Review Essay: The Reform of Baptism and Confirmation in American Lutheranism

As seen in our current journal, Eastertide 2014, Holy Baptism, here is the entire review essay, The Reform of Baptism and Confirmation in American Lutheranism, by Dr. Armand Boehme. Enjoy!

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Holy Baptism

23-2 coverEastertide 2014, Volume XXIII, Number 2
Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: The Baptismal Moment by William Cwirla)

Baptism is not simply a once-and-done event of the past, much less a symbolic ritual act on the part of man for Martin Luther, and for Lutherans holding to the catechism. In the Large Catechism, Luther wrote of the proper use of Holy Baptism over and against the trials and tribulations of the believer in this oft-quoted sentence: “To appreciate and use Baptism aright, we must draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and we must retort, ‘But I am baptized!’ [Ich bin dennoch getauft.] And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body” (LC IV, 44; Tappert, 442). Luther’s great dennoch against the accusations of the law and the pangs of conscience against our sin is faith’s claim to the promise of forgiveness, life, and salvation in baptism. For Luther, and for Lutherans holding to the catechism, baptism is not simply a once-and-done event of the past, much less a symbolic ritual act on the part of man, but a present activity of God bestowing a present identity on the believer with saving consequences for the future.


To say with the catechism “I am baptized” is to lay hold of the promises of God’s Name in the baptismal water. There are promised and delivered all that Christ has done for us men and for our salvation: his “victory over death and devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with his gifts. In short, the blessings of Baptism are so boundless that if timid nature considers them, it may well doubt whether they all could be true” (LC IV, 41–42; Tappert, 441–42).

Baptism is a singular event in time that embraces all of salvation history from beginning to end, a one-time-for-all-times moment (kairos) in which the triune God reaches down from heaven to touch the sinner in his time and place. It is salvation’s “now” and “for you” applied individually and personally, the objective work of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sin of the world offered, delivered, and applied to the individual sinner. What the Father has purposed and willed in his elect Son from before the foundation of the world and what the Son has accomplished and won for all humankind on the cross is here and now delivered and applied by water and Spirit in the triune Name. Here the Infinite and Holy touches the finite and unholy. The eternal “I AM” for whom “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet 3:8)1 breaks into the confines of chronological time. The Creator meets his foremost fallen creature, and all that God has done to save the world in his Son’s death and resurrection comes splashing down upon the sinner’s head in the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit in a singular baptismal moment.

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2014 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions

The Association of Confessional Lutherans and The Luther Academy present

2014 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions

April 30–May 2, 2014

Ramada Inn, Bloomington, MN


Theme: Cousins in Christ: The WELS, LCMS, and ELS

Recent free conferences and synodical conventions have opened the possibility of renewed discussions between the three largest confessional Lutheran synods in the United States; namely, the Wisconsin Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and Missouri Synod. A number of issues remain unresolved from 1961, when these three constituent members of the “Synodical Conference” parted ways and broke church fellowship. Many people wonder: “Have these Lutheran synods moved closer together, or farther apart, in the past 50 years?” and “Is some type of cooperation in externals between these synods possible, or even desirable?” and “If there is doctrinal unity between these synods, is church fellowship possible?” Theologians, professors, and pastors from each of these synods will explore the various issues that still divide these synodical “cousins in Christ.”


Topics & Speakers:

1) The Wisconsin Synod and its relationship with its Confessional Lutheran Peers in the USRev. Prof. Tom Nass, Professor of Hebrew at Martin Luther College (WELS), New Ulm, MN

2) The Evangelical Lutheran Synod and its relationship with its Confessional Lutheran Peers in the US. Rev. James M. Braun (ELS), Pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Yelm, WA; Editorial Associate of LOGIA

3) The Missouri Synod and its relationship with its Confessional Lutheran Peers in the US. Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe, Jr. (LCMS), Second Vice-President of the LCMS; adjunct Professor of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin; retired US Navy Chaplain

4) A History of the Synodical Conference and Its Aftermath, 1868 to the Present. Rev. Dr. Mark Braun (WELS), Professor of Theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI

5) The LCMS and its Military Chaplaincy Today.  Rev. Jonathan E. Shaw (LCMS), Professor at the U.S Army War College, Carlisle, PA; LCMS Army Chaplain

6) The Doctrine of Church and Ministry Today in the LCMS, ELS, & WELS.   Rev. David R. Preus (LCMS), Pastor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Billings, MT

7)  Luther and the Body. Rev. Dr. Charles Cortright (WELS), Professor of Theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI; Secretary of the Luther Academy; Editorial Associate of LOGIA

8) [topic to be determined]. Rev. Dr. Gifford Grobien (LCMS), Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN; Editor of the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics

9) [topic to be determined]. Rev. Dr. Paul Strawn (LCMS), Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Spring Lake Park, MN

For registration forms and more information, click here.

