Public Apology to Tristan and Paul Rimmer

Another Angle

Dear Paul Rimmer,

I was devastated to read the letter that you posted on Facebook this morning. Every week we welcome thousands of people to services in King’s Chapel and we do our best to meet all their various needs and expectations.  Sometimes we fail and I realise that we especially failed you and Tristan on Sunday afternoon.  I apologise for that most sincerely.

Since hearing of your experience I have looked into what happened and now more fully appreciate that that there is more that we can do to support and help the staff who are responsible for the welcome that we give those who come to share our services with us.  This is one of the reasons that I have written to you asking if you might be prepared to meet with me. I’m sure that your insights and connections could help us do better in the future…

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Son of God: Divine Sonship in Jewish and Christian Antiquity

In antiquity, “son of god”—meaning a ruler designated by the gods to carry out their will—was a title used by the Roman emperor Augustus and his successors as a way to reinforce their divinely appointed status. But this title was also used by early Christians to speak about Jesus, borrowing the idiom from Israelite and early Jewish discourses on monarchy. This interdisciplinary volume explores what it means to be God’s son(s) in ancient Jewish and early Christian literature.

New from Eisenbrauns and of potential interest to all of you.

Emidio Campi Remembers Irena Backus

Irena’s passing is a terrible loss for all of us, and she will be missed very deeply by everybody who knew her, particularly those who, like me, had the good fortune to have her as close colleague. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.

In recent times so many good friends and colleagues have passed away that there is reason to grieve. Irena was one of them, and many other dear companions, relatives and colleagues belong to them. The memento mori is imprinted on us. Despite our sadness, it is true what the Psalmist says: “I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being.” (Ps 146,2)

Emidio Campi

Our Lying Government

The government of the United States often lies in order to justify conflicts. We cannot take the government at its word. Let that sink in.

Sad News: Irena Backus Has Died

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Irena Backus, on June 14, 2019. Irena was a leading scholar of the Genevan Reformation, and she will be sorely missed. 

The theology faculty of the University of Geneva has provided a brief obituary:

We have just learned with great sadness the death of Professor Irena Backus, honorary professor of our faculty, at the age of 69

Originally from Poland, doctor of theology of the University of Oxford (1976), she was engaged in 1982 by the IHR, at the school of professor Pierre Fraenkel, successively as a research officer, as master assistant then as master of Teaching and research. She was later named Professor (1992), then an ordinary professor (2006). Throughout her scholarly career, Irena conducted research on the intellectual history of the Reformation. She has published several texts (like the tasty treatise on the relics of Calvin) and published, in addition to a hundred articles, a dozen monographs (both in English and French), especially on the reception of the Church Fathers in the century of reforms (the rero catalogue provides no less than 149 entries to its name! ). Irena Backus gave several courses in the Faculty of Theology, in Latin, and in the history of Christianity, and directed some master’s memoirs (license) and several Ph.D. theses. The students who had the chance to benefit from her knowledge will not forget the interest she brought to their work, her acute sense of the historical method, or the immense span of her knowledge.

In 2014, Irena Backus was the victim of a severe cerebral vascular stroke that suddenly and prematurely excluded her from academic life. The Faculty owes the memory of Irena a very deep sense of recognition.

We express to Guy Backus, her husband, our long-standing sympathy. A funeral service will be held in intimacy, but people who would like to express their condolences to Guy Backus can send a message to his address:  Villa Mona, 14 ch. Etienne-Chennaz, 1226 Thônex.


Via the Reformation Research Society.

Signs of the Times

The Deaths of Churches: An Observation

Churches die for three simple reasons: people stop attending; people stop ministering; people stop financially supporting. It’s easy to kill a congregation. Just stay home, refuse to minister, and keep your money for yourself.

Zwingli’s Daily Schedule

oecolampadius_zwingliZwingli’s biographer writes of his daily schedule thusly:

His mode of life is thus described, and the description is true of his remaining years: he rose early, and studied, standing up, till 10 o’clock; after dinner, which commonly at that time in Zurich came on at 11 A.M., until 2 P.M., he was free to all who came; from 2 P.M. till supper-time he studied; after supper he walked out a little; then returned to study or to write letters, which latter occupation sometimes kept him up till midnight.

