"Over against all that reason suggests or would measure and fathom, yes, all that our senses feel and perceive, we must learn to cling to the Word and simply judge according to it."


- Martin Luther




Luther's Rose


I wish most importantly to state a case for Christ and His Cross for the unbeliever, but I also wish to make the case for both the unbeliever and the "blessedly inconsistent" towards the true apostolic and catholic teachings of the blessed and orthodox Lutheran Church.



SOLI DEO GLORIA



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This Is Sad

(**Update**It seems I have created a little bit of controversy in this post, and I do want to make one thing abundantly clear:)

I just want to repeat, once again, that I have no authority to excommunicate or anything of the sort, nor have I once said that Sen. Kennedy is eternally lost by the powers invested in me, etc., (I am but a beggar in need of Christ's righteousness as well). But in Sen. Kennedy's letter, it would seem that there may have been a weakness in the life of a believer, something of which we all face, namely to depend on our own good works. Maybe it was too personal to use a real-life example. And for that I am sorry. Nevertheless, my intention in this article was not to condemn Sen. Kennedy, but to use this example for all of us to test whether we are in the faith or not....I do not lay claim to know where the soul of Ted Kennedy eternally rests, I hope he rests with Christ. My post as written, may have erred in to strong a direction implying that I know of Sen. Kennedy's fate....I do not. Please forgive me if this post comes close to suggesting as much, because the Lord knows I ask for forgiveness in all things I do: good, bad, or indifferent.
God's blessings,
Drew
Senator Ted Kennedy is known both famously and infamously.

In the famously realm he is know for being a long-time Senator, a brother of two assassinated American icons, and a part of the Kennedy political dynasty.

He is infamously known for his sordid past. Everything from the Chappaquiddick incident, to the Bork nomination, to the Kennedy compound incident; I hope I'm sure (for Ted's sake) he would be the first to admit he was a flawed man just like everybody else. However, deep down I believe there was a devoted Roman Catholic who knew that the eye of God was upon him at all times. Sometimes that realization becomes brilliantly clear in times of extreme crisis.

It seems there may have been some unease in his soul when facing the grim news regarding his recent diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. When President Obama visited the Pope earlier this year, Ted asked the President to hand deliver a special letter to his "Holiness". Here are the contents of that letter as reported by the Associated Press and the response from the Pope:


Excerpts of the letter from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy that President Barack Obama delivered to Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year and an account of the pope's response, as read by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington:

"Most Holy Father I asked President Obama to personally hand deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God's blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines.

"I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life. I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war.

"Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States senator. I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone. I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."

___

An account from the Vatican of the pope's response, according to McCarrick:

"The Holy Father has the letter which you entrusted to President Barack Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of our universal church.

"His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the Risen Savior to all who share in His sufferings and trust in His promise of eternal life.

"Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord."

"I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."
Folks, this is what he is hanging his hat on for salvation; an intercessory prayer from the Pope. This isn't something to be mocked like the people from this blog seem to think is appropriate, this faith of Senator Kennedy is to be pitied.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

"Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Let us hope that between the time this letter to the Pope was written and the time of Senator Kennedy's death he confessed Christs righteousness as his own, and in faith, trusted solely in Christ's righteousness alone.

As it is written in Ezekiel 18:23 God is extremely gracious and loving in these words;

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
Let us all take the opportunity to contemplate whether we are in the "life", that is, eternal life found in Christ alone or not!
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17 comments:

All of Sen. Kennedy's sins were washed away in Holy Baptism and he was never excommunicated by his church. Even a weak faith lays hold of Christ and justifies.

Why then did you imply that Sen. Kennedy had fallen from his baptism and did not trust in Christ alone at the time of his letter to the Pope? Did you admonish him concerning the content of his letter? Did he refuse every call to repentance?

September 5, 2009 at 12:40 AM  

Daniel,

You make very valid points, and I don't lay claim in knowing what only God can possibly know.

You are right, we must rest our faith at those things which are outside us, that is, God's means of Grace. None is better than baptism. Nothing can take that away, except our willful blaspheming of the Holy Ghost.

However, given the fact that he was a faithful Catholic and likely catechized in the Catholic faith, leads me to believe that when he was laying out his deeds along with the fundamentals of his faith, that it all just smacks of synergism. And he being a Roman Catholic would definitely means that that was something he was taught. After all what is the blaspheming of the Holy Ghost other than to deny the works of Christ the only sufficient righteousness to get us to heaven.

Now, that is not say that adherence to perfect doctrine will send you to heaven. No one believes perfectly all of the time, if ever. That is why we lay hold of those means of grace outside us, trusting in the work of God in us.

I guess I may not have been clear enough in what I wrote, but I will say it now, I hope Sen. Kennedy rests eternally in the peace of Christ. Once again, I don't lay claim to any knowledge of the whereabouts of his soul now, nor can I ever do that, but I can use this example of pointing out the false Catholic doctrine of works infused with grace.

Plus, if you check out the link to the blog in the article, the people there were almost gleaful of the thought of God judging him all for the fact that they didn't like him. I also happen to know the writer of that blog is a self avowed Roman Catholic. Not to say that all Roman Catholics feel that way, but that these people don't equally seem to be afraid of God's judgment of them. But that is neither here nor there in reference to your comment.

Anyway, you make a good point, and let me once again be clear, my hope is that Sen. Kennedy is with Christ in heaven.

God's peace,

Drew

September 5, 2009 at 2:59 PM  

You seem to reading a lot into the Senator's letter that really isn't there. In his letter, Sen. Kennedy lists what he believes are his good works. St. Paul also lists his good works in a letter. In his letter, Sen. Kennedy asks the Pope to pray for him. St. Paul asks Christians to pray for all men. I don't see anything in the Senator's letter that says that the good works of believers or the prayers of the Pope are meritorious.

Yes, the Roman church teaches synergism and the false doctrine of works infused with grace. However, without examining Sen. Kennedy, how do know that the "Roman Catholic faith" in his letter was code for synergism and works righteousness? Is it impossible for a professing Roman Catholic to trust in Christ alone? Shouldn't we put the best construction on the Senator's words rather than the worse?

September 5, 2009 at 11:53 PM  

"Sen. Kennedy lists what he believes are his good works. St. Paul also lists his good works in a letter."

Here is what Paul lists in Phil. 3:3-11, and it what he says is very important:

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but DUNG, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. [emphasis added]

Also you say:

Sen. Kennedy asks the Pope to pray for him. St. Paul asks Christians to pray for all men.

Yes Paul does, but that is inconsequential to this. Are you asking me to believe that a Roman Catholic would send a letter to the Pope and believe that the Popes prayer to be equivalent to say, a Catholic laymen? Come on, Roman Catholics believe that when the Pope speaks from the throne of Peter, that it is practically equivalent to God speaking to them, the Pope practically is God to an RC. I'm sorry that is what they teach.

Furthermore you say:

"...without examining Sen. Kennedy, how do know that the "Roman Catholic faith" in his letter was code for synergism and works righteousness?"

No code needed, you yourself said as much in the sentence before this one. The Roman Catholic faith as regards justification is synergism.

Then you say:

"Is it impossible for a professing Roman Catholic to trust in Christ alone?"

Of course they can believe in Christ alone, however, given the false doctrine of synergism, it is highly unlikely.

And finally you say:

"Shouldn't we put the best construction on the Senator's words rather than the worse?"

Yes, the best construction on his words would be to tell the truth, and the truth is, if he was a devote Roman Catholic, then most likely he was a synergist, if he sites his works along with his faith, then it is equally likely that he's seeking special help from the Pope regarding his salvation. What I've done is not a violation of the 8th commandment, I am telling the truth about RC's and what Sen. Kennedy said in his letter. Now, that is not say he is not in heaven, I hope he is, for I know God does not delight in condemning the wicked.

But, what else I can I say here, if it walks like a papist, and it talks like a papist, then most likely it's a papist.

God's blessings,

Drew

September 6, 2009 at 2:12 AM  

Regarding professing Roman Catholics, you state "Of course they can believe in Christ alone, however, given the false doctrine of synergism, it is highly unlikely."

God does not play dice with salvation! Whom God has eternally predestined, the Holy Spirit calls through word and sacrament. Sen. Kennedy was baptized. During Mass, he frequently heard the preached word of the scripture lessons and the precious gospel contained in the ancient creeds.

"We teach that this Church, which is the invisible communion of all believers, is to be found not only in those external church communions which teach the Word of God purely in every part, but also where, along with error, so much of the Word of God still remains that men may be brought to the knowledge of their sins and to faith in the forgiveness of sins, which Christ has gained for all men, Mark 16:16; Samaritans: Luke 17:16; John 4:25." LCMS Brief Statement, Of the Church

You further opine, "Yes, the best construction on his words would be to tell the truth, and the truth is, if he was a devote Roman Catholic, then most likely he was a synergist, if he sites his works along with his faith, then it is equally likely that he's seeking special help from the Pope regarding his salvation. What I've done is not a violation of the 8th commandment, I am telling the truth about RC's and what Sen. Kennedy said in his letter."

