Take Up Your Cross

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Pay Attention to What You’re Doing


Fun Facts From Church History: Luther Becomes a Member of the Wittenberg Faculty

Johann von Staupitz had persuaded Luther to pursue advanced studies to qualify for the degree of Doctor in Biblia and had moved Frederick the Wise to provide funds for promoting Luther’s doctorate on the promise that Luther would be a great asset to the University of Wittenberg as lecturer on the Bible. Staupitz himself had held this position with distinction but was now vacating it because of his duties as vicar general of the Augustinians. On October 22, 1512, the new doctor was with appropriate ceremony received as a colleague by the faculty senate and apparently immediately began his preparations for lectures on the Psalms.

So the Editor of the American Edition of Luther’s Works.

Luther’s installation in the Wittenberg faculty would be, as you can guess, momentous.  He would still not become a ‘Reformer’ for five more years- two years after Zwingli began his efforts at reformation. From 1512 when he was installed until 1517 Luther was simply a Papist Professor of Scripture at a Catholic University in backwater Wittenberg.

I Wish Someone in Mongolia Would Get on Twitter….

Come on, Mongolia!  I don’t mind that several countries in the Middle East and Africa don’t follow on twitter (even though it does hurt my feelings), but you?  Come on….

Could Things Get Worse?

Yes- they just have-

Signs of the Times: The ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Hoax

Signs of the Times: Cats Are Evil

Special Offer: “Christ Our Captain: An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli”, and “Through The Year With Zwingli and Bullinger”

I’m offering the PDFs of the intro to Zwingli AND the Devotional for $15.  Get them both and learn about Zwingli and become more spiritual at the same time!  Follow the Paypal link and the PDFs will be sent straightaway.



What the Church is Not

The Church is not designed to be ‘Julie, your cruise director’, but many Christians seem to think that it is.  But that’s because they are pastored by guys who are business majors and not theologians.

Konrad Schmid: Gerhard von Rad’s Interpretation of Genesis 22

Since it’s still von Rad’s birthday I’ll remind you that Konrad uploaded his 2008 Interpretation essay to Academia.edu some time back. Here. It’s still very much worth reading.

From the perspective of Heilsgeschichte, Gerhard von Rad saw clearly that Genesis 22 deals with the possible annihilation of the covenant promise. A fresh approach to Genesis corroborates this view and demonstrates that innerbiblical exegesis has shaped the message of Genesis 22.


The GOP Is Sick From its Head to its Heels

I hope it is a sickness unto death.  The GOP needs to die as a party.

Can we Please Stop Acting Like Recent American Recognition of Barth’s Adultery is an American Discovery?

People have known about the lurid details of Barth’s adulterous affair with Charlotte von Kirschbaum for DECADES.  The fact that American Evangelicals

  • Can’t read German
  • Have never read Barth’s Correspondence
  • Are blind to any critique of Barth

Doesn’t mean that others have not known.  ‘Recent revelations’?   NEIN!

Barth remains one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. That fact can’t be changed. What can and should be changed are the following:

  • Americans need to learn a language or two.
  • Americans need to stop viewing the world of theology through their parochial lens.
  • Americans need to dive into the deep end of the theological pool and realize there’s more to life than Barth.

Luther, Who Condemned Indulgences, Was the Recipient of an Indulgence!

Oh sweet irony: when preparing a Luther exhibition, a German museum director discovered that the Wittenberg monk was himself the recipient of an indulgence. Kept in the National Library of Spain, Luther’s name is listed among his 51 brethren at the Augustine monastery in Erfurt.  (Via Brill on FB)

This is a sensational find:

Die Direktorin des Weserrenaissance-Museums in Lemgo hat einen bislang unbekannten Ablassbrief entdeckt, auf dem auch der Name Martin Luthers aufgeführt ist. Bei ihren Vorbereitungen zur aktuellen Luther-Ausstellung fand Vera Lüpkes den Brief in der Nationalbibliothek in Madrid.

Mittels der damals weit verbreiteten Ablassbriefe konnten sich die Menschen von ihren Sünden regelrecht freikaufen. Durch den Handel finanzierte die Kirche zum Beispiel den Bau des Petersdoms, aber auch Feldzüge gegen Ungläubige. Eine Praxis, die Luther in späteren Jahren entschieden ablehnte. Daher ist es auf den ersten Blick verwunderlich, dass sich sein Name auf einem Ablassbrief findet.

Einer von 52 Ordensbrüdern

Die Erklärung ist allerdings einfach: Luther war als Novize im Augustiner-Eremitenkloster Erfurt. Und wie damals üblich, sollte für das gesamte Kloster so ein Ablassbrief erworben werden. Den geltenden Vorschriften gemäß mussten die Namen aller Klosterbrüder in dem Brief genannt sein. Also findet sich unter ihnen auch ein “Martinus Luder“, Martin Luther.

Nach Einschätzung der Lemgoer Wissenschaftlerin zeigt der Brief, dass Luther damals noch eng mit der alten Katholischen Kirche verbunden war und seine reformatorischen Ideen erst später in ihm reiften.

Anmerkung: In einer ersten Fassung dieses Textes hatten wir berichtet, Luther habe den Ablassbrief “unterschrieben”. Fakt ist, sein Name findet sich lediglich auf dem vom bekannten Ablassprediger Johann Tetzel ausgestellten Brief.

This is akin to Mike Pence being found in possession of a copy of ‘The Advocate’.  Oh Martin…. Martin…. Martin….

