What Did Calvin Believe About Scripture?

We believe that the Word contained in these books [i.e., the biblical canon] has proceeded from God, and receives its authority from him alone, and not from men. And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it.

Whence it follows that no authority, whether of antiquity, or custom, or numbers, or human wisdom, or judgments, or proclamations, or edicts, or decrees, or councils, or visions, or miracles, should be opposed to these Holy Scriptures, but, on the contrary, all things should be examined, regulated, and reformed according to them. — CONFESSIO FIDEI GALLICANA (Calvin).

Brunner, Once More

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” The Christian community should be recognizable by the fact that its members are not like others who seek what is below, that they are not like the others who chase after the goods of this earth as if everything depended upon them, that they are not like the others who lose themselves in the world. That, Christians of all times have heard, read in the Bible, and therefore also known. But they obviously have not given others this impression. — Emil Brunner  [emphasis mine]

It has to be said, most modern Christianity is more concerned with being liked than with being unlike the world.

Call For Papers

calvin_conferenceA Call for Papers for the 11th International Congress on Calvin Research taking place in Zurich, August 24-28, 2014 is now available at the Congress’ Website.

Specifically-

The 11th international Congress on Calvin Research will take place August 24-28, 2014 in Zürich, hosted by the Institute for Swiss Reformation Studies at the Theological Faculty of the University of Zürich.  In addition to the plenary papers and the seminars, the program for the congress includes the possibility for a number of short presentations of research on John Calvin´s life and work. Therefore the Presidium invites scholars to send in their proposals. 

Download the PDF with further conference information here.

Via.

Without Christ, Man…

…… Is not only severed from God and from his original nature… but his attitude towards the world and to his fellow-man is also perverted.    … He behaves in a masterful way, snatches greedily at the world for his own purposes, and in so doing, is the slave of his lust for the world, enslaved by its spell and its glamour.  — Emil Brunner

Iain Banks: On Why He is Boycotting Israel

Here, to me, is the heart of it:

The particular tragedy of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people is that nobody seems to have learned anything. Israel itself was brought into being partly as a belated and guilty attempt by the world community to help compensate for its complicity in, or at least its inability to prevent, the catastrophic crime of the Holocaust. Of all people, the Jewish people ought to know how it feels to be persecuted en masse, to be punished collectively and to be treated as less than human. For the Israeli state and the collective of often unlikely bedfellows who support it so unquestioningly throughout the world to pursue and support the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people – forced so brutally off their land in 1948 and still under attack today – to be so blind to the idea that injustice is injustice, regardless not just on whom it is visited, but by whom as well, is one of the defining iniquities of our age, and powerfully implies a shamingly low upper limit on the extent of our species’ moral intelligence.

The solution to the dispossession and persecution of one people can never be to dispossess and persecute another. When we do this, or participate in this, or even just allow this to happen without criticism or resistance, we only help ensure further injustice, oppression, intolerance, cruelty and violence in the future.

Read it all.  With thanks to Keith Whitelam for the mention.

How Silly are you if a Portrait Offends?

Colin Bloom writes concerning…

Jackson Middle School, Ohio, where for the past 66 years a portrait of Jesus has been hanging in their entrance hall.

The portrait didn’t belong to the school, but to one of the student clubs. However, some radical and aggressive secularists from the FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) decided to take the school to court for their unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school. As if there weren’t more pressing matters to deal with in American schools…

It is worth noting that between the FFRF and the ACLU they have an annual budget of more than $100m to fight these cases.

Despite nobody complaining, despite it harming nobody, despite this picture hanging there benignly since the 1940’s, the School’s board took down the picture of Jesus because their insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses.

The school Superintendent said, “At the end of the day, we just couldn’t roll the dice with taxpayer money, when you get into these kinds of legal battles, you’re not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It’s not fair to take those resources from our kids’ education.”

Signs of the times. An angry atheist snivels and all the world must tremble. But such trembling is cowardice.  We should have a ‘Freedom From the Freedom From Religion Foundation‘.  Or we could just act with sense and tell them to sod off back to Wisconsin when they come to town-a-whining.

Angry atheists have declared war on Christianity- it’s time for Christianity to man up and stand its ground and not give an inch to these godless whack-jobs.

John Hesselink’s Centennial Remembrance of Emil Brunner

brunnerDuring the ten years immediately following the war, which were an exciting period of biblical renewal and theological ferment, American theological students were reading the works of the existentialist Søren Kierkegaard, the Lundensian Lutheran theologians Anders Nygren and Gustaf Aulén, and the so-called dialectical or neo-orthodox Swiss theologians Karl Barth and Emil Brunner. Though the U.S. had its own theological heavyweights, including Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, the latter two had not yet come into their own. Nor did students then read much Barth, because only one volume of his Church Dogmatics was available in English and his great commentary on Romans, though challenging and intriguing, was not suited for classes in systematic theology.

Thus students in most mainline seminaries and university divinity schools read more works of Brunner than of any other single theologian. High on reading lists were Revelation and Reason in prolegomena, Man in Revolt in anthropology, The Mediator in Christology, and The Divine Imperative and Justice and the Social Order in ethics. His seminal work The Divine-Human Encounter (later republished with a new introduction as Truth as Encounter) and his very popular little work Our Faith (translated into 19 languages) were also widely read. Also available in English in the 1 940s were his Gifford lectures, Christianity and Civilization (two volumes) ; by 1953 the first two volumes of his dogmatics, as well as Eternal Hope and the brief, controversial Misunderstanding of the Church, were available.

