Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Received for Review



Gilbert, Richard, F.C.A. The Nicene Creed According to the Scriptures. New Reformation Press. Trifold Pamphlet. www.newreformationpress.com


Locklair, Valerie. Called to Defend: An Apologetics Handbook for the Middle School Student. New Reformation Press. Cloth. 249 Pages. www.newreformationpress.com


Giertz, Bo. Translated by Bror Erickson. Romans: A Devotional Commentary (Excerpted from the New Testament Devotional Commentaries Series). New Reformation Press. 97 Pages. Paper. www.newreformationpress.com  www.1517legacy.com


Keith, Scott. Meeting Melanchthon: A Brief Biographical Sketch of Phillip Melanchthon and a Few Examples of His Writing.  New Reformation Press. 87 Pages. Paper. www.newreformationpress.com  www.1517legacy.com

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Received for Review



Manetsch, Scott M., Editor. Timothy George, General Editor. Scott M. Manetsch, Associate General Editor. 1 Corinthians (Reformation Commentary on Scripture, New Testament IXa). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017. 508 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. https://www.ivpress.com/1-corinthians-rcs (P)


George, Timothy. Reading Scripture with the Reformers. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011. 270 Pages. Paper. $18.00. https://www.ivpress.com/reading-scripture-with-the-reformers (P)


Hall, Christopher A. Living Wisely with the Church Fathers. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017. 274 Pages. Paper. $24.00. https://www.ivpress.com/living-wisely-with-the-church-fathers


Crosby, Cindy, Editor. General Editor Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings, Lectionary Cycle A. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007. 294 Pages. Paper. $20.00. https://www.ivpress.com/ancient-christian-devotional-lectionary-cycle-a 


Crosby, Cindy, Editor. General Editor Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings, Lectionary Cycle B. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011. 303 Pages. Paper. $20.00. https://www.ivpress.com/ancient-christian-devotional-lectionary-cycle-b 


Crosby, Cindy, Editor. General Editor Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings, Lectionary Cycle C. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009. 304 Pages. Paper. $20.00. https://www.ivpress.com/ancient-christian-devotional-lectionary-cycle-c



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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Lutheran Book Review: The Cross Proclaimed and Endured


Kellemen, Bob. Counseling under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2017. Paper. 246 Pages. $19.99. http://stores.newgrowthpress.com/counseling-under-the-cross/

Selderhuis, Herman. Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. Wheaton: Crossway, 2017. ADVANCE READER COPY received. Final Cloth edition received. 320 Pages, $35.00. https://www.crossway.org/books/martin-luther-hcj/

Six months after 31 October 2017, the Reformation of Martin Luther lives on!

We previous read counseling advice from Bob Kellemen in the brief book on anxiety.

Now he turns his attention to mining Luther for help in pastoral counseling.

Martin Luther was not only a theologian, a writer, and a preacher, he was a pastoral counselor who longed for peace with God. Now, 500 years after he posted his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church, his teachings on gospel-centered and cross-focused pastoral care can transform our approach to soul care, and teach us that daring faith in Christ alone can change our life today and give us peace forever.


In Counseling Under the Cross, biblical counselor and noted author Bob Kellemen mines the riches of Luther's letters of spiritual counsel to give readers a new understanding of how Luther engaged in the personal ministry of the gospel. He guides pastors, counselors, lay leaders, and friends toward a deeper understanding of the gospel that will directly impact their personal ministry to others. Through lively vignettes, real-life stories, and direct quotes from Luther, readers will be equipped to apply the gospel to themselves and others, and learn that pastoral care is what every believer does in one-another ministry.

As one of the most influential figures in Christian history, Luther was not only the father of the Reformation, he was also the father of "gospel-centered counseling." As sons and daughters in the faith, we have much to learn from him. Counseling Under the Cross equips us to apply the gospel richly, relevantly, and robustly to suffering and sin so that we find our hope and help in Christ alone.

Bob Kellemen, PhD, is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chair of the Biblical Counseling Department at Crossroads Bible College and the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. He is the author of many books, including Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily LifeGospel-Centered Counseling and Gospel Conversations. Bob and his wife Shirley have two children and two grandchildren.
(Publisher's Website)

Upon receiving Counseling Under the Cross, the author's name seemed familiar. I personally purchased Robert Kellemen's Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure, a booklet that is part of P&R's The Gospel for Real Life Series. It was helpful to me in some recent pastoral counseling cases. New Growth Press gives us a title reminiscent of Tappert's Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, yet with more guidance for pastors and counselors. 


I do disagree with the author's "Tweet-Size Summary" of Chapter 11: "Faith Active in Love: Luther's Methodology of Guiding >> Christian pilgrims progress in their sanctification journey by exercising their heart in the gospel victory narrative by trekking toward the gospel pole of faith active in love." Luther wouldn't speak that way. He would describe sanctification in the language of vocation as he does in Christian Freedom: A Christian is the freest lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, subject to all. The "pilgrim" language is anachronistic to Luther. The author does mention The Freedom of a Christian in the main text of Chapter 11 (199ff), yet with a different emphasis than I would provide as a Lutheran. 


