Why there is only one way to salvation

Once again I see on the LCMS website in the “View from Here” feature an article I wrote a long time ago, I think for Lutheran Witness.  It takes up what has been called “the scandal of particularity”; that is, the claim that there is only one way that leads to Heaven, the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Why aren’t other religions equally valid?  How can we credibly  hold to Christ as the only way to Heaven  in our current climate of religious pluralism?  And, as if that isn’t a difficult enough problem, I throw in the question of how a just God could condemn someone for not being a Christian.  Reading the piece long after I have forgotten what I said, I found myself approaching it like any other reader and, in an odd way, learning from myself.  I’ll present the essay in its entirety after the jump.

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How church growth strategies keep missing the point

Rachel Held Evans tells about how churches that want to reach young people keep missing the point, trying to be cooler and hipper and more contemporary instead of attending to the far greater issues of substance.  Yes, she is calling for a measure of liberalism, but notice what else she is calling for.  Read what she says after the jump and then consider my comments. [Read more…]

The Salvation of Unborn Children

What is the eternal destiny of children who die in the womb or who are aborted?  Some have said that their original sin merits eternal condemnation.  Most such a horrible conclusion hasn’t rung true for most Christians.  Roman Catholics have posited the existence of “Limbo,” a place of natural–though not supernatural–happiness for the unbaptized.  The Orthodox see the Fall as giving only the predisposition to sin and not sin itself, so children who die before they are baptized go to Heaven.  Calvinists have recourse to their doctrine of election.  Arminians see no problem for those who never had the opportunity for a decision.  Baptists say no one can be lost before the “age of accountability.”  Lutherans leave it to the Grace of God.

But Martin Chemnitz, the second greatest Lutheran theologian and the man most responsible for the Book of Concord has actually addressed this question in his classic treatment of Christology, The Two Natures in Christ:

“This teaching [the doctrine of the hypostatic union] is not idle sophistry, for it is an article of faith that Mary did not beget a man in whom God dwelt. Rather she bore the only Son of God by receiving His flesh, as Augustine says, “He was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary who for this reason and in this sense is correctly called the God-bearer (Theotochos).” If reverently considered, this act produces the most comforting thoughts. For the Son of God embraced the human race with such great love that He did not shrink from descending to such a humble state that He not only did not assume a man who was already formed and born, but rather He united to Himself personally an individual human body in the very moment of its conception and made it His own. Thus the Son of God in assuming His own flesh, but without sin, also endured those things which commonly befall man in conception, pregnancy, and birth (as the fathers of the Council of Ephesus said), so that from His very beginning, rise, and, as it were, root, He might first restore in Himself our depraved nature and so cleanse and sanctify our contaminated conception and birth that we might know that Christ’s salvation applies even to man’s fetus in conception, gestation, and birth.”  

Chemnitz’s Works: The Two Natures in Christ, (St. Louis:  CPH, 2007), p. 102. [Read more…]

An evangelist to theologians

This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of a theologian I had never heard of but whose Christ-centered approach to theology sounds very promising:  Thomas F. Torrance of the Church of Scotland, described in First Things as “an orthodox, ecumenical, and pastoral theologian”:

He considered his primary calling to be a minister of the Gospel and an evangelist to theologians. Modern western theology, he believed, has been trapped in an obsolete, dualist mindset that detaches Jesus Christ from God, worship and mission from Christ, and biblical and theological study from fellowship and communion with the living God. [Read more…]

Bono talks about his faith

Bono, the lead singer for U2, did a radio interview with Jim Daly  of Focus on the Family.  He gets really explicit about his Christian faith.  Note especially what he says about Jesus. [Read more…]

“The child who is born to you shall die”

The sermon last Sunday was about Nathan’s preaching to King David about his sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12.  Some striking insights about the role of the “sword” never departing from his house in keeping David (and us) faithful and about David’s other child, likewise descended from this sinful relationship (through Bathsheba’s child Solomon), who had to die. [Read more…]