Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Deaf, mute and blind too

A few moons ago, I had a discussion with a couple if internet friends who happened to be Reformed Baptistic on the topic of infant baptism and regeneration. In our discussion I threw out what I view as a real situation, that of a person who was functioning well but perhaps due to an accident went to coma. I presented a situation where the person had never been baptized but the parents wanted the comatosed son/daughter to be baptized. In fact I made it even sharper when I threw the situation of a person who was born deaf, mute and blind who in no way can profess faith. Needless to say the RBs would not administer baptism to such an individual. One of the argument was - "well, what good would it do to the comatose"? Smack of pragmatism, I noticed.

Now I normally listen to the broadcast of Dr. James White mainly to follow his issues with Dr. Ergun Caner. and what do you know? In this broadcast towards the end (approximately at the 48 min mark) a caller called up regarding the issue of baptism for his down syndromed daughter. I listened to JW's answer and sadly I have to say that the answer was a diplomatic waffle that dodged the issue. The answer was further muddled by a smoke screen redirection towards the issue of paedo communion. I was not impressed. Sorry. The answer was not satisfactory to me and if the caller would be honest , I believe it was not satisfactory to him either.

Of course it is a difficult problem for RBs like JW, he did admit that - it would have been a bit more honorable if the answer was flat - I do not know what to do. Fortunately this is not one of those that is a problem for us. On our side of the fence, there is no doubt what we would do to a deaf, mute and blind person whose parents wanted baptized.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Rescue

Christmas demonstrates the wisdom of God. See there in the manger, God has provided himself a Lamb who would take away the punishment for your sins and mine. See there God's gift to the world.

4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Gal 4:4-5.

Rejoice. Bow down, praise Him and give Him thanks. It is right and proper to do so.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An ordinary special Steward

I am continuing to enjoy reading the Hammer of God. I wish I was given this book of Bo Giertz along with Walther's Law and Gospel before my stint in ministry. I think these are very helpful books for the would be pastor who has no clue as to what he is to do. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing is to get the message right before you get it out and these books illustrate how the Gospel is applied to the one in the pew as well to the one in the pulpit.

One thought that comes out in the Hammer is the simple idea that the pastor is the steward of the Gospel, in otherwords he is also a fellow sinner who is a work in progress himself. I thought this is so refreshing because back in Charismania, the pastor becomes the Gospel. In Charismania he becomes the epitome of a victorious, pious Christian life. He does not become a steward but becomes a life coach to demonstrate to you how you can do it and make it. This makes for disillusionment and burn out, it misunderstands what Christianity is all about.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

You Gospelmonger you.

So when was the last time someone hurled that at you? Have you ever been called one? I was reading Bo Giertz's Hammer of God and this word was introduced in that novel.

I thought, now that is an interesting word similar to war monger or that sort of thing. Would you be insulted if someone referred to you as such? Does this best describe us? Should we wear that label (once again) with dignity?

I know it can be boring to hear us assert the Gospel again and again, I even feel that such a thought of hearing and proclaiming it again and again may be somewhat mundane.

But, I noticed that when I am feeling numbed about the Gospel, it only is because I have not heard the Law in its lightning horror, it just means that I have been hearing the Law as if I can do it, it has been presented or I have presented it to myself as a do-able thing. It does nor terrify me when I am made to believe that I am capable of fulfilling them. I hate it when that happens. Please, give me the Law, do not let me off the hook, let it crush me to pieces, let me dispair of me and my sin, only then will the Gospel be sweet to me, and that would mean I am in love with Jesus again.

Gospelmongers, would to God that might be the reputation we are known for.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Penny Drops

One of the most difficult thing for me to understand is the idea that Baptism is something that God does rather than something that we do. When I was an RC kid, I never been reminded of my baptism, perhaps I was just ignorant but maybe the RCC really do, but not by my impression. In fact I asked my RC friend and he told me the same. That is something in the past. Then when I became a pentecostal, that was the same too, it is put away in the shelve and never recalled, but that is not true in the Lutheran understanding of baptism. Each start of the service, you start it off by recalling it - In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then I kept on going back to the Gospel and the doctrine of justification and once we see that justification is a gift, then it is no longer hard to see that Baptism and the Lord's Supper is not a thing we do but gifts that God gives which are connected to the gift of forgiveness of sins in Christ, at the Cross. It is the same Gospel of 2000 years ago. The Baptist certainly would find this weird. I know I did. It sounds weird because they look at Baptism as an ordinance, a command, rather than a gift. No point discussing the mode, or candidates for baptism, you gotta discuss first the nature of the Gospel ie justification. Now that is also weird - to some.

No wonder it was difficult for me to get it because somewhere in my growth, I was made to focus on the Gospel as a demand rather than a declaration. So I go to church to receive God's gifts, what a nice deal.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Continuing Saga of the White-Caner Baptist Calvinist Debate

There has been an ongoing online debate between Baptists Dr. Ergun Caner Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Theological Seminary and Calvinist Baptist apologist Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. Originally the two were about to do a face-to-face to debate Calvinism in Baptist movement, but something went through in the process such that the debate was cancelled. It is funny that after the cancellation, the two for a while debated online the reason for the cancellation of the debate! But lately Dr. White has been commenting on the sermons of Dr. Caner, an example can be found here.

As can be gathered, the staunch Calvinist is White and the anti-Calvinist is Caner. I am not sure if Dr. Caner would like to be labelled Arminian, but he is a Of "free-willer" at least that can be said.

