Monday, August 29, 2011


I cry Uncle. Let it never be said that the folks at CPH have no sense of humor. The new Walther commemorative medal is made out of "antique bronze." That's a win.

I am very much looking forward to Fr. Harrison's revised translation of Kirche und Amt. Those of us with subpar German, limited time, or both will benefit greatly from a faithful, scholarly translation of the work which is supposed to be the "voice of our church" on the topic that continues to plague contemporary Confessional Lutheranism. Word on the street is that the currently available translation is inaccurate - and beyond any doubt, a vast majority of the folks who pressed the "yes" button at the 1998 [correction: 2001] Convention hadn't read the thing anyway. (But that's how legislative bodies work these days - ever heard of the Patriot Act or Obamacare?) Therefore, Fr. Harrison's time is well spent in getting this into the hands of the Synod.

For my own part, I become more and more convinced that what we really need on the topic of Church and Ministry is a bold ad fontes back to the Confessions and the Confessional writers, their influences, their historical context, etc. My own study in this regard leads me to believe that there was a definite divide between Luther on the one hand and Chemnitz on the other when it came to Church and Ministry and that this divide at the beginning has reverberated down the centuries. Walther made a heroic attempt to reconcile these two strains of thought. I am not convinced that he succeeded - but hitherto I have been frustrated in making a thorough study of the question due to the lack of a scholarly edition/translation of Kirche und Amt. Bring it on!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

A layman's frustration

At a funeral today, a parishioner from a different parish in the wider area cornered me to vent his frustration over his parish going to the American Evangelical worship route. I thought his comments were both insightful and humorous.

"And those songs! It's all one word over and over again - Jesus, Jesus, Jesus - no explanation!"

"And we've got this one fella who thinks he can play the guitar and so at Christmas time he gets up there and sings this song, 'Mary, did you know this?' 'Mary, did you know that?' Well, she knew before anybody else. . . "

I wonder just how many parishes have experienced significant conflict at the hands of the pushers of "contemporary worship"?


Lutheran Propers for St. Augustine

By Larry Beane

Lutheran Service Book (LSB) has given us a lot of possible commemorations, perhaps more so than any previous English language hymnal.

For example, in the Missouri Synod's sanctoral calendar on LSB page xiii, we find that "Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian" is commemorated on August 28 - which falls on a Sunday this year.  Setting aside for the time being the sectarian terminology ("Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian"), it is a good development for us to honor whom the rest of western Christendom calls "St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and Doctor of the Church."

However, LSB does not provide any liturgical propers for the celebration of the feast.  Fortunately, we do have some resources at our fingertips.  Obviously, there are many ways to figure out what propers to use (such as Anglican and Roman Catholic resources), but so that my parish can commemorate St. Augustine per our own synodical calendar, here is what I happen to be using:

  • For the collect, I am using the one in the Treasury of Daily Prayer.
  • For the Introit, Gradual, Epistle, and Gospel, I am using the helpful volume edited by my colleague here at Gottesdienst, the Rev. H. R. Curtis: Daily Divine Service Book: A Lutheran Daily Missal (DDSB).
  • For the Old Testament Reading, I am using the late Rev. Paul W. Nesper's reference called Biblical Texts.  It is in reprint thanks to Concodia Theological Seminary Press.

Most of the legwork has been done by Fr. Curtis.  The Introit comes from Sirach 15:5 (Antiphon) and Psalm 92:1-2.  The Gradual is from Psalm 37:30-31.  The Epistle is 2 Timothy 4:1-8, and the Gospel is Matthew 5:13-19.  Since my congregation uses ESV, I did have to look up these texts in that version as opposed to Fr. Curtis's preferred KJV - which unlike ESV, is in the public domain.

As DDSB follows the tradition of the Common Service and The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) and does not include Old Testament readings, I used Fr. Nesper's reference work to give me some options.  I looked up both the Gospel and Epistle readings in the index (page 438).  I found that the Epistle is used in one lectionary for the 11th Sunday after Trinity.  In turning to Trinity 11 (pages 380-381), I discovered that the Epistle was used in Lectionary 10 (see page 337).  This happened to have been the old Synodical Conference lectionary.  Back to page 380, it is clear that the Old Testament reading used by the Synodical Conference that matched up to the Epistle Lesson given in DDSB is Micah 2:7-13.

