Top 25 Christian Classics

Christian History surveyed 70 of its authors to compile the 25 most influential Christian writings, after the Bible.   Martin Luther had three titles, second only to St. Augustine, who had four.  See the list and links after the jump.

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LCMS dissolves relationship with Boy Scouts

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has formally dissolved its Memorandum of Understanding with the Boy Scouts of America.  As of now, congregations may still sponsor troops, though a task force will apparently study whether that should continue.  The action is due to the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow for gay scoutmasters and various legal issues that grow out of that decision.

I wonder if this could help the LCMS relationship with the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Synod (ELS), who rejected scouting a long time ago, though on grounds of syncretism and unionism rather than the gay revolution. [Read more…]

Russian Orthodox declare “holy war” against terrorism

The Orthodox church has once against assumed its traditional role in Russia, giving moral support to the reigning regime.  Now in support of the Russian military intervention in Syria, the church has declared a “holy war” against terrorism.

Could any of you Orthodox readers explain the relationship between the various branches of your church?  I know that there is supposed to be a doctrinal unity between them all, and they all uphold the authority of the bishops.  Do the actions of these Russian bishops carry weight with you?  (I know, for example, that the murdered Czar and his family members have been or are being canonized by the Russian church.  So, if you are Antiochan Orthodox, are you obliged also to recognize them as saints?)

But can there really be a Christian jihad?

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Whether or not we kick the football

The Peanuts Movie currently in  theaters is a critical and commercial hit, and it brings back to mind the genius of cartoonist Charles Schulz.  I stumbled upon a great quotation from Schulz–a devout Christian–about humor, happiness, grace, and faith. [Read more…]

The 1st use of the Law and the new commenting system

We theology nerds talk quite a bit about the Second Use of the Law (the theological use, the “mirror,” which convicts us of sin and drives us to the Gospel), and we argue about the Third Use of the Law (the didactic use, the “guide,” which shows Christians how to live).  We don’t usually say much about the First Use of the Law (the civil use, the “curb,” which enables sinners to live in societies).

The First Use of the Law concerns only external righteousness.  There is no merit to it, no question of earning salvation by external compliance.  Jesus teaches us that we violate the commandment against murder when we hate our brother, and we violate the commandment against adultery when we lust after someone in our hearts.  That inner state is where our status as sinners is evidenet, and it is this inner condition that the Gospel addresses.  But it is also important not to murder anyone externally or to actually commit adultery.  This external righteousness is absolutely necessary if human beings are to live together in families, nations, and societies.  Even someone boiling over with sinfulness on the inside can, on the outside, be a good citizen.

Our sinful nature has to be “curbed.”  The Law achieves this by means of things like parental discipline, the state’s legal system, and social sanctions.  The Law’s first use can make us feel guilt and shame.  We would be ashamed to actually do some of the things we fantasize about.  Many harmful enterprises are held back when the question arises, What if someone finds out?  Being held back by such considerations does not make us a moral person–we shouldn’t have had those fantasies in the first place–but they make civil society possible. [Read more…]

Pope Francis on intercommunion with Lutherans

Pope Francis met with a congregation of Lutherans in Rome, giving them a chalice and kind words.  Then a woman asked when she might be able to share Holy Communion with her Catholic husband.  Read what the Pope said after the jump. [Read more…]