Jul 312014

zwingli-1-sizedThe Reformation came to Switzerland in the person of Ulrich Zwingli.

Heavily influenced by the Humanist genius Erasmus, Zwingli came to be convinced of the primacy of Scripture while serving as parish priest in the village of Glarus.

He also became deeply involved in the politics of the time, particularly where the legendary Swiss mercenaries were concerned.

The Swiss mercenaries were the continents best…when kings went to war it was a race to get the Swiss on their side against the opposition.

He was a chaplain for the famed group and saw them slaughtered in a battle in 1515…and began to speak out against the mercenary trade and for Swiss patriotism.

His outspokenness caused him to have to move to Einsiedeln…where he made his first contribution to the Protestant faith.

Becoming more and more conversant with the Greek and Hebrew texts, Zwingli abandoned the lectionary and began to teach the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse.

No, it didn’t start with Chuck…

Zwingli had a “Luther” moment in Einsiedeln as well when he ran the indulgence purveyor Bernard Samson out of town…with the popes approval.

In 1518 Zwingli became a finalist for the position of “peoples priest” in Zurich…but there was a small problem.

Rumor had it that Zwingli had a sexual affair with a young woman while in Einsiedeln…which he confessed to, though he blamed the woman for seducing him.

His competition for the position, however, had a known concubine and six illegitimate children and the edge went to Zwingli.

In late 1519 and early 1520 the plague came to Zurich…Zwingli refused to leave his post to save himself and contracted the disease himself.

He recovered, but a quarter of the city died.

In 1522, the Reformation came to full manifestation in Zurich…with sausages.

Two men ate a sausage dinner during Lent with Zwingli present.

He did not partake, but defended the Christian liberty to eat what you want, when you want…and fast the same way.

That, believe it or not, was a spiritual and political earthquake.

The city fathers agreed with Zwingli…and the Reformation went into overdrive.

The next domino to fall was clerical celibacy, aided by the fact that Zwingli was already living with his partner, whom he married in 1524.

In 1523 Zwingli defended his 67 Theses to the city council and in 1525 the council outlawed the Mass.

Zurich was fully Protestant.

Zwingli and Luther agreed significantly on most theological issues…but one disagreement prevented “communion”.

The Marburg Colloquy was called to establish political and theological unity and Luther and Zwingli met face to face.

They quickly came to agreement on 14 of 15 doctrinal points Luther demanded be met.

On the fifteenth point, Luther drew on the table with chalk… “THIS IS MY BODY”

Zwingli rejected the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist on the basis that Christ’s body is seated at the right hand of the Father…and cannot be in more than one place at one time.

He believed in a “spiritual presence” and his exegesis provided the foundation of the “memorial view” of communion common today.

According to Luther, this meant that he and Zwingli were “of a different spirit”…and the first split of the Reformation took place.

In 1531 Zwingli was killed in battle against the Roman Catholics.

Your modern contributions from Zwingli…verse by verse teaching and the memorial view of communion.


Jul 302014

Screen-shot-2013-12-04-at-7.18.39-PMMark Driscoll may be forced to either really repent or resign…and that will be a first of sorts.




Long time readers here will know how frustrated I’ve been over the years at how easy it has been for rogue pastors to survive scandals, indeed to prosper after the scandals died.

Why might it be different this time ?

As with most of these situations, the internal accountability of Mars Hill is nil.

Because the structure is set up to keep the powerful in power, the call for accountability has to come from outside.

That’s where social media comes in.

We’ve run stories about abuse at Mars Hill for at least six or seven years….others have done more, longer.

Social media is never enough to force real change.

The real change has to come from inside and out and the biggest blow to Driscoll was when multiple former elders and pastors admitted to being both abused and abusers.

That triggered the real key to reform…the people in the pews started to leave and take their money with them.

Those three keys working together made it uncomfortable enough in the throne room for Driscoll to move from stonewalling (the most effective way to deal with social media pressure) to vague apology…where he blew it.

When he declared his detractors anonymous, they decided to remind him of their names.

That has led the local media in Seattle to run stories about the matter and brought Driscoll and Mars Hill to the tipping point.

It takes all three factors I’ve outlined to make it so…the only one that will work solo is #3.

1. Social media.

2. Internal sources willing to speak and ready to change.

3. The pews choosing to take definitive actions.

All three have come together against Driscoll…now they just need to finish the job.


I think Jonna Petry said it eloquently;

“Why would a Christian protest a church?” Because years have passed and abuse and corruption continues unchecked, because people are exploited and harmed and the gospel is maligned…because a real Christian loves Jesus and wants to see His church healthy and strong and the LOVE of God proclaimed. Below are my personal reasons why I will be joining a peaceful protest this Sunday August 3rd at the Bellevue Campus. I hope many will join me us.

