Friday, September 06, 2019

When an adiaphora is no longer an adiaphora

What is an adiaphora in Christianity? They are  ceremonies or rites which are neither commanded nor forbidden in God's Word, with a good intention to promote good order and propriety, or for discipline.

When someone makes an adiaphora no more an adiaphora but a dogma, an item by which a Christian is judged as being bad for not complying, then you got a cult in the making.

In Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, it urges the Christian to resists such imposition of an adiaphora as dogma. You can see this in Chapter X in relation to the Romanists/ Papist as the context of this imposition.

Is someone imposing something to you which is an adiaphora? You need to fight it, rather than yield to it.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The only safe place ... to be happy

Put it this way, if you struggle in life, week in and week out, when you even have to hassle for the air you breathe, when life's problems bog you down, day in and day out, would you not like to unload your sadness and pain one way or another?

Once we understand the core behind Gospel Spiritual Songs is lamentation, perhaps we would not be so quick to frown what goes on in their churches.

To some, this is the only safe place for them to feel happy, even for a couple of hours. Where would you like them to be happy? In a bar, in the sport's field? What better place for them to have it but in an inspirational environment where the promises of God are talked about and pass around.

I get you, and I understand - and I say, may God bless you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Intuitu Fidei is just alright with me

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this post, in fact in this blog, are not necessarily shared by my friends or anyone associated with me.

Many readers of my blog, are aware of my dislike for C F W Walther. While many hail him at par with Luther, I would probably spit on his gravy. I blame him for the division and lack of comradery present in our circle. I am so repulsed by the effect of his works that I do not credit him with anything. In this post (which is long), I will outline why I am good with Intuitu Fidei. If you are familiar with Walther, then you would probably know how he stirred up controversy in  mid 1800 with his adaptation of the Calvinistic view of Unconditional Predestination.

The Book of Concord historically accounted that there were NO CONTROVERSY among the Augsburg Theologians on the issue of predestination. You will find this stated in BoC SD, XI.1. Yet Walther and his group ventured into it and even introduced the controversy in the late 1800s in the USA. This can be found in the tract published by Concordia Publishing House entitled The Doctrine Concerning Predestination Presented in Question and Answers with Preface and Conclusion by C F W Walther, translated by J. Humberger. As can be understood by the Preface, this tract contains the Walther's position on Predestination.

The gist is this. The Waltherian position tries to assert the single predestinarian view of the BoC at the same time adhered to the Calvinistic understanding of predestination in terms of God's Decrees. The glaring example is found in Q. 24.

Q.24. Has God in this His counsel, purpose and ordination prepared the salvation of His
children in general only?
A. No: in this counsel, purpose, and ordination God has mercifully considered also all and
each person of the elect, who will ultimately be saved through Christ, has elected them to
salvation, and DECREED, that in the manner now mentioned He will, through His grace,
PROMOTE IT, AND STRENGTHEN AND PRESERVE THEM. [714,6.] [italics, theirs, not mine]

There are more I could site but space and time forbids me right now. Nevertheless, further on, this position of decreetal predestination is defended by Walther in the Conclusion.
If I may say, it is precisely this decreetal predestination is exactly why I could not be part of the Presbyterian Church I attended for 4 years, even though I had a great relationship with the people there especially with the Pastor. I could not sign the Westminster Confession of Faith. For in the WCF, you will read this in Chapter 3 points 2 & 3 below.

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions;
yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come
to pass, upon such conditions.
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are
predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.the 

Many people know Calvinism to have the 5 points - TULIP. I won't spend so much time but there is one letter there that locks you to Calvinism, once you admit it. It is the U - unconditional election/predestination. Calvinism is like an interlocking jigsaw piece and also like a domino, if you grant U, you must accept the other letters because it is the underpinning logic that holds L, I and P. Hence, you must accept Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perserverance of the Saints. Further, if you believe in decreetal predestination, then you would have to explain if your view is supra, infra or sub-lapsarian. I will leave that to the reader to research and find the meaning of these theological terms. In my view, supra-lapsarian is the only logical choice all the other views are just a cowardly attempt to deny the sharp teaching of what this decreetal predestinarian doctrine.

So if you are a Lutheran and agrees with decreetal predestination, could you explain what lapsarian idea do you bring? My best wishes with that.

