Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Let me start this post by saying that I really didn't want to devote another post to the conflict at Saint Paul's regarding the ELCA's decision. My two previous ones concerning it have dealt extensively with all that is involved.
This said, the other day I came across an old article in the Anglican Theological Review written by my former professor Paul Zahl that pointedly expresses just what is at stake in the blessing of unrepentant "publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships." This being the case, I felt compelled to share it with you.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This fall I've been going through the book of Romans with a group of High School students. In preparing for last week's discussion on Romans 7 I came across this insightful quote from Luther's commentary that I just have to share. The verse that he is exegeting is 7:14 which reads, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin." Concerning this Luther writes:
"That is the proof of a spiritual and wise man. He knows that he is carnal, and he is displeased with himself; indeed, he hates himself and praises the law of God, which he recognizes because he is spiritual. But the proof of a foolish, carnal man is this, that he regards himself as spiritual and is pleased with himself" (Muller 112).
One of the things I love about Luther is that he says things that seem completely out of line with our natural tendencies. It's natural to think that we should be pleased with ourselves if we "behave" properly. For Luther this is precisely the point where we are most lost.
This is why we need the law to constantly thrust us to Christ even after conversion. The second I believe that I've got my stuff together is when I'm most vulnerable. Is this a depressing way to look at life? I'll let Luther answer this one:
"Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ... Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen" (Lull 56).
Lull, Timothy (Trans.) "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings"
Mueller, Theodore (Trans.) "Commentary on Romans"
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Antinomianism and Legalism vs. the Gospel: Is it Legalistic and Ungraceful for Saint Paul’s to Leave the ELCA?
This blog post is a response to a variety of questions and statements regarding Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church's open criticism with the Evangelical Lutheran Church's (ELCA) decision in August. In case you're unfamiliar with the decision here is the denomination's official statement:
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
If I were to name one of my biggest blind spots in faith besides my uncanny ability to keep sinning and a persistent fear of death, I think my understanding and faith in God the Holy Spirit rank near the top. All my life I've struggled with this mysterious entity and what he means for my life in the here and now. There have been times where I've apprehended, or should I say was apprehended upon, by a greater understanding of the Holy Spirit and other times where I have restricted my belief in the Spirit's activity because of fear or an encounter with a crazy charismatic (Crazy charismatic is not an insult to anyone who considers him/herself a charismatic, but rather someone who is by all diagnostic principles is crazy. I consider myself comfortably charismatic). So like the tides in the ocean, there are times when I'm overflowing with a faith and knowledge in the Holy Ghost and there are other times where he seems so foreign to me that I don't know how to even acknowledge him in my life.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Hi my name is Shawn and I'm a sinner in complete need of a Savior. How do I know this? Well, two reasons. First, I have this nagging existential guilt that presents itself in the oddest of ways. Unless alleviated it robs me of any sense of wellbeing and really twists my insides into a knot. As Freud says, guilt is the, "most important problem in the evolution of culture" (Fitzsimmons 11). This guilt is a universal problem that we need release from.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Everyone knows the plight of the local store since Walmart has exploded. The local store cannot compete with Walmart's prices, selection, and 24 hour convenience and eventually closes.
I used to work for one of the big churches in Pittsburgh PA. There's nothing wrong with that. It was an awesome place, doing the work of the Kingdom in drastic ways.
Now I work for a smaller church in Maumee Oh. Not a small church by any means of the imagination, just smaller than my old church. One of the most discouraging things about ministry in this setting has been the constant critiquing of our ministry with that of the larger churches in town.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
If you were to take Martin Luther's "Bondage of the Will," marinate it in Sci-Fi imagery, mix it together with Tyler Perry movies, and sprinkle it with Lord of the Rings references you would end up with Paul Zahl's understanding of predestination. Although this is the case, I think Zahl (former dean of Trinity School for Ministry & Recently Retired Rector of All Saints Church) would argue that he doesn't want to offer any theology of Predestination; but rather a Theology of Everyday life.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
One line in particular stuck out for me. In a few words I thought it gave a great description of the Reformation concept "simul iustus et peccator" (At the same time righteous and a sinner). In it Donne gives a description of how the two Adams are present in his suffering. The first Adam being the man through whom sin entered the human race and the second Adam being Christ who healed us by his blood shed on the cross.
