LCMS & NALC Dialogue Produces New Book on Law & Gospel

When representatives of the North American Lutheran Church and The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod started meeting together over five years ago, it was decided that the group would sponsor a book of essays on the proper distinction of God’s Law from his Gospel.

That book is now available from Concordia Publishing House (

The Necessary Distinction: A Continuing Conversation on Law and Gospel contains 13 essays on the relationship of the Law-Gospel distinction to preaching, pastoral care, missions, ethics, and the Christian life.

The essays are written by Pastor Peter J. Brock, Dr. Albert B. Collver III, Pastor William M. Cwirla, Dr. Stephen Hultgren, Dr. Naomichi Masaki, Dr. Mark C. Mattes, Dr. James Arne Nestingen, Dr. Steven D. Paulson, Prof. John T. Pless, Dr. Mark A. Seifrid, Pastor Larry M. Vogel, and Dr. Roland F. Ziegler.

The book was edited by Dr. Albert Collver III (LCMS), Dr. James Arne Nestingen (NALC), and Prof. John T. Pless (LCMS).

“I’m pleased that we have brought together a variety of confessional Lutheran scholars from North America and Australia to provide our churches with vigorous and fresh discussion of a theme at the heart of Lutheran theology. It is our hope that this book will be used in pastoral gatherings throughout the NALC, LCC, and LCMS to challenge and better equip pastors to engage the fine art of distinguishing Law and Gospel in all that they do,” said Prof. John T. Pless, author of two of the essays and one of the three editors of the book.

“In our day, when many Lutherans seem to have lost their way biblically, this book is much needed. It is for those who preach the Word and those who hear the Word, for the theologically trained and those who aren’t. It is a gift to our churches and to all who are committed to the ‘necessary distinction,’” said Pastor David Wendel, NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

In his endorsement of the book, NALC theologian Dr. Robert Benne described the book as “a tremendous  resource.” “All you want to know about the distinctive Lutheran witness to the proper relation of Law and Gospel is in this volume. It attends to the classic debates within Lutheranism about that relation, with special focus on the third use of the Law. The definitive essay by Stephen Hultgren alone is worth the price of the book,” he wrote.

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