Daily Archives: 20 Aug 2017

A Question or Two for the Members of Churches

If your church were only open when you were there, how often would it be open? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year?  Ever?  What’s more important than worship to you?

A Fun Fact About Rudolf Bultmann

According to his biographer, Konrad Hammann, Bultmann either sent or received around 20,000 pieces of correspondence over the course of his career!

That’s a lot of mail!  And none of it was electronic!!!!

For Brits It’s Always About the Parking…

Peter Berger: On Bultmann and Pentecostalism and Bultmann’s Sudden Relevance, Again

Thanks to the Eerdmans folk on Facebook for mentioning this essay (which I nonetheless had no knowledge of) – Some Theologians Never Die—They Just Wait to be Googled.

Berger actually does a fair job. Or, as I remark there, it’s nice to see that Bultmann isn’t misrepresented. And it’s nice to know that he is relevant; not again, but still. And it’s also very remarkable that it’s the Pentecostals who seem to be rediscovering him for exactly the reason which Berger highlights-

Stripped of his mistaken empirical view of modern man and of his implausible fascination with Heidegger’s obscure existentialism, Bultmann can be seen again as posing a suddenly urgent question: Is the mythological worldview of the New Testament a necessary ingredient of the Christian faith? The question becomes even more interesting as Jews and Muslims, in their own way, must raise similar questions as well. Put differently: What are the prospects of supernaturalism in the modern world? My own hunch is that the prospects are pretty good.

Read the whole essay, it really is done quite well.

If Your Church has a ‘Praise Band’ or ‘Orchestra’…

Calvin has something to say-

“With respect to the tabret, harp, and psaltery, we have formerly observed, and shall find it necessary afterwards to repeat the same remark, that the Levites, under the law, were justified in making use of instrumental music in the worship of God; it having been His will to train His people, while they were as yet tender and like children, by such rudiments, until the coming of Christ.

But now, when the clear light of the Gospel has dissipated the shadows of the law, and taught us that God is to be served in a simpler form, it would be to act a foolish and mistaken part to imitate that which the Prophet enjoined only upon those of his own time.

From this it is apparent that the Papists have shewn themselves to be very apes in transferring it to themselves.”


“Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints only in a known tongue. (1. Cor. 14:16.) The voice of man, although not understood by the generality, assuredly excels all inanimate instruments of music; and yet we see what St. Paul determines concerning speaking in an unknown tongue.”

The Liberty University Students Returning their Diplomas to Protest Trump, and Falwell

These kids have more sense than the President of Liberty U.  And are better Christians.

A group of alumni from one of the country’s most influential evangelical Christian universities is condemning their school’s president for his continued alignment with President Trump.

A small but growing number of Liberty University graduates are preparing to return diplomas to their school. The graduates are protesting university President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s ongoing support for Trump. They began organizing after Trump’s divisive remarks about the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.

Chris Gaumer, a former Student Government Association president and 2006 graduate, said it was a simple decision.

“I’m sending my diploma back because the president of the United States is defending Nazis and white supremacists,” Gaumer said. “And in defending the president’s comments, Jerry Falwell Jr. is making himself and, it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit.”

Good on them.

Rudolf Bultmann: Scholar of Faith

bultmannHere’s a great essay for your reading pleasure:

Rudolf Bultmann — who died on July 30, 1976 at the advanced age of 91 was the last of the theological giants who grew up in the universities of the Kaiser’s Germany (he began to study theology in 1903 at 19), and the last of the prophets who struggled to hear the word of the Christians’ Lord after what had happened in 1914. Teaching New Testament at Marburg University from 1921 to 1951, Bultmann exerted all his many talents in order to recover the highest tradition of German biblical scholarship after the interruption of the war. Giving his acute and well-stored mind to the problems of biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics, he developed the science of form criticism with Martin Dibelius. However, he also took very seriously the world around him — the postwar world of the Weimar Republic, groping for financial as well as spiritual stability (in the end, its gospel was Mein Kampf).


There were plenty of men (Karl Jaspers, Fritz Bun, Herbert Braun and others) who urged him to complete his program by a thoroughgoing secularization, but Bultmann obstinately insisted on the power and grace of the Other who comes. He knew. He had met him. This is his glory, in an age which has exalted research above the encounters of life, and which has obscured God by the massive horrors of politics as well as by the petty sentimentalities of religion.

Bultmann was one of the finest Christians of the century (and he never cheated on his wife like Barth did).  Don’t believe the lies his enemies spew about him being an unbeliever.  Go read the rest.

Today With Zwingli

First, in 1524, on 20 August, Zwingli published his delightful REPLY OF HULDREICH ZWINGLI TO JEROME EMSER, DEFENDER OF THE CANON OF THE MASS and second, on 20 August, 1530, his justly famous SERMON ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD appeared in print.  August 20 was a momentous day on at least two occasions for our dear Huldrych.

The latter work is introduced in its English rendering thusly:

AD ILLVSTRISSIMVM CATTORVM PRINcipem Philippum, sermonis De providentia Dei Anamnema.
VENITE AD ME OMNES QUI LAboratis et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos. Matth. XI.
Tigvri apvd Christophorvm Froschouer, Anno M.D. XXX.

160 octavo pages, numbered by leaves (2–80). Signed on p. 159: Tiguri XX. Augusti M.D. XXX. Opera Zwinglii, Tom. I, fol. 352a–379b; Schuler and Schulthess ed. Vol. IV, pp. 79–144. A German edition, translated by Leo Juda and printed by Froschouer in 1531, has the following title:

An den Durchlüchtigesten Fürsten vnd Herren, Herrn Philippen, Landgraff in Hessen, Von der Fürsichtigkeyt Gottes, ein büchlin inn Latin beschribenn durch Meister Huldrich Zwinglin. Vertütschet durch Leo Jud. Matth. XI. At the end, on p. 221: Getruckt zu Zürich by Christoffel Froschouer. M. D. XXXI. 224 unnumbered octavo pages. Finsler, Zwingli Bibliographie, Nos. 94 and 95.

The following English translation is based on one by Mr. Henry Preble. It was revised throughout by the editor.

The work of Zwingli “On the Providence of God” is a free reproduction from memory of a sermon, delivered by Zwingli at Marburg during the Marburg Colloquy, October 1–4, 1529. As rewritten by Zwingli the sermon has become a philosophical treatise. In his philosophy he follows principally Aristotle and the Stoics. The doctrine of God, starting from the conception of the Highest Being, is developed into a cosmological argument for the Being of God. Upon this basis the discussion of the Divine Providence proceeds, culminating in the question of Divine Predestination. It is the most abstruse as well as the most penetrating Latin work of Zwingli.

Even now it is a delightful read.

The Best Introduction To Bultmann

9781619708136oDecades ago Morris Ashcraft wrote the definitive exposition of the theology of Rudolf Bultmann.  It also went out of print decades ago and became a classic in the meanwhile.

Hendrickson has, thankfully, republished this masterpiece in paperback and made it once more easily available.

How can modern scientific humanity understand the strange religious language of the Bible? This is one of the questions Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) spent his life answering. As a devout Lutheran committed to the Christian faith, Bultmann’s concern was how to make Christianity intelligible in the twentieth century. His concept of demythologizing was part of his lifelong attempt to help people “hear” the Christian gospel and respond to it authentically. All of this originated out of a genuine pastoral concern to highlight the nature of New Testament faith. As Morris Ashcraft writes, “He stands alongside Karl Barth as a man who changed the direction of theology significantly and perhaps permanently.”

In this book, along with a brief biographical sketch, Morris Ashcraft provides a concise and reliable guide to Bultmann’s system of thought and his continuing influence.

Dean Ashcraft was at Southeastern Seminary while I was there doing an MDiv and a ThM and a finer scholar and Christian you’ve never met.  His book on Bultmann remains the finest of the genre.  Students of the New Testament should all be required to read it.

Bultmann Was A Giant Long Before He Died

Der Spiegel carried this report about the great man and those who were in 1966 protesting him!

RUDOLF BULTMANN ist neben Karl Barth der bedeutendste und zugleich der umstrittenste Theologe der Gegenwart. Die Schüler und Anhänger des 81jährigen Marburger Protestanten vergleichen seine Arbeiten mit denen Luthers, Kants und Kierkegaards, seine Gegner halten ihn für einen “Irrlehrer” und fordern von der evangelischen Kirche, daß sie zum erstenmal in ihrer Geschichte einen ihrer führenden Wissenschaftler verketzert.

Für und wider Bultmann wurden Hunderte von Büchern und Broschüren sowie Tausende von Aufsätzen-geschrieben. In diesem Jahr griff die Auseinandersetzung auch auf die Gemeinde über. Seit im März 1966 in der Dortmunder Westfalenhalle 22 000 “Protestanten an einer Protestkundgebung gegen Bultmann teilgenommen haben, breitet sich in der Bundesrepublik eine “Bekenntnisbewegung” gegen die von dem Marburger Gelehrten geprägte moderne Theologie aus. In Braunschweig unterschrieben Hunderte von Pfarrern eine Resolution, in der etwa 70 angebliche “Irrlehren” Bultmanns verurteilt werden. Bis vor die Synode – das Parlament und höchste Organ der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland – wurde der Streit um Bultmann bereits getragen.

Silly people.  Silly, and silly.  Read the rest of the essay on this, the birth-iversary of the 20th century’s greatest exegete.

The Anniversary of Bultmann’s Birth. Oh Boy!

Here’s the great one himself:


And yes, all the great ones (except Zwingli) were born in August.