Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How many micro-Calvinist groups use mainly the Letter to the Romans?

Here's a fun little snippet from Catholic Answers, where the "answer" makes too much sense but still has to be wrong.

Old Yesterday, 10:13 pm
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Default Re: The books that Martin Luther took out of the bible.

Originally Posted by po18guy View Post
How many micro-Calvinist groups use mainly the Letter to the Romans? I saw a flyer on a car windshield that even proclaimed the "Romans Road" to salvation!
This is a bit off-topic, but as a Calvinist, here's how I would answer.

In the old days, when I bought my first computer and printer, I actually had to get the instruction manual out to learn how to hook up the printer. This was in 1990. Now, the instruction manual mentioned the printer all over the place, but when I needed specific instructions on hooking up the printer, I had to go to the specific section in the manual that addressed hooking up the printer.

This analogy explains why Calvinists are very interested in Romans. While the Bible speaks about salvation and justification throughout, the specific place where it addresses justification in great detail is the book of Romans. In other words, if I want to learn about any particular Biblical topic, it's best to go to the specific place that topic is addressed in detail, and then move out to the other areas where it may be mentioned in passing, or not to the same extent it does in the detailed section.

I make no excuses that I see Romans as that part of the Bible that presents the most extensive discussion on justification. This doesn't mean the other parts of the Bible are not important. It simply means that one should go to to those sections of the Bible that are most relevant to a particular topic.


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Default Re: The books that Martin Luther took out of the bible.

Originally Posted by TertiumQuid View Post
This analogy explains why Calvinists are very interested in Romans. While the Bible speaks about salvation and justification throughout, the specific place where it addresses justification in great detail is the book of Romans. In other words, if I want to learn about any particular Biblical topic, it's best to go to the specific place that topic is addressed in detail, and then move out to the other areas where it may be mentioned in passing, or not to the same extent it does in the detailed section.

I make no excuses that I see Romans as that part of the Bible that presents the most extensive discussion on justification. This doesn't mean the other parts of the Bible are not important. It simply means that one should go to to those sections of the Bible that are most relevant to a particular topic.
What you say sounds logical, but it isn't really. Because thorough grounding in prior basics is still needed to prevent misunderstanding. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Luther's Faith

"Faith is the yes of the heart, a conviction on which one stakes one's life. On what does faith rest? On Christ, born of a woman, made under the Law, who died, etc., as the children pray. To this confession I say yes with the full confidence of my heart. Christ came for my sake, in order to free me from the Law, not only from the guilt of sin but also from the power of the Law. If you are able to say yes to this, you have what is called faith; and this faith does everything... but this faith does not grow by our own powers. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit is present and writes it in the heart."- Martin Luther

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Luther's Salvation

I've not had a chance to attend to the blog lately. I have though been engaged in a discussion on exactly what Lutherans mean by baptism and faith on the Carm boards: Luther's Salvation. If you're interested in exactly what Lutherans think about baptismal regeneration, the gift of faith, etc., you'll find this discussion interesting.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Someone is Wrong on the Internet

There's a recent article in Tabletalk (May 2012) by R.C. Sproul Jr. entitled, "Someone is Wrong on the Internet." R.C. Jr. was able to put something into words which I've felt for quite some time:
"Internet controversy gives us the liberty to play theological video games. That is, it is vicarious, faux drama, exciting enough to keep us tapping away at our keyboards but not so exciting that we lose sleep. We read an attack site (discernment blog, as they like to call themselves), and find that the kingdom is crumbling because Joel Osteen’s book is being carried in some LifeWay store somewhere, or because a guy in our camp invited a guy in their camp to speak at a conference. We head over to our favorite guru’s blog to get the straight skinny on just what the respectable ones are saying about this issue or that.

In all this reading, all this key-stroking, what we are really stroking is our egos. We think that by keeping up with the controversy we are really fighting the battle. And because of all the Internet play it is getting, we know it is the battle for the ages. We think we are fighting off Suleiman’s Muslim assault on Vienna, preserving Western Christianity, when all we are really doing is playing with toy soldiers. Like those who fought in the Saint Crispin’s Day battle, we can then go to our beds thinking ourselves fine fellows for having been in the fight. We, in short, aim far and miss far."
Sproul Jr. is certainly on to something. While there is certainly a need for cogent information defending the faith, in my judgment, there's a lot more stroking of the ego going on in cyberspace. This doesn't mean I think every blog or website that articulates cogent apologetics is simply ego stroking. I'm not sure who Sproul Jr. means by "our favorite guru’s blog," or if he thought this statement through, because- in probability, someone out there probably sees Sproul Jr. as a favorite guru.

