Lutheran Witness: August 2014


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From the editor

When President Harrison penned “Back to Basics: Law and Gospel” (Did you miss it? Read it at for the May issue of The Lutheran Witness, you readers responded. Mostly the notes were short, but they were virtually all the same: “Thank you and amen!”

The volume of those brief letters indicated an interest in distinguishing Law and Gospel that we couldn’t help but notice. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire issue of the magazine to better understanding the two.

In the next few pages, the Rev. David Petersen and the Rev. Dr. Joel Biermann will break down what the Law does and who the Gospel is all about. Deaconess Sandra Rhein will help you discover how to detect Law and Gospel in Lutheran hymnody, and the Rev. Jeffrey Ries will teach you how to listen for the same in your pastor’s sermon.

The Rev. Daniel Hinton explains how God uses His Law to show us our need for a Savior and what that means for how the Christian life is lived, and Dr. Gene Edward Veith breaks down the myth that being a “good person” is enough to get a person into heaven.

Addressing the words confessed weekly in the Divine Service — “I, a poor, miserable sinner” — the Rev. Michael Larson clarifies why we trust in Jesus and not in ourselves, and the Rev. Anthony Oliphant addresses those pesky “COEXIST” bumper stickers and why understanding Law and Gospel enables us to do much more than simply coexist with our neighbors.

The following pages are filled with explanations of the Law that, as the Rev. David Petersen reminds us, “always accuses us. It always shows us our sins. Yet the Law is not negative or evil. It is God’s will for our lives.”

But better still, these pages are also filled with the Gospel. “We have it. You have it,” the Rev. Dr. Joel Biermann says. “It is God’s great gift to you. In Word, in Sacrament, you have it. You have Jesus.”

Now let’s get reading!

Adriane Heins, Managing Editor
The Lutheran Witness

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