The Lord be with you
Concordia Publishing House published three milestone volumes last year. The first is a new edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. The second and third comprise the two volume Confessing the Gospel: A Lutheran Approach to Systematic Theology . The spring 2018 issue of concordia journal focuses on these new works. As of right now, this current issue of concordia journal has not been posted on-line, but when it is it will be found at: https://concordiatheology.org/category/cj-online/cj-pdf-archives/.
The concordia journal certainly makes all volumes sound attractive. The edition of the Small Catechism is specifically targeted at making it more useable for personal devotions, developing Bible studies, using in a confirmation class, and especially in addressing the sorts of questions we face in everyday life. It also targets many issues that simply were not on the radar when the last explanation was written. Members of Our Redeemer might recall how CPH reached out to all congregations, including us, asking us to review and supply our response to the new explanation. CPH received over a 1,000 responses, mostly noting typos and the like but some more substantive. These responses were all read and considered, and some of those more substantive suggestions were adopted. The new explanation was also reviewed by the seminaries. To my knowledge, no earlier explanation of the Small Catechism has undergone such extensive review before publishing. The articles in the journal give the history behind such expansions of the Small Catechism and the rational behind the new structure.
Confessing the Gospel is intended to supplement Francis Pieper’s seminal three-volume work, Christian Dogmatics. If you have ever read Pieper’s work, you may wonder why a supplement is needed. After all, he covered so much and did it so well, and truth doesn’t change. While this is true, the times do change. Many issues have arisen in the United States that Pieper simply could not have foreseen. Who, in 1900 America, thought of the environmental movement, the LBGT movement, the rapid decline of children living without both their parents, the rise of the “Left Behind” eschatology, the decline in the authority of the Bible among those professing to be Christian, and the like? Yet that is the day and age we live in. Confessing the Gospel seeks to present a Lutheran approach to such new challenges while reaffirming historic truth for which we have always stood.
Confessing the Gospel has developed a new approach to its presentations of topics. Under each topic it first presents all relevant scripture passages. Secondly it presents all relevant passages from the Lutheran Confessions. In the third section is presents a reasoned presentation of the foregoing material. In the final section there are a number of questions for reflection. As such, the book is well suited for those hoping to develop Bible studies. (This is actually the approach most of us pastors use in developing Bible studies and sermons.)
Confessing the Gospel was begun in the 1980’s by a Synod Convention resolution, and the work has been ongoing. Some of the contributors have since gone to be with the Lord. The individuals who have worked on this systematics have been drawn from all over the world and so represent a truly global Lutheran approach. The danger of using many authors is that the book can become disjointed. Concordia journal assures us that this potential pitfall has been avoided. Concordia journal also informs us of the extensive review process that Confessing the Gospel went through to assure its faithfulness to the truth.
I already own a copy of the new catechism, and I plan to purchase a copy of Confessing the Gospel. You may want to do the same.
Blessings in Christ