Friday, June 29, 2007

Who should believe the Gospel

Seems, to me that the one who should believe the Gospel first, is the man behind the pulpit. He is not only to believe it personally but he is to believe it as the very means God uses to bring others to Himself. If that preacher is not convinced in the promise of Romans 1:16-17, that it is the Power of God to save, he will cook up weird strategies to prop his ministry.

Today, pastors are so much under pressure to play along with secular culture. When you have 40 people filled with folks who are about to make an exit from this world and you see besides you another church which is overflowing with young people, there is so much temptation to lose confidence in the Gospel and make a switch. There is every reason to justify the use of some marketing gimmick to compete. This is when the message starts getting skewed and the diet given to the pew becomes more and more messages for self help and tips for living.

So if I was a pastor should I not give a seminar on "controlling your finances", "relating to your teenager" or something like that? I will but, I will not be the one to give it, and neither will it be done on a Sunday. I would probably ask an expert to tell my people about this stuff on a mid-week seminar, but not me.

The thing is, if your church is growing and people are coming there for various reason, except the reason of the Gospel, then whatever got them there, you need to tap into and make it bigger and better. You will have to refine that thing that is getting people in. If it was excitement, then more excitement up ahead is needed. Do you think people will not get bored with it? That is the nature of sin. So , you need to adopt new techniques then when the time comes, right?

If people in church are excited but their excitement is not in the Gospel, well some serious things will be happening down the road and it is just a matter of time before disillusionment sets in.

What more could be better than being the person to tell people where to find peace with God and show them how their sins are forgiven? That is the pastor's sacred niche, he should not give it away nor sell it out to what felt needs people may have. Besides, people really do not know what they need anyway.

I think today, preachers are under the testing of God. He is testing them to see if they themselves are cleaving to the Gospel, testing to see if they will be faithful to the simplicity of the promise of salvation. If the Gospel is not the message that is preached in season and out of season, then whatever that message coming from the pulpit happens to be will not bring lasting substance. If the preacher himself is bored with it, then maybe he needs to hear Law and Gospel also preached to him. That is the common trick of the devil, to make us doubt the promises of God and one of them is to make us doubt in the power of the Gospel to change lives.

As St. Paul said (and I apply it to them) : Woe are they, if they do not preach the Gospel.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Those 25K denoms and counting

Over at Fearsome Pirate, we read a reply to the criticism that the Protestants are to be faulted for the proliferation of these sects, specially Christian sects. The Pirate's thesis is that religious freedom makes such a phenomenon happen. I got nothing much to add to his great insight.

I will only add $0.02, to why is it that most of the time the sects that sprout out come from the non-Catholic "christian stream", meaning they invariably promote the idea of Scripture Alone or sola scriptura. OK, to what authority will one appeal to when a group is digressing from another? Of course it will be to the group's sacred text. This is not the fault of sola scriptura, for sola scriptura as a principle is inherent to every religion that has a sacred text. For example, the Muslims have two major streams each has its own take on the Qu'ran. The Jewish people have several sects or denominations in them all having their take on the Tanakh- the Orthodox, Conservative and the Reformed movements. Each nevertheless appeals to how they interpret their own sacred text. The Buddhists have their variations too on the teaching of Budha. Having various opinions is not the fault of the sola scriptura, it is a phenomenon that comes with the turf when a group has a revered text.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I got an idea about online confessions

NO doubt you have heard the concept of online confessions offered by church bodies and self-help groups. Rightly so, the problem with these is that the most important aspect that of absolution is not there. In this past blog I pointed that even those who come from denominations that do not practice confession-absolution long to hear sins absolved.

I got an idea - why not online absolutions! Weird? What do you think online confessions are? Normal?

But hey, look, we can make some money on this. We say ok, after you've done your confessin, and braggin about your great sins, hit this button to hear your absolution (for a small fee). Voila! We pop open Media Player or iTunes and there the one confessing gets to hear right there through the computer speakers a pastor's absolution.

Good idea? What do you think? Shall I program a web site for this? Don't forget to give me royalties for this idea!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Give us some more, we can do it

The Vatican has new 10 Commandments for Drivers

I guess we should have more since the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 is so easy to do. Ok , go ahead bring it on, hit us with some more, we need more commandments, life is getting so easy with out them and gets boring.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

No Gentleman

I have been thinking about what I have heard so many many times articulated by people and by my former pastors - "God is a Gentleman, He will not force Himself on you". No he is not! That is why the Gospel is so good.

I tell you why God is not a Gentleman. He does not need to consult me if I wanted a gift, he does not ask for my approval, he does not ask if I like to be saved, he does not negotiate, he does not bargain. He does what is good and has no regard for people's opinion. Proof? Read Romans 5:8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died, took the blows of God that was meant for me/you before you/we were born. He asked no one if this was a good idea. He does what is good. We do not even know what is good for us, so Jesus comes to save.

In Arminianism (modern Evangelicalism/Pentecostalism) as well as in Roman Catholicism, it was possible for no one to be saved. In the first, it was possible for no one to decide to give their lives to Jesus. In the second, it was possible for every one not to use the the infused grace for one's justification. In Calvinism, Jesus did not die for the whole world, "whole" does not mean whole (it really means some). In Lutheran theology, Jesus died for all. So how come not all are eventually saved? Because of faith, Scripture says not all have faith (2 Thess 3:2), but not because Jesus did not save. God does what is good - provide a sacrifice, a gift for sins. If He consulted us first before He acted, we would have debated, argued and quibbled. Finally we would have said "No Thanks, I am not so bad, I can do it".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mossa's Gospel Collection

I have been listening to James Morrison's Gospel Colletion CD given by a brother in Christ for my birthday. This James Morrison (there are many out there with the same name) is Australia's King of Jazz, akin to Wynton Marsalis. James is a multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist musician. Name a brass instrument and James can play it. From trumpet, flugels, trombone etc to even piano, he can deal with it. My former trumpet teacher the late Cal Martin said James is a master technician. He is The Screemer (the guy who hits the high C and over in the trumpet). He is the real trump(et) geek, if I met one.

I did not realize he has a Christian upbringing and that he writes Gospel music too. In this CD he has a couple of those he wrote. Jazz can be disrespectful when not done properly to sacredly recognized music like the hymns of the Church. In this CD there is respect and reverence for what has been regarded as property of the Church. Yet there is swing! The wow factor is high. There is a tint of Dixie/Trad flowing in some of the songs but very subtle, you have to really hook your ear to it but it is ingenious because it is not that obvious.

My favorite is "Jesus Loves Me", I kept repeating it in the car's CD as I drove to work.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Not only 2, there is 3.

It is customary for the average Evangelical to think that there are really two systems of theology in Protestantism. They think either you are a Calvinist or an Arminian. This is naive, and really not true at all. There is a theology that is neither Calvinist nor Arminian and in fact older than both - Lutheranism. It is older than both because in the Reformation world, it was the Lutherans who wrote their first Confession, called the Augsburg Confession. In fact Calvin himself signed a variation of the Augsburg Confession also known as the Variata.

Classifying Protestant systematic theologies exclusively into Calvinism vs Arminianism is simplistic and plain wrong.

For a quick view of differences you can study it here

I have a recommendation, if you want to evaluate what you would be between these three, do not start with the Sovereignty of God because that is not how God speaks to us. God speaks to us through the person of His Son. Start with the revelation concerning Jesus Christ and His Cross.

And oh, was Luther a Calvinist? No. Though Luther acknowledged double predestination, he did not go to its logical conclusion in fact he rejected Limited Atonement and Perserverance of the Saints. In this regard, the Lutherans followed Luther contrary to the rumour. You can read an analysis of Bondage of the Will here

Lastly, as one Lutheran blogger said, the beauty of the Lutheran Confessions (BoC) is that you can subscribe to it in good conscience, you do not have to make it appear that it is not saying what it is plainly saying. Unlike those who subscribe to WCF who put their own spin on the sharp edges of that confession, that is why sometimes you would like to ask now will the real Calvinist please stand up!. You do not have to do that in the BoC. You can repeat and assert verbatim what the Bible says even if you sound philosophically inconsistent, you are still Biblically accurate. There is no need to be defensive and do creative (even spectacular) exegesis. It gives you intellectural honesty, it even allows you to be guilt free in your ignorance. You can say - I have no idea, I don't know the answer to that question, I leave that to the wisdom of God. No such pressures at all to be obsessive.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sorry for her

You know I feel sorry for Ms. Paris Hilton (see here). I know some would disagree with me but I do feel sad for her. I have been reading the comments in ABC news web site and some of them are pretty hard and nasty. Some are quite obscene comments that show no sympathy for this young woman. I feel sorry for her for a couple of reasons.

First off, I feel sorry that she touted herself as the life of a socialite party. I mean, you know, she hanged out with the beautiful people like her, she made her life public and even displayed who she is like. I think there is no denying that she has the reputation for being "bad" and for her peers, and what she seems to promote...this is "good". She has been right there doing and practising the moral value system of the pop/entertainment culture she belongs in; and I do not think this is something to be proud of. Let's face it, she is media fodder, they made bucks from the news she made and she welcomed the media attention too. They found someone to use and they are using her well.

She behaved as if she was invincible in her being "bad", she appeared to be gaining the world, appeared to be getting away "with it". But now when she is down, humiliated and put in her place... she weeps and then gets kicked in the head - by, I believe, the same people who shared her values. I am sad and feel sorry for her.

I am reminded of a saying, if you swim with sharks, do not be surprized if your legs get eaten.

I pray she learns quickly to distrust the empty promises of happiness this world gives and may the words of the Saviour come to her who says "what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world but loses his soul". She is young, and it is never too late to realize, our ways do not work. May the light of the Gospel reach her rather than some "spritual" junk that will lead her no where.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Punishment for laughing

[UPDATE: The embedded YouTube messes up in Firefox so click here ]

I got this from Random Dan.

Imagine if you get hit by a kendo stick on the bum each time you laugh? Like what is the english for 27? It is ten ten seven.

Here is what happens.

Click here with subtitle

Debating Atheists

I like to debate them having once an anti-believer myself. But now a days, it is impossible to conduct a meaningful conversation with them. For example, which Athesist's version is the official version of beliefs by Atheists?

I mean, do these people have a Statement of Faith? If they do, then we can start somewhere, that way I am not misrepresenting or need to deal with an individual Atheist. It would be nice if someone can point me to say The Joint Declaration of Atheists or something like that. I mean, what Confession of Faith does an Atheist have? I heard Atheists subscribe to some belief in morality but which statement of morality do we get to read and examine? As an aside, what parameter of truth can one use to conduct a meaningful conversation with them? It is like pinning a jello on a wall.

The exercise is just too much trouble and besides, I can not take them seriously anyway, so, they must not exist.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Those un-Reasons

Over at Internet Monk, and interview of Dr. Wyman Richardson, a Baptist minister, can be read there. Much of the interview touches upon Roman Catholicism. I think Dr. Richardson is one of those Reformed folk who are wanting to go back to the "catholicism" (small c) of his faith forefathers. He is a contributor to

I am drawn on the first question as to why he did not become an RC. Here is what he said...

But I do believe that the unity must be a unity in the truth. Ultimately, what caused me to pull my toes out of the Tiber can be summed up in one word: justification. I reached a point where I realized that I was simply unable and unwilling to abandon the doctrine of sola fide and the idea of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer, an abandonment that I believe I would have to make if I am reading the anathemas of Trent correctly.
(bold is mine).

