Thursday, February 24, 2011

Catholics Can Disagree On Theology-- Even with the Theology of their Pope

For Rome's apologists, the evangelical distinction between essentials and non-essentials is unacceptable. They blame Sola Scriptura for "disunity" among evangelicals. They cannot make room for the fact that it is possible for us to be united in essentials and have liberty on non-essentials and exercise charity towards each other in all things.

Yet one of their cardinals explains that even within the Roman Catholic system, theology is open to debate and criticism. Even if a view is held by Joseph Ratzinger himself, it only "requires a greater degree of assent" but you are free to dissent if you want to.

from the Catholic News Service

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's Ethical and What's Not?

"...God is light and there is no darkness in him at all" 
(1 John 1:5)
Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the New Living Translation

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

May 10, 1973, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 187, "Prescribing the use of the metric system of weights and measures as the standard measurement for all products, commodities, materials, materials, utilities and services and in all business and legal transactions."

If that law was not implemented, perhaps until now we have to say "pabili nga ng isang salop" whenever we buy rice.

We use to measure length by our body parts like "dangkal", "dipa", and "dali". The problem is different people have different body sizes. So it is not unusual that the six "dangkals" of rope I possess is shorter than the six "dangkals" that you have. This is one of the problems solved by P.D.187, it has set a STANDARD by which we measure things.

One branch of philosophy deals with the study of what's right and what's wrong. This is called ETHICS.

Though men believe that there are ethical and non-ethical acts (right and wrong), their problem is that they don't have an objective standard to determine what is ethical and what is not. Relativism is inevitable in this system. What is right for you may be wrong for me; and what's right for you may be wrong for me.

In this area, the Christian Worldview shines! We do have a standard by which we measure which acts are good and which acts are bad. This standard is two-fold:

1. God's Nature- Whatever conforms to God's nature is good. Whatever is contrary to his nature is bad.

2. God's Affections- Whatever God delights in is good. Whatever grieves or angers him is bad.

This is our two-fold standard. Why is this so? Because God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). In biblical usage, light refers to truth; darkness refers to falsehoods and lies. Light also refers to whatever is holy and pure; and darkness is sin and wrongdoing.

God is all light; there is no falsehood in him (Heb.6:18). He is perfectly holy and pure. There is not even a hint of sin in him (Habakkuk 1:13)

Because of this, it makes perfect sense that we should make him the STANDARD by which we measure what's ethical and what's not.

Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path"

John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Deu.32:4 "He is the Rock; his work is perfect. Everything he does is just and fair.He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!"

Isa.45:19 "... I, the Lord, speak only what is true and right."


Friday, February 11, 2011

INDEX: Turretinfan's Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians"

1. Where did Jesus give instructions that the Christian faith should be based exclusively on a book? Answer

2. Other than the specific command to John to pen the Revelation, where did Jesus tell His apostles to write anything down and compile it into an authoritative book? Answer

3. Where in the New Testament do the apostles tell future generations that the Christian faith will be based solely on a book? Answer

4. Some Protestants claim that Jesus condemned all oral tradition (e.g., Matt 15:3, 6; Mark 7:813). If so, why does He bind His listeners to oral tradition by telling them to obey the scribes and Pharisees when they “sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt 23:2)? Answer

5. Some Protestants claim that St. Paul condemned all oral tradition (Col 2:8). If so, why does he tell the Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thes 2:15) and praises the Corinthians because they “hold firmly to the traditions” (1 Cor 11:2)? Answer

6. If the authors of the New Testament believed in sola Scriptura, why did they sometimes draw on oral Tradition as authoritative and as God’s Word (Matt 2:23; 23:2; 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Pet 3:19; Jude 9, 14 15)? Answer

7. Where in the Bible is God’s Word restricted only to what is written down? Answer

8. How do we know who wrote the books that we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Hebrews, and 1, 2, and 3 John? Answer

9. On what authority, or on what principle, would we accept as Scripture books that we know were not written by one of the twelve apostles? Answer

