If you read an article and wish to comment, then please do.
Do not worry about the date it was written.
I promise that I or the articles author will answer.
"You list "immutability" as an attribute of God; however, you do not list "mutability" as an attribute of man. The attributes you do list are all affected by man's essential mutability. For example, immortality is not an essential attribute of man. However, in his essential mutability, mortal man puts on immortality (1 Cor. 15:52, 53)."
Whether or not all such accounts represent reality, alchemy had another, and considerably more important side: spiritual transmutation, the search for a means by which the dross of one's base nature could be transformed into the gold of spiritual purity. Exceedingly important studies of this largely neglected aspect of the alchemical tradition have been made by religious phenomenologist Mircea Eliade and by analytical psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. They have observed that the laboratory operations of the alchemist served as a "physical liturgy" - a ritual whereby the adept searched for the means to overcome the disjunction in himself (expressed as the opposing principles of "Sulphur" and "Mercury"). The discovery of the Stone of the Philosophers (often significantly termed the Elixir of Life or the Universal Medicine) would arise on the basis of the "conjunction of opposites" in the personality (symbolized by the alchemical marriage of Sulphur and Mercury). Thus would the alchemist achieve what Jung called "individuation": personal wholeness, salvation. Physical or metallic transmutation interlocked with this because of the fundamental hermetic belief that a "cosmic unity" embraced both the Macrocosm (nature) and the Microcosm (man). The Philosopher's Stone would therefore not only accelerate the organic and natural transformation of base metals into more "noble" elements but would also serve as the means to personal salvation and eternal life.
The redemptive side of alchemy was capable--as is anything related to human salvation--of two approaches, charachterized in Christian theology as "works-righteousness" and "salvation by grace through faith." Works-righteousness refers to any and all activities on the part of fallen man to save himself through self-effort; such attempts are doomed to failure because sin, like water, cannot rise above its own level, and the very activity of trying to save oneself is evidence that the sinner refuses to admit the extent of his self-centeredness. Salvation by God's grace, appropriated by faith, is the only way to life, for to rely on God is to see the true extent of one's own sinful incapacity and to go to the one pure source of lifegiving medicine. Alchemy outside the Christian tradition, and the Gnostic, "nature-philosophy" hermeticism of Renaissance Paracelsians and modern esoteric alchemists, is most definitely a variation on the theme of works-righteousness. By self-motivated religio-chemical technique, the adept harmonized the contraries within him, produced the Philospher's Stone, and transmutated his own existence to higher, more spiritual plane. Goethe's Faust is a characteristic example of the esoteric alchemist who by trying to save his own life ends up in a genuine devil's pact.
There were also, however, many Christian alchemists, who, losing their lives for Christ's sake saved them. Particularly in the epoch of the Protestant Reformation (the 16th and 17th centuries were the high point of alchemical activity in western history), alchemists imbued with Luther's central conviction that the just shall live by faith employed alchemical operations as a liturgy of biblical salvation. The Philosopher's Stone became "the Stone that the builders rejected": Christ Himself, who alone could achieve the conjunction of opposites in the individual soul and in the cosmos (the "chemical marriage" of Sulphur and Mercury displayed the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). Reformation alchemists produced outstanding works interrelating hermetic symbolism and Scriptural truth (e.g. Heinrich Khunrath's Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae of 1609, and the many writings of Michael Maier), and some of them, such as Libavius, contributed mightily to the development of today's chemistry.
Did "spiritual transmutation" work? The common rationalistic approach to the question is first of all to demythologize physical alchemy (metallic transmutations were merely "symbolic" of inner, existential transformation) and then to dispense with the spiritual claims of alchemists as subjective will-to-believe. This line of interpretation directly parallels the negatively critical approach to the Bible which first demythologizes the texts by eliminating their historical claims and then subjectivizes their message. But not all cases even of physical transmutation can be easily dismissed, as we have already noted. Where spiritual alchemy is concerned, Carl Gustav Jung made the striking discovery that the fundamental symbols and motifs employed by the old alchemists also appear in the dream life of the modern businessman! These common--indeed, universal--"symbols of transformation" represent what Jung calls archetypes of the collective unconscious: symbolic patterns describing every man's need to have his broken soul mended.
