Friday, December 14, 2012

Liturgy and Pulpit Review: New Study Bibles

ESV Daily Reading Bible (Through the Bible in 365 Days based on the popular M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan). Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 1405 Pages. Cloth with jacket and ribbon. $29.99. (LHP)

Little Rock Scripture Study. Little Rock Catholic Study Bible. Little Rock, AR/Collegeville, MN: Little Rock Scripture Study, a ministry of the Diocese of Little Rock, in partnership with Liturgical Press, 2011. 2632 Pages (plus maps). Cloth with dust cover. $49.95. (LP)

ESV Global Study Bible. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 1984 Pages. Cloth with dustcover. (Other bindings available.) $29.99.  (P)

At long last, this is our very first "Liturgy and Pulpit" Review! 

We've had Liturgy reviews, Hymnody reviews, Pulpit reviews, Liturgy and Hymnody reviews, and plenty of LHP reviews, and maybe even one Hymnody and Pulpit review, but this is our first L and P!  

After doing this for 6+ years, it is nice so have something fresh.

Three Bibles intended for more intense study are before us.

The ESV Daily Reading Bible portions the Bible text into 365 daily readings. It follows the M’Cheyne reading plan, which was originally developed by the 19th century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne and is still widely used today. Each day in the Daily Reading Bible displays chapters from various books of the Bible, allowing readers to easily work through the assigned passages. Over the course of a year, users will read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and the Psalms twice. Convenient and easy-to-follow, the Daily Reading Bible helps readers encounter the entirety of God’s Word on a daily basis. (publisher's website)
The ESV is the main English text I use. In the course of my work week, I regularly consult the original Greek and Hebrew (less so the Aramaic portions), and Latin. Often, I need to consult the German and other English translations. I've been wanting a "one year" style ESV Bible to supplement my regular chapel, Sunday, and devotional life. I now have that with the ESV Daily Reading Bible.

According to the Publisher's Preface (vii), "Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843) was a Scottish pastor who, despite his short life, had a profound impact on the spiritual state of Scotland through his preaching and personal holiness. He is probably best known, however, for his Bible reading calendar that has become widely used throughout the world."

Can you read five pages a day? Reading the Bible in a year is an achievable goal. The ESV Daily Reading Bible can help make 2013 your year to make that happen (or happen again). 

We now turn to a Study Bible by and for Roman Catholic Christians.

Open the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible and feel at home with the Word of God. Through accessibly written information and engaging visuals that highlight and clarify significant areas of Scripture, readers will easily gain an understanding of these ancient texts that can be carried into today’s world. Using the authorized translation in the New American Bible Revised Edition, this lasting volume is ideal for both personal use and group Bible study.

The valuable information in the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible is offered in small notes and inserts that accompany the Bible texts as well as in expanded essays, articles, and graphics. Key symbols help readers quickly identify the type of information they need, such as explanations, definitions, dates, character and author profiles, archaeological insights, personal prayer starters, and insights connecting Scripture and its use in today’s church. Colorful maps, timelines, photographs, and charts further enhance the study experience. Longer articles are dedicated to explaining study Bible fundamentals, the Catholic Church’s use of the Bible, and the people and places of the biblical world.

General Editor: Catherine Upchurch serves as the director of Little Rock Scripture Study. Her work in adult faith formation involves writing, editing, lecturing, leading retreats and days of reflection. She is the editor of A Year of Sundays and an associate editor of The Bible Today, a journal of biblical spirituality.

Old Testament Editor: Irene Nowell, OSB, is a Benedictine of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. She is an adjunct professor at St. John's University School of Theology, has published two books and numerous articles, and is a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association. She is also a member of the Committee on Illuminations and Texts for The Saint John’s Bible.

New Testament Editor: Ronald D. Witherup, SS, is Superior General of the Sulpicians and lives in Paris, France. He holds a doctorate in biblical studies and is the author of numerous books and articles on Scripture. His current interest is in the letters of Saint Paul and the Acts of the Apostles.
My paternal grandmother was raised Roman Catholic, as was my grandfather. (My maternal grandparents were, too, but that's a story for another day.) My grandpa Cain passed away before my parents met. He and Grandma Cain were charter members of St. John's Lutheran Church (LCMS) in my home town. I'm the first from that congregation to enter the ministry. Grandma's bookshelf was part of what influenced me in that direction. I inherited many of her books and Bibles, including what passed for Roman Catholic study Bibles back in the day, but none were quite like this.

The overal size, format, symbols, coloring, font size and arrangment are pleasing. This volume will encourage many to dig deeper in the inspired Scriptures

I must admit disappointment with this Study Bible in two regards.

