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.Read More
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.Read More
Many American Lutherans have rejected Luther because of his alleged anti-Semitism or supposed hatred of the Jews — even formally condemning him twice for this at national conventions in 1974 (American Lutheran Church) and 1994 (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).Read More
The editors hereby request article manuscripts, book reviews, and LOGIA Forum material for the following upcoming issues of the print journal. Please click here to see our submission guidelines.
—by Martin Noland
“These are a few of my favorite things . . .” (Rogers and Hammerstein, from The Sound of Music). That’s one of a few of my favorite songs from the 1960s. When it comes to LOGIA, I have great difficulty pruning the list of “favorite articles” down to a few. It sounds too much like “Gospel reductionism” for my taste. The editors have indulged me, so here, for what it is worth, is my personal list of forty articles published by LOGIA that made the journal what it is today, just in time for LOGIA's 20th Anniversary CD, available for pre-order here. Individual issues are located here. They are listed in consecutive order.
Hermann Sasse, “The Church’s Confession,” tr. Matthew Harrison LOGIA 1 #1 (Reformation 1992): 5-8.
Erling Teigen, “The Universal Priesthood in the Lutheran Confessions,” LOGIA 1 #1 (Reformation 1992): 9-16.
John T. Pless, “Toward a Confessional Lutheran Understanding of Liturgy,” LOGIA 2 #2 (Eastertide 1993): 9-13.
Richard C. Resch, “Church Music at the Close of the Twentieth Century: The Entanglement of Sacred and Secular,” LOGIA 2 #2 (Eastertide 1993): 21-27.
Gerald Krispin, “Paul Gerhardt: Confessional Subscription and the Lord’s Supper,” LOGIA 4 #3 (Holy Trinity 1995): 25-38.
Ronald Feuerhahn, “Hermann Sasse & North American Lutheranism,” LOGIA 4 #4 (Reformation 1995): 11-24.
Matthew Harrison, “Hermann Sasse and EKiD—1848: The Death of the Lutheran Church,” LOGIA 4 #4 (Reformation 1995): 41-48.
Joel Brondos, “The Holy Things for the Holy Ones,” LOGIA 5 #1 (Epiphany 1996): 15-24.
Leigh Jordahl, “J. A. O. Preus,” LOGIA 5 #2 (Eastertide 1996): 45-49.
Robert D. Preus, “A Sermon on Revelation 7:13-17,” LOGIA 5 #3 (Holy Trinity 1996): 5-6.
David P. Scaer, “In Memoriam: Robert D. Preus,” LOGIA 5 #3 (Holy Trinity 1996): 7-8.
David P. Scaer, “Commemoration Sermon for Dr. Robert D. Preus,” LOGIA 5 #3 (Holy Trinity 1996): 9-10.
David P. Scaer, “Formula of Concord X: A Revised, Enlarged, and Slightly Amended Edition,” LOGIA 6 #4 (Reformation 1997): 27-34.
David P. Scaer, “Missouri at the End of the Century: A Time for Reevaluation,” LOGIA 7 #1 (Epiphany 1998): 39-52.
Matthew Harrison, “Lutheran Missions Must Lead to Lutheran Churches,” LOGIA 7 #3 (Holy Trinity 1998): 29-34.
Charles L. Cortright, “Luther and Erasmus: The Debate on the Freedom of the Will,” LOGIA 7 #4 (Reformation 1998): 7-12.
John G. Nordling, “A Lutheran Goes to Rome,” LOGIA 7 #3 (Epiphany 1999): 39-43.
Tom G. A. Hardt, “The Confessional Principle: Church Fellowship in the Ancient and in the Lutheran Church,” LOGIA 8 #2 (Eastertide 1999): 21-30.
John T. Pless, “Liturgy and Pietism—Then and Now,” LOGIA 8 #4 (Reformation 1999): 19-28.
