Monday, December 28, 2009

In the midst of the muck and mess he comes

I needed to hear that. Pastor Brett, my pastor preached a sermon this Christmas how Jesus comes in the middle of the muck and mess of the stable. Muck and mess, that is sometimes an appropriate description of what I am in, personally. That pretty much sums up also what the world is right now. Yet silently, ubiquitously, Jesus comes. It is hard to believe that Christ could be with me, in my muck and mess. To tell you honestly, I sometimes think Jesus is not in the radar of my life, like the radar has gone blank. Yet by God's word, He is Immanuel, the God who is with us. The trials that happen in my life are quick to distract me from sensing the presence of Christ. I have been noticing that. There are many things that can pull you away and so you think Jesus has gone off the chart. It is hard to believe that he is there even though all your senses say NO.

I also observe how deceptive the enemy could be. You look at the world, its glamor and glossiness, it sedates you to the fact that the enemy of our souls is also at work in the lives of others. The enemy does not advertise himself to the people he deceives and they have no inclination that they could be under his sway. I was speaking a few days ago with an elderly gentleman who taught in university and since have retired. He expressed concern at his teenage grand daughter's bland mind, how she has not been prepared for the basic tenets of life, she seems like wondering off and following where ever the wind blows. One of my children has been affected by this too in some degree or another.

The battlefield is in the mind because once this field is conquered the one in possession of this territory, takes control. It is indeed a faith-war. It is a cultural war and the media is also employed by the enemy to promote his false way of thinking - a false mindset. It is a battle of belief systems. He does not do this blatantly, he does it by suggestion, subtly. I suppose this becomes prominent as Christianity weakens its influence in society. Where as the tools the HS employs are countable by our fingers - Word and Sacrament, they are spiritual, but the enemy employs all the resources he can find to lure our minds to his agenda, he employs the flesh and appeals to our flesh.

May God (as Luther prayed) keep us steadfast in his Word, because without the Word, we would soon be sucked up by the mentality of the world.

I am interested in any insights you can share on this ubiquitousness of Christ and deceitfulness of the enemy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Worst Gospel Song Ever

If you think this was created by a Pentecostal, you are wrong. Stupid gospel songs are not confined to Pentecostals. This came from Sonseed, an RC group.

I could not believe myself, I watched through the whole thing. I did not realize I got some stamina for punishment.

Happy Christmas anyone, you could all use a laugh.

PS. We are not giving gifts this Christmas, at least not in terms of material gifts. Except for the grand kids, we decided to give each other time and service instead.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting desperate are we?

Watch this CNN report of a church that does lottery.

Now, why can't my local church have something like this?

I sure will be in church each Sunday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

False Doctrine - allowed

A few weeks ago, I got a text saying that the latest Hillsong album has been released and I was enjoined to support it saying "remember we are in this together". This is probably a pun on the title of the new CD etc., I am not sure anymore, I am not a fan. It implied to me that I should buy it. It came from a Pentecostal pastor.

I must have been kept in their list. Years ago I was active in ministerial fellowships around Melbourne, that was back in the days as a Charismaniac. But almost 5 years ago, I wrote to my Pentecostal pastor friends of my change in confession and how I believe the Book of Concord is the correct exposition of Scripture. Amazing, no body asked me what happened, why the change? Nope, none of that.

When I got the text, I immediately text back to the sender saying - "I do not buy into that Hillsong stuff". You would think I would get a reply asking, why? Nah.

The same thing happened a few months ago, I was sent an email by an old friend promoting Joyce Meyer's and Joel Osteen's teachings and I replied, saying they have false doctrine and did I get an inquiry why I said what I said? You know the answer.

In present day Evangelia/Charismania, there is no such thing as "false doctrine". When you mention such a thing, it does not register. They have no such category. Everything is ok, I am ok, and you are ok, ok? This completely gets me stumped. Mention false doctrine and they would not know what to do with it. They do not know how to process the remark, it is even a wonder if they think they should process it anyway. Anything goes in this crazy world.

So I go back to that time when I wrote my minister friends of my change in conviction, when I became Lutheran. I was just thinking, what if the letter that I sent said - I have become a JW or a Mormon, would people in my previous circle care to dialogue with me?

There are a few possibilities why nobody dared to speak to me. Either they think I was going to false doctrine and they are happy for me to be lost. Or they are happy for me because I am leaving some false doctrine behind and going to something true. Or, they just do not care about my soul (and probably their's too).

There are more possibilities than these but these ones come to my mind.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Obamessiah at the mosque?

This President certainly looks like praying at the mosque.

Of course, another possibility is that he was in Japan and it is customary there to take off your shoes when entering a Japanese home. Was he entering a Japanese home or was he visiting the Emperor of Japan?

What do you think? It certainly looks like a mosque to me.

A Muslim prayin at a mosque certainly deserves no news.

The thing with The Obama is that he claims to be "Christian".

So how does one reconcile a Christian praying at a Muslim mosque? Unless of course, you redefine what "Christian" and "Muslim" means, then you will find no disconnect in your actions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Are we using the Tiger?

I can almost bet, like me you have been reading about Tiger Woods lately. I do not know how he has been billed in the US; I have read only that he has been held up as a role model for young people. Over here we do not see his face in advertisements but no doubt he has many fans here. As a celebrity golfer, I am sure product makers would want their products to be endorsed by him. That may change now.

The world is clamoring for heroes. They have become rare commodities. They have become rare because Christianity in the West is now in decline. What used to underpin the moral stability of the West, is no longer there, it is shunned and even hated. It is even skewed in what they think is a hero.

I have been thinking much about the Tiger. I am sad. I am sad because as a fellow human being, he is going through a dark spot in his life. Someone (I can almost hear) ,I am sure, would say - what are you so sad about, the guy has billion dollar bucks coming out of his ears, no sympathy is required.

I was wondering if the job of being a role model was too much for him to bear. What if the pressure was so big, he knew himself that he did not fit the bill and he cracked under the pressure. What if fame made his life complicated? What if he himself needed a hero? What if?

Was the media too much in a hurry to turn him to be a hero? Why can’t a hero be somebody who lives a simple life, someone who battles daily to support his wife and kids, someone who does not have enough yet is happy simply to pour out his life so that his family might survive. Why can’t a hero be someone who gives whatever little he has to his family and to others? Why can’t a hero be someone who can’t point to a skill or talent or fortune in himself, but only has his clean name?

I have heard and am aware of husbands who had more affairs than the Tiger and who fathered many children (lots) outside marriage, but they don’t get in the news. If we would ask Jesus, all of us should be in the news, if you know what I mean.

The media used Tiger Woods, and who knows perhaps Tiger used them too. For sure, they are using him again. I feel for his wife, his parents and children, of course, for him too.

I would think if I were in his shoes, I should envy that suburban husband down the street who struggles to make ends meet, yet has no complications and lives relatively at peace in the company and support of his wife and kids. I know I would trade places with such a man.

I hope he seeks some pastoral counsel. That is what he needs right now.

