Trump’s pastor was Norman Vincent Peale

When Donald Trump was growing up, his parents would take him to the church pastored by Norman Vincent Peale.  The minister who developed “the power of positive thinking” conducted the weddings for Trump and his sisters.  And today the preachers of the “prosperity gospel,” which was largely launched by Peale, are the “evangelicals” who are supporting him.

Michael Horton makes these connections and goes on to apply them to the larger evangelical scene today. [Read more…]

“Common grace”? 

Steven Peterson sent me a link to an article by the Reformed theologian Richard J. Louw.  It deals with vocation and the Two Kingdoms, but he comes at it from a completely different perspective than Lutherans do.  He uses the concept of “common grace,” as well as Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty.”

In the early days of my Lutheranism, I referred to “common grace” and was chastized for it by a colleague in Concordia’s theology department, who explained that Lutherans reserve “grace” to refer to God’s unmerited favor by which He justifies sinners.  For God’s blessings that He bestows on entire His creation, Lutherans use other terms, such as “God’s First Article gifts,” a term referring to the exposition of the Creation article of the creed in the Small Catechism.  (But aren’t those gifts unmerited, and thus proceeding from a kind of grace?)

Read the article by Prof. Louw, linked after the jump.  Does he arrive at the same place that Lutherans do, arriving at an objective truth from a different angle?  Or is there a difference, however subtle, between the Lutheran and the Reformed view on these issues, one that comes from their different approaches and terminology?

[Read more…]

Has the word “evangelical” become meaningless?

Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore said that he is no longer referring to himself as an “evangelical.”  He says that today’s political opportunism and theological heresies have made the term meaningless, though he hopes it might come back.

Back in the Reformation times and still in Europe, “evangelical” referred to Lutherans, for whom the Gospel was central to all of their teachings, a term distinguished from the “reformed.”  Later in England, “evangelical” was used to refer to low church Anglicans, and later in America as a term for culturally-open fundamentalists, then for conservative Protestants generally, and then for Christians who emphasize “evangelism.”

It is still a slippery term.  Pollsters categorize Lutherans of the Missouri Synod as “evangelicals” because they emphasize the Gospel and the inerrancy of Scripture, while many Lutherans distance themselves from the term because it connotes non-sacramental, non-liturgical Christianity.

Moore approaches the terminology question differently, tying it in to Donald Trump’s candidacy, of all things.  What do you think of his analysis?  Should the term be retired?  Can you think of alternatives?

[Read more…]

You know you are a theologian of glory if. . . .

An important Lutheran distinction is between the theology of the Cross and the theology of glory.  Jeff Mallinson, over at the Jagged Word,  offers 9.5 Theses on theologians of glory.  After the jump, I list the theses, but you will want to go to the site to see what he says about each one.

[Read more…]

Lutherans and Anglicans together

While liberal Lutherans and liberal Episcopalians have gone the way of mainline Protestantism in its anything-goes ecumenism, it is a different story with church bodies that still hold to their historical doctrines.  The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has broken away from the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.), joining other global Anglicans in affirming a more conservative theology.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church Canada has been in talks with the new American Anglican church, and the three church bodies have just released an Interim Report on their discussions.  The document is extremely interesting, especially in tracing the historical connections and parallels between Lutherans and Anglicans.  The report also details the doctrinal agreements (some of which you might find surprising), as well as the disagreements.

A sample and links to the report after the jump. [Read more…]

A Copt responds, on their not being Monophysites

I recently posted about the Lutheran video tribute to the 21 Coptic Martyrs of Libya, going on to address the accusation that the Copts are monophysite heretics.  Reader Ori Pomerantz shared the post with Medhat Ghabrial, a Coptic Christian, who wrote a fascinating comment on Facebook that I had to share with you (with his permission).

You can read it after the jump, but basically he says that the heresy charge was a political maneuver by the Church of Rome against its rival, the Church of Alexandria.  (Recall the prominence of Alexandria in the Early Church.)  Mr. Ghabrial points out that Alexandria was the center of Nicene orthodoxy.  After all, St. Athanasius was the bishop of Alexandria!  And the Copts to this day recite and consider authoritative the Athanasian Creed!  The Coptic Church is emphatically not monophysite, as the Roman Church itself now admits.

I still hear that charge, though, among Protestants, so Mr. Ghabrial’s point needs to be better known.  He also acknowledges that Coptic Christology is much like that of the Lutherans, a subject that needs to be better known as well! [Read more…]


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