Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Resources Received


Tizon, Al. Missonal Preaching: Engage Embrace Transform. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2012. 192 Pages. Paper. (Spiral-bound pre-publication galley received.) $16.99. www.judsonpress.com (P)

Murphy, Paul. The Thirteenth Apostle: A Novel. Mobile, AL/Southport, NC: Evergreen Press, 2004. 216 Pages. Paper with CD-Rom curriculum guide. (Two copies received.) $11.99. www.paulmurphybooks.com (N)


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Closing Volume 5 and Issue 5.4 and Opening Volume 6 and Issue 6.1


With the beginning of Volume 6,
we intend to discontinue making pdf editions of this blog (unless there are overwhelming requests for them).

In response to an expressed need,
we now have two sub blogs that both feed into
Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review

The content of http://LHPQBR.blogspot.com
should appear to remain the same. 

Readers that wish to receive only our forwards
can now also go to http://lhpfwd.blogspot.com/

Readers that wish to only receive
our original book and resource reviews
and be notified of new resources that we have received
may go to http://lhplbr.blogspot.com/,
the LHP Lutheran Book Review blog.
We DO plan to make pdf versions of LHP LBR.

A Blessed New Church Year to all!

The Editor 
 

Pulpit Review: Ancient Christian Doctrine




Edwards, Mark J., editor. Thomas C. Oden, series editor. We Believe in the Crucified and Risen Lord (Ancient Christian Doctrine 3). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2009. 194 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. http://academic.ivpress.com/ (P)

Elowsky, Joel C., editor. Thomas C. Oden, series editor. We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Ancient Christian Doctrine 4). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2009. 309 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. http://academic.ivpress.com/ (P)

Di Berardino, Angelo, editor. Thomas C. Oden, series editor. We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (Ancient Christian Doctrine 5). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010. 316 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. http://academic.ivpress.com/ (P)


Our Modern world gets a regular glimpse at Ancient Christianity thanks to InterVarsity Press. 

In this review, we complete a series of reviews on the five-volume Ancient Christian Doctrine series, now complete.

Read our review of Volume 1: http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2009/09/pulpit-review-test.html.

Read our review of Volume 2: http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2010/07/pulpit-review-christ.html.



Volume 3 continues the series' Ancient Commentary on the Nicene Creed.

The resurrection changed everything. "But for the resurrection," writes Mark J. Edwards, "there would have been no reason to argue for a union of two natures in the person of Christ, let alone for a dyad or triad in the Godhead. All that he had said and done in the course of his earthly ministry would have sat well enough with the character of a prophet who excelled such predecessors as Isaiah and John the Baptist only in power and closeness to God."

That is the story that unfolds as Edwards gathers together the most salient comments from the early church on the latter half of the second article of the Nicene Creed on God the Son as the crucified and risen Lord. The deliberations of ancient Christian writers on these matters are regarded now as the nucleus of Christology. The work of Christ is customarily considered, in Western Christendom at least, as the principal object of his coming. That Christ died for our sins was an axiom of all apostolic preaching.

In these pages we see that the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation were not the second thoughts of Christendom after its encounter with Greek philosophy. Rather they were forced on the church by its refusal to adopt the polytheism of the Greeks as a means of reconciling the sovereignty of God with the exaltation of Christ as Lord.

It is ultimately in the work of Christ that the essentials of his Person are revealed. The church's early teachers ultimately combine to denounce the critical maneuvers that would persuade us that the Scriptures do not mean what they plainly say. Here, as throughout the Creed, we see how the early church rooted all its claims in Scripture. (publisher's website)
Where Volume 2 focuses on the person of Christ, Volume 3 focuses on His work for us and our salvation in his crucifixion and Resurrection.