I pray he (we) might understand that our first sin is not towards others, and that before we commit those sins against our neighbor, we commit them first towards God.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Is self-reference required?

I often read other people's blog. My teachers here taught me that in order to write, you should read. So I read some comments and interactions that take place in other people's blog. Recently I have read of an RC Apologist saying that Scripture does not teach the Reformation principle -Scripture Alone, or sola scriptura. Hence, it is not taught by Scripture.

His objection (I paraphrase).

"There is no Scripture in Scripture, that says Scripture alone is sufficient for faith and practice".

In logic, this is called a self-reference. It is a statement that speaks about the statement itself.

Here is another example:

"This statement is a lie".

Our language is capable of self-reference, but such referencing is not capable of being evaluated. It goes into cycles. So in the above, if that statement is false, then it is true and is not a lie, which it said it is etc etc, you can go crazy at this.

So going back to the requirement of the RC apologist, he seems to be saying that in order for sola scriptura to be true, you should find a statement of it in Scripture. There is one in Scripture such as 2Tim 3:16-17 that matches this but this is dismissed by RC apologists because it is not explicit enough.

There is a fallacy going on in the apologist's requirement. There is no necessity that for a document to be true, it has to state something about its own truthfulness and if it does not, then it is not adequate to inform.

Another point is this, even if there is one such explicit statement, the apologist can come back and say - well self-reference is not valid anyway because you are simply stating your statement is true, does not make it true.

Sophistry is like that, your system is able to prove or refute too much. At first blush they think this is virtue, but as I often say - this is not virtue, instead it is vile. A form of reasoning that is able to prove anything you like is not a good thing because that means you have falsehood also inside it.

Ex falso quodlibet - from a contradiction (falsehood) you can deduce anything. This is the fallacy that sophistry includes and is hidding inside that form of reasoning and for this reason is able to prove anything.

As fallen people, we are capable of sophistry. Even in culture such as the pop culture of young peole, you can observe this happening today.

When people are swimming in their own sophistry, they are not aware of it or fanatical adherence makes them deny it. It is like telling the fish - hey do you know you are swimming in water? Huh, what water?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A case of hijacking, again.

A few years ago, I think I posted about how the word "Evangelical" has been hijacked from the First Evangelicals. Please note, that observation was not original to me. So now, the word has been so used and misused, we do not know now what that word means.

I have been reading of what has been happening in the Calvinist/Reformed world.

Dr. R. Scott Clark, a Reformed professor of historic theology, wrote a piece here, arguing that the label "Reformed" should be confined to paedo-baptists Calvinists who confess the Continental (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort) and English Calvinist Confessions (Westminster, Savoy, etc).

Famous Reformed Baptists, like apologist Dr. James White of AOMIN.ORG took exception to this.

So in a sense, Dr. Clark's point is that technically the word "Reformed" should be the proper label for infant baptizing Calvinists, and it should not be applied to credo-baptizing ones. Hence, it is not proper for credo-baptists "Calvinists" to call themselves Reformed as another variation of that term, there is no such thing as Reformed Baptist, I think this is what Dr. Clark is saying.

I think Dr. Clark is right, historically Calvinism has a distinct pedigree and paedo-baptism is one of them.

On the other hand, Dr. Clark should know that Calvinists stole many concepts from Lutherans and rehashed them and gave them their own spin. I think this mostly happened in what Lutherans called The Interim.

So, all I can say is, what goes around, comes around, no?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Signing the Manhattan Declaration?

In case no one has heard yet, the Manhattan Declaration, is a statement by Christians (mostly in USA) that affirm

1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

Quite a number of well known US Christian personalities have signed it. On the other hand, I looked at the list of Christian leaders who signed the document and wonder why I see no one from the Lutheran synods who has signed this.

An interesting aspect is that I heard well know USA apologist like Dr. James White of AOMin and Christian leader such as Dr. John MacArthur would not like to sign this document. Not because it is wrong, but because the Catholics and the Orthodox are there and these denominations do not affirm JBFA.

I like to sign the document. No, I am serious, this document looks good. The thing that prevents me from signing it is the line...

We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered...

The word Evangelical is the one that makes me hesitate.

Lutherans are supposed to be Evangelicals, in fact they invented the word themselves! It first started with them. Unfortunately, I do not know what that word means now or how that word is used today, it has now been modified, hi-jacked if you will. Evangelicals are more Revivalistic than evangelical. I am not sure if I should be identified the term as it is used today. Someone said the Evangelicals are so wide, they cover from people of the likes of theologian R.C. Sproul to the faith healers like Benny Hinn.

Now that is a worry.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Where Luther and Calvin are different

In one interchange - Brett, a dear Internet friend, quoted this passage from Galatians 3.

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of
you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

When I was a Pentecostal, I was taught that "baptism" mentioned in v.27, was not water baptism but "Spirit baptism". By this they mean, when I gave my heart to Jesus, or when I got converted, made a decision etc. that was when I got baptized into Christ. Pentecostals, being baptistic, separate the HS from water baptism, because they do not believe water baptism does anything. Hence, they separate the HS from where He is found. This has impact when you are doubting your Christianity. Because by this, Pentecostalism makes you look at your sincere commitment, sincere decision etc. Thus, this makes you look at some mystical experience, yet even if you do and are able to point at one experience, you are not certain if that is the one that the Bible describes. You are uncertain still.

Another idea I see is this verse in Gal 2:

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me

I wondered, when did Paul die with Christ, how could he say this? I now answer my own question this way: at his Baptism.

Here is IssuesEtc feature on this.

Note what Luther says when attacked by the devil with doubts about his Christianity, he says to the devil: I am Baptized.

Luther pointed to the Means of Grace that happened to him.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Madam Huldah, faith is justificaton - Luther

A dear friend, Brett Meyer has been sharing with me for sometime now Luther's Sermon on Galatians 4:1-7, found here. It is about time to feature some snippets of this sermon but note that the highlights are mine, for my own thinking and perhaps that of the reader's too.

8. Do you ask: "What then am I to do? How shall I make myself good and acceptable in person to begin with? how secure that justification? The Gospel replies: "Hear Christ and believe in him, utterly despairing of yourself and resting assured you will be changed from a Cain to an Abel and then present your offerings." just as faith is proclaimed without merit or work on your part, it is also bestowed regardless of your works, without any of your merits. It is given of pure grace. Note, faith justifies the individual; faith is justification. Because of faith God remits all sins, and forgives the old Adam and the Cain in our nature, for the sake of Christ his beloved Son, whose name faith represents. More, he bestows his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes the individual into a new creature, one with different reason and different will, and inclined to the good. Such a one, wherever he is, performs wholly good works, and all his works are good; as taught in the preceding epistle lesson.

