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…]

India, Africa, Indonesia, and other Lutheran enclaves

Most people associate Lutheranism with Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States.  Germany indeed is number one (11,787,811), but number two is Ethiopia (7,886,595) and number three is Tanzania (6,531,336).  Indonesia is fifth (6,046,321) and India is seven (4,042,543).

There are nine countries with more Lutherans than the United States (3,765,362).  Followed by more African countries and Papua New Guinea.

See the list after the jump.  The link discusses other significant Lutheran populations in other parts of the world, such as Australia and Brazil. [Read more…]

Why the Pope likes Luther

At the joint Catholic/Lutheran service in Sweden, commemorating Reformation Day, Pope Francis was said to have “issued some of the most positive language ever used by a pope to describe Martin Luther and his beliefs.”

The Pope said that the doctrine of justification “expresses the essence of human existence before God.”  The Reformation “helped give greater centrality to sacred scripture in the Church’s life.”  And in his teaching that salvation is “by grace alone, ” Luther “reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response.”

The Pope also signed a commitment with the head of the Lutheran World Federation to work towards full intercommunion between the two theological traditions.

After the jump, a news story about the developments from a Catholic publication.  For the full text of the Pope’s remarks, go here.  For the Communion agreement, go here.  See also my thoughts on the matter.

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Ben Sasse is a “Lutero-Calvinist” 

Nebraska Senator and rising conservative star Ben Sasse describes himself as a “Lutero-Calvinist.”  Though he grew up and came to faith in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and says he is “in love with the Lutheran tradition,” he is now a member of a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) congregation.  He talks about his faith and his Reformed theology with World Magazine, excerpted and linked after the jump.  I then raise some questions. [Read more…]

Commemorating or undoing the Reformation?

On Reformation Day, October 31, the Pope will commemorate the Reformation in a common service with Lutherans in Sweden.

Michael Root, in The Christian Century, discusses the event, sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation, and gets into the difficulties it and related events scheduled for the 500th Anniversary of the 95 Theses have been posing for Catholics.  Nothing is said about the difficulties they might pose for Lutherans.

But such unionistic services raise the question:  Is the intention to celebrate (what Protestants are saying), commemorate (what Catholics are saying) or undo the Reformation (what would seem to be the ecumenical agenda)? [Read more…]