Tuesday, March 26, 2013

LHP Review: Gerhard on the Church

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. https://www.cph.org/p-12935-on-the-church-theological-commonplaces.aspx?SearchTerm=gerhard%20church (LHP)

For far too long, the encyclopediac dogmatic masterpiece of Johann Gerhard was not available in English translation. We rejoice to present to you Gerhard's massive volume on the Church.
The doctrine of the church was contentious as Lutherans argued for the scriptural catholicity of their churches, which embraced the Reformation, over against Roman Catholic claims to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church confessed in the creeds. Distinguishing between visibility and invisibility as aspects of the same church, Gerhard discusses whether the church can err and defines the true marks of the church. Yet this volume covers much more than just the doctrine of the church. It deals with mission, miracles, prophecy, the curious case of “Pope Joan,” and the corruptions of the papacy in the centuries leading up to Gerhard’s time.
The Theological Commonplaces series is the first-ever English translation of Johann Gerhard's monumental Loci Theologici. Gerhard was the premier Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century. Combining his profound understanding of evangelical Lutheran theology with a broad interest in ethics and culture, he produced significant works on biblical, doctrinal, pastoral, and devotional theology. Gerhard interacts with the writings of the church fathers, Luther and his contemporaries, and the Catholic and Calvinist theologians of his day. His 17-volume Loci is regarded as the standard compendium of Lutheran orthodoxy, with topics ranging from the proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture to eschatology.
Useful for research on Lutheran doctrine, Gerhard's accessible style makes this a must-have on the bookshelf of pastors and professional church workers.
Each embossed hardback volume includes
•the translation of Gerhard's Loci (originally published from 1610 to 1625)
•a glossary of key theological, rhetorical, and philosophical terms
•a name index
•a Scripture index 
•a carefully researched works cited list that presents guidance for deciphering the numerous abbreviations of the other titles from which Gerhard quotes.
Call 1-800-325-3040 or CLICK HERE and become a subscriber to the series and save 30% off the retail price!

View All Gerhard Titles Click Here
(Publisher's website)
Now more timely than ever, Gerhard's volume On the Church will help Lutherans and Christians better understand the claims of the Roman Office of the Papacy. 

I shared the following with my congregation in our March Newsletter:

There are really only two seasons in Wyoming. Winter and Road Construction. Both are seasons for Caution.

You can tell that “Spring” is here when it snows on your way in to church on Sunday and it has melted by the time we get out of church.

Everybody knows when it is Road Construction Season. We see orange cones, orange signs, and orange vests on workers. And we have to slow down and switch lanes.

Since the Pope announced his resignation, and the Roman church is preparing for a conclave to select a new Pope, I’d like to offer some evangelical words of caution.

The media is excited. Roman Catholics are excited. We, as Lutherans especially, have reason for caution.

In 1537, Lutherans laid out our basic concerns with the Roman Church and the office of the papacy. The document is called the Treatise, short for the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, part of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions and is also available to read for free online (http://bookofconcord.org/treatise.php).

The first four lines read like this:

1] The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2] Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3] And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

4] These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church.

The Treatise is a quick read. It is only 82 paragraphs long. Lutherans should read it any time there is a vacancy in the office of pope. It answers head-on the false Roman claim that Jesus made Peter the first pope in Matthew 16:18.

If you don’t own a copy of the Book of Concord and do not have access to a computer, please contact the office and we can arrange to print a copy of the Treatise for you.

The announcement of the new pope will be made soon, before Palm Sunday, with white smoke, ceremony, an announcement of the new pope’s new name, and a post on Twitter. There will also be the Latin announcement: Habemus Papam! (We have a Pope!) As Christians we rejoice in what we have in common with other Christians from Scripture alone. Our announcement will remain: Habent papa. Habemus Christum! (They have a pope. We have Christ!)

I had recently finished reading this volume of Gerhard's Theological Commonplaces. Can you tell?

  • The Editor's Preface reminds us that "catholic" is really a synonymn of "universal" (xii, cf. 279ff.). 
  • Gerhard shows the theological freight of "Church" flowing through the Old Testament and Septuagint into New Testament Greek (7). 
  • Gerhard proves that "the pure preaching of the Word and the legitimate administration of the Sacraments are th emarks of the church" (241). 
  • He writes of Jesuits (362) in connection with churches in the New World. Gerhard demolishes so-called apostolic succession (372ff), proves papal indulgences to be a novelty (419) while defending justification (passim), gives examples of divisions within "monolithic" Rome (506ff) and sins that flourish in the papacy (535, etc.).
  • Gerhard shares fascinating "prophecies about Luther from the histories" (670ff). 
  • Finally, he provides Chaper XIII, guidance "On the Use of This Commonplace." 

