Daily Archives: 12 Aug 2016

Ignorant Clergy: There’s Nothing New Under the Sun

Zwingli learned Greek so he could understand the New Testament in its own terms and Hebrew so he could understand the Old.  Such intellectual achievements as study of the Bible’s original languages was so unusual in the early 16th century that S.M. Jackson can write

… a little knowledge of Greek made one in those days a paragon of learning, while if one joined to it a smattering of Hebrew such an accumulation was almost superhuman, and, indeed, it was sometimes hinted, betrayed Satanic influence!

These days it’s equally surprising to find any clerics who have any facility at all in the Biblical languages.  Proving, as though proof were needed, that there is nothing new under the sun.  Not even ignorant clergy.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Modern Culture, Zwingli


The Bee Stings the ‘Mission’ Vacation

The Kansas City chapter of the non-denominational Global Evangelism Missions Board announced the largest volume of interest for a single short-term missions trip ever Friday, as over 12,000 selfless individuals volunteered for its upcoming missions trip to Hawaii.

“We’ve never had a response like this before, and we’re simply overjoyed to see so many young missionaries with hearts to advance the Kingdom of God,” beaming Missions Director Cassandra Campbell told reporters as she sifted through the towering stacks of applications on her desk. “We received applications from all over the greater metro area and surrounding suburbs, from altruistic humanitarians of all ages, races, and church traditions.”

According to Campbell, only thirty spots were available on the trip, and volunteers will be selected at random to be considered for the evangelism and missions trip to the tropical island paradise.

It’s interesting to watch youth groups and church groups excitedly talk about their ‘mission’ trips when these are simply church funded vacations.  An hour a day devoted to actual missions followed by 16 hours of tourist stuff and instagram selfies is hardly what the early Church would consider an evangelistic effort.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Modern Culture


More Cray Cray Barthian Stuff


Q: What do you call a Barthian Universalist?

A: Someone who wants to see people dragged kicking and screaming into heaven, but who also has a ‘special friend’ on the side, because, you know, there’s no such thing as sin really.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Modern Culture


It’s Gloriously Illustrated and Written Brilliantly: The Brill Companion to the Swiss Reformation

I’ve spent the last bit scanning the numerous illustrations in the volume and boy are they brilliant.  But brilliant too is the prose.  Brilliant and accurate and insight-filled.  For instance

As several of the essays in this volume make clear, the relationship of the Genevan city-republic and church to the Swiss Confederation was substantial and significant, but Geneva cannot be regarded as central to the Swiss Reformation, let alone as paradigmatic for it. Even more importantly, the Reformation came relatively late to Geneva, and its establishment and course in that city were strongly influenced by both earlier and concurrent developments in the Swiss Confederation. In order to understand the Genevan Reformation, then, it is necessary to be familiar with the course of the broader Reformation in the neighboring Swiss lands.

Understanding is on exhibit herein!  I already am transfixed by this collection.  I can’t put it down.  Back to it!  Back to more of this!


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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Books, Church History, Modern Culture


The NPR Fresh Air Interview With Mary Beard

Fascinating stuff from last November, re-aired today because her book is out in paperback next week.

Historian Mary Beard has spent her career working through the texts and source materials of ancient Rome. She has written several books on the subject — including her most recent work, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome — but she doesn’t feel like she’s close to being done with the topic.

Don’t miss it.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Modern Culture


The Bee Stings the Pop Culture Christian Icon- And the Rags that Reinforce the Rubbish

The most decorated Olympian of all time, American swimmer Michael Phelps, has become a bona fide Christian icon since extending one finger skyward after he won Gold in the Men’s 200-Meter Butterfly event earlier this week, sources confirmed Friday.

Narrowly capturing the win in the Tuesday night race, he immediately put his index finger in the air, held it there, and even wiggled it back and forth for emphasis, as if to say, “Don’t miss this finger I am pointing toward Heaven. I do not deserve the glory for this win—Almighty God does!” The reaction from Christian social media was immediate and widespread.

“So happy to see Phelps praising GOD. What a witness FOR HIM!” commented one Twitter user, before later adding “Michael Phelps is clearly a CHRISTIAN ROLE MODEL! Hope kids are watching! #GOAT”

“Michael Phelps winning hearts and minds. Someone get him in the pulpit!” enthused another Twitter user, while one Facebook user posted a 700-word discourse calling for more unashamed believers in the same inspirational, evangelical vein as the legendary swimmer.

By Friday morning the rest of the web had caught up. The Christian Post ran an article called “Why Phelps Matters to Evangelicals,” which was countered by a HuffPo Religion article entitled “Why Evangelicals Are Wrong About Phelps (and Also Women Pastors).” Shortly thereafter, a Charisma Magazine columnist penned the thought-provoking piece “Michael Phelps Could Be a Harbinger of the Jubilee Dominion Claiming of Sports.” Even Time noted the phenomenon, running a short piece asking “Will Phelps Prove Dangerous To LGBT Olympians?”

A brief survey of social media indicated a multitude of Christians had changed their profile pictures to the iconic image of Phelps pointing up. Additionally, Phelps was said to be offered a cameo in the upcoming movie God’s Not Dead 3: God Harder. As perhaps a fitting coronation for the greatest swimmer of all time, Desiring God published an article Friday titled “The Soul-Satisfying Journey of Michael Phelps: Glorifying God In Hedonistic Swimming Satisfaction.”

At publishing time, sources reported that Phelps had held up four fingers after a successive win on Thursday night, which was being seen as confirmation of his sainthood, as it was a clear attempt to one-up his previous shout-out to God by pointing not just his index finger, but his entire hand heavenward, in a remarkable gesture of thanks and reverence to his Creator.

‘Evangelicals’ actually do try to make even the most non-Christians among us Christian symbols.  Just look what they’ve done with Donald Trump…

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Modern Culture


Westminster Seminary Videos on the Reformers

Who are the Reformers?  That’s a much debated question in the last centuries. Dr. W. Robert Godfrey and Dr. R. Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California teach about the reformers Theodore Beza, Philipp Melanchthon, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin. You can watch the videos online.  Four videos are presently available:

Theodore Beza: Dr. W. Robert Godfrey teaches about impressive French theologian and scholar, Theodore Beza;
Philipp Melanchthon: Dr. R. Scott Clark teaches more about Philipp Melanchthon, one of the most unjustly neglected figures of the Reformation;
Huldrych Zwingli: Dr. W. Robert Godfrey teaches about Huldrych Zwingli;
John Calvin: Dr. R. Scott Clark gives a brief history of French Reformer, John Calvin.

Let’s see if they know what they’re talking about.


Not so much on Zwingli.  Zwingli wasn’t ‘from’ Zurich and he wasn’t heavily influenced by Luther.  But our presenter gets Zwingli’s intentions correct and he gets Zwingli’s serving as a Chaplain at Kappel right.  I’d give it a B- were it a paper on Zwingli.

The video on Melanchthon is better.  He’s got the Loci right and he understands Melanchthon’s aims well enough.  He’d get an A.  And an A on Calvin (although it’s not surprising that a Presby seminary Prof would like Calvin well enough to learn him thoroughly).

And finally, the Beza video…  wherein the presenter says that Lausanne is ‘outside’ Geneva… well, yes…  miles and miles and miles outside.  In the same way that New York City is outside Philadelphia.  This one gets Beza generally right but doesn’t really say much in detail.  And its presenter needs a re-look at the geography of western Switzerland.  C is what this one gets.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Church History, Modern Culture, Zwingli


A True Seeking After God

If you really enquire about God, not with mere curiosity, not, as it were, like a spiritual stamp- collector, but as an anxious seeker, distressed in heart, anguished by the possibility that God might not exist and hence all life be vanity and one great madness — if you ask in such a mood as the man who asks the doctor, “Tell me, will my wife live or will she die?” — if you ask thus about God, then you know already that God exists; the anguished question bears witness that you know. Without knowing God you could not so ask about Him. You want God because without Him life is nonsense. Your own heart distinguishes between sense and nonsense; it knows that sense is right. Your heart knows something of God already; and it is that very knowledge which gives your question existence and power. You wish that there might be a God, for otherwise everything is ultimately the same — evil is not evil, good is not good. You know already that there is a God, for you know that good cannot possibly be the same as evil. — Emil Brunner

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Modern Culture


A Companion to the Swiss Reformation

30135Brill have sent along a review copy (electronic format) of this new publication which also, coincidentally, arrived in another copy today from the grand Emidio Campi as a gift.  I’ve mentioned it over the months as I was enraptured by its subject as soon as I first heard word of it.  I’m excited to read it.  And review it.  Which when finished I’ll post here.  In the meantime you can visit the book’s website for the TOC and there read this informative snippet:

A Companion to the Swiss Reformation describes the course of the Protestant Reformation in the Swiss Confederation over the course of the sixteenth century. Its essays examine the successes as well as the failures of the reformation movement, considering not only the institutional churches but also the spread of Anabaptism. The volume highlights the different form that the Reformation took among the members of the Confederation and its allied territories, and it describes the political, social and cultural consequences of the Reformation for the Confederation as a whole.

Contributors are: Irena Backus, Jan-Andrea Bernhard, Amy Nelson Burnett, Michael W. Bruening, Erich Bryner, Emidio Campi, Bruce Gordon, Kaspar von Greyerz, Sundar Henny, Karin Maag, Thomas Maissen, Regula Schmid-Keeling, Martin Sallmann, and Andrea Strübind.

More anon.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2016 in Book Review, Books, Church History