Philip Melancthon’s Objection to Other Worlds

“The Son of God is one: our master Jesus Christ, coming forth in this world, died and was resurrected only once. Nor did he manifest himself elsewhere, nor has he died or been resurrected elsewhere. We should not imagine many worlds because we ought not imagine that Christ died and was risen often; nor should it be thought that in any other world without the knowledge of the Son of God that people would be restored to eternal life.”

Initia doctrinae physicae, Corpus Reformatorum 13 (Halle: Schwetschke, 1846; reprint, Frankfurt; Minerva, 1963) 1.221.

Cited by Thomas F. O’Meara, “Christian Theology and Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life” Theological Studies 60 (1999), pg. 6.

What is Trump For?

As I write these words, the first week of the Trump administration has just passed. This means we have either 207 more weeks, or 415 more weeks to fulfill our duty as Christians under the four- or eight-year term of a particular world leader at a particular time in history.

What is the opportunity for faithfulness that the Trump era provides? What challenges? What temptations? What opportunities did we fail to see during the Obama administration and how can we become better at seeing them? These are the questions from which we must not be distracted.

It is not arbitrary to take the opportunity of a change in government leadership to reevaluate what we’re doing as members of Christ. The scriptures invite us to notice who is king, and to measure our time by the stars (the rulers) and their rising and falling from the sky. Jesus’s life was measured by a political timeline–born in an empire, when Quirinius was governor of Syria, dying under the orders of Pontius Pilate, under the sub-kingship of Herod Antipas, under the church government of a corrupt priesthood. His Spirit empowered a church variously crushed or tolerated by a string of subsequent rulers until it crushed the old gods of the state. Christ is, right now, a man of flesh and blood sitting on the highest throne that exists. He is Trump’s king, and Trump is our minister. This is, even now, a theocracy in that sense, as every government is and every government will ever be. What role must those of us play who know the real king and who await his return in the present moment? What work should we be pursuing? Where do we begin? These are appropriate first week questions and they are ringing in my ears.

Trump the vulgarian seems, at this point, to be Trump the caesura–an unexpected pause in the march of some of America’s most cherished and vile pathologies. Other pathologies he embraces, and this is to be expected. But I end this first week with a sense of gratitude for him and of urgency – to think more about Christian duty in this time and place and what sort of institutional, ecclesiastical, scientific, artistic, and cultural work there is to be done.

I’m pretty sure that the next steps required to answer some of these questions are these: I need to talk to other Christians to see what they think we ought to do; I need to talk to non-Christians to see how we can serve them; I need to draw near to God in prayer and sacrament, by the power of the Spirit, in the name of Christ. I’ll let you know, dear reader, how it goes.

(Feel free to share any thoughts you may have here.)

Follow ups: 

Great Article from Peter Leithart

Wrecked Horses

On HWY 82 yesterday, between West Point and Starkville, I saw an overturned horse trailer a quarter of a mile ahead and there was a man standing on the shoulder who was signaling for everyone to slow down.

My chest seized up when I first entertained the idea that there were horses inside. I think of horses as being so heavy and long-limbed – sturdy when upright but almost absurdly brittle in every other inclination. As I passed, I looked back and saw two brown horses on their sides, one on top of the other. There were two men and a woman talking to the horses and trying to figure out how to get them out safely.

I really hope that the horses are alright. That when they were removed from the trailer that their limbs were whole… that they didn’t bolt into traffic… that they didn’t kick anyone…

Update: Found a tweet that the horses are okay:

“She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.”

Austen, Mansfield Park

Place Names in England

My friend Neil is studying in England right now and has been sending me some great place names:

Stoke Newington, Tooting Bec, Chalk Farm, Heron Quays, Golders Green, Pontoon Dock, Limehouse, Snaresbrook, Harrow & Wealdstone, Tott’ridge and Whetstone, Angel, Chigwell, Crouch End, Neasden, Ickenham, Bromley-by-Bow.

I think it would be really cool to live in “Crouch End.”

Dear Rita: Misheard “Lyrics” in Jane Eyre

I just finished listening to Jane Eyre on audiobook. It was great, and the reader’s English accent was very pleasant. When I finished listening to the book, I immediately thought of looking up literary criticism to find out who Rita is. Throughout the novel, Jane writes, as in a diary, to someone named “Rita” and yet there are no epistolary artifacts – a diary written *to* someone seemed to be an interesting thing to explore. Of course, as I told Ann what I was hoping to research, it dawned on me that “Rita” is “reader!” My train of thought – maybe “Rita” is a pun for “reader” and then, doh…