Lutheranism in Australia

23-1 coverEpiphany 2014, Volume XXIII, Number 1
Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: The Long Road to Lutheran Unity in Australia by Erich Renner)

It will be necessary to bear in mind that the following survey will be somewhat selective. Many of the rifts among Lutherans in Australia were of minor significance, the details of which are fully treated and documented in the histories produced by authors in the past. The major divisions and sticking points on the path to unity in congregations, synods, and churches in Australian Lutheranism will receive more concentrated attention. If we look at Lutheran disunity in Australia there were serious issues which, though insignificant in themselves, could not be solved for many years, leaving painful scars on the life of these churches.

Before we explore the Australian Lutheran scene more fully, it may also be useful to remind ourselves that as long as the church of Christ has existed on this earth there have often been deep-seated problems leading to schisms and heresies. For example, the New Testament does not cover up the painful difficulties facing the Apostle Paul in his Corinthian church, where there were Pauline, Petrine, and Apollonic factions and even a Christ fellowship developing and threatening harmony. A study of church history reveals a continuing story of the dissensions that often developed to the detriment of the church at large. Sometimes these divisions were necessary and justified. From a Lutheran perspective the churches of the sixteenth-century Reformation were not spared their share of deformation and division.

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22-4 coverReformation 2013, Volume XXII, Number 4
Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: Adam, Aaron, and the Garden Sanctuary by Robert Hinckley)

A number of significant parallels exist between the garden of Eden and the tabernacle. The contour, substance, and meaning of the garden inform the tabernacle and its service. The reverse also is true; understanding the tabernacle helps one conceptualize the garden. The biblical texts provide a discourse between the two “sanctuaries.” Former studies of the garden as a prototype sanctuary have been topical in approach and more focused on the Temple in Jerusalem. This article will follow the narrative of Genesis 2-3, purposely examining how the garden and Adam’s vocation point to the tabernacle and its service, especially noting the work of Aaron in the holy places.


Adam is created unlike any other creature. He is the consummate work of God, the crown of creation. With regal-like terms, he is made in the “image of God” (Gen 1:27) and is to “subdue” the earth and “rule” over every living thing (Gen 1:28). He is woven into the very design of creation, yet set apart: God has a special task for him, and all creation through him. Where will Adam execute his task? It will begin in a unique place. The Lord planted a garden in Eden, and he put Adam to serve there.

It is not stated exactly where Adam was created, only that “a mist was going up from the land and watering the whole face of the ground” and “the LORD God formed the man” from the soil of this ground (Gen 2:5-7). The ground from which Adam was formed was previously bathed in water. After he was formed, the Lord God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2:7). Directly inspirited by God himself, Adam becomes a “living creature,” the only one whose creation is described in this fashion. Concerning his singular character, Bonhoeffer writes, “Man does not ‘have’ a body; he does not ‘have’ a soul; rather he ‘is’ body and soul.” Adam’s formation immediately precedes the garden narrative, and in this context the divine name first appears (Gen 2:4-7). In lieu of the garden, the introduction of the personal name for God coupled with the unique forming of Adam further illustrates that the man is set apart for a divine purpose.

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Join us for another Lutheran Free Conference!



When: November 6-7, 2013

Where: Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota

Featured Speakers:

Rev. Matthew Harrison, President, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Rev. John Moldstad, President, Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Prof. Steven Paulson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN

Rev. Mark Schroeder, President, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

For more information on the Lutheran Free Conference, go to




NEW BOOK! Propter Christum: Christ at the Center

Propter ChristumAvailable now!

Propter Christum: Christ at the Center

Essays in Honor of Daniel Preus

Retail price: $34.99

Also available as a PDF or a print/PDF bundle

408 pgs, hard cover

Essays included:

Confessional Lutheranism Encounters Pentecostalism in India — Michael J. Albrecht

The Justification of the Ungodly: A Mockery of Simple Justice? — Steven C. Briel

Jesus Working on His Disciples — Jan Bygstad

Luther’s Invocavit Sermons: A Distinction between Internals and Externals, between the Law and the Gospel — Albert B. Collver

Christ at the Center: Johannes Brenz and His Expositio epistolam S. Pauli ad Philippenses — Charles L. Cortright

Martin Luther on Holy Baptism: The Catechism and the Von der Heiligen Taufe Predigten (1534) — Matthew C. Harrison

Bo Giertz on Righteousness in Romans — Charles M. Henrickson

Pastor Daniel Preus: A Soldier of Truth, a Singer of Zion — Vyacheslav Horpynchuck

Witness, Mercy, Life Together — Theodore M.R. Krey

Who Are Those Witnesses Again?: Acts 1:8 in Context — Alan Ludwig

A Contemporary View of Faith and Reason in Luther — Mark C. Mattes

Christ at the Center in Luther’s Interpretation of Old Testament Prophecy and Narratives — John A. Maxfield

Having Jesus on the Mission Field: Reflections on Lutheran Missiology with Christ at the Center — Daniel F. McMiller

Christ Alone — Herbert C. Mueller

Justification and the Pastor’s Daily Work — Scott R. Murray

The History of the Luther Academy — Martin R. Noland

Why Am I a Lutheran? — Martin R. Noland

Center and Periphery in the Lutheran Liturgy: Confessional Identity and Ecumenical Perspective — Darius Petkunas

