Book of Concord Bible Class #5: Confessional Subscription

“The Word of God alone should be and remain the only standard and rule of doctrine” (FC SD Rule and Norm 9).  Concerning the church fathers and  church councils, we accept them in so far as they agree with the Word of God, “to which everything should be subjected” (9).   However, the church does need a “summary of our Christian doctrine… a unanimously accepted, definite, common form of doctrine, which all our evangelical churches together and in common confess, from and according to which, because it has been derived from God’s Word, all other writings should be judged and adjusted as to how far they are to be approved and accepted” (10).  This summary serves the church by maintaining a standard by which members can maintain the true doctrine.

A Lutheran Church by definition should subscribe unconditionally to the Book of Concord, because(Latin: quia) it agrees with the Word of God.  The Lutheran Confessions themselves speak of just that kind of subscription.  “Therefore we also have determined not to depart even a finger’s breadth either from the subjects themselves, or from the phrases which are found in them, but, the Spirit of the Lord aiding us, to persevere constantly, with the greatest harmony, in this godly agreement, and we intend to examine all controversies according to this true norm and declaration of the pure doctrine” (Preface to the Book of Concord).

Quiz #5 (tan sheet):  Quiz-5-for-Oct-6-Book-of-Concord-Prefaces.pdf
Handout 1 (white sheets with answers to the quiz on the second page): Subscription-What-Kind.pdf
Handout 2:  Historical-Introduction-6-7-.pdf

Book of Concord Bible Class #4: Councils and the Prefaces

The Lutheran theologians explain, in the preface to the entire Book of Concord, that they never intended teach anything new, but only hold “to the ancient consensus which the universal and orthodox church of Christ has believed, fought for against many heresies and errors, and repeatedly affirmed” (Preface, 3).

First, “We believe, teach, and confess that the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged…. Other writings of ancient and modern teachers, whatever their names, should not be put on a par with Holy Scripture. Every single one of them should be subordinated to the Scriptures and should be received in no other way and no further than as witnesses to the fashion in which the doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved in post-apostolic times….  The ancient church formulated symbols (that is, brief and explicit confessions) which were accepted as the unanimous, catholic, Christian faith and confessions of the orthodox and true church, namely, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. We pledge ourselves to these, and we hereby reject all heresies and teachings which have been introduced into the church of God contrary to them” (FC Ep Rule and Norm, 1-3).  Concerning the non-doctrinal canons of the councils, “Nothing should be changed in the accustomed rites without good reason, and to foster harmony those ancient customs should be kept which can be kept without sin or without great disadvantage” (Ap XV 50).

Note: At the beginning of each class, there will be a 5-minute quiz, which will be included in the links below. Immediately after the quiz, we will go over the answers to that quiz.  If you don’t want to hear the answers, take the quiz first, then start the audio of the class.  Written answers will be included in the second link, which is the present class outline.

Quiz #4 (blue sheet):  Quiz-4-for-Sep-22-Book-of-Concord-Scripture-Like-Creeds.pdf
Handouts (white sheet with answers to the quiz on the back):  Class-4-Book-of-Concord-and-Councils.pdf

Book of Concord Bible Class #3: The Scriptures and the Creeds

Simply put, this Bible class examines the Scriptures to see the newly-formed Christian church engage in creed-like statements of faith.  There are both professions of who Jesus is and His work on our behalf.  We the profession of faith used with baptism, the pledging of men into the Pastoral Office, and the rejection of heresy.

Note: At the beginning of each class, there will be a 5-minute quiz, which will be included in the links below. Immediately after the quiz, we will go over the answers to that quiz.  If you don’t want to hear the answers, take the quiz first, then start the audio of the class.  Written answers will be included in the second link, which is the present class outline.

