Daily Archives: 1 Sep 2016

The Most Depressing Thing I’ve Ever Seen

Forget war and poverty and the Presidential election… those things pale in comparison to  the sheer despair caused by this instagram posting.  Behold, and weep.

Meanwhile in False Teacher Land


The Bee Stings Andy *I Don’t Think the Bible’s Really Important* Stanley

While preparing for the next installment of his “Who Needs God” series, in which he has been attempting to make the case that the Bible is not a necessary pillar of the Christian faith, Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of several hundred megachurches in the Atlanta area, was reportedly shocked upon being informed by an intern that the New Testament is actually part of the Bible.

“I don’t believe this,” Stanley exclaimed after verifying the statement on GotQuestions.org. “All this time I’ve been yelling about how people don’t need the Bible, they just need the Gospels and some other portions of the New Testament as the basis for their Christian faith. Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

The young intern went on to explain that this simple fact creates serious problems for the line of reasoning Stanley has employed recently. “You see, Mr. Stanley, sir, when you say that people don’t need to believe the Bible, they just need to believe the stuff about Jesus in the New Testament—

“Oh wow,” a dismayed Stanley interrupted, as it reportedly “all seemed to click in his mind at once.”

“Man, I am such a stinkin’ goof,” he said. “I can’t imagine people around the internet must be saying about me right now.”


Meanwhile at BNTC2016


They’re Becoming More and More Foolish At Universities….

Rutgers students are told they should only speak when ‘necessary’ because otherwise they might offend classmates with ‘microaggressions’

Uh huh….

Students at Rutgers University have been advised to use language that is ‘kind’ and ‘necessary’ and avoid offensive terms such as ‘retarded’ and ‘that’s so ghetto’ so that they don’t commit ‘microaggressions’.  A bulletin board, titled ‘Language Matters: Think’, has been put on display in at least one hall of residence on the campus, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, telling them to question whether their choice of words is ‘true’ and ‘helpful’.    Failure to follow the guidelines could give rise to microaggressions – ‘little things that have a big impact’ – which fall into three categories: microassaults, microinsults and microinvalidations.

Uhmmmm…….  No, you don’t want the precious snowflakes to have to confront life.

What People Apparently Think God Actually Does During the Day…

Meanwhile, At BNTC2016


The Bee Stings The Tieless ‘Worship Leader’

245-Long-Sleeve-V-Neck-Small-HoleLooking to save a few bucks on their Sunday morning formal wear, tens of thousands of trendy worship leaders and worship band members lined up outside American Apparel retail locations across the country Thursday morning for the company’s annual end-of-summer v-neck sale.

“What I’m really looking for is something flowy,” Atticus Ryder of Austin Evangelical Free Fellowship told reporters as he sat waiting for his local store to open while picking out a Nirvana riff on his guitar. “I think a long, flowing neckline really calls to mind the priestly garments of old, and helps remind the people of our identity as a holy priesthood.”

Other worship leaders were looking for something more daring, as a worship leader known simply as “Blaze” reported he was interested in finding a v-neck that ended just north of his belly button. “My style is representative of my authenticity—I’ve got nothing to hide. I’m wide open,” Blaze said before continuing to work on a Phil Wickham piece on his harmonica.

At publishing time, American Apparel retail stores were bracing for even more foot activity, as the company’s website had crashed due to the overwhelming traffic load reportedly originating from ministry-heavy areas around the country.

They are a ghastly lot.  May their tribe perish.


An old miser, because of his exceptional thrift, had no friends. Just before he died, he called his doctor, lawyer and minister together around his bedside.

“I have always heard that you can’t take it with you, but I am going to prove you can,” he said. “I have $90,000 cash under my mattress. It’s in three envelopes of $30,000 in each. When I pass on I want each of you to take an envelope and just before they throw the dirt on me, you throw your envelope in.”

The three attended the funeral and each threw his envelope in the grave. On the way back from the cemetery the minister said, “I just don’t feel exactly right. My conscience hurts me. I’m going to confess. I needed $10,000 badly for a new church we are building, so I took out $10,000 and threw the $20,000 in the grave.”

The doctor said, “I too, must confess, I am building a hospital and I took $20,000, and threw in only $10,000.

