One of the Finest Collections of Essays I’ve Seen in a Very Long Time

A while back I remarked upon the fact that Herman Selderhuis had sent a volume titled  Calvinus clarissimus theologus: Papers of the Tenth International Congress on Calvin Research.

The publisher’s blurb suggests

This volume contains the papers of the 10th International Congress on Calvin research (Bloemfontein 2010) and represents the latest in Calvin research. The first part of the book consists of the plenary papers presented by leading scholars in Reformation history and theology and focused on the topic of reconciliation. In the second part a select number of short papers is presented in which a wide variety of topics is dealt with. Just as with the preceding published papers of Calvin congresses, this volume also will become a source as well as a guideline for future studies.

But that hardly communicates the sheer brilliance of the volume or the essays which it contains.  Contributors are In-Sub Ahn, Luca Baschera, Michael Beintker, Derik A. de Boer, Emidio Campi, Irene Dingel, Matthias Freudenberg, Frank van der Pol, and many, many others.  There are in total 22 essays and the Editor’s Preface (Selderhuis himself), who explains that the title of the volume is taken from a letter sent to Calvin- that of 29 May, 1561 by Johannes Sturm.

Some of the essay titles will surely give folk a sense of the whole:

Calvin’s Theology of Reconciliation in his Sermons

Total Depravity? The Consequences of Original Sin in John Calvin and Later Reformed Theology

Probing similarities and differences between John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger

Gläubige Vernunft – vernünftiger Glaube: Luther, Melanchthon und Calvin und die Frage nach einem vernünftigen Glauben

“The Institutes of Life” A Pietistic Portrait of Calvin

Essays are in French, German, or English. And they are uniformly brilliant.

Normally, as all will know, collections of essays (or conference papers) frequently – like music cd’s – have a few good contributions and a lot of Dreck. Not so here. The essays are all extremely intelligent and meticulously crafted. It is no exaggeration to say that this really is one of the finest collections of essays I’ve seen in a very long time. Contributors and Editor alike are deserving of appreciation and this work is deserving of an expansive readership.

Maybe It’s Time To Place Armed Guards at Church Doors

Ronnie Lee Hardesty is no pillar of salt, but he did interrupt a Tennessee church service by declaring he was high on bath salts, cops say.  The 36-year-old was allegedly holding a hammer when he burst into the Ross Campground Church in Kingsport on Sunday and made his announcement, according to Times News.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s deputies said Hardesty appeared to be high — as he allegedly admitted to the congregation — when they found him near the church grounds.  “[Officers told] Mr. Hardesty to come to us, and he stated, ‘I’m not going back to jail’ and refused to put the hammer on the ground,” Deputy Jason Montgomery told the paper. “[We] unholstered our weapons and gave verbal commands to drop his weapon, at which time Mr. Hardesty began to run toward an open field to cross a wire fence.”

Hardesty then allegedly swung the hammer at officers and started a scuffle. He tried to flee, but was taken into custody after a short chase on foot, according to theAssociated Press.  Deputies later found hammer marks on the church door. Hardesty was found to have a syringe hidden in his sock, and reportedly admitted to banging on the church door with his weapon.

Good grief.  Drug users really are a feckless lot.  A totally depraved rabid lot of loons.

A.T. Robertson on the Importance of Educated Clergy: Take Note, Mr Blowers

In his inaugural address A.T. Robertson (no raging liberal that one!) said

There exists a half-suppressed feeling among many good people that much learning is not good for a preacher. And this feeling is not always suppressed, but finds expression in various insinuations aimed at educated ministers and the schools they attended. Some people, having heard that “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” conclude that much learning is much more so. Hence they would limit the “much” to a very small amount, and so do many preachers. A tender fear is entertained that the young minister will become heretical if he knows too much. And so he may, if he studies along heretical lines. But all learning is not skeptical. There is still such a thing as reverent scholarship. Surely infidelity and rationalism have not absorbed all knowledge. You may even hear that a theological seminary is a very nest of heresy, and that, too, where Calvinism of the straitest sort is taught. But such an objection to theological education may arise from ignorance of the real workings of the institution.*

Perhaps that’s just what is going on in the mind of Mr. Blowers at Emmanuel Christian Seminary.  Perhaps he, and others, need to remember that scholars can also be Christian, and deeply so.  There’s more to fear from uneducated Clergy than from those Clergy who are both educated AND faithful.