1.Out of love for God and others (Matthew 22:37, John 13:34-35, 1 Corinthians 16:13) 2.To warn and protect others from harm (Acts 20:28-30. 1 Corinthians 13) 3.To call abusive church leaders to account (Matthew 18:17, Luke 17:1-3) 4.To expose lies, deception and evil (Ephesians 5:11) 5.To advocate for victims and perpetrators (Matthew 25:40) 6.To promote healing, growth and new life in people, relationships and communities (Luke 5:31) 7.To stand against oppression, injustice and greed (Luke 4:18, Jeremiah 22:13, 1 Timothy 6:10)

I’ll just say the “amen”.

The genius that is Wenatchee the Hatchet has provided context and even more material to yesterdays “Pussified Nation” rants.

Jul 302014

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we remember Saeed Abedini.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.


John Kerry remembers Saeed…

Jul 292014

timthumb.phpAnother look at how we view the Bible…

The loss of pastoral credibility in the age of the internet…link of the week, in my opinion.

Can traditional religion survive a wired world?

Hey, Mark…this is how it’s done…

IRS to investigate pulpit freedom pastors…

Choosing which hills to die on…

The next chapter for Christian publishing…

When humble isn’t humble…

The most vexing question…

The hard parts of pastoring…

Samaritans Purse doctor contracts ebola…

From faith atheism, back to faith…

“N” is for Nazareth…

The kids who stay in church…

Christ confesses us…

New poll data on immigration and refugees…

Why grace requires honesty…

Updated: The insane rants of Mark Driscoll in 2000, posting as William Wallace II (graphic language alert)

Jul 282014

thinking-pic1. We could soon see a tyrant toppled.

The Facebook group “Dear Pastor Mark and Mars Hill: We Are Not Anonymous” has over 400 members in just a few days.

If one more layer of the church decides to leave, it is my belief that the organization is thrown into financial bankruptcy that matches it’s spiritual failure.

In the mega church world that’s where the rubber meets the road…so keep speaking out and keep pushing, my friends.

2. If your home church has to expand to the dining room as well as the front room…are you now multi-site?

3. Remember when discernment ministries went after non-Christian cults instead of brothers and sisters? The Mormons and JW’s must think God answered their prayers…

4. The Gospel is thwarted when the church stops being ambassadors of Christ and start becoming policemen for Jesus…

5. Real pastors repent first…

6. I started teaching on the Beatitudes last night…’blessed are the poor in spirit”. “Blessed” doesn’t mean “happy”, it means approved by God or in God’s favor. The first Beatitude teaches us that those who understand that they have nothing and have done nothing to commend themselves to God, but are unworthy recipients of His grace are those whom God blesses. My guess is that those who feel that the church is fortunate to have them and their “gifts’ may not have His approval or favor. The minute you think you qualified on your own is the minute you deny the Gospel…

7. The trend in reality shows is now to have the people in them naked. We have a naked survival show and a naked dating show and any residual ideas of of decency and shame go the way of the dinosaur. Of course, if they’re successful, there will be a “naked church” show and we can just pray that they don’t film it at a Baptist potluck…

8. When it’s founder passed, Lutheranism went through a split between traditionalists and progressives. They had to acknowledge the schism and go through a process of redefinition and redeterminations about leadership and doctrine. That was for my CC friends…

9. The person or group you have the most difficult time loving is the person or group that God can use to greatest benefit in your sanctification.

10. I have to get ready for a job interview…what are you thinking about this week?

Jul 272014

thumbnail.aspxYou are the God of all truth, the God of deep hiddenness.

God of all hiddenness who shows yourself in your being hidden,

who hides yourself in your disclosures,

we would know more of you of your goodness and your mercy,

of your large purposes and long-term dreams.


In your presence we become aware of how little we know of ourselves,

of our interests and passions,

of our fears and dreads,

of our own wonderments and gifts.

In your truthfulness, let us know more of you and in knowing you, ourselves as well.

We pray in the name of Jesus, where we see you fully, and ourselves clearly.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 54). Kindle Edition.

Jul 252014

are-you-ready-(1)“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 ESV)

On Fridays I usually write something that is meant to encourage the reader…something creative and easy to remember that you can find helpful.

The cares of this world and the trials of life have sucked all the creativity out of me…but I will offer one thing to those who are in deep, long trials.

Be ready.

Every morning I get up to an alarm even though I currently have no need to do so.

I shower, I groom, I get my coffee, I take my medicine…I’m ready.

There is a set of pressed clothes waiting in my closet, while I wait for the call that means I need to wear them.

I’m ready.

I get ready for the day, even though I don’t have any plans for the day or know what the day holds.

I’m ready even though I’ve been ready for almost a year and a half without anything to be ready for.

I’m ready because His mercies are new every morning and in faith I anticipate His mercies for that day.

I’m ready because He is going to come into my circumstances at a time and in a way that I don’t expect…I need to be ready.

I’m ready because He promised to never leave or forsake me….which means He’s with me and working all these things for my good and His glory.

I’m ready because no situation is hopeless when your hope is in Him.

I’m ready because He told me to be ready.

He’s coming.

Be ready.

Make your own application…

Jul 252014

220px-DHM_-_Luther_auf_TotenbettThe Dark Side Of Luther

By any measurement, Martin Luther was a theological genius. a man of occasionally stunning courage, a man to whom the church owes an un repayable debt.

He could also be a foul mouthed, mean spirited, hypocrite of stunning proportion.

To learn all that Luther has to teach us, we must examine those matters as well.



The Peasant Rebellion

Luther was a hero to the common man of Germany, to the peasant who had endured centuries of economic oppression at the hand of the ruling classes. In 1525, two men, one a tanner and one a pastor, wrote the peasant grievances down in a document called “The Twelve Articles of Memmingen” laced with biblical proof texts and principles. Luther responded favorably with an article called “Admonition to Peace” that sided with the peasants against the landowners with one caveat…there could be no active rebellion against the rulers and certainly no violence.

Violence did break out however, and Luther responded with a vicious book,“Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants” in which he encouraged the landowners to “smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful or devilish than a rebel”.

An estimated 100,000 peasants died in the war.

The Bigamy of Prince Phillip

Luthers very life and the burgeoning Reformation of the church depended on having political support from the princes.

None was more important than Philip of Hesse.

To make a long story short, Philip wanted to marry a woman other than his wife, and divorce was impossible because of political considerations.

That left bigamy as the only option.

Luther gave his approval, with an admonition that if the wickedness was discovered that Philip should “tell a big lie”.

It was discovered, and in an ironic twist, the ramifications almost destroyed the Reformation.

The Jews

In 1543 Luther penned one of the darkest documents of the 16th century, “On the Jews and Their Lies”.

The German people were urged to burn Jewish synagogues and homes, burn their writings, and prevent rabbis from teaching upon threat of execution.

The Jew was to be the slave of the German, if he were to be in Germany at all.

It is a horrific and indefensible document, a blight on the life and works of Luther.

Why did he write it?

He was not always an enemy of the Jews…in earlier writings he had been (contrary to the spirit of the age) tolerant of the Jews and advised tolerance toward them.

I believe it was two issues…

One, efforts to evangelize the Jews had been a failure, indeed the Jews had been as successful in winning converts from Lutheranism.

This was intolerable rebellion to Luther.

Second, Luther believed he was living the last days…the Anti-Christ was in Rome, the Turks were at the door, and Christ was coming at any moment.

There was no time to waste on rebels and their rejection of Christ left them already condemned.

In his mind, their condemnation was just.

The tragic effects of his writings have rippled down through the centuries…we can try to understand the motives, but we can never defend it.

As Luther approached the end of his life, he was beset with many physical maladies, anxiety attacks, and the wear of having a price on your head for twenty five years.

He disputed harshly with friend and foe alike with only his beloved Katie and his friend Melancthon exempt from his rage.

He died of heart failure on Feb 18, 1546.

What say you of Luther?

What can we learn from a man so greatly used of God…yet so prone to the sins that beset us all?

Jul 242014

467px-1570_Cranach_d.J._Portrait_Martin_Luther_anagoriaWe left Luther standing in condemnation at the Diet of Worms.

He would safely escape the fires, but he would also live the rest of his life as an outlaw and a heretic in the eyes of the state.

His protector, Frederick the Wise, had him “kidnapped” on the way home to insure his security and Luther lived in the Wartburg Castle for about a year and a half under an assumed name.



It was there that Luther translated the Scriptures into the German language, changing both the common religion and the language at one time.

He returned to Wittenberg to take charge of the Reformation…radicals had taken control of the churches and Luther came back to insure a more moderate and orderly transition.

His primary theological contributions would fill volumes to do justice to…but this is a blog, so let’s just hit the high spots.

Law and Gospel

Luther drew a strong distinction between “law” and “Gospel”…his hermeneutic is based on this and it was his belief that distinguishing them properly was the key to biblical interpretation.

The Theology of the Cross

The cross is the only source of knowledge about who God is and how God saves. This is contrasted with a “theology of glory” that credits human reason and works.

Justification by Faith Alone

The crux of the Reformation, the doctrine upon which all else stands or falls.

Simul justus et peccator

The doctrine that Christians are simultaneously saint and sinner.

Two Kingdom Theology

God rules the earth in two different ways…the secular through the law and the church through the Gospel.

The Lords Supper

Luther was a deeply committed to the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist and would tolerate no dissent, nor give any quarter on the matter. Reconciliation with Rome and the second generation of the Reformation always was defeated on this point.


Luther not only freed the ministry from celibacy, but he changed the way that Europe thought about marriage.  Dr. Frank James notes that the reasons for marriage previously centered on the size of a dowry, political considerations, and upward social mobility. Luther’s outspoken affection for his wife Katie (who was smuggled out of a nunnery in a herring barrel) changed the reason for marriage to love and mutual affection. What a concept…

Next…the dark side of Luther.