The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Biblical fluency a clear must for all

Letters and articles on Bible, Jesus and prayer prompt responses

A missed context
Is the word returning empty?” (December, page 20) hit a nerve. If our understanding of the word is confined to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, we have missed the context in which the Bible was written. Terms such as “the Son of Man” cannot be deduced from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament alone. They must be woven into one fabric of our thinking. The New Testament is an unbroken continuation of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible is not just the prelude to Jesus’ incarnation. It is the final chapter that stretches from Abraham, through the prophets, and the story of Israel (the people of God) itself. The people of God (and we who have joined them) stand together as members of the kingdom of God, the very good news Jesus came to proclaim. We can only understand and apply the biblical story to our lives by understanding something of the culture, the values and the faith out of which these stories arose.

The Rev. Edward Beckstrom
Lake Martin, Ala.

Missed something
I read the “Get up and go” letter (December, page 48) the evening after my husband and I discussed which of our belongings to sell this month to pay our mortgage and before he went off to a 12-hour night shift at a manufacturing plant. How comforting to know that it’s our fault. If only we hadn’t dropped out of high school. If only we hadn’t refused to take vocational training. I would cancel my subscription to The Lutheran like we’ve canceled our cable TV and everything else we can think of to save money, but we get it free as my husband is a rostered ELCA pastor (with a master’s of divinity). When I get up to go work at my full-time job, I’ll remember how I should have gone to college — must be hallucinating that magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Name withheld

Bible is best-seller
The article “A people’s Bible” (December, page 34) contains an error. It says the Bible wasn’t among the top 100 best-selling books in the U.S. last year. While exact sales figures on Bible sales are hard to come by, a 2005 story by The New Yorker estimated that more than 25 million copies of the Bible are sold in the U.S. every year. While no single translation or edition of the Bible topped the best-seller list in the U.S. last year as occurred in Norway, the combined annual sales of all versions of the Bible far eclipses any other book in print in the U.S. The Bible, in its multitude of versions, remains the perennial best-seller. 

The Rev. Dana Lockhart
Buffalo, S.D.

Peace passing a winner
The letter “1-2-3 strikes you’re out” (December, page 49) asks for a halt in passing the peace. Please do not eliminate the peace passing. I find it warming and a chance to share handshakes and smiles. In fact, increase the time for this part of the service. As I age, I find it more difficult to reach as many people in the pews as I used to. And we have a rather tiny church.

Earl Finkler
Medford, Wis.

Lutheran witness
The “Jesus the savior” article (December, page 18) made me think of my mission experience in Nepal and old pastor Tir. When we came in 1997 there were more than a million converts. It all started with that one saintly man. His secret was “love.” That was winning people there faster than anything else. Of course they went on to study the Bible and take classes to make them grow in faith. Pastor Tir also forgave. It was illegal to be a Christian in Nepal up until 1992. Pastor Tir was sent to prison a few times, but they released him because he was converting his jailers. He forgave them even when they tortured him. Winning others by showing love to them is not illegal. That can be an example for American churchgoers as well.

The Rev. Robert S. Ove
Rio Rancho, N.M.

In Jesus’ name
Martin Luther has a better reason for praying in the name of Jesus (November, page 18), which is more in keeping with Jesus being our intercessor, mediator and advocate. Take a listen: “It is praying aright in Christ’s name, when we trust in him that we be received and heard for his sake, and not for our own sake .... We will obtain nothing but wrath and disgrace [if we] wish to be people whom God should regard without a mediator” (Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicholas Lenker, 3:171).

The Rev. Ronald F. Marshall 

Take care of creation
In response to the letter “It’s God’s creation” (October, page 48), climate concerns are not political but factual statements by scientists showing evidence that our earth is changing and not for the best. There are many things we can do, and we can educate everyone on how to improve our world and live better. God gave us free will, furnishing us with knowledge to make our earth more acceptable. God created the earth for us and we need to take better care of it in God’s honor.

Carol Hundeby
Lilburn, Ga.

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February issue


Embracing diversity