?

(3) When only those portions of the Book of Concord that have the defense of explicit sedes doctrinae in citation are to be upheld as normative for the belief, teaching, confession, and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church today - ?

(4) When the great "we believe, teach, and confess" statements (regardless of an indicated sedes,) together with similar statements such as "our churches believe", etc., are considered the only portions of the Book of Concord which are to be upheld for the Evangelical Lutheran Church to believe, teach, and confess today - ?

(5) When, in addition to the "our churches believe" portions, statements that are qualified with phrases such as "it is the practice of our churches" or "our ministers [do thus and so]", etc., are specifically and particularly the only portions of the Book of Concord which are to be upheld as the belief, teaching, confession, and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church today - ?

(6) When one maintains a subscription (of the type suggested in any of the above, or perhaps something else) to the Book of Concord of 1580, understanding that edition as the first and normative edition of the Evangelical Lutheran Symbols and seeing each subsequent edition or translation as a commentary on the authoritative edition of 1580?

(7) When one maintains a subscription to the Book of Concord of 1580 as well as to the Book of Concord of 1584, citing these two as complementary and not differing in any substantial way (with the difference between mehr in the Treatise of 1580 and supra in 1584 not being considered substantial; likewise, the addition of the semper virgo phrase in the 1584 edition of the Smalcald Articles not being considered substantial, perhaps out of deference to FC SD VIII...) and when these two are considered the normative and authoritative editions - ?

(8) When one maintains that his subscription is to the 1580(+1584?) Book of Concord, yet only practices theology solely on the basis of modern translations of that/those text(s), despite modern deviations (eg., gender neutralization,) which have been imposed upon the original texts in order to forward a particular agenda - ?

(9) When one maintains, down to the assertions about garlic juice and magnets, that everything in the Book of Concord (1580 and/or 1584 and/or 1921 and/or 1959, etc.,) is a faithful exposition of the Scriptures and is normative for what we believe, teach, confess, and practice today - ?

(10) When one maintains, beyond the assertions about garlic juice, that everything in the Book of Concord (edition: your choice), including the materials referenced authoritatively by the Lutheran Symbols (such as Luther's Great Confession Concerning the Lord's Supper), is a faithful exposition of the Scriptures and is normative for what we believe, teach, confess, and practice today - ?

(11) When one maintains that, in addition to everything that is written in the Book of Concord, we are also bound to every universally accepted document and doctrine of the Church which does not disagree (implicitly or explicitly) with anything that is written in the Book of Concord or which the Book of Concord does not explicitly condemn or reject - ?

(12) I didn't think that anybody subscribed unconditionally to the Book of Concord anymore - ?

(13) I didn't think that anybody ever subscribed unconditionally to the Book of Concord - ?

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Small Catechism from the 1854 Henkel Concordia is now up and running at catechismreader. Portions of the Large Catechism are being gradually added as I am able.

Working my way through the Ten Commandments, I find myself praying for the Creed (and Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Brief Exhortation to Confession), as the Commandments are nothing but the strictest preaching of the Law intended to kill the sinner dead in his tracks, with no path of escape. You who think yourselves righteous - read what Luther says of the 10 Commandments in the Large Catechism; and if you still think yourselves righteous, then I can be of no help to you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some thoughts on Liturgy and Doctrine from Hermann Sasse

"What causes me to write is rather an issue of the Confessional Lutheran (July-August 1956).... What [Burgdorf, the editor] and his friends fail to realize is the necessity of a liturgical movement within the Lutheran Church which would help to revive the great "Catholic" heritage of our fathers, the liturgical life of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It was this liturgy that has prevented Lutheran Orthodoxy from becoming a mere system or rational theology.

"We cannot revive the theology of our fathers without realizing what theology meant to them: praise of God and doctrine at the same time. One has often the impression that the correct doctrine on the Sacraments is regarded as more important than their celebration. This is the danger for your church, though I must admit having read wonderful sermons on the Sacrament by your theologians, in which the full devotional content of the orthodox liturgy found an expression. But Pieper's Dogmatics is not satisfactory in this respect, due perhaps to the influence of the last stage of Orthodoxy in the later seventeenth century, when the Sacraments had lost their 'existential' meaning. We observe already with Melanchthon... a mere pedagogical understanding of the liturgy. This development went on. The two sides of orthodoxy, orthodoxy as 'pure doctrine' and orthodoxy as 'right worship,' still happily united with men like Johann Gerhard and Paul Gerhardt, were more and more separated which led to a decay of both. Whatever the causes of the development in your church may have been, ... the great task remains for you, as for all Lutheran churches, to regain that lost unity."

