Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Abiding Word: Introduction and Overview

The Abiding Word is a classic collection of doctrinal essays produced in honor of the Missouri Synod's centennial in 1947 and edited by Theodore Laetsch. The original collection included the only the first two volumes, which were district convention essays from 1945 published in 1946 and 1947. The third volume was a later continuation published in 1960 that included additional convention essays from the years 1955 and 1956. This also explains why the first two volumes are usually found in hardback and the last is, unfortunately, usually found in paperback. 

The essays in The Abiding Word are organized by doctrinal topic. The essays were the result of a deliberate plan to take from the best of the early convention essays (and other works) in the Missouri Synod, written in German, and rework and preserve those gems in English language essays. In the back of the first two volumes, there in an appendix that lists the works each author drew upon for his essay.

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Story of Our Church in America by Theodore Graebner

The Story of Our Church in America is a brief survey (33 pages) of the history of the Missouri Synod. While it is certainly not comprehensive, it offers a overview of the Missouri Synod's first 75 years. Of special note are the first three chapters which give a brief sketch of Lutheranism in North America before the founding of the Synod. Attention is given to the work of the Synod in education, publishing, and both home and foreign missions. The book has a wealth of pictures of the principle founders and leaders of the Synod as well as hand drawn maps that add a nice touch. Though originally published in 1922, the last chapter (of the version I have) includes an Addenda of supplementary material from 1932.

Thedore Graebner goes out of his way to thank a Mr. Bendix Taenzer of St. Louis, the artist of the maps. Graebner states that, "No such maps illustrating the history of American Lutheranism, and especially the work and development of our Synod, have ever been printed before." (The maps from the booklet are included as pictures below.) As a lover of maps myself, and a firm believer in their importance in teaching, I cannot help but echo Graebner's exhortation concerning their usefulness: "They deserve earnest study, and, once their meaning is well grasped, will deepen our realization of divine favors conferred upon our Church."

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

To What Intent Does God Afflict Us With Sickness? by Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Sihler

Image result for wilhelm sihler

This short paper, "To What Intent Does God Afflict Us With Sickness?", is an excellent, brief resource that addresses common questions surrounding the reality of suffering and God's omnipotence. The PDF of the work is provided by 1580 Press, a site where one can find many other L-TOMs and other Lutheran works. I believe 1580 Press is run by Nathan Higgins.

Sihler was an important figure in the formation of the Missouri Synod and the establishment of the Fort Wayne Seminary. For a article on his life and work, see "Professor Wilhelm Sihler: Founding Father of Lutheranism in America and First President of Concordia Theological Seminary" by Lewis Spitz Jr.

In this brief paper, Sihler directly confronts the often troubling truth that God sends sickness to both unbelievers and believers. Straightforward assertion of the truth and childlike trust in the Word and promises of God are hallmarks of Missourian writing--especially from this era. And on this front, Sihler does not disappoint. When discussing God sending sicknesses to unbelievers, he writes: 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Victory of the Cross: Chapters from the History of the Early Church by Theodore Graebner

Our Faith Victorious was published in 1913 by Ernst Kaufmann in New York and was printed in Germany. It sold for 25 cents a copy. The book is a summary of early church history by Theodore Graebner. Graebner was a prodigous writer, especially of popular books and tracts, who served as the Lutheran Witness editor for 35 years (1914 to 1949) as well as teaching at Concordia Seminary--St. Louis. 

Here is a brief review of the book in the Augustana Synod's periodical The Lutheran Companion (November 22, 1913). 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Happy Feast of St. Stephen: "Some Difficulties in the Speech of Stephen, Acts 7" by William F. Arndt

Longtime professor at Concordia Seminary--St. Louis, William F. Arndt, wrote numerous books and articles on "Bible difficulties." These works focused on disabusing people of the notion that the Bible contained errors, showing that with calm logic and careful investigation one could resolve most alleged discrepancies, or, even when the resolution surpassed our knowledge or insight, that this did not necessitate or prove a contradiction. Sometimes a fair evaluation was one that might not be able to settle upon a single resolution, but had to leave several possibilities open. Arndt's purpose was to both dismiss alleged proofs of inaccuracies or mistakes that skeptics clung to and to lead believers to trust in the reliability of the Scriptures and have humility when approaching God's Word.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Engelder on "The Hades Gospel": Still Needed Today! (Compilation of All Links)

Once again, the worth of this theological treasure, Engelder's "The Hades Gospel," is proven. For those confused on the matter, Engelder makes clear that Lutherans do not believe in the "Hades Gospel." We do not believe that you get a "second chance" in the afterlife or on the Last Day.

People who die in unbelief go to hell. That is what the Bible teaches. If that is unsettling, than you must refresh your abhorrence and hatred for sin in conformity and in reflection of God's righteous wrath against sin. As Engelder points out, we must repent and mortify our fleshly thoughts. We are not to accuse God of sin by saying, or implying, that He wrongfully didn't give people a "fair chance" as if all men were not poor miserable sinners who deserve damnation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Zwingel Illustrated Bible History Timeline (Pictures of Artwork Included)

Recently, I was graciously given a box of Bible history maps by a parishioner's friend whose husband had been an Sunday School Superintendent for many years.

One of the maps was not actually a map at all. It was an illustrated Bible History Timeline. Or perhaps you would call it an Illustrated Biblical Chronology. Either way, it is an incredibly interesting and well done piece of educational art. The piece was made by Rev. Rudolph P. Zwingel, a Missouri Synod pastor whom I do not yet know much about.