Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick Summaries for mid November 2015: Overcoming False Dichotomies



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.

Ross, Melanie C. Foreword by Mark A. Noll. Evangelical Versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. 149 Pages. Paper. $17.00. (L)

Ludwig, David J. and Mary R. Jacob. Christian Concepts for Care: Understanding and Helping People with Mental Health Issues. St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 304 Pages. Paper. $24.99. (Currently on sale for $21.99.) (LHPN)

Music, David W. and Paul Westermeyer. Church Music in the United States 1760-1901. St. Louis: MorningStar Music Publishers, 2014. Published in partnership with the Center for Church Music, Concordia University Chicago. 311 Pages. Paper. $24.95. 1-800-647-2117. (LHP)

False dichotomies. What do I mean? Gospel Outreach OR Human Care, Faithful OR Mission-minded, Gospel-centered OR Liturgical, Spiritual OR Psychological. Such distinctions sinfully and unnecessarily divide the body of Christ.

Law and Gospel are to be properly distinguished. The LCMS historically has cared about doctrine so that a pure Biblical message could be shared in our mission to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching what Jesus gave us to cherish. Gospel outreach takes precedence, yet we care about human needs. The so-called social gospel is really no gospel at all. 

These books address important issues in the church today by overcoming false dichotomies (or failures to note true differences). 

+/ My experience with the publisher of Ross's Evangelical Versus Liturgical? has been mixed. I appreciate many of their Luther titles and reference books, yet have a trouble seeing eye-to-eye with any title related to worship. I commend the author and Eerdmans for noting that pitting "Evangelical" against "Liturgical" perpetuates a false dichotomy, one that continues to harm the church. The "Lutheran" teachings, practices, and teachers noted by this author are all at odds with much of the worship theology and practice of the LCMS. I felt much like an outsider looking in, though I appreciate the overall idea of the book. American Evangelicals and "free churches" have much to learn from one another. They are the intended primary audience of this text. More needs to be said on this topic to the benefit of all congregations, pastors, musicians, and Christians. 

+ Too many Christians see mental illness as either a spiritual issue OR a psychological issue. "Christian Concepts for Care serves as a resource to equip the Body of Christ to better understand and offer spiritual care for those with mental health issues-without feeling like they need a psychology degree" (back cover). People with mental illness need understanding, compassion, and BOTH spiritual and psychological help. They may need therapy and well-monitored medication. They especially need the Gospel. They need Word and Sacrament ministry. The authors will help caring family members, pastors, and Christians care for those in their midst who need the First Article gifts of God in addition to the means of grace. I personally appreciated the encouragement and practical advice of this book in giving pastoral care to a person in need earlier this fall. Recommended!


These essays by David W. Music and Paul Westermeyer discuss church music in the United States from the middle of the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth. Not a comprehensive history, they can be read singly or as a whole. Their insights into where we have been give perspective on where we may be called to go.

(Publisher's web site)

+ Hymnals contain much more than hymns. Rather than correcting a false dichotomy, this volume shows a proper division and contrast between kinds of Christian song that are usually misunderstood and misrepresented as being all alike, all "hymns." This delightful essay collection by Westermeyer and Music highlight the variety of Christian song used in the United States: elaborate psalmody, folk hymnody, camp meeting songs, Roman Catholic sacred music, anthems and solos, revival song, Sunday School hymns, Gospel song, African-American congregational song, Hymns Ancient and Mordern, spirituals of several varieties, the music of confessional revival, and Lutheran Chorales. Essay 11, "Out of the Mainstream," is alone worth the price of the book. Here you will hear of Mormons, Moravians, and the Missouri  Synod Lutherans. Highly Recommended!

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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