Saturday, April 28, 2007

Should I give money to people on the street who ask for it?

Michael Spencer, The Internet Monk, writes lots of worthwhile posts. I don't know how he manages to keep it up, day after day. Especially as he has a demanding school chaplain's job to do.

I thought this particular post was the best thing I have read on the subject. He has given some good practical advice, which has been supported by Scripture.

We are in your debt, Michael.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Origins of 5 solas

Terry Gallagher, a fellow contributor to the always interesting Sydney Anglicans community forums has translated the 5 solas and also tracked down their Reformation origins.
(Neither Terry nor I are Anglicans, by the way.)
Sola Scriptura => Scripture Alone OR By Scripture Alone

Solo Christo => By Christ Alone
Solus Christus => Christ Alone

Sola Gratia => By Grace Alone OR Grace Alone

Sola Fide => By Faith Alone

Soli Deo Gloria => Glory to God Alone
He points out that Soli Deo Gloria is an abbreviated form of soli Deo honor et gloria from 1 Timothy 1:17 in the Vulgate.

The Formula of Concord, from 1576 in German and 1584 in Latin, is a highly respected confessional document in the Lutheran Churches. The Epitome (short version) of the Formula of Concord contains four of the five phrases or a grammatical variation of them:

sola gratia : 3 times

sola fide : 3 times

soli Christo : once (a different grammatical case)
Christus solus: once

sola Sacra Scriptura : once (= by Holy Scripture alone)

Plus, as I said before, soli deo gloria is based on 1 Timothy 1:17

I should also add that sola fide was supposedly in the writings of Luther himself around 1520, but I havent found the direct reference.

All five of the solas are certainly there as specific written phrases in the Reformation period.....just waiting for someone to turn them into slogans later. Terry Gallagher

Terry later posted more information about sola fide
sola fide is used in Luther's 1520 work in Latin
De captivitate babylonica ecclesiae ;
the title in English is "On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church"

sola fide is also used in Luther's 1520 work, published in both Latin and German,
De libertate Christiana ;
the title in English is "Concerning Christian Liberty"

An English translation of this one can be found here.

The following is a relevant extract from Luther's "Concerning Christian Liberty":

Martin Luther wrote:
But you will ask:—“What is this word, and by what means is it to be used, since there are so many words of God?” I answer, the Apostle Paul (Rom. i.) explains what it is, namely, the Gospel of God, concerning His Son, incarnate, suffering, risen, and glorified through the Spirit, the sanctifier. To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify it, to set it free, and to save it, if it believes the preaching. For faith alone, and the efficacious use of the word of God, bring salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. x. 9.) And again: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. x. 4); and “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. i. 17.) For the word of God cannot be received and honoured by any works, but by faith alone. Hence it is clear that, as the soul needs the word alone for life and justification, so it is justified by faith alone and not by any works. For if it could be justified by any other means, it would have no need of the word, nor consequently of faith.

I'm putting this here, in the hope that I will be able to find it again one day.

Monday, April 23, 2007

5 solas

Where did the 5 solas originate?

Yes, I know it comes from the Reformation, but where does this particular way of articulating Reformation principles come from?

I've read quite a bit about the 5 solas, even a whole book. There's stacks of stuff on the internet, though some sites are a bit dodgy, especially the Hypercalvinist ones that think missionary activity is highly overrated.

The solas are

Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone

Solo Christo
[sometimes Solus Christus] - Christ Alone
[sounds like a good title for a song!]

Sola Gratia - Grace Alone

Sola Fide - By Faith Alone

Soli Deo Gloria - The Glory of God Alone

I think this set of slogans is terrific, and, properly explained, is also biblical.

But, in all of the stuff I've read, you get told these are Reformation principles, but never who put them together. I'm wondering how old this systematization is, because it seems to be later than Luther and Calvin, and I've never read it put this way in the few things I've read from the Reformation writers.

Does anyone know who put it together, or is like TULIP [not the 5 points, which came from the Synod of Dordt] but the actual organising of it in that flowery way, which would appear to be a 20th century thing, and may have been invented by Loraine Boettner, or others of his era.

Also, it seems clear that Luther's version of Sola Scriptura is different from the way it is taught today, because he made rude comments about Esther and Ecclesiastes in the OT, and James, Jude, Revelation and Hebrews in the NT and clearly had a little canon within a canon.

I'm not saying I agree with Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong's take on Protestantism, but I am guessing that his references to Luther's comments about Scripture are accurate.

Any takers?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The water of life?

I enjoyed reading this quote from Luther today:
'The Jews drink out of the original spring,
The Greeks drink out of the stream flowing out of the stream,
The Latins, however, out of the puddle
So what are we English speakers and readers drinking from? I shudder to think!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Perseverance: essential for salvation

How might we speak about the perseverance of the saints in a way which neither compromises God's sovereignty in salvation or human accountability?
Now, how is that for a fantastic essay question? Just saw it here.

In a lot of churches, perseverance is an embarrassment, because it sounds like earning your salvation. How different is our little theology from the big, big theology of the bible!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Encouraging One Another

Do you know how hugely encouraging your enthusiastic participation at church is? Do you know how terrific it is when you bring your visitors to church with you?

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, several families from our small congregation were going to be away, and I was expecting we would only have a few people sharing in our worship service.

The geezer who puts together the service sheet [me] decided to make less copies because so many people were going to be away.

Silly me.

We had former congregation members visiting, people visiting because of the baptisms at the murky Macquarie River after the service, congregation members who didn't end up going away, family members visiting because it was someone's birthday, etc, etc.

And fifty people down by the river. [That's a lot for us!]

And, our ever reliable minister, preached a terrific resurrection sermon, which our Christian and non-Christian visitors got to hear and be encouraged and challenged by.

And, forgive me if I make a request: if you are able to organise your travelling so that you are at church on Sunday [and I include Christmas and Easter in this], it is wonderful for those who are there at church.

[Disclaimer: We are usually at church on Sundays, but owing to work commitments, and needing to visit our Mums during the school holidays, which is usually the only time we see them, next Sunday we will be travelling and visiting. Must be honest.]