Thus the alchemists were engaged in a real--not a mythical or individual-subjective--quest. Did they find an answer? We know that the Christian alchemists did, for Christ was their Philosopher's Stone, and His historical resurrection from the dead establishes the veracity of His promise that "because I live, you shall live also" (Jn. 14:19) As for the esoteric alchemists who sought (and continue to seek, for many still exist, especially in France) a salvation that can be drawn from within themselves or achieved by technique, they too "have their reward" (Mt. 6:2, 5, 16). It would be fruitless to deny their claims to special spiritual experience. But salvation can be counterfeited, for the Evil One is "a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). The quest of the true Philosopher's Stone is dangerous: "whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Lk. 20:18). A broken and contrite heart will not be despised, and the path to salvation goes in that direction; while the arrogance and false security of self-salvation have no other end than the crushing weight of a millstone.
(Montgomery, John Warwick; Principalities and Powers; pgs. 101-104, Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1973)
Anybody who reads my blog should have ascertained by this point that my regard for natural, unaided human reason as it relates to theological knowledge is not very high. So, indulge me in a little thought experiment to show you why.
- Immortal, yet Earthly finite
- Comprehensible, yet not entirely comprehensible
- Potent, yet under authority
- Knowledgeable, yet ignorant without limit
- Fixed in space-time
- Ruled by greater power
- Largely unjust
- Mostly self-loving
...Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
But when Jesus saw it [i.e. his disciples withholding children from Christ's presence], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
But suppose some one could truthfully say, “There was no false teaching in my sermon,” still his entire sermon may have been wrong. Can that be true?...Note this well. When you hear some sectarian preach, you may say, “What he said was the truth,” and yet you do not feel satisfied. Here is the key for unlocking this mystery: the preacher did not rightly divide Law and Gospel, and hence everything went wrong. He preached Law where he should have preached Gospel, and he offered Gospel truth where he should have presented the Law.
(The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, Thesis II, C.F.W. Walther)
Passion would be the only way I could describe it. Not passion in the sense that we sacrifice some things for other things we love (we all do that everyday to a certain degree), no, what I'm talking about is a feeling so strong for something, that you would withhold sleep to take it in more completely because there isn't enough hours in the day to satisfy yourself. It is your waking thought, and it is in the last flutterings of your mind before you sleep.
Some might think it extreme to talk like this, and it is in certain sense, but our passions are extreme. Look at a drug addict, a young couple in love, a mother or father's love for their child, an over-devoted employee, an obsessed care-taker, an over-acheiving student, what have you, all of these different walks of life have something in common, they are all passionate to the point of personal detriment. Now granted, some of these walks of life are more productive than others, I don't mean to judge them in such a manner, I only wish to point out that their feeling of passion is relative to each other.
Well then, who is it really hurting?
Interesting choice of words, because passion has been know to cause pain. Heck, the root of the word passion is "passio", which in Latin means "to suffer." So, when I speak of passion, I also speak of suffering. But what am I suffering if I obsess my thoughts upon physics, theology, or the pursuit of knowledge in general? Here follows my profundity (tongue firmly implanted in cheek).
1. Symbol S For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work.
2. A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.
3. A measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message.
4. The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.
5. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.
Why? What is killing them?
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Thou shalt have no other gods.
What does this mean?
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
(Luther's Small Catechism)
Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
For example, what if a patient who has a cancer, that is on the verge of becoming terminal, that is unless the patient is treated right away, whose doctor told them that everything is okay, go on, drink and be merry; would that be a good thing for the doctor to do? No. They should tell the patient as it is.
So it is with God, except that the patient (us) is terminal with original sin and is completely convinced, regardless of everything he feels, that he's fine, that he doesn't need to take God's direction.
