Book Review: The Spirituality of the Cross

Book Review: The Spirituality of the Cross

by / 0 Comments / 14 View / July 9, 2010

We learn a fair bit about Lutheran theology if we go to Sunday School and survive confirmation.  If we pay attention to sermons, then we have another source of learning about the Bible and what it says (and doesn’t say).  Sometimes though it’s nice to sit down and in one shot read about what Lutherans teach on a variety of different topics.  This is what Veith provides in this short and accessible text.  If you’re curious about the distinctiveness of Lutheran theology, but don’t have time to read more scholarly or ‘dense’ works on the topic, Veith’s text is an admirable summary of the core theological differences between Lutheranism and other Christian denominations.

Veith covers five main topics that are fundamental to Lutheran theology, but are not always part and parcel of other denominational interpretations of the Bible.  Justification, the means of grace, the theology of the cross, vocation and living in two kingdoms are terms you may not hear on a regular basis, which is why this book is a useful read, and ought to be considered as a text to reread on a regular basis throughout your life.

Veith’s stated purpose is not to provide theological arguments against other denominational approaches to the faith, but rather to lay out as simply as possible the Lutheran approach, noting where it differs from others without overly defending Lutheranism or attacking others. He does a good job at this, which lends the book focus, clarity, and an ecumenical accessibility that is less likely to offend than it is to inform.

A variety of theologians are referenced, from Luther himself, to Gustaf Wingren, H. Richard Niehbur, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. These supports anchor and inform Veith’s work while providing it with depth and insight. Veith’s purpose is not to preach, but to relate and to inform, and he strikes a tone that is friendly and easy to understand.

If you find yourself in discussions with friends from other denominations, and wanting to quickly refresh yourself on some Lutheran theology, this book is great.  Likewise, if you have friends who are curious about what Lutherans believe, this would be a quick way to get them up to speed.  It would also make for a good study series.

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