Monday, March 30, 2009

What gets you "in".

By "in" here, I mean "in the faith", "in Christ" and so forth.

When I was in Charismania,

my Arminian teachers warned:

- faith got you in, faith will keep you in.

then I swang to Calvinism and this got transformed to

- grace got you in, grace will keep you in.

None of these gave assurance. I did not find all the above adequate as the first points to me or my faith, while the second points to me again, I am sure that comes as a surprise, correct? The second also points to me because here is the question: did this grace "happen" to me? In effect, did this faith which is a gift of God happen to me? Both point to something in me. Both get me edgy.

My assesment, and I believe is consistent with the Scripture's teaching on the means of grace:
- The Gospel that got you in, is the same Gospel that keeps you in.

The Lutherans Confessions taught me the last one and it points me to the Promise, outside me.

Now, if I could get these Lutherans excited and believe their own doctrine and trust the means of grace...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Church of Whatever

Preacher, of false doctrine?

The only thing I like Oprah for is that she recognizes Charice Pempenco.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obfuscations II

So I was having conversation with a pastor friend from the old charismania days, and it occurred to me we have fundamental differences between his take on Scripture and that of mine.

For him, God speaks through Scripture and God speaks also outside of Scripture. This is obfuscating because it is so easy to mistake our own intuition for the voice of God. Not only is it allowed that God speaks outside Scripture, it may, without much thought, even contradict it in some places and situations.

Let me give an example of this principle. One can think of any sense of leading as a leading of God. Another friend of mine when he was flying over Nevada, felt God speaking to him to sell his house and become a missionary there. He did, with much consternation of his wife, moved out of Australia to go to USA. For some reason, this missionary activity fizzled off and he winded up going to some province in the Philippines claiming that God had instead directed him there to do the work of an "evangelist" there. I am heart broken to say that the marriage broke, alienating him from his wife and children. Today my friend from time to time would ask for support for his work, I get text messages to that effect. I confess I do not respond with an encouragement spiritually nor financially. My point is that I do not want to be a party in his reading that my support is an act in line with the desires of God, because honestly, I don't believe he has truly heard Him well.

Funny, but when I was in charismania, I did not detect the subjective and unreliable nature of these seeming voices from God. Today I look un-spiritual and not "spirit filled" to some of my friends, I have become "carnal".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The best I have seen on sola scriptura

This is from Past Elder's Reply here.

I don't think sola scriptura is so much a complex position as it is a phrase used to mean several positions, some of which Lutherans reject and never meant.

Sola scriptura does not mean "only Scripture". It is a type of construction in Latin called an ablative of means, a way to state the means by which an agent does an action. It is translated "by Scripture alone". It does not mean, if you have Scripture you don't need anything else.

It also does not mean. if it ain't in the Bible we ain't doing it. There are those later in the Reformation to whom it does mean that, and many in our time likewise, and we reject that. For example, liturgy. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus set up a liturgy or ask anyone else to do so. That does not mean then that having a liturgy is against the Bible. Liturgy is something the church has adopted and adapted from the synagogue because of its benefit to the good order of the church, and good order in the church is a good reason to do something.

So what we mean is, there are many good reasons for the church doing this and not doing that, and as to those which are not laid out specifically in the Bible, we accept them, we for example again accept liturgy, not rejecting it because it isn't in the Bible, but only that which has crept into it that contradicts the Bible.

You can say then our position is, if it contradicts the Bible we ain't doing it. Something being in the Bible is not the only good reason for doing it, it is rather the only good reason with a divine guarantee. And our other good reasons must not contradict those good reasons that have that divine guarantee of Scripture.

Similarly church. Sola scriptura does not reject church at all, or that church grows and develops. It rejects, rather, those things that have come along with the church's growth and development that contradict what's in the Bible. One such would be some of the Roman church's ideas as to the nature and extent of its authority. And, if these are indeed contrary to Scripture, one does not reject the church, but in fact upholds it, to deny them.

You can say then our position is, the church has said these are the books and no other on which you can rely and on whose truths the church is built, then it quit relying on them and its truths as the norm for all else, and we simply recall the church to fidelity to its own book that it declares faithful to God's truth.

Cultural or Confessional?

There is a difference when one is in a denomination because of birth and one is in a denomination because of a conviction.

It is quite pathetic to encounter cultural Lutherans who have no clue about the principles of the Reformation, the solas,  nor even aware of what the Book of Concord is all about. It is heart breaking to hear of a Lutheran in church leadership express doubts about Scripture or show no familiarity of its contents. It is quite sad, really. It makes you wanna go to another congregation with a different "culture" (pun intended).

It shows Luther to be correct again, he said catechizing is a lifelong activity of the church.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Crazy Love Sermons

Have you ever heard a sermon it was so funny, but instead of laughing, you felt like you should cry?

