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.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Same same but different

My youngest daughter one time went for a holiday in Thailand. When you see her, she is what we call in our language morena, she is a bit tanned and brown. The Thais discovering that she was a foreigner would ask about her nationality and she would reply - Filipina. She said they often responded by saying "same same, but different no"? Meaning, "we are similar racially but different in small respects".

This reminded me of what Steve M of The Old Adam Lives posted on how outsiders view Lutherites.

Evangelicals indeed will find Lutherdudes a "bit religious" for their taste. Considering those rituals, liturgy and stuff, they might even conclude in their ignorance that the Lutherdudes are RCs.

No, not so. So if any non-Lutheran is reading this and having that impression, let me explain by quoting here my comments to Steve M's post.

The problem with people observing Lutherans is that they hear the same words we speak and think we mean the same things as the RCs.


We sound and look the same as the RC but we do not mean the same things when we use the same words. We just look the same, but we are not the same.

We are not the same because we do not mean the same things when we use the words found in our liturgy. The words strike the Lutheran differently when they hit the Lutheran’s ears.

The difference is that those words in the liturgy are wrapped up or are interpreted by the central tenet of Biblical Christianity: justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Our liturgy uses the same words but the words mean different things, so" same same but different".