Monday, December 10, 2007

Doubts and Dilemmas

Questioning is never a good thing from the backgrounds I came from. From the perspective of Mother Church where I was born and grew up, questioning is like bucking at the authority of the anointed Church. Then coming to Charismania, I see the whole thing over again. This time with a different twist, to question is to question the anointing of the minister. In the latter, you are considered a trouble maker. I have heard of people I used to minister to being shunned because they have questions that they mistakenly shared in their Bible Study. So when it comes to doubts on doctrine, you are shunned. When it comes to dilemmas like practical problems of life like problems with relationship, health, guidance etc., they are easily dismissed by a quote from Scripture here or there; like saying here is aspirin, go take it and you should be better in no time. That should fix it.

There are no doubts and dilemmas now a days because all questions that can be asked have been answered already, or so you'd been made to think. Like one time somebody quipped - if Jesus is the answer, what is the question?

However, to have no doubts nor dilemmas is to me to walk by sight and not by faith. Sweeping doubts and dilemmas under the carpet, is living in denial. A Christian life that produces no doubts nor dilemmas is in my thinking sub-Christian.

I think this is looking at the Word of God through the eyes of the senses, i.e. the world. It is like saying - well that one there in the Word is this one here. It is the reverse of looking at the senses through the eyes of the Word. I think in the latter, you see the Word and see your senses and you say, the Word says this, but my senses say otherwise - this to me naturally produces doubts and dilemmas. Well to illustrate, you look at yourself and you see sin in your life, and it is without a doubt (pun here) real. Then you look at the Word and it says God accepts you in Christ for Christ has answered for you, and your mind says -- that is just way too good to be true. So it is not uncommon to encounter doubts and dilemmas in Christian life for what is too good will not go on without its attackers, its very too-goodness invites its challengers and so I look forward to go to church to hear again and again, the promises of God are real and they are for me (you).

My grandmother when she was alive would tell me stories of her experience during WW II, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines prior to The General (MacArthur) returning. Her stories were so vivid, and as a boy I noted how her eyes revealed that she was re-living the trauma and the deliverance from that part of her life. She told me these stories several times and each time as vivid and the same. Sometimes, to while the time, I would be the one to ask her, "tell me the story again" and she virtually brings me there, like I travel a time machine with her and I was with her seeing her fears and hopes.

My presence in church is a sign that I am virtually asking the preacher/pastor to tell me the story of God's promises again. Tell me again what God promised me because I am prone to doubt and see dilemmas.

It seems to me a Christian understanding of faith that leaves no room for mysteries and leaves no room for un-answered questions (with an attitude that even trivializes these), is to say the least, a sub-Christian view of faith.





2 Corinthians 1:20

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

20 comments:

Doorman-Priest said...

Oh FAB LPC. Really insightful. I was taken by the early comment about folk being shunned for being off message. I occasionally go to the evangelical Anglican church my daughters attend where I take great pleasure in NOT being a passive accepter of the received wisdom on offer there.

I love being off message in the knowledge that it really irks them.

I've probably told you far too much about my psyche there haven't I?

L P Cruz said...

D.P.

I should tell you that I have not totally cut off my connections with my charismatic bro/sis because I think they need re-evangelism. I blogged one time the hurt I felt in that they do not even like me to be their friend (some). Some who are still civil with me and welcomes conversation with me, so I drop by and visit them and I splatter some "off" message thoughts whenever I can.

Don't stop going to that place, so long as they have not run you out, let your light shine forth bro.

Blessings,

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

Tag, you are it! You have been officially “tagged” with a book “meme” by J. K. Jones at jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com. See http://jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com/2007/12/books-and-friends.html for details.

If you have already posted on this, so be it, but J. K. would welcome your participation.

L P Cruz said...

OK JK,

You just given me some work to do bro, will get on to it towards the week end, there is a book that made me laugh I need to look in my library. I forgot the exact title but it was a Peanut book (my destiny another Lutheran author).


LPC

Past Elder said...

When I wasn't Christian, and before I knew of, let alone knew, the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, I used to think Christianity was totally useless one plagued oneself with certain questions.

In other words, it creates a problem, then solves it. But the solution means nothing unless one first creates the problem. One could also simply come to the conclusion the problem doesn't exist, therefore the solution to it is irrelevant.

