Yesterday was the anniversary of Roe v Wade. According to statistics over 49,500,000 people have been aborted, or killed since Roe. That of course is a lot more than the Nazi’s or even Stalin, but yet abortion remains legal and protected while Hitler and Stalin are treated like the evil murderous villains they are. It is odd to think of your own country as being worse than Nazi Germany, but the facts don’t lie. We have perfected genocide in this country and we decided to call it abortion.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Now that President Bush is out of office and President Obama is in, now would be a good time to take stock of the two.
First, lots of people think that Bush is one of the worst Presidents in history. You do not have even go to Comedy Central to hear that kind of talk. It is everywhere. Why do they think he is the worst? They do not give reasons. Disastrous policies seem to be the overwhelming reason of choice, but then again when Obama keeps wire tapping or reauthorize the Patriot Act they will not complain about those same policies. If Obama gives any bailouts then the liberals will be unable to hold that against him either. It really is a mystery to me why he is so hated. But, then some are going to far in defending him as well. What really is there to defend? Sure we have not been attacked since 9/11 but can that really be tied to something Bush did? How long did it take them to attack American soil in-between the two Trade Center attacks? One would assume that we should wait at least that long before we declare we have done anything good. He did capture Sadam, but didn’t the world actually get more dangerous with Kim Jong Il getting nukes and Iran getting close enough that we probably will not be able to stop them? What exactly are they applauding?
Which leads me to my point, we have no idea how to evaluate Presidents. It is ridiculous that we have this high office that we do not understand in the least. I have a suggestion. Maybe we should start evaluating Presidents based on the vow they take to defend and uphold the Constitution. This of course means that President Bush was a disaster. His gross increasing of the Federal Government stands against him, especially in Education and his inability to fix Social Security not to mention adding Prescription Drugs to Medicare. All of it totally unconstitutional. His two wars were “authorized” but never done according to the Constitution. Again then failures. Do not even get me started on the bailouts. Nothing he did will haunt him like the bailouts. For that alone he deserves to be paned as a President. I would vote for Franklin Pierce a thousand times before I vote for Bush. Yet, despite his enormous sins against the Contitution, he cannot be considered the worst ever. FDR and LBJ ignored the Constitution altogether. Woodrow Wilson tried to make America subservient to the League of Nations. That cannot look good for someone who swore to uphold America and her sovereignty. And then Bush never got caught doing something truly corrupt unlike Grant and Harding. Those guys were pretty corrupt.
Second, we need to hold Obama to the same standard. All indications are that following or acknowledging that the Constitution exists are way above Obama’s pay grade. Obama wants to make FDR look like a penny pincher. Nationalizing health care was a top agenda item during the campaign. The appointment of radical Tom Daschale shows that Obama does favor the single payer system, and that America should brace for the worst health care in the world. Soon we will be booking flights to Haiti for dental work. Obama also has shown that he will redistribute wealth. The Founders would all have heart attacks at hearing a President express such notions. And the worst offense at all is his plan to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law, which will abolish state laws concerning abortion so that mass murder that would make the Nazis envious will be the norm in America. In addition to moral revulsion at such as suggestion, the Constitution also cries out against such usurpation of power. So, things are not looking good for President 44.
For people who love the American Constitution and the American system, there has not been much to cheer about in the last 8 years. But then again, today is nothing to cheer about either.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I will just start this out by talking about Ulrich Zwingli. Now Zwingli is hardly a forgotten Reformer, but he is one that serves more as a punching bag today than how he ought to be treated: as the man who started the Reformation.
