Category Archives: Translation

Not So Secretly and All Too Often

The apostle [Paul] says: “Persist with reading!” (1 Timothy 4:13) Therefore it is necessary to read, and diligently, regularly read [Scripture], and read everything that is written, all the Scriptures from beginning to end, and read what is read again and again so that one, when one is finished with the Bible, immediately goes back to the beginning. Joshua, the leader of Israel who was at the same time to teach the people the ways of the Lord, had the command of God: “Let the Book of the Law not depart from your mouth, but contemplate it day and night!” (Joshua 1:8) This is also said to us. It is not enough when a pastor lets himself be satisfied with the daily lectionary, with which he as head of the household edifies his family in morning and evening prayers. No, servants of the Word, theologians, have the special command of God: “Persist with reading!” And if a preacher also is occupied from morning to evening for the work of the [preaching] office, then he should just not forget that reading, persistent reading is also an duty of the [preaching] office. Lack of time is no excuse. We should simply make the best use of our time. Even longer or shorter offical travels absolutely should not hinder “persistent” reading. Just as every Roman [Catholic] priest takes his Brevarium, so every evangelical preacher can take his New Testament with him on his travels. Every theologian should be versed in Scripture and be at home anywhere in it. About Luther it is praised that he has been a more excellent Localis, i.e., every saying in Scripture could be found immediately. Whoever diligently reads in many cases saves the trouble of pouring over concordances. A famous theologian of this [19th] century has testified about himself that he had not gained his knowledge of Scripture from many books and commentaries, but chiefly from the Scriptures themselves, from lectio continua.

Georg Stöckhardt, “On the Theologian’s Study of Scripture” (Vom Schriftstudium der Theologen). Translated by DMJ

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Preaching

The preacher should never ascend the pulpit without honest preparation.

The ability truly to preach in accordance with the divine will and with fruit for souls is not the work of human diligence or the result of regulations of any science. It is a gift of God and primarily has its foundation in Him, as Philipp Melanchthon has correctly opined…. Nevertheless God also demands from us diligence. For it would not only be a sign of negligence on the part of the Christian speaker, but also of audacity, when he will make so very serious and divine things into the object of his words and nevertheless would not be prepared to speak and give his address without proper meditation. St. Paul instructs the latter in 1 Timothy 4:15, where he says, ταῦτα μελέτα, “Practice these things.” (Vulgate: Haec meditare.) Μελέτη τὸ πᾶν, “Take care of everything”, says Periander of Corinth.[1] It is said that the Athenian orator Pericles had not complied with the repeated request of the people since he, as he said, was not prepared (λέγων ἀσύντακτον εἶναι). And as Demosthenes was invited by the Athenians to give them some advice, he there refused them with the words: οὐ συντέταγμαι, he had not deliberated the matter with himself.[2] Even Tullius (Cicero) writes about himself that he had not ascended the rostrum without preparation. How much more should those who want to take on or already have taken on the office to instruct Christian people take great pains that they do not presumptuously and inconsiderately jabber out [herausschwatzen] everything that comes into their mind and on their tongue when they preach a sermon and thus shamefully dishonor this exalted office in the sight of God, the holy angels, and the Church.

[1] Trans. note: This has sometimes been mistranslated as “Practice makes perfect.” One may also translate it as “Preparation is everything” or “Study everything”.

[2] Trans. note: A translation of the Greek phrase could be “I have not prepared myself”.

– From J.A. Quenstedt’s “Ethica Pastoralis”, translated from the Latin by E.W. Kähler, translated from German by DMJ from Volume One of “Magazin für Ev-Luth. Homiletik und Pastoraltheologie” Note: A work in progress.

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No Programs, No Magic Bullets. Only Pastoral Care Will Do It.

When a pastor teaches and allures and appeals and warns in such a proper evangelical way [toward a proper and diligent use of the Lord’s Supper], and also does not forget to hand over this whole matter and every individual soul who is in danger to God in prayer, to petition again and again for the proper pastoral wisdom and prudence of the Great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, then God’s Word will bestow its power, and he will find out how many cheerfully and willingly again return and allure and compel themselves to appear at the table of grace of their Savior.