The comments that Dr. White has been making is quite revealing as well as the sermon delivered by Dr. Caner too. What is revealed in these two is the fact again that the Cross or Justification is not at the center of these two people's positions. Dr. White says that Jesus should be Lord because He created people. That is true that Christ created us but that is not the reason he should be Lord. Dr. White does not want to go to the Cross because to do that would mean he has to deny the doctrine of Limited Atonement. That would be bad because he will lose the "reformed" label. The "Reformed" label is something people fight for - it is the IN word in Christian circles now a days. On the other hand, Dr. Caner emphasized the free-willing nature of human beings such that it makes man the determiner of his salvation. In other words, Dr. White's Calvinism means that it is God who determines who is lost and who is saved. For Dr. Caner, it is man who determines if he is saved or lost. None of these positions talk about the Cross.

It is disappointing for example that Dr. White wants us to hail Jesus is Lord because He created us, and not because He died for us. On the other hand, for Dr. Caner, man casts the deciding choice, all has been done, all we need to do is make the right choice, make Jesus Lord.

These two positions are too far from the sayings in our circle - Jesus is Lord precisely because He is our Savior. Of course by His right of creation He is Lord, yet that is not how God wants us to hail His Son. Rather we cry He is Lord because He bled and died for us, He is Lord because He saved us, sacrificed His all for us. He is Lord because He has won us and paid for us.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Church That Would Not Simply DIE

The church on a hill. Known to be the oldest Lutheran church operating in Australia, it celebrated its 150th year in operation last Sunday November 12, 2006. Built by early German and Wendish farming settlers in Victoria in 1856, it can only seat 32 people. It has no toilet, it has no electricity, it has no airconditioning, it has no kitchen, no dining area, no Sunday School facilities, and today it is the home church of only 8 adults and a dog!

What on earth is the point of this? It is certainly by today's standards foolishness to continue operating this church. In fact, it is good for the museums! It has only one use, you might say -- that of a historic tourist spot - perhaps it may earn its denomination some money in the process.

Thomastown Lutheran Church defies our modern way of thinking. It defies our pragmatism and our idea of church. People might say, well why go on? You might wonder though that of the 8 some people that worship there only one can trace her roots to the early founding settlers, all the rest may be considered new comers!

The church on the hill just would not simply roll over and die, it embarasses the modern mind and is offensive to our upward mobile thinking. So one wondes why is it still kicking and ticking, when in fact nothing is happening there? How could God be in any thing so ancient and small? Ahh but perhaps something is happening. Why is it still operating today? It is there because as one of its former pastors' say : it is there and still exists today because God wants it so.

"'Look, you scoffers,be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'"

My wife and I are one of the "fools" who attend this church.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Heresies and Music?

I have been reading Harold .O.J. Brown's book entitled Heresies. I picked it up again primarily because I thought I had none (errors or heresies) but in the last year or so, I must confess, I was a party (a heretic in Brown's definition - heresy is a party) to some erroneous teachings - I did decisional-ism, born-again-ism, altar calling-ism, I did not see from Scripture the Law/Gospel, and although I think I got the Gospel right, I was wrong in turning its proclamation to a proposal. Although I was taught these ism from the ones who pastored me, I am responsible for repeating them . To all the folk I preached to, please forgive me. I am deeply sorry - above all I was wrong etc. etc. How I wish I could preach again the Good News that is better than you think.

Prof Brown, a confessing Reformed theologian, gives a fair treatmeant of all concerned be it orthodox Calvinist, orthodox Lutheran, and heretic ones of all types. There are a few things he admitted that interest me, one of which is when he says that the first couple of hundred years after the Reformation, the Calvinists produced more heresies than the Lutherans.

In P.383,
The first phase of the Reformation took the universal church out of the center of attention and replaced it with the local congregation; this [Pietism] second wave of Reformation, if we may call it that, redirected attention from the congregation to the individual believer. Christians began to sing "I" rather than "we"

I though this was interesting yet it still goes on today.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Funny Mix

I sometimes get surprized when I see some zealot Puritan Calvinist bloggers put the picture of Martin Luther along side the picture of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon together in the same spot!

I think this is naive. This is not seriously dealing with the teachings of Luther and is fanciful. I believe the smelly monk Luther would have spewed out explatives upon seing his picture along side these men. For one thing Luther would have rejected Calvin's view of the Lord's Supper because it falls short, since it stems from a Nestorian view of Christ. He would have been upset with Edward's mysticism and would have lumped him with the Enthusiasts, and most of all, he would have anathematized the baptistic Spurgeon for being an AnaBaptist in his baptist doctrine.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Same cloth - many points

Through past historical events, I am still part of list group whose members I am sure treasure and love their Calvinism. A discussion arose between me and with a Baptistic 4.5 point Calvinist friend in the list who then got into discussion with the guy I usually spar with, a Baptistic 5 pointer Calvinist. Here is a quote from the 4.5 pointer
Under all of our theologies (God's included) the death of Jesus Christ saves no one. It presents no one before God as justified, in and of itself. To be really blunt – the death of Christ is of no
more value than the death a sheep outside of the complete salvation "package" - sovereignly decided by God. Again very bluntly – the blood of Christ is of no more value for our salvation
than a quart of oil outside of the complete method of God given to us whereby we must be saved.

Even under the vaunted supposed Calvinistic theology, Christ's death accomplished nothing until the merits of it are applied to our lives when we exercise our God given faith.

You said, "The Calvinist believes that Christ has already purchased the redemption (saved positionally) of His own when He received their retribution. And that, the benefits of the secured salvation simply need to be brought to them by the Holy Spirit that they may
be saved experientially. "

Not true! I don't believe that and I don't think many Calvinists would say that they believe that.