Here it is:
"Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace."
I just thought this was pretty cool. In few words Donne beautifully illustrates what theologians have been struggling to write describe since the Apostle Paul. It's a perfect picture of everyday life here on earth.
For the poem in full click here.
We now jump from Calvin to the present by looking at Rod Whitacre's understanding of Predestination. Whitacre is Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry and author of numerous books/articles including an excellent commentary on the Gospel of John and "A Partristic Greek Reader." He was also my professor a plethora of times during Seminary.
The reason I chose to look at Whitacre's understanding of Predestination is this: the man has a passion for every word of Scripture. He never intentionally places one part of Scripture against another. Thus, you can be certain that any understanding he offers on the subject is based on the complete testimony of Scripture. Because of this, Whitacre has had to deal with those places in Scripture that seem to contradict one another. It is from this that his understanding of Predestination is birthed.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
John Calvin is often one of the most misrepresented theologians in Church history. If you walk into most evangelical churches today bring him up you will receive an earful. J.I. Packer writes, "It is really staggering to observe how persistently, from his day to ours, Calvin and his teaching have been misrepresented and traduced" (Packer). This is all the more true when considering Calvin's doctrine of predestination. Again, walk into most evangelical churches and you will get the idea that Calvin made God into a divine chess player, destroyed human responsibility, and abolished missions of any kind. I've experienced this first hand.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Where Augustine's understanding of predestination was shaped by his refutation of the teachings of Pelagius, Martin Luther's theology of predestination was sharpened in response to the writings of Catholic humanist Desiderius Erasmus. In the fear that Luther's teachings on freewill would abandon, "the Gospel to the passions of men," Erasmus penned "Discussions, or Collation, Concerning Free Will" (Packer & Johnston 37).
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
To understand Augustine's (354-430 AD) view of predestination we must first look at his view on Grace. For Augustine, Grace is God's generous and quite unmerited attention to humanity. Because of original sin Augustine believed humanity as a whole to be frail, weak, and lost; a mass perdition of fallen individuals who cannot help themselves. Because of this we are totally dependent on God for faith from beginning to end (Augustine Ch. 51). According to Augustine it is only because of God's gracious intervention that we have any chance of being healed from original sin.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
One of the High School students from my youth group recently posted a note on Facebook concerning predestination and it has generated abundant conversation amongst the students on her friend list. This has inspired me to begin a blog series on the subject.
The reason predestination keeps on coming up in our youth group discussions is this: if you believe, preach, and, teach grace you're going to eventually have to deal with predestination no matter what the outcome.
Monday, April 13, 2009
At my church we're going to be doing a sermon series on Paul's letter to the Philippians so in preparation for this I picked up Karl Barth's commentary on the letter. Now this commentary isn't like you typical reference that should be consulted for whatever verse your preaching on, rather it is more like your typical book that should be read from front to back. In doing this I have been rather moved. His reflections on Philippians have made that letter come alive to me like it never has before.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
-Gerhard O. Forde "Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life"
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
At my church we recently hosted the Youth Specialties (YS) "One Day" conference. Although the conference itself and the speaker had helpful and important things to say (this year's focus was getting students in the Bible which is always a good thing), I found some elements of YS' message somewhat skewed and even dangerous from a Christian perspective. Before I dive into this, I must admit that I already had some misgivings about the product that YS often puts out. This conference just confirmed those misgivings.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Sorry it's been awhile. Things are really crazy at work right now. Because of this all I got is a simple quote a came across in Don Everts' work "God in the Flesh." He writes: