Category Archives: Theology

Christian Twitter and Facebook Aren’t All That Into Christian Theology

Christian twitter and facebook are 9 times more likely to ‘retweet’ and ‘like’ a non-theological post than they are to retweet or like a theological post. #FactsOfLife

Need proof?  Post a cute kid pic or funny meme and then a little later post a theological quotation or observation or even a verse of Scripture and see which one Christian twitter / facebook shares…

Fun Facts from Church History: Sitting on God’s Lap, We Often Befoul Him

Sitting at his table,

luther09The doctor [Luther] took his son on his lap, and the child befouled him. Thereupon he [Luther] said, “How our Lord God has to put up with many a murmur and stink from us, worse than a mother must endure from her child!”

Luther’s greatness lay in the fact that everything was theologically instructive for him. Everything. Would that a generation of theologians would rise up today who actually, like Luther, thought theologically!

Trinitarian Ontology Conference- Day One

Quote of the Day

“In the last resort I do not trust any theological teacher—except perhaps a professional in exegesis or history—who has not spent a long time as a pastor, visited the old and sick, buried children and young people and had to preach to the congregation every Sunday.” – Dietrich Ritschl

Indeed, because such ‘theologians’ are Monday morning quarterbacks at best.

‘Never Forget…’

I’ve been thinking about the events in American history that we are constantly told we should remember.  ‘Remember the Alamo.’  ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’.  ‘Remember 9/11’.   And I’ve been wondering exactly why it is that we should do so.

The answer, generally, is ‘so that it never happens again’.   So what never happens again?  An attack?  How, pray tell, will our remembering inhibit or stop an attack?  ‘We can be prepared’.  Really?  We were prepared for the Alamo and it didn’t do us much good.  We had some hints of Pearl Harbor but of course that didn’t matter.  We even had intimations of 9/11 when terrorists attempted to blow up the world trade center a decade earlier.  But none of that prepared us for any of those events, did it.

No, I think the reason America wants to remember events like those is so that we can hold on to our mistrust or even hatred of Mexicans, or Japanese, or Muslims.  And, by the way, why don’t we want to remember the slaughter of Native Americans?  The trail of tears? The internment of Japanese Americans during world war 2?  Why don’t we want to remember those?  Because we weren’t victims.  Others were.  We want to remember our victimhood and our prejudice.

The funny thing is that the Bible only asks us to remember two things:  The Passover, and the Last Supper.  The only time Jesus ever says ‘remember’ is when he says ‘remember me as often as you eat it…’.  When it comes to remembering terrible things it explicitly says that God ‘remembers our sins no more’.

So why do we want to remember terrible things?  We can’t prevent other terrible things by doing so.  I think, again, that we do it so that we can justify our prejudices.  Against Mexicans, Japanese, Muslims, or whoever wrongs us.  Never mind the wrong we do…

We’re a people in contradiction.  We are Menschen im Widerspruch.  And we will always be such, until we ‘remember their sins no more.’

Why Commemorating 9/11 Matters, Theologically

Because 9/11/2019 may be the day that the whole world finally comes to its senses, the lightbulb finally snaps on, and it realizes the folly of war, and every government on the planet ‘beat their spears into pruning hooks’.

God willing.

Things the Angels Say: On 9/11

angels

Bullinger, on Suicide: Or, Why You Need to Read W.P. Stephens’ ‘The Theology of Heinrich Bullinger’

Stephens writes

With suicide Bullinger begins with those whose minds are sound, but who, governed by impatience, greed, and weariness of life, do not turn to God but kill themselves in their despair. They are, he says, the most wretched people in the world, having shown that they have no faith or hope in God. By contrast, those who end their own lives through sickness and madness must be protected and be given medical care.We are to pray God to have mercy on them and we are not to condemn them, even when they speak improperly of God. Those who do not care for their own, so that they take their life, are more guilty than those who take their own life, but who do not know what they are doing. God will not hold this against them. At the same time Bullinger urges people while they are of sound mind to put their affairs in order with God, so that if their minds are later disturbed their salvation will not be affected.

And that’s just one gem in a literal mine of them.

Quote of the Day

When you read ancient Christians, you notice: We talk a lot about Christ sharing in our sufferings. They talk more about our sharing in his. – Andrew Wilson

The difference between the ancient Church and the modern in one simple sentence.

Quote of the Day

“Theology, viewed as a discipline and concretely, is a divinely given discipline, bestowed upon man by the Holy Spirit through the Word, whereby he is not only instructed in the knowledge of divine mysteries, by the illumination of the mind, so that what he understands produces a salutary effect upon his heart and the actions of his life, but so that he is also rendered ready and expert in informing others concerning these divine mysteries and the way of salvation, and in vindicating heavenly truth from the aspersions of its foes; so that men, resplendent with true faith and good works, are introduced into the kingdom of heaven.” – Johann Gerhard

The Proper Subject of Theology…

Is God.  So why do so many modern theologians spend all of their time talking about their feelings?

If You Are a Church Member, You Need to Realize Something….

Pastors are human beings and they can only endure so much.  Trust me.  When they reach their breaking point, they break.

We were talking about several situations in local churches today at a pastor’s get together.  In one instance one of our area pastors walked into his church this past Sunday, and when he gets to the pulpit at the beginning of the service, he looks around, and says ‘I can’t do this anymore’. He then looks over at his wife and says ‘get your things, we’re leaving’. And they walked out. The church had dwindled to a dozen or less a Sunday and giving tanked. He could take their indifference no longer.