Given the objection above, I recommend this title for seminarians and pastors. Consider: "As the title of this book suggests, Martin Luther's counseling is gospel-centered and cross-focused. It is grace-filled and gospel-rich…In a hundred different ways you will see what I saw—Luther richly, relevantly, robustly, relationally applying the gospel to suffering, sin, sanctification, and people's search for peace with God" (3). On pages 12-13 he introduces the helpful concept of Anfectungen, helpfully connecting the term to Luther's own concerns and pastoral care, especially with regard to justification and reconciliation (26). By pages 106 and 107, Anfectungen makes room for faith in Christ. The Gospel predominates in the chart on page 57. A Lutheran would connect the individual to the body of Christ as the author does (91), yet more so to Word and Sacrament of Christ rather than pietism's small groups (91ff). 

Luther ended like he began—with Christ's gospel of grace. He sandwiched gospel indicatives around gospel imperatives. When Satan tempts us to despair, we do not look ultimately to our self, but ultimately and always to Christ: "When the devil casts up to us our sin, and declares us worthy of death and hell, we must say: 'I confess that I am worthy of death and hell. What more do you have to say?' 'Then you will be lost forever!' 'Not in the least: for I know One who suffered for me and made satisfaction for my sins, and his name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So long as he shall live, I shall live also' (194).


We now turn from Luther quoted and applied to today to Luther explained for today in an English translation of a major Danish biography.

Famous for setting in motion the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther is often lifted high as a hero or condemned as a rebel. But underneath it all, he was a man of flesh and blood, with a deep longing to live for God.


This biography by respected Reformation scholar Herman Selderhuis captures Luther in his original context and follows him on his spiritual journey, from childhood through the Reformation to his influential later years. Combining Luther's own words with engaging narrative designed to draw the reader into Luther's world, this spiritual biography brings to life the complex and dynamic personality that forever changed the history of the church.

Herman Selderhuis is professor of church history at the Theological University Apeldoorn in the Netherlands and director of Refo500, the international platform focused on raising awareness for projects related to the legacy of the Reformation. He also serves as the director of the Reformation Research Consortium, president of the International Calvin Congress, and curator of research at the John à Lasco Library in Emden, Germany. He is the author or editor of several books, including John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life. (Publisher's Website)


Crossway provided us with both an Advance Reader Copy and final hardcover of Herman Selderhuis' Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. We note no significant changes between the two. Endorsements adorn the front pages of the final edition as well as the intended General Index and Scripture Index.


What exactly is a spiritual biography? I understand the term to focus the subject's life in Christ, covering struggle, theology, practice, and consolation. A Calvinist, Selderhuis gives his own spin on the seventeenth century English non-fiction prose genre of an autobiographical narrative that "follows the believer from a state of damnation to a state of grace." Ten chapters follow Luther from child, student, and monk to exegete, theologian, and architect and finally reformer, father, professor, and prophet (9). "This book is translated from the original Dutch version" © 2016 (8).


"The fear of being lost forever, the fear of God, and his consciousness of sin and guilt led to a zealous study of Scripture in the hope that he [Luther] would find peace and rest" (54). This is well stated. Luther's visit to Rome disappointed him (71). Romans, however, became "the most important book in the new testament for him" (77). 


I'm not surprised that it was a Roman Catholic that claimed that Luther didn't nail the 95 Theses to the Church door (100). I am surprised at how trendy it is to doubt this event. This author tends to be more fair and balanced in his assessment of the event in that he allows for 1) an actual "nailing" of Luther's Theses, 2) that the door was truly the public bulletin board, and 3) that a university "beadle" likely did the nailing rather than Luther. That said, I hold to the historicity of Luther nailing the theses himself. There appears to be a correlation (among self-described Lutheran theologians) between belief or doubt in the event's historicity and in belief or doubt in authority and sufficiency of Scripture (see the 2017 documentary film Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World).

For a personal assessment of Luther the man at the time of the Leipzig Disputation by Mosellanus, see 128-129. The initial sentence of Chapter 6 (135) struck me wrong. Yet, I concede that with regard to being and architect and leaving it "to others to build on what he established" I must concede as at least partially true. He wrote his catechisms (230) in part because others did not follow through on his request for them to do the work. Some took up the task of writing new hymns, yet Luther wrote several dozen himself 210).


That Luther did or did not say the words "Here I stand, I can do no other" (159ff) is less controversial to me than the posting of the 95 Theses. Rome had pushed Luther across a red line. They would not tell him where he erred. They would not allow him to distinguish between what he saw as three groups of books. 


The author's account and assessment of Marburg (especially 238-240) is more fair than most from a Lutheran perspective. My favorite remains This Is My Body by Sasse. It all should come down to faith rather than doubt or speculation about what Christ said Himself.


Reform of the Sacrament of the Altar went hand-in-hand with a German translation of the New Testament (170ff). One of my favorite paintings depicts this time in his life, with Luther, his family, and Melanchthon gathered around Luther playing a lute (211). 


Professor Luther knew Scripture and how to apply it to life. (251). "Prophet" Luther (Chapter 10) is a bit more jarring picture, even for Lutherans who have heard Walther interpret Revelation's Angel with an Eternal Gospel to proclaim. We Lutherans are far more familiar with the pattern set by Luther in ordaining the first Lutheran bishop: "Luther conducted this ordination but with a transformed ritual that reflected Luther's views of the bishop as a normal minister. Everything else remained the same, as if the bishop carried out his work of supervision, pastorate, and preaching" (297).


This is one of the best recent Luther biographies I've read. I'm still stuck in the middle of the Metaxas volume. It would be nearly impossible for one person to read them all!



