Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther’

Book Plunge: Why Church History Matters

September 29, 2014

What do I think of Robert Rea’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Let’s be blunt. For many of us, history isn’t always the most exciting topic, which is quite really a shame since it impacts our lives so much. If we’re Christians, we love the Bible and we think it’s important to know what happened in it, but aside from perhaps something like the Reformation, many of us don’t know what happened in church history. Go to your average church and ask the people who know their Bibles well to name a single early church father. Most likely, you’ll get blank stares and some might say “Martin Luther? John Calvin? John Wesley?”

It’s a shame that those of us who have such a great love of Scripture so often do not bother to understand how our own history that went before us turned out. We act as if Jesus came and then perhaps something like the Reformation happened and lo and behold, we are here now and now we must live our lives.

Part of this is the individualism in our culture that places each of us in our own little vacuum of existence where what went before us doesn’t matter and what’s happening outside of us doesn’t really matter. It is our personal universe that is of the supreme importance. What difference can the Donatist controversy make? How can I be repeating the errors of the Gnostics today, whoever they were? Why should I care about those old arguments Thomas Aquinas put forward for God? Do I really need to care about how John Chrysostom interpreted Scripture?

Rea tells us that in fact church history does matter and if we are students of Scripture, we should be students of that history. We should be learning about the great men and women who came before us and realize that the lessons we learn from them in the past can be highly influential in our day and age and keep us from repeating their errors and help us to repeat their successes.

C.S. Lewis years ago gave the advice to read old books because when you do, you read another time and place that critiques yours and can see blind spots in your position that you do not see because of the unspoken assumptions you accept in your culture. Meanwhile, you too can see blind spots in the work that you are reading that they would miss for the same reasons.

In fact, the author suggests we read outside of the circle of our own faith tradition, our own time, our own location, and our own culture. In doing so, we will interact with areas we would never have considered before. If we are wrong, we can correct our view. If we are right, we are still the better for getting to see why others think differently.

The first part of the book is about tradition. How is it understood? The reality is Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox (By orthodox, unless stated other wise, I mean branches of the church such as Eastern Orthodox) all place some value on tradition. Some place it on the same level as Scripture. Some don’t, but they see it as important to consider and insofar as it agrees with the Scripture, should be accepted. Bible-Focused Christians, as Rea prefers to call them regardless of where they land on the church spectrum, would all tend to accept statements like the Nicene Creed for instance.

Regardless of your position, tradition should not be ignored. Even if you think it is wrong in a certain place, it is helpful to learn how it is that that tradition came about, why it was held to in its day, and what the reasons were for believing in it. It would not be as if people just woke up one day and said “Hey! Let’s believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary!” There would be reasons for holding to it, rightly or wrongly, and a context that it was discussed in.

This part also includes a little bit about church history and how we got to where we are. As stated earlier, too many of us really have no idea even though we claim to be Bible-focused. This is interesting in an age where many of us like sites like ancestry.com where we want to see where our families came from, and there is no wrong in doing so of course, but our very Christian faith does not get the same treatment.

The second part is about the way we interact with the past. Can you form friendships as it were with those who went before. I am thinking of a debate I had with an atheist not too long ago where I stated that we do have the works that we can read by the past and we should critique them today and learn from them today. We can interact with the philosophers and others who went before us rather than leave reality up to only people today who happen to get a voice just because they’re conveniently alive at the time. There is a well of wisdom before us and we need to drink from it.

This includes finding mentors and accountability partners. No. You can’t communicate with them the same way you would with a friend, but you can still learn from them and let their lives be a blessing to you. I think of Aquinas for instance whose arguments I use today. When properly understood, they are incredibly powerful in our day and age. Too often, we have dismissed ideas just because they are old. Some ideas will stand the test of time and we will find we have just reinvented the wheel when we are done if we ignore them.

Finally, we have a section on how this affects us today. Can we bring the past into the present? What this deals with is how to interpret Scripture, such as by learning from the methodologies used in the past to interpret Scripture, and also how learning history affects our practices of worship and compassion and missionary service.

I will say I was a bit disappointed that despite being academic, when it came to this last section, nothing was really said about apologetic approaches. It would have been good to see how those of us who are in the apologetics ministry could look to the past for valuable mentors and friends in the field. Other important areas were mentioned, but this one was left out. I hope a future edition will include that as well as we can learn from great defenders of the faith in the past such as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas.

Still, this is a recommended read and got me thinking about the importance more of learning from the past and learning how to interpret Scripture as they did. You won’t find out much about church history per se, but you will find out much about why you should find out about it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do Part 4

July 29, 2014

How do we handle the issue of childbirth? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Once again, I return us to my wife Allie who has written part four in her own series. As always, her opinion is not necessarily the same as my own, but I do want to take the chance to share her work.