So, I now have a complete set of Lutheran propers to use for the feast of St. Augustine.

This is a little bit of work.  However, it's a lot less work than it could have been, especially to the labors of Fr. Curtis.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011 Schedule of Events

Schedule of Events for Oktoberfest and Gottesdienst Central

(Oct. 9-11, St. Paul's Kewanee, IL)

Featuring Dr. William Weinrich from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Conference theme (for Sunday and Monday): Baptism in the Gospel of John

5 p.m.: Autumn Choral Vespers
6 p.m.: Bratwurst Banquet (and partying into the night)

8:30 am: Registration
Private confession is available in the vestry from 8:30-9:15 am
9:30 am: Solemn Mass.
Fasting prior to mass is a laudable custom.
10:45 am: Brunch, in the cafeteria.
11:15 am: Dr. Weinrich
12:30 pm Office at Sext
12:45 pm Break. Snacks will be available.
1:10 pm: Dr. Weinrich, continued.
2:00 pm Break.
2:10 pm: Dr. Weinrich, continued.
3:00 pm: Office at Vespers
The late afternoon and evening is free. Weather permitting, a golf outing might be arranged.
9:00 am Low (spoken) Mass
9:45 – noon: Open seminar and workshop on the ceremonies of the Lutheran Mass: attention to the details that confess and magnify the Real Presence.
12 noon: Office at Sext
12:15 pm – lunch (on your own: we will attend a local restaurant)
1:30 pm – 3:15 pm: Seminar, continued.
3:15 Office at Vespers. Itinerarium

Sign up here.

Lodging info:

AmericInn, 4823 US Hwy 34. 800-634-3444
Super 8 Motel, 901 S Tenney (Rt 78). 309-853-8800
Aunt Daisy’s B&B, 223 W Central Blvd. 888-422-4148
Kewanee Motor Lodge, 400 S Main St. 309-853-4000
Days Inn, I-80 & Rt 40, Sheffield. 815-454-2361
Holiday Inn Express, I-80 & Rt 78, Annawan. 309-935-6565

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Body Gospel

What's wrong with American Christianity, you ask? Look no further.

HT: Fr. Scott T. Adle


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Obare Email Hacked


A blog entry from August 12th contains an email claiming to be from Rev. Isaiah Obare who is studying at the Fort Wayne seminary. Rev. Obare is the son of Bishop Walter Obare of Kenya, known to many of our Gottesdienst readers as a strong suppoerter of Confessional Lutheranism and a former recipient of our Sabre of Boldness award.

Today I was advised by a reputable source who is well acquainted with Rev. Obare, advising me that this email is a FAKE, that it is the result of someone having hacked into his email account, and that he is NOT asking for financial assistance. The hacking appears to be the result of a political ploy on the part of someone trying to make it appear as though the Obares are seeking sympathy money from Americans.

What is clear is that although Rev. Obare did have a fall, he does not need surgery, and that he certainly did not request any financial assistance.

PLEASE DISREGARD THE FORMER PLEA. Our apologies for the confusion.

+ B F Eckardt, Editor

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Sister Enya, MD and the Trans-Siberian Riverdance"

or "Sometimes the Nun Gets You."

By Larry Beane (cross-posted at Father Hollywood)

On a visit to the bookstore of the Daughters of St. Paul today, I picked up a Chant CD.  It is called "In Paradisium" by the Daughters of St. Paul.  The cover depicts a beautiful vaulted cloister courtyard along with the title "In Paradisum" in Latin as well as the subtitle "Chant" and "Ever Ancient Ever New."

The clincher was that the CD was 40% off.  I thought it would be nice to hear some Gregorian Chant sung in the female voice register by nuns.  The back cover depicts the choir of nine habited sisters.

And so, I took the bait.

Upon listening in the car, it wasn't quite what I expected.  The music did feature (nearly all) Latin chant by the female choir - but there was more.  The vocals were overlayed with New Age licks reminiscent of Enya.  Don't get me wrong, I like Enya.  I know I'm probably not supposed to, but I don't really care.  I also like pineapple-amaretto daiquiris and little umbrellas in my drinks.  You want my man card? Μολὼν λαβέ, tough guy!  But Enya is not sacred music.  I didn't dig the whole Gregorian Chant thing with massage music going in the background.

