Category Archives: Theology

It’s The Anniversary of Walther Zimmerli’s Birth

zimmerliOn this day in 1907 Walther Zimmerli was born.  He

was Professor of Old Testament at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and one of the most important biblical scholars of the twentieth century. Among his many publications in English are Ezekiel, 2 vols. (Hermeneia; Fortress Press, 1979/1983), I Am Yahweh (1982), The Old Testament and the World (1976), and The Law and the Prophets (1965).

Three of his works are still in print and those which aren’t can usually be tracked down at places like Alibris.com or Powells.

He was really a tremendous intellect and though some of his ideas have fallen out of favor, he is one of those giants on whose shoulders we all stand and we can only see as far as we do because he came before us.

It’s Not the Church That Has Abdicated, It’s The ‘Progressive’ ‘Christians’

The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam, It’s Robert Jeffress and His Ilk

In a mildly boring post about the imprecatory Psalms someone writes

… as we see such things as the Islamic threats to the church continue, the Chinese church suffering threats and persecution, and increased hostility toward the church in the West, we need to learn to pray prayers strong enough to meet the challenges and humble enough to cast our full dependency on God. The Lord has given us such prayers right in the heart of our Bibles, the very prayer language of the Holy Spirit. Will the church pray them?

The greatest threat to the Church isn’t Islam, or the government of China, or any of the things this essay mentions. It’s fake Christians. Pretend, hypocritical, politically driven, power craving unbelieving wolves wearing the clothing of sheep. That is the greatest threat.  Robert Jeffress and his ilk pose a greater threat to Christianity than Islam ever has.  Or ever will.  Because he and they are a cancer within the body.

American Political Pseudo-Christianity as Viewed from the Other Side of the Atlantic

Read this.  It’s quite rightly said.

Quote of the Day

Tip: When someone says that a biblical interpretation is “wonderfully contemporary” it is almost certainly a wonderfully incorrect interpretation. – Christian Brady

Wahrheit – Glaube – Geltung: Theologische und philosophische Konkretionen

In einer Zeit, in der sich unterschiedliche und zuweilen widersprechende Wahrheiten nahezu täglich neu Geltung verschaffen, müssen die Wahrheits- und Geltungsansprüche des christlichen Glaubens überprüft und in einer steten Interpretation der biblischen Texte vergegenwärtigt werden. Sich in den vielfältigen Deutungen der Großbegriffe zu orientieren und theologische und philosophische Konkretionen zu formulieren, hat sich die 20. Jahrestagung der Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft für Hermeneutische Theologie zur Aufgabe gemacht. Der Sammelband dokumentiert deren Erträge.

20 Jahre waren auch Anlass für eine Rückschau. Neben zwei Beiträgen der beiden Vorsitzenden findet sich deshalb auch eine Übersicht zu den Vorstandsmitgliedern sowie zu den Themen und Vorträgen der Jahrestagungen. 

Mit Beiträgen von Volker Gerhardt, Corinna Körting, Michael Labahn, Malte Dominik Krüger, Isolde Karle, Ulrich H. J. Körtner und Christof Landmesser.

What If….

What if everyone at the Church you attended was a member just like you?  What would that Church look like?  Would it be empty except at Easter and Christmas?  Would Sunday School have anyone in attendance?  Would the offering plate be passed along with scarcely a dollar placed in it for the ministries of the Church?  Would the Pastor be encouraged or defeated?  Would anyone ever be invited to join the congregation for worship?  Would Wednesday Evening services need to be cancelled due to lack of interest and involvement?  Would the Church even need to bother opening its doors?

What if the Church you attended was filled with members just exactly like you?  Just as committed as you?  Just as willing to contribute as you?  Just as willing to work as you?  Just as willing to pray as you?  Just as willing to study the Bible as you?  What if the Church you attended looked just like you?

Many Christians seem to believe that doing Church is up to everyone else.  Let others invite their friends to worship; let others put more than a dollar in the plate to see that the work of ministry is funded; let others pray; let others study Scripture; let others work in VBS; let others attend regularly.  Let others, in short, be involved, engaged, and committed.

But what about you?  Why not you?  Why let others do all the heavy lifting, all the witnessing, all the praying, all the studying, all the working, all the teaching, all the giving while you reap the benefits of it all and are privileged to attend, when your heart seems to prod you to it, a Church that’s doing the work and Word of Christ?

You will want others to pray for you sometime; why not pray for others now.  You will want to know what Scripture says about some issue when you confront it; why not study it now.  You will want ministry at some point; why not be involved in ministry now.  You will want your kids and grandkids to be in VBS; why not work in VBS now?

The real question, I suppose, that every Christian (who actually is a Christian) needs to ask him or herself is, why am I less committed to Christ than I should be?  What have I found in Christ that is so reprehensible that I am unwilling to give myself to him as he has given himself for me?

What if the Church were filled with people like you?

‘Good’ Christians? Maybe Not…

Photo by Dr Nicholas Hardy, courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

‘Good’ Christians don’t enable evil men. Bad Christians do.

Jesus Didn’t Tell us to Be ‘Christians’, He Told us to be Disciples

‘If you want to be my disciples, take up your cross and follow me’ (Jesus) was never intended to mean ‘If you want to be a Christian, do as you please and call yourself mine’.  Indeed, ‘Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’.

