Harvard University used to be a place of astute academic excellence. The key words there are “used to be”. These days the academics are either gullible or lazy. Speaking of which Harvard has lazily made its way into the news again. BBC reports…
[A Harvard divinity professor] Karen King unveiled [a supposed 4th-Century Coptic script] at a conference in Rome. She said researchers had identified the words “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife'”, which might refer to Mary Magdalene.
Christian tradition holds that Jesus did not marry – but Ms King said in early years it was subject to debate. The provocative find could spark debate over celibacy and the role of women within Christianity, she added. But the announcement sparked scepticism from some theologians.
Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, said: “A statement on a papyrus fragment isn’t proof of anything. It’s nothing more than a statement ‘in thin air’, without substantial context.”
Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist attending the same conference as Ms King, said there were “thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things,” and many questions remained about the fragment.
Ms King said the document, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, is the first known scripture in which Jesus is reported to cite his wife. She said the 4th-Century text was a copy of a gospel…
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My friend Jim West gets many questions thrown at him from all over the world. He faithfully responds to each and every one of them honestly (and yup, he pulls no punches)! Recently he was asked this one…
You seem to talk about depravity a lot. Why don’t you spend more time pointing out the good in people?
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The city of Zurich
Once upon a time there was a Swiss pastor called Zwingli. (Okay, that sounds too cheesy). Looking at accounts of Church history and in particular Reformation History how a little known pastor called Huldrych Zwingli became a Reformer (and the people’s pastor). Here is a good story that my good friend Jim West has dug up. Its a sweet story worth reading of how the Reformation was birthed and spread out in Zurich :
1524 marked the completion of the break with the Old Church as far as Zurich was concerned. The changes were made deliberately and under orders from the City Council. They occasioned no revolt, although they were of the most radical description. It was made to appear that the changes came in consequence of the city authorities’ conviction of their scripturalness, and not because Zwingli had insisted upon them. Nor was a step taken without the approval beforehand of the thoughtful classes.
Zwingli and his fellow Reformers argued before the people the propriety of the changes about to be made. Then when a sufficient time had elapsed a public debate was held in the presence of the City Council, and then the Council ordered the changes. The consequence was the changes were made once for all, were fully comprehended, and gladly assented to.
Letter of Marque rightly notes that…
God, the Holy Spirit, inspired the Apostle John to take up his pen and write this word of encouragement and warning to us. In these words we will also find God’s explanation regarding the raging popularity of the Seeker-Driven Mega “churches”. According to scripture, they’re not successful because they’ve tapped into the latest movement of the Spirit, or because their on the cutting edge of revival or because they’ve found a way to communicate the timeless truths of scripture in fresh relevant ways. Nope. Here’s what God says:
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:4–6)
HT Jim West.
Jim West never pulls any punches. He doesn’t beat about the bush either and that’s the reason I love his blog. Today we will visit his blog and listen in on a question and answer session. Hey, do not say I did not warn you 😉
First, let me thank you for your blog. I love it. I do have a question. What is your definition of a mega church?
That’s actually an easy question to answer- a mega-church is any church which is so large that the Pastor doesn’t know the names of every person who regularly attends. Such Pastors aren’t truly pastors – they are merely functionaries, public speakers. Pastors know their flock just as shepherds know their sheep. It is no accident at all that the early Church seized on the analogy of the Pastor as shepherd.
For that reason a church which is so big that the Pastor can’t or doesn’t know those who come is no longer a Church as such but a group, an ‘audience’, nothing more.
With all best wishes,
I told ya! 😉
John Calvin was born in 1509. He died in 1564. This year on the 27th of May we will read what Philip Schaff wrote about John’s death. Before he died his last wish was to be buried in an unmarked grave with no witnesses and no ceremony. Schaff writes:
… Calvin spent his last days in almost continual prayer, and in ejaculating comforting sentences of Scripture, mostly from the Psalms. He suffered at times excruciating pains. He was often heard to exclaim: “I mourn as a dove” (Isa. 38:14); “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it” (Ps. 39:9); “Thou bruisest me, O Lord, but it is enough for me that it is thy hand.” His voice was broken by asthma, but his eyes remained bright, and his mind clear and strong to the last. He admitted all who wished to see him, but requested that they should rather pray for him than speak to him.
On the day of his death he spoke with less difficulty. He fell peacefully asleep with the setting sun towards eight o’clock, and entered into the rest of his Lord. “I had just left him,” says Beza, “a little before, and on receiving intimation from the servants, immediately hastened to him with one of the brethren. We found that he had already died, and so very calmly, without any convulsion of his feet or hands, that he did not even fetch a deeper sigh. He had remained perfectly sensible, and was not entirely deprived of utterance to his very last breath. Indeed, he looked much more like one sleeping than dead.”
