Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Some call it lethargy?

I do not blog on "worship wars". You see I was an ex-RC and I heard the Mass in Latin when I was a young boy. I was accustomed to the timing of when to do the sign of the cross, kneel, stand up and and reply "et cum spiritu tuo". Here is one example of it with my native tongue on the right column.

Then being involved in the Pentecostal church, I know how to do free worship and I even led it. Free worship people also have a liturgy, make no mistake about it. They do not conform to a formal liturgy but they have a liturgy nevertheless. First there is a singing of 4 fast joyful songs, and then followed by 4 soft solemn songs - and you do this for 40 minutes. I can predict what happens in the service.

In both cases, in the formal RC and informal Pentecostal - I can predict what is about to happen and when. They can both leave you dry and what Jesus says when you are comfortable and proud that you are "doing it" Jesus says Mk 7:6. I do believe Jesus is interested in my heart, he is, precisely because it is filled with deceit and wickedness and he wants to cleanse it - cover it with his forgiveness, so I am convinced Jesus is interested in my heart and I agree with my Judge quickly that my heart as not clean.

I can understand the fascination with ritual and formality and the drag of being "high" church. My theory is that pop society and pop culture has been starved of any tradition - even social tradition. Today young people are embarrassed in having any program in their party celebrations such as having a toasts, giving speeches, any social ritual is rejected. Hence, the hunger is explainable. Every ancient culture has some tradition, it is what identifies them and for a people not to have one, not to have a decorum, is to have no identity. So the hunger is understandable, and the liturgy can be used for it. But there is a catch, when it becomes a canon, a Law, then we are back again to works. The liturgy which is designed to uphold the Gospel becomes its robber.

I need not say anything more but commend- Past Elder's - New Wine, Old Wine Skins

The point being, fidelity to the historical liturgy of the church guarantees nothing in itself, and it is possible to use the historic liturgy in a thoroughly heterodox effort. Therefore, the real enemy, if that is the best word, is not non-liturgical services or non-traditional church music, it is doctrine. Teaching.
Here is also my observation, you can rally for the historic or elaborate liturgy and rally for your synod officers to be impeached, you can even be embroiled in your synod politics, criticize colleagues for adopting heterodox methods etc etc, but if you as a pastor aren't giving your people the Law that shows their sin and the Gospel that heals and comforts them in your worship service, all that rallying for liturgy and thumping etc. is just smokescreen. IMHO.


Past Elder said...

I'm wondering what a former Pentecostal or charismatic evangelical now things of the charisms, specifically healing?

I used to think this listening to Gene Scott on shortwave -- he started out with Oral Roberts and the AofG. Do you get Benny Hinn down under? Me imagino que si.

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

Good question.

Even as a charismatic the gifts were very secondary to me.

In practice, I still believe in praying for the sick and laying of hands. However, I have my doubts now about the tongues and those so called personal prophecies, they sound more like Azusa rather than Jerusalem (i.e. enthusiasm). Later on I will post on Marjoe Groetner, have you heard of him?

However, there has been allegations that the Ante-Nicene Fathers acknowledge that they persisted in their time, I am still trying to find some references to these statements. Have you heard of these?

I am a simpleton Past Elder, I have a simple logic - if I already have eternal life (in Christ as per Scripture), what could be better than this? Do I need more? The gifts are not what I need when I hit eternity.

Para tu imagination que es. ;-) ;-)

PS. Yes indeed all the mega tele-evangelists are programming here.

Augustinian Successor said...

Pest Eldrr,

Healin mayn't be the problem if the sovereignty of God is acknowledged. But it ain't so always acknowledged then and their. That's the problem, I mean the crux of the problem. For the Pantiecostal and the Charismatics, healin is part of the there teaching of fresh revelations. The Book of Revelation could nut be anymore clearer on the closed cannon.

L P Cruz said...

That is quite right, when we pray "thy will be done" on healing, that is not a problem, it is when Pentecostals treat God like an equal opportunity employer - that is when things go down to false doctrine.

Also I have been thinking that the nature of faith in the Pentecostal world is far far different from the Lutheran - for starters to them faith has no mysteries, it is all figured out and is formula based.


Past Elder said...

Well here is something I haven't said even over on Schuetz' ruddy blog. During one of my efforts to fall in with the post conciliar RC church, I participated in a charismatic prayer group that was mostly but not entirely RC.

I never got tongues, which while no-one would say so is something like a membership card.

I also spent some time around a church that while not charismatic in the usual sense nonetheless practiced some of them, and their elders regularly carried a small vial of olive oil to pray over the sick.

