Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pulpit Review: Luther and Frederick


Luther, Martin. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels. Church Postil II (Luther's Works, Volume 76). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 484 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (P)

Luther, Martin. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels. Church Postil III (Luther's Works 77). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 422 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. (LHP)

Luther, Martin. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes. Christopher Boyd Brown, General Editor. Sermons on Matthew Chapters 19-24 (Luther's Works 68). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 364 Pages. Cloth. $54.99.  (LHP)

Wellman, Sam. Frederick the Wise: Seen and Unseen Lives of Martin Luther's Protector. St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 321 Pages. Paper. $25.99. (LHP)

Trueman, Carl R. Foreword by Robert Kolb. Afterword by Martin E. Marty. Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015. 214 Pages. Paper $17.99. (LHP)


This review begins with three volumes of the works of the Great Reformer himself, continues with a book on Frederick the Wise, Luther's protector and concludes with Luther on the Christian Life.

In a previous review of Volume 75 of the American Edition of Luther's Works, I wrote:

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."

Here's the second volume of the American Edition version of Luther's Church Postil, Luther's Works Volume 76:


About this Volume
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. The new translation of the Church Postil follows the last edition of Luther's life, from 1540–1544, and includes Luther's often-extensive revisions to his own work, with significant variant readings from earlier editions translated in the footnotes.

This volume includes the sermons on the Epistle and Gospel readings from New Year through Holy Week, plus "Meditation on the Holy Suffering of Christ" and "Sermon on Confession and the Sacrament." The appendix contains Luther's prefaces to earlier editions of the Church Postil. All the sermons include footnotes indicating Luther's edits over the course of his life, all rendered in clear, lucid English.

Benefits of Luther's Works, American Edition, vol. 76 (Church Postil II):

  • Accurate and clear translation. (An early 20th-century version of these sermons was inaccurate and stilted.)
  • 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.)


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


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

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

About the Series
The 28 planned new volumes are intended to reflect both modern and sixteenth-century interests and to expand the coverage of genres underrepresented in the existing volumes, such as Luther's sermons and disputations. The primary basis for the translation is the comprehensive Weimar edition.

Become a Subscriber
Each volume is currently priced at $49.99 each, but as a subscriber you pay only $34.99 plus shipping, a 30% saving. Volumes will release once a year and will be shipped to you automatically. To become a subscriber, view prospectus, view table of contents, or read testimonials, visit
(Publisher's website)

Subscribing is really the way to go. It helps the publisher expect demand and it helps the customer get a really good deal, especially with the new list price of $54.99 for future volumes.

Luther knew that some preachers were reusing his sermons so their congregations could get a better sermon than they would have otherwise. He was concerned that some would just get lazy and read his sermons to their congregations. Today, some lazy preachers find sermons online. I'd much prefer hearing a Luther sermon repeated by most TV and radio preachers today! The laziness of the 21st Century seems to be of a different kind. Many Lutheran preachers may be too lazy (busy?) to read good Lutheran sermons. 

Consider the work that went into Luther's sermon on the "Gospel for the Day of the Wise Men" (71-180). That's not a typo. Page 71 to page 80, sure, but 71-one hundred eighty? Yikes! Luther will teach you how to exegete, translate, structure a sermon, do theology, and preach interestingly if you read this one sermon. What a tour de force in catechesis, history, and pastoral care! He even corrects the false understanding of the wise men as three kings (71, 72, et al).

The English renderings of Luther's German Bible are often quite notable. Consider Luke 2:49: "'Why were you looking for Me? Do you not know that I must be in that which is My Father's?'" (199)

Footnotes are informative and enormously helpful, covering the doctrine of the two kingdoms (268), predestination (290), and Lutheran liturgical changes, like the change in date for the Transfiguration (305).

Appendix B has Luther at his pithy best with regard to poor editions of his sermons: "But now they print these [books] in such a hurry that, when they come back to me, I do not recognize my own books. Here something is left out; there something is transposed; here something is falsified; thee something was uncorrected..." (453)

This set of five volumes deserves a spot near every Lutheran pastor's desk. We just need to wait for them all to arrive in print.

