Zwinglius Redivivus

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Luther- On Why the Biblical Languages are Indispensible

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luther1In proportion then as we value the gospel, let us zealously hold to the languages. For it was not without purpose that God caused his Scriptures to be set down in these two languages alone—the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New in Greek. Now if God did not despise them but chose them above all others for his word, then we too ought to honor them above all others.

St. Paul declared it to be the peculiar glory and distinction of Hebrew that God’s word was given in that language, when he said in Romans 3[:1–2], “What advantage or profit have those who are circumcised? Much indeed. To begin with, God’s speech is entrusted to them.” King David too boasts in Psalm 147[:19–20], “He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation or revealed to them his ordinances.” Hence, too, the Hebrew language is called sacred. And St. Paul, in Romans 1[:2], calls it “the holy scriptures,” doubtless on account of the holy word of God which is comprehended [verfasset] therein.

Similarly, the Greek language too may be called sacred, because it was chosen above all others as the language in which the New Testament was to be written, and because by it other languages too have been sanctified as it spilled over into them like a fountain through the medium of translation.

And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages. The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit [Eph. 6:17] is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out [Matt. 14:20], they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments.

If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall not only lose the gospel, but the time will come when we shall be unable either to speak or write a correct Latin or German. As proof and warning of this, let us take the deplorable and dreadful example of the universities and monasteries, in which men have not only unlearned the gospel, but have in addition so corrupted the Latin and German languages that the miserable folk have been fairly turned into beasts, unable to speak or write a correct German or Latin, and have well nigh lost their natural reason to boot.*

Amen.  And amen.  There’s already too much pastoral ignorance.  The sad fact that many graduate programs in theology and biblical studies no longer require the languages is the greatest absurdity of modern theological education.

*The Christian in Society II, (Vol. 45, pp. 359–360)

Written by Jim

October 28, 2014 at 07:50

Posted in Luther, Theology

Church or Rotary Club? Can You Tell the Difference?

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If your church is more like the Rotarians or the local theater than it is the body of Christ, you have a problem.  And if you aren’t sure or can’t tell the difference, you have a serious problem.  Get out and find a Church that embodies Christ, who never once manipulated anyone.

Written by Jim

October 26, 2014 at 13:22

Posted in Theology

The Drought

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The word of Yahweh that came to Jeremiah on the occasion of the drought.

‘Judah is in mourning, her towns are pining, sinking to the ground; a cry goes up from Jerusalem. The nobles send their servants for water, they come to the water-tanks, find no water, and return with their pitchers empty. Dismayed and bewildered, they cover their heads. Because the soil is all cracked since the country has had no rain; the farmers are dismayed, they cover their heads. Even the doe in the countryside giving birth abandons her young, for there is no grass; the wild donkeys standing on the bare heights gasp for air like jackals: their eyes grow dim for lack of pasture.’

Although our sins witness against us, Yahweh, for your name’s sake, intervene! Yes, our acts of infidelity have been many, we have sinned against you! Yahweh, hope of Israel, its Saviour in time of distress, why are you like a stranger in this country, like a traveller staying only for one night? Why are you like someone bemused, like a warrior who has no power to rescue? And yet, Yahweh, you are among us, we are called by your name. Do not desert us!

Yahweh says this about this people, ‘They take such pleasure in darting hither and thither, they cannot restrain their feet! But Yahweh takes pleasure in them no longer; now he will keep their guilt in mind and punish their sins.’

Yahweh then said to me, ‘Do not intercede for this people or their welfare. If they fast, I will not listen to their plea; if they offer burnt offerings and cereal offerings I will not accept them. Rather, I shall make an end of them by sword, famine and plague.’ (Jer 14:1-12 NJB)

All of which forces upon those who believe such things a question: if God used nature in the past, why do we no longer believe he does in the present?  What’s the cutoff date?  Which day in history did God decide ‘nah, I’m not going to use natural disasters to speak a word to my wayward kids anymore’?

Written by Jim

October 26, 2014 at 08:13

Posted in Theology

The Prodigal Son, As Told By Emoji

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Written by Jim

October 24, 2014 at 06:38

Posted in media, Theology, twitter

Today With Zwingli

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Bugenhagen had written Zwingli asking him to clarify his view of the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and on the 23rd of October in 1525 Zwingli obliged with his Responsio ad epistolam Ioannis Bugenhagii.

Peppered with Scriptural proofs, Zwingli shows Bugenhagen in meticulous detail why ‘hoc est’ in the celebration of the body of Christ in the Supper should be understood “significat”. ‘This signifies my body…’ etc.

Here’s a fun section:

Sic ergo didicimus, urgente nos rudium cura, qui non bene norunt, quid tropus significet, quomodo ista vox “est” debeat pro “significat” accipi. Videbam τροπικῶς dictum esse “hoc est corpus meum” [Luc. 22. 19], sed in qua voce tropus lateret, non videbam. Ibi dei munere factum est, ut duo quidam et pii et docti homines, quorum etiamnum tacebo nomina, ad Leonem nostrum et me conferendi de hoc argumento causa venirent; cumque nostram hac in re sententiam audirent, gratias egerunt deo (suam enim ipsi celabant, quod tum non erat tutum cuique communicare, quod in hac re sentiret), ac epistolam istam cuiusdam et docti et pii Batavi, quae iam excusa est anonyma, soluta sarcina communicarunt. In ea foelicem hanc margaritam “est” pro “significat” hic accipi inveni.

Zwingli’s view persuaded many but it didn’t persuade Luther or the other Catholics of Luther’s mindset. It never could, because Luther was far too chained to his mystical past.  Or, as Zwingli puts it in his colorful conclusion-

Non potest ex integro antichristus profligari, nisi et hoc errore labefactato corruat. Spectemus veri ante omnia faciem, non autoritatem hominum, quae nihil valere debet, ubi veritas illuxit.

That delightful phrase could be repeated daily concerning so many…

Written by Jim

October 23, 2014 at 07:48

Jeremiah’s Sermon of the Dirty Underwear

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This is one of my favorite prophetic sermon/ acts:

downloadYahweh said this to me, ‘Go and buy a linen waistcloth and put it round your waist. But do not dip it in water.’ 2 And so, as Yahweh had ordered, I bought a waistcloth and put it round my waist. 3 A second time the word of Yahweh came to me, 4 ‘Take the waistcloth that you have bought and are wearing round your waist. Up, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a hole in the rock.’ 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as Yahweh had ordered me.

6 A long time later, Yahweh said to me, ‘Up, go to the Euphrates and fetch the waistcloth I ordered you to hide there.’ 7 So I went to the Euphrates, and I searched, and I took the waistcloth from the place where I had hidden it. And there was the waistcloth ruined, no use for anything.

8 Then the word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 9 ‘Yahweh says this, “In the same way I shall ruin the pride of Judah, the immense pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, these people who refuse to listen to my words, who follow their own stubborn inclinations and run after other gods, serving and worshipping them — this people will become like this waistcloth, no good for anything. 11 For just as a waistcloth clings to a man’s waist, so I made the whole House of Israel and the whole House of Judah cling to me, Yahweh declares, to be my people, my glory, my honour and my pride. But they have not listened.” (Jer 13:1-11 NJB)

Judah, by its covenant infidelity, has become nothing more than filthy stained underwear.  Now that right there’s a descriptive image that would get Jeremiah called an anti-semite were he alive and preaching today.  Of course he wouldn’t be, but as we all know, in these troubled times if you point out the sin of Israel, you’re an anti-semite.  Apparently they have forgotten their own prophets.

Written by Jim

October 22, 2014 at 11:51

Posted in Theology

Sunday Observance: The New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833

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We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath; and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God.

Written by Jim

October 18, 2014 at 17:26

Posted in Theology


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