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."