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.)