Does Sanctification Have Any Place in the Economy of the Gospel?
While the Protestant Church is coming off from a week celebrating the Reformation rallying cry “justification by grace through faith,” we need to ask what about sanctification? Does holiness have a place in the economy of the gospel when salvation is said to be from Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone?
Michael Allen unequivocally affirms holiness’ place in the gospel with his new book Sanctification.
The economy of the gospel demands that we confess not only that Christ brings life, blessing, and, fundamentally, God to us, but that in so doing he brings holiness along the way. (22)
The third book in the new New Studies in Dogmatics series, Allen’s book defines holiness by tending to its connections with the character of God, the…
3 Reasons Why Catholics and Protestants Interpret Scripture Differently
While Protestants are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Catholic professor Matthew Levering is asking a basic-level question:
Was the Reformation a mistake?
In his similarly titled book, Levering makes it clear he believes “they were right in seeking reform” (31). Yet he does “consider that the Reformers made some doctrinal mistakes” (15), and addresses nine of them. Over the past few weeks we’ve engaged a few of his arguments here and here.
Concluding the book, Kevin Vanhoozer offers a “Mere Protestant Response.” He evaluates Levering’s theological method in establishing Catholic doctrine as biblical, showing why Protestants and Catholics interpret Scripture differently.
Here are three important differences highlighted by Vanhoozer.
1) The Locus of Authority
The main interpretive difference between Protestants and…
Biblical Grounds for the Catholic Doctrine of Merit?
Next week Protestants will celebrate the quincentennial anniversary of the Reformation and the rallying cry that emerged from it: Justification by grace through faith alone.
Yet, is there room for merit in God’s economy of salvation? Luther said “No way!” Levering says, “Not so fast!”
In his new book Was the Reformation a Mistake? Catholic theologian Matthew Levering offers some biblical grounds for the Catholic doctrine of merit as it relates to justification. He also clarifies what Catholic doctrine actually teaches:
The Catholic Church recognizes that no one can ever merit the utterly free gift of justification, and the Catholic Church also affirms that believers’ final perseverance unto eternal life is God’s free gift, to which the appropriate response will be gratitude to God…
How to Make the Benefits of Family Life Accessible to LGBT People
“In the day-to-day details of navigating Christian obedience with a gay orientation,” observes Nate Collins in his new book All But Invisible, “we do not have turn-by-turn directions to tell us where to go, but only landmarks that confirm we’re on the right track” (83). [See more of Nate Collins’ traditional view on sex and marriage at the start of this post.]
One of those landmarks Collins would like to recapture is the notion of vocation to guide discussions about what it means to be gay and Christian. Collins explains, “when the Bible refers to a particular behavior or pattern of living as a ‘gift,’ it is highlighting the calling or vocation that the gift represents to those who have it” (85)—including marital status. As with all gifts,…
Reading Proverbs In the Context of the Old and New Testament
One of my seminary professors used to cheekily refer to common Christian devotional practices as our “daily bread crumb.” Meaning: we often take a verse or even part of a verse and spin out a comforting crumb of exhortation at the expense of the whole loaf of biblical bread—whether the surrounding pericope or greater.
Perhaps with no other place in Scripture do we do this than with Proverbs. Ryan O’Dowd offers an important reminder in his new commentary on Proverbs (Story of God Bible Commentary) when studying this book:
such casual study of individual proverbs can be shortsighted, both because it is apt to overlook the endless depth of each saying and also because the sayings take on a whole new life in the…
Christianity and Sexuality: What We Believe, Why We Don’t Believe It
Recently, a number of books have been published grappling with what the Bible and reality says about same-sex practice. Yet pastor Todd Wilson believes there is a crucial gap in these resources:
I don’t think we’ve dealt adequately with the question of homosexuality in the light of God’s design for human sexuality. Instead we’ve addressed the issue too narrowly—at times almost too exclusively in biblical or personal practical terms. (13)
Our approach typically asks one of two questions: What does the Bible say about homosexuality? How can I love homosexuals like Jesus? Although important, these questions miss something: “We need to put the question in a larger theological context” (14).
Enter Mere Sexuality, a cogent, compact book exploring what Christians have always believed about human sexuality. In a culture that’s deeply confused about…
Why Catholic Doctrine Is Not Unbiblical
A provocative question on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And an appropriate one given lingering divisions between Protestants and Catholics in orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
It’s a question Catholic professor Matthew Levering asks in his new book, Was the Reformation a Mistake? Spoiler alert: He doesn’t think it was.
He is “deeply grateful” for the Reformers’ emphasis on a number of doctrinal positions and believes “they were right in seeking reform” (31). Yet he does insist they “made some doctrinal mistakes” (15), which he addresses in his book:
I focus on nine issues raised by Luther at the outset of the Reformation that continue to divide Catholics and Protestants. These nine issues are the following: Scripture, Mary, the…
“Who Am I?” Personal Identity in an Age of Identity Angst
After certain events changed Brian Rosner’s life dramatically, he had lost his sense of self and was forced to revisit the most personal of questions:
Who am I?
Out from this one question tumbled a number of others: How do your circumstances affect your sense of self? What makes you, you? What is a human being, anyway?
Leveraging his own personal experiences, Rosner addresses these questions in his new book Known by God. It tells the story of his own crisis of identity and the comfort he found in being known by God in an age of identity angst—a sense in which people are no longer sure who they are.
In our day and age the question of personal identity is subject to two powerful but opposing forces. On the one hand, nothing…
4 Reasons Why Faith vs. Science Is a Myth
“Tonight we will be talking about faith versus science. Our first guest is a former University of Oxford professor, evolutionary biologist, and bestselling author. He believes that science, not faith, holds the answers to all questions. On the other side of the aisle we have Joe Smith, who will speak for the legitimacy of faith and Christianity. Joe homeschools his kids, thinks Oprah is the Antichrist, and lives in a swamp” (23).
It does to Mark Clark. As he explains in his new book, The Problem of God, culture often portrays faith at odds with science: “science is about thinking, evidence, and rational justification, while Christianity and faith in general are about evading evidence and clinging to nonrationality” (25).
Gender & Sexual Identity: We Need a Fresh Perspective for Our People
For many years the intersection of gay identity and Christian identity in the United States was a virtual no-man’s land. Nate Collins is one of the more recent voices bridging that gap with his new book All But Invisible.
While similarly focused books emphasize the biblical and theological issues surrounding faith, gender, and sexuality, he provides a renewed vision of gospel flourishing for LGBT people by speaking from his own experience as a gay man in a mixed orientation marriage.
Collins is committed to helping churches include LGBT people in the family life of the church. But first, he addresses two big-picture problems facing Christians who want to explore identity questions at the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality.
1) Vision Problem: The Abundant Life for LGBT People
This first problem is…
2 Crucial Lessons the Western Church Can Learn from African Christianity
Francinah was born into a family of traditional spiritual healers of African traditional religion who were strongly opposed to Christianity. In time she herself became one of these so-called sangomas.
But over the years Jesus revealed himself to her in visions, delivering her from the power of ancestral spirits, convicting her of the sin of her abortions, and commissioning her as a prophet to spread the gospel. In a radical display of obedience, she destroyed all items associated with her work as a sangoma and ancestral spirituality, and began to preach wherever she found herself.
Moss Ntlha tells this important story in his new book, Out of the Shadows of African Traditional Religion. He hopes Francinah’s story will be of help…
Is the Bible “Patriarchal”? Yes and No – An Excerpt from Gender Roles and the People of God
Patriarchy—literally, “the rule of the father,” from the Greek patriarkhēs—is any systemic structure in which men or the eldest male hold the power, particularly over women, typically within a household but also in broader society. It has been with us almost since the dawn of humanity.
But is it biblical?
Alice Mathews asks this question and more of this important topic in her new book Gender Roles and the People of God:
How are we to think about the role or place of a woman in a patriarchal system? What is this woman, created as the man’s helper, according to Genesis 2:18? Is she…merely “a loyal and suitable assistant” to a man? Is this what God intended us to learn from that text?…