A rite for changing to a new gender?

30108554503_82b923c684_zAt Baptism, among other things, a child is named.  So what about those who later get a new name along with a new gender?  Some LGBT activists in churches are urging the adoption of a new service “akin to baptism” to mark and to formally bless transgender transitions.

Officials of the Church of England have tabled a proposal to that effect.  The General Synod meeting next week will NOT change church teachings about sexuality, it has been announced, and will NOT change the definition of marriage to allow for same-sex weddings.

But transgender re-baptisms, naming ceremonies, or the equivalent, are on the agenda of progressive church activists in many denominations.  They are already happening, as a Google search will show.

How does this show a misunderstanding of Baptism? [Read more…]

The Marburg Colloquy online

Noack_1869_MR-ReligionsgesprächDid you know that a transcript survives of the Marburg Colloquy (1529), in which Luther and Zwingli debated the presence of Christ in the elements of Holy Communion?  Did you know that it is posted online?

This meeting, attended by virtually all of the major figures of the early Reformation, was an attempt to settle the Reformation’s sacramental teachings once and for all.  Phillip of Hesse organized the event in an attempt to unify the Reformation side in the face of imminent military threat from the Holy Roman Emperor.  But Luther would not water down his teaching for pragmatic reasons. With the Marburg Colloquy, the Lutherans and the Reformed went their separate ways, with most subsequent Protestants following, in effect, a non-sacramental approach to Christianity.

The transcript reads like a play, or a screenplay.  (Suggestion:  Somebody perform this!)  For all of its theological give and take, it has quite a few dramatic moments:  Luther writing “This is my body” in chalk on the table beneath a tablecloth, continually referring to it in the course of Zwingli’s rationalistic arguments.  Luther at more than one point saying, “I’m tired–Phillip [Melanchthon], you take over,” only to erupt at the next thing Zwingli says without letting Phillip get a word in edgewise.  The emotional moments on both sides.  The ending with its pleas for reconciliation and Luther’s devastating “we are not of the same spirit.”

Read the beginning after the jump and go to the link to read it all.  Notice the different approaches not just to the Sacrament but to the Bible and, above all, to Christology. [Read more…]

Fake News 

fake-1903774_640Both sides of our political divide are accusing the other of spreading “fake news.”

Rev. Tim Pauls, writing for LCMS News & Information, says that of course making up facts and believing whatever we want to is going to be a problem in a culture that rejects objective truth.

He gives some striking examples and some insightful analysis from a Christian perspective.  He then gives some Biblical texts that address this issue and suggests how Christians can handle it. [Read more…]

Donald Trump in Bible prophecy?

B_Facundus_167Many End Times preachers are saying that the rise of Donald Trump was prophesied in the Bible as a herald that the last days are upon us.  He’s not the anti-christ.  We know that because the Bible says of the anti-Christ:

“Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” (Dan 11:37)

Trump, with his history of womanizing, does regard the desire of women, so we can rest easy about that.  Rather, he is a much more positive sign.  The Scriptures clearly say that Christ will come back after the sounding of “the last trump.”

Never mind that the connection only works in the English language.  And that “trump” as short for “trumpet” only works in the archaic English of the King James Bible.  Or that turning the Bible into a symbolic code, rather than attending to what it literally says, undermines Biblical authority.

Other objections present themselves:  Isn’t the new president the “first Trump” to be in office?  Maybe he will start a dynasty.  Maybe his son Barron, or Barron’s son or grandson, will be the “last Trump.”  Where does “last” enter into the prophecy?  (Can you think of other problems with this interpretation?)

A sample of this End Times prediction after the jump. [Read more…]

Trump and the prosperity gospel

Paula_WhiteGiving the opening prayer at Donald Trump’s inauguration will be Paula White, a megachurch “pastor” and televangelist who is a leading proponent of the “prosperity gospel.”  In fact, prosperity gospel preachers were the leading “evangelicals” who supported Trump from the beginning in an organized way.

Westminster professor and White Horse Inn host Michael Horton has published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post about the prosperity gospel movement and its connections to the president-elect.  He goes into its history and its beliefs, including the teaching that “you are as much the incarnation [of God] as Jesus of Nazareth,” rejection of the Trinity, and that Christ died not for our sins but for our prosperity.

I suspect Trump neither knows nor cares about any of this, though he did attend Norman Vincent Peale’s “power of positive thinking” church as a child and though Paula White claimed to have “led him to Christ.”  Most Christians who voted for Trump surely did so for secular rather than theological reasons.  But giving the “Word of Faith” people another seeming name-it-and-claim-it victory, as well as prominence and possible influence, is not good for American Christianity.

Conservative, orthodox Christians who supported Trump–does this bother you?  Should we give the Trump regime a pass when it comes to condemning false doctrine and heresy?  Do the religious beliefs and alliances of someone in a secular office matter?

[Read more…]

Interfaith service surprise

geograph-3219323-by-Dave-KellyThe Anglican cathedral in Glasgow, in its interfaith zeal, invited a Muslim to read from the Qu’ran in the divine service for Epiphany.  The purpose was to show that Muslims too honor Jesus.  The reader did read the accounts of Jesus’s birth in the Muslim holy book, but then went on to read the passage that specifically denies that Jesus is God’s son.

A controversy has broken out, but the point should be clear:  All religions do NOT teach the same things.  And to pretend otherwise, as interfaith services do, is a failure to respect the integrity of the different religions. [Read more…]