Friday, June 27, 2014

LHP Review: Luther


Luther, Martin. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels. Church Postil I (Luther's Works 75). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 460 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (LHP)

Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Edited and arranged by Paul Strawn. What is Marriage, Really? From Two Marriage Sermons On Hebrews 13:4 and Ephesians 5:22-33. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2013. 116 Pages. Paper. $.6.00. (LHP)

Springer, Carl P. E. Luther's Aesop. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2011. 249 Pages. Paper with flaps. $39.95. (LHP)

Countdown Commemorative Medallions to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (Dr. Martin Luther; Luther Caught in a Lightning Storm; Luther Becomes a Monk; Luther Travels to Rome; Luther Receives Doctor of Theology Degree; Luther's Tower Experience). Delhi, NY; American Lutheran Publicity Bureau 2011-2013, projected through 2017. Prices vary from $1 to $18 each. (LHPN)

Walther. Gerhard. Luther. Each of our reviews posted today feature at least one sermon collection by these giants and Fathers of our Lutheran tradition. 

This review focuses on recent releases with content by Luther himself.

According to the original CPH prospectus for the addition of volumes 56-75 to the American Edition of Luther's Works, there were to be twenty volumes.

I rejoice to report that there are now twenty-eight planned volumes (!

Church Postil I is numbered as Volume 75. With the addition of eight more volumes, we can surmise (and pray) that more than the previously-announced three volumes will feature Luther sermons. The back flap of the dust cover confirms this: "Volumes 75-79 of the American Edition of Luther's Works, for the first time in 300 years, provide readers with Luther's mature, final version of the Church Postil, along with footnotes identifying the great reformer's own changes." Pray with me for patience as we await more news. Will the House Postil be included?

From the beginning of his work on the postils, Luther had stated that they were supposed to serve common pastors and people, and thus were to be the great devotional book of the Reformation.

Martin Luther's collected sermons for the church year were originally published in two series: the Church Postil and the House Postil. These were among his most popular works. Aside from his catechisms, they did more to teach people the Reformation than any other book. Volume 75 gives the sermons on the Epistle and Gospel readings from Advent through Christmastide in fresh, clear English.

Benefits of Luther's Works, American Edition, vol. 75 (Church Postil I)

1. Accurate and clear translation. (An early 20th-century version of these sermons was inaccurate and stilted.)
2. Presents the Church Postil as the mature Luther wanted it to be:

-Includes Luther's often-extensive revisions to his own work, with significant variant readings from earlier editions translated in the footnotes.

-Includes the version of the summer sermons that Luther approved (Cruciger's edition, not Roth's edition).

-Epistles and Gospels are interspersed as they were originally printed, showing the progression of Luther's teaching through the course of the church year.

(The early 20th-century Lenker version followed the revisionist 1700 edition of Philipp Jakob Spener, not Luther's mature, final edition of 1540 and 1544.)

3. Includes the careful, explanatory introductions and footnotes that have become a hallmark of Luther's Works: American Edition.

4. Includes cross-references and a table showing where Luther's sermons can be found in the German originals.

5. Fully indexed.

Edited by Benjamin T.G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels.

Read Luther's sermons (alongside those of Gerhard and Walther) to better preach to your own people, especially if you are using the One Year Lectionary.

It was interesting to read how Gerhard (xxv) discouraged preachers from imitating Luther's wandering preaching style. My wife would agree. :)

What should be sought and expected in the Gospels? Read Luther's answer (7ff).

For Luther on the church as "mouth house," see 11 n. 9, 39 n. 36, and 51 n. 72. Don't miss this!

Note Luther's sermon text for St. John's Day: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 15:1-6.

We're returning to Luther's form of the postil (xxviii). Blame Spener's 1700 edition for the poor editions ever since(back flap). Watch footnotes for significant variants (xxx, passim). Compare these translations to Lenker at your leisure (xxxii).

Yes, this edition is far better than the seven-volume set recently reprinted by Baker. Save your money. Buy this and not that one. 

Stock up on copies this Lutheran Press edition of Luther From Two Marriage Sermons On Hebrews 13:4 and Ephesians 5:22-33 to catechize couples preparing for Holy Matrimony and to defend Biblical marriage.

Understand Holy Matrimony better at the feet of Dr. Luther as he repeats with clarity what the Scriptures teach regarding it.

What is marriage? A common understanding is that it is a legally binding arrangement between two individuals in which they are granted certain legal rights and privileges by society. But is that all marriage is? Isn't there something more to it that a simple legal arrangement? Martin Luther answers this question with a resounding "Yes!" and in the process, lays out what marriage truly is, how it is created, and how it is joyously maintained. This is a must ready for anyone contemplating marriage, or for those already married.


Formatted into 17 simple chapters along with study questions, this book is perfect for personal devotion or Bible study.

Indeed. Sonntag and Strawn give the Church a timely, accessible, and substantive catechetical tool. 

Without the Word, marriage disintegrates.

Buy it. Use it. Give it away. Buy more. Do so to encourage Lutheran Press to produce more titles like this.

Springer's Luther's Aesop is a pleasant and scholarly surprise from Truman State University Press.

