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Handling The Word Of Truth: Law And Gospel In The Church Today Paperback – January 1, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Concordia Publishing House Audio (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758600208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758600202
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Truly this is a most valuable publication updating the classic work on discerning Law and Gospel in the Bible from C.F.W. Walther.

Pless does a truly fine job of writing in modern terms and examples. He is quite the prolific wordsmith, so he makes what could be dull, academic discussion fun and enlightening. This is coupled with discussion questions after each of the 13 chapters. This makes it an excellent candidate for group and individual study. Also appendiced is Luther's Sermon on distinguishing between Law and Gospel.

Let me give several examples of this fine writing: "When the Law is not preached in such a way as to uncover unbelief, it will create Pharisees." "Doctrinal error left untreated can lead to spiritual death." "The human heart prefers its own enthusiasms rather than God's Word."

A significant, timely and well done resource for the Body of Christ. Urge all Christians to carefully and prayerfully work through this. The church will be blessed.
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Format: Paperback
Handling the Word of Truth is an excellent place to begin learning about Lutheran hermeneutics, theology, and law the and gospel. John Pless, a conservative confessional Lutheran and professor at Concordia Theological Seminary and part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, wrote it.

Pless writes his book for the theologian, pastor, or interested layman in terms that they will understand. The focus of the book is how to divide law and gospel. This book would be an excellent choice for personal study, adult Sunday school, or a home Bible study. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and discussion. One neat feature of the book is the appendix, it has a reproduction of a sermon of Martin Luther on the distinction between the law and the gospel.

If you are looking for a scholarly text on the subject, I recommend C. F. W. Walther's classic book, Law and Gospel. However, it is an extensive book (over 400 pages) and can be cumbersome and difficult to understand because of the Lutheran terminology.
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Format: Paperback
It is a slim paperback, doesn't look very imposing, but it is heavy stuff.

I have done a lot of different studies, and read a lot of books, and with most of them about every other page has a few thought-provoking sentences, which is disapointing. It does read a bit like a research paper (referencing some older books regularly), not the nice conversational tone of a good Anglican theologian (eg, Lewis or Packer). It is written by a Lutheran minister and DMin, so take it with that grain of salt--I grew up with Lutheran doctrine and a Lutheran attitude, so it is very familiar to me, but it can seem very supercilious and exclusive, which can be offensive if taken the wrong way.

The topic--defining, understanding, and rightly applying the 2 separate concepts of Law and Gospel--is essential and timely. I think of all denominations, Lutheranism does not mince doctrine or let things get fuzzy, and this is one area that should not be fuzzy. A former pastor of mine (Lutheran) said that Lutheran doctrine was German-engineered doctrine--not everyone wants German engineering, but you have to admire it when you see it. I think that is a true statement, if rather self-depricating-ly put. This book has encouraged me to go back to explore more the doctrinal heritage of the Lutheran church, which is very detailed, organized and uncompromising.

The questions at the end of each chapter are engaging, relevant and thought provoking. I used them for my own personal Bible study, and it was very worthwhile.

For an educated layperson, this is an excellent discussion of the Law versus the Gospel, and the importance of keeping them separate yet in constant polar tension--both personally, and in the "profession" of church ministry and evangelism. Without this proper distinction, both Law and Gospel lose their power--which is what I am afraid is happening in many churches today--leaving people hopeless and confused.
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Pless has written what could be considered a handbook for every Lutheran school and congregation on the correct division of law and gospel. LCMS, WELS, and ELS educational institutions wanting to remain firmly rooted in the Truth will find this book to be an easily-digestible version of Walther's definitive work, useful for group Bible study and faculty development.
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The book does an outstanding job of making Walther's "God's No and God's Yes" accessible to younger audiences.

I appreciated the clustering of the Law and Gospel theses and the subsequent elucidation. It makes for very easy reading and should be on any essential reading list for confesssional Reformation Christians, and especially for those moving in that direction out of mainstream churches, Catholicism, or the various evangelical and Pentecostal branches.

My only criticism, and it is mild, is that that questions did not carry the same lucidity as the rest of the book. It seems as if someone other than the author might have prepared the questions.

That is a minor detraction. The book is outstanding for catechetical purposes.
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This is truly an excellent book for any Christian who desires to read God's Word more accurately, both the layperson and the theologian. There is a way to rightly divide the Word of God and that is by the Law and the Gospel. Too many are preaching from their pulpits the Law (what you can do for God) instead of preaching the Gospel (what God has done for us through the Person and work of Jesus Christ). People are not hearing the Gospel correctly, they are hearing the Law! Both must be given in preaching because we have to know just how high God's standards are and how we cannot live up to them. But Christ has most assurardly lived up to God's holy law for He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets(Matt. 5:17) and He has for us...all who believe. John Pless, who is the author, does a wonderful job of leading the reader through the writtings of C.F.W.Walther,Martin Luther, Bo Giertz,Gerhard Forte and Oswald Bayer and most importantly of all the Holy Scriptures into everyday life. This would make an excellent read for a Bible Study class. Highly recommended.
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