Monday, October 31, 2016

Received for Review



Bramwell, Tyrel. The Gift and the Defender (Lumen Legends Series, Book I). Grail Quest Books, 2016. Kindle eARC received. https://moragunfighter.com/writing/my-book/
(cf. http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2011/12/lhp-review-personal-projects.html)


Jerome. Michael Graves, Translator. Edited by Christopher A.Hall. Thomas C. Oden and Gerald L. Bray, Series Editors. Commentary on Jeremiah (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove: IVP Academic/InterVarsity Press, 2011. 232 Pages. Cloth. $60.00/$42.00 on sale.  http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=2910
Jerome. Edited by Thomas P. Scheck. Thomas C. Oden and Gerald L. Bray, Series Editors.  Commentaries on the Twelve Prophets, Volume 1 (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove: IVP Academic/InterVarsity Press, 2016. 310 Pages. Cloth. $60.00/$42.00 on sale. http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=2916

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Lutheran Book Review: Concordia Commentary


Middendorf, Michael P. Romans 9-16 (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia, 2016. 836 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. https://www.cph.org/p-29657-romans-9-16-concordia-commentary.aspx

Lessing, Reed. Isaiah 56-66 (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis, Concordia, 2014. 600 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. https://www.cph.org/p-24729-isaiah-5666-concordia-commentary.aspx  


Two volumes of Concordia Commentary greet us today.


Back in 2012, we reviewed this author's commentary on Isaiah 40-55.
http://lhplbr.blogspot.com/2012/07/pulpit-review-isaiah.html

Isaiah 56–66 is the culmination of the prophet’s message condemning humanity’s sin and promising the Suffering Servant, who atones for that sin, rises in majesty, and prepares an eternal city, the new Jerusalem, for all the redeemed. Among its well-known oracles are “arise, shine, because your light is coming” (60:1); “the Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is upon me” (61:1); and “behold, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth” (65:17). These chapters answer the questions, Do people enjoy Yahweh’s grace by birthright or by faith? Who is the true Israel? And what will happen to the Suffering Servant’s offspring, the church? God’s restoration of Zion’s glory is our future!

About the Author
R. Reed Lessing currently serves as senior pastor at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was born and raised in Denver, Colo, and received the B.A. in pre-seminary studies from St. John’s College, Winfield, Kans., in 1981. He earned his M.Div. (1985), S.T.M. (1989), and Ph.D. (2001) degrees from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He was ordained into the office of the holy ministry on June 29, 1986. From 1986 to 1999, he served pastorates in West Monroe, La., and Broken Arrow, Okla. Dr. Lessing was also a professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, from 1999 to 2013.

Dr. Lessing has written Interpreting Discontinuity: Isaiah’s Tyre Oracle (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2004), and along with Dr. Andrew Steinmann, he co-authored an introduction to the Old Testament titled Prepare the Way of the Lord (St. Louis: Concordia, 2014). Dr. Lessing is also the author of the volumes on Jonah, Amos, and Isaiah 40–55 as well as the forthcoming volume on Zechariah in the Concordia Commentary series. He has published articles and book reviews in Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Concordia Journal, and Concordia Theological Quarterly, as well as sermon studies in Concordia Pulpit Resources and enrichment magazine articles in the LifeLight Foundations series of Bible studies from Concordia Publishing House.

LOGOS Bible Software
This product is available for LOGOS Bible Software. Learn more.

About the Series
The Concordia Commentary Series: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture is written to enable pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with greater insight, clarity, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the biblical text.
This landmark work will cover all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, interpreting Scripture as a harmonious unity centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every passage bears witness to the Good News that God has reconciled the world to Himself through our Lord's life, death, and resurrection.

The commentary fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes "that which promotes Christ" in each pericope.
Authors are sensitive to the rich treasury of language, imagery, and themes found throughout Scripture, including such dialectics as Law and Gospel, sin and grace, death and new life, folly and wisdom, demon possession and the arrival of the kingdom of God in Christ. Careful attention is given to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Further light is shed on the text from archaeology, history, and extra-biblical literature. Finally, Scripture's message is applied to the ongoing life of the church in terms of ministry, worship, proclamation of the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, confession of the faith--all in joyful anticipation of the life of the world to come.
View all Concordia Commentaries.
Learn how to save 30% as a Concordia Commentary Subscriber.
(Publisher's website)
Dr. Lessing was the guest speaker at the Wyoming District Spring Pastoral Conference in 2013. The topic was Isaiah 56-66. Over four sessions, he covered 1) Reading these chapters contextually and theologically, 2) Outlining these chapters and key texts, 3) and 4) Good and Perfect Gifts: A Lenten Sermon Series on Isaiah 56-66. This commentary delivers on what he covered then.

This volume alone will help you with no less than eighteen sermons over the Three-Year Lectionary and seven each year you use the One-Year Lectionary. 

Lessing will help you understand why there are thee volumes/divisions in modern commentaries on Isaiah (4ff) and will help you refute the assumptions of textual criticism in that regard, defending divine authorship (10) through one Isaiah. Regarding chapters 56-66, he shows their clear structure (329ff), demonstrates unity of themes (160, 193, 195) and language (33, passim) within these chapters and the need for these chapters (56ff, 57-lower half) as well as the unity of all sixty-six chapters as a whole (193, 258ff, 455, et al). 

I found it helpful that "The translation in this commentary indicates parallel lines by indenting them equally" (42, passim).

The author will educate you about pagan child sacrifice (110ff), the new covenant (204ff), the theme of salvation in chapters 60-62 (211ff), gives regular sermon ideas through his Reflections (e.g., 256-7, 270-paragraph 2, 424ff), "angelomorphic Christology" (368), Yahweh's rejection of syncretism (459ff), the truths about hell (5), and the creation of new heavens and a new earth (319ff).

This prolific Concordia Commentary author will be back with Zechariah!



We reviewed the other volume of CC: Romans back in 2014. 

http://lhplbr.blogspot.com/2014/07/pulpit-review-concordia-commentary.html



Romans conveys the timeless truths of the Gospel to all people of all times and places. That very fact explains the tremendous impact the letter has had ever since it was first written. In this letter, Paul conveys the essence of the Christian faith in a universal manner that has been cherished by believers—and challenged by unbelievers—perhaps more so than any other biblical book.

In Romans 1–8, Paul discloses the righteousness of God and our life in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. But he is only half done! Romans 9–16 continues Paul's comprehensive exposition of the theme articulated in 1:16–17. We find some of Paul’s richest theology in his analysis of Israel and the church in Romans 9–11. And his appeals for Christian living in chapters 12–15 are supported and strengthened by the theological foundations of the Gospel. Finally, it is not until Romans 14–16 that we receive vital clues for identifying the original audience and for discerning the overall purposes behind his most magnificent treatise.

In this commentary, you'll find:

  • Clear exposition of the Law and Gospel theology in Paul’s most comprehensive epistle.
  • Passage after passage of beneficial insight for preachers and biblical teachers who desire to be faithful to the text
  • An in-depth overview of the context, flow of Paul’s argument, and commonly discussed issues in each passage
  • Detailed textual notes on the Greek, with a well-reasoned explanation of the apostle’s message

About the Author
Michael P. Middendorf was born and raised in St. Paul, Minn. He received all of his education at Lutheran schools, including a B.A. in pre-seminary studies from Concordia University, St. Paul (1981), where he subsequently served for three years as an admissions counselor and guest instructor of Greek. After enrolling at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., he earned his M.Div. (1987), S.T.M (1989), and Th.D. (1990) degrees. Dr. Middendorf served as a parish pastor in Jamestown, N.D., from 1990 to 1992 and then as a professor of religion and biblical languages at Concordia University Texas (in Austin) from 1992 to 2001. Since 2001, he has been a professor of theology in Christ College, at Concordia University Irvine, in California. He is also a pastoral assistant at Trinity Cristo Rey Lutheran Church, a bilingual congregation in Santa Ana, Calif.

(Publisher's Website)
I appreciated the author's humility in this volume's preface (xvi-xviii), especially by admitting, in retrospect, that "a glance backward reveals that occasionally a better or more accurate trajectory could have been followed (xvi). This only makes me respect him more. The teacher is also a student. He wants to improve himself and his scholarship for the sake of his readers/hearers out of respect for Christ and His Word. Those of us with volume 1 of this Romans commentary could and should annotate the necessary pages with these insights.

My interest piqued anew, the author kept on delivering, from reminding us of the specific-locatedness of the letter before its universal application (803-809), to an extended discussion of hardening, rejection of God, and election (894, 1052, 1069, 1080 note 113), clear, relevant, and regular citations from the Lutheran Confessions (e.g., 970, 1469, passim.), a passionate and necessary reminder that the cross and Resurrection go together (1015), an interesting vocabularly excursus on teach/preach words (1025), a sermon-worthy quote from Ambrosiaster on 11:19 (1123), his "Bow-Tie" and "Olive Tree" diagrams (1131, 1240ff, et al), and a comprehensive and clear rejection of a two-covenant interpretation of Romans with regard to the Jewish people (1163).

As we turn to the remainder of the volume, Romans 12-16 are explicitly connected to Romans 5-8. As a classical Lutheran educator, I appreciated the author's mention of analogia in the textual notes on 12:6 (1208). He expounds on the phrase "According to the Analogy of Faith" (1233) and the purpose of God's gifts to an individual. In the excursus on typology, he writes, "Typology says what needs to be said about Christ, but all too often interpreters stop short of saying all of what ought to be said" (1244). This is not the case in this pair of commentaries on Romans.
 
Middendorf has an ongoing conversation with other commentators throughout these volumes, including Moo. Take for example Moo's assertion that 12:9-21 has an "apparently haphazard arrangement." Our author proves that this statement is inaccurate, mopping up his sloppy research over pages 1248-1279. Romans 12:9-21 may prove to be an appropriate wedding sermon text. I see much there based on this translation (1252) that may teach Christian couples about persecution (1278), the challenges Christians face from the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh, and what authentic commitment love looks like in a fallen world. He continues the discussion well into Romans 13, notably saying, "The NT, however, does not envision government being responsible for carrying out broader roles typically referred to as 'social welfare' " (1313, italics original). Interesting words to hear right before Election Day 2016!

Further, we are taught/reminded about "the Ten Words" (1332-1333), an explanation of the so-called new perspective on Paul with rebuttal and a true exposition and application of Paul on the Law with examples (1359ff, 1371 note 45), hear "drinking" explained in context (1437), see detail with regard to translation of "justification" (1489 note 20), are given a chart on Paul's OT usage in Romans (1492ff), and are warned anew about false teachers (1572ff).


The two particular volumes of Concordia Commentary in this review are well-worth your time, money, study time, and shelf space and will be enormously helpful to you in your preaching and teaching.

We thank Concordia Publishing House for the opportunity to see and review these two titles. We would love to see the forthcoming volumes on 1 Samuel and Hebrews.



Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Lutheran Book Review: Books of Substance and Significance





Luther, Martin. Edited by Timothy J. Wengert. The Annotated Luther, Volume 1: The Roots of Reform. Fortress: Minneapolis, 2015. 592 Pages. eARC. $39.00. http://fortresspress.com/annotatedluther


Luther, Martin. Edited by Kirsi I. Stjerna. The Annotated Luther, Volume 2: Word and Faith. Fortress: Minneapolis, 2015. 528 Pages. eARC. $39.00. http://fortresspress.com/annotatedluther


Birkholz, Mark W., Jacob Corzine, and Jonathan Mumme, Editors. Foreword by Jonathan Fisk. Feasting in a Famine of the Word: Lutheran Preaching in the Twenty-First Century. Eugene: Wipf and Stock/Pickwick, 2016. 299 Pages. Paper. $36.00. www.wipfandstock.com


Masius, H. G. Translated and annotated by John Warwick Montgomery. A Defense of the Lutheran Faith: On the Eve of Modern Times. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2016. 214 Pages. Paper. (digital review copy received.) $18.99. http://online.nph.net/p-20188-a-defense-of-the-lutheran-faith.aspx (LBR)


Kieker, James G. Martin Luther and the Long Reformation: Response and Reform in the Church. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2016. 214 Pages. Paper. (digital review copy received.) $18.99. http://online.nph.net/p-19673-martin-luther-and-the-long-reformation.aspx (LBR)

Sutton, A. Trevor. Being Lutheran. St. Louis: Concordia, 2016. 291 Pages. Paper. (Kindle also available. pdf review copy received.) $14.99. https://www.cph.org/p-29695-being-lutheran.aspx (LBR)
Issues, Etc. Book of the Month for May, 2016 Interview: http://issuesetc.org/2016/05/31/2-how-lutheranism-is-unique-pr-trevor-sutton-53116/


Wolfmueller, C. Bryan. Has American Christianity Failed? St. Louis: Concordia, 2016. 250 Pages. Kindle review copy received. $9.99. Paperback available. https://www.cph.org/p-29630-has-american-christianity-failed.aspx



For the purposes of this review, we received pdf or kindle digital copies of all of these titles with one exception, the title on preaching.


For some titles, that did not affect ease of readability for the purposes of review. For other titles, it did.

Honestly, I cannot afford to buy physical copies of review books that I receive as digital-only-review-copies for the purposes of properly reviewing them. Sometimes, a physical review copy is still the best thing a publisher can send to a reviewer for good publicity.



We begin with two volumes in a set of new annotated editions of the writings of Martin Luther:




The Annotated Luther series


Fortress Press is excited to announce The Annotated Luther series, featuring seventy-five of Luther’s most essential writings in six volumes. Some new translations will be included along with updated translations based on Luther’s Works, American Edition. Each Luther selection will be accompanied by the following:
  • A new updated introduction
  • Annotations designed to provide key contextual background for people, events, and theological issues and controversies; interpretive notes; and Scripture references to which Luther alludes but which he does not include in the text
  • Translation notes and references to sources cited

In each volume the written annotations will be supplemented and enhanced by the use of maps, illustrations, timelines, art, and photos. The pages are designed for maximal visual interest and to help the reader navigate the content easily. The volumes in the series will feature the collaborative work of over forty scholars of Luther, the Reformation, and other related disciplines, all under the direction of a team of leading scholars. These volumes will be an essential reference tool for students at all levels, as well as an engaging and accessible resource for pastors and interested lay readers who want to explore and teach Luther and his writings with greater depth and clarity.

(Publisher's website)

Reading these volumes in kindle format made looking at the references, annotations, and indices much more challenging, largely defeating the purpose of a specific annotated edition. That was disappointing, but not entirely impossible. Over half of each volume is made up of reference material to the texts drawn from the previously-mentioned American Edition of Luther's Works. Translations were noticeably updated, but not to the same extent that the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works translations differed from the the ones English-language readers initially read.

Volume 1: The Roots of Reform

Timothy J. Wengert, General Editor and Volume Editor

Volume 1 of The Annotated Luther series contains writings that defined the roots of reform set in motion by Martin Luther, beginning with the Ninety-Five Theses (1517) through The Freedom of a Christian (1520). Included are treatises, letters, and sermons written from 1517 to 1520, which set the framework for key themes in all of Luther’s later works. Also included are documents that reveal Luther’s earliest confrontations with Rome and his defense of views and perspectives that led to his excommunication by Leo X in 1520.

These documents display a Luther grounded in late medieval theology and its peculiar issues, trained in the latest humanist methods of the Renaissance, and, most especially, showing sensitivity toward the pastoral consequences of theological positions and church practice.

(Publisher's website)
I did not find individual introductions to these Luther writings to be universally helpful. I really appreciated the illustrations throughout and the end indicies, particularly the Index of Names. That index alone is an improvement missing from some volumes of Luther's Works.

Preferred to the version of The Freedom of a Christian is the Christian Freedom hardcover published in recent years by Concordia.

Advocates of 2KR should review Luther's clear sermon on the topic here.

Volume 2: Word and Faith

Kirsi I. Stjerna, General Editor and Volume Editor

Volume 2 of The Annotated Luther series contains a number of the writings categorized under the theme Word and Faith. Luther was particularly focused on what the word “does” in order to create and sustain faith. Writings in the volume range from the large core documents Bondage of the Will, Against the Heavenly Prophets, The Smalcald Articles, and Large Catechism to Luther’s own Confession of Faith and treatments of Moses, the Gospels, and Two Kinds of Righteousness.

In the treatises in this volume, we hear Luther’s understanding of Scripture and theology as he continues his growth as teaching theologian, pastor, biblical exegete, and apologist for the faith.

(Publisher's website)
For an LCMS Lutheran, I find this annotated edition of the Large Catechism to be problematic.  Why? Simply put, the annotator could have confessed salvation in Christ alone while annotating what I know as "paragraph 66" and clearly avoid universalism (Note 190; cf: https://www.cph.org/p-670-one-true-god-understanding-the-large-catechism-ii-66.aspx). The strength or weakness of these volumes is dependent on the confession and contribution of each individual volume and writing editor. Note 7 on catechetical preaching on Ember Days was helpful and insightful, as was note 32 on the Divine Office. Notes 11 and 12 on Luther and Zwingli's interaction on the Lord's Supper could be clearer. (My numbering is based on the kindle review copy version.)

We did request digital review copies of volumes 3 and 4, but have yet to hear any answer. I'm not optimistic.

Personally, I'm looking forward to Volume 3: Church and Sacraments because of volume editor Paul W. Robinson, a seminary instructor I had at Concordia, St. Louis. Based on what I've seen so far, I am concerned about how the Small Catechism will be annotated in Volume 4.
 

So, do you need to buy these? If you own the equivalent volumes of the American Edition of Luther's Works, no. If you own the LOGOS Bible Software edition of the AELW, no. I bought the offprint edition of The Bondage of the Will 1525 from Volume 2 with my own funds. I still see the need for Concordia Publishing House to produce an edition of our own.



Next up, preaching:



The Lord warns of a "famine . . . of hearing the word of the Lord" (Amos 8:11). Has this warning come to pass in our day? There is no shortage of preachers, but how often do they miss the mark in actually delivering the word of God to their hearers, leaving them hungry?

The authors of these essays seek to equip preachers with resources to offer their hearers a rich feast from the word of the Lord. Writing from a Lutheran perspective, contributors from across the globe provide a fresh approach to preaching. These authors represent seasoned pastors and professors as well as young scholars. All are actively preaching and teaching God's word on a regular basis.

This book covers a wide range of topics relating to preaching--from the scriptural background and hermeneutical issues to historical examples of notable preachers, and also practical guides to crafting and delivering a sermon. These essays will assist preachers in proclaiming God's word in a manner that provides a feast for those living in a famine-stricken world.

Contributors

Mark W. Birkholz
Jacob Corzine
Jonathan Mumme
Jonathan Fisk

(Publisher's Website)
This is a unique volume with seventeen essays by German, Swedish, Finnish, Australian, and American contributors. Among the Americans, most are LCMS. One, Paulson, is ELCA. 

Essays provide diagnoses and treatment plans for spiritual malnourishment.

Notably,
  • Bombaro demonstrates the consequences of consumerism (5), 
  • Elliot helps the preacher connect Old Testament sermons to Christian congregations (45ff) while giving a Christological interpretation of Song of Songs (57), 
  • Coats connects Johann Gerhard's theological commonplaces to his pulpit (78ff), 
  • Paulson expounds on Paul on the foolishness of preaching (140ff), 
  • Pless helps preachers preach liturgically with specific insight on resources (167, 169), not neglecting Sasse and One-Year lectionary books, 
  • Kleinig concurs with Pless, centering our preaching on Christ (190), 
  • Petersen helps the pastor wrestle with special preaching situations (not neglecting special situations: 193, note 2), 
  • Johnson re-examines lament with the help of a notable hymnal study (228, note 3) and the psalms (239),  
  • Martens helps with sermon preparation (278) and introduces us to Gerhard Aho (292), a preacher and professor whose class notes are still for sale at the CTSFW bookstore.

My goal today is to pique your interest in this title. It is substantial, faithful, and practical. Later, I will have the opportunity to reexamine this title after a second reading in a review of 900 words. Look for that.

In the meantime, buy this book. I'll call it essential.


I must confess prior ignorance of the existence of the next title. I am quite thankful is now available in a language I understand.


Originally written in French, this is the first English translation of H. G. Masius' influential work defending Lutheranism against the Catholic Church. This translation features annotations from renowned Lutheran scholar John Warwick Montgomery. The encouraging words within not only serve as a reminder to be on guard against anything that departs from Holy Scripture but will also keep you firm in your faith and steadfast in the Lord's teachings. In the back of this edition you will find 91 scanned pages of a printing of the original French. Softcover, 245 Pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Published 2016.

(Publisher's website)

This is a book from 1699 published "for the use of Protestant Christians journeying in Roman Catholic Lands." A work of apologetics, the author freely uses words from "St. Peter, the alleged first Pope" in order to convince the reader of "their fundamental errors." In other words, using the Word of God from 1 Peter 3:15-16 and many other scripture passages, Masius defends the Lutheran confession of the Christian faith, showing that it "cannot justly be condemned" and secondly, he sets forth "the fundamental differences between us and the Roman Church" (7). These are the two parts of the book.

Thank you to NPH and translator John Warwick Montgomery for resurrecting this title, worthy of your attention.



In preparation for 2017, Northwestern Publishing House has also republished this title by James Kiecker.




Have you ever wondered what struggles Martin Luther experienced during the Reformation or how much opposition he faced? What challenges attempted to pull him from his path of teaching the Word to the people? Examine the full history of the Reformation: from early attempts at reform, to the scope of Luther's reform, to today's challenges in the church. You'll learn about Luther and the Reformation within the wider historical context, both the history that preceded the 16th century, and the centuries that followed the Reformation, all the way to the present. Softcover, 214 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Republished 2016.