Quiz #3 (Grey sheet):  Quiz-for-Sep-15-Book-of-Concord-Creeds-Part-2.pdf
Handouts (white sheet with answers to the quiz on the back):  Book-of-Concord-Class-3.pdf
Extra Source Materials:  Where-did-we-get-the-Creeds.pdf

The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.
Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf
Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Book of Concord Bible Class, Pt. 2: The Creeds

This Bible class presented an overview of the historic and ecumenical creeds of the Christian church.  The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest of the creeds.  Although it is first quoted at the end of the fourth century (390 and then 404), it has its roots in the old Roman Creed of the second century.  The Nicene Creed was approved at the council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and revised at the Council of Constantinople of 381 A.D.  The third Council of Toledo of 589 A.D. added the words, “And from the Son” (filioque).  This creed confesses the full divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit against the Arians and others.  The Athanasian Creed was most likely not written by Athanasius, even though the topics which it addresses are contemporaneous with Athanasius.  It was already in use in the 6th century and serves as a detailed explanation of the Trinity and the person of Christ.

The relationship between the Scripture and the Creeds can be summed up by two Latin phrases:  Scripture is norma normans (“the rule that rules”) but the creeds are norma normata (“a rule that is ruled”). Finally, we took a look at Mark 8:27-29 in which Jesus asks Peter, “But who do you say that I am?”

Note: At the beginning of each class, there will be a 5-minute quiz, which will be included in the links below. Immediately after the quiz, we will go over the answers to that quiz.  If you don’t want to hear the answers, take the quiz first, then start the audio of the class.  Written answers will be included in the second link, which is the present class outline.

Quiz #2 (Pink sheet):  Quiz-for-Sep-8-Book-of-Concord-Creeds.pdf
Handouts (white sheet with answers to the quiz on the back):  Book-of-Concord-Class-2-Student-Guide.pdf
Extra Source Materials: Three-ecumenical-creeds.pdf  and Apostles-Creed-Background.pdf

The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.
Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf
Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Book of Concord Bible Class, Pt. 1: Introduction

This Bible class is the beginning of a 9-month course on the Book of Concord, the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  A creed is a summary statement of the religious belief of a certain group of people. We begin this course by responding to five common reasons which groups give for being non-creedal (or even anti-creedal). After that, we examine the five ways in which creeds have served the church.

Note: At the beginning of each class, there will be a 5-minute quiz, which will be included in the links below. Immediately after the quiz, we will go over the answers to that quiz.  If you don’t want to hear the answers, take the quiz first, then start the audio of the class.  Written answers will be included in the second link, which is present class outline.

Non-creedal (or even anti-creedal):

  1. The Bible alone: No creed but the Bible
  2. Sinful man is incapable of making a sinless statement of faith.
  3. Experience: No creed but Jesus
  4. Creeds impinge on the individual Christian’s freedom of conscience by establishing a “binding authoritative confessions of faith”
  5. Creeds divide, rather than unite people

 Why have creeds?

  1. Liturgical: Profession of catholic faith (i.e. universal, the faith of the Christian church), Standard to the World
  2. Ministers: A guide for preaching/instruction, Principle of Interpretation, Meaning of Scripture.  It tells what is most important or the guiding principles.
  3. Discipline: State the truth in response to heresy. Serves as signposts to Heresy – shutting out the heretic, and setting boundaries for authentic Christian theology and life.
  4. Baptism: Teaching for conversion to the Christian faith (into which one is baptized)
  5. Holy Communion: Catechetical teaching for the baptized, Catechism

Quiz #1 (Green sheet):  Quiz-for-Sep-1-Book-of-Concord-Introduction.pdf
Handouts (white sheet with answers to the quiz on the back):  Book-of-Concord-Intro-Student-Guide.pdf

The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.
Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf
Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt.21: The Wrap-up

In the beginning there was a distinction between the Creator and His Creation.  Yet at a point in time “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).  The divine second person of the Trinity took up a human nature and manifested Himself to our human senses.  This God-Man appointed Apostles to be His eyewitnesses, particularly of His resurrection from the dead.  Through this empirical evidence of the Apostolic witnesses we are directed to believe that Jesus is the promised Christ and receive life in His name.   Strict apologetics (the scientific validation of  Scriptural truth) is quite limited to the knowledge that there is a god who also demands moral behavior.  From there, we must quickly move on to the revealed knowledge  which tells us who God is, what He has done, and what His will is toward us.  Revealed knowledge creates faith in the promise of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, human reason, natural law, logic and philosophy can be employed within the sphere of the senses.  Although apologetics and existential proofs for God are valid, the real “search” for God begins with the incarnation.  Luther uses the account of Jacob’s ladder(Gen 28) to teach us not to approach heaven by human reason speculating about the divine majesty, instead we are to embrace the incarnated Jesus Christ as presented in the Word.  “There is no other God than this Man Jesus Christ”(LW 26:29).  John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  The New Testament is a confirmation of the historical Jesus just as it was promised in the Old Testament.  “We have the prophetic word confirmed…” (2 Peter 1:19-21).

