Saturday, March 31, 2012

Col 2:13-14 a UOJ Text? Tertium non datur once again.

Over at so called Luther Quest, Mr. Joe Krohn (LutherRocks), a JBFAer and Mr. Jim Pierce of Confessional Bytes, a UOJer, had an interchange.

In that interchange, Jim Pierce employed Colossians 2:13-15, to prove that this passage teaches the forgiveness of the whole world, without faith, prior to faith before we were born. I quote Mr. Pierce in one comment said...

If you deny that the sins of the whole world have been forgiven on account of the blood sacrifice of Christ, then you have likely fallen into error regarding the atonement. That is, you must reject that Christ has made full satisfaction for the debt of sins for the whole world. Here the debt of sin is defined for us by Paul in the epistle to the Colossians:

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him" (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV).
After Joe replied saying the context of that passage refers to believers, Jim replied with

I understand that the greater context of the Colossians quotation is directed at believers. However, the text I cite to you deals with the sins of the world. If that is not true, as you assert, then you are left defending a version of limited atonement, which I know you do not want to do, but it is inescapable. Deny that the cancellation of the record of debt, by nailing it to the cross, is universal and you are left with the cancellation of debt only being for some and namely only the elect.

In my study, I find this doctrine of universal objective justification, truly a peculiar doctrine found amongst synodic Lutherans in USA. This doctrine teaches that the whole human race has been declared righteous (effectively forgiven) already even before any of them (humans) ever believed in Christ or not. Faith has nothing to do with this declaration, so they say. In fact if I recall in that interchange, one UOJer opposing Joe Krohn even confessed that Sodom and Gomorrah were forgiven (hence, declared righteous) too. I grin since I recall that God told Abraham if He found 10 righteous people there he would not destroy the twin cities.

Thankfully there are some pastors and theologians who oppose this UOJ teaching on Justification.

Jim homed in on the phrase " having forgiven us all our trespasses" (v.13-14). His contention is the "us" there refers to all human beings and he asserts that if you do not believe like he does, you are guilty of being a Calvinist, believing in Limited Atonement. Is this true?

Let me examine this claim using a fine tooth comb, called Scripture interprets Scripture, a Lutheran method which is axiomatic for handling the Word of God rightly. Please note, you do not need the Greek here (though I can deal with it if you want me too).

First the said passage obviously is preceded by verses 8 - 12. Note that the pronoun "you" (the Colossians St. Paul is addressing), refers to believers, in fact St. Paul mentions they have been circumcised with Christ through their being baptised. Did St Paul mean by the word "us" the whole human race, of which he and the Colossians are included? Or did St. Paul mean by that pronoun, he and the Colossians as Christians since they all both got baptised and have believed in Christ? Is it not obvious that St. Paul was baptised like them? If you have doubts read Acts where St. Paul got baptised. Because the "you" refers to the Colossians, the "us" must be taken in the sense of "us" baptised believers in Christ.

Now, wait, do not be in hurry to label this Limited Atonement, we will get to that shortly.

Let me proceed further.

Observe a few things. In this passage St. Paul speaks nailing it to the cross. The "it" refers back to the demands of the Law - the demand to be punished for your debt, your sins. Notice this crucifixion language. St. Paul often adopts this co-crucified language in many of his letters. For example in Galatians, St. Paul said this of himself, Gal 2:20I am crucified with Christ. When did this crucifixion happen to him? When was St. Paul crucified? See Romans 6:6, at his baptism.

The point here then is that the time when God nailed the demands of the Law against us was when we got baptised! It was not before we got baptised, it was at that point when we got baptised, so says Scripture. Thus the forgiveness St. Paul speaks of here is at the point when the Means of Grace was applied to us by the HS - at our baptism.

What Jim Pierce is espousing is that people are forgiven before and without the Means of Grace. Yet when we use Scripture to interpret Scripture it is conclusive that - in this example, a person once baptised is attached to Christ, buried, dead, crucified with Christ. Clearly and obviously, in some sense, the Law has no more claim on a person who is dead. The IRS and the ATO can not keep going to cemeteries demanding payment for unpaid taxes. These taxation bureaus are writing off the tax debt of dead people, they must, because who do they run after?

Thus the forgiveness St. Paul was speaking of in Colossians happened at the point of their baptism.

So let us deal with Pierce's claim that if you do not believe his interpretation you must slide to Limited Atonement. There are so many fallacies in this assertion. It is tertium non datur, meaning, no third alternative. It is also the slippery slope fallacy.

