Saturday, May 31, 2008

ORIGINS: LIFE & DEATH or CHURCH HISTORY

There's theo-oh,gee! in everything we read. Just don't miss the fineprint.

Time was, we believe everything we were told. Fine young presbyterian boys should read and at least know who John Knox is. Know where Scotland is on the world map. rent Mel Gibson Braveheart. and experience real live bagpipes tunes. Time was, presbyterian boys were allowed to visit their anglican cousins at St James. Trouble is, St James only held service once a month.

There's theo-oh, gee! in everything we read. Just don't miss the fine print.

Time later, young presbyterian boys were allowed to step beyond boundaries. It was a wet and wild world outside. I mean, there were Baptist everywhere! and they serve coffee and biscuits every sunday morning. thats what Stephen told me. he would make it a point to make the walk to that first Baptist church every sunday. the second baptist church that i went to did not serve coffee as they meet in the evening. but they had a filipino choir. makes me want to believe there are angels on earth when they sang. the third baptist church was an airplane ride, a van transfer, a boat ride upriver and a trek up country roads. a church on a hill, looking down over an entire village. right in the heart of everyone's existence. Time was, they built a church up on a hill. Time now, they build underground so the pastor wife's can sing undisturbed.

There's theo-oh, gee! in everything we read. Just don't miss the fine print.

There was another church up a hill. It was Lutheran. It was old. It was a big building with high ceiling and open windows. Time was, air-con was unnescessary. Its okay to sweat inside a church. and presbyterian boys sweat buckets when confronted with liturgy. Liturgy was strange and very un-presbyterian. By the time one get used to the temperature and stop sweating it was necessary to get back down to the valley. Time was, presbyterian boys would make it a point to visit that Lutheran church up the hill. Time now, presbyterian boys hide inside blogs.

There's theo-oh, gee! in everything we read. Just don't miss the fine print.

A lady brought me to a brethen assembly. I was told only men can speak. So, behaving as a good presbyterian I did not. But communion was served and I was passed the bread. Despite being a presbyterian I broke it and pass it on. Then I was passed the wine cup. Like any presbyterian I was looking for those tiny small -shot sized ribena plastic but was told to take a sip from the wine cup. Unlike a presbyterian I took a mouthful and dutifully sat silent for the rest of the assembly while the other men stood and spoke. Time was, young presbyerian learn first-hand that real wine are used in some churches. Time now, I sit quietly while the bishop drinks on behalf of everyone else.

There's theo-oh,gee! in everything we read. Just don't miss the fineprint.

Many years later I found myself down south where there are no hills around. Churches are found by the latest banner that is hung outside. So I make it a point to revisit the anglican but stumbled into a contemporary setting where people queue up to learn new creation talk. Unlike St James they can meet for up to 5 times a week.

There's theo-oh,gee! in everything we read. Just don't miss the fineprint.

Time was we learn history from real life experience. Life, death, existence, God, man, woman, reasons. All was encountered, none was spared. Just like a movie. But real.

To Stephen: No free breakfast. Time now, you have to pay for coffee and biscuits.

Friday, May 30, 2008

MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD



When people listen to you don’t you know it means a lot, ’cos you’ve got to work so hard for everything you’ve got. Can’t rest on your laurels now, Not when you’ve got none. You’ll find yourself in a gutter, Right back where you came from.

Someone told me being in the know is the main thing. We all need the security that belonging brings. Can’t stand on your own in these times, its against the odds, so you all just fall behind like all the other sods.

You slap our backs and pretend you knew about, All the things that we were gonna do. What ya gonna do, what ya gonna do, When it’s over?

You’re on your own now, Don’t you think that’s a shame? But you’re the only one responsible to take the blame. When you gonna grow up and be yourself? Cos pretty soon you will find yourself nailed to the shelf. So what ya gonna do when the novelty has gone? Yeah, what ya gonna do when the novelty has gone?

You slap our backs, And pretend you knew about, All the things we were gonna do. What ya gonna do, what ya gonna do When it’s over?

YOU ARE NO BIG DEAL




You're no big deal
No big deal

I got into a fight
Got into it tonight
I just don't know what I'm gonna do with you

You talk much too loud
When you put me down
I just don't know what I'm gonna do with you

I tell you
I don't feel...
You're no big deal

Hello New Visitors to Jeremiah


THIS IS YOUR INITIATION RITE: GO!

Your whole world could change

If only you just broke through

Through the fears inside your head

'cause your fears are doing nothing for you

Keep your head up, your mind open

You'll always come through

'cause living it up, it's a big deal

It's good for you

Swap your dull grey thoughts

For fierce demands you can stand up to

Don't put yourself down, you'll never win

So let's all smash through

Through the fear of being real

Through the fear of being really you

'cause living it up, it's a big deal

It's good for you

(baik untuk anda)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Father Vs. Son

In other news, Wolverine fights his son, Daken, in "Wolverine: Origins" #26. It's been said that all of Western literature is about the tensions between fathers and sons. Here's the latest entry to that rich tradition then.

Welcome To The Septuagint - Hope You Enjoy Your Stay

Pltypus wrote to me requesting a quick Septuagint 101 in order to understand why the late Ko-Dee was so enamoured by this ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. I wrote a reply to him and decided to paste it here as well. Again, this is not an academic article. It was a personal mail written to a friend very, very late at night without any handbooks or history texts to refer to. I'm writing down from my faulty memory so some of the facts may be wrong (please do correct me when you spot historical errors) but the feelings behind what I wrote, the affection that I have for the Septuagint - that, at least, is genuine. Sometimes, that is what we all need - genuine affection:

The Septuagint that belonged to Ko-Dee is available from Amazon: (see link for more details).

The Septuagint felt like an exotic document from a long, lost age to me. In truth, it's the oldest manuscript of the Old Testament that we possess. True enough, it's a translation of the original Hebrew but, for many reasons, it's actually more well-preserved than Hebrew texts. The earliest extant Hebrew manuscripts date back to approximately 1,000 years LATER than the Septuagint manuscripts that we possess. Having said that, the fact that the Septuagint (henceforth LXX) is older than all extant Hebrew manuscripts does not make it more reliable or accurate. The Jewish scribes are known to have put in far more effort in preserving the Hebrew texts than we give them credit for. The LXX is thus (for lack of a more appropriate description) a very eccentric text! Students of the LXX readily admit their frustrations with it. It differs from the Masoretic Hebrew text in many, many areas but we cannot do away with it because - well, many of the NT authors actually quoted from it rather than the Masoretic Hebrew (e.g. the Epistle to the Hebrews used a lot of LXX quotations as the underlying Messianic Prophecies - do a quick comparison or refer to the footnotes of the NIV and you'll see that several of those verses never existed in Hebrew, but only in the LXX Greek translation!!!)

Doctor Ben accused the Dispensationalists of creating new doctrines because of their veneration of/dependence upon the KJV. A case can be made for the same thing with the LXX. The false teaching called "Ruckmanism" was propagated by Peter Ruckman who said that wherever the KJV differs from the original Hebrew/Greek, TRUST THE KJV because it's DOUBLY-INSPIRED! Now you can laugh at that but St. Augustine pretty much said the same thing about the LXX. You see, St. Augustine hardly knew any Hebrew but he was very proud of his Greek (he was an avid student of Plato, remember?). So he too maintained (in City of God) that wherever the LXX differed from the Hebrew, TRUST THE LXX! The reasons he gave for it was very funny too and it stemmed from his own anti-semitic attitudes towards the Jews! He believed that wherever the Hebrew text differed from the Greek LXX, then the Greek must be correct because Jews rejected the Messiah! "Huh?", you said? Exactly. But that was the sort of "ustaz-logic" accepted by people throughout the Dark/Middle Ages in Europe!!!

My personal fascination with the LXX had to do with BOTH the legends surrounding it as well as the true history that demonstrated the Grand Overture of God's Plan For Universal Salvation.

