Since the Calvin 500 push is on, it seems a decent time for me to return to the task of remembering the Forgotten Reformers. Simon Grynaeus is today’s forgotten reformer.
Grynaeus seems to have come to a Reformed understanding apart from most contemporary influences. He was a biblical scholar who came to Biblical beliefs. Thus, it is hard to pinpoint his departure from the Roman church because he was not a part of a particular movement. Simon was born in German (1493) and in accordance with what a lot of Renaissance scholars, changed his last name to Grynaeus. He had already been suspected by the Dominicans of non-catholic beliefs prior to his appointment to the chair of Greek at Heidelberg in 1524. Heidelberg was still under Roman control at this point, and so Simon must still have been at least outwardly apart of the Roman church. However, his views of the Lord’s Supper rejected Transubstantiation and took a Zwinglian approach. This led him into a correspondance with John Oecolampadius in 1526. In 1529 he went to Basel to replace Erasmus, which means that by this time Grynaeus must have been fairly open about his Reformed beliefs. In 1531 he toured England with letters of introduction that helped him be received by men such as Thomas More, and he furthered his education there. He did return to Basel in time to be at the death bed of Oecolampadius.
Grynaeus was more than just an academic. He did active reforming as well helping with the Reformation in Wurttenburg in 1534 and the work in Tubingen. He was a primary editor of the First Helvetic Confession with Oswald Myconius in 1536 (the confession was primarily written by the late Oecolampadius). He represented all of Switzerland at the Worms Conference in 1540. He died the next year in an outbreak of the plague which seems to have happened often in Basel.
He also aided the church through his children. His son Samuel became a professor of law. Simon was related to the future head pastor of Basel, John Jakob Grynaeus. Simon’s descendant Simon (of 1725-1799) made a modern German translation of the Bible and worked for the Reformation.
Grynaeus was a teacher of the Reformation and did just that for most of his life. He taught in Universities where he raised up the next generation of pastors. It is to be remembered that John Calvin went to study under Simon Grynaeus in 1534 to more fully master Hebrew. It is men like this that are forgotten because he did not write much or at least not much that has survived, but his legacy is important nonetheless.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Since the Calvin 500 push is on, it seems a decent time for me to return to the task of remembering the Forgotten Reformers. Simon Grynaeus is today’s forgotten reformer.
The Pirates are on the move again. They are only six games out of first place, which for most teams would mean they are in the race. Of course no one thinks the Pirates are in the race, but the next 13 games will tell if they are still in it. If they can stay within five games or so of first place at the All Star break, I think the Pirates would avoid off loading most of their team this year.
That said, they are going to make some moves no matter what. For example the recent trade of Eric Hinske Hinske was the obligatory off season free agent signed by the Pirates. He played mostly outfield with some third and first mixed in. He was not doing very well, and not giving them the power off of the bench they wished. So, they traded him. After calling up Steven Pierce, who can also play first and outfield, the need for Hinske was gone. They got two Single A prospects for him. The Yankees must be out of their minds. This can only be seen as a good deal. It gives Brandon Moss and Steven Pierce more playing time, and gives them two prospects. Garret Jones, who is generally not considered a part of the future of the Pirates but is hitting .307 with 12 homers in Triple A, has been called up to take Hinske’s place.
What should Pirate fans expect? I think they should expect one more deal no matter what. Garrett Jones is a full time outfielder and a left handed one at that. Steven Pierce is on the team right now as well, and supposedly was told he was going to play outfield. Pierce is a natural first baseman who for the past two years has been learning outfield. This year in Triple A they told him to go back to first base and was only told last week when he was called up to the majors, to play the outfield. I expect that along with the addition of Jones to the outfield this week means that Adam LaRoche will be dealt even if the Pirates remain in contention. Pierce will then become the full time first baseman. Adam is hitting better than normal and is a free agent in the off season. He is the best power hitter the Pirates can offer and is not a part of the future of this team. Expect Adam to go no matter what.
If the Pirates do fall out of contention in the next two weeks, you might could Jack Wilson go, although I am wondering if the Pirates would do this without a short stop who is big league ready right now. If they got the right offer, I think they would. The other possible trade is John Grabow, the lefty out of the bullpen. He would probably garner some interest, and could get a prospect or two in return. Now if the Pirates are still in contention, I think they keep both of those guys. If the Pirates are playing to win this year, you will know by the fate of Grabow and Wilson.
