Wednesday, May 26, 2010


My friend Noel of Port Hueneme, CA wrote to me of the passing away of his great dog, Polo.

He had Polo for many years and Noel being single, had Polo looking after his apartment. The missus and I met this dog when we visited Noel in 2005. For an Australian Shepherd dog, he was quite big for his size. One thing I appreciate in Australia is that Australian dogs are smart. Polo was smart and well trained. I remember Polo holding his water until he was allowed to get out of the apartment. Luckily for Noel, he got a Labrador called Petra a year before Polo passed away.

I have not bothered having a dog since I lost my last one - P.D. in 1998. He was a kelpie-cross, a mongrel for sure, but he was smart and he would learn new tricks and commands simply by association or instinct. The kids and I remember a lot of times we had with P.D., the many times he made us laugh.

Anyway, this is to honor Polo, a faithful friend and a blessing to Noel. Polo was simply a great human being.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It is official, the journey is over, for now.

It is now official. I am now a certified quack doctor, too LOL. I wrote about this project here.

They graduated me last night.

I read somewhere that anyone who specializes in pure maths must be a little loco or winds up that way. I knew there was something wrong with me when I accepter my Uni's scholarship 7 years ago.
The trip has not been easy. There were several moments when I felt very close to aborting the project. Also, I do not know why, but looks like whatever I write attracts controversy. What can I says, such is (my) life, to quote Ned Kelley.

Last year my Prof and I wrote a paper based on my research. We submitted it to 3 international conferences. All the blind reviewers rejected the paper. They did not understand it. Then we submitted it to another international conference which turned out (we did not know at that time) to have a much lower pass rate. The reviewers were a lot more stringent. Not only did they pass our paper, they even gave it the Best Paper Award.

The same happened when examiners examined my thesis. One wanted it resubmitted, the other one loved it and wanted it passed with his suggestions. This needed a third opinion, an adjudicator had to be consulted to resolve the dead lock. They got a heavy duty professor from Cornell University to re-examine the thesis. I had to write a defense. He came back passing the thesis without any modifications required. He also somewhat chided the negative examiner for his opposition and also the positive one, for his suggestions. The professor believe the thesis should have been judged on its own merits and not what people might do had they been writing the (my) thesis.

Well that is what happens in academia. Some might find your work an absolute junk or the greatest thing since slice bread.

I thank the Lord it is over and for his answering the prayers of those who prayed with and for me. Thank you to those of you who prayed.

My soul blesses the Lord.

I end with the motto of my uni : ancora imparo, I am still learning.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Does it have to be bad, because I am no good?

Theologians consume words. They are the building blocks of theology. I am no theologian, I do however listen to them and I read what they write. I consider pastors to be professional theologians.

Often I hear some pastors describe the Gospel as "trumping" the Law. Now, I think I know what they are saying, they are implying that mercy triumphs over judgment. Put it this way, let us say they are possibly implying that.

However, trumping sometimes carries the notion of trashing or overriding and a layman might get the impression that the Law is a bad thing, something that must be despised, rejected. When that happens, one has become an antinomian.

Hmmm. Is something bad because it makes me feel no good? How can an evil thing condemn another evil thing?

Reading St. Paul's letters, I could not say that he ever ones hinted that the Law is bad thing. His words do not go there. Read Rom 7:7, 12.

It does not serve well if one gives the impression that since the Gospel has come, the Law must be condemned. Rather St. Paul speaks of sin that is to be condemned, not the Law. St. Paul repeatedly said that the Law is good.

For sure, I am condemned by the Law, but though it condemns me, it is a very very good thing for it makes me run to the Gospel such that Christ might shelter me, cover me with his righteousness and shield me.

So does it have to be bad, because I am no good? Nope.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Godel - yours truly, your hero

The missus keeps reminding me that people with a sense of humor are smart people.

Thanks to Pr. Greg for this.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Some tips on Scholarship I

I may not be an ordained minister today, but I was before. Also, I had university training, a so called graduate degree in Religious Studies where I studied the original Biblical languages - both classical and Koine NT Greek, Biblical Hebrew and Early Judaism. For my Ancient Greek training, I am proud to say I studied under this professor here.

Below are a few things I learned from my studying, not in seminary, but in a university:

  1. You must never plagiarize, instead give credits for your quotes.
  2. You must go to the source documents, eliminate hearsay.
  3. You must listen/read your critics or those that have views contrary to yours.
  4. You must practice critical thinking.
  5. You must spot logical fallacies in yourself so as to correct them, and spot fallacies in others so as not to be lured by them.
This is just a nutshell list. If you have some suggestions to add let me know.

It is my hope that the readers find the above points something they can use in evaluating the merits of the arguments found in the posts and comments in this blog.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Using Chemnitz to help doubting Christians

HT: Ichabod here.

"We must note the foundations. For we are justified by faith, not because it is so firm, robust, and perfect a virtue, but because of the object on which it lays hold, namely Christ, who is the Mediator in the promise of grace. Therefore when faith does not err in its object, but lays hold on that true object, although with a weak faith, or at least tries and wants to lay hold on Christ, then there is true faith, and it justifies. The reason for this is demonstrated in those lovely statements in Philippians 3:12: 'I apprehend, or rather I am apprehended by Christ' and Galatians 4:9: 'You have known God, or rather have been known by God.' Scripture shows a beautiful example of this in Mark 9:24: 'I believe; help my unbelief.'" Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 503. Philippians 3:12; Galatians 4:9; Mark 9:24
"Therefore God, 'who is rich in mercy' [Ephesians 2:4], has had mercy upon us and has set forth a propitiation through faith in the blood of Christ, and those who flee as suppliants to this throne of grace He absolves from the comprehensive sentence of condemnation, and by the imputation of the righteousness of His Son, which they grasp in faith, He pronounces them righteous, receives them into grace, and adjudges them to be heirs of eternal life. This is certainly the judicial meaning of the word 'justification,' in almost the same way that a guilty man who has been sentenced before the bar of justice is acquitted." Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 482. Ephesians 2:4
"For we are not justified because of our faith (propter fidem), in the sense of faith being a virtue or good work on our part. Thuse we pray, as did the man in Mark 9:24: 'I believe, Lord; help my unbelief'; and with the apostles: 'Lord, increase our faith,' Luke 17:5." Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 506 Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5
We need to say something.

Notice what Chemnitz is doing here. He sets forth why faith justifies. What is it about Christ that we are to trust about, that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the one who is holding on to Christ as propitiator through his death at the Cross. Notice too what Chemnitz did not do that Walther and Pieper did. Chemnitz did not say - you are saved to believe (contra Walther). Nor did he say (contra Pieper) - "I would eliminate faith as a requirement that makes justification true. That would be making faith a work of mine".

None of these.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Not just a war on words

Brett Meyer:

Luther's Works 33, 25.
"If I were to strangle someone's father and mother, wife and child, and try to choke him too, and then say 'Keep the peace, dear friend, we wish to love one another, the matter is not so important that we should be divided over it,' what would he say to me? This is what the fanatics do to Christ, the Lord, and God, the Father, and to mother church and the brethren with their rejection of God's Word while at the same time claiming it for themselves."