Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Are they the same?

Is Justification the same as Reconciliation?

I have been trying to conduct conversation at the Wittenberg Trail regarding my question - Should Objective Justification be renamed? By the word "justification" we mean its normal theological meaning -- to be reckoned by God as righteous. However, no go, no can do, cause after a while the reply aspect of the discussion encountered a bug and the discussion had to be closed. Computers are nice when they are working -- but only when they are working -- stress happens when they don't.

So I got out my Peter Stuhlmacher's commentary Paul's Letter to the Romans and I turned to his excursus "Justification and Reconciliation" p.82. Sorry I can not type a lot (no secretary) so here are snippets.

...for Paul justification and reconciliation belong inextricably together...The abandonment of the Son of God to death on the cross, desired by God himself out of his love for his creation and obediently affirmed by Jesus, is the absolute act of atonement which grounds justification (Rom 3:25f; 5:8f; 8:3)...God's atoning act in and through Christ forms the historical and legal ground for justification. In turn "reconciliation" designates the gift of God and the present securing of salvation which are bound together with justification (Rom 5:11; 2 Cor 5:20-6:2)viewed from the personal perspective...God is thus the one who creates atonement, grants justification, and establishes reconciliation, on the basis of his free will and grace.

Since justification is grounded on the atonement, then the two are not - technically and by that formally, the same i.e. the former comes from the latter. If one comes from the other, the two are distinguished though no doubt related.

It seems to me then that by the Atonement, God has been Reconciled to us, but what about us to him? By faith in that Atonement, Justification comes and we are Reconciled to God in our space and time history.

Dr. Ichabod pointed that out in Thy Strong Word Chapter 05. Stuhlmacher seems to agree with him. This is interesting.

It happens in the heart --- of God

It is said by Reformation theologians that justification - is the reckoning of the believing sinner as righteous solely through faith in the finished work of the Lord.

However, where did we get the notion that such reckoning happens in our heart or being? When JBFA is discussed why do get the troubling feeling -- now, do I have faith? Has justification happened to me yet?

In the Classic Protestant sense, our justification is not something that happens in us internally, it is something that happens in the heart of God.

If we read Rom 4:9, 22-25, we do not see God coming to Abraham and saying "Why I see you have become righteous, congratulations"! It does not look that he was doing that at all, for Paul was explaining what was happening in God in Abraham's situation and for us too who have been made to trust that Jesus's death was our transgressions.

I have been trying to trace this notion as to where this feeling idea came from, I mean, the idea of "feeling" saved and "feeling" justified. This is a fascination to me because I bought into this myself in the past.

What my research or observation says is that we got this from Revivalism/Puritanism/Pietism/even Romanism.

An example of this "feeling" rather than quiet assured trusting is found in the preceding post below. The snippet is an example of the "feeling" saved teaching.

If there is anything we are conscious of it is the very opposite, we do not feel righteous, it is because the Law is the one that is inside us. The Gospel makes us run to the one who paid for our un-righteousness, in the Lord. Our guilt is taken away each time we look to that or bank on that payment. There is relief to our conscience, but it is not inside, rather it is outside - in Christ, each time we look or reckon that Jesus took the blows away.

Another of my $0.02 worth. Keep the change.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Football or Jesus? Can you feel the love?

I was about to drop a note for my beloved ones (you) on some more thoughts on justification when I encountered this from a cite I visit.

This is not salvation by faith in Christ's work, this is salvation by feeling love for Jesus. The reason why I need Jesus is precisely because I fail to love God, Jesus the Holy Spirit and my neighbor all at the same time.

Can you feel the love? Sometimes you do and sometimes you don't but we are not saved by what we feel, we are saved by what Jesus has done, paid for our debt of righteousness towards God.

I disagree with this, this is a feel religion not fact religion. It seems quasi-Christianity to me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I call Australia home, I am Australian

Today is Australia Day. I went to the park to celebrate it.

I like to share this Qantas ad that ran 1998. I am biased, my youngest daughter was in this ad. She is that brown skinned girl at the last portion of this video. Do watch carefully because we are spitting image of each other. She is 21 this year. She is very multi-talented and sharp wit. She did not get it from me.

This song gets me teary eyed... here is the lyrics but I highlighted the truth about us who migrated here...

(Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton)

I came from the dream time, from the dusty red soil plains,
I am the ancient heart - the keeper of the flame,
I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come,
For forty thousand years I'd been the first Australian.

We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.

I came upon the prison ship bound down by iron chains
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I'm a settler, I'm a farmer's wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man, I became Australian.
I'm the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I'm a child of the depression, I saw the good times come
I'm a bushy, I'm a battler, I am Australian.

We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.

I'm a teller of stories, I'm a singer of songs
I am Albert Namatjira, and I paint the ghostly gums
I am Clancy on his horse, I'm Ned Kelly on the run
I'm the one who waltzed Matilda, I am Australian.
I'm the hot wind from the desert, I'm the black soil of the plains
I'm the mountains and the valleys, I'm the drought and flooding rains
I am the rock, I am the sky, the rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land, I am Australian.
We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.

