Friday, December 31, 2010

3rd Use and Last Post

For now.

I have been spending time with my closest family friend. We made our way to Queensland and we encountered towns flooded by the rain, which is another adventure by itself. Anyway we got to talk about Scriptural topics. He is a businessman who has experienced failure and demise and now he is on the comeback. He has been meditating on the Book of Proverbs and have found it a wonderful treasure of God's wisdom, which got us to talking about the 3rd Use of the Law. I have encountered people who know about this use of the Law, it is found in the BoC here. However, though they do lip service on it, it is virtually nothing in their operation of the Christian life. Listen how they speak of the Law, they speak of it as something evil. That is a clue that the person is functioning without the 3rd Use of the Law. The mistake of modern Evangelicals is that though they have the 3rd Use of the Law they tie this up with salvation, hence, pietism. The error of Waltherians (those who follow Walther and Co.) is that due to the emphasis on 2nd Use of the Law, things become virtually antinomian.

Last Post:
Dear friends,

I wish to thank you for your continued use of this blog. I have to attend to pressing duties like facing some trying times. I am facing some heavy artillery fire and need to focus my attention on this. This could be my last post and won't be posting for many days to come. However, I will be commenting in the usual places where you normally find me.

May I say how I appreciated your patronage through this 5 year period of blogging. I would appreciate your prayers for me and my family.

God be with you all.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

BM on Wedland's 1951 paper.

This was kelmed at Ichabod. The red emphasis are mine, but the rests are BM's.

Brett Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Introduction to WELS DP Beckman's Guilt-Free Saint...":

(W)ELSian Ernst Henry Wendland quotes an appropriate warning, by the Ohio Synod's Kirchenzeitung in its May issue of 1905, to everyone who teaches and defends the false gospel of Universal Objective Justification in his essay, Review of Common Confession Article VI-Justification given to the Biennial WELS Convention at DMLC, New ULM, MN in 1951

Reconciliation and personal justification are thrown together (by Missouri), so that nothing is left of an individual justification by faith. According to Missouri’s new teaching the whole world is justified, in fact, already when Christ completed his work of redemption. A different justification, which takes place when man comes to faith is not present according to this teaching. Thus the central teaching of Scripture and of the Lutheran church is destroyed. (2) According to this new doctrine of justification is already completed without faith, before faith ever enters into the picture. Faith limps behind. Man should only believe in a justification already completed a long time ago. Thus Missouri destroys the Bible teaching of a justification by faith. (3) It is no longer true according to this new doctrine that God first justifies in the moment that a sinner comes to faith. No longer - faith, then justification; rather centuries ago a justification of the whole world - now believe this! We shudder at this sin against everything sacred! God preserve these blinded creatures, who prate so about the clarity of Scripture, and condemn vigourously everything that doesn’t suit their fancy. Now through their own blindness they have fallen so deeply into the night of error! God have mercy upon the poor people who are no longer hearing the central teaching of Scripture, but rather a miserable fallacy, a poor figment of man’s own invention (Lehre u. Wehre, Vol. 51, p. 385 ff.) Page 3

E.H. Wendland goes on to clarify the heart of UOJ and dismisses Missouri's Brief Statement as too ambiguous in regards to declaring the whole unbelieving world forgiven, justified and righteous by God's divine verdict.

"Now we come finally to the Common Confession, where this doctrinal divergence has been supposedly resolved. As we approach it we naturally ask, “Will it contain an unequivocal statement on objectivejustification? Will it rule out the thought that faith is first necessary before any justification of God’s part is possible?”

We read: “By His redemptive work Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; hence, forgiveness of sin has been secured and provided for all men. (This is often spoken of as objective justification.)”

We readily agree that this first sentence is a statement which sets forth the Scriptural truth of universal redemption. We cannot say that there is anything unscriptural about it, as far as it goes. But we certainly cannot agree with the following parenthetical statement, that this sentence adequately and unequivocally covers objective justification. As a matter of fact, we cannot find the essential characteristic of objective justification mentioned at all, the fact that God “has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ” (cf. Brief Statement). “Secured and provided” do not convey the thought of an outright grant, declaring man as acquitted before the bar of God’s justice. Perhaps they can be interpreted in that light by members of the Missouri Synod. But they can just as well be interpreted by the American Lutheran Church to uphold their old position, that although God has secured and provided forgiveness of sin by the redemptive work of Christ, He does not actually justify or declare the sinner to be righteous until the first spark of faith is kindled in his heart. The ambiguity of the Common Confession’s definition of objective justification is so evident that we cannot see how it can be accepted as a final settlement of the old controversy.


