What’s missing in today’s churches

Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,  has published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, no less.  The problem with America’s churches today, he argues, is that so many of them have been downplaying the main message of Christianity.

We can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifices we make rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us – our performance rather than his performance for us. The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.” And my fear is that too many people, both inside and outside the church, have heard our “do more, try harder” sermons and pleas for intensified devotion and concluded that the focus of the Christian faith is the work that we do instead of the work God has done for us in the person of Jesus.

After the jump, read the whole column. [Read more…]

Conservative Catholics vs. Pope Francis

Conservative Catholics, by definition, venerate and obey the Pope.  So what do they do when the Pope is more liberal than they are? [Read more…]

New controversies in Evangelical theology

Evangelicals today are being torn by some major theological controversies.  The debate between Calvinists and Wesleyans is getting more and more heated.  Then there is a related debate between “Traditionists,” who believe Christians should hold onto the traditions of the historic church (particularly the decisions of the early church councils0 and the “Meliorists,” who reject holding onto traditions and believe the church can get better and better.  The Calvinists tend to be Traditionists (who themselves can be divided between “Biblicists” and “Paleo-Conservatives”) and the Wesleyans tend to be Meliorists.

We confessional Lutherans have our own theology worked out, of course, and in many ways might think of ourselves as above this particular fray.  And none of the debates, as far as I can tell, even bring Luther into the picture at all.  And yet I would suggest to the contending parties of both sides that they study how Lutheranism resolves Wesley and Calvin, the Bible and Tradition, Orthodoxy and Reformation.

After the jump, a sample and a link to a detailed account of what is going on in evangelical theology. [Read more…]

“Evangelization” and “Evangelism”

Pope Francis has said that he is against “proselytizing.”  But he is also speaking on what his predecessor started, the “new evangelization.”  After the jump, some of his remarks on the subject.  He is advocating “dialogue with those who do not share our beliefs,” which he has been doing, and projecting “God’s mercy and tenderness.”  He’s been doing that too.  He is talking about “witnessing,” which we often think of as a Protestant term, depending on what is meant by that.

I’m curious if there is a difference between “evangelization” and “evangelism.”  And how a Roman Catholic, in particular, for whom church membership is critical, carries out “evangelizing” without “proselytizing.”  Can Christians who are not Roman Catholics join in these efforts as he describes them?  Also, is the “evangel”–the good news of Christ’s forgiveness won on the Cross–always clear, either in Catholic “evangelization” or Protestant “evangelism”?   [Read more…]

Clergy Appreciation Month

October is “Clergy Appreciation Month.”  After the jump, some thoughts on the matter from Ray Hartwig.  Let’s use the comments to honor the occasion. What do you appreciate about your pastor?  What has he done for you?  Why are you grateful for him? [Read more…]

Leaving Catholicism

When we think of Roman Catholicism, many of us think of Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas, an edifice of doctrine and moral teaching, an all-encompassing church grounded in history and a sumptuous liturgy.  We non-Catholics may not agree with its theology and practice, but even so the institution demands a measure of respect.  But many people who become Catholics, looking for that church of what they have read about in books, do not find it in the typical parish of modern American Catholicism.  Christian writer Rod Dreher tells about how he converted to Catholicsm and why he left it for Eastern Orthodoxy–not because it was so conservative but because it was so much like liberal Protestantism. [Read more…]


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