"Most likely" is inconsistent with "best construction." You have made some unfortunate assumptions regarding the meaning of Sen. Kennedy's letter that were not supported by the actual content of the letter. You should stick to doctrine and avoid judging the baptized absent a valid and public excommunication.

I enjoy reading your blog and I hope you will continue it. Most of your blogs are doctrinally correct. However, in this instance, you have made a serious error.

September 6, 2009 at 1:09 PM  

Dan,

I don't know who you are or where you are coming from, but I personally think that you are the one making a "serious error" in charging Drew with a "serious error" here. Having read his post myself (and his gracious responses to you for clarification), I don't see a thing wrong with what Drew wrote (content-wise or tone-wise) concerning the death of Sen. Kennedy. He has not made any final judgment as to Kennedy's eternal state, but has rightly pointed to the dangers evident in the contents of Sen. Kennedy's own letter to the Pope. Drew is using this as a sad warning to all of us of what commonly happens to those who are bound to the false church of antichrist. In Kennedy's letter we clearly see a false dependence upon and appeal to one's own works and righteousness. We also see a totally misguided appeal and dependence upon the prayers of a deadly usurper of Christ who has been the chief enemy of the true Christian church for many centuries. Let us not forget that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church has officially pronounced anathema upon the doctrine of justification by faith alone at the Council of Trent.

I, too, feel sorry for Sen. Kennedy and sincerely hope that he repented of his sins and trusted in the atoning work of Christ before his death. I also know that I am a like condemned sinner, for which reason I lean my only hope upon the grace of God in Christ. But based upon the evidence of this letter (not one mention of Christ throughout) and his public record of supporting anti-Christian causes (pro abortion, anti death penalty, pro homosexual agenda, etc.), I think it is fair and right to say that Kennedy appears to be an unregenerate man up to at least this late point in his life. Barring a last minute conversion, Drew is correct in saying that it is not likely that he was saved.

September 6, 2009 at 5:53 PM  

"God does not play dice with salvation! Whom God has eternally predestined, the Holy Spirit calls through word and sacrament."

I don't know where you are coming from in this statement. I have repeatedly said that I am unaware of Sen. Kennedy's eternal fate, only God has that knowledge. There are many people in all churches everywhere who also hear the Word and receive the sacraments who are never in the fold of believers. After all wasn't it our Lord who said in Matthew 7:21-23;

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

As a matter of fact these "that work iniquity" are listing their works before Christ and He dismisses them. Sen. Kennedy was listing his works before "the Vicar of Christ" and asking for his intercession, I'm sorry, but it is similar. Now, does that mean Sen. Kennedy is one of those who the Lord doesn't know? I can't say I know, nor have I ever claimed this whole time to know where he eternally rests. The only thing I have said is that I hope he is in heaven with Christ.

Also, I hope you don't believe that everybody who walks in a church, that affirms the creed, that partakes of the sacraments is consequently saved from perdition. For Jesus says in Matthew 7:13&14;

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

You also say:

"Most likely" is inconsistent with "best construction."

No, "most likely" is consistent with approximate knowledge which is what I have with this letter, but please note how I concluded my post:

"Let us hope that between the time this letter to the Pope was written and the time of Senator Kennedy's death he confessed Christs righteousness as his own, and in faith, trusted solely in Christ's righteousness alone.

As it is written in Ezekiel 18:23 God is extremely gracious and loving in these words;

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

Let us all take the opportunity to contemplate whether we are in the "life", that is, eternal life found in Christ alone or not!



God's blessings,

Drew

September 7, 2009 at 12:22 AM  

Stuart Wood opines, "In Kennedy's letter we clearly see a false dependence upon and appeal to one's own works and righteousness. We also see a totally misguided appeal and dependence upon the prayers of a deadly usurper of Christ who has been the chief enemy of the true Christian church for many centuries. Let us not forget that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church has officially pronounced anathema upon the doctrine of justification by faith alone at the Council of Trent."

Your analysis of Kennedy letter is based on the false assumption that all professing Roman Catholics truly belief every false doctrine of the Antichrist. Let's suppose the Kennedy letter had been written by a Missouri Synod Lutheran Senator, change "Most Holy Father" and "Holiness" to "Pres. Kieschnick", and omit the word "Roman." Would you still say the author has a false dependence upon and appeal to works righteousness and human prayers?

Stuart Wood opines, "I, too, feel sorry for Sen. Kennedy and sincerely hope that he repented of his sins and trusted in the atoning work of Christ before his death. I also know that I am a like condemned sinner, for which reason I lean my only hope upon the grace of God in Christ. But based upon the evidence of this letter (not one mention of Christ throughout) and his public record of supporting anti-Christian causes (pro abortion, anti death penalty, pro homosexual agenda, etc.), I think it is fair and right to say that Kennedy appears to be an unregenerate man up to at least this late point in his life. Barring a last minute conversion, Drew is correct in saying that it is not likely that he was saved."

Judging another's regeneration based on their failure to use the word "Christ" is pietism. False opinions regarding the nature of the two kingdoms do not destroy the foundation (i.e., true knowledge of Christ and faith). Please read the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Of the Church. Also, read the Solid Declaration, Election. Making book on someone's salvation is contrary to God's word.

September 7, 2009 at 6:09 AM  

Drew Lomax opines, "Also, I hope you don't believe that everybody who walks in a church, that affirms the creed, that partakes of the sacraments is consequently saved from perdition."

Irresistible baptismal regeneration and infallible regeneration are contrary to scripture. However, we should always have the hope and the conviction that God works faith through His appointed means. God also has appointed means for the binding of sins and the delivering of a person to Satan. Sen. Kennedy's local church had sole jurisdiction. For anyone else to declare Sen. Kennedy fallen from his baptism (or to lay odds) because of his supposed lack of good works, gross sins, Romanism, etc. is papism (i.e, exercising churchly authority where no authority exists).

September 7, 2009 at 7:01 AM  

"For anyone else to declare Sen. Kennedy fallen from his baptism (or to lay odds) because of his supposed lack of good works, gross sins, Romanism, etc. is papism (i.e, exercising churchly authority where no authority exists).

That's a good point. I just want to repeat, once again, that I have no authority to excommunicate or anything of the sort, nor have I once said that Sen. Kennedy is eternally lost by the powers invested in me, etc., (I am but a beggar in need of Christ's righteousness as well).

But in Sen. Kennedy's letter, it would seem that there may have been a weakness in the life of a believer, something of which we all face, namely to depend on our own good works.

Maybe it was too personal to use a real-life example. And for that I am sorry. Nevertheless, my intention in this article was not to condemn Sen. Kennedy, but to use this example for all of us to test whether we are in the faith or not. I will state for the 12th time (and yes I did count) I do not lay claim to know where the soul of Ted Kennedy eternally rests, I hope he rests with Christ.

My post as written, may have erred in to strong a direction implying that I know of Sen. Kennedy's fate, and for the 13th time, I do not. Please forgive me if this post comes close to suggesting that, because the Lord knows I ask for forgiveness in all things I do: good, bad, or indifferent.

God's blessings,

Drew

September 7, 2009 at 3:22 PM  

Drew,

Greetings in Christ! Please permit me to give a brief treatise on what the Orthodox Church (and to an extent the Roman church) believes on being "saved" through the intercessions of the Saints. First of all, read 2 Corinthians 1:9-10. There one will see first an affirmation that all Good comes from God, including salvation itself. Second, for Orthodox salvation is all encompassing, and includes help in earthly disasters, sicknes and the like such as what Paul was experiencing in the text; the spiritual and temporal life are not dichotomized. Third, in verse 10 we see that although God is the source of all that is good, He works through means- sound familiar? In this case Paul is "helped" by the prayes of others.
Thus for Orthodox, the means by which He works is broader than two sacraments and the Bible. It includes the prayers of others (among many other things such as annointing with oil, relics, etc.). Hence being "saved" through the prayers of others means that in the running of this race UNTO THE END, we are assisted by the intercessions of others, especially the Mother of God.
As for Senator Kennedy, his life speaks for itself regarding his support for the murder of millions of Americans through abortion. We can pray for others, but we are judged on our own works; the fruit of our faith or the lack thereof.

September 21, 2009 at 9:53 AM  

In regards to 2 Cor. 1:9-10 I can agree with what you explain of these scriptures if only I give way to meaning divorced from context and an eisegetical approach of inserting a certain meaning into the scripture where none is warranted by the context.

In verse 4 of chapter 1 St. Paul speaks of God comforting him in order to comfort others who are suffering.