Choice Quotes:
  • From the Introduction: "There is no consensus now that the high Christology is a proof of late composition" (xvii)
  • Jerome: [Peter] means it cannot be and my ears cannot bear, that the Son of God should be killed...[Jesus] means, "Because you are speaking in opposition to my resolve, you deserve to be called an enemy." (21, Peter's Confession)
  • Cyril of Alexandria: For all that, let them not divide him double-mindedly or foist on us two sons but confess him as one and the same, as the Word of God become man, and predicate everything of him, words and deeds alike. For since the same one was at the same time God and man, he speaks both what befits God and what befits humans, and likewise his acts are both human and divine... (40, Miracles and the Two Natures)
  • Hippolytus: This was the salvific desire of Christ, this his spiritual love, to show that the types were but types and to give his holy body to his disciples in place of them: "Take eat; this is my body. Take, drink; this is my blood, the new covenant, which was poured out for all the remission of sins." (79, The Last Supper)
Christian catechesis abounds in resources to teach the Apostles' Creed. Let us hear from ancient pastors how Scripture presents the truths we confess in the Nicene Creed.

The Third Article gets two volumes in this series.


 Volume 4 focuses on the person of God the Holy Spirit.

"The Spirit blows where it pleases," Jesus said to Nicodemus. "You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

The Spirit, like the wind, is hard to pin down. Any discussion of the Spirit is fraught with the difficulty of speaking about something or someone who defies definition and who purposely averts attention from himself toward someone else. So it is with the Spirit. And so it is with the church's reception of and conversation about the Spirit, even in its early centuries. It is hard to pin down, and the church's voice on the Spirit has been about as loud as the whisper of the wind that indicates the Spirit's presence.

The church's teaching on the Holy Spirit is perhaps what Nicolas Berdayev has called "the last unexplored theological frontier." In these latter days of the church, this "final frontier" is receiving increasing attention. The rise of the Pentecostal movement, the engaged witness of the Orthodox churches, which have historically been more sensitive to the role of the Spirit, coupled with the fact that people in general are looking for a deeper and more relational faith, perhaps help explain in part the increased attention the Spirit is getting.

It is appropriate then that the base camp of this exploration be established in the early understanding of the church on these matters. Following the outline of the succinct third article of the Nicene Creed, Joel Elowsky opens up to us vistas of the Holy Spirit with expertly selected passages from ancient Christian writings.

This portion of the Creed, apart from the filioque, is largely uncontroversial. The full deity of the Spirit is highlighted not so much by theological definition as by the emphasis on worship and action. While the Creed itself does not speak directly of the work of the Spirit in justification, sanctification and the like, the early church theologians nevertheless had much to say on these issues. Here we see clearly how the Spirit is "giver of life." (publisher's website)

Seeing the Greek, Latin, and English of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed should encourage all Christians to work toward unity with the mind of Christ, and encourage us to keep confessing the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, not anticipating an earthly visible unity, but in hopes of better appreciating our heavenly unity with Christ and through Him, with one another.

Of issue in this volume is a possible misunderstanding by the reader of what is a loaded term in the East, theosis (137ff); Synesios of Cyrene's confused hymn about the Spirit (18); and a muddled explanation of the current muddled situation (xv, in contrast to the clarity of Martin Luther's explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed on the active work of the Spirit).

The editors do a marvelous job of making the appeal to Scripture first, Nicene Creed second, and Fathers as third authority in what could have been the most controversial volume in the set. We pray for a Nicene unity!

Of note:
  • From the Introduction: "The early Christians approached their teaching about the Holy spirit more cautiously and humbly than subsequent ages have done at times" (xxxiii).
  • This abundance of caution is seen especially when explaining blasphemy (36).
  • The Giver of Life (Historical Context): Repentance precedes justification in the sense that it prepares the heart to receive God's gracious gift of forgiveness by tearing down any notino of self-justification...(84)
  • A vital section: A Vital Sacramental Union (163-166).
  • Filioque (217ff, especially note 16 on page 219)
  • Hymns (248-249)



I would propose that Volume 5 is as much a volume on the work of the Holy Spirit as Volume 4 was on the person of the Holy Spirit.

When was the church founded? Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God and not of a religious organization subsequently called church. We don't find in the Gospels expressions which make reference to the foundation of a new religious community, a new and distinct community of followers of Jesus. But after the resurrection of Jesus, his followers, as a result of his express command, gather together not only those from the people of Israel but men and women of all nations.

The final clauses of the Nicene Creed spell out, briefly and to the point, the church's self-understanding in these early centuries. Angelo Di Berardino assembles a wide range of texts and teachers of the church during these years to enrich our understanding and deepen our faith in the great mysteries expressed here.

The Creed quickly hits the four marks of the church--that it is "one holy catholic and apostolic." What do we mean by professing each of these? Di Berardino helps us to give an answer with the help of the fathers of the church.

The volume closes, as does the Creed, with a consideration of baptism (the traditional entrance for people into the church) and two central features of the church in the future--the expectation that all of God's people will enjoy the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. (publisher's website)

In conversation with ancient and modern Christians, I would assert:
  • Apostolic doctrine is of more importance than the form of apostolic succession (cf. 78ff).
  • Comparing teaching to the teaching of the Word is the most important guarantee of apostolic doctrine (cf. 83).
  • Defining baptism as "immersion" or "ablution" (87) is an incomplete definition given that various washings in Mark and Acts use the same Greek term and do not everywhere and always mean "immersion."
  • Dear Victorinus of Petovium (and his modern readers and followers), don't take "a thousand years are as one day" out of context, please (167). Thank you! 
Readers should note:
  • The importance of the Greek term ekklesia in classical Greek, the Septuagint, the New Testament, and beyond (xix).
  • Augustine on Psalm 138, summarized by the Editor: The Church Was Born from the Cross (33).
  • Pacian of Barcelona on the term "catholic" (75).
  • A helpful section defending Infant Baptism (107ff).
  • A most helpful Conclusion of the Ancient Christian Doctrine Series by General Editor/Series Editor Thomas C. Oden (269ff).

I am impressed by the five volumes of Ancient Christian Doctrine. This set should grace the shelves of every Christian pastor. Consider sharing a set with your pastor (perhaps as a congregational gift to him) for Christmas.

The whole set of five volumes is available for $200 from the publisher. While price remains a concern to us with our readers in mind, other vendors sell individual volumes for less. Still, if you would like to bless a publisher for good materials and encourage them to do more Ancient Christian resources, purchasing them direct may be a good idea!




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.

Liturgy Review: Advent and Christmas


Gilmore, Rachel. 'Tis the Season: Church Celebrations for Advent and Christmas. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2011. 110 Pages. Paper. $14.99. www.judsonpress.com (L)


Rachel Gilmore is back for another resource book for churches. We reviewed here previous release favorably (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2009/12/noted-review.html).

'Tis includes church celebrations intended as worship services (Part 1), multigenerational celebrations (Part 2), and celebrations that could be adapted for different circumstances (Part 3). Reproducible Resources and Handouts are provided in the Appendix and online (http://www.judsonpress.com/free_download_book_excerpts.cfm).
I would not personally be comfortable using the "services" as outlined in the resource guide. Nor, must I say, would my congregation. Perhaps this is an example of the cultural and practical differences between Lutheran and Baptist Christians. Perhaps it is more than that.

American Baptist Churches USA do ordain women (xii). The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod refuses to do so on the basis of the New Testament. This author appears to have a high regard for Scripture. Thanks be to God! However, the Gospel does not predominate in the content of the services (12, 20). The Gospel is shared, and often is the last word, but it does not have place as the primary message. In a service of hope, we are directed to our own prayers rather than to Christ as our first stop and resting place. The Interactive Service (13ff) has much in common in structure with an Anglican service of Lessons and Carols, but the inclusion of "We Three Kings," while popular and well-known, shows a toleration for things added to Scripture. (The Wise men were not kings, were not from the orient, and were not necessarily three in number.) Call me picky if you will, but if I'm worshiping in Spirit and in truth, there is no room for error.

Parts 2 and 3 may be more useful for liturgical Lutheran congregations that want some creative options for members of the congregation to be occupied in between an Advent supper and Vespers or Evening Prayer. Various options in the text present "stations" for groups to visit, not unlike a VBS experience with multi-age groups. This time, include parents and grandparents!

I commend the author's inclusion of Townend's "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" (24), Chapter 10's carol history (43), and the honest fact-checking behind rumors about "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (79). The volume may be worth the purchase simply because of the Biblical symbolism handout for "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (108).