Firstly, the legends: According to the "Letter of Aristeas", Ptolemy II Philedelphus wanted a copy of the Hebrew holy books translated into Greek to be kept in the Library of Alexandria and was willing to exchange that from the Jews by freeing 100,000 Jewish slaves. What happened was that 70 (or 72, in some accounts) Jewish scholars worked in 70 (or 72, in some accounts) separate caves over a period of 70 (or 72, in some accounts) days. When they finally met up, they found that all 70 (or 72, in some accounts) translations matched each other word-for-word! So they believed that God was behind this translation!!! When this translation was presented to Ptolemy, he freed the Jewish slaves. Kinda like an ancient version of "Schindler's List", right? (Septuagint = Book of the Seventy)

Now, that legend can be easily disproved by even a rough reading of the LXX Psalms, Isaiah or Jeremiah. Those long books clearly show differences in style, syntax, and even translation methodologies (some chapters were extremely literal and others were about as free/paraphrased as the Living Bible!). However, the legend from the "Letter of Aristeas" was held to be true for many, many years. My personal theory is that the "Letter of Aristeas" itself was a fabrication of Hellenistic Jews and/or Gentile (Greek-Speaking) Proselytes who were feuding with the Hebrew-Speaking Jews circa 200BC-50AD. Hebrew speaking Jews did not disapprove of Greek translations but they preferred other Greek translations (e.g. the translation done by Aquila and Symmachus) to the LXX. The reasons behind this was not difficult to understand:

i) The LXX was not translated using common Greek but a particular dialect used by Alexandrian Jews in Egypt (there are legends saying that these Alexandrian Jews descended from that group that went with Jeremiah to Egypt after the Judean Exile). In today's terms, it's like having the Cantonese Bible rather than the Mandarin (Pu-Tong Hua) Bible. It was a dialect.

ii) The LXX soon became the Bible of the Christian Church and the Jews wanted to distance themselves from it. Having said that, even early Christian leaders (e.g. the Apostles and the Apologetic Fathers) were not uncritical of the LXX. As can be seen in the NT, there are many instances where Paul and other writers furnished their own Greek translations rather than quote from the readily available LXX.

Now, in view of point (ii) above, it is true that the LXX did play a very, very crucial role in the spread of Christianity (even before Augustine applied his "Ruckmanite" rule to make it the "Authorized Version" of his day). The key to it all had to do with the conquest/journeys of Alexander the Great. Up to this day, no one can explain satisfactorily why Alexander was more interested in an endless journey, an endless quest, rather than in ruling the lands that he conquered. My explanation is this - he wasn't out to conquer lands at all! He was out to conquer the mind. Everywhere that Alexander went, he brought with him the Hellenistic culture, arts, sciences, philosophies and literature. He built Alexandrias (capital cities named for being the center of Hellenistic culture) in every country. Even though his empire was torn in four following his death, the face of the earth changed after that. Hellenism replaced every other civilization as the dominant civilization of the world. Even the Romans were simply Greeks under a different dress - Latin was not the lingua-franca, it was a local dialect - it was Jerome's Latin Vulgate that really supplanted the dominance of the Greek language hundreds of years after other great Latin writers such as Ovid, Horace, Virgil and Seneca.

In short, even the average educated Jew (like Paul of Tarsus) was more trained in Greek than in Hebrew. Greek was like BM to him and Hebrew was like Jawi in Agama Class! With this in mind, the "new wineskins" that Jesus spoke about that was to be far more radical, far bigger than can be contained by the Jewish nation alone, and to be poured out unto the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8) required a different medium and language than the localized Aramaic of Palestine or the Hebrew of the synagogue. This was the centrality of the LXX in the early growth of Christianity.

History lesson over. Now, on to more personal reflections. When I studied Greek, I was more fascinated by the history behind the language than in the language itself. When I perused the LXX, I was more fascinated by the Alexandrian Community that produced this translation than in the overall Old Testament itself! Again, the sitz-im-leben thing! The Alexandrian Community differed in so many ways from latter Orthodox Judaism. First and foremost, they developed their own Wisdom tradition. Many apocryphal books would not have been preserved until today were it not for the efforts of these Alexandrian divines. For example, read the prologue to the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). The prologue explains that the book was originally written in Hebrew but later translated into Greek (along with the rest of the LXX). But up to this second, no Hebrew manuscript have been found. In short, orthodox Judaism (with their strict adherence to questions of canonicity) did not have a place for that book and it would not have been preserved were it not for the LXX. It is the same thing with all the other books like the dictation of Jeremiah to Baruch, the histories of the Maccabean revolt, the writings of Esdras (Ezra), the angelic lore of Tobit, the Song of the Three Children, etc. What a great wealth of rich religious traditions would've been lost forever were it not for the LXX!!! Apart from that, the LXX was always a wondrous book to me (especially in the eclectic translation of Launcelot Brenton). It's like the Bible that we've always known but somewhat *different*. I don't know how to explain it. It's like when you read the LXX Genesis 8-9, and it talks about Mount Ararat, you feel the antiquity of the tale and place. You feel like you're holding a really old document and you'd like to take it all the way with you on an "Indiana Jones"-like adventure to Mount Ararat to look for the Ark. It's all childish nonsense, I'm sure of it, but it was grand romance when I first experienced it! (And I believe Ko-Dee felt the same too, when he first got his hands on it!)


[Note to Pltypus: See the pic above? That's how the Launcelot Brenton LXX looks like. It's not an Interlinear, it's got both the Greek text and an actual translation of it in English printed side-by-side. In other words, you can readily ignore the Greek text and just enjoy the English translation that was made directly from the LXX! Also, the Letter of Aristeas is available online for free. A fascinating story. I was obsessed with the book during my college days...]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ode To The Blackest Black Preacher Ever

Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith didn't win you acclaim on the blogosphere where you make a public show of your talents by regurgitating the efforts of better men and vomiting the half-digested crap all over comments boxes.
Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith killed you.


The Ko-Dee was the blackest of the black preachers.
On a good day, he looked like the love-child of Deepak Chopra and Kavita Kapoor.
On a bad day, he looked like Father Abraham on steroids.
[I was there by his death bed in Assunta Hospital and believe me, he really did look like Father Abraham on steroids!]


The Ko-Dee played billiards with the best and won.
The Ko-Dee played crickets like an Englishman with the best of his generation.
The Ko-Dee drove around in fancy cars and chased after fancy girls.
Then he had his Damascus Road experience and turned his back on his past.
He became a preacher.
He studied and worked, studied and worked.
His wife and daughters supported him, wept with him and prayed for him.
Some Koreans showed kindness and gave him a study-loan to buy books.
Time was, books didn't come easy so each of them were cherished.
Even so, the Ko-Dee was never a miser or treated his books like trophies to be displayed on an online "Library Thing" to be admired.
Truth is, the Ko-Dee never even bothered to wrap up his books or to set up bookshelves.
He read the books and then handed them out (to young punks like yours truly - poor college kid with too much hot air and too short an attention-span!)


The Ko-Dee took me around on his van for visitations.
During the long van-rides, he taught me Hebrew and Greek.
Handed me his volume of the Septuagint and explained to me the Mishnah and the Talmud.
At other times, we talked about the attraction of older women and shared our admiration for Samuel Johnson and D.H. Lawrence (kindred spirits who loved older women).
The Ko-Dee told me that he loved the church like he loved his wife.
He was to pay with his life for that same love.


Pltypus met the Ko-Dee during his misspent youth.
The Ko-Dee took his posse from Koo-Lai to the youth-fellowship meeting in Bee-Pee.
The Ko-Dee took his gigantic Hexapla Bible from Koo-Lai to the youth-fellowship meeting in Bee-Pee.
Pltypus sat through the Ko-Dee's sermon that fateful evening.
Didn't understand a word.
But one word stayed with him.
YAHWEH.
From Psalm 23.
YAHWEH.
The Ko-Dee breathed sulphur and spoke fire.
The Ko-Dee thundered from the pulpit and the youths trembled.
One word sermon.
From Psalm 23.
One word was all he needed.
One word was all anyone needed.
YAHWEH.


Years later, La Tey and a piano-player who was rejected by the Rapture Call joined me in KUL.
The piano-player was my room-mate. We were going to college.
We ended up listening to the Ko-Dee screaming like a deranged negro-field preacher about Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.
It was a different time.
It was a different crowd.
La Tey and I cheered him on.
The piano-player was still wondering about why he was rejected by the Rapture Call (was it his IQ? did he need another shot at the Psychosometric Test in Universiti Malaya?)
The crowd looked bored.
Disinterested.
Later complained that the Ko-Dee's sermons were not "edifying", only full of "exhortations"!
Actually, none of them understood those words - "edification" or "exhortation".
What they meant was that they were dense and wanted religious entertainment and jokes.
The Ko-Dee joked like a demon-biker.
The Ko-Dee joked like the drunken poker-player trying to con the Devil.
The Ko-Dee joked like the Westminster Divines who were deranged enough to frame something so monumental as a "Confession of Faith".