Now, if this is the only passage we have in the Scripture, one may be sympathetic to Jim's claim, but is this all the teaching we have from Scripture? No, we have 1 John 2:1-2, 1 Tim 2:6 etc. These passages teach no Limited Atonement. Hence, once again as per normal I have found again severe fallacies in the claims of UOJers.

In fact in my study of UOJ, no UOJer who has come before him ever gave the passage as a support for UOJ. Jim was being creative in throwing this passage as support for UOJ but it does not avail.

In the end what does the Colossian passage teach? Forgiveness happens through the Means of Grace .......ONLY. Note, I did not say forgiveness happes through the Means of Grace. (period), I said -- Forgiveness happens through the Means of Grace .......ONLY.

Monday, March 19, 2012

One wonders why there are still atheists today

It is a wonder why today there are still atheists around. When one looks at the advancements in astronomy, physics and mathematics it is remarkable how they are still around. Most people of scientific and atheistic persuasion are now turning agnostic. I still see of course atheists with utter hatred for theists. These people come from a Positivist outlook. If that term is foreign to you, please do a wikipaedia search on the word. Briefly it is someone who needs empirical evidence in order to know something exists or is true.

Positivism is now passe. People in the social science and education
disciplines are now going post-Modern, and by that it means Modernism of the Positivist outlook has been bunked. The only ones hanging around atheism are generally people who have swallowed the faulty arguments of either Richard Dawkins or Stephen Hawking.

Most of the arguments I have seen from today's atheists are not intellectual arguments, they are more emotional arguments rather than intellectual. Normally they do not argue but they ridicule, mock and demean the theist. As and example the the late Anthony Flew (well known atheist of the last decade), a well known atheist turned theist gave a fair and penetrating critique of Dawkins' God Delusion book. What arguments did Dawkins and his gang give for Flew's arguments? Well Dawkins and his gang said that Flew had a mental disorder when Flew became a theist. Is that an argument? You will find that the discussion on this quickly goes down the gutter road of offensive psychoanalysis - read Flew's counter found here.

Then there are those lay people and scientists (but not physicists nor astronomers and mathematicians) who follow Stephen Hawkings' statements in Grand Design. In fact there are fellow physicists who criticized Hawkings' conclusions in Grand Design and these people are hardly theists themselves. Examples would be Roger Penrose and Australian physicist Paul Davies. Books like this sell but not to fellow physicists but to the lay person who would like to see justification for the none existence of God.

One somewhat funny incident I recall was the interview of Hawkings' co-author, Leonard Mlodinow at Larry King Live. One of those interviewed pointed to Mlodinow, Godel's Theorems. Briefly one of Godel's theorems is that in a formal system that includes arithmetic, you will have true statements that have no proofs in arithmetic. Since we use arithmetic in our world of affairs, that implies we have true statements that we have no proof in our world of affairs. Mlodinow countered - ohh, but Godel's theorems pertain to axiomatic systems, physics is not like that, it is empirical and not axiomatic.

We can grin. We all know physics uses arithmetic, in fact it uses geometry which uses arithmetic, in fact physics uses calculus (analysis) which uses geometry which presupposes arithmetic. Mlodinow clearly does not appreciate the findings of Godel or he is a bit naive if not ignorant of the implications made by Godel's theorems.

Godel like almost all mathematicians believe in the validity of intuitions or intuitive truths. Mathematicians do that all the time when they accept an axiom or rule of inference. The majority of mathematicians are platonists not fictionalists or nominalist. Certainly Godel never accepted the notion that maths is just syntax. The proof of God is very intuitive. It is simple.

Something can not come out of nothing.

If you ask me who is believing a myth, I would say NOT those that believe in God, because the statement above is obvious, common sense and intuitive. The one who really believes in a myth is someone who believes that something CAN come out of nothing. This is the one who believes in a myth.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A proof for the existence of God

I am just having some rest and recreation, my doctor says I must rest after they placed a stent in one of my heart arteries. What an irony, the one that is supposed to be giving me health (food) is the one that is killing me.

Here goes the proof....consider the following sentences:
1.) God exists
2.) None of the sentences in this pair is true.

Let us call sentence 1 and 2 as G and N respectively. Then we have the following conjunction of sentences as a pair, G & N.

Now G or N may be true or false, we do not know which is which.

Assume first that N is true. If so, then we have a contradiction because there is supposed to be no sentence in the pair that is true, and so the value of G is irrelevant. Whatever it is G & N is inconsistent.

Assume now that N is false. If so, then the negation of N means at least one of the pair is true. Since there are only two sentences, G and N and we know N is false, it must be G that is true.

Thus in order for statement G & N to make sense or for it to be consistent, G must be true.

Hence G is true or God exists.

This is my elaboration of Buridan's Proof of the existence of God.