Other tracks sounded like the theme from House, MD.  Hugh Laurie is a talented guy, but I don't think he can pull off the whole singing nun thing.

Still other tunes sounded like blatant ripoffs of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Again, I like the TSO.  I don't care what the trendsetters have to say about it.  But TSO is as compatible with singing nuns as is BTO.  Still other riffs called to mind Riverdance or some of the soundtrack of Braveheart. Again, nothing against Celtic tuneage.  I'm of Celtic heritage myself.  But Celtic dance tunes are just not compatible with the ancient dignity of Gregorian Chant.  Finally, there is the last tune, which goes disturbingly overboard regarding the mother of God - but what's even stranger, it is set to the Lutheran hymn tune "Erhalt Uns Herr" - otherwise known as the "Muderous Pope and Turk" song.

What a trainwreck!

It didn't have to be this way.  There were clues.  I should have paid better attention.  Had I had the Lutheran traditionalist defender of Lutheran traditionalism(tm),  Br. Latif, on speed dial, he could have "talked me down" and saved me ten bucks.

Our conversation would have gone something like this:

Me: "Hey, Brother Latif.  Larry here.  I'm looking at a chant CD."
Latif: "Hi Father Larry.  Okay.  Latin or English?"
Me: "Mostly Latin."
Latif: "Nice.  Who's it by?"
Me: "The Daughters of St. Paul."
Latif: "Ooh.  Uh, habited?"
Me: "Yes."
Latif: "Hmm.  Traditional?"
Me: "Well, I'm not sure..."
Latif: "Are their necks or ears exposed?"
Me: "Um, I see a little bit of lobe on one of them.  Yes, necks are exposed."
Latif: "No whimples?"
Me: "No whimples."
Latif: "I see.  These sound like Vatican 2 habits with modified veils.  Could be trouble.  Color?"
Me: "Navy and white."
Latif: "Okay.  That's enough.  I don't need to hear any more.  Father Larry, put the CD down, take three steps backward, turn, and run to the nearest bar or juke-joint where you can find some Springsteen or Evanescence..."  (Of course, Brother Latif would be referring to the good Evanescence with the deep lyrical themes from the time before the Christian guy left the band, not the inferior-quality post-Christian Evanescence where Amy Lee just whines virtually monosyllabically about her inebriated boyfriend...).

Brother Latif would also have picked up on the fine print on the back of the "In Paradisum" CD: "new arrangements."  I mean, what more needs to be said?

Yes, my bad, mea culpa.  I was foolish.  I hoped for traditionalism, and instead got a Vatican II Baby Boomer blend of Latin Chant and New Age, TV Soundtrack, Big Dramatic Drums, and Synthesized Bagpipes.  It happens.  But it doesn't have to.

Next time, I'm calling Brother Latif.

Civil Observances and Sunday

This year September 11th falls on a Sunday, and that on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th. This date has become a de facto civil observance and is used, each year, by the purveyors of various political perspectives for their own ends. And everybody wants God on their side, so this or that preacher/priest/shaman/rabbi/Christian Science Practitioner is always pulled in by this or that group for their prayer service/sit in/protest/remembrance walk, whatever.

What of local congregations and this day? Lutheran churches, especially of the Midwestern, conservative bent, will face the same sort of temptations that come along every time July 4th falls on a Sunday: patriotic jingoism and the the drafting of God Almighty into the service of the political aims of the United States. (Around July 4, a pastor in a nearby parish is famous for festooning the sanctuary in red, white, and blue and singing various patriotic songs.)

So I'm rather pleased to see that the Synod President has issued some very responsible suggestions. This is exactly the kind of leadership that a Church's chief pastor should give. If the suggestions are followed, the result will be a responsible ecclesiastical observance of a national tragedy that chiefly prays for peace, forgiveness, and healing and avoids politics.

