Monday, February 23, 2015

FW: Helps for the Reading Lutheran Layperson



Feed: Steadfast Lutherans »
Posted on: Monday, February 23, 2015 7:16 AM
Author: T. R. Halvorson
Subject: Helps for the Reading Lutheran Layperson


A good friend suffered a heart attack. His doctor prescribed a treadmill to strengthen his heart and taught him about healthy diet. One evening when I visited, my friend took me to his basement to show me the treadmill. He got me on it and started putting the machine through its paces to show me its features. He explained why this kind of walking is necessary for our hearts, even though as farmers, we already do a lot of walking. Our regular walking is not the right kind for heart strength (too intermittent). While he was killing me in the paces, he explained how to read the "Nutrition Facts" panel on groceries as it relates to our hearts.nutrition-facts

It is crazy what's in a serving of Oreo cookies or those coconut frosted miniature donuts that I like. Canned soup? I quit it because of the salt. The problem is not just with junk food. All kinds of prepared or packaged foods are less heart healthy then we think.

Too bad there is no "Nutrition Facts" panel on what passes for Christian books and articles. What are the ingredients of those doing to our hearts? They have their own kinds of saturated fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol. Even though it may be selling like hotcakes in the nearby Christian bookstore, a book might be no better for us than Cheetos or Twinkies, wrapped in bacon, and deep fried. (Sorry that I spoke ill of bacon.)

At least with food, making the shopping adjustment is not so difficult. You know where the fresh fruits and vegetables are in your usual grocery store. But in that nearby Christian bookstore, which is the aisle for you, the aisle for heart health? It's not that there are no worthwhile books there, but they are few, and wow, the sifting process!

Where is the good Lutheran aisle? It's not in the store down the street. We have to make special trips, but to where? The first problems are what to read and where to get it.

As we discover answers to those questions, we find that we often will need to read the materials in electronic form. That happens either because of lower cost, convenience, or our preference for e-reading. More often than we might have expected, a writing that we desire to read is readily available to us only in one of many electronic formats. This raises a number of additional questions. Where to find electronic books and texts, and how to manage them once we have them.

This article addresses a number of these problems. Provided here are:

  • Suggested reading list at levels: beginning, intermediate, and further on.
  • List of Lutheran book publishers.
  • List of Lutheran journals and periodicals.
  • List of sources of Lutheran PDFs and texts.
  • Recommended e-book reading and management application.
  • Recommended PDF reader.
  • List of online bookstores and repositories of e-books, PDFs, and texts.
  • List of search engines for e-books, PDFs, and texts.


Version 1.0 — Suggestions

This article definitely is only a version 1.0 effort. I welcome suggestions for additions, changed URLs, and other updates and improvements. Please use the comment box below, which will benefit everyone immediately, and cause an email to be sent to me so I can incorporate improvements.


Suggested Reading List for the Lutheran Layperson



  • The Lutheran Study Bible, ed., Edward A. Engelbrecht, Concordia Publishing House, 2009.
  • Lutheran Bible Companion, 2 vols, ed. Edward A. Engelbrecht, Concordia Publishing House, 2014.
  • Small Catechism
  • Augsburg Confession: the Concordia Readers Edition, Concordia Publishing House, 2013.
  • Didache, John T. Pless, Emmanuel Press, 2013.
  • Lutheranism 101, Scot A. Kinnaman, ed., Concordia Publishing House, 2010
  • Why I Am a Lutheran, Daniel Preus, Concordia Publishing House, 2004.
  • Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals, rev. ed., Gene Edward Veith, Jr., Concordia Publishing House, 2010.
  • Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. & ed. Theodore G. Tappert, Regent College Publishing, 2003.
  • Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., trans. John Nicholas Lenker et al., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Baker Book House, 1983.
  • The Sufferings of Jesus Christ for Sinners: A Series of Sermons Delivered by Martin Luther, ed. Chris Rosenbrough, Pirate Christian Media, 2011.
  • Jesus Remember Me: Words of Assurance from Martin Luther, Augsburg Fortress, 1998.
  • What is Marriage, Really?, Martin Luther, trans. Holger Sonntag, Lutheran Press, 2013.
  • The Marriage Ring, Martin Luther, trans. J. Sheatsley, The Book Tree, 2003.
  • Sacred Meditations, Johann Gerhard, trans. Wade R. Johnston,       Magdeburg Press, 2011.
  • Meditations on Divine Mercy, Johann Gerhard, trans. Matthew C. Harrison, Concordia Publishing House, 2003.
  • Handbook of Consolations (for the Fears and Trials that Oppress Us in the Struggle with Death), Johann Gerhard, trans. Carl L. Beckwith, Wipf & Stock, 2009.
  • Divine Service: Delivering Forgiveness of Sins, John T. Pless, presented at the South Dakota District Lay/Clergy Conferences, Rapid City, SD May 6, 1995, Sioux Falls, SD May 7, 1995. (online here)
  • Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible , Jonathan M. Fisk, Concordia Publishing House, 2012.
  • God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life, Gene Edward Veith, Jr., Crossway Books, 2002.
  • The Hammer of God, rev. ed., Bo Giertz, trans Clifford Ansgar Nelson and Hans Andrae, Augsburg Fortress, 2005.



  • Small Catechsim
  • Luther's Large Catechism with Study Questions, ed. Paul T. McCain, Concordia Publishing House, 2010.
  • Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Readers Edition of the Book of Concord, 2nd ed., ed. Paul Timothy McCain, Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
  • The Lutheran Difference: An Explanation & Comparison of Christian Beliefs, Edward, Engelbrecht, ed., Concordia Publishing House, 2010.
  • Handling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today. John T. Pless, Concordia Publishing House, 2004.
  • Law and Gospel: How To Read and Apply the Bible, Carl F. W. Walther, trans. Christian C. Tiews, ed. Charles P. Schaum, Concordia Publishing House, 2010.
  • The Conservative Reformation and its Theology, Charles Porterfiedl Krauth, reprint edition, Augsburg Publishing House, 1978.
  • Christian Dogmatics, John Theodore Mueller, Concordia Publishing House, 1934.
  • Martin Luther Confessor of the Faith, Robert Kolb, Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • The Cruelty of Heresy: An Affirmation of Christian Orthodoxy, C. FitzSimons Allison, Moorehouse Publishing, 1994.
  • We Confess Anthology, Hermann Sasse, Concordia Publishing House, 2003.
  • Luther's Theology of the Cross, Herman Sasse, trans. Arnold J. Koelpin, from "Briefe an lutherische Pastoren," nr. 18, October 1951. (online here)
  • Liturgy and Spiritual Awakening, Bo Harald Giertz, Augustana Book Concern, 1954. (Another translation online here and online here)
  • Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service, Arthur A. Just, Concordia Publishing House, 2008.
  • Christology, David P. Scaer, The International Foundation for Lutheran Confessional Research, 1989.
  • Baptism, David P. Scaer, Luther Academy, 1999.
  • Law and Gospel and the Means of Grace, David P. Scaer, Luther Academy, 2008.
  • The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters, vols. 1 & 2, Hermann Sasse, Concordia Publishing House, 2001, 2003.
  • Luther on Worship, an Interpretation, Vilmos Vajta, Muhlenberg Press, 1958.
  • Eating God's Sacrifice: The Lord's Supper Portrayed in Old Testament Sacrifice, Daniel Brege, IN: D.J. Brege, 2009. (Lulu)
  • This Is My Body: Luther's Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, rev. ed., Hermann Sasse, Concordia Publishing House, 2003.
  • The Gift of Communion; Luther's Controversy with Rome on Eucharistic Sacrifice, Carl Fredrik Wisløff, Augsburg Publishing House, 1964.
  • Reclaiming the Lutheran Liturgical Heritage, Oliver K. Olson, ReClaim Resources, 2007.
  • "The Authority of Scripture," Norman Nagel, Concordia Theological Monthly, vol 27, no. 9, September 1956, pp. 693-701. (online here and online here)
  • That I Might Be His Own: An Overview of Luther's Catechisms, Charles P. Arand, Concordia Academic Press, 2000.
  • Martin Luther's Catechisms: Forming the Faith, Timothy J. Wengert, Fortress Press, 2009.


Further On

  • Small Catechism
  • Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Readers Edition of the Book of Concord, 2nd ed., ed. Paul Timothy McCain, Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
  • Christian Dogmatics, 4 vols, Francis Pieper, Concordia Publishing House, 1950.
  • Doctrinal Theology of the Lutheran Church, Heinrich Schmid, trans. Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, reprint edition, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961.
  • Theology of the Lutheran Confessions, Edmund Schlink, Trans. Paul F. Koehneke and Herbert J. A. Bouman, Concordia Publishing House, 1961.
  • Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther, trans, J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, Baker Academic, 2012.
  • Luther's Theology of the Cross, Walther von Loewenich, trans. Herbert J. A. Bouman, Augsburg Publishing House, 1976.
  • Commentaries on Luther's Catechisms, 5 vols, Albrecht Peters, trans. Thomas H. Trapp, Concordia Publishing House, 2012.
  • Lutheran Theology, Steven D. Paulson, T & T Clark International, 2011.
  • The Fire and the Staff: Lutheran Theology in Practice, Klemet I. Preus, Concordia Publishing House, 2004.
  • "Herman Sasse and the Liturgical Movement," John T. Pless, Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology VII.2 (1998): 47-51. (online here)
  • "Liturgy and Evangelism in the Service of the Mysteria Dei," Mysteria Dei: Essays in Honor of Kurt Marquart, eds. Paul T. McCain and John R. Stephenson, Concordia Theological Seminary Press, (1999), 233-34. (online here)
  • Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, Werner Elert, trans. Norman Nagel, Concordia Publishing House, 1966.
  • The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to Contemporary Culture, Bryan D. Spinks, SPCK Publishing, 2010.
  • Luther on Vocation, Gustav Wingren, ed. Carl C. Rassmussen, Wipf & Stock, 2004.
  • The Two Natures in Christ, Martin Chemnitz, trans. J. A. O. Preus, Concordia Publishing House, 1970.


