Reading

I am encouraged by the response to my last post about reading the Book of Concord this summer. There were more than a dozen people who commented on the blog or emailed me to say that they were going to be giving it a try. About 40 people have logged into Google Wave to follow the discussion there. Perhaps what I’m most encouraged by is variety of people who are excited to be reading the Book of Concord, especially the number of lay people who are reading it for the first time. So many have said, “I’ve always wanted to read the whole thing.” I would expect Lutheran pastors to do it. It should have a regular place in their reading and study schedules. But as the section I quoted in the previous post notes, the Lutheran Confessions were never meant to be for clergy only. And it always encourages me to know that lay people are interested in really learning what it means to be a confessional Lutheran.

When I was in college I received a bunch of books from the family of my great-uncle, who had just passed away. I visited him just days before he died, and sang some German hymns to him in his final days. He wasn’t a pastor. He was a farmer. But he was also a student of the Scriptures. Among the books I received were a bunch of music books, a book of Walther sermons, Stöckhardt’s Bible History Commentaries, and a German-Latin edition of the Book of Concord. Uncle George wasn’t a pastor, but he wasn’t a stranger to theology either.

I hope that the discussion is helpful in keeping everyone on schedule this summer. I’m still not convinced that Google Wave is the best tool for this kind of discussion. It’s pretty new, and most people are just getting used to it. But it seems to be working. If you aren’t interested in digging into Google Wave, you can try to start a discussion on the Book of Concord Facebook page, or leave me a comment on this page. I’m looking forward to hearing people’s questions or observations as they read. It’s already been quite interesting to see the thoughts that people have been having. I will be occasionally posting some of my more general observations from this summer’s reading here on The Shepherd’s Story.

If you’re still interested in starting, it’s not too late. We’re just starting the Augsburg Confession. If you still need/want to pick up a copy of the book, right now the best price is at Amazon.com. I’m sure they’ll go on sale a CPH again.

Happy reading!

2 thoughts on “Reading

  1. Question Pastor:
    On Article XII and the Anabaptists. Does this mean we CAN or CANNOT lose the Holy spirit once we’ve been justified? Mark Mangini always quotes, to Debbie’s chagrin, that “once saved, always saved”, to imply that once we have received the Holy Spirit, there is absolutely no way we can screw up enough to end up in Hell! I know we can’t earn our way anywhere, and that we definitely don’t deserve to go to heaven, but is this true? We can’t ever lose Him?
    I’m really glad we’re doing this!
    Thanks,
    Karen

    • Yes, it was the Anabaptists who were saying, “Once saved, always saved.” And the Lutherans condemn that teaching because the Scriptures do. The Scriptures warn against taking our salvation for granted, or against thinking that we have it made. (1 Corinthians 10:12 comes to mind.) Salvation can be lost. Those who make that claim today will suggest that those who fall away were never really saved in the first place. Of course, that has the potential to throw everyone’s salvation into doubt. If “once saved, always saved,” how will I know for sure if I am one of those? This teaching forces us to turn away from the grace of God and the merits of Christ and turn to our own feelings and actions.

      The other side of the coin is that God does give assurance to believers that he will preserve them in faith until the end. That’s probably were “once saved, always saved” finds its source. But those promises are not made to secure sinners, but to believers who are tempted to doubt and are perhaps suffering under the cross and wonder if they’ll make it. It is to these people that God promises that he will preserve them until the end.

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