Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lutheran Book Review: Education, Heaven, and Church Music for Guitar


Strelan, John G. Where Earth Meets Heaven: A Commentary on Revelation. Eugene, OR/Adelaide, AUSTRALIA: Wipf & Stock/OpenBook, 1997/2007. 402 Pages. Paper. $44.00. (P)

Ashmon, Scott A., Editor. The Idea and Practice of a Christian University: A Lutheran Approach. St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 336 Pages. Paper. $39.99 (On sale for $34.99). (LHP)

Baue, Fred. Lutheran Service Book: Guitar Accompaniment for the Liturgy - Downloadable. St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 135 Pages. PDF. $59.99. (L)

In one way or another, this reviewer has been (patiently) waiting to see these books. The first has been a wishlist item since 2007. The second was on my "I'd sure like to see a book about..." list. And the third? I've been wanting that book since my first guitar lesson in 1982.


Revelation presents a view of reality different from the usual: the world according to God. It reveals that, since the death and resurrection of Christ, God is creating all things new. The relevance of the book for today is that it challenges Christians about where their ultimate allegiance lies. Revelation shows that it is in worship--where earth meets heaven--that Christians still participate in God's judging and saving activity in the world.

This commentary uses language that is simple and clear, avoiding technical terms. It gives an explanation of the text that is sound and reliable, easy to understand without being superficial.

John G. Strelan is a retired parish pastor, missionary, New Testament scholar, occasional hymn writer, and former First Vice-President of the Lutheran Church of Australia. He was a long-term lecturer at Lutheran seminaries in Papua New Guinea and South Australia and a visiting lecturer in Erlangen, Germany; Edmonton, Canada; and Singapore. He also served on several key theological commissions in PNG and Australia, including Australia's Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. He is the retired editor of the Lutheran Theological Journal, and has authored NT commentaries and an important book on the theological themes of Melanesian cargo cult. (Publisher's Website)

Recommended to me by an active member of my current congregation who has family in Australia, Where Earth Meets Heaven will join Dr. Brighton's commentary on Revelation ( for our next long-term congregational Sunday morning Bible study on that book.

The commentary reads like a Bible class on Revelation. I've never met Rev. Strelan, but I can imagine his presentation style. His experience is broad, his Scriptural knowledge extensive. And he appears to be able to put the best construction on even the most curious personalities and sources.

Thank you to Wipf and Stock by returning this title to print!

It says a lot to me that this book is dedicated to John Kleining, author of

We turn from a reference to a Concordia title to a title from Concordia Publishing House.


Uncover a holistic vision of Christian higher education from academics to athletics and regents to students. This book offers a biblical, Lutheran view of higher education that's rooted in the interaction of faith and learning. Each chapter shows how Lutheran Christian education is oriented toward the students' cultivation of wisdom and vocation for freedom to serve society, nature, and the Church.

Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter.

"This is an extremely illuminating book that will be of great help to our universities and to the LCMS as a whole. At a time when synodical universities are struggling with 'Lutheran Identity,' this book serves as a template for faculty, administrators, boards, and students for how that can be achieved and for how that identity can help colleges to be truly excellent at every level."

—Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Professor of Literature, Patrick Henry College

About the Editor
Rev. Dr. Scott A. Ashmon is Director of Core Curriculum at Concordia University Irvine. He is also Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew.

Contributors include Russell Dawn, Jeff Mallinson, Steven P. Mueller, Korey D. Maas, Bret Taylor, Mary Scott, Cindy Steinbeck, James V. Bachman, Jack M. Schultz, Roderick B. Soper, Michael E. Young, Christopher "Kit" Nagel, Kerri L. Tom, Peter Senkbeil, Jonathan Ruehs, Scott Keith, Gilbert Fugitt, and Timothy Preuss. (Publisher's Website)

I include Dr. Veith's endorsement because he and I both serve as permanent directors on the board for the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education. He was a founding director and remains one of my favorite living Lutheran authors. At a time in our national and synodical history when education in general needs to return to his classical roots, The Idea and Practice of a Christian University shows the wider church what can and should be expected from the colleges and universities of the LCMS Concordia University System.

Volume Editor Scott A. Ashmon contributes Chapter One, "The Purpose of A Christian University: A Lutheran Vision." He deftly handles modern and historic questions about conflict between "a liberal and [so-called] Useful Education" (4ff; 9ff; 16ff; Korcok quote, 20), culminating in a restatement of the goal of education for Lutherans (26). I look forward to his presentation at the July 2016 CCLE Conference at CTSFW.

  • How did the Concordia system become the way it is? Why? Consider footnote 68 on 58.
  • How and why did CUI begin its own refocus on a true liberal arts education? Turn to 137ff.
  • How does Luther connect with economists Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek? Read 214ff.
  • Resolve the question of whether everyone can rightly be called a minister beginning on p. 270.
  • "Given the Christian diversity on a Lutheran campus" (280), the Lord's Supper is a point of contention and controversy. Read Jonatan Ruehs' own recommendation.
  • How can a confessional Lutheran institution faithfully address issues relating to human sexuality? See note 26 on 293.

CPH has done the church a service in providing this title on these topics for such a time as this. 

Finally, a title I've waited for since 1982, the year of my first guitar lesson: Lutheran Service Book Guitar Accompaniment for the Liturgy.


Guitar chords provided for all services in Lutheran Service Book in an easy-to-print downloadable format. The melody line of all music is provided with chords above the staff. Chords have been set to be compatible with the keyboard accompaniments. Chord analysis compiled and edited by Frederic W. Baue.


  • Psalm Tones
  • Divine Service, Setting One
  • Divine Service, Setting Two
  • Divine Service, Setting Three
  • Divine Service, Setting Four
  • Matins
  • Vespers
  • Morning Prayer
  • Evening Prayer
  • Compline—Prayer at the Close of Day
  • Service of Prayer and Preaching (Publisher's Website)

Yes, this is a downloadable resource. Yes, it is worth it! 

I have personally played through the entire volume and have used some of the Psalm Tones, DS3, Matins, Morning Prayer, and Evening Prayer for corporate worship at my congregation as a fill-in "six string organist." The chord progressions are the same, yet may be inversions to the historic hymnal arrangements to accommodate the guitar.

This is not guitar music for church. This is church music for guitar! It can be appropriately and reverently played for Lutheran worship.

Don't expect (only) "three chords and the truth." This is rigorous, substantive, yet accessible music. It will take practice, but it will be worth it. 
The arranger, Rev. Frederic Baue, concludes the introduction (6) in this way:

So by all means, play the guitar in church. Play this liturgical music. Play it well. Write new church music for the guitar. It has taken its rightful place in the concert hall. Now, it is time for it to take its rightful place in the church. Its intimate voice touches a place in the human heart no other instrument can reach. Let all be done, in the words of J. S. Bach (who also played the lute and wrote for it), Soli Deo Gloria: "To the glory of God alone."

Do yourself a favor and order this resource, download it, print it in color on nice paper, and set it up in the LSB liturgical binder:

This LSB volume could also be used as  "lead sheet edition" for piano or organ like the previously-released volume of hymns ( I've found such use helpful to me as one with some limited piano lessons. Play the melody on right hand and play the piano 101 chords (noted above the melody) with the left.

Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

View article...