Lord, thank you this nation and for its culture, these are your gifts too. Thank you for the peace we still have in this great land. May we all know how much you have blessed her, and may we too bless others the same way you have blessed our land.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Having a bad day at the office?

Just don't get fired, and don't use a gun. OK?

RC Apologist vows to extirpate

Just when we were about to leave the subject of Protestantism, I encounter this interesting comment from RC Apologist Dr. Art Sippo. I got this from Beggars All Reformation here. A commenter asked for the actual source link and it is till about to be provided.

Here is a portion of what Dr. Sippo said...

"As a Catholic Apologist my goal is to extirpate heresy from the face of the Earth. That means that all Protestantism must go. Period."

"Make no mistake about it. Protestantism is false religion. IMHO it is little better than Mormonism in that regard."

"But the legitimacy of all Protestant religions is threatened by the continued existence of Catholicism. That is why so many Protestants are anti-Catholic bigots including the pro-Nazi Mr. Swan."

"Protestantism is an abomination. It has no right to exist. No one in its clutches can command parity with the humblest practicing Catholic. You have no valid ministers, few if any valid sacraments, false teachings on all subjects especially morals, and yet you have the effrontery to demand parity with the faithful of God own Church.Your people left cursing us and calling us foul names: R o m a n i s t s, Papists, Whore of Babylon, idolaters, Anti-Christs, and worse..........(read more)

Thank goodness, at least some Lutherans are safe.

2 Trees

I like to say something on crypto-religious sleeper cells, but that is for another time, so I am braking for the moment.

Right now I have been thinking on the Two "Trees". The first tree I am thinking of is the tree of life found in Gen 3:

22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Notice here that the man was driven out by God, He was intentionally keeping Adam away and even set up a flaming sword that turned every way. I imagine this to have the effect of slicing and dicing the children of Adam should they approach this tree.

Then now, there is the second tree of life, the Cross of Jesus, not the wooden tree per se but the Atonement event. Here life flows, like water from a brook, freely. All the gifts of God are in here. Here rather than God preventing people from "taking from it", God is freely giving it. There is no flaming sword that will chase you away, but rather, the Holy Spirit delivers its fruits to us -- eternal life- through Word/Sacrament. He is not saying "don't come", but rather Jesus says -- "Come" (Matt 11:28). God through the HS is busy distributing with a willing heart the benefit of the sacrifice of God's Son. I think parents have a notion of how hurtful it could be if the sacrifices that they have made for their children are wasted --there languishing in a bin. This is true specially when their sacrifices entailed much sweat, toils and tears. If we who are evil know the pain of giving gifts that are disrespected, the more is it true for God who is all Good. So I am astounded, that God is not withholding this Tree of Life from us, rather He is joyously dispersing it to us men. He proclaims His promise of reconciliation to us and He seals it with our Baptism and in proclaims the Lord's benefits in the Supper, these all stem from the work of Jesus.

Gal 3:

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”[h]), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The "tree" where Jesus died does not bring death, but life and peace, in Him and in God.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How come he gets it ?

Jeff of Onebread, a fellow [Filipino] blogger gave an interesting comment. I am so amazed that Jeff who happens to be RC gets the implication of what happens when the word "Protestant" is dropped from your psyche!

Jeff said:

Interesting discussion here. I was forming a thesis in my mind recently about Evangelicals, confessional Protestants, and Roman Catholics. There seems to be a trajectory for Evangelicals towards an increasingly Roman Catholic outlook, which seems to also translate a diminishing level of hostility towards Roman Catholics. The thesis is simple, really: by identifying themselves as Evangelicals, born again, or simply Christians, these folks are not as grounded on the Reformation. Hence they are no longer steeped in the bitterness of the Reformation.


Anyway, the Evangelicals I know seem to have shed all identification with being "Protestant" and, instead of defining themselves as being against something, are embracing the way forward as being for something else.

You can read the full context of his comments here.

I do not know why he who happens to be an RC gets it but those in the camp don't. My theory is that this is what happens too, if you are Lutherite and you chuck away your vocabulary of the vestiges of "Protestantism".

In case you wake up not knowing "what" you are

Sometimes I am not sure which is a worst scenario, waking up not knowing "who" you are or waking up not knowing "what" you are! A long time ago, I posted on Fr. Neuhaus' conversion from Lutheranism to RCC here. Dr. Ichabod, calls this "Lutheran poping", I call those doing that "Lutheran popesters" but as I mentioned earlier, it sounds like a rude word in Aussie slang so "poping" it is. Ayayay, we human beings are into taxonomy since day one.

