Daily Archives: 30 Jan 2017

Quote of the Day

If Trump wants to ban those who can be radicalised by extremists, then he should start with anyone who voted for him. #muslimban – HRH Prince Charles

The Resistance that Matters Most

To all civil servants and military personnel: you have the right, as a government employee, to refuse to obey unlawful orders. Donald J. Trump has issued an unlawful order. Ignore it. Ignore all of them whenever they come and no matter how insistent the Trump-ians become.  Let the roast in their anger.

Donald Trump is as tacky as Roman Emperors: So what?

Read it.

Roberta Mazza

1024px-jan_styka_-_nero_at_baiae Perpetuating stereotypes. Jan Syka Nero at Baiae, c. 1900 (photo by M0tty, Wikimediacommons)

I have enough.

I am an immigrant. I have already to endure Brexit, so I am sorry but I cannot possibly endure the rhetoric on Trump and Roman emperors on top of all this. I forgot to add that I am not only an immigrant, but an Italian immigrant, which means that I already had Mussolini and the Fascist fascination with Roman imperial history, and Berlusconi and his Cinecittà version of Hollywood Trumpland.

We live in the big world of Absurdistan, I know, but this does not entitle members of the British establishment to continue brutalizing Roman history as if we were still living in Edward Gibbon’s glorious days, with the downside, it must be admitted, of not having the same proficiency in Greek and Latin. This is the twenty-first bloody (indeed) century and Ancient History and Classics…

View original post 1,387 more words

This Is My Happy Place…

Melanchthon’s library:


via our Saxon friends on FB

The Theological Declaration of Barmen: Every Christian Theologian Needs to Affirm It Today

Simply replace Germany with America and make the other necessary changes mutatis mutandis and this is the Confession our time desperately needs.

The Barmen Declaration

Theological Declaration of Barmen May 1934

An appeal to the Evangelical congregations and Christians in Germany

The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31 1934. Here representatives from all the German confessional churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic church.

In fidelity to their confession of faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter.

It was not their intention to found a new church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the confession of faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and by insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the church renewed.

Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the confessions.

Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the confessions of the Fathers!

Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with holy scripture and with the confessions of the Fathers.

If you find that we are speaking contrary to scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Theological declaration concerning the present situation of the German Evangelical Church

According to the opening words of its constitution of July 11 1933, the German Evangelical Church is a federation of confessional churches that grew our of the Reformation and that enjoy equal rights. The theological basis for the unification of these churches is laid down in Article 1 and Article 2 (1) of the constitution of the German Evangelical Church that was recognized by the Reich government on July 14 1933:

  • Article 1. The inviolable foundation of the German Evangelical Church is the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is attested for us in holy scripture and brought to light again in the confessions of the Reformation. The full powers that the church needs for its mission are hereby determined and limited.
  • Article 2 (1). The German Evangelical Church is divided into member churches (Landeskirchen).

We, the representatives of Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches, of free synods, church assemblies, and parish organizations united in the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church, declare that we stand together on the ground of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of German confessional churches. We are bound together by the confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

We publicly declare before all evangelical churches in Germany that what they hold in common in this confession is grievously imperilled, and with it the unity of the German Evangelical Church. It is threatened by the teaching methods and actions of the ruling church party of the “German Christians” and of the church administration carried on by them. These have become more and more apparent during the first year of the existence of the German Evangelical Church. This threat consists in the fact that the theological basis on which the German Evangelical Church is united has been continually and systematically thwarted and rendered ineffective by alien principles, on the part of the leaders and spokesmen of the “German Christians” as well as on the part of the church administration. When these principles are held to be valid, then, according to all the confessions in force among us, the church ceases to be the church and the German Evangelical Church, as a federation of confessional churches, becomes intrinsically impossible.

As members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches we may and must speak with one voice in this matter today. Precisely because we want to be and to remain faithful to our various confessions, we may not keep silent, since we believe that we have been given a common message to utter in a time of common need and temptation. We commend to God what this may mean for the interrelations of the confessional churches.

In view of the errors of the “German Christians” of the present Reich church government which are devastating the church and also therefore breaking up the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:
1. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (Jn 14.6) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber… I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (Jn 10.1, 9)

Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in holy scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.

2. “Christ Jesus, whom God has made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor 1.30)

As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, in the same way and with the same seriousness he is also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life. Through him befalls us a joyful deliverance from the godless fetters of this world for a free, grateful service to his creatures.

We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords – areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.

3. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body [is] joined and knit together.” (Eph 4.15,16)

The Christian church is the congregation of the brethren in which Jesus Christ acts presently as the Lord in word and sacrament through the Holy Spirit. As the church of pardoned sinners, it has to testify in the midst of a sinful world, with its faith as with its obedience, with its message as with its order, that it is solely his property, and that it lives and wants to live solely from his comfort and from his direction in the expectation of his appearance.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions.

4. “You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Mt 20.25,26)

The various offices in the church do not establish a dominion of some over the others; on the contrary, they are for the exercise of the ministry entrusted to and enjoined upon the whole congregation.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the church, apart from this ministry, could and were permitted to give itself, or allow to be given to it, special leaders vested with ruling powers.

5. “Fear God. Honour the emperor.” (1 Pet 2.17)

Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the church also exists, the state has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfils this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the kingdom of God, God’s commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the state, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the church’s vocation as well.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the state, thus itself becoming an organ of the state.

6. “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28.20) “The word of God is not fettered.” (2 Tim 2.9)

The church’s commission, upon which its freedom is founded, consists in delivering the message of the free grace of God to all people in Christ’s stead, and therefore in the ministry of his own Word and work through sermon and sacrament.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the church in human arrogance could place the word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans.

The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgement of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of confessional churches. It invites all who are able to accept its declaration to be mindful of these theological principles in their decisions in church politics. It entreats all whom it concerns to return to the unity of faith, love, and hope.

On Myths and Their Contexts: An Issue of Contemporary Theology? A Response to Jeffrey Morrow

New in Bible and Interpretation from Thomas Thompson.

This essay is written in direct response to Jeffrey Morrow’s article and should be read with Morrow’s paper in hand. The first section of my response, in its attempt to deal with such ringing echoes of Peter Abelard’s sic et Non is such that the charge of prejudicial bias fundamental to the methods and principles of biblical criticism has brought back memories of my early student examinations at Blackfriars! I hope the reader will have patience and forgive the logical stiltedness of my prose in this opening section.


The Annoying Story of an Order From the German Bible Society

Last November I ordered a second copy of the Lutherbibel 2017.  The German Bible Society received the order, and the payment, and shipped the Bible on 23 December.

Unfortunately they sent it by DHL, which says it has been handed over to the USPS whilst the USPS says it has never received the package from DHL.

No Bible has arrived.  No one knows where the box is.  Everyone says someone else has it.  And all of them say there’s nothing they can do about it.

So I’m left annoyed.  And very disappointed.

At any rate, perhaps ordering from the German Bible Society for deliveries by DHL isn’t a very good idea.  Unless one enjoys frustration.

UPDATE-  DHL tweets

@drjewest Sorry, due to a Lufthansa strike we had to transport by ship in December/January. That still causes delays. Please be patient.


Quote of the Day

But if you really amend your behaviour and your actions, if you really treat one another fairly, if you do not exploit the stranger, the orphan and the widow, if you do not shed innocent blood in this place and if you do not follow other gods, to your own ruin, then I shall let you stay in this place, in the country I gave for ever to your ancestors of old. (Jer. 7:5-7)

Based on our government’s practices, we’re doomed and condemned.

The Pentateuch: Introducing the Torah

9780800699482Dozeman is excellent.  And this looks tremendous.

The Pentateuch is the heart of the Hebrew Bible and the foundational document of Judaism. It is also the focus of tremendous scholarly debate regarding the complex history of its composition. This history will be explored along with analysis of the historical background and ancient Near Eastern parallels for its primeval history, its ancestry narratives and laws, the theological purposes of its final redaction, and its diverse interpretation in communities today.

This textbook introduces students to the contents of the Torah and orients them to the key interpretive questions and methods shaping contemporary scholarship, inviting readers into the work of interpretation today. Pedagogical features include images, maps, timelines, reading lists, and a glossary.

The Latest Issue of Zwingliana

Christian Moser writes

Interested readers may view the Table of Contents as well as the abstracts at http://www.zwingliana.ch/index.php/zwa/issue/current.   At the same time Zwingliana 40 (2013) went online in full text and can be accessed at http://www.zwingliana.ch/index.php/zwa/issue/view/212.

2 in 5 Churches Should Shut Down Because They Think The Super Bowl Matters More Than Worship

Why? Because 2 in 5 Churches Will Adjust Activities for Super Bowl Sunday.

Almost a quarter of pastors (24%) say they change things to include watching the game. Another 12 percent adjust their Sunday night plans in other ways.  Only 5 percent of churches that normally have activities on Sunday evenings plan to cancel those entirely.

24% is nearly 1/4th of Pastors.  And that’s absurd and evil.  Adjusting services?  For a game?  Don’t they understand the impropriety?  Are there no theologians among them to point out the problem with exalting a game above God?

