Tuesday, November 22, 2005

James 2 vs Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Does James 2 deny justification through faith alone? Here is a very comprehensive treatment of the subject.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shot in the Foot 2

We modern evangelical and pentecostal pride ourselves for having no creed but the Bible. We pride ourselves as having no tradition and no religion. The interesting part is if this rallying cry of 'no religion' is still Christianity - it may be different.

Firstly the a-creedal (that means no creed) philosophy of evangelicals/ pentecostals makes the movement very vulnerable to erroneous teaching. They do have statements of faith but they are very brief indeed such that any preacher/ teacher who does not hit upon items in the statement of faith will be acceptable. Here is where erroneous teaching can creep in because any Tom/Dick and Harry will be ok too so long as he/she is not blatantly counter their statement of faith - the major items.

An example of this is the idea of having faith in one's faith. Sometimes there is a default mode present specially among young people that places faith in one's believing, that is - placing one's good standing with God because they believe or their faith is carrying them through. This makes faith a work, something again inside us. The creeds already warned against this tendency a long time ago. For example the Belgic Confession Article 23

However, we do not mean, properly speaking, that it is faith itself that justifies us-- for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness.
But Jesus Christ is our righteousness in making available to us all his merits and all the holy works he has done for us and in our place. And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits.

This is just an example that is of subtle nature. But what about the modern therapeutic messages one gets from the pulpit? One can ask, is Christianity about victorious living?

This lack of appreciation for creeds is part of being a-historical (no need to study history). I am almost certain that when I pick any young people in church today, they would not be able to recite the Apostle's Creed. Today evangelicals/ pentecostals find unity and oneness with each other based on one's spiritual experience i.e being born again etc., rather than a common message. The a-historical mentality is really a modern worldly attitude found in today's society. Creeds are viewed traditional, religious, old and irrelevant.

There is a saying "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it", specially the erroneous part or the bad part of history. The evangelical/ pentecostal should see their a-historical and a-creedal attitude not a strength but may well be a weakness, it is a shot in the foot too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Shot In the Foot

We paint ourselves in a corner when we claim infallibility for ourselves. The teaching of original sin is that sin has so marred our core that we are dead and can not respond to God such that it takes God to come to us in mercy and revive our mind and heart for us to come to him. This teaching does not deny that man can pray, read the Bible, do good deeds that is not what is meant. It means though that all works of righteousness are filthy rags in God's sight. It would be good works done from impure hearts. Man does not only need help, he is spiritually dead that he needs to be resurrected in spirit.

The practical outworking of original sin (as I see it) is that it keeps us on our toes. Original sin is not done away by conversion, it inheres in the believer. The unbeliever is sinner only but the Christian is a believing sinner (he is both sinful and holy at the same time). It is a safe teaching that helps the Christian not to value himself highly than he should.

The RC teaching of Papal/Magisterial Infallibility is not practical and flies against the teaching of Scripture - that men are liars. It does not see the possibility in practice that they can be led astray by their leaders. RCs always believe the the RC magisterium will always be guided by the HS, no matter what happens. What about Acts 20:26-30?

The RCC paints itself in a corner when it attributes something to the hierarchy what is meant to be attributed to God, like infallibility. This I think, is the reason why there are Sedevantarians who believe the RCC has betrayed Council of Trent and Vatican I. Put it this way, if in their hearts they believed they were wrong in excommunicating the protestants, through the Council of Trent, they could not simply retract their damnable pronouncements. That would mean they are not infallible as the doctrine says. So what to do? Just redefine the meaning of words and come up with Vatican II. More inconsistency. When you are infallible, the command to repent is not applicable to you. This locks you inside a room whose keys no knows what happened.

It is like falling on a quick sand, the more you move, the more you sink. It is a shot in the foot - as some say.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Luther's Prayer - The Fight of Faith

I heard this prayer recited by a Lutheran minister and it so touched my heart. I felt crying for this prayer embodies the struggle we have in living life in this sin stained earth. As my pastor Neil said - Life gets harder as it gets longer. The Christian has enemies headed by the devil followed by the world and aided by the flesh. Our enemy always seeks to overthrow us in our faith in Christ. Hear this prayer and be blessed as you identify with Luther's fight of faith.

Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Curb those who feign by craft and sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.

Lord Jesus Christ Thy Power make known
For thou art Lord of lords alone
Defend thy Christendom that we
may ever sing praise to Thee.

O Comforter of priceless worth
Send Peace and unity on earth
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


We started a bible study in our home last week. We are using the Heidelberg Catechism as the topic with the scriptural verses in it examined.

I did not realize how the structure of this document has been marvelously designed. It is well ordered when one looks at its form. It starts with Q.1 and Q.2 which in reality is the sum and result of Christian life. You might say it starts at the end.

Question 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?

Question 2. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

Q.1 tells us where to we find comfort in this life and in our death, then Q.2 answers what is needed to live and die. This is brilliant to me because its genius seems almost 'inspired'.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Famous RC Apologist Calls Pope Heretic

This is interesting. I was surfing AOMIN.ORG and I was led to this article on Gerry Matatics. Prof Matatics was a Protestant minister (Presbyterian) who converted to Roman Catholicism. He was convinced by former Presbyterian minister Scott Hahn to convert to RC. From then on Mr. Matatics apparently have succeeded in bringing Protestants and non-RCs to Rome. A staunch defender of the RC doctrine/theology and practice, he says this of the last popes...

4. I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that because heretics are not members of the Catholic Church, they cannot validly hold office in the Church, according to divine law, and that, should they seem to hold such offices, the believing Catholic must conclude that their election to and possession of such offices is null and void. This would include, not only the manifest heretics John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, but also the manifest heretic and present illicit and invalid occupant of the See of Peter, Benedict XVI, who has the further handicap (unlike his immediate four predecessors) of not even having been validly consecrated a bishop, which, in addition to all other considerations, makes it impossible for him to therefore function as Bishop of Rome.

There are some things that Mr. Matatics agree with the Protestants, the papacy is the seat of the anti-Christ so says their confessions of faith. Heretics are called like that in the NT (see Epistles of John - 1,2,3 John).

It appears that what has been happening with Mr. Matatics is a form of disillusionment, and who knows, he maybe just touring Rome on the way back to Westminster.