A Sweet Burn of Lutherans by the Papists

Sweeeeet burn!

Protestants from across the globe flocked to Wittenberg, Germany Tuesday to venerate a statue of Martin Luther in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Many in the Lutheran and Lutheran-leaning community including pastor of Torrential Downpour Church Morgan Kremin attended ceremonies that started with a morning veneration of the statue of Martin Luther located near All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg and concluded with a collection to help fund the building of several new mega-churches.

“Could the money have gone to the poor–yes,” Kremin admitted to EOTT. “But it’s important that we build these churches so that everyone, be they rich or poor, can come to worship the Lord, even though praying to Jesus is no different in a large church than it is in a home, or even though we know that, for the most part, the homeless don’t actually ever come to our church, and that asking our people, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet, to spend their hard-earned income on exorbitant churches is one of the issues we had with the Catholic Church during the Reformation. But the fact remains that building large things and paying for ridiculous salaries cost money. There’s no way around it.”

Kremin went on to clarify, saying that it wasn’t at all like the selling of indulgences since the selling of indulgences meant that people were essentially paying for their salvation, while what Kremin was saying was that being a true Christian and therefore being saved is contingent on Christian’s paying for such expenditures.

“Totally different.”

It’s Taxpayers Who Got Ripped Off For Those Ridiculous Fake Dead Sea Scrolls

Which, to be blunt, if the Museum of the Bible had let ANYONE with one good eye look at before they bought them, could have learned they were dicey at best.  But no, instead the Museum bought them with what turns out to be taxpayer money, for three times the rate.

Some may celebrate the latest news as a vindication of their criticisms of MOTB or Hobby Lobby. But, as with the prior series of scandals with which they’ve been involved — the forfeiture of thousands of cuneiform tablets and other artifacts smuggled into the countrythe issuing of fake receipts for purchases along with tax evasion and money laundering; or the funding of an archaeological excavation in the West Bank in violation of international law — this is not really a loss for MOTB.

Considering how the story has been told to date, it is a PR coup. More than that: based on the Greens’ 3:1 model for purchase and donation, and exorbitant purchase prices for the post-2002 Dead Sea Scroll fragments (tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each), they have likely made millions of dollars in profit just from their “altruistic” donation of these 16 fragments. Given that this profit consists of public funds (in the form of tax breaks), the real losers, in this case, are us.

So, to all the scholars and publications (and you know who you are) who aided and abetted the MOTB in the fraud by stirring to a fevered pitch the Scroll craze for your own financial gain, shame on you.

Coming Soon to a University in Illinois…

RELS 666: The Majestic Zwingli. 3 credits. Prof. J. West. 

A close look at the erudition, sanctity, wit and wisdom of Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), the last of the Reformers in alphabetical terms. Readings from the Commentary on True (Mine) and False (their) Religion, Scripture is Clear and Distinct as far as I’m Concerned, The True Meaning of “Is,” and other works. Requirements: translations from Latin and whatever that other language is, 2-hour exams each week, and response papers on the professor’s interminable sermons. Prerequisites: familiarity with Jerome and despair over salvation.

Course designer – Ralph Keen

And!

RELS 1497 Melanchthon for Fun and Profit. 3 credits. Instructor: Keen.

The surest sign of the collapse of civilization is the current obscurity of Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560), the most erudite and lucid theologian since the death of Augustine. In this course we will read all three editions of the Loci Communes (comparing the Latin and German versions of each) and astrological works that are useful for discerning auspicious times. Requirements: delivering an oration on the importance of reading Homer in a time of crisis and composing Greek epigrams on the problems of the day. For classics majors only; the rest of you are barbarians.

Ursula: Kinoaufführung in Verbund mit der Ausstellung “Schatten der Reformation”

In den Wirren der Zürcher Reformation verlieben sich Ursula und der Bauernsohn und Söldner Hansli. Ursula hat sich den Täufern angeschlossen – dem «linken» Flügel der Reformation. Diese fordern unter anderem Glaubensfreiheit und die Trennung von Kirche und Staat. Das Sakrament der Ehe lehnen sie ab. Hansli hingegen begeistert sich für die Lehren Huldrych Zwinglis. Erst auf dem Schlachtfeld von Kappel finden die beiden ihr gemeinsames Glück.