I admire the candor of my 4.5 pointer friend about his Calvinism, he was willing to call a spade a spade. His frankness and boldness got me thinking, for a while now I have thought that Arminianism and Calvinism are a cut from the same paradigm. The 4.5 pointer brother confirmed what my hunches were telling me. In the end it leads to inward looking faith, i.e. we are saved by what is inside us. One is left looking at the subjective justification rather than the objective. Although the 5.0 pointer affirms that this faith is an instrument, one's faith nevertheless gets the subsequent attention or focus, at least my 4.5 pointer friend was willing to admit that, yet the 5.0 pointer fails to see it in the system. His brutal honesty was something to note and immitate.

What is quite unique about the Lutheran fathers is that they can say "do not talk to me about faith, talk to me about Jesus". Faith as opposed to works, simply trusts the promise God made that is already there. Indeed, when we focus on our faith and our consciousness of it, we can be side tracked. The Apology has this
56] For faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is a work in itself worthy, but only because it receives the promised mercy.
It receives the justification that is already there - won by Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I am thinking over this definition of repentance by an internet friend...

'repentance is a willingness or resolution to consciously turn away from sin, self, and the Devil, and a concomitant commitment to follow Christ in His lordship.'

Should I agree with this?


Something triggered in my mind while I was listening to Issues Etc. It occured to me that when I was in evangelia/charismania that we talked often about bad attitude rather than sin. Having bad attitude is not sin. This means that you can improve on your bad attitude by adopting new thoughts. In born again teaching, Christians are bogged down by bad attitude, they are not bogged down by sin. So you have sermons on how to counter bad attitude, a lot of sermons preached on having the right attitude.

The nice thing about bad attitude is that you can sort of correct it by simply stopping that bad thing you do or think. You'd think?!/?

Well, if bad attitude is considered sin, that is very negative and people can not relate to that. But if bad attitude is not sin, then the solution to that is found inside you - it means you have to work at it.

Religion of works do not appeal to me because I am downright lazy and get tired easily.

I do not have bad attitude, I have sin.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

That One Line in Nicene Creed

The line reads
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

When I ask my credo-baptist friends if they affirm the Nicene Creed they normally say "yes". I guess most of them now a days do not recite the Apostle's Creed and so they think that the Nicene Creed is the same but just an elaboration of it... until I point out that one line.

The truth is that if you are a re-baptizer, you can not and should not affirm the Nicene Creed because that one line there is not something a re-baptizer believes, why? Because a re-baptizer does rebaptize persons who have received Christian baptism when they were a infants. Because for them the ability to profess faith is a pre-requisite for baptism. I think this misunderstands Sola Gratia.

The fact is that since a re-baptizer can not affirm the Nicene Creed, the re-baptizing Christian is not catholic. Understandably she not Catholic (big C), but she is not even catholic (small c) either.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dr. Little's piece says a lot

I am so happy that I found Dr. C. H. Little's articulation of justification. By the way we share the same name because when mine is translated in English it means little too. However mine is a nickname and his was a surname.

This is a lovely short essay that instructs us how to avoid faith in faith. It tells us how to avoid synergism and why the Gospel is really good news.

Longed to Hear

A long time ago, I was watching a teaching video of a famous and respected Calvinist theologian say that he longed to hear someone tell him his sins are forgiven. I do not blame him, if you have a wife, you would long to hear her at times say to you she still loves you, right? What is wrong with having what is fact mentioned to you? Nothing, in fact it is part of our human need.

This is why I believe in absolution. The good Calvinist theologian is well aware that there is such a thing. He is a giant scholar and an authority (but I won't mention his name until I can refer to you the details when he confessed about that need), yet he and his church do not practice absolution. They misunderstand it, the same way I misunderstood it too. I got offended with it too, until...

Absolution scandalizes some Christians, because the question that comes about right away is that -- man has no right to forgive anyone's sins, only God can. This is right and logical but why should we believe in absolution?- because when the minister proclaims to me that my sins are forgiven, he is not saying that without a basis. He is saying that according to the fact that 2000 years ago, Jesus took all the guilt of my sins (including my future sins) at the Cross . Yes, it is correct that no man can forgive another's sins against God only God can, but the fact is that is what God did! In Jesus' at Calvary. Its a gift.

What a blessing. We should go out of church shouting and leaping in praise to God. We love Jesus because he forgives us.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I was just again meditating on the Gospel and how it can be corrupted. I was reminded when I was in charismania. The pastors I had used the term Gospel but it was some vague concept. One even pointed out the Bible as the Gospel! One denomination even have the motto (as I said in the past blog) All the Gospel -- meaning they have all the goodnews. Yet, when I first believed I only knew of just one - Jesus paid for me. Then you get involve in church and you get to hear that there is more coming -- bigger and better. My sinful sould loved that false doctrine, you can have heaven here on earth too now that Jesus is your Lord. It was similar to a fairy tale story. It was a Christianity whose theology is Glory rather than the Cross.

Yes, we can corrupt the Gospel, our sinful soul is a creature of the Law. We can turn the promise to performance and even fool ourselves that we are actually pulling it off. The Gospel is not intuitive, it is easier to believe God helps those who help themselves rather than believe God helps those who are helpless.

From the time we were born, we have always looked into ourselves. The Gospel is outside and makes us look not within, but without. Don't kid yourself, you and I can muck-up the Gospel. People did it in the past, and people still do it today.

