January 29, 2003

Interesting factoid piece of information from Jay Nordlinger of the National Review. In 1975, Gerald Ford actually said "the state of our union is not good". Last night I wondered if any president ever did say anything other than "the state of our union is strong[er than ever]"

Oh, and among the least-remarked aspects of the speech was a focus on the needs of prisoners. Thats been on exactly nobody's political agenda,
For so many in our country the homeless and the fatherless [I wonder if that bothered any feminists], the addicted the need is great. Yet there is power, wonder-working power in the goodness, and idealism, and faith of the American people.

Americans are doing the work of compassion every day visiting prisoners.... These good works deserve our praise, they deserve our personal support and, when appropriate, they deserve the assistance of the federal government.

[...] Tonight I ask Congress and the American people to focus the spirit of service and the resources of government on the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens boys and girls trying to grow up without guidance and attention and children who have to go through a prison gate to be hugged by their mom or dad.

I propose a $US450 million initiative to bring mentors to more than a million disadvantaged junior high students and children of prisoners.

Government will support the training and recruiting of mentors, yet it is the men and women of America who will fill the need. One mentor, one person, can change a life forever and I urge you to be that one person.

And sometime you have to hear what isn't directly stated:
Our nation is blessed with recovery programs that do amazing work. One of them is found at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A man in the program said: "God does miracles in people's lives, and you never think it could be you.''

Tonight, let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this message of hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you.
Exegete that.

January 28, 2003

Good speech. I worried for a bit when Bush started talking about "Iran" and then I realized that thats just what he meant. I guess someone in the audiance was confused too, because I'm pretty sure I heard somebody shout out "Iraq!" as a correction.

Locke's response was effective too. My one quip is to say that he said we need to go in with the same coalition that was successful in Desert Storm and on D-day. Well, Germany and France didn't have too much to do with D-Day's success...

Gotta admit, this "nigerian" scam letter is a hoot.

Don't forget the State of the Union tonight.

Someone said "Rather than it being the believer gradually becoming a better or holier person, it is instead Christ living out his life through the believer...but you still stay the same old crappy sinful you (Rom 7),"

Romans 7 is plain that it is exactly "you" that are not crappy. That your mind has been renewed, and hates the sins that "you" do, and because of that it is not you doing them, but sin in you. You now have an "inner man" that delights in the law.

So obvious.

For later: An article from 1963 on the french experience eith counterinsurgency in Indochina and Algeria. The algeria stuff is what is important. Someone I know say the french should not be blamned too heavily for their reluctance to approve of war against arab countries, sicne their experience attempting "nation building" in Algeria was so dismal.

This book about seven monks martyred in Algeria in 1996 also sounds interesting, and gives some background on the French history there.

Joseph Loconte should not quit his day job to try his hand at exegesis.

January 27, 2003

In this sermon, the preacher is keen to state that we cannot be saved by "abiding", that there has to already be a relationship in which to abide, which is formed through saving faith. He also calls abiding the opposite of apostasy.

In this sermon, he says apostasy only takes place in those who never had a relationship to begin with, though he properly defined apostasy as a fall from a standing (what standing?). He also claims that the tares are in the church but not of the church. After he distinguished the visible from the invisible. So they are in the visible, but not of the invisible. So what? The WCF says that a realtionship does exist between God and those in the church: they are in the "kingdom", the "household" and "family" of God. (If you are in the family where God is father, what are you?)

January 23, 2003

Lileks was good wednesday. He had this to say about the reluctance of the media to highlight the Communist backing for the ANSWER anti-war rallies this past weekend
It’s not that they support Communism - oh, heavens, no - but they’re suspicious of anyone who seemed particularly interested in confronting the Red Menace. Communism is like, well, chiropractic medicine. They might not believe in it, but they have a friend who did, and all in all what’s the harm, and besides, the doctors want to suppress it, and the doctors are a special-interest group interested in their own turf, so what are they trying to hide? I mean I knew this doctor who complained all the time about malpractice insurance costs, and you should have seen his house. Like he was hurting.