10. Where in the Bible do we find an inspired and infallible list of books that should belong in the Bible? (e.g., Is the Bible’s Table of Contents inspired?) Answer

11. How do we know, from the Bible alone, that the individual books of the New Testament are inspired, even when they make no claim to be inspired? Answer

12. How do we know, from the Bible alone, that the letters of St. Paul, who wrote to first century congregations and individuals, are meant to be read by us as Scripture 2000 years later? Answer

13. Where does the Bible claim to be the sole authority for Christians in matters of faith and morals? Answer

14. Most of the books of the New Testament were written to address very specific problems in the early Church, and none of them are a systematic presentation of Christian faith and theology. On what biblical basis do Protestants think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings? Answer

15.  If the books of the New Testament are “self-authenticating” through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to each individual, then why was there confusion in the early Church over which books were inspired, with some books being rejected by the majority? Answer

16. If the meaning of the Bible is so clear—so easily interpreted—and if the Holy Spirit leads every Christian to interpret it for themselves, then why are there over 33,000 Protestant denominations, and millions of individual Protestants, all interpreting the Bible differently? Answer

17. Who may authoritatively arbitrate between Christians who claim to be led by the Holy Spirit into mutually contradictory interpretations of the Bible? Answer

18. Since each Protestant must admit that his or her interpretation is fallible, how can any Protestant in good conscience call anything heresy or bind another Christian to a particular belief? Answer

19. Protestants usually claim that they all agree “on the important things.” Who is able to decide authoritatively what is important in the Christian faith and what is not? Answer

20. How did the early Church evangelize and overthrow the Roman Empire, survive and prosper almost 350 years, without knowing for sure which books belong in the canon of Scripture? Answer

21. Who in the Church had the authority to determine which books belonged in the New Testament canon and to make this decision binding on all Christians? If nobody has this authority, then can I remove or add books to the canon on my own authority? Answer

22. Why do Protestant scholars recognize the early Church councils at Hippo and Carthage as the first instances in which the New Testament canon was officially ratified, but ignore the fact that those same councils ratified the Old Testament canon used by the Catholic Church today but abandoned by Protestants at the Reformation? Answer

23. Why do Protestants follow postapostolic Jewish decisions on the boundaries of the Old Testament canon, rather than the decision of the Church founded by Jesus Christ? Answer

24. How were the bishops at Hippo and Carthage able to determine the correct canon of Scripture, in spite of the fact that they believed all the distinctively Catholic doctrines such as the apostolic succession of bishops, the sacrifice of the Mass, Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, etc? Answer

25. If Christianity is a “book religion,” how did it flourish during the first 1500 years of Church history when the vast majority of people were illiterate? Answer

26. How could the Apostle Thomas establish the church in India that survives to this day (and is now in communion with the Catholic Church) without leaving them with one word of New Testament Scripture? Answer

27. If sola Scriptura is so solid and biblically based, why has there never been a full treatise written in its defense since the phrase was coined in the Reformation? Answer

28. If Jesus intended for Christianity to be exclusively a “religion of the book,” why did He wait 1400 years before showing somebody how to build a printing press? Answer

29. If the early Church believed in sola Scriptura, why do the creeds of the early Church always say “we believe in the Holy Catholic Church,” and not “we believe in Holy Scripture”? Answer

30. If the Bible is as clear as Martin Luther claimed, why was he the first one to interpret it the way he did and why was he frustrated at the end of his life that “there are now as many doctrines as there are heads”? Answer

31. The time interval between the Resurrection and the establishment of the New Testament canon in AD 382 is roughly the same as the interval between the arrival of the Mayflower in America and the present day. Therefore, since the early Christians had no defined New Testament for almost four hundred years, how did they practice sola Scriptura? Answer

32. If the Bible is the only foundation and basis of Christian truth, why does the Bible itself say that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15)? Answer

33. Jesus said that the unity of Christians would be objective evidence to the world that He had been sent by God (John 17:20-23). How can the world see an invisible "unity" that exists only in the hearts of believers? Answer

