Politicians Aren’t Servants, They’re Slaves, Bought and Paid For

And serving their masters, their owners.  And that isn’t you.

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Today With Zwingli

bucerOn the 23rd of June, 1530 Martin Bucer wrote Zwingli a letter which contained this line:

“Nothing more intolerant can be imagined than the hatred which the Lutherans have against us.”

Zwingli received the letter on June 25.  Bucer managed to sum up the situation in the Holy Roman Empire and its environs nearly perfectly.

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Jackson’s Description of Zwingli’s First Days in Zurich, and of the Man Himself

On Saturday, January 1, 1519, he presented himself to the assembled canons [of Zurich], and was formally inducted into his office as people’s priest. … Zwingli thanked them for electing him, requested their prayers and the prayers of the congregation, and then announced that he would begin the next day the continuous exposition of the Gospel of Matthew, not according to the Fathers, but according to the Scriptures themselves. This announcement made a decided sensation, as it was a marked deviation from the practice of following the pericopes and interpreting them patristically, and awakened some adverse criticism.

Of stalwart frame, above middle height, of a ruddy countenance and pleasing expression, he made a good impression upon spectators, and when he spoke he soon showed that he was an orator who could enchain the attention. All Zurich, and indeed all Switzerland, rang with his praise. And not only town people but the country folk also listened to him with delight. For the benefit of the latter he preached every Friday, which was market-day, in the market-place, and took the Psalms for continuous exposition. On Sundays in the cathedral he expounded during his first four years, and in this order, Matthew, Acts, I. Timothy, Galatians, II. Timothy, I. and II. Peter, and Hebrews. — S.M. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531).

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No, People Are Not All The Same…

And no, everyone isn’t ‘just as good’ as everyone else.  People who think so are either blind or stupid.  Donald Trump, for instance, is not as good a person as Mother Theresa and no one in their right mind thinks otherwise.  And no, a mother who murders her children is not ‘just as good’ as a mother who loves and protects her children.

Stop being dismissive of evil.  It doesn’t help anyone.

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Total Depravity: The Texas Mom (of course) Who Killed Her Kids to Teach Them a Lesson

A Texas woman told investigators that she left her 2-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son in a hot car where they died last month to teach the girl a lesson and that they didn’t lock themselves in, as she initially reported, according to sheriff’s officials.

Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, was being held Saturday on two counts of causing serious bodily injury to a child. It wasn’t clear if she had an attorney — online jail records didn’t list one for her — and she doesn’t have a listed phone number.

According to the criminal complaint, Randolph initially told investigators she was inside her rural home west of Fort Worth folding laundry and watching TV on May 26 while the children were playing on the enclosed back porch. She said when she noticed they were no longer there, she went looking for them and found them about a half-hour later locked in the car. The children were unresponsive and Randolph said she broke a window to gain entry. Temperatures that day reached into the mid-90s.

At the time Randolph said the kids were exposed to the extreme temperatures in the car for “no more than an hour.” But her account of that day changed over the course of several interviews with investigators until she acknowledged on Friday that she left them in the car intentionally, the Parker County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. She told investigators that she found the kids playing in the car and when the 2-year-old refused to get out, she shut the door to teach her a lesson, thinking her daughter could get herself and her brother out of the vehicle when ready.

Randolph said she went back into the house, smoked marijuana and took a nap for two or three hours, the complaint states. It says that when she woke up and went to check on the children, they were unresponsive, and that she broke the car window to support her initial claim that the children had locked themselves inside.


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Signs of the Times

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Kappel. June 25. 1529.

The First Kappel War ended on this day in 1529.

After several negotiations, a treaty of Peace was concluded June 25, 1529, between Zuerich, Bern, Basel, St. Gall, and the cities of Muehlhausen and Biel on the one hand, and the five Catholic Cantons on the other. The deputies of Glarus, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, Appenzell, Graubuenden, Sargans, Strassburg, and Constanz acted as mediators.

The treaty was not all that Zwingli desired, especially as regards the abolition of the pensions and the punishment of the dispensers of pensions (wherein he was not supported by Bern), but upon the whole it was favorable to the cause of the Reformation.

The first and most important of the Eighteen Articles of the treaty recognizes, for the first time in Europe, the principle of parity or legal equality of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches,—a principle which twenty-six years afterwards was recognized also in Germany (by the Augsburger Religionsfriede of 1555), but which was not finally settled there till after the bloody baptism of the Thirty Years’ War, in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), against which the Pope of Rome still protests in vain. (Schaff)

Regrettably the peace would not hold, and just over 2 years later the disastrous Second Kappel War would see the end of Zwingli’s life.  But not the end of his influence nor the end of his Reform.

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Melanchthon: On What Pleases God

melanchnullum Deo gratius est officium, quam veritatis et iustitiae studium et propagatio. nam haec sunt praecipua Dei dona, in quibus Dei praesentia maxime cerni potest. – Philipp Melanchthon

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Who is A Theologian?

“Anybody who wishes to be a theologian must have a mastery of the Scriptures, so that he may have an explanation for whatever can be alleged against any passage.”  –  Martin Luther

If someone has no skill in accurate exegesis he or she is no theologian.

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This is why We Find Politicians Despicable

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Martin Luther on Death and Dying

Here’s an interesting essay you will enjoy very much.

In the late 15th century, when Martin Luther was born and grew up, death was very much present. Family, friends, and neighbors seldom reached what we today would consider a middle age, and women of childbearing age were at special risk. Catholic clergy took pains to offer Christians at every social level ways in which they could prepare themselves for the happiest possible afterlife.

When Martin Luther joined the order of Augustinian Eremite Friars in 1505, he had never read a Bible. He now gained access to one that the brothers of the Erfurt house had in their library. Luther read it intently. He found that numerous Catholic points of theology and practice were not validated in scripture. In 1517, he chose the issue of indulgences on which to attack church practice, in view of the fact that the ordinary people in Wittenberg to whom he regularly preached—he was not their pastor—sacrificed a great deal to pay for certificates of indulgence.

As a result of his encounter with the Bible, Luther proceeded to dismantle long-standing Catholic belief concerning death and treatment of the dead. He disqualified the Virgin, saints, and priests as intermediaries between individual souls and God. He insisted that as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve, humans could not perform good deeds to earn themselves entry to Heaven. They had, instead, to rely on the atoning power of Christ’s death on the cross to pay the penalties that they deserved for their continual sinning. Those who had faith in the atonement would be saved. Justification by faith supplanted a theology of justification by good works.

Etc.  Do enjoy.

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The Only Commentary Your Parents or Children Will Ever Read

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.


The books are all available from yours truly for a paltry $199 by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary. But don’t take my word for it:

Dr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.

In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.

The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.

Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre

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Fun Facts From Church History: The Augsburg Confession

“Melanchthon began the preparation [for the Confession] at Coburg, with the aid of Luther, in April, and finished it at Augsburg, June 24. He labored on it day and night, so that Luther had to warn him against over-exertion. “I command you,” he wrote to him May 12, “and all your company that they compel you, under pain of excommunication, to take care of your poor body, and not to kill yourself from imaginary obedience to God. We serve God also by taking holiday and rest.” – Schaff

These days folk take years to write considerably less and considerably less important.

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Total Depravity: The Tax Fraud Televangelist Edition

North Carolina televangelist Todd Coontz – author of numerous books on faith and finances – has been indicted on charges of tax fraud spanning more than a decade.

“As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order,” Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said as she announced the charges. “Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due.”

The charges include three counts of failure to pay tax, each carrying a maximum federal prison term of one year, and four counts of aiding and assisting in filing false tax returns, each carrying a maximum term of three years.

Coontz, 50, is described on his website as a “pastor, evangelist, television host, author, humanitarian, philanthropist, businessman.” He currently lives in Florida and the books he’s written include Breaking the Spirit Debt and Please Don’t Repo My Car.

But the real depraved are the ‘Christians’ who know so little about their faith that they actually shoveled this guy money.

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Signs of the Times


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On Translating: Jerome

Horace too, an acute and learned writer, in his Art of Poetry gives the same advice to the skilled translator:—

And care not thou with over anxious thought
To render word for word.

Terence has translated Menander; Plautus and Cæcilius the old comic poets. Do they ever stick at words? Do they not rather in their versions think first of preserving the beauty and charm of their originals?

Jerome, in other words, advises translators to translate sense and not woodenly and literally.  That is, it must be said, what distinguishes good translations from bad: beginners from seasoned pros.  In fact, you can easily spot an unskilled translation by a beginning translator if the text is hobbled by an overly unwieldy literalism.

Beginners think that the purpose of translation is to render one word in one language into one word in another language.  But nothing destroys meaning quite as quickly.

Experts understand that living within the language one is translating, immersing oneself in it, and thus thinking in it is the only way to reliably bring it from one tongue into another.

When translators can read a sentence and put the sense of it, and cling to the sense of it, in another language, they have arrived.

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Mohr Siebeck sent this volume (encyclopedia really) for review some time back and I’ve finally worked through the massive work.  My review will post tomorrow.  But take note, it will assert that there’s a bit good, a bit bad, and a bit ugly.

Glaube: Das Verständnis des Glaubens im frühen Christentum und in seiner jüdischen und hellenistisch-römischen Umwelt, Hrsg. v. Jörg Frey, Benjamin Schliesser u. Nadine Ueberschaer, unter Mitarbeit von Kathrin Hager, 2017. XXV, 957 Seiten. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 373.

»Glaube« wurde im frühen Christentum zum zentralen religiösen Begriff und zur beherrschenden Bezeichnung des Gottesverhältnisses. Keine jüdische oder griechisch-römische Schrift vor oder neben dem Neuen Testament verwendet das Wortfeld »Glaube« in vergleichbarer Dichte. Zugleich ist die frühchristliche Rede vom Glauben eingebunden in ein komplexes Geflecht von Vorstellungen und Bildern, die den Verstehenshorizont der Adressatinnen und Adressaten bedingen und dem Wort »Glaube« kommunikative Bedeutung verleihen. Der vorliegende Band enthält Untersuchungen zum Verständnis des Glaubens in den Schriften des Neuen Testaments sowie in grundlegenden Texten des Alten Testaments, des antiken und rabbinischen Judentums, der griechisch-römischen Welt, der Apostolischen Väter und der Alten Kirche. Kirchengeschichtliche und systematisch-theologische Reflexionen zum Glaubensbegriff beschließen ihn.


