SBL Southeast Call For Papers Deadline Looms

A reminder that October 15, 2017, is the deadline for submitting paper proposals for the 2018 SECSOR meeting. The call for papers is available on the SECOSR website at secsor.org. Proposals are to be submitted through the online submission form available on the website.

The meeting will be held March 2–4, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center. Meeting and hotel registration will be available no later than January 1, 2018.

Faculty, please also encourage undergraduate students to submit papers to the SECSOR Undergraduate Research section (the deadline for this section ONLY is December 15). An Undergraduate Paper Prize will be awarded. Undergraduates are welcome to submit proposals to other sections by October 15. Also, encourage graduate students to submit proposals by October 15; prizes are awarded for the best graduate student papers in AAR/SE and SBL/SE.

Sandra Hack Polaski
Executive Director, SECSOR
ED@secsor.org

Martin Luther: On Certain People Who Shall Remain Nameless (i.e., the US Congress)

lutherYou are such an accursed, ungrateful wretch that you will not give a child into training for the maintenance of the gifts of God. You have everything, all of it free of charge; yet you show not a particle of gratitude. Instead you let God’s kingdom and the salvation of people’s souls go to ruin; you even help to destroy them.

Ought not God to be angry over this? Ought not famine to come? Ought not pestilence, flu, and syphilis find us out? Ought not blind, fierce, and savage tyrants come to power? Ought not war and contention arise? Ought not evil regimes appear in our lands? Ought not our enemies plunder us?

Indeed, it would not be surprising if God were to open the doors and windows of hell and pelt and shower us with nothing but devils, or let brimstone and hell-fire rain down from heaven and inundate us one and all in the abyss of hell, like Sodom and Gomorrah.  —  Martin Luther

Moltmann’s Error and His Irrelevance

Moltmann, as everyone knows, makes a lot of the fact that Jesus suffers and thus suffers along with us when we suffer.  Moltmann – in fact – puts all his eggs in the suffering basket.  But he does something that is irrational with that basket: he asserts that because Jesus suffered we can feel better about our own suffering.

Boiled down to its essentials, Moltmann’s argument is

  • Jesus suffered
  • You suffer
  • You have a partner in suffering
  • This should make you feel better

In fact, however, it is an absurd argument.  How is the suffering of Jesus supposed to make those who suffer feel better?  Is Moltmann arguing that ‘misery loves company’?  How is that any sort of consolation?

No, the fact that Jesus suffers is in and of itself completely unhelpful.  That he suffers to the point that he dies, for our sins, in our place: that, and that alone, is comforting.  If I am on the rack and the fellow next to me is on the rack, and our bodies are being stretched until all our joints are dislocated and eventually ripped apart, the suffering of the fellow on the rack next to me does nothing for me.  But if the fellow pushes me out of the way and takes my place on the rack, and sets me free, then his suffering means everything to me and any suffering I may endure afterwards is paltry and meaningless.

What Moltmann lacks is a doctrine of redemption, which he foolishly and ignorantly replaces with a doctrine of universal salvation.  His ‘Jesus suffers with us’ is equally ignorant and foolish.  The proper term is ‘for’, not ‘with’.

Moltmann’s entire theological system is built upon a fraud: the notion that we are made to feel better by the fact that someone understands our suffering.  But what Moltmann doesn’t know, or isn’t willing to say is ‘the suffering of another, as suffering alone, does nothing for me’.

Moltmann and those of like mind who wish to construct a theological system on their personal feelings are simple modern versions of ancient Gnostics.  Moltmannianism is Gnosticism and his ‘god’ is a shadow, a farce, an image projected on the wall of the cave on his own imagination.  And so for Christians, his perspective is irrelevant.

Jesus either died ‘for’ us or his death is meaningless to us.  And there’s simply no way to avoid this fact and still be considered in any sense a Christian.

Martin Luther als Praktischer Theologe

How relevant is Martin Luther for today’s Practical Theology? Since the so-called empirical turn in the early 1970s, Practical Theology rarely picked up historical issues – and if it did so, most likely with regard to sermon and pastoral care. In the light of the Reformation Jubilee, the idea to search for impulses of Martin Luther for current practical-theological discourses was fairly obvious.

This book comprises articles, which trace back to two interdisciplinary research conferences, that took place in the Leucorea in Lutherstadt Wittenberg in 2015 and 2016 and were sponsored by the WGTh (Academic Society of Theology), the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany) and the Evangelical-Lutheran Churches of Central Germany and Saxony. The first conference dealt with essential questions such as whether it’s possible and meaningful at all to inquire for practical-theological impulses of Martin Luther for the present, although Practical Theology as an academic discipline was only established in the early 19th century by Friedrich Schleiermacher.