In a way, that's right! There was Law, then there was Gospel. We used the phrase in WELS SOS: Shows Our Sin for Law; Shows Our Saviour for Gospel. No sin, no Saviour from it.

Which is why the evangelicals -- in the American, not the German, sense -- never got me. The Gospel was mostly Law -- here's what you must do to be saved. Sounds like Gospel because Christ is mentioned a lot, but it's really all about me about him, not about him. Law was not preached first, then Gospel; Law and Gospel were not distinguished but mixed as one, light on Law heavy on Gospel, which oddly enough becomes pretty much Law at the same time sounding like pretty much Gospel!

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

I like the SOS I will keep that in my pocket, but is it not most certainly true, we are Law breakers and Law makers?

I used to think the Gospel is well understood when I was in evangelia. My A/G pastor used to point the whole Bible to us and refers to it as the Gospel. What he meant by that now, come to think of it is that it contains the good news as to how you can live a victorious life, that is the good news, not that it has been won for you, but it contains the formula for success.

LPC

Past Elder said...

Your best life now!

Really, I don't think Osteen, Warren et al are so different than "Protestantism" generally, they just take it to the next step.

Maybe that's why Law has become so little mentioned in Protestantism -- because their version of Gospel is Law.

Even if you don't redefine victorious in earthly terms, it's still pretty much about me. When the whole Bible becomes Gospel, then the whole Bible has become Law.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

I was back home when my A/G pastor - (he hails from Springfield, MO, USA) would raise up the Bible and say -"this is the Gospel". I know he meant well and I know he was just trying to help, but it is not accurate to say the Bible is the Gospel, this is as you said, mixing Law and Gospel.

The thing is that we little brown Americans, good colonial folk we are, thought - this was Biblical Christianity.

I can not begin to tell you how highly influential a white American neo-Protestant missionary is back home. They are pretty sincere, no doubts about that, but still, there are false teachings too.

Christine said...

One more comment and then I'll leave because I am posting far too much.

I visited the website of your church -- Calvary Lutheran. I was amazed to see that that the chancel is almost an exact duplicate of the last (ELCA) congregation of which I was a member before becoming Catholic.

I also note that the site posts:

The Lutheran church is one of the major Christian churches. It is the largest Protestant church. There are more than sixty million Lutherans in the world.

Land o' goshen, Past Elder isn't going to like that -- he's NOT a Protestant, ya know.

Never mind that the Lutheran churches all my Lutheran ancestors (in Europe) were members of always saw themselves as Protestant.

But what do they know.

L P Cruz said...

Dear Christine,

People here know that my synod is not in communion with LC-MS. I make no bones however, that it was an LC-MS ministry that tipped me over to moving to the Lutheran tradition.

My synod is an associate member of LWF and an associate member of ILC. It is also in a faith walk just like all of us and is still growing in its understanding of the Christian faith.

In the US the word Protestant does not connote Lutheran, it has been hi-jacked and the same is true for the word Evangelical even though those words we first hanged on the next of historical Lutherans.

From an RC point of view, Lutherans are indeed Protestants; what Lutherans in the USA are doing (based on my observation) is disassociating themselves with American Protestantism which is marked by revivalism and puritanism. It is just a matter of majority. In short, they are Protestant but "not that" kind of Protestant.

In fact one fellow LCA blogging mate is http://mildcolonialboy.wordpress.com/about-the-author/
has no qualms labeling himself a Protestant, neither do I because where we are we know what that means - mainly - non-Roman Catholic ie. Christians in protest to the "tyranny" of Pope.

Mature people I believe need not agree on every point or subject under the sun - people who require such a thing before they can be friends are rather cultic to me.

To paraphrase Luther, you can agree a lot on other things but if both of you got the Gospel wrong, it does not make a hill of beans (or a pig's ass--pun intended based on last discussion) what the heck both of you agree on. It is like majoring on the minor.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

Christine,

Lutherans are Protestants, have been and will always be. But Lutherans are NOT Protestants in the sense of being a denominational amongst the many denominations that there are in this and age. Lutherans are EVANGELICALS. Lutherans have never been not Evangelicals. But they are NOT evangelicals like Billy Graham is a so-called Evangelical, or Joel Osteen, and so on and so forth.