9. Then nothing else is necessary to justification but to hear and believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. But that is not a work of the natural man; it is a work of grace. He who presumes to attain justification by works, only obstructs the way of the Gospel, of faith, grace, Christ, God and all good. On the other hand, nothing but justification is necessary to render works good. The justified man and none other does good; all he does, being justified, is good, without distinction of works. Therefore, the order of man's salvation, the beginning and the sequel, is first to hear and then believe God's Word as supreme, and then to act. Thus shall man be saved. He who perverts this order and acts accordingly is certainly not of God.

10. Paul prescribes this order where he says (Rom 10, 13-15): "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" Christ teaches us to pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest; that is, faithful preachers. When they come they preach the true Word of God. Hearing it, we are enabled to believe, and such faith justifies us and renders us godly; then we call upon God and do only good. Thus are we saved. So then, the believer shall be saved, but he who works without faith shall be damned. Christ says (Mk 16, 16), "He that disbelieveth shall be condemned;" here works avail nothing.

11. Now, observe what people commonly do and say. "Yes,"' they tell you, "I expect to become godly. Yes, we must be godly." But if they are asked what we are to do to accomplish it, they go on to say, "Indeed, we must pray, fast, attend Church, abstain from sin, and so on." One will enter a monastery, another some order. One will become a priest, another will don a hair-garment. One will punish himself in a certain way, and another in another way. They are like Cain and do the works of Cain. Personally they are as at first--without justification. They but assume an external change, an alteration of works, clothing, condition and habits. They are really apes, assuming the habits of saints but remaining unholy. Unmindful of faith, they rush along with their good works toward heaven--as they imagine--torturing themselves.

Relative to them, Christ in the Gospel (Lk 13, 24) says: "Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able." And why not? Because they do not recognize the narrow door. It is faith. Faith humbles one, reduces him to nothing, until he must despair of all his good works and cleave only to God's grace; for that he must forsake all else. But the Cain-like saints imagine good works to be the narrow door. Hence they do not humble themselves. Nor do they despair of their good works; no, lading themselves with the cumbersome bundles of their collected deeds, they strive to pass through the door. They will pass as the camel with his great hump passes through the eye of the needle.

12. Mention faith to them and they scoff and laugh, saying: "Are we Turks or heathen that we must first learn what faith is? Is it possible that our multitude of monks, nuns and priests do not know? Who can be ignorant of what believing is when even they who openly sin know its meaning?" As if having finished with faith, they imagine they must henceforth devote themselves to works. As before said, they regard faith of slight importance; for they do not understand that it is our sole justifier. To accept as true the record of Christ--this they call faith. The devils have the same sort of faith, but it does not make them godly. Such belief is not Christian faith; no, it is rather deception.

13. In the preceding epistles we have heard that to be a Christian it is not enough simply to believe the story of Christ true--the Cain-like saints possess such faith--but the Christian must without any hesitancy believe himself one to whom grace and mercy are given, and that he has really secured them through baptism or through the Holy Supper. When he so believes, he is free to say of himself: "I am holy, godly and just. I am a child of God, perfectly assured of salvation. Not because of anything in me, not because of my merits or works, am I saved; it is of the pure mercy of God in Christ, poured out upon me." To such extent will he appreciate God's precious mercy, he cannot doubt that it renders him holy and constitutes him a child of God. But he who doubts, disparages to the utmost his baptism and the Holy Supper, and censures as false God's Word and his grace in the sacraments.

14. The Christian should entertain no fear--he should not doubt--that he is righteous and a child of God through grace. Rather he needs to entertain anxiety as to how he shall endure steadfast to the end. There is where all fear and anxiety are due. For while he assuredly is given to possess full salvation, it may be somewhat doubtful whether or no he will steadfastly retain it. Here we must walk in fear. True faith does not hang upon works nor rely upon itself; it relies only upon God and his grace. Grace cannot forsake the individual so long as reliance continues. But he knows not how long it will continue. Should temptation force him to lose his confidence, grace also will fail. Solomon (Ecc 9, 1) says: "The righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, man knoweth it not; all is before them." He does not say it is uncertain at present, but in the future,because man knows not whether he will withstand the attacks or temptation.

15. When the Cain-like saints hear the doctrine of faith, they cross themselves, both with hands and feet, and exclaim: "God forbid! How could I call myself holy and righteous? How could I be so egotistical and presumptuous? No, no; I am a poor sinner." You see how they make faith of no value to themselves, and so must regard as heresy all doctrine based upon it. Thus they do away with the whole Gospel. These are they who deny the Christian faith and exterminate it from the world. Paul prophesied concerning them when he said (1 Tim 4, 1): "In later times some shall fall away from the faith." The voice of faith is now silenced all over the world. Indeed, faith is condemned and banished as the worst heresy, and all who teach and endorse it are condemned with it. The Pope, the bishops, charitable institutions, cloisters, high schools, unanimously opposed it for nearly four hundred years, and simply drove the world violently into hell. Their conduct is the real persecution by Antichrist, in the last times.

16. Tell them what the prophet says in Psalm 86, 2: "Preserve my soul; for I am godly"; and Paul's words in Romans 8, 16: "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God;" and they reply: "Yes, but the prophet and the apostle did not mean by these statements to establish a doctrine or leave an example of what others may claim. They were enlightened and their holiness was revealed to them." Similarly, they construe every passage relating to the subject as not doctrinal in design, but exhibiting a remarkable miracle, a special prerogative of certain individuals not to be possessed by every believer. This explanation is a mere invention of their own minds. Themselves unbelievers, tasting not the Spirit, they think no one else should so believe or taste. By such conduct--their own fruits--they may be clearly identified as thorns and thistles; not as Christians, but as enemies and destroyers of Christians, and persecutors of the Christian faith.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Pacman did it again

He surprised us. He showed amazing athletic abilities.

My buddies and I were offended while watching the fight. We detected a slight cockiness and that annoyed us.

Cockiness is not something we accept in our culture. Flaunting your gifts and abilities is an offensive trait. True enough Manny does not have false humility either, but he does not have to be cocky. We do not tolerate such none sense and shame on him if he develops such a trait.

Fortunately The Age did not notice what we detected, maybe because they are accustomed to it and comparatively, his was mild. Here is the article.

When faith is removed

The last post has caused me to think much about how Revivalism has made a mess of the doctrine of JBFA, such that faith as a concept has been turned to a form of works.

Because of this, people who first cried sola fide i.e. JBFA proponents, now get allergic to any slight hint or suggestion that faith could ever be a condition for justification, even though they are taught that faith (in the Atonement of Jesus) itself, is a gift and a condition created by the HS through the means of grace and hence, not a condition they can arrive at themselves.

Consider now Ephesians 2:8-9.

8For(Q) by grace you have been saved(R) through faith. And this is(S) not your own doing;(T) it is the gift of God, 9(U) not a result of works,(V) so that no one may boast.

Let us chop off any suggestion of faith in this verse. It now reads...

For by grace you have been saved not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I leave you to think about the implication of this version.

Indeed some make faith a form of works, but if you stick to the Biblical teaching, goodness, if you believe the Gospel story, what has your faith got to do with it, since it simply receives the story! Scripture says if you are saved by grace through faith, you got nothing to boast.

