Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Unity or Truth

What about these 25,000 denominations? I am not bothered by them. I know my blog visitors will be scandalized by what I just said because ... did not Jesus pray that "they" might be one in John 17? I agree he did.

These 25,000 denominations are claiming some absolute truth and they collide, well ... that is better than saying there is no truth, or saying we can not know truth or saying what is true for you may not be true for me so..... why do not we just sit down around a camp fire and sing "Kumbaya my Lord"? Or my RC friends might say, yes there is truth and the Pope says whatever it is, so why don't we just gather around that (please,... I say this respectfully and with no sarcasm)? So what should we do, should we go to the post-modern solution of relative truths?

It is interesting that when Jesus prayed for unity he did not leave out the notion of truth, in fact several times this word were mentioned.

7Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth.
Jesus says - Your [The Father's ] word is truth. Where is truth then? Jesus says that it is in God's word, so to know it, find out where God spoke and there we find truth and gather around that.

I contend that the only reliable place to look are the Scriptures because Jesus gave authority to it, not the Church. It was better than that, it was the head of the Church who said that - Christ the Lord.

There is an empirical test to this. See if what Scripture says about your sin matches your experience, see too if you can by your own efforts live out the demands of God. My answer to the first is "yes", my answer to the second is "no" and the solution is not to try harder.

Lastly in the creeds we confess "we believe in one holy catholic (universal) apostolic church... we believe in the communion of the saints". This is an article of faith, that it is , it is already true now, that there is one church -- a body of believers (ie not hypocrites) who in repentance and faith cleave alone to the work of Christ for their sins.

I do not see this oneness by my eyes, that is why it is an article of faith the same way I have not seen Jesus died on the Cross for me, but I believe that story is true.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Those Chain Emails

Do you get them? They reminded me of chain letters that promise fortune if you send to people or bad luck if you do not. Here is one which Pastor Joel, a friend of mine sent me. This Austryn slang... I think this was written by a woman and she writes..

I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (PennyBrown) BR who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul cause I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy petrol (gasoline) without taking a man along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Glad Wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from any courier company since they are all actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our Australian troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 I dropped in the car park because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

Oh, and don't forget this one either!

I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy petrol(gas) from certain oil companies!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day....

Monday, January 22, 2007

If I do not believe this, what do I believe?

I am in my middle years. I go through self-doubts and one of the reasons I blog is that I get to know who I was, when the time comes. I mean, I hope to read what I wrote about and the replies I made to friends who interacted with me along the way. Having gone through subjective experiences lend me open to self introspection more often than average.

Doubts, I have them. I doubt who I am, I doubt if I really knew Christ, I doubt if I was his sheep, I doubt if he really happened to me etc. A wise pastor's wife said that I was going through male menopause. I don't know if that is true, but what I am certain of is that I got uncertainties. At this part of my life, my self tends to talk to me a lot, I get pre-occupied by the inner workings in me. These doubts stem from anxiety, the fear of the unknown, I mean ultimate unknown. Were do I go? What is happening? My feelings are off the chart, it is off the wall and nothing inside can I hold on. So what to do?

Then a gentle thought comes from Scripture, a principle, a lesson from Jesus comes to my mind that seems to challenge and convict me -- it comes from Luke 16, the conversation of the rich man with Abraham Lk 16:27-31

27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

Here Moses and the Prophets refer to Scripture. Jesus through Abraham is saying, if you do not believe the scripture then no matter what experience you go through or even if someone comes down from heaven tell you the truth, or be alive again, you will not be convinced. If you do not believe scripture, you will not believe ie be convinced of the truth. If I do not rest my soul on what it says, there is really no help for me no matter what people say or whoever might say them to me.

This reminded me during my atheistic day while studying Confusianism, it teaches good things but in the end the authority comes from man - Confusius, and you can say so what Confusius, why should I follow you? Man has no authority, it is God who has the final authority.

Is the Bible true because it says it is true? Or is the Bible true because Jesus says it is true? The first seems circular to me, but in the second, Jesus gives his authority - his backing and approval on the Scripture. If I do not use Scripture as my final authority, then as Jesus said, I make my house on shifting sand. So the when the waters come, I need to stand on the rock.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Doctrine of Hair

The Rev. Dr. G. I. Barber gave a sermon at 2:30am one Sunday on the Biblical Doctrine of Hair.

When listening, notice the 3 point sermon structure and his appeal in end. Your hair, how it is combed, or how long you wear it could really get you in trouble with the Lord.

Just be warned, if you get stomach ache while listening to this sermon, it is not my fault, as the Rev. Dr. Barber said, he did not write it, neither did I.

Monday, January 15, 2007



Click on the image to view a movie which I think is an honest and sincere attempt to present the Gospel the best way they know how.

I really like the guitar background, that rock and roll like music reminds me of my younger days, the has been days.

Dr. White of has objections to this presentation, he says...
The gospel is not a bare "offer" to all people to accept God's love in Jesus: it is first a command to repent and turn, and then it is in fact a wide and broad and glorious proclamation that the love of God in Christ Jesus is freely experienced by all, Jew and Gentile, who in faith turn to Christ!

I have some thoughts on this film and that criticism above but I am stopping and thinking.

So what do you think?

ex opere operating

I have a theory why my evangelical brothers are weary when one proposes a higher view of the sacraments, for example, as in the Lord's Supper. I think they are weary of ex opere operato, ie, the idea that mere action perfomerd merits the participant brownie points with God. Clearly this would of course be getting brownie points by works but not by grace. In this sense, one can say - God give me favor because I have done this action.

Here is an exerpt from the RC Catechism

1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify.48 They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son's Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.

