Highpoint Church Dishonors God

A Memphis megachurch gave a standing ovation to a pastor after he admitted to sexually assaulting a teenage girl just days before he conducted a workshop promoting abstinence.

Andy Savage apologized Sunday to his congregation Highpoint Church, after news reports revealed the woman’s allegations against the pastor — who has admitted they’re true.

The woman said she was 17 years old and a high school senior when she met Savage, who was then in college and working as a staffer at a Texas Baptist church now known as StoneBridge.

She told the Wartbridge Watch website that Savage drove her 20 years ago to a remote area, where he forced her to give him oral sex, fondled her and then jumped out of the vehicle, fell to his knees and begged forgiveness.

The woman said the incident caused lasting psychological harm, and she has recently filed a police report about the incident.

A standing ovation for a man who used his authority to coerce a teenage girl into sexual activity… and they think they are doing the right thing?  Preposterous.  This ‘church’ dishonors God and worships at the altar of the cult of personality.  It’s absolutely disgraceful.  They have made a molester into a hero.

Unfit for Office

Any Pastor fit for office is a biblical scholar and theologian, not a businessman and entrepreneur.  The Body of Christ isn’t a business opportunity and if you believe, even momentarily, that it is, you are unfit to serve it.  If you lack biblical and theological understanding (gained by the discipline of study), then no matter who you are or what you say, you are unfit for office.

σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ, ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας. (2 Tim. 2:15)

The Defective Edition of the Bible that Fails to Mention America…

After receiving a new leather NIV Study Bible for Christmas, local man Christopher Neil was excited to crack it open Tuesday morning and check out all the helpful resources included to assist him in his Bible study.

But Neil was perplexed to discover the Bible didn’t mention America a single time.

The atlas section at the back of the Sciptures did not include a map of the United States. The man carefully looked through all sixteen printed maps, including depictions of Israel in various time periods, the entire ancient Near East, and the Mediterranean Sea, but couldn’t find a single map of the United States.

“I assume there was an error at the printers,” Neil said as he filled out a complaint form on Zondervan’s website to try to get the Bible exchanged for one that included America in its appendices and references. “These kinds of things happen sometimes. I even ordered a commentary on the book of Revelation once that didn’t reference the United States at all. What gives?”

Neil’s issues with the printing of the Bible didn’t stop with just the glaring omission of the map of the United States. The Bible included weights and measurements from the ancient world, but not a single mention of U.S. dollars, and the translators failed to replace the word “Israel” with “United States” or “America” throughout the biblical text.

“They didn’t even include the obvious interpretation of the promises of God as being for America in the footnotes,” the clearly disheartened man told reporters. “That’s a bare minimum, as far as I’m concerned.”

Neil flipped through all the gospels and couldn’t even find a single time that Jesus voted for a Republican or promised to bless America, according to sources.

“Get your act together, publishers,” he said.

It’s funny because you know there’s someone out there who actually thinks the Bible DOES mention America…  Oh, and by the way, it’s not the Bible that’s defective, it’s too much ‘Evangelical’ ‘theology’.  (Indeed, that phrase itself, ‘evangelical’ ‘theology’ has become an oxymoron).

Quote of the Day

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that`by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’. “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matt. 18:15-17)

Reformation of Prayerbooks: The Humanist Transformation of Early Modern Piety in Germany and England

In her study Chaoluan Kao offers a comprehensive investigation of popular piety at the time of the European Reformations through the study of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestant prayerbooks. It pursues a historical-contextual approach to spirituality by integrating social and religious history in order to yield a deeper understanding of both the history of Christian piety and of church history in general. The study explores seven prayerbooks by German authors and seventeen English prayerbooks from the Reformation and post-Reformation as well as from Lutheran, Anglican, and Puritan traditions, examining them as spiritual texts with social and theological significance that helped disseminate popular understandings of Protestant piety. Early Protestant piety required intellectual engagement, emphasized a faithful and heartfelt attitude in approaching God, and urged regular exercise in prayer and reading. Early Protestant prayerbooks modeled for their readers a Protestant piety that was a fervent spiritual practice solidly grounded in the social context and connections of its practitioners. Through those books, Reformation could be understood as redefining the meanings of people’s spiritual lives and re-discovering of a pious life. In a broader sense, they functioned as a channel of historical and spiritual transition, which not only tells us the transformation and transmission of Reformation historically but also signifies the development of Christian spirituality. The social-historical study of the prayerbooks furthers our understanding of continuity, change, and inter-confessional influence in the Christian piety of early modern Europe.

V&R have provided a review copy.

The volume contains a series of examinations of various English and German prayer books.  The purpose of the volume, then, is quite straightforward: to investigate the form and purpose of these kinds of texts in their 16th and 17th century contexts.  Along those lines, the author writes

… the study will mainly explore seventeen English texts from Anglican, early Puritan groups in addition to seven German texts from the Lutheran group for consulting or for reference.

In the course of the work, which is carefully written, we learn the following:

In the seventeenth century, German prayerbooks slightly changed their focus and methods of expression to better sustain their readers’ spiritual growth.

And

The first women’s writing for female readers can be found in Prayers or Meditations, a text published under the name of Queen Katherine Parr (1512– 1548) and was printed by Thomas Bertheletin in Londonon June 2, 1545.

This latter fact is one of many interesting snippets which bring to our awareness the fact that both women and children were not only engaged by prayerbooks but in the case of women, were instrumental in their composition.  The old notion that the Reformation was man’s work is debunked thoroughly not just here but in much recent Reformation scholarship.

Prayerbooks served another purpose besides enabling piety: they also served as doctrinal instruction:

In addition, since the Protestant reformers believed that wrong doctrines of prayer led to wrong exercises and directed people to wrong practices, their prayerbooks emphasized the importance of correct doctrine.

But according to the author, the most important aspect of the new prayerbooks was the fact that…

… early Protestant prayerbooks moved people’s prayer schedule from the traditional seven or eight times a day to a more flexible pattern.

In all, the book is seriously significant and provides really important insights into the practices of the earliest generations of Protestants and Reformed.

It does, however, have one minor issue which I wish had been noticed at some point in the editorial process: it lacks a native English speaker’s eye.  For instance, in several places where the definite article is needed, it is absent.  And grammatical oversights like this one are not overly common, but they do occur:

Although Luther and Calvin kept a slight different concept of private confession,
they did open up a way for self-examination to their followers.

A native speaker will notice right away that ‘slight’ should be ‘slightly’ and ‘kept’ is rather odd sounding and should probably be replaced with ‘held’.  Non-native readers will probably not find the sentence as it stands odd or unusual, but native speakers will.

This isn’t meant as an overt criticism; rather, it should be understood as a constructive comment- i.e., something to keep in mind in future volumes.

The volume’s table of contents and other front matter along with samples are available here.  For that reason, the TOC is not reduplicated here.  Interested readers of this review are encouraged to check there for the minute details of the work.

I enjoyed this book.  And I learned from it.  Accordingly, I’m quite comfortable with recommending it to you.

Summer Course at the University of Geneva

Ce cours-séminaire intensif, qui s’étale sur cinq jours entiers, s’adresse en priorité aux doctorant-e-s, de Suisse comme de l’étranger, mais il est également ouvert aux post-doctorant-e-s ainsi qu’aux étudiant-e-s de master dès la 2e année. Il peut être intégré dans le module de master IHR, à la place d’un séminaire semestriel. En 2018, il se tiendra du lundi 4 au vendredi 8 juin. L’enseignement sera donné par par Maria-Cristina Pitassi et Daniela Solfaroli Camillocci, avec la collaboration de Christian Grosse (Lausanne). Le thème traité sera:

Construire la foi, confesser sa foi.
Production et critiques de la norme religieuse en milieu réformé
XVIe-XVIIIe siècles

Pour plus de détails sur ce cours en tant qu’enseignement intégré dans le cadre du module de master – en particulier concernant les crédits, voir les règlements respectifs de la Faculté de Théologie, du Département d’histoire générale et de l’Unité d’his­toire des religions.

Via.  Now I just need a wealthy benefactor to make it happen for me.  Bill Gates?

Paula White is a Heretic, and You’re a Fool if You Believe Her

Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser has suggested that people send her money in order to transform their lives, or face divine consequences.