UPDATE: The Pirates have just traded Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for Lastings Milledge and a right handed pitcher named Hanarhan. It is a pretty bad trade for the Pirates. It is a major gamble that Milledge will be better than he ever has been before and that he will grow into the player people hope he will be. If that falls through this is a major mistake. I do think it might be an attempt to compete this year and not an indication of a large scale sell off. Morgan is a leadoff hitter, which the Pirates already have in McCutchen, and with Tyler Yates down with an injure the Pirates need a right handed power reliever. So, that is the logic I guess. Bad trade. First bad one of the new ownership in my mind.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Look, I think we all know that I dislike the NBA. And if I am forced to pick an NBA team, I cheer for the Nuggets. However, I am really interested in what the Minnesota Timberwolves do in this year’s draft. They have four first round picks, plus the 15th pick in the Second Round in a draft that most agree is a deep draft. I have long thought that the best way to rebuild a team in the current NBA is not through free agents, but just trading everyone to get draft picks. This is what the Timberwolves have apparently done. They traded away their best player to get another draft and some other frontline guys to the Wizards just a few days ago. The Timberwolves were a lottery team last year, but ought to be a playoff team this next year.
Since the Timberwolves are drafting both 5th and 6th they ought to have at least two impact players. They seem to have a decent front court with Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, and Cory Brewer. Add in Sheldon Williams and Ryan Gomes just to name the young guys, and the front court seems okay. That is why I hope the Timberwolves do not trade up to get Hashem Thabeet. He will not be as good in the NBA, and they need back court help. They ought to be able to get Stephen Curry (of Davidson) and Tyreke Evans (Memphis). Either could play shooting guard or point guard. At 15 they can probably pick either Tyler Hansbrough or DeJuan Blair. I think Blair is the better pick, but both ought to be there. That gives them some more front line strength. They pick again at 28 where they can pick whatever overseas guy they like the best or they could pick Patty Mills from Saint Marys. That kid can shoot the lights out. Darren Collison from UCLA should also be there. Then take pick 45 and just get the best guy remaining on the board, probably an overseas guy, and you should be set for an exciting year.
If I were the Timberwolves, I would take Curry, Evans, Blair, and Mills. You would have three guys that can shoot the lights out, and one tough inside guy who could give some quality off the bench minutes as he develops into an NBA player. The starting line up for Minnesota in 2010 would be Evans, Curry, Brewer, Love, and Jefferson. Add in Blair and whatever European you got in round two to come off the bench with Gomes and Williams and the team has its rotation. The three guys they got from the Wizards are all pointless with only Songaila having any chance at playing. I hope they keep all the picks, and I hope they take Mills with their late pick. If they do, they could shoot their way to a Playoff appearance.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Emergent Church movement or conversation is in real trouble. There has been a large swell of disappointment and the change in leadership or stepping aside of leadership has not really helped. A small look at some of this is helpful. Nick, the Hopeful Skeptic appears to have touched off the latest round of trouble with his blog about his disappointment in the movement. What is left of the Emergent Village is trying to get back to basics and link up like minded churches with a nice map of where such churches can be found. One interesting note about the map is the Mark Driscoll and his Seattle church do not appear to be listed. Of course the map drew some scathing comments from former Emergent types such as Remonstrans This was too much for former National Coordinator, Tony Jones. Jones unleashes a bitter diatribe at those who think the movement has lost heart or soldout and points to the emergence of women and minorities in the movement. Josh Brown declared the movement dead while the other extreme was represented by Jonathon Brink who wants everyone to partake of his enthusiasm. Of course Team Pyro and Phil Johnson were there to offer their thoughts on the death of the Emergent Church with a warning that the underlying problems that lead to Emergent Church still exist.
But I think this debate about the death of the Emergent Church and their response is enlightening. I do believe that this movement is dead for several reasons.
1. The movement was based on Post Modernism. That is about the only thing that joined the group together, and that led to much of its problems. They could not even agree on what Emergent meant, much less define any standard beliefs. Nick the Skeptic thought it was a movement that was organizing into something more, but Tony Jones hated the idea of a revolution despite the fact that Brian McLaren was writing his books and promoting the idea that “everything must change”. Josh Brown thinks it failed because it became a church or at least an organization. Showing again that for two to walk together they must be agreed. Post Modernism does not make a firm enough basis to stand together upon since it is naturally a individualistic theology/philosophy.
2. Emergent Church was primarily a protest. It was a protest against many things. The mixing of politics and church, the traditional way of worship, the current fads in Evangelicalism (too unauthentic), and for many the theological truths especially inerrancy. The point is that protest movements are hard to keep together because not everyone is protesting the same thing. Some may not be against a more traditional theology. Those people were run out of the movement early on. See Mark Driscoll. Others may not be so against traditional styles of worship or completely in favor of liberalism. Some might feel the need for some politics, and others might just be against conservative politics. After initial success the differences emerge and are very hard to keep together. I think this is part of the problem with the Emergent Movement.