Daniel Preus, “The Place of the Luther Academy in Today’s World,” LOGIA 9 #1 (Epiphany 2000): 27-34.
Steven Hein, “Tentatio,” LOGIA 10 #2 (Eastertide 2001): 33-42.
Paul T. McCain, “Receiving the Gifts of Christ with Thankfulness and Faithfulness: Thoughts on the Bride of Christ’s Royal Priesthood and Holy Ministry,” LOGIA 10 #3 (Holy Trinity): 9-12.
John G. Nordling, “Why Should I Learn Latin When Everything Has Already Been Translated Into English,” LOGIA 11 #2 (Eastertide 2002): 27-34.
Hermann Sasse, “Union and Confession (March 1934),” tr. Gerald Krispin LOGIA 11 #4 (Reformation 2002): 5-8.
Norman Nagel, “Lured from the Water, the Little Fish Perish,” LOGIA 12 #1 (Epiphany 2003): 5-10.
John W. Kleinig, “The Lord’s Supper as a Sacrificial Banquet,” LOGIA 12 #1 (Epiphany 2003): 11-16.
Kurt Marquart, “The Issue of Church Fellowship and Unionism in the Missouri Synod and Its Associated Churches,” LOGIA 12 #1 (Epiphany 2003): 17-26.
Daniel Preus, “Church Discipline in Early Missouri and Lutheran Identity,” LOGIA 12 #1 (Epiphany 2003): 27-34.
Erling T. Teigen, “Ecumenism as Fellowship and Confession in the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America,” LOGIA 12 #2 (Eastertide 2003): 5-16.
Daniel Preus, “How Can We Give a Witness for Jesus Christ in the Public Square while Avoiding the Errors of Unionism and Syncretism,” LOGIA 12 #3 (Holy Trinity 2003): 17-22.
Reinhard Slenczka, “Magnus Consensus: The Unity of the Church in the Truth and Society’s Pluralism,” LOGIA 13 #3 (Holy Trinity 2004): 21-40.
James L. Brauer, “Trusty Steed or Trojan Horse? The Common Service in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book,” 14 #3 (Holy Trinity 2005): 21-30.
Harold Senkbeil, “Till the Trumpets Sound: Hold Fast and Hold Forth,” LOGIA 15 #2 (Eastertide 2006): 17-28.
James A. Nestingen, “Failing Structures, Vibrant Hopes,” LOGIA 15 34 (Reformation 2006): 15-18.
Wilhelm Loehe, “Three Pieces on the Deaconess,” tr. Holger Sonntag LOGIA 16 #2 (Eastertide 2007): 21-26.
Jon Steffen Bruss, “Melanchthon and the Wittenberg Reception of Hellenism, 1518-1526: Bonae Literae et Renascentes Musae,” LOGIA 17 #4 (Reformation 2008): 7-12.
Klemet Preus, “Doctrine and Practice: Resisting the Influence of Evangelicalism,” LOGIA 18 #2 (Eastertide 2009): 13-22.
Gottfried Martens, “JDDJ After Ten Years,” LOGIA 18 #3 (Holy Trinity 2009): 11-26.
Gregory Schulz, “On Terminating the Church’s Professors,” LOGIA 19 #4 (Reformation 2010): 13-20.
Jobst Schoene, “Does Luther Have a Future in Germany?” LOGIA 20 #1 (Epiphany 2011): 5-12.
Which birthday are we celebrating? How many birthdays has Logia had? Of water or of the Spirit? There is evidence of the Spirit. Is that then “born again”? How many years to “the age of discretion”? With that might come the recognition that a Christian surely knows his birth from his baptism.Read More
God speaks Hebrew. Of course, our holy book consists, by and large, of the Hebrew Scriptures. To understand Jesus, you must know him as Yahweh, the Lord of Israel. For good reason, then, Matthew proclaims Jesus to be the promised seed of Abraham, the fulfillment of Israel’s history.Read More
Epiphany 2012, Volume XXI, Number 1
(A feature article from the journal: Confessional Fidelity by Bo Giertz)
Ruben Josefson takes the designation "confessional" from those in the current debate concerning women pastors who have incorrectly taken the title for themselves, and gives it back to those who deserve to wear it.
