Category Archives: Reader Recommendations

Reader Recommendation — A Summary of the Christian Faith (Catechesis), David Chytraeus

Member of our Facebook group, Erich Heidenreich, recommended A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), by David Chytraeus (1531-1600), translated by Richard Dinda, introduction by Paul T. McCain, Repristination Press, Decatur, Illinois (1994).

This is a translation of Chytraeus’ work originally titled Catechesis.

Eric says:

For further catechesis in addition to the Large Catechism I cannot recommend highly enough the 1568 book A Summary of the Christian Faith by David Chytraeus, one of the authors of the Formula of Concord. This is an excellent example of the Loci method being used in catechesis.

Here is the publisher’s description:

Originally intended for the advanced instruction of young people, Chytraeus’ A Summary of the Christian Faith is a marvelous book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the faith. Chytraeus (1531–1600), one of the authors of the Formula of Concord, ranks as one of the most significant Lutheran theologians of 16th century. His Summary is not marked by the various synodical concerns of later lay dogmatics; it is truly what it claims to be: A Summary of the Christian Faith.

    A Summary of the Christian Faith (Originally entitled Catechesis) offers two great blessings to its readers: (1) an opportunity to see how one of the Lutheran fathers confessed and taught the faith, and (2) an opportunity to grow in one’s own knowledge and appreciation of Christian doctrine. “Chytraeus had the irenic nature of Melanchthon with the doctrinal commitment of Luther.” (From the Introduction.)

    Chytraeus’ Summary is one of the earliest examples of a Lutheran dogmatics following the loci model first set forth by Philip Melanchthon in 1521. Unlike Chemnitz’s more extensive Loci Theologici, Chytraeus’ Summary was written for a lay audience. The work consists of 10 chapters: (1) God, (2) Creation, (3) The Law of God, (4) On Sin, (5) On the Remission of Sins, (6) On the New Obedience, (7) On the Sacrament, (8) On Repentance, (9) On the Church, (10) On the Immortality of the Church, the Resurrection, and Eternal Life.  Chytraeus’ “Brief Explanation” of the Lord’s Prayer is also appended to the Summary.

David Chytraeus is a person we should know more about. Brothers of John the Steadfast have a helpful brief biography on their Facebook page.

Repristination Press is a publishing house for confessional Lutherans. It Press was started in Fort Wayne, Indiana in June of 1993, beginning publication with several books by Wilhelm Loehe, Charles Porterfield Krauth, and other works by 19th century Lutheran theologians. Over time, Repristination Press has become a leading publisher of English translations 16th and 17th century Lutheran theology, including works by Johann Gerhard, Nicolaus Hunnius, David Chytraeus, and J.A. Quenstedt. Repristination Press has been located in Texas since 1998.

Reader Recommendation — A Small Catechism on Human Life, John Pless

Member of our Facebook group, Roni Grad, recommended A Small Catechism on Human Life, by John Pless, LCMS Ministries,  St. Louis, 2006, also available from Concordia Publishing House.

Examine topics such as abortion, bioethics, end-of-life, and sexuality — all through the biblical eyeglasses of Luther’s Small Catechism. Each chapter concludes with thoughtful discussion questions and key Bible references. Also available in a smaller version edited for younger readers, perfect for confirmation or youth Bible studies!

This work is an Amazon Best Book of 2015.

Not hard to believe when it gets reader reviews like this one on Amazon:

This is just an outstanding work on just what is life and death, from the perspective of God’s Word and Luther’s Small Catechism.

Pless demonstrates again in this work his talents as an accomplished wordsmith, crafting powerful sentences and chapters that are short in quantity but huge in quality.

Feast your souls on some of these tidbits: “To be a creature is to owe your life to the One who is your Creator.” “He (Christ) has freed us to be both burden bearers and burdens. … we are to humble ourselves to the point of receiving the loving service of others. We are not ashamed to be a burden.” “The vocabulary of autonomy is shaped by the grammar of choice and rights.” “People might be beyond cure, but they are never beyond care.” “The Christian life is lived on the battlefield. Sin, death and the devil are the enemies.” “Life is not self-centered but Christ-centered (faith) and neighbor-centered (love).” “Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation.”

All enhanced by wonderful woodcuts, and each chapter has nice Q&A very adaptable for personal or group study and discussion.

Besides, it’s Pless. What did you expect? Send him a very fine cigar to thank him for this little treasure. If you send it to the seminary, I am sure it will get to him.

Reader Recommendation — Teach These Things: Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish, Lincoln Winter

Member of our Facebook group, Bob Myers, recommended Teach These Things: Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish, by Lincoln Winters. published on LuLu.

A catechesis that follows Luther’s outline for instruction. Prayerful and practical. Simple without being simplistic. This curriculum is appropriate for children, teens and adults. It can be used as an introduction to the faith, or as a refresher.

