16 September 2009

An Evangelical Review

of The Lutheran Study Bible by the Internet Monk, and a fine job too. Amen on Lutherans needing to get out of their ghettos!


Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...

Here is my response to Spencer's interesting post:


Anonymous said...

Imonk is great, but definitely has his quirks.

Cph must have just recently put materials on amazon, because I remember trying to order lsb and treasury there and not being able to. Also, I don't think I've ever seen cph materials in a christian bookstore. Why is that?

Finally, a pet peeve/hobby horse of mine is this: if cph's mission is to spread the gospel, why not publish more public domain works at low cost?
How about a best of tlh paperback for 2.50, kretzmanns commentary in paperback. or the confessions! 30 for public domain material that is free on the web is too much.

Paul McCain said...

Anonymous, can you please donate your income to us and then we can give things away for free?

If you don't do that, why not?

Let me know please.

; )

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Maybe it would also help if certain CPH employees were not snarky to customer suggestions :)
(note: sine I put in a smiley emoticon its all good.)

Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...

Jim, let me know when you start donating your paycheck from your congregation back to your congregation and donating your services for free so they can give away more money to the poor.

: )

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

No one is asking you or CPH to "give" anything away. The Anon commentor was simply making some suggestions as to what he/she thought might be helpful. Despite it being a "ministry" CPH is also a business and a business does well to listen to its customers, not make smart-alecky comments when they present well-meaning, if not always realistic suggestions. I am very thankful that the CPH rep in our circuit has taken the time to actually LISTEN to my suggestions, comments and complaints about CPH products. Most of the time they are praiseworthy, which I am sure you enjoy hearing, but occasionally they are critical. I know that you are definitely NOT the person I would bring my critique of anything CPH does and as a consumer of CPH's overwhelmingly fine product, there have been times that your "CPH knows best" attitude has been a real turn-off. You don't need to be so rude when suggestions are made, that's all :)

Rebekah said...

I weary of the cheap and easy charge of Lutheran ghettoism. It reminds me of an LM Montgomery story about an isolated widow who is perceived by her neighbors to be rich and proud, wearing only her ancient black silk dresses and talking to no one. The truth was that the widow was proud, but poor. Her antique silks were all she had, and she was afraid someone would find out so she kept to herself.

So it is with Lutherans. Our confessions are our silks, beautiful and of the highest quality. If someone came into our houses, they would likely find weak practices reflective of the theological poverty which has, over the years, mastered us. We cling to our best, though it is hopelessly out of style and noticeably worn as a result of our current poverty, and have little to show for our daily life.

The Reformed tradition, shaped by regional confessions rather than a universal one, includes numerous denominations, giving it an appearance of inclusivism. The Lutheran tradition has only Lutheran denominations. If you're not Lutheran, you won't join one, and you won't buy their salvific Sacrament-pushing study Bible.

Lutherans are not the teeming chaos of the Anabaptist descendents, or the well-ordered poultry houses of the Reformed whose wares are largely interchangeable in recipes, or the good red monolithic meat of Rome. We fit nowhere, but lack the historical gravitas and aesthetic excellence of the Orthodox to pull it off.

CPH doesn't just publish, it markets, and it must market to its market. They'd be wasting their money to buy ad space in Reformed venues.

Paul McCain said...

Jim, here's the deal, I listen, all the time, to suggestions from hundreds of people every week, thousands every month, but when a smart-alec comes on to my friend's blog site, posting a nonsensical remark that has no basis in reality and then does not even have the decency or integrity to sign his name, I'm not simply going to say, "Thanks for your suggestion."

It deserves the kind of dismissal it received.

I am not sure what is under your skin, Jim, but consider, if you will, the fact that I deserve every respect and courtesy you demand from me and others. For some reason, Jim, you choose continually to be rude toward me. I don't know why, but it is both inappropriate and wrong.

Now, let's come back to this suggestion that we give things away.

We receive zero support from the Synod. We must charge for virtually everything we do. If and when we ever would receive a huge grant, nothing would make me happier than the possibility we actually could give everything away for free.

