But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

1517 The Legacy Project - Apologetic Report

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With so many others, I once thought that e-books were the future. Imagine owning something that moth and worm cannot touch, and thieves cannot steal! But a decade or so on, and I find myself reaching for the real thing.

Hardcover. Softcover. I’ll take either.

Ornate. Cheap. I love them both.

Bran...

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Thursday, 22 June 2017 04:09

A Better Altar Call

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I still remember visiting a friend’s church. A fine church, I suppose. Bible based they kept telling me. It’s the very word of God, the preacher proclaimed. Some music pumped us up. Some were crying and raising their hands. Nothing wrong with that.

Then something strange happened. A...

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017 04:32

The Promised Future

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On a recent Sunday in my congregation, it was The End Of The World as we know it (REM).  Well, okay, it wasn’t the actual end of time, nor did Jesus return bodily. But, we did have a glimpse into the last day for a young boy who was baptized. We actually heard the final verdict of his...

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017 04:54

Full to Bursting

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When a plant doesn’t bear fruit, we don’t blame the seed. Instead, we acknowledge that the plant refuses to do what the seed had in mind for it. The plant is missing it’s full fruitfulness. It’s missing, in the deepest sense, it’s own life. It goes this way with us...

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Monday, 19 June 2017 02:42

Meeting Melanchthon: A Man of Trouble

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The First Missteps:

Melanchthon was the consummate tinkerer and was never completely satisfied with anything he authored. Directly after the presentation of the Augsburg Confession and the publication of the Apology, Melanchthon began to make changes to the Augsburg...

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We All Love a Good Controversy

The late 1520s brought controversy to the budding Lutherans and Melanchthon. Among them was what would come to be known as the Antinomian Controversy. Johan Agricola, a colleague and preacher, had begun to argue that the Law no longer needed to be preached to...

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Friday, 16 June 2017 06:08

Mind The Gap Between Dreams and Reality

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They didn’t say anything about this in the books, I thought, as the snow blew in through the gaping doorway and settled on my naked back. I lay face down on the cobbled floor in a pool of nameless muck, my arm deep inside the straining cow, my feet scrabbling for a toe hold between the...

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By Order of the Emperor

To develop a united front against the Turks, Emperor Charles V decreed that an imperial diet would convene at Augsburg to deal with the “evangelical problem,” among other things. The emperor announced that the diet would convene on April 8, 1530.

Prior to the diet,...

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A long while back—see here, here, and here—I started a series on the classic positions given by theologian/philosopher Ian Barbour (d. 2013) regarding the relationship between science and theology. I never finished. Today I bring closure to that series of posts by discussing the...

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017 03:00

When God Becomes A Tropical Fish

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Men, alienated from their God, behave violently. What is the value of money, beauty, and status if we believers are disconnected from deity? Why struggle to achieve happiness while we go unacknowledged by divinity? Why risk dying in service to a godly calling when we’re disconnected from the...

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Monday, 12 June 2017 02:45

Fathers, Don’t Let Them Die

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While the disciples thought them a distraction, Jesus set the disciples straight about how little children centrally focus what is required to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:14). Then also, from the Lord’s perspective, new-born babes are not cute. They are enemies of God, slaves to sin,...

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Sunday, 11 June 2017 04:26

Meeting Melanchthon: Work, Work, Work

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Early Days at Wittenberg

Contrary to popular opinion, Melanchthon never served as a parish pastor. Unlike Luther, he was not known as a preacher. But as John Schofield points out in his work Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation, his 1519 Bachelor of Divinity degree earned at...

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Friday, 09 June 2017 06:27

Out of Our Minds Yet Safely in His

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“Pastor, they told me not to cry!” Helen cried frantically when I answered the phone.  “There are six bibles on my night stand, can you pick them up?” She screamed for a moment, bellowed loudly and incoherently as if she was fighting off a stranger in her room. I told...

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Wednesday, 07 June 2017 02:36

Melanchthon’s Magnum Opus

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Luther Under the Ban Melanchthon Hard at Work

In 1521—the same year Melanchthon married his wife—at the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther was convicted of heresy and placed under a Papal bull and an imperial ban. The ban meant that he was an outlaw and could be killed or imprisoned on sight....

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Tuesday, 06 June 2017 04:12

Jesu, Joy of the Forsaken

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When Christianity turns from being all about Jesus and instead becomes all about ordering, numbering, controlling, and putting boundaries around people, it becomes just another religion. It becomes the same religion that crucified Savior Jesus. Christianity becomes a religion of guilt that...

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Monday, 05 June 2017 05:08

Sin Boldly?

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A guest post by Pastor Erick Sorensen.Originally posted on the Christ Hold Fast blog, used with permission.

“Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?”...

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Happy Himmelfahrt Day! Himmelfahrt is German for Ascension Day, which we celebrated last Sunday, May 28. Forty days after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ ascension lasts one verse: While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried...

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Thursday, 01 June 2017 04:05

The Shanty Christ Across the Tracks

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Years ago I attended a big, splashy wedding that was rumored to set the bride’s father back tens of thousands of dollars. Five years down the road the once inseparable, smiling couple sat twenty feet apart, stone-faced, in divorce court.

The size and cost of a wedding, of course, doesn’t...

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017 02:18

Meeting Melanchthon: The Early Years

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Early Life and Education:

Philip(p) was born to George and Barbara Schwarzerdt in Bretten in 1497. Philip had four siblings: Anna (1499), Georg (1500 or 1501), Margarete (1506), and Barbara (1508). All were born in his grandparents’ house in the Electoral Saxon Residential town of Bretten....

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017 06:45

Jesus is the End of Religion

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Believe. Belong. Behave. Believe in God. Belong to a church. Behave ourselves. Do that, and we’ll go to heaven when we die. Pepper in a bit of self-sacrifice and we’ve got the Christian religion in a nutshell. We’ve actually got every religion. Believe in God, belong to a...

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Friday, 26 May 2017 05:08

Get Him To Christ

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“Johnny decided that he didn’t like church. He should be the one to choose what he believes. I don’t want to force him into anything. You know, just let him try a little of everything and maybe something will stick,” she said, already bored with this conversation. This...

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The Gospel.

I vividly remember the first time I was asked to preach to a bunch of preachers. Not just preachers, but preachers whom I knew knew the Gospel well. They preached it well. They were the ones who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for Christ’s sake. I assumed I would need to be...

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017 03:58

Meeting Melanchthon

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Earlier this month I taught a class on Philip Melanchthon at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Frasier, Michigan. At the end of class, I was asked if I would recommend a short biography on Melanchthon suitable for a layperson. Sadly, I said no. Most of the short biographies are out of print and...

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017 02:37

Our Strength and Song

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Because salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, there will be some surprises when, at the Last Day, we stand in front of the throne and the Lamb. We’ll see, dressed in the whitest robes, women who prostituted themselves in order to support husbands, sons, and daughters....

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After several years of teaching church history and theology, it often remains hard to explain the divide between the Lutherans and Reformed (a.k.a. Calvinists) on the Lord’s Supper. After five hundred years of Protestantism, it certainly remains lamentable that evangelicals of various stripes...

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