Luther, Madison, and the Two Kingdoms

Rev. Matthew Harrison, the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, discusses a letter President James Madison sent to a Lutheran pastor in 1821 upon reading one of his sermons:

It is a pleasing and persuasive example of pious zeal, united with pure benevolence and of a cordial attachment to a particular creed, untinctured with sectarian illiberality. It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.

 President Harrison then goes on to give a very clear and perceptive explanation of the Doctrine of the  Two Kingdoms, which Madison was picking up on, which gives an alternative both to the view that the church should try to rule the world and the view that Christians should withdraw from that world. [Read more...]

The new culture war?

The liberal Catholic columnist E. J. Dionne says that the old culture wars are fading, but that a new culture war is taking shape.  The new one has to do with battles over immigration and poverty.  Complicating those controversies, he says, is that the Roman Catholic church of Pope Francis takes “liberal” positions on immigration and poverty, while still taking “conservative” positions on the old culture war issues of abortion and sex. [Read more...]

Christianity Today’s 2015 Book Awards

Christianity Today has announced its 2015 Book Awards.   Two titles are recognized in the categories of Apologetics/Evangelism, Biblical Studies, Christianity & Culture, Christian Living, The Church/Pastoral Leadership, Fiction, History & Biography, Missions/Global Affairs, Spirituality, Theology/Ethics, Her.Meneutics.  See the list and a little about each title here.

In my experience, this is usually a very good list, alerting me each year to some titles worth reading.  I was a judge, actually, and I was glad to see that my top two choices in the culture category were chosen.  You can see those after the jump.  But go ahead to the main site for the entire list.

The descriptions of these two book are excerpted from longer reviews.  Later, I’ll post my full reviews so that you can see why these books are so good. [Read more...]

The faults of No-Fault divorce

Re-building the institution of marriage requires changing the no-fault divorce laws, argue Thomas Farr and Hilary Towers.  Another product of the 1960s, these laws have had unintended social consequences, to the point that “the only contract that is utterly unenforceable in law is marriage.” [Read more...]

The Progressive, big business alliance

Contrary to the conventional wisdom that big business is conservative, big business actually loves big government.  So argues new urbanist Joel Kotkin (a Democrat) in his new book about the actual American elites:  The New Class Conflict.  George Will reviews the book after the jump. [Read more...]

Who are the churchless?

The Barna Group has finished a major study of people who do not go to church.  (They used to be called the “unchurched”; this study calls them “churchless.”)  And it has some surprises.  For example, the churchless tend to be less educated than those who go to church, are mostly white, men, unmarried, and young.  Also, nearly two-thirds of the unchurched consider themselves to be Christians.  See Barna’s “Ten Facts” about the churchless after the jump. [Read more...]


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