Kim Davis meets the Pope

Pope Francis met when he was here with Kim Davis, the county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  It’s strange to think of an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian, which Kim Davis is, holding much store with the Pope of Rome.  But that the Pope met with her puts flesh and blood to his rather vague statements on religious liberty.

He also made a point of meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have been fighting in court for the right not to comply with Obamacare contraception requirements.

The media emphasized the Pope’s liberal pronouncements, but not so much his conservative ones.  But his actions show that he supports religious accommodations for those whose conscience cannot accept culture war laws. [Read more...]

Checking in from Denmark

I have no idea what time it will be in the States when this post goes up, but I have a little time and an internet connection, so I thought I’d check in.  Our trip went very smoothly and we are exploring Denmark before my lecture at the university tomorrow.  Denmark, with the rest of Scandinavia, is considered one of the most secular of countries, but I have been meeting many strong Christians who are a true delight.   I’m learning that the religious picture is more complicated and nuanced than I realized,  that there will always be a remnant in Christ’s church, and that when Christianity is not just the cultural thing to be, those who do bother to go to church take it very seriously.   I’ll report more on these things when I fully digest my experience.   Anyway, we’re having a good time and wish you were here!

Christian, Christian-influenced, and anti-Christian

Ross Douthat, a Catholic columnist for the New York Times, has written about the difference between some of the various strains of orthodox Christianity and the various heresies that are still in the Christian orbit (including what he calls “Americanized Christianity”).  Then there is Christian influence, which can even be seen in people who reject Christianity.  But at some point, as we are starting to see, there is a mindset and a culture that are utterly devoid of anything Christian.  Please read his whole essay, but I quote how he finishes after the jump. [Read more...]

The Pope’s sermon to America

Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress, taking the opportunity to preach against tenets of both liberalism and conservatism.  Liberals were zinged by his remarks opposing abortion, redefining the family, and infringing upon religious liberty.  Conservatives were zinged by his remarks on the necessity of supporting immigrants, measures to combat climate change, the elimination of the death penalty, tempering the excesses of capitalism, offering help for the poor, and (interestingly) opposing “fundamentalism.”

To his credit, the Pope twice mentioned “vocation” in a more or less Lutheran sense (as opposed to the medieval Catholic application of the term to church professions alone):

A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.

“Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).

Here is an annotated text of the speech (click the yellow highlights for the annotations).  After the jump, a detailed account of what the Pope said and how Congressmen and Senators reacted. [Read more...]

The case against the papacy

In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States and in recognition of the papal envy being expressed by many Protestants, we offer Melanchthon’s case against the papacy, as stated in A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, one of the Lutheran confessions:

1] The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2] Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3] And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

4] These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church. [Read more...]

The Pope gets here today

Today at 4:00 p.m. ET, Pope Francis will arrive in Washington, D.C.  The next day he will visit the White House.  On Thursday the pope will address a joint session of Congress, the first time that has ever happened.  Friday he’ll be in New York, addressing the UN, and Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia.

What do we make of this?  Is this political adulation appropriate for a religious leader?  Why wouldn’t the head of the Lutheran World Federation or the International Baptist Convention get–or want– this kind of treatment?

On what issues do you think the pontiff will pontificate?  (We know he will be pro-immigration, pro-environmentalism, and pro-life.  Will he be more help to liberals or conservatives?) [Read more...]