At Gottesdienst we are not really into mission statements and whatnot, but if we had one it would be something about making Lutheranism Lutheran again. For years, our esteemed Editor-in-Chief has been printing resources (like Why? A Layman's Guide to the Liturgy and The New Testament in His Blood) with this end in mind. The new technologies of print-on-demand and ebooks have opened up even more possibilities. Today I'm happy to announce the republication of another classic - and later this week, Dv, I'll be adding another still. Welcome to the Gottesdienst Library.
Heinrich Schmid did Lutheranism a world of good when he compiled the statements of the Lutheran divines of the 16th and 17th centuries in systematic order and in one volume. How many of us made it through seminary with almost no contact of any depth with the classical Lutheran theologians? Could that be part of our fellowship's ailments today? One of our goals at Gottesdienst is to correct such lapses, so I am happy to announce the republication of Schmid's seminal work in both Kindle (with an active Table of Contents to take you directly to the section you wish to read) and paperback editions with the following new introduction. The two editions have the same text, but the paperback has additional indices tied to its pagination while the Kindle uses only the linked Table of Contents.
Heinrich Schmid's The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 692pp.
The state of contemporary seminary education in North American Lutheranism is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, the three self-consciously Confessional and fully accredited seminaries of this continent provide an academic education second to none when compared with other denominational seminary programs. A student who makes it through these three year (plus vicarage) programs will have only himself to blame if he cannot read Greek and Hebrew with understanding, discuss the history of the Church and her confession and controversies with intelligence, and display an awareness of the contemporary theological landscape.
And yet, on the other hand, I fear that our fine seminary professors in the systematics departments take a little too much for granted. The following was my experience, and the experience of many of my colleagues. Our seminary level education in doctrinal theology began with a close study of the Confessions, then a close study of Pieper, and then various upper level courses on modern and contemporary theology. Coming out of the seminary none of us had read (for a class, at any rate) Melanchthon's Loci, Chemnitz's Loci, or Gerhard's Loci. Quendstedt was a footnote in Pieper. Hollaz? Calov? Who were they?
In short, we had jumped from 1580 to 1880 with hardly a glance at the immense and vital doctrinal theology of the intervening three centuries. One of the most interesting classes I had in seminary was a course on justification that looked at Osiander's teaching in detail - it was interesting because it opened my eyes to just how much I did not know about my own tradition.
What joy then to discover Heinrich Schmid's Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Here, at last, was what I really needed: a systematic theology arranged along the lines of the classic Loci that drew together the standard Lutheran theologians from the Augsburg Confession down to the 17th century divines. I don't think there can ever be a substitute for actually reading through the great doctrinal works of Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, et al. - but Schmid's work comes close. If not a substitute for reading those works, it is a time-saving summary of those works for the serious Lutheran who is getting a late start - as we all are these days. Yet it is more than a mere summary - Schmid does provide a summary at the head of each locus, but most of the work is actual quotations from the great doctrinal works of Evangelical Lutheranism. Thus, by looking up a topic in Schmid you are not only given a bare bones summary of the doctrine but also a ranging look at the very words of our great theologians and therewith a complete bibliography for deeper investigation.
I originally came across this work in the library of my father-in-law and it soon became a fast friend. I used it in teaching the Christian Doctrine course at Concordia University-Chicago for the one semester I taught there, but that was in the days before e-readers and easy to use print on demand. The book was out of print and used copies were going for upwards of $50. Thus, the students had to read through the work online and this was tiresome. Therefore I could not be more pleased to be offering an affordable edition of this work in both paperback and Kindle formats. Due to the limitations of the Kindle format, or rather, due to the immense amount of work it would require in the Kindle format, the indices have been removed. This is an edition meant to be read and annotated by each individual using Kindle's bookmarks and notes features.
The theological problems Lutherans face today, I am convinced, largely stem from our ignorance of our doctrinal heritage. I pray that by making Schmid's vastly important work more available some of that ignorance may be cast out.
- Rev. H. R. Curtis
St. Oswald's Day, 2011