January 21, 2003

These lawyers sound like creeps (npr audio). The piece questions whether the law allowing private citizens to sue for consumer protection claims will need to be adjusted, but it seems to me that some kind of control on using the threat of legal action (a more broadly based problem) is needed. Plantiffs paying the legal bills of losing defendents would be a start.

I was trying to listen to this last night during dinner, but the kids were being too noisy. Nice that I can listen to it now, and I can avoid making the kids shush just to hear the news.

garver is on blog hiatus.

duggan is on i hate blogus

January 20, 2003

In tithing, we are not supposed to "let the right hand know what the left hand is doing"

I think that expresses the ambivalence many americans feel about affirmative action when it gets expressed as quotas. We like to see good done, and know that someone should have an intention to do good, but when we make it a matter of explicit public policy, it feels tawdry and corrupting.

"Every idle word will be called into account"

Since even my sincere words can be idle, I'll have much to answer for. So will many others.

Somone said "But that's not the same thing as a work being righteous "for its own sake," which in theology implies it is abstracted at least from Christ, and often from the doer. All I'm saying is that you can't abstract a work from the doer when it comes to judgement, and whether or not the doer is in Christ makes all the difference, because then it is counted as one of Christ's works instead of the work of a sinful man."
That doesn't fit the parable of the stewards. The lord doesn't say "well done, me", he says "well done, faithful servant".

Whats the exegetical basis for saying the works are counted as being done BY Jesus, and thus acceptable?

Or do you just mean it in the "totus christus" sense of done by the Body of Christ?

I guess I keep coming back to some form of "for its own sake" good evalauation of the work, because I find that demanded by the naming of the works as "good works". Somebody is calling those works good. Someone is "accounting" them as "righteous works". And Jesus didn't do them for us, we did them, but only by his power in us.

And if the mixing of sin makes the works never acceptable, why not say that our sinful works are accounted as good in the last judgement? "Great job with that hatred you had for your father, Paul, since you did it 'in Christ', and what you meant to do was lovingly reproove him" Is that what Luther is getting at with the "sin boldly" and "take the maid to bed" stuff?
The Luther quote about sinning boldly seemed to me to fit with my theoretical reverse aquital of sinful works, though I can see why the "maid to bed" one would be irrelevant.

The totus christus sense makes alot of sense here, though it runs up againast a problem of union with christ and the totus christus seeming very much apart from ideas of imputation that Robertson wants to affirm. "Someone" pointed in the direction of totus christus, but it was already too late. Sigh...

January 19, 2003

Anyone else
Anyone else desiring an apology for my comments on their blog, please leave a comment below.

January 18, 2003

Public Apology to Josh

I could try to make excuses for my style of argumentation that caused you so much pain, but I won't and I'll merely repent and ask your forgiveness for my insensitivity to you. I'll respect your request and refrain from comment for the forseeable future. I would hope we could meet someday in a spirit of reconciliation over a couple of beers.

January 17, 2003

Does this help?

Theoretical merit: If you do A, I'll owe you B.

What the law promises: If you do C, I'll give you D, but I don't "owe" you. If you don't do C, you get X

What Jesus does: "I did C. I should have gotten D, but instead I got X. But I'm God, did C, and had F, so X doesn't phase me, and I get B"

A=superworks, B=eternal life, C=lawkeeping, D=life, X=death, F=faith[fullness]. If those subsitutions don't make sense, suggest others

Dabney agrees with Shepherd, in that merit can't be the grounds of eternal life for anyone
Strictly, No Creature Can Merit.

In the strict sense, then, no work of man brings God in the doer’s debt, to reward him. The work which is worthy of this must have the following traits: It must be one which was not already owed to God (Luke 17:10). [...] Last, it must be of sufficient importance to bear some equitable ratio to the amount of reward. One would not expect a large sum of money as wages for the momentary act of handing a draught of water, however cheerfully done. Now, it is plain at the first glance, that no work of man to God can bring Him by its own intrinsic merit, under an obligation to reward. All our works are owed to God; if all were done, we should only "have done what was our duty to do." No right work is done in our own mere strength. [...] There is no equality between the service of a fleeting life and an inheritance of eternal glory.
Could Jesus under the Law, do more than that was owed? [clarification: do more under law than that was owed, and thus get a reward promised by the law for that? Certainly he did more than the law, and gets a reward for that, but then his merit earned is not for lawkeeping] Then how can his active obedience to the law, inputed to us, be the grounds for our recieving eternal life?

I must really be Presbyterian, because I find Dabney's explanation of the condign merit issue more satisfying than how Strodbeck's been explaining it.
It only remains, on this head, to explain the relation between the good works of the justified believer and his heavenly reward. It is explained by the distinction between an intrinsic and original merit of reward, and the hypothetical merit granted by promise. If the slave fulfills his master’s orders, he does not bring the latter in his debt. "He is an unprofitable servant; he has only done what was his duty to do." But if the master chooses, in mere generosity, to promise freedom and an inheritance of a thousand talents for some slight service, cheerfully performed, then the service must be followed by the reward. The master owes it not to the intrinsic value of the slave’s acts, (the actual pecuniary addition made thereby to the master’s wealth may be little or nothing,) but to his own word. Now, in this sense, the blessings of heaven bear the relation of a "free reward" to the believer’s service. It contributes nothing essential to earning the inheritance; in that point of view it is as wholly gratuitous to the believer, as though he had been all the time asleep. The essential merit that earned it is Christ’s. Yet it is related to the loving obedience of the believer, as appointed consequence. Thus it appears how all the defects in his evangelical obedience (defects which, were he under a legal covenant, would procure the curse, and not blessing,) are covered by the Savior’s righteousness; so that, through Him, the inadequate works receive a recompense. Moreover, it is clearly taught that God has seen fit, in apportioning degrees of blessedness to different justified persons, to measure them by the amount of their good works. See (Matt. 16:27); (1 Cor. 3:8), or which Turrettin remarks, that the reward is "according to," but not "on account of" the works. See also, (2 Cor. 9:6); (Luke 19:17, 18). Not only the sovereignty, but the wisdom and righteousness of a gracious God are seen in this arrangement. Thus a rational motive is applied to educe diligent obedience. Thus it is evinced that the gospel is not a ministration of indolence or disobedience; and God’s verdicts in Christ not inconsistent with natural justice. It is thus, because the grace given on earth is a preparation of the soul for more grace in heaven. And last, good works are the only practical and valid test of the genuineness of that faith, by which believers receive the perfect merits of Christ. This last fact, especially, makes it proper that the "free reward" shall be bestowed "according to their works"
Back on the issue of imputation of merit to works at the Judgement, I suppose O Palmer Robertson, thinks this part of the WCF is speaking to that
[XVI.VI.] Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
I don't see a whole theology of imputation here. That we are sons, and are in his Son seems fairly real to me, and not simply a matter of imputation.

Interesting article from the City Journal on why many feminists are quiet about injustices towards women in arab and muslim societies.
“Polygamy can be liberating and empowering,” [Miriam] Cooke [a Duke professor and head of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies], answered sunnily when I asked her about it. “Our norm is the Western, heterosexual, single couple. If we can imagine different forms that would allow us to be something other than a heterosexual couple, we might imagine polygamy working,” she explained murkily. Some women, she continued, are relieved when their husbands take a new wife: they won’t have to service him so often. Or they might find they now have the freedom to take a lover. But, I ask, wouldn’t that be dangerous in places where adulteresses can be stoned to death? At any rate, how common is that? “I don’t know,” Cooke answers, “I’m interested in discourse.”
(link via LGF)

January 16, 2003

(from instapundit) Lileks is right about this article by John le Carre.
I'm dead against Bush, but I would love to see Saddam's downfall - just not on Bush's terms and not by his methods.
In other words: when the people of Iraq are liberated, Le Carre will be horribly conflicted. He would have sat in a French cafe in WW2 and spit at the partisans who worked with the Allies, because their armies practiced segregation. Better to be slaves under pure simple evil than free men liberated by hypocrites.

