Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A mathematician speaks about Darwinism

Here is what Dr. David Berlinski, a mathematician, who is not even a Christian, says about Darwinism.

Knowing what the scientific method entails, it is really hard to believe evolutionary theory is a science. It is science only by dictum but not in practice. Here Berlinski argues against from an engineering standpoint.

Evolution plays so much on this thing called "randomness", meaning - accidental. Perhaps this is the best time now for me to assert that randomness in science does not really exists but it is a mathematical construct, a bit bucket to direct our none-knowlege of information we do not yet possess. Philosophically and mathematically there is no such thing as randomness.

Let me explain, take the process of tossing a coin in the air, probability says that it will land 50% heads or 50% tails. Now that is true if we do not have more information than the possibilities of outcome. However, if I know that the landing of heads or tails is influenced by other factors, like wind direction, weight of the coin, material composition, if I know the starting angle my thumb lifts it and the height it goes and the material it lands (it could bounce), I will be able to predict what comes up and not rely on 50-50 chance. The reason why we go by probabilities is only because we do not know these factors, but if we do, we will not calculate what face will land based on it, we will use these information to build a formula and that is what we will use.

Evolution says that information is random but randomness when you go down to the core is none-existent.

As a person trained in mathematics, I have to have more faith to believe that evolution theory is science.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What George Bailey Taught me

I read of one pastor having a good cry each time it is Christmas or Easter.

Well, I have watched It's A Wonderful Life for the n-th time and once again according to my semi-religious Christmas tradition, I watched it for n+1. I do not know how many times I have seen this good heart movie but I never cried. I am serious, no kidding. I am not a crier.

Anyway, I just realized I was being teary when little boy George Bailey got slapped in the ear by Mr. Gower, that did me in and the missus saw what was happening. She called the visitors to see the show, me having a cry. I do not cry easy that is why she called them to the living room. So visitors and all, watched the film with me.

This George Bailey is a sweet guy, he is good natured. He is a gentleman. You can learn a lot from him, specially his love for reading, the way he denied himself for the sake of family and friends, the little people of Bedford Falls.

Now I have read people watching this film and they swear they cry every time. As far as I can recall, only this year did I cry.

Do you want to know why people cry when they watch this movie? Because deep down inside each and everyone of us longs to see what is beautiful, lovely and what is right, triumph once in a while. We want to see what is noble get to the top for once.

What do you think? Perhaps you can better articulate what I am saying. Give me some points. Could it be the imago dei in us?

A few things I can spot in this film worth learning is that we should
Remember no man is a failure who has friends.

Last of all, Bailey will teach you to say "Hee Haw".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peace to all who visit here.

To all the friends known and not known who have visited here, looked around, watched and shared my journey this year; I announce peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you and your loved ones, may you be filled with peace that passes all human understanding.

Romans 5
1(A) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,(B) we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also(C) obtained access by faith[b] into this grace(D) in which we stand, and(E) we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The thief, JBFA and Origen

If there is an example of a man in the Bible who got saved by faith in Christ alone, it has to be the thief at Calvary. This is recorded in Luke 23...

39(AH)One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? (AI)Save Yourself and us!"

40But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?

41"And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."

42And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!"

43And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in (AJ)Paradise." (NASB)

We note here that this man did not get a chance to do any good work, did not get the chance to undo what he had done. In fact this man was even a clear violator of the Law, he admitted his guilt. Lastly, this man did not even get a chance to cooperate with infused grace that manifests in action. This is simply a case of Acts 2:21.

It seems to me, the most offensive part of Justification By Faith Alone is the "ALONE" part. If one does not believe that it is by faith alone, then there must be something added along side faith.

I heard people claiming that this particle "alone" is not even used by ancient Christians in their language, that it was an invention of Luther. So I browsed through my book, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture VI Romans, edifted by Gerald Bray (I have not enough money to buy the entire set, so if there was a volume I had to get, it had to be Romans). On p.100, on Rom 3:28, Origen says this...

It remains for us who are trying to affirm everything the apostle says, and to do so in the proper order, to inquire who is justified by faith alone, apart from works. If an example is required, I think it must suffice to mention the thief on the cross, who asked Christ to save him and was told: "Truly, this day you will be with me in paradise"...A man is justified by faith. The works of the law can make no contribution to this. Where there is no faith which might justify the believer, even if there are works of the law these are not based on the foundation of faith. Even if they are good in themselves they cannot justify the one who does them, because faith is lacking, and faith is the mark of those who are justified by God. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

Now, this clearly shows it was not Luther who invented that kind of language. Further, I admit I have not studied all of Origen's doctrine, but let us say that in some portion he amplifies infused grace and righteousness. What can we conclude? Then at least we should conclude that Origen was not consistent with his own self! But surely we can not conclude that the "alone" language was invented by Luther... "alone". History is showing that the claim against Luther's contention is propaganda.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Full/fool, or many Gospels

My sister-in-law just recently understood the free gift of God - Christ. She was a bit in tears when I relayed to her the story of our salvation. Needless to say, she and her family attend our local church.

So time went on.

A month ago she and her husband went to a fiesta held by the Filipino community here in Melbourne. She was hired by our friends to distribute some promotional leaflets, so naturally she bumped into lots of people in the fiesta.

Amazingly she did bump into one of her old time friend from Manila. So she and this friend began to talk. In the course of conversation, the friend semi-proudly said to my in-laws that she attends a "born again" Christian church. In my sister-in-law's excitement she and her husband spoke about me and how they now attend church with me.

Her friend disappointedly said to them, "oh what a shame, he should be Full Gospel and should attend a Full Gospel Church". This threw my sister-in-law into a confusing spin. When she reached home with a concerned face, she relayed this incident to me. I had to do a lot of explaining.

My reply to her: "You see these folk believe there are several components to the Gospel. Unlike us, these folk do not believe that there is one and only one Gospel - the forgiveness of your sins at the Cross of Christ freely given by God. For them, it is just one aspect of the Gospel. Jesus came not just to die for you but to make you healthy, wealthy and wise. These for them are all equal in importance to Jesus' payment for sins. So when we simply preach Jesus at the Cross, they criticize us for being not-Full Gospel".

Full or Fool Gospel?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Godel and Falsifiability of Evolution

Falsifiability in science is a very important concept. For me, a scientific theory deserves serious consideration only if it is falsifiable. Simply put, assume the theory to be false, can we have a method of verifying this physically by experiment or observation? OK, I am Popperian ( Karl Popper another Lutheran) in this regard, I offer no apologies and not ashamed of it because I believe his requirement of falsifiability is common sense.

Example of what is falsifiable: Theory of Gravity: It says what goes up must come down ( spinning wheel ... I won't sing it). Assume this theory is false, is there a way of confirming its falsehood? Yes, throw an object in the air and if it does not land down, you can say - heck Newton was wrong. Ergo: Theory of Gravity is scientific.

Take the case of Theory of Evolution - is this falsifiable? No. There is no physical method of validating its falsehood. Why? You need ions and ions of time and by that time, the experimenter is already dead before he sees evidence of this. So, sorry this is not science. I don't buy it for that reason - it does not meet falsifiability. There is no physical way of observing this phenomenon in action

Aha, but maybe there is!

Enter Kurt Godel (my patron logician - see my picture? another Lutheran , OK you get it I am biased). Godel brought Einstein's Theory of Relativity (ETR) to its final conclusion. Godel calculated that by virtue of ETR, it is possible to do time travel, if you travel at the speed of light.

So how does Godel help falsifiability of Evolution?

Simple, we ask the Evolutionary Theorist when she thought a particular specie evolved to another - she says , this happened according to carbon dating, for the sake of argument, 10Billion years ago.

Easy. We set the time machine to year = -10,000,000,000 years and go there and observe Evolution in action. You can even see that specie giving birth and even die.

Sounds good? Ya with me? No? You think this is nonsense? Well at least deep nonsense.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to lose friends

and irritate (p.... off) people.
Just put out a contrary opinion. Express some doubts on a point of view.
Simply because someone is an adult does not mean, the person is mature.
I respect people's convictions no matter how wrong they are. I was wrong once myself.
I know how it is, ever since I knew it all I have been revising my paradigm.


Wanna see some more?


Here it is.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Every 2 mins

Look at this article from news.com.au about how progress, economic boom is affecting China.

Read here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Consistency, not enough.

Most people are swayed by apologists who claim that their systematic theology is consistent within itself.

Consistency is appealing to many people. Common sense can detect when statements are contradictory. Apologists would point to the Law of Non-Contradiction, that it is not violated by their theology, and so on and thus it must be true. So laymen are easily sucked up by such propaganda.

Do not get me wrong, consistency is very very important and it must exist in a system. However, it is not enough. It is a necessary condition but it is not sufficient; and this is where the unsuspecting Christian gets rounded up. They get rounded up because they look at consistency syntactically, and not semantically.

When it comes to TRUTH, consistency is not enough. Rather you must demonstrate a world wherein your statements are true (in logic, this is called a model).


All unicorns are horses that have one horn.
Silver is a unicorn.

Ergo: Silver has one horn.

This is good syllogism, and it is consistent, valid reasoning. But this is not yet true. We must demonstrate there are indeed unicorns. We must demonstrate also there is a unicorn named Silver. So where is that world?

The name calling in Calvinism/Hyper-Calvinism or Arminianism/Hyper-Arminianism etc happening in the Evangelical world hinges on the concept of consistency, but consistency is not enough.

Consistency is good, and it is mandatory, we will not accept any less, but the question with consistency is this - consistent with what? With philosophy or the Bible?

This is where I find Lutheranism different. It has no shame, no insecurity and no sense of guilt when it is not able to answer certain questions. Faith does not always have the answers, it believes what the Scripture promises even when the senses say otherwise.

Friday, December 05, 2008

What Starbucks learned from the Church

Coffee is good, all the time!

This is what would happen should Starbucks marketed coffee like the Church markets Christ/Christianity.

Sheeesh.... Java-luuuuhyaaaahhhhh!

Double Jeopardy Doubles as no JBFA

I am still continuing on the rise of Calvinism in Evangelicalism.

The nice thing about the Web is that it has made the world a lot more smaller. With it we can know what is happening in a remote section of the world. So I have been reading on the storm brewing in SBC regarding the subject of Calvinism and the recent John 3:16 Conference last October 2008. Hopefully this does not finally divide the denomination but right now it is a source of controversy. What is controversial is the attaching of the label hyper-calvinist to some Calvinistic promoters within SBC.

More than a year ago, I came to the conclusion that most Calvinists in the popular evangelical scene are really Owenian rather than Calvinian. I mean they are Owenian in their staunch defense of Limited Atonement.

Before I go on, we may need the input of the following in this conversation: JK, who happens to be a Southern Baptist, and David who writes about Calvin and Calvinism.

OK, back to the argument of Owen for Limited Atonement.

John Owen, that revered awesome Puritan theologian, offered the following argument in favor for believing in Limited Atonement:

He puts the universal atonement believer on the stand and asks this question.

You will say, “Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.” But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not; if so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins? Let them choose which part they will.

But as Pr. Neil Chambers pointed out in his Th M thesis (an acquaintance of mine), Owen's position leads to the elect being justified already at Calvary. Here is what Rev. Chambers' said

What needs to be seen is that Owen’s argument defeats itself by proving too much. If, in Owen’s terms, Christ died for all the sins of some people, the elect, then he must also have died for their unbelief, where ‘died for’ is understood to mean having paid the penalty for all their sins at Calvary. If this is the case, then why are the elect not saved at Calvary? If Owen replies that it is because the benefits of Christ’s death are not yet applied to them, then I would ask what it means for those benefits not to be applied to them? Surely it means that they are unbelieving, and therefore cannot be spoken of as saved. But they cannot be punished for that unbelief, as its penalty has been paid and God, as Owen assures us, will not exact a second penalty for the one offense. If then, even in their unbelief, there is no debt against them, no penalty to be paid, surely they can be described as saved, and saved at Calvary. That being the case, the gospel is reduced to a cipher, a form of informing the saved of their blessed condition.

Notice I highlighted the portion which is of interest to me. Owenian Limited Atonement therefore leads one to believe that the elect are already justified at the Cross. Therefore that means the elect are justified with out faith. But then, this means that this is not JBFA.

Now does not that sound familiar to you? Does not this Limited Atonement conclusion lead to something we are familiar with and have been discussing for some time (hint look at the few posts below on justification)?

I am amazed and struck at the similarity of conclusion.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wall Street Cancels Christmas

Can you imagine no Christmas? I can.

20 years ago it would be hard to imagine but with the triumph of political correctness, the increasing hostility against things Christian plus the economic depression, it is for certain that 50-100 years from now, no more Christmas.

Read something funny, or else you will cry so I recommend Strange Herrings.

Actually, I believe Sacramone and Martin Luther (Doktor) is the same person. The news that one is the assistant of the other is just --- red herring to me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Reformed - what is up with the 5-pointy things

Them 5-Pointy things.

Sometimes I wonder off in Internet land and I listen to a web cast hosted by a Reformed Baptist. I have been intrigued with this host because each time he introduces his guests, he introduces them with the words... 'a theologically Reformed pastor', 'an evangelically Reformed person' or something like that etc.

Why is it so important for him to let people know that the guest happens to be a 'Reformed' person?

The label "Reformed" is a covetted word nowadays in Evangelicadia.

With the chaos, confusion, disillusionments happening in the Evangelical movement, it is no surprize that people are leaving this movement. The move away is happening specially to university/college kids brought up in Evangelical environment.

It is understandable that they are moving towards Reformed confessions or theology. For after all Evangelicalism is a melting pot which has been fed by several streams. The Reformed movement has some Revivalistic/Puritan streak anyway. Some heroes would be Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield etc. However there are other sources too like John Wesley, Charles Finney etc. So young people looking for their roots will naturally gravitate to what is closest and semi-familiar. But why?

Well because Evangelicalism has become a faith without a confession. They have these 16 lines in their Statement of Faiths but that is precisely why they are in a mess right now. Anyone who does not attack those 16 points can get away with murder.

Probably the most influential Reformed (Calvinist) preacher today would be Dr. John Piper who actively promotes his 5-pointedness. He is popular amongst young people and they are soaking up his books and sermons.

Well, I have been there, done that, spat the dummy and I gave away the T-shirt.

Young people should stop reading Desiring God and instead pick up the movement's confession and compare it with Scripture. Hopefully they are not in for another bum-steer.

But then again, young people are into fads. What if being Reformed is just another Evangelical fad?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Does faith create justification?

I was asked that question almost a year ago. It is fair question. I could even add a corollary question - is there a righteousness that is independent of my faith?

To the question: Does faith create justification?
My answer: No.

Is there a righteousness that is independent of my faith that is out there?
My answer: Yes.

However, to explain why my answers are such, I can not deal with these two questions separately but I must explain in such a way that the two questions are answered simultaneously; when we consider the question in the light of Christ and His Cross, the questions are simultaneously answered.

Firstly, our story or oops, his story: Jesus Christ, the Son of God lived a perfect sinless life and gave himself as a ransom for the sins of the world. The nature of this Christ is that he is the Just One and The Righteous One, the One that can stand before the Father - perfect, he is the Justified One.

