Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 9, Number 1
Mark your Calendar
The 2002 LMS Conference & Convention
June 22-23, 2002
St. Matthew Luth. Church
In this Issue:
Christian Education in the Local Congregation
Luther's Small Catechism has been central to the instruction
of men, women, and children in the Christian faith throughout the history
of the Lutheran Church. In some parts of the Church, it has fallen to misuse,
in some cases it is not being used at all, but in all cases, it is well that
from time to time we think through the place the Catechism has had in Lutheran
Christian education, and, how we might continue to incorporate (or better
incorporate) its use in the education programs of today.
Dr. Jacob Tanner was an effective Christian educator in the early years of the former Evangelical Lutheran Church, and he continued to teach well into 1960's when he was in his 90's. The following article is a chapter from a small book he wrote, TEN STUDIES IN THE CATECHISM, written as part of a series of books to instruct teachers of Christian education in the local congregation. Although written in 1927, Dr. Tanner's insights are still relevant to today and hopefully can serve to inspire us to rethink the content and methodology of the education programs in our congregations.
The following is a summary of a chapter from, Ten Studies in the Catechism, by Jacob Tanner © 1927 Augsburg Publishing House. This chapter was reprinted by permission of Augsburg Fortress in this issue of Table Talk. Permission to use the material on the Web was granted until the May issue of Table Talk was posted. If you are interested in the entire article, a few hard copies remain and can be obtained by making a request to Rev. John Erickson at email@example.com
The Use The Lutheran Church Has Made of the Catechism
by Jacob Tanner
Tanner points out that when teaching children in matters of the Christian
faith, there are several principles that should be kept in mind.
1. The children should not be given only impressions, they must be given knowledge. There is a place for impressions, but "knowledge is necessary and fundamental." Children should be given actual knowledge as to what God has done and is doing and how they should live.
2. Knowledge must be concentrated. The Bible is God's revelation of himself and his will for us. The duty of the Church is to teach the way of salvation as it is revealed to us in the Word. We cannot expect children to master the entire Bible, and not everything we find in the Bible is of equal importance to the salvation of one's soul. Therefore the important truths of the Bible have been summarized so children can learn those things necessary to their salvation, i.e., the Small Catechism.
3. Knowledge must be definite.
Since children are not able to summarize the important lessons found in Bible stories, this is something the teacher must do. Teachers themselves need to be open to learn how to bring out the central truth of the lesson to the students.
With regard to this, Tanner comments, "Here we are face to face with a fundamental principle in our Lutheran Church a principle not always well understood. The historical events told in the Bible History must always be interpreted in the light of the Catechism and there is no better way to do this than to summarize the meaning and message of the Bible stories as much as possible in the words of the Catechism"
"... Bible stories must be explained and applied. But the guiding principle in this explanation must be what the Catechism teaches. We can not as a church leave it to the individual teacher to deduce the truth from the Bible stories according to his own fancies."
4. Children must be able to repeat, without change, the fundamental truths they have been taught.
Successful teaching requires repetition. This requires that what is taught is in a definite form that can be repeated word for word. It takes some skill on the part of the teacher to reduce a lesson to a form that it can be repeated in this manner. But to repeat a teaching using different words is only going to confuse the young child.
In the introduction to his Catechism, Luther says: "Let the preacher take the utmost care to avoid all changes or variations in the text and wording of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, etc. Let him, on the.contrary, take each of the forms respectively, adhere to it, and repeat it anew year after year. For young and inexperienced people cannot be successfully instructed unless we adhere to the same text or the same forms of expression. They easily become confused when the teacher at one time employs a certain form of words and expressions, and at another, apparently with a view to make improvements, adopts a different form."
5. Luther's Small Catechism should be a guide in the building of the Christian Education curriculum.
"The Catechism centers its teaching on five main topics: the Law, God and His work to save man, Prayer, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. When a person knows these things he has the necessary knowledge that makes one wise unto salvation." Other material used in the Christian education program should serve only to expand and amplify the basic truths presented in the Catechism.
If the Catechism is not used as a guide to the curriculum, we will find that while courses may present historical, geographical, ethnographical, even some doctrinal Bible knowledge, they frequently fail to give a concentrated, simple, and clear instruction in the Way of Salvation. On the other hand, "The Catechism enables us to teach the children the Way of Salvation in a short time. This little book of 32 small pages can be learned in a few weeks. When the children have learned the five parts of the Small Catechism they have the essential knowledge of the Way of Salvation. As they then go along in the course and new material is added, they get a fuller knowledge and a clearer conception."
6. The Small Catechism has also served as a confession.
Few people have studied the Ecumenical Confessions or the Augsburg Confession. Most people's knowledge of what the Lutheran Church teaches is a result of their study of the Catechism.
It is also the case that what an individual learns in his youth is what works to help "form his conceptions of right and wrong, his feeling of what is proper and improper, they mold his conscience. Nothing that a person learns later sinks so deeply into the soul life. That is the reason why any real and lasting change of a people's moral or religious views must first be produced in the children. The Catechism has enabled our Church to do this very thing."
Without question, the Small Catechism has proved to be the most important confessional book of our Church. It has proved important because it has often been memorized at an early age, its truths becoming ingrained in mind, heart, and conscience.
back to top
A Patriot Of Faith!
by Rev. Ralph Spears
"But let him who glories, glory in this, that he knows Me ..the God of steadfast love!" In the parking lot of a nearby restaurant on a crisp Sunday afternoon, seven flags fluttered from the cars parked there, a full five months after our well known national tragedy of September 11th. One in four vehicles sported the red, white and blue. Pride in our country is not only strong, it is enduring. There are qualities of patriotism, which are good and constructive as they are turned outward.
Many have noted a more serious attitude and a return to purpose in our nation not evident in several decades perhaps since the close of World War 11.
But how about our Faith, is there also place for a pride in the rich Christian heritage that is ours? Especially at a time when it seems to be under increased attack, can we also look to a rightful pride in being Lutheran?
The patriotic fervor at the end of World War 11 was so strong that it was the custom to stand for the playing of our national anthem at the end of the featured movie of the evening. But one evening in an ornate and crowded theater in Chicago, one man did not rise, to the disgust of two men in the row behind him, even by the final line, "and the home of the brave!" So enraged were these two that they first insulted and then pummeled the first man - a minority, for not participating in the national pride by standing. As the security police were called and order restored, it was discovered that the man could not rise because he was a double amputee veteran of the War decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the two men behind him were later identified as draft dodgers.
Being reminded that, "Pride often goes before the fall", what is the place of allegiance to our faith?
Even before World War 11, churches balanced their national allegiance with a recognized Christian loyalty by placing a Christian flag opposite the Stars and Stripes in the front of the sanctuary just before the chancel area. Many still do! (There was even an 'Allegiance to the Christian flag' that we repeated! Remember?)
But it always seemed as though we were comparing two very different things in the same way. Perhaps that is why the Apostle's Creed more than covers the allegiance of faith as a confession, rather than a Christian flag's pledge and - rightly so - that practice, has faded.
In a higher octave of pride - much closer to Faith, I am indeed proud more than ever for the Lutheran heritage that I am privileged to hold in this land of religious freedom. It's not just that special feeling that accompanies the singing of A Mighty Fortress on Reformation Sunday - thrilling as that is! It is beyond that, far beyond party spirit and fractious loyalties. Rather it is deep and abiding gratitude that a Martin Luther by faith - somewhat akin to the inspiration of the writers of Scripture - got it right when he taught that the Church serve "Christ alone - by Faith alone through the Scripture alone". And this rather than implying that it is something other than "Grace alone" that really matters in the Church's purposes being truly known. There is a gratifying resonance in being a humble Confessional Lutheran/Christian that is authentic and difficult to put into mere words. In fact the words of our Lutheran Confessions describe it best.
A member of our congregation recently relocated to Florida but could not find among the churches she has visited, that which she left behind here in our congregation. That exercise of faith and worship has now become all the more dear to her.
Our country became all the more precious to us when it came under terrorist attack. How odd in a way, that such tragedy can provide the needed contrast - so that we can see the color of patriotism more clearly even in a Bob Evans parking lot on a Sunday afternoon.
