The Unfinished Reformation

Is the Reformation over? This question is going to be asked over and over again as we approach 2017 and, with it, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It is the question Gregg Allison and Chris Castaldo face in the title of their new book, The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants After 500 Years. The book began as a search for clarity. A friend had asked Castaldo for a book that surveys the commonalities and …

Letters to the Editor #22 (Catholicism, Ad Blockers, Plodding)

This week I received an unusual number of letters to the editor, most of them dedicated to two topics: Catholicism and ad-blockers. In both cases there were many who agreed with me and many who did not. And in every case I am grateful to those who wrote. I genuinely enjoy receiving these letters to the editor. Comments on Why I Am Not Roman Catholic As a practicing Roman Catholic I would be first to say that yes, Catholicism has …

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Why You Should Not Wear a Crucifix

Crucifixes have long been a fixture in Roman Catholic worship. But in the past few years I have begun to see more and more Protestants wearing them as well, exchanging their empty cross for one that contains an image of the suffering Savior. J.I. Packer once addressed the issue of the crucifix, and addressed it well. What harm is there, we ask, in the worshipper surrounding himself with statues and pictures, if they help him to lift his heart to …

The People’s Pope, The Man of the Year

Once there was a boy so meek and modest, he was awarded a Most Humble badge. The next day, it was taken away because he wore it. Here endeth the lesson.” And here endeth the opening quote from TIME’s story to announce Pope Francis as the Person of the Year for 2013. Nancy Gibbs continues: How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention …

The Humble Pope

If you know anything at all about the new Pope, Pope Francis, you must know this: he is the humble Pope. From the day of his election he has been widely praised for his humility. A recent article from The Washington Post is representative, lauding him for his humble deeds. Over the past two weeks, with one act of humility after another, Pope Francis has proven he’s willing to break with tradition. Just after being named the new pontiff, he asked …

The Essential: Salvation

This is the 20th installment in a series on common theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, Fall, common grace, sin, righteousness, faith, pride, election, revelation, atonement, adoption, sanctification, incarnation, idolatry, the church, and holiness. In the 9th sermon of John Piper’s epic series on the book of Romans he comes to Romans 1:16 (9 sermons and he’s only 16 verses in!), and tackles the question, “What is salvation?” The text is one you know well, …

Apostasy and Heresy

The Banner of Truth web site features a host of useful articles (1302 at last count). One that I’ve found worth reading and bookmarking is entitled simply “Apostasy.” In the article the author, David Samuel, makes a distinction between two terms that many people mistakenly use synonymously – apostasy and heresy. Apostasy he defines as a rejection of truth that a person once believed. Hence I would be apostate if I were to suddenly reject the doctrine of the Trinity, …

The Appeal of Roman Catholicism

Over the weekend a member of a mailing list I subscribe to asked an interesting question. Reflecting both on some of the highly-publicized “defections” of former Protestants to Roman Catholicism and some he has witnessed personally he asked “What is the appeal of Roman Catholicism?” I have sometimes wondered the same. Why is it that many Protestants eventually convert to Catholicism? To put things in context, my experience shows that a far greater number of Roman Catholics become Protestants than …

Seminar 1 – Phil Johnson – Is The Reformation Over?

It has become quickly apparent that this conference exists not merely to equip pastors, but also to serve and honor them (and perhaps even spoil them a little). At the close of the earlier session one of the organizers announced that there was an area for “shoe-shining and everything else a pastor needs.” I don’t know too many pastors that need to have their shoes shined (or who need to travel to Los Angeles to have them shined, at any …

A Short History of Marian Devotion

Christianity Today has an interesting article entitled “Hail Mary” which traces the history of Marian devotion. It is quite short and makes for an interesting read. Here are the first few paragraphs: Mary responded in obedience. She called herself the Lord’s “handmaiden” (Luke 1:38, 48)—a humble title that set the tone for the rest of the New Testament accounts and became the foundation for centuries of Marian devotion. Mary recognized that she had become, like Enoch (Gen. 5:22) and Noah …