Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Reading List.

Here's my annual reading list. Bear in mind that most of the histories on here were books on tape. I count them because all are unabridged (I don't listen to things which are abridged) and because I have a very good auditory memory. In fact, if I could listen to everything on tape I probably would, since I retain it better (I have never taken notes in any of my courses- it interferes with my memory of the lectures). This also explains how I get through so much material every year. I'm listen to a history or novel while I read a regular theology book. I also operate with the proviso that any spare moment is a moment when I should be reading. I learned this technique for getting through large amounts of material while writing my M.A. thesis and it has served my intellectual development well.

BTW, I would invite you to add your own list.

1. Atheist Delusions- David Bentley Hart
2. On Christ- Johann Gerhard
3. The History of the Suffering and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ- Johann Gerhard
4. I Buried My Heart At Wounded Knee- Dee Brown
5. The Godless Church of Liberalism- Anne Coulter
6. Slander- Anne Coulter
7. The Complete Timotheus Verinus- Valentine Loescher
8. Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, Vol. 1- Adolf Hoenecke
9.Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, Vol. 2- Adolf Hoenecke
10.Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, Vol. 3- Adolf Hoenecke
11. Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, Vol. 4- Adolf Hoenecke
12. The Sentences: Book 1- Peter Lombard
13.The Sentences: Book 2- Peter Lombard
14. The Sentences: Book 3- Peter Lombard
15. The Sentences: Book 4- Peter Lombard
16. Luther and the Beloved Community- Paul Hinlicky
17. Paths Not Taken- Paul Hinlicky
18. The Theology of Martin Luther: Its Historical and Systematic Development, vol. 1- Julius Kostlin
19. The Theology of Martin Luther: Its Historical and Systematic Development, vol. 2- Julius Kostlin
20. The Christian Faith- Werner Elert
21. Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith- Robert Kolb
22. Luther: Right or Wrong?- Harry McSoreley
23. The Dawn of the Reformation- Heiko Oberman
24. The Impact of the Reformation- Heiko Oberman
25. The Two Reformations- Heiko Oberman
26. Luther as Nominalist- Graham White.
27. Creation and Redemption- Regin Prenter
28. A Father Who Keeps His Promises- Scott Hahn
29. Kinship By Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises- Scott Hahn
30. The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament- K. A. Kitchener
31. The Protestant Reformation: The Birth of a Revolution- Steven Ozment
32. Commentary on the Last Words of David- Martin Luther
33. Commentary on Song of Songs- Martin Luther
34. Commentary on Ecclesiastes- Martin Luther
35. Commentary on Genesis, vol. 2- Martin Luther
36. Commentary on Genesis, vol. 3- Martin Luther
37. Commentary on Gensis, vol. 4- Martin Luther
38. The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War- Jim Mann
39. Liberal Fascism- Jonah Goldberg
40. God's Battalions: A Defense of the Crusades- Rodney Stark
41. The Politician: The Rise and Fall of John Edwards- Andrew Young
42. Game Change: The 2008 Election- John Heiliemann
43. 1776- David McCollough
44. The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945- Michael Beschloss
45. The Sociopath Next Door- Martha Stout
46. Luther and Islam: A Study in Sixteenth Century Polemics and Apologetics- Adam Francisco
47. Doctrine is Life: On Scripture- Robert Preus
48. Doctrine is Life: Justification and the Lutheran Confessions- Robert Preus
49. The Principles of Catholic Theology- Joseph Ratzinger
50. Introduction to Christianity- Joseph Ratzinger.
51. The Glory of the Lord: vol. 5- Hans Urs von Balthasar
52. The Glory of the Lord: vol. 6- Hans Urs von Balthasar
53. The Glory of the Lord: vol. 7- Hans Urs von Balthasar
54. The Erlangen Theology- Lowell Green
55. Savage Kingdom: The Establishment of Jamestown- Benjamin Woolley
56. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for God- Francis Collins
57. The Evolution of God- Robert Wright
58. The Faith- Charles Colson
59. Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution- T. J. English
60. Luther and the Scriptures- Michael Reu
61. Hermeneutica Sacra- Johann Konrad Danhauer
62. The Clavis Scripturum- Matthias Flacius
63. A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East- Patrick Tyler
64. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq- Thomas Ricks
65. The Harmony of the Four Evangelists: Vol. 1- Martin Chemnitz, Johann Gerhard, and Polycarp Lesyer.
66. The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot- Russell Kirk
67. The New Testament in His Blood- Burnell Eckhardt
68. The Lost History of Christianity- Philip Jenkins
69. Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement.- Irene Spencer
70. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt- Anne Rice
71. Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana- Anne Rice
72. The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afganistan- Gregory Feifer
73. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War- Nathaniel Philbrick
74. Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins- Richard Muller
75. After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition- Richard Muller
76. God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius- Richard Muller
77. 1968- Mark Kurlansky
78. Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to Questions Everyone is Asking- Darrell Bock.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Calvin the Aristotetlian?

