Thomas More vs. the Reformation

Now that Hilary Mantel’s superb novels about Thomas Cromwell have been made into a TV series, Wolf Hall, her points about the good guys and bad guys in Tudor England are attracting attention and controversy.  Conventionally, Cromwell has been considered a Machiavellian villain who helped Henry VIII  break from the Church of Rome because of his romance with Anne Boleyn, only to later frame her for unfaithfulness.  His foil was Thomas More–later, St. Thomas More–the humanist scholar who refused to go along with these schemes at the cost of his life.

But Mantel portrays Cromwell as a decent man, carefully navigating the whims of an unstable king, while deftly advancing the cause of reform and Reformation in a corrupt society and a corrupt church.  More, on the other hand, as Mantel tells it, is a reactionary bigot, who sought to stamp out the Reformation by burning the “heretics” at the stake (which would include William Tyndale, for translating the Bible into English).

Now many Catholics are outraged at this treatment of their Renaissance saint, who has lately been held up as the model of the Christian intellectual who puts the laws of God over the laws of the state.  Mark Movesian goes so far as to say that Wolf Hall is part of the attack on religious liberty.  The depiction of More, he says, is an example of today’s mindset that the demands of the state should trump the teachings  of the church.  But, of course, it finally comes down to whether you support the beliefs of More or his victims.

Anthony Sacramone has given a quite brilliant Lutheran reply to all of this.  He includes what More said about Luther (who also opposed Henry VIII and his shenanigans), More’s defense of heretic burning, and what Purgatory meant to the people of the time. [Read more...]

Beggars at the Temple gates

The reading for last Sunday at our church was about the lame beggar at the Temple gate who was healed by Peter (Acts 3:1-21).  You should see what our pastor did with that passage, showing how we are in the position of the beggar and how we too receive God’s grace at a different kind of Temple gate. [Read more...]

What Sunday means

What does it mean that we worship on Sunday, the first day of the week?  Bart Day, national mission director for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, says that Sunday isn’t just a Christian sabbath, nor even just a “little Easter.”  It’s the first day of creation, when God called light into existence.  It’s the eighth day, an emblem of eternity after the earthly cycle of the week.  And more, after the jump. [Read more...]

Why Marco Rubio goes to two churches

A piece on the religious beliefs of presidential candidate Marco Rubio says that he attends both a Baptist church with his family and also attends mass at the  Roman Catholic church of his childhood.  This is because he appreciates gospel preaching and also “craves” Holy Communion.  He says, “I wondered why there couldn’t be a church that offered both a powerful, contemporary gospel message and the actual body and blood of Jesus.”

There is such a thing, Marco Rubio!  It’s called the Lutheran church!  You don’t have to go to two different churches to get both the Gospel and the true Body and Blood of Christ.  Those go together, which is the whole point of Lutheranism.  Why don’t people know this?  [Read more...]

The Benedict Option

The outrage from big business (even Walmart!), the media, and the culture at large over Indiana’s Religious Freedom bill has many Christians thinking that America is a lost cause.  The dominant culture is so fixated on gay marriage and sexual permissiveness that it will not tolerate dissenters.  Even religious liberty, in the court of public opinion and likely legal opinion, will have to give way, and conservative believers will increasingly be demonized and punished.

Whether we are actually at that point or not, a number of thinkers–mostly of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox persuasion–are raising the possibility of what they call  The Benedict Option.

After Rome fell to moral chaos and then to the barbarians, St. Benedict formed distinct Christian communities where believers could practice their faith separated from the world.  Similarly, mainstream American culture may become so hostile to Christianity, so the reasoning goes, that Christians must form alternative communities, carrying on an alternative culture, until, as with Benedict, the barbarians are converted.

Rick Strickert posted some powerful quotations on this subject on Lutheran Forum, which I give after the jump.  And then I want to pose a question:  Can there be a Lutheran version of the Benedict Option, and, if so, how would it be different from the Roman Catholic and Fundamentalist versions? [Read more...]

“Power of Positive Thinking” founder dies

Rev. Robert Schuller, one of the pioneering megachurch pastors with his Crystal Cathedral and “power of positive thinking” theology, died at the age of 88. [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X