Saturday, January 27, 2007

I believe

I believe in Jesus Christ. What do you mean by that statement. The English is ambiguous. It could mean:

1) I have brought myself from a state of unbelief to belief in Jesus Christ.
2) I am now in a state of belief in Jesus Christ.
3) I am now in a state of having been given faith in Jesus Christ.

1 seems to easily lead to Decision Theology. 3 is the most strict in the direction of acknowledging that the Holy Spirit is the source of our faith entirely and that we remain passive. 2 seems to be between the two, only describing the state we are currently in and not how we got to that state.

This phrase was recently used by another in a discussion about a different phrase, "I do good works." They were stated to be equivalent. Do you state: "I do good works"? Or "I did a good work"? Do you express the "cooperation" mentioned in FC SD IV:65 ? How do you express that?

Friday, January 26, 2007

I just learned that my childhood pastor, mentioned in this post died suddenly. When Christians die it should be a happy thing, but for the non-Christian that is truly sad. I do not have divine power to determine the state of this pastor's belief, but I would be very concerned.

I had a week long business trip where I was part of a team that sat and listened to presentations by four companys, one per day. One of these companies had a speaker introduce some of their top leaders who were present. One he described as their spiritual guide. There was not as much of a sense joking as I would have wished to see. It was really an example of "secular spirituality." I am not sure if I have heard that term previously. People push God out of their lives and try to fill the void with themselves and with worldly ambitions.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Did Jesus allow his brothers to be unbelievers?

I was thinking about the Biblical book of Jude and its probably human authorship by Judas the brother of Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus' brothers did not believe in him early on in His earthly ministry as John reports in John 7:3-5. It also seems possible that His brothers were absent at His resurrection, as Jesus gives to Mary the Apostle John as a son (John 19:26). That point may be questioned as no others seem to be present at the crucifixion and we know that most ran away. Certainly following His ascension, there were His brothers, James and Judas, with the Apostles (Acts 1:14).

So, now the theory: The Lord did not bring His brothers to faith during the time He walked the earth because they would have led people to speculate that He was just a sham who had recruited His brothers to act like disciples.

What I am not saying:
- Jesus brothers were at risk of being lost, for Jesus knew they would live to the point where they came to faith.
- Jesus was being deceptive.

When I presented it to my Bible Study class the above objections were raised. Also it was suggested that Jesus would be taking away their free will. That can be dismissed with the proper understanding that, though we have free will, our sinful nature will only choose to disbelieve in Jesus unless the Holy Spirit acts upon us.

Why would Jesus behave according to my theory?
  1. As stated above, He would have a more believable group of disciples if they didn't include the easy-to-recruit brothers.
  2. Have nay-sayers in His own family kept Him from being an "easy sell" to believe in. Stated in an extreme case, if nearly all people believed in Jesus, wouldn't you find yourself compelled? That would be belief via the law - being forced to believe. Instead, Jesus comes to us through the Gospel.
  3. There was able to be a more dramatic reversal for His brothers, from unbelief to belief. James became a pillar of the Church in Jerusalem and wrote the book of James. Judas wrote Jude.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Weeds among the wheat

Today in Sunday School (7-8th grade) we discussed Matthew 13, including the Parable of the Weeds. I asked the students if they thought there were any unbelievers in our congregation. They seemed quite shocked to consider that concept. I told them one of the reasons I think there are unbelievers is this parable. There are such a large number of folks who don't get justification, that we are saved by Christ alone and they hold that they do their works to get saved. I don't expect those people have saving faith.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cool new resource and God's antimaterialism

I just discovered the BibleWiki a short time ago. I am going to put in my stuff from Jude as I prepare for a Bible study tomorrow night.

I think God may have something in for me. I think he doesn't want me to buy new things. He has this antimaterialism bent.
  1. It started about two and half years ago when we bought our new car, a Toyota Camry. We have had all sorts of trouble with it. The dealer and manufacturer would not resolve the problems. I took it to arbitration and we lost. The problems keep getting worse. That was the first new car we bought in 19 years. That other one was just not long for this world. Our other two used cars are quite old too.
  2. I just decided to get a new bicycle in November as mine was about 13 years old, had a cracking frame from a couple of crashes and had about 10,000 miles on it. So I waited to get a new one and then I spent, what I consider big bucks and got a 2006 Trek 4600. The chain broke (sheared) the first time I rode it about a mile down the road. The chainwheel slipped. The shifting is defective.
  3. I could go on with other items which I have bought and with which I had dramatic disappointments.

The conclusion I considered today is that God was perhaps chastising me for buying these things. Perhaps the actual chastisement we receive is proportional to what measures we might take to avoid it. You buy a new car/bike to avoid having to do work to maintain the old ones and figuring how to get by with your old stuff. The chastisement received with the new things in hand is more severe than if one had not bought the new stuff.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Receptionism revisited

I got an email reply to my very first post and I wanted to share this response.

I received a response to my posting on the Receptionist position regarding the Lord's Supper. I raised a question in light of the Augsburg Confession article X. The respondent referred to the Triglotta translation of the same sentence I quoted from the Tappert translation.

Tappert says that the body and blood are "distributed" as well as received. Triglotta says: "the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord."

It was suggested that this Triglotta translation may support the Consecrationist position as well as the Receptionist. The Receptionist understanding would be that the presence is determined only upon and at the time of eating and drinking.

I find myself stumbling on this argument, however. The Triglotta is no different than Tappert, except that it seems to direct one towards a Consecrationist position even more strongly. Note that there is a comma inserted between the clause stating the Body and Blood are present and the clause stating that they are distributed. To my understanding, this comma would push even further in suggesting that the presence is effective apart from the distribution.

In addition, I am still hung up on the plain meaning of the words. A thing must be present to be distributed. If I were to phrase AC X to support a Receptionist understanding, I think I would word it something like this: "the Body and Blood of Christ are truly received by those who eat the Supper of the Lord."

In fact, I can't seem to get over the notion that the whole of the argument for the real presence would have been altered if a Receptionist position were true. We would no longer have an argument for the real presence, because the Body and Blood are not present until the bread and wine are eaten. Instead, we should have an argument for the real reception. This the AC and Apology do not argue for.