Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reformation 3 / some more Giertz

(Below find a Giertz quote from Bror Erickson's new translation into English; I'm sorry, I lost all the paragraph breaks and I can't redo it just at the moment. Just read it nice and slowly and put in your own breaks. These are sermons, anyhow. Perhaps read it out loud!)
What is the Church's way today? What is meant by "the Church's way"? It may mean approximately the same thing as when one speaks about the church's program or the church's work methods, her goal-setting and the means with which she will attain her objectives--just like an association, a party, or some other societal organization. But this only skims the surface of the problem. The Church's way is something more and something deeper. One discovers it if one goes to the New Testament and sees that the Chruch is quite simply called "the Way." It happens in many verses in Acts. In our Swedish translation, it is written "this way," but in the original text, it is written simply "the Way." ... And Paul says in his speech before Felix, "But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers" (Acts 24:14). This last bit is very revealing. The Christians also call themselves "the Way," while the Jews call it a hairesis. This is the same word that we have in heresy, also the word for false doctrine and sect. The word did not mean the same thing at that time. It meant choice or decision in classical Greek. It can also mean that which one makes a decision for or selects, for example a standpoint or a philosophical opinion. So for example, the Stoic school of philosophy or Platonists could be called heresies. The same meaning is used at the same time for the movements within Judaism, for example, the Pharisees or the Sadducees. But here, with Paul, it has a small hint of condescension. The others call us a hairesis, he says, but we are "the Way." this difference is essential for early Christendom and for all Christendom. A hairesis is a movement, a faction, a party with its program. It is something that one chooses, implying one among many other thoughtful opinions. But Christendom is something more. It is not one opinion among other opinions, not just one way of thinking, not just a manifestation of the zeitgeist. But it knows of itself that it builds upon an intervention of God that happened once and for all, in a manner that has consequences for every age. This claim is clearly expressed behind the whole person and work of Jesus. There lies in His own word "I am the Way." He explains what this means in the same context: "No one comes to the Father but through Me." He is the one who has come to seek and save those who are lost. He is the only-begotten Son. Whoever believes in Him shall be saved. Once and for all, He has sacrificed Himself. Peter expresses it pregnantly and classically when he says before the great council: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
From Bo Giertz' Ordination Sermons, "Then Fell the Lord's Fire", pp. 153,154.

Reformation Day 2 / "Nun freut Euch liebe Christen gemein" in German and English

Words in English here:

Reformation Day

Someone's FB post for today, Reformation Day.

Ecclesia semper reformanda est. (The church is to be continually reforming.)

O Spirit, who didst once restore

Thy church that it might be again

The bringer of good news to men,

Breathe on Thy cloven church once more,

That in these gray and latter days

There may be those whose life is praise,

Each life a high doxology

To Father, Son and unto Thee.

Lutheran Service Book #834:4

What does it mean that the church is always reforming?  To me it tends to mean that it always needs to be repenting.  That is always needs to correct its course back to true North, to the guiding star.

Are our questions really different today?  Or are the questions and different and the answer is the same for new and different people?

What does this mean?


Monday, October 29, 2012

More CBC--one week series on the "Myth of the Secular"

While driving around, I've listened to more CBC productions.  On the way home from a meeting tonight, I listened to a show, episode six in a series this week called the "Myth of the Secular".

We heared much from a theologian/philosopher John Milbank.  I found it very interesting and reminded me of many discussions I have lately had.  I haven't listened to it carefully enough, but in the end, though many good  points are made I will not be able to commit this view of myth, imagination and reality.  The fact that William Blake always figures in this, knowing his commitment to our foe Mr. Swedenborg, just bothers me right away.  This does not mean that important points are not made, but I am afraid that upon deeper listening, the "radical orthodoxy's"  Jesus will not turn out to be my Jesus, who is the way, the life, the truth, the Savior, the hope of mankind.  We are being offered a "humanist Christianity", but I am afraid that this will not work.  But I still want to listen to it completely and properly, sometime.

Nazi Germany and church bells for munitions

You find out the most interesting things while driving and listening to CBC.  Last night there was a documentary from 1973 by Peter Leonhard Braun on "bells".  It was translated from the German, so it kept going back and forth from the German to the English. -- Did you know that the Nazi's melted down 43 000 church bells for munitions, and when they conquered the other countries, they melted down another 33 000 church bells from Poland, Belgium, Austria and Italy.  I asked my husband about it who is usually a buff for such things, but he had never heard of it before.  A total of 76 000 church bells ruined by the Nazis all over Europe to shoot at people.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Then Fell the Lord's Fire / Bo Giertz / Bror Erickson

Dear friends, Bror Erickson's latest translation of a title by Bo Giertz has arrived in the mail from Magdeburg Press.  It's title is "The Fell the Lord's Fire" and it contains a set of ordination sermons intended specifically for the edification of pastors, but certainly is helpful to all.

