The Reformation at 500

So, five hundred years ago today, a young monk nailed 95 points of contention on the door of a church in Germany. Or maybe he didn’t. Current research indicates that he (yes, his name was indeed Martin Luther) actually mailed two copies, both with personal cover letters to Albrecht the archbishop of Mainz and to Jerome [Scultetus] the Bishop of Brandenburg. Both were in his line of command.

The main complaint was indeed Johann Tetzel, the overzealous seller of indulgences (and Grand Inquisitor of Heresy to Poland). That he didn’t detonate this bomb with a hammer on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, doesn’t change the fact that it was a bomb.

Tetzell left us a memorable phrase, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul out of purgatory springs“. Although, again, he may never have said it. But somebody did in early 16th century Germany. In Theses 27, Luther wrote,

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory. 28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone (LW 31:27).

Part of the reason it became so heated is that the money from the sale of indulgences was being used to build St Peters Basilica in Rome, as Luther put it, on the backs of poor German peasants. There were other things as well.

Luther also departed radically from medieval perceptions of human righteousness, single-faceted as they were. Righteousness meant for the spectrum of theological voices from Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas to Ockham and Biel that human beings in some way met the demands for perfect performance of God’s law in one way or another. That might be possible, as Augustine taught, only through the aid of God’s grace and with his gracious forgiveness. Aquinas, too, taught the prevenient grace had to come before good works but that good works constituted that which makes God take pleasure in his human creatures.

Despite the admission that God’s grace is necessary for becoming righteous, this one-dimensional understanding of human identity or righteousness placed Luther continuously under God’s judgment until he discovered that human righteousness in God’s sight comes alone from God and that there are two facets to human identity. […]

A simple theological parable may clarify the distinction. Although by the definition of his own theology Thomas Aquinas had sufficient merit to proceed directly to heaven, without having to work off temporal punishment in purgatory, the Dominican saint dallied along the way, visiting old friends and doing research among those who still had purgatorial satisfactions to discharge there. He arrived at Saint Peter’s gate some 272 years after his death, on February 18, 1546. After ascertaining his name, Saint Peter asked Thomas, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” “Because of the grace of God,” Thomas answered, ready to explain the concept of prevenient grace should it be necessary. Peter asked instead, “How do I know you have God’s grace?” Thomas, who had brought a sack of his good deeds with him, was ready with the proof. “Here are the good works of a lifetime,” he explained. “I could have done none of them without God’s grace, but in my worship and observation of monastic rules, in my obedience to parents, governors, and superiors, in my concern for the physical well-being and property of others, in my chastity and continence, you can see my righteousness – grace-assisted as it may be.” Since a line was forming behind Thomas, Peter waved him in, certain that Thomas would soon receive a clearer understanding of his own righteousness. The next person in line stepped up. “Name?” “Martin Luther.” “Why should I let you into my heaven?” “Because of the grace of God.” Peter was in a playful mood, so he went on, “How do I know you have God’s grace? Thomas had his works to prove his righteousness, but I don’t see that you have brought any proof along that you are righteous.” “Works?” Luther exclaimed. “Works? I didn’t know I was supposed to bring my works with me! I thought they belonged on earth, with my neighbors. I left them down there.” “Well,” said Gatekeeper Peter, “how then am I supposed to know that you really have God’s grace?” Luther pulled a little, well-worn, oft-read scrap of paper out of his pocket and showed it to Peter. On it were the words, “Martin Luther, baptized, November 11, in the year of our Lord 1483.” “You check with Jesus,” Luther said. “He will tell you that I have been born again as a member of the family. He will tell you that he has given me the gift of righteousness through his own blood and his own resurrection.”

This is a superb article if one wants to understand what the Reformation was about. You can find it here, Luther’s Truths, Then and Now. Mind, it is long.

But I want to highlight four things which are different in how we Lutherans view the Reformation, even from other Protestants, according to Gene Veith, whom many of you know I have found a reliable guide to Lutheran thought. They are very truncated from what Dr Veith wrote, do follow the link.

I.  Reforming the church is not the same as starting a new church.  There is a difference between fixing up a house that has fallen into disrepair and tearing down the house and building a new one.  […]

Thus, Lutheran worship took the liturgy and removed prayers to the saints, references to Purgatory, and other elements that pointed away from Christ.  But most of the liturgy remained.