Faith simply grabs a hold of what is already there - it grabs a hold of the Christ - the Righteous One who paid the sins of the sinner. This is to me why faith justifies, it justifies because it is grabbing a hold of the Justified One, the Righteous One. That is why faith is reckoned as righteousness because it is grabbing a hold of the Righteous One.

That is why, to the question - does faith create justification? My answer is NO. It receives what is already there - the Justified One/ Christ our Righteousness.

That is why also, to the question - is there a righteousness that is outside me that is independent of my faith - I answer with a YES, Jesus Christ our Lord is that ever Righteous One. He stands ever outside me that is why I (we) can use him in front of the Law of God that condemns me(us). The question is not because faith receives, for faith can receive anything, rather, the question is what does it receive? Faith lays hold of the Righteous One as his righteousness.

Do you see any discussion of UOJ there in that explanation? I certainly don't and I suggest neither do the BoC editors need such construction to assure us of God's forgiveness of our sins.

First from the BoC, AP IV, 291-2
The Gospel shows another way. It compels us to use Christ in our justification. It teaches that through him we have access to God through faith and that we should set him, the mediator and propitiator, against the wrath of God. It teaches that by faith in Christ we received the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, and victory over the terrors of sin and death.
Faith alone accepts the forgiveness of sins, justifies, and regenerates...As we have already stated, we teach a man is justified when, with his conscience terrified by the preaching of penitence, he takes heart and believes that he has a gracious God for Christ's sake. This faith is accounted for righteousness before God (Rom 4:3-5)

See also SD III, 13.

Let me further quote Jacob Heerbrand (in R. Preus' Justification and Rome)

....We are not justified by faith insofar as it is a quality in us, as again the enemies of God's grace, the Neo-Pelagians, falsely accuse us of teaching, namely, that the unrighteous are justified when they have a certain idea (or rather dream) that they are righteous. No, we are justified by faith in so far as it apprehends Christ who for us was made righteousness by God, sanctification and redemption, and insofar as faith is concerned applies Christ's merit to itself.

I highlighted some portion above in that quote because I found that comment interesting and perhaps worthy of reflection.

How about Abraham Calov, Apodixis Articulorum Fidei (again in R. Preus' Justification and Rome)?

Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God's children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Romans 4:25, and Dr. Emmett Brown

In keeping the comment of the missus that I am the person who likes to answer questions no one is asking, I might as well live up to it.

The discussion so far has led me to much thinking and Romans 4:25 came up in my musings.

I recall that in my doubts about UOJ, a pastor from the States pointed this passage to me as proof of UOJ.

So today I went to check the original.

First in English (thanks to www.zhubert.com)...

Romans 4:25

who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (ESV)

Then in NT Greek...
Romans 4:25

ὃς παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν

The pastor pointed out that at the resurrection of Christ, all human beings have been justified - meaning - treated not guilty or declared by God as righteous, irrespective of faith on our part.

To the contrary my skepticism understands the Gospel that at the Cross, Jesus paid the debt I owe. On the other hand UOJ says, God has declared people righteous independent of their faith.

Notice that there are two phrases starting off by διὰ. The first one has been translated in English "for our trespasses", the second "for our justification". The pastor said that Rom 4:25 says that when God raised Jesus from the dead he made a declaration too that all humans are now declared righteous - proof verse of UOJ.

So, OK, the crucial question to be examined in my mind then is how should that διὰ to be taken? Now both instances of this preposition have the so called accusative form. As one pastor I heard said, NT Theology is operated by prepositions (to paraphrase him). Prepositions in Greek are followed by forms to tell the reader how that phrase is to be taken. Here the context is that the accusative should be taken as a marker for time.

Commentators say that there are 2 ways of taking those phrases, either retrospective (past) or prospective(future). If retrospective, then the American pastor may have a good point. Meaning, our justification happened in the past.

There may be doubts as to how the first should be taken (for our trespasses) - hence, he was put to death on account of our past sins (retrospective), or put to death on account of our on going sins (prospective).

However, commentators like Sanday and Hedlam and C K Barrett, comment that the second is no doubt prospective - i.e. "with the view of our justification". Barrett even find the retrospective view (the pastor's view) artificial, (I think he means grasphing at the straws). Stuhlmacher also includes faith in his analysis of this phrase.

OK may be I am also biased, I was taught in uni to take this accusative of time as "with the view of". Yet the force of this accusative is not able to dissuade me from looking at that διὰ to mean "with the view" because even if you translate it as "because of" or "for the sake of our justification" etc, you can not still avoid the possibility of it being taken in the prospective, i.e. you have not ruled beyond reasonable doubt the impossibility of the prospective sense.

So to quote what Dr. Emmett Brown said to Marty in Back to The Future, it (in this case justification) happens in your space- time continuum.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers

To the dear friends in the USA who regularly drop in and read, or lurk etc. around this humble blog, my best wishes to you today.

Have a good day catching up with family and friends.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Origins of UOJ

I need to bare my soul, be honest and say something on this.

Ichabod has done research on the origins of UOJ, what is known in our circles as universal objective justification. This is the teaching that everyone is being treated by God as righteous since the Cross, be they believe it or not.

Briefly, there is evidence that the concept came from the author George Christian Knapp from Halle University which happens to be the turf of pietism. This concept is contained in his book Lectures in Christian Theology 1833. Apparently this influenced the USA Synodical Conference leaders, that is, if one notes the date and timing. There are more things I could say to its contents, for example, it is advocating inward looking evidence for justfication, which is enthusiasm, but I won't go into that right now.

In section 113, p. 317, it says...

1. The Universality of this Benefit
It is universal as the atonement itself; vid. 111, II.If the atonement extends to the whole human race, justification must also be universal--i.e., all must be able to obtain the actual forgiveness of their sins and blessedness on account of the atonement of Christ. But in order to obviate mistakes, some points may require explanation. Justification then is universal,

*[This is very conveniently expressed by the terms objective and subjective justification. Objective justification is the act of God, by which he profers pardon to all through Christ; subjective is the act of man, by which he accepts the pardon freely offered in the gospel. The former is universal, the latter not. Tr]

N.B. italics are not mine. Notice where the words 'objective' and 'subjective' are introduced by the translator.

At first I thought UOJ was the same as UOA (universal objective atonement) because I for one believe that the latter is the Biblical teaching, Christ died for sinners, the propitiation of the sins of the world. But UOJ says God is treating all righteous be they have faith in Christ or not, for this happened 2000 years ago.

Take at one advocate of UOJ arguing for its justification...

Franz Pieper, along with Georg Stöckhardt, Herman A. Preus, Jacob Aall Ottesen, U.V. Koren, Adolph Hoenecke and others, recognized the greatness of the doctrine as taught by C.F.W. Walther. And it started with the Lutheran doctrine of Justification- Objective and Universal!

"That’s nice" says the world, "but of course you must believe first before you can be justified. You must remember the great Lutheran tenet, ‘justification by faith.’

"No, I believe what Dr. Pieper taught- there is a justification that exists before faith, before believing it, for all. That is called the universal/objective justification.

"Well, surely you would not discount faith in the order of salvation, would you?" says the world.

I would eliminate faith as a requirement that makes justification true. That would be making faith a work of mine. The Bible teaches that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Thereby is the teaching of faith upheld for it teaches the object of saving faith, the vicarious satisfaction worked by Christ.

Today I object (or am skeptical) with UOJ (a bit of pun) terminology. I am not so sure about this concept and taxonomy. I believe this confuses categories and has disastrous effects.

