Luther Said it Too

I’ve maintained for some time now that if Lutherans would only plug into our Catechism (Small and Large) then we’d not feel a need to borrow from sources that are not so scripturally-based. Case in point: ponder these words from the Large Catechism on the Lord’s Prayer, Seventh Petition (Deliver us from evil). This is the translation from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, found on p. 422.

You see again how God wishes for us to pray to Him also for all the things that affect our bodily interests, so that we seek and expect help nowhere else except in Him. But He has put this matter last. For if we are to be preserved and delivered from all evil, God’s name must first be hallowed in us, His kingdom must be with us, and His will must be done. After that He will finally preserve us from sin and shame, and, besides, from everything that may hurt or harm us.

When someone says, “I’m not going to attend church or otherwise bother to conform my life to God’s will, because I don’t see where He has ever done me any good,” it’s the height of foolishness. Worse yet, someone may say, “I see that God has allowed all of these evils to befall me, and now you suggest that I should trust in Him?” That puts the cart before the horse.

The very order of petitions in the Lord’s Prayer teaches us what must come first: that God’s name should be hallowed, His kingdom come, and His will be done — all among us, personally. Daily bread (i.e. the needs of life on earth), forgiveness of sins, protection in temptation and deliverance from evil all come later in importance. Expecting God to invert the order is like expecting the sheriff in the next county over to respond to your 911 call. God will hear your prayer when you acknowledge that He is truly your Father by both creation and redemption.

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XV, paragraph 51

OK, OK! I’ll post it now!

While I was at synod convention, I was happily able to maintain my daily readings in the Lutheran Confessions by using the pocket edition of the new Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. I made a note to myself that I should post this paragraph from the Apology, because of its relevance to our growing synodical discussion about liturgy and “contemporary worship.”

Sitting at my desktop computer at home, I just consulted my lists of things to do, and found that note. Below it, I found a note to check out, though I don’t remember who mentioned it at convention. Always looking for the easier task, I fired up the web browser and typed in the address. What I saw there was part 6 of a series of blog posts excerpted from an essay by one of my more profoundly influential college professors, Daniel Deutschlander. The essay is on “The Western Rite,” which, for the uninitated, is the collection of liturgies customarily used by our churches.

I couldn’t resist. I meant to wait until I could print it out and read it on paper, but I started reading the full PDF version of that paper. What a weak fool I am. But at the bottom of the first page was a quotation from the Lutheran Confessions, which Deutschlander urges upon those who might like to chuck the Western Rite in favor of something of their own devising. Have you guessed it? Yes, it’s the Apology, Article XV, paragraph 51.

So having been amused by that long-winded introduction (that’s me, not necessarily you), I’ll urge you all the more to consider these words carefully. They are a part of what every Lutheran, by virtue of claiming that name, confesses to be true. Here’s the way it’s written in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions.

Still, we teach that freedom should be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended and, because of freedom’s abuse [Romans 14: 13-23], may not become more opposed to the true doctrine of the Gospel. Nothing in customary rites should be changed without a reasonable cause. So to nurture unity, old customs that can be kept without sin or great inconvenience should be kept. 52 In this very assembly we have shown well enough that for love’s sake we do not refuse to keep adiaphora with others, even though they may be burdensome. We have judged that such public unity, which could indeed be produced without offending consciences, should be preferred.

It’s admittedly subjective to judge what is a “great inconvenience.” If you have anything to write on the matter, please do so.

Some Practical Observations in the Apology

This refers to Matthew 19:29:

Christ does not mean that leaving parents, wife, and siblings is a work that must be done because it merits the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Indeed, such leaving is cursed. Anyone who leaves parents or wife to merit the forgiveness of sins or eternal life by this work dishonors Christ.

There are two kinds of leaving. One happens without a call, without God’s command, which Christ does not approve (Matthew 15:9). The works we choose are useless services. When Christ speaks about leaving wife and children, it becomes clear that He does not approve this kind of leaving. We know that God’s commandment forbids leaving wife and children. God’s command to leave is different, that is, when power or tyranny pushes us either to leave or to deny the Gospel. Here we are commanded to bear injury and should rather allow not only wealth, wife, and children, but life to be taken from us. Christ approves of this kind of leaving, and so He adds for the Gospel’s “sake.” He does so to illustrate that He is speaking not of those who injure wife and children, but who bear injury because of the confession of the Gospel.

(Apology Article XXVII, par. 40–41 — Concordia p. 243-244)

Doesn’t that call to mind the line from the older, TLH translation of A Mighty Fortress?

Also this (especially for Mary’s consideration, given her interest in past comments):

The division, control, and possession of property are civil ordinances, approved by God’s Word in the commandment “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

(Apology XXVII, par. 46, same page)

Notice the way this translation is worded here to relate these things to the seventh commandment, especially the word “approved.” Previously I’ve written something like “implied by.”


From the Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession, article V, paragraphs 113 and following. You can read the whole thing at the Book of Concord web site.