In his quiter moments, the Ko-Dee was a restorer who worked with his hands.
His was obsessive about his hobbies and chief among those was the art of reviving dead cars.
The Ko-Dee should have been an engineer or a technician.
But he was content to be a preacher,
Who spent his free-time reviving dead cars.
Time was, we had no use for a B.Sc.(Hons).
Time was, all that was required was passion and we could work wonders with our hands.
Even bringing life to dead cars and speaking words of life to dead congregations.


I was privileged to be a part of this work with dead cars.
It was a rainy night.
The Ko-Dee brought his van to my student house.
There was a flat tire.
Stray dogs were copulating in the rain.
The Ko-Dee called out to me with a voice that could awaken the dead.
I ran downstairs.
The piano-player joined me with a puzzled look - still trying to figure out why he was not in the Rapture Call (was it the 53rd question in the Psychosometric Test?)
We worked in the rain.
With jacks, screws and bolts.
Even the dogs stopped their copulation and turned to stare at the three dummies changing tires in the rain.
The van was fixed and we went off to Brickfields to pick up some blind folks for Bible Study.
No one from church came for Bible Study so we listened to the Lord and went into the streets taking whoever we could find.
No one came to the Banquet but the blind, the lame and the disenfranchised.
Two weeks later, I was given an opportunity to preach during the Bible Study.
The blind and the lame sat in and listened.
They had little to give but I preached on being "totally sold-out to Christ".
I preached on total commitment and a life of sacrificial giving.
Time was, young people were taught to breath fire rather give lectures on "Creationism Vs. Evolutionism" or other crap that you can get from handbooks.


On some quiet nights, I stayed back late in the Ko-Dee's office.
Sometimes I helped with sermon notes and slides.
Other times I just sat there listening to him talking about the past.
How his ordination was delayed because of a miserly church (full-time unordained preachers were paid less).
The Ko-Dee's ordination was delayed for twelve years and his wife and kids lived in poverty.
He was ordained together with this handbook-quoting young prick who became the pastor of the church in Bee-Pee.
That handbook-quoting young prick only served as a full-time worker for 1-2 years and was ordained.
The Ko-Dee waited twelve years.
That young prick spoke during the Ko-Dee's funeral.
I spoke after that and thrashed the young prick upside down.
That young prick made a show of his Koine Greek and quoted from his handbooks.
That young prick washed his hands off all involvement in causing the death of the good man.
My wife spoke after that and pointed out the hypocrisies of that handbook-quoting prick along with his cohorts who were hiding at the back of the congregation during the funeral service.
That young prick is leading a discipleship center today and business is good.
I ran into him just the other day in a bookshop.
We greeted each other cordially but his "ang-moh" speaking son who goes to a high-class private school kept bugging him about buying the latest collector's edition sci-fi series.


The Ko-Dee was driven from the two churches he founded in KUL and Koo-Lai.
He was left to rot back in Koo-Lai with 3 other new Christians.
The Ko-Dee continued driving around with the invitation to the Banquet.
He called out to the blind, the lame, the rejects, the pariahs.
He continued reviving dead cars and speaking words of life to dead souls.
The Ko-Dee worked a little too hard and snapped.
I was with him in the hospital.
Stayed with him throughout the night.
He looked like Father Abraham on steroids.
Bloodshot eyes and long, grey beard.
The old fire was still there but buried under a face that had seen too many winters.
He spoke two full sentences to me that night.
"Do you still have my copy of the Septuagint?"
"Continue the good work - the harvest is plentiful but real workers are so very few!"


In the morning, I took a long bus ride all the way down south to visit someone in a hospital.
A girl dying from leukemia.
A girl that I've never even met.
My wife held the girl and we prayed together.

The Ko-Dee died shortly after.
So did the leukemia girl.
I'm still here.
Here is good.

Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith didn't win you acclaim on the blogosphere where you make a public show of your talents by regurgitating the efforts of better men and vomiting the half-digested crap all over comments boxes.
Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith killed you.
Time was, men gave their everything for their beliefs.
Time now, we can still choose to be so.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Roy Thomas On The 70's Marvel Horror Wave

I was pleasantly surprised to find this Roy Thomas interview online at the TwoMorrows site. Roy "The Boy" discussed Marvel's Phase Two and the advent of the Horror Wave in the 1970s. Very interesting times. Very interesting comics work. Also check out Fangoria's interview with Dick Giordano on his collaboration with Roy Thomas to adapt Bram Stoker's Dracula into comic form. The interview comes with lots of pictures showcasing Giordano's evocative and realistic artwork. They really don't make comics like this anymore! Sigh!

When We Dance

Something shared among True Believers (or members of the Merry Marvel Marching Society): Underneath this veneer of pretentious intellectualism and antisocial geekery beats the heart of a true romantic. The year was 2005. I was on the third floor. It was raining outside. I had a cup of coffee. Black. Like the night sky. And she was there. The music was in the air. "When We Dance". And we did. 'Nuff said.


If he loved you
Like I love you
I would walk away in shame
I'd move town
I'd change my name

When he watches you
When he counts to buy your soul
On your hand his golden rings
Like he owns a bird that sings

When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings

The priest has said my soul's salvation
Is in the balance of the angels
And underneath the wheels of passion
I keep the faith in my fashion
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings

I'm still in love with you
[I'm gonna find a place to live
Give you all I've got to give]
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings

If I could break down these walls
And shout my name at heaven's gate
I'd take these hands
And I'd destroy the dark machineries of fate
Cathedrals are broken
Heaven's no longer above
And hellfire's a promise away
I'd still be saying
I'm still in love

He won't love you
Like I love you
He won't care for you this way
He'll mistreat you if you stay

Come and live with me
We'll have children of our own
I would love you more than life
If you'll come and be my wife
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings
When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings

I'm gonna love you more than life
If you will only be my wife
I'm gonna love you more than life
If you will only be my wife
I'm gonna love you night and day
I'm gonna try in every way

(I had a dream last night
I dreamt you were by my side
Walking with me baby
My heart was filled with pride
I had a dream last night)

The Origin Of The SIN Fundies Mind-Prison (The Sequel)

Pltypus just sent me a mail telling me about Doctor Ben's "The Problem of Evangelical Theology". He finished it this morning (and is still sane enough to write mails). I just wrote him a reply talking about the socio-rhetorical method in NT interpretation. I have not read Witherington's book on it. But I've discussed with La Tey over the past several years on NT exegesis so I hope we're on the right track. I'm putting up the contents of the mail verbatim below:

Actually most scholars (worth their salt) are already practicing the socio-rhetorical perspective. Witherington was only further developing his method originally applied to his research on the Wisdom Traditions behind the sayings/acts of Jesus (see his earlier work on Christology - remember that volume that La Tey mistook for his passport into JB?). But in practice, it's terribly dangerous to apply that method consistently - you'll end up stepping on everyone's toes!!! Hahaha!

Take for example the common misuse of Galatians. Everyone (since Luther) uses that as the polemical document, the manifesto against justification by works. In truth, it's got little to do with that or to do with the Roman Catholic Church. The socio-rhetorical method demands that we: (i) understand the social concerns of the writer's/audience's times and (ii) to understand the style/dialogue/arguments of the original writer and audience (interlocutor). Luther's application of Galatians may not be wrong (and God can use a person's understanding/application of a text to spark off something...) but note that I said application. It is not the primary socio-rhetorical meaning of the text.

The socio-rhetorical meaning (I suggest) is closer to the following:

i) Christianity was not a distinct religion as yet - it was still very much a Jewish sect made up of mainly Jewish followers who meet in synagogues. They never built churches - the only reason they meet up at home was somewhat like why we met up in homes for Care Group meetings all those years back. They were renegades who believed that they finally discovered the true meaning of the Jewish Faith.

ii) In time, more and more Gentiles joined their numbers. Now, Gentile proselytes to Judaism in the 1st Century were required to be circumcised, observe the Passover, etc. So it was quite natural to assume that the Gentiles who convert to the Jewish-Christian groups do the same. In short, a cultural/racial conversion before a spiritual/moral one (even Christianity practice this everywhere it went - that's why people say we join an "ang-moh" religion - after all, we have to become Presbyterians, Methodists, Wesleyans, Anglicans, etc.)

iii) Observe that Paul had no contentions with Jews continuing their observance of circumcision, feasts, etc. but he felt that the Judaizers should not impose this upon Gentile converts (their acceptance by God was already evidenced by the Holy Spirit). To do so would be to go back to the "old wineskins" and not recognizing the "new wineskins and the new Wine of the Spirit that is poured into them".

iv) Paul also had personal reasons for the above. In fact, the version of Judaism preached by Stephen (a Hellenist) was the major stumbling block to him. Here was a Greek-speaking fellow quoting the Septuagint and speaking out against the ENTIRE JEWISH SYSTEM of being accepted before God and positing instead that Jehovah's favour rest upon those who call upon the Name of a crucified-blasphemer! The Damascus Road experienced convinced him that it was the system of Stephen that was accepted by God rather than the ENTIRE JEWISH SYSTEM that he had learned since a child. ("Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" - God identifies Himself not with the persecutors of Stephen, the Jewish Religious Authorities but with the renegade sect of which Stephen was representative! God always identified Himself with Israel as "my people" but with Stephen in an even more intimate union - ME!) This, to Paul, was an eschatological event of the first magnitude - GOD IS AT WORK AGAIN RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF and it's by this new system, this thing preached by Stephen and not that of the Jewish System.

v) Therefore, Paul saw the threat of the Judaizers (and Simon Peter's defection to their side) towards the entire NEW system that is the basis for his whole conversion, faith and direction in life - not to mention God's personal revelation.

