Friday, October 24, 2008

Excellent book

Just now I'm reading Bo Giertz's "The Hammer of God".

This is a review stolen from I think it's good.

THE HAMMER OF GOD [Original: STENGRUNDEN (1941)] has been rightly called "the best Law/Gospel narrative ever written" (The Rev. David Mulder, Director of Leadership Development for the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod). At the tender age of 36, and as an associate pastor in rural Småland, Sweden, Bo Harlad Giertz wrote a book which battles those forces which would seek to destroy historical Confessional Lutheranism then and now. Through the stories of three young pastors from different time-periods, he "earnestly contend[s] for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (p. 321, see Jude 3). As such, Giertz fights heterodoxy through three novellas and in three foms: neology (p. 40), New Evangelicalism/Pietism (pp. 147-148), and Liberalism (pp. 267-268). With Henric Schartau's (1757-1825) doctrine of the Order of Grace as the foundation (see the first novella, pp. 3-131 [especially pp. 116-117], as well as pp. 202ff., p. 267, p. 295, p. 334, etc.) and Augsburg Confession IV & V as the backbone, Giertz shows what it is to be a "rätt präst" ("true/right pastor"): one who is a believer himself, preaches the Gospel in its purity, and administers the sacraments according to the Lord's Word (Augsburg Confession VII). A "true pastor," standing firm in the time-tested Holy Word & Holy Liturgy of the Church (p. 201, pp. 210-211, p. 332), is equipped to care for souls by rightly dividing Law and Gospel (p. 124). To be such a pastor is the prayer of Pastor Torvik in the third novella (p. 335; an autobiographical character?) and should indeed be the prayer of every pastor. The theology of the book is summarized in a fantastic & powerful sermon (pp. 313-320) that every pastor could fruitfully borrow for some Sunday morning Divine Service ("gudstjänst"). Also, every pastor (and lay person) should read this stunning work regularly.

Mainly due to his writings, such as THE HAMMER OF GOD, Giertz went on to become the Bishop of the Göteborg Diocese (1949-70). Both due to his age and position, this was a shock: bishops were commonly selelcted from among Cathedral Deans and University Chairmen of Theology. He also became the leader of the Confessional movement in Sweden ("Kyrklig Samling Kring Bibel o. Bekännelse" ["Churchly Gathering Around Bible and Confession"]) and served as vice president of the Lutheran World Federation (1957-63).

1 comment:

Bror Erickson said...

I read that book the first time, ten years ago while staying in Rome. It changes you. Changes your whole outlook on life, and the role of a pastor, the role of a congregation. It is one of those books that needs to be read at least every other year or so. But I am not biased when it comes to Giertz.