January 15, 2003

Boneheaded ColdFusion programming circa 3 years ago:

<CFQUERY NAME="namecheck" datasource="#DSName#">
WHERE AttendeeID > 699999;

<CFIF #namecheck.RecordCount# IS 0>
<CFSET AttendeeID = 700000> <!--- 400k is the "safe" ID range for unknows --->
<CFSET idlist = ArrayNew(1)>
<CFSET largestcounter = 1>
<CFLOOP QUERY="namecheck">
<CFSET idlist[CurrentRow] = namecheck.AttendeeID[CurrentRow]>
<CFIF idlist[CurrentRow] GT largestcounter>
<CFSET largestcounter = idlist[CurrentRow]>
<CFSET AttendeeID = largestcounter + 1>

This is all to get the biggest attendeeID number (the table index) and then add 1 to it for inserting a new record. Also I failed to suppress whitesapce, so as the count grew, so did the size of the retunred html.

Here is what to do about those suspicious africans who want to send you money

Did I mention that I've heard reports that since 9/11 the number of foriegners approaching scientific societies seeking to gain help in getting a visa has blossomed from nothing? See if we have an open conference, and somebody submits a paper to it, they think they can say that the society has invited them to the United States to do research. Uh uh.

Papers that claim to have invented a newer better form of mathematics often come from such people.

I want to see Gangs of New York. This review points up some terrible historical innacuracies. Lew Rockwell hates Abraham Lincoln enough that he was willing to publish Thomas DiLorenzo positive evaluation of the movie. Sometimes the movie is accurate, but DiLorenzo's rationalizations are from right field
Another perfectly accurate portrayal is the hunting down and murdering of any and all black people who were unfortunate enough to be on the streets of New York. Since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had recently declared emancipation to be a purpose of the war, the draft protesters vented their hatred for Lincoln and his war on the hapless black people of New York City
That's right, their real target was Lincoln, not black people. Shame on Lincoln for imposing racial hatred on those immigrants.

Rockwell's Clyde Wilson has a less egregious take. I think.

January 14, 2003

Game designer Greg Costikan now has a blog. He is the designer of such classics as Pax Brittania, the game that shows how little colonialism has to do with greed, and the very simple game Nuclear Winter Has an interesting link to an essay by MIT's Henry Jenkins riffing off of Gilbert Seldes The Seven Lively Arts, a book from the 20s that argued that vaudeville, jazz, comics, movies, and humor columns were all important forms of art. This was controversial in the 20s.

So it is with games today.

Also, he talks about a game called Snood, which he thinks doesn't get enough respect, compared to the flashy 3d shooters that are so popular. It ranks high on the list of games people have actually played the most in the last year though. Commenters have pointed out that Snood is a remake of Bust-a-move, which I haven't heard of, but which my wife plays when she plays Dynomite

January 12, 2003

My daughter playing with a lego bionicle that has chainsaw arms: "daddy, this man was cutting wood, and the witch came after him"


"But he chased her and he cut her down"

"Didn't that hurt the witch?"


"Why not?"

"she closed her eyes!"

Some folks have been saying that to believe that "Baptism actually engrafts us into Christ NOT [merely] solemnly admits us into the church" is to be in error. [The "merely" needs to be inserted to make the declaration of error make any sense]

I've come accross this before. One thing to point out is the definiton in the WCF of the visible church: it is "the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation". So the baptized are in the kingdom, and in the family. How did they get in the family? Were they adopted? It would be good if the WCF affirmed that the visible church is the body of Christ too. [It doesn't deny that it is, it just fails to affirm it]

But the WCF also says that "All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man"

I wonder, if pressed, whether those who deny that baptism actually engrafts into Christ, would deny that pre-apostates actually have any union with them in love, or that they are obligated to any duties to treat them to their good? Probably not, since the next section speaks of "saints by profession". What are those anyway?