Here's the next part, Volume 77, Church Postil III. 


Few other books communicate the Gospel to Luther's contemporaries so powerfully as Luther's Church Postil (sermons for the church year). Now for the first time, Luther's authorized, final edition of the Church Postil, edited originally by Caspar Cruciger for the summer half of the year, is presented here in English. This volume brings forth Luther's sermons on Epistle and Gospel texts from Easter through Pentecost.

In 1535, Luther wrote to a friend, "Concerning the [earlier version of the] postil, you have more respect for it than I do. I would like the whole book to be destroyed. And this is what I am doing: I am entrusting to Dr. Caspar Cruciger the work of re-editing the whole into a new and better form, which would be of benefit to the whole Church everywhere. He is the sort of man, unless love deceives me, who will correspond to Elisha, if I were Elijah (if one may compare small things with great), a man of peace and quiet, to whom I shall commend the church after [I depart]; Philip does this too."

Benefits of Luther's Works, American Edition, vol. 77 (Church Postil III):

  • Accurate and clear translation (An early 20th-century version of these sermons was inaccurate and stilted.)
  • Commentary on the chief biblical text for the seasons of Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost
  • Includes the careful, explanatory introductions and footnotes that have become a hallmark of Luther's Works: American Edition
  • Fully indexed

Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels (Publisher's Website)

Covering Easter Sunday through Pentecost Tuesday, III picks up where II left off.

I was noticeably struck by the German term behind the seemingly innocuous sentence, "Some act as if they are so completely pure* and blameless that what they do must not be called evil or wrong deeds" (108) from an Easter Wednesday sermon on Colossians 3:1-7. The * is a stand-in for footnote 7: "Katzenrein, that is, as if licked clean by a cat..." The footnote preserves Luther's German humor, which would be very "in" on YouTube.

I was also fascinated by a portion note 9 on page 374, explaining a reference to Bernard in a John 3:16-21 sermon for Pentecost Monday:

....Bernard speaks of the three miracles of Christmas, to which Luther refers in a Christmas sermon from 1520 (WA 7:188-89). The three miracles are (1) that God and man become one thing, (2) that Mary was and remained a virgin [Luther's pious opinion, PJC], and (3) that a human being can believe such things. Luther agrees with Bernard that while the third miracle is the easiest to believe, nevertheless 'in it there is the real miracle, that the Virgin Mary believes that these things would happen to hear. This is so great that we cannot be sufficiently astonished at it...'

I rejoiced at finding both of these gems in the same day. This is just a taste of Volume 77.

In addition, we rejoiced in this volume on Luther's Sermons on Matthew:

As a professor for Old Testament, Martin Luther never wrote out a full commentary on Matthew. He preached on it regularly, however, both in the traditional texts of the church year, and especially in his sermon series on Matthew 18–24 (begun in Luther's Works Volume 67 and continued here), preached to the people of Wittenberg over the course of four years (1537–1540).

In July 1537, Johann Bugenhagen (1485–1558), the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Wittenberg, departed for Denmark to organize the reformation there, and Luther began preaching in Bugenhagen's stead, on Sundays as well as on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Luther's Wednesday sermons on Matthew's Gospel, 56 in all, probably began on July 11, 1537. The last sermon in this series on Matthew was preached on September 19, 1540. Luther thus continued preaching even after Bugenhagen's return in July 1539, though he moved his Matthew sermons to Sunday afternoons beginning in August.

Luther's preaching here is joined closely with the events of 1537–1540. In his exposition of Matthew 18–24, Luther both explains the text and takes the occasion from it to warn his hearers of the dangers he sees threatening the Reformation, such as the temptation to engage in former superstitions, to compromise with the pope, to take advantages of one's neighbor through usury and greed, and to neglect the role of the Law in the life of the believer. Amidst his teaching from Matthew on the forgiveness of sins, divorce, infant Baptism, repentance, the divinity of Christ, the marks of the church, the resurrection, and the end of the world, Luther also seeks to strengthen his hearers to endure persecution—from imperial troops loyal to the pope or from Turkish armies—which he sees approaching just over the horizon.

