Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present is an unique volume. I have not seen anything like it except Volume 53 of the American Edition of Luther's Works (Liturgy and Hymns. J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.) or Robert Webber's Complete Library of Christian Worship, Volume II, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship. Neither of those resources is as compact or comprehensive as that before us by editors Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey. Webber has fewer examples of Reformation liturgies and they are often outlines or excerpts. The translation of LW 53 is often at issue.
Martin Luther is the author featured in RW Chapter 4 (Form of the Mass, 1523; German Mass 1526). Luther's liturgical reform is conservative. He retains what may be done without sin. He highlights both the hearing and preaching of the Word (115-121) and the Sacrament of the Altar (e.g., 124-5). He removes the canon of the Mass and the invocation of the saints. His focus was Christ. Matthias Mangold (xxxivff) provides a new translation of Luther's German Mass and Michael Hunter freshly translates Luther's Form of the Mass (xxxvi). That this was done is commendable, and reminiscent of a proposed "new" edition of AELW 53 for which donations were solicited through the Good Shepherd Institute of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne years ago. (I am told that this may still be in the works. While we Lutherans wait, we have RW as well as https://www.cph.org/p-6291-Martin-Luther-Hymns-Ballads-Chants-Truth-CD.aspx and https://www.cph.org/p-30634-the-hymns-of-martin-luther.aspx).
RW is a great service to Lutherans like me and our readers, a chance to double-check the 1965-published translations of the 1523 by Paul Zeller Strodach (revised by Ulrich S. Leupold) and the 1526 by Augustus Steimle (also revised by Ulrich S. Leupold). Additionally, musical notation for the 1526 German Mass was done by Joseph Waggoner (xxxvi).
LCMS Lutherans used to The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, or Lutheran Service Book will immediately see the connection between what congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have as liturgies in the hymnals in their pew racks and what Luther intended. If it were possible for Luther himself to visit us on a Sunday morning, he would note much that would be familiar to him.
Robert Kolb is thanked in the Acknowledgements (xxix) "for feedback on the historical introductions" to Luther's liturgies.
The other liturgies contained in the volume are more Calvinist/Reformed and therefore of less interested to Lutherans. One will note changes in the Book of Common Prayer (for a variety of reasons) between 1549 and 1552 (342) even before the more significant changes of 1559 (the infamous "black rubric," outside the scope of this book).
LBR asks "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?". Having Martin Luther's two main works of liturgical reform in a 2018 translation is alone reason for our readers (largely Lutheran pastors, musicians, and confessional laypeople) to purchase, use, and treasure this book.
The authors would have Christians today be more intentional about how they worship when they do. "Our greatest need is for worship in Spirit as well as in truth today. But the liturgies here should stimulate us to careful thought, and cause us to ask how we can apply their principles today in a way that echoes their Trinitarian, Christ-centered, biblically informed content, so that our worship, in our place and time, will echo the gospel content and rhythm they exhibit" (xix). Elsewhere they state, "The argument of this book on Reformation worship is irenic. The liturgies collated and presented here are a subtle encouragement for the modern church to reflect critically on how she worships today" (48).
Yes, purchase this book! Save up for it if you need to, but invest in Reformation Worship from New Growth Press.
In the nine months I've lived with Carl Beckwith's Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics volume on The Holy Trinity, my appreciation of the volume has grown. I am thankful that more volumes of this series are soon to be completed and available. I am thankful to have a dogmatics series that is "based on the outline and thought pattern of the Lutheran Confessions. I am also thankful for authors who take the Scriptures seriously as God's Word.
Modernity (1, passim) is a challenge to the confession of the Church. We begin not with a natural knowledge of God or human opinion, but with God's own Word. What Christians confess is grounded in that certainty. The national motto, "In God We Trust," deserves a follow-up question, "Which one?" Unionism and syncretism are grounded in uncertainty. Confessional Lutheran Christians emphasize "God's revelation of Himself in Christ—'All other ground is sinking sand' (TLH 370)" (40). Amen to that!
Quotable sermon fodder: "If you find that you cannot talk about the Trinity without also talking about baptism, then you will be at home in the thought world of the Fathers and the Lutheran reformers. If you find that you can talk about the Trinity without even mentioning your baptism, then you will be at home in the thought world of the schoolmen" (44 note 11).
