Monthly Archives: October 2014

Signs of the (Sickness of our) Times


Milton Almeida Gets the Reformation Right

Yup- exactly right-


#ICYMI: Timothy George on the Impropriety of the Christian ‘Hell House’

He observes

hellIt may be that some young people will find their way to genuine faith through such ghoulish shenanigans, but their overall import is a distortion of the Gospel. Those who indulge in such displays are taking something serious, eternal, and consequential and treating it with a finesse of a butcher doing brain surgery. In the process, they trivialize evil and domesticate grace. I seriously doubt that the Old Fiend himself is much upset about how his wiles are portrayed in such faux-dramas. He knows that conversion without discipleship is not likely to be lasting or deep. He is well aware that evangelism as entertainment seldom, if ever, results in genuine repentance or transformation.

Read the whole piece.  Every word of it.

A Day Which Altered History


I’ve Won!

‪#‎ReformationDay‬ is trending on twitter – above trick or treat and above Martin Luther!!!! I’ve WON!


Mars Hill Megachurch is Dead

The Christian Post reports

The Seattle-based megachurch Mars Hill, once led by pastor Mark Driscoll, has begun the process of dissolving, and its 13 regional congregations have been asked to either go independent, merge with another church, or disband entirely, announced Dave Bruskas, the churches teaching pastor while in transition, at noon on Friday.

Although Driscoll was not mentioned in the “Local Mission, Local Churches” blogpost on the church’s website released as a letter to Mars Hill by Bruskas, the normally outspoken pastor resigned on Oct. 14 from the multi-city megachurch he and his wife helped found 18 years ago after a series of calls were made for him to step down from ministry due to his admitted “divisive” leadership style.

They should have been autonomous churches in the first place.  They should have been planted as mission churches and not as part of some grand scheme by Mars Hill to control congregations across the land.

This is the major theological problem with megachurches: they have no idea what missionary minded churches are.  They do not distribute, they collect.  Rather than planting churches in various locations, they collect people like property and then boast of their multiple campuses and tens of thousands of members.

If megachurches understood Christianity they would plant churches and not establish satellites.  But whenever wealth comes the way of the greedy and controlling, it is only natural that they try to get as much of it as they can.  That is why Mars Hill has died: greed killed it.


Randomness# Karl Barth’s Girlfriend Was a Pretty Girl

Charlotte v. Kirschbaum

Charlotte v. Kirschbaum- Barth’s Secretary (and author of a good chunk of the KD)


Little wonder old Karl spent so much time admiring the beauty of the Bergli…  Barth wrote so much because it was penance for his Bergli visits.

I’ll Take Theses, Thank You

luthervia Jeff Carter

Francesca Stavrakopolou: The Interview Podcast

From T&T Clark

In this podcast Dominic Mattos, Publisher for T&T Clark, talks to Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou about her books Land of Our Fathers (T&T Clark, 2010) and Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah (T&T Clark, 2010) and about the challenges and opportunities facing biblical studies as a discipline.

Listen to the podcast on this page using the player above. Alternatively, you can download it from iTunes or download it as an MP3.

It’s Just So Narrow and Blinkered


So, thought I to myself, I’ll go look… with trepidation.  And alas, that fear was justified for once more it isn’t at all the case that the Reformation in its fullness is presented: it’s the reforming efforts of just Calvin and Luther.

It’s just so narrow and blinkered to promote, even unintentionally, the idea that there were only one or two who set about to Reform the Church.  And so very frustrating to anyone with any sense of history.

Ohhh- It’s the Most Scathing Denunciation of Halloween Ever. And I Love It! Because It’s TRUE

A German essayist writes

Halloween – einer der dümmsten Importe aus den USA.

And then it gets really good-

Plärrende Kinder, doofe Drohungen und dämliche Dekoration – Halloween zählt zu den dümmsten Importen, die je den Großen Teich überwunden haben. Deutsche werden zu lupenreinen Amerikanern und alles tanzt nach der Pfeife der Großindustrie.

And even better from there.