UPDATE:  The Frankfurter Allgemeine has it now.  So it will soon spread everywhere.

A Fantastic Piece on Gerhard von Rad

Since it’s his birthday-

Gerhard Von Rad: State Interference and Unflappable Belief in Nazi Germany by Daniel Strecker is intriguing for a number of reasons. First, it’s by a non-theologian. Second, it features interaction with Bernard Levinson’s work on von Rad. And third, it contains the only picture of von Rad I’ve ever seen as a young man.

Strecker begins

Bernard M. Levinson, Professor and Berman Family Chair of Jewish Studies & Hebrew Bible at the University of Minnesota Law School, has recently re-posted Reading the Bible in Nazi Germany: Gerhard von Rad’s Attempt to Reclaim the Old Testament for the Church (read the full text here).  The article, which first appeared in Volume 62 of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology (2008), explores Gerhard von Rad’s (1901–71) staunch adherence to Old Testament studies despite the challenge of Nazi elements within his theological and intellectual milieu.  Levinson also draws a direct connection between von Rad’ s hermeneutic and the historical circumstances under which he worked, painting a powerful portrait of religious and intellectual conviction in defiance of a totalitarian state.

Read the rest.  Yes do.  With thanks to Bernard for mentioning it on Academia.edu.

The Birth-iversary of Gerhard von Rad

vonradThose who are wise learn from their forebears- even if what they learn is to leave them to the side.  Von Rad, however, can never be left aside.  He stands – even now – as the greatest Everest to grace the theological landscape.

Gerhard von Rad was a prominent German Old Testament scholar whose work brought back focus to the Old Testament. He was educated at the University of Erlangen and at the University of Tübingen and later received honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Lund, Wales, Leipzig and Glasgow. He also taught at the University of Jena, University of Gottingen, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. The Encyclopedia of World Biography notes him as having “developed the ‘tradition history’ approach to the Old Testament that has dominated the study of the Bible for the last 40 years.” His dissertation was on “Das Gottesvolk im Deuteronomium” (The People of God in Deuteronomy).

“The historical events of his lifetime, including the two World Wars, left their mark on him, and it was not least his detestation for the nazis’s treatment of the Jews, which called his interest for OT forth, and he became a member of the academic world in stead of the clergy. Two fields of research are in a special way connected to his name. He was one of the founders of the traditio-historical method. Being one of A. Alt’s doctoral students, history and the development of traditions always played an important part in his research. The historical credo (Deut 26) and its importance for the making of the Hexateuch has made a great impact on the scholarly world. The other field is OT theology, in which he stressed the theology in the transmission of the biblical traditions, in Vol. I the historical tradition and in Vol II the prophetic tradition. His way of doing Theologie was quite different from the traditional German Old Testament Theology.”

“Von Rad’s views were highly controversial, evoking considerable heat. Many of his theories have not stood the test of time, but it would be difficult to find another person who has contributed so much to the understanding of the Old Testament. It may be that in truth he wrote a history of Israelite religion rather than an Old Testament theology, but he insisted that the Hebrew Bible be understood in the context of the religious life of ancient Israel. That is surely a correct insight.”

Lest we forget…

Truth- Personal Space Matters

Tyranny is At Hand

Any time someone is said to be above reproach or questioning, tyranny is at hand.

Neither Presidents nor Generals nor Popes are above the rule of Truth and when they violate the Truth, they deserve reproach and correction.

If you ever believe otherwise expect a Tyrant to take advantage of you.

Let’s Hear it For Gnosticism….

And the embrace of the insubstantial and ephemeral….  Hip, hip, hooray….

Do people calling themselves theologians even try to think about what they’re saying anymore? Or is old heresy so unknown to them that they don’t know that they’re puking it up?

Military Worship

Just a reminder :  Generals are not above questioning or being dead wrong and soldiers are not all paragons of virtue or sacrifice.   Maybe it’s best not to pretend otherwise and thus fall into idolatry.  After all, worship of the military is a sin.

Why Doesn’t The Church Talk About the Problem of Divorce When it Talks About Marriage?

Because too many Deacons and Pastors are divorced and Churches are filled with divorced people and it’s just too darn uncomfortable to discuss it, that’s why.  So, good for you, Bee

Many people claim to be proponents of traditional marriage, but so many are all talk and no action. Very few can back it up with a life that proves their fervor for the sanctity of the holy union.

Well, meet Gary Black—a rare exception to the rule. He has shown his great love and respect for the God-ordained institution by participating in four separate marriages thus far in his life. And he might not even be done yet. Talk about a culture warrior going above and beyond!

“Modern culture is tearing down the sacred union between man and wife,” Black told reporters gathered outside his home Friday, which he got as part of the divorce settlement with his third wife, Patricia.

“Legislators don’t define marriage—God does,” he continued. “No matter what the courts say, we have to stand for God’s design in marriage, which I’ve done now four times.”

“Standing for traditional marriage can be difficult—as someone with three ex-wives, hoo boy, do I ever know how hard it can be—but we must grit our teeth and work toward preserving the traditional family unit.”

According to Black, he is happily married but “there’s a good chance” he will divorce his current wife Margaret either next year or whenever the spark between them dies down, whichever comes first, at which time he will likely seek to enter a fifth sacred covenant in order to reaffirm his incredible commitment to traditional marriage.

Way to go, Gary!

So, really, if you’re cool with divorce, maybe talk less about how much you value marriage.