Daily Archives: 4 Oct 2019

Quote of the Day

luther

Oh Boy…

Oh boy oh boy oh boy… Oh. Boy.

On Theology: An Observation

The problem with too much theological thinking today is that it is based more on the clever thoughts of various thinkers and philosophers than the Biblical text.  In other words, it’s built on the wrong foundation.  Clever, cute, witty notions are no replacement for the Bible for theologians who wish to be faithful to their theological roots.  Any house built on sand is sure to fall when the storms rage.

Why Is Calvin Despised So By His Foes?

calvin_preach[Because] they love darkness rather than light, they cannot tolerate the sharpness with which we, as in duty bound, rebuke the gross idolatry which is apparent everywhere in the world. When God is worshipped in images, when fictitious worship is instituted in his name, when supplication is made to the images of saints, and divine honours paid to dead men’s bones, and other similar things, we call them abominations as they are.

For this cause, those who hate our doctrine inveigh against us, and represent us as heretics who dare to abolish the worship of God as approved of old by the Church. Concerning this name of Church, which they are ever and anon holding up before them as a kind of shield, we will shortly speak. Meanwhile how perverse, when these infamous corruptions are manifest, not only to defend them, but to dissemble and represent them as the genuine worship of God!

Amen.  And that, in sum, is why some evil people dislike the saintly Calvin.

Do You Ever Get the Feeling that the ‘Conference Going Christians’ and their Heroes Never Read the Bible?

I do.

She’s not right.  She’s apparently never read the New Testament.  But she came up with a pithy sounding sound bite and her hoards swallowed it without even so much as considering its accuracy.  Conferencing Christians…  they’re dilettantes.

Jodi Magness Questions the Masada Suicide Myth

But to be fair, Joe Zias and others have doubted the legitimacy of the tale for decades.  Jodi is a bit late to the game on this one.  And I love her!

Magness, a professor of early Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has just published a new book with Princeton University Press, “Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth.”

Today, Magness is mostly associated with her excavation of an outstandingly worked, colorful mosaic flooring at an early synagogue at Huqoq, north of Tiberias, where she has dug since 2011.

Now I have to read her book.  Read the essay.

Swiss Radio Interview

So apparently last February SRF saw my paper topic (at the Zwingli Conference in Zurich) and wanted to interview me (and Bruce Gordon) about Zwingli. It was fun.  And I’ve just learned that the interview will air on SRF on November 3.  So when it does, I’ll fill in the link here.

Get Them at Your Favorite Local Bookstore or Directly from The Publishers

Zwingli Conferences

Via the good folk at CIDOC-

Le protestantisme suisse doit beaucoup à Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), qui fut le principal artisan de la réforme à Zurich puis dans les régions avoisinantes dans les années 1519-1526. Cinq cent ans après son activité pastorale et théologique, que reste-t-il de sa pensée, de ses écrits, de son engagement?

A-t-il encore quelque chose à nous dire ? Cette série de conférence, destinée à un large public, se penchera sur la figure de Zwingli dans son contexte historique; elle sera surtout l’occasion de discuter certains grands thèmes de sa pensée – des thèmes susceptibles de nourrir la vie chrétienne aujourd’hui encore.

PROGRAMME

  • 30 OCTOBRE
    L’HOMME ET SON TEMPS
    Ueli Zahnd
  • 6 NOVEMBRE
    LA LIBERTÉ
    Bernard Reymond
  • 20 NOVEMBRE
    LES SACREMENTS
    Jean-Baptiste Lipp et Christophe Chalamet
  • 27 NOVEMBRE
    DIEU ET LA FOI
    Sarah Scholl
  • 4 DÉCEMBRE
    QU’EST-CE QUE LES CATHOLIQUES PEUVENT FAIRE DE ZWINGLI ?
    Jean-Blaise Fellay, sj
  • 11 DÉCEMBRE
    LE RÉFORMATEUR (film de Stefan Haupt, 2019)
    Projection du film en présence du réalisateur au Zinéma à Lausanne

Do go to any and all of these events that you can!

Paul Althaus, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner: Briefwechsel 1922–1966

This new work arrived last month and I’ve had the chance to work through it, to my great delight.

The volume falls into two major sections: the first, Barth’s correspondence with Althaus, and second, Brunner’s correspondence with Althaus.

