Daily Archives: 9 Apr 2015

Reformation History Joy

cover_Luther italic smallDon’t miss the upcoming issues of Christian History Magazine.

I Think We Should Be Fair in Our Evaluations of 16th Century Theologians

Frank Viola has a post titled Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin.

I object for the following reason:  I think it remarkably inappropriate to judge someone from the 16th century by 21st century standards.  The result is anachronism.  Better to judge Calvin (or anyone) by their own era rather than how we think they ought to have behaved.

For instance, Viola’s dislike of Calvin’s willingness to see Servetus executed may resonate with moderns, but in the 16th century that was simply the way things were seen.  Heretics were a cancer that needed to be cut out of the body of Christ.  To point at that behavior and call it ‘perverse’ or whatever is unjust.

Accordingly, who finds these things Calvin believed shocking?  Calvin?  16th Century persons?  Nope.  Viola?  Yup.  So, who made 21st century believers the arbiters of what is good or bad belief for everyone throughout the history of the Church?  Hubris.

Would You Rather Wear Out or Rust Out?

The saints are like to iron, which by use is somewhat worn and diminished, but by lying still, unoccupied, is eaten more with rust and canker.  — Heinrich Bullinger

The Annotated Luther



Fortress Press is excited to announce The Annotated Luther series, featuring seventy-five of Luther’s most essential writings in six volumes. Some new translations will be included along with updated translations based on Luther’s Works, American Edition. Each Luther selection will be accompanied by the following:

  • A new updated introduction
  • Annotations designed to provide key contextual background for people, events, and theological issues and controversies; interpretive notes; and Scripture references to which Luther alludes but which he does not include in the text
  • Translation notes and references to sources cited

In each volume the written annotations will be supplemented and enhanced by the use of maps, illustrations, timelines, art, and photos. The pages are designed for maximal visual interest and to help the reader navigate the content easily. The volumes in the series will feature the collaborative work of over forty scholars of Luther, the Reformation, and other related disciplines, all under the direction of a team of leading scholars. These volumes will be an essential reference tool for students at all levels, as well as an engaging and accessible resource for pastors and interested lay readers who want to explore and teach Luther and his writings with greater depth and clarity.


Before the Day is Done…

ZwingliBullingerDevotionalBook2Before the day ends, the final touches to the devotional will be completed and it will be sent off to the publisher. ‪#‎glory‬.  ‪#‎BackToFinishTheCommentary‬.   ‪#‎WhatCommentary‬? This one-https://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/my-commentary/

How Did the Writers of the New Testament Use the Old?

In a nutshell- allow me to explain it here as I do for students-

If you’re familiar with the old hymn ‘amazing grace’ if you hear the first few words the whole song is brought to mind. Similarly, phrases and allusions to the OT would serve in the early church (very literate concerning their scriptures, i.e., Torah, prophets, writings) to call to mind not simply a verse- but a context. Likewise, when Jesus cries out from the cross ‘my God, my God…’ etc, the Gospels call to the reader’s minds the whole context of Ps 22- which isn’t about defeat, but vindication and victory.

That’s how the Old Testament often functions in the New. It brings an entire context to mind and serves as theological commentary on whatever is being discussed or described by the New Testament authors. After all, they weren’t fools who thought they could quote things out of context. They knew what they were doing. They were better theologians than 99% of all theologians and better than 100% of modern theologians (post Brunner).

Have Questions About Joel Osteen?

Watch this.  And, by the way, pay particular attention to what John MacArthur says.

Total Depravity: The Mom Who Murdered Her Son, So She Could Blog His Illness…

Lord… descend today and end this madness.

Lacey Spears killed her five-year-old son with a salt overdose while suffering from Munchausen by proxy syndrome, according to judge.

A suburban New York mother who blogged about motherhood was sentenced by a judge to 20 years to life in prison on Wednesday for murdering her young son with a salt overdose so she could bask in social media attention about his mysterious illness. The sentence imposed on Lacey Spears, 27, who chronicled her 5-year-old son’s illnesses on a personal blog called Garnett’s Journey and other social media, was less than the maximum penalty of 25 years to life requested by the prosecution.

Is she ill? No, evil. She knew exactly what she was doing. That’s not illness, that’s evil. Pure unmixed depravity.

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A Simple Secret to Selling Books

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Jesus The Cold Case

I took a look at another of the ‘Jesus’ film genre and in a nutshell, this particular production is both better than most and as bad as many.  Allow me to explain:

First, there are egregious blunders.  At one point the presenter states that Luke’s gospel contains the story of the wise men and the star pointing the way to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem.  That ridiculous mis-statement, innocent a mistake as it may have been, made me cringe.  It bothers me tremendously when the little yet important facts are wrongly stated.  Indeed, when people say things like that it’s nearly unbearable.

Second, there must be a dearth of biblical scholars in Australia because the only one he found down there tends to be extremely skeptical of anything the Gospels say.  Ok, skepticism is fine.  But at least have someone else offer a perspective – otherwise the program just comes off as an exercise in ax grinding.


Third, the presenter claims that the Gospels are not eyewitness testimony (he’s a cold case investigator, not a biblical scholar) – but he should have had a chat, at least, with Richard Bauckham on the matter.  Right or wrong, Bauckham has to be consulted.

Fourth, when the presenter repeatedly refers to ‘the Jesus myth’ one needs to understand that this is a fair representation of his personal viewpoint.  He seems to fit nicely into the ‘Mythicist’ camp or as near to it as one can without being one.  Unsurprisingly, his conclusions support his presuppositions.  Indeed, the fact that Spong makes an appearance as a ‘biblical expert’ calls the entire enterprise into question.



There are just so many problems, throughout.  Note, as another example, the spelling on the map of Qumran.  I’ve read a lot of material on the subject.  Thousands and thousands, probably tens of thousands of pages over the span of years, and I’ve never seen anyone spell it like this.


Nonetheless there are a few highlights:

Joe Zias makes an appearance and makes some very important remarks regarding crucifixion.  It is also claimed by the presenter that Jesus may have been crucified not on a cross, but on one of the many olive trees in the area.


Ok, that’s pretty much it.

Whereas many specials tend to be absurd and support absurd claims (like the shroud of Turin and Jesus was married and all that rot) this one heads in the opposite direction and because of its mythicist leanings results in the same level of absurdity.  The highlight is Joe Zias and this chap, who discussed the average 1st century Jewish male and stated that the image of Jesus on our left is the least likely of all the representations while the one on the right is the most likely.


There are a good number of well known academics who appear but they don’t do a very good job of presenting the facts fairly.  That is true even of Dom Crossan, who is edited in such a way as to seem to support the producer’s ‘the gospels don’t contain any truth’ line of thought.


It really is a shame that the producer went the direction he did.  This could have been a fantastic documentary given the resources the film maker obviously had access to.  Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it turns out that it’s pretty much like all the rest.  Skip it unless you want to see Zias shine.

Sex and the Church

Oh how very much I wish to see this!

In the first part of a major three-part series, the eminent theological historian Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch explores how Christianity has shaped western attitudes to sex, gender and sexuality throughout history. Travelling from Israel to Greece, Italy and Ireland, he begins by showing how the early Christians transformed sex from a biological necessity into a vice, from a pleasure into a sin. Even though Jesus Christ said very little about sex, Christianity soon promoted celibacy as the Christian ideal, turned sex into something dangerous and made even marriage second-best.

More for the Bonhoefferians… A Film… About…

A more propagandistic film has never been produced.

The 2015 Bampton Lectures, Oxford

Bampton Lectures 2015
Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
‘Daring Spirit: John’s Gospel Now’

(a series of 8 lectures: 4, Hilary Term 2015; 4, Trinity Term 2015)

  • 27 April: Love Life
  • 29 April: The Jews and Other Others
  • 5 May: Uplift – Footwashing, Crucifixion and Resurrection
  • 6 May: Doing Greater Things – The Drama of Jesus Now

University Church of St Mary the Virgin at 5.00 pm. The lectures are open to the public.

The Anniversary of Bonhoeffer’s Death

Die Zeit has an essay the Bonhoefferians will appreciate.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer unterstützte die Attentatspläne gegen Hitler. Dafür wurde der Theologe hingerichtet. Eine Würdigung des großen evangelischen Pazifisten zu seinem 70. Todestag.

One has to chuckle at Bonhoeffer being described as a ‘pacifist’… Further-

Die Theologie war Dietrich Bonhoeffer nicht in die Wiege gelegt. Er wurde als sechstes von acht Kindern am 4. Februar 1906 in Breslau geboren und wuchs in einer großbürgerlichen Familie auf. Kirche und Religion tauchten im Alltag der Bonhoeffers zwar auf. Aber – wie Bonhoeffers Freund Eberhard Bethge schreibt –: Das christliche Wesen war in diesem evangelischen Haus “mehr hinter- und untergründig zu spüren”. Das Verhältnis der Familie zum Glauben war freundlich bis distanziert. “Zu schade für Dich”, befand der Vater, als sein Sohn vom Entschluss zum Theologiestudium berichtete. Karl Bonhoeffer, renommierter Professor für Psychiatrie und Neurologie, hatte dabei ein “stilles, unbewegtes Pastorendasein” vor Augen. Später korrigierte er sich seinem Sohn gegenüber mit den Worten, er habe sich “gröblich getäuscht”. Das war bitter wahr.


I continue to maintain that Bonhoeffer would be utterly unknown today had he not entered into his murder plot. He’s famous for that, not for his theological insights. Which are, at best, cliche. #SorryNotSorry.

NB- The comments are interesting but this one hits the nail on the head:  Herr Bedford-Strohm, eine Kirche, die sich nicht um Verkündung des Evangeliums, sondern um Tagespolitik kümmert, hat ihren Auftrag verfehlt. Christus zielte nicht auf eine Änderung der Gesetze, sondern der Herzen. Darauf kommt es an. Daraus folgt alles Übrige.