First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
This is part 3 in a 4 part series on the Solas of the Reformation. Parts 1 and 2 can be found in the January and April newsletters, part 4 will be in the October edition.
A new edition of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is due for publication in the Fall. It will contain more bells and whistles that previous editions did not include, and ultimately will become pretty standard throughout the Synod fairly quickly.
We’ll have signup sheets at the appropriate time if you would like to order one, but here is the thing: the new one will look a lot like the old one, whether the old one you are referring to is the 1943 version, or the 1986 version, or the 1991 version. In fact, if you happened to come across the original 1529 version, it too would like very similar.
What’s up with that?
How can a catechism be updated every so often, and yet never actually change?
Well, what else never changes?
The Word never changes. The Bible never changes. The Word of God is timeless and unchanging; God’s Word does not change from one day to the next based on the times or the will of the people. God’s Word does not get updated every couple of years because a new discovery has been made. No; God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever. And if the Word of God doesn’t change, then neither does our doctrine.
This is a radical idea to be sure. Other confessions of faith believe that God’s word was written in a particular time and to a particular people and therefore does not apply to us modern day people. Some churches put great value on the Word, but they also place value on tradition and other manmade institutions to account for changes in the world. Still other religions rely on prophets to have a dream to reveal God’s new teaching to them.
What does this all look like? It sounds like chaos, and it means that the faithful today really do not look anything like the faithful of years ago. And it means that the faith is in danger of being led astray by false teachers, poor practices, and the whims and ways of the world.
But when the teachings of a church are based not on man or on practice, but rather on the solid ground of God’s Word, these dangers pass away. Because who determines the doctrine and practice of the Church? Not man; not tradition; not opinion polls; but rather the Word of God, the Word which never changes, but is the same yesterday, today and forever.
And that means that what you learn today, is the same things your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and all the way down the line learned; and it is what your children and grandchildren going forward will learn. God’s Word does not change. Not now; not ever.
So why a new edition of the Small Catechism? If the teachings never change, because the Word never changes, why make a new one?
The cynic would say it is about making money, but in reality, the new edition will do what all the old ones strove to do: to back up the teachings with more of the Word. To show you how the teachings of the Church provide real, solid answers to the question of how to live as a baptized child of God in the world today.
For the world does change, but the Word does not; therefore the answers never change.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt