Monday, October 31, 2011

LHP Review: The Heart of Christian Doctrine

 


 

 

The Theology and Life of Robert David Preus: Papers Presented at the Congress on the Lutheran Confessions, Itasca, Illinois, April 8-10, 1999. St. Louis: The Luther Academy, 2009. 142 Pages. Paper. $15.95. http://www.lutheracademy.com/  http://theacl.org/TheACL/Home.html  http://www.logia.org/ (LHP)

 

The Theology of the Cross: Reflections on His Cross and Ours (Impact Series). Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2008. 283 Pages. Paper. $17.99. http://www.nph.net/ (LHP).

 

Wright, N. T. Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009. 279 Pages. Cloth. $25.00. http://academic.ivpress.com/ (LHP)

 

Nichols, Stephen J. What Is Vocation? (Basics of the Faith series). Phillipsburg, NJ: PandR, 2010. 31 Pages. Paper/Staple-bound. $3.99. http://www.prpbooks.com/ (LHP)



Saltzman, Russell E. The Pastor's Page and Other Small Essays. Delhi, New York: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2010. 100 Pages. Paper. $6.50. http://www.alpb.org/ (LHPN)

Gilbert, Greg. Foreword by D. A. Carson. What Is the Gospel? Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. 127 Pages. Cloth. $12.99. http://www.crossway.org/ http://www.9marks.org/ (LHP)

 

 

Having recently reviewed two books that systematically presented Christian Doctrine, it only made sense to group these books together as ones that reflect on the heart of Christian Doctrine: Christ, Justification, and the Gospel.



A collection of essays presented at the 1999 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions has the substance of a theological tome. That's a high compliment!

The Theology and Life of Robert David Preus is a collection of papers presented at the 1999 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions in paperback.

Titles of the papers are:

  • Dr. Robert D. Preus: Confessional Systematician and Teacher of the Confessions, Kenneth Hagen
  • The Doctrine of Justification in the Theology of Robert Preus, Rolf Preus
  • Dr. Robert D. Preus and International Lutheranism, Jobst Schoene
  • The Doctrine of the Scriptures in the Theology of Robert David Preus(16 October 1924-4 November 1995), David Scaer
  • Dr. Robert D. Preus and the Evangelicals: A Tribute to Robert Preus, Michael Horton
  • Robert Preus--Life in Christ's Church, Daniel Preus
  • Robert Preus as an Organizer of Confessional Lutheranism, Marin R. Noland
  • Dr. Robert D. Preus and the Norwegian Lutheran Churches: Their Impact on American Lutheranism Today, Oliver Olson
  • Dr. Robert D. Preus: The Lutheran Confessions and the Idea of Confessional Lutheranism, Kurt Marquart,
  • Robert D. Preus: A Bibliography 

(Source: Publisher's website)

Michael Horton's presentation is to be especially noted as a tribute to the strong, consistent, Biblical confession Robert Preus made as a Lutheran while appropriately working together with other Reformation Christians to provide a clear witness to American Evangelicalism. Horton calls for "fair-mindedness" (78) and for a confessional Lutheranism without aberrations. Such is the challenge for Lutherans. We need to get our own house in order while making a fresh confession of the faith once delivered to the saints.

 

Why "testament" rather than "covenant"? See Oliver Olson's essay on how "covenant" may open the way for "a Reformed brand of synergism, especially by means of the American Puritan tradition" (120).

The sainted Dr. Marquardt is at his pithy best as he concludes his essay on the idea of Confessional Lutheranism:

The real problem, then, is not what we officially list as 'confessions,' old or new, but what we actually do with our confessions. Do we dare implement them--even if it means numerical losses? Confessions are simply not meant to be constitutional 'paragraphs' or decorative church-political documents on patient paper. They are meant to govern the life of the church. When we confess in the New Testament sense, we at once unite and divide. 'Confession' by majority vote is no confession at all, if mutual communion, church fellowship, continues undisturbed between those who confess and those who deny.  Obviously such 'confessing' is not meant seriously. Real confession has real consequences at the altar and in the pulpit. It either affirms or else violates the marks of the church, the purely preached gospel and the rightly administered sacraments, which alone determine church fellowship (134-5).

The volume is worth purchasing merely because it is about Robert Preus. It is also worth adding to your library for the Marquardt presentation alone. And it supports the work of the Luther Academy, too!

 

Daniel Deutschlander's recent Northwestern Publishing House book focuses on The Theology of the Cross.

 

 

According to the publisher, this is "A book on Christian doctrine that reminds readers that all biblical doctrine relates to Scripture's central teaching that God sent his Son to save lost sinners. The Old and New Testaments make it clear that our salvation is found in the cross of Christ. However, there is a seeming paradox between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory. Sinful people tend to overlook the cross and its demands and, instead, focus on the glory that they think they should now enjoy because they call themselves Christians. This is a matter of urgent concern. Deutschlander helps us to see Christ's cross as our cross. He reminds us that our good works have no value for our salvation. Yet good works are valuable as fruits of faith done out of gratitude to God for his gift of salvation. It deepens our understanding and appreciation for God's gift of life in Christ. It warns us of Satan's efforts to turn us from Christ to ourselves. It comforts us with the assurance that the cross of Christ leads to heavenly glory."


This book leads the reader to the cross of Jesus Christ and properly distinguishes the Lutheran theology of the cross from the alternative, a sad and ultimately unchristian theology of glory. "The liturgy addresses the needs of crossbearers" (4). The Church needs worship formed by the theology of the cross (133) and families need more than a "cute" Christmas and "nice" Easter (177ff).

What to do if God seems to be my enemy? Consider Chapter 2.

A choice quote: "Ultimately all error aims at using a rejection of my cross to get to the rejection of his cross, that is, to a rejection of the heart and core of the gospel, the doctrine of justification" (62)

A creative use of "sliver" helps create interest in Chapters 3 and 4, explaining acidia, otherwise known as sloth, laziness, or even apathy (81) and how to prevent overreaching with the Table of Duties (105).


The reader hears of the hiddenness of God (e.g. 114) and is catechized about common crosses of Christians (Chapter 7).

In the Appendices, readers are introduced to Hermann Sasse (223ff) and perhaps preachers will be encouraged to preach their own special sermon series on the theology of the cross based on this example (227).


Need a renewed perspective on what your congregation (and Christmas/Easter) visitors really need to hear? Read The Theology of the Cross: Reflections on His Cross and Ours.




N. T. Wright gets a lot of press. I appreciate the impact he has made in getting people to think. I'm not always encouraged by his content.



 

Few issues are more central to the Christian faith than the nature, scope and means of salvation. Many have thought it to be largely a transaction that gets one to heaven. In this riveting book, N. T. Wright explains that God's salvation is radically more than this.

At the heart of much vigorous debate on this topic is the term the apostle Paul uses in several of his letters to describe what happens to those in Christ--justification. Paul uses this dramatic image from the law court to declare that Christians are acquitted of the cosmic accusations against them. But justification goes beyond this in Paul's writings to offer a vision of God's future for the whole world as well as for his people.

Here in one place Wright now offers a comprehensive account and defense of his perspective on this crucial doctrine. He provides a sweeping overview of the central points in the debate before launching into a thorough explanation of the key texts in Paul's writings. While fully cognizant of tradition and controversy, the final authority for his conclusions is the letters of Paul themselves.



Along the way Wright responds to critics, such as John Piper, who have challenged what has come to be called the New Perspective. For Wright, what Paul means by justification is nothing less than God's unswerving commitment to the covenant promise he made to bless the whole world through Abraham and his family.



This irenic response is an important contribution for those on both sides of the debate--and those still in between--to consider. Whether you're a fan of Wright's work or have read his critics and would like to know the other side of the story, here is a chance to interact with Wright's views on the issues at stake and form your own conclusions.

Related Information and Resources

Read an interview with N. T. Wright here. Download an in-depth QandA interview with N. T. Wright about Justification. (publisher's website)

There's a comforting kind of radical and a concerning kind of radical. It is comforting to have someone rediscover the reality of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. That was comforting to hear from Wright. It concerns me that the bulk of Justification restates, reevaluates, or rewords traditional ways of confessing, teaching, and believing what Jesus accomplished. I had a visceral reaction to the book in a negative way.


It's not that I object to fresh words expressing Christian doctrine, faith, and life. I read Bonhoeffer, after all. In academic writing, there just seems to be an unnecessary communication gap between John Piper and N. T. Wright. As our regular readers may note, I do not see eye-to-eye with Piper on worship (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2011/08/lhp-review-on-worship.html).


Wright argues for a thought experiment where we read Ephesians and Colossians first and then interpret Romans and Galatians in their light (43). I'm not opposed to experiments, but I don't agree with his assumptions that Lutherans (44) ignore large parts of books they don't like or  put redemption "into operation through faith, without works". There's too much re-writing of history here for me. "What might have been" is for alternate history in science fiction. ("What if Calvin would have agreed with Luther?" is a more fun what if for me, ranking up there with "What if England had gone Lutheran because of Barnes?") I disagree with the premise, his assumptions and details, and therefore disagree with his conclusions.

Wright is probably writing against more of the liberal ELCA version of "Lutheran," but there are larger critiques of Lutheranism in general (72ff, et al). Wright: "Not of course, that I wish to repeat the manifold hermeneutical dangers so evident in Luther's wonderful and deeply flawed commentary on Galatians, imagining that Paul is attacking exactly the enemies as he is himself" (112). Wright endorses Luther's simil iustus et peccator (119), Luther's "two kingdoms" (174), and is largely in favor of Freedom of a Christian (193). In contrast, I recoil at the following: "Part of me recoils from having to question this traditional reading on the text" (159 on 2 Cor. 5:21).


The author has some valuable things to say. Effective communication is not taking place. Consider the following question and answer from an interview by Trevin Wax on http://trevinwax.com on January 13, 2009:

What is at stake in this debate over justification? If one were to adopt Piper's view instead of yours, what would they be missing?

What's missing is the big, Pauline picture of God's gospel going out to redeem the whole world, all of creation, with ourselves as part of that. What's missing is the big, Pauline view of the church, Jew and Gentile on equal footing, as the sing to the powers of the world that Jesus is Lord and they aren't. What's missing is the key work of the Holy Spirit in enabling the already justified believers to live with moral energy and will so that they really do "please God" as Paul says again and again, but as Reformed theology is shy of lest is smack of smuggling in works-righteousness again. What's missing is an insistence on Scripture itself rather than tradition.

Scripture, yes! Wright's answers in the interview were much clearer and acceptable than his muddled, overly-complicated, and controversial book. I'll stick with my Greek, Hebrew, and Luther, and will monitor further discussions. I assert that not only do Wright and his critics speak past one another, Wright also has need to more closely examine Luther (and not merely in translation) and Lutheranism (of the LCMS variety) before critiquing us too harshly.

His conclusion has a verbally creative final paragraph (252), but I think there is too much talking past the Reformation tradition of exegesis and theology on justification for N. T. Wright's book to be as helpful to Christians as he hoped it would be.



We now examine Christians at work and in their lives producing the fruits of the Gospel. This is vocation.

 

 

Vocation comes from the Latin word for "to call." God calls us to faith in Christ. We live our lives of faith serving God by serving our neighbor. "Works help our neighbor and supply the proof that faith is living," we sing.

For some people, work is tedious and boring—something to endure until the weekend arrives. For others, work is everything; it consumes them and their time. The former find no meaning or satisfaction in their jobs, the latter find too much—both lack an eternal perspective, a biblical framework through which they can evaluate what they spend most of their lives doing.

This booklet offers that framework. Work, as ordained by God, has meaning and purpose. And by understanding your own vocation, you too can say with the psalmist, "Yes, establish the work of our hands!"(publisher's website)

 

 

 

These brief books from PandR Publishing on the basics of the faith have been helpful to me in explaining less-familiar Christian concepts in preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. Martin Luther is respected as a reformer, applying the word vocation to all aspects of a godly life lived in faith (8). Noted Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach makes an appearance as his "Soli Deo Gloria," to God alone be the glory, is added to the other solas of the Reformation (9).  

 

No, vocation is not Gospel, but  I especially appreciated the artful way Nichols shows us Jesus' vocation as Savior, and that is Gospel (25).

 

 

 

 

Most churches have newsletters. And most pastors write a regular column in their churches' newsletters. For those who know Russ Saltzman via his 17 years as editor of Forum Letter from 1991 - 2007‚ it will come as no surprise that writing a monthly "Pastor's Page" is something he did uncommonly well. This small book contains a collection of newsletter columns that he mostly wrote originally for his parishioners.

 

Pastor Saltzman's writing is engaging and often humorous. But these are serious pieces about serious subjects like the Incarnation, the authority of the Bible, suffering, judgment, the Real Presence, the Two Kingdoms and more. Some are personal reflections on family or congregational life, but most are in fact short theological essays. Pastor Saltzman is writing for people he knows, loves and respects, and he has put a lot of thought into what he says. Reading each of these short essays is rather like having a conversation with a pastor you can trust to be honest with you.

 

Current Forum Letter editor and parish pastor Richard O. Johnson said about it that "The Pastor's Page should be a seminary textbook for teaching future pastors how to communicate-and just how to be-with their parishioners." There is indeed much here for pastors and other Christian teachers from which to learn and to borrow. But this book is also a joy to read just for its own sake. (publisher's website)

Call me crazy, but newsletter articles should say something worth the reader's time. Russ Saltzman does that. His articles are memorable and worth learning from.

 

I have questions and concerns about the apple juice story (44), yet I appreciate the author's bold stand in the ELCA (71 et al) and the challenges being a Lutheran in a time of troubling questionaire results (39ff)! Pastors and other readers will smile and respect the challenges all pastoral care brings (74ff), including weevils (20ff).

 

 

What Is the Gospel? I remember many segments that Issues, Etc. has done over the years exposing the sad ignorance and lack of clarity of many Christian authors and publishers on that very question. How does Greg Gilbert fare?

 

 

 

What is the gospel? It seems like a simple question, yet it has been known to incite some heated responses, even in the church. How are we to formulate a clear, biblical understanding of the gospel? Tradition, reason, and experience all leave us ultimately disappointed. If we want answers, we must turn to the Word of God.


Greg Gilbert does so in What Is the Gospel? Beginning with Paul's systematic presentation of the gospel in Romans and moving through the sermons in Acts, Gilbert argues that the central structure of the gospel consists of four main subjects: God, man, Christ, and a response. The book carefully examines each and then explores the effects the gospel can have in individuals, churches, and the world. Both Christian and non-Christian readers will gain a clearer understanding of the gospel in this valuable resource.


GREG GILBERT earned his BA from Yale and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the author of What Is the Gospel?, and the co-author of What Is the Mission of the Church?

D. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He earned a doctorate in New Testament Studies from Cambridge University. He is an active guest lecturer, and he has written or edited more than forty books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago. (publisher's website)

Carson's forward calls for evangelicals to actually focus on the Gospel, the evangel. This is a good start (13ff).

Gilbert knows the Gospel and articulates it well (21, 31, Chapter 4, et al). The response to the Gospel is repentance and faith (Chapter 5). I would prefer that the Biblical order be maintained rather than "faith and repentance). He holds readers' feet to the fire in calling for repentance (80), yet lets expressions of decision theology go (also 80). I commend the author for maintaining a theology of the cross (Chapter 7), especially by exposing several false substitute "gospels," including moralism (109). God works through means, especially through the servants He has called into His service. The author explains the role of the holy ministry in comparison to the ministry of angels (119). Overall, the focus is on the person and work of Christ and the gifts He gifts and the Gift He is.





Justification is the article of faith by which the Church stands or falls. May these thoughts bless your reading and preparation for preaching, teaching, and pastoral care for the sake of the Gospel.




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.


View article...

Pulpit Review: Christian Doctrine

 

Driscoll, Mark and Gerry Breshears. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. 463 Pages. Cloth. $22.99. http://www.relit.org/ http://www.crossway.org/ (P).

 

Mueller, Steven P. Called to Believe, Teach, and Confess: An Introduction to Doctrinal Theology (Called by the Gospel). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2005. 574 Pages. Paper. $55.00. http://www.wipfandstock.com/ (P)

 

 

Whether the seminary's department is called "Systematic," "Dogmatic," or "Doctrinal" Theology, Christians should embrace as study of what the Bible says, especially when everything God's Word says about a specific topic or issue is organized in one place.

 

I am not talking about "winds of doctrine" or mere "human doctrine." The best dogmatics texts treat the sedes doctrinae, "seat of the doctrine," as the source of what Christians teach. This has been caricatured into "proof texting," at best, and, at worst, misused by those who wish to push another agenda and/or deceive those who respect and trust the Bible as God's Word: "Let's come up with some crazy idea and find some Bible verse to take out of context and 'prop up' our new teaching."

 

We find a positive use of the word "doctrine" in two books for consideration in this review.
 

 

Doctrine is the word Christians use to define the truth-claims revealed in Holy Scripture. Of course there is a multitude of churches, church networks, and denominations, each with their own doctrinal statement with many points of disagreement. But while Christians disagree on a number of doctrines, there are key elements that cannot be denied by anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus.

In Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, Driscoll and Breshears teach thirteen of these key elements. This meaty yet readable overview of basic doctrine will help Christians clarify and articulate their beliefs in accordance with the Bible.

 

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest-growing churches in America. He is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and is the author of several books, including Vintage Jesus.

Gerry Breshears is professor of theology and chairman of the division of biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary. (publisher's website)



Doctrine by Mark Driscoll from Crossway on Vimeo.

I get nervous when I hear the word "nondenominational." It means "no name." In my experience, most places that are "nondenom" have a name. They are part of some kind of denominational structure. For one reason or another, they are embarrassed by the label. It is also my experience that many "nondenom" folks have a theology that is largely Arminian Baptist, like much of American Evangelicalism. My point is rather simple: everyone should have a name because everyone teaches something about God, Jesus, the Bible, conversion, salvation, Baptism, Communion, and the delivery of the forgiveness of sins. Why not be upfront about it from the start?

My concerns about the Driscoll/Breshears collaboration:

  • Problems with "common grace" and possible salvation through general revelation (38ff)
  • An unfortunate denigration of a valid translation of Genesis 1:2 (including Martin Luther) that inaccurately assumes a sellout to Ancient Greek cosmology (83)
  • A discussion/denial of 24-hour days in creation due to a lack of clarity on the issue (93ff)
  • An unnecessary dependence on an A&E network/History channel TV show on the crucifixion (245ff)
  • Unhelpful talk of "open-handed" doctrines that are actually false theology, not open questions or mere preferences (310)
  • Inadequate and inaccurate teaching on Baptism and Communion (325ff). No one is pleased when you don't pick a side but merely describe some of them half-heartedly. (He comes down on the "memorial" view, 294.) See also a similar approach to teaching about charismatic gifts (e.g. 386).
  • An incomplete theology of worship that assumes but does not elaborate the primary work of God in speaking to us and saving us with our worship as a mere secondary response (337ff)

What do I appreciate about the volume?

  • Crossway cared enough about this title to put it in hardcover
  • The embracing of "angelomorphic Christology," OT appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ (21)
  • A largely-consistent expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • An encouragement of mission (242)
  • Use of the Gospel word, "gift" (262)
  • "The complementarian view of church leadership whereby only qualified men can occupy the office of elder-pastor..." (320)
  • Quoting Luther's insights on idolatry (346)
  • A better treatment of a theology of worship (352ff)

Art is medieval, yet modern. Writing is largely crisp and conversational. The authors appear uncomfortable with some controversial doctrines and bold on others. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe is a solid effort, but one that would be inappropriate and inadequate for use as a text at my school or in my congregation. It should serve well its intended audience of American Evangelicals looking for something deeper.




Called to Believe, Teach, and Confess offers an overview of the major doctrines of Christianity in a comprehensive, but accessible way. Written from a Lutheran perspective, this book is a helpful resource to those within that tradition and to others who seek a deeper theological understanding. Firmly rooted in Scripture, this book emphasizes the interrelatedness of all Christian teaching, with its central teaching being the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

This book is ideal as a text for university students and other educated Christian adults who seek to expand their knowledge of God's revelation and its application in human lives. It introduces and uses classical theological vocabulary and terminology, while offering clear definitions and application. Key terms, study questions, glossary, and sidebars help make this a valuable resource. Suggested readings from Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and other secondary sources guide the reader into deeper study. (publisher's website)

Mueller's doctrinal text is a better modern text than John Theodore Mueller's Christian Dogmatics, itself a summary/translation of Francis Pieper's Christian Dogmatics. This is Biblically grounded, Catechism-friendly Lutheran teaching from the Scriptures, the same dogma sung by Lutheran Service Book. It is available in the bookstores and classrooms of the Concordia University system of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and is resold (following doctrinal review) by our denominational publisher, Concordia Publishing House. 

Highlights include:

  • Authors Korey D. Maas, Timothy H. Maschke, Brian M. Mosemann, Steven P. Mueller, and Gregory P. Seltz (now Lutheran Hour speaker)
  • Justification (Chapter 11) held up as the central doctrine of the faith and the importance of a christocentric organization of all doctrine, following the basic order of the creeds (22)
  • A recognition of the difference between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory in worship (34)
  • An entire chapter on Law and Gospel as an introduction to the importance of the distinction in understanding the Bible (55ff)
  • An emphasis on the Means of Grace (312ff)
  • A helpful appendix on the Lutheran Confessions (485ff)

This book could be strengthened by being published with a hardcover. 


Called to Believe, Teach, and Confess is part of a larger series of LCMS-written and Wipf and Stock-published introductory volumes on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and History. I look forward to reading the rest.

 

 

Doctrine remains important to Christians because of the claims made by God's Word. We hold to the faith once delivered to the saints. Amen.




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.


View article...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Resources Received






Page CXVI. Hymns IV. Gilbert, AZ: Page CXVI, 2011. mp3 audio download. $9.99. http://pagecxvi.com/ (H)


Hymnody Resurgent: Arizona

 



Page CXVI. Hymns. Gilbert, AZ: Page CXVI, 2009. mp3 audio download. $6.99. http://pagecxvi.com/ (H)

 

Page CXVI. Hymns II. Gilbert, AZ: Page CXVI, 2010. mp3 audio download. $6.99. http://pagecxvi.com/ (H)

 

Page CXVI. Hymns III. Gilbert, AZ: Page CXVI, 2010. mp3 audio download. $6.99. http://pagecxvi.com/ (H) 



Hymns are being rediscovered in American churches. This is a good thing!

Why the name Page CXVI?

The name comes from a reference to page 116 in our copy of The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. It is a poignant passage where Aslan begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.

It starts, "In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction is was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it."
~ C.S. Lewis (publisher's website)

 


This review focuses on the first three albums by Page CXVI. As you can see, a fourth is one the way.


Hymns receive a similar treatment than that of David Potter and Man of Sorrows Glorious King.

You may remember that this Hymns Resurgent series of hymnody reviews celebrates the return of hymnody in Christian circles where praise songs have dominated for decades. 


An illustration of a fresh treatment of an old favorite is the lead track on the first album. "Come, Thou Fount," with its KJV language meets piano, female vocals, guitar, and drum set. Just when I was wondering if the drum beat would remain monotonous, it varies and even fades away.

"In Christ Alone" gets an unique Page CXVI treatment. This is more of a pop/rock setting with a driving beat in the later stanzas, leading in to a powerful treatment of "My Jesus I Love Thee" that I would consider more "road trip music" than for the sanctuary.

"Nothing But the Blood" (I, 5) appears to be a staple hymn in the repertoire of groups reviving and refreshing hymnody. The focus remains on Christ and His sacrificial atonement. I would love to hear new stanzas that concretely locate the delivery of forgiveness in the Lord's Supper. It would be a natural context to sing this resurgent hymn. 


"Solid Rock" and a pensive setting of "Joy" close the first album, with dissonance, tempo, and setting that confess the joy of Christ in the midst of life.


The second album kicks off with a very different tune (original to the band?) for "How Great Thou Art." It is singable, if not memorable, but supports the text and helps the singer/listener hear the text in a fresh way.

"Praise to the Lord" is a great arrangement of a well-loved hymn. Percussion is lively and appropriate. I'd love to hear the "unplugged" version.


I was unfamiliar with "Jesus I Am Resting, Resting." This arrangement is lively, uplifting, and encouraging. It sounds new, though it isn't.


"Rock of Ages" is given some different rhythms and occasional melody alterations (blue notes?). The piano chord progressions could have sufficed as a percussive accompaniment. "Abide with Me" gets a similar musical treatment and a slight ethereal echo.

The Church Militant is evident in "Battle Hymn of The Republic." As judges on TV singing shows say, the band "made it their own."


"Doxology" is a new spin on the classic text. It is a free melody that has melodic echos of the traditional tune. An appropriate finish.




Hymns III begins with "Be Still My Soul," "Be Thou My Vision," and "In the Sweet By and By." The tension of the first stanza of the first track resolves with soulful trumpet. Angelic vocals introduce the familiar Irish tune of the second track. The by and by of track three is supplemented with creative guitar chord progressions and a fresh take on the stanzas. All are hopeful and optimistic in feel.


A free melodic interpretation of "Holy, Holy, Holy" leads into a joyous and uplifting recording of "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,"  reminiscent of Michelle Tumes.


The closing tracks, "You Have Redeemed My Soul"  and "Divine Invitation" were new to this listener. Soaring vocals and inspiring melodies wrap up album three.



I am impressed by the hymn selections of Page CXVI evidenced by their first three albums. The hymn texts are rich in confession of the person and work of Christ. And they, as the song of the saints of generations now at rest in Christ, still confess the faith once delivered to all saints.

Hymnody is resurgent again. Good Christian hymns are filled with the comfort of the Gospel, solid Bible teaching, and are sung creativity. 

I wouldn't mind hearing Page CXVI until they release Hymns VI, Hymns XVI, and even Hymns CXVI. In the meantime, I'll ask for a review copy of Hymns IV.





The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.


View article...

LHP Review: Luther

 

 

 

Luther, Martin. Edited and translated by Holger Sonntag. Solus Decalogus Est Aeternus: Martin Luther's Complete Antinomian Theses and Disputations. Minneapolis: Cygnus Series/Lutheran Press, 2008. 409 Pages. Paper. $15.50. www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)

 

Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Edited and Arranged by Paul Strawn. Christians Can Be Soldiers: From Martin Luther's Whether Soldiers Too Can Be in a Holy Estate. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2010. 123 Pages. Paper. $6.00.  www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)

 

Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Adapted by Paul Strawn. Convicted by the Spirit: From Martin Luther's Postil 235 - John 16:8-13). Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2009. 105 Pages. Paper. $.6.00. www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)

 

Luther, Martin. Edited by Christopher Boyd Brown. Sermons V (Luther's Works, Volume 58.) St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 489 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. http://www.cph.org (LHP)

 

 

I've said it once and I'll say it again: Christians need to read more Luther. And not just in time for Reformation Day. Sit down with him at least once a week. And graduate from the one Table Talk Volume. Read his exegetical and theological works. And then, challenge yourself.

 

 

Pick up Solus Decalogus Est Aeternus. 

 

 

The title is intimidating because it is in Latin. 

 

And because Luther uses formal logic and great rhetoric inside. 

If you don't know Latin, buy the English-only edition.

 

I appreciated this volume for two main reasons.

 

  1. It is a perfect piece of homework for the Headmaster of a Classical Lutheran school. For the last two years, I've taught an Introductory Logic class for middle school children (beyond the offerings of our K-5 grammar school) and their parents, grandparents, as well as our grammar school teachers. We also include Latin in the curriculum and are preparing to teach Intermediate Logic, Aristotle, Rhetoric, Apologetics, and Worldview. Luther is perfect reading for this kind of background and to prepare to teach and lead this kind of classical education.
  2. I love the content. This is a translation of all of Luther's antinomian theses, not just the ones formally presented in public disputation. (See below)

This is not a critical edition, but it is a bilingual Latin-English edition. This edition's title, "Only the Decalogue Is Eternal," comes from page 128, the 34th argument of the first disputation (7).

Why the Antinomian disputations? Why now? Whether it is the disappearance of the last generation of native-German speaking Americans, a residual post-World War II anti-German bias, or simply neglect, the theology of Luther that made its way out of the 16th century seems to have devolved, at least in the United States, into simple caricature. If known at all, Lutheran theology seems simply to be that which bolsters or buttresses contemporary theological concepts, ideas and trends...By bringing an unknown work of Luther to light, once again the reader is forced to consider the greater question of his theology in toto.


This 416 page side-by-side Latin/English work presents Luther's Antinomian Theses and Disputations for the very first time in English, and is a must-have for anyone interested in Lutheran theology. (Publisher's website)

Many today are unfamiliar with the logic-heavy and theologically demanding exercise of disputations as a way to do theology. How does one deal with false/ambiguous/unclear teachings in the church? This is one way. Motive and method are important (205, 277). Luther himself took on Agricola's teachings on the law of God. He did it in several rounds. Agricola recanted, and Luther accepted this recantation, suspicions remained (15).

 

The experience of reading all the theses and disputations in one volume is a very positive one. It has aided my preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and understanding of Walther's Law and Gospel.

 

I look forward to more in this elegant, substantial, and unique Cygnus Series (Latin for swan) imprint of Lutheran Press in addition to their two volume biography of Matthias Flacius and new offerings in their popular Luther series.

 

 

 

Christians Can Be Soldiers is one of two examples of Lutheran Press' popular series of the works of Luther.

It generally is not difficult to understand how a Christian can serve in the military compulsorily during a conflict in which life, family, property and even a nation itself is at stake; when right and wrong are easy to determine, when an enemy combatant is easily identifiable and a desired outcome clearly desirable and achievable. In such a situation the specific acts of individual soldiers, although troubling, and in any other context, unacceptable, are accepted and indeed, understood as necessary. But what about when the greater contours of war are not as clear? When military service is not compulsory, but voluntary? When combatants are difficult to identify? When the validity of individual acts of soldiers is routinely questioned by those outside of the military? Can a Christian serve in such a situation? Martin Luther answers this question with a sure and confident "Yes!" How? By explaining what a soldier actually is in the eyes of God and what therefore a soldier is to do. Luther even includes a prayer written specifically for soldiers before they enter combat.


Formatted into 15 simple chapters along with study questions, this 128 page book is perfect for personal devotion or Bible study. (Publisher's website)

And that's how I've personally used this volume. It was good reading to prepare to give pastoral care to returning veterans and retired military. It was a supplemental volume to a 2011 midweek Bible Class on Islam through Christian eyes. And it is as relevant as when it was first published. 

 

Sonntag's translation gives Luther an appropriately conversational and earthy tone. Editor Paul Strawn's study questions are properly insightful and Socratic in that they allow the reader/class to make the mental connections and the joyful discovery of what Luther says from God's own Word about war and those who have the vocation for it.

 

 

Convicted by the Spirit is a second volume in series of popular versions of Luther's Works. 

 

A commentary on John 16:8-13, readers will learn:

  • The sin of the world is that it does not believe in Christ (32).
  • Once you have this [Christ's] righteousness, then go ahead and do as many good works as you can (63).
  • The world's prince and his followers are in condemnation already (76)

 

In today's massive field of popular Christian literature it is common to find books about the End Times, about the Holy Spirit, and about Christ. Yet rarely are books found that deal with all three subjects at one time. As Martin Luther demonstrates in this work, all three topics do indeed belong together. In these End Times, the Christian remains in Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit. But what is that working? Is it in various types of manifestations which are interpreted to be fundamental faith-growing and faith-nurturing events? Is it in giving insight to individual Christians directly so that those around them can benefit from knowledge not to be found in the Bible? Is it in the creation of a specific emotion which is understood to be faith itself? By treating passages from John 16, Jesus' last words to his disciples before his crucifixion, Luther demonstrates that the work of the Holy Spirit is much more all-encompassing in the life of the Christian. Specifically, the work of the Spirit is to convict the Christian of his sin, his righteousness in Christ, and the judgment of Satan. Far from being simplistic ideas of salvation history, however, Luther demonstrates that the continual conviction of the veracity of all three is fundamental to the life of the Christian in the here and now.


Formatted into 16 simple chapters along with study questions, this 112 page book is perfect for personal devotion or Bible study. (Publishers website)

Accessible for the modern reader, Strawn and Sonntag have developed a translating, editing, and formatting process that works (105). And I want more for the sake of the Gospel!

 

Electronic versions are available on the Lutheran Press website. Personally, I prefer the neat paperbacks to purchase and give away.

 

I've taken to reading Luther more closely in Lent. The new volume of sermons (Sermons V) in the Twenty-first Century expansion of the American Edition of Luther's Works was ideal Lenten reading for me.

 

This volume contains a selection of Luther's preaching from between January 1539 and his death in 1546. Aware of his own mortality and deeply committed to the proclamation of the Gospel in the last days of the world, Luther preached during these years with a special sense of urgency, seeking to make a final confession and testament of his teaching and to issue a public rejection of its opponents. In that effort, he returned frequently to theological themes from the early years of his public career and to autobiographical reflection, working to convey the significance of the Reformation to a new generation ignorant of the circumstances that had called for reform, who had experienced "nothing of these distresses and heartbreak under the pope and what a joyful thing the Gospel is."

The recent expansion of the Reformation to previously hostile territories and cities provided Luther, despite his health, with opportunities to travel and to preach to newly Evangelical communities, expounding the basic elements of his theology. In these sermons, Luther emphasized catechesis in the heart of the Gospel as he understood it, but he was also concerned with warning against a return to old abuses and with encouraging the new organization and support of Evangelical clergy and schools to ensure the survival of the Reformation.

In his ongoing preaching in Wittenberg itself, Luther was intensely concerned with the life and welfare of the congregation with whose life he had been most intimately involved. In addition to preaching on the broader theological conflicts with which he dealt in his published treatises, Luther dealt with local tensions—which culminated in his own brief, self-imposed "exile" from Wittenberg in the summer of 1545. He defended his own role within and responsibility for the Wittenberg church and dealt concretely with the Antinomians' rejection of the Law for Christians by assiduously preaching both the Law and the Gospel to the congregation. When, as it often did, the life of the Wittenbergers seemed to fall short in both good works and faithful devotion, Luther could be uncompromising and unrestrained in his admonitions, whether in denouncing the university jurists who sought to reimpose the standards of papal canon law or in rebuking the Wittenbergers for immorality and, especially, for their greed.

Nevertheless, even Luther's most bitter complaints about Evangelical congregations do not suggest that the old reformer had fallen into despair. His admonitions to faithful hearing of the Word and amendment of life appear alongside his confident declarations that, in fact, the Gospel was being faithfully taught. Luther boasted that the Gospel was being preached and proclaimed, not only in the churches by faithful pastors, not only in the schools, but also in homes, among parents and children, as he says in his last sermon: "You hear [God's Word] at home in your house, father and mother and children sing and speak of it, the preacher speaks of it in the parish church." The Gospel is thus communicated from one generation to the next, from parents to children—and also back again, from children to parents. It is to the children, learning the Catechism, that Luther refers adults who have questions about Christian faith, and upon the youth, "the seedlings with which the Church of God, like a beautiful garden, is cultivated and propagated," that the reformer continues to place undiminished hopes. These sermons thus bear witness to Luther's understanding that the Reformation is neither an accomplished, once-for-all event nor a step along the progressive way to the full purification of the Church, but a continual struggle, carried out through the preaching of the Law and the Gospel, to be renewed from generation to generation until the Last Day. (Publisher's website)

Volume 58 is an ideal supplement to the four widely-available volumes of Luther's Church Postils translated/edited by John Nicholas Lenker.

One will hear echoes of Luther's Catechisms in these sermons (xviii). He comments on theological current events like his ongoing disputations with antinomians (16) and criticism of such preachers (234) or the discussion of "the analogy of faith" (215). And the editors walk the modern reader through Luther's views of the Jews (407, 458), largely a result of frustration of a continued rejection of the Gospel. His sermon of February 2, 1546 on Luke 2:22-32 touches on Jesus' Jewish heritage, the virginity of Mary (433), and a warning against Christian pride over and against the Jews (440). I hear repentance for Luther's previous harshness, but the very fact that Luther calls for conversion of Jews to Christianity will be seen by modern Judaism as antisemitic anyway.


Luther

  • extols marriage (27)
  • condemns clandestine engagements (82)
  • tells of his father's words to him on becoming a monk (86) and true godly vocations (201)
  • finally tells us who Hans Pfriem is (100)
  • holds communicants to the Words of Christ (110, 448) and the sacraments (116)
  • speaks of Islamic militarism (139, 298) and Mohammed's theological confusion (193)
  • teaches logic in Latin (149)
  • frankly describes sin (156)
  • talks of a Roman Church, not Roman Catholic (218)
  • preaches at a site of Tetzel's preaching of indulgences for its rededication (259)
  • rejects human/demon hybrids (292ff)
  • recalls his trip to Rome (333, 372)
  • modified the lectionary for local use (387)
  • clarifies childbirth and "the churching of women" (431)
  • condemns schisms and false doctrine (457)


Luther advocates for the more frequent singing of "Blessed Be the Lord," the Benedictus, a canticle for Matins/Morning Prayer (302).  Our school sings the Benedictus at Wednesday Morning Prayer each week and in Advent and Lent when we pray Matins on Mondays.

