Weekly Thoughts

How Christianity Conquered Rome

Famine and war had recently afflicted Caesarea, so when the plague hit in the early fourth century, the populace was already weakened and unable to withstand this additional blow. Men and women began fleeing the city, one of the larger ones of the Roman Empire, for safety in the countryside.1 However, in the midst of the[…]

Read More

Faith: Living, Busy, Active, Mighty

In our day it is fashionable to portray Martin Luther as one who was strictly concerned with faith as a momentary event involving the transfer of one’s trust, apart from a subsequent lifetime of obedient works. I would like to suggest that this caricature is not only unfair; it is also inaccurate. This week’s post[…]

Read More

The Ethics of Reformation

Central to the Reformation was the fact that God places sinners before his unbroken gaze. This is the good news: we who were separated from Christ have been drawn into the loving embrace of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But what comes next? The Fundamental Difference  Let’s start with the basics. An important distinction between Catholics and Protestants concerns the[…]

Read More

Reforming Music—Martin Luther and Worship

Situated on the River Elbe, approximately midway between modern day Leipzig and Berlin, sits the town of Wittenberg. If you visit this town of 50,000 people today, your tour guide will doubtless want to take you to Market Square and show you the Stadtkirche (Town Church). This church, which dates to the 13th century, could[…]

Read More

“Roman But Not Catholic”– An Interview with the Authors

I remember my First Communion in the Roman Catholic Church—white suit, white tie, white shoes. There I was, in the groovy 1970’s, walking through the parish like a little John Travolta. I also remember a question that crossed my mind for the first time: Am I a Christian or am I Roman Catholic? The question[…]

Read More

Pew’s Reformation Research, and what the church can learn from it

Five centuries after Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses — the start of the Protestant Reformation by traditional reckoning — majorities of U.S. Protestants reportedly reject the Reformation doctrines of sola fide (the belief that justifying righteousness comes by faith alone) and sola scriptura (the belief that Scripture is the supreme authority for Christian faith and practice). This[…]

Read More

16th Century Renewal Today

In 1512 the Italian General of the Augustinian Order, Giles of Viterbo, asserted, “Men must be changed by religion, not religion by men.” To get a sense of the ecclesial malignancy of this period, we only have to consider some of its popes. Here are a few examples. Julius II (pont. 1503-1513) is often called the Warrior-Pope. He dressed[…]

Read More

Preaching Gospel in Sixteenth Century Italy (and Today)

Humans are naturally anxious. We feel abandoned and vulnerable in a world where we are destined to die. This was true in the sixteenth century as it is today. Indeed, for all our differences it’s remarkable how we share this basic human experience. To be sure, some anxieties are easily recognized. Others are more difficult[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More

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[…]

Read More