Jesus Code?

ABC News is becoming stranger and stranger by the day. They’re actually ‘reporting’ that a secret ‘Jesus code’ is inscribed on US weapons.

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

Coded references? Really? Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the New Testament could spot the inscribed references in half a second. But ABC loves to imagine conspiracy and controversy and craziness, so it’s pointing out this ‘code’.

Oh ABC- how you’ve fallen since Peter Jennings left.

Quote of the Day

For some ages past, departed saints have been exalted to partnership with God, to be worshiped, invoked, and lauded in his stead. And yet we do not even think that the majesty of God is obscured by this abomination. … At the same time, being deluded by these entanglements, we [in adoring the saints] go astray after divers gods. — John Calvin

Who Are They Worshiping?

Here’s a fine example of ambiguity in the press which should give all theologically inclined minds pause.

Worshippers [sic!] urged not to ‘sanitize’ King’s legacy

screams the headline. But it’s not quite clear who is being worshiped. Is it King or is it God or someone or something else? And the ambiguity continues

A scholar and activist invoked the fiery side of Martin Luther King Jr.’s rhetoric Monday at the civil rights icon’s church, urging the audience not to “sanitize” King’s legacy or let the president off the hook on issues like poverty.

‘At the civil rights icon’s church’? When did the Church, any church, become the property of any man or woman? King didn’t die for the Church, Christ did.

I realize of course that the report is probably quite innocent in its intention. But the hero worship of athletes and movie stars and even some pastors is an unhealthy aspect of American society that always deserves a sideways glance. It all bespeaks an environment of theological illiteracy.

Total Depravity: The Child Burning Mom Edition

This sort of thing remains utterly incomprehensible to me.  I have a daughter and I’d rather die myself than see her suffer even the slightest pain.

Authorities charged a Powell woman with aggravated child abuse after she allegedly placed her 14-month-old daughter “into a bathtub of scalding hot water,” a spokeswoman said this morning.

Who is she?

Sarah Julian, 21, of Stanley Road… . [Authorities] said the KCSO was alerted at 7:15 p.m. Sunday of the incident. Julian allegedly had put her daughter into a tub Sunday night at her residence and then took the burned toddler to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. … “Because of this incident, DCS is in the process of removing another daughter from the home,” Dooley said.

So sad for those children. And another proof that the doctrine of total depravity, the fact that people unaided by the grace of God can only do evil, is 100% true and accurate.

Erasmus’ Greek New Testament

Is available for free download. If you’ve always wanted, but never found, a copy- here ya go.

And if you aren’t familiar with this fantastic resource, check it out. It has numerous very fine copies of some very important editions of the Bible.

UPDATE:  If you click here you can download the volume- but you have to agree to various restrictions.  And if you don’t read German, to achieve the download you’ll need to click ‘Ja’ – that you understand you cannot redistribute or use for any but personal use the document.

An Interesting Opportunity to ‘Travel in the Footsteps of Paul’

Not, however, with the typical tour-guide. But with established Pauline experts. Karl Paul Donfried writes

Dear Colleagues,

Although Dr. Kent Richards will be writing to all SBL members in the coming days, I want to give all of you a heads up that the Society of Biblical Literature has accepted the proposal of Dr. Philip Towner of the American Bible Society and me to establish a new initiative entitled “THE GLOBAL PAUL,” a minimum three year project that will include a series of academically oriented journeys with lectures and discussions that will attempt to penetrate more deeply the theology of St Paul through visitation of the sites at which the Apostle was present together with a more profound study of and interaction with the Graeco-Roman world in which he carried out his missionary and pastoral activities. This initiative is also linked with the Mellon funded project on “Paul, Judaism and the Graeco-Roman World.”

THE GLOBAL PAUL emphasis will begin with a most unique and exciting academic study tour of Pauline sites in Syria, Turkey and Cyprus this May. Initial information has now been posted on the Society’s website (www. sbl-site.org/) on the front page under “In the News” and I would encourage you to view it. More detailed itinerary information as well as costs and registration procedure is available from Dr. Scott Elliott (selliott@adrian.edu).