Here is a quote found here:

Mine was a decision mandated by conscience. I have never found it in his writings, but a St. Louis professor who had been his student told me that the great confessional Lutheran theologian Peter Brunner regularly said that a Lutheran who does not daily ask himself why he is not a Roman Catholic cannot know why he is a Lutheran. That impressed me very deeply. I was thirty years a Lutheran pastor, and after thirty years of asking myself why I was not a Roman Catholic I finally ran out of answers that were convincing either to me or to others. And so I discovered not so much that I had made the decision as that the decision was made, and I have never looked back, except to trace the marks of grace, of sola gratia, each step of the way.
Many people are in Wittenburg for various reasons. Some are in it not because they could identify with Martin Luther's agony while he struggled to find a gracious God, a God he could love. Some never had a crisis of anxiety for their souls so they can not identify with Luther. For example if you are an Evangelical burnt out by the bum steer you got from evangelicalism where can you go without being an RC? Where can you go and get the comfort of being in a sense "catholic" and "historic" without being Roman? Being orthodox without being EO? And just recently with the discussion in the last post, might I say, being protestant without being Protestant? If you think I am describing an oxymoron, you just do not understand how accents work. (well may be one day one can invent, being a lutheran without being a Lutheran, who knows).

But that is the question, and Brenner is, I think right. Should you wake up one day not knowing why you are not an RC, then you'd better be one. Neuhaus turned Brenner's dictum around its head and he was eventually became honest and left to be RC (eventually, I say, because he splattered around that he was a "confessional" Lutheran, see how the bandwagon works? Oh BTW, most doing poping as Dr. Ichabod intimated, love the acceptability that the label "confessional" brings, hence caveat emptor). Now I am new to Wittenberg, but my suspicion is that being Lutheran because you do not like to be an RC does not answer the challenge Brenner brings. You can give philosophically cute answers but the question remains, why not?

Answering why you are a Lutheran, does not answer why you are not an RC. Answer the negative; answering the negative does not mean you have answered the positive, so answer the negative first. This has to be settled first and logically as a I said a negative does not imply the positive opposite of it. Example? If I say it is not -1, does it mean 1? No, it could mean -2, or what not. So answering why you are not an RC, is a good exercise.

My take is that if justification through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone does not picture in the answer and is not the most important one, one can not find a better meritorious sacramental scheme than what Mother Church offers. One better be an RC.

I paraphrase what one wise thing Luther said: you can get all doctrines in Christianity right, you can get your liturgy right (go ahead be a Liturgical Gestapo), your blogging right, your vestments right, your genuflecting right, your raising the host right and your swinging the incense right and feel "really doing it catholic", but if you get this one wrong, then all of your added extras have just led you to being....stuffed.

I am sorry I am being argumentative lately but I can see why some folk want to see more apologetic/polemic works lately... a lot have been blogging and denouncing Evangelian madness of seeker sensitive, neo-legalistic what not-s but only a few have been speaking of the "poping" happening in the camp. Jesus said before you take a speck from your brother's eye, take the plank out first from yours (he even added "hypocrites" in the passage).

Matthew 7:
5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Protestant? yep and original too.

[only for those whose feelings are not easily hurt]

Some "confessing" Lutherites are allergic to this term. Some do not want this label pinned at them. They even protest at being called Protestant, which is kinda peculiar. Because standing from my former days as an RC young man living in a dominated RC country, we thought anyone who was pro-Bible and allergic to the Pope was a Protestant. Well, like it or not, that was the term they were called and they did not deny that.

For my case, I do not mind. In fact my synod uses that term in telling the public who we are, see here. In this particular issue, I can not tell you how I so much respect my synod for not engaging in controversy over words like these. I thank them that in this instance, they did not go the route of historic revisionism.

Let me tell you my thoughts why I do not protest and infact I identify myself as one, Protestant. Sure you may say you are not that sort of protestant over there like - Presbyterians, Baptists or Methodists, but Lutherans are confessing something and most of what it confesses came from the historical period of the Church called the Reformation. The fact that it confesses contrary teaching with the RCC, stands to reason that they are "in protest" already. See wikipaedia definition of the term Protestant here. To deny this is to be like an ostrich who hides its head in the sand, or a boy being spoken to who plugs his ears with his fingers saying "la la la la la, I am not listening".

Here are my reasons:

1. Some of these "confessional" ones reason that it is not society who has the right to dictate the labeling. For example one said "I don't see why I *should* use a word that others use to describe us ". I smiled when I read this. In a civilized society, you are not free to call yourself by whatever label you may wish to call yourself! Let me give you an example, say I tell you - I want you to call me "Attorney L P Cruz". So you asked, do you have a license from the bar association, do you have an L.L.B. from a university, can you show them please? Well I do not have such documents to show you. So you reply "You are not an Attorney Lito"! What then if I turn around and say ---" I refuse let you describe what I am"! I say to you --- I want to be identified as an Attorney! - Why, you would call the white men to take me away, wouldn't you?

BTW, do you know where you can find a corner in the world where people there call themselves by whatever title they wish to be called? Only in Christian ministry! In some sectors of it, it is easy to call yourself a "Pastor", but wait; some even call themselves "Fathers" too. For another Lutheran who is buggered by this, look here.

2. The word "Protestant" is a historico-religious appellation. So I do not mind it because in that sense, it is more honest to agree that I am. True, today it is by population dominated by Arminians and Calvinists but saying you are not one is rather evasive and dishonest unless you want to start a controversial discussion. It is more accurate to identify why you are different, but at the same time admit it because there are some aspects of it you happen to agree with.

