Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year of Blogging...

Well, another year of blogging comes to an end. Thank you all for stopping by.

Special thanks of course to my co-bloggers: Alan, Carrie, Ken, and I'll even throw John Mark in. Your posts keep this blog from turning into a dull and dreary record of my studies into Luther and the Reformation. Ever notice how the comments increase when you folks post something as compared to one of my Luther posts? Thank you for your articles!

Thanks also to my dear Prosapologian friends, for their encouragement, fellowship, and work defending the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Special appreciation to Pastor David King whose research and generosity blesses this blog more than most people realize. Thanks to Turretinfan and Steve Hays as well- the fan for his time in the comment boxes, Hays for his wit and wisdom. Thanks to Carla, Sean, and Eric for helping with the ISI blog this year.

Special special special thanks to my wife who puts up with me constantly saying, "....Just one more minute, I just have to finish writing something."

This upcoming year should be challenging. I'm planning on enrolling in a new seminary, and I'll be teaching at my church on Reformed theology starting January 3.

I've also started playing guitar again, and I've been working on learning how to play Odyssey by Steve Morse. I call this endeavor, "songs to hurt your hands by." My New Year's resolution is to be able to play this song note-for-note by December 31. If I could ever find Reformed musicians in my area, I'd put together a progressive rock / jazz band and do a CD based on the Westminster Confession of Faith or some other Reformed text.

I'd also like to finish at least one house project. Half of my downstairs hallway ceiling is tiled, and if I could just figure out how to landscape my yard, that would be wonderful. This will be the year I again try to win the battle against the Trumpet vine, affectionately known as "The Kraken."

The blog is a hobby. It isn't an attempt to be the impetus for the next Julie and Julia movie. I appreciate that anyone stops by, although I will say angry and irrational foes leaving comments does at times makes me weary. Those of you leaving encouraging comments, or take the time to defend the faith are a source of joy, and I also appreciate your efforts.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Catholic Answers Needs More $$

Someone explain this to me: Karl Keating says it costs $143,000 a year to maintain the "Catholic Answers Forums."

He says also the entire Catholic Answers website costs $411,000 a year "to maintain the site, as well as protect it from anti-Catholic hackers who are constantly trying to sabotage it."

Can someone explain costs? I can only speculate the forums must pay their moderators.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Luther: God is the Author of Evil (Part 1: Documentation)


I've been skimming through a Luther-related discussion thread entitled, Martin Luther: False Teacher? A Roman Catholic states,

"Regarding man's free will, Luther said: 'God is the author of what is evil as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also does He damn others who deserve not their fate.' What did he mean by this?"

In response, it was noted this quote is yet another mined out of Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther and a challenge was issued to the Roman Catholic to locate a reference and context from Luther. I would actually be amazed if any person using this quote could locate a context. I took me quite a while to analyze the quote Father O'Hare used. This entry will document my work of locating the context. The next installment will analyze the quote.


The Culprit: Father Patrick O'Hare
's Facts About Luther

Father O'Hare records the following:

Man," he says, "is like a horse. Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider. The will cannot choose its rider and cannot kick against the spur that pricks it. It must go on and its very docility is a disobedience or a sin. The only struggle possible is between the two riders, who dispute the momentary possession of the steed, and, then, is fulfilled the saying of the Psalmist: I am become like a beast of burden.' Let the Christian, then, know that God foresees nothing contingently, but that he foresees, proposes and acts from His internal and immutable will. This is the thunderbolt that shatters and destroys free-will. Hence it comes to pass that whatever happens, happens according to the irreversible decrees of God. Therefore, necessity, not free-will, is the controlling principle of our conduct. God is the author of what is evil in us as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also, does He damn others who deserve not their fate." (De Servo Arbitrio, in op. lat. 7, 113 seq.) Source: Patrick O'Hare,The Facts About Luther, (Illinois: Tan Books [reprint], 1987) 266-267.

This quote also appears in a truncated form:

"Man is like a horse. Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider... Therefore, necessity, not free will, is the controlling principle of our conduct. God is the author of what is evil as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also does He damn others who deserve not their fate." De Servo Arbitrio', 7, 113 seq., quoted by O'Hare, in 'The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, pp. 266-267.


The Primary Source: The Bondage of the Will

Even without having the Latin source to which Father O'Hare refers, one still has a good chance of tracking down the context. O'Hare let's us know this extended quote comes from De Servo Arbitrio, otherwise known as The Bondage of the Will. There are at least two English translations in print, and a helpful edited volume including some of the work of Erasmus:

The Bondage of the Will Translated by J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston (Michigan: Revell, 1957)

Luther's Works Volume 33: On The Bondage of the Will, translated by Phillip Watson (based on WA 18 600-787).

Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation edited by E. Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson, LCC XVII (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969).

There are two old English versions as well, and an edited version:

Martin Luther on the bondage of the will: to the venerable mister Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1525 (1823) Translated by Edward Thomas Vaughan

Martin Luther, On The Bondage of The Will, Written in Answer to the Diatribe of Erasmus on Free Will (1823) Translated by Henry Cole

An edited version of these two translations was put together in 1930 by Henry Atherton

But, this quote wasn't easy at all to locate. When I searched for the quote in Luther's Works 33, I found something similar, yet very different than that cited by O'Hare. I searched specifically for the horse and rider analogy:

In short, if we are under the god of this world, away from the work and Spirit of the true God, we are held captive to his will, as Paul says to Timothy [II Tim. 2:26], so that we cannot will anything but what he wills. For he is that strong man armed, who guards his own palace in such a way that those whom he possesses are in peace [Luke 11:21], so as to prevent them from stirring up any thought or feeling against him; otherwise, the kingdom of Satan being divided against itself would not stand [Luke 11:18], whereas Christ affirms that it does stand. And this we do readily and willingly, according to the nature of the will, which would not be a will if it were compelled; for compulsion is rather (so to say) “unwill.” But if a Stronger One comes who overcomes him and takes us as His spoil, then through his Spirit we are again slaves and captives—though this is royal freedom—so that we readily will and do what he wills. Thus the human will is placed between the two like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes where God wills, as the psalm says: “I am become as a beast [before thee] and I am always with thee” [Ps. 73:22 f.]. If Satan rides it, it wills and goes where Satan wills; nor can it choose to run to either of the two riders or to seek him out, but the riders themselves contend for the possession and control of it. What if I can prove from the words you yourself use in asserting freedom of choice that there is no free choice? What if I convict you of unwittingly denying what you seek so carefully to affirm? Frankly, unless I do so, I swear to regard everything I write against you in the entire book as revoked, and everything your Diatribe either asserts or queries against me as confirmed. [LW 33:65]

One can see, these are two very different renditions from The Bondage of the Will, with a substantial amount of difference. The entire sections about the thunderbolt destroying free will, whatever happens, happens by necessity, and God being the author of evil are missing from the LW snippet, while the horse and rider analogy is far shorter than that cited by O'Hare. Altogether, three sections of O'Hare's quote appeared to be missing from Luther's Works volume 33.


