Wednesday, May 27, 2009

God's condescension and perspicuity of Scripture

What I have been saying so far is that God has been kind enough to condescend to me ( human beings) in giving me Scripture. He speaks to me (us) using human language and he employs words that relate to human experience, even my rationality and reasoning, therefore he speaks in a manner I can understand.

Critics think that is puting God under the level of man. I think these people think I am very arrogant to suggest I can understand Scripture...

Well to quote Muhammad Ali... it is hard to be humble, when you are as great as I am. (LOL)

I hope you got a laugh at that.

Unfortunately that misses the point, because it is God who is putting himself, condescending to my level. In fact, I find the thought of God's condescension too marvellous for words. Here is God being kind enough to make me understand him. I do not understand all but I do understand some. He could have left me in the dark, but he did not and to demonstrate that love, he even sent his Son to become man, like me (you) to demonstrate what he is. Topping it all his Son even took my sins. If this condescension does not make you wanna shout, I don't know what will.

So I picked up my copy of J. T. Mueller's Christian Dogmatics who is helpful in in this regard and so on p.138. I quote (with my insertions) ...

When we say that the Holy Scripture is perspicuous, or clear, we mean that it sets forth all doctrines of salvation in words so simple and plain that they can be understood by all persons of average intelligence. The Lutheran dogmatician Baier expresses this thought as follows: "Any man acquainted with the language, possesed of a common judgement, and paying due attention to the words may learn the true sense of the words...and embrace the fundamental doctrines"...
Whoever, therefore, rejects the perspicuity of the Bible (papists, enthusiasts, modern rationalistic theologians) must also reject the basic truth that Scripture is the only principium cognoscendi [principle of knowing...God], thus compelling the Christian believer to base his faith upon the human expositions either of the Church or of the individual Bible scholars.

Keeping in mind the Holy Scripture is a clear book, the Christian exegete must scrupulously refrain from foisting upon its sacred text his own subjective views (eisegesis) and regard it as his sole function to exhibit the true meaning of God's clear Word (exegesis: the leading forth of the sense of Scripture); in other words, he must allow Scripture to interpret itself. Negatively the function of the Christian exegete may be described as the removal of all textual difficulties by proper grammatical instruction and of all misinterpretations by erring expositors; positively, as the exhibition of the true sense of the text in the light of its context and parallel passages.

Hence a true Christian exegete must possess the following qualifications:
a.) He must regard the whole Bible as the inerrant Word of God;
b.) He must treat Holy Scripture as a book which is clear in itself;
c.) He must conscientiously point out the real sense of the text;
d.) He must be able to refute the erroneous human opinions which false teachers or misguided orthodox theologians have foisted upon the text.

The last bit is classic.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The only wise alternative

Over on the discussion of 24 and the discussion on the inerrant Bible, it occured to me that some folk do not think that their Christian faith will crumble in places where the Bible might be wrong.

Over and over I heard and was told - this and that are not essential to the faith.

I would say they have a strong system of belief and may be wider on the base...

Now, the Scripture says that Jesus rose from the dead.

My question is, if the Bible could have been wrong in some part of it, how could it not be wrong on this part - Jesus' rising from the dead? If it were possible for Scripture to be wrong in spot X, could it not be wrong in spot Y? What special pleading should one give to it?

Just remember today it is Scripture that testifies of Christ's rising from the dead. We do not have the apostles with us, only what they wrote and claim to have seen and declared.

I cannot be satisfied with the idea of the NT scholar Bultmann who saw Scripture as myth but existentially says that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead, in the sense that he rises in people's heart, that is where he rises. I think Bultmann still considered himself to be a Christian because of this.

Unlike my interlocutors, my Christian faith will crumble if Jesus did not rise from the dead as the Scripture testifies. Unlike them, I cannot allow Scripture in to be wrong in one place but right on this one. For me, if Scripture was wrong at one point, how could it be right on another? Its reliability as the Word of God or Word from God to me is in question. It just does not make it reliable and must be un-inspired. It is just like saying, God nevertheless inspires what is a lie or falsehood. If so, then why can he not let you find Christ by reading Aesop's Fables, anyway he can use imperfect means to work through perfectly, correct?


Unfortunately my Christian faith will go down to the dogs. In fact if Scripture is wrong in one place, it could be wrong here, and guess what is the other alternative...?

IMHO Atheism, that is the only logical and wise alternative.

One thing for sure, it seems, my sparring partners and I do not have the same idea of what it means to have a Means of Grace.