Two things stand out in this important collection of personal cards and letters- Barth and Althaus had nothing more than a professional relationship and agreed on very few things.  Meanwhile, the relationship between Althaus and Brunner was collegial, warm, and far more than merely professional.

A few excerpts will serve well to prove the point.

Regarding Barth’s ‘Romans’, Althaus writes

Ob ich viel anderes als A. Schlatter zu Ihrem Paulus sagen kann, ist mir fraglich.

Regarding a greeting that Barth sent via a messenger, Althaus notes

Für den Gruß, den Sie mir durch FräuleinGrell sandten, danke ich Ihnen sehr.

Of Althaus’s early enthusiasm for Hitler, Barth scathingly remarks

Wie kann man so gescheit sein, wie er und auf eine so geist verlassene Angelegenheit wie den Hitlerianismus hereinfallen und in den S.A. das Schema für eine neue Ethik entdecken? Wie kann man Theologe sein und seine Leidenschaft so beharrlich und ausdrücklich bei einer anderen Sache haben?

Turning to the letters exchanged between Althaus and Brunner, the tone is entirely different.  Addressing one another as ‘friend’ (whereas for Althaus and Barth it is always ‘Colleague’), the two men had an authentic appreciation for one another and concern for one another.   They frequently sent each other their latest books and complimented one another on the excellent quality of those works.

One of their common topics was the annoyance of Barth and his Barthians.  So, for instance, Althaus

Karl Barths Ansicht in dieser Sache ist auch mir völlig unmöglich und seine Berufung auf die Formeln der alten Dogma tiker (S. 45 A.19), wie so oft, mehr als gewagt. Ich freue mich Ihrer Sätze zur theol. naturalis und habe Sie vor 8 Tagen feierlich im Kolleg als Kronzeugen zitiert.

Also of concern were the ‘power cliques’ of theologians who strove to silence and marginalize any dissenting voices.  Here’s Brunner in a longish letter with the word ‘Private’ at the beginning-

Die Tatsache Erich Seeberg in Berlin ist ein Skandal für die deutsche Theologie. Und die Geltung, die in gewissen Kreisen, ziemlich weit herum, dieser(handschriftl Zusatz: im Vergleich mit seinem Anspruch!) Hohlkopf und Eisenfresser genießt, ist eine Schande für das Urteilsvermögen weiter Kreise der gelehrten Welt. Weiß man das wirklich in Berlin nicht, wieman außerhalb von Berlin über diese Berliner Clique und die beispiellose Niveausenkung der Berliner Fakultät, die die Wirkung ihrer Tätigkeit und ihres Einflusses ist, denkt? Was für ein Geistesriese ist der alte Reinhold neben diesem seinen Sprößling! Und das will doch ziemlich viel sagen.

Returning later to Barth…  Althaus

… ich habe Barths Anti-Brunner gelesen Journalistisch glänzend, zum z. T. raffiniert; aber auch groß in der Kunst umzubiegen, mißzuverstehen, Konsequenzmacherei zu betreiben u.s.w. Ich bin in der Zuversicht zu der uns beiden gemeinsamen These nirgends erschüttert worden. Einige Wendungen können Sie ev. ändern. – Wie billig und falsch die Verdächtigung Ihres Bekenntnisses zum totus peccator! Als ob der Mensch nicht eben dadurch totus peccator wäre, dass er im Ernste um Gott weiß, wissen muß! Bezeichnend, dass Barth auf diese Begründung Ihrer These (wo keine vorlaufende Offenbarung, da auch keine Sünde) gar nicht eingegangen ist! Mit der Aufklärung und der rationalen Orthodoxie um 1700 soll er uns nicht graulen machen. Johann Gerhard, der klassischer Orthodoxer war, lehrt wie wir. Werden Sie bald antworten? Ich gehe im Kolleg dieser Tage auf die Dinge ein und werde wohl auch einen Aufsatz zur Sache schreiben.

Their friendship was deep.  When, for example, Brunner was hospitalized, his wife sent this note to Althaus-

Da mein Mann gegenwärtig noch im Spital liegt,möchte ich Ihnen vorläufig an seiner Stelle – endlich! – aufs herzlichste danken für Ihren freundlichen Brief vom 15. Juni und die beiden Bände Ihrer „Dogmatik“!  Über beides wird sich mein Mann sehr freuen, wenn er, wie wir hoffen, Ende nächster Woche nach Hause kommen kann.

