Daily Archives: 5 Jul 2018

Twitter Is Where Moronic Pseudo-Theologians Best Demonstrate Their Profound and Abiding Stupidity

‪99% of the theological remarks made on twitter are made by the dumbest most ill informed ignoramuses on the planet. They don’t even know enough to know they don’t know what the hades they’re babbling about. #MoronicDilettantes ‬

The Time Has Come…

For theologians to name liars what they are, and to apply the rod to the backs of the fools.

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools. (Prov 26:4)

It is silence that has allowed things to become what they are in this country.  It is silence in the face of foolishness and more interest in being ‘tolerant’ than denouncing what is false and foolish.  The time for silence has come and gone.

Rick Wiles is a Liar

Rick Wiles: Democrats Will Start Killing Republicans To Prevent Them From Voting In 2020.


“The Democrats are now stalking members of the Trump administration,” Wiles said. “My friends, I’m telling you there is a day coming, perhaps this year, they’re going to shoot members of the Cabinet, they’re going to shoot members of the House and Senate.” “The Democrats have lost their minds, they’ve gone insane,” he added. “We have to put bodyguards around our elected officials to protect them from Democrats? At what point do you charge the Democratic Party with being a terrorist organization?” “They’re willing to do anything and killing is the next thing that they’ll do,” Wiles warned, predicting that just as “the Democrats started the first Civil War to protect slavery, the Democrats will start the second Civil War to protect abortion.”

Liar. Rick Wiles is a liar.  The truth is, the Trumpians will do anything to clutch power.  Lying is just a tiny part of it.  And Rick Wiles is a totally depraved liar.

Supplementation and the Study of the Hebrew Bible

This new volume includes ten original essays that demonstrate clearly how common, varied, and significant the phenomenon of supplementation is in the Hebrew Bible. Essays examine instances of supplementation that function to aid pronunciation, fill in abbreviations, or clarify ambiguous syntax. They also consider more complex additions to and reworkings of particular lyrical, legal, prophetic, or narrative texts. Scholars also examine supplementation by the addition of an introduction, a conclusion, or an introductory and concluding framework to a particular lyrical, legal, prophetic, or narrative text.

You’ll see a review of this in a forthcoming number of SJOT.  It has essays by the superstars Reinhard Kratz, Thomas Römer, Konrad Schmid and Jacob Wright.

Engaging Torah: Modern Perspectives on the Hebrew Bible

You lot may be interested in this new work

In this volume of essays, eminent Jewish scholars from around the world present introductions to the different parts of the Bible for the wider public. The essays encompass a general introduction to the Torah in Jewish life, and include specific essays on each of the Five Books of Moses, as well as on the Haftarot, Neviim, and Ketuvim. The contributions provide an overview of the core content of each book as well as highlight central themes and the reception and relevance of these themes in Jewish life and culture past and present. These essays, informed by and based on the profound academic research of their authors, together provide an invaluable bridge between high-level academic insight and the study of the Bible both in synagogues and in homes.

ISD has sent a review copy.

In this collection of essays (of 117 pages) Panken (who writes the Preface) and Homolka (who authors the Introduction) allow cutting edge scholars to contribute cutting edge scholarship from a strictly Jewish perspective on the Torah and Prophets and Writings and various Jewish texts in addition.  To wit

  • The Torah in Jewish Life from the Nineteenth Century Until Today (Tamara Cohh Eskenazi)
  • Introduction to Genesis (Ziony Zevit)
  • Introduction to Exodus (David Aaron)
  • Introduction to Leviticus (Alan Cooper)
  • Introduction to Numbers (Jacob Wright)
  • Introduction to Deuteronomy (Bernard Levinson)
  • Introduction to the Haftarot (Lawrence Hoffman)
  • Introduction to Nevi’im (Marc Zvi Brettler)
  • Introduction to Ketuvim (Deborah Kahn-Harris)

None of the chapters are very long.  All are quite compact.  All are quite well written.  Eskenazi’s essay is perfect in its presentation of the historical situation of Jewish interpretation of the Bible.  She manages to provide more insight in 11 pages than many scholars manage in a 500 page monograph and her style is simply delightful.  Each of the books of Torah are introduced individually and then the Prophets and the Writings are approached quite broadly.  Overly broadly really, because reading through those chapters one is left with a feeling of ‘being cheated’.  That is, we get such good material we want more!

Each chapter, naturally, could be and has been fully addressed in thousands of volumes but the present work describes its subject with the intention of simply engaging the texts at hand.  That engagement is like a rock skipping along the surface of a lake- just touching the smallest spots and finally sinking out of sight with the great bulk of the lake left undisturbed.

And this is the point at which I think it’s worth saying that Christian exegetes and interpreters should make reading this volume a priority.  We are so used to reading Torah and Prophets and Writings with a pair of Christian glasses on our noses that it is, literally, imperative that we take them off and read these Jewish texts through Jewish lenses.  There is so much to learn by doing so.  Indeed, it’s past time for post Reformation Christians to distance themselves from Luther and his notion that the Old Testament is all about Christ and learn to understand the Hebrew Bible on its own terms, without our eisegesis and christocentric misreadings getting in the way.

This is a book by Jewish scholars, published by a Jewish publisher, that needs to be picked up and read by Christians.  I don’t know that the editors, authors, and publisher had a Christian audience in mind.  I rather, frankly, doubt it.  But this is a book ‘for’ Christians and Christians, again, should read it.

Do People Have Guardian Angels?

In a word, no.

The view that there are special guardian angels for individual persons, places or callings is contested almost by all dogmaticians (after Calvin’s precedent) as a Popish heresy.

Calvin says (I, xiv, 7): “Whether separate angels are posted to individual believers for their protection I should not dare to affirm as a certainty.—What is certain is that not merely is each of us in the care of one angel, but that the whole body of them with one accord watch over our salvation. It is said of all the angels together, that they rejoice more over one sinner turned to repentance, than over ninety and nine righteous persons who persist in their righteousness, Lk. 15:7. It is also said of many angels, that they bore the soul of Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom, Lk. 16:22.”

—Accordingly Riissen (VII, 34) gives to the question: “Whether any man has his own particular guardian angel, or even one good, another bad” the answer that “it is denied against the Papists”.

Of course individual doctors represented the opposite view, e.g. Bucan (VI, 28) who teaches: “That as a rule to each elect person a certain particular good angel is appointed by God to guard him, may be gathered from Christ’s words, Mt. 18:10, where it is said ‘Their angels do continually behold the face of my Father.’ Also from Ac. 12:15 where the believers who had assembled in Mark’s house said of Peter knocking at the door, ‘It is his angel.’ These believers were speaking according to the opinion received among the people of God.”

—But it was only now and again that belief in guardian angels was represented in the Reformed Church. This is Voetius’ account (I, 900): “There are some of ours who putting their co-religionists in the second place admit as a probable opinion that a good angel guards individual men, or is at least assigned to believers, among whom Zanchius De oper. creat. lib. 3 c.13. And recently the view has been specifically defended by Alsted in the supplement to Chamier’s De eccles. lib. 5 c. 7. Most recently also Vossius pretty plainly indicates his inclination towards this view, lib. 1. De idolol. c. 7. In his notes on Matt. 18:10 (see that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven) Grotius seems to stand for this opinion: ultimately however, he put it aside or left it undecided. Both of them seem to be moved to some extent by patristic authority.

We, however, embrace the view of Calvin (in Instit. lib. I cap. 14, 7 and comm. in Ps. 91 and in Mt. 18) and of other Reformed, who reject the view in question as vain and curious, and we think that something has stuck here to the early Fathers from the Platonic philosophy and the mythological theology of the Gentiles.”

—Mastricht (III, vii, 31) gives an account of the view later prevalent in the Church: “The Reformed believe that the angels as a whole minister to the salvation of the elect, because Scripture attests this, Heb. 1:14 (Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?), Ps. 34:7 (The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him), Ps. 91:11 (He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways) compared with Mt. 4:6, Lk. 15:10 (joy over one sinner that repenteth) 16:22 (angels took Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom).