When "confessional churches" become "unliturgical", Sasse calls them "ineffective"; they may also fall off the horse in the other direction, when liturgical movements become "heretical or Romanistic". Sasse holds out the unity of the two as the goal, the task being to rediscover and maintain both without falling into tragedy on either side of the horse.

Hermann Sasse, "Letter to Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1956)," in The Lonely Way: Selected Letters and Essays, volume II (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2002), pp. 239-40.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Those who subscribe to the Augsburg Confession acknowledge that, according to the Scriptures, Christians may participate in their government (AC XVI). The confession specifically states that Christians may hold legislative, judicial, executive offices, among other civil positions (such as being a soldier). Each Christian is encouraged to carry out his vocation in life; today, as a U. S. citizen who is registered to vote, I exercised that opportunity.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Announcing Augsburgreader

For those interested in the Lutheran Confessions, Concordiareader is pleased to announce Augsburgreader. At its introduction, Augsburgreader is a transcription of a nineteenth century English translation of the 1580 Book of Concord's "Unaltered Augsburg Confession". Using the blogger/blogspot platform, Augsburgreader makes this translation, originally published by Solomon D. Henkel and Brothers in 1854, available to the blogosphere in a searchable format.

The text used for this transcription is available on-line in digital format, together with various other works, at Lutheran Legacy, where volunteers are being sought to aid in the work of transcription. (Please note: Concordiareader is not affiliated - either officially or unofficially - with the folks at Lutheran Legacy. Browse their site; it's interesting to see what they've made available.)

For now, the comment feature at Augsburgreader is disabled. If you would like leave a comment, you may respond to this post.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thoughts of Humiliation and Prayer - St. Luke 13:1-5

The simple truth is, not all of us become the men we once hoped we might be.
But we are all God's creatures.
If there be any among us who thought ill of Mister Hollom,
or spoke ill of him,
or failed him in any respect of fellowship,
then we ask for your forgiveness, Lord.
And we ask for his.

- Jack Aubrey, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

I will never forget the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Truth be told, at the time, I did not think too much or care too much about it. It was seven years ago today, and I was a student at the seminary. I was newly married, and the fall quarter had just begun. I had too many other things on my mind to pay that much attention to what the LWF was doing.

The reason I will never forget the signing of JDDJ is because Matt Harrison preached that week at chapel. By the end of the sermon, it became a day of humiliation and prayer for all of us. Harrison called the seminary - really, the entire LCMS - to repentance. We had not cared enough to speak up beforehand. We had not loved them enough to go to any length to dissuade them from their chosen theological path - though we believed it wrong and dangerous to the souls of millions of people. We had not done enough even to try to prevent the tragic event of that Reformation day when the LWF officially sold whatever was left of its Lutheran soul to sleep with Rome on Justification. We in the LCMS had sinned in our silence, our indifference, and our lack of love.

Even though we took no part in the events of that day, we may not stand by and count ourselves innocent. Any self-righteousness which we might muster is smashed by the understanding that even our best and holiest deeds will always fail to break the dreaded oppression of sin. No one may stand boasting in his own decisions, in his own words or deeds before God. Such righteousness crumbles and dies when confronted by the strict demands of God's holy Law. We live alone before God by His mercy.

Events of the past few days have reminded me of that sermon, and the movie quotation above pretty well summarizes my understanding of a godly reaction on our part to such things: Repentance. (See also St. Luke 13:1-5.) The simple truth is that we all have sinned in this matter, and that we are all guilty. We have thought ill, have not thought enough to say anything at all, have not pursued every effort to "restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness". We have failed in our fellowship of humanity, to say nothing of our fellowship in the Gospel, in Christ and His Church.

I pray for forgiveness.

May Almighty God have mercy on all our souls through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How much of a difference does a comma make?

I was reading through the Henkel Concordia (1854) and noticed something curious:

"I believe in God the Father, Almighty Maker of heaven and earth."

The way I had learned it (and have been saying it) is:

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."

Is there a difference? What does it mean?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cyberbrethren posts When is a Book of Concord Not a Book of Concord? Readers who are interested in the Concordia may well find this post an interesting summary of a discussion surrounding textual issues and the Book of Concord. Kudos to Paul McCain for organizing and posting these thoughts.

As a response, I offer a few questions:

1) The Henkels are a very interesting group coming out of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee in the early 1800s. Weird things were happening in those days (read: revivals), and the early American Lutheran scene isn't very pretty (read: not confessional Lutheran). David Henkel is credited with getting the confessional ball rolling among his family and is one of the translators credited in the Henkel edition of the Book of Concord. (See side links)

Looking at some of David's writings, it is evident that he had access to Luther's works. Is anyone aware of where/how would he/the rest of his family have had access to Luther or a 1580 Book of Concord?

