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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Our thoroughly modern world… loathes Luther (so many scholars!)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a fully proofed, proofing Vol 1b...)
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      In Pieper's section presenting and defending the doctrine of the Trinity, he quotes Luther's strong defense of the Christian teaching of the Trinity against false teachers (page 512 German edition, page 421 of English edition).  And it is striking how vehement Luther and Pieper are in their defenses.  Luther:
"We see that in these last times the devil switches his tail, as though he would incite to all manner of new heresies."
And Pieper appends his footnote #1335 to this:
"In our day the devil is doing more than only 'switch his tail'.  As one said at the time of the Arian struggle: 'The world has become Arian", so one can say about our time that by modern theology the so-called Protestant world has become Unitarian."
Even today's LC-MS is marginally included in this -- see this Unitarian's pronouncement on it.   Dear God!... if the Protestant world was essentially Unitarian in Pieper's day (~ 100 years ago), then how much more thoroughly has modern theology "advanced" our world today!

And so the words of the Lutheran martyr that I published 1 year ago have rung in my ears... ever since I published Peter Spengler's words from the Reformation century:
"Oh who yet could have thought that so many scholars, admirable people for so many years had erred from the purpose of the true doctrine and had put in so many terrible mistakes?  Indeed, who yet would have supposed that the Holy Scriptures would have been darkened and defiled through man’s trinkets, that by so few people the righteous way would have been understood?"
By so few people would the righteous way be understood today!  What "few people"?  See my masthead...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Walther's Pastoral Theology delayed 1 year by CPH (but a good alternative available)

C.F.W. Walther’s Pastoral TheologyThe reader today will find that the book is very practical and helpful, and not out of date.  Why?  Because Walther’s book is not a “how to” book for developing skills…but truly a pastoral theology.” –Dr Robert Preus
Pastoral Theology
by C.F.W. Walther
trans. by John Drickamer

      As I occasionally check the latest offerings of Concordia Publishing House, I recently noticed a change in their projected release of the new translation of Walther's Americanisch-Lutherische Pastoraltheologie, or Pastoral Theology.  For some time, it had been announced to be released in "early 2016".  But a recent check of their "Walther's Works" web page revealed a rather startling change for those anticipating a more complete translation than the previous abridged one by Dr. John Drickamer 20 years ago by "Lutheran News".  They have pushed the deadline back to "early 2017"!
      This is a surprise because this book has long been known to have been translated by Pastor Christian Tiews.  Tiews had also translated the previous Law & Gospel book for CPH.  So why the 1 year delay?  Hmmm...
      One could speculate as to why there is a whole year's delay... surely it is not because their professional editors are so tongue-tied by Walther's Christian counsel as to be speechless?  Could it be they are still trying to formulate some "Just sayin'" comments to counter Walther in many of his "hard sayings"?

      In any event, Drickamer's abridged version is not without value.  And there is a very good alternative (here and now!) to learn exactly what Walther taught in his Pastorale – Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics series (or his German Christliche Dogmatik).  As I have progressed in my project of presenting Pieper's Dogmatik online, I am quite amazed how many times Pieper refers to Walther's book.  Sometime I might give an exhaustive cross-reference chart, but when I bought Drickamer's translation, I made a little chart on the inside of the front cover.  I am presenting my little chart here as a beginner's help:

This chart does not yet cross-reference to Pieper's German edition, only the English edition.  I may update and expand this chart later.

Again, do you want to know what Walther taught for pastoral counsel?  Read the many places that Pieper references to Walther's Pastorale in his Christian Dogmatics and you will have gone a long way in understanding the Christian counsel of Walther.  Also get Drickamer's abridged edition.  You don't have to wait for CPH's delayed translation.

Friday, December 25, 2015

"Here I Stand!" (4th witness blunder), Part 3 of 3

      This concludes from Part 2 regarding the controversy surrounding the historicity of Luther's famous phrase "Here I Stand...".   But what I had originally planned as a 4th witness for the defense of the phrase turned out to be a blunder on my part.  I had to completely rewrite this post.  But in my error, I take comfort because I realize that my 4th witness is actually a true witness in a perverse way – but who is the culprit?... (Hint: I should have known.)
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 Andrew Pettegree for the defense?
Andrew Pettegree,
author of
Brand Luther
      Andrew Pettegree is the author of the new book Brand Luther (reviewed in this blog post). From Wikipedia: Pettegree is “ of the leading experts on Europe during the Reformation. ... He is also the founding director of the St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute.” — Andrew Pettegree is hardly a friend of Martin Luther or Lutheranism. After describing the events of Luther’s burning of the papal bull, Pettegree judges Luther (page 131):
“In many respects this was the most unfortunate of the dramatic set-piece events of the Reformation.”
At least Pettegree does not deny that the burning of the papal bull happened! This statement is only one of many examples where Pettegree shows his unfriendliness to Martin Luther’s Reformation.  However Pettegree shows a modicum of ability in judging history when he defends the account (or “myth”) that Luther actually nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the Wittenberg castle church door on October 31, 1517 (ref. pages 12-13).
But how will Pettegree report the controversial phrase "Here I Stand"? Will he now also take the opportunity to take another shot at Luther’s legacy by mentioning this controversy of the historicity of Luther’s “Here I Stand…” phrase, and so give it credence?  It would be a good opportunity for him to gain added stature as one who can stand over Luther and over Lutheranism, as he does in many other places.  Hmmm, no controversy is even mentioned at this point by Pettegree. (Why doesn't he even mention the controversy?) Rather he quotes Ernest Schwiebert's book Luther and His Times, (pages 504-505) verbatim without comment.  And what does Schwiebert record of Luther at this critical time of the Reformation? He says:
"... I am bound by the Scriptures adduced by me, and my conscience has been take captive by the Word of God, and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. [omitted "Here I stand" text here] God help me. Amen."
At this point I made an error. In my haste, when I saw "God help me. Amen", I thought that Schwiebert (and Pettegree) had included the "Here I stand..." phrase. But as I was about to publish this blog post, I double checked my sources and discovered my blunder. How stupid! How embarrassing! ... or is it?
  • Who is this Ernest Schwiebert that he should boldly omit the "Here I Stand" phrase? And who published his book that strips one of the best known phrases ever recorded of the sayings of Martin Luther? ... and gives Pettegree free license to do the same and thus embarrass true Lutherans that they should be so encouraged by this actual phrase of Luther? One could say that this historian "Schwiebert" was no friend of Luther or Lutheranism, just like Pettegree who praises papal indulgences and criticizes Luther's burning of the papal bull.
  • Who is it that published "Ernest George Schwiebert"?... it is the great Concordia Publishing House and the LC-MS!! Oh! What? ... Concordia Publishing House? I thought they were supposed to be friends of Luther and his Reformation...? Hmmm, seems that is in question now. (I found my culprit!)
  • And what is this? I notice that the American Lutheran collaborators for the 1953 Martin Luther film were the great theologians Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan and Oswald C.J. Hoffmann of the LC-MS, and Theodore Tappert of the opposing LCA synod, an American synod that was highly liberal. But wait! Did they contradict Schwiebert's judgment and left the controversial phrase in the Luther film? Really? Pelikan, Hoffmann and Tappert opposed Schwiebert? Surely not!
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In the end, neither Schwiebert or Pettegree or “Diarmaid MacCulloch” or Dr. Scott Hendrix or an editor of the Weimar Ausgabe or any other “church historian” of today could convince me one way or the other if this phrase was actually spoken.  No, it is C.F.W. Walther, it is Pastor Hermann Fick, it is Prof. Franz Pieper who strongly convince me that this possible “myth” substantially happened.  And even if this phrase were a “myth”, no screenwriter could have done a better job of putting words into Luther’s mouth.  I believe that, on this matter, it is C.F.W. Walther, NOT Ernest George Schwiebert, who is the best judge of those other recorders of Luther and the Reformation, of those who recorded that Luther actually spoke these words.  It is C.F.W. Walther who understood Martin Luther better than anyone since the Reformation century.  And it is C.F.W. Walther who will be the best judge of those who recorded the Reformation writings of and about Luther, including George Rörer.
      No, I have to say... would to God! that CPH sold more than just socks with this phrase, but much more, sold framed artwork, screen-printed pencils, embroidered table cloths, whatever... so that Christians are constantly reminded of what they stand on, the same as Martin Luther, whether he said those exact words at the Diet of Worms or not!  That phrase is the perfect summary phrase for the Reformation!
      So to anyone who would be stubborn on this “controversy”, I will point them to Pelikan, Hoffmann and Tappert's allowance for this phrase in their 1953 film, even in the face of Schwiebert's (and CPH's) 1950 attempt to mythologize the phrase. Pettegree’s report even cements Schwiebert's place among "modern historians", surely because Schwiebert was published by CPH  But to true Lutherans, I will say: Walther, Fick, and Franz Pieper report this phrase "Here I Stand..." and much more, as not only “fact” but all the events surrounding it as one of the top defining moments in Reformation history... in true Church History. Let the naysayers chatter and cackle!
      And surely we don’t want to deprive Queen Elsa, Disney Pictures, the Frozen movie, and the songwriters of “Let It Go” their rightful glory in this phrase “Here I Stand!”, do we?
Here I Stand!... with Luther, Walther, and Pieper -- on God's Holy Word! (sola Scriptura) Here I Stand, on God's Grace (sola fidei), by God's Grace Alone! (sola gratia) Amen!

