Baptists discovering toddler baptism

Southern Baptists are concerned that the number of baptisms is way down.  (And yet many of their churches are growing.  Is it that converts, new members, and the Millennial generation are unwilling today to be baptized?)  But one demographic of Baptists is getting baptized in greater and greater numbers:  children five and under.

That is not all that different from what we Lutherans practice as infant baptism.  Traditionally, Baptists–who require faith as a precondition of baptism, rather than seeing baptism as a means of grace and the faith that receives it– have insisted that infants and young children cannot have faith.  I have never understood that.  Of course babies and toddlers can have faith.  They have faith–which has to do with trust, a sense of dependency, and relationship and is never just intellectual knowledge–in their parents.  Why not in their Heavenly Father?  So I salute this trend among Baptists! [Read more…]

Denmark requires all churches to do gay weddings

Denmark passed a law requiring all churches to perform same-sex weddings.  Not just the state Lutheran church, all churches.  The news story on the subject has another interesting detail:  The government “church minister” who supervises the state  church and who pushed the law against Christian opposition is an agnostic.  Can you see this happening here, with anti-discrimination laws being applied to churches?  [Read more…]

Vocation Bible School

Paul McCain tells me that the 2015 Vacation Bible School curriculum from Concordia Publishing House for 2015 will be about Vocation! [Read more…]

Is the free market incompatible with Catholicism?

The pope’s right-hand man has essentially declared that free market economics is incompatible with Catholicism.  Speaking at a conference entitled “Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case against Libertarianism,” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, drawing on statements from Pope Francis, said that the free market economy “kills” and oppresses the poor.

His condemnation seemed to conflate Ayn Rand-style libertarianism with free market economics, but it also scored theological points against the assumptions of autonomous individualism.  Many prominent American advocates of free market economic policies–such as Rep. Paul Ryan, Father Robert Sirico,  and Michael Novak–are Roman Catholics.

Catholic conservatives, what do you make of this?  Do these arguments carry any wait for Protestants, or is Protestantism tied up with the same “autonomous individualism”? [Read more…]

The Upper Room

Something I picked up in church:  The “upper room” that was the setting for the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-12) was also very likely the same “upper room” in which the Disciples met to replace Judas (Acts 1:13).  That means it was also the place where Jesus washed His Disciple’s feet and since it was the place “where they were staying” in Jerusalem, it must have been where Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection and was very likely where the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost (Acts 2:1), which we celebrate this Sunday.  So this room was, in effect, the first church-as-building.  And it reminds us of what happens even today in church buildings, which are the places where we too receive the Lord’s Supper, serve each other, meet the Risen Lord, and receive the Holy Spirit.

Pastoral care for the transgendered?

The latest Time Magazine cover story announces  that “another social movement is poised to challenge deeply held cultural beliefs”; namely, that of  the transgendered (men who feel they are women, and women who feel like men, often undergoing surgery accordingly).

A few years ago, seminary professor and now head of the Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission talked about how to minister to a transgendered convert or member of your congregation.  I’m curious if you agree or have a better idea.  But is it the pastor’s job to try to “fix” a particular kind of sinner, or is it sufficient to preach the Word in law and gospel, employ confession and absolution, and administer Baptism and Holy Communion, leaving the outcome to God as with everyone else in the congregation?

[Read more…]