Saturday, December 31, 2011

Brennan Manning on New Year's Eve

This morning, I watched some clips and a sermon by Brennan Manning, again because of a Facebook recommendation.  I found very much that was good in the talk and he moved me.  The Facebook friend who mentions him and also listens to him while on the treadmill exercising, says this:

Several times throughout my life, the words of this man have created incredible breakthrough moments in my increasing recognition of God's love for me...and for you. Here's a sample.

What strikes me the most is his truly Christ-centered way of speaking.  We often speak about being Christ-centered.  But there is a difference between speaking about Christ, and about speaking about speaking about Christ.  Manning speaks about Christ.  Manning gives him to each.

Blessings to all my friends in this season of celebration and love, and thoughts and prayers for the New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Star of Bethlehem, ZDF.

The star of Bethlehem, Kepler and planetary motion laws.  Nicely done by the ZDF, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen.

Religion vs. Gospel

While browsing around Facebook this morning I came across the above illustration, as well as the Spurgeon saying below:

He who never seeks the conversion of another is in imminent danger of being damned himself.Charles Spurgeon.

While it would be true that someone who believes in Christ is commanded and motivated to share him with others, the saying is just so harsh and makes everything fall into the Religion side of the chart.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"A More Perfect Heaven" by Sobel / Copernicus and Wittenberg University

A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

While making teddy bear clothes this evening (oh, I'm giving away that they don't come from Santa's workshop), I was listening to CBC radio's newscast followed by "As It Happens."  Posted below find the third section, the last 30 min.  It contains two fascinating pieces.

The first one, six minutes in length, discusses the current exhibit in Quebec at the "Museum of Religions of the World" and the use of religious swear words in Quebec.  It is a rather ironic, little interview with the curator.  The second one, the remaining 24 min., are an interview with the author of a book called "A More Perfect Heaven."  The discussion is about Copernicus' life and his revolutionary discoveries.  The interesting part, which the author brings out, a Lutheran from Wittenberg University comes to his town (illegally, no Lutherans allowed in this Polish Catholic town) to get Copernicus' work published, which he succeeded doing, though it was mostly ignored until Galileo wrote about it in Italian.

Wikepedia has this about the man from Wittenberg:  "Copernicus was still working on De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (even if not certain that he wanted to publish it) when in 1539 Georg Joachim Rheticus, a Wittenberg mathematician, arrived in Frombork. Philipp Melanchthon, a close theological ally of Martin Luther, had arranged for Rheticus to visit several astronomers and study with them.  Rheticus became Copernicus' pupil, staying with him for two years and writing a book, Narratio prima (First Account), outlining the essence of Copernicus' theory. In 1542 Rheticus published a treatise on trigonometry by Copernicus (later included in the second book of De revolutionibus)."

Hitchens Who? Funny how real life is.

We live in the wild west.  People drink beer, watch hockey, women scrapbook.  Many golf when it is not winter, which is not much of the year.  Many have horses...

I am stereotyping.  They are dear.  But say to one of them:  "Christopher Hitchens died."  They say:  "Who is that?"  This is why I can't give up my on-line life, though I often wish I did.

Image Detail

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Es kommt ein Schiff geladen"--Advent hymn with translation into English

This is an Advent song we sang often.  I love all things in minor keys, so this was a favorite;  also the imagery and poetic denseness makes it very impressive.

Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen
bis an sein' höchsten Bord, 
Trägt Gottes Sohn voll Gnaden,

des Vaters ewigs Wort. 

Das Schiff geht still im Triebe,
es trägt ein teure Last;
Das Segel ist die Liebe, 
der Heilig Geist der Mast. 

Der Anker haft' auf Erden,

da ist das Schiff am Land. 
Das Wort tut Fleisch uns werden,

der Sohn ist uns gesandt. 

Zu Bethlehem geboren
im Stall ein Kindelein, 
Gibt sich für uns verloren; 
gelobet muß es sein. 

Und wer dies Kind empfangen,
umfassen, kuessen will
muss vorher mit ihm Leiden
gross Pein und Marter viel

Und mit ihm dann auch sterben
und geistlich auferstehn
ewigs Leben zu ererben,
wie an ihm ist geschen.

A ship is driving with a load,
filled to the very top.
It is bearing the Son of God full of grace,
the Father's eternal Word.

The ship moves firmly in its path.
It bears a treasured freight.
Love is the sail.
The Holy Spirit is its mast.