Conversely, if you have a faith that can boast, it is faith that is not founded on the story. Surely that is the case. So why be allergic to faith? Such faith boasting faith, means you got a Gospel that is not THE Gospel.

Let us do it in elementary logi, if you have faith (let this be A), you got nothing to boast (let this be B), then Ephesians 2:8-9 says, i.e. A => B. Therefore NOT B => NOT A. Say your condition is a condition of boasting, then you do not have the faith described by Ephesians 2:8-9. Oh you do have faith, but it is not in the Gospel.

So in as much as faith can be looked at as a form of works, I do not have to be allergic to it in the discussions, because Scripture uses it. We did not invent the words and statements in the Bible, the HS did.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maier's Paper

Dr. Ichabod is sponsoring a discussion on Maier's paper "A Summary Exposition of The Doctrine of Justification By Grace Through Faith".

I am interested in such discussions primarily because justification is something I have been quickly ushered out of when I first believed as a Pentecostal. They have a notion of "being born again" but have no clue what justification is, when asked.

I believe Maier's paper is a finely written paper. It is a fair and good critique of Pieper's "overstatements", and based on my observation that term - "overstatements" is an appropriate label to use as to what has happened. Maier says

It appears, however, that some of the synodical fathers particularly in using and defining the expression “objective justification” (or “objective reconciliation”) have made certain overstatements which have created semantic difficulties and may in our day give rise to misunderstanding of New Testament teachings regarding justification, reconciliation, and related doctrines

Maier is spot on, it has created semantic confusion (I dare say) in the discussion of a so important topic. Here is an example from Pieper:

Now, then, if the Father raised Christ from the dead, He, by this glorious resurrection act, declared that the sins of the whole world are fully expiated, or atoned for, and that all mankind is now regarded as righteous before His divine tribunal.
[emphasis mine]

Huh? Righteous? You mean the Muslim and the Atheist and what nots, who do not believe in Christ, are righteous before God's eyes, before they believe? Hang on, they presently do not believe in Christ so - they are now righteous even without faith in Christ? That sounds a bit universalistic to me.

Maier praises and gives credit to Pieper where he spoke consistently with Scripture but likewise, Maier points out where Pieper overstated his case. This overstating is also something I find in a few of the venerable C. F. W. Walther's essays.

I know Pieper and Walther are holy church fathers of Lutheranism in America. However, I doubt if these people, had they been living today, would feel bad about your disagreeing with them.

As I was reading this - one of the titles of the Lord - Redeemer came into my mind and how appropriate that title is for Jesus. I think in that title we get all the doctrine of justification implies and in great precision. Redeemer as a title denotes the truth that he is the payer of the sinner's sins; it also denotes the ransoming of the sinner from the punishment of God.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Purgatorial musings

HT: Carrie, Acroamaticus

See the HT. I have been looking at interchanges on this subject. One thing that attracted me is this book:

Hungry Souls:
Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory
By: Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg

What got my attention is that this is purported to be written by a Luther dude. It says:

After a week of hearing ghostly noises, a man is visited in his home by the spirit of his mother, dead for three decades. She reproaches him for his dissolute life and begs him to have Masses said in her name. Then she lays her hand on his sleeve, leaving an indelible burn mark, and departs...

A Lutheran minister, no believer in Purgatory, is the puzzled recipient of repeated visitations from "demons" who come to him seeking prayer, consolation, and refuge in his little German church. But pity for the poor spirits overcomes the man's skepticism, and he marvels at what kind of departed souls could belong to Christ and yet suffer still...

Hungry Souls recounts these stories and many others trustworthy, Church-verified accounts of earthly visitations from the dead in Purgatory. Accompanying these accounts are images from the "Museum of Purgatory" in Rome, which contains relics of encounters with the Holy Souls, including numerous evidences of hand prints burned into clothing and books; burn marks that cannot be explained by natural means or duplicated by artificial ones.

Now think about this for a moment. So, God allows souls in Purgatory to bop up and down, visit earth and speak to people like this Lutheran pastor? And rather than this Lutheran pastor going to Scripture and rejecting his experience, no, he gets to become and Enthusiast.

Precisely, what kind of departed soul who belongs to Christ and yet suffer still.

When Saul visited the Witch of Endor, Samuel apparently appeared to him. Consulting mediums is not something God approves. I guess my point is that this pastor should have gone with his first impression, that these are demons coming to help spread false doctrine.

I do not believe Purgatory is Biblical for a very simple reason - If Jesus did not pay it all, Jesus did not pay it at all. (J.K. you might recall this is a Baptist quote). No matter what RC teaching on it happens to be and how nuanced their presentation of it happens to be, it is a spurious doctrine that has immense impact on the doctrine of justification.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

So now what?

What do I do now?

Yesterday felt surreal. I was in a daze as I drove myself to the uni. The project that began almost 6 years ago has finally reached the finish line. The one big mistake I made, getting into a doctorate program in logic, finally culminated, is now off my hair. I submitted my dissertation/thesis. Now it is in the hands of examiners. We'll see what they say later.

I was one of the lucky ones in that my supervisor allowed me to take a problem and run with it. Other times, it is not that way. Normally, the supervisor has a line of research topics and you come on board with him. But my supervisor whom I lovingly called "Prof" watched and guided me like a father, standing behind me, urging me on, yet often looking ahead for me, telling me where to turn and what to expect when I do. He did not give me vague directions. That is the difference, my Prof was a master logician and mathematician. When he gives directions, they are always specific, unless he wanted me to learn things by myself. He gave me no philosophically hazy comments.

So meet my Prof.

There is something providential with my relationship with (Emeritus) Prof. Crossley that I now realize. When I was finishing my undergrad in Manila, my logic teacher took us to a seminar where I sat down and listened to this Oxford man give a lecture on some esoteric topic relating algebra to logic (if I recall). I could not recall what was said really, I did recall the tall lanky gentleman with a beard writing on the black board. Little did I know some 30 years later he would be my supervisor. I wondered about this turn of events and I am still mesmerized of how providence (I would say the Lord) cooked this up. I owe this man a lot for my education and the Lord for his mercy. I told the Lord I would not be studying again but I went back on my word, so this thesis was punishment for braking my vows. I have been disobedient yet, the Lord has mercy.

Well that thesis project was a part of my life for more than 5 years. I toiled, went through highs and lows, deprived myself of job offers, deprived of sleep, deprived of rest and recreation, left me with dreams of formulas, left the missus on her own watching TV, she sometimes went to bed on her own while I was tied to the desk typing till 2AM. One time I noticed sleeping on a problem and waking up with those symbols banging on my head. I would say, "honey, just one more theorem to prove, just one more proof and I am done", not true. No wonder some maths geeks go nuts and become mental. It can crack damage the brain. So this thing pre-occupied my life, I was at a loss when I submitted the dissertation yesterday. So I think I owe the missus also for my education since she felt the effect of this project, the sad effect, the part that hurt.