This was the socio-rhetorical context of Galatians. Does it have anything to do with Roman Catholicism, justification by works/faith, etc.? Does it give license to "anathemize" anyone with a "different gospel" (specifically referring to the old Jewish "wineskins" and not modern movements that sound different from what we've been taught!!!)?

We also see that this was not a continued problem as Galatians was among the earliest of the Christian epistles. The later church no longer have this problem because: (i) the main problem of Jewish people being the majority in Christian assemblies no longer existed as Gentiles soon outnumbered Jews; (ii) they became distinct from Judaism because they started building churches away from synagogues; (iii) Jerusalem was destroyed so there was no more center of Jewish worship - the Judaizers all shut up after that; (iv) they started facing other sorts of problems (like in the Corinthian church, and later with the aceticism people and the proto-Gnostics, not to mention the persecutions under Nero and Domitian).

Alas, long-held habits/views are terribly difficult to change. Fundamentalists have been taught (via their ill-informed teachers and their endless handbooks) to read the Bible through the lenses of the Reformers. Truth be told, most of the socio-political (and even doctrinal) issues that confronted the Reformers in their times are now either irrelevant or analyzed to death! Does the Bible have a relevant message for all times? It sure does. But is every part of the Bible to be read in the same way as written directly to us? Not at all. In fact, the Bible was never written directly TO us (though it is, indeed, FOR us). The socio-rhetorical method acknowledges this and attempts to understand the original meaning of the text to its original recipients via the social contexts of the original sitz-im-leben and the rhetorical concerns/arguments of the authors. Then, AND ONLY THEN, do we proceed to find an application of the implications behind Holy Writ to us in our sitz-im-leben. To read the Bible in the style of the Fundamentalists (see my latest blog posting for Reformanda's and Vincit's application of this - also using Galatians) is to apply the sitz-im-leben application-message of the 16th century to the sitz-im-leben anathemizing blogs of the 21st century!!! If it were not so tragic, it would be grand comedy!

I'm smiling... :)

The Origin Of The SIN Fundies Mind-Prison

There are in fact four very significant stumbling blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge. - Roger Bacon

See the "handbook-quoters" at work. (Emphasis mine.) Enjoy! [Original post]

agaricus said...
Daniel,

Thank you for your reply to my comment. I cannot say that I agree with your views, although I respect them as being ones which you hold and believe in.

I happen to believe differently.

Your post is pretty long, and I think I've answered some of the issues you raised re the law-grace dichotomy, in my reply to Vincent's comment back on Isaiah's page; so I'm not going to go back over the same ground again.

You raised the 'prediction' purportedly made by William Miller and Ellen White that Christ would return in 1844. In that you are partially correct: it was William Miller who made that prediction, but Ellen White did not herself play any part in making that prediction. I don't know how much you know of the history of the Adventist church. In a nutshell, the date of 1844 was arrived at by Miller following his study of the 2300 prophetic day period in the visions of Daniel. I'm sure that you'll be able to find plenty of detailed information compiled by practicing Adventists re the 2300 day prophecy, online - so I won't go into that here.

William Miller understood the reference in that prophecy to the 'cleansing' of the 'sanctuary' to refer to the final cleansing of Earth from sin, and concluded that this must necessarily refer to the second coming of the Lord. How he arrived at this conclusion I am not sure, because the Bible does make it very plain that "no man knoweth the hour". I rather suspect sometimes that having spent months studying the prophecy of Daniel, and having actually made a pretty good job of it, he made one vital oversight.

At any rate, once the Great Disappointment of Oct 1844 had passed, many Millerites became discouraged and some even left Christianity altogether. Of those that remained, some decided that Miller might have been 'off' in his calculations and went about setting new and improved dates for the second coming. Still others went back to the Bible, re-studied the prophecies which Miller had gone over, and came to the realization that Miller - though correct with regards to timing - was in error regarding the 'sanctuary' which was to be cleansed.

The portion of Scripture in which the relevant vision in Daniel appears is full of images drawn directly from the sanctuary services such as an observant Jew of the time would have been familiar with. It is based on this parallel, and the statement of Paul's in Hebrews that there is also a sanctuary in Heaven, added to the fact that Moses was shown a "pattern" and told to make the earthly tabernacle after the patter n of the things which he had seen, that what came to be known as the Adventist doctrine of the HS was discovered.

You have also said that I seem to hold to an 'evangelicalized' Adventism, which is vastly different from 'traditional' Adventist teaching. I beg to differ. A lot of Adventist beliefs and teaching is heavily misrepresented, not least because there are many detractors of the church who, unfortunately, have made it almost a point of honour to publish extracts of Adventist doctrinal writings completely removed from their context. What I have written is what I have been taught from my earliest days, and what I have myself learnt from the writings of Ellen White, from the Bible, and through my own study. Of course, you and I may not agree on this - but that is ok.

As to your charge that I espouse inclusivism: I've read over what I wrote to you and think I see how the misunderstanding occurred. By 'as long as you are living up to all the light that you have', what I am referring to - if you look at the context - is the case of a professing Christian person, Catholic or Protestant. Such a person already has the Gospel, yes - but he or she may differ in terms of their level of spiritual insight. If you have been blessed with greater spiritual insight but adopt an attitude of nonchalance as regards the light that you already have, that is not good.

Compare this to a person who, though having the Gospel, nonetheless has less spiritual insight - his responsibility for living up to the light that he has is correspondingly lessened.

I agree with you that a person who does not have the gospel is not a Christian, regardless of how virtuous the life.

Hopefully this has cleared up that misunderstanding.

As to your comment that the RCC is not responsible for the change from Saturday to Sunday, may I please point you in the direction of the Vatican. Rome has claimed proudly for centuries that it was on her own authority, power and God-instituted infallibility that the sanctity of the seventh-day Sabbath was transferred to the first day. Rome holds this act up as the ultimate expression of her temporal and spiritual dominion. You can Google for it and find it online.

As an aside, I'm really quite amused that you think I'm a guy... :)

24/5/08 22:42
agaricus said...
...most people think I sound like a GIRL.

24/5/08 23:20
PuritanReformed said...
agaricus:

I will look to the law/grace comment on Isaiah's blog later, but right now I will interact with your comment here.

Before that, I would like to thank you for your graciousness in answering. Not too many people I know can stand their ground without resorting to ad-hominem etc. Those that do I can respect even though I disagree with them.

With regards to Miller and White, I guess who exactly did make the prediction was pretty irrelevant in this case. The thing is that both of them were the 'founders' of Seventh-Day Adventism so to speak. What I know about Seventh-Day Adventism is only limited to books and the information that I glean from Adventist websites, as I have no prior interaction with SDAs. Yes, the history of the Miller's prophecy is well-known; in fact, it is one of the most well-known fact about Adventism, besides keeping the Sabbath on Saturday, that is.

With regards to misrepresentation of SDA, I'm sure there are misrepresentations around. From what I read, I can see that certain stuff you all believe are not as heretical they are made out to be. Yet, I think I have made it clear in my review of Walter Martin's book The Kingdom of the Cults that my main bone of contention is with SDA's view of salvation, not any of your other teachings. I will immediately look at your answer to Vincent after posting this to see what you have to say about the matter.

With regards to the charge of Inclusivism, I guess it is truly is a misunderstanding. Yet the reason why I interpret it that way is not only because you mention the phrase 'live up to the light you have', which sounds rather like Vatican II in its phraseology, but because you think that Roman Catholicism has the Gospel. The historic Protestant view is that RCism has rejected the Gospel back to the time of the 16th century Reformation, and as such she is a false church, and the Pope the Antichrist. Therefore, we would never say an RC has the Gospel, though we can admit that individuals RCs may be Christians despite the apostasy of Rome.