Now, I know that Luther is generally considered the guy who started the Reformation, and that in 1517 he posted those 95 Theses and kicked off the Reformation. However, Reformed histories spend way too much time on Luther. Go read the 95 Theses. They are not really even reformed. There were thousands of Romanists who thought indulgences were bad. Luther just wanted to improve the morality, but the Pope saw it as a challenge and the rest is history. That document is only implicitly Protestant and there is good evidence that Luther himself did not yet realize the direction he had set. Zwingli on the other hand knew exactly what he was doing. One of the reasons he does not the get the credit he deserves is because there is not one big event like the Theses you can point to as a jump start. Usually it is pointed out that Zwingli started preaching straight through the Bible and abandoned the Romanist method of preaching in 1519 or the Affair of Sausages in 1522 where he rejected Lenten fasting. However, Zwingli was Reformed before he ever reached Zurich. In 1516 he was preaching in a town called Einsiedeln. This town had a Shrine to Mary to which people made pilgrimages. It was therefore a great economic support to the town. Yet, Zwingli preached against pilgrimages and “Judaizing ceremonies” of the Romish church. He preached Christ was the only mediator and probably other evangelical doctrines making Zwingli the first Reformer. Unlike Luther, Zwingli started out going to the heart of the matter, not puttering around the edges with indulgences.
Zwingli also reformed not just the town of Zurich, but the entire canton. He did this in several ways. First, he instituted a preaching service on market day so that the farmers could also hear the word of God. Second, he hired good men to staff the Zurich Academy and help him preach in the town’s four churches. Men like Leo Juda and Casper Hedio were among his first helpers in Zurich. Third, they together translated the Bible into German so that everyone could have the Word of God. Of course the Zurich Bible was completed five years before Luther finished his. Fourth, Zwingli put good young men into the country churches. Men like Henrich Bullinger started out in the small towns in the canton of Zurich. Bullinger started in the town of Kappel, later famous for the battles and treaties signed there. In this way, Zwingli spread the Reformation to all. Zurich became the leading light of the Reformation. When the other cantons tried to reform they turned to Zurich for help.
Zwingli today is best known for his view of the sacraments. Except the problem is that his view is mangled and misrepresented. Zwinglianism is basically a synonym for Memorialism today. Yet, Zwingli did not hold to Memorialism. Zwingli clearly disagreed with Luther and would not go that far, but he was not a mere memorialist. He held the sacraments truly aided our faith when partaken rightly. Don’t forget that Calvin went to Zurich when he was thinking over the sacraments. It was to Bullinger that Calvin wrote to gain clarity on the subject. It was Bullinger who drew up the Consensus Tigurinus, which both Zurich and Geneva signed. Bullinger’s views were not that different from his mentors. If they had been the signing of that document would have caused an uproar in Zurich. It can be assumed that Zwingli’s views were faithfully represented in that document.
Zwingli is not a “forgotten” or “unknown” reformer, but he is one that does not receive the credit that is due his name. This is not to say that Zwingli is perfect. He clearly made a better pastor than politician, and his rush to arms cost him his life. Yet, Zwingli gets very little attention. Take for example the book, The Reformation Era by Harold Grimm. This book gives 155 pages to Luther, and at least 47 to Calvin by himself. Zwingli merits 13. He garners six more if you give Zwingli credit for the Marburg Colloquy with Luther. This sort of treatment of Zwingli is normal perhaps even better than normal. It is high time we start seeing Zwingli in a better light and acknowledge him as the starter of the Reformed Reformation.
Friday, January 16, 2009
This is the 500 anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. A lot of things will be done this year to celebrate the occasion. In fact for those who are interested at least one month of the Reformed Herald will be dedicated to Calvin if my memory serves me correctly. I am sure the blogosphere will likewise be filled with tributes and things to Calvin, who was without a doubt a great man with a lasting influence.
However, I will be taking the opposite tact. I will be discussing the “Unknown Reformers” and occasionally talking about why Calvin gets too much credit. Now to be clear and up front, I like John Calvin. He is magnificent. His Institutes are a must read. So let no man say that I am opposed to Calvin. I simply think that the Reformed church as a whole is hurt by not knowing more of the founding fathers of the Reformation, many of which I believe play a more significant role than Calvin.
