Thursday, February 28, 2008

Most offended

Isaiah 64:6
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Whenever I share the fact that for me, each time I hear the Law it brings me to despair or doom, (and I suggest that Luther too seemed to have believed that) my listener gets offended. When I hear the Law, it convicts me and tells me, I am not the person being described by it. Some have a more positive look at the Law. Some love the Law and they believe they are doing it or can do it each time it speaks. Do I love the Law? I think I do but it tells me what I am not. Perhaps I have a liking for being put down that is why I like it. It makes me uncomfortable yet I like to hear it. Perhaps, as a hint, may be I like it because it makes me run to where my resolution can be found.

I had a debate this week on the concept : can any man not love his neighbor from a pure heart, be he a Christian or not? My first answer was "no" - no one can. But of course, I was fronted with examples all over the place of people who have shown self-sacrificial love towards others and based on the outside, they seem to be loving their neighbor for their own sake.

Finally, I conceded and agreed. I will grant that an Atheist can show self-sacrificing love for his/her neighbor, for the neighbor's sake. I will grant that. The question is, what does God think of that, i.e. in front of Him, what value does it carry. None. Now that is hard to swallow. Our mind rebels against this. Some do get angry because this shoots down possibilities for self justification.

But I add, why not let God judge you and bring you to despair? Why not throw your hands up in the air and cry - "I am guilty". Because when you do -- you are ready to receive the joy of salvation -- The Gospel, that for Christ's sake God has taken the punishement for your sins and He placed it on Christ at the Cross --"paid in full".

One of our ladies in Bible Study shared the Gospel to her friend. The friend replied -- "I like a God who will let me pay for my sins"--huh? What duh?!!? How crazy is that?!!?

Why insist on paying for something that is being given/offered to you freely? That would be insane. We are talking about the future of our souls, we can not play nice and dice on this one.

Forgiveness is being offered freely- located in Chris, take it, it is yours.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This blog is on...yours truly.

A few blogging friends have featured some of my posts or some of my comments in their blogs.

Firstly is Dr. Ichabod, whom I mentioned in the past I read regularly, specially when he features his critiques of UOJ. You may not agree entirely with what Dr. Ichabod says, but he is a good check for some teachings or policies which some synods hold dear. His post/comments of late is found here. His book, Thy Strong Word is an enjoyable read.

Then there is fellow Aussie, David Schuetz, an ex-Lutheran who is still Lutheran though now an RC. Try figuring that out. What the?!!!? I know of David (whom I have never met personally) virtually, and as expected we stand on opposite banks of the river. Anyway I said something about his being "still crypto-Lutheran" here. Oh, BTW Past Elder is also featured there and as expected goes into debate with the folk there -- often. You can read Past Elder's comments there too.

Enjoy and hope they make you reflect, think, cojutate.

Monday, February 25, 2008

When Abraham asked

I have stopped romanticizing Bible characters. Scripture shows them to be just like us but for the grace of God. In Genesis 15, Abraham wanted to be sure he would inherit the land promised by God...

6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for
righteousness. 7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” 8 And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” 9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

We can notice that the deal was not as trivial as some may have portrayed the incident to be. Abraham believed God and then he followed with a question ---"hang on, Lord how do I know this to be true"? What about us, do we have questions for God?

It has been said by those who have gone before that in the Christian's lifetime, he/she will encounter the same question, he/she will encounter the doubting of his/her salvation - "Lord how do I know your promise of heaven is true"? Good for you if you have never entertained doubts since you first believed but some older Christians I have met have been honest enough to confess that they have wondered a few times.

So when that happens, does God do the same and asks us to bring a heifer? Do we have an heifer incident we can look into, wherein God solemnly swears to us his promise is true? Where does God make us look?

I think we do have something similar but it is not a heifer. It is simple bread and wine along with the words of Jesus at the Supper. Just as surely as I can touch, see and taste that bread and wine at the Lord's Supper, with the words - "this is my body broken for you" we are sure that his promise is true. Why? Because we did not invent this institution of the Lord's Supper, it was Jesus who instituted this. You hear the words, they are outside you and they come to you - a sinner broken by sin, it comes as a gift, not asked for, but initiated by God the same way he initiated his covenanat when Abraham wondered. It is one sided, you do nothing. You simply trust it. It is done to you, you do nothing, the same way Abraham fell asleeep. We note the heifer was not symbolic, it was an actual heifer, once alive, now slaughtered cut in two.

We have something better than the blood and flesh of a heifer, we got the very body and blood of Jesus - God's Son, Saviour. That is, if you believe it is not mere bread, and not mere wine. Because if you don't, then it stops short of being what Jesus says it is... the his body broken, blood spilled... for your sins. Selah

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why no ordo?