He read much in the classics: Aristotle, Plato, Thucydides, Demosthenes, and Hesiod, Lucian, Theocritus, and Aristophanes, Homer, and especially Pindar, are to be mentioned as the Greek authors he was most familiar with; while his Latin favourites were Horace, Sallust, and Seneca. He had begun the study of Hebrew at Einsiedeln, but soon dropped it. Now he took it up again under Andreas Boeschenstein. As at Glarus, he had pupils in his house. He also gave instruction in Greek in the cathedral school.

Now, tell me how busy you are.

Melanchthon on the Disposal of Tyrants

“Are private persons permitted to kill tyrants? Response … Second, if the tyrant is in the government and is doing atrocious and notorious injury to his subjects, defense (especially by those with self-control) is permitted to the subjects, whether it be in personal danger or in affairs of state: thus in the Swiss story [William Tell?] where the government agent ordered the citizen to produce his son and shoot the arrow at him. And the tribune of soldiers in Gaius Marius’s army was rightly killed by the boy against whom the tribune was going to bring force. And in the Pandects the laws allow the killing of a consul caught in adultery. Also in similar cases, if there are any, enemies are properly exonerated even if they were unrestrained in avenging notorious offenses. Thus Harpagus called for Cyrus to be brought to Astyages, who offered him [Harpagus] his son as a meal. And when the tyrant of Vincenza ordered a certain citizen to send his daughter to him (which the citizen objected to), the tyrant sent agents who captured her by force, and in the morning tossed her out, defiled and dismembered. The father, after discussing the matter with friends, sent the dissected body to the senate in Venice, asking for the surrender of the city. Thus the tyrant was overthrown. This citizen, in a case of such notorious and atrocious injustice, was completely in his rights, by the law of nations, to become the enemy of the tyrant.” (Melanchthon, Epitome of Moral Philosophy, 1538, CR 16, 105-06)

Via Ralph Keen

Bad Things Happen to the Critics of Prophets

Besides the well known story of the kids mauled by bears because those kids made fun of Elisha, there’s this little morality tale which drives home the point that the people of God are advised to respect the persons God has appointed to speak on his behalf-

Num 12:1 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6 And he said, “Hear my words:

When there are prophets among you,
I the Lord make myself known to them in visions;
I speak to them in dreams.
7 Not so with my servant Moses;
he is entrusted with all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face—clearly, not in riddles;
and he beholds the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. 10 When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother’s womb.”

Uh oh….  Bad move Aaron and Miriam.  Best to refrain from your insults.

20 Years for Giving Water to Migrants? A Religious Freedom Case of Little Interest to ‘Religious Freedom’ Industry

Evangelicals don’t care about religious freedom. They care about power. That’s why they are fake Christians.

Our Lucha

While the “religious freedom” industry is busy protecting discriminatory bakeries and pharmacists who refuse to do their job, a humanitarian faces a hefty prison sentence for providing food and water to migrants in the desert.

This country has an odd way of defining “religious freedom.” Refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple or refusing to sell contraception at a pharmacy are defined as a religious right by self-professing Christians and safeguarded under the banner of protecting “religious freedom.” And while these are obvious examples of the abuse of the term, our religious freedoms, nonetheless, are indeed under assault by the federal government. Actual violations of religious freedoms are being ignored because they threaten and challenge the power and privilege of cisgender white men who get to define what does (and what does not) qualify as a “religious freedom” issue.


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He Objects to Abortion But He Is all For Molesting a Child…. And of Course He’s From Texas… And A Baptist…

And probably a Trump voter.  Making him triply hypocritical.

A former Southern Baptist pastor who supported legislation in Texas that would have criminalized abortions has been arrested on charges of child sex abuse, accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage relative over the course of two years.

Stephen Bratton is accused of subjecting the relative to inappropriate touching that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, according to Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Court records show Bratton, 43, posted a $50,000 bond Saturday, The Houston Chronicle reported .

Disgusting.  Hell awaits.

No Preacher in Washington is Micaiah, They’re All Zedekiah

1 Kings 22-

For three years Aram and Israel continued without war. 2 But in the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, yet we are doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram?” 4 He said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are; my people are your people, my horses are your horses.”

5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred of them, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” They said, “Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the Lord here of whom we may inquire?” 8 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one other by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies anything favorable about me, but only disaster.” Jehoshaphat said, “Let the king not say such a thing.” 9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah son of Imlah.” 10 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 Zedekiah son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron, and he said, “Thus says the Lord: With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.” 12 All the prophets were prophesying the same and saying, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”

15 When he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” He answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 Then Micaiah said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep that have no shepherd; and the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each one go home in peace.’ ” 18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy anything favorable about me, but only disaster?”