I'm in the midst grading and also reading Richard Muller's Christ and the Decree, on the interrelationship between Christology and election in early Reformed thought. One of the more interesting point (and one that Muller has brought up before in his published works) is that Calvin has a fundamentally Aristotelian understanding of divine causation. As an interesting illustration of this, I recall that at the beginning of the commentary of Ezekiel, Calvin claims that the wheels and beasts that the Prophets see around the chariot of the divine kavod are in fact an image of the movement of the casual structure of the universe-bigger things move smaller things until we get to the biggest thing- the unmoved, mover of Aristotle, i.e. the Biblical God.

One interesting thing about this Aristotelian concept of causation is that it distinguishes Calvin's concept of predestination from that of Aquinas (ironically!), Augustine, and most of the other Reformed folks who wrote on the subject in the 16th century (Calvin's lieutenant Theodore De Beza is an exception). For the most part, these folks tend to think of reprobation as something passively permitted by God. In other words, since the human race is a "mass of perdition" (to use Augustine's phrase) left to its own devices it will do itself in. No need for a decree of reprobation. Humans will simply throw themselves off the cliff- no need for God to push them and then jump up and down on their fingers until they finally fall off.

Interestingly enough, this makes for a sort of consensus on the issue of election in the 16th century between the Reformed, Lutherans, and Thomists. The Lutherans would of course also want to say that paradoxically God seriously intends the salvation of the lost (whereas Reformed and Thomists would not), though God's predestination is the sole cause of salvation- whereas the Thomists would like to emphasize the agency of the human will in the process of conversion, although they would agree without divine grace humans could do nothing. At the end of the day, they would probably all agree that God 1. Foresees the fall, he doesn't cause it 2. He saves a certain number by predestination 3. The damned damn themselves by their own choices.

By contrast, Calvin and Beza are much, much more keen on the idea that God is out to get people and that there is no such thing as God's permissive will. According to Calvin, everything actively willed by God and there's no denying this. Muller notes the Aristotelian influence here. That is to say, if God is the mover of all that is moved (Aritotle's "unmoved, mover"), there no permissive will or meaningful secondary causes. God would have to be the active mover of every cause, and there is no permissive or passive willing in God.

Would not Luther agree with this? To an extent. But Luther would likely also endorse the idea (paradoxically) that God cannot be the cause of evil, whereas Calvin and Beza are all too happy to go down the road of Zwingli and think that God is the author of the Fall- though it should be born in mind that for Calvin, although God decree the Fall, he did not some how bring about that decree by the "necessity of compulsion." Also, in all fairness to Beza and Calvin, they are somewhat more guarded about this in their rhetoric than Zwingli. Nevertheless, its hard to see how they aren't endorsing Zwingli's position in "On Divine Providence", where he argues that God is quite literally the author of sin.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Director of Robocop is a member of the Jesus Seminar


Here's his book on the historical Jesus:

Apparently he's also going to make a movie about Jesus.

Hopefully he will bring all the gravitas that he brought to Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Starship Troops to his treatment of the life of the central figure of human history.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Hiddenness of Revelation

More from chapter five.

