“The smartest human being” on sin and grace

More from  David Brooks, two interviews in which he talks about what he learned from St. Augustine, “the smartest human being I’ve ever encountered in any form.”  Specifically, that would his concept of sin as disordered love and the Christian concept of grace.

St. Augustine is, indeed, a brilliant thinker.  You don’t have to agree with him on every point–though he is one of the few theologians claimed both by Catholics and Protestants–but his writings have a magisterial logic, a psychological sensitivity,  and a startling depth of spiritual insight.  Luther, remember, was an Augustinian monk, and Augustine is noted for his emphasis, like that of the Reformers, on the grace of God.  In my view, he is more Platonic and thus ascetic than he should be.  Can any of you address the points on which Lutherans–as well as other traditions–agree and disagree with this church father?

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Biblical heroism

In the course of writing a searching new book entitled The Road to Character, New York Times columnist David Brooks decided that you can’t really think about moral ideas very well without the vocabulary that religions bring, even if you don’t believe them.  So he read all kinds of books, including Christian theology, including the works of St. Augustine.  Brooks is Jewish, but he sounds like he is getting close to Christianity.  Samples from an interview with Brooks after the jump. [Read more…]

Baptists who baptize infants

A Baptist minister has stirred controversy within his tradition by baptizing an infant.  Yet it has become a common practice to baptize children 5 years old, or even younger.  This all seems to be in the context of reconsidering what baptism is, that it is more than just a symbol.  (To be sure, one might think, “well, it’s just a symbol,” so what difference does it make?  But this seems to be something more, which we Lutherans can appreciate.)

After the jump, read the account of the pastor baptizing the baby, then read  a seminary president’s response. [Read more…]

How the KGB created Liberation Theology

Liberation Theology, which teaches that Christianity demands radical social and economic change, is a major movement in modern theology.  It has been especially influential in Latin America where it created alliances between Roman Catholics and Marxist revolutionaries.  Now a former Soviet intelligence agent says that Liberation Theology in its entirety, from its formulation to its promulgation, was a creation of the (atheist) KGB! [Read more…]

“The sacraments are what make the church relevant”

Yesterday we blogged about Rachel Held Evan’s contention that church growth techniques designed to reach Millennials–contemporary worship, attempts to make church relevant, efforts to make Christianity seem cool–do not, in fact, work.  Her suggestion instead:   “Keep worship weird.”  That is, recover the sacraments.  “The sacraments,” she says, “are what make the church relevant.” [Read more…]

Worship is more than praising God

Pastor Mark Schroeder cites a rather compelling quotation on worship from Klemet Preus:

“If the Divine Service is viewed primarily as our praising God, then you can do that just as well from home. In fact, once we have looked at the topic of vocation, you will see that we can serve God better in the world than in the church building. But if the service is understood as God giving us the forgiveness of sins, then you’ve got to be there. It is very possible that the low attendance at Sunday services seen in so many churches today is a reflection of how we define the service. If I am acting, then I can do it another time. If God is acting, I better be there.”

Pastor Klemet Preus, The Fire and the Staff, Kindle ed. loc 2871

Rev. Schroeder goes on to discuss the point, telling about a sermon he heard that was all about our need to praise God, but forgetting to say anything about Jesus and His cross.  [Read more…]