Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Sometimes we really do forget that our traditions really do influence the way we think, the way we examine evidence, and not surprisingly, the way we interpret the Bible. This is most obviously seen in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic quite obviously has a Sacred Tradition. According to their doctrine, there are two ultimate authorities that they hold to: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition; additionally, the have a Magisterium that can infallibly interpret both. Philosophicaly, it is impossible to have two ultimate authorities because at some point, one of the authorities will eventually be subservient to the other. For instance, Mary as Queen of Heaven is part of Roman Catholic Tradition, but there are instances in the Scriptures, it appears, that would contradict this part of Tradition. (For an example of this, please see the Marian Debates available at Alpha and Omega Ministries.) If one holds to the belief that Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are consistant with each other, then seeming contradictions must be explained. At this point, then, one will dictate how the other should be interpreted.
The same thng occurs with Arminians and the famous John 3:16 passage. The traditional reading is that the phrase "For God so loved the world" means that God loves person without exception. This would seem to go agaisnt some passages that implies that God actually hates some people, such as Psalm 5:5. If "hate" means "not love" and "world" means "every person" then you have a formal contradiction. So, since the Bible cannot contradict itself, the way we interpret one of hese passages is going to interpret how we interpret the other. Most Arminians I've talked to will lessen the force of the word "hate" because they don't ant to believe that God can hate someone, probably based on their interpretation of John 3:16 or their view of God as totally all loving incapable of hatred. In this case, it should be obvious that presuppositions are affecting the interpretation of Psalm 5:5.
However, traditions and presuppositions are not exclusive to the Arminians and Roman Catholics. Reformed folk also have their traditions. For instance, some have a view that in Hebrews 10:14, the ones who are being sanctified will never be lost. In simple terms, Everyone who is sanctified cannot be lost. That is fine, except that 15 verses later, the author speaks of someone who will rceive a far worse punishment than those who broke the Law of Moses, and one characteristic of this person is that "[he] has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified." Again, if one follows the Hebrews 10:14 interpretation, than 10:29 is a formal contradiction. Once more, one interpretation is going to influence the other, and which will it be? Should Hebrews 10:14 dominate because it came first? Should that be the standard...the first interprets the second instance? If so, then what of Hebrews 10:4 (For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins) with Leviticus 5:17-18 (If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the Lord's commandments ought not be done...[h]e shall bring to the priest a ram...and the priest shall make atonement for him...and he shall be forgiven." Leviticus 5 was written long before Hebrews 10...was the author wrong? Which verse is dominant?
The whole point is that traditions do influence us more than we think. Sometimes, the traditions (the ones we usually don't admit that we have) are held very closely to the vest. When they are challenged though, and especially challenged by an appeal to the Bible, then although it is impossible to be completely unbiased, we should at the very least be open to the possibility that our presuppositions may be inconsistant, incoherent, and perhaps ultimately, wrong. Let us not forget and instead, rejoice with the Psalmist who wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psa. 119:105)
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
ON A DIFFERENT SUBJECT
I added a link to a blog I read. The person who writes the blog is Aaron Gleeman, and he is very knowledgable in baseball. I know him because we are both in a computer baseball league and we met in the American League Championship Series for the 3 Run Homer League. My team, the mighty Santa Ana Winds, defeted his Minnesota Gophers four games to one, and then went on to win the 3RHL Championship by the same margin. We played the series on netmeeting, and it was cool. I really enjoyed it, and hopefully my schedule will allow me to play more games in real life.
He has a good writing style, and has some good insight into the game (except when he picked the Giants over the Angels. What was he thinking??? Heh, like I should talk. I expected the Angels to choke when they were 6 games up on the wild card with 6 to play, and they almost did then they lost three in a row), and he offers his analysis of the events that happen in baseball. According to his bio (and what he told me, too) he's studying to become a sports journalist. I think he has a good future ahead of him. I hope you'll visit his blog, and I hope you'll like it.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE BIN LADEN TAPE
I know it's been a few days since I last blogged. It's tough when one goes to school and works full time, at the same time working on a paper for an existentialism class. I decided to write on Nietzsche and give a brief critique of his philosophy. Anyone who knows something about Nietzsche knows that he has such a hatred for Christianity that is probably unmatched by any other classic philosopher. If I get a good grade on it, I might go ahead and post it here and see what you think.
