Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Give it to 'em, Jim~!

Jim Wallis is debating Ralph Reeed right now over on his blog. 'Nuff said.

Monday, September 18, 2006

More of Marpeck

This is way too lengthy to feature in it's entirety in this format, but I've included the link to the full source document for those who want it. I'm impressed by the way Marpeck admits to being convereted by the Protestants, but then goes on to share what he thought was missing in their teaching.


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Pilgram Marpeck: Expos of the Babylonian Whore

Expos of the Babylonian Whore and Antichrist; its mystery and abomination old and new. Also concerning the victory, peace and rule of the true Christians, and published to show in what manner they obey the authorities, and bear the cross of Christ without rebellion and resistance, with patience and love to the glory of God, and to assist, strengthen, and perfect all the faithful and those who inquire after God.

Matt. 22 [:21]
Give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is Gods

Prov. 24 [:21]
Have nothing to do with the rebellious

Since the evidence of our eyes, our experience, and the witness of Scripture which sufficiently discloses itself through the action and favour of God, and which is now also understood through the events which are everywhere unfolding according to the Word of the Lord, all of God's creatures should tremble and be afraid of the stern judgement of God on his awesome day which is to come (Isa. 24[:21ff.]; Jon. 2[:?], 3[:4], Zeph. 1[:7-18], 2[:2], 3[:8]). The fact that the ruined, sodomitic, perverted, abandoned, and seductive world does not comprehend this nor show any fear means that the Scripture in the Lord's Word is even now being fulfilled where it says that in the time of Lot and Noah they ate and drank, married and gave in marriage without any alarm, until they were altogether destroyed (Luke 17[:26-30]).

Already the world overflows with the evil that once lay hidden in the mystery of wickedness. This mystery is now being exposed through her own shame, just like a secret adulteress who for a long time deceived her husband under a false cloak of pious faithfulness and has now quite brazenly gone public. She has assumed all the wiles of a whore in order to seduce and deceive others with her thousand-fold cunning and skill. The whole world is now full of error and seduction, and all generations on earth are drunk with the wine of fornication, Rev. 18[:3]. Only a few are shocked and have struggles of conscience from which the pure fear of God and true insight flow.

It is not really necessary to speak against the red Roman Whore now exposed. For a long time she masqueraded as though she were married to the great spouse and bridegroom Christ. In this way she deceived and seduced both herself and others with her fornication. For the just and legitimate spouse and bridegroom Christ is now expelling and condemning her and all her strumpets, and is betrothing and marrying a new people to himself through his cross, blood, and tribulation as is now evident. But it is the sign of the time that the serpent with her cunning is using new stratagems in her clever and tenacious mutiny against the true and spotless bridegroom Christ, as he has said. But our bridegroom has overcome the world and all its wickedness with his cross and death (John 16 [:33]). In him we will overcome and conquer in all things under the cross, in the simplicity of faith.

In order that the deceitful Whore and serpent with all her children and strumpets should perceive, know, and apprehend that a genuinely guileless faith can detect all of her more recent insidious and deceptive tricks, as well as her customary malice which she plies against the children of God, I have decided to describe them and also to present an alternative. I am urged to do this as follows by a sense of obligation, to the praise of God, and for the service and strengthening of the faithful. May the Lord give his grace.

First, once the dragon and old serpent (Rev. 20 [:2]), who for a long time had concealed himself in the pretence of being the spouse and bride of Christ and deceived the whole world, became aware that his time was near, he in the dispensation of God revealed himself in part through his own prophets as though he was sorry for the colossal errors and apostasy of the Christians. These prophets changed and made more attractive the great mystery of wickedness in the appearance of godliness, especially through the artifice of Scripture by which people are easily deceived. They presented infant baptism and the popes idolatry [the mass or Lords Supper], over which they quarrelled, and prattled about receiving it in both kinds sub utraque specie [in both kinds, the bread and the wine], as the most important matters on which their salvation depended, and so filled the whole world with their contentions and writings. Thus Satan could carry out his seductions all the better. In Martin Luthers eyes all who eat and drink both the body and blood of Christ, regardless of whether they are adulterers or prostitutes, gluttons or drunkards, gamblers, murderers, betrayers, tyrants, deceivers, or whatever else are all a good community of his kind of godliness. Even as, in Luthers view, the body of Christ is in the bread and the blood in the chalice, his faithful ones and disciples are transformed into the nature and essence of Christ. For everything a person eats changes from its natural essence into something else; even so, should not their natures be changed into the nature and essence of Christ? As the teaching is, so also is the fruit. Even as Luther and his followers persuaded the common people valiantly to defend the Word of God, all the while whitewashing that defence with Scripture so that they were prepared to give life and limb for it, so now they induce the Princes, the nobility, and the cities to resist the Emperor.

