Actors vs. Trump

Meryl_Streep_At_The_2014_SAG_Awards_(12024455556)_(cropped)Meryl Streep took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes to give a blistering speech against president-elect Donald Trump.  See Mollie Hemingway’s critique of her speech.

Now actors have the same right as all other citizens to criticize their public officials.  This, along with other recent “public service” spots featuring actors and their political causes, does raise another issue:  acting outside of one’s vocation.
Actors have the vocation of effectively speaking lines written by someone else.  (It has always bothered me that actors get all of the attention in Hollywood, while those who write the scripts that they recite remain largely unknown by the public.)  They generally have no particular expertise in other areas, yet they regularly testify at Congressional hearings on a wide range of non-acting topics. [Read more…]

Martin Scorsese on vocation

Martin_Scorsese_by_David_ShankboneRenowned film director Martin Scorsese talks about vocation in a recent interview.  He didn’t make it through seminary but started to realize that you don’t have to be a priest to have a vocation.

I have noticed more and more Catholics who have started understanding vocation in Lutheran terms.

Scorsese also discusses his new film Silence, based on Shusaku Endo’s classic novel about the persecution of Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the 17th century.  Currently in limited release, the movie is being hailed by some of those who have seen it as one of the truly great Christian films.  If you have seen it, please report.

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What you do to your neighbor you do to Christ

Christian_Krohg_-_Mother_and_Child_-_Google_Art_ProjectIt still being Christmas–there are twelve days of it, remember–we can still contemplate the inexhaustible topic of God’s incarnation.  After the jump, read an excerpt from one of Luther’s Christmas sermons, which our pastor quoted in his Christmas Eve message.  The passage deals both with Christmas and vocation–that is, our calling to love and serve our neighbors in our various tasks and relationships.

To those who think that they would have shown kindness to the Christ child and His parents, unlike the residents of Bethlehem, Luther says, “Why don’t you do it now” by showing kindness to other needy children and their parents?

“What you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.”
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Vocation in Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond_Doss_CMH_awardNotice how many movies are about vocation.  For example, consider Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s movie about Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector who won the Medal of Honor.  A medic, he rescued 75 wounded servicemen in the Battle of Okinawa.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but a review in World Magazine by Sophia Lee quotes a passage that goes to the heart of the doctrine of vocation.  Read it and my discussion after the jump. [Read more…]

The Two Cities vs. the Two Kingdoms

It’s common to associate Augustine’s Two Cities with Luther’s Two Kingdoms.  But they are really quite different.  In The City of God, Augustine defines the two in terms of two different loves:  The City of God has to do with the love of God; the City of Man has to do with love of self.

Thus the two cities are in opposition to each other.  This is a scheme for dualism, for ascetic rejection of the world, giving rise to monasticism.

Luther’s Two Kingdoms is a paradigm for embracing the world.  The Kingdom of the Left, for Luther, is about neither love of God nor love of self, but love of neighbor.

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A Lutheran critique of Escondido theology

Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, has some impressive theologians–Michael Horton, David Van Drunen, and other Calvinists of the sort who appear on White Horse Inn.  I know some of these guys, think highly of them, and appreciate how some of them are being influenced by Luther and Lutheran theology.  But though they speak of the distinction between Law and Gospel, have a stronger influence on the Sacraments, and teach about vocation, they are still Calvinists and their use of Luther is still within a Calvinist context.

A controversy has broken out in Reformed circles about the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, as formulated by these Escondido theologians, particularly David Van Drunen in his book Living in Two Kingdoms:  A Biblical Vision of Christ and Culture.  He is developing an alternative to the “one kingdom” model of the Dominionists and to the Abraham Kuyper’s “neocalvinism” with its notion of “sphere sovereignty” over every dimension of life.

This is a worthy project, but Van Drunen’s version of the Two Kingdoms is NOT the same as the Lutheran view.  Yet the two are being confused.  As other Reformed theologians push back against this so-called “Escondido theology,” they are saying that Van Drunen’s view is the official position of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  I’ve heard that Dr. Van Drunen’s book is being taught in courses on Lutheran theology.  And, to top it off, I’m told that I am even mentioned in at least one book on the subject as advocating this Escondido theology!

At that Two Kingdoms conference I participated in, Jordan Cooper gave an important presentation entitled “Escondido Theology: An Evaluation and Critique.”

After the jump, I’ll sum up some of the differences and post the video of Jordan’s presentation. [Read more…]