But they cannot believe with divine faith in single angels appointed to single tasks, spheres, men, because (1) Scripture nowhere says so, nor can it be made known to us from any other source; in fact (2) it rather says the opposite, when it at times assigns several angels to one as well as one angel to several, Gen. 28:12 (Jacob’s ladder) 32:12 (angels who met Jacob at Mahanaim) Ps. 34:7 (The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them) 2 K. 6:16–17 (the chariots and the horsemen of Elisha) Lk. 16:22 (Lazarus); because (3) it paves the way for ἀγγελοθρησκεία; because (4) it means collusion with Gentiles, Moslems, Jews.”

– Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics.

The Wright Leading the Wrightians

Art by Peter Bruegel the Elder-

The Union Seminary Statement on Christian Nationalism

Though this sinful confluence is particularly pronounced today, the truth is that broad swathes of American Christianity have united worship of God and empire. While extreme patriotism is already idolotrous, many Christians take spiritual allegiance even further. This is quite vivid in churches that proudly display the American flag in their sanctuary, flying high over Bibles and baptismal fonts. Some even recite the pledge of allegiance during worship, swearing fealty to country in a place that ought to be reserved for the divine. However, Christian nationalism runs far deeper than just these overt displays of patriotic fervor. It’s found in theology that declares the United States uniquely blessed by God, in the invocation of Romans 13 to sanctify state crimes, or talk of our “Christian nation.”

All of this isn’t just empty theology, it’s a fundamental perversion of the faith started by a man executed by the state for condemning its abuses, and for decrying the complicity of religious authorities who allied themselves to political power instead of God’s justice. Indeed, Jesus would have much to say watching white evangelical leaders praying over a President who tears immigrant children from their parents, and it would not words of praise and accolade. When Christians declare fealty to empire, we forget that our first and only calling is to be faithful to God. Then, when empire abuses people on the margins—the community Jesus was born into and people who Jesus loved—the costs of this devilish discipleship become clear.

Jesus promises we will know false prophets by their fruits and, in the case of Christian nationalism, the fruits are all-too-painfully apparent. Perhaps the darkest chapter in Christian nationalism is the shameful capitulation of most of the Church in Nazi Germany, but history is rife with examples of invoking God to justify atrocity. Slavery, apartheid, eugenics, segregation, and countless wars have all been defended in God’s name by Christians so blindly loyal to their nation that they spat upon God’s commandments.

Today, Christian nationalists have become some of the staunchest defenders of our President’s patently un-Christian oppression—abusing and dehumanizing immigrants, demonizing Muslims, and openly supporting white supremacist policy. It’s time for all Christians who still worship God, not country, to stand up and decry these crimes in God’s own name—to call out those who pervert Jesus’ ministry by using him to bless a regime that desecrates everything Christ stands for.

I concur.  Via Union Seminary’s twitter @unionseminary

This is Your Brain on Drugs

‘No, Sorry, I Can’t Come to Your Wedding’…

If Pastors used the same excuses as Church members do when they ‘can’t make it to worship’ here’s what they’d say when they were asked to do weddings or funerals:

  • I have company coming over.
  • We got a new puppy.
  • I’m going to a fireworks show.
  • I’ll be at the lake.
  • We’re on vacation for the Summer.
  • The kid isn’t feeling well so we’re all staying home to take care of him.
  • I just have so much to do.
  • I need some alone time.
  • I did a funeral last year.  Isn’t once a year enough?
  • The alarm didn’t go off.
  • It was raining too hard.
  • It was too hot.
  • It was too cold.
  • It was snowing.
  • I forgot all about it!
  • I didn’t like what you said last week.
  • All that stuff is extra-curricular activity.
  • There was a game on that I just had to watch.

But, of course, Pastors aren’t as willing to lie so they will do what’s best instead of what they want.

Hypocrites and Their Filth

Hypocrites will willingly endure that we praise what is good and right, provided that they be at liberty to crouch amidst their filth. – John Calvin

Zwingli’s Understanding of Predestination

Quote of the Day

«Genauso ziehen auch die Monopolisten nach und nach alles an sich, und wird ihnen das Wasser nicht abgegraben, so werdet auch ihr mit euren Untertanen ihr Eigentum.» — Zwingli, Wer Ursache zum Aufruhr gibt, 1524