Why Doesn't O'Hare's Quote Match Up With Luther's Works Volume 33?
The first reason that O'Hare's quote is not like LW 33 is due to his documentation being spurious. "De Servo Arbitrio, in op. lat. 7, 113 seq" is not a quote reference to a specific section of text. It is actually a reference to where The Bondage of the Will begins in D. Martini Lutheri Opera Latina Volume VII. That is, the treatise, De Servo Arbitrio begins on page 113 in volume 7. The second reason these quotes don't match up is due to the fact that the entire quote is taken from different pages of The Bondage of the Will. That is, it isn't one Luther quote, it's a few quotes placed together in a paragraph taken from different places in The Bondage of the Will. Luther didn't write this as a paragraph. Someone took a few different quotes from the entirety of the book and placed them together into one paragraph.

There's a good chance Father O'Hare took the quote from History of the church, Volume 3 By Johannes Baptist Alzog. Father O'Hare quotes from this Romanist source a few times in his book, and it contains the same Luther quote in almost the exact same form with the exception of two additional words, "he continues":

Man, says Luther, is like a horse. "Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient, and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider, and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes, and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider. The will can not choose its rider, and can not kick against the spur that pricks it. It must get on, and its very docility is a disobedience or a sin. The only struggle possible is between the two riders, God and the Devil, who dispute the momentary possession of the steed. And then is fulfilled the saying of the Psalmist: 'I am become like a beast of burden.'" "Let the Christian then know," he continues, "that God foresees nothing contingently; but that he foresees, proposes, and acts from His eternal and immutable will. This is the thunderbolt that shatters and destroys free-will. Hence it comes to pass, that whatever happens, happens according to the irreversible decrees of God. Therefore necessity, not free-will, is the controlling principle of our conduct. God is the author of what is evil in us, as well as of what is good; and as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also does He damn others who do not deserve their fate.

Alzog uses this quote in another book as well. He attributes the quote to four different places on multiple pages of The Bondage of the Will [Lutheri opera Latina, Jenae, T. III., fols. 170,171,177, 207. Witt. Germ, fols., 534 b 535a (TR)]. Alzog appears to be using Latin Volume III in the Jena edition of Luther's Works (1555-1558), and the Wittenberg edition of Luther's Works. We'll also see that pages 170,171,177, 207 probably are not the order in which the quotes are arranged.


A Breakdown of the Four Quotes

1. The Horse and Rider Analogy
Man, says Luther, is like a horse. "Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient, and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider, and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes, and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider. The will can not choose its rider, and can not kick against the spur that pricks it. It must get on, and its very docility is a disobedience or a sin. The only struggle possible is between the two riders, God and the Devil, who dispute the momentary possession of the steed. And then is fulfilled the saying of the Psalmist: 'I am become like a beast of burden.'

LW 33 is much shorter:

Thus the human will is placed between the two like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes where God wills, as the psalm says: “I am become as a beast [before thee] and I am always with thee” [Ps. 73:22 f.]. If Satan rides it, it wills and goes where Satan wills; nor can it choose to run to either of the two riders or to seek him out, but the riders themselves contend for the possession and control of it.

The Packer / Johnston translation reads similarly to LW:
So man's will is like a beast standing between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills: as the Psalm says, 'I am become as a beast before thee, and I am ever with thee' (Ps. 72.22-3). If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, or which it will seek; but the riders themselves fight to decide who shall have hold of it.

Vaughan:
Thus, the human will is placed, as a sort of packhorse, in the midst of two contending parties. If God hath mounted, it wills and goes whither God pleases; as the Psalmist says, I am become as a beast of burden, and I am ever with thee." (Psa. Ixxiii. 22, 23.) If Satan hath mounted, it wills and goes whither Satan wills. Nor is it in its own choice, to which of the two riders it shall run, or to seek its rider; but the riders themselves contend for the acquisition and possession of it.

Cole:
Thus the human will is, as it were, a beast between the two. If God sit thereon, it wills and goes where God will: as the Psalm saith, " I am become as it were a beast before thee, and I am continually with thee." If Satan sit thereon, it wills and goes as Satan will. Nor is it in the power of its own will to choose, to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek; but the riders themselves contend, which shall have and hold it.

Grisar:
Either God or Satan rules over men; to this pet thought he adds: "The matter stands simply thus . . when God is in us, the devil is absent and then we can will only what is good; but when God is not there, the devil is, and then we can will only what is evil. Neither God nor Satan leaves us with an indifferent will." "When the stronger of the two comes upon us," he says, " and makes a prey of us, snatching us away from our former ruler, we become servants and prisoners to such an extent that we desire and do gladly what he wills ( ut velimus et faciamus libenter quce ipse velit). Thus the human will stands," Luther continues, using a simile which has become famous, "like a saddle-horse between the two. If God mounts into the saddle, man wills and goes forward as God wills . . . but if the devil is the horseman, then man wills and acts as the devil wills. He has no power to run to one or the other of the two riders and offer himself to him, but the riders fight to obtain possession of the animal." [source]


The analogy of the horse and rider as quoted by O'Hare / Alzog is a little longer. A similar version can be found here:

So in his reply to the philosopher, he breathed upon the human will which Erasmus decked out as a queen, and drew from it two figures, first one of a horse, then one of salt. The horse is in the open field: "Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient, accommodates itself to every movement of the rider, and goes whither he wills it Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes, and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider.* The will cannot choose its rider, and cannot kick against the spur that pricks it. It must get on,and its very docility is a disobedience or a sin. The only struggle possible is between the two riders, God and the devil, who dispute the momentary possession of the steed. And then is fulfilled that saying of the Psalmist: 'I am become like a beast of burden.'" [*"Sic humana voluntas in medio posita est, seu jumentum ; si insederit Deus, vult et vodit que vult Deus, ut Psalmista dicit: Factus sum sicut jnmentum et ego semper tecum; si inserderit Satan, vult et vadit sient Satan, neo est in ejus arbitrio ad utrum sessorem currere, aut eum quaerere, sed ipsi sessores certant ob ipsum obtinendum et possidendum." — Op. Luth. tom. iii. p. 177, 6].

This source cites the quote in Latin, and specifically gives page 177 as a reference. Alzog begins with the horse and rider analogy, yet lists it as his third page reference. Can it be concluded that Alzog didn't cite his pages in order of the citations used as they appear in Luther's text? I'm not sure. This text cites the quote as "he compares the human will to a 'pack-horse now mounted by God, and now mounted by the devil,' driven hither or thither by divine or by Satanic agency, irrespective of all moral bias or character in itself" (p. 172 of De Servo Arbitrio, Opera, vol. iii.)". So the quote is said to be either page 172 or 177.

I think it's safe to conclude this longer version is indeed from Luther, despite it not being translated into the recent English texts. That it was edited down doesn't do anything to Luther's point. In WA 18, the quote appears on pages 634-635. Grisar mentions the Weimar version in WA 18 p. 600-787 has only "unimportant differences with the Latin text from Opp. Lat. var. 7 p. 113-368" [Grisar, Luther 2, p. 264]. He also mentions that an early German translation entitled "Dass der freie Wille nichts sei" was put out even while the Latin version was still in the process of being printed. Therefore, it is indeed possible that some of the versions have minor differences.


2. The Thunderbolt That Destroys Free Will
Let the Christian, then, know that God foresees nothing contingently, but that he foresees, proposes and acts from His internal and immutable will. This is the thunderbolt that shatters and destroys free-will.

After Luther quotes the Psalmist, Alzog says, "He continues" meaning that a new quote is being introduced. I located this snippet in LW 33:37, 28 pages previous to what came before it as cited by O'Hare and Alzog.

LW says:
Here, then, is something fundamentally necessary and salutary for a Christian, to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that he foresees and purposes and does all things by his immutable, eternal, and infallible will. Here is a thunderbolt by which free choice is completely prostrated and shattered, so that those who want free choice asserted must either deny or explain away this thunderbolt, or get rid of it by some other means. [LW 33:37]

Or, in the Packer / Johnston translation:
It is, then, fundamentally necessary and wholesome for Christians to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His own immutable, eternal and infallible will. This bombshell knocks 'free-will' flat, and utterly shatters it; so that those who want to assert it must either deny my bombshell, or pretend not to notice it, or find some other way of dodging it.

Other translations:

'God foreknows nothing subject to contingencies, but He foresees, foreordains, and accomplishes all things by an unchanging, eternal, and efficacious will. By this thunderbolt freewill sinks shattered in the dust'('Est itaque et hoc imprimis necessarium et salutare Christiano nosse, quod Deus nihil præscit contingiter, sed quod omnia incommutabilia et æterna, infallibilique voluntate et prævidet et præponit et facit. Hoc fulmine sternitur et conteritur penitus liberum arbitrium.')[source]

This quote also appears on page 615 of WA 18, and can be located in various secondary sources. My guess is this is the quote Alzog refers to as being on page 170, as will be explained with the next quote.

3. Whatever Happens is by Necessity, not Free Will
Hence it comes to pass that whatever happens, happens according to the irreversible decrees of God. Therefore, necessity, not free-will, is the controlling principle of our conduct.

This sentence is also on page 37 of Luther's Works 33, two paragraphs after the previous quote:

From this it follows irrefutably that everything we do, everything that happens, even if it seems to us to happen mutably and contingently, happens in fact nonetheless necessarily and immutably, if you have regard to the will of God. [LW 33:37]

This is probably the quote from Alzog that appears on page 171, since in LW 33, it appears close to quote #2 above. This leaves the last quote being on page 207 according to Alzog's reference.


4. God is The Author of Evil
God is the author of what is evil in us as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also, does He damn others who deserve not their fate.

This fourth quote is indeed the most challenging to locate. Perhaps these quotes are in view:

God’s love toward men is eternal and immutable, and his hatred is eternal, being prior to the creation of the world, and not only to the merit and work of free choice; and everything takes place by necessity in us, according as he either loves or does not love us from all eternity, so that not only God’s love but also the manner of his loving imposes necessity on us. [LW 33:198]

But hardest is the view of those who say that free choice is a mere empty name, that it is God who works both good and evil in us, and that all things which happen come about by sheer necessity. [LW 33:112]


I spent quite a while looking through all the extant English versions of The Bondage of the Will for this quote, and neither of these quotes completely satisfies me that I've got what O'Hare and Alzog are using. My search though was thurough. The quote, as it appears in O'Hare and Alzog is the only translation I know of that is worded the way they have it.

This source appears to be translating the same quote:

God is thus plainly the author of sin, and Luther shrinks not from the avowal! He maintains "that God excites us to sin, and produces sin in us" and that "God damns some who have not merited this lot, and others before they were born."

The documentation places the first quote on page 199 and the second on page 207 of the same source Alzog uses. This source though, places the first quote on page 199 of the Opera Latina and the second on pages 522-523 in a different volume:

"God," Luther says, " excites us to sin, and produces sin in us."— (De Servo Arbitrio, Opp. Jenae, tom. iii., p. 170.) " God damns some," he adds, " who have not merited this lot, and others, /before they were born."—(Opp. Jena;, iii., 199 ; and Wittemb., torn, vi., fol. 522-23.)

The quote also surfaces rendered from the German, yet cross-referenced to the same page in Latin (207):

Necessity impels the monk, and hurries him from blasphemy to blasphemy: he now proclaims that God damns some creatures who have not deserved such a fate;1 others even before they are born;2 that he induces us to sin, and produces evil in us.

1-Dass Gott etliche Mensohen verdammet, die es nicht verdient haben
2-Dass Gott etliche Menschen zur Verdammnus verordnet babe, eh sie gebohren worden : 3 Jen. Lat. fol. 207 a. t. 6; Witt. Ger, fol. 343 b, 535 a. t; Alt. fol. 249 b, 250.]

So "God damns some who have not merited this lot, and others before they were born" is probably the same quote as "God is the author of what is evil in us as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also, does He damn others who deserve not their fate." In which case, perhaps this is the section from LW 33:

Now, if you are disturbed by the thought that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God when he damns the undeserving, that is to say, ungodly men who are what they are because they were born in ungodliness and can in no way help being and remaining ungodly and damnable, but are compelled by a necessity of nature to sin and to perish (as Paul says: “We were all children of wrath like the rest,” since they are created so by God himself from seed corrupted by the sin of the one man Adam)—rather must God be honored and revered as supremely merciful toward those whom he justifies and saves, supremely unworthy as they are, and there must be at least some acknowledgement of his divine wisdom so that he may be believed to be righteous where he seems to us to be unjust. For if his righteousness were such that it could be judged to be righteous by human standards, it would clearly not be divine and would in no way differ from human righteousness. But since he is the one true God, and is wholly incomprehensible and inaccessible to human reason, it is proper and indeed necessary that his righteousness also should be incomprehensible, as Paul also says where he exclaims: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” But they would not be incomprehensible if we were able in every instance to grasp how they are righteous. What is man, compared with God? How much is there within our power compared with his power? What is our strength in comparison with his resources? What is our knowledge compared with his wisdom? What is our substance over against his substance? In a word, what is our all compared with his?[LW 33:289]

Cole:
And if you are concerned about this,—that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God, seeing that, he damns the undeserving, that is, those who are for that reason ungodly, because, being born in iniquity, they cannot by any means prevent themselves from being ungodly, and from remaining so, and being damned, but are compelled from the necessity of nature to sin and perish, as Paul saith, " We all were the children of wrath, even as others," when at the same time, they were created such by God himself from a corrupt seed, by means of the sin of Adam,—

Here God is to be honoured and revered, as being' most merciful towards those, whom he justifies and saves under all their unworthiness: and it is to be in no small degree ascribed unto his wisdom, that he causes'us to believe him to be just, even where he appears to be unjust. For if his righteousness were such, that it Was considered to be righteousness according to human judgment, it would be no longer divine, nor would it in any thing differ from human righteousness. But as he is the one and true God, and moreover incomprehensible and inaccessible by human reason, it is right, nay, it is necessary, that his righteousness should be incomprehensible:'even as Paul exclaims, saying, " Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! " But they would be no longer " past finding out" if we were in all things able to see how they were righteous. What is man, compared with God! What can our power do, when compared with his power! What is our strength, compared with his strength! What is our knowledge compared with his wisdom! What is our substance, compared with his substance! In a word, what is all that we are, compared with all that he is!


This quote from LW 33 is also a possibility:

But let us imagine, if you will, that God ought to be of such a character as to take account of merits in those who are to be damned. Must we not equally maintain and allow that he should take account of merits also in those who are to be saved? If we wish to follow reason, it is just as unfair that the undeserving should be rewarded as that the undeserving should be punished. Let us then conclude that God must justify men on the basis of preceding merits, or else we shall declare him unjust, since he takes pleasure in evil and ungodly men, and encourages and crowns their ungodliness with rewards. But alas then for us wretched mortals in the hands of that God! For who will be saved? Observe, therefore, the wickedness of the human heart! When God saves the unworthy without merits, or rather justifies the ungodly with their many demerits, it does not accuse him of injustice; it does not demand to know why he wills this, which in its judgment is most unjust, but because it is advantageous and pleasing to itself it deems it just and good. But when he damns those without merit, then since this is disadvantageous to itself, it is unjust, it is intolerable, and here there is protesting, murmuring, and blaspheming. [LW 33:207]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Luther's Christmas Sermons

Here's a sampling of some of Luther's Christmas sermons I have bookmarked:

Luther's Christmas Sermons Epistles by J.N Lenker

Martin Luther's Christmas Book By Roland H. Bainton

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, Matthew 21:1-9 -- Christ's Advent into Jerusalem

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent, Luke 21:25-36 -- The Signs of Christ's Second Coming

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent, Matthew 11:2-10 -- a marvelous sermon with a great section on the distinction between Law and Gospel.

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, John 1:19-28 -- John the Baptist's confession and the true preacher.

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14 -- An Exhortation to Good Works

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent, Romans 15:4-13 -- An Exhortation to Bear with the Weak

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 - A sermon on the Office of the Ministry

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, Philippians 4:4-7 - A sermon on Christian living; "on how to let God be everything to us"; with sections on true Christian freedom, rejoicing, and prayer.

Sermon for the Principal Christmas Service, John 1:1-14 -- Christ's Titles of Honor and His Attributes

Sermon for the Early Christmas Day Service, Luke 2:15-20 -- A sermon on the power and fruit of the Word of God

Sermon for Christmas Day, Luke 2:1-14 -- One of Luther's most famous sermons.

Sermon for Christmas Eve, Titus 2:11-14 -- Luther at his best

Second Sermon for Christmas Day, Titus 3:4-8 -- Statements on grace, faith, good works, and Baptism

Sermon for the Sunday after Christmas, Luke 2:33-40 -- On Simeon and Anna

Sermon for the Sunday after Christmas, Galatians 4:1-7 -- The People of Law and Grace; a great sermon that presents the true understanding of justification by faith and the function of the Law; Of interest to the JDDJ debate is this quote: "Note, Paul everywhere teaches justification, not by works, but solely by faith; and not as a process, but instantaneous. The testament includes in itself everything--justification, salvation, the inheritance and great blessing. Through faith it is instantaneously enjoyed, not in part, but all" (par. 37).

Sermon on the Afternoon of Christmas Day Luke 2:1-14, December 25, 1530

The Story of Jesus' Birth: A Sermon by Martin Luther- The great theologian's powerful reimagining of the Christmas story.

“To Us a Child Is Born”: Sermon on Isaiah 9:6 (PDF)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To Mary, For Heretics

A prayer from the 1910 Edition of The Raccolta or Collection of Indulgenced Prayer and Good Works:

Prayer for the Conversion of Heretics and Schismatics.

O MARY, Mother of mercy and Refuge of sinners, we beseech thee to look with pitying- eyes on heretical and schismatical nations. Do thou, who art the Seat of wisdom, illuminate their minds, wretchedly involved in the darkness of ignorance and sin, that they may know the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church to be the only true Church of JESUS CHRIST, out of which no sanctity or salvation can be found. Finally, complete their conversion by obtaining- for them the grace to believe every truth of our holy Faith, and to submit to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of JESUS CHRIST on earth, that thus, being soon united to us by the bonds of divine charity, they may make with us but one fold under one and the same pastor, and that we may thus, O glorious Virgin, all sing exultingly for ever, "Rejoice, O Virgin Mary! alone thou hast destroyed all heresies in the whole world." Amen. (source, pg. 205)


Monday, December 21, 2009

Luther: Not for a thousand years has God bestowed such great gifts on any bishop as He has on me

Here's another obscure Luther quote I found on the CARM boards: "Not for a thousand years has God bestowed such great gifts on any bishop as He has on me"(Luther's Works, Erlangen ed., 61:422)" One Roman Catholic apologist uses a longer version, "Not for a thousand years has God bestowed such great gifts on any bishop as He has on me; for it is our duty to extol God's gifts . . ." He pulled the quote from Grisar. The Romanist comments, "let's marvel at Luther's numerous self-exalting, comically surreal utterances placing himself far above the fathers." The quote is one of a bundle this Romanist uses to impugn Luther. The point: this statement is supposed to prove Luther thought he was greater than those who came before him.

The Romanist use of this quote, once again proves, context is not his friend. The historical context surrounds the death of Luther's daughter Magdalen, and one of the "great gifts" was.... his daughter:

When his daughter was very ill, he said: ' I love her well; yet, O my God! if it be thy will to take her hence, I will resign her, without regret, into thy hands.' As she lay in bed, he said to her: ' My dear little daughter, my darling Magdalen, thou wouldst, doubtless, willingly remain here with thy poor father, but thou wouldst also go hence willingly to thy other father, if he call thee to him?' She replied: ' Yes, my dear father, as God shall please.' ' Dear girl,' returned Luther, ' 'tis not with thee that the spirit alone is willing. He then walked up and down the room for some time, saying to himself, but half aloud: ' Ah, I have loved her dearly! ... If her flesh be so strong, what must her spirit be?'

"He further said, among other things, 'God has not, for a thousand years, bestowed so many great gifts upon any bishop as he has upon me. One should duly appreciate and pride oneself upon such gifts; but—I am mad with myself for it—I do not enough rejoice at them in my heart: I do not sufficiently return thanks for them. I sing, indeed, from time to time, a little song of praise to the Lord, but 'tis very inadequate.' . . . ' Well, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's; so, courage, doctor!' [source]


The Romanist uses the same quote in his Martin Luther's Humility, Expressed in His Statements About Himself and His Mission. This Romanist isn't alone. He shares his company with Peter Wiener, and (surprisingly) Hartmann Grisar (in volume 4 of his series on Luther).