The lawyer said “Gentlemen, I’m surprised, shocked and ashamed of you. I don’t see how you could hold out like that. I threw in my personal check for the full amount.”

Luther for the Dutchlanders

9789043526340-luther-verzameld-dl-1-en-dl-2-l-lq-fIk vond het wel een beetje raar dat er van Luthers werk zo weinig in het Nederlands beschikbaar was. Hoe moest dat nu in het Reformatiejaar 2017, als iedereen wil weten wat die man gezegd heeft, maar je Latijn of Duits moet beheersen om daar achter te komen? Voor dit soort problemen heeft Refo500 natuurlijk meteen een oplossing en die wordt 5 september op de TUA gepresenteerd.

Meer dan 1300 pagina’s Luther, een brede selectie uit zijn werken, een veelheid van thema´s, en dat allemaal in twee prachtige en betaalbare delen. Interessant is niet alleen de inhoud, maar ook de samenstelling van de vertalers. Een team van studenten en docenten die allemaal snel bereid gevonden werden dit topstuk in elkaar te zetten. Luther bracht mensen van de Theologische Universiteit Kampen, Nederlands Gereformeerde Predikantenopleiding, Gereformeerde Bond en TUA bij elkaar met een snelheid en kwaliteit waar geen GTU-proces tegenop kan. En daarbij dan ook nog mensen uit de Lutherse Kerk en van de VU! Wie nog durft te zeggen dat Luther kerkscheidend werkt, zal na het zien en lezen van Luther Verzameld voorgoed zwijgen.

Herman Selderhuis is the editor. He’s brilliant. If you read the language of the Dutch, you should get a copy. And if you don’t, you should get your library to get a copy.

Addressing the Citation Frenzy in Higher Ed

Sarah Bond pointed this essay out.  You should read it.

While obsessively monitoring the response to our articles, I not infrequently see comments of this type: “Surprising that she didn’t cite _____.” Or “No reference to _____?” Or even “Should have cited _____.”

Everybody is, of course, entitled to come to their own conclusion about the question I posed in the title of this editorial. Here’s mine: 9 times out of 10, I think this particular critique is misguided and elitist. It is a kind of objection that is poorly suited to most internet-native writing and seems designed to make writers paranoid and overly cautious.

Criticizing writers for not citing specific articles or scholars forces them to participate in a form of ritualized homage designed to create an extremely high bar before they are permitted to write within the discipline. That’s fine in certain contexts — for example, the dissertation, the entire purpose of which is to show that you can participate responsibly in a scholarly conversation. I would never dispute that in a dissertation, PhD students absolutely should — and usually do — err on the side of over-citation. (I don’t like to brag, but in the reader reports for my dissertation one of my advisers effusively praised my bibliography as “up to date and not monolingual.”).

Yes, read the whole.  For my part I think we’re stifling thought when we act as though every thought must be derivative.   Think for yourself; prove your case with proper argument; and then, and only then, cite supporting evidence.  Otherwise your research is just parroting.

Open Lecture by Author and Newsweek Journalist Nina Burleigh (Myren Gård, 14 Sept)

Well – go if you can!

The Lying Pen of Scribes

“Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land”
Myren Gård, Wednesday 14 September, 18.00

Author and journalist Nina Burleigh will discuss her investigation into the James Ossuary, the so-called first archaeological evidence of Jesus, determined by Israeli authorities to be a forgery. The prosecutor in Jerusalem called the forgery “the fraud of the century” because of its relevance to Christian believers, but the accused was ultimately acquitted. Burleigh’s critically acclaimed book, which has been called “shrewd and piquant” delves into the back alleys of the Jerusalem relic trade and the dusty digging pits around Israel, and finds secular scientists pitted against true believers who see in science what their faith prescribes, and also Israeli religio-nationalists whose practice of archaeology is deeply influenced by Biblically-inspired modern land claims in the so-called Holy Land.

Lisa Håland, Thor Magne Vesterhus (flute)
Terje Howard Mathisen (piano)

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#BNTC2016 Commences Today


The August Carnival: A Month of Emil Brunner

You may not realize this but on 15 August, 1947, Emil Brunner was honored with a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary. And in 1950, also on August 15, his exceedingly impressive Dogmatics, volume 2 was published.

