Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why faith gets a bum rap?

I noticed that Dr. Ichabod blog about how faith becomes a four letter word here.

Yes, I wondered about this phenomenon of making faith a foul word.

I came from a Charismatic background and I know how the concept of faith has been abused in that circle. For example, faith is seen as a force. Prosperity teachers spoke of faith that way. It is like an infused stuff. Since they have been influenced heavily by Arminian Evangelicalism, Charismatics in general believe that everyone has faith, even the pagans and it is just a matter of exercising it or not. It can be turned on or off. Though my Charismatic friends may affirm it is a gift, it is not really in practice.

Take now a look at Pieper said about faith:

"I would eliminate faith as a requirement that makes justification true. That would be making faith a work of mine." Franz August Otto Pieper, A Final Word,
This is the type of overstating the case that gives faith a bad rap.

Really Dr. Pieper? What about Mk 16:16? Peiper makes a non-sequitur fallacy, aside from what Dr. Maier pointed out in his paper - a tertium non datur fallacy too.

Indeed faith is a requirement, a condition! However, it is a condition that God meets for you the sinner by creating it in you through the Word and/or Sacraments. He does not give this gift without using means. It does not drop from the sky and zaps you neither is it something inside you such that you must pedal in your own steam to generate it. Like the Gospel - faith is EXTRA NOS. From the outside it comes to you. That is the payload of the Gospel (sorry for my little unsanctified way of saying it).

So a few observations I make from say Eph 2:8-9 and Heb 12:2
  1. It is a gift from God not internal to us.
  2. It is not a work, you cannot work it such that you can produce it.
  3. The author of your faith in the Gospel is Jesus
  4. It cannot boast and if it can, then it is not the faith spoken of by the Bible.

I think what was happening during Walther's time and Pieper's time was that they have been surrounded by revivalism which uses faith like a tool and they wanted to correct this abuse. However, this wrong should have been corrected through the the Scripture of which the BoC expounds well specially on faith. It cannot be corrected by going off the other way.

Oops I criticized Dr. Pieper, a UOJ proponent. That is a no no.

One thing I notice with Pentecostal preachers and pastors. The moment you question the pastor, immediately the pastor gets offended and also his members too get offended with him and so watch out. They will no longer be your friend. You will be shunned like the plague. What can I say? Words like "immature and insecure" come to my mind.

I notice this type of behaviour is present amongst UOJ pastors too. They are quick to say that the anti-UOJers are wrong, they are quick to fly off with remarks of heresy and false doctrine etc. It is a type of bullying if you ask me. So what happens? Instead of people getting closer to the truth, having dialogue, the situation becomes a political play on people's affections.

My case in point is Dr. Maier's paper. That paper was written in a scholarly manner and I have found it to be well argued and well researched. His exegesis was not even peculiar. Yet did anyone take his thesis and work with it? Nope.

Is the Christian served well in this way? I doubt it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Tips to the Calvinist Becoming Lutheran

If you were like me, I was a Charismaniac Calvinistic Evangelical - who had no confession. Deep down inside I knew the problem was this - what should I confess? Because frankly, my confession at that time came from the kitchen. It did not come from the study room.

If you are one of those who walked the same path as I did, here are some tips for the trip, based on my experience.

Don't start off reading some Lutheran theologian like Walther and Pieper. Not that they do not have useful things to say, and not that one can not learn from them, but the issue for you is not what this or that theologian said. Because at the end of the day, you will not be signing your name on the books they have written. At the end of the day, you will have to sign your name to a confessional statement.

I know, I know, some give you the impression that Walther's and Pieper's books etc are part of the BoC, and they appear as if they have signed thier names on the Synodical Father's books. But let us be honest, their books are not part of the Book of Concord.

Most Calvinists who turn Lutheran almost invariably become a fan of the Synodical Fathers, they get loved and get considered to be their hero. For after all why would a Calvinist read a Lutheran theologian if in the first place, he/she did not have anything already bothering the conscience? Mind you these Fathers do have a lot to say about the perils of Calvinistic theology. They pinpoint well the ills of Calvinism. Saying they are anti-Calvinists is an under statement. So for a Calvinist who is already sad about the uncertainty brought about by that theology, reading the Fathers seems like having a liberator releasing you from the jail of mental anguish, and depression, the misery induced by uncertainty . Their reputation of being anti-Calvinists are so strong amongst (what is called - repeat-after-me) Lutherans that a Lutheran questioning these Fathers is immediately branded - guess what - a Calvinists! (I wanted to say I laugh my ___ off, but this blog is rated G).

There was a time when I was bothering more with some books other than the BoC, finally I slapped myself in the head and I said - you must go through the process. The process is the BoC first! Is the Lutheran confession Biblical? That is the question on the table. I said to myself I have no right reading this or that book if I have not answered the question about the BoC. That is why today I do not have lots of books authored by Lutheran theologians. I got delayed by the BoC. I have a few but not a lot.

So as you read and listen to say Issues Etc. never forget to take the Bible in your left hand and take the BoC on your right. Then start scrutinizing what the BoC says compared to Scripture. Spend time doing that. For my case I went to the heart of the whole thing - Justification like that found in the Apology Article IV. I would also read what the BoC says on Original Sin, Repentance, Free Will, Election etc. I cannot part with my Tappert BoC because it is heavily annotated with my notes, incidentally the red covering has turned to white, due to handling.

Why do I say go to the BoC first? Because IMHO if we do not go to the Confession, then we will be repeating the mess we found ourselves in and then all over again. It is again sailing through the high seas with a ship that has no rudder. Also when controversies explode, and they will, you will not know where to stand. You will have a pastor dictating to you and ruling over your conscience. So we are back again, in the same mess.

It is a great shame, if someone can quote what the Synodical Fathers said, but that someone does not have a clue as to what the BoC said. It is a great shame too is to endorse the BoC and not have read it. That would be terrible too.

Let me share with you what the late Reformed theologian H O J Brown said. He said that between Calvinism and Lutheranism, Calvinism has produced more heresies than Lutheranism (but who knows, it may be catching up). You can read this in his book - Heresies. Brown was impressed that when the BoC came out 8,000 pastors and thelogians signed it.

One more thing. Whereas in Calvinism, you see regional confessions, you won't find that in Lutheranism. In Calvinism you have confessions like Heidelberg, Belgic, Helvetic, Westminster, Savoy Confessions. Notice how many confessions there are? You have none of this in Lutheranism. There is no such thing. It does not matter which country you come from, if you cannot in good conscience endorse the BoC as correct exposition of Scripture - then you are not a Lutheran (at least not Confessional that is).

Lastly, where does the BoC shine? In its exposition of Justification By Faith Alone.

God bless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Filipinas by Trio Los Panchos

Continuing on with some more cultural postings. I am featuring Los Panchos.

When as a boy who wandered around Manila (in a section called Dapitan to be exact), I heard of the songs on the radio made popular by the Los Panchos. Quizas, quizas, quizas. Amapola. Sabor a mi. It was in the 60s and I was too young to understand of course the enjoyment experienced by the grown ups around me. Searching around the web, I discovered that this Mexican group (actually one is from PR), composed a song about Filipinas. Another Indio (what the Spaniards called us) blogged about it here.

This is my translation of the song which I gave to my children (I would appreciate corrections of course):

Filipinas, mi madre adorada
Filipinas, my adorable mother

Del mundo admirada, por su resplandor
Admired by the world, because of its splendor

Filipinas, mi novia encantada
Filipinas, my enchanted sweetheart

La tierra que ofrece respeto y calor
The land that offers courtesy and warmth

Filipinas, princesa de oriente
Filipinas, princess of the orient

Tú eres la estrella que orienta mi amor
You are the star that guides my love

Filipinas, la tierra de mi amor
Filipinas the land of my love

Tus hijos te adoran
Your children adore you

Te ofrecen la sangre de su corazón
They give you the blood of their heart.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mexico y Filipinas, hermanas nacionales

Only in the last year did I realize that the two countries were very very close. It was the missus who told me about this. I was shocked to hear that Filipinas and Mexico were like one country separated only by the seas. She highlighted this to me as part of her research into the effects of colonization to a country's psyche and education. I knew the Spanish soldiers that went to Filipinas were first assigned to Mexico, but I did not realize there was more to that. Our history books never spoke of this very close relationship with the Mexicans. I hope the few Filipinos who visit this blog may get to realize what their history books neglected to tell them.

As a tribute, here is Thalia, a Mexican singer, singing a Filipino song when she was in Manila - "I am here".

Muchachos, no sabía que estábamos como hermanos.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why Piper invited Warren - Jonathan Edwards

Dr. John Piper is hailed to be the popular hero of young Calvinists of today. In my days in Calvinia, I was a fan too, until I learned about Law and Gospel and I am no more. Read about my critique of his Desiring God - Hedonistic Christianity here. Read some more in here.

Piper is getting flak from his fans for inviting Rick Warren to his Desiring God conference. Look at this video, the long version here .

Why did Piper invite Warren to his conference? Because Warren has been reading Jonathan Edwards, the Revivalist of long ago, since Piper is a fan of Edwards, there you go. This shows you that when Enthusiasm becomes the common cause, people get together. This is why Calvinism does not work because it is Enthusiastic and Experiential. It is the experience that unites rather than the confession. I wrote about Edwards' famous sermon here. Sadly the most famous sermon has only Law, no Gospel.

The more I think about Calvinism, I conclude it is shaky. In fact, I think it is a big contributor to the mess and instability that present Evangelicalism finds itself in. If you think Walther and Co. is the answer, think again. It does not solve it.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Favoring KJV on Rom 3:25

In the KJV of this passage, we read Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.

Most modern translations do not have this reading, they leave off in his blood away from faith even though in the original Greek word order, KJV is the most accurate.

For example in the ESV, we get this whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Notice, how the ESV moved his blood closer to propitiation, technically differing from the KJV. What is the reason for this? Well, the ESV translators following others do not want the readers to put their faith in the material blood of Jesus, that red liquid part of the human body.

IMHO, the KJV is quite accurate here which brings me why I posted the picture of the late Aussie NT Scholar Dr. Leon Morris. Many years ago, I went to converse with Dr. Morris in his Donvale home, a suburb of Melbourne. I got to discuss this thing about the "blood" of Jesus with him when he agreed to be interviewed. He said to me, that whenever you read "blood" in the NT, it does not suggest per se the material blood the flows from the body. He said, each time you read it, equate it with "death". The KJV is not suggesting the material blood per se that is the object of faith, but the death of Jesus as faith's object. Hence, properly understood the KJV does a very good service of pointing the reader to the death of Jesus.

In my readings, when people speak of believing in Jesus, faith in Jesus etc., what is exactly neglected is what is it in Jesus one should believe? This is the reason why in my last interaction here, I asked what exactly is the object of faith? In Romans 3:25, the object is the death of Jesus, that his death is payment for our sins. That is the object of faith as taught by Romans 3:25.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Broome's Japanese Connection

As you know I have been sharing with you my trip to North Western Australia. Many Australians do not know this but Broome, its main town, has a Japanese connection.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s Japanese pearl divers where brought in to Australia to help in the pearling industry of Broome.

Some of the pearl divers died due to drowning or what the called diver's paralysis.

Some of the Japanese also died in the cyclones and their bodies are buried here in Broome's Japanese cemetery.

As you can see there is not a few of them.

The tombstones used are those of the sandstones found in Broome's beaches.

Some of the families of these Japanese pearl divers settled in Australia and have intermarried with those with Aboriginal or European heritage. So from time to time I have seen people with Asian features but are quite tanned/dark.

This cemetery is still used today by those people with Japanese ancestry. Those who have stayed behind.

I noticed that these tombstones face the setting sun, the west. Yet the Chinese cemetery near by has its tombstones face the east, the rising sun. I want to ask Augustinian Successor about this, why is that noticeable difference?

This cemetery has only 2 Japanese Christians buried here. Here is one of them and it is fairly recent at that. His grave is located at the back part of the cemetery, alone.