On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Herv. teol. stud. vol.64 n.3 Cape Town Jul./Sep. 2008
BOEKBESPREKINGS / BOOK REVIEWS
Marty, M E 2007 - Lutheran questions, Lutheran answers: Exploring Christian faith
Publishers: Augsburg Books. 159 Pages. Price: Unknown
Reviewer: Dr J A Meylahn (University of Pretoria)
The author, Martin Marty, was professor of religious history for thirty years at the University of Chicago. He wrote the book from the North American context and it thus responds to the questions and challenges of that specific religious context. Many of the questions also find resonance in our own South African context, which shows numerous similarities, but also certain differences to the North American context.
In good protestant tradition, the book is written as a dialogue between questions and answers, like Luther's Small Catechism, which consists of questions and answers. "In faith as in the rest of life, a person grows in knowledge by asking questions" (p 9).
The book is written in an easy style which makes it highly accessible to the lay reader and as such, it is an excellent introduction to the basics of Lutheran faith for believers today.
Professor Marty has formulated 88 questions that seek to capture the religious questions and challenges that believers struggle with in their everyday life. These questions are subsequently divided into thirteen chapters, which follow the main themes of faith (God, Bible, Jesus Christ, church, society, etc). The questions arise from the daily life experiences of believers, for example: Does God answer prayer? Does God heal today? Professor Marty does not answer these questions with references to major theological insights and arguments, but with references to biblical texts and life experiences and thereby communicating the basics of the Lutheran faith. The book is not written as a theological treatise in defence of the Lutheran faith, but as an accompaniment for congregational members seeking clear answers to their questions. At times, one might find his answers too simplistic, thereby losing some of the depth of Lutheran theology, but when it is borne in mind that the book clearly is written for laity and not for theologians and its intention is to provide concise answers, then one appreciates the simplicity of the answers.
The book can be a valuable asset to the congregational library or resource center as it can be used for group discussions, adult courses on Lutheran faith as well as confirmation classes.