If You Don’t Know Rudimentary Things, You Can’t Call Yourself a Christian

Luther writes, in the Preface to the Large Catechism-

Its [i.e., the Catechism’s] contents represent the minimum of knowledge required of a Christian. Whoever does not possess it should not be reckoned among Christians nor admitted to a sacrament, just as a craftsman who does not know the rules and practices of his craft is rejected and considered incompetent.

And there it is.

Sad News: James Luther Mays Has Died

mays1Union Presbyterian Seminary, the church, and the world of biblical scholarship and religious publishing have suffered the loss of a giant with the passing of James Luther Mays, Cyrus McCormick Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Old Testament. No one has been a nobler, more graceful “gentleman and a scholar” than Jim Mays. His legacy features tireless service spanning many decades as a gifted teacher who demanded excellence and integrity of his students—and always modeled it himself—as he equipped generation after generation of Union students for fruitful ministries.

Mays was also an internationally acclaimed biblical scholar and author, whose publications include a set of outstanding commentaries on the Psalms, Hosea, and Amos that still reward thoughtful study. Moreover, he was an editor extraordinaire: he provided steady, masterful editorial leadership for the journal Interpretation for three decades, as well as for the Interpretation Bible Commentary series and the HarperCollins Bible Commentary—all of these offering exemplary resources for preaching and teaching. The Society of Biblical Literature fittingly honored Jim Mays through his election as Society President. Even with all his engagements as scholar, editor, publisher, and teacher, Jim steadfastly remained a dedicated member and teacher in his home congregation, Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond.

The rest of the obituary is here. He was a gifted theologian. May he rest in peace.

The University of Geneva Calvin Course has Made the News

Des milliers d’étudiants étudient Calvin en ligne. C’est une formidable vitrine pour la Faculté”. Avec plus de 1’500 étudiants, le cours en ligne consacré à Jean Calvin, rediffusé ces jours par la Faculté de théologie de l’Université de Genève sur la plateforme Coursera, a de quoi réjouir Christophe Chalamet, professeur associé en théologie systématique. Certes il ne recrée pas le “buzz” de 2013 – il avait alors attiré plus de 10’000 personnes –, mais il permet néanmoins à des étudiants du monde entier de se plonger dans la pensée et l’œuvre du Réformateur de Genève.

There’s still time for you to join in. There’s still time for you to follow Christophe Chalamet on the twitter too.  And you definitely should.


Calvin: Kirche – Luther: Kommunikation – Zwingli: Konvivenz

Mit Aus der Au präsidiert zum ersten Mal eine Schweizer Persönlichkeit den Deutschen Evangelischen Kirchentag, der 2017 in Berlin und Wittenberg stattfindet. In diesem Jahr feiern die evangelischen Kirchen weltweit den 500. Jahrestag des Anschlags der 95 Thesen in Wittenberg durch Martin Luther, Grundstein einer weitreichenden Reformation von Kirche und Gesellschaft.  Der ganze Text des Vortrags von Christina aus der Au ist unter www.sek.ch zu finden.

Via.  It’s a pretty good essay, though quoting Barth in connection with Zwingli is like quoting Osteen in connection with the Bible.

Hillary Wants to have Dinner With Me!!!

Wow!!!  Got this personal email, addressed to me, just now.  I don’t think I can make it, but man, I sure wish I could.  I feel so special!

Jim —
In 90 days, people will caucus in Iowa.

There’s a lot to get done before then, but before things get crazier than they already are, I want to set aside some quality time for a few of my best supporters.

If you have some time, I’d love to sit down for dinner with you, Jim.

I wish I could have a dinner like this every week. Getting to know you, why you’re excited about this campaign, and maybe hearing about what your son or daughter wants to be when they grow up makes me want to fight harder for you in this election.

The campaign will take care of the logistics — all you have to do is say you’d like to be there and you’ll be entered for a chance to win.

I hope I get the chance to meet you over dinner!

Hillary Clinton

Our Problem is… Us

Or, as Luther puts it more fully-

Our nature has been so deeply curved in upon itself because of the viciousness of original sin that it not only turns the finest gifts of God in upon itself and enjoys them (as is evident in the case of legalists and hypocrites), indeed, it even uses God Himself to achieve these aims, but it also seems to be ignorant of this very fact, that in acting so iniquitously, so perversely, and in such a depraved way, it is even seeking God for its own sake. Thus the prophet Jeremiah says in Jer. 17:9: “The heart is perverse above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” that is, it is so curved in on itself that no man, no matter how holy (if a testing is kept from him) can understand it.

Users of God, depraved, iniquitous, perverse, selfish.  That is who we are without Christ.  That is what our problem is.  Every problem stems from this problem.  The cure isn’t more selfishness, it is Christ.

The World’s Most Ignorant Dilettante

Joel Watts posted this.  On facebook.  It has to be said that the author of this ‘letter to the editor’ is more ignorant of the Bible than most.  And should never, ever write anything about the Bible ever again.

And yet, this is precisely what happens when ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’ becomes the social norm.


Scripture and the Christian Life: An Observation

If Scripture isn’t the lighthouse which steers the Christian’s course, what does?  How, without Scripture, do Christians decide or even know what is and what is not in accordance with the will and purpose of God?

The world and its unbelievers are free to jettison Scripture if they so choose but may Christians display the same cavalier attitude to the repository of their theological heritage?

I don’t see how.  And I don’t see how anyone who does so can imagine him or herself to be a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

Melanchthon in the News

Oh boy is this cool!

“Wie ein Skorpion, ins Haus des Mars getreten ist, wird ein falscher Prophet auftreten und die christliche Welt in Gefahr bringen.”

1527 erscheint in Wittenberg ein Horoskop, das der kaiserliche Hofastrologe Johannes Lichtenberger bereits 1488 erstellt hatte. Darin wird dem Jahr 1484 rückwirkend eine besondere Bedeutung zugeschrieben, weil zu diesem Zeitpunkt durch eine große Konjunktion mit Sonnenfinsternis im Zeichen Löwe für die folgenden Jahrzehnte außergewöhnliche Ereignisse zu erwarten waren.

“Obwohl der falsche Prophet viel Unheil anrichten wird, wird aber auch eine Rettergestalt erscheinen, die die weltliche und kirchliche Ordnung wiederherstellen wird. Dieser Retter wird sich auch durch seine besondere Begabung bei der Auslegung der Heiligen Schrift auszeichnen.”

Take a look at the whole piece.  Luther never ‘got’ Philipp’s interest in astrology and it doesn’t really make sense to me but it was a part of who PM was.  Such a complex guy.  He deserves wider attention.


My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,  and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,”   have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;  but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.  For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (Jas. 2:1-13)