Siemon-Netto, Uwe. The Acquittal of God: A Theology for Vietnam Veterans. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2008. 107 Pages. Paper. $13.00. www.wipfandstock.com (P)
Preus, Peter. And She Was a Christian: Why Do Believers Commit Suicide? Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2011. 183 Pages. Paper. $25.99. http://online.nph.net/p-9606-and-she-was-a-christian.aspx (LHP)
Schuermann, Katie. Collects by Deaconess Melissa A. DeGroot. He Remembers the Barren. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy 2011. 116 Pages. Paper. $14.95. www.lutheranlegacy.org http://heremembersthebarren.com/ (LHP)
Pastors deal with difficult issues nearly every day. Some are more challenging than others. Though issues like these may need to be faced more infrequently than others, they still need to be faced with the Law and comforted with the Gospel of God's Word.
I have personally used Uwe Siemon-Netto's The Acquittal of God when providing pastoral care to Veitnam veterans as well as vets from other conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan. So many feel so burdened after killing in war. After all, were they not taught, "Thou shalt not kill"? I urge them to examine the updated and more accurate translation of the commandment: "You shall not murder." Such a translation is what the Hebrew of the commandment actually says, draws an appropriate distinction between capital punishment, just war, and mere murder, and is more Biblical. In addition, military personnel (and contractors) who kill outside the line of duty are subject to charges of murder.
Most pastors I know don't have to deal with suicide very often. And She Was a Christian should be required reading so that pastors are prepared when they need to provide Biblical comfort to the grieving and support to prevent suicide where possible.
Why do believers commit suicide? The answer is complex. Pastor Peter Preus does the whole church a service in telling the story of his own wife. I could not have been an easy book to write. I pray that the comfort of the Communion of Saints, Forgiveness of Sins, Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting is supplemented by the comfort of helping others through his own traumatic experiences and theological reflections.
The entire book was helpful to me, but I wish to highlight Part Two's chapters for special commendation. Part Two covers "The Church's Case Against the Suicide." Harsh, right?
Chapters One and Two bring the reader through "Posthumous Judgments of Yesterday and Today" and "Modern Theology and a Thriving Stigma," one that applies to mental illness in general. Christians know that Faith Plus "Anything" is unacceptable theology, for it states that there is something inside us (and/or in addition to Jesus) necessary for us to be saved. Chapters Three through Six address Faith Plus...Obedience, Reason, Self-Esteem, and Optimism. All are false Gospels that human beings know well and sometimes apply to the Church and especially to suicides.
There is Gospel hope for the hopeless. I am thankful for the comfort author Peter Preus provided to me that I could share in a future time of need.
Barrenness is a difficult topic for many couples to face. Well-meaning friends and Wannabe-grandparents may not always understand. I recommend Katie Shuermann's book and blog for all who struggle with infertility and those who love them.
Readers can post their own questions. I can identify with the concerns of this question: http://heremembersthebarren.com/2012/02/22/christian-man-to-man-advice-about-dealing-with-barrenness/. This book is just the beginning. It has been a great source of Christological comfort of me. I am now a regular reader of the author's blog of the same title.
My wife and I have been married since 1997 and we have been a family of two since then. I am grateful for understanding congregations and for the support of our parents. Adoption has not yet been a realistic option for us. My current call allows for be to have sixteen children as Headmaster of a Classical and Lutheran School. Being a pastor has allowed be to be the father of many in the faith. My wife is very generous in volunteering her time to be school librarian and help in countless other ways in the congregation.
Difficult issues will always be with us because of the valley of the shadow that is our home in this earthly life. All three of these resources are highly recommended because they consistently point us to our dual identity as sinner-saints, remind us of the forgiveness, hope, and salvation we have in Christ alone, and point us heavenward while living in Christ and sharing his love here on earth in our vocations.
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.