The individual Christian and the incarnate Christ live in both kingdoms simultaneously.  It is within the vocations of the three estates that we see the proper use of apologetics.  It is used by parents in teaching and raising children to serve society and the church. If parents employ teachers to help them in their God-given task, then they need to be on guard against those who would deny not only natural knowledge, but revealed knowledge as well.  Individual Christians must speak up for the historicity of the Scriptures and the truthfulness of the Word of God.  And, yes, we need to beware of philosophy and empty deceit (Col 2:8) and cast down any arguments which exalt themselves beyond its proper sphere(2 Cor 10:4-5).  But ultimately we must present the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.  The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins is the only saving message of truth.  If the hearer is offended by the cross of Christ or thinks that its message is foolishness, then so be it.  There is no other name by which we must be saved.

Handouts 1:The Search for God Begins with the Incarnation.pdf
Handouts 2: Lutheranism-and-the-defense-of-the-Christian-Faith-Montgomery.pdf
Overhead 1: Overheads-Aug-25-2019.pdf

Full document cited in this lesson:
http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/montgomerychristianapologetics.pdf
http://www.blts.edu/wp-content/uploads/lsq/11-1.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 20: Moving Forward 3

“Of all the religious beliefs in the world, past or present, none have more thoroughly based themselves on history than Judaism and Christianity.  the divine-human encounter in the biblical faith always involves claims about real people, living in real places, who acted in real events in the past, many of which are also cited in secular history.  …Judeo-Christianity’s Scripture encompass a two-thousand-year-plus period–two millennia in which its holy books constantly interlaced themselves with history” (“In the Fullness of Time” by Paul L. Maier, Introduction p. xv).  Human reason is competent to examine history and history’s artifacts.

Ken Ham explains the difference between observation science (sometimes called experimental science) and historical science (sometimes called origins science).  Scientific explanations are appropriate for observable facts, but scientific explanations concerning origin are not verifiable.  Science has exceeded its ability for knowledge.  If reason would remain within its sphere, then there would be no contradiction with theology.  Nevertheless, reason often assumes a position of antagonism to revealed truth (Heinrich Schmid).  If an unbeliever refuses plain evidence and denies logic, we learn man’s real reason for denying the truth.

Many of the passages which are used as proof texts for a scientific defense of the truth (apologetics), only prove that Christians ought to use the Scriptures to “give a reason for the hope that is within them” (1 Peter 3:15) and to “contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3).  There are two passages which tell Christians to beware of human reason going beyond its sphere(Col 2:8).  We are told to pull down everything which exalts itself about the knowledge of God in the Holy Scriptures (2 Cor 10:4-5).

Overheads:   Overheads-for-Aug-18-2019.pdf
Handout from August 11 (grey):  Naturalism-Presuppositions.pdf
Handout for August 18 (white): Science-and-the-Bible-for-Aug-18-2019.pdf

Book of Concord Bible Study Starts September 1, 2019

Dust off your Book of Concord and start reading.  Sunday, September 1, we will begin a new 9-month Bible study on the Book of Concord.

  • You keep saying that you are going to read through it.  Well, here is your chance.
  • I have provided a reading guide, so your new Adam can whack that recalcitrant old Adam with it each day.
  • “The Lutheran Church differs from all other churches in being essentially the Church of the pure Word and unadulterated Sacraments. Not the great number of her adherents, not her organizations, not her charitable and other institutions, not her beautiful customs and liturgical forms, etc., but the precious truths confessed by her symbols in perfect agreement with the Holy Scriptures constitute the true beauty and rich treasures of our Church, as well as the never-failing source of her vitality and power.  Wherever the Lutheran Church ignored her symbols or rejected all or some of them, there she always fell an easy prey to her enemies. But wherever she held fast to her God-given crown, esteemed and studied her confessions, and actually made them a norm and standard of her entire life and practice, there the Lutheran Church flourished and confounded all her enemies.   Accordingly, if Lutherans truly love their Church, and desire and seek her welfare, they must be faithful to her confessions and constantly be on their guard lest any one rob her of her treasure” (Concordia Triglotta, p.3).

