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Archive for December, 2010

A Confession is Not A Confession that Is Not Confessed!

December 18th, 2010 1 comment

… In every church there can be and exists error, and even heretical opinions may occur. Every church is confronted with the problem how to deal in an evangelical way with such errors. What matters is, whether or not a church is prepared to maintain its doctrinal standard, whether it regards its confession as a real confession, and not only as a statute valid before men. I can assert a confession only if I believe it. …Training future pastors belongs to the highest ecclesiastical functions. The confessional obligation of the faculty of St. Louis is obviously different from that of Upsala where the chair of church history was occupied by a Methodist, to take only this example. Here lies for me the root of all differences between Missouri and the LWF churches. For you a confession is nothing, unless it is confessed…

Hermann Sasse, in a letter to Dr John W. Behnken, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, March 1, 1958.

HT Rev. Matthew Harrison

Categories: Rev. Matthew Harrison

An Important Appeal from the President of The LCMS

December 17th, 2010 1 comment

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In a surprising turn of events in the waning days of the current Congress, the effort to repeal the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has gained new momentum with the announcement today of support from Republican senators Scott Brown (Mass.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Olympia Snowe (Maine).  The repeal may be voted on in the Senate as early as tomorrow.  For a number of reasons, we encourage you to let your elected leaders know that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has a clear biblical position on this important issue.

In terms of our spirituality, we are all alike sinners (Rom. 3:9ff.) in need of repentance and forgiveness.  For 2,000 years the church has welcomed sinners, but refused to affirm sin.  The saving grace of Jesus Christ and His Gospel are for all people (2 Cor. 5:19), and the only thing that separates us from this forgiveness is a lack of repentance or sorrow over our sin. We believe the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will sorely inhibit our military chaplains’ ability to call all sinners to repentance.

If the government normalizes homosexual behavior in our military branches—a behavior that we believe God’s Word identifies as intrinsically sinful (Rom. 1:26ff)—the implications are profound.  Military chaplains striving to carry out their responsibilities for preaching, counseling, and consoling will find themselves under the strain of having to question whether to obey God or men (Acts 5:29).

Lastly, we express our concern as citizens that a move by the government to essentially affirm homosexual behavior within the armed forces will endanger the morale or esprit de corps—the unit cohesion and the primary mission of the military, namely, to prosecute and win the war—of the men and women who serve and willingly place themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we urge you to share this message today with your colleagues, congregational members, and any others whom you believe would benefit from it and be moved to contact their government representatives.

You may find the contacts for your senators and representatives here:  http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/

For more information on this issue, see The Lutheran Study Bible, Page 1911, on Romans 1.

God bless you.

Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, President

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Dr. Mark J. Schreiber,

CAPT, CHC, USN, (Ret.)

Director, LCMS World Mission’s Ministry to the Armed Forces

Categories: Uncategorized

The Nativity: Internet Version

December 17th, 2010 10 comments

Categories: Uncategorized

Nothing Says “I Love You” Like a Book of Concord at Christmas: My Christmas Pick

December 16th, 2010 3 comments

Categories: Uncategorized

New Edition of Philip Melanchthon’s Commentary on Romans Available Now

December 16th, 2010 1 comment

My colleague, Rev. Ed Engelbrecht, posted this on his blog site: CPH has just released a second edition of Melanchthon’s classic work: Commentary on Romans. We made corrections to the text and added a persons index and a Scripture index to make the volume more useful to preachers, Bible Study leaders, and researchers. It is available now for purchase. You can take a look at a sample as well.

Dr. Robert Kolb kindly wrote a new foreword, which characterizes Melanchthon’s important contribution to biblical interpretation. Here is one of his observations:

“Among the most significant contributions Melanchthon made to the life of the church were his biblical commentaries. As a part of the movement called “Biblical Humanism,” a program for reforming education at the end of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Melanchthon had a burning interest in rhetoric, the discipline devoted to cultivating good communication skills, and he used these principles of communication, which he regarded as gifts of God, for interpreting Scripture and applying its insights. He made best use of the dictionaries and other aids to biblical study that other humanists of his time had developed. But he subjected the work of Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples, Johannes Reuchlin, his own patron, and Erasmus to the service of conveying the Wittenberg understanding of justification by grace through faith in Christ.”