These are earnest sermons of biblical exposition, antithesis, and admonition, in the attempt to guard the people from the devil and all temptations that would snatch them away from Christ.


  • Commentary on Matthew 19–24
  • Detailed footnotes explaining historical and theological context
  • Fully indexed
  • Clear, accurate translation in modern American English

Edited by Benjamin T.G. Mayes and Translated by Kevin J. Walker

(Publisher's website)

Volume 68 continues Luther's Matthew Sermon "Commentary," last seen in Volume 67, covering chapters 1-18. I surmise that a separate volume on Matthew 25-28 is unnecessary because of extant Luther sermons on the Gospels of the Church Year, especially the end of the Church Year, Holy Week, and Easter and its season.
It is fascinating to me that these sermons give us the Gospel according to Matthew as Luther expounded between 1537-1540, four years. The footnotes will give the reader an appreciation for now-obscure contemporary references Luther uses in his preaching.

Let's consider one paragraph of his sermon on Matthew 21:42-44:

Therefore, we have to know who are true bishops and builders. It is not right to identify a bishop by the hat or crown on his head, and the staff in his hand, or the silk chasuble he wears. That is not what makes a bishop. For God does not care about the clothing one wears. Look instead at how St. Paul describes bishops in 1 Timothy 3 [:2-7]. A true bishop is described there as leading an honorable, blameless life and being able to teach, understanding the Scriptures and being able to interpret them. That is his foremost office. It is not the hat and staff that make a bishop, but knowledge and understanding of the divine Word and the ability to preach to others. As he says further in 1 Corinthians 4 [:1-2], he is to be found faithful, saying, 'Let everyone regard us as God's stewards.' Not stewards of pennies, silver coins, horses, cows, kitchens, or cellars--there are already treasurers in the world for that purpose and women who occupy themselves with that--but 'stewards of the mysteries of God,' so that people can learn and recognize god's desire and will concerning how things stand between Him and us and hear the preaching about God's Son. And he is saying, 'This shall be the praise and glory of preachers: that they teach God's Word purely and administer the Sacraments' (122-3).

With preaching like that, Luther really needs no advocate. 

What should we expect next in this set? 



Volume 78—Church Postil IV




Volume 57—Sermons IV

We continue with an unique CPH offering:


Frederick the Wise  unlocks German research to make available in English, for the first time, a full-length story of Frederick III of Saxony.  The fascinating biographical journey reveals why this noteworthy elector risked his realm of Saxony to protect the fiery monk Martin Luther and the developing reforms of the Church.   As one of the most powerful territorial princes of the Holy Roman Empire of his time, Frederick's "humanity and integrity were rare for someone of his elite status", notes Dr. Paul M. Bacon.  "Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony was much more than simply Martin Luther's noble protector."

A valuable resource for students of German history and the Reformation period.


  • Discusses how Frederick dominated other princes of the Holy Roman Empire for nearly 40 years
  • Tells why Frederick's only "wife"—but not their children—had to be kept "secret"
  • Chronology of events relevant to Frederick the Wise
  • Index of persons and places

About the Author

Sam Wellman graduated from the University of Nebraska. After obtaining a doctorate from Princeton University, he worked in industry for several years. From 1987 to the present, Dr. Wellman has written many biographies in recent years, using his knowledge of German to delve into the Reformation and those stalwarts who made it happen. Dr. Wellman lives in Kansas with his wife, Ruth. They have two grown children and two grandchildren. (Publisher's Website)

I appreciated the opportunity to learn things I did not know about Frederick from my seminary studies. Therefore, I recommend careful reading of this book. Learn the cast of historical "characters" and don't mistake Friedrich III [1415-93], king/emperor (1452-93) of the Holy Roman Empire (xiii) for our Frederick III [the Wise] of Saxony.

Historical biography is not a genre appreciated by everyone. I quite enjoy them. For the casual reader, encouragement will come around page 157: "Headache: What to Do about Martin Luther". The Protector role of Frederick mentioned in the subtitle comes to the fore! Skip ahead to 221: "Yet if Frederick though Luther had mellowed into a docile scholar, he was mistaken." Luther's influence on Frederick is demonstrated prominently at the time of the Elector's "Decline and Death" (227ff).