January 08, 2003

Wow. This report makes me a bit skittish about where Jackson is going with Return of the King.

January 06, 2003

Because Bill Frist seems to be a relatively selfless individual, the liberals at NPR decided that demonizing him was too hard. So they resort to mocking him instead (RealAudio)

Why does All Things Considered have satire segements now?

January 05, 2003

Here are some comments on recent search engine queries that resulted in hits for my site.

bodypainted green on television this is not discussed on my site. My dad was against facepainting as too ""hippy", but I mostly enounter it in museums and zoos, where its there to turn a buck. I don't promote it to my kids, and so far they haven't asked. Maybe if they ask I'll tell them about Jezebel.

Polytheistic Seminary This sounds like it would fit the bill. I mentioned "polytheistic" way back in my woefully incomplete World Fantasy Convention report, and I took one course at a non-polytheistic seminary, links for which papers I wrote appear at the left.

Gollum was amazing He certainly was. My site is 11th in googles the list of webpages that contain this fact. Best supporting actor for sure.

"mtg" + "expansion" I have lots of those. I'd like to be rid of them. I designed one myself, based around the beanworld comic book.

counter-strike skin legolas I like counter-strke, but don't see the point in playing the game looking like an elf. Wierdo.

Bunch of Fellowship and Towers queries Many of these were similar. Sam's soliloquy was also too abbreviated in Two Towers, but the fourth-wall implications of it might have too much for the film version to handle. (Assuming the soliloquy refered to is actually the conversation he has with Frodod about being in a story. which isn't a soliloqy. I was hoping for Gimli's soliloquy about Helm's Deep, but alas on that count too.

gene wolfe movie I'd love to see one of those. Maybe, assuming it wasnt ruined.

jay horne I've met him, but hear more from his brother Mark.

hierogrammate means "holy teacher" I think. The term for the superiors to the heirodules in Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. There is a Puerto Rican website for Magic: The Gathering where a poster uses that tag the theif! It was MINE! The site was designed by Pelagic Argosy graphic Design, so seems like there are Wolfe fans involved.

Lathander Neverwinter Nights [plus] Charwood Castle These two were refernecing my one post on that part of the game I'd liked enough to blog about. I keep plugging away at the game, but I'm still only at the end of chapter 2. I think computer games should be more competititve like counter-strike, than long stories.

Agricola had some good ideas

We have some light snow outside right now. I've somehow sprained my knee and ankle, though I have no recall of the event which did so. The Ace bandage helps.

I've usually assumed that the way we treat corporations as "persons" with natural rights has long roots in our countries laizzes faire approach to commerce. But if this is right, then the coinage is more recent, and apparently accidental.

January 04, 2003

Ursinus says: "Objection: There is no precept, or commandment belonging to the gospel, but to the law. The preaching of repentance is a precept. Therefore the preaching of repentance does not belong to the gospel. but to the law. Answer: We deny the major, if it is taken generally; for this precept is peculiar to the gospel, which commands us to believe, to embrace the benefits of Christ, and to commence new obedience, or that righteousness which the law requires. If it be objected that the law also commands us to believe in God, we reply that it does this only in general, by requiring us to give credit to all the divine promises, precepts and denunciations, and that with a threatening of punishment, unless we do it. But the gospel commands us expressly and particularly to embrace, by faith, the promise of grace; and also exhorts us by the Holy Spirit, and by the Word, to walk worthy of our heavenly calling. This however it does only in general, not specifying any duty in particular, saying thou shalt do this, or that, but it leaves this to the law; as, on the contrary, it does not say in general, believe all the promises of God, leaving this to the law; but it says in particular, Believe this promise; fly to Christ, and thy sins shall be forgiven thee."