Die Verfilmung von Gottfried Kellers Novelle – am Bettagssonntag 1978 ausgestrahlt – wurde wegen ihren zum Teil drastischen Bildern, aber auch wegen ihrer kontroversen Darstellung von Zwingli und den Täufern zum Fernsehskandal.

Etc.

‘Reformation Day’? Nope. ‘Reformations Days’? Yup.

‘Reformation Day’  Nope!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

Happy Reformation Day!

Or as I like to call it- Second Reformation Day Initiated by the Third Reformer, Luther, Who Wasn’t the First Reformer (That Was Zwingli, Already in 1515) or the Brightest Reformer (That Was Calvin).  But that’s an awfully long title and it hasn’t really caught on.  Though in order to be historically accurate, it should.

At any rate- Happy Day to all those children of the Reformers!

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The History and Meaning of ‘Evangelical’

The earliest usage of the term ‘evangelische’ was used by Luther’s opponents the Roman Catholics to denounce his rather un-Catholic understanding of salvation (justification).  These ‘Evangelicals’ preached a Gospel centered on the death and resurrection of Christ by which they asserted that a relationship with God was made possible.

As time progressed the word ‘Evangelical’ came to be used of Christians who were very much like their earlier cousins the Fundamentalists, but with a glossier exterior and flashier church services.  These ‘Evangelicals’ were theologically conservative and accepted various teachings of fundamentalism; without being tied to the culture of fundamentalism.

Now, however, the term has come to mean a person who pretends to be a Christian who nonetheless is more concerned with the acquisition of political power; a person willing to abandon core theological principles in order to align himself or herself with fascism and a fascist head of State.

In sum, whereas Evangelicals were originally Christians striving to be faithful to the principles of the Reformation, today Evangelicals are pretend Christians.

Someone Buy James MacDonald a Bible; He Doesn’t Own One, or Has Never Read It

Pastor James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel filed a lawsuit this month against two ex-members and former Moody Radio host Julie Roys, accusing them of spreading false information about the Chicago-area megachurch’s financial health and leadership.  The main targets of the church’s defamation complaint are Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant, who together run the blog The Elephant’s Debt. The site has culled stories of alleged mismanagement at Harvest since 2012, including claims of as much as $70 million in mortgage debt and a lack of accountability from its elder board. Harvest has addressed some of the criticisms. MacDonald, its founder and senior pastor, apologized in 2014 to a trio of former elders who were disciplined for speaking out about a “culture of fear and intimidation.”

Get that guy a Bible, that way he can read this:

Is one of you with a complaint against another so brazen as to seek judgement from sinners and not from God’s holy people? Do you not realise that the holy people of God are to be the judges of the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent for petty cases? Do you not realise that we shall be the judges of angels? – then quite certainly over matters of this life. But when you have matters of this life to be judged, you bring them before those who are of no account in the Church!  

I say this to make you ashamed of yourselves. Can it really be that it is impossible to find in the community one sensible person capable of deciding questions between brothers, and that this is why brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? No; it is a fault in you, by itself, that one of you should go to law against another at all: why do you not prefer to suffer injustice, why not prefer to be defrauded? And here you are, doing the injustice and the defrauding, and to your own brothers. Do you not realise that people who do evil will never inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor. 6:1-9)

The Church and Politics

Einen Monat vor der Abstimmung über die „Selbstbestimmungsinitiative“ und die „Überwachung von Versicherten“ und während der Kampagne „Kirche für KOVI“, positionieren sich viele Kirchenvertreter*innen, kirchliche Organisationen und Kirchgemeinden für die Menschenrechte, für die Privatssphäre von Versicherten und für die Wahrnehmung der Verantwortung schweizerischer Konzerne. Damit erregen sie oft den Unmut Andersdenkender. Dieser Unmut bezieht sich aber weniger auf die vertretene Position, sondern viel mehr darauf, dass eine Religionsgemeinschaft oder deren Vertreter*innen sich überhaupt politisch einbringen. Dahinter steckt ein Missverständnis, das den säkularen Rechtsstaat im Verhältnis zu den Religionsgemeinschaften betrifft und die Religionen auf den Bereich des Privaten begrenzen will.

Etc.

Still True

When Jesus had finished these parables he left the district; and, coming to his home town, he taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?’ And they would not accept him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is despised only in his own country and in his own house,’ and he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matt. 13:53-58)