Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Thought I wrote on my hand Last Night while my Father was speaking

You may have gathered that I am not a huge fan of worldly religion. Here is another shot across its bow. Have you noticed how their standards for personal morality are relative and function along a gradient compared to both the standards and to others attempting the same moral construct? There is lots of room in worldly religion for folks to be considered devout without moral precision. Oddly, you might also noticed, these same sloppy moralists are complete autocrats about religious merits. These, O faithful one, are absolute! Pilgrimage to Mecca. Bathe in the dang Ganges. Fulfill the sacraments. You can be grading on a curve that would embarrass a state university in your morals but not be able to budge on your absolute necessities in religious function.
"God can't expect that I would rejoice all the time!"
"Nobody's perfect"
"Everyone fights with their husbands."
Such will come out of the devout mouths clogging the pews of the nation.
Now try to change the wine of the Eucharist for orange juice.
Or suggest that it need not be taken for some or any reason.
Why are relative moralities and absolute religion the combination?
Because the world's religion can't fix the soul and the heart. It can get obedience on ritual.
Matthew 15 "And he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."

It is easier to involve the broken world in attempts to fix itself with mere moral posturing and wishful thinking while giving the followers duties to accomplish which make them feel like they are successfully religious. And they wonder why, as they look around their lives, wives,and children at the end of a few decades and find it has the surprising likeness to the bottom of a ditch.

Earlier an Matthew 15 "And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" He answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

The Christian version of worldly religion makes what goes into your mouth a necessary (for salvation and orthodoxy) while what comes out is measured without any necessity and much mercy without repentance and relative allowance. If that is Christianity, I'm a Hottentot.

"Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"


Matthew N. Petersen said...

Evan, knock it off. You're really getting obnoxious. You don't understand your opponents position, and are essentially slandering us.

And this post is a denial of the Gospel through its preaching works righteousness. Ask the lepers who came to Jesus if they were cleansed by something external to themselves. "These people are content with all sorts of diseases, provided they keep seking Christ. But don't they know its not Christ that saves you, but lacking disease! Its easy to teach lepers to save themselves by going through the moral posturing of going to Christ, they should be reminded that they merely must not be lepers. It's not who you talk to that makes you clean, but the lack of diseases on the skin."

Now try to substitute King Herod for Christ, or the waters of Damascus for the Jordan. What these people care about isn't actually being clean from leprosy, but posturing to be near some silly man.

Trust Christ who acts on us through his body! So we are not fully cleansed? Christ my Lord shall take care of that. Replace the wine with orange juice? But then Christ isn't there cleansing me.

Again, knock it off. You are slandering your opponents. And in this post, denying justification by grace.

The Oracle said...

My obnoxity (have I coined a word?) has not descended to the point of suggesting that the worldly religionists "believe" or "teach" what I said, only that they are doing what I said.
"Blind", as the Lord said, and ditchward bound.

Matthew N. Petersen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew N. Petersen said...

Very well, but what you said we are doing is looking to Christ. So it is worldly to look to Christ? Should we look to some secret knowledge divorced from this material plane? I for one chose the physical Christ--all the fullness of Godhead dwells in Him--over any principle of this world, even an immaterial one.

Or are you saying: "But through your willful(?) misunderstanding of Christ's gospel, that is, through believing God is physically present in certain things and thus Christ uses these things to cleanse you as he used his robe to cleanse the lady with the flow of blood, you are denying Christ." Is Christ really such a jerk that he won't save us anyway? "No! You misunderstood me. When I said 'this is my body' I didn't really mean it was my body. You trusted this thing not me." "But Christ, I did trust you! I trusted your words! And then I trusted you who were physically present! And if this isn't good enough, I claim your blood--it has been my plee all along!" "No, that doesn't cut it. Sorry! You go to HELL!!"

Perhaps you are claiming Christ is that jerk. If so, there is no point debating. Repent for your blasphemy. And if you are not claiming Christ is that jerk, there is still no point debating. Three of your last five posts have been attacking peaple who trust Christ and look to Him for their salvation, as if we did not. I don't find your "I'm not claiming you believe this, only that you do this" argument persuasive. This is a ninth commandment issue. Stop bearing false testimony.

Lincoln Davis said...


Pardon me while I nitpick a bit, but it's important that, if we're going to make such bold assertions here, that we be logical and civilized.

The category of persons criticized (those who practice worldly religion) is too broad to be considered slander. Moreover, to negatively characterize the position of an opponent, whether correctly or incorrectly, is not to slander one's opponent. This post did not report any facts, it only interpreted them, and vaguely at that.

Similarly, this is not an issue of false testimony, because there has been no event to which anyone has testified. It is a matter of opinion testimony, about how the facts should be interpreted, which may be incorrect, but can hardly be considered false testimony in the Ninth Commandment sense. To view it so would make the statement of any incorrect position false testimony.

Finally, on a more substantive note, this post does not preach works righteousness; in fact, it preaches the opposite. It is stating that the ritual observance does not produce holiness, but rather the grace of Christ empowers an otherwise helpless person to observe the law of liberty and love, which does not wrong its neighbor. The post was asserting that people turn to ritual observance when they don't have confidence in the sufficiency of the grace of Christ to produce holiness.

Lincoln Davis said...

To clarify a bit:

That a statement is false does not mean it is a lie - it may have been unknowing, or only technically incorrect, or susceptible of multiple interpretations. Secondly, even that a statement is a lie does not mean it is false testimony - testimony is something that happens in adjudicative proceedings, not on blogs. Of course, there are other Scriptural prohibitions of lying, but I don't think we have a lie on our hands here.

Jessica said...


Thank you.

I have read this blog for much time now. It is disturbing. Thank you for injecting truth into this account of religion.