Christ's agency in the prophecy of the Old and New Testaments is an act of kenosis, since it means self-subjection to a promise.  As we have previously observed, the process of kenosis begins in the Old Testament with the protevanglium.  Christ is present and active in the promise in the Garden of Eden of the savior and in the condemnation of Adam and Eve.  From the beginning then the Word of God is both law and gospel.  Since every promise of God to humans after the Fall also assumes their condemnation and fallenness, every act of grace and self-donation is necessarily concealed under a corresponding act of judgment.  The self-surrendering promise of the savior accessible to hearing is then concealed under Adam and Eve's actual visible situation of exile from the Garden of Eden. 

This dissonance between sight and hearing continues and deepens in the later history of salvation.  As Paul observed regarding Abraham: "He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb" (Rom 4:19).  In the later history of Israel itself, the dissonance takes the form of primarily of the tension between the visible judgment of YHWH based on the Sinaitic covenant in the form of exile, with the corresponding continued audibly accessible assertion by prophets of the promise of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.  This tension is simply a continuation and a deepening of the original tension between the law and the gospel proclaimed to Adam and Eve. 

With each manifestation of divine judgment, Israel entered deeper and deeper into the judgment of the exile.  In each temporal judgment, God manifests in greater and greater degrees his fidelity to his word of law against the ever increasing manifestation of human sin. With increasing judgment, Israel simultaneously received greater and greater promises of restoration from the prophets.  This is not to say (for example) that Isaiah prophesied anything that was not already implicitly present in the promise Adam and Eve, Abraham and Jacob.  Rather, the promises of redemption became more and more definite and concrete.  For example, Isaiah 53 is far more exact in its prophecy of redemption through Christ than is Genesis 3:15, but not less reflection of the same reality: ". . . you shall bruise his heel" (Gen 3:15), ". . . with his stripes we are healed" (Isa 53:5).  Nevertheless, the greater and more exact the promises, the greater the disparity between vision and the promise became, as Israel enter into the Babylonian exile and was removed from the land. 

Finally, the promise of the prophetic works of the exile (Ezekiel and Daniel) was that the end to cosmic exile was dawning and God's kingdom would finally be established (Ezek 37-48, Daniel 2, 7, 12).  As we have already noted, this took the form of ultimate eschatological resolution: eternal exile (in hell) and the promise of eternal restoration (in the kingdom of God).  All the promises of protevanglium would come true: sin would be judged, the dead would be restored to life and YHWH would return in person.  In this, a final climax of history, God’s faithfulness to his Word as law and gospel would come about. 

Jesus entered into the midst of Judaism's apocalyptic anticipation of its final restoration.[1]  He claimed within his ministry that he had come to announce and bring about the kingdom of God and the final end to exile.  Having entered into total solidarity with suffering Israel and humanity under the law, Christ represents the ultimate fulfillment of promise and therefore the climax of dissonance between hearing and vision.  Only in this manner could he end all the pretensions of humanity and establish them in true receptivity to the Word of God.  It is for this reason that he only elects the poor and the morally degenerate.  He is the mighty and righteous one hidden the midst of sin and weakness. 

The dissonance between visible manifestation and audible promise does not merely characterize Jesus' ministry among the outcastes, but is present at every stage of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.  Beginning with his birth to the Virgin Mary, Jesus gives the appearance even to his earthly father of being conceived in a morally impure manner (Mt 1:19).  Nevertheless, Joseph is given a promise of Mary’s purity and Jesus’ messianic identity through the word and promise of angel in his dream.  In being baptized with those confessing their sins, he is attested by his Father’s voice from heaven that he is not a sinner (contrary to appearance), but a "beloved Son" and is given the Holy Spirit hidden in the form of a dove.  In the Transfiguration, his true identity is revealed and attested by the law and prophets (represented by Moses and Elijah), but he immediately tells those in his inner circle to “tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mk 9:9).  Even faced with the direct revelation of his glory, the apostolic witness must remain veiled.  When the Transfiguration is revealed, it is made manifest like the earlier revelations with a word and witness, and therefore not an immediate vision of his glory.  Before the Sanhedrin, Jesus claims that he is himself is God, in that he claims that in being vindicated he will ultimately share in YHWH’s glory cloud and throne (Mk 14:62).[2]  He is charged in both the Synoptic (Mt 26:65, Mk 16:64) and Johannine (Jn 10:33, 19:7) with blasphemy because of his claims regarding his own divinity.  To vision, he is the greatest sinner.  Whereas Adam merely wished to be God and grasped at divinity, Jesus directly claims to be him.  Nevertheless, Jesus' appearance as a blasphemer stands in contradiction to reality, which is revealed audibly in his own self-testimony and that of the prophets.  Rather than being a human being who is exalting himself, he is God lowering himself in a kenotic act of self-donation.  Rather than being one who grasps at divinity (Phil 2:6), he is the midst his disciples as “one who serves” (Lk 22:26). 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Battle of the Incarnate Logos.