Yes, I did notice a sort of formula: if you do this, this and this, then God will do that, that and that. Ex opere operato!

What am I looking for? I don't know. Maybe I want someone to up and say Hey, those healings were all bogus or We kept the *really* sick people well off camera.

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

Again same experience as mine, my introduction to charismaticism was from an RC and he invited me to go to their meeting - there were Methodists and Prots of all sorts in that meeting.

Just recently I was invited to go to an "impartation" night, a night when a pastor/speaker pray and prophesied over you.

I went to observe and some did notice that I did not go to be prayed for. I was thinking - gees, where do I run for comfort? If I will not be satisfied with Word and Sacrament nothing will comfort me even if an angel comes to speak encouraging words to me. Do I need prophecy or word of knowledge a direct word from the Lord to comfort me - what about the Word?



Past Elder said...

I guess here's another way to express what bothers me.

I can understand how one can read Scripture, say, and come away thinking the B of C correctly teaches it, or the Westminster Confession correctly teaches it, or thinking it supports the RC or EO view, or even that it really does mean God wants the champion in me to have a big house and an SUV. I'd say the person in the first example was right and the others in varying degrees mistaken.

But it's quite another thing with healings. People are either being healed or they are not. I'm not referring to the person's self understanding but the healer's. Or being slain the Spirit: one is either conferring the Holy Spirit or he is not. They have to know this. They have to know if, really, a lot of people who came sick leave sick too. They have to know if they carefully select who appears with them or not. These guys don't miss on screen. It's one thing to misunderstand one's spontaneous remission as a healing, or misunderstand a psychological disturbance as a charism. But it's another to claim to be producing these things (expressed as being a channel for God to produce them of course). Where are to voices of those who came to a rally to be healed and went home still sick, who got hearded off to the side, etc?

In short, as opposed to a person who has come to a mistaken theological conclusion, they have to know if they are faking it or not. And if they are knowingly faking it and continue to do so in God's name, what does THAT say, and do they continue because most people cannot imagine such an evil. Maybe I'm a simpleton too.

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder.

The mindset of these teachers is that they believe it is God's will to heal, all people all the time. Yet Jesus himself prayed at Gethsemane, "thy will be done'.

So if it is God's desire to heal all people, all the time, and you do not get healed, whose fault isit? Your fault, you just did not have enough faith. That is an ingenious way of escaping the charge of being a false teacher isn't it?

These people know there is something that is not sitting right and yet they persists, I think there is also self-delusion also, and that hurts a lot of people. I am truly amazed that people are giving Benny Hinn some money and Joel Osteen too. It shows naivity and gullibility is rampant in evangelicalism.

I need to dedicate to you my research on Marjoe Goetner, soon.


Past Elder said...

Some decades ago, the medical author William Nolen did a long term follow up on reputed cures from Kathryn Kuhlman, and found no real cures. A couple of months ago, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a show documenting selection of those to be "cured" at Benny Hinn revivals. In my experience with that charismatic prayer group, there were no cures even claimed, though some reported "spiritual" healing of other issues though the physical ailment remained.

Maybe these guys really do think they're healing people. On the other hand, maybe they know they're not and the whole thing is somewhat like an analogue to professional wrestling as opposed to the real sport of wrestling.

In addition to the issue of whether there is intentional fraud by the healers, there is also an issue of signs and wonders. No-one saw more signs and wonders from God than the Israelites coming out of Egypt, yet once out they began to grouse, yearn for their former captivity, and reject the Law at its very giving! Not only that, the NT mentions that God is not the only power capable of producing signs and wonders and darkness can disguise itself as light and lead many astray by signs and wonders. So there seems to be ample Biblical warning against faith built on signs and wonders.

And the issue of the opulent lifestyle of the better known healers. There is a story about the corrupt Renaissance popes -- whose details I do not recall -- where one of them was walking with a reform minded person in the Vatican and said See, Peter can no longer say Gold and silver have I none, to which the person replied Neither can he any longer say Take up thy mat and walk. Apparently our current healers have done the Renaissance popes one better!

I encountered some of this in my wife's terminal illness, for example was approached by members of a congregation whose minister's wife was "healed" of cancer to pray over her. A year or so after my wife died, I discovered the minister's wife did too.

My dad, who was a research physician at an internationally known medical centre, liked to say that anyone who thinks science can explain everything hasn't spent enough time in a hospital or paid enough attention. Yet on the other hand he once commented to me he wondered why Jesus didn't just heal disease itself, ironic in that the cornerstone of the hospital where he worked has "et sanavit omnes", and he healed them all, on its cornerstone. Yet again he once commented that the real issues in life were not medical, and when you send someone home all better to a life they can't stand or filled with hard problems you wonder if you've really done them much of a service.