Note the new URLs for essays. The old links will not work.

ME: Many think that this controversy is rather new. Actually it has been going on for 100 years now. It is interesting that one has to skim through the works of UOJ defenders to mine the quotes of anti-UOJers. The above is an example.

A lot of people consider me a poor soul, someone to be pitied, someone to be sad for, why?... because I have casted my lot against UOJ. Thanks for people's sympathy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gonna Fly Now

I interrupt our regular programming for this fantastic rendition of Gonna Fly Now - theme from Rocky, arranged by Maynard Ferguson and played as a tribute to him.

They say that Maynard may have been the greatest trumpet player of our time. I wonder if Joe would agree.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Anatomy of a politician

The anatomy of a pastor-politician, that is. I am compiling a list but the ideas here are not original to me, some ideas are from the missus.

  • The approach is sociological, rather than theological.
  • Counselling is psychological rather than doctrinal.
  • Accomodates everyone, opposses no one.
  • Takes the cue from the Synod not from Scripture or the Confessions.
  • Theology is only incidental not intentional.
  • Keeps the gate of status quo.
  • Vague conviction.
  • Sits in between.
  • When challenged to back up his statements with Scripture he asks you if you know Greek. [BM]
  • Unity is based on compromise [GJ]
  • The Vicar of Bray [MH]

If you have something to add let me know.

Seriously, the prophetic pastor who calls you to repent and believe the Gospel is really your friend.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Embouchure, coming back

Seems like. Been practicing again, and I can sense it is coming back. I left my hobby of trumpet playing when I did the doctorate, that was some 6+ years ago. Some part of life seems to be coming back. I took the hobby as a way of relaxing and having a bit of artistic engagement. So I would turn on the CD - play the minus one and belt out a tune from Duke or Chet. It was fun.

Now, I am having a bit of time for it. The missus proded to me to pick up my trumpet again.

This reminds me of my talk last month when I was in Spain attending a conference. I was sitting with a mixture of PhD students and professors all from various countries discussing the idea of doing PhD. We all concluded that one must be a little bit crazy to do this, specially if you do something in the field of mathematical logic or theoretical computing (which I did). You got to be extremely out of your marbles to attempt this. You have to be a bit odd with some loose screws to go through the process of not having a life. Because that is what you are going to experience while you are writing your thesis, you ain't got a life. You may also pass up some opportunities for good employment. That thesis becomes a ball and chain on you.

All of that said, I do feel I got some edumacation.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why go to church?

When eventually what you hear is that I am ok, you are ok, he is ok, she is ok, we are all ok...

When I was in Charismania, we loved to sing Andre Crouche's song "Christ is the Answer".

To which a quick quip comes, if Jesus is the Answer, what is the Question?
So if I hear from the pulpit that I am ok, you are ok, he is ok, she is ok, we are all ok, even your dog is ok... so what is the problem? Nothing. Everything will pan out OK.

As we say here, you'll be right, mate.

So what is the church for? The world already says to me, we'll be right mate and I hear that in the pulpit too, so church is obsolete, no?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why we need Dr. Ichabod

Prior to coming to Wittenberg, I was in a Lutheran list-group some 5 years ago or so, and in that list-group there was a free exchange of ideas. Some orthodox conservative, some confused, some liberal, some having denominational identity crises etc. The free flow of interaction there impressed me. I came away concluding, hmmm, these people are not cultic, they are not a bunch of fundamentalist fruit cakes, Lutherans are honest and willing to follow where evidence leads them. I am happy to be named like them. That is what I thought about Lutherans.

The presence of Dr. Ichabod says that there are brave Lutherans out there who are willing to follow where ever the evidence (as per God's Word) leads them. Because if I look at Internet Lutherland, minus Ichabod, I will come away getting the impression that this is some exclusive club of pastors that feather their own nest, not perhaps in terms of money, but in terms of influence, i.e. a clique and thus a cult. The mark of a cult is that dissenters are eliminated, they are marked and avoided. Also, if blogdom is an indication, I will get the impression that Lutherans are mindless-herd-following people, they got no one who checks where the herd is going.