As for me and my house, this day will be observed in much the same way we observe other national (and cultural - Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.) days: the lectionary will not be displaced and the day will be acknowledged in some way in the sermon and in the prayers. But for those congregations which have their own reasons (chiefly geographical, I suppose) for a more profound observance, these resources demonstrate the proper flexibility of the Church's liturgy to encompass the pain, anger, and hatred of men and redirect it into the vein of godly prayer.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Some Demons are Stronger than Others

When Osama was killed and the search revealed his porn stash, a friend said to me, "The terrorists always have porn." Somehow I had missed that detail. But my friend wasn't the only one to notice. Touchstone put up a little blurb this morning that caught me by surprise:

Touchstone linked Salvo. I subscribe to both, and suggest you scrounge up the money to do the same - right after you renew your subscription to Gottesdienst. :)

I've linked the article in Salvo before. To their credit, they're taking this head on. Every issue has at least a couple of articles that deal with sexual sins. Pornography is a common thread in all deviancy. It is also rampant. It is not just "out there." It is on our church computers, on our seminary campuses, in the international center. OK. I don't know that. But then again, I do. Because the statistics are there. This addiction afflicts the Church, its pastors, elders, Sunday School teachers, ushers, alligators, coffee and sign minister persons, etc.

So what do we do about it? Understanding it is a good first step. Some demons come out only with fasting and prayer. This demon will destroy your family, shame you in front of your mother, cause you to lose your job, etc. He won't come out easily. He needs to be confessed and external discipline needs to be put into effect. It is time to bear some fruits of repentance.

To that end, I suggest Open DNS. I am not a tech guy, but even I figured this out. Thanks, btw, to Rev. Jonathan Fisk for pointing this out. Open DNS is free and it doesn't slow down the computer. We have it at church and home and I never notice it. I am ashamed to admit it but we often sacrificed security for speed at home. We tried programs like Net Nanny and other filters but they slowed down the computer and since the kids complained, I blamed them. The truth is, nobody liked the slower speeds. But Open DNS actually speeds up the internet. And did you forget that it is free? So click on the link and set up an account and keep yourself and your kids safe.

But that may not be enough. Because if you are the addict, you will cheat. That is what addicts do. So in a sober moment, you need to hand the keys over to someone you trust, someone who loves you. Set up the account. Follow the instructions. Then give your user name and password to a trusted friend (or spouse) and have him change it so that you do not have access. He can do it from a distance, over the internet. Put it on at home and at church and everywhere.

Go to confession. Come to the Sacrament. Pray the Psalms. And use the tools that God provides, including Open DNS and Salvo and Touchstone and Gottesdienst.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gottesdienst Library: An Explanation of the Common Service for Kindle

An Explanation of the Common Service

Our friends at Emmanuel Press have already reprinted this invaluable resource in paperback and I encourage you to pick up a copy at their online store here. Emmanuel's summary reads:
This is the perfect book to explain the liturgy to new members, youth, and even long-time members and pastors. First printed over a century ago, this Lutheran liturgical handbook uses questions and answers to explain the meaning of the Communion, Matins, and Vespers. (Liturgical texts are equivalent to those of The Lutheran Hymnal 1941.) In addition, hymnody, liturgical theology, and history are addressed succinctly.
You should really buy copies of Emmanuel's edition for all your elders, worship committee, etc. and study it with them. And see the many other wonderful reprints and original works that Emmanuel has to offer.

For those who wish to read An Explanation of the Common Service on Kindle, I've made it available in a Kindle optimized pdf.

Kindle Instructions
Download the file, email it as an attachment to your address and it will automatically download to your device. As with all the pdf files, you may wish to view it with a horizontal screen orientation. Kindle edition $1.99

The Deacon after the Priest

As I was musing on St. Laurence, whose martyrdom we celebrated yesterday (August 10) at mass, I got to thinking about the apocryphal story of the exchange between him and Sixtus, who was himself being led off to martyrdom on August 6 of the fateful year 257.

The story goes that Laurence was grieving over the fact that he could not accompany his bishop to martyrdom: "Father, where are you going without your son? Have I not ever followed you wherever you have served? Have I not been faithful to you in all things? How can you leave without me?" To which Sixtus prophetically replied, "Yet three days and you will follow, the deacon after the priest."

This led me to thinking about a related matter, one we tend to be rather loath to talk about in the Missouri Synod, because our established practice is already so entrenched. I refer to the matter of lay assistants at the distribution of the Sacrament.

