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27 February 2006
  Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei:
What the Lutheran Confessions Say about Worship

Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus DeiFew issues are more hotly contested in Lutheranism than worship. Churches have split over this one issue. In The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod much has been written about worship including Lutheran Worship History and Practice, Gathered Guests, Meaningful Worship, and The Unchanging Feast: The Nature and Basis of Lutheran Worship.

As editor of Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei, Dr. James Brauer of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis does not try to replicate the work of others. Instead, Dr. Brauer attempts to provide a useful resource for those interested in an in-depth study of Lutheran Worship as expounded upon in the Lutheran Confessions.

As opposed to offering a commentary on Lutheran worship as others do, Dr. Brauer chose to present all the references to worship in the Lutheran Confessions. Brauer uses the Kolb/Wengert edition of the Book of Concord nearly exclusively and also provides key phrases from both the German and Latin versions of the BOC. These are very helpful for those who are not as familiar with the original languages and are looking for textual variations in the Confessions without having to go through the full German and Latin editions.

This work is divided into nine distinct areas including Worship, the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Absolution, Prayer, Praise, Rites and Ceremonies, and finally a summary section. In addition, Dr. Brauer provides an excellent introductory section on the varying traditions of worship in different denominations including Pentecostals, Anglicans, Reformed, Anabaptists, Shakers, and many more.

As stated previously, Dr. Brauer's work is not a commentary on Lutheran worship. He provides a resource for use alongside other addressing the topic. For anyone interested in Lutheran worship theology and practice this is an excellent resource to use with the excellent resources on worship already in print. For those who do not know the original languages of the Confessions it can be frustrating with all the examples given. However, it might provide some a motivation for further linguistic study.

Personally, the final two sections (Rites and Ceremonies and the Conclusion) were the most interesting and helpful. Dr. Brauer does an excellent job of providing Christ centered commentary on the Confessions in his conclusion and refutes some of the arguments made against maintaining the traditions of the Church. For interested people, there is an excerpt available on the CPH website.

Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei: What the Lutheran Confessions Say about Worship
ISBN 0758605935
Concordia Publishing House, 2005
304 pp., Hardcover
CPH Item Number 53-1126WEB

Highly recommended for anyone interested in Christian worship.

Written by guest reviewer Sam Powell of Nerd Heaven and edited by Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus.
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