Quote of the Day

Those who through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ have escaped the pollutions of this world, according to the words of Peter [2 Peter 2:20], and are not willing to become again entangled therein, ought not to be reckoned as obstinate but as firm in their faith, being unwilling to withdraw from the sacred commands that have been given unto them. — Huldrych Zwingli

Someone Tell Thom Rainer that The Love of Money isn’t a Christian Virtue

LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, has sued its former president and CEO for violating a non-compete clause in his contract that forbids him from working with competitors.

Thom Rainer, who announced his plan to retire as president and CEO in 2018, still serves as Chief Advisory Officer for LifeWay. Under terms of a transition agreement, he was prohibited from working with a competitor for 12 months after his retirement, LifeWay claims in a suit filed in Williamson County, Tennessee on Monday (Sept. 28).

Rainer, 65, was earning the same salary he received as president, plus a car, which he could keep after his term as Chief Advisory Officer concludes Oct. 31, according to the transition agreement he signed with LifeWay in 2018.

This is why I hate knowing that SBC churches contribute to Lifeway.  They waste more money and produce more garbage than any denominational publisher ever has.  Lifeway should sink or swim on what it can sell and not on SBC money.

But in April, the suit alleges, Rainer and Tyndale, a publisher of Bibles and other Christian books, reached “a multi-book, multiyear agreement” for publishing Rainer’s books, which LifeWay says violates the transition agreement.

“Tyndale is ecstatic about our long-term partnership with Thom Rainer and Church Answers. Thom is a gifted leader, teacher, and communicator whose personal mission aligns perfectly with Tyndale’s,” Tyndale senior VP and publisher Ron Beers was quoted saying in a press release.

Rainer, a prolific writer, runs a business called Church Answers, which is intended to help church leaders with “resources, experts and community” through the ups and downs of church ministry. A lifelong Southern Baptist and Alabama native, Rainer received his Masters of Divinity and a Ph.D., from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

LifeWay claims Rainer’s agreement with Tyndale gives that publisher “a significant competitive advantage.”

“It is inevitable that he will disclose to Tyndale confidential information about LifeWay’s products, processes and services,” the lawsuit says.

Consultant.  What a farce.  If your church needs a consultant, close down.  You aren’t a church, you’re a business.  And if you’re being paid for doing nothing like Rainer is, and being given a car to boot, you aren’t in ministry, you are a con man who loves money more than ethics.

Cultural Shifts and Ritual Transformations in Reformation Europe

This volume honors the work of a scholar who has been active in the field of early modern history for over four decades. In that time, Susan Karant-Nunn’s work challenged established orthodoxies, pushed the envelope of historical genres, and opened up new avenues of research and understanding, which came to define the contours of the field itself. Like this rich career, the chapters in this volume cover a broad range of historical genres from social, cultural and art history, to the history of gender, masculinity, and emotion, and range geographically from the Holy Roman Empire, France, and the Netherlands, to Geneva and Austria. Based on a vast array of archival and secondary sources, the contributions open up new horizons of research and commentary on all aspects of early modern life.

Contributors: James Blakeley, Robert J. Christman, Victoria Christman, Amy Nelson Burnett, Pia Cuneo, Ute Lotz-Heumann, Amy Newhouse, Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, Helmut Puff, Lyndal Roper, Karen E. Spierling, James D. Tracy, Mara R. Wade, David Whitford, and Charles Zika.

It sounds fantastic.  The link above has the TOC.  A review copy has arrived.  More anon.

Selective Morality is Immorality

It’s interesting that many of the people defending the tax schemes of the President* – because it’s ‘legal’ to do what he did, are the same people who decry abortion in spite of the fact that it’s legal.

Let me explain:  abortion is legal but, in the minds of many, immoral.  Tax loopholing is legal, but in the minds of many, immoral.

When you favor a position you tend to defend it as ‘legal’ without referencing the morality of the act.  And when you disfavor a position you tend to defend it as ‘moral’, without referencing the legality of the act.

And that, plainly put, is selective morality, and that, plainly put, is immorality.

If you want to defend one act because it is ‘legal’ then for consistency sake you must defend all acts that are legal.  And if you denounce one act because it is immoral, you must denounce all immoral acts.

