If I could have put VDMA around those crosses in the title I would have. Rev. Paul McCain, longtime higher up (interim President, Publisher) at Concordia Publishing House and prior to that assistant to Synod President Barry has been taken home to our Lord. While sadness comes here on earth at such a man taken from us, we cannot help but rejoice in what God has done for him and give thanks for all that God has done for us through him.
My first interactions with Rev. McCain were online of course. He had a certain feisty disposition online as many will attest to. It actually culminated for us at steadfast in his being banned from commenting on this site for a couple of years. That’s not to say we didn’t keep talking. In preparing for this article I looked through years of past emails from him, sometimes fiery, sometimes incredibly kind, and all the time showing a great zeal for the faith once delivered to the saints.
In that way, Rev. McCain is a picture and example to many of us who strive for pure doctrine. We may come off as feisty in our debates, but that is usually not who we are at heart. Rev. McCain cared about the Gospel. Whether in his immense loyalty to CPH products, his faithfulness in service to the Synod and its leaders, or his vigilance in pointing out the antinomian spread throughout the LCMS (something he did earlier than almost anyone and continued to do until our Lord took him home), he loved the pure doctrine of the gospel. In his personal emails he was incredibly helpful for a young pastor who also was involved in the LCMS political scene. There was much wisdom in what he wrote, but more than that was his constant desire for the truth of the gospel to outweigh everything else.
This brings me to his greatest churchly accomplishment (God also made Paul a husband, father, and grandfather and those callings will have lasting impact): the publication of the Readers Edition of the Book of Concord in 2005. I mention the year because it demonstrates the great ability of Rev. McCain to operate faithfully even with an administration unfriendly to confessional Lutherans. That Book of Concord has been sold over and over again and has found itself into more households than any other version out there. The impact of that will be eternal as more people learn the precious truth of the pure Gospel and are benefited from it by seeking out pastors and parishes that seek to be faithful to those Biblical teachings confessed in that one volume. Honestly, because of that one volume I would say that Rev. Paul McCain is one of the most influential Lutherans in over the past century. At a conference years ago on getting the Book of Concord into the hands of the laity, Rev. Todd Wilken suggested to me that a statue should be made in honor of this achievement, and I think that would be a great way to acknowledge the good that God did for us all for generations to come through Rev. McCain.
This isn’t to minimize the other publications that he was involved with at all. I assume only folks like Mr. Bruce Kintz at CPH truly know the amount of projects Paul was involved with, either in brainstorming, writing, editing, or just helping them be brought forward for publication. Replacing him with a similar man of zeal for pure doctrine that knows so much about the history and has a working mental bibliography of faithful Lutheran resources will be hard to do. I also know he was one of the primary authors of the widely used “What About…” series of pamphlets you still see in congregations across the synod.
On top of this Rev. McCain ran a blog for years that helped teach and introduce many to Lutheran doctrine and resources. His regular appearing on Issues Etc. has brought pure teaching to so many. He also worked to develop and financially supported the online Book of Concord site, which has recently received a facelift. How many quick copies and pastes of our wonderful confession has that led to over the years?
Probably my best thing I could say about Paul is that he was a faithful Christian and example to many who knew him. In my interactions with him he was never hesitant to offer insight and correction, but he was also quick to offer an apology or to forgive someone who had wronged him. He accepted rebuke from men with far less knowledge and experience, and in loving fashion offered the same when it was necessary. These Christian acts are remarkable given the climate in which he worked for so many years.
Thanks be to God for what He has done through Rev. McCain. May we all cherish that work and example.
Here are some other writings by men who knew Rev. McCain better than I did.
Rev. Todd Wilken on Rev. McCain (from Facebook): “
Great Men Don’t Always Get Statues
My friend Paul McCain died this week.For a decade I have been telling anyone who will listen that there should be a statue of Paul erected on the campus of our Fort Wayne seminary. Some chuckle when I say it. I’m not joking.As general editor of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition, Paul put the Book of Concord back into the hands of the laity. That single accomplishment alone deserves to be cast in bronze, set atop a granite pedestal, and memorialized for future generation of Lutherans. That accomplishment alone made Paul great man. And great men get statues.Of course, there were many other accomplishments. Too many to name here.Statue or not, the accomplishment for which I will remember Paul is one that few know. Here it is.My boss likes to say, “Never underestimate the ego of a Lutheran pastor.” He should know. He has dealt with more Lutheran pastors than Concordia Health Plans. More to the point, he has worked with this Lutheran pastor for the last 22 years.Paul McCain bruised a few pastoral egos in his too-short time among us, especially mine. I have the emails to prove it.About ten years ago, Paul, among others, saw an error in things I was saying and writing, and set out to correct me. Fearlessly and relentlessly, Paul called me out, more often privately and less often publicly. He was right to do so. I thank God he did. I will always remember him for it.I resisted Paul’s efforts for several years. I resisted not because I had the Scripture and Confessions on my side. I didn’t.I resisted because it hurt. It hurt my fragile pastor’s ego. But Paul didn’t mind hurting my ego. He was right to do so. I thank God he did. I will always remember him for it.You see, Paul loved the Word of God. He loved the Word enough to correct a friend and fellow pastor.Paul also trusted the Word of God. He trusted that the Word had the power to overcome my fragile ego and correct me. He was right to do so. I thank God he did. I will always remember him for it.Paul also trusted that the Word of God had the power to reconcile friends put at odds by one man’s bruised ego. He trusted that the blood of Jesus shed for us had the power to bring us back together in forgiveness and brotherly love. It did.May Jesus give us all that kind of love and trust for His Word. Great men don’t always get statues. But statue or not, Paul McCain loved and trusted the Word of God. That made him a great man.Thank you, Paul. Rest in Jesus. Christ is risen. The resurrection is coming.
Rev. Mark Surburg on Rev. McCain (from Facebook):
“Paul McCain was a friend whose contribution to confessional Lutheranism was incredibly beneficial in so many ways. Long before others recognized the weakness modern Lutheranism has had in speaking like the apostles Paul and Luther about how the Christian should live, Paul saw the problem and spoke out. He was right, and his words encouraged others to think about and engage this issue. He was pleased to see the progress that has been made. I am deeply saddened that our regular email exchanges have unexpectedly come to an end. I will miss them very much. May the resurrection of Jesus Christ give comfort and hope to all who knew and worked with him.”
Here are some other links:
Funeral service livestream archive at CSL with a funeral sermon by President Harrison (you may have to search/look for the funeral to watch it)