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Reading Scripture with John Calvin: Malachi 1.11–14

Malachi 1.11–14

[11] “My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. [12] “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ [13] And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. [14] “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”

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COMMENTARY: This has been a hard passage to work through with Calvin, and I feel somewhat at a loss for words. Yes, yes, gentle readers, it can happen even to us…

The Story of the Wittenberg Concord – Kittelson on Luther

I mentioned previously that I had read this book and found some of its material interesting enough to share with you, gentle readers.

This piece is Kittelson’s description of how the Wittenberg Concord, as they say, went down. I found it to be a rather interesting story, and one that I had not heard before in anything like this much detail. So bear with me as this is going to be long. But you just might learn something like I did. The setting is Spring 1536.

James M. Kittelson, Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career (Fortress, 2003), 267–68.
Unpredictably, Luther also showed himself willing to overlook, at least for the moment, one misstep on the part of the Strasbourg pastors. In February Bucer and Capito participated in writing a confession for the Baslers in which they minimized the physical presence of Christ in the bread and the wine. Perhaps unaware of what had transpired, Luther still invited them and other south German theologians to a meeting at Eisenach on…

A Friendly Critique from Hauerwas: Rauschenbusch and the "Kingdom of Evil" (5)

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Stanley Hauerwas, some may be surprised to learn, deeply respects the work of Walter Rauschenbusch. In many ways, the two thinkers seem to share a common heritage. Note this appraisal of the Social Gospel thinker by the renowned contemporary theologian and ethicist:

Walter Rauschenbusch was an evangelist of the kingdom of God. The sermon that is Christianity and the Social Gospel is as desperately needed in our day as it was in his. The passion for justice, his prayers for social awakening, the hymns of social solidarity, and the institutions for humane care he created cannot be taken for granted. The work he began we must continue (176).

Constantine I
These comments come from short a commentary on chapter four -- "Why has Christianity Never Undertaken the Word of Social Reconstruction" -- of Rauschenbusch's 1907 classic. According to Hauerwas, Rauschenbusch, as a liberal Protestant thinker, respects the historical figure of Jesus and his prophetic ethical teachings; furthe…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Apocalypse Never: Rauschenbusch and the "Kingdom of Evil" (4)

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On the supposition of a future life we can adjourn the manifest inequities of this life to the hereafter and trust that good and evil will yet be balanced justly when time and eternity are put together (Walter Rauschenbusch, 13).Many theologians and biblical scholars today read apocalyptic texts, against the backdrop of their historical context, as a form of political resistance – as an encrypted summons to subvert the forces of empire. Not so Walter Rauschenbusch. For him, rather, the emergence of apocalyptic religion in post-exilic Judaism stemmed from a declension from the holy, reforming zeal of the early prophets of Israel and Judah, who sought a total reformation of society based on the central ideals of the Torah.

In his classic Social Gospel manifesto, Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907), chapter 1, Rauschenbusch gives a sketch and interpretation of the rise, maturity and decline of the prophetic consciousness in ancient Hebrew religion. The burden of this chapter – ind…

John Calvin’s Brief Confession to Henry II of France, 1557

Yesterday was the 505th anniversary of John Calvin’s birthday. Long time DET readers knows that Calvin gets a decent bit of time around here, and so it should come as no surprise that I wanted to do something to mark his birthday. But since I was out of town yesterday, he’ll get his birthday present from DET a day late this year. I’m sure he won’t mind.

In any case, I read a lot of scholarly material throughout the academic year and in the summer I like to read some lighter stuff. You know, books that are not just professionally beneficial but also enjoyable and relaxing to read. This is the third summer in a row that I have met this need by reading through a volume of Calvin’s correspondence from the 7 vol. John Calvin: Tracts and Letters series. About a week ago I came across the below in one of Calvin’s letters and it struck me as a very interesting minor confession that could be studied with some profit. I won’t bore you with the details of my reaction to the piece, but suffice i…

Wibrandis Rosenblat – Unsung Hero of the Swiss Reformation

I want to present the following paragraph without comment, at least as much as possible. Suffice it to say that when I came across this recently I was immediately struck by this woman’s hugely important role in the Swiss Reformation, and by the unique constitution, determination, and commitment that must have gone into it. But you will be able to form your own opinions.

Machiel A. van den Berg, Friends of Calvin (Eerdmans, 2009), 103.
Wibrandis Rosenblat’s life (1504-1564) is a story in its own right. She married Bucer after her husband, Bucer’s inseparable colleague and friend Capito, died in the same epidemic to which Bucer had lost his beloved first wife. Bucer was Wibrandis’s fourth husband: prior to her marriage to Capito, she had been married to two other scholars in Basel, Cellarius and the famous Oecolampadius. Thus she had been the wife of four different Reformers, and she bore them all children.I dare say that in our own milieu, what with our emphasis today on equality betwe…