Friday, February 27, 2015

I Don't Think He's Trying Anymore

Once again, John Piper's infamous tweet "Farewell Rob Bell" after the said author's book trailer for Love wins was released has proven prophetic. A recent article reports the following:
"One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness," Rob Bell said. "Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It's central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with."

That statement prompted a question from Oprah: "When is the church going to get that?"
"We're moments away," Rob Bell said. "I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone."

Said Kristen Bell: "There are churches who are moving forward and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle." (Source)
 This, of course, was all predictable. Anyone that read Bell's first book Velvet Elvis could have made this prediction. Those who flirt with theological liberalism will eventually become one. Bell used to at least pretend to be orthodox or at least hold on to some residue of it. Those days are over with.

For more:
Can We Now Say, "Farewell, Rob Bell?"
"What We Talk About When We Talk About God" by Rob Bell: A Review
"What We Talk About When We Talk About God" Lecture
Repost | Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
Will This Sort of Love Win?:  Reflections on the Bell Controversy - Part 1

MSNBC Takes on Bell . . . Or At Least Tries Too
What's Wrong With a Feminine God?: Some Quotations 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

From Spurgeon's Pulpit: Science and Infallibility

From his sermon The Infallibility of Scripture:
Again — if, “ The mouth of the Lord has spoken it, ” we have in this utterance the special character of immutable fixedness. Once spoken by God, not only is it so now but it always must be so. The Lord of Hosts has spoken and who shall disannul it? The rock of God’s Word does not shift, like the quicksand of modern scientific theology. One said to his minister, “My dear Sir, surely you ought to adjust your beliefs to the progress of science.” “Yes,” said he, “but I have not had time to do it today, for I have not yet read the morning papers.” One would have need to read the morning papers and take in every new edition to know where scientific theology now stands. For it is always chopping and changing. The only thing that is certain about the false science of this age is that it will be soon disproved. Theories, vaunted today, will be scrapped tomorrow.

The great scientists live by killing those who went before them. They know nothing for certain except that their predecessors were wrong. Even in one short life we have seen system after system — the mushrooms, or rather the toadstools, of thought — rise and perish. We cannot adapt our religious belief to that which is more changeful than the moon. Try it who will — as for me, if “The mouth of the Lord has spoken it,” it is the Truth of God to me in this year of Divine Grace, 1888. And if I stand among you a gray-headed old man, Lord willing, somewhere in 1908, you will find me making no advance upon the Divine ultimatum. If “The mouth of the Lord has spoken it,” we behold in His Revelation a Gospel which is without variableness, revealing “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”

All Around the Web - February 26, 2015

Russell Moore - Should We Pray for the Defeat of ISIS, or Their Conversion?

Doug Wils - Bard Still Has an Arrow Left

Eric Raymond - Martin Luther’s Three Lights

Radical - Won’t Our Stance On Cultural Issues Harm Our Witness?

Mental Floss - Martin Luther is the Most Popular Playmobil Figurine Ever

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

James MacDonald on Transcendence

From "Vertical Church":
I experience transcendence when what God has made reminds me how little I am. I stand on the shore of an ocean and realize that there are worlds underneath the waves. I look up from the base of a mountain and am reminded, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” To experience the transcendent is to sense your smallness. By that I don’t mean transcendence makes me feel belittled or self- deprecating. A true encounter with the God of the universe makes me feel gladly small, perfectly puny, and happily so, in my assigned place and actual size! A true experience of eternity leaves us feeling, as C. S. Lewis said, “the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.” Transcendence is a healthy dose of insignificance to a race whose root sin is pride. Transcendence cuts us all down to our proper proportion before an awesome God. That you and I are not significant is a wonderful, freeing discovery, and that’s what church is for. (51)

All Around the Web - February 25, 2015

Reuters - Washington state judge rules against florist who refused gay wedding

The New York Post - Why are jihadis so obsessed with porn?

