Friday, December 30, 2005

Confessional Lutheran Bloggers Conference

In just a few short weeks I will attend the first annual Confessional Lutheran Bloggers Conference. I was going to be in the area anyway to attend my sixth symposia. Again this year the wife will be joining me. She thought the topics looked really interesting and will give up a week of vacation to join me. It should be a hoot. The picture in the post is not Fort Wayne in January. It gets a little cool up there in January. Last year we woke up on the second day of the symposia to the local radio personality saying " good morning Fort Wayne, it's nine degrees outside this morning". My wife was not a happy camper. Chick hates the cold!
Just a reminder: The LBC meets the evening before Symposia at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. To be a part of the conference, join the Google Group.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A New Synodical Manual?

I found this little gem at I only wish I had the money to send every elected member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod a copy of this book. Maybe then someone might take notice that fire is a very bad thing.

The review states "A must-have tome for the library of anyone interested in one of the world's most compelling mysteries: the apparent ability of people to become human fireballs. Hotly debated and heatedly denied yet never effectively banished like a cold ember in a fire overhaul, SHC defies common sense -- some would say sanity --".

I agree, Ablaze! definitely defies both common sense and sanity.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My Favorite Present 2005!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My niece Valerie got the Uncle Frank's favorite gift of the year award for 2005! The picture in this post is the tshirt she got me for Christmas. She said she was surfing and found the shirt she knew her uncle had to have. But does this mean she thinks her uncle is just plain disturbed? Well, yes! Thank you Valerie! Love ya a bunch.

Lost Verse For My Favorite Hymn

I found this at Gene Edward Veith's Cranach site. I'll try to get our music director to insert it next year.

Lost verse of a classic carol

You may know the beautiful Christmas hymn "Of the Father's Love Begotten" (though it too is unjustly neglected). But the English translation, as often happen, leaves out a verse. The new "Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary"--an excellent worship book from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)--puts it back in. (HT: hymnwriter Mark Preus)

He was found in human fashion Death and sorrow here to know That the race of Adam's children, Doomed by law to endless woe, May not henceforth die and perish In the depths of hell below. (Evermore and evermore)

I Got My 2005 Christmas Wish!!!

Well, thanks to a great director of music at my church I got my Christmas wish. Our hynm of the day was Of the Father's Love Begotten. I only wish we sang it more than once a year. But as a congregation we sing that which is appropiate to the liturgical season. Our hymnody also reflects the pericope which is read during the Divine Service. This is why we don't sing Christmas hymns until it's actually Christmas. The four weeks leading up to Christmas is a season called Advent for which there are Advent hymns. Its all part of that as we worship we confess thing that drives some people nuts.

But, back to my original point. Our music director, as one of the kids in my Sunday school class would say, is just awesome awesomeness. Now, if someone would only bring back the Latin Mass....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

All I Want For Christmas, 2005

No, it's not world peace and a smile on the face of every child. I could really care less about such nonsense. All I want for Christmas this year is to sing one little hymn, Of the Father's Love Begotten. My church is one of the churches that feels it would be a good use of staff and volunteers to open on Christmas which happens to fall on a Sunday. (see The Purposeless Driven Chuch post for an explanation of that snide comment) This means of course, on Christmas morning I will be singing. My absolute favorite Christmas hymn is Of the Father's Love Begotten. It beautifully restates the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. I just think that the hymns we sing should confess that which we believe. This one says it all! It is the Gospel of our Lord put to music. I once attended a class taught by Kantor Richard Resch on hymnody in which he stated the hymns we sing in our worship should at least rise to the standard of the Psalms. I couldn't agree more.

Of the Father's love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,Of the things that are, that have been,And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!
At His Word the worlds were framed; He commanded; it was done:Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;All that grows beneath the shining Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!
He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,That the race of Adam's children doomed by law to endless woe,May not henceforth die and perishIn the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!
O that birth forever blessed, when the virgin, full of grace,By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!
This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;Now He shines, the long expected,Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!
O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!Let no tongue on earth be silent,Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!
Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,On the Father's throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive;Who at last in vengeance comingSinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!
Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:Let their guileless songs re-echo,And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!
Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:Honor, glory, and dominion,And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

And in Latin...