While not yet the children's' edition of Luther's Aesop that Lutheran parents would read in illustrated form to their children as catechetical bedtime stories, this is the necessary and scholarly groundwork for such a set of future publications.

Reformer of the church, biblical theologian, and German translator of the Bible Martin Luther had the highest respect for stories attributed to the ancient Greek author Aesop. He assigned them a status second only to the Bible and regarded them as wiser than "the harmful opinions of all the philosophers." Throughout his life, Luther told and retold Aesop's fables and strongly supported their continued use in Lutheran schools.


In this volume, Carl Springer builds on the textual foundation other scholars have laid and provides the first book in English to seriously consider Luther's fascination with Aesop's fables. He looks at which fables Luther knew, how he understood and used them, and why he valued them. Springer provides a variety of cultural contexts to help scholars and general readers gain a deeper understanding of Luther's appreciation of Aesop.

Classical educators should take note of this book (and practice their German and Latin on the Coburg fables).

Finally, we highlight a celebratory project of our friends at ALPB:


Between 2011 and 2017 - the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation - give the children, their families and all members of your congregation a series of 9 medallions in gold anodized aluminum to collect to create excitement in learning about Luther and the Reformation. For adults interested in collecting the series and numismatic and historic collectors, medals will also be available in antique bronze and .999 silver.

Martin Luther Medals

Images of the finished gold anodized version of medals number 1, 3 and 5, and the antique bronze version of medals number 2 and 4. The obverse of each medal is similar, focusing on Luther (either as a monk or doctor of the church) looking left at an image suggesting the event depicted on the reverse side - here the lightning storm (#1), the door to the Erfurt Monastery where Luther became a monk (#2), the city of Rome (#3). the tower of the Castle Church in Wittenberg where he received his doctor's degree (#4) and Luther's tower study in the Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg (#5). Actual size of medals is 1 1/2 inches. Click on the image above for a larger version, then click again to magnify.


Luther in Lightning Storm (1505) - Available Now
Luther Ordained a Priest (1507) - Available Now
Luther Travels to Rome (1510 -1511) - Available Now
Luther Receives Dr. of Theology Degree (1512) - Available Now
Luther's "Tower Experience" (1513) - available in 2013
Frederick the Wise Blocks Tetzel from Saxony (1514) - available in 2014
600th Anniversary of Jan Hus's martyrdom (1415) - available in 2015)
Charles V becomes King of Spain (1516) - available in 2016
Luther Posts His 95 Theses (1517) - available in 2017


Collector's Board

Martin Luther Medals
(click here for larger image)

A collector's medal holder is now also available. It can be ordered below for $5.50 plus $2 shipping and handling.

With orders for 25 or more gold anodized aluminum medals two gifts will be provided: 1 - Reformation Countdown Hymn, "Hammer Blows Heard Round the World" by Scott Blazek and Reagan Mullin, with each stanza focusing on the theme of one of the medals (with permission to copy in church bulletins) and 2 - children's sermon ideas by Fred Schumacher for use at distribution of medals.

We were provided with the pictured collector's board with the first six medals. It will be a teaching tool at my classical Lutheran school this October. Now, I need to order some of the coins for the students to take home!

I've said it before and write it again: read more Luther for the sake of the Gospel and your hearers in Jesus' Name!


The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

View article...

Pulpit Review: Gerhard


Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Richard J. Dinda. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and Joshua J. Hayes. On Creation and Predestination (Theological Commonplaces: XIII-XI). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 390 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. (LHP)

Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Elmer M. Hohle. Edited by Heidi D. Sias. Postille: Sunday and Main Festival Gospels, Parts III and IV. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2012. 388 Pages. Paper. $19.95. (P)

After too long of a wait for English-reading Lutherans, Johann Gerhard is finally getting his due. Two recent Gerhard releases are before us in this review.

The cover subtitle mentions creation and predestination. The title page goes into much more detail of what is in store for a reader of Theological Commonplaces VIII-XI:

In this volume, Gerhard addresses creation, anthropology, angels, divine providence, eternal election, and the image of God. 


The Theological Commonplaces series is the first-ever English translation of Johann Gerhard's monumental Loci Theologici. Gerhard was the premier Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century. Combining his profound understanding of evangelical Lutheran theology with a broad interest in ethics and culture, he produced significant works on biblical, doctrinal, pastoral, and devotional theology. Gerhard interacts with the writings of the church fathers, Luther and his contemporaries, and the Catholic and Calvinist theologians of his day. His 17-volume Loci is regarded as the standard compendium of Lutheran orthodoxy, with topics ranging from the proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture to eschatology.

Useful for research on Lutheran doctrine, Gerhard's accessible style makes this a must-have on the bookshelf of pastors and professional church workers.

Each embossed hardback volume includes

• the translation of Gerhard's Loci (originally published from 1610 to 1625)
• a glossary of key theological, rhetorical, and philosophical terms
• a name index
• a Scripture index
• a carefully researched works cited list that presents guidance for deciphering the numerous abbreviations of the other titles from which Gerhard quotes.