Not Novus ordo but Ordo salutis (order of salvation), that is what I mean. In general, theologians I have read pose a logical order of salvation (how a man is saved) as opposed to a temporal sequence. Rightly so ,because some aspects happen co-existentially.

This came to mind as I was reading the BoC- Solid Declarations Article III. In there it clarifies how the terms justification and regeneration are being used in the Apology.

As I was reading this article, it reminded me of a couple of things. First, this clarification is following the wise procedure of distinguishing categories and IMHO-- justification is not the same as regeneration properly speaking, they are distinct categories but related. This is akin to the post I think I made on reconciliation not the same as justification, they are distinct but related.

It reminded me as well of how the Reformed have a well articulated ordo while the Concordians do not speak of this as much. It is left without much mechanistic explanation.

The Reformed says the following: 1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification. (Rom 8:29-30).

On the Lutheran side, J. A. Quenstedt suggested this: 1.) calling, 2.)regeneration,3.) conversion, 4.) justification, 5.) mystical union, 6.) renewal (sanctification?).

Notice that the two coincide in regeneration->conversion->justification.

I am not so sure of Quenstedt's suggestion in entirety. It my reading of the Solid Declaration, it seems after calling comes conversion, justification and then regeneration.

My proposal is conversion->justification->regeneration.

I could be amiss here, I am happy to be corrected because I am sure Quenstedt has a far superior theological acumen compared to mine.

I base mine on John 1: 12-14.

However it seems to me though if regeneration (the giving of a new heart) is ahead of conversion and justification, then logically speaking faith is the good fruit of regeneration and looks like faith is one of the good work of a good heart. Hence, faith can be seen as another good work.

I suspect I am being thick headed once more but I welcome correction as to why we should follow Quenstedt's. Why am I disagreeing with him? Am I not fully accounting the evidence?

Thanks for the help.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My New Banner...Hurray!

I am so thankful to Carrie of This Is Written. She has provided me with a much needed banner.

I will go into a Penty testimonial here...It is a significant story for me.

You see for over a year now, I have mused quietly in my heart "how I wish I got a banner but I do not know how to do it". I never got to tell the one who can do it for me because for some awkward reason it was best for me not to ask.

So I never got the chance to learn how to do it, but now Carrie sent me these banners.

Thank you Carrie for being thougthful, I appreciate this, dear sister! And, thank the Lord for dropping the idea into your heart. God be praised. Amen

Saturday, February 16, 2008

All Analogies Fail

But at any rate, I will try it anyway.

Where the Classic Protestant (i.e. Lutheran) differ from RCC idea of justification is where this justification happens. Does this happen in God or in the sinner? In the former,it happens in God's heart, it is the treatment or the verdict that one is righteous. In the latter, the righteousness happens in the sinner. The former is into 'gratia imputata' (grace imputed), the latter is into 'gratia infusa' (grace infused). There is big difference, the former is crediting into one's account. The latter is infusing strength into one's being. My RC friends can correct me if that is no longer the teaching of Mother Church. I have been away now more than half of my life, so I do not know now what is going on.

My real point is to distinguish between redemption and justification. Technically they are related but categorically not the same. The effect to us is the same i.e. we are set free to go in peace, but what happens prior to the effect are distinguishable.

Most use court room scenario to illustrate what is going on so I will try it anyway knowing that all analogies eventually are weak and when stretched will and do fail. However, in both cases I will show that 'gratia infusa' does not come into play whatsoever.

Here is how I look at redemption:

We are accused by the Tax Office of not paying taxes and we are brought court and face the judge/magistrate. The Tax Office shows the records that we have missed consistently paying our income taxes. The judge sees the evidence, and is about to pass his verdict of guilty calling on the sheriff to confiscate our assets, and throw us to jail. But just before he does it, someone (Jesus) steps in pays our arrears/debts. What does the judge do? He has to let us go because we owe nothing anymore. It got paid on our behalf. Here we are dead guilty and there is proof of it, but we are being set free because one payed for what we are guilty of.

Try this for justification:

The Tax Office like above, brings us to court accusing us of not paying our taxes. However, when the judge asks for proofs of missing tax payments, the Tax Office could not produce the records against us. The records went missing. What doe the judge do? He has to treat us as if we are righteous, there is no evidence to pass a verdict of guilty. A man is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, correct? Correct. There is no proof to convict us, hence, he has to let us go because the evidence against us could not be found. What is the judge to do? Nothing but to pronounce us as innocent. In this case, there is no implication that we are not guilty, it is just that there is no evidence beyond reasonable doubt to convict us.