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Addendum 2017-12-10:  There is evidence in Luther's own Table Talk (or Tischreden) to corroborate the phrase "Here I stand".  In the Weimar Ausgabe, vol. 5, there are 2 versions of the same "Table Talk" where Luther himself recounts the events at the Diet of Worms: #5342a and #5342b.  In his narrative, he paraphrases the basics of what he said at the Diet before the Emporer, and all the world:
  • #5342a, p. 66, line 20: “und will dabey stehen, es gehe mir druber, wie der liebe Gott wil!”
  • #5342b, p. 71, lines 4-5: “bei den will ich bleiben, es gehe druber, wie der liebe Gotte wolle.”

This Table Talk is not in the American Edition.  I did not check to see if it is in the St. Louis edition.  
If I understand the archaic German wording, the #5342a bold phrase means: 
"and will thereby stand" on my teachings regarding Holy Scripture. – 
Translator Charles Daudert in his book Off the Record With Martin Luther, p. 81 (Amazon), renders #5342b as 
I must stand by them [his writings of Scripture teaching]. I can do no other than what our dear God wills”.
Addendum 2018-02-09: The St. Louis Edition's German text of Luther's last words to the Diet of Worms is in Vol. 15, 1926; American Edition LW 32, p. 113..

"Here I Stand" controversy (3 witnesses), 2 of 3

      Continuing from Part 1 (of 3) regarding the controversy surrounding the historicity of Luther's famous "Here I Stand..." phrase. Now I will present my 3 witnesses to the truth of the "Here I stand" controversy.
1) C.F.W. Walther
The quote I gave in my original post was from a Reformation sermon of C.F.W. Walther.  And Walther presented an insightful essay in 1887 entitled “The Fruitful Reading of the Writings of Luther” (English translation in Matthew Harrison's At Home... book, pgs 333-343, reference my blog post here) where he counseled his Lutheran pastors and laymen to read first what Luther himself wrote, then what others wrote about him or what he said.  Walther clearly valued Luther’s own account of the Reformation above all others.  So in this current controversy, it appears that perhaps Luther himself did not report his own speech but left it to others.  –  But this did not cause Walther to hesitate to report this ending phrase in his Reformation sermon.  Walther was convinced that by the available accounts and their sources sufficiently attested, he could confidently report this “controversial” phrase of Luther in not only this Reformation sermon, but in multiple places – actually 6 places in Baseley's translation (see also pgs 192-193 in For the Life of the Church):
"Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen!"

2) Pastor Hermann Fick
And I consulted again Pastor Hermann Fick's book Life and Deeds of Dr. Martin Luther (see this blog post for full text.). On pages 107-110, Pastor Fick gives a thrilling account of the happenings at the Diet of Worms. And on page 110, Fick reports Luther's final sentences:
"Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen."