More from chapter five.

Luther's emphasis on the battle with Satan ultimately being a battle of two words (God and Satan's) is in many respects a novel understanding of the activity of Satan in the history Christian thought.[1]  Although the Patristic theologians rightly took the Devil very seriously, they did not comprehend the real source of Satan's power in his corruption of and opposition to the Word.  For many of the Church Fathers (particularly those we examined above), the Devil was a malevolent force to be overpowered (Irenaeus, Athanasius) or tricked (Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, etc.) by a still more powerful or crafty supreme deity.  Despite the element of biblical truth in their accounts, this often led to their descriptions of the work of Christ to become grotesquely mythological.[2]  Similarly, many theories of penal satisfaction (at least as we have observed them in Anselm) make the Devil the catalyst of the need for satisfaction, but little more.  The defeat of the Devil sideshow to the main event of satisfaction.  Hence, there is often a lack of emphasis on Christ ratification of his testament through his death and resurrection, and its significance for the defeat of the Devil.  Lastly, theories of moral influence have moved even farther away from the biblical concept of Satan.  For this group of thinkers, bondage to the Devil eliminates the possibility of moral influence, because an enslaved person cannot be influenced to change their state of bondage.  As a result, the concept of Satan becomes either superfluous or detrimental to human moral agency. 

 In Luther we find that the nature of the Devil and his false mediation become properly defined.  For the Reformer, God is not only opposes the Devil, but the Devil also functions as a mask of God’s own wrath.  This is the case because the "the whole creation is a face or mask of God."[3]  Satan distorts the Word of God[4] and holds humans in his bondage.[5]  Human belief in Satan's false word incurs God's wrath, while bondage to Satan is a manifestation of this very same wrath.  There is a great deal of biblical support for the view that Satan's power comes from his ability to rule over humans because of their sin.  He is often pictured as an accuser in the heavenly court (Jb 1:6-8, 2:1-7; Zech. 3:1-10; Rev. 12:10). In fact, the word "Satan" can mean "adversary" or even "accuser" in the original Hebrew.[6]  In effect, the Bible pictures Satan as God's enemy who nonetheless maintains his power because of God's wrath against sin.

Standing in Luther's tradition, we may say that although God is just and faithful, unbelief in his graciousness only becomes reinforced in sinful humans because they perceive his law and wrath (Rom 1:18-32) and as a result stand in self-justifying opposition to it (6:7-25). Because of this humans only become more and more ensnared in the power of Satan's false word, because they perceive God in his wrath as untrustworthy.  Therefore, God’s war against the Devil is both a war against his own activity as wrath, as well as human unbelief.  Fulfilling the law, Christ's Word of the gospel undoes God's own wrath and therefore his permissive will to allow the Devil to function as the "god of this world" (2 Cor 4:4).  This is why Jesus' healing miracles and exorcisms (i.e. acts of opposition to the manifestations of the reign of Satan) are always preceded by the forgiveness of sins.  Through the forgiveness of sins, God both defeats the power of Satan and overcomes human unbelief.  God does not wish to have a wrathful relationship with humanity, but rather one of grace and self-donation, wherein humans assume the role of receivers of all his goodness.  By defeating the Devil, God in Christ reestablishes himself as a gracious giver and humans as grateful receivers of his goodness.

This view of the history of salvation as a mirabile duellum between the word of Christ's grace and the power of Satan is dramatized well in Luther's most famous hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God (1527/1528?).  The hymn pictures the Devil overpowering God’s creation: “The old knavish foe/He means earnest now/ Force and cunning slay His horrid policy/ On earth there's nothing like him.”[7]  In order to prevail, Christ must utterly donate himself to human beings by entering into the battlefield of creation himself: “Ask'st though who is this?/ Jesus Christ it is/Lord of Host alone,/ And God but him is none/ So he must win the battle.”[8]  How does Luther describe Satan's defeat?  He does not describe the crucifixion and resurrection, as he does in other hymns such as Dear Christians One and All Rejoice[9] or Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands.[10]  Rather, without excluding the work of sacrificial atonement as a necessary basis, he emphasizes in this hymn Christ's prophetic Word of grace as the thing that ultimately undoes Satan: “Let him [Satan] rage his worst/ No hurt brings about/ His doom it is gone out/ One word can overturn him./ The word they shall allow to stand.”[11]  God's omnipotent Word of grace cannot be overturned.  It is the very thing that overthrows the Devil's rule.  Indeed, even if "the world with devils swarm” and take “life/ Wealth, name, child and wife”[12] the divine promise of grace cannot be abrogated.  God by his omnipotent Word has promised believers the kingdom of his glory: “Let everything go/ They have no profit so/ The kingdom ours remaineth.”[13]  In the end, all Christians are heirs of the kingdom and become "lords of all."  They thereby reestablished in their proper role as receivers of all of God's goodness.  In the same manner, God reestablishes his relationship with humans as one of self-donation by entering into the field of battle with Satan.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Julian Assange and the "Impossible Heresy"

As many of you have probably read by now (it's all over the Internet) Julan Assange has been arrested. He's not been arrested on espionage charges (though those are likely coming in the US at least), but rather because of a sexual assault. Nevertheless, it must be born in mind that this is not a sexual assault in the sense that we use the term in Britain or the US. Rather, under Swedish law the concept of sexual assault is very broad indeed. It can apparently mean in this context that the woman felt the experience of sex is not something she liked or wanted after the fact or in the midst of it (one woman is apparently complaining that he didn't wear a condom, though she agreed to have unprotected sex with him anyways. The other feels (although she cannot prove it) that he "sabotaged" his condom while having sex with her and there made it break). This apparently need not be verbalized. Neither must there be coercion involved.

This brings us to our point. I think this case illustrates what Gerhard Forde referred to as the "impossible heresy," that is, antinomianism. Julian Assange is a neo-anarchist believes that there is no objective morality. He apparently doesn't even really believe in the legitimacy of governmental power (though that logically follows, people are often not consistent about these things). But the law has come back to bite him whether he rejected it or not.

Here's how I see it. Back in the day, people believed sex outside of marriage was wrong. This would of course include rape, but a bunch of other things to. Then people decided that God's law didn't matter. The highest good was personal satisfaction and autonomy, so people should just be able to act on their impulses. The result? Because personal autonomy and personal satisfaction are the highest good, it becomes the new ideal and the new law. Hence, sexual behavior didn't now become free and unimpeded, rather it simply submitted to the new law. Hence, if Julian Assange doesn't wear a condom (which is actually what's he's being charged with) and it undermines the personal satisfaction and happiness of the woman involved (even though in this case, she apparently agree to engage in sexual intercourse with him anyways) then he's guilty against the law of personal fulfillment and satisfaction.

There is no escaping the law this side of death for the external person. Eliminate God's commandments, and you'll only make up new self-chosen works. These will inevitably accuse and threaten you as much as the real commandments. For the inner person, the only way the law can end is in Jesus and the freedom of the gospel he gives. Only then do we have the real freedom that does not involve rejecting the law, but its fulfillment on our behalf in Christ.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Handel the Exegete.

On Saturday my wife and I attended Handel's Messiah at Calvin College's (my wife's alma mater) new "Covenant Fine Arts Center." It was very well done, though of course out of my loyalty to Luther College, I have to say that it wasn't as good as the performance that I attended in college (bear in mind of course that Luther is a huge music school- we had 12 choirs and we continue to have a yearly PBS special).

After the performance, my wife made the insightful observation that Handel uses virtually no New Testament texts throughout most of the piece. Granted towards the end you get texts from 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20, but mostly it's the OT prophets throughout.

I think this speaks to Handel's keen understanding of prophecy and commitment to biblical realism. The texts he strings together from the prophets aren't really inappropriately used either. Rather, he finds messianic texts that anticipate the coming of Christ and its revelation of absolute judgment and grace. He then strings together texts that anticipate the healing and offer of grace that Christ brings about. Then he moves on to texts of humiliation and crucifixion, and finally to vindication and the universal dominion.

This is all very brilliantly executed and shows that the pattern established in the OT of humiliation followed by vindication and glorification finds fulfillment in Jesus in the NT. From this we find that Handel is not only a great composer, but also a great exegete.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christ's Fulfillment of Sacrifice: The Confirmation of a Testament.

More from the book.

This brings us to the final aspect of Christ's fulfillment of all sacrifice: His death confirms and enacts a testament.  It is no accident that Jesus offered himself up on Golgotha which is a hillock in the vicinity of Mt. Moriah where both the Abrahmic (Gen 22) and the Davidic (2 Sam 24) covenants were confirmed by sacrifice. Both acts of sacrifice prefigured Christ in different ways.  In the first case, a father offered up his only son, whereas in the second a king offered himself up for the salvation of his people.  Jesus is both the true Son of the Father and the true king of Israel.  Also, in both cases, a substitute saved the originally intended victim.  Christ fulfilled all these types in his substitutionary sacrifice on the altar of the cross.  By his death he also fulfills the promises of universal dominion to a son of David and of universal blessing to all nations present in both the Abrahmic and Davidic covenants, which themselves are restatements and continuations of the protevangelium.  The new testament of forgiveness could not come about except for Christ's substitutionary death.  As book of Revelation makes clear, it is only because of his death that the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (1 Pt 1:18-20, Rev 13:8) is worthy to open the book of the testament (Rev 5:4-11).  We find a similar witness in Paul (Gal 4:15).  The author of Hebrews agrees and writes: "For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive"(Heb 9:17).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seriously? The RCC Catechism's Blantant Misuse of 1 Peter 4:6

I'm almost done with my Christology book and I'm dealing with the "descent into hell" right now. I was contrasting the Lutheran understanding with medieval/patristic/RCC position. They advocate a view which is a bit cartoonish in my understanding.

Their idea is that before Jesus showed up, no one could go to heaven. This is obviously untrue in light of Genesis 15 and Romans 4, as well as Peter and Revelation's description of Jesus as "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Obviously God's foreknowledge, as well as heaven and hell are outside of time and space, so why would Jesus have to die in historical time before we reap the benefits?

Anyways, because no one could go to heaven, Adam, Noah, and Abraham had to be held in a place called "Limbo of the Fathers"- which until the 1930s or so, they believed was literally at the center of the earth. While Jesus was dead on holy Saturday, he descended to them, and broke down the door and then took them all to heaven. This is referred to as the "Harrowing of Hell."

Again, the 1 Peter 3:18-22 is quite clear that it was the damned who Jesus preached to- namely all those nasty people who got killed during the flood (among others). There's nothing about Jesus helping the righteous of the OT get to heaven.

To validate this view I discovered that the RCC catechism totally misuses 1 Peter 4:6 "the gospel has been preached to the dead"- in other words, the dead of the OT heard the good news of the gospel and then got to go to heaven. But read the context! It's referring to the spiritually dead. The passage is very, very clearly talking about the Church practice of preaching to all people, even the spiritually dead. It doesn't even mention Jesus once or his descent to hell. It's really unbelievable that they would be this brazen.

Another interesting surprise: I was looking around elsewhere and when they discuss purgatory and practice of saying Masses for the dead, guess what Biblical verses they use to justify the practice? 2 Maccabees. Who also used this exegetical argument? Eck during the Leipzig debate against Luther!

Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same!