Liturgy: Going Through the (Right) Motions

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Aaron Damiani on the topic of liturgy.

Aaron Damiani is a pastor and the author of the book: Earth Filled with Heaven — Finding Life in Liturgy, Sacraments and other Ancient Practices of the Church.

In this episode, Aaron and I discuss some of the practices that Christians have traditionally done in their worship services, and how Christians today can benefit from incorporating some of those formative practices.

Additionally, we discussion some of the pitfalls or potential downsides of a liturgical approach to worship and discipleship, and some ways that High Church and Low Church Protestants can learn from each other in order to create an intentional order or service which helps develop healthy disciples of Jesus.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Liturgy: Going Through the (Right) Motions Theology for the People

Aaron Damiani is a pastor and the author of the book: Earth Filled with Heaven — Finding Life in Liturgy, Sacraments and other Ancient Practices of the Church. In this episode, Aaron and I discuss some of the practices that Christians have traditionally done in their worship services, and how Christians today can benefit from incorporating some of those formative practices. Additionally, we discussion some of the pitfalls or potential downsides of a liturgical approach to worship and discipleship, and some ways that High Church and Low Church Protestants can learn from each other in order to create an intentional order or service which helps develop healthy disciples of Jesus. If you benefited from this episode, please share it with others, and if you would like to help the podcast, the best way to do that is by leaving a rating or review on your podcast app.

How is Gluttony a Danger to Your Soul?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Mike Neglia about the topic of gluttony.

Gluttony is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” – but why is gluttony a sin? And what constitutes gluttony? Is calling gluttony a sin actually a form of “fat-shaming” – or it is actually a danger to your soul?

In this episode, Mike and I talk about the origin of the Seven Deadly Sins and what the Bible has to say about gluttony. 

Mike is the Lead Pastor of Calvary Cork in Cork, Ireland. He is also the leader of Expositors Collective, and the host of the Expositors Collective Podcast.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

How is Gluttony a Danger to Your Soul? Theology for the People

Gluttony is one of the "Seven Deadly Sins" – but why is gluttony a sin? And what constitutes gluttony? Is calling gluttony a sin actually a form of "fat-shaming" – or it is actually a danger to your soul? In this episode I speak with Mike Neglia about the origin of the Seven Deadly Sins and what the Bible has to say about gluttony.  Mike is the Lead Pastor of Calvary Cork in Cork, Ireland. He is also the leader of Expositors Collective, and the host of the Expositors Collective Podcast. For more articles and content, visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Wealth, Poverty & the Bible: How Do Finances Relate to Faith?

On this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Mason Mortimer.

Mason is a graduate of Calvary Chapel Bible College and has worked in the financial services industry for 17 years.

In this episode we discuss what the Bible has to say about money, wealth, and poverty. How should we think biblically about financial matters, including investments and retirement?

We discuss how Christians have related to money historically, such as those who take vows of poverty. Finally, Mason gives us some very practical advice about stewardship, investment, and financial planning.

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Wealth, Poverty & the Bible: How Do Finances Relate to Faith? Theology for the People

Mason Mortimer is a graduate of Calvary Chapel Bible College and has worked in the financial services industry for 17 years. In this episode we discuss what the Bible has to say about money, wealth, and poverty. How should we think biblically about financial matters, including investments and retirement? We discuss how Christians have related to money historically, such as those who take vows of poverty. Finally, Mason gives us some very practical advice about stewardship, investment, and financial planning. If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Why Does Jesus’ Ascension Matter for the Gospel and for Us? – with Michael Payne

On this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Michael Payne, worship pastor at White Fields Community Church, about Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.

Is the ascension simply something that happened, which we acknowledge, or did it actually accomplish something which could not have happened otherwise? How did the early Christians and the Church Fathers understand the ascension? What difference should the ascension make for our lives today?

In 2021, I asked Mike to teach on the Ascension, as part of our Eastertide series, “The Risen Life,” in which we looked at the appearances of Jesus in the Gospels after His resurrection. As Mike studied and prepared for that teaching, he found that the ascension really deserves more attention than it generally gets in most churches today.

In this episode, I speak with Michael about his discoveries, and he explains what the church has lost by not focusing enough on Jesus ascension, and he explains why Jesus’ ascension matters for the gospel and for us.

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Does the Ascension Deserve More Attention? – Why Does Jesus' Ascension Matter for the Gospel and for Us? Theology for the People

In this episode, Nick Cady and Michael Payne discuss Jesus' ascension into Heaven and why it matters for the gospel and for us.  Is the ascension simply something that happened, which we acknowledge, or did it actually accomplish something which could not have happened otherwise? How did the early Christians and the Church Fathers understand the ascension? What difference should the ascension make for our lives today? If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Saint Patrick: Differentiating Myth from History – with Shane Angland (Mdiv) from Ennis, Ireland

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, and on this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast I speak with Shane Angland (Mdiv, Dallas Theological Seminary) about the true story of St. Patrick, and how we can know the difference between what is myth and what is historically true when it comes to him.