Here are a couple reviews from Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish:

Review by Steven Hein, Director of the Concordia Institute for Christian Studies, and former Professor at Concordia University Chicago:

I do not know of any other effort that so thoroughly seeks to reform Lutheran catechetical nurture in the way of catechesis – the original way that Luther intended it to be used.  Your attention to detail and thoroughness with each lesson and each chief part is clear, easy to follow and so very integrated in terms of instruction, confession, and worship. This is a wonderful piece of work that I am hoping will be a real blessing for many of our pastors and baptized children. I do understand that for all who would be interested, it will require a pedagogical shift from how we in the LC-MS have looked at catechesis as simply doctrinal instruction rather that nurturing a life long devotional life for the baptized as Luther intended and you have so admirably presented.

Excerpt from a Review by Daniel Hinton, published by Steadfast Lutherans. Pr Hinton serves at Trinity in Cheyenne, WY. Highlight:

There is a great deal of wisdom in simply teaching from the catechism. After all, Luther’s Small Catechism was designed for the very purpose, and has served the Church well for 485 years. Also, every Lutheran pastor and every Lutheran congregation must subscribe to the Small Catechism (plus the rest of the Book of Concord) in order to be Lutheran pastors and congregations. In the Rite of Confirmation, confirmands vow to remain faithful to the Christian faith as they have learned it from the Bible and the Small Catechism. The advantage of “Teach These Things” was that one could do just that — teach from the Small Catechism — while using outlines from the Large Catechism to follow Luther’s thinking and to make sure each topic is covered thoroughly.

A little more from Pr Hinton’s review:

If you’d like to learn more about the ideas behind these catechetical materials, Rev. Winter was recently a guest on Issues, Etc. and gave a brilliant interview about catechesis, which is a worthy listen for any Christian. There are also sample materials available on the Order page of the “Teach These Things” website, and the materials are available either as a PDF file or as a printed and bound book. Either way, the catechist only need buy one copy for himself and use it from year to year without any additional spending.

New Deposit — Synodical Conference 1912 Catechism

Announcing a new deposit to the Document Library: A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism [In the translation authorized by the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America], (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1912).

This Exposition also is added to SC Text Project page because the Exposition uses the Conference’s translation, which was not already represented in any of the entries on the project page.

Thanks to Pastor Joe Abrahamson, Faith Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota for pointing me to this resource.

Synodical Conference 1912 Cover

Reader Recommendation — Teaching God’s Children His Teaching, Robert Kolb

Member of our Facebook group, John Frahm, recommended Teaching God’s Children His Teaching, by Robert Kolb (Concordia Seminary Press, 2012).

“Classic” and “master” are overused words, but it seems no one disputes that Robert Kolb is a “master teacher” or that this guide is a ” classic introduction to Luther’s Small Catechism.” With recommendations by the likes of John, John Pless, Timothy Wengert, and Vernon Gundermann, you know you ought to take a look. is an Amazon Best Books of 2015.

In this new edition, Robert Kolb, has updated and revised this guide into the study and teaching of Luther’s “marvelous little book,” the Small Catechism. It is designed for educators, pastors, parents, and all who are involved in Christian faith formation.

Kolb explains:

This book was written as a reader for catechists. It contains my understanding of how Luther understood the function and the content of his Catechism, as we might read it at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It is designed to assist pastors and others involved in Christian education as they prepare for teaching the Catechism to adolescents. It is also designed for the parents of those adolescents to read so that they might reinforce what the catechists of the congregation are doing as they instruct the children of the congregation. I hope that it will serve as devotional reading for all who wish to review the Catechism in a slightly different form. Perhaps, too, some pastors will read it as they prepare to preach the Catechism to their congregations.

From Vernon Gundermann, Pastor Emeritus, Concordia Lutheran Church (Kirkwood, Missouri):

Bob Kolb continues to demonstrate his ‘teaching heart’ in this work. He is a teacher’s teacher. Teachers and learners will be affirmed, challenged, and inspired.

From John Pless, Concordia Theological Seminary (Ft. Wayne, Indiana):

Kolb has provided pastors and laity alike with a robust user’s guide to the Small Catechism. Drawing on his rich understanding of Luther’s theology, Kolb has produced a commentary of the Small Catechism that is reflective of the proper distinction of law and Gospel and geared towardChristian confession and vocation in the world.

From Timothy Wengert, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia:

From beginning to end readers will find themselves in the hands of an able guide to this jewel of the Lutheran confessions. Kolb translates his own love for the Small Catechism and a lifetime of experience with it into clear, provocative prose.

This book has many reader ratings at GoodReads. Luke Brown explained his five-star rating:

I had Dr. Kolb for Confessions II at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and always felt I was trying to fill a water glass from a fire hydrant. Here is a great refresher on the wonders of the catechism and what we can emphasize for our adults and young people as we teach them. And I’ll bet you’ll find something you hadn’t thought about. He does a great job of presenting a lot of information quickly in a clear and entertaining way.