Thomas Schirrmacher
Relevant ProMundis Blogposts

Why We, As Evangelical Reformed Christians, Seek to Dialogue with Pope Francis

27. Juli 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

This article by Thomas K. Johnsone and myself was published on the website of the theologically quite conservative World Reformed Fellowship, to which we both belong.


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Theological News July 2016 published

23. Juli 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

TN-45-3-July-2016-finalYou can download the four pages as PDF here or under http://www.worldevangelicals.org/tc/publications/TN-45-3.html

The newsletter of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance are published four times a year and newest edition of the can be downloaded under http://www.worldevangelicals.org/tc/ (see the right column).

The older editions 1998 to 2016 can be found here: http://www.worldevangelicals.org/tc/publications/TN.htm

 

The Pontifical Biblical Commission becomes more conservative in its Attitude toward the Bible: A Look at the Document „The Inspiration and Truth of Sacred Scripture“ (2014)

20. Juli 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

PDF-Download of full version here.

Here the first two pages abbreviated:

The Pontifical Biblical Commission is a part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which in a certain sense is the Vatican’s theological commission. The Congregation is under the leadership of the Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, who along with this oversees the Commission on the Bible. The Commission elects its own head and is semi-independent in its publications.

There are clear differences compared to the 1993 document by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, entitled The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.[1] The historical-critical methods are no longer so wholeheartedly elevated to almost canonical rank. Rather, historical-critical methods are relativized.

Indeed, the new document[2] points to the “methods” discussed in 1993 (§ 105, pp. 124-125), but the fact cannot be hidden that there has been a clear distancing from the line taken in the 1993 document.

However, the new document is only able to rhetorically but not truly bridge the tension between an almost complete license for the results of historical-critical methods and protection of the historical foundations of the confession of faith and the affirmation of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.

The description of inspiration is clear and well stated:

“The inspiration of Sacred Scripture refers, therefore, to each of the texts that constitute it, as well as to the canon as a whole. To affirm that a biblical book is inspired means to recognize that it constitutes a specific and privileged vehicle of God’s revelation to humankind and that its human authors were impelled by the Spirit to express truths of faith in a historically located text and received as normative by believing communities” (§ 57, p. 60).

Evangelicals can only agree with the following section, which point out that the faith of the reader today and the action of the Spirit correspond to inspiration:

“God’s solicitude should be received with a deep gratitude, manifested in a keen interest and great attention, to hear and to understand what God wants to communicate to us. The Spirit in which the books were written, however, should be the Spirit in which we listen to them. True disciples of Jesus, profoundly moved by faith in their Lord, wrote the books of the New Testament. These books are meant to be heard by true disciples of Jesus (cf. Matthew 28:19), filled with living faith in him (cf. John 20:31). It is with the risen Jesus, according to the teaching that Jesus gave his disciples (cf. Luke 24:25-27, 44-47) and from his perspective, that we are called to read the writings of the Old Testament. For the scientific study of the biblical writings too, conducted not in a neutral way but with a truly theological approach, it is essential to take account of inspiration. Indeed, the criterion of an authentic reading is indicated by Dei Verbum when it affirms that ‘Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the same Spirit in which it was written’ (n. 12). Modern exegetical methods cannot take the place of faith, but, when applied within the framework of faith, they can be very fruitful for the theological understanding of the texts” (§ 53, p. 55).

The differentiation between revelation and inspiration (as also in Verbum Domini and Dei Verbum) is also something carried out by most Evangelicals. In my opinion, however, what the Pontifical Biblical Commission emphasizes too little is that if the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is only one particular form of a broader revelation, 1. the Scriptures still remain revelation and 2. they remain the only binding and unchanging form of revelation for all time.

 

Footnotes

[1] Pontifical Biblical Commission. Die Interpretation der Bibel in der Kirche. 23.4.1993. Statements by the Apostolic See No. 115. Secretariat of the German Bishops‘ Conference, 19962. English version cited here: The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Pauline Books & Media: Boston (MA), 1996. Download of the English version: http://catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/PBC_Interp.htm. German version available at www.dbk.de as a pdf file. The original version in Latin and other translations can be found at www.vatican.org.

[2] Pontifical Biblical Commission. Inspiration und Wahrheit der Heiligen Schrift: Das Wort, das von Gott kommt und von der Welt spricht, um die Welt zu retten. Februar 22, 2014. Statements by the Apostolic See No. 196. Secretariat of the German Bishops‘ Conference: Bonn, 2014 (English version: The Inspiration and Truth of the Sacred Scripture: The Word that comes from God and speaks of God for the Salvation of the World. Liturgical Press: Collegeville (MN), 2014; the German version is free and can be downloaded at www.dbk.de).

A Classic in Christian Management Literature now in its 2nd edition

18. Juli 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Thomas Schirrmacher: Leadership and Ethical Responsibility

Norman_RentropReviewd by Norman Rentrop

Norman Rentrop is owner and shareholder of one of the largest publishing houses in Germany, the VNR Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft (publishing house for the German economy), the publishing house Verlag Rentrop & Straton in Romania, and the publishing house Wiedza i Praktyka in Poland. He also holds a 51% majority in the nonprofit foundation Bibel TV Stiftung GmbH (the Christian TV of Germany), to which he donated € 6.9 million.

Our economic system is based upon trust. When a distributor delivers goods on account, he trusts that at a later time he will be paid for his services. If a customer did not pay, the system of trust would be disturbed. Mistrust makes economic life difficult and complicated. A distributor would rather deliver to customers he trusts and whom he knows from experience to be reliable. Companies which are managed in a scrupulous and ethically responsible manner are preferred in our economic system.

Ethical responsibility not only strengthens relationships with customers and business partners. It also creates a productive work atmosphere for employees. On the one hand, it heightens existing employees‘ motivation and, on the other hand, makes the company attractive for new top talent.

Human ideals and practical constraints appear to contradict each other in the interpersonal realm. On this point, the book explains how the Bible makes clear guidelines available so that optimal solutions can be found in the case of conflicts between economic, personal, and impersonal interests. These spiritual principles not only give the decision maker himself a form of support. They also result in a situation where his leadership decisions inspire confidence, are reliable, and are transparent.

Christian leadership is often equated with a type of “starry-eyed idealism” that cannot be squared with the economic interests of a company. This book demonstrates the opposite by showing how Christian-ethical responsibility not only exists in relation to the individual employee but also in relation to the entire company and the goals the company has.

At those points where companies are becoming increasingly similar to each other, the quality of the employees and leadership are becominbg increasingly important. Ethically responsible leadership has become a critical success factor. The Bible is first-rate management literature. What one finds with Thomas Schirrmacher is that he develops a comprehensive and generally valid foundation from the Bible in order to wisely reach correct leadership decisions. In the process, as far as ethical responsibility is concerned, he not only goes into economic leadership. He also creates a sound basis for all areas of decision making: regardless of whether it is a matter of decisions in one’s profession, at a personal level, in one’s family, or decisions in the church.

Futurologists have seen the value of ethics rise in society even more. In a world full of material offerings and promises, interpersonal ethical values will become increasingly important for people who appear to have everything. Responsible Christian ethics is such a value. And for that reason, this book is so important. It provides a sound footing by providing the best guide, the Biblical point of view thought through and desired by the Creator with respect to decision making and behavior.

 

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Landslide changes in the Catholic Church and in global Christianity

8. Juli 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Guest lecture in a Reformed flagship seminary

This article was originally published in 2015 and didn’t appear on my blog until now.

Thomas Schirrmacher during his lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary

Thomas Schirrmacher during his lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary

(Bonn, 07.04.2016) In a guest lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary, a Reformed flagship seminary in Philadelphia, Thomas Schirrmacher, the Chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, described and discussed landslide changes in the Catholic Church and in global Christianity.

While dogmatic differences are decreasing, moral differences are increasing, Schirrmacher said. While using the ordination of homosexual clergy as an example for growing division, Schirrmacher used the full acceptance of wrongly so called ‘monophysite’ churches, such as the Coptic, Syriac-Orthodox or the Armenian-Orthodox Churches, as example of doctrinal convergence. In the light of modern research and intra-church discussions, the Monophysitist and Chalcedonian positions appear to differ mainly in their usage of the key term ‘nature’, not in what they actually confess about Jesus or see as a summary of Biblical doctrine.

Schirrmacher was invited by Peter Lillback last year in Sao Paulo. Rev. Dr. Peter Lillback (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is president and professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Thomas Schirrmacher under the portrait of Cornelius van Til in the entrance hall of Westminster Theological Seminary

Thomas Schirrmacher under the portrait of Cornelius van Til in the entrance hall of Westminster Theological Seminary

Schirrmacher is seen by some as one of the most experienced and knowledgeable experts on the different Christian churches and confessions worldwide. Having met virtually all the heads of churches or global church networks and having lectured on comparative theology for three decades, he has been involved in several highest level commissions between the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance.

Schirrmacher gave a second guest lecture on the same topic at John Jay Institute in Philadelphia. The institute prepares future civil leaders through half a year of community and intense academic training. Alan R. Crippen II, President of the John Jay Institute, welcomed the networking of Schirrmacher between different churches and confessions worldwide, as it also would fulfill the vision of John Jay Institute.

Beside this Schirrmacher visited the Providence Forum in Philadelphia, over which Dr. Lillback presides, to discuss closer cooperation between the forum and the International Institute for Religious Freedom.

 

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Thomas Schirrmacher with some fellows of the John Jay Institute and the president Alan R. Crippen II (left)

Thomas Schirrmacher with some fellows of the John Jay Institute and the president Alan R. Crippen II (left)

van-Til-Hall of Westminster Theological Seminary

van-Til-Hall of Westminster Theological Seminary

Thomas Schirrmacher