I will of course be trying to back this up as the year continues in several posts, but let me start by showing the need to see more than just Calvin in the Reformation. First, think of the Reformers. Who do you think of first? Luther? Calvin? Knox? Well, those are all bad answers. The Reformation Wall in France has large statues of Luther, Farel, Calvin, and Knox. Now, Luther should not be considered as part of the Reformed Reformation. He was after all Lutheran and in his own words thought the Reformers were “off a different spirit”. I agree with that assertion. Knox did a lot to Reform Scotland, but also did a lot to hinder England. And in the end, his reformation of Scotland was incomplete and Episcopal in nature. It had to be completed by Andrew Melville later. Farel, I could grant as he did a lot as the Barnabas of the Reformation, but in the end, his home was with the Waldenseans and other than that he was run out of a lot of places, including Geneva. And Calvin, well that is a longer subject, but it is always important to remember that while the Reformation was doing the hard work of getting started, he was yet to even write his work on Seneca much less his works on God.
I will write some posts on why we ought to revere Zwingli more and the others whose names are forgotten. Do we even know who John Oecomlampadius is? We should. What of Matthew Zell or Wolfgang Capito? We might know Henry Bullinger but we ought to hold him in higher view. And we would be remiss if we left off Jan Laski, whose influence stretches far and wide; from Poland to England.
In the end, it is important to remember that Calvin did not actually introduce the Reformation anywhere. Geneva was already convinced Romanism was wrong by the time Farel forced Calvin to stay. France was reforming long before Calvin, and Switzerland as a whole protected Geneva so that Calvin could do his work. They protected Geneva because they were already a generation into their Reformation. Do we even know who brought the Reformation to Geneva? Farel did as did Antione Fremont. When was the last time you heard anything about Fremont? Then they got Pierre Viret. Do you remember Viret? Did you know that Geneva paid Viret more than they paid Calvin? Apparently Viret was a better preacher. He was in Geneva before Calvin as well.
We put Calvin on this high pedestal, but I think it clouds our historical view. Calvin did great things. His commentaries are great, his Institutes are great. His work shows his faith. Yet, there were other men of similar great faith and who had many great works, but we forget them. So I am going to take this 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth to highlight those that laid the foundation and paved the road upon which Calvin trod.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
A few things we should have learned from this past year of sports. Lessons that I hope we will not soon forget.
1. The smaller conferences should pull out of the BCS. They have fielded the only undefeated team and were not allowed to play for a national title. They won their bowl game and will not be given the national title. Why stay? Let us also not forget that they had a second undefeated team during the regular season and that team was left out of the BCS altogether in favor of two loss Ohio State. Come on.
2. Brad Childress is the worst coach in the NFL. I will not call for him to be fired because I hate that. However, it cannot be denied that he has the best running back in the NFL, a serviceable quarterback, and a defense that is average, and the team stinks. He should never have benched Tavaris Jackson. And he should run a few roll-out plays when Jackson is in the game. The last possession of the first half in the play off game says it all. There is just under a minute left. They could have taken knees and gone into the half, and no one could complain. They could have made a few attempts to get a first down or two with their two remaining time outs and no one would complain. But Coach Childress runs on first down and the other team takes a time out. He throws incomplete on second down and then runs on third down. The other team takes their last time out and gets the ball back with a full 20 seconds left. That is unacceptable. That is the worst coach in the NFL.
3. The Yankees will continue to fail and will continue to do so spending giant amounts of money. I will go ahead and go on record. They will lose the American League East this year. They will add all sorts of new players, and they will still find ways to mess this up. That is the Yankee tradition. Since they have gone Free Agent crazy they have not won the World Series. They did win it when they relied on their own home grown talent like Jeter, Rivera, and Bernie Williams plus a few random old timers. Since they pay the big bucks for A-Rod and whoever else is on the market they stink.
4. MLB most valuable player awards are a joke. This year in the American League they gave the award to Dustin Pedroia. Why? Because he is from Boston. That is the only good reason. I think Justin Morneau had a better year and Josh Hamilton from Texas makes a better story. However, the guy who deserved the award led the league in Average. He is the only catcher to ever do it. Now he has done it twice. I am talking about Joe Mauer. This guy is the best in baseball. He took the Twins to heights no one thought they would be this year losing out on the playoffs on a tie-breaker game, #163 for the year. Mauer has gold glove quality defense and was leading a bunch of rookies on the mound. Glen Perkins, Nate Blackwell, and Kevin Slowey. He also had two second year players in Scot Baker and Nelson Lirano. That is a resume that screams MVP. I don’t care that Pedroia hit in four different spots in the line up. That is pointless. If you can hit in one you can hit in them all. Mauer could do that too, but his coach is not that dumb.