_____________
*Preaching and Scholarship: Inaugural Address of Archibald Thomas Robertson.

Oh Those German Catholics

NPR tells us that

Germany’s bishops have a clear message for the country’s 25 million Catholics: The road to heaven requires more than faith and good intentions; it requires tax payments, too.  Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don’t pay the country’s church tax, they’ll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.  Registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews pay a surcharge of up to 9 percent on their income. The Catholic Church alone received some $6.5 billion in 2011.  In issuing the stringent new decree, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops’ conference, said that not paying taxes for the church is a grave offense, and that sacraments will be banned for those who distance themselves from the church.

Let me summarize this for those not in the Catholic Church in Germany:  pay what you owe the Church or you’re going to hell!   Man, I wish we had that in America for the Baptist church.  Darn German Catholics, they come up with all the fun ideas first….

XKV8R: The Official Blog of Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

Dr. Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be the keynote speaker at the 2012 University of Iowa Department of Religious Studies E.P. Adler Lecture.

The lecture is entitled: “Ossuaries and the Burial of Jesus and James“. In this slide-illustrated lecture, Professor Magness will survey Jewish tombs and burial customs in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus, and consider evidence for the claims surrounding the so-called “James ossuary” and the “Talpiyot tomb,” recently claimed to be the tomb of Jesus and his family.

(Click here for flyer.)

The lecture will take place on Thursday October 11, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum. (The gold dome of the Old State Capitol building in the center of the Pentacrest)

A reception co-sponsored by the Dept. of Religious…

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Stuff They Don’t Teach You in Seminary, But they Should

Seminarians, take note:

1- Always make sure your fly is closed before you stand before a crowd.
2- Never leave the lapel mic on when you go to the bathroom. Never leave it on…
3- Don’t meet alone with any woman who isn’t old enough to be your grandma.
4- Don’t send pictures of yourself at the beach to the youth in your church on Facebook.
5- Never grow a beard, goatee, or especially a soul patch. They each, in ascending order, make you look more silly.
6- When you baptize people, tell them beforehand not to wear sheer white tops.
7- Never read from, or even own, a copy of ‘The Living Bible’.
8- If you’re given a Rick Warren or Joel Osteen book, be gracious, but throw it away. It’s trash.
9- Always eat anything on your plate – or be good at covering the inedibles with a paper towel.
10- Never take part in ‘blessing’ animals, cars, dogs, horses, houses, or other items or objects.
11- Pat children on the head, not on the bottom. You aren’t in the NFL and neither are they.
12- Breath mints. Never leave home without them.
13- Don’t take seriously any insult yelled at you by an Elder or Deacon.
14- Ignore everyone who says ‘I think we should have a sermon from….’
15- Never conduct a wedding for anyone you don’t see sitting in a pew regularly.
16- Never send a bill to a family for ‘services rendered’ when you pray at their family reunion.

If you remember these 16 commandments you’ll be much happier. Ignore them and you’ll quit within 2 years of beginning your ministry.

Addendum

17- If you endorse a politician from the pulpit, you should resign right afterwards. Or better, right before.
18- Never use ‘sermon books’. If you can’t preach from the Bible, shut up.

Happy 81st Birthday, Giovanni Garbini

Though I’m a day late with it, since Prof. Garbini’s birthday is actually 8 October.

As noted just the other day, he continues to be productive and is working still on useful and important things.

In fact, over the years he has published an absolutely astonishing, mind boggling amount.  Indeed, his bibliography is 123 pages long (which makes me feel quite bad since I’ve produced only a fraction of that amount).

Here’s the volume necessary to contain the listing-

All of us should be so productive.  And so long lived!  May he live for many added years and continue to enlighten us all.

Oh Republicans… Are These Guys The Best You Have?

A candidate for the Arkansas legislature, Charlie Fuqua, says children who don’t demonstrate “respect for parents” should be put to death, the Arkansas Times reports. Fuqua is a former member of the Arkansas legislature and has received support from the Arkansas Republican Party and two sitting members of Congress.

Here’s the key passage from Fuqua’s 2012 book, “God’s Law: The Only Political Solution“:

The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21…

Oh my…  Are these extremist nuts the best the Repubs have?