Just take a look at the Knapp quote, that is what he was doing, confusing the atonement with justification. The latter is the treating or the reckoning sinners as righteous but if we look at the term 'justification' it is always connected with faith in the Gospel, in that Atonement. You reject that Atonement/ the Gospel then you are not justified. UOJ imples a double justification - one at the Cross or Resurrection and then one when you believe, yet this leads to confusion and philosophical conundrums (why are there people in hell if they have already been declared righteous?). I see the Bible speaking of justification at the point of faith; Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, not before...Rom 4:22-25

Also theBible teaches no faith means no salvation - cf Mk 16:16. God brings the Means of Grace to us - Word and Sacrament so that we might be justified when the means of grace, creates faith in us.

Faith is a condition, but it is not a condition we meet in ourselves, rather it is a condition that God creates in us through promising the Gospel of Christ's payment of sacrifice, telling us Christ has answered for us - done, finished. We are capable of rejecting this Gospel when it is brought to us by Word or Sacrament and so we are not justified when we reject it. For this reason the BoC admonishes us to stick be/exposed to the Means of Grace - Word and Sacrament as found in the Scriptures that faith might be continually created and strengthened in our hearts.

My opinion is that UOJ leads to disastrous effects and no, it is not just a matter of semantics. I believe this is the one behind the romancing that is happening with Lutherites moving to Rome or Constantinople. I will not be surprized if those who have left have this in their psyche. For after all, if everyone is saved/justified anyway the rest is just fiddling with semantics, they all pan out to be the same in the end. It does not matter if anyone gets the categories wrong all are justified anyway (which is functional universalism).

Isn't that the reason why we have the Reformation is because of categories ? Wasn't the issue about the mixing categories - justification confused with sanctification? Same thing here, I reckon.

See what I mean?

I want to hear from you.

International Trademarking

I have been thinking.

What if the Pope applies to trademark internationally the word 'catholic' and succeeds?

Does that mean he can sue us when we recite the Apostle's Creed, since it appears in the 3rd Article?

Monday, November 24, 2008

All for Vesper

I like this version of James Bond.

He is fair dinkum. The previous ones seemed synthetic to me.

This version of 007 is vulnerable and more realistic.

Man, this guy even cries and even wears T-shirts.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What the editor of the BoC wrote...

They say that when bank tellers are being taught to spot fake notes, they are made to spend more time analyzing the properties of the real ones. They get so familiar with the real thing that spotting irregularities in a bill becomes second nature.

Anyway as a Christian in the Reformation movement, I believe it is of prime importance that I be familiar first with the Scripture, the confession I profess (BoC), and some classic works that expound on that confession. For lack of time, I have a thin knowledge of Augustine or any well known Fathers.

I should think it would certainly be an embarassment if I were more familiar with the I-Ching rather than Scripture and the BoC. I am not a Lutheran pastor but I should think it is certainly unbecoming for a Lutheran pastor to be unfamiliar with Scripture, the BoC, and some of its classic expounders.

On the subject of the BoC purposely misleading its readers regarding the Fathers or things like that, I wish to give an excerpt from Martin Chemnitz, one of the editors of the BoC on what he said about them and the subject of justificare...

From The Examination of Council of Trent I (Section I, Article I, 4c, p. 468), this is what Chemnitz says and you be the judge...

For although the fathers mostly take the word "justify" for the renewal, by which the works of righteousness are wrought in us through the Spirit, we do not start a quarrel with them where they according to Scripture rightly and appropriately teach the doctrine how and when a person is reconciled to God, receives the remission of sins and the adoption, and is accepted to life eternal. This difference in meanings has often been shown by our teachers, and also how the former meaning can be rightly, piously, and skillfully understood and admitterd according to the analogy of faith and the perpetual sense of the Scripture if it is accepted with the fathers according to the manner of the Latin composition. However, the papalists habe not been placated at all. For the dissension and strife in the article of justification is not only about words but chiefly about the matters themselves.

Now does this sound like someone wanting to mis-represent the Fathers to its readers? Is this not a reasonable admission where they agreed and where they differed?

More on Article II, p.469, 1.

We, indeed, also teach that newness of life is begun in the believers through the Holy Spirit; but we say that we are not by that newness justified before God, that is, that our newness is not that on account of which we are received into grace and receive the remission of sins, and that it is not that on which faith should rest when it delas with God that we may be adopted as sons and received to eternal life. Therefore the Tridentine decrees on justification are patched together out of very manifold deceptions, as we have hitherto shown.

To suggest that the BoC writers were purposeful liars is to suggest that they were brainless scholars i.e. stupid thick idiots who believed they could hoodwink the world.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The BoC lied about Augustine...

This is the charge that Dan Woodring of Beatus Vir is making against the BoC, (and perhaps the reason why he became an RC) .

You will find his charges in the post Lutheranism: Only Half of the Gospel. Here is the snippet...

The day I stopped being a Lutheran was when I realized that the Book of Concord lied about what Augustine and the Catholic Church taught on Justification. I realized I could not subscribe to a book that was untruthful. Why couldn't they make their case, and say "We disagree with Augustine" and present the Roman Catholic view accurately and make their case without distorting the position of their opponents?

His charge is worth discussing and is worthy of serious thought. Asside from that, I have never heard such a charge before, it is new to me and interesting. Note I do not know everything, if someone can show me why his charge should not be taken seriously, let me know since that is the purpose of the discussion. It is interesting because it entails an exercise on BoC exegesis. Lastly, I wish to answer the charge. My answer will need further development (I have to admit), but all I need is to cast reasonable doubt on the charge.

I asked Dan if he can cite in the BoC wherein it explicitly misrepresented Augustine or the Fathers on the subject of Justification. The best he could come up was this...

"We know that that what we have said agrees with the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, with the holy Fathers Ambrose, Augustine, and many others, and with the whole Church of Christ, which certainly confesses that Christ is the propitiator and the justifier."

(you will find it in the comments here)

This is found in the Apology of Augsburg III(Love and Fulfilling the Law), 268.

We have a few questions: What is the meaning of the phrase "what we have said"? Did this refer to those things in Article III, Article II, or those things inclusive from the start? For Dan ,I believe this meant all of the things said thus far... at a minimum, perhaps Article II(Justification).

This raises several nuanced questions with my answers, what is yours?

1. What does it mean to subscribe to the BoC ?Is it verbatim subscription?
I for one do not consider the BoC inspired, I consider only Scripture is inspired. I examined the claims of the BoC against Scripture and I find its exposition accurate. Further, I do not subscribe to the words per se, but I subscribe to the meaning of those words. Thus I subscribe to the intent or semantics of those words. The BoC is not another set of Laws to me.

2. How should the BoC be read?
I read it paying particular attention to its context and the intent of the writer, i.e. content. For example, I have spotted Luther in the Large Catechism, quoting Scripture from memory and his reference was wrong.

So in this regard, I wish to answer the charge against the alleged lying performed by the BoC in AP III, 268.

1.) First let me note what its says i.e. what it asserts. Technically, 268 is not explicitly saying that the Fathers believed in Reformation Justification in toto like the Augsburgians do. Look again at the statement - it asserts that the Fathers believed that Jesus is the Propitiator and Justifier. Now, tell me, is there a Church Father that would deny this? Ask ourselves as reasonably as we can, would Augustine or Ambrose deny this - that Jesus is the Propitiator/Justifier?

2.) The assertion belongs to a whole swag of sentences and belongs in the paragraph which started in 262. Read it here for yourself. Notice it argues for the good thing called - faith (in the Christian sense), that faith produces a confession, that the Church ends its prayers in an appeal for the sake of Christ, that faith apprehends the promise of reconciliation, it quickens, that the Law cannot be observed without Christ etc. Proper hermeneutics says that the statement should be understood within its context and the domain of that context, it is safe to assume, is that paragraph and not necessarily beyond it. The question that one should ask is this...Would Augustine or Ambrose object to the statements made in this paragraph? I suggest NO.

The burden is with Dan to show that the Fathers denied this.

3.) I argue that the 268 clip forms part of Melanchton's rhetorics. For example when we are illustrating a point, our point is not in the minutae but in the overall thrust the statement is making. Hence, in saying "Good men, indeed, will easily judge these things", he was not implying he has interview all good men around the world. That is not his point, not in the details but what is reasonable to assume. Further he also used the phrase "many others" in the paragraph, and the phrase "we know what we said agrees". These phrases are rhetorical elements. To illustrate, I know certain things, and what I know, you as a reader do not necessarily know. I also could be wrong in what I know to be consistent with facts. For Melanchton, what is contained in the paragraph flows from the assertion that the Church has always made - that Jesus is Propitiator/Justifier. For him, this is what it means[at least those in the paragraph, or Article III ] to make such confession about the Christ. I argue that 268 forms part of Melanchton's rhetorics to show that what was just said (at a minimum) on Love and Fulfilling The Law, the Scripture (I believe for sure) and the Fathers would not assail.

On those 3 points I suggested above, I believe the charge is flawed.

[PS. Welcome if you are a visiting from Boar's Head Tavern]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Atheists should have a Statement of Faith.

A couple of evenings ago, I went to an Atheist Society sponsored talk. I went to listen how someone unconverted from being a Catholic to an "Atheist".

Notice I deliberately placed the quotes in "atheist".

At the start of the talk, the chairman, said that their followers disagree as to what an atheist or an agnostic is. They could not define this thing. Funny, for people who claim to be rational, putting a definition to a tag/name/label is fundamental to rational thought. Pure and simple what gives you the right to a label when in fact you do not know what that thing represents? Comprende?

As I sat to hear the leader's preface for the talk, my own sarcasmagoric self said - hmmm, "adopt-a-word" movement. I can't help it but the thought kept running in my mind. The funny thing is that they can not agree amongst themselves the proper meaning of the word "atheist". You would think people who claim to be rational should have a method of resolving conflicts in ideas, no? Nope.

Anyway the talk was given by a news columnist. I asked questions and I believe I was polite in my behavior, I was never at a point asked to leave or booed down. Over all, she left Catholicism, the idea of God, Jesus and so forth because...she saw the life of her parents and observed how they behaved inconsistently with what they professed. I asked her about this and she said this was a good factor in her de-conversion experience.

I felt sorry for her and sad for her(of course she is happy without my pity). How many times have I read and heard something like this? Lots of times. In the end I simply had to dismiss her conclusion and not take it seriously. I know it is a horrible thing to say, but one's faith is not invalidated as a piece of crock simply because the professor failed to live according to its ideals. It has no direct connection to the truth or falsehood of the faith.

But Christianity is not about morals, that might be what she was taught in her Catholic home, but Christianity is not about being moral. If Christianity were about morals there would be no need to become a Christian, every religion out there be atheist or satanist, is selling a brand of morality already.

Funny in the middle of the talk she said they should be called "rationalists". The thing though is that the fallacy of a rationalist's reasoning is hidden to the rationalist itself.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Appalling lack of love

I had been feeling quite bad a few weeks ago.

I was evaluating my love for Christ a few weeks back and I did not like what I saw. I felt so ashamed of myself.

The more I look at my love for Jesus and compare it to how others love him, mine is below par. I used to have the zeal, passion or enthusiasm that they have. However, today it seems down the tubes. My score is so obviously low in this department. This can be rather pathetic since I am active in church work and it is quite embarassing since I teach the Bible and run a study group.

Then something happened a few days after that. My friends and I were discussing again the point of the Gospel and I was struck again by this thought while I was speaking to them...try not to find how to love Jesus more, rather look at how much Jesus loves you.

This is quite stumbling. What? If you want to love Jesus more, don't focus on how you do it, rather remember how Jesus loves you, i.e. bask in what he has done for you.

My love for Jesus is not something generated within me, but something created by the truth that is outside me.

Jesus loves me
this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
So the song goes.

Remembering how Jesus loves you has some pretty interesting fruits. Besides, the Gospel is not about how you should love Jesus, but how Jesus loves you. When you find out that he is the forgiver of your sins even today, you will love him more.

1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More on Imputation/Impartation.

Dan Woodring is taking me to task on the above issue. I am glad we are having this exchange.

I am putting his comments in view so that others may see the discussion more prominently, and not miss the thrill of the discussion and excitement. Here is what Dan said...You can find what I and A.S. thus far have said here. Dan begins...

You said that the unregerate man cannot, on his own, trust in Christ. Rightly so.

However, that trust, or faith, is worked in us through the Holy Spirit. "I believe that I cannot by my own reason and strength believe in Jesus Christ..." Faith is something that can only come through the inworking of the Holy Spirit. That is the flaw in the whole impartation vs. imputation thing. Because of faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us (extra nos). But that faith itself is something that the Holy Spirit imparts to us (in nobis).

Let me point out the logical inconsistancy another way. For Lutherans:

Faith (Trust in Christ) comes before Justification (because we are "justified by faith alone")

Justification comes before renewal. (FCSD III: 19ff.)

Yet, renewal must preceed faith, since the unrenewed man cannot trust in Christ.

Your comment about "it is finished", reminds me of the day this was discussed in seminary. The prof explained that on the cross, our justification was complete. One student raised his hand and asked "So why did Jesus rise from the dead." The prof answered "what else could He do?" I had that some prof for my theological interview, and he asked me to what event does St. Paul connect our justification. I answered "The cross." He pointed out that in fact it was the resurrection (Rom. 4). I replied, tongue in cheek, that I thought my answer was "more Lutheran."

Man's sin, his unrighteousness, consists in two things. Guilt, which is largely extra nos (the guilt of Adam) but also guilt for our own transgression. But sin is also corruption, which is entirely in us, in nobis. If our unrighteousness is twofold, so also must be our righteousness. It is a non-imputation of guilt and imputation of an alien righteousness (extra nos), but also the injury, the corruption of sin, must be repaired in nobis. The former is by imputation, the latter by impartation. The former is gained on Calvary, the latter comes through the empty tomb. If you read Augustine's anti-pelagian writings, you will see how the grace of pardon (imputed righteousness) and the grace of renewal (imparted righteousness) both belong to justification. Interestingly enough, it was Pelagius who, like Lutherans, accepted the former while denying the latter. Further, the insistance that renewal follows justification, and cannot precede justification, inadvertantly implies a pelagianism because it requires an unrenewed man to exhibit faith.

As far as "Mother Church" goes, we hold that the subject who both imputes and imparts righteousness is God, though Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Neither righteousness has its origin in man or is achieved through human effort. Both are by grace alone. Your presupposition that imputation is grace and impartation is works (by human effort) is off the mark.

As I see it, the problem with Lutheranism is that it only has half of the Gospel, but at least it's the better half.

My additional reply:

I have said a few things already in the comments. Dan has an interesting take on what his professor in theology taught him. For him, as a now confessing Roman Catholic, at Jesus' death is when the imputation happened -- the legal one, and at Jesus' resurrection is when impartation happened, the renewal. This indeed is an interesting formulation.

Presumably, because Dan says that at Jesus' death on the cross, imputation of righteousness happened there for everyone, then this means that justification happened for everyone there too. He can correct my impression of what he said.

I for one, believe in justification through faith - JBFA. Meaning, without faith no one gets the benefit of Christ's work. I do not believe in justification without faith, without means of grace - i.e. without Word and Sacraments. This faith is created by God out of nothing in an unregenerate man through Word and Sacrament. Yes - even the thief on the Cross had one of them effected on him - the Word. When the person brought by God to faith in the finished work of Christ, God treats that faith as righteousness - declared not guilty. It is a declaration/reckoning/ an assessment.