Friday, September 01, 2006

F Words

Yeah, no more F words in Christian circles today because fanaticism and false doctrine are taboo subjects. They have been eliminated from existence, they are no longer in the dictionary. As far as modern evangelia/charismania is concerned today, they do not exist, no one needs to be warned from them, no one needs to be taught about their dangers. You are just a stirrer if you ever even suggest that some practices are coming from fanaticism or false doctrine, that is not religiously correct. You are the bad guy and you are upsetting the harmony of individuals - now why can we not simply just get along. Now read this and if you do not weep something is wrong.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I like Cemataries

I mean cemetaries. Aussie kids pronounce it as cemataries. I like to visit cemetaries. I am not kidding you. No, I do not go in the evenings, I go at day time. Often when I visit a country town somewhere I enjoy reading the epitaphs engraved on tombstones, whenever we happen to pass by. They tell a story, they tell of a philosophy, of hope and faith of the one burried there whatever that may be.

Lately I have been driving through one on my way to uni. The cemetery is a bit hidden by an iron fence wrapped around its perimeter, so when you drive by you see mostly crosses that stand out above the height of the fence. The crosses are what you see and focus on, some of them are tall. They do draw your attention. Well at least, they always draw mine. Can not help but looking at them as I drive.

It just got me thinking. Why did the early Christians use the Cross as the symbol of their faith? Why, it is almost like the electric chair of today? That is the place where consigned criminals perish. It is a symbol of shame. A lot of people died on the cross, yet the Christians used it to identify them of their faith.

The cross reminds us of something that happened in the past. It was not something trivial, it was something very very great, it cost God his best and his everything. It tells us that God hang his Son there for your account (and mine). We were supposed to be the one who should die a criminal's death but instead God slew his Son so he can have mercy on us. I tell you today I am filled with wonder at this. It is a great salvation and may we not neglect it is our prayer.

It is a good reminder of the Gospel, and please do not tell me I do not need to be reminded by it. I need to be reminded by it because I have a tendency not to stay on it, indeed my tendency is to move and wander away from it. That is part of my being a sinner.

The cross is the Gospel in one symbol. We do not venerate it, we run to the reality it points to - the atonement of Christ for sinners, in faith we claim it as ours because it is right down ours. His death is,... for you, for me.

Wise folk say -the Cross of Jesus is not only the start of Christian life, it is also where it ends.

Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, you finished it. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Blog Roll

Visit Aardvark Alley's blog. Thanks to him for including this blogspot in his list.
Look Here

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Too Good to be True?

In the midst of thesis work, I had been thinking -- If the Gospel is God's Truth, can it be corrupted? I chewed on this question for quite a bit and it went on for a couple of days. Absolutely, you bet!!!. As early as in the time of St. Paul - apostle to the Gentiles, we read his warning in Gal 1:8. He even pronounced a curse on himself should he go back and change the message. This is astounding because even when the apostles were around, people have been changing the Gospel already. People, and thus by mplication, the Christian Church, can corrupt it.

There are so many reasons why this happens. The Gospel is good news - Jesus dying and being raised from the dead for the sinner's forgiveness while that sinner is still a sinner - is just (pardon me) --- too darn too good to be true. This is absolutely just too much goodnews to take and our mind gets overwhelmed by the force of this reality. Our mind is not program for this sort of reality.

Let me list a few things why the Gospel may be corrupted by people and thus by churches (let me know if I missed some) ...

1. The Gospel is counter-intuitive. It is not natural to comprehend, so it is easy to misconstrue it. What is intuitive but for God to be good to those who are good? Certainly he is bad to those who are bad, that would be more natural to think of. But God being good to the bad? That would be...non-sense! So even if Jesus is there, we patch the Gospel and re-package it with us or something in us included in it. We change the Gospel to a proposition rather than keep it as proclamation. In other words, we impose our intuition into it and thereby change it however subtly. Fortunately, the Bible does not change, you go back to it and it still says the same - Christ died for sinners. God's Grace (Jesus) is greater than our sin.

2. Sin itself. Our sinfulness makes us corrupt the Gospel. Unbelief is part of that sinfulness. Deceitfully workin inside us, our tendency is not to believe it. Sin does that and we do not always see it already operating in our hearts - we disbelieve. The less famous sin -- pride, says - surely it can not be that I do not have to do anything. What? Simple trust in the fact of the Gospel? Surely (we say), it can not be that easy - I still have to do something like ... 'decide', 'confess', 'pray' and 'believe" etc. So we focus on the results of faith rather than the Christ of faith. So we focus on the spiritual effects and use them to change the Gospel. We make the results to a formula, a command, a work to be done. I like what I heard from Dr. Nigel when once interviewed at Issues Etc., he said - do not talk to me about faith, talk to me about Jesus -- what a wise advice.

If the Gospel is too good to be true, it is only so, because we are just too bad to deserve it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Basis

I have been discussing the subject of confession lately and most of my friends do not, as you read before, stand where I am standing now. Somehow I get the notion that God forgivess our sins when we confess and the basis of that forgiveness is that confession of sins - the famous passage is of course 1 John 1:9. You can quote this, so I won't.

This got me thinking, I had a strange suspicion ,so, does God forgive me because I confessed? Hmmm, so God forgives me because I have done the "work" of confessing? I went back again to 1 John and before that famous passage we read verse 7. Check it out.

I conclude, NO. God indeed forgives me when I confess, but I am not forgiven because of that confession of sins, I am being forgiven because Jesus died for the sins I am confessing. There is no way that God can forgive me simply on the basis of my confession. No way.

His forgiveness for me is never separated from the work of His Son - Jesus at the Cross. Once things get separated from Jesus' cross, all spiritual activity are turned into a form of works. Works will never make you secure.

I conclude too that the reason why God answers my prayer, in fact any prayer of anyone given in Christ's name is because Jesus purchased for me (and you) the good standing God requires from man.