Romans 4:5 And to the one who does not work but(E) believes in[b] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Justification is what God does when we are brought to faith in that redemption provided by Jesus. Redemption is God forgiving us, but at the same time through faith, God presumes us as innocent as if we never missed paying our tax arrears at any time, he presumes us as having perfectly obeyed his Laws.

So in both cases there is no infused righteousness, in both cases, it is imputed righteousness, it is the righteousness through another.

Here is the kicker...

I run my own business and tax paying for me is a never ending activity. How I wish the above were the same in my relation to the Tax Office.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Real Chief End

Well there are no takers for my short quiz on this quote from one of my books...found here
Let me quote it again...
But the chief worship of God is to preach the Gospel.

Do you know which book I got this from?

It was a quote from the Book of Concord, Tappert Edition. It is found in The Apology of Augsburg, Article XV (VIII), 42.


It is about time a "sorry" is given to the Aboriginal people specially those of the "stolen generation".

You can read it here.

In a nutshell, The Stolen Generation are the people who were taken out of their mother's care in their childhood. The Christian Church had a hand on this too because it was thought that the Aboriginal mothers would not know how to really "mother" these kidsm, so they were taken from them so that they can be "properly cared for". How idiotic was that?
I am glad a sorry has been given, it was long overdue.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Baptist Church does Ashes

Like I told you, when we get tradition deprived we go for it with gusto.

Read of a Baptist church now observing lent that will be administering ashes here.

The Chief

The Westminister Shorter Catechism has this.

Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

However I read this quote from one of my books...

But the chief worship of God is the Preaching of the Gospel.

Do you agree with this or do you disagree? Why? This is not a trick question. Hmm, ok, it may be.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Richard Hooker, Anglican divine, said this here...

whereas in truth our doctrine is no other than that which we have learned at the feet of Christ: namely, that God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for his worthiness who is believed;
I am ok with that, I am not biased for it agrees with this thing that Martin Chemnitz said...

We must note the foundations. For we are justified by faith, not because it is so firm, robust, and perfect a virtue, but because of the object on which it lays hold, namely Christ, who is the Mediator in the promise of grace. Therefore when faith does not err in its object, but lays hold on that true object, although with a weak faith, or at least tries and wants to lay hold on Christ, then there is true faith, and it justifies.

Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 503.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Thoughts from Carrie

A couple of interactions with Carrie of But These Are Written got me thinking. Two thoughts got me brewing.

1. Over at in this article, I saw the post of Kepha, a young RC man who confessed that right now he is in between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. As an ex-RC, I posted to him to consider first the real question - First what is the Biblical Gospel and which one is believing, teaching and confessing it? Carrie being an ex-RC herself, helped in. Over the course of conversation, the definition of what a Church is got into focus. You can read them in here. Carrie said this...

I let Rome define herself

Well, sure, we can knock ourselves out believing that there is the Church where the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments properly given, i.e. we can define it locally and congregationally. This is Biblical of course.

You can "protest" and reject Mother Church's definition of what Church is all you want until the trams get into the depot, but try not to be naive. Mother Church defines herself as an institution. Sure you may treat the local ones Biblically, that is possible. It is possible to be inconsistent with the Institution but we can not make the mistake, there is this group of people called the Magisterium and you have to deal with them as the way they define themselves.

Carrie is right, when dealing with her, no one dares to speak for her but she herself. It does not matter if she contradicts herself, that by itself is not a crime. That for most part is irrelevant, sure it is serious but not as serious if her contradictions contradict Scripture itself. Yet, only then can you point the light by first assuming how she defines herself (and not how she should do it), and then show the definition of the Church. The Gospel defines the Church.

2. I was also replying to her in one of her comments here and in the course, I quoted from the blue Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does
my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth

Our help does come from the hills. The hill where our help comes has a name, it is called Calvary. It is from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Indeed, our help has come indeed. It is the same God who gave the Law, he is the same God who gives the help we need and no less than his very precious best, Jesus is his name. God does not help those who can help themselves, that would be superflous. In fact it is the reverse, he helps those who have no help... but him

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sleeper Cells

A long time ago, I was interacting with the moderator of the list that I still "hang out with" (virtually speaking) and we were on the subject of Protestant to RCC conversions. We were talking about the conversion of Cardinal John. H. Newman at that time.

The moderator happened to be a history buff. He said that in the 1800s it was not uncommon for people to think that prominent Protestants who convert to RCC must have been a Vatican in-plant. Newman must have been suspected as one of them. He said the whole design was to make a massive public impression to sway the Protestant world to kiss the Pope's ring and return 'home'.

