Update from President Harrison on Large Catechism
Feb. 2, 2023
Grace and peace in Christ.
Last week, I requested that Concordia Publishing House (CPH) pause distribution of Luther’s Large Catechism with Annotations and Contemporary Applications. I made this request out of an abundance of caution as an online disturbance was taking place over some brief quotations from the “Contemporary Applications” essays in the book. I have had time to re-evaluate the controverted sentences and found that while some things might have been expressed more clearly, nevertheless, there is nothing in the content of the volume promoting critical race theory (CRT), confusion of sexuality issues, or any theological position at odds with biblical and confessional Lutheranism. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s doctrine is established only by the Scriptures and confessed in the Book of Concord. By God’s grace we remain steadfast in this eternal truth and confession as we await the return of our blessed Savior Jesus Christ.
Frankly, I think each reader will be astounded at the content and quality of the volume.
I have asked CPH to resume distribution. According to the Bylaws of the Synod, I do not have the authority formally to withhold distribution of a book that has gone through the doctrinal review process. The Synod does allow — in fact it welcomes — the expression of concerns via the Commission on Doctrinal Review, which is then bound to follow the process outlined in Synod Bylaw 188.8.131.52.2 (p. 143 in the 2019 Handbook). The Commission on Theology and Church Relations (email@example.com) and my office (firstname.lastname@example.org) are happy to hear both your affirmations and concerns.
I deplore the unchristian attacks on the servants of the church who edited and contributed to the production of the volume, including the editors, our faithful members of the CTCR, CPH and more. At the same time, we invite thoughtful critique and criticism, which will be given due consideration moving forward.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24–25).
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (lcms.org)
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, with nearly 2 million baptized members in some 6,100 congregations coast to coast, is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ.