Why churches need confessions of faith

Union University is leaving the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an organization of evangelical schools, because some of them have decided to embrace gay marriage.  Other schools are considering doing the same.  This has raised the question of what evangelicals and their institutions must be expected to believe.  If everything is left to the interpretation of the individual believer, on what grounds can a church say that the interpretation is in error?  The problem is, if you don’t have doctrinal confessions–the rejection of which many evangelicals pride themselves on–how can you make a doctrinal stand?

Westminster professor Carl Trueman, after discussing the immediate issues, concludes that if churches are going to be able to withstand the secularist onslaughts, they really need to have a specific theology worked out in their confessions of faith, as Lutherans, among others, do. [Read more…]

Christianity is not spiritual, it’s physical

In an interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber, the ELCA “pastrix,” when asked about those who consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious,” turns the terms around, saying that Christianity–what with the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Sacraments–is not so much spiritual as physical. [Read more…]

The Pope’s coming accord with evangelicals

Pope Francis believes that the Reformation is over, that the breach with Luther and later Protestants has been healed.  This is thanks to the Joint Declaration on Justification worked out between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.  (Conservative, confessional Lutherans reject that document.)  Moreover, Pope Francis has deep ties to Latin American evangelicals and charismatics.

As reported in the Catholic Herald, he has written a document declaring an end to the hostilities between Catholics and evangelicals, which he plans on issuing on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. [Read more…]

Original sin as the bedrock of democracy

More from Barton Swaim’s Wall Street Journal review of Reinhold Niebuhr’s  Major Works in Religion and Politics, explaining why the doctrine of original sin is necessary for a stable democracy. [Read more…]

Why governments cannot make utopias

The Library of America, known for its excellent editions of American literary classics, has added a theologian to its list, Reinhold Niebuhr, whose “Christian realism” taught his fellow mainline Protestants about the reality of sin, which must temper the promises of every “social gospel.”

After the jump, an excerpt from Barton Swaim’s Wall Street Journal review of his Major Works in Religion and Politics, giving Niebuhr’s reasoning and quotations from his writing, showing why utopias can’t happen and why governments must be limited.

[Read more…]

Removing a heterodox pastor

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is getting criticized for expelling a pastor and professor for publicly rejecting what the church believes.  But Aaron D. Wolf of Chronicles Magazine praises the LCMS for being willing to take this kind of action. [Read more…]