Zuverlässig bringt der Halloween-Blödsinn die hässlichen Seiten eines Menschen zutage: seine Verschwendungssucht, seine Phantasielosigkeit – er tanzt nach der Pfeife der Großindustrie –, seine Schadenfreude, seine Plumpheit, seine Indezenz, seinen Grobianismus, seinen wachsweichen Opportunismus.

Yikes.  Ouch.  Enjoy. With thanks to Ref.CH for the link.  And if you don’t read German, well, try Google translate or Bing or whatever.  You’ll get the gist.

Zwingli: On Luther

In evidence that Zwingli was a nicer person than Luther (in the same way that I’m nicer than anyone you know) –

Allusions to Luther in the Zwingli correspondence in 1519 in chronological order:

zwingli_study1February 22, 1519. Zwingli to Rhenanus: “Thanks for writing so carefully about M. Luther. But the Abbot of St. John’s has very opportunely sent me the letter of a certain tutor at Wittenberg, in which the writer felicitates him upon reading the writings of Luther, a man who really recalls the image of Christ. He adds that as soon as Luther got release from the Cardinal of St. Sixtus [Cardinal Cajetan] at Augsburg [October 20, 1518] he returned straight to Wittenberg [arrived October 31st], where he now preaches Christ constantly, to the great admiration of all, prepared even to be crucified for him.… Luther is approved by all the learned at Zurich” (Suppl., 15, 16).

March 19. From Rhenanus, Basel: “I have copied for your benefit the letter Martin Luther sent to the Adelmanns of Augsburg. The manly and firm bearing of the man will delight you” (vii., 71).

March 21. Zwingli to Rhenanus: “I read eagerly your words and Luther’s” (Suppl., 17).

zwingli_pitts3March 25. Same to same: “[Sander] did not read the copy of Luther’s letter, but he had heard a few things from me, such, for instance, as that the words of Luther and Eck taken down hurriedly by shorthand writers [at the Leipzig Disputation, June 27 sqq., 1519] will be revised and submitted to the judgment of the Christian world, etc.” (Suppl., 18).

May 7. From Rhenanus, Basel: “You soon shall have the Theses of Martin Luther’s which he is to defend at Leipzig against errors old and new, together with a letter in which he portrays Eck better than any artist could” (vii., 74).

May 24. Same to same, Basel: “Adam Petri, the printer—I think you know him—is about to print some new treatises of Luther’s German, a plain and characteristically Lutheran commentary on the Lord’s Prayer [cf. i., 254], and also a German Theology [the famous Theologia Germanica so admired by Luther], compared with which the subtle theology of Scotus appears gross and dull; and other books of this sort. If you publicly commend these to the people, that is, persuade them to buy them, the work upon which you are engaged will succeed in accordance with your most ardent desires.… I send you as a gift the Theses of Luther against Eck and the [commentary on the Lord’s] Prayer in German” (vii., 77). [Zwingli commended these from the pulpit, Myconius says (p. 7), without reading them. But this is apparently contradicted by what follows.]

zwingliJune 7. Zwingli to Rhenanus: “I do not fear that Luther’s commentary on the Lord’s Prayer will be displeasing to me, nor the popular “Theology,” which you say is being finished, and spread among the people in parts every day. I shall buy a considerable quantity, especially if he deals somewhat with the adoration of saints in the commentary” (Suppl., 21, 22).

June 25. Same to same: “When the writings of Luther have come from the press, please send them by the first messenger or carrier who can bring a considerable number” (Suppl., 23).

July 2. From Rhenanus, Basel: “If this Lucius, who brings you this letter, seems to you to have enough prudence and acumen, I should like to have him carry the tracts of Luther, particularly the commentary on the Lord’s Prayer—the edition for laymen—to sell them from town to town, and throughout the country, even from house to house, for this will forward our plans in a wonderful degree, and will be an assistance to him. And I do not see why he should not be under great obligation to you, if by your exhortation particularly he shall have been changed from a tramp to a book-agent I And then the wider he is known the more easily he will find buyers. Who will hesitate to give him a sesterces [i. e., 4½ cents] for an excellent book when he would in any event have made him a present of a trifle? But care must be taken that he have no other kind of books to sell, especially at the present time. For he will sell the more books of Luther’s if he has no other, for the purchaser will be, so to speak, coerced into buying them, as would not be the case if he had a variety. If, however, you do not deem him a suitable person look about for some other one to whom you can give letters to your friends, both clerical and lay. In the meantime I have become owner of Luther’s commentary in German on the Seven Penitential Psalms, which is both devotional and learned” (vii., 81). [Rhenanus was very zealous in distributing Luther’s works, and as appears from his letter was quite modern in his methods. If living to-day he would be sought for to run a subscription-book department!]

