That post attracted quite a bit of attention at the time, from outside Lutheranism, especially. As a result, one commenter was prompted to ask concerning the differences between Lutheranism and her own Presbyterian church. So I wrote a followup article, entitled, Differences between Reformed and Lutheran Doctrines – a post that has remained popular since that time. I concluded it with the following sentence: Finally, if you’re interested in what confessional Reformed and Lutheran dialogue sounds like, a good radio program to listen to is The White Horse Inn Classic, a program in the weekly line-up of Pirate Christian Radio.
Today’s post features a recording of The White Horse Inn from May of 2012, entitled, Growing in Grace & Knowledge. The title of the broadcast was taken from St. Peter’s admonition to “Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pe. 3:18), admonition which is impossible to heed without deliberately engaging the intellect. But many Christians, including many Lutherans, have been taught to distrust the intellect – “Reason is the enemy of faith,” after all. Even though Luther meant by this the use of Reason over and against the clear teaching of Scripture, many, in my recent experience, choose to chuck reason entirely out the window rather than give it a foothold, and immediately resort to the accusation “But that’s reason,” when one of their cherished falsehoods is challenged by a thoughtful, Scripturally sound and persuasive argument. They forget that Luther more famously said
- Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures or evident reason... I am bound by the Scriptures... my conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God, and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience.”
(Schwiebert, E. (1950). Luther and His Times. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 504-505.)
“What have you to live for?” is supposed to be the question one is encouraged to consider, as he counts his blessings and in them finds the motivation to continue onward in life. But it is a question which cannot be sufficiently considered at all, apart from the more serious question, “What are you willing to die for?” It is only in this latter question that one is brought into direct contact with his conscience and fully engages his self-identity, as he is forced to grapple with Truth and Falsehood in their grandest conception, in their most objective and meaningful reality. For the true Christian, that identity is defined by his identity in Christ, baptized (Ga. 3:26-29) and redeemed (Ga. 3:11-14), standing, through faith alone, within the shelter of God’s Saving Grace (Ro. 5:1-2).
Grace. Knowledge. Growth. As the Church not only succumbs to post-Modernism, and other forms of Cultural Narcissism, but fully embraces worldly thinking, it is being denied a collective Christian conscience with the courage, confidence and capacity to identify, confront and repudiate the errors hurled at it by the world, and individual Christians are being robbed of the cultivated faculties necessary to adequately consider and react to the withering attacks of the world against Christ, the Church, and against them, individually. The following dialogue is filled, from start to finish, with keen insight into the state of the Western world today – not of the sort that is usually shoveled under the noses of Christians, and even confessional Lutherans; not of the sort encouraging Christians and their congregations to embrace worldly methods and perspectives “for the survival of the church”; but of a less common, disappearing sort, the sort of insight with the courage, confidence and capacity to identify, confront, and repudiate worldly seductions and faith-killing perspectives. Over the past generation or two, as confessional Lutherans have wantonly retreated from cultural significance, the conservative voices among the Reformed have consistently been a couple decades ahead of us, in their understanding of the state of the World today and in sounding the warnings. They identified post-Modernism as the danger it is, soon after it broke onto the scene, and have been sounding the sirens ever since. Some confessional Lutherans are only now beginning to awake to the danger. They rediscovered the Great Tradition of Classical Education – a Lutheran birthright, no less! – and have actively promoted it as a Christian antidote to the proliferation of what is more and more being revealed as not just irreligious but militantly anti-Christian pedagogy. Some confessional Lutherans, are only now realizing that their entire school systems may be invested in ideologies that militate against basic ideas necessary to holding and retaining Christian teaching with any fidelity – ideas like objective truth and ownership of knowledge – and instead promote an experiential collectivist ideology of knowledge that inculcates no personal responsibility for knowing anything in particular. I have found that conservative voices among the Reformed have consistently been far more helpful in identifying worldly threats to Christianity, and the following dialogue is no exception.
“Growing in Grace & Knowledge”
Dialogue participants: Dr. R.C. Sproul (PCA), Dr. Rod Rosenblatt (LCMS), Dr. Michael Horton (URNCA), Rev. Ken Jones (Glendale Missionary Baptist Church) and Dr. Kim Riddlebarger (URCNA)
And here are a couple examples. He says, “A University of Michigan professor says, ‘I can’t read War and Peace anymore. I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.’” Another person, “‘I don’t read books,’ says Joe O’Shay, a former president of the student body at Florida State University, and a 2008 recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, ‘I go to Google and I can absorb all that information quickly.’ O’Shay, a philosophy major, doesn’t see any reason to plough through chapters of text when it takes but a minute or two to cherry pick the pertinent passages using Google. ‘Sitting down and going through a book, cover to cover, doesn’t make much sense to me,’ he says, ‘It’s just not a good use of my time. And I can get all the information I need faster through the web.’.”