The Third Commandment

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I just found this piece of paper in an old German book I have on my shelf. It appears to be some Catechism copywork by my grandfather. The Third Commandment is copied two more times on the back side of the sheet. I might have thought that this was during his Confirmation instruction days, except that I’m pretty sure he was confirmed in German. I wonder when he might have written this?

How to Understand Scripture: Learn the Trivium

220px-matthias_flacius“Yet we dare not in this regard follow the fanatics, as if the human sciences were utterly useless or even detrimental to the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and heavenly teaching. It is certainly necessary to study languages and well-informed grammars. Dialectic, rhetoric, and familiarity with the rest of philosophy is beneficial as well, and even quite necessary” (100).

“It will also be very beneficial to apply to an obscure place or to an entire writing the Lydian stone of the rules of logic, whether grammar, rhetoric, or finally, dialectic. Since these arts are indeed made known to use through the the beneficence of God and lit from the natural light that is all the time over us, and since they conform with the nature of things and the order that God has assigned to them, and finally, since they accommodate themselves to the human ability for comprehension (as the Sacred Scriptures), they will necessarily be of great benefit to us in the illumination of the Sacred Scriptures, if we apply them piously and cautiously” (111).

From How to Understand the Sacred Scriptures from Clavis Scripturae Sacrae by Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520-1575). Translated by Wade R. Johnston. 2001.

2016 Reading

I’ve just updated my reading list for 2016. The list isn’t quite as long as in some recent years, but there is some pretty heavy reading in the list.

If I had to pick a few favorites, I would say that the most interesting and useful books were Chemnitz’ Church Order and Loehe’s The Pastor. I had been waiting to get my hands on that work of Chemnitz for years, and while reading the Loehe book, I found myself repeatedly wishing I had access to it ten years ago (especially his advice for pastors just starting out in the ministry). Both of these translations were just published this year.

I re-read Bo Giertz’ The Hammer of God again this year. That’s always a favorite. What strikes me is that it seems like it reads faster and faster every time I read it. I’ve probably ready it six times or more now. See this post on re-reading books.

As far as pure enjoyment, I would have to say that Katie Schuermann’s two books were the most delightful. Every Lutheran should read these, if only to get you warmed up for reading The Hammer of God. Schuermann has said that Giertz’ writing is an inspiration and influence on her own writing. I think it shows.

Here is the complete list:

  1. Grace Abounds: The Splendor of Christian Doctrine (Daniel Deutschlander)
  2. House of Living Stones (Katie Schuermann)
  3. Gathered Guests:A Guide to Worship in the Lutheran Church (Timothy Maschke)
  4. Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today (John Kleinig) *
  5. The Hammer of God (Bo Giertz) *
  6. The Pastor (Wilhelm Loehe)
  7. The Choir Immortal (Katie Schuermann)
  8. Theological Commonplaces: On the Law (Johann Gerhard)
  9. Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (Guenther Stiller)
  10. Praying Luther’s Small Catechism (John Pless)
  11. The Perfect Game (Terrence Moore)
  12. Chemnitz’ Works: Church Order (Martin Chemnitz)
  13. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  14. Letters to an American Lady (C.S. Lewis)
  15. The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition (E. Christian Kopff)
  16. The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization: How to Taste and See the Abundance of Life (Mitchel Kalpakigan)

My book reading stack isn’t as big right now as it has been in previous years, but I’m looking forward to some good reading in A.D. 2017. I’ve already started a re-read of The Brothers Karamazov, and I’m looking forward to finally getting to read de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I also have another volume of Gerhard’s Loci coming up.

What was the best book you read in 2016 and what’s on your list for the new year? Leave me a comment.

Elementary Latin

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I was asked to write an article on teaching Latin in our synod’s elementary schools, which has been posted on the MLC Issues in Lutheran Education blog.

A Case for Classical Latin in Elementary Schools

Below are links to some of the resources mentioned in the blog post, and a few others.

And a few of my own posts on Latin and Education:

A Few Favorites

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Aside from Martin Luther, Martin Chemnitz (1522-86) is regarded as the most important theologian in the history of the Lutheran Church. Chemnitz combined a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and the Church Fathers with a genuine love for the Church. When various doctrinal disagreements broke out after Luther’s death in 1546, Chemnitz determined to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. He became the leading spirit and principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of Scripture and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. Chemnitz also authored the four-volume Examination of the Council of Trent (1565-73), in which he rigorously subjected the teachings of this Roman Catholic Council to the judgment of Scripture and the ancient Church Fathers. The Examination became the definitive Lutheran answer to the Council of Trent, as well as a thorough exposition of the faith of the Augsburg Confession. A theologian and a churchman, Chemnitz was truly a gift of God to the Church. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Te Deum Laudamus

Every Wednesday, we pray Matins at church. We usually read an Old Testament selection from a daily lectionary. Then I usually comment on the Epistle from Sunday. Today, we commemorated the Lutheran hymnwriters Nicolai, Heermann, and Gerhardt and sang the Queen of Chorales. The other thing we regularly do is pray by name for the members of the congregation. 

But every week I look forward most to singing the Te Deum Laudamus. Today, this sight gave me all the more reason to sing, and I think the angels, apostles, prophets, martyrs, and Church throughout the world rejoice at this, too.

Baptized

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October 22, 1978

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it, Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasure’s many? I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity.

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled, All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me! (CWS 737:3)

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