Justification? Right, Dr. Richardson is not alone in making this conclusion, ie. that this doctrine is the one that gets a beating when an Evangelical becomes an RC. This has been pointed out again and again.

Justification? Ask an average evangelical/pentecostal if he/she has heard of the concept or knows what it means or knows what Protestants teach about it, I am pretty sure they would not have a clue. Now, I do not mean to be hard on my former affiliations. I still assert that I love my people (my former Christian idengtification) and you may not believe it, I weep for them. Love in truth, not in words only but in deed, so says St. John. The truth is that they have not been taught about this concept. But ask them whether Jesus likes them to have the best wife, best career, well behaved kids, beeming bank account, good health - for them to be happy, wealthy and wise - they will say "yes" and will tell you the how-to's of that! They can tell you how to let Jesus come into your life, or how-to be "born again". But justification? I doubt it. For once, please surprize me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Those reasons

I am reading an analysis of Dr. Beckwith's ratonale for coming back to the RCC. It is found here

I came to this bit, he comments...

For example, Trent talks about the four causes of justification, which correspond somewhat to Aristotle’s four causes. None of these causes is the work of the individual Christian. For, according to Trent, God’s grace does all the work. However, Trent does condemn “faith alone,” but what it means is mere intellectual assent without allowing God’s grace to be manifested in one’s actions and communion with the Church. This is why Trent also condemns justification by works.

Either he is re-reading Trent with his own sets of presuppositions or he missed some portions of it, for I do not think he could have missed this bit...from Trent

If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema. (Trent Session VI, Canon XII)

Here Trent was not condemning naked faith or mere faith or assent, it is condemning "trust alone" or "confidence alone" ie "faith alone" as the Reformers defined it.

Now if you are an Evangelical and you are not condemned by these words, please check again, perhaps your notion of faith is not as the Reformers defined it, you may be functioning RC in you ideas of the nature of faith etc.

If as Dr. Beckwith thinks that Trent and the Reformers in their confessions are saying the same thing about "faith" ie mere "assent" is not what they mean, why convert? My point is this - ok, he thinks that the RC position has been mis-represented by his evangelical communion, that is, no, the RCC actually is saying the same thing as his evangelical friends are saying. What is the difference then if he converts back? Is he not simply bringing along what he already affirms? or is there something else more profound underneath?

Then I wonder if he studied the Fathers and the confessions made by the First Evangelicals and compared them?!? Frankly I don't think he did. I think he did not dare bother about the Book of Concord. On the otherhand, if there is a pre-disposition already, perhaps the BoC would have been irrelevant anyway.

Kinda, "I have made up my mind, do not confuse me with facts"!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Sometimes I think the work of RC apologists gets knocked down by default - by its own doctrine of Magisterium. I really think it is pointless debating to no end with RC apologists. Not that they have no interesting things to say but their work becomes irrelevant. Firstly, if there is an Infallible Magisterium, then who decides to be the proper interpreter of its teachings and pronouncements? You might say the Magisterium itself. So it just revolves around them. Hence, if you go on debate with RC apologists, what is the point? For after all, they are not the official spokes people for the Magisterium. They are not officially sunctioned, so, the situation is superfluous.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Returning Rider

I am a returning rider. There is something about bike riders that is by default ingrained. When bike riders pass each other on the road and in viewing distance they sorta give a nod at each other or some signal to tell you, they noticed. Sometimes when a fellow rides on your side of the rod, a friendly look or a gesture is expected when you pass each other. Like, when both of you are in traffic on a stop position waiting for the traffic lights to turn green. You are expected to be sympathetic and polite. The nod is a kinda secret handshake that says "you and I are on this road together, I know how it is like to be on the road on your own, we have somethings in common".

That culture should be the same amongst Christians, don't you think?

By the way, I ride a Honda Magna. It is a fun machine but I complain, it is too soft noised for me. Motorists don't know I am there, like the HS?