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?

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.”

And

“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 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.