In the same way, it seems that our heritage of Faith - "more precious than gold" as Paul described it - is under attack, and there is a similar purpose in this that God allows to be. Perhaps it is - so that we might awaken in Faith to that which is of highest value - and be saved! May we all Glory in that - that we never depart from the STEADFAST LOVE OF GOD!
back to top
Who is the Israel of God Today? A Historical Critique of Dispensationalism
Part Two in a Series on Prophecy
by Rev. Mark Dankof
Any historical analysis and consideration of the Dispensational perspective on prophecy must take into account the paramount importance of the "Prophecy of Seventy Weeks" in Daniel 9: 24-27, particularly the 19th century historical developments which facilitated the creation of the "gap" or "parenthesis" theory between the 69th week and an allegedly futuristic 70th week1; the recency of the doctrine of the pre-Tribulation rapture before the onset of the 70th week; and the derivative idea of the bifurcation of the coming of Jesus Christ into two stages, one involving His return for the saints before the Great Tribulation, the second involving His return with His saints after the expiration of the 70th week. After due consideration of these topics, the practical outworking of the "parenthesis" theory and the two-stage coming of Christ in Dispensational piety and action will be examined historically, both in terms of the 19th century and the 20th.2 Of special significance is the Dispensational religious/political alliance with the modern State of Israel and political Zionism, a development which has had profound impact on much of modern Protestant Evangelicalism's understanding of the Kingdom and the role of the Church in political alliances and activism based on an eschatological belief system.
The Dispensational position on Daniel 9 must first be understood in contrast to the two (2) other major exegetical schools of thought on the passage which have developed in history. The first of these is the Maccabean; the second is the Traditional. The former position is often associated with higher biblical critical assumptions about the dating and interpretation of the prophecy specifically, and the book of Daniel generally. The Dispensationalist Emerson writes3:
If Daniel were written 165 B. C. or thereabouts, how could a literary and religious writer have achieved complete anonymity among a people suffering persecution when any encouragement alleged to come from Jehovah would have been like a ray of light on a dark night? If such a book achieved its purpose, someone (its author or its alleged discover) must certainly come to popular attention. The Maccabees were not in the least anonymous. Therefore why would the author of Daniel be, if he professed to have discovered a prophecy or to have written one?
We might ask ourselves what kind of a book should we expect from the exile period. The two books of the Maccabees would be the types of books one naturally would expect to come out of the great persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes. But Daniel shows sufficient evidence of belonging to the Babylonian Exile. It has been rightly said:
"If the Exile has that importance in relation to the development as already described, then the whole progressive development of the divine revelation as it lies before us in the Old and New Testaments, warrants such as are found in the book of Daniel. Since miracles and prophecies essentially belong not only in general to the realization of the divine plan of salvation but have also been especially manifested in all the critical periods of the history of the kingdom of God neither the miracles in the historical parts of the book nor its prophecies, consisting of singular predictions, can in any respect seem strange to us." [Emerson quoting C. F Keil, Bible Commentary on the Book of Daniel, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 20] As we compare First Maccabees with the book of Daniel, we have in the former, the kind of book that embodies most of the elements that the book of Daniel should have had, had it been written in the Maccabean period. To be more specific, Daniel should have been anti-Hellenic and shown zeal for the temple and temple worship and a holy indignation for those profaning it. The book should have been full of zeal for the law and denunciation of those not so zealous. First Maccabees is full of Palestinian places, names, local color and glorification of the Hasmonean exploits. This we do not find in Daniel. Even Montgomery [Emerson quoting J. A. Montgomery. The Book of Daniel. ICC Series. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1926, p. 90] says, "Further the historical background of these chapters is Babylonian. Again their sumptuous barbaric scenery is obviously not that of Palestine: one need only compare the arid scenery of the later chapters."
Since 400 years had elapsed between the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar's reign and the Babylon of the Maccabean period, conditions utterly different had come into being with reference to the whole city and area. The city had lost its preeminent position and was under Greek control. What a wonderful research staff and what a wonderful source library the pseudo Daniel must have had. He seems to have avoided the pitfalls into which Herodotus fell only a century after the events about which he wrote.
