Archive for October, 2012
October 31 is Halloween. It’s also Reformation Day – the day when Martin Luther nailed his famous “95 Theses” to the Wittenberg Door.
Today, Justin Taylor published an interview with Carl Trueman on the subject of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” Trueman’s historical insight helps to appreciate the providence of God in what was a great renewal of the gospel in that day.
On Saturday, October 31, 1517, a 33-year-old theology professor at Wittenberg University walked over to the Castle Church in Wittenberg and nailed a paper of 95 theses to the door, hoping to spark an academic discussion about their contents. In God’s providence and unbeknownst to anyone else that day, it would become a key event in igniting the Reformation.
Carl Trueman—who wrote his dissertation on Luther’s Legacy, teaches on Luther’s life and theology, and is writing a book on Luther on the Christian Life—answered some questions for us.
Had Luther ever done this before—nail a set of theses to the Wittenberg door? If so, did previous attempts have any impact?
I am not sure if he had ever nailed up theses before, but he had certainly proposed sets of such for academic debate, which was all he was really doing on October 31, 1517. In fact, in September of that same year, he had led a debate on scholastic theology where he said far more radical things than were in the Ninety-Five Theses. Ironically, this earlier debate, now often considered the first major public adumbration of his later theology, caused no real stir in the church at all.
What was the point of nailing something to the Wittenberg door? Was this a common practice?
It was simply a convenient public place to advertise a debate, and not an unusual or uncommon practice. In itself, it was no more radical than putting up an announcement on a public notice board.
What precisely is a “thesis” in this context?
A thesis is simply a statement being brought forward for debate.
Read the rest of this insightful interview here.
For a round-up of helpful articles related to Reformation Day, see this post from this time last year. To learn more about the Reformation from Carl Trueman, download audio from Clarus ’05, The Reformation: Why Was It Needed and Do We Need Another?. If you would like to read a book on the subject of the reformation, purchase, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation, on Amazon or at the DSC Resource Center.
Over at The Gospel Coalition Blog, Collin Hansen published a helpful summary of a sermon given by Mark Dever from Mark 12:13-17, where we read Jesus’ famous words, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
From this text, Dever unpacked three points. First, Christians are good citizens. Second, no earthly kingdom can be identified with God’s people. Third, Christians are finally accountable to God.
Jesus sets out a novel, revolutionary philosophy in these five verses, Dever argued. By way of background on this confrontation between Jesus and his religious opponents, Dever explained that Jesus posed such a great threat to Jewish leaders that he united bitter enemies from among the Herodians, who conspired with Rome, and the Pharisees, who rebelled against Israel’s occupiers. Together, they approached Jesus, hoping to catch him in a trap. They asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” (Mark 12:14) By answering, Jesus was in danger of losing either his popularity or his life. In fact, he lost both after a shocking response that subsequently formed the basis for all Western political philosophy.
Dever’s sermon is 70 minutes long and the message is worth your time. Listen to the sermon here.
Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition have prepared a gift for Christ’s church: The New City Catechism. Catechisms serve God’s people by serving the truth of God and his Word to our minds and hearts so that we might delight in him.
Here’s an excerpt from Keller’s introduction:
Question 1.What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Question 1.What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
These words, the opening of the Westminster and Heidelberg Catechisms, find echoes in many of our creeds and statements of faith. They are familiar to us from sermons and books, and yet most people do not know their source and have certainly never memorized them as part of the catechisms from which they derive.
Today many churches and Christian organizations publish “statements of faith” that outline their beliefs. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms (from the Greekkatechein which means “to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth”). The Heidelberg Catechismof 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms of 1648 are among the best known, and they serve as the doctrinal standards of many churches in the world today.
THE LOST PRACTICE OF CATECHESIS
At present, the practice of catechesis, particularly among adults, has been almost completely lost. Modern discipleship programs concentrate on practices such as Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism and can at times be superficial when it comes to doctrine. In contrast, the classic catechisms take students through the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer—a perfect balance of biblical theology, practical ethics, and spiritual experience.
. . . Because we have lost the practice of catechesis today: “Superficial smatterings of truth, blurry notions about God and godliness, and thoughtlessness about the issues of living—career-wise, community-wise, family-wise, and church-wise—are all too often the marks of evangelical congregations today.”
This catechism has several unique features:
- Length: 52 questions, one for each week of the year.
- Explanation: In addition to Scripture, written and video commentary supplement each question.
- All Ages: Children’s answers are indicated by words highlighted from adult answers, allowing families to learn together.
- Three Parts: 1) God, creation and fall, law (20 questions); Christ, redemption, grace (15 questions); Spirit, restoration, growing in grace (17 questions).
- Several Formats: The catechism is available in iPad and web-based formats. Questions and answers are also available in Pdf form.
Along with the release of this project, The Gospel Coalition, Tim and Kathy Keller have published a number of articles at the TGC Blog:
- “Why Catechesis Now?“
- “Introducing New City Catechism“
- “Why Write New Catechisms?“
- “Catechism – With OUR Kids?“
If it’s not on your calendar yet, you still have some time to put it there! DSC’s third annual Cause for Praise is tonight, Friday, October 19, from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM.
Our musicians will introduce a number of newly written songs of psalms set to song, including this one from Psalm 100.