3. Emergent Church was never really divorced from politics. This is going to be a bit contoversial, but I believe it is true. When one reads the works of Emergents, anger toward the Religious Right and Politics is top on their list. Notice that almost every one of the above linked articles has references to politics. Nick referenced Obama through a quote. Tony Jones cannot help but mention Fawell and Dobson. Remonstrans mentions the social gospel at the end of his post that fits into a Liberal Democratic Agenda. The Emergent Church and Liberal Politics were always intertwined. The Liberals won the election that always cools a movement. Plus, President Obama is not turning out to be the Messiah as Nick alludes too. That will also hurt the movement. This of course passes over the fact that Doug Pagitt has stepped down from leadership of the Emergent Village and moved into politics as he is running for the Minnesota Legislature. I think it is a glimpse of where the priorities of the movement lie.
4. Emergent Church is built on social action, not theology, and that is always doomed to disappointment. This fits nicely with the above point as Emergent types come to understand that the state is a quicker engine to accomplish goals such as "ending poverty, war, and environmental destruction" (From the end of Remonstrans blog). There will always be poor with us as Jesus told us and wars and rumors of wars are not going anywhere either. Environmental destruction is debatable as to whether or not it is even occurring. Thus, a movement focused on these things is destined to lose members, focus, and eventually run out of gas. It happened in the 60’s and 70’s so that the 80’s was an era of Yuppies not Hippies. Social activism is not wrong in and of itself, but when it is taken by itself apart from theology, it will be a failure and exhausting to those in the crusade. This has happened in the Emergent Conversation/Movement/Denomination/Organization.
In conclusion, I think that the entire Conversation of Emergent is doomed. I do not believe that it will be able to revive itself. Thus, while I understand what the Pyromaniacs are talking about when they think the underlying problems still exist, I think this particular manifestation is dead.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I watched Marley and Me yesterday. It is a hard movie to review. Owen Wilson is impressive in his acting. He does a good job at being more than just a comedian, but he does not lose his comedic touch in this movie either. Jennifer Aniston does what you expect. Her girl next door look and style fits perfect with this movie. There is a nice contrast made between the main character and his best friend. It is movie of self-discovery. It is a movie that does an amazing job of showing real life reactions and real life troubles. That translates into a movie that is very understandable, and gives the audience a deep connection with the family on screen. It is surprisingly free from pointless scenes and carries a fairly family friendly rating. The best movie to compare it with is Old Yeller. In fact, Marley and Me is this generations Old Yeller. I felt the same after watching Marley and Me as I did after Old Yeller. I said to myself, "That was a good movie. But I would rather poke my own eyes out than have to watch that dog die again."
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Pierre Viret is another forgotten Reformer, but one who did and suffered so much for the Reformation that it is almost a crime that we neglect this man. Viret was born in Orbe Switzerland in 1511. He attended university in France where he became a Protestant. He was convinced to be a minister of the gospel by Guillermo Farel. Farel convinced him to minister in the country of Lausanne. Here Viret became the Reformer of this little place, which I believe today is a part of France, but then was free. It is Viret who invited Theodore Beza to teach at the University of Lausanne. There the duo had a tremendous impact on the reformation in France as many Frenchmen came to be trained in Lausanne, and then went back to France. Viret would also help reform Geneva with Farel and Calvin, but his heart was in France. While in Geneva Viret was fed poison by a Romanist sympathizer. It did not kill him, but he did suffer problems from it for the rest of his life. Soon, Viret journeyed back to France. There he served and preached in many different congregations from Paris to Orleans. Eventually he settled down in Montpellier where the region became Reformed mainly through his preaching. In 1565, Viret was warned in an anonymous note to flee, and he did so just before the Romanist army took over his area. Viret then served for a short time in Navarre where he had taken refuge. He would not be able to avoid capture forever, and he was taken in by the Romanists with 11 other ministers. Seven of those ministers were executed, but so many Romanists came forward to speak of the love and kindness showed by Viret that the magistrate let him live. He continued preaching for the Reformation, but in 1571 he died as his body finally gave out.