1128 This is the meaning of the Church's affirmation49 that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God."50 From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.

1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.51 "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature52 by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.

Contrast this now from Luther's Small Catechism

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins. Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins.

But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit; for the words For you require altogether believing hearts.

As can be seen Luther, was quite precise as to where faith is directed. Whereas in the RC, faith is not defined and is rather vague, which allows for wiggle room in 1128. In 1128, there is the "nevertheless" clause which is confusing, because on the one hand it does not depend on the rigteousness of the recipient yet it depends on his disposition. If the RC does not object any longer to Luther's catechism, perhaps they have reformed themselves in this area and conceded they were wrong. Similarly in in 1129, the sacraments (and the RCs have more than 2 to 3 , I remember 7) are necessary for salvation. My Reformed brothers do have the right to be alarmed at such a talk. In fact the Apology registered these protests (just examples)...

III. 155 Just as,therefore, the Lord's Supper does not justify us ex opere operato, without faith, so alms do not
justify us without faith, ex opere operato.
III. 165 In this manner they also distorted the Sacraments, and most especially the Mass, through which
they seek ex opere operato righteousness, grace, and salvation.
XII. 11 They falsely assert that the Sacrament itselfconfers grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using it; no mention is made of faith apprehending the absolution and consoling the conscience.

1128 is now a compliance to XII. 11 but again, there is no official definition of what that "disposition" is supposed to be, you may correct me if I miss such definition or clarification in the RC Catechism. When I contemplate that section of the RC Catechism I quoted, I come out confused. Somehow I can not help but think of double talk and I mean no disrespect, just an honest frank opinion. It seems such wording allows the RC to say -- we have not changed since the old terms are there, ie. justifying ex opere operato, and in the other sense, they can say - they have changed since they added more clarifications on the teaching that sounds Lutheran.

In logic, we have a maxim that says, from a contradiction you can prove anything. That is right, you can prove anything you like under the sun.

In summary, Lutherans do not believe in ex opere operato on sacraments. I hope my Reformed friends take note of that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lord, my name is Cruz

This is just a small interruption of the normal broadcast.

I was just reflecting on my name, which happens to be akin to the surname "Smith". It is, no offense the Smiths of this world, it is common and a bit ordinary.

My grandfather told me how we got our name. During the colonial times (my grandfather was born 1892, he was in his 60s when I was born) according to him, the Spaniards would require a census and all the Indios ("indians" - the native Filipinos) would be required to register. Since my ancestors were Indios, they did not know how to write and so when they reach the Spanish clerk to to sign their name, they would not know how. So instead, they will take the pen and just make a cross mark on the dotted line. Thus, the Spaniard would say - Ahh your name must be Cruz because you signed it that way. That explains why there are so many of us with that last name.

As an aside, we were not called Filipinos, that took a while, we had to earn it - we were Indios, not Filipinos - that term was meant for the Spaniards born in the Philippines only.

Anyhow, my last name also means - Cross in Spanish.

So now, I like to humbly pray - Lord, make me live up to my name, may I be a preacher of your Cross, may I like your saints of old, glory in no other. Amen.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Mighty Holy Will

I got scared of this, at first I thought the song was not serious until I listened more towards the end. This was from a fundamental Baptist Christian college

I got scared because if I was asked by God to choose Him (with what I know now about my sin etc), I know I would not choose Him. I got scared because it depicted God as so great yet he is so weak he can not even override my will. He is depicted as helpless when my Holy Will is involved. He is depicted as a slave to my Mighty Will.

The good news is that God is so great he did not wait for me to choose him, he came to save in Jesus. At the Cross, Jesus chose us. The choice was not up to me, the choice was in Christ and he chose to die for us human beings as the Nicene Creed says...
For us [humans] and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
If eternal life were up to me, I know I would muck it up.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sola Fide Hijacked - Misunderstood

sola fide was a slogan that originated with Luther and the more I dialog with modern evangelicals (calvinists and all sorts etc.), the more I am convinced that this is where the misunderstanding is coming from.

It is funny but in my internet wanderings I would be accused of being a hyper-Calvinist (duh??! I am Lutheran and no longer Calvinist so I can not even be a hyper!) . But some accused me of being antinomian at the same time they rebuke me for having a morbid paranoia with guilt and sin. Now if you stop for a moment, surely this is enigmatic and contradictory, it should have rang some bells.

I figured since these wild suggestions stem from Protestants in line with our confession's rooted assertion that God supplies all things that he demands from us, like faith, the understanding of sola fide must be lurking there somewhere. But once again, like many early Lutheran ideas, the term sola fide has been borrowed, massaged, mangled and mis-represented differently and quite foreign to the way Luther defined it. More precisely I observe

a.) Those who rally the slogan more often than not have presented faith as a type of work.
b.) They think that sola fide means that there are no sacraments (Baptism and Supper).

I have said much on a.) lately but part b.) is where people criticise what they do not understand. They should have studied more the Lutheran confessions rather than taking the ball, running with it, playing with it without out even realizing first the rules of the game.

When Lutherans cry sola fide (as I observed) they do not mean faith without sacraments (of Baptism or The Supper), rather they see the sacraments as the means the Holy Spirit uses to produce and sustain faith, ie they are the same as the Gospel but wrapped in water and in the bread and wine as Jesus taught. Case b.) takes time to understand but it is understandable if one gives a solid ear and a search for it in Scripture is undertaken.

It is a shame that some groups have the Word but they have no Sacraments, others have the Sacraments but no Word. Both are made hungry in the end, it just takes time to realize that such poverty is there.