What is the Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism?

Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, CPH

Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, CPH

Luther’s Small Catechism consists of the Six Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine (Section 1): the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. It also includes daily prayers (Section 2), a table of duties for Christians (Section 3), and a guide for Christians to use as they prepare to receive Holy Communion (Section 4).

This is sometimes referred to as the Enchiridion. When we confess “the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as you have learned to know if from the Small Catechism to be faithful and true” (Rite of Confirmation, LSB Agenda, p. 29), it is only to this that we are subscribing.

An explanation section has regularly accompanied editions of Luther’s Small Catechism since the early days of Lutheranism. Luther was not the author of this explanation, instead, others wrote it while commenting on Luther’s catechism. Ultimately, the root of most current forms of the “Explanation” can be traced back to the work of  Johann Konrad Dietrich in his Institutiones catecheticae, published in the 17th century. That foundational work has been updated over the generations to meet the needs of Christian educators who use the “Explanation” as the basis for catechetical training. Due to the number of contributors and to the constant editing of the text over the centuries, the work cannot be attributed to one or even a few contributors. However, on page 45 of the current edition offered by Concordia Publishing House, you will find,

This explanation has been based upon and largely includes the work of Johann Konrad Dietrich (1575–1639), Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811–1887), Heinrich Christian Schwann (1819–1905), and the committee that prepared the synodical catechism of 1943.

Concordia Publishing House has updated the catechism in cooperation with the LCMS since at least 1943.



A neighborhood cat adopted our yard last week. We have a small garden fountain and he joined the squirrels and birds who drink from it on a regular basis throughout the season. He didn’t look too healthy, he was skinny and . . . reliant. I had my thoughts, which I did not share with the grandchildren, that he had picked our yard for his hospice—a comfortable place to be during his last days. He’s an orange tabby. Green eyes. Terribly thin.

It almost hurt to look at him.

After sitting by the fountain for most of the afternoon, I suffered my spouse’s scorn, and put out a small plate of cat kibble. To the children’s surprise he wasn’t much interested. They brought the dish back in and I added some milk to the dry kibble and popped it in the microwave for a few seconds. Warm milk and softened food, and our little visitor was eating. Some, but not all. And then he didn’t leave.

He’s not the only stray cat in our neighborhood. So over the next few days we have had opportunity to talk with the children about pet ownership and the responsibility we take on when we take a companion pet into the family. We talked about how it is really unfair to a cat or dog or whatever—an animal that has been meant and trained to be our companion—to take away our care and turn it out to live on it’s own, or care so little about it, that the pet has to try and live in a way it was never intended. These abandoned pets, these former companions, often don’t have the skills they need to find food, stay warm, or be safe. They may ‘survive’ for a while, but they seldom thrive.

Our visitor didn’t ever get too far from the fountain. Only one evening over the past few days did the kids not find him somewhere in the garden. Most days he took over the black Welcome mat at the back door, sunning himself most of the morning. We had fewer squirrels and birds in the yard last week. They evidently found a different place to get a drink instead of take a chance on the cat. I don’t think he had the interest the give chase, but they didn’t need to know that.

I threw an old towel down under the bush that became his favorite napping spot. He took a lot of naps, the kids tell me.

This morning the kids had been up, and after feeding our indoor cats, a bowel of milk and kibble was prepared for the visitor. When I came down after my shower, there they stood; the granddaughter even had her toddler-brother in her arms—I think more for the comfort than anything else. “Grandpa, Sandy didn’t move this morning.”

Yeah, we named him.

I knew this day was coming. I went outside and donned my leather garden gloves. There were three small faces at the back window. Their Mom and Grandma were there too. Living in the City we’re pretty ruthless when it comes to disposal of dead squirrels and birds in the yard (a couple of dumb birds tend to drown in the fountain each season). But the cat, Sandy, I knew would be different for them.

I pulled a few branches aside, “See,” I hear over my shoulder. “I tried to see if he was breathing (hands going up and down to make his point), but he’s not.” I hadn’t heard the grandson come out but I shooed him back in the house. Our visitor clearly died in his sleep. I am sure not too many strays get to do that, under a favored bush, in the yard of a family who showed him some kindness. I gently removed the stiff form from our garden and put him in the bin for the City to take care of.

After I returned from the grim task of such an undignified disposal, I put away the gloves and went into the house. The granddaughter needed a hug; tears glistened in her eyes. As I held her tight for a moment, we consoled each other that while death comes to all our pets eventually, we thank God that he provides us with such wonderful companions. And tonight in our devotions we’ll say a prayer of thanks to God for Mona our Great Pyrenees, for Klondike and Merci the cats in our home, and for Bailey and Denali, Pepper and Raven, and the other several pets who have occupied our home and our hearts over the years.

There are all kinds of lessons we teach our children along the way. Some of most important lessons are unplanned. This one walked in on four paws and gave us opportunity to show kindness and care. And taught us a lesson on how to say good-bye.

Summer Reading: Book of Concord

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (CPH)

Pastor Johann Caauwe over at A Shepherd’s Story is starting a summer-read of the Book of Concord and invites us to read with him. For many, the more relaxed schedules of summer allow for adding some extra reading to a daily devotion, or for others, replacing the regular devotion with a project like reading of the Book of Concord over the Summer.

Pastor Caauwe offers some useful links:

The summer schedule using Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions here.

The summer schedule using other popular editions of the book of Concord: Triglot, Tappert, or KolbWengert or Die Bekenntnis-Schriften here.

You can read the Book of Concord on line right here.

And you can participate in a discussion of the daily readings here.

Defining Who Is A Person

In Brief

our culture war over who is a  “person” effects not only how we approach and understand our human relationships  but most importantly how we understand our salvation in the person Jesus Christ.

Pastor Mark Sell shared with me a summary of his presentation on the January 21, 2010 Supreme Court (SC) ruling in the case CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION. This is getting a lot of play because of corporations funding campaign speech. That is not the big news, and if it were the news, probably wouldn’t appear here. Rather, the big news centers around the word “person” and how it is defined and used. This has monumental ramifications on all of U.S. society and in the historic Christian Church. So, with his permission, Pr. Sell:


Law & The Courts

The real issue is the word person, meaning, “That which subsists of itself.” Stay with me. I know it seems quite “egghead,” but it influences every legal transaction in our country. The recent ruling begins to return to the historical definition of person, That definition was in place for most of Western civilization until the 1973 Roe v. Wade SC decision. (The thrust was a states’ rights issue along with privacy, but it is also seen to impact the legal definition   of a “person.”)

According to the law, a person is that which subsists of itself. It is a definition that assumes and substantiates the unique individual “thing” or entity. This is why a whale is a person, a plant is a person, a corporation is a person, and a human is a person—that which subsists of itself. It defines an individual who/which has legal (philosophical and medical) standing.

When the psychological definition of person became the foundation of law, it confused many of our legal decisions and therefore confused the moral ramifications of persons. Of course, the most detrimental ramification of the Roe v. Wade definition of person to our society and subsequent legal decisions was the effect on the person in the womb and the culture war that has ensued.

If you change the individualistic definition of person, that which subsists of itself, then you can do the same outside of the womb if the psychological criteria are not met. The implications of this extends from birth to death.

Humans are also persons in the law—in and outside of the womb. If a young or old human person doesn’t meet our psychological definitions,  the law can change their legal standing and, thus, their importance to the society medically, philosophically, and educationally.

This is why we now face not only decisions about the person in the womb after 1973, but now also persons outside of the womb. Euthanasia, assisted suicide, marriage, family, individual rights, and so on, are all controversial issues today, when in the past, they weren’t. It’s because we are asked, “What do you mean by person?”

The One, Holy, Christian and Apostolic Church

The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is understood as one God in three persons. What is the meaning of person in the Trinity? Again, “That which subsists of itself.” The three persons of the Trinity are unique individual persons, not based upon a psychological definition, but upon the historic use of the word person. This is foundational to the Scriptures, creeds, and what we confess as Christians about the Holy Trinity. Of course, the very foundation of our Christian faith is the person of Jesus Christ, the God/Man, who subsists of Himself.

The personhood of Christ is why we confess that Jesus died on the cross, not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost. The latter are different persons—they subsist of themselves.

The consequence of the Roe v. Wade definition of person has terribly influenced all of Christianity because, especially in American churches. It has allowed the psychological definition of “person” to influence who Jesus is and how we practice the teachings He fulfilled from the Old Testament and was in the New Testament and how He continues to be present in the Word and Sacraments.

This is why the Holy Christian Church is part of our culture war of “persons.” Not only is every human on the line, along with marriage, abortion, children, but most importantly our salvation in the person Jesus Christ.


The fury is really over the definition of person, even though it is starting with “corporations” who are persons in the law and who thus have free speech. However, this return to the historic and common use of the term person is an earth-shattering shift for the good of our society and the Church. The historic use of person is the definition the Christian Church uses when she speaks of the three persons of the Trinity. Roe v. Wade was based upon a psychological definition of person, not the historical “uniqueness” of personhood. Roe v. Wade destroyed the Trinity, along with millions of babies.

The Particulars

No. 08–205. Argued March 24, 2009—Reargued September 9, 2009––Decided January 21, 2010

19 1/21/10 08-205 Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n K 558/2

ROE v. WADE, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)
410 U.S. 113
No. 70-18.

Roe v Wade: Entire decision

Pastor Sell has promised to attend to the comments. So, if you are so enclined, feel free to engage him.

Evening & Morning: The Music of Lutheran Daily Prayer

This beautifully sung and recorded CD by the Kantorei of Concordia Theological Seminary includes:

Evening & Morning: CPH

* Matins (Tracks 01–08)
* Vespers (Tracks 09–14)
* Morning Prayer (Tracks 15–21)
* Evening Prayer (Tracks 22–29)
* Compline (Tracks 30–38)
* Litany (Track 39)

Evening and Morning: Music of Lutheran Daily Prayer is a wonderful complementary product for user of Treasury of Daily Prayer.

List of tracks:

01 Matins Sentences
02 Matins Venite
03 Matins Responsory
04 Matins Te Deum
05 Matins Benedictus
06 Matins Kyrie/Our Father
07 Matins Collect
08 Matins Benedictus & Benediction
09 Vespers Sentences
10 Vespers Responsory
11 Vespers Magnificat
12 Vespers Kyrie/Our Father
13 Vespers Collect
14 Vespers Benedictus & Benediction
15 Morning Prayer Sentences
16 Morning Prayer Venite
17 Morning Prayer In Many Ways
18 Morning Prayer Benedictus
19 Morning Prayer Collect
20 Morning Prayer Our Father
21 Morning Prayer Benedictus & Benediction
22 Evening Prayer Service of Light
23 Evening Prayer Psalm 141
24 Evening Prayer In Many Ways
25 Evening Prayer Magnificat
26 Evening Prayer Litany
27 Evening Prayer Collect
28 Evening Prayer Our Father
29 Evening Prayer Benedictus & Benediction
30 Compline Opening Sentences
31 Compline Confession
32 Compline Lessons
33 Compline Responsory
34 Compline Prayer
35 Compline Prayers
36 Compline Our Father
37 Compline Nunc Dimittis
38 Compline Benediction
39 Litany

Want to know more about the Kantorei? Check out this post at CyberBretheren.

Stats and observations at 1 year

Examining site statistics

This weekend is the 1st anniversary of Blog My Soul’s move to WordPress. So I thought I would share with you some of the stats for this past year.

Top Posts and Pages in the Last 12 Months

Prostate Cancer Journal (page)
Revealed! Music planned for Treasury of Daily Prayer
Traditional Churches Preferred by the Unchurched
Sermons & Devos (page)
Ukrainian Bishop uses Treasury of Daily Prayer
Lutheranism 101 (page)
Prostate Cancer Journal: Positive for Cancer
Prostate Cancer Journal: The Choices We Make
Prostate Cancer Journal: You’re Going to Do What?
Prostate Cancer Journal: Today I take the test
About (page)
Prostate Cancer Journal: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Prostate Cancer Journal: Surgery & Recovery Update
What are Ember Days?
Who are the guardian angels?
How Lutherans Worship – 2 Making the Sign of the Cross
Ecclesiastical Terms (page)
Prostate Cancer Journal: My Friend Peter
How Lutherans Worship (page)

Ukrainian Bishop uses Treasury of Daily Prayer

Who are the guardian angels?

Prostate Cancer Journal: You’re Going to Do What?

Prostate Cancer Journal: Today I take the test

How Lutherans Worship – 2 Making the Sign of the Cross

What are Ember Days

Happy Anniversary

Prostate Cancer Journal: Positive for Cancer

Sermons & Devos

How Lutherans Worship

Google Analytics was installed in May. Since then there have been 2,771 visitors to the blog with 68% being new visitors and 31% of you being return visitors.

Thanks for a great year! I hope to see you again in 2010.