I'm fully aware of the parish nightmares that tend to arise when a pastor institutes change too abruptly or without forethought or warning. Gottesdiensters already have a bad reputation in this regard, though I would submit that it is largely undeserved. We do not endorse foolhardy revolutions in the parish; but we do take issue with those who deny the need for certain changes, especially regarding the Sacrament.

So on the matter of lay assistants at the altar, of course we have to deal with the century or so of the use of this practice--and I'm probably being generous in my assessment; it may be far less than that, but I'm not going to go look it up right now--which means that practically speaking there will be a need for much education, catechesis, preparation, etc.

But what I find unsettling is the popular notion that this is a matter we can altogether ignore. Here's the other side of the matter. AC XIV is not the first time the Church has insisted that no one should administer the Sacrament without a regular call. If you think so, you might be able to dismiss its more "rigid" interpretations by saying that when a lay assistant is handed the chalice, then in fact the one distributing is still the pastor (though even this is a stretch; I mean, distribution has to do with, well, distributing). But the Church catholic has, prior to the sixteenth century's Augustana, always insisted that only ordained men should do the actual distributing of the chalice (to say nothing of the Host!).

St. Laurence was a deacon, and one of the most prominent diaconal duties was the distribution of the chalice. This was widely known and indisputable in the third century and well before and beyond. The deacon was ordained to do this. St. Laurence did not need ordination to tend to the needs of the poor and look after the church's treasury, though he did those things too. He was ordained to distribute the chalice and to read the Gospel (there's another matter we can perhaps take up at another time).

To make matters worse for the confessional Lutheran's conscience, consider this: it was among the Protestant churches--specifically those churches with a low view of the Sacrament--that the use of laymen to distribute first became popular. It's a kind of Pietist invention. While it is true that this is one area in which (sadly) even the Roman Catholic churches have at last been influenced, it was not always so. It's only since Vatican II, if I'm not mistaken, that their "extraordinary ministers of the Sacrament" have arisen, among whom today one can even find women.

In St. Laurence's day it was unheard of; as also in Luther's day.

I will grant on the one hand that this is not a matter that must be changed this instant: having lay assistants at the altar does not make one apostate, after all, and no Gottesdienster would say such a thing. On the other hand, I think it needs to be considered; it needs at least to be on the radar screen. With the acknowledgment that we've come a long way in the Missouri Synod comes a rider: We can do better.

+ BF Eckardt

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Clerical Narcissism

Thanks to Fr. Juhl for passing along this insightful article about messing with Mass - from a Roman Catholic perspective, but very applicable on this side of the Tiber as well.

Money quote:

Setting aside the important underlying theological issues, we can see deeply rooted psychological motives behind the American priests who “individualize” the Masses they celebrate, placing their “personal stamp” on the liturgy. These priests play fast and loose with the rubrics of the mass, transform the “very brief” introduction after the greeting of the people, as authorized by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, into another homily. Some even individualize the prayer of consecration, and in numerous other ways seek to make the Divine Liturgy conform to their own tastes and views.

Gottesdienst Library: Krauth's The Conservative Reformation

The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology is readily available in used copies at prices cheaper than I can match, so no paperback copy of this one. But it has yet to appear for for Kindle - so here we go.

UPDATE: While Krauth is not available at the Kindle store, a reader found it here in another Kindle format for free.

UPDATE II: If you try the free version you'll find some formatting problems. This is why I don't try to convert pdfs to mobi format. I think it is still readable, but the errors are unpredictable. Try it out, but if you grow frustrated, you can pick up the pdf version below.

Kindle Instructions
Krauth's classic is a BIG book - both in page count and in physical size so there are some special instructions with this one. As always with pdf files, after you purchase the file you just send it as an attachment to your Kindle email address ( and the file will automatically download to your device. However, in order to meet the download limit of Amazon (and the attachment limit of most email services) Krauth's work comes in FOUR files. To enlarge the font to the correct size for reading just click the Kindle's Aa button and rotate your view 90 degrees.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DDSB #8 at Kindle Store

Daily Divine Service Book
for Kindle
with active Table of Contents currently sits at #8 in the Kindle Store among Christian Prayerbooks. Surely we can beat out #3, Praying the Rosary, with the Mysteries, right? Father Petersen had these kind words for DDSB for Kindle when recommending it to a friend:

It is very handy to have this on a phone, etc. Because DDSB doesn't
just have the references for the Bible readings. It has the full text.
That means I can be stuck in the bleachers at a wrestling match, pull
my phone out with Kindle app and quickly find and read the lessons for
the coming Sunday, etc. It enables me to think on the text. That is a
very good thing. This is well worth $5.

Don't forget: if you bought a copy without the active TOC, just email me and I'll send you a free update: pastorcurtis at gmail dot com.


Gottesdienst Library: Gerhard's Sacred Meditations for Kindle and Paperback

Latest addition to the Gottesdienst Library: Gerhard's Sacred Meditations

Johann Gerhard's Sacred Meditations needs no introduction. It is truly Lutheranism's greatest contribution to Christian devotional literature still today more than 400 years after publication. Can you believe it wasn't on Kindle? I'm happy to announce it's publication in two formats to make this work more easily available - a paperback edition that is cheaper than anything else on the market and a Kindle optimized pdf.

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition Instructions $1.99 (click here)
The Kindle edition is a pdf facsimile of the 1896 Lutheran Publication Society edition which I have optimized for viewing on the Kindle. After you purchase the file you just send it as an attachment to your Kindle email address ( and the file will automatically download to your device. The typeface is clean and measures at about 10.5 point with an vertical orientation (that's how I read it); for a larger type, simply push the Aa button and rotate orientation to horizontal. $1.99 (click here)

Monday, August 8, 2011


We had about 150 people here at Redeemer last week for a family retreat. They were mostly, though not exclusively, homeschoolers. They were mostly, though not exclusively, large families. Many of them have fringe ideas about nutrition, government, polyester, brown eggs, or the Lord of the Rings. They were exclusively, to a man, hardcore confessional Lutherans and passionate about everything. More than half of them were under 18, most under 16, only a handful were over 50. It was exhausting, but wonderful. I am almost recovered and beginning to climb out of my characteristic over-analysis of the details, able to start reflecting on the blessing we have received and the joy that was bestowed upon us.

Here are the first things that are bubbling up:

My children had godparents, now, sadly divorced, whose children were my own godchildren. Of their own design, years ago they started to call one another “god-cousins.” In that rare inspiration of language they hit the mark. They were more than friends and neighbors. Their parents were god-brothers and that made them god-cousins. The adults gathered here this past week weren’t just friends, they were brothers. And that made all the children cousins.

I love being the pastor of small children. Nothing could be easier or more rewarding. The children do not care at all about my orthodoxy, insight, eloquence, or chanting. The length of my sermons or my stand on close communion or who I will marry or what I think of the synodical president, don’t matter. I am not just a friend of the family: I am the pastor. I am their pastor, same as their mom’s, and they love me. And, as is always the case, having first been loved, I love them.

Okay, maybe that is not Gottesdienst material. I should say something profound about the Sacrament or send a torpedo over the prow of the Contemporary Worship crowd. But it is what is coming now and I think the cousins bit is quite good.

The next retreat, btw, will be Tuesday July 31-Thursday Aug 2, 2012. Rev. Dr. Larry Rast, president of CTS will present on Martin Franzmann. We will sing a lot of Franzmann hymns and perhaps learn a thing or two about poetry and theology (as though they were different topics).

Gottesdienst Library: Schmid for Kindle and in Paperback

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

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kindle DDSB now has Active Table of Contents

Many thanks to the Daily Divine Service Book fans who were able to help me put an active Table of Contents in the Kindle edition ($5 click here). (If you already bought a copy without an active TOC, email me and I will send you instructions on how to get a free upgrade: pastorcurtis at gmail dot com.) You learn something new everyday. . .

This is a VAST improvement and really makes the Kindle edition quite handy. Now you may navigate directly to any of the following locations, from which any proper is just a few page turns away.

