“Evangelization” and “Evangelism”

Pope Francis has said that he is against “proselytizing.”  But he is also speaking on what his predecessor started, the “new evangelization.”  After the jump, some of his remarks on the subject.  He is advocating “dialogue with those who do not share our beliefs,” which he has been doing, and projecting “God’s mercy and tenderness.”  He’s been doing that too.  He is talking about “witnessing,” which we often think of as a Protestant term, depending on what is meant by that.

I’m curious if there is a difference between “evangelization” and “evangelism.”  And how a Roman Catholic, in particular, for whom church membership is critical, carries out “evangelizing” without “proselytizing.”  Can Christians who are not Roman Catholics join in these efforts as he describes them?  Also, is the “evangel”–the good news of Christ’s forgiveness won on the Cross–always clear, either in Catholic “evangelization” or Protestant “evangelism”?   [Read more…]

‘”We have only done what was our duty”

The Gospel reading for last Sunday was the parable that makes perfectly clear why we are not saved by our works and why we cannot merit salvation:

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”  (Luke 17:7-10)

Even if we obeyed God perfectly and never did anything wrong, we wouldn’t deserve a reward.  That would simply be doing the bare minimum of what we are supposed to do.  We would only be doing our duty.  After the jump, see what our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite did with this text, bringing out both Law and Gospel. [Read more…]

One Way Love

I have had several posts about Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham and pastor of the iconic Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, whose discovery of Luther’s distinction between Law and Gospel has revolutionized his life and his ministry.  He has a new book out, arguably his best, that he is calling his manifesto: One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.

Though we Lutherans have what he is writing about in our theology–namely, an understanding of the radical grace of God given freely in the cross of Jesus Christ– we too often neglect it, take it for granted, underestimate its magnitude, and fail to apply it in our lives, falling instead into what Rev. Tchividijian calls “performancism” or antinomianism.  After the jump, the blurb that I wrote for it. [Read more…]

Pastors as Unjust Stewards

Our Scripture reading last Sunday included the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-15), which is probably one of the toughest parables to make sense of.  A household manager gets sacked because of his corruption, so before he cleans out his desk he discounts the debts of everyone in debt to his master as a way to get in good with them for when he’s out of a job.  And even though the Unjust Steward is cheating him out of what is his due (telling people who owe 100 measures of oil they only need to pay 50), the Master commends him. [Read more…]

You cannot be be my disciple

We had a powerful sermon last Sunday on one of those “difficult” passages of Scripture, one that reminds us that Christianity is not merely about “family values”:

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . .33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  (Luke 14:26-27, 33)

See what Pastor Douthwaite does with this after the jump. [Read more…]

Evangelizing the Nazis

Chad Bird tells the story of Henry Gerecke,  a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and a military chaplain assigned to minister to the war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, including walking with ten of them to the gallows.  Many of the Nazis clung to their Nietzschean paganism.  But some of them Pastor Gerecke led to Christ.

That might bother some of us.  Surely, if anyone deserves Hell, these mass-murdering monsters did.  We might think that it’s wrong to extend the Gospel to sinners of this magnitude.  As if Christ, when He bore the sins of the world on the Cross did not carry what these men had done.  That would make the Cross too hideously ugly.  But it is.  And this is what Christianity is all about, or it is nothing.

After the jump, read about Pastor Gerecke.  And follow the link to read him tell his own story, including the names of the Nazis who did and who did not come to Christ. [Read more…]


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