Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei


This review was originally posted at Luther Library on 27 Febrary 2006.

Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei:
What the Lutheran Confessions Say about Worship

Few issues are more hotly contested in Lutheranism than worship. Churches have split over this one issue. In The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod much has been written about worship including Lutheran Worship History and Practice, Gathered Guests, Meaningful Worship, and The Unchanging Feast: The Nature and Basis of Lutheran Worship.

As editor of Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei, Dr. James Brauer of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis does not try to replicate the work of others. Instead, Dr. Brauer attempts to provide a useful resource for those interested in an in-depth study of Lutheran Worship as expounded upon in the Lutheran Confessions.

As opposed to offering a commentary on Lutheran worship as others do, Dr. Brauer chose to present all the references to worship in the Lutheran Confessions. Brauer uses the Kolb/Wengert edition of the Book of Concord nearly exclusively and also provides key phrases from both the German and Latin versions of the BOC. These are very helpful for those who are not as familiar with the original languages and are looking for textual variations in the Confessions without having to go through the full German and Latin editions.

This work is divided into nine distinct areas including Worship, the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Absolution, Prayer, Praise, Rites and Ceremonies, and finally a summary section. In addition, Dr. Brauer provides an excellent introductory section on the varying traditions of worship in different denominations including Pentecostals, Anglicans, Reformed, Anabaptists, Shakers, and many more.

As stated previously, Dr. Brauer’s work is not a commentary on Lutheran worship. He provides a resource for use alongside other addressing the topic. For anyone interested in Lutheran worship theology and practice this is an excellent resource to use with the excellent resources on worship already in print. For those who do not know the original languages of the Confessions it can be frustrating with all the examples given. However, it might provide some a motivation for further linguistic study.

Personally, the final two sections (Rites and Ceremonies and the Conclusion) were the most interesting and helpful. Dr. Brauer does an excellent job of providing Christ centered commentary on the Confessions in his conclusion and refutes some of the arguments made against maintaining the traditions of the Church. For interested people, there is an excerpt available on the CPH website.

Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei: What the Lutheran Confessions Say about Worship

ISBN 0758605935
Concordia Publishing House, 2005
304 pp., Hardcover
CPH Item Number 53-1126WEB

Highly recommended for anyone interested in Christian worship.

Written by guest reviewer Sam Powell of Nerd Heaven and edited by Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus.

Theology unit…

As many of you know I’m soon leaving for Baltimore, MD to student teach at Baltimore Lutheran School. At this point it looks like I will be teaching World History, American Law, and senior religion (possibly freshman religion… I’ll find out when I get there).

As part of my student teaching 1 experience we are required to write a theology unit plan. I really put this off because I wanted to base it on what I would be teaching in Baltimore… however… it has come to the point where I must just go ahead and do it… whether or not it applies to ST II. Here is the plan. I’m writing the unit for a comparative religion course. Ideally, the course would spend one week on another religion, the next week on another Christian denomination, then another religion, and repeat. I’m the kind of person that enjoys structure. I’ve also noticed that without structure a theology class can get… well… spastic. I struggled with how to make a comparative religion course structured, thoughtful, and relevant. Here is what I’ve come up with. I will give credit where credit is due. I found this at Beggers All. Basically the idea of the Gottesdienst program is using the liturgy for the basis of instruction. For example, the first lesson discusses who God is based on the opening words of the liturgy, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

My plan for my comparative religion course is to use the liturgy and the small catechism to serve as the basis of discussing other religions and Christian denominations. For example, in the lesson plans, confession and absolution in the liturgy could be used to discuss another religion or denomination’s view on sin, forgiveness, and even clergy/religious leaders. Another example, would be using the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed to discuss another group’s use of the Creeds or the religion’s doctrinal statement. In the same way Luther’s Small Catechism could be used as a basis for instruction. When the Lord’s Prayer comes up in a lesson that could be the stepping point for a discussion on how do they view prayer, God’s response to his people, etc. When Holy Baptism comes up this could be the starting point for discussing salvation, the means of grace, and specifically if there are sacraments observed.

I see many benefits in a program centered around the liturgy or the small catechism. For one, both would keep the students constantly in the Word because both are based completely on Holy Scripture. Another is that it serves as a further use of the liturgy and the Catechism in the lives of young people. They will see it not something that is just “done” in church on Sunday or memorized, but things that can be wonderful and useful parts of their lives. Finally, both the liturgy and the Catechism constantly point to Jesus. Without that structure, it is far to easy to lose focus. Any discussion of theology, especially discussing differences in religion and denominations has to have Jesus at the center.

Excuses for Sleeping in Church

Thanks to fellow Lutheran Blogger, Rev. Thomas Chryst, for the following humor:
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Good Excuses for Sleeping in Church (depending on the church)The folks at Wittenburg Door have been keeping track:

  • Good thing I’m a contemplative!
  • Whoa! The Third Heaven is so cool. There’s—whoops, sorry. They told me not to tell.
  • Isn’t this the healing service for narcolepsy?
  • I was testing to see if my new Bible cover is, uh, waterproof.
  • The church espresso machine is on the blink.
  • I wasn’t really asleep—just blinded by the pastor’s forehead.
  • I was entering into the Sabbath Rest.
  • Well, excuse me for staying up all night Saturday in prayer.
  • I was getting in touch with my inner Bible study.
  • I always snore when I’m slain in the Spirit.