Tag Archives: Reformation

Happy Reformation Day!

Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Rotterdam Renai...

Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Rotterdam Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest and theologian, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1523. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is one of my facebook statuses from Sunday, as I reflected on Reformation Sunday/Day, yes, I posted it while I was in church. But I quickly turned off my iPhone after this burst of inspiration:

I just wanted to take the time to wish everyone a blessed Reformation Sunday. When I think of Reformation Sunday, I don’t think of division or chaos. I think of renewal. With every era, the Christian faith demands not “revival” (emotionally driven, culturally hegemonic change) but wholeness and renewal guided by the Holy Spirit, and tested by the Word of God (Jesus+Scripture).

The renewal of the Reformation gave us witnesses from Bartolome de la Casas to Erasmus to the Anabaptists to John Knox and John Calvin, as well as many women. Let us praise the Triune God for these testimonies and continue to pray for renewal.

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Teaching Church History In Church: Where Would You Start?

Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor

In May, the church I attend decided that instead of breaking up into small groups for Sunday School and having separate groups based on topics during the summer, we would all meet as one larger group. There have been lessons on the Bible, God, the person of Christ, and the Holy Spirit among other things. I have been asked to do a 45 minute lesson church history. I had been leaning on one direction for a few weeks with my outline, but after talking with Optimistic Chad on Monday, I have changed my tentative outline.

Here is what I have:

1st 12 minutes:

The Bible, Judaism, Jewish Christianity, Gentile Christianity, and The Roman Empire

In this portion, I would move from talking briefly about how the Bible was canonized to the split of Christianity from Judaism.

[honestly, this had not occurred to me in my original plans, but thanks to the Optimist, I realize it woulda been a mistake to NOT talk about this, the idea of Christianity as a sect of Judaism at first]

2nd 12 minutes

Constantine, The Nicene Creed, And Christendom

I was originally gonna start with just the Nicene Creed, Christian beliefs about the humanity & deity of Christ. I do believe that Constantine’s reign sparked a new change in church history. Good or bad? You be the judge.

3rd 12 minutes

The Protestant Reformation & Baptist Roots

A brief discussion of Luther, Calvin, and the Anabaptists, the Reformation in England and the eventual movement here into the North American colonies.

3-5 minute Conclusion

Why Church history? What is it all about? What is a Baptist? What is unity?

The End.

How would you teach church history in church? Where would you start?

And of course, I plan on incorporating Doctor Who into the presentation!

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Martin Luther: Was He Pretty Confused?

Martin Luther, commemorated on February 18 Eva...

 Or A Lover of Paradox?

Martin Luther is one of my favorite figures in church history, both to praise and to criticize. I think that he and many other saints represent the meaning of being a Christ follower, to be fallen, to learn from our mistakes, to be both submissive recipients of tradition as well as iconoclasts, engaging the culture at large, while remaining as faithful to the Gospel as we know how. Now, I find Luther’s anti-semitism, for example, unacceptable, he let his emotions get the best of him. It okay to be passionate, but self-control is one of the cardinal virtues according to the New Testament. Oh, yeah and that whole salvation came to the Jews first, and um, Jesus was Jewish, and that loving your whole neighbor Golder Rule thing!

Reading through Luther’s Table Talk, he has some pretty strong words for the Church Fathers: “in Popedom the glosses of the Fathers were of higher regard than the bright and clear text of the Bible” or statements like “St. Bernard, Basil, Dominicus, Hieronymus,” “Ambrose, Basil, and Gregory” are all each against the good things that “the Divine word” had to offer. Yet, turn the pages a few pages latter, and Luther reflects on the Bible, using what else, images from Patristic thought, like St. Gregory’s  Holy Scripture as water, “an elephant swimmeth, but a little sheep goeth therein upon his feet.”

And you know how a lot of people like fairytales, folktales, and fables? Well, Martin Luther says just like the Church Fathers’ writings, Plato’s Fables are nothing but lies. But to explain the nature of the Bible? Luther uses a fable he remembers, about a lion serving a feast before swine.

I don’t think Martin Luther was pretty confused (well, maybe on a few things like infant baptism and Judaism), but I do think that if one looks at Luther, and Christian theologians before him, paradox, and neither linear logic or systematic theologies, were the norm for Christian theology. Paradox–because we worship the Supreme Paradox in Christ Jesus every Sunday. Fully human, fully divine, without confusion.

Is paradox a helpful term for theology?


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