Here are two other commendations:

The year 2010 is a Melanchthon Year as the 450th anniversary of his death in April 1560 is being commemorated. Fittingly, one of his most famous works is reissued in English, translated from Latin by Fred Kramer: the Commentary on Romans of 1540. Martin Luther had left the lectures on the New Testament primarily to his younger colleague Melanchthon, the lay theologian and Grecian. As a result we have this commentary by the “theological secretary” of the Wittenberg theology: it is a significant milestone in the history of Bible interpretation. It is a classic work of humanist Scripture interpretation.

Franz Posset, PhD, associate editor of Luther Digest

It is rare when a student outshines his teacher, especially when the teacher is Martin Luther. However, the final form of Philip Melanchthon’s lecture notes on Romans may well outdo Luther’s Romans lecture notes of 1515/1516. Melanchthon’s rhetorical and dialectical approach clearly distinguishes Law and Gospel, articulating the latter with great clarity. His extensive review of the Church Fathers on the authority of Scripture is an extraordinary bonus!
Michael Middendorf, PhD, Professor of Theology
Concordia University, Irvine, CA

We hope you’ll enjoy the new edition!

Categories: CPH Resources

Riverdancing Chimps

December 15th, 2010 2 comments

Categories: Humor

Haven’t Found That Perfect Gift Yet? Two Words: Gospel Aerobics

December 15th, 2010 7 comments

Categories: Uncategorized

Avoid Gender Neutrality Like the Plague! Here’s Why

December 14th, 2010 11 comments

Keep in mind, friends, that the same gender neutrality that plagues the new NIV edition, also plagues the Kolb/Wengert Book of Concord, where, for example, in the Smalcald Articles, the translation intentionally distorts the original language to allow for women clergy. See the discussion on the pastor’s self-communion in the SA. Go ahead, track it down. In spite of this being drawn to the attention of the editors and translator and publisher, these egregious error stands to this day in the Kolb/Wengert edition.

And to illustrate the dangers of gender neutrality for theology, this is a very useful blog post by Denny Burk. The essay below appeared yesterday on the “Perspectives in Translation” website. It concerns how the Greek word anthrōpois should be translated in 2 Timothy 2:2. Craig Blomberg has argued that it should be rendered as “people” (as it appears in NIV 2011), but I argue that it should be translated as “men.” Here’s how other translations handle the term:

“men”
NASB
ESV
NIV (1984)
HCSB
KJV
NKJV
RSV
“people”
TNIV
NET
NJB
NLT
NRSV

One other thing before moving on to my response. Two prominent egalitarian New Testament scholars agree with me on this translation—I. Howard Marshall and Luke Timothy Johnson. Johnson is an unabashed liberal in his view of scripture, but I think his comments on this text are apt:

“The phrase pistois anthrōpois could be translated as ‘faithful people,’ since anthrōpos is inclusive for all humans, in contrast to anēr, which can mean only males. I translate ‘faithful men,’ however, because that is clearly what the text means. In the case of the Pastorals, an attempt to create a gender-inclusive translation only camoflouges the pervasive androcentrism of the composition. For better or for worse, the assumptions of the author’s culture (or place within his culture) should be accepted by the translation. It is the task of hermeneutics to decide what to do about those assumptions” (The First and Second Letters to Timothy, p. 365).

Johnson thinks the text means “men,” even though he goes on to reject its normative significance for modern readers. Of course I disagree with his rejection of biblical authority, but his interpretation is certainly correct. My response to Blomberg is below.

———-

Dr. Blomberg’s argument in favor of rendering anthrōpois as “people” is illuminating. 2 Timothy 2:2 has not been much of a flashpoint in the gender debate, and there is not much published material on the “men” vs. “people” question. Last week, I made my way through fourteen different commentaries on this verse. Out of the six of them that favored the translation “people,” not a single one of them put forth a sustained argument in favor of that translation. The most they have to offer is the observation that the plural of anthropos is regularly used generically. Thus Blomberg’s earlier post on this site is the most substantial argument in favor of “people” that I have read.