More on the Subject of Academic Freedom

In the Times Higher Education, this from a month back-

More than 30 years ago, Index on Censorship published a special issue on academic freedom titled “Scholarship and its enemies”. It included a report on the persecution of scientists in the Soviet Union, an article about the harassment of scholars in Czechoslovakia, a feature detailing how Bantu education in South Africa politicised black students and an account of university education in Libya under the rule of Mu’ammer Gaddafi.

Since those once monolithic regimes have now fallen, it is ironic that the article that has dated the least and is even prophetic in its vision of the future is a portrait of the threat to universities in the UK written back in 1981. Anthony Arblaster and Steven Lukes warned that academia, and the freedom of scholars, “is under constant and growing pressure from its paymasters, the local education authorities and, above all, central government. The general tendency of these pressures is towards a crude and debased utilitarianism which sees education as an industry, or a production line whose purpose is to ‘turn out’ persons equipped with the various kinds of skills which the economy and current employment opportunities require”.

It’s a topic that’s still relevant.  Especially now.

A Story Heard ‘Round the World: My Daughter Won’t Go to Church Anymore…

Kinderen die hun christelijke ouders duidelijk maken niet meer mee te willen naar de kerk. Het is een verschijnsel dat steeds vaker voorkomt. Dit geldt ook voor de dochter van Marjan uit Barendrecht. Tegenover CIP.nl laat ze weten haar dochter absoluut niet het geloof en de kerk te willen opleggen en veel waarde te hechten aan de kracht van gebed. “Bidden is geen garantie, maar ik vraag altijd om Gods leiding. En voorbede en zegenen heeft veel kracht.”

And more- which you can read here.  Probably the only thing that parents can remember at such times is that if you

Train up a child in the way he should go;

then

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

People have a tendency to return to their roots as they grow older.  Some don’t, it’s true, but most do.  And if a person is shown, by parental example, that God matters, then when they mature they realize the truth.  Immature people turn from God just as immature teens turn from their parents.

Robert Myles’ Pretty Good Review of Crossley’s ‘Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism’

Over on his blog, Myles writes

Following on from my previous multi-post review of James Crossley’s recent book Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism (here and here), I want to skip a few chapters (hopefully returning to them at a later stage) and focus on Crossley’s eighth chapter, “‘Forgive Them; for They Do Not Know What They Are Doing!’ Other Problems, Extremes and the Social World of Jesus.” In terms of the overall argument of “neoliberalism” as an ideological context for Jesus scholarship, Crossley situates this chapter as dealing with an “extreme” that is able to become centrist and pose as non-ideological. The chapter makes an important contribution, and while I do not have space to go into all the details, I have raised some particular points of interest.

It’s a pretty good review actually and especially insightful is the following snippet-

To confirm Crossley’s observations [about Malina] up to this point, we need only to turn to a quote by Malina in the recent edited volume, Methods for Matthew (2009). In his contribution, which introduces the social scientific approach and its influence on Matthean scholarship, Malina writes (158):

the social systems, cultural values and behaviors, and person types of Mediterraneans are all alien to modern Western readers. The way to access those social systems begins with a comparative understanding of contemporary Mediterranean people and their traditional values. Thus, we may access some of the social systems of biblical peoples through comparative analysis of villagers in Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt (but not Israelis, since Israelis are a non-Semitic, central European people of Turkic origin).

Not only is the blurring of ancient and contemporary geographical regions somewhat awkward, but the last statement is, one might reasonably conclude, most revealing.

Readers will know that Crossley takes Malina to task for his rather bizarre views on ‘Jews’.  Give Myles’ whole series a look.

The Tipping Point

America- where Protestants are a minority now

For the first time in its history, the United States does not have a Protestant majority, according to a new study. One reason: The number of Americans with no religious affiliation is on the rise.

The percentage of Protestant adults in the U.S. has reached a low of 48 percent, the first time that Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has reported with certainty that the number has fallen below 50 percent. The drop has long been anticipated and comes at a time when no Protestants are on the U.S. Supreme Court and the Republicans have their first presidential ticket with no Protestant nominees.

Among the reasons for the change are the growth in nondenominational Christians who can no longer be categorized as Protestant, and a spike in the number of American adults who say they have no religion. The Pew study, released Tuesday, found that about 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years.

The decline of Christianity in America continues apace.  As I’ve said for years, we are becoming quite European and the center of Christianity is shifting to Africa and Asia; from whence missionaries will in the future be sent, to us.