Consider the Seen and Unseen Lives of Martin Luther's Protector as you read Concordia's Frederick the Wise by Sam Wellman.

Finally, we turn to a Crossway title with a Foreword by an LCMS professor (Robert Kolb) at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis: 


Martin Luther's historical significance can hardly be overstated. Known as the father of the Protestant Reformation, Luther has had an enormous impact on Western Christianity and culture. In Luther on the Christian Life, historian Carl Trueman introduces readers to the lively Reformer, taking them on a tour of his historical context, theological system, and approach to the Christian life. Whether exploring Luther's theology of protest, ever-present sense of humor, or misunderstood view of sanctification, this book will help modern readers go deeper in their spiritual walk by learning from one of the great teachers of the faith.

Part of the Theologians on the Christian Life series. 


Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.


Table of Contents

Introduction: What Has Geneva to Do with Wittenberg?

  1. Martin Luther's Christian Life
  2. Theologians, Priests, and Kings
  3. The Theology of the Word Preached
  4. The Liturgy of the Christian Life
  5. Living by the Word
  6. Freed from Babylon: Baptism and the Mass
  7. Luther and Christian Righteousness
  8. Life and Death in This Earthly Realm: Government, Calling,and Family

Conclusion: Life as Tragedy, Life as Comedy (Publisher's Website)

Books on Luther by non-Lutherans has always been a genre of curiosity for me. There is no Calvin-named major church body, yet Calvinism is widespread. "Baptist" theology and practice transcend the denomination so-named. Yet those who appreciate Luther beyond his historical stature, his example, and his table talk, strangely come under suspicion. 

I cast no aspersions on this author. I appreciate his approach and honest assessment (Introduction) of why there is a "current reluctance in American culture to relate positively to anyone with whom one has serious ideological differences. Sadly, this often means that one cannot learn from others: if we always re-create others in our own image, we can never be truly challenged by the ways in which they differ from us" (22). 

The next two paragraphs elaborate: 

"Luther was not a modern American Evangelical. Indeed, neither his thought world nor his physical world were those of American Evangelicalism... For Luther, however, the idea that private Bible study might be a universal stable of the Christian life would be bizarre... As to sacraments, Luther's understanding of justification is driven in large part by his changing view of baptism; 'I have been baptized' was his chosen defense against the temptations that the Devil whispered in his ear; and he was adamant that Huldrych Zwingli was of a 'different spirit,' thus calling into question his Christianity, precisely because the Swiss theologian argued that the Lord's Supper was symbolic..."

My goal in a review for this title is to intrigue you enough to seek out, purchase, read, and ponder this book. I personally found such motivation by page 22. 

Lutheran readers will find lines and lines of thought to critique and argue with. Crossway's general audience will find much to appreciate in Martin Luther and in this title in particular. The Christian life is freedom because of the cross of Christ. 

Might I suggest a future subject for this series? 
Hermann Sasse, a contemporary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

We've published a steady stream of new reviews for several days now. It's back to reading for us. Two books on our "reading completed" pile are awaiting companions for themed multi-book reviews. Two unsolicited titles are on the "to read" pile, ebooks are waiting for download in our email, two more are "in the mail" to us presently, and we've begun dreaming of titles to request. Read on!

Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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Lutheran Book Review: Gerhard, Walther, and Sasse




Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Richard J. Dinda. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and Heath R. Curtis. On Sin and Free Choice (Theological Commonplaces XII-XIV). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 367 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. (P)

Walther, C. F. W. Church Fellowship (Walther's Works). St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 417 Pages. Cloth. $39.99 (LHP)

Sasse, Hermann. Edited by Matthew C. Harrison. Translated by Matthew C. Harrison and Andrew Smith. Foreword by Ronald R. Feuerhahn. Additional Translations by Ralph Gehrke, Fred Kramer, E. Reim, and Norman Nagel. Letters to Lutheran Pastors Volume II 1951-1956. St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 511 Pages. Cloth. $34.99. (LHP)

Sasse, Hermann. Edited and Translated by Matthew C. Harrison. Foreword by Ronald R. Feuerhahn. Additional Translations by Charles Evanson, Norman Nagel, Peter Petzling, J. Michael Reu, David P. Scaer, Charles Schaum, Holgar Sonntag, and Paul Strawn. Letters to Lutheran Pastors Volume III 1957-1969. St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 557 Pages. Cloth. $36.99. (LHP)

LCMS readers appreciate our Lutheran church fathers. Gerhard and Walther are obvious ones. I also commend to you Hermann Sasse.

One of my elders recently told me, "My wife really loves me." He shared that he could tell because she bought him the latest volume of Gerhard, On Sin and Free Choice:


About this Volume
On Sin and Free Choice consists of three commonplaces. First, "On Original Sin" addresses the first sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) and the terrible results of this primeval sin: the fact that all of Adam's and Eve's natural descendants lack original righteousness, are corrupted in their natures, and therefore stand guilty of God's just judgment. The original sin is handed down from parents to children via the procreation. The healing from original sin, merited by Jesus Christ, begins to be applied in Holy Baptism.

Second, "On Actual Sins" deals with human statements, deeds, and desires that are against God's moral law. Gerhard examines many categories of sins, and especially shows that even the wrongful desires within people are truly sins. The distinction between "mortal" and "venial" sin is shown to be biblical, but must be guarded from misunderstanding.

Third, "On Free Choice" speaks of how fallen human beings have some freedom of choice, but not the kind of freedom that could turn them towards God. The fallen human will freely chooses only things that are contrary to God, until the Holy Spirit converts a person to faith in Christ.

About the Series

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 subscribe to the series online. Save 30% off the retail price!

View All Gerhard Titles >

(Publisher's website)

Gerhard is deep. He's practical and rigorously theological. He knows the questions on the human heart and mind, appreciates emotion, but always presents God's Word. Learn his theological "dialect." Consider page 93: "Chapter IX: Which Explains How Liberation from This Sin Takes Place." The sin we're talking about is original sin. "What can wash away my sin?" a song asks. It answers, "Nothin' but the blood of Jesus. Gerhard answers in a winsome, eloquent, and thoroughly Biblical way paired with insight from a Church Father:

[Section] 128. It remains to be explained how we are cleansed from that original stain. This happens in Baptism, which is 'the washing of regeneration and renewal' (Titus 3:5). Regeneration includes the remission of sins through the blood of Christ, which washes us of every sin. Renewal includes the mortification of the flesh and the beginning of true obedience, which is not completely perfect in every detail in this life because 'the inner man is renewed day by day' (2 Cor. 4:16). But it will be perfected at some time in the future life when we will be whole, like the angels, and completely sinless. Thus the apostles teaches that the guilt of sin has been removed from the reborn (Rom. 8.21). Meanwhile, as far as depravity is concerned, original sin nevertheless remains (Rom. 7:17), and the devout mortify its deeds (Rom. 8:13) until they are restored into the full freedom of eternal life (v. 21).

Augustine (De peccat. merit. et remiss., bk 2, ch. 7): 'If perfect newness in the very soul, which is the interior man, happened in Baptism, the apostle would not say, "The inner man is being renewed day by day" [2 Cor. 4:16]. Therefore he is not completely renewed, and to the extent that he is not yet renewed, he is under the old.' Again (on John, tractate 42): " 'Let sin not reign." He does not say, "Let sin not exist," but "Let it not reign." For as long as you live, it is necessary that sin exist in your members. At least let reigning be taken away from it; let what it orders not occur.'

This is a very timely and timeless volume that I will be able to use regularly and practically when I encounter those who deny Original Sin, like some famous and influential American Evangelicals, when I teach on what "counts" as sin for us, the sins we actually commit, as opposed to the "little white lies," skeletons in our closets, "dirty laundry," and things people "sweep under the rug." English has quite the repertoire of handy euphemisms that deny the "actuality" of actual sins. Brother pastors, equip yourself for questions about the sin against the Holy Spirit with p. 216ff. 