Words and music by Drew Hodge
Make a joyful noise to the Lord.
Serve the Lord with great joy.
Come into His house and sing!
Know that the Lord is God alone!
Chosen to be His own,
we belong to Him and sing, we sing!
Enter in His gates
Fill His courts with praise!
Enter in His gates,
Come and bless His name!For the Lord is Good;
His love will endure;
His faithfulness to all generations!
For more information about Cause for Praise, and for links to songs recorded at DSC, click here.
In case you weren’t aware, DSC has a relatively new Missions Blog that tracks closely with our efforts and partnerships locally and around the globe.
Ahead of our upcoming Missions Emphasis Week (October 21-24), Clint, our Missions Director, recently published a blog with an invitation to dinner with three of DSC’s missionaries.
Here are the details:
Missions Emphasis Sunday is October 21st this year. And as part of the celebration, we will be hosting a dinner with three of our global missionaries. The night will include a silent auction, a Mediterranean dinner, free childcare, and a time of Testimony and Q&A with the following folks:
- Dr. Jaime Jacobo Pineda – Dr. Jacobo is our dear friend and partner from Guatemala with whom we seek to serve the Rabinal Achi through Community Health Evangelism.
- Hugo W. – Hugo is the Director of Arab World Media (AWM). AWM exists to “To see mature, multiplying churches among all Muslim peoples of the Arab world.” Not only do we support AWM from our annual missions budget, our hopes are that as we raise up a few SNAP families to move to North Africa, they will be able to benefit directly from AWM’s ministry on the ground both now and in the future. Please pray toward this end even now.
- Chuck Harper – Chuck is DSC’s missionary in residence who recently accepted a new position at Western Indian Ministries as the General Director.
Yes, you read that right: Childcare is free and includes a meal and a program.
Seating is limited to the first 50 adults who RSVP and pay ($20 per person) for their seat. You can pay online here, or by using check or cash in a missions envelope by dropping it in an offering box or taking it to the church office. You can RSVP by emailing email@example.com.
Finally, the silent auction will include items from our three global core initiative regions of the world (North Africa, Guatemala, and Native America).
Check back at the DSC Missions Blog in the days ahead for introductions to our guest missionaries for Missions Emphasis Week. The first introduction, for Dr. Jaime Jacobo and Jannette Pineda, is available here. Subscribe to the Missions Blog here.
Clarus is now just five months away – March 8-10! You’ll hear more about this DSC conference in the weeks and months ahead, but to kick everything off, here’s an invitation from Ryan published to the new Clarus conference site:
Our speakers for Clarus ’13, Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane, have written and spoken much on the themes of relationships and communication in the church.
In their co-authored book, How People Change, they succinctly summarize the challenges of and need for relationships—and, thus, provide a snapshot of our conference theme:
At one level we want friendships. At another level we don’t want them! In creation, we were made to live in community, but because of the fall, we tend to run from the very friendships we need. Quite often, our longing for them is tainted by sin. We pursue them only as long as they satisfy our own desires and needs. We have a love–hate relationship with relationships! The Bible recognizes this profound tension, but still places our individual growth in grace in the context of the body of Christ. The Scriptures call us to be intimately connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our fellowship is an essential ingredient for lasting change. The work of redemption involves our individual relationship with Christ alongside our relationship with others.
God’s plan for our redemption is not merely to reconcile us to Himself, but to point us to those who share this reconciliation, the church. In Christ, Christians become part of a new family. Like bricks go together to make up a wall, Christians go together to make up a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:20-22). They are like parts of a body, inextricably connected, each part doing its part (1 Corinthians 12:12-20). This is how Christians grow—they grow together (Ephesians 4:16). As Tripp and Lane say, “change is a community project.”
It should be no surprise, then, that the majority of the New Testament’s commandments assume a corporate context. For example, roughly 50 times the New Testament tells Christians to do something one to another. We sometimes refer to these as the one-anothers—e.g., love one another, serve one another, pray for one another, stir up one another, encourage one another, sing to one another, etc. Such commands simply cannot be done alone. We need partners. We need a partnership—which is really what “fellowship” is.
These one-anothers are not mere friendships, kind acts, and kind words. Just as Christ must be the foundation, so the Scripture must be the “stuff” of these relationships. The Bible is the basis and content for encouraging one another, loving one another, teaching one another, etc.
It’s a bit of a made up word, but, in short, we’re to be “One-Anothering the Word” in the church.
To that end, we Christians meet regularly for worship and teaching; we read the Scriptures and pray, alone and in our families; we read good books and recommend them to others; we keep working at these relationships and our ministry to each other. And sometimes we steal away a few days to meet up with other churches for more intensive and focused teaching from some superbly gifted and experienced teachers. We call that a conference. There are many good ones these days. But maybe you live in Albuquerque; or maybe you’re just a day’s drive away; or maybe you’re just a flight away; or maybe this theme is simply of particular interest to you. We hope it is.
We hope you’ll join us Friday-Sunday, March 8-10, 2013, with Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane and hundreds of other Christians, for a weekend of singing, fellowship, and excellent teaching on this needed topic of “One-Anothering the Word.”
At new Clarus site, you’ll find an explanation of our intention through this conference, links to audio from past conferences, and registration for Clarus ’13. Put it on your calendar and plan to join us!