Thursday, December 20, 2018

The sad curse of the Walther Cult

These quotes are taken from the work of the Rev. Dr. Karl Edwin Kuenzel.

I blogged about this in here

The fanatical adoration of CF W Walther in American Lutheranism is astoundingly cultic already, so here are the results of Dr. Kunzel's evaluation:

Walther was a tremendous leader, a dynamic preacher, a powerful lecturer, and a remarkable writer. However, lest we wind up worshipping the man, as many had done with Martin Stephan, and perhaps some do with Luther, we need to be mindful of some of Walther’s deficiencies.
Walther was legalistic when it came to the matters of usury, dancing and going to the theater, life insurance, running a tavern, in-law marriage (e.g., a man marrying the sister of his deceased wife), geographical parish boundaries, the local congregation, and the pastoral office. He often made his position as if it were Scripturally based and therefore God-given doctrine, when, in fact, he was going beyond what the Bible says and turning matters of casuistry into untenable doctrines.
Not only did Walther use terms that were readily misunderstood by others, but another cause for his naevi [faults], according to his student August Pieper, was that Walther depended too heavily on the secondary sources of theology, i.e., Luther and the lesser fathers. In spite of all his emphasis on Scripture, there can be no denying this. Although Walther was a great and a very talented leader, he was a poor, even an inferior exegete. He had only an average knowledge of the original biblical languages. Frequently he would cite dozens of Bible passages merely because Luther and the dogmaticians had done so. Yet these passages did not prove what they were supposed to prove. Although very eager to express himself on matters, he failed to recognize that his position was based on translations and not on the original text. Thus, he could say something as if it were doctrinally true, but without a firm scriptural basis. Overall, the knowledge of Scripture that Walther had was more an intimate acquaintance with Luther’s Bible and knowledge of certain passages rather than knowledge of the whole line of thought of a biblical book and of the original text.
Note: The conclusion is that he was a fantastic quoter but a poor and weak exegete who could not read the original Biblical text. As we can read, seems like he had an opinion about any spiritual matter, "eager to express himself on matters". There are plenty of these cultic types of people who can even quote Scripture from memory but when analyzed deeper, it is off.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Faith is never a work, whatsoever

Faith is never a work, if we are talking about the faith in Christ mentioned in the Scriptures.
Those who say or claim it is, are doing a number on you.
This is a straw man fallacy.

In Romans 4:16, it says "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace..."
The Bible does not say nor imply at any time that your faith in Christ is something you have generated out of your shear self.

If you are saved through faith, says St Paul in Romans 4, then you are saved by grace. Faith in Christ is always according to grace.

If your saved by your faith then so say the straw man accusers - then you can have faith in your faith. Faith in Christ cannot be faith in something else, by the definition of Scripture. Stick to that definition, the accuser is doing a fallacy he himself does not recognize he is making.

If you say I have decided to believe in Jesus, then you are just fooling yourself, your faith is not a decision you cannot decide about Jesus dying for you. You can deny it and so claim that God is a liar but when you are convinced by it, the HS produced it on you.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Perfect Family?

I wish I have or I wish I came from a perfect family, but I don't.

So maybe we can look to the Bible to find a perfectly happy family? There seems to be none.

Cain killed Abel, his brother. Abraham and Sarah for a while lapsed in faith producing Ishmael and Isaac and some trace the conflict in the middle east from this. Jacob swindled Esau his brother, Esau rejected the gift offered by his father.

We can see this also in the children of judges and priests in the OT.  Aaron's sons violated the Law and offered strange fire. God slew them, I thought of how Aaron would have felt about this.

Perhaps in the Lord's home? We hear his brothers did not believe in him. John 7:5. That does not suggest everything is honky dory there.

When I look at families less complex than mine, I get tempted to violate the 10th commandment, I covet what the family of others. I would say I wish that I have that kind of family.

It is time to look at the Scripture and hope for the real family in heaven.

Monday, January 08, 2018

One of the best sermons I heard last year.

It was not really the sermon of the pastor. I came in a few minutes after the preacher started his sermon and I was enjoying the words coming out of the pulpit. At the end, he revealed that he was reading Luther's sermon. He said he did not know what to preach and so he took one of Luther's sermons out and chose to read it to the congregation. I was so blessed he did that.

This provided food for thought to me. Honestly, I am disappointed at the sermons I hear from pastors here. Most of the time they wander off from the text of Scripture and I wind up wondering what on earth happened in that preaching moment.

It is dawning on me what Dr. Greg Jackson has been saying, that Luther is still a reliable preacher and we can count on getting meat from his works if we feel starved for good exposition of God's word. Thank God Pr. Greg has decided to publish Luther's Sermon works.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I do not believe in empirical science, I only believe in apriori truth

Kurt Gödel on the left

The above was a quote from Kurt Godel, my favourite mathematical logician. Many people do not know about this man but his discovery of profound mathematical truth is more earth shattering than what was attributed to Einstein in the realm of physics. Besides, his life was not dogged by allegations of plagiarism unlike that of Einstein's special and general theory of relativity, in which some alleged he copied this without attribution from several physicists.

Gödel is known for his 1st and 2nd Incompleteness Theorem which has application to philosophy and theology.

Anyway, my point is the quote and why I too agree with Gödel.

Science relies on empirical and physical observations for its facts. In this regard, like other mathematicians, I do not believe mathematics is part of science. If at all I view it as part of philosophy. The second part of the quote, on apriori truth, is what is lacking in science. Here Gödel meant axioms. What are axioms? These are statements that are accepted to be obviously true. Its truth is established in the inherent nature of what language suggest. An example of an axiom is this - A or NOT A. Either A is true or NOT A is true. It cannot be both. This is obviously true.

I hate to break this but there are no axioms in Physics or in any branch of Science. The so called physical laws are formulated by observation but they are not universally established.

The strongest we can see in physics that comes close to an axiom is causality - Cause precedes the effect and never the reverse.

First, at best this is a philosophical principle we can agree, but at worst is the idea that the reverse cannot happen. In other words, this law does not allow for "if and only if" relationship. 

Let us illustrate, If Charles is a father, then he must have a child. But having a child by Charles by default, then Charles has become a father too. Here two things happened, and the cause became an effect as well. 

Because there are no axioms in the sciences, that is, there are no self-evident true statements, science is not stable. It cannot be your absolute source of truth, it cannot be the absolute arbiter of a situation. It cannot have the last say.

This is the reason why science keeps updating its pronouncements. Remember, the time when doctors said salt is bad for you, which again doctors saying, yes it is good etc. etc.

This is not to say that I will not use some of what science says, like take my medicines. What it does mean is that it cannot be your God, it can be your slave, but never your Divine Maker.

Often, when I see statements made by people hailing science and thus, scientism, I suspect the individual has no inkling how science and so called scientists work.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Why I am sceptical of science and scientists

You might think this strange because if you know me I work in academia most of the time and since I dabble in mathematics you would think that I should not be negative towards science, for after all isn't mathematics a part of science?

In large science faculties, it is true that mathematics is part of the science faculty but I do not think mathematics is part of science. Science deals with observations of phenomena in our world. From, particulars it abstracts to the general. Science deals then with induction.

Mathematics does not deal with induction, it does not look at particulars and then infer to the general. No, mathematics deal with deduction, from the general we go down to particulars. In this regard, I think really that mathematics should be part of philosophy.

We do not sample every triangle we could find, measure their internal angles to be a total of 180 degrees and assert that all triangles have an internal angle of 180 degrees. We use logical proofs starting from axioms.

Today science enjoys a celebrity status. If you want to gain the trust of people just tack on the word "science" into what you are doing. So we have library science, meat science, dairy science and game science and what not. The field I work in my consulting is "Data Science". Funny but I went to a conference last month and a leading practitioner in the field, a professor himself, complained that there is no "science" in data science.