How could the Jewish high priest in 332 B. C. have shown Alexander the Great the prophecy of Daniel as pertaining to his own conquests when, according to the theory, the book was not (to have been) written for another 164 years? Josephus could hardly have imagined the dream that Alexander related to the high priest. How also do we explain Jerusalem's escape from destruction after its refusal to surrender? And how do we explain its switch in loyalty from a nearly monotheistic Persia under which the Jewish people had peace, prosperity and governmental friendliness, to a polytheistic Macedonia? How could a book with such uncertain antecedents have ever become a part of the Canon of Scripture? It was not the Jewish custom to select the canonical books carelessly or at random [Emerson quoting Edersheim, The Life and Times of the Messiah, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1931, Volume 2, App. 5]. Even though Daniel is listed in the "writings" rather than in the "prophets", we have no record of any hesitancy of including his book in the sacred Scripture until the time of Porphyry (233-304 A. D.). It was the Jewish belief and criterion that all Scripture had a prophetic authorship.
If the Maccabean authorship and the date of 165 B. C. for Daniel are rejected, when was it written? If we were to accept the internal evidence aside from the evident familiarity of the author with the life and time of Nebuchadnezzar, we have two hints in the book itself. The first chapter ends with the words, "And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus." If this is to be taken at face value, this chapter at least, may have been written 537-536 B. C.; i. e., in the first year of Cyrus. On the other hand, Daniel's final vision (Daniel 10: 1) dates the vision in the third year of Cyrus; that is 534-533 B. C., which would also be the dating of the last three chapters since they all are a part of the same vision. The problem would thus be simple if we could be sure that all of the remaining chapters were written in the intervening two years. We note that each chapter has a unity of style - in fact, all of the chapters together have a unity of style that would suggest that they were at least taken from notes put down on the spot at the time of the occurrence. Since these were all written under inspiration and since the Holy Spirit brings to our minds not only from our own human experience but beyond our experience the things which he wills, there is nothing to prevent our dating the actual writing from 537-533 B. C. After all, if John could write another apocalypse during a comparatively brief stay on Patmos, Daniel might well have written his prophecy in what could have been the last few years of his life. Both books are the product of a long walk with God, and both are swan songs.
The non-Dispensational scholars, R. K. Harrison and E. J. Young, also take issue with the higher Biblical criticism and late dating approach of the Maccabean school of interpretation. Harrison notes the seminal role of Porphyry (3rd century A. D.) in denying a 6th century date for Daniel, and assigning to it the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Harrison also underscores the anti-supernaturalistic assumptions of the neo-Platonic philosopher, who ". . . commenced his reasoning from the a priori assumption that there could be no predictive element in prophecy, so that the work could only be historical in nature, and therefore of a late date. This formidable heathen antagonist of the Christian faith maintained that the author of Daniel had lied in order to revive the hopes of contemporary Jews in the midst of their adversities. . . . The German literary-critical movement seized avidly upon the supposition that the prophecy could contain no predictive element, and repudiated the Jewish and Christian tradition of a sixth-century B. C. date of composition for the book. . . . At the outset it has to be stated that there can be no question whatever as to the influence that the views of Porphyry exercised over the minds of scholars who denied a predictive element to Hebrew prophecy. For them, prophecy consisted in forth telling rather than foretelling, so that any aspect of the latter could have no place in true prophecy."4 Young agrees with this specifically5 where the dating of the entire book of Daniel is concerned, as well as in the case of the AProphecy of the Seventy Weeks@ in chapter 9.6
Thus, both Dispensational and non-Dispensational evangelical scholars dismiss the Maccabean school of interpretation of Daniel 9 as rooted in a presuppositional anti-supernaturalism which either distorts or ignores internal evidences which point to the unity of the entire book under the authorship of the 6th century prophet. The higher critics, who almost uniformly adhere to the interpretation, assert their position with equal vehemence:
This chapter [chapter 9 of Daniel] consists, not of a symbolic vision, as in chs. 7-8, but of a revelation made directly by an angel. In answer to Daniel's prayer for a solution to the problem of why Jeremiah's prophecy of a restoration of Israel after 70 years has not been fulfilled, the angel Gabriel explains to him that the prophecy means 70 weeks of years - i. e., 7 times 70 years. Moreover, Gabriel divides these 490 years into three very unequal periods of 49, 434, and 7 years, respectively. Because the writer's calculations are only approximate and his historical references not always clear, there is still some difference of opinion in interpreting certain details in Gabriel's explanation. But practically all exegetes now agree that the 490 years terminate in the end of Antiochus IV Epiphanes' persecution; the once common opinion that saw in vv. 26-27 a reference to the death of Jesus Christ is now abandoned by almost all exegetes [emphasis mine].7
