Leadership And Theology Essay Samples
Leadership is always something of great importance in the Christian church. Without strong leaders at the center, the church can easily stray from the teaching of God’s word, and blend in with the world. Throughout the history of the church there have been countless great leaders. However, some of the most well-known figures in the church, like Luther, Calvin, and Bonhoeffer, were not only model Christians, but great leaders and reformers of the church. Their theologies greatly impacted and caused them to strive to be leaders in the church.
Martin Luther was the main inspiration figure at the start of the Protestant church. Known specifically for his 95 thesis, Luther broke apart from the Catholic Church and started a new form of Christianity. He was essentially thrust into leadership, whether or not he wanted to, because of his positions against Catholicism. So what was it about his theology that drove him to do this? Luther learned the basic message of the Gospel; that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. His study of the Bible concluded that God’s grace is free: not earned by doing countless rituals or indulgences, so this interpretation of the Bible led Luther to become a leader. He did not see the Pope and church offices as the means by which all should know God, but rather by simply reading scripture. He believed in the Bible alone, and for this reason his teachings spread and he became an influential leader in the church.
John Calvin, born slightly later than Luther in France, was also a great leader of the faith. Calvin built on Luther’s ideas of grace, faith, and scripture alone. Calvin’s teachings include a development of the doctrine on predestination and election, the sovereignty of God, and the importance of preaching the gospel. Calvin’s theology impacted his leadership because he saw how God’s word and will should impact every area of life. Calvin created his own theocracy of sorts in Geneva, Switzerland because he believed the Bible commanded that every area be in accord with God’s will. Calvin saw God as choosing his believers, therefore there was a sense of calling to Calvin’s theological career. He felt called to lead, and that likely meant he was chosen or predestined to lead. Because he was one of the greatest scholars and ministers of the time, it was logical the he presume this role. In doing so he effectively ran Geneva as his version of what a completely Christian city was to look like. Therefore, Calvin’s basic theological beliefs shaped the way he lead both Geneva and his preaching.
Jonathan Edwards, born 1703, was arguable the main Christian leader in American during the First Great Awakening. The First Great Awakening was a time of revivals in the American church. This is a time when Christian leaders attempted to re-emphasize the personal nature of God, and form a better code of ethics or piety among believers. Jonathan Edwards is perhaps the best embodiment of these aspects of the First Great Awakening. He stressed how personal God is to all people in his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” This sermon showed his personal beliefs concerning how important it is to live in accordance with God’s Will. These beliefs impacted his leadership in the church because they represent the basic direction and movement Christianity was taken. Edwards was a theological giant at the time, and his views were widely accepted among Christians.
Finally, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a more recent example of great Christian leadership. This, too, was due to his basic theological beliefs. Bonhoeffer stressed a Christ centered theology, which meant that he was concerned with redeeming everything in this world for Christ. He wanted to see Christians actively working within the world to reform it as Christ would do. As such, Bonhoeffer was greatly distressed by the injustice throughout the world. Seeing as he lived throughout WWII and Hitler’s regime, his leadership is shown in how he tried to combat Hitler in all that he did. Because he applied the principles of Christ to a very dark time, Bonhoeffer led by showing the transforming power of the spirit. His leadership, even when executed by the Nazi, sets an example for every Christian as to what true discipleship means.
Cole, Steven. "John Calvin-the Man and His Preaching." Bible.org. January 1, 2006. Accessed January 26, 2015. https://bible.org/seriespage/john-calvin-man-and-his-preaching.
Fairchild, Mary. "Martin Luther - Biography of Protestant Leader." Accessed January 26, 2015. http://christianity.about.com/od/lutherandenomination/a/martinlutherbio.htm.
Green, Clifford. "Hijacking Bonhoeffer." The Christian Century. October 5, 2010. Accessed January 26, 2015. http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2010-09/hijacking-bonhoeffer.
"Jonathan Edwards." Christianity Today. August 8, 2008. Accessed January 26, 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/theologians/edwards.html.
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