Read together with Gerhard's volumes on the Ministry, On the Church will help the modern Christian respond Biblically to modern and ancient errors in understanding Church and Ministry. 

A new study edition of Walther's book on the topics will be reviewed very soon.

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: Classics Old and New

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. https://www.cph.org/p-21601-walthers-hymnal-church-hymnbook-for-evangelical-lutheran-congregations-of-the-unaltered-augsburg-confession.aspx?SearchTerm=walther%27s%20hymnal (LH)

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) https://www.cph.org/p-21948-a-simple-way-to-pray.aspx?SearchTerm=simple (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.
https://www.cph.org/p-19471-broken-7-christian-rules-that-every-christian-ought-to-break-as-often-as-possible.aspx?SearchTerm=broken (LHP)

Today's three books will stand the test of time. Two have already. The newest confesses timeless truths.

Our first book will be a gift to my barber at my next haircut.

When asked by his barber and good friend, Peter Beskendorf, for some practical guidance on how to prepare oneself for prayer, Martin Luther responded by writing this brief treatise first published in 1535. A Simple Way to Pray is a fresh modern translation bringing us Luther's practical instruction, using Luther's I.T.C.P. method of prayer. This method anchors prayer in the catechism or other biblical texts, but allows the Holy Spirit to prompt thoughts via the Word, which may be chased more freely by the mind at prayer.
Instruction: Lord Christ, You instruct me here that I am to listen carefully and heed the word of my pastor when he speaks Your Word. The pastoral office is profound; my pastor is not only charged to watch over my soul, but You also call him to account for his service to me. Finally, You tell me in this text that I am to be a joy to my pastor and not a pain, and this for my own spiritual benefit.
Thanksgiving: Jesus, I thank You for my pastor. In fact, I thank You for the pastor who baptized me, and all pastors who have served me in my life as a Christian. Thank You for all the sermons that have clearly shown me my sin and delivered to me the free forgiveness of the Gospel because of Your sacrifice for me on the cross.
Confession: Lord, I confess that so often I fail to pray for my pastor. I fail to be gracious to his family. I do not pay attention to his preaching. I have gossiped and failed to love and defend him and “put the best construction on everything.” I deserve to have my faithful pastor taken away. Forgive me my many sins, and help me to do better. Help me especially to be a joy to my pastor and to encourage him in his difficult office.
Prayer: Savior, bless my pastor with faithfulness to Your Word. Cause him to grow in knowledge of Your Word. Give him courage and strength for his tasks. I thank You for (name) and for all faithful pastors. Grant success to the work of our seminaries. Bless our professors and students. And give my pastor joy. I ask all this for Your sake alone. Amen.

Translator, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison is the president of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. 
(Publisher's website)

Luther teaches us to pray the Catechism, setting an example of how to pray the Ten Commandments, The Apostles' Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. I am thankful for such a useful, affordable, and faithful tract/booklet that can help pastors, teachers, and households learn to see and use the Catechism as more than a textbook. 

This would be a great gift for confirmands, graduates, new parents, and new elders. And gentlemen, don't forget to buy a copy for your barber!

Our second book today is available for the first time in English, Kirchen-Gesangbuch fur Evangelish-Lutherische Gemeinden ungeanderter Augsburgischer Confession (1892).

Walther's Hymnal: Church Hymnbook is the first of its kind: an English translation of the first official hymnal of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. This was the hymnal that C.F.W. Walther edited and used, and that provided Christians throughout the LCMS a common experience during the Church's early years in America, in the same way that Lutheran Service Book provides a common experience for us today.

Now presented for the first time in English, this is an invaluable resource for history enthusiasts, church musicians, and anyone who wants insight into how our grandfathers sang and prayed. This is a chance to share in that song and prayer of the saints gone before us.

Matthew Carver, MFA, is a translator of German and classical literature. He resides in Nashville, TN, with his wife Amanda and their young son, where they pursue interests in art, orthodox Lutheran theology, liturgy, and hymnody. 
(Publisher's website)
Cantemus! Let us sing! That is how we often introduce forwards from Mr. Carver's blog site (http://matthaeusglyptes.blogspot.com/), where he posts great English translations of Latin and German hymn texts that deserve to be sung today.

So, when this reviewer met the translator in person this January, I shared, "There's one main problem with the book. It deserves a leather cover and gilded edges!" He politely accepted my compliment and gently reminded me that this is not intended to be an official hymnal of the LCMS. (In order to be so it must be adopted by convention action.) I agree, yet assert that it should be a sourcebook for better English translations of hymns already in LSB, as well as hymns that deserve the opportunity to be considered for a future LSB Supplement and the successor hymnal to LSB.