(Publisher's website)
Originally published in 1992, this is a masterful work of historical theology. Author Kiecker ably demonstrates the need for reform in the Church, attempts at reform, focuses on Luther's time and opportunity, what the Lord accomplished through Dr. Luther, other reformers and their approaches, and challenges since Luther.

Pastors and laity alike will profit from reading this title, especially as 2017 approaches.



I was asked to endorse the next title after publication. My review copy was electronic. I have since personally purchased a copy. Pressing congregational needs remain my priority, so this is my first published review.



Overview
Throw out all those notions you might have about what it means to be Lutheran.

When it comes down to it, being Lutheran is really very simple. It’s about following Jesus. We go where Jesus goes, we listen when Jesus speaks, we trust when Jesus promises. And we live because Jesus lives.

From the Foreword
"Pastor Sutton treats not only Lutheran beliefs, but he also treats the attitudes and mindsets that those beliefs inform. Thus, he divides his book into two parts: what Lutherans challenge (being closed, lukewarm, confused, lazy, and 'pastel'), followed by what Lutherans cherish (the new, the ordinary, the unresolved, purpose, and the local). This helps explain the quirks of Lutherans—why they are so doctrinally rigorous, yet so fond of paradoxes and unresolved doctrinal tensions; why they seem both conservative and radical; how their theological strictness manifests itself in a spirit of freedom; how they can make such strong supernatural claims, while also focusing on the much-neglected spiritual significance of what is ordinary—while also accounting for what we could describe as the Lutheran theological culture.

"American Christianity teaches the centrality of the individual, my will, my experiences, my decision, my heart, my work and dedication, Yet we couldn’t be more unaware that Christ and His saving and comforting work are being lost."
—Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Provost and Professor of Literature, Patrick Henry College
(Publisher's Website)
Honestly, I haven't resonated with all publicity related to this title. I understand where "Throw out all those notions..." was going, but my members read that and were more suspicious about this book.

I became very interested in the author’s approach to presenting his material. Chapter intros and illustrations throughout will communicate with younger, tech-savvy readers, likely the intended audience. I've had to explain such things to older readers who are never online. Still, this is the author's way of connecting with folks who want to know more about the Lutheran confession of the Christian faith. It is enlightening to life-long under-informed Lutherans and those who don't know a Lutheran from a lutherian or a Luthern.

And Dr. Veith’s foreword was very impressive!


Rev. A. Trevor Sutton is associate pastor at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Haslett, Michigan. A frequent speaker and writer, Sutton has been published by various Christian publishers, and his work has appeared in Faith & Leadership (Duke Divinity School), The Cresset (Valparaiso University), and Concordia Journal (Concordia Seminary). Sutton has a BA from Concordia University in Ann Arbor and an MDiv from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, and is currently a graduate student in Writing and Rhetoric at Michigan State University. (Publisher's website)


One question came up in my mind early in the book. There was a reference to Schmucker (15) and his seminary. I would welcome more of a warning against S. S. S. and his revision of the Augsburg Confession.


Perhaps what the author writes near the conclusion of Chapter One (21) answers my concern in part:

False Openness: Watch out for false openness claiming to be true open access to the Gospel. Many denominations raise the banner of open and affirming inclusivity. This means that they openly affirm all lifestyles. This is wrong dressed up as right. The Holy Spirit is open to all sinners turning from sin. God openly invites all people to turn from sin. Yet nowhere in Scripture does God affirm ungodly behavior. Whether it is speeding in a school zone or sleeping with your girlfriend, God calls sin by name. We close the Gospel when we brush sins aside. Open access to Christ’s forgiveness ceases when sins are withheld from His mercy.

Open communion is also a false openness. Dressed up as a nice way to welcome outsiders, open communion says that anyone can commune regardless of belief or confession. Atheist, agnostic, and any other confession are welcomed. This dilutes the Gospel into an unrecognizable soupy mess. Open proclamation of the Gospel closes by trying to make everyone happy. Rather than stopping to explain the gift of forgiveness given in the Lord’s Supper, it is easier to just welcome anyone with a pulse. Opening a sham gospel closes the true Gospel: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)


Overall, I read a book that demonstrates that Being Lutheran is really about being a faithful and Biblical Christian. Consider:

Pastor Sutton treats not only Lutheran beliefs, but he also treats the attitudes and mind-sets that those beliefs inform. Thus, he divides his book into two parts: what Lutherans challenge (being closed, lukewarm, confused, lazy, and “pastel”), followed by what Lutherans cherish (the new, the ordinary, the unresolved, purpose, and the local). This helps explain the quirks of Lutherans—why they are so doctrinally rigorous, yet so fond of paradoxes and unresolved doctrinal tensions; why they seem both conservative and radical; how their theological strictness manifests itself in a spirit of freedom; how they can make such strong supernatural claims, while also focusing on the much-neglected spiritual significance of what is ordinary—while also accounting for what we could describe as the Lutheran theological culture.
(Gene Edward Veith, from the Foreword)


A book, album, or other resource received for review should be considered as both a stand-alone item as well as in context with the confession, practice, and previous works of the author, composer, or artist.

This title has been criticized online (often by those who had yet to read it) because of the practice of the large congregation of which the author is an Assistant Pastor. This book, if actually read by his brother pastors and congregation members, would call them to repentance with regard to Open Communion and toward a more faithful practice consistent with the LCMS. Pr. Sutton should be thanked for his brave confession.


I was so thrilled with the content of the digital review copy of the next volume, I purchased a paperback of it!




American Christianity teaches the centrality of the individual—my will, my experiences, my decision, my heart, my work, and my dedication. Yet we couldn’t be more unaware that Christ and His saving and comforting work are being lost. Our minds and hearts are captivated in some way by those who often preach the Christian instead of Christ.

Wolfmueller sounds the alarm against the false teaching and dangerous practices of Christianity in America. He offers a beautiful alternative: the sweet savor of the Gospel, which brings us to the real comfort, joy, peace, freedom, and sure hope of Christ.

And it’s for you.

Read Chapter One for Free >
(Publisher's Website)

Has American Christianity Failed?


Yes.


Yet, the gates of hell shall never prevail against Christ's Church.


To arm yourself for the battle as part of the Church Militant, check out this title.

The First chapter, available at the link above, hooked me. In his own pithy conversational style, Wolfmueller eviscerates revivalism, pietism, mysticism, enthusiasm, and other "isms" that are falsely considered by Americans and others as Christianity. He introduces the reader to a faithful, understandable, and comforting Lutheran confession of the Christian faith, including a concluding introduction to the Book of Concord.



The three major Lutheran publishing houses should have best sellers on their hands with these titles, truly books of substance and significance. There is always room for repentance, reform, and revision to more closely adhere to God's Word.

I read a lot. You probably are not surprised by that, for you probably do, too.

Several of the above books are attempts to explain and or confess Lutheranism in a fresh, engaging way. I've appreciated a number of books in this vein: The Spirituality of the Cross, Dying to Live, The Fire and the Staff, Why I Am a Lutheran, Lutheranism 101, and The Lutheran Difference. Along with Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and Law and Gospel, I regularly re-read all of the above titles. A good edition of The Bondage of the Will will be added to this list. Wolfmueller's book will join my favorites list. Consider it for yours.



Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

Lutheran Book Review Quick Summaries for October 2016: Piano Hymns and Organ Intonations





Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 1. Chicago: GIA, 2004. Sheet music: $20.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com

Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 2. Chicago: GIA, 2006. Sheet music: $17.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com

Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 3. Chicago: GIA, 2009. Sheet music: $20.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com

Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 4. Chicago: GIA, 2011. Sheet music: $21.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com

Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 6. Chicago: GIA, 2015. Sheet music: $21.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com

Giomo, Carla. Hymn Intonations for Organ. Chicago: GIA, 2014. 16 Pages. Sheet Music. $15.00. www.giamusic.com

De Silva, Chris. Colours. Chicago: GIA, 2016. Audio CD. $16.95. www.giamusic.com



Back in 2014, we reviewed an unsolicited review copy of a CD of hymn arrangements for piano:

+ Paul A. Tate's Seasons of Grace, Volume 5 is a great resource for church musicians either as the CD or as the piano solo sheet music. Building on well-known Christian hymn tunes as diverse as those known for "In the Garden" and "Hail, Holy Queen," this collection is usable by Lutheran musicians. Consider this a collection to be used when the tunes of good hymn texts show up on Sunday morning and other times of worship. Use without fear beautiful melodies now divorced from their problematic, even unBiblical texts. I can't wait to hear Volume 6, and Volumes 1-4 and listen to such creatively beautiful piano music while following along in the solo books. I will also be sharing this with our church musicians yet this weekend. Recommended!

We loved it!

Now we have our chance to share and comment on those five Seasons of Grace collections (CD and piano sheet music sets), a collection of organ intonations, and a bonus recording by Chris de Silva, Colours.


A 2004 release, this is the recording and sheet music that began this series.



GIA is proud to welcome composer Paul Tate to our roster of artists with this beautiful collection of thirteen arrangements for solo piano. Those who are familiar with Paul’s liturgical compositions are well acquainted with his lush, frequently surprising harmonies and well-crafted arrangements.

As the title implies, Seasons of Grace spans the liturgical year, featuring some new songs composed by Paul, as well as fresh arrangements of beloved hymn tunes and some GIA favorites. For Advent and Christmas, Paul includes gems such as Dan Kantor’s “Ave Maria.” Songs like the Passion Chorale “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” stir the soul during the holy seasons of Lent and Easter. The collection is rounded out with a wonderful selection of tunes for Ordinary Time.

The recording is ideal for quiet listening, reflection, and meditation. The music book is a must-have for every church pianist, featuring arrangements that are interesting, accessible, and simply lovely. (Publisher's website)
Remember, Volume 5 was my first introduction to this artist and arranger. Volume 1 still proves itself worthy of sequels and has much music that would help pianists with preludes, offertories, and postludes in congregations with Lutheran Service Book. See my annotations in [ ] below and throughout this review.

Listen to Tracks :

Morning Songs [LSB 507, 789]

A Shepherd's Medley [LSB 711]

Spirit Blowing Through Creation 

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing [LSB 848, 849]

Interlude No.1

You've Searched Me

What You Have Done For Me

You Are Strong, You Are Holy

Ave Maria [not recommended for Lutheran use]

Interlude No. 2

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name [LSB 940]

You Are Mine

Oh Sacred Head Surrounded [LSB 449, 450, 456]


As you listen to these tracks, turn to the hymn tunes in Lutheran Service Book. I'll reserve more comments for after Volume 6's information.




Seasons of Grace - Volume 2

by Paul A. Tate

Arranger : Paul A. Tate

Arr. © 2006 GIA. Individual copyrights may apply.

12 more sacred piano solos for various uses; most are medium difficulty.

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus [LSB 700, 821, 851, 860, 632, 775, 791, 805, 923] - A Place at the Table (with Fresh as the Morning) - Advent Suite (Creator fo the Stars of Night; My Soul in Stillness Waits; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel) [LSB 351, 882, 357] - Discipleship Medley (Take, O Take Me As I Am; The Summons) - Interlude No. 3 - Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence [LSB 621] - Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee [LSB 477, 803] - Eucharistic Suite (Pange lingua gloriosi; Tantum ergo; At That First Eucharist) [LSB 331, 651, 814] - Interlude Nol. 4 - We Arise (with For the Beauty of the Earth) [LSB 397]- Deep Within (with If You Love Me) - All Are Welcome (with Come, Christians, Join to Sing)

This anticipated second volume of piano solos by Paul Tate provides the intermediate player with excellent arrangements of traditional and contemporary music; several medleys are included. Recorded on CD-687.

Number of Pages : 48

Difficulty Level: M

Accomp : Piano



Seasons of Grace - Volume 3

by Paul A. Tate

Arranger : Paul A. Tate

Arr. © 2009 GIA. Individual copyrights may apply.

Paul Tate delights us with another collection of piano reflections. As in the previous volumes, Seasons of Grace, Volume 3 features a mixture of chant melodies, traditional hymnody, and contemporary Catholic song medleys for Lent, Advent, and Christmas. This new volume includes well-crafted arrangements of some of the church’s most beloved hymns and songs such as “Be Not Afraid” and “Prayer of St. Francis” along with the music of David Haas, Marty Haugen, Rory Cooney, Liam Lawton, Tony Alonso, Lori True, Sr. Suzanne Toolan, and more! The arrangements in the printed collection are interesting and accessible, are moderately easy, and have only a few measures of more adventurous playing. Complete your set today!

Contents: To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King [LSB 525, 829]; And Jesus Said; Wondrous Love; The Cloud's Veil; Peace Prelude; We Are Called; Interlude No. 5; Blessed Virgin Mary Suite [not recommended for Lutheran use]; Rest Now In Me [LSB 749]; I Am the Bread of Life; Interlude No. 6; Christmas Suite [LSB 368, 363]; Lenten Suite; How Can We Be Silent

This anticipated third volume of piano solos by Paul Tate provides the intermediate player with excellent arrangements of traditional and contemporary music; several medleys are included. Recorded on CD-796.

Number of Pages : 56

Difficulty Level: M

Accomp : Piano

Comments : This anticipated third volume of piano solos by Paul Tate provides excellent arrangements of traditional and contemporary music.

Click each track to listen.

5. Peace Prelude

8. Blessed Virgin Mary Suite

9. Rest Now in Me
One notes occasional Marian hymns. These can and should be avoided by the Lutheran pianist. 
 



Seasons of Grace - Volume 4

by Paul A. Tate

Arranger : Paul A. Tate

Arr. © 2011 GIA. Individual copyrights may apply.

Paul Tate delights us with another collection of solo piano reflections. As in the previous volumes, Seasons of Grace, Volume 4 features a mixture of chant melodies, traditional hymnody, and contemporary Catholic song medleys.

This volume includes the perennially popular “Here I Am, Lord” and “On Eagles Wings” along with classic hymn tunes such as adoro te devote and londonderry air.

In this collection you’ll find intermediate level arrangments, similar to the first three volumes of this fantastic series.

Complete your set today!

Number of Pages : 56

Difficulty Level: M/D

Accomp : Piano
LSB tunes include:
ON EAGLES' WINGS: LSB 727
HOLY MANNA: LSB 540, 584, 782
KINGSFOLD: LSB 444, 846
O STORE GUD: LSB 801

Volume 4 probably has the least number of tunes in LSB of all the Tate's volumes thus far, but they are used no less than seven times.


