Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Richard Twiss, Native American Leader

This is an unusual book. Author Richard Twiss spent many years, preaching, talking, writing, trying to convince both Native American people and whites descended from Colonial times that both groups worship the same God, whether he be called Creator or Jesus. Twiss died in 2013 and his wife, Katherine gave all his printed material to a group of friends who were eager to finish this book that Triss had begun earlier. It's called Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, a Native American Expression of the Jesus Way, and is published by and available from ivpress.com.

Richard Twiss was born June 11, 1954 on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. His family moved to Denver and then to Oregon, where Richard attended school. After graduating from high school, Richard moved back to Rosebud and he became involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM),strengthening his connections with other family members and deepening his appreciation for Lakota culture. One night during Richard's prayer, Creator responded to him and from that moment in 1974, Twiss was on a spiritual journey to live a meaningful life as a Lakota follower of the Jesus Way.

He and Katherine founded the nonprofit ministry of Wiconi International, through which they became known and "touched many thousands of people." Richard also founded or co-founded other organizations. In 2011 Richard earned his doctorate in missiology from Asbury Theological Seminary. He continued his teaching and writing careers and his first book, One Church, Many Tribes reached many people with the message of an inculturated faith in Jesus.

Twiss writes that "as Native people, we are in between the worlds of yesterday and where we will be, between traditional worldviews and western rationalism, between community and individuality, between spirituality and religion. We are not what we used to be and we are still becoming what we are not yet. In this in-between time we experience confusion, deep loss, fear, the unknown, searching, and despair." In Native terms, he says, "our circle is broken." He describes Native people as "living in two very different worlds." And it is crucial, he believes, for Native people to live biculturally in the urban culture. He uses many technical terms as he describes the history of the white and Native groups, what they did to each other, and where they are today. Much forgiveness is needed on both sides, in my opinion. And while Colonial Christianity continues to be impressed on the cultures of Native North America, "contextualization innovations are being introduced across Indian Country. The winds of change are blowing."

---Lois Sibley

Friday, July 17, 2015

Luther, A Man of Wit and Wisdom...

Right off, author Carl R. Trueman admits he has "loved Luther almost since the moment I first grasped the gospel." Luther has been one of Trueman's "private theological companions," so he was pleased to be asked to write this volume, Luther on the Christian Life, Cross and Freedom, www.crossway.org, part of Crossway's series called Theologians on the Christian Life. Trueman, who is not a Lutheran but a church history professor at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, welcomed Robert Kolb of Concordia Seminary, in Saint Louis to write a Forward, and Martin E. Marty, Emeritus Professor at the University of Chicago, to write an Afterword. So let's begin...

Trueman's layout is a bit different for telling the story of Martin Luther's life. He begins with a summary of what's happening in the European world of church history in about 1508 and on, and how Luther fits in with his education, his family, his service to the church. Trueman says that as a theologian and pastor, Luther "was continually wrestling with how his theological insights connected to the lives and experiences of the people under his care." Trueman has long studied and taught on Luther and he believes there was a "personal passion" in Luther that finds "no obvious counterpart in the writings" of other significant theologians of his time.

Next, Trueman begins to describe and study some of the happenings in Luther's life, such as The Indulgence Controversy, The Diet of Worms in 1521, Wartburg in 1522 and Luther's translation of the New Testament into German, Wittenberg in 1525, his marriage to Katharine von Bora. Trueman calls us to think of Luther "as one of us." He says that "at a deeper level, we should see Luther in the way he wrestled with the deepest perennial questions of human, Christian existence." For example: "How can I find a gracious God? What and where is grace? In what does true happiness consist?"

After the section on Luther's life, there are more chapters on events that became important for Lutheranism, in many of which Luther was involved. He may be most notably remembered for his view of justification by grace through faith. He is also considered to be "the man who started the Reformation," with nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517. Luther died in 1546 in Eisleben while on pastoral business. He has left  much of his writing for us to study and enjoy. I have a very nice copy of The Table Talk of Martin Luther, that I enjoy reading and which once belonged to the late Hal Rast, one of my favorite Lutherans.

---Lois Sibley