Posts Tagged ‘Small and Large Catechisms’

Pastor Joshua Scheer in his article, “Who Are the Preachers in Your Life?”,  on Brothers of John the Steadfast asked these three interesting questions at the end of his piece:

“Who preaches to you most of the time?  What is being preached?

Who preaches to your children most of the time?  What is being preached?

What can be done to out-preach the preachers of the different gospel of this world?

The answers are in the Scriptures, especially the first lesson and especially the Epistle reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter (Year A):  Acts 17:16–31 and 1 Peter 3:13–22. 

 In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul is by himself in Athens.  Athens was one of the great cities of culture and philosophy that has influenced the Western world until our day and time. Athens was the home of Socrates and Plato and the adopted home of Aristotle, Zeno (found of Stoicism) and Epicurus. Luke tells us that Paul addressed Stoic and Epicurean philosophers.  The derivative  words “stoic” and “epicurean” are part and parcel of our vocabulary and so are the philosophies:  “stoic”, i.e., be tough;  “epicurean”, e.g. “eat, drink and be merry” are conflicting ways of life in our own day.  

We are told that Paul, upon seeing the city filled with idols, that, “his spirit was provoked within him” (verse 16). For a devout Jew (see Philippians 3:4-6),  to whom idolatry and the resultant immorality, were anathema (as it should be to all Christians as well), raised, no doubt, his rightful indignation.  Then we are told in the next verse that he “reasoned” with the Jews in the synagogue, God fearers and those in the agora,  i.e. the marketplace (vs. 17).  Further he addressed the various philosophers, and cultured onlookers,  in the place designated for such exchange of ideas, the Areopagus, literally, Mars Hill.  Notice that Paul’s provocation and indignation did not show.  He did not scream and holler,“Tear down these demonic altars”, though he knew they were demonic (see 1 Corinthians 10:20).  Instead, he reasoned with them and proclaimed the truth.  Paul’s brother Apostle, Peter, wrote to the churches in the Diaspora (1 Peter 1  ), this encouragement:   

 “…if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

 The Apostle Paul was forcefully asked to give a defense of the hope that in him (vs. 18-20).  He was prepared.  He gave his defense just as the Scripture says:  with gentleness and respect.  Paul did so but he did not water down God’s own truth.  He made pointed statements to his interlocutors that would escape our notice and for which Paul was mocked:  

  1. He proclaims God is the Creator of heaven and earth (vs. 23).  Many Greeks were so ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ that they thought matter was evil, created not by any god, but by a “demiurge”, that got “down and dirty” and so created ‘evil’ matter. Paul proclaiming God is the Creator of everything was probably an offense to his audience, but Paul proclaimed it clearly and so he was saying, the altars dedicated to gods and goddesses is nothing, they are gold and silver, things, therefore they were not gods.
  2.   The Greeks believed the gods and goddesses were dependant upon their service and devotion.  Paul turns this on end by citing an important Scriptural truth that the Lord does not need anything from mankind (see Psalm 50: 9-12) but He is the One who gives to us all in our need, our “life and breath and all things” ! (vs.  25)
  3.   “The Athenians might pride themselves on autochthonous[1]sprung from the soil of their native (Greece) (‘This belief reflects the historic fact that the Athenians were the only Greeks on the European mainland who had no tradition of their ancestors’ coming into Greece”), but this pride was ill founded.”[2] Paul proclaims that all of us are of one “nation” (some ancient texts, of one “blood”).  In other words we are all of the “hoi polloi”, no one is better nor worse!  Such a preaching can either puncture the pride or cause pride to rage.
  4.   Paul proclaimed the judgment of God and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Apostle called them to repent (vss. 30-31), that is Law and Promise.  As the doctrine of the Creator and creation (1st article of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds) was offensive, so would have been the bodily resurrection.  The audience believed in a spiritual, disembodied after life, but not the new creation. Also, that all mankind will be judged and is judged by God, deserving His temporal and eternal punishment probably did not set well with Paul’s audience.  Neither in our day and time: “no one can tell me what I should do!”

