New controversies in Evangelical theology

Evangelicals today are being torn by some major theological controversies.  The debate between Calvinists and Wesleyans is getting more and more heated.  Then there is a related debate between “Traditionists,” who believe Christians should hold onto the traditions of the historic church (particularly the decisions of the early church councils0 and the “Meliorists,” who reject holding onto traditions and believe the church can get better and better.  The Calvinists tend to be Traditionists (who themselves can be divided between “Biblicists” and “Paleo-Conservatives”) and the Wesleyans tend to be Meliorists.

We confessional Lutherans have our own theology worked out, of course, and in many ways might think of ourselves as above this particular fray.  And none of the debates, as far as I can tell, even bring Luther into the picture at all.  And yet I would suggest to the contending parties of both sides that they study how Lutheranism resolves Wesley and Calvin, the Bible and Tradition, Orthodoxy and Reformation.

After the jump, a sample and a link to a detailed account of what is going on in evangelical theology. [Read more...]

‘”We have only done what was our duty”

The Gospel reading for last Sunday was the parable that makes perfectly clear why we are not saved by our works and why we cannot merit salvation:

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”  (Luke 17:7-10)

Even if we obeyed God perfectly and never did anything wrong, we wouldn’t deserve a reward.  That would simply be doing the bare minimum of what we are supposed to do.  We would only be doing our duty.  After the jump, see what our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite did with this text, bringing out both Law and Gospel. [Read more...]

Leaving Catholicism

When we think of Roman Catholicism, many of us think of Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas, an edifice of doctrine and moral teaching, an all-encompassing church grounded in history and a sumptuous liturgy.  We non-Catholics may not agree with its theology and practice, but even so the institution demands a measure of respect.  But many people who become Catholics, looking for that church of what they have read about in books, do not find it in the typical parish of modern American Catholicism.  Christian writer Rod Dreher tells about how he converted to Catholicsm and why he left it for Eastern Orthodoxy–not because it was so conservative but because it was so much like liberal Protestantism. [Read more...]

One Way Love

I have had several posts about Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham and pastor of the iconic Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, whose discovery of Luther’s distinction between Law and Gospel has revolutionized his life and his ministry.  He has a new book out, arguably his best, that he is calling his manifesto: One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.

Though we Lutherans have what he is writing about in our theology–namely, an understanding of the radical grace of God given freely in the cross of Jesus Christ– we too often neglect it, take it for granted, underestimate its magnitude, and fail to apply it in our lives, falling instead into what Rev. Tchividijian calls “performancism” or antinomianism.  After the jump, the blurb that I wrote for it. [Read more...]

Calvinist Predestination vs. Lutheran Predestination

James R. Rogers has written a post for First Things entitled “Credit the Calvinists,” in which he asks why Calvinists are thought of in terms of the doctrine of predestination and not Lutherans, who also believe in predestination.  Well, as Mathew Block explains, there is a big difference between the Calvinist view of predestination and the Lutheran view. [Read more...]

Is the Pope Catholic?

Pope Francis has done another interview:

Pope Francis cranked up his charm offensive on the world outside the Vatican on Tuesday, saying in the second widely shared media interview in two weeks that each person “must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them” and calling efforts to convert people to Christianity “solemn nonsense.” [Read more...]


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