You might disagree with Dr. Ichabod, but it will do you good to read him, even if his style does not conform to yours. Onion skinned folk need to thicken a bit when they wonder off his blog, for he pulls no punches. In the end, your friend is the one who loves you in truth, rather than the one who loves your feelings. In fact, if you do not like him, the more you should read him. If you are from a different school, you should read him for proper scholarship demands that you read your critics, he could be giving you good service if by listening you adjusted what he found what is weak about you.

Let me suggest something, do not start with his posts, start with his sermons first. First you got to see the guy's pastoral nature, then you can read the posts. When you do, you will get a proper context of why his style is that way. This is the problem with people I know who criticize Dr. Ichabod to me. They read the posts but never bothered to read or listen to his Sunday videoed Divine Services.

Lastly, though the Synodical pastors do not like him, for people like me who come from outside the family, a refugee who has seen quite a bit, it is Ichabod who gives a good name to Lutheranism to me. For there are lots of Lutheran pastors out there receiving accolades, yet they do not behave like Luther, far from him, who was willing to stand alone. So I wonder why they call themselves Lutherans when they appear to be scared.

Just sayin...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Re-hearing Law and Gospel

The BoC says these two - Law and Gospel are to be urged upon Christians. Just been thinking about this in my quiet moments.

It is so right for me to hear this again and again. I just noticed that if I don't, I could wind up thinking that my sin is much greater than the sacrifice of Jesus that paid for it, and this is wrong.

Our souls do hunger to hear again and again, the good news, the beautiful true story of Jesus and his love.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Knuth another Lutheran Scientist/Mathematician

I thought I would be slowing down but I got so inspired by this talk of Donald Knuth at Google, that I must blog about it. May more mathematicians and scientist, come out of the "closet" and declare themselves, yes I am a believer in Christ and yes I am a Scientist.... He is neutral at the moment on creationism but he also doubts evolution. Overall there are still items of his faith understanding that needs more robustness and needs more development. Frankly, it will be quite remarkable to find a Scientist of today that has the stability and solidity of faith in the confessional sense so I am cutting him some slack. They walk on shoes that have a pebbles embedded inside.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Interpreting the Lamb

Blogging will be slow and sparse and will be like that for some days to come. I am busy with lots of writing projects and courseware development. So dear friends, I hope you excuse the gaps in between posts.

So I was sitting in my hotel in Valencia, Spain when I started on re-reading the Gospel of St. John. I do not know how many times I have done the rounds on my New Testament but counting does not matter anymore. So I get to this passage...John 1:29

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

I have encountered people interpreting the highlighted phrase to mean that sin is no more, i.e., to mean that Jesus' death has done away the presence of sin in every individual of the world.

Now, is this what the passage means? Interesting that those Bibles that have cross-referencing points to Hebrews 10: 4 for this... 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Again, in 1 John 3: 5 we have this: 5And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. In context this points to the ritual of the Atonement. What the lamb or goat receives is the sin of the world and in its body receives also the punishment for the sins of the world, that is why it dies or is killed.

If sin is no more, why do I still see it in my life and in the life of others? Rather, the punishment for it has been done and received in Jesus' body as the recipient of God's Holy Wrath. The taking away is the punishment for our sins. It is not the elimination of its presence; for why would I need to confess during the absolution each Sunday if I did not I realize it in my life?

1 John 1:8; If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . Clearly this Scripture verse is against those who say that by virtue of Jesus' death sin is no more. Indeed at Jesus' return we will no longer see the presence of sin but until then, John the Baptist's testimony should be interpreted to mean that Jesus takes the punishment meant for the world due to its sins. Those who do reject the offering of Christ have their sins without cover and the wrath of God on it still remains.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Faith fallacies of mega proportions

Faith always gets denigrated now a days. Either you hear how it is cr*p, or if not that, you hear it misrepresented and maligned. Sometimes when I hear people speak about it, I get the impression they hate it. Yeah, they hate something Jesus marveled at and commended in people's lives.

I often hear the following fallacies on saving faith:

1.) In order to believe in something, that something must already have occurred else faith has nothing to cling to.

Have you heard of this reasoning? I hear this all the time. This is a rationalistic view of how faith is depicted in the Bible and it is so erroneous. In the Bible, such as the case of Abraham, people believed in what God says not because God has already brought it about but because of who God is, the only person worthy of our trust. Biblical proof of this in Hebrews 11 where men of faith looked at the promises of God that went beyond their time with respect to fruition.

