Review: Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, an Enchiridion

Author: Martin Chemnitz

Publisher: Concordia Publishing House

I recently became aware of this fascinating book. And since I first started it, I decided that it must become better known. Martin Chemnitz’s brief Enchiridion, or handbook on theology, is something of a continuation of the Catechisms, and I think it should be read along with them. Martin Chemnitz is a name that should be as well known as Martin Luther. After all, without him, we might have never known of the firebrand except in history.

Chemnitz’s Enchiridion is deep theologically but straightforward and approachable in its style. This is a book that every Lutheran layperson can and should read. I realized as I was reading just how much I didn’t know about certain aspects of theology, and how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know! I think churches would do well to incorporate this book into their youth program. Maybe they might not use it on Sunday morning, but a midweek study would be appropriate and helpful.

I think too often churches finish confirmation and think, well, that’s that. No need to review that material again. But not only do I think the book of Concord should be read by every congregant, I think our youth would do well to study this Enchiridion as a continuation of what they learned in confirmation. 

As I said, this book is something of a continuation of the catechisms. It goes through the six chief parts in more detail and many additional important subjects. One might consider this work to be a bridge between the catechism and the Book of Concord. Chemnitz addresses the topics that so many people struggle with, from the nature of God to purgatory to justification to marriage to prayer.

Furthermore, Chemnitz provides not only an abundance of scriptural references, perfect for any study, but also the well-placed bit of humor. His wit is something else. Luther could have learned a thing or two from him! So not only will you learn more about your faith while reading, you’ll get a laugh here or there as well.

If you haven’t read this important work yet (or even if you have), I encourage you to pick up a copy. Don’t be daunted by the subject matter or the odd title. (I’m pretty sure I’m still pronouncing it incorrectly!) Chemnitz is a most approachable writer. It will not take you long to finish, and you will be edified intellectually and spiritually by the time you are done.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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