Friday, May 22, 2009


There is a name in the maths and physics world that is so famous and so honored, that is the name of Leonhard Euler

For some reason in the maths world, it is common practice to name formulas, constants, theorems etc. after him, even though he had no direct involvement in them. However, he did discover quite a good number of them though.

There are a few interesting things about Euler that is relevant to the posts in this blog.

For one thing, he was a believer. He also believed in Biblical inerrancy and engaged in apologetics.

Now it is not known whether or not he was Reformed or was a Lutheran. Assuming he was Reformed and not Lutheran, just to show how he is respected, even the Lutheran Church has a date when they celebrate him. He is listed in their calendar of saints. His day is 24 May.

What can we conclude? If Euler was Reformed, then he would be one of the few people that Lutherans honor from that camp. That is not a small thing, that is saying a lot if you know what I mean!

Lastly, Euler in the course of his life became blind some 15+ years before his death. Yet, even at that, he continued to do his work.

So, what is my excuse? What is yours?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Godel has to say in all of this

My last recent posts on 24 have attracted some form of controversy. So what else is new?

On thing emerges in the heated discussions, and that is, the role of science in reading the Bible. It boils down to authority and which one has priority. Does one give authority to the language of the Bible, or does one give authority to scientific empirical pronouncements? To whichever we give priority, that one therefore has authority. The two are connected.

There is also a corollary point that has been missed in the discussions, and that people are not aware of the philosophical critiques that philosophers have been making against science (falsely so called). If people only knew, they would not trust so much in it.

So, I turn to my patron (whose picture you see in my profile) - Godel and try to find out what he thought about science and scientific pronouncements....

Here is what he said:

  1. I do not believe in (natural) science.
  2. I don’t think the brain came in the Darwinian manner. In fact, it is disprovable. Simple mechanism can’t yield the brain. I think the basic elements of the universe are simple. Life force is a primitive element of the universe and it obeys certain laws of action. These laws are not simple, and they are not mechanical.

In both counts, my bias says Godel was correct, most specially in #1. The wise scientist should be the first to admit the limitations of his craft.

Besides, we are not allowed to believe in anything and in anyone, John 11:25-26.

Friday, May 15, 2009

On Inerrancy

This is a guest post by A.S. Of course, it is here for your comments and discussion.

The "attack" on the biblical doctrine of inerrancy is inextricably linked to the biblical doctrine of inspiration. Inspiration as "theopneustos", i.e. properly and authentically understood as the DIVINE union between "form" and "content", "medium" and "concept" is necessary to safeguard the OBJECTIVITY of the TRUTH of Holy Scripture.

Denial of inerrancy IS a result of the SUBJECTIVE approach to the Word of God. The hermeneutical model in this case is that of the SINNER standing over the Word of God as the interpreter, and hence he assumes and remains in the position of "subject". The proper hermeneutical model is that of the Word of God standing over the sinner as the interpreter. In other words, we are the object to be "interpreted" by the Word of God as the subject.

In this role reversal, two implications emerges:

1. The *words* themselves as bearers of the divine revelation is the LITERAL truth, in contrast to functioning as signs only. The "vis significandi" (mode of signification) is the "res" (reality) itself. Thus, the meaning of sola Scriptura is precisely the self-sufficiency of the EXTERNAL Word. The movement here is an incarnated top-to-bottom pattern, consistent with the formal claim that the Holy Scripture is the Word of GOD.

2. "Faith comes by hearing the Word of God". Faith is not external to the Word of God, i.e. apart from the Word of God. But faith is CREATED by the Word of God. Inerrancy is a faith claim, made on the basis of the witness and testimony of the Holy Scripture itself. As such, it (i.e. inerrancy) can only be grasped by faith alone (sola fide). By extension, the infallibility (authority) and efficacy (power) of the Holy Scripture are grasped by faith alone. The Word as the legal authority (Scripture alone) constitutes the co-relate of the Word as the evangelical power (faith alone). That is to say, faith is not a "discrete" entity consequent on "understanding" as an evaluative tool. Faith is not a posteriori (subsequent) to nor identical with an explicit analytic conclusion. It is an impossible scenario because of the "bondage of the will". But faith is simply the implicit synthetic presupposition to the Word of God. That is to say, faith means being "reclaimed" by the Word of God itself, according to *its* own judgment (spiritual-deductive method), and not vice-versa, i.e. faith means "reclaiming" the Word of God according to its own judgment (empirical-inductive method). Ultimately, our faith is not dependent on our understanding. But our understanding is dependent on our faith which comes extra nos --- an alien faith as a total gift = alien righteousness. Faith and understanding are simultaneous, not sequential. faith IMPLIES understanding. And faith as a total gift co-exists (simultaneously) with unbelief as a total condition: simul iustus et peccator. There is no middle ground approach to Scripture. Our bondage to sin simply and by default disallows a neutral approach. Both the regenerate and unregenerate encounter Scripture either in a mode of belief or unbelief.

