The Hammer of God (a brief review)

The Hammer of GodThough the Swedish Lutherans depicted in this (translated) book are from a different era, the broad theological issues they dealt with then are not so different from what we face today.

The book is divided into 3 novellas, each taking place in a different generation. The first takes place in the early 1800s. The second in the latter 1800s. And the third in the early to mid 1900s.

The main character in each of the stories is a clergyman, which means that as readers we get to experience his relationships with other clergy, his care (or not) of the people in his parish, his theology, his schedule, and his friends. But mostly his theology.

There is an almost constant theological conversation that is carried on throughout the book that I found not only fascinating, but spiritually beneficial. For instance, more than one of the clergy, out of a zeal for reform and moral living, stresses (too hard, it turns out) the law of Moses. (Thus the title of the book.) The older, wiser clergy point instead to Jesus and his righteousness as the only hope of justification, and the only hope of sanctification.

The dialogue regarding the place of baptism (and perhaps the Lord’s Supper) was unsurprisingly slanted toward a Lutheran understanding of the subject. But even then it was apparent that those involved in the discussion were not simply trying to win a debate. They were, rather, trying to fully understand what the Bible teaches.

I really, really liked this book. In spite of the obvious differences, I hear hints and echoes of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

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