Educators will be encouraged to hear:

Nothing whatsoever will help us except to pay serious attention to God's Word with all diligence to help preserve it for ourselves and for our descendants, especially by maintaining good schools and educating the youth, for they are the seedlings with which the Church of God, like a beautiful garden, is cultivated and propagated (262 and 279, as also quoted above).



Look for this and other volumes of Luther's Works for LOGOS and other electronic formats as well.



Lutheran Christians know that reading Luther is good for them for he preaches the Word and points us to Christ. These five volumes will edify you and those whom you serve. I pray that this review will encourage you in why they are good so that Luther may be a continued blessing to the Lord's Church.

 

 

 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.


View article...

Hymnody Resurgent: Nebraska

 

 

Potter, David. Man of Sorrows Glorious King. 2010. Omaha: David Potter, 2010. mp3 audio download. $12.00.http://davidpotter.bandcamp.com/album/man-of-sorrows-glorious-king (H)

 

 

The Church's hymnody is being rediscovered and reinterpreted around the country. This review of Man of Sorrows Glorious King is one of a series of reviews that focus on this resurgence of hymnody.

 

It is my assertion that this trend is a good thing. 

 

And here's how I think it is happening.

 

The generation of children raised in megachurches is coming of age. They tire of worship trappings of their Baby Boomer parents (like the boomers tired of traditional Christian worship in the 1960's, give or take a decade).

 

Then what? They look for something older, something more constant, more sure. So I see various artists, groups, and congregations look at the oldest worship books in their particular tradition for theological depth. And they seem to be finding it in hymns.

 

As a Lutheran Christian, I can watch what is going on with some detachment. I find it curious that "contemporary worship," a generational reaction against the shallowness of revivalistic (and revival-era hymns and worship practices) emerged in Lutheranism. Lutherans have tried to preserve the best Christian song of every time and place, sung in the context of the historic western Divine Service, itself the heir of the synagogue and home worship of Judaism in the context of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, the Prophet, Priest, King, and true Temple. In retrospect, it seems silly (at best) to abandon the song of the saints for the fad of one generation's song and style. In fact, I think the rise of CCM in the LCMS is due to the difficulties many in our Synod had with the revised version of Lutheran Book of Worship published by the LCMS in 1982, Lutheran Worship. I'll leave it to my generation and the children of the Baby Boomers to grow up out of their parents' preferences. So far, the future looks promising with over 80% of our congregations using Lutheran Service Book (2006).

 

I could go on, but David Potter's album deserves the rest of our attention for now.

 

 

I thought I was well-acquainted with hymnody of most Christian traditions, but I have been humbled by this "hymnody resurgent" trend. 


I thought "Man of Sorrows Glorious King" was a new composition by Potter until I found it in older hymnal. This Philip Bliss text and tune could be used by liturgical Christians in Lent if the closing phrase, "Hallelujah, what a Savior" had a seasonal substitute: "Lord, have mercy, what a Savior."


Hymns on this recording are accompanied by the typical modern pop/rock ensemble of keyboard, voice, guitar(s), and drum set. I don't find the drum set or distorted guitar reverent for Divine Service or Divine Office on the Lord's Day, but I need to realize what these other artists, congregations and traditions have become accustomed to on Sunday mornings at worship over the last 50 years. This is definitely a step forward. 


Listeners will hear more familiar hymns like "All Creatures of Our God and King," Rock of Ages," "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus," There Is a Fountain," Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah," and Be Thou My Vision" alongside "You Are the One" and "The Greatness of His Mercy." The album concludes with acoustic arrangements of "Man of Sorrows," "You Are the One," and "The Greatness of His Mercy." I am more worshipful with those versions because I find natural sounds (even if amplified for clarity of communication) more appropriate than artificial ones (and that includes electronic organs, too). 


David Potter's album is representative of hymnody resurgent. He reinterprets hymns from his own Christian tradition by changing the instrumentation, harmonies, arrangments, and often the melody to communicate and worship with a new generation of Christians seeking something of substance in theology and praise.

Hymnody resurgent borrows some techniques from historic Christian worship and so-called contemporary worship, as does the modern hymnody of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend et al. One will hear musical interludes in-between hymn stanzas (like traditional Lutheran organ playing). One will also note new or altered melodies (not unlike tone painting to emphasize texual phrases or entire hymn stanzas) and the addition of refrains to encourage congregational singing. 


As an album, Man of Sorrows Glorious King is an example of the resurgence of the theology of the cross and a better theology of worship in American Evangelicalism. I'll be listening for more from David Potter.





The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.


View article...

LHP Review: Youth, Christianity, and Higher Education


Sawler, David. Before they Say Goodbye: Thoughts on How to Keep This Generation.  Winnipeg, Canada: Word Alive Press, 2011. 235 Pages. Paper. $17.00.  www.beforetheysaygoodbye.com  www.davidsawler.com (LHP)


Ham, Ken and Greg Hall with Britt Beemer. Already Compromised: Christian colleges took a test on the state of their faith and THE FINAL EXAM IS IN. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2011. 240 Pages. Paper. $13.99. www.masterbooks.net  www.answersingenesis.org (LHP)




Youth ministry is often frustrating. So many resources merely embrace the current or next fad. Young people are busy with sports, part-time work, and other interests. And parents sometimes have other priorities to bringing their children to Church or Youth Group. 

In this way, youth ministry is like running a school. You can discipline the children, who often understand what's going on, but you can't really discipline the parents. 

The authors of today's two books give perspective on caring for the next generation of Christians.







We asked ministers, authors, teachers, youth and children’s pastors all over the world this question.

If you could tell a parent, minister, children’s or youth worker one piece of advice to help keep their children and yuth strong in their faith, what would it be?

It is common knowledge that the majority of the children, youth, and young adults who have grown up in the church do not remain.  However, many have been left wondering, ‘What? If anything can we do?’  Before They Say Goodbye is a proactive attempt to answer that question.  David Sawler has put the ideas, advice, and stories from Christian leaders from around the world in a book that will be a benefit to every reader.
We asked ministers, authors, teachers, youth and children’s pastors all over the world this question.

