Evangelicals take part in Vatican marriage conference

Evangelicals, Pentecostalists, and even Mormons took part in a recent Vatican conference on marriage, which was hosted by Pope Francis.  Southern Baptist social ministries spokesman Russell Moore was an invited speaker.  So was megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who was said to have turned the Roman Catholic meeting into a “revivalist meeting.”  (Does anyone know if any Lutherans participated?)  The Catholics gave the evangelicals a standing ovation.

Do you think this was a good thing–religious people of various stripes rallying in defense of marriage–or a problematic and potentially dangerous  bit of unionism? [Read more...]

Engaging vs. accommodating the culture

My longtime friend, the Rev. Harold Senkbeil, has an article in the latest Concordia Journal entitled “Engaging the Culture Faithfully.”  It is a scathing critique of how the Church as a whole has been accommodating the culture instead of truly engaging it.  At the same time, it offers a genuinely pastoral response.

The article isn’t online, but Pastor Matthew Dent has posted some piercing quotations at Steadfast Lutherans, which you can see after the jump. [Read more...]

The Marriage Pledge?

Some ministers are signing a “marriage pledge” promising not to sign state marriage licenses as a protest against legalized gay marriage.

This strikes me as a terrible, if well-intentioned, idea.  Doesn’t this mean that the marriages performed by these pastors won’t be legally recognized, unless the couple goes through a separate civil service?  Also, at least for Lutherans but also for most Protestants, marriage is not a sacrament; rather, it falls under the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Left, so that it falls under civil jurisdiction.  (The Reformers fought hard to get marriage out from under the restrictions of the church’s Canon Law into the laws of the state.) In a wedding, the church blesses the marriage in God’s name, which is very important, but it doesn’t create a marriage in a sacramental sense.  (It would for Catholics, so I can see how they could sign a marriage pledge, but I can’t see how Protestants could.  That marriage has to do with the temporal authorities does not mean that the state can create new definitions of marriage, but it still has a legitimate legal authority that we are obliged to honor.)

So I don’t see how the marriage pledge can be either legally or theologically correct.  But maybe I’m missing something, so I’m open to correction.  Read the pledge after the jump. [Read more...]

Legalism vs. Antinomianism vs. knowing the Master

Last Sunday our pastor preached on the dangers of falling into either of the two ditches along the side of the road:  legalism and antinomianism.  Both, he said, leave out Jesus.  He went on to explore what that means with a reading of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) that I had never thought of before. [Read more...]

Why pastors’ housing allowance is tax-exempt

As we reported, an appeals court upheld the practice of pastors not having to pay taxes on their housing allowance.  But, you might ask, why is that?  Joe Carter explains the history of that provision, putting it into the context of the laws exempting religious property from taxation that go back through English Common Law  into ancient times. [Read more...]

Pastors’ housing allowance upheld

Pastors have traditionally been allowed to take a large percentage of their salary as a tax-free housing allowance.  A lower court last year ruled that the benefit is unconstitutional.  But now an appeals court has overturned that decision, meaning that the housing allowance is still on. [Read more...]


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