I feel like I was going through some withdrawal symptoms. I was disoriented wondering, so what do I do now? It was for sure a journey, so where do I go now?

Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me submit, you must have thought of me as being silly when I enrolled 6 years ago. I love you for your mercy towards me, I do not deserve it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So it is our fault again?

I heard someone said that the demise of Evangelicalism is due to the Baby Boomers.

Why is it our fault now? We are the market, it is not our fault if the marketeers attract us and customized their product for our consumption, is it?

Go easy on us baby boomers. Most of us have aging parents, and many of us are caring for those who have gone before and those who are going after us. Most fellow baby boomers I know are in this situation. Many of us are gradually becoming mourners, burying their loved ones if not their friends. Like me, they have nothing for their retirement.

Friday, October 30, 2009

As my Reformation treat - I'll do Bach

When rendered properly, Bach's music, can lead me to tears. I am not joking. I am serious, his music does sometimes make me weep.

Pr. McCain has one in his blog but I am putting this version on Bach because it has documentary discussion on the Reformation of Luther.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Calvin and the art of obfuscating

I was reading a book about the theology of Calvin and the author said that what Luther began, Calvin completed. I have read a bit of Calvin's expositions and I find it astounding why he is the greatest theologian after Augustine. Take the case of Calvin's comments on John 20:19.
And while the doors were shut. This circumstance was expressly added, because it contains a manifest proof of the Divine power of Christ; but this is utterly at variance with the meaning of the Evangelist. We ought, therefore, to believe that Christ did not enter without a miracle, in order to give a demonstration of his Divinity, by which he might stimulate the attention of his disciples; and yet I am far from admitting the truth of what the Papists assert, that the body of Christ passed through the shut doors. Their reason for maintaining this is, for the purpose of proving not only that the glorious body of Christ resembled a spirit, but that it was infinite, and could not be confined to any one place. But the words convey no such meaning; for the Evangelist does not say that he entered through the shut doors, but that he suddenly stood in the midst of his disciples, though the doors had been shut, and had not been opened to him by the hand of man. We know that Peter (Acts 10:10) went out of a prison which was locked; and must we, therefore, say that he passed through the midst of the iron and of the planks? Away, then, with that childish trifling, which contains nothing solid, and brings along with it many absurdities! Let us be satisfied with knowing that Christ intended, by a remarkable miracle, to confirm his disciples in their belief of his resurrection.

Calvin has a way of speaking one thing and meaning another, kinda convoluted way of saying it was a miracle, not that Jesus used his divine powers to enter the room but an angel must have helped him come in. Jesus need the assitance of angels, no? I believe the allusion to Acts 10:10 is a typographical error, I think it should be Acts 12:10. Calvin did not want to admit that Jesus' body has the capacity to appear and disappear thinking by doing so, he is capitulating to the Papist doctrine, probably of the Eucharist. Calvin is able to do this double talk at once in the same paragraph. A remarkable effort in being obfuscating. I am being polite when I say I find him confusing. I like to use the real word but this blog is rated G.

In saying that it was a miracle and in saying it was similar to what happened to Peter, he actually said more than what Scripture said. That is the drift I am getting at.

This is where Luther was different. Luther was careful not to throw the baby with the bath water. As an exegete Calvin was more rationalistic and humanistic than Luther.

So I do not know why Calvin is given such a high esteem. I donot think he completed what Luther began, it was more like over shooting Luther and even over shooting Biblical Christianity which to me, is bordering on sub-Christianity.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pope says to Anglicans... swim the river, the water is warm

Here is the article.

Looks like the Pope is making it easy for those un-easy Anglicans to switch their affiliation. Well if you are a conservative in the Anglican Church, and you are disheartened with what is going on with the your denomination, for it is obvious, the liberal group has the upper hand. They are into homosexual clergy and women's ordiantion, why not just jump ship? Kinda, take off from the frying pan, and dunk yourself down to the fire.

This behavior reminds me of the time when I was a Pentecostal. You hear of a congregation losing its pastor and another pastor hovers around and wheels and deals with members of the congregation who just lost its leader. They are like vultures (maybe the better word - wolves) circling the spoil.

Lets us face it, the Pope is a business man.

So I ask, if I was an Anglican, what am I buying when I go to Mother Church? Like I said to people I know, the Pope will allow you to be a Lutheran, Anglican and a Baptist or whatever, he will allow you to practice quietly what you will just don't make it formal and don't buck the Pope. The Pope will allow you to hold your views, so long as you know who is your daddy.

This could start a mass exodus from other denominations, there is power in what the bandwagon can do, you know.

This should give some ideas to people in the ELCA (perhaps even people from my own Synod?). Because just recently they have now allowed practicing gay/lesbian ministers to hold pastoral positions, so the conservatives in ELCA may have another option. Would that be the answer?

Why not go back to your Scripture and hold tenaciously to the Confessions? Would that not be the better option?

I guess if your loyalty is to conservatism per se and not to Scripture, you can make any excuses with your decision and won't loose sleep over where you belong.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outward sign of inward reality - jive

I have been thinking about the jive I often hear and have been taught many years ago by my credo-baptistic pastors, in that baptism is the outward sign of an inward reality.

Now, that bit - "inward reality" technically does not play up in Scripture neither does Scripture speak of such construct. If there is one, I like to be shown which Scripture that might be.

I go back to Acts 2:38

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
This passage is commonly interpreted by Baptistic folk to mean, 1.) repent first, b.) then be baptized.

So only those that are to be baptized are those who have repented. Baptistic commentators also make bones about that repentance comes first before baptism.

The question is, how do you know you have repented? Hence, this makes the baptizer and the baptizee (sic?) look at the "inward reality" so that they may adhere to the command to be baptized. Honestly neither the credo-baptizer nor the baptizee know of such "inward reality" yet they have it in their language.

And this brings up another point, Acts 2:38 is looked at by the Baptistic person as a command.

This the reason why they have a hard time undestanding why a Lutheran can affirm JBFA and have real Sacraments of Baptism and Communion, they view the passage as a command to be performed, a Law.

If I have a Baptistic reader here, I like to throw another posibility of reading the text. That Act 2:38 passage is not a command but a promise! A gift. In fact that is what the passage says - "the promise is to you and to your children". Also the connection between the forgiveness of sins and baptism should not be ignored as some of you do. If you do not believe that forgiveness of sins is a gift, then you have to believe it is earned. Yet the passage speaks of baptism as a promise with attachments - forgiveness of sins and the gift of the HS.

That baptism is the repentance. That is why in Church History, it is not possible for someone to be considered a Christian if he is not baptized. Also in your circles, you have people questioning, "if baptism does not save, why do I have to be baptized, since I have given my heart to Jesus and I have already asked him to come in"? You have this paradigm and a conundrum of convincing the professor of the need to be baptized to fulfill a command.

In Lutheran circles, that paradigm does not compute because baptism is the gift itself, and the receiving of the gift...itself, in the name of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Feeling forsaken

I wanted to post something on Calvin's take on John 20 but I thought about suffering instead.

How come when you are going through trials and temptation, through sufferings, the Lord seems so far away and you feel left swimming on your own. Then I thought about Jesus feeling the same at the Cross.

Psalm 27:9c
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation

I wish I could stay on top of the mountain but part of the trip is going through the valley.

Update: Each Tuesday Phoenix' eyes gets tested, so far dear brothers and sisters, they have not detected a noticeable decline. Please continue to pray for him and his mom.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A shout for Arnel and Journey

I heard some quip, we were born singing with a guitar in our hands. Well I am not a good singer but I do music, piano, guitar and now trumpet.

When I was growing up, the typical picture motif in our house was the picture of the Indio (The Spaniard's label for a native Filipino), lazin' away seating and leaning under a coconut tree, with his sombrero (palm hat) on his head strumming his guitar.

In the interview, you can detect some hispanic accent in the way he spoke English. I am puzzled myself, it is hard to pin down a Filipino - is he Asian or Hispanic? May be Latin Asian akin to Latin American?


Thanks Journey, for believing in Arnel.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baptistic missing the point?

I got this from a Statement of Faith of a Calvino-baptistic group.

Baptism is an important action of obedience for a Christian and signifies a person's identification with Christ. It is not necessary for salvation. It is an outward manifestation of an inward reality of trust in the sacrifice for Christ, of conversion, and of identification with Christ. The act of water baptism does not save anyone. We are made right before God by faith, not by faith and baptism (Rom. 3:28-30; 4:3,5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16, 21; Phil. 3:9; see alsoActs 10:44-48).

Now I can see why it is so hard to understand how Baptism could be a gift. I was thought the above and that paradigm is so rationalistic it for a while makes sense, until you live the Christian life and observe that it leads Baptism to nothing. So when Jesus commanded to baptize, it was some whimsical idiosyncratic idea that Jesus decided to cook up at that time.

I just notice how Acts 2:38 is missing in the above:

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The baptism part of the verse is passive, i.e. it is being done to you. Then the kicker - "for the remissions of sins". Part and parcel of repenting is the belief that baptism is connected with the forgiveness of sins. The statement of faith extrudes the two from each other. This is what rationalistic interpretation does.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This one is the Lord's

Rev. George F. Borghardt III, wrote to me and we want to share with others the thoughts and hope that are found in that email. May those suffering as we are, find comfort that our sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, as much as they have been baptized, are also the Lord's.

That is God's guarantee that goes beyond here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I have not been posting lately. Something happened to my family that I am still processing until now. I cannot foresee myself posting for a while. Consider, for the time being, that I am having "dead air".

My children are young parents themselves, so far they have given us grandsons, the oldest is 4 years old. Last month, my oldest daughter gave birth to a premature baby boy. A few weeks ago, they did a brain scan and the doctors met us for a discussion and a meeting. Doctors say he has severe brain damage and we are looking at cerebral palsy. Needless to say this has brought despair to my daughter.

I feel like I have been hit by a baseball bat, right in the head. I am still down on the floor, perhaps never wishing to get up.

Why is it that doctors are very sure of what bad things can go wrong, yet they are never sure of good things that can possibly go right? Nowadays, they seem to have the last say and usually the final say about what goes on.

I would appreciate your prayers for Phoenix and his mom. They both need God's help.

I am going to make what I belive to be a fair statement; whether God heals my grandson or not, my Bible says, there is only one person here who has the last say in anything, God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, no one else.

Don't you hate it when people, knowingly or unknowingly, usurp the position of God? I do. My very being rebels against it.

Thank you for your prayers.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Target Market

Many moons ago, in my wanderings I attended an AOG pastor's meeting in my area.

It was lunch, and a young pastor sat beside me. At that time, my congregation was getting bigger and had a few outreaches. The pastor relayed to me how he was getting tired of evangelizing an elderly Greek lady in his church neighborhood. Hearing that we were growing, he asked me if we had any young people. I said "yes, we have some". It was like an "aha" moment for him, when he said "That is it, I better concentrate my efforts to work on them" and stood to get some sweets. I choked on my food as I looked at him finish our conversation. Didn't that elderly Greek lady need the Gospel?

Well, targetting the youth does make sense. The young are strong, they can do lots of manual work in church. You do not need to pick them up and bring them to church. They are abled bodies they can drive themselves to the meetings. They can do follow ups, and no need for much visitation, they are filled with energy. Our utilitarian needs are well served by them, not like these old ones who live off coins from their pension. So in many respects, the young people are the best market to attract. They are low maintenance.

I love it when I am being facetious.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pre-occupation with Youth - Desperate Church Life

What is up with this pre-occupation and paranoia about youth?

I am sure me asking this sounds dumb, the answer should be obvious. I just have to look and I should see that the youth is absent in the churches. This came up in my mind when I attended the our community interchurch council meeting. The subject of the annual fund raising dinner came up and one the ministers from a non-denominational non-confessional background brought the subject if young people ever come to the fund raising dinner. Not really, they don't turn up.

So first, he suggested the idea of volunteering his church's band. Good, give them one of those monotonous, "me, me, I love you Jesus, I burn for you" music. That should attract them. Then one of the Baptist pastors said he has a missionary from Uganda and he could do the talk. Then the non-denom pastor added, is there someone who could also stand up comedy, do them jokes stuff? That should really get the young people interested in coming to the dinner no?

Finally, in my usual stupid way - I said, well why you are it, may be you might as well get a magician, no? He said his wife can do that, she is able to make his money disappear, I said - we should get her.

Oh yes, the youth in some big churches are coming, but in the end, where are they going?

I mean are churches going down to the gutter on this, are they that desperate that by hook or by crook we should give whatever it takes to get the young people in? Really now, if what they need is a circus, should we be willing to give that to them, so long as they can get in to church?

Sure enough, non-denom folks are notorious for not trusting the means of grace, I guess they are like that because though they do believe in some means, they do not believe in the ones where God has promised to work.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stuhlmacher on Rom 4:25

Romans 4:25
25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification

Faith in this God is true faith. It genuinely leads to justification. [25] Verse 25 declares why this is so by a formula of confession which was already structured before Paul's call into two clauses that are arranged in Semitic parallelism and oriented on the Hebrew text of Is 53:11f. As it is indicated in Isaiah 53, God delivered Jesus over to his opponents and thus to death on the cross "because of our transgressions (cf. Mk 9;31, 10:33f. par.; 1 Cor 11:23; Rom. 8:32)., and he raised him in recognition of his act of sacrifice "because of our justification". Christ's act of sacrifice on the cross, ordained by God and endorsed as valid by the resurrection, is and remains the legal ground for the justification of all those who, as the "ungodly", believe in the God who revealed himself in Christ. God's salvific righteousness comes to pass in the resurrected Christ from "now' (3:21) until the final judgement. [emphasis mine]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hard not to associate A with B

Let's face it, when the news breaks out on terrorists being captured or people being charged of terrorist activities, we do not normally link their religious background to being Catholic or Protestant.

