By Roger Drinnon An online survey is now available to provide early feedback on updating the “Explanation” of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, in keeping with 2013 Synod-convention Resolution 3-13A.
The Explanation of the catechism was last revised in 1991. According to the 2013 resolution — adopted by a vote of 913-7, “many changes in the understanding of morals, civil law and natural law in church and society” have occurred since then. Addressing these societal “changes in understanding” in such areas as same-sex marriage, beginning-and-end-of-life issues, drug legalization and religious liberties are factors behind the need to update the Explanation. “The updated Explanation will retain and preserve virtually all of the theological content of the current Small Catechism while presenting its content in a fresh manner to make it easier to use, understand and apply to real-life issues,” said the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR). The CTCR, with the concurrence of the Synod president and the help of Concordia Publishing House, initiated a process to update the Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation in February 2014. The process began with six surveys emailed monthly through July 2014 to rostered workers of the Synod for input on the current and future state of the Explanation. The new survey is the next step to obtain feedback from across the Synod on the template being proposed to update the explanation portion. “At this point, sample materials are being offered only to illustrate the proposed template, not the specific content,” said Lehenbauer. “As sections of the Explanation are completed, they will be shared with the Synod in similar surveys. That will be the time for people to make suggestions about modifying answers, adding or subtracting Scripture verses and passages, and so forth.” After this initial field-testing survey ends on May 15, a roughly yearlong drafting process will begin by the drafting committee working under the oversight of the CTCR. In addition to Lehenbauer, committee members include:
- Rev. Dr. Charles Arand, dean of Theological Research and Publications, director of the Center for the Care of Creation, and Waldemar A. and June Schuette Chair in Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
- Rev. Wally Arp, pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Oviedo, Fla.
- Rev. Thomas Egger, assistant professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
- Dr. Jan Lohmeyer, commissioned educator at Lutheran High North, Houston.
- Rev. John Pless, assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions and director of Field Education at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
- Rev. Larry Vogel, associate executive director of the CTCR.
Lehenbauer said when all sections have been completed and field tested, and after final review and approval by the CTCR and the Synod president’s office, the complete, proposed Explanation will be published — with hopes to have this completed in time for the 2017 celebration of the Reformation. For more information, read this month’s Reporter insert titled “Update to the Explanation of the Small Catechism.”
Roger Drinnon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications. Posted March 27, 2015