 Throughout the address, Paul is even and reasonable.  He also proclaims that God has not left Himself without a witness is His creation (cf. Romans 1:  ). He cites their poets and philosophers to substantiate his thesis.  He is not trying to win over them to his point of view, but to win them over to Jesus Christ.  He was mocked afterward (vs. 32) but some believed (vs. 34). The Word will accomplish the purpose the Lord puts into it (see Isaiah 55:10-12).

Paul the preacher out-preached the different gospels of the world by being prepared in the knowledge of Scripture.  This is the best way to give a defense of the hope that is in us:  armed with the Word of God (see  Ephesians 6:11ff ).   We are living in an internet Athens, that is just as pervasive, persuasive and perverse as was the great city of Athens in the first century.  The Athenians would not have listened to Paul if he tried to out shout them. Paul defended the Scriptures by not being defensive nor offensive.  Paul’s Address to the Areopagus still runs contrary in our agora of god and ideologies.  This list parallels the list above: 

  1. God is Creator, not evolution.  We are made, not self-made.  There is intelligent design that could not happen by chance.  The 1st Article  of the Creed is still offensive.
  2. God needs me to serve him, all my sacrifices. No, He does not, He gives to us all in our need. We think a worship service is something we offer to God, no!  God  who gives us His gifts of faith, hope and love, within His Service, His Word, that is, “For us and our salvation He came down from heaven” and “Broken and shed FOR YOU”.
  3. We Americans think we sprung up out of the soil of this land, a superior people.  ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (cf. Romans 3:22-24  ), therefore, the Lord has poured forth His salvation upon “all flesh” (cf. Luke 3:6).
  4. So many Christians have a judgment-less Gospel, that is preaching and teaching of the Gospel without the Law’s just diagnosis of our condition.  “Grandma is looking down on us from heaven” is common statement at funerals.  The Apostle’s Creed, based upon the Scripture, confesses the “resurrection of the body” to our likewise ‘spiritual’ afterlife.

 So many people think that between  Bible times and ‘our’ times there is a yawning abyss because so much has changed.  Yes, technology has changed but not fallen human nature. What was preached and reaching many folks in Athens is simply paraded day in our agora, television, radio and the internet. The second list is the current version of the first lesson preached nowadays. The many altars to our American idols is always an appeal to the self.  The doctrines of evolution, ego-centric philosophies, egoism are preached daily to make us happy.  This preaching of a gospel, which is not good news, oozes every TV commercial. And a lot of this narcissistic preaching is under the guise of Christianity, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, such as , “prosperity gospel” preaching. We may be happy but we are always looking over our shoulders and there is little joy. Or there is such anger directed at the filth in our society and country, and justifiably so, that discourse is difficult at best. The medium massages the mind to be insensible to truth and thinking things through. 

We cannot out yell the cultural preachers yet we can reason, as the Apostle did. We cannot out-tech the world and the agora either. We simply cannot compete nor should we!  The Gospel, that cannot be bought, the Gospel that is we have been bought for a price, not with silver or gold, by Jesus’ precious blood (1 Corinthians 7:23;1 Peter 1:17-19) , opens up the entire of Scripture that we might reason in the preaching and teaching of the Church. In a sound-bite world, the Lord’s perspective of eternity is ours in Christ.  Short-term fixes, that is, gimmicks and techniques won’t do.  As it is written, I would rather have five words of wisdom than a thousand words in a tongue (1 Corinthians 14:19).  Paul was prepared as Peter counseled his churches to be prepared as we revere Christ as holy  in our hearts.