Unfortunately, the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible editors embrace and promote JEDP (inside front cover, passim). Yes, I am calling the orthodoxy of the faith confessed in this volume into question. Did Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy actually happen? JEDP says, "No." Did Moses actually compose/edit them as is self-evident from the narrative of the Penteteuch? JEDP says, "No." That is not acceptable! Roman Catholics are more "progressive" in some circles (e.g., "social justice") than in others. Why bother with Bible study if we're not studying something that is true, or something that is only doubtfully God's Word from the JEDP perspective?

My main reason for requesting a review copy of the LRCSB was their own promotional material that implied that the liturgy would be explained within the study Bible. It is (26-32, 2599-2608, e.g., 273, 1151, 2116),  but not nearly to the extent is could be or should be in a study Bible for liturgical Christians. 

For those two reasons, I cannot recommend LRCSB beyond use as a tertiary reference book.

Here's what I have in mind: A study Bible that goes beyond merely telling you what the Sunday/Festival readings are, one that is a reverse reference chart of sorts, where readers read a passage and find a note telling him/her what Sunday/Festival that portion of Holy Scripture  is read.

Readers will note brief articles from a Roman perspective noting the difference in Psalm numbering (1010), Peter's Confession and "Primacy" (2020, 2053) but nothing about his Mother-in-Law (2125) other than the text of Luke 4, and Justification (Romans 4, 2302), Martin Luther, and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, rejected by my church body, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

We close with another English Standard Version study Bible by Crossway.

Global Study Bible Product Overview from Crossway on Vimeo.

The ESV Global Study Bible is a one-volume study resource for globally minded Christians everywhere. It has been designed from beginning to end to be highly accessible and value priced for distribution on a
global scale.

The Global Study Bible features a fresh design, with a wide range of new features. Each book begins with an introduction, followed by a unique, insightful description of the global message of the book. Likewise, a set of new articles by global Christian leaders apply the Bible to global issues, such as the role of government, the nature of the church, world religions, social ethics, and missions and evangelism.

The Global Study Bible's notes and maps were adapted from the best-selling ESV Study Bible and contain a wealth of information about the biblical text, history, and geography. With overviews of each Bible book, special facts, and character profiles, the Global Study Bible is a remarkable resource for Christians everywhere who seek to know and understand the truth of the Bible and its global meaning.

The Online Global Study Bible (digital retail price $14.99) is available free with your purchase of a print edition.
When you register online for your free access, you will also make a second copy available free to another global Christian, wherever the demand is greatest, anywhere in the world. (
In my opinion, Global Study Bible is most similar to Crossway's ESV Student Study Bible, also adapted from the ESV Study Bible, though slightly thicker, shorter, and less wide in presentation. QBR reviewed the Student version ( and the original ( 

Some content was selected from the ESV Study Bible and was re-edited for this specific edition (1980-1983). The Foreword states, "Building on the 768,000 words of the ESV Bible Text, the Global Study Bible provides notes, articles, and other study material comprising an additional 759,000 words of explanation and teaching" (7).

Crossway embarked on an ambitious project with their Global Study Bible, one that is also generous, providing a free digital copy for another English speaker/reader worldwide with each purchase. My copy was printed in China.

Authors contributing articles on the Global Church are noted on pages 9-10 and 1979-1980. Articles address Christianity and world religions, basic Bible content, and the global historical nature of our faith in Christ. Much of the new volume-specific content is found in the back, pages 1859-1908. 

Articles for the Global Church are:
  • God's Global Plan of Salvation
  • The Importance of the Global Church
  • How to Read and Understand the Bible
  • How to Apply the Bible in Daily Life
  • The Reliability and Authority of the Bible
  • The Great Truths of the Bible
  • Mission and Evangelism
  • Major World Religions
  • Biblical Ethics: An Introduction
  • The Value and Dignity of Human Life
  • Marriage and Sexual Morality
  • The Purpose and Role of Government
  • Social Ethics
  • Personal Ethics

With so many English Bible translations and study Bibles around, my favorite study Bibles have Lutheran notes or just present the Bible text in a fad-free, honest literal translation. My comments on study Bibles and Bible translations will hopefully save you time, money, and frustration and may well introduce you to a helpful reference for your and your family.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

LHP Review: Vocation

Kraft, Dave. Mistakes Leaders Make. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 121 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (LHP)

Baucham, Voddie, Jr. Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011. 192 Pages. Paper. $15.99. (LHP)

Veith, Gene Edward and Mary J. Moerbe. Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting and Childhood. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 253 Pages. Paper. $15.99. (LHP)
Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Hymns for the Christian Life. Nashville: GettyMusic, 2012. Audio CD. $13.99. (mp3 download available for $9.99) (LH)

Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Hymns for the Christian Life (Songbook). Nashville: GettyMusic, 2012. 36 Pages. Paper. $11.99. (downloadable version available for $9.99) (LH)

What are your God-given roles in this life? 

I am a baptized child of God, a son, a brother, a husband, pastor, headmaster, book reviewer, writer, musician, and a taxpayer, just to name a few.

The resources highlighted below focus on various vocations of the Christian life.

You Don't Have to Learn This the Hard Way…
Anyone involved in leadership knows that it's tough and mistakes are bound to happen. But some mistakes are more costly than others and can result in the end of effectiveness, the loss of important relationships, and disqualification from ministry.
Using the story of a fictitious church team to demonstrate the problems, principles, and practice of finding solutions, leadership expert Dave Kraft uncovers the top 10 critical mistakes leaders make and shows you how to avoid them so you can have ministry and relationships that last.

Dave Kraft served with the Navigators for thirty-eight years before becoming a pastor at Mars Hill Church in 2005. Currently Kraft is one of the pastors at Mars Hill Orange County where he coaches the next generation of leaders. He is also a life and leadership coach with Ministry Coaching International (MCI). Kraft's first book, Leaders Who Last, was published in 2010. He and his Wife Susan have been married for 43 years and have four adult children and seven grandchildren. (publisher's website)
A follo-up to the author's Leaders Who Last, Dave Kraft examines the other side of the coin this time, how leaders can mess up and how not to.

Kraft's ten chapters focus on ten things that could and often do replace Jesus, faith, and proper priorities of Christian leaders under Scripture. The author deals with the inherent sin and idolatry behind each of the false substitutes. This book was worth my time and was a quick read.

Crossway also sent us the next two books for your consideration.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the family, and that of fathers in particular. We’ve heard it said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.” But it can also be said that “as the father goes, so goes the family.” Consequently, Voddie Baucham has set out to teach men how to faithfully shepherd their families.
Derived from Baucham’s monthly meetings with men in his church, Family Shepherds calls men to accountability for their God-given responsibilities in their homes. Baucham’s clear style and practical approach will spur men to protect their marriage, raise kingdom-minded children, value the synergy between church and home, and navigate difficult family dynamics.
Family Shepherds is a book for any husband or father looking to lead well, and it will serve as an excellent resource for churches looking to equip the men in their congregations. (publisher's website)
I was more uneasy with this book than the one by Kraft and the next one by Veith. I appreciated the focus on men exercising servant leadership in the home, at church, and at work, but I had some basic points of tention other Lutherans readers will likely have. 

Bring up discipleship, and Lutherans will quote from Matthew 28.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)
A better, Biblical answer to "How do you make a Christian disciple?" (27) would be "by means of baptizing and by means of teaching."

The author's point about "Decisionism" may have been better made by quoting Joshua 24 in context:

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 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 24:14-15 ESV)
Or, by making reference to Jesus in John 15:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)
I commend the author and publisher for giving such intentional and positive focus on Christian men.
Voddie Baucham Jr. is the preaching pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Author of Family Driven Faith and The Ever-Loving Truth, Baucham is also a sought-after preacher and conference speaker. He and his wife, Bridget, live in Texas with their seven children. (publisher's website)

I give my highest recommendation to  Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood.

Gene Edward Veith Jr. (PhD, University of Oklahoma) is provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College and the director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary. He is also a columnist for World magazine and TableTalk, and the author of several noted books on Christianity and culture, including God at Work. Mary J Moerbe (MA, Concordia Theological Seminary) is a professional deaconess in The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, serving as diaconal writer for the Cranach Institute (publisher's website and book back cover).

What does it mean to be called as a husband, a wife, a parent, a child?
How does the grace of the gospel impact how we carry out these particular callings?
How does God’s presence address the struggles that our own family faces?
Gene Veith joins forces with his daughter Mary Moerbe to explore these kinds of questions in light of Christian vocation and its applications for family life. They show how the Christian faith is lived out precisely in our ordinary relationships, and how a biblical understanding can equip us to move away from common confusions and dysfunctions to persevere in love.
Written with sensitivity and wisdom, Family Vocation addresses the perennial problems and joys of family life and provides a compelling paradigm for creating loving families in the face of cultural pressure. (publisher's website)
Tactfully challenging feminism and patriarchy (82), the unfortunate myth of "the one" (41), and encouraging and equipping heads of household to pass on the faith (122, 152) and not passing on their God-given responsibilities (128), Veith and daughter Moerbe clearly teach the Christian Bible doctrine of vocation (11ff, 19-20, 39, passim) for a new day and a larger Christian audience. 

Family Vocation grew out of a 2006 conference and will serve as a timely and timeless resource for Christians of every tradition and background, married or single, childless or "abundantly blessed". 

I will use it in premarital counseling sessions (e.g., 15ff), pastoral care, and a gift to anyone concerned about restoring the family. This is a book that is well worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach. Read it and reread it and buy a copy for someone you care about.

QBR has happily reviewed previous albums and songbooks by Keith and Kristyn Getty (and their friend and collaborator, Stuart Townend). Their latest collection is a soundtrack of Christian vocation.

Gettymusic provided us a copy of their new CD and expanded songbook for review. They write:

As we continue to write modern hymns for the church, this collection comes from the challenge to consider not just what we sing on those occasions when we’re all together but how the shared lyrics of our faith speak into all the moments in between. Musically, “Hymns for the Christian Life” reflects both the Celtic and American folk traditions, old and new world brought together, just as we lean on the rich legacy of Church music we already have with songs written for the life of the Church today.

-Produced by Charlie Peacock and Ed Cash
-Featuring acclaimed artists Ricky Skaggs (Simple Living), Moya Brennan (A Mother's Prayer) and Alison Krauss (on a special duet recording of 'In Christ Alone') 
(Getty website)
The album has the following twelve tracks:

  1. Christ He is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed   
  2. Oh, How Good It Is  
  3. A Mothers Prayer   
  4. Simple Living (A Rich Young Man)    
  5. Before You I Kneel (A Workers Prayer)    
  6. The Village Reel   
  7. The Perfect Wisdom of Our God  
  8. Kyrie Eleison  
  9. My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness  
  10. In Christ Alone  
  11. Nothing But the Blood  
  12. Holy Spirit (with Gabriels Oboe)

A deluxe audio edition (and this songbook) also has three additional hymns/songs:
  • Shout for Joy (The New Hundredth)
  • Gethsemane
  • Echoes of Heaven (Wedding Song)
The first track, "Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed," is based on the traditional Christian Easter greeting and response, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" "He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!" We are considering asking our adult choir to sing it this Easter. 

The second track is a modern hymn treatment of Psalm 133 that comforting, encouraging, edifying, and singable. 

Mothers will appreciate track 3, including the Irish Lullaby sung in the original (with English translation in the songbook). 

Track four's lively tune will give you pause to reconsider the accounts of the rich young ruler and the widow and her mite. LWML groups may find it of interest. 

Track five sings vocation from its first phrase to its last, incorporating melodic lines of J. S. Bach's treatment of WACHET AUF. 

The sixth track is instrumental fun!

I have loved track seven, "The Perfect Wisdom of Our God," since I first heard it sung by co-author Stuart Townend. An unique melody and rhythm in 3/4 give heft to an already pensive, humble, trusting text. 

Track 8, a modern Kyrie, is growing on me, yet I still wrestle with the wording of the four stanzas. 

I personally sang "My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness," track 9, as a solo at two Thanksgiving services (after our scheduled soloist lost her voice). The joyous, uplifing melody line only adds to the hope and faithful confidence of the hymn text.

"In Christ Alone," track 10, is the first Getty-Townend hymn I learned and taught to others. Alison Krauss lends her voice to a duet with Kristyn. 

As readers of QBR know, we've been following the "retuned" hymns phenomenon over the last couple of years. No hymn seems to be as popular with modern revivers of old hymn texts (and less commonly, tunes) than "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus," track 11. For Lutheran Christians, context is important. I like thinking of "Nothing But the Blood" as a Eucharistic hymn!

The final CD track, "Holy Spirit," deserves a note of its own. The first phrases say, "Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breath new life into my willing soul;" The part "willing soul" leaves too much room for confusion with regard to conversion and the false teaching of "decision theology," so I propose "sinful soul" as an alternative, more in line with Psalm 51 anyway.

I am encouraged by the solid and fresh texts and tunes that have been written for the church by Keith and Kristyn and their friends. Personally, I'd love to hear what they could bring to treatments of Mark 10:47, Luke 2:14, Revelation 5, John 6:68, Psalm 51 (especially verses 10-12), Psalm 116, Isaiah 6:3 and Matthew 21:9, John 1:29, and Luke 2:29-32. There are certainly a lot of parables that have not yet been memorably rendered in Christian hymnody.

The Gettys were recently evening inspirational entertainment for the 2012 Lutheran Church (LCMS) Extension Fund conference.

I commend all of the above resources, designed to help equip those whom God has called, to be faithful in their callings. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), 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: Illuminating Bible Art

Sink, Susan. The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Pentateuch, Psalms, Gospels, and Acts. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2007. 126 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

Sink, Susan. The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Wisdom Books and Prophets. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008. 112 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

Sink, Susan. The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Historical Books, Letters and Revelation. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2021. 138 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

(All three volumes are available as a set.)

I am blessed two own the complete set of The Saint John's Bible. We at LHP QBR have devoted time to each of the volumes as they have been released to the public.

The idea of a modern hand-written illuminated Bible still staggers my mind. Consider the detail put into this tiny portion of a page:

And then there is all of the major and incidental art!

Highlighting and explaining the art of The Saint John's Bible is the purpose of her trilogy of reader's guides.
The Art of The Saint John’s Bible: A Reader’s Guide brings text and illumination together for reflection. This guide opens up the significance of elements in the illuminations, points out recurring visual motifs that connect the stories within and across the volumes, and offers insight into the thought processes and artistic vision behind the planning and execution of the images. (Publisher's website)
The red volume highlights the Penteteuch, Psalms, and Gospels and Acts. Green focuses on Wisdom Books and Prophets. Blue guides you through Historical Books and Letters and Revelation.

As an illuminated Bible produced for a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastic community and College, readers will not be surprised to hear of the theological preferences, practices, and emphases of that community, including references to Islam alongside Judaism and Christianity (red, 23, 51), liturgy as "work of the people", (red, 37), "legend" as a Bible genre (gree, 7), feminine references to God (green, 10, 48), and emphasis on "experience" (green, 44), and the "harrowing of hell" (green, 100).

As a Lutheran, I appreciated the inclusion of the Apocrypha (translated and included by Martin Luther in His German Bible and considered worthy to read, but separated from the inspired Scriptures), but not the NRSV Bible translation. For me, that will remain the long-term "flaw" of  TSJB.

Not all of our review journal's readers can afford a $400 coffee table Bible set. 

As individual volumes or a $29.95 set, I believe nearly all of our readers could afford and would benefit from these detailed explanations of the Biblical import and artistic intention behind every piece of art in all seven volumes, not to mention the exceptionally creative ways that "missing lines" of Bible text were included on their proper pages.

For even more information, visit

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

Noted Review: Bond's Covenanter Historical Fiction Trilogies

Bond, Douglas. Crown and Covenant Series (Duncan's War, King's Arrow, Rebel's Keep). Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2002, 2003, 2004. Pages. 278, 316, 276 Paper. $29.99. (N)

Bond, Douglas. Faith and Freedom Trilogy (Guns of Thunder, Guns of the Lion, Guns of Providence). Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2007, 2008, 2010. 262, 260, 244 Pages. Paper. $32.99. (also available separately) (N)

We've reviewed most of Douglas Bond's books over the course of LHP Quarterly Book Review. Bond is a Calvinist. In these two trilogies, he shows covenanter history from Scotland to the infant United States of America.
Duncan and Angus, brothers in a Covenanter family in seventeenth-century Scotland, come of age in the midst of physical and spiritual battles. 3 vols.

Young Duncan M'Kethe finds himself caught in the web of Sir James Turner, the former Covenanter turned military leader of the persecutors. Duncan is torn by his hatred of Turner's Dragoons, who have treated his friends cruelly, and his father's instructions to love them. He must be true to Jesus Christ while attempting to rescue his father from enemy hands.

Angus, Duncan's younger brother, comes of age, physically and spiritually, as Scottish Covenanters face Highlanders at Drumclog. Covenanters wrestle with Christ's command to love their enemies.

Rebel’s Keep concludes the Crown & Covenant series with a new, high-intensity adventure. Set in 17th century Scotland, in the midst of the brutal persecutions of King Charles II of England, Rebel’s Keep follows the history after Duncan’s War and King’s Arrow, the first two books in the series, and picks up the historical thread just before the devastating defeat of the Covenanters at Bothwell Brig, 1679. Thereafter the story follows the fortunes of the fictional M’Kethe family, from the point of view of the two younger boys, Angus and Malcolm.

(publisher's website)
This is fun reading for boys of all ages, including Classical Lutheran school Headmasters.

Adult readers will wrestle with the Church/State implications of the series and will gain new insights into the history of Presbyterianism. Lutheran readers will feel at home at times with these brothers and sisters in Christ, yet at other times uneasy when liturgy and the institutional church are criticized.

Personally, I appreciated both the skill at arms of the main characters and how it was integrated into their faith, fed by the Scriptures in their own language and the sung metrical Psalter.

Generations later, the story resumes in America in the second trilogy.

The M’Kethe clan finds itself in pre-Revolutionary War Connecticut weathering a storm of religious and political upheaval. Ian M’Kethe is forced to make a choice against enormous odds in the face of rising conflict between the Colonists and the French with their Indian allies. Ian makes an unlikely friendship with Watookoog, an Indian, and risks everything but gains something he thought he had lost forever. 

A knife-edge adventure in the Highlands, in Guns of the Lion Gavin Crookshank finds himself an unwilling conscript of King George II military service. It is the story of a maturing faith emerging out of conflicted loyalties in battles, within and without, wherein the protagonist is forced to kill or be killed in bloody conflict during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 in Scotland. Uncertain who is friend and who is foe, Gavin must learn courage and duty, and how to pitch his hopes on the God alone who makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth.
The final installment of the Faith & Freedom trilogy—35 fast-paced chapters on characters embroiled in the developing war of independence with the British.

“She’ll blow any minute! All hands, abandon ship!”

The American Revolution ignites a fire that rallies patriots to fight! Sandy M'Kethe, along with freeman Salem Poor, find themselves enlisted together in George Washington's army. An expert marksman with the longbow, Sandy's skill attracts the attention of the intrepid sea captain John Paul Jones. Sandy and Salem are bound for high-seas adventures. Together, can they navigate the guns of Providence? (publisher's website)

During the Revolutionary War, also sometimes called the Presbyterian Parsons' War in England, most Lutherans remained neutral, notable among them being Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. The 1783 Treaty of Paris seemed to assuage their theological and practical concerns about the rebellion and birth of a new nation.

This second trilogy is fascinating not only because of the same family's involvement as in the first trilogy, but because of the crossovers the characters have with real-life historical figures and events and the "slice of life" moments involving weapons, tactics, the theological implications of "spying", and new technology like eyeglasses. The Psalter has also been supplemented with godly and faithful New Testament hymns of faith in Christ.

Guns of the Lion takes the action back to the Old World, yet Bond ties together all three volumes of this trilogy with purpose.

This is a series a teacher could read to her classroom, especially if she has mostly boys like our two-room school does. Or, a (grand)father and son(s) could bond while reading Douglas Bond together.

I pray that the example of Douglas Bond may be imitated by Lutherans with similar vocations to bring the adventure stories of Lutheranism to print!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), 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: Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Ecumenical, Academic, and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932 (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Volume 11). Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012. 612 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. (LHP)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer remains a favorite of many Christians, theologians, and pastors around the world, hence Dietric Bonhoeffer Works in the original German and now in English translation.  

Personally, I appreciate his work and writing in context. Discipleship is of great value to me. Pastorally, it is of great value to me. I disagree with him vehemently with regard of his rejection of musical harmony (Life Together). 

Our most recent review of other volumes in this series ( is an attempt an an explanation of how Bonhoeffer's progressive Christian fans have misunderstood what he wrote about "religionless Christianity" for their own purposes and agendas. That review focused on his late work.

Volume 11 delves into much earlier work, after he returns from New York.
Volume 11 in the sixteen-volume Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, Ecumenical, Academic, and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932, provides a comprehensive translation of Bonhoeffer’s important writings from 1931 to 1932, with extensive commentary about their historical context and theological significance. This volume covers the significant period of Bonhoeffer's entry into the international ecumenical world and the final months before the beginning of the National Socialist dictatorship. It begins with Bonhoeffer's return to Berlin in June 1931 after his year of study in the United States. In the crucial period that followed, Bonhoeffer continued his preparations for the ministry, began teaching at Berlin University, and became active at international ecumenical meetings. His letters and lectures, however, also document the economic and political turbulence on the European and world stage, and Bonhoeffer directly addresses the growing threat of the Nazi movement and what it portends not only for Germany, but for the world. Several of the documents in this volume, particularly the student notes of his university lecture on "The Nature of the Church" and his lectures on Christian ethics, give important insights into his theology at this point. His ecumenical lectures and reports are significant documents for understanding the ecumenical debates of this period.  (publisher's website)
Is there value in this volume for the typical Lutheran parish pastor? Yes, though it is of a more limited value. In 2/3, "The History of Twentieth Century Systematic Theology," the reader gets to see Bonhoeffer's notes as he traced the further development of progressive theology, a theology so "progressive" it thought (and still thinks) it has moved beyond the Bible and Christ. Harnack (203) criticizes Luther for writing too much about Christ!

Readers will be reminded that the church body Bonhoeffer served in was a union church (227) that unfortunately served as a model for much of LWF post-WWII-Lutheranism. I was more than uncomfortable with the idea of drafting a new catechism (258), dangerous because of its compromises with the fads and culture of its own time and place, rather than the timeless teaching of Christ.

Reading each new volume of Dietrict Bonhoeffer Works is of theological exercise for the reader. Lutherans of my church body will be challenged to exercise their muscles in historical theology, exegetical theology, systematic theology, pastoral practice and homiletics. I'm not sure that the average LCMS pastor will be willing to pay $60.00 for the workout.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Received for Review

Walther, C. F. W. Translated by Matthew Carver. Walther's Hymnal: Church Hymnbook for Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. 440 Pages. Paper. $39.99. (LH)

Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Richard J. Dinda. Edited with Annotations by Benjamin T. G. Mayes. On the Church (Theological Commonplaces: XXV). St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 870 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. (LHP)

Luther, Martin. Translated by Matthew C. Harrison. A Simple Way to Pray (for Peter, the Master Barber). St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. 32 Pages. Paper. $1.99. (Bulk discounts available) (LHP)

Fisk, Jonathan. Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible. St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. 278 Pages. Paper. $16.99, now on sale for $12.99. (LHP)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Noted Review: Lutheran Fiction

Kornacki, Alan, Jr. Love Divine (Thy Strong Word Book 1). Amazon Digital Services, 2012. 169 Pages. (4358 Locations) Kindle e-book. $3.99. (LHPN)

Kornacki, Alan, Jr. A Great and Mighty Wonder (Thy Strong Word Book 2). Amazon Digital Services, 2012. 201 Pages. (3985 Locations) Kindle e-book. $4.99. (LHPN)

Kornacki, Alan, Jr. One Thing's Needful (Thy Strong Word Book 3). Amazon Digital Services, 2012. 174 Pages. Kindle e-book. $4.99.

Keating, Ray. Warrior Monk (A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel) Revised Edition. Manorville, NY: Keating Reports, 2010. 442 Pages. Paper. $17.99. (N) 

Keating, Ray. Root of All Evil? (A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel). Manorville, NY: Keating Reports, 2012. 305 Pages. Paper. $16.99. (N)  

Keating, Ray. An Advent for Religious Liberty. Manorville, NY: Keating Reports, LLC, 2012. 158 Pages. Paper. $12.99. (LHPN)

I spent February 2012 curled up with books by Wyoming authors. 

One series followed the exploits of a fictional Wyoming county Sheriff now featured in his own murder mystery series on A&E. 

The other series chronicles the adventures of a Wyoming Game & Fish Warden. I very much enjoyed the adventure. The salty language--not so much. 

I kept wondering, "When will I hear about the adventures and exploits of a Wyoming LCMS pastor in good fiction?"

Allow me to introduce you to New York LCMS pastors Justin Corwin and Stephen Grant. 

No, they're not Wyoming LCMS pastors, (and readers of QBR have already met Pastor Grant,) but either or both would be welcome to visit Wyoming anytime.

Romance and Lutheran apologetics come together as Justin Corwin, the pastor of St. Michael Lutheran Church in Carousel, New York, and Chaplain of the Carousel Fire Department, runs into Bethanne McCarthy, a detective in the Carousel Police Department--or rather, she runs into him. Justin is single and content with his life the way it is; Beth was widowed over two years ago, and she has finally found joy in life again. Neither has any intention of falling in love. As they get to know each other better, however, they begin to realize that the plans of men are nothing next to what God has set apart for them. How will their relationship affect their various vocations? How will he handle the danger of her profession? How will she overcome the guilt she feels for moving on with her life after the death of her husband? (Amazon)
Love Divine gets readers started in the daily life and adventures of of a typical LCMS pastor doing Word and Sacrament ministry in a typical congregation of our church body. 

Names and situations have been changed to protect the innocent (and/or guilty). Situations are all too real. Life in a parsonage is rarely boring. 

Pastor Corwin has been a single pastor. 

(Spoiler Alert)

He won't be for long, especially if you read the blurb for A Great and Mighty Wonder...

Romance and Lutheran apologetics come together as Pastor Justin Corwin and his wife, Detective Bethanne Harrigan McCarthy Corwin of the Carousel Police Department, return from their honeymoon to a hefty dose of reality. Justin's predecessor at St. Michael Lutheran Church is stirring up trouble, while the teen who stabbed Beth is on trial for his crime. A tragedy in the St. Michael congregation raises a ghost from Beth's past, one which will change their family forever. (Amazon)
I recommend this series for adults and mature high school students, especially those that are well-catechized and considering a future in church work. 

LCMS pastors will appreciate fiction that honors what they do day in and day out. Perhaps some will see themselves and their practices in the other characters in the book and may learn how their actions and inactions impact sister congregations and brother pastors.

Laity will get a peek inside the so-called glass house of a parsonage. I pray this trilogy will help congregation members appreciate and pray for their pastors. 

Justin Corwin, Pastor of St. Michael Lutheran Church, and his wife, Detective Beth Corwin of the Carousel Police Department, are in the midst of tribulation. Beth's body has betrayed her, making an unwanted surgery a necessity. Justin is dealing with uncertainty at St. Michael and in his work as Chaplain of the Carousel Fire Department. Living their God-given vocations is proving to be more difficult than they had hoped. Will it take a change of scenery to once again find the joy in the Lord which seems so hard to obtain? (Amazon)
Few understand how agonizing a Call process is other than the pastors who consider a Call, the pastors who guide congregations in vacancy, and caring congregations that suffer through an extended vacancy. God's Word is strong enough to sustain all. One Thing's Needful!

I could personally identify with Pr. Corwin and St. Michael as our congregation is in need of additional pastoral care for the sake of the Gospel as well as the financial support to care for an additional servant of the Word.

I rejoiced to read a series by a pastor who understood his vocations in Christ and could show real Lutheran pastoral care in fiction. Readers will see theology in practice: Scripture, Catechism and hymnal; Baptism, Confirmation, Wedding, and Funeral; the Call Process, District "politics," a predecessor in office, controversy at a Voters' Meeting, and an Installation.