3) President Franz Pieper
Franz Pieper presented an essay in 1921 to the North Dakota-Montana District entitled "What do we learn from Luther at Worms?" (German language text of essay available here). And in the past year, an Australian Lutheran pastor has published his translation of this magnificent essay that prepares one for a true celebration of the upcoming Reformation anniversary. He added pictures and helpful footnotes for reference. Below is an HTML based excerpted document reproduced from a DOC file. In this process, the handy footnotes normally at the bottom of each page were reformatted and hyperlinked to the end of the document. For some reason the normally word-wrapped pictures came out "in-line", but I like the HTML version for its handy footnote links. To download the original full 26-page PDF file, click here. Again, it comes from Australia, with love:

In this excerpt, "The Twentieth Century Luther" explains further that Martin Luther not only stood on Scripture, but mainly on the doctrine of Scripture: grace alone, through faith alone, not by the works of the Law. On the second page of this issue of "Morsels", Pastor Winter translated Pieper's quote of Luther
without a footnote, i.e. no footnote needed:
Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.
If I get time, I may publish the whole series of Pastor Winter's translation of this masterful Lutheran essay. Would to God that some publication of the LC-MS would republish it for the upcoming Reformation anniversary!! (sigh)
In the concluding Part 3, I bring a different kind of witness regarding this controversy on the historicity of Luther's "Here I Stand..." phrase.

"Here I Stand" historical controversy (response) (Part 1 of 3)

      A comment came in on my last post that I could not let pass by:

Carl Vehse has left a new comment on your post "Luther–Walther–Pieper: Scripture rule, not Frozen ...":

Like a number of other "quotes" attributed to Dr. Martin Luther, the legendary "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise." (also available on socks from the CPH) may not have been said by Luther at the 1521 Imperial Diet of Worms. Different publications include or don't include that statement, as noted in a March 4, 2014, comment elsewhere.
Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch claims Luther’s “Here I stand” quote was later added by Georg Rörer, the editor of Luther's collected works.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I was aware that there is some controversy about whether Luther actually said these words to the 1521 Diet of Worms.  One of the commenters to the 3-minute YouTube video clip pointed this out.  “Valteron8” asserts:
“ most historians, Luther never said ‘here I stand’ at this meeting.”

“Valteron8” even goes further than your comment where you only mention one historian, and you sort of admit that it “may” be true; no, “Valteron8” says “most” historians disagree with this account.  Surely we would not want to appear uninformed on this important matter.  I had to burst out laughing when a subsequent response to this assertion came from “Syler Womack”:
“Meh, neither did Elsa…" [i.e. Queen Elsa (Disney) from Frozen’s song “Let It Go”.]

And a recent corroboration of your comment comes from James Reston’s similar report in his book Luther’s Fortress on page 39:
“The widely quoted, famous phrase “Here I stand. I can say no more,” which is often attributed to Luther at the end of his speech, is now largely discounted by modern historians.”

And again, another naysayer was published by Fortress Press, 1981. Dr. Scott Hendrix is quoted by Christianity Today as saying: "The earliest printed version of Luther's address added these words, which were not recorded on the spot. It's possible they are genuine, but for almost a half century now, most scholars have believed they were probably not spoken by Luther." (Note that Hendrix allows that it is possible. It is interesting that Hendrix says "for almost a half century now"... hmmm, that would be just about when Franz Pieper died in 1931.)
Although I was originally sad to receive your comment, now I am glad to have been given the impetus to further consider this issue.

I must say that on the face of it, the claims of a “legend” or “myth” seem quite preposterous.  Why?  Because this event was witnessed by perhaps the widest and most prolific audience in all of the world in its day.  So it would seem that if someone, such as George Rörer, inserted and published this phrase “Here I stand…” when it was not actually spoken at the Diet of Worms in 1521, then it would have been reported as such by other Lutherans.  Have any “modern historians” actually found this to be the case? ... or is it such that only “modern historians” are reporting this as a myth or legend?
As I reviewed again the words that the actor for Luther spoke in the film, I wonder now that the American Lutherans Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, Theodore Tappert (and Oswald C.J. Hoffmann) largely referred to the translation of Ernest George Schwiebert to be the English language screenplay for this 3-minute scene of Luther standing before the Emperor Charles. CPH published Schwiebert 's well-known work Luther and His Times in 1950, 3 years before the film was released.
Now I will present my 3 witnesses to the truth of the "Here I stand" controversy... in the next Part 2. ... and a fourth witness tacked on in the concluding Part 3.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Luther–Walther–Pieper: Scripture rule, not Frozen (2 of 3) - "Here I Stand"

