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Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers: Exploring Christian Faith.

Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers: Exploring Christian Faith. By Martin E. Marry. Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 2007. 159 pages. Paper. $13.99.

Intended For individual or group study, the book is divided into thirteen topical chapters, addressing eighty-eight questions, all helpfully listed in the Table of Contents. Marty's strength is exploring the "why" behind the "what," probing the underlying concerns that prompt certain questions ("Are there errors in the Bible?") and occasionally suggesting "better questions."

The most extensive answers (just over three pages each) address infant baptism and real presence, reflecting the strong Lutheran emphasis on the sacraments as means of grace.

In just under three pages Marty provides a masterful summary to "What is the Basic Message of the Bible?" Other theological highlights include Marty's insistence that evangelism (Q42) and preaching (Q59) are to "offer" God, not "describe" God, as well as the link between mission and promise (pro 4, missio) (Q53).

Some important points are underdeveloped. The chapter on salvation discusses grace but says little about faith; it would benefit from an additional section explaining the Lutheran understanding of Faith as trust. The chapter on the reign of God focuses too heavily on eschatology; only the very last answer describes the present in breaking of the kingdom.

The desire to avoid theological jargon is commendable but unevenly executed. The discussion of the meaning of the cross (Q28) omits the phrase "theology of the cross," but the polity chapter uses terms such as "full communion," "conferential," and "connectional" without definition or explanation. Replacing the polity chapter with a brief glossary introducing distinctive Lutheran language would have strengthened the book's value as a resource both for inquirers and for group leaders.

There are also some unfortunate errors. It is Christians, not "humans," whom Luther understands as simul iustus et peccator (Q70). The discussion of providence (Q20) cites the third article of the creed while quoting Luther's explanation to the first article.

For parish use, supplement this study with the Small Catechism, and prepare carefully, making note of the passages most apt to confuse or to prompt follow-up questions.

Kathryn Kleinhans

Wartburg College

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Author:Kleinhans, Kathryn
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2013
Words:350
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