3. Some do not like it because they could not find the term in the BoC. In my field this is called argument from silence with special pleading too! Of course, it is not found there in the Formula of Concord but the very fact that the term is not found there how can it be refuted by the BoC then? And here is the kicker, if you are only going to use the term if it is found in the BoC, you ought to drop as well the use of “universal objective justification” or “voter’s assembly” because they are not found in the BoC too. Can you see how silly that reasoning happens to be?

4. Some want to be identified as Evangelical(Reformed) Catholic, like this minister here. Fair enough. So ok but I find that amazing. Why fight the word Protestant too? No disrespect, but isn’t it true that the Protestants that these ones do not want to be identified with identify themselves as Evangelicals? Let me explain, so you do not like to be associated with these Protestants who identify themselves as Evangelicals but you like to be identified as an Evangelical – Catholic. Why even use the word “Evangelical” at all, why not go all the way and drop it since it has Protestant associations which are hazy and undesirable, but then again maybe that is the transition that this leads up to.

BTW, it is really interesting because the RCC calls Protestants to which these people do not like to be associated with as "separated brethren". Yes Virginia, the term applies to your Fundamental Baptists, non-denominational Charismatic groups, Seventh Day Adventists etc etc and a swag of the so called (but mythical) 30,000 denominations.

Let me get back now and be my cynical self. I imagine this scenario which I hope may be proven wrong...

First stop being identified as a Protestant, (big P), then stop even being identified as a protestant (small p). Since that is dropped you are left with small c – catholic. Keep on speaking that you are small c catholic but not Protestant, pretty soon, the small c becomes big C. So you speak of yourself as Catholic (as Roman Catholics speak of themselves). Keep on doing that saying that you are Catholic (no longer small c but big C). Then there you go, heck since you speak of yourself as Catholic like RCs do, you might as well be one, (change your C to RC). Then when you are done, say what J. Pelikan said (when he went to EO) , this time with an RC version– say it was the completion of your Lutheranism, after all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Location: Justification... In Christ [only]

[Warning : Another long yada, yada, yada...but wait it might be worth your time]

I am hanged up on soteriology. I love to think about the Cross and what was accomplished there, for the sinner. Primarily because this was obscured to me when I was an RC and because this was side stepped when I went to Evangelia or as Evangelia went on. I can not get enough of it and it does not seem to bore me. I hope it does not get side-stepped again in the Liturgical Wars going on. I am fighting some funny things to say about this, but I do not want people to stumble so I better not.

It is amazing how a preposition determines correct or wrong thinking. Christian theology is a matter of getting your prepositions right. Neglecting it ruins the message of God.

Take 1 John 5:
11And the testimony is this, that God has given us (S)eternal life, and (T)this life is in His Son. 12(U)He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

There is something objective here, absolutely: God has given people of the world eternal life...but this is in the Son. From that, it can be turned to this...

Every one has eternal.

Can you see the implication of that? Even if one says " Every one has eternal life, whether or not one believes it or not" -- there is still something missing here. Boy, this is really sounding universalistic does it not? What gives? The phrase "in the Son".

Take the case again on justification - JBFA. Actually the slogan is meant to be considered in its completed thesis...we are justified through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. Dropping that last phrase gets all the trouble and confusion even amongst us who affirm this. What happens when what is implied is dropped? Faith becomes the focus, per se as an end point. You don't talk about Christ, you talk about faith.

Technically when it comes to justification: I like its definition such as "accounting or reckoning as righteous". The "being declared righteous" makes me want to search for a goose bump audible experience from God, so I rather think of "treating as righteous". Besides, justification is an attitude of God, it happens in the heart of God, it does not happen inside me. It is not an experience inside me, it is in God's being, it is happening outside me, it is happening in God. I believe it is happening in God by what Scripture says. I do not feel it.

Going back to Abraham in Genesis 15, you will notice that God did not come to Abraham with a proposal saying "Look, I am going to give you a promise, and if you believe this, then I will count you as righteous, ok,? Deal or no deal? It does not seem it happened that way. There was no proposal, rather there was a promise. Abraham simply trusted that, as if "ok if you say so". It was reality for him.

From the Apology of Augsburg-- Article IV:

For the Law requires of us our works and our perfection. But the Gospel freely offers, for Christ's sake, to us, who have been vanquished by sin and death, reconciliation which is received not by works, but by faith alone. This faith brings to God not confidence in one's own merits, but only confidence in the promise, or 45] the mercy promised in Christ. This special faith, therefore, by which an individual believes that for Christ's sake his sins are remitted him, and that for Christ's sake God is reconciled and propitious, obtains remission of sins and justifies us.
46] Thus, because faith, which freely receives the remission of sins, sets Christ, the Mediator and Propitiator, against God's wrath, it does not present our merits or our love [which would be tossed aside like a little feather by a hurricane]. This faith is the true knowledge of Christ, and avails itself of the benefits of Christ, and regenerates hearts, and precedes the fulfilling of the Law.