So how does it feel to always be helpless and hopeless without the Cross of Christ? Very uneasy because it makes you always dependent on Christ, there is none of you that you can bring on God's table. The human mind rebels against that.

It makes you always in debt, and none of us likes that.

Uneasy? Maybe, but secure and happy. I am guaranteed to be forgiven because Scripture declares, Jesus purchased God's attention for me, at the Cross. He will answer my prayer not on the basis that I deserve anything - that is good news, that is a good thing, He answers on the basis that Jesus got God's attention for me -- and you too!

Back to thesis writing...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Take away what the other gives

So, to those of you who may be where I was at for so long--disillusioned, hurt, betrayed, bitter towards both men and God--I urge you to call upon the Lord and to not give up on Him. Though He may seem to tarry a long, long time, He will in time deliver you if you are indeed one of His sheep.

The italics is mine.

The above quote was from a list where I am a member of and is led by Reformed folk, though the members come from various schools of thought. The quote though was from a self identified Reformed (Calvinist) Baptist gentleman. The first part of the quote gets you encouraged until you get to the last when you are put on the spot - am I one of His sheep? Begs the question doesn't it? So you got to answer this first before you call upon the Lord for help, you can only hope for deliverance if you satisfy the big IF.

This sort like taking away with the right hand what the left hand gives. So you may call and call upon the Lord and if you are not one of his sheep, your calling will be useless. How far is this from Mt 11:28-30? For Jesus, you should come because he invites you to come. The only condition is that you are tired and you need help. In contrast the quote's language is baffling and destroys hope.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Down the aisle again

Ever wondered why some who walked the aisle, walked the aisle again? Why some who responded to the altar call in the past, are in the altar again? Is it re-dedication, you might say? My suspicion is because they are hungry to hear the Gospel to comfort them. This is true specially those who misunderstand absolution and do not have it in their worship service. Others may not be back in the altar because they do not have altar calls but they still leave the worship service empty.

When what you hear each Sunday is "Seven Steps to Live Happily Ever After", "How to be a good Disciple..", "Five ways to becoming the kind of person God wants you to be..", "How to be a Woman of Destiny". When what you hear each Sunday is a misdiagnosis of your REAL problem, you will be empty. As Dr. Nigel said Who is doing the verbs in the sermon? Is it you or is it Christ. I am finding out that it is not even expository preaching, because you can hear an exposition and never get to see Jesus doing something for you.

Why are they back in the altar? Well firstly they have been focused on what they must do. That is what they constantly hear, and they know they have never done it and they always fail even after being 'saved'. Secondly, they think that the altar call fixes it all. They may get a good feel for a while and after that they are back again. The altar call gives false hope and false assurance. You'd think that something is happening but nothing except guilt without relief. It is in a way a form of works - it internally says - there I have done it, I walked, I came down, I prayed the prayer, I was sincere, will you now forgive me Lord, I really mean to obey this time. Works never give relief. Only grace relieves guilt. I tell you what, this just adds to someone's depression.

What they needed was absolution - they need to hear again from the lips of Jesus - Father forgive them they no not what they do. In absolution, the pastor declares again to the congregation what Jesus death accomplished at the Cross 2000 years ago, it is not a fresh forgiveness - it is the same forgiveness of God on behalf of Christ. Jesus did what we can not do, lived a life pleasing to God, because what we do is -- just mess things up.

Jesus says "Peace be still", "Go in peace - your sins are forgiven". How can he say that? Because he took that guilt at the Cross.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I know my pentecostal friends think of me as having acquired a religious spirit - this is the term they attach to those who have become traditional in their Christian faith. With my returning to Reformation confessions, I can not help but at times think that they are referring to me when they refer or speak of to "those religious people".

There is a slogan that says "the church that is reformed continues to reform" semper reformanda if you will. I charge though that those who wave that slogan carelessly may indeed continue to "reform" but reform outside Christianity. What they mean by that is progress. Such progress may morphe Christianity to something no longer Christian but may represent it as a form of new age spirituality. I wonder if what is going on in mega-churches (which is predominantly pentecostal) may be a form of pseudo-Christianity. An entirely new religion.

My understanding though is that the Reformers took out the additions and excesses in their Christianity using Scripture as a guide. Yet, they recognized that there was a faith that was once delivered to the saints which was all along there but obscured.

The Reformation that I am learning is that it is a return always to the Gospel and if that so called reformation leads you away from that, it is not reformation but deformation, you may very well overshoot Christianity in the process.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Is Baptism a ticket?

To this question, Walther says this - from Thesis XXI of his book God's No and God's Yes.
Rom 3:28: If I am justified, if I obtain grace by my act of submitting to baptizing or by my act of going to Communion, I am justified by works, and at that altogether paltry works, scarcely worth mentioning. For that is what Baptism and Holy Communion are when viewed as works that we perform. It is a horrible doctrine, wholly contradicting the Bible, that divine grace is obtained if a person at least makes external use of the sacraments. The truth is that Baptism and Holy Communion place any person under condemnation who does not approach them with faith in his heart. They are means of grace only for the reason that a divine promise has been attached to an external symbol. Having water poured on me is of no benefit to me. Nor am I benefited by actually receiving the body and blood of the Lord. It is of paramount importance that I BELIEVE, that I regard, not the water in Baptism, but the promise which Christ has attached to the water. It is this promise that requires the water; for only to it has the promise been attached
(the emphasis is mine).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Not an issue? But it still is.