The problem with many Europeans, and many Americans, is that they think they belong to Jesus and they don’t.  If they did, they would ‘keep his commandments’.  Full stop.

Spiritual Truths from Nature

A wildebeest that stays with the herd is safe whilst a wildebeest that peels off from the herd is more subject to being killed by a pack of hyena.

The truth?

Christians that stay connected to the community of faith are safer than those who think they don’t need to be part of the Church.

On False Brethren

“Although this Church is never completely free from hypocrites and godless, yet she is bound both to unmask hypocrites so far as she can and by the keys committed to her by Christ to exclude the godless from her company according to Christ’s prescription, Mt. 18:17 (if he refuse to hear witnesses, tell it unto the church; and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican), Rev. 2:2 (… that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them which call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false) … (I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication); but powerfully to recall actual believers, who have relapsed into defection of life or faith, to serious repentance through the same discipline, as St. Paul advises, 1 Cor. 5:5 (deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus).” — Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics.

Quote of the Day: On Eternal Damnation

“It is rightly said that we are saved because of election; but it cannot with equal fitness be said that certain are damned because of reprobation. Election is the positive principium of salvation, but reprobation strictly speaking is not a principle but the removal of a principle. Nor can it be said strictly that men were ordained from eternity to damnation, unless with this addition: on account of sin”.  — Keckermann, in Heinrich Heppe’s Refromed Dogmatics.

Fun Facts From Church History: Why The State Should Keeps Its Nose Out of the Church

If ever there were evidence that the State has no business dictating to the Church its behavior it is this event of 4 January, 1538-

Although the civil rulers of Geneva at first co-operated to the best of their ability with Calvin, opposition soon arose. Crypto-Catholics, some of them belonging to prominent families, and the so-called Libertines, as well as partisans of Farel like Ami Porral and others, opposed the strict discipline which Calvin sought to impose upon their city.

When on January 4, 1538, the Council of Two Hundred voted “that the Supper be refused to no one,” thus offering a direct affront to Calvin and Farel who had vehemently insisted upon the exclusive right of the church and its clergy to determine admission to or exclusion from the Lord’s Supper, the opposition took on serious character. A few months later, on April 22, 1538, the Council ordered Calvin and Farel to leave the city of Geneva within three days. Thus ended Calvin’s first attempt to put into practice his high church ideal.*

The State has as much business dictating the terms of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper as it does dictating the terms of Church membership.  But when you give the State an inch, it’s happy to take a thousand miles.

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*W. Mueller, Church and state in Luther and Calvin: A Comparative Study (p. 109).

Your Sanctification

Your justification isn’t dependent on your obedience- but your sanctification is.

The War Against Heresy

Luther writes

[There is a] war against heresy, against heathenism, against human traditions.  That the [heretics] use Scripture as we do gives them a very wicked weapon. The battle, then, is over the correct use of Scripture, not over Scripture itself.

Citing Scripture isn’t sufficient.  Even the devil and his heretics can do that.  Correctly citing Scripture is the key, and that the heretics cannot do since they lack the Spirit.  As Paul puts it

The Spirit we have received is not the spirit of the world but God’s own Spirit, so that we may understand the lavish gifts God has given us.  And these are what we speak of, not in the terms learnt from human philosophy, but in terms learnt from the Spirit, fitting spiritual language to spiritual things. The natural person has no room for the gifts of God’s Spirit; to him they are folly; he cannot recognise them, because their value can be assessed only in the Spirit.  The spiritual person, on the other hand, can assess the value of everything, and that person’s value cannot be assessed by anybody else.  For: who has ever known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever been his adviser? But we are those who have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:12-16)

‘The Body’

The current fascination with the ‘body’ in some corners of theological and biblical studies has more to do with the abandonment of the soul/ spirit than anything else. Simply put, paltry, empty, ultimately meaningless materialism is in fashion again.

Karl Barth’s Best Work, To Read in Barth Year 2019…

Is the Göttingen Dogmatics.  Because it’s sharp and clear and to the point: his dogmatics, in 3 volumes, including eschatology:

Here Barth is at his intellectual peak.  From here, it was all down hill (and verbose).

2019: My Motto

If you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either. (Matt. 6:15)

Given that, I am going to make every effort to be more forgiving in 2019.  Furthermore, if I have mistreated you then I wish to begin the year with your forgiveness too.

I cannot repent of truth-telling (for that would be a betrayal that I cannot achieve).  But I can repent of and seek forgiveness for truth-telling absent love which seeks the betterment and reformation of the other.

So, I’ll still be telling the truth in 2019.  I just aim to be less graceless in the execution of truth-telling.

Holding the Line and Manning the Post

We all, the disciples of the Crucified and Risen Lord, are stationed at our posts with the task of holding the line against the onslaught of the Kingdom of Darkness.  We either do that with all our might, or we lay down our weapons and let evil seep through and into our corner of the world.

True Distress

Few things are more truly distressing than to see the utter dearth of knowledge and understanding born of poor reading habits among theologians and biblical scholars. Few read good things and their minds are thus filled with regurgitated idiocy.

Read substance, sisters and brothers.  Read substance.