Friday, September 28, 2007

Preaching Again

It has been awhile. This Sunday the only remaining Penty pastor who maintains friendship with me and has never changed in his relation with me despite my separate path, a man many years my senior, has asked if I can deliver the message to his church this Sunday.

A couple of years ago, when I was convinced that I should be a confessing evangelical, I wrote to my pastor friends who regularly ask me to take their pulpits of my confession of faith, that I have subscribed to the BoC. I felt I must not hide my colors and be honest, I felt that I should come out. Some call this coming out of the closet. I felt that I would be dishonest, taking their churches for 6 weeks or so, assuming the pastoral work of their parish while they go on vacation, is a very serious thing. Besides, they can trust me that when they come back, the church is still in tact, no splits, no people following me to be their pastor etc etc (I have no interest). But knowing in my heart that I no longer held to the doctrine and practice of a Pentecostal and continue taking the pulpit without saying a word is to me being devious. I must not be that way so I wrote them a letter explaining. Since I wrote that letter, none have invited me back. I do not mind this at all. I respect this move. So what is the point of my rambling here?

I absolutely respect the prerogative of not being invited to preach, I would do the same thing too. What was painful was that you are no longer considered a friend since you have changed your "denomination". What was a source of suffering was being isolated as if you did not use to, as said in the Psalms - "walk to the temple together". In order for us to be friends, must we be in the same level of walk, must we be 100% in conviction in order for us to be friends? I found this part of the experience astounding. What more when I wrote that letter, none wrote back or contacted me to ask - "ok, tell us why you are what you are now"? One of them was quite close to me than the others and yet I had to be the one to invite that we might sit and share where I am at.

Let me tell you about the Pentecostal culture. Sadly amongst Pentecostals, your changing church/denomination (in fact, even if you move to another Pentecostal church) is interpreted as a testimony that there is something wrong with them and because you have slighted them, you are no longer to be treated as a friend, even though you have years and years of memories of having warm and caring relationships you shared together. That goes out the door, too. That move you did is to be taken personally. Amazingly for folks who are known to be spiritual, some if not most, act immature. I can imagine being said of me what I heard said of others - "the man has become dead, he has become religious".

No I am not bitter, I realize we are sinners and this is what we do. I do not think I was being naive when I wrote that letter. If there was naiveness it would be in expecting that being frank was something that should be appreciated.

So the moral of the story is this - do not try this at home. When you seek the pure Gospel or focus on the simplicity of just having Jesus or adopt the Cross as your theology, there is suffering involved. You will violate Dale Carnegie's principle of winning friends and influencing people, instead you will create enemies and alienate folks.

29Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, (Z)there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in (AA)the age to come, eternal life. Mk 10:29-30.

Sometimes, God allows us pain so that in that lostness, He might have an opportunity to comfort us. You are welcome too to share your losses here, should you care. But oh, what comfort these words bring...!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The A-mills have it

My first pastor was a missionary pastor of the Assemblies of God who hailed from Springfield, Missouri, USA. I can say that he sincerely taught us the things of God he was convinced were true. One of them was that of the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. It made me wonder one time when he warned us not to fellowship with self identified Christians who did not believe this way with regards to the Second Coming of Christ. Now, coming from an RC background, it was fascinating to me that the pre-tribulation rapture scheme was totally of a different schema of things, because as I was taught in the Apostles Creed, that when Jesus comes, that was the end.

So I wondered as I saw the lives of these anti-Left Behind Christians, why they ought to be shunned.

Through my study, over the years my pre-trib understanding came more and more under skepticism and I finally abandoned it as early as 15 years ago and wind up in what theologians might call the Historic Pre-millinialism. This shares the same scheme as the A-mills except when Jesus returns a 1000 year period still follows. I held to this view because I reasoned that the promise of God to David, that he should have an heir on his throne should have a physical fulfillment. What changed?

One path in my journey led me to studying the book of Acts to see how the Apostles preached, I was trying to see if there was anything similar to the way evangelicals did it. In summary my answer is "no", there is no preaching in Acts 2 like that of Whitfield - you must be born again. I saw none of that.