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Paul, I must beg your forgiveness. I have never intentionally tried to be rude to you and I have never intentionally tried to show you disrespect. Please forgive me.
I'm sure you do get thousands of suggestions all the time. I have made a few suggestions myself. But I do not think that the anon commenter deserves such scorn. They are no where suggesting you give things away. I am not suggesting you give things away. I gladly part with a lot of money to CPH for the wonderful products they routinely put out. The internet is a poor medium for debate and often times your writing comes across as less than charitable. That is all I am saying. Again, please forgive any real or perceived slight or rudeness on my part.

Tapani Simojoki said...

Maybe I'm being stupid here, but I thought that the point made by Anonymous isn't quite as daft as you make it sound, Pr. McCain. He isn't suggesting giving stuff away free. He is suggesting making cheap editions of public domain works. Not quite the same as "donating your income x to give stuff away free".

I do appreciate CPH and its products very much and I look forward to their widespread availability at a reasonable price outside North America—though I suspect that'll only happen once pigs fly learn to fly and Lutheranism becomes fashionable in English-speaking Europe.

Paul McCain said...

Rebekah, yes and amen to your comments!

Again, nothing would please us more than to have the funds necessary to market CPH everywhere. But it would take, literally, tens of millions of dollars to do this, every single year. We do our very best with our money and do market ourselves widely throughout all Lutheran churches. I would love to do more.

Does anyone have a radio station to sell and give us the proceeds?

: )

Paul McCain said...

We provide reasonably priced editions of public domain works. Print on Demand is the way to go on this kind of thing and the price of those items, on a print-one-copy-at-a-time basis is not necessarily low.

As for overseas distribution. We are working with Amazon.uk and Amazon.de to increase the number of CPH resources in Europe, etc. As with everything like this, noting is as easily done, as said, but we are working at it.

Paul McCain said...

Jim, thanks for your note. As one who has gotten carried away more than a few times, totally hear you about the Internet problem.


Mike Bryant said...

I attempted a longer post which didn't work for some reason (perhaps length?) so I'll be brief.

We should appreciate the imonk for being (albeit mistaken on a point or two) honest in his view of us. Take it for what it is - a view from an outsider - how he perceives us.

We should also appreciate the fact that if evangelicals were HALF as fair toward Lutherans as he. Shoot, I'd appreciate it if I were just acknowledged as a Christian by most evangelicals I know!

Which is my last point - perhaps our "treasures" are hidden in the "ghetto" because evangelicals, by in large, are HOSTILE to them as well as to us who insist on speaking of them. Just my own oustsiders view of them, just to be fair.

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

I really hate to come across as a twit, but please indulge me! I have, I guess for lack of better term, a pet peeve about not telling someone you forgive them. I know, it can be awkward and uncomfortable and we have been taught that just saying "its ok" etc is just as good, but for Christians it is not just as good. When I ask someone to forgive me for sinning against them, I want to hear the Gospel, not "thanks for the note." Again, I'm not trying to be difficult and I am not picking on you specifically, Paul. I do this kind of thing all the time too and I am trying to be better about it. So, how about it, will you just come out and forgive me as your brother who has sinned against you, repented of that sin and now wants to hear from my dear brother the Gospel beneath we both live and move and have our being?

Paul McCain said...


I forgive you!!! Absolutely. Totally. Completely.

Forgiven. Forgotten. Done. Over with.

Finished because of the great "It is finished."

Now, please don't feel like a twit.


Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Thank you for those beautiful gospel words. As to feeling like a twit, after ALMOST 30 years, I'm afraid I'm starting to like it ;)

William Weedon said...

Oh, Rebekah, I think the Lutheran Ghetto is a stark reality. We might not see it, but I've heard too often from those who have stumbled upon us: "Where were you guys?" I remember when my own brother-in-law became a Lutheran, his comments on why on earth we weren't getting word out on this stuff. It's true, no doubt, that many folks in the generically reformed camp don't want to hear what we have to say, but many folks have simply never heard about us at all. They have the sketchiest of notions about us, and almost all of them off-base. We can do better - not saying we should advertise on Reformed blogs and such, but that we can become less invisible and get all our pastors and people inviting folks into our way of living the Christian faith. "Everyone wants to be Lutheran; they just don't know it yet!" is a great attitude to adopt!

Rebekah said...

