Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Historically Critical

The historical critical method is one way that literary critics use to examine origins of ancient manuscripts in an attempt to interpret the historical and experiential prisms used by the author. This method of ascertaining intent attempts to identify the historical context in which it was written. Historical critics seek to reconstruct ancient texts by delving into the historical records of the time when it was composed. These critics attempt to recreate the historical facts known from that time and piece them together with the data compiled by the author. This method of research, when done appropriately, should allow the critic to properly interpret the historical significance of those documents. Most importantly, the researcher should have no preconceived notions regarding the specific text that is examined, using whatever facts that are available to uncover the truth.

Many of the historical critics of today tend to minimize the historicity of the Bible, maintaining that most of the information contained within is either fictional or are simply exaggerations by the authors. Further, many maintain that the original documents were altered by the scribes that translated the Bible into different languages in an effort to bolster claims made by the authors of Scripture. Many historical critics tend to lean on the notion that the Bible is primarily a literary collection from the early history of Israel. Many of these critics state that although it is a historical fact that Jesus Christ did exist at the time described in the Bible and it can be proven that He was a valid figure in the history of Israel, they remain skeptical of the miracles attributed to Him and His status as the Son of God. Some of the most prominent ELCA theologians have made it clear that they have made up their minds regarding the authority of Scripture.

Contrived doctrines, such as bound conscience, are evidence that ELCA theologians regard their opinions over the word of God. They pick and choose which verses of Scripture tend to advance their preconceived notions and desired conclusions. Abandoning the tenets of Lutheranism and replacing sound doctrine with human reasoning and opinion only prove that Biblical scholars in the ELCA truly do not believe in Scriptural authority and more often, fall in line with many of the secular critics. And those that hold fast to Biblical authority continue to be called out by ELCA pastors. In an April 5th edition of Salina.com, an on-line feature of the Salina Journal, ELCA pastor Lorna Paulus, in an article entitled, Ultimate Truth of Message , denounces those Christians that adhere to the authority of Scripture and believe God’s word to be without error. In a stunningly dishonest comment she states, “However, the ELCA does read Scripture differently than many of the groups who like to talk about "inerrancy." We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God. It is the norm for our Christian life. It is not, for us, as Beckmann quoted Borg, just a "human cultural product." But we refuse to take isolated verses of Scripture out of context and treat them as if they were the whole message as many of the "inerrancy" folk tend to do. We believe that taking Scripture out of context distorts the message of Scripture and can be used to twist Scripture to say things God never intended.” I could hardly believe this when I read it. Talk about having a plank in one’s eye!

Perhaps, Paulus should take the time to read the ELCA statement, Human Sexuality-Gift and Trust, and determine if, in fact, the ELCA Biblical scholars cherry pick Scriptural verses when attempting to justify behavior that God prohibits. Perhaps, she should educate herself as to how ELCA theologian, Tim Wengert disregards Scripture while he misinterprets and/or outright contrives illogical arguments to bolster the false doctrine of bound conscience. Obviously not all ELCA pastors are this misguided in their interpretation of the “new things” that are affecting the doctrine of the largest Lutheran Church body in the United States. But, pastors like this do lead their respective flocks and those in the pews listen to what these persons, ordained to preach the Gospel proclaim when they are in the pulpit. When our brothers and sisters in Christ have this type of preaching imposed upon them when they attend worship, some will come to believe and accept this as God’s will. We need to continue to proclaim the Gospel, loud and proud, so that all will come to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and make certain that those who have come to believe, do not fall away.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lowest Common Denominator

In mathematics the lowest common denominator is the least common multiple of the denominators of a set of vulgar fractions. Ie; 4/16 divide each number by the lowest common denominator, 4 and you come up with 1/4. Use the smallest positive integer that is a multiple of each denominator in the set. This term has entered popular culture and now denotes the least sophisticated person(s) in a particular situation. The term is often used as a figure of speech indicating the most basic, least sophisticated level of taste, sensibility, or opinion among a group of people. Most reality TV shows tend to appeal to the lowest common denominators among us. If you tend to gravitate to “Honey Boo”, “Jersey Shore” or the “Kardashians”, you just may fit into the category of lowbrow, uncultured, or low information individuals looked down upon and considered to be on the fringe of society.

Of our own accord, many of us would stoop to our lowest common denominator and sit for hours and watch “Dancing with the Stars” instead of taking time with our God in prayer or meditation on His word. ELCA teachings step away from the words of our God and decide that, “the times, they are a’ changin’” and tweak the words our God decided were the best path for His children to take. Our more enlightened friends that lead the apostate ELCA decide to modernize God’s word and contrive all sorts of “new things” that they believe that God must have really meant in that “book of faith stories”. Take Christ out of Christianity and we engage in doctrine that lifts up the true selfish nature of humanity. Christ died for all humanity, so why not neglect to emphasize that faith in the Risen Christ is necessary to gain salvation. It’s hard to deny oneself and so demeaning to admit to our selfish and sinful nature. Think that the producer of “Noah” took creative license with the story of the flood, think again. These supposed men and women of God have, with the stroke of a pen and the vote of a fallen humanity, attempted to change God’s will forever. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Disobedience is so easy. We are all rule breakers at heart. We expect the leaders of God’s church to preach the pure Gospel, as it is stated in God’s word, the Bible. Having the very persons charged to uphold sound doctrine, contrive ways around our Lord and Savior’s teaching is beyond the pale. We do quite a fine job of finding ways to displease our God all by ourselves, we don’t need the church affirming us within our sin. But, Luther himself said to sin boldly, so what is the problem? He also said that we are at once, both saint and sinner. In other words, we remain a sinful humanity that continually falls short of the glory of God. We need to recognize our sinful nature and how easily we fall into disobedience. We need to recognize that we need a Savior, because we can never earn the grace that is so freely bestowed upon us. We need to recognize that, because of our faith in the Risen Christ, we are forgiven. What the leaders of the ELCA fail to understand is that, if there is no sin, there is no need for forgiveness. If there is no need for forgiveness there is no need for a Savior. If there is no need for a Savior, there is no need to attend a church that is welcoming, tolerant and affirming of sinful behavior.

More of Luther’s letter to Melanchthon. “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.” The false gospel of tolerance and affirmation trivializes Christ sacrifice upon the cross. Essays published in the “Lutheran” magazine and what is being taught in ELCA seminaries attest to the fact that the leaders of the ELCA are deliberately fomenting a revolution against sound Lutheran doctrine and the authority of Scripture. This battle against God is extraordinarily insidious as the ELCA promotes all sorts of unsound theology at its’ seminaries and then persecutes and silences any and all seminarians that resist its’ false teachings. Bound conscience is truly a one way street, contrived to silence any opposing, traditional voices.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ adrift in ELCA churches need to wake up and smell the roses. They are being led onto a path towards destruction. Accepting the false doctrine of bound conscience is tantamount to worshiping themselves. Believe what the snake oil peddler is selling and you will fall to your lowest common denominator, the sinful human being lavishing even more sinful behavior upon yourself, secure in the fact that your church says that it is okay. Pray long and hard for our brothers and sisters to realize that fact before it is too late.