Zwinglius Redivivus

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Wittenberg vs Geneva…

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wittenI’m pretty sure Luther could take Calvin.  The former was a pudgy monk and the latter was a skinny and frail sickly lad.

What are the differences between Lutherans and Calvinists, and do they really matter? In Wittenberg vs. Geneva, Brian Thomas provides a biblical defense of the key doctrines that have divided the Lutheran and Reformed traditions for nearly five centuries. It is especially written to help those who may have an interest in the Lutheran church, but are concerned that her stance on doctrines like predestination or the sacraments may not have biblical support. To get to the heart of the matter, Pastor Thomas focuses solely upon those crucial scriptural texts that have led Lutheran and Reformed scholars down different paths to disparate conclusions as he spars with popular Calvinist theologians from the past and the present.

I’ve been sent a review copy and have spent the last couple of days reading it (though to be fair it can easily be read in a day).  Thomas handles the material he does handle well enough but he makes the same mistake that too many make when they talk about something they call ‘Reformed Theology’ – they only mean ‘Calvinism’.

Indeed, there seems to be some absurd notion out there that Reformed theology equals Calvinism and Calvinism equals Reformed Theology.  And that is historically totally inaccurate.

To be sure, the title of the book leads readers to believe that Luther and Calvin’s views will be the core of the work but then Thomas insists, pathologically, on talking about ‘Reformed Theology’ without so much as referencing Zwingli or Oecolampadius even though he does mention Leithart and Melanchthon.  Melanchthon, of course, is worthy of mention but Leithart?  While excluding Oecolampadius and Zwingli?  Ridiculous.

Even the sources which Thomas utilizes for his explication of Calvinism (I shan’t call his explication an explication of Reformed Theology because it isn’t) are quite narrow.  Horton and Sproul are, by and large, good scholars.  But no one believes, do they, that they are the standard bearers of Reformed thought.  And if they do, they shouldn’t.

Thomas’s problem is that he left Calvinism (Presbyterian type) and adopted Lutheranism.  He has an ax to grind and grind it he does.  Regularly throughout we are informed that the Lutheran viewpoint is the more scriptural viewpoint.  And, naturally, Thomas is free to believe that if he wishes.  He is not, however, justified in saying that the Lutheran viewpoint is more scripturally oriented when he ignores Zwingli and other founding Reformed thinkers with the aplomb of a blonde cheerleader ignoring the hapless chess club geek at the school prom.

I would very much like to recommend this book, but I cannot.  Unless the potential reader is a Lutheran apologist.  Then, and only then, will it be found useful.  Otherwise, it has been placed in the scales of theological enquiry and found wanting.

Written by Jim

06/02/2016 at 1:09 pm

Video Book Recommendation

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Written by Jim

06/02/2016 at 11:29 am

92% of Students Prefer Real Books

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E-books may be convenient and cheap, but they aren’t displacing paper just yet, at least in the hearts and minds of college kids. That’s what Naomi Baron, linguistics professor at American University, found out as part of the research she conducted for her new book, “Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World.”

She and her fellow researchers surveyed over 300 university students from Japan, Germany, Slovakia and the U.S., and found that 92 percent preferred to do serious reading in paper books — rejecting e-readers, laptops, phones and tablets.

“There really is a physical, tactile, kinesthetic component to reading,” Baron said in an interview with New Republic. “In the Slovakian data, when I asked what do you like most about reading in hard copy, one out of ten talked about the smell of books.”

Read it all.  Real books are just better.  They just are.  Better.

Written by Jim

06/02/2016 at 10:46 am

Posted in Books, Modern Culture

Cornell University and Yet Another Rape at a Frat House

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  1. Gentlemen- if you wish to avoid being charged with rape- don’t rape women.
  2. Ladies- if you don’t wish to be raped- don’t go to a frat house. Ever.
  3. Young people- the best way to avoid the horror of a life scarred by the consequences of rape or rape allegations leveled by a now regretful partner is to avoid having random sexual relations or hooking up with every person you meet in a dark bar while you’re semi or fully drunk.

When it comes to sexual crimes, you are often your own worst enemy.

Written by Jim

06/02/2016 at 8:37 am

Posted in Modern Culture

What To Say When Your Pastor Announces that Worship is Cancelled or Rescheduled For the Super Bowl

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  1. Heretic!
  2. Bloody Heretic!
  3. So you think a game should displace our service?  Great, next time my kids have a game on Sunday or Wednesday I’ll be there because you said it’s more important.
  4. You’re doing it to attract the non-attenders?  They already don’t attend, do they really need another excuse, and this one provided by you?!
  5. Don’t bother preaching on Christian commitment anymore, I’ll just be sitting there laughing out loud.
  6. We ‘need’ the Millennials?  HA!  Like a hole in the head by a gangbanger’s bullet.

And here’s the face you need to make as you walk out:


Written by Jim

06/02/2016 at 8:14 am

Posted in Modern Culture

Dating early Christian papyri: old and new methods

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Take a look-


The Archaeology of Religion in the Roman World group is organizing a panel on old and new methods in the dating of early Christian papyri at the next Annual Meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature (San Antonio, Texas, 19-22 November 2016).
Topics may include, but are not confined to, methodology issues and problems, palaeography, papyrus case studies, and the application of new technologies.
Invited speakers: Brent Nongbri and Malcolm Choat.
Instructions for submitting an abstract through this link:
Join us!

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Written by Jim

06/02/2016 at 7:48 am

Posted in Modern Culture

Quote of the Day

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Hilary_of_Poitiers-webThere are many whose confession concerning God, while it acquits them of ungodliness, yet does not set them free from sin; those, for example, who abide in the Church but do not observe her laws; such are the greedy, the drunken, the brawlers, the wanton, the proud, hypocrites, liars, plunderers.

No doubt we are urged towards these sins by the promptings of our natural instincts; but it is good for us to withdraw from the path into which we are being hurried and not to stand therein, seeing that we are offered so easy a way of escape. It is for this reason that the man who has not stood in the way of sinners is happy, for while nature carries him into that way, religious belief draws him back.  — Hilary of Poitiers

Written by Jim

05/02/2016 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Theology


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