The Pope’s preacher says Luther was right

British religion reporter Christopher Howse tells about a sermon from Pope Benedict XVI ‘s preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, that basically concedes that Luther was right on justification.  Well, sort of.

This was in the context of the Joint Declaration on Justification between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.  We confessional Lutherans deny that this accord was a true agreement, but this sermon–published in the book Remember Jesus Christ–faults Catholics for neglecting justification.  Howse’s discussion, however, also shows the differences that remain.

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Imaginary Yelp reviews from famous theologians

What might Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, Billy Graham, John Chrysostom, Tim Keller, and the Apostle Paul say about Joel Osteen’s church, with its Prosperity Gospel and Power of Positive Thinking?

Anthony Sacramone has the spiritual gift of being able to give spot-on madcap imitations of famous preachers and theologians.  See what he does in imagining Yelp reviews of Rev. Osteen’s church from those distinguished figures. [Read more…]

Calling God a woman

Now that the Church of England has ordained its first female bishops, it is considering changing the Book of Common Prayer and catechetical materials to refer to God as “she” and as “mother.”  (This will probably be in formulations like “father and mother” as some liberal churches are already doing.)

Here is a good response to this effort from a Roman Catholic perspective:  Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God “Mother.” [Read more…]

God from above vs. God from below

I’ve started working through the Christian Year of Grace by Johann Spangenberg, a contemporary of Luther who, as a pastor and educator, wanted to provide laypeople a guide to help with the devotional reading of the newly-available Scriptures.  He took the appointed Scripture readings for each Sunday, then–as a classical educator trained in dialectic–offered questions and answers that take the reader deeply into the riches of these texts.

After the jump, I’ll give you an excerpt from his treatment of Romans 11:33-36, the Epistle reading for Trinity Sunday:  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God:  how incomprehensible are His judgments, how unsearchable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord?” [Read more…]

Asserting vs. Explaining

On Trinity Sunday yesterday, I worshipped at the church of my son-in-law, the Rev. Ned Moerbe, who made a useful distinction between “asserting” and “explaining.” [Read more…]

So should we baptize machines?

The hype about artificial intelligence has some speculating that at some point a computer might have what we might call a soul.  So some theologians are wondering if machines advance to that point, should they be evangelized?  Should they be baptized?

Thomas D. Williams writes about this line of reasoning and why it is unlikely that machines would be able to become Christians.  In addition to “artificial intelligence” meaning something completely different from the human ability to reason, machines would not have inherited original sin so would not be in need of saving (the AI apocalypse crowd may be projecting human-style sinfulness on inanimate objects), and Jesus, according to the Athanasian Creed, came “for us men and for our salvation,” not for animals, much less for machines.  See Williams’s argument after the jump. [Read more…]