Zwinglius Redivivus

Nihil salvum esse potest, donec rabies. – John Calvin

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Signs of the Times

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Today not one in one thousand share that sentiment:

via Christian History

Written by Jim

17 Sep 2018 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Theology

Quote of the Month

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“My plea is simply this: every theological idea which makes an impression upon you must be regarded as a challenge to your faith. Do not assume as a matter of course that you believe whatever impresses you theologically and enlightens you intellectually. Otherwise suddenly you are believing no longer in Jesus Christ, but in Luther, or in one of your other theological teachers.” — Helmut Thielicke  — (Via Leo Percer)

Take that seriously.

Written by Jim

15 Sep 2018 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Theology

Mallei Hereticorum…

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“It is not enough for the ministers of the gospel to have devoured many books of learning, to be able to decide polemical questions in divinity, to convince gainsayers, to be doctors angelical, subtle or profound: to be mallei hereticorum—the hammers of heretics.

Unless also they have the experimental works of God’s Spirit upon their own souls, they are not able to apply themselves to the hearts of others. Paul had not been able to comfort others, if the Lord had not practically acquainted him with heavenly consolations.” — Burgesse

Written by Jim

15 Sep 2018 at 7:39 am

Posted in Theology

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

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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!

Written by Jim

14 Sep 2018 at 6:49 am

Posted in Luther, Theology

Quote of the Day

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“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.

Written by Jim

12 Sep 2018 at 11:31 am

Posted in Theology

Quote of the Day

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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.

Written by Jim

8 Sep 2018 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Theology

Scripture and Theology: Or, Why Most Modern Theology is Crap

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If your theology isn’t rooted in Scripture it isn’t theology, it’s philosophy pretending to be theologically minded. But it isn’t. It’s crap.  And the fact that most modern theology isn’t rooted in Scripture is the precise reason that most modern theology is crap.

Written by Jim

6 Sep 2018 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Theology

From the Aforementioned Volume

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“One does not become a spiritualist by speaking about the Holy Spirit in another way than Luther did. Luther did not understand this.” –  Willem van’t Spijker

Written by Jim

3 Sep 2018 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Books, Theology

A Bit of Calvin to Start Your Day

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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

Written by Jim

27 Aug 2018 at 7:46 am

Posted in Calvin, Theology

Let Jerome Zanchius Cheer You Up and Send You Out to Your Day With a Happy Heart

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God did from all eternity decree to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and his benefits.
For the clearing of this, let it be observed, that in all ages the much greater part of mankind have been destitute even of the external means of grace; have not been favoured with the preaching of God’s word, or any revelation of his will. — Jerome Zanchius

That’s probably you.  You’re welcome!

Written by Jim

23 Aug 2018 at 7:02 am

Posted in Theology

Quote of the Day

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“If Jesus preached the same message some minister’s preach today, He would have never been crucified.” Leonard Ravenhill

Written by Jim

22 Aug 2018 at 6:39 am

Posted in Theology

If Theologians Were Weapons…

  • barth – a pellet gun
  • brunner- a pen knife
  • jerome – a carpet bomber
  • augustine – a tiny kitten
  • calvin – an A-bomb
  • zwingli- a neutron bomb
  • wright – a flatulence-ing
  • luther – a world ending machine like on superman
  • schleiermacher – a sock with two quarters in it
  • bultmann – an ICBM
  • st john- brass knuckles
  • st peter- a guard dog
  • st paul- a tranquilizer dart

Feel free to add your own theologians to the list.

Written by Jim

18 Aug 2018 at 9:04 am

Posted in Theology

Loss of Faith

When human beings do terrible things in the name of God or as representatives of God, and someone ‘loses their faith’ because of it- that person’s faith was never in God, it was in a person or persons and by all rights should be lost.

Misplaced faith is no faith at all and it certainly is not saving faith.  Real faith has God as its object and the deeds or words of mere humans have no impact on it at all.

Written by Jim

17 Aug 2018 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Theology

Quote of the Day

When laws are proposed or enacted that are contrary to the Word of God, it is the duty of the church in proclamation and official pronouncement to oppose and condemn them. —Dr. John Murray

Written by Jim

17 Aug 2018 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Theology

When Your ‘Church’ is a Corporation, You Focus on Baptisms, Not on Disciples

Of the 50,000 people Saddleback claims to have baptized, how many of them are disciples of the Crucified and Risen Lord?  Jesus doesn’t tell us to make baptizands, he tells us to make disciples.  The true ‘measure of success’ in the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with baptisms, or offerings, or mission trips, or gas cards given out, or school supplies provided, or any of the metrics the world uses to determine ‘success’.