If one wishes to speak of movement, then the movement is not the progression of understanding towards faith, but the progression of faith towards understanding.

"Credo ut intelligam".

Seen from this perspective, denial of inerrancy is simply the denial that Holy Scripture IS the Word of God. Instead, Holy Scripture becomes the means by which we *respond* to God's "self-disclosure" in the course of the divine-human encounter - the movement here reverses the pattern of Divine Revelation and Incarnation, i.e. it is bottom-up, a spiritual ascent according a "ladder scheme". But this produces only subjectivism, i.e. the individual-mystic type or communal-academic type, etc.

Ultimately, scholarly consensus (e.g. science), ecclesial tradition (e.g. magisterium), is elevated into a plus sign alongside Holy Scripture. Denial of inerrancy, to be precise, is a denial that the Word of God is the self-sufficient source of truth.

In short, the denial of inerrancy is BOTH a denial (incipient or full-blown) of sola Scriptura and sola fide.
11:57 PM

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Augustinian Successor mentioned in one of his comments about Antinomians.

A few years ago, I read of a confessional pastor spoke of how he normally behaves when he is in a gathering where some Babtists[my sic] and non-denom ministers are around.

He said he would purposely drink liquor in front of them.

Now we all know they do not drink, don't smoke, don't cuss, don't go to movies and just all day listen to Christian radio and watch Christian TV, their friends are Christians and their barbers are Christians and even their pets are Christians too.

Please note, now that I know what Pietism is, it really sucks. No kidding, it makes people Pharisees.

However Rom 14:21 came to mind while I was reading this guy's "testimony".

I thought his comment to be asinine.

Then I am reminded of the T-Shirt with the words "weak on sanctification".

Hang on, there seems to be a reversal here. What duh?

I thought that repentance's fruit is being so sorry you are a sinner I thought it should produce shame rather than pride.

That T-shirt seems to say "shame on you Pietists, Pharisees, hypocrites, look at me, I am such a lousy no good sinner, ... and I am proud of it too".

Antinomians suck too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who is your grand daddy?

UPDATE: Issues Etc has a topic for this here.


That was our grand daddy some 230m+ years ago.

It so happen I went to the museum yesterday.

I happened to chance upon the skeleton of Inostrancevia.

There was some printed blurb about this creature... what struck me was this portion in of what our museum says about this mammal-like reptile. Printed at the bottom of the platform where the skeleton is displayed, it spoke about its behaviour and so forth, then we get into this part...

"these mammal like reptiles eventually led to modern mammals including humans".[Italics mine]

So, I wonder what some of you think of this statement.

If I take this seriously, my ancestors used to lay eggs..., and that goes for yours too!

If you find no problem with this statement, then it is either I do not know how to read Gen 2:7, or I completely missed the poetic meaning of what our museum just said.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

24 and Scientific Reading

UPDATE: Issues Etc has a topic for this here.
Apparently my 24 day reading is a scientific reading of Genesis 1-3.

I find the accusation astounding. Suddenly semantic reading is being scientific. I think there is confusion of categories here. Semantic reading is the proper respect for the ideas that the language conveys. Whether science agrees with it or not, it is irrelevant.

So the ancient Jews and Christians who believed a 24 hour day in Genesis 1-3 are now being scientific? Or were they simply respecting what the text says?

The nice thing about having no commitment on the 24 hour day is that one does not have to be embarrassed amongst scientists who believe the earth is absolutely ancient. You can claim, Genesis does not claim what it claims if you use common sense. It is not a scientific book anyway. Amazing, for an unscientific book, it can be made to certainly accomodate old earth theory, even the theory of Evolution!!!

So the Bible is a non scientific book which happens to agree with science, eyh?
Can you see the equivocation there?

The thing with science and scientists is that they modify their theories at the speed of light. I am not being sarcastic, I worked with high energy physicists and each time protons collide, right there is a new theory about matter and how it came about.