Finally, the third part of the volume will remind you how unique Luther's Bondage of the Will is in a theological context with neighbors like Calvinists, Roman Catholics, and Wesleyans. We need this kind of comprehensive, disciplined review and training in Biblical Truth. In particular, study p. 310ff, "Chapter IX: On the Freedom of Choice Left after the Fall.

Yes, Gerhard is always well worth your money, time, and shelf space. 

My favorite volume of Walther to date is the following:


 From 1857 to 1884, C.F.W. Walther wrote numerous articles and speeches dealing with Lutheran identity and unity in doctrine and practice on the basis of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. For the first time, these previously scattered, inaccessible, and forgotten writings are being brought together in one volume.

This volume helps clarify not only what Lutheran identity was in the nineteenth century, but also what it means to confess the Christian faith in the twenty-first century, in harmony with the Church of all ages.

View all of Walther's Works >

About C.F.W. Walther
C. F. W. Walther (1811–87) served as pastor in Perry County and St. Louis, Mo.; the first president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod; first president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference (including the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods, and other American Lutheran church bodies); co-founder, professor, and president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; an editor of theological journals; and author of many books. (Publisher's Website)

Why is this my favorite volume of Walther's Works released to date? Simply put, it is the medicine we need now in the LCMS. Walther, speaking and writing to his contemporaries, also needs to be "overheard" by his theological and nominal heirs in the Missouri Synod. This is the content we need to discuss in Koinonia rather than "context." 

Start with #11, "Communion Fellowship," an essay delivered beginning on 15 June 1870 to the Fifteenth Western District Convention. If you want "practical," and be able to comprehensively and winsomely defend and explain Closed Communion, read on!

Here is motivation to take the Confessions seriously, to subscribe unconditionally to the Lutheran Confessions, to deliberately and consciously examine why we draw the lines of fellowship the way we do, and why we do visitation. On that latter topic, read #14, "Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod" second. This 1879 essay was recommended/required reading for a recent LCMS convention. Walther is to be thanked for quoting Luther at length regarding a situation where some folks wanted to get rid of their pastor for an improper reason (302-4).
These two essays are well worth the price of the book. 

Dear Wyoming and Atlantic District brothers, this is my suggestion for us for common further reading!

We reviewed Volume I of Herman Sasse's Letters to Lutheran Pastors a while ago:

The three volume set is now complete.

For nearly thirty years, Hermann Sasse corresponded with Lutheran pastors in Australia, the United States, and around the world on topics as varied as the nature of the Sacraments or of the Church, as well as ecumenical issues. Each letter in Letters to Lutheran Pastors - Volume 2 reflects Sasse's passionate commitment to the building up of the Church of Christ on earth and to the Lutheran Confessions.


  • Foreword by Ronald R. Feuerhahn
  • Many of these letters are available in English for the first time!

About the Author

Hermann Sasse (1895–1976) was trained at the University of Berlin under such well-known theologians as Harnack and Deissmann. During a study year in the United States, Sasse discovered the writings of Wilhelm Löhe and returned to Europe a convinced confessional Lutheran. In this faith he persisted, despite great difficulties, as a professor of theology at the University of Erlangen and at Immanuel Seminary (later renamed Luther Seminary), North Adelaide, Australia.


(Publisher's website)

Volume III (1957-1969) has a striking yellow cover!

Let's talk about both volumes together. With Volume I, they comprise a complete work anyway, a letter series that requires and deserves careful, thoughtful reading. One cannot and should not read an entire volume all at once. Take one essay, consider its historical context and do a mental dialog with Sasse. 

Agree with him on his retraction of Essay 14 (cf. #29, II: 205). Hear his heartache as the LWF and ecumenical movement (II:418) deteriorate into liberalism. Pay a little closer attention when he turns his focus on the Missouri Synod (II:5, passim). Better understand Here We Stand and Luther at Marburg with #23. Hear him interact with history, Bible translation (III:196), liturgy (II:363; III:437), psalmody (III:196) and hymnody, the Roman Church, the Reformed, and the Sacraments. Hear Sasse's voice, yet nuances in translation of his students and admirers: Nagel (e.g. II: 425ff), Harrison, et al, and Feuerhahn's Foreword.

