The Christian Life: Cross or Glory?
Dr. Steven A. Hein
June 18, 2015
This book offers a radically different perspective from that of many best-selling authors concerning how the Christian should measure and evaluate travel along God’s path of righteousness. It will endeavor to persuade the reader that by feeding regularly on the Gospel in the Preached Word and The Supper, God promises to have His way with the Christian and He alone will accomplish all that is needed for life in Him to be complete. He is not waiting or requiring you to do anything first (during or after) to provide you with every blessing of the Gospel
The Christian Life: Cross or Glory is a new book by Dr. Steven A. Hein that unfolds the Lutheran view of the Christian life in simplistic and easy to understand terms. The Lutheran view of Christian living, over-simplified to an extreme, is that the cross of Christ should be the focus of our daily lives. Now the real answer is much more complicated than that but this gives us a good starting point.
As the sub-title suggests, Hein's view of the Christian life finds its identity in Luther's theology of the cross. In fact, as Hein states in the book, he wants the reader to consider what it is about the crucified Christ that makes him relevant for the believer's daily life. Hein unpacks this by taking the reader through a tour of Luther's Heidelberg Disputation. In there, we discover and idea that is central to the Lutheran view of Christian living: that we have no ability in ourselves to find favor with God, and so we must put our faith in the completed work of Christ on the cross. To do otherwise, to trust in our ability to keep the law (if even just a little) is to fall prey to a theology of glory.
As a Reformed Christian there are a few areas where I would disagree with Hein. Primarily in their view of the sacraments. However, that did not (and should not) prevent me from being able to appreciate this book as a wonderful instruction in Lutheran theology. You cannot read this book and walk away unconvinced of the centrality of the cross in all of life.
There is much that we non Lutherans can learn from our Lutheran brothers and sisters. Their understanding of the Law/Gospel distinction (which is clearly articulated in this book) is critical for all Christians to grasp. I really appreciated how Hein described Luther's uses of the law and found that there is much common ground between Luther and the Reformed confessions- more than I had previously realized.The chapters on Tentatio and vocation are (in my estimation) worth the price of the book alone.
Overall this is a book that most people will be able to benefit from. Even if you disagree with everything in it (you shouldn't) it has a high value in its academic presentation of those teachings which are distinctively Lutheran. For the reader who simply wants a deeper understanding of how Lutherans think this book is a great resource. For those who desire to make sense of the Christian life (with all of its complexities) this book is invaluable.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NRP Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author
Dr. Hein currently serves as Director of Concordia Institute for Christian Studies, an organization that offers auxiliary educational services to Lutheran congregations and church gatherings across the country. He also serves as associate pastor at Shepherd of the Springs Lutheran Church and affiliate professor of Theology and Ethics at Colorado Christian University. He has previously served for over two decades as a professor of Theology at Concordia University, River Forest.
He earned his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, a Master of Theology in Systematic Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Historical Theology from St. Louis University.
He is a contributing editor to the theological journal Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology and has published many scholarly articles over the years. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education.
He has been in demand as speaker and essayist in the Church at conventions, pastoral conferences, and various congregational groups throughout the country. He is a frequent guest on the syndicated radio program, Issues Etc. His special areas of interest focus on classical, Christian education, and the shape and challenges of faith-life and vocation in the Church and the world.