I've got to page 21, and for tonight's edification here is a short quote for our enjoyment.  It speaks to me also because of all the reading from the 19th century, we've done lately, where exactly a kind of "god" found in nature and conscience has been constructed in one's own mind to the neglect of the scriptural revelation.  Indeed, I have been in lengthy conversation with someone who really represents this point of view.  Obviously, Bo Giertz was completely familiar with this mind-set, most likely has he faced it in the Swedish churches.

"The boldness is needed. It has never been easy to be a proclaimer. If the Word is rightly proclaimed, then it will also awaken offense. All men have made for themselves some picture of god. There is also a revelation outside the word, in nature and conscience. It is fragmentary and unclear, but it gives to man a diffuse belief in a god and a common morality. When the gospel is proclaimed, saying that this does not count, men often become indignant. With complete naivete they answer that that part of the revelation that they have encountered up till now is self-evident and reasonable, but the revelation in Christ that now touches them is narrow-minded and uncertain.
The pastor could adapt himself to preaching just that what he knows is now current religious truth. Such a proclamation will not awaken any opposition, but neither does it awaken anyone from spiritual slumber. It neither exposes nor comforts. It is neither hot nor cold. It is not God's Word, and so it does not create faith." (p. 19,20)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Presbyterian Controversy

The Presbyterian Controversy is due at the library and no more renewals allowed.  AAAhhh.  Last minute quoting.

Chapter 2 is on Gresham Machen and his response to liberalism.  He had some good things to say. Let's just shamelessly get some of it.

Young, energetic, and aggressively conservative, J. Gresham Machen had been watching the Fosdick-Macartney duel with rapt attention.  For more than a decade Machen, assistant professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, had been warning the church of the destructive consequences of modernist theology.  In November 1921 he distilled his ideas into a brief, poignant address entitled "Liberalism or Christianity "  As the title implied, Machen had concluded that the liberal religion preached by Fosdick and his kind was not simply a variety of Christianity but a different faith altogether.  "At every point," he declared, "the liberal movement is in opposition to the Christian message."

... "The cause of spiritual decline was clear to all who cared tyo see.  The 'glories of the past' had vanished with the rise of naturalistic, Liberalism, which to Machen's mind was rooted in naturalism, denied any supernatural intervention of God into history.  In an effort to accommodate the faith to culture, liberal theology had sacrified 'everything distinctive of Christianity," leaving nothing but a "sordid life of utilitarianism."
Liberalism not only departed from the historic christian tradition on every fundamental doctrine but, most important, denied the value of doctrine itself.  Having accepted the premises of modern historicism, liberals believed that creeds were "merely the changing expression of a unitary Christian experience."  Fosdick was a perfect example of this tendency:  "All theology" he said, "tentatively phrases in current thought and language the best that, up to that date, thinkers on religion have achieved; and the most hopeful thing about any system of theology is that it will not last.  In contradistinction to this relativism  Machen argued, historic Christianity had always held that creeds were not merely expressions of Christian experience but statements of the facts on which experience was based.  Doctrines, composed of historical 'facts' plus the meaning of the facts, were the very foundation of the Christian message.  The modernist derogation of doctrine, Machen insisted, separated it from any legitimate claim to the title Christian. 
.. Religious authority provided another point of contention   The bible, God's inspired and inerrant Word, authorized all genuinely Christian doctrine;  but "Christian consciousness' or "Christian experience"  provided the touchstone for the claims of liberalism.  Machen agreed that experience did have a place in the Christian life;  but it was secondary, not primary. ... The facts of the bible, not christian consciousness, stood as the foundation of the faith.
Machen subscribed wholeheartedly to the Princeton doctrine of inspiration;  that is, he held that 'the Holy Spirit so informed the minds of the biblical writers that they were kept from falling into the errors that mar all other books."  Nevertheless, he allowed some leeway on the question of biblical inspiration.
Liberalism's Christology fell far short of the christian view of Jesus.  Modernists denied the miracles, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, and the deity of Christ.  While Christians accepted Jesus as the divine Savior who had paid the price of sin on the cross, liberals looked on him as simply an example of moral perfection.  but sinful humanity could not be redeemed by the example of a man.  The deny the supernatural and the substitutionary atonement was to deny Christianity. (p. 28-30)

Let's skip ahead slightly to hear something about the Scottish Common Sense philosophy, which somehow fits into this debate.

