A Reformed & a Lutheran take on Lent

The online periodical the Federalist has two articles on Lent–specifically, on observances such as giving things up for Lent.  One is by a Reformed pastor, Rev. Brian Lee, entitled  Repent of Lent:  How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad for Your Soul.  The other is by a Lutheran pastor, my friend, Rev. Todd Peperkorn, entitled  Why Lent Should Matter to Everyone.

Read them both.  What did you learn from the two articles?  Which one, in your opinion, makes the best case?

HT:  Reg & Abby

Pornography, Idolatry, and the manipulable image

Dr. Jack Kilcrease has a rather brilliant post at Theologia Crucis on the connection between pornography and idolatry.  Both fixate on images that can be manipulated according to our desires, as opposed to the “real presence” of an actual human spouse or of the true God.

A bonus in that post is a discussion of how the Reformed view religious images vs. how Lutherans view them. [Read more...]

How to see what is invisible

The final gem I want to share with you from last Sunday’s sermon at our church is this quote from the early church father Theodore of Mopsuestia: “We have eyes to see what is visible, and faith to see what is invisible.” [Read more...]

“They’re not the enemy”

Have you noticed how Jesus fulfilled the Sermon on the Mount–turning the other cheek, returning good for evil, exemplifying each of the Beatitudes?  We don’t, but He did, on our behalf.

Now note how Pastor Douthwaite treats “love your enemies,” moving from Law to Gospel, with a bit of the Gospel-motivated Third Use of the Law. [Read more...]

Be different

We had another great sermon on Sunday.  This one was about holiness, based on the section in the Sermon on the Mount about “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-48) and Moses’ call to holiness (Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18).  I got so much out of the sermon that I’m going to devote three posts to it.  Today:  Law.  Tomorrow:  Gospel.  Next day, a really thought-provoking quotation.

In the most basic sense, Pastor Douthwaite explained, “holiness” means “set apart.”  So being holy means, on one level, simply being different. [Read more...]

“Scare the living daylights out of nonbelievers”

Final:  The Rapture is another end times movie.  It’s billed as a “Christian horror movie.”  The purpose, according to filmmaker Tim Chey, is to “win people to Christ” by scaring “the living daylights out of nonbelievers.”

After the jump, I excerpt a story about the movie with various quotations that I put in bold.   I know that the Law terrifies, as it drives us to the Gospel.  But that doesn’t mean that anything that terrifies is the Law.  Does there seem to be either Law or Gospel in this particular evangelism project?

And what do you make of all of this interest in this particular interpretation of the End Times?

[Read more...]

Create in me a clean heart

Last Sunday, Pastor Douthwaite riffed on the hearts of Valentine’s Day and on the sins of the “heart” that the readings from Deuteronomy 30 and Matthew 5 were exposing.  Then he explored David’s prayer in Psalm 51 that God “create” in him a clean heart, tying in to the way God creates:  ex nihilo  (out of nothing) [Read more...]

Why the family & the church are prior to the state

In the context of a discussion of the movie The Wolf of Wall Street,  Dr. Jack Kilcrease discusses Luther’s concept of the “Orders of Creation” (in each of which we have vocations).  God established the family (the marriage of Adam & Eve) and the church (ordering His relationship with Adam & Eve) BEFORE the Fall.  God established the state AFTER the Fall, as a response to human sin, which now needs to be restrained for society to be possible.   Thus, the church and the family are more basic to human existence in God’s design than the state.  When these orders get confused–as when the state takes the place of the church and the family–trouble ensues. [Read more...]

Pro-American vs. Anti-American conservatives

Political theorist Patrick J. Deneen notes two different and conflict schools among Roman Catholic conservatives:  one believes that Catholic Christianity is compatible with American democracy, with its ideals of freedom, individual rights, free markets, etc.  The other faction believes that all of these American ideals grow out of a philosophical liberalism that is incompatible with Catholic Christianity.

Read Prof. Deneen’s account, excerpted after the jump.  Can these arguments have resonance for non-Catholic Christians?  Or non-Christian conservatives?  Are American Christians too wedded to “Americanism”?  Or would the anti-American line of thought yield a political system that is far worse? [Read more...]

Are Lutherans boring?

Yet another definitive answer to the question, Why not Lutheranism?, has been written.  This one is by Anthony Sacramone and you simply must read all of it.  It is both humorous and profound.  He says that Lutherans are essentially boring, both in a bad and a good way.  He shows why Lutheranism doesn’t show up in pop culture–so therefore it doesn’t exist for many people, especially Millennials.  He cites other things that come across as boring, including the fact that Lutheran churches can’t seem to get their liturgical act together.

But then he concludes with a rousing case for Lutheranism and how to get people to try it.  I’ll give you a sample of that after the jump, but, please, read the whole thing, not just the happy ending.

[Read more...]