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The Ecumenical Luther: The Development and Use of His Doctrinal Hermeneutic [Hardcover]

By Richard P. Bucher (Author)
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Item Number 150011  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.78"
Weight:   1.07 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 1, 2004
Publisher   Concordia Publishing House
ISBN  0758603258  
EAN  9780758603258  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Martin Luther is not typically thought of as an ecumenical theologian. In fact, his theology was chiefly responsible for the reformational schism in the Catholic Church. Bucher, however, views Luther as an ecumenical resource, whose "doctrinal hermeneutic" may play a conciliatory role in current ecumenical dialogue. In support of this assertion, Bucher examines Luther's understanding and use of doctrine in: his early writings, his dialogue with the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren), and the Schmalkald Articles. Bucher's historical study sheds insight not only on Luther's theology, but also provides an invaluable ecumenical tool for contemporary dialogue between Christian traditions.

Publishers Description
Examine Luther's doctrinal hermeneutic. The Ecumenical Luther investigates Luther's definition of doctrine and its application in three key ecumenical encounters: Luther's 1523 discussion with the Unitas Fratrum; his engagement in the eucharistic controversies and the 1529 Marburg Colloquy; and his 1537 Smalcald Articles. Bucher argues that Luther gradually developed a doctrinal hermeneutic for determining whether a particular church teaching is an article of faith obligatory for all Christians. His doctrinal hermeneutic consisted of two canons (scriptural and evangelical) that served as interpretive lenses through which he judged whether a doctrine is necessary for salvation. Luther applied his doctrinal hermeneutic to ecumenical discussions to ascertain and ensure that only articles of faith would serve as a basis for unity.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Lutheran   [280  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Hermeneutics   [613  similar products]

Reviews - What do our customers think?
Apologetics in Luther's Interpretation of Scripture - Grace Alone  Jul 18, 2006
I found this book to be foundational in solidifying the how and the why of Lutheran Biblical interpretation. Dr. Bucher shows how Luther at all times sees the Gospel as the center of the Biblical message, which is also saying that Christ is the center. Justification remains the central article of faith, which the church stands of falls on. Maintaining this then, there must be a division, and this protected at all times both for understanding and also for application, of the Law and the Gospel in the Bible. The Gospel must predominate at all times. As Luther says, the Law is God's alien work, but the Gospel is His proper one. The Law can only kill and its job is not to create righteousness, but rather despair so that we turn to the only source of life and salvation-- Christ alone, i.e. His Gospel of Grace-- unmerited salvation. Dr. Bucher does an excellent job of showing why Luther could be so sure of this, thus creating an apologetic for all who are in need of a clear view of their salvation by Grace alone, through faith alone, for Christ's sake. I commend this fine effort and recommend it for all students of the Bible.
Objections are Few  Jun 14, 2004
I have only two objections. The first is that I did not place Bucher's book closer to the top of my list of "Must Read" titles this year. The second is that this site only offers 5 stars to rate a 6 star book. One is easily engaged in this excellent Luther reference work in short order. The knowledge base of this Luther scholar is apparent in its pages so praise from the academic community is well earned. His concise, or should I say precise language does not leave room for ambiguity. There are no wasted pages in this book not to mention an economy of pages. It is valuable just for its notes and bibliography. Bucher and Concordia Academic Press both deserve our thanks for a work well done that will serve not only confessional Lutherans, but many concerned Christians as well to better understand what ecumenism really is. The book also shows the great need to understand and revisit Luther's doctrinal hermeneutic before deciding to jump on the "popular band wagon" that all too many well intentioned ecumenists have done without checking the "breaks" first. I can only hope that we will see more from Dr. Bucher in the future.

I should add the following that is a paraphrase from Luther: Don't be so quick to jump on the ecumenical horse or you may find yourself on the other side. That can be understood to mean that you find yourself sitting on anothers ground where there is no sound doctrinal basis from Scripture (right Scripture rightly interpreted) to do so.

Significant! Timely! Right On!  Apr 13, 2004
If there certainly is one word to describe this phase of church history, it is ecumenism. The Biblical admonition to be one church is upon us, as it should. What is not yet in this movement is the process, the structure to achieve this. The efforts today which stretch over eight decades at least, have attempted all kinds of process without the success. Everyone seems frustrated, that is the outcome.

Here, Richard Bucher puts forward his doctoral thesis (under the recognized Luther scholar Carter Lindberg) of Luther's stance on how to determine necessary doctrines for unity.

To say that Luther was against unity would be a totally uninformed opinion without historical substance of Luther's beliefs. Here Bucher aptly takes one through the development of Luther's ecumenical hermeneutic, one piece at a time. Only those teachings based on the right Scripture rightly interpreted and those that are necessary for salvation, i.e. tied to the gospel of justification, can be declared to be absolute and necessary doctrines.

Three examples of Luther actually doing ecumenism at its Biblical basis are provided: Dialouge with the descendants of Hus (the Unitas Fratrum), the Marburg Colloquy, and the Schmalkald Articles. These shown specifically and in the context of differing confessions, how Luther utilized his hermenutic to determine just what must be agreed upon in order to achieve oneness in pulpit and altar fellowship.

The author then applies this to modern day ecumenism, recommending this approach of Luther to today, rather than the processes of reconciled diversity, accomodation and consensus, which do not achieve the unity God mandates.

While one wishes that the author would have expanded his application a bit more to the contemporary scene, this is such a vital and well done addition to the ecumenical environment that surrounds us that many will richly benefit from its perusual and implementation.

Luther ...Ecumenical?!  Feb 15, 2004
Luther...a theologian of firm convictions. How could a man who, on the one hand, refused to compromise his convictions to appease the pope or, on the other hand, refused the hand of fellowship to Zwingli be considered an ecumenist? Bucher, with ample support from Luther's writings, makes a bold and convincing case for the confessional and ecumenical Luther. An excellent read and a 'must' for students of the great Reformer.

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