That being said, I do want to contest Dr. Blomberg’s conclusion that says “people” is “the only legitimate translation” of anthrōpois. It is true that the plural of anthropos is often used generically (e.g., 1 Tim 2:1, 4; 4:10; 6:5; 2 Tim 3:2; Tit 2:11; 3:2), but that fact is no argument for a generic referent in a given context. As Ray Van Neste pointed out in his post, if we want to understand the word’s appearance in 2 Timothy 2:2, we must look to context. So let me make some observations about the context that in my view tip the scales decisively in favor of the translation “men.”

First, there is precedent in the pastorals for Paul’s use of plural anthropos in a gender-specific way. In 2 Timothy 3:8, for instance, Paul writes, “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose

the truth–men [anthrōpoi] of depraved minds,

who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.” The anthrōpoi here must be men since they are “worming their way into women’s homes” (Mounce, Pastoral Eptistles, p. 550). If this is correct, then the anthrōpoi of both 3:2 and 3:13 should be understood as males as well. Consider also the anthrōpoi of 1 Timothy 5:24: “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.” In context, Paul is telling Timothy to be careful about whom he appoints as elders (v. 5:22: “Do not lay hands on a man too quickly”). Since Paul held to an all male eldership (1 Timothy 2:12; 3:2), the anthrōpoi of 5:24 must also be males. Given Paul’s use of anthrōpoi in a gender-specific way both in the pastorals and elsewhere (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:7), we have to allow for the possibility that context can determine anthrōpoi with a masculine referent.

Second, in the context of 2 Timothy 2, Paul is telling Timothy to entrust the gospel to faithful anthrōpoi who will be able to teach others (2:2). Notice the one qualification that Paul has for the anthrōpoi. They must be qualified to teach “others.” This is significant because “others” is a masculine plural pronoun [ἑτέρους]. That means that “others” would consist of both men and women or of men only. Since Paul has already prohibited women from teaching Christian doctrine to men (1 Timothy 2:12), women would not be qualified to teach “others.” Thus, when Paul employs anthrōpoi here, he certainly has in mind males only. Contextually speaking, anthrōpoi must be gender-specific in this text. It seems that Paul wishes to emphasize the special responsibility that qualified men have to pass the faith on to the next generation.

With this interpretation in mind, we are in a position to answer Blomberg’s arguments in favor of “people.”

1. Blomberg argues that “people” is a grammatical “slam dunk” because the plural of anthropos is “regularly” used in a gender-inclusive way. Nevertheless, the regular use of anthropos in a gender-inclusive way is not argument for its meaning in a given context. Gender-specific uses of anthropos are also within the term’s range of possible meanings, so the argument for “people” has to be developed within the context of 2 Timothy (and the other pastorals). I do not think Blomberg has provided such an argument yet.

2. Blomberg argues that translating anthropois as “people” would not “infringe on those restrictions” Paul set up to prohibit women from teaching men. The problem with this argument is twofold. First, the term “others” is masculine plural, so the teaching of both men and women is in view. Thus, Blomberg cannot placate complementarian concerns with the suggestion that only the teaching of women and children is in view. Second, most English readers will read “people” in a gender-inclusive way. If Paul did not intend to be gender-inclusive in this text, why obscure the point for English readers?

3. Blomberg says that the translation “faithful men” will be heard by most readers as gender-specific, not as gender-inclusive. In this context, he is certainly right about this. But those who favor the translation “faithful men” do not do so because they believe “men” to be gender-inclusive. On the contrary, they favor “men” because they believe males are in view.

4. Blomberg also mentions his experience in parachurch organizations for whom this text is a staple. In those organizations, this text is a touchstone for understanding the organic disciple-making process that is incumbent upon all Christians, both men and women. I would argue that such organizations can still access this text in support of such disciple-making ministries. But when they do so, they should find that support in a legitimate implication of the text, not as Paul’s original meaning. In context, Paul is addressing the special responsibilities of church leadership who are supposed to be examples to the rest of the flock (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).