My first encounter with Brunner was indirect. In 1948, my sophomore year in college, I read the first volume of Christianity and Civilization in a philosophy of religion class. The first General Assembly of the World Council of Churches was meeting in Amsterdam at the time, and I recall vividly our professor sharing with us reports on Reinhold Niebuhr’s angry response to some of Karl Barth’s pronouncements there. Most of us in the class knew little about either Barth or Niebuhr, but we found Brunner’s approach a happy via media.

And considerably more. As much worth reading now as it was in 1989- the 100th anniversary of Brunner’s birth.

Marriage Is…

Either between a man and a woman or it is inequality unless it also includes marriage between-

-a man and a boy.
-a man and a girl.
-a woman and boy.
-a woman and a girl.
-two men and one woman.
-two women and one man.
-two men and two women.
-three women and five men.
-every conceivable numerical permutation.
-a man and an animal.
-a woman and an animal.
-a man and an inanimate object.
-a woman and an inanimate object.
-a man and a dead person.
-a woman and a dead person.

Now about here people who shout loudest for what they call marriage equality will suggest that both parties in a marriage have to be consenting. So, I ask, how do they know a 5 year old boy doesn’t mean it when he ‘loves’ his special older 45 year old mate? Or how do they know that the dog presently ‘loved’ by a woman doesn’t ‘love’ her back in whatsoever ways a dog might love? Are supporters of marriage equality also readers of minds?

Marriage is a social contract, construed as a boundary marker within a society so as to delimit as much as it prohibits.  It isn’t now nor has it ever been nor can it ever be a borderless frontier which anyone and everyone may inhabit- else the fabric of society itself is undermined and society unravels into lawlessness and anarchy.

So I have a series of questions for the supporters of marriage ‘equality’- and I hope that someone among them is able to answer questions directly without equivocating and/ or demonizing:

1- What sorts of ‘marriage’ would you deny?
2- Given your claims of questing for equality how do you justify your exclusions?
3- If all love is real love (as you suggest) then why doesn’t the love of a man for a dog qualify the two of them to marry?
4- How do you know the dog doesn’t love the man?
5- Define love.
6- If marriage is such a serious matter, why is promiscuity so widely practiced?

Feel free to respond in comments- but if you just ramble and don’t answer each of the 6 questions, I’ll presume you have no answer and you’ll just have to vent elsewhere.

A Brief Bio of Brunner

By  Kelly van Andel –

[Brunner] studied at both Zurich and Berlin universities and received his doctorate in theology from Zurich in 1913. His doctoral dissertation was entitled ‘The Symbolic Element in Religious Knowledge’. In 1916–1917. Brunner served as pastor in the mountain village of Obstalden in the Canton of Glarus. In 1919–1920, he spent a year in New York studying at Union Theological Seminary.

In 1921, Brunner wrote what he considered his second dissertation, Experience, Knowledge and Faith. Another book soon followed, Mysticism and the Word, a critique of the liberal theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher. Such work enhanced his academic reputation, and he was rewarded in 1924 with an appointment as professor of systematic and practical theology at the University of Zurich, which he retained until 1955. In the late 1920s, his reputation continued to increase with the publication of two more books, The Philosophy of Religion from the Standpoint of Protestant Theology and The Mediator.

In 1932, having fulfilled invitations to visit and lecture across Europe and the United States, Brunner wrote God and Man and The Divine Imperative. Later, in 1937, he published Man in Revolt and Truth as Encounter. In 1938, he again returned to the United States to accept a visiting professorship at Princeton Theological Seminary.

He returned to Europe prior to World War II. Following the war, Brunner was invited to give the Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews in 1947–1948. His lecture series, ‘Christianity and Civilization’, was divided into two parts, ‘Foundations’ and ‘Specific Problems’.

Brunner’s teaching career concluded in 1953–1955 at what was then the new International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. In the meantime, he published his three-volume dogmatics, including The Christian Doctrine of GodThe Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption and The Christian Doctrine of the Church, Faith, and Consummation. On the return journey from Europe to Japan, Brunner suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was subsequently physically impaired, which weakened his ability to work productively. For the next nine years, Brunner suffered from further strokes. He died on 6 April 1966.

Other books by Brunner include: Theology of Crisis (1929); Word and the World (1931);Divine-Human Encounter (1943); Justice and the Social Order (1945), Revelation and Reason: The Christian Doctrine of Faith and Knowledge (1946); Scandal of Christianity (1951);Misunderstanding the Church (1952); Eternal Hope (1954); Great Invitation: Zurich Sermons(1955); Letter to Romans: A Commentary (1959); I Believe in the Living God: Sermons on the Apostle’s Creed (1961).

Remembering Emil Brunner and His Life and Work

Today, being the anniversary of the death of the 20th century’s greatest theologian (eclipsing Barth in terms of true lasting contributions to our enterprise as the sun eclipses a flashlight dimly going with nearly expired batteries), and the heir of Zwingli, I’ll be pointing out aspects of his life through the day.  To start with- a gallery-

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