 When I was in college, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was in schism over Biblical interpretation.  I was  a liberal in Biblical interpretation.  I was visiting my extended family in Minnesota and with my Aunt Bertha, “Aunt Birdie”, I  had made fun of  the Missouri Synod.  My Aunt had been a Mennonite and became Lutheran (WELS) when she married. In one of the few times she was stern with me said, “Mark, I always believed in Christ but when I became a Lutheran I knew why.”  What preaches?  Solid Confessional catechesis, that is preaching and teaching of Law and Gospel, properly distinguished.  The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod knows about teaching and preaching.  The Scriptures’ compendium is the Small and Large Catechisms.  Catechesis cannot be done short term, but only long term: it is learning for Life.  Fancying up worship services or making them more ‘palpable’ won’t do either.  We are just spinning our wheels. The small still voice of the Lord in His Word is greater than the thunder and lightening of our technological world. We need only to be still and be stilled (see Exodus 14:14,Psalm 46:10,Psalm 131:2) for that is the beginning of learning. The Lord will be heard.

     “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven                                      and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55)

 [1] autochthonous: adjective (of an inhabitant of a place) indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists.


[2] The Book of Acts, commentary by F. F. Bruce, pages 357-358 (first published 1954)


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Aramaic was the language spoken at the time of Christ.

Intro:  On Wednesday March 12, we began at the Mission a 6 week Bible Class, The 6 Building Blocks, a review of each of the 6 Chief Parts of The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther.  Below is the outline  of the third session.-Pr. Schroeder

The Lord’s Prayer

or the Pater Noster or the “Our Father”

Let us pray…

 O God,  the giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever. Amen.


“We have heard what we are to do (10 Commandments) and believe (The Apostles’ Creed). The best and most  blessed life consists of these things. Now follows the third part, how we are to pray. Mankind is in such a situation that no one can keep the Ten Commandments perfectly, even though he has begun to believe. Besides, the devil, along with the world and our flesh, resists our efforts with all his power. Consequently nothing is so necessary as to call upon God incessantly and drum into his ears our prayer that he may give, preserve, and increase in us faith and obedience to the Ten Commandments and remove all that stands in our way and hinders us from fulfilling them. That we may know what and how to pray,  our Lord Christ himself has taught us both the way and the words, as we shall see.” (The Large Catechism, introduction to The Lord’s Prayer)

 1)      General Introduction:  Lord’s Prayer recorded twice, one longer, the other shorter:

  1. St. Matthew 6: 9-13
  2. St. Luke 11: 1-4
  3. Only KJV translation still in constant use
  4. Key:  both times Jesus teaches prayer

 2)      Two Reasons for Prayer,

            First Reason: The Lord commands, teaches and inspires prayer

  1. Commands:  see 2nd Commandment and it’s meaning: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. 
  2. Teaches: i.e. the Lord’s Prayer
  1. The Psalter: the first Prayer book, the one most needed
  2. All the Prayers in the Bible
  3. Church’s prayers which are in accord with the Bible and the Confessions

           c. Inspires:  see Romans 8: 26-27, also verse 34

            Second Reason:  Human need and weakness, The Large Catechism,            Luther’s  Introduction to The Lord’s Prayer: 

“But where there is to be a true prayer, there must be earnestness. Men must feel their distress, and such distress as presses them and compels them to call and cry out; then prayer will be made spontaneously, as it ought to be, and men will require no teaching how to prepare for it and to attain to the proper devotion. But the distress which ought to concern us most, both as regards ourselves and every one, you will find abundantly set forth in the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore it is to serve also to remind us of the same, that we contemplate it and lay it to heart, lest we become remiss in prayer. For we all have enough that we lack, but the great want is that we do not feel nor see it. Therefore God also requires that you lament and plead such necessities and wants, not because He does not know them, but that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires, and make wide and open your cloak to receive much.” (The Law of God will show us our need!)

