Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Reformation Day!

The Reformation Polka

by Robert Gebel
From here.

[Sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious"]

When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian!

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!"

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!"

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek!

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance!

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why did God delay?

An email correspondent asked this:
Would I be correct in assuming your answer is in essence that you haven't a clue, guess, thought, speculation, or hypothesis concerning why God postponed telling man anything significant about the Trinity, Heaven and Hell until two-thirds of the generations of man were dead?

I had earlier answered a less-developed question, but he has pressed, desiring a fuller explanation. I thought my answer would be worth sharing here (but I could have been wrong to think that):

No, it's not that I don't have a clue, it's just that God almost certainly hasn't revealed all His reasons.
So I'll take another stab at it.
1st, He may have waited until 2/3 of generations of man were dead, but certainly not until 2/3 of all humans that will ever live have died. Also, we have no idea how many generations of man WILL pass by before the end comes. This earth could well go on so long that God's delay in fuller self-revelation would leave an inconsequential segment of humanity unrevealed-to in the past, if you will, compared to how many will have lived since.
2nd, getting to what He has explicitly said, like I said, He waited until the time was full. The only "why" I can give is that God ordains all that comes to pass, so He planned that Christ would come when He did. It's all according to His plan.
3rd, God desired to glorify Himself and provide evidence to humanity of His existence, goodness, and provision by giving prophecies thru His prophets and Scripture beforehand and then carry out and fulfill said prophecies.
4th, related to #3, God apparently enjoys foreshadowing the future and preparing types of the still-to-come antitypes/fulfillments. An example is Adam (type/foreshadowing) and Jesus Christ (2nd Adam, as fulfillment, antitype) (see Romans 4-5).
5th, God is glorified thru His people exercising faith in His goodness and provision based on what He has done before and His promises. The books of Hebrews (chapter 11) and 1 Peter discuss how the holy men and women who came before us were recipients of promises, but in most cases, they did not receive the promised-for things b/c they were for the benefit of future generations. They were mostly to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

And I reiterate that the OT has a doctrine of afterlife, Hell and Heaven both are foreshadowed in significant ways.
The Triune nature of God is foreshadowed in, among other ways, multiple OT references to the Holy Spirit and angelophanies of the "angel of the LORD", who is clearly divine and whose identity is, in fact, very probably the preincarnate Christ, and the oft-stated axiom that "to see God is to die". Yet people saw God. How, if not by a Triune God?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hitler a Christian?

ChooseDoubt seems to think so.

That cracks me up. The guy goes to church and all of a sudden he's giving full assent to Christ's substitutionary atonement for his sins and a promise to repent of murder and stuff. ChooseDoubt is accusing Hitler of being not just a genocidal madman, not just a freak, not just pretty much the most worthily vilified person the world has ever known, but also a hypocrite! That's just piling on.

So, I have proposed this as a synthesis of what he's presented and the significant amount of conflicting facts out there:

Hitler was a madman who was heavily into a sort-of self-theistic mythological megalomania.
So maybe it's not a great idea to call him an atheist, I can see that maybe. It's worth a different discussion.
But just b/c Hitler appeared in churches doesn't make him a Christian. That's pretty silly. I myself have been known to frequent coffeehouses. That doesn't make me a French skeptic. It means I like what the coffeehouse provides - good coffee. Similarly, Hitler liked what going to church provided - psychological power over a religious populace.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Common Word Between Us and You

I was just reading this open letter from Muslims to Christians everywhere and a few things occurred to me.
I'm off hiatus now, BTW. I'll be getting back to the comboxes, and anyone interested is welcome to resume the convos there. With the understanding, of course, that I have limited time. But I think most everyone who's ever commented here has been quite good about not bugging me about not getting to their comment in a timely manner, and I appreciate that.

Of note is those to whom the letter is addressed. No one I'd consider a leader worthy of unmitigated or nearly-unmitigated respect. But maybe they're not talking to me.
There's Pope Benedict XVI, a bunch of Orthodox high-ups, the Pope of the Coptic Church (the memorably-named Shenouda), leaders of other historically Christian churches, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ELCA, the World Methodist Council, the Baptist World Alliance, and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. It would have been nice to see a bone thrown to someone like SBC Pres Frank Page, John MacArthur, Al Mohler... even Billy/Franklin Graham. As it is, a significant portion of their supposed audience goes unaddressed.
And they lose points for addressing the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, to be honest.

Reading thru the actual text, I note that this (Muslim-penned) document frequently refers to "the Unity of God". Given that this is not a theological document but rather a start of dialogue ostensibly aimed at producing peaceful relations, it is a little funny to me. Almost like the authors are tossing a few snips at the Trinitarian concept of God while laying out peace. It's what I would do, honestly. But maybe I'm just reading too much into it, and either way it's just a quirky sidenote. All that to say, when a Muslim says "Unity of God," he doesn't mean it the same way a Christian does - "unity" to the Muslim entails an (unjustifiable) assumption of unitarianism.

The document's big gaffe is almost unbelievable in its clumsiness. On the .pdf page 15 of 29, it asks: "Is Christianity necessarily against Muslims?"
The answer, of course, is that this question is silly. Christian doctrine is that men everywhere must repent and request forgiveness for their sins from the Savior Jesus Christ, which will lead to their salvation from that sin and to eternal life. Where did the idea that Christianity might be against Muslims come from, so that they added the word "necessarily"? This alone is almost enough to tempt me seriously to disregard this document entirely, as either disingenuous or just ill-conceived.
A much better question is: "Is Christianity necessarily against Islam?" to which the answer is "yes."
Or one could ask: "Are Christians against Muslims?" to which the answer is: "Any Christian who acts without love against a Muslim who is not attempting to blow him up or something is acting in a sinful manner."

We are then told: "We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words here," based on three out-of-context quotations from Jesus Christ in Matt 12:30, Mark 9:40, and Luke 9:50.
To be honest, when I meet a Muslim in the US, I look on him/her as almost certainly a peaceful person who is a sinner, but also with a greater amount of suspicion than that with which I look upon an Argentine, a Chinese, or a Singaporean.
I'm glad these authors invite me to consider them "with" me (I assume they mean with me in the pursuit of peace on earth), but I have to withhold unconditional acceptance of that from "Muslims" until I see more than a kind of poorly-written document from some Islamic scholars.

Finally, the authors (again, clumsily) seem to lose track of the goal of their document with this closing statement: "Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us, for our common ground is that on which hangs all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:40)."
I'm not interested in "interfaith dialogue" as it is usually meant in modern parlance. Followers of Islam need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and need to repent and believe it. "Interfaith dialogue" might be a good vehicle thru which such might be accomplished, so on that level it's great. But it must not become the end for the Christian, b/c it is pitiful in its short-sightedness.

That said, I come away from this document a little more hopeful that the attitude expressed therein can lead to more peace in this world. I hate war. May God grant the people of the world reprieve from war. I need to see alot more from the Muslim side, however, before I could have a lot of optimism that the hostility endemic to their religious system has been conquered by modern sensibilities. One document does not erase Qur'anic statements directing Muslims to conduct violent jihad nor their bloody history of military expansion.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

My absence

I apologise for leaving comboxes high and dry. I was out of town for a conference and was not able to post a "sorry, will be gone this week" notice.
Attendance at said conference has left me with a lot of things to think about and not a little discouragement. Please feel free to deal with whatever posts and/or comments of mine you want to; I doubt I'll be engaging them within a week minimum. I guess this would best be called a small hiatus for now. Thanks for your patience. And any prayers are appreciated.