There is another point, when do these non-24 hour believers discover
a.) there are physicists who laugh at big bangb.) there are biologists who reject evolution
so what now if these groups become in vogue?

Well the non-24 hour folk are in a convenient place, since they never committed, they can swing anywhere the flow turns.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Pacman fiesta tonight

This has been a good day for Manny "the pacman" Pacquiao.

Read about it here.

My friends and I were a bit stunned and awed, we thought Ricky "the hitman" Hutton would make life difficult for the pacman, but the fight was over in 2 rounds.

Today, the pacman collected his 6th belt.

Before the start of the fight, the atmosphere was more like what you will find in soccer than what you will find in a boxing match. We watched through our FoxTel and it seemed the pacman supporters and that of the hitman wanted to out do each other with their flag waving and shouting.

Guarding the pacman's corner was another Filipino-blood athlete - the wrestler, Dave "the animal" Batista.

I am just worried for the pacman's future. I hope we Filipinos don't ruin his life by... electing him as the next President of the Republic....

Saturday, May 02, 2009

24 and Perspicuity

Comments from the previous post (and I thank the brothers for your participation) make me think we need to discuss this a bit more.

I think it was Luther who said, you may get all parts of Christian Theology wrong, but if you do not get the Gospel, you are dead meat.

It is true, the Gospel is that one central doctrine that we should get right, and get it out to people.

But, does that mean, if we get the Gospel right, we can now afford to get the other things wrong? For example, can you now disbelieve the doctrine of the Trinity? Is it now optional, anyway you believe the Gospel? Same thing is true with doctrine of Creation, can you now plead ignorance on this?

I seem to think that folk are using the Luther quote to mean, all the rest are optional.

Such an attitude, I believe, makes justification by faith, a form of works.

Getting the Gospel right, does not mean, you can now get the others wrong. Why? Because the Gospel is standing on a foundation, it is a truth, that is founded on another truth. If it is Good News, there must have been a Bad News, for what is so Good about the Gospel after all? Why is it Good News.

The Bad News, goes back to Creation, at the word go, not very long, we mucked things up, the good things God did, we screwed up so Genesis 1 - 3 says. I am saying that if you get the Bad News wrong, you will make the Good News shaky.

So here is the point, the Bad News of our sin in Genesis 1-3 requires we take sin there literally. So if you take sin there literally but you are affording to take some things there non-literally, like the word "day", what is your criteria for picking and choosing?

Perhaps would you not say, that the "tree of knowledge" may just be symbolic, i.e., no literal tree? Perhaps there was no fruit at all, perhaps these are just projections of our inner bent qualities that Moses projected backwards to Creation, and it is just a statement of what is, is...?

Perhaps, Moses was just trying to explain how we are bad, but that was just Moses' theory of our human psychology in the end, who knows. An attempt to give reason to what is just reality, but the reason is not factual?

Perspicuity of Scripture means that the "Scripture is plain". It can be understood, some parts are difficult to understand, true, yet, people equivocate here. From Scripture being difficult to understand in some parts, to --- sliding down to --- Scripture not understandable at all.

Experiment. Take the "days" in Genesis 1-3 as non-literal days - tell that to a 5 year old kid. Read it to him. Continue reading, and most specially, while catechizing him(her), you need to discuss the 10 Commandments anyway. So jump sometime to Exodus 20. What will you say when you get to Ex 20:11 if you be honest and be consistent?

It does not work, I suggest you will wind up confusing the person you are catechizing. What we confess to people is not always verbal, what we confess is also gathered by our attitude towards some things, is that not correct? And what is that attitude, effectively, you will be saying? The Scripture is not plain.

Survey says Augsburgeans rank down the bottom when it comes to the practice of bible reading. This is sad, because for a denomination who rallied the slogan "sola scriptura", it is an aweful testimony, it makes us look hypocritical.

However, if right at the word go, they are already told, Scripture there in Genesis 1-3 is a bit obscure, do not take them plainly as what it says, can you blame them for not even attempting to make Bible read ing a devotional practice?

As they say here ... it is your own bl..dy fault.

Let me be clear, I do not believe in 24 hour creation because of this, as I said, I believe in it due to my own linguistic and philosophical analysis. What I am saying, now that I rejected my former belief of a non-24 hour period, is that it so happens that the 24 hour interpretation has a nice side effect, it promotes the perspicuity of Scripture, too. A good thing because it gives people confidence, that the Scripture is plain.