The world has evolved to the point that science is operating like a religion. What is awful is that it is operating like a cult as well. In the age of the Internet, things have evolved and it is easy to be arrogant and know it all. Because the Internet gives one a capacity to be semi-anonymous, people are happy to be rude and insulting to those who disagree with them. It is easy now to express without hesitation one's disdain for a fellow who might be slow in catching one's level of knowledge.

Here are my reasons ordered by importance

1. It does not always work. The reason is that when scientists observe, they are only observing a sample of a phenomenon and when one produces generalisations from these, it by default left out some parts of the phenomenon. Today the approach taken by computer scientist in doing Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to abandon the idea of deterministic certainty, but embrace and live with uncertainty and work on probabilities. Ask yourself, does the science you believe in behave in an arrogant certainty?  AI computer scientists have chucked the idea that something can be determined with certainty from the world. So the models they create for a phenomenon using AI are probabilistic. 

2. Most scientists today have no training in philosophy. I worked for a while in computer science and the computer scientists I have encountered have no appreciation of the role philosophy plays in their craft.If they are not scared of it, they either consider it as useless or indifferent towards it. The same is true in physical science. Steven Hawking said philosophy is dead. No offence but I think Hawking and I will be long gone and philosophy will be around. This is bad science and bad scholarship. The reason why we have this situation of science acting like religion is that philosophers have allowed them to roam, be arrogant and unchecked.

For example, the issue of causality vs correlation. When I went back to statistics, my colleagues and textbooks reminded me that correlation does not imply causation.
This is illustrated in a Chinese saying:
Does the flowers blooming bring about spring? Or does spring bring about the blooming of the flowers? You might think it is the latter for sure - but think and pause for a moment. It is an epistemological question - meaning - how to we know something is true or real..

Also this - is there only one way of explaining a physical phenomenon? Should we entrust our lives and our view of the world into the what scientists say?

Here is one quote from a philosopher of science about science...

Even though some scientists and many pseudo-scientists voice their allegiance to that (scientific) method, no modern philosopher of science would be unaware of at least some of its shortcomings. Modern developments in the philosophy of science have pinpointed and stressed deep-seated difficulties associated with the idea that science rests on a sure foundation acquired through observation and experiment and with the idea that there is some kind of inference procedure that enables us to derive scientific theories from such base in a reliable way. There is just no method that enables scientific theories to be proven true or even probably true.

                                                      ---- A. F Chalmers (What is This Thing Called Science)

Maybe I am influenced too much by the mathematician I admire and respect who said...

I do not believe in empirical science, I only believe in a priori truth.
                                                            - Kurt Godel

Later I will add more, like my thesis that scientists are not altruistic people who are also influenced by personal agenda using science to advance their goal.
Please remind me.

Monday, May 15, 2017

So I saw the film The Case For Christ

My big impression on this? Respect. I respect the spirit of in which this film was made. Some of the points that I would like to make are the following:

  • This film is as much the story of Leslie, the wife of Lee. Here we see the persecution experienced by a Christian wife living with a non-Christian husband.
  • The parallel story of Lee's work on the Hicks case along with his investigation of the validity of the Christian claim I thought made the film more than a re-enactment of an evangelical testimony.
  • There is much we can learn on the way the film depicted the interviews Lee made with professional NT scholars, historians, and scientists, some of whom are non-Christian themselves.
  • The role of providence in the life of a Christian.

Finally, there is a suggestion of a mild decisional theology in the film. Though I myself no longer practice this "accepting Jesus into your heart" by way of the "sinner's prayer". I seem to recall somewhere the wisdom of Martin Luther who said somewhere, to words to this effect -- the person asking God in prayer already believes, that is to say, the person already believes in Christ, before he even asks God to move on his behalf. We should ask God to save us after all. The focus, fair enough, should not be in our act of asking but the God who saves those who call upon his name.

We do not have to be triumphalistic and be offended at all in that.