Paula White, who heads up the president’s evangelical advisory committee, suggested making a donation to her ministries to honor the religious principle of “first fruit,” which she said is the idea that all firsts belong to God, including the first harvest and, apparently, the first month of your salary.

“Right now I want you to click on that button, and I want you to honor God with his first fruits offering,” she said in a video shared to her website, in which she encourages her followers to donate to her ministries to get blessings from God.

“If God doesn’t divinely step in and intervene, I don’t know what you’re going to face—he does,” she said.

She’s a heretic, pure and simple.  And if you listen to her, and send her as much as a penny, you’re a fool.

Another Book I’ve Never Heard Of…

And apparently I don’t want to…  Via the twitter-

Bethany House and Baker Publishing Group have cancelled publication of the Andy Savage book The Ridiculously Good Marriage. It may remain on various retail web sites for a short time until those sites update.

I’ve never heard of this character so I looked him up and he’s an admitted  sexual predator / mega-church ‘pastor’.  Figures…

Quote of the Day

zw934Hierumb, gnädige wyse herren, wellend mich umb gotzwillen vor gantzer gemeind verantwurt haben und, hatt es fuog, ouch disen brief vor gantzer gemeind vorlesen lassen; dann ich by gott, der üns alle erlöst hatt, sag, das ir mir uss miner sorg und angst in disen gevarlichen zyten nimmer kumend; und wo ich úch für andre yenen gedienen könd, wölt ich mich nit sparen. – Huldrych Zwingli (Z VIII, 523-524)

Once Again, Remembering Emil Egli on the Anniversary of his Birth

egliYou’ve probably never heard of him (unless you’re a long time reader of the blog here), but Emil Egli was a brilliant historian.  Born on the 9th of December, 1848, he

… was a Swiss church historian. He studied theology, was ordained in 1870, and served in several villages of the canton of Zürich. In his student days he was deeply interested in historical studies. In 1873 appeared his important work, Die Schlacht bei Cappell 1531; in 1879, Die Züricher Wiedertäufer zur Reformationszeit, a brief product of his Aktensammlung zur Geschichte der Züricher Reformation in den Jahren 1519-1532, which he published (1879) with the support of Zürich and offers an uncommonly rich source on the early history of the Anabaptist movement. In 1887 followed a smaller volume, Die St. Galler Täufer.

And

Egli occupied himself principally with the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1879 he began his work at the university of Zürich as lecturer in church history, and in 1892 he was made a full professor. In addition to a series of shorter works he published Heinrich Bullingers Diarium des Jahres 1504-1574 in the second volume of the Quellen zur schweizerischen Reformationsgeschichte, which he founded. After 1897 he published a semiannual periodical, Zwingliana, and after 1899 two volumes of Analecta Reformatorica (documents and treatises on the history of Zwingli and his times; also biographies of Bibliander, Ceporin, Johannes Bullinger). In 1902 he provided for a new edition of the Kessler’s Sabbata (a publication of the historical association of St. Gall). With G. Finsler (Basel) he began the publication of the new edition of Zwingli’s works (Zwingli’s Werke, Leipzig, 1905 ff., in Corpus Reformatorum).

He was astonishing.  He is remembered.

How a Pope Refusing to Pay a Debt Angered a Population and Made Reformation Possible

A thousand little details led to the causes of the Reformation in Zurich.  One was Zwingli’s unwillingness to support mercenary service.  Another was the desire of the Council to expand its own authority vis-a-vis Rome.  Still another was the anger of the populace about a payment to the City that Rome never made.  Here are the brief details:

On January 9, 1522, Adrian VI., the Dutch Pope, entered on his office. Known to him was the independent stand taken by Zurich, but shrewdly and kindly, for Adrian was a good man, he wrote to the Zurich authorities a pleasant letter, in which he expressed no blame, but on the contrary promised to pay the debt the papal treasury owed Zurich, when in funds. Well were it if it had been, for the money was not forthcoming, and the fact embittered the people against the papacy.

Would Zurich have broken completely with Rome if Adrian had paid?  Would the city have supported Zwingli?  It’s hard to say.  It is, though, important to remember that nothing ever happens because of one simple reason.  Not even Reformation.