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The Internet Monk on The Lutheran Study Bible, Lutherans and Evangelicalism: A Correction and Kudos

September 16th, 2009
Marketing Advertising Blog — VuManhThang.Com

franchise-mistakesRecently a blog post was put up by Michael Spencer on his popular blog site: Internet Monk. Spencer, a Southern Baptist minister, teacher, and all-around usually lovable curmudgeon over against much that is going in American Evangelicalism, has some good things to say about The Lutheran Study Bible, and a number of other resources from Concordia Publishing House. He “gets it” in his review as he describes the key and most important features that make TLSB unique among Study Bibles available to Christians today. His claim that the ESV Study Bible contains more articles and such is not correct. But that’s a minor quibble.

The major error he makes in the article, and I don’t blame Michael, for he knows only what he is told by others, is his suggestion in his post that Concordia Publishing House is keeping its resources out of view of many people. The fact is that Concordia Publishing House sells its resources to tens of thousands of non-Lutheran congregations, thousands and thousands of bookstores, and what is most significant: Concordia Publishing House markets and sells its resources on the world’s most popular Internet bookstore site: Amazon.com where great Lutheran resources are avaialable 24/7/365 worldwide, as well as on Concordia Publishing House’s web site. Just Google on “Lutheran Study Bible” and you will easily find The Lutheran Study Bible. We do not extend large discounts to small amateur-type e-commerce sites, but this in no way means that we are not “out there” with our resources. One of these small operations is a sponsor of Michael Spencer’s blog site and, I believe, is the source of his mistaken assumption in his post. But his point about Lutherans not being shy to be Lutherans and get the word about Lutheranism is spot-on.

The burden to get Lutheranism “out there” rests squarely on the shoulders of our Lutheran pastors and laypeople. It’s time for Lutherans to be bold about asserting the treasures of the Lutheran Reformation. Stop hiding the candle under a bushel, and for the love of Christ, stop apologizing for being Lutheran! This is a golden opportunity to put forward the unique message of classic Lutheranism. I’m glad that the Internet Monk, aka Michael Spencer, likes Lutheran resources. I agree with him that Lutheranism is not just for Lutherans anymore! Spencer is spot-on correct about the real appeal of Lutheranism and it is not when Lutherans start imitating big-box non-denominational churches and other Evangelicals.

Overall, an otherwise fun post to read, informative and with good points, even with the mistake.

Oh, by the way, about the name The Lutheran Study Bible, couple of points: First, I double-dare anyone to come up with a new name for a Study Bible. Go ahead. Try. I can almost bet you that it has already been used, or something close to it. There are literally dozens of Study Bibles on the market, with a diverse group of names. Second, we believe in truth in advertising and the whole “bait and switch” thing that some Lutherans resort to in order to gain a hearing is simply wrong. We are Lutherans. It means something. And if we don’t know or care what it means, why are we Lutherans? Third, and this is a point not many people know about, Crossway, the publishers of the English Standard Version of the Bible graciously allowed us to use the ESV translation on the condition that we clearly identify our ESV Study Bible as…drum roll please….a Lutheran Study Bible. No problem! We had already long before decided to call it The Lutheran Study Bible, but just so you know.

Oh, one more thing. Note to Michael: If you use my photos, could you at least properly attributing them? ; )

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  1. September 16th, 2009 at 16:18 | #1

    On getting Lutheranism “out there”, I would love to reflect on many of the issues raised in this blog with practicing Lutherans here in the UK. I am an Anglican pastor but feel that my Church of England tradition does not do justice to an understanding of Law and Grace. In contemporary Anglican developments, it often seems that either Law is emphasized and Grace almost forgotten; or liberalism is uppermost, which undermines the unique offer of Grace in Christ.
    Would anyone recommend a contact/congregation where reflection and dialogue with a fellow reformation Christian would be warmly received.

    McCain response: Here is the web site for the confessional Lutheran church in England: http://www.lutheran.co.uk/

  2. Vernon
    September 16th, 2009 at 16:56 | #2

    I win the dare! The following study bibles have never been published:
    1 – The Axe Murderer’s Study Bible
    2 – The Atheist’s Study Bible
    3 – The Study Bible for People Who Hate to Study
    4 – The UFO Study Bible
    5 – The Study Bible for People Can’t Read

    And there’s plenty of others. Still, I can’t imagine the axe-murder’s study bible will sell very well.

  3. Jesse
    September 16th, 2009 at 21:12 | #3

    I wonder if scholars at Episcopalian clown colleges are working on their version of a study bible?

  4. Matt L
    September 16th, 2009 at 23:26 | #4

    What about:
    The Evangelical Catholic Study Bible of those who confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and other Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord?

    ok that might be a bit long…

  5. Richard L Wohlers
    September 16th, 2009 at 23:35 | #5

    Does CPH have any distribution agreements, arrangements, or understandings with retailers like Barnes and Noble, Borders, CBD, etc. Would such sales channels increase our Lutheran exposure? Are they just antiquated when compared to Amazon etc?? I very seldom if ever see CPH materials on the shelves of these bookstores. Just asking about the economic realities and the bang for the buck type questions!!!

    Yes, with all of them, of course. They choose what they want to purchase and where they choose to sell it. Totally their decision, not ours.

  6. Susan R
    September 17th, 2009 at 00:54 | #6

    The CliffsNotes Study Bible
    Bible Study for Dummies

  7. Tapani Simojoki
    September 17th, 2009 at 07:12 | #7


    I am a curate in a Lutheran congregation in Hampshire, UK. Your suggestion of reflection and discussion would be welcomed very warmly indeed! If you go to my congregation’s website, you can find my contact details. I look forward to hearing from you.

