Woodbridge Releases Hitler in the Crosshairs at Downtown Celebration

Dr. John Woodbridge and co-author Maurice Possley introduced their book, Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI’s Story of  Courage and Faith to a packed audience at the Pritzker Military Library in downtown Chicago last night. The book tells the story of Ira “Teen” Palm, a soldier who’s attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in the waning days of World War II could have cost him his life but instead resulted in the dictator’s golden pistol finding a home in Woodbridge’s house when he was a boy. In addition to the riveting narrative, Hitler in the Crosshairs reveals untold and little known details about the final days of WWII.

Woodbridge told the audience that he was watching the news one night when the ticker scrolled a note about Hitler’s golden pistol. Immediately Woodbridge recalled his dad owning a golden handgun that he claimed to have been Adolf Hitler’s. “How did my dad get Hitler’s gun?” Woodbridge wondered. After calling friends and family, he confirmed that indeed his father, pastor of a Presbyterian church, had owned the golden pistol and that a GI named Teen Palm had given it to him. Thanks to his wife’s memory of a meeting with Palm’s daughter, Woodbridge tracked down the GI’s letters from the final days of WWII and learned how this unassuming man–nicknamed “Teeny” as a baby because he was so small–tried to kill the murderer of millions.

As the Allied armies worked their way across France and Germany, the Nazi war machine was falling apart. But military officials knew that the war wouldn’t be over, no matter how much territory they controlled, until Hitler was dead or captured. The military had intelligence that Hitler may have fled Berlin. Fearing that he would hole up in the Alps, where he might be impossible to dislodge, Teen Palm and a handful of others attempted to intercept Hitler in his Munich apartment before he could escape to the mountains.


He was aided in this effort by a group of what Woodbridge calls, good Germans. These Nazi solders were actively working to overthrow the regime, and launched a revolt in Munich and the surrounding areas. This part of the story is little known today, even in Germany, says Woodbridge. This insurrection allowed Palm and his team to work theirway into the city. They burst into Adolf Hitler’s apartment with Palm leading the way. The rooms were empty except for a few souvenirs, including the golden pistol.

After the war and back in the US, Palm gave John Woodbridge’s father the gun as well as gold-lettered stationary. It was all eventually stollen from the family’s house. Woodbridge suggests his father’s showing off the gun probably attracted too much attention.  The whereabouts of the pistol are now unknown, presumed to be in the hands of a private gun collector/dealer. In the 1980’s it sold for $140,000 at auction.

See the whole event at the Pritzker Military Library’s website.



Christianity Today Reports on Dr. Priest

In it’s March issue, Christianity Today reported on Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s recent missiology conference and its focus on how to respond to accusations of witchcraft on the mission field. The article heavily referenced Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies and Director of the Doctor of Philosophy in Intercultural Studies Program Dr. Robert Priest.

An entire track of the annual missiology conference at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School this February was devoted to witchcraft, a topic usually neglected by the field.

“We had thought this was a phenomenon that would die out,” said Robert Priest, professor of missions and intercultural studies at Trinity. “Instead we are finding that the conditions of modernity—urbanization and social differentiation under capitalism—are contributing to accusations getting stronger and stronger.”

Missionaries have commonly responded in two ways, said Priest. The power of witches to harm others is dismissed as superstition, but this seldom persuades local Christians to abandon the concept; or the reality of witchcraft is endorsed by missionaries not wanting to be “post-Enlightenment rationalists” with a non-biblical skepticism of spiritual warfare.

The result is that traditional witch ideas are fused with Christian theology, which obscures the social consequences: Accused witches are often destitute or outcast, and thus socially defenseless. Instead of seeing old women or children as scapegoats, said Priest, Christian leaders suggest that witchcraft participates in genuine spiritual evil and that the accusations are reasonable. “The church is providing the cognitive underpinnings for the past system in the contemporary world.”

Priest says the approach is unbiblical. “Nowhere in Scripture do we find anyone attributing affliction or death to a human third party acting through evil occult means,” he said. “We’re not questioning Satan’s power; we’re questioning the diagnostic system that blames another person.”

“Missiologists have not yet done an adequate job of wisely engaging these realities,” said Priest. “We have a solemn responsibility to mobilize the effort to rethink our role in this.”



Prayers for Mel Svendsen

Mel Svendsen, lead teaching pastor for Riverview Church in Bonsall, California, and former Senior Vice President of Student Life at Trinity International University, was hospitalized after having a heart attack on Saturday. According to the church, Svendsen underwent a difficult surgery but is now recovering.

For more information, please visit Riverview Church’s Facebook page, where the church is making regular updates.

Church History Alum Receives CT Book Award

Eric Miller received the Christianity Today book award in the history category for his biography of Christopher Lasch, Hope in a Scattering Time. Miller graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s church history program in the early ’90s, when he studied under John Woodbridge.