86] But since we receive remission of sins and the Holy Ghost by faith alone, faith alone justifies, because those reconciled are accounted righteous and children of God, not on account of their own purity, but through mercy for Christ's sake, provided only they by faith apprehend this mercy. Accordingly, Scripture testifies that by faith we are accounted righteous, Rom. 3, 26. We, therefore, will add testimonies which clearly declare that faith is that very righteousness by which we are accounted righteous before God, namely, not because it is a work that is in itself worthy, but because it receives the promise by which God has promised that for Christ's sake He wishes to be propitious to those believing in Him, or because He knows that Christ of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. 1, 30
You can see right away that the Apology does not even remotely suggest universalism. But why is it that when some presentations are heard it sounds that way?

You can also see the role of faith, that it is nothing as such, but if it is talked about without context, it can sound - hmm, may be I have to see to it that I have faith, or what amounts to faith in faith.

Faith is nothing but a hand that grasps the promise of the payment of sins at the Cross of Jesus. It has what it holds on to. The hand analogy is really quite good for me here. Hold on to a spanner, you got the spanner. Hold on to a hammer, you got the hammer. It possesses what it is holding on to etc.

But the thing that controls you from going down hill to universalism or going up to having faith in your faith is "IN CHRIST". The promise of redemption, like one pastor I heard, said that it, is not somewhere out there floating on air, rather it is located in one single spot, IN CHRIST.
Neglect this and we are open to confusion.

It appears to me that when we start asking do we have faith, we are not looking at Christ, we are looking at our faith. lt is like the hands clasping at each other, not holding an external object.

My position is to keep on looking at my reconciliation, i.e. the payment for my sins, that what I owe by way of righteousness and by way of my sin has been paid for -- at the Cross of Jesus, all of them, no more, dealt with. I try not to look at my justification or analyze it, because it is something that happens in God, I trust my sins been paid for, dealt with, taken away, my debt paid in full, finished, what I owe God Christ provided and answered for. It is easier for me to think of my debt of sin being paid because I got to learn about the teaching of Romans and Galatians etc only after I believed - at the work of Christ at the Cross. Yes indeed I do rejoice that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to me, but the side of that came from my reconciliation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I confess, I read Dr. Ichabod's

[Warning: long blah blah blah]

Yep, I do. I sometimes I blog surf and surf off at Dr. Ichabod's blog.

In the interest of scholarship and truth, from time to time we must read those who dissent. Before swimming the Rhine, I was in a Concordian list (and still am) in which debate was conducted in a sane manner that impressed me, I walked and said - hmmm, these people are not cultic, they are level headed. I suppose, Dr. Ichabod is one of those that keeps you from turning your Lutheranism into a cult. He is sometimes John the Baptist having now no Synod affiliation, (though before he was with the major Synods, perhaps a matter of being there, done that and kept the T-shirt?). He is now an independent Lutheran.

I may not always agree with him but (besides I have not read all) here are the points for me that proved helpful in challenging my thinking, his book Thy Strong Word is the usual source of his blog topics (I am still reading parts of it):

1. He is pro Majority Text, when it comes to the NT (and likes KJV because of it). Interesting some years back, I got my NKJV and marked its comments and it does appear that the Majority Text (Textus Receptus) contains explication of doctrine compared to the GNT (an eclectic text), which is at times minimal or more concise. I am not so sure of this strength, as some scholars believe you can deduce the teachings of the Majority Text from the GNT. There might be something to the thought that if you want an explication of orthodoxy go to the Majority Text. OK so I need to weigh this more.

2. He talks quite a bit about Synod goings on - ELCA, WELS, LCMS, ELS and ELDONA and has some critical things to say as to where these are leading. I do not understand all of the socio-political aspects of denoms, but one thing is for sure that I got --- the Church that has been reformed must continue to reform, because Synods being also saint and sinner means there is always an attempt by people to wander off from the Word.

3. His point on distinguishing justification from reconciliation is quite reasonable to me as an amateur logician. Most see 2 Cor 5:19 as justification, i.e. counting as righteous. However, this is stated in the negative i.e. not doing X, not counting sin, does that mean God is doing the opposite of X? Not quite. Let me illustrate assume you have a set {0,1}. If you say 0 is not the value of Y, then OK. You can conclude it has to be y=1, if y not = 0. Fine. But what if the set is {0,1,2,3,4,5}. To say that the value of y not = 0 does not say which of the values of y happens to be, it is not safe to assume y = 1 when you do not know the range. : Lest the reader misunderstands, I do not think he objects to universal objective atonement/reconciliation (UOA)[of course if he is reading he can correct me here, but I read his Chapter 5, unless I missed something], he does object to universal objective justification (UOJ) i.e. the treating of all as righteous in Christ without faith, because in the Bible justification is always linked with faith in that UOA. You reject UOA, you do not get J (if you know what I mean)[he again can correct me here]. You can sound universalistic with UOJ when in fact you mean UOA, but you can not be considered as such if JBFA in Christ alone is stressed. In my experience I did notice that some inquirers of mine did get the idea that perhaps UOJ is universalism too. Yet this is not what the Bible teaches. (BTW, there is no way you can misconstrue BoC with universalism, I had a look on justification and it is always through faith explicitly stated). I wanted to say too that it may lead to spiritual if not moral antinomianism, but that is another implication for someday. OK, I think he has strong points here that need prayerful considerations.

[UPDATE: See Dr. Ichabod's comments here, if interested]

4. Like other "confessing" Lutheran, Dr. Ichabod slices to bits Church Growth movement and Contemporary methods. But compared to other so called "confessing" Lutheran, who have nothing to blog but how evil modern worship is etc etc, (yawn), Dr. Ichabod has also said strong pointed words on Crypto-Papalist/Orthy Lutherans. This is what I do not see in other bloggers, they always have something bad to say about Enthusiasm of Evangelicals but have nothing to say about Romanizing tendencies of some Lutherites. Dr. Ichabod called such a specie of Lutherans doing "poping".

Following his lead, I had the idea that may be the crypto-Romanist Lutherans should be called "popesters" but that sounds like a rude word in Australian slang so I better not (this is a rated G blog site you know).

So take it for what it is worth, it is something healthy to listen from time to time to a dissenting voice and weigh their speech with Scripture--- after all were not the Reformers looked at that way -- dissenting voices?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Coram Deo, Coram Mundum

Thanks to those who voted, out of my 10 readers in the world, 6 of them wants to see more apologetics work here, only 2 like it to do devotionals. Here is a devotional for the 2 who like devotionals. Last posts were apologetical I thought, so a break.

When I got "saved" or came to faith this verse 1Cor 10:31 hit me...
31So, whether you eat or drink, or(AT) whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32(AU)

But then how did I use this verse? How did you use this verse?

Well, I interpreted that all of the things I should do is to glorify God. Whatever I do, literally. So at work, I am to do my duty, give a good professional work because this will glorify God. In relationship familiar or social, be forgiving, as this will glorify God. I needed to do things excellently so it will glorify God.

Well, I noticed before long, I do not do things excellently specially when I am tired, anxious and under stress. It really burnt me out and I did get angry, I think at my Christianity and to everyone,...even to God. Well, the verse is Law isn't it?

What was I doing? Well I interpreted this verse, as Coram Deo, in the face of God, or towards God, i.e. He is the object of this excellent ambition.

I checked this verse and in context, and I notice that the neighbor is the subject of that paragraph, in other words, this is Coram Mundum, in the face or towards the world. Minding what is advantageous for my neighbor rather than what is pleasing to me is glorifying to God.

Coram Deo way of glorifying God tends to be monastic when done here. I mean it is interpreted in terms of spiritual activities i.e. prayer, meetings here and there etc. etc. i.e. mostly related to church activities. They are important but how is the service used? as Law or Gospel?

Coram Deo has been taken cared by the Lord, now I need Coram Mundum. This is not intuitive, I need a couple more reads on this verse to exorcise my previous mind set.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"I think... " is an opinion

To the 10 people who read this blog, it is good to discuss the issue of blog decorum. BTW I wish to thank them -- even those who have a low opinion of this blog, I heartily thank them for educating me and growing me and letting me know who they are. I shake your hand if I could.

Over here though, in this blog, the only reason why I will delete your comment is that you got profanities coming in your post. You can heartily disagree and even think of me in a certain way...If you want to act as a fool too, that is your prerogative, correct?

Yes, you are entitled to say "LP, I think you are being dishonest and not fair, "I think you are being bigoted here" etc. I will publish that, and you will not be ex-communicated in my blog for that. In the interest of fairness I will not consider such a thing insulting, no, not necessarily. I do not think of myself as being touchy, I really can not work with people who are quite sensitive and can not handle proving questions. I used to be sensitive and touchy but pastoring cured me of that. Anyway, I believe the blog world, though it can be abused, is a source for ideas and aids to learning. Hence, dialog and inquiry and even challenging and direct questioning may happen.

When I was going for my FM radio broadcast license I was taught in radio broadcasting people are entitled to their opinions. This blog world is like that. I was taught that when a sentence is started by "I think....blah, blah, blah about you", the person is expressing an opinion, not a statement of fact. Do you think this is correct or do you think I was trained wrong? (OK an opinion of yours is coming ;-)

Perhaps in some parts of the world such preamble is not a signal that an opinion to which a person is entitled is on its way, I do not know. From what I know and from where I am, it is treated that way, and I act that way. Remember my profile statements , what is found here are my opinions. They are not endorsed by anyone but me. All are excluded, I claim no endorsement from the associations to which I belong.

The point is that anyone is entitled to an opinion and it is for those concerned to correct the wrong opinions of people by giving them facts, direct verifiable facts preferably. Opinions are not the same as facts, opinions can be shallow or stupid, but it should be granted to the individual. So if someone thinks of you blah blah blah, you are entitled to correct their thinking by supplying evidence against their favor, against their thinking. Opinions are not statements of facts, they are weak, they may be true or not true because they are perceptions and people can be deceived in their perceptions (maybe about you). That is my on opinion anyway..

For example, if someone says to me, I think the world is flat, or babies come out of trees, etc etc. I should be entitled to that. If you want to believe the holocaust did not happen that is up to you, you are entitled to that if you wish to be treated as a fool, that is your right. It is a free world.

I am allowed to think differently, now if you care about me, you can convince me by giving me facts as to why my thinking is wrong. If I am bull headed, then you are also entitled to stop taking what I say seriously, and have a pitiful opinion about me as well i.e. ignore.