I think though that Sproul Jr. gets at something important with blogging and apologetics, that is, the reason of the heart for why we do what we do. If your family is being neglected because you have to refute someone on the Internet, chances are Sproul Jr. is describing you. Or perhaps, he's describing me. It wouldn't be a bad idea for some of us to make a little survey of how much time is spent tapping away on the Internet to see where our priorities actually lie. Something to think about.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Cajetan Responds" Now Available

Well, here's one I bought a few years ago for $$ only to learn recently it's now available for around $25. The book contains excerpts in English from Cardinal Cajetan. Cardinal Cajetan was one of the leading 16th century Roman Catholic theologians, and a direct opponent of Martin Luther. To my knowledge, this is the only major translation of his writings in English.

From reading through this book since I bought it 2010, I've learned to have respect for the intellect (and demeanor) of Cajetan. I might not agree with what he was saying, but he certainly was articulate.

I've also learned to no longer pay a lot of money for rare books. I keep getting burned a few years later.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Applying Rome's Freedom to Luther's Canon

Here's something I recently posted on the Catholic Answers Non-Catholic Religions forum and also the CARM Roman Catholic board. Both of these posts went untouched in substance.

I have 2 questions for those of you fixated with Luther's comments on which books were canonical or not.

1) In the 16th Century Catholic men like Erasmus, Luther, Cajetan expressed doubts on the canonicty of some of the New Testament books. These men all share one thing in common. They formed their opinions on the canon previous to the dogmatic and binding decisions of the Council of Trent. At the Council of Trent, the question of canonicity was put forth before the Council once and for all, and they issued a dogmatic pronouncement of which books were "canon" for the entire church. Isn't the liberty that Erasmus, Luther, and Cajetan expressed simply the liberty as allowed by the Roman Catholic Church previous to dogmatic pronouncement? [By the way, if you simply respond by citing earlier councils, I'm going to then ask you if the councils you cite were ecumenical or local, and why the New Catholic Encyclopedia states: “According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon”].

2. I would like a Roman Catholic who believes that Trent closed the canon issue once and for all to explain the following riddle. Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta states:
"The fourth question of the Capita Dubitationum asked whether those books that were not included in Trent's list, but were included in the Latin Vulgate (e.g. The Book of Esdras, 4 Ezra, and 3 Maccabees), should be rejected by a Conciliar decree, or should they be passed over in silence. Only three Fathers voted for an explicit rejection. Forty-two voted that the status of these books should be passed over in silence. Eight bishops did not vote. The majority won, and Trent deliberately withheld any explicit decision on these books.
...The question of Esdras' canonical status was left theoretically open." [Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007), pp. 240-241].
If Michuta is correct, isn't it possible that there exists a book that is canonical, but not currently in the canon? If it is possible that the Bible is missing a book, and this book isn't simply hypothetical, don't you think it's a bit hypocritical to chastise Luther for making a personal opinion on canonicity previous to Trent, while you're free to speculate on the Book of Esdras, 4 Ezra, and 3 Maccabees previous to the Roman church finally setteling the issue?

Think about it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The President, our Culture, and some Preachers continue to "Evolve" in their views

1.  President Obama and his support of "gay-marriage".  
President Obama implies that Jesus would have supported "gay-marriage".   Joe Carter calls this contemptible and "blasphemous".  Indeed.  Excellent article by Joe Carter, and it appears the original site has been hacked and is down, (last time I checked) so thanks to Denny Burke, we can read the whole thing.

President Obama's Faith:  Where the President was interviewed about his faith in 2004 as a Senator, and he only called Jesus a good teacher and did not say He was Lord, Savior, or Messiah.

President Obama's Twisting of the meaning of Scripture in defense of "Gay-Marriage".

2.  This is an interesting article on how we frame the argument over the so called "same-sex marriage" (which is really no such thing) issue:

Which came from this article by Ryan Anderson:

3.  Dr. James White does an excellent job recently of responding to two pro-"gay" activists:  one is Dan Savage, who is a radical who calls for legalization of all sorts of sexual relationships, and obviously Savage hates God and the Bible.

Video response to Dan Savage, who is a very radical pro-homosexual and pro-multi-variations on human relationships.  (says we ought to free to have polygamy and ?)
Savage was speaking on the subject of "anti-bullying", but did some "bullying" of his own at Christian high school students, as he cursed the Bible at a high school and some students walked out on him, and then he mocked them.  