Remember the physical fulfillment idea I had? Well Acts 2:34-36 shot that idea down. Then there was the other idea, the theological idea. Why do I think the A-millinialists have it? Because of the Gospel, because of the Cross. It makes sense because of the logic of the Cross.

Over in Col 2:15 15(C) He disarmed the rulers and authorities[a] and(D) put them to open shame, by(E) triumphing over them in him.[b]

If Jesus' in his coming, in his living, in his dying and in his rising, God has forgiven us of our sins, then this as we have often said, is a done deal. No amount of hard work can the devil do could ever undo his defeat. Then, this means that a new order of things has come upon us men (and women of course) since Jesus died and was raised. God has peace for us as far as our relationship with him is concerned already, by virtue of the Cross; Jesus brought the kingdom of God with him at his coming (death and resurrection). Hence, the announcement of the angel to the shepherds - Luke 2.
14"(M)Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men [d](N)with whom He is pleased.
Through the lens of the Cross, all we have here in this world becomes a moping up operation, under the Lord's command.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, (V) "All authority(W) in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19(X) Go therefore and(Y) make disciples of(Z) all nations,(AA) baptizing them(AB) in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them(AC) to observe all that(AD) I have commanded you. And behold,(AE) I am with you always, to(AF) the end of the age."

This certainly sounds like a moping up operation to me, doesn't it? But I can not see it with my physical eyes, I can only see it in the spiritual eyes of faith; in the eyes of Word of God. Because, that is what it says.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Properly Speaking -- I am not a Christian Hedonist

[warnning: this is a long rant]

The term ‘Christian Hedonist’ was coined by Dr. John Piper. I used to be a Piper fan. I read Dr. Piper’s book ‘Desiring God’ in 2003 and devoured some sermons too from his ministry web site (with the same name). The book has one thesis to make and this is taken from WCF but stated slightly differently. Namely, he modifies the famous line turning it to read this way…

The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever. [Caps are his]

(BTW, the BoC does not have such a notion, or statement, do you think this is a defect?).

In his Introduction, Dr. Piper relates his journey on how he became a Christian Hedonist. Taking insights from Pascal and C.S. Lewis, he agrees that man has an inbuilt desire to be happy and seeking happiness is no sin. Now, firstly Dr. Piper defines what Christian Hedonism is not, basically it does not mean as the world uses the word ‘hedonism’ (cf p. 20). It does not mean using God to get pleasure neither making pleasure to be god, not a foil for moral justification neither a distortion of his Reformed faith etc. These are fair caveats, so he is not being misunderstood when he uses the phrase. We do know he means it in a clean sense.

Here are a few quotes which I shall number for reference in discussion…

1. In a matter of weeks I came to see that it is unbiblical and arrogant to try and worship God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in him. (Don’t miss those last two words: IN HIM. Not his gifts but him, not ourselves but him) [parenthesis and caps are his](p. 16)

2.On the contrary, I find in the Bible a divine command to be a pleasure-seeker—that is, to forsake the two-bit, low-yield, short-term, never-satisfying, person-destroying, God-belittling pleasures of the world and to sell everything “with joy”(Mathew 13:44) in order to have the kingdom of heaven, and thus ‘enter into the joy of your Master”(Matthew 25:21,23). In short, I am a Christian Hedonist not for any philosophical, or theoretical reason, but because God commands it (though he doesn’t command that you use these labels!)(p. 20)

3. When you reflect long and hard on such amazing commands (e.g. Micah 6:8, Romans 12:8 etc), the moral implications are stunning. Christian Hedonism attempts to take these commands with blood-earnestness.(p. 21)

Now, Dr. Piper is philosophical and philosophical people (like me) can tend to be reductionistic and mystical ( he is a fan of Jonathan Edwards). So where are my misgivings, and am I trying to be my usual sarcastic self? No, Sir. Does he not mention Jesus? Yes he does, but I am now weary of some statements he made inside those text boxes. But before this, do note that like a typical Calvinist, he anchors the whole thesis premise from God’s Sovereignty and makes philosophical statements concerning this. Let me give an example as one philosopher to another (though I am not a professional one)…