Call 1-800-325-3040 or become a subscriber to the series and save 30% off the retail price!

Commonplace VIII: On Creation and Angels details God's initial creation and shares an amazing wealth of information about the messengers of God, His holy angels (and our old evil foe). 

Commonplace XI: On the Image of God in Man before the Fall returns to the topic of God's creation by zeroing in on humanity and a fuller definition of imago Dei than is currently widely-known in the LCMS Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism.

Commonplace IX: On Providence gives a Lutheran definition to the term (Chapter I), details God's foreknowledge (Ch. III), and successfully defends the thesis and Biblical truth that God is not the cause of sin (Ch. X). 

Commonplace X: On Election and Reprobation builds on the necessary foundation of Commonplace IX and will help 21st Century Lutherans discuss the topic with Calvinists winsomely and Biblically, well-equipped for such a difficult task. I wish I would have had this volume as a tool for pastoral care two years ago.

I rejoice in the restoration of our Lutheran doctrinal heritage! 

If only Gerhard were more widely known and studied at the time of the Predestinarian controversy (xv)!

Thank you, CPH, for regularly releasing volumes of this important set.

I am also thankful for Elmer M. Hohle's translations of Gerhard's sermons!

I began reading Gerhard's sermons (Volume I) in 2003 thanks to the publication of Rev. Dr. Hohle's previous translation work. Page ix of that volume's Foreword explained that there were more sermons to come from the 1613 collection. 

My patience was rewarded in 2007 with the publication of Volume 2, Sermons for the Trinity season, translated by Dr. O Marc Tangner, and released by Repristination Press.

Dr. Hohle is again the translator of Parts II and IV. Lutheran Legacy brings them to us in this (c) 2012 paperback. It is so good it deserves a hardcover!

In Exegesis and Explanation of Sunday and Main Festival Gospels, Dr. Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) continues his Postille works, delving into the Gospel texts of the Apostles and other Festival Days (Vol. III) as well as passages for Midweek Sermons (Vol. IV).

A translation by Dr. Elmer Hohle faithfully transmits Gerhard's insightful and engaging 17th century text. His Law and Gospel themed writing is both convicting and comforting as he points the reader to Christ, open very powerfully. Gerhard says, "Since Christ thus is the true Way, He will not lead us upon false ways. Since He is the Truth, He will not deceive us. Because He is the Life, He will not leave us in death. His Word is the Truth—we should believe it. His holy life is the true Way—we should walk upon it. Thus we shall find eternal life in Him." (p. 61)

Gerhard examines a variety of theological topics in these volumes, including: the Office of the Ministry, Christ and the Church (Bridegroom and Bride), marriage, the Christian life, angels, doubt, suffering, the burden of sin, death, hell, repentance, the joy of eternal life, the Last Day, and heaven.

Gerhard encourages those in the faith to continually study and receive God's gifts when he says, "Just strengthen your faith by hearing God's Word, and through the use of the Sacraments. Longingly sigh for God, He wants to complete the work begun and protect you unto everlasting life, where then shall be perfect assurance that we shall be with the Lord at all times." (p. 258) May this volume build up your faith through Gerhard's examination of God's Word.


  • Volume 3: Apostle and Other Festival Days
  • On the Day of St. Andrew (30 November) Matt 4:18–22
  • On the Day of St. Thomas (21 December) John 20:24–29
  • On the Day of The Conversion of St. Paul (25 January) John 19:27-30
  • On the Day of The Purification of Mary (2 February) Luke 2:22-32
  • On the Day of St. Matthew (24 [25] February) Matt 11:25–30
  • On the Day of Sts. Philip and James (1 May) John 14:1–14
  • On the Day of St. John the Baptizer (24 June) Luke 1:57–80
  • On the Day of Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June) Matt 16:13–20
  • On the Day of Mary's Visitation (2 July) Luke 1:39–56
  • On the Day of Mary Magdalene (22 July) Luke 7:36–50
  • On the Day of St. James (25 July) Matt 20:20–23
  • On the Day of St. Bartholomew (24 August) Luke 22:24–30
  • On the Day of St. Matthew (21 September) Matt 9:9–13
  • On the Day of St. Michael (29 September) Matt 18:1–11
  • On the Day of Sts. Simon and Jude (28 October) John 15:17–25

