1. What initially prompted you to form this collection of writings? What type of person are you hoping to reach with this book?
I got the idea for editing this volume while listening to a lecture by Jim Nestingen on the friendship between Luther and Melanchthon. So, while in the lecture, I initially sent the idea to my friend, Dr. Jeff Mallinson (who wrote the chapter entitled, “The Ethics of Friendship,” in the book). He thought it was great, and I started asking prospective authors to be involved.
I think the book is for anyone, maybe any man in particular, who values friendship and is interested in the topic from multiple perspectives.
2. In the introduction, you talk about how friendship often looks rather ordinary, and yet there is something glorious going on beneath. Can you elaborate on this idea?
All of God’s gifts to us look ordinary; that is why we miss them so often. God works through the common, everyday, nitty-gritty of day-to-day life. We want to find him in grandeur, and most often, he is found in ordinary means like water and word, the bread and wine which is the body and blood of Christ, and the forgiveness of one sinner to another in absolution and proclamation. Friendship is akin to this, for Christ says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matt 18:20).
3. You highlight the literary group, known as “The Inklings”–with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at the center–as an example ‘dangerous friendship.’ What can we learn from this group about the nature of real friendship? And how can we apply that to our friendships today?
Friendships are a risky business. Friends need to be willing to fight, squabble, argue, and forgive. The Inklings show us it is worth the risk to love each other even when it’s difficult.
Friends are a gift from God, but all gifts flow from God to his children because of his love for us on account of Christ.
4. From your point of view, what is friendship like in the 21st century?
Friendship in the 21st century, especially for men, I think, is an outdated idea. Men are often subtly told today that it is not ok to be a man, act like a man, talk like a man, or be together with other men. I think men have lost something through all of this, and it shows in the rates of depression and suicide. I hope this book helps men peak into a time not so long ago when friendships among men were honored, valued, and encouraged.
5. In the chapter titled, “Luther and Melanchthon: A Reformation Friendship,” you discuss the connection between vocation and friendship. Can you briefly explain how these two things are inherently tied together?
God blesses us with neighbors. According to Luther, “every man is my neighbor.” Thus everyone who God has placed in my life–wife, children, literal neighbors who live close to me, coworkers, and so on–is my neighbor. I am free before them and not bound to serve them, yet I, in Christ, am free to serve them. I serve them in my vocation to them as a father, son, worker, etc. I serve them, too, in the vocation of friend.
6. Is there any advice or thoughts you would share with the reader as they approach this book, or as they approach their friendships?
As in all things, take your time, consume what you can, analyze what you are able, and act according to your freedom in Christ. Friends are a gift from God, but all gifts flow from God to his children because of his love for us on account of Christ.