At the congregation I currently serve, the original German version was used side-by-side with a Volga German hymnal. Making the transition to English took generations. I still today have four ladies in the congregation who request visits in German. At our congregation's recent 110th Anniversary service, the Epistle was read in both German and English and the Lord's Prayer was prayed in both languages. Walther's Hymnal gives English-only speakers and readers insight into our rich and living liturgical and hymnological heritage.

Collects and Prayers (359ff), History of the Passion (371ff), and The Destruction of Jerusalem (380) served as edifying devotional material for me this Lent. Yes, some portions are omitted (see 387-8 for an explanation).  A Divine Service Liturgy is found in the Appendices before tunes not found in modern LCMS hymnals.

Buy a copy of Walther's Hymnal if you have a family copy of Walther's original. Buy a copy especially if you don't have a copy of the original and then download a pdf of the original from Google Books.

Today's third book is the newest by far, copyright 2012. 

The errors the author warns against are far older.


Real Answers
Real Religion
Real Holy Spirituality
There are only two kinds of spirituality in the world. One is false, and one is true. One is the manifestation of the old evil foe who has sent many false spiritualties out into the world, and the other is the holy spirituality found only in faith in the one true God. One is a lie, and one is real.
But which is which?
There is a cultural perfect storm shredding the spiritual landscape of the United States. It travels on the wind of a growing ignorance of both history and the Bible. Christians are losing faith because the kind of Christianity they are trying to believe is

This book examines seven of the most common spiritual traditions and how they use speculation, mysticism, and moralism to break Christianity. Author Jonathan Fisk calls them the seven “counterfeit Christian rules that every Christian ought to break as often as possible,” because they are seven myths that have infiltrated the churches in our age, seven teachings taught as if they were doctrine, but which are nothing more than the traditions of men.

The dark secret of Christianity in America is that we are losing.
We hide it with light shows, Christian dance and music, and video games,
but it’s true. And it’s not new.

The house has grown too dirty. Fisk is going to sweep it clean. All of it: the dusty corners where spores of speculation lay, the air filled with the mustiness of mysticism, the grout where the mold of moralism has grown thick over our clean confidence in Christ. Once the grime has been scrubbed away, Fisk shows how, under the cross of Jesus, you will find that your mind, heart, and hands, your reason, emotions, and sense of mercy, are the very things that our Lord has redeemed. In the resurrection of Jesus, in His fulfillment of the Law, in the essence of His Gospel, in the pure Word of God, you will find the truth.
(Publisher's website)
Best known for his Worldview Everlasting videos on You Tube, Pr. Jonathan Fisk communicates the Lutheran Confession of the Christian faith using fresh language.

My review copy was waiting at home while I was stranded in an airport. Thankfully, I had my Kindle Fire with me, free airport WiFi, and a kindle version of Broken available in the Amazon store thanks to CPH. Reading Broken in that way helped me experience the book in the way many of today's young Lutheran Christians should consider the dangers of legalism, false worship, and not properly distinguishing God's Law and God's Gospel.
The graphic design of the book is unlike anything you've seen from Concordia. Line art reminds me of a tasteful and appropriate mix of pop culture, classic Christian devotional woodcuts, and an eye for composition borrowed from Monty Python. I always wondered what Worldview Everlasting would look like in print. Now I know.

Broken is a book appropriate for youth and youth leaders, particularly youth disillusioned by caricatures of Christianity, hypocrites, failed preachers, and sectarianism. It should also be read alongside resources by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt for those who have been sinned against by the Church.

More classics from Concordia Publishing House are coming in future reviews. In the meantime, order (or save up for) these three Lutheran classics.

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.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Received for Review

Naugle, David K. David S. Dockery, Series Editor. Philosophy: A Student's Guide (Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition). Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 125 Pages. Paper. $11.99. www.crossway.org (N)
 Poythress, Vern Sheridan. Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 733 Pages. Paper. $45.00. www.crossway.org (N)
 Rogers, Michael Allen. Foreword by Bryan Chapell. What Happens After I Die? Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 288 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)
 Miller, Thomas A., M.D. Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? A Surgeon-Scientist Examines the Evidence. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 176 Pages. Paper. $16.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)
Wenham, Gordon. The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 205 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

Bayer, Oswald. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. Martin Luther's Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008. 374 Pages. Paper. $32.00. www.eerdmans.com (LHP)

Webb, Barry G. The Book of Judges (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. 555 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. www.eerdmans.com (P)