II.  Luther didn’t split the church.  The pope did.  Luther is credited or blamed for splitting what was once a unified Christian church.  When Luther posted his 95 theses, he was drawing attention to clear abuses, financial corruption, and theological confusion.  That his complaints were valid is demonstrated by the Roman Catholic church eventually changing the specific practices to which Luther was originally objecting.

III.  The Bible wasn’t translated so that individuals could interpret it for themselves.  I once heard the Lutheran theologian David Jay Webber comment that “Lutherans resist interpretation.”  You don’t read the Bible so that you can make up your own theology.  You read the Bible for a confrontation with God.

IV.  The Reformation did not replace Sacramental Christianity.  Luther’s Reformation was about strengthening sacramental Christianity.  Baptism does not just wash away original sin and the sins committed before Baptism, after which you must resort to the rite of penitence ; rather, in the words of George Herbert, Baptism “measures all my time.”  Lutherans retained confession and absolution, not as a separate sacrament, but as a function of Baptism, since sins are forgiven using the Baptismal formula, “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  Furthermore, sins that have been forgiven do not require “temporal punishment” in Purgatory.  To Lutheran Reformers, Holy Communion is not a new sacrifice of Christ, to be received only by those who have been shriven of their sins and are in a state of purity; rather, it is Christ giving His Body and His blood “for you,” to the sinner, for remission of sins.

So there you go, 500 years ago today, a simple German (or was he?) monk and priest, in fact, a Doctor of the Church, set out to see things that were visibly wrong in the Church of his day. As usual with the things of man, it did not go quite as he planned. but he did succeed in reforming that Church, and established another as a counterweight, which if we pay attention can help both churches to stay on track.

Along the way, he established the way the German language is used to this day, maybe not on Shakespeare’s level, but on Tyndale’s, and he gave us concepts in Christianity that have served us well, all over the world.

Let’s end by going back to Robert Kolb for a bit, shall we? For truly, here lies one of the root stems of the modern world, in all its glory, and in its evil as well.

Luther recognized both the promise and the ambiguity of new technology and new modes of communication. In a world in which God’s material blessings flow richly with gifts that can aid our thinking and our communicating, new modes of communicating can also be hijacked by Satan. Further complicating matters, disciplines always carry ideological baggage and need Christ critique. In such a world, Luther’s ability to marshal technology as well as an array of colleagues and their teaching across the spectrum of the curriculum of the time should serve as a model for us. Luther’s emphasis on literacy endowed us sociologically with a kind of upward social mobility. […]

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The Swamp and Machete Report.

Senator Steve King had a few things to say about a couple;e of his colleagues, who scuttled the ‘Skinny’ Obamacare repeal the other day,, after promises going back to the corrupt passage of the monstrosity.

He’s right in all details, of course.


There was a knife attack in Hamburg the other day, which killed one and wounded several. The perpetrator shouted Allu Akbar, or Aloha Snackbar, or something. The police are puzzled by what the motive may have been. I’m puzzled that the Germans keep electing such cretins as Mutti Merkel, but I’m a simple man who believes in right and wrong, and self-defense, as a person, and a society.


Joe Klein writing at Warsclerotic has some very appropriate thoughts about the war going on between the deep state (in the State Department) and the President.

The State Department’s own “deep state” is trying to sabotage President Trump’s foreign policy agenda. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran, Qatar and climate change, the State Department, under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is reported to be in “open war” with the White House. Key high level positions remain vacant as Obama holdovers “continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda,” according to the Free Beacon. Secretary Tillerson has reportedly run interference to protect the Obama holdovers from being removed, allowing resistance to President Trump’s foreign policy agenda to flourish within the State Department.

The first casualty of this internal coup by the State Department’s deep state is Israel. The shadow of the Obama administration’s anti-Israel bias was reflected in a report the State Department released on July 17, 2017 entitled Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. It praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for reiterating “his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means.” The report referred to what it called “significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence.”

The State Department report brushed aside clear evidence of a continuing barrage of incendiary rhetoric appearing on official Palestinian Authority and Fatah social media outlets and of inflammatory statements by Palestinian officials, including Abbas himself. Instead, it claimed that the Palestinian Authority “has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence.”

The State Department report conveniently skipped over the fact that Abbas remains committed to paying regular salaries to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned for killing Jews and to terrorists’ families. Their perfidiously named “Martyrs Fund” has a treasure chest of about $300 million dollars. That blood money comes in part from foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, some of which is contributed by American taxpayers. President Trump has spoken out against the ‘pay to slay Jews’ terrorist payments, but the State Department has turned a blind eye. Obama holdover Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, is reported to have steered Secretary Tillerson into making the erroneous claim that the Palestinian Authority had ceased spending U.S. taxpayer funds to pay terrorists, according to the Free Beacon’s sources.

Yep, and a good part of this also goes back to the failed GOP leadership in the Senate. That is a large part of why all those Obama appointees are still scattered around the government (and there are tons of them). The Senate under McConnel just can’t find enough votes as the majority party to confirm (with 51 votes out of 100, or 101 is Pence is in the chair). Or maybe they don’t want to, they seem to be more considerate to the Democrats that to the Republican rank and file that elected them. I suspect that Draining the Swamp™ will proceed much better after more than a few GOP Senators get primaried.

 

Cartoon and maybe Video Week in Review

Time to summarise the week again, in cartoons and perhaps videos. From Warsclerotic

This seems right!

Funny, not exactly how I remember it!

 

Your tourism Euros at work

And from PowerLine, of course. Steve is also right that the news is turning into Groundhog day. Can’t speak for you, but I find the same BS day after day to be boring.

Hmmm.

I always love these, those drunken architects!

A bear in the woods.

Some Bill Whittle

And, of course, a reminder

Frau Merkel und das Vierte Reich: Bedrohung für den Westen

There is a lot here, more than we are going to unpack today, but I think Nikolaas De Jong is on to something here.

In the mainstream media, the policies of the German prime minister, Angela Merkel, are often portrayed as a form of atonement for Germany’s past sins of imperialism and genocide. Letting in a million refugees is supposedly the absolute negation of the Holocaust, and pressing for further European cooperation is seen as the opposite of Germany’s old attempts to violently bring the rest of Europe under its control. And for these very reasons, progressive politicians and intellectuals around the world are now looking up to Merkel as the defender of pluralistic Western values. […]

Let us begin with the more obvious parallel: German support for further European integration. Despite all the German talk about subordinating narrow national interests to the European project, careful observers must have noticed the coincidence that the Germans always see themselves as the leaders of this disinterested project, and that the measures deemed to be necessary for further European cooperation always seem to be German-made.

Are the Germans really such idealistic supporters of the European project? It is more probable that in reality they see the European Union as an ideal instrument to control the rest of Europe. […]

You can be your own judge here, but I don’t see many (or any) sign that Merkel is doing anything that she perceives as against the German national interest. That doesn’t mean she is correct, like his successors, Kaiser Wilhelm II made plenty of mistakes, part of the reason that by 1919 he was unemployed, dreaming of being an American cowboy. That also includes trying to keep the British under their thumb by trying to derail Brexit. The British, even more than the Americans, are the traditional guardians of the European balance of power, engaged in, but not part of, Europe. And far more committed to individual freedom than Germany has ever been, and sixty years of Naziism followed by communism probably hasn’t changed that for the better. Tell me again what part of Germany Frau Merkel is from. Now tell me who runs Brussels.

Thus, on closer scrutiny, there is a strong continuity between the foreign policy of Wilhelm II, Hitler, and Merkel. And this continuity can easily be explained by looking at Germany’s position within Europe. On the one hand, Germany is the strongest and largest country in Europe, but on the other hand it is not strong or large enough to dominate the rest of Europe automatically. In consequence, ever since German unification in 1870, the country has been presented with the choice either to subordinate its wishes to those of the rest of Europe — which has always appeared rather humiliating — or to attempt the conquest of Europe, in order to ensure that Germany’s wishes would always prevail. […]

Lots of truth here, even in Bismarck’s campaigns (that unified Germany), Germany (or Prussia, by some reads) wasn’t quite strong enough, so it was reduced to bullying the rest of the continent to get its way. This didn’t work well, with the Soviet Union and the United States staring at each other in Germany, but with the demise of the Soviets, and the American attention being drawn elsewhere, it may well be so, again.

