Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christianity is Word based


This year, I met a new friend. Much younger than me who sponsors my technical seminars I do in a Meet Up group. We discovered we got the same skepticism with what we hear from the MSM. He is very concern with the loss of freedom people in the world are experiencing. 

His ancestry came from East EU background, I detected it through his name. He said, his family came from Russia and they came from a Jewish background. We got to talk about Christianity and how I know about his faith, though he said he is none conformant and follows their ways out of tradition.

In the discussion, I said to him, well you see Christianity, many people do not see is a WORD based religion. He was shock when I said that. He said "hmmmm, that is interesting, with us (Judaism), it is always action based" - I said, I know. I said, we do not deny the need for action, but we do affirm the supremacy first of WORDS.

For example, for how does one become a Christian? We have words, we use our message to tell and that message is the message of Christ, how he answered the Law on our behalf and that faith in his person and work obtains for us, forgiveness of sins.

This is not something you can arrive at through your imaginings and rational reflection. It has to be delivered to you, from another side, outside you. Where as I returned to theism after being an atheist in college through looking at the sky, I would have not known the meaning of Jesus' coming until I heard it preached to me, the meaning of that coming of Christ.

Whenever I read Luther, I come out convinced, he absolutely believed in the transforming power of the Word, of Scripture.

John 6

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Psalm 19: 7

The law of the Lord is perfect, [a]converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

2 Cor 4

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tribal Triumphalism

 We know we belong to some tribe of some category with some name. What do I mean by this. Well, we know we belong to some way of thinking, some school of thought or some form of world view. It will have a label, a name we identify with.

That is the tribe we consider we belong so, the group we gather with.

I mentioned that tribalism has a name. Politically, in the US it can be the GOP or the Dems. Name it in your country, you who are reading this is likely to identify with some grouping of some type.

Here we like to talk about the tribalism applied to religion, particularly in the Christian faith.

It has been said that the denominations where we belong are like tribes in a federation under the Christian banner.

In Lutheranism, it is the synod where one belongs.

Now tack into this the triumphalism. Triumphalism is the idea that you are triumphant above all else, so a supremacist in a sort of way.

Get the two concepts together, you get tribal triumphalism that works this way, your group holds the pure body of truth about faith and practice exclusively and to the exclusion of others.

In other words, your tribe has arrived, you and your group has reached the top, no more need to learn.

This can be observed through pride and often rejects any fair points emanating from groups that don't have the same label as yours. In fact tribal triumphalist ministers reply back with put downs when discussing groups not aligned with their views.

Tribal triumphalists are doomed to disintegrate and to be no more. Christianity will survive but your group you are proud off can disappear.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Tribal triumphalists are smug and insult St Paul who never claimed such a thing.

Phil 3: 12 Not that I have already attained,[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

Tribal triumphalists can see without glasses so they know all and can explain all why they are the singularly kingdom of God.

1 Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Tribal triumphalists by its very nature cannot be catholic (small c, not big C - because big C are tribal triumphalists themselves) Christians no matter how much they claim to be.  

1 John 3:14  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

The cure for this disease, is to stop over estimating one's position in comparison to others. We can still learn from people who are mistaken, at least how not to do it their way 

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

A very long time ago, I went to a seminar conducted by a minister who experienced burn out in the ministry. It was Pr Jerry Cook. He was selling his book entitled - A Few Things I Learned Since I Knew it All.

In my journey with my Christian faith I often think about the title of this book, the attitude of knowing it all and arriving always spells, you have to stop and stopping to no longer learning, leads to disaster and disappointment. May God help us not to overrate ourselves.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

The problem with Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics

The problem with the brothers and sisters in the Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatics movement is not that they don't believe. They do.

In fact, they are sincere and they easily believe in the power of God to alter human and individual historical trajectories. I have been there and I know and have sympathies for their sincere and tender hearts.

The problem is not that they do not believe, the problem is that they BELIEVE EASILY so much so that they become fodder for false teachers who make merchandise of their faith.

False teaching and false teachers thrive in an environment where the spiritual guard of the Christian is not up but down. But we should separate the sheep from the wolves that devour them. Some of their preachers and teachers do not know themselves that they are already abusing Scripture. For sure they are subject always to spiritual seduction. Yet this state of affairs are not only present in this movement, it is also present in old time mainstream denominations and synods. This is not entirely exclusive to the evangelical, pentecostal, and charimatic Christians.

If we be honest not entirely what they practice are not with Scriptural support, like praying and laying hands on the sick, raising their hands in worship, having quiet time for devotions etc.  They are found in Scripture.

2 Peter 2: 1-3
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not

The teleevangelists do make use of them for monetary gains because of their gullibility.

However, though some doctrines are abused it does not mean they should not be use, but rather the corrective is to stay on the track of their proper use.

ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia - Abusive use does not preclude proper use. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

That is not exactly how it happened.

UPDATED May 28, 2020

During communion, does your pastor go to each of you and distribute to you the bread and wine? I must say, this is a lovely gesture, comforting and very touching. Frankly, I like the way this is done. It is orderly and efficient.
However, that is not what happened during the Last Supper.
There is this notion going on that for the Sacrament of Communion to be valid, it must be done the same way as the Lord did it, if not, the Sacrament is not valid.
People of this belief (I would say, mistaken), believe that the distribution the way their pastor is doing it, must be observed or else the Communion Sacrament loses its significance and validity.
To show that it is not the way it happened in the Last Supper – the accounts of this is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The sequencing is slightly different with Luke 22: 14-23. The point is that these happened and the bread and wine got consumed,
Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the [b]twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, [c]I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. 21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
23 Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.
If we look at the order here, it is different from how it is done in the churches. For example, here, the distribution of the wine came first. You must be accustomed to the bread being the first to be distributed. However, this is not the case here.
Now to defend the notion that how so many of us have been doing it the way the bread first and then the wine second, people have appealed to master exegetes. One of which is R. H. Lenski. We will focus on v.17 & 20.
Here is what Lenski says of the above passage. Lenski explains that what Jesus was going through was part and parcel of the Jewish Passover sequence which is made of 10 phases. He makes it appear that there are several cups in this Passover. Truly, when Lenski describes what was happening in that passage you can almost see Lenski being there in that scene. For Lenski, there was an entirely different cup – he says “This was an entirely different cup (v.20), one that was passed after the Passover dining had been concluded”.
Now many exegetes think so too – that there were several cups, but and there is a big but – there are those equally in number who do not cozy up with Lenski. For one, Lenski imports too much extra Biblical information, meaning OUTSIDE the Bible to make his case.
For example, we do not have any information from Luke that this or that is the way they did the Passover. Also, if your knowledge of the Passover is post Temple destruction, then that Is Rabbinic and it is an anachronistic reading of Scripture. The safest method is to stick what Scripture says and not make any suspicious notions into Scripture.
Lenski is engaging in argument from silence. Let’s not be shocked, he was after all human too.
If at all, we can assume the same cup is what was used by Jesus in v 17 and v. 20. Why do I say this? It is because then N/KJV translates it as “Likewise, he took THE cup”, which cup, “THE cup” in v.17.
Indeed, other exegetes come on my side too. For example, Norval Geldenhuys – The New International Commentary on the New Testament – Luke. Alternatively, Walter Leifeld – The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Luke – argues for multiple cups but comes out that the cup in v 17 and v 20 is the same cup, third cup of the Passover Both of these exegetes come down to this point – it is the consumption of the bread and wine – that was the point for the Supper. The sequencing is not the point, the consumption is!
At last Adam Clarke, conceded – the way we do communion in sequence is not necessarily the same as we do it today. Look it up yourself – it is in Volume III, Clarke’s Commentary.
Here is what he says...
"It does not appear that our Lord handed either the bread or the cup to each person; he gave it to him who was next to him, and by handling it from one to another, they shared it among themselves, ver. 17. IN THIS RESPECT THE PRESENT MODE OF ADMINISTERING THE LORD'S SUPPER IS NOT STRICTLY ACCORDING TO THE ORIGINAL INSTITUTION." 

So the point of my article - is this - Anti-Lutheran Online Communion (LOC) people have no right to put down LOC people's communion saying theirs is invalid because that is not the way the Lord instituted the Supper, when in fact the Anti-LOC are also not administering the Sacrament the way it was instituted either! What is true for the gander is true for the goose. Jesus did not go around doing what Lutheran and other sacramental pastors are doing, handing the bread and wine to one after another.

Another take away here is this – if you insists that for communion to be valid it has to be the SAME way the Lord has done it – according to your opinion, then you miss the POINT of Holy Communion!