Volume 4: Appendage of Passages for Midweek Sermons

  • The First Sermon (Job 1:13–22)
  • The Second Sermon (Isa 57:1–2)
  • The Third Sermon (Ps 42:1–2)
  • The Fourth Sermon (Ps 68:19–20)
  • The Fifth Sermon (Ps 73:25–26)
  • The Sixth Sermon (Matt 3:1–2)
  • The Seventh Sermon (Matt 5:11–12)
  • The Eighth Sermon (Matt 7:13–14)
  • The Ninth Sermon (Matt 8:20)
  • The Tenth Sermon (Matt 13:40–42)
  • The Eleventh Sermon (Matt 16:24)
  • The Twelfth Sermon (John 8:12)
  • The Thirteenth Sermon (John 10:27–30)
  • The Fourteenth Sermon (Eph 5:32)
  • The Fifteenth Sermon (Phil 1:21)
  • The Sixteenth Sermon (2 Pet 3:10–11)
  • The Seventeenth Sermon (1 John 1:7b)
  • The Eighteenth Sermon (1 John 4:16b)
  • The Nineteenth Sermon (Heb 9:27–28 )
  • The Twentieth Sermon (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26–28; 3:5, 12, 21)
  • The Twenty-first Sermon (Rev 7:13–17)
  • The Twenty-second Sermon (Gen 24:2, 7)
  • The Twenty-third Sermon (Gen 35:16–20)
  • The Twenty-fourth Sermon (Ps 126:5–6)
  • The Twenty-fifth Sermon (Hos 2:19–20)
  • The Twenty-sixth Sermon (Sir 26:22–23)
  • The Twenty-seventh Sermon (John 11:25–26)
  • The Twenty-eighth Sermon (Rom 8:31–34)
  • The Twenty-ninth Sermon (2 Cor 5:1–10)

Allow me to note some of the most fascinating contents:

  • Annunciation is also titled "Conception of Christ" (Contents, refers readers to Volume I, 262)
  • A notable sermon "On the Day of St. Michael" on Matthew 18:1-11 (131)
  • The explanation of Part Four: "Appendage of beautiful and selected passages from the Old and New Testament that otherwise and usually were presented and explained in mid-week sermons, especially directed towards the purpose that we may get to know God's love and Christ's merits, and may blessedly receive them in the inward man" (sub-title page)
  • The Twenty-sixth Sermon, notable for being a Lutheran sermon on Sirach 26:22-23 already, gives the origin of Christian wedding sermons: "Finally, such wedding sermons were sanctified by God's Church. For it cannot be denied that ca. 170 AD this praiseworthy practice was introduced into the Christian Church, that the bridal couple was led to church, upon previous instruction from God's Word. They then in the presence of God, with the holy angels and attending Christians as witnesses, were married with the nuptial blessing" (352).

Did you know that last tidbit? I didn't. That paragraph alone should make it worth your purchase (and sharing in future premarital counseling and wedding sermons).

Did Rev. Dr. Hohle also translate part 2? I would be interested in seeing his translation someday.

Prioritize both of these volumes on your wish list and in your continuing ed budget!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

View article...

Pulpit Review: Walther


Walther, C. F. W. Gospel Sermons, Volume 1 (Walther's Works). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 306 Pages. Cloth. $49.99 (P)

Walther, C. F. W. Gospel Sermons, Volume 2 (Walther's Works). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 284 Pages. Cloth. $49.99 (P)

When I was on vicarage, I read this:


And it was one of the highlights of my entire "internship" year. 

No, I'm not THAT old! I was blessed with three boxes of "old German books" including and 1861 Latin all-in-one-volume Examination of the Council of Trent. Yet, I kept coming back to the Walther sermons on the Gospel readings of the Historic lectionary. Back then, my German was better than my Greek. It still meant slow going in Fraktur letters, but it was well worth my efforts (because I definitely needed some joyful, yet solvable distractions in those days).

I remember thinking aloud, "Why should English-reading LCMS Lutherans be deprived of reading these sermons of Walther?" Concordia Publishing House should be commended for making my wish a reality. It wasn't mine alone, apparently.

Walther's sermons reflect not only the importance of Walther as leading theologian of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in the first decades of its existence but also his extraordinary gifts as a preacher. Now in English, Walther's sermons will give you today a peek into the powerful preaching of the first president of the LCMS.

The sermons are printed unchanged in content and form. They originate from the Walther's almost 30 years as pastor of the first German Evangelical Lutheran (Joint) congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in this country, which for some time past consists of four areas with four churches: Trinity, Immanuel, Zion, and Cross Churches. Gospel Sermons Volume 2 covers The Time of the Church (The Season after Pentecost, including sermons for several feast days).

Experience this explanation of God's Word by C. F. W. Walther and know that Christians are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His [God's] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). This was the Bible verse Walther put on one of the first pages of the German edition of his Gospel sermons.

One of the most significant Lutheran theologians in North America, C. F. W. Walther (1811–87) dominated the theological landscape of the mid-1800s. A leader in the Saxon immigration to Missouri in 1839, Walther helped to found the college that would become Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as to organize The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In addition to serving as a pastor, Walther was the synod's first president and the president of the seminary and its leading teacher. A prolific author, Walther wrote on a variety of topics, corresponded with numerous religious leaders, edited the theological journal Der Lutheraner, and helped start Concordia Publishing House.

If you haven't read more than Law and Gospel by Walther, you need to read these sermons. 

If you've never preached on the Historic One Year Lectionary (and you should for at least one year), consider doing so and prepare for the task by reading these Gospel Sermons

Any preacher would benefit from reading these sermons by consulting the Scripture Index of each volume to find texts found in both the One and Three-Year Lectionaries.

What does "postil" mean? Find the answer from President Harrison in his endorsement of the set.

