Walther’s Law and Gospel In Laymen’s Terms

For devotions and discipleship, one of my staff and I worked through C.F.W. Walther’s book titled, “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.” As a project I thought I would take up the challenge of re-writing each of Walther’s theses in laymen’s terms and in so doing, flesh out a basic summary of each of his theses. This series will be titled, “Law and Gospel In Laymen’s Terms” and it will be stretched out over the next several months. So, check in from time to time.

This series will also serve as a great introduction to those that are unfamiliar with Law and Gospel.  In other words, pass on these upcoming posts to your friends and family in order to introduce them to the subject and also to introduce them to the Brothers of John the Steadfast Website.  Hopefully you and your friends will find the posts to be very simplistic, straightforward and easy to understand.  I also encourage you to offer up any of your thoughts to the upcoming posts.  Will you give me a hand in further adapting Walther’s theses into laymen’s terms?

For today, check out the following Law and Gospel Summary Sheet and the highlighted summary of Law and Gospel by clicking here.


Pastor Richard

About Pastor Matt Richard

Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND. He was previously a Senior Pastor in Sidney, Montana, an Associate Pastor of Spiritual Care and Youth Ministries in Williston, North Dakota, and an Associate Pastor of Children and Youth in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, ND and his M.Div. from Lutheran Brethren Seminary, MN. His doctor of ministry thesis, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, was on exploring the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought. Pastor Richard is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte! To check out more articles by Pastor Matt you can visit his personal blog at: www.pastormattrichard.com.


Walther’s Law and Gospel In Laymen’s Terms — 16 Comments

  1. @CDJ #2

    CDJ, some Lutherans have reached senior citizenship without understanding the Small Catechism, after 20+ years under a (self defined) confessional pastor.
    I’d say, Yes.

  2. The Law/Gospel edition I recommended is not “dumbed down” … at all … but does provide helpful notes that will aid the reader.

    CDJ, you should have a copy of it, if you don’t.

  3. Laymen may also read W. H. T. Dau’s translation of C.F.W. Walther’s The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.

    According to the website, the Introduction and Preface by Dau, Walther’s theses, and his thirty-nine evening lectures, delivered between September, 1884 and November, 1885, are “an electronic reproduction of Walther’s Law and Gospel, published by Concordia Publishing House in 1929. The 1929 edition is in the public domain. In 1989, CPH released a copyrighted edition of Law and Gospel. It is identical to the 1929 edition, except that a new preface by J. A. O. Preus was added. The 1989 edition was not consulted in the production of this online edition.”

    BTW, on W. H. T. Dau’s dedication page in the 1929 edition is the following:

    To the Faculty of Concordia College at Adelaide, South Australia, this English edition of Walther’s classic, in recognition of honor conferred upon him, is gratefully dedicated by the author.

  4. @CDJ #2
    CDJ, have you ever read Law and Gospel? I have and, while I did understand what I read, I don’t have a problem with a “dumbed-down” edition, but I don’t really think “dumbed-down” is what Pr. Richard has in mind. IMHO ignorance of the writings of our Lutheran Fathers from Luther to Walther, Sasse and beyond is at the heart of many problems in the LCMS today. So, I welcome any attempt to rectify that situation by getting them into the hands and minds of the laity.

  5. @Mike #8
    Yeah, I read PDBL&G and ‘converted’ from WELS to LCMS after I read it and Kirche und Amt…
    Good luck getting pewsitters to read theological works these days.

  6. @CDJ #9

    I think pewsitters would read Pr Richard’s highlighted summary.  It’s very well-done and approachable for busy laymen.

  7. @Mike #8 Mike, I agree. The Small Catechism is certainly not dumbed-down theology! We know Luther did so to get the basics of the doctrine into the hands of fathers and Fathers!
    PS: Thanks Pr. Richard et al for your work in doing this. I will be using it.

  8. I hope folks aren’t thinking Lay Reader Edition means dumbed down. I wonder if CPH would have been better suited to call them Study Editions? The Reader Editions I have picked up have largely reminded me of study bibles. I like the notes and the translations are smooth enough to make for nice devotional reading.

  9. Yet another resource, Handling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today by John Pless…as to the Small Catechism as dumbed down theology, IMHO, in the past too many pastor’s felt it was good enough leaving those who were hungry for more at the mercy of the methobapticostal press.

  10. “Reader’s Edition” is used to describe a book with helps, notes, aids and background information to help the reader understand what he is reading better.

    Not sure how/why anyone would assume that is “dumbed down” … in fact, one might say that such an edition is “smarted up.”

    : )

  11. @Rev.Paul T. McCain #1

    The reader’s edition of Law and Gospel is an excellent resource in my library. As I worked through the book I found the auxiliary information contained in it quite beneficial to my study.

    I certainly wouldn’t describe the reader’s edition as “dumbed down” anything. I only hope more laymen will dig into this very important work of Walther’s. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if laymen would prefer to study Walther over, let’s say, Rob Bell or Rick Warren? Yeah, CPH is doing us a great service by providing easily accessible works such as the reader’s edition of Walther’s Law and Gospel.

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