The other is a Matthew Vines, who is trying to re-interpret the Bible so as to use it for homosexuals.
Matthew Vines, who claims to be a Christian and gay, tries to use the Bible to promote his pro-homo view.

James White is responding:
Part 1 - 

Part 2- 

4.  The Controversy over Andy Stanley's illustration of a homosexual couple:

This is very disturbing; (Read Burke's articles for the details) even more disturbing than Barak Obama's "evolution" on "gay marriage".  (Because of the answers he gave to this issue before during the 2008 campaign, it honestly seemed like he was really for it, and according to other reports, he was for "same sex marriage" in 1996).  

Andy says lots of good things, but when he leaves out so much, he leaves so many things unsaid, and mixes the good with some bad, even the good things get twisted into a wrong meaning.  His seeker-senstive paradigm and his view, it seems, that one can be a Christian and live in constant sin (he usually says things like, "You can be a Christian, and you can be living in sin, and  you will be miserable, but still go to heaven."), seems to influence most every thing else. 

I watched Part 5, 6, 7, 8, and Part 1 and most of Part 2 of Andy's series called, "Christian" at the North Point Community Church Web-site.   Part 5 was the most shocking one, where he gave the illustration of the homosexual couple.  (Read Denny Burke's articles for the details and/or watch and listen to Andy's sermon.)  But Andy never clarified in part 6, 7 or 8; and according to other reports, he had declined to speak to the press when asked. (so far)  I also watched another sermon he did called, "The Separation of Church and Hate", which has a lot of the same theme. 

In his sermon, "When Gracie met Truthy" (Part 5 of the series, "Christian"), Andy emphasized grace over truth, at the expense of truth, even though he claimed to be "a truth-type of guy".   In this series, he seems to thinks that the most important thing the church needs to be doing is over-coming it's "branding" by our culture and unbelievers -  the wrong perception that others have of the church - that we are mean and judgmental and disputatious and angry and "homo-phobic".  Andy emphasized John 13:33-34 - "they will know you are My disciples if you have love for one another".  That is true; but sometimes the most loving thing a person can do is to rebuke sin, and judge. (think, evaluate, make a decision about something or someone)   John 7:24 says, "Do not judge according to appearances, but judge with a right judgement".   Matthew 7:6 shows that we have to have discernment and make a judgment on who is a wild pig or wild dog who will trample on holy things, and Matthew 7:15 ff shows we have to make judgments and think and discern who false prophets and false teachers are. 

From John 13:34-35,  Andy needs to keep reading into John 14 and 15.   The power to love is only possible in the power of the Holy Spirit (John 14, 16) and continually abiding in Christ. (John 15)  Later Jesus repeated the command to "love one another" in John 15:17.  Notice what comes afterward.  He seems to have forgotten John 15:17-25.  "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you." (John 15:18)    Some "branding" of us comes from personal experience with hypocrites and bad -behavior of some Christians, for sure.  However, maybe a lot of the branding comes from mis-understanding and the spreading of lies about us, because some of these unbelievers actually have real hatred of Jesus Christ Himself.  

It is true that Christians are called "disciples" of Jesus Christ, more than the word "Christian"; but that does not mean that the word itself has no value.  (it is used 3 times in the NT - Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16)  The unbelievers called them that, and it meant "follower of Christ" and it seems to  have had mocking overtones.  But 1 Peter 4:16 is a positive use of the word from Peter himself, as a result of suffering for the faith, and Peter says, "let him glorify God in that name".   I wonder if Andy remembers that the Romans also called the Christians "atheists", because of their rejection of the idols and false gods of Rome, and because the Christians said that there is only one true creator God!  (see The Martyrdom of Polycarp 3:2, for example)  Andy was right that the disciples of Jesus Christ of the first three centuries shook the world by their love and godly behavior, but they also shook the world by their preaching the gospel (Acts 17:1-6) and that includes teaching sound doctrine, warning of hell and the wrath of God; calling for repentance (Acts 17:30-31) and teaching in the church services and taking the Lord's supper, and the exercise of church discipline.  (Matthew 18:15-20; I Corinthians chapter 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Titus 3:10-11).  And those actions all came from what?  From faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and convictions about truth and doctrine.