In verse 5 St. Paul affirms that even though he suffers, he is comforted all the more on part of Christ and presumably the endurance he displayed while suffering on the cross.

In verse 6 he explains that though he suffers, it is brought to good purpose in showing others how to endure the same suffering, just like Christ has shown St. Paul.

The consolation spoken of in verse 7 is the hope of eternal life in Christ, which awaited Christ upon His death and resurrection, to which now awaits Paul, and will await the Corinthian believer along with every other believer. He trusts that this goal in mind will keep the Corinthians faithful even in hard times, just like it has kept him faithful.

Now, in verses 8-10 St. Paul explains that he hid nothing from them of his sufferings in Asia where he "despaired even of life", but ultimately he put to death this idea of despair, trusting, rather, in God's providence and not his own efforts. And what is God's providence for the life of the believer? That if God delivered Christ from such horrible despair, that we, as children adopted in Christ too will be delivered from misery and death.

In verse 11 he acknowledges the Corinthians prayer for him, in the midst of his suffering and the gift of deliverance from said suffering, brought about by prayers from the faithful.

Now, I believe that to be a fair exposition of exactly what is going on in verses 9-11, and, in all that, where do you see room for this statement other than to willingly reading it into the text when you say:

"Hence being "saved" through the prayers of others means that in the running of this race UNTO THE END, we are assisted by the intercessions of others, especially the Mother of God."

First, it might be, that when you and I are using the word "saved" we mean two different things entirely? You explain being saved as this:

“First of all, read 2 Corinthians 1:9-10. There one will see first an affirmation that all Good comes from God, including salvation itself. Second, for Orthodox salvation is all encompassing, and includes help in earthly disasters, sicknes and the like such as what Paul was experiencing in the text; the spiritual and temporal life are not dichotomized.”

While being “saved” from sin, and “saved” from temporal calamities may employ the same verbiage for both phrases, the difference between them, however, is profound. While temporal matters may frighten us, and God certainly sometimes “saves” us from them, he also ordains the times of suffering in the life of the believer (Mark 8:34). Here St. Paul is explaining, that regardless of what his feelings are to his own predicament, that God has used his sufferings to bring consolation to the suffering Corinthians, just as Christs sufferings and glory bring consolation to Paul in his times of trouble. So, man, or the devil might bring evil against us as ordained by God, yet, God has meant it for our good. Just like Joseph's sufferings in Egypt brought about the salvation of Israel, etc.

September 22, 2009 at 12:20 PM  

However, when speaking of being “saved” from sin, at least in the pure cruciform theology of the Lutheran Church, is not even remotely close to being “saved” from temporal matters. Being “saved” from sin, is equivalent to being saved from the wrath of a righteous God, and, paradoxically, the salvation can only be wrought by the selfsame righteous God, in giving us his Son's righteousness, and heaping on our sin to Son. So, in effect, God rejects his Son, the only being on earth to ever keep perfect righteousness, for the sake of sinners, who hate him. It's a strange love to say the least, and completely alien to my fallen reason, yet, I, like St. Paul, will trust Him Who's ways are not my ways (and praise God that they are not).

So, what am I getting at with all of this? Well, basically that St. Paul is speaking of the first order of being “saved” here, and not the latter. And, that these two understandings of being “saved” are similar, but not here equivalently employed given the weight of what exactly we're saved from.

And, furthermore, God does want all of us to pray without ceasing in regards to temporal matters, however, trusting more in the will of God, as the third petition of the “Our Father” prayer implores us to do. So, when believers pray for other believers, they do so under the recognition that God ultimately knows what is best for the life of their fellow believer, (ie. Whether it is good for the believer to suffer temporally or not.) And, that is not to say that we shouldn't help our neighbor in his times of trial, and to that end we should help him (ie. The doctrine of vocation.) But we approach it like St. Paul, by encouraging others to endure till the end, no matter what that end may be, just as Christ did on the cross.

Now, as for reading this bit into the scriptures, you say, “...we are assisted by the intercessions of others, especially the Mother of God.”, I'm sorry, I just don't see how you can expand this scripture to mean the intercession of the Saints here, and I believe that you are in error reading that into the scripture. Here is why. For no where else in scripture can it be confirmed by either Christ, or the Apostles, that we should ask for intercession from the Saints. As a matter of fact, if we focus attention away from the divine where God has implored us to come directly to Him through our advocate, his Son, and turn our attention rather to what is earthly (ie. The Saints, even though their spirits reside in heaven, yet whose fates are ultimately terrestrially bound in the resurrection), then that is idolatry.

