Daily Archives: 28 Aug 2012

Luther Responds to His Clever Devils

The pope never hurt me, except at first when Sylvester wrote against me and put this legend in the front of his book: ‘master of the sacred palace.’ Then I thought, ‘Good God, has it come to this that the matter will go before the pope?’ However, our Lord God was gracious to me, and the stupid dolt wrote such wretched stuff that I had to laugh.

Since then I’ve never been frightened. Now, at my age, I’m not disturbed by such people. I have nothing to do with them. But the devil looks for me when I am at home in bed, and one or two devils constantly lie in wait for me. They are clever devils. If they can’t get anywhere in my heart, they grab my head and torment me there, and when that becomes useless, I’ll turn my behind upon them. That’s where they belong.  — Martin Luther

[Love him or hate him, you have to smile when you read such things].

In Related News…

Chris Tilling has just asked me to review his new book!   Ok, if that’s what he wants, I’ll do it…

The Life of God in the Soul of the Church

Thabiti Anyabwile’s book arrived from the goodly and kind Shaun Tabatt last week and its publisher’s blurb claims

In this transformational book, trusted pastor Thabiti Anyabwile repositions our thinking about spiritual fellowship. Extending the concept of Divine life presented in Henry Scougal’s classic The Life of God in the Soul of Man, Anyabwile contends that union with Christ is not individualistic, but is discerned in the soul of the local church. This vision of spiritual fellowship is not centred on external activities and programs, but on our shared life in Christ, as we share one another’s sufferings, use our spiritual gifts for the good of the body, partner in spreading the gospel and grow spiritually together.

Well, then, how to put this…  This book is nearly unreadable.  It isn’t in any sense ‘transformational’ unless by that word one understands oneself as being transformed from a joyful reader to a person whose soul is crushed under the weight of dread despair.

It is little more than the stringing together of what its author imagines to be pithy and clever observations on the Church.  What mystifies me more than that the book was published is the fact that people like Challies and Mohler and Chester and Carter could be found to promote it with back-cover praises.

Its two parts, Foundations: Union With Christ, and Expressions: Applying our Union aim, it would appear, to lead the reader to a deeper appreciation of their mystical union with Christ and one another.  What a dreadful and lamentable thing mysticism is.  It’s little more than anthropocentrism gussied up in the guise of ‘spiritual sounding’ rubbish.  Rightly did Emil Brunner excoriate christian mysticism (in his brilliant book on Schleiermacher) and our present author could have spared himself many sideways glances had he too taken the time to appreciate Brunner’s work.

The author’s style is worse than the subject matter.  Take this singular example chosen at random from many, many possibilities:

Someone recently told me they did not think First Baptist Church was ‘friendly’ for people who were not already Christians.  They preferred a seeker-sensitive atmosphere.  I do not believe that to be true for a moment.  Ronnie, a professing atheist, was about as non-Christian as you could get.  But she tells me she felt very much welcomed and cared for by the people of First Baptist.  Her new life in Christ began in large measure with her friendship with Troy and many of you.  We don’t need seeker-friendly services as we need seeker-friendly lives (p. 101).

It’s like that page after page after horrifying page.  Is our author’s heart in the right place?  I’m sure it is.  Is his spiritual gift exposition?  It wouldn’t seem so.  We hear far more about the Church he pastors than we do about the text which, in each chapter, really serves as little more than a launching pad for what he wishes to say.

I wish, with all my heart, that I could have discovered something positive to say about this volume.  I get no pleasure from urging anyone to avoid it.  But avoid it you must, if you wish to not put it down so incredibly frustrated that you reject whatever might come from the publisher in the future.  it is filled with the sort of pale theology we have come to expect from the likes of Rick Warren.  It is, in its sum and substance, Warren-esque.  And that, goodly reader, is no commendation.

Do not buy, do not read, and do not borrow.  And if someone gives it to you as a gift, take it as a sign that they wish to torture you with the aim being that you end up in an asylum somewhere.

[And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read something that will restore my faith in the theological enterprise].

The Quest for the Historical Peter

IVP Academic writes on the Facebook-

Take a look at the first chapter of The Life and Witness of Peter, forthcoming from Larry R. Helyer: http://ivpr.es/NUGO3I.  Helyer embarks on a comprehensive study of a much-neglected figure in New Testament studies in this single-volume treatment of the Apostle Peter.

I don’t want to seem a Debbie Downer and perhaps the book will have loads of info unknown heretofore.  But we can scarcely know anything at all about the historical Jesus (and truth told, absolutely nothing that isn’t filtered through a theological sieve).  What hope can there be that we can uncover the ‘life’ of Peter?

Maybe Helyer has the answers.

The Carnival is Coming

Not the kind of Carnival Zwingli excoriates in his discussion of the Papal Keys (and the Papst-Esel) as follows-

Hence a carnival of every kind of crime so unrestrained and so widespread that no tongue, no pen, can describe what a quantity of evils of every kind have been let out by these Keys.

This carnival isn’t a collection of every kind of crime so widespread and unrestrained that no tongue, no pen, can describe what a quantity of evils it is. Nay, it’s the much admire Biblical Studies Carnival of the Biblioblogs. If you have suggestions, time is about up.

Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity: Conference Announcement

Anthony LeDonne asked that I pass along word of this conference– so I am.

Speakers:  Dale C. Allison Jr. — (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), Mark Goodacre — (Duke University), Chris Keith — (Lincoln Christian University), Anthony Le Donne — (Lincoln Christian University), Loren T. Stuckenbruck, — (Princeton Theological Seminary), Jens Schroeter — (Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin), Dagmar Winter — (Newcastle Diocese, UK), Rafael Rodríguez — (Johnson University)

Sponsors: United Theological Seminary and University of Dayton

Times:  Thursday, Oct. 4, 2 p.m.- 5 p.m.  Friday, Oct. 5m 8:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Place: South Park United Methodist Church, 140 Stonemill Rd., Dayton, OH 45409


Cost: $70 registration fee; Lunch $10. Contact: Robbie Collins. rcollins@united.edu | 938.529.2201.  United Theological Seminary and The University of Dayton (Dayton, OH) are co-hosting a two-day conference to critique the assumptions and methods of the so called “Third Quest of the Historical Jesus” on October 4 and 5, 2012. The conference will be held at Southpark United Methodist Church, 140 Stonemill Road, Dayton, OH 45409.

So there you have it.

Really Republicans? REALLY???????

I’m speechless, thanks to this tweet-

Michelle Goldberg ‏@michelleinbklyn — You might think that someone at the RNC For Life event would offer a pregnant lady a seat, but you’d be wrong. #GOP2012

I guess all that ‘life is precious’ talk most Republicans spew is just blather. When it comes to a practical application in something so small as offering an expectant lady a seat, it’s too much to do…

Despicable. Where has decency gone?????

The Israeli Court Was Never Going to Find in Favor of the Corrie Family

The suit was doomed from the start. There’s simply no way the Israeli military would be held accountable for this girl’s death. Further action by the family, sadly, will end in the same verdict. Israel’s courts are as controlled by the fringe as American courts are.

Sure, she could have stepped out of the way. But the bulldozer driver also could have refused order to run her over.

How Has ‘Bible Software’ Changed The Way We Read the Bible?

Bryan Bibb writes on Facebook the following fascinating observations-

Experiencing the Bible through a system like Accordance fundamentally transforms the reading process, and changes the nature of the text itself. Technological advances in the past have had comparable effects, i.e., the development of the codex over the scroll, mass printing technology, etc.

The fear of a “fragmentary” reading is particularly interesting to me. The software allows one to view the context of a passage as desired, however narrow or broad. That context, however, could be linear within the passage or spread across the canon (and outside it!) through a search results window.

Ultimately, this system challenges the notion of “canon” by creating a new “text,” the integration of the Bible with extra resources such as ancient texts, tools, and commentaries.


How Do You Choose a Baby Name? By Using the ‘Pick a Name From the Bible’ Wheel

Simply select the sort of baby name you would like.  For instance, if you’re one of those reprehensibly horrific hipster ‘Christians’ wearing your goatee and your turtleneck or you sport a stupid soul patch and you pretentiously use your first name as an initial and your middle name (as in, oh I don’t know, T. Michael… etc.) then simply select a name from the biblical book in your category.

Or if you like those unpronounceable names… select that category.  Then turn to the biblical book in that category and just plop your finger on the page somewhere and voila!

via our friends at Ref.ch on FB

Did Jesus Walk on Water? Or Bones???

A humorous little tale highlighting the importance of proper translation of the Bible:

Isn’t the Bible in the regional or national language adequate? After attending a recent church service, Lika speakers in Democratic Republic of Congo answered a quick and confident, “No!”

During the Sunday service the Congolese pastor was preaching in French, the national language. An interpreter stood at the front of the church, ready to orally translate the pastor’s message into Lingala, the regional language, for the benefit of those not fluent in French.

The pastor read Matthew 14:25 from his French Bible, “And late in the night, Jesus came towards them, walking on the water.” The interpreter then translated the verse into Lingala. Unfortunately, the French words for “water” and “bone” sound the same. The interpreter had Jesus walking on bones rather on water! Many people were mystified and confused: How did Jesus walk on these bones? Who put the bones there for Jesus? Who had killed the people so Jesus would have bones to walk on?

Many left the service that day with irrelevant questions clouding their minds rather than understanding and awe filling their hearts. The Lika team is now thoroughly convinced of the need for mother tongue Scriptures.

Yes, clearly, a proper translation is needed!  Jesus didn’t tread on bones.