My take on the Lutheran/Calvinist discussion

Some thoughts on the discussion about Lutherans and Calvinists that was provoked by thoughts from Peter Leithhart and D. G. Hart.  (To get up to date with the latest contributions, see also what Anthony Sacramone had to say about it, as well as Dr. Hart’s rejoinder.)

I am one Lutheran who is not a Calvinist basher.  Having grown up in mainline liberal Protestantism and then hanging out in grad school with collegiate evangelicals, I heard about God’s grace for the first time from a friend who was a Calvinist.  It had never occurred to me and I had never been taught that God accomplishes everything for my salvation.  I found that very liberating.  I read Calvin’s Institutes and was greatly instructed.  I credit Calvin for leading me to Luther, whose theology seemed to me to have everything I appreciated in Calvinism while avoiding some of its problems.   In Lutheranism, I would find  dimensions of grace that I never dreamed of before.  But, frankly, if there had been a Calvinist church in the small Oklahoma town where I got my first teaching job, I might have gone in that direction.  Instead, there was a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which opened up to me dimensions of grace that I had never dreamed of before, including a deeply sacramental kind of spirituality.  Which brings up my first point:  [Read more...]

Why is Calvinism so influential and not Lutheranism?

There are lots more Lutherans than Calvinists.  And Calvinism has all of those scary doctrines like double predestination and the limited atonement, whereas Lutheranism is, well, happier, with its emphasis on the certainty of grace, Christian freedom, and its affirmation of the secular realm as God’s hidden kingdom.  And yet it’s Calvinism that has been so influential in English and American Christianity and the culture as a whole.  So marvels D. G. Hart, himself a confessional Calvinist and a perceptive scholar of American Christianity.  Read his ruminations after the jump, and then offer your own theories about why this is.

UPDATE:  Anthony Sacramone, former Calvinist who is now a Lutheran, has a very helpful response.

[Read more...]

Reformational Catholicism

Calvinist theologian Peter Leithhart is calling for “The End of Protestantism.”  It should be replaced, he says, by “Reformational Catholicism,” which he goes on to describe.  Much of what he is calling for sounds like Lutheranism.  Is it?  His essay and questions from me after the jump. [Read more...]

Faith & feelings

Are your emotions often out of synch with your faith?  Does God feel far away?  Do your dry feelings make you wonder  if you even have genuine faith?  Are you plagued with lingering guilt, dark thoughts, and spiritual depression?  Maybe you need to hear this presentation from Rod Rosenbladt.

The audio and the lecture notes are available free from New Reformation Press.  A summary after the jump. [Read more...]

Allowing divorced Catholics to take Communion?

Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic hierarchy are reportedly re-considering the practice of denying Communion to Catholics who have  divorced and remarried.

Details after the jump.  Notice in the church debates over the issue how we can see Rome’s teaching that the Sacrament is for those who are holy, rather than for those who need the forgiveness of sins.  We also see Rome’s opposition to divorce, while still allowing divorce-like annulments. [Read more...]

Speedfaithing

You know about speed dating.  A man and a woman sit down together for 3-8 minutes (depending on how it’s set up) to see if they hit it off, then move to a new table for 3-8 minutes with someone else.  Now there is speedfaithing, in which people go to different tables to hear from advocates of different religions, who have 10 minutes to make their case.

After the jump, a news story about speedfaithing in Irvine, California, along with a challenge for you commenters. I’m struck more, though, about the last sentence of the story and what it reveals about what people, including this atheist, think religion is all about.  ” ‘I’m a good person,’” says the atheist representative, “‘ and I don’t necessarily need religion to show I’m a good person.’ ”  OK.  Then there are the Christian tables for all of us bad persons; that is, sinners. [Read more...]


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