While We Endure Trump, The Germans Debate B and ß

Es sieht aus wie eine Mischung aus einem klein geschriebenen “ß” und einem großen “B”: Das Eszett, das es als Beschluss des Rates für deutsche Rechtschreibung ab sofort auch als Großbuchstaben gibt. Wichtig ist das vor allem für das Schreiben von Eigennamen in Ausweisen.

21 Jahre nach der umstrittenen Rechtschreibreform ist das amtliche Regelwerk erneut an einigen Stellen geändert worden. Nun gibt es das Eszett, das “scharfe S”, auch offiziell als Großbuchstaben. Es sieht aus wie ein Mittelding zwischen dem bisherigen, klein geschriebenen “ß” und einem groß geschrieben “B”.

Vor allem für die korrekte Schreibung von Eigennamen in Pässen und Ausweisen sei dies wichtig, teilte der Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung in Mannheim mit. Bisher hatten zum Beispiel Menschen mit dem Nachnamen Meißner ein Problem: Wenn in einem Ausweisdokument wegen der Großschreibung der Buchstaben anstelle des “ß” ein Doppel-“S” steht, bleibt unklar, ob sie “Meissner” oder “Meißner” heißen.

Finally, friends, important news!

The Anniversary of the Death of Luther’s Mom

margie_lutherMartin Luther’s mother Margarethe died on June 30, 1531, in Magdeburg, Germany. From his descriptions of her, we know that he saw her as a stern but loving mother. Even Lucas Cranach the Elder’s portrait of her gives her a dower expression.

But by looking at all of Luther’s comments to and about his mother, we can see that her sternness came out of a strong desire for the best for her children. She, along with her husband Hans, made sure that her children received the best education that they could afford to give them. Later, we learn that she even came to Wittenberg occasionally to help Katie with the children who loved and adored their only living grandmother.

Finally, we know that Margarethe died secure in the faith which her famous son had proclaimed and which she also confessed as her own.

The portrait of Margarethe Luther is by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1527.

-Rebecca DeGrmeaux for Katie Luther

Why You’re Here: Ethics for the Real World

What are Christians to be and to do in the world? What does faithfulness look like in these complex and confusing times?

Christians are often told either to take over the world in God’s name or to withdraw into faithful sanctuaries of counter-cultural witness. John Stackhouse offers a concise, vivid, and practical alternative based on the teachings of Scripture about the meaning of human life in this world and the next.

Why You’re Here provides an accessible, concrete program for the faithful Christian living in today’s world, fraught as it is with ambiguity, irony, and frequent choices among unpalatable options. Stackhouse speaks directly to everyday Christians who are searching for straightforward advice on some of their most complex quandaries and the challenges inherent in staying true to the Bible’s teachings.

Politicians, medical professionals, businesspeople, professors, lawyers, pastors, students, and anyone else concerned to think realistically and hopefully about Christian engagement in society today will find here a framework to both guide and inspire them in everyday life.

Oxford University Press have sent a pre-publication reader’s copy.

In sum, this is a wonderfully engaging and quite helpful little theological / ethical book.  Its author has a gift for succinct writing that remains full and fulfilling.  For instance

Did Jesus really die on a cross in order to inspire honorable, but otherwise unremarkable, lives? (p. 2).

It is a book comprised of three divisions:

  1. Our (Permanent) Human Calling: Make Shalom
  2. Our (Temporary) Christian Calling: Make Disciples
  3. Responding to the Call of Jesus

In short, he writes, this is a book about the Christian vocation.  And so throughout he discusses what it means to be a Christian in our world and how Scripture and Christian theology ought to inform our decisions, lifestyles, and behaviours.

As I said just above, the style is engaging and really superbly so.  We read

Jesus calls us not to do his work, but to extend his work (p. 82).

A crucial axiom here is that each of us is a member, not a microcosm (p. 128).

Everything. Everywhere. Everyone. Every moment.  That is the scope of God’s call on our lives, and that is the dignity our lives enjoy (p. 139).

What S. here argues, in short, is that Christians must be Christian in public and in private and their ethics must be determined by their Christian faith, always, everywhere, about everything.

If I were asked to remark about any weaknesses or shortcomings in the book I would only say that S. seems to be too appreciative of Yoder (who, for me, is so tainted by his own immorality that any ethic he may produce is also tainted by the stench of hypocrisy) and of Bonhoeffer (whose ‘Ethics’ is, again in my estimation, the worst of all his works).

That, however, is the only criticism I can muster concerning this really genuinely lovely little volume.  I recommend it quite highly.  Especially today.  Especially for our times, when too many Christians make their decisions not governed by the faith they proclaim but the ideology of a political party or system.

This is a needed and a timely book and you should read it.  And you should pass along your copy when you’re done to someone else so they can read it too.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

Jesus Christ is arguably the most famous man who ever lived. His image adorns countless churches, icons, and paintings. He is the subject of millions of statues, sculptures, devotional objects and works of art. Everyone can conjure an image of Jesus: usually as a handsome, white man with flowing locks and pristine linen robes.

But what did Jesus really look like? Is our popular image of Jesus overly westernized and untrue to historical reality?

