Monday, January 21, 2013

Faith alone justifies

I am very much impressed with the scholarship shown by Rev. Paul Rydecki.

In case you have not realised yet, Pr. Rydecki started a blog of his own and he entitled his blog
Faith Alone Justifies. Click on the link to be directed there.

I have read some of Pr. Paul's expositions and how he handles the Biblical text. He is brutally honest and that what makes an exegete competent in his work. A quick survey of what Lutheran pastors and theologians are doing in the Anglo world will reveal that majority of them are into Historic Theology followed by few who are into Systematic Theology. You can count with your fingers the Lutheran scholars and pastors that are into Exegetical Theology and that is a shame.

These disciplines have their place but a church body that have no focus in Exegetical Theology becomes weak and will not be able to jump in to resolving controversies.

This is the reason why UOJ gained further ground in the Western Lutheran churches; the Lutherans there have thought that all exegetical issues are now moot and void, since C. F. W. Walther has spoken. So what is happening today? Well we have what might be called theology by proxy. What I mean is that they do not do the hard work of going deeper in interpreting the Biblical text, what they do is just find out what so called authority said on a topic and by default they adopt the pontifications of that so called "accepted authority". It is a type of Romanism in a small scale. So the Lutherans pick their own little pope like Walther and find out what he said and then settle the question based on that.

This is so far from what Luther did. Indeed scholars I read say that one of the many contributions of Luther was the use of the grammatico-historical method of finding out what the text of Scriptures say. In other words, putting the text into its context and drawing out the meaning of the text based on that.

This is one of the reasons that the Synodic Lutheran is thrown to and fro by any wind of doctrine that comes along, Eph 4:14. They have done their theology by proxy rather than doing it on their own. You do not need to be a Greek expert to handle the Scripture, you just need a faithful translation.

Going back to Pr. Rydecki's work, I find it a joy to read his expositions and translations. This is my opinion: between the work of Dr. Jack Kilcrease (who admits that UOJ practices equivocation) and Rev. Paul Rydecki, the latter exhibits sound and trustworthy scholarship in my book. So I would go to Rev. Rydecki's insights all the time and pray God keeps him trustworthy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Will the real oddball please stand up?

I, along with Dr. Jackson, the Ichabod, have been called an oddball by a Lutheran Internet blogger. The actual quote by Martin Yee can be found here, at Beggars All Reformation run by a good Internet acquaintance, James Swan.

No one calls you an oddball unless the person is opposed to what you stand for and since I am known as an anti-UOJ, I can only assume that the gentleman who called me by that label must be pro-UOJ. I am not deluded in thinking I am well liked by people, I am not. Now,  I have been to his blog and I could not detect if he has his own articulation of UOJ since most of his posts are bits and pieces of items normally from various authors, i.e., theologians or scholars, and since he recommended to James Swan to read Marquart on UOJ, I can safely assume Yee accepts the authority of the UOJ masters.

So let me consider some of the creative ways UOJers are using Scripture to promote the idea that all have already been justified, declared righteous and hence, forgiven automatically at the Cross.

The first attempt was in Romans 4:25. In this post I have outline why their favorite verse does not teach their theory but rather that if an individual swallows such interpretation, he/she must swallow other inconsistencies against Scripture. Indeed, this is where the Synodic Lutherans of USA are quite peculiar to the rest of the Lutheran world. In fact, they are peculiar also to the rest of the Protestant world.  Only the subscribers to UOJ take Romans 4:25 to mean that by that verse the whole world even those yet to be born are already justified.

The second one is Colossians 2:14 found in this blog post by a member of Steadfast Lutherans [sic] (so they call themselves) found here.  Let me repeat what was said and let me put my emphasis on a bad interpretation of Col 2:14

This is to say, there would be nothing real for faith to receive and cling to. When we talk about the objective nature of justification, the terms used relate to Christ’s work as it satisfies the legal requirements of the Law with the whole of mankind in view. That is, the record of debt against the world, with all its legal demands, has been blotted out (Col 2:14), the sins of the world absolved, and this pardon is now freely offered to all in the Word and Sacraments. Some will receive through God given faith this gift to their joy, while others will sadly continue to reject this gift to their own damnation (Mark 16:16)

I have reacted to this interpretation and you will find my counter discussion of this found in my posts, here and here. I have continued to reflect on this passage over the past months and in this occasion I shall add more argument why Col 2:14 is being misused in that quote.

According to Pierce, by virtue of Col 2:14, all legal demands against the world are gone; the Law has no more teeth to bite anyone. Something fishy is going on in here because the word “world” is being used without qualification.  Is this true, that the world has already been absolved of the Law’s demands? If so, why do we baptize anyone? Scripture says that sin is transgression against the Law. If the Law has no more claims on anyone, even perhaps a Christian, why do we confess our sins and why do we have the promise that if we confess them God, cleanses and forgives (1 John 1:9)?

If we read the whole context of Col 2:14, i.e, verses 8-14 inclusive we see that St. Paul was referring to the Christian, it is only to the Christian where the demands of the Law have been thwarted because as v.12 says he/she has been baptized, meaning the sinner has been incorporated into Christ by that Means of Grace. St. Paul was addressing the Christian living in Colossia. The thwarting of the Law’s demands happens only to the believer and not to the whole world without qualification.

This is sometimes where I find how UOJers are like Calvinists in the reverse order. When the Bible uses pronouns, like “us”, we” and they are a referent to the Christian, the UOJer interprets it to mean the whole human race. On the other hand when the pronouns “us”, “we” as a generic referent to the human race, the Calvinists confine it to believers.   It is only through the JBFA Lutheran that I find there is consistency and respect for the language of Scripture.

Scripture interprets Scripture, in fact according to St. Paul which I have stated in the said posts, it is the Christian who is not under the Law, because he is now under grace -  Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Who is now under grace? It is the believer, the sinner who trusts in Christ. It is the one united with Christ who is freed from the claims of the Law because he/she has died with Christ in baptism. The Law has no more claim on dead people yet only those in whom the Means of Grace have been applied are the ones declared dead by St. Paul in Romans 6.

So here once again, we see a peculiar way of taking Scripture found in Col 2:14.

Please do not get me started on Ephesians 2:15.  Luckily no one has yet attempted to say the same thing in the Ephesian passages.

So I say, who is the real oddball here? The UOJ Lutheran or the JBFA Lutheran?