Islamic State’s ultimatum for Christians

The Islamic State–formerly known as the ISIS insurgents in Iraq–gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum.  Any who had not left by Saturday would have to either convert to Islam, submit to the dhimmi contract (the tax and set of restrictions on non-Muslims according to Islamic law), or be killed. [Read more…]

Was Luther a Calvinist?

Short answer:  NO!  But Calvinists often claim him for their own.  Douglas Sweeney,Trinity Evangelical Seminary church historian, takes up this question at the Gospel Coalition site, showing where Luther and Lutherans stand vis a vis the Five Points of Calvinism.  It’s a good discussion.

Prof. Sweeney stresses that the controversy between Calvinism and Arminianism, according to which Calvinists evaluate all theologies, is very much a disagreement among Reformed Christians, and isn’t easily applicable to separate theological traditions, such as the Lutherans, Anglicans, and Anabaptists.   What sets apart Lutheranism from the Reformed, of course, whether Calvinist or Arminian, is the issue of the Sacraments, which aren’t discussed here.  Still, read the analysis.  Is there anything missing? [Read more…]

Pope says 1 in 50 priests is a pedophile

In another controversial interview, Pope Francis said that Vatican research has found that 2% of priests–including bishops and cardinals–are pedophiles.  That comes to 1 in 50 of the 414,000 priests.  He also said that he planned to find a “solution” for priestly celibacy, noting as Protestants have always said, that the requirement was not instituted for the first 900 years of Christendom. [Read more…]

How do we bless God?

We know that God blesses us.  But the Bible also speaks of us blessing God.  How does that work?  How can mere human beings “bless the LORD”? What can we do to benefit Him, the One who needs nothing?

I learned in Bible class recently that there is a blessing from greater to lesser, when God gives gifts to mortals, but also when kings bestow gifts to their subjects, etc.  But there is also a blessing from lesser to greater.  This kind of blessing–when the subject blesses the king or the mortal blesses God–consists mainly of thanksgiving. [Read more…]

The catholicity of Lutherans

Many evangelicals are trying to come to grips with the catholicity of the Church and are looking for ways to fit themselves into the historical universal Church.  Some are searching for ways to integrate the Protestant with the Catholic traditions.  Some are saying we should downplay denominational differences as a way to be more “catholic,” as the ecumenical movement did.

But the estimable Mathew Block, communications director for the Lutheran Church Canada, has written a thoughtful essay on this subject, focusing on the catholicity of Lutherans and how Lutherans already embody the kind of Evangelical Catholicism that many people are looking for.  The essay, which you should read completely,  is linked after the jump, but I give his conclusion. [Read more…]

The frustrations of ecumenical Protestants

Liberal Protestants, such as the members of the Lutheran World Federation, are strongly committed to ecumenism, and they have been pursuing talks with the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox.  But since the Protestant bodies have been ordaining women, accepting homosexuality, and advocating abortion, those talks have been going nowhere.  Surprise, surprise.  So now the ecumenical Protestants are all frustrated, as if their own projects of cutting themselves off from the historic church wouldn’t cut them off from historic churches.

This is another example of the overarching catholicity of the church over against innovations that turn former branches of the church into sects.  Mathew Block, whom I also quote in today’s post about “catholicity,” tells about a recent dialogue between the liberal Lutherans and the Orthodox, making the point that confessional Lutherans, such as those that belong to the International Lutheran Council, would be far better to talk with. [Read more…]