The Lutherans Churches of the Reformation and the Augustana represents the Catholic Church in its fulness. The Mass is celebrated there. The Mass is not offered up, because of the fact that the Cross comes to me, Jesus Who died as the Lamb of God on the Cross comes to me in the Mass, giving His Body and Blood to me which was crucified for my sins so that in EATING and DRINKING, I may have everlasting life. I do not go to the Cross, I do not go to God, I do not go to Jesus, the Cross comes to me.

And God uses the external Word and the Sacraments to "deliver Christ" who has saved me, and is saving and will save me.

I tell ya, the beauty oofff Lutheranism lies in the fact that of all the Protestant sub-traditions, Lutheranism alone fully understands and is faithful to the *Apostles' Creed* which is a summary of the Catholic Faith of the Apostolic Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Creed nowhere mentions belief of the Pope as the Vicar of Christ, the Bodily Assumption of Mary, Mary's Immaculate Conception, Transubstantiation, articles which are de fide according to Rome.

The dying and rising of Christ, that is "Objective Justification". The Communion of Saints and Forgiveness of Sins, that is "Subjective Justification" and so on. Well, I've said enough. But doctrinal development is not like Newman's Darwinian evolutionary leap of logic. Doctrinal development is an acorn growing into an oak tree.

L P Cruz said...

I do not go to the Cross, I do not go to God, I do not go to Jesus, the Cross comes to me.

Amen.

That alone is different already on how one approaches God, we come to receive from God, not that God wants to receive from us. God is the Ever Blessed One He Himself gives for it is more blessed to give than to receive.

So we cry, all praise and glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


LPC

Christine said...

Jesus Who died as the Lamb of God on the Cross comes to me in the Mass, giving His Body and Blood to me which was crucified for my sins so that in EATING and DRINKING, I may have everlasting life. I do not go to the Cross, I do not go to God, I do not go to Jesus, the Cross comes to me.

Mercy, you've just described the Mass in its fullness. It is NOT a "re-sacrificing" of Christ, but a "making present", a "re-calling into time and space" ("anamnesis") of that one, all-sufficient and eternal sacrifice in which, as the Catholic Catechism says, "O Sacred Banquet,
in which Christ is received,
the memory of his passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us." In other words, as Lutherans like to say, "a foretaste of the Feast to come."

But as I think I posted elsewhere, you are preaching to the choir somewhat. My Lutheran upbringing left me pretty well informed as to things Lutheran.

From Lito:

Mature people I believe need not agree on every point or subject under the sun - people who require such a thing before they can be friends are rather cultic to me.

Couldn't agree with you more :-)

L P Cruz said...

his passion is renewed It all depends on what renewed means. Might you not be re-interpreting the Mass from a Lutheran vantage point. I know you may disagree.

I say this because, how will you reconcile the practice of paying the church office for the priest to perform a Mass for your (or one's) dead relative? The priest just performs the Mass without necessarily anyone else being there, just him. Who is to receive the work of Christ in that case when the priest is just by himself doing the Mass and communing?

So what does that do for a dead relative?


LPC

Christine said...

his passion is renewed It all depends on what renewed means. Might you not be re-interpreting the Mass from a Lutheran vantage point. I know you may disagree.

To the extent that Lutherans and Catholics hold to the Real Presence of Christ we surely do agree. Where I disagree with the Lutheran position is that the Presence is only there during Holy Communion. I hold with the historic Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) position that once consecreted, the Presence remains which is why Catholics are reluctant to use small disposable cups for the Precious Blood.

As Scripture says, each time we celebrate the Eucharist we proclaim the death of Christ until he comes again. That "renewal" and "making present" of the Sacrifice of Calvary" will go on until the end of time until the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb and his bride, the Church.

I say this because, how will you reconcile the practice of paying the church office for the priest to perform a Mass for your (or one's) dead relative? The priest just performs the Mass without necessarily anyone else being there, just him. Who is to receive the work of Christ in that case when the priest is just by himself doing the Mass and communing?

Lito, even when a priest celebrates (I don't find the word "performs" accurate) by himself he celebrates with the entire Catholic Church in heaven and on earth. It is never a solitary celebration. Nor do we "pay" priests to celebrate -- the small stipend (in my diocese ten dollars) goes to the priest to support his priestly ministry but it is not a "payment" to "perform" Mass.

So what does that do for a dead relative?