Lutheran Book Publishers

Concordia Publishing House

Concordia Theological Seminary Bookstore

Emmanuel Press

Luther Academy Books (via Logia)

Lutheran Press

Lutheran University Press

Magdeburg Press

Mark V Publications

Northwestern Publishing House

Repristination Press

Sola Publishing


Lutheran Journals and Periodicals

Around the Word

CLC Journal of Theology Archive

Concordia Journal

Concordia Theological Quarterly

For the Life of the World

Gottesdienst: The Journal of Lutheran Liturgy

Issues, Etc. Journal

Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology

Lutheran Quarterly

The Canadian Lutheran


Lutheran PDFs and Texts

Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne Media Resources

Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Way Index of PDFs

John W. Kleinig Resources

LCMS Document Library

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File


Calibre – A Fabulous E-reader Application
Foxit Reader – A Better PDF Reader

You may be happy with your dedicated e-reader device: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or another. If so, you might never need to know about e-reader applications. But there are reasons for such applications, and for many people, such an application is a must.

What are some of the reasons?e-Reader and coffee on a table

  • You want to read on your computer or phone, be it desktop, laptop, notebook, or table.
  • You want to carry your tablet computer, but then you'd be carrying two devices if you also carry your dedicated e-reader.
  • You found a document you want to read, but it is in a format your e-reader device does not support. There are dozens of formats of e-books and texts.
  • You want control over where your book files are stored for any one of a number of reasons, including to save space on your device's or tablet's internal storage, and your e-reader device either does not allow that, or makes it very difficult to discover how to do it.
  • You want to be able to do other things with some of your e-books, PDFs, or texts in addition to reading them, such as editing the metadata (author, publisher, year of publication, etc. so their entries in your library listing are more useful).


Some of the producers of dedicated e-reader devices provide free computer applications, such as the Kindle application for Amazon Kindle-formatted books, and Nook Reading for Barnes & Noble Nook-formatted books. These might not support the format of a document you want to read, or their features might be poor. For example, the Kindle application that runs on Windows 8 Metro has not been well received, and Windows 8 tablet users have moved toward running in Desktop mode with the Windows 7 version of the Kindle app.

Consequently, the software industry has produced dozens of independent e-reader applications. There are many good and very good ones. One fabulous e-reader application is Calibre.

Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It runs on Windows, OS X, Linux, and portably such as on jump drive. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:

  • Comprehensive e-book viewer
  • Syncing to e-book reader devices
  • Content server for online access to your book collection
  • Library Management
  • E-book conversion
  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
  • E-book editor for the major e-book formats


Besides that, Calibre has a built in feature called Get Books that helps you search for e-books online. It searches, at this writing, 45 stores and repositories. While researching the historic Lutheran liturgy, I found many out-of-print books by Lutheran authors in PDF format through this feature, and easily loaded them into Calibre.

Bookshelf in tablet computerFor certain formats such as PDF, Calibre may call an external viewer, such as Adobe Reader. But I recommend getting Foxit Reader. Foxit Reader is richly featured, yet lightweight, and portable. When you install it, let it set itself as the default PDF reader. Then, when you choose in Calibre to read a document in PDF format, the document automatically will open in Foxit.

Calibre has a very large user base. Many favorable reviews have been written about it. You would have no trouble finding some by searching the Internet. See for example, Calibre: Hands-Down, The Best eBook Manager Available. But perhaps the best way to get an idea about whether you want to try it is to watch the Grand Tour Video on the Calibre website. Give it a fair try, and I'll bet you will feel you want to make a voluntary contribution to its developers, as I did.


Online Bookstores and Repositories of E-books, PDFs, and Texts

These bookstores and repositories are not specifically Lutheran, but contain many valuable Lutheran e-books and texts.


Barnes & Noble



Christian Classics Ethereal Library




Google Books

Internet Achive eBooks and Texts

ITunes US (books)


Library BIN



Open Library

Project Gutenberg

Read Print



Search Engines for E-books, PDFs, and Texts

Digital Book Index


E-Books Directory

Good Reads





PDF Search Engine

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Monday, January 26, 2015

FW: Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS



Feed: Witness, Mercy, Life Together.
Posted on: Monday, January 26, 2015 3:03 PM
Subject: Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS


When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no  intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.

Matt Harrison

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FW: Why I Will No Longer Be Updating the Hymns Movement Page

Hymnody Resurgent…


Feed: Zac Hicks Blog
Posted on: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:57 AM
Author: Zac Hicks
Subject: Why I Will No Longer Be Updating the Hymns Movement Page


When Strivings Cease

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I must cease my striving. When this blog began almost six years ago, one of its primary objectives was to herald, champion, promote, persuade, propagandize, coerce, ramrod the burgeoning retuned hymns movement. In addition to retuning hymns myself, especially on my first (The Glad Sound [2009]) and second (Without Our Aid [2011]) albums with Cherry Creek Worship, I wanted to highlight all the church musicians and independent artists who were taking seriously the movement to re-gift old hymns to new believers.

Along with others, I wanted to help turn the tide of contemporary/modern worship by undertaking the massive project of backfilling its gaping holes with the songs of the past. I consulted and networked with inspirational forerunners like Indelible Grace and Red Mountain Music, and I discovered some new partners in the vision, who would over time become great friends--Cardiphonia, Sojourn, and others. 

So I launched a page that would chronicle the movement by cataloguing the artists and pointing to their work. As I heard about more projects, and as they found my home base, the list increased, and I watched before my very eyes the spread of this movement to more and more places in the United States.

The Propaganda Campaign

At the same time, I began a concerted propaganda campaign to highlight these churches and artists and observe the "infiltration" of the vision in the contemporary/modern worship mainstream.  The following highlights track some of that campaign throughout the years (notice I hit the gas hard in 2010-2011). Just glance through the titles to get a glimpse of what we were thinking and doing:

The Effect

Somewhere along the way, as the conversation widened and the rehymning multiplied, I think we can say that this became a bona fide movement. The artists and churches became more aware of each other, and as networking possibilities increased through the saturation of Facebook and Twitter, conversations led to collaborations, and influence multiplied. With this spread came a diversification of styles, too. Retuned hymns went beyond the Southern, country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana roots of Indelible Grace and Red Mountain into the new waters of funk, blues, indie rock, pop, gospel, EDM, and experimental. In other words, the hymns began to take on more indigenous clothing as they were retuned in the accompaniment of their local contexts and influences.

Why I'm Shutting It Down, and a Vision Forward

As you can see, the retuned hymns movement is at the point where I simply can't keep up. If it is to be chronicled and catalogued, it's going to take efforts (and probably algorithms) that I don't have the bandwidth to generate. Thankfully, though I can't share much now, I know some people who are in the middle of a kind of cataloguing project and I'd ask you all to pray for its success. 

I'll no longer be updating the hymns movement page, but I will leave it there in the meantime as a kind of mile-marker and time capsule. 

The retuned hymns movement was never a be all and end all. There are deficits to the church's worship if all we do is recover a previous generation's hymns to the exclusion of the "new song" of other generations/cultures and our own. (I point out one of those deficits in a post about traditional worship here.) I gave heavy influence early on because I felt that a thick injection of hymnody would serve as a kind of "gateway drug" to other important worship reforms and correctives: historical connectivity, theological depth, gospel-centeredness, thoughtful cultural engagement--things that this blog is deeply committed to. I still believe that this strategy is an effective one at the local level, so if you're a worship leader whose church doesn't sing many songs except those of the present, I'd encourage you to slowly incorporate some historic hymns (retuned or restyled to suit your context) to begin broadening the doxological appetites and sensibilities of your flock.

I'm grateful that the retuned movement is at this point, and I cheer on its continued growth. Recovery and retrieval of this sort can only be a good thing. In fact, throughout history, recovery and retrieval were at the heart of every reform-movement of God's people, from Bible times down to the present. So, let's keep digging up these old gems, polishing them off, and casting them in new settings and display cases for the sake of Christ and His Bride!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

FW: Things You May Not Know About Bible Paper



Feed: Crossway Blog
Posted on: Thursday, November 13, 2014 8:13 AM
Author: Lizzy Jeffers
Subject: Things You May Not Know About Bible Paper


What's the Big Deal?

A few weeks ago we posted a crash course on Bible cover materials, and now we turn our attention to the interior of the Bible.

You may have seen buzzwords like "opacity," "PPI," "ghosting," or "readability" flying around the internet, especially when it comes to "high-quality Bible paper." So what's the big deal? It's just paper, right?

The production of Bible paper is so technical that only a handful of companies in the world make it. The average ESV Bible, without any extra study content, has more than 700,000 words, and the ESV Study Bible has over 2.2 million words! Arranging this much content in an organized, cohesive, and readable way is a remarkable feat in and of itself. Then there's printing everything on paper—a challenge that can only be described as a lesson in paradoxes and chemistry. Once produced and run through massive printing presses, the pages are bound (sewn or glued), then finished off with a cover.

You could make the case that Bible printing is one of the most complicated printing projects in the world.

Key Terms

Here are some some key terms to know related to Bible paper:

  1. Opacity: transparency of the page: measured by how much light shines through a sheet (measured by a numerical rating of 800–1,600)
  2. Show-thorugh: the degree to which print shows through on the opposite side of a page (often referred to as "ghosting")
  3. PPI (pages per inch): a measurement of the number of pages in an inch of paper (measured by a numerical rating of 70–90)
  4. Formation: used in describing the degree to which the pulp and fibers of a sheet of paper are, or are not, evenly dispersed.
  5. Lignin: an organic substance found plant cell walls. Lignin is a fortifying substance, like a glue that binds fibers together and allows plants and trees to stand upright.
  6. Titanium dioxide: the most widely used white pigment because of its brightness and very high refractive index; Titanium dioxide is employed as a pigment to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (e.g., pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes.

