The Reformation as a restoration of catholicity

Even some Protestants are saying that we shouldn’t celebrate Reformation Day.  Why celebrate the breakup of the catholicity of the Church?  In his excellent Reformation Sunday sermon, our pastor quoted the distinguished seminary professor and theologian Norman Nagel, who maintained that the Reformation was actually a restoration of the Church’s catholicity.

Read why after the jump.

UPDATE:  Dr. Nagel made a rare mistake in crediting Irenaeus for the quotation when it should have been St. Ignatius of Antioch.  (HT:  Steve)

[Read more…]

Excavating the empty tomb

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is traditionally considered to be the site of Christ’s tomb from which He rose from the dead.  That claim is actually well-attested by historians.

In the course of a restoration project in the church, workers have removed the marble covering that had been installed in 1555 over the place where Jesus’s body supposedly had been laid.  They found a rock surface that is apparently the “burial shelf” that is a feature of ancient Jewish tombs.  Archaeologists plan to excavate the site.

Some of the evidence that supports the church as the site of Christ’s tomb is that the building, erected over an ancient stone quarry, has been found to enclose other tombs of the period.  This one is empty.

Details after the jump, with pictures at the link. [Read more…]

This incarnate and human God

When we think of God, we often think of Him as a transcendent being, far above and beyond this world.  This would be the case whether we were mystics, Deists, or philosophers.  Or, we might think of Him as a being who dwells within us.  Or as a being who is both transcendent and indwelling.

Certainly, Christianity teaches both the transcendence and the immanence of God.  But this, while true, is not enough, and what Christianity teaches about God goes further:  God is incarnate.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, God made tangible, God as a human being, God revealing Himself to us in the only way we can truly understand, God for us.

In one of his most striking passages, Luther warns about trying to contemplate God as an abstraction or in His glory apart from Christ.  If we try to think of God apart from Christ, Luther writes, He will be “intolerable.”  Rather, particularly when we think of our salvation, “We must look at no other God than this incarnate and human God.”

Read what Luther says about this after the jump. [Read more…]

He is the priest, He is the Samaritan, He is the robber

A few weeks ago, our pastor (and son-in-law) was preaching about the parable of the Good Samaritan.  He developed the idea that this parable gives us a picture of love, which is what the Law looks like in practice.  And because Jesus fulfills the law, all acts of righteousness–that is, all acts of love–look like Him.

He then applied this back to the parable in a startling way. [Read more…]

Traditional sexual ethics vs. Christian morality

I happened upon a book by a former student of mine, Matthew Rueger, now a pastor in Iowa with a Ph.D.  The book, just out from CPH, is Sexual Morality in a Christless World.   Matt (if I can still call him that) tells about being put in the position of defending Christian morality in an Iowa State college classroom, whose professor was teaching pretty much the opposite.  He became a regular guest lecturer, up against great opposition, but his input grew to be respected, if not appreciated.  Those experiences became the basis of this book.

The Rev. Dr. Rueger includes a fascinating treatment of sexual morality in the Greco-Roman world.  The wide practice of homosexuality in that classical culture–specifically, pederasty, the sexual use of young boys–is particularly illuminating.  He also treats sexual morality in the ancient Hebrew world, which was not without problems of its own (such as easy divorce).   The Christian perspective on sexual morality, he shows, has always been counter-cultural.  It took its shape from consideration of our identity in Christ.   [Read more…]

Exposing the forgery about Jesus’s wife

The Atlantic has published a piece of investigative journalism on the source of the manuscript fragment that has Jesus referring to “my wife.”  Though heralded by Harvard professor Karen King, other scholars have argued from internal evidence that the fragment is a forgery.   This article pretty much finishes off any possibility that it is authentic by exposing the man who first came up with the manuscript–an expert in ancient manuscripts, a pornographer, and a New Age gnostic, with a very shady record–and the scholar who wrote about it without ever bothering to check on where the fragment came from. [Read more…]