  8. Greg Smith
    September 17th, 2009 at 09:01 | #8

    I went and read the iMonk’s post. I loved his review of TLSB. I ordered a leather copy and can’t wait for its arrival. Regarding his other comments, I think the iMonk hits the nail squarely on the head in one respect. Money quote:

    “Which goes to the heart of a growing frustration I have Lutheranism: With the dominance of the reformed camp in the Christian blogosphere and much of conservative evangelicalism public voice, there has never been a time the Gospel-centric, church-formed-around-the-Gospel/Sacraments, focused, classical, catholic, reformational, law and Gospel voice of Lutheranism was needed more.”

    This has been my gripe for years. Where is the Lutheran presence on the web? I’m not talking about the casual blogger here and there. I’m talking about a serious presence of Lutheran theology and practice on the web. I can go to reformed seminary sites and download whole courses including syllabus, lecture audio, lecture transcripts, and study guides. Concordia in St. Louis has some nice stuff on iTunes but why not load up the seminary website with this stuff? Where is the Lutheran site similar to Monergism.com? Where is the site that serves as a center for well-crafted Lutheran sermons that should be playing on everyone’s iPod? Where is the online repository of articles that explain Lutheran positions on various issues? Why don’t more Lutheran pastors blog about the issues of our day and apply Lutheran theology to them? What we need is a treasure trove of Lutheran theology on the web. We need on the web what Issues, Etc. has become on the airwaves.

    The iMonk again:

    “The imbalances of the current versions of resurgent Calvinism are more and more obvious all the time. The beating heart of our life and message is Jesus and justification, not sovereignty and election.”

    Imagine that! That is Lutheranism. Jesus at the center.

  9. Maria Jonsson
    September 17th, 2009 at 09:47 | #9

    Here in Sweden I’m able to buy a lot of CPH’s publications at two Swedish internet bookstores. Some years back I couldn’t buy the most recent published books, but nowadays it doesn’t take very long before they’re available at these Swedish internet bookstores as well. (For instance the recently published Treasury of Daily Prayer!) Unfortunately they do not carry all of CPH’s publications but quite a lot, so yes, CPH does get it out!

  10. dwcasey
    September 17th, 2009 at 11:31 | #10

    With regards to Lutheran’s not getting the message out there, I agree with M. Spencer’s assessment and with some of the comments received after his post. In the blogosphere, at least, I have talked with interest to some Lutheran’s about their faith and not received anything in the way of “want to learn more” or even engaging in some sort of dialogue. Are Lutheran’s not big on “stealing” from other denoms?

    McCain response: DW, it is a very puzzling phenomenon, indee. I think we are, by nature, afraid of being accused of sheep stealing.

  11. Rev. Joseph Eggleston
    September 17th, 2009 at 12:17 | #11

    I don’t know about The Atheist’s *Study* Bible, but there is:

    As well as:


    The Lutheran Study Bible is a great name, if only slightly confusing with Lutheran Service Book – initials also LSB. Its good to see that the message about our latest, greatest resource is getting some press in non-LCMS circles.

  12. Northeasterner
    September 17th, 2009 at 14:27 | #12

    I am a big fan of the Internet Monk, and I am glad to read his glowing review of the Lutheran Study Bible. However, I think some other things in his post are a little unfair to Lutherans in general and CPH in particular.

    Why should CPH give free review copies to everyone who asks? As far as I can see, they have a very consistent policy on this. My congregation doesn’t get free copies, and neither does Michael Spencer. Like it or not, CPH is a business that needs to make ends meet. I, for one, would be upset if CPH was handing out lots of free copies to bloggers and I had to pay for mine.

    I have bought CPH books from CPH.org, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. CPH has terrific customer service and they truly, truly don’t care what church body you belong to when you are buying their goods.

    It is not the fault of Lutherans if the various Christian and secular booksellars tend to put the CPH output in back and lighter, breezier, more popular fare in the front window. That is in no way evidence that Lutherans are insular.

    Also, I think the idea that Lutheran ideas are “hermetically sealed” (I quote one of iMonk’s commenters) from outsiders is laughable given how much time and effort various Lutherans like McCain, Wilken, D’Onofrio, Cwirla, Roseborough, et. al. spend putting good content on the Internet. What else are we supposed to be doing that we’re not?

    I agree 100% with Spencer that the LCMS needs to do a better job of establishing confessional, liturgical worship in underserved areas, particularly in the “Bible Belt”. But confessional Lutherans are very visible and effective on the Internet, and having a real influence, as is evidenced by Spencer’s post.

  13. Michael Zamzow
    September 18th, 2009 at 00:04 | #13

    I see that Pastor Starke has written a hymn for the release of TLSB. What are the plans for releasing this with the new tune written for it? Maybe we Lutherans are more comfortable singing than shouting the Gospel. TLSB is a wonderful book. I have been using it for almost a week now. Pr. Starke’s hymn is such a powerful witness to the Gospel. It would be great to sing it on Reformation Day.

  14. PaKo
    September 25th, 2009 at 11:56 | #14

    A Lutheran myself, I suspect that some reluctance among Lutherans to be more engaging in the public square might be, in part, a reflection of the degree to which we view and portray the rest of the world as comprised of “opponents” who are stubbornly committed to their errors. Where that disposition is sustained, it becomes natural to stand with our backs to such a world.

    Perhaps we would benefit from drawing some fresh lessons from Paul’s witness on Mars Hill. An interest in religion was the only common ground to begin with, and Paul used the opportunity not to judge the error, but to shed light on the truth.

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