Wilberforce was the leading statesman in 18th and 19th century British Parliament who successfully, in the end, pushed for the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery in the British Empire. (Although the United States was the first major country to ban the slave trade, Great Britain became the first to almost fully ban the institution of slavery in 1833.)
“Read the Bible, read the Bible! Let no religious book take its place. Through all my perplexities and distresses, I seldom read any other book, and I as rarely felt the want of any other.” —William Wilberforce
The former commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, general Robert E. Lee, moved to Lexington Virginia after the Civil War where he was President of Washington and Lee College. Long known for his Christian devotion, while there he served as president of the Rockbridge Bible society, distributing God’s word to everyone in the region.
In a letter dated April 5, 1869 addressed to Rev. George Woodbridge, President of the Virginia Bible Society, he quotes the abolitionist Wilberforce in a positive sense, “I would, however, make the trial, did I think I could be of any service to the great object of the society. If the managers could suggest any plan, in addition to the abundant distribution of the Holy Scriptures, to cause the mass of the people to meditate on their simple truths, and, in the language of Wilberforce, ‘to read the Bible—read the Bible,’ so as to become acquainted with the experience and realities of religion, the greatest good would be accomplished. Wishing the society all success and continuous advancement in its work, I am, most truly yours. R. E. Lee”
In the former book I did not venture to judge the peasants, since they had offered to be set right and to be instructed, and Christ’s commands, in Matthew 7:1, says that we are not to judge. But before I look around they go on, and, forgetting their offer, they betake themselves to violence, and rob and rage and act like maddogs. By this it is easy to see what they had in their false minds, and that the pretences which they made in their twelve articles, under the name of the Gospel, were nothing but lies. It is the devil’s work that they are at, and in particular it is the workof the archdevil who rules at Muhlhausen, and does nothing else than stir up robbery, murder, and bloodshed; as Christ says of him in John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning.” Since, then, these peasants and wretched folk have let themselves be led astray, and do otherwise than they have promised, I too must write of them otherwise than I have written, and begin by setting their sin before them, as God commands Isaiah and Ezekiel, on the chance that some of them may learn to know themselves.
The peasants have taken on themselves the burden of three terriblesins against God and man, by which they have abundantly merited death in body and soul. In the first place they have sworn to be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers, as Christcommands, when He says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” and in Romans 13:2, “Let everyone be subject unto the higher powers.” Because they are breaking this obedience, and are setting themselves against the higher powers, willfully and with violence, they have forfeited body and soul, as faithless, perjured, lying, disobedient knaves and scoundrels are wont to do. St. Paul passed this judgment on them in Romans 13, when he said, that they who resist the power will bring a judgment upon themselves. This saying will smite the peasants sooner or later, for it is God’s will that faith be kept and duty done.
In the second place, they are starting a rebellion, and violently robbing and plundering monasteries and castleswhich are not theirs, by which they have a second time deserved death in body and soul, if only as highwaymen and murderers. Besides, any man against whom it can be proved that he is a maker of sedition is outside the law of God and Empire, so that the first who can slay him is doing right and well. For if a man is an open rebel every man is his judge and executioner, just as when a firestarts, the first to put it out is the best man. For rebellion is not simple murder, but is like a great fire, which attacks and lays waste a whole land. Thus rebellion brings with it a land full of murder and bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and turns everything upside down, like the greatest disaster. Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as when one must kill a maddog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.
In the third place, they cloak this terrible and horrible sinwith the Gospel, call themselves “Christian brethren,” receive oaths and homage, and compel people to hold with them to these abominations. Thus they become the greatest of all blasphemers of God and slanderers of His holy Name, serving the devil, under the outward appearance of the Gospel, thus earning death in body and soul ten times over. I have never heard of more hideous sin. I suspect that the devil feels the Last Day coming and therefore undertakes such an unheard-of act, as though saying to himself, “This is the last, therefore it shall be the worst; I will stir up the dregs and knock out the bottom.” God will guard us against him! See what a mighty princethe devil is, how he has the world in his hands and can throw everything into confusion, when he can so quickly catch so many thousands of peasants, deceive them, blindthem, harden them, and throw them into revolt, and do with them whatever his raging fury undertakes.
It does not help the peasants, when they pretend that, according to Genesis 1 and 2, all things were created free and common, and that all of us alike have been baptized. For under the New Testament Moses does not count; for there stands our Master, Christ, and subjects us, with our bodies and our property, to the emperor and the law of this world, when He says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Paul, too, says, in Romans 13:1, to all baptizedChristians, “Let every man be subject to the power,” and Peter says, “Be subject to every ordinance of man.” By this doctrine of Christ we are bound to live, as the Father commands from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son; hear him.” For baptism does not make men free in body and property, but in soul; and the Gospel does not make goods common, except in the case of those who do of their own free will what the apostles and disciplesdid in Acts 4:32. They did not demand, as do our insane peasants in their raging, that the goods of others, — of a Pilate and a Herod, — should be common, but only their own goods. Our peasants, however, would have other men’s goods common, and keep their own goods for themselves. Fine Christians these! I think there is not a devil left in hell; they have all gone into the peasants. Their raving has gone beyond all measure.
Since the peasants, then, have brought both God and man down upon them and are already so many times guilty of death in body and soul, since they submit to no court and wait for no verdict, but only rage on, I must instruct the worldlygovernors how they are to act in the matter with a clear conscience.
In the second century the Jewish nation suffered terribly under the occupation of the Macedonian king Antiochus Epiphanes. Many people had been slaughtered including children. The temple of the Lord was profaned with sacrifices of pigs to the Greek god Zeus and whores. It was illegal to keep the law God especially the Sabbath day, and those who broke this rule were martyred. Two women were cast off the wall with their nursing babies in their arms. Eleazar, a conscientious priest was put to the rack when he spit out pork that was forced into his mouth in violation of the Mosaic dietary laws. Jason of Cyrene writes,
“Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately, is a sign of great kindness. For in the case of the other nations the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins; but he does not deal in this way with us, in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached their height. Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us. Though he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people.” Jason of Cyrene, circa 110 BC (2 Maccabees 6:12-16)
So I was reading from some second century BC Jewish tradition called the book of first Maccabees recording a history of events in the second century BC in Judea. An alliance is recorded between Jonathan and the leader of the Jews and the Spartans and the Romans against Syria and some of their correspondence is included. It is there affirmed that the Spartans are related to the Jews and sons of Abraham, which was apparently something that was commonly noted in antiquity. Fascinating.
It was 1997. I was a first year cadet at the US Air Force Academy and a part of Squadron 34 “loose hawgs.” I had got through basic cadet training without losing my personal dignity.
The academic year had been in session for a couple months but we were “smacks.” We were in our first year and were constantly standing at attention or running on the walkway and greeting upperclassman etc. In the evening after school was over we came back to the squadron and often had training sessions before a time that was dedicated to doing homework from 7 PM to 11 PM, at which point lights had to be out.
We were situated in dormitory rooms and there were two cadets to each room. It was male or female rooms. A pair of women or a pair of men. If you had someone of the opposite sex in your room, you were required to have the door open. Sometimes in the evening if we had time we would go to each other’s rooms and have some conversation. Friendship and camaraderie exists in the military. Once I was in the room of another male cadet and I expressed the view that women should not be serving in the military. I thought this was a private conversation and did not expect it to go anywhere. I trusted the individual that I was talking to. I counted him as a friend.
The next day an upperclassman accosted me about my supposed “bashing of women.” Then I was trained on the spot when I got back from class by two upperclass cadet women. To me this was not expected but I guess they must have planned it. They dropped me for about 100 to 200 push-ups, I’m not sure how many, while asking me questions like, “how dumb is it to bash women?” They were not actually asking for an answer so I gave the customary response they were looking for, “sir, it is very dumb!” As I “beat my face” a.k.a. continued doing push-ups.
