Good Music Nueve

It is the season, after all. What about good Christmas discs? Here are my favorite three:

1. Bruce Cockburn, Christmas. Unique, beautiful, and how can you not appreciate the voice and the guitar?

2. Over the Rhine, The Darkest Night of the Year. You simply have not heard a Christmas record like this. Dark, wintry, and right up my alley.

3. Various, The Gift (it’s out of stock here, so if you find it in a used music store, get it!). Hey, you can’t go wrong with Harrod and Funck and Vigilantes of Love, and that’s only three of the songs!

4. Most honorable mention: George Frideric Handel, The Messiah.


‘Tis the Season

It’s that time again: the busy season for the Anti-Christian Liberals’ Union (ACLU). I intend to track their frivolous actions throughout the next month, so watch this space for the ludicrous, the ridiculous, the silly, and the just plain downright stupid! By the way there’s something backwards about an organization that defends the rights of offensive street preachers, but says that kindergarteners can’t sing “Away in a Manger.” Or am I the only one who sees that?
Until the next post, read Glenn Beck from two years ago here and Mike Gallagher from last year here. That should start things off on the right foot (literally)!


Faith and Doubt

I’ve been thinking about this recently as I read some posts and comments at badchristian (for example, here). What I’m going to say may or may not have anything to do with Brandon; I don’t know him.
It seems to me that doubt has taken on a far different meaning than what it used to mean in the context of Christian belief. I agree with Brandon that faith is not confined to the cerebral. But the question, I think, is really about the nature of belief, not the nature of doubt. What is it to doubt while remaining a Christian? Clearly, no one has ever completed a Christian life free from doubt. If there was such a person (excepting Christ, of course), they didn’t boast about it.
Here’s the problem with the doubting faithful: it far too often degenerates into “I doubt that Paul wrote such-and-such a book,” with the subtext, “…because I don’t agree with what he says here.” The doubt usually relates to some issue of women or homosexuals, if not to the much more serious issues of Christology that are raised.
That brings me to another point: the levels and degrees of doubt. I see doubt about numbering in Chronicles or dating of books as on a different (lower) level than doubt about the resurrection of Christ, or the Virgin Birth. Of course, as Brandon notes, it really all goes to what one believes about the Bible. Now, I believe the Bible is true because it testifies to the living Christ. Some Christians believe in Christ because the Bible is true. This leads to research, debate, and apologetics about the nature and archaeology of the Bible. No, or very few, battles will be won in this area (witness the near-absolute intellectual flaying of “Creationism”).
But the matter of whether Paul, Peter, James or John wrote various things is not really a discussion that can bear much fruit. Those doubters who question the veracity of these authors or their letters or books many times receive their “evidence” from “scholars” who had already come to their conclusions long before they ever did any “research.” More importantly, even if said “scholars” thought Paul, for example, wrote the letters traditionally attributed to him, that wouldn’t stop them from questioning or discarding the content. The gulf between those who accept what can be proven and live with what cannot (“Let God be true and every man a liar”) and those who question what can be proven and deny what cannot could not be wider. Perhaps the question is really whether we are able to examine our own understanding of some teaching, rather than deny it because we can’t see a reason for it. Doubt can’t be doubted as a part of human existence, let alone Christian existence. The response to doubt is the telling thing.


Baptism and Original Sin

I’m interested in the topic here on the main blog page. (You may want to read the applicable comments, but it may take you a while!) The crux of the issue about whether infants should be baptized is simply this: does Original Sin exist? Before I make my comments, I would like to clarify what I mean by “Original Sin.” I mean the poisonous flaw that has been passed down in sinful humanity from the time of our first ancestors. In my understanding (and, I believe, in the understanding of most Lutherans), Original Sin is that which causes human beings to be unable to choose the good in the sight of God. In the absence of the saving grace of Jesus, we cannot choose in favor of God, nor are we inclined to do anything but evil. Even that which looks good to those around us cannot help but be tainted with sin. Enough definition.
“James” (not “James H”) conceded that if the doctrine of Original Sin is either denied or not true, the rationale for baptizing babies disappears. This is true. If there is no such thing as Original Sin (and there is certainly no limit to the doctrine’s detractors), there is no reason to baptize babies. Of course, if you accept Original Sin and deny infant baptism, the question is begged, “How can babies be saved?”
But if James or others deny Original Sin, they cannot escape the fact that the consequences go far beyond the question of baptizing babies. It goes to the heart of Christianity. (Incidentally, this discussion showcases how interrelated is catholic doctrine. You cannot take one part out and still retain the whole.) Without Original Sin (as Paul describes in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15), the death and resurrection of Christ as our salvation are made unnecessary. Hey, it might be beneficial to help us reach our inner potential or some other gnostic notion (cf. Mormonism), but Christ certainly isn’t necessary for us without our being “dead in our sins.”
But if Original Sin exists (and we could go through the passages), infant baptism is necessary unless someone can come up with another way that infants can be saved. The Bible knows of no such way. (I’m guessing the antipathy comes from how cute babies are and/or an invasion of Enlightenment thinking into Christianity about what “belief” is.) Otherwise, we have to invent things like ages of accountability or some other such nonsense.
By the way, baptizing in the name of anything/one other than the Name of God as He has revealed it, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is an invalid baptism, and that person would need to be rebaptized [see Mr. Piper’s comments here].


Today’s Exegesis

In my daily reading, I came across this passage in Matthew 26. The context is Jesus Christ’s institution of His meal.

“‘I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.'” (Matthew 26:29, ESV).

Without writing a commentary, tell me what this passage indicates. Also, why will Christ, the giver, drink his own meal in His Father’s kindgom?


Happy Thanksgiving. Give thanks for the things that matter in life: this country, your church, your family and friends. But more importantly, give thanks for the things that matter in death: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which are able to save you.


Church and Ministry

The late Dr. A.L. Barry, former president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, presented the keynote address at a conference in 1997 that focused on issues surrounding the priesthood of all believers and the office of the public ministry. In that address, Barry noted the following:
“…two trends of radical equality and individualism continue to present great challenges for us today when it comes to Church and Ministry. For instance, Christians who are unprepared, uncertified, and uncalled can all too easily begin to assume the public role and responsibilities of the pastor.”
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