Three Questions with John Pless…

Symposium 2016 bannerJohn PlessRegistration is now open for the 27th Annual Theological Symposium, “From Font to Grave: Catechesis for the Lifelong Disciple” (September 20-21, 2016). We have invited a few of this year’s presenters to answer a few questions as they prepare for the Symposium. John Pless is assistant professor of pastoral ministry and missions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he also serves as director of field education. He will be presenting on the sacraments in Luther’s Catechisms.

What first sparked your interest to devote much of your life to the study of Luther’s Catechisms?

I had a very good teacher of the catechism in my childhood pastor. He recognized the catechism’s importance and he taught it with clarity and confidence.

Does any particular feature of Luther’s text stand out to you as especially noteworthy for us today?

A number of features stand out. First, I have come to appreciate how Luther connects elements and aspects of the chief parts to each other. For example, he sets the basis for daily prayer and table of duties in his explanation of the First Article of the Creed. He brings the teaching of Christ’s redeeming work in the Second Article into the exposition of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The “This is most certainly true” becomes the foundation for the Lord’s Prayer. Second, I agree with Oswald Bayer that Luther provides us with a “catechetical systematics.” The Small Catechism (SC) provides a way of understanding the whole of Lutheran theology. Third, the SC is more than a textbook. It is a book for prayer and vocation.

How have you seen your students respond to the catechism over the years?

It has been a joy both in the USA and in South Africa to see students re-discover (or discover for the first time) the vitality of the catechism for preaching and pastoral work.

Register for the Theological Symposium online or by contacting the Continuing Education office at 314-505-7286 or To purchase live stream access, visit

Related posts

In Memoriam: Richard H. Warneck

In Memoriam: Richard H. Warneck

In Memoriam: Richard H. Warneck

Remembering the life and ministry of Concordia Seminary Professor Emeritus Richard Warneck (1935–2021).

“One Shepherd, Jesus Christ”

"One Shepherd, Jesus Christ"

"One Shepherd, Jesus Christ"

Concordia Seminary President Thomas Egger's sermon for Call Day 2021.

God Shows No Partiality in Christ

God Shows No Partiality in Christ

God Shows No Partiality in Christ

Continuing the conversation on helping the church face racism.


  1. Barbara E. Paul September 26, 2016

    Pastor Pless, I am unable to find an email address for you, this page is as close as I was able to get. You mentioned a study guide for the Robert Benne book, “Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics”. Please send me the web address where I can get this.
    Thank you and blessings on you day, Barbara

    • Travis Scholl September 27, 2016

      Thank you, Barbara, for your comment. If you would like to reach Prof. Pless via email, you can contact him at

Leave a comment