Sasse's usefulness is in his long view of history, a heavenly view that takes the Scriptures and Confessions at face value. Like Gerhard, Sasse writes in a timely way that has us wondering how he knew what was happening in church and world today, and in a timeless way that imitates the Scriptures themselves with profound insights being applicable well beyond the time they were first written down. In particular, Sasse is helpful in apologetic for defending the Word of God (excepting #14), the Sacraments of Christ (passim), the Confessions of the Lutheran Church (cf. III:351, n. 12), Closed Communion (III:422, n. 28), for resisting the siren call of the Reformed and Rome (III:224) Canterbury (III:114), and even the LWF (III:20). Here is an ally for the battle against the ordination of women (III:143 n. 11; III:316 n. 16), and an advocate for the preservation of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America (III:166) even as he worked for the responsible union of Lutherans in Australia based on a common confession.

The Letters ended with #62, "An Open Letter to a German Lutheran Bishop," dated 22 September 1969 (III:457ff). Hermann Otto Erich Sasse died on 9 August 1976, a calendar day that would latter be my wedding day. Each August 9th I thank the Lord for my bride and also for St. Hermann Sasse.

Remember: Church fellowship is altar fellowship and altar fellowship is church fellowship. Sasse, Walther, and Gerhard would agree.

We have more reviews in the works for our readers and book lovers. Look for one on Luther soon, a future Author Spotlight on William Weinrich, and a forthcoming review of Chemnitz' own Church Order.

Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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Lutheran Book Review: Concordia Commentaries for Galatians and Ephesians


Das, A. Andrew. Galatians (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 738 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (P)

Winger, Thomas M. Ephesians (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 895 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. Sale Price: $49.99. (P)

This review begins with the landmark Galatians commentary by the Rev. Dr. A. Andrew Das.

About this Volume

Paul's fiercely passionate letter to the Galatians offers a rare glimpse into the early history of the emerging Christ-believing movement. Paul is seething with righteous indignation over the events at Galatia even as he conveys his hope that the Galatians might be coaxed back to the true Gospel.

The Galatians' young faith was grappling with issues that would prove to be a watershed. Do gentile Christians need to adopt Moses' Law and be circumcised as Jews in order to worship the God of the Jewish Savior? Or does Baptism incorporate every manner of person—without distinction—into Christ? Does faith alone suffice for salvation? Across the divide of two thousand years of time and cultural space, the letter to the Galatians is an authoritative witness to the catholic Gospel of salvation by grace alone, for all people alike.

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 Grand Thematic Narratives of Galatians is forthcoming from Fortress.

His articles have appeared in Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, New Testament Studies, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Biblical Research (forthcoming), Concordia Journal, Concordia 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.

(Publisher's website)

Read more here:

I appreciated the comprehensive presentation of the addressees of the letter (20ff), the Pauline chronology (47), and the author's handling of rhetoric in general with application to Galatians specifically (49ff, 67ff, 633).

Readers will also appreciate the connection between the epistolary prescript and Aaronic Benediction (80ff), explanation of "Christ" as honorific (94), medicine for apologetics with Muslims and Mormons and others from 1:8 (106ff, e.g. 109),  a careful explanation of the Cephas/Peter controversy (139ff) and identity of James (141ff), an explanation of Paul's time in Arabia (summary on 155), background on Antioch and first use of the name "Christian" (200), gentile/Jewish controversy (232) and its connection to the so-called "new perspective" on Paul (274-5, passim), the Abrahamic promise (335-6, 389-90), parallels between 4:5-7 and Romans 8:15-17 (413), the circumcision issue/timing of chapter 5 (536ff), Figure 1 on The Works of the Flesh in 5:19-21 (568) and Figure 2 on the Fruit of the Spirit in 5:22-23 (579), and the commentary's Glossary of Select Terms (657).

In a time when "Lutheran" is considered pejorative by some (xiv), Dr. Das has provided the church with a substantive and scholarly Galatians commentary that is a worthy companion to Luther's own.