Lastly, with regards to the Sabbath, yes I do know Rome claims a lot of things. She claims apostolic continuity from Peter and Paul even. Yet, it matters not what she claims, because these are just empty boasts void of truth, both doctrinal and historical. Just because Rome claims anything does not mean that she has indeed possess it. Rome claims to give us the Bible even, so are you going to concede that to her? I most certainly hope not! Therefore, just because Rome claims to be responsible for the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday does not make it so. The whole issue rather should be decided without any reference to that manifestation of Mystery Babylon.

>As an aside, I'm really quite amused that you think I'm a guy

:$ ..... And please do tell, how am I supposed to know that you are a girl?

24/5/08 23:29
PuritanReformed said...
>...most people think I sound like a GIRL.

I hate to burst your buble, but no, I don't see it.

24/5/08 23:30
PuritanReformed said...
Maybe you can post using a nick which sounds more like that of a girl... =P

24/5/08 23:31
PuritanReformed said...
agaricus:

I have amended my post accordingly, so that you are now stated as being a girl.

Anyway, I have seen your response to Vincent, and yes we do agee with certain things that you have said. The traditional Presbyterian and Reformed teaching as stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) together with its attendents the Shorter and Larger Catechism do teach about the distinction of the law into three categories: moral, civil and ceremonial. The moral law which consists of things like the ten commandments are still binding on Christians today. That said, we do not see the keepig even of the moral law as being part of our justification and salvation at all.

From what I have seen, you still do not grasp the issue. The issue is not whether believers are to obey God and follow His law, but whether any law-keeping is meritorious for our salvation. That's why at least for me I would like to redirect you to the book of Galatians. Please read to find out what exactly was the teaching the apostle Paul was so angry with that he pronounced anathema against the teachers who were teaching such a doctrine. I can tell you that is it neither salvation by works nor by keeping the Law even. That is why my friend Vincent asked you whether you believe in forensic justification (imputed righteousness) or imparted righteousness, and it most definitely is not a trick question. I hope you do think through this issue, because I hope you do not want to be lumped together with the Judaizers which Paul condemned, don't you?

With regards to the example of Samson, please read Heb. 11:32-34. Samson here is included in the arena of faith. But even in your admission he did not qualify by his works, so why was he then included in the arena of faith?

24/5/08 23:57
vincit omnia veritas said...
Dear Agaricus,

PS: As I am busy now, I do not have the time to give you an extensive reply.

It seems that Daniel has answered you on my behalf.

My question is found here http://wordnverse.com/2008/05/21/church-ianity/

I feel you haven't answered this:

"Do you believe in forensic justification (imputed righteousness) or imparted righteousness?"

See http://grace-for-today.com/2194.htm for a brief distinction between imputed, imparted and infused righteousness. It seems to me that SDA-ism as described by "Agaricus" believes that only one who is judged (ironically, by men or fellow SDAs?) to exhibit "imparted righteousness" is justified, which seriously confounds forensic justification with the process of sanctification. Also cf. http://www.theopedia.com/Imparted_righteousness.

David H. Linden gave us a good summary of the doctrine of Justification here:

http://www.grebeweb.com/linden/imputed_righteousness.html

Any deviation from this gospel faces the condemnation of Galatians 1:8-9.

1. Justification is an act of God, not a work in progress. However, God’s act of justification always results in His work of sanctification.
2. In justification, God declares the sinner righteous; in this forensic doctrine, God does not make the sinner righteous, but gives him first a standing with Himself. The basis of this declaration is Christ’s obedience, not the progress the Christian is making in holiness.
3. God pardons the sinner in a decree so absolute it has the finality of the final judgment. This decree of God is certain and irrevocable.
4. The basis of our pardon is the atoning blood of Christ alone.
5. The means to justification is faith. "Faith alone" means there is no consideration of our works whatsoever in God’s declaration of righteousness. It does not mean that faith can be devoid of good works, because real faith always results in obedience to God.
6. The principle of grace excludes all participation and cooperation by the believer in the bestowal of a gift. All sense of merit or contribution by sinners toward the decree of "righteous" is excluded. Such contribution would destroy the nature of a gift.
7. Since our pardon is based only on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, all penance and atoning activity by sinners is contrary to this basis. Scripture says, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:21
8. The faith by which we are saved is by nature one that embraces Christ for cleansing, not a false faith that seeks to have the benefit of a pardon, so that indulgence in sin may be perpetuated. (Here on #8, the Roman Church would agree.)

Let's compare this with what SDA literature teaches.

According to John Rice, "Mrs. White, the 'prophetess' of Seventh-Day Adventists, is quoted in their book, Answers to Objections, by Francis D. Nichol (published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C.), page 402, as saying: 'Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved. This is misleading. Every one should be taught to cherish hope and faith; but even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation ... Only he who endures the trial will receive the crown of life."

Again, "On page 409 (of Answers to Objections) Mr. Nichol says, speaking officially for Seventh-Day Adventists: 'Thus we escape on the one hand, the false doctrine of Universalism; and on the other, the equally false doctrine of claiming full and final salvation for a man before he has endured 'unto the end.' "

Francis D. Nichol, in his book, Answers to Objections, states on page 243, "Here is our position: Only those will be saved who, having been redeemed by the grace of Christ, walk in obedience to all the light that God sheds on their way."

Ellen G. White said in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald of 10-26-1897 this statement, "...The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined. It is plainly stated that the condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God".

People are never told at Seminars that if they become SDA's and are baptized, a recording angel is watching their every move to determine their salvation eventually. Ellen G. White issues this warning in The Faith I Live By, page 210, "Every man's work passes in review before God...Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered, with terrible exactness, every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel."

Christians will say, "sure we slip sometimes into unintentional sin, but we have a mediator in Christ Jesus". No, you don't in Seventh-day Adventism. Be prepared for this SDA doctrine by Ellen G. White: "...Those who are living on the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil....". (The Great Controversy p. 425).

From a SDA tract deceptively titled Saved By Grace: "Christ says to every man in this world what He said to the rich young ruler: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,’ Matthew 19:17. In other words, THE STANDARD FOR ADMISSION INTO HEAVEN IS A CHARACTER BUILT ACCORDING TO THE TEN SPECIFICATIONS, OR COMMANDMENTS, OF GOD’S LAW. ... He can lift you up to the place where the requirements of the law are met in you. ... THE MASTER BUILDER WILL STAND RIGHT WITH YOU AND IN YOU, AND SEE TO IT PERSONALLY THAT YOUR LIFE COMES UP TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF GOD’S LAW" (Charles T. Everson, Saved By Grace, pp. 45-46).

From SDA correspondence courses. "It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God’s holy law, but to bring men up to where they can keep its precepts" (Prophetic Guidance Correspondence Course, Lesson 10, p. 36).

"Before Christ comes a second time to take us to His Father’s house in heaven above, we must allow Him to conquer sin in our lives. ... Because in this life we have chosen to accept these lovely graces of Christ as our own, the sudden transformation at Jesus’ appearing will seal our characters. ... ONLY THOSE WHO LIVE THE JESUS-LIFE CAN BE FREED FROM SIN. ... Jesus counseled the rich man who was seeking eternal life, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ ... It is Jesus who delivers us from sin but not in sin. WE MUST ACCEPT HIM AND THROUGH HIS POWER IN US BE SEPARATED FROM THE IMPURE, THE UNHOLY, THE DEFILING—ALL DISOBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENTS" (New Life Guides, #10).

From a SDA catechism. " ... We were slaves to sin. Jesus came down and suffered with us, and for us, and delivered us. As we behold Him in His word, and in prayer and meditation, and serve Him in the person of others, WE MAY BE CHANGED MORE AND MORE INTO THE GLORY OF HIS LIKENESS; THEN, IF FAITHFUL, WE SHALL SOMEDAY SEE HIM FACE TO FACE" (Bible Footlights, 1960, p. 17).

From a SDA doctrinal study. "To whom will God impart immortality? ‘To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality’ (Rom. 2:7). What shall be their reward? ‘Eternal life’ (Rom. 2:7). Upon what conditions may men obtain this blessing? ‘Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life’ (1 Tim. 6:12). ... Will a man’s final destiny be in accordance with the life he has lived? ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Gal. 6:7)" (C.B. Haynes, When A Man Dies, pp. 46-47).