Strodtbeck is right about Lutherans equating "Reformed theology" with Zwingli. Just look right here (scroll down to "Reformed"). It seems really unfair to the quote from Barth. Lutherans are awlays going on allowing how the Bible does use "Gospel" in a "broad" sense. Well, can't they extend the same courtesy to Barth?

Oh man, that page also reminds us that Lutherans teach "this distinction between the Law and Gospel is thoroughly and mightily set forth by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7 - 9".

I think there are much better evidences for the position than 2 Cor 3:7-9.

[update] It's also curious that unlike the EO and Catholics, and Evanglicals, who compartively seem to just be making mistakes and confusing things, the Reformed writers "intentionally confused God's Law and Gospel" and we're reminded that Paul says of such "Let them be accursed". Insert Girardian mimetic rivalry here.

January 03, 2003

Happy 111th Tolkien's Birthday

Good goldberg file on Lord of the Rings today.

My top ten dangerous and subversive films:

1. A Clockwork Orange
2. The Life of Brian
3. Pleasantville
4. Alien 3: Ressurection [update]
5. Tin Drum
6. Starship Troopers
7. Yentl
8. Sirens

January 02, 2003

Ok, sure, I know that lutherans believe repentence is part of conversion, but why doesn't the word even appear on this page? Its not simply a polemic statement, and I know it's "brief" not comprehensive, but shouldn't it read "repents and is brought to faith in the Gospel"? Is the repentence subsumed under "faith in the gospel"? Or is repentence merely "learning you are lost" without also being sorrowful or desisting?

Josh Strodbeck and I have been going at it again over Lutheran distinctives. This was sparked by Strodbeck's claim that the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord answered all John Frame's objections to the Epitome's distinctions between a "proper" use of the terms "law" and "gospel" and a broader Biblical use.

In the course of this, I skimmed the Solid Declaration and found that many more distinctions are made in Lutheranism than Frame allowed for, and so I think now that Frame's article (directed more at Reformed Law/Gospel theologians than Lutherans anyway) is deficient in addressing the full context. It also seemed to me that the Solid Declaration sounded even more definitionalist than the WCF does. By which I mean that in thinking that declarations of distinctions between theological terms have been made, these terms may then usefully be applied hermenuticly to exegete or resolve particular tensions in Biblical Theology. (The classic example of this in my context in the reliance on the Westminster Confession on the distinctions between the eternal Moral Law, the temporary Ceremonial Law, and the expired Judicial Law of Israel.
Having made these distinctions one might think that exegeting the law is simply a matter of determining which of these categories a particular law fits in, and apply it accordingly. Well, this will obscure several aspects of the form and content of the law. The law contains ceremonial concerns with respect to the civil law matter of judging an unsolved murder, which is a moral law violation. We might more profitably see the New Covenant cleansing of food not as a simple abrogation of law, but as a change in law, as foods that were unclean are declared clean. So we have a new "ceremonial law" for the church, which differs from the old, rather than simply a now irrelevant old ceremonial law.)

I immediately was intrigued that the Solid Declaration was addressed to the very point of a dispute that had arisen among Lutheran theologians because of the fluidity of the use of the terms "law" and "gospel" in the Bible.
[V.2] Now, here likewise there has occurred a dissent among some theologians of the Augsburg Confession; for the one side asserted that the Gospel is properly not only a preaching of grace, but at the same time also a preaching of repentance, which rebukes the greatest sin, namely, unbelief. But the other side held and contended that the Gospel is not properly a preaching of repentance or of reproof [preaching of repentance, convicting sin], as that properly belongs to God's Law, which reproves all sins, and therefore unbelief also; but that the Gospel is properly a preaching of the grace and favor of God for Christ's sake, through which the unbelief of the converted, which previously inhered in them, and which the Law of God reproved, is pardoned and forgiven
The questions I have as I consider the Solid Declaration are 1) do the additional distinctions made make sense or entail absurd conclusions, and 2) do the distinctions have an exegetical basis?