However, the most frightening thing is that the parallels between Merkel’s mentality and that of her authoritarian predecessors go deeper than mere geopolitics. Because the philosophical premises underlying modern German policies are also at least partly similar to those that motivated Germany in both World Wars. […]

I think he makes a pretty good case here, opposing the collectivism of the classical German, and the love of Ordnung, above all, especially as it contrasts with the classical liberalism of the Anglosphere. He includes the French here, but I find that including the French in classical liberalism is just a hair too far. Their model is far more often license, liberty without responsibility. I commented elsewhere yesterday that in some ways we are again facing the old Christian question that surfaced most strikingly in the Great War, “Gott mit uns” or “We are on the Lord’s side”. Although both sides are far less religious than they were a hundred years ago, there is still that dichotomy in how we view the world.

To conclude: far from being the defender of Western values like individual liberty and individual rights, the modern Germany is acting in a very German way indeed.

And that is very true, and rather frightening, indeed. Read the full article,  Why Germany Is Once Again a Threat to the West

Gulliver Awakes

Well, here’s a development made for clichés, isn’t it. “Sorry, Lauren, I guess we won’t have Paris after all.” But to me, it is most reminiscent of the story of Gulliver and the Lilliputians. One sees that the Europeans and the Asians realize that if Uncle Sam really gets back to productive work, it’s unlikely to be good for them, or even for the multi-national corporations they helped create, and so they attempted to create structures that a weak US administration would attempt to saddle the US economy with. Well, there is a problem with a plan that is anti-American enough to garner no support in Congress, and so you have to implement it with subterfuge. That’s what the Paris accord was, of course, the industrialized world kowtowing to China and maybe India, begging to be eaten last.

The problem is, the American people instinctively understood this, and stood up on their hind legs and told Congress “No” in very uncertain terms. Loud enough that their globalist paymasters had to give up, and Obama had to find a way to implement a treaty, without making it a legal treaty. Well, the people understood this ploy, even through the filter of the MSM, as well. And that’s one of the reasons we got Trump.

There are still many things I do not like about Donald Trump, which all here know, but there is one overriding thing about him, which won him my vote. He understands that his job is to protect and promote America and our people, come what may. I can disagree about many things, and some I do, the same was true with Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon, any Bush at all, and yet I slept OK, with them on duty.

And so, we withdrew yesterday from the Paris Accords, as we never ratified Kyoto, and for the same reason, we have made so much environmental progress here, that these artificial guidelines and penalties are a (very) unfair attack on us. That they are also simply an international version of welfare, as always with much of the loot sticking to the fingers of the administrators) is a secondary, but important factor.

We’ve done cleaning the environment here (until about the last decade) here mostly in the right way, we have found it to increase efficiency, and so it has worked almost voluntarily.

Here’s the President.

Wonder why YouTube lists this as unlisted. Anyone know?

mm

Wonder why YouTube lists this as unlisted. Anyone know? 😉 It starts at about the 1 hour mark, I don’t understand that either. Suppose somebody doesn’t want you to join the half million people that have seen it since yesterday? 🙂

In any case, this is one of those things that may go a long way to “Make America Great Again”.

John Moody, writing on Foxnews.com had a bit of advice for Mutti Merkel as well.

Achtung!

Merkel’s uncalled-for remarks about the United States no longer being a trustworthy partner for its European allies set off a frenzy. Was she so displeased with President Trump during last week’s G-7 meeting? Was their discourse so strident that she thought a verbal warning shot was necessary?

Or is she just trying to keep her job?

Remember, Germany has federal elections scheduled for September, and Merkel, while slightly ahead in most polls, has no sure lock on keeping her party, the Christian Democrats, in the majority. A strong, though receding surge for Socialist Martin Schulz, and a newly energized far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, has squeezed the chancellor, who has been in power since 2005.

But Merkel’s horrible decision to open the gates of Europe to tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa turned her own people against her. Only Germany’s robust economy has saved her from humiliation in the last round of local elections – often an indicator of how federal elections will turn out.

Since she invited migrants into her country, and forced her neighbors to do the same, Europe has suffered nearly a dozen major terror attacks, none more horrific than the December 2016 Christmas market truck massacre in Berlin, which killed 12 and left Germany feeling very exposed to lone-wolf Islamic horror.

And who was among the first to decry Merkel’s come-one, come-all policy? Donald Trump. Who spoke up about the lopsided trade deficit the United States has with Germany? Donald Trump. Who lectured European members of NATO – specifically Germany – about not paying its fair share for the continent’s defense. Same answer.

And remember that Europe, excluding the UK, and a couple of small other countries, hasn’t carried their weight in their own defense since (at least) Nixon was President. It gets a bit tiresome, “doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little, that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” And, in fact, we are pretty tired of it.

When the United Kingdom opted out of the European Union last June, Merkel took it as a personal affront and has since schemed to make the U.K. pay a heavy price for its willfulness.

You might not like Mr. Trump, Frau Merkel. He is rude and outspoken and typically, in your view, American. But remember: Russia is to your east. Vladimir Putin is not impressed with the paltry defense force Europe could put together, if it did not have the United States behind it.

Verstehen?

Funny thing about those Anglo-Saxon countries, they’ll do a lot of things for you, but they do tend to expect at least a modicum of respect for doing that for you which is your own damned job.

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

Blood and Earth

Steve Berman wrote an article for yesterday’s Resurgent. I think he makes quite a valid point. Here’s some of what he said:

[…] Europeans are very much into discussing Trump, and generally trolling any American who doesn’t display sufficient venom and hatred of him. I’ve been criticized by American liberals in the same way, and of course by Trump Kool-Aid drinkers who think I must have carried a Hillary sign because I recognized the factual negatives of a Trump presidency.

But, short of a nuclear war, which is only barely more perceptible inside the realm of fathomability, Trump represents little more than a blip on the slope produced by the American political equation. But someone like Marine Le Pen represents a much greater threat to Europe than Trump does to America.

It’s not just Le Pen. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza (officially “Coalition of the Radical Left”) party; Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, whose PVV party controls 13 percent of the Dutch House of Representatives and 12 percent of the Dutch Senate;  Turkish President-cum-dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Britain’s Brexit vote all represent a swing toward European nationalism. […]

In social liberalism, all the EU nations (Turkey having stalled their joining) share the same cultural liberalism and moral relativism. The term “conservative” in Europe has quite a different meaning than it does in America.

What we’re seeing in Europe is actually dangerous. I’m no fan of one-world government globalism, or some utopian panacea to produce Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité forever. But forgive me for pointing out that Europeans, untethered from the requirements of entwined interests, tend to pursue extremely self-interested courses, regardless of the political philosophy or structure of state government applied to each nation.

In other words, Napoleon, Mussolini, Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas II, Stalin, and Hitler were all woven from the same loom, if not cut from the same cloth. Nationalism, socialism, national socialism, communism, monarchy, or the Jacobins–take your pick. They all inexorably fell to the same result: war, death, conquest, and the conquered.

He’s got a pretty good point here. If I was a Frenchman, I would vote for Le Pen, because as I said on another site yesterday, policies don’t matter all that much when survival is at stake, and I think that is where France is.

You all know that I detest the EU, to my eyes it’s little more than a German Zollverein, a customs union, tending toward Das Vierte Reich, but that’s my view.

But the EU program got underway initially to curb European nationalism. That nationalism has often been toxic as well. It’s often called ‘blood and soil nationalism’. And it has a nasty habit of getting completely out of hand. Frankly, in some ways, Le Pen doesn’t sound all that different from Mussolini and bears watching. But the EU has gone bad and needs destroying before it destroys the West.

One place where I disagree with Steve is where he lumps the UK in with Europe. To me, that just doesn’t hold up. From what I’ve seen of Britain, although that Gott mit uns (like the Kaiser’s) sort of patriotism does exist, as it does in the US, theirs is more like ours, holding their ideals aloft, rather than their land and blood.

And that is the difference with America, our patriotism, while very pronounced, isn’t about the land, or the people. It’s about the idea, often expressed as ‘The City on the Hill’. Traditionally, we go out into the world to fight evil, hoping we are on the Lord’s side, not claiming he is on ours. Therefore, it is not really dangerous in geopolitical terms, if people stay in their own country and leave their neighbors alone, they have little to fear from the US.


A couple shorts:

It was reported that several ISIS fighters, in Iraq (I think) were killed by feral boars. Well, if you ever hunted feral boars, it’s not hard to believe. I mention it mostly because Ace won the day with his phrase, “They got attacked by ‘armored bacon’. That is a most felicitous phrase.

Also, Nordstroms, who are again quietly carrying Ivanka Trump’s designs have also unveiled a pair of jeans (for $425.00) that have been presoiled with fake dirt.

That man wins one internet! Mike Rowe wasn’t impressed, either.

 

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