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White Horse Inn: The Radical Reformation

On this program, the hosts continue their discussion which began last week on the influence of the Radical Reformation. How did the theology of the Anabaptist and Pietist movements end up influencing so many forms of Protestantism, both here in America and around the world? And more specifically, how did these views shape the founders of the Enlightenment and help create what we know today as Protestant Liberalism? Join us on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Christianity & LiberalismHost Quote:

“We are continuing our discussion of the impact of the other reformation we hardly ever talk about, the Radical Reformation, on liberal Protestantism. Radicalism didn’t come from the Reformation. It’s often called the ‘leftwing reformation’ but it actually came from the late Middle Ages. A movement that came to be known as radical Anabaptism was millennial and utopian, expecting a radical age of the Spirit that would wash away all history and tradition and all external authority.

“This radical impulse has been part of Protestantism down to the present day. And if you look at Protestant Liberalism today, it looks very similar to this radical Anabaptist movement, as do many evangelical movements. And so, in a really profound way, even though evangelicals and liberals are at each other’s throats, they are more engaged in a sibling rivalry than they are successors of Luther and Calvin. In this program, we want to look at the ongoing influence of this radical element in Protestantism that is totally different from the 16th century Reformation led by Martin Luther and other reformers.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Liberalism”

In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called “liberalism.”

This movement is so various in its manifestations that one may almost despair of finding any common name which will apply to all its forms. But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism—that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity. (Adapted from J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The Radical Reformation

According to a recent Pew study, 53% of American Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation, and fewer than 30% of white Evangelicals were unable to identify Protestantism as the faith which embraces the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

On this program, the hosts will attempt to show that contemporary Christians, whether liberal or conservative, have more in common with the theology of the Anabaptist reformers than they do with the views of Luther and Calvin expressed in the great Reformation solas. Join us as we continue to think about the Reformation on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“Much of the hoopla surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year has been, well, let’s just say, blather.  At a joint service in Lund, Sweden, on October 31st, 2016, Pope Francis and the president of the World Lutheran Federation exchanged warm feelings. Reverend Martin Junge, general secretary of the mainline Lutheran body said in a press release from the joint service, ‘I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we’re working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn by conflict and violence.’  Clearly, the focus wasn’t on truth.

“Acknowledging Luther’s positive contributions, the Pope spoke of how important Christian unity is to bring healing and reconciliation to a world divided by violence.  But he added, ‘We have no intention of correcting what took place, but to tell that history differently.’ Perhaps the most evident example of missing the point is the statement by Swiss Pastor and President of an ecumenical church convention in Berlin last year, Christina Aus der Au.  She said, ‘Reformation means courageously seeking what is new and turning away from old familiar customs.’ That’s what the reformation was all about, why average lay people and archbishops gave their bodies to be burned and the western church was divided – a lot people just got really tired of the same old thing.

“The Wall Street Journal reports a Pew study showing that 53 percent of U.S. Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation.  Oddly, Jews, atheists and Mormons were more familiar with Luther than Protestants. In fact, fewer than three in ten white evangelicals correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that believes in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Three in ten. Many today who claim the Reformation as their heritage are more likely heirs of the radical Anabaptists.  It might sound crazy, but here is my thesis. The Reformation isn’t over because it hasn’t begun in America. Protestantism is definitely over and the radicals won.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Inner Light”

The “Inner Light,” also called “Inward Light,” is often thought to be a distinctive theme of the Society of Friends (Quakers). This Inner Light is understood to be a direct awareness of God that allows a person to know God’s will for him or her. This expression is often attributed to the teachings of George Fox in the 17th century, founder of the Society of Friends, who had failed to find spiritual truth in the English churches. He experienced an inner light and voice within, “that of God in every man.” The Inner Light should not simply be a mystical experience, but should also result in a person’s working for the good of others.

