Shooting the Messenger

Twice upon a time, my wife served as editor of a newspaper. She is no longer in the position. People shoot the messenger. Publication day was Wednesday. Every Thursday she got calls complaining about the news. Her job was supposed to be “Reporting things that occurred”. It became “Reporting things that occurred, then getting blamed for the things that happened.” This eventually wore her out.

I mention it, because there is a lot of internet anger about a new book that was just released by Concordia Publishing House (CPH). Perhaps I shouldn’t enter into the debate, as I have recently been named publisher of Steadfast Press. But we aren’t really a competing publishing house. We are both trying our best to publish good Lutheran resources that help the church. They have overhead; they have to publish, or they go out of business. We have a volunteer force; we can publish what and when we want, but we have day jobs, so the work only gets done in our free time. We aren’t really competing with them. We’re offering resources they can’t offer. So, I’m not speaking about a competitor here, I’m speaking about a much bigger brother. And I’m speaking in defense of them.

In addition to publishing resources they believe will help the church, Concordia also serves as the official Publisher of LCMS-INC. This means that, when directed by the synod in convention, Concordia must publish, re-issue, revise, or even cease publishing according to the directives of synod. An example would be the release of The Lutheran Hymnal in 1941. They were directed to cease publication of the prior hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book. Even if there was a strong desire to have the hymnal reissued for historical research, they are not able to do so without the synod changing the order.

In 2016, the synod in convention passed a resolution containing the following:

Resolved, That the CTCR, in concurrence with the President of Synod and the seminary faculties, explore the creation of an annotated and expanded edition of the Large Catechism for widespread use and study in the church.

This book has now been released by Concordia Publishing House, and they are fulfilling their duty according to the mandate given them. They had no hand in setting up the parameters of the book, the topic of essays, the author list, etc. Oh, they may have provided editorial advice to individual authors. They might even have said, “Are you certain you want to publish a book that says X?” But they do not have editorial discretion in this matter. LCMS-INC gave that discretion to three entities. They are corporately and individually responsible for concurring – that is agreeing – to the content of the book. If you desire to complain about what is in the new Annotated Catechism, LCMS-INC has given you the people you should contact and talk to about it.

But in this case, CPH is just the messenger. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

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2 Responses to Shooting the Messenger

  1. North P Sherrill says:

    What is the title of this book?

    • Country Preacher says:

      It was the Annotated Large Catechism. The essays provoked a significant amount of debate. The book has been withdrawn.

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