Friday, February 24, 2012

Too much to bear when you bare too much

You need to have crocodile skin when you get involved with controversial issues. When you place your bet and let the chips fall where they may, there are some consequences. For example, you need to accept that other party will call you names, you will be shunned, you will be misrepresented and most likely you will be alone when you bare yourself, when you let people know where you stand with regards to a controversial issue. Some cost accounting need to happen before you sign your name. That goes with the territory, so you must cultivate a thick hide and comfort yourself with the Scriptures.

I think Hermann Sasse typifies this himself in The Lonely Way.

For some this is way too much to bear specially when family and perhaps income are involved. I do not know how that is solved, there is likely no solution to this dilemma. This we come to realize is not for everyone. For some this is too much pressure to hold, there are other lives involved and these lives have for example, social and economical needs.

However, one must also realize that a doctrine which we may oppose does not float out there in thin air, but the doctrine lives inside the hearts and minds of people. Such people may not fight clean but rather fight your position subtly. You may not know but I have 25+ years of experience in the computing industry and I have learned a very important lesson early in my career: Any technical problem can be solved politically.

By analogy, any theological problem can be solved politically too.

We can not be naive, if our opponent knows well he can not rebut the solid position we hold, he might try to go political on us and thereby undermine in reality the testimony we hold.

Either he tries to intimidate you politically and usually that does not work or he can try to sweeten you up politically too, like flatter you and thereby glory in you.

Psalm 62: 4They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Romans 4:25 UOJ Fallacies

Yet Scripture teaches only one justification; namely, the one by faith in Christ, Romans 3:28. (Walter A. Maier II, A Summary Exposition of The Doctrine of Justification By Grace
Through Faith)

UOJ stands for Universal Objective Justification which teaches that there are two justifications. The first one is called objective justification, the one (so they say) was when Jesus was raised from the dead, God (according to LC-MS/WELS/ELS, American Synods) in Christ has declared the whole world already righteous. This has already passed and for all people. The other one is called subjective, this will come about when you believe what the first one says about you.

Make no mistake, they do not mean the object of your faith should be the Atonement, not that; they want you to believe the one past that, when (according to UOJers) God has declared you righteous/forgiven already. It has already passed and you believe that (so they say) past declaration that happened before you were born.

I asked one UOJ pastor the following and you will find the conversation here.

Me: Atonement you said in the previous comments that it is the object of faith.(sic)(?)

Response: I did not say that. I have always spoken of God's forgiveness, through and on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ, as the object of faith.

In my early years, I thought it was the Atonement that they meant and I thought it was a labeling mistake, I bought into UOJ before, until I looked deeper.

This is the reason why they won't buy the suggestion to rename OJ to OA, Objective Atonement, or OP, Objective Propitiation. Why not? It is because that is not what they believe! Atonement is not their object of faith, this is contrary to Romans 3:25, where Jesus as Propitiation is the object of faith in that verse. In fact one can say the object of faith in UOJ is not the person or work of Jesus but the justification that has already happened to you in the past when Jesus was raised from the dead.

Where did this idea of come from. Many verses have been alluded too but the famous one is their interpretation of Romans 4:25. According to LC-MS teaching (and the others like WELS/ELS etc.) the "our" mentioned in Romans 4:25 refers to "us human beings in general". You can find this in LC-MS Brief Statement 1932, Article 17b. This verse is extracted from Romans 4:24 and completely isolates it from its context as well as disrespects the nature of St. Paul' rhetorical expression of this verse. Indeed, this is where the LC-MS/WELS/ELS are isolated and cut off from the rest of the Protestant world because if you look at the way independent exegetes and even some Lutheran NT scholars interpret this (non LC-MS/WELS/ELS), there is no way you can responsibly take "our" as the whole unbelieving world. Indeed their interpretation of this verse is truly novel and unique, it stands alone in the Protestant world!

You do not need to be knowledgeable of the Greek to ascertain this. You just need to respect the overall context, "our" refers to believers and the verse is a rhetorical verse.

The first fallacy they claim is this - they say you have to believe in Limited Atonement if you do not accept their interpretation.

This is a non-sequitur bull. The other is that it is the fallacy of tertium non datur; it thinks there is no third possibility. This is a fallacy because there are other Scriptures that teach of Jesus' Atonement as for all people, for example, 1 John 2:1-2, John 3:16 etc., yet justification is not universal but only happens to those who receive by faith in that Propitiation (see again Romans 3:25).

Their (UOJer's) interpretation of Romans 4:25 is "quasi-universalistic" or "crypto-universalistic".

They do not want me to quote to them R. C. H. Lenski because they already branded and gave him a black propaganda, even though Evangelical scholars respect him! Remember what St. Paul said about Elders? He said that they should be respected by outsiders or have a good reputation from outsiders. Apparently this is not valued by UOJers despite the fact that Lenski fits what St. Paul required, to be respected by those outside one's sphere of influence. So I will quote another Lutheran, Peter Stuhlmacher, (Paul's Letter to the Romans, a Commentary, p. 75), on this verse:

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"(Romans 3:21) until the final judgement (Romans 8:33f).

The other fallacy that UOJers commit is to claim that - well if you believe that interpretation then you will have faith in your faith.

This is another fallacy which is called "post hoc ergo propter hoc".

I can not begin to unravel this fallacy, there is so much I could say.

Notice that the objections by UOJers stem not from what the Scripture says, they are not exegetical objections, they are rationalistic objections. The line goes "if you believe that, then you should believe this" etc. This fallacy is easy to spot if you step back for a moment and analyse the objection, the objection does not stem from the text of Scripture, it stems from not believing this or that. The objection is strewn into a straw man argument already and so if you get sucked in such reasoning, the conclusion is already drawn for you. You just have to slot in their paradigm that is why people will not release easily their crutch on UOJ. It is addicting.

We are to believe what Scripture says not believe what we want to believe. In the case of UOJ on this verse, the belief is already determined and so the verse is just coerced to fit that belief. Is this honest or right handling of Scripture?

The unfortunate and nasty thing about UOJers is that they are quick to label as "heretics" those who oppose or are skeptic of their views. Now how many times have I been called that? Take a good look at the exegesis of well known exegetes of the past on this verse. Go to Sanday and Headlam's, or C. K. Barrett's exegetical work. They all agree with Lenski and Stuhlmacher. I will even later go to a theological library and get C. E. B. Cranfield's work and check his take on this. The Book of Proverbs says that in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

The name calling tactic has been employed before by the arch UOJ promoter C. F. W. Walther. UOJers are like their father in the faith. He was cultic and branded those who opposed his cultic ideas as "heretics" so, it is not surprising to see his UOJ followers to be cultic too (if you asked me).

Remember, ex falso quod libet, from what is false, you can deduce anything. UOJ is filled with fallacy and from a falsehood, you can prove anything. That is not a strength, it is a weakness that should be rejected.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Falsifiability, is that important to you?

Over at Steadfast Lutherans (Waltherians IMHO) yours truly got banned from commenting further. The discussion revolved around the question whether or not Robert Preus rejected Universal Objective Justification(UOJ) in his later days. The question also involved Robert Preus' book Justification and Rome, his last work. You should get a copy of this book, it is a great book on Justification By Faith Alone (JBFA). I read about it at Ichabod's. My copy is in my library and is dirtied with notes and annotations. I do not keep my book clean, my loved books are dirtied (FYI).

Some people and the descendants of Robert Preus themselves claim that Preus never departed from UOJ.

Now to recap, UOJ teaches that your object of faith is should not be in the Atonement, but the forgiveness/justification (declaration of righteousness) that has already happened to ALL people and in the past when Jesus died on the Cross/Rose Again. Key passage here, so they say is Romans 4:25.

If Preus wanted to teach the most important concept that distinguishes Lutheranism from Romanism which is UOJ then in that book, Preus did a botched job in telling that. If we are to believe that he wanted people to learn UOJ from that book, he did a lousy job of doing that. If he wanted to be clear on UOJ he failed miserably in conveying that. If that is a book that will sell UOJ, you won't buy it based on that book. Instead, I walked away thoroughly enjoying JBFA, not UOJ.

At the Steadfast Waltherian blog I referred to earlier, Dr. Dan Gard, a professor at an LC-MS seminary made this claim: To state it once again: Dr. Robert Preus never changed his doctrinal position on Objective Justification.

Critical thinking suggests that when a claim is made, we must have some reasonable method of testing or verifying a claim. Falsifiabilty asks the question, do I have a method of obtaining evidence that proves this claim is false. I wrote about this topic in the area of testing the claims of evolution. This is where falsifiability comes in. Falsifiability is required if we are to accept a claim as valid and admit the claim as fact. To illustrate, I can claim that Jesus speaks to me each night and one night Jesus told me that UOJ is false. Now, how do you falsify that?

You can't. For in order to prove what I am saying is false, Jesus should come to you and deny my claim. Another, you have to be with me each night and observe if Jesus does show up but what if I meant he speaks to me in my mind, how do you verify that? You can't.

In that blog at Steadfast (so called), I asked a question to Prof. Gard, how does one go about proving his claim, apart from simply taking his word for it and basing it on his truthful character?

Apparently I was out of line in my questioning and so got banned by the moderator. The moderator stepped in and it was implied I was being sophomoric and out of line.

Do you think my question was out of line? Was I being sophomoric?

I thought my question was fair.

Over here we are constantly informed of university public lecturers. It is a great occasion whenever it happens. By public it means anyone can come and can asks questions after the lecture and yes usually well researched and titled people are the ones that give the lecture. However, in here no one is held sacred, not even if you are an old professor. That last 15 minutes for Q & A is what people wait for. In other words, the lecturer does not take your questions personally. It is a matter of facts, not a matter of persons. The reason is that by lecturing, the lecturer is asking the people to believe something and it stands to reason that if you are asking such a tall order, you can not run away from questions. For if you do, the public will simply think you are not a person that should be taken seriously, and that is the end of your future public lectures.
Response from (emphasis mine)

Blogger Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Mr Cruz, I don't think that your arguments were out of line, they were well within usual "robust" academic standards. It is simply that the LCMS don't like to have pointed out they and the rest of North American Lutheranism has made a sectarian deviation from orthodox Lutheranism. Why not stick to separate concepts of Atonement and Justification by Faith without the Jesuitry of Objective and Subjective Justification?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

She submitted, whew, finally.

My missus finally submitted her doctoral dissertation yesterday for examination. Her thesis is on world views and how it functions in the life of a school teacher. She also wrote plenty of papers on colonialism and its effect on childhood education. It was an 8 year project. In the last two years we practically did not have any weekends. On weekends, I would go with her to the university so she could write and I could be with her. I did not like to be separated from her so it was a torturous experience, like being chained. So I hang around do my work in her office. I had to do it otherwise I won't see her on weekends. She is a Research Fellow at Melbourne Uni, my university's nemesis in Melbourne. They got more money than Monash Uni. They have really nice offices for their staff and new buildings. That is why they are the premier uni in Oz. So if someone wants an academic career when they graduate they should go to Melbourne Uni. If you want an industrial career, hehehe, come to mine.

BTW, Melbourne Uni has plenty of American students too. They have a nice tradition of giving you a balloon when you submit your dissertation. Now we have to wait 4 months for the examiners to report their findings. I am still processing this as to what this means, no more agony of thesis writing. What do we do now on weekends?

Australia is an amazing country. Where will you find a country who will encourage its people to do a PhD and pay them for doing it? I paid zero dollars for mine, but instead they paid me roughly $20,000 a year, tax free for 3.5 years. After that you are on your own but having lapsed, that still entitles you to graduate. On top of that they give you office space so you can study privately and computers, books and money for going to conferences. They did not even charge me amenities fees. None. I just had to show up and study. How amazing is that?!!

Where will you get a deal like that? Today, I still could not believe I got mine for free.