The Scottish philosophy of Common Sense had been developed primarily by Thomas Reid (1710-1796) and Dugald Stewart in Glasgow and Edinburgh to refute the idealism of Bishop Berkeley and skepticism of David Hume.  Contrary to the thinkers who has followed Locke in claiming that 'ideas,' not external realities, are the objects of our thought, Common Sense philosophers maintained that we can and do know the real world directly through our senses.  Ideas, Reid argued, were mental acts, not mental objects.  Therefore, to have an idea of any object was to perceive the object itself, not just a mental image. Anyone in the right mind (except, perhaps, a few skeptical philosophers) knew that the objective world, the self, causal relationships  and moral principles existed.  Without this common sense, life would be quite literally impossible.
Truth, these philosophers maintained, was a single entity, absolute, permanent, and discover-able by all people through all ages.  Following seventeenth-century thinker Francis Bacon, they argued that the one sure way to arrive a the truth was through the inductive scientific method.  Flights into the fanciful world of metaphysical speculation and hypotheses could never lead to certainty.
  (p. 34)

I don't really know enough philosophy to say much about it.  But when it has to do with philosophy of science (the only philosophy course I ever took)  I'm with Karl Popper.  He says that things can only be provable if they are also falsifiable.  Also, we had a long thread dealing with Luther on reason, as treated by Becker in "The Foolishness of God"  (see this blog).

For sure, metaphysical speculation cannot "prove" anything.  That we know.  And Lutheran theology allows for more paradox than say Calvinist.

The Scottish tradition, in maintaining the reliability of knowledge, provided a firm foundation for Thornwell's efforts to reconcile the claims of science and religion.  Like his Northern contemporary Charles Hodge, Thornwell refused to concede the impossibility of Natural Theology.  ... Thornwell's epistemological convictions buttressed his doctrine of scriptural authority.  (p. 34)

In 1912 Machen delivered a speech--later published as "Christianity and Culture"--that not only revealed the resolution of his crises but in large measure set the agenda for the remainder of his career.  The church, he maintained, was facing a desperate emergency precipitated by the secularization of modern culture...  The defection from Christianity was rooted in modern culture's apathy or outright hostility to the gospel.  Since the universities were the intellectual greenhouses of the nation, the cultural apostasy had to be stopped there or it would not be stopped at all.  'What is today matter of academic speculation," he warned, 'begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires.  In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combatted;  the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate.'  (p.46)

Machen had returned from Germany from his studies under liberal theologian Wilhelm Herrmann, who had deeply impacted him, to see how far the experience threatened to move him away from conservative Christianity.  He had known for himself, how far a university experience can move you intellectually.  Hence, he saw the main arena for the discussion in the university and seminary.   From there the impact would spread.

But contrary to Hermann, Machen insisted that the biblical witness could no be ignored once Christ was known;  if the bible could be proven false, faith woud crumble.  History and faith could not be divorced.  To Machen's mind, liberalism was intellectually bankrupt. (p. 49)
I agree.  Liberalism is intellectually bankrupt.  You can't even speak with liberals.  The moment you bring up facts, logic, doctrine, the Bible, the word, text, they pretty much flush with anger.

Another person involved in the Presbyterian crisis was Jennings Bryan, who also became involved in the famous Scopes Trial.  His main thrust against evolution and Darwin was linked to its effects on society.

Two books that Bryan read during the war, Headquarters Nights by Vernon Kellogg and The Science of Power by Benjamin Kidd, convinced Bryan that evolutionary theory was at the root of the world's problems.  Kellogg's work demonstrated the influence of Darwin on German military officers;  and Kidd attempted "to trace a straight line from Darwin through Nietzsche to the growth of German nationalism, militarism, and materialism."  For Bryan the connection was sealed.  The civilized world had gone to war because it had tured away fro the philosophy of the Prince of Peace to a philosophy of Might makes Right  based on the Darwinian hypothesis.  In 1920 Bryan told the World Brotherhood congress that Darwinism was 'the most paralyzing influence with which civilization has had to contend during the last century.'  Nietzsche, who merely carried Darwinian theory to its logical conclusion, had 'promulgated  philosophy that condemned democracy... denounced Christianity .. denied the existence of God, overturned all standards of morality... and endeavored to substitute the worship of the superman for the worship of Jehova.'  (p. 68)

I have to admit a great deal of sympathy with Bryan's point of view.