34. If the unity of Christians was meant to convince the world that Jesus was sent by God, what does the ever-increasing fragmentation of Protestantism say to the world? Answer

35. Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." What is the expiration date of this verse? When did it become okay not only to disobey the Church's leaders, but to rebel against them and set up rival churches? Answer

INDEX: Turretinfan's Unloading 17 More Loaded Questions
for "Bible Christians"

36. The Koran explicitly claims divine inspiration, but the New Testament books do not. How do you know that the New Testament books are nevertheless inspired, but the Koran is not? Answer

37. How does a Protestant know for sure what God thinks about moral issues such as abortion, masturbation, contraceptives, eugenics, euthanasia, etc.? Answer

38. What is one to believe when one Protestant says infants should be baptized (e.g., Luther and Calvin) and another says it is wrong and unbiblical (e.g., Baptists and Evangelicals)? Answer

4/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . say God created the world/universe out of nothing? Answer

5/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . say salvation is attainable through faith alone? Answer

6/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . tell us how we know that the revelation of Jesus Christ ended with the death of the last Apostle? Answer

7/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . provide a list of the canonical books of the Old Testament? Answer

8/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . provide a list of the canonical books of the New Testament? Answer

9/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . explain the doctrine of the Trinity, or even use the word “Trinity”? Answer

10/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . tell us the name of the “beloved disciple”? Answer

11/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . inform us of the names of the authors of the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John? Answer

12/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . who wrote the Book of Acts? Answer

13/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . tell us the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Trinity? Answer

14/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . .tell us Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully man from the moment of conception (e.g. how do we know His Divinity wasn't infused later in His life?) and/or tells us Jesus Christ is One Person with two complete natures, human and Divine and not some other combination of the two natures (i.e., one or both being less than complete)? Answer

15/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . that the church should, or someday would be divided into competing and disagreeing denominations? Answer

16/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . that Protestants can have an invisible unity when Jesus expected a visible unity to be seen by the world (see John 17)? Answer

17/17 Where does the Bible . . .
. . . tell us Jesus Christ is of the same substance of Divinity as God the Father? Answer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bible Access: Vatican II vs. Trent

Vatican II
"Easy access to sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful... Since the word of God should be available at all times, the Church with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books."

Session XXV: Rule IV of the Ten Rules Concerning Prohibited Books
Drawn Up by The Fathers Chosen by the Council of Trent and Approved by Pope Pius:
Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Long-Overdue Tribute Post for Dean Alfredo Vicente

It is apparent from her daughter's Facebook status that the Vicente family has heard many people testify about how admirable he is:

"Wherever and whatevet Daddy does, he hast left a legacy. It was from the accumulated legacies and testimonies coming tat made me realize what a great man Daddy really is."
(-Liezyl Vicente-Frias)

Amidst that plethora of testimonies, my contribution may be negligible in value but I'll proceed anyway. Alfredo Vicente was a long time dean of the College of Accountancy and Business Administration (CABSA) in Virgen Milagrosa University Foundation (VMUF, my Alma Mater). Of course, his influence on me is not on the spiritual level for most probably, he does not adhere to the evangelical battle cries (five solas), but we have to give honor to whom honor is due. We also have to praise God whenever the Imago Dei is displayed. Yes, the Imago Dei in every man has been broken by the fall, but it is not totally destroyed.

After graduation, I never had the chance to practice accountancy. And what we don't review and practice, we will soon forget. I have long forgotten Dean Vicente's lectures on the income statement and the balance sheet, but the lessons he gave transcending accountancy shall surely last.

1. He knows how to encourage and motivate. His strong desire is to produce Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and so whenever he has a chance, he motivates his students to press on. In the classroom and out, he was like a basketball coach who is fond of giving pep talks to the team.

During our first semester as freshmen, he offered the best motivation I heard. He announced that whoever tops the periodic exams shall receive free books from him. And whoever does it for three consecutive exams shall receive a scholarship for the next semester.

I received two books from him (with his patented signature) for topping the Prelim and Mid-Term exams but I failed to grab the scholarship prize when I did not do well in the midterm exam. Yet the fault is not in him but in me. He offered the best he could to motivate us to study well.

