Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Reformation Day, October 31, 2007

490 years ago tomorrow, on Wednesday, October 31, 1517, the Augustinian monk Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door of the Castle Church, in Wittenberg, Germany. By God's grace, Luther's courageous act of challenging the corruption and unBiblical practices of the Medieval Roman Catholic hierarchy (including the sale of indulgences) helped launched the Great Reformation.

Martin Luther said (watch video), "Unless I am convinced by Scripture or clear reasoning that I am in error - for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves - I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one's conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen." (Luther [2003])

Reformation Principles:
The Reformation gave us the Bible – now freely available in our own languages. The Reformers fought for the principles that Scripture alone is our final authority, Christ alone is the head of the Church and justification is by God’s grace, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by grace alone, through faith alone.

Some of the other great blessings which we benefit from, as a result of the Reformation, include:
* The Bible available in our own language
* Scripture alone is our final authority
* Religious freedom.
* Liberty of conscience.
* Free enterprise.
* Lex Rex (the rule of law).
* Separation of powers.
* Constitutionally limited republics.
* The Lordship of Christ in all areas of life.

Why is Reformation Day important, and why should it be observed?
Martin Luther and his colleagues came to understand that if we sinners had to earn salvation by our own merits and good works, we would be lost and completely without hope. But through the working of the Holy Spirit, the reformers rediscovered the gospel -- the wonderful news that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to redeem and justify us. What a wonderful opportunity to go over with our children the great "Solas" of the Reformation: by Scripture alone, by Grace alone, by Christ alone, by Faith alone, and to God be the glory alone! Here is a great piece on the 5 Solas from Pastor John Samson.

On Reformation Day, may we all (as we should) glorify God for what He accomplished in 16th century Germany through Martin Luther and the other reformers - the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith for Christ's sake. We should also earnestly pray that God would keep all of us faithful to the true gospel and help us to joyfully declare it to the world. As the great hymn encapsulates the theme of the Reformation:

By grace God's Son, our only Savior,
Came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of thine own merit
That Jesus died thy soul to win?
Nay; it was grace, and grace alone,
That brought Him from His heav'nly throne.
(By Grace I'm Saved, Grace Free and Boundless, Christian L. Scheidt, 1742)

See also,
Pastor Tom Browning, The History of the Reformation (resources)
Reforming My Mind Blog - Reformation Day MP3 Sermons (great list!)
Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Christianity and the Dark Side - What About Halloween?
John MacArthur's Grace to You Ministries - Halloween
Tim Challies, Halloween - Trick or Retreat? (2007), and Halloween Fast Approaches (2006)
Hank Hanegraaff & Equip.org, Halloween

And don't forget the Reformation Polka!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Take Me Back

Please allow me to take us back a bit, for fun and worship. And for those of you not yet born, or whose life may have been a blur back then, please indulge me and enjoy a sampling of my history.

First: Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. Comedy genius. Here's a taste of their work - The Dentist. A classic!

Second: Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution. Anyone out there remember this Saturday morning show?

Third: Andrae Crouch! I grew up listening to Andrae Crouch & The Disciples. I think I owned every one of their LP's/albums up through 1977. Please enjoy with me one of Andrae's most famous, and one of my favorite, songs of worship in which we may glorify and enjoy HIM! - My Tribute: To God Be The Glory.

If you were "taken back," what would be your remembrances?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joel Osteen Update

Updated article from Dr. Michael Horton, Westminster Seminary California, Joel Osteen and the Glory Story: A Case Study.

See my earlier post of Joel Osteen's "theology" and views of sin and salvation - updated as recently as January 25, 2008 with new information re: his latest book, Become A Better You, and analysis of his recent interview on CBS' 60 Minutes and Fox News.

And from the You've Got To Be Kidding Me files - don't miss your opportunity to wear the “I Watch Joel Osteen” ixthus lapel pin; or gather the family around to play a rousing and undoubtedly encouraging board game - Your Best Life Now, also available at Amazon.

I shake my head and don't know whether to cry, laugh or scream. I particularly find the desecration of the ixthus quite unsettling.

Jesus Christ! Son of God! Savior!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Brad Pitt: "I've Defined My Beliefs"

UPDATE - July 23, 2009

In an interview with a German magazine, Brad Pitt said the following:

BILD: Do you believe in God?
Brad Pitt: “No, no, no!”

BILD: Is your soul spiritual?
Brad Pitt: “No, no, no! I’m probably 20 per cent atheist and 80 per cent agnostic. I don’t think anyone really knows. You’ll either find out or not when you get there, until then there’s no point thinking about it.

- - - - - -

Actor Brad Pitt was recently interviewed for two articles (here, and here) in Parade magazine (Parade, by Dotson Rader, October 7, 2007). Some of the most noteworthy quotes for purposes of this blog post are as follows:

"I always had a lot of questions about the world, even in kindergarten. A big question to me was fairness. If I'd grown up in some other religion, would I get the same shot at Heaven as a Christian has?"

"When I got untethered from the comfort of religion, it wasn't a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self."

"Religion works," he goes on. "I know there's comfort there, a crash pad. It's something to explain the world and tell you there is something bigger than you, and it is going to be alright in the end. It works because it's comforting. I grew up believing in it, and it worked for me in whatever my little personal high school crisis was, but it didn't last for me. I didn't understand this idea of a God who says, 'You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness. If you won't, then you don't get it!' It seemed to be about ego. I can't see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.

"What's important to me is that I've defined my beliefs and lived according to them and not betrayed them," he says. "One of those is my belief in family. I still have faith in that."

Question: What stands out to you from these quotes? If you were speaking to Brad about these statements, what would you say? What are Biblical responses to these statements/beliefs?