So it is with God, by letting us know that we are "addicted" to sin, so to speak.
Go in peace, but know that your passions also wound Christ, even passions that lead to good things. Only good people can do good things, and evil people evil things. No one is good, not one, and all our deeds, the good, the bad, the ugly are evil. However, our Father has made us good by the deeds of Christ. It is in Him, By Him, and through Him that any good is done in the world. Thanks be to God!
O Lord, our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the world, thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens! What is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, and thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. O Lord, our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the world!
We praise thee, O Lord; for it is good to sing praises unto our God. We thank thee for the dispensation of thy grace through the mediation of thy blessed Son; for the bounties of thy providence; for the plenty with which thou hast crowned the labors of the husbandman; for the preservation of our health; for the reign of peace; and for the enjoyment of our civil and religious liberties. We thank thee for the comforts and privileges of which we have been permitted to partake this day. We acknowledge thy hand in every mercy, and desire to render back to thee the homage of gratitude and love. We acknowledge that every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. But we confess unto thee, O God, that our souls are burdened with iniquity; that we are frail and erring creatures; that our hearts are corrupt, and that our hands are not clean in thy sight. We lament that we have so often dishonored thee. We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed against thy Divine Majesty. We deplore the alienation of our minds from thee, and the corruption of our hearts. We feel that there is no spiritual health in us. O Lord, have mercy upon us, and enter not into judgment with us. Look with pity upon all that we have thought or said or done amiss this day. Be present with us, as we now present our supplications unto thee; and, through the intercession of thy dear Son, grant unto us the pardon of all our sins. Give thy Holy Spirit to comfort the troubled mind, and soothe the pains and wipe away the stains of guilt. May we retire to rest in perfect charity with all men. May we be enabled, through thy .help, to love our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for them which despitefully use us and persecute us; that we may be the children of our Father who is in heaven.
We now commit all our concerns to thee, O God, for the year to come. Grant us thy blessings, both temporal and spiritual, for Jesus Christ's sake, to whom, with thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end.
Unto God's gracious mercy and protection we commit ourselves. The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, both now and evermore.
In the name of the +Father, and of the +Son, and of the +Holy Ghost; Amen.
Most gracious God, by whose unspeakable mercy we are again permitted to present the annual tribute of our thanks and praise, we bless thee for the continual manifestations of thy goodness to us and to all the children of men. By thy wisdom, O Lord, thou hast founded the earth ; by understanding thou hast established the heavens; by thy knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. We bless thee for the return of seed-time and harvest, and for crowning the year with the bounties of thy providence. We praise thee for all thy gracious dealings towards us, and we beseech thee, of thy great goodness, to receive the thank-offerings with which we come before thee this day.
We acknowledge, heavenly Father, the imperfection of our best services. We confess that we are sinners before thee, and altogether unworthy of thy mercies. But we know that thou art kind, even to the unthankful and the evil. Thou makest thy sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendest rain on the just and on the unjust. Give us a due sense of thy wonderful condescension and forbearance, that our hearts may be moved to contrition for our past negligence and sin, and excited to new diligence, zeal, and devotion, for the future.
We beseech thee, O Lord, to pour down upon the inhabitants of this land the spirit of unfeigned gratitude for all thy mercies. May they enter thy gates with thanksgiving, and thy courts with praise. May they honor thee with all their substance, and with the first-fruits of all their increase. And grant that they may show forth their devotion to thee not only with their lips, but also in their lives. Preserve them from the unholy rejoicings of the sensual and profane; restrain every sinful and intemperate indulgence; and grant us all grace, heavenly Father, to use thy blessings without abusing them; with zeal for thy glory, submission to thy will, and a faithful adherence to the gospel of thy Son; with moderation and humility, with justice and purity, with charity, forbearance, and brotherly love; that, amidst these and all thy blessings, we may seek thy glory and the increase of thy kingdom.