IMHO, Dan is mixing categories. Reconciliation/Atonement is not the same thing as Justification and neither are the other concepts such as sanctification, glorification as the same thing etc. I am a logician/mathematician by training, I was trained not to mix my categories. Concepts may relate but may not be precisely synonyms of each other.

According to Luther, Faith is nothing, even the Formula of Concord editors say this too. The reason why faith justifies is not because it is a quality or virtue that is worthy of God's smile, but it holds on to the work of Christ. That faith has value because of what it is holding on too and not because of itself. Quenstedt has a quote on this which I will share when time permits.

The difference between a unregenerate man and the regenerate is that the latter is brought to spiritual life in that the latter has faith in the Gospel. The former has faith not in the Gospel (outside him) but faith in anything but Christ's saving work.

...more later.

Monday, November 03, 2008

An Obama-nation

I am affected by what happens in USA.

Most of the readers of this blog are from there. My Google Analytics tells me that. I care for those who read this blog be they agree with it or disagree.

Leadership has two components - it is character and competence. These two interplay specially in hard situations.

If the polls are correct, it looks like the USA is on the road to becoming, ah wattyamakalit? ... "an Obama-nation".

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who I would vote for

If I were an American, who would I vote for? McCain.

Please do not admire me, thinking I am a right-wing enthusiast. I am not. I just don't think I should throw away a precious right - my vote. I just don't think I should risk it.

All I had to do was watch a taped debate between McCain and the Obama Messiah and that already enabled me to make a decision who I would vote for.

Just apply some common sense no none sense reasoning here.

The problem I see with Obama is that he is running for the office of Messiah and that is already taken. The guy has vision but he is a smooth talker too. I just have a feeling he will give you a high but leave you dry. It is not just ideas that matter, it is also competence.

So why would I vote for McCain? Well no doubt this guy will make as many guffs as Bush, but there is a saying - better the devil you know than the devil you do not know.

I would love to vote for McCain, but they will not let me. It it were the Philippines, some one will vote on my behalf. Boy, over there even dead people get to vote!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reformation Views

It seems to me that there are fundamentally two attitudes to the Reformation that happened 500 years ago.

First we can start with the Low View: This view says that what happened 500 years ago was a misunderstanding, that it was an intramural disagreement that spilled over to the egos of the participants. This view then says that what happened 500 years ago is not relevant to our day. We need not carry that disagreement that happened there to where we live today. Besides one can get tired of this fighting, who wants to always be in protest? It gets boring. Let's just kiss and make up, go for a bear hug.

Then there is the High View: What happened 500 years ago was not a misunderstanding, in fact the parties understood each other, in fact it had something to do with the most crucial aspect of one's existence, how is a man made right with God? The issue 500 years ago was the understanding or misunderstanding of the Gospel.

If the Low view is correct, then hang your fighting gloves. If the High view is correct, then what happened 500 years ago reaches out to you, it is relevant to you today, not only to your present, but to your future and the future of your children.

If the Low view is correct, then you can adopt any confession of faith out there, it should not matter at all. If the High view is correct, then you'd better get the right one, and hang on to it till Jesus comes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stay away from the panic button

Most Protestant mainline denominations in the western world are getting anxious of what they would become a few years down the road. The trigger to this is the numbers, the numbers are down, they are experiencing shrinkage, not growth. Their members are gray headed folks that do not spawn new believers, they are in maintenance mode. They want their church to be comfortable, for themselves, but in the process alienates the new generation. So it is sensible to ask, would their synod/denomination still be around? People are starting to panic. Logic says that if the trend continues, the future is grim.

Something like this has always happened in the corporate world. We know the companies that survive a crisis in numbers are always the ones that have enough rope to weather the storm. So if you are small company, your hope is for a big one to buy you. In denominational terms, you ask the question, should you merge with another? Some are of course, thinking now of jumping ship.

Stay away from the panic button. Only in the Western world is Christianity losing its influence and numbers. Think globally. Christianity is growing in Asia, Latin America, Africa. It is dying in the Western world but the Western world is not the Whole World. That is giving too much credit where credit is not due.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I did not know Piepkorn got tried[sic], no cited.

James Swan (of Beggars All Reformation) featured C. A. Piepkorn's take on Luther's alledged belief in the Immaculate Conception. Read James' post here.

At the tail end of that post, I was amazed with this little tidbit of information

Not that this has any bearing on Piepkorn's Mariological statements, but interestingly, Piepkorn was charged, convicted, and removed due to teaching false doctrine:

“During the mid-seventies amidst the storm of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod controversy, Piepkorn was among those of the faculty majority at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, cited as teaching false doctrine by the 1973 New Orleans Convention resolution 3-09. Piepkorn was a signatory of the Seminary majority's protest against this resolution and resolution 3-01, which declared that all of the synod's theological and biblical interpretation and teachings must be interpreted in accord with a presumed synodical tradition as articulated in the document entitled, "A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles," by Dr. Jacob A. 0. Preus, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.” (Plekon and Wiecher, The Church: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn, New York: ALPB Books, 1993, 300.)

This is interesting for me because Piepkorn is usually the icon of those Augsburgians who are swimming the Tiber, e.g. Neuhaus etc.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Justification and Rome by R. Preus is a most useful read. His themes have caused me to pause and reflect. One should read p. 72, but I won't get into that right now.

What occurred to me was that Mother Church has no concept of imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner. What she has is not imputation, but impartation. For her, God does not impute anything to us, specially not that of the righteousness of Christ. God imparts, rather than imputes, so the position goes. For her, by virtue of Christ's atonement, God imparts grace to the sinner by which the sinner may be justified. In other words, for Mother Church, nothing is finished, there are things left to be be done by the sinner. "It is not finished".

I do not think it is caricature to say that such a position is "salvation by grace through works", besides they deny JBFA anytime anywhere anyway, so it is no mis-characterization.

The idea of impartation is humanly appealing and even in Concordia land, I had to stop when I get to Apology IV, 72.

Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i.e., receives remission of sins.

The critical word is "makes", and some, like me, might misconstrue this as teaching that sin's presence is abolished rather than forgiven. But this was not what Melanchton meant by the word "make". What he meant was that the unjust man is made righteous by imputation of the righteousness of Christ, not by impartation of grace to achieve righteousness.

Then there is another angle on imputation that bothers me a lot. My former Pentecostal pastors and teachers spoke often of "impartation", too. They spoke of "impartation of the Spirit" as a matter of habit. The remarkable thing is that they are anti-Roman, yet they talk and take similar concepts/ teachings from Rome. Little do they realize that what their tongues deny, they affirm in their beliefs and practice....They don't seem to care or bother about that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bring Jesus back to the Church

Michael Horton had an interview on the subject of "Christless Christianity". He is of course right in his critique of what is happening in the Church.

There is truth to the title of the interview, but the modern Evangelicals are waking up to this, they are not dumb, so do not under estimate them. So they are bringing Jesus back into the Church.

Well, sure they are bringing Jesus back into the Church.

The problem is that the Jesus they are bringing back has no Cross.

Which come to think of it, the Jesus that has no Cross is not the same Jesus of the Bible.

1 Corinthians 1:23 (English Standard Version)
23but we preach Christ(A) crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lex Orandi Lex Credendi - where is that?

Sorry, it ain't in the Bible and as a principle it reverses the truth.

What? your favorite pastor quotes it often? Ask him for a chapter and verse before you believe him. It is not in the Bible.

The way you believe is the way you will live. Not the other way around. In fact, it makes faith a work, i.e it thinks that you can cook it up by practice. It does not always achieve its aim.

The above maxim is often quoted in justifying some practice of piety, in turning an adiaphora to be no more adiaphora. It is a ploy for slipping in a practice with the guise that it will protect your faith. Think of the Galatian heresy here.

I have seen such styles when I was an RC kid and it clouded the Gospel. Before the Gospel can affect you it has to first come to you propositionally declared.