From one of Ellen White’s major works. While discussing the doctrine of Investigative Judgment, Mrs. White presents the following teaching about salvation: "The righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment at which they are counted worthy of ‘the resurrection of life.’ ... As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. ... every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. ... all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance ... the work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another" (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 425, 431).

Observation:

From the aforementioned quotations - and if the SAD still teaches such doctrines today - it is clear as day that they confound forensic justification with a believer's sanctification at best. At worst, it is a false gospel of works-based salvation.

Sanctification may not be complete on this side of eternity; sinless perfection is not a present reality. But a believer can have an assurance of salvation (1 Jn 5:13) and a sense of security in Christ because salvation is a present possession. As David Cloud has summarized for us:

Justification is a present possession (Ro. 5:9).

Peace with God is a present possession (Ro. 5:1).

Reconciliation is a present possession (Ro. 5:10).

Atonement is a present possession (Ro. 5:11)

Eternal life is a present possession (1 Jn. 5:11- 13).

Being a child of God is a present possession (Ep. 1:6).

Being accepted in Christ is a present possession (Ep. 1:6).

Forgiveness of sin is a present possession (Ep. 1:7).

Being made alive in Christ is a present possession (Ep. 2:1).

Being made fit for heaven is a present possession (Col. 1:12).

Being delivered from the power of darkness is a present possession (Col. 1:13).

Being translated into Jesus’ kingdom is a present possession (Col. 1:13).

Mercy is a present possession (1 Pe. 2:10).

Healing of sin is a present possession (1 Pe. 2:24).

So Agaricus, why don't you answer my question and stop giving us red herrings and ignoratio elenchi.

Do you believe in the imputed righteousness of Christ as the ONLY basis for our salvation (i.e. forensic justification)?

25/5/08 15:43
vincit omnia veritas said...
An interesting article by an Adventist.

http://www.greatcontroversy.org/documents/papers/kir-cond.html

I am not surprised when the writer, Larry Kirkpatrick, admits that theirs is a DIFFERENT gospel:

Quote "Obedience does not follow faith, it comes in the same wave as faith. But... This means an altogether different gospel. There is no sliding in this gospel. Consider how this gospel plugs into the great controversy in a way that no other gospel does:

Through obedience to the commandments of God, our characters are built up in such a way that we may be safely entrusted with the gift of eternal life. Justice, truth, love, pity, forgiveness must be found in the heart of the Christian, for in His sermon on the mount Jesus said, 'Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.'28

Our business today is not to downplay the law of God, to hold to an ill-conceived idea that never makes our position any stronger.29 The ark of God's covenant is open in heaven.30 The way into the holiest of all is standing open.31 We are heaven's currently designated agency for upholding that law. For anyone to say that obedience is not a condition in salvation is quite sad; for Seventh-day Adventists to say it is almost infinitely worse; for our publications to say it is criminal." End quote.

So Agaricus, which side do you take? Does obedience FOLLOW salvation, or does obedience accompany salvation?

Which side of the great (SDA) controversy so you take?

Either way, at least one of those two gospels is anathematized by Paul (Gal. 1-8-9); both cannot be true.

Yours truly,
Vincent

25/5/08 20:48
PuritanReformed said...
Vincent:

=)

25/5/08 22:12
Sicarii said...
Sorry if this is OT, Daniel, but I'm also surprised that you're a lady, Agaricus.

Gender is not immediately discernible online if a person only uses their nick. ;)

Just been to your blog too, pretty entertaining. :)

26/5/08 00:43
agaricus said...
Vincent, Daniel

Apologies for not having gotten back to you both sooner. Please understand that I have many committments offline, which does not allow me the pleasureof being able to potter about online - or even with my computer! - as much as I'd like. My response to you both will be of necessity a long one: and as it's being written in snatches of spare time, I'm afraid you will have to be patient. Hence this note, to assure you both that I haven't forgotten about replying.

Phew. The iPhone is murder to type on.

26/5/08 08:38
vincit omnia veritas said...
This post has been removed by the author.
26/5/08 09:10
vincit omnia veritas said...
Dear Agaricus,

Like myself, we are both very busy!

I am mugging most of the time. When I am free, I am working from 8-5pm :P

But I am only asking you a very simple question. It only requires a ONE WORD ANSWER. How difficult can it get?

"Do you believe in the imputed righteousness of Christ as the ONLY basis for our salvation (i.e. forensic justification)?"

Multiple choice:

a) Yes
b) No
c) I don want to say
d) I don't know and I don't want to know
e) Let me think about it again and I'll answer a or b or c.

What is your take?

26/5/08 09:12
vincit omnia veritas said...
Dear Agaricus,

RE: SDA-ism is another Gospel according to your Articles of Faith.

I refer to your official articles of faith:

http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/index.htm
http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/27-10.htm

"The Ground of Our Acceptance With God
Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute nothing to Christ's gift of righteousness; we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom. 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags (Isa. 64:6; see also Dan. 9:7, 11, 20; 1 Cor. 1:30).14

Even what we do in response to Christ's saving love cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that acceptance.

Is our acceptance based on Christ's justifying righteousness or His sanctifying righteousness or both? John Calvin pointed out that as "Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable."15 Christ's ministry has to be seen in its totality. This makes it paramount to avoid speculation about these two terms by "trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. . . . Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital questions of righteousness by faith?"16

Just as the sun has light and heat—inseparable, yet with unique functions—so Christ has become to us righteousness as well as sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). Not only are we fully justified but also fully sanctified in Him.

The Holy Spirit brings the "It is finished" of Calvary within, applying the only experience of God's acceptance of humanity to us. This "It is finished" of the cross calls in question all other human attempts to gain acceptance. In bringing the Crucified within, the Spirit brings the only ground of our acceptance with God, providing the only genuine title to and fitness for salvation available to us."

The serious error lies in this phrase: "Is our acceptance based on Christ's justifying righteousness or His sanctifying righteousness or both? ... Christ's ministry has to be seen in its totality. This makes it paramount to avoid speculation about these two terms by "trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. . . . Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital questions of righteousness by faith?"

Here, is it very clear that the article misquotes Calvin (see end note 15) out of context and made him say what he was actually refuting in his Institutes in III, XI, 6 against the errors of Osiander.

Here, we may peruse the writings of Seng-Kong Tan in "Calvin's doctrine of Our Union with Christ," Quodlibet Journal 5 (2003) to put the issue in perspective:

"Through participatio Christi, Calvin asserts that “we principally receive [the] double grace” of justification and regeneration. Both “our purgation and regeneration” are fundamentally trinitarian “events” wherein one recognizes “in the Father the cause, in the Son the matter, and in the Spirit the effect.”[52] Echoing the Chalcedonian Christological principle, this double grace of justification and sanctification are not to be separated,[53] but united in Christ;[54] and yet, they must be distinguished and not confused.[55] Calvin considers the sun to be a most apposite metaphor in explicating this double grace: “The sun, by its heat, quickens and fructifies the earth [sanctification], by its beams brightens and illumines it [justification by faith].”[56] To pull apart justification and good works is to hold a “Nestorian” soteriology;[57] to make them indistinguishable is to hold on to an “Eutychian” view of salvation, as Osiander did.[58] Union with Christ is, therefore, the soteriological correlate to the Christological notion of the hypostatic union."

SDA-ism commits the same error of "Eutychain" soteriology by confounding justification and sanctification, and making these two doctrines indistinguishable as Osiander did. John Calvin was refuting this error in the respective portions of his Institutes. He writes:

"Yet reason itself forbids us to transfer the peculiar qualities of the one to the other. In this confusion of the two kinds of grace that Osiander forces upon us there is a like absurdity. For since God, for the preservation of righteousness, renews those whom he freely reckons as righteous, Osiander mixes that gift of regeneration with this free acceptance and contends that they are one and the same. ... [The apostle Paul] clearly indicates that to be justified means something different from being made new creatures." (III, xi, 6)

This reflects very badly upon the integrity and scholarship of SDA scholars, even in their articles of faith which should all the more be reflective of honest research.

SDA-ism therefore conclusively preaches another gospel, which is different from the one I know.

Yours truly,
Vincent

26/5/08 10:56
vincit omnia veritas said...
The following quote from "Questions on Doctrine" speaks clearly concerning the SDA's repudiation of forensic justification based upon the mere imputation of the righteousness of Christ apart from works of Man.

Page 420, QUESTIONS ON DOCTRINE

"IX. Investigative Judgment as Part of the Program of God

In view of the principles here set forth, it seems to us abundantly clear that the acceptance of Christ at conversion does not seal a person's destiny. His life record after conversion is also important. A man may go back on his repentance, or by careless inattention let slip the very life he has espoused. Nor can it be said that a man's record is closed when he comes to the end of his days. He is responsible for his influence during life, and is just as surely responsible for his evil influence after he is dead. To quote the words of the poet, "The evil that men do lives after them," leaving a trail of sin to be charged to the account. In order to be just, it would seem that God would need to take all these things into account in the judgment."

So, according to SDA-ism, "it seems to [them] abundantly clear that the acceptance of Christ at conversion does not seal a person's destiny." This begs the question: is forensic justification conditioned upon the "life record [of the man] after conversion" i.e. works? According to SDA official doctrine, the answer is inevitably yes.

This seriously confounds justification with sanctification, and falls prey to the heresy of "Eutychian" soteriology - which is salvation by works.

26/5/08 14:59
vincit omnia veritas said...
The whole originally published "Questions on Doctrine" is available here:

http://www.archive.org/stream/seventhdayadvent027547mbp/seventhdayadvent027547mbp_djvu.txt
http://www.archive.org/details/seventhdayadvent027547mbp

26/5/08 15:03

[See the ghetto one-two formulae in play? Quote a handbook, next come out with a meta-definition, then point out a hyperlink. After that, say that he's busy with examinations. Next, confrontational objective questions in order to establish a person's position on a cardinal doctrine - so that we can KIV for later "anathemas". A person's "take", "side" or "position" is the most important thing to these adherents in the cult of handbook-correctness (otherwise, it's another gospel and deserving of anathemas). Very, very scary people. Finally, Roman Catholicism as Mystery Babylon! Wow! In this day and age even...]

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Tomb Of Dracula

TOMB OF DRACULA OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC

Written by GERRY CONWAY, ARCHIE GOODWIN, GARDNER F. FOX, MARV WOLFMAN, CHRIS CLAREMONT & DAVID KRAFT

Penciled by GENE COLAN, MIKE PLOOG & DON HECK

Covers by JOHN BUSCEMA & GENE COLAN

Dracula rises from the grave and steps into the Marvel Universe – facing a disembodied brain, a gigantic heart and a ghost with the nerve to steal Dracula's victims! The lord of vampires visits a horrible fate upon the daughter of a long-time enemy, but will his worst enemy prove to be his own daughter? Plus: voodoo, time travel and motorcycle gangs! The cosmic-powered Chimera and a Legion of Doom unlike any other! And who's the tough guy with the knives that snuffs out vampires' lives? BLADE! Can you dig it? Also featuring Werewolf by Night and Hannibal King, Vampire Detective! Collecting TOMB OF DRACULA #1-31, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #15, GIANT-SIZE CHILLERS #1 and GIANT-SIZE DRACULA #2-4.768 PGS./Rated T+ …$99.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-2778-9 Trim size: oversized

[Caught this in the Marvel Solicitations for August. This will be on-sale from October 1st, 2008 onwards.]

The year was 1972. DC Comics saw the steady decline of the superhero set and decided to take their books on a "quest for relevance". Denny O'Neil was enamoured by the hip-journalists of his day such as Norman Mailer and the social messages in the songs of Bob Dylan. He brought that spirit into his "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" book in an acclaimed run with Neal Adams (reprinted numerous times as "Hard Travellin' Heroes"). Marvel, who began the Silver Age superhero renaissance, had gone on to its "Phase Two" with Roy Thomas taking over from Stan Lee on many of the books - in order to free Stan's schedule so that he could go on the road on speaking-tours to colleges and universities. In short, everyone was working hard to court the attentions of the more sophisticated college-students. It was, as if, comics as a whole was being forced to grow up overnight. At the same time, the "bravura" writers/artists of the day were turning conventions on its head with their subversive and counterculture meditations on spirituality, reality, politics, drugs, mysticism, etc. (Check out anything by Steve Englehart, Howard Chaykin, Al Milgrom and Jim Starlin to see what I mean!) The more sophisticated storytelling led Stan Lee himself to contribute several issues of "Amazing Spider-Man" to deal with the rising problems of drug-addiction among the youths in his neighbourhood. The Comics Code Authority (that ghetto-like policeman of four-colour pop-culture initiated because of the fundamentalist tirades of Frederick Wertham) refused to approve those issues by Stan Lee. Stan Lee went ahead and published those issues without the code. The world did not end. Morals did not suddenly slide down the drain. More than anything, those issues proved to the world that archaic values (of an earlier and more cowardly time) needed to be re-evaluted and that comic books really do serve a higher purpose by providing needful information about social issues. The result was that the Comics Code was actually revised - time was, a few gutsy writers could force legislative bodies to change their archaic codes. Time now, young people in their 20s brandishing B.Sc.(Hons) continue to fight for archaic codes and insipid values.

With the loosening of the Code and a demand for more sophisticated literary-graphic entertainment, both Marvel and DC decided to explore the Horror Genre (long since abandoned after the death of EC Comics - another casualty of the archaic Comics Code Authority). Marvel did Man-Thing and DC did Swamp Thing. History is unclear as far as which was the original swamp creature. It was possible that both Gerry Conway and Len Wein were tapping into the same poplorica memes of the day and decided to explore issues of identity and mysticism via masses of swarm glob! Next came other horror gems like Ghost Rider, Werewolf By Night, House of Mystery, the Warren Magazines/Vampirella, Tales of the Zombie and the big brother of horror comics that ruled the morbid Seventies: TOMB OF DRACULA.

This series was the brainchild of Roy Thomas. The first two issues were written by Gerry Conway (who was given everything that Roy himself did not personally write anyway!), the next two were by Archie Goodwin (who was just starting off as a freelancer going on to an editorial position at Marvel - and who worked on the Warren/Vampirella mags as well) and the following two were by legendary DC Alumni Gardner Fox. That was Year One of the bi-monthly mag that began on April 1972. The greatest highlight of the book was, naturally, the art of Gene Colan (inked by Tom Palmer, who also did amazing work for Neal Adams and John Buscema at the same time) that brought a combination of cinematic realism, creepiness and grace to the storytelling. Colan, once known as the laziest artist in the business, really did his best on the series. He was the sole penciller for the entire series (more than 70 issues straight) and something about the stories spoke to his heart. Colan is the type of artist whose art range from absolutely mind-blowing (e.g. Daredevil, Sub-Mariner, Tomb of Dracula) to uninspired fill-ins whenever he's not in the mood. However, even the art of Gene Colan was not enough to elevate the book to true "cult-status". Marv Wolfman was the glue that held the book together. Upon taking on the book from issue #7 onwards, Wolfman gave his heart and soul as the writer of the book for the rest of the decade (before leaving Marvel in the early 1980s to create "The New Teen Titans" with George Perez at DC).

While Pltypus and La Tey were fighting epileptic fits after four nights of talks by Doctor Ben, I was rummaging through my shelves looking for this old "Essential Tomb of Dracula" book that reprinted the earlier issues of the series in glorious black & white. I got that volume for my wife to read during her last pregnancy, if I remembered rightly. I'm the sort of idiot who buys a 600+ page book of vampiric-horror for his pregnant wife to read! Ironically, I never did read the book myself. At that time, I was caught up with the stirrings of the Ultimate Universe and Nu-Marvel under Joe Quesada's goons. My stupidity. This (to quote Pltypus) is indeed "superior comic crafting". Marv Wolfman's writing combined with Gene Colan's pencils and inked by Tom Palmer. I dived into the book and was lost for 10 hours straight. I toured the English countrysides with the Old Count, visited the age-old Castle Dracula in Transylvania, and was caught in the old superstitions of the crucifix, the stake, garlic, and all the colourful Roman Catholic mumbo-jumbo that went a long way into the creation of the vampiric lore that we know and love. I read about Dracula mesmerising a bunch of kids and turning them into killers. Then I fell asleep and had a terrible dream about murderous kids with knifes! Woke up with cold sweat. Time was comics were so potent a mind-drug! And that was long before we had any stupid "Suggested For Matured Readers" tag on the covers. Wolfman wrote the rag-tag band of vampire hunters as humans rather than super-humans. Quincy Harker (son of Jonathan and Mina Harker), Frank Drake (descendent of Dracula), Rachel Van Helsing (daughter of Abraham Van Helsing), the mute giant Taj, and later, Blade and Hannibal King (yes, the blokes from the Wesley Snipes movies!). They were people who were idealistic, passionate, wracked with self-doubt, struggling with their constant failures, looking to one another for love and support, etc. All this long before Chris Claremont made angst fashionable in the pages of "Uncanny X-Men"! Hundreds who've outgrown their spandex fantasies found that they had to continue reading and collecting "Tomb of Dracula". In a way, it was also among the first real serial comic-book by Marvel. It was true that in the 1960s, Marvel revolutionized the industry with its evolving characters (Peter Parker outgrew high school and went to college, Reed and Sue got married, etc.) but the comics were still pretty much self-contained in the sense that one could pick up any single-issue and understand what's going on. Not so with "Tomb of Dracula". Wolfman was so obsessed with his supporting characters that at most times, the sub-plots were carrying the series along at the expense of the weaker main-plots. That was almost unheard of in the era before trade-paperback and hardcover reprints. In other words, you'll pick up an issue from the newstand and chances are, you'll struggle to make heads or tails of the story! The result was that it created a loyal cultic fan-base who bought, read and re-read every single issue! Characters lived and died - and everything that happened was shocking in the days before solicitations, previews, internet fanbases and Wizard magazines! It was a microcosm of imagination made up of passionate creators and their loyal readers - comics were read then, not collected as speculative commodities! There was nothing like it in the pre-Star Wars days to equal that sort of loyal fanbase - except perhaps, Star Trek on TV. One issue every two months, read, reread, dissected, meditated upon, inspiring nightmares and fever dreams...

The crowning achievement on the series, however, is the main-protagonist - Count Dracula himself. This is not the mysterious presence in Bram Stoker's novel. Neither is he the caricatured version captured in movies starring Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. This is, first and foremost, a character. Long before Neil Gaiman came along and wrote human sentiments and developing personalities into his demi-gods Morpheus, Death, Destiny, etc., Marv Wolfman and company were giving us a larger-than-life villain that you'll hate to love - but you can't help but love him despite yourself! After all, he's a serial-killer, a bloodsucker, a demoniac, a sexual predator, etc. But faithful Marvelites also recognize in him the mythic qualities that made their favourite villains such icons. He had the majestic poise of Victor Von Doom, the arrogance and regal bearing of Namor, the self-agonizing pangs of Magneto and even (to an extent) the helpless hunger of Galactus! He encapsulates the best of what makes a villain. Now, everyone who reads heroic fantasy will come upon the realization that the greatest villains is only one fine line away from being a great hero as well (that is why we cheer everytime our heroes team-up with their archfoes to defeat an even greater evil - e.g. X-Men and Magneto fighting Rev. Willian Stryker in "God Loves Man Kills"). Wolfman's Dracula is just such a character - struggling with his love for a mortal woman, fighting his own daughter and regretting that even his own offsprings detest him, showing compassion for a pair of teenage lovers in an obscure farmland, and finally driven to the edge by Satan himself, who stripped him of his vampiric powers to drive him insane! This is the reason why many writers (post-Wolfman/Colan) couldn't resist doing their continuation of this Dracula. Chris Claremont had him appear many times in the "Uncanny X-Men" series to abduct Storm and fight the X-Men. Most recently, Frank Tieri wrote the "Apocalypse vs. Dracula" miniseries pitting the two immortal villains against each other in Victorian London. Then, of course, we have the "Blade" movies, TV series, and countless appearances in comic-books post-Tomb of Dracula. But none of the other appearances can ever match the mythic aura and sophisticated horror of the original Wolfman/Colan run. Accept no substitutes, forget all the other non-canonical appearances of the characters - the original Tomb of Dracula is the epitome of superior comic-craft!

THE NEW CALVINIST

UPDATE: Pltypus is on the move. He has been SEEN skateboarding the great divide and muck of the protestant ghetto. Last HEARD he was with La Tey (having epileptic fits: having a good time, debunking dispensationalism and paying $15 to find out what THEY have done to Jesus) (Not necessarily in that order...)
This is live, caffeine drips and all. From the good doctor site, the spiral link to the nether world of the NEW CALVINIST. If the mud rucking sounds familiar, then it is. We have seen the bastard sons of these NEW CALVINIST coming in the name of SEMPER REFORMANDA but spewing crap all over their own blogs. And defecating other blogs uninvited. Some of them come in the guise of medic-white coat with bibles in their pocket. If you find that sick, then it is. The sick puppies of evangelicalism are out there. Call them NEW CALVINIST, call them what you want. Call them crap. Another sub-ghetto demanding monopoly of minds in the name of theological arrogance.
If you are in town. Hit the starbucks, down your espresso. Open your studies BUT not handbooks, and release your minds. Study till kingdom come. Set yourself the task of having a broader understanding of the chrisitian tradition. Go where the fundamentalist fear to tread - engage church history. FIND OUT FOR YOUSELF THE TRUTH. Time was, Schaeffer walked that path. He blazed it. You should. (And you do not need to have the 5 volumes to do so!)
Recommended reading:
THE PROBLEM WITH EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY
DR BEN WITHERINGTON

Saturday, May 24, 2008

BLUES FROM A CLINIC


I AM TYPING THIS ENTRY FROM A SANITIZED CLINIC. Free online while u wait. Not a bad thing. Only the PC is screwed. The PC's a MAC. And I am tying my fingers in knots navigating the SAFARI. Even the keyboard has a membrane cover! This is a Jeremiah nightmare. Spilling the dirt from a sanitized clinic ...

Every place around the world it seemed the same
Can't hear the rhythm for the drums
Everybody wants to look the other way
When something wicked this way comes

Time was, we believe what we were told.
Time now, folks still insist on believing what they were told.
Time was, we were young and stupid.
Hearts on fire,
feet on speed
but gullible like anything.
We believe what they told us about god
we believe what they told us about salvation
we believe what they told us about hell
we believe what they told us about heaven
we believe what they told us about beliefs.
Like I said young and stupid.
Then we were fed beliefs.
Then we were told what to believe.
Believe and you will be saved we were told.
So the production line of believism churns out believers...
Time now, we woke up.

Everyone told the truth
All that we heard were lies
A pope claimed that he'd been wrong in the past
This was a big surprise

(this part onwards was corrected on my laptop...)
24/5/2008
I was on caffeine drips. La tey was in epileptic fits.
Both of us paid $15 dollars to find out
what they have done to Jesus.
We were promised tea break and 'materials'.
There was a tea break but there were no sign of 'materials'.
Welcome to wesleyan hospitality.
Money for nothing.

Ben Witherington survived wesley.
The good doctor ROCKS!
That we are pretty sure.
He rocked the foundation of some folks
and their hand-me-down beliefs into dust.
Them folks tried to erect their Alamo
insistng on a shootout
with the good rocking doctor.
He shot them down
one falsehood at a time.
Time now, some folks still insist on sleepwalking to nirvana.
Or as the other good Doctor Pink would say, remain comfortably numb.

Evangelicalsm is a many splintered thing with more denominational expression than one can count, and like the rest of the church is to a large extent biblically illiterate or semiliterate.
- Ben witherington lll, The Problem with Evangelical Theology (Testing the exegetical foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism and Wesleyanism) Baylor Press 2005

I left a note for the good doctor in his blog. Hope he received it.
Hope he continue to stay courageous in exposing the frauds that comes in the name of evangelicalism today. The frauds that hides behind blogs populated by fake doctors with their white coats and their bibles in their pocket. Frauds who will close their 'mind' the moment they are exposed for their crap they pass on as 'exegesis'. Frauds that have done great harm to the cause of truth by their handbooks and their condemnation. Frauds who have never allow themselves to enagage people like Ben Witherington lll because the good doctor is beyond their shallowness. May the good doctor stay courageous always.

ORIGINS: JEREMIAH BLUES (PART 1)




Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)

From the album The Soul Cages (A&M)
Words and music by Sting

It was midnight, midnight at noon
Everyone talked in rhyme
Everyone saw the big clock ticking
Nobody knew, nobody knew the time

Elegant debutantes smiled
Everyone fought for dimes
Newspapers screamed for blood
It was the best of times

Every place around the world it seemed the same
Can't hear the rhythm for the drums
Everybody wants to look the other way
When something wicked this way comes

Sometimes they tie a thief to the tree
Sometimes I stare
Sometimes it's me

Everyone told the truth
All that we heard were lies
A pope claimed that he'd been wrong in the past
This was a big surprise

Everyone fell in love
A cardinal's wife was jailed
The government saved a dying planet
When popular icons failed

Every place around the world it seemed the same
Can't hear the rhythm for the drums
Everybody wants to look the other way
When something wicked this way comes

Sometimes they tie a thief to the tree
Sometimes I stare
Sometimes it's me
Sometimes I stare
Sometimes it's me