– Georg Mezger, “How Should A Pastor Exhort His Congregation and Individual Members Toward A Proper and Diligent Use of the Lord’s Supper?” Translated by DMJ

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A Christmas Hymn That Had Better Make The Cut for the Next LCMS Hymnal

(sung to the tune of “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright)

O Prince of David’s lineage born!
O Bridegroom of my soul forlorn!
My Life and my Salvation:
How can I e’er give thanks to Thee,
Who in my mis’ry soughtest me –
How make due reparation?
Now is / All bliss:
Grief, man seeth, / Wholly fleeth;
Joy is thriving
For the Prince of Peace arriving.

Though full of gladness now I sing,
No fitting gift I know to bring
The Child of God’s selection!
Receive, dear Son of God’s own heart,
My heart, and claim it, every part,
And kindle mine affection!
Let me / Kiss Thee,
Son and Savior! / Hold me ever,
Fill and move me,
That I ever hold and love Thee.

Stay, worthiest Treasure, Crown of pride!
O Thou my Bliss, with me abide,
Thou Hope of hearts afflicted!
Thou Dew of heav’n, Thy fruit endow;
O sweetest Manna, visit now
The humble and dejected!
Keep Thy / Light nigh,
Lest earth darken; / Let us hearken,
And forever
See it shine and lose it never.

– P. von Zesen (+1689), translated by Matthew Carver

from “Walther’s Hymnal“, Hymn 38

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Betray Your Love, But Not Your Faith

A rough translation of the final paragraph of “Ein Abfall” (A Defection), C.F.W. Walther’s commentary in “Der Lutheraner” concerning the taking leave of Eduard Preuß from the Evangelical Lutheran Church to the Roman Catholic Church in 1871. Translation by DMJ.

You ask, dear reader, whether we regret to have accepted the unfortunate Preuß and trusted him as long as we could? We answer: No, we do not regret it. The Christian way is that they let their love be easily betrayed, but never their faith. It is true: mistrustful, suspicious dispositions in experience usually win their case because men are so evil; but that is why the mistrustful are not on solid ground. Love, as long as it can, believes the best of the neighbor. We therefore have only one desire: that God, Whose door of grace always remains open in this life, have mercy on the one deeply fallen and remove him, if not sooner, even in the hour of death, from the idol that he now worships and calls Mary, and be brought around again, and may be delivered as a brand from the fire, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our only Mediator, to Whom be all praise and glory in time and eternity. Amen.

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We Sinners Need A Savior

Good stuff here. This should not just be a Lententide thing. This should be an every Sunday thing.

1. Jesus is a Savior of their souls

a. [John 6:1-15] testifies to [Jesus] as the Savior of souls. For according to the account of Matthew and Mark Christ withdrew with His disciples into the wilderness in order to rest. But when He saw the crowds streaming out from the mountain, He had compassion toward their spiritual need; because they were like sheep that have no shepherd, and He began a long sermon. What else will have been the content of His preaching than the sweet Gospel, that He had come to seek the lost, to save sinners? He will have preached to the languishing ones under the curse of the Law that they should find rest for their souls in Him, that He is the true Shepherd Who now wants to attend to His flock Himself. This comforting Gospel led the publicans and sinners for to him that Mary Magdalene at his feet, Zaccheus in the mulberry tree, only in order to have at least his comforting perspective, led a great part of the people to Him in the wilderness;

b. the entire Old Testament testifies to Him as the Savior of souls; even the first promise about Him in Genesis 3:15, that He crushes the serpent’s head, i.e. would destroy the devil’s kingdom and works and redeem souls from it; therefore he is called Abraham’s blessing because he takes the curse from sinners, and should make them again to the blessed ones of His Father; that is why Isaiah rejoices: “To us a Child is born” etc.;

c. His life and His innocent death testifies to Him as the Savior of souls; because by his holy life He has fulfilled the Law for us and acquired righteousness that avails before God; through suffering and death He has expiated and taken away sin, guilt and punishment. That is why He sealed the word: “It is accomplished!” with His glorious resurrection and ascension, as well as through the outpouring of His Holy Spirit and establishing His Church in the entire world; for what else is the same but the community of those who are brought by faith in Him from the devil’s kingdom into God’s kingdom, become pardoned, blessed children of God and heirs of eternal life?

Who is there now among us, who recognizes himself as a forlorn sinner, who would not take his refuge in this Savior? Once He redeems them, He calls them all to Himself, without distinction, young and old sinners, great and small, honest and immoral, a pious John on His breast and a thief on the cross to His right, a denying Peter and a bloodthirsty Saul. All who ever came to him, He has gathered as the true Savior, all gratefully boast: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Why will you not come to Him? As in no one else – salvation and blessedness is certain in Him for everyone.

– Part of a sermon outline for the Fourth Sunday in Lent (John 6:1-15) by Otto Hanser from 1885. Translated by DMJ

C.F.W. Walther: Lutheran Is As Lutheran Does

Note: This short commentary appears in the 1862 edition of “Lehre und Wehre”, the Missouri Synod’s German language theological journal. Dr. Walther writes about what some in the General Synod (now part of the ELCA) call “Symbolism”. Symbolism means adherence to Symbols such as the Augsburg Confession, the Creeds, the Smalcald Articles, etc. In other words, Symbolism is clinging to “old” Lutheranism rather than the “New Measures” of Samuel Simon Schmucker, Benjamin Kurtz, and others in the General Synod. Dr. Walther’s comments here are still relevant today as they were over 150 years ago. His words should give us pause to consider our practices in the light of sola Scriptura, sola fide, and the doctrine of justification. All errors of translation are mine. Enjoy! DMJ+

Symbolism” – In the Lutheran Observer of March 21 a writer under the pseudonym “Spener” seeks to prove the barrenness of the so-called Symbolism in the small influence that the same and others has expressed to the German population of St. Louis, Missouri. He writes: “The case in St. Louis is an eye-catching one, because there the old Symbolic system of Europe has been in effect without hindrance and disruption for more than twenty years; and in twenty years it has brought 5,000 into the church from about 60,000 Lutherans from Europe! A sad testimony for Symbolism! – We do not wish to be understood as if we wanted to blame our brethren of the old symbolic party, and especially not of Saint Louis, because after all, what we know of them, they are good, learned and pious men. The system is wrong, and it is the system against which we fight. It is the system that one calls sacramental, specifically in a nutshell: the child is born again through baptism and therefore a member of the body of Christ; and falling from grace, what happens with all, the child is confirmed at the age of 12 or 14, generally without moral qualification, takes part in the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper and is thus fed by mouth with spiritual food. In this country, where people read and think they’ll soon see that this is certainly something other than the religion which Christ and his apostles taught, and as soon as they are enlightened by the Spirit of God, turn themselves away from it with disgust and go to other churches where Biblical Christianity prevails. Hence the success of Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and even Congregationalists among Germans. If you want to convert Germans, then you must preach conversion to God and faith in Jesus Christ and not confessional religion, through whose preaching they have been hardened in sin. They have already heard enough of that in Germany. Now this is the system that supports ‘Lutheran and Missionary’. It is true, this symbolic journal is too perceptive to go out boldly and defend such a system that is contradictory to the Bible; it gilds the pill; it has mixed some of the spiritual life and the energy of the other churches in the country with its sacramental religion. But the thing will not take effect; the two cannot go together. Sacramental religion is all or nothing; as a system it will not allow mixing with other systems; like Rome it must stand or fall by its own merits. If it is true that baptism regenerates the child, and the worship of the Church (the Lord’s Supper with included) has the duty to lead the regenerate child to heaven without repentance or faith, then they, who work for the conversion of souls to the biblical way, are great fools. The Lutheran Church has never been with this system and will never be able to provide their children with spiritual food [with this system]. The food that the immortal soul requires is not in this system. The crucified Christ, in all His offices, is what poor sinners need. The Lutheran Church in Germany and in this country needs religious revivals. Nothing else will save them. With the editor of the ‘Lutheran’ I am an admirer of the Augsburg Confession, he must only let me interpret it according to my sense, as I permit him [to interpret it according to his sense]. It is a noble deed, and receives all its moral strength from the Bible and is valuable only because of its conformity with the Bible.” So far the writer in the Observer.