zwingliJuly 2. Zwingli to Rhenanus: “William [à Falconibus] dropped this at dinner when Luther had been mentioned; the provost of the monastery of St. Peter’s in Basel [Ludovicus Berus] has sent Luther’s works to Rome as soon as they were printed” (Suppl., 24).

July 2. From Simon Stumph, Basel: “Have the copies of M. Luther on the Lord’s Prayer distributed everywhere, both in country and in city, among the unlearned people as well as among the priests. For I trust that all the people of Zurich will buy it on your advice; and I think it would be well if someone were engaged to do nothing else than to carry it around from place to place, so matters necessary for salvation should become known among all people” (vii., 82).

July 17. From James Ammann, Basel: “I understand that you have Luther’s “Pater Noster,” as they call it; otherwise I should have sent it by this messenger. I think that Luther has nothing else out which you have not seen except a short sermon in German on the married state. As soon as it is printed at Strassburg I shall send it to you. I have seen a copy of it at Beatus’ [Rhenanus]” (vii, 83).

September 23. From Nepos (proof-reader for the printer Froben), Basel: “A little work by Luther on the power of the pope is in our hands, and as soon as it is printed it shall come to you” (vii., 86, 87).

zwingli_pitts6November 13. Zasius, the eminent jurist of Freiburg, one of the great men among the Church laity, sent a long letter all about Luther, in which these sentences occur: “There are in [Luther] many qualities which you may praise and defend, on the other hand some which excite a little opposition. He has rightly taught that all our good deeds are to be referred to God and nothing is to be attributed to our own will except wickedness.… But in this matter of indulgences … Luther, more bold than felicitous, hastened to cut the Gordian knot.… What Luther has sown abroad about penitence and faith I regard as most salutary.… Nevertheless, there run through the teachings of Luther blemishes which affect me painfully.… Finally Luther has brought out in his latest little book some things which he regards as proved, as that the pope is not by divine right universal bishop. How much this displeases me I cannot express.… Oh, that there were some upright one who would influence Luther not to be so violent but to have regard for the modesty which he everywhere praises, that he mingle not dross with his gold” (vii., 92 sqq.).

December 17. From Johann Faber, Constance: “You shall know at an early date what I think in the matter of Carlstadt and Luther. When I have completed this piece of work I will take care that you see it as soon as possible” (vii., 101). [Zwingli did not want to receive it; cf., vii., 116.]

zwingli98December 28. From Myconius, Lucerne: “There has come into my hands through a Dominican monk an epitome of the discussion of Luther with Eck. I should have sent this to you if I had been sure that you did not have it. This is written by Luther himself, so that I have as much confidence in its accuracy as if I had been present and heard all” (vii., 102).

December 31. Zwingli to Myconius: “I have that epitome [relating to the Leipzig Disputation; see above] of Luther, have read it, approved of it, and hope that Eck in following that elusive little wind of glory will throw away his labour” (vii., 104)*.

*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 140–143).

I’d Like to Nail 95 Theses into Joel Watts’ Forehead…

Mind you, not a fatal nail- just a roofing nail or a railroad spike, for the effrontery perpetrated against the sainted memory of the greatest of the Reformers, Zwingli, by lumping him in with new age pseudo-Christians and pentebabbleists.  For shame, Joel, for shame.


Zwingli’s Early Years: The Beginning of the Reformed Reformation

zwingli_bioBy 1506 he [Zwingli] had earned a Master of Arts at Basel’s famous University and then shortly after celebrated his first Mass at his hometown before moving to Glarus to take up his priestly office. It was while he was in that picturesque village that Zwingli poured himself into his studies of the Bible, led by the urgings of Erasmus, who was then the leader of learning in Switzerland and across western Europe. According to his own testimony, it was in 1515 that the ‘reformatory’ spirit began to stir in his heart so that when he moved to Einsiedeln (in 1516) to serve the congregation there, he was already pursuing the beginnings of Reformed thought.*

*“Christ Our Captain”: An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli (pp. 12–13).