So think of me as a poor benighted flat earth thinker so to speak, if that happens to be the case.

Yet opinions though they are not statements of facts may still be useful as there might be certain truths that may be of help in some areas of life. Opinions though they might be just that do not mean they have zero amounts to contribute. If you hire consultants, that is what they give you -- they give you their opinions. My work in consulting is like that - I recommend, suggest and express opinions. My credibility though rests on how I did my research ie was my opinion based on facts such that I can charge my clients for it? People pay a consultants because they can rely on their opinions (they think them wise ideas, i.e. consultants are wise guys).

Opinions often challenge others because by its nature it is often counter one's thinking. So rather than get fed up or easily hurt or exasperated, perhaps the better way is to maul the opinion over and correct it if it needs correcting or accept it if it is fair. Or maybe saying "I do not know, I may have to get back to you on that". This is what we do in the blog world and the places where we comment, that seems to be the nature of the game. Throwing the towel and crying foul easily is like being a kid who takes his basketball home because his opponents always block his shots.

Does that sound fair (enough)?


BTW, what I find sometimes confusing is in the rhetorics of things, the most problematic to me is the pronoun "you" - as this does not tell the reader if it is being used in the singular or plural.

So happy I found my "lost coin"

Rejoice with me. I found my Bible. Remember the parable of lost coin - Lk 15:18-19? It felt that way.

I have not told you but for the last couple of months, since November '07, I was really out of kilter. I lost my NT NRSV vest pocket Bible, a Bible I have been using for more than 15 years now. Yeah, I am one of those who like this translation compared to NIV. I think the NIV is too soft for my taste. Some think the NRSV is a liberal translation, hmmm, I am skeptical of that. It is based on the RSV and ESV is built on RSV too so...I doubt if ESV is a liberal translation.

When I lost it I felt like the the woman in the parable of the lost coin. I did look around all over the house. Now I did have a strong hunch it was somewhere in the house and I have looked over the shelves, the rooms, under the bed. I did miss it and I would get depressed, because it was something so useful to me. I used that Bible for my devotions and study, and when asked to preach, it was the one I used. I did pray and told the Lord, how sad I was for losing it, it was like a friend to me. So I wonder if the woman in the parable felt grieved or mourned for her lost coin - a great lost that strikes you at the heart, you get so upset and undone. I felt like that. It was so important that I still did not stop looking and praying I might find it, and pray I did, daily. I was hurting. I was not normal (I do not know if I should use that word because others think I have always been ab-normal - I got OCD).

Well, today before going to work, I was in the garage and I was picking up things from the garage floor when I happened to look up through a table as I bent up. Then, there it was, my black NT, I had to blink a couple of times, I found my friend.

There was my NT sitting on top of a thick black paper back book entitled--- Arnold Swarchenegger's Body Building Guide.

Is the Lord saying something to me here?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Black Nazarene

Yesterday was January 9. Yesterday, in Manila was the festival of The Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene is a statue of Jesus, kneeling with the cross on his back with Jesus depicted as a black man. You can see the whole festival here.

The video was taken last year but yesterday's affair was no different. Yesterday 2.5 million Filipinos went on pilgrimage to where this statue of Jesus is paraded, in the RC Church of Quiapo, Manila. Yesterday 2 people died. Considering there were 2.5M people who came, forgive me for saying, this was not a bad turn of events, many more could have died!

Why do people go to this festival, risking their lives, even though one can see The Black Nazarene everyday in the Church of Quiapo, any time? Well, they believe that it has to be on this festival day (and mind you not on another day) for this is the day of honoring The Black Nazarene, that is its anniversary. Thus, if you want a blessing, you must turn up on that day at the Quiapo (RC) church, then you can hope for blessings or graces from Jesus to happen. These might be healing of the body or the realization of some private wishes or dreams, perhaps a good year of prosperity or so etc etc. The people believe that by just being able to look at the face of The Black Nazarene as it is paraded will get them blessings from Jesus. Even better if one gets to touch the carriage or even touch the statue itself, that will really ensure graces or favor from Jesus. Some can not get any nearer, so, as an act of faith, they throw their towels to the carriage in the hope that it might reach and gets to touch the statue itself. That will give them comfort that what is required for a blessing has been met.

It does happen as some testify of healing and good fortune. Even the Vice-President of the country goes to this festival because for the last decades (I think I heard from the news he has been going since 1989) now, he has received good turn of events or good outcomes for his life. I think it goes like this: you make a vow to The Black Nazarene (turn up for the anniversary) and in return you can expect a blessing.

Already, today in Manila, devotees are ensuring that the festival will continued in the next generation. Today boys as young as age 3 are now being trained to make vows and be a devotee of The Black Nazarene.