Finally, let me offer a word about how this text has been rendered in the NIV and its revisions since 1984.

Text of 2 Timothy 2:2 Marginal Notes
NIV 1984

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

TNIV 2002

And the things you have heard me say

in the presence of many witnesses

entrust to reliable peoplea who will also be qualified to teach others.

a 2 Or men
TNIV 2005

And the things you have heard me say

in the presence of many witnesses

entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

NIV 2010

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

Only one word has been changed in this verse from the 1984 NIV to the 2010 revision. “Men” has changed to “people.” The initial change occurred in TNIV 2002, and a marginal note was added to give the alternate interpretation from the NIV 1984. In the TNIV 2005 and in the NIV 2010, there is no indication in the notes at all about another possible interpretation of this text.

If my interpretation is correct, then anthrōpois should be rendered as “men” in the text of NIV 2011. Short of that, the marginal note that appeared in TNIV 2002 should be restored to show that there is another possible translation of the text.

Build A Story: Add Your Own Sentences or Paragraphs

December 12th, 2010 25 comments

OK, so let’s have some fun.

Let’s build a story. I’ll start it, and you can add to it either a sentence or two, or a brief paragraph, via comment.

Here’s how this story begins:

It was a cold morning. The kind of cold that soaks deeply into your bones, no matter how thick your coat is. He headed off into the darkness, the wind howling, the snow blowing, not sure what he would find that day.

Take it away!

Categories: Uncategorized

Why, and How, are Christians To Do Good Works?

December 12th, 2010 18 comments

From Martin Chemnitz in his Enchiridion:

The Augsburg Confession and the Apology set forth the reasons thus: It is necessary to do good works commanded by God, not that we may trust to earn grace by them, but because of the will and command of God, likewise to exercise faith, and for the sake of confession and giving of thanks. Urbanus Rhegius, in the booklet De formulis caute loquendi, summarizes the reasons in this way:

I. Because our good works are due obedience commanded by God which we creatures owe the Creator, and they are as it were thanksgiving for the favors of God and sacrifices pleasing to God because of Christ.

II. That our heavenly Father might be glorified thereby.

III. That our faith might be exercised and increased by our good works, so that it may grow and be stirred up.

IV. That our neighbor might be edified by our good works and spurred to imitation and be helped in need.

V. That we might make our calling sure by good works and testify that our faith is neither feigned nor dead.

VI. Though our good works do not merit either justification or salvation, yet they are to be done, since they have promises of this life and of that which is to come. 1 Ti 4:8.

In Loci communes Philipp Melanchthon lists in this order the reasons why good works are to be done:

I. Because it is God’s command, and we are debtors.

II. Lest faith be lost and the Holy Spirit grieved and driven out.

III. To avoid punishments.

IV. Since our works, though they do not fulfill the law of God and not merit eternal life, are nevertheless called by God sacrifices that both please and serve Him for the sake of Christ.

V. Since godliness has promises of this life and of that which is to come.

Luther sets forth the reasons why good works are to be done in such a way that, if they were briefly summarized, the list would be about this:

First, some have regard to God Himself, namely since it is the will of God (1 Th 4:3) and the command of God (1 Jn 4:21). And since He is our Father, it therefore behooves us children to render obedience to the Father (1 Ptr 1:14, 16–17; 1 Jn 3:2–3). And as He loved us and graciously forgave [our] sins, so we also should love the brethren, forgiving them [their] sins (Eph 4:32; 1 Jn 4:11), that God might be glorified through us (Ph 1:1; 1 Ptr 4:11; Mt 5:16). Christ also redeemed us, that, being dead to sins, we might live unto righteousness and serve Him (1 Ptr 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; Tts 2:10; Lk 1:74–75; Gl 5:25). Nor should we grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30; 1 Th 4:8).