I used to think that justification by faith is clear and not an issue in the circles I used to roam in (evangelias/charismanias) but it seems that it still is. What do I mean? I mean there is confusion surrounding this slogan as understood by modern evangelicals today. Though sola fide as a slogan is something they affirm, they, as I most of the time observe, make faith as something that man must throw into the mix so that God might justify- to them this is the Gospel. Unwittingly, faith becomes a form of works that one must exercise, otherwise God will not be moved.It is believed that it can be produced by the unbeliever, so the Gospel is understood as a proposition not a declaration, or a promise. A sort of, you scratch God's back and He will scratch yours. It is true though that faith is a condition of justification, but that demand of God is not something produced on our own but also supplied by God through the Gospel promise.

This topic is quite tricky...

A quick test question can be used to illustrate this point. Ask the question "why are you saved"? If the answer is "because I believed",
sola fide has been misunderstood as well as the Gospel. However, if the answer is "because Jesus died for me, a sinner", that is the Gospel and that is sola fide.

The issue is this - the reason salvation is through faith is because it is first by grace! Meaning, the gift has been given first- Jesus - his work, perfect life and person, his atonement - is finished. My point is this sola gratia is the reason why it is sola fide.

In the Apology of Augsburg, Article IV,54-56 we have this
54] Scripture frequently implores mercy; and the holy Fathers often say that we 55] are saved by mercy. As often, therefore, as mention is made of mercy, we must keep in mind that faith is there required, which receives the promise of mercy. And, again, as often as we speak of faith, we wish an object to be understood, namely, the promised mercy. 56] For faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is a work in itself worthy, but only because it receives the promised mercy

The result of putting the accent on one's faith is pride and self-righteousness, when grace is the accent - there is no room for boasting even if you have faith, because salvation is by grace first on account of Christ's work alone. Your faith contributes nothing.

I hope this information is not new to you but if it is, I hope you find security in the fact that God did all that is necessary for our salvation without any of our contribution needed.

PS. My blogging has been sparse due to the pressure of thesis writing, I could use your prayers.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Walther for Devotions

Just to let you know I am still posting I share with you what I am reading for my devotions - C F W Walther's God's Yes and God's No - Proper Distinction of Law and Gospel. I think this should be a must reading for any evangelical minister of whatever denomination. I wish I got this book before I went out to preach.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dr. Hahn rediscovers justification by faith and works?

As I have promised, here now is the first installment of my analysis of Dr. Hahn's conversion experience in the RCC. This is taken from his book "Rome Sweet Home". I will have to cut to the chase and I suggest a good place to start the discussion would be in Chapter 3, New Conceptions on the Covenant. Here are a few points...
1. Dr. Hahn felt impressed that the RCC was the only denomination that thought against contraception. This is in lieu of the fact that every marriage act is a covenantal act such that the "two become one" in the covenant of marriage, the "one" they become is so real that nine months later they might have to give it a name! The child embodies their covenant oneness. Thus Dr. Hahn was apparently disappointed that it was only the RCC who opposed contraception amongst the many christian denominations in the world. He says, the RCC got it right. He admired their courage and integrity in teaching this unpopular truth. This was the hole through which he entered and entertained favorably RCC teachings. I surmised that Mr. and Mrs. Hahn were
practicing birth control such that he said "a change in our theology had produced a change in Kimberly's anatomy". It is interesting that part of this chapter's title had the word "conception" on it. Was there pun intended? I am getting ahead of myself so ...
2. Scott says that in Scripture - contracts involve exchange of properties but covenants mean an exchange of persons such that it is a form of sacred family bond.Covenant kingship was stronger than biological and in the OT case, God's covenant with Israel is God's fathering of that nation as his own family. Thus Scott was not happy and consider it inadequate the courtroom justification language of the Protestants. For him justification is more than being declared righteous or treated righteous. Justification was not in the courtroom but in a family room. He discovered through his study of Romans and Galatians that St. Paul did not teach justification by faith alone, he shared Prof. Shepherd's conviction. By virtue of James 2:24 and 1 Cor 13:2 - St. Martin Luther was wrong.

Some initial comments now...
1. In my reading Matt 19:5, "oneness" of one's flesh in marriage did not pertain to children. What I am saying is that the husband and the wife are not one because they have children. They are already one by virtue of marriage. The marriage covenant makes them one. But even if the person is married and have never performed a marital act with his/her spouse, that person is still one with his/her spouse. That is what marriage does, it defines oneness. It seems to me that the Hahns were not impressed by what they saw in the protestant circles they were in, in that these folks probably acted like the world in their unshameful use of contraceptives. Scott considered the marriage covenant as a bi-lateral covenant, but in the Protestant sense, at least in some Calvinistic churches, they see the covenant that God performs to be unilateral not bi-lateral. If Scott were in a Lutheran church he would probably not get enamored with covenants because Lutherans look at the term covenant as synonymous with "testament" - the last will and testament (the New Covenant). In Lutheran thinking - a testament is a gift, you perform nothing to receive it. It is more precise rather than the word covenant because a testament is a desire for the departing to make something happen by way of bequesting a gift. Human beings may impose on each other conditions on their covenants but the way God depicts the New Testament, Jesus said it was his will and testament - his death was a gift - that is why he died before we were even born. We were not consulted, he gave his life as a gift to sinners.
2. Court room or family room language - that is the issue. Well sin is missing the mark, human beings are not God's children who wondered off the path - well that may be true in some sense, but human beings are sinners - sin is the transgression of the Law. In otherwords, human beings are lawbreakers according to the Bible - that is the language the Bible uses to describe us. The Bible does not speak of human beings as overall God's children, it speaks of us as sinners/rebels - law breakers thus, between court room or family room language was St Martin Luther wrong? I do not think so. In fact in this respect, he seems to be on target, on the mark. Spot on.