  • – Benjamin Schliesser: Faith in Early Christianity. An Encyclopedic and Bibliographical Outline
  • Anja Klein: »Wie hast Du’s mit dem Glauben, Israel«. Der Glaubensbegriff im Alten Testament
  • Frank Ueberschaer: Πίστις in der Septuaginta, oder: Der Glaube der Siebzig. Von was spricht die Septuaginta, wenn sie von πίστις schreibt?
  • Friedrich Reiterer: Dimensionen des Glaubens. Das Zeugnis spätalttestamentlicher Schriften in der Septuaginta
  • Anke Dorman: Abraham’s Happiness and Faith in the Book of Jubilees
  • Martina Böhm: Zum Glaubensverständnis des Philo von Alexandrien. Weisheitliche Theologie in der 1. Hälfte des 1. Jh. n. Chr.
  • Dennis R. Lindsay: Πίστις in Flavius Josephus and the New Testament
  • Stefan Krauter: »Glaube« im Zweiten Makkabäerbuch
  • Michael Tilly: Der Begriff des »Glaubens« in der rabbinischen Traditionsliteratur – Peter Arzt-Grabner: Zum alltagssprachlichen Hintergrund von πίστις. Das Zeugnis der dokumentarischen Papyri
  • Rainer Hirsch-Luipold: Religiöse Tradition und individueller Glaube. Πίστις und πιστεύειν bei Plutarch als Hintergrund zum neutestamentlichen Glaubensverständnis
  • Teresa Morgan: Πίστις Between Theology, Ethics, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology
  • Thomas Schumacher: Den Römern ein Römer. Die paulinischen Glaubensaussagen vor dem Hintergrund des römisch-lateinischen fides -Begriffes
  • Michael Wolter: Die Wirklichkeit des Glaubens. Ein Versuch zur Bedeutung des Glaubens bei Paulus
  • Jakob Spaeth: Der Glaube des Einzelnen und der Glaube der Gemeinschaft im Ersten Korintherbrief
  • Christfried Böttrich: Glaube im lukanischen Doppelwerk
  • Matthias Konradt: Die Rede vom Glauben in Heilungsgeschichten und die Messianität Jesu im Matthäusevangelium
  • Nadine Ueberschaer: »… damit ihr glaubt, dass Jesus der Christus ist, der Sohn Gottes…«. Das Johannesevangelium als Medium der Glaubensvermittlung
  • Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr: Glaube im Stresstest. Πίστις im Jakobusbrief
  • Benjamin Schliesser: Glauben und Denken im Hebräerbrief und bei Paulus. Zwei frühchristliche Perspektiven auf die Rationalität des Glaubens
  • Bernhard Mutschler: Kanonische »Vollender des Glaubens«? Integrierender und belastbarer Glaube als Grundbegriff des Christseins in den Pastoralbriefen und die Frage nach der Bedeutung des Glaubens im (frühen) Christentum
  • Jörg Frey: Between Holy Tradition and Christian Virtues? The Use of πίστις / πιστεύειν in Jude and 2 Peter
  • Bernhard Mutschler: Glaube als Transformationsraum für Kirche und Gemeinde? Zum Glaubensverständnis des Polykarp von Smyrna
  • Wolfgang Grünstäudl: Kontinuität und Innovation. Πίστις im Ersten Clemensbrief und den Ignatianen
  • Jim Kelhoffer: Faith and Righteousness in Second Clement : Probing the Purported Influence of ‘Late Judaism’ and the Beginnings of ‘Early Catholicism’
  • Beatrice Wyss: Gott denken oder Gott glauben: Zur Rolle der Πίστις in den Stromateis des Klemens
  • Tobias Nicklas/Veronika Niederhofer: »Glaube« und »Glauben« in den apokryphen Akten des Paulus und der Thekla
  • Enno Edzard Popkes: Glaube und Erkenntnis – die Soteriologie des Johannesevangeliums und des Thomasevangeliums als Kontrast- und Konkurrenzkonzepte
  • Peter Opitz: Die Rezeption des paulinischen Glaubensverständnisses in der reformierten Tradition am Beispiel von Heinrich Bullingers Römerbriefauslegung
  • Volker Leppin: Sola fide und monastische Existenz. Die Amalgamierung von Paulus und Mystik in Luthers Römerbriefauslegung
  • Anne Käfer: Glaube als Beziehungsfrage. Ein fundamentaltheologisches Gespräch mit Karl Barth und Friedrich Schleiermacher
  • Johanna Rahner: Glaube. Katholische Thesen zu einem scheinbar protestantischen Thema


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Calvin Knew Something The Emergents, the Seeker Sensitives, and the Mega-Churches Will Never Know…

Those who are strong only in fervor and sharpness, but are not fortified with solid doctrine, weary themselves in their vigorous efforts, make a great noise, rave, [and] make no headway because they build without a foundation.  — John Calvin

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Please Remember, There’s Just a Week Left…

Before the June Carnival goes live.  Send in those submissions!    Join these bloggers in the  Carnival Hall of Fame!

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