Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A little more Walther (On reading material in the home.)

I thought this was important and a little funny, as well. From the "Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod", translated by Everette Meier, delivered in Iowa, 1879. This is not a newly translated piece, but new to me. In retrospect, it seems to me a "must-read"--long, thorough, convincing, instructive.

This quote is from close to the end, where there is a thesis: the synod "must make every effort to disseminate good literature."

I had to laugh at the excuse of people for not reading the Book of Concord: "What I'm not told, that leaves me cold." I'm assuming in German it was "Was ich nicht weiss, macht mich nicht heiss." --What I don't know can't make me hot (under the collar). Otherwise known in German as the "Vogel Strauss" policy, the "ostrich policy".

One thing more. During our discussion of the first thesis, we spoke a great deal about the Confessions. The Book of Concord should also be in every Lutheran home. For that reason, Synod should provide a good, inexpensive copy, and pastors should see to it that every home has one. Because "What I'm not told, leaves me cold." If a person isn't familiar with this book, he'll think, "That old book is just for pastors. I don't have to preach. After plowing all day, I can't sit down and study in the evening. If I read my morning and evening devotions, that's enough." No, that is not enough! The Lord doesn't want us to remain children, who are blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine; instead of that, He wants us to grow in knowledge so that we can teach others, contradict heretics--in short, become capable of doing the work of the office through which the body of Christ will be edified and built up" (Ephesians 4:12-14)

When a pastor first arrives in a new congregation, one of the first questions he should ask in the course of his visits with the members is this: "Dear friends, what kind of religious books do you have?" They may have only a Bible, a hymnal, and a catechism. Then you ask, "What kind of a Bible do you have? Do you know where it is?" They may answer, "Sadly, that's a good question; where is it anyway?" They may have to dig it out of a junk room and blow the dust off of it, since no one has used it for who knows how long. Then the pastor should say, "My, it sure is dusty! You know, it doesn't do any good just lying around, or using it only when you have a bad headache or something! You need to read it regularly. But in addition to that, you really need to get some more books. You don't just eat bread all the time, do you? No doubt you have all kinds of good food and drink in your kitchen, cellar, and the pantry. Why, then, would just one kind of food be enough for the soul?" You see, when our body needs something we can readily feel that. But it's very difficult to "feel" what the soul needs. The Holy Spirit has to create that feeling of need and number for different kinds of spiritual food. Of course, the various kinds of spiritual foods are the Bible, followed by the Book of Concord, Luther's writing,a biography of Luther, a booklet for confirmands such as our Timotheus, etc. These are books Christians should buy. And to facilitate that, pastors should take such books with them on their home visits and read interesting portions to the families. When the families listen to such excerpts, they will say, "If the book has wonderful parts like that, I'll buy it." That is how you must try to get them to make the joyful decision to buy a publication like the Altenburg Bible, even if it means sacrificing a few dollars. That will be effective even with those who are a bit reluctant at first, thinking that this will cost them another half-dollar. A number of American book dealers have even said that the price for such a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated book like the Altenburg Bible is more reasonable than any other publication in their store. (pp. 307, 308)

See the Essential Lutheran Library at CPH.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I enjoyed reading the passage;very practical.
Thank you for the gift of books;my Essential Lutheran Library at home is complete.