More to come...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

One Mile Wide, One Inch Deep

We interrupt this broadcast for a short break. I have not forgotten my assignment on analyzing Dr. Hahn's RC conversion experience, I will get on to it next time.

I got this from Cyberbretheren. Here is an article on megachurches and the depth of their beliefs. This is not something new, many observers and experienced Christians have been saying this now for sometime.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why the fascination and attraction 1?

Pr. Andrew B. asked if I would care and write something about the attraction of the RCC. Here it is...

They say that the RC church is facing some crisis in the priesthood because there are less and less young men wanting to enter the ministry in their church. I remember when I was a younng man, a priest coming to my family home and asked my mother if he would given time to encourage me or to mentor me to become a priest. He attempted to convince me to give my life to the priesthood. I guess after much talk he failed because I remember while I was escorting him out to get a ride, I told him I was not interested or something to that effect.

Today that crisis in the priesthood is being answered by former evangelical ministers converting and becoming RC priests or RC Apologists. I read their stories - I will just name a couple - one is R. Neuhaus from the Lutheran side and S. Hahn from the Presbyterian side. First let me speak my mind about the coversion of Fr. Neuhaus then in the next installment that of Mr. Hahn. Please note that I was a RC up until my mid-twenties. As a boy and young man I practiced the teachings of the RCC, I was baptized ( I got my certificate), catechized, confirmed, studied in an RC school and was a great devotee of St. Jude, faithfully dedicated to his novenas. So I think I can say something on this phenomena of being fascinated with the RCC.

As I read his article in First Things I can sense some semi-sarcastic tone directed at some teachings of the Lutheran church he belonged (the LCMS). For example, he said that the LCMS also has a Vatican - Concordia Seminary. When you start looking at your church in that paradigm, the RCC will win and your church will lose. Let me now enumerate some salient points that I feel I need to respond.

1. Firstly which "idolatry" do you rather have? Fr. Neuhaus said
For the ecclesial Christian, the act of faith in Christ and the act of faith in the Church are not two acts of faith but one. In an important sense, every Christian, even the most individualistic, is an ecclesial Christian, since no one knows the gospel except from the Church.

If Protestants (Lutherans/Reformed etc) idolize the Bible, then Fr. Neuhaus idolizes the RCC. This statement is significant, notice that he says that faith is an action and that faith in Christ is not enough, one must have faith in the Church and by Church he means RCC. No longer is the church the body of believers who confess faith in Christ's work, it is now the organization itself. Also he believes that no one can know the 'gospel' except from the RCC, so what happens to the HS and the Scripture He breathed? The truth is that you can have a believer proclaiming the Gospel and unless HS moves on the proclamation it will not be believed.

2. Then he was influenced by Romanizing Lutheran thinking and admits to be Piepkornian and rejects Tillich's Protestant corrective . But these Romanizing Lutherans were not raised RC and they see the RCC from an anglo-saxon, mild mannered Mr. Clark Kent type of lens (my suspicion). They think they can be evangelical and still be RC. They have not seen RC practice and lived it the way the Latin Americans and Latin Asians do. I have so much to say but the bottom line is this, each time you emphasize the Sacraments more than the ministry of the Word, you will levitate towards what is more. Each time you sharpen the distinction between pulpit and pew and make the pulpit superior than the pew, you will always have less and RCC has more. Each time you tie the validity of the sacraments to the minister you will always have less, and Rome has more. You might as well get the right pedigree, get the right bishop laying hands on you. Rightly according to Fr. Neuhaus, the RCC has more, and for me (unlike him), more here means more than the Gospel and more than Christ! Fr. Neuhaus without me realizing is a classic example of taking Romanization of Lutheran thinking to the final conclusion, become a RC. At least he is honest, he ran out of answers to the question why he is not Roman Catholic so he swam and kissed the Pope's ring and now feels secure he is in the "True Church". I just wondered if he took the Smalcald articles seriously while he was a Lutheran pastor.

3. The RC is big, as an organization it is older than us (but so does the EO and it claims it to be so also). It is big enough to accomodate everything, you can be an atheist and claim to be RC, you can be a liberal and still be RC, and you can be an evangelical and still be RC. Back home priests believe in the rapture do not wear their habits but a suit and tie - they sing pentecostal songs, speak in tongues, shout amen and hallelujah and venerates Mary. You can be evangelical in many ways and be there, until may be you start practicing popular piety of the Latin kind. Back home, there is a Fatima, an ancient statue made of wood, dark and not even resembling a woman in figure, it is small. Historians claim that the statue was an anito, an animistic god worshipped in ancient times. This is found in an RC church, it has been given golden hair and been dressed up nicely with gold plated sash/robe. The worshippers venerate the statue, I wonder if Fr. Neuhaus would join the devotees of this Fatima in touching and worshipping this statue(ok vowing and kneeling down and praying to it - because the RC does not claim these activities as worshipping). The RC church has not banned such adoration, it is still there and people are not disuaded from making vows to that statue. It seems to me that Fr. Neuhaus unlike his other Lutheran friends, does not substitute the word 'christian' for the word 'catholic'. For him it means, the ancient practice of christians though though such practice may not be scriptural in reality.

If the Lutheran believes it has connection with the early church not by association or grouping but by belief and doctrine, what is the need to merge back? If a Protestant truly loves the RC as people needing the Gospel, the best thing a Protestant can do is to remain a Protestant and call out the same - repent and believe the Gospel, the same as it does for other people.

In the end as I am often comfronted in this life, I am often brought to the crisis of asking the question, is my faith in the promise of God or is my faith in the comfort that I belong to a group/people or Church? Where am I standing, am I standing on the Word of Scripture or something else? Is my comfort in my belonging to the one true church or is my comnfort in life and death on Christ alone? Often Jeremiah 17:5 scares me.