I also am confirmed by scripture that the RC, and EO errors in Mariology, are also idolatrous. I believe the sinful flesh, if, while trying to conceptualize Christ's incarnation, cannot rectify the fact that Christ was truly human and, in appearance, an inheritor of sinful flesh via Mary, then how could he truly be holy, and subsequently divine? Thus, sinful reason attempts to square the circle and make Mary free from the curse of sin as well. But, you see, if Mary was free from sin, then her parents must have been free from sin too, and their parents as well, and their parents, etc., until ultimately it becomes a reductio ad absurdum ad infinitum. And, to follow this down the labyrinth further, we will find that there has to have been a stream of sinless people in the race of human beings going back to Adam and Eve, for it is Adam's curse that we bare with now in our flesh. If they were sinless, then what is to be made of original sin, and the need of Christ's righteousness to begin with? Now, you may ask me, “then how was Jesus sinless?” The answer is: that I don't know, for the fact that scriptures do not illuminate that for us, therefore, God did not believe it was something we should quibble over.

September 22, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

Then, to top it off, Christ had said when St. Phillip asked him to see the Father in John 14:9, “...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father...” Meaning, that if we want to approach God the Father, then we need go no further than Christ, for to us, He is the advocate who goes before the Father continually on our behalf. But, the excursion into Mariology attempts at grouping Christ into an unapproachable holiness, like that of the Father, and thus, Mary is needed to go to Christ. This doctrinal practice is man-made and idolatrous, for it attempts to remove Jesus from where He promised us he'd be, and put a mere mortal human in His place. Also, do you see how these errors compound on each other, and in the end destroy the need for, and work of Christ on the cross? These things are not to be taken lightly.

And I would also like to address this statement:

“Thus for Orthodox, the means by which He works is broader than two sacraments and the Bible.”

Regardless of your thoughts on Lutheran theology in reference to the “means of grace”, and the belittling of those appointed means, I don't see where this statement comes into play scripturally. And, furthermore, it would seem, at least to me, that perhaps when a man ventures upon the thought of how the infinite is contained in the finite (ie. The incarnation), that it just doesn't jive well with his reason, and he begins to question whether God is merely limited to the use of such paltry things as bread, wine, water, and a book to work His grace. But this is what God has given us in Christ, I could think of no better example than the incarnation itself. Christ, according to the powers of human observation, was merely a man, he was small, insignificant, and perhaps crazy. But, during His transfiguration on the mount, Peter, James, and John were witness to his majestic glory; a reality, up until that time, completely hidden even to human eyes in spite of the miracles Jesus had worked. And, just like Christ, the means of grace, namely, the Word and Sacraments, may seem small and insignificant, but they are joined to the glory and majesty of God himself. After all, we do not walk by sight, we walk by faith, trusting not what our eyes can see, but only what the Word of God tells us.

September 22, 2009 at 12:32 PM  

Finally, you say:

“...we are judged on our own works; the fruit of our faith or the lack thereof.”

How is the working out for you? Because I have tried that and I always fail.

When Jesus says in Matthew 5:18-20:

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

...and when He says in verses 21&22:

“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

...and also in verses 27-30:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

I don't know about you, but when I read these scriptures I am frightened to the core. I've have heard others dismiss what Christ says here as hyperbole, it is not, He was preaching the law to its fulness! And, according to these scriptures I should be a headless, legless, armless, heartless torso, and then, if those conditions are met, I might able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. For, without the Gospel what Christ declares above is the faith, sacrifice, and commitment that God demands us!

So, how do you reconcile that with your statement?

September 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM  

For now, I'll leave you with the words of St. Paul in Galatians 3:1-14:

O foolish Galatians [RC's, EO's], who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

September 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM  

Daniel opines, "As for Senator Kennedy, his life speaks for itself regarding his support for the murder of millions of Americans through abortion. We can pray for others, but we are judged on our own works; the fruit of our faith or the lack thereof."

Trusting in works, in the fruits of faith, or in the prayers of men rather than in Christ alone destroys baptismal faith. A false opinion regarding the authority of government to bear the sword against the unborn does not destroy baptismal faith.

I rejoice that Christ washed away all of Sen. Kennedy's sins in Holy Baptism. I give thanks to God for the faith given to Senator Kennedy in baptism and that God mercifully preserved him in the true faith. I pray God forgives Sen. Kennedy's many sins and grants him eternal salvation.

September 26, 2009 at 7:15 AM