Daily Archives: 8 Sep 2019

The Mega Church Belief Matching Guarantee

Lifeline Community Church’s Pastor of Business Development confirmed Friday that the 5,000-member congregation would now be offering a belief-matching guarantee, promising to lower its doctrinal standard to meet whatever any competing congregation believes, “or your money back.”

Church visitors are invited to bring in a printed-out copy of any religion or competing church’s statement of faith or else a recorded sermon, show it to an usher or pastor, and the church will immediately drop a biblical doctrine in order to match the watered-down doctrine being espoused.

“Whatever beliefs you bring in here, we’ll match. Why go anywhere else?” Pastor of Marketing Kip Budlong said in a television commercial advertising the new policy. “If you come to our church and are taught a qualifying doctrine, and then go elsewhere and find that doctrine being taught in a manner less faithful to the Scriptures, return the following Sunday with proof and we’ll immediately lower the bar or just chuck the teaching altogether.”

At publishing time, the church had also announced an upcoming “Believe One Apostasy, Get One Free!” sale.

The Megas I know will gladly encourage you to believe whatever you like, and you’re welcome there.  It’s your presence that matters, not God’s.  And of course your offering.

Quote of the Day

When you read ancient Christians, you notice: We talk a lot about Christ sharing in our sufferings. They talk more about our sharing in his. – Andrew Wilson

The difference between the ancient Church and the modern in one simple sentence.

Quote of the Day

A temptation for professors is to think about their reputation with other professors in their field, while forgetting that their greatest influence is upon their students, which reminds us why we are called to faithfulness. We are influencing the next generation. – Tom Schreiner

Mark Sanford: Philanderer, Adulterer, and of Course, GOP Candidate for President

Facing monumentally longshot odds, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford announced Sunday he will challenge fellow Republican President Donald Trump for the White House, launching a campaign centered on Washington spending but also on where the party is headed.  The announcement came during a nationally televised in-studio appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the conservative-leaning news network Trump is known to watch regularly.

“I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican. I think that as a Republican Party, we have lost our way,” Sanford said in his interview with Chris Wallace in Washington.  The former Charleston congressman has been privately considering a presidential bid since he left office in January and has been publicly exploring its viability for the last 54 days.  He is basing his run on a warning that the Republican Party is at an “inflection point” after three years of the Trump presidency, though he is making attention to the ballooning national debt his focal point.

“We need to have a conversation about humility,” Sanford also said during the interview as he noted Trump’s penchant for commenting by tweet “is not leadership.”  Sanford knows he is facing overwhelming odds of success in a race where most polls give the president an overwhelming approval rating among party diehards.

“I’m saying ‘you never know,’ ” he said, and that “this is the beginning of a long walk, but it begins with a first step.”  With his entrance into the race, Sanford, 59, becomes the third GOP candidate to formally challenge the president in the 2020  contest. The two other candidates are former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh.

The GOP…  the party of hypocrites.

Celebrating the Birth-iversary of Peter Martyr Vermigli

Today marks the anniversary of Vermigli’s birth, on 8 September 1499 (or 1500- there is some debate about the year).  His numerous writings are still very much worth reading.  Encyclopedia Brittanica describes him thusly:

The son of a prosperous shoemaker, Vermigli had by 1518 entered the Lateran Congregation of the Augustinian Canons Regular at Fiesole. After eight years of study at Padova he served variously as preacher, vicar, and abbot, finally becoming abbot at St. Peter ad Aram, a city monastery in Naples, in 1537. There he joined the select group around Juan de Valdés and read the pseudonymous works of the Reformers. Vermigli became suspect, and the Theatines procured his suspension from preaching, but sympathetic cardinals at Rome had the ban lifted. In 1541 he became prior of San Frediano at Lucca, where he gathered a teaching staff and introduced both monastery and congregation to Reformed doctrine and worship. Summoned to appear before his order at Genoa, he fled in August 1542 to Zürich. Martin Bucer then called him to Strasbourg (now in France), where he was professor of theology (1542–47, 1553–56). Vermigli in 1547 accepted Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s invitation to England and became regius professor of divinity at the University of Oxford. The major event of his stay was a disputation (1549) on the Eucharist, at which three matters of belief were debated: (1) transubstantiation, (2) carnal or corporeal presence, and (3) whether “the body and blood of Christ is sacramentally joined to the bread and the wine.” His influence on the 1552 prayer book and the Forty-two Articles (1553) is problematic. His eucharistic doctrine, in the Oxford Disputation and Treatise and in Defensio adversum Gardinerum (published in 1559), was close to that of John Calvin, Bucer, and Philipp Melanchthon. After Queen Mary’s accession, Cranmer named him the archbishop’s assistant, but Vermigli went into exile, followed by disciples such as John Jewel, during later persecutions by the crown. He returned to Strasbourg in 1553 but in 1556, after the Lutheran–Reformed dispute over the ubiquity of Christ’s body intensified, went to Zürich as professor of Hebrew.

There’s a bit more on Vermigli here.  And here’s a vermigli gallery for your enjoyment.  Get to know this man.  He’s important.

Erasmus Didn’t Appreciate Zwingli’s “Archeteles”, But He Didn’t Read it Either

“I have read some pages of your apology [Archeteles]. I beseech you for the sake of the glory of the Gospel, which I know you would favour and which we all who bear the name of Christ ought to favour, if you should issue anything hereafter, treat so serious a matter seriously, and bear in mind evangelical modesty and patience. Consult your learned friends before you issue anything. I fear that that apology will cause you great peril and will injure the Gospel. Even in the few pages that I have read there are many things I wanted to warn you about. I do not doubt that your prudence will take this in good part, for I have written late at night with a mind that is most solicitous for you. Farewell.”

Written from Basel, September 8, 1522


I like how Erasmus, like so many of our contemporaries, read a few pages and thought he graspsed the argument of the whole.  For being a learned man, Erasmus wasn’t very smart at times.

Reform of Poor Relief: Today With Zwingli

Zwingli manifested his independent and reforming spirit by criticising the department of outdoor relief in the city, and proposing on September 8, 1520, that the public alms should hereafter be given only to those who had been investigated, and could show actual need. One test of the “worthiness” of the applicants for relief was their ability to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, the Ave Maria, and the Ten Commandments!*

Now that’s a good rule! Forget ‘drug testing’ of welfare recipients- only provide assistance after they’ve been investigated, found truly in need, and demonstrate adequate piety.  Oh for the good old days.

*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (p. 157).