Sure, Andy Savage Can Be Forgiven- But He Should Never Occupy A Pulpit Again

Many Christians struggle with what it means to forgive a pastor who has committed a grievous act. Recently, a Memphis megachurch pastor admitted to a “sexual incident” with a high school student 20 years ago in Texas. I’m not in a place to render judgment over another church’s matters. Yet how should we think about forgiveness of a pastor?

Christians struggle with this question because Christianity centers on the idea of forgiveness. Step one in becoming a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

When the pastor is exposed, some push the message of forgiveness. “Who of us is without sin?” they might say, drawing from Jesus in John 8. Meanwhile, others object: “But how can we trust this guy?”

I side with the second group.

Read the rest.  Good stuff.  He’s right.

This Is Why Journalists Should Leave Biblical Interpretation Alone…

Along with most people.

Baby Jesus was a Dreamer in Egypt

Jesus wasn’t a dreamer in Egypt.  He wasn’t a refugee. He wasn’t even in Egypt.  Matthew’s account has him ‘go down to Egypt’ for one reason only- so that he can make use of the text in Hosea which says ‘out of Egypt have I called my son’; i.e., to identify Jesus with Israel.  This is why journalists should leave biblical interpretation alone. They don’t know what they heck they’re doing.

Geesh.  Such stupidity.

2018 Septuagint Summer School in Salzburg

Go if you can go.

Septuaginta &c.

This summer there is a great opportunity to learn more about the Septuagint with a leading scholar in the discipline at the University of Salzburg. Now for the second year in a row, Dr. Kristin De Troyer is offering a week-long summer school dealing with textual criticism and history.

As I have said before, if you are a graduate student considering further study in Septuagint, you should consider being supervised by De Troyer in the beautiful city of Salzburg.

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The Tell All Book: From the Bible’s ‘Esther’ to ‘Fire and Fury’

Sarah Bond writes

Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White Househas been flying off shelves since its publication. In addition to bookstore purchases and Kindle downloads, the book is now also the most pirated in recent history. While the characters may be new, the genre is not.

Eyewitness exposés that report palace intrigue, backstabbing and salacious gossip are as old as civilization itself. In the ancient Mediterranean, readers similarly clamored for tell-all books that revealed the juicy details of life among the ruling elite.

The Old Testament contains an early example of writing focused on the inner workings of a palace and imperial court, though (much like Wolff) it is difficult to say if some of the tales are historical fact, fiction or a mix of the two. In the book of Esther within the Jewish Tanakhwe are introduced to a Hebrew woman named Hadassah. She is later known by her Persian name, Esther. The tale takes place during the Achaemenid dynasty of the 5th century BCE although it was likely written about two centuries later. The Achaemenids were the powerful Persian rulers of the Near East depicted rather inaccurately in the movie 300. 

Esther’s story occurs when the court was stationed in Susa, now near the border of modern Iraq and Iran. She is taken into the royal harem and lavished with cosmetics, pampering and sumptuous clothing, all while constantly attending feasts. In ancient literature and even today, how we eat can say a lot about who we are. Thus just as Persian feasting demonstrated moral decay to Jews reading the book of Esther, Wolff’s anecdote about Trump eating McDonald’s in bed for fear of being poisoned is meant by the author to reveal a princely paranoia.

Eventually, Esther’s immersion in the Persian life of luxury pays off: She becomes queen and then saves her people from being killed. Yet the book is a rather odd one within the texts that make up the Old Testament in its lack of religious focus. It does not even employ the word “Yahweh,” and is what many scholars have termed a kind of novella that reports on the differences between the Persian court and the Jewish people. It also allowed Jewish readers an insider’s look into a foreign demimonde that they did not have access to.

Etc.  Fun stuff.  Thanks Sarah!

The Defective Edition of the Bible that Fails to Mention America…

After receiving a new leather NIV Study Bible for Christmas, local man Christopher Neil was excited to crack it open Tuesday morning and check out all the helpful resources included to assist him in his Bible study.

But Neil was perplexed to discover the Bible didn’t mention America a single time.