This is theology in practice... from the ground.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Enamored but looking for home

The Pirate had a post which in his usual style happens to be brutally frank and viciously honest to which I refer here for reflection. He said
I think I understand rather well the mindset that leads otherwise intelligent people to believe that the pope really can apply merits from the heavenly treasury to your purgatorial debt upon fulfilling some rather arbitrary condition like visiting a shrine or kissing a talisman. I read enough blogs and theological literature to get a general picture of the psychological profile of the Catholic intellectual. It's the psychological disposition that can and will justify anything and everything for the sake of vindicating an institution with which one is rather enamored. It is quite a folly to imagine that theology is a dispassionate rational pursuit. In my experience, theologians of every church and tradition are generally motivated by something that runs much deeper than a simple commitment to intellectual integrity and that which can be certified as true. Quite often, the intellectual language of theology is simply a mask for the blind love of the institution, insatiable desire for academic respectability, desperate need for an identity within a certain traditional telling of history, unbridled self-importance, or disenchanted cynicism. To make a long argument short, Catholic intellectuals defend indulgences because they need to do so in order to validate both the institution and their identities within it. If Vatican II had declared the article in Trent concerning indulgences to be merely outdated pastoral advice rather than infallible dogma, or if Trent had never dogmatized them in the first place, indulgences would be today rotting on the ash-heap of theological history.
Yours Truly: I have noted that ex-RCs who become Prots specially from Hispanic origins are quite skeptical of Mother Church. I mean they seem to have an attitude "we are not easily impressed". Just about most you encounter now-a-days who are enamored with Rome Sweet Home happens to be from Anglo-Saxon background. Now you say, what is the point of that? Here is the point...

Our hommie, Past Elder said this in his comments to a Weedon post:
I was raised in the pre-conciliar RC church, and believed it to be the "true" church and faith. As I watched it dismantled and the new Catholicism put in its place, I could not see it as RC at all, and if the "true" church and faith were now lost, there was no reason to accept anything else, Christianity is false in any form

Yours Truly: Now again, the above comment is not for the easily bruised, OK? Just understand he is trying to honestly express a heart felt disenchantment, if I may say so. Here are my thoughts...

So you might be enamored with Rome Sweet Home, so you hiked the mountains,and hills, crossed rivers and plains and if Past Elder is correct, you get to Rome and find that home has left and changed as well. In other words, if his observation is accurate, Home Sweet Rome, is not there anymore. Where you went back isn't home as you supposed. From a human experience point of view, it does makes sense. Have you left your home and lived in some far away land for many years? Notice when you get back you find yourself a stranger in your own land. The truth is that just as much as you aged and changed, home also aged and changed ( unless home has always been with you, all along, of course).

If I may rephrase P.E. All roads lead to Rome, but where is it?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Elijah Complex

I think in apologetics work we need to consider not falling into this complex.

This complex happens when we think that we are the only ones who are concerned for the purity of the Gospel or doctrine. Do you feel like that? Then don't.

Consider what God said to Elijah (my version) -- "try not to take yourself so seriously, I got people here.... besides you."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Comments on Catholicism that deserve a comment.

There is a reason why I have not been bloging on Mother Church lately. I consider the interaction of e-apologists and defenders of Mother Church to be a waste of time (for me), because, quite frankly, who dares speak for Rome is the Magisterium itself. They told me that I was mis-catechized by the nuns of St. Mary's College, Quezon City, and recoleto priests of San Sebastian College, Manila, that is why I am a Protestant today (they always have someone else to blame) so heck, if I can not trust the nuns or priests to teach me correctly what they call the official teachings, I better get it from the horse's mouth and frankly you got to be a horse before you could get me to listen to you, I am not stupid, I learned my lessons well. So, I am not interested in one's version of Romanism or their interpretation of it. So to put it bluntly and with no dis-respect, if you do not come from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, understand if I do not take your opinion seriously, no hard feelings. I am very sure there can be interesting and educational dialog but I have not great amounts of time at the moment.

Some comments that were posted lately though deserve some short comments and I thank all those who visited, read and commented:

From Augustinian Successor:

True Catholics who know that to be Catholic is to be Protestant.
Yours Truly: This reminds me of one RC guy (the one who wish for this blog to shut down) who was honest enough to exclaim what his college professor said, that to be Catholic is to be (classic) Protestant. This is quite correct. In the end really the RC is following what the Protestant is doing, coming down to the wire, he is also following the dictate of his conscience i.e. also making a private decision, in relegating his authority of faith to something outside him, in this case the Magisterium. The Protestant process is in-escapable. In short everyone is doing a Luther in a great sense, whether one is honest enough or not.

From Past Elder:

I consider the Roman Church to be nothing more than the state religion of the Western Roman Empire and the Orthodox Church the state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire both outlasting the Empire which spawned them

Yours Truly: I wanted to continue the quote of Bro. Terry but it is not for wimps and those with onion skin sensibilities whose feelings are easily hurt so please read the comments in the previous post at your own risk (reader discretion implied). I recall what I heard of one who swam, for example the river Bosphorous getting shocked to find that it was as if time stood still when he got there, he concluded that it was Byzantinian culture that he got himself into. By analogy, and to the Elder's comment, the RC can be seen as such as well, the religious culture of the Western Holy Roman Empire. But it seems to me, one has to have eyes and ears that are exorcised of fanaticism in order to conclude this. You got to step outside and study this object objectively and without romanticism (was that a pun? I am not sure).