NALS Reads is about helping pastors and lay leaders to sharpen their theological saws for the sake of Christian ministry and witness. Not everyone can travel to take a class, so we’re bringing a class to you! 

NALS Reads Returns in September!

Join us for a four-part Zoom conversation on the second Tuesday of each month. The first meeting will be on Tuesday, September 14 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Eastern). The discussion will be facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Maurice Lee on Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal, by Mark C. Mattes. This is a free opportunity to sharpen your theological skills. Participants are only asked to provide their own book for discussion. Click here to register.


September 14, October 12, November 9, December 14  | 1-3PM ET

Reading Schedule:

Please already have read these sections by the time we meet for each discussion session.

Session 1 (September 14): chapters 1–3 (pages 1–68)
Session 2 (October 12): chapters 4–5 (pages 69–112)
Session 3 (November 9): chapters 6–7 (pages 113–154)
Session 4 (December 14): chapters 8–9 (pages 155–204)


Free! And open to all interested NALC clergy and lay people. Click here to register.

Book Discussion:

Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal by Mark C. Mattes | Participants must provide their own books for discussion.

Discussion Facilitator:

Rev. Dr. Maurice Lee

Many contemporary theologians seek to retrieve the concept of beauty as a way for people to encounter God. In this volume, one of today’s leading Lutheran theologians argues that while Martin Luther’s view of beauty has often been ignored or underappreciated, it has much to contribute to that quest.This groundbreaking book is the first extensive study on Luther’s theological aesthetics. Contrary to the common misconception that Luther rejected beauty as a theological essential, Mark Mattes shows that the concept of beauty is actually a crucial theme for Luther’s paradoxical understanding of justification by grace alone through faith alone. Christ “without form or comeliness” is God’s gift of mercy to troubled sinners, so Christ is beautiful in God’s estimation. Likewise, Christ is desirable for sinners seeking relief and liberation from the law’s unrelenting accusations and from the enslavement of sin, death, and the devil. The new birth alters the human senses, opening them to discern and appreciate beauty as God has implanted it in the world. Mattes shows that Luther affirms music and visual imagery as human expressions of beauty and discusses the implications of Luther’s aesthetics for music, art, and the contemplative life. The author explains that for Luther, the cross is the lens through which the beauty of God is refracted into the world. Mattes also puts Luther’s view of beauty in opposition to some key contemporary theologians.

Maurice Lee is the pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara, California, a lecturer in theology for the North American Lutheran Seminary, and a member of the North American Lutheran Church’s (NALC) Commission on Theology and Doctrine. He was educated at Wheaton College, the California Institute of Technology, Fuller Theological Seminary and Yale University, and did postdoctoral work at Harvard University and taught at Westmont College before becoming involved with the NALC. He lives with his family in Lompoc, California.