Father William, I know the ghetto is real (having been received like a bizarre and interesting alien during my experiences in non-Lutheran settings), but I'm not sure what causes it. I'm inclined to say that we're just the weird kid on the playground who doesn't know how to fit in. I don't know that that's a character flaw, although the recent issue of Lutheran Forum suggested it was . . . .

Father Robert Lyons said...

Not exactly keyed to the review, but somewhat inspired by it, I tread carefully here because of my appreciation for Lutheranism and its contributions to the Church of the 16th Century and today.

I have several friends who are Lutheran, all of the LCMS variety. Most of them are in the liturgical/theological circles I have run around in the past decade. I got to know several of them back when I was in an Anglican ecclesial body. I maintain contact with them, and I come to blogs like this one, Father Hollywood, and Cyberbrethren on a regular basis. I have, on many occassions, considered becoming a Lutheran.

From a theological basis, though it took me years, I finally managed in my mind to set aside my more Latin view of Apostolic Succession in an effort to move that way. I am in complete agreement with the Lutheran Confessions on the nature of the Sacraments (though, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I prefer an Epiclesis because of its incarnational confession in the liturgy). So why don't I jump aboard the Lutheran skiff?

imonk speaks (as have some posters here) about a degree of Lutheran exclusivity.

I find a lot of good in the Book of Concord, but I could never give a quia subscription to it because of my primitivist views of Church/State relations. As a result, though my faith in the Sacraments, in the Trinity, and in Christ as my source of salvation is identical to the Lutheran confessions (insofar as I can tell), I could not approach the altar of our Lord at most parishes of the LCMS and commune.

I agree that we must be in agreement about the central docrines of our faith to have communion with one another - that is why we have the Scriptures and the Creeds. Interpretations of various doctrinal matters that are non-salvific, however, have been varied for centuries. And yet, because one disagrees on matters not related to our salvation (which it is evident as I have never heard a Lutheran state that Calvin, Bucer, or my next door neighbor is in or headed for hell on a personal level), we are divided at our Lord's Altar.

It breaks my heart to be on a vacation where I cannot find a congregation of my own tradition, which leads me to an LCMS parish where I know I will hear moral and biblical preaching, but where my family and I are denied the Lord's Supper over a matter that the Creeds and the Scriptures are either totally silent or at least ambigious on.

Among the friends I have in he LCMS (and I would like to count Pastor Weedon among them, if I can), none has ever taken this to the next level, but I have seen places where Lutherans have used it as a means of pushing the 'My perspective is right, yours is wrong, and your soul will pay for it' attitude in my direction. This gravely concerns me because, in the process, it feels like many of those folks have practically canonized the Concordia as the twenty-eight book of the New Testament. However valuable (and I would claim VERY valuable) the Concordia is, it isn't Scripture.

Insofar as it accords with Scripture, I am in full agreement with the Confessional Documents of the Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, the only Lutheran joints that accept such confessions are liberal, and could never be a home for me.

So, I labor on... having a great appreciation for Lutheran beliefs, but still marveling over how we can remain divided in spite of our agreement on the Word and the Creeds that the whole Church composed.

It is not my intention to offend with this post, and I apologize in advance to any whom I may unintentionally anger or upset.

Pastor Weedon, if you feel this post is out of line or doesn't belong here, please feel free to remove it. It is not my intention to attack, just to shre my feelings on this matter.


William Weedon said...

Father Rob,

Not at all. I think your words offer some food for thought.

Just to clarify, to us the BOC is (and I know you didn't mean we actually thought it was) the 28th book of the NT, but we hold that in its entirety it is a faithful setting forth of the faith that is given us in the Sacred Scriptures. Hence, the "in so far as" we find deficient. As Walther wryly noted, a follower of Mohamed could subscribe to the Lutheran Symbols in so far as they agreed with the Koran.

So Lutherans use the quia subscription to simply ask: is this your faith? Our Church does not require a quia subscription from the communicants in her pews, but from those who preach in her pulpits and teach in her classrooms. The question we ask those who are not in our clergy is whether they confess the faith as they learned to know it from the Small Catechism to be faithful and true to the Word of God?

The practice of closed communion addressed in those Symbols is NOT a denominationally affiliated sort of thing. One's affiliation is an important part of one's public confession, but it is not the whole ball of wax. Rather, we say that we do not commune those whom we have not examined and absolved. After examining and absolving, I have at times, using my pastoral discretion, communed baptized Christians in special circumstances who are not presently affiliated with a Lutheran congregation. The Missouri Synod has always recognized that such exceptional circumstances may exist.

Painful as the practice of a closed altar is and will always be in the Church, it provides an opportunity for heart-felt intercession for an end to the hideous divisions and a return to a united confession of the holy faith by the whole of Christ's people.

William Weedon said...

LOL: Is NOT! Oops...

William Weedon said...

Oh, and p.s. - I do NOT believe as a Lutheran that it is possible for any genuine believer to receive the Sacrament of the Altar to their judgment. Our Symbols are utterly clear on this point. The reason for not communing a person who may well be a genuine believer and able to receive the Sacrament beneficially is simply and solely because we do not share the same *confession* of the Christian faith. Closed communion is based upon fides quae creditur, not fides qua.

David said...

I have seen CPH books in Roman Catholic Bookstores but never in a "Protestant" bookstore.

David said...

I have always found the idea of closed communion comforting. As an Orthodox Christian I don't even expect to receive the Eucharist when I visit another parish, for sure if I have not introduced myself to the priest or deacon first. When I first began to attend an LCMS parish closed communion attracted me, the unity aspect is important.

Past Elder said...

It's interesting, having come from a non-Lutheran background and having been a member of two Lutheran synods both of which hold to closed communion, how this works out, especially in view of Pastor Lyons' experience which has its similarities to my own.

In my first synod, WELS, before Communion the pastor stated that we cannot judge hearts, and therefore we only can go on the public confession a person makes by their affiliation, so Communion is restricted to those whose public confession is shown in their membership in a WELS or ELS parish, who are invited to come forward for Communion. In the LCMS parish of which I am a member now, a statement of beliefs about Communion is printed in the bulletin, and those who agree with them are invited to commune -- not kosher in WELS, and not in LCMS either it would seem.

The ghetto IMHO comes simply from the immigrant experience, particularly immigration from other than England. Lutherans came as Norwegian Lutherans, German Lutherans, Swedish Lutherans etc, and did not, like the RCs, have a common language and liturgy for services. Add to that the factor of two world wars involving this country and Germany. Even in the Bavarian RC environment of my youth, a common phrase during the anti-German fever of WWI was bei uns draussen, with us outside, keeping liturgy and theology classes in Latin and the other classes in German, strong enough that even in my time decades later, though other classes had long since switched to English, it was not at all uncommon for Bavarian German (such as it is after 100 years in MN!) to be spoken among the folk, or sympathy with the anti-war sentiment of the time common among older people who remembered their grandparents skipping out rather than take a bullet for Bismarck! These things run deep, not because of being Lutheran or Catholic, but are human factors that persist long after the original reasons for them are misty at best.

OTOH hand, there is a practical sort of "ecumenism" in all that -- a common joke back then when the Ecumenical Movement took hold in the 60s was older people saying "What's the big deal, Lutherans and Catholics are about alike anyway, first thing either one of them does when they land someplace is set up a brewery!"

So I advise mirth amid the madness, and making clear as my WELS pastor did that closed communion is not to judge hearts, but precisely to avoid it by taking ones affiliations to mean something.

christl242 said...

There probably are cultural factors but I think it goes deeper than that. Though both my parents were German they had differing spiritual histories.

My German Lutheran mother's ancestors paid a high price for "keeping the faith." They came from the Salzburg area of Austria and when given the ultimatum by the Roman Catholic archbishop to convert or leave they chose exile and settled in East Prussia where my mother was raised.

My experiences as a child in Bavaria let me to sense early on that my father's mother, my paternal Grandmother, a Catholic, had a very different understanding of the essentials of the Christian faith from that of my mother's Lutheran family.

Ironically in the American immigrant era Lutherans and Catholics experienced the need to define their beliefs against the predominant Protestant culture. Although I am glad that the polemics of the Reformation era are pretty much behind us here in the U.S. I am still mindful that there are some very significant Lutheran beliefs and practices that keep us liturgical, evangelical and catholic. Closed communion is one of them and it is there for sound reasons.

Secondly, I am very grateful for the Confessional resources that are coming out of CPH.