Catholics and Orthodox believe that through out baptism even though the body may lie in the dust until the Parouisa we are never separated in Christ from those who have gone before us. We remember those who have died in Christ (and are more alive than ever in his presence) and in the Mass renew our faith that we will once again see each other face to face in the fullness of the Kingdom. The Holy Eucharist joins us to the Church in heaven and on earth.

Wishing you every blessing and the Lord's peace as Advent gives way to the glorious Feast of the Nativity.

L P Cruz said...

Christine,

My very best wishes to you and your loved ones too before anything else.

Re: Private Mass. It is for the dead, correct? But if in the first place the dead you are offering mass for is already in heaven, then what is it for, they are already celebrating Christ there, faith is no longer faith there but it is now sight for them? The truth is that it is really for souls who are in purgatory.

Purgatory is hardly a settled doctrine of the early church, in fact the EO does not believe in it also.

So in other words, private mass is a means of grace in RC sense-- for the dead.

If you recall, for the Lutheran, worship and praying and fasting and all of those spiritual stuff are not a means of grace. There is a reason for this.

"Celebration" can be turned into a work that is done to appease God who has already been appeased by one act, thereby a bit contradictory.

Do note though that it is not without reason that the Reformers charged the Magisterium with sophistry.

Again my warm wishes too to you and love ones.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

"Nor do we "pay" priests to celebrate -- the small stipend (in my diocese ten dollars) goes to the priest to support his priestly ministry but it is not a "payment" to "perform" Mass."

Well, it definitely doesn't compare with the bank accounts of the VATICAN.

Augustinian Successor said...

Christine,

The Mass is a WORK. Period. It's what in Lutheran terminology, as a reminder since you were once a Lutheran, it's what Lutheran the'ology calls SYNERGISM. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is a GIFT. To repeat, we do not go to Cross, the Cross comes to us. The bread does not become the Body; rather Jesus "becomes bread" FOR US. The Mass is not to be OFFERED. It's to be GIVEN. To offer is precisely to COOPERATE with God the Father alongside Jesus. But neither the Father nor the Son needs our participation.

The Cross STANDS OUTSIDE our participation, experience, etc. We only receive the benefits of His broken Body and shed Blood. Our only participation is that WE killed Him at the Cross. It is WE who crucified Him.

NO, HE DIED SO THAT WE MAY DIE IN OUR SINS. HE ROSE SO THAT WE MAY BE RAISED UP UNTO LIFE. The Cross comes from the outside - extra nos - and puts us to death and raise us up again.We do not offer the Cross. It is the Cross which offered us in the Person of Jesus for RECONCILIATION!

We only offer up our bodies as living sacrifices. That is our offering. We offer our bodies to be wahsed, cleansed, healed, strengthened by the Body and Blood of Jesus! THAT is our offering.

L P Cruz said...

The Cross STANDS OUTSIDE our participation, experience, etc. We only receive the benefits of His broken Body and shed Blood. Our only participation is that WE killed Him at the Cross. It is WE who crucified Him

Nicely done, Bro. Jason.

This RC talk of God wishing us to participate in what he is doing or has done is again another way for the inner brat to justify some form of works again on what has been finished without our help and our involvement - it is the work of God that we believe/trust in whom he has sent.



LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Bro. Lito,

The "essence" of RC *is* synergism. Which is why Mary had to be by its "inner logic" elevated even to the role of CO-Redemptrix. Of course, THAT is synergism at its "best", in its "truest expression".

It's synergism all the way. Man is a co-SAVIOUR with Christ. Christ saves man with his own cooperation. Man is his own saviour to an extent!

Sure, man's role has no merit in itself, only as he is engraced for the purpose. But his DOING contributes to his salvation, and that of others! This is why the Mass is turned into an propitiatory sacrifice, there are indulgences, and yes, purgatory.

The Mass is a *contradiction* of the Cross. If the Cross is once-for-all, why it need to be represented. If it is represented to make present the Cross, why does have to be offered? And if its offered, how can the Cross be all-sufficient???

If Christ died for all, and reconciliation has been made by that propitiation, then the Mass is but the application of the Cross of Jesus to His Church TO BE RECEIVED. What is represented, what is made present is NOT the death and resurrection of Jesus but the forgiveness of sins, the absolution, declaration of justification AT THE CROSS. That is what is made present here and now.