Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller and Seminarian Evan Goeglein play Law and/or Gospel, Praise Song Cruncher, How to Tell if You're Being Manipulated by a Youth Speaker, and Which Ladder, National Youth Gathering (LCMS) Edition (mp3, 1h13m22s, 25.2 MB, 2010-Aug-11)

The top five listener favorite hymns are studied:

5 -- Monday, Aug. 9: Pr. Bill Cwirla, "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

4 -- Tuesday, Aug. 10: Dr. Arthur Just, "The Church's One Foundation" (mp3, 54:30, 21.8 MB)

3 -- Wednesday, Aug. 11: "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

2 -- Thursday, Aug. 12: Dr. Arthur Just, "Thy Strong Word" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

1 -- Friday, Aug. 13: Pr. Wil Weedon, "God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

Listen live from 3-5 pm CT or on-demand at


How Does the Form and Shape of Worship Affect Faith?

(Click on the above link for the full article)

Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ; and to have such faith is to live in fellowship with God in Christ (receiving and trusting His gracious good gifts of life).

The preaching of the Word is primary, beginning with the Father’s own speaking of the Son. It is by this Word (His Son) that God creates and gives life to man; by this Word that He breathes His life-giving Holy Spirit into man, in the flesh. It is a divine Word, the speaking of God Himself, by which He reveals and gives Himself to man. In its confrontation with sinful man, it both accuses and forgives (Law and Gospel), and thereby calls to repentance and faith (in Christ, the Word).

This same Word, which is the almighty and eternal Son of God, has become flesh — true Man — part of His own creation — so that, in Him, in His own Person, God and man are perfectly united and in harmony forevermore. It is therefore by and with and in Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, that you live in fellowship with God (by faith), and not at all apart from Him. This is the case, both by His forgiveness of sins and by His gracious giving of Himself in love.

It is in and with Christ that you receive the Holy Spirit (the life-giving Breath of God) through the forgiveness of your sins. For Christ is the true and perfect Man, the new and better Adam, who has been anointed by the Spirit for you. He receives and bears the Spirit in the flesh on your behalf, in order to bestow the Spirit upon you (with the forgiveness of sins).


Piety Matters

(Click on the above link for the full article)

Can a religion be only cerebral? Is religion only a way of thinking and not a way of doing?

I don't believe so. I think that religion is a matter of soul, mind, and body. It is a way of thinking, doing, and living. In other words, it is a matter of piety. The old saw about “Lutheran substance and [American] Evangelical style” is all wrong – in fact, the catch phrase intentionally plays down the importance of a lived religion: it's merely “style.” And we all know that style is unimportant. Once men wore fluffy collars, now they wear ties. Just a manner of style.

But it's the wrong word. What the advocates of such a plan mean to say is: Lutheran substance, American Evangelical piety. The piety of a Christian is how he lives the faith he professes. Piety is what a Christian does and the words that rattle around in his head without him consciously thinking about them: the words and actions of his Sunday morning worship, how he prays in his daily life, the pattern of sound words that pop into his head throughout the week, the songs he sings, the proof texts he knows by heart and repeats to himself, how he explains the faith to his children, the way he dresses for worship, the popular activities he avoids because of his faith, and the like.

So is there a distinctively Lutheran piety? Or is being Lutheran simply a cerebral matter: Here is a list of doctrines: if you assent to these, then you are a Lutheran and your piety is up to you, as an individual or community, to devise on your own from whatever source you like. Is that how it is?


Parts 2 & 3 of Issues Etc. program on Law and Gospel with Dr Carl Fickenscher are posted here.

Fine Tuning - More Like the Baptists Every Day?

(Click on the above link for the full article)

Part 1 of a Series (Part 2 | Part 3)

As a former church musician in the Evangelical Free Church, I was for years immersed in efforts to use music to create enthusiasm for and numerical growth in worship attendance. The LCMS is going where I was, and subsequently left, in favor of a truly Lutheran brand of worship. The LCMS is looking more and more like the Free Church; not everywhere, but in enough places to cause alarm. And it is not so much about who is doing what, as much as there is a consciousness pervading the LCMS that is bound to make us into a more and more mainline protestant church and a less and less Lutheran church. Lutheran theology and worship is distinctive and has certain hallmarks that make it what it is. If we want to preserve these things, we need to speak more clearly about how we are not.

When Jesus comes again in glory to judge both the living and the dead, nothing will be set ablaze more quickly than 21st Century popular culture. Yet, it appears that we cannot wait to befoul ourselves with it. And the 2010 LCMS Convention provided some very good examples as to how. It was disappointing to me to witness the egalitarian manner in which worship music styles were treated. The arguments about how differing musical styles communicate different messages are well established, yet we insist on acting as if they do not, as if differing musical expressions carry no implications, for better or worse, one way or the other. At very least, the music of the pop-culture is carnal and not churchly.

My, How Times Have Changed by Pr. Thomas Messer

(Click on the above link for the full article)


I recently received a wonderful treasure from a dear parishioner, Sharyn (a.k.a. Trixie), which she came across a couple of weeks back.  It is an old copy of The Lutheran Witness, dated February 19, 1918.  I finally had some time to read through it today.  Wow!  This is not The Lutheran Witness I have come to know in our day and age.  The times, they have definitely changed.  This old copy of The Lutheran Witness is filled with theological articles and all of them are most decidedly Lutheran through and through.  There is no "fluff and puff" to this publication whatsoever.  This is deep stuff.  Theological stuff.  Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions emphasized throughout.  Quotes from Dr. Luther, other Lutheran theologians, and the church fathers.  Warnings against embracing the surrounding culture.  Warnings against following in the footsteps of the false teachers of the age (e.g. Billy Sunday).  Decidedly Lutheran.  Unashamedly Lutheran.  Unapologetically Lutheran.  Through and through!  Heck, even the cover screams Lutheran, complete with a picture of Dr. Luther along with his bold confession:  "Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise.  God help me.  Amen."   

I read through this old copy of The Lutheran Witness and then scanned through the latest copy of The Lutheran Witness which I received recently.  Simply no comparison.  The content and focus is so decidedly different that it is a shame that they bear the same title.  I'm not trying to be mean.  I'm sure the folks who produce today's version of this publication mean well and work hard at putting out a quality publication.  And, there are often some good articles in today's version.  But, let's be honest.  Today's version is not exactly deep on theology.  The focus is more on promoting synodical projects and programs, highlighting "successful" congregations and synodical personalities, sharing testimonials and feel-good stories, and so forth.  Today's version is more like synodical propaganda than bearing witness to the Lutheran confession of the faith.  Not so with this version from 1918.  Just take a look at the contents of this 1918 version and compare them with today's version:

"Crucified" (cover story)
Wow!  What an absolutely wonderful article this is.  It takes the reader through the prophecy of the crucifixion to the place of the crucifixion and finally deals with the shame of the crucifixion, all the while emphasizing in vivid detail what our Lord, Jesus Christ, did to accomplish our salvation.  Just to give you a taste, here are a few excerpts from the article:
"And they crucified Him."  Sublime brevity!  Divine eloquence!  The most stupendous fact of all ages is recorded without the least tremor of emotion.  Truly, the Evangelist was inspired by the Spirit to restrain his pen.  "And they crucified Him!"

Yes, He was counted a transgressor that we might be counted free; for "God hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."  2 Cor. 5,21.

Naked hung He there - the Lord of heaven and earth.  He was naked that we might be clothed with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness.  The soldiers divided His garments among themselves and cast lots - raffled - for the cloak, that it might be fulfilled as the Psalmist prophesied in the 22nd Psalm, v. 18:  "They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture."

Furthermore, Tertullian, in his Apology, states the circumstances of the crucifixion were announced by the Procurator himself in a dispatch to the Emperor Tiberius; and Justin, in his Apology to the Emperor Antonius, mentions the Acta Pilati, or public records, in which a full account may be found.


To read more, click here.

HT: Pr. Thomas Messer

Obvious question: What were they before they became theologians?


Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, Professor of Theology at Concordia University, Irvine in Irvine, Calif., and well-known as the co-host of the nationally syndicated radio program "The White Horse Inn", discusses Christ Alone with Pr. Todd Wilken.

Part 1

(mp3, 41:00, 16.4 MB, 2010-Jul-12)

Part 2

(mp3, 40:59, 16.4 MB, 2010-Jul-13)

Part 3 

(mp3, 40:30, 16.2 MB, 2010-Jul-14)

Part 4

(mp3, 26:32, 10.6 MB, 2010-Jul-15)

Part 5

(mp3, 54:11, 21.7 MB, 2010-Jul-16)

Dr. Carl FickenscherConcordia Theological Seminary, Ft Wayne, Ind., discusses the Law and Gospel with Pr. Todd Wilken

Part 1

(mp3, 40:59, 16.4 MB, 2010-Jul-06)

Part 2

(mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-Jul-20)

Part 3

(mp3, 40:29, 16.2 MB, 2010-Jul-21)

Part 4

(mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-Jul-27)

See also Dr. Fickenscher's article: "Are Today's Ears Hearing the Timeless Message?: Preaching and Hearing Law and Gospel in Today's Culture"

Guests talk about five past presidents of the LCMS with Pr. Todd Wilken (All 5 parts: mp3, 1h31m04s, 36.5 MB, 2010-Jul-05; transcript, 193 KB, 20 pages)

  1. Dr. Martin Noland talks about Dr. C.F.W. Walther (mp3, 18:31, 16.96 MB)

  2. Dr. Larry Rast talks about Dr. Friedrich Wyneken (mp3, 19:52, 18.2 MB)

  3. Dr. John Wohlrabe talks about Dr. Friedrich Pfotenhauer (mp3, 14:09, 12.97 MB)

  4. Dr. Paul Zimmerman talks about Dr. J.A.O. Preus, Jr. (mp3, 18:12, 16.67 MB)

  5. Dr. Ken Schurb talks about Dr. A.L. Barry (mp3, 20:18, 18.6 MB)

Presidents of the LCMS


Prof. David Berger, Associate Professor, Director of Library Services at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., discusses The Ablaze!® Program in the LCMS with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-Jun-14)

See his article, "Ablaze!®, the Movement"

See also Mr Scott Diekmann's series of articles on the related program, Transforming Congregations Network: A Non-Native Invasion (pdf, 36 pages, 421 KB)


Dr. T. David Gordon, Professor of Religion at Grove City College, Grove City, Pa., and author of the book, Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal, discusses Pop Culture and Church Music with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 35:25, 14.2 MB, 2010-Jun-29)


Pr William Weedon, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Hamel, Ill., discusses the hymn, "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart" with Pr Todd Wilken (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-June-17)


Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, Virginia, and author of the book, The Spirituality of the Cross, discusses Worship in Reformation Theology with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 28:28, 11.4 MB, 2010-Mar-25)


Pr. Wilken: "What do you make of the tendency now, sad to say, kind of an increasingly popular tendency, among people who have inherited this confession, this theology from the Lutheran reformation, to abandon the historic worship of the Church for, as you say, more man-centered, more me-centered, more feelings-centered methods and practices?"

Dr. Veith: "To somebody that comes from the outside into Lutheranism, who found in Lutheranism something so tremendous and so profound and so helpful in the most deepest way … it's amazing to me to see people who already have that and want to throw that away, and try to worship or practice in the way that I was leaving and found so shallow and so unhelpful ultimately. It's something that I just can't comprehend. And I think maybe it's the familiarity, and maybe they don't understand it, or they're tired of it or the grass is always greener on the other side, and it just puzzles me. I just can't understand why someone who has Lutheranism, Lutheran worship, would go to something so much less. It just staggers me."

My dear friend, Pr. Larry Peters, has written a fine piece you should read here. It raises a most interesting question in my mind about the extent to which a congregation or a Synod may honestly be considered "Lutheran." I would argue that when the documents comprising the Lutheran Symbols, the Christian Book of Concord, are no longer permitted to critique and challenge current teaching or practice; when instead our Church's Confession is relegated to the museum as an interesting artifact of what was once the case, then we have lost the right to the name "Lutheran." Whenever the Symbols are dismissed with "well, they can't mean THAT because we DO that and we're Lutherans after all," their corrective voice has been silenced and stilled. Well, not really. Rather ignored and shouted down. The voice of our fathers still rings out and it still challenges what we believe, teach, confess and practice. So are you and your congregation and your Synod ready to hear the living critique which the Symbols would offer? Then there might be hope for the Churches of the Augsburg Confession yet. If not, then shut out the lights, folks, and move on. Or, at least be honest and change the name on the door...

(HT: Issues, Etc., Blog of the Week)

Pr. Daniel Preus, Executive Director of Luther Academy and Assistant Pastor of Hope Lutheran, St. Louis, Mo., discusses Christ-Centered Christianity with Pr. Todd Wilken:

  1. Mount Sinai (mp3, 55:00, 22 MB, 2010-Mar-17)

  2. Mount Calvary (mp3, 54:28, 21.8 MB, 2010-Mar-24)

  3. Mount Zion (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-Apr-07)

The above discussions are based on Pr. Preus' book, Why I Am a Lutheran: Jesus at the Center

Why I Am a Lutheran: Jesus at the Center by Pr. Daniel Preus

Pr. Tim Pauls, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Boise, Idaho, discusses why youth go to church with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 26:28, 10.6 MB, 2010-May-07)


Dr. Cameron MacKenzie, Professor and Chairman of Historical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., discusses Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the Father of the LCMS, with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 28:30, 11.4 MB, 2010-May-07)