The rules of humility that belong to the creature can not apply the same way to its Creator. Ultimate self-denial would be idolatry in God. By upholding his own glory he upholds the ground of our joy. And that is love.( p. 47)

I focus on the 2nd sentence. Now, I do not know about you but this I think forgets the incarnation and is not proper to speak in such a way. In fact, God did apply the rules of humility to himself. Christ the Creator became like his creature. It runs contrary to the Biblical witness that God did deny himself in order to save us, see Rom 8:32, Phil 2:7-8. His way of speaking makes God seem like self-absorbed. Such rendition makes God his own self-interest, hence, God loves himself and not us who indeed deserve no love from him. The mystery of Psalm 8:4, seems to no longer hold in this quote. Love is a relational term but it seems God loves himself and for Dr. Piper, for God not to love himself and instead love others besides him, make God no longer God, it is unbecoming of Him. Because God commands us to love Him, does that mean that He loves himself really and is the very reason why He commands us so? Is God saying to us – because I love myself, then you ought to love me too? Is He saying "hey people, I want you to love me, like I love myself". These are not Dr. Piper's words but I wonder if his exposition can not be rendered that way. I think this misses the truth about Law vs Gospel distinction. Besides, this misses the preamble in Exodus 20:2.

Dr. Piper says we praise what we enjoy (p.49), but philosophically, that is not true, we do praise things that we do not have and enjoy ourselves. Do we not praise things that are simply right, and noble? I can praise someone else’s patience in suffering, even though I may not enjoy the same fortitude.

Over now in his chapter on Conversion, it gets a bit confusing. On the one hand, he says “We are responsible to do this [conversion], and will be condemned if we don’t (p. 62). He then follows this by saying that we cannot do this and that we must first experience the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. What is sad is that God’s means of grace is left out unexplained, i.e. – the Gospel- the proclamation of the Cross which God uses to create in us what God demands, repentance and faith. Then in p.65, he writes “Conversion is no mere human decision, It is a human decision. But oh, so much more!”[italics his].

Clearly we do not have the same idea of Conversion, for from what I understand, conversion is simply this…whereas before there was no faith in the work of Christ at the Cross, now there is. Hence, it is a change from the state of the absence of faith to the state of the presence of faith in Christ and His Cross. Dr. Piper on the other hand has more in mind than this and it gets a bit more top heavy…

These are just some of the conditions that the New Testament says we must meet in order to inherit final salvation. We must believe on Jesus and receive him and turn from our sin and obey him and humble ourselves like little children and love him more than we love our family, our possessions, or our own life. This is what it means to be converted to Christ. This alone is the way of life everlasting. (p. 66)

This gives me pause. It seems to confound the idea of justification and sanctification into an alphabet soup. The language for me leaves many finer points to be desired.

To be fair, he then follows this by answering how this can not be salvation by works…”One answer is the awesome reality of saving faith – trusting in the pardon of God, the promises of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, not ourselves”.

Is he leaving us some important point that we should deduce? You might say I am being pedantic by insinuating what is implied in this statement be explicitly stated. I find that the above statement can give you the notion that God gives forgiveness by whim or that trust is a vague trust in Christ with out relation to the Cross. This is the one missing in such a statement and I am sad about that. God forgives us of our sins because Jesus has earned that forgiveness for us at the Cross, he took the blow that was meant for us, and as he hang there he said “Father forgive them”. This is not a vague trusting in God or in Christ, nor a vague trust in God's pardon. That Cross is for you. A Christ whom we trust yet who does not bleed and die and rise for our forgiveness can be any Christ for that matter. Our enemy is happy for us to trust Christ so long as that Christ does not hang on the Cross for us.

Dr. Piper defines what a Christian is in the same page…”I conclude from the parable [Mt 13:44] that we must be deeply converted in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, and we are converted when Christ becomes for us a Treasure Chest of holy joy”.

The truth is that since sin remains in me despite being forgiven, I have seen in my life times when Jesus is not the treasure of holy joy to me. Sinner and Saint as stated in Romans 7 means that we both love Jesus and at times see we do not love him too. Based on that account, I am not a Christian Hedonist then, I do not think I have been "deeply converted", I must go deeper. Amazingly I am not saved because I love Jesus, or love God, in fact that is the reason why he came, because I do not love Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and even after believing I find I at times still do not love the Triune God. But then, may be I do not really have saving faith because according to Dr. Piper this is what saving faith is…(p. 69)

“The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an “extra” that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your “faith” cannot please God. It is not saving faith”.

I do not know about you but that is quite unfortunate a rendition of saving faith. So, simple trust in the fact that Jesus paid it all at the Cross, does not please God? The reason we trust Christ in His Cross is because we are sinners precisely we do not love God nor neighbor. If we be honest we still do not love God and neighbor even after faith. The above takes out the fruit of faith and grafts it into the tree. Is it not the characteristic of fruits to "grow"?

You made it this far in this rant, you deserve my summary why I can not be a Christian Hedonist, and it is not because it is a bad term, but because it’s manifesto, I believe, confounds Law and Gospel.

A.) Referring to quote #1 above, I view worship then as the Christian’s response for his sins having been forgiven; this is the nature of being acquitted when you darn well know you deserve the slammer. I can not disassociate who God is from what God does. I can not bootstrap myself to simply worship God because He is God and deserves Glory. If I can do that then Islam is valid for already they are doing that – they cry God is great! I worship God because of what he has done in giving me the gift of forgiveness in Christ’s life, death at the cross and resurrection. There is no impulse for me to worship God if the Cross is not the source of that. So I fail the test of being a Christian Hedonist on this regard.

B.) Referring to quote #2 and #3 above, I see Dr. Piper’s intent to live out the commands of God. The motivation is the Law. It does not work for me. For me, the Law of God demands to me and I never finish doing it. It is still left undone in me. I do not pursue God’s commands in earnestness. I simply rest on the finished work of Christ. So I fail again on this regard.

To cut to the chase, let me leave something for thinking. Who is really happy? Who is the one who has found happiness? Psalm 32:

1(A) Blessed is the one whose(B) transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD(C) counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit(D) there is no deceit.

Another way of translating “blessed” is “happy”. According to Scripture, Jesus by his life, death at the Cross and resurrection has made us to be such a person. The greatest happiness in the world is to have your sins forgiven, and it has been in Christ 2000 years ago, and for that, God is worship and adored. This worship is not a feeling but a sense of gratitude and owed respect for the one who has pardoned you. Unless I see how a great sinner I am and how great a Saviour and forgiver Jesus is, I do not think I shall find him to be lovely. In fact, he would seem to me, a tyrant self-absorbed with his own self-love. The God whom I have offended, is the same God who suffers the penalty he was to impose on me. If that does not inspire us to know him, then I should think that we are trying to bootstrap our spirituality by other means, means not grounded on where our feet should be, where else, but at the Cross!

Peace be with you...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shocked and Awed, No More.

I was driving to work the other day and I got distracted by a billboard of a TV series called "Californication". I could not believe what I just read. I could not believe it not because I got offended, but because I could not believe the word "fornication" could be used in some approving manner. What it implied to me by that title was that "yes, this is a TV drama about fornications and fornicators, it is the story of their escapades". Now, you can fault me for being a prude, I have not seen any of its episodes. But frankly, I don't think we have a famine of such stories. That is just one story line after the ones we have seen before. If you ask me, there is already plenty of that value system in the movies we see today.

Then after a few weeks I read this on ABC News.

Just by coincidence, for the last couple of Sundays now the documentary called Decadence - The Meaninglessness of the Modern Life, is being shown in our SBS.

I so like this documentary and I do recommend it. I recommend it because it makes you think, it ashamedly critiques modern Western culture, what it has become and continues to become. It is no wonder that Islamists have no bit of respect for what the West stands for today.

As an example, several decades ago, explicitly having pornographic lyrics in songs in my generation was unheard of. Even in the lyrics of "Hey Jude" by the Beatles one had to be given the angle of looking at it in a suggestive way before one gets it. You got to think hard in order to get it. Today there is none of that. It is in your face and in your ears.

Zeks sells.

What does a scantily clad girl have to do with an advertisement for roast chicken? What about the Big Brother program which is nothing more but helping you indulge in satisfying your voyeur curiosities? Am I an idiot, as if I do not know what these TV stations are trying to do to me? They are marketing to me, they are involving me at the same time they want me to buy what they are selling, all of these at my expense. I am insulted not because they show people in their depraved worsts, but because they have the nerve to think I am stupid enough not to notice what they are doing.

There is a cultural transformation happening and the engine for that is Tinseltown - Hollywood. It is the fueler of pop-culture. No, it is not just porning America, it is porning the world. Hollywood has a lot more influence in the world than the White House, don't be naive. There are many things Hollywood can accomplish that will take the White House decades to get going. A few years from now, what used to be R rated movies will have X rated scenes, and they will make it appear ok, it will become the norm. A movie house who won't run them would miss out on the money.

In today's culture you do zeks first and try to develop the relationship later. I often observe that there is idolizing of romantic love in Hollywood movies as if you are not fulfilled if you do not have a boy friend or a girl friend who is in love with you. I do not mean such love is not needed, what I am amazed is the obsession of Hollywood with it. I pity my kids and their children, they are fodder for marketeers.

Do not think that women will come out properly treated after this mayhem of filth is over. No not at all. Just think, who are the role models of teenage girls? Paris Hilton types, it is the model who has the body but no brains. No wonder boys today want these types but little do they realize is that they are looking for a trophy they can hold in their hands and put on the book shelve. Well trophies are just that, objects to be put on a shelve, you pick them up and look at them if you are in need of some comfort and when that is done, you put them back on the shelve.

In fact, women are becoming more and more objects for indulgence. They do become a thing for one's pleasure, this is what Hollywood is making them to be. Zeks is a recreation sport and women are the equipment. What bothers me is that I do not think young women are resisting, I think they see Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan as people to be envied and admired. They seem to be flowing where the river flows, they are gliding along with the marketeers, oblivious that they are swimming the sewer lines.

I hope I am wrong.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Assurance and the Lutherites

Oh boy, I am enjoying this

I do not know about you but the WCF has an article on assurance but it does not help assure, at least it would not help assure me or it has failed to assure me.

I refer you to Article XVIII, but we do not need to go far, just the first one will do and you will see what I mean...

I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation[1] (which hope of theirs shall perish):[2] yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace,[3] and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.[4]

Now this is precisely the point, when a person is doubting and even in the state of depression, he precisely does not have what these qualities, can you get me?

I mean, firstly the person in a crisis doubts everything in himself, he does not know if he believes in Jesus, he looks at himself and compares it with this article and he says he does not think he loves Him, he doubts if he is even walking in all good conscience for doubt itself is not a good thing...

I will cut to the chase, it will fail to assure because it talks about inward qualities and those qualities are really not there in a person who is in a critical period of their walk in the Christian life. Then because Jesus only died for the elect (as Calvinism states aka Limited Atonement), he can not look outside either because there is nothing out there to hold on, the promise of God is not for you necessarily it is only for the believer, but that is exactly what you are doubting if you really are!!! So it leads to dispair.

The only thing that can break that is the passage of Scripture like 1 John 2:1-2. What we need is a promise of God to the sinner first, then to the believer, this is answered by objective justification.

Ok I got to run, have a good weekend and if you want to enjoy God and glorify him forever, look at your sin and then look at your Saviour (I hope to say more on Piperian Hedonistic Christianity next time).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sovereignty of God and the Lutherites

MetaLutheran is being interviewed here on the role of the Sovereignty of God and how Lutherans view it. I think it is an excellent presentation why that doctrine is secondary in our approach towards the Christian life. Naturally it is being compared to Calvin and Calvinism since that doctrine is quite prominent in that tradition.

Now, I admire Calvin, I believe he is a very good exegete. He is astute, warm and perceptive. Calvin however, can be confusing. For example his view of Baptismal Regeneration can be spot on, but in other places, he seemed to have the left hand take what the right hand has given away. Hence, people in the Reformed world can appeal to him to muster their (non)-regenerative views of Baptism. This does not happen with Luther and the Lutherans when it comes to that subject.

Hence, in one blog that I visited, I commented that Calvin compared to Luther is less experienced. The brother, laughed when I said that. He said he has never heard anyone suggested that. Now, ain't I the first, that rather made me 'proud'.

Seriously, I knew that would be the reaction for I was a Calvinist before and I knew that to some, Calvin is viewed as more impressive than Luther. They think that Calvin's systematization proves him to be more superior in mind than the latter. The truth in history is that the former dipped on the smelly monk's insights. Just compare the two from top. The Sovereignty of God prevails in Calvin while the Cross captured Luther.

Here is the thing, when you see the Cross as everything and you take that as your worldview, all other doctrines will be governed by that and soli Deo gloria is true for the reason it is solus Christus too.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fruit inspecting

I have been thinking a lot about Gal 5:22-26

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another

Normally the teaching I got from here was that the Holy Spirit produces these qualities in us. The focus was then on the Holy Spirit and in my background, that means looking for Him within your own self, such that if He was truly there in your heart, you would experience and should be experiencing these qualities in your own character.

I think that is just half of the story now.

I have a different view now on this. To me the fruit of the Holy Spirit should never be separated from the Gospel and I hate to say this, Pentecostals/Evangelicals separate the Holy Spirit's person from the Gospel itself. Really this fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of faith in the Gospel. Notice these qualities, and here I add by implication the Gospel's effect on us, ie these qualities are the result of being forgiven. Love (for God and man, because we see God's love already for us), joy (in being forgiven), peace (with God, for there is no more issue between us and Him), patience (in trials/temptations), kindness (to others because God has been kind to us), goodness (because we now long to please God), faithfulness (because we savour that forgiveness), gentleness (because God treats us in gentleness too), self-control (because God exercised restraint in his wrath towards us).

There is no law against these, because the Law is not producing these, but the Gospel itself is.

Think about it, they come out from us, but they are not produced by us in a self generated manner. If you look at the Spirit within hoping by looking in, these may be produced in us, you are looking at the wrong place. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is fruit of the Gospel, again, it is extra nos. The Cross produces these things and the Holy Spirit is with Christ and His Cross... always. Dwelling on the Gospel takes care of these fruits, by itself. They are not self induced qualities from within, rather they are sourced external to us. The source, the Gospel (the Holy Spirit) comes outside and produces them within, and what is within produces what is outside seen and observed by people around us. The accent is not to look within, but to look where Christ is -- in His Cross!

Another way of understanding this of course is to take the
"Spirit" as pertaining to the new man, created in Christ Jesus since the new man longs and trust in Christ, but that is for another worthy discussion, for now...

Peace be with youse.

Friday, September 07, 2007

You might say you got options

I gotta blog this, I got this from Lutherans Love Theology list. Right now for those Lutherans who are crypto-Romies or crypto-Orthies, there is now a denomination that offers you the security of Apostolic Succession within the Lutheran Reformation. It is called the Lutheran Orthodox Church AKA Catholic Church - Lutheran Rite. It is found here. No need to swim the Tiber or the Bosphorous, there is an alternative for you. The possibilities are endless it seems because they ordain women in the priesthood, they got the smells and bells, and hey, they Apostolic Succession, the historicity one eventually longs for.

Now what is of further interest to me is that the ArchBishop who ordained the Bishop for this church group has links to the Philippine Independent Catholic Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente ). Now if my history is right, I got ancestors from one of my grandmother's side who were members of this church also known as the Aglipayans. Perhaps Protestantism runs in the blood, sometimes I wonder.

Aglipay was an RC priest who broke away from the Papacy in the 1800s and as far as I know they are in communion now with the Anglican Church. The Reformation never reached the Philippines and for someone like Aglipay to break away without known influence from Geneva, Augsburg, Westminster or Canterbury says a lot. Sure enough, Aglipay like Luther was excommunicated by the Pope.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Law and Gospel minded

Mention Law & Gospel to my Pentecostal pastor friends and they would not have a clue what you mean. That is not even a category in their psyche. Our friend Steve of has a nice introduction here.

However, Law & Gospel is not also a general category amongst new Evangelicals either. In fact in most Reformed, it is not a category too, it has been forgotten. Now why is it that in the paleo-Evangelical, gnesio-Protestant(confessing Lutheran) tradition Law & Gospel is alive and well? The simple answer is that it is written in their Confession.

Frankly I looked at the WCF and its derivative versions and you won't find Law & Gospel mentioned there, at least not mentioned in a robust thorough going way. The closest I can find is Chapter XIX of WCF. Yet this is by far not as explicit as a hermeneutic found in the BoC, specifically in Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord Article 7 I think the erosion of this has happened in the Reformed circle because it is not written in their confession. You have to read about this expounded somewhere else outside their Symbols, unlike in the BoC wherein it is a distinct part of it and given ample exposition. When I see some posts in by Reformed folks attack this, I can only point that it is because it is not a special doctrine mentioned in their statement of faith, hence, they are not convinced of such an approach. In the Reformed tradition, you can be one without subscribing to this method, but in the Lutheran, it is not possible to be one without subscription to this teaching.

In the BoC, it is solidly declared, Law & Gospel is the way to read Scripture, why? Because it uncovers Jesus and His Cross. I am convinced that it does.

For further consideration see als Pr. Tom's Law & Gospel program.

Still have Jesus?

I am, right now as I type, listening to the broadcast of Dr. Francis Beckwith's move back to the Roman Catholic faith in the Catholic Answers -EWTN. He is being interviewed there, he was asked to summarize the move back...

He said that he still has the historic Church and he still has Jesus!

Now I reflect on that a bit more, what a good idea. Hey, what have you got to loose, you get historicity and Jesus too! What a good deal.

Now how should I answer that now that I am Lutheran? I guess I am because all I want is Jesus---only, alone. Mine is reverse it is the other way around.

I am in a less wise situation than Beckwith, he has more props or support, I only have one. None but Jesus. From a mathematical standpoint my expectation function is lower compared to his, the payoff for him has more chances than mine.

I think I have "historicity too" but that is a side issue. That is not the reason why I became Lutheran, it is because it Jesus alone, not this and this plus Jesus too. If that were my criteria I would stay in Pentecostalism, for after all we have - all these blessings now, health, wealth and wisdom too, then plus Jesus in heaven also! Wow what a better deal.

For me it seems, there is no other way, I ascertain, all other ground is sinking sand. Does that not make me vulnerable, you bet, but there is no other way for me, my options have been made limited by Christ and in Christ alone.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

When you do not have a song and a prayer

Matthew 20:31
31The crowd(A) rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" (ESV)

Psalm 30:10
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me!O LORD, be my helper!"(ESV)

They say when it rains, it pours. Do you sometimes come into a situation wherein you are so overwhelmed you do not know how to pray or where you should start your prayer?

Kyrie Eleison

Lord, have mercy.

That prayer is enough. God hears that prayer and you do not have to enumerate, elaborate or spell out in detail the need you need help for. He knows you can't because the burden is so heavy it has brought you to your knees and made your mouth shut, He knows you are speechless. He knows you can not even articulate your pain that goes inside your heart, your head. That is enough. He understands and He hears and will show mercy. Sometimes you can only sigh or breath that prayer and it is enough, He understands what you are asking for. Mercy. It covers all that you need. Mercy. It summarizes that. On His mercy, we can have confidence of that because He has shown us the Cross.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Reversing Sola Fide

I heard this at White Horse Inn today...

A respondent to what faith is said "faith is knowing that Jesus died for us to give us a chance for salvation".

That is a scary statement.

We are saved by grace through faith -- thus says Eph 2:8-9.

However, this is not understood that way by evangelicalism, rather it is the reverse. That mean, they understand it to say -- we are saved by faith through grace. Notice the subtle shift in understanding. I think this confusion happens because they think being creed-less and confession-less is a wise thing to be. This understanding does not make faith a gift but it makes faith as a form of works. Sure they will affirm that we are not saved by works, but when they affirm we are saved by faith, faith is the element we throw in and thus are saved.

Sola Fide is always grounded on Sola Gratia. When this grounding is considered, I think it becomes clear how the Sacraments of Baptism and the Supper does not nullify Sola Fide but rather it demonstrates it because it is Sola Gratia really, the ground of Sola Fide. Deeper in to the heart of this is Jesus with His Cross, is the sole originator of our salvation and is the Grace of God, and, also the Author of our Faith. Everything revolves around Him.

Well now, what is the off shoot of this? Well, if you are saved by faith through grace and not the other way around, then certainty becomes a problem. It may not be a problem at the moment, but when crisis happens, your confidence in the finished grace of God can come under attack. You will standing on sand, and not on the done deal of Jesus.

Here is an excellent discussion found at brother Matthews' pod cast production on Unconditional Grace -- Lutheran Difference.

Finally, going back to what I heard and notice I emphasized the quote there, the person tacking on "to give as a chance for salvation" should cause us to be nervous. This means that Jesus did not do a complete job, all he did was give us a chance to be saved, but not actually to save us for sure, so the rest is up to you. If you do not take the chance, then bad luck for you.

No, the Bible says Jesus died for sinners, period (pun intended). It means paid in full.

Some more on Mother T

In one of the list I am a member of, Pr. Bob gives this quote from Mother T's beliefs.

* "Oh, I hope I am converting. I don't mean what you think. I hope we are converting hearts. Not even Almighty God can convert a person unless that person wants it. What we are all trying to do by our work, by serving the people, is to come closer to God. If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are, and then by being better we come closer and closer to Him. If we accept Him fully in our lives, then that is conversion. What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one's conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept. But I cannot prevent myself from trying to give you what I have" [Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, (Glasgow: William Collins Sons &Co. Ltd., 1976), p. 136].

Some reactions are found here, here and here

Like I said before, I can not know for certain what went on at the last moments of Mother T whether she held on to this or not. All we can do in this discussion is do conditional discussion. This means one can only make statements like this "if Mother T believed this then ....". That is the question, we do not know for certain if she recanted this and finally got to see the Gospel etc. Within the confines of conditionality, I think fair statements can be made and some educational interchange is still fruitful.

What do ya think?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Another Proof - all numbers are the same

I found another proof for this theorem--

All numbers are the same.


We prove by induction on any number n. For initial case, we now that 1 = 1. Now for inductive hypothesis: assume it is true for any number n and now show it is true for n+1. We know that n+1 = n+1, hence it is also true for the case n+1.

QED. (I think it should be replaced by LOL)

Want another even shorter proof?

We use proof by contradiction. Assume it not true that all numbers are the same. We know that 1 = 1,hence a contradiction, thus all numbers are the same.


Want another even really shorter proof?

Trivial (the mathematicians favorite word).


What is the moral of the story? If sophistry can be done in maths, the more it can be done in theology.

The Book of Concord in the Apology charges their adversary with sophistry. A sample is in Article 6 verse 26

26] May God put to confusion these godless sophists who so wickedly distort God's Word to their own most vain dreams! What good man is there who is not moved by such indignity? "Christ says, Repent, the apostles preach repentance; therefore eternal punishments are compensated by the punishments of purgatory; therefore the keys have the power to remit part of the punishments of purgatory; therefore satisfactions redeem the punishments of purgatory"! Who has taught these asses such logic? Yet this is neither logic nor sophistry, but cunning trickery. Accordingly, they appeal to the expression repent in such a way that, when the inexperienced hear such a passage cited against us, they may derive the opinion that we deny the entire repentance. By these arts they endeavor to alienate minds and to enkindle hatred, so that the inexperienced may cry out against us [Crucify! crucify!], that such pestilent heretics as disapprove of repentance should he removed from their midst. [Thus they are publicly convicted of being liars in this matter.]