For example, if I say to you, I shall meet you tomorrow at such a time and place, has that event - that is me, being there, already occurred in order for you to believe or turn up? No. I tell you, the basis of your belief in me is based on what kind of character I am. The basis of you believing my words is backed up by my reputation of being reliable. Now transfer that idea to God.

Abraham, believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Abraham believed in many future promises that God gave to him. There is something non-trivial about this phenomenon of believing God, that is why when one does believe, it is always a miracle - a work of God. For faith in God's promises is not something you can easily come by.

2. Another fallacy is - well, do you believe ENOUGH?
This is a red herring. It is like asking your maths teacher to tell you the four sides of a circle. How much faith do I have to believe that Jesus died for me? Can I believe more and enough that Jesus died for my sins? This question which is asked, by surprise, surprise - fellow Christians, denies what Jesus taught about faith as big as the mustard seed. The question only arises if there is a doubt that Jesus did not die for you but the Bible says he did so how much do you have to believe this? This question is not even valid to ask. For the question is not about believing enough, the question is - did he or did he not die for you? The answer has only two possibilities, yes or no.

I am finding it hard to be nice with such people who throw these fallacies around.

Guess who falls for this fallacy? They are people like me who came from Evangelia or Charismania. Having been burnt to dust by the preaching of the Law they throw the baby with the bath water and hang on to the words of Walther and Pieper rather than the words of Scripture and the Confessions. They become another pawn of the cult called repeat-after-me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Verb

New words are coming up ... here is one found at Luther Rocks, who has been rocking the boat lately. Go to Joe's blog here. Then at Dr. Ichabod's too found here. The word is about the art of deleting comments which was demonstrated by a commenter here at Extra Nos a few months ago.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

JBFA in Luther's Rose

I was in my son's church the other day and I took a tract produced by my synod that explain's Luther's rose. The tract was the explanation of Luther about his seal.

I was amazed at the words of Luther (note for Lutherans: that means how un-UOJ the words are). My admiration for his Biblicism and dogged understanding of justification rose another level. To use Wesley's words - it strangely warms my heart.

Here are the words which he penned and addressed to Lazarus Spengler:

Grace and peace from the Lord. As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology. The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. "For one who believes from the heart will be justified" (Rom. 10:10[2]). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17[3]) but by faith in the crucified. Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27[4]). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matt. 28:3[5]; John 20:12[6]). Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal.This is my compendium theologiae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation. May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen. [7][1]

Dr. Luther, I do appreciate it my friend, the emphasis are mine.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goedel's Theorems and Christian Philosophy

What Einstein did for Physics, Godel did for Mathematics. However, what the latter did in his proofs has more application in philosophy, and specially Christian Philosophy.

One of Godel's Theorem which affect arithmetic is that (in lay man's terms) there are things that are true, or there are statements that are true but there is no proof of it. There are true statements in a system that have no proofs in that system. So how does it apply to Christianity?

Well this applies to the idea of God. Think about it for the moment. That means faith in God is plausible, to say the least. In fact, Godel had a mathematical proof for the existence of God but it only got published posthumously. He knew he would be persecuted if he came out of the closet as a Christian believer (incidentally his biographers say he was Lutheran). He knew other issues would cloud his mathematical involvement and he would be carried out to other debates had he made noises.

At any rate, one of the things that came around his theorems is the matter of consistency.

Many people think that if a system of belief is consistent, that means it is true! Not so in mathematics. So when I hear Islamic apologists criticize the Bible for alleged inconsistencies and they claim that the Qu'ran has not got them, who are they trying to impress? One does not have to have divine intervention to have a system that is consistent. Mathematicians are doing that for centuries now. I think the Calvinists should listen to this too. Consistency does not imply truth necessarily. However, truth implies consistency.

Hence, I dare say, the Word of God is true and therefore consistent. Jesus says so. Think about that once again.

Then there is also the RC apologists who is able to prove many things from Catholic dogma, as if this is a tower of strength. This is false notion too. For in mathematics, if your system is able to prove any statement under the sun, something is wrong, it is inconsistent. For a system to be consistent, there must be statements it cannot prove or pry on. The sophist motto is ex falso quod libet. From a contradiction prove anything. If you are operating on this mode, watch out your system of belief has a contradiction and that will compound more confusion.

Concordian thinking, at times, pleads ignorance, which is a good thing and a correct thing to do. Go only so far as Scripture. Because, fools rush in where angels fear to thread.

On the other hand, if we plead ignorance in all things, well... I think this not Christian either.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Houston, I have a problem

I have a problem. The Law is not being preached.... at all.

1. The Law is not being preached as if I can do it (wrongly).
2. The Law is not being preached so as to condemnsme (rightly).

Hence, it is not even preached a.) wrongly, or b.) rightly at all.

That is a problem.

If you do not see I problem with that, I certainly do, because there is nothing for Christ to die for.

From BoC, SD V.
And the Apology says: To a true and salutary repentance the preaching of the Law
alone is not sufficient, but the Gospel should be added thereto. Therefore the
two doctrines belong together, and should also be urged by the side of each
other, but in a definite order and with a proper distinction; and the
Antinomians or assailants of the Law are justly condemned, who abolish the
preaching of the Law from the Church, and wish sins to be reproved, and
repentance and sorrow to be taught, not from the Law, but from the Gospel

I am skeptical of Walther's thesis when he says in (p. 25) Treasury of CF W Walther, Vol. III that the Gospel should predominate in the preaching. Some pastors, because they are Walther fans, implement this to the point that the Law is subtly heard or not even heard at all, or hurriedly hushed away. But what do you expect? That is what you get as an effect of UOJ.

I disagree with Walther, for the BoC says the Law and Gospel should be urged side by side, hence equally.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hawking is obsolete

Read a commentary here.

Hawking may be an insightful physicist but he is poor at philosophy. So where did M-theory come from? Where did gravity come from? It is the thing that prevents the physics of the big and the physics of the small from integrating.

Just this morning, I opened my Bible and read the words of Jesus. I put down my Bible with the thought of praising Christ, I could not desribe what I experienced inside me, perhaps the best word to describe it is Life (His words). So I thought of praising Him for what I received, in my internal prayer, I felt no words could describe the gratitude in heart that I wanted to express to him. His spiritual blessings and the praise due to Him are beyond human words.

I like what one guy said, how could Jesus be dead, I just spoke to him this morning.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pop Cohab

Cohabitation that is. It seems that this stuff is not only practiced by young people, it is true for old people too. In where I am, it seems to be the norm rather than the exception. Where I am, I am made to feel embarrassed that I asked something personal, like - "Oh, is this your spouse"? "Are you married, have children"? How could I be so narrow to even use the word "married"?

When I was growing up, cohabiting was an exception rather than the rule. Today, in the place where I was born, it is becoming to be in vogue, I see and observe how they think, I got cable connection to Manila. Now where I am living, it is the way things are, it is the rule rather than the exception.

Has this really made things better? Today young people involve in it are more insecure and find less meaning in life, they were taught to make common what is supposed to be sacred. So is it any wonder they are messed up in their minds? Perhaps they even got this from their cohabiting parents too.

What prompted this in my thinking? I was going through my devotions daily reading again for the nth time Epistle to the Hebrews...Heb 13:4. Try not to clobber me with the Pharisee card, it is not about that...and I will try not to call you an anti-nomian...

4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Imagine if you are a pastor and you have cohabiting folks in your congregation and everyone in the membership knows about this. Would it not be so tempting for the pastor to say nothing, since, these people might go away and attendance will drop, and possibly the giving will drop too? It is a hard choice, and I pray those who want to be true to God's word might call them to repent.

Often times we know what we must do, we just lack the courage to do it.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ambrosiaster Quote

For some reason, I picked up my copy of volume NT VI (Romans), of Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, edited by Gerald Bray. Here is what Ambrosiaster said about
Romans 5:18...
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

Some people think that because the condemnation was universal, the acquittal will also be universal. But this is not so, because not everyone believes. Commentary on Paul's Epistles

Actually, some believe that the acquittal has already happened and was universal.

So far I have not come across any one suggesting this Church Father was a heretic.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My other blog

The above is my other blog I started a few weeks ago. It is my logic blog. I had to switch to Wordpress in this case because it supports math symbols very easily.

Thank you Jesus, my Lord, for letting me enjoy a few things you have given to us your people, to preoccupy ourselves, until you return or you take us home, whichever comes first.

Luke 19:13.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Luther on Works

Paul Althaus is considered to be the authoritative Luther scholar around. I got the following Luther quotes from his book The Theology of Martin Luther. Listen to what Luther says about the role of works...

True faith is not idle. We can therefore, ascertain and recognize those who have true faith from the effect or from what follows. WA 39I, 114; LW 34, 183

Works are a certain sign, like a seal on a letter, which makes me certain that my faith is genuine. As a result if I examine my heart and find that my works are done in love, then I am certain that my faith is genuine. WA 10III,225.

Love is evidence of faith and gives us firm and certain confidence in the mercy of God; thus we are commended to make our calling certain by good works (II Peter 1:10). WA 39II,248.

Works assure us and bear witness before men and the brethren and even before our own selves that we truly believe and that we are sons of God in hope and heirs of eternal life. WA 39I, 293.

I went to Althaus' book after I listened to some pastor being interviewed. Clearly, according to Althaus, Luther considered the certainty of salvation as partially dependent on this new obedience. It is sad when Lutheranism is portrayed by its own adherents as if it was antinomian. Luther, the name from which the denomination got its name, was none of that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Theologians can learn from Computer Scientists

I am a multi-lingual individual, I speak C++, Java, SQL, Perl, TCL, PHP, Scheme etc. ( all programming languages, LOL).

In programming languages, they have a concept called "reserved words". When you program, the programming language (any one of them!) allows you to name your own variables, constants, class names and function names. You are allowed to go for it! However there is a caveat, you are not allowed to use the programming language's reserved words. These words are solely for the use of the programming language because its semantics is locked in. You are not allowed to use these reserved words for your naming of variables, constants, class names and function names.

For example, in Java, if you say this...

int return;
Java will trap you and won't move further in its analysis of your code (hence, we say it won't compile). The reason is that you have used the reserved word return to name your integer variable. That word is reserved for Java. You did something illegal.

I think the Bible does the same. Right now I can identify a couple of words that are "reserved words" by Scripture. One of them is "justification" and the other is "predestination".

The Bible exclusively uses these words in reference to believers in the Gospel of Christ only. It does not use it any other way.

If you can identify some more, let me know.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Theology of Pronouns

I am just thinking out loud. I just noticed something.

Scripture uses pronouns such as "we", "us", "our". Getting this wrong spells the universe of difference and can slide you down to errors of mega proportion.

1. Type I error: When Scripture uses "we/us/our" to refer to human beings collectively, but one interprets it as a reference to believers. With this error, no one could ever be a believer and the Scripture can never be availed of for comfort.

2. Type II error: When Scripture uses "we/us/our" to refer to believers, but one interprets it as a reference to human beings collectively. With this error, everyone is a believer and whatever Scripture says, nothing matters, since every one is a child of God hence, comforts the one in their sins.

In my study, Old Lutheran JBFA (repeat I mean BoC JBFA teaching), gets the above correctly and delineates between the two ways Scripture uses the above pronouns. I may be called biased but honestly, the BoC is a respectable document. I would prefer to read it second to the Scripture and I even prefer to read it rather than the works of Synodical Fathers. One should stop circling the wagons.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Turn

It is my turn to do a public seminar. No, it is not formally a public lecture which Australian universities, following the British tradition, constantly offer and I enjoy attending.

I am to give a small talk about my proposal for the use of a particular technique in the field of agent technology for people researching in AI and Agents. Though this is a seminar addressed to the academics in the that field, in Australia, it also functions like a public seminar. It is free for people to attend if they are interested. It does not matter what their background might be, it is offered free to any who might just fancy to listen. At the end of the talk, it is customary for the presenter to give 15 minutes for question and answers and this is where things get interesting. Since it is a type of public gathering, you would not know where the questions would be coming from and so I expect to be taken to the barn for a bit of whipping, i.e. my ideas will be challenged and put to the test in a cordial and gentlemanly manner. In this process, either my ideas or the questioner's ideas get taken seriously or simply dismissed as the prating of a fool.

It is not for the sensitive and the big ego.

Some of my blog readers (who formerly got me in their blog roll now no more) do not understand why I do not consciously moderate the blog. It is because it is in that spirit of public lecture that this blog is being run.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What Theologians can learn from Mathematicians

Theologians of the systematic kind (you know who) love to do deductions. The problem is that in their business of deduction, they have hidden axioms which may not be axioms at all.

Mathematicians on the other hand are not legally allowed to make deductions if the step does not conform to a deduction rule or is not supported by an axiom. So what are axioms? They are propositions that are self evidently true. For example in human logic, P v ~P (P or Not P) is an axiom (now to mess up your mind a bit, there is one logic system where this is not an axiom, think about the implication of that for a moment). This is evidently true, right? It is obvious a thing cannot be white and not white at the same time, etc.

Good Systematic Theologians stay with their axioms and proper exegesis. The axioms in systematic theology are gathered or sourced from Scripture. This is why I find it astounding when a systematic theologian does not do exegesis first, but rather wants me to go by rapid conceptualizations and make deductions from there. Statements in Scripture are axioms because God defines them to be God's Word and God's Word is true.

From what I have seen good Lutheran theologians stick close to their axioms(Scripture), and those who don't, ergo, are bad. For example, the BoC refuses to conclude there is double predestination though it affirms that God predestines believers. Logically the BoC may be thought of as strange in this regard. However, the BoC refuses to go the deductive route of asserting double predestination because the word "predestine" is only found in reference to believers and never in connection with un-believers. Hence, they are staying close to the statements of Scripture, their axioms. It just sound and responsible scholarship to be that way.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Needing philanthropic help

My research paper got accepted in an international conference to be held this October 2010 in Valencia, Spain. The conference is about Knowledge Engineering and about Ontologies in computer science. Unfortunately since I am now out of my university, there is no travel money for me. Besides, my faculty is hard up with cash. Having only 1.5 days of work does not help me much so I am looking for some generous patron who might support and give me a travel grant. I have a handful of philanthropic groups to approach but I need more, so should you have some ideas, I would be grateful if you pass them on to me.

Lastly, I am surprised that the book Concordia The Lutheran Confessions: A readers edition of the BoC released by CPH has been challenged and LC-MS is revoking its doctrinal review certificate. I am not sure what this means. Does it mean we can get our money back? I got my worn out Tappert version, this red BoC has served me well.
I read it first at Ichabod and the LC-MS article is found here. Apparently this is not news anymore. However this is news to me because when I got mine from a stockist in 2008, they still sent me the 2005 edition that did not contain the corrections.

BTW, if you know of some philanthropists, I would appreciate your letting me know of them. We do not have a lot here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Apol. XII, 60

My pastor gave me a little booklet called Before God and The World, Selections From the Confessional Writings of the Lutheran Church, Elvin W. Janetzki. It is a nice collection of BoC paragraphs arranged topically. For example, on the topic of God as Creator you will find all paragraphs related to that topic.

As my favorite is Justification and so I went there and I read Apol XII:

60] When the adversaries speak of faith, and say that it precedes repentance, they understand by faith, not that which justifies, but that which, in a general way, believes that God exists, that punishments have been threatened to the wicked [that there is a hell], etc. In addition to this faith we require that each one believe that his sins are remitted to him. Concerning this special faith we are disputing, and we oppose it to the opinion which bids us trust not in the promise of Christ, but in the opus operatum of contrition, confession, and satisfactions, etc. This faith follows terrors in such a manner as to overcome them, and render the conscience pacified. To this faith we ascribe justification and regeneration, inasmuch as it frees from terrors, and brings forth in the heart not only peace and joy, but also a new life. We maintain [with the help of God we shall defend to eternity and against all the gates of hell] that this faith is truly necessary for the remission of sins, and accordingly place it among the parts of repentance. Nor does the Church of Christ believe otherwise, although our adversaries [like mad dogs] contradict us.

I got to the bolded words and I got reminded of what Pieper said...

"I would eliminate faith as a requirement that makes justification true. That would be making faith a work of mine." Franz August Otto Pieper, A Final Word,

I am confused. I do not know about you, but Pieper has a lot of explaining to do.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Today I was on the phone answering a phone survey. It was a long interview about my opinion on what is happening in the country and the world. Not often do I get interviewed. However, some of the questions were already loaded. For example, one question was "what is the reason why we are experiencing these great upheavals in our weather". The question already presumes this to be a fact.

Most of the question had something to do with government policies on the environment and on taxes. I understand market survey companies chuck in other questions along the way that solicit information for their other clients, in this case I think it was from the mining and petroleum industry.

I was happy to be solicited for information.

Speaking of interviews, I wonder if people like me would ever get interviewed by Issues Etc.

With my position on certain issues? Not a chance. What do you think? LOL.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Prior to being Lutheran, I was in a state of confessional confusion and confessional dearth. While I was in this state of confessional wilderness I worshiped in a Presbyterian Church, faithful to the Westminster Confession though I myself could not get myself to sign on it. BTW, I listen to these so called Confessional Lutherans in the blog world talk about Calvinism and they do not know what they are talking about. Mainly because they are repeat-after-me-sem-prof pastors they are not trained to think independently or question what is being taught them. They do not even go check the sources.