II. Some motivating reasons for good works have regard to the reborn themselves. For since we are dead to sins, we ought therefore no longer walk in sins but live unto righteousness (Ro 6:2, 18; 2 Co 5:17; Eph 5:8, 11). Likewise, that we might have sure testimony that our faith is not false, feigned, or dead, but true and living [faith], which works by love (1 Jn 2:9–10; 3:6, 10; 4:7–8; 2 Ptr 1:8; Mt 7:17; Gl 5:6). And that we might not drive out faith, grieve the Holy Spirit, [and] lose righteousness and salvation (1 Ti 1:19; 5:8; 6:10; 1 Ptr 2:11; 2 Ptr 1:9; 2:20; Ro 8:13; Gl 5:21; Cl 3:6; Eph 4:30). And that we might not draw divine punishments on ourselves (1 Co 6:9–10; 1 Th 4:6; Mt 3:10; 25:30; Lk 6:37; Ps 89:31–32).

III. Some reasons have regard to the neighbor, namely that the neighbor be helped and served by good works (Lk 14:13; 1 Jn 3:16–18). That [our] neighbor might be drawn to godliness by our example (Mt 5:16; 1 Ptr 3:1). That we be not an offense to others (1 Co 10:32; 2 Co 6:3; Ph 2:15; Heb 12:15). That we might stop the mouths of adversaries (1 Ptr 2:12; 3:16; Tts 2:7–8). And it is unimportant in what order the reasons are listed because of which good works are to be done, provided the Scripture basis of this article is retained complete and pure.

Martin Chemnitz and Luther Poellot, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments : An Enchiridion, electronic ed., 98-99 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Categories: Christian Life

Henrietta and Merna vs. Al Jarreau – Go Tell It On the Mountain

December 11th, 2010 11 comments

I report, you decide which captures the spirit of “Go Tell It On the Mountain” best.

Categories: Humor

Scientists Find More Stars: Stars Did Not Realize They Were Lost

December 11th, 2010 6 comments

The night sky may be a lot starrier than we thought. Source: Fox News.

A study suggests the universe could have triple the number of stars scientists previously calculated. For those of you counting at home, the new estimate is 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s 300 sextillion.

The study questions a key assumption that astronomers often use: that most galaxies have the same properties as our Milky Way. And that’s creating a bit of a stink among astronomers who want a more orderly cosmos.

It’s one of two studies being published online Wednesday in the journal Nature that focus on red dwarf stars, the most common stars in the universe. The study that offers the new estimate on stars is led by a Yale University astronomer. He calculates that there are far more red dwarfs than previously thought, and that inflates the total star count.

A second study led by a Harvard University scientist focuses on a distant “super Earth” planet and sees clues to the content of its atmosphere — the first of this kind of data for this size planet. It orbits a red dwarf.

Red dwarf stars — about a fifth the size of our sun — burn slowly and last much longer than the bigger, brighter stars, such as the sun in the center of our solar system, said Yale astronomer Pieter van Dokkum. His study looks at how many red dwarfs are in elliptical-shaped galaxies.

When scientists had estimated previously how many stars there were in the universe, they assumed that all galaxies had the same ratio of dwarf stars as in our galaxy, which is spiral-shaped. Much of our understanding of the universe is based on observations inside our Milky Way and then extrapolated to other galaxies.

But about one-third of the galaxies in the universe are not spiral, but elliptical, and van Dokkum found they aren’t really made up the same way as ours.

Using the Keck telescope in Hawaii, van Dokkum and a colleague gazed into eight other distant, but elliptical, galaxies and looked at their hard-to-differentiate light signatures. The scientists calculated that elliptical galaxies have more of those dwarf stars. A lot more.

“We’re seeing 10 or 20 times more stars than we expected,” van Dokkum said. By his calculations, that triples the number of estimated stars from 100 sextillion to 300 sextillion.

For the past month, astronomers have been buzzing about van Dokkum’s findings, and many aren’t too happy about it, said astronomer Richard Ellis of the California Institute of Technology.

Van Dokkum’s paper challenges the assumption of “a more orderly universe” and gives credence to “the idea that the universe is more complicated than we think,” Ellis said. “It’s a little alarmist.”