The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.
Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf
Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 19: Moving Forward 2

With this class, we continue looking at the “Four Points Raised in John Warwick Montgomery’s article, ‘Christian Apologetics in the Light of the Lutheran Confessions.’”  Today’s class looks at points three and four.

3. After the fall, man has a bound will in spiritual matters (Ephesians 2:1, “dead in trespasses and sins.”)  Nevertheless, man still has freedom of the will in non-spiritual matters.  “The human will has liberty in the choice of works and things which reason comprehends by itself….   There is left in human nature reason and judgment concerning objects subjected to the senses.” The believer and unbeliever share a common ground of logic and fact. What are we to make of those who have reason and judgment and yet come to the illogical conclusion that there is no god(Psalm 14:1), etc.?  They are fools.  “…The power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says, Eph. 2, 2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses” (Ap XXVIII Free Will, 70-71).

4. Apart from the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit, man is neither enlightened nor converted.  Therefore, we must confess that none of the capacities of the unregenerate man(human reason, the knowledge which it can obtain, apologetics) permit him to mend his broken relationship with God.  Apologetics can reveal that man doesn’t know God, lacks righteousness, and doesn’t know God’s will toward man.  Thus, God the Holy Spirit works through the means of grace in order to create and strengthen faith, “… neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers” (FC SD II 55).  Furthermore the Word is not efficacious through the recitation of syllables, as if Scripture were a magic spell.  If the Word is twisted to a false interpretation, it abolishes the righteousness of faith.  The Holy Spirit works through the perspicuous teaching of the Word so that man is brought to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of that Word that we are saved by grace through faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ.  “No sane man can judge otherwise…” (Ap IV 254).

Outline for today’s lesson: Apologetics-Moving-Forward.pdf
Book of Concord References for today’s lesson:  Apologetics-Part-2-for-Aug-4-2019.pdf
Handout from July 21:  Apologetics-Definition-a.pdf  Page 2 has outline of Four Points Raised…

Note: Sunday, September 1, we will begin a new 9-month Bible study on the Book of Concord.  The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.

Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf

Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 18: Apologetics Moving Forward

In previous classes we have defined Apologetics as the scientific validation of the truth and absoluteness of the Christian religion against unbelief on the basis of human reason and science.  We previously looked at 1 Peter 3:15 and Jude 1:3, but these came up short as proof texts to support apologetics.  It would seem that the right use and limits for apologetics may be a bit more complex.  The use of human reason in apologetics is able to judge correctly in the things of this world.  Based on creation and conscience, apologetics can reveal that there is a God, who makes a distinction between right and wrong.  Nevertheless, apologetics cannot discover the will of God or validate “the truth and absoluteness of the Christian religion.”

Beginning with this class, we will look at the “Four Points Raised in John Warwick Montgomery’s article, ‘Christian Apologetics in the Light of the Lutheran Confessions.’”  Today’s class looks at points one and two.  1. Man cannot “by his own reason or strength” accomplish or make any advance toward his salvation.  Nevertheless, we do use human reason in a ministerial way when we use the laws of language to discover God’s will in the revealed knowledge of God.  2. History is a proper subject for apologetics.  The Christian faith is a historical religion that correctly describes reality.  Although faith is not merely knowledge, it does include historical knowledge of what the Triune God has done in history (combined with the promise concerning those facts).  “Therefore it is not enough to believe that Christ was born, suffered, was raised again, unless we add also this article, which is the purpose of the history: The forgiveness of sins” (Ap IV, What Is Justfiying Faith, 51).

Outline for today’s lesson: Apologetics-Moving-Forward.pdf
Book of Concord References for today’s lesson:  Apologetics-Part-2-for-Aug-4-2019.pdf
Handout from July 21:  Apologetics-Definition-a.pdf  Page 2 has outline of Four Points Raised…

Note: Sunday, September 1, we will begin a new 9-month Bible study on the Book of Concord.  The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.

Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf

Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf