When I was asked to write for brothers of John the Steadfast, at first I was reluctant. I’m a new pastor, less than a year in the ministry, and did not feel up to the task. But my friend who asked me to write swayed me. I met this same friend while visiting Concordia Theological Seminary, as I contemplated attending seminary. It was then that this friend gave me some of the best advice concerning the reading of the Lutheran Church fathers. He told me to read Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, and Walther…in that order! Time and time again, especially during seminary, his advice has proved to be invaluable. However, as many do, I have found that I have a favorite among these Lutheran Church Fathers.
As much as I love reading Luther, Martin Chemnitz takes up a lot of my reading time. Martin Chemnitz, known as the ‘second Martin’, organizes Luther’s thoughts in a meticulous manner, making Lutheran theology unbelievably accessable. You could say that Chemnitz is like the cliff notes of Luther, although that statement still leaves much desired. Along with his invaluable work in helping to formulate the Formula of Concord for the Lutheran Confessions, he has written many other orthodox works. We do not have all his works translated in English, but what we do have is quite the tome. There are his three volume Loci, his explacation of The Lord’s Supper, his profound and punctilious work on The Lord’s Prayer, his exhaustive work on The Two Natures of Christ, and his Examination of the Council of Trent to name a few. Oh, and let’s not forget his Ministry, Word, and Sacraments an Enchiridion, which at the very least, should be required reading for every seminarian. I have only begun to scratch the surface in reading these works of Chemnitz. Currently I’m reading his Examination of the Council of Trent, volume II, and his discussions on Baptism therein. In all these works, the repeated theme you see in Chemnitz’s writings is that he knew the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. He knew how to wield it. He knew how to strike a swift and deadly blow to every wind of false doctrine and ugly head of the devil.
Chemnitz was a warrior who could cut the heart out of the devil. He could not only quote the ‘It is written’, but do so like a precise Doctor prescribing just the right medicine for just the right disorderly disease. The deadly and complex disease of the heresy of Rome was no match for the gifted, encyclopic, Scripture grounded writings of Chemnitz. For this reason I am currently reading his Examination of the Council of Trent. My own father has been struck with the disease of the Roman heresy, and when such sickness strikes a family member as dear as one of your parents, it hurts. Its personal. I do not wish to dishonor my dear father, but his heart is deceived by the errors of Rome. This is a major reason why I am driven to the writings of Chemnitz. As you can imagine, I have had many long conversations with my father about the errors of the Roman, Papist teachings. It’s not easy to watch the devil dance around on your own father’s faith. It challenges your own faith at the core, because after all he is Dad and you look up to him.
But I thank God for the faithful Church father named Martin Chemnitz. And it is with this little introduction that I wish to begin writing for Brothers of John the Steadfast, a titled section called; Steadfast Chemnitz. As I read Chemnitz myself, I hope to share some of his illuminating thoughts on Scripture and his tireless battles against heresy. Maybe we can all learn some good sword fighting from such a steadfast, ‘second Martin’, and honorable father in the faith.
You can view and learn more about Chemnitz’s works here.
Rev. C. Brian Bucklew
Zion & Emmaus Lutheran Churches (Delmont and Tripp, S.D.)
Associate Editor’s Note: With this post we introduce Pastor Bucklew to the readers of BJS. I met Pastor Bucklew when he was just visiting at Fort Wayne. He will be a good resourceful reminder of one of our fathers in the faith and how even now his writings can help all of us. The Rev. Brian Bucklew was ordained and installed Aug. 7, 2011 as pastor of Emmaus Lutheran Church in Tripp and Zion Lutheran Church in Delmont, South Dakota. The Rev. Joshua Scheer of Cheyenne, Wyo., served as preacher. Rev. Bucklew is a 2011 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. Rev. Bucklew is originally from the Houston, Texas, area. He served four years active duty with the U.S. Army as a medic. He then attended Stephen F. Austin State University, attained a bachelor’s degree in nursing and became a registered nurse. His wife, Jennifer, also attended Stephen F. Austin State University and the University of Houston and holds a master’s degree in social work. Prior to attending the seminary, the Rev. Bucklew and family lived in Conway, Ark. They have two sons, Andrew and Joseph, and a daughter, Lydia.