Saturday, August 14, 2010

LHP Review

Schulz, Klaus Detlev. Mission from the Cross (Lay Reader's Edition). St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 125 Pages. Paper. $12.99. (Special Introductory Price: $9.99!)  (LHP)

Recently, QBR had the treat to review Klaus Detlev Schulz's CPH book, Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission. To read that complete review, click on the URL below:
In part, we wrote:
"This is the book I wish I had for my seminary class on missions. This is the book I hope and pray is used for classes on missions at LCMS colleges, universities, seminaries, and pastors' studies around the world. It carries with it all of the good parts of all of the books I read back then, with little of the downside. It is solidly grounded in Lutheran theology and spirituality, plus the passion for the lost that was missing in so many other books."

We were pleased to learn about the availability of an abbreviated Lay Reader's Edition!

I love the concept. Take a well-written scholarly work intended for church workers and students and prepare a shorter, more affordable paperback edition for lay readers. Concordia could expand their catalog of such volumes beyond this one (and the summary of Dr. Brighton's Concordia Commentary on Revelation) to include nearly any major book of Concordia Academic Press, and even volumes of Luther, Chemnitz, or Gerhard. Sales of these Lay Reader's Editions could help subsidize new professional/academic texts and the cycle could repeat itself.

What changes have been made? There are fewer footnotes and direct quotations, larger paragraphs have been broken into smaller ones for clarity, and some entire chapters have been cut. This version retains chapters 1-5 and 16-17. Chapter 5 flows naturally to 16. Inquiring minds can simply consult the full professional edition.

Here we see the skill of the author and CPH editors. We are given clarity, brevity, and depth for the sake of wider understanding of the topic at hand.

Why is this book necessary? Justification itself is under attack (64ff). There is also a misunderstanding of missions. Take, for example, the following resolution proposed for consideration by delegates to the 2007 LCMS Convention:

To Make Outreach the Top Priority in Worker Training
Report 1-01 ([2007] CW, pp. 39–45)

WHEREAS, “Two out of every three" people in the world "do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior," and nearly 50 percent of Americans claim no religious affiliation” (Report of LCMS World Mission, CW, p. 39), and the population of the U.S. continues to grow; and

WHEREAS, In the Ablaze! initiative the Synod has committed itself and all its members to grow in intentional mission development efforts; and

WHEREAS, Our Synod is blessed with faithful universities and seminaries who train the next generation of church workers for our rapidly changing cultures and ever-increasing mission field; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Synod in its 2007 convention encourages and directs universities and seminaries to place outreach to the lost as the top priority as they train workers for the harvest, preparing them to equip God’s people for the local and worldwide mission field. 
Can anyone see the intended benefit of this? Sure. Yet, had this resolution passed unamended, justification would have been under attack once again, though not intentionally. We need to be careful of unintended consequences. Lutherans have always considered justification the article upon which the Church stands or falls. This resolution would have given evidence that mission was more important than justification. Both have high importance, but justification is of higher importance. Without the Gospel, what is the content of our mission message?

Thankfully, "a" replaced "the" in the title and the resolution after a brief floor discussion and it was adopted.

This Lay Reader's Edition of Mission from the Cross is needed to give pastors and people alike a theological foundation for faithful Lutheran outreach at home and abroad.

Buy in bulk. Savor the text. Think about the study questions. Use it alongside the professional edition in a Bible Class.

Finally, read and make use of the addition of "A Simple Way of Witness" (103) unique to this edition and reproduced from The Lutheran Study Bible. It has been said that theology is for the sake of proclamation. Mission from the Cross: Lay Reader's Edition and its larger cousin get both the theology and proclamation right.

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