Friday, August 5, 2016

"Propositions on Marriage and Divorce" (and Engagement) by P.E. Kretzmann

There is not much to say about this little gem from the June 1932 CTM by P.E. Kretzmann besides to commend its clarity. Kretzmann succinctly summarizes, and gives the pertinent biblical citations for, the traditional Lutheran (biblical) teaching on marriage, divorce, and engagement.

Since the 1950's, the Missouri Synod has sounded an unclear note, or at least one inconsistent with its own history, concerning its teaching on what makes a marriage a marriage, particularly in regards to how one rightly enters into marriage.

Much of the confusion, or avoidance of the issue, arose from a desire during the mid-20th century to change the Synod's teaching on engagement--resulting in a weakened definition and understanding of marriage.

This is especially apparent when you trace the evolution of the synodical explanation of the catechism on the 6th Commandment. Up to and including the 1943 version, the teaching on the nature of marriage, and how it is entered into, reflects the same teaching that had been clearly set forth in countless articles, essays, books, and presentations throughout the Synod's history, which in turn stood in continuity with the teaching of Luther, Lutheran Orthodoxy, and the Scriptures themselves.

From the 1912 explanation:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism (1912): Reviewing the New Proposed Synodical Explanation to the Small Catechism

As the "field-test" edition of the new version of the Explanation of the Small Catechism has been sent out to all Missouri Synod pastors and congregations, I expect (or at least hope) that pastors especially will take this opportunity seriously to look at the work of the committee.

Two specific things that I am doing as I review the new version, and I would recommend to others as well, are:

1. Read the coordinate section of the Large Catechism before and after each section.

2. Compare the proposed new version to the older versions. I would not only look at the most recent/current version, but also the 1943 and 1912 versions of the synodical explanation. The current version and 1943 versions are reasonably easy to get your hands on, but it is less likely for folks to have a physical copy of the 1912 version.

Fortunately, you can find the 1912 German-English edition online here.

Need to Get Read Level: Pastors 10/10, Laymen 5/10

Friday, July 29, 2016

"Dr. Francis Pieper the Churchman" by W.H.T Dau

In the October 1931 Concordia Theological Monthly, W.H.T. Dau wrote a moving tribute in honor of the Dr. Francis (Franz) Pieper, who had passed away that June. He begins his essay by quoting part of Pieper's address to the Missouri Synod's 1893 convention.

There is no such thing in the Christian Church as mere teaching; all teaching is to be reduced to practise. The Christian Church is not a philosophers' school, where only teaching is done, but a society of people who by faith in the Gospel and mortification of the flesh are traveling on the way to everlasting life and are commissioned to lead others into this way. 

Dau recalls that this essay gave the delegates confidence that Pieper was carrying on the confessionalism of Walther at the St. Louis Seminary, and noted that the convention would elect him to be the president of Synod 6 years later. Dau makes the point that according to Walther and Pieper, and in truth, teaching theology and administering practical affairs are by no means of a conflicting nature, but logically and necessarily connected. Dau further says:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

DOMI MANSIT--"She Stayed at Home"

In the Concordia Theological Monthly of October 1936, P.E. Kretzmann placed sections of an editorial from the magazine America in Miscellanea. While not a Lutheran writing, it is indeed a treasure that every Lutheran would heartily celebrate and by it be uplifted. "She Stayed at Home" is true, sweet, in the best sense of the word, and a heartfelt reminder of the great gift of motherhood our Lord has bestowed upon mankind.

Would we continue to see in today's Lutheran periodicals such sentiments and praise for the work, being faithfully and lovingly carried out, that God has given to womankind.

Read it below, or go here to read/access the PDF (go to the last page in the document).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"Matins as the Chief Service" by P.E. Kretzmann

Note: Thank you very much to Rev. Aaron Uphoff of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Randolph, NJ for the "heads up" and commentary on this interesting article.

In his June 1933 article in Concordia Theological Monthly, “Matins as the Chief Service,” P.E. Kretzmann gives modern readers a glimpse into a previous generation’s disagreements about worship.  Responding to the apparent push by some Lutheran ministers to substitute Matins for the Common Service without Communion on certain Sundays and/or festivals, Kretzmann gives an overview of three principles which guide Lutheran liturgics, discusses their application in service liturgies, and suggests guidelines should one insist upon making the Matins substitution.

The three principles are the gem of the article and he outlines them thusly:

1. Liturgical Unity: The liturgy must have a “singleness, wholeness, unity, so that the service does not present a disjointed conglomeration, but organizes into a single whole the many parts and intricate relations of a great symphony or a Gothic cathedral.” (p.438)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Living with Luther by J. M. Weidenschilling

J.M. Weidenschilling was a master at summarization and brevity. He produced many short works on basic subjects for the Missouri Synod in the 1940's and 50's. Some of the most famous and widely used were: Our Bible; Our Church; and, Our Creed. Living with Luther is a slender 48 page booklet originally designed to be used in the classroom. It could also easily be used as an introduction or jumping off point for an adult study or a tract for anyone wanting a brief overview of the life of Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Living with Luther was published by Concordia Publishing House in 1945, was slightly revised in 1970, and reprinted numerous times. The illustrator was Gustav Koenig. The Lutheran Heritage Foundation also worked to have it translated into Lithuanian in 1996 (translator: Renata Ambrazeviciene).

Weidenschilling was working in the tradition of Gustav Just's Life of Luther to provide a concise, basic summary of Luther's life and introduction to the Reformation. The two works cover much of the same ground, often even in the exact same sequence and manner. The pictures in the older volume are again used in Weidenschilling's, though they are supplemented with additional illustrations.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Explanation of the Common Service

Note: Thank you very much to Rev. Mike Grieve of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Golden, IL for this excellent review of a true classic. Anyone wanting to know more about our worship service in the Lutheran Church truly ought to pick this book up. It can be purchased from Emmanuel Press. It was originally compiled and published by the General Council to teach people about the beauty and truth of the Common Service. What a blessing that it is still in print!

“An Explanation of the Common Service”:  Fifth Edition Revised and Enlarged; United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia, 1908; Reprinted in 2006 by Emmanuel Press, 1916 Ridgewood Ave., SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506

            The answer, “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” to the question of, “why do we do what we do in worship?” is not only unhelpful, but it’s also false. We do know “why we do what we do in worship.”  Sometimes we just don’t know where to find the answer to the question.  An Explanation of the Common Service helps give concrete answers to questions that would otherwise be left in abstract thought and speculation.  What would seem to be a daunting number of questions and answers (250) is eased by the reality that the book is just 120 pages in length, which includes a history of Christian hymnody; liturgical colors and their significance; and index and glossary.