In the Kingdom of God what’s demanded is discipleship.  So again, how many of these 50,000 are disciples?

Oh to be sure Rick Warren and all the Rick Warren wannebes occupying pulpits across America can feel pretty good about themselves if they can boast of their thousands of baptisms.  And for them, that’s what matters.  But they aren’t like Jesus who said

No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple. ‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him and saying, “Here is someone who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who was advancing against him with twenty thousand?  If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace.  So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns. (Lk. 14:27-33)

And they aren’t like Paul, who said

I am thankful I did not baptise any of you, except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptised in my name. Yes, I did baptise the family of Stephanas, too; but besides these I do not think I baptised anyone. After all, Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel; and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless. The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:14-18)

No- rather, they are like the King of Tyre, who like them loved to boast and to whom God says

Your heart has grown proud because of your beauty, your wisdom has been corrupted by your splendour. I have thrown you to the ground; I have made you a spectacle for kings. By the immense number of your crimes, by the dishonesty of your trading, you have defiled your sanctuary. So I have brought fire out of you to devour you; I have reduced you to ashes on the ground before the eyes of all who saw you. Of the nations, all who know you are stunned at your fate. You are an object of terror; gone for ever.” ‘ (Ezek. 28:17-19)

Pride precedes destruction and a haughty spirit a fall.  And nothing is more prideful than boasting in the accomplishment of facade.

Written by Jim

13 Aug 2018 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Theology

People Leave Churches…

99% of the time they don’t do it because of the Pastor.  They do it because they can’t get along with other people, and so rather than reconcile (as Matthew 18 would have them to do) they run.

In sum, they prefer running to reconciliation and the ugly fact is, they will run in spite of anything and everything that has been done for them in terms of ministry and help and support.  You can sit by their dying grandma’s bedside, attend them when they’re sad or lonely, comfort them when their child dies or their parent, or be there for them when everyone else has abandoned them, and they will still run.  For, sadly, at the end of the day, it never really is about the community of faith for the 99%, it is about themselves.  Always.

Written by Jim

11 Aug 2018 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Theology

The Foes of Truth…

…  find great difficulty in refuting the enemies of pure and sound doctrine: possessed of serpentine lubricity, they escape by the most artful expedients, unless they are vigorously pursued, and held fast when once caught.  — John Calvin

Preach it, John!  Or, put in language that our precious teens can grasp, the enemies of truth are slippery and evasive and sneaky and they do whatever they can to escape when cornered by the facts.  They have to be held down by force.

Think, for example, of David Barton.

Written by Jim

10 Aug 2018 at 8:23 am

Posted in Calvin, Theology

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The Blinding Force of Self-Love

zw941.jpgMay everyone learn to know himself—by another in no wise is one known—although the defenses of self-love are so strong that very few persons, if any at all, break through to a knowledge of their own selves.

Under no other teacher or guide than God alone, the builder of man, will it ever be granted to see the secrets of the human heart. For as He created man, so He knows all the headwaters of his cunning and the source whence they come. All of which Jeremiah signified by the words [17:9]: “Who can know it?” doubtless not supposing that any one would venture to avouch that he had knowledge of it, except the God who fashioned it. Hence, at once, he adds: “I, the Lord, who search the heart and try the reins.”

From the Lord God, therefore, the Creator of man, is the knowledge of man to be sought, no less than the knowledge of Himself, though for different reasons. The knowledge of God is denied to our understanding because of its feebleness and His glory and splendor, but the knowledge of man, because of his boldness and readiness in lying and dissembling, as has been said.*

“Know Thyself”?  Socrates, that’s not possible.  We don’t know who or what we are until God reveals it to us.  Self love blinds us so thoroughly that we can’t see clearly enough to know anything until, like Paul, after his experience on the road to Damascus, God opens our eyes.

____________________________
*The Latin works of Huldreich Zwingli, Volume 3. (C. N. Heller, Ed.) (p. 76). Philadelphia: Heidelberg Press.

Written by Jim

10 Aug 2018 at 8:21 am

I’m An Atheist Too, Michael

I admit it, I’m an atheist. But by that I simply mean I’m with the Apostle Paul: “There is no God but one. Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:4-6).

Read Michael’s post at the conclusion of which he writes that paragraph.  He’s not 100% on the mark, but he’s in the 95-98% range.