It is true that we have a "branding" problem in our culture generally, but two wrongs don't make a right, and also, people tend to get their view of the church from the media and hollywood pundits and they are not exactly accurate. I wonder if Andy considered that the 'branding" of conservative Christians as "hateful" and "homo-phobic" and "mean", etc. are actually lies told about us, just as the Romans calling the Christians "atheists" and "cannibals" and "having sex orgies" were total lies about the Christians.   See the wikipedia entry below and sources, quote number 10 is by Bart Ehrman, who points out that the Romans didn't like the Christians because they were anti-social, not participating in the general pagan culture and celebrations, among other reasons.  Interesting. 

"On a more social, practical level, Christians were distrusted because of the secret and misunderstood nature of their worship. Words like "love feast" and talk of "eating Christ's flesh" sounded suspicious to the pagans, and Christians were suspected of cannibalism, incest, orgies, and all sorts of immorality.[11]"  

Here is another excellent article on "How to Win the Public on Homosexuality".

These two parts were especially insightful:

"Same-sex marriage doesn't radically depart from modern morality; it makes perfect sense according to contemporary mores. Blogger Rod Dreher writes:
"The reason gay marriage is so widely accepted by young Americans is not because the media have propagandized them (though it is certainly the case that the media have played a significant role in normalizing it), but because same-sex marriage follows naturally from what young Americans already believe about sex, intimacy, love, liberty, and the nature of the human person."

. . . .
Look no further for our culture's confessional statement in three points:
  1. God made me this way.
  2. He wouldn't deny my natural desires.
  3. And I don't have to explain myself to you or anyone else."
Before God turned them over to their homosexual lusts in Romans 1:26-27; God turned them over to their heterosexual lusts in Romans 1:24-25 - fornication (pre-marital sex, visiting prostitutes, modern application - pornography; and adulteries, divorces and serial divorces caused by lust and adulteries). They worshipped sex itself, as a "god".  

Monday, May 07, 2012

Recently from the Best Blog Refuting Roman Catholic Apologetics...

...From the Roman Catholic blog that knows it's better to give than receive: More Mark Shea Nonsense: False Compassion:
"As I have pointed out before, I would not recommend learning your faith from Shea. Here is another reason why."
The "reason" has to do with Mr. Shea's endorsement of "a gay guy who lived here in Seattle." Robert Sungenis has also commented on this: Mark Shea: Coming Out of the Theological Closet.

Once again, a very well-deserved hat-tip to the Catholic Champion for his efforts.


From Robert Sungenis:

"Mr. Shea is not only wrong about this, he is causing a scandal. It’s one thing not to know the facts, but when one begins his evaluation by purposely avoiding the facts, we have a serious problem. Mr. Shea chose his title “A Gay Man I Consider a Saint” and he broadcast the title and his article to the whole world. Not coincidentally, Mr. Shea positions himself as a teacher of Catholic faith and morals. One only need look at his long list of self-authored books dotting the margins of his blog; or watch him on EWTN to know that disseminating the Catholic religion is not merely his hobby. As such Mr. Shea does not have the privilege to play ignorant, especially when it concerns one of the most heinous sins known to mankind. Before Mr. Shea starts canonizing people on his blog, he better make darn sure he knows the pertinent facts concerning the person, especially if someone else has evidence that the person in question lived with another male and most likely committed the act in question."

Saturday, May 05, 2012

If You Hate This Blog, There's Another "Beggars All"

Oddly enough, someone else has put together a blog with the name: Beggars All. This person claims, "My name is junior. I'm just a beggar trying to show other beggars where to find bread." Apparently, he's s a Reformed Baptist.  I'm going to simply assume Junior didn't know about this blog, and I'm tempted to speculate he's unaware of Luther's connection to the phrase.

Since I'm not any sort of stat monger, combined with my best efforts to lose as many readers as possible on a daily basis, I wish Junior the best in carving out his plot of cyberspace.

Addendum #1
As a way of extending a hand friendship to the competition (for lack of a better word), today's entry on the alternate "Beggars All" was a video link to the Beastie Boys singing "Sabatoge." FWIW, the Beastie Boys have a very interesting instrumental album called, The In Sound from Way Out! Here's a sample.

In terms of my own musical taste, I've been fascinated recently by Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich. It's minimalism (and an acquired taste). For those of you fluent in music theory, you'll recognize that while it's minimalism, it's an extremely complicate piece of music. I'll assume most of you will simply watch this video for about a minute and then lose interest.

Addendum #2
On the other hand, after 15 years I picked up the Chapman Stick yesterday. I bought a new set of strings, and plan to begin playing again. It's funny picking up an instrument after such a long period of time. Below is the Stick in action, played by a man I took a few lessons from many years back, and who I found out recently passed away:

I first saw Frank Jollife play at a little nightclub in Clifton New Jersey. I had heard about the Chapman Stick, but had never seen one that close up. I had no idea I was going to see Frank Jollife play the Chapman Stick. Frank played jazz standards and was accompanied by a woman who sang. What I remember most about Frank was his ability to play so effortlessly. It wasn't that long afterwards that I ended up buying a Chapman Stick, pictured here:

Somewhere on old cassettes I have recordings of the Stick lessons given to me by Frank. As I think about it, he was responsible for a large chunk of my musical life. Had I not seen him play that night, I probably would not have pursued the Stick. Out of all the Stick players you'll find on the Internet, I would think Frank rates in the top 5. I can think of only one or two other players that have the same comfort and ability that Frank had on the Stick.

Luther's Festival Sermons

One of the most interesting collections of Luther's sermons is now on-line for free: Festival Sermons of Martin Luther (Translated by Joel R. Baseley).
"The Festival Sermons of Martin Luther were compiled in the 1520's and edited during Luther's lifetime. With some of the outlines by Bugenhagen and some scholarly questions regarding its 16th century redaction, the character of the Reformer breathes in these never before translated or published Sermons of Martin Luther for the chief feasts and Saints' days of the church. This volume is a perfect companion for your Lenker and Klug collections!"
I've used this volume for a couple of years, particularly in regard to Luther's Mariology- that is, finding the context for those obscure Roman Catholic-used quotes portraying Luther as having a similar view on Mary as they do. Particularly, Baseley's translation was helpful with these two blog entries:

Luther: the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin

Luther on the Assumption of Mary: "There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know"

The volume itself is worthy of purchase. I'm not sure why Joel Baseley simply wants to give his translation away. I would rather see Concordia pick it up and make it available in digital format along with the other volumes of Luther's works.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Why Satan Owns the Cable Company

Like many of you, I've been trying to cut expenses. One bill that I hate paying is the cable TV bill. I have one of those deals where it's phone, Internet and cable. The cable company gives you a discount for having all three services with them.

We've had some sort of "Family Package" Cable TV channel now for about ten years. It worked out to a lot $$ for this channel package (which did not include any premium channels like HBO). I recall the irony that when we first got this package, a gay channel was included. This was probably 10 years ago. At the time, I thought they had a much different notion of "family" than I did.

The other thing the "Family Package" required was the rental of a digital cable box from the cable company. That would have been fine, but the way the box works, you really can't delete any of the channels like you can with your regular TV. I simply learned to deal with that. If they gave me 200 channels, I probably only watched a small percentage of them. I simply skipped to the ones I wanted to. I did though despise the fact that I had to sift through all their junk channels and couldn't delete them.

Over the years I've greatly decreased my TV watching. Sanctification? I don't know. It could be that, I guess. It could also be I rarely found anything I wanted to watch. That might have to do with getting older, and perhaps a bit more jaded. In fact, I realized I didn't really need cable TV anymore, nor was I even watching TV. So, I decided to begin cutting the cable bill. I recently dropped the Family Package and got Basic Cable. Basic is about $12 a month, and I still have the invasive cable box. It's an odd lineup of stations with Basic Cable. They probably do that to force you into a better package. They offer me the basic channels (ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.), a number of Spanish channels, a few shopping channels, some PBS channels, and oddly, EWTN, TBN, and Harold Camping's Family Radio TV channel. There's probably a few others, but most of it is worthless.

Now here's where Satan comes in. I still have the box from them, and I still can't delete channels, they set which ones I can tune into to. The Basic Cable package includes certain channels that can be paid for on demand: pornography channels. That is, they choose which channels I can tune to, and some of them are pay-pornography channels. Of all the garbage they can advertise, they make sure to include at least four pornography channels, complete with the names and descriptions of the filth they're attempting to sell. And, I can't simply delete these channels from the box. Shame on them.

Like probably some of you, I've also picked up a Roku streamer. If it were up to me, that would be good enough (by the way, I'm looking for a way to Roku stream the Dividing Line Way Back Machine, so far no luck). I can only assume that cable companies are losing a ton of money because of the Internet. I think this is a good thing. There shouldn't be any reason why I simply can't pick the stations I want to watch, and pay for those.