Group Blogging on Calvin 500

Oil painting of a young John Calvin.

This will come as a shock to some of you but I’ve accepted an invitation (and a very kind one at that and not a little flattering [in the good sense, not the bad sense] ) to offer occasional contributions to the group blog Calvin 500.  The blog’s focus is,  unsurprisingly, Calvin and over there I’ll first be doing a series on Calvinism and the SBC in the not too distant future.

That means, of course, that I’ll mention those posts here too.  It should be loads of fun.

I hasten to add, fear not, nothing will change here.  I’ll be doing my usual thing and just adding posts over there in my free time.  Stay tuned.

‘Simple Preacher’ or ‘Exegete’: What Makes the Difference?

According to Luther, it’s the mastery of the biblical languages.  He writes [LW 45:363]

There is a vast difference therefore between a simple preacher of the faith and a person who expounds Scripture [that is, an exegete], or, as St. Paul puts it [I Cor. 12:28–30; 14:26–32], a ‘prophet’. A simple preacher (it is true) has so many clear passages and texts available through translations that he can know and teach Christ, lead a holy life, and preach to others.

But when it comes to interpreting Scripture, and working with it on your own, and disputing with those who cite it incorrectly, he is unequal to the task; that cannot be done without languages. Now there must always be such prophets in the Christian church who can dig into Scripture, expound it, and carry on disputations. A saintly life and right doctrine are not enough.

Hence, languages are absolutely and altogether necessary in the Christian church, as are the prophets or interpreters; although it is not necessary that every Christian or every preacher be such a prophet [exegete], as St. Paul points out in I Corinthians 12[:4–30] and Ephesians 4[:11].

He’s right.  And when he’s right, he’s really right.  One isn’t an exegete without competence in the biblical languages.

Slavery Today

Indeed, you did read that right.  Slavery is commonplace today.  As Bullinger points out (in his usual pointed way)

I know that the children of this world do mock and scoff at these pleasures and liberty of the faithful believers [i.e., spiritual activities and hopes], as though they were mere dreams and fantasies of very fools and asses: but God doth soundly pay them home for their scoffs and mockery, not in the world to come only, but also in this present life; while they themselves, like miserable caitiffs, being in extreme captivity, do notwithstanding even in that slavery think themselves at liberty and in most absolute felicity. For they serve a filthy service in detestable slavery, making themselves bondmen to abominable whoredom, to beastly mad drunkenness, to the wicked mammon, and to other most vile pleasures, wherein they die and rot with endless shame and infamy.

Modern slavery- life outside redemption.

Ron Paul: Just Another Hypocritical Politician

Thinkprogress informs us that

Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian hero, last year said that allowing Social Security to exist is akin to permitting slavery. But during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, Paul admitted to the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein that he collects Social Security checks anyway:

STEIN: A bit of a personal question then, are you on Social Security? Do you get Social Security checks?

PAUL: I do.

STEIN: Well, I mean, is there — you just told younger generations that they should ween themselves off this social contract.

PAUL: That is true.

STEIN: But you haven’t done it yourself…Don’t you think you chould have set a good example for the future generations. You’re not the wealthiest man in congress, I know that, but you have enough means to take care of yourself in retirement…Couldn’t you have set an example?

PAUL: No. I think the programs are so designed, just as I use the post office too, I use government highways, I do that too, I use the banks, the federal reserve system, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to remove this in the same way on Social Security.

The stench of hypocrisy and the stench of the politician are the same.

Mark Driscoll Confirms What We Already Knew: He’s a Heretic and His ‘Church’ Is a Cult

Robert writes

Mathew Paul Turner has the story, entitled,”Exorcism at Mars Hill: One Woman’s Story“.  MPT is an excellent, and very fair (he followed professional journalistic procedure and called Mars Hill and gave them an opportunity to respond) author, who has covered Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill for years. And the evidence is pointing toward a potentially tragic climax.  When will it end? Story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story. After story.  The preponderance of evidence is growing and increasingly tilting toward what we already knew:  Mars Hill is a cult.  Mark Driscoll is a cult leader who claims supernatural powers of exorcism, psychic visions, and extrasensory perception.

Megiddo Today

Eric has added more photos (and seems to be uploading even more moment by moment as I post this), so check them out and then check them out again later.  I’ll note again, it seems like the ladies are doing most of the work.  Or, Eric simply takes more pictures of them…  it’s a toss up.   😉

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Scholars You Should Know: Francesca Stavrakopolou

Francesca is at the University of Exeter and there serves in the capacity of Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion.

Her research is primarily focused on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, and portrayals of the religious past in the Hebrew Bible. Her doctoral thesis explored the misrepresentation of the past in the Hebrew Bible and was published as King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities (de Gruyter, 2004). Her most recent book, Land of Our Fathers: The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims (T&T Clark, 2010), furthers her somewhat morbid interests by examining the relationship between the veneration of the dead and territorial claims in the Hebrew Bible. Thanks to a research grant from the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), she is now writing a book about the corpse and its social and religious impacts upon the living.

She has edited a volume on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions (with John Barton, University of Oxford) called Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah (T&T Clark, 2010) and another on environmental readings of biblical texts, called Ecological Hermeneutics (with her Exeter colleagues David Horrell, Cherryl Hunt and Chris Southgate; T&T Clark, 2010). Further projects underway include a book about the deities Baal and Asherah, a two-volume commentary on the book of Kings and a volume introducing students to the socio-religious world of the Hebrew Bible. She is also co-editor of a new series of books focusing on biblical characters, called Biblical Refigurations, published by Oxford University Press.

Alongside her specialism in ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, her research interests include social and religious responses to the dead; kingship in ancient West Asia/Near East; history and ideology in the Hebrew Bible; methods of historical reconstruction; constructs of ‘popular’ and ‘official’ religion; and ‘secular’ approaches to teaching and learning in biblical studies.

She’s a brilliant scholar and an authentically warm and delightful person. She’s a scholar you should know.

[Previous installments in the series are here].

The Southern Baptist Convention Was NOT Founded Just to Defend Slavery

True enough, ONE of its founding principles was to counteract the abolitionists in the North; but it has to be said, and it must be said, that the slavery issue was not the only issue at hand and under consideration.

The press seems to be making slavery the only concern which moved Baptists in the South in 1848 to establish their own Convention but of course there never are single reasons for anything.  Mind you, the defense of slavery was immoral.  It was wrong and it was wicked.  But it is historically dishonest to pretend that a bunch of backwoods racist hicks got together in order only to defend their right to own other human beings and hatched a denomination for that exclusive purpose (as the ignorant amongst the press seem to be implying).

Southern Baptists in Convention at the birth of their new denomination also desired, with all their hearts, to promulgate the Gospel, educate ministers, send missionaries, and coalesce in fellowship with persons of like mind who asserted the validity of believer’s baptism and the authority of Scripture for life and practice.

It is woefully tiresome to see the press parade half facts and semi-truths simply to make hay.  The press, and readers of news media, are morally obliged to get the whole story and not just the part which suits them.

The SBC has a past, we all admit that.  But our past isn’t all wickedness and racism.  We have done, and continue to do, marvelous things as the people of God, aided by his grace.  We live, we grow, we learn.  Can the press, can the media, say the same?  That same media which buries retractions on page 6b bottom corner where people are sure to overlook them…

Is Judaism Compatible with Democracy?

That’s the question being discussed in Jerusalem at a conference presently ongoing:

The Declaration of Independence defined Israel as a Jewish state that will ensure the “absolute equality of social and political rights to all its citizens regardless of the their religion, race or sex; and guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.” In this spirit, the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992) established the character of the State of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. But are the concepts of “Jewish” and “democracy” complementary values or do they sometimes stand in contradiction? Against this background, how does Israeli society choose to act when faced with tensions between Jews and Arabs; religious and secular; or men and women? What are the future tests that will challenge us on this issue? Will we be able to take the high road that will preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state?

The Hebrew University is live-blogging it- or rather, live tweeting it.  You can follow the Hebrew University on twitter @HebrewU.