 3)      Lord’s Prayer in Detail: Petitions’ Verbs in the Imperative

  1. Introduction:  The Creed, the Name to be Prayed, Praying in God’s Name;  Our Father because of the Son in the Holy Spirit
  1. Pray and read explanation
  2. “We do not know what prayers God will answer”:  Respond;  See John 16: 23;  Luke 11: 1-13; Romans 8: 14-17, Psalm 51: 15; Galatians 3: 26-19; Ephesians 3: 12
    1. 1st Petition:  see Luke 18: 9-14

                  1.  Pray and read explanation

                  2.  contrast Pharisee and tax collector

  1. 2nd Petition: see  Mark 1: 14-15;  Psalm 103: 19;  John 3: 5;  2 Timothy 4: 18;  John 18: 36 J(contra millennialism/in the world not of the world); Luke 12: 32

                  1.  Pray and read explanation

                  2.  God’s Kingdom comes in two ways:  here and eternity

                  3.   Across borders:  See John 4: Samaritan woman

  1. 3rd Petition:  See Ephesians 1: 9-10

                                                            1.  Pray and read explanation

                                                            2.  Flows out 2nd Petition, faithless don’t know                                                               God’s will,    by His grace we do:  see 1                                                                              Timothy 2: 4

                                                            3.  Praying against our will/bearing the cross

                                          e. 4th Petition:  See Exodus 16: 17-21;  Matthew 6: 24-                                                        34

                                                            1.  Pray and read explanation

                                                            2.  Praying for our daily bread and all that                                                                                 entails

                                           f. 5th Petition:  See  Psalm 19: 12;  Ephesians 4: 32;                                                         Matthew 18: 21- 35

                                                            1.  Pray and read explanation

                                                            2.  Next week:  Confession and Absolution

                                          g. 6th Petition:  See Genesis 3: 1-7; James 1: 12-16;                                                             Matthew 4: 1-11;   1 Corinthians 10: 12-13

                                                            1.  Pray and read explanation

                  2.  “Temptation’s target is always the First                                                                             Commandment”, directing us away from God’s Word to                                            our selves

h. 7th Petition:  See Psalm 50: 15;  Colossians 1: 11-14

                  1.  Pray and read explanation

                  2.  “evil” or “evil one”:  “let me hide myself in Thee”

  1. Conclusion:  See 2 Corinthians 1: 10

                  1.  Pray and read explanation

                  2. “Amen” means “truth.” To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray with the assurance that God hears our prayers and answers them. “Amen” is the great word of faith, for with this word we commend our prayers to God, not on the basis of our own righteousness but solely on the basis of the righteousness of Him who is the “yes” and “amen” to all of the Father’s promises.” (John T.Pless, The Didache


Pray the Lord’s Prayer



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“I hope this isn’t meant to be a criticism of our current life style” (from The New Yorker magazine, probably back in the ’60s)

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The 6 Biblical Building Blocks of Faith and Life:   Session 1, The Ten Commandments

Intro:  On Wednesday March 12, we began at the Mission a 6 week Bible Class, The 6 Building Blocks, a review of each of the 6 Chief Parts of The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther.  Below is the outline  of the first session.-Pr. Schroeder

Opening Prayer:  Grant to us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may be enabled by You to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Review the 6 Chief Parts, 6 Building Blocks of Faith and life

  1. 10 Commandments
  2. The Apostles’ Creed
  3. The Lord’s Prayer
  4. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
  5. Confession
  6. The Sacrament of the Altar

The Small Catechism:

  1. The Layman’s Bible
  2. Summary of the Bible
  3. Prayer Book

Lutherans have three important books:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Book of Concord, which includes The Small and Large Catechisms
  3. The Lutheran Service Book, the hymnbook

1st Building Block:  the Decalogue, the  10 CommandmentsTwo Tables of the Law:  Written and Given by God on Mt. Sinai to Moses  10 Commandments recorded in two places:                                                                              A.  Exodus 20 and B. Deuteronomy 5

“God gave the Law in written form to Moses at Mount Sinai. The giving of the Law was accompanied by signs of God’s wrath. Thunder, lightning flashes, the blast of the trumpet, and the smoking mountain reveal a God who exposes Himself in the “thick darkness” of His holy judgment against sin. No wonder the people of Israel pleaded with Moses, saying, “[D]o not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Exod. 20:19). But God does speak through His servant Moses, and the words which He gives us through Moses cut to the very heart, laying bare our sinfulness.