CT’s review described the biography this way:

“In Miller’s sure-footed and penetrating narrative, we discover that prominent 20th-century social historian and cultural critic Christopher Lasch grew up under atheistic liberal parents, but laboring under ‘a longstanding looming sense of alienation’ discovered its roots by examining and eventually deconstructing American liberalism. For a post-Christian era struggling with social responsibility and moral integrity, I can recommend no more salutary biography than this one.”

Miller also recently co-edited a book on the practice of Christian history with other TEDS alums, John Fea and Jay Green.

TEDS Grad to Be Inaugurated as RTS President

Don Sweeting (PhD ’98) will be inaugurated the president of Reformed Theological Seminary on February 9. After studying at Oxford University, Sweeting came to Trinity where he received a doctorate in church history. Since then, he has taught church history at Denver Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He served as chairman of the theology committee for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and is a trustee on the board of Colorado Christian University.

Sweeting was the senior pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and he was the founding pastor of Chain of Lakes Community Bible Church in Northern Illinois. Sweeting blogs at The Chief End of Man.

Sweeting joins a number of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School graduates who lead educational institutions, including, Mark Young at Denver Seminary, John Senyonyi (MA ’92) at Uganda Christian University, Maureen Yeung (MA ’90, ThM ’91) at Evangel Seminary (Hong Kong), Julie Wu (MA ’76) at China Bible Seminary (Hong Kong), Kent Fuchs (MDiv ’84), Provost, Cornell University, Dennis Hollinger (MDiv ’75) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, David Demchuk (DMin ’07) at Summit Pacific College, Steven Hostetter (PhD ’03) at Oak Hills Christian College, and Larry McCullough (MA ’67) at Laurel University.

New Grant Provides MDiv Scholarships

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was chosen to be among an elite group of U.S. seminaries that have been granted $1.5 million in scholarship funding from the Kern Family Foundation. Trinity is excited to be able to offer 36 students a full, 3-year scholarship in the Master of Divinity program over five years. Beginning this fall, the scholarship will enable young men and women who are called to the pastorate in a teaching or preaching role to be able to receive one of the most sought after seminary educations.

Given only to a small group of seminaries, Trinity is proud to be the recipient of this Kern Family Foundation Grant. Trinity has an eight-year history with the foundation, in which it has supported Trinity Evangelical Divinity School students preparing for the pastorate. The Kern Family Foundation reaffirmed the value of a Trinity education by choosing to include the school, once again, among its selective grant recipients.

In a press release, the Foundation said, “Through the Kern Scholars Initiative, the Kern Family Foundation provides selected seminaries with grants for scholarships awarded to evangelical men and women committed to lifelong service in pastoral ministry who eventually become senior preaching and teaching pastors with pulpit responsibilities. The initiative will support hundreds of highly-qualified students seeking the Master of Divinity degree, strengthen the education and practical experience they receive in seminary, and cultivate a growing nationwide network of pastors.”

Trinity’s admissions office has more information on the scholarship as well as the application materials.

Peter Cha on Intra-Cultural Reconciliation

Racial, ethic, and cultural tensions have received plenty of attention in many church circles. Perhaps not enough attention, and maybe the results from it have not been sufficient, but there has been a growing sense that these divisions in the church ought to be repaired.

But there are other divisions, and other kinds of racial, ethnic, and cultural tensions, that are the result of our globalizing world. These tensions can also exist within, as well as between, ethnic groups. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Professor Peter Cha has studied how Asian-American Christian families experience generational tension.

He tells Duke Divinity School’s Faith and Leadership:

Parents — particularly immigrant parents who had given up a great deal back in their homeland to come here and start anew — often desire that their children have opportunities that they did not have back in Korea or China or Japan. When they’ve come to this country and toiled many hours of hard labor, there is a sense of deferred dreams that they have for their children.

When their children come back from an InterVarsity camp and say, “I know you wanted me to go into medicine, but I sense God’s call to be a missionary or God’s call to go into an under-resourced area as a public school teacher,” you can imagine what that conversation might be like.

I feel that each community has different tensions and conflicts to resolve. For Asian-American Christian communities, probably one of the most contested and conflicted areas of tension is this intergenerational one.

In the full interview with Peter Cha, who oversees another forum where these issues are discussed–Trinity’s Mosaic community–dives deep into this tension.

Living Harmonious Lives of Worship

Trinity students are active in the communities around campus, and one of the most fascinating opportunities for service has been in the under-resourced community of North Chicago. A group of students, calling themselves Faith Alive, has decided to relocated to the neighborhood to bring their skills and compassion for a long-term commitment to the area. About 15 percent of the people in North Chicago live below the poverty line, and 18 percent of children do. The challenges there are real.

But there are also spiritual challenges that face people engaging in this type of Christian service. The pride of making a difference, the drive to accomplish tasks without taking Sabbath rest, or elevating practice too highly over belief—these are all spiritual obstacles that face Christians called to practice their faith by serving the marginalized.

Earlier this week, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Professor of Pastoral Theology Steven Roy spoke with the undergraduate students from Faith Alive and others from around campus who are interested in working for social justice while they study at Trinity.

The Christian life is about worship, Roy said. “It is one of the highest priorities of the Christian life.” We are created and redeemed to worship God, who is worthy of our ultimate honor and service. As Romans 12:1 says, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

This act of worship plays out in the life of the Christian life in a broad and narrow sense, Roy said. The narrow form of worship is the explicitly God-centered activities—corporate worship with the body of Christ, prayer, or Scripture reading. The broad sense is the worship we do in the rest of our lives, through obedient service as students, employees, sons and daughters.

“God wants harmony in relations between the narrow worship and the broad worship,” Roy said. The Old Testament prophets regularly called the people of God away from two main sins: idolatry (narrow worship) and social injustice (broad worship). It is hypocritical for the people of God to worship rightly in the narrow sense without true worship in the broad sense. In this case, the forms of worship don’t match the heart. As Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

“If worship in the broad sense is not in line with God,” Roy said, “he takes no pleasure in worship in the narrow sense.” Paul said the same to the Corinthians when he admonished them for allowing some to go hungry while others get drunk at the Lord’s Supper.

On the other hand, however, our narrow worship must also match our broad worship. We commit idolatry, Roy said, “when we are so committed to justice that we worship it more than the God of justice.” Instead, our pursuit of justice should be motivated by our passion for God. “We shouldn’t seek to pursue justice as if it depends on us,” Roy said. “Justice is God’s business.”

We must worship God in both narrow and broad senses, working for justice and praising the author of it.

Why Anne Rice Loves to Read D.A. Carson

D.A. Carson

In an interview with Christianity Today, novelist Anne Rice discusses why she once again left the church. However, she still is a follower of Christ, she says, and she still loves to read D.A. Carson and other conservative Protestant biblical scholars. In the Q&A, Rice says:

Are there any other religious authors you read?

I read theology and biblical scholarship all the time. I love the biblical scholarship of D.A. Carson. I very much love Craig S. Keener. His books on Matthew and John are right here on my desk all the time. I go to Craig Keener for answers because his commentary on Scripture is so thorough. I still read N.T. Wright. I love the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner. I love his writing on Jesus Christ. It’s very beautiful to me, and I study a little bit of it every day. Of course, I love Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

You mentioned D.A. Carson, Craig Keener, and N.T. Wright. They are fairly conservative Protestants.

Sometimes the most conservative people are the most biblically and scholastically sound. They have studied Scripture and have studied skeptical scholarship. They make brilliant arguments for the way something in the Bible reads and how it’s been interpreted. I don’t go to them necessarily to know more about their personal beliefs. It’s the brilliance they bring to bear on the text that appeals to me. Of all the people I’ve read over the years, it’s their work that I keep on my desk. They’re all non-Catholics, but they’re believers, they document their books well, they write well, they’re scrupulously honest as scholars, and they don’t have a bias. Many of the skeptical non-believer biblical scholars have a terrible bias. To them, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, so there’s no point in discussing it. I want someone to approach the text and tell me what it says, how the language worked.

Immigration and the Bible: James Hoffmeier on the Radio

Dr. James Hoffmeier appeared on Janet Parshall’s “In the Market” program yesterday to talk about what the Bible says about immigration. (Listen here.) Hoffmeier’s book, The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens and the Bible, discusses the words that are so often used in the public discourse on immigration: alien, stranger, sojourner as well as the ancient Middle East culture in which they were used. With so many partisans in the immigration debate appealing to the Bible to prove their position on the issue, Hoffmeier used his knowledge of the Hebrew words and the Old Testament milieu to get beyond the proof-texting to see what the Bible actually teaches.

“We live in a secular society,” Hoffmeier said on the program. “The question is how to take the values and principles that guide the Old Testament social community and apply them in a meaningful way in our secular society.” This is difficult to do, he said, because our current translations don’t render the Old Testament Hebrew very accurately. There is a distinction between the alien and the foreigner.

In his book, Hoffmeier says the Bible had two categories of outsider: the resident alien and everyone else. The resident alien sought and gain permission to live as a sojourner in a new country. The foreigner was anyone who was neither a native or a resident alien. The foreigner could be a friendly neighbor seeking passage through another’s territory, or it could be an enemy nation.

The closest analogue to the Old Testament term for resident alien is the modern American green card holder. This was someone who lived with permission in a foreign country and was expected to adopt at least some of the customs of the host nation and abide by its laws. This is the category of person, Hoffmeier says, that the Bible says are not to be oppressed and are to be treated the same as natives. Joseph was such a person. He rose in Egyptian society because he adopted its customs, so much so that when his brothers interviewed with him (seeking permission to become temporary resident aliens) they didn’t recognize him.

The Bible doesn’t provide explicit guidance on how to treat those aliens who did not enter a country with the permission of its governing authority. Christians can, however, make public policy inferences based upon the injunction “love your neighbor as yourself.”

The next issue of Trinity Magazine will feature examples of Trinity students and alumni doing just that. It also features an excerpt of Hoffmeier’s book.