Luther, Martin and Philip Melanchthon. Edited by Edward A. Engelbrecht and Charles P. Schaum. Translations for Christopher J. Neuendorf and J. A. O. Preus II et al. Christian Freedom: Faith Working Through Love, A Reader's Edition. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 252 Pages. Cloth. $9.99 (Now on Sale.) http://www.cph.org/p-19300-christian-freedom-faith-working-through-love.aspx (LHP)
Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Edited and Arranged by Paul Strawn. A Christian Holy People: From Martin Luther's On the Councils and the Church. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2012. 114 Pages. Paper. $6.00. www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)
Amid the new books out about Martin Luther, we are pleased to highlight two by Dr. Luther.
This Spring, our congregation did an eleven week study of Luther's essay Christian Freedom using the new edition produced by Concordia.
I had done a similar study about ten years ago using the Fortress Press Facets edition, On Christian Liberty. The Concordia edition is simply a better translation, and it also makes use of the Latin edition of the treatise. It has far more resources to better understand the essay in the context it was written, as well as how the essay's ideas are further developed in Luther's writing.
And, it is also on sale again.
Our congregational study took place during Sunday morning Bible Class before Divine Service. Pastor and people took turns reading. Questions were asked and answered as we went along. I began with the essay itself, giving basic contextual information as necessary. We then read Luther's letter to Leo and the volume's introduction. Before wrapping up the series, we read selected portions of the commentary section, concluding by reading most of Melanchthon's Locus 24.
Attendance was strong throughout the study. I think the topic was timely because of national discussion about the Health Care Law and LCMS President Harrison's testimony before Congress about the HHS mandate.
We purchased 50 copies and only had one left over that we placed in the school library.
Luther's twin paradoxical theses gave me an opportunity to help teach the congregation how to think theologically:
A Christian is the freest lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
Luther's second thesis is a wonderful antidote to "cheap grace," hypocrisy, works righteousness, and misunderstanding the first thesis.
A portion of Luther's commentary on Isaiah provided a wonderful segue to our summer Bible Class topic: Jesus in the Book of Isaiah.
I love that Christian Freedom was offered in hardcover. I am amazed and thankful that such a quality volume was so affordable in hardcover. And was it planned that this volume was offered at the time it was in our new Synod blue? :)
We would love to see Christian Freedom for Kindle and LOGOS as soon as possible.
And how about "blue" essential Luther library volumes that include Dr. Luther's other 1520 treatises and Bondage of the Will?
Our friends at Lutheran Press have provided the church with seven "popular series" paperbacks of the best of Martin Luther's writings, edited for lay readers and divided into a modern "chapter" format with helpful study questions.
The latest to cross my desk was A Christian and Holy People, from Luther's On the Councils and the Church.
Those seeking a church home are given food for thought about what they should actually look for, those preparing to attend a District or Synod convention are given insight on a convention's true purpose and limits, parents and children are enlightened about their vocations, and readers of all kinds are given a wonderful preparatory reading in anticipation of a new CPH reader's edition of Walther's Church and Ministry.
The team of Holger Sonntag (translator) and Paul Strawn (editor and arranger) have given new life to a helpful short work of Luther on seven marks of the church that most Lutherans would not have otherwise read.
I commend Lutheran Press for this volume's pithy and thought-provoking afterword, as well as directing the reader to the full treatise in volume 41 of the American Edition of Luther's Works.
Both volumes show the blessings of a "reader's edition" of the most significant works of Luther. I pray for more of the same to come from Lutheran Press and Concordia Publishing House.
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.