I realize that it’s fashionable for people to talk about the harm pastors do to congregants.  And we should be talking about, and denouncing abusive, perverted pastors.  They need to go. They are a cancer on the body of Christ.  But for every perverted pastor there are thousands of pastors who are the victims of their own congregation’s ill treatment, mistreatment, and downright emotional abuse.

The harm done to pastors by congregations needs to be discussed just as much as the harm done by pastors to congregants. Maybe more, because there are a whole lot more pastors who are mistreated by churches than there are church members mistreated by pastors. a WHOLE LOT more.

So maybe while you’re justifiably lamenting the singular pastor who abuses a woman or girl, man or boy in his congregation, you could also give a thought to the thousands of pastors who are the victims of abuse by congregants and congregations.  After all, the suicide rate among pastors is climbing exponentially, and congregational mistreatment plays a central role in it.

Rebranding the Church….

Quote of the Century

“What is the good of words if they aren’t important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn’t any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn’t there be a quarrel about a word? If you’re not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about? Are you going to convey your meaning to me by moving your ears? The Church and the heresies always used to fight about words, because they are the only thing worth fighting about.” – G.K. Chesterton

(With thanks to Christian Brady)

There’s No Such Thing as a Christian ‘Sex Shop’

In spite of any claim to the contrary.  Sex, for Christians, is the good gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of marriage.  Between two people.  Not one person and artificial products.  The use of implements as a replacement for or substitute for the intimacy involved in authentic expressions of love is fundamentally disordered.

The distortion of sex by substitutionary means is yet another marker of human depravity and the trading in of the good gift of God for a cheap fraudulent inauthentic substitute.

Zwingli on Hypocrisy

Zwingli astutely notes, concerning hypocrisy-

… those who are a prey to obstinate hypocrisy can never be persuaded by the most skillful argument to confess what they really feel and have in their hearts. Yet the more persistently they refuse, the more certainly are they understood by the spiritual physician. For “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” [1 Cor. 2:15].

Now – as a friend of mine says – ‘that’s some deep thoughts there dear heart’.

Quote of the Day

“To advance [any Bible translation] into an equality with the originals … is to set up an altar of our own by the altar of God, and to make equal the wisdom, care, skill, and diligence of men, with the wisdom, care, and providence of God himself” — John Owen

Tell your KJV only friends.

Calvin: on Facing Adversity

I’ve always found this passage from Calvin’s Institutes quite good:

Innumerable are the ills which beset human life, and present death in as many different forms. Not to go beyond ourselves, since the body is a receptacle, nay the nurse, of a thousand diseases, a man cannot move without carrying along with him many forms of destruction. His life is in a manner interwoven with death.

For what else can be said where heat and cold bring equal danger? Then, in what direction soever you turn, all surrounding objects not only may do harm, but almost openly threaten and seem to present immediate death. Go on board a ship, you are but a plank’s breadth from death. Mount a horse, the stumbling of a foot endangers your life. Walk along the streets, every tile upon the roofs is a source of danger. If a sharp instrument is in your own hand, or that of a friend, the possible harm is manifest.

All the savage beasts you see are so many beings armed for your destruction. Even within a high walled garden, where everything ministers to delight, a serpent will sometimes lurk. Your house, constantly exposed to fire, threatens you with poverty by day, with destruction by night. Your fields, subject to hail, mildew, drought, and other injuries, denounce barrenness, and thereby famine. I say nothing of poison, treachery, robbery, some of which beset us at home, others follow us abroad.

Amid these perils, must not man be very miserable, as one who, more dead than alive, with difficulty draws an anxious and feeble breath, just as if a drawn sword were constantly suspended over his neck? It may be said that these things happen seldom, at least not always, or to all, certainly never all at once. I admit it; but since we are reminded by the example of others, that they may also happen to us, and that our life is not an exception any more than theirs, it is impossible not to fear and dread as if they were to befall us.

What can you imagine more grievous than such trepidation? Add that there is something like an insult to God when it is said, that man, the noblest of the creatures, stands exposed to every blind and random stroke of fortune. Here, however, we were only referring to the misery which man should feel, were he placed under the dominion of chance.

But when once the light of Divine Providence has illumined the believer’s soul, he is relieved and set free, not only from the extreme fear and anxiety which formerly oppressed him, but from all care. For as he justly shudders at the idea of chance, so he can confidently commit himself to God.

This, I say, is his comfort, that his heavenly Father so embraces all things under his power—so governs them at will by his nod—so regulates them by his wisdom, that nothing takes place save according to his appointment; that received into his favour, and entrusted to the care of his angels, neither fire, nor water, nor sword, can do him harm, except in so far as God their master is pleased to permit.  Institutes I,17,10-11.

We have a Cover, and We are Working Through the Final Page Proofs…

So soon, Professor Stephens’ magnum opus will be available to the public.  As soon as there’s a web page for it, you’ll know.

A Bit of Calvin to Start Your Day

All men of sound judgment will therefore hold, that a sense of Deity is indelibly engraven on the human heart. And that this belief is naturally engendered in all, and thoroughly fixed as it were in our very bones, is strikingly attested by the contumacy of the wicked, who, though they struggle furiously, are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God. – Calvin