My favorites were largely at the end of the second volume, "Day of the Purification of Mary" (234ff), "Reformation Day" (248ff), and "Day of Humiliation" (268f), though the first volume helped my preaching of Luke 18:31-43 on Quinquagesima (147ff) and John 14:23-31 for Pentecost (291ff).

Join the Walther's Works Subscription Program and Save!

What's next in Walther's Works? I haven't been told officially (or unofficially for that matter). 

Epistle sermons, anyone? 

His Communism and Socialism would be timely.



The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR

View article...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FW: An Interview with Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, Editor of Johann Gerhard’s Theological Commonplaces


Mayes on Gerhard…


Feed: Concordia Academic
Posted on: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:00 AM
Author: DawnW
Subject: An Interview with Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, Editor of Johann Gerhard's Theological Commonplaces


LogocommonplacesAs Concordia Publishing House prepares to release the eighth volume in Johann Gerhard's magisterial Theological Commonplaces, the following interview with the series editor, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, introduces Gerhard and his writing, and reflects on the place of this material in the 17th century and for pastors and scholars of the 21st century.

Who was Johann Gerhard and why is his work important?

Johann Gerhard was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who lived about 100 years after Martin Luther. He was born in 1582, just two years after the last Lutheran confession, the Formula of Concord, had been published. In 1606, the year before Captain John Smith established Jamestown, Virginia, Gerhard received his first call—a call to be a pastor and superintendent of 26 parishes, and a lecturer at a high school. He was only 23 years old. Before he was 30, he had become a doctor of theology and had published several books. In his mid-30s he was called to be a professor of theology at the German city of Jena, and there he spent the next 21 years, until his death.

Gerhard's writings built up the church and Christian believers and also defended the same against attacks. His works that built up the church include his Sacred Meditations, Meditations on Divine Mercy, School of Piety, his Aphorisms, his Bible commentaries, his many sermons, and, most crucial, his work on the first great Lutheran study Bible, the Weimar Bible of 1640. His works that defended the church against attacks include the Theological Commonplaces and the book called The Catholic Confession.

What are the "theological commonplaces"? Why did Gerhard write this series?

The Theological Commonplaces (Latin: Loci Theologici) are a multivolume work of theology that draws from Holy Scripture, presents the teachings of the early church fathers, and defends the truth against its opponents. It is Gerhard's most famous work. It began as disputations (debates) that Gerhard held with the pastors in his district as an exercise in studying theology and defending the church's faith. From there Gerhard put into writing all of his notes and preparations, so that the Commonplaces would be a treasure trove of divine learning for pastors and other Christians to learn and defend God's holy revelation in Christ Jesus.

As you work with this material translated from Latin, what have you found to be most challenging? What has surprised you most in the volumes so far?

A number of things surprised me. Gerhard uses a lot of words that are not found in the standard Latin dictionaries. (This is because modern Latin-English dictionaries are geared for use in reading the classics; but the Latin language had grown and developed a bit by Gerhard's time, over one and a half millenia later.) Also he quotes from Augustine and other early church fathers more than from Luther. He knew and quoted from medieval church law and ancient Roman imperial law. He knew philosophy and made use of it in order to clarify his arguments and criticize his opponents' arguments. His arguments are thoroughly biblical, and he is very clear on this, even though he knows and makes use of so many other testimonies to the truth. Finally, he often ends his chapters or commonplaces with a consideration of the "practical use" of each doctrine. This shows that theology was not an ivory-tower exercise for Gerhard. Each point of theology was derived from Holy Scripture and was meant for application to God's people as teaching, consolation, admonition, or warning.

This project is truly a team effort. Describe the roles of the people involved.

Dr. Richard Dinda, a professor at Concordia University Texas in Austin, originally translated the 19th-century edition (edited by Edward Preuss) into English, but this translation lay dormant for several years. Then in the 2000s, the Rev. Paul McCain and the senior leadership and board for Concordia Publishing House resolved to bring forth Dr. Dinda's translation in print. Since nearly the beginning I have been the general editor, tasked with checking the translation and adding clarifying footnotes, tracking down the plethora of works that Gerhard cites, and providing a suitable introduction. Dawn Mirly Weinstock has been the production editor from the beginning, putting together the parts of these large volumes like the pieces of a puzzle. Recently, the Rev. Joshua Hayes and the Rev. Heath Curtis have joined the team as assistant editors. Numerous others have contributed to make this series the acme of Lutheran theology in the English language.

What benefits will a parish pastor derive from interacting with Gerhard's Theologocial Commonplaces?

Gerhard's Commonplaces are more thorough than any work of classical Lutheran theology that we have in English. For example, Pieper devotes a little more than one page to God's immutabity, and Gerhard devotes about four times as much space to the same topic. Pieper is three volumes; Gerhard will be seventeen volumes.

Gerhard's Commonplaces are educational. By reading him, one can learn an enormous amount about God's Word, church history, philosophy, and clear thinking.

Gerhard's Commonplaces give us a window into how the Formula of Concord was understood in the generation after it was written.

