Daily Archives: 5 Sep 2011

Tilling on Bultmann on History

Chris writes

Bultmann’s essay, “Is Exegesis Without Presuppositions Possible?” is a very helpful essay for understanding Bultmann’s theology. You might imagine that the title question has one obvious response: “Of course not!”, but our man Bulty makes things much more interesting than that! I have been thinking on one point he makes at the beginning:

“Historical method includes the presupposition that history is a unity in the sense of a closed continuum in which individual events are connected by the succession of cause and effect”. What do you think of that? To me there seems to be so many questionable assumptions even in this one sentence that it made me realise that writing a history needs to appreciate the history of the writing of history!

Look at the rest.

British Schools are Breaking the Law, by Shunning Daily Christian Assemblies

Bet you didn’t know Christian assemblies were the law in British schools did you? Neither, apparently, do most British schools…

The vast majority of schools are flouting the law by failing to stage a daily Christian assembly, research suggests.

It’s just more of the victory of secularism over Christianity in Britain:

Almost two-thirds of parents responding to a survey said their children did not take part in collective worship at school every day, it was revealed. Secondary schools are far more likely to shun the traditional requirement which has been compulsory in the state system since the Second World War. The disclosure – in research commissioned by the BBC – will add weight to growing calls to drop the legislation. It comes after a delegation of teachers, secularists and religious leaders wrote to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, last year insisting children should not be “coerced” into religion in schools. Under the 1944 Education Act, schools must provide “broadly Christian worship” every day. Parents have the right to pull children out of religious assemblies but the power is not extended to pupils themselves.

Interesting stuff you have to admit.  And there’s more…

Congratulations to Steve Wiggins!

Steve, of Sects and Violence fame is a new Religion editor at Routledge!  Congratulations to him, and Routledge.

Now those of you wanting to publish in the field of religion know someone on the inside.

It’s Been a Few Weeks…

So here are the long awaited, only authentic, blogger rankings (as tallied by the only realistic, impartial and godly methodology: Alexa.

Zwinglius Redivivus – 3 month – 77,057 and 7 day – 87,512
JRD Kirk – 3 month – 284,075 (7 day not available for sites over 100,000th place)

Unsettled Christianity – 3 month – 103,815 (7 day not available for sites over 100,000th place)
Scotteriolocy – 3 month – 282,323 (7 day not available for sites over 100,000th place)
Daniel McClellan – 3 month – 1,108,874 (7 day not available for sites over 100,000th place)
Remnant of Giants – 3 month – 1,461,307 (7 day not available for sites over 100,000th place)

Well, I think you see the pattern, don’t you, Huckleberry… But in fairness to all, everyone’s ranking has slipped because of the Summer doldrums. By the time SBL comes around, the biblioblogs will be, again, regularly consulted. Even Joel’s! So it’s all on the upswing now, don’t despair.

The Tropical Depression that Moved in and Camped

The copious rain we’re presently experiencing in East Tennessee came up from Louisiana… so ’nuff said about that.  Anyway it’s rained and rained and I just checked our gauge and we have 4.2″ with more on the way.

current radar

Thanks, Louisiana!  I mean it.  We needed it.  The grass was crunchy.

There Are Only Three Biblical Studies Carnivals Remaining

UPDATEJIM LINVILLE has volunteered to take the Carnival Ship Helm!  Thanks, Jim!  (and the rest of you owe him a big thanks too!)

One scheduled for October 1, one for November 1, and one for December 1.

To borrow a phrase from the Elven Queen of the Forest to Frodo,

If you do not do it, no one can. If you cannot find a way, no one will’ (or some such).

If someone doesn’t step up to the plate and organize the next batch of Carnivals, they will cease to be. They will shuffle off this mortal coil. I’ve organized the past 15 or so, so it’s someone else’s turn. Unless there is no one else.  In which case, we will simply bid farewell to them.

Oh, and if you’re waiting for someone else to do it, let me assure you, so are they and they’ll wait till it’s too late.


The French… There’s Something a Tad Wrong Over There

A Frenchman has been ordered to pay his ex-wife £8,500 in damages for failing to have enough sex with her during their marriage.

I guess she’s more concerned for money than self respect.

The 51-year-old man was fined under article 215 of France’s civil code, which states married couples must agree to a “shared communal life”. A judge has now ruled that this law implies that “sexual relations must form part of a marriage”. The rare legal decision came after the wife filed for divorce two years ago, blaming the break-up on her husband’s lack of activity in the bedroom. A judge in Nice, southern France, then granted the divorce and ruled the husband named only as Jean-Louis B. was solely responsible for the split. But the 47-year-old ex-wife then took him back to court demanding 10,000 euros in compensation for “lack of sex over 21 years of marriage”.

Where else would married couples be forced to have sex under threat of suit but France?  And where else is a population so bereft of a proper theology that they view the sex act as the most important aspect of marriage?

Tolerance is Actually the Greatest Intolerable

For a secular godless age, there is one virtue we promulgate about ourselves at almost all opportunities: tolerance. Among the British values often celebrated by politicians is our capacity for tolerance. Schools are required to instil values of tolerance into millions of children; Muslims are told to be tolerant by David Cameron. Tolerance has become something of a founding mythology for western developed nations: our tolerance is regarded as a mark of our superiority over many less tolerant, less developed nations around the world. Our tolerance – in contrast to the intolerance of many of our ancestors – is evidence of the concept of historical progress.

Our ancestors may have ripped each other apart over small theological differences, they may have persecuted those with different sexual preferences or ethnic identity, but in this enlightened age, we tolerate diversity. It is the one virtue the state regularly exhorts us to demonstrate.

But far from being the kind of unequivocal virtue the politicians proclaim it to be, take a closer look and the word collapses under the weight of contradicting expectations. A closer look is exactly what Frank Furedi, a sociologist, offers in a new book On Tolerance, which will infuriate and delight in equal measure – and probably leave a lot of confusion in its wake.

And MUCH more definitely worth pondering.  Yes, most definitely.  Especially this-

There are no shortage of critics of this anaemic, bastardised version of tolerance. Tariq Ramadan, the Muslim thinker, loathes the contemporary rhetoric of tolerance as the “intellectual charity” of the powerful, part of the vocabulary of “cultural domination”. He says it is grudging and patronising. A left critique argues that tolerance is a discourse of “depoliticisation”. And the critiques from the right argue that tolerance has fatally weakened European identity; David Cameron even blamed the riots on tolerance. The right associates it with its twin evil, relativism.

The United States is in Decline, And We Have Only our Elected Officials to Blame

Rightly does the writer write

The United States is facing major economic problems, and its politicians are unable – or unwilling – to solve them.


If the broad post-World War II prosperity that has endured for six decades comes to an end, both the United States and Europe will be responsible. With rare exceptions, politics has become a discredited profession throughout the West. Tomorrow is always treated as more important than next week, and next week prevails over next year, with no one seeking to secure the long-term future. Now the West is paying the price.


In the weeks since the debt ceiling agreement, it has become increasingly clear that good government might be impossible in the US. The coming months of campaigning for the US presidency will be spent in petty brawling over what should be cut. The example of recent weeks gives us no cause for optimism that US legislators will rise above partisan politics and ask themselves what is best for America.

The author of those words, a former PM of Australia, knows what he is talking about. Would that Washington would listen. But it lacks the sense. Our short term greed has destroyed our long term prosperity.

An Update on The Samaritan Medal for Peace and Humanitarian and Academic Achievement

Word came down last week that Ingrid Hjelm of the University of Copenhagen would be awarded the Prize this year.  And she graciously writes with further details about the Medal-

Dear Jim and others. Thank you very much. I don’t think I deserve it, but it is definitely a great honour, which I humbly accept. Unfortunately, the webpage has not been updated since 2008. The medal has since 2009, I think it is, been for Peace, Humanitarian and Academic Achievement. Last year it was given to Emanuel Tov and James Charlesworth. As far as I know, this year five people will receive the medal with three of us being samaritanologists: Menahem Mor, University of Haifa , Haseeb Shehadeh, University of Helsinki and myself from University of Copenhagen. Also ‘Adli Ya’aish, the major of Nablus and Vivian Wineman, the president of British Jewry are among this year’s recipients.

