Monday, July 7, 2014

Quick Summaries: Belonging, Poverty, Stress, and Lutheranism



Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 


These are reviews for when you don't have all day 


to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.

Chute, Anthony L., Christopher W. Morgan, and Robert A. Peterson, Editors. Why We Belong: Evangelical Unity and Denominational Diversity. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 251 Pages. Paper. $18.99. (LHP)

Corzine, Jacob and Bryan Wolfmueller, editors. Theology is Eminently Practical: Essays in Honor of John T. Pless. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2012. 272 Pages. Paper. $16.95. (LHP)

DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 124 Pages. Paper. $11.99. (LHP)

Grudem, Wayne and Barry Asmus. Foreword by Rick Warren. The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 399 Pages. Paper. $30.00. (LHP unsol)

Jenson, Robert W. A Large Catechism. Delhi, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1991, 2013. 72 Pages. Paper. $6.00. (P)

Braaten, Carl E., Editor. Preaching and Teaching the Law and Gospel of God. Delhi, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2013. 174 Pages. Paper. $14.00. (LHPQ)

Bansemer, Richard F. Prayers of the People: Petitionary Prayers Guided by the Texts for the Day. Delhi, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2014. 197 Pages. Paper. $11.00. (L)

Hill, Kathryn Ann. To You It Has Been Given: The Parables of Jesus in Picture and Verse. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2011. 100 Pages. Paper. $13.95. (HQ)

Let's cover a lot of territory quickly.


- My cautious optimism about this book quickly became disappointment. Granted, "no contributor can speak for his denomination as a whole" (17). Authors who contribute this way should we aware of the consequences of their words. Two in particular worked against the unity concept of the book as a whole. Chute's essay fails to comprehend what was at stake for Luther, Lutherans, and Christendom at Marburg (49, 64). Sweeney's essay on Lutheranism (111ff)will disappoint Lutherans of every stripe I can think of. His comments on the LCMS and WELS were offensive to me, judgmental, and show a similar lack of depth of appreciate for the Sacrament as Chute (131). The back of the book promised me "natural without being negative" and failed. Good concept. Uneven execution. Not Recommended.


+ Notable names pay homage and give their thanks to the Lord for John T. Pless in this new release. Pless' imprint on each of the contributors is evident. One notes theological depth, Confessional commitment, and appropriate humor in the essays. All the essays in their own way speak to the habitus practicus of Lutheran pastoral care and practice, grounded in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion administered by one called into the Office of the Holy Ministry. Essayists highlight issues with James and Paul, apologetics, reason, Justification and atonement, Lutheran evangelical catholic identity, spiritual warfare, and the proper distinction between law and Gospel. Apart from sharing a Lutheran beverage and the typical accompanying incense with the good professor, this volume is an appropriate way to honor Rev. John Pless.

+ Winner of the 2014 Christian Book of the Year Award, Crazy Busy is an appropriate brief and personal book about the self-inflicted madness of the four-letter-word BUSY. Seven diagnoses help the reader put an end to "busyness as usual" (back cover). I have an appreciation for this author's writing style and previous books. There's a fundamental problem when "busy people can't handle long sermons" (110). As Martha. Ask Kevin DeYoung. He admits that he is a work in progress (14). Time is precious. We all need that Sunday rhythm (99). Life without God in Christ is meaningless. So is busyness. Recommended. We'll look for more from this author soon.

+ The Poverty of Nations was such a pleasant surprise, I thought of upgrading this title to a full review rather than one among many in a Quick Summary. My initial bias against the book was simple: I do not appreciate the theology, publicity, or pastoral practice of the author of the Foreword. I do not hold that against the authors, Grudem and Asmus. Their sustainable solution to deal with world poverty is local, national, and global in scope, paying respect to both common sense and the memory of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. The free market and political freedom have worked for the West. Why not try them in the rest of the world. Read Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, this volume, and work to promote the values of the Appendix (369).

/ I can both appreciate and disagree with the writing of Robert Jenson. On the Inspiration of Scripture was honest, yet too innovative for me. I can welcome the insights of Lutheran Slogans while differing with the author on details. Commandments, Creed, and Prayer form the foundation for his A Large Catechism. I cannot agree with multiple forms and meanings of marriage (11). His passion for the Holy Baptism is evident in his frustration about misuse (53). Finally, I must commend his good point about direct pastoral administration of the Sacrament of the Altar while rejecting a dual he/she pronoun on who may be ordained to the pastoral office (71). 

+ Designed for the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and easily adaptable for LCMS use in our Three Year Lectionary from Lutheran Service Book,  Rev. Bansemer's Prayers of the People provides the wider church Petitionary Prayers Guided by the Texts of the Day. Clearly a labor of love, the approach is similar to the Let Us Pray weekly prayers provided by LCMS Worship.  Prayers are adaptable and churchly, yet use fresh language chosen by the author based on his academic study, pastoral heart, and knowledge of the Bible texts for each day.

+/ Consisting of "Papers Delivered at the 2012 Theological Conference Sponsored by Lutheran CORE and NALC, August 15-16, 2012 at Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley, Minnesota," Carl E. Braaten serves greater Lutheranism by presenting this set of essays on Law and Gospel. Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic essayists hold forth, including Michael Horton and Jared Wicks. Schifrin's essay (151) highlights a progressive misunderstanding of what I/we in the LCMS mean about Scripture being holy, inerrant, and inspired. This straw man approach is disappointing. Wicks does well to connect Luther to Bernard of Clairvaux (65). Worth reading, but without many surprises. I am very thankful for the CORE and NALC continued dedication to meet to do theology together.
+ Closing on a strong positive note, this reviewer thanks the Lord for the latest release of the poetry/hymnody of prolific and gifted writer Kathryn Ann Hill. Hill's collection has 43 original metrical poems based on 42 NKJV parable texts accompanied by 19 wood engravings by John Everett Millais. A Scripture index is included plus a list of recommended hymn tunes (95) to sing these Parables of Jesus in Picture and Verse.  I personally resonated most with "The Prodigal Son" (80) and "The Talents" (49). Thank you to Lutheran Legacy for publishing this volume and sharing a copy of it with us. 

More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 

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 permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR

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