That's a post I did over at Thinklings. Check it out, if you feel so inclined.
I posted this on Thinklings the other day, and I thought I'd post it here as well since I haven't posted anything all week. :-)
With a nod from John Calvin, the Geneva city council in 1553 burned Michael Servetus at the stake. Servetus was a heretic who denied the Trinity of persons within the Godhead and denied paedobaptism. While Calvin preferred to give Servetus a quick death via decapitation, he had to compromise with the council who preferred to let Servetus burn to death.
On a related note, a few years earlier, Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli, and his council, persecuted Anabaptists by giving them their "third baptism": a death by drowning. Zwingli would later die by the sword, fighting Catholics in neighboring counties.
Sadly, the history of Christianity is rich with bloodshed. Thankfully, these days we don't kill guys like Joel Osteen and whoever the guy is who wrote The Shack, but I think the history of dealing with heresy should teach us that orthodoxy -- right thinking -- really matters. To be sure, I don't condone certain ways the church has dealt with heresies in the past; in fact, I find many of those ways appalling. While I'm not a pacifist, I tend to think that the Anabaptists had a lot of right ideas when it came to their aversion to violence.
Heresy is serious, and an appropriate response to heresy is something the evangelical church needs to grapple with in this age of pluralism, "tolerance," and sweltering anti-Christianity. As far as an appropriate response goes, violence is not the answer.
I posted some thoughts on men's ministry here. (Hover your mouse over the "here." It's a link.)
Many, if not most, writings in this category [Apostolic Fathers] were treated as Scripture alongside the Gospels and apostles' epistles by some Christian churches in the second century. In fact, one way of understanding this category is as the books that came to be judged orthodox but barely missed being judged canonical, inspired Scripture when the Christian canon was being determined. In other words, these writings were hardly distinguished from the writings of the apostles by some Christians in the Roman Empire but were ultimately excluded because they received no universal agreement as Scripture . . .
-- Roger E. Olsen, The Story of Christian Theology
I've been reading a translation of the Apostolic Fathers lately, and, despite their inclination toward moralism, they're very refreshing to read. In fact, if Christians used the Apostolic Fathers as a theological resource on certain issues, they could help shed light on the way many first-generation believers viewed certain cultural and doctrinal issues. For example ...
You shall not murder ... you shall not abort a child or commit infanticide.
-- Didache 2:2
Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: after you have reviewed all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in running water. But if you have no running water, then baptize in some other water; and if you are not able to baptize in cold water, then do so in warm. But if you have neither, then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
-- Didache 7:1-3
The Lord submitted to suffer for our souls, even though he is Lord of the whole world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, "Let us make humankind according to our image and likeness," . . .
-- Barnabas 5:5
Those are only a few examples of certain theological and moral issues that the Apostolic Fathers have something to say about. To be sure, the Apostolic Fathers are not Scripture, but, as Olsen said, they are by-and-large considered orthodox. Sure, in many ways they truly didn't understand the Gospel of Grace, but they didn't have the luxury of the full revelation of Scripture that we now possess.
Furthermore, it's important to note that the Apostolic Fathers were the guys who, in many instances, knew the apostles. For example, Polycarp was a disciple of John. While they didn't have the full canon of Scripture to rely on, they did have a close association with the apostles. They were Christianity's first theologians.
I finished Paul Hoffman's book, King's Gambit, yesterday evening.
If you're a chess fan, and if you follow modern chess celebrities like Kasparov, you'll probably get a kick out of King's Gambit, but I doubt the average reader will find it very interesting at all.
The book didn't seem to have a strong, central theme. Sure, it's chock-full if interesting, and downright exciting, interviews with colorful, flamboyant, and wacky chess personalities, but the tome tasted more like a so-so pot luck dinner than a filet mignon, or even a double-quarter-pounder meal. At its best King's Gambit is a hodgepodge of chess anecdotes with no real, substantive connecting thread between the chapters (with the exception of a good dose of father bashing; man, this guy's got an Eldredgian Wound like you'd never believe).
Hoffman must have received inspiration from J.C. Hallman's, The Chess Artist, because he tried his darndest to emulate Hallman's knack for storytelling. While Hoffman is no slouch, he's not quite a J.C. Hallman.
If you're a chess fiend, pick up King's Gambit, it's a worthy read. If not, don't bother.
I've got more Bibles than I can count, and, much to Jack T. Chick's chagrin, I've got multiple translations.
My primary Bible is a genuine leather NKJV New Geneva Study Bible. The Thinklings might recall an email exchange, circa 1999, when we discussed the purchase of Bibles and all that goes along with such an endeavor. The end result was me purchasing the Bible I use today.
I like the feel of the genuine leather in my hands (as opposed to the ubiquitous bonded leather). I like the familiarity of knowing where all of my favorite passages are, and accessing them with the flick of a wrist.
Even during the height of my rebellion, I always read scripture. The inspired word always resonated with me, convicted me, wooed me. I often think how fortunate we are that most of us can read, and that Bibles (at least in America) are cheap and universal.
I imagine I'll start looking to replace my primary Bible when it's about ten years old, and that'll be in about two years. My plan is to use a Bible for about ten years, pack it away somewhere, and then, one day, give it to one of my kids or grandchildren.
(A few words of advice, if you're looking to have a Bible that'll last for years, you'll want to buy a genuine leather Bible, not a bonded leather Bible. Something like calfskin leather might even be better. Also, the leather stays oiled by frequent use. The oils in your hand keep the leather of your Bible nice and hydrated. If you store a genuine leather Bible away, you might want to break it out every six months or so and oil it up with some sort of leather lotion.)