Happy Reformation Day

In honor of the beginning of the Reformation of the Church, here are some of Luther’s Theses on Indulgences.

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.

30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.

38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.

46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.

55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.

82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?” The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.

90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

(You can find the rest of them here.)



This has got to be a joke. What does this have to do with peace? Maybe I misunderstand the basis of the award, but I always thought that the name had something to do with why it was given. I could be wrong, but trumped up environmental scare tactics don’t seem to have anything to do with peace. “Raising awareness.” Right. Al Gore has become a parody of himself. And now the Nobel committee has joined him in the joke.

It just happens that I also found this today.

“It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film – although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion – but that it is a political film.”

But, of course, that has nothing to do with whether Al Gore is deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a statement, Gore said he was “deeply honored,” adding that “the climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”

Clearly, winning a “peace” prize for a non-political issue would have nothing to do with U.S. politics, would it?

A source involved in Gore’s past political runs told CNN that he definitely has the ambition to use the peace prize as a springboard to run for president.

But he will not run, because he won’t take on the political machine assembled by Sen. Hillary Clinton, said the source. If the senator from New York had faltered at all, Gore would take a serious look at entering the race, the source said. But Gore has calculated that Clinton is unstoppable, according to the source.

Gore repeatedly denied he has any plans to run again, but this week a group of grass-roots Democrats calling themselves “Draft Gore” took out a full-page ad in The New York Times in a bid to change his mind. …

The Nobel committee praised Gore as being “one of the world’s leading environmentalist politicians.”

Yeah, I didn’t think so.


Ann Coulter: Now an Anti-Semite?

Not only is Ann Coulter a bigoted, homophobic, anorexic idiot, she is also an anti-Semite. This because she said that Christians are perfected Jews. She says some theologically weird stuff in that interview, but the fact that Christians might view themselves as “perfected Jews” is not so strange. I’m not sure that Ann knew what she was saying, but it is undeniable that Christians believe the telos (“end” or “goal”) of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) is in Jesus Christ. If that’s anti-Semitic, then the ADL is correct: most Christians are, excepting a few dispensationalists.

Let’s be clear, however: I’m not endorsing Ann’s theology. She calls Christianity the “fast-track program.” She says, “Do you know what Christianity is? We believe your religion, but you have to obey.” What? Obey what? “That is what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws.”  That just doesn’t make any sense.  It’s not like Jews believe they don’t have to obey laws.  And what Christianity is is not “obeying laws”; it’s trusting in Jesus alone for salvation. 

And then she says, “This is what Christians consider themselves, because our testament is the continuation of your testament. You know that. So we think Jews go to heaven. I mean (Jerry) Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws. Ours is ‘Christ died for our sins.'”  First, we don’t believe Jews go to heaven if they don’t trust in Jesus.  Second, it is not a law to follow to believe “Christ died for our sins.”  It is God-given faith.  

Anyway, she obviously needs to be better catechized.  She’s welcome at my church any time.  But, if she means “perfection” equals telos, then I’m with her on that.  It’s not anti-Semitic anymore than saying Muslims have to trust Christ is anti-Arabic.  It just happens to be the case that “salvation is from the Jews,” meaning that Jesus was born and raised a Jew.  How can she be faulted for a historical fact? But without a better explanation of what Christians really believe, I’m not surprised that the host took Ann’s comments the way that she did.


Presidential Impressions


I watched the Republican presidential candidate debate on CNBC today. Just a few impressions: I like Romney on everything, Giuliani on security, Brownback on family issues, Tancredo on immigration, Huckabee on a lot of stuff, and Ron Paul not at all. (First, he was almost hysterical; second, he has two first names.) I like Thompson on YouTube when he’s bashing Michael Moore, but he was not very impressive today. I just hope the nominee is not Giuliani because I can’t deal with his position on abortion. Any comments? (That’s the first debate I watched.)Another thing I liked about this debate was that they were actually talking about substantive issues and they had actual debate. They also didn’t waste a lot of time. Haven’t seen any Democratic debates yet, but I would like to know where the theocracy police are when Obama says that he wants to build the kingdom of God on earth. George Bush has never even come close to such a statement.


Shoot; I’ve Already Lost Mine

Purpose of appendix believed found

Five scientists not connected with the research said that the Duke theory makes sense and raises interesting questions.

The idea “seems by far the most likely” explanation for the function of the appendix, said Brandeis University biochemistry professor Douglas Theobald. “It makes evolutionary sense.”

Well. As long as we’ve got that–evolutionary sense, that is.


Good Music

I’ve picked up a few albums in the last few months, and I think they’re worth listening to.

(In no particular order:)

Over the Rhine, Trumpet Child–not my favorite OtR by far, but there are some good songs, especially the title song. “If A Song Could Be President” is catchy, but it makes them sound like a bunch of hippies strumming their guitars on the White House lawn. As if political naiveté was a virtue. Also, most of the songs seem to lack substance and range from the superficial to the barely-scratching-the-surface.

Maybe the best of the bunch: Josh Ritter, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter–the songs on here are as stick-in-your-head as “Golden Age of Radio” and “Me and Jiggs.” Get. It. Now.

Jeremy Enigk, World Waits–this has been out for a while, but it’s very good. Especially if you liked Return of the Frog Queen. A little more orchestration than that one, though. I’d say somewhere in between his solo stuff and SDRE.

Project 86, Rival Factions–very different than usual P86, but it’s great nonetheless. Sort of anthemic–think 80s (not hair bands) or a hardcore Killers. The cover art is unique.  I especially like “Evil (Chorus of Resistance” and “Sanctuary Hum.”

The Chariot, The Fiancée–oh, I like it! Nice concept and more listenable than the previous album. I actually have this one on my iPod.

Norma Jean, Redeemer–best one for them yet, in my mind.

Regarding the last two: there are some things that should be said for which screaming and metal are the best medium.

I think these are all in my top ten for the year, even if I was a little disappointed with OtR. I want more Good Dog Bad Dog, Films for Radio, and OHIO and less Drunkard’s Prayer and Snow Angels. But that’s just me. Obviously, they can make whatever kind of music they want.