Rachel Gilmore is a creative writer who wants depth of experience for Christians at Christmas and as Christians prepare for Christmas during the season of Advent. She is to be commended for this sourcebook. If she is currently considering one for Lent and Easter, I would recommend more research into historic Christian practices and adapting them for modern use in Baptist and other Christian congregations. 

Not every resource in the book has to be used. Pick one to start. Not every resource in the book has to be used as-is. Modify with the author's blessing to fit your Christian community of faith. Grow in faith and knowledge of Christ this Christmas season!



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.

LHP Review: Doctrine at Prayer and in Life

 

 

 

 

Bell, John L. 101 Things They Never Told Me About Jesus: A Beginner's Guide to a Larger Christ. Chicago: GIA/Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community, 2009. 144 Pages. Paper. $15.00. http://www.giamusic.com/ http://www.iona.org.uk/ (LHP)

 

Lawton, Liam. The Hope Prayer: Words to Nourish the Soul.  Chicago: GIA, 2009. 252 Pages. Cloth. $21.95. http://www.giamusic.com/ (L)

 

Doctrine remains important.

 

Always.

 

And especially in inspirational and devotional literature.

 

Not another book about what we already know, but one about what we overlook.

In Ten Things They Never Told Me about Jesus, John Bell explores facets of the personal life, relationships, and ministry of Jesus, which are seldom the stuff of preaching or conversation, but which are all rooted in the Gospels and are necessary if we are to be freed from the passive stereotypes that still dominate thinking about Christ.
Much of the book is rooted in encounters with people on the periphery of religious life and in situations where politeness was not a prerequisite for discussing faith. (Publisher's website)

My personal comfort level was stretched as a reader of Ten Things. Bell writes to comfort the afflicted, but especially to afflict the comfortable. His orthodoxy is not in question. For me, his clarity is. A case in point is the end of chapter 7. Just when it sounds like he is going off of the deep end (92-92), he clarifies the uniqueness of Christ (93). Still unclear for me is the "salvation status" of those he commends while he maintains that Christ is unique.

 

I love that Bell can ask humbling questions (74ff). I appreciate that he can make us uncomfortable with the uncomfortable humanness of Christ (120ff). I wrestle with the propriety of his Bibliography (137). I would not necessarily endorse any of the titles personally, save one. Bell makes his readers think. That would be a very valuable quality in a guest speaker. He is uneven in such shock-value thought-provoking questions in print. There is more chance for misunderstanding (not unlike sarcasm in email; see 10, 40, 82, 84, 107). There is much in this brief volume that would benefit from fresh eyes and ears that could improve a second edition.

 

In preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord, I commend to your attention a revision of "O Little Town" (35).

Liam Lawton's writing provides a marked contrast to John. L. Bell.

 

Liam Lawton is widely known for his spiritual and inspirational music, which has touched the lives of many thousands of people across the world. In The Hope Prayer, he has created a beautiful book of over forty new prayers-each one expressed in his distinctive and illuminating voice. Including selected song lyrics, this book will take the reader on a comforting journey of the soul, across all kinds of terrain.

Here are prayers of friendship, love, death, healing, illness, calm, inspiration, marriage, Christmas, providence, remembering, working, celebrating life-all brought together through the theme of hope.

The Hope Prayer is a book to be treasured, offering strength, sustenance and wisdom for today's challenging world. (Publisher's website)

Where Bell excels in afflicting the comfortable, Lawton's strength is the gentle and caring way he comforts the afflicted. 

Lutheran readers will kindly disregard Marian references and prayers to saints and angels (128, 162, 176, 206, ). Mysticism and pilgrimage also influence Lawton's prayers and meditations (19, 24, 26, 189ff, 219ff).

 

Lawton's challenge is also one of clarity: specificity. Many prayers have unclear yet assumed references to the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They could sadly be taken out of context. 

 

I focused upon the content of his prayers and meditations in a Christian context. My favorites were

the Prayer of the Musician (54ff), his confession of Christ in the midst of darkness (113, et al), Prayer of Forgiveness (199), and Prayer to Jesus (202).

