Monthly Archives: October 2019
Happy Reformation Day, the day countless evangelicals honor a man whose writings most have never read and whose teachings most would not understand…or embrace. — Michael Svigel
Our society is deeply divided. That’s not news to anyone. But it does give us an opportunity to remind ourselves that if we carry our political divisions into Church with us or into our Christianity, then we need to stop it and repent of doing so.
If you don’t like someone else’s political views, leave it at the door of the Church when you enter. Or stay home.
The body of Christ doesn’t need, or want, your politics to disrupt its fellowship or worship. And just by way of reminder, this is what Scripture too demands:
Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to have factions among yourselves but all to be in agreement in what you profess; so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements. (1 Cor. 1:10)
Factions, cliques, political ideologies, and all the rest of the things that divide the Church have zero place in the Church.
Every time something awful happens and some wretch does something terrible to innocent folk there is always a chorus of voices raised in protest, complaining that God ought to do something, and why, by the way, doesn’t he.
David Hume was the loudest of these screechers, opining at the end of the day that ‘if God is good he is not God; and if God is God, he is not good’.
What the poor syphilitic Scotsman failed to admit, or recognize, along with all of his modern disciples, is that God has granted ALL of us free will.
Our exercise of that free will is the problem, not God. And we love our free will, when it’s ours. We just don’t like it when someone besides us exercises theirs.
So, for instance, Bob wants to go out and get drunk and drive home, and does so because he’s free to do so. And on the way home he runs Randy down. Randy was minding his own business but Bob was exercising his free will to be an absolute piece of human garbage. And so he was. Randy suffered the consequences of Bob’s free will. But of course Randy too is a friend of free will, since only hours earlier, he had followed a girl from her dorm room to a park where she was going to jog. Overcome with desire, because he had seen her many times before, Randy raped her and left her for dead. Because, you know, free will.
Free will… it opens the door to every evil and is the worst and best of all God’s gifts to wretched selfish humanity. Or more precisely, the use of free will is the greatest gift God has given to wretched humanity.
Free will exists because God wishes us to be free, and not puppets. How we choose to use our freedom is completely in our hands. But the minute someone uses theirs in a way contrary to our wishes, we blame God (whilst enjoying our own free will to the fullest).
It is hypocrisy. It is rank hypocrisy to denounce God whilst exercising the freedom he has granted. Instead of denouncing God, denounce the one who exercised her or his free will to do evil. Denounce yourself. Because when all is said and done, you’re the one who has taken the good gift of God and destroyed it.
The next time some piece of filth guns down a bunch of folk remind yourself that he has distorted a good gift of God: choice. And when you’re screeching about ‘a woman’s choice’ remember your own opposition to choice in the hands of the terrorist and recall that your own choices haven’t always been what anyone outside your own head would call good; and stop blaming God, and start blaming the totally depraved wretch who did the deed you despise.
Because the Church has never been a monolith. Never. Ever. Never from day one.
It’s all about them too.
Let’s stop assuming they’re actually Christians.
For the first time since I’ve been here there are suggestions that protesting will occur within earshot. So the police are beginning to appear. So after a very nice dinner I walked around and snapped some photos. I’ll go out later (not outside the gates of the school but up on the roof) and watch for action.
In the Church of Christ government is just as necessary as preaching, although this latter occupies the first place. For as a man cannot exist except as composed of both body and soul, however much the body is the humbler and lower part, so the Church cannot exist without the civil government, though the government attends to and looks after the more material things that have not to do with the spirit.
Since, then, two particularly bright lights of our faith, Jeremiah and Paul, bid us pray to the Lord for our rulers that they may permit us to lead a life worthy of God, how much more ought all in whatever kingdom or people to bear and to do all things to guard the Christian peace!
Hence we teach that tribute, taxes, dues, tithes, debts, loans, and all promises to pay of every kind should be paid and the laws of the state in general be obeyed in these things.
‘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.
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.
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!
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.
Except, of course, the lovers of war who despised his anti-mercenary service sentiments. Accordingly, his biographer notes, that even when he took up residence in Einsiedeln in October of 1516, that technically
… he remained pastor of Glarus till he went to Zurich. He so signs himself on October 30, 1517, when writing to the chief magistrate of Winterthur; his name so appears upon the official records, and he drew the parish income and out of it paid his “vicar” or substitute. His people were anxious to retain him and promised to rebuild his house if he would stay. They were proud of his reputation for scholarship, of his large library, of his musical skill, of the friends he had made, and of his devoted pupils, and of his rise from obscurity to prominence among the Swiss. They knew what an excellent preacher he was, how faithful a pastor, how firm a friend, how enthusiastic a patriot, how generous, how jovial, how self-sacrificing, in short, what a fine man he was. But his enemies, though far less numerous than his friends, were equally determined and compelled his departure.
It only takes one or two obnoxious enemies to drive one out no matter how many loving supporters one has.
Ein Meilenstein der Verlagsgeschichte: Meyers kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament
Als im Jahre 1827 der Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht mit dem Dorfpfarrer Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer einen Vertrag über die Herausgabe einer griechisch-deutschen Ausgabe des Neuen Testaments in zwei Abteilungen sowie eines zweibändigen Kommentars zu den neutestamentlichen Schriften abschloss, war das für den Verlag eher ungewöhnlich und wagemutig. Meyer war weder ein ausgewiesener Wissenschaftler noch sonst in der Fachwelt bekannt. Der Pfarrer sollte mit je 25 Freiexemplaren der vier geplanten Bände und einer Pistole – d.h. fünf preußischen Reichstalern – pro gedrucktem Bogen entlohnt werden, ein eher bescheidener Lohn. Damals war noch nicht abzusehen, dass damit der Grundstein für das traditionsreichste Kommentarwerk der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft gelegt werden sollte. Aus den anfangs geplanten 2 Bänden des KEK wurden im Laufe der Jahre schließlich 16 Bände, 1859 lag schließlich das Gesamtwerk vor.
Etc. Do enjoy. And, FYI, the various commentaries published by V&R are available here.