The Reformation of the church

Tomorrow is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses against the sale of indulgences.  I keep reading online about how tragic the Reformation was, how unneeded it is now, and how it’s wrong to celebrate the breaking up of the church.

But does anyone think that the medieval church did not need to be reformed?  Can anyone say that the sale of indulgences was a good thing?  Can anyone defend the corruption of the Renaissance popes–their selling of church offices, their bribes, their mistresses, their illegitimate children whom they made cardinals, their inquisitions, their wars?  The great medieval authors–Dante, Chaucer, Langland, and many others–all criticized these abuses in the church.

Even the Roman Catholic Church came to admit these evils.  Luther’s Reformation provoked the Counter-Reformation, which finally the moral and financial corruption.  It also set in stone some theological issues that were not all that clear when Luther first proposed his reforms.  [Read more…]

God always begins with NOTHING

“It is God’s nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything. . . .Therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise.  In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched, and gives grace only to those who are not in grace.”

–Martin Luther, “Commentary on Psalm 38,” Luther’s Works 14:163. [Read more…]

The “all’s” of the Great Commission

More from Knut Tveitereid in Oslo:  I love it when Bible expositors mine riches out of a text by attending to the details of the language.  Knut discussed the importance of the four “all’s” in the Great Commission:

 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, [another “all” word in Danish] to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

[Read more…]

Jesus of Galilee, Jesus of Jerusalem, Jesus post-resurrection

The other speaker at the Inner Mission youth ministry conference in Oslo, in addition to me, was Knut Tveitereid, who teaches at the NLA University College, a Christian and Lutheran university in Norway.  He spoke about the different approaches to discipleship and what it means to follow Jesus.  He said that we can distinguish three distinct, but related ministries of Jesus:  Jesus of Galilee, Jesus of Jerusalem, and the post-resurrection Jesus. [Read more…]

Westboro Baptist pickets Kim Davis for opposing gay marriage

The Westboro Baptist Church, known for its “God hates gays” demonstrations and military funeral disruptions, is now picketing Kim Davis, the county clerk who refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses.  Why?  According to the church, gay marriage is God’s punishment.  We must accept that punishment.  Therefore, breaking the laws that require gay marriage is rebellion against God. [Read more…]

Conservatives in liberal churches

The state churches in Scandinavia are theologically liberal, sometimes to an extreme.  For example, in the Church of Sweden the world’s first lesbian bishop called on a congregation to remove its crosses to encourage Muslims to pray there.  Read this.  Notice, though, the opposition to her remarks and how the bishop has no authority over the congregation, since it was established by a “mission” organization.  The point is, there are conservative Christians with orthodox pastors and congregations within those state churches.

When I was in Denmark, I met a number of pastors from the Church of Denmark who came to my lectures.  They were in tune with what I was saying.  I was told that many towns had a conservative congregation along with a liberal congregation, with the former typically filled with worshippers with the latter being almost empty. [Read more…]