 

 

GIA continues to present the whole Church with unique, thought-provoking, and comforting resources. I personally would appreciate more that helps me as a Lutheran Christian re-embrace the publisher's original Gregorian Chant content.

 

 

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.


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Resources Received



Schuermann, Katie. Collects by Deaconess Melissa A. DeGroot. He Remembers the Barren. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy 2011. 116 Pages. Paper. $14.95. www.lutheranlegacy.org (LHP)


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Resources Received






Boesenecker, Andy and Jim Graeser. A Field Guide to Contemporary Worship: How to Begin and Lead Band-Based Worship. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2011. 220 Pages. Paper $24.99. www.augsburgfortress.org (LH)

The Expanded Bible. Contributing Scholars: Tremper Longman III, Mark L. Strauss, Daniel Taylor. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011. 1910 Pages. Cloth. $34.99. www.thomasnelsonbibles.com (P)

Spinks, Bryan D. The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to Contemporary Culture. New York: Church Publishing, 2010. 242 Pages. Paper. $28.00. www.churchpublishing.org/worshipmall (LHP)

Musical Settings for Noonday and Compline. New York: Church Publishing, 2002. 31 Pages. Saddle stitched. $30 for 10 copies. www.churchpublishing.org (L)

Glover, Raymond F., Editor. Hymnal 1982 Companion (Four Volumes: Volume One: Essays on Church Music; Volume Two Service Music and Biographies;  Volume Three A: Hymns 1 to 384; Volume Three B: Hymns 385 to 720). New York: Church Publishing, 1990, 1994, and 1994. 764, 749, and 1392 Pages. $210 for the set. www.churchpublishing.org (LH)


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Movie Review: Courageous




Fireproof. Albany, GA: Sherwood Baptist Church, 2011. Movie. Theatrical Screener mp4 stream reviewed. www.courageousthemovie.com (N)


The Trailer:


Imagine a Sheriff's Department populated with familiar actors from Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and other Sherwood Baptist films. Their new film aims to do for fatherhood what Fireproof did for Biblical marriage and faithfulness. "To serve and protect" is a powerful motto for fathers!

Courageous is...
Heart-pounding action, clean humor, life and death, sin and redemption, church-going people, dancing, and a theme song by Casting Crowns.


At the shooting range, two deputies have a deep talk about guilt and judgment:
"I hope my good outweighs my bad."
"That's not how it works."
 Right. Jesus is the Savior. He chose us (John 15:16).

Unfortunately, the word "accept" hints at altar calls (like the final scene and closing Bible verse) and decision theology. The movie makers are Baptists, after all. 

I must object to the incomplete quote of Joshua 24:15.

Consider:
Choose this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”(Joshua 24:15 ESV)
I assert that it is inadequate and misleading. Consider the whole:
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 ESV)
You get a choice
"if it is evil in your eyes
to serve the Lord"
and your choice is between
one set of pagan gods
or another set of pagan gods.
Because it is NOT evil to serve the Lord, Joshua declares,
"But as for me and my house,
we will serve the LORD."
This is not a text to support
our choosing to be saved.
Jesus did it all:
It is finished!

After all, Ephesians 2 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The fatherhood "resolution" presents challenges for a Lutheran to properly distinguish God's Law and God's Gospel in His Word, but could be considered similar to promises made at Confirmation or by a new member of a Christian congregation. I do like the idea of "ceremony"! (A copy of the resolution text was not provided with the screener of the film, but is available for sale here:

The title of the film comes from a pastor's call for the need for courage to live out the resolution. Films like this also lead to sales of associated "ministry" items. I have mixed feelings about that. I wouldn't be surprised if the DVD was available in time for Father's Day. 

And I'll buy a copy, but I recommend http://www.cph.org/p-18454-courageous-fathers-of-the-bible.aspx as a ministry resource instead. And I'll wrap-up any showing of the film before the very end.

Courageous succeeds because it has a purpose and a plot. Good family films (and good films, period) don't need large budgets and lots of special effects. I'll be watching for more from these filmmakers. I would recommend films on Biblical faithfulness, godly citizenship, and how God delivers His gifts on Sunday morning as the primary reason Christians go to 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.