The Future of American Evangelicalism–& Lutheranism

Patheos has put together an online symposium on the Future of American Evangelicalism.  It features lots of different opinions, analyses, and strategies.  Some of it applies to us Lutherans, but not all.  It also suggests opportunities for a distinctly Lutheran response to our times.

Check out the symposium.  Then consider what it suggests for Lutheran Christianity.  Then post in the comments your thoughts on “The Future of American Lutheranism.”

“Conscientious objection against the state”?

LCMS president Matthew Harrison has issued a response to the Supreme Court marriage ruling.  It’s a strong statement, but what’s most striking and surprising, coming from a Lutheran with a Two Kingdoms theology, is his quotation of the anti-Nazi theologian Hermann Sasse on signs that the state has lost its Romans 13 legitimacy.  President Harrison concludes that “Christians will now begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state.”

Is he saying that the United States government is no longer legitimate?  Wouldn’t that mean we don’t have to follow any of the laws it passes?  The Lutheran theology of culture, the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, has sometimes been interpreted to mean that God rules through the state, so that we need to submit to the secular authorities no matter what.  But I think the Two Kingdoms offers a mechanism for critiquing the state.  If God is the King, hidden in secular institutions and vocations but working through them with His moral law, then states and rulers who repudiate that moral law are in rebellion against His kingship.  Right?  But presumably He would still be working through them, despite themselves, in other ways, so that Christians would still be obliged to submit to their authority where it doesn’t conflict with God’s Word.

How else might a Two Kingdoms approach to the gay marriage decision help us navigate these controversies?  Read President Harrison’s statement, after the jump.  What do you think about it?  What else might be said?

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Reviews of “Where Christ Is Present”

More shameless promotion of the new book I edited with John Warwick Montgomery, Where Christ Is Present.  (I am uncomfortable with promoting myself and my work, and you have to admit I don’t do it very often.  But I really like the essays in our collection and want people to read them.  Tell you what. . . .Buy the book, but don’t read my essay.  Just read the others.  OK, I feel better now and will now promote the book without inhibition.)

After the jump, what people are saying about the book on Amazon.  The reviews give you a good idea of what the different essays are about. [Read more...]

What’s in our new book?

The book I put together with John Warwick Montgomery, Where Christ Is Present, consists of some brilliant essays on different aspects of Lutheran teaching and practice.  As the Amazon reviews are saying of particular essays, each one is worth the price of the book.  And they aren’t just rehashing of old arguments and stale polemics.  They bring something new to the discussions and present the concept in fresh ways.

Some of them actually break new ground, or present things that I, at least, had never known before.  For example, Adam Francisco’s chapter on the Scriptures shows how the Early Church affirmed the Bible as its sole authority; later, it developed the concept of “tradition,” while insisting that the tradition is consistent with and normed by the Bible; later, though, some theologians started to teach that tradition is, in effect, above the Bible; not till fairly late in the Middle Ages was the Papacy elevated as a superior authority to both the Bible and tradition.  I never knew that.

I also learned a great deal from Angus Menuge about the influence of Lutheranism on science; Craig Parton on Christian liberty and how that is manifested in the work of the great Lutheran artist Johann Sebastian Bach; Steve Hein on the nature of the Christian life; and. . . well, all of them really.  After the jump is the Table of Contents, giving the list of chapters and their authors.

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Our new book: Where Christ Is Present

I have collaborated with John Warwick Montgomery in editing and contributing to a new book that has just come out:  Where Christ Is Present: A Theology for All Seasons on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

It’s a collection of essays that constitute an apologetic for Lutheranism, making the case that Lutheran theology and practice is uniquely relevant to our times.  One of its purposes is to help people looking for a church home, particularly evangelicals who are frustrated with their own tradition, to the point of considering Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, or something else.  We want them to check out Lutheranism.

The book consists of chapters by A. S. Francisco, Rod Rosenbladt, Harold Senkbeil, Todd Wilken, Uwe Siemon-Netto, Craig A. Parton, Steven A. Hein, Angus J. L. Menuge, and Cameron A. MacKenzie, in addition to Dr. Montgomery and me.  After the jump, the description on Amazon.  I’ll be talking more about the book over the course of the week. [Read more...]

You Might Be a Lutheran If…

The invaluable Anthony Sacramone has put together a mashup of theological culture and Jeff Foxworthy, resulting in a list of 20 descriptors entitled “You Might be a Lutheran if. . . .”  My favorite:  “You think the pope is the antichrist but still a Christian.”  After the jump, the first part of the list and a link to the rest.

My challenge: Add to them.  (Bonus:  Explain Mr. Sacramone’s more obscure references.)

My other challenge:  Come up with something similar for other Christian traditions, preferably one you are a member of.  (“You might be a Catholic if. . .”; “You might be a Baptist if. . . .”; “You might be a Calvinist if. . . .”; You might be Orthodox if. . . .”; “You might be a theological liberal if. . . .”; etc., etc.)

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