by Eric W. Gritsch
This Handbook is an ideal text for an adult study group committed to asking hard questions and desiring to have their lives formed in the image of Christ. In the Introduction Professor Eric Gritsch writes, “This Handbook has only one pedagogical prerequisite: Curious minds who wonder about everyday life and search for meaning, indeed have sensed the phenomenon of survival. Any group of any size from all walks of life, or from any Christian denomination, is invited to use this Handbook. It invites Christians and non-Christians to assess the experience of evil and the need for justice as essential parts of human existence. Salvation from evil, sin and death through faith in Jesus Christ is offered to anyone in the world.
“This distinction between the struggle for justice (law) and the promise of a never-ending life with God through Christ (gospel) puts the stamp Lutheran on this handbook. Lutheranism began as a reform movement within the Western church for the preservation and nurture of the essential teachings of the church catholic. The task of reform continues, and thus a Lutheran handbook is simultaneously an ecumenical handbook. Its instruction is offered to all Christians.”
The Handbook has 7 chapters — beginning with Evil, followed by Justice, Baptism, Church, The Lord’s Supper, Prayer, — and ending with Music. Professor Eric W. Gritsch was Professor of Church History, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary where he also directed the Institute for Luther Studies. A native of Austria, he experienced firsthand the reign of Adolf Hitler and the tyranny of Communism; he came to the United States in 1954. He received his PhD from Yale University and was an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is the author of Bibliography of the Continental Reformation (with Roland Bainton) [materials available in English], Lutheranism (with Robert W. Jenson), Thomas Muntzer: A Tragedy of Errors, Martin — God’s Court Jester: Luther in Retrospect, Born Againism, Fortress Introduction to Lutheranism, and A History of Lutheranism. He edited volumes 39 and 41 of the American Edition of Luther’s Works, selected Writings for Roman Catholics in Martin Luther —Faith in Christ and the Gospel and four volumes of Encounters With Luther, (Lectures, Discussions and Sermons at the Institute for Luther Studies, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary). He participated for two decades in the North American Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue; served for a decade on the Board of the Ecumenical Institute of the Lutheran World Federation in Strasbourg, France; and was a member of the International Congress for Luther Research; a member of the Board of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. Dr. Gritsch died in 2012.
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