The Rehabilitation of Erasmus

Ganz Zürich redet während des Reformationsjubiläums von Zwingli. Ganz Zürich? Die Kirchgemeinde St. Peter hat einen anderen Schwerpunkt gesetzt: Sie ruft ein Erasmus-Jahr aus.

«Als geistiger Typus gehört Erasmus zu der ziemlich seltenen Gruppe derjenigen, die zugleich unbedingte Idealisten und durchaus Gemässigte sind», schrieb der Kulturhistoriker Johan Huizinga über Erasmus von Rotterdam. Der niederländische Humanist und Theologe, der von Luther aufgrund seiner eigensinningen Interpretation des Johannes-Evangeliums als «diabolus incarnatus», als fleischgewordener Teufel, bezeichnet wurde, war kein Mann der Extreme. Die Christenheit zu spalten wäre nie in seinem Sinn gewesen. Trotzdem war der uneheliche Sohn eines Priesters eine wichtige Figur für die Reformation.

Zwingli’s still better, and more important. But this essay is quite interesting.

Total Depravity: The Baptist Deacon (And Alabama Governor) Edition

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has resigned after pleading guilty to abusing his office, allegedly to conceal an affair with a political adviser.

Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks announced Monday that Bentley “pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges: failing to file a major contribution report, in violation of Code of Alabama §17-5-8.1(c); and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use, in violation of Code of Alabama §36-25-6.” She added, “He has resigned from office.”

Depravity.  No other word fits.

Calvin’s View of Scripture as ‘Self Authenticating’

Let it therefore be held as fixed, that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our Judgment, but we subject our intellect and judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.

This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it—an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge. Hence, God most justly exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he,” (Isa. 43:10).

Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce. I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality. I do not dwell on this subject at present, because we will return to it again: only let us now understand that the only true faith is that which the Spirit of God seals on our hearts. Nay, the modest and teachable reader will find a sufficient reason in the promise contained in Isaiah, that all the children of the renovated Church “shall be taught of the Lord,” (Isaiah 54:13).

This singular privilege God bestows on his elect only, whom he separates from the rest of mankind. For what is the beginning of true doctrine but prompt alacrity to hear the Word of God? And God, by the mouth of Moses, thus demands to be heard: “It is not in heavens that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,” (Deut. 30:12, 14). God having been pleased to reserve the treasure of intelligence for his children, no wonder that so much ignorance and stupidity is seen in the generality of mankind.

In the generality, I include even those specially chosen, until they are ingrafted into the body of the Church. Isaiah, moreover, while reminding us that the prophetical doctrine would prove incredible not only to strangers, but also to the Jews, who were desirous to be thought of the household of God, subjoins the reason, when he asks, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1). If at any time, then we are troubled at the small number of those who believe, let us, on the other hand, call to mind, that none comprehend the mysteries of God save those to whom it is given.  Inst I,vii,5

There is a War on Christianity

So opines Stanley.

We live in an age of martyrs. Also, an age of wilful ignorance. When Christians are killed for being Christians, politicians overlook it and public interest fades. Those few of us in the West who still go to church don’t realise how lucky we are. Others are dying for the right to do that.

On Palm Sunday two bombings in Egyptian churches killed at least 44 people. The targets were Coptic Christians. In one case, the bomb was situated at the front of the church, tearing through pews and bodies. A witness told the Telegraph: “I kept looking at the human remains but I didn’t recognise who was who because their faces were so damaged.” The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has claimed responsibility. I take comfort from the faith that whatever misery they have caused their victims, the bombers will endure a thousand times worse in Hell.

Etc.  He may be right.  He certainly doesn’t seem wrong.

Ad Fontes: An Observation

You may be very, very interested in a subject or field of study.  You may even be very interested in the Bible. Or theology.  Or Church History.  But the fact is, you are not a scholar of those fields until and unless you care enough to read the primary sources of those fields of study.  Ad fontes isn’t just a fun saying, it contains within itself the very heart and soul of accurate, decent, meaningful research.

Where Ad fontes is absent, so is worthwhile scholarship.  Scholarship dependent on translations is always and forever lacking.

Luther heute

In diesem Buch werden die Hauptthemen reformatorischer Theologie beleuchtet, die für die evangelische Kirche grundlegend sind, eine starke Wirkungsgeschichte entfaltet haben und bis heute das kirchliche Handeln wie das gesellschaftliche Leben prägen. Dabei sollen die zentralen theologischen Anliegen Martin Luthers einerseits in ihren Grundzügen historisch sorgfältig dargestellt, andererseits in ihrer Bedeutung für Kirche und Gesellschaft heute deutlich gemacht werden. Die einzelnen Beiträge sind für den Vortrag in einer Ringvorlesung der Evangelisch-Theologischen Fakultät in Tübingen zum Reformationsjubiläum im WS 2016/17 konzipiert worden. Der Band bietet einen konzentrierten Überblick über die wichtigsten Themen reformatorischer Theologie und Lebensgestaltung aus der Sicht unterschiedlicher Disziplinen. Er ist gedacht für alle, die sich für die Relevanz der Reformation für Kirche und Gesellschaft heute interessieren.