If you could tell a parent, minister, children’s or youth worker one piece of advice to help keep their children and youth strong in their faith, what would it be?

It is common knowledge that the majority of the children, youth, and young adults who have grown up in the church do not remain.  However, many have been left wondering, ‘What? If anything can we do?’  Before They Say Goodbye is a proactive attempt to answer that question.  David Sawler has put the ideas, advice, and stories from Christian leaders from around the world in a book that will be a benefit to every reader. (publisher's website)

I really like the proactive approach. There are no easy answers here. The Introduction gives us the parable of the sower from Luke 8 (xii) to set the proper tone. 

I also appreciated what young people themselves had to say (84). More Scripture, less illiteracy. Less hypocrisy. Get away from the megachurch model, mentorship. I will take objection to the modern unbiblical practice of altar calls and decision theology, but what the young person really wanted, "for the Spirit to move," is part of God's work in Word and Sacrament as we preach and teach the Gospel of Christ. 

In the context of caring for those hurt by the Church, the author of Chapter 05 briefly discusses infant baptism. I do not agree with how the author comes down on the issue, but I do appreciate the tact, seriousness, and respect with which the issue was handled (98). That helps me hear what is being said.


I applaud the courage and forthrightness of Sawler and his contributors in saying what needs to be said:
  • The idea that hiring professional staff to work with our children and youth means we will retain our youth is false (20).
  • As we raise our children (both naturally and spiritually), we need to let them understand that there are things we do because we are Christians. While this can [and should] include going to services, it must go beyond that into everyday practice (56).
  • Spiritual adoption means that we invite new and young believers not only into our church programs, but also into our lives (77).
  • The gospel is Good News because God is doing what we never could do. It is Good News not just to those perishing, but also to those who are now in our churches (123).
  • Counter-example: I have been told how many went looking for answers, but received non, even in the church. They have been told not to question, just to accept (151).
  • ....we must also address the psychological and social reasons that shape belief and unbelief. If we don't, it may not matter how persuasive our apologetics are (168).
  • At minimum, every church family should continue to follow up, encourage, and keep in touch with its members until they are firmly established in a new location (190).
  • They [a huge number of Christians of all ages] do not associate being a Christian, or their church experience, with "life" at all. Rather, they are more likely to believe it is a lack of life (202).
I happily recommend Before They Say Goodbye as a realistic, honest, forthright, and encouraging help to those struggling with youth ministry.


Authors Ken Ham and Greg Hall tackle the state of Christian colleges and come to some surprising and troubling conclusions. 





Will a Christian college build a student's faith or tear it down?

Parents and students sacrifice large sums of money for a Christian college education. Why? They are purchasing a guarantee their child's faith in God and the Bible will be guarded and developed. But is the Bible being taught? Will they graduate believing in the inerrancy of Scripture, the Flood of Noah's Day, and a literal six day creation?
Apologetics powerhouse Ken Ham and Dr. Greg Hall reveal an eye opening assessment of 200 Christian colleges and universities. In an unprecedented 2010 study by America Research Group, college presidents, religion and science department heads were polled on critical areas of Scripture and core faith questions.
Ken Ham is an accomplished author of some of the most popular and effective apologetics research on the market. He is the founder of Answers in Genesis - U.S. and the president of the Creation Museum. (publisher's website)
Ham and Hall's writing is in a popular style rather than an academic one, much like Already Gone. Sadly, some of America's Christian religious institutions are already gone, too. Some are uncertain of their identity and message. We face a battle for the minds and souls of young Christians in higher education.



Two-dimensional barcodes take the reader to http://creationcolleges.org to show the detailed responses of university presidents, academic deans/vice presidents, and the heads of each institution's science and theology/religion departments. While I think such a study is helpful, it has limitations that affect how helpful its results will be to me as a Lutheran.


Only colleges in agreement with the Answers in Genesis Statement of Faith are commended. Source: http://www.answersingenesis.org/colleges/all/

Bible Institutes

  • Jackson Hole Bible College (Jackson Hole, WY)
  • Grace Baptist Bible College (Winston Salem, NC)
  • Frontier School of the Bible (La Grange, WY)
  • Word of Life Bible Institute (Owen Sound, Ontario; Pottersville, NY; Hudson, FL)
  • Piedmont Bible College (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Kentucky Mountain Bible College (Jackson, KY)
  • The Crown College of the Bible (Powell, TN)
  • Verity Institute (Indianapolis, IN)

Colleges & Universities

Seminaries

As you can see, many have a Baptist background or theological position. I'm not making any derogatory assertions here, just stating fact. 

There are honest differences between Bible-believing Lutherans (in the LCMS, my church body-NOT the ELCA) and Bible-believing Baptists. Knowing the theological position/biases of the authors is important. 

Those of us in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are well aware of work that needs to be done in-house in our Concordia Universities and Colleges. Our seminaries are top notch. And the LCMS is one of a very small number of church bodies that officially hold to a real 24-hour-day 7-day creation!


What does this book reveal? Watch the YouTube preview:
 


I recommend Already Compromised as a resource for Christian pastors, congregations, and parents to help prepare children for college (and junior high and high school). It is so sad that the secularization of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth is repeating itself in our day. 


How should the book be used in our midst? 

Read the official Questionnaire in Appendix D (228ff). Visit institutions that you are thinking about attending. Ask the questions yourself of the faculty there. Do your own research. Compare the answers you hear to Scripture and the recommended acceptable answers. Involve your pastor in the process. 


Use this book to learn about historical criticism of the Bible and the JEDP false teaching. Learn about apologetics and worldview. Teach your young people about the dangers of political correctness. And begin early. Answer their questions. Use realistic art in Sunday School and VBS.


Already Compromised is the beginning of a process, not the end of one. It is one tool that can be used to answer the question: Will a Christian college build a student's faith or tear it down? That question could and should be asked at every educational step.


It is often said that our young people are the future of the Church. And while that statement is true, it is misleadingly incomplete. All the baptized are part of the Church NOW! They deserve the best education their parents can give them at every stage, whether that is at home, a Christian school, a private school, or a public school. Parents need to reclaim their "Honor your father and your mother" mantle as the first and primary teachers of their own children so that errors in doctrine and worldview are handled early and often so that their children receive a Christian education.




Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.