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A Swedish House Church Movement of Revival

Pietism produced many expressions and forms. In the end, Pietism was a rival/renewal movement in the centuries following the Reformed and Lutheran Reformations of the sixteenth century. I personally believe the post-Reformation produced a new type of scholasticism that help to reduce the flame of reformation to a flicker. Pietism is quite often seen by modern Reformed and Lutheran confessional adherents as a bad development. If you believe in church renewal and the work of the Spirit you should rethink this idea.


A Reformed Evangelical and Eastern Orthodox Conversation (Video)

This is an “older” video of a dialogue that I did with Fr. Jon Braun, who is an Antiochian Orthodox priest. Fr. Braun was a Campus Crusade for Christ staff leader when I was a college student in 1967-1971. Eventually, along with several of his good friends on Campus Crusade for Christ staff, Fr. Braun entered the Orthodox Church. (He was a Presbyterian before his conversion to Orthodoxy.) We were both invited to share in this conversation together by an Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana. I have never publicly posted this particular video. As you will note, if you follow me online, I was “the old John” in this video. (I was about 50 pounds heavier). I have been asked over the past three years, “Are you sick?” No, I intentionally lost a lot of weight and as a result I look thinner. More importantly, I feel much, much better. I hope you will find this dialogue interesting and helpful. It is the only one I’ve ever done “one-to-one” with an Orthodox priest in a public context.

My Dialogue with Father Robert Barron on Christian Unity

On February 9, 2015, I did a remarkable and engaging dialogue with my friend, Fr. Robert Barron at St. Procopious Abbey in Lisle, IL.  The full video of this event is on our ACT3 website. In spite of posting this a few weeks ago, after some effort to get it finished, I have never included it as a blog post. Now I post it here to secure the interest of more of you who follow me via these blogs and the online ministry of ACT3 Network. Now you can watch this entire evening here or mark it on this site and come back to it later when you have the time. It is one hour and thirty minutes in length so you will need to “kick back” and watch it all. I hope that you will. This is me doing what I believe in with all my heart and soul. Pray for this dialogue to reach hearts and change minds. It has already had an impact in the context in which it took place, back in February.

A Film Series on the Protestant Reformation

Two weeks ago I did a three-and-a-half hour video session in Souderton, Pennsylvania. I sat down with Vision Video, one of the premier Christian video production companies in the world. I had a profoundly enjoyable experience and hope that the time I invested in a forthcoming project will bear much fruit.

IMG_5027Vision Video is making and producing a three-hour series for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I believe this series will be available in 2016. It is to be determined how many videos there will be in the series, what kind of resources will be added and how it will be marketed. The entire project anticipates the anniversary year of 2017. It has a number of well-known people in the series. It should make a significant contribution to churches and Christian viewers in general. Vision Video has produced some noteworthy films and won a number of awards for their work over the years.

This particular series was nearing completion when the production and film team decided that the series was missing several things that were needed.

The Lord’s Supper: A Roman Catholic and Reformed Evangelical Dialog (Video)

Who should participate in the Lord’s Supper? How frequently should we observe it? What does this meal mean? What happens when we eat the bread and drink from the cup? What do Christians disagree about and what do they hold in common? These and other questions are explored in my book, Understanding Four Views of the Lord’s Supper. 51Uh-nniC6L._AA160_This volume in the Counterpoints series from Zondervan allows four contributors to make a case for the following views: • Baptist view (memorialism) • Reformed view (spiritual presence) • Lutheran view (consubstantiation) • Roman Catholic view (transubstantiation) All contributors use Scripture to present their views, and each responds to the others’ essays. This book helps readers arrive at their own conclusions. It includes resources such as a listing of statements on the Lord’s Supper from creeds and confessions, quotations from noted Christians, a resource listing of books on the Lord’s Supper, and discussion questions for each chapter to facilitate small group and classroom use.

After this book was published in 2007 I engaged with my friend Fr. Thomas Baima in a

The Most Memorable Reformation Sunday in My Life

October 26, 2014, was a day that dawned with profound joy in my soul. I shall never forget it as long as I live. It began with personal morning prayer in a guest home in Montreal. I was in this great city to do my first Gospel Call mission with 47a4ce11b3127cce985487b0cadb00000015102BcM2zJq0ZQFr. Thomas Ryan, CSP. Tom directs the ministry of ecumenism for the Paulists and works out of their Washington, D.C. office. He invited me in 2013 to join him as his fellow team member/missioner for a four-day event that we hope to do at least three times per year in various parts of North America. Tom did his first Gospel Call mission almost twenty-five years ago in Canada. He has had three Protestant partners before me. I will share more about the mission this week but today I’d like to tell you my story of this unforgettable day, October 26.

After breakfast I went to St. Luke Catholic Church in Montreal. In the first Mass of the Lord’s Day I was invited to give the homily.

ACT3 September Forum on Friendship in Diversity

act3logoOn Tuesday, September 2, 2014, ACT3 hosted its first fall evening forum. Our subject was Christian diversity and deep friendship. I invited an Orthodox priest, Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, and a Catholic author and editor, Tom Masters, to join me for a dialogue about how we share deep friendship and still remain committed to very different Christian traditions: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.

Fr. Ellsworth was a Baptist minister for decades before entering the Orthodox Church about seven years ago. He has been my friend for decades and is the former chairman of the ACT3 Network board of directors. He now pastors Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois. Mr. Tom Masters is a life-long Catholic, a former teacher and the editorial director of New City Press, the publishing house of the Focolare a lay-Catholic movement I have shared a great deal with in recent years. Tom currently serves on the ACT3 board.

I, as most of you already know, am an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). I do not currently pastor a stated congregation but

Rev. Ian Paisley: RIP

UnknownI was reading the “Notable Deaths” page in my Sunday newspaper (September 14) and came across the news of the passing of the famous Irish Presbyterian minister, Ian Paisley. The AP report said: “Paisley [was] the Protestant firebrand who devoted his life to thwarting compromise with Catholics in Northern Ireland only to become a pivotal peacemaker in his twilight years.” Paisley was 88 when he passed away last Friday.

Ian Paisley was bigger than life in so many ways. (He was a big man and his voice and size could intimidate you very quickly!) I never heard Paisley preach in person but I listened to him a number of times via audio tape, online audio and television. He was a marvelous orator.

Oddly enough I was browsing in a Christian bookstore in suburban Toronto (Ontario) about twenty years ago when I heard this distinctive voice and turned to see if it really was Ian Paisley. It was the real Ian Paisley in the flesh. My first instinct was to draw back and avoid him. (Like I noted, he could intimidate one

Westminster Theological Seminary – Can Institutions Respond to Controversy in Radical Love? (Seven)

Unknown-2In this, my final post about the culture and conflict at Westminster Theological Seminary (if you do not know what this is about then see my posts from last week) I offer some more thoughts about how a “spirituality of love” could transform the institution inside and out. I offer these points very sincerely and in hopes that some will hear me and act in faith to seek a better WTS.

  1. Amy Uelmen, in her aforementioned book, Positive Political Dialogue, says that the fourth step to a “spirituality of love” in political contexts is to “recognize suffering as a springboard to love.” The suffering that has transpired at Westminster Seminary is immense. I do not know the future of the school but I have to guess that this new controversy is not the end. Some may celebrate that they have “cleaned house.” I hope this is not the case. Will more bodies fall and more faculty leave, some for very different reasons than the Christotelic debates about hermeneutics? Amy Uelmen asks, working out of a “spirituality of love,” the following:

Westminster Theological Seminary – Can Institutions Respond to Controversy in Radical Love? (Part Six)

Unknown-3I began, in yesterday’s post, to offer my ideas about how a “spirituality of love” could transform the landscape of an institution such as Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS). Westminster is a school that has been known for internal controversy as much as almost any such conservative seminary that I know in the United States. WTS has had a major impact on many graduates and has clearly done a great deal of good, especially in terms of its high level of academic accomplishment. Yet the seminary has always struggled, so it seems to me as a long time friend, to become a community of love. It has been embroiled in controversy after controversy among members of the faculty, administration and (even) students for several decades or more.

What I propose could be applied to many seminaries as well as other kinds of institutions. This is why I have given this series the title that I have above. Today I add four new points to what I began proposing yesterday on how radical love could transform the seminary.

  1. Westminster could make it a priority