When Walther and his followers introduced this position into US Lutheranism, naturally there were those who saw it for what it was - Calvinism in Lutheran garb. The anti-Waltherians charged them of Calvinism and proceeded to explain that the Lutheran position is that of the old Lutheran theologians BoC and post-Boc some of which were even alive when they fought the Calvinism surrounding them. To name a few, they were Chytraeus, Andreae, Koerner, Hunnius, Hutter, Gerhard etc. Their position was that God elected in view of faith, or with the foresight of faith. This is called the Intuitu Fidei, which is a formula adopted by the BoC and Post-BoC Lutherna Fathers. Indeed these Fathers claim that Sola Fide and Intuitu Fidei go hand in hand that speaks of the same Gospel truth. Many I have come across start with Predestination. Yet that is not what the Scripture says.

The starting point of Predestination is Foreknowledge. This is found in Romans 8:28. What  they mean is that faith in Christ is not an after effect of predestination but the very means that justifies and thus itself that predestinates. So to be pedantic, Intuitu Fidei means "elect in view of Christ's merit apprehended by faith". Now some allergic to the mention of faith, will immediately retort, but faith is a work! So you are predestined by a good work in you, so they will counter.In fact the pro-Waltherian camp charged the anti-Waltherians of Pelagianism by foiling this strawman which Calvinists also do. It is black propaganda, a smear campaign, we old folk should not fall for. So the pro-Waltherians and Calvinists are in league sleeping on the same bed, so to speak.I find this suspiciously amazing.

Dear friends, we have already in this blog proved that if ever we Scripture see it talking about saving faith in Christ, if ever we are justified by faith in Christ, St Paul says in Romans 4:16, if it is by faith, by definition, it is of grace. So the Lutheran Fathers cannot be charged with making faith a work in formulating Intuitu Fidei. This is the antidote to Roman salvation by works versus Calvinistic arbitrary fix grace. What the Fathers were saying is that faith is not a meritorious condition but nevertheless a condition present and which we know is produced by the HS through the Means of Grace. The condition of faith is considered in so far as it takes hold and embraces Christ work and person in the foreknowing of God. Just imagine if God foreknew you, what are those he knew about you, they would be infinite categories of items about you..

At any rate, nothing can be better than proving from Scripture that Intuitu Fidei is Scriptural. I make no originality of this, rather I will credit Dr. Richard Lenski for the exposition I am about to outline here. If you are interested you can get his defense of Intuitu Fidei through Bro Alec Satin's website. I summarize Lenski's exposition coming from just two passages that act as a witness, to wit, that faith in Christ has a consideration in our predestination which was foreknown by God. Even from a logical point of view, God foreknew something about us before we were born etc etc.

Here are the Scriptures...

2 Thes 2:13-14 (warning SOME Greek! but work with me)
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice that the KJV has the words "through". How did the Lord chose us for salvation? Through holiness or separation by the HS and belief or thus faith in the truth, which is the Gospel. Now in the NT Greek the proposition before "Sanctification of the Spirit" has ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος καὶ πίστει ἀληθείας, suffice it to say the preposition ἐν stands for "in", or we can literally say "in sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth".

So why did the KJV translate this as "through"? Now the Calvinists like to translate this as "unto". Clearly this is revolting and disrespectful to the text. So why "through"? In the NT Greek we see that the word "sanctification" and "belief" are all in the Dative Case before the "in" preposition. Because this is in the Dative Case, that case is used to designate "how or with what something is done" thus it designates the manner by which something is done.. Both of these "in" and "through" tells us the how and with what has God chosen us. However, "through" has been chosen by the KJV because it brings out what the passage means. Some also argue that "through" has been chosen because of the "through" in v.14.

So in summary, God chose us through two means, one of them is through faith in the truth. Thus faith was regarded in God chosing us.

Matthew 22:1-14 The Parable of Marriage Feast.
Do the parabales of Jesus teach doctrine? In this case most certainly so, because here he explains that many are called but few chosen. The reader should do a quick run through the passage in question. Martin Chemnitz wrote a fine sermon on this and Lenski referred to it himself. We note that characters in the story.
1. The king who arranged the marriage of his son. Analogously, this is God the Father and the son, is Jesus God's son.
2. The king sent his servants to call out people to come to the wedding. These are the prophets of old, who preached to Israel and as we know, they were persecuted rather than heeded.
3. He then again sent his servants, the apostles and disciples of Christ to invite people to the wedding, the Gospel call to all.
4. Then we see that there was one there who did not have a wedding garment. It is said to be customary for a King to supply the wedding garment to those whome he invites. This according to Chemnitz is the righteousness of Christ, which no one obtains except through faith in Him.
5. Then this man is thrown out with the explanation that many are called but few are chosen. We ask the question what could have prevented this man from being thrown out of the feast? If he was wearing the wedding garment supplied to him. The fact that he was not wearing it and being thrown out is the explanation that he was called but he was not chosen. To conclude, the choosing of a person for the feast or for fellowship with Christ must have a regard for the wearing of the wedding garment which is the righteousness of Christ obtained only through faith in Him.

More passages can be given but I have presented here the most appropriate ones and by the mouth of two or more witnesses a thing is established.

Lastly as Lenski pointed out, this view so happens to conform to the analogy of faith principle that says that an aspect of truth sheds light to the inner unity of truth found in Scripture. In fact IIRC, the Greek Father,  John of Damascus c 676 argued saying if we are justified by faith we are predestined by faith also.
This stands to reason as well. If you are justified through faith alone, thus saved, it cannot be that you have been predestined without faith as well. The connection is axiomatic.This has been the position of the BoC and Post-BoC Lutheran Fathers

So Intuity Fidei is alright with me.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Did the Calvinists invent Quia VS Quatenus Forms of Subscription?

Frequent visitors of this blog would know that I toyed with Calvinism when I was a Charismatic Evangelical. Before, coming to the Lutheran Confessions, I was seriously studying the Westminster Confession of Faith. Time and again, I could not dare myself to sign it.

Having the Book of Concord for many years in my library, I begun studying the documents found in it. With a Bible on one hand, I begun to warm to it and today I can heartily say I can sign my name on it. In fact, this is what is meant by subscription.

Not shortly after belonging to a Lutheran congregation and through my readings I learned about what Lutherans call quia (because of) vs quatenus (in so far as) , meaning do you subscribe to the BoC? But what kind? Quia or Quatenus?

I am going to be honest here. Being a former Calvinist, I was quite amazed that the Lutherans were into this debate, for I have always had the lingering suspicion that they were Calvinist categories. For example read this work of Rev Dr Clark's book of how he discusses quia vs quatenus in the context of Calvinistic confessions.

Just a week or so ago, I had the chance to track this down having some time on my sleeves and now being less distracted. So I had more time to chase up my theory and test it.

Here are my findings.

According to Dr. Robert P. Swierenga, a Dutch Reformed layman himself, as early as 1568-1571, the idea of quia vs quatenus subscription came into focus in the Reformed Church because they wanted to know the disposition of ministers who are being ordained in their churches. The actual labels of quia and quatenus were introduced in the Dutch Reformed National Synod of 1816. 

This date overlaps with the many goings on with what is happening in US Lutheranism term by historians as Neo-Lutheranism of which the personalities were Hengstenberg, Caspari, Hoenecke, Phillippi and most of all, the venerated and considered by US "confessional" Lutherans as their church father - the Rev. C F W Walther.

Because of the timing, there is a high chance that quia vs quatenus distinctions flowed into Neo Lutheranism for after all for example, Walther was fond of intruding into Calvinistic problems, see his work on predestination that caused a storm in US Lutheranism.

If one notices, either you are doing a quia or a quatenus subscription to the Confessions. This is an all or nothing position. In other words, if you are subjected to only either of this categories, you are not being allowed a middle position. According to Dr. Swierenga, the Reformed in the late 1500s did not like this subjugation. It is too Roman Catholic - a type of zero sum game. However, they reluctantly went for it because they saw the need.

I hope by now, this has made you think and do some reflection. As a former Calvinist,  my testimony is that Calvinists do borrow ideas from Lutheranism after all Calvin signed a version of the Augsburg Confession. In the idea of quia or quatenus, could it be the reverse happened this time? Could it be that the Neo-Lutherans borrowed from Calvinism this time? A good question to ask is this, do we have documentary evidence that the Old Lutherans got into this debate in their circle? For if we have, the likelihood, the Reformed borrowed from Lutherans is high since they have often done that. Or could the reverse be true with the Neo Lutherans?