Corde natus ex parentis ante mundi exordiumA et O cognominatus, ipse fons et clausulaOmnium quae sunt, fuerunt, quaeque post futura sunt.
Ipse iussit et creata, dixit ipse et facta sunt,Terra, caelum, fossa ponti, trina rerum machina,Quaeque in his vigent sub alto solis et lunae globo.
Corporis formam caduci, membra morti obnoxiaInduit, ne gens periret primoplasti ex germine,Merserat quem lex profundo noxialis tartaro.
O beatus ortus ille, virgo cum puerperaEdidit nostram salutem, feta Sancto Spiritu,Et puer redemptor orbis os sacratum protulit.
Psallat altitudo caeli, psallite omnes angeli,Quidquid est virtutis usquam psallat in laudem Dei,Nulla linguarum silescat, vox et omnis consonet.
Ecce, quem vates vetustis concinebant saeculis,Quem prophetarum fideles paginae spoponderant,Emicat promissus olim; cuncta conlaudent eum.
Macte iudex mortuorum, macte rex viventium,Dexter in Parentis arce qui cluis virtutibus,Omnium venturus inde iustus ultor criminum.
Te senes et te iuventus, parvulorum te chorus,Turba matrum, virginumque, simplices puellulae,Voce concordes pudicis perstrepant concentibus.
Tibi, Christe, sit cum Patre hagioque PneumateHymnus, decus, laus perennis, gratiarum actio,Honor, virtus, victoria, regnum aeternaliter.

The Site Logo on Shirts

Yes, the logo for the site is available as an embroidery pattern for all manner of shirts. My vender for shirts is Just Sports down in Greenville, NC. They have just about every shirt and jacket available with the exception of rugby style shirts. But the owner has promised me he will do his best next year to find a vender to sell him rugbys.

Just send me an email and let me know the style, color and size of shirt you want and I make sure it happens. Right now there is a slight delay due to the busy Christmas season. But after the new year things should move quickly.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wrestling The Way To Hell.

Last night on the ABC evening news the wife and I got to see the funniest thing. Well, it would have been funny if it was only a joke, but it was a real story.

In a story that is worthy of the Abaze! program, we got to see a new way to reach out to the unchurched and seeker audiences. Ultimate Christian Wrestling
. That's right, wrestling is the new way to reach out to seekers. Taking their cue from their "secular" cousins these good folks follow story lines that reflect modern morality tales. The various wrestling characters are often tempted to go to the dark side but have to learn and understand their need for salvation and Jesus. The story last night had the wrestlers basically acting out the book of Revelation. This included some being misled to false worship of an anitchrist figure.

Their mission statement states "UCW is an exciting Christian Outreach Ministry that uses Professional Wrestling as a vehicle to minister to the world. UCW is a family oriented company, focused on clean and spiritually educational entertainment. UCW exists to minister the Gospel of Christ to the Lost and to see lost souls saved. UCW is carrying out the Great Commission of our Lord. " I have no doubt that the folks who started this are very well intentioned, really. But why do we as Christians have copy the things of popular culture to reach the unreached?

Now, in fairness, UCW does have a better creedal statement than some churches I've worshiped in. But are the churches, that this entertainment type program goes around to visit, going teach the essential doctrinal truths after the "show" is over. What are the seekers going think when they see a real worship service that doesn't include people getting thrown out of a ring or getting hit over the head with a chair? What will they think when they see the Gospel preached and the sacraments administered? From a secular outsiders point of view the marks of the Church have to look boring since they are not viewed from the eyes of faith.

At the end of the ABC story several people were shown in tears saying the UCW show made them understand their need for Jesus. How about starting with Jesus. Last I checked Saint Paul said he preached Christ crucified not Christ bodyslammed by the masked Satan. I hope that whichever church the event was held at had sense enough to not let people leave without explaining that saving faith is not some kind of show to be turned off when the next latest greatest thing comes along.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Why Christmas Is On December 25.

This is from Gene Edward Veith's site at I had someone today tell me the Church catholic changed the date of Christmas from its original date in the summertime. But this is the same person that believes that the Bible can't possibly be true because it was written by evil men with nefarious intentions. This line of thinking no longer surprises me as it is part of our postmodern thought to question and reject everything while accepting nothing as truth.

Why December 25?
The origin of Christmas had nothing to do with paganism by Gene Edward Veith
According to conventional wisdom, Christmas had its origin in a pagan winter solstice festival, which the church co-opted to promote the new religion. In doing so, many of the old pagan customs crept into the Christian celebration. But this view is apparently a historical myth like the stories of a church council debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or that medieval folks believed the earth is flat often repeated, even in classrooms, but not true.
William J. Tighe, a history professor at Muhlenberg College, gives a different account in his article "Calculating Christmas," published in the December 2003 Touchstone Magazine. He points out that the ancient Roman religions had no winter solstice festival.
True, the Emperor Aurelian, in the five short years of his reign, tried to start one, "The Birth of the Unconquered Sun," on Dec. 25, 274. This festival, marking the time of year when the length of daylight began to increase, was designed to breathe new life into a declining paganism. But Aurelian's new festival was instituted after Christians had already been associating that day with the birth of Christ. According to Mr. Tighe, the Birth of the Unconquered Sun "was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians." Christians were not imitating the pagans. The pagans were imitating the Christians.
The early church tried to ascertain the actual time of Christ's birth. It was all tied up with the second-century controversies over setting the date of Easter, the commemoration of Christ's death and resurrection. That date should have been an easy one. Though Easter is also charged with having its origins in pagan equinox festivals, we know from Scripture that Christ's death was at the time of the Jewish Passover. That time of year is known with precision.
But differences in the Jewish, Greek, and Latin calendars and the inconsistency between lunar and solar date-keeping caused intense debate over when to observe Easter. Another question was whether to fix one date for the Feast of the Resurrection no matter what day it fell on or to ensure that it always fell on Sunday, "the first day of the week," as in the Gospels.
This discussion also had a bearing on fixing the day of Christ's birth. Mr. Tighe, drawing on the in-depth research of Thomas J. Talley's The Origins of the Liturgical Year, cites the ancient Jewish belief (not supported in Scripture) that God appointed for the great prophets an "integral age," meaning that they died on the same day as either their birth or their conception.
Jesus was certainly considered a great prophet, so those church fathers who wanted a Christmas holiday reasoned that He must have been either born or conceived on the same date as the first Easter. There are hints that some Christians originally celebrated the birth of Christ in March or April. But then a consensus arose to celebrate Christ's conception on March 25, as the Feast of the Annunciation, marking when the angel first appeared to Mary.
Note the pro-life point: According to both the ancient Jews and the early Christians, life begins at conception. So if Christ was conceived on March 25, nine months later, he would have been born on Dec. 25.
This celebrates Christ's birth in the darkest time of the year. The Celtic and Germanic tribes, who would be evangelized later, did mark this time in their "Yule" festivals, a frightening season when only the light from the Yule log kept the darkness at bay. Christianity swallowed up that season of depression with the opposite message of joy: "The light [Jesus] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5).Regardless of whether this was Christ's actual birthday, the symbolism works. And Christ's birth is inextricably linked to His resurrection

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Counting Problem.

For those of you not familiar with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the latest greatest evangelism program is named Ablaze!. The mission statement statement is as follows;

LCMS World Mission Purpose Statement Praying to the Lord of the Harvest, LCMS World Mission, in collaboration with its North American and worldwide partners, will share the Good News of Jesus with 100 million unreached or uncommitted people by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

Now, our beloved Synod has set up a counter so that every time one of us tells the the good news to one of the "unchurched", "unreached", or "uncommitted" we can log into the official Ablaze! website and tell everyone about how we are bringing people to Jesus. The Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel would ask at this juncture "who's running the verbs" but that is another post. My priest had a delightful sermon a few weeks ago where he included this little "Nagelism".

Now, less than a month ago, after the Abaze! program had been active for two or three years, the little counter that was set up that registers how many people we tell about Jesus was only at about 116,000. Today that same counter sits 1,532,839. Is it just me or is something seem a little odd here?

I think a couple of things could be going on here. First, maybe the counter was broken to start with. Maybe people tried to register how they brought people to Jesus but were unable properly log in and record their stories. Second, maybe folks are just now telling others how they can be brought to Jesus and are just now recording their stories. This would be nice if we have that particular ability. A third option is that maybe the counter is broke and is showing an incorrect count. I sincerely hope this is not the case as such inflated numbers would only serve to puff us up. But I'm sure everything is on the level here and I'm sure there is a good explanation for this. I'm sure...

Shouldn't The Pope Empty Purgatory and Limbo?

For Laura who responded to an earlier post. Thesis 82 of Luther's 95 thesis is as follows; 82. To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."

It's a shame that the Roman church continues to burden the consciences of it members with the folly of buying themselves or their loved ones way into heaven! I don't care if it is the fortieth anniversary of VaticanII. This doctrine demonstrates that nothing has changed in five hundred years.

