A Lutheran take on exorcism and the demonic

We’ve blogged about a Lutheran exorcist.  A new book from Concordia Publishing House offers a theological framework on the reality of demonic activity, actual case studies of people afflicted by demons who were helped by Lutheran pastors, and practical guidelines on how these malign spirits can be cast out by means of the Word, the Sacraments, and prayer.

The book is entitled Afraid:  Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America.  It’s by Dr. Robert H. Bennett, the Executive Director of the Luther Academy and an Adjunct Professor of Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Read my review after the jump. [Read more…]

Another candidate for the anti-Christ

Some Christian leaders are saying that “globalism” is the anti-Christ.  Some are further saying that Christians should therefore vote for Donald Trump because he opposes globalism.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, they consider national borders, protectionist economic policies, and national identity to be essential to Christianity (even though the modern nation state did not exist in Biblical times, in the Greco-Roman Empire, in the Middle Ages, or at the time of the Reformation). [Read more…]

Don’t give them the Gospel? 

We often assume that if we could only find the right way to reach those who are opposed to Christianity that we could win them over to the Gospel.  S. M. Hutchens, writing in the Touchstone blog, says that many of these folks don’t lack knowledge of Christ.  They are simply rejecting Him.

Good point.  But then he says that such overt enemies of God should not be given the Gospel, that they cannot be evangelized.

I would say that we are all by nature enemies of God.  And that, by the power of the Word, the Holy Spirit can bring even the worst enemy of God to salvation.  (I am thinking of St. Paul, who called himself “the worst of sinners” and was an overt persecutor of the Church and of Christ.)  Certainly, a person can’t be open to the Gospel without first being broken by the Law, which can happen in various ways.  But that is part of the process of evangelism, and everyone needs to be evangelized.  (We Lutherans believe in the universal atonement, that Christ died for everyone, so we cannot assume that any given person is one of the non-elect “reprobates.”)

But is there something in what Hutchens says?  Even if those who are purposefully rejecting God should still be evangelized, do we need to approach them and the trouble they give Christians differently than if they were merely ignorant?  Read his argument, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

Teaching predestination at Berkeley

The New York Times has a fascinating article by Berkeley history professor Jonathan Sheehan about how he teaches John Calvin in his secular classroom.  Specifically, he uses the scary stuff in Calvin–particularly, double predestination–to blow the minds of his students and to teach them their limits.  Read the article and a response to what he says from someone else who teaches Calvin to secular students (linked and excerpted after the jump).

We Lutherans believe in predestination, though not Calvin’s double predestination.  But we certainly believe in the limits of human beings, a message considered salutary today.  Maybe teaching Luther’s Bondage of the Will would have a similar effect.

What do you think of this use of Calvin?  Is it really accurate to his thought?  Do we take away from this that it’s okay to teach Law to secular students, just not the Gospel?  (The emphasis here is on those who are not chosen to salvation, I guess a group the secularists identify with.  But what about those who are?) [Read more…]

The invention of grape juice to avoid communion wine

Grape juice didn’t exist, as a product, until 1869.  It was invented by a Methodist minister named Thomas Bramwell Welch who sought a non-alcoholic alternative to communion wine.  This is where we get Welch’s grape juice to this day.

Christianity Today tells how this happened, excerpted and linked after the jump.

[Read more…]