Written by Jim

9 Aug 2018 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Theology

Approaching the Study of Theology: An Introduction to Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods & Debates

Back in April I received a prepublication edition of this book. I’m reposting the review now after having received the published version which has just arrived. Sections marked UPDATE are new material for the present posting:

From the opening pages of the Bible, we learn of God as one who communicates with humankind—offering us first steps toward knowledge of the divine, the very foothold of theology. On this basis, Approaching the Study of Theology presents an engaging introduction to the breadth and depth of the study of theology, mapping the significant landmarks as well as the main areas of debate.

The book is divded into three parts:

Part I (Approaches) describes the major approaches to theology that have emerged and developed over time.

Part II (Concepts and Issues) explains the major concepts and issues, identifying theologians associated with each.

Part III (Key Terms) provides a helpful glossary of all the key terms that readers need to understand in order to better understand theology.

IVP have sent along a prepublication draft of this new work by Professor Thiselton.  In my review please note that no page numbers will be included because the draft manuscript includes none.

The work consists of an overview of theological trends in the introduction.  This overview discusses the biblical roots of theology and a description of  the major periods of theological development. Part One is very much akin to a ‘bible dictionary’ which lists, in alphabetical sequence, methodological approaches to theology including biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, political theology, and systematic theology among others.  Part Two adopts the same alphabetical sequencing but it’s concern is ‘Concepts and Issues’ like Atonement, Authority of the Bible, Justification, Resurrection of the Dead, etc.  These discussions, like those of part one, tend to be full and ‘encyclopedic’.  Indeed, part two is the bulk of the volume.  The third part of the volume, Key Terms, is simply a glossary.

The presentation is, necessarily, very general.  That is, each concept, term, method, etc. is described in quite sweeping terms.  The work aims to introduce, and merely introduce, the basics of theological enquiry.  The details are relatively accurate overall but sometimes they are incredibly inaccurate.

One glaring problem is what Thiselton writes about the Marburg conference:

In 1529 it became clear that there were disagreements among the Reformers on the nature of the Lord’s Supper.  Deeply concerned for Reformation unity, Luther sought a friendly conference with Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Bullinger (sic !)at Marburg. He did his best to achieve a united witness but Zwingli and others held firm in their beliefs…

The problems here are multiple: Luther didn’t seek any conference, friendly or otherwise, with Zwingli.  He was essentially forced into meeting with Zwingli and the others by Prince Philip.  He never wanted to participate and told friends on numerous occasions that the whole thing would be a waste of time.  He even wrote the Margrave thusly

I am indeed absolutely convinced that Your Sovereign Grace is completely sincere and has the best of intentions. For this reason I, too, am ready and willing to render my services in this, Your Sovereign Grace’s Christian undertaking, though I fear [my services] may be futile and perhaps dangerous for us. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: 230.)

Luther wasn’t interested in the meeting and thought it was a bad idea.

Further, Bullinger wasn’t there (see below).  And it wasn’t Luther who wanted to achieve a united witness but, again, the Prince and neither was it the others who were most intransigent- it was Luther.  In sum, then, the portrait of Luther here is totally wrong.  Thiselton simply misstates nearly every fact.

UPDATE:  the published version corrects the Bullinger error and replaces it with Bucer, rightly.  But the rest of the paragraph remains problematic.

As mentioned just above, the draft contains one particular error that I have reported to the publisher in hopes that there is still time before printing to correct it: Thiselton remarks, wrongly, that the conference in Marburg included Zwingli, Luther, and Bullinger (!).   Bullinger will be quite surprised to learn that.  Having offered a correction I’m happy to say that, thankfully, the editor has indeed agreed that this is an error (in consultation with the author) and have asserted that it will be corrected before the printing is completed.

The rest of the volume is not free of such egregious mistakes either, though.  For instance, in his treatment in part 3 of terms, Thiselton writes

The Greek words daimon and daimonion occur over 1200 times each and the verb daimonizomai over 1200 times in the Synoptic Gospels.

This is simply untrue.  ‘daimon’ doesn’t occur at all.  δαιμόνιον occurs only 15 times. δαιμονίου occurs 4 times.  And the verbal form δαιμονίζεται occurs but once.  In fact, δαιμον* in all its various forms only occurs 78 times in the entire New Testament.

UPDATE: The published edition retains these errors.  Regrettably.  Consequently, what I wrote concerning the pre-publication draft is still true of the published version:

Thiselton has written a volume that contains much that is useful.  But readers should fact-check his assertions via other resources.  He isn’t always accurate.

Written by Jim

7 Aug 2018 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Book Review, Books, Theology