On another topic, it seems Osama bin Laden is alive; he sent another tape to the Al-Jazeera televtision network in which he gave his support to the Iraqi people and urged Muslims to attack United States forces and targets worldwide. It's typical spiel, but yes, it should always be taken as a serious threat. By God's grace, hopefully nothing will happen to this country and that any terrorists cells here or abroad can be stopped. On the other hand, God has been so gracious to this country, and the fact that we have spit in His face, flaunted his commandments, and think that this country does not need God for salvation is a testimony to God's patience. His patience, however, is not necesarily without end. The Old Testament is filled with examples of Israel turning away from God, and God giving them so many chances to repent, until finally, judgment came. The New Testaent has one huge example...the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. After the death of Jesus, God gave the people forty years to repent of their sins before the upcoming judgment, but they did not, and they were destroyed. If God did not spare Israel for their sins, why would God spare the United States?
This, I do fear, is the course this country is set on. Too often we play Messianic games around the world in things that are none of our business. The history of the United States since 1865 has been one of a Messiah. We purged our national sin of slavery, we atoned for it, and hence, now we can help rid other countries of sin by the shedding of blood. This is what we did in Yugoslavia not too long ago when President Clinton sent U.S. troops under the flag of NATO in an attempt to oust Slobodan Milosevic. The first President Bush sent U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to make right the evil that Iraq did when it invaded Kuwait. President Reagan sent U.S. troops as peacekeepers in Lebanon, and three hundred of hem died in a failed attempt to restore order to that beleagured country. The history of the United States in this hemisphere towards its neighbors to the south and Canada to the north has sometimes been one of a bully. We think we're the world's policeman, and whatever we do is just and right.
For all the spiel and verbage that bin Laden said, one thing he said was right on. This President Bush seems to be intent on overthroqing the current Iraqi regime and installing a new "democratic" one. As bin Laden said, paraphrasing, "They want to install a government with the stamp of Washington and Tel Aviv." What can we say? That's exactly our objective. It's not a secret. We want to make the world safe for democracy, as if democracy is a form of government worth even considering as a serious alternative. No orthodox, non-Western Muslim would ever accept those terms, and especially not a democracy. They are by far more serious about the role of their religion in their lives than 95% of the Christian church today. They know that the Koran and the Hadith guide all of their lives, personal, familial and political; and those two books leave no room for a democratic government. In contrast, Christians today think that Christianity is solely a personal religion with no role for the world, but that's not what God says it is. The knowledge of God is to fill the earth and be so overflowing that "no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother saying, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me." (Jer. 31:34) Of course, this is not done through military might or through politics, but through the spreading of the Gospel.
We've lost track of that. As Rev. Steve Wilkins once said, we used to send missionaries to foreign nations. Today, we send soldiers and attempt to effect change through blood atonement...putting the blood of young 18, 19, and 20 year olds on the line. This country needs to repent of its sins, and turn back to Christ. President Bush neds to "kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way." (Psa 2:12)
Does this mean a war against Iraq is unjust? Well, yes and no. Given that the United States is now directly threatened by Al-Qaeda, Bibliclaly this country has every right to defend itself and its citizens within the laws of God (supremely) and the United States (as a second authority). If Iraq is funding a conspiracy against the United Staes, then they two are directly threatening the United Staes. Therefore, we should attack but only for the sake of seeking to bring those who are directly threateneing the United States to justice. In this case, it is just. However, if our intention also includes nation building by expelling a dictator in Saddam Hussein and freeing the Iraqi people from his tyrrany, then we are wrong. God did not send the United States into the world to be the Savior of the World. Only one man is the Savior of the World, and he saves perfectly so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. The Iraqi people need the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Just as an aside, I have noticed that when I used the term 'United States,' I've used singlular forms of verbs. There was a time when the term was plural, saying "The United States are not standing for this atrocity." Another change that came from the War of 1861)
Sunday, February 02, 2003
"Incorporating the Gentiles, consequently, would become the issue in the new administration, NOT justification by faith, God help us. Not justification by faith but the incorporation of the Gentiles, and justification by faith would come to be shorthand for the incorporation of the Gentiles apart from their needing to become Jewish; or apart from Jewish corruptions of their status which saw the Law as a method by which they could accumulate points, and so ingratiate themselves to God by way of merit.It's against these things that Paul speaks against in his letter... and Paul is not he only writer of the New Testament." -- Rev. Steve Schlissel, "What Does the Lord Require?" Auburn Avenue Pastor's Conference 2003, approximately at the 25 minute mark.
Yes, Rev. Schlissel really doesn't believe in justification by faith. And of course, hot dogs also have bones, 1942 happened after 1943, corn is a color, and President Clinton was the most ethical man to ever grace the White House
Just some thoughts on the Auburn Avenue Controversy.
Sometimes, when we are committed to a position, we say and do some pretty strange things when someone comes along and challenges our commitments. For instance, when someone listens to some lectures, say of the AAPC 2002 and 2003 conferences, and when what is said strikes at our commitments, sometimes we go off the handle. For insance, some have made much hay about this quote by the Rev. Steve Schlissel, which he said in 2002. "Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "The solas of the Reformation, the Solas of the Reformation, The Solas of the Reformation." Far too many people have made way too much hay about this quote.
Some have said that this is proof that Rev. Schlissel denies sola fide. Some have equated this to an embracing of Roman Catholicism. (Rome rejects sola fide and anathematizes it as a false gospel. Looks like that's what Rev. Schlissel is doing.) As he said in the 2003 Conference, "Hooey, and Hogwash!" If one takes the entire context and remember what exactly the point was, the conclusion that Rev. Schlissel denies sola fide is simply impossible to get. This is a parody of of what was spoken by God. "Do not trust in these deceptive words: This is the Temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord." He goes on to say, "You trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely...and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'---only to go on doing all these abominations?" (Jer. 7:4, 8-10)
The context, and Rev. Schlissel's point, is clear. The Jews were solely trusting in the exteriors, and not following with their hearts. I did not quote verses 5-7 above; those verses have the condition. If Jews would truly do these thngs, like truly execute justice, or not oppress the soujourner, the fatherless, and the widow, or go after other Gods, then God would let them dwell in the land. The fact that God uses this hypothetial shows that Jews were not doing that. They were trusting in the Temple, something they could see and boast about, and going about thinking that nothing could happen to them since they had it.
Quite obviously, then, Rev. Schlissel is exhorting us to make sure that we are not doing the same thng. Simply because we say we believe in sola fide, or justification by faith, or predestination, or limited atonement does not mean that we are saved. Isn't that Jesus' point in Matthew 7 when talks about what will happen on the last day? Some people will call him Lord, say they performed miracles and works, and yet they will be cast out. There's nothing in the text to indicate they are lying. Some of these men really did perform miracles and grea works in the name of Jesus, but it was not enough. Something was missing. That should cause us to ponder: are we trusting in the works themselves to save us, or are we trusting in Christ first and foremost, and then doing the works?
I remember once having a conversation with a few friends, and one of them asked another, "How do you know you won't fall into a cult like the Jehovah's Witnesses?" The response was, "Well, I know are their arguments very well. I won't fall to them." I'm not saying my friend wasn't a Chrisian or anything, but the response was scary. It sounded like he was saying that his faith would be in knowledge. Of course, I know that is not what he meant, but sometimes we need to consider the words we use and make sure. We should make our calling and election sure, as the apstle Paul exhorts us to do. Apostacy is a very real sin, and simply because we know the right doctrines and can refute the wrong ones is not a full prevention in and of itself. Knowledge of propositions won't save.
I hope this makes sense. Rev. Schlissel may be wrong in his exegesis, but he is not denying sola fide. It's incredible that someone who has always taught to not look to externals but to look to Christ would be accused of denying justification by faith. Sometimes, wonders never cease.
Saturday, February 01, 2003
MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME
The Crew of STS-107: Columbia
1. Commander Rick D. Husband
2. Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla
3. Pilot William C. McCool
4. Mission Specialist David M. Brown
5. Mission Specialist Laurel B. Clark
6. Mission Specialist Michael P. Anderson
7. Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon
Launch: Jan 16, 2003 @ 9:39am CST
End of Mission: Feb. 1, 2003 @ 8:02am CST (approx)
STS-107 Columbia crew patch
"For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." --Philippians 1:21--
"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain." --1 Corinthians 15:56-57--
But as we grieve or mourn, do not let their deaths be in vain. Reflect on yourselves, and your life, as our Lord Jesus Christ once said (updated slightly):
"Do you think these [astronauts] were worse sinners than all other [people], because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." --Luke 13:2-3--