The goodly publisher has provided a review copy.

The aim of the volume is to illustrate the usefulness of Luther for modern practical theology.  Nine segments make up the volume, with essays by leading theologians and other scholars for each.  These nine segments are

  1. Martin Luther as Practical Theologian
  2. Worship
  3. Preaching
  4. Hymnology and Music
  5. Care of Souls
  6. Edification
  7. Catechesis
  8. Pastoral Theology
  9. Spirituality

These major divisions offer readers important insights into Luther’s thought in modern application.  Luther is the fountainhead from which streams an approach to worship, preaching, music, edification, catechesis, and all the rest.  Thirty four essays in all.

Each of the contributions provide voluminous material from Luther and draws the connection between Luther’s day and ours.  In sum, Luther is still relevant as a source for modern practice on a substantial theological foundation.

This doesn’t mean that Luther is beyond criticism.  When necessary, our essayists not only show the ongoing contribution of Luther’s views but critique him when he falls short.

The greatest contribution the volume makes, though, is the dialogue created when the voices of Luther, theologians, church historians, and pastors are all heard on equal footing.  Luther’s voice isn’t the most important- it is one of many- and is understood as such.  Luther here is not exalted- he is approached as a real dialogue partner.  The ensuing discussion is one of the most engaging collection of theologically oriented essays about matters of practical theology produced in many a year.

Pastors especially and those responsible for the life of the community of faith will learn much from this collection.  It is superb.

Fun Facts From Church History: Bullinger and Denmark

783000Heinrich Bullinger was very interested in persuading the Danes that the Swiss Reformation was worth considering (rather than the Lutheran) and he wrote De gratia Dei justificante nos propter Christum per solam fidem absque operibus bonis, fide interim exuberante in opera bona, libri IV. ad sereniss. Daniæ regem Christianum to prove it.

It is such a well written book that none less than Philip Melanchthon thought very highly of it!

Nevertheless, the Danish Reformation, led by Hans Tausen, was and remained essentially Lutheran (which explains why Danes are not as Reformed as they should be…)

The Personal Luther: Essays on the Reformer from a Cultural Historical Perspective

Overwhelmingly, Martin Luther has been treated as the generator of ideas concerning the relationship between God and humankind. The Personal Luther deliberately departs from that church-historiographic tradition. Luther was a voluble and irrepressible divine. Even though he had multiple ancillary interests, such as singing, playing the lute, appreciating the complexities of nature, and observing his children, his preoccupation was, as he quickly saw it, bringing the Word of God to the people.

This book is not about Luther’s theology except insofar as any ideational construct is itself an expression of the thinker who frames it. Luther frequently couched his affective utterances within a theological framework. Nor is it a biography; it does not portray a whole life. Rather, it concentrates on several heretofore neglected aspects of the Reformer’s existence and personality.

The subjects that appear in this book are meant to demonstrate what such core-taking on a range of mainly unexplored facets of the Reformer’s personality and experience can yield. It will open the way for other secular researchers to explore the seemingly endless interests of this complicated individual. It will also show that perspectives of cultural historians offer the broadest possible evidentiary base within which to analyze a figure of the past.

From Brill.

Fun Facts From Church History: Luther, on the Quran

In 1542 Luther published Brother Richard’s Refutation of the Koran, Translated into German by Dr. M. Luther (Widerlegung des Alkoran Bruder Richardi; verdeutscht dutch Dr. M. Luther) (WA 53, [261] 271–396).

In the preface Luther expressed amazement that the Koran had not been translated into Latin. He went on to say that as recently as Shrove Tuesday 1542 he had seen such a translation for the first time, but that it was a very poor one.

Later that year a new Latin version was published in Basel, but it was banned by the magistrate. Luther urged the lifting of this ban. Cf. Köstlin, Martin Luther, II, 603. — Luther’s Works, vol. 46: The Christian in Society III.

Neat huh!  I would wager most folk wouldn’t even imagine that Luther thought a Latin version of the Quran something desirable, but he did.

Happy Birthday Lucas Cranach (Jr)

Lucas Cranach the Younger was born on October 4, 1515 in Wittenberg, Germany, to Lucas and Barbara Cranach. He grew up and trained in his father’s workshop where he became an accomplished artist in his own right. When his father died, he took over control of the famous artist’s workshop and continued in his famous style.

Shown is probably the most famous portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Younger and is from 1554.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux for Katie Luther

cranach luther

Huldrych Zwingli and his Little Brother, James

We have but one letter from H Z to J Z, as Zwingli’s biographer informs us:

Zwingli sent James to Vadian’s care with this letter of introduction, dated Glarus, October 4, 1512 (vii., 7), and accompanied it with an historical sketch of the 1512 Italian campaign of the Glarus contingent in the papal army.

“The bearer of this is my own brother, a boy of good promise; when I thought over to whom to send him to be initiated into the sacred mysteries of philosophy, you always occurred to me. Therefore, I beseech you by the sweetness of our friendship that you polish, smooth, and finish him with plane, axe, and rake. I am sure you will find him most obedient. But if he dare to be disobedient, shut him up without compassion until his petulance effervesces. He has 50 gold pieces for the two years, so that he will need to be economical.”

That James considered his allowance altogether too small is shown by this letter, the only one of his preserved (vii., 7):

“Brother James Zwingli to Huldreich Zwingli, philosopher and rector at Glarus. Greeting: Would that the All swaying and supremely Good God would so bring it about that you might estimate my studies as highly as I do your liberality and brotherly kindness! And I do not despair of this; for I can be advanced so much by your example and exhortations (not to leave room for which would be degeneracy), also by Master Joachim Vadianus, whose pupil I now am; I am nourished by the flowers and rivulets of all the sciences, from which it would be a crime for those ignorant of philosophy to withdraw. Therefore, let me not be defiled by this wrong or that; doubt not that I will strive with perennial energy. Yet one anxiety is left; I cannot live for two years upon the 50 gold pieces allowed me. I do not complain of this, by Mars, because I am given to high living. By Hercules’ I live pretty roughly. I live upon the food carried away from the dinner table; I am compelled to drink water which can be made by no benediction to lose its original bad taste. In accordance with the warning of Joachim, let 50 gold pieces be added to the 15 I received, and this you would assent to if you knew the circumstances. When I reached Vienna, only 11 remained, so expensive was the journey, and of them I spent 7 for books and then bought a bed. Assuredly money slipped so quickly out of my hands that there is hardly a penny left. Then there are 19 florins to be paid the procurator for food and 5 yearly to Joachim, so that unless I can look for 30 gold pieces a year study cannot be carried on. Therefore, my brother, on your side take things in good part, and make your ears gracious to my appeal, and I will on my part always respect your wishes.

“Concerning my studies I cannot write more, as I have hardly tasted them. I gain very little from the reading of Pliny as I lack a copy. I hear with the greatest attention lectures on Lactantius’s De Opificium and the rest from [John] Camertes [professor of theology], the most learned man in Vienna at this time. I hear the Letters of Cicero by our Joachim and the text of the Sentences [of Peter Lombard] from a certain Father, a bachelor of letters. I study, unwillingly though, the Dialectics, and I hear this, that, and the other, which it is not necessary to speak of. Though it will be seen how far I shall profit by any particular course when I have put the finishing touch to it. So much for this.

“As to the money, do your part that what is coming to me may be handed to Francis Zili, citizen of St. Gall, grandfather of Valentine Tschudi, so that it may reach me by March 23d. I have written the same thing to the abbot [probably that of St. John’s], and by command of my instructor I have asked father for a good new coat. So see to it they get their letters as soon as possible, so that all may be done at an early date. Have them read through this one’s letter to the dekan [of Wesen, Bartholomew Zwingli, James’s uncle] as soon as possible. I and the writer of this [i. e., Valentine] are in one boat. Urge Valentine’s relatives to be liberal, for though they are rich they are very frugal.

“If there is any news let me have it. Not far from us a doubtful conflict has been fought between the Hungarians and the Turks, and this terrifies the Austrians. Do not be angry at this unpolished letter. Farewell! The good fortune of Metellus and the years of Nestor be yours. Greet our respected John, Dr. Gregory [pastor] of Swandon, my comrade Fridolin, and my sister [of Glarus].

“Vienna, at the house of Saint Jerome, January 23, 1513.”

When James went to Vienna he was already a monk, (see above), and so his matriculation entry in the winter semester of 1512 reads: Fr[ater] Jacobus Zwinglin professus ad s. Joannem prope.

We know nothing of what became of James Zwingli.  We do know that it was a scant 3 years later, at the Battle of Marignano, that Zwingli had implanted in his soul the urge of Reform.

Your Cravenly Servile Congress

  • Americans killed on 9/11: 2,996
  • Days it took Congress to authorize war:3
  • Americans killed by guns in 2017: 11,652
  • Days in 2017 so far:275 – Kal Penn

That’s because your servile Congress is beholden to the NRA, and does its bidding and not yours.