C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thou Shalt Come - Introduction

As I sit here this twenty-sixth day of December in the year of our Lord 2010, I am prepared to embark on a study less than few have intertwined into their lives. Some may find it an unnecessary learning – and perhaps they are correct in the large scope of life, if the mere reading should consume one – yet I cannot but hope that such will rather enlighten me in much greater things of importance along the journey. For what I find at the end may indeed be less significant – in practical purpose – than the gleanings and wisdom which shall become prevalent along the way. Of which, in no small means, would I be equally content with grasping at the understanding of. Though, likewise I am required to retain this expedition must not be satisfied without the acting upon such found knowledge; for what is faith without works[1]?

It is my belief[2] – from experience with myself, along with others I have conversed with throughout my life – when one is presented or seeks out information or questions concerning virtually all things, there appears to be already in place a sense of opinion, thought, or idea – whether partial or in full – concerning it. Even though scripture declares such is folly[3], mankind seems to find it quite easy to do – perhaps even subconsciously acting upon it. Whether due to previous learning we have received through school, media, society, or possibly from family, church, and books, we appear to find it difficult to simply say, “I don’t know” without actually having some preconceived notion of what it might or should be – according to us.

But, is it so wrong to have predetermined ideas of that which we may not know or fully understand? Or, rather – should we ask – how shall truth overcome our presuppositions, if by chance we do not lend our ears and mind to that which is in contradiction? To limit our study to merely one side or the other – of any topic; especially if we are but novice concerning its intellect – does not make that which we believe true, but bounds us to it as though we have become the final authority by rejecting all other knowledge without evenly considering it. Neither do harsh words, name calling, nor misrepresentation of the other make our case stronger and more profitable for those we deem without. We must maintain that truth is truth, without our vain presuppositions; for we do not establish nor define truth, as truth is whole by itself. Just as our assumptions may lead us to the truth, they may likewise disperse us from it.

So, for this study, I shall try to put away my argumentative mind, while attempting to give equal standing with each author and all books, as they present their case for what they believe to be truth. Using the Bible as the final authority, as did those in Thessalonica[4], I hope to take every point of doctrine and exert its truth in my own life daily.

I shall entitle this study Thou Shalt Come, based on John 6:37; whereby, scripture declares, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

So begins my study of Arminianism, Calvinism, and those who claim the truth – along with themselves – lies somewhere in between...

[1] James 2:20, 26 (It would do one well to read the chapter in its entirety.)

[2] I realize, possibly a mere presupposition itself.

[3] Proverbs 18:13

[4] Acts 17:11

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Resolutions for 2011

As we draw to the end of 2010, upon reflection, it appears I have been neglecting my blog writing, having only 25 posts in 2009 and 17 posts for 2010. So, for 2011, I would like to make myself a few resolutions.

First, I would like to complete my current work, entitled Kristietiba this coming year. It is my latest book writing project, following my trilogy In the Land of Erde. The storyline is mostly coming about, but just haven’t had the time to formal continue writing it to completion; approximately, halfway through at the present.

Second, I was graciously given a book entitled Unabridged Christianity (Biblical Answers to Common Questions About the Roman Catholic Faith) by Fr. Mario P. Romero. There was a time when I did a good bit of reading about Catholicism and even participated on a Catholic forum, but it has been some time since then. So, perhaps I will make time to read, examine, and respond accordingly. Readers may see some of my musing regarding this posted here.

Third, I was also given a book entitled The Muslim Calvinism Connection by Moody Adams. This perhaps had sparked the greatest endeavor for 2011 (well, in the scope of this blog). For 2011, readers may see a good many posts on the context of Armenian and Calvinist theology, in regards to depravity, free will, predestination, foreknowledge, and the like. I have a shelf of books, along with a CD of writings in PDF for my Nook, which will challenge my presupposition, thoughts, and beliefs.

Of course, last but not least, I hope to increase my prayer and scripture reading time, which the above should also encourage. This also does not include my family time and church responsibilities, so we shall see come December 2011 what has become of these few resolutions.

May you all have a Happy Christmas and Merry New Year…

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christ-Mass at 180 Degrees: A Sin to Celebrate, a Sin to Not

I realize this post may come across as anti-Christmas, as the Grinch, or just plain argumentative, but actually it is more of just a note of thoughts for the individual reader to consider this year.

It is interesting that each year we hear an uproar about people, businesses, or whatever “trying to take Christ out of Christmas”, but I wonder just how many of us know anything about the history of Christmas or actually worship Christ more during the season supposedly celebrating His birth.

First, the word Christmas originates from combining the words Christ (the son of God) and Mass (the Catholic Mass). [1] “The Mass is the complex of prayers and ceremonies that make up the service of the Eucharist in the Latin rites.” [2] Both Baptists (of which I am) and Catholics believe the Lord’s Supper began with Christ [3], but the literal or symbolic nature of the Lord’s Supper is quite different between the two. The Eucharist or ‘Sacrifice of the Mass’ [4] carries with it the idea of Transubstantiation [4]; whereby “Catholic Christian belief [is] in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist” (meaning the bread and wine actually become the literal body and blood of Christ) by their interpretation of such scripture as John 6:53-56 [5]. Whereas Baptist realize the words of Christ were spiritual and not fleshly, for Christ did say in verse 63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” One may notice all who are saved are also called “one bread, and one body” in 1 Corinthians 10:17. And if the ‘cup of the Lord’ is the literal blood of Christ, is the ‘cup of devils’ the literal blood of devils? [1 Corinthians 10:21]

Point 1: Baptists do not celebrate or believe in the teaching of the Catholic Mass, and the word Christmas appears to have originated with Catholic teachings.

Second, according to some “Christmas history of America” [6], in 1645 Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over England, and cancelled Christmas as part of their vow to ‘rid England of decadence’ [moral degeneration or decay]. “Puritans by definition felt that the English Reformation had not gone far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church. They formed into and identified with various religious groups advocating greater "purity" of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety.” [7] Oddly, during the 1600s, some pilgrims (English separatists, also Puritan in their beliefs) enjoyed Christmas in America, while for others it was outlawed. Even before the Civil War, the North “saw sin in the celebration of Christmas”, while the South celebrated it without guilty conscience. From there, it seems Christmas was promoted in books and Sunday school to the children, then with magazines and decorations to the women.

Point 2: Whereas the Puritans of England seemed to argue that Christmas was not for the Christian (or non Catholic), there were those in America who fought over the idea of whether Christmas was sin or worthy to be celebrated.

Thirdly, when I hear the yearly outcry from professing Christians that this place or that group is refusing the say or promote Christmas, I have to sit back and wonder what all the hoopla is about. Why? Because while we criticize those who do not display nativity scenes or say “Merry Christmas”, I do not see us as Christians doing any more for Christ during a season whereby we claim people are doing less or nothing at all for “Christ’s birthday”. I mean, really, if we would like to demand the lost world (or those “less” Christian) to say “Merry Christmas” to recognize our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (not to mention the Catholic Mass), then why do we as Christians not spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than sitting lazily inside our homes watching football, overeating, and often spending the day with family and friends we don’t always like, with gifts we usually can’t afford?

Point 3: Before we demand a change in other’s priorities, we need to ensure ours are in the right place.

Why does it seem that we - as Christians (or non Catholic) - have gone 180 degrees in stating that it was once a sin (or Catholic) to celebrate Christmas, but now it is apparently a sin (or non Christian) to not celebrate Christmas?

** note: this is not a post against Catholic's or Catholicism, but a post for my Baptists brothers and sisters...

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.