Fill our hearts, O God, with a spirit of tenderness and compassion for all around us. May we rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep. May we be ready to impart of the abundance which thou hast given to us, to the poor and needy, the distressed.and the afflicted, the widow and the fatherless; and thus fulfill the law of pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father.
Grant us, heavenly Father, a continuance of all thy mercies, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I don't want to get into a real deep explanation right now, all for the main reason that we're not exactly sure what the problem is at the moment. All I can really say is that my two year old son is having some issues and is going through the diagnostic process for a few possible develomental disorders.
Adding to that, I am no longer receiving unemployment benefits, and am now burning through what meager savings I had while trying to finish my engineering degree. What that means for now is that I must go back to work full time (perhaps working at McDonalds or something of the sort) while attending school part-time at night. This, unfortunately, means that my schooling will be extended another 4 semesters (possibly), which will extend the time I'm able to get a (somewhat) stable career.
God has seen it fit to lay a cross on my family; pray that we are faithful to endure it.
497 Years ago today a learned monk of the Augustinian order named Martin Luther nailed a document called The 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The world has never been the same! Here is that document, and the hymn of the Reformation: A Mighty Fortress!
Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences
by Dr. Martin Luther (1517) Published in:
Works of Martin Luther:
Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds.
(Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol.1, pp. 29-38
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.
21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;
61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.
76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
82. To wit: — “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”
83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
84. Again: — “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”
85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”
86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”
87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”
88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”
89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”
90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
So, what is this world of which I speak? Well, I'm not so sure I or anyone could tell of it, for to truly know it, one must have been there and back again, or originally from that place with the ability of communicating it's (ie. the other world's) existence to us here and now.
Such an instance of the veil being "rent", as it were, is given 2 Kings 6: 15-17, were it says:
Here God gave Elisha's servant a little peak under the veil, so to speak, and surely was comforted by the vision.
And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
So why speak ye of this veil?
Well, this past weekend I saw more programs on TV than I ever have about the occult, demon possession and exorcism, ghosts, etc., all in anticipation of Halloween coming this Saturday. It seems that even prior to this weekend that shows about the "paranormal" regarding groups and individuals who empirically try to gather facts about the spirit world through recording devices, etc., are growing in number and gaining in popularity. Even right now the number one movie in America last weekend was called Paranormal Activity, about a faux reality couple who record evidence of a demonic haunting in their home. So, in light of this, a cultural firestorm has been lit around all things "paranormal".
Getting back to the TV aspect of things, I can say that all of these shows are produced to be "sensational", ya know, eerie music, discomfiture enducing editing techniques, cliff-hanger commercial breaks regarding heroic researchers in eminent peril, and all the rest that goes with sensational programming. I must admit they are amusing in the truest sense of the word to the uninitiated, mindlessness is alive and well in TV land, but I, yes even I have bitten into them hook line and sinker. I'm embarrassed to admit there isn't really any show I miss, as sad as that may sound. My wife will walk into the living room and say, "are you watching one those ghostbuster shows again?" Me thinks, I'm a loner in my household as regarding interest in the paranormal! Nevertheless, the shows are entertaining, and, if you get past the sensational bits, they are addressing matters of serious importance, which is something I'll get back to in a moment. However, I must say some are less sensational then others, the least being, in my humble opinion: Ghost Hunters on the Syfy Channel Wednesday nights @ 9:00 PM.
You can tell they are a bunch of "normal" people just interested in a subject, of which they seem to be fearless. The two founders of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), Jay and Grant, are plumbers during the day, even in spite of the shows success, and paranormal investigators by night. The usual show will document them leading a team of investigators they've hand-trained to a purportedly "haunted" site, setting up equipment to hopefully capture something, and then revealing to the owner or caretaker of the property their findings. Much of the hours upon hours of evidence they go over for each investigation is discarded as something that could be caused naturally such as a blowing curtain or un-level floors, etc. The bits of evidence they do find which are indeed unexplainable or incontrovertible they present to their client. Here is one of their most interesting findings I think, and keep in mind what you are watching is filmed by night vision cameras in pitch-black rooms, real-time. This clip is of a location close by me in Philly called, The Eastern State Penitentiary, watch it, tell me what you think:
Is it real? I have no idea. It could very well be a fake by the team itself, the camera crew which records them, or an unknown outsider who sneaked onto the premises undetected, and so in any case who knows?
