Church History

The Reformation at 500: The Papal Bull (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

“Since God has given us the papacy,” Pope Leo X stated dramatically, “let us enjoy it.”

There was one man standing in the way of such enjoyment, however. Leo had little regard for the priest in Wittenberg, Dr. Martin Luther, who he referred to as “a drunken German.”

“He will feel different when he is sober,” concluded the pope.

His ability to underestimate Luther could not have been more profound.

The movement that would become the Reformation had advanced greatly in 1518 and 1519. Luther’s encounters with church officials at the Heidelberg Disputation (in May of 1518), at the meeting at Augsburg (with Cardinal Cajetan in October of 1518) and at the Leipzig Debate (where he contended with Johann Eck in July of 1519) had forced him to evaluate the true source of authority. Ultimately, he would conclude that it had to be Scripture alone—Sola Scriptura, a term that would later be used to characterize the formal principle of the Reformation. His clash with the Holy Mother Church was quickly coming to a head.

But, in the providence of God, a web of complications kept the church, or even the Holy Roman Empire, from dealing as quickly or as forcefully with Luther as some thought necessary.

For one thing, the empire was without an emperor from the death of Maximilian I on Jan. 12, 1519, until the election of his grandson, Charles V, who began to reign on June 28, 1519.

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A Conversation with Dr. Mark Noll on the history of evangelicalism

"I am joined by Dr. Mark Noll, research professor at Regent College... author of Evangelicals: Who they Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be (with George Marsden and David Bebbington, Eerdmans, 2019), .... [topics:] how to define an evangelical, the history of evangelicalism, both in the United States and abroad, and how evangelicals are responding to the current moment." - Russell Moore

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Review: If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis

A review of If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Explaining the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life,* by Alister McGrath, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2014, 241 pages, hdbk.

C. S. Lewis is an endlessly fascinating person. He was an Oxford Don with few equals as an intellectual. Anyone who is familiar with the three volumes of Letters is well aware that they are reading the correspondence of a man who had read (and often reread) just about every great work of literature in the Western canon. Lewis was a Medievalist, thoroughly at home in Thomas Aquinas, Dante and Boccaccio (in their originals), with Beowulf and the Nordic mythology, and with Edmund Spenser, Milton, and a whole roster of other poets and mystics and playwrights.

But Lewis not only knew the greats of the 10th to the 16th centuries, he was also immersed in Plato and Aristotle, the Tragedies, Virgil and Ovid, and Neo-Platonists, again, all in the original Greek and Latin. His Letters especially brim with references and allusions to these works as well as a host of British, French and German classics. He was, by any measure, a brilliant scholar.

But to say this about Lewis is not to get at the whole man. For C. S. Lewis was a man of down-to-earth uncommon sense. His faculties were aware of the limitations of the five senses and the realities of life and truth that dwelt beyond. He, like G. K. Chesterton, saw the miraculous everywhere.

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The Reformation at 500: The Papal Bull (Part 1)

In September of 2017, my wife Lynnette and I were privileged to visit the land of Germany and tour the sites of the Reformation in celebration of its 500th anniversary.

The trip was memorable—even life-changing—for a number of reasons.

First of all, the trip was given to us by our friends at Grace Bible Church, in Portage, Wis., where I had served as interim pastor for nearly two years. Suffice it to say that we will never forget all that that congregation did for us.

Secondly, the trip took place less than three months after my wife had brain surgery to remove a pituitary tumor. That period, in the late spring, summer and fall of 2017, was one that I would never want to redo—and yet I cannot imagine my life without it. It led directly into our determination to seek to serve in my position with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Thirdly, this was our first experience with international travel. That, in itself, was extremely significant for us.

Finally, this trip took my interest in, and passion for, the Reformation, to an entirely different level. Although I have been fascinated with the Reformation all of my life (being raised a confessional Lutheran) and have preached on it for nearly 30 years, this trip opened my eyes to so many new realities, and brought it all to living color in my mind.

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Tim Miller reviews Thomas Kidd's “Who Is an Evangelical?”

"Kidd has shown that the term evangelical has lost much of its doctrinal meaning....And though he does not make this explicit, I think he has shown that the movement has done its best when it has focused on doing what it has been called to do (evangelize, emphasize personal lives of holiness) rather than when it has sought political power." - Tim Miller

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3 Models of Heaven in the Early Church

Lately, I have been reading a book called A History of Heaven by Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang. I am fascinated with their 22-page chapter, “Irenaeus and Augustine on our Heavenly Bodies.”

The authors compare the eschatology views of Irenaeus, the early Augustine, and the later Augustine. Irenaeus represents the early church’s premillennialism. Augustine represents the later amillennial view. You can see the stark contrast between these two men. Also helpful is the distinction between earlier and later Augustine. The early Augustine held very much to a Spiritual Vision Model approach, while the later Augustine was slightly less so. I have charted out some of the differences in the perspectives. Hope you find this helpful. See below:

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What Did DC Churches Do When the Spanish Flu Struck Again?

"A very different response is found in Rev. Francis J. Grimke.... Grimke acknowledged that there was some 'considerable grumbling' regarding the closing of churches. But he also offers a defense: 'The fact that the churches were places of religious gathering, and the others not, would not affect in the least the health question involved.

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