For the sake of completeness, I'm giving Volume 5 the same treatment:




Seasons of Grace—Volume 5

by Paul A. Tate

2013

Seasons of Grace, Volume 5 features fourteen more intermediate level arrangements for the liturgical pianist. As with previous volumes of the series, Tate delights us with his take on many traditional hymns (including the lilting slane as well as an exciting multi-metric arrangement of "I Sing The Mighty Power of God"), chant melodies (such as in paradisum, beautifully paired with funeral songs by Liam Lawton and David Haas), seasonal pieces (such as a medley of Polish Christmas carols), and even a suite of Gospel favorites (including "In The Garden," "There Is Power In The Blood," and "Blessed Assurance"). Also featured are original tunes by Tate, including "Open Our Eyes, O Lord, We Pray" and two flexible interludes for those moments when you need a short, last minute instrumental piece during the liturgy. If you like the music of Jim Brickman, George Winston, and Jeanne Cotter, you will want to include Seasons of Grace Volume 5 in your CD and piano book collection today.

LSB tunes include:
ST. ANNE: LSB 733
O WALY WALY: LSB 595
NATIONAL ANTHEM: LSB 965
SLANE: LSB 861
W ZLOBIE LEZY: LSB 393
ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR: LSB 892

SINE NOMINE: LSB 677
CONVERSE: LSB 770
O FILII ET FILIAE: LSB 471





Seasons of Grace - Volume 6

by Paul A. Tate

Arranger : Paul A. Tate

© 2015 GIA. Individual copyrights may apply.

Paul Tate is back with this collection of newly arranged piano solos of more of your favorite hymns and songs. This time Paul arranges some popular contemporary classics, including David Haas’s “Blest Are They,” Michael Joncas’s “Come to Me,” and Marty Haugen’s “Canticle of the Sun.” Two of Lori True’s most beautiful pieces are here, too (“Quietly, Peacefully” and “Peace, Be Not Anxious”), along with a harmonically adventurous setting of “Amazing Grace” and the dark and powerful “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Also included are two newly composed interludes of flexible length in contrasting styles and meters. As with the previous five volumes, Seasons of Grace, Volume 6 is for intermediate players, with just a few passages requiring more advanced technique. The companion CD is not only a great listening experience, but may also be a terrific tool for beginners to have as they follow along with the score and learn to play these pieces. (See page 92 for complete contents of this collection as well as Volumes 1–5.)

Contents: Rejoice, Ye Pure In Heart [LSB 813]; Softly and Tenderly; How Firm a Foundation [LSB 728]; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross [LSB 425]; Quietly, Peacefully; Interlude No. 11; Blest Are They [LSB electronic and accompaniment editions]; Come to Me; Peace, Be Not Anxious; Interlude No. 12; This Is My Father's World [LSB 856]; O Holy Night [LSB 378]; Canticle of the Sun; Amazing Grace [LSB 744]
Number of Pages : 64

Difficulty Level: M

Accomp : Piano

In summary, I would say the Moderate difficulty rating is fair. Most are beyond my personal ability, but there are some arrangements that are more easy and more difficult. M is an average rating for each book overall.

I appreciate the variety of left hand treatments, the fresh chord progressions, and the occasional surprise that draws the listener in. The recordings are very effective in that regard and competent live playing off these pieces can only be more so.

Highly recommended.

Paul A. Tate, a graduate of the University of Georgia, is a professional musician living in Sugar Hill, Georgia. As an active workshop presenter and concert performer, Paul has released a dozen recordings and published over 100 original songs and arrangements. His liturgical compositions appear in a number of hymnal resources, and his voice has been heard around the world on Sirius Satellite Radio. (Publisher's website)


Our congregational organ and piano are back to back. So are our reviews of piano and organ music.



Hymn Intonations

by Carla J. Giomo

Arranger : Carla J. Giomo

Arr. © 2014 GIA.

These 12 simple hymn intonations for organ can be used throughout the liturgical year. Whether you are looking for an instrumental piece for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Eastertide, or Ordinary Time, these little gems are just right for a brief prelude or postlude, or they can be played anywhere you need that “little something” to make a big impact. (Publisher's website)

Contents: AZMON [LSB 528, 697]; CWM RHONDDA [LSB 850, 918]; IN BABILONE [LSB 650, 842]; ITALIAN HYMN [864, 905]; NEW BRITAIN [LSB 744]; NOEL NOUVELET; NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN [LSB 332, 352]; PICARDY [LSB 621]; SLANE [738, 861]; STILLE NACHT [363]; VICTORY [LSB 464]; WONDROUS LOVE [LSB 543]


As before, I have added LSB hymn numbers to the details above to show how incredibly useful this affordable collection would be for congregations like mine.

I see these "intonations" as brief accessible music for the busy organist who may not always have time to work up a more major piece.

Recommended!


We return to the piano for solo piano music arranged by Chris De Silva.





Colours

Music for Solo Piano

by Chris de Silva

2016

From composer and pianist Chris de Silva comes this stunning collection of exquisite music for solo piano. Fresh arrangements of beloved tunes evoke unexpected moments of beauty and grace. Original compositions reveal a depth of faith and a mastery of the keyboard in ways that give voice to all the colors of life. Let the recording lead you into deep personal prayer and meditation. Let the carefully crafted printed music be an invitation to share this music in your church as preludes and meditations throughout the liturgical year. This collection will pull you in from the first notes and carry you to the last.

Contents: Water • Comfort • Breath • Remembrance • Mercy • Offering • Joy • Winter • Silence • Spirit • Return • Jerusalem

(Publisher's website)

Sheet music is also available. We'd really like to take a look at that, and revisit this title, for we were unable to clearly name all of the "beloved tunes" arranged on this recording.  Tracks 4 and 11, Remembrance and Return were particularly puzzling until I read the liner notes: they are both original compositions.


As it is, we appreciated the recorded music during the evening of a long car trip. It was meaningful, comforting, reverent, and "colourful."



Consider purchasing some of these resources for the church musician in your life.



Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.




Lutheran Book Review Quick Summaries for October 2016: Books




Naselli, Andrew David and J. D. Crowley. Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. 157 Pages. Paper. $15.99.

Danker, Ryan Nicholas. Wesley and the Anglicans: Political Division in Early Evangelicalism. IVP Academic, 2016. 304 Pages. Paper. $26.00. https://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=5122 (UN)

Köstenberger, Andreas, Thomas R. Schreiner, Editors. Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Third Edition). Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. 415 Pages. Paper. $30.00. https://www.crossway.org/books/women-in-the-church-tpb/

Cherry, Constance. The Music Architect: Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016. 272 Pages. Paper. $22.99. www.bakeracademic.com (Unsolicited; also observed in CTSFW bookstore)



Today's summaries are a little longer than usual but should be still quick enough for you to make an informed judgement about each resource.


First, we discuss the conscience.





Christian, meet your conscience.

What do you do when you disagree with other Christians? How do you determine which convictions are negotiable and which are not? How do you get along with people who have different personal standards?
All of these questions have to do with the conscience. Yet there is hardly a more neglected topic among Christians. In this much-needed book, a New Testament scholar and a cross-cultural missionary explore all thirty passages in the New Testament that deal with the conscience, showing how your conscience impacts virtually every aspect of life, ministry, and missions. As you come to see your conscience as a gift from God and learn how to calibrate it under the lordship of Jesus Christ, you will not only experience the freedom of a clear conscience but also discover how to lovingly interact with those who hold different convictions.