The anchor touches ground.
The ship has arrived on land.
The Word becomes flesh for us.
The Son has been sent for us.

In Bethlehem in the stable
a child is born.
He loses himself for us.
He is to be praised.

Who wants to grasp
this child with joy and kiss him
must also suffer with him
much pain and torture,

and after this, also die,
and rise spiritually with him,
to inherit eternal life,
as happened with him. 

This version is lovely, too.

Interesting on new, building-less, sacramental groups

As conservative groups lose their buildings because of liberal leaderships, interesting things happen.

Athanasius on "The Incarnation of the Word" with introduction by C.S.Lewis

When I took a particular course in religion at Concordia, the instructor recommended this treatise for further reading.  I got around to it eventually, but this was some time ago.  It's time to look at it again.

The introduction by C.S. Lewis is worthy reading all on its own, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Atheists have no songs."

This one is by Steve Martin, the comedian.

I came across this tonight on Facebook, the day Christopher Hitchens died.  He will be missed.  He was often wrong, speaking out bitterly on subjects he was not an expert on, but he had a powerful command of the language and delivered his rants impressively.  I am grieving somewhat.  We will no longer hear his voice on current concerns, however scathing the commentary often was.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Most Famous Man in America/ 2

Henry Ward Beecher: Henry Ward Beecher

p. 355 of  "The Most Famous Man in America."

    "The most important intellectual influence on Beecher in this period was Herbert Spencer, the famed British social thinker who originated the term "survival of the fittest."  Spencer had a talent for stitching together ostensibly unrelated facts and phenomena into broad, over-arching structures--Beecher's favorite sort of thinking.  He was one of the earliest american fans of Herbert Spencer's "conception of gradual development"--the theory that everything--nature, society, individuals--evolves and, if left alone, progresses.  Spenser's all-encompassing, laissez-faire theory of evolution predated Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, but in its raw form it was just as shocking to people raised to believe that truth was eternal and identity was fixed.
     After the war Beecher was increasingly open about his religious liberalism.  In 1867 Ralph Waldo Emerson noted with surprise that "Beecher told me,that he did not hold one of the five points of Calvinism in a way to satisfy his father."  By 1870 Beecher was campaigning to drop the concept of hell, or divine punishment, from the official creed of Plymouth church.  "Love, with its freedom, has taken the place of authority, and of obedience to it, " he argued.  For those who had "ripened" to a "nobler plane," desire was a far more effective motive than fear.
     Those worried that such freedom might be sacrilegious, corrupting, or chaotic were reassured by the example of Beecher's own homey common sense.  "He was one of those men," as the writer Edward Eggleston noted appreciatively, "who connect the past with the future, and make of themselves a bridge for the passage of multitudes."
     Henry was often accosted by strangers, like the young man who sat down by him on a train, asking:  "Mr. Beecher!  Must I believe every word in the Bible, to be a Christian?"  "No!" replied Beecher.  "Well--what them?" asked the bewildered boy.  "You must believe the truth that is in the Bible."

The boy pondered this for a moment and then asked "Now, about the Incarnation?  Why do I need to believe in that?"  Beecher quickly sketched his views.  "I see, now what about conversion?"  they talked until the train reached the station.  the young man took his leave, saying, "Mr. Beecher, you have laid my ghosts."  "I hope they will never rise again," replied Beecher.

We are getting towards the end of the book.  Beecher has been preaching in Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York, for a long time, becoming a fixture on the scene, writing columns for the newspaper and influencing politics.  He also struck up a friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and he said that he absorbed what Emerson wrote, digested it and also preached it in digested form.   He was actively involved in some revolts before the time of John Brown.  The dilemma with John Brown seems to have sobered Beecher and he spoke more circumspectly after this time.  We see, however, here that he has moved away from the strict Calvinism of his father, the gut-wrenching requirements for a genuine conversion, which is more than understandable.  But while he has shifted in this way, and has got involved with politics, and so on, and perhaps had several extra-marital affairs as he became famous, we see that he is now going in the direction of abandoning scriptural authority in way that lets him interpret it to his liking, beginning with the discarding of the concept of "hell".

I am not really familiar with Puritan/Calvinist sermons but just judging them by the titles, one could perhaps not even fault Beecher for wanting to speak about love, rather than fire and brimstone.  The message of "freedom" resonates with some of the things Luther wrote about freedom in Christ.  However, this is a freedom which comes after and even transcends the fear of hell and punishment.  My Judge is also my Savior, but he is still Judge.

It seems to me that Beecher made a similar change within the church to Emerson's change outside of it, both revolting against a very doctrinal Puritan Calvinism.  This all seems regrettable because it gives "doctrine" a bad name, as if it could not be good, right and wholesome.

With this throwing out of Calvinist doctrine seems to arise not a better grasp of true doctrine, but a liberalism which suits everyone's worldly hopes.   For a good stretch of it, I empathize with Beecher, but he seems to go from one extreme to the other missing the right foundation doctrinally in each instance.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From "The Most Famous Man in America" re: slavery and abolition

Reading the book on Henry Beecher is making me think about issues of conscience, civil disobedience, the temporal government and the extent to which it should be obeyed, and the role of the "church" in matters of justice, even if it wades into politics.  We know, of course, Luther's strict and famous distinction between the kingdoms.  This must always be held in mind.  But this distinction did not prevent him from decrying various societal ills and doing his best to "reform" the church and society.

The "Most Famous Man in America", pp. 246-248.

Some antislavery ministers countered Onesimus's story with opposing Scripture, such as Deuteronomy 23:15, God's injunction to Moses:  "Thou shalt not deliver to his master the servant which is escaped from his master to thee."  But most of the clergy followed Paul's ambivalent example, preaching obedience to the Fugitive Salve Laws while admonishing the slaveholders to voluntarily reform.  For the first time, however, a significant number of ministers went whole hog for slavery... 
"Then it was that I flamed,"  Henry said.  the rage he felt toward cowardly businessmen and callous slave owners was dwarfed by his contempt for these clergymen.  to the argument that the apostle Paul sanctioned the fugitive Slave laws, Henry responded that he might accept that claim--if slaveholders followed Paul's instructions by receiving their runaway servants as Christians and family members, educating them, encouraging them to marry and own property.  Of course, Henry noted, that would essentially spell the end of slavery.  In one notable speech Henry hammered home the absurdity of the biblical justification with an imitation of a runaway slave sauntering back into his master's house, "with his broad, black, beaming face," and greeting the shocked whites with a warm, "How d'ye do, my brother? and how d'ye do, my sister?'"
Henry's scriptural and legal arguments were padded with name-calling, motive impugning, and detailed accusations of hypocrisy and immorality  but he was careful to make a distinction between sin and sinners, between the "Slave Conspiracy" or the "Slave Power"--that is, the legal system of bondage and its major public defenders--and the average citizens of the South.  It was a distinction that would remain central to all of Henry's antislavery arguments, although often lost in the vituperation of his language...
It didn't take long for Henry to draw the fire of the leading mercantile mouthpiece, the conservative Journal of Commerce...  Hallock attacked liberal ministers in general, and the Independent and its anonymous "star contributor" [Henry Beecher] in particular, "for prostituting their professions and their pulpits and the Sabbath day to the preaching of Free-Soilism: and other poisonous "Ultraisms."  How dare these fanatics use the pulpit--which businessmen paid for--to denounce their patrons and preach politics."  The role of the clergy was to lead their congregants to personal piety.  Period.  Anything outside the church door was beyond their purview.
"Clergymen ought to understand that while they attend to the proper duties of their calling they will be respected, honored, and beloved,"  Hallock concluded, "but that if they descend to the arena of politics, their black coats will most likely be rolled in the dirt."  Any congregation that didn't want the filth of politics in their midst ought to fire the troublemakers, he suggested.  After all, what would fix a misguided minister faster than snatching away his "bread and butter?"
For some time now, Henry had been drifting fro theology towards practical moral matters, but the fight with the Journal hardened this move into a manifesto.  The Holy Gospel, he averred, is merely medicine for the sick soul.  "It has no intrinsic value as a system.  its end and value are in its power to stimulate the soul, to develop its faculties, to purify the emotions,"  he declared.  Christianity did not exist for the glory of God, he insisted, but for the pleasure and health of mankind.  Nowadays this therapeutic view of religion so thoroughly dominates American culture that it is almost impossible to imagine how shocked people were by Henry's words.
By contrast, Beecher claimed, the Journal of commerce promoted a "Coward's Ethic."  Such men wanted a Gospel "that will snatch away their sins while they are asleep;  some chloroform gospel."  Just what, Henry inquired sarcastically, did the Journal of Commerce consider a suitable topic for discussion in church?  After all, her observed, many modern sins were not mentioned in the Bible.  Should we not preach against drunkienness or swindling or gambling simply because they were not specifically forbidden in Scripture?
Perhaps the problem was merely a matter of distance?  Men like Gerard Hallock gladly gave money to send missionaries to the Far East, Henry noted, yet "a Turkish harem is a cradle of virgin purity" compared with the slave pens of the american south.  "Will the Journal tell us how many leagues off a sin must be before it is prudent and safe for courageous ministers to preach against it?"
... Back and forth they went, citing Scripture and secular law, with each paper reprinting the entire debate in special supplements.  Nasty as it was, the long clash rendered a great public service, challenging common prejudices, laying out statistics, detailing legal ordinances, examining every aspect of the problem.  It also gave a well-needed boost to the struggling Independent.  Subscriptions were increasing at double the previous rate, with hundreds of new readers every week.
... Suddenly Henry was a genuine celebrity, whose colorful sayings and doings were being picked up by newspapers across the country.  Not everyone agreed with Henry Ward Beecher, and nobody agreed with everything he had to say.  But everyone wanted to hear it. 