He had lived fifty-four years, ten months, and seventeen days.
HT Jim West. (And there is a good collection of posts here. Thanks to my good friend and insomniac, Jim again! 😉 )
One of my favorite theologians, the ever witty Dr Jim West has just been going through his King James Bible (KJV) and realises that:
I John 2:2 declares ‘And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’ (KJV). There’s just one problem with this translation: ἱλασμός doesn’t mean ‘propitiation’, it means ‘expiation’.
When you ‘propitiate’ a deity you do the same thing as the natives do when they trundle up a volcano and toss a virgin in it to stop the angry god from destroying you and your fellow islanders.
When ‘expiation’ occurs you do the same thing as the Israelites did when they put their hands on the scapegoat and sent it off into the wilderness. That goat ‘bears your sins away’ where they can’t harm you anymore and their effects are ameliorated.
This is why accurate translation matters. The difference between rendering ἱλασμός propitiation and expiation is the difference between pagan ritual and revelation. …Read More!
Ever asked your self “Should pastors marry any one who darkens their door step?” An article in the HuffPo by a supposed ‘wedding expert’ advises those preparing to be married to check out their pastor/ officiant. Jim West on the other hand has no problems with that as long as pastors do the same practice to create the necessary firewalls against participating in the farcical weddings (of unbelievers). This adapted list will make you chuckle:
1. Be sure they’re legit. People who have been married half a dozen times are poor candidates. As are those who have been shacking up for a decade. If the couple isn’t willing to place God at the center of their life together, then you should have no part in it.
2. Ask God for suggestions. Don’t marry a couple just because they want you to. Nothing in Scripture requires you to perform wedding ceremonies and these days most of the time they are as much a joke as the marriage which they preface. You DON’T HAVE TO MARRY ANYONE.
3. Take a meeting. If the couple refuses counseling, send them to the Episcopalians. They don’t care who they marry. And if the bride turns into a Bridezilla, just tell them that they’ll have to go elsewhere. There’s no call to subject yourself to the absurd abuse of a hate-filled manipulative foul mouthed Bridezilla.
4. Check out the scripts. If their self-written vows are imbecilic, show them the door. …Read More!
My good friend and theologian Jim West has decided to draw the line in the sand on that issue of abstinence and pregnancy and where the moral line lies. So, shouldn’t the church be urging kids to abstain from fornication to avoid pregnancy and nasty sexually transmitted diseases? Well Jim raises the bar higher than that…
For Christians, for the Church, such a reason is totally inadequate and totally inappropriate. More correctly, teens and unmarried persons should abstain from sexual activity because such activity is contrary to the purpose and will of God and is in fact sin.
When we tell people to abstain in order to avoid pregnancy we make the commandment of God of no account. This is utterly inexcusable for Christians, theologians and the Church.
The ‘practical’ reason for abstinence, the avoidance of an unwanted child, is a reason completely foreign …Read More!
This week in church history we take a break and courageously read through a letter that was written by Huldrych Zwingli. I would like to believe this letter never got mailed to the intended recipient a mischievous character called Johannes Eck.
“Look out, you impudent chap, now you will experience an examination which can’t be borne by you, but only by a Hercules. You actually deserve it, that one would hurl against you everything that gives insult, derision, and offense… Is it not almost insane that you think so much of yourself, that you write against me to the Confederation in such a shameless, rude and disgusting manner?
Were you born to cause only confusion everywhere? You lacked the strength to act, after you exposed your stupidity in the presence of all, and you also still need to abandon your wickedness, so that the world has not only Eck’s foolishness, but also his meanness for a very long time as a deterring example before its eyes…
Everything manifests externally what it is internally; whether you look like a human or like an ape on the outside. You are indeed in action nothing other than a cow. You still need, as it appears to me, and everyone else, to be broken like a mule or a donkey. I could never find a man more miserable than you, even if I scanned the whole of Germany… Oh, There’s More
Ever had those questions that kept you awake on Saturday nights? Well if those questions are about Huldrych Zwingli who better to ask than Dr. Jim West.
Every now and again I’ll be debunking myths and legends related to the life of Huldrych Zwingli. That because 1) too few people actually read Zwingli. And 2) too many people read about Zwingli in sources that aren’t always reliable.
It was related by a Professor of Church History to our undergrad class (back in the early 80′s) that when Zwingli rejected the playing of organs at Zurich’s churches that he took the key to the organ at the Grossmunster and tossed it in the Limmat, the river that bisects Zurich and empties into the Lake Zurich.
That Professor was wrong. He was merely repeating a legend he had either heard or he made it up himself (the same way Scott Bailey does when he writes about Zwingli, by the way- evidently forgetting that Rev 21:8 proclaims that all liars have their place in the lake of fire). Read More