Friday, February 13, 2015

Ha! Ha! (Book review)

Ha! Ha! Among the TrumpetsHa! Ha! Among the Trumpets by Martin H. Franzmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has earned a home among my bedside pile of favorite books of all time.

It will be one I take down often to revisit the powerful, meaty, sasisfying Biblical theology within. I feel like I have found a new best friend!


Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets
(Martin H. Franzmann, author of Thy Strong Word)

The trumpet of God has sounded--one long, sonorous arabesque of sound which broke upon the midnight air when the angels brought good tidings of great joy to shepherds, and all the hosts of heaven made melody when the glory of the Lord shone round about them, a trumpet call that rose with a swell and a surge as of the sound of many waters to rend the veil of the temple and to shake the earth to open all men’s graces, when our Lord was crucified and rose again. And that trumpet call is for us: “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This trumpet call bids you snuff that Easter air, that air from which our Lord, upon the cross, as swept away all the dank and poisonous vapors of sin, all the miasma of mortality; it beds you scent that eternal air, and stamp that Easter-cloven ground, and to stand in triumph on your graves, and to cry Ha! Ha! (5)

“There is no instant victory here. nothing quick and nothing easy; we cannot just add water and serve. This is blood and sweat and tears. And it goes on as long as this world stands. but we shall learn who our enemy is, and that one will word can stop him. We shall learn who our Lord is, we all learn what our armor is. Our “Get thee gone, Satan!” may be weak and squeaky at first, but we shall learn to speak it with increasing strength. We speak it and ---strange!---in the midst of tumult and shouting and conflict the peace of God which passeth all understanding is ours even there, just there. Amen. (19)

How much need does God have for roundness? Perhaps He can use a few monomaniacs, with jagged edges. how much time is there, let us ask ourselves, for gewgaws, for gimcracks, for all manner of tiddlywinks? We are in God’s last chapter. We are walking between contracting walls of time, and anybody who bears a pack of peripheries is walking down that corridor at his peril We are in God’s last chapter, and nobody knows how close the last sentence (and a sentence it will be) of that chapter is. how much room is there on that page for irrelevant footnotes? (28)

So we are funny-looking figures too, who who inherit John the Baptist's mouth, finger, and voice, as Luther put it. We are odd, misplaced-looking fellows, a curious sort of gentry, as we catch sight of our reflection in the shop windows of the world. Well, who cares? Who cares? So nobody who is anybody thinks we are somebody. Who cares? --- There was somebody who cared, and somebody who cares, if we will enter upon the heritage of John the Baptist, if we will take up John’s finger, John’s mouth, and John’s voice and cry, “Repent!” and point to Christ and call him Lord. (29)

“The cross marks the spot where the disciples failed, and it marks the spot where we all, we theologians, too, must fail. The cross marks the spot where the exegete ceases to be proud of his exegetical niceties, is shaken out of his scholarly serenity, and cries out for his life in terms of the first Beatitude. The cross marks the spot where the systematician sees his system as the instrument which focuses his failure; where the practical theologian realizes that there is only one practical thing to do, and that is to repent and abhor himself in dust and ashes; where the historian leaves his long and sanely balanced view of things and goes desperately mad. The cross marks the spot where we all become beggars--and God becomes King. Amen. (45)


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