One thing to note here is that the "other side" in this debate seems to hold that those who have heard the message of repentance (as law) are here said to be "converted" already in some sense "prior" to their belief in the gospel which affirms their pardon for their past unbelief.

The Solid Declaration starts to resolve the above dissent by setting our the two senses in which the gospel is used in scripture, in one sense as everything there is to know about Christ and his work, and in another sense of the offer of forgiveness of sins:
[V.4] For sometimes it is employed so that there is understood by it the entire doctrine of Christ, our Lord, which He proclaimed in His ministry upon earth, and commanded to be proclaimed in the New Testament, and hence comprised in it the explanation of the Law and the proclamation of the favor and grace of God, His heavenly Father, as it is written, Mark 1, 1: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And shortly afterwards the chief heads are stated: Repentance and forgiveness of sins. Thus, when Christ after His resurrection
commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel in all the world, Mark 16, 15, He compressed the sum of this doctrine into a few words, when He said, Luke 24, 46. 47: Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations. So Paul, too, calls his entire doctrine the Gospel, Acts 20, 21; but he embraces the sum of this doctrine under the two heads: Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. [5] And in this sense the generalis definitio, that is, the description of the word Gospel, when employed in a wide sense and without the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel is correct, when it is said that the Gospel is a preaching of repentance and the remission of sins. For John, Christ, and the apostles began their preaching with repentance and explained and urged not only the gracious promise of the forgiveness of sins, but also the Law of God. [6] Furthermore the term Gospel is employed in another, namely, in its proper sense, by which it comprises not the preaching of repentance, but only the preaching
of the grace of God, as follows directly afterwards, Mark 1, 15, where Christ says: Repent, and believe the Gospel.
The exegetical claim here is that the bible can speak of a general gospel, as in Mark 1:1, but that it is further divided into two heads, one of which is lawward in orientation (repentance) and another in the "proper gospel" sense of forgiveness of sins. I guess the reference here is Mark 1:4, where John preaches a baptism of (1) repentance for [or unto] (2) the remission of sins. The claim here really reads like a simple assertion. The Declaration states the obvious fact that Mark 1:1 is an expansive use of the term "gospel" but then claims that the text of Mark is immediately giving two "halves" of that total teaching about Christ. I'm not sure why I would find that compelling. John's baptism in a preliminary way is given to those who are confessing their sins and repenting, and in being baptized they are themselves receiving assurance that their sins are remitted. But where can we see a setting out of two heads of the doctrine of the gospel of Christ?

Secondly the claim is made that the preaching of John, Jesus and the apostles includes of course the "properly gospel" promise of forgiveness of sins, but that their "preaching of repentance" is a preaching of "the law of God". I'm having a lot of difficulty apprehending how preaching repentance can just be preaching "law", if we understand "law" to mean the righteous requirements of God that cannot be met by sinful man. It involves not just that, but also a solicitation of sorrow and contrition in the sinner who hears the righteous standard, and that sorrow and contrition have to be something borne of faith that the sorrow and repentance will result in pardon for the sin, not (who foolishly could claim this) because the *sorrow* was credited as a meritorious work that meets the standard bus simply because it is a necessary step in the transition from wrath to grace.

It seems the Solid Declaration would have us believe that when Jesus does say in Mark 1:15 "repent, and believe the gospel" that his soliciting of our repentance is supposed to provoke terror in our hearts at the impossibility of it all, which will drive us to the second "half" where we believe that we are already forgiven. Well when do we actually repent?

I question the simple assumption that a preaching of repentance is not message about a gracious God. One who repents does so already knowing mercy is offered (on the basis of Jesus, not the repentance) to the contrite sinner. If one had only a terror of judgment and no faith in a forgiving God, who would repent? "Ok, I know you'll damn me anyway, but I'm supposed to be sorry for my sins for no apparent reason". That's where this theologizing becomes so reminiscent of Gerstners horrific account of a sinners prayer in Repent or Perish where the sinner just talks about how much he hates God and doesn't want to even be saved, and can't look for mercy because he will have to wait for God to work repentance in him first.

I know, Lutherans will will just deny that any logical conclusions drawn from their boundary statements are valid statements of their beliefs, but here the problem is also with the boundary statements themselves.

The Declaration goes on to distinguish two senses of repentance:
[V.7] Likewise the term repentance also is not employed in the Holy Scriptures in one and the same sense. For in some passages of Holy Scripture it is employed and taken for the entire conversion of man, as Luke 13, 5: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And in 15, 7: Likewise joy shalt be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. [8] But in this passage, Mark 1, 15, as also elsewhere, where repentance and faith in Christ, Acts 20, 21, or repentance and remission of sins, Luke 24, 46. 47, are mentioned as distinct, to repent means nothing else than truly to acknowledge sins, to be heartily sorry for them, and to desist from them. 9] This knowledge comes from the Law, but is not sufficient for saving conversion to God, if faith in Christ be not added, whose merits the comforting preaching of the holy Gospel offers to all penitent sinners who are terrified by the preaching of the Law. For the Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of sins, not to coarse and secure hearts, but to the bruised or penitent, Luke 4, 18. And lest repentance or the terrors of the Law turn into despair, the preaching of the Gospel must be added, that it may be a repentance unto salvation, 2 Cor. 7, 10.

This is where I really have trouble. My first problem is that the passages given as evidence of "repentance" meaning "total conversion" seem only to be taken that way because we are already making the assumption that a passage that mentions repentance without mentioning faith, etc must mean to include faith, etc because of an a priori need to harmonize all texts to fit the lutheran theology of salvation by faith alone. It's not exegesis; it's imposition.

Secondly, repentance is defined "properly" as acknowledging sin, hearty sorrow, and desisting from sin. But then "This knowledge comes from the Law" is stated. That seems fine as an explanation of how men who repent will "acknowledge sins", but the hearty sorrow and desisting are not matters of "knowledge" but a response to knowledge.

The Declaration is careful to state how the Gospel is merely the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, on the basis of texts which mention repentance as distinct from believing the Gospel. But all Lutheranism leaves us with is "Law" to identify the requirement of repentance, but Law is supposed to show us our inability and total corruption, but the Gospel is "offer[ed] to all penitent sinners who are terrified by the preaching of the Law" How did they ever become penitent? How did they desist?

Is this just saying that repentance is "becoming terrified by the law"? I guess that would work, but it doesn't match the definition of repentance used before and it doesn't distinguish Judas' attitude. And if the command to repent is itself a rebuke to the sin of unrepentant unbelief, how can that "preaching of law" actually result a proper penitence towards one's own unbelief?

But I certainly don't deny that repentance as defined is sufficient for "saving conversion" (though what of the description of the one side in V.2?) But I'd rather look at passages like Mark 1:15 as saying that as the righteous Kingdom comes there is a necessary repentance for those who wish to enter into it. The penitent one will be heartily sorrowful, turn from his sin while apprehending by faith the mercy of God in Christ, and he will believe the good news [gospel] of the arrival of the Kingdom where the righteous and merciful Christ is Lord. That I can see an exegetical case for, and N. T. Wright has ably demonstrated this an an important context for interpreting the term "gospel".

I'm having difficulty understanding why anyone would want to deny that a true repentance involves apprehension of the offered mercy of God in Christ. It doesn't make repentance into a meritorious work, and it doesn't minimize the necessary realization of the worthlessness of the sinner before the standard of the Law.

Welcome to new blogger Samuel Pepys.

Mark Steyn has an excellent year-end review.

So does Dave Barry. Two of my friends in college were named Dave and Barry.

January 01, 2003

Happy New Year!

De script shun




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