Daily Archives: 1 Aug 2011

Amidst The Wreckage we Call Congress…

A glimmer of light.  The Washington Post emails

The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I’m glad Rep. Giffords is back.  God bless her.

It’s Time To Quit

That’s the conclusion that Heinrich Bullinger came to on the 1st of August in 1575.  He had, since 1531, been Pastor of the chief church in Zurich, the Grossmunster.  That’s a total of an amazing 44 years!

Bullinger was ill and aged and tired and actually worn out and down and he knew his days were numbered.  So he tendered his resignation.  And he was right to see his end as near.  He did, in fact, die just a few weeks after his resignation, on the 17th of September that same year!

But the legacy he left behind was astonishing.  He wrote constantly, corresponded widely, and was really, in the 16th century, far far more important and influential than Calvin.

When he took over in Zurich the Reformation was just in its first decade, its childhood.  But he saw to it that it grew from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and in the process become a Europe-wide phenomenon.

If you’re even mildly interested in Bullinger might I recommend Peter Opitz’s volume ‘Heinrich Bullinger als Theologe:  Eine Studie zu den ‘Dekaden’.  It’s a tremendous examination of Bullinger’s theology.

Jeremiah 14:7-12

7 “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. 8 O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? 9 Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save? Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us.”

10 Thus says the LORD concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.”

11The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

No comment necessary.

Sadness: The Death of Celina Cass

Authorities say the body of an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl who disappeared nearly a week ago has been found in a river less than half a mile from her home.  Divers found Celina Cass’s body Monday morning near a hydroelectric dam that spans the Connecticut River between her hometown of Stewartstown, N.H., and Canaan, Vt.  Prosecutor Jane Young confirmed the identity at a news conference Monday night.

11 is too young to die – but at the hands of a murderer- well it’s just the worst sort of sorrowfulness.  I hope they find the person or persons who killed her and execute them right off.

Richard Elliott Friedman: The Biblical Laws on Homosexuality

This is one of those pieces that you’ll just have to read for yourself.  It’s too dense to abstract fairly in the usual brief space and you’ll want to read it all anyway.

I’ll only say, I think he’s wrong because he’s trying too hard to see what modern society wants to see  in various OT texts.   He imputes to passages ideas utterly modern and utterly foreign to the world of the author.   But he’s ‘preaching to the choir’ excerpting parts of his new book in the Huffington Post, so it’s not surprising that he writes what he does.

You can make up your own mind.

August 2011 Biblical Studies Carnival

Daniel has done a superb job. Well done sir, well done.

August 2011 Biblical Studies Carnival This month’s theme is carnie-mentalism, which is the emphasis on a return to the carnie-mentals. Carnie-mentalism dates to the early twentieth century with the publication of The Carnie-mentals, which decisively and irrefutably demolished all contemporary and any possible future Carnival scholarship that challenged or may ever challenge then-recent interpretations of the Carnie Code. To this day, one need only cite The Carnie-mentals to flatly un … Read More

via Daniel O. McClellan

H.G.M. Williamson: On Reading the Old Testament

The Christian Post has a nice piece on Prof. Williamson much worth reading.  It concludes

What the writer was trying to emphasise was not historical details of the event. “The important point is the lesson to be learned,” said Professor Williamson. “Israel had fallen, and the warning is to Judah (the other Israelite kingdom in the south) who reads this later to take the hint, not to go that way but to go another way.”   His advice: Be fair with the Old Testament text and read it in its own terms. And avoid imposing a 21st century scientific and historical mindset on the ancient authors.  Like stories from ancient history that other cultures have, the Old Testament undergirds the Jewish and Christian cultural identity.   “And that’s really the important point, less than the specific truth or what not of particular events that may be within that narrative,” said Professor Williamson.

Yeah verily!  With thanks to Paul Cook on FB for the heads up.

We Won’t Be Reading from the Quran Sunday

Dozens of Christian churches, from Park Hill Congregational in Denver to Hillview United Methodist in Boise, Idaho, and First United Lutheran in San Francisco to St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Honolulu, are planning to send “a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam” with a time to read the Quran during worship this Sunday. It’s not just wrong, but dangerous, according to Christian trends analysts. The aim of the program, which is promoted by social activists behind the Faith Shared website, is to counter the message from Islamic activists who say opposition to their religion is the product of what they call a cottage industry of hate. So the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First is calling on Christian clergy to read portions of the Quran during their services Sunday.

Not here. Not me. Not ever. And not because I hate Muslims. On the contrary. But reading from the Quran doesn’t make one a friend of Muslims any more than a KKK member reading the Bible makes him a Christian. Christians reading from the Quran from the pulpit is a wholesale repudiation of Christian theology because it’s a replacement of worship with fad-ism. It is – at its heart – idolatry because it makes what matters to persons of more worth than God.

No, we won’t be reading from the Quran. And I bet there won’t be any Muslim clerics reading from Jude.  [Via M.A. on FB].

‘He Lived For His XBox’

Not exactly a good reason to live.  And certainly a very bad reason to die.

In the latest example of “everything in moderation,” too much Xbox-playing may have led to a young British man’s death.  Twenty-year-old Chris Staniforth, who reportedly played the game “Halo” on his Xbox for up to 12 hours at a time, died in May from deep vein thrombosis, a condition triggered by sitting for extremely long periods of time. A coroner said that there was a blood clot that formed in Staniforth’s leg that moved up to his lungs to cause a fatal pulmonary embolism, the New York Daily News reported.

Take heed, gamer nerds.  Get up!  No game is worth dying for.  Or living for.

One of the World’s Most Vile Scientists

A scientist at one of the world’s leading medical research institutions smuggled a young woman from Africa to work in the UK as her house slave, a court heard yesterday.