Andrew David Naselli (PhD, Bob Jones University; PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is assistant professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

J. D. Crowley (MA, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) has been doing missionary and linguistic work among the indigenous minorities of northeast Cambodia since 1994. He is the author of numerous books, including Commentary on Romans for Cambodia and Asia and the Tampuan/Khmer/English Dictionary.

(Publisher's website)
+/ Luther's conscience was captive to the Word of God (passim.). This is an interesting title, one that will provide some insights to those who read a book on such a necessary topic. I recommend that it be read in parallel with Luther's book On the Bondage of the Will. The authors raise thoughtful questions to prepare a Christian for confession and absolution as well as preparing for interactions with other Christians.  Regarding the former, Lutherans always want to hear more Gospel comfort. Regarding the latter, I would love to see the authors expand upon the topic in cases of clear departure from Holy Scripture, that which kept Luther's conscience captive. Recommended. 


Our next title arrived unsolicited. We read about Wesley and the Anglicans.




Why did the Wesleyan Methodists and the Anglican evangelicals divide during the middle of the eighteenth century?

Many would argue that the division between them was based narrowly on theological matters, especially predestination and perfection. Ryan Danker suggests, however, that politics was a major factor throughout, driving the Wesleyan Methodists and Anglican evangelicals apart.

Methodism was perceived to be linked with the radical and seditious politics of the Cromwellian period. This was a charged claim in a post-Restoration England. Likewise Danker explores the political force of resurgent Tory influence under George III, which exerted more pressure on evangelicals to prove their loyalty to the Establishment. These political realities made it hard for evangelicals in the Church of England to cooperate with Wesley and meant that all their theological debates were politically inflected.

Rich in detail, here is a book for all who seek deeper insight into a critical juncture in the development of evangelicalism and early Methodism.

(Publisher's website)

/ My rating of this title is largely due to its irrelevance to most Lutherans I know. However, I was fascinated by the controversy over sacraments (175ff), because our LCMS convention this summer passed a resolution phasing out Licensed Lay Deacons in our midst, a practice adopted in 1989 opposed to Augsburg Confession XIV in our confessional documents. (The Synod did not address so-called District Lay Deacons, however.) Most heartbreaking to me was the discussion of Wesley at Aldersgate (59, et al). If only he had heard/read the rest of Luther on Romans, then he probably wouldn't have confounded law and Gospel so regularly and would never have told his lay preachers, "We are no gospel preachers" (68). Danker appears to be fair in his presentation, but this title will be appreciated mostly by historians as well as readers in the greater Wesleyan and Anglican traditions.


Back at the seminary, the first edition of Women in the Church was highly recommended. I finally got to fill out this part of my pastoral library in time for the second edition. Here is the new third edition.





The role of women in the church is highly debated, with Christians on all sides using Paul’s teachings in 1 Timothy to justify their positions. Now in its third edition, this classic book edited by Andreas Köstenberger and Thomas Schreiner offers a robust exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:9–15, looking at the passage’s background, syntax, grammar, and enduring significance. Featuring updated essays and fresh contributions based on the latest research—including an in-depth discussion of the meaning of the phrase “exercise authority”—this volume stands as the most comprehensive exploration of this contested passage to date.

Andreas J. Köstenberger (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is a prolific author, distinguished evangelical scholar, and editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. His books include The Heresy of Orthodoxy, God, Marriage, and Family, The Final Days of Jesus (with Justin Taylor), and God's Design for Man and Woman (with Margaret Köstenberger). Dr. Köstenberger and his wife have four children.

Thomas R. Schreiner is the James Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds an MDiv and ThM from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary and a PhD from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has published a number of articles and book reviews in scholarly journals.

(Publisher's website)
Essentially, what we have here is an almost entirely new volume on the same topic, a third edition from Crossway that belongs on the shelf next Concordia's Third Edition of Women Pastors? (Harrison/Pless) and an available first or second edition (published by Baker and edited by these authors and their previous co-editor H. Scott Baldwin). Highly Recommended!

Al Wolters fills the theological shoes of Baldwin with his new article on authentein (20, 65ff). Rigorous scholarship fills this volume. I particularly appreciated the roundtable discussion chapter (297ff).

Some folks seem to go out of their way to doubt Divine Scripture, like Christians for Biblical Equality, in particular their 2014 special edition journal. That's not the case of the editors/authors of our book review title above, but among the co-authors of that journal, even some raised in my church body, the LCMS. Dear J. W. Wartick and Chaplain Don Muchow, stop trying to change the confession of church body. If you want the ordination of women and bow to an idol of the age, leave the LCMS already and please leave her alone. I'm not afraid of scholarship, as evidenced by the titles we review at LBR. I despise so-called scholarship that justifies a predetermined politically-correct position.


We turn to another unsolicited title.



Guidance for Leaders Seeking a Richer Way to Employ Worship Music
Leading worship expert Constance Cherry offers comprehensive guidance to Christian leaders seeking a deeper, richer way to employ worship music in engaging ways for twenty-first-century worshipers. Instead of worship being driven by the pursuit of fast-changing musical styles, says Cherry, leaders should pursue a musical language that helps to facilitate a worshipful conversation between God and people.

Following the author's successful book The Worship Architect, this work helps Christian leaders think theologically and act pastorally about worship music in their churches. It addresses larger issues beyond the surface struggles of musical styles and provides tools to critically evaluate worship songs. The book is applicable to all Christian traditions and worship styles and is well suited to both the classroom and the local church--serving as a welcome resource for not only musicians but also pastors and other church leaders. Each chapter concludes with suggested practical exercises, recommended reading, and basic vocabulary terms.

Contents
Prelude
1. Becoming a Pastoral Musician
2. Pouring the Footing: God-Focused Song
3. Laying the Foundations: Music's Role in Worship
4. Selecting Songs for the Movements of Worship: Creating Logical Flow
5. Evaluating Worship Music: Creating a Canon of Song
Interlude: Introduction to Shorter and Longer Song Forms6. Maximizing Shorter Song Forms
7. Maximizing Longer Song Forms
8. Discovering the Congregation's Worship Voice: An Alternative Vision for Musical Style
9. Leading Congregational Song: Practical Guidance from the Trenches10. Participating in Song as the Body of Christ: Helping Worshipers to Engage through Singing
11. Forming Disciples through Song: Worship as Spiritual Formation
12. Pursuing Spiritual Leadership through Excellence
Postlude
Appendix A: Assessing Your Canon of Song
Appendix B: Antiphon for Congregational Use
Index

Constance M. Cherry (DMin, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University and a founding faculty member of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. She speaks and teaches internationally and is a regular adjunct professor at several seminaries. Cherry has also served local churches as a minister of music/worship and as a United Methodist pastor. She is the author of The Worship Architect and The Special Service Worship Architect. (Publisher's website)
/ In July, while visiting Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN, I saw a copy of this title in the campus bookstore. While possibly quite helpful from a practical perspective and sharing ideas not incompatible with a Lutheran theology of worship, I don't have to like that the author is a female minister. My church body and I oppose the ordination of women to the pastoral office. She does put her experience as a Christian musician to good use here.