The Oracle said...

My apologies, Jessica. You should have said something earlier. Is your disturbance due to the opposition I place between heart and ritual? Let me clarify. A ritual either represents a metaphysical reality or it participates in a metaphysical reality. It is either grace by faith without works OR grace by faithful observance of works both moral and liturgical. The second camp steps as far away from faith as to eliminate it from the person so graced. The give away (which I put before Matt privately and it remains without answer)is when a set of churchgoers starts doing such rites to the unwilling and unresponding. This is a statement of their belief that the magic is in the rite not in the faith.

But perhaps you should say what is your arena of concern.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Evan, I suppose faith affects the infant kinda like it affected Jarius’ daughter. But like I said earlier that attack doesn’t claim that it is a denial of the gospel to claim “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ Jesus” but it is a denial of the gospel to believe original sin (or at least to believe Christ can remedy original sin).

Lincoln Davis,

If a Lutheran pastor said “make sure that you are not receiving the Sacrament this way, rather do it this way” he would be exhorting certain individuals. But Evan is not doing this, and the first few paragraphs are clearly an attack on the class of people who trust the Sacraments. He starts out by attacking Hindu spirituality. No Christian can protest. But he then immediately and without argument and without understanding his opponents position lumps the Sacraments in with Hindu practices. He then switches and talks exclusively about Christians he dislikes “Such will come out of the devout mouths clogging the pews of the nation. Now try to change the wine of the Eucharist for orange juice. Or suggest that it need not be taken for some or any reason.” Then having without understanding lumped most Christians in with the Hindus, he proceeds to explain why we are so impious. Then he offers a brief argument, that grossly misunderstands his opponents position. I don’t se any need to answer it. He could spend fifteen minutes reading Luther and get straightened out. His reply to Jessica bears this out.

Second, in your defense against slander and bearing false testimony, you make a couple of mistakes. I’m a little confused how “people who believe in the Sacraments are not trying to be healthy, but looking to the law” cannot by the very nature of the statement be slander. Perhaps you are working on a technical understanding of slander, but this is to very strongly attack those who look to the Sacraments. Of course this does not prove it is slander. It must be false, and willful. But a five minute skim of the literature proves the fact ridiculous. And I have pointed out to Evan several times that he is talking rot and does not understand his opponents position. Thus it is slander.

Is it bearing false testimony? Evan is not just a blogger, but a pastor, and is preaching “these people aren’t Christians.” This is to bear false testimony. Yes it isn’t in a court of law. It’s from the pulpit.

And like I said in my first post, it is legalism because it denies justification by Christ. Were the lepers who came to Christ cleansed by something that came into them? Yes of course! They saw Christ, and He touched them. They weren’t concerned with making themselves whole, but seeking out and touching the physical Christ.

And Evan’s posturing against physical religion again shows the confusion about legalism. The problem with the law isn’t physicality per se, but absence from Christ. But if I look to the man Jesus Christ, Evan rebukes me “don’t look to the physical.” Is his faith in Christ or in the non-physical?

The Oracle said...

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Again Evan, the fact that you quote that without argument proves you don't understand your opponent's position, nor their actions. Yet you persist in attacking us, falsely. I have several times pointed this out to you. A cursory inspection of the literature would prove it. You cannot plead ignorance. And as a pastor you have an obligation to not be ignorant. You are slandering your opponents and bearing false witness.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

And jessica, thanks

Matthew N. Petersen said...

oh, and btw, I have now twice answered your objection about a child's faith first here and now here.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Let me clarrify. The reason I find this post is legalistic is as follows:

Anabaptists and Lutherans both agree that we are saved by looking exclusively to Christ. Stop looking at your filth and trying to change it, look to Christ. The difference is that Luthernas believe Christ is physically present in some objects, anabaptists believe he is not found in anything physical. Both positions say "Stop looking to the sin. It doesn't matter how bad it is. It doesn't matter how bad it seems. So you are uppity and see your neighbor sinning--he must be damned. Many people commit the same sin they do. Christ saves them. Consider the log in your own eye. But don't be indignant with yourself. It's not you who sanctifies, but Christ. He will resolve the problem. Stop looking to anything but Christ."

Both Lutherans and anabaptists are very hard on seeking out Christ, and relatively soft on sinners. Christ will handle it. (And in another way, both are hard on sin.)

When a Lutheran is soft on sinners like this, and hard on looking to Christ, it means Sacrament. But Evan did not object that Christ is not present in the Sacrament, he assumed it, based on the evidence that Lutherans are hard on going to Christ, and soft on sinners. But this attack would apply equally well to an anabaptist. The conclusion of the attack is not "look to the gracious Christ who saves you apart from your sins, don't worry about your sins, Christ will handle it" but "be hard on sins and sinners, and soft on looking to Christ."

arosebyname said...

Those who do not agree with Evan's positions should discontinue reading his posts.

Evan, keep posting.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

That said, I should probably have not pointed out that Lutherans do not believe what he said (namely that salvation is found in religous observance) but rather I should have pointed out that innumerable Lutherans and Catholics and Orthodox and Anglicans and Calvinists etc. are hard on sin, so his attack on the Sacraments is slanerous.

The Oracle said...

You, whoever you be, are sweet.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

I just wanted it to be clear that I DO NOT think you personally deny justification by grace, I just think this post is confused. And though I dislike your attacks on Sacraments, it really isn't different from what we would see in Evangellicals everywhere, and is from confusion not maliciousness.

Also, how do you fit so much on a hand? You must have huge hands. :)

halfgut said...

Lincoln Davis -

Well said! I'm glad to see that you are finally putting your law degree to work.

Matt - Lighten up Francis!