But what if I am wrong, well, I am reminded of what Luther said with regards to the Supper in believing that it is his body and blood. Why can I not say the same thing - Lord I took you at your Word? I thought I am saved by what you have done, not by what I believe or the good that I could do.

More later for Mr. Hahn's.

Friday, February 10, 2006

4 Fast then 4 Slow

I have not been worshipping in a Pentecostal church now for the last 4 years as far as I can recall. I have been beaten down or burned out. They say we charismatics do not go for rituals but actually we do. I can always predict what is going to happen in the worship service. Really, the worship service does say something even though it DOES NOT say things explicitly.

I have been invited by my Pentecostal minister friends to join them in worship when I am not preaching in other churches, but I can not get myself to go to the worship services. Why? I am scared.

You see, I got beaten down with the worship style- first the fast happy praise songs and then followed by the slow solemn songs. Over and over again this is what happens on each Sunday. As if we are there to work up a feeling. The message seems like this -- God is here because we 'feel' him. As if we are seeking some kind of emotional validation that God is with us.

When someone just got through some tough emotionally draining stresses of life during the week, you got nothing to give come Sunday. The last thing you want to do is work - specially less is on your emotions because you got nothing more to give, besides I am a lazy bum.

Sunday is the time I do not want to look inside myself because honestly, I have not been that spiritual during the week. But what do I get? - Hillsongs with sentimental themes. This line used to be a blessing to me...

hold me close, let your arms surround me, bring me near, draw me to your side. And as I wait, I'll rise up like an eagle and I will soar with you, your Spirit leads me on in the Power of your love

But lately the same theme has been going on and on, it gets tiring. I do feel touched and I do not mind that, but it should be due to the truth content of the song not through the sentimentality that is in it.

Sometimes I do not want Jesus to cry with me, I want him to deliver me. I do not want him to be sentimental with me and then he and I can have a good cry, I want him to do something for me - but ....
I guess that is what he just did - 2000 years ago, in a place called Calvary.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

J. Edward's Famous Sermon

Do you know Jonathan Edwards? He was a revivalist preacher in New England, USA in the 18th century. He is considered to be the finest American philosophical theologian.

I have a copy of his sermon "Sinners in the hands of an angry God". It has been sitting for years in the book shelve so I decided to do an exercise of Law and Gospel.

They were right, as I read Edward's sermon, I could really feel the tongues of fire licking the soles of my feet. It is terrifying to read. A fine sermon on the Law. As I read the sermon I was kept hanging. It was the experience of watching 24 or Lost. I was on the edge of my seat because I was looking for the suspense, the climax. I was saying, hang on maybe good news is coming up, may be in the next page. Nope not there, but may be towards the end?

I finished the sermon. Unfortunately it never came. There were spots here and there of the need to be converted, born again but nope, no Gospel forth coming. Sorry. This has really puzzled me a lot and I wish someone can explain to me my sense of hopelessness. Why is it considered a good sermon? Why do people hail it?

The sermon sounded to me more like "Sinners in the hands of an Angry Preacher".

I am really sorry, that is honestly what I think. I only got the problem, no solution.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

From Westminster to Wittenburg

I thought I should post here a link of Pastor Rick Ritchie's journey to Wittenberg here.

There are many reasons why I can not go to Westminster too but that is another story for next time.

For now, this is just to feed the discussion should you care to comment.


I got this from the list I regularly join in the discussion, courtesy of Rev. Bob Vincent. Click here for the Me!Church. But I warn you, if you get stomach cramps from laughing, please do not sue me.

A few years ago, in the city where I live, a bank promoted its name by giving out an advertisement that went along this line of thought --"It is ALL about YOU".

Waytaminit, I thought church was all about Jesus?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Calling Dr. Phil?

I tell you, I have never seen a man so loved by the world, a man with fatherly encouragement for those who are in a hole. Dr. Phil, is the man, he has the formula for everything. Tell him your problems specially about yourself, your relationships and finances and he has the solution for you. Are having problems raising your teens, having a wayward spouse, struggling with some addictions in life - you know who to call - Dr. Phil. You got a problem with weight? No worries, Dr. Phil has a diet program you can get into and it'll straighten you up. Attitude is everything and Dr. Phil is a master of articulating how you can improve and perfect your bad attitude.

So, if you want some advice on how to improve yourself, I recommend you give Dr. Phil a ring. There is one thing I have observed though that Dr. Phil can not do for you. If you have a problem with God because of your sin, well, I doubt if Dr. Phil can help you.

You see, you need a Christian Pastor for that. It is just a pity though that manythem are becoming insecure because of not having the same therapheutic skills like Dr. Phil, when all along they have the message that will always be relevant and always be the true message of God - the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the pastor is holding this message, he has something Dr. Phil can not give, and this is the message of forgiveness. When your problem is God, no amount of theraphy will do, you need Dr. Jesus for that and the pastor ought to know how to connect you with Him, real fast. Jesus will not tell you to get your act together, he will point you to His Cross.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Religion to Make Us Happy?

Thanks to Dave Gosse who directed me to this interview with C. S. Lewis. Here is Lewis' answer to the question...
Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?


Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best. I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years, and is, more or less, I re­gret to say, one of the happiest men I know. From the moral point of view it is very difficult! I am not approaching the question from that angle. As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can't give any advice on it.

But this is the great irony. Today Christianity in popular preaching and worship services is presented just exactly that - the lifestyle to make you safe and happy. Jesus is there to make us happy, right? Why, to think otherwise is considered strange, unbiblical and even heretical, correct?