Also, from the Smalcald Articles III,
24] Here now the Holy See at Rome, coming to the aid of the poor Church, invented indulgences, whereby it forgave and remitted [expiation or] satisfaction, first, for a single instance, for seven years, for a hundred years and distributed them among the cardinals and bishops, so that one could grant indulgence for a hundred years and another for a hundred days. But he reserved to himself alone the power to remit the entire satisfaction.
25] Now, since this began to yield money, and the traffic in bulls became profitable he devised the golden jubilee year [a truly gold-bearing year], and fixed it at Rome. He called this the remission of all punishment and guilt. Then the people came running, because every one would fain have been freed from this grievous, unbearable burden. This meant to find [dig up] and raise the treasures of the earth. Immediately the Pope pressed still further, and multiplied the golden years one upon another. But the more he devoured money, the wider grew his maw.
Later, therefore, he issued them [those golden years of his] by his legates [everywhere] to the countries, until all churches and houses were full of the Golden Year. 26] At last he also made an inroad into purgatory among the dead, first, by founding masses and vigils, afterwards, by indulgences and the Golden Year, and finally souls became so cheap that he released one for a nickle.

Dr. Luther wrote this as part of his last will and testament back in 1537 to insure that no one could take his positions on Rome, or anything else for that matter, out of context. The more things change....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

An Option For The Unsaved.

I first saw this at Paul McCain's site. With an earlier post I lamented the fact that the Roman church was doing away with limbo because it took away one of my options for the afterlife. But leave it the Romans... even the unchurched and the unsaved can now be saved. Yeah! But the question still remains, if they were wrong about limbo isn't it within the realm of possibility that they are wrong about the doctrine of justification?
Date: 2005-11-30
Nonbelievers Too Can Be Saved, Says Pope
Refers to St. Augustine's Commentary on Psalm 136(137)
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 ( Whoever seeks peace and the good of the community with a pure conscience, and keeps alive the desire for the transcendent, will be saved even if he lacks biblical faith, says Benedict XVI. The Pope made this affirmation today at the general audience, commenting on a meditation written by St. Augustine (354-430). On a rainy morning in Rome, the Holy Father's meditation, addressed to more than 23,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square, concentrated on the suffering of the Jewish people in the Babylonian exile, expressed dramatically in Psalm 136(137). The Pontiff referred to Augustine's commentary on this composition of the Jewish people, noting that this "Father of the Church introduces a surprising element of great timeliness." Augustine "knows that also among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire," Benedict XVI stated. "They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption," explained the Pope, quoting Augustine. This spark "And he says that among the persecutors, among the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live," the Holy Father continued. "With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ," he clarified. Continuing with his quotes from Augustine, the Pope added that "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not seek pride, outdated pomp and arrogance." The Bishop of Rome concluded by inviting those present to pray to the Lord "that he will awaken in all of us this desire, this openness to God, and that those who do not know God may also be touched by his love, so that all of us journey together toward the definitive City and that the light of this City might also shine in our time and in our world."

A Cold Place in Hell, I Hope!

I ran across this at Bunnie Diehl's site this morning. Boy, I really really hope there is a cold level in hell for people like this!

Think you've heard it all when it comes to the war on Christmas? Not if you haven't heard what a Wisconsin public school has done to "Silent Night."
The powers that be at Ridgeway Elementary, it seems, were so offended by the lyrics to the song, which detail the miracle of Christ's birth, that they rewrote them. The version to be performed by children during this year's "winter program" is called "Cold in the Night" and goes something like this:
"Cold in the night, no one in sight/winter winds whirl and bite/How I wish I were happy and warm/safe with my family, out of the storm."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Purposeless Driven "Church"

Fox News reported today that a number of mega "churches" will not be celebrating Christmas because it just so happens to fall on Sunday.
Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.

"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" she said.
Among the other megachurches closing on Christmas Day are Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, Ky., near Lexington, and Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside of Dallas. North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta, said on its Web site that no services will be held on Christmas Day or New Year's Day, which also falls on a Sunday. A spokesman for North Point did not respond to requests for comment.

The purpose of the Church is preach the Gospel purely and administer the Sacraments rightly. So it should be crystal clear that these folks are not a church if coming to a church, on Christmas which happens to fall on Sunday, is an ineffective use of their staff and volunteers. I remember one winter my priest held services even though there were only six of us there because of bad weather! Imagine that, two or more were gathered in the name of Christ and we were the Church. When the marks of the church are absent all that can be left is evil. It's a good thing that Christ didn't look toward Jerusalem and the cross and say "well, I just feel like sleeping in just feels like a Christmas morning". In fact Peter was rebuked harshly for telling Christ he would not have to suffer the cross. Christ reponds to both Peter and us today "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."Mark 8:33. These yahoos are definitly not mindful of the things of God. If they don't want to preach the Gospel purely and administer the Sacraments rightly they should find new employment. Like something that doesn't lead people to perdition, where ever the hell perdition is. These mega "churches" as Bunnie Diehl said earlier this week are just plain evil! Eeeeevil!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Funny Stuff.....

From Blogger Jeremy Abel who uses a little truth to poke fun at us Lutherans.

A Brief Lexicon of Lutheran Terminology for the Unlearned
Predestination: What do you think I am, some kind of Calvinist?
Law: Everything that I don't have to do because I'm baptized.
Gospel: The unconditional pronouncement of the forgiveness of sins.
Repent: That thing I never have to do because of the Gospel.
Believe: That other thing I never have to do because of my baptism.
Baptism: A sacrament for only babies that guarantees their salvation after they grow up and quit attending church.
Conversion: When a baby gets baptized. Adults are never converted.
Evangelism: My pastor's job. That's why adults are never converted.
Catechism: Doctrines that I don't know, but my pastor is supposed to teach my kids.
Confirmation: The wonderful day on which a 13-year-old is allowed to receive the Lord's Supper for the first and last time.
Book of Concord: The comprehensive book of everything my pastor believes.
Liturgy: The order of service, which my children are supposed to miraculously learn by playing with toys during the worship hour.
Pietism: The belief that Christians ought to care about obeying God.
Pietist: Anyone more scrupulous about obeying God than me.
Good Works: What makes the Pietists stand out from the real Lutherans. Only done for the purpose of earning one's salvation.
Legalism: Making me feel guilty or obligated to exercise moral discipline.
Papist: Anyone who foolishly believes that the pope speaks with God's infallible voice.
Martin Luther: 16th-century Reformer who spoke with God's infallible voice.
The Bible: A collection of holy books consisting of Genesis 1 and 2, the Ten
Commandments, the four Gospels, and the book of Galatians.
Old Testament: A collection of books that Jews and Calvinists teach their children.
"The Bible is a book for heretics": Common erroneous saying of 16th-century papists.
Revelation: A book for heretics.
Church Discipline: Not a mark of the Church, therefore not required for or practiced by Lutheran churches. We hear that the Pietists are all into it, though.
Pastor: The guy who is responsible for teaching the faith to my children, preaching the Gospel to my neighbor, making our church grow, and making me feel good about myself.
Adiophora: Anything that is left free by Scripture, such as church government.
Episcopal polity: A forbidden form of church government, since Catholics do it.
Presbyterian polity: Another forbidden form of government, since Calvinists do it.
Congregational polity: The only acceptable form of government, since Walther instituted it.
Faith: The belief that what I do is irrelevant to my salvation.
Justification: A legal status of righteousness before God that is achieved by continually reminding one's self that God doesn't care what you do.

Running Out of Options!

I'm really running out of options here. If the Romans take away limbo can purgatory be far behind?
Pope Benedict XVI (aka Joseph Ratzinger) is shaking things up over in Vatican City. After a brief honeymoon of settling into his new digs, the new pope has started to flex some papal muscle, putting the kabash on homosexual priests and putting Limbo in limbo. The old 13th century teaching that tidies up the unhappy question "What happens to unbaptized babies who die?" seems to have fallen by the theological wayside if not into the ditch of obscurity. "Limbo has never been a defined truth of faith," then Cardinal Ratzinger said back in 1984 when John Paul II asked him about it. "Personally, speaking as a theologian and not as head of the Congregation, I would drop something that has always been only a theological hypothesis." Apparantly, the pope's considering dumping the old teaching that unbaptized babies join the patriarchs and prophets of OT Israel in "limbo" where "they do not enjoy God, but they do not suffer either, because having original sin, and only that, they do not deserve paradise, but neither hell or purgatory." (Now is that good news or bad news, and why can't I seem to tell the difference?)This seems to be Rome's way of reformation. Let's pretend we never said it. Now if they could get around to doing that with the Council of Trent, they might be on to something. Remember Martin Luther at Worms in 1521: "I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God."Now let's see.... If the Roman Church has been wrong about Limbo for seven or so centuries, do you suppose it might have been wrong about some other stuff too? Like justification?