Apparently there is divine power at work, but not "on demand" by us, though the healers seem to think it is.

You would have liked my dad. He was an RC convert in 1941 in mid life, having long since left the rural religion of his youth, Methodism though not to be confused with Methodism as in the UMC here. He told me one day the pastor had been reading Daniel and figured out when the end of the world would come, gathered everyone to-gether for the event, which came and passed then everyone went home -- and he never returned to the church again. He did however remain RC after the council, though often saying it was like being in a Protestant church again but with a pope.

Sorry for all the personal history. However, I suspect you like myself would prefer life to present itself like an abstract mathematical problem to be worked through, but it just doesn't!

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

I too think that these people are sincere, yet for some remarkable reason, I wonder why they do not chase after their doubts and follow through. One can be deluded and promote that delusion to others. I hope my posting on Marjoe becomes food for thought.

You are one of the few word smiths I have encountered in the world of the web.

though often saying it was like being in a Protestant church again but with a pope.

This one is one of your classic wit, I have a few that I like from your post at Pr. Will's blog. Here is another one
Certainly I'm grateful if Neuhaus helped someone retain his Lutheran faith. Too bad he couldn't similarly help himself.

I can not help but crack up (LOL).

But to come back, yes indeed, ole Mother Church will let you be a Protestant inside her so long as you do not buck the Pope. You see I often wonder if these Prots really have become Prots when they become RCs. Like Beckwith when asked if he was now praying the rosary he said, he has not.

If you want to see the RC in action do not look for it in the western countries (see my post if you have time on ex-inquisitor turned Waldensian Luigi DeSanctis) as they will look Protestant. One should see it where its influence is in full swing - in the South American countries and Philippine Islands. Personally, I will be convinced that they have truly become RCs when they match the piety and practice of people in those lands. There they are acting out their theology, there they are really standing on faith + works.


Past Elder said...

If I have any capacity for writing, it comes from Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading.

In fact, if I ever write a book, I may subtitle it How One Theologises with a Hammer. I was going to call my blog Also sprach der Vorsteher, except I'm not an elder now.

It was interesting to observe the Filipino immigrants I mentioned before by comparison to the locals. They were indeed much more "Catholic" in terms of piety and observance.

Leaving seems to be the one thing one may not do in the RC, all else is allowed. And if one does leave, there is the "come home" campaigns. Christmas is two months away, and I'm sure the "Come home for Christmas" signs are already at the printer. Maybe I should have one printed saying "I left because it isn't home", but I wouldn't get the volume discount they do.

Thank you for your post and dedication, and good words. It is one of the beauties of the age that those who are a world apart need not be a world apart when they are not a world apart.

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

Christmas is two months away, and I'm sure the "Come home for Christmas" signs are already at the printer. Maybe I should have one printed saying "I left because it isn't home", but I wouldn't get the volume discount they do.

There you go again, I can not help but fall off the floor balling(LOL).

I need to take the chuckle of my face, you are a classic. Thank you Past Elder, you are a quotable man. Wit and humor -- ah you are a scholar and a gentleman.

PS You should write something about why Nietsche is the philo that does them all.

Past Elder said...

God bless me if I don't have to quit posting so bloody late. Just confused "ordinary" with "proper" on another blog and was promptly and properly taken to task for it.

Bless us and save us, Mrs O'Davis.

Maybe I should post about Nietzsche. However, he wrote about how he is the philo who does them all far better than I ever could! Maybe I should start another blog, Nietzsche at the Movies.

L P Cruz said...

Yes, Past Elder, you should do Nietzsche in Hollywood. A guy who questions the objectivity of truth must be a philosophical genius! (LOL) What dah?


Past Elder said...

I've read enough Nietzsche, but I don't get to enough movies! The last one was The Game Plan, starring The Rock (Dwayne Johnson, not Peter or Josef Ratzinger).

You know, anyone who can write "The liturgy which is designed to uphold the Gospel becomes its robber." is something of a wordsmith himself!

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

Come to think of it, in the charismatic way of worship, it is the sovereignty of God that is the point of worship, rather than the Cross. The Cross is pre-supposed. So either way and being formal or informal does not as you alluded to guarantee anything.

In fact , I heard if people are going to your services because they are fascinated by the High Churchery you are doing (as it can be pretty transcending), well, guess what -- next time someone who has more High Church worship, well that is where they will go - you just gotta climb higher and higher.

PS. You are a lot more experienced in word-smithing and I would be enthused if some of it rubbed on me.