We share this drivel as a means of demonstrating namely what Lutherans born of the General Synod have as ideas about the so-called system of the old Lutheran Church. Because the old Lutheran Church (according to clear word of God) believes and teaches that Holy Baptism is the washing of regeneration, the Lord’s Supper is the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, the absolution of servants of the Church is God’s forgiveness, then those people mean that the old Lutheran Church consequently teaches a salvation “without repentance and faith” through the opus operatum of the use of the Sacraments, through a mechanical efficacy of the Sacraments, as the Papists teach! This is a rather gross misunderstanding. The old Lutheran Church indeed teaches, and we with her, that the Holy Sacraments, along with absolution and the Word, chiefly have not only a significative, but also an equally collative (communicative), as well as effective (bringing forth inner spiritual effects) power. In other words, both are God’s hands that present to us the gifts of grace purchased by Christ alone, as well as to work, awaken, maintain, and strengthen the necessary faith for the apprehension of these gifts of grace as man’s hand. But she also teaches that man can resist the effects of these means of grace, and to the person who does not produce these effects in himself, the sacrament, absolution, Word does not help, yes, it serves to him as an odor of death to death, as a more heavier judgment. She teaches with all earnestness that whoever is not born again through the means of grace can and will not see the kingdom of God, that without a repentance wrought by the Holy Spirit, that without faith in the heart there is no salvation, that Word, Sacrament, and Absolution are not rebirth, are not justification, but they should effect, not grace, but are the means of grace.

The reason why Old Lutherans hold so firmly to the means of grace is not that they would save men without repentance and faith, as one is healed by medicine which only needs to be taken and works even while he is sleeping, but because they firmly hold that a poor sinner is justified before God and saved solely by faith, without works, without his merit, by grace, that is, that his salvation is due not to what he does, works, merits, but to God alone, who offers him full salvation in the means of grace. In that sense we are pleased that our religion is called “sacramental”. Yes, to teach salvation by faith and yet to deny the character to the Word and the Sacraments that they contain and present to us the gifts, that we have to take and appropriate to ourselves through faith, is a contradiction. To teach salvation by grace and yet want to know of no real means of grace is a self-deception. If there are no collative organs of grace, then the entire doctrine of justification of a poor sinner hovers in the air; for faith, which is something relative, lacks its correlative, or the entire doctrine of faith is pure enthusiasm.

Incidentally, from the small number of Germans who have been won here by us to the fellowship of the church, to conclude on the inaccuracy of the system is very premature. This would outright condemn the “system” of the Savior Himself, Who also won only a few by His personal administration of the public teaching office in Judea and Galilee. In addition to this there are several German churches here that follow the system of salvation of the General Synod. From where does it come, then, that these churches neither have been able to bring the remaining 55,000 (not initially Lutherans, but Germans of all types) to the Church? Would this therefore also not be directed to the doctrinal system of the General Synod?

Happy Belated Birthday, Martin Luther!

[Luther] war ein zweiter Moses, der sie aus einer tausendjährigen Knechtschaft des Papsttums errettete; ein zweiter Elias, der die Baalspfaffen jeglicher falscher Kirchen mit dem Schwert des Geistes zermalmte; ein zweiter Johannes der Täufer, der mit den Schrecken des göttlichen Gesetztes die Welt erzittern machte; ein zweiter Paulus, der die Gerechtigkeit des Glaubens predigte in Beweisung des Geistes und der Kraft, wie kein anderer; ein zweiter Johannes, der in der Inbrunst der Liebe zu seinem JEsus und den erlösten Seelen bereit war, wohl tausendmal zu sterben.