2) Cyberbrethren posted: "Ironically, to this day, the only complete translation of the German edition of the Book of Concord of 1580 is the translation prepared by the Henkels in the 1850s, with the 1854 second edition being the better edition"

What makes the second Henkel edition better than the first? Is there a critique published somewhere?

3) I was a little surprised in the post above to read that "formulas of confessional subscription do not refer to a specific edition of the Book of Concord". The proposed ordination rite for Lutheran Service Book does specifically mention "the 1580 Book of Concord" - so perhaps I do not understand what is being said?

4) One of these days, I will learn to make use of the "trackback" function. I'm sure that there must be a FAQ somewhere...

Again - thank you to Cyberbrethren for an informative and interesting post. I commend it to anyone interested in textual questions about the Book of Concord.
"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#24)

Affirmative position regarding "God's Eternal Foreknowledge and Election":

12. The Christian is to concern himself with the doctrine of the eternal election of God only in so far as it is revealed in the Word of God, which shows us Christ as the “book of life.” Through the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, Christ opens and reveals this book for us, as it is written, “Those he predestined, he also called.” In Christ we should seek the eternal election of the Father, who has decreed in his eternal counsel that he would save no one except those who acknowledge his Son, Christ, and truly believe on him. The Christian should banish all other opinions since they do not proceed from God but are inspired by the evil foe in an attempt to weaken for us or to rob us entirely of the glorious comfort which this salutary doctrine gives us, namely, that we know that we have been elected to eternal life out of pure grace in Christ without any merit of our own, and that no one can pluck us out of his hand. God assures us of this gracious election not only in mere words, but also with his oath, and has sealed it with his holy sacraments, of which we can remind ourselves and with which we can comfort ourselves in our greatest temptations and thus extinguish the flaming darts of the devil. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.496; FC Epitome XI: 13)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#23)

In the preaching of the law there are two things we must always keep in mind. First, we cannot keep the law unless we have been reborn by faith in Christ, as Christ says (John 15:5), “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Secondly, though men can at most do certain outward works, this universal statement must be permitted to interpret the entire law (Heb. 11:6), “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” We must keep the Gospel promise that through Christ we have access to the Father (Rom. 5:2). It is clear that we are not justified by the law. Otherwise, if the preaching of the law were enough by itself, why would Christ and the Gospel be necessary? Thus in the preaching of penitence it is not enough to preach the law, the Word that convicts of sin. For the law works wrath; it only accuses; it only terrifies consciences. Consciences cannot find peace unless they hear the voice of God, clearly promising the forgiveness of sins. Therefore it is necessary to add the Gospel promise, that for Christ’s sake sins are forgiven and that by faith in Christ we obtain the forgiveness of sins. If our opponents exclude the Gospel of Christ from the preaching of penitence, they deserve to be regarded as blasphemers against Christ. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.144; Apology IV: 256-7)
The quick and the dead

I had a discussion on a shut-in call today about the difference between "the living and the dead" and "the quick and the dead".

My congregations are currently using The Lutheran Hymnal, and there is some discussion about changing over to Lutheran Service Book. In discussing with my shut-in some of the differences between the two, we started talking about the "updating" in the language of the creed. (I realize that everyone who uses Lutheran Worship is already past this discussion; I appreciate your patience :)

Quick means living. It has all sorts of archaic meanings: as an adjective - not stagnant, running, flowing; fiery, glowing; pregnant.

There is also a verbal form, "to quicken", which means: to make alive, revive; to cause to be enlivened, stimulate. "To quicken" has the archaic meaning "to kindle, to cause to burn more intensely" (which brings to mind the prayer: "Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love"). "To quicken" also means "to come to life" - "entering into a phase of active growth and development" and "reaching the stage of gestation at which fetal motion is felt".*

I've always wondered if there was something a little more generic about "living" and whether we did not lose something from "quick" in the updating. Thoughts?

