Justification by Faith Alone is Still the Issue

Back in the 1990s, I was asked to be on the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, an organization dedicated to applying the solas of the Reformation to contemporary Christianity.  Organizations change, and I’m not a part of it anymore.  But I was recently asked to contribute a post for the group’s website  Place for Truth.  The topic?  Whether the Reformation is still relevant today.  I said, “yes.”  More specifically, I argued that the major issue in Christianity today is the same as it was in 1517, a notion that is currently under almost unprecedented attack, even by Protestants:  Justification by faith alone.

See my essay after the jump. [Read more...]

Pope Francis as evangelical?

In our continuing effort to try to figure out the new Pope of Rome–is he a liberal? a traditionalist?  a traditionalist acting liberal?–another possibility has presented itself:  Is he evangelical?  (Not “an evangelical,” but evangelical in the sense of stressing the Gospel–grace, Christ, the Word of God–more than the typical Roman Catholic pontiff?) [Read more...]

What Legalism & Licentiousness have in common

An objection being made to Tullian Tchividjian’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post that we blogged about yesterday (and that came up in our discussion too) is that legalism just isn’t the problem in the church today.  Rather, churches are rife with licentiousness.   Too much preaching of grace and forgiveness can encourage people to keep sinning.  We need more preaching of the Law to encourage people to act morally.

Actually, though, both legalism and licentiousness are different forms of self-righteousness.  The legalist thinks to earn God’s favor by his rectitude.  The libertine does whatever he wants with no guilt to hold him back.  Both are antinomian, denying their condemnation under the Law.  Both reject the Gospel because they think they don’t need it.  Neither has faith.  (Since good works are the fruits of faith, if you don’t have good works, you need more faith, which means you need more Gospel.)

That’s the way I see it.  After the jump, read Rev. Tchividjian’s response. [Read more...]

What’s missing in today’s churches

Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,  has published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, no less.  The problem with America’s churches today, he argues, is that so many of them have been downplaying the main message of Christianity.

We can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifices we make rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us – our performance rather than his performance for us. The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.” And my fear is that too many people, both inside and outside the church, have heard our “do more, try harder” sermons and pleas for intensified devotion and concluded that the focus of the Christian faith is the work that we do instead of the work God has done for us in the person of Jesus.

After the jump, read the whole column. [Read more...]

Evangelizing the Nazis

Chad Bird tells the story of Henry Gerecke,  a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and a military chaplain assigned to minister to the war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, including walking with ten of them to the gallows.  Many of the Nazis clung to their Nietzschean paganism.  But some of them Pastor Gerecke led to Christ.

That might bother some of us.  Surely, if anyone deserves Hell, these mass-murdering monsters did.  We might think that it’s wrong to extend the Gospel to sinners of this magnitude.  As if Christ, when He bore the sins of the world on the Cross did not carry what these men had done.  That would make the Cross too hideously ugly.  But it is.  And this is what Christianity is all about, or it is nothing.

After the jump, read about Pastor Gerecke.  And follow the link to read him tell his own story, including the names of the Nazis who did and who did not come to Christ. [Read more...]

Why there is only one way to salvation

Once again I see on the LCMS website in the “View from Here” feature an article I wrote a long time ago, I think for Lutheran Witness.  It takes up what has been called “the scandal of particularity”; that is, the claim that there is only one way that leads to Heaven, the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Why aren’t other religions equally valid?  How can we credibly  hold to Christ as the only way to Heaven  in our current climate of religious pluralism?  And, as if that isn’t a difficult enough problem, I throw in the question of how a just God could condemn someone for not being a Christian.  Reading the piece long after I have forgotten what I said, I found myself approaching it like any other reader and, in an odd way, learning from myself.  I’ll present the essay in its entirety after the jump.

[Read more...]


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