Those of us who have a blog here at The Gospel Coalition would readily admit that while we each have an ecclesiastical home and a theological tradition (Baptist or Presbyterian or Anglican, etc.) we have gleaned much from, and been influenced by, those from other ecclesiastical homes and theological traditions. Borrowing an analogy from C.S. Lewis, we each have rooms in which we live, but we gather in the hallway with those from other rooms to meet and talk and listen. It would be a mistake to live in the hallway. After all, “it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals” (C.S. Lewis). But it would also be a mistake to never leave your room. The way I see it, The Gospel Coalition is a “hallway”, not a room. It’s a place where Presbyterians and Baptists and Anglicans and Episcopalians and others who trace their theological roots back to the Reformation, gather for conversation–both talking and listening. We don’t live here, but we have conversations here.
While Baptists and Presbyterians, for example, will not agree on things like sacraments, church government, worship, spiritual gifts, and so on, they still talk. One of the voices that is largely missing from our “hallway” conversations is the Lutheran voice–an absence that would have been odd to American Reformed folks from just a century ago, according to Michael Horton: “Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield, Geerhardus Vos and Herman Bavinck, would not have understood this development…they took it for granted that confessional Lutheran and Reformed Christians were natural allies, joined at the hip on major issues” (Horton).
I’m not exactly sure why (or how) this has happened, but I think our conversations suffer to the degree that confessional Lutherans are not included. (Granted, some of them do not want to be included–some Lutherans can be just as insular as some Presbyterians and some Baptists.) As a Presbyterian, I have benefited greatly from being in conversations with Baptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians–and Lutherans. I’d love to see our hallway conversations include more talking with and listening to our Lutheran brothers and sisters. I think you’ll find that there are few people who are more theologically serious and pastorally sensitive than Lutherans.
Last week I had the privilege of being interviewed by a couple of different Lutheran ministries. After listening to, and reading, my conversations with them, I hope you will add them to the list of people you engage in conversation when you come out of your room and into the hallway.
The first is a website called Steadfast Lutherans–a very popular blog in Lutheranism, getting around 2,000,000 page-views each year. My friend Rev. Dr. Matthew R. Richard interviewed me regarding my interaction with Lutherans.
Here’s a small sample:
Pr. Richard: Tullian, within Lutheran circles I have heard people refer to you as a ‘closet Lutheran.’ This is obviously a tremendous complement from my perspective. What are your thoughts about this and is it true?
Pr. Tchividjian: [Laughing] I’ve heard that too. People who know me, however, know that I’m not a closet anything. I’m pretty outspoken and unashamed about what I believe and why. I wish I had the kind of personality that was subtle, but I don’t. I have some theological differences with my Lutheran friends which is why I am a Presbyterian. But I will joyfully admit that few theologians have helped me more than Lutheran theologians. They tend to be much more down-to-earth and realistic, with little tolerance for theoretical descriptions of the human condition and God’s saving grace. They are existential realists, rather than idealists. They’ve helped me better understand my sin, God’s grace, and the Reformational distinction between the law and the gospel. They’ve guided me through deep and wide pastoral challenges and, I think, made me a better preacher, pastor, and counselor.
The second you may be more familiar with. My friend Chris Rosebrough has a ministry called Pirate Christian Radio. This is an audio interview where we cover my background, issues pertaining to law and gospel, and my book One Way Love. You can listen here (with an encore presentation of Dr. Rod Rosenbladt’s amazing sermon The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church).
I hope you enjoy these hallway conversations. I did. And I hope they encourage you to have some of your own.