Indecent America

Americans don’t really care about bullying any more than they really care about gun violence. If decent people were in the majority, the laws would reflect that decency. America has indecent laws because it has indecent law makers because it has indecent voters.

The Birth of a Friendship

Johannes OecolampadiusON December 10, 1522, Oecolampadius of Basel wrote to Zwingli a very friendly letter in which he expressed an even extravagant admiration of Zwingli, based entirely upon report, as he had never met him. This was the beginning of a frequent and intimate correspondence, for the two became true yoke-fellows in the cause of the Reformation. Though living in different cities their relation bears a resemblance to that between Luther and Melanchthon—in that Oecolampadius was Zwingli’s wise counsellor and efficient coadjutor, yet distinctly of secondary importance.

The first letter of Zwingli’s preserved from the year 1523, is to Oecolampadius. It is dated January 14th. He disclaims the latter’s praise, and with equal warmth commends his correspondent’s learning, piety, and zeal. To him he announces the “contest” which the Council had decreed, and rumour had it that John Faber, vicar-general of Constance, would be present. Then sarcastically he adds: “May God bring it about that he be not held back, so that Rome and Constance may not be defrauded of their accustomed triumphs … such as up to the present they have been able to carry off.”*

The ‘contest’ is of course the First Zurich Disputation.  The best friendships are often forged in the furnace of conflict.  That Zwingli and Oecolampadius had a true friendship is beyond question.  And it all started with a letter.

*S. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531), pp. 179-180.

Luther Burns Your Bull

Our Saxon friends write

“Exsurge Domine” (Latin: Arise O Lord) is a papal bull issued on 15 June 1520 by Pope Leo X. It was written in response to the teachings of Martin Luther which opposed the views of the Church. It censured forty one propositions extracted from Luther’s 95 theses and subsequent writings, and threatened him with excommunication unless he recanted within a sixty-day period commencing upon the publication of the bull in Saxony and its neighboring regions. Luther refused to recant and responded instead by composing polemical tracts lashing out at the papacy and by publicly burning a copy of the bull on 10 December 1520.

‪#‎Luther‬ ‪#‎OnThisDay‬

Luther would be burning a lot of bull if he were alive today.  A LOT.


Today With Zwingli: Reforming the Mass

zwingliIn a rather brief document presented by the leading theologians of the three Great Churches in Zurich, Zwingli and his colleagues offered the Cantonal authorities their advice as how to best address the issues of the Mass and Images in the Churches.

Though of not much significance to us, in the 16th century the reformation of the Mass and the issue of images were central to debates between Reformed and Roman.

Zwingli et al commence thusly concerning the mass:

Zum ersten ist ir meinung nit, daß dem fronlichnam und bluot Cristi Jesu hie nüt gemindert oder abzogen sölle oder möge werden, sonder daß er nach der uffsetzung Cristi und nüt anders geprucht werde; dann eß nit ein ding ist, von dem fronlichnam und bluot Cristi reden und von der mäß. Eß wirt ouch der nam der mäß und bruch im wort gottes niendert funden. Aber der bruch deß fronlichnams und bluots Cristi hat in dem offnen wort gottes grund und bruch. Wo ouch der fronlichnam und bluot Cristi und die mäß ein ding were, so volgte, daß ein ieder, so den fronlichnam und bluot Cristi nüsse, ouch mäß hielte; daß aber nit ist.

The advice of these three theologians was accepted and their suggestions enacted.  Indeed, as Schaff opines

By these preparatory measures, public opinion was prepared for the practical application of the new ideas. The old order of worship had to be abolished before the new order could be introduced. The destruction was radical, but orderly. It was effected by the co-operation of the preachers and the civil magistracy, with the consent of the people.

It began at Pentecost, and was completed June 20, 1524.

In the presence of a deputation from the authorities of Church and State, accompanied by architects, masons and carpenters, the churches of the city were purged of pictures, relics, crucifixes, altars, candles, and all ornaments, the frescoes effaced, and the walls whitewashed, so that nothing remained but the bare building to be filled by a worshiping congregation. The pictures were broken and burnt, some given to those who had a claim, a few preserved as antiquities. The bones of the saints were buried. Even the organs were removed, and the Latin singing of the choir abolished, but fortunately afterwards replaced by congregational singing of psalms and hymns in the vernacular (in Basle as early as 1526, in St. Gall 1527, in Zurich in 1598).

“Within thirteen days,” says Bullinger, “all the churches of the city were cleared; costly works of painting and sculpture, especially a beautiful table in the Waterchurch, were destroyed. The superstitious lamented; but the true believers rejoiced in it as a great and joyous worship of God.”

In the following year the magistracy melted, sold, or gave away the rich treasures of the Great Minster and the Frauenminster,—chalices, crucifixes, and crosses of gold and silver, precious relics, clerical robes, tapestry, and other ornaments. In 1533 not a copper’s worth was left in the sacristy of the Great Minster.

Zwingli justified this vandalism by the practice of a conquering army to spike the guns and to destroy the forts and provisions of the enemy, lest he might be tempted to return.

The same work of destruction took place in the village churches in a less orderly way. Nothing was left but the bare buildings, empty, cold and forbidding.The Swiss Reformers proceeded on a strict construction of the second commandment as understood by Jews and Moslems. They regarded all kinds of worship paid to images and relics as a species of idolatry. They opposed chiefly the paganism of popery; while Luther attacked its legalistic Judaism, and allowed the pictures to remain as works of art and helps to devotion.

For the classical literature of Greece and Rome, however, Zwingli had more respect than Luther. It should be remarked also that he was not opposed to images as such any more than to poetry and music, but only to their idolatrous use in churches. In his reply to Valentin Compar of Uri (1525), he says, “The controversy is not about images which do not offend the faith and the honor of God, but about idols to which divine honors are paid. Where there is no danger of idolatry, the images may remain; but idols should not be tolerated. All the papists tell us that images are the books for the unlearned. But where has God commanded us to learn from such books?”

He thought that the absence of images in churches would tend to increase the hunger for the Word of God. The Swiss iconoclasm passed into the Reformed Churches of France, Holland, Scotland, and North America. In recent times a reaction has taken place, not in favor of image worship, which is dead and gone, but in favor of Christian art; and more respect is paid to the decency and beauty of the house of God and the comfort of worshipers.

Upcoming Colloquia

The ETCBC would like to welcome all who are interested to our upcoming colloquiums throughout the Spring semester. We will have a variety of speakers, touching on topics such as Hebrew vocabulary training and statistical approaches to diachronic Hebrew language change. See the full schedule below. You can always check our Google Calendar to see the most up to date event information.

Go here for the list.

I Know What Luther Would Say to These ‘Lutherans’- And They Wouldn’t Like It

This essay addresses the recent ‘transgender service’ at a Lutheran ‘Church’ in Minnesota:

There is Christianity.  There is liberal Christianity, which stretches the term considerably.  There is heretical Christianity, which is outside the pale but at least claims to still be Christian.  At what point, though, does a religious expression cease to be Christian altogether?  Consider the “Transgender Day of Remembrance” Communion service at the ELCA’s Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, on November 15.

You can watch the service here, on YouTube.  If you don’t want to watch all 59 minutes, I’ll give you just a few highlights.

Instead of beginning “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” two of those terms being construed as sexist, the invocation in this service is “in the name of Creator, Christ, and the Holy Breath.”

There is a confession of sins, but it expresses our failure to be wild and free.  The absolution tells us that all shackles are broken and that God accepts us as we are.

The service avoids male terms for God–He, Him, Father, Lord–but then goes all in for gendered language to refer to God.  When it comes time to say the Lord’s Prayer, it is addressed to “Our mother who art in heaven.”

God is thereby transgendered!

We could go on, but let’s stop there.

He doesn’t actually stop.  He just stops talking about the ‘service’.  Read more at

I know what Luther would say to that ‘Church’-

Whoever tolerates and listens to you should know that they are listening to the devil himself, incarnate and abominable, as he speaks out of the mouth of a possessed person.

Jerusalem, End Times Gibberish, And False Teaching

The notion that there will be some sort of ‘rapture’ followed by some sort of ‘reign of Antichrist’ followed by some earthly kingdom that lasts 1000 years followed by some terrible battle followed by the destruction of all unbelievers followed by the eternal kingdom of Heaven is entirely unscriptural.

It stems from a doctrinal system invented out of the over fertile imaginations of ‘dispensationalists’ in the 19th century.  It has no basis in exegesis of Scripture and instead offers a false reading of Scripture.

It is popular with Christian Zionists and others who have little familiarity with the proper interpretation of Scripture.  These Christian Zionists heretically exalt Israel, the modern State, to a rank above all other nations and by doing so attribute to the modern city of Jerusalem an unhealthy and false importance.  At the same time they denigrate both Palestinians and other Arabs and discount their legitimate concerns in favor of the Jews, which they portray as the eternal ‘people of God’ (unless those Jews repent and receive Messiah, in which case they will roast like all the rest).

Christian Zionists teach untruth- because they accept an untruthful doctrinal system.  The political consequences of their false teaching have stained and soiled American foreign policy since the rise of AIPAC and other Zionist organizations.

Christian Zionists have found strange bedfellows in Jewish Zionists- whose aim is also the ultimate extermination of the Palestinians in their ever growing thirst for Lebensraum in the West Bank and other Palestinian areas.  Both Jewish Zionists and Christian Zionists distort Scripture.  As such, both should not be supported by people of faith.

Don’t be fooled by false exegesis based on a false hermeneutic.  Learn what Scripture actually says and turn your back on the gibberish that passes for exposition in unlearned and ignorant corners of Christianity.

Zwingli’s Love of Music Led Him To Abandon it in Worship

Simply put, because he loved God more.

Zwingli's House, Zurich

Zwingli’s House, Zurich

The most radical change which Zwingli made in the Church service at Zurich was to do away with both instrumental and vocal music. This action was the more strange since Zwingli himself was a very accomplished musician, being able to play upon different instruments and also to sing well; yet in the course of the year 1525 he suspended the choir-singing and on December 9, 1527, had the organ of the Great Minster broken up and insisted that similar action should be taken by the other churches in the city and canton.

His motive was twofold; first, because all this music was inseparably connected with the Roman Church worship and he desired to remove as far as possible the Reformed congregations from all association with the past; and second, because the words of the music were in Latin and therefore unintelligible to the people and he desired to have every part of the Reformed worship in the vernacular.*

If music doesn’t serve worship it doesn’t belong in the Service. Modern churches could, and should, learn from this important theological principle. Indeed, if people were honest they would admit that most music in churches has more to do with entertainment or the self aggrandizement of the musicians than it has to do with the Glory of God.

*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (Heroes of the Reformation; New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 290.

Calvin On Those Who Lie About Faith

zwingli_calvinHow does [John] prove that they are liars who boast that they have faith without piety? even by the contrary effect; for he has already said, that the knowledge of God is efficacious. For God is not known by a naked imagination, since he reveals himself inwardly to our hearts by the Spirit. Besides, as many hypocrites vainly boast that they have faith, the Apostle charges all such with falsehood. –  John Calvin

It’s not hard to imagine what Calvin would say about Trump, Moore, Falwell Jr, Metaxas, White, and the rest of Trump’s religious advisory council…