Woe to us because of the great bloodshed which God will bring upon all of the false prophets and their supporters, as can be seen even now (Jer. 6, Ezek. 22 [:3-4], 23). May the Lord lead his own out of their troubles; may they not strike back, but remain under the cross and shadow of his wings in true patience (Ps. 17 [:8], 57 [:1]). For the Lamb of Christ must suffer and be killed until the end of the world (Luke 17 [?], Rev. 13 [:8]). Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiaphas will unite against it as they united against the head (Luke 23). Christ was subject to all Authority and never responded with violence. Even so today we must not resist. We will give the Emperor what is his and God what belongs to God (Matt. 22 [:21]). For the Authority has power over all temporal things except over vengeance which belongs only to God and never to man (Rom. 12 [:19], Heb. 10 [:30]). I know of no other Authority specifically appointed by God than the Emperor; all emperors hold the imperium even today and will hold it until the appointed time of which Daniel speaks (Daniel 11 [:36]), when the wrath of God shall come over the whole world (Isa. 24 [:17-21]). For all flesh needs his authority and rule.

But Christ does not distribute earthly inheritance or imperium. His own, whether they are treated justly or not, requite and repay with patience and love. All external things including life and limb are subjected to external authority. But no one may coerce or compel true faith in Christ, for it is concerned not with temporal but eternal life. This neither God nor any creature in heaven nor on earth can take away (Rom. 8 [:38-39], Matt. 10 [:28]). All true Christians have this faith, and that is why they are not concerned about their earthly life (Heb. 11 [:13-14], Luke 10 [:41-42], Col. 3 [:1-3]). Many are demonstrating this today, God be praised.

To sum up, I present to the so-called evangelicals and their teachers and preachers no other alternative than the crucified, patient, and loving Christ. Whoever does not preach Christ but rather preaches the opposite is against Christ, regardless of whether he is an old or a new pope or Antichrist. Even if they were to preach skilfully about God as Christ himself, it will not help unless they preach the gentle, humble Christ who can be known only under the cross, patience, and love. Whoever is not thus taught and so learns, no matter how evangelical he is, will interrupt Christ at the Judgement and say: Lord, did we not drive out devils, prophesy, preach, eat and drink in your name? Christ will answer: Depart from me, you evildoers, I do not know you (Matt. 25 [:41-44], Luke 13 [:26-27]). I could wish that those who avoid the strait gate of the cross of Christ and teach others to avoid it would read and understand the judgement of Christ more closely. Unless they have no faith at all, they should be very alarmed, for surely this judgement fits the new evangelical preachers and their followers more precisely than anyone else. They do in part speak the truth about Christ, but they dont want to go through the narrow gate (Matt. 7 [:13-14]), because for carnal reasons they pressed the sword into the hand of the common people, dressing it up with scriptural teaching. According to Jude, those who resisted [Moses] perished in the uprising of Korah. At the present moment they hide behind princes, cities and nobles, and incite them to follow the way of Cain by which they are submerged in error through the instructions of the prophets of Balaam. With much greater and more awful bloodshed than in the Peasant War, they will all perish in the rebellion of Korah, which is not the same as dying for Christ. May the Lord lead his own out of such rebellion.

I give them testimony that I came to the truth partly through their writing, teaching, and preaching, for I was deeply possessed and imprisoned by the human laws of the papacy which is nothing by demon possession. Through their teachings and writings I was set free to the liberty of the flesh. Where before I had been bound and had suffered in conscience, I was now free. I ate and drank with these teachers before the Lord as I then understood it, and thought that they preached a splendid Christ. In this new freedom I vigorously opposed the papacy with all the writings that helped me in that task as long as they agreed with the understanding, which was true, that it is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of his heart (Matt. 15 [:10-11]. Confession and other papist rules and human inventions, which were not so easy to fulfil but did not have the true spirit of Christ, I readily accepted. Indeed the teachings in and of themselves were not wrong. But then as now the evangelical teachers said nothing about the mystery of the cross of Christ, and the narrow gate through which the flesh and the one who has who had been liberated from the Babylonian captivity could once again be led into the liberty of Jerusalem. On this there is silence. Not only that, but those who announce and teach it are persecuted by these teachers, who become their betrayers and executioners. For this reason they are justly called those workers of evil whom Christ banishes from his presence (Matt. 7 [25:41]). They teach the truth and the Gospel partially and point to the true way like a wooden hand at the fork in the road. What is missing in their teaching is the cross of Christ; they resist it and teach others to resist it. They take refuge behind princes, lords and cities although patient endurance, which alone triumphs over all tribulation, must be learned only under the cross. Christ the Lamb will be victorious (Rev. 17 [:14]), and not the lion, bear, wolf, dog, and leopard who gnash their teeth against each other and threaten to devour each other [Rev. 13:2].

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pilgram Marpeck, Anabaptist Writer

The gulf between myself and other modern indviduals who claim the nomenclature "Anabaptist" just got little wider tonight, after reading some of Pilgram Marpeck's thoughts in a work entitled Men in Judgement and the Peasant Aristocracy. No, it's not a new Rock group. It's Marpeck's diatribe against those who feel that you can become a Christian, continue to sin, & still be justified (most likely Lutheran Protestants.) But what's noteworthy about it is the Theological Model he uses: that of Christ being elevated to Glory and how he bestows "nobility" on us. We go from being "peasants" (sinners) to being nobility (saints) through the freedom Christ gives us. Although Hebrews 2:6-10 isn't directly cited in this regard, what Marpeck says is very much like the passage in Hebrews, and also echoes the doctirne of Recapitulation that Iranaeus held to. It also brings to mind Psalm 2 and Rev 11:15, whuch denote the Sovereignty of Christ over the Nations and the Kingdoms of the World.

A couple of thoughts become pertinent here:

* This ramrods the prevailing modern notion that Anabpatism is only a faith of social activism and not one of Holiness standards.

* But it also calls into question the notion that at the core of Anabaptism is an asceticism which denys engagement in the political field and our right and duty to speak to the world on behalf of God his standrards and demands for living.

Well, it's no mystery as to why some think this way. Jesus stated "My Kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) The problem is, this is a statement before the Cross, and must be seen in context with everything we know about what happened when Jesus was ressurrected:

11:15 "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."

Christ is not the "rejected, desipised and lowly servant" after the Ressurction. He's King. And as such the nations better kowtow to him:

Psalm 2:
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

The key to all of this is to understand our responsibility to not become power-hungry as the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches did, but understand where & how God wants us to live out a discipleship that is liberating to others. For that, we turn to the parts of scripture that advise us to imitte Christ in his earthly ministry:

Phil 2:
3 "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pligram Marpeck was a 16th Century South German Anabaptist leader who differed markedly from later Anabaptism -notably Old Order Mennonites and Amish that practised retreat from society after immigrating to the US. From what I can tell, every time the early, pre-immigration Anabaptists could be peaceably involved in the society around them (i.e., when they weren't fleeing persecution), they did exactly that. A James Reimer is of the opnion that Marpeck's thought has influenced later Mennonite ideals more than has been previously understood. Don't believe me, read Pilgram Marpeck's works for yourself.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Calvinist No More

Antony "Solly" Solomon considered himself for several years a staunch Calvinist. Then the Theology of Karl Barth, the New Pauline Perspective, & Anabaptist thought came knocking & shook him back to reailty. His blog can be found at Solly Gratia. Worth looking into.

Friday, September 15, 2006

How "Christian" is the "Christian Right?"

(I wrote the original version of this during the 2004 Presidential election campaign and it received terrible responses on Theologyweb.com. I posted the same thing again with no revisions, on my MySpace group Christians For Social Justice, this time to much better reviews. I'm now featuring it here in a revised & updated form as a way of kicking off my new Blogspot locale, and to stimulate any ensuing discussion.)

“God is a Republican?”

Probably one of the most obnoxious persistent dichotomies held to among Christians in recent years, that of equating “Conservative Republican” with “Bible believing Christian”, may finally about to be shown the door.

I find it interesting, as one who grew up in the aftermath of Viet Nam & Watergate, to observe how recent history has unfolded: Nixon, a Republican resigned in disgrace from his Presidency in 1974 as a result of the meddlesome Watergate scandal. The country rightly scorned him and he was put in mothballs as a political force. Not quite 7 years later, the Republican party was back on top again. And this time repackaged and re-sold with an image as a party of Christian virtue that helped sweep Ronald Regan into office. Had we all a very short memory?

Apparently so. It was Reagan’s cutbacks that turned many of the mentally ill out on the streets in the early part of his administration. It was Reagan who unceremoniously yanked the Solar Panels off the roof of the White House (after his predecessor Jimmy Carter placed them there) and went on to champion Big Oil and encourage everyone to be driving their Petrol-consuming vehicles. The next 8 years were marked by selfishness and irresponsible stewardship of resources, as Young America was led to believe we could “have it all.” (I hear President Bush recently replaced the solar panels. My, my how times have changed!) When I was in college during the Reagan administration, students seemed convinced even late into his 2nd term that "Reagan is going to get us jobs!" I returned to school a few years later when Bush's father was President, and students were very scared about the prospects of finding work after graduation.

But still, the obnoxiousness persists. I've been in chat rooms where I've observed certain individuals declaring with seemingly inerrant tone that a true Christian would only vote for Bush, that they can't possibly be for Kerry or Nader. Of course, I’m convinced that this is more than a little stifling & pharisaic in tone.

The rationale behind this spirit of the Pharisees happens to be rooted in the differing views candidates and political parties hold on abortion and homosexuality. But this becomes problematic for a number of reasons:

As an example, Bush is opposed to gay marriages, but is in favor of “civil-unions’ for gays, or at least doesn't seem to be interested in actively dismantling such unions. But how are they any different, in the qualitative sense? Incidentally, Vice President Cheney favors Gay Marriage.

2)What is an unborn child in the economy of God? If we are at all going to say that babies are important to God from conception, then let’s be consistent and admit that Iraqi babies are also. Any pregnant mother that is killed in the line of battle, is an abortion. Period. And this all in the context of a war that was highly questionable in its motivations as well.

3) Conversely, how can anyone even pretend to address the abortion issue without addressing the sociological issues that have brought it about? Those include: poverty, education, health care. The best environment for someone to “not” have an abortion is a well-financed social service system, so that pregnant women can be sure of being able to raise a child under less financial duress.

4)All of which doesn't even touch on the other issues I feel are just as important. Eisenhower, in his last speech as President, warned us that the military industrial complex (hereto after referred to as MIC) was a grave threat to society. As a Christian, I feel that holding back the MIC from abuse of influence is important. The was in Iraq is certainly the result of the oil industry’s constantly being a thorn in the side of peace in the Middle Eastern region. Also, to me a President even halfway interested in godly pursuits will be about getting us off of foreign oil, phasing out he gasoline engine & heat, enforcing the anti-trust laws, etc. A strong healthy economy is also the best guarantee of fewer abortions- making sure people feel like they want to have babies, if that’s our goal.

In fact, let me even raise the stakes of controversy here a little higher:

The Catholic church has recently issued a statement condemning gay marriages. Fine. But people who remember the recent sex-abuse scandals are not likely to feel that Rome has any place telling others how to live their lives, when they didn't do such a hot job with dysfunctional sexuality at their own doorstep.

*Aren’t we evangelicals risking the same kind of credibility gap in giving such unquestioning support to Bush, when all evidences are that he didn’t do his job well in preventing 9/11 & misled the country on the level of urgency to go to war in Iraq?

*Aren't we risking similar disconnect when we address only the legal side of abortion and fail to speak to the aforementioned sociological issues that cause abortion to happen? Or even more so, when we scream about "my taxes" and scoff at "entitlements" in the face of so great a need as a pregnant woman?

*Aren't we in danger of like short-sightedness, when we harp on the part of the Bible that address sexual immorality, but leave out God's view of such things as greed and materialism? Take note of the following verse:

Ezekiel 16:49 "'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen"

God destroyed Sodom, largely due to selfish greed! Yet I've presented this point to outright derision & scorn from those who have a hard time deling with the reaility of this. But doesn't God care about both greed and sexual sin?

Jim Wallis, editor of
Sojouners magazine and author of the best-selling book God's Politics says that the Religious Right is beginning to lose control, and that the monologue they created is being replaced by a true dialogue. It's about time. And it's probably a pretty accurate assessment. Just this week I happened to catch a broadcast of "The 700 Club" and note how Pat Robertson and some of his reporters were wringing their hands over the impending defeat of the Republicans by the Democrats in several key political races this November. His correspondents were going to spend a couple of days in the field pretending to be like real reporters in the Big Networks and try to figure it all out. How boring. I got a better story for them to go look into: I just learned that in BC, Canada they are calling for visas for Mexican farmworkers to come in and fill much needed gaps in Agricutural labor. Pat, why are you so hyped up about the Republicans?

In the near future I plan to address the issue of this fall elections and explain how and why I plan to cast my vote in various key races and issues. And it's not going to be popular with some sectors of Evangelicalism. Too bad, because the need for "dialogue" these days couldn't be greater.