Let me explain...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gratia Habitualis

I have been reading R. Preus' Justification and Rome. I came to his chapter on Grace and this awakened some of my brain cells. Preus observes that the RC theologians tackle grace after Christology with the result that grace has been severed from God's act of redemption or reconciliation and has become more associated with the HS work in sanctification.

This separation of grace from the Cross is something I have observed as a tendency not only in RC teaching, but in some Calvinistic (perhaps in Puritan/Revivalist streams) and Arminian sections of Evangelicalism.

Firstly, I say such separating of grace from the Cross is present in Calvinism because of its view of God's Sovereignty. God is seen as a "despota" that distributes his grace to whom he wills. They talk of grace in the area of "gifting". This is also the way the Arminians speak of grace. Granted that in some astute Calvinistic positions, they do not believe in "infused" grace, but in the way that they speak of grace, they do not distinguish grace from the "gifting of graces" provided by God. The Arminian, in compartive terms, looks at God's grace as enabling you to do certain virtuous things.

Let me give an example, if I was born from a wealthy home, both RC/Evangelicals (Calvinistic/Arminian) will consider it God's grace that I was well provided for by my parents.

This is where the Lutheran view of grace comes in and is unique or rather if not unique, maverick (I am trying to be impassionate -but I really think it is Christological). The Lutheran view of God's grace is connected to the Cross in so much so that you can almost consider this grace as trumping any other perceived graciousness of God. Hence, this is the ultimate grace and hence, stands above other graces/gifts of God. It is the fountain and the only thing that really matters at the end of the day. To them, God's grace is specific, it is seen in God's action of sending His Son as the atonement for our sins. In this position, all giftings of God - i.e. charis of whatever sort do not get first class attention. Such graces sink in the truth of that Grace at the Cross.

Frankly this is quite Biblical ...

Mark 8:36
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

They must be reelin in the years (peg)

Just feeling nostalgic today. This group was one of my favorits when I was in my late teens. Come to think of it now, they are so versatile, they can do blues, jazz and rock. It is a powerful mix of talents. Their music has variation, not like today, 2 bars that get repeated for 20 minutes.

Just an enjoyable good tune.

Let me know if you were one of those who enjoyed their tunes.

None do-able Law

It seems to me that when the Law is presented to be do-able, you will always find faith in the thing that helps you do it. It can never be a faith that cleaves to Christ. Once the Law is believed to be do-able, faith will be directed somewhere else, but not to Christ.

Of course, there is a view that what we are freed from is not the whole Law but only that part of the Law which is ceremonial, they say that this does not include the moral Law. That one you have to do by the grace of God, so they say.

I simply find that hard to believe, based on my reading of the Epistles and Acts.

The use of the term Law is collective, it includes all the laws of God - both ceremonial, dietary and moral. I find this true in Paul, for example.

I follow a simple logic, if say that the moral Law is not included in the term 'Law', meaning that is something you 'can do', then there is boasting, no matter how much one denies it. You can boast. You may not boast, but you 'can' boast - that possibility is there. Yet the principle of faith says there is no possibility of boasting. Want some Scripture? Let's discuss them.

This comes down to also making faith a work, i.e. if that faith allows you to boast - it is not faith as the Bible speaks of- that faith is mis-directed and cannot be the faith produced by the Holy Spirit from the Word. Faith in the Gospel is an I-less faith.

We got it right if that faith eliminates "you" in the equation.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A social phenomenon

Long ago I learnt that you can study the church/churches as a social phenomenon like a scientist studies a bacteria under a microscope.

You can put the churches in a fish tank and watch them from the outside, study them from purely humanistic eyes, looking at them as social movement. In other words from a purely human behaviour standpoint.

For example you can look at it like an organization providing some service to the public - the service might be care giving in exchange of some donation. So you can get into service delivery and how to improve such service.

My reading of the Bible seems to the suggest that there is some social reality to the church, but overall it is much more than that. In fact I see it as unique grouping of people, something that is so different from the others in the world.

It stands in a category by itself.

For this reason, you can really screw your mind up if you rely on George Barna to tell you what works in church and what does not work.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Crowe for treasurer

Yesterday The Age ran an article of Russell Crowe's suggestion on what would cure the US economy. Crowe is an Oscar academy award winner. He is a great actor and Aussies are proud of him. Read what he said would cure the US economy here.

Here is an excerpt

Crowe believes the US government should give each American $US1 million
($1.26 million).
His reasoning is the US has a population of about 300
million, so the $US300 million outlay is a fraction of the $US700 billion
financial bailout package rejected by politicians in Washington DC
"I was thinking," Crowe said.
"If they want to stimulate the
economy and get people spending so they can look after their mortgage ... give
everyone $1 million."

I like the idea! That is a good recommendation.

Hmmm, hang on, have you got the maths right? If the US gov has $300m and would give $1m to 300m people, hang on, that means the US gov has to shell out $300 trillion or so dollars. That is beyond $300m. Or if you have $300m and distribute this to the US population of 300m, they will have to give just $1.00 each.

Hmm, this means we should retthink twice when electing actors to government office, no? Tip: I know I learned from Filipino politics. Over there you could get elected for having the right face not by the right credentials.

OK Ronald Reagan was the exception but such types are like Halley's comet, they come only once in 76 years.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rick is really Roman Catholic and the Cardinal correct

Purpose Driven Pr. Rick Warren, may be Baptist in name but in spirit, he is absolutely Roman Catholic.

Here is what he said in a sermon...

You see it takes more than belief. It takes more than faith to really please God. He says it takes faith that results in loving others. Religion without love doesn't matter. It is not enough to say "I believe". What matters is how I love God and how I love other people, that is the Great Commandment.

Firstly, compare this with Heb 11

6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw
near to God(I) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
What Rick says is denial of JBFA, this is saved by loving. This is going to damn us because we never love as we ought. There is only one who did that -- and you know his name. Though faith produces love, that love is not the basis of our justification. This is an old error - a guy by the name of Osiander believed like Warren and he was corrected by the Concordists.

We are not reckoned righteous by God based by what is inside us and not even on the basis that Jesus lives inside us. And above all, certainly not because we love (because we don't), we are reckoned righteous through faith on account of what Christ has done at Calvary.

So the RC Cardinal (see below) was correct in saying that Protestants should go back to Luther's faith. Why? because certainly Pr. Rick Warren is certainly miles away from that faith. He should not be identifying himself as a Protestant, because he is not.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Return to the faith of Luther

Rev. McCain is running a story on a comment made by a German Roman Catholic Cardinal. See the post here.

The Cardinal is Walter Kasper.

Kasper said he hoped Catholics would "get to know Luther better and not just interpret him from his polemical writings, still less from a few sentences taken out of context". The cardinal said he also hoped Protestantism would return to the faith of Martin Luther, "who would have been deeply averse to all of today's liberal tendencies".
ME: You know I agree with anyone who says what is true. He is correct and he is right - Protestants need to return to the faith of Luther!

ME again: Not only should he wish this for Protestants, but in fact he should wish that Roman Catholics should hold also to the faith of Luther!


Eu-angelion. Eu = meaning "good", angelion= meaning "message" or "news". The Greek word where we got the word "Gospel.

Firstly, it can not be news if it is already common knowledge, no?

It is news because not everybody knows about it and it is not usual. It is unusual, it is different, that is what makes the news. It won't be news if it is common information.

It is news and it is good news. If it is "good", that means it is in contrast to "bad" news. For it to be good, that means there has been "bad" news.

This is the reason why the Gospel is not something people can cook up with. By nature we are Pelagians, we are by nature "works" oriented, we are not accustomed to what is "free", we know there is no such thing as free lunch. So we look for the catch. If there is no catch, we will surely invent one.

