How church growth strategies keep missing the point

Rachel Held Evans tells about how churches that want to reach young people keep missing the point, trying to be cooler and hipper and more contemporary instead of attending to the far greater issues of substance.  Yes, she is calling for a measure of liberalism, but notice what else she is calling for.  Read what she says after the jump and then consider my comments. [Read more...]

The Salvation of Unborn Children

What is the eternal destiny of children who die in the womb or who are aborted?  Some have said that their original sin merits eternal condemnation.  Most such a horrible conclusion hasn’t rung true for most Christians.  Roman Catholics have posited the existence of “Limbo,” a place of natural–though not supernatural–happiness for the unbaptized.  The Orthodox see the Fall as giving only the predisposition to sin and not sin itself, so children who die before they are baptized go to Heaven.  Calvinists have recourse to their doctrine of election.  Arminians see no problem for those who never had the opportunity for a decision.  Baptists say no one can be lost before the “age of accountability.”  Lutherans leave it to the Grace of God.

But Martin Chemnitz, the second greatest Lutheran theologian and the man most responsible for the Book of Concord has actually addressed this question in his classic treatment of Christology, The Two Natures in Christ:

“This teaching [the doctrine of the hypostatic union] is not idle sophistry, for it is an article of faith that Mary did not beget a man in whom God dwelt. Rather she bore the only Son of God by receiving His flesh, as Augustine says, “He was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary who for this reason and in this sense is correctly called the God-bearer (Theotochos).” If reverently considered, this act produces the most comforting thoughts. For the Son of God embraced the human race with such great love that He did not shrink from descending to such a humble state that He not only did not assume a man who was already formed and born, but rather He united to Himself personally an individual human body in the very moment of its conception and made it His own. Thus the Son of God in assuming His own flesh, but without sin, also endured those things which commonly befall man in conception, pregnancy, and birth (as the fathers of the Council of Ephesus said), so that from His very beginning, rise, and, as it were, root, He might first restore in Himself our depraved nature and so cleanse and sanctify our contaminated conception and birth that we might know that Christ’s salvation applies even to man’s fetus in conception, gestation, and birth.”  

Chemnitz’s Works: The Two Natures in Christ, (St. Louis:  CPH, 2007), p. 102. [Read more...]

LCMS convention post mortem

The convention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is over.  There were no big controversies.  Virtually all of the resolutions passed, overwhelmingly, and those that didn’t were defeated overwhelmingly.  No challenges to Lutheran orthodoxy even came up.  The delegates were pretty much all on the same conservative page.  After the jump, Lutheran journalist Mollie Hemingway writes about the difficulty religion reporters have in covering a church convention that is peaceful and non-contentious.

But surely what didn’t happen is huge news for Lutherans.  To be sure, issues remain, but could it be that the LCMS is getting unified again?

Were any of you there?  Please report. [Read more...]

The Pope refuses to judge gay people

Pope Francis, responding to reporters’ questions, said, “Who am I to judge gay people?”  Though what he said about homosexuality and gay priests is being hailed as a revolutionary change, he really didn’t alter church teaching.  He just spun it differently.  After the jump, an account of what he said and some reflections. [Read more...]

De Toqueville on Christianity in America

Democracy in America, written by the French aristocrat Alexis de Toqueville in 1835, is full of stunningly perceptive and prescient insights into American culture, many of which are valid today nearly three hundred years later.  Paula Bolyard discusses what he says about Christianity in the Republic, suggesting that his description of the church as profoundly influential, while distinctly separate from politics, is a good model for today.  You should read her essay, but I’ll just post her quotations from De Toqueville. [Read more...]

Recovering the freakishness of Christianity

Russell Moore, identified as per our previous discussion as one of those “Lutheran Baptists,” was recently appointed head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, which makes pronouncements on public policy for that church body.  But Rev. Moore is going far beyond the usual rightwing talking points that have been associated with Christian conservatives.  In an interview with Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post, he gives some thoughtful comments about generic civil religion, abortion, military chaplains, and religious freedom. [Read more...]


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