Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Deep Thought for Evangelicals on Their Birthday

October 31st, 1517

This is Protestantism's birthday, and conservative Evangelical's supposed birthday as well--at least nominally...

Well, I'll let others make my point, since they are more eloquent:

“With what right may we call ourselves children of the Reformation? Much modern Protestantism would be neither owned nor even recognized by the pioneer Reformers. The Bondage of the Will fairly sets before ui what they believed about the salvation of lost mankind. In the light of it, we are forced to ask whether Protestant Christendom has not tragically sold its birthright between Luther’s day and our own. Has not Protestantism to-day become more Erasmian than Lutheran? Do we not too often try to minimize and gloss over doctrinal differences for the sake of inter-party peace? Are we innocent of the doctrinal indifferentism with which Luther charged Erasmus? Do we still believe that doctrine matters? Or do we now, with Erasmus, rate a deceptive appearance of unity as of more importance than truth? Have we not grown used to an Erasmian brand of teaching from our pulpits a message that rests on the same shallow synergistic conceptions which Luther refuted, picturing God and man approaching each other almost on equal terms, each having his own contribution to make to man’s salvation and each depending on the dutiful cooperation of the other for the attainment of that end? As if God exists for man’s convenience, rather than man for God’s glory?”

Packer and Johnston’s Introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will, p. 59

Friday, October 19, 2007

Celebrating October Holy-Days

Rocktober I get: the Rockies are stomping the competition.

Holloween makes sense from a pagan perspective.

Oktober Fest I can understand as well. It’s a cultural celebration; it has morphed into an America community get-together.

Harvest Festivals of rural yesteryear hijacked into Evangelical mega-church revival meetings, I can comprehend.

But for a LUTHERAN CHURCH to celebrate Oktober Fest?!?

It’s true: I drove by such a church with a banner inviting the neighborhood to such an event. That I don’t get!

Wouldn’t they celebrate REFORMATION DAY?!?

Remember?…Luther?….95 Theses?

That transformation of Western Civilization from the Medieval Ages into the era of capitalism, democracy and religious freedom?

How quickly I forget: American Evangelicals have collective amnesia. Or rather many practice historical hubris: the past is irrelevant, the now is superior.

Well, I for one will shout from the roof-tops the glories of the sovereign grace of God Almighty, preaching in the shadows of our great spiritual leaders—Luther, Knox, Calvin—who gave their livelihood, sweat and tears for the propagation of Christ’s sweet mercies and awesome judgments.

In contrast, a vast host of well-meaning Christians will pass through October 31 in blissful ignorance, repeating the errors of old Israel: “my power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth”—material, political, economical, and spiritual (Deut. 8:17).

When we do not properly honor our spiritual fathers, we violate the Fifth Commandment. When we imitate their worse instead of their best, we violate the Fifth Commandment.

Reformation Day is soon arriving. It is not a holy-day as the pagans celebrate or the Roman Catholics worship. But it is a time, like Purim of old, to celebrate our deliverance from spiritual death—to recall our fathers’ sacrifices and our own commitments.

What is Reformation Day?

Dear reader, read on!

October Revolution!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Atheists Taking Notes

This summer during bring-out-the-tables-and-grab-more-members drive at the local colleges, I wandered through the labyrinth of chaos: banks luring students, clubs attracting members, and fast food restaurants claiming the dream job. And then as I turned my head to fight off the beating sun, my eye caught the following:

THE BLASPHEMY CHALLENGE

“Matthew 12:31 states that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable.
Speak into this video and verbally denounce the Spirit: secure your place in hell!”

If there was ever a time to preach Christ, this was it! Casually approaching the bench, I prayed a quick prayer to the Spirit, and innocently asked the black-clad individual behind the table why he used this verse.

He stared at me for a few seconds. “We are using this verse to show the absurdity of Christians who take the Bible literally.”

Wanting to avoid a quibble over details—to reach deeper issues—I responded, “Not all Christians have such a na├»ve approach to the Bible. I could point out the larger context or other Bible verses, but you do not take the Bible as your standard of reality anyway.”

I paused and plunged onward: “The bigger question is: What do you believe? Where are you coming from?”

“I’m an atheist and I’m an empiricist,” he cautiously replied.

“Interesting, so truth is only that which is verified by the senses…how do you find justice or love in a test tube?” I asked.

Thus the debate began—or rather, the one-sided critique of empiricism. Trying to “answer a fool according to his folly,” I focused on the hopelessness and philosophical suicide incipient in atheism. Near the end of the conversation, I pointed out how he shuffled between pragmatism and empiricism in finding truth-claims. The internal contradiction was becoming clear to the atheist. Before saying a word, he reached down to grab a notepad and pen.

With a level of comfortable rapport already established, my curiosity piqued: “Excuse me, what are you doing?”

Scribbling on the notepad, he looked up at me with mild surprise, "Oh, you were pointing out some inconsistencies in my thinking: I'm taking notes."

soli deo gloria!