*From Libronix looking at Merriam-Webster, I. 1996, c1993. Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (10th ed.). Merriam-Webster: Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book of Concord links posted - I've added several links on the sidebar to locations where the Concordia can be found on-line for viewing or for purchase. ( is always a great place to look for comparison pricing, although CPH and CBD are not listed in the sites which addall compares). Particularly interesting in this list are the 1580 German edition of the Book of Concord (published in Dresden, scanned from the copy (?)located at(?) Wartburg Seminary's library) and the French edition (which I found when doing research for a mission organization here in northern Minnesota that works with Lutherans in Haiti). Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#22)

[Speaking of Malachi 1:11] (T)he very words of the prophet express his meaning. For they first say this, namely, that the name of the Lord will be great. This is accomplished by the preaching of the Gospel. For through this the name of Christ is made known, and the mercy of the Father, promised in Christ, is recognized. The preaching of the Gospel produces faith in those who receive the Gospel. They call upon God, they give thanks to God, they bear afflictions for their confession, they produce good works for the glory of Christ. Thus the name of the Lord becomes great among the Gentiles ( Apology XXIV: 32).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#21)

The question has been, Is the preaching of the Holy Gospel strictly speaking only a preaching of grace which proclaims the forgiveness of sins, or is it also a preaching of repentance and reproof that condemns unbelief, since unbelief is condemned not in the law but wholly through the Gospel? (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.477-8; FC Epitome V: 1).
Answer? The Word of God must be rightly divided in order to maintain the distinction between Law and Gospel. Strictly speaking, the Law "teaches what is right and God-pleasing" and "condemns everything that is sinful and contrary to God's will" (ibid, 478:3). Strictly speaking, the Gospel "is the kind of doctrine that teaches what a man who has not kept the law and is condemned by it should believe, namely, that Christ has satisfied and paid for all guilt and without man’s merit has obtained and won for him forgiveness of sins, the 'righteousness that avails before God,' and eternal life" (ibid, 5; cf. 7).

However, the term 'Gospel' is not always used in its strict sense when it is used in Holy Scripture. The word may also mean "a proclamation both of repentance and of forgiveness of sins" (ibid, 6).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What's your favorite translation/edition of the Concordia (and why)? The McCain Reader's Edition? Tappert? Kolb-Wengert? The Triglotta? I think that Jacobs was available at the CTSFW bookstore when I was a student; I don't know if it is still there. How about the Henkel edition of the Book of Concord; are there still copies of this edition out there?

When you read the Concordia, what format do you prefer? Do you prefer to read it electronically - either on-line (I think Triglotta is the version available at or electronically (Tappert and Kolb-Wengert are available on CD) or do you like the feel of a book in your hands?
"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#20)

Here is a quotation about listening to sermons, from the section on the Third Commandment in the Large Catechism:

In the same way those conceited fellows should be chastised who, after hearing a sermon or two, become sick and tired of it and feel that they know it all and need no more instruction....

Let me tell you this. Even though you know the Word perfectly and have already mastered everything, still you are daily under the dominion of the devil, who neither day nor night relaxes his effort to steal upon you unawares and to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against all these commandments. Therefore you must continually keep God’s Word in your heart, on your lips, and in your ears. For where the heart stands idle and the Word is not heard, the devil breaks in and does his damage before we realize it. On the other hand, when we seriously ponder the Word, hear it, and put it to use, such is its power that it never departs without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, new pleasure, and a new spirit of devotion, and it constantly cleanses the heart and its meditations. For these words are not idle or dead, but effective and living.
(Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.378-9; LC 10 Commandments III: 99-100).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#19)

The following quotation from the Formula of Concord (Epitome, Article I - Original Sin) is perhaps implicit in making the point that a preacher should consider the hearers when choosing the words and language that he uses in his sermons. (One can find a similar point made elsewhere in the Confessions, particularly with reference to "sermons for children".)

As far as the Latin words substantia and accidens are concerned, they are not biblical terms and, besides, they are unknown to the common man. They should therefore not be employed in sermons delivered to common, unlearned people, but simple folk should be spared them.

In schools and learned circles these words can profitably be retained in the discussion of original sin because they are familiar and convey no false impressions, and they clearly show the distinction between the essence of a particular thing and that which pertains to it only accidentally.
(Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.469; FC Epitome: 23-4).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Blog My Soul has started a series of noteworthy posts entitled: "How Lutherans Worship". Kinnanman is the author of a book recently released by CPH, "Worshipping with Angels and Archangels", which looks to be an excellent resource to use with confirmation classes and catechumens of all ages.
"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#18)

To set the context for the following quotation on preaching, Melanchthon talks in this particular section in Apology IV (Justification) about how the "scholastics have followed the philosophers... (in) teach(ing) only the righteousness of reason - that is, civil works - and maintain that without the Holy Spirit reason can love God above all things" (Ap IV:9; Tappert 108). He argues: "If we can be justified by reason and its works, what need is there of Christ or of regeneration?" (ibid, 12).