The practice of Inner Light is believed to be the direct path of ascension towards the divine nature within man. The theme of Inner Light appears in various spiritual traditions as well as in the main religions of the world. Buddhism believes that the one experiences the highest nature of the mind, reaches enlightenment and liberation from the Wheel of Samsara (i.e. bodily existence).

The Society of Friends was influenced by a pivotal figure, Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), a German mystic who was raised in Lutheranism. Böhme had considerable influence on Pietism and various mystical sects including Rosicrucianism and theosophy. Böhme sought a melding of various alchemical and Kabbalistic traditions that focused on the inner path to God, which finds parallels with the ancient heresy known as Gnosticism.  Böhme was also an important source for German Romantic philosophy, influencing F.W. Schelling. Böhme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist, and mystic William Blake. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was profoundly influenced by him as well. The tradition of the Inner Light reaches back into ancient mystical philosophies which have come to profoundly shape modern thinking. (Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Inner Light;” “Jakob Böhme”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Solus Christus – Christ Alone

Many Christians in our day, whether liberal or evangelical, declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, according to one survey by George Barna, 35% of America’s evangelical seminary students agreed with the statement, “God will save all good people when they die, regardless of whether they’ve trusted in Christ.”

On this program the hosts will discuss our need to recover the clear theology of a text such as John 14:6 in which Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Join us on this edition of White Horse Inn, as we continue our new series on “The Solas of the Reformation.”

Host Quote:

“Why do we need a divine savior to rescue us if our situation is only that we kind of are losing our way? A lot of people think of it as, we need good directions and there are really good plans out there. There’s Oprah. There is yoga. There’s the Bible. There’s Christian Science. You have all these kinds of things out there and whatever you find that’s helpful for you is great. That assumes — first of all, you have absolutely no problem before God. Your problem is only with yourself. Not that God has a problem with you, but that you have issues that you need to work on. So, you don’t really need God to save you, first of all, from himself, from his own justice by being just and the justifier of the wicked. All you need is kind of a life coach. You need somebody who kind of has some good ideas. And that is where we are today as the church. But what we really need is Christ’s atoning work, his substitutionary, vicarious sacrifice.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Therapeutic Spirituality”

Today’s spirituality is novel in the sense that it is based upon a person’s felt needs, as opposed to an authoritative person or text. Self-expression has become the new form of worship in both traditional and innovative religious practices, rather than a practice of self-denial. This spirituality adopts preference as a means of self-actualization (i.e. a way of becoming the fullest expression of yourself as a human being). The commitments to these preferences are deeply personal and subjective, which results in the expression, “Your own personal Jesus” who neither confronts with his transcendent ‘Otherness’ nor deals in categories of sin, hell, or judgment. Therapy as a model of spirituality has replaced traditional norms due to the secularization of culture (i.e., the cultural shift that has resulted in religious beliefs becoming wholly individualized and disassociated from the social sphere).  Divine Providence over mankind has been replaced by the invisible hand of economic forces. Whereas the Almighty beneficent being was previously seen as integral to daily life and well-being, today, he is seen as a cosmic bellhop who comes at our beck and call.

With the loss of life’s ‘center’ by these competing visions of reality, faith has been left only with an interior and subjective expression which allows ‘believers’ to cope with the ‘real world’ science and technology have given them. In the face of this modern nihilism (i.e., the belief that there is no true reality beyond that which is apprehended through the senses), religion has often attempted to fill the vacuum through such therapeutic modes of expression. Even in traditional, conservative contexts orthodox worship and practice may succumb to this mode of spirituality, ultimately leaving little effect upon the practice of the worshipper or in the public square at large. Concrete, external liturgical practices (such as the reading of the law, corporate confession, a declaration of pardon, and corporate supplication) are often displaced by personalized small groups that help believers in their life journey. This is deemed as more ‘relevant’ to the therapeutic man, and an improvement upon the ‘dead rituals’ that don’t speak to the hearts of worshippers. Worship thus becomes a therapy ‘session’ something akin to Alcoholics Anonymous, a place where kindred spirits can hear one another’s stories and help one another cope with their weaknesses and failures, rather than a place of divine judgment and salvation where sinful people meet with a holy God, and through faith in their Savior, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are forgiven for their rebellion, and comforted by the assurance of their salvation. (Timothy W. Massaro, “Therapeutic Spirituality,” WHI [blog], August 10, 2014)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Scripture Alone

As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, today’s Protestants actually have little to be proud of as we survey the movement as a whole. The content of our messages and the shape of our worship services are largely determined by cultural preferences, marketing strategies, and crowd-pleasing techniques from the entertainment industry, rather than by Scripture.Scripture Alone

At the end of the day, what we’re left with is a kind of narcissistic spirituality that caters to the desires and felt needs of the masses, rather than a transcendent word that confronts, challenges, and rescues fallen sinners. We’re beginning a new series on “The Solas of the Reformation on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“Before we Protestants congratulate ourselves for being on the right side of history, we need to admit right up front that there is very little today to be proud of as we look at the movement as a whole. More often than not, we’re just as likely as medieval Roman Catholics to listen to authorities other than Scripture. The content of a typical sermon or the shape of a typical worship service is often determined not by Scripture, but by cultural preferences, marketing strategies, and by crowd-pleasing techniques we’ve gotten from the entertainment industry more than the Word of God.

“At the end of the day, what we’re left with is a kind of narcissistic spirituality that caters to the desires and felt needs of the masses, rather than a transcendent Word that confronts, challenges, and rescues fallen sinners – that word, as Martin Luther said famously, is above all earthly powers.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Protestantism”

“Protestantism” generally covers the range of Christian churches that owe their origins, directly or indirectly, to the Reformation of the sixteenth century. At the second Diet of Speyer (1529) the representatives of the Reformers “protested” in favor of the liberty of individuals to choose their own religion according to their conscience. Their opponents described them as “Protestants,” while they preferred to call themselves “evangelicals.” Despite its numerous components and its pluralism, Protestantism may be characterized by reference to certain widely shared convictions. Priority is given to salvation and to justification by faith alone. Believers are justified before God not by their works or their merit, but by grace alone. The Bible provides the exclusive standard for the Christian life and derives its meaning from its central figure, Jesus Christ, the sole mediator between God and human beings. Faith consists not in acceptance of a doctrine, but in a living and personal relationship with God. The church is a community of believers who have committed themselves to listening to the word of God and to celebrating the sacraments together. Only baptism and the Lord’s Supper are recognized as sacraments, since they were established by Jesus Christ himself. (Adapted from Encyclopedia of Christian Theology s.v. “Protestantism.”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Has the Bible Been Miscopied or Mistranslated?

Many people today make the claim that the Bible has been revised, edited, and miscopied over the centuries, and that the translations we have with us today are not at all faithful to the original manuscripts. But is this really the case?

Has the Bible Been Miscopied or Mistranslated?On this program, Michael Horton discusses this important issue with New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace, editor of Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament and contributor to The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Guest Quote:

“Multiple translations don’t make a text more or less reliable. But it’s interesting that there’s kind of an underlying assumption when people make that statement and it feels something like this: well, the Bible has been translated and once it got translated, people have revised the translation without going back to look at those early manuscripts. And so, I thought that when I was in junior high school but I got past that relatively early. The reality is that the King James Bible, when it was translated in 1611, it was essentially based on the New Testament was essentially based on seven Greek New Testament manuscripts, the earliest of which went back to the 11th century. We still have those manuscripts and we have almost 6,000 more manuscripts. So, we have almost a thousand times as many manuscripts as the King James New Testament was based on and our earliest don’t go back to the 11th century but so far as what’s been published, they go back to the second century. So they go back almost a thousand years earlier. So as time goes on, we’re not actually getting farther and farther away from the original text, we’re getting closer and closer.” – Daniel Wallace

Term to Learn:

“Apostolic Inspiration”

The operation of the Holy Spirit after the day of Pentecost differed from that which the prophets in their official capacity enjoyed. The Holy Spirit came upon the prophets as a supernatural power and worked upon them from without. His action on them was frequently repeated but was not continuous. The distinction between His activity and the mental activity of the prophets themselves was made to stand out rather clearly. On the day of Pentecost, however, He took up His abode in the hearts of the apostles and began to work upon them from within. Since He made their hearts His permanent abode, His action on them was no more intermittent but continuous, but even in their case the supernatural work of inspiration was limited to those occasions on which they served as organs of revelation. But because of the more inward character of all the Spirit’s work, the distinction between His ordinary and His extraordinary work was not so perceptible. The supernatural does not stand out as clearly in the case of the apostles as it did in the case of the prophets. Notwithstanding this fact, however, the New Testament contains several significant indications of the fact that the apostles were inspired in their positive oral teachings. Christ solemnly promised them the Holy Spirit in their teaching and preaching (Matt. 10:19, 20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11, 12; 21:14, 15; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). In the Acts of the Apostles we are told repeatedly that they taught “being full of,” or “filled with” the Holy Spirit. Moreover, it appears from the Epistles that in teaching the churches they conceived of their word as being in very deed the word of God, and therefore as authoritative (1 Cor. 2:4, 13; 1 Thess. 2:13). (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 148)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Do I Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian?

Many Christians in our time seem to think that church attendance is optional, particularly in an age like ours with so many online options. But is this a healthy outlook? Is it even biblical? On this program, the hosts discuss this question and offer numerous reasons why it is not only important but also crucial for Christians to be under the care and supervision of pastors, teachers, and elders at a properly-ordered church. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Do I Have To Go To ChurchHost Quote:

“Do I have to go to church to be a Christian? We’re used to hearing the contrast between a personal relationship with Jesus versus going to church or joining a church. We are familiar with evangelistic presentations where that’s actually said. ‘I’m not inviting you to join a church, but to have personal relationship with Jesus.’

“The thing that we need to think about here is about the role of the church in God’s plan for creation, redemption, and eternity. The Father chose each of us to be part of the church. That is Christ’s bride and body. To be united to Christ is to be united to his church. First of all, the church is the heart of God’s plan from before time. Secondly, Christ gave his life for his church. Thirdly, the Spirit unites us to Christ, the head, and therefore to his body. You can’t be united to Christ without also being united to his visible church. Fourthly, Christ delivers himself to sinners now by the ministry of the church. We never leave that ministry until we die. And then finally, the church is the everlasting society of God, our forever family. The church never goes away.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Of the Catholic (Universal) Church”

We believe and profess one catholic or universal Church, which is a holy congregation of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by His blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Church has been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this that Christ is an eternal King, which without subjects He cannot be. And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God against the rage of the whole world; though it sometimes for a while appears very small, and in the eyes of men to be reduced to nothing; as during the perilous reign of Ahab the Lord reserved unto Him seven thousand men who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same Spirit. (The Belgic Confession, Article 27)

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Is Trying to Be Good, Good Enough?Imagine a person standing in a courtroom and pleading before the judge, “I’m sorry, Your Honor, I tried not to steal that car!” If this wouldn’t work with a civil magistrate, why do we think it would work before the judge of all the earth? On this program, the hosts discuss what it means to be good from the perspective of God’s infinitely holy standard, and the solution that God provides in light of our inability to live up to that standard. Our hosts discuss this and much more on this episode of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“We need to think not merely about justice here on earth and how we look to each other but to the ultimate justice before God. That is, our laws are reflections of ultimate right and wrong. Apart from that kind of an ultimate standard, we can only say things like, ‘I don’t like genocide.’ If good and evil don’t exist, there’s only subjective opinion. According to Christianity, however, God is the ultimate standard and we, as his image bearers, reflect that standard. The God of Scripture describes himself as the judge of all the earth who is infinitely holy, righteous, and good. So, is trying hard to be good, good enough for God?” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Therapeutic Culture”

The move to the therapeutic in society has been induced by several cultural developments. The intense psychologization of men’s attitudes and feelings as the primary subconscious level of “who we are,” the altering definitions of justice as primarily the accommodation of society to remove all barriers from self-expression and empowering fulfillment of the self, and the movement to the individual subject as the arbiter of that freedom to happiness apart from external structures and forces. The good life of justice, freedom, happiness have been internalized to such a degree that boredom and the external forces which upset that interior life are now seen as the greatest of evils. Justice has been re-defined in the last century as the removal of external barriers and the material empowerment of the individual towards the good life perceived to be desirable.

Men’s attitudes and feelings have come to arbitrate justice and goodness in the late modern society. Safety and security have been held out as the primary good of Western culture above what previous generations saw as essential to promoting the good life, namely liberty, self-reliance, and responsibility. Conventional ideals of moral responsibility have gradually become subordinated to state interpreted therapeutic ideals. “Modern culture is unique in having given birth to such elaborately argued anti-religions, all aiming to confirm us in our devastating illusions of individuality and freedom,” writes Philip Rieff in his magisterial, The Triumph of the Therapeutic.

Jacques Ellul argued in the mid-century that whenever a culture’s ethical outlook could not keep a pace with its technological developments, propaganda was the fated result – the subconscious alteration of men’s attitudes and feelings through technological means of domination. Modern cultural production has moved into the business and technique of manipulating a sense of well-being under what Jürgen Habermas has called a “therapeutocracy.” (Timothy W. Massaro, “Therapeutic Culture,” WHI [blog], October 05, 2015)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Do All Paths Lead to God?

Do All Paths Lead to God?Religious pluralism seems to be the only perspective that is tolerated in today’s culture, while those who are “trapped” within the confines of a single religious outlook are dismissed as narrow and sectarian. But if you think about it, those who promote this alternative dogma that “all paths lead to God” are also making an exclusive truth claim, since they end up excluding the opposite view that only one religious path leads to God. The hosts will discuss this contemporary outlook and contrast it with the exclusive claims that Jesus made about himself on this episode of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“When people say that basically Christianity is, ‘I’m a Christian because it gives me a moral set of guidelines, it gives me a sense of meaning and wholeness and ethical purity and so forth,’ what you’re saying to that other person is ‘I’m better than you. I have a deeper sense of meaning and purpose than you have. I live a better life than you do because I have better moral principles.’

“When people lodge their ‘argument’ in that which is not an argument, that’s actually arrogant. Versus saying, ‘Look, I’m not coming to you telling you my religion can beat up your religion. I’m presenting these arguments and I hope that they persuade you. Let us both submit to reality.’ We’re not saying we’re better than you.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Pluralism vs. Inclusivism vs. Exclusivism”

Pluralism: All religions lead to heaven. Inclusivism: Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, but you don’t have to hear that Gospel and believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved by him.

Exclusivism: There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ (see John 14:6; Acts 4:12). (Michael Horton, White Horse Inn #1035— “Is Faith in Christ Necessary?”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

 

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Addressing Popular Misconceptions of Faith

Addressing Popular Misconceptions of FaithOn this program, the hosts interact with a number of man-on-the-street interviews concerning the nature and meaning of faith. As they have discussed throughout this series, faith is often seen as a kind of leap in the dark. According to the surveys we’ll air on this program, this belief seems to be held by Christian and non-Christian alike.

The Christian misunderstanding of faith appears to be rooted in an often-misinterpreted passage from Hebrews chapter 11, so the hosts also spend some time explaining in what sense “faith is the essence of things unseen.” Join us as we continue our series, What is Faith?, on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“So, the assumption for most people is that when religious people go to church, mosque, synagogue, whatever, they are switching their furniture from the intellect to the emotions. Basically, they’re switching it from knowledge to opinion. They’re otherwise using their commonsense and their reason and appealing to evidence and relying on their senses and so forth in their everyday lives and evaluating other claims. But when it comes to religion, they switch off their minds and go to autopilot, just sort of flying by the seat of their heart as it were.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

Faith”

Q. 21 What is true faith? A. True faith is not only a certain knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word; but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. (The Heidelberg Catechism)

The Reformers were unanimous and explicit in teaching that justifying faith does not justify by any meritorious or inherent efficacy of its own, but only as the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ. They regarded this faith primarily as a gift of God and only secondarily as an activity of man in dependence on God. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 497)

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Martin Luther on Vocation with Michael Horton

On today’s episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Drs. Stephen Nichols and Michael Horton discuss Martin Luther’s recovery of the doctrine of vocation.

