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.


November 10, 2010

Wednesday Link List

One of the more interesting lists of lynx links I’ve posted in a long time…

  • Starting out, here’s the ultimate list of stats comparing the NIV 2011 with previous NIV editions.    Lots of changes in Ruth, Ezra, Amos and Jonah.  And III John.   But nothing like the 32% new content in Galatians.   The least renovated is Song of Solomon, with other low change rates in II Kings and Esther.
  • Very shocked to learn recently about the accident involving Ruth Graham’s husband Greg, who was in a major automobile accident.  (Ruth is a daughter of Ruth Bell Graham and Billy Graham.)   Pray for Ruth, Greg and their three sons.  You can follow some of the story by clicking on the ministry website, selecting Ruth’s blog, and scrolling back to September 30th’s entry.   Really, really try to remember to pray for this family.
  • Barry Simmons has embedded a film clip dramatizing a critical moment in Martin Luther’s trial before the Diet of Worms, where he is given a chance to renounce his beliefs.     Where would we be today if Luther hadn’t stood up the doctrinal corruption that was taking place at the time?  (No, this Diet isn’t a weight-loss program.   Click here and here to learn more.)
  • Speaking of film clips, a regular reader — and one-time guest contributor to this blog — Simon Fraser University film student Nathan Douglas scored an opportunity to do a film review for Christianity Today magazine of a Finnish movie releasing on DVD in February, Letters to Father Jacob.
  • Here’s a link to last night’s story on ABC World News about pastors who have lost their faith but can’t afford to lose their jobs. “…When speaking to parishioners, they tried to stick to the sections of the Bible that they still believed in — the parts about being a good person. Both said that they would like to leave their jobs though they can’t afford to.
  • Timmy Brister at the blog, Provocations and Paintings has been busy reading AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, and highlights two videos that were used to open the AND Conference.   I really like these videos, which help make the point of encouraging the blending the missional and the attractional approaches to church.
  • And speaking of Calvinist bloggers, Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs seems to take great delight in pouring gasoline on this fire, in a post entitled The Problem For Arminians.    I’m not 100% sure what — other than intense pain — this particular line of discussion is serving, but I’m not alone, as the 200-odd comments clearly indicate.
  • Mike Gilbart-Smith posts some fairly extensive notes from a lecture by Stuart Townend on Leading Corporate Worship.    He also summarizes them here at 9 Marks.    Don’t know who Townend is?  Then click here.
  • The author of Heaven almost got there at an earlier stage of life.  Randy Alcorn talks about working at a 7-11 and being robbed at gunpoint.  Well, actually he kinda glosses over it.
  • Adam Young aka Owl City performs In Christ Alone with a couple of interesting key changes.   He ends the blog post related to the song with this:  “When He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me… because my banner will be clear.”
  • And then, at the other end of the musical spectrum, we have the bluegrass sounds of The Franz Family kicking off the Christmas season early with O Come, O Come Emmanuel.     I’ve always like this song; I like the simple harmonies on this, but I was really struck by the production of the video itself.
  • Guess I’m going nuts with video links this week.   If you were part of the Jesus Music scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s; you’ll remember an early worship song from the Maranatha! Five album by Bill Sprouse and the Road Home based on Psalm 5.
  • Our cartoon this week is a bit of a mystery.  I clicked on Church People at Baptist Press by Frank Lengel and ended up with a string of Friends cartoons by Franko.  Same person?  Beats me.  I haven’t seen this one before among the seven different cartoons available there.  The way I see it, the “news” value of telling that story makes up for my ignoring the copyright notice.

March 6, 2010

Those Who Don’t Learn The Lessons of History…

…are doomed to make fools of themselves.

Once and for all, the difference between Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m always astounded how often this confusion appears, as though out of nowhere, in the middle of conversations. But it is especially lamentable when it takes place among Christian people. I mean the 16th Century reformer doesn’t really look a thing like the 20th Century civil rights activist.  Both were revolutionaries; you could get a high-school term paper out of some similarities, I suppose.

Things could be worse, however:  The last time this came up, later in the discussion, the person thought my reference to Jehovah’s Witnesses using the term “JW” was actually my way of saying “Jew.”

I’m thinking of starting a website as an alternative to, that will be called TotallyDoesn’ (the domain is available…)

November 25, 2009

On the Links

Here’s some places a mouse click or two took me this week:

  • I really hesitate to post another link to Pete Wilson because every time I do, he writes a personal note of thanks, and he’s a busy guy.  But I couldn’t ignore this one.   Pete had the thrill of baptizing his son Jett last week, and wrote him a note on the blog.    Here’s the part I don’t want you to miss:  God has an amazing adventure planned for you and I want to encourage you to trust Him at every turn. Over and over again you’ll face situations where you’ll be tempted to give into fear but I pray you’ll choose faith. You’ll be temped to control but remember freedom comes in letting go. You’ll be drawn toward comfort but I pray you’ll choose sacrifice. You will feel all alone but remember God promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Read it all here.
  • This video has been up for a year now, but if you missed the Protestant Reformation and want to catch up, this rap video, 95 Theses, should fill you in.   (Click on more info below the advert to see the full lyrics.)  Also available at this homepage.
  • Sadly, Philip Yancey marks his final regular column with Christianity Today this week with a look at the Evangelical movement.   “Perhaps we should present an alternative to the prevailing culture rather than simply adopt it. What would a church look like that created space for quietness, that bucked the celebrity trend and unplugged from surrounding media, that actively resisted consumerist culture? What would worship look like if it were directed more toward God than toward our entertainment preferences?”
  • Jim Henderson, of Jim and Caspar Go To Church fame, has an excellent article on his site, “What The Black Church Has That The White Church Needs.”   He writes, They’ve never had power or influence over the majority culture; They’ve always had to do more with less;  They have experience with being ignored; They’ve developed practical gospel that brings heaven to humans (as well as humans to heaven); They produced the most significant Christian leader of the 20th Century Martin Luther King Jr… ” You might find it hard to see the first few of those as being things they have.   Read and comment at Off The Map.
  • A long time acquaintance of ours, Brian McAuley, has written a book on an encouragement celebration that parents can do with their children.   The Family Gold Plate meal is similar to other red plate rituals some families have, but adds a lot of extra details.   It’s sold as a book only, or with the gold plate itself.    I don’t endorse a lot of commercial ventures on this blog, but am making an exception for this one.   To learn more, click here.   (It’s also linked in this blog’s sidebar from now to year-end.)
  • USAToday’s religion page notes the proliferation of student atheist groups on college campuses in this article. “At Iowa State, most of the club’s roughly 30 members are “former” somethings, mostly Christians. Many stress that their lives are guided not by anti-religiousness, but belief in science, logic and reason.”
  • In a 7-minute video, author Stephen K. Scott, author of The Greatest Words Ever Spoken, discusses The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.   Scott went from failing in nine jobs to starting over a dozen multi-million dollar companies.   Read the book promotional vid here.
  • Time Magazine discusses the “helicopter parent” syndrome in a 4-page online article titled “The Growing Backlash Against Over-parenting.”   Strongly recommended for parents, grandparents, daycare workers, educators, etc.   Click here to read.
  • This one’s a bit dangerous, since the website WTFDIB stands for ‘What the Flippity-Flop Do I Believe?’  I know that when most of you see WTF in an acronymn, that’s not the first thing that comes to mind.   That may explain the rather slow traffic on this doctrinal discussion site.  Maybe you can spark a few of the discussions.

HT re. Time Magazine article goes to Zach Neilsen at Take Your Vitamin Z

They’re golfing.  On the Links.   Get it?   Okay, I’ll just put the cat up again next week like we usually do.

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