2. He taught us to keep our focus on our goal. For him, even if an activity or a hobby is not inherently bad or even useful, you have to get rid of it if it might disturb your focus on your main goal. Cross-stitching may be fine but you must study accounting. Learning how to play the guitar may be fine, but you have to learn accounting.

I think this is where he was upset about me (for joining The Virginian, the official student publication of VMUF) and my friend Albert Calimlim (for joining the Council of Student Leaders). Perhaps he was correct in Albert's case; but in my case my performance in the Accounting classes was already deteriorating even before I joined The Virginian.

3. He has his own share in fighting for students rights, like his crusade in mortifying the Workbook business in the university.

4. He was insistent that if we will be resourceful, there is a way to earn income. He rejects the idea that money is found by working overseas. "No" he objects. Money is right here in the Philippines, if you will find ways to earn it.

5. He desired the political maturity of the people. He offered his services to the people at least twice I think but never won. I had a chat with him at least twice on this issue and he was really upset about the voters who are more interested in vote-buying politicians rather than on candidates with substance.

Priceless Gift; Worthless Recipients

 Romans 5:6-8, 10
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us... For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" (NIV)

One of the means by which we can show our affections for the ones we love is by the gifts we give or by the things we do for them. For example,  the gifts children give to their parents on a father's day or a mother's day. Parents in turn make sacrifices just for the future of their kids, perhaps withholding from their selves some pleasures in life just for the kids' tuition fees. An employee who is free to go home after 5 may extend his labor for an extra hour without pay when the need arises out of love for his employer. The employer in turn may give benefits beyond what is required by the law to his employees out of love for them.

Sometimes, its hard to place value on a gift for more than monetary considerations are involved. Let's suppose that on your wedding day, you received two lechons from two different individuals. The pigs are of the same size so you may say that both givers love you equally. Yet Don Rodrigo gave you a roasted pig out of his multi-hectare piggery, while Mang Kulas roasted the only pig in his backyard. Of course Don Rodrigo's gift has some value on it, but Mang Kulas' gift stands out because it was sacrificial giving. (See the same principle in Luke 21:1-4)

The value of a sacrifice is measured by the cost it takes out of the giver, as in David's case:  “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Sam.24:24).

On this ground, we base our first point:

1.God showed the greatness of his by the cost of the gift he gave—the life of his one and only Son.

Isn't that the message of this song?

We are the reason that He gave his life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
 To a world that was lost He gave all He could give...

Just think about the worth of the person sacrificed: The 2nd person of the Trinity, The One who was eternally with the Father, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the One who sustains of life, the exact representation of the Father, the One who is the object of worship among the angels, the One who even in his humbled state remained sinless. Yet even with this loftiness, he gave his life for us.

His life is of infinite value, more precious than all the soldiers combined. His life is infinitely more precious than the lives of all kings and presidents combined. Yet God gave his Son anyway for your ransom.

Perhaps there is a thought in our hearts that since Jesus is God, and he has the power to take back his life anyway, dying on the cross was so easy for him and it did not cost him much. But to put the weight of the sacrifice in perspective, let us go to Luke 22:42-44. This was his prayer a few hours before he was arrested. It is here revealed that the torture and death he has to go though caused much anguish in the incarnate Son of God. It was too heavy for him who knew no sin eternally to bear sin on the cross. He who enjoyed the love and fellowship of the Father from eternity past must be forsaken for a while-- and the fury of God's wrath must be poured out on him. That caused much agony in his soul a few hours before it took place and surely it caused maximum agony and pain on him while enduring it. Christ death is a true  sacrifice; it was not a sacrifice that cost him nothing. It is a sacrifice of infinite worth.

2.God showed the greatness of his love by giving the gift to unworthy recipients

The truncated quote that appears on the 500 peso bill fails to convey in fullness Sen. Ninoy Aquino's message. Here's the full quote from a speech he delivered before the Asia Society in New York (1980):

“I have asked myself many times: Is the Filipino worth suffering, or even dying, for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy?