The Lutheran Reformation lives on. Our intent was to complete and publish this review by the 500th Anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses, but parish duties intervened. We had twelve deaths in the congregation between our reception of the ARC and the day I write. Reform of the Church, returning to the Word as sole authority for faith and life, and hearing Christ are not activities for merely one quincentennial day, but for our ongoing daily theology, teaching, practice, and pastoral care.


Rev. Paul J Cain is Senior 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 Lutheran Education, Secretary of the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a member of its Board of Directors, Wyoming District Education Chairman/NLSA Commissioner, and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. He has served as an LCMS Circuit Visitor, District Worship Chairman and District Evangelism Chairman. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion volumes, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He is an occasional guest on KFUO radio. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. Rev. Cain is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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Reformation Worship, Dogmatics, and Cicero




Gibson, Jonathan and Mark Earngey, Editors. Foreword by Sinclair Ferguson. Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2018. 688 Pages. Cloth. $69.99. ($34.99 on sale.) https://newgrowthpress.com/reformation-worship-liturgies-from-the-past-for-the-present/

Beckwith, Carl L. The Holy Trinity (Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics Volume III). Fort Wayne: The Luther Academy, 2016. 412 Pages. Paper. http://lutheracademy.com/lutheran-dogmatics/

Springer, Carl P. E. Cicero in Heaven: The Roman Rhetor and Luther's Reformation. Brill, 2017. ebook received for review. Cloth copy also received. $132.00.  http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/books/9789004355194

Liturgy, the Trinity, and Cicero. That's quite a lineup this time.

Do buy this volume while it is still on sale:

Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present is an unique volume. I have not seen anything like it except Volume 53 of the American Edition of Luther's Works (Liturgy and Hymns. J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.) or Robert Webber's Complete Library of Christian Worship, Volume II, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship. Neither of those resources is as compact or comprehensive as that before us by editors Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey. Webber has fewer examples of Reformation liturgies and they are often outlines or excerpts. The translation of LW 53 is often at issue.


Click here to read a sample of this book.

Transforming Christian Worship - Twenty-six liturgies, including historical introductions that provide fresh analysis into their origins, are invaluable tools for pastors and worship leaders as they seek to craft public worship services in the great tradition of the early Reformers.

Christians learn to worship from the generations of God's people who have worshipped before them.

We sing Psalms, because thousands of years ago, God's people sang them. 500 years ago, the leaders of the Reformation transformed Christian worship with the active participation and understanding of the individual worshiper. Christian worship today is built on this foundation. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey have made Reformation worship accessible, by compiling the most comprehensive collection of liturgies from that era, newly translated into modern English from the original German, Dutch, French, Latin, and early English.

The structure of the liturgies, language, and rhythm continue to communicate the gospel in Word and Sacrament today. They provide a deep sense of God's call to worship and an appreciation for the Reformers as, first and foremost, men who wanted to help God's people worship. This book will also be of great interest to theological scholars and students who wish to understand early Reformation leaders. A useful tool for individuals, Reformation Worship, can be used as a powerful devotional to guide daily prayer and reflection.

By providing a connection to the great men of the Reformation, Gibson and Earngey hope that through their work readers will experience what John Calvin described to be the purpose of all church worship: To what end is the preaching of the Word, the Sacraments, the holy congregations themselves, and indeed the whole external government of the church, except that we may be united to God?


Jonathan Gibson (PhD, Cambridge) is ordained in the International Presbyterian Church, UK, and is Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. He is co-editor with Mark Earngey of Reformation Worship, contributor to and co-editor with David Gibson of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, and Covenant Continuity and Fidelity: A Study of Inner-Biblical Allusion and Exegesis in Malachi. He is married to Jacqueline, and they have two children: Benjamin and Leila.


Mark Earngey (DPhil candidate, Oxford) is ordained in the Anglican Church of Australia (Diocese of Sydney) and is is a doctoral candidate in historical theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University.  He is co-editor with Jonathan Gibson of Reformation Worship.  Mark is married to Tanya, and they have three children: Grace, Simeon, and Sophia.

(Publisher's website)

Martin Luther is the author featured in RW Chapter 4 (Form of the Mass, 1523; German Mass 1526). Luther's liturgical reform is conservative. He retains what may be done without sin. He highlights both the hearing and preaching of the Word (115-121) and the Sacrament of the Altar (e.g., 124-5). He removes the canon of the Mass and the invocation of the saints. His focus was Christ. Matthias Mangold (xxxivff) provides a new translation of Luther's German Mass and Michael Hunter freshly translates Luther's Form of the Mass (xxxvi). That this was done is commendable, and reminiscent of a proposed "new" edition of AELW 53 for which donations were solicited through the Good Shepherd Institute of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne years ago. (I am told that this may still be in the works.  While we Lutherans wait, we have RW as well as https://www.cph.org/p-6291-Martin-Luther-Hymns-Ballads-Chants-Truth-CD.aspx and https://www.cph.org/p-30634-the-hymns-of-martin-luther.aspx).  


RW is a great service to Lutherans like me and our readers, a chance to double-check the 1965-published translations of the 1523 by Paul Zeller Strodach (revised by Ulrich S. Leupold)  and the 1526 by Augustus Steimle (also revised by Ulrich S. Leupold). Additionally, musical notation for the 1526 German Mass was done by Joseph Waggoner (xxxvi).


"In translating the liturgies contained in this book, we have adhered to one basic principle: to provide a translation of liturgical texts that faithfully renders the original meaning, but in the English language and punctuation of the twenty-first century that is easy on the modern eye and ear, and conducive to the modern mind. We have also made some formatting adjustments to headings and rubrics where it was deemed necessary" (xxiii-xxiv).

LCMS Lutherans used to The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, or Lutheran Service Book will immediately see the connection between what congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have as liturgies in the hymnals in their pew racks and what Luther intended. If it were possible for Luther himself to visit us on a Sunday morning, he would note much that would be familiar to him.


Robert Kolb is thanked in the Acknowledgements (xxix) "for feedback on the historical introductions" to Luther's liturgies.


The other liturgies contained in the volume are more Calvinist/Reformed and therefore of less interested to Lutherans. One will note changes in the Book of Common Prayer (for a variety of reasons) between 1549 and 1552 (342) even before the more significant changes of 1559 (the infamous "black rubric," outside the scope of this book).


LBR asks "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?". Having Martin Luther's two main works of liturgical reform in a 2018 translation is alone reason for our readers (largely Lutheran pastors, musicians, and confessional laypeople) to purchase, use, and treasure this book.


The authors would have Christians today be more intentional about how they worship when they do. "Our greatest need is for worship in Spirit as well as in truth today. But the liturgies here should stimulate us to careful thought, and cause us to ask how we can apply their principles today in a way that echoes their Trinitarian, Christ-centered, biblically informed content, so that our worship, in our place and time, will echo the gospel content and rhythm they exhibit" (xix). Elsewhere they state, "The argument of this book on Reformation worship is irenic. The liturgies collated and presented here are a subtle encouragement for the modern church to reflect critically on how she worships today" (48).


Yes, purchase this book! Save up for it if you need to, but invest in Reformation Worship from New Growth Press.

And now, the latest volume in an appreciated Lutheran set!

I am encouraged that new volumes are once again appearing in the series.

A Dogmatics Resource Based Upon the Outline
and Thought Pattern of the Lutheran Confessions

About the Series . . .

"In the fall of 1984, Dr. Robert Preus, the president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, presented his plans to some of his colleagues for a series to be called Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics. These volumes were to supplement and not replace Francis Pieper's Christian Dogmatics. They were to be directed to pastors, seminary students, and all with an interest in confessional Lutheran theology." From the Preface to Baptism, by David P. Scaer.


From the General Introduction by Robert D. Preus, General Editor, 1984-95:

"For some time now those of us in the Lutheran church who have interested ourselves in the Lutheran Confessions, taught from them, and conducted research in these great symbolic writings have recognized the need for a dogmatics resource based upon the outline and thought pattern of the Lutheran Confessions. Such a resource, heretofore available only in Leonard Hutter's little Compendium Locorum Theologicorum, would address theologians of our day with a truly confessional answer to the theological issues we are facing in Christianity and in our Lutheran Zion today. We were in no way interested in replacing as a textbook in our Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Francis Pieper's monumental Christian Dogmatics, which has served students in our church body and others for three generations. Such an endeavor would have been unnecessary and unproductive. The authors of the various monographs in this Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series come at their respective subjects from somewhat different vantage points and backgrounds and personal predilections as they practice dogmatics. It was decided, therefore, to issue a series of dogmatics treatises on the primary articles of faith usually taken up in traditional dogmatics since the sixteenth century . . .

The volumes making up Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics are not a theology of the Lutheran Confessions; they are rather a series in dogmatics. They differ from other dogmatics books in that they are patterned strictly after the theology of the Book of Concord as they address the issues of today. They follow not only the theology of the Book of Concord, . . . the authors of the present volumes follow the actual pattern of thought (forma et quasi typus . . .) of the Lutheran Confessions. Such a procedure is according to the principle of the Confessions themselves; creeds and confessions are indeed a pattern and norm according to which all other books and writings are to be accepted and judged. This fact will account for the agreement in both doctrine and formulation that the reader will observe within the present entire dogmatics series; the authors bind themselves not only generally to the theology of the Book of Concord, but to its content and terminology (rebus et phrasibus). . . .

As a confessional Lutheran dogmatics, the present volume will consciously and scrupulously draw its doctrine from Scripture. All the Confessions, beginning with the creeds and concluding with the Formula of Concord, claim to be and are direct explications of Sacred Scripture. As such, their purpose is never to lead us away from Scripture, nor to summarize the Scriptures in such a way as to make their further study unnecessary. They are written to lead us into the Scriptures….

The Lutheran Confessions themselves never claim to be the final work on the understanding and exegesis of the Scriptures; we recall Luther's statement on oratio, meditatio, tentatio with its blasts against theological know-it-alls and how often this statement of Luther's was repeated by the post-Reformation theologians in their dogmatics works. The Confessions always lead deeper into the Scriptures, especially as new issues arise in new cultures and succeeding generations which must be faced only with theology drawn from the Scriptures and patterned after the Lutheran Confessions.

The volumes in this series are dedicated to Francis Pieper, a great confessional Lutheran dogmatician of our church, in the hope and prayer that they will help to achieve what he did so much to accomplish in his day–namely, doctrinal unity and consensus in the doctrine of the Gospel and all its articles among all Lutherans and a firm confessional Lutheran identity so sorely needed in our day."

(Publisher's website)


In the nine months I've lived with Carl Beckwith's Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics volume on The Holy Trinity, my appreciation of the volume has grown. I am thankful that more volumes of this series are soon to be completed and available. I am thankful to have a dogmatics series that is "based on the outline and thought pattern of the Lutheran Confessions. I am also thankful for authors who take the Scriptures seriously as God's Word.


Modernity (1, passim) is a challenge to the confession of the Church. We begin not with a natural knowledge of God or human opinion, but with God's own Word. What Christians confess is grounded in that certainty. The national motto, "In God We Trust," deserves a follow-up question, "Which one?" Unionism and syncretism are grounded in uncertainty. Confessional Lutheran Christians emphasize "God's revelation of Himself in Christ—'All other ground is sinking sand' (TLH 370)" (40). Amen to that!


Quotable sermon fodder: "If you find that you cannot talk about the Trinity without also talking about baptism, then you will be at home in the thought world of the Fathers and the Lutheran reformers. If you find that you can talk about the Trinity without even mentioning your baptism, then you will be at home in the thought world of the schoolmen" (44 note 11).


Page 64 is rich in quotes. Sasse: " There is, thank God, no specific Lutheran doctrine on the Trinity." "Assigning positive value to a knowledge of God apart from Christ and His cross belongs to scholasticism, not Lutheranism." Schlink: "the doctrine of the Trinity is the basis for all statements of the Lutheran Confessions." Luther: "Therefore he who wants to ascend advantageously to the love and knowledge of God should abandon the human metaphysical rules concerning the knowledge of the divinity and apply himself first to the humanity of Christ. For it is exceedingly godless temerity that, where God has humiliated Himself in order to become recognizable, man seeks for himself another way by following the counsels of his own natural capacity."


What is the Lutheran approach to the Trinity? Beckwith asserts: Luther was not a systematic theologian. He did not order his theology according to the norms of his day. He offers no doctrine of God apart from the Trinity. He does not start with the natural knowledge and then proceed to revealed knowledge. It is of no use for a person a "to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he also recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross." Talk of God's power and glory requires talk of God's weakness on the cross. Such talk makes sense only to the person of faith, to the one justified by God and clothed in the righteousness of Christ. God and faith always belong together for Luther (71).


At Heidelberg, Luther identified two kinds of theologians, the theologian of the cross and the theologian of glory. "The theolgus crucis speaks according to God's self communication in Jesus Christ, which means that God's revelation sets the terms for the discussion—both its possibility and its limits" (90). To better understand why some blame Luther for the evils of modernity, read the Conclusion to Part One (110ff).


Part Two "demonstrates the scriptural identity of the Trinity" (113). "According to the Fathers and the reformers, if we wish to know God, to speak properly about Him and His work on our behalf, we must look to the Scriptures and faithfully expound them" (117). Scholarship and piety find common cause in citing Luther's Psalm 130 hymn: "Though great our sins and sore our woes, His grace much more aboundeth; His helping love no limit knows, Our utmost need it soundeth. Our Shepherd good and true is He, Who will at last His Israel free From all their sin and sorrow" (137, TLH 329:5). 

A full discussion of the Trinity includes theophanies: The Angel of YHWH (143ff). How did the Magi know the Christ child? Read note 7 on page 173 for insights from Gerhard, Chemnitz, and Luther. None of the three allowed for natural knowledge alone. Similarly, the conclusion to Chapter 8 on Father and Son points us to the Word: In this chapter we focused on the more dogmatic and precise presentations of Christ's identity. These texts, like those in the previous chapter, place Christ at the center of our confession of God's scriptural identity. We know the Father only through the Son; we know the Son by the Holy Spirit, whom both the father and the Son send to us. Moreover, the texts in this chapter emphasize again the necessity of the Old Testament for our understanding of the person and work of Christ. God alone determines His identity, and this He providentially preserves for us in His Scriptures. Finally, the New Testament makes clear that God's identity is fully revealed at the cross. It is at this very point that we come to know the glory of God in the crucified Christ, seeing our reconciliation with the Father through the saving work of the Son. This we know, confess, sing, and pray by the power of the Holy Spirit" (216-7).


The baptismal formula is discussed (225ff) in the same chapter on The Holy Spirit that the author takes to task those who would deny the Trinity as biblical (see 241ff). The filioque gets its turn in chapter 11, particularly 248 within 245ff. Would Eastern Orthodoxy object to John 16:7 for the Son's "sending" of the Spirit?


Part three sets for a simple rule: "Scripture both warrants and determines the church's talk about God" (267). The filioque returns on page 297 as Lutheran dogmaticians conclude that distinguishing the persons of the Trinity has to do with the order of the persons and their eternal relationship to one another.


For a lengthy discussion of Augusitine's rule (323) and the Lutheran addendum (328), see the whole of chapters 14 and 15.


The author concludes his volume with this reflection on modernism and our confession: We live in a world that has a lot to say about God. We have shown throughout this book that whatever a person says about God bears directly on what that person thinks about himself and the world around him. This means at the very least that any discussion of the Trinity involves a whole lot more than a single article of faith. Scripture makes this clear by correlating right knowledge of God with both worship and ethics. Trinity, gospel, worship, and ethics all belong together. We are mistaken if we think that debates on worship and ethics have no bearing on the gospel and the Trinity. Gregory of Nyssa, like Basil, argued that our confession of the Trinity proceeds from our baptismal faith. This faith, Gregory further insisted, mirrors our worship. "It is not natural that worship make war against faith, but as we believe, so we give glory. Now since our faith is in Father and Son and Holy Spirit, faith, worship, and baptism accord with each other" (364, italics in original).


Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics does not order its theology according to the norms of today. The volumes of the set so far acknowledge the challenges of other confessions and those who doubt God's Word. The timeless outline and though pattern of the Lutheran Confessions provide a framework for confessing the faith anew. Seven volumes are in print. Only six more to go!

What has Marcus Tullius Cicero have to do with the Lutheran Reformation?


In Cicero in Heaven, Carl Springer examines the influence of Cicero on Luther and other reformers and discusses the importance of the Reformation for Cicero's continued use, especially in schools, in the following centuries.


Available Previews:

·        Preliminary Material
    • pp.:i–xxi
·        Cicero and Christian Latin Eloquence
    • pp.:1–54 (54)
·        "The Real German Cicero"
    • pp.:55–100 (46)
·        Cicero and Wittenberg Education
    • pp.:101–144 (44)
·        "Cicero Refused to Die"
    • pp.:145–186 (42)
·        Lutheranism and Anti-Ciceronianism
    • pp.:187–242 (56)
·        Epilogue
    • pp.:243–253 (11)
·        Works Cited
    • pp.:255–282 (28)
·        Index of Names
    • pp.:283–291 (9)

(Publisher's website)


Professor at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Professor, Department of English Lang. & Lit. at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Dr. Carl P. E. Springer earned his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern College and a Master's in Biblical Languages, as well as his Ph.D. in Classics, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Springer is best known for his scholarship on the early Christian Latin poet Sedulius, whose collected works he is in the process of editing, and for his studies of Martin Luther's knowledge and use of the classics. He has also completed a book on Luther's edition of Aesop's fables (Our 2014 Review: http://lhplbr.blogspot.com/2014/06/lhp-review-luther.html). Springer has received numerous grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the American Council on Education, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and others. He has been a Fulbright Research Fellow in Belgium and also was awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to conduct research in Germany.

I've been editing a book review journal since December of 2004, served as Headmaster of a classical Lutheran school since April 2009, and yet, there is still something intimidating about Classics. Cicero? Yeah, I had heard "of" him. The way my education was shaped (unlike that of Carl P. E. Springer, cf. Preface; loss of Latin=loss of Cicero, xviii) deprived me of reading much of Cicero at all. This title, of interest to classicists, Lutheran pastors, classical Lutheran educators and home school families, will be of help in reclaiming this Roman rhetor.


Cicero in Heavenis less about the status of Marcus Tullius "Tully" Cicero within the Christian afterlife (though there is some reference to this on 83) and more about the use of Cicero's words, example, and techniques by Martin Luther (57, passim), Phillip Melanchthon (122ff), Johann Sturm (146ff), Johann Sebastian Bach (164ff), and others using existing English translations (Prolegomena, xviii, note 26). Did you know that "Cicero's works were among the first books to be printed, after the Bible" (41)?


Springer notes "a strong, historic tendency within Christianity to oppose the kind of careful, trained eloquence associated with Cicero's name" (1; ). Yet, "A prominent teacher of rhetoric, eventually appointed advisor to Constantine, Lactantius was called Cicero Christianus by Pico della Mirandola because of the graceful elegance of his style, although some of his theological positions were deemed unorthodox" (24). In contrast to an oration in the style of Cicero, the more common Christian practice was a more informal homily. Consider: "Augustine himself preached frequently, without extensive notes, and sometimes even without the biblical text before him" (28).


"The church, as Luther described it, is…(not a "pen-house," but a "mouth-house"), because it is through speaking to each other in 'psalms and hymns and spiritual songs', that the most important work of the church is done, whether it be in the form of praying, teaching, preaching, confession, or worship" (36). Luther knew and appreciated the five traditional categories of rhetoric (inventio, disposition, elocutio, memoria, and pronuntatio; 67). "Luther's style [in Freedom of a Christian] is certainly closer to the hypotactic, periodic style of Cicero's prose than to the clipped sentences and paratactic diction of the Vulgate with which he was so familiar" (72).


Cicero was an influence on the American founders (175ff; as well as Christianity, 247) and many Lutherans in America (181ff), especially C. F. W. Walther, Johann Michael Reu, and Wilhelm Loehe. The latter's book The Pastor mentions rhetoric as important in the essay lead-in to Part Two by a contemporary of Luther. This kind of rhetoric deserves to be restored to a place within seminary preaching courses.


I found the discussion of parrhesia fascinating (89ff), particularly the connection between the word meaning "speaking everything" (95) and how Springer traces it linguistically to the Latin words licentia and fiducia ("confidence," 99) to confession at the time of the Reformation and its connection to the Augsburg Confession (100).


Springer introduces his readers to other topics familiar to his likely readers, including the trivium (112) and the establishment of Christian academic institutions (117ff). Melanchton lectured on Cicero (131ff) and referenced him in his textbooks (134-5), including two books on rhetoric (available on Google Books). "Melanchthon divided the ideal sermon, like an oration, into familiar components: 'exordium, narration, proposition, division into parts, confirmation, refutation, and peroration'" (139 note 98).


Written and delivered from memory or delivered from an outline or notes? See Reu's answer on 186.

I ask the author and my fellow readers: Whether written down or delivered with minimal notes, why could preachers today not use the same outline for a Lutheran sermon?


Not all were fans, advocates, or practitioners of Cicero's rhetoric ("Cicero in Hell, 221ff). Why? "Latin began now often to be identified closely with Catholicism" (189) and Cicero with it. "Romantic disregard for imitation and the privileging of originality and poetic genius…" (222). Luther's own references to Cicero were not all positive, as the last chapter demonstrates again and again. Lutheran theology has much greater comfort (and delight) with paradox than Cicero (200-1). Matthias Flacius Illyricus was "one of the main contributors to the anti-Ciceronian movement" (209).

There is much history of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod here (e.g. 240-242). 

Sadly, Cicero has been de-emphasized even where Latin is still taught (242 note 173).


After reading Cicero in Heaven, I am now convinced that I am the book's intended audience. That gives me much joy. I've been working my way through the Cicero volumes of the Loeb Classical Library while also reading the Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris (250). Also, in a paragraph that "depends heavily on Korcok, Lutheran Education" we read:

"There is now a small but growing 'classical education movement among denominational Christian educators in America.' Beginning already in 1989 with Douglas Wilson's 'Logos School' in Moscow, Idaho, a modestly impressive number of Christian schools and homeschooling organizations have embraced a curriculum featuring Latin on all levels, focusing on the traditional skills taught in the trivium, often drawing on Dorothy Sayers's 1947 essay 'The Lost Tools of Learning.' Rhetoric, Latin, and Cicero figure prominently in such curricula. Some of the schools, like 'Wittenberg Academy,' are Lutheran in orientation. Whether 'classical Christian education' is a movement that is really 'sweeping America' (as the title of one book describing it suggests) remains to be seen, but the amount and degree of interest in the movement suggests that the final chapter on the faithful and vexed relationship between Cicero and Christianity, however short it may be, may have yet to be written" (253).

The accreditation of my school was recently renewed by Visitors from the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education. I am a permanent member of that group's Board of Directors. The folks of Wittenberg Academy are among my friends.


I highly recommend this book, even understanding its significant cost.



As I write this review, there are no remaining books to read for review at the former location of my "review book pile." There is the possibility of some commentaries and books of Lutheran interest on the horizon. Our goal is to rapidly read, consider, and review any titles as they arrive.


Rev. Paul J Cain is Senior 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 Lutheran Education, Secretary of the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a member of its Board of Directors, Wyoming District Education Chairman/NLSA Commissioner, and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. He has served as an LCMS Circuit Visitor, District Worship Chairman and District Evangelism Chairman. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion volumes, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He is an occasional guest on KFUO radio. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. Rev. Cain is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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Quick Summaries for April 2018: Preaching to All Ages


Pace, R. Scott. Heath A. Thomas, Editor. Preaching By the Book: Developing and Delivering Text-Driven Sermons (Hobbs College Library). Nashville: B&H Academic/Oklahoma Baptist University, 2018. 123 Pages. Cloth. $19.99. http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/preaching-by-the-book

Bolland, Richard. The Church Is One: Recapturing the Lost Unity Christ Intended for His Church on Earth. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 17, 2018) 132 Pages. Paper. $6.08. https://smile.amazon.com/Church-One-Recapturing-Christ-Intended/dp/1546625860

Kennedy, Jared. Illustrated by Trish Mahoney. The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2017. 314 Pages. Cloth. $29.99. https://newgrowthpress.com/the-beginners-gospel-story-bible/

Quick Summaries are pithy reviews
of releases that cross our 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.

+/When this Lutheran book review journal editor requested Preaching by the Book, we knew it would have a Baptist flavor. Chapter 7 on Invitations is as expected, though not overt. (What of John 15:16? What of Joshua 24 in context? How is "Decision Theology" consistent with Romans 2 or Psalm 51:5? Our human will is not strong enough to "decide." Does Scripture not say that we are dead in sin and enemies of God?). 


What I wanted our readers to know is the state of training in preaching at a place like Oklahoma Baptist University through one volume of the Hobbs College Library (21-volume set, Commendation Page). One volume in a new series, Preaching by the Book focuses on Developing and Delivering Text-Driven Sermons. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis or Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne will be used to more theological rigor, more guidance, and a more solid Christological foundation than this book. For example, I have no doubt that the author of this book and its editor know the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It should be more clear and more central to the book. 


All Christian preachers (and their hearers) could benefit from a proper distinction between Law and Gospel. Usually considered a Lutheran distinctive, it shouldn't be. Consider this brief new video summary: [https://youtu.be/GxVi5qKS3pM]. 


This title is concise, usually to the point, and well-written for its intended audience. Reading as an experienced preacher, I can hear specific advice and counsel in the book as helpful for the students it was written for. Reading as a Lutheran, I see different solutions for common problems. Use of an historic lectionary solves my problem of Selecting a Passage (10). Historic vestments solve my problem with how to dress for worship (15). 


The seven-point Process of Sermon Development (18) would greatly benefit from the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. As is, it could lead to a textual and biblical sermon that would leave Jesus out. Such a sermon would not be Christian and would have earned me an F in my homiletics courses. 


I appreciated the Investigation chapter's paragraph urging awareness of "historical lapse," both between the events and the record of them as well as that Bible time and today (25). Transitions are important. Don't Grind the Gears (76ff). The advice on visual aids is well taken (87). I would counsel against them as a crutch, would warn about the potential of overuse, and would agree that some could be too distracting, overwhelming, or unhelpful. 


The Conclusion was my favorite part because the concluding passage from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 spoke so clearly about Christ, the true subject of our preaching. Yes, we should carefully discern what theological truth is taught in any passage. We should also look for Christ. Preachers, give your hearers Jesus!

+The Rev. Richard A. Bolland brings his decades of pastoral experience to his accessible, deep, and hopeful title, The Church Is One: Recapturing the Lost Unity Christ Intended for His Church on Earth. When we confess one holy Christian/catholic and apostolic Church, we do so as a confession of faith, not a description of what we see in fallen world, a valley of the shadow. Bolland points us to Christ and His Word, exemplified by the Foreword of the Rev. Daniel Preus and his reference to John 17:17, where Jesus says, "Your word is truth" (8). 


I agree that our creedal confessions should include the word catholic (not Catholic). To his discussion (22) I would add what I was taught, that the pre-Luther German word "christlich" was an acceptable translation of the Latin "catholica" and that German-origin Lutherans ended up with "Christian" in English for historical reasons and not only anti-Roman reasons.  


LBR readers know that we love clarity. Consider page 24: Permit Me To Make My Thesis Clear. Unity in doctrine and practice is divinely intended for the earthly, visible Christian Church. Division and disunity are marks of Satan's activity within the earthly gatherings of God's people. Therefore, any aspect of an institutional church body's activity or behavior that lends itself toward unity in doctrine and practice is Godly, and any aspect of a church body's activity or behavior that lends itself toward division and disunity is of the Devil and results in hindering and obfuscating the Gospel of Christ.


For the author's definitions of Church, Sect, and Cult, see 42ff. For his helpful description of the difference between fides qua creditor and fides quae creditor, zoom in on 51-52. An illustrative list of the errors of the Roman Church by date is found on pages 57-63. The Lord's Supper and its celebration in a local congregation is often a flash point of conflict and misunderstanding. I appreciate the author's bluntness: "Thus, the Lord's Supper is no place for any kind of division. It is no place for variance of views respecting what the Lord's Supper is and what it accomplishes. It is no place for multiple choice doctrine and it is certainly no place for contradictory practices…" (82)

Speaking of which, catechesis can be a medicine to differences in teaching and practice in our LCMS. Neglecting catechesis has disastrous consequences: "If people wish to join a Lutheran congregation, but retain non-Lutheran doctrine, practice, and worship forms; then this will be the end of the Lutheran character of that congregation" (108).


I agree with the author and Dr. Luther that the use of one translation is beneficial for the Church (128). If I were to re-word one sentence in the book it would be the last sentence of the first full paragraph on 128. Instead of "Officially adopted hymnals would be the sole source of liturgies and hymnody among us." I would say, "Doctrinally pure hymnals would be the sole source of liturgies and hymnody among us." The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 does not have the same official "adoption" granted to Lutheran Worship (1982) and Lutheran Service Book (2004/2006).


Focusing on The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod yet of benefit to all Christians, The Church Is One points readers to Christ and His Word, faith in His Word instead of unbelief or human innovation, and unity in the Word of Christ. 


+/ The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible

We do like this title. Our concern is to properly understand our terms. Does "Gospel" mean the whole counsel of God or the good news of the forgiveness of sins as a gift in Christ alone? Or both? Consider how the publisher describes this title.

How do you explain the gospel to toddlers and preschoolers? Often adults are stumped, but Jared Kennedy's focus on the promises of God makes the gospel come alive to the littlest hearts. Through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible highlights God's perfect promises. Every page pops with bright colors, playful illustrations, fun learning opportunities, and, best of all each story points children to Jesus.
Kids know the value of a promise. Through the gospel, our good and all-powerful God keeps his word and fulfills his promises to us better than we could have ever thought or imagined! 

In The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, author Jared Kennedy traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retold in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God's tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God's grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God's love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Brightly colored illustrations highlight the stories and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child's attention. Every story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message.
Through reading this book one chapter at a time to your children—or letting them read it to you!—even the youngest kids will come to know that God's promises are especially for them, and that God always keeps his promises.
(Publisher's Website).


Designed with the "youngest kids" in mind, The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, by Jared Kennedy and Illustrated by Trish Mahoney, will be appreciated by its intended audience and their parents. Art and design on cover and inside pages is inviting, creative, and edifying. 


The Old Testament is introduced as "Promises Made" in 27 stories, with "Promises Kept" being the overall theme for the remaining New Testament Stories, 52 in all. The stories included are technically paraphrases, which means interpretation and hermeneutics come into play. 


Issac's name is reinterpreted as happiness rather than doubt (compare 24 to Genesis 17:17 and 18:12-15). 


Repentance is defined as a "turn away" or "TURN AROUND" (187). 


Pages 245-27 introduce "communion" as a memorial meal. Lutheran parents would need to reaffirm Jesus' own words:


26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." 


I understood the question "Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive you for your sins?" as interpretable in a good way by Lutherans, yet also in a "Decision Theology" way by others (253). 


"Trust" can be a helpful age-appropriate synonym for faith, given further instruction as children grow (277, passim). 


We've reviewed material from the author's congregation before (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2012/03/hymnody-resurgent-kentucky.html). This story Bible would not be my first choice to recommend to Lutheran parents, yet they could certainly use it in an edifying way for their children.

Rev. Paul J Cain is Senior 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 Lutheran Education, Secretary of the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a member of its Board of Directors, Wyoming District Education Chairman/NLSA Commissioner, and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. He has served as an LCMS Circuit Visitor, District Worship Chairman and District Evangelism Chairman. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion volumes, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He is an occasional guest on KFUO radio. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. Rev. Cain is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music. 

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