Pastors of churches with fewer than 100 in attendance are more likely to continue as normal on Super Bowl Sunday night. Almost 7 in 10 said their church’s activities would go on as usual (68%). Churches with 100 or more were split, with slightly more than half (52%) continuing as normal.

“The overall percentage continuing normal Sunday evening activities is driven by smaller churches,” McConnell said.

Pastors in the Northeast (53%) and Midwest (51%) are less likely to continue normal Sunday night services than those in the South (65%). Those in the Northeast (18%) are also twice as likely to say they plan to adjust Sunday night activities in other ways than pastors in the South (9%).

There is also an age gap. Pastors 65 and older are the most likely to say they are continuing with normal Sunday night activities (75%), and the least likely to say they plan to make adjustments to include watching the game (11%).

Meanwhile, pastors 18 to 44 are more likely to cancel Sunday night activities (8%) compared to those 65 and older (2%).

Some denominations are more likely to continue as normal. The majority of Church of Christ (78%), Baptist (65%), and Pentecostal (65%) pastors say they will have regular activities. Less than half of Lutheran (41%) and Methodist (34%) pastors say the same.

If you cancel your services for a ballgame, you should cancel every service forever.  And if you adjust your schedule, you should do the same thing.  You’ve ceased to be a Church.

Congratulations, Gottfried Locher

gottfried locherDer Präsident des Schweizerischen Evangelischen Kirchenbundes wurde in einem Gottesdienst in der St Paul’s Cathedral in London als ökumenischer Ehrendomherr eingesetzt.

Die seltene Ernennung «Honorary Ecumenical Canon» ist Ausdruck der wachsenden Beziehungen zwischen der Church of England und der Evangelisch-reformierten Kirche der Schweiz, heisst es in einer Mitteilung vom Montag. Der Ehrentitel bringe keine Verpflichtungen mit sich.

«Unsere Kirchen stehen vor ähnlich grossen Herausforderungen. Umso wichtiger ist es, dass wir voneinander lernen. Manches ist anders bei den Anglikanern als bei uns, aber jeder Blick über den ökumenischen Gartenzaun hinaus hilft uns weiter», sagte Locher anlässlich der Einsetzung.

Die Installation fand in Anwesenheit des Schweizer Botschafters Dominik Furgler und von Vertretern von sieben reformierten Kantonalkirchen sowie der Theologischen Fakultäten Zürich, Bern und Fribourg statt.

Well deserved.  Congratulations.

Smack in the Middle of the First Zurich Disputation- January 30, 1523

zwingli1011.jpgOn the day appointed for the discussion [January 29] upward of six hundred people from all classes came together in the Town Hall, the assembly place of the Great Council. Faber, the vicar-general of the diocese, and several other doctors were present, as representatives of the Bishop. None of the cantons except Schaffhausen sent deputies.

Zwingli took his position at a table in the midst of the room, and before him lay the open Bible. Burgomaster Roust called the assembly to order and made a brief speech, setting forth the reasons which led to the calling of the meeting. As soon as the meeting was declared open for discussion, Zwingli arose and challenged any who had spoken against him publicly and denounced him as a heretic to speak.

Faber, who knew that this challenge was meant for him, arose and with some confusion replied that he had been sent not to dispute, but to learn why there were so many differences of opinion about religion in the canton, and suggested that, as the Diet of Nuremburg had promised a council soon, the questions in dispute be left for settlement until that time. When it seemed unlikely that any one would accept his challenge, Zwingli addressed the assembly in his own behalf, denying the right of any to call him a heretic and declaring that he was ready to defend his doctrine against all comers.

An awkward pause followed this speech. As no one seemed ready to reply, the burgomaster adjourned the meeting until the afternoon. When the Council convened again a paper was read embodying their decision, i.e., “that Master Ulrich Zwingli continue to proclaim the Holy Gospel as long and as often as he will until something better is made known to him. Furthermore, all priests, curates, and preachers in cities, cantons and dependencies, shall undertake and preach nothing but what can be proved by the Holy Gospel and the Scriptures; furthermore, they shall not in future slander, insult, or call each other heretics.”*

The events of that January were just the beginning. Reform had commenced in earnest but 1525 would be a year of attack from the left and the right and 1527 and afterwards would be engaged in theological disputations with Catholics and Lutherans. In short, from this victorious moment onward, it was all uphill for Zwingli. Nonetheless, the Reform he began (or rather, which God began through him), would succeed magnificently.

*S. Simpson, Life of Ulrich Zwingli: The Swiss Patriot and Reformer (pp. 122–124).