Weekly Thoughts

Luther on Faith and Works

Martin Luther is commonly portrayed as one who was strictly concerned with faith as a momentary event involving the transfer of trust, apart from a subsequent lifetime of obedient works. I would like to suggest that this caricature is inaccurate. Luther’s “Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans” was written in 1522[…]

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The Cross and Christian Friendship

How does Calvary shape our friendships? Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) was among the first Christian thinkers to reflect on the meaning of friendship. For example, toward the end of City of God he writes, “There is no greater consolation than the unfeigned loyalty and mutual love of good men who are true friends” (19.8). But the gift[…]

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The Necessity of Divine Blessing

This Sunday initiates our new preaching series on Exodus, The God Who Delivers.  From the opening verses of this great book, we are reminded that divine blessing is an essential component of life. More than sentiment, such blessing is a theological act that delivers men and women from slavery and leads them into life. Think about the way we talk about[…]

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A First Step to Reading Calvin

Let’s face it, John Calvin’s Institutes is intimidating to many people, certainly to the uninitiated layperson. I suspect that there are also many of us in ministry who find it easier to quote Calvin than it is to actually read him. For instance, here is a little test: How many books are there in the Institutes? Can you[…]

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The Reformation’s Legacy of Small Groups

It may come as a surprise to learn that small groups, that is, men and women gathering to study Scripture and fellowship together, were a significant part of the Reformation. This was true in places like Italy, as it was for nations north of the Alps. Most people are unaware that southern Europe witnessed such[…]

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Was Luther Guilty?

It is common to hear Martin Luther pegged as the man who divided Western Christianity. For example, in speaking to this question, Bishop Bob Barron recently asserted, “I think Luther was too polemical, and I think he fell into opposition [too] quickly with the Catholic Church.”[1] Barron proceeded to say that if Luther were only more patient[…]

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On Protestants and Protestantism

In this 500th year anniversary of the Reformation, there is much discussion concerning the enduring significance of Protestant identity. A perusal of new titles hitting bookshelves illustrates the point. In the recent past, I’ve enjoyed reviewing a couple of these books, both of which are meaningful contributions to the conversation. The first one is titled Protestants[…]

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Peter Martyr Vermigli and John Henry Newman on Justification

To evaluate commonalities and differences on the doctrine of justification among Roman Catholics and Reformed Protestants, we would do well to consider two figures in whose writings the subject features prominently: the Protestant, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562) and the Catholic, John Henry Newman (1801–1890). Despite the gulf in time separating Vermigli and Newman, there are several similarities in their personal[…]

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Possessions and Christian Faith

Thanks to the influence of Professor Tony Lane, I have learned to be leery of general statements concerning “Calvinism” or Calvin’s teaching. The Frenchman’s thought is usually more complex than we suppose. On the other hand, I’ve also gained an appreciation for the practical dimensions of Calvin’s pastoral ministry. Here is a particular example involving possessions[…]

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Repentance in the Church, Entree to Renewal

Evangelist, church planter, and founder of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) had a passion to proclaim the gospel to the masses. Often preaching at the margins of life, Moody stressed the need for repentance and the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus. Ever looking forward to the Second Advent, his life’s desire[…]

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