Common Types of Bible Paper

There are three main categories of Bible paper:

  1. Groundwood
    • Brownish or oatmeal colored paper
    • Most commonly used choice for books and newspapers because of its low production cost
    • The lignin in groundwood paper begins to deteriorate when exposed to air and sunlight, causing the paper to yellow and become brittle
    • Typically a thicker paper (low PPI) which means it has high opacity
    • Commonly used in economy Bible editions
  2. Free sheet
    • Most commonly used paper for Bible production
    • A chemical process pulls out the lignin, which makes protects the paper from discoloration but decreases its opacity
    • In order to improve the opacity, titanium dioxide (in powder form) is injected into the pulp
    • Titanium dioxide increases opacity because of how it refracts/scatters light, thereby keeping light from shining through the page
    • Increased titanium dioxide = increased opacity
    • Increased titanium dioxide = increased cost
    • Has high PPI compared to groundwood paper
  3. Blended
    • A middle ground: has gone through the free sheet process, but still has some groundwood pulp in it
    • PPI is higher because of free sheet components
    • Retains more opacity because of groundwood components
    • Difficult to tell the difference between a blended and freesheet page with the naked eye
    • This type of paper is new to the marketplace, so it is still unknown how much the paper is affected by yellowing and deterioration

Identifying High-Quality Bible Paper

In light of this information, the question naturally arises, "How will I know high-quality Bible paper when I see it?"

Well, there's no magic formula, but it comes down to a variety of factors and your prefernces. The next time you're looking for high-quality paper, consider this checklist:

  1. Opacity: Minimal or significant show-through?
  2. PPI: What is the paper's numerical rating? Does the thickness make the Bible too heavy and/or bulky?
  3. Formation: Hold a page up to a light and look for splotches or inconsistent amounts of light being allowed through the page.

Think of "high-quality Bible paper" as being on a spectrum rather than in a static, black and white category. There are some widely accepted non-negotiables (opacity, PPI, and brightness), but the rest comes down to subjective preference (whiteness, creaminess, texture, etc.). In the end, "high-quality" is in the eye of the beholder.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

FW: "The church is patient. It can wait. For it has a future."



Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Monday, August 25, 2014 9:20 AM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: "The church is patient. It can wait. For it has a future."


It is certainly no accident that almost all leaders of the ecumenical movement came from this youth movement [i.e. SCM]. These "movements" belong to the shape of church history in our century. In them lives, alongside the genuine Christian faith, the enthusiasm and chiliasm of Pietism and Methodism, as it was still alive around the turn of the century. Enthusiasm does not understand the objective means of grace of word and sacraments. This is why these circles could so quickly exchange their bible faith for a modern theology for which the Scripture was no longer simply God's word. This explains the enthusiastic urging of communion fellowship even where the sacrament was understood totally differently. Enthusiasm does not understand the dogma of the church. How can there be unchanging doctrine that remains the same across all the centuries? The truth is for the church "the faith, once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Even for Rome the revelation of doctrine is ended with the death of the last apostle. Enthusiasm, however, searches for a truth that will be revealed first in the future, when the Christians or churches gather around the Scripture and the Holy Spirit then must work the great miracle to let new truths break forth from his word, to use the words of the preacher of the Pilgrims. It is characteristic of all these circles to think that the essence of baptism, the essence of the Lord's Supper will first be understood in the future, that it must be possible to go beyond the petrified frontlines of the confessions to know the full truth, of which each only sees a part. In fact, perhaps first the "young" churches will manage to do what the old ones were unable to do: to find the truth in which Zwingli and Luther, Rome and the Baptists are one. This explains the urging of discussions, conversations, conferences. The unity of the true church is founded on the truth that is already there. Enthusiasm seeks the unity in a truth that has not been found yet. The church teaches. The sect discusses. The church is patient. It can wait. For it has a future. The sect is impatient. It must have it all quickly, if possible find a new doctrine of the Lord's Supper on a conference lasting two weeks. The sect cannot wait. For it has no future, although it always talks about the future.




[1] John Robinson 1575-1625. W.H. Burgess, John Robinson: Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers (Londom: Williams & Norgate, 1920), p. 240.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

FW: Great Stuff — I wish the liturgy were more accessible. . .



Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2014 9:42 AM
Author: Norm Fisher
Subject: Great Stuff — I wish the liturgy were more accessible. . .


Another great post over on Pastoral Meanderings by Pastor Peters:


6936911514_b9a3573c32_z"Wow! That is a lot to take for someone who has had only a passing association with church before!" So said one visitor to a Sunday morning Divine Service at my parish. She did not say it but clearly her comment meant "I wish the liturgy were more accessible" to a stranger to the church like me…

It would not be the first time someone has uttered those sentiments. It IS a great deal to take in for those who have not had much association with the church before. I will not deny it one bit. Neither will I suggest that it is a fruitful pursuit to try and find a way to dumb down the liturgy just in case there may be (and there always are) people who are strangers to the church and to the mass). I am sure it is overwhelming and even shocking. I would be disappointed if it were not — for what would it say of us if the Divine Mystery of Christ (both efficacious Word and Sacrament) were easy enough to get and dismiss out of hand!

I tell such folks not to make a judgment quickly but to return to the liturgy over and over again. Only then, with familiarity, can come the deep appreciation for the mystery and its grace bestowed upon us by Christ through His Word and Spirit. The liturgy is one of those things learned by doing as much as by studying.

If you are an avid reader of this blog, you know that I do not quote Aristotle — not ever — but one of his tidbits of wisdom certainly applies to the Divine Service:

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.

– Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Though some find it offensive that any person off the street, a stranger to God and His worship, cannot enter the church and feel perfectly at home, I find just the opposite offensive. If a stranger to God and His worship feels at home in the liturgy, there must be something wrong with the liturgy. The liturgy or mass is off putting — not because it is designed to offend but because it goes against all that the sinful heart values most — easy, comfortable, feeling oriented, self-centered pleasure. What is most disarming about the liturgy or the Divine Service is that it compels us to shed ourselves and to become focused upon and open to the work of the Lord through His means of grace. Such is the domain of the Spirit and not simply the training of the human heart but, that said, it is discipline whose value is learned by experience.

We tell parents all the time that the repetition of the liturgy is helpful to the child learning by the experience of it who God is, what He has done, and how He communicates to us the fullness of His grace and gifts. Would not the same be also true of adults who come as infants into the presence of God in the holy ground of the liturgy?

Hardly any sport is transparent or obvious upon first view. Watching the game being played is one of the most important ways we learn its rules and an appreciation for the sport. In the hospital we have interns and residents who continue their education by watching and doing — believing that this is the most effective way to train our doctors. Why do some insist that we must make worship cogent for and accessible to the unchurched who know little of God or His ways? Why do some visit once and presume that they have seen and learned enough to make a reasonable judgment against the church?

To the stranger come upon us, I say stay here long enough to get to know the liturgy. Study it and learn the faith from it, to be sure, but resist the great temptation to judge what you see or experience until you learn its words, its rhythm, and its tempo. To the parent worrying about a child growing distracted from or bored with the liturgy, I say hang in there. Children learn by doing and they are absorbing from the liturgy more than is obvious to you. Reinforce what happens in the Divine Service, to be sure, but do not reject what happens as they experience the church's liturgy and song over many years of growing up.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

FW: Diachronic vs. Synchronic Unity and Lectionary



Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Friday, July 11, 2014 7:43 AM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: Diachronic vs. Synchronic Unity and Lectionary


Delivered as a workshop at the Liturgical Institute at Valpo in April of 2014. Again, not a polished paper, but might provide some food for thought.

It was a number of years back, maybe the last time I made it to this august Institute. I had driven up here with Dr. Lee Maxwell, whose writings (by the way) remain quite influential to me on the topic of this particular workshop. But being the dingbat that I am (I prefer to think of myself as the absent minded scholar…), I had made reservations at a hotel, but not bothered to write down or remember the NAME of the hotel. So we stopped at that one right by the University only to discover they weren't expecting us and there was no room in the Inn. So a little befuddled and explaining to Lee that we'd surely find the right place before long I pulled out. and we drove for a bit. It was dusk. Then I noticed the most peculiar thing. "Lee!" said I. "Would you look at that! They have hung those traffic lights backwards. Is that weird or what?" To which Lee very excitedly responded: "They are not hung backwards, you idiot. You've turned the wrong way on a divided highway!" At which point we quickly crossed the median and, well, as there was no cop in sight and we were still living and breathing, all was well. Well, except for Lee swearing never to take another trip with me behind the wheel - a promise he has kept, by the way, for the last decade and more. Why bring up this ancient happening? Well because sometimes, sometimes there are signs, little hints, that things aren't well, and we can either happily move along pretending all is still honkey dorey, or we might want to do some self-analysis and see if at some point we might have had a wrong turning.

So it was, of course, as a result of the Second Vatican Council that our Roman brothers and sisters began a reform of the liturgy. The Mass was put into the Vernacular. Various Eucharistic canons were provided to stand alongside the ancient Roman canon. But most striking, the lectionary was revised. For perhaps a thousand years plus, the system of readings for the Sunday Masses had been relatively fixed (with some regional displacements). The reading from the Old Testament was restored at last, usually keyed to the Gospel reading. And in order to allow each of the portraits of Christ provided by the individual evangelists to shine through, a three year system of readings was employed: A, the year of St. Matthew. B, the year of St. Mark. C, the year of  St. Luke. St. John ruled during Eastertide in all three years and did a bit of fill in during the year of St. Mark, given the brevity of that Gospel. Further, the second reading was now allowed a bit more independence and the ancient practice of lecio continua allowed for huge swaths of the epistles to be heard. One last very noteworthy feature was the use of a longer Psalm selection to replace the typically shorter gradual and verse or tract between the readings.

The thought was to let the Word of God more richly and fully impact and shape the Church's life, and who on earth can be against that? Rather excitedly but without any extended reflection or discussion, jurisdiction after jurisdiction followed Rome's lead in ditching the ancient Western lectionary and adopting the three year. The Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the Methodists. Soon, however, the niggling variations invited consideration of revising something that could be shared in common. Hence the Revised Common Lectionary. My own Synod's three year system is clearly largely but not entirely in synch with that.

And yet… Are there any backward traffic lights around? One of the most astonishing to me is that despite the Church reading more Scripture in the assembly than ever before in our Western Churches, basic biblical literacy among our people seems to have plummeted to lows that would have been unthinkable a couple generations back  You mention Abraham and Sarah, or David and Bathsheba? You know the blank stares that these names receive, and even from folks who are not strangers in church! And we won't even ask them about Mephibosheth or Maher-Shallal-hashbaz!

We read more and yet we remember and know less. What gives? Maybe that old Latin proverb nailed it after all: Non multa sed multum. Not many, but much. More on that in a few minutes.

Now, the nearly universal triumph of the three-year series in actual use by a billion plus Christians alive right now might have suggested that the older, historic one year series was simply dead and buried, one of those multitudinous footnotes of abandoned practice that litter the ecclesiastic landscape. It had had deficiencies, of course. Luther himself once complained that the epistles seemed to have been selected by a lover of works, and that all the good gospel sections in Paul's writings had been given short shrift. It's been famously noted that in the old series we never ever heard John 3:16, nor the account of the Prodigal Son.

But like Lazarus, not only is the stink of the historic series greatly exaggerated, but the thing pops back to life when no one expected it!

In Rome, Benedict XVI restores the old Tridentine Mass as "an extraordinary rite" (and you can read voices in the Roman Catholic press today that suggest that this extraordinary needs to be the basis for a new ordinary and to go back to the experiments of the 50's in bringing it into English!). This means not only the restoration of the Latin Mass with its ceremonies, but also the restored use of the historic lectionary that was an integral part of that rite!

Among the Anglicans, there is this growing "continuing" movement that is marked by a turn back toward the earlier versions of the Book of Common Prayer with their version of the historic lectionary that tends to be an identical twin to the old Lutheran practice.

Among the Orthodox, we find a Western Rite persisting with a liturgy of St. Gregory following the Tridentine Mass with Orthodox adaptations and using the one year lectionary.

And last, but hopefully not least, among Lutherans, at least in my Synod, I think you can document a small but growing trend as more pastors and parishes adopt and become quite committed to the gentle revision of the older lectionary that appeared in LSB. This was possible because of the decision made by the lectionary committee to set the one year on a completely equal footing with the three year in all the resources of the LSB.

In the front of each of the Lectionary volumes that attend LSB, these words stand in the preface:

The Lectionary Committee of the LCMS Lutheran Hymnal Project began its work by examining past and present lectionaries to determine how and whether to revise the existing lectionaries in Lutheran Worship. Early in the process, the decision was made to recover and retain the "historic" lectionary, as used by Luther and subsequent generations of Lutherans and as included in The Lutheran Hymnal.

Although the Lectionary Committee acknowledged that relatively few LCMS congregations use the one-year lectionary, the committee concluded that such a lectionary should be included in the hymnal to serve both those who still customarily use it and those who may one day find their situation could best be served by the repetition inherent in this lectionary. Among the various reasons for retaining a one-year lectionary in Lutheran Service Book, the Lectionary Committee noted the following:

  • We are an historic Church and acknowledge the value of what has been handed down to us.
  • It is important to recognize the value of repetition. Given the increasing lack of biblical literacy within our society and even within the Church, there may be a need in the future for a one-year lectionary, with its annual repetition of key biblical texts.
  • The one-year lectionary is unique in that there are a number of older resources that support it, including hymnody, sermons by Luther and others, etc.

Revisions to the one-year lectionary have been very minor. The historic Gospels remain intact. Likewise, all the historic Epistles have been included. In a few cases, however, alternate Epistles and Gospels have been provided. Because the historic lectionary did not have assigned Old Testament readings, the committee has taken greater freedom in choosing these texts. As with the three-year lectionary, the committee has attempted to choose Old Testament readings that relate closely to the Holy Gospel by way of typological or prophetic connection. In addition, the committee attempted to provide a balanced selection of the various genres of Old Testament readings (e.g., prophetic writings, historical narrative).

Full propers have been prepared for the one-year lectionary, including a psalm and verse of the day, expanded introits, and minimally revised Collects of the Day for each Sunday and festival. All of these propers are contained in the Lutheran Service Book Altar Book. pp.xiv,xv.

This was prescient. Thus, although Rome and the Western Rite Orthodox simply mandate the use of the old Tridentine lectionary in its Extraordinary Rite; and the continuing Anglicans tend to employ the lectionaries of the earlier Book of Common Prayer; the LSB sought to address gently the criticisms raised against the historic series and thus update it to be a series that has four readings per Sunday: first, psalm, epistle and gospel; that respected the basic structure of the older series by allowing the Gospels to key off and to retain the traditional collects and so forth. No John 3:16? But historically we read John 3:1–15 on Holy Trinity, why not add a couple more verses? No prodigal son? But we read from the first half of Luke 15 each Trinity 5. What if we allowed the option of reading the first three verses and then skipping to the end of the chapter? So it was sort of a best of the old and best of the new approach. But running through it all was the consciousness that repetition, after all, is the mother of learning and that THAT may have been the true key to biblical literacy in the Western Churches in the past!

On the anxiety that might arise about the amount of Scripture read if a one year series is adopted, a thought to consider: in Lutheranism, the Mass lectionary was never intended to bear the burden of being the entirety of a Christian's Biblical reading - and so we have long had daily lectionaries. LSB follows in this tradition, but the resources have gone further than ever: Treasury (or its digital version: the PrayNow App), provide for reading great swaths of Scripture each year. Great resources for "more of the story" but again, built on yearly repetition of key texts (this pattern also is found in Lutheran sources from places like Magdeburg and is distinct from Calvinist or Anglican stress on "getting through" the Bible in the year - In Magdeburg, for instance, you read through certain Apocryphal books, but never read from Deuteronomy at all, the focus being on the narrative sections).

So, with a sturdy implementation of a daily lectionary to fill in the corners, if you will, the Mass lectionary provides a basic scaffolding from which to enfold the rest of the material. Loehe spoke of it like this:

He (the Lutheran preacher) rejoices in the ancient pericopes and would not, even if he could, base his sermon in the Divine Service on free texts or continuous portions of Holy Scripture instead of those pericopes. Preferably he keeps [as his sermon text] for the Divine Service the Gospels, and leaves the Epistles in their place in the order of service, and he will not become weary in preaching on the Gospels. As the people love to hear them, so to him they will become richer and fuller the more he speaks on them. He learns, the more he treats them, the great wisdom of the homilitician to create access through the known to the unknown and to show all the teachings of the church in the familiar texts. The person who switches the texts every year is not fit as a preacher of the people, let alone, one may say, of the church. That which is always different and new, without a connection to the familiar texts, makes it hard for people to understand, but each person easily and gladly accepts new thoughts when they appear as freshly recognized depths of ancient wisdom. —Loehe, Three Books, p. 117.

Finally, think of those resources mentioned in the intro to the Lectionary for LSB:

We have the treasure trove of the old Postilla (the sermon collections)

Postilla of Luther (House and Church - house much better than Church)
Postilla of Gerhard (Repristination Press), Loehe (not in English, sadly),
selections from Postilla of Walther

We have the treasure trove of old Lutheran hymns often written toward these pericopes.

For example, for the Anglicans and the Lutherans, the first Sunday in Advent was always the Entrance into Jerusalem from Matthew's Gospel. Think of the hymns that associate this event, then, with the season of Advent:

LSB 334 - Gerhardt's O Lord, How Shall I Meet You -

Your Zion strews before You green boughs and fairest palms...

LSB 335 - the Danish "O Bride of Christ Rejoice"

A humble beast He rides,
Yet as a King presides,
Though not arrayed in splendor
He makes the grave surrender.
Hosanna, praise, and glory!
Our King we bow before thee!

LSB 343 - Prepare the Royal Highway

God's people see Him coming:
Your own eternal king!
Palm branches strew before Him!
Spread garments! Shout and sing!

LSB 350 Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come

My hosannas and my palms
Graciously receive, I pray Thee;

How much sense do these make without the traditional Gospel for Advent I keying off Advent??

Without the celebration of Gaudete, what exactly IS the point of that rose (pink) candle in the Advent wreath?

Day by Day (daily devos arranged from Luther's writings by Anglicans shortly after WWII)

God Grant It! (daily devos from Walther that follow the historic one year for weekly themes)

Think of connecting our folks again to the great texts of the Bach Cantatas!

FB groups on the historic lectionary (The One-ders)

So there are numerous pluses and a few cons, but none insurmountable. I'll let Dr. Piepkorn have the final word. When this whole thing was just beginning to loom on the horizon, and not long before his death, he wrote:

"I confess that I share the view of those that feel that world Lutheran ties are more important than American solidarity.  Quite apart from this, however, I have basic misgivings about the use of a three-year cycle of pericopes.  With the irregular attendance of many of our people at divine worship and with the general lack of preparation for the service on the part of many of the worshippers that do come, I feel that a three-year cycle or even a two-year cycle would mean that many of our people would in the end be less acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures than they are now."  – A. C. Piepkorn, The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, p. 13.

Which is to say: he noted the backwards lights and suggested not getting on the highway in that direction.

Comments, questions, insights, or just out and out disagreements?

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