Daily Archives: 18 Jan 2017

Those Annoying ‘Scripsplainers’: An Observation

Along with women who complain about ‘mansplaining’ and other ‘splainers’ I want to go on record decrying ‘scripsplainers’ – those wretched and annoying people with the temerity to tell me what Scripture ‘means’ in spite of the fact that they can’t read it in anything but English.

Signs of the Times



This is a lot of fun.

Heiliger, Ketzer, Prophet, Antichrist, Kirchenvater, Kirchenspalter, Aufklärer, Antisemit, Genie, Scharlatan, Nationalheld, Fürstenknecht – jede Zeit hat ihre Vorstellungen von Luther. Die virtuelle Ausstellung Luthermania – Ansichten einer Kultfigur bietet vielfältige Möglichkeiten, sich dem Thema zuzuwenden. Entlang von vier Sektionen wird die Entstehung und Verbreitung dieser Vorstellungen und Ansichten von und über Luther nachgezeichnet. Gezeigt wird nicht, wer Luther wirklich war, sondern was aus ihm gemacht wurde und wie er zu einer Kultfigur werden konnte.

There’s lots to see here.  Enjoy.

Being Christian in America Today

Elections and inaugurations are always a time of simultaneous rejoicing and lamentation.  Those whose candidate won rejoice and those whose candidate lost lament.  The recent Presidential election is certainly no different in that respect than any other.  Yet the current election seems to have polarized people of good will and Christian faith in a way that is unusual and in some respects unprecedented.  In some cases acrimony and hostility have erupted.  To say this is unfortunate is an understatement because no matter who wins or loses elections Jesus is still Lord and God is still on his throne.

Additionally, Christians are uniquely obliged by Scripture to live as good members of society.  As Paul tells the Romans

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.   Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.   (Rom. 13:1-7).”

Government, Paul insists, is instituted by God for the punishment of wrongdoing and the protection of well-doers.  When government fulfills its responsibility then Christians are to cooperate with it in its aims and goals always, however, remembering that when the Government, or anyone, commands disobedience to God, it should be resisted.  Indeed, it is always ‘better to obey God than men’.

With that in mind every Christian, whether their candidate won or lost, should pray for the civil authorities, that they carry out their God mandated commission and that persons in authority live for and under the Lordship of Christ.  We all, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and everything else, still live under the banner of the Cross and it still unites us even if our politics divide us.  What we share in common, Christ, is worth more than everything else so that, however we view things politically, we should still love one another.  After all, the world will know we belong to Christ because we have love for one another.  Not because we share every single political viewpoint.

Dear DHL, Could You Be Less Helpful?

Back in November I ordered a copy of the 2017 LutherBibel from the DBG.  They sent it, via DHL, on 23 December.  It hasn’t arrived yet so I made a request for location with DHL.  Here’s their response:

Dear Customer,

Below is the current status of the shipment books with the shipment number xxxxxxxxxxxxx: The shipment will be transported to the destination country and, from there, handed over to the delivery organization. (Homepage / online shipment tracking: )

For more information on the shipment, simply make a status request via the following link: Request current shipment status

Yours sincerely,

Your DHL team

The fact that this tells me nothing is apparent.  First, surely by now it should have arrived in this country, so why can’t they say that.  Second, what the devil is the ‘delivery organization’?  Pigeons?  USPS?  DHL North America?  Who knows.  And requesting current shipment status results in exactly the same vague response.

Did DHL lose the box?  Or is their tracking really that poor?  At any rate, perhaps DHL should update its tracking software.  It seems in desperate need of it.

Once Again- The Best Free Bible Software: STEP

Students might find this suite of bible study tools very helpful.  It’s from Tyndale house in Cambridge and is called ‘STEP’ – scripture tools for every person.  You can download the contents from http://dev.stepbible.org/downloads.jsp .

Christoph Heilig’s New Book “Paul’s Triumph”

16105708_10211682316792334_87259772017656849_nPaul’s metaphorical language in Second Corinthians 2:14 has troubled exegetes for a long time. Does the verb ‘thriambeuein’ indicate that Paul imagines himself as being led to execution in the Roman triumphal procession? Or is, by contrast, the victory in view that the apostles receive themselves? Maybe the Roman ritual does not constitute the background of this metaphor at all? Clarity with regard to these questions is a pressing issue in Pauline studies, given the fact that this metaphor introduces a central passage in the Pauline corpus that is of crucial importance for reconstructing the apostle’s self-understanding. Heilig demonstrates that, if all the relevant data are taken into account, a coherent interpretation of Paul’s statement is possible indeed. Moreover, Heilig brings the resulting meaning of Paul’s statement into dialogue with the political discourse of the time, thus presenting a detailed argument for the complex critical interaction of Paul with the ideology of the Roman Empire.

Go to the link for the table of contents and other stuff.  I haven’t read it so I can’t recommend (or discommend for that matter) it, so you’re on your own (though it does look fun).

Our Unspoken, and Unutterable, Inauguration Fear… Spoken and Uttered

It’s a terrible thought isn’t it – to think the unthinkable and wonder just what sort of buttons Donald J. Trump has pushed that may well have driven some unhinged soul over the edge from anger to actual violence. It isn’t hard to imagine, is it….

There’s a very thin line between anger and hatred and an even thinner line between hatred and violence.  We should all, therefore, pray that violence isn’t fueled by hatred which is itself fueled by anger.

Melanchthon und die Reformierte Tradition

New from  V&R

9783525550311Andreas J. Beck versammelt die Beiträge der internationalen wissenschaftlichen Tagung »Melanchthon und die Reformierte Tradition«, die vom 10.-12. November 2010 in Emden stattfand. Die Tagung wurde anlässlich Melanchthons 450. Todesjahres von der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek Emden in Kooperation mit der Evangelisch-Theologischen Fakultät Leuven und der Europäischen Melanchthonakademie Bretten organisiert.

Die einzelnen Beiträge stammen von Forschern aus Deutschland, den Niederlanden, Belgien, Frankreich, England und Ungarn und dokumentieren den bisher kaum erforschten, großen Einfluss Philip Melanchthons auf die reformierte Tradition. Einige Beiträge erörtern spezifische theologische Fragen, wie etwa das Verhältnis von Wort und Geist oder Freiheit und Wille bei Melanchthon. Andere Beiträge stellen größere Bezüge her, etwa zwischen Melanchthon und der reformierten Frömmigkeit oder der reformierten Scholastik. Außerdem thematisieren Beiträge Melanchthons Einfluss in Deutschland, der Schweiz, Frankreich, den Niederlanden und Ungarn thematisiert. Einige Beiträge zur Rezeption Melanchthons in der reformierten Tradition des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts und ein Rückblick auf das Melanchthon-Gedenkjahr 2010 runden das Bild ab.

Die beträchtliche Bedeutung Melanchthons für die reformierte Theologie, Frömmigkeit und Bildung zeigt sich nun deutlicher als in der bisherigen Forschung und stellt zugleich die einseitige Assoziation der reformierten Tradition mit Calvin in Frage. Melanchthon wirkte international über sein ausgedehntes Netzwerk mit Gelehrten und kirchlichen Leitern, seine Bildungs- und Universitätsreformen, seinen Schüler und sein überaus vielseitiges Schrifttum; er war der Lehrer Europas (Praeceptor Europae), nicht nur der Lehrer Deutschlands (Praecepter Germaniae).

The volume’s collected essays examine numerous aspects of Melanchthon’s life and world, as the table of contents illustrates quite clearly:

  • Günter Frank, Das Melanchthon-Gedenkjahr 2010
  • Andreas Mühling, Melanchthon und die Zürcher Theologen
  • Machiel A van den Berg, The Apocalyptic Melanchthon
  • Antonie Vos, Philip Melanchthon on Freedom and Will
  • Henk van den Belt, Word and Spirit in Melanchthon’s Loci Communes: Searching for the Relationship between the External and the Internal
  • Kees de Groot, Die Homiletik Melanchthons
  • Martin H. Jung, Melanchthon und die reformierte Frömmigkeit
  • Andreas J. Beck, Melanchthon und die reformierte Scholastik
  • Anthony Milton, A Tale of Two Melanchthons: Melanchthon and English Protestantism 1560–1660
  • András Szabó, Melanchthon und die Schule in Sárospatak im 16. Jahrhundert
  • Nicola Stricker, Melanchthon und die reformierte Tradition in Frankreich
  • Frank van der Pol, A Seventeenth Century Reformed-Pietistic Portrait of Melanchthon from the Netherlands
  • Johannes Hund, Norm oder Geist: Die reformierte Debatte zum Augustana-Jubiläum von 1830
  • Matthias Freudenberg, Melanchthon im Kontext der reformierten Tradition der Neuzeit

Each essay is by an expert Melanchthon-ist and the expertise of each contributor is completely clearly on display in their respective essays.  Several are, obviously, in English and many are in German.  Similarly on display is Melanchthon’s own wide ranging interests and engagements; from his magisterial theology in the Loci to his dabblings in Apocalyptic through his interactions with the Zurich theologians and extending to his impact on the church across Europe.  Melanchthon’s reach surpassed Luther’s and nearly rivaled Bullinger’s himself.  The collection’s editor writes of the volume:

In diesen Beiträgen zeigt sich die beträchtliche Bedeutung Melanchthons für die reformierte Theologie, Frömmigkeit und Bildung nun noch deutlicher als bisher. Dadurch wird zugleich die einseitige Assoziation der reformierten Tradition mit Calvin in Frage gestellt. Auch in der reformierten Tradition wirkte Melanchthon international über sein ausgedehntes Netzwerk mit Gelehrten und kirchlichen Leitern, seine Bildungs- und Universitätsreformen, seine Schüler und sein überaus vielseitiges Schrifttum. Melanchthon war „Praeceptor Europae“, nicht nur „Germaniae“, was auch die während der Tagung vom Brettener Oberbürgermeister Marius Wolff eröffnete Wanderausstellung „Melanchthon – Grenzen überwinden“ in der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek bestätigte.