Christ at the Center: Confessional and Pastoral Christocentricity — Jose A. Pfafenzoeller

The Ordination of Women in Global Perspective — John T. Pless

PREFACE: Daniel Preus: Protecting and Promoting the Lutheran Ethos — Klemet I. Preus

Sheep and Trampled Pearls: Gospel Relief for the Suicidal and the Suicided — Peter E. Preus

Theological Education in International Mission — Timothy C.J. Quill

The Holy Spirit in Christ: Pneumatological Christology as a Ground for a Christ-Centered Pneumatology — Leopoldo A. Sanchez

Cultural and Theological Readjustments and the Survival of Lutheranism — David P. Scaer

Matters of Life and Death: An Attempt at Confessional Contextualization — Wilhelm Weber

The Election by Grace Doctrinal Controversy and Justification — John C. Wohlrabe

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS: Additional postage will be added. Please see our International Shipping policy. You may want to consider ordering the PDF version instead to avoid high shipping costs.

The Holy Spirit

Cover Trinity 2013Holy Trinity 2013, Volume XXII, Number 3
Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: Life in the Spirit of Christ: Models of Sanctification as Sacramental Pneumatology by Leopoldo A. Sanchez)

This essay argues that the Lutheran tradition offers a sacramental approach to the theology of the Holy Spirit that shapes its view of the sanctified life. The term sacramental is used in the broad sense to speak of the Spirit’s work in salvation history through means in creation — fundamentally, through the Son’s own human life and history. Because such a pneumatology is grounded in the identity of the incarnate Christ as the privileged locus of the Holy Spirit, as the bearer and giver of the Spirit of God, we may refer to this sacramental view of the Spirit as an incarnational pneumatology. The term sacramental is also used in the narrow sense in this essay to refer to God’s work through his instituted means of grace, namely, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.1 The Holy Spirit works through ordinary means or signs in creation (that is, water, bread, and wine) not only to deliver God’s word of forgiveness, life, and salvation to us now but also to shape our lives after Christ’s own life in the Spirit. If the forgiveness that God delivers through his means of grace points us to the benefit of the sacrament, the life in the Spirit of Christ that flows from receiving such gifts of salvation refers us to the daily use of the sacrament.

Our argument proceeds in three stages. First, we show that a Nicene approach to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, while interested in drawing the Third Person’s ontological distinction from us, ultimately points to his sanctifying works on our behalf as the basis for acknowledging and confessing his divine equality with the Father and the Son. In a creedal hermeneutic, an important shift is made from the immateriality to the materiality of the Spirit, from ontology to soteriology, which sets the stage for conceiving the Spirit’s work through means in creation to bring about God’s saving purposes.

Second, we argue that a material or incarnational view of the Holy Spirit finds its basis in the affirmation of the Spirit’s inseparable connection to Christ’s own flesh, the incarnate Word’s life and mission. Pneumatology does not only look for the Spirit who comes after Christ, but sees the Spirit already in Christ. In a prominent patristic reading of the Jordan event, Christ’s receiving of the Spirit for us in baptism paves the way in the Father’s plan of salvation for Christ’s giving of the Spirit to us in our baptism.2 There is a chain of salvation, a pneumatological link, between Christology and ecclesiology. We see that a sacramental pneumatology is finally grounded in a pneumatological Christology. In Lutheran theology, Luther’s affirmation of the Holy Spirit’s work through the external word is not merely a polemic move against enthusiasts but is an approach to pneumatology that assumes the Spirit’s inseparable connection to Christ and his words of life.

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Assessing Erlangen

22-2-coverEastertide 2013, Volume XXII, Number 2
Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: Paul Althaus: A Representative of the Erlangen School by Reinhard Slenczka)

As you are coming to the motherland of the Reformation, you will observe that reformation is not only a once-and-for-all event in the history of a church, but it is a necessity within the church ever new. Abuses, errors, and temptations are always new, and the struggle between the true and the false church remains a sign of the church in her existence until the end of this world. Therefore the apostle admonishes the congregation in Rome, as well as us today here and now: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (Latin: reformamini) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Rom 12:2). Conformance and accommodation to the world is the permanent temptation for the church as well as for every Christian. Transformation, however, is God’s gift and a miracle within the church and for every Christian. The Erlangen Faculty, as it existed from 1743 until 2008, is an example of this.

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Scripture & Catholicity: A Lutheran Free Conference

22-1-coverEpiphany 2013, Volume XXII, Number 1
Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: A Conversation between Mark Noll and Hermann Sasse by John T. Pless)

Mark Noll is a sharp-eyed watcher of American Lutheranism from the outside. In numerous essays he has spoken of the ambiguity surrounding what it means to be Lutheran in America. In “American Lutherans Yesterday and Today,” Noll observes: “The history of Lutheranism in America is complex primarily because Lutherans seem to have both easily accommodated to American ways of life, including religious ways of life, and never accommodated to American ways.” How about that for the proverbial Lutheran paradox? A new twist on the simul — American and un-American!

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