We have heard of some who, in their sermons, laid aside the Gospel and expounded the ethics of Aristotle. If the opponents’ ideas are correct, this was perfectly proper, for Aristotle wrote so well on natural ethics that nothing further needs to be added. We see that there are books in existence which compare certain teachings of Christ with the teachings of Socrates, Zeno, and others, as though Christ had come to give some sort of laws by which we could merit the forgiveness of sins rather than receiving it freely for his merits. So if we accept this teaching of the opponents that we merit forgiveness of sins and justification by the works of reason, there will be no difference between philosophical or Pharisaic righteousness and Christian righteousness (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.109; Apology IV: 14-6).

It seems that the key problem here is not that these sermons preached "philosophical ethics" but that they "laid aside the Gospel" and made it appear as though Christ's purpose in coming was to teach men how to *merit* forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, etc. When philosophical ethics are *substituted for* the Gospel, a good gift of God's creation is substituted for God as the recipient of our love and trust - ultimately becoming a false god.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#17)

Good works should be done because God has commanded them and in order to exercise our faith, to give testimony, and to render thanks. For these reasons good works must necessarily be done. They take place in a flesh that is partly unregenerate and hinders what the Holy Spirit motivates, fouling it with its impurity. Because of faith they are nevertheless holy and divine works, sacrifices, and the reign of Christ, whereby he shows his rule before the world. For in these works he sanctifies hearts and suppresses the devil. And in order to keep the Gospel among men, he visibly pits the witness of the saints against the rule of the devil; in our weakness he displays his strength. The dangers, labors, and sermons of the apostle Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, and other teachers of the church are holy works, true sacrifices acceptable to God, battles by which Christ restrained the devil and drove him away from the believers. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.133; Apology IV: 189=90)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#16)
Our opponents never mentioned faith, by which we freely receive the forgiveness of sins. All their books and sermons were silent about the exercise of faith in its struggle with despair and about the free forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.257; Apology XXIV: 46)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#15)

In our churches, on the other hand, all sermons deal with topics like these: penitence, the fear of God, faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, comfort for the conscience through faith, the exercise of faith, prayer and our assurance that it is efficacious and is heard, the cross, respect for rulers and for all civil ordinances, the distinction between the kingdom of Christ (or the spiritual kingdom) and political affairs, marriage, the education and instruction of children, chastity, and all the works of love. From this description of the state of our churches it is evident that we diligently maintain church discipline, pious ceremonies, and the good customs of the church. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.221; Apology XV: 43-44)
"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#14)

And when the word “Gospel” is used in its broad sense and apart from the strict distinction of law and Gospel, it is correct to define the word as the proclamation of both repentance and the forgiveness of sins. For John, Christ, and the apostles began in their preaching with repentance and expounded and urged not only the gracious promises of the forgiveness of sins but also the divine law. In addition, however, the word “Gospel” is also used in another (that is, in a strict) sense. Here it does not include the proclamation of repentance but solely the preaching of God’s grace. So it appears shortly afterward in the first chapter of St. Mark, where Christ said, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.559; FC SD V: 5-6)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#13)

The Word of God is the true holy thing above all holy things. Indeed, it is the only one we Christians acknowledge and have. Though we had the bones of all the saints or all the holy and consecrated vestments gathered together in one heap, they could not help us in the slightest degree, for they are all dead things that can sanctify no one. But God’s Word is the treasure that sanctifies all things. By it all the saints themselves have been sanctified. At whatever time God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read, or pondered, there the person, the day, and the work are sanctified by it, not on account of the external work but on account of the Word which makes us all saints. Accordingly, I constantly repeat that all our life and work must be guided by God’s Word if they are to be God-pleasing or holy. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.377; Large Catechism, 10 Commandments, 3rd: 91-2)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#12)

“Dear Father, we pray Thee, give us thy Word, that the Gospel may be sincerely preached throughout the world and that it may be received by faith and may work and live in us. So we pray that thy kingdom may prevail among us through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, that the devil’s kingdom may be overthrown and he may have no right or power over us, until finally the devil’s kingdom shall be utterly destroyed and sin, death, and hell exterminated, and that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.” (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.427; Large Catechism, Lord's Prayer 2nd Petition: 54)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#11)