Preface 4

The Apocrypha in the Worship of the Augustana Rite 17


The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord 47


Ash Wednesday 142

Laetare 231


Ascension Eve 397



Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity 502

Divine Service with Rubrics 569













Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary 973

Common of a Bishop 976

Common of a Saint 979

Common of a Martyr-Bishop 983

Common of a Martyr Not a Bishop 986

Common of Several Martyrs 990

Common of a Confessor-Bishop 993

Common of a Doctor of the Church 998

Common of a Confessor not a Bishop 1001

Common of an Abbot 1005

Common of a Pastor 1008

Common of a Virgin-Martyr 1012

Common of a Several Virgin-Martyrs 1016

Common of a Virgin not a Martyr 1017

Common of a Martyr not a Virgin 1020

Common of Several Martyrs not Virgins 1024

Common of a Holy Woman not a Martyr 1025



Appendix A: Selected Prayers for the Celebrant While Serving at the Altar 1082

Appendix B: Hymns of the Day 1089

Saturday, August 6, 2011

DDSB August Sales: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover

The free market is a great thing: the division of labor, comparative advantage, etc. Due to new cost structures with Amazon's print on demand service, I've been able to significantly reduce the price of the paperback edition of Daily Divine Service Book from $30 to $25. To help launch the book with this new publisher, through August the price will be further reduced to $22.25 (click here).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DDSB for your Kindle and iPad

I've received many requests for eReader versions of Daily Divine Service Book and have finally gotten around to the rather frustrating task of formatting the files. (Word to the wise: don't bother using Calibre to make ePub files! Use the free Open Office Add On and don't look back. Calibre works great for making .mobi files for the Kindle.)

Amazon is a breeze to work with - pick up your Kindle edition of DDSB here. I sent the file directly to my wife's Kindle and it works great.

You can also get DDSB on your iPhone or iPad, but you've got to do it via download (here) and iTunes right now. You see, getting distribution to the iBookstore is very troublesome. They are very stringent about how the ePub metadata has to be formatted and so far it's been a terrible pain and I'm fixin' to give up. But the workaround is simple. Get the ePub file here and put it in iTunes on your laptop or desktop and then sync up your iPad or iPhone and it should appear in your books. Buyer/Apple user beware: this is how various Apple forums say to do this, I don't use Apple products aside from my iPod mini so I have not actually done it (though it appears to be the same process as manually adding files to the library in iTunes.) The ePub file itself works just fine on my laptop's ePub reader.

I enjoy reading books on the Kindle and I can see how this would work for shut-in calls or browsing the propers. But one of my main gripes with Kindle is that it's not too easy to flip back and forth from, say, page 30 to page 176. So with this ebook you will have to navigate on your own to the proper that you want ahead of time and will not have easy access to the ordinary (but I never flip back to the Ordinary during shut-in calls or Wednesday low mass anyway, nor do I think most pastors do - surely you've got that memorized?). But for using one set of propers, I think those who use either Kindle or iPhone/iPad will find this format useful.


What to call the "elders"

It is obviously problematic to call laymen who are assigned various duties to assist the ordained presbyter "elders." That's the Bible term for clergy. Likewise with calling them "deacons" as some other parishes do. For whatever deacons were in NT times (arguments persist), it is clear that they were set apart from the laity and even clearer that in Reformation times the term was synonymous with the lower ranks of clergy. A good first step in relieving the modern day confusion over the Ministry would be to use words the way the Bible uses them. Hells bells, even the Mormons use the term elder correctly! (For further reading on how we got in this mess with "elder" see Dr. Al Collver's "Lay Elders: A Brief Overview of Their Origin in the Missouri Synod."

And yet, the proper functions of a board of "elders" is vital to parish ministry - at least in the kind of parishes in which I have served. I need a sounding board of intelligent, faithful men of the parish to teach me about the parish and personalities, to warn me of pitfalls, to be my sounding board, to be the first to learn the Word of God and serve as examples to their families and fellow parishioners.

I propose calling them the Board of Counselors, or Pastor's Council. That actually describes what they do.

So, if your constitution is coming up for revision, consider that. Ours here probably won't come up for many years - oh, the pain of putting in a new constitution! - so for now, it's "elders" and all the confusion that brings when we turn to I Tim 3 in Bible Class...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Free Shipping (and did you notice we're out of the summer doldrums?)

We went through a rough spot of low posting traffic this summer - but if you'll read below, you will notice great stuff from both Fr. Petersen and Dr. Stuckwisch, two excellent, thought-provoking posts. As summer travel wraps up and another school year begins, look for Gottesdienst Online to get back to our regular volume.

Also - you can pick up Daily Divine Service Book volumes and The New Testament in His Blood with free shipping (code: SHIPFREE305) through Friday. Minimum order is $20 to qualify.