In terrorism parlance, I think this is akin to 'sleeper cells'.

I imagine it works like this; first they inject the agent into the denomination (for example - Lutheranism). The agent then works hard to rise in prominence as staunch defender of their tradition (for example defender of Confessional Lutheran orthodoxy), i.e. the guy is known to be Mr. Gnesio_Lutheran himself(in case of Baptist, a Spurgeon resurrected, in case of Presbyterian a B. B. Warfield from the dead). Then at the height of glory/ popularity, convert to Rome. All the rest sees this and disillusionment happens. Impressive and brilliant strategy, won't you say?

This boils down to crypto-something. I do not think there are remaining crypto-Calvinists in Concordia Land. The reason is there is no reason to be there. They are no longer persecuted and no need to appear Lutheran when in fact Calvinist. They just leave with no hoopla. But what about crypto-Popers? You bet they are there. 100%. They often hide under the label - Confessional. Why of course, why would they not covet the label that opens doctrinal doors, why covet the label Liberal, who would take notice? Who would care, if the guy ain't orthodox anyway, what is to lose? But no, boy the word 'confessional', that gets the attention. Fr. Neuhaus that well known Lutheran church man identified himself as 'confessional' and now he is a loyal priest of Rome. I think one day 'confessional Lutheran' will mean -- 'I am on my way to the Vatican or Constantinople'. Sometimes I think I should drop that adjective. I have been called far worst names before, some of them not exactly true anyway, why would I care what people call me, I am a nerd.

It seems when these 'in-plants' are awakened (activated) and they go, you will find evidence that they were never convinced of JBFA in the first place. I will bet that very likely they were, if not now, crypto-Universalists too. See for example Neuhaus' wikepedia article of how he expresses hope in universal salvation.

In Concordia Land, I notice, crypto-Poping and crypto-Universalism go hand in hand. Seems to me, you start doing crypto-Poping when JBFA is no longer your thing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A pain in the you know where

I am nerdier than 96% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

My missus often says when I am blogging ...

OK, who are you going to upset this time?

It goes with being a nerd I guess. I always suspected that I might be one, it is now confirmed.

Nerds are not known for being tactful, they are just stupidly blunt at times. Nerds don't know that being honest with their thoughts is not always wise.

I need to get healed of this nerdisitis. Somebody please lay his hand on me and pray (LOL).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tradition Deprived

There has been some studies that show young kids in the Western Anglo-Saxon world are experiencing Liturgical Revival. For example, see this UPI report. I can imagine, as young people get tired of the emotional propping ups that happen in our beloved Evangelia, they will soon find it "cool" to be liturgical.

I won't find it surprising. Back home, a church I knew and visited started as your normal garden variety non-denominational Charismatic Church, it has now turned Episcopal and is even now aligned with the RCC.

This may be cause for rejoicing for those traditionalists that are in liturgical churches (Lutherans included). I have read some elations already.

But wait, just before you pop the champagne and swing to the theology of glory, have you read the report of Christian Smith?

According to this book, young people today are becoming Spiritual. Please get it, try not to read this to mean that they are becoming Christian. Smith's thesis is that young people today are into deistic, moralistic, therapeutic spirituality.

Where do you get a feeling of being 'spiritual'? You can get that kind of feeling by going through a religious ritual - one of which is the motion of going through a formal liturgy.

Young kids in the West no longer have tradition of any sort. What I mean is that they do not even have any "social" traditions at all. For example, try throwing them a birthday party and ask them to make a speech after blowing their cake candle. Have you noticed how they squirm? They like everything informal. They would rather elope than get engaged, getting engaged involves making speeches. They like to live-in than get married, getting married is so so formal, it mucks their style because that calls for some social ritual to be performed.

This traditional deprivation has a side effect. Starved of having nothing to expect in anything specially like in their relationships, they are starving for ritual. Their options generation gave them that - options - meaning they do not have to do anything -- and they often don't.

So just in case they turned up for Divine Service, just be half-happy, try not to let your joy be full. Because, they may not be there because of the Gospel, they could be there just to satisfy their tradition-depraved spirituality.

They could be looking for something "cool". They could be there for the feeling of being spiritual because they have gone through a liturgy. They could be there because of JBWA (Justification By Works Also).

I am not into liturgy as evangelism, I think I am rather for catechism as evangelism (if you ask me).

The missus suggested that we should wear a T-shirt emblazoned by the words "I will catechize you". Sounds like a good idea to me.