I do wish to be fair to the author in recognizing good content in this volume: definition of terms (passim.), vocation (6), introducing ancient prayer forms and patterns to readers unfamiliar with them (46ff),  the concept of a stable canon of song (114), and a summary of metrical psalms (158). If you find a copy of this title available to you, consider the good it could teach you, for it is an unique presentation on worship practice. I'm eagerly anticipating the hymn and liturgy reference volumes for Lutheran Service Book.


Thanks for reading this set of quick summaries. Given tight budgets, the choice title of this group is Women in the Church.



Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lutheran Book Review: Fiction



Clark, Lisa M. The Messengers: Discovered. St. Louis: Concordia, 2016. 346 Pages. Paper/Kindle. (pdf review copy received.) $12.99. http://www.cph.org/p-29552-the-messengers-discovered.aspx

Flint, Eric, editor. Grantville Gazette VI (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2012. eARC. $6.96. http://www.baen.com/ (N)

Flint, Eric, editor. Grantville Gazette VII (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2016. eARC. $9.99. http://www.baen.com/ (N)

Offord, Kerryn and Rick Boatright. 1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz (Ring of Fire). Baen, 2016. 528 Pages.  eARC review copy received. Paperback available.  http://www.baen.com/


We now turn to fiction. All of our selections demand some suspension of disbelief. Our later titles take place in a 1630's Germany influenced by Americans (with knowledge and technology) transplanted from the year 2000. Our first title sends us into a dystopian near-future where the Church is underground and Bibles are virtually non-existent.


The Message worth dying for . . .

The government tells fifteen-year-old Simon Clay everything he needs to know. Except what really happened to his mom. And why no one can go out at night. And why the Darkness is so dangerous.

By day, Simon pushes against every boundary there is. And by night, secret visitors and hidden messages make him question everything his life entails.

There’s a truth out there to be discovered, a truth the government will stop at nothing to stamp out. Join Simon and the Messengers as they risk their lives to protect it.


(Publisher's website)

As a pastor, I am sometimes asked about the latest in young adult dystopian fiction. I read, give my assessment, and then often have to move on to reading the next one. Most have no mention of a god other than the State. Their worldviews are genuinely depressing. Kids killing kids for entertainment. Factions at one another's throats. Absurd athletic challenges. This is different. And I am personally acquainted with the author. I knew she wrote hymns and an Arch book, but I was pleasantly surprised by her first published fiction title.

This title is likely the first in a Messengers universe. Imagine a small micro-country in the aftermath of the United States of America. Christians are underground. Much of worship and catechesis is done by memory. Pastors are rare. The government actively persecutes the remnants of Christianity it can find. Simon learns about the Messengers. They look for and help preserve Bible passages. I don't wish to share more in order to preserve a spoiler-free review.

This novel is catechetical and liturgical. I am still a little confused by a stadium scene and its aftermath near the end, yet I am confident that the sequel will help clear things up.

I expect one. And I look forward to reading it.


After the following intros, I'll give my assessment of two volumes of the Grantville Gazzette together.

The sixth rollicking anthology of tales set in Eric Flint’s phenomenal New York Times best-selling Ring of Fire universe—all selected and edited by Flint. A cosmic accident sets the modern West Virginia town of Grantville down in war-torn seventeenth century Europe. It will take all the gumption of the resourceful, freedom-loving up-timers to find a way to flourish in the mad and bloody birth of the Renaissance.

The sixth rollicking, thought-provoking anthology of tales set in Eric Flint’s phenomenal New York Times best-selling Ring of Fire series—all inspired and edited by the creator himself, Eric Flint. A cosmic accident sets the modern West Virginia town of Grantville down in war-torn seventeenth century Europe. It will take all the gumption of the resourceful, freedom-loving up-timers to find a way to flourish in the mad and bloody beginning of the Renaissance. Are they up for it?  You bet they are.

Edited by Eric Flint, and inspired by his now-legendary 1632, this is the fun stuff that fills in the pieces of the Ring of Fire political, social and cultural puzzle as supporting characters we meet in the novels get their own lives, loves and life-changing stories. The future and democracy have arrived with a bang.

The seventh anthology of tales set in Eric Flint’s phenomenal Ring of Fire universe—all selected and edited by Flint.

A cosmic accident sets the modern West Virginia town of Grantville down in war-torn seventeenth century Europe. It will take all the gumption of the resourceful, freedom-loving up-timers to find a way to flourish in the mad and bloody end period of the Renaissance. Are they up for it? You bet they are.

Edited by Eric Flint, and inspired by his now-legendary 1632, this is the fun stuff that fills in the pieces of the Ring of Fire political, social and cultural puzzle as supporting characters we meet in the novels get their own lives, loves and life-changing stories. The future and democracy have arrived with a bang.
I understand the confusion some of you face after having read these introductions. We've come a long way since the original novel called 1632. What keeps me hooked are the continuing characters and an expanding universe. What would happen if Americans with year-2000-technology ended up in 1632 Germany? Personally, I'm most interested in the Lutherans I get to read about. I'll never forget how Concordia Triglotta showed up in what most consider science fiction. I keep coming back for the political intrigue, the stories about music and the interaction among Christian groups, and to learn what is happening in the Americas.

For some reason I resonated more with the selections of volume six than those of volume seven. Perhaps it was the language. Perhaps it was the variety of content. It definitely was my reaction to the agendas of some of the contributing authors.


Featured in some of the short stories above, Dr. Gribbleflotz now gets his own volume:




A sparkling addition to the multiple New York Times best-selling Ring of Fire alternate history series created by Eric Flint. An alchemist of the 17th century confronts modern science with often amusing results.

Phillip Theophrastus Gribbleflotz, the world's greatest alchemist and a great-grandson of Paracelsus—and a Bombast on his mother's side—was a man history had forgotten. But when the town of Grantville was transported by a cosmic accident from modern West Virginia to central Germany in the early seventeenth century, he got a second chance at fame and fortune.

The world's greatest alchemist does not make household goods. But with suitable enticements Gribbleflotz is persuaded to make baking soda and then baking powder so that the time-displaced Americans can continue to enjoy such culinary classics as biscuits and gravy. Applying his superb grasp of the principles of alchemy to the muddled and confused notions the Americans have concerning what they call “chemistry,” Gribbleflotz leaves obscurity behind.

In his relentless search for a way to invigorate the quinta essential of the human humors, Gribbleflotz plays a central role in jump-starting the seventeenth century’s new chemical and marital aids industries—and pioneering such critical fields of human knowledge as pyramidology and aura imaging. These are his chronicles.
It's difficult for me to assess the chronicles as a whole. I want to cheer for an entrepreneur unlike any elsewhere in the 1632 universe. At the same time, I recoil at his pseudo-science and profiteering.

Given all that, there is much of the world developing in this new 1636 that will become increasingly uncomfortable to those who came from year-2000 West Virginia. I see this volume as an attempt to show us what the 1632 universe will look like in a generation, say in the year 1660. One will see lives saved, technology, politics, and war develop in unpredictable ways

Dr. G. is just one of the countless "downtime" Amideutsch-speaking people trying to cope with a world infused with nearly four centuries of art, science, and thought all at once.

Fiction helps me reflect on my world by letting me experience another for a time. I appreciate that kind of affordable vacation and especially look forward to returning home after visiting dystopia.



Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.