For those that do not know me. My name is Jon. I have been part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), Christian Reformed Church, and now The Evangelical Church. As you can see I have a large emphasis on the “essence” of Martin Luther on my BLOG.
About 15 years ago my LCMS Pastor did a study on differences between denominations. He contrasted Calvinistic and Arminian Churches. I spent multiple years contrasting the two. I actually read down the Arminian side of things as if it was true realizing if I came in with a slant as if its not true then I would not be giving it a fair shake. This took me several yaers to complete as I read Arminian authors and Calvinistic authors and compared. I actually learned great respect for both sides… realizing they really are not all that different in many regards but they definitely do have different starting points.
After going round and round on the arguments for and against calvinism and arminianism and comparing the bible passages each side used to present their defense of their truth, my LCMS Pastor, Jim H., asked me to separately contrast the Lutheran stance because it is different from the other two. Now, if you are aware of the ELCA issues today, you will probably not give me much credit. Believe me the “essence” of Martin Luther 500 years ago is very different from the ELCA today.
Through this multi year effort of contrasting Calvinism and Arminianism I actually became more Lutheresque than I ever was before. I do not consider myself Lutheran anymore but I do consider myself very Lutheresque. Why? Because Martin Luther kept Christ and the Cross central to his thinkology; whereas if you contrast Martin Luther with many denominations today they seem to have just a high opinion of the Cross but yet it is not central to their thinkology and the cross is not central to how they interpret scripture. Many reading this would say “My CHurch holds the cross central” but in my opinion most Churches hold a high opinion of the Cross but few keep Jesus and Cross central to their “thinkology”. That is why this BLOG is called centrality of the Gospel — to keep Christ and the Cross central to my thinkology.
Jesus and the Cross are not just another truth amongst a great number of other truths in the Bible. Jesus is the truth and the righteousness (Rom 1:16-17),
Some today would say Martin Luther maintained a theology of the Cross. Whereas if you would contrast to the other reformer, John Calvin (was he really a reformer?) you would say John Calvin has a theology of Glory centered around Gods sovereignty. I have great respect for both sides of this discussion but my core is a Luthersque theology of the Cross and keeping the Cross central to my thinkology.
Calvinism prides themselves in an educated “Systematic Theology”…. but what I have seen is that quite often calvinistic churches and churches that are trying to do Church with any kind of “system” quite often unknowingly make the system central to how they approach truth rather than keeping the the central truth of the gospel, cross, and Jesus in how they present themselves to a lost and hurting world. By being a little to the right or left of the Gospel means, as Paul said to Peter, that you are not living in line with the truth of the Gospel. (Galatians).
Today, there is being brought back by some a Lutheresque stance to the calvinistic Church. I am thankful for that and I think its long overdue. I love Tim Keller and his ministry as he does this. I also have high regards for Arminian Pastors who have a high Christology. To me this high Christology is how I choose a Church… because I dont want just a Church with a high opinion of the Cross but one that keeps it Central to how we think and how we do life until we get to heaven.
I hope that explains me a little more.