Zwinglius Redivivus

‘Emergent’ Belief Described in 2 Points

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 20, 2014

Robert T. George describes Emergent beliefs about God thusly:

(1) Toleranz praktizierter “sexueller Vielfalt” in christlichen Gemeinden, und

(2) strikte Leugnung des stellvertretenden Sühnopfers Christi: Es war keines nötig, weil Gott “bedingungslos” vergibt.

That hits the emergent nail on the emergent head.  And explains the proclivity of Emergents to accept and approve such things as same sex marriage.  It also explains the views of Rob Bell, chief of the Emergents and his minions.

A Feast of Deliverance: Zwingli’s Theology of the Lord’s Supper

Posted in Books, Theology, Zwingli by Jim on August 20, 2014

voigtlanderI’ve just become aware of a new study of Zwingli’s eucharistic theology. Naturally, I’ve asked my supplier to send along a copy. It looks fantastic.

Zwinglis reformatorische Theologie ist ganz der Ehre Gottes verpflichtet; auch seine Lehre vom Nachtmahl ist dem unter- und zugeordnet. Das Nachtmahl bildet die Scharnierstelle der Unterscheidung und der Zusammengehörigkeit von Gottes »erstem Wort (Gebot)« und dem antwortenden Handeln der Gemeinde, zu dem Erinnern, Gemeinschaft, Kirchenzucht sowie politische Verantwortung gehören und das sein Vorbild in der Pessach-Feier hat. Jesus Christus, der im Geist Anwesende, vergewissert die Gemeinde im Abendmahl ihrer selbst.

Oh boy!

To Brighten Your Day: Lutheran Theology and Eternal Torment

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 19, 2014

With the judgment a complete and eternal separation takes place between the ungodly and the godly. The former are delivered over to eternal damnation, a condition which in Scripture is also called eternal death (“eternal death, eternal damnation, is a condition most miserable through the aggregation of multitudinous evils, and to last forever.” HOLL., (978).) [1] The Holy Scriptures say of them that they are in hell (ᾅδης, שְׁאֹל, a place of torment, [2] in which they suffer, according to the degree of their ungodliness, [3] in bodily and spiritual pains, [4] for their sins, eternally.*

On these four points, Schmid assembles the following citations from the leading Lutheran Theologians-

[1] HOLLAZIUS. (979): “Death eternal is the separation of the unbelieving soul from the beatific sight of God and eternal enjoyment.” QUEN. (I, 565): “Death eternal or damnation is that most unhappy state in which, from the just judgment of God, men who remain unbelieving to the end, being excluded from the beatific sight of God, and associated in the infernal prison with devils, will be tortured eternally (in soul, immediately after its departure from the body, and in both parts of their composite being, at length when sentence has been passed at the final judgment) with the most severe and ineffable torments, to the praise of the divine truth, and the glory and exultation of the godly.” HOLL. (979): “Death eternal is named likewise the second death, Rev. 2:11; 20:6, because it occasions the forfeiture of that other life which man was able to attain when the present life had been completed; besides it is called corruption, Jude 12; Matt. 7:13; everlasting destruction, 2 Thess. 1:9; not as though eternal death were an annihilation of substance, but because it is the forfeiture or the want of happiness, and shame, and everlasting contempt, Dan. 12:2, since there is nothing more contemptible, in the eyes of God, the angels, and the blessed, than the damned, for they will be an abhorring unto all flesh, Is. 66:24; everlasting punishment, Matt. 25:46; tribulation and anguish, Rom. 2:9.” QUEN. (I, 551) presents scriptural proofs from Ps. 49:15, 20; Is. 66:24; Dan. 12:2; Zach. 9:11; Matt. 3:10; Luke 3:17: Matt. 5:22; 25:46; 8:12; Luke 13:27, 28; Matt. 10:28; 13:40, 42; 22:13; 25:41, 46; Luke 16:23. (GRH. (XX, 169) adds: “Reasons and arguments sought (1) from the condition of divine justice, 2 Thess. 1:6; (2) from the curse of the divine law, Deut. 27:26; Matt. 19:16; Rom. 4:15; 1 Thess. 1:10; (3) from the deformity and confusion of sin, Rom. 6:23; (4) from the witness of one’s own conscience; (5) from the tasting of the pains of hell, 2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:5; 30:3; 49:15; 86:13; 88:4; 116:3; (6) from the article concerning the descent of Christ ad inferos; (7) from the resurrection of the wicked; (8) from the administration of the final judgment.”) 

[2] GERHARD. (XX, 175); “The name hell can be received in a twofold manner: (1) for eternal death; (2) for that place (ποῦ), in which they suffer, and to eternity will sustain that most miserable condition and those ineffable tortures. By reason of the former signification, the devils are said to carry about with them their own hell wherever they wander. By reason of the latter, it is said that on the day of judgment they will be cast into hell, and be confined there. In the former signification, the name hell is received internally and formally; in the latter, externally, objectively, and locally, the term used in the article being received in a general sense, according to the language of Scripture, Luke 16:28. What hell is, in the former signification, cannot be understood, more correctly than by collecting and distributing, into certain classes, the descriptions by which, in the Holy Scriptures, the extreme misery of the damned is prefigured. But what hell is, in the latter signification, pertains to a question that is extremely difficult and obscure. Some altogether reject the latter signification, and think that hell should not be defined except by the sense of divine wrath, and of the eternal curse and horror of conscience. But there is no apparent reason why a certain place (ποῦ), in which the damned suffer their punishments, should be denied.” HOLL. (984): “It is certain that the infernal prison is in a real locality (Luke 16:28; 1 Pet. 3:19), separate from the abode of the blessed (Rev. 22:15; Luke 16:23). It is also probable that the same is outside of this habitable world (2 Pet. 3:10: John 12:31; Matt. 8:12); but where this place definitely is, is unknown to men during the present life.”

[3] HOLLAZIUS. (990): “The punishments of hell differ in degree, according to the quality and measure of sins, Matt. 11:24. Luke 12:47; Matt. 23:15.”

[4] HAFFENREFFER. (691): “They are the most exquisite pains of soul and body (for both had sinned), arising from the fear and sense of the most just wrath and vengeance of God against sins, the most sad consciousness of which they carry about with them, the baseness of which is manifest, and of which, likewise, no remission afterwards, and, therefore, no mitigation or end can be hoped for. Whence, in misery, they will execrate, with horrible lamentation and wailing, their former impiety, by which they carelessly neglected the admonitions of their brethren and all the means of attaining salvation; but in vain. For in perpetual anguish, with dreadful trembling, in shame, confusion, and ignominy, in inextinguishable fire, in weeping and gnashing of teeth, amidst that which is eternal and terrible, torn away from the grace and favor of God, they must quake among devils, and will be tortured without end to eternity. These future torments of the damned far surpass all the penetration of the human mind, so that we are not sufficient to ever comprehend in thought their greatness; therefore, what they will be, or of what nature, cannot be at all expressed in words. Scripture, nevertheless, in order to show that these tortures are the greatest and most exquisite, likens them to those things by which, in this life, pain both of soul and body is accustomed to be excited. For this reason they are compared now to the gnashing of teeth, now to worms, now to the most sorrowful darkness, and whatever other matters of sadness and of the most complete pain can be mentioned, Is. 66:24; Matt. 5:22; 8:12; Rev. 19:20.” QUEN. (I, 562): “The form (of eternal death) is the entire mass of evils intended for the damned. These are partly privative, and partly positive. The privative are: (1) forfeiture of the beatific sight of God; Matt. 25:41; 22:13; 8:12; (2) separation from the society of all the good, Matt. 8:11, 12; 22:13; Luke 16:23, 26; (3) exclusion from heavenly light, rest, and happiness, Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Thess. 1:6, 8, 9; (4) entire denial of pity, divine as well as human, Prov. 1:26; Ps. 52:6, 7; 58:10; Luke 16:24, 25; (5) despair of every kind, Rev. 6:16, 17. Of the positive, some are internal, and others external. The internal are those which the damned experience within themselves, viz., the inexplicable pains and tortures of soul, Ps. 18:4, 5; Is. 66:24; Mark 9:44, 46, 48.” (HOLL. (982): “Their intellect will recognize God as the most just judge and the most severe avenger of sins, Ps. 139:7; 2 Thess. 1:9; Wis. 5:3. Their will will be tortured by hatred to God, the greatest sorrow, and raging impatience.”) “The external are those most sorrowful evils, outside of themselves, that they deeply feel, namely, association with devils, Matt. 25:41; a most foul dwelling-place, Matt. 25:30; and most painful burning without being consumed, Luke 16:23, 24; Rev. 14:10, 11; 20:10.” HOLL. (983) answers the question concerning the nature of the fire: “The bodies of the damned will be tortured in infernal fire, properly so called, and, therefore, material. For the sentence of the judge announces a fire, Matt. 25:41, from which smoke ascends, Rev. 14:10, whose flames burn, Luke 16:24. That, therefore, to which the Holy Ghost has ascribed the name, the properties, and the effects of true fire, is not metaphorical, but fire properly so called. But to the infernal fire, etc. Therefore.—But this will not be the element of fire, but that which is altogether peculiar. Ordinary fire burns only bodies; the infernal fire will act also upon souls. The former ceases when fuel fails; the latter does not stand in need of nourishment properly so called. But to desire to explain the nature of infernal fire more explicitly, is a matter of curiosity rather than of profit.”

*The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Verified from the Original Sources. (C. A. Hay & H. E. Jacobs, Trans.) (Second English Edition, Revised according to the Sixth German Edition., pp. 657–660).

In Which Bill Muehlenberg Debunks the ‘God Loves You Just as You Are’ Falsehood

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 19, 2014

In an essay titled, amusingly, ‘Umm, No He Doesn’t‘ M. writes

Who doesn’t what? God. He doesn’t love people just as they are. In fact, he loves people too much to leave them just as they are. People just as they are are sinners alienated from God and headed for a lost eternity. A God of love could never just sit back and allow that to happen.

That is why Jesus came and died a cruel death on a cross for our sake, so that we don’t have to remain as we are, but we can become what we were meant to be. Yet we have too many clueless wonders, especially in the Christian camp, who think otherwise.

Uh oh.  Bill must not want to be popular.  He’s right though.  From pillar to post.  Especially when he writes

A Christian is a sinner who acknowledges that they are sinners, that they deserve the wrath of God, but have availed themselves through faith and repentance of the gracious offer of forgiveness based on the saving work of Christ at Calvary.  No true Christian hangs on to their sin, tries to justify it, and by doing so, calls God a liar, telling him he needs to get with the times.

Quite true.  And though his style is rambunctious (thank heavens I’m not like that), the article is worth your time.

As to the main point- that God loves you ‘just as you are’- it’s only partially true.  He loves you as you are, but he refuses to allow you to remain that way.

Vying for Truth: Theology and the Natural Sciences From the 17th Century to the Present

Posted in Book Review, Books, Theology, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht by Jim on August 18, 2014

A subject of some contemporary interest is addressed in a new work from our friends at V&R (and obtainable in America from ISD).

978-3-525-54028-2The emancipation of the natural sciences from religion was a gradual affair during the last four centuries. Initially many of the leading scientists were churchmen indicating a symbiosis between faith and reason. Due to the increasing specialization in the sciences this close connection came to an end often leading to antagonism and mutual suspicion. This book traces this historical development with its twists and turns in both Europe and North America. It depicts the major players in this story and outlines their specific contributions. The main focus is on the 19th and 20th centuries with figures such as Darwin and Hodge, but also Beecher and Abbott in the 19thcentury. In the 20th century the narrative starts with Karl Barth and moves all the way to Hawking and Tipler. Special attention is given to representatives from North America, Great Britain, and Germany. In conclusion important issues are presented in the present-day dialogue between theology and the natural sciences. The issue of design and fine-tuning is picked up, and advances in brain research. Finally technological issues are assessed and the status of medicine as a helpmate for life is discussed. An informative and thought-provoking book.

It looks engaging.  Maybe he will convince me that science isn’t just the guesswork of secularist religionists operating under the guise of objectivity.

Will Oremus Has it Right Concerning the #IceBucketChallenge

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 17, 2014

He writes in Slate

… it’s hard to shake the feeling that, for most of the people posting ice bucket videos of themselves on Facebook, Vine, and Instagram, the charity part remains a postscript. Remember, the way the challenge is set up, the ice-drenching is the alternative to contributing actual money. Some of the people issuing the challenges have tweaked the rules by asking people to contribute $10 even if they do soak themselves. Even so, a lot of the participants are probably spending more money on bagged ice than on ALS research.

As for “raising awareness,” few of the videos I’ve seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used. More than anything else, the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt.

That’s why I’m proposing what is sure to be an unpopular alternative to the #icebucketchallenge. It’s called the no ice bucket challenge, and it works like this:

  1. Do not fetch a bucket, fill it with ice, or dump it on your head.
  2. Do not film yourself or post anything on social media.
  3. Just donate the damn money, whether to the ALS Association or to some other charity of your choice. And if it’s an organization you really believe in, feel free to politely encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Congratulations! Not only have you contributed to a good cause, but you’ve done your part for the environment by conserving the energy and fresh water required to make and transport large bags of ice.

It’s impossible to avoid the feeling that 99% of the people doing the ‘Challenge’ are just interested in hitching their wagon to a fad and couldn’t really care less about the cause.

At any event, for Christians, all such showmanship is contrary to the teaching of Jesus, who tells his followers to do their alms in secret and not to let their left hand know what their right hand is doing.  This precludes, then, all bragging on social media.

Churches That Advertise: An Observation

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 17, 2014

I never trust a church that feels compelled to advertise.  If the lives of its members aren’t sufficient advertisement, I want no part of it.  If you have to try that hard to entice people to visit your facilities, then either your members aren’t living the Gospel in their daily lives or you simply want more bodies to fill seats and give money.   Jesus told us to make disciples, not advertise facilities or ‘exciting services’.

Into the Eucharistic Fray

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 17, 2014

On 17 August, 1525 (a very, very busy year for Zwingli) he published his Subsidium sive coronis de eucharistia which he dedicated thusly:

Clarissimis viris Bartolemaeo a Madiis, Bernensium a soenatu, Volfgango et Claudio filiis, Jacobo et Benedicto nepotibus ac pronepotibus eius totique genti Huldrychus Zuinglius, gratiam et pacem a deo.

The book came to life, according to Zwingli, as a result of a dream he had in which in a moment of inspiration, he saw clearly, for the first time, the true meaning of the Supper.   Specifically, he remarks that Exodus 12 came to mind while he was lying in bed and that he sprang to his feet, opened his Septuagint (which he apparently kept right at his bedside) and read it.  The next day, they discussed it at the Prophezei and that discussion became the outline of the present book.

What, you may be wondering, has Ex 12 to do with the Eucharist?  Zwingli noted in explaining his discovery that just as the events of the Passover were ‘memorialized’ in the passover meal, so too the death of Jesus was ‘memorialized’ in the Supper.

On The Wrath of God: An Observation

Posted in Theology by Jim on August 16, 2014

The people who most dislike the concept of God’s wrath being expended on wickedness are the very one’s who have the most reason to dislike it.  Which is why they do.  Accordingly, whenever a person only wishes to talk about God’s grace but not about God’s rage, you can rest assured that they have plenty to be nervous about.


Posted in Books, Theology, TVZ by Jim on August 14, 2014

9783290176433«Freundschaft» bezeichnet eine Grundstruktur menschlichen Zusammenlebens. Das Nachdenken darüber reicht bis in die Anfänge der abendländischen Philosophie zurück. Freundschaft spielt auch in der christlichen Theologie eine grosse Rolle. Allerdings hat das Verständnis von Freundschaft im Laufe der Geschichte erhebliche Wandlungen erfahren. Genauso wie Freundschaftsbande als unverzichtbar für ein gelingendes Leben betrachtet werden, als so prägnant werden auch ihre Zerbrechlichkeit und permanente Gefährdung oft diskutiert. Aktuell begegnet Freundschaft als Korrektiv hinsichtlich der vielbeschriebenen Individualisierungsprozesse in modernen arbeitsteiligen Gesellschaften. Aber geht die Sozialkapitalrechnung mit der Freundschaft auf? Kann Freundschaft leisten, was der Begriff in seiner Geschichte und in der Gegenwart zu versprechen scheint?

Herausgeber/-innen-  Matthias Zeindler, Dr. theol., Jahrgang 1958, ist Titularprofessor für Systematische Theologie/Dogmatik an der Theologischen Fakultät Bern und Leiter Bereich Theologie der Reformierten Kirchen Bern-Jura-Solothurn.

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