Henry Sloan Coffin was a liberal leader in the controversy, trained at the new Yale University, as well as under Wilhelm Herrmann.  I am struck by his views on his subscription to the confessions.  Personally, I have chosen to vow loyalty to the Lutheran confessions, and mean every word of it.  Thus I should not be surprised that some Calvinists have problems with their confession, as I would have problems with it, too.  But this here is a somewhat different matter.  Here Henry Sloan Coffin wants to have his cake and eat it, too, have complete liberty in the way he deals with subscription.  This would be the way a "liberal" (not to say apostate) subscribes to the confessional standards.

In subscribing to the Westminster confession of Faith Coffin did not believe that he was accepting the doctrines stated in the Confession.  Rather, as he later maintained, 'The formula means to me that under the supreme authority of Christ I receive the confession as setting forth in seventeenth century thought and language the principal doctrines which have grown out of and foster the religious experience of protestant evangelical Christians, and which it is my privilege to teach in the best thought and speech at my command for those to whom I minister.'  This interpretation of the subscription vow obviously gave Coffin a great deal of leeway in accepting the confession.  Unlike Machen, he saw no difficulty in a loose adoption of the creed.  Indeed, Coffin seemed to intimate that no creedal affirmations at all should be required for ordination when he wrote, 'to acknowledge that a man possesses the spirit of god and is equipped to serve the Kingdom, but to hold him unfit to minister in our select theological club because he does not wholly share the views of the majority, seems to me perilously like blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.'  In any even, Coffin did not believe that creedal differences should bar one from ministry.  There was no inconsistency, he maintained, 'in worshiping and working, or even in occupying a position of leadership, in a communion with whose creed, or ritual, or methods one is not in full sympathy'. (p. 86) 

One could pull one's hair out.  He could just say, "we don't need a church, we don't need a creed, we can all believe as we want", but instead he accuses those who disagree with him with the sin against the Holy Spirit.  What a scandal.  Shame on him.  This is how it is rationalized:

Coffin had adopted the historicist assumptions which had been gaining ground in America in the preceding generation.  While for Machen history was a record of facts that remained true for all time, historicist thinkers understood history to be profoundly colored by the historian's perspective.  ... Coffin had learned his historicism not only at Edinburgh and Marburg but also at Union. ... In 1892 Arthur McGiffert, Coffin's teacher and then colleague, delineated the assumptions of the modern church historian, stating, 'A sharp distinction must be drawn between divine truth and our conceptions of that truth;  that, though the former is always and eternally the same, unchanged and unchangeable, in our conceptions of it--in other words in our doctrines--there has been as real a development as in our institution."  Later in the same speech he asserted, 'The historical study of Christian doctrine reminds us that human notions and conceptions change fro age to age, that even the categories of thought undergo more or less of a revision, and it thus teaches us, that, if we will be true to the truth as it has been revealed unto us, we must from time to time adjust our statements to the new conditions.'  To McGiffert's mind and to his student coffin's, the shifting patterns of thought throughout history required constant reinterpretation of doctrines.  Creeds were only 'man's attempt in the best thought and language at his command to express his religious experience.'... True to the tradition of Friedich Schleiermacher, religious experience provided the ahistorical bedrock of the Christian faith for Coffin.  "Religion is experience, " Coffin believed.  "It is the response of man's nature to his highest inspirations.  It is his intercourse with Being above himself and his world.' Under the rubric of experience Coffin included feeling, intellect, and will, but warned of exalting one of these elements to the detriment of the whole. 
Inasmuch as experience provided the foundation of religion it necessarily had to be the basis of preaching.  The minister of God was 'not to repeat what others have said in Scripture or out of it;  he is to say what he is sure of, because he has experienced it and believes it as he believes himself.'  Likewise, Coffin advised his congregations  "If any man here is trying to make himself believe anything about God, or Christ, or the bible, or the christian life, let him be sure that he is looking at some man-made view of the Divine, a mere idol.  When God's truth comes along, it does its own convincing... Its inescapableness is the test of its diviness." (p. 89-90)

WHAT UNMITIGATED DISASTER.  He sounds like another Swedenborgian.  All this because they thought the Bible isn't true. Why DID they bother with church careers?

I have to quit here, for today.

One more on Swedenborg

I am playing organ tomorrow morning, but here I sit.

Today, as I listened to the Brahm's Requiem once more and sang through it in the score, I realized that the entire very wonderful and scriptural piece makes no mention of Christ--at all, anywhere.  We have some things that allude to the resurrection.  That's as close as we get.

Things like that are done deliberately and we come across this Christless "Christianity" many places.  You would think that those who do not like the Biblical message would just leave it alone.  But not so.  They must have a "spirituality" also and be discarding "religion" they become the most "spiritual".

Or with our fruitcake Swedenborg, we must remove the letter, so that we are properly "spiritual".

Swedenborg now devoted himself to the science of Scripture: biblical exegesis. From1748 to 1756 he worked on his magnum opus: a gigantic,eight-volume commentary on Genesis and Exodus interspersed with amazingly detailed accounts of visionary travels to heaven and hell, including long  discussions  with angels and the spirits of the deceased. The thesis central to this work as a whole, known as the Arcana coelestia, is formulated in its first sentence:
 The Word in the Old Testament contains the mysteries of heaven, and every single aspect of it has to do with the Lord, his heaven, the church, faith, and all the tenets of faith; but not a single person sees this in the letter.
 In other words, underneath  the  literal text of the Bible lies a hidden meaning. And just as the soul cannot be found in matter, on the level of biblical exegesis too, it is categorically  impossible  to  discover  this spiritual  meaning on the basis of the literal text as such: this meaning can only  be disclosed  by  immediate divine revelation. Swedenborg now claims to have been chosen as the unique recipient of the latter: since 1744, he writes, God had granted him the privilege of freely moving around in the world of spirits and angels, and the true meaning of Scripture has been revealed to him by Christ himself.  (quote from here.)   

Out, out, out, out, out with the text. -- In with the immediate divine revelation.

They use the text simply as a jumping off point for their own musings.  And it is those musings with are "spiritual."  Those of us who believe the text are "profane" and even "idolatrous", so I've been called myself.  Christ has now become a revealer of the true, hidden meaning.  He is no longer the revelation himself.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Luther on Erasmus and Christ

Erasmus is also ambiguous:  Erasmus is a veritable Momus.  He ridicules and derides everything, all religion and Christ.  and in order to be able the better to do so, he by day and night thinks up equivocal and ambiguous words so that his books may be read also by a Turk.    And when he is thought to have said many things, he has said nothing at all.  All his writings may be construed in any way desirable.  Therefore he can be caught neither by us nor by the papists unless you first remove his equivocation.
If Christ and the gospel were in the heart of Erasmus, he would now, as an old man, write a commentary on some epistle of Paul;  he would not play in this way with puerilities but would use serious and simple words in theology.  But he does not apply himself to teaching Christ.  On the contrary, he loves to apply himself to equivocal, pernicious, and pestilent sayings, as is the one (ascribed to St. Peter in Gethsemane):  'May the devil mingle in this war;  what I clip off He heals;  He sides with the Jews as readily as with me!' -- These are satanic sayings, and Erasmus has become very proficient in this school.  The pupil has been made learned.  but I want none of this.  I want to cling to my Christ and speak seriously and simply about Him. 

What Luther says 936 (Plass).

I have to say that the internet is also full of this.  There are nowadays those, who want to be the "true" Christians, who have nothing serious to say about Christ, at all.  In fact they either leave him out entirely, or they specialize in duplicity, vagueness, ridicule, cuteness to an extent that a perversity becomes apparent to all but themselves and the similar minded.  They draw comics, they won't allow scripture quotations, they laugh at your catechism, thinking themselves wise.  At the same time they want to be viewed the most universally loving, the most humble, the most clever, the most creative, the most skilled...  Any Christian can tell them a mile away about their lack of serious confession of Christ.   I will stick with my pastor Luther who cannot stop talking about his and my dear Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world and me and you, who bore our sins to the wood of the cross and gave himself up for us freely out of his burning love.  To Him be all honor and glory.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Playing with hearts

Something a friend of mine had on her Facebook--a teenager with lots of heartache.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Local view

This is a pond in the marsh area in the flatland before the North Saskatchewan River.  It is a great place to walk when the mosquitoes aren't too bad, like in the fall.  :)  Behind the line of trees on the ridge lies the mighty river.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Presbyterian Controversy cont.

We are looking at the Presbyterian Controversy.

The war also accelerated the secularizing tendencies that had been altering American life for over two generations.  America experienced a "revolution in morals."  Newly franchised women competed for jobs and the title of Miss america.  Freud became a household name;  sex came to dominate headlines, movies, and conversations;  and the divorce rate soared.  The waltz gave way to the Charleston;  jazz moved north from New Orleans;  and Sabbath worship succumbed to Sunday golf.  On almost every count the civilization Americans had fought to save was coming apart at the seams.
To man conservative Christians, one reason for the dissolution of American culture was all too apparent.  For the past thirty years liberal ministers, relying on German historical criticism and Darwinian thought, had been in the words of  Clarence Macartney, "slowly secularizing the church."  clearly, a secularized church could not halt the apostasy of the culture.  Withing the Presbyterian Church efforts to halt this decline had been, by in large, successful.  Militant traditionalists were well aware, however, that a pure faith was bought only at the price of eternal vigilance. When Harry Emerson Fosdick challenged the fundamentals of the faith, therefore, the only option for men like Clarence Macartney was active prosecution.  The battle lines were being drawn, and no one was to draw them more sharply than a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary named John Gresham Machen.  (p.27)

There are several points of connection for me here. One is that there truly is a battle line that has to be drawn. There is no way around it.  Friendship with the world is enmity with God.  You can't have it both ways.  Either the Bible tells you the truth or it tells you nothing.  This middle-myth-way is a denial.  I've lately discussed lots with people who insist that a metaphorical kind of understanding his highly meaningful.  Perhaps, there is some meaning in it, but it makes everything arbitrary.  Nope.  Thank you very much.

When my husband and I were young adults and newly married he was asked to go around to some churches to make a presentation on behalf of our synod which was not merging with the more liberal Lutheran church merger.  We had no idea what we were stepping into at the time and were surprised at some of the heat that met us.  I see now, that this is precisely the same controversy about the nature of the inspiration of scripture.

So now the liberal synods, first went with the liberal understanding of the word, started with the feminizing of God (our mother and father), ordained women and now allow practicing homosexuals as ministers.  It seems like the latter issue is what has people seeing how far down the road they have come.  Most men have very strong reactions to male homosexuality.  In querying them about that, I find that they say that many of them have had propositions of older homosexuals when they were younger.  That seems astounding to me.  It would be interesting to get some stats on that.  Anyhow, the spirits seem to draw lines there if not before.  That's the current situation.

Secondly, in terms of changes in over all society.  I think that some trends have taken on a huge momentum.  One, in terms of divorce.  As my children grew up around the turn of the millennium  almost all children in their circles of friendships came from homes where divorce was a huge factor.  Many of the teenagers were cutting themselves or taking drugs.  These people are hitting adulthood now.  I wonder what kinds of trends we see.  One trend is that they live together before marriage, but every girl wants an extravagant, showy, Hollywood wedding.  They start out by having dogs not children.  Sunday has completely broken down.  Everyone works so hard and runs around so much that Sunday is for sleeping in and then getting your shopping done.  People have had no religious education and history is not taught much in school either, except for the several unit studies they get, but now they are very confused about Christian theology and history with the result that they are tossed back and forth by quite malignant talk on the internet and various media.  I feel quite sorry for them, but they don't also seem to understand their need...  Enough for now.

Catechism cont.

7th Commandment cont.

129.  John 6:12

Gather up the remaining bread, so that nothing is wasted.

130.  Hebrews 13:5

Be satisfied with what there is;  because he has said:  "I will not leave you nor forsake you."

131.  1 Tim. 6:17

Command the wealthy people in the world that they not be proud, nor that they put their hope in uncertain riches, but trust in the living God, who gives us plenty of things to enjoy. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wearing a cross a hate crime?

How did it come to something like this?  It is about the most Orwellian thing that has happened in my lifetime.

We have Islam that condemns that is commanded to establish theocracy where ever it spreads and subjugate the unbeliever.  If you make cartoons depicting the prophet you get a fatwa on you head and if you try to leave the religion you are supposed to be killed.  Not only this.  Sunni's and Shiites curse each other in  their respective mosques.  In Africa, they were throwing bombs into each other's mosques last week.  We have Hinduism where millions are condemned to live the life of the untouchables, etc.

Christianity is not the only religion which does not condone homosexuality.  However, it is the only religion which offers forgiveness for all sins and commands love and sacrificial concern for all.  But to wear a cross would be a hate crime.  This is complete insanity.

Homosexuals romp through our cities for their gay pride parades looking as perverse as possible.  They beat every mayor into submission so that he takes part and makes an appearance.  Then they insist they want to be married like other people.  If the cross is offensive, is the gay pride parade offensive?  Or rather, which is really offensive?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Presbyterian Controversy / Millenialism /Holiness

We are still looking at the Presbyterian Controversy.

"While some Christians were trying to make peace with modernity through liberal adaptation, others developed more conservative innovations.  As the country was struggling through the era of Reconstruction, a new type of millennial thought, dubbed dispensational premillennialism, was winning adherents.  Developed primarily by the Englishman John Nelson Darby around 1840, dispensationalism asserted that the history of the world was divided into seven dispensations including the historical "parenthesis" of the current church age.  Grounding his theology on a complex literal interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures, Darby maintained that the present era would steadily deteriorate until it ended with the secret rapture of the church and the return of Christ.  Popularized by Darby on seven missionary journeys to the United States and Canada from 1862-1877, dispensationalism received its greatest impetus from annual Prophetic and Bible Conferences initiated in 1875 and from the publication of the dispensationalist Scofield Reference Bible in 1909.  The founding of the Moody Bible Institute in 1886, the bible Institute of Los Angeles in 1907, and numerous bible schools, gave dispensationalists institutional bases from which to propagate their doctrine.  
The rise of the Holiness movement lent further support to conservative Christianity in the late nineteenth century.  Springing mainly from Wesleyan roots, the Holiness teachings were also propagated in America by adherents of the more Reformed Keswick and Oberlin movements.  Despite the resultant doctrinal variations, all Holiness teaching stressed a literal biblicism, emotional fervor, strict moral conduct, and most important sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Disseminated through camp meetings, conferences, and Holiness denominations such as the Church of God and the Nazarenes, perfectionism became a pervasive theme in conservative theology.   Holiness doctrines inspired a dramatic concern for social work among the poor, resulting in the establishment of nurseries, diet kitchens, relief programs, and employment bureaus to help the needy.  Through at least the early part of the twentieth century, therefore, conservative evangelicalism and social concern were wedded in an effort to christianize America." (p.21)

I just marvel at all these people coming up with their own thing and having the audacity to preach it far and wide.

Catechism cont.

The Seventh Commandment cont.

You shall not steal.

3.  but instead help your neighbor to improve and preserve his goods and nourishment.

124.  1. Peter 4:10

Serve each other with the gifts you have received, as good stewards over the varied grace.

125.  Isaiah 58:7.

Break your bread with the hungry, and those who are wretched--lead them into the house;  if you see anyone naked, clothe him, and do not neglect your own family. 

126.  Luke 6:35

Lend even where you have no hope of recovering it and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. 

127.  Hebrews 13:16

Remember to do good and to share;  for God is well pleased with such offerings.

128.  2 Cor. 9:7

God loves a cheerful giver.

Examples:  the widow's mite; the good Samaritan.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

God-man vs. man-God

I read this article because Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which I am 2/3 through, seem to me to have some Swedenborgian elements, to me.  Others say Tolstoy was more influenced by the Quakers.  This is probably right seeing his pacifism.

I'm going to crop out something from this arcticle:

The problem of the two natures of Christ underlies Dostoevsky's whole work, and it also determines his journey from a socialist Utopia to a nationalistic one. To say that at some given moment he became an atheist (whatever that word may mean) under Belinsky's influence is not truly relevant, for he was haunted by the figure of Christ the teacher perhaps no less in the forties than later on, when in the penal colony. Yet undoubtedly he underwent a change of heart in Omsk in the sense that now the necessity of an act of faith became clear. His much-quoted letter of 1854 to Fonvizina, written upon his release from the prison camp, contains the nucleus of those internal contradictions which torment his major heroes: "I will tell you regarding myself that I am a child of the age, that I have been a child of unbelief and doubt up till now and will be even (I know it) until my coffin closes. What terrible torments this thirst to believe has cost me and still does cost me, becoming the stronger in my soul the more there is in me of contrary reasonings. And yet sometimes God sends me moments when I am utterly at peace; in those moments I love and find that I am loved by others and in such moments I have constructed for myself a symbol of faith in which everything is clear and sacred to me. This symbol is very simple: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, profounder, more sympathetic, wiser, braver, or more perfect than Christ; and not only is there nothing, but, as I tell myself with jealous love, there could not be anything. Even more: if someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if it were a fact that the truth excludes Christ, I would rather remain with Christ than with the truth. . .
This last sentence is potentially that of a "heresiarch." Who could proveto Dostoevsky that Christ was beyond the truth? A scientist, a philosopher, for whom everything is submitted to deterministic laws and who would shrug at the story of Christ rising from the dead as an offense to our reason? That sort of proof, through the universal order of nature, is accepted by those characters of Dostoevsky's who are, more or less, the spokesmen of his "intellectual part": Ippolit in The Idiot,Kirillov in The Possessed, and Ivan Karamazov. "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain," says Saint Paul (1 Cor. 15:14). Ippolit, Kirillov, Ivan— and the Grand Inquisitor—have their proofs that it is really so, but they also realize that if it is so, if Christ deluded himself in announcing his resurrection, then the world is a devil's farce. Dostoevsky himself, or that part of him which turns against his skeptical characters, "would rather remain with Christ than with the truth," and thus yields the field, in reality, to the so-called scientific Weltanschauung. The juxtaposition of faith and reason has behind it an old tradition, but the juxtaposition of faith and truth is a desperate novelty and dangerously favors any self-imposed deception.

In Tolstoy, also, we see this conflict of "God-man" vs. "man-God" .  What is he then?  Do we need to listen to the testimony, do we need to clear it up doctrinally?  Or are we going to just have our own, individual, arbitrary something, oximoronically called "truth".

American gnosticism

Interesting Sasse translation by Matt Harrison on American masonic, gnostic connections and deconfessionalizing of the church.

Presbyterian Controversy / "Fundamentalism"

On "Fundamentalism", from The Presbyterian Controversy

Between 1910 and 1915 conservatives of various shades joined forces to publish a series of twelve volumes entitled The Fundamentals:  A Testimony to the Truth.  Financed by California oil magnates Lyman and Milton Stewart, the works contained a series of essays by British, Canadian  and American theologians on such issues as scriptural authority, sin, salvation, the virgin birth, missions, and sabbatarianism.  Approximately three million volumes were distributed to "every pastor, missionary, theological professor, theological student, YMCA and YWCA secretary, college professor, Sunday school superintendent, and religious editor in the English -speaking world."  These works were more important for their symbolic value than for their contributions to theology:  as historian George Marsden has argued, when the term  fundamentalist  was coined in 1920, "it called to mind the broad, united front of the kind of opposition to modernism that characterized these widely know, if little studied, volumes."  In contradistinction to post-World War I fundamentalism  however, the majority of the articles in The Fundamentals manifested a nonbelligerent tone.  In the midst of postwar polarization many moderates who wrote article for The Fundamentals, like Presbyterians Charles Erdman and Robert Speer, would find their position almost impossible to maintain.  (p.21) 

At we can see that the Fundamentals are still available, here.  Somehow, nothing is moving me to rush out and get a set, though I might some day see if the library has them.

As I said, in our growing up, the conflict was framed such that we were always waiting on tenterhooks to see what a pastor would preach on Easter and other holy days, to see if it resembled anything in the Biblical witness.  Being good, little citizens and church-goers we put up with the state employed, pampered official pastor, but taught ourselves other things in the homes and other Bible studies.  My confirmation classes were under such a liberal pastor and I can honestly say that the time spent was completely useless.  I still have my notes from such times.  There were discussions about spending money, such as, if we did not spend money on church buildings and maintaining congregations what could we all spend the money on and how would it be best spent.  We formed groups and debated this.   Then I remember there being something on Mother Courage by Berthold Brecht.  It is not really surprising that the state church is suffering much decline in Europe.

Catechism cont.

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not steal.

... you shall not take your brother's money or goods by pilfering

118.  Titus 2:10

Command the servants that they do not pilfer, but demonstrate complete faithfulness, so that they in everything adorn the doctrine of the Lord, our Savior

119.  Psalm 37, 21

The godless borrows and does not return it;  the righteous is merciful and gives. 

120.  Proverbs 28, 19

Whoever works his fields will have enough bread;  but whoever practices worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

121.  Proverbs 13:11

Riches diminish where there is waste;  but where one keeps it together it will increase little by little. 

122.  1 Tim. 6, 9-10

Those who want to become rich fall under many temptations, into snares, into many stupid and harmful lusts, which drag a person down to ruin and damnation. 

123.  Matthew 6, 31-32

You shall not worry and say:  What shall we eat?  What shall we drink?   How shall we clothe ourselves?  After all such things fret themselves the heathen. --  You heavenly Father knows all your needs. 

This is cute, I just found it on Facebook: