When I was on my vicarage, I spent a lot of time poring over (and lusting after) my vicarage bishop's library. I have been able to reproduce much of that library in the years since then, but for the longest time I was unable to acquire The Conservative Reformation and its Theology by Charles Porterfield Krauth. I gave some thought to acquiring it through less than honest means--read as: photocopier--but I contented myself with a number of other books and hoped that someday I'd find it through a used bookstore of in the library of some retiring pastor.
Then Concordia Publishing House decided to reprint this volume, and I obtained for myself a copy. The unfortunate arrival in Louisiana of hurricane Gustav gave me the opportunity to start reading this weighty volume, and it has been a true blessing to me. I've only read about half of it in the past six months, but reading it has re-kindled in my the joy of theological learning. I've spent much of the past three years pining for what I've been missing outside of parish ministry. God only knows when or if I will return to parish ministry. As I wait and as I serve area congregations as a pulpit supply pastor, this book has helped to bring some theological depth back into my thinking, which in turns feeds the sermons I preach and the Bible studies I lead.
Let me share with you a quote that reminds me of the pastor and the man I want to be: "But, with all, and in all, and above all, we wish to send forth men, who shall be living illustrations of the power of the gospel they preach; men, who shall show the oneness and stability of a true faith, ready to yield preferences to secure principles, to make the sacrifices of love to the consciences of the weak in things indifferent, and to stand as the anvil to the beater under the strokes of obloquy and misrepresentation. We wish men, who will have the mind of Jesus Christ, thrilling in every pulse with love to souls . . ." (p. 178)
I don't know that I've been that man, that pastor. I don't know that I can be that pastor. In fact, I know I can't be that pastor. I repent of those failures. God willing and God helping me, I can but strive to be that pastor, to repent when I fail, and to rely on the power of the Word of God to do what I cannot.
If you haven't already done so, whether layman or pastor, do pick this book up and read it. I can heartily recommend it, and I commend Concordia Publishing House for reprinting it.
Now if I can just get up the nerve to see if they'll print my novel . . .