 Such men wanted a Gospel "that will snatch away their sins while they are asleep;  some chloroform gospel." This is the phrase that is embedding itself in my mind. It reminds me of Pres. Harrison's comment in "Christ have Mercy" regarding the Lord's supper.  We can be in danger that while holding the pristine doctrine of the real presence, we fail to see it as the reality among ourselves, that we have been formed into one body, the physical reality of our communal life. Also in baptism, we have been baptized altogether. 

But we are also reacting against those who in their zeal for "social justice" have let God's Word go and put the Gospel light of forgiveness of sins under the cover. Still forgiveness of "un-real" sins or forgiveness while you are "asleep", just becomes an idea and irrelevant as such. 

Once more: Luther and anti-Semitism

Just to have this here, and in case it gets deleted or abused, I will paste what I wrote on Naked Pastor about Luther's so-called anti-Semitism.  A man who goes anonymously by "Godless Monster" in a discussion about sin and the Ten Commandments, in his infinite fair-mindedness, felt it pertinent to quote all the most vicious sections of Luther on "The Jews and their Lies" to me at great length. (--Great argument to support your line of thinking, Godless Monster!)  NP, himself had to weigh in, not with a moderating comment restraining Godless Monster, but to say that he had read the thing in "seminary" of all places.  Anyhow, in spirit of thinking that explaining might help, I posted all the below, which received no other comment than "Luther is a turd."  Which is fine.  Luther is a "turd."  He said worse about himself.

Dear NP and dear GM: I will set things aside and make a long answer to this, especially since this comes up often. I could make it short, but please take it as my love and respect for you, that I will try and answer it as thoroughly as I can.

Firstly, we note that we have gone off topic, which was to show that we should look at our own sins, of which our own heart as well as the written down law accuse us, invariably, and that the Christian message is that forgiveness can be had for those. Free for the taking. But now we have wandered again to look at the sins of others.

Secondly, we note that the last commandments are not about making women chattels, but they naturally lead into the Sermon on the Mount, that simply the matter of the heart, such as coveting and scheming are already sins, not just the outward doing. Many a person consoles himself with his justification based on not having murdered anyone,  etc. How many times is it said, that people don’t need to go to church because they have not committed any heinous crimes, and that, yet, in the same sentence as saying the people in church are all hypocrites. (Something gives again.)

Thirdly, we note that the moral law which we know about, and which is summarized in the  Ten Commandments and which we learn as children and adults from the catechism, has nothing to do with Luther’s so-called anti-Semitism.

Fourthly, as a German by birth and a Lutheran by confession (not that they go together; most Germans are secular, or Roman Catholic and what goes as Lutheran is really a Forced United church with Reformed. Real German Lutherans I have only met among those who emigrated to America a very long time ago) I do feel called to make some kind of defense of what is being alleged here. I do not take it personally, but since I have looked into it, I will try to set things into context, which is only fair.

Fifthly, the document quoted a great length above, is nowhere found in any teachings or confessions or catechisms of the “Lutheran” church. Luther wrote hundreds of books and thousands of sermons and who knows how many pamphlets. He was such a giant in his own time, that he commented or was asked to comment on just about anything. Everything he said at table  was written down, the visitors thought it so important it should not be lost. Obviously, not all of it is kosher or confessional. The pamphlet  "On the Jews and Their Lies"  was written very late under a certain set of stresses and not promulgated much or far, nor included in any important collections. It is a nasty piece of work that would not edify anyone. So sadly, now those who want to denigrate biblical teaching love to drag this out and plaster it all over in detail, as we see displayed here.

Sixthly, regarding the quoting of this: if this is such nasty business, someone tell me why those who oppose historical Christianity and confessional teaching need to spread this far and wide? What is the purpose? To have a smear campaign? To victimize Jews all over again?–Why roll in the mud? If it is so objectionable, why quote it at length, why read it in seminary? Have you nothing better to read and post?

Seventhly, Luther gets dragged in for every single thing people like to imagine. Under the communists he was the leading communist, under the Nazis he was the leading Nazi. Under Naked Pastor, he becomes the first Naked Pastor… We only had him invoked quite recently.

The the substance of the issue:

1. A man who deals with these issues with passion to detail and with incredible depth is an American Reformed Christian, James Swan, on his blog, He is neither Lutheran nor German. His work has become the debunking of all the ways Luther is abused in current discussions and apologetics of various kinds. He has collated much material on this particular matter here:

2. For those who want to read some writings of Luther which people of various denominations find valuable, James had in interesting link to a collection available free online, here:

The above is material from people who know what they are talking about. I will use up one more comment box to deal with it from my own reading and understanding.

  1. This has been my own reading:

    1. Brecht’s Luther Biography in three volumes is according to James Swan the currently definitive one:
    It is quite a project and I am about 50% through.

    2. “The Jews of Germany, A Historical Portrait” by Ruth Gay. This was a book I picked up used in an Edmonton Cafe/bookshop. It traced this history of the Jews and various streams of anti-Semitism through the centuries and millennia. It was extremely interesting to see the whole set of issues in their full historical development.

    3. This one is a Canadian book, on which I have only got a slow start “The Nazis and the New Religions”

    4. “The Fabricated Luther”, which I have blogged through:
    There are other books, which connect more or less and these are the blog posts I have made myself on the subject:

    To summarize the main points from my own mind:

    1. The Jews had for some time been relegated to living in ghettos, one notable one being the Frankfurt ghetto. They lived in unfair conditions for some time. They were not “emancipated” and were not allowed to live as others were suffering under restrictions of where to live and what kinds of occupations to engage in. This state of affairs also arose because of their own needs of keeping a Jewish butcher, synagogues, springs and pools for ritual bathing, schools, hospitals, having a rabbi, etc. The Holy Roman Emperor even forced them to wear the first sign of exclusion, the yellow circle.

    2. Because Jews could not live in the empire like other individuals they seemed to engage in much money lending. Money lenders are never popular and the situation during Reformation times were recently exacerbated by the concessions a Jewish advocate for Jews gained from the Emperor. What Josel of Rosenheim was able to gain was that Jewish lenders were able to extract higher interest rates from their clients than before, with the end result that they could pay more taxes to the Emperor. This worked for everyone involved except for the average, poor Christian peasant, artisan, etc. who was in any kind of debt. As one would imaging this did not endear the Jewish population who became viewed as heartless blood suckers, not unlike the current outrage of the world against Wall street and the clout of financial institutions. More could be said about Jewish influence at the courts of princes, etc. because of their financial savvy. This would make them both needed for advice but also easily despised. So, there is a whole lot of politics involved.

    3. During the Reformation many Jews were baptized and became Christians, specifically “Evangelical” Christians (as the Lutherans would call themselves). These baptisms were sometimes viewed with suspicion, as they were thought to be often insincere and done for worldly not spiritual reasons. Luther, therefore, while he befriended and supported Jewish converts himself, also warned other pastors that they carefully examine any potential converts for honest intent.

    4. During the Reformation, many intense and thorough debates were held regarding Biblical content, translations, texts, and meaning. Some of these debates were had with Roman Catholics, and some of them were had with Jewish Rabbis. As the learning of the original languages had recently blossomed (as we know Luther translated the entire Bible into German), we know that Luther also had his battles with the Rabbis who did not want to acknowledge scripture passages that were to him clearly Christ-centered and Messianic, such as “the virgin will conceive”, etc. This was a very hot topic for him and his annoyance at intractable Rabbis was significant. So when he speaks against “the Jews”, it is at times simply against rabbinic scholarship, or lack thereof, as he viewed it, as well as malintent leading simple Christian people into confusion and error.  Ever Luther was out to protect the "simple".

    5. In terms of Jewish conversions to Christianity, we have another huge issue arising: converts are often very zealous for their new religion and not very charitable toward the one they have departed. In the Jewish context they are then viewed as “apostates”. (Thus here on NP our “deconverted” atheists are often the most “anti-Christian” in their speech of all.) So it happened that there was a man, named Anthony Margaritha, a convert from Judaism, who wrote a very scathing book about Jews and their customs. From this book, The Whole Jewish Faith, Together with a Thorough and Truthful Account of All the Regulations, Ceremonies, and Prayers Both for Family and Public Worship, as Observed by the Jews throughout the Year, with excellent and Well-founded arguments against their Faith Luther got many of his opinions of what goes on in Jewish communities. The worst kinds of accusations, including ritual slaughter of Christian children, were included.

    6. During Reformation times, expulsions of Jews had become the way to deal with the perennial “Jewish question”. Previously Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain had cruelly expelled all their Jewish citizens in the most heartless way. The Jews were forced to sell all their goods and were not even able to transfer to proceeds into gold to take with them, as gold represented the riches of the country. Most of the families perished at sea and other ways. But still expulsion was seen as the merciful way of dealing with the issues, as opposed to straight annihilation. Extremely sad chapter in history.

    To summarize this section, no one here is covered in glory, sad to say. The hysteria over the Jews and their practices was considerable, the rumors abominable, their sincerity questioned, and Luther, though he otherwise often advocated for and pleaded with the Jews to put their trust in their own “cousin”, as he would say, and believe in Jesus Christ, was at one point carried away to write this awful piece. This runs contrary to many other things he said and wrote and to his usual more laissez-faire approach (the Word ran its course while he drank beer). Occasionally, he said things to help the princes with their polictics and this would include the advice on when to use force.

    However, there is no one to really try and explain this properly, and I am probably not up to the task. And the Holocaust was such a horror, that any attempts at explaining anything look like misguided in the first place. Still, some Roman Catholics delight to make Luther look like the devil incarnate; I can see why Jewish individuals would not be inclined to be charitable; and atheists often work at making Christians look like the barbarians they occasionally were and are. And yet, as we began, again, as per usual, nobody wants to look at the faults that they bear themselves.

    In terms of the Nazis: their use of Luther was manipulative and propagandizing. Their aims had to do with eugenics arising out of a completely different ideology. Eugenics is really an anti-Christian movement. Supposedly, because of Christianity we have coddled the weak and interfered with natural selection, ruining our genetic pool, so we have to get rid of the undesirables, beginning with forced sterilizations. The churches can be faulted for not saying more sooner and more effectively, but they were themselves not anti-Semitic in heart or speech, at least not in a significant way. Some pro-Nazi people were put in place to run things and some people obviously fell in step with them. Dissidents themselves were quickly, easily and systematically dispensed with with along with the infirm and the Jewish population.

    When Hitchens, et al. try to pin the Nazi ideology on Christianity they are poorly informed and very irresponsible with history. Nazi ideology arose from completely (COMPLETELY) different quarters. This bears reading up on more.

    I’ll quit here. Luther’s business with the Jews does not impact what we confess about Jesus Christ. There is no benefit or point to keep rehashing his stupid pamphlet.

    To the contrary: Jesus is a Jew. We believe in a Jew. We have a Jewish God. This is how God communicates.

    I am not sure that I should post all this as I am not sure that anybody really wants to know it and I am probably just inviting a bunch of derision, getting accused of defending something indefensible. I am not defending the pamphlet at all. I personally could not, in the past, understand how someone like him could write such a thing. It seemed out of character with everything else. I needed to set it into some kind of context and this is how I did it for myself. I just don’t want anyone to miss the genuine gospel so clearly articulated during the Reformation because of this oft-mounted assault on credibility and reputation.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Current Reading/ Henry Beecher

In the vein of getting context for Emerson, Hawthorn, Abolition movements and Beecher family, I have this book out from Concordia  library on  "The Most Famous Man in America", the Pastor Henry Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

It is most fascinating and thorough.  I feel that I am getting a really good view of what a number of contexts were the first part of the 19th century America, for example the differences in settings between Boston, New York and the frontier in Indiana.  It is interesting to note that the religious feeling was quite intense everywhere, but represented mostly by Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches.  Henry Beecher's own Calvinism was of a variable sort.  He did not like to be pinned down on intricacies of Reformed doctrine.  He tended to weasel through doctrinal examinations but was accepted anyhow for his charismatic preaching and engaging rhetoric, deep thinking and empathetic views.