Christian Books

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lutheranism 101 by Concordia Publishing House

Lutheranism 101
General Editor: Scot A. Kinnaman
Assisting Editor: Laura L. Lane
St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010
309 pages

Rating: 9 out of 10

Quick Summary: Lutheranism 101 is published by Concordia Publishing House which is the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).  The LCMS is an orthodox, confessional Lutheran denomination.  Lutheranism 101 is a very accessible, well-written, sometimes entertaining introduction to the LCMS.  I especially appreciated the short chapters... they kept it interesting and moving.  It does an excellent job of explaining Lutheran theology, history, and worship.  Also, it explains common Lutheran terminology and concepts, which many evangelicals would not be familiar with.
  Concerning the writing, my only criticism is that it gets a little repetitive at times with the same concepts, terminology, and Scripture.  Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  

Evangelical Assessment: According to my criteria (see my Statement of Faith), I would classify the LCMS as an “evangelical” (current usage), but they do not seem comfortable with that designation.  In the book, it identifies evangelicals as concerned about personal conversion and biblical fundamentalism.  This oversimplifies evangelicalism to the point of distorting its commonalities with orthodox Lutherans.  There are two distortions that concern me.  First, while an evangelical distinctive is the need for personal conversion, this does not mean that evangelicals only affirm a “Damascus Road” type of conversion experience, but it does seem that this is what the author is referring too.  Second, concerning biblical fundamentalism, the author seems to confuse evangelicalism with fundamentalism.  Evangelicals affirm sola scriptura and interpret it to mean that only those beliefs and practices that are based on Scripture are binding on Christians.  This is different from those who say that only those beliefs and practices that are taught in Scripture should be believed and practiced.  There are a variety of other beliefs that could be discussed, but most of those fall within broad scope of evangelicalism.

Who might this book interest? This book would interest anyone who would like to know more about orthodox Lutheranism.  Specifically, I could see it being of interest and used as a Sunday School study for LCMS churches.  Also, evangelicals of other traditions would find it a useful introduction to orthodox Lutheranism.

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