Pless Book Translated into Portuguese

It is always a joy to see how our faculty and the confessional Lutheran theology that they teach and profess spreads across the globe. “Handling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today” by Dr. John T. Pless (assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions) was recently translated into Portuguese. We are blessed by the fellowship we share with our brothers and sisters across nations and languages.

Here, translated from the Portuguese description using Google Translate, is the book description pulled from their website:

“John Pless pours the riches of Scripture, Lutheran Confessions, pastoral works of Martin Luther and C. F. W. Walther to discover gems vital for both Christian life and preaching. Walther wrote his classic study of the correct distinction between Law and Gospel in a very different social scene from the twenty-first century in the United States. Pless guides his reader from Walther’s text into Scripture and into daily life, both through perceptual comments and through punctual questions for discussion. His lively prose style weaves together theologians’ remarks (from Luther to Bo Giertz, Gerhard Forde and Oswald Bayer) with their own insights and examples of contemporary ecumenical exchanges and real life. Pastors and laymen will find this book easy to read pleasure and great help in the practice of Christian living.”

You can view the book HERE.


Bishop Makala Training Center; Tanzania

Dr. Peter J. Scaer, associate professor of Exegetical Theology and director of the M.A. Program here at CTSFW, is just finishing up a 10-day trip to Tanzania. The LCMS has worked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania—South-East of Lake Victoria Diocese’s (ELCT—SELVD) since the early 2000s, and CTSFW has been connected directly to our brothers and sisters in Tanzania since 2013, when Bishop Emmanuel Makala requested the Seminary’s help in developing the program for the Bishop Makala Training Center.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
It’s currently winter in Tanzania, where the highs have dropped into the upper 80s; the Tanzanian word for afternoon is, in fact, the same as their word for heatstroke. There are cities filled with motorized vehicles (and traffic jams), but the training center is located out in the country, where donkeys are used for hauling and bicycles are one of the main means of transportation, often with one pedaling and another on the back, along for the ride. Why the training center is located on the outskirts of nowhere is three-fold:
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
1. The first baptism in Tanzania took place under a tree here in 1969 (a number which has now grown into a church fast approaching 7 million members).
2. Rather than settle near Lake Victoria where the land is lush and green, the church wanted to prepare their pastors and deaconesses for life in the villages, under the hottest and driest conditions.
3. For what Dr. Scaer calls “holy isolation”; the students here have no distractions during their two years of study.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
At first not much more than a parsonage and chapel, students laid the bricks donated to the training center during their off-hours, building dorms, classrooms, a kitchen area, and a new meeting hall. This past week, Dr. Scaer taught a class on St. Paul, covering such topics as objective justification, wrath and grace, Law and Gospel, redemption, and propitiation.

‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The church uses loudspeakers in their worship services, whereas the classrooms are reverently quiet, the students speaking so softly that Dr. Scaer has to approach each individually to hear them. As for the singing:
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
“Oh, the singing,” Dr. Scaer writes. “Better in their smaller groups, I think, than with the amps and electronics. Just pure harmony, heavenly and sweet. So, I ask for a hymn, a song, before every class period. When I do, the room fills with ricocheting whispers, as they decide. One woman becomes the choir director. Three of the men take to desk tapping to provide the rhthym section. Lutherans sing. Tanzanians sing. Lutheran Tanzanians? Glorious.”
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The ELCT has grown through both the baptism of babies and evangelism, despite (or perhaps because of) the many hostile forces around her. Muslims live in the cities and western anti-human ideologies have begun to creep into the country, and the land is beset by the old tribal religions. At their worst, witch doctors take the body parts of albinos (common in this corner of the world) and sell them as amulets and charms; a hand, Dr. Scaer was told, can go for as much as $10,000. Tanzanian evangelists thus travel village to village and hut to hut, bringing three tools with them: God’s Word, a pair of scissors, and water.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
They begin by telling the story of salvation: creation, the fall, and God’s plan of redemption in Christ. The scissors are then used to cut off the unholy charms that many Tanzanians wear to ward off harmful spirits, performing a kind of exorcism. Finally, the convert is baptized with water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Evangelists set up preaching posts in these villages, which become a church once 75 are gathered in His name.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The ELCT and the LCMS are moving ever closer to an official partnership with each other. The Tanzanians desire this tie with a confessional Lutheran church, “And,” Dr. Scaer adds, “as fellow members of Christ’s body, we need the fellowship of the Tanzanians, whose joy is infectious, and whose vitality reminds us why we go to church in the first place.”

‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

The information in this post was gathered from Dr. Scaer’s firsthand account of his time in Tanzania. To read more of the details (such as his day-to-day life at the training center and the Lutheran pastor v. witch doctor debate — followed by a soccer match — which took place on Wednesday), go to and scroll down through the last ten days of posts.

MDiv Conferred to Rev. Adjei

President Rast conferred the degree of Master of Divinity on Rev. Matthew Adjei, as he will complete his studies at the end of Winter Quarter, coming up next Friday.

“Today is an important occasion in the life of this seminary, in the life of our sister church, the Lutheran Church in Ghana, and especially in the life of our dear brother in Christ, the Rev. Matthew Adjei,” Dr. Gieschen, academic dean, announced at the end of chapel this morning. “On behalf of this seminary, I extend our sincere and profound thanks to the individuals and congregations who have supported Rev. Adjei during his studies here, including Bishop Paul Fynn of the Lutheran Church of Ghana.”

What a joyful event to witness! We thank God for Rev. Adjei and all who support him. If you would like to watch the degree conferral, you can view it at the end of today’s chapel service.

Tanzania Pastoral Training Program

Bishop Emmanuel Joseph Makala and a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) met with the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) yesterday.

The bishop signed a copy of his book for President Rast, Chair of the CTCR. Bishop Makala is a long-time friend of the Seminary, having requested CTSFW’s help in developing the Tanzania pastoral training program. We have been partnered with them in that endeavor since 2013, which you can read about by CLICKING HERE.

International LCMS Disaster Response Conference

Dr. Douglas Rutt, international director of Lutheran Hour Ministries, shares his presentation on LHM resources that bring spiritual comfort after tragedy.

As recovery for the devastation caused by earthquakes and hurricanes continues in some places and begins in others, we thank God for the opportunity to come together to learn from those who have firsthand experience of disasters around the world. CTSFW welcomes the 2017 International LCMS Disaster Response Conference, which began yesterday morning in Sihler Auditorium and goes until Thursday.

Rev. Nicolas Ranara, pastor in Tacloban City, Leyte Island, Philippines, speaks on “Looking Back at Typhoon Haiyan – 4 Years Later.”

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home:

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Soon bears us all away;
We fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last
And our eternal home!

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Mireya Johnson, a deaconess who received her M.A. in Religious Studies from CTSFW in 2002, translates for the Spanish-speaking members in the audience. Mireya is married to Dr. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response and another CTSFW grad (M.Div. 2006; D. Min. 2017).