Otherwise what you are is a hypocrite exercising selective immorality.

Fun Barthian Facts

After Charlotte von Kirschbaum moved into Barth’s house, Barth signed his notes to her in the following ways1:

  • ‘I am having such joy! And I love you so much!’,
  • ‘I just love you so much’,
  • ‘I am so happy! I l. you so much’

or, later, simply

  • ‘I l. y. s. m. (sure? sure!)’ or ‘Oh you…..’, ‘Oh you!’, ‘D. L. … you know’,

from 1931 occasionally:

  • ‘I am constantly thinking of you and I love you much more, even much more than…

for example, on 1 August.

  • Although already then I liked you quite a lot, after all. You!’.

In 1934, he writes from Rome:

  • ‘Be, dearest, a thousand greeting and kisses, by your d. Karl’,

and finally, in a language style of a modern text message, apart from ‘I l. y. s. m.’ once also

  • ‘L. d. L. I l. y. s. m.’.

1Biography and theology. On the connectedness of theological statements with life on the basis of the correspondence between Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum (1925–1935), by Susanne Hennecke

Zwingli’s Entry into the Priesthood

glarusAccording to Jackson

On Michaelmas day, which that year (1506) came on Tuesday, September 29th, he read his first mass in the parish church at Wildhaus. He then went to Glarus.

Or more fully, according to West

At ten years of age Zwingli was sent to Basel to study and then to Bern and Vienna (at around fifteen years of age) where he earned a Bachelor’s degree. By 1506 he had earned a Master of Arts at Basel’s famous University and then shortly after celebrated his first Mass at his hometown before moving to Glarus to take up his priestly office. It was while he was in that picturesque village that Zwingli poured himself into his studies of the Bible, led by the urgings of Erasmus, who was then the leader of learning in Switzerland and across western Europe. According to his own testimony, it was in 1515 that the ‘reformatory’ spirit began to stir in his heart so that when he moved to Einsiedeln (in 1516) to serve the congregation there, he was already pursuing the beginnings of Reformed thought.

Happy First Mass Day, Huldrych, and thank Heaven that you left that superstition behind by 1520.

Current Events, God, and The American Way of Life

Americans, in spite of any of their protestations to the contrary, have no interest in God.  So God has left Americans to their own devices. We see the results all around us.

Don’t believe it?  Ponder this:

Trust in the LORD and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the person who carries out evil plans. Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated– it can only bring harm. For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in the LORD will inherit the land. – (Ps. 37:3-9)

Americans, particularly American Christians, don’t trust in the Lord, they trust their guns and their military.  They don’t take delight in the Lord, they delight in sports.  They don’t commit their way to the Lord, the ignore him in their every plan.  They aren’t silent.  They do not wait for his guidance.  And they don’t refrain from anger.  If attacked, they retaliate, violently.

No, let’s be honest, Americans might talk a good game, but God is as far from their real lives as possible.  ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’  And that’s why America has become the country it has become.

Why People Seem Bothered

I think that what offends people about Trump’s tax story is the fact that a billionaire is able to pay less taxes than a teacher or a farmer. If that doesn’t bother you, fairness doesn’t matter to you.

Just because something is legal does not mean that it’s moral. Why don’t Trump supporters seem to understand that?

Woe to Those Who Call Evil Things Good

Woe to those who drag guilt along by the reins of duplicity, drag along sin as though with a cart rope; to those who say, ‘Why doesn’t he do his work quickly so that we can see it; why doesn’t the Holy One of Israel’s design hurry up and come true so that we can experience it?’ 

Woe to those who call what is bad, good, and what is good, bad, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 

Woe to those who think themselves wise and believe themselves enlightened. Woe to those whose might lies in wine bibbing, their heroism in mixing strong drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deny justice to the upright. 

Yes, as the flame devours the stubble, as the straw flares up and disappears, their root will be like decay and their shoot be carried off like dust, for having rejected the law of Yahweh Sabaoth, for having despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  (Isa. 5:18-24)

Coming to the Meeter Center

Mark Your Calendars!

On September 24-25, 2021, the Meeter Center will host a conference on the Puritans to commemorate the 401st anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.