Page 64 is rich in quotes. Sasse: " There is, thank God, no specific Lutheran doctrine on the Trinity." "Assigning positive value to a knowledge of God apart from Christ and His cross belongs to scholasticism, not Lutheranism." Schlink: "the doctrine of the Trinity is the basis for all statements of the Lutheran Confessions." Luther: "Therefore he who wants to ascend advantageously to the love and knowledge of God should abandon the human metaphysical rules concerning the knowledge of the divinity and apply himself first to the humanity of Christ. For it is exceedingly godless temerity that, where God has humiliated Himself in order to become recognizable, man seeks for himself another way by following the counsels of his own natural capacity."
What is the Lutheran approach to the Trinity? Beckwith asserts: Luther was not a systematic theologian. He did not order his theology according to the norms of his day. He offers no doctrine of God apart from the Trinity. He does not start with the natural knowledge and then proceed to revealed knowledge. It is of no use for a person a "to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he also recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross." Talk of God's power and glory requires talk of God's weakness on the cross. Such talk makes sense only to the person of faith, to the one justified by God and clothed in the righteousness of Christ. God and faith always belong together for Luther (71).
At Heidelberg, Luther identified two kinds of theologians, the theologian of the cross and the theologian of glory. "The theolgus crucis speaks according to God's self communication in Jesus Christ, which means that God's revelation sets the terms for the discussion—both its possibility and its limits" (90). To better understand why some blame Luther for the evils of modernity, read the Conclusion to Part One (110ff).
Part Two "demonstrates the scriptural identity of the Trinity" (113). "According to the Fathers and the reformers, if we wish to know God, to speak properly about Him and His work on our behalf, we must look to the Scriptures and faithfully expound them" (117). Scholarship and piety find common cause in citing Luther's Psalm 130 hymn: "Though great our sins and sore our woes, His grace much more aboundeth; His helping love no limit knows, Our utmost need it soundeth. Our Shepherd good and true is He, Who will at last His Israel free From all their sin and sorrow" (137, TLH 329:5).
A full discussion of the Trinity includes theophanies: The Angel of YHWH (143ff). How did the Magi know the Christ child? Read note 7 on page 173 for insights from Gerhard, Chemnitz, and Luther. None of the three allowed for natural knowledge alone. Similarly, the conclusion to Chapter 8 on Father and Son points us to the Word: In this chapter we focused on the more dogmatic and precise presentations of Christ's identity. These texts, like those in the previous chapter, place Christ at the center of our confession of God's scriptural identity. We know the Father only through the Son; we know the Son by the Holy Spirit, whom both the father and the Son send to us. Moreover, the texts in this chapter emphasize again the necessity of the Old Testament for our understanding of the person and work of Christ. God alone determines His identity, and this He providentially preserves for us in His Scriptures. Finally, the New Testament makes clear that God's identity is fully revealed at the cross. It is at this very point that we come to know the glory of God in the crucified Christ, seeing our reconciliation with the Father through the saving work of the Son. This we know, confess, sing, and pray by the power of the Holy Spirit" (216-7).
The baptismal formula is discussed (225ff) in the same chapter on The Holy Spirit that the author takes to task those who would deny the Trinity as biblical (see 241ff). The filioque gets its turn in chapter 11, particularly 248 within 245ff. Would Eastern Orthodoxy object to John 16:7 for the Son's "sending" of the Spirit?
Part three sets for a simple rule: "Scripture both warrants and determines the church's talk about God" (267). The filioque returns on page 297 as Lutheran dogmaticians conclude that distinguishing the persons of the Trinity has to do with the order of the persons and their eternal relationship to one another.
For a lengthy discussion of Augusitine's rule (323) and the Lutheran addendum (328), see the whole of chapters 14 and 15.
The author concludes his volume with this reflection on modernism and our confession: We live in a world that has a lot to say about God. We have shown throughout this book that whatever a person says about God bears directly on what that person thinks about himself and the world around him. This means at the very least that any discussion of the Trinity involves a whole lot more than a single article of faith. Scripture makes this clear by correlating right knowledge of God with both worship and ethics. Trinity, gospel, worship, and ethics all belong together. We are mistaken if we think that debates on worship and ethics have no bearing on the gospel and the Trinity. Gregory of Nyssa, like Basil, argued that our confession of the Trinity proceeds from our baptismal faith. This faith, Gregory further insisted, mirrors our worship. "It is not natural that worship make war against faith, but as we believe, so we give glory. Now since our faith is in Father and Son and Holy Spirit, faith, worship, and baptism accord with each other" (364, italics in original).
Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics does not order its theology according to the norms of today. The volumes of the set so far acknowledge the challenges of other confessions and those who doubt God's Word. The timeless outline and though pattern of the Lutheran Confessions provide a framework for confessing the faith anew. Seven volumes are in print. Only six more to go!
