Thursday, December 19, 2013

Preaching Doctrine For Life

To go along with Pastor Curtis's last post, "When Will They Learn?" a dear friend and colleague from my seminary days, Pastor David Juhl, gave me this helpful document on "How A Pastor Can Treat All the Chief Doctrines Preaching the Gospel Pericopes in One Year." Pastor Juhl translated it, and I don't know who compiled it. This was designed for the One-Year Historic Lectionary.

I haven't made a lot of use of it, only when I'm hurting for material. But I think by following something like this we will also become better theologians ourselves. For we will have to learn how to teach and preach the intricacies of doctrine in ordinary language to people who are probably not used to hearing or thinking about it.

How a pastor can treat all the chief doctrines preaching the Gospel pericopes in one year

1. It is a preacher's sacred duty to preach to his hearers the whole counsel of God for salvation. In fulfilling this duty he may not be hindered by anything, but must use all diligence to comply with it.

2. There is no obligation commanded by God to do this just in the Sunday sermons within one year on the basis of the pericopes. However, this arrangement is good and advisable in some cases. Of course, it in itself does not fully guarantee that the whole counsel of God is preached to the hearers. This is only the case if the plan is executed faithfully and conscientiously.

3. To execute such a plan has its difficulties, but is possible. Yes, the nature of the pericopes is such that they urge the partial attempt [of a plan].

The following plan is set up for the coming church year. To be able to accommodate the various teachings of the Catechism as possible, it is necessary to divide the pericopes like this:

I. The festival pericopes. According to these a suitable subject must be treated.

II. The pericopes that are loci classici for certain doctrines and may not be very well treated otherwise.

III. The pericopes that also have a certain scope by which very probably a different doctrine can be treated.

IV. Such pericopes that contain either more parts or more doctrines, one of which is as good as the other, that can be treated according to the text.

V. Finally, such pericopes where one must be in doubt what doctrines (not what theme!) you are supposed to treat. They also sometimes offer, or at least is a very good opportunity, to treat only the relevant doctrines.

The number that is after the pericope designates the class that the speaker referred to above.[1]

1 Advent - Royal Office of Christ (II)
2 Advent - Judgment Day (III)
3 Advent - Word of God (Divinity) (V) - This doctrine can be treated well by many pericopes, but this is one of the most appropriate.
4 Advent - Baptism. (V) - Besides Trinity Sunday and the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the only good opportunity. But it would be better to consider this doctrine in the confirmation address and here [consider] repentance.
First Christmas Day - The Birth of Christ (III)
Second Christmas Day - Confession of Christ (V)
1 Christmas - Humanity of Christ (V) - Since this is also [the pericope for] Third Christmas Day, it would be better to treat the Personal Union this day.
New Year's Day - High Priestly Office of Christ (IV)
2 Christmas - Reign over the World (III) - If St. Michael's fest is omitted, one can beautifully combine this doctrine and the doctrine of good angels.
Epiphany - Mission (I)
1 Epiphany - Parenting (4th Commandment) (III)
2 Epiphany - Marriage (6th Commandment) (III)
3 Epiphany - Faith (III) - This pericope and Trinity 21 both treat faith, but in very different ways.
4 Epiphany - Personal Union (III) - If this doctrine is treated on Third Christmas Day, this will fit best: Christ's kingdom of power.
5 Epiphany - Visible Church (II)
Septuagesima - Good Works (III) - This pericope and Trinity 20 both have the scope of election of grace. But since Septuagesima is the best opportunity to preach on the doctrine of good works, which also can be treated on Trinity 20, are easily accommodated elsewhere, this choice is preferrable.
Sexagesima - 3rd Commandment (II)
Quinquagesima - [Christ's] State of Humiliation (IV)
1 Lent - Scripture as Source and Norm (IV)
2 Lent - Temptations (III)
3 Lent - Devil (IV) - Also Trinity 14
4 Lent - 9th Commandment (Against Greed) (III) - This and Trinity 7 are the two feeding miracles. The distinction made here reflects the difference between the two Gospel accounts.
5 Lent - Original Sin's Corruption (V) - This doctrine cannot emerge out of this text, except to show the example of the wicked Jews. Better opportunities would be Trinity Sunday and Second Pentecost Day.
6 Lent - Day of Confirmation. Baptism. Also Trinity 4.
Maundy Thursday - Holy Lord's Supper (I) - It seems to be almost standing custom to preach on the Epistle or a free text.
Good Friday - Suffering and death of Christ (I)
First Easter Day - Resurrection of Christ (I) (or His Divinity. See Trinity 12.)
Second Easter Day - (Use and interpretation of Scripture) (V)
2 Easter - Unbelief (IV) (See Trinity 19.)
3 Easter - Prophetic Office of Christ (V) - The two main points of this doctrine (how Christ arranged this office in the days of His flesh and how He does this now) certainly come on Lent 1 and Easter 7 the case according to the language; so perhaps it would be better to stick with the usual theme, or, Christ as a model stand, to deal with the ministry. Then one could on 7 Easter deal with sin (See Walther's Gospel Postils).
4 Easter - The Cross (II)
5 Easter - Office of the Holy Spirit (III)
6 Easter - Prayer (II)
Ascension - Ascension of Christ and Sitting at the Right Hand of God  (I) (See 7 Easter)
7 Easter - The Preaching Office (V) A better occasion would be Ascension (See 3 Easter). The real object of the feast could be easily connected with this, and the State of Exaltation would be considered at Easter.
First Pentecost Day - Invisible Church (I) - For the doctrine of the Person and the Work of the Holy Spirit 5 Easter is almost regular.
Second Pentecost Day - The Gospel (I) (See also 5 Lent)
Trinity Sunday - The Trinity (I) If this festival is not taken into account, a better fit: the Doctrine of Rebirth. Then 7 Easter: The Trinity, and Ascension: The Preaching Office (See 7 Easter).
1 Trinity - (Heaven and) Hell (III) - The Doctrine of Heaven is a very suitable subject for funeral addresses.
2 Trinity - Vocation (III)
3 Trinity - Repentance (IV) - Better: The Grace of God's Will, and the Doctrine of Repentance on 4 Advent (See also 11 Trinity).
4 Trinity - 8th Commandment (III) - The last part suggests at the same time the Doctrine of Excommunication (the carrying out of excommunication).
5 Trinity - 7th Commandment. Work (II) - Suggests according to Dietrich into the Ban.
6 Trinity - 5th Commandment (Law) (III)
7 Trinity - Preservation of the World (III) (See 4 Lent)
8 Trinity - False Doctrine and Hypocrisy (II) (2nd Commandment)
9 Trinity - Charity. Command of the 7th Commandment. (II) (See Trinity 5)
10 Trinity - Wrath of God (IV)
11 Trinity - Justification (II) - Or according to the second half: Repentance. Then the Doctrine of the Forgiveness of Sins on Trinity 19. The Doctrine of Absolution would then be dealt with only in Confessional Addresses.
12 Trinity - Deity of Christ (V) - Almost every miracle Gospel deals with this doctrine. This is not the best (see 2 Easter, 16 Trinity), but quite good.
13 Trinity - Charity (IV)
14 Trinity - Apostasy (V) - 3 Lent would be better. But this Gospel also has its advantages.
15 Trinity - 1st Commandment (III)
St. Michael's - Good Angels (I) (See 2 Christmas)
16 Trinity - Resurrection of the Body (II) - Or: Deity of Christ, and this Doctrine in Funeral preaching. Then one must on 12 Trinity treat this somewhat differently.
17 Trinity - Ceremonial Law (Sabbath) (IV)
18 Trinity - Law and Gospel (Relation of the two) (III)
19 Trinity - Absolution (III) (See also 11 Trinity)
20 Trinity - Election (III) (See Septuagesima)
Reformation - A free text is often taken at this festival (Doctrine of the Antichrist)
21 Trinity - Faith, in particular the infirmities of faith (Sins of weakness) (III) (See 3 Epiphany)
22 Trinity - Forgiveness (5th Commandment) (III)
23 Trinity - State and Church (II)


[1] It is impossible to take into account the different circumstances of different congregations. Therefore, if someone wanted to use the above, it is essential that it be changed as necessary, or - and this is the very best - one makes his own plan.


  1. Very interesting.

    The Church Ordinance for Denmark and Norway of 1537 and 1539, which was essentially the implementation of the Reformation in the Dual Kingdom, prescribes that
    - on the Feast of Stephen (December 26th) preaching take place about Deacons and the Example of Saint Laurentius, that people be encouraged to care for the poor

    - on the Feast for Saint John (Third Day of Christmas) preaching take place about remaining in one's vocation and not seek another

    - on Esto Mihi Sunday (Baptism of our Lord) preaching take place about "all that the Sacrament of Baptism has to it"

    - on Quasimodo Geniti (Sunday after Easter) about the Sacrament of Absolution

    - on the Feast for Saint John the Baptist (June 24th) preaching take place about "the obedient preaching of the Word of God against those Anabaptists who brag so boldly about the prophetic word, Erunt theodidacti, that each should be taught by God Himself and thus despise oral preaching"

    - on All Saints Day about the proper honouring and imitation of the saints

    - on the Feast for Saint Michael and All Angels a general thanksgiving should take place for all the crops that have been received through the year, and the Te Deum Laudamus should be sung as a thanksgiving by the entire congregation after the sermon "in sincerely cordial godliness", and "on the entire day in the morning and before Noon and after the meal should be preached about the angels that each may understand what benefit we have of their service, and how one should always give thanks unto God".

  2. As I recall Walther in his Pastorale makes the comment that the conscientious preacher should carefully plan out his sermons for the year to cover major doctrines of the faith. He doesn't include such a table but I bet he was familiar with and referring to exactly this.


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