Saint Wolfgang- He’s One of My Favorites, and You’ve Probably Never Heard of Him

Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, Germany, he studied at Reichenau under the Benedictines and at Wurzburg before serving as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. He soon entered the Benedictines at Einsiedeln (964) and was appointed head of the monastery school, receiving ordination in 971. He then set out with a group of monks to preach among the Magyars of Hungary, but the following year (972) was named bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II (r. 973-983). As bishop, he distinguished himself brilliantly for his reforming zeal and his skills as a statesman. He brought the clergy of the diocese into his reforms, restored monasteries, promoted education, preached enthusiastically, and was renowned for his charity and aid to the poor, receiving the title Eleemosynarius Major (Grand Almoner). He also served as tutor to Emperor Henry II (r. 1014-1024) while he was still king. Wolfgang died at Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052 by Pope St. Leo IX (r. 1049-1054). Feast day: October 31.

He was, in the 10th century, a REFORMER!  And he turned the devil into a bookstand.  What the devil could be better?


It’s One of Luther’s Best Little Books: ‘How One Should Pray’

978-3-525-56009-9Ein schöner Band, nicht nur zum Reformationstag ist Luthers Schrift “Wie man beten soll“.  Martin Luthers Schrift »Wie man beten soll« ermöglicht einen Blick in die persönliche Spiritualität des Reformators wie nur wenige andere seiner Bücher. Die Schrift zeigt am Beispiel des Gebets, wie Luther seine Frömmigkeit ganz konkret gelebt hat. Daneben zeichnet sie sich durch Einfachheit und Anschaulichkeit aus. Luther verfasste das Büchlein für einen Handwerker: seinen Barbier Meister Peter.

Peter was a friend of Luther’s and once while in conversation about the Devil, Luther wrote this little poem in one of Peter’s books:

“No one will become that sharp
That he can know the devil well;
No, tarred he’ll be with his own brush,
And will not in peace be left
Unless Christ is there behind him.

He’s much too big and strong
And knows full well before
What Master Peter plans—
To challenge him with insults,
Written in his book,
To never let him go.
The devil thinks, I’m not afraid
Now of this new fairytale,
I am still prince of this world.

So brash and bold the devil is—
Full of knavery, trick, and guile
That Master Peter had better look sharp
Lest he try to trick the devil
And it backfires on himself …”

My Annual Reminder: Today is ‘Luther’s Reformation Day’, Not Reformation Day

‘Reformation Day’  Nope!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

Wow- That’s Really Offensive

We don’t need ‘allies’ with a mindset like this.

B1NsN3OIIAAwjYn is On Strike, Again

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht aren’t troubled though, they have a German company to deliver their volumes-

Bei Amazon wird wieder gestreikt.  Zeit also, auf unsere zuverlässige Verlagsauslieferung Brockhaus Commission hinzuweisen, die unsere Bücher (und natürlich auch viele andere) schnell und kompetent zum Kunden bringt. Und anders als bei Amazon hat man eine feste Ansprechpartnerin, die einem prima weiterhelfen kann. Vielen Dank dafür!

Amazon has just gotten too big for its britches.  What it is doing to authors and publishers is nothing more than extortion.  I’d rather pay a little more and support a company I can respect than get an Amazon discount and feel like a heel.

Aussie Love

But in these troubled times, who are we to say what love is????  [That’s the argument, right?]

Jenna Louise Driscoll, 25, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday charged with trafficking, possession of a dangerous drug, two counts of possession of an item used in the commission of a crime, three counts of supplying and a further three counts of bestiality.  Defence lawyer Rachel Cavalli asked for her client to be granted bail, which was not opposed.  Police prosecutor Sergeant Scott Pearson asked for reporting conditions that required Driscoll to report to police once a week and reside at a unit at Enoggera in Brisbane’s northwest.

Ick.  Ick.  You can call it love of animals but I just call it ick.  [And that name, Driscoll, it seems so familiar…]