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.

The publication of The Abiding Word was one of the projects completed by the Centennial Committee that had been established at the 1941 synodical convention.

[From p. 420 of the 1941 Convention Proceedings]

The members of that committee were:

Chairman: Dr. Theodore Hoyer (professor of Concordia-St. Louis)
Secretary:  Rev. Harold W. Romoser (pastor of Trinity-Oak Park; Chairman of the Chicago Study Club)
Members:  Dr. Ludwig Fuerbringer (professor and former president of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis)
                  Dr. Henry B. Hemmeter (president of Concordia Theo. Seminary-Springfield)
                  Dr. Ernest T. Lams (district president of the NID until 1945; pastor of Christ-Oak Park, IL)
                  Teacher A. H. Kramer 
                  Mr. G. A. Fleischer

Note: If anyone has more information about the two final men, please let me know.

The men who put together The Abiding Word believed the title summed up the rationale for the collection:

The title of this book, The Abiding Word, indicates the reason for its publication. Our Missouri Synod, in 1947, looks back on a century of its existence. The fourth generation is taking up the work in our part of the Lord's kingdom on earth; and they are inheriting, undiminished and undiluted, the chief treasure which the fathers came to these shores to save: The Word of our God. For that we give thanks to Him in our centennial year...And we, a hundred years later, present to the reader, "the father's faith in the children's language"--essays containing the gist of doctrinal treasures laid down in the reports of early synodical conventions, now discussed and adopted by the conventions of 1945. (from the Preface)

Need to Get Level: 10/10 for pastors; 3/10 for laymen

If you are a Lutheran pastor, particularly a Missouri Synod pastor, and do not have this on your shelf, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Bear the proper fruit of repentance and get a copy. If you are a layman who is very interested in studying dogmatics or digging into a particular doctrinal topic, these essays will give you an English survey of what our early Missouri forefathers taught.

You can get new paperbacks from CPH, or find original hardbacks on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Note: There will be more particular reviews of each of the three volumes posted over the next few weeks.

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