Thinking Out Loud

November 3, 2017

Was the Reformation a Mistake?

This recently-released book from Zondervan deserves an award for “Provocative Title of the Year” and I felt that while Reformation Day is still fresh in our minds, I would mention it here. Plus, this is, to the best of my knowledge anyway, a rather unique Christian publication.

The full title is: Was the Reformation a Mistake? Why Catholic Doctrine is not Unbiblical. The author is Matthew Levering, a theology professor at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake. In the interest of equal time, there is a Protestant response from theologian Kevin J. Vanhoozer who does research and teaches at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

The book’s 9 chapters look at:

  • Scripture and its interpretation
  • Devotion to Mary
  • The Mass / Eucharist / Lord’s Supper
  • Origin of The Seven Sacraments
  • Monasticism and the Gospel
  • Merit and Justification; God’s mercy
  • Purgatory / Prayers for the dead / Penance
  • The conferring of Sainthood
  • The papacy

Each section begins with a simple one paragraph introduction which sets out the issue and also refers readers with less familiarity with what the Roman Catholic Church teaches to some primary documents. Following this is a summary of what the author views as Luther’s primary concern. The balance of each chapter is headed “Biblical Reflections” which aims to set out Biblical origins for the teachings which concerned Luther and concern many non-Catholics today.

Of the book’s 241 pages (in the pre-publication version) Levering’s main text comprises 166 pages and Vanhoozer is given 41 pages for rebuttal. The latter sees the conflict existing not between Protestants and Catholics but between “catholicism and one particular tradition (Romanism)” which he seems to view as a theological pattern in which carefully vetted scripture passages are chosen because they lend credence to a pre-determined, Vatican issued theology. But the tone of his rebuttal is cordial.

Full disclosure: I did not read every word. (Up to a certain point in writing his response, neither had Vanhoozer.) Some of this was above my pay grade, though it was published by Zondervan, not Zondervan Academic. I do not purport that this was written in my normal book review modus operandi. Rather, I intend to keep this on the shelf and refer to specific items in the list of nine as needed in discussions I have with Roman Catholics.

I understand why the publisher issued the book under this particular title in this particular year, but I still found the title needlessly provocative. The book itself, I find fascinating.


For publisher marketing info at Zondervan, Click this link.

Thanks to Mark at HarperCollins Christian Publishing in Canada for an opportunity to examine this interesting book.

 

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March 2, 2011

Wednesday Link List

  • We begin this week with a Sherman’s Lagoon panel from the weekend, and dedicate it to Pete Wilson and the spate of other Christian authors who released a book in 2010 with Plan A or Plan B in the title.
  • And now the link list. But links to what? Was there anything else in the Christian blogosphere this week besides Rob Bell? And to think, most of these were from people who haven’t seen the book. The number keeps growing. Just go to Google Blog Search. Type “Rob Bell” in quotation marks. From the margin on the left side, select the tab that says “past week.”  I’m guessing by the time you read this you’re looking at over 6,000 choices, right?  If you missed this blog yesterday, it’s got quotations from the actual book.
  • And speaking of hell, I had this link as a footnote to yesterday’s post here, but don’t miss John Shore’s video which — posted just a few days before all hell broke loose (couldn’t resist) in the Christian blogosphere — really defines the present controversy.
  • And speaking of books guaranteed to shake things up: Canadian Evangelicals have long embraced radio and television broadcaster Michael Coren as one of their own, though closer observation reveals he has been, for the past few years, a practicisng Roman Catholic. That all goes much more public on April 12 with the release of Why Catholics Are Right.
  • Andrew Jones is on location in Christchurch, New Zealand and gives us the skinny (couldn’t resist) on conditions following the earthquake.  Sample: “Thousands of people went to church on Sunday, many of them gathering at outdoor locations because their own buildings were either down, condemned, unsafe, or just because people felt safe meeting outdoors.”
  • The third short film in the video series BASICS with Francis Chan is releasing this month; the publisher, David C. Cook has posted a 90-second preview at GodTube.
  • Recognize this acronym: OSAS? Maybe you know it better as Once Saved Always Saved. Here’s an Arminian who suggests that the doctrine of eternal security isn’t helpful if it causes people to “abide in sin.”
  • Forget the Boomers. Numerically speaking, the Millennials now rule. Father and son team Thom and Jess Rainer deal with the impact of this on a larger society in a new book from Broadman & Holman. Here’s the book trailer.
  • Are you an aspiring writer? Frank Viola pours out his heart to unpublished authors in a lengthy piece giving 25 specific areas of advice.
  • It’s really not a new story. Another group of worshipers has parted company with their denomination, The Anglican Church of Canada, which of course claims ownership of the land and buildings. But what is the value of all this property to a denomination that is slowly dying?
  • Music clip of the week: Here’s an artist you may have missed out on previously, Jason Gray, who combines great music with insightful lyrics, found this week at the blog I Refuse To Play Church.
  • From there, we move to a musical selection a little less profound. I’m probably the last person in the world to watch this — it’s really old — but if you need a smile today, here’s Ray Stevens’ The Mississippi Squirrel Revival.
  • Here’s a bonus John Shore XtraNormal video, this time featuring Adam and Eve, after “God’s slight overreaction.”  “…I would wring the neck of that stupid snake if only it had one.”  I think John’s found a whole new medium, though purists will argue that his take is a little XtraBiblical.
  • Here’s the link to USAToday and MediaBase which publishes a weekly list of which Christian music songs are getting the most airplay in the U.S. Bookmark it for frequent reference.
  • I suppose if you kick off with Sherman’s Lagoon, you might as well end with Marmaduke and another picture familiar to many of you which was so similar that I wonder who inspired who.  Hint: This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Marm saying his prayers, so it could go either way.

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