4. Obstructing humanity’s transition to more thoughtful, intentional childbearing is evil. (http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C1)
The first thing the article says in this section is a quote from Martin Luther, “If a woman dies in [child]bearing, let her die; she is there to do it.” There is no source of where they found this quote, it’s just labeled as one Martin Luther says. I did some research on this quote and I found that while a lot of pro-choice people quote this, there’s actually no real evidence that Martin Luther actually said this (http://www.tektonics.org/af/bogusq.php). That’s probably why there was no source to this quote in the article, because there was no source to begin with. The rest of the article mainly complains about how Christians aren’t for family planning. This is not completely true for all Christians. Some Christians believe in “natural family planning.” This is basically abstaining from intercourse when a woman is most fertile during her menstrual cycle if they wish to avoid conception (http://www.natural-family-planning.info/). This is well accepted among Catholics for example. Other Christians are fine with other uses of birth control, but won’t accept certain kinds (IUD’s for example) because they can cause early abortions (https://www.spuc.org.uk/education/contraceptives). Christians are against any form of abortions. If there is an unplanned pregnancy, there are other ways to deal with the issue than abortion. There are many couples for example who would love to have children but for some reason they naturally can’t. If you don’t want the baby, put it up for adoption and let another couple who are seeking to have a child love and take care of it. The author of the article complains, saying “If evidence-based compassion— the intersection of truth and love—was at the top of Christian priorities, hunger and destitution would be vastly diminished because millions of mothers would be able to plan and prepare for their babies.” Look, there’s a simpler way to solve some of this than the writer realizes. Teens, young adults, I’ve said this before in another section, and I’ll say it again, wait until you’re married before you have sex. It’s more fulfilling and you don’t have to risk an unplanned pregnancy. No birth control is 100% pregnancy-proof (other than not having any sex at all). When you do get married, don’t have kids until you are ready to have kids and can take care of them. Do your research. You can try natural family planning, or use a safe birth control that is not abortive. If you do happen to get pregnant and you’re not ready, don’t be afraid. There are organizations who can help you with taking care of the baby if you decide to keep it. If you choose to not keep the baby, put it up for adoption and allow another couple to love and care for it as their own child. There are many couples who can take care of the baby and would love to care for the baby if you don’t want to or can’t.
I beg of you, with all my heart and soul, please, do not abort the baby. You may be pregnant and have been told your child will be physically or mentally disabled. You may be thinking, “How can this child live? This child will live such a horrible life! No one would ever fall in love with this child, they’ll always be alone! I can’t allow this child to suffer!” If you are in that position, listen to me closely, my husband and I have Aspergers Syndrome (a form of Autism). Is it easy? No. I got bullied terribly growing up. There are a lot of people who think because of the disability my husband and I have, we should’ve been aborted. But my husband and I are glad to be alive! We love each other, and even if we never found each other, we know we are still loved by our families, friends, and even more so, our Heavenly Father! Don’t take away the life your child could have! Let them live! Our next section will be: 5. Undermining science is evil.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast: 5/3/2014 Robert Kolb

May 2, 2014

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Before we get to that, I want to explain a situation going on. The group that I am with has decided to drop BlogTalkRadio. It is my hopes to get back there somehow. I do not know how much longer it will last. We have been told to use a Skype Recorder but that is technology I’m not familiar with and it would limit your ability as listeners to get to call in and talk to my guests and ask questions.

Therefore, it is my hopes that either another group might want to incorporate the Deeper Waters Podcast and allow us the same time slot, or else that we will come across someone, and maybe someone reading this blog, who wants to sponsor the Deeper Waters Podcast. I’m going to do all I can to keep the show going, but I want you to be aware of this situation. Please be in prayer for it.

For now, let’s talk about this Saturday’s show.

My guest this Saturday will be Robert Kolb. For alerting me about Dr. Kolb, I want to think my pastor at The Point where my wife and I worship together. He tells me that Dr. Kolb is one of the top five experts on the Reformation and that’s what we’re going to be talking about.

In his own words,

“Robert Kolb, Missions professor of systematic theology emeritus at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, came to the seminary faculty after service as executive director of the Center for Reformation Research in Saint Louis (1972-1977) and as professor of religion and history at Concordia College, Saint Paul (1977-1993). From 1993 to 2009 he served as director of the Seminary’s Institute for Mission Studies and spent extensive periods of time teaching in post-Soviet Europe and East and South Asia. A member of the LCMS Commission for Theology and Church Relations from 1984 to 1992, he was its chair from 1989 to 1992. He was associate editor and then co-editor of The Sixteenth Century Journal (1973-1997) and since 1993 has been a member of the continuation committee of the International Congress for Luther Research. He helped edit the new English translation of The Book of Concord (2000) and has published some twenty books on the Lutheran Reformation and on evangelism and Christian doctrine.”

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What impact does the Reformation have for us today? How is it relevant in our apologetics and evangelism? Was it all good? Was it all bad? Was it a mixture in between? These are questions that we’ll be discussing and frankly, it’s an area I haven’t looked at too much myself so I will be definitely looking to learn about the Reformation alongside those of you who are listening.

Please be joining us for this episode to learn about this important event in history and please keep in mind to consider what you can do to support the Deeper Waters Podcast. As always, if you want to call in and ask a question, the number is 714-242-5180. We will be at our usual time from 3-5 PM EST.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters