Daily Archives: 27 Oct 2012

A Right Fine Debunking of the Wretched Anthropocentric Pseudo-Theology of the Seeker Sensitives

Here, all of which you should read.

If I had ten dollars for every time I’ve heard a seeker-driven pastor justify the crazy antics that happen in their churches by claiming that “the church doesn’t exist for believers”, I’d be able to purchase James MacDonald’s home with cash. These seeker-driven antics include such things as playing AC/DC’s Highway to Hell to open their Easter servicerefusing to preach the Bible with any depth or accuracy, performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller, recreating the famous kiss scene from the Spiderman movie and a whole host of other crazy worldly stunts.

Go read the rest.  Go along now.  And always remember, the Church exists for Christ, and so do you.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture, Theology


Another Quote of the Day, So Sue Me…

Faith, indeed, has also its eyes, but they are such as penetrate into the invisible kingdom of God, and are contented with the mirror of the Word. — John Calvin

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Theology


Quote of the Day

The faithful are not logs of wood, nor have they so divested themselves of human feelings, but that they are affected with sorrow, fear danger, and feel poverty as an evil, and persecutions as hard and difficult to be borne. Hence they experience sorrow from evils; but it is so mitigated by faith, that they cease not at the same time to rejoice. Thus sorrow does not prevent their joy, but, on the contrary, give place to it. Again, though joy overcomes sorrow, yet it does not put an end to it, for it does not divest us of humanity. — John Calvin

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Theology


How We Ought to View One Another’s Work

On 12 March 1551 Calvin wrote to Bullinger, in thanks for some books which Bullinger had sent as a gift-

I am glad to profit by the writings of others. And indeed intercourse like this is brotherly, when we know that the gifts of the Spirit are so distributed among us, that no one individual is sufficient for himself.

John Calvin

Heinrich Bullinger

That’s such an important insight as it opens wide a window on how we ought to read each other’s works.  None of us alone are sufficient in ourselves and none of us have complete knowledge.  When we read each other we are well advised to remember that.  And that the Spirit doesn’t pour every gift into one person but distributes them all to many so that we each both learn, and teach.

It’s really only a fool who thinks everyone should read him or her while they need read none.  It’s really only a fool who boasts of their own books and ignores the volumes of others.  Certainly there’s dross in lots of books – but we don’t discover the gold and silver if we aren’t willing to work through the dross.

Calvin and Bullinger didn’t agree on everything.  They didn’t have to.  Neither do we, to learn from each other.  So whether we fancy ourselves liberals or conservatives or moderates, we owe it to the Body of Christ to take one another seriously.  There’s truth to be found which we may not see but others do.  We know things others do not yet know.  We. Need. One. Another.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Church History, Theology


Another Reason to Hate Halloween: The Sexualization of Young Girls

I hate Halloween.  I just purely hate it.  There are lots of reasons, and the HuffPo has pointed out another: what used to be cute kids dressing up in cute or funny costumes has turned into yet another opportunity for the misguided and perverse to transform their little ones into tiny profligate adults.  Behold-

And there are many more at the link to the story.  And people wonder why teens have sex.  It’s the only thing that occupies society, why wouldn’t that perverse mentality infect youngsters too?  And no, I’m not being a prude.  Morality matters.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture, Total Depravity



Go Ahead, Use Craigslist… at Your Own Risk and Life’s Peril

Maybe some nut like this multiple murderer will show up at your house…

A suspect was in custody after being arrested Friday in the killing of three people and wounding of two others in suburban Los Angeles, authorities said.  Jade Douglas Harris, 30, had been detained and questioned Thursday after a stolen black Camaro was found in Los Angeles, about 20 miles north of suburban Downey, where the shootings occurred.  Harris was booked Friday on charges of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, according to a review of Downey Police Department records by the Los Angeles Times. Jail records show that Harris was held in lieu of $1-million bail.   …  The three people killed were Josimar Rojas, 26, Irene Cardenas, 35, and Susana Perez-Ruelas, 34. The two injured were Perez-Ruelas’ 13-year-old son and a middle-age woman.

The suspect had gone to the shop Wednesday after responding to an ad on Craigslist for the Camaro, said Martha Zerehi, a spokeswoman for the business.  After killing two and wounding another at a Downey business, the gunman grabbed Perez-Ruelas and her son Antonio and took them to the nearby family home, where the Camaro was, Zerehi said.

You see, in olden times you placed an ad in the local paper and you left your name, and address, and phone number.  And because you did, you could be tracked down and held responsible should you turn out to be some sort of weirdo or thief.

Now, though, anyone can post anything on Craigslist anonymously and no one need ever know who or what is advertised, or who may show up when they see those advertisements.  You’re taking your life into your hands when you use Craigslist.  If they were alive, the victims of the Craigslist Killer could tell you just how dangerous it is.

Where there is no accountability- where anonymity  holds sway, perils obtain.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture, Total Depravity



Bullinger and Islam

Perhaps the most well-informed Reformer on the religion of Islam was Heinrich Bullinger.  In 1567 he wrote a fairly long book titled Der Türgg : von Anfang und Ursprung dess türggischen Gloubens, der Türggen, ouch jrer Königen und Keyseren, und wie fürträffenlich vil Landen unnd Lüthen sy innet 266 Jaren yngenommen und der Christenheit abtrungen habind / kurtze Verzeichnuss durch Matthiam Erben zuo Rappoltzwyler &c. …

It exhibits an understanding of Islam relatively nuanced and more sensitive (if one might use such a word of a man who saw Islam as a heretical offshoot of Christianity and Judaism) than either Zwingli or Luther. It can be downloaded in pdf directly here.

It would be a good thing if theologians today exhibited the same sort of thorough knowledge of Islam that Bullinger managed in the 16th century.

Certainly we would be wrong to think Bullinger was sympathetic to Islam.  He definitely was not.  Indeed, he saw them in the same light, thanks to their violence, as he did the Munster Anabaptists (for whom he had no kind words).  But he could point to the good deeds of Muslims and he wasn’t afraid to compare them to the bad deeds of Christians (as a sort of cattle prod to Christians that they should surely do better than the Turks!).  For Bullinger the fact was that Islam rose because Christianity was weak and Christians were fighting among themselves for power and control.

In sum, for Bullinger, Islam was a foil off of which to provoke Christians to better living.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Church History



Very useful indeed. Far too few New Testament scholars read Aramaic. This needs to change.

For Christ and His Kingdom

“If our God to whom we pay reverence exists, he is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and he will deliver us from your hand, O king. And if not, let it be known to you, O King, that to your gods we will not pay reverence and we will not pay homage to the golden image that you have set up.”
-Daniel 3:17–18 (my translation)

I have always loved these verses. I love the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed Nego in the face of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Even under a tremendous amount of social and political pressure, and at the risk of their very lives, they refuse to bow to the golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar has erected. They are not certain that God willdeliver them. But they are certain that he can.And that is enough for them. Their fear of Him…

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture


I agree completely. And absolutely.

Apprentice 2 Jesus

The presidential campaign has reached the $2 billion mark. Each candidate, plus the “Super PACs,” plus political party dollars have added up to this presidential election raking in $2 billion.

It won’t stop. We will give reasons as to why this is “necessary,” and even some who will say it “helps the economy.”

But I find it unconscionable.

Democrats. Republicans. It’s about the money. It’s about the power and the ability to influence that power.

And. It’s. Wrong.

That kind of money that floats out there and people decided to turn it toward one election where the winner makes $400,000 a year? We can do nothing else with that money? Really?

Somewhere along the way this may actually hit us in our conscience. I know today is not that day. But, today, it bothers me.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture


Servetus Day, Or As I Like to Call it, “The Good Old Days”

The verdict read out on 27 October, 1553 against the heretic Servetus in Geneva is as follows-

Calvin attempting to persuade Servetus

Now, we the Syndics and Judges in criminal cases within this city, having reviewed the process carried on before us, at the instance of our Lieutenant having charge of such cases, against thee, Michael Servetus of Villanova, in the Kingdom of Aragon, in Spain, whereby guided, and by thy voluntary confessions made before us, many times repeated, as well as by thy books produced before us, we decree and determine that thou, Michael Servetus, hast, for a long time, promulgated false and heretical doctrine, and, rejecting all remonstrance and correction, hast, maliciously, perversely, and obstinately, continued disseminating and divulging, even by the printing of books, blasphemies against God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in a word, against the whole foundations of the Christian religion, thereby seeking to create schism and trouble in the Church of God, many souls, members of which may have been ruined and lost—horrible and dreadful thing, scandalous and contaminating in thee, thou, having no shame nor horror in setting thyself up in all against the Divine Majesty and the Holy Trinity, and having further taken pains to infect, and given thyself up obstinately to continue infecting the world with thy heresies and stinking heretical poison (tez heresies et puante poyson hereticale)—case and crime of heresy grievous and detestable, deserving of severe corporal punishment.

These and other just causes moving us, desiring to purge the Church of God of such infection, and to cut off from it so rotten a member, we, sitting as a Judicial Tribunal in the seat of our ancestors, with the entire assent of the General Council of the State, and our fellow-citizens, calling on the name of God to deliver true judgment, having the Holy Scriptures before us, and saying: In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we now pronounce our final sentence and condemn thee, Michael Servetus, to be bound and taken to Champel, and there being fastened to a stake, to be burned alive, along with thy books, printed as well as written by thy hand, until thy body be reduced to ashes. So shall thy days end, and thou be made an example to others who would do as thou hast done. And we command you, our Lieutenant, to see this our sentence carried forthwith into execution.*

And it was. And then

The terrible sentence pronounced, the pause that followed was first broken by Servetus; not to sue for mercy against the final award, from which he knew there was no appeal, but to entreat that the manner of carrying it out might be commuted for one less dreadful. ‘He feared,’ he said, ‘that through excess of suffering he might prove faithless to himself, and belie the convictions of his life. If he had erred, it was in ignorance; he was so constituted mentally and morally as to desire the glory of God, and had always striven to abide by the teachings of the Scriptures.’ The appeal to the humanity of the Judges, however, met with no response. Farel, indeed, who was present, interposed, telling him that to obtain any favour he should begin by acknowledging and showing contrition for his errors. But he gave no heed to this, and went on to say that ‘he had done nothing to deserve death; he prayed God, nevertheless, to forgive his enemies and persecutors.’ Rising from the suppliant attitude he had assumed, he exclaimed, ‘O God, save my soul; O Jesus, Son of the eternal God, have compassion upon me!’*

Interestingly, as the death march continued-

From the porch of the Hotel de Ville, where the sentence was delivered, a solemn procession was now formed for Champel, the place of execution, passing by the Rue St. Antoine, and leaving the city by the corresponding gate: the ‘Lieutenant Criminel,’ and other officers on horseback, a guard of archers surrounding the prisoner and Farel, who accompanied him on his death walk, and did not cease from efforts to wring from him an avowal of his errors. But in vain; he had no answer other than broken ejaculations and invocations on the name of God. ‘Is there no word in your mouth but the name of God?’ said Farel. ‘On whom can I now call but on God?’ said the unhappy Servetus. ‘Have you no last words for anyone—for wife or child, perhaps, if you have either?’ said the well-meaning pastor; but he met with no reply; though when admonished to do so, the doomed man made no difficulty about asking the people to join him in his prayers. This gave Farel an opportunity to say to the crowd, ‘You see what power Satan has when he has taken possession of the soul. This is a learned man, who perhaps even meant to do well; but he fell into the power of the devil, and the same thing might happen to any one of you. Though he has said that you have no God, he yet asks you to join him in his prayers!’*

Mr. Willis then writes

When he came in sight of the fatal pile, the wretched Servetus prostrated himself on the ground, and for a while was absorbed in prayer. Rising and advancing a few steps, he found himself in the hands of the executioner, by whom he was made to sit on a block, his feet just reaching the ground. His body was then bound to the stake behind him by several turns of an iron chain, whilst his neck was secured in like manner by the coils of a hempen rope. His two books—the one in manuscript sent to Calvin in confidence six or eight years before for his strictures, and a copy of the one lately printed at Vienne—were then fastened to his waist, and his head was encircled in mockery with a chaplet of straw and green twigs bestrewed with brimstone.

