Tag Archives: Protestant Reformation

Eric Metaxas on Martin Luther

 

October, 2017 is a big month for Christians, as we remember the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to a Wittenberg church door, kickstarting the Protestant Reformation.  In a secular world, where spiritual topics are often taboo, talk of Martin Luther can be a great conversation starter for Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox… even with unbelieving friends, co-workers and family members. Luther is big everywhere. Even though Germany is mostly nominally Christian now, Luther is still recognized as a national hero. For Westerners in general, Luther is a prominent historical personality, regardless of one’s religious identification (or lack thereof).

But, if you are clueless about Martin Luther, where do you start to learn more?

Eric Metaxas is a popular Christian author and talk show host. He is a type of public intellectual, who keeps things down on “the bottom shelf.” Plus, he is funny. As author of bestselling books on William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas writes in a very accessible style. His latest book, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, would be a good introduction to those who look upon the Protestant Reformation as an unfamiliar, foreign country. Though I do not agree with everything Metaxas writes, his popularization of scholarly research is nevertheless very engaging.

Roland Bainton’s 1950s classic, Here I Stand, is still my favorite biography on Luther. But if I get a chance to dip into Metaxas’ new book, I might revise that. In the following video, Eric Metaxas, who comes from an Eastern Orthodox background, gives a talk summarizing his new book on Luther, at a recent National Religious Broadcaster’s meeting. As Metaxas says, Luther “rediscovered God and changed the world.” For a cheery take on Luther, please enjoy!

 


John Hus: A Journey of No Return

A hundred years prior to Martin Luther, John Hus was a late 14th century Czech priest championing the principles of the Reformation.  However, unlike Luther, John Hus, in 1415, was burned at the stake for his beliefs. What motivated John Hus to put his life on the line?  A fairly recent film, John Hus: A Journey of No Return, produced in the Czech Republic, and dubbed into English, tells the story. In 1999, Pope John Paul II formally apologized to the Czech people for the “cruel death” inflicted upon Hus at the Council of Constance

Here is the teaser trailer for the film.


Imputation: The Chocolate Chips in Luther’s Theological Cookie

Martin Luther (1483-1546), by Cranach (credit: Wikipedia). “Imputation” was the core theological concept behind Luther’s thinking. So then, what is “imputation?”

Imputation. Have you ever heard of that word? We do not use it in normal conversation. But in the 16th century, imputation became a battleground idea for the Reformation. This crucial theological concept helps us think through a true understanding of the Gospel, even today.

Theologian Michael Horton, one of the scholars interviewed in the film documentary This Changed Everything, about the Reformation, likens imputation to a cooking analogy. If you try to make chocolate chip cookies, but leave out the chocolate chips, then you have pretty much left out the main ingredient. Likewise, many Protestants would argue that if you talk about the Gospel, but leave out imputation, then you end up with a chocolate-less cookie. Before we get at the definition of imputation, let us see why this might be so important. Continue reading


Mortal Sin, Venial Sin, and the Sin That Leads to Death?

Not having grown up in the Roman Catholic tradition, I was always puzzled by the whole idea of mortal versus venial sins. What is all of that about, and where is it in the Bible, (or is it)?

Well, it all stems back to one of the more difficult passages in the Bible to interpret:

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (I John 5:16-17 ESV)

Bible scholars have been scratching their heads for hundreds of years on this one. Who is his “brother?” What are some examples of the different types of “sin“? What is meant by “death?” In other words, what in the world is John talking about here?

Spiritual Anxiety: Mortal vs. Venial Sins

Continue reading


Statements: A Reforming Catholic Confession

 

Now, here is a theological statement that I can really get excited about!!

Since the Reformation, many have accused Protestants of being a divisive folk, unable to agree on much of anything, thus undermining the unity of God’s Church throughout the world. On the eve of remembering the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, this is a charge that deserves some careful thought, before responding.

Yes, there are differences that can divide, but is there a core of fundamental beliefs that unites Protestants together? In there a “mere Protestantism,” recalling C.S. Lewis’ famous book, Mere Christianity?

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School theologian, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, says, “Yes!” In the following video, Vanhoozer explains that there is a core of common beliefs among Protestants. The Reforming Catholic Confession is a statement written that seeks to demonstrate that unified, shared core. Over 750 Christian leaders have already signed on, supporting this confession.

When I read the confession for myself, I wondered if this was even broader in scope than “just for Protestants.”  My hunch is that at least some of my Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends might even find agreement here as well. Read the Reforming Catholic Confession for yourself, and let me know what you think.

In general, I am always a bit cautious about “statements,” as they are rarely the final word on anything. At best, they are works in progress. But the Reforming Catholic Confession is the kind of statement that is really a great place to start. Tell your friends about it!

Can I get an “AMEN?!”


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