The Catholic exegete, Hartmann, provides an excellent synopsis of the Maccabean summary of the prophecy.8 He translates the "Seventy Weeks" as "seventy Sabbatical periods." The change from the 70 years of Jeremiah to 7 times 70 years is based not only on the fact that Israel's lack of complete repentance merited this sevenfold punishment (Lv. 26: 34-35) but also on 2 Chr. 36: 21, where Jeremiah's prophecy is connected with the Sabbatical years spoken of in Lv. 26: 34-35. Verse 24, for Hartmann, involves a brief summary of the whole period of 490 years. If reckoned at its longest, from the time that Jeremiah first spoke his prophecy (605) to the end of Antiochus IV Epiphanes' persecution (164), this period would be "only 441 years. But the writer, who no doubt knew little of the chronology of the early post-exilic period, would not be disturbed by this discrepancy between his symbolic numbers and the historical facts." 9 [emphasis mine]. Hartmann indicates that the reference to the "most holy will be anointed" almost certainly refers to the consecration by Judas Maccabeus of the restored Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple, although he acknowledges that the Church Fathers often applied it to Jesus, "the Anointed One."10 In verses 25-27, the three main periods of the 490 years are acknowledged to exist. Hartmann takes the reference to the anointed one of verse 25 as "probably" Cyrus the Great; less likely as Zerubbabel or the high priest Joshua. "Only if one reckons from the second utterance of Jeremiah's prophecy (ca. 595) to the anointing of Cyrus as king of Persia (558 - a date the writer of Dn 9 would hardly know!) could the required 49 years be approximately obtained. But the following words imply that the first period extends to the beginning of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which would embrace much more than seven weeks of years."11 [emphasis mine] He then indicates that the 62 weeks of years, or 434 years, allowed for the rebuilding of Jerusalem are "too many by far; from 538-171 (the next date) is only 367 years."12 [emphasis mine] In verse 26, Hartmann assigns to the "anointed shall be cut down", the historical referent of the deposed high priest, Onias III, and his murder in Antioch in 171 B. C., thus his failure to possess the city of Jerusalem. Also in verse 26, "the people of a leader" is linked to the Syrian army of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, which plundered the Jerusalem Temple in 169 and 167. The phrase, "for one week" in verse 27 is the period after Onias' death (170-163), with the accompanying theory that the writer of the chapter was writing a few months before the persecution ended in December, 164. The "firm pact with the many" is allegedly Antiochus IV Epiphanes' alliance with renegade Jews who favored the Hellenization of their culture. "Half the week" is for Hartmann, the second half of the seven year period beginning in 170, although he insists that the Temple desecration actually lasted only three years - from December, 167, to December, 164.
back to top
LMS President, Rev. Ralph Spears presided and preached at the ordination and installation service for Rev. Luther Baug-ham, in Urbanna, Virginia, on July 27, 2001. Rev. Baugham is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Middlesex County, VA. Trinity Lutheran Church, founded in 1993, is the only Lutheran Church in the county. In addition to his pastoral duties there, he is a chaplain at the Deerfield Correctional Center. Trinity Lutheran has applied for membership in the LMS-USA.
Rev. Frank Lukasiewicz was ordained into the pastoral ministry on August 12, 2001. The service of ordination was held in River Falls, WI. LMS Synodical president, Rev. John Erickson, presided and LMS pastor, Rev. Jeffery Iverson was the preacher.
As a mission developer pastor, Rev. Luka-siewicz began work in the Hudson / River Falls / Prescott, WI, area in the summer of 2000. Servant of the Shepherd Lutheran Church, an independent Lutheran congregation, was organized several months after Pastor Lukasiewicz's church planting efforts began. The congregation meets in River Falls, WI.
back to top
The LMS-USA is a Biblical, Confessional, Evangelical, Liturgical, Congregational
expression of the universal (catholic) orthodox Church on earth. It is a
'Forum by Subscription.' As a 'Forum' the intent is that there will be an
ongoing discussion of theological issues and concerns among clergy and lay
alike. The LMS-USA meets annually for a Theological Conference and this
publication, besides carrying news of the Ministerium and Synod, functions
also as a vehicle for this continuing dialogue.
For information or to make comment contact:
2837 East New York St.,
Indianapolis, IN 46201
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728
email - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
back to top