Many of Gerhard's opponents had incorrect views that are popular today. For example, in Commonplace II, On the Nature of God, Gerhard is constantly arguing with Conrad Vortius, a late 16th- / early 17th-century Reformed theologian who was condemned at the Synod of Dort (1618–19). Vorstius denied God's eternity, using the very same arguments as Nicholas Wolterstorff currently uses. Instead of being eternal, God, for Vorstius and Wolterstorff, is a temporal, everlasting being, bound by time just as we are. Nowadays, open theism and the theologies of Karl Barth and Wolfhart Pannenberg have found open ears among many. Gerhard's Commonplaces can help pastors and theologians today connect to the entire Christian tradition, which from the early church through the Middle Ages and the Reformation affirmed such things as God's impassibility, eternity, immutability, omnipotence, and omnipresence. Gerhard can help us to break free from modern theology.

Gerhard does a thorough job with his polemics. Although it may be unpopular these days, polemics are still important. They help us to go beyond saying, "This is what we believe," to saying "and this is why." Gerhard especially argues against Socinians (anti-Trinitarians, who were commonly called "Photinians"), Roman Catholics, and the Reformed.

Yet Gerhard was not overly polemical. He loved the truth and was willing to attack errorists, but he did so with moderation. He always endeavors to represent his adversaries truthfully. This makes his writings all the more accessible to us today.

Gerhard gives thorough consideration to issues dealing with pastoral practice and ethics. Marriage is the largest volume in the series. (It deals also with celibacy, polygamy, forbidden grades of relationship, etc.) Many scholars have noted that Gerhard's Commonplaces are not only intellectual, but they are also pastoral and devotional.

Describe the value of the publication of this series for the scholar.

Gerhard is the third most important classical Lutheran theologian, after Luther and Chemnitz. He quickly became a standard for all later Lutheran doctrine. Everyone quoted him and interacted with his writings, until people stopped reading Latin.

The Commonplaces are filled to the brim with quotations from the church fathers, many of whom have never been translated. One can read large quotations from Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria, for example, and also quotations from figures known to, but not commonly read by, American Lutherans, such as Alcuin, Bernard of Clairvaux, Savonarola, and Jean Gerson.

Gerhard lived in an era that is basically unknown to us. We know a lot about the time from the Reformation to the Formula of Concord, and then from C. F. W. Walther to the present, but not about the time in between—a span of 250 years. (The United States is younger than that.) It is as if someone buried a treasure and left us a treasure map. We have known about Gerhard for a long time—that is the treasure map. But only now are we beginning to dig up the treasures themselves.

The forthcoming volume addresses sin and free choice. In addition to his constant dialogue with Robert Bellarmine, what other groups or theologians does Gerhard address?

531195Gerhard rejects Matthias Flacius's views on original sin; Flacius claimed that the substance of fallen man is itself original sin. Rejecting this view was important, since God remains the creator of mankind, and yet God is in no way the author of sin. This latter point is emphasized against the Reformed, some of whose writers made God responsible for Adam's fall. Nevertheless, Bellarmine and his Tridentine Roman Catholic colleagues remain the main opponent, as they minimized the gravity of original sin, claimed that evil desires are not sinful, and maximized the abilities of human free choice without the aid of God's grace. Gerhard, on the other hand, emphasizes the seriousness of human sin and the utter necessity of God's grace for salvation. In this way, He gives all glory to God and seeks salvation where God has put it, in the saving work of Christ, applied to us by the Holy Spirit.


To order On Sin and Free Choice, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Click here to subscribe to Johann Gerhard's Theological Commonplaces series.

At CPH since 2006, Benjamin Mayes is the managing editor for Luther's Works: American Edition, the general editor for Johann Gerhard's Theological Commonplaces, and he oversees other book projects.

View article...

View article...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Received for Review


Hodge,  Bodie and Laura Welch, editors and compilers.  Illustrations by Bill Looney.  The Flood of Noah: Legends and Lore of Survival.  Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2014. 24 Pages. Interactive Hardcover. $18.99.  (LHPN)

View article...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Received for Review



Sabel, Thomas. Legends of Luternia: the Prince Decides. Little Elm, TX: eLectio Publishing, 2013. 217 Pages. Paper. $13.99. (ebook for $4.99.) (LHPN)

Rossow, Francis. Gospel Handles: Old Testament Lessons. St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. ebook. (P)

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Edited by Clifford J Green, Michael DeJonge. The Bonhoeffer Reader. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013. 850  Pages. ebook. (LHP)

Refuge: Selections from The Book of Psalms for Worship. Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2011. Audio CD. $15.00. (H)

Deliverance: Selections from The Book of Psalms for Worship. Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2019. Audio CD. $15.00. (H)

Nov 2010 BPW

Mar 2011

Dec 2011 BPW5th

View article...

Monday, June 16, 2014

FW: The Christian's Time




Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Sunday, June 15, 2014 5:41 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: The Christian's Time


A Christian lives his days with Christ and in comtemplation of Him.


His Days pass in remembering the sufferings of Jesus. When the clock strikes eleven, he knows that the bells are ringing in the noon hour of his Redeemer, when thick darkness overshadowed Him. In the afternoon at three o'clock, he breathes a greateful prayer of joy, for the Lord has finished. Every stroke of the clock calls upon him to consider what Christ did and suffered in that hour.