I mean, it will be hard to imagine a Baptist trying to blow up a saloon or a bar. Or a Pentecostal setting on fire a movie house then blowing himself up so he can take down as much people with him.

This post by Andrew Bold here speaks for itself.

Monday, August 03, 2009

In Christ, no parsing needed

Eph 1 (NASB)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us.

Col 1 (NASB)

13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I used to try to penetrate deeply in to what those "IN CHRIST" passages mean. In fact it was brought up in one of the discussions here.

Now I do not do that anymore because I believe it has to be understood in its plain sense, it needs no parsing.

Forgiveness is not found anywhere floating in the air but it is found specifically in one location - in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ - who has become our righteousness, sanctification and redemption - 1 Cor 1:30. He is God's gift to us - for us. He brings us to Christ so that we may benefit in his work of paying for our sins. Jesus is The Righteous One.

So when we are bothered that we are thoroughly not righteous, we point to Christ in the face of the Law and even in the face of the accuser of the brethren.

These IN CHRIST passages I observe has a way of pushing you to believe - and to believe what? - Precisely the same thing - that IN CHRIST I have righteousness, sanctification and redemption. To confess this is to believe also what the Scripture says - that indeed IN CHRIST we have the forgiveness of our sins who gave himself as ransom for us all.

The other question, is this - am I IN CHRIST? This is one of the reasons why these IN CHRIST passages had a way of mystifying me.

I was told I am in Christ if I believed. This is true but what happens when I doubt if I even believe?

According to Philip Cary in his paper - "Why Luther is not quite Protestant", Luther looked at his baptism when faced with such doubts.

We need to rely on another Scripture that in our Baptism according to God's word - Rom 1:1-6, God has placed us IN CHRIST. That is what happened. God applied Jesus death to us forgiving us of our sins, in that means of grace. The effect of baptism then if God's Word is to be believed, is not confined only at that point when we were baptized but its effect is for the rest of our lives. The forgiveness is all of our sins not just some.

May our hearts always confess, "yes Lord God, IN CHRIST I have your forgiveness of sin, Jesus has already paid it on my behalf". Amen.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mean meanies of Grace

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

Calvinists will shout Sovereign Grace, Sovereign Grace! Lutherans will shout Means of Grace, Means of Grace!

When I was a Pentecostal (and was a credo-baptist), I was often asked by converted folk, "Look if I am saved by faith, why do I get baptized, why is this needed? What is this for"? Good question, no?

Guess what my answer was? I answered - well Jesus said you should be baptized so you should be, besides, baptism is showing your commitment to follow Christ. It is a reflection of what has happened in you as a witness to the outside world. Then we would both walk away, but in my head - a niggling thought would still linger - "yeah, so what if I do not get baptized, since it does not do anything and I am saved by faith, that is it, so what is the baptism for"? Really, the reason I gave those folks were so flimsy justification for baptism.

What non-Lutheran Prots think regarding the Lutheran idea of baptism is that a.) it contradicts sola fide, JBFA. ( so they think), b.) how could God be tied to something, some kind of work (so they think)? They observe baptism and even observe the life of the baptized and it seems nothing happened when that baby was being baptized and furthermore, that adult now lives such a sinner, it is hard to believe something happened back there.

Non-Lutheran Prots who believe in the doctrine of sola fide do not really understand the Lutheran concept of sola fide. Yet, they will understand it, if they take the time to put down their preconceived ideas, brazenly look at the Scripture's text and the Lutheran explanation. I was a non-Lutheran Prot too, so it can be done.

I need to quote Larry again here, his experience is worth studying...

If I might put it in a nutshell the best trick the devil has done is to take the means of grace and gloss them over with a coat of ‘white wash works righteousness’, so that grace now looks like, to many, works righteousness. E.g. Infant baptism is the ultimate view of the distribution of real and true grace to someone who can do nothing but RECEIVE it. The devil being a sly general sees, “Oh they only want grace eh.” So he camouflages infant baptism with the errors of Rome so that it looks like works righteousness and tada the Baptist heresy is born. So that now no one in that theology, baptistic, may take advantage of their baptism as a true means of grace. It’s as if they are poor and starving with no money and all they think they have is this heavy white garden block that is just short of junk that can be thrown out (the works righteousness white wash over infant Baptism). The do not realize that what they have under that false doctrine white wash is the golden treasure from heaven. So that when they suffer from hungering and thirsting for a righteousness that is not their own (am I really saved, reborn, elect), they never go to that ‘white washed heavy block’ to realize God has given them the righteousness. If they could but or if others like Lutherans could be scrap a little of the devil’s white wash off of that heavy block and say, “SEE look GOLD not concrete – you have the wealth of heaven on you in your baptism!”

The same thing applies to the real presence issue regarding the Lord’s Supper. The devil’s white wash under the Mass has caused many, including the brilliance of Zwingli and Calvin and their successive followers to no longer see the true gold from heaven that is the very and true body and blood of Christ.

Having now diverted many Christians from the true means of grace by a ‘white wash’ of works righteousness, he now diverts them to false “means of grace” which are not any such things but truly works righteousness and false hopes. The examples vary from denomination to denomination and from church to church but range from alter calls, rededications, praying the prayer of salvation again and again, rebaptism, not the true body and blood of Christ rituals, and general empty “free style” liturgies. These works righteousnesses are glossed over by the devil with a paint of grace.

So that the real means of grace, the Pure Gospel and the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution are white washed with works righteousness white wash; and false means of grace which are really works righteousness are glossed over with ‘grace colored paint’. So that men avoid true grace and go to false grace which is works righteousness!

The devil ALWAYS inverts the Word of God, nothing new under the sun.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

A brief commercial break

We interrupt our regular programming.

I was about to post again one of Larry's comments but I thought we should interrupt our "celebration" (nope!) of Calvin with a brief ad.

I am the proud Dad of the last girl shown on this Qantas ad. Of course it has been 10 years since, and she has grown mature but I have not stopped being proud of her.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Mess - is the pot calling the kettle...?

I believe the comment of Larry (who probably one day will blog himself) on the discussion below needs to be displayed here because he gives a challenging critique of the fruits of Calvin's ideas.

Please note that I have Calvinistic friends whom I regard and give brotherly affection. I am featuring Larry's critique here not because I want to be quarrelsome, but because Larry was a former Calvinist himself, I think that counts for something. Then secondly, I am featuring this in the spirit of honest, respectful conversation or dialogue.

Here is what Larry said...

The interesting thing about Calvinism and America and the complaint regarding today’s evangelical church is that many Reformed complain about it, yet don’t really see that Calvinism is it’s root and this, even Pentecostalism is the logical extension of Calvin.

America is practically solely influenced by English Calvinism and all its derivatives, even the Baptist church can trace itself back to Calvin, even Wesley and Arminianism. All those came out of Calvin. The Puritans, staunch Calvinist, if you read them much over time, having thoroughly followed Calvin in disconnecting the Sacraments (look up their “half-way” covenant stuff) over time looked more and more inward and for the “process of conversion”, the ordo salutus. If you read even the highest end Puritans like Jonathan Edwards they spend much paper and ink ferreting out what is real conversion and what is not, I mean nearly everything they wrote…it was obsessive. Children were panicked about “am I elect” and such. A true story of a woman throwing her baby down a well killing it and saying, “Now I know I’m not elect, surely I will go to hell”. What is frightening about that is that she found comfort in knowing she was hell bound over NOT knowing IF she was elect. You see how true hell works, and this kind of terror among many in Calvinism, though not that drastic in doing what she did, is not too few at all. These kind of terrors over election are pretty part and parcel with Calvinist. Hell I nearly on numerous occasions wanted to commit suicide over it, and that is WELL outside of my normal personality – yet the terror is so great and the sacraments according to the Calvinist doctrine (Baptist OR Reformed) allows for no help whatsoever it drives men and women to utter despair. It is EXACTLY as Luther once said that the devil leads men to these great heights to break their necks and fall like he did.
Larry continues...
So since the sacraments are unhinged and only signs and seals of a grace elsewhere given in the ordos salutus[sic] one MUST find where? After all what God fearer is going to sleep at night without knowing, “am I saved, elect, reborn”? What else in the entire universe is worth having if you don’t have that! And there, the inward journey begins, back INTO the heart and soul of the sinner to find “the spirit’s” work that “grace elsewhere given” but not in the sacraments. So it is no surprise that men like Wesley and Finney and others arose. It’s the logical progression of Calvin’s sacramental-less theology. And from Finney it is no small leap whatsoever to rank Pentecostalism, health and wealth theology, all sorts of theologies of glory. It starts with Calvin’s ever so seemingly slight error on the sacraments, just a half a degree off back in his time, but then 500 years later we have Finney, Wesley, Benny Hinn, etc… That’s what inward turning produces at length. When the “sacraments” only signify the grace ELSEWHERE given, that elsewhere becomes the search, “where is it”, that’s what the end product becomes. Hiding the Word of God, actual grace given in the water, bread and wine so that one’s theology in essences says, “Nope, God’s not here for you, elsewhere”, falsely send you on this hide and seek searching, “Then where is God’s salvation for me”, and so presto ‘theologies of glory’ of ALL sorts. Calvinist rail against Arminians, but the truth be known Arminians are their creation, their doctrinal children. If faith doesn’t come as a gift in the sacraments, and grace is conferred elsewhere, then these “ex-calvinist” become Arminian are simply try to put back into concrete something they can hold on to. So they move faith to “man’s decision”, it’s seemingly more concrete than Calvin’s vague ordos salutus.

Final point to where this all leads concerning American religion and its father Calvin. American’s Christian spectrum, in the widest sense is in a deplorable state. From liberalism to conservativism[sic] from Methodist, Baptist, Presby., Reformed, you name it – all the grandchildren of Calvin. America’s religion is now like and worse than Medieval Rome ever was. And we all consider the Papacy as thoroughly antichristic, but America is in a sense worse. It took the errors via Rome nearly 1500 years to produce a situation so bad that it took an evangelist like Luther to be used reform. Yet it has taken Calvin’s errors 500 year to manifest nearly the same level if not worse antichristic characters.
Dawn K, carries the thoughts of our conversation further in her musings.

Just to let you know that my blog programming will be sparse in the days to come, I will be busy writing on my research etc. etc., blah blah blah. Or to quote Todd Bentley, the fake healer - bam, bam, bam.

BTW, there are lots of guests coming from twitter. Nice for you guys to visit but how did you hear about this post? Leave a comment and let us know.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Calvin's 500th

This Friday is Calvin's 500th birthday.

Let us face it. In the world of Protestantdom, we are surrounded and circled around by Calvinists and those he influenced. In my country of birth, Lutherans are not even a blip in the radar. You won't find us much in the city. You will find us in the mountains and remote rural places but not in the urban areas. Luther is only known to handful of Protestant pastors there. If an Evangelical pastor there knows Luther, you can bet he is pretty educated.

There are quite a few wise words that Calvin said that I like. I stress the few (LOL).

Have you read his prayers? I certainly come out impressed by his spirituality whenever I read them.

I was reminded of him when I visited Ichabod who featured a couple of things he said regarding the sacraments in connection to Enthusiasm.

Here is an example from Calvin's Institutes:

We must not suppose that there is some latent virtue inherent in the sacraments by which they, in themselves, confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon us, in the same way in which wine is drunk out of a cup, since the only office divinely assigned them is to attest and ratify the benevolence of the Lord towards us; and they avail no farther than accompanied by the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts, and make us capable of receiving this testimony, in which various distinguished graces are clearly manifestedThey [the sacraments] do not of themselves bestow any grace, but they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon us.

What did Calvin do in the above quote? He weakened the connection of the Sacraments with the HS. In short, for Calvin, the Sacraments may or may not be accompanied by the HS. For him, there is no guarantee that the HS will accompany the Sacraments for sure, the HS is detached from the Sacraments. I have several theories as to what might be going on in his psyche that led him to say this stuff but that is for another post.

What then is the effect of this detachment or lack of guarantee that the HS is with the Sacraments? You cannot look to it. Calvin's ambeguity has a negative effect on the believer in that he becomes at a loss as to where God's promises are located. He no longer has a guarantee that when he goes there, God will meet him there. Hence, the believer may have to look for a zap from above, and they often do, ergo, Enthusiasm.

At least with Zwingli, it was much better, at least with him, you knew he said the Sacraments were mere symbols. You knew where he stood, and he was wrong. Calvin's vague position I believe has led to the chaos we see in Evangelicalism. This uncertainty as to where the HS works and what He uses to supply what God demands (faith) is like being in a ship that has lost its rudder.

Contrast the above with what the BoC on FC, SD XI says about the matter:

Furthermore, the declaration in John 6:44 is right and true, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."However, the Father will not do this without means, but hasordained His Word and Sacraments for this purpose as ordinarymeans and instruments. It is not the will of the Father or ofthe Son that a person should not hear or should despise thepreaching of His Word and wait for the drawing of the Fatherwithout the Word and Sacraments. For the Father draws indeed by the power of His Holy Spirit. However, He works according to His usual way. He works by the hearing of His holy, divine Word. Every poor sinner should therefore attend to the Word, hear it attentively, and not doubt the Father's drawing. For the HolySpirit will be with His Word in His power, and will work by it.That is the Father's drawing. (paragraphs 75-77)

Notice how the BoC leaves nothing uncertain, notice how boldly it asserts the HS is with the Word and the Sacraments. What is the effect of this to the struggling Christian who is in doubt if he has faith? He is assured that he can go to the Word and Sacraments where his faith may be strengthened, increased - he has a guarantee that the HS will meet him there. When he goes to the Word, he is certain, it is God speaking to him. When he goes to the Supper, he is certain, Jesus is pronouncing and giving evidence that his sins have been paid for. Assurance.