Daily Archives: 16 Dec 2011

The World’s Worst, Most Disturbed, and Stupidest Kids Game

Via Steve Bremner on G+

A Museum Dies

Jona has the story, which, as he said in his email mentioning his post, really is sad.

Today, the authorities of the Dutch province of Gelderland decided to terminate their support of Orientalis near Nijmegen, a beautiful, century-old museum park, dedicated to the cradle of monotheism. To renovate the park and make it ready for another century, 14 million euro were necessary and had been agreed upon: 2 million from private donations, 6 million from provincial funds, and 6 million from state funds. The Dutch government, which is trying to save on museum expenditure, had already decided to stop paying, while the province cannot pay an additional 6 million.

Go read more about it.

Zwingli For Today

Zürich: Grossmünster

On 16 December 1525 Zwingli published his brief (only six page) Antwort von Rat und Bürger zu Zürich an den Rat von Bern. It can be summarized so simply that I only need excerpt the core thought expressed in Zwingli’s own words:

Dann so Christus Iesus selbs gerett: “Daß fleisch ist kein nütz” [Joh. 6. 63] und: “ob man üch Cristum hie oder anderschwa zögt, so gand nit dahin” [cf. Matth. 24. 23 ff.], dann ir findent inn nit. Eß hat ouch Cristus im letsten mal nit geret: daß ist min fleisch, sonders: daß ist min lyb, welches ein andern verstand hat, weder unß die pfaffen fürgeben haben. Er hat ouch in siner uffart zuo sinen jungern gerett: Ir werdent den sun deß mentschen nit mer sehen, biß er wyderumb kumpt zuo richten über die lebenden und todten etc. [cf. Matth. 26. 64; 2. Tim. 4. 1].

Christians should understand that the Supper of the Lord isn’t a consuming of his literal flesh. Such a thought is an absurdity. This is the tune Zwingli sang for over a decade and still the old believers (what he called the Catholics) and the adherents of Luther were unable to see it. Tragic really, since it’s so easy to see.

The remainder of the essay is yet another attempt at getting the truth across. In spite of Zwingli’s clarity there remained, and remain even today, hoards of invincibly ignorant souls who simply cannot see the blindingly obvious.

Not Hundreds and Not Thousands but Tens of Thousands!

If true, the Catholic Church in the Netherlands appears to be nothing more than a haven of pedophiles.

Tens of thousands of children abused in Dutch Catholic institutions, report says. Eight hundred Catholic clergy and church employees were guilty of abusing children over 40 years, a commission reports.

Unbelievable. If molestation was that widespread than everyone must have known about it and no one lifted a finger. The Church in the Netherlands is then populated by nothing more than the Dutch equivalent of thousands of Mike McQuerys in every parish.

The Roman Catholic church in the Netherlands was shamed on Friday when a comprehensive investigation of sexual abuse of children by clergy over 40 years found one in five vulnerable children had been molested.  An 1,100-page report from a commission led by a former education minister and Christian Democrat leader said it could identify 800 Catholic clergy and other church employees guilty of sexually abusing children in the 40 years from 1945 and that more than 100 perpetrators were still alive.  Children in institutional care, regardless of religious affiliation, in the Netherlands were at substantial risk of being abused during the period, the molestation rate – 20% – being twice that of elsewhere. The investigation led by Wim Deetman concluded that several tens of thousands of children had suffered sexual molestation.

Each of the perpetrators and each of their silent co-conspirators deserves the unmitigated rage of divine fury poured out on their wicked and perverse head.

‘There But For the Grace of God…’: An Observation

I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase ‘there but for the grace of God go I’.  And the reason for my discomfort is easy to explain:  it implies that the person’s situation which evokes the phrase is outside the grace of God somehow.

It’s as if we were to say ‘hey look at that poor slob.  They must not have as much of God’s grace as I do!  Lucky me!’

Needless to say, that’s an extremely problematic point of view.  All are totally depraved and can do no good whatsoever unaided by the Grace of God.  But that grace is evenly distributed to one and all.  The problem is, too few grasp it.  But just as the sun is in the sky whether you see it or not, so too the grace of God permeates existence and is accessible to all.

An ‘Almah’ is Not Necessarily a ‘Bethulah’

The Common English Bible renders Isaiah 7:10ff thusly:

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Tes...

10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: 11 “ Ask a sign from the LORD your God. Make it as deep as the graveq or as high as heaven. ” 12 But Ahaz said, “ I won’t ask; I won’t test the LORD . ” 13 Then Isaiah said, “ Listen, house of David! Isn’t it enough for you to be tiresome for people that you are also tiresome before my God? 14 Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. 15 He will eat butter and honey, and learn to reject evil and choose good. 16 Before the boy learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned. 17 The LORD will bring upon you, upon your people, and upon your families days unlike any that have come since the day Ephraim broke away from Judah—the king of Assyria.”

Translations which have ‘virgin’ in verse 14 mistakenly render the Hebrew word ‘Almah’ which simply means ‘young girl’. If the author had wished to say ‘virgin’ he would have used ‘Bethulah’ – the word for virgin in Hebrew. It is at precisely this point that we need to recall the historical context of Isaiah’s theological declaration: An invading army is approaching and God promises to deliver the city if the people will turn to him in faith. Ahaz isn’t sure it will happen so God tells him that the sign of his promise’s truth will be that this pregnant young woman will give birth to her son and before that son is weaned, deliverance will have dawned.

Christian readers who claim to take Scripture seriously and who yet ignore the very vocabulary of the passage and import into it a prediction of the birth of Christ violate it violently.

But does that mean Matthew has it wrong? Indeed not. Why? Because he has taken from this passage its ‘theology of deliverance from the enemy as promised by God’ and applied it to the birth of Jesus, whom he thus portrays as the ‘promise of deliverance’ par excellance.

Here again then we see Matthew the theologian doing the work of a theologian and reading his source theologically. Matthew is preaching and his text is Isaiah. Matthew isn’t doing history and neither is Isaiah (not primarily anyway).  And the proof?  Jesus wasn’t named Immanuel.  He was named Yeshua.

And anyway, if Isaiah had wanted to say ‘virgin’ he could have.  He just didn’t.  An ‘almah’ is not necessarily a ‘bethulah’.

‘Baby’s First Bible’ App

From our friends at the German Bible Society- a new app for little one’s!

Meine ersten Bibelgeschichten App der Deutschen Bibelgesellschaft.  Zeitlos beliebte Geschichten aus der Bibel, wundervoll illustriert und leicht verständlich nacherzählt für Kinder ab 3 Jahren. Für diese neue Kinderbibel-App sind folgende Geschichten aus dem Alten und Neuen Testament erhältlich:  1. Noah und die Arche (KOSTENLOSER DOWNLOAD).

Check out the rest!  It looks downright awesome.  I wish such things had existed when Rachel was a baby.

The New Testament: A Literary History

Gerd Theissen’s latest book arrived courtesy of the good folk at Fortress Press for review.  It is quite different from other NT introductions as it

… takes up the problem of the emergence of the New Testament canon out of the wide variety of early Christian literature. Drawing from Max Weber’s discussion of the evolution of religious organizations, Theissen describes the development of early Christian literature as a series of phases in the life of the movement: the charismatic, the pseudepigraphic, the functional, and the canonical.

My review is uploaded here.

The Best News Story of the Day: Stupid Criminal Tricks

Police in Wisconsin’s capital city barely had to try to catch a pair of unlucky suspected thieves.  Madison police say two men in their late 20s stole DVDs and computer games from a Target store Tuesday and discussed their plans to fence the goods while driving away.  Investigators say the duo didn’t realize one of them had accidentally pocket-dialed 911. A dispatcher listened in for nearly an hour as they discussed what they had stolen and where they might sell it. Police say they even described their vehicle.


Who ‘Owns’ The Reformation?

A conference titled thusly will be held in March of 2012.

Wem gehört die Reformation? Nationale und konfessionelle Dispositionen der Reformationsdeutung

Überall wird von dem Reformationsjubiläum gesprochen. Dabei geht es beispielsweise darum, eine angemessene Bezeichnung des Ereignisses zu finden und Fragen zu den Beteiligten und der Bestimmung der wichtigsten Orte zu klären. Diese und weitere Fragen prägen die Diskussionen. Aber was bedeutet eigentlich ein Reformationsgedenken, wenn es nicht nur eine historische Besinnung sein soll? Worum geht es bei einem solchen Gedenken, oder wer sind seine Adressaten? Wer gehört dazu und wer nicht? Und vor allem: warum soll man im Jahr 2017 woran gedenken?

Die Tagung, die vom 1.-3. März 2012 im Rahmen von Refo500 in Bretten stattfindet, möchte sich den Vorfragen der Reformationserinnerung widmen. Wie die gegenwärtige Diskussionslage belegt, handelt es sich dabei um fundamentale Fragestellungen, die dringend beantwortet werden müssen.

You can read more here and register here.

Hitchins is Dead

The Washington Post emails

Christopher Hitchens, a sharp-witted provocateur who used his formidable learning, biting wit and muscular prose style to skewer what he considered high-placed hypocrites, craven lackeys of the right and left, “Islamic fascists” and religious faith of any kind, has died at age 62. He had cancer of the esophagus.

I feel sorry for his family and sorrier for his soul.  I bet right about now he’s feeling quite the prat.