19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing beside him to the right and to the left of him. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, so that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ Then one said one thing, and another said another, 21 until a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 ‘How?’ the Lord asked him. He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do it.’ 23 So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Chenaanah came up to Micaiah, slapped him on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?” 25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on that day when you go in to hide in an inner chamber.” 26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king: Put this fellow in prison, and feed him on reduced rations of bread and water until I come in peace.’ ” 28 Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, you peoples, all of you!”

Quote of the Day

It was not without reason that the ancient proverb so strongly recommended to man the knowledge of himself. For if it is deemed disgraceful to be ignorant of things pertaining to the business of life, much more disgraceful is self-ignorance, in consequence of which we miserably deceive ourselves in matters of the highest moment, and so walk blindfold. — John Calvin

Father’s Day Sermons Inspire All

Because everyone should be included in everything.  Making people feel left out- well it’s just not our way anymore.

In celebration of Father’s Day, the nation’s pastors reportedly spent the whole sermon praising fathers, single mothers, people who take care of pets and feel like a father, and also people who take care of a Tamagotchi electronic pet.

“If you’re a father out there, or you feel like a father, or you temporarily want to identify as a father for the sake of being celebrated today, or you’ve ever been within 100 yards of a father, or you have a cat which is kinda like being a father, or you have a Tamagotchi electronic pet you’ve been taking care of since the ’90s, please stand so we can recognize you,” one pastor at a megachurch in Seattle said. “Thank you so much for your service.”

Pastors said they just didn’t want anyone to feel left out.

“What if we have a Father’s Day and celebrate fathers and we make people feel left out because they’re not, you know, a father?” a Des Moines Baptist megachurch told reporters. “We don’t want to exclude anyone by pretending fathers are special just for one day, so we just celebrate everyone.”

“And when everyone’s special, that’s just a great thing,” he added.

Prayer of the Day

Rise, Yahweh! God, raise your hand, do not forget the afflicted!  Why should the wicked spurn God, assuring himself you will never follow it up?  You have seen for yourself the trouble and vexation, you watch so as to take it in hand. The oppressed relies on you; you are the only recourse of the orphan. Break the arm of the wicked and evil, seek out wickedness till there is none left to be found.  – (Ps. 10:12-15)


Teaching a fool is like gluing bits of pottery together — you are rousing someone who is besotted with sleep. You might as well talk to someone sound asleep; when you have finished the fool will say, ‘What’s up?’ Shed tears for the dead, who has left the light behind; shed tears for the fool, who has left his wits behind. Shed quieter tears for the dead who is at rest, for the fool life is worse than death. Mourning for the dead lasts seven days, for the foolish and ungodly all the days of their lives. (Sir. 22:9-12)

Fools, in sum, are invincibly ignorant.  Nothing penetrates their stupidity, no matter how hard one may try.

Conference Announcement: What is Commentary?

BAJS conference programme now available!

It is with much delight that we share with you the programme of the annual conference of the British Association of Jewish Studies. We hope to see all of you here at Oxford in July!

For the full programme see:

Precious Memories of Dear old Dad

Dad used to cook for us every day:

Here’s the only picture of dad I have-

Miss ya, buddy.

Happy ‘Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day’ to All the Toxic Males

In a special session called to order Friday, Congress voted unanimously to do a complete overhaul of Father’s Day, renaming the holiday “Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day” and redefining the day’s meaning to encourage citizens to heap shame and disgust on all fathers, current or potential.

Americans across the country excitedly prepared to celebrate the updated holiday designed to shame fathers and all things masculine as the weekend approached.

“It was just time,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, citing the high numbers of depression and anxiety among men as “a good sign things are progressing in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do before all men, everywhere do the right thing and hate themselves with the appropriate level of vehemence.” The new initiative seeks to have all men wailing in the streets in sackcloth and ashes, flagellating and weeping with shame and regret for their harmful, problematic masculinity.

The rewritten holiday guidelines suggest cancelling any gift orders for cigars or plans to take dad out for steak and instead sitting dad on the floor in the living room and repeatedly shaming him for being part of the problem, saying things like “Take that money you were going to spend on a beard trimmer and instead donate it to women’s rights.” The government also established an associated website,, where you can download a free card to give your father that reads, “This isn’t your day any more. Do better.”

Other gift suggestions include an endangered fish donation in your father’s name, pouring out beer for those affected by toxic masculinity, and tickets to a male reeducation ceremony held deep in the Cascade mountain range.