If you are looking for a quick and encouraging read, consider Alan Kornacki's Thy Strong Word trilogy.

Let me (re)introduce you to the Rev. Stephen Grant: 
Stephen Grant is the pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on eastern Long Island. Grant is one of the more unique second-career clergy around, as he once worked for the CIA. Besides theology, his interests include archery, golf, writing, classic films, the beach, poker, baseball, and history. Grant also knows his wines, champagnes and brews. Oh yes, he generally dislikes politicians, and happens to be an expert marksman with a handgun and a rifle, while being pretty handy with a combat knife as well. (author's website)

WARRIOR MONK revolves around a former CIA assassin, Stephen Grant, who has lived a far different, relatively quiet life as a parish pastor in recent years. However, a shooting at his church, an historic papal proposal, and threats to the Pope's life mean that Grant's former and current lives collide. Grant must tap the varied skills learned as a government agent, a theologian and a pastor not only to protect the Pope, but also to feel his way through a minefield of personal challenges. (Amazon)
Our 2010 review of this first Grant novel is found at:

This series is action-oriented, which is not intended to be a critique of the Pastor Corwin trilogy. This series is a more edifying and Christian-oriented spy/adventure series with a similar pace (and sometimes the vocabulary of the bad guys) as books by C. J. Box, Craig Johnson, as well as fans of Jason Bourne, James Bond, and the work of Tom Clancy.

Pastor Grant is back in two new novels.

Do God, politics and money mix? In ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating, the combination can turn out quite deadly. Keating introduced readers to Stephen Grant, a former CIA operative and current parish pastor, in the fun and highly praised WARRIOR MONK: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL. Now, Grant is back in ROOT OF ALL EVIL? It’s a breathtaking thriller involving drug traffickers, politicians, the CIA and FBI, a shadowy foreign regime, the Church, and money. In this page-turner, plots are hatched, lives are lost, accusations are made, friends need and provide help, and relationships change. Money is used and pursued for both good and ill. Charity, envy and greed are on display. Throughout, action runs high. Find a unique character and story, and lose yourself in ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL. Keating said, “Since I wrote WARRIOR MONK, I’ve received surprising feedback from members of the clergy who once were in the intelligence community or know fellow pastors who did such work. It’s been fascinating. In ROOT OF ALL EVIL?, Pastor Grant, his family and friends, and some former co-workers have to deal with the consequences of how money, politics and religion mix, for better or for worse.” (Amazon)
Pastor Grant gets married early in this sequel. And he has to confront a former seminary classmate who has embraced prosperity theology. Meanwhile, Pastor Grant's new wife's adulterous ex-husband has been appointed to the U. S. Senate after the gruesome murder of his predecessor over his position on foreign aid money. 

Both storylines converge in D.C. with Stephen Grant's CIA past. He is called back into service as an expert shot and has ample opportunity to provide pastoral care.

Back at home, a new Assistant Pastor at St. Mary's holds down the fort. The congregation has unique financial challenges of its own. Mrs. Grant comes to the rescue!

A timely topic in the USA is religious liberty. Don't be surprised to see Pastor Stephen Grant on the front lines.

Advent and Christmas approach. It’s supposed to be a special season for Christians. But it’s different this time in New York City. In AN ADVENT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, religious liberty is under assault. The Catholic Church has been called a “hate group.” And it’s the newly elected mayor of New York City who has set off this religious and political firestorm. Some people react with prayer – others with violence and murder. Stephen Grant, former CIA operative turned pastor, faces deadly challenges during what becomes known as “An Advent for Religious Liberty.” Grant works with the Cardinal who leads the Archdiocese of New York, the FBI, current friends, and former CIA colleagues to fight for religious liberty, and against dangers both spiritual and physical. AN ADVENT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL is a thriller torn from today’s headlines. It’s a different, fast-paced, action-packed story of politics and violence trying to undermine faith during the Advent and Christmas season. readers have compared Ray Keating’s thrillers to the works of Clancy, Ludlum, Grisham, and Cussler. Keating’s previous books include WARRIOR MONK: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL and ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL. (Amazon)
Ray Keating has a knack for writing on topics that could be pulled from tomorrow's headlines. 

An atheist mayor-elect of NYC? I could envision that. 

Pastor Grant taking out a terrorist? I could see that.

My favorite part was the NYPD reaction to Pastor Grant's expert use of his tactical knife (88). 
I appreciated how the author also worked in a more appropriate ecumenism, Christian education, and one of my favorite devotionals, For All the Saints.

Should the Atlantic District and the Wyoming District ever have a joint Pastoral Conference, it would be a great joy to meet Pastor Grant and Pastor Corwin. Perhaps we could have some adventures together in Wyoming and/or New York

In the meantime, enjoy both sets of novels, brother LCMS Pastors!

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