5. Tom Brady is the most overrated quarterback of all time. The debate about whether he is better than Peyton Manning is now over. Manning wins. Brady is worth about six wins more than a high school quarterback, maybe. Is Brady a system quarterback that thrived on being in the worst division in the history of the National Football League last year? Absolutely. Just as he took his job via injury, he has now lost it for good. So long Tom, it was nice knowing you.
6. I was right that the Nuggets were better off without “Ball Hog” Alan Iverson. They actually have a chance to do something good this year now that their big man is uninjured and they have a point guard. This is perfect. J.R. Smith can now play shooting guard, Melo at the wing and a champion point guard who knows how to play defense can anchor the point. If the NBA were not a league of thugs and pointlessness, I would be excited to watch the Nuggets this year.
Feel free to add your own lessons learns in this past year of sports. Although China being a nation of cheaters is not allowed because we have know that communism cheats in the Olympics for many, many years.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
I have a friend who is very knowledgeable about modern scholarship and has many, many commentaries. I dare say he is easily the most well-read man on commentaries that I have ever met. He often lets me borrow some to aid my small library and I greatly appreciate it. I have some of the old standards like Calvin and Kistemaker, so I always borrow the newer guys. I have noticed a few things while going through the Epistles of Peter, and I thought I would simply share my thoughts here.
What I have noticed is a trend in modern scholarship to move away from older readings, often time in my opinion with very little reason to do so, or at least shaky reasons. I wish I had written all the examples down from I Peter, but I didn’t. Needless to say the controversial passages such as I Peter 3:18-22 is one where you will not find many modern commentators defending the Augustinian view of that passage or even the Medieval Roman view about descending into hell. They have a new explanation. But I am not just talking about confusing and disputed passages, I am talking about passages where no real disagreement existed before.
Take II Peter 1:1 “To those who have received like precious faith with us . . .”
Now you look at Kistemaker and Calvin and even William Barclay the liberal they all agree that “faith” in this passage is the subjective personal faith, the trusting in the Lord Jesus for salvation. Of these only Kistemaker says that there are multiple possibilities in reading the word faith. He defends his choice of the subjective faith rather than objective faith (ie. a body of teaching) in one paragraph consisting of 10 lines where he defines both terms. He takes two sentences to explain why the context makes it subjective.
Now newer commentaries like Gene L. Green’s commentary published this year takes a subjective stance on faith. It is the same doctrinal teaching, not the same receiving and trusting of God. So does Peter Davids who is published in 2006. Both take the objective meaning of faith. Why this departure? Surprisingly little time is devoted to it. David’s mentions that some have read it a different way, but merely states that it fits the context better despite his admission that the more normal usage of the word is subjective.
Now I would not bother posting here if this did not continue. Take II Peter 1:5 “add to your faith, virtue . .” Here again the older commentators all take faith to be the subjective trusting and believing in Christ. But the newer guys all reject that reading. Here, however, both Davids and Green take faith to mean “faithfulness”. Their defense? It means this most often in non-biblical virtue lists. That seems more than a little flimsy to me.
So my question is about modern scholarship in general. Do modern scholars look to disagree with the past? I can see how no one would want to buy a commentary that said nothing new. Do modern scholars prefer newer readings because we believe that as moderns we have more insights? Am I alone in seeing trends like this? Could it be that I have just made a big deal about nothing? I would like to hear your thoughts.
Oh and for disclosure sake, J.N.D Kelly who is newer than Barclay and Calvin, but slightly older than Kistemaker and older than the other new guys splits the difference by taking an objective view of the first faith, but stays with the older crowd by taking a subjective view of the second faith.