About the Series
The Concordia Commentary Series: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture is written to enable pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with greater insight, clarity, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the biblical text. This landmark work will cover all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, interpreting Scripture as a harmonious unity centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every passage bears witness to the Good News that God has reconciled the world to Himself through our Lord's life, death, and resurrection.

The commentary fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes "that which promotes Christ" in each pericope. Authors are sensitive to the rich treasury of language, imagery, and themes found throughout Scripture, including such dialectics as Law and Gospel, sin and grace, death and new life, folly and wisdom, demon possession and the arrival of the kingdom of God in Christ. Careful attention is given to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Further light is shed on the text from archaeology, history, and extra-biblical literature. Finally, Scripture's message is applied to the ongoing life of the church in terms of ministry, worship, proclamation of the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, confession of the faith—all in joyful anticipation of the life of the world to come.

View the entire series > 

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Now, Winger on Ephesians:



Ephesians is a veritable compendium of St. Paul's theology and a candidate for his most influential epistle. In it we learn of the reconciliation of the cosmos and our eternal election in Christ, as well as:

  • Salvation by grace through faith apart from works
  • The mystery of salvation also for the Gentiles
  • One Lord, one faith, one Baptism
  • The divine gift of the Holy Ministry
  • The Church as Christ's bride and body
  • The Christological meaning of marriage
  • The resplendent armor of God.

We today, no less than the Ephesians recently converted from their pagan lifestyle, need to appropriate these teachings because of the spiritual peril of the environment in which we live. Dr. Winger's commentary unfolds the mysteries of the Gospel by his meticulous analysis of the Greek text and his reverent exposition of the epistle's proclamation of Christ and His gifts for the sake of His Church.

About the Author

Thomas M. Winger is president of and a professor at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS), St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. He is also a graduate of that institution (M.Div., 1990), after having studied at Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Michigan (B.A., 1985), and Westfield House, Cambridge, England. He pursued graduate studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (S.T.M., 1992; Th.D., 1997).

Dr. Winger is the author of dozens of articles, many published in Lutheran Theological Review; the co-editor of three books; and a contributor to The Lutheran Study Bible. He has written studies for the theological commissions of Lutheran Church–Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE). He was a member of the liturgy committee of Lutheran Service Book and is currently writing for its companion to the liturgy. He was pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Catharines, a German-English congregation, for six years before being called as a tutor at Westfield House. After seven years of teaching at that theological training house of the ELCE, he returned to Canada and has been a professor at CLTS since 2006 and its president since 2012. (Publisher's Website)

More Paul. Thanks be to God! This time, Tom Winger blesses us with insights on Ephesians. 

The fruit of decades of work and study (xvi), I was thankful for the author's association with Feuerhahn and Nagel (xviii), a highlight/outline of the epistle (2), an insightful comparison of 16:20-24 and Didache 10:6 (12), a review of the strong case for Pauline authorship (25ff, e.g. 47), a figure (79) showing P46, clarity on Baptism (112ff), the letter's relationship to Colossians (130ff), and an extensive review and explanation of rhetoric (153ff, e.g. 155, 161-2, 210/passim). That's just the introductory material!

Allow me to pick highlights of the main commentary text:

  • The extended discussion of baptism (222ff), including: "He is baptized as the one who is already 'bearing the sins of the world...'"
  • Ephesians 2:1-10. The chiastic structure is remarkable (279, 298). See also 2:11-22 (309ff)
  • The Mystery of Paul's Apostolic Mandate: The Gospel of Christ for the Gentiles (354ff)
  • The clarity of the 4:11 "pastors and teachers" section (449) and rejection of the modern retranslation of 4:12 (458ff, especially 461, 464)
  • 5:21b-33 (598ff). Prepare for premarital and marital counseling, brothers!

I love it when a new Concordia Commentary arrives. It is a "banner day," for I know that I will use and cherish these volumes throughout the rest of my ministry. 

If shelf space is the issue for you, go with the LOGOS digital versions. If funds are the issue, prioritize great confessional Lutheran commentaries like this over lesser books. Please invest in these volumes of Concordia Commentary. They are highly recommended!

Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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