This question continues to fascinate. Leading Christian Origins scholar Joan E. Taylor surveys the historical evidence, and the prevalent image of Jesus in art and culture, to suggest an entirely different vision of this most famous of men. 

He may even have had short hair.

Joan is a fantastic scholar.  This should be a real treat.

The Commentary Sale

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.

the-person-the-pew-commentary-series

 

The books are all available in PDF format from yours truly for a paltry $100 this Holiday weekend by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary.

[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works.

Blessings, David Booth

 

The White House Just Went Full Bore Fascist

And if the Governor of Tennessee (and the rest) send them what they want, they are complicit in their fascism.

A letter from Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of a White House commission looking into voter fraud and other irregularities, is drawing fire from some state election officials. The letter, sent Wednesday to all 50 states, requests that all publicly available voter roll data be sent to the White House by July 14, five days before the panel’s first meeting.

The information requested includes the names, addresses, birthdates, political party (if recorded), last four digits of the voter’s Social Security Number and which elections the voter has participated in since 2006, for every registered voter in the country.

Kobach, who is also Kansas’ Republican secretary of state, did not say how the commission plans to use the data other than to help it “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”

However, Kobach has long advocated comparing state voter rolls with other government databases to identify noncitizens or other illegitimate registrants. Voter advocacy groups say such comparisons are prone to error and worry that the effort will result in legitimate voters being purged from the rolls.

Our information is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

The Sad State of Preaching in Geneva in the Pre-Calvin Era

Sermons in Geneva before Calvin were very much like most sermons today- silly stories and ridiculous tales were told by Priests who preferred that sort of nonsense to proclamation of Scripture.

… in consequence of the ridicule which the priests drew on themselves by the legends which they read from the pulpit, [the people] found it necessary to request the Grand Vicar to take order that in all the churches and convents the gospel should be preached according to the truth, without being mixed up with any fables, or other human inventions, that so the inhabitants might live in good accord like their fathers.*

Said edict was issued on 30 June, 1532. The same sort of edict needs to be issued today except neither clergy nor Christians would bother to heed it.
_____________
*The Early Years of John Calvin (p. 126).

Today With Zwingli: On the Preaching Office

On the 30th of June in the year of our Lord, 1525, Huldrych Zwingli published one of his most delightful and useful volumes, Von dem Predigtamt.  Who, and what, is a Preacher and what does his office entail?  But even more centrally, the ‘problem’ with which this book wishes to deal is the question, ‘ob ein ley sollt das wort gottes sagen’.  Do layfolk have the right to preach?

It might seem an odd question to us, but in 1525 Zwingli was at the center of the Anabaptist storm and among those people, unauthorized preaching was part and parcel of their belief that the entire church was corrupt, including all the ordained.  So preach they did- even if as equipped for it as a dog for higher science.

Zwingli has some pretty forthright things to say in this text including but not limited to

Anabaptism is wholly and totally against God.

and

Without a thorough knowledge of Hebrew and Greek there is no knowledge of the contents of the Old and New Testaments.  Every commentary in the world cannot measure up to the value of a knowledge of those languages.’

and

Romans 10:15 clearly shows that only the ‘sent’ may preach.

And of course by sent, Zwingli means duly authorized by the rite of ordination.  These re-baptizers, though, were sent only by their own wicked imaginations and were therefore neither legitimate nor authorized by God.

Zwingli’s book is a fantastic read.  For even more on Zwingli’s understanding of the preaching office, Hans Scholl’s essay is a valuable resource.

The Bee Stings Every Linguistically Ignorant Pastor on the Planet

It’s funny because it’s true.

Pastor John O’Brien is still referencing the single koine Greek word he knows into every single sermon he delivers, the congregation at Lakeside Baptist Church confirmed Thursday.

According to church members, the pastor references the New Testament Greek word dunamis at least once a sermon, making any kind of tenuous connection from the text to the sole koine Greek word in his vocabulary.

“Interestingly enough, the Greek word here is ‘dunamis,’ which is where we get the English word ‘dynamite,’” O’Brien said Sunday morning, using the term for the 42nd week running. “So really, this passage is talking about how the gospel is the ‘dynamite’ of God! Isn’t that amazing?”

In weeks past, the preacher has referenced the term in connection with sermons on Genesis 1, the narrative of David and Goliath, and biblical stewardship, sources claim.

At publishing time, congregants had confirmed O’Brien is still pronouncing the word incorrectly.

These guys show up at every Pastor’s Conference and give the devotional too…

First Baptist Church, Dallas: Practitioners of Idolatry

Yesterday was “Freedom Sunday” at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.  The pastor of First Baptist is Robert Jeffress.  He is a Trump supporter, Christian nationalist, and prominent court evangelical. As the pictures attached to this tweet indicate, it was a day of patriotic celebration in the church sanctuary.

People waved American flags during the service.

The last time I checked, the waving of the American flag was a sign of support or loyalty to the nation.  Jeffress had no problem allowing such an act to take place in a church sanctuary–the place where Christians worship God as a form of expressing their ultimate loyalty.  Patriotism is fine. Flag-waving is fine.  But I wonder if any of the congregation felt uncomfortable that all of this took place in the church sanctuary on a Sunday morning.

They didn’t.  They’re idolaters, led by an idolater.  Read the whole piece.