Simple Bible religion?

CW: homophobia. The International Lutheran Council has issued a full-throated statement in support of Juhana Pohjola, Bishop Elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, and Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish MP, who have been “charged by Finland’s Prosecutor General over the publication of a 2004 booklet which articulates historic Christian teaching on human …

Lift up your hearts with John Calvin

I’m currently reading a fascinating book called Lifting Hearts to the Lord: Worship with John Calvin in Sixteenth-Century Geneva. It’s part of a series of books, The Church at Worship, which combine essays, illustrations and extracts from primary materials in order to give readers an insight into Christian worship in a particular place and time. …

The sacrament that coronavirus can't take away

As with pretty much all churches in the UK, our congregation has suspended services until further notice in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Last week we also omitted the Sacrament of the Altar due to concerns over our ability to administer it safely. This situation leaves Christians in the distressing position of being deprived …

What the prosperity gospel gets right

The Financial Times this weekend has a profile of Joel Osteen, “a preacher for Trump’s America”, one of the most successful proponents of the “prosperity gospel” — which the FT describes as a “quintessentially American” blend of Pentecostalism and faith healing, and the only section of the US church that is currently expanding. The writer, …

Book review: A More Radical Gospel, by Gerhard O. Forde

I’ve just finished reading A More Radical Gospel, a collection of essays and lectures by Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde (1927–2005). The essays set out elements of Forde’s vision of “radical Lutheranism”: that is, a Lutheranism that centres its ministry and identity on the proclamation of the gospel as unconditional promise, while sitting relatively lightly to historic Lutheran …

Neither denial nor despair

Walter Brueggemann has some timely thoughts in his book A Pathway of Interpretation (pp.85f.), where he turns his attention in one chapter to the poem that concludes the book of Habakkuk: Though the fig tree does not blossom,     and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails     and the fields yield …

Word, bath, meal: the raw materials of Christian spirituality

Christians meet for worship on Sunday. Christians pray, together or singly, on all days of the week at morning and evening, perhaps also at noon or night. They pray in praise and intercession. In their Sunday meetings Christians gather around the scriptures. They also hold a meal. They teach faith to those who would join …

Sufficient unto the day: Brexit and emotional health

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, …

Heaviness, weeping and joy

Today’s appointed psalm in the lectionary was Psalm 30. This is one of my favourite psalms, especially the celebrated lines: Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, …

Promise, need and faith in the Lord’s Prayer (2)

In my previous post, we looked at how Luther applies the principles of promise, necessity and faith to the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer — where we exercise our faith in God’s promise to meet our dire need for the proclamation of the gospel, the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, and protection from temptation …