Something to Remember, Always

Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side. Do not be bold of tongue, yet idle and slack in deed. (Sir. 4:28-29)

Luther: On Atheists

There was mention of a citizen of Wittenberg who was an atheist and who confessed publicly before the town council that he had not received communion for fifteen years. To this Dr. Martin Luther said, “We’ve been sufficiently forbearing with him. After a couple of admonitions I’ll publicly declare that he’s excommunicated and is to be treated like a dog. If in view of this anybody associates with him, let him do so at his own risk. If the unbeliever dies in this condition, let him be buried in the carrion pit like a dog. As an excommunicated person we’ll turn him over to the civil laws.”  –  Luther’s Table Talk

I love Luther’s honest forthrightness.  Sure, he was wrong about some stuff but you just can’t ever accuse him of pandering or equivocating and these days I find that refreshing.

Was he harsh?  You bet.  But so far as he was concerned there was something harsher- death and hell.  He was trying to keep people from experiencing the latter since the former was inevitable.  This makes him miles superior to the likes of Warren and Rob Bell and the other array of self-aggrandizing self promoters.

Theologians Under Hitler

You can watch it here.

DISCLAIMER: I haven’t seen it yet, but will watch it later.  View it at your own discretion, as I can’t vouch for its accuracy.

You Needn’t Even Ask…

People show you who, or what, their God or god is every day.

How Christians Are Supposed to Act as Members of a Community

Each of us must consider his neighbour’s good, so that we support one another. Christ did not indulge his own feelings, either; indeed, as scripture says: The insults of those who insult you fall on me. And all these things which were written so long ago were written so that we, learning perseverance and the encouragement which the scriptures give, should have hope. (Rom. 15:2-4)

Selfishness is not a Christian virtue.  Selfishness is just a sin.

Bullinger on the Notion of Transubstantiation

We do not acknowledge any transubstantiation to be made by force of words or characters; but we affirm, that the bread and wine remain as they are in their own substances, but that there is added unto them the institution, will, and word of Christ, and so become a sacrament, and so differ much from common bread and wine, as we have said in place convenient.

And

Now it is evident and plain, that after consecration there remaineth in the sacrament the substance of bread and wine; and herein we need no other witnesses than our very senses, which perceive, see, taste, and feel, no other thing than bread and wine.

Amen.

Fun Facts From Church History: While Luther Was Away, Karlstadt Did Play

According to the editor of Luther’s works (English),

After October 13, 1521, masses were no longer celebrated in the Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg; on October 17, Karlstadt presided at a disputation where it was, proposed that all masses be abolished. On other occasions he expressed himself about images, etc., in such phrases as: “Organs belong only to theatrical exhibitions and princes’ palaces”; “Images in churches are wrong”; “Painted idols standing on altars are even more harmful and devilish.”

He wasn’t wrong.  But those remarks didn’t calm things down.  On the contrary-

The impact of such ideas and sentiments upon a student body and a populace which had seen their famous professor publicly burn the volumes of canon law and even the papal bull which excommunicated him, inevitably led to demonstrations, some hilarious, others destructive. On October 5 and 6, 1521, a crowd of students jeered and threatened a monk of St. Anthony who had come to Wittenberg to collect alms for his order.  On November 12, the prior of the Augustinian cloister complained to the elector that some monks who had left the cloister had joined forces with citizens and students to stir up trouble for the monks who remained faithful, and that he himself hesitated to appear on the street for fear of being attacked.

Reports of extreme measures and consequent unrest in Wittenberg gave Luther such concern that he determined to pay a secret visit to Wittenberg in his assumed character of “Junker Georg,” wearing a beard and the trappings of a knight. Traveling by way of Leipzig, he arrived in Wittenberg on December 4, 1521, lodging at the home of his colleague, Amsdorf, where he was able to confer with a few of his most intimate friends. After a stay of three days, when rumors of his presence began to spread, he departed as quietly as he had come, reaching the Wartburg by December 11.

I like Karlstadt.  Sure, he went crazy eventually and joined the 16th century equivalent of the Montanists (Pentebabbleists), but early on, like Tertullian, he was super fun.

The Fate of All Godless (Politicians)

“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.*

_____________
*Heinrich Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, pp. 659–660.

Anticipation

Resisting Jesus: A Narrative and Intertextual Analysis of Mark’s Portrayal of the Disciples of Jesus

This is a wonderful volume!

Very likely the first of the four Gospels to be written, Mark presents an intriguing and puzzling portrayal of the disciples with predominantly negative overtones. In Resisting Jesus, Mateus de Campos proposes that the evangelist’s characterization should be understood under the rubric of resistance—a willful disposition against Jesus’ self-revelatory program and his discipleship prescriptions.

Utilizing a combination of narrative and intertextual analyses, de Campos demonstrates that Mark’s portrayal of resistance to Jesus follows a specific plot dynamic that finds its fundamental framework in the Scriptural depiction of YHWH’s relationship with Israel. The study provides fresh insights into how the evangelist’s negative characterization of the disciples fosters a Scripturally-informed reflection and admonition concerning the nature of discipleship.

The link above will let you download the front and back matter and view the table of contents for this genuinely extraordinary work.  The work follows a clear and precise pattern of theory and assemblage of evidence concerning said theory.  After introducing his subject and overviewing past scholarship, de Campos leads readers through Mark’s scriptural framework and its impact on the entire narrative and on to the heart of the matter: the ‘episodes of resistance’ themselves.  Lastly he summarizes his findings.  There then is provided a bibliography and the usual indices of sources and authors and subjects.

The volume at hand is a revised edition of de Campos’s doctoral dissertation, submitted to the University of Cambridge under the supervision of James Paget and with input from the likes of Nathan MacDonald, Jeffrey Gibson, Elizabeth Struthers Malbon and others.

Why are the disciples so dense?  Or at least, so apparently dense?  It’s a question readers of the Gospel of Mark have struggled with for a very long time.  Mark doesn’t seem to have any interest in complimenting them.  Indeed, he appears to wish to paint them in the most negative light possible.

But as de Campos shows, that is hardly what is going on here.  Mark is instead showing that the willful failings of the inner circle of Jesus’ followers is actually an indication of the challenge of discipleship itself.  Mark, in other words, shows the disciples to resist Jesus precisely because he wishes to instruct Jesus’ followers on the difficulties of discipleship itself.  That’s the goal of the portrayal of the disciples.

Furthermore, de Campos’ investigation leads him to suggest that the portrayal of the disciples in Mark ‘encapsulates the whole trajectory of Israel’s relationship with YHWH’ (p. 220).  Scholarship will need to think about what is being suggested here for many years to come.  Indeed, this may be the most important observation which de Campos offers, for it opens the door to a whole range of future inquiries regarding the shadows cast by the writers of the Old Testament onto the authors of the New.  There may well be far more influence of the OT on the NT than has previously been appreciated.

The present study sheds interesting light on on old problem in a way that few revised dissertations have.  The clarity of de Campos’ prose;  His mastery of the primary and secondary material;  His flashes of brilliant insight.  All these factors make this an eminently readable and incredibly enjoyable experience.

I have a new appreciation both for Mark’s theological artistry and for his intention concerning his portrayal of the original followers of Jesus.  Perhaps they are just small mirrors of discipleship itself, both in terms of the Christian’s relationship to Jesus and in terms of Israel’s relationship to God.

I recommend this book most heartily to you.  I assure you, you will enjoy it very much indeed.

Signs of the Times

More Pentebabbleist Nutbaggery

Via.

I Wonder, Is ‘American Democracy’ Even Worth Saving?

Americans can’t afford health care. Housing is out of the reach of most. The rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer. We spend trillions on defense and a pittance on education.

What’s worth saving? A system that rewards grifters with political power and punishes people who aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth? What’s worth saving? A system so racist that a kneeling Black football player is blackballed but White men and women with power who encouraged and enabled an insurrection needn’t even fear legal subpoenas? That ‘American Democracy’?

Seriously, what’s worth saving? The ‘American way of life’? What is that but an oligarchy controlling all the wealth and bearing none of the burden.

Worth saving?

Paula Fredriksen on Monotheism

Self Love Rules the World

Because Christ’s teachings contradict the interests of selfish men, that’s why the world so generally rises up against it with indignation, even as a country will rise against an invading enemy: for he comes to take away that which is dearest to them; as it is said of Luther, that he meddled with the pope’s crown, and the friars’ bellies; and therefore no wonder if they swarmed all about his ears. Selfishness is so general and deeply rooted in our world that (except with a few self-denying saints) self-love and self-interest rule the world. — Richard Baxter

The Kingdom of Heaven is NOT Like the Brooklyn Public Library

Chiefly because, though freely given, the Kingdom of Heaven does not require you to return what it gives you.  The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a loaning institution, it is a giving institution.

Maybe let theologians write theological pieces, Christian Century…

 

What Are You Supposed to Do If You Have an Ignorant Pastor?

If he be intolerable, through ignorance, heresy, disability, or malignity, forsake him utterly: but if he be tolerable, though weak and cold, and if you cannot remove your dwelling, then public order and your soul’s edification must both be joined as well as you can. In London, or other cities where it is usual, you may go ordinarily to another parish church: but in the country, and where it would be a great offence, you may one part of the day hear in your own parish, and the other at the next, if there be a man much fitter within your reach: but communicating with the church you dwell with. — Richard Baxter

Election Fraud is a Republican Thing

A Colorado judge on Wednesday barred Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters from supervising elections due to the leak of voting-system BIOS passwords to QAnon conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Mesa County registered elector Heidi Jeanne Hess had petitioned the court for a ruling that Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley are unable to perform the functions of the Designated Election Official for the November 2021 election.

The “court determines that the petitioners have met the burden of showing that Peters and Knisley have committed a breach and neglect of duty and other wrongful acts,” Mesa County District Court Judge Valerie Robison wrote in Wednesday’s ruling. “As such, Peters and Knisley are unable or unwilling to appropriately perform the duties of the Mesa County Designated Election Official. The court further determines substantial compliance with the provisions of the code require an injunction prohibiting Peters and Knisley from performing the duties of the Designated Election Official.”

In August, Watkins released photos of information on Dominion’s Election Management Systems (EMS) voting machines, including an installation manual and “BIOS passwords for a small collection of computers, including EMS server and client systems,” as we reported at the time. While Watkins, a former 8chan administrator, was trying to prove that Dominion can remotely administer the machines, the documents actually showed “a generic set of server hardware, with explicit instructions to keep it off the Internet and lock down its remote management functions.”

Peters, who promoted Trump’s conspiracy theory that voting machines were manipulated to help Joe Biden win the 2020 election, “‘holed up’ in a safe house provided by pillow salesman and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell” when the FBI began investigating her, according to an August 19 Vice News article. Her location was described as a “mystery” for a while, but she appeared at an event in Grand Junction, Colorado, last month.

What wicked liars these people are.  Hell awaits them.

Silence is Sin

[When sin abounds] we must not be silent, lest we disgrace religion and the church, simply in order to curry favor with sinners. — Richard Baxter

The Day Jerome Bolsec Began Spewing His Heresy

At a general meeting, held October 16, 1551, the minister of Jussy, Jean de Saint André, in preaching from the words of St. John, (8:47,) “He that is of God heareth God’s words …,” took occasion to develop the doctrine of eternal election, declaring that “those who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God, continue in a state of rebellion even to the end, because obedience is a gift accorded only to the elect.” He had scarcely finished speaking when one of the hearers rose up, and pronounced this doctrine false and impious, accompanying his discourse with coarse abuse of those who make God the author of sin, and exhorted the people to guard against this new doctrine as a detestable piece of folly.

This man was the old Carmelite monk, Jerome Bolsec, a physician, preacher, and poet, who, wandering by turns in France and Italy, had retired to Geneva some months previously, where he had already frequently attacked the doctrines of Calvin. Unnoticed in the crowd, the Reformer, whom Bolsec had thought absent, immediately rose up, and by a succession of testimonies borrowed from the writing of Augustine, eloquently refuted his adversary.

Arrested on account of the temerity of his language, and interrogated by the magistrate, Jerome refused to retract, and was thrown into prison. The case was brought before the Council, where he boldly maintained his opinion, adding, besides, that many of the Swiss ministers shared in his sentiments. Before pronouncing a judgment, which the ministers of Geneva earnestly desired, the magistrates wrote concerning the subject to three reformed towns, namely, Zurich, Berne, and Basle, furnishing them with a list of the errors of Bolsec, and asking their advice as to how they should treat him.*

Later Calvin wrote this letter (in the name of the reformed pastors of the city) to the Reformed ministers of Switzerland (and it’s rather long, but very much worth the read) :

There is one Jerome here, who, having thrown off the monk’s cowl, is become one of those strolling physicians, who, by habitual deception and trickery, acquire a degree of impudence which makes them prompt and ready in venturing upon anything whatever. He made an attempt, eight months ago, in a public assembly of our church, to overthrow the doctrine of God’s free election, which, as received from the word of God, we teach in common with you.

Then, indeed, the impertinence of the man was regulated by some degree of moderation. He ceased not afterwards to make a noise in all places, with the intention of shaking the faith of the simple in this all-important doctrine. At length he openly disgorged what poison was in him. For when one of our brethren, not long since, was expounding, after our ordinary custom, that passage in John where Christ declares that those who do not hear God’s words are not of God; he remarked that as many as have not been born again of the Spirit of God, continue in a state of stubborn resistance to God, even to the end, inasmuch as the gift of obedience is peculiar to the elect of God, on whom it is bestowed.

That worthless wretch rose up, and affirmed that the false and impious opinion, that the will of God is the cause of all things, took its rise during the present century from Laurentius Valla; but that in this he acted wrongly, for he charged God with the blame of all evils, and falsely imputed to Him a tyrannical caprice, such as the ancient poets fancifully ascribed to their Jove. He then took up the second head, and affirmed that men are not saved because they have been elected, but that they are elected because they believe; that no one is condemned at the mere pleasure of God; that those only are condemned who deprive themselves of the election common to all. In dealing with this question, he inveighed against us with a great deal of violent abuse. The chief magistrate of the city, on hearing of the matter, imprisoned him, especially as he had been tumultuously haranguing the common people not to allow themselves to be deceived by us.

On being brought before the Senate for trial, he proceeded to defend his error with no less obstinacy than audacity. He, moreover, made it his boast that a considerable number of the ministers of the other churches sided with him; on which we requested the Senate not to give its final decision until, having heard from your church, it should ascertain how this worthless wretch had wickedly abused your name by making you sanction his error. Overcome by shame, he at first did not decline the decisions of the churches, but began to jest about having good reason to mistrust you from your familiar intimacy with our brother Calvin.

The Senate, however, according to our request, resolved upon consulting you. Besides, and in addition to this, he was implicating your church. For while denouncing Zwingli above all others, he said that Bullinger was of precisely the same opinion with himself. He has craftily watched for a handle of discord among the Bernese ministers. We are really anxious to have this plague so removed from our church, that it may not infect our neighbours when we have got rid of it ourselves. Although it is of very great importance to us and to the public tranquility, that the doctrine which we profess should meet with your approval; yet we have no reason to entreat your confidence in many words.

The Institutes of our brother Calvin, against which he is especially directing his attacks, is not unknown among you. With what reverence and sobriety he has therein discussed the secret judgments of God, it is not for us to record: the book is its own bright witness. Nor in truth do we teach anything here but what is contained in God’s holy word, and what has been held by your church ever since the light of the Gospel was restored. That we are justified by faith, we all agree; but the real mercy of God can only be perceived when we learn that faith is the fruit of free adoption, and that, in point of fact, adoption flows from the eternal election of God.

But not only does this impostor fancy that election depends upon faith, but that faith itself is originated as much by man himself as by divine inspiration. There can be no doubt, on the other hand, that when men perish, it must be imputed to their own wickedness. But by the case of the reprobate whom God, from His own mysterious council, passes by and neglects as if unworthy, we are taught a striking lesson of humility.

Yet such is this Jerome, that he will not admit that God does anything justly unless he has palpable evidence of it. In fine, this much is fixed and conceded by us all, that when man sins, God must not be regarded as having any share in the blame, nor that the word sin can in any sense be applied to Him. Yet this does not hinder Him from exercising His power, in a wonderful and incomprehensible way, through Satan and the wicked, as if they were the instruments of His wrath, to teach the faithful patience, or to inflict merited punishment on His enemies. This profane trifler cries out that we bring an impeachment against God when we allege that He governs all things by His providence.

Destroying, in short, in this way, all distinction between causes as remote and concealed, on the one hand, and as near and patent on the other; rendering it impossible to regard the sufferings to which holy Job was subjected as the work of God, but that He may be held as equally guilty with the Devil, the Chaldeans, and the Sabæan robbers.

Our mutual relationship, therefore, demands that you will not consider it troublesome to uphold and maintain, by your countenance, that doctrine of Christ which has been outraged by the profanity of a wanton and ill-disposed man. As we confidently trust that you will do this gladly and of your own accord, we consider it useless to ply you with anxious and earnest requests; and, on the other hand, should our services be at any time of advantage to you, you will ever find us prepared to discharge every brotherly duty.

—Adieu, most beloved and esteemed brethren. May God guide you by His Spirit, bless your labours, and defend your church!*

_________________________
* J. Bonnet, Letters of John Calvin-IV (Vol. 1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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