Ellis said it is too early to tell if van Dokkum is right or wrong, but it is shaking up the field “like a cat among pigeons.”

Van Dokkum agreed, saying, “Frankly, it’s a big pain.”

Ellis said the new study does make sense. Its biggest weakness might be its assumption that the chemical composition of dwarf stars is the same in elliptical galaxies as in the Milky Way. That might be wrong, Ellis said. Even if it is, it would mean there are only five times more red dwarf stars in elliptical galaxies than scientists previously thought, instead of 10 or 20, van Dokkum said.

Slightly closer to home, at least in our own galaxy, one dwarf star has astronomers at Harvard taking another step in their search for life. They were able to home in on the atmosphere of a planet circling that star using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The planet lives up to the word alien.

Their paper reports that this giant planet’s atmosphere is either dense with sizzling water vapor like a souped-up steam bath, or it’s full of hazy, choking hydrogen and helium clouds with a slightly blue tint. The latter is more likely, say the researchers and others not involved in the study.

While scientists have been able to figure out the atmosphere of gas giants the size of Jupiter or bigger, this is a first for the type of planet called a super Earth — something with a mass 2 to 10 times Earth’s. It is more comparable to Neptune and circles a star about 42 light years from Earth. A light year is nearly 6 trillion miles.

And while this planet is nowhere near livable — it’s about 440 degrees (about 225 degrees Celsius) — characterizing its atmosphere is a big step toward understanding potentially habitable planets outside our solar system, said study chief author Jacob Bean at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“You wouldn’t want to be there. It would be unpleasant,” said study co-author Eliza Kempton of the University of California Santa Clara.

Bean and Kempton looked at the light spectrum signature from the large planet as it passed in front of the dwarf star, and the result led to two possible conclusions: steam bath or haze.

The steam bath is the more interesting possibility because water is key to life, said outside scientist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

But an upcoming and still unpublished study by Kempton and Bryce Croll at the University of Toronto points more toward a hydrogen-helium atmosphere, several astronomers said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/01/scientists-sextillion-stars/#ixzz16tqXWA4W

Categories: Uncategorized

Plus, it doubles as a mini-Burka and an outfit for the KKK

December 11th, 2010 Comments off
Categories: Humor

Beware of Camels in Church

December 10th, 2010 5 comments

Might want to rethink the whole live animals in church thing….thank God nobody was hurt.

Categories: Uncategorized

God Inspired Metaphors: Another Problem with the New International Version

December 10th, 2010 5 comments

A problem with modern Bible “translations” that intend to try to capture meaning, rather than translate the actual text of the Bible, is that they often destroy, or badly mangle, the metaphors in the original languages. Dr. Gene Edward Veith had a great comment about this on his blog site that I’d thought I’d pass along here:

In my earlier post about the even newer New International Version of the Bible, I complained about how that line of translations is indifferent to metaphor, poetry, and beauty of language. I cited as an example how the new NIV renders “the valley of the shadow of death” as “the dark valley.”

I would argue that sensitivity to literary qualities is necessary in an accurate translation. Metaphors are not just ornaments. They express meaning and are essential in expressing complex, multi-leveled, rich meanings that go beyond simple prosaic statements.

Consider these translations of Genesis 4:1: T

The historic English Bible, from the KJV through the ESV, keeps the Hebrew metaphor: “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived.”

The 1984 NIV thinks it has to explain what the metaphor means: “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant.”

The 2010 NIV is more romantic: “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant.”

The original Hebrew uses a profound metaphor that communicates important meaning about marital sexuality in God’s design: They “knew” each other.

Ironically, the other readings are just as metaphorical and even more euphemistic. “Lay with” is ugly and strangely old-fashioned, a version of “sleep with.” “Make love,” not too long ago, meant courting or flirting, not having sex (so that many contemporary readers of 19th century novels think they are much more racy than they are).

At any rate, “Adam knew Eve” is how the original language reads. If God inspired the words, He surely inspired the metaphors.