Viret may well have been the most popular preacher in all of the Reformation. He Reformed Lausanne, and had a major role in Reforming Vaud and Geneva. He also of course played a very important role in France even being elected President of the National Synod of the French Reformed Church. Thousands followed his preaching. Riots broke out sometimes as people tried to disrupt his preaching. He was poisoned. He lost two wives and multiple kids to the plague, but nothing shattered his devotion to the cause of Christ. He preached it everywhere he went. Viret is sometimes associated with Calvin since they worked together in Geneva, but Viret was not someone Calvin trained. Viret in fact had a Zwinglian view of the Lord’s Supper, and was more beloved than Calvin in Geneva. I read somewhere (but I cannot find it now) that Viret was paid more than Calvin despite Calvin being the head pastor in Geneva. Viret is truly an example of someone on the front lines of the Reformation. He felt the call to be a missionary preacher, and that is what he did his entire life. Let us not forget the work of this brave man, nor his legacy of undaunted courage for Christ.
Monday, June 08, 2009
We have had plenty of time now to see who our new President is. This Cairo Speech is a beautiful example of President Obama, his methodology, and his fundamental flaws. Of course members of the main stream media think that this speech puts Obama on par with God . . .really he compared Obama to God. But that is what it takes to get a job at Newsweek. When that magazine folds, I will take my family out to a nice dinner to celebrate.
President Obama’s methodology should be noted first. He loves the "on one hand . . . but on the other hand" construction. He uses it all the time, and uses it again in this speech. I believe it is because Presdient Obama believes that looking at a problem from all the angles will solve it. But is also because he believes that there is never a problem where you either have to chose the one hand or the other. There is never a black and white situation for President Obama. There is never a situation where the two positions are contradictory. It has to be admitted the other major method used by President Obama is lying. I don’t see much other way around it. "Islam has a proud tradition of religious tolerance." It is hard to imagine that is anything other than a lie. And when you sight Indonesia as your example it is hard to take it seriously. Obama was attempting to lie to get on their good side. Even the United States Council on Religious Freedom counts Indonesia as a country that allows persecution of Christians by Muslims. Not exactly a good tolerance rating there. Just because the government does not officially sponsor persecution as it does in many Middle Eastern countries does not mean that Islam is being tolerant of Christianity in Indonesia.
President Obama himself is on display in major speeches like this. There is much that he needs to be criticized for in this speech. One can wrangle about whether or not it is right to apologize for the Iraq war, as he basically did in this speech. One can argue whether or not he should have spoken of terrorism and the sponsorship of it. It is a policy debate when you are discussing Israel. They have no fundamental right to expect our support. But, it is a clear shift in policy by demanding Israel come to a two-state solution and stop settlements. President Obama is clearly pro-Palastinian in this speech. It is clear the biggest thing in the speech is this statement.
For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
That is a rejection that the job of the President of the United States is to look out for the good of the United States. Now he may just be talking about sujugation, a physical oppression, but that part is not repeated. He appears to be saying the mere elevation of your interest is now a bad thing. His view of being our President is to NOT serve our own interests. He considers such things as failures. Such a statement is astronomical. Unbelievable. And it is not really being reported on.
Obama also needs to be corrected on fundamental facts. After claiming to be a “student of history” he messes up every single statement on history in his speech. According to President Obama part of the debt of civilization to Islam is the compass. Now there is a debate about who invented the compass. Some think it was the Olmec, a native tribe in South America. This is not held by many. Most think it was the Chinese. Others think it was invented independently in Europe and first used as navigation there. I have not seen anyone, other than the President, argue the Islamic world invented the compass. The argument for the invention of the compass by the Islamic world would have to be based on the fact that they had it, and we just have not yet discovered the proof for it. The Compass is mentioned in France almost 100 years prior to seeing any evidence of it in the Islamic world, and that does not get the Islamic world ahead of China. Algebra is universally attributed to the ancient Babylonians. While Babylon is roughly modern day Iraq, Babylon pre-dates Islam by 1,000 years. Only the grossest of ignorance can claim Islam gave us Algebra. I think the printing press is so well documented that to pretend the mastery of printing came from Islam is an insult.
This leads me to my point. President Obama can extend the olive branch all he wants, but he is living in a world of delusion and lies. Islam has not contributed to civilization, at least not very much. They may have kept many manuscripts alive that we later used in the Renaissance, but the question needs to be asked, why did they not have a Renaissance? If when we discovered the old texts kept in libraries in Muslim countries, we had a rush back to the sources and learned and grew and had a period of intellectual revival, what is it in Islam that prevented that from happening? Is keeping a book on a shelf keeping learning alive or is it simply storing something for others? Islam no matter how much we pretend is not a religion of peace, and their effect on countries is obvious to the naked eye. President Obama can put Judaism, Islam, and Christianity on a par as he did in the speech, but it is a falsehood to try and live by it. Like I tell my kids, it is one thing to pretend you are Superman, but it is another to live like you are Superman. The first is in good fun, the second is dangerous and deadly. Just to drive home the point. President Obama quoted from the Koran when he stated that "if one murdered anyone in the land it would be as if he slew the whole people", but the next verse is the important distinction found in the Koran. That verse goes on to state: "The punishment for those who strive against Allah and His Messenger [Mohammed] . . . is execution . . ." A verse about peace is followed by a verse that demands the death of all those who do not follow Mohammed.
