Book Review – The Defense Never Rests

The Defense Never Rests: A Lawyer’s Quest for the Gospel

by Craig A. Parton, Concordia Publishing House 2003

Yet another on the reading list for this.

Apparently there is now a second edition of this book that I didn’t know about.  Guess I’ll have to get that at some point as well!

This book chronicles the personal journey of Craig A. Parton from being a tepid Christian Scientist to a conservative Lutheran, with particular emphasis both on his time in evangelical circles (a la Campus Crusade for Christ) and his frustrations with the tendency of Lutheran congregations to try and emulate evangelical practices and styles, thinking that this will somehow lead more people into their doors.  Along the way he provides some excellent apologetic arguments on the validity of Scripture and how lawyers and judges examine evidence, as a prelude to discussing whether or not the Bible functions well as evidence as defined by trial law.

I don’t read many auto/biographies, and so part of my issues with the latter portions of this book can probably be explained by the fact that this isn’t a genre of literature I’m overly fond of.  He makes a rather strong case for the historic Lutheran liturgy and hymnody as the best worship style and practice.  He provides some good reasons for supporting this opinion – namely the understanding that worship is expressed theology.  How we worship reflects what we believe.  While I personally prefer more traditional liturgy (though I’m open to different musical styles to accompany it), I recognize that multiple generations have now been brought up in Lutheran congregations with less exposure to this.  Combined with a technology culture that essentially allows someone to never have to interact with anything they don’t like or prefer, I think there needs to be an openness to certain tweaks to liturgy and music.  It isn’t a necessity, but neither is it necessarily anathema.

So while the majority of the book would be interesting to both non-Christians as well as evangelical Christians, the final sections of the book read more like an in-house critique of variations of Lutheran worship practice.  While that may (or should!) be of interest and use to Lutheran pastors and laity, it likely will be lost on broader audiences.  Perhaps one of the best features of this book is a very robust bibliography of additional reading related in various ways to things discussed in this book.

I’ve had the pleasure of having lunch a few times with the author, and look forward to getting to know him better in a few weeks at the Academy.  He has a keen mind and a lawyer’s ability to quickly distill things to their essence, which I both value and find at times intimidating.  If you’re interested in apologetics as well as some discussion about differences in Christian belief and worship, this is an excellent book to help start you on more in-depth study.


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