Did Patrick really drive the snakes out of Ireland? Did he face off with druids? Did he use the shamrock as a teaching tool to explain the Trinity? Did you know that Patrick wasn’t actually Irish – and that he fought against human trafficking?

Shane explains how the true story of Patrick is actually much better than the legends, and that there are actually writings from Patrick which are available today. He also shares about the ongoing legacy of Patrick in Ireland and beyond.

Here is a link to an article Shane wrote, which is mentioned in this episode: St. Patrick, Grey Wolves, and the Cimbid King

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

The True Story of Saint Patrick of Ireland – with Shane Angland, MDiv from Ennis, Ireland Theology for the People

March 17 is St. Patrick's Day. What is the true story of St. Patrick? Shane Angland (MDiv, Dallas Theological Seminary) joins the podcast today to help us know the difference between what is myth and what is historically true when it comes to St. Patrick. Did Patrick really drive the snakes out of Ireland? Did he face off with druids? Did he use the shamrock as a teaching tool to explain the Trinity? Shane explains how we can know the difference between what is true about Patrick and what is fable, and how the true story of Patrick is much better than the legends. Here is a link to the article Shane wrote, which is mentioned in this episode: St. Patrick, Grey Wolves, and the Cimbid King If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Special Report: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: How to Pray & How to Help – with George Markey

This week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast is a discussion I recorded in Budapest, Hungary this week with Pastor George Markey of Kyiv, Ukraine.

This was originally recorded for KWAVE Radio in Southern California, but I am putting it out here as well, so more people can hear it.

George has lived in Ukraine for the past 30 years, and is the overseer for the Calvary Chapel churches in the country.

In this episode, George shares his perspective on what is going on as Russia is attacking Ukraine, as well as stories of how God is working in the midst of it. We also discuss needs, what is currently being done, and how you can get involved and help. Finally, George shares how he personally prays for Ukraine during this time.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: How to Help & How to Pray – with George Markey Theology for the People

Recorded in Budapest, Hungary this week with Pastor George Markey of Kyiv, Ukraine, originally for KWAVE Radio in Southern California. George has lived in Ukraine for the past 30 years, and is the overseer for Calvary Chapel churches in Ukraine.  In this episode, George shares his perspective on what is going on as Russia is attacking Ukraine, as well as stories of how God is working in the midst of it.  We also discuss needs, what is currently being done, and how you can get involved and help. Finally, George shares how he personally prays for Ukraine right now. Please share this episode with others, subscribe to the podcast, and check out the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Did the Reformation Reach the East? The Surprising History of Cyril Lucaris and Eastern Orthodoxy’s Reaction to the Reformation – with Shane Angland

Many people assume that the Protestant Reformation was something that only affected the Western, or Roman Catholic Church, but in this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, Shane Angland (Mdiv, Dallas Theological Seminary) shares the incredible story of how the Reformation reached the East. 

Shane explains how Martin Luther actually referenced the Eastern Orthodox churches as examples of Christianity which were not subject to the dictates of Roman papal authority, and he tells the story of Cyril Lucaris, the Greek Orthodox theologian and patriarch of Constantinople, who was highly influenced by the Reformation and its principles.

Shane resides in Ennis, Ireland. He spent years working in Ukraine as a missionary with IFES and serving in a Calvary Chapel church in the city of Kharkiv, before going to Dallas for seminary.

Next month, Shane will be back on the podcast, sharing the true history of Saint Patrick of Ireland, explaining which parts of the commonly-told stories about Patrick are myth, and which parts of the story are often not told, but deserve to be. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for that!

At the end of this episode, listen for a preview of my forthcoming book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity. 

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Did the Reformation Reach the East? The Surprising History of Cyril Lucaris and Eastern Orthodoxy's Reaction to the Reformation – with Shane Angland Theology for the People

Many people assume that the Protestant Reformation was something that only affected the Western, or Roman Catholic Church, but in this episode, Shane Angland (Mdiv, Dallas Theological Seminary) shares the incredible story of how the Reformation reached the East.  Shane explains how Martin Luther actually referred to the Eastern Orthodox churches as examples of Christianity which were not subject to the dictates of Roman papal authority, and he tells the story of Cyril Lucaris, the Greek Orthodox theologian and patriarch of Constantinople, who was highly influenced by the Reformation and its principles. Shane Angland resides in Ennis, Ireland. He spent years working in Ukraine as a missionary with IFES and serving in a Calvary Chapel church in the city of Kharkiv, before going to Dallas for seminary. At the end of the episode, listen for a preview of my forthcoming book, The God I Won't Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity.  Visit the Theology for the People blog site for articles and more.

Thanksgiving Shapes Us in More than One Way

Today is the day in the United States when we set aside to give thanks and reflect on all the Lord has done in our lives over this past year.

Other countries, like Canada and Ukraine also have national holidays dedicated to giving thanks, but days of thanksgiving have a rich history in Christian groups all over the world, going back before the pilgrims held their famous thanksgiving feast in Plymouth.

In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to hold several days of thanksgiving every year: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in early Spring, thanking God for delivering them from slavery and for the beginning of the barley harvest; the Feast of Weeks in early Summer, thanking God for the beginning of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles in the Fall, thanking God for the end of the harvest season. God told them to “Be joyful at your festival…because the Lord your God will bless you” (Deuteronomy 16:14-15).

For us as Christians, Thanksgiving is not only a day we celebrate, but a way of life. Colossians 2:6-7 says: : “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving Shapes Us

Spending time reflecting on what God has done for us and giving thanks not only honors Him, it also shapes us. The Thanksgiving meal obviously shapes us into certain kinds of people: slightly rounded than we were before! But the practice of giving thanks also shapes us: the more we give thanks, the more our eyes are opened to see the things God is doing and has done – which builds our faith and trust in Him!

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Do You Have a Theology of Glory, or the Theology of the Cross?

Do you have a theology of glory, or do you follow the theology of the cross? Here’s an easy test: honestly ask yourself the question, “Do you seek God primarily because you consider him useful, or because you find him beautiful?” 

There are many things about God that are useful; He is omnipotent and He is able to answer prayers, do the miraculous, help in time of need. But do you seek Him primarily for what He can do for you, or do you seek Him primarily because of who He is? 

Martin Luther and the Theology of the Cross

A theology of glory, as Martin Luther explained, most famously in his Heidelberg Disputation (1518), views God primarily as useful to you. A theology of glory, as Luther used the term, is really a theology of man’s glory. Rather than focusing on and seeking the glory of God, a theology of glory is focused on seeking your own personal glory — with Jesus as your self-help guru, who gives you a “boost” or a “shot in the arm” to help you achieve your goals and reach your potential. 

The theology of the cross, on the other hand, states that it is ultimately by looking at the cross that we learn who God is and who we are (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). For example, the cross of Christ shows us that, as human beings, we are completely unable to save ourselves — this is why the Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary. Furthermore, it is through the cross that we come to known the depth of God’s love for us. 

The theology of the Cross understands that Jesus is your savior, not your side-kick or personal assistant. The cross causes us, as Paul the Apostle puts it in Philippians 3:3, to “glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,” i.e. our own abilities or goodness to justify ourselves or earn God’s blessings.

As we come to see the beauty and depth of God’s love, displayed for us in the most ultimate way on the cross, it compels us to respond by surrendering our lives to Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). This transforms us from being people who seek to use or leverage God for our own power or glory, and who instead take up our crosses and die to ourselves, that Christ might live in us (Galatians 2:20). We do this, remembering that Jesus surrendered himself to the will of the Father, even unto death on a cross, after which God highly exalted Him (Philippians 2:8-9). Therefore, we also know that if we, rather than seeking to exalt ourselves, seek to exalt Jesus and surrender our lives to Him, God will exalt us in the end as well (1 Peter 5:6).

Useful or Beautiful?

Do you seek God primarily because you consider him useful, or because you find him beautiful? How you answer that question will have big implications for how you view God, and how your faith weathers the storms and trials of this life. For example, if you seek the Lord primarily because you find Him useful, what will happen if there is ever a time when you feel that following Jesus isn’t useful? What if God doesn’t answer your prayer in the way, or within the time frame you expected, or hoped?

If, however, by looking at the cross, you become acutely aware of the beauty of God’s heart and the depth of his love, you will have a faith that is able to weather any storm. 

By looking at the cross, we are made aware of who God is and who we are. May we look to the cross, and rather than putting confidence in our flesh, may we glory in Christ Jesus. As we look to the cross and see the beauty and love of God on display, and may it compel our hearts to live not for our own glory, but for Him who died and was raised for us.

Reformation Day: Martin Luther, the Bible, & the Gospel

Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Gospel

Originally posted on CalvaryChapel.com

If you own a Bible in your own language, it is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation, and the key figure God used to ignite that worldwide movement of returning to the Bible was Martin Luther: a German monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg.

I grew up attending a Lutheran school until eighth grade. During my time there, I learned a lot about Luther, including studying his catechism. Years later, when I put my faith in Jesus and was born again, I started attending a Calvary Chapel church; and over the years, I have grown in appreciation for Martin Luther and the pivotal role he played in God’s work in the world.

The last day of October is celebrated around the world as Reformation Day, because it was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther set into motion the movement now known as the Reformation, by mailing a letter. Yes, you read that right: on the eve of All Saints Day (Halloween = “All Hallows Eve”), Luther mailed, not nailed, a letter.1 2

The letter was addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz,3 and Luther sent it because he wanted to alert the archbishop that plenary indulgences were being sold in the archbishop’s name by a man named John Tetzel. Tetzel had been sent from Rome the year before to sell these certificates promising the release of a soul from purgatory in exchange for their purchase, as a fundraising campaign for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther assumed the archbishop was unaware that this was going on, and that upon receiving his letter, the archbishop would tell Tetzel to cease and desist. That, however, is not what happened.

As a result of the archbishop’s inaction, Luther, as a professor, decided to organize a scholarly debate on the topic of indulgences: whether they were actually effective in procuring the release of a soul from purgatory. To this end, he wrote up what are now known as the 95 Theses, which he titled: A Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. This paper, which was posted on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, was an invitation to a scholarly debate, but in it Luther challenged both the selling of indulgences and the doctrine of purgatory as unscriptural. By doing this, Luther was challenging the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and authority, and insisting that the Bible, not the church, should be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes correct doctrine.

The posting of the 95 Theses is considered the spark which ignited the Protestant Reformation: a movement which sought to reform the church by shedding man-made traditions and returning to the faith which had been handed to us by God in the Holy Scriptures. 

Today, there are nearly 1 billion Protestant Christians in the world.4 In the “majority world,” including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Muslim world5, Protestant Christianity is growing faster than any other religious movement by conversion.6

Before Luther, there were others who sought to reform the church and bring the Bible to the people. John Wycliffe (1331-1384) published the first English translation of the Bible. Jan Hus (1369-1415) taught the Bible to the common people in Prague. Peter Waldo (1140-1218) commissioned a translation of the New Testament into the local vernacular of southern France. Each of these people were persecuted for trying to put the Scriptures into the hands of the common people.

Over a century before Luther, Hus had protested the sale of plenary indulgences, pointing out that the idea that God’s favor or blessings could be earned in any way, runs contrary to the message of the gospel and the testimony of the Scriptures, and the concept of purgatory is in conflict with the biblical teaching of the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross.

Martin Luther had long struggled with feelings of condemnation and inadequacy, until his own reading of the Scriptures led him to an epiphany when he read Habakkuk 2:4: “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” This led Luther to the other places in the Bible where this phrase is repeated: Romans 1:17Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38 – where the message is clear: It is not by our own works that we are justified before God, but it is God who justifies us sinners as a gift of His grace, and we receive that justification by faith. After all, the Bible explains, this is how Abraham, the father of our faith, became righteous: he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6Romans 4:322). We receive God’s righteousness, which he has provided for us in Christ, in the same way.

Luther became convinced that everyone needed to be able to read the Scriptures for themselves, and he took it upon himself to translate the Bible into German, a translation that is still in use to this day. Soon the Bible was translated into other languages, including English, as the Reformation spread.

Martin Luther called people back to a belief that the Scriptures are perspicuous (clear), and can be understood by those who read them. He called us back to a belief in the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture: that it is the ultimate rule of faith, by which we are to measure both doctrine and our lives.

In April 1521, Luther was brought before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms, at which Luther was commanded to recant his teachings. Luther refused to do so, famously stating:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason – for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves – I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant.”7

This October, as we celebrate Reformation Day, may we take the opportunity to open the Bible and read it for ourselves, and may we embrace and celebrate the message of the gospel: that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that we are justified freely by his grace as we trust in him by faith.

NOTES

1 Marshall, Peter. 1517: Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation. OUP Oxford. 2017.

2 Little, Becky. “Martin Luther Might Not Have Nailed His 95 Theses to the Church Door.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, October 31, 2017. 

3 “Luther’s Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz (1517).” Historyguide.org, 2002. 

4 “Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population.” PewResearchCenter. Accessed December 2011. 

5 Miller, Duane A., and Patrick Johnstone. Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census II (2015): 2–19. academia.edu

Melton, J. Gordon (22 October 2005). Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816069835 – via Google Books.

7 “Here I Stand: Martin Luther’s Reformation at 500.” Abilene Christian University Special Collections, March 11, 2019.