Odd that a Black woman would enslave a black woman… And a scientist at that…

Rebecca Balira, 47, forced 21-year-old Methodia Mathias to cook, clean and wash for her while acting a nanny to her three children for six months without pay, jurors heard. The young Tanzanian was made to share a bed with Balira’s 12-year-old son, stripped of her passport and banned from contacting her family or friends, it was said. She was forced to walk to and from church each Sunday while Balira and her children took the bus, Southwark Crown Court heard. Jurors were also told Ms Mathias was slapped and punched by Balira and had her bra cut off her with a pair of scissors after her employer flew into a rage over a money box.

Ms Balira, you’re despicable.

A Huge Backlist From Eerdmans

Saw this and felt like I was morally obliged to pass it along.

Wow! – @eerdmansbooks just added a HUGE backlist catalog with 1100+ titles!

There’s something for everyone.

On Hell: An Observation

Sometimes folk suggest that Hell can’t be real because God is love and he would never punish eternally for a temporal transgression.  Indeed, who hasn’t thought that very thought?

Herman Bavinck offers something of an insight when he observes

… we who know in part in part also know the horror of sin only in part.  But if here already, upon hearing of certain horrors, we consider no punishment severe enough, what then will we think when at the end of time we gain insight into the depth of injustice?

You know, if you think about that…  We really are inclined, aren’t we, to limit all reality to our own truncated vision of it.

My Favorite Quote from the Debt Debate

Because it can be used in so many contexts. Indeed, it can even be used of the entire Congress!

‘a sugar-coated satan sandwich’

There are more. Enjoy.

We Cannot Endure Syria’s Murdering its Own People

The United Nations MUST intervene.  If we stand by while thousands are being slaughtered history will rightly condemn us.

This MUST end. It MUST. President Assad, the good people of the world adjure you, stop this!

Oh Those Methodists and their Focus on the Flesh

via CNN

Larry Hurtado at the Scottish Evangelical Theology Society

Whose lecture is titled

Thinking About Differences Biblically: You’ve Got to Accentuate the Positive

At the same link you’ll find other interesting lectures as well from the 2011 meeting.

The Bill Raising the Debt Ceiling

Here it is, should you be interested in reading all 74 pages of it.  Via Steve Inskeep on the Twitter.

How Should Youngsters be Raised?

Woodcut by Hans Asper (ca. 1499 – 1571) ...

That’s the question which Huldrych Zwingli addresses in his book Quo pacto ingenui adolescentes formandi sint, published on the first of August, 1523 and dedicated to his step-son.  It’s even available in English!

So influential was the volume in its time that it saw numerous editions from 1523 on and was translated widely from Latin into numerous German dialects (and, as noted above, English too).  It’s still worth reading as its a quite practical guide to raising Reformed children.

Give it a read.

Remembering Walther Eichrodt

Walther Eichrodt was born on the 1st of August in 1890.  As Brittanica notes

After studying theology at Bethel, Greifswald, Heidelberg, and Erlangen, Eichrodt taught at Bethel and Erlangen, then became professor of Old Testament at the University of Basel (1922), where he was later rector (1953–55). His chief work, Theologie des Alten Testaments, 2 vol. (1933–35, 4th ed. 1957; Theology of the Old Testament), marked the beginning of a new epoch in Old Testament studies. Without reducing the theology of the Old Testament to the history of Israelite religion, Eichrodt made extensive use of the results of literary and comparative analysis to envisage the religion of the Old Testament as a unity of permanent reality throughout the vicissitudes of history. The triple aspect of God’s covenant, with his people, with the world, and with man, formed the plan of Eichrodt’s book. By this method he presented the great dogmatic realities in a dialectic appropriate to the Old Testament, preserving both the historical character of the revelation and the unity of the Old and the New Testaments. Eichrodt’s other principal works include Die Quellen der Genesis (1916; “The Sources of Genesis”), Die Hoffnung des ewigen Friedens im alten Israel (1920; “The Hope of Eternal Peace in Ancient Israel”), Das Menschenverständnis des Alten Testaments (1946; Man in the Old Testament).

Eichrodt, along with von Rad, wrote the two most important theologies of the Old Testament produced in their generation.  And Eichrodt’s commentary on Ezekiel is still one of the very, very best.  Get to know him if you don’t.

Turning Gays Straight: The Jury is Still Out

NPR had an interesting report this morning on ‘conversion therapy’.

The debate about the value of conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, has been raging in psychological circles for more than a decade.  About three years ago, the American Psychological Association came out with an official position paper on it. The APA said that it was basically a bad idea, and that there was no evidence that it was possible to change sexual orientation. Therapists also shouldn’t tell their clients that change was possible, the APA noted.

Ok, but still

The APA’s position infuriates [Rich] Wyler. He feels like the the group is saying that he doesn’t exist, that it’s impossible for someone attracted to the same sex to change that orientation. He also pointed out that at the moment, a man who wants to become a woman — a transsexual, that is — can, according to APA policy, ethically get treatment to help him with this goal. But a man like him who wants to be attracted to a woman cannot.  “That makes no sense whatsoever,” Wyler says.

Wyler’s right.  It’s an interesting subject not least because of the ethical and theological questions it raises.  Given the fact, though, that there is still no certainty as to what ’causes’ sexual orientation, it seems rather absurd to suggest that in many cases homosexuality  may well not be a learned behavior.  And so the jury remains out.

One thing is certain, though, and that is that pop singers and their absurd songs don’t have the final say on reality.  Whether or not they sell a lot of copies of a badly done song titled ‘Born this Way’.