Our opponents attribute justification to love because everywhere they teach and require the righteousness of the law. We cannot deny that love is the highest work of the law. Human wisdom looks at the law and seeks righteousness in it. Thus the great and learned scholastics proclaimed the highest work of the law, and to it they attributed justification. Deceived by human wisdom, they did not see the true face of Moses but only his veiled face, just as the Pharisees, philosophers, and Mohammedans. We for our part preach the foolishness of the Gospel, which reveals another righteousness, namely, that because of Christ, the propitiator, we are accounted righteous when we believe that for Christ’s sake God is gracious to us. We know how repulsive this teaching is to the judgment of reason and law and that the teaching of the law about love is more plausible; for this is human wisdom. But we are not ashamed of the foolishness of the Gospel. Because of Christ’s glory we defend it and we ask Christ for the help of his Holy Spirit to make it clear and distinct. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.139; Apology IV: 229-30)

Friday, September 22, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#10)

The past couple of years, my confirmation students were asked to pick a topic from the confessions and write a paper. I have been surprised by the number of students who chose "monastic vows" as the topic of their paper. Today's quote is from "Monastic Vows" in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession:

Meanwhile they neither hear nor preach the Gospel about the free forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, about the righteousness of faith, about true penitence, about works that have the command of God. But they spend their time either on philosophical discussions or on ceremonial traditions that obscure Christ. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.278; Apology XXVII: 54)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

CTS News Release about Marquart Funeral

This news release came through yesterday on CTSNews at Yahoo!Groups (subscription information below). I was glad to see that the Funeral Service will be available over the internet through the seminary website (see details below).

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2006

Funeral for Professor Marquart to Take Place Friday in Kramer Chapel

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CTS)-Funeral arrangements for Dr. Kurt E. Marquart, who was called to his eternal home on September 19, have been finalized. The funeral will take place on Friday, September 22, at 10:00 a.m. in Kramer Chapel on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. Calling will take place Thursday, September 21, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m., and Friday one hour before the service, in Luther Hall on the seminary campus.

All Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) clergy who wish to process for the service should be vested with a white stole and arrive at Kramer Chapel no later than 9:30 a.m. The service will be audio recorded and available on the seminary website by 1:00 p.m. on Friday. To listen to the recording go to, and select Chapel: Morning Office in the left-hand column.

Dr. Marquart was an Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and served at the seminary from 1975 to the time of his death. He is survived by his beloved wife, Barbara, and children: Danny (Karen); Cynthia (Kerry) Johnson; Barry (Monika); Angela (John) Hill; and Anthony (Rebecca). They have also been blessed with 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


For information about becoming a pastor, please contact the Office of Admission at 1-800-481-2155. To learn more about Christ Academy, a unique program for high school and college men, please call 1-800-481-2155. To help support CTS and its students through a financial contribution, please call the Office for Institutional Advancement toll-free at 1-877-287-4338.

To receive electronic versions of news releases from Concordia Theological Seminary, send an e-mail message to CTSNews-subscribe AT To discontinue receiving electronic versions, send an e-mail message to CTSNews-unsubscribe AT
"On Preaching" from the Confessions #8

Thus you see plainly that Baptism is not a work which we do but is a treasure which God gives us and faith grasps, just as the Lord Christ upon the cross is not a work but a treasure comprehended and offered to us in the Word and received by faith. Therefore they are unfair when they cry out against us as though we preach against faith. Actually, we insist on faith alone as so necessary that without it nothing can be received or enjoyed. (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.441; Large Catechism Baptism: 37)

The water in Baptism does such great things as forgive sins, rescue from death and the devil, and give eternal salvation to all who believe this because the Word of God has connected itself to the water to do this for us. Apart from the Word of God, Baptism has no power; with that Word of God, Baptism is a wet and powerful word. Apart from faith, Baptism gives none of the promised benefits. Yet what is faith? Is it something that we do? Or is it not better to speak of faith as something that God works in us - even the will to believe what God has promised and declared? The Word of God is powerful to do that which we cannot do and converts us to believe that which it gives and proclaims.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#9)

The "Third use of the Law" continues to be a topic of energetic discussions. In preparation for an upcoming pastors' conference on the topic, the pastors in my district have been asked to read Scott Murray's Law, Life, and the Living God.

Below, I've included two points from the Formula on the Third Use. An interesting read on "self-decreed and self-chosen acts of serving God" (referenced in point #2 below) may be found here.

2. We believe, teach, and confess that the preaching of the law is to be diligently applied not only to unbelievers and the impenitent but also to people who are genuinely believing, truly converted, regenerated, and justified through faith.

3. For although they are indeed reborn and have been renewed in the spirit of their mind, such regeneration and renewal is incomplete in this world. In fact, it has only begun, and in the spirit of their mind the believers are in a constant war against their flesh (that is, their corrupt nature and kind), which clings to them until death. On account of this Old Adam, who inheres in people’s intellect, will, and all their powers, it is necessary for the law of God constantly to light their way lest in their merely human devotion they undertake self-decreed and self-chosen acts of serving God. This is further necessary lest the Old Adam go his own self-willed way. He must be coerced against his own will not only by the admonitions and threats of the law, but also by its punishments and plagues, to follow the Spirit and surrender himself a captive. 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 6:12; Gal. 6:14; Ps. 119:1; Heb. 13:21.

(Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.480; FC E VI: 3-4)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

+ Dr. Marquart lives! + In these three words, Watersblogged! captures our Christian confession about Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, and about all those who believe in Jesus: Though they die, yet they shall live; whoever lives and believes in Jesus never dies.

And so we say of Professor Marquart what Our Blessed Lord Jesus said of Jairus's daughter: "He is alive! He is not dead but sleeping!" Sadly for us, we can no longer stir him up to labor with us in Our Lord's fields. The Lord of the Harvest has finally granted our dear doctor to rest from his labors. Now Professor Marquart waits for the coming of Him who shall raise all the dead and give unto him and all believers in Christ eternal life.

In Jesus, Dr. Marquart lives! Thanks be to God!
+ The Reverend Doctor Kurt Erik Marquart +

Earlier today, I read that Professor Marquart's earthly toils had ended.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.

Update: Fort Wayne Observed indicates that arrangements have been announced: The funeral service will be at 10am on Friday, September 22, at Kramer Chapel on the seminary campus (Fort Wayne). Viewing will be one hour prior to the service on Friday. Calling will be from the hours 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 on Thursday at Luther Hall on campus. The arrangements are by Klaehn, Fahl & Melton Funeral Homes.

For further information and related readings, see the following:
Cyberbrethren and Cyberstones' Memories of Marquart
Beggar's All
Blessed and Content -- and Disabled
Burr in the Burgh
Cruce Tectum
Father Hollywood
Latif's Memoir
LCMS News Spot
Lutheran Logomaniac
One Lutheran Ablog
Putting Out the Fire
Rev. Tucher
Saint Stephen LC, Milwaukee
Schaaf's Kopf
Territorial Bloggings
Uneasy Priest
Weedon's Blog

Monday, September 18, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#7)

"The distinction between law and Gospel is an especially brilliant light which serves the purpose that the Word of God may be rightly divided and the writings of the holy prophets and apostles may be explained and understood correctly. We must therefore observe this distinction with particular diligence lest we confuse the two doctrines and change the Gospel into law. This would darken the merit of Christ and rob disturbed consciences of the comfort which they would otherwise have in the holy Gospel when it is preached purely and without admixture, for by it Christians can support themselves in their greatest temptations against the terrors of the law." (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.558; FC SD V: 1)

The classic book on this topic is the evening lecture series of C.F.W. Walther collected under the title: Proper Distinction Between Law & Gospel. Recently, Professor John Pless of CTS Fort Wayne authored Handling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today. Browsing what else is available, I noticed that the professor under whom I studied homiletics has a 4 CD set available through CPH on the Proper Distinction as well as a paperback available through Amazon entitled: Sermon Form and Law-Gospel Preaching. Another volume that I have heard mentioned (though I have not read it) is Herman Stuempfle's Preaching Law and Gospel.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#6)

"Everything that they are to teach and preach is now available to them in clear and simple form in the many excellent books which are in reality what the old manuals claimed in their titles to be: 'Sermons That Preach Themselves,' 'Sleep Soundly,' 'Prepared!' and 'Treasury.' However, they are not so upright and honest as to buy these books, or if they have them, to examine and read them. Such shameful gluttons and servants of their bellies would make better swineherds or dogkeepers than spiritual guides or pastors." (Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.358; Large Catechism Preface: 2)

While on the topic of sermons and sermon sources and resources, I have found the following particularly useful (in no particular order):
Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, 7 Volumes
The 1529 Holy Week and Easter Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther
In Christ: The Collected Works of David P. Scaer Vol. 1: Sermons
Sermons of Pastor David Petersen which are available here and here.
Sermons of the Rev. Fr. John W. Fenton, available here.
Sermons of Pastor William Weedon, available here and sometimes also here.
Rev. William Cwirla's sermons, available here and here.
Sermons of Pastor Aaron Koch, available here.

While Pastor Peter Cage's sermons are quite edifying, they are rare to find on the web. One is located here.

Probably *the* sermon that has influenced most of my funeral sermons was delivered at the memorial in Fort Wayne for President Barry by the Rev'd Dr. William C. Weinrich.