The “training” ended and I was allowed to go back to my dormitory room. Later one of the female cadets involved with the “training session” expressed respect for my position. That’s the end of the story but it taught me a lot about what life would be like.
“The great divide in the early modern history of theology can be identified in the late 17th century rise of historical critical exegesis as an alternative to the churchly, so called pre-critical model and in its direct descendent and heir, the movement leading up to J. P. Gabler’s distinction between biblical and dogmatic theology.”
In other words the big disconnect with the Reformers isn’t 17th century reformed scholastic theology, but it is the distinction between biblical theology and dogmatic theology that happened later.
Per Mueller, as he has so ably demonstrated, it wasn’t reformed scholastic theology of the 17th century that put protestant theology on a new course, it was 1. higher criticism and 2. what is now commonly known in academic circles as “biblical theology.”
These ultimately led to liberal Protestantism. And I venture to say if it were not for that, our country and world would be a much different place right now.
When private Christians, who are no more than mere brethren, exhort and admonish one another, it ought to be in an humble manner, rather by way of entreaty, than with authority; and the more, according as the station of the person is lower. Thus it becomes women, and those that are young, ordinarily to be at a greater distance from any appearance or authority in speaking than others. Thus much at least is evident by 1 Tim. ii. 9, 11, 12.
That lay-persons ought not to exhort one another as clothed with authority, is a general rule; but it cannot justly be supposed to extend to the heads of families in their own families. Every Christian family is a little church, and the heads of it are its authoritative teachers and governors.
Jonathan Edwards, Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England, and the Way in which it Ought To Be Acknowledged and Promoted, IV.V.I, 1742
While we are quarantined let us take full advantage of the opportunities that we have to read and teach our families the word of God and pray with them. Who knows but that this is where revival may start?
This is getting interesting. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the ECM NT looks like.
ECM ( Editio Critica Maior) is a project to produce a new revision of the Greek New Testament based on existing manuscripts and papyri, that is revolutionizing the field of textual criticism. The Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster has added computer data analysis to evaluate not only textual variants, but the relationship of variants to their reading and textual family. It sounds like there are some interesting changes. The catholic epistles have been published in the latest Nestlé-Aland 28th edition published by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society). Klaus Wachtel, a representative of the INTF spoke about the project at a gathering of the Society of Biblical Literature, and noted that the preferred text of the catholic epistles has veered more toward the Byzantine text compared to previous Nestlé-Aland editions! Startling admission. This could get interesting. The text of Acts, the gospels, and Pauline epistles are still a work in progress. I’m interested to see if these also veer more toward a Byzantine text type based on computer data driven analysis of variants, readings, and text families.
Quotes Daniel B. Wallace, “As INTF worked through the Catholic letters, they came to see much greater value of the Byzantine manuscripts than they had previously. In Wachtel’s presentation, he noted that the NA27 displayed “prejudice against the Byzantine tradition” while the NA28 recognized the “reliability of the mainstream tradition.” This is a welcome change in perspective, made possible because of exhaustive collations.”
At the annual Society of Biblical Literature conference held in Chicago last month, the latest edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece, or the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, was unveiled. This has been a long time coming—nineteen years to be exact. The Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster is behind this production, and deserves accolades for its fine accomplishment. This is the first new edition of the Nestle-Aland text since the death of Kurt Aland, the founder of the INTF.
Inexplicably, even though the new text was available at SBL—both as just the Greek text and in diglot with English translations—it could not be acquired through Amazon until later. I pre-ordered a couple copies last April; the diglot arrived in November but the Greek-only text will not be released until January!
Several gave presentations on the new Nestle-Aland text at SBL. Klaus Wachtel of INTF gave an…