The actual comment is a Table Talk comment, located in LW 54:430

No. 5494: Illness of Luther’s Daughter Becomes Graver September, 1542

When the illness of his daughter became graver he [Martin Luther] said, “I love her very much. But if it is thy will to take her, dear God, I shall be glad to know that she is with thee.”Afterward he said to his daughter, who was lying in bed, “Dear Magdalene, my little daughter, you would be glad to stay here with me, your father. Are you also glad to go to your Father in heaven?” The sick girl replied, “Yes, dear Father, as God wills.” The father said, “You dear little girl!” [Then he turned away from her and said,] “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak [Matt. 26:41]. I love her very much. If this flesh is so strong, what must the spirit be?” Among other things he then said, “In the last thousand years God has given to no bishop such great gifts as he has given to me (for one should boast of God’s gifts), i'm angry with myself that I’m unable to rejoice from my heart and be thankful to God, though I do at times sing a little song and thank God. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s [Rom. 14:8]—in the genitive singular and not in the nominative plural.”


The Life and Letters of Martin Luther provides somewhat of a different version:

As his daughter lay very ill, Dr. Luther said: "I love her very much, but dear God, if it be thy will to take her, I submit to thee." Then he said to her as she lay in bed: " Magdalene, my dear little daughter, would you like to stay here with your father, or would you willingly go to your Father yonder ? " She answered: " Darling father, as God wills." Then said he: " Dearest child, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Then he turned away and said: " I love her very much; if my flesh is so strong, what can my spirit do? God has given no bishop so great a gift in a thousand years as he has given me in her. I am angry with myself that I cannot rejoice in heart and be thankful as I ought."

Yes, let's indeed marvel at Luther's statement: the reported statement of a father watching his daughter die. Shame on some Romanists for not doing a basic Google search to locate the quote before using it it to malign Luther. If anything is "comically surreal" it's the effort some put in to their research.


Addendum (12/22/12)
I was sent a link to a website "exposing" Calvinism because it contained a bunch of Luther quotes. The same quote is found in a pdf e-book from this site:
“Not for a thousand years has God bestowed such great gifts on any bishop, such as those He bestowed on me!” [6]
[6] Museum of foreign literature, science and art, By Robert Walsh, Eliakim Littell, John Jay Smith,Published by E. Littell., 1839,Item notes: v.35 1839,Original from the University of Michigan,Digitized Oct 31, 2005, Page 329 http://cc.msnscache.com/cache.aspx?q=72289142394310&mkt=en-US&lang=en- US&w=b2466ad1&FORM=CVRE
The book cited in footnote 6 is available from Google Books. On page 329 it provides a number of quotes from Luther (without documentation), and uses the quote in this paragraph:
'At Leipsic, at Augsburg, and at Worms, my spirit was as free as a flower of the field.' 'He whom God moves to speak, expresses himself openly and freely, careless whether he is alone or has others on his side. So spake Jeremiah, and I may boast of having done the same. God has not for the last thousand years bestowed on any bishop such great gifts as on me, and it is right that I should extol his gifts. Truly, I am indignant with myself that I do not heartily rejoice and give thanks. Now and then I raise a faint hymn of thanksgiving, and feebly praise Him. Well! live or die, Do mini sumus. You may take the word either in the genitive or the nominative case. Therefore, Sir Doctor, be firm.'
This paragraph is from multiple contexts. The sentence, "At Leipsic, at Augsburg, and at Worms, my spirit was as free as a flower of the field" is from 1524. It's found in LW 40:53 (Letter to the Princes of Saxony Concerning the Rebellious Spirit). The sentence about Jeremiah is also from a different context also, Against the Heavenly Prophets in the Matter of Images and Sacraments (1525) [LW 40:144]. Then tacked on is the Table Talk comment from 1542.

Luther: I have greater confidence in my wife and my pupils than I have in Christ


Here's another obscure Table Talk quote I was able to track down: “I have greater confidence in my wife and my pupils than I have in Christ” (Table Talk, 2397b). I came across it recently on the CARM boards. It's found in Peter F. Wiener's Martin Luther, Hitler's spiritual Ancestor, as well as on the Roman Catholic web page, Luther Exposing the Myth. Wiener is probably the chief culprit. He states, "Luther does not always see eye to eye with God or Christ. 'I have greater confidence in my wife and my pupils than I have in Christ,' he said on one occasion quite shamelessly (“Table Talk”, 2397b)." Just launch a basic Google search and you'll see this quote in action.

I've been amazed by this old version of the Table Talk that's surfaced: The familiar discourses of dr. Martin Luther. It's been a goldmine for providing contexts to quotes I've searched for for years. Here's the context:

That God is more loving unto us than a Father towards his Children

GOD hath a better and more friendly heart towards his faithful ones, than a father or mother can have towards their children; as God himself saith in the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter xlix. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion of the son of her womb? yea, they, may forget, yet will not I forget thee, &c. But God must have patience with us. I believe that St. Paul was at enmity with himself, because he could not believe and love Christ so entirely as willingly he would have done. Fie on the devil, and on our wicked flesh, that we cannot believe and trust in God, who hath given us so great and manifold benefits, and still doth give us all his goodnesses, I myself must confess, that I can put more trust in my wife, and in every one of my friends, than in Christ: when as, notwithstanding, I well know, that none among them all would do and suffer for me that which he suffered, namely, to be crucified and slain for me.

So again, context presents quite a different picture than Wiener's "Luther said quite shamelessly...". Luther Exposing the Myth misuses this quote and actually perpetuates a myth. The context presents a sentiment expressing the fact that it is wrong and sinful to put trust in anyone more than Christ.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Luther: To be continent and chaste is not in me


Earlier Roman Catholic approaches to Luther concentrated heavily on Luther “the person” as a means of evaluating the validity of his theology. In this approach, a strong emphasis on vilifying Luther’s character was the primary means of discrediting the Reformation. This method made it all the way to the early twentieth century with most Roman Catholic scholars, and then lived on with Roman Catholic laymen, apologists, and some parish priests till the age of the Internet. Over the years I've documented this fact often, particularly by examining obscure Luther quotes that are now circulating the Internet, normally pulled from earlier Roman Catholic evaluations.

While going through St. Jerome related material, I came across this by "Brother Francis, M.I.C.M". Brother Francis cited Luther stating, "To be continent and chaste is not in me." The idea behind citing Luther saying something outrageous like this is to show Luther didn't care about sexual morality or restraining anyone, including himself, from sin. In fact, some go as far to assert Luther himself was not chaste. Some earlier Roman Catholic works charge that Luther and his fiance were not chaste with each other previous to their marriage. Roman Catholicism, in comparison to this caricature of Luther, is then touted as placing a great emphasis on chastity, morality, and leading a holy life. Protestantism fails, Rome wins.

The late Brother Francis provided a brief overview of Jerome, describing Jerome's asceticism. Then he made the following comment about Luther's morality:

Let the reader take note of Saint Jerome’s vigilance against temptations. In this, he is in stark contrast to that sixteenth-century cleric who pretended himself to translate and comment on the Scriptures. Luther, suffering the same temptations, chose to succumb rather than to curb them as did Saint Jerome. The "Reformer" frankly admits in his diary that, "To be continent and chaste is not in me." Ironically claiming foundation for his heresy in the writings of Saint Paul, Luther acted as if he had never read those words of the Apostle to the Gentiles, "But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:27); and "Keep thyself chaste." (I Timothy 5:22)

Instead, Luther started a new religion, in which, "Sin will not destroy us in the reign of the Lamb, although we were to commit fornication a thousand times in one day." (Luther’s Letter to Melanchthon, August 1, 1521) Unlike Luther, Saint Jerome fulfilled in his person the wise counsel that he himself had given: "Love the science of Scripture, and you will not love the vices of the flesh."