Brunner earned his doctorate in theology (ThD) from the prestigious University of Zurich and after he made extraordinary contributions to the study of theology he received a number of honorary doctorates from other universities around the world.  By the way, Karl Barth never earned a doctorate. He was given an honorary degree by the University of Munster so that he could teach in their theology department. Brunner, in this respect also, being superior to Barth.

In order to celebrate Brunner as he deserves to be celebrated (and to make up for his being eclipsed by Barth because Barth had better P.R. than Brunner) this month’s Carnival is dedicated to him. Below you’ll find snippets of his thought and a gallery of images from his illustrious life.

On the Bible

Is everything true that is to be found in the Bible? Let me draw a somewhat modern analogy by way of answering this question. Every one has seen the trade slogan “His Master’s Voice.” If you buy a phonograph record you are told that you will hear the Master Caruso. Is that true? Of course! But really his voice? Certainly! And yet — there are some noises made by the machine which are not the Master’s voice, but the scratching of the steel needle upon the hard disk. But do not become impatient with the hard disk! For only by means of the record can you hear “the master’s voice.” So, too, is it with the Bible. It makes the real Master’s voice audible, — really his voice, his words, what he wants to say. But there are incidental noises accompanying, just because God speaks His Word through the voice of man. Paul, Peter, Isaiah, and Moses are such men. But through them God speaks His Word. — Emil Brunner

On Faith

To have insight into God’s plan for the world — that is faith. — Emil Brunner

On ‘Faith Alone’

“By faith alone” then, means not I, but God alone creates my redemption, my salvation, the saving and redeeming of the world; He alone is good, He alone brings to the desired goal — “with might of ours can naught be done;” — that means to rely on God alone, to make God our whole defense. Does not that make man lazy? Ask a Luther, a Zwingli, a Calvin whether this “God alone” faith made them lazy! Examine the lives of others who have really received this “God alone” faith in all of its depth and magnificence, and inquire whether it has made them morally indifferent or ethically lazy. It is the great mystery of God that men do not become strong until they know their weakness, and expect all things from the power of God. — Emil Brunner

On Accountability

God requires an accounting. He holds us responsible. And that is what strikes terror in us, for how can we bribe the judge in this case? Or thinkest thou that God will wink at evil? That is the (I must add it) cursed frivolity of our generation, that it thinks God does not take things seriously. He will not cast off any one because of disobedience. Forgiveness has been misunderstood to mean indulgence. But the opposite stands in the Holy Scriptures. God will cast off the disobedient, for what men sow they must also reap. — Emil Brunner

On Eternity

Our life is “superficial” without depth or meaning so long as it does not have its roots in eternity. Either it has eternal significance or it has no significance at all. Temporal sense is nonsense. — Emil Brunner

On The Evil in the World

When a father merely observes, for a while, the petulant, headstrong actions of his little son so that the lad may experience for himself where his own will leads — does that mean that the father is a weak parent, who cannot control his son? He will, no doubt, take things in hand at the proper moment, but he prefers not to lecture his son, but rather to educate him through experience to make his own decisions. There is no doubt that God could, if He so desired, create order in this topsy-turvy world all at once; He could, no doubt, make us obedient with a wave of His hand. But He doesn’t want to force us; it is His desire that we should turn to Him of our own free will. Hence He gives us, situated as we are in this deranged world, His Word, namely, the Law and the Promises, that we perceiving the insane folly of evil and the fixed nature of His love, may return to Him in freedom and gladness. — Emil Brunner

On Betrayal

My friends, pause a moment to reflect upon this fact: it was actually possible for one of the disciples to become the enemy of Jesus and to betray Him to a hostile gang. That fact struck the disciples too as a gruesome and unfathomable mystery.  — Emil Brunner

On Doubt

Many have the idea that doubt belongs to life and cannot be helped, that it belongs even to the Christian life. But the truth is that so long as we are in bondage to this doubt we are not yet Christians. For to doubt eternal life is to dismiss the promises of God, to be dis- obedient to the Word of God, to put our trust in our own understanding and senses. God’s Word is not sufficient guarantee, we want something more certain. But this desire for something more certain than God’s Word is doubt, crass, naked doubt; crass, naked paganism; crass, naked Godlessness. — Emil Brunner

On 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

On God’s Wrath

God’s righteousness stands like the mountains. He who withstands God must shatter himself upon God. This is the meaning of God’s wrath. Because God’s will is absolute obedience He therefore hates disobedience absolutely. He who persists in disobedience falls under the fearful wrath of God. That is the holy God. — Emil Brunner

On Prayer

Faith lives on prayer, indeed, faith is nothing but prayer. The moment we really believe, we are already praying, and when we cease praying we also cease believing. –  Emil Brunner

On Forgiveness

There is no forgiveness of sins without a truly repentant heart to which sin is sincerely painful and which renounces it with all its power.  – Emil Brunner

On Dogma’s Importance

In the realm of doctrine the Christian Church has always recognized a twofold task: one concerning the Church itself; the other concerning the outside world, the world of doubt and unbelief. Although, at a time like the present, the conflict with unbelief and false ideologies may seem the more urgent one, yet the first task is always fundamental. For how can the Church do justice to her missionary calling in an un-Christian world if she is not herself clear about the content of her message? All down her history the Christian Church has given much thought to the basis, meaning and content of the message she has received—and is bound to proclaim; this process of reflection is what we mean by “dogmatics”. — Emil Brunner

On Luther and Scripture

Luther was the first to represent a Biblical faith which could be combined with Biblical criticism, and was therefore fundamentally different from the traditional, formally authoritarian view of the Bible, which culminates in the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration. — Emil Brunner

On the Heresy of Universalism

The Word of Christ is for us the word of decision, which, so far as we believe, gives us salvation, and, precisely because it summons us to this decision, forbids us to believe in a deliverance which awaits us, or anyone else outside the sphere of faith. Just as we ought to know that God alone in Jesus Christ is the God of Grace, and outside of Jesus Christ the God of Wrath, so ought we to know that He is only gracious to him who believes, but that He is not so to him who is outside the sphere of faith. But this cannot be for us an object of theoretical doctrine or even of imaginary ideas. This is said in order that we may believe, and it is for each of us to tell others as we have heard it, in order that they, too, may come to believe.

This is our business, but nothing else. We must absolutely resist the inclination to draw “logical conclusions”, since they only lead to one of two errors : either to the doctrine of the double decree or to the doctrine of universal salvation, each of which removes the reality of the decision of faith. Only the renunciation of the logically satisfying theory creates room for true decision; but the Gospel is the Word which confronts us with the summons to decision.  — Emil Brunner

On Barth’s Universalism- which Is Worse Than Origen’s

Karl Barth has been charged with teaching Universalism. When he denies this he is not altogether wrong. He knows too much about the not particularly illustrious theologians who have taught this doctrine of Apokatastasis in Christian history to be willing to allow himself to be numbered among them. “The Church ought not to preach Apokatastasis” (p. 529). Thus Barth’s doctrine is not that of Origen and his followers.  Rather, Barth goes much further. For none of them ever dared to maintain that through Jesus Christ, all, believers and unbelievers, are saved from the wrath of God and participate in redemption through Jesus Christ. But that is what Karl Barth teaches.  — Emil Brunner

On the Incorrectness of Barth’s Doctrine of Predestination 

No special proof is required to show that the Bible contains no such doctrine [as Barth presents it], nor that no theory of this kind has ever been formulated by any theologian. If the eternal pre-existence of the God-Man were a fact, then the Incarnation would no longer be an Event at all ; no longer would it be the great miracle of Christmas. In the New Testament the new element is the fact that the eternal Son of God became Man, and that henceforth through His Resurrection and Ascension, in Him humanity has received a share in the heavenly glory; yet in this view of Barth’s, all this is now anticipated, as it were, torn out of the sphere of history, and set within the pre-temporal sphere, in the pre-existence of the Logos. — Emil Brunner


A Brunner Gallery

Next month’s Carnival will be about something equally enthralling. Stay tuned.  In the meanwhile just remember this one truth:  Emil Brunner is Barth’s superior in every way: morally, ethically, maritally, theologically, and Christian-ly.  Spend some time with him and you’ll realize how very true that is.