At any rate in that Presby church, the pastor is a fine preacher. He does exposition of the text, very well done I might add. Lots of it, more than 20 minutes of exposition. Unfortunately, you are left with Law.

Now I listen to these so called Confessional Lutheran 8 minute sermons, you do get often Law and Gospel, but they do not have a text! They often do not refer you to the text they are preaching from, hence, no exposition. Well of course, if the pastor believes (wrongly) all ARE already SAVED, they just have not believed it yet, what is there to say? He winds up saying - "hey people you are already saved, what are you hanging around here for? Go home! Peace be with ya!"

So-called Confessional Lutherans actually do not like the style of Luther. Luther preached long and tons and tons of Scripture and exposition I might add. Just look at the Large Catechism, it was an entire series of sermons. I think this is the problem, they like to learn sermonizing not from Luther but from some cutesie homiletics theory. It really boils down to not believing the Word will do its job. They want quick and easy results. No wonder, Lutherans are looking no more in their own church. Those who are afraid to leave just suffer and become just like a boat tossed, they are still in the cage but they are malnourished and wobbly.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Theological Fallacy II

Dedicated to my USA readers who just celebrated their 4th of July.

There is a common notion that in order to believe in something, that something must exists a priori. Although in human interaction and in some cases this is true, it is not true in all cases. Another corollary to this is that in order for a promise to be true, the content of that promise must, a priori, already be a reality. To make it more concrete, UOJers teach that in order to believe you are justified you must believe that your justification has already occurred. Otherwise, so the reasoning goes, faith has nothing to grab a hold on. Take a look at this example comment by Dr. Kilcrease here, the emphasis is mine for your attention.

So, to speak the gospel, you must make a promissory statement and a promissory statement presupposes a reality that's already present. If it's faith that does the justifying and not the reception of justification, then we're not speaking the word of the gospel as a promise-since faith must trust in an already existing reality that is completely fulfilled

I suggest that this type of reasoning or assumption is flawed. It misses the nature of faith and has misunderstood the nature of a promise. This is also reasoning not Biblically but philosophically. Philosophy, let us face it, is often based on observation not revelation.

Let me give an example. If I say to you I will be there in our meeting tomorrow and I will be on time, does that mean tomorrow has already come so that you can believe me - my words and actions? The answer of course is "no". What does it take for you to believe me? I suggest what you need from me so you can believe my words is my character. Am I a person who is known for integrity, is my word my bond? Isn't that what you need from me to believe that what I say, I will do? You do not require the existence of tomorrow, a priori, to believe me, right? Now transfer that notion of character to God who does not lie. We can then see why faith is precious to God.

Furthermore, the notion that in order for faith to grab a hold on something, that something must already exists, does not take faith as a gift. It does not take faith as an entire creation from nothing to something. This "a priori existence thinking" makes faith like it is just a matter of rearranging the furnitures in a room. The furnitures are already there but they are just not in the right places. Scripture does not speak of saving faith in this manner. Rather it speaks of faith as a creation through the Means of Grace i.e., the preaching or proclamation of the Gospel Romans 1:16-17. Faith is creation ex nihilo just like God created the Universe. The Gospel in the BOC is designated an offer. Namely AP XII, v.29

And this contrition takes place in this manner when sins are censured by the Word of God, because the sum of the preaching of the Gospel is this, namely, to convict of sin, and to offer for Christ's sake the remission of sins and righteousness, and the Holy Ghost, and eternal life, and that as regenerate men we should do good works.

As a counter example of why I believe the "a priori existence" notion is false, I give Hebrews 11:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To believe in the promises of God, that is to see them afar of and yet be assured of them and embrace them is to have a faith whose author is not man but Christ, the author and finisher of faith.

Discussing Justification is always a good thing for in the discussion we get a clearer understanding of where faith is anchored, where it should rest.

Dr. Jackson says it well when he says

Wondering out loud is not permitted in the synods. I believe doctrinal friction is a positive factor in creating doctrinal clarity - as evidenced in the Formula of Concord.

Justification by faith, like subnet masking, is learned rather than taught. Going over every issue is essential in sorting out the Biblical truths.