Book Review: Ferdinand Christian Baur and the History of Early Christianity

Throughout the course of their theological studies, it is likely that many American Lutheran pastors and academic theologians have come across the name Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860). It is also likely that some have even heard of Baur’s dialectical interpretation of the Petrine and Pauline division within early Christian history. It is unlikely, however, that many have had the opportunity to read any of Baur’s theological writings, or any secondary literature about Baur. Until the last decade, only a handful of Baur’s texts had been translated into English and most of these translations, dating from the late nineteenth century, were out-of-print.

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Book Review: A Redemptive Theology of Art

David A. Covington is an artist-theologian who is passionate about both music and Christian discipleship. Unfortunately, for quite some time in his life he found these two passions to exist in separate realms, especially within the context of the church. In his search to “live one life rather than two separate ones, one in music and one in theology” (21), he was led later to seminary to study “what the Bible has to say about the power of music, about all beauty, all passions [aesthetics]” (21). He was in search of a way past the long-standing separation of theology and aesthetics—a dichotomy he argues is “unnecessary, even harmful” (49). This book is the result of that search.

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Book Review: On the Law of Nature

The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, and more recently the Roman Catholic Reformation scholar Brad Gregory, have argued that the Protestant Reformation rejected natural law theory, as well as virtue ethics. In particular, Gregory has asserted that the failure of modern Western society to train people in virtue is an indirect legacy of the Reformation. Believing humans were dead in sin, the Magisterial Reformers held that it was pointless to inculcate virtue in them. 

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Does Capacity Define Dignity? A Response to Norman Metzler

The January 2019 issue of The Day Star Journal carried an article by the Rev. Dr. Norman Metzler, a professor of theology (emeritus) at Concordia University, Portland, under the title “Sanctity of Life: the Complexities of the Abortion Issue.” In this article, Prof. Metzler moves rather quickly from “problem pregnancies” to an argument to keep abortions “legal and therefore medically safe and responsible” (p. 1). While there is much in Metzler’s article that needs to be critiqued, I wish to dwell on a single assumption rooted in a deeply flawed anthropology.

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Issue 27-2 Adiaphora, Antinomianism, & Legalism

In any serious discussion on the power and purpose of the law in the Christian life after baptism, certain questions have always remained the same: What power does the law have in the Christian life? Does the law only accuse? Do the righteous even need the law? What is the law’s relationship to sanctification and holy living? Should preachers use the law to motivate Christians to good works? Or do good works happen spontaneously from the gospel?

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Book Review: Hinges

This book is a collaboration between three individuals, one of which sadly passed away in an accident in the final stages of the book. It is evident that these three men all have a passion for reaching the lost. Together they formed a consulting service called the Transforming Congregations Network (TCN) with the desire to “transform” and “revitalize” congregations in such a way that everything congregations and pastors do—from weekly worship to congregational events, daily life, preaching and teaching—is centered on reaching out to the lost (unbelievers). The foundation of their efforts is clearly laid out from the beginning.

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2017 Bjarne W. Teigen Reformation Lectures

The annual Bjarne W. Teigen Reformation Lectures will be held October 26–27, 2017 at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. This year the theme will be Luther’s Three Treatises: The Reformation Platform. These lectures delve into the Reformation heritage with presentations on the history and theology of the Lutheran Reformation with application to the teaching and practice in the Lutheran church today.

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Book Review: The Necessary Distinction

Most pastors are bibliophiles but also busy and so can appreciate the clever (if a bit macabre) Internet meme that says, “I’ll probably die next to a stack of books I was meaning to read.” Don’t let this book stay on that stack. As the fruit of “ongoing discussions” (p. 9) among pastors and theologians from three Lutheran church bodies, The Necessary Distinction means to be the first course of its subtitle: a continuing conversation.

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Confirmation: When? Early? Later, or not at all?

Abstract: This essay sets forth the Reformation pattern for admission to the Lord’s Supper – baptism, instruction, admission to the Lord’s Table. Age was not a factor in this historic practice. Modern changes have moved toward early communion before full instruction and confirmation. All three major Lutheran hymnals in the US have orders for the rite of first communion before full instruction and confirmation. Early communion was followed by a strong push for infant communion since the Eucharist is the birthright of the baptized.

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A Response to Woodford

Last week LOGIA Online posted an article by Pastor Lucas Woodford entitled “Third Use of the Law and Sanctification.” He offered a descriptive analysis of a “debate going among conservative confessional Lutheran circles regarding the nature and use of the Law, particularly its Third Use, as well as the issue of antinomianism and the sanctified life under the Gospel.”

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Book Review: Confessing the Scriptural Christ against Modern Idolatry

The Rev. Philip Hale, pastor at Zion West Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE, takes on a problem that may suggest itself to anyone keeping up with exegetical theology produced in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod at present, and that is—for want of a better way of putting it—turning the Gospel into a wax nose of the exegete’s own making (see pages 208, 211).

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Reformation Reading by Pless

A number of pastors have asked me for suggestions for recent books on Luther as we are now into the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. What follows are my suggestions for books that would be valuable in a congregational library and for reading by interested laity. Several of these books would serve well as the basis for an adult Christian education class. Those marked with an * fit that category.

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SYNODICAL TREASURES

During the January 2017 Symposia week at the Fort Wayne seminary, I had the opportunity to not only hear many excellent lectures, but also to renew many friendships with people in my synod—The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (hereafter LCMS)—and in other Lutheran synods here in North America and around the world.

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Book Review: Biblical Authority after Babel

The “solas” are at the forefront, appropriately so, of a lot of Reformation jubilee discussion and literature as October 31, 2017 approaches. Because they can be seen as providing a content-rich but extremely compact summary of the Reformation movement, Reformation teaching, or of the motivations of the Reformers, even the fact that they’re in Latin is overlooked. I myself find, as I pastor in a setting where Lutherans are one of the rarer breeds of Christianity, that a short reference to sola gratia,sola fide, and sola scriptura can go a long way, not only to describe who we are, but also to garner some respect among those who otherwise suspect me of having a shrine to Martin Luther in my house.

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Issue 26-1: Lutheran Triumphalism

According to a quotation making the rounds recently, “Success without decency is a hollow victory”—or perhaps a “hollow triumph”? The articles in this issue provide valuable insights as to the nature of Lutheran triumphalism, its relative decency, and its contemporary relevance, especially in light of the forthcoming Reformation 500 observances.

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