      Continuing from Part 1, I wanted to bask in the light of Franz Pieper's masterful recounting of one of the key tenets of the Reformation and THE Reformer, Martin Luther: his stand on Scripture.  I did some searching of one of Luther's most famous phrases, "The Word they still shall let remain" which turned up a Reformation sermon by C.F.W. Walther that I cannot pass by and must reprint a small portion:
Luther never boasted of the judgment of his reason. “The Word they still shall let remain,” was the only thing that turned this man into steel and iron. He himself made this known as he concluded his declaration, standing before the Emperor and the council: “Because my conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen!” – C.F.W. Walther
After reading this, another Internet search turned up the short 3 minute clip from the 1953 film "Martin Luther" (YouTube here; I own the full VHS tape) as he spoke his most famous phrase "Here I Stand...":

The full version of this film is now available on YouTube here (its now been pulled off)

The 3-minute clip can be viewed in the full version at the interval from 1:14:35 to 1:17:36; it has better sound quality.  —  The film has its problems – it was a unionistic production.  One of the screen producers, Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan even left the Lutheran faith.  Nevertheless, there is quite enough merit to recommend this film as mostly faithful to Luther's life, especially for those being first introduced to Luther.
      The clip covers one of the greatest moments in church history since the days of the New Testament.  This fact is not lost on today's Walt Disney Pictures and its songwriters for they use Luther's words "Here I Stand" in their Frozen movie 2013 theme song "Let It Go".   Indeed, I can thank the Disney's Frozen producers and songwriters... not for their words that turn Luther's words into their opposite meaning (and in reality anti-Christian meaning), but rather to remind us all that it is Luther's words that STAND, and Frozen's use of Luther's phrase proves it.
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      But now I must return back to Franz Pieper's textbook teaching presented in Part 1, a teaching that perfectly follows THE Reformer, Martin Luther.  In the next Part 3, I ask some pointed questions concerning the relation of the LC-MS to Franz Pieper...  How come...?

Augustine, Luther, Chemnitz vs. good Papists, poor Protestants (simple, clear Scripture) – Part 1 of 3

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a fully proofed, proofing Vol 1b...)
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      At the risk of over emphasizing Pieper's devotion to the bare words of Holy Scripture, I cannot pass by a thrilling portion from Volume 1 of his Dogmatik.  From pages 435-436 of Volume 1 (or pages 360-361 of English edition):
Translation by BackToLutherunderlining in original German text; highlighting is mine:

Therefore, the great teachers of the Church, as Augustine, Luther, Chemnitz, etc., have held fast to the orderly nature of Scripture given by God, which presents the entire Christian doctrine in such places which do not require the help of exegesis to remove obscurities. The proofs from Augustine, etc. were taught in the section on the perspicuity of Scripture (see p. 391, English ed. p. 324).  On this characteristic of Scripture also Luther's admonition is based: "Whoever cannot understand the dark, remain with the light." [“Wer das Dunkle nicht verstehen kann, der bleibe bei dem Lichten.” St. L. V, 338 on Psalm 37; not in Am. Ed.]  Besides, no one needs to fear that he will come up short in some doctrine of faith or life.
Against this it has been objected by good Papists and poor Protestants that the special gift of Scripture exposition, which God gives some Christians before others, could not be used.  The objection is unfounded.  The special gift of the interpretation of Scripture has a large operating area despite the utter clarity of Scripture in the sense just described.  In the first place it is as Harless puts it in his preface to Luther's exposition of the 17th chapter of the Gospel of St. Joh. [Leipzig, 1857, p. V , here?]: "If the Word of God does not need interpretation, yet our hard hearts and deaf ears require the voice of the heralds and preachers in the desert.  And this in turn is not as if the words of Christ for human senses are too high and too deep, too dark and mysterious, but because, as Luther has recognized correctly, we blind or mindless humans, in our eccentric pursuit of false heights, skim over the divine simplicity of Christ's words."  Hence, the real job of the exegete consists in capturing the erratic human mind to the simple written Word and, where he has already deviated from it, to lead him back to the simple written Word.  As Luther says of all his writings, and particularly also of his exegetical writings, that their only purpose is to lead back into the Scripture, and indeed so lead back to the Scripture in such a way that every Christian and [Page 436] every teacher stands with his faith on the mere [or bare] word of Scripture, on the nuda Scriptura, minus "glosses". Luther does not understand by "gloss" only the false exegesis, as has been thought, but also every interpretation, even the right one.  This is why Luther is known to always express the wish that he would like all his books to perish so that Christians would base their faith on the nuda Scriptura [bare, mere Scripture], without interpretation, because all interpretation is necessarily darker than Scripture itself and therefore any interpretation yet again must be examined to see whether it can stand before the brighter light of Scripture.  "There is on earth no clearer book written than the Holy Scriptures; it is, compared with all other books, the same as the Sun against all the lights." (St. L. V:334; not in Am. Ed..)  Fortunately, Luther's wish that all his books would to go down so that the nuda Scriptura [bare, mere Scripture] would keep its absolute rule, was not fulfilled.  His writings namely have not only the purpose, but are in fact such that they lead the fickle spirit of man to the bare [mere / nude] Scripture, without interpretation, and keeps it so that every Christian, and particularly also every Christian standing in a public teaching post, can say with Luther: "The Word they still shall let remain."  By this “Word” Luther understood the nuda Scriptura.  But such manuductio ad nudam Scripturam [leading to the bare Scripture] was not only required in Luther's time.  The Church needs it at all times until the Day of Judgment, because man is inclined at all times and will be inclined as "blind or mindless humans, in our eccentric pursuit of false heights, to skim over the divine simplicity of the words of Scripture".  So also our time needs such exegetes — they need not in every case be theologians by profession — who by God's grace mainly have four characteristics:
1. Hold the Scripture to be God's own Word, and treat it accordingly;  
2. Regard the Scripture as clear, according to the testimony of Scripture about itself;  
3. They let their whole activity rise to the manuductio ad nudam Scripturam;  
4. They uncover the deceit each time people want, by their human thoughts under the glow of "exegesis", to inject the necessary light into the Scripture.
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This whole section from Pieper's Dogmatik makes a Christian's heart glow.  —  But before I return to it (with some questions) in Part 3, I had to do some Internet searching on this subject which is covered it in Part 2...

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Christmas Carol… correction: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

      As I fell away from the Christian faith of my youth, I began to hate hearing Christian Christmas carols heard in public... at shopping places, on broadcasts, etc.  But when I returned again by God's grace, I immediately spotted these.  Nowadays, truly Christian Christmas carols are rarely heard in our society.  I don't know if Simon Malls (Jewish controlled) ever had Christian carols played in their malls, but I don't believe there are any today... not even the music (without words) of any Christian carols.  But here-and-there (e.g. a bookstore, etc.) one will hear these played, even if mixed with rock-and-roll, jazz, or "alternative" music.
      In the LC-MS congregation I returned to in the 1990s, it was the tradition for Christmas eve services to sing many of the well-known, popular Christmas carols.  Although I relished these then, I now realize many, if not most, of these are not of Lutheran origin, but rather English/Anglican/Methodist origin.  One of these carols is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.  One can read of its English history (Wesley and Whitefield) at Wikipedia.  This blog post is about one line in particular from this carol:
Hark! The herald-angels sing
"Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled" ...
So what could be problematic with the last line above?  We turn to what the Apostle Paul tells us:
2 Cor. 5:19-20 – God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation... Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
The carol says "God and sinners reconciled", but the Apostle says God is reconciled to the whole world having forgiven their sins in Christ, and so tells us sinners "Be ye reconciled to God".  So the Christmas carol is partially true and partially misleading when it says "sinners reconciled", implying sinners are reconciled to God.  But they are not until they hear and believe that God is already reconciled to them through Christ.  So the Bible gives us something greater than the line from Charles Wesley's popular English carol.  The Bible says:
And now, 
Be ye  ye sinners of the whole world  reconciled to God!... BELIEVE IT!

So a way to counteract the problematic line is to correct this line, substituting one word:

God with sinners reconciled.

Now with this correction, sinners have something to hang on to... the objective truth that in Christ, God IS ALREADY reconciled to them... they have the truth to believe.
      Although I am not without some joy at hearing Christmas carols, yet I long for the GERMAN LUTHERAN Christmas hymns, especially of Luther.  When I get time, I turn to my confirmation copy of The Lutheran Hymnal and turn to Luther's Christmas hymns... and go Back To Luther.