His Weeks are pictures of Christ's life. Sunday, at each return, is the brother of the Easter Day, the most joyful day of the week. It is preceded by days of repentance and suffering. Wednesday already brings the memory of the unholy bargaining of Judas with the high priests and murderers of Christ. Thursday divides his mind between the struggle in Gethsemane and the blessed institution of the Lord's Supper. Every Friday is a weekly "Good Friday." Every Saturday is a sabbath of the rest of Christ in the grave.


As in the week, so also the Year: it recalls the life, suffering and death of Christ, an ever new experience of what the Gospels narrate; itself a very Gospel of Christ our Lord.


--from Wilhelm Loehe's Seed Grains of Faith. p. 142, 143.

View article...

View article...

Friday, June 13, 2014

FW: Questions and Answers with Dr. A. Andrew Das



Feed: Concordia Academic
Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:01 AM
Author: Laura Lane
Subject: Questions and Answers with Dr. A. Andrew Das



Dr. A. Andrew Das took some time to reflect on his Galatians commentary. Read on to learn what led him to this writing, what he thinks about modern Pauline scholarship, and how he hopes his commentary will be influential.

How did you become interested in studying Galatians?

In 1992 J. Louis Martyn taught a seminar on Galatians at Yale while he was in the process of preparing his Anchor Bible commentary. This was my first taste of a Pauline epistle at the graduate level, and the course introduced me to a entirely new way of understanding Second Temple Judaism as well as to what is called "the new perspective on Paul and the Law" (it's not that new anymore).

The "new perspective" movement does not prioritize the Reformation's emphasis on sin and grace and abandons anything remotely "Lutheran" in the reading of Paul. The first-century apostle is absorbed, instead, with rejecting the view that the gentiles need to become Jewish in order to enjoy membership in the people of God.

After a Lutheran seminary, this was an entirely new way to read Paul's letters, and I returned to these discussions in my doctoral work. I also went back to the description of the Judaism of Paul's day as a religion based on God's gracious election of a people and mercy toward sinners. I developed what I have labeled a "newer perspective on Paul and the Law" (I guess it's not "newer" anymore). My 2001 Paul, the Law, and the Covenant lays out my approach to reading Paul. The Galatians commentary, then, is a chance to return to the biblical book that got me started in my professional work.

What unique contribution does your commentary make?

The Galatians commentary differs from some of the other commentaries in the series. Since Pauline scholarship has been largely neglected in conservative Lutheran circles, and since Galatians is not an excessively long biblical book, I have tried to be fairly thorough in my review of the professional literature. So you will find in the footnotes of the commentary reference not only to all the other commentaries on Galatians but also to a range of journal articles, ancient sources, and other professional materials.

My hope is that this commentary will get the conservative Lutheran audience up to speed on what is going on in modern Pauline scholarship.

At the same time, this Galatians commentary is the very first that is written from the standpoint of my "newer perspective" on Paul and the Law. I have argued at length why one can accept an understanding of Judaism as a religion largely of grace rather than of "works righteousness," the old caricature, and yet Paul understood that grace in terms of Christ and not the Mosaic Law. To take the path of Moses' Law is simply a dead-end with respect to salvation. For that matter, the Law of Moses itself points the way forward to what God would be doing in Christ.

How do you hope your commentary on Galatians will influence the ministry, preaching, and teaching of pastors?

I was frustrated as a teenager and college student by preaching and teaching that did not advance my understanding of the Scriptures beyond what I had gleaned already before my teenage years. I went to seminary and graduate school in the hope of finding a way to offer something back to that bored teenager from years before.

Pastors and teachers in the church need to remain active and genuinely curious about the ancient biblical text. That curiosity, combined with good study patterns in the parish and a good set of tools, would, I am convinced, make a difference for many potentially disengaging parishioners. I am hoping that this Galatians commentary would provide pastors and teachers with a useful resource for personal study in Scripture as well as for preparing interesting, meaty Bible classes and engaging sermons.

Another problem in our circles is what I call a sort of "Gnostic" preaching and teaching of the biblical text. Conservative Lutheran pastors jump too quickly to the analogy of faith or to other biblical books when preaching a biblical text. There is a place for that, but later on in the interpretive process. Lou Martyn was right to stress to his students and colleagues that we have to imagine ourselves in the first-century congregations addressed by Paul in his Letter to the Galatians. That original setting is the rightful context in which we must interpret these words.

Unfortunately, unless we have personal connections with the Doctor and his TARDIS (a fairly sophisticated time machine), we are not able to go back in time to sit in one of those Galatians congregations when the letter was first being read and studied. That means that we need to reconstruct, as best as we can, what that original context must have been like. We need to study the first-century culture. We mine Paul's letter for clues about the situation he was addressing. We test hypotheses about the original audience and situation. Then we go back and read the letter in view of that reconstruction.

This is the task not just of the scholar but also of the pastor, and especially of the congregation itself. Every pastor's job is to transport the congregation back in time to those original audiences. We have to appreciate Galatians on its own terms before we then branch out and understand Galatians in view of the larger Pauline corpus. Then we branch out and interpret Galatians in view of the rest of the New Testament and the rest of the Scriptural witness. Finally, we are able to look at how Galatians was received through the centuries and understood within the framework of Lutheranism.

The problem is that too often interpreters ignore the crucial starting point with the original audience, and, when that happens, it becomes very easy to get these words on the page to mean something that reflects more our own modern discourse. We read our own conclusions into an ancient text. If this commentary gets the point across about the need for good interpretive work, then that will be one measure of its success.

What was the best part about writing your commentary?

Of course, the best part about writing the commentary is to see the labors finally completed and in print. Hopefully others will find it useful and of value, and to the Lord be the glory!

About the Author
A. Andrew Das is the Donald W. and Betty J. Buik Chair at Elmhurst College. Dr. Das authored Solving the Romans Debate (Fortress, 2007); Paul and the Jews (Hendrickson, 2003); Paul, the Law, and the Covenant (Hendrickson, 2001); and Baptized into God's Family (Northwestern, 1991; 2d ed., 2008). He coedited The Forgotten God (Westminster John Knox, 2002).

His articles have appeared in Journal of Biblical LiteratureJournal for the Study of the New Testament,New Testament StudiesCatholic Biblical QuarterlyConcordia JournalConcordia Theological Quarterly, and Logia, as well as in Paul Unbound (Hendrickson, 2010), The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (Abingdon, 2009), Reading Paul's Letter to the Romans (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), The Law in Holy Scripture (Concordia, 2004), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics (forthcoming), and The Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies (forthcoming).

He was an invited member of the Society of Biblical Literature's Paul and Scripture Seminar and has presented at the Society of Biblical Literature; the African Society of Biblical Scholars; the Chicago Society of Biblical Research; the international Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, of which he is an elected member; and the Evangelical Theological Society. He is also a member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and serves on the Holman Christian Standard Bible revision committee.

He received his M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary and did his graduate work at Yale University, Duke University, and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He served as a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Lombard, Ill., from 2000–2002 and assisted as a pastor at St. John's Lutheran in Lombard from 2002–2004.

View article...

View article...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Closing Issue 8.2 and Opening Issue 8.3

Pentecost: Closing Issue 8.2 and Opening Issue 8.3

This post will mark the last entry in QBR 8.2, Eastertide,
and the opening entry in Apostles' Tide, QBR 8.3

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Received for Review


Newton, Phil A. and Matt Schmucker. Elders in the Life of the Church: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership (A comprehensive update of the previous edition, Elders in Congregational Life). Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2014. 256 Pages. Paper. $16.99. (LHP)

Keating, Ray. The River: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel. Manorville, NY: Keating Reports, 2014. 264 Pages. Paper. $13.99. (LHPN)

View article...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

FW: Martin Luther on Music




Feed: Historia et Memoria
Posted on: Sunday, June 1, 2014 8:39 PM
Author: Matthew Phillips
Subject: Martin Luther on Music


"I would certainly like to praise music with all my heart as the excellent gift of God which it is and to commend to everyone.  But I am so overwhelmed by the diversity and magnitude of its virtue and benefits that I can find neither beginning nor end or method for my discourse.  As much as I want to commend it, my praise is bound to be wanting and inadequate.  For who can comprehend it all?  And even if you wanted to encompass all of it, you would appear to have grasped nothing at all." Martin Luther, "Preface to Georg Rhau's Symphoniae iucundae," in Luther's Works, vol. 53, pp. 321-322.

Martin Luther demonstrated his love of music, especially in Christian worship, throughout his adult life.  Luther studied music as one of the liberal arts.  In this famous preface, written in 1538, Luther described music as a divine gift that appears throughout nature but reaches its perfection in human beings.

"First then, looking at music itself, you will find that from the beginning of the world it has been instilled and implanted in all creatures, individually and collectively.  For nothing is without sound or harmony.  Even the air, which of itself is invisible and imperceptible to all our senses, and which, since it lacks both voice and speech, is the least musical of all things, becomes sonorous, audible, and comprehensible when it is set in motion….Music is still more wonderful in living things, especially birds….And yet, compared to the human voice, all this hardly deserves the name of music, so abundant and incomprehensible is here the munificence and wisdom of our most gracious Creator." Ibid., 322.

After Luther marveled at the human voice as an instrument that confounds philosophers, he praised the benefit of the divine gift of music.  He understood its power over the human mind and soul to be next to Holy Scripture.

"We can mention only one point (which experience confirms), namely, that next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.  She is mistress and governess of those human emotions….which as masters govern men or more often overwhelm them….For whether you wish to comfort the sad, to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate….what more effective means than music could you find?" Ibid., 323. [Emphasis added]

For this reason, Luther explained that the ancient prophets and fathers combined music and God's Word.  Thus humans combine the gifts of language and song to praise God.

"But when [musical] learning is added to all this and artistic music which corrects, develops, and refines the natural music, then at last it is possible to taste with wonder (yet not to comprehend) God's absolute and perfect wisdom in his wondrous work of music." Ibid., 324.


View article...

View article...