Frank’s opening essay perfectly sets the stage for the conference at which it was delivered and for the volume presently under consideration.  Therein he describes the historical Melanchthon and his impact on theology, ecumenism, and philosophy.  As each essay which follows the opening unfurls they each, in their own way, touch on some significant aspect of Melanchthon’s historical, ecumenical, theological, or philosophical impact.

Particularly enlightening is van den Berg’s essay on Melanchthon’s apocalypticism.  As he notes

The sixteenth century reformer Philipp Melanchthon would never have thought that some day in the future – somewhere in the North of his beloved Germany, of which he is called the Praeceptor – reformation scholars would come together to commemorate his contribution to the reformed tradition, 450 years after he “escaped” from the rabies theologorum to enter the eternal glory he so eagerly had hoped for. Although his expectation of the second coming of Christ was not that imminent, as it seemed to be for his spiritual father and guide Martin Luther, he also believed that time was short for the end of history. In his calculation of the years, according to the prophecy of Daniel, it would be around the year 2000 at the latest; but if it pleased the Lord to shorten the times it could also happen much earlier. However, he was convinced that the history of this world was nearing its end.

Each essayist, again, expands our understanding of Melanchthon’s thought and influence and for each of the contributions scholars and students have ample reason for gratitude.  This is a valuable collection and those with an interest in the subject will enjoy it very much indeed.

The Bee Mocks the ‘Special Seat Seekers’

Nobody likes rushing into church service at the last moment and hoping to find a good spot, and no one is more aware of this than the leadership team at Grace First Church. In order to combat the problem, church leaders today released an update to the church’s website and mobile app containing functionality that allows churchgoers to select and reserve their seats ahead of showing up to service.


(You may think the Bee’s sarcasm is off at times but they nail it regularly.  I knew a woman, on the present topic, who stopped attending church for almost a year because she arrived one Sunday and someone was in ‘her seat’…)

The Most Uninformed Tweet of the Year


The issues are far more complex than simply sacraments, polity and authority.  This is the most misinformed tweet I’ve yet seen on the Reformation.  Only someone who has never studied the Reformation for more than a minute could suggest such.

A Film on Luther from 1927

lutherfilm_1927Ein deutsch-nationaler Lutherfilm mit propagandistischen Zügen sorgte 1927 für Zoff zwischen den Konfessionen. Ergebnis: Der Stummfilm durfte bald nur noch bis zur Unkenntlichkeit zensiert und beschnitten gezeigt werden. Jetzt hat das Berliner Bundesarchiv die Urfassung von »Luther« aufwendig rekonstruiert und restauriert. In der Berliner Passionskirche fand nun die »Wieder-Uraufführung« statt – live begleitet vom Stummfilm-Musiker Stephan Graf von Bothmer. Ökumenischen Redebedarf löst der Film auch heute noch aus: Ein evangelisch-katholisch besetztes Podium sollte das bei der Premiere stillen.

Read the whole very interesting essay here.

And Now For Something Completely Different


A Crash Course on the Reformation

Ab 24. Januar 2017 in Zürich: Crash-Kurs Reformation – Eine Entdeckungsreise durch Geschichte und Gegenwart der Reformation.

Der Kurs vermittelt grundlegende geschichtliche und theologische Eckdaten mit einem Schwerpunkt zur Schweizer Reformation. Daneben werden auch unbekanntere Fragestellungen zur Reformation präsentiert und diskutiert. So erhalten Sie mit zehn Themenblöcken an fünf Kursabenden ein kompaktes Grundwissen zur Reformation und ihrer Geschichte.



Scandal in West Midlands…

Why hasn’t the fire department spent any money on exorcists in the last 12 months????


How much money has been paid to exorcists over the past 12 months for properties owned or operated by your organisation.


West Midlands Fire Service has not made any payments to exorcists over the last 12 months.  Further information concerning our payments are published and can be found at the following link: https://www.wmfs.net/your-fire-service/openness/documents/

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications. If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision please write to The Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW

Maybe if they had spent money on exorcists the West Midlands would be safer….  With thanks to Helen Ingram and Richard Goode for keeping us informed of such important matters.