In the end, this speech is a useless exercise in egotism. There are fundamental differences found in the religion of Islam and the religion of Christianity that will not allow them to exist side by side as if they are the same. One has a view of civilization that is about bloodshed, hatred, subjection of women, and has holy war as one of the great virtues. The other has a view that is about forgiveness, salvation, and love. They are not both the same.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
The NBA is nothing compared to Major League Baseball. If you watched the conference finals, you will now understand that the NBA is rigged or at least it is attempted. LeBron got every call he could possibly get and the Lakers did as well. That along with the Puppet Kobe and Puppet LeBron commercials should tell you who the NBA tried to put in the finals. The Nuggets beat LA in Game 1, 3, 4, and 5. Thanks to poor officiating they were only able to win Game 4. Oddly LA won Game 2, but the refs gave that one to the Nuggets. If the NBA is not rigged then the refs are the single most incompetent group of people on the planet. No reason to ever watch the NBA again.
But the main point of the post is to talk about the Pittsburgh Pirates. I will have the pleasure of seeing them in action this year as they come to Minnesota, and I am going to attend a game. This means I will also probably get to see the greatest player in the game today, Joe Mauer, catcher for the Twins. Mauer missed most of April with an injury, but hit .414 in May with 11 homers and 32 RBIs (.500 OBA and .848 Slug for those interested). He was the first catcher to ever lead the American League in Batting Average a couple of years ago and quietly last year he did it again. I have little doubt that he will win another batting title this year.
But the Pirates are still the main attraction. They are my pick to win back to back World Series titles starting next year. They will break .500 this year. They are five games below .500 right now, but I am not worried. They have spent all but a few games without their biggest bat, Ryan Doumit. They have also had their closer miss a few games and are still without their 8th inning guy, Tyler Yates. But the main reason to be excited about the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates is Greg Smith. Who is Greg Smith? Well, he is the front office guy in charge of the Pirates Draft. They Pirates had the best draft in the majors last year. They picked Pedro Alvarez and managed to sign him despite lots of dirty tricks by his agent. They signed 6 of their top 10 picks. Including the steal of the draft, Robbie Grossman, a high school outfielder in the 6th round. Grossman was a top two or three round talent that people avoided because he had committed to Texas and seemed adamant. The Pirates drafted him anyway and then gave him a one million dollar signing bonus, which is unheard of for a 6th round pick and for the Pirates who are notoriously cheap. Grossman is now playing for the Class A West Virginia Power. He has a .710 OPS and is 16 out of 18 in the stolen base department. Not bad for a kid right out of high school. The Pirates draft fourth in this year’s draft and get a complementary pick because they failed to sign their second round pick last year.
Another reason is the great trades the Pirates pulled off last year. They did have to lose Xavier Nady and Jason Bay plus some relievers, but they got back Jose Tabata from the Yankees, who will probably arrive in the Pittsburgh outfield in 2011 giving the Pirates great options with future Free Agents like Nate McClouth. Add to that Brian Morris who was the center piece of the Bay-Rameriez deal. Morris ought to be in the rotation by 2011. And after all of the draft day busts from past years, these sorts of deals are important. The previous front office guys drafted lots of pitchers who almost all failed. Everyone from Kris Benson to VanBenschoten to 2007’s Daniel Moskos (who might be an alright closer, but does not look so good as a started). This would explain why Greg Smith got the reigns of the draft last year and he looks good at it. Add to that the amazing re-emergence of Brad Lincoln (2006 first round draft pick who had Tommy John surgery the minute he pitched for the Pirates in the minors). Lincoln is on track to be part of the 2011 rotation as well.
This is all good news for the Pirates. By the end of this year we will get a glimpse of Andrew McCutchen, which will give the Pirates an amazing outfield. Steven Pierce will probably be a September call up for even more depth there or to replace a hopefully traded Adam LaRoche at first. By the end of 2010 we will see Pedro Alvarez at third and maybe Brad Lincoln in the rotation. That will help us fill the hole at third and get rid of Ian Snell, who is now officially in my doghouse for his inability to get anyone out in the first two innings and refusal to throw inside. 2011 will bring Morris and Tabata and the Pirates are looking good to be competitive for years to come.