  • – Christoph Schwöbel: Sola Scriptura – Schriftprinzip und Schriftgebrauch
  • Friedrich Hermanni:Luthers Lehre vom unfreien Willen. Ein Plädoyer
  • Friederike Nüssel: Sola gratia – in einer gnadenlosen Wettbewerbsgesellschaft?
  • Walter Sparn: »Er heißt Jesus Christ, der Herr Zebaoth, und ist kein andrer Gott«. Solus Christus als Kanon reformatorischen Christentums
  • Eilert Herms:»Der Glaube ist ein schäftig, tätig Ding«. Luthers »Ethik«: sein Bild vom christlichen Leben
  • Ulrich Heckel: »Wasser tut’s freilich nicht« – Taufe und Glaube bei Luther
  • Volker Leppin: Priestertum aller Gläubigen. Amt und Ehrenamt in der lutherischen Kirche
  • Jürgen Kampmann: »Lasset alles ehrbar und ordentlich zugehen« (1 Kor 14,40): Anliegen und Maßstäbe reformatorischer kirchlicher Ordnung
  • Johannes Schilling: Luther, die Musik und der Gottesdienst
  • Reiner Preul: »Du sollst Evangelium predigen« / »nihil nisi Christus praedicandus« – Gesetz und Evangelium in der Predigt
  • Birgit Weyel: »(D)aß ein Mensch den anderen trösten soll«. Überlegungen zu einem Grundanliegen reformatorischer Seelsorge aus heutiger Sicht
  • Albrecht Geck: Der Protestantismus und (seine) Bilder
  • Friedrich Schweitzer: Die Reformation als Bildungsbewegung – nicht nur im schulischen Bereich. Ausgangspunkte, Wirkungsgeschichte, Zukunftsbedeutung
  • Wilfried Härle: »Niemand soll in eigener Sache Richter sein« – Luthers Sicht der Obrigkeit und der demokratische Rechtsstaat
  • Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt: Gerechtigkeit und Freiheit in den Institutionen am Beispiel von Ehe und Familie
  • Bernd Jochen Hilberath: »Allein die Erfahrung«: Martin Luther – katholischer Theologe und Lehrer der Kirche
  • Thomas Kaufmann: Luthers Christus und die anderen Religionen und Konfessionen

The chief benefit of the present volume is the breadth and scope of the topics treated.  It provides readers nothing less than a ‘handbook on Luther’, giving the interested the most up to date scholarship on aspects of Luther’s thought as diverse as his view of marriage and his view of music.  It lacks any indices of any sort but that fact is understandable given the precise titles provided for the essays.  It also includes several (though not many) very nice illustrations in black and white.

The chief theological concerns of Luther are addressed herein.  Sola Scriptura, baptism, government, and all the rest are found with the incredibly interesting exception of any treatment on the topic of the Lord’s Supper.  Given the importance of that doctrine both in Luther’s day and in our own this is quite astonishing.  Indeed, it is shocking.  One is forced to wonder why this is the case yet one will seek in vain for an explanation in the Preface.

The essays here collected, however, serve quite well to explain concisely  what Luther thought and taught and, more importantly, how those views can lend themselves to interfaith dialogue in our time.  It is a commendable collection which I am happy to commend.

The Bee Stings the Heretic TD Jakes

During a special Palm Sunday service celebrating the Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Bishop T. D. Jakes rode into The Potter’s House’s massive sanctuary in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, sources confirmed Monday.

According to those present, adoring parishioners threw suit jackets, church bulletins, and hundred-dollar bills down in front of the luxury vehicle as it slowly pulled down a church aisle, shouting, “Blessed is he who comes rolling in on 21s!” as they craned to get a glimpse of the preacher worth tens of millions of dollars.

Pulling the $450,000 car right up the steps of the multi-million-dollar sanctuary, the preacher reportedly stepped out right at his pulpit and delivered a message titled, “Jesus, Our Meek and Humble Savior.”

That’s a sweet ride…

LXX Scholar Interview: Dr. Albert Pietersma

Worth reading.

Septuaginta &c.

Today I have the pleasure of posting an interview with one of the most well-known and respected scholars in Septuagint scholarship. If you aren’t aware, I have been conducting LXX scholar interviews for a few years now and have compiled something of a library, with more additions to come.

Dr. Albert Pietersma (also see here) is Professor emeritus of Septuagint and Hellenistic Greek in the Department of Near and Middle East Civilizations at the University of Toronto‘s Faculty of Arts and Science. Born in the Netherlands in 1935 and tenured in 1971, Dr. Pietersma has a very long list of publications, and is particularly well known (as you will read about below) for work producing the translation philosophy for the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS, also see here) known as the “interlinear paradigm,” its accompanying translator’s manual, and of…

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