The Luther Reading Challenge

Some people from the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasburg, France, have been teaching Luther and his theology to an international crowd in Wittenberg for the last six years.  They have been amazed at how Luther’s articulation of the Gospel addresses contemporary issues and contemporary religious struggles.

So in conjunction with Lutheran Forum, this group is sponsoring a Luther Reading Challenge.

You can go to this  website to find free readings from Luther.  You can discuss them here and in groups of your own.  The reading project will continue until the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses, which will be on October 31, 2017.

Read about it after the jump and take the Luther Reading Challenge! [Read more…]

The Benedict Option

The outrage from big business (even Walmart!), the media, and the culture at large over Indiana’s Religious Freedom bill has many Christians thinking that America is a lost cause.  The dominant culture is so fixated on gay marriage and sexual permissiveness that it will not tolerate dissenters.  Even religious liberty, in the court of public opinion and likely legal opinion, will have to give way, and conservative believers will increasingly be demonized and punished.

Whether we are actually at that point or not, a number of thinkers–mostly of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox persuasion–are raising the possibility of what they call  The Benedict Option.

After Rome fell to moral chaos and then to the barbarians, St. Benedict formed distinct Christian communities where believers could practice their faith separated from the world.  Similarly, mainstream American culture may become so hostile to Christianity, so the reasoning goes, that Christians must form alternative communities, carrying on an alternative culture, until, as with Benedict, the barbarians are converted.

Rick Strickert posted some powerful quotations on this subject on Lutheran Forum, which I give after the jump.  And then I want to pose a question:  Can there be a Lutheran version of the Benedict Option, and, if so, how would it be different from the Roman Catholic and Fundamentalist versions? [Read more…]

“Power of Positive Thinking” founder dies

Rev. Robert Schuller, one of the pioneering megachurch pastors with his Crystal Cathedral and “power of positive thinking” theology, died at the age of 88. [Read more…]

“Everything is groundless and gratuitous”

More from Oswald Bayer, who shows the connection between justification and creation, as underscored in Luther’s Small Catechism:

The world was called into being without any worldly condition, in pure freedom and pure goodness.  Creation out of nothing means that everything that is exists out of sheer gratuity, out of pure goodness.  “All this is done out of pure, fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all!”  That is how Luther puts it when explaining the first article of the creed in the Small Catechism.  The terms “merit” and “worthiness” both belong directly to the language of the theology of justification.  Yet they do not occur in the exposition of the second and third articles of the creed, only in the exposition of the first.  This is a striking feature, and it indicates the breadth and depth of the justifying Word.  This Word concerns not just my history but world history and the history of nature.  It concerns all things.

Those who live in the dispute of “justifications,” asking about the ground of their own lives within this world, are told that everything is groundless and gratuitous, and they need not ground or justify themselves; it is grounded and justified only by God’s free and ungrounded Word of love.  Under no obligation and without any condition, God promises communion, communion through and beyond death.  The justification of the ungodly, the resurrection of the dead, and creation out of nothing all happen through this promise and pledge alone.  The promise of God lets us live by faith.  (Living by Faith , Chapter 6)


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Maundy Thursday and the search for the real Jesus

Anthony Sacramone discusses all of the magazine cover stories about “the search for the real Jesus” that get published during Lent, generally concluding that we can’t really know much about Him, the assumption being that the Gospels aren’t reliable.  Well, Mr. Sacramone gives a very Lutheran answer to those in search of a tangible Jesus, proposing a billboard campaign, as you can see after the jump. [Read more…]

The hidden God and the revealed God

More from Oswald Bayer:

Luther never downplays or treats as harmless the situation of temptation and testing when God withdraws and conceals himself.  He confronts it in all its depth and sharpness.  He does not ignore experiences of suffering.  Yet he still refuses to accept their finality.  He flees from the hidden God to the revealed and incarnate God.

Living by Faith , Chapter 6

[Read more…]