Bibliographic Information: Luther's diary
I've covered the second quote in depth. The first quote though, "To be continent and chaste is not in me" is said to come from something called Luther's diary. In fact, if you do a web search you'll see the reference given is usually Luther's diary. This quote is often linked with "Why do I sit soaked in wine? ..." Leslie Rumble's and Carty's Radio Replies series says:

269. Do you know of any good in Luther?

Intellectually, not much. He declared that reason was of the devil, and that the Christian must regard it as his greatest enemy. Morally, less still. St. Paul says that those who are Christ's have crucified their flesh with its vices and concupiscences. Gal 5:24. That Luther indulged his vices and concupiscences is clear from his writings, where he gives disgraceful descriptions of his own indulgence in everything passionate. His diaries record shocking excesses of sensuality, which could not be printed in any decent book today. A true Apostle of Christ does not give vent to such expressions as, "To be continent and chaste is not in me," or, "Why do I sit soaked in wine." I do not say these things merely to detract from the memory of Luther. But it is not right that people should be duped by the thought that Luther was a well-balanced and saintly reformer. He was not entirely devoid of good qualities. He was endowed with a certain kindness and generosity. But this does not compensate for his vices. He should have controlled his sentimentality and emotional nature in the light of Christian principles. He did not, but gave free rein to his lower passions, calmly saying that a man has to do so, and will not be responsible for such conduct.


I think it's safe to say Radio Replies is probably the source of the documentation of Luther's diary and the source used by Brother Francis.
So, exactly where is this diary? A Wikipedia article refers to "Helmar Junghans, 'Luther's Diary,' in The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, ed. Donald K. McKim (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 26." If you go to that page though via the "look inside" feature, you won't find anything about a diary, which is yet another reason not to be bowing to the fount of Wiki-wisdom. In fact, I don't recall ever hearing about Luther's diary. It is possible indeed that Luther kept a diary, but if he did, it's alluded my readings, or I simply don't remember it.

Before I simply accuse Roman Catholics of making up a reference, a particular section of Luther's Table Talk is sometimes referred to as a diary (pieces 3683 to 4719). They were those entries compiled from the notes of Anthony Lauterbach. I don't think though Rumble and Carty, perhaps the originator of the phrase Luther's diary, had this specific fact in mind. I can't though think of any other writing from Luther besides the Table Talk would fit the description: "record[s] shocking excesses of sensuality." I have my doubts that this is a Table Talk statement though. I have my suspicion it comes from another source. Rumble and Carty didn't mean to provide a bogus reference, but they did.

Possible Source
The trick is trying to locate the source Radio Replies used. Nine out of ten times with a source like Radio Replies we can rule out the obscure quote comes from a direct reading of Luther, but was rather taken from a secondary source. Perhaps they used Three Reformers: Luther, Descartes, Rousseau By Jacques Maritain:
Now [Luther] has hardly strength to stand against the malignant fevers of nature. " I am," he will admit three years later, " I am but a man prone to let himself be swept off his feet by society, drunkenness, the movements of the flesh . . ." And again in a sermon of the same period on the state of marriage, " What is needed to live in continence is not in me."

I would be more sure of the source used if I found the "soaked in wine" comment in Maritain, but it isn't there. Maritain doesn't provide a source for the quote in question, but the "three years later" is 1519. This is verified by a similar Luther comment found in Denifle's Luther and Lutherdom Vol. 1. He cites Luther stating "I have not so much of myself, that I can keep continent" from a 1519 sermon:

In January of the same year, the state of his soul in these respects was disclosed in even more glaring colors. Preaching on the married state, he said: "It is a shameful attack (on chastity and virginity). I have known it well. I imagine you ought also to know it. Oh I know it well, when the devil comes and excites the flesh and sets it on fire. Therefore let one bethink himself well beforehand and prove himself, whether he can live in chastity, for when the fire is burning, I know well how it is, and the attack comes, the eye is already blind," and so on. "I have not so much of myself, that I can keep continent."

The sermon Denifle mentions is A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage (1519) located in LW 44. No such statements though as those produced by Denifle appear in LW 44. It is most probable Denifle used the earlier unauthorized version that was published without Luther's knowledge, and printed in WA 9. Grisar quotes some of the same material and says it comes from "the first non-expurgated form of the sermon." He also explains that Luther revised the sermon because of embarrassment at the early unauthorized version. Luther though explains the revision himself:

A sermon on the estate of marriage has already been published in my name, but I would much rather it had not. I know perfectly well that I have preached on the subject, but it has never been put into writing yet, as I am about to do at this moment. For this reason I determined to revise this same sermon, and improve it as much as possible. I ask every good soul to disregard the first sermon published and discard it. Further, if anybody wants to start writing my sermons for me, let him restrain himself, and let me have a say in the publication of my words as well. There is a vast difference between using the spoken word to make something clear and having to use the written word. [LW 44:5].

Which version of the facts one believes is determined by presuppositions. I assume many Roman Catholics would follow Grisar and think Luther was embarrassed by what he actually said, and therefore revised the sermon. Therefore, quoting a bootleg unauthorized version is perfectly acceptable in determining the actual position of Martin Luther on marriage, chastity, or basic morality. Those sympathetic to Luther, viewing him as a fundamentally honest person with good intentions that didn't approve of the bootleg sermon will accept his reasons for such a revision. As to the actual citations produced by Denifle and Grisar, I don't find them all that embarrassing. That Luther got married is a sign he followed his own advice.

I think it's fairly safe to conclude "To be continent and chaste is not in me" as quoted by Brother Francis and Radio Replies originally came from the unauthorized version of A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage (1519). How they came upon the quote was not the result of a direct reading of Luther, but rather from a secondary source. The idea of "Luther's Diary" is yet another myth, perpetuated by Roman Catholics.

Final Thoughts
I've covered similar charges against Luther here. These type of Roman Catholic charges against Luther ultimately fail because, as the cliche goes, they can't see the forest for the trees. By focusing on a minor detail from a bootleged sermon, they neglect the overt historical fact that Luther lived the first part of his life as a celibate monk. He then lived the remainder of his life as a devoted husband. There is no historical record that exists that substantiates Luther being a womanizer or unchaste. On the other hand, there are countless sermons and writings of Luther exhorting his congregation and readers to moral purity. Did Luther struggle with the urge to have sex? If he did, he isn't different than most people, nor is he to be maligned for such a desire. The bigger debate is obviously whether or not celibacy is somehow more holy. This was one of the debates Luther concerned himself with, and one of the main discussions in the early years of the Reformation. Luther's reform imperatives on the holiness of marriage emptied more than a few monasteries, and freed more than a few from an unbiblical vow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Purgatory Legends

I came across a legend relating to purgatory and All Soul's Day and thought I would share it. I'm not sure exactly how old this legend is or how popular it was, but I did find it mentioned in a few books. Almost all of the books attribute the legend to a book on Odilo of Cluny (Vita Odilonis) written by Cardinal Peter Damiani who died in 1072.

Schaff's account of St. Peter Damiani gives a short but interesting history, including the following:

He systematized and popularized a method of meritorious self-flagellation in connection with the recital of the Psalms; each Psalm was accompanied with a hundred strokes of a leathern thong on the bare back, the whole Psalter with fifteen thousand strokes. This penance became a rage, and many a monk flogged himself to death to the music of the Psalms for his own benefit, or for the release of souls in purgatory. The greatest expert was Dominicus, who wore an iron cuirass around his bare body (hence called Loricatus), and so accelerated the strokes that he absolved without a break twelve Psalters; at last he died of exhaustion(1063). Even noble women ardently practiced “hoc purgatorii genus,” as Damiani calls it. He defended this self-imposed penance against the opponents as a voluntary imitation of the passion of Christ and the sufferings of martyrs, but he found it necessary also to check unnatural excesses among his disciples, and ordered that no one should be forced to scourge himself, and that forty Psalms with four thousand strokes at a time should be sufficient as a rule.


The legend below is probably not too popular anymore, although the Holy Souls Crusade did include the legend in their November 2006 newsletter.

It was St. Odilo of Cluny who first appointed one day every year to be set aside in a special manner for prayer for the faithful departed.

It happened that a certain religious belonging to France was returning home from Palestine, where he had gone to visit the places consecrated by the foot steps of Our Lord when He was on earth. A tempest arose when crossing the Mediterranean Sea, and he was cast upon a desert island. There dwelt on this island a holy hermit who lived in a cave, conversing continually with God, and leading a life of austerity and penance. He received the stranger thus cast upon his island home with great charity, and when he learned that he was from France he suddenly said to him: "Do you know a certain abbey in France which is governed by a venerable Abbot named Odilo?"

Yes," replied the stranger, "I know the Abbey of Cluny, and also the saintly Odilo; but how have you come to know him here in this solitary place?"

There is," replied the hermit, "not far from this cave a deep chasm from which issue terrible flames.

In the midst of these flames I have seen millions of souls suffering most agonizing tortures for the faults they committed when on earth. Wicked spirits are there by permission of God to increase their punishment, tormenting them without ceasing, until their expiation is completed. In the midst of the rightful cries that arise from the abyss, I heard the evil spirits complain, in words of the deepest rage and hatred, that many of these souls were snatched from them long before the time fixed for the termination of their punishment, and were led to Heaven in triumph by the prayers and alms of the faithful, and in particular by the prayers and penances of Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, and his religious.

Wherefore I beg of you, in the name of God," continued the hermit, "to relate faithfully on your return to France what I have now told you, and to ask these pious and saintly religious, and the venerable Abbot Odilo, to continue their holy prayers and alms and even to augment them, that the happiness of the blessed in Heaven may be increased, and that the evil spirits may be confounded more and more."

On his return to his native country, this religious went to Cluny, and in the presence of Odilo and his community related what the hermit had told him. Then Odilo, to commemorate the event, and to increase in the hearts of those under his charge a greater devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory, appointed November 2 as a day when special prayers and Masses should be offered up for the repose of the faithful departed. This soon spread over the whole Church, and is known by the name of "All Souls Day."

The Catechism in Examples, Vol. 5 (pg. 146)


Advice For Angry Roman Catholics From Saint Jerome


It's so easy to lose our tempers over those subjects that we're passionate about. Sure, I've gotten heated up over the years. Sometimes it's necessary to be angry. On the other hand, sometimes we're right, but yet the way we express it is... less than charitable.

Because of some of the angry or mean comments left on this blog by those zealous for their beliefs, I've often thought of turning the comment section off. I don't babysit the comments. But I think I've come up with another solution, thanks to a tip from a professional Roman Catholic apologist. The solution actually will be more painful for angry Romanists if they take their faith seriously.

Recently I went to see a lecture by Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid. At the end, he took audience questions. One person asked for advice on how to remain calm when people either attack Roman Catholicism or the basic tenets of Christian morality. As part of his answer, Madrid told a brief story about how Saint Jerome sought to control his personality. You can hear an mp3 of Madrid telling the story here. According to Madrid, Jerome would beat himself with a rock to subdue his mean personality.

Now before anyone accuses me of... anything, it was Madrid who gave the advice, not me. Of course, Madrid went on to mention prayer, but the example of Jerome was presented as positive advice.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Calling Owners of Kindles

I have been slightly interested in Amazon's Kindle since it first came out, but I prefer to read from a real book rather than from a screen. However, the second generation Kindle has piqued my interest with the built in PDF reader. The reason being is that I find many great older books on Google Books (GB) or the Internet Archive (IA) that I would like to read and reading on the Kindle sounds a bit more appealing than reading from my laptop.

And now I have noticed that the Internet Archive is offering many of it's books in a Kindle format. That seems like a great benefit and again has me thinking about buying a Kindle. But I thought I would see if any of our readers here own a Kindle and what their opinions are.

I am specifically interested in anyone's experiences with using their Kindle to read books off of GB or IA - is it worth owning a Kindle primarily for that purpose? Is the Kindle useful for more research-type use (highlighting/notes) or really only suited for casual reading?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17

John 17:20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

Our friends in Rome like to point out that Jesus prayed in His "high priestly prayer" at the Last Supper that His followers would be in "complete unity", that they would "all...be one, Father..." So, they ask, why aren't Sola Scripturists joined together in perfect unity, as one institution, the Church? Did Jesus' prayer fail? Don't you Calvinists always say that God's will is always performed successfully?

We respond (for example, here, said far better than I ever could) that the unity Christ prayed for was not organisational or institutional in nature, but rather spiritual, as God builds together the Body of Christ into spiritual union with Christ. Presumably, RCs and Eastern Orthodox do not accept this identification of the unity Christ prayed for, but rather insist that the unity is institutional and organisational in nature. Let us see whether their contention holds water.

1) It has been proven over and over again on this blog alone that this claimed unity within Eastern Orthodoxy and Rome does not exist in reality.

2) Our opponents criticise the Calvinistic doctrine of God's preservation of His saints, once justified, as a violation of the free will of each person (not to mention other points of Calvinism, such as irresistible grace). Yet the very building of an institutional unity into a group of disparate and different people who have sinful tendencies, in order to bring an answer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus, would require "violation" of their free will. I mean, Protestants are creatures "blessed" with free will, and just look how organised they are, in their sin! (There are RCs who are more Augustinian and who are less; this would be an argument against the latter and against EO-dox.)

3) On that same topic, take a look at John 17:15 - "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one."
Isn't it RC and EO dogma that God does not preserve His believers, but that they can in fact fall out of a state of grace? Didn't Jesus' prayer thus fail here (on RC and EO presuppositions)?

4) More pointedly, apparently the fact that we Sola Scripturists are not in communion with the RCC or the EOC is not an obstacle to our eventually landing in Heaven.
Whenever the Sacrament of Baptism is duly administered as Our Lord instituted it, and is received with the right dispositions, a person is truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: "You were buried together with Him in Baptism, and in Him also rose again-through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead".

Baptism therefore establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it. But of itself Baptism is only a beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism, therefore, envisages a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation in the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting in eucharistic communion.

Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.

23. The daily Christian life of these brethren is nourished by their faith in Christ and strengthened by the grace of Baptism and by hearing the word of God. This shows itself in their private prayer, their meditation on the Bible, in their Christian family life, and in the worship of a community gathered together to praise God. (source, emph. mine)
Or:
For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ... Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (source, emph. mine)
In short, we Sola Scripturists are, by virtue of RCC's ex cathedra statement, united with Christ and thus on our way to Heaven (unless we commit a mortal sin, of course, but our Sola Scriptura convictions, refusal to participate in transsubstantiated Eucharistic suppers, and failure to join RCC are obviously not mortal sins, else they wouldn't have talked about being united with Christ, etc).
And my EO debate counterpart believes I am not headed to Hell as well.

Now, since we are united with Christ but not in communion with institutional RCC or EOC, since Christ prayed that His disciples would be united with Him, and since the RC and EO claim that Christ's prayer for unity would certainly not fail to be granted, we can conclude that Christ's prayer has either not yet been granted or that the unity He had in mind was not institutional / organisational unity. Either of these conclusions declaws the original argument cited at the beginning of this post.

(Also see TurretinFan's recent dealing with this passage and similar topics.)


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three excellent sermons on God’s Sovereign Grace by John Piper in John chapter 6

1. Skeptical Grumbling and Sovereign Grace – John 6:41-51


http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/BySeries/86/4404_Skeptical_Grumbling_and_Sovereign_Grace/


Excerpt:
“First, what does Jesus mean by “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”? If we just stay in the Gospel of John, and work our way out from the near context to the farther, what becomes clear is that Jesus means not that he draws everyone and then some of them provide the decisive impulse and come, but that everyone whom he draws actually comes. The drawing is the decisive impulse. We will see it again and again in this Gospel that this drawing is not at all in conflict with our choosing to come and our freely coming because we want to come. But his drawing is decisive. And without it no one would come.

5 Clarifications and Confirmations

Consider 5 passages which say essentially the same thing and confirm and clarify this understanding.

1.1) John 6:37. We saw this verse last week. “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37). In the flow of thought here between verses 37and 44, I don’t think there is any reason to view the Father’s giving people to Jesus (verse 37), and the Father’s drawing people to Jesus (verse 44) as different experiences. I think they are the same. And Jesus says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me”—not some of them will come to me, but all of them. So there is good reason to think that verse 44 means, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” because all that he draws, all that he gives, will come to me. The drawing is the deciding cause. Inside our seeing Christ as compellingly desirable is God’s drawing, God’s opening our eyes.

1.2) John 6:63-65. Here Jesus explicitly refers back to verse 44 and applies the truth of verse 44 to those who do not come, especially Judas.
He says, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Then John inserts, “(For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)”—a reference to Judas in particular. Then Jesus continues in verse 65 by referring back to verse 44. “And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’”
Notice the logical connection between what Jesus says in verse 64 (“There are some of you who do not believe”—like Judas) and what he says in verse 65 (“This is why—or on account of this, what I said back in verse 44—no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”). Because there are unbelievers—like Judas—that’s why I said no one can come without being drawn (verse 44) or being granted (verse 65) to come. If the Father’s drawing, or the Father’s granting (as Jesus means it in these verses), were something he did for all people, this would seem to make no sense. He would be saying, “I know that there is a Judas among my disciples, and that is why I told you that it takes a universal drawing of everyone for anyone to be able to come.” But a universal drawing of everyone doesn’t explain Judas. What verse 65 is saying is this: There is a Judas among my disciples, and that’s why I made the point that no one can come unless God draws him. God has not drawn Judas in this way. God has not “granted” him to come. He has left him in the rebellion of his greed and stealing and unbelief.”




2. They will all be taught of God – John 6:41-51
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/BySeries/86/4430_They_Will_All_Be_Taught_of_God/

Excerpts:
From Every Tribe, Tongue, People, and Nation
These last words describe the scope of Jesus’ death as John presents it in this Gospel. Jesus died not just for one ethnic group, but “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” This is a reference to Gentiles whom God will effectively draw to himself when they hear the gospel. They are called “children of God” because God has chosen them to be adopted, as Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-5. So if this is a good parallel, then the all in John 12:32 is not all human beings, but “all the children of God.” “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all the children of God to myself.” From every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9).
. . .
“How did he draw you? Here our focus is on John 6:45-47. After saying in verse 44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day,” Jesus says,
It is written in the Prophets, “And they will all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

Drawn by Being Taught

The answer John gives to how the Father draws people to the Son is by teaching them. “No one can come unless the Father draws him . . . . It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’” So the connection between drawing and teaching is clear. The drawn are the taught. They are drawn by being taught.
And the connection between being taught and coming to Christ is unbreakable. No one is taught and then decides not to come. The teaching produces the coming. You see that most clearly in the second half of verse 45.
Verse 45 says, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” (This is why I said this verse confirms our understanding of John 12:32.) Not some of them come. All of them come. So Jesus uses at least three phrases to describe how the Father draws people to Jesus. He calls it “being taught,” and he calls it “hearing from” God, and he calls it “learning from” God. “‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”


3. It is the Spirit that Gives Life – John 6:52-71

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/BySeries/86/4438_It_Is_the_Spirit_That_Gives_Life/
Excerpt:

“But what does eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking the blood of Jesus mean? This was incredibly offensive language. It sounded like cannibalism. And it was especially offensive for Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries because the Mosaic law prohibited eating any flesh with the blood in it, let alone drinking blood itself (Leviticus 19:26).
The answer is the same thing we saw in John 6:35. There Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Coming to Jesus as the bread of life to still the hunger of your soul is the same as believing in him. That’s what believing is. It is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.

Now see the same thing with the more graphic language of flesh and blood. Notice the very close parallel between verse 40 and verse 54.

Verse 54: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Verse 40: “Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

This parallel (just like the parallel in the first and second half of John 6:35) shows that, in Jesus’ mind, eating his flesh and drinking his blood are a figurative way of saying: Believe in me, trust me, receive me, get your nourishment from me. Get life from me. St. Augustine said, “Believe and you have eaten” (In Johan. Tract. xxvi. 1).

So the pervasive offer of this chapter from beginning to end is: Anyone may have eternal life if they will receive Jesus and trust in Jesus and treasure Jesus and be satisfied with all that God is for them in Jesus. Whoever feeds on my flesh—that is, whoever believes in me—has eternal life. I abide in you and my life becomes your life—forever.

Pointing Forward to the Cross

And we can be more specific about how Jesus gives us eternal life. When he says in verse 51, “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh,” he is referring to giving his flesh as a sacrifice for the world. He is talking about his flesh and blood being given as a substitution for the world. In other words, he is pointing forward to the cross.

Remember he already referred to the cross in John 3:14-15 where he said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” So when he talks in chapter 6 about eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus, he means trust him as one who dies for you. Receive him as one who gives his life for you. Treasure him as one who bears God’s wrath for you (John 3:26). Feed on all that God is for you in him because of his suffering flesh and shed blood."