I've been editing a book review journal since December of 2004, served as Headmaster of a classical Lutheran school since April 2009, and yet, there is still something intimidating about Classics. Cicero? Yeah, I had heard "of" him. The way my education was shaped (unlike that of Carl P. E. Springer, cf. Preface; loss of Latin=loss of Cicero, xviii) deprived me of reading much of Cicero at all. This title, of interest to classicists, Lutheran pastors, classical Lutheran educators and home school families, will be of help in reclaiming this Roman rhetor.
Cicero in Heavenis less about the status of Marcus Tullius "Tully" Cicero within the Christian afterlife (though there is some reference to this on 83) and more about the use of Cicero's words, example, and techniques by Martin Luther (57, passim), Phillip Melanchthon (122ff), Johann Sturm (146ff), Johann Sebastian Bach (164ff), and others using existing English translations (Prolegomena, xviii, note 26). Did you know that "Cicero's works were among the first books to be printed, after the Bible" (41)?
Springer notes "a strong, historic tendency within Christianity to oppose the kind of careful, trained eloquence associated with Cicero's name" (1; ). Yet, "A prominent teacher of rhetoric, eventually appointed advisor to Constantine, Lactantius was called Cicero Christianus by Pico della Mirandola because of the graceful elegance of his style, although some of his theological positions were deemed unorthodox" (24). In contrast to an oration in the style of Cicero, the more common Christian practice was a more informal homily. Consider: "Augustine himself preached frequently, without extensive notes, and sometimes even without the biblical text before him" (28).
"The church, as Luther described it, is…(not a "pen-house," but a "mouth-house"), because it is through speaking to each other in 'psalms and hymns and spiritual songs', that the most important work of the church is done, whether it be in the form of praying, teaching, preaching, confession, or worship" (36). Luther knew and appreciated the five traditional categories of rhetoric (inventio, disposition, elocutio, memoria, and pronuntatio; 67). "Luther's style [in Freedom of a Christian] is certainly closer to the hypotactic, periodic style of Cicero's prose than to the clipped sentences and paratactic diction of the Vulgate with which he was so familiar" (72).
Cicero was an influence on the American founders (175ff; as well as Christianity, 247) and many Lutherans in America (181ff), especially C. F. W. Walther, Johann Michael Reu, and Wilhelm Loehe. The latter's book The Pastor mentions rhetoric as important in the essay lead-in to Part Two by a contemporary of Luther. This kind of rhetoric deserves to be restored to a place within seminary preaching courses.
I found the discussion of parrhesia fascinating (89ff), particularly the connection between the word meaning "speaking everything" (95) and how Springer traces it linguistically to the Latin words licentia and fiducia ("confidence," 99) to confession at the time of the Reformation and its connection to the Augsburg Confession (100).
Springer introduces his readers to other topics familiar to his likely readers, including the trivium (112) and the establishment of Christian academic institutions (117ff). Melanchton lectured on Cicero (131ff) and referenced him in his textbooks (134-5), including two books on rhetoric (available on Google Books). "Melanchthon divided the ideal sermon, like an oration, into familiar components: 'exordium, narration, proposition, division into parts, confirmation, refutation, and peroration'" (139 note 98).
Written and delivered from memory or delivered from an outline or notes? See Reu's answer on 186.
I ask the author and my fellow readers: Whether written down or delivered with minimal notes, why could preachers today not use the same outline for a Lutheran sermon?
Not all were fans, advocates, or practitioners of Cicero's rhetoric ("Cicero in Hell, 221ff). Why? "Latin began now often to be identified closely with Catholicism" (189) and Cicero with it. "Romantic disregard for imitation and the privileging of originality and poetic genius…" (222). Luther's own references to Cicero were not all positive, as the last chapter demonstrates again and again. Lutheran theology has much greater comfort (and delight) with paradox than Cicero (200-1). Matthias Flacius Illyricus was "one of the main contributors to the anti-Ciceronian movement" (209).
There is much history of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod here (e.g. 240-242).
After reading Cicero in Heaven, I am now convinced that I am the book's intended audience. That gives me much joy. I've been working my way through the Cicero volumes of the Loeb Classical Library while also reading the Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris (250). Also, in a paragraph that "depends heavily on Korcok, Lutheran Education" we read:
The accreditation of my school was recently renewed by Visitors from the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education. I am a permanent member of that group's Board of Directors. The folks of Wittenberg Academy are among my friends.
I highly recommend this book, even understanding its significant cost.
As I write this review, there are no remaining books to read for review at the former location of my "review book pile." There is the possibility of some commentaries and books of Lutheran interest on the horizon. Our goal is to rapidly read, consider, and review any titles as they arrive.