Stephen Nichols (SN): Recently we had our good friend Dr. Michael Horton here. I had left him on a deserted island. He’s tanned, rested, and he’s back, and we have him again. Dr. Horton, good to have you back.

Michael Horton (MH): Thank you, Steve. Great to be back.

SN: Did you enjoy your time?

MH: It was restful. Amazingly restful for five minutes.

SN: Well, I’m going to put you back to work for another five minutes. You recently joined us at the Ligonier National Conference, which, of course, focused on the Reformation, and you spoke on the doctrine of vocation. Now, when we think of Martin Luther, we think of thesolas, we think of the authority of Scripture, we think of the necessity of justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. But one of the crucial doctrines of Luther is vocation. Could you expand on that a little for us?

Martin Luther on Vocation with Michael Horton

Image: David Schrock

MH: You know, a lot of people think of justification as the material principle of the Reformation, with Scripture alone as the formal principle, but one historian has said, actually, that in terms of the greatest impact on the culture, it was the doctrine of vocation that made the biggest difference long term. And you can sort of see why because people who aren’t Christians, who aren’t going to church, who aren’t hearing the gospel proclaimed week after week, have still been touched by Christians who are. And there were so many Christians who were revolutionized by the gospel that it changed their whole outlook on Monday morning. Were they just happier because they understood they were justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? That’s part of it. But there was more to it. They had categories for thinking about Monday through Friday. They weren’t just working for the weekend. They had a transcendent view of things. R.C. Sproul has been saying for years, “Right now counts forever,” and they had a real sense of that. Even when a milkmaid is milking a cow, Luther said, she is glorifying God just as much as a preacher in a pulpit preaching a sermon.

SN: So, this is one of the things Luther helped us with. He recovered the word vocation, which, by the time of Luther, really was applied only to the priests.

MH: Ordained ministry, yeah.

SN: To the monks, the nuns, who had given their life to the church. Everyone else was just putting in time. So, Luther comes along and calls these ordinary roles—fathers or sons or daughters or wives—a calling, and our work is a calling.

MH: You sometimes hear in Christian circles that someone received a call. But really, everyone is called. Even non-Christians. That is another revolutionary thing about it. The Reformers believed that Scripture taught that everyone is called. Even people who don’t believe in God receive a calling because they are created in the image of God, and in His common grace God actually causes non-Christians to serve Christians even. You don’t have to buy Christian milk . . .

SN: From a Christian cow . . .

MH: From a Christian cow with “John 3:16” on the cup. Our vocation is one of those things that we share with everyone around us. When I am loving and serving my neighbors, when I am changing diapers, when I’m cleaning the car, all of these things are callings. And we don’t have just one; we have a bunch of callings, Luther said. And it really makes a big difference. And the gospel wasn’t just, “Let’s all go to work with a greater sense of the grandeur of what we are doing,” but really a sense of, “You have no one to pacify anymore.” Everyone was so anxious and spent all their energy, if they cared about it at all, on climbing their way to heaven. Well, we don’t have to. God has climbed down to us. Now what do we do? We love and serve Him by loving and serving our neighbors. And I love Luther’s line: “God doesn’t need our good works; our neighbors do.” God doesn’t need them, we don’t need them, but our neighbors do.

SN
: Thank you, Dr. Horton, and thank you for reminding us of another piece of the great legacy of the Reformation—vocation.

MH: Thank you, Dr. Nichols. Great to be with you.

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