May / June 2009
How Lutherans Interpret the Bible (with Dr. Mark Alan Powell)
Two-disc DVD plus a CD-ROM study guide (Adobe Reader required), $40, (2006); Select Multimedia Resources, 2199 East Main St., Columbus, OH 43209; phone: 877-675-6275, www.selectlearning.org.
As a teaching tool for Bible studies in the congregation or as a bracing refresher to help clergy and lay leaders refresh their own understanding of Scripture in faith and practice, this DVD is a solid, clear, and comprehensive guide to the ways Lutherans are reading the Bible.
As a resource for use with the Book of Faith Initiative — it's a no-brainer. How Lutherans Interpret the Bible is a must-have DVD.
Without prescribing a single "Lutheran way" to read the Bible, Powell anticipates and then addresses those questions of interpretation with which faithful readers at all levels of knowledge and experience struggle.
How do Lutherans understand claims of the inerrancy of Scripture? And how do we respond to those claims? How do we receive moral guidance from contradictory or ambiguous texts so that we can arrive at ethical decisions? What do we do with the many meanings of the Bible?
Powell's calm clarity and deep Lutheran roots defuse the incendiary language and hyperbole surrounding these questions. For example, his words on the central place of law and gospel in the Lutheran understanding of Scripture are so clearly and faithfully articulated, it reminds you why you're a Lutheran.
There is much practical content as well. The final section on devotional Bible reading is extremely helpful and could provide a basis for a congregation planning a program of personal and congregational Bible reading and study.
The seven sessions of the DVD work individually or in sequence. For example, the session on The Bible in Context might be a great way to start a Bible study on Jesus' parables. Used together, the entire DVD provides a firm foundation for future work by individuals or the congregation as they participate in the Book of Faith Initiative.
The production values here are fairly simple and straightforward. No special effects, flashy graphics, or multiple speakers. But How Lutherans Interpret the Bible does provide an extremely solid, easy-to-follow guide for reading, interpreting, and understanding the Bible from a Lutheran perspective.
Down + Out: Where Grace Takes You
Two-disc DVD (filmed in hi-def), 128 minutes (2007) plus a CD-ROM study guide (PDF format), $79.95. (In addition to the CD-ROM that accompanies the DVDs, a more in-depth workbook is available as a separate download-only option for $10 when ordered with the DVD set.)
Luther Productions, 2481 Como Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108; phone: 651-646-5526; www.lutherproductions.com.
Centered Life, Seraphim Communications, Inc., 1175 Winston Street, St. Paul, MN; phone: 800-486-1070; www.seracomm.com.
Down + Out is a six-session guide to the Lutheran understanding of grace. It presents God's grace as both foundational and active in the twin pillars of justification and vocation. Grace coming down to us as God's free gift (justification). Grace calling us out into creation as co-creators for the good of the neighbor and the world (vocation).
This model of the downward and outward movement of God and God's grace is the powerful recurring theme of the DVD. It appears in every session highlighting, in slightly different ways, the ever-present truth of grace in our lives.
Pastor David Lillejord's compelling narration provides strong continuity among the sessions and keeps participants focused on the DVD's deep roots in Martin Luther's theology.
As might be expected from a Centered Life production, Down + Out stresses the integral connections between Lutheran understanding and faithful, engaged lives that carry faith and understanding into the home, workplace, and world as well as the church.
We hear in the conversations and stories of Lutherans from a variety of walks of life that the down and out movement of God's grace transforms lives of individuals and congregations.
In this way, Down + Out illustrates that grace, as Luther understood it, was meant to be lived out, to be enfleshed in God's people. The variety of people interviewed create a varied background of witness to the enlivening power of God's grace. The organization of the six episodes allows us to see grace from a variety of relational perspectives such as Creator and Creature; Self and Others; and Spirit and Flesh.
If you are already involved with Centered Life and its programs, this DVD will provide a great resource. If you are looking for an excellent teaching tool on grace that will also energize individual and congregational ministry and mission, you need to go Down + Out.
Faith Out Loud: Talking About What Matters Most
Two-disc DVD, 110 minutes (2007) plus a CD-ROM study guide. $59.95. Luther Productions, 2481 Como Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108; phone: 651-646-5526; www.lutherproductions.com.
Seraphim Communications, Inc., 1175 Winston Street, St. Paul, MN; phone: (800) 486-1070; www.store.seracomm.com.
The DVD is available at both Luther Productions and Seraphim Communications.
Telling the stories of our faith to one another, especially to strangers, is not a Lutheran strong suit. Or at least that's the caricature. But in Faith Out Loud, we see and hear Lutherans speak movingly, yet with great humility about their experiences of God in encounters such as:
- The experience of grace
- How God came alive for someone
- Simple ways in which God makes a difference in daily life
In eleven 10-minute segments, each with a different topic, you will hear stories about what matters most in people's lives.
The segment topics from Faith Out Loud can be used in a variety of ways:
- The basis of a study or training on communicating faith
- Support for Bible studies: for example, "God's presence / absence" illustrating a study of Job
- Powerful stories/clips for sermon illustration
Geoffrey Scott, Lutheran Partners' video review editor, is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Menomonie, Wisconsin.
This article appeared in the May / June 2009 issue of Lutheran Partners (vol. 25, no. 3).