The deadly torch was then applied to the faggots and flashed in his face; and the brimstone catching, and the flames rising, wrung from the victim such a cry of anguish as struck terror into the surrounding crowd. After this he was bravely silent; but the wood being purposely green, although the people aided the executioner in heaping the faggots upon him, a long half-hour elapsed before he ceased to show signs of life and of suffering.

Immediately before giving up the ghost, with a last expiring effort he cried aloud; ‘Jesu, Thou Son of the eternal God, have compassion upon me!’ All was then hushed save the hissing and crackling of the green wood; and by-and-by there remained no more of what had been Michael Servetus but a charred and blackened trunk and a handful of ashes.

Grisly. But then Willis betrays his sympathies-

So died, in advance of his age, one of the gifted sons of God, the victim of religious fanaticism and personal hate*.

[N.B.- The title of this post isn’t intended to be taken seriously. I think what happened to Servetus and to the Anabaptists in Switzerland and all the folk who perished in religious persecution, at the hands of Reformed, Protestants, and Catholics, will rise up on the day of judgement and rightly accuse our theological forebears of the crassest and most unchristian behavior. And they will be right to do so. The religious persecution which has blackened the eye of the Church from every corner is despicable- and where religious persecution exists today, it is equally despicable whether it comes from Christians or Jews or Muslims].
*R. Willis- Servetus and Calvin: A study of an important epoch in the early history of the reformation (482ff).

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Church History



What Britain’s NHS is Teaching Children About Sex and Sexuality: It Sure Isn’t Self Respect

This is a bit – no – it’s (that is, the NHS website referenced in the story) a lot more than a bit, it’s completely disturbing and thoroughly inappropriate.

The Mail’s article title – Is it normal to have sex fantasies about dolphins? Bel Mooney delves into the disturbing Q&As on an NHS website for children.

No doubt they are well-meaning people: liberal, well-educated, proud to be open-minded. The men and women who have created Respect Yourself – a new sex education website for teenagers – certainly have a mission to explain.

I’m not so sure they can be well meaning. Our essayist continues

The overall philosophy behind this tacky exercise is as cheap as it is cheerful: when it comes to having sex you can do pretty well what you like, and no one should judge. Having taken the time to read through all the material on Respect Yourself, I was left feeling pretty depressed.

Me too. And the following is completely true:

Once, sensible sex education in school meant learning about where babies come from, and putting an end to the sad ignorance which left some young couples wondering how to face their wedding night. Nowadays, though, sex is peddled as the number one recreation. Never mind the old cycle of falling in love, getting married and having babies: in this brave new world, you try new sexual positions with as much enthusiasm as you follow fashion and football. The new website tries to reassure us that it is ‘by no means encouraging young people to have sex’. Yet I believe the overall tone of the advice does just that.

Indeed- that is precisely what it is doing. And Britain’s taxpayers are funding it- and they will also be funding the babies born and the mental illnesses produced when the website’s ‘advice’ is followed.

And (forgive me, but I need to give you a flavour of this website) bagpiping: ‘The act of having sex with a partner’s armpit.’ It is grotesque stuff. In fact, just about the only thing that isn’t thrown into the mix is any real sense of morality, or the possibility of personal restraint. For example, ‘promiscuous’ is defined as ‘a word we use for someone who sleeps around, having many different partners. It is often used in a negative, judgmental way. However, having sex does not make you a good or bad person.’ So the Respect Yourself team throw up their collective hands in horror at the thought of being ‘judgmental’ about sexual behaviour which can lead to appalling unhappiness, not to mention sexually transmitted diseases.

Give the whole piece a read and shudder at what children are being told about sex, the good gift of God to the married (and to the married only).

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture, Total Depravity


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Refo500 At the 16th Century Society Conference

At the Sixteenth Century Conference in Cincinnati, October 25-28, 2012 Refo500 sponsored two well-attended sessions related to various RefoRC-research projects including the Melanchthon edition, the project ‘Doctrina et Tolerantia’, the edition of the Acts of the Synod of Dordrecht and the research projects of Oslo and Emden on ‘Death in the Early Modern tradition’.  [Slightly edited].

As I customarily remark, if you get the chance to attend a Refo500 event or session or conference, you definitely should do so.

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Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 in Church History, Refo500