For this reason when someone believes the Gospel - it has to be a gift. Why? It is not easy to believe something which is common, natural or usual. The Gospel is counter-natural. It takes a miracle, an action of God to cause us to believe the Gospel. Hence, because it is news, it has to be announced to you or proclaimed, broadcasted to you...from the outside, outside of you. It is from outside you, being brought forth to you. It is mediated to you.

Consequently we have to be weary of what is going on inside us. It is not reliable. Anything inside us is shaky. As one pastor said ..."anything inside you, can not be the Gospel".

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Him too.

At first blush of reading Genesis 15, it would seem to indicate that God's promise to Abraham had nothing to do with the promised Messiah. I used to read it this way - Abraham was counted righteous for believing that he would have plenty of children, and that was it, without reference to Christ.

Reading now the same passage and being enlightened of what Jesus said about Abraham, I understand now that Abraham also trusted in the promised Messiah and was reckoned righteous.

This is what Jesus said in

John 8:56 (King James Version)
56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

In other words Jesus was saying tha Abraham believed in Him too. Only by reading Scripture in the light of the Gospel does it become coherent.

I had an interesting discussion on the internet almost a year ago. I was having a small banter with a person on justification, and the person responding to me said, to this effect... "God was already treating Abraham righteous even before He came to Abraham", i.e. even before He pronounced the promise to Abraham.

Now, what do you think of that?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oneness can't be right

Oneness, the belief that there is no distinction in the God head - meaning Jesus is not the Son but the Father and the Holy Spirit too just different modes of dealing with us mankind, can not be correct if one emphasizes the work of Christ at the Cross. In effect, when we ground ourselves in the Gospel, Oneness belief is wrong.

Although we can pray to Jesus, he taught the disciples the "Lord's Prayer - the Our Father", when asked to teach them how to pray. The prayer addresses God as Father and does not address him. I was thinking about this at church.

At first blush this sounds not glorifying to Jesus but actually it does glorify Christ. Because the place where the Lord is glorified is found in his mediation between God and Man. Addressing the Father to grant our petition for the sake of the work of his Son - Christ actually glorifies Christ - and so it is true - no one comes to the Father except by Christ.

Think of it this way, if Jesus is also the Father, then the situation is absurd. The mediation becomes play acting, a farce. It does not make sense that Jesus intervenes or intercedes for Man towards whom? But himself? That is bizarre and funny...

I think the Trinity is a theological corollary from the Axiom of the Cross (making a pun on the axiom of choice in maths - set theory so forgive me). The Gospel requires the truth of the Trinity asserted.

Oneness charismatic theology thinks it is glorifying Christ but in reality it is robbing Him of the truth about his mediatorial work on behalf of sinners. It in the end deflects you away from the Cross. In fact belief in his mediatorial work is what JBFA is all about.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shaken and stirred (hope so)

As can be expected, people connected with PlanetShakers and ACC(AOG) , organizations which Pr. Mike Guglielmucci has been associated with for years are angry after he revealed he lied about his cancer story.

People are angry for being duped. I think they are embarrassed for being duped and embarrassment do make us angry. People are asking why, how could this happen? The leaders are claiming they have been victims too, they got duped as well. The excuse does not sit well with others, considering that they believe in Apostolic leadership and the Prophetic gifts, the situation is an embarrassment. Sure enough the discussion of whether or not he is even a Christian is being discussed in You Tube.

It seems the people who get it are those who are outside PlanetShakers and the AOG.

The story of Pr. Mike is not about his problems, rather it is about ideas. Ideas have consequences. Every church group has its own culture, no exemptions, that is how it works. Be it great or small, denomination or synod, each grouping emanates a group culture, and for church groups, that culture is the fruit of the group's theology. What theology they buy into brings about that culture. No, the pastor did not victimize, rather he was also the victim, he was a victim of false ideas which he got from his church culture.

If Christianity is not about Christ but about the Christian, if Christianity is about the glory of being victorious in the here and now rather than about hope later in the life after, then it is no surprise that people are angry at a person who had to resort to hoax making to deal with his perceived problems.

If the good news is about victory over sin and not about being forgiven in our sins, then it is even a wonder that some people in such a theological culture do not resort to suicide (but perhaps some have already). A theology that says that the Christian can not be saint and sinner at the same time will drive one to the mental hospital if not to the morgue. It is amazing that Pr. Mike was not suicidal and God be praised he did not resort to this.

I pray for the restoration of his mind and spirit but above all, I pray he be delivered from the culture that made him resort to hoax making. I pray he comes to a church that has the culture of applying the forgiveness Christ has won for him - delivered to him again and again in the ministry of confession and absolution.

The Gospel is for Christians too and I will say something which I hope you are not shocked...

The Gospel is for pastors too! They are no less of a sinner and saint than any of us.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What God ordains

I so thoroughly enjoyed church today. Pr. Brett's antiphonal singing in the worship service was so much of a blessing, I walked away content, as if I had a good steak. My missus did the scheduled readings and she impressed me in the way she gave life to the text.

Everything was perfect. And at communion : there is something at the Lutheran Lord's Supper that never ceases to touch me which I have never experienced anywhere else. It is there that Jesus seems to be physically real to me. I get this voice in my head, why is it here when I kneel at the rails and receive the bread and wine, Christ is present and real to me - something I can not describe by words. Then I get this voice also in my head, but why not here at this moment, would you prefer another time and another occassion? Why not here and now when the bread and wine are being given to you. Where do you seek to find his presence, do wish to find him somewhere else?

Then there was also the hymn. Pr. Brett chose for us to sing Samuel Rodigasts' Whatever God Ordains is Good following the arrangement of J. S. Bach's Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan.

J.K. if you are reading this, this is dedicated to what you are going through right now....I am singing it now as I type the words...

What God ordains is always good:
his will is just and holy.
As he directs my life for me
I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed
in every need
knows well how he will shield me;
to him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good
he never will deceive me;
he leads me in his own right way,
and never will he leave me.
I take content
what he has sent;
his hand that sends me sadness
will turn my tears to gladness.

What God ordains is always good:
his loving thought attends me;
no oison can be in the cup
that my physician sends me.
My God is truel
each morning new
I trust his grace unending,
my lufe to him commending.

What God ordains is always good:
he is my friend and father;
he will not let me come to harm
though many storms may gather.
Now I may know
both joy and woe;
some day I shall see clearly
that he has loved me dearly.

What God ordains is always good:
this truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need or death be mine
I shall not be forsaken
I fear no harm
for with his arm
he shall embrace and shield me;
so to my God I yield me.

Isaiah 53:3

What does it mean that Jesus is acquainted with sorrow and grief? He understands, he is not making our experience as if they are nothing, he does not trivialize them, but enters our world and experiences it himself, so he is our rightful saviour. He is not distant but near.

Help save, comfort and defend us gracious Lord.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

High Energy - LHC

Those who do not know me might think of me that way but in actuality if you ask the misus I am simply a - semi-autistic guy suffering from attention deficit high activity disorder. I never grew out of it.

There is so much talk about High Energy Physics this week. See here for an article of the largest particle accelerator ever built., well if you are reading this - dooms day did not happen. Correct?

You might not know this but I encountered particle physicists involve in this CERN project a few years ago. These dudes are smart. Thousands of collisions can happen in a minute- they call these "events" and tons of data emanate from that a single particle collision. The thing is that thousands of theories can also be formed to explain the particles, sub-particle etc resulting from that collision.

I was fortunate to have a research paper accepted and presented in Bologna, Italy, many moons ago. I entitled it Analyzing High Energy Physics - a Multi-Agent Approach.

The thing too is that if thousands of theories can be formed then this has implications for explaining the Big Bang, so which theory accounts for the data?

Can it be more simple than Genesis 1:1?