The case against the papacy

In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States and in recognition of the papal envy being expressed by many Protestants, we offer Melanchthon’s case against the papacy, as stated in A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, one of the Lutheran confessions:

1] The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2] Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3] And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

4] These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church. [Read more…]

Kierkegaard on Luther

We keep hearing that today’s church needs to change; that is to say, it needs reformation.  What will it take to reform the church?  The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, credited or blamed for inventing existentialism, took up this same question.  First of all, he said, we need a reformer.  And the reformer needs to be like Martin Luther.

It’s fascinating–and perhaps an entry into the mindset of today’s existentialists–to see what Kierkegaard saw in Luther.  Read that after the jump, and click the link to see what he had to say about reform and false reform in the church. [Read more…]

Luther on politicians

The conventional wisdom is that Luther taught total submission to government authorities.  But you’ve got to read what he actually wrote about those government authorities.  Dr. Matthew Phillips usefully quotes from Luther’s most important treatise on earthly government and the Two Kingdoms, in which he makes the Tea Partiers sound mild. [Read more…]

The Pope goes all in on environmental issues

Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato Si  (“praise to you,” from the first words of the document), fully embracing the environmentalist cause.  It warns of global warming, says man is responsible, and calls for sweeping changes to save the earth.  It also, as we will blog tomorrow, makes some sweeping theological changes that constitute a major change in Western Christianity.

You can read the entire document in English here.  After the jump is a news account.  Then I want to pose some questions for our discussion. [Read more…]

Reviews of “Where Christ Is Present”

More shameless promotion of the new book I edited with John Warwick Montgomery, Where Christ Is Present.  (I am uncomfortable with promoting myself and my work, and you have to admit I don’t do it very often.  But I really like the essays in our collection and want people to read them.  Tell you what. . . .Buy the book, but don’t read my essay.  Just read the others.  OK, I feel better now and will now promote the book without inhibition.)

After the jump, what people are saying about the book on Amazon.  The reviews give you a good idea of what the different essays are about. [Read more…]

What’s in our new book?

The book I put together with John Warwick Montgomery, Where Christ Is Present, consists of some brilliant essays on different aspects of Lutheran teaching and practice.  As the Amazon reviews are saying of particular essays, each one is worth the price of the book.  And they aren’t just rehashing of old arguments and stale polemics.  They bring something new to the discussions and present the concept in fresh ways.

Some of them actually break new ground, or present things that I, at least, had never known before.  For example, Adam Francisco’s chapter on the Scriptures shows how the Early Church affirmed the Bible as its sole authority; later, it developed the concept of “tradition,” while insisting that the tradition is consistent with and normed by the Bible; later, though, some theologians started to teach that tradition is, in effect, above the Bible; not till fairly late in the Middle Ages was the Papacy elevated as a superior authority to both the Bible and tradition.  I never knew that.

I also learned a great deal from Angus Menuge about the influence of Lutheranism on science; Craig Parton on Christian liberty and how that is manifested in the work of the great Lutheran artist Johann Sebastian Bach; Steve Hein on the nature of the Christian life; and. . . well, all of them really.  After the jump is the Table of Contents, giving the list of chapters and their authors.

[Read more…]