Don’t give them the Gospel? 

We often assume that if we could only find the right way to reach those who are opposed to Christianity that we could win them over to the Gospel.  S. M. Hutchens, writing in the Touchstone blog, says that many of these folks don’t lack knowledge of Christ.  They are simply rejecting Him.

Good point.  But then he says that such overt enemies of God should not be given the Gospel, that they cannot be evangelized.

I would say that we are all by nature enemies of God.  And that, by the power of the Word, the Holy Spirit can bring even the worst enemy of God to salvation.  (I am thinking of St. Paul, who called himself “the worst of sinners” and was an overt persecutor of the Church and of Christ.)  Certainly, a person can’t be open to the Gospel without first being broken by the Law, which can happen in various ways.  But that is part of the process of evangelism, and everyone needs to be evangelized.  (We Lutherans believe in the universal atonement, that Christ died for everyone, so we cannot assume that any given person is one of the non-elect “reprobates.”)

But is there something in what Hutchens says?  Even if those who are purposefully rejecting God should still be evangelized, do we need to approach them and the trouble they give Christians differently than if they were merely ignorant?  Read his argument, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

The numinous in religious experience

A couple of years ago, I blogged about the Numinous, that sense of uncanny awe that Rudolph Otto and C. S. Lewis considered to be at the heart of religious experience.  Ben Stanhope at his Remythologized blog links to that post and explores the concept in greater depth, seeing it as central to Biblical worship and as evidence for supernatural reality. [Read more…]

Reviews of “Where Christ Is Present”

More shameless promotion of the new book I edited with John Warwick Montgomery, Where Christ Is Present.  (I am uncomfortable with promoting myself and my work, and you have to admit I don’t do it very often.  But I really like the essays in our collection and want people to read them.  Tell you what. . . .Buy the book, but don’t read my essay.  Just read the others.  OK, I feel better now and will now promote the book without inhibition.)

After the jump, what people are saying about the book on Amazon.  The reviews give you a good idea of what the different essays are about. [Read more…]

Our new book: Where Christ Is Present

I have collaborated with John Warwick Montgomery in editing and contributing to a new book that has just come out:  Where Christ Is Present: A Theology for All Seasons on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

It’s a collection of essays that constitute an apologetic for Lutheranism, making the case that Lutheran theology and practice is uniquely relevant to our times.  One of its purposes is to help people looking for a church home, particularly evangelicals who are frustrated with their own tradition, to the point of considering Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, or something else.  We want them to check out Lutheranism.

The book consists of chapters by A. S. Francisco, Rod Rosenbladt, Harold Senkbeil, Todd Wilken, Uwe Siemon-Netto, Craig A. Parton, Steven A. Hein, Angus J. L. Menuge, and Cameron A. MacKenzie, in addition to Dr. Montgomery and me.  After the jump, the description on Amazon.  I’ll be talking more about the book over the course of the week. [Read more…]

Liberal and Illiberal Atheists

The London Guardian has published a fascinating in-depth article about atheism, its history and its different varieties.  The author, John Gray, is himself an atheist, but he subjects what he calls today’s “evangelical atheists” to a withering critique.  He especially criticizes the notion assumed  by so many “new atheists” that if we just get rid of religion, the rise of science will bring “liberal” values–freedom, equality, human dignity, universal benevolence, etc.   Gray shows that there is no way to get from science alone to moral values of any kind, and certainly not liberal values.

In fact, atheists, historically, have often held “illiberal” values.  For example, mainstream atheists before World War II tended to be social darwinists, with a strong strain of eugenics and racist biology.  Then there is Soviet atheism, which rejected individual freedom, and the atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche, who critiqued liberal values as deriving from Christianity, hating them both.  I would add that prominent strain today beloved by many conservatives, the atheism of Ayn Rand, with her “virtue of selfishness.”  Gray does say that of course he and his fellow atheists can be moral, but the question is, what morality are they to follow?  And science, he says, won’t give an answer.  Read an excerpt and follow the link after the jump. [Read more…]

Do you believe in Mother?

A parable/thought experiment from the Hungarian writer Útmutató a Léleknek:

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?” [Read more…]