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Showing posts from December, 2016

Putting Christ Back In Christmas?

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People who profess to be Christians have always been wary of apparent attempts to remove Christ in Christmas. 
For example, last December 2015, a controversy brewed over Starbucks’ red cups. “When the cup debuted last year, some consumers accused Starbucks of waging war on Christianity after Starbucks removed images of snowflakes, trees, and ornaments that covered the cups in years prior.” [1]

Then, of course, every year we debate whether it’s okay to write “Xmas” or “Christmas.” But either way we write it, I believe there was no conspiracy to remove Christ from Christmas. As Reformed theologian R.C. Sproul explained it, We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ. … There’s a long and sacred histo…

Celebrating Christmas Even When Life Does Not Make Sense

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On Christmas day, widower Henry was taking care of his mortally wounded son, Charlie. His son was a soldier. He was shot, the bullet missing his spine by an inch, and almost got paralyzed. The doctors were divided about whether he would recover from his almost fatal wound in at least six months or he would remain a paralytic. Two years ago, his wife died due to serious burns when her dress caught on fire. In trying to save her, Henry himself got burned on the face. He had to grow a beard to hide the facial scars. He deeply grieved her death that there were times he thought he would go crazy. 
And, now as he tried to nurse his son, he heard the bells from a church nearby. Overcome with grief, Henry thought of what the angels sang the night our Lord Jesus was born: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14, ESV)
Peace on earth. 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow saw the irony as he “observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to…

The Blessed Mary (Part 2)

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We have no issue with calling the mother of our Lord as the “Blessed Mary.” After all, she was called as such by Luke, the Gospel author. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:41b-45, ESV)But we should “learn… not to go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6b). We should not ascribe to her titles and functions beyond what the Bible tells us about her.
For example, indeed Mary was described as “Blessed are you among women”. But, in the Old Testament, a woman named Jael (or, Jahel), who killed an enemy of Israel (Judges 4:21–22), was described as such also: “Blessed among women be Jahel the…

The Blessed Mary (Part 1)

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In 1997, Newsweek Magazine featured a news article entitled “Hail, Mary.” It talked about a signature campaign “asking [Pope John Paul II] to exercise the power of papal infallibility to proclaim a new dogma of the Roman Catholic faith: that the Virgin Mary is ‘Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate for the People of God.’” [1] At that time, “the pope has received 4,340,429 signatures from 157 countries—an average of 100,000 a month—supporting the proposed dogma.” [2] Among the signatories were Mother Teresa of Calcutta who was recently canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and many influential cardinals. Newsweek noted that, “Nothing like this organized petition drive has ever been seen in Rome.” [3] 
If the pope exercised his supposed “power of papal infallibility,” that is, to declare a doctrine “in an absolutely final and irrevocable way,” [4] then he would have gone beyond what the Bible says about the blessed Mary. Such a move would elevate Mary’s status d…

Immaculate Conception?

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“Don’t greet Mama Mary ‘Happy birthday!’”
That’s a Facebook post by a friend who is also a Roman Catholic apologist (defender). He posted it before “The Feast of the Immaculate Conception,” a Catholic feast celebrated every December 8. He was concerned that it actually shows the ignorance of some Catholics as far as their beliefs are concerned. 
It was not without basis. 
The feast was not about the birth of the Blessed Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was about her miraculous conception in the womb of her mother. Unlike the Lord, she was not virgin-born. But even if she was conceived by a human father and a human mother, the supposed miracle as far as the blessed Mary was concerned is that she was conceived (and born) without sin. In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ,…

Faith Ingredients (Part 3)

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Knowledge (“notitia”) and agreement (“assensus”) are still not enough to form faith. We need a third ingredient. This third and final ingredient leads a person to move from “believe that” to “believe in.” Reformed theologians called it “fiducia” or “trust and reliance”. [1] According to “Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs,” Without fiducia there is no faith, but without notitia and assensus there can be no fiducia… [It is] personal dependence on the grace of Father, Son, and Spirit for salvation, with thankful cessation of all attempts to save oneself by establishing one’s own righteousness… [2]When we try to work for our salvation, when we try to establish our own righteousness, we are not trusting in God but trusting in ourselves.

According to the apostle Paul, that’s why the Jews did not receive salvation from the Lord. Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not a…