[Luther] was a second Moses, who rescued [the Church] from a thousand years of bondage of the papacy, a second Elijah, who crushed the priests of Baal of all false churches with the sword of the Spirit, a second John the Baptist, who made the world tremble with the fear of God’s Law; a second Paul, who preached the righteousness of faith in demonstration of the Spirit and of power like no other, a second John, who in the fervor of love was ready to die a thousand times for his Jesus and redeemed souls.

– Sermon outline for Trinity 25 from 1883 (the 400th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther). Translated from the German by DMJ

Luther’s Writings: Why and What Should I Read

Christians should be familiar with the writings of Martin Luther, whether you consider him a hero or a heretic. Lutheran pastors like me have read a lot of Luther (hopefully we’ve read Holy Scripture…that should be a given). There’s always more Luther to read. But why should I read Luther? Where should I start? What should I read first?

C.F.W. Walther (1811-1887) has you covered in this set of theses. As far as I know, these have not been translated into English. I stumbled across them a while back and decided it would be good to have this available in English.

Happy reading…both Walther and Luther.

Gottes Wort und Luthers Lehr, vergehet nun und nimmermehr!

Walther: A Church That Does Not Study Luther’s Writings Does Not Have the Spirit of Luther in Her

Thesis I.

            In order to obtain pleasure and love for reading and studying the writings of Luther, it is first of all necessary that one remembers vividly that Luther is not to be expected among the common pure theologians, but was elected by God Himself as the reformer of the Church and revealer and destroyer of the Antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 14:6-7)

            Luther is the only theologian who is prophesied in Scripture. He is beyond all doubt the angel of which Revelation 14:6 says. He is no doubt the one who according to 2 Thessalonians 2 should reveal and kill the Antichrist. Everyone who still believes that the Pope is the Antichrist admits that Luther has revealed the Antichrist. Many do not admit that he has killed him though, but there is no doubt he has done it. Although he has not made ​​an end to the papacy, whoever now can still be seduced by the Pope must first reject Luther; because Luther has so clearly shown him as Antichrist that a man must turn a blind eye if he does not want to believe that the Pope was the Antichrist. Whoever does not want to be deceived by the Pope cannot be deceived. Through Luther God has opened thousands and millions of eyes that previously in blindness honored the Pope as Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.

Luther has no equal in the church after the apostles and prophets. One should only mention a single doctrine which Luther would not have quite clearly and most gloriously set forth. Would it be not unspeakable ingratitude to God, Who sent us this man, if we did not hear his voice? Then we would have not known the time of our visitation. But we are currently seeing what wrath of God follows in the new German theologians who ask nothing of Luther, who basically even despise him because he did not expound scientific truth. When modern theologians once cite him, it always has a certain tendency; but it does not happen with the intention to portray him as a witness of truth. In contrast, an old theologian called Luther’s writings “the mantle of Elijah that he has dropped at his ascension,” while Bugenhagen sees Revelation 14:6-7 expressly fulfilled in Luther.

Therefore this first thesis is of great importance. God holds Christianity responsible if they do not recognize this man as the reformer of the Church. We must not think of Luther this way: “We also can do this; Luther has recovered the truth so well, so also we will find the truth so well by diligent study.” No, if God inspires His prophets with spirit and light, then He does this for the common good of the Church; and woe to the Church if they do not use God’s instrument, but will let it pass by her. A church in which Luther’s writings are not first studied by the pastors and then at their incitement also by common Christians, certainly does not have Luther’s spirit, and Luther’s spirit is the pure evangelical spirit of faith, humility, and simplicity.

The other dogmatic theologians of our church are not to be put on the same level as Luther. Luther had nothing but hellish mistakes behind him. He alone had to go into Scripture and bring out the truth. No one can understand how it was possible. It may look easy, but it could not possibly happen without very special illumination of the Holy Spirit.

“The Fruitful Reading of Luther’s Writings”
Lehre und Wehre, Volume 33, Number 11 (November, 1887)
Translation by DMJ