Letting the culture do the work of the church

Political scientist James R. Rogers (a member of the LCMS) argues that a big part of the problem in American Christianity today is that, for a long time, churches have relied on the culture to instill morality, rather than instilling Christian morality themselves.  Ever since the Sixties, though, the culture has been taking a different turn. . . . [Read more...]

More on the Pope’s openness to communion with Lutherans

As we blogged about, Pope Francis recently visited a Lutheran church in Rome, where, in answer to a question, he expressed openness to allowing Roman Catholics and Lutherans to commune together.  An article on the subject and an interview with the pastor of the Roman Lutheran congregation have been published in the National Catholic Register.  The interview is excerpted here after the jump.

We conservative Lutherans agree with conservative Catholics in being opposed to any kind of intercommunion between the churches.  We both agree that communion requires full doctrinal agreement.  The pastor here is of the Lutheran World Fellowship/ELCA variety, which believes otherwise and that ecumenical unity trumps just about every other consideration.

But I found two things interesting in this discussion.  First, the interviewer does not have a clue about what Lutherans believe about Holy Communion.  He uses “the Real Presence” to describe the Catholic view, assuming that Lutherans don’t believe in that, even though the term is a Lutheran concept!

More significantly, though, the Pope is acknowledging that Lutherans have the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, that the Lutheran sacrament is valid.  I don’t know that a pope has ever acknowledged that before.  And if the Sacrament is valid, that means the Lutheran pastoral office is valid, which, as the pastor says, has long been a key issue. [Read more...]

Indulgences for the Jubilee Year

Nearly 500 years after the 95 Theses, Roman Catholics still believe in indulgences that will free you or someone else from the punishments of Purgatory.  A big one is offered in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as initiated by the Pope when he opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s basilica last Tuesday.

If you go through this door or one of other designated doors in churches throughout the world and fulfilled some other conditions (not paying money–the Counter Reformation accepted Luther’s arguments about that), you will be given a plenary indulgence that will give you complete remission of punishment for your sins up to that point.  You may receive one plenary indulgence per day for subsequent sins or to release others from Purgatory.  (But I thought souls want to be purged from their sins in Purgatory, according to modern Catholic and even some evangelical apologists for the doctrine!  And if you can pay for others’ sins, why can’t Christ pay for all?)

Anyway, see how the plenary indulgence works, from a Catholic website, after the jump. [Read more...]

Pope says to preach Gospel, then Law

The Pope began his Jubilee Year of Mercy by ceremonially opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s basilica.  (More on that and the indulgences going through a door like that will get you in a later post.)  In the accompanying address, Pope Francis reversed what Lutherans say about preaching the Law (to awaken hearers to their sinful condition), then the Gospel (the message of free salvation won by Christ on the Cross).  He said to first preach God’s mercy and THEN preach God’s judgement. [Read more...]

Sexual ethics are part of social justice

Many people, including the Pope, are saying that the church should devote more attention to social justice as opposed to to sexual ethics.  First Things editor Matthew Schmitz, a Catholic, reminds us that sexual ethics are part of social justice. [Read more...]

How megachurches are doing

Megachurches continue to attract big numbers, but, according to a new study, people aren’t attending as often; the churches are keeping baby boomers but losing Gen-Xers and Millennials;  and they are emulating smaller congregations by having smaller sanctuaries with more services and having multiple sites. [Read more...]


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