That’s heady company indeed!  So, again, congratulations, Ingrid.  You may not feel deserving but all of us know otherwise.

Refo500 and the 16th Century Society and Conference

From Refo500

Since July 2011, Refo500 became an affiliated partner with Sixteenth Century Society & Conference (SCSC). The SCSC is a yearly meeting of experts on the field of history and culture from the sixteenth century. The conference always takes place in a North American city and averages about 800 participants, and is seen as the most important platform for the research of the early modern times.  The status of affiliated partner means that Refo500 will be present at the SCSC with its lectures, book presentations etc. and that it will offer partners of Refo500 the possibility to meet each other there and to present themselves. That will be the case at the upcoming SCSC in October 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas.

And speaking of Conferences related to the Reformation, don’t forget this one, coming at the first of November in Birmingham!  The program looks excellent (and of course I’ll be there, so there’s that added delight too and even better, so will Herman Selderhuis!).

[You know, I have to say this: for me, conferences like this one, and SOTS, and SBL, and ETS, well, they’re the intellectual highlight of the year and I look forward to them like a deer looks forward to finding water in the desert].

Nick Clegg is Right About This: Parents Need to Realize Teachers Aren’t Surrogate Parents!

Parents need to do more to help teachers rather than expect them to be “surrogate mothers and fathers”, Nick Clegg will say today.

I’m not a Clegg fan (in fact, he’s down there at the very bottom with Benjamin Netanyahu on my list of people worth admiring), but when he’s right, he’s right. And he’s right about this.

The Deputy Prime Minister will argue that too much is expected of teachers and it is time parents did “their bit” and not leave the responsibility for the upbringing of their children to schools.  His comments strike a different tone from those of senior Conservatives in recent weeks who have placed a lot of emphasis on teaching and school discipline as a reason for the recent riots.  In a speech Mr Clegg will say: “If you don’t take an interest in your child’s education, teachers cannot make up the shortfall.  “We already expect our teachers to be social workers; child psychologists; nutritionists; child protection officers. We expect them to police the classroom, take care of our children’s health; counsel our sons and daughters; guide them, worry about them, and, on top of that, educate them too.  “When you consider that list, it is phenomenal that so many rise to the challenge. But it is too much to ask. Teachers are not surrogate mothers and fathers; they cannot do it all.”

Parents need to be parents and not just people kids see laying on the couch sipping booze and snorting coke.

Are You One of those Sad People Who Can’t Spell?

Then you might not want to Facebook, since your egregious errors may end up in a collection like this.  And here are some of my favorites:

It’s almost like Joel is every Facebooker!  With thanks to Dot King for tweeting this delight.

Total Depravity: The Thugs who Duct Taped a Baby

An Orange County [Florida] family was terrorized in broad daylight Saturday as robbers put duct tape over a baby’s mouth and pistol whipped a mother and grandmother, Orange County deputies said. Deputies said the robbery was stopped thanks to an observant neighbor who noticed two men entering the home and called 911.

Duct tape on a baby and pistol whipping an old woman…  Disgusting.

What Are the 10 ‘Happiest’ Careers?

If you look at the photos I doubt you’ll agree with most of them.  What loon makes up lists like this?  It must be someone who has never actually worked outside of a cubicle.

Oh people… happiness isn’t external and so nothing outside of ourselves can make us really happy.  Working this job or that won’t make you happy.

Zwingli for the Day

Zwingli's Statue at the Wasserkirche

If I see a thing was written from love of God and one’s neighbor, I overlook many errors … but I make two exceptions: Emser and Eck, for they are pests to the teachings of Christ.  Their own wanton recklessness has forced me to write plenty sharply against them and by name.  –  Huldrych Zwingli

Labor Day

If you’re in the States you know it’s Labor Day.  It’s one of those ‘holidays’ that’s simply an opportunity for banks and the post office to close and school kids to stay home so that they can play video games or upload videos of their cats falling off a table.

Have a relaxing day.