On the other hand, perfection, i. e the integrity of the Church, is preserved, when the strong bear with the weak, when the people take in good part some faults in the conduct of their teachers [have patience also with their preachers], when the bishops make some allowances for the weakness of the people [know how to exercise forbearance to the people, according to circumstances, with respect to all kinds of weaknesses and faults]. 114] Of these precepts of equity the books of all the wise are full, namely, that in every-day life we should make many allowances mutually for the sake of common tranquillity. And of this Paul frequently teaches both here and elsewhere. Wherefore the adversaries argue indiscreetly from. the term “perfection” that love justifies, while Paul speaks of common integrity and tranquillity. And thus Ambrose interprets this passage: Just as a building is said to be perfect or entire when all its parts are fitly joined together with one another. 115] Moreover, it is disgraceful for the adversaries to preach so much concerning love while they nowhere exhibit it. What are they now doing? They are rending asunder churches, they are writing laws in blood, and are proposing to the most clement prince, the Emperor, that these should be promulgated; they are slaughtering priests and other good men, if any one have [even] slightly intimated that he does not entirely approve some manifest abuse. [They wish all dead who say a single word against their godless doctrine.] These things are not consistent with those declamations of love, which if the adversaries would follow, the churches would be tranquil and the state have peace. For these tumults would be quieted if the adversaries would not insist with too much bitterness [from sheer vengeful spite and pharisaical envy, against the truth which they have perceived] upon certain traditions, useless for godliness, most of which not even those very persons observe who most earnestly defend them. But they easily forgive themselves, and yet do not likewise forgive others according to the passage in the poet: I forgive myself, Maevius said. 116] But this is very far distant from those encomiums of love which they here recite from Paul, nor do they understand the word any more than the walls which give it back. 117] From Peter they cite also this sentence, 1 Pet. 4:8: Charity shall cover the multitude of sins. It is evident that also Peter speaks of love towards one’s neighbor, because he joins this passage to the precept by which he commands that they should love one another. Neither could it have come into the mind of any apostle that our love overcomes sin and death; that love is the propitiation on account of which to the exclusion of Christ as Mediator, God is reconciled; that love is righteousness without Christ as Mediator. For this love, if there would be any, would be a righteousness of the Law, and not of the Gospel, which promises to us reconciliation and righteousness if we believe that, for the sake of Christ as Propitiator, the Father has been reconciled, and that the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us. 118] Peter, accordingly, urges us, a little before, to come to Christ that we may be built upon Christ. And he adds, 1 Pet. 2:4-6: He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. When God judges and convicts us, our love does not free us from confusion [from our works and lives, we truly suffer shame]. But faith in Christ liberates us in these fears, because we know that for Christ’s sake we are forgiven.

119] Besides, this sentence concerning love is derived from Prov. 10:12, where the antithesis clearly shows how it ought to be understood: Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all sins. 120] It teaches precisely the same thing as that passage of Paul taken from Colossians, that if any dissensions would occur they should be moderated and settled by our equitable and lenient conduct. Dissensions, it says, increase by means of hatred, as we often see that from the most trifling offenses tragedies arise [from the smallest sparks a great conflagration arises]. Certain trifling offenses occurred between Caius Caesar and Pompey, in which, if the one had yielded a very little to the other, civil war would not have arisen. But while each indulged his own hatred, from a matter of no account the greatest commotions arose. 121] And many heresies have arisen in the Church only from the hatred of the teachers. Therefore it does not refer to a person’s own faults, but to the faults of others, when it says: Charity covereth sins, namely, those of others, and that, too, among men, i.e., even though these offenses occur, yet love overlooks them, forgives, yields, and does not carry all things to the extremity of justice. Peter, therefore, does not mean that love merits in God’s sight the remission of sins, that it is a propitiation to the exclusion of Christ as Mediator, that it regenerates and justifies, but that it is not morose, harsh, intractable towards men, that it overlooks some mistakes of its friends, that it takes in good part even the harsher manners of others, just as the well-known maxim enjoins: Know, but do not hate, the manners of a friend. 122] Nor was it without design that the apostle taught so frequently concerning this office what the philosophers call ejpieivkeian, leniency. For this virtue is necessary for retaining public harmony [in the Church and the civil government], which cannot last unless pastors and Churches mutually overlook and pardon many things [if they want to be extremely particular about every defect, and do not allow many things to flow by without noticing them]

Magic, Means, and Mystery

What is happening when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper? Is Jesus inviting us to His table, to dine upon food that He’s providing, or do we initiate the meal ourselves, retracing important events of that evening as a reminder to ourselves of what we intend to do? Are the powers involved in the Lord’s Supper comprehensible by the human mind, or are they beyond us? Who is really bringing the word to the element, and when does this happen?

A number of fellow ELS pastors and I have been troubled by certain practices and the underlying doctrine that we have observed among conservative Lutherans. Instead of arguing about what has been said or done, I’d like to have a discussion about the doctrine, as we find it originally in holy scripture and also in our Lutheran confessions.

Continue reading “Magic, Means, and Mystery”

Concordia, Second Edition

Ah, they arrived today. I wondered if CPH would remember my order from some time last summer. They did.

Two copies of the second edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. They are wonderful. Now I have a copy to read at both churches and at home.

Now, I thought the first edition was good, and I hope CPH didn’t lose track of me as a purchaser. It’s possible my copy was part of a group order for members at Grace, so I may have to request that the “update” materials be sent to my new address. But at least I already have the second edition to enjoy.

I’ve read some of the introductory material. Two thumbs up so far. The timeline will be more fun to read than you might think. I noticed something about the first known batch of scotch made in Scotland. That was included only for reference and interest, I’m sure. It scores both ways.

What I’d really like to do is dive into the 52-week, daily reading schedule. It’s really just Monday through Friday, not daily. That leaves me with extra time to write blog posts about the week’s readings. I intend to do that on the church blog, Confession and Life so that the posts might be used in our printed newsletter too. I will welcome comments and cross-blog chatter on these topics. If anyone else would like to join in on the same reading schedule (beginning Monday), it could be the basis for some good doctrinal discussion.