I have not been "so upright" as to purchase the following commendable resources:
Christ Crucified: Lutheran Sermons by Chad L. Bird
Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis

And if you find yourself listed anywhere above, please humor me and consider yourself TAGGED to list your top five sermon sources, resources, or sermons that have influenced you. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#5)

"'For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe' (1 Cor. 1:21). 'Peter will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and your household' (Acts 11:14). 'Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ' (Rom. 10:17). 'Sanctify them in the truth; thy Word is truth. I pray for those who are to believe in me through their Word' (John 17:17, 20). Therefore the eternal Father calls out from heaven concerning his beloved Son and concerning all who in his name preach repentance and the remission of sins, 'Listen to him' (Matt. 17:5).

"All who would be saved must hear this preaching, for the preaching and the hearing of God’s Word are the Holy Spirit’s instrument in, with, and through which he wills to act efficaciously, to convert men to God, and to work in them both to will and to achieve."

(Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.531; FC SD II: 51-2.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Concordia Reader's Edition of the Lutheran Confessions (unofficial) Latest Information

I've had a few visitors looking for information on the Reader's Edition of the Lutheran Confessions, so I thought I would post what I know and give an opportunity for those who know more to comment.

While CPH indicates that the Reader's Edition is still available at the special price of $20 (as opposed to the regular price of $29.99), the "add to cart" button on their site has disappeared. A product update notice (posted as of when, I do not know) reads:

"The nature of the changes we are presently making to Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions require more time than originally anticipated. We will deliver this revised edition as soon as we are able, and we thank you for your continuing interest and support. Further information will be provided as it becomes available. We are sorry for the delay and thank you for your patience."

Amazon (on what basis, I do not know) projects a November 30th release, but they have the CRE listed at its regular $29.99 price.
"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#4)

"When you preach to intelligent and educated people, you are at liberty to exhibit your learning and to discuss these topics [the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments] from different angles and in such a variety of ways as you may be capable of. But when you are teaching the young, adhere to a fixed and unchanging form and method. Begin by teaching them the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc., following the text word for word so that the young may repeat these things after you and retain them in their memory."

(Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.339; Preface to the Small Catechism: 9-10.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"On Preaching" from the Confessions (#3)

"Whenever good works are praised and the law preached, therefore, we must hold fast to these rules: that the law is not kept without Christ — as he himself has said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (John 15:5) — and that 'without faith it is impossible to please God' (Heb. 11:6). The teaching of the law is certainly not intended to abolish the Gospel of Christ, the propitiator. Cursed be our opponents, those Pharisees, who interpret the law in such a way that they attribute Christ’s glory to works and make of them a propitiation that merits the forgiveness of sins. It follows, therefore, that works are praised for pleasing God on account of faith, since they do not please him without Christ, the propitiator. 'Through him we have obtained access' to the Father (Rom. 5:2), not by works without Christ, the mediator."

(Tappert, The Book of Concord. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1959, p.147; Apology IV:269.)

This section from the Apology is a great explanation for why Abel's sacrifice was acceptable and Cain's was not (cf. Heb 11:4): Abel offered his sacrifice in Christ, while Cain's sacrifice was offered in something else.

I used this recently as a sermon illustration:

Some speculate that Eve believed that Cain was the Promised Seed (Gen 3:15); some translate her words in Genesis 4:1 "I have gotten a man - the LORD!" Perhaps Cain, too, thought that he was the Christ and looked at himself as the hope of the world and the Savior of mankind. Coming to the place of sacrifice, Cain made an offering out of the fruit of his labor, vegetation cultivated under the sweat of his brow; as the "Promised Seed", Cain made a meritorious sacrifice to God of his own good works. But as time would soon tell, Cain was not that Seed, and his sacrifice was powerless to save.

By contrast, little brother Abel was definitely not the Promised Seed. He was the second son, born without expectation, whose only hope for salvation was in the One whom God had promised. Abel's sacrifice reeked of sin; Abel slaughtered his firstborn sheep and brought the fat of his flock, reminding the Lord God of the animal sacrifice that was necessary to clothe man's nakedness after the Fall (Gen 3:21). Abel's sacrifice pointed both to man's nakedness and sin as well as to the One who covers mankind's nakedness and sin, the Promised Seed who would strive with the devil and all his evil cohorts to win forgiveness, life, and salvation for mankind. Abel's sacrifice was pleasing to God because it was offered with trust in the One who is powerful to save; Abel's sacrifice pointed to the Promised Seed, the Christ. Abel's sacrifice pointed to the One who would be lifted up as a sacrifice upon the altar of the cross for Abel's salvation and for the salvation of all mankind.