The atlas section at the back of the Sciptures did not include a map of the United States. The man carefully looked through all sixteen printed maps, including depictions of Israel in various time periods, the entire ancient Near East, and the Mediterranean Sea, but couldn’t find a single map of the United States.

“I assume there was an error at the printers,” Neil said as he filled out a complaint form on Zondervan’s website to try to get the Bible exchanged for one that included America in its appendices and references. “These kinds of things happen sometimes. I even ordered a commentary on the book of Revelation once that didn’t reference the United States at all. What gives?”

Neil’s issues with the printing of the Bible didn’t stop with just the glaring omission of the map of the United States. The Bible included weights and measurements from the ancient world, but not a single mention of U.S. dollars, and the translators failed to replace the word “Israel” with “United States” or “America” throughout the biblical text.

“They didn’t even include the obvious interpretation of the promises of God as being for America in the footnotes,” the clearly disheartened man told reporters. “That’s a bare minimum, as far as I’m concerned.”

Neil flipped through all the gospels and couldn’t even find a single time that Jesus voted for a Republican or promised to bless America, according to sources.

“Get your act together, publishers,” he said.

It’s funny because you know there’s someone out there who actually thinks the Bible DOES mention America…  Oh, and by the way, it’s not the Bible that’s defective, it’s too much ‘Evangelical’ ‘theology’.  (Indeed, that phrase itself, ‘evangelical’ ‘theology’ has become an oxymoron).

Quote of the Day

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that`by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’. “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matt. 18:15-17)

Another Book I’ve Never Heard Of…

And apparently I don’t want to…  Via the twitter-

Bethany House and Baker Publishing Group have cancelled publication of the Andy Savage book The Ridiculously Good Marriage. It may remain on various retail web sites for a short time until those sites update.

I’ve never heard of this character so I looked him up and he’s an admitted  sexual predator / mega-church ‘pastor’.  Figures…

How a Pope Refusing to Pay a Debt Angered a Population and Made Reformation Possible

A thousand little details led to the causes of the Reformation in Zurich.  One was Zwingli’s unwillingness to support mercenary service.  Another was the desire of the Council to expand its own authority vis-a-vis Rome.  Still another was the anger of the populace about a payment to the City that Rome never made.  Here are the brief details:

On January 9, 1522, Adrian VI., the Dutch Pope, entered on his office. Known to him was the independent stand taken by Zurich, but shrewdly and kindly, for Adrian was a good man, he wrote to the Zurich authorities a pleasant letter, in which he expressed no blame, but on the contrary promised to pay the debt the papal treasury owed Zurich, when in funds. Well were it if it had been, for the money was not forthcoming, and the fact embittered the people against the papacy.

Would Zurich have broken completely with Rome if Adrian had paid?  Would the city have supported Zwingli?  It’s hard to say.  It is, though, important to remember that nothing ever happens because of one simple reason.  Not even Reformation.

Disability and Youth Ministry Conference

In theology and ministry with young people, disability is often treated as a problem to be solved. Christian leaders approach people with disabilities as a target audience in need of integration into traditional church programming, rather than as full-fledged members of Christian community. But what would happen if the Church were to invest in and affirm young people with disabilities as active members of the body of Christ? How might the Church be reformed and reshaped by God’s work in young people with disabilities? Join the Institute for Youth Ministry for this 2-day event where we will engage both scholars and practitioners, striving to create an interdisciplinary conversation that makes a difference in a world of difference.


Calvin’s Chief Contribution to the Church Was as a Commentator

I think this is absolutely on target-

It was as a Commentator that Calvin reigned supreme in his day, and, for that matter survives to-day. Beginning with his work on Romans while in Strassburg, in 1540, he continued until the year of his death in Geneva, with his work on Joshua. A more extensive series, and one more clear and marked with spiritual insight, and more modern in method, was not produced by the age of the Reformation. Next to the Institutes and to the work of the Academy, Calvin’s Commentaries rank for influence in the spread of his ideas throughout Europe and America.*

Commentaries for the Church- that’s where the real work is done.  I truly believe that.

*Richard Taylor Stevenson, John Calvin: The Statesman (Cincinnati; new York: Jennings and Graham; Eaton and Mains, 1907), 171.