Monday, September 17, 2012

Your questions have already been answered.

I've mentioned before how working as an assistant editor on CPH's new Gerhard volumes (Theological Commonplaces) has been a real eye-opener, especially to the sad fact of the inadequacies of our own MDiv doctrinal theology education. Most every question we are asking today, most every controversy we are beating each other over the head with, has been thoroughly handled by Gerhard four centuries ago. Worship wars? Pastoral education? Pastoral pay? Women in the ministry? All in volume two of On the Ministry. 

Currently I'm working on the volume concerning original and actual sin. I just sent off a long section on concupiscence. Perhaps that does not sound too exciting - but the argument between Rome and Wittenberg on this topic could not be of more contemporary importance. Is our inward tilt toward sin, our desires, our inner brokenness really sin? Or is concupiscence not really sinful? This argument maps onto the current discussion in the Christian world concerning homosexuality. Gerhard has all the ammunition you need: Scriptures, patristics, clear reasoning, history, etc.

Here's a snippet from Gerhard on venial and mortal sin - another long lost Lutheran distinction that would clear up a lot of thinking in our ministerium.

That some [sins] are called venial and only some are called mortal is not because of the nature of the sins but because of the mercy of the Father, the merit of the Son, and the sanctification of the Spirit. This distinction does not pertain to all people in general but only to the reborn. It is not to be taken from the Law which accuses and condemns all sins regardless of their type and size, but from the Gospel which demonstrates that sins of weakness and ignorance and corrupt lusts are not imputed to those who believe in Christ if they resist them; that is, if the reborn,
(1) acknowledge these evils which dwell in their heart;
(2) grieve seriously over them;
(3) ask and believe that they are covered by the merit of the Mediator as by an umbrella;
(4) by no means relax the reins ujpon them but resist them by the Spirit, crucifying the flesh along with its desires [concupiscentiis].
These four chief points are very correctly assigned to remission and mortification in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession. 

I know the books are pricey (and I don't get any royalties, alas), but if you buy one volume a year and commit to read through you will plug a lot of gaps that your MDiv did not fill.



  1. Thank you for your work on these. I have been getting them as printed. Do you know if and when they will ever become available electronically (Logos format)?

  2. On that one excerpt, all I can say is "wow"...and Lord, have mercy! In my humble opinion, and I am not unaware of the costs of such work and publishing, these should be free. And if not free, cheap. For heaven's sake, at least post the text files to the internet. To withhold such wisdom and theological insight because of money is unjust.

  3. Paul McCain recently announced in a blog post that these would appear in Logos format. A lot of pastors have been asking for that and it looks like it will happen. Thanks CPH!

    Pr. Gleason,
    Yes, they should be free. Everything in the church should be free. But CPH has gotta pay the bills and trust me when I say that they are losing a lot of money on this project but doing it nonetheless for the sake of the church. Perhaps congregations could meet CPH halfway and pay for their pastor's subscription if they want his bible studies and sermons to get better.

  4. "CPH's new Gerhard volumes (Theological Commonplaces)"

    Can't find on CPH website a page explaining how many volumes will be in the series, any insight?

    1. 17 total:
      Exegesis I, On the Nature of Theology and on Scripture, rev. ed.
      Exegesis II–III, On the Nature of God and on the Trinity
      Exegesis IV, On Christ
      Commonplace XXV, On the Church
      Commonplace XXVI/1, On the Ministry, Part One
      Commonplace XXVI/2, On the Ministry, Part Two
      Commonplaces VIII–XI, On Creation and Predestination, (fall 2013)
      Commonplaces XII–XIV, On Sin and Free Choice
      Commonplaces XV–XVI, On the Law
      Commonplaces XVII–XVIII, On the Gospel and Repentance
      Commonplace XIX, On Justification
      Commonplace XX, On Good Works
      Commonplace XXIII, On Holy Baptism
      Commonplace XXIV, On the Holy Supper
      Commonplace XXVIII/1, On Marriage, Part One
      Commonplace XXVIII/2, On Marriage, Part Two
      Commonplace XXVIII/3, On Marriage, Part Three


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