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with Bryan Chapell

Church Tech - 10 Pinterest Ideas for Your Church

MLive - Rob Bell on gay marriage: 'We're moments away' from church embracing it

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 4

The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 1
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 2
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 3
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 4

Luther and His German Bible

Any discussion of Luther’s doctrine of Scripture, and in this case his promotion and defense of its perspicuity, is not complete without at least mentioning Luther’s arduous work of translating the Bible from the original languages to German.  It is no secret that the Catholic Church was vehemently against translations of the Bible in the vernacular.  It cost William Tyndale his life and John Wycliffe was hated for his work in translating the Bible into English by the Catholic Church.  So too Luther’s translation was unwelcomed by Catholic authorities.    Luther wanted nothing more than for his fellow Germans to be able to read the Bible in their own tongue.  So long as the Bible was read exclusively in Latin, the Church would never be fully Reformed.  The Catholic Church kept its stranglehold on the common men by not allowing them to read the Bible for themselves.  If the people could only read the Bible for themselves, Luther’s revolt would be validated and the cause of the Reformation would be complete.  Luther believed that once the Bible was made available to the common person, the abuses of the Church would be made evident and Catholicism would crumble.

It took Luther only eleven weeks to translate the New Testament, [1] and he published it in September 1522 (known as the September Testament).  It would not be until 1534 when Luther would finish the Old Testament and first publish the entire Bible.  Many have commented on the excellence of Luther’s translation which helped shape modern German.  Luther would continue to revise the German Bible until his death.

The Catholic response, predictably, was not positive.  Just as the Church opposed Wycliffe and other translators, the Church stood against the translating of the Bible into German.  It was standard Catholic teaching that Scripture was not clear and to translate the Bible into the vernacular will only cause more confusion.  In 1486, the Archbishop of Mainz had issued an edict
forbidding any unapproved German version in his diocese.  He defended his action on the ground that in his office he was required to guard the purity of the divine Word.  Those who were trying their hand at turning the Bible into German were the most part incapable of doing justice to their task, he thought.  In any case, he added, it is most dangerous to place the Holy Scriptures in the homes of ordinary people, where even women might read, if they could, or at least hear, since they are unable to come to a right judgment about them. [Archbishop] Berhold was giving expression to the general mind of the Church. [2]
Likewise, Johann Geiler from Kaisersburg, though an advocate for Church reform, was against the translation of the Bible into the vernacular.  He argued that
It is a bad thing to print the Bible in German.  It must be understood far differently from the way in which the text sounds.  It is dangerous to put a knife into the hands of children and let them slice their own bread.  They can only wound themselves with it.  So also, the Holy Scriptures, which comprise the bread of God, must be read and interpreted b people who have requisite knowledge and experience and who are able to determine the true sense. [3]
Geiler, here, is echoing the Catholic sentiment of his time. The Church believed that a vernacular Bible in the hands of common people was a dangerous thing.  Like most Catholic leaders at this time, Geiler believed that Scripture’s obscurity meant that only trained theologians could read and interpret the Bible for the laity with the Pope standing as the final interpreter.

Notice that the difference between Luther and the Church was not the authority of Scripture, but its clarity.  Luther held dearly to its perspicuity and thus translating the Bible to the vernacular was only natural.  The Catholic Church, on the other hand, feared that an ignorant people untrained in theology and hermeneutics would come to damnable heresies or at the very least be extremely confused by what they read.

So though on the surface the two sides were debating the merits and necessity of vernacular translations, they were really debating its perspicuity.  The belief in Scripture’s clarity drove Luther to translate the text while the rejection of Scripture’s clarity drove the Church to oppose its publication.

[1]  Luther translated at about 1,500 words per day.  See James M. Kittelson, Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986), 175.
[2]  Willem Jan Kooiman, Luther and the Bible, trans. John Schmidt (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), 86-87.
[3]  As quoted in Arthur Skeving Wood, Captive to the Word: Martin Luther – Doctor of Sacred Scripture.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969.

All Around the Web - February 24, 2015

The Atlantic - What ISIS Really Wants

Thom Rainer - The Top Ten Most Fiercely Defended Traditions in Churches

The Gospel Coalition - ‘We Are All Messy’: Rosaria Butterfield on Loving Our Gay and Lesbian Friends

Justin Taylor - 6 Meanings of the Word “Evolution”

The Hobbit Blog - Catching up with Peter Jackson