I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for because he is the nation’s greatest untapped resource.”

So in the full quote we can see that Ninoy was weighing the virtues vs. the faults of the Filipino people. He saw some flaws in them. Well noted is the cowardice of the Filipino in fighting for democracy. Yet in the end, he concluded that the Filipino is worth dying for BECAUSE he is the greatest untapped resource of the nation. The virtues still outweigh the faults. .. And the rest is history. Ninoy is now counted among the heroes of the nation.

But God's love is infinitely greater than the love of any national hero for Jesus died for us who are not worth dying for. The point of the passage is that God's love is unparalleled. For we will not die for bad persons though for good persons, there are rare cases of martyrdom. Yet God's love surpasses all we could do by giving the life of his Son for us who are bad, Bad, BAD! Paul makes this point clear by using a variety of words to describe the recipients of God's love (I used a Greek lexicon for this task)

a. weak, powerless (v.6)-- it talks about our inability to rescue ourselves from the condition we are in  (Rom.8:7, John 6:44)

b. ungodly (v.6)-- it refers to persons who have no regard for God and his standards.(2 Pet.2:5-6-- flood/Sodom)

c sinners (v.8)- we are not occasional sinners; we customarily sin. Sinning is our lifestyle

d. enemy- well, we don't have to consult the lexicon on this one. Just think about the Diaz siblings: Romy and Paquito; or Max Alvarado or Bella Flores.

On the human level, no man will sacrifice his life for villains. Perhaps Clark Kent can sacrifice his life for Lana Lang or Lois Lane, but he would not die for Lex Luthor. Yet Christ died for villains namely you and me.

For the application part, we have already looked into in when we started. Heb. 12:4-13, do not ever think God is against you when you are going through discipline or life's hardships. Look into what he has done for you at the cross. The tragedies and calamities of life pales into comparison to what God has done for you to be saved from his wrath.

There is a second application: That is We must love God in return. We have to respond to God's love with our own love for God.

If you may observe, the text points to a past condition of the recipients that has been changed already. The powerless were given the ability to draw near to God, and the sinners and the ungodly have been transformed into saints. The enemies are now friends of God. It sounds like the text is saying that the recipients of this love have been turn from God-haters into God-lovers. If your sense of smell is sharp enough, you can smell the 4th petal of TULIP here namely irresistible grace.

Tom Schreiner sees it that way too.

“I don't think this text is simply saying that God showed us his love and demonstrated his love. I mean certainly that's true. But isn't the text saying something more than that when you put it all together? Isn't this text also saying that he won us with his love? In other words God has captured us as believers with his love. He's wooed us and reconciled us and brought us to himself with his love.

We see this on the human level sometimes. A guy likes a girl and she doesn't like him. He wants to marry her and he wins her! It may take a long time. At first she didn't like him... at first there's nothing there but the guy wins the girl and he brings her over finally and they end up getting married.”

(from a sermon titled Trinitarian Love of God
Clifton Baptist Church, 2010-09-12)

The text implies that the recipients of this gift are now lovers of God. The bible doesn't give assurance to God-haters (1 Cor. 16:22)

Now that we understand God's love for us, let us passionately love him and seek to increase our love for him. The reason why we have so little love for God is because we don't understand the magnitude of our offense against him (Luke 7:40-43). We don't understand that we were powerless, sinners, ungodly, enemies of God. We think that our sins deserve only five pesos of penalty, that's why we love him so little.

Again, that song goes:

I've finally found the reason for living
It's in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do, every word that I say
I'll be giving my heart just for Him

There is a biblical support for that--

2 Corinthians 5:15 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ang diyos ni Kenneth Copeland ay Kasintangkad ni Alvin Patrimonio

Ayon kay Kenneth Copeland, ang Diyos ay:
"... very much like you and me... a being that stands somewhere around 6'2', 6'3", that weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple of hundred pounds, little better, [and] has a [hand]span nine inches across"    
hango mula sa mensaheng Spirit, Soul, and Body 1, side 1, audiotape #01-0601