And of course they could be a bit ‘gossipy’, as when Althaus describes his joy that his students are visiting Zurich to take courses under Brunner instead of going to Basel where the Barth cult reigns:

Daher freuen sich auch meine Schüler, die nach Zürich gehen, immer so sehr Ihres Unterrichtes und
müssen nicht, wie in Basel, eine „Bekehrung“ vollziehen oder ablehnen.  Sie glauben kaum, wie verheerend sich Basel und sein Terror oder seine Suggestion bei uns im „Reichsbruderrate“ auswirkt. Diese Leute sind über haupt nicht mehr fähig zu der Freiheit, eines Ihrer oder meiner Bücher zu studieren. Ein genaues Gegenbild zu dem politischen Exklusivismus und Totalismus.

And one final example, from a letter Althaus wrote to Brunner upon receiving word that Brunner’s son had tragically died:

Mein lieber Freund Brunner!

Durch meinen Schüler Gottfried Hornig höre ich von dem schweren Schlage, der Sie und Ihre Gemahlin getroffen hat, durch den jähen Tod Ihres Sohnes Thomas. Meine Frau und ich sind bewegt von der Nachricht, zumal Sie schon einen anderen geliebten Sohn durch einen Unglücksfall verloren haben. Wir wissen etwas, wie dem Vater und der Mutter bei solchem Geschehen umsHerz ist –unserenÄltesten haben wir 1940 hergebenmüssen – aber was Sie erleben, ist ja viel dunkler und sinnloser.

Wir gedenken Ihrer. Diese Zeilen sollen es Ihnen sagen. Gottes Trösten erweise an Ihnen allen seine starke Kraft! Gott sorgt dafür, dass uns dieses Leben nicht zu lieb wird. Er nimmt uns geliebte Menschen hinauf in seine Ewigkeit – und lockert unsere Erden-Wurzeln. Wir müssen uns ihm auch dabei ganz still anvertrauen – es tut sehr weh, Er tut sehr weh. Aber es ist seine gute Hand.

Treu Ihnen verbunden, mit Ihnen trauernd

Ihr P. Althaus

This volume is worth your time.

Fun Facts From Church History: Luther, on the Quran

In 1542 Luther published Brother Richard’s Refutation of the Koran, Translated into German by Dr. M. Luther (Widerlegung des Alkoran Bruder Richardi; verdeutscht dutch Dr. M. Luther) (WA 53, [261] 271–396).

In the preface Luther expressed amazement that the Koran had not been translated into Latin. He went on to say that as recently as Shrove Tuesday 1542 he had seen such a translation for the first time, but that it was a very poor one.

Later that year a new Latin version was published in Basel, but it was banned by the magistrate. Luther urged the lifting of this ban. Cf. Köstlin, Martin Luther, II, 603. — Luther’s Works, vol. 46: The Christian in Society III.

Neat huh!  I would wager most folk wouldn’t even imagine that Luther thought a Latin version of the Quran something desirable, but he did.

Happy Birthday Lucas Cranach (Jr)

Lucas Cranach the Younger was born on October 4, 1515 in Wittenberg, Germany, to Lucas and Barbara Cranach. He grew up and trained in his father’s workshop where he became an accomplished artist in his own right. When his father died, he took over control of the famous artist’s workshop and continued in his famous style.

Shown is probably the most famous portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Younger and is from 1554.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux for Katie Luther

cranach luther

You Get More Jail Time For Shooting a Cop’s Dog Than Shooting a Black Man…

There is no justice in America.

The Day Tyndale’s English Version of the Bible was Printed: October 4, 1535

tyndale

Huldrych Zwingli and his Little Brother, James

We have but one letter from H Z to J Z, as Zwingli’s biographer informs us:

Zwingli sent James to Vadian’s care with this letter of introduction, dated Glarus, October 4, 1512 (vii., 7), and accompanied it with an historical sketch of the 1512 Italian campaign of the Glarus contingent in the papal army.

“The bearer of this is my own brother, a boy of good promise; when I thought over to whom to send him to be initiated into the sacred mysteries of philosophy, you always occurred to me. Therefore, I beseech you by the sweetness of our friendship that you polish, smooth, and finish him with plane, axe, and rake. I am sure you will find him most obedient. But if he dare to be disobedient, shut him up without compassion until his petulance effervesces. He has 50 gold pieces for the two years, so that he will need to be economical.”

That James considered his allowance altogether too small is shown by this letter, the only one of his preserved (vii., 7):

“Brother James Zwingli to Huldreich Zwingli, philosopher and rector at Glarus. Greeting: Would that the All swaying and supremely Good God would so bring it about that you might estimate my studies as highly as I do your liberality and brotherly kindness! And I do not despair of this; for I can be advanced so much by your example and exhortations (not to leave room for which would be degeneracy), also by Master Joachim Vadianus, whose pupil I now am; I am nourished by the flowers and rivulets of all the sciences, from which it would be a crime for those ignorant of philosophy to withdraw. Therefore, let me not be defiled by this wrong or that; doubt not that I will strive with perennial energy. Yet one anxiety is left; I cannot live for two years upon the 50 gold pieces allowed me. I do not complain of this, by Mars, because I am given to high living. By Hercules’ I live pretty roughly. I live upon the food carried away from the dinner table; I am compelled to drink water which can be made by no benediction to lose its original bad taste. In accordance with the warning of Joachim, let 50 gold pieces be added to the 15 I received, and this you would assent to if you knew the circumstances. When I reached Vienna, only 11 remained, so expensive was the journey, and of them I spent 7 for books and then bought a bed. Assuredly money slipped so quickly out of my hands that there is hardly a penny left. Then there are 19 florins to be paid the procurator for food and 5 yearly to Joachim, so that unless I can look for 30 gold pieces a year study cannot be carried on. Therefore, my brother, on your side take things in good part, and make your ears gracious to my appeal, and I will on my part always respect your wishes.

“Concerning my studies I cannot write more, as I have hardly tasted them. I gain very little from the reading of Pliny as I lack a copy. I hear with the greatest attention lectures on Lactantius’s De Opificium and the rest from [John] Camertes [professor of theology], the most learned man in Vienna at this time. I hear the Letters of Cicero by our Joachim and the text of the Sentences [of Peter Lombard] from a certain Father, a bachelor of letters. I study, unwillingly though, the Dialectics, and I hear this, that, and the other, which it is not necessary to speak of. Though it will be seen how far I shall profit by any particular course when I have put the finishing touch to it. So much for this.

“As to the money, do your part that what is coming to me may be handed to Francis Zili, citizen of St. Gall, grandfather of Valentine Tschudi, so that it may reach me by March 23d. I have written the same thing to the abbot [probably that of St. John’s], and by command of my instructor I have asked father for a good new coat. So see to it they get their letters as soon as possible, so that all may be done at an early date. Have them read through this one’s letter to the dekan [of Wesen, Bartholomew Zwingli, James’s uncle] as soon as possible. I and the writer of this [i. e., Valentine] are in one boat. Urge Valentine’s relatives to be liberal, for though they are rich they are very frugal.

“If there is any news let me have it. Not far from us a doubtful conflict has been fought between the Hungarians and the Turks, and this terrifies the Austrians. Do not be angry at this unpolished letter. Farewell! The good fortune of Metellus and the years of Nestor be yours. Greet our respected John, Dr. Gregory [pastor] of Swandon, my comrade Fridolin, and my sister [of Glarus].

“Vienna, at the house of Saint Jerome, January 23, 1513.”

When James went to Vienna he was already a monk, (see above), and so his matriculation entry in the winter semester of 1512 reads: Fr[ater] Jacobus Zwinglin professus ad s. Joannem prope.

We know nothing of what became of James Zwingli.  We do know that it was a scant 3 years later, at the Battle of Marignano, that Zwingli had implanted in his soul the urge of Reform.

Fun Facts From Church History: Bullinger and Denmark

783000Heinrich Bullinger was very interested in persuading the Danes that the Swiss Reformation was worth considering (rather than the Lutheran) and he wrote De gratia Dei justificante nos propter Christum per solam fidem absque operibus bonis, fide interim exuberante in opera bona, libri IV. ad sereniss. Daniæ regem Christianum to prove it.

It is such a well written book that none less than Philip Melanchthon thought very highly of it!

Nevertheless, the Danish Reformation, led by Hans Tausen, was and remained essentially Lutheran (which explains why Danes are not as Reformed as they should be…)