I would be most grateful if you would share this information with your colleagues.

With all best wishes,
Karl Donfried

Consider yourselves shared with…

Rejecting Biblical Authority…

Places people outside the Church.  As Bullinger observed in 1532, ‘those who constantly err, who reject the Bible as a formal principle, are always already outside the Church.  The task of the Pastor is to watch that these inveterate sinners do not infect the healthy body of the faithful’.

What was true for Bullinger in 1532 is equally true today.  Those who reject the norma normans of Scripture are already excluded from the life of the community of faith.  By their own actions.  Allowing such persons authority in the Church is foolishness.

Disputation With the Radicals

In the middle of January, 1525, Zwingli and the other Pastors in Zurich were in a pitched battle against the radicals who were then urging their followers to abandon the Reformation and speed ahead with a total severance from society.  1525 would become the year during which Zwingli spent the majority of his time battling these ’causers of unrest’.

Indeed, things had already developed to such a threatening level to the well being of the city that in December the year before Zwingli had written  his scathing Wer Ursache gebe zu Aufruhr. In March of 1525 Zwingli published De vera et falsa religione commentarius, which took a swipe at both the old believers and the radicals.   In April the trial of some rebaptizers was observed by Zwingli; in May his Von der Taufe… appeared.   In June, Von den Predigtamt took to task those asserting pastoral and preaching privileges even though they lacked the appropriate tools.  And in November, the Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein saw the light of day.

All of these books were ‘conflict’ oriented and 1525 was perhaps the most conflict ridden of Zwingli’s life.   And that doesn’t take into account the opening of a front against an inaccurate understanding of the Lord’s Supper which was then developing and would come to a head at Marburg.

Notwithstanding all these disputations and difficulties, Zwingli maintained a cheerful disposition.  Depression and despair would stay away until 1531, when early in the summer, he would try to resign.  But of course now’s not the time for that particular discussion.

Preacher, Don’t Lose Your Hebrew and Greek

Most Seminary trained Pastors are required to take the biblical languages (and woe betide those pastors who don’t- for their preaching will always thereafter depend on second hand readings rather than first hand familiarity with the text: they will, in the witty Rabbinic phrase, always be kissing their spouse through a sheet).

Unfortunately, after Seminary, most Pastors (if not 95% of them at least) leave Hebrew and Greek aside and only ever again refer to it if they have Strong’s concordance on their desk.  This is really tragic since it means that 1) all those hours of study and work acquiring familiarity with the biblical languages is wasted; and 2) they’ve gotten a bit lazy.

So how does the busy Pastor make use of the biblical languages?  Simple.

1- Read the Bible each day in the original languages.

2- As you prepare your sermon, make a vocabulary list and memorize those words with which you are not familiar.

3- Base your study of the appointed passage not on an English version but on the underlying Hebrew or Greek (or Aramaic).  Only after you’ve translated the passage for yourself should you permit yourself to look at other versions and commentaries.

I realize it sounds like a lot of work but it pays huge dividends.  You’ll learn what the passage means and you’ll be able to share that with your congregants.

However, don’t refer to this or that Hebrew or Greek word in the pulpit unless it’s necessary to make your point.  And do it only sparingly.  Nothing betrays a foolish parson quite like his constant reference to ‘the Hebrew says’ or ‘the Greek says’.

In other words, don’t bring the workshop into the Sanctuary.  Bring the results.

Why is this important?  Put simply, it’s important because the Pastor cannot possibly communicate what he doesn’t understand for himself.  The better you understand Scripture the better you can explain it.  And you just won’t ever understand Scripture unless you read it as it was written.

And always let the warning of Zwingli ring in your ears: ‘Only those are real preachers who know Hebrew (and Greek).  All the others are impostors’.