Our Lord uses Moses’ words, the words of God’s Law, to unmask the heart of a rich man who thought that he could “do” the Law (Mark 10:17-22). This man comes to our Lord with a pious question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When our Lord answers the man by referring to the commandments, the man responds, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” Yet the rich man lacks one thing. He lacks what the First Commandment requires. He lacks the “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” (The Didache by Prof. John T. Pless)

A. First Table:  Vertical, 1-3

B. Second Table:  Horizontal, 4-10

Together: form a Cross. Summation of the Law and the Prophets

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” St. Matthew 22

 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. St. Matthew 5

2 Tables and the Three Uses of the Law: Not the Way the Church uses the Law, but the way the Lord uses the Law for His purposes and use:

  1. Curb:  political use, polis, city
  2. Mirror:  spiritual use
  3. Guide:  spiritual and political use, spiritual, to show us if our good works are God pleasing, political, back to use                                                   

Luther’s teaching on each commandment: negative and positive, concentrate on the 4th Commandment for tonight

  1. Hinge Commandment
  2. First neighbors
  3. In between 3rd and 5th commandments: the Lord’s Day and prohibition against murder and violence
  4. Three Fathers
    1. fathers and mothers
    2. Fathers of a nation
    3. spiritual fathers

Closing Prayer:  Psalm 23


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“Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD” is an article from Psychology Today and is found here.  It is worth a full read.

From the article:

“French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.”

This was of course the ‘American’ philosophy as well but it really is not an American philosophy, it is the Biblical doctrine and practice from the Lord Himself in the 4th Commandment, with Martin Luther’s concise teaching on it:

The Fourth Commandment

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.

What does this mean?–Answer. We should fear and love God that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem.

In most of Luther’s concise teaching on each of the commandments there is a Negative and a Positive of the Law, including being a child and being a mother and a father.  It comes as a revelation in America’s popular magazine  Psychology Today that French parents actually say No to their children.  For instance: Just think about the use of the word “affirmation”:  without any discipline, no “No” so that  the child’s “self-esteem” is not hurt.  The tip-0ff to the real American philosophy of child rearing, not the Biblical one, which began with the elites telling Americans the way to parent was epitomized by Dr. Benjamin Spock in his seminal best-seller:  Baby and Child Care, first published in 1945.   I very quickly found these two quotes from Dr. Spock:

What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.

Happiness is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled.

 So a mother or a father can run on her or his “feelings”?   It seems such advice of following one’s heart is the quagmire  from which  the exponential rise of  child abuse rose  in our generation.  Happiness is a by-product, but not from”FEELING fulfilled”, but happiness is a by-product of doing a task, a job, a service well.  “Feeling fulfilled” is amorphous, and I can feel good and fulfilled after a drink, a pizza and while we’re at, why not drugs?  A mom told her pastor that her one year old child is the “boss”.  I tried to gently correct her and I pray she hears.   “Amorphous” literally means without form.  God’s Law forms our lives. Limits are boundaries as “Forgive us our trespasses”.  There is no law in a feeling but there is Law in  God’s Word and disciples of Jesus Christ adhere to a discipline which is godly and humane.  Note that Luther lists “love” as the last quality in the 4th Commandment.  In The Large Catechism Luther correctly teaches that honor includes love. Note:  what Psychology Today, which is all about the somewhat science of psychology, is implicitly applauding in this article: spirituality, the spirituality from Law, as part of the remedy of ADHD.  

The Lutheran Confessions teach that all Scripture is correctly divided between Law and Promise (Gospel), that is:   God’s No and God’s Yes. I have preached, taught and  discussed that we have so relegated God’s No as “rigid” in our self-affirming, self-esteeming American society. Churches and congregations which try to teach God’s No and God’s Yes  are likewise considered too strict or worse, fundamentalist! If a political party is not “affirming”, it’s called “the party of no”.  And now we can see what happens when folks try to distinguish between No and Yes as in France and for many of you in  your own families.    With our self-indulgent, slothful child-rearing, we have sown the wind and have reaped the whirlwind, and it is children who are being spiritually, emotionally and physically hurt.  We can’t follow our heart, we should only follow God’s Word.  He knows more about us than we do.

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