Our conference will feature five plenary speakers: Dr. Margaret Bendroth, Emeritus Director of the Congregational Library in Boston; Dr. Abram van Engen of Washington University St. Louis, and author of _City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism_ (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020); Dr. Adrian Weimer of Providence College; Dr. Richard Muller, Calvin Seminary Emeritus; and Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn of Westminster Seminary Philadelphia.

We’ll have more information for you as the date approaches. In the meantime, check back here for updates and reflections on this important anniversary.

Why Mention Trump?

It’s a fair question. His followers will always be loyal no matter what he does. Literally. There is no evil too low for their applause. And they will not be persuaded by facts.

Why mention Trump? It’s not to persuade his loyalists.

So why do it? Put simply, to retain our own decency. Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. We cannot be silent.

To be sure, again, his followers will always follow. It is the nature of the cult.

We aren’t speaking out for them, but for ourselves and history. Those to come may see that we lost, but they will know that we did not bow the knee to Baal or kiss Nebuchadnezzer’s statue. History will know that women and men of courage stood up to evil.

They will know we stood against the mob and shouted ‘You shall not pass’ to the demon from hell’s deepest pit. And they will respect us for it.

Advice From Our Friend Jerome

jeromeI love Jerome.

The burning lust for women is a passion bordering on insanity. To gratify this sense we languish, grow angry, throw ourselves about with joy, indulge envy, engage in rivalry, are filled with anxiety, and when we have terminated the pleasure with more or less repentance, we once more take fire, and want to do that which we again regret doing.

Assuaging Rhegius’s Doubts

zwingli_ducatZwingli’s book on Original Sin had appeared in August of 1526.  His friend Rhegius read it but had some questions about it and was concerned that persons of less than adequate intellect might find in it hints of Origenism.  On 28 September of the same year he expressed these thoughts to Zwingli.

Zwingli replied in a letter of 16 October, 1526 as follows:

Recte putavisti, excidisse nobis, doctissime Urbane, Origenem in hac fuisse sententia, quem ante omnes olim diligentissime in his saltem, quae hodie circumferuntur, legimus. Sed oblivionis haec arbitror causa fuit, quod cacodęmonibus quiddam promittere videtur, quos in rationem nostram non admittimus. Hi enim per Adamum non corruerunt, igitur neque resurgent per Christum. Verba Marci [Marc. 16. 15f.] synecdochica sunt, ac de iis modo intelliguntur, qui audito euangelio non crediderunt.

Praecessit enim: “Praedicate euangelium”. Qui ergo praedicato euangelio credunt, inter beatos locantur; et contra, qui praedicato euangelio non credunt, diris mancipantur. Neque hoc electioni praeiudicat. Nam et qui ad Christum veniunt, per patrem huc trahuntur: haec est electio; et qui ad patrem veniunt, ab ipso eliguntur. Sic tamen, ut per Christum, salutis pignus, ad se tandem veniant, cum eis fruendum est perpetuis bonis.

Firmam enim esse oportet electionem, etiamsi, qui eliguntur, per unicum Christum adducantur. Eligi enim oportet eos quoque, qui ad Christum veniunt, et electos per eum in gloriam regni ingredi. Ipse enim est via, veritas et vita [Joh. 14. 6]. Sic et iste locus, quod sine fide impossibile sit aliquem deo placere [Hebr. 11. 6], synecdochicôs intelligi debet, de his modo, qui verbum audiunt, ac resiliunt, aut qui audiunt, ac recipiunt.

Qui vero per aetatem non audiunt, his universalibus non continentur. Apud illos enim nulla est praevaricatio, cum nulla sit apud eos lex. Si vero ex Christianis prognati sunt, iam virtute testamenti filii dei sunt; sin ex gentibus, iam nihil decernimus.

He has much more to say but that gives you a sense of his reply.

Fun Facts From Church History: Luther Only Preached From Revelation 3 Times

Although Luther had often preached on the Festival of St. Michael and All Angels, he had usually taken up the appointed Gospel, Matt. 18:1–11, as his text. Only three times—on St. Michael’s day in 1534 and 1537, in addition to the present 1544 sermon—did Luther take up the appointed Epistle, and indeed those three sermons constitute the sum of Luther’s preaching on the Revelation of St. John.  – Luther’s Works: Sermons V, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown, trans. Matt Lundin, vol. 58, 171.