September 30, 2020

Chaplain Mike at Pastorum This Week

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I will be attending the 2012 Pastorum Live Conference in Chicago.

This conference is put on by the folks who produce Logos Bible software and features some of the finest Bible scholars in the world, including names you hear often here on Internet Monk, such as Scot McKnight, Peter Enns, and John Walton. (For a full list of speakers, click HERE.)

The focus of the conference will be on understanding the Big Story of the Bible and learning to grasp Scripture’s details in the light of God’s grand narrative.

I will be blogging at Internet Monk about the conference, including some interviews, and you can also follow comments throughout the days at:

  • Facebook. Just friend “Chaplain Mike” on FB and you’ll get my status updates throughout the conference.
  • Twitter. You can follow me @chaplainimonk.

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Other Things to Check Out This Week:

  • A Week of Mutuality at Rachel Held Evans’ blog. The purpose of the week, in her words — “I’m not aiming to spend much time arguing against complementarianism, but rather showing that egalitarianism is a tenable position for Christians, based on scripture, reason, tradition, etc.”
  • An amazing article by Rachel Adams, which argues that disability does not equal suffering, and that we should learn to alter the way we view and talk about people with conditions such as Down Syndrome.
  • In light of our Sunday posts on changing relations between Protestants and Catholics, I encourage you to look at Ed Kilgore’s recent piece in the New Republic, “The Widening Political Divide Between Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism.” Kilgore ponders “cross-cutting trends” such as the growing liturgical unity between Catholics and the mainlines, while at the same time political differences are increasingly dividing them and leading Catholics to cooperate with evangelicals who have abandoned historic liturgy. “All these cross-cutting trends and counter-trends in American (and global) Christianity call into question any glib arrangement of denominations, movements, or individuals as conservative or liberal, traditionalist or modernist.”


  1. I don’t recall giving you permission, C.M., to use that photo of me.

    But, all things being equal, I’ll let it slide.

    (at least they got my good side…)

  2. I can’t help but view Kilgore’s article as two very divergent phenomenon. I agree that liturgically and doctrinally the gap between Catholic and Protestant has been greatly reduced, largely because of protestants seeking to return to the historical roots of the faith – sort of a neo-Oxford movement. But the cultural war aspect is in my opinion anything but re-assuring. At one time, I was very interested in the Catholic church, but then I did what one InternetMonk blogger once warned against: I listened to EWTN, which was all cultural war, all the time. Honestly, I was left asking, “What’s the point? If there is no difference between Catholics and Protestants regarding regarding their ultimate concern – which appears to be political in nature, why bother learning more about the Catholic church? When Issues, Etc. in their infinite wisdom invited Mohler as a guest on their program to discuss cultural war stuff, I was left with the same resignation toward the LCMS.

    I honestly don’t think we will ever agree 100% on doctrinal issues, but that is ok by me. That doesn’t make doctrine any less important, or that we should toss out doctrine and find something else around which to rally and unite. I think our differences reveal how critical doctrine is and how complex and vast doctrine can be to understand. As one book on my shelf on the subject of “symphonic theology” describes, it takes many perspectives to truly grasp the many facets of truth and sound doctrine. That is why paleo-orthodoxy is very appealing to me.

    Reducing Christianity or ecumenism to politics is horrifying. The main reason is that Christians think that by uniting like this that they can control the political debate, but all that happens is that secularists like Beck and Rove can more easily pen up the entire herd. This has happened over and over throughout the course of history, and the church never seems to learn.

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one surprised to hear Mohler on Issues. However, keep in mind that they often have dissenting viewpoint from other traditions. Jefferts Schori and N.T. Wright have also been interviewed. Todd Wilken can be somewhat of an ecumenical host, and knows how to “join the conversation” without dodging the issue. I’m still pretty sure that though the LCMS leans pretty hard to the right on politics, it will not become dominated by the culture wars to the extent that the SBC is because of a difference in focus: Our tradition always drags our attention back to Christ, and not morality. The same can NOT be said of the SBC.

    • Issues etc. is not the LCMS mouthpiece (in fact, they took him off of their synod station!)

      The LCMS is conservative, for sure, but it is extremely careful not to mix the two kingdoms and makes few, if any, official pronouncements on politics or how to vote. It teaches the law on cultural issues because it comes up in daily life, but generally does not instruct on how society should be ordered. So if you ask an LCMS pastor, he’ll tell you homosexual sex is wrong, but he won’t tell you how to vote on a gay marriage amendment. That’s basic two kingdoms.

      Of course, some pastors are better than others. Look for the ones that have no US flag in the sanctuary.

      On the flip side, if the state tells the church it must sin, then the LCMS will engage, which is why the LCMS synod pres was on Capitol Hill with the Catholic bishops testifying against Obama’s mandate on churches to pay for abortifacients (and birth control) for church employees.

    • I think Mormon Beck would be surprised to hear himself described as a “secularist”…

  3. For me, I welcome the differences because we all should have the ability to choose a means of closeness to God that most strongly identifies with our own experience of him. The confusion lies in the acceptance that we ARE already one faith, in the same way that we are all human despite our skin color, hair, eye color, etc. Those differences of doctrine are merely skin deep and beneath that exterior, we already have one faith, one baptism, one forgiveness of sin. If we’d stop trying to change one another or work too hard for others to be wrong so that we can be “right”, then we could enjoy our differences as all different paints on the same canvas – making a portrait together of God’s Kingdom on earth.

  4. If we’d stop trying to change one another or work too hard for others to be wrong so that we can be “right”, then we could enjoy our differences as all different paints on the same canvas – making a portrait together of God’s Kingdom on earth.

    Like expecting Agent Smith to adopt a “live and let live” attitude and be satisfied with controlling only part of The Matrix. 😀

  5. Danielle says

    Kilgore’s article hit on the central dilemma I have faced figuring out where to place myself in the church landscape. As an adult, I have become significantly more mindful of tradition, and of older patterns of worship and spiritual development. I have also developed some sharp disagreements with the way that evangelicalism tends to approach certain controversial topics (such as sex and gender). These facts partly motivated my movement outside the evangelical movement (or at least it its periphery).

    It also made me a potentially serious candidate for conversion to Catholicism (I am significantly more ‘catholic’ now than I began) or traditionally-minded mainline Protestantism. I’ve ultimately embraced the latter because I still don’t line up on enough points of Catholic doctrine (I identify too strongly with Herr Luther). And my convictions on some hot-button social issues place me at variance with what I feel I’d be expected to avow as a devout Catholic. Only mainline Protestantism unreservedly provides freedom and space within which to be honest about my convictions (which, to my mind, one disavows only at distinct risk of lying or hiding things, which can lead to all sorts of mischief).

    Anyway, whatever you think of my particular decision, this personal anecdote is in line with what Kilgore argues—sufficiently history-minded and liturgically minded Protestants potentially have room for some productive with Rome. But ironically in current alignments, “the culture war” appear to be determining people’s affinities. It’s strikingly odd–not because the cultural issues do not matter (of course they do), but because far more central issues of doctrine and practice appear now to have been relegated to second fiddle. (Conservative rhetoric suggests that issues of Scriptural authority and traditional doctrine, etc. are under debate, but in point of fact, it’s not heterodoxy on points in the Nicene creed that has split historic denominations or angered bishops: it takes Scriptural debates + sex or women to do that.)

    If this has the roundabout effect of creating better ecumenical dialog between evangelicals and Catholics (and I think it has, to a point), then it’s a to some degree a positive development. But it will be a bit of a tragedy if people get political and cultural alignments confused with ecumenical dialog. Meanwhile, I’ll go on being perplexed.

    But praying the Hours does help with that problem… 🙂

  6. As a complimentarian I’m truly looking forward to Rachel’s perspectives this week.

  7. Keep on working, great job!