Saturday, June 18, 2005

Refresh and Expand your Knowledge of the Christian Faith!

~~~This article will appear in my church newsletter next week, and I thought I'd ask for any last-minute corrections, additions, improvements from any of you bloggers. I'm hoping to generate an interest in the Book of Concord among the members, many who might not even know what it is. I'm including (on my blog only) a link to and old post I wrote about the analogy (not my own) of the Confessions being like a map to the Bible. Your thoughts are appreciated! ~~~

Titus 2:1, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.” As Christians we have both the joy and the responsibility of teaching sound doctrine. The pastors and teachers of the church are given this responsibility in a public office, and parents are to do the same in the home among their family. Learning the doctrine (teachings) of Scripture is a joy for Christians because all of doctrine is centered around Jesus Christ and the working of God’s salvation for us through Him. As we study the Scripture and the teachings therein, we grow in our faith and knowledge and are strengthened for our daily living. And the teaching of sound or wholesome doctrine, and the avoidance of what is false, is also a great part of our responsibility, as St. Paul wrote to Titus.

But as happens all too often, we as Christians sometimes find ourselves struggling to understand the big picture of Scripture, and how all the different parts of the Bible fit together. Sometimes this may even make us reluctant to tell the message of the Gospel to others, be they friends, neighbors, family, or co-workers, because we are afraid that we might embarrass ourselves. Maybe we don’t feel confident enough in how well we understand the Bible; maybe we fear that we will say something wrong; maybe we’re afraid that we won’t be able to answer a person’s questions. For all of these reasons and more, its important that we as Christians study and grow in our faith. To do so, we must begin with diligent reading and study of the Bible, and regular hearing of the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Furthermore, we can and should take advantage of other resources and books to aid us in refreshing and expanding our knowledge of the Christian faith.

It is for that reason that I want to take advantage of this month’s newsletter to inform everyone of a special offer from Concordia Publishing House. One of the most excellent resources we as Lutherans have for studying the Christian faith is now being made available in a specially designed new format for laity (that’s you!), and that book is the Book of Concord. Concordia Publishing House is releasing this month, a new edition of the Book of Concord, titled Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions-A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. Some of you, no doubt, may ask: “What is the Book of Concord? And how can it help me grow in my Christian faith?” Well, the Book of Concord is the collection of the Confessions of the Lutheran Church at the time of the Reformation. The Confessions are the public statements of what our church believes concerning our Christian faith. They provide a “collective confession of what the Scriptures are saying, what they mean, how they are to be used, how the various truths in the Scriptures fit together and support one another. The Confessions are a road map, a traveler’s guide, a rule of faith for understanding the Holy Scriptures” (quote taken from Rev. Paul McCain, CPH interim CEO).

And what makes this new edition of the Book of Concord so unique is that it is specially designed with the layperson in mind, to make it accessible and reader-friendly. It includes thorough Scripture-referencing, glossaries of names, places, and terms, Biblical and Reformation artwork, a one-year reading schedule, and many other features that make it easy to use and understand. The Book of Concord functions like a 'road map’ to the Bible, topically arranging the teachings of Scripture and explaining that ‘sound doctrine’ that St. Paul urged Titus to teach. I want to emphasize how much you as a lay-person can benefit in the growing and enriching of your faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ through the study of the Book of Concord alongside your regular study of the Bible. Not only will it help you to better understand your Christian faith, but it will give you comfort in the knowledge of God’s salvation for us in Christ Jesus, and it may even embolden you to share your faith as you get a better grasp of what we believe. I think this new reader’s edition of the Book of Concord will make an excellent addition to every Christian’s home library, and you can check CPH’s special offer out for yourself at www.cph.org/concordia . They are offering it this first year of publication for the special price of $20, which is a very reasonable price for such a valuable resource. CPH will also be sending a copy to each LCMS church this month, and so you may get a chance to look it over before you buy. I hope that everyone takes advantage of this great opportunity to refresh and to grow in their Christian faith and Lutheran heritage.

5 comments:

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Good letter.

One thing I would like to see mentioned generally in the Lutheran blogosphere and Bible study is that the congregation of a church is a check on the message that a Pastor gives. In this world, not even a Pastor with a masters in Greek is perfect, so a Pastor's work must be evaluated against Scripture. Unfortunately, there is no way to do that unless the congregation (especially the elders but really the confirmed membership) can examine doctrine and Scripture and defend it themselves. Not too many of us laity understand Greek, Hebrew, or Latin. Scripture scatters its comments on any particular topic all over the OT and NT, so our most convenient check for correctness is with the English translation of the Book of Concord.

In this manner people are more participatory; not only should they know the Word for themselves but they should also use it. We don't call Pastors to see the Greatest Show on Earth.

Joe Fremer said...

Josh,

What a great idea to inform the newsletter readership about Concordia. I think I will do the same.

I like the map analogy a great deal. I often use it in trying to help people understand a pre-postmodern concept of "truth"--truth is a map which correctly represents the territory.

The perspicuity of Scripture means that the map is not only true, it is clear enough for people to be able to get around without a guide who has a graduate degree in orienteering.

As to quia and quatenus: can you imagine the National Geographic Society, or AAA for that matter, issuing a map without first sending out field agents to ensure that Mt. Rushmore is where they show it? Can you imagine a map with a disclaimer: "This map is accurate, except where it isn't"? The map consumers--our flocks--have a right to expect that the field agents (that's us) have done the fact-checking to unreservedly endorse the accuracy of the confessional atlas. Quatenus subscription is like a field agent whose idea of fact-checking is to log on to Mapquest...

Shalom!

Josh Schneider said...

Joe, great thoughts! I like the example of a map with a disclaimer :) It really is preposterous when we sit down and examine what a quatenus subscription really entails (or doesn't ;)

Tom W said...

Josh,

It is clear that many in our church, not just laity, have drifted from The Confessions to other confessions. I wholeheartedly agree with encouraging people to buy and use this book. I would also encourage pastors to begin using it as a part of their Bible Classes, so that people see how to use it, and help them over the "rough spots" when they see that their practice has indeed drifted over the centuries.
Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

For a newsletter I would change 2 things. 1. get rid of the word laity and just say "for you" 2. Do not give room for the confessions to be merely a document of history. They are the confessions of the Lutheran Church WRITTEN at the time of the reformation.

Peace