I have been listening to Pirate Christian Radio. Chris R. featured a sermon - Crazy Love. If there ever was a sermon that made me laugh at the triteness and shallowness of what passes up as a Christian sermon, this takes the bacon. I kept on cracking up, but I was laughing out of amazement of how far this sermon was from the message of Scripture, then I thought to myself; man, this ain't funny, this is the kind of junk food Christians are feeding on Sundays. I felt sorry for those who got taken in by this sermon.

Then I had a look at Google on 'crazy love sermons'. Did you know that there are quite a lot of churches having that as a sermon title? What does this imply? It shows how queer Evangelicalism has become.

So in line with my corniness, here is a song about Crazy Love. Mind you this has more substance than the Crazy Love sermons out there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On its way down.

Evangelicalism, it is on its way down.

I read from Wittenberg Trail that Michael Spencer that he wrote an article for The Christian Science Monitor here. This is an article about the coming collapse of Evangelicalism. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I offer an observation. I think Evangelicalism is on its way down because it has tied itself with the cult of being relevant with culture, mainly pop-culture, which is exported from the U.S.A. Culture does not offer anything that truly injures, some of them are just older than us and we think they would stay for eternity. That is not true. Ask a Classicist.

This is very unfortunate, because when a Christian movement is riding on the shoulder of a country or civilization, it shares the fate of that civilization.

I was in Charismania for 25 years, last time I looked at statistics, outside U.S.A., my country of birth (Philippines - i.e. Filipinas) ranked 3rd in Evangelical saturation with Guatemala being 1st. That was many years ago.

Only in the last 5 years did I realize that the version of Protestantism I was taught was an American version, a version I am quite sure the Reformers would not recognize nor understand. Yet I have observed the instability as far back as 15 years ago. When I was in Charismania, there was always something new and spectacular happening every 2 years.

Ausgburgeans trying to bring Gospel revival to Latin Asian/American countries would need to contend not only with Roman concepts of theology but the Pentecostal concepts as well. Fortunately the two pan out to be the same, they just don't realize the correspondence of beliefs, but they are mappable from one to the other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Excelsis Deo- broccoli version

Dozo! Why not play a tune with your broccoli before you chuck it in the pan?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Obfuscations I

To say that Jesus died for you and at the same time give you the impression that you can do it, you can do good works that merit you righteousness is obfuscation.

When I was an RC kid, I certainly did here that Jesus died for me. Yet I also heard that what appeases God was my doing of penance for the sins I have committed. This became the center of approach. The matter is that I was not being given the impression that I was dead in trespasses and sins and that I could not ever free myself. Rather, I just have to try harder next time and don't be naughty again. Hope for the best, do some novenas, get on with the program.

So I talk to some RC friends who are faithful members of Mother Church and they tell me I was mis-catechized when I was a kid. I got it wrong? What changed, don't they still officially affirm Faith + Works = Justification? Strange, I thought my reading of the Baltimore Catechism (OK I am older than you) was at par, I got confirmed at St. Mary's College so should the nuns there take the blame?

All I could say is, what does a kid gotta do, but get obfuscated? Now it is all my fault.

I also feel amused when I speak to Lutherans about my experience when I was with Mother Church, how back home, you can see the teaching in action, at the ground level. They say "Oh the practice is of no concern, it is the teaching that counts". I get obfuscated by such an attitude. The practice is the teaching! Where else do they get what they practice; and and these practices mind you are quite public and are a part of tradition, see for example this one here.
Christine: You have always been an Augsburgean deep down, I am glad God showed you from Scripture the centrality of the Gospel. You are at home again, where you have always belonged. God keep us all in the most holy faith.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why this blog won't be Issues Etc pick of the month

Because this blog does not have the Issues Etc.  widget displayed. Besides, it is doubtful if my posts cut the grade.

I respect and enjoy Issues Etc., very much. In fact they opened my eyes to Wittenberg. I am truly thankful for their ministry and witness. I was also a supporter until the show was closed early last year. This year, it seems, there is controversy surrounding the name. Apparently the LC-MS is not happy they took the name with them when they were sent away. I even signed the petition for the synod not to continue pursuing this "issue". I continue to listen today.

I have gained so many of you out there as friends and I would be happy to recommend your websites for viewing yet I have no links. Why?

Guilt by association. I might say something in the future that could be embarrassing I do not want that embarrassment to flow on to my friends. That is why I have a disclaimer in my profile:
The views found here are entirely my own and is not necessarily endorsed by my family, my friends nor my church group.
Your friendship is so precious I want to keep you innocent of anything I might say that is out of line with some views. 

In a mysterious round-about way, it is my way of showing love by protecting your reputation. Remember, this is the Internet. Who knows the many weird and wacky people out there that can use the information.

Besides, it would be nice to be picked for the merit of my post independent of my associations or endorsements, correct?