Daily Archives: 14 Jan 2019

ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network of the Roman World

Orbs can be fascinating.

Larry Hurtado's Blog

In a reading a recent book review, I was introduced to a remarkable resource for all students and scholars interested in the Roman world:  ORBIS:  The Stanford Geospatial Network of the Roman World, an online resource freely available, the home page here.

ORBIS is primarily intended to serve historians of the Roman Empire, the main questions shaping the project having to do with how Rome managed such a far-flung empire.  So it is “top down” in orientation, more amenable to questions about how trade or governance operated, and at what cost and time involved.

But in various ways it is also useful for other questions.  For example, how long did it take for the trip from Antioch of Syria to Jerusalem (e.g., for the financial relief trip that Acts 11>27-30).  Well, per ORBIS, it depends on whether one traveled by foot, or by donkey, or by coastal vessel.  The…

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Said No Theologian, Ever

‘God’s Word is spirit’….  Said no theologian, ever.  What does that even mean?  Ugh.

Zwingli was no Lutheran

“I do not want the papists to call me a Lutheran for I did not learn the doctrine of Christ from Luther, but rather from the Word of God. When Luther preaches Christ, he does the very same as me, though—thank God— innumerably more people are led to God through him than through me and others.” – HZ

Oh Papists…

Luther Tells an Englishman What Justification Means

luther_bullAn Englishman asked Dr. Martin Luther about this question, which is very common in England: Whether godly persons who are already justified should expect some merit on account of the works that follow justification? Dr. Martin Luther replied, “It should be understood at the outset that we who are already justified are still sinners, and so we believe in and pray for forgiveness of sins in this life. ‘Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to thee’ [Ps. 32:6]. ‘Enter not into judgment with thy servant [for no man living is righteous before thee,’ Ps. 143:2]. This is a certain statement. We’re all sinners and live under the grace of the forgiveness of sins.

“In the second place, God promises reward to those who do works, and therefore we earn something, etc. Surely God gives works to individuals, but differently, as one star differs from another. Yet all of these are under the forgiveness of sins. As heaven (that is, justification) is under grace, so much the more are the stars. As the stars don’t make heaven but only adorn it, so works don’t merit heaven but only adorn justifying faith. This is the only reasoning that solves everything: ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, who suffered under Pilate for us.’ Everything is his; nothing is ours. Afterward, when by grace we are sons of God, we differ in our gifts, just as there are different stars in heaven.

“In short, the article of justification by Christ solves everything. If Christ merits it, we merit nothing. In Christ there are gifts, not merits. Likewise, since capital and substantial righteousness is nothing, how much less will accidental righteousness count in God’s sight? Substantial righteousness is the righteousness of faith, but accidental righteousness is gifts, not merits. God crowns nothing but his own gifts, as Augustine said.

He expounded the term ‘merit’ very well against the deceit of the sophists, who said that the Blessed Virgin merited becoming the mother of Christ, the Son of God, because of her virginity; that is, she was suited in her maidenly body to give birth to him. Truly, an excellent merit! It’s as if somebody were to say, ‘This tree merits the bearing of fruit because God ordained it to do so.’ Surely, one should look upon God’s gifts and ordinance, not upon our works. Thus Augustine carefully reflected on the term ‘merit’ and concluded from the words of Mary, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord’ [Luke 1:38] and ‘He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden’ [Luke 1:48], that it depends on God’s grace and not our merit. The merit of our works is nothing before God. The merit of our justification is grace, or Christ died in vain. Besides, we’re all non-doers because there must be a diversity of gifts. This error comes from a confusion of the law and the gospel; when each of these teachings doesn’t remain in its place and sphere, we turn heaven into hell and hell into heaven.” — Table Talk

Luther, Contra Moltmann and the other Anti-Theologians


What If….

What if everyone at the Church you attended was a member just like you?  What would that Church look like?  Would it be empty except at Easter and Christmas?  Would Sunday School have anyone in attendance?  Would the offering plate be passed along with scarcely a dollar placed in it for the ministries of the Church?  Would the Pastor be encouraged or defeated?  Would anyone ever be invited to join the congregation for worship?  Would Wednesday Evening services need to be cancelled due to lack of interest and involvement?  Would the Church even need to bother opening its doors?

What if the Church you attended was filled with members just exactly like you?  Just as committed as you?  Just as willing to contribute as you?  Just as willing to work as you?  Just as willing to pray as you?  Just as willing to study the Bible as you?  What if the Church you attended looked just like you?

Many Christians seem to believe that doing Church is up to everyone else.  Let others invite their friends to worship; let others put more than a dollar in the plate to see that the work of ministry is funded; let others pray; let others study Scripture; let others work in VBS; let others attend regularly.  Let others, in short, be involved, engaged, and committed.

But what about you?  Why not you?  Why let others do all the heavy lifting, all the witnessing, all the praying, all the studying, all the working, all the teaching, all the giving while you reap the benefits of it all and are privileged to attend, when your heart seems to prod you to it, a Church that’s doing the work and Word of Christ?

You will want others to pray for you sometime; why not pray for others now.  You will want to know what Scripture says about some issue when you confront it; why not study it now.  You will want ministry at some point; why not be involved in ministry now.  You will want your kids and grandkids to be in VBS; why not work in VBS now?

The real question, I suppose, that every Christian (who actually is a Christian) needs to ask him or herself is, why am I less committed to Christ than I should be?  What have I found in Christ that is so reprehensible that I am unwilling to give myself to him as he has given himself for me?

What if the Church were filled with people like you?

‘Good’ Christians? Maybe Not…

Photo by Dr Nicholas Hardy, courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

‘Good’ Christians don’t enable evil men. Bad Christians do.

Another Zwingli Film Poster

This and all the rest are here.

Jesus Expels the Demons


A Bit of Luther to Brighten Your Day

For you are an excellent person, as skilful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp. — Martin Luther

It’s like he knows our Emergents.