So says Ingmar Strom in Woman, Society, Church concerning Ruben Josefson's essay, "The Evangelical-Lutheran Position," in the same book. Thus, those are truly "confessional" who find no opposition in the Bible or the Confessions to opening the office of the ministry to women. One who honestly desires to be faithful to the Confessions naturally listens with interest. More so, his own faith and work as a pastor stand endlessly in debt to the Confessions. If it is true that it can be shown with good reason that our Confessions represent a view of Christianity and biblical interpretation that naturally leads to introducing women pastors at an appropriate time, then this whole controversy can be ended — certainly a relief for all parties involved. What are the reasons, then?
I. LUTHER'S VIEW OF THE BIBLE
Josefson first presents the Lutheran view of the Bible. At all essential points, the view presented is in line with "Neo-Protestantism," for lack of a better term. Luther, it is said, not only claimed Scripture as the authority against Rome, but also gave rise to a new understanding of the Bible: one that signifies a radical break with the view that the Bible is a formal authority. Scripture's authority is contingent upon the content of the message about Christ as the Lord of forgiveness. The Bible and individual parts of the Bible have no authority simply because they can be traced to the prophets and apostles are authors, but rather they become apostolic and foundational for the church by conveying the message of Christ. "Whatever preaches Christ, that is apostolic."
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by Jobst Schöne, Berlin, Germany
Editors Note--This is a greatly abbreviated version of a full-length article from the Epiphany 2011 issue of the same name.
Germany: the homeland of the (Lutheran) Reformation. Is it a Christian country? Forget it. What about a Lutheran nation? Not at all. If this was ever the case, it certainly is no longer so. Today Germany has a largely secularized and unchurched population. Some fifty years ago, ninety-six percent of Germans belonged to one of two predominant churches, the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Church (the latter being partly of Lutheran, of Reformed, and of United traditions). Nowadays, less than two-thirds of Germany’s citizens still hold a church membership, at least on paper, and their numbers are constantly shrinking. In the last eighteen years, the Protestants lost 3.8 million members and the Roman Catholics 2.2 million. Church attendance on an average Sunday is down to 3.8 percent of the members in the Protestant churches, while the Roman Catholics are only slightly better off. As a whole, Christians in Germany are losing ground dramatically, moving quickly toward a shrinking minority.
Statistics, however, demonstrate only part of the changes taking place. Germany’s foremost newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, recently published a lengthy article entitled “What is Going to Happen to the Churches?” by Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, a Protestant systematician at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.1 He deplored the almost complete lack of intellectual integrity among church leaders, along with their poverty of realistic self-perception and theological seriousness. This crisis is a very deep one. What characterizes German churches, according to Graf, are feelings of well-being, emotions, moralism, and the attitude of the “prophetic know-it-all,” confronting the poor churchgoer with all the misery of the Third World and making him feel responsible for it. Sadly, this is typical of legalistic preaching that cannot properly distinguish law and gospel.
It is no wonder that this sort of church environment has created a widespread and growing attitude of “believing without belonging,” now found all over Europe. This phenomenon is perhaps better understood as an unwillingness to support a church that does not know how to communicate the gospel—how to preach salvation—and that has no better message to proclaim than the one illustrated above. The situation is bleak enough even without the numerous cases of child abuse in churches and Christian schools and homes that have recently been disclosed. These and various other scandals are altogether undermining confidence in the representatives of the church (and not only in those of the Roman Catholic Church).
Lutheranism in Germany has been totally marginalized. Certainly a few Lutheran remnants with a number of “conservative” and faithful pastors and their congregations can still be found in the Landeskirchen (that is, the former state churches), and within a church like the SELK (the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church), but mainstream Protestantism has lost its confessional orientation almost completely. Churches are generally considered to be nothing but assemblies of like-minded fellow believers, brooding over shared needs and problems that they experience in this world, but lacking a focus on eternal salvation. The inherited order of worship is almost gone; ancient hymns and the songs of our fathers are no longer sung. These have been replaced by contemporary forms, songs, and music that in the meantime have proven to be more destructive than helpful.
Among the upper circles a widespread feeling of helplessness is to be found, as the leadership does not know how to fight the church’s decline. In 2006, the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany, comprising all former Protestant state churches) published an “impulse paper” outlining the outlook for the twenty-first century. The experts who wrote this lengthy statement had a clear vision of what is to come: decline in membership by one-third in the next twenty years, a loss of half of the church taxes (the foremost financial basis for EKD member churches) from the current four billion Euros to only two billion, and a necessary cut in the number of clergy by one-third. Overall it is a rather depressing scenario, revealing the depth of the crisis and calling for repentance and a change of heart. But what do the experts recommend? They call for the churches “to risk and cultivate more freedom,” to praise “inward plurality” as a “simultaneous temptation and blessing of Protestantism”; they strive after a “church of freedom and individuality.”2 One may wonder if it will still be the church of the apostles, the martyrs, and the great teachers of the past—the church Luther sought to cleanse, the church that Löhe and Walther had in mind.
With such a document in hand, it is easy to lose confidence in the future of an Evangelical church in Germany, not to mention the future of a Lutheran one. Once the Scriptures and the Confessions are no longer needed to clarify the church’s identity, their confessional profile is indeed lost and surrendered to modern pluralism. Thus we might have to accept that Christian churches in general, and a Lutheran church in particular, will gradually disappear from the public scene in Germany. There seems to be no need for the church any longer. A few years ago Johannes Gross, a well-known and brilliant German journalist and editor, and an accurate observer of public life (also, by the way, a member of the Lutheran Church), made a remarkable assertion. He claimed that the Protestant and Lutheran churches would not survive the twenty-first century; only the Roman Catholic Church will be left. Perhaps he was too negative or even altogether wrong with his prognosis; perhaps some small groups, some small churches will remain. So, too, the Lutherans, though marginalized.
Does Luther have a future in Germany? There is reason enough for skepticism. Yet on the other hand we are reminded of what Luther himself once expressed so clearly: “It is not we who can preserve the church, neither could our ancestors do so, nor will our descendents. Instead, it was and still is and will be he who speaks: ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’”3 Does Luther have a future in Germany? If God desires it, he will have one—in Germany and elsewhere.
1. Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, “Was wird aus den Kirchen?” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (1 April 2010), 35–36.
2. Kirche der Freiheit: Perspektiven für die evangelische Kirche im 21. Jahrhundert: Ein Impulspapier des Rates der EKD, ed. Kirchenamt der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (Hannover, 2006). Quotations: “…mehr Freiheit wagen und gestalten” (34); “Die innere Pluralität der evangelischen Kirche ist zugleich Versuchung und Segen des Protestantismus” (50); “…in der evangelischen Kirche—eine Kirche der Freiheit und Individualität” (86).
3. WA 50: 476.31–35: “Denn wir sind es doch nicht, die da kündten die Kirche erhalten, unser Vorfahrn sind es auch nicht gewesen, Unser nachkomen werdens auch nicht sein, Sondern der ists gewest, Jsts noch, wirds sein, der da spricht: Jch bin bey euch bis zur welt ende,…” (“Wider die Antinomer,” 1539).
Because Luther’s doctrine of justification belongs to the broad stream of the Augustinian doctrine of grace in the West, we can see what is distinctive about it by noticing how it differs from Augustine’s teaching.Read More
Through two decades teaching Religious Bodies in Canada, I mostly agreed with Norman Nagel’s informed assessment of the confessional makeup of Anglican Christendom.Read More