Nevertheless, some of the newer shows are delving into dangerous things for shock value, and could be opening themselves up to serious harm. In some of these more extreme shows they invite pagan rituals, voodoo curses, satanic worship, etc., against their own person all for the sake of catching some sensational footage. All of these people could be setting themselves up for demonic attack or possession, heaven forbid!
However, in the end what are these people looking for ultimately? Is it to test the religious claims of eternity, another world, that spirits both heavenly and demonic are real, or do they search just out of child like curiosity for what goes bump in the night? I'll leave that up to them to decide, but in an ultimate sense they are trying to see beyond the veil. I'm sure there are those who want to find their relatives, there are those who want to see angels, there are those who even want to see devils with scary faces, but I am sure of it that any of these "spiritual explorers" are not expecting to find devil's with angelic faces, for a devil with an angelic face can be any one of those things to any one of those people. In my opinion, this would be the scariest kind of devil in all. These demons wouldn't have to control me through their brute power by force, but by appealing to my pride in showing me what I want to see. They let me be the god who creates his own universe, in his own image, after his own designs, and by that, they would slowly manipulate me into thinking God the devil, and the devil god. The appearance is unimportant but the goal remains the same, divide God's children from their heavenly Father.
Do you not believe me?
I'll give you what I believe to be the greatest example in history, one that still has tremendous affect on the world as we speak, namely Islam and the supposed revelation from the angel Gabriel to Mohamed. I don't doubt for a second what Mohamed claims, I believe he did see an angel with a new gospel, but "*...though...an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we [the apostles] have preached unto you, let him be accursed....**Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (*Gal. 1:8; ** II Cor. 11:14)
So, this is nothing to be mocked when we try to get a peek into these mysterious realms, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12)
Yet, with those things said, the thing we must finally ask is whether God has anything under the veil for us to see or not? It would seem the answer to be no. It would actually seem God is more preoccupied with keeping the veil ever before us. Why do I say this? Because God wants us to look at the veil, to never turn away from it in this world, but to continually, everyday, look at it! The veil that God puts between Him and us, the veil he wants us to focus on is Christ dying for our sins upon the cross. When we see that, when our sins are truly with Christ on that cross, we will then be able to pass through the veil of death and tears in this world to finally see and live in the midst of God's glory for all eternity.
I thought I would leave you with a letter from Bugenhagen (a contemporary of Luther's) to Luther regarding his dealings with a demoniac girl. It's interesting to say the least, for it displays that the devil and his kingdom are quite real and should not be mocked. Enjoy!
On the day of the festival of Simon and Judas we arrived safely, by the grace of God, in Lubeck. Once I had gotten there the Devil gave public notice of himself and was recognized in a possessed girl, who, until this time, had been quite well. Before this, his presence in her was doubted, but now he claimed openly to be there and to have entered the young girl through an old woman's curse. The girl had reminded the old woman (the Devil claimed) of a pound which she still owed her, to which the woman responded: "I'll send the Devil into your body."
I was with the girl today, who was well again. Because they feared that the devil might return, the parents were still concerned. Her parents told me what else the devil had said: "Aren't there enough preachers here? Why is it that you had to call one from Wittenberg?" He also said: "Bugenhagen has come. I know him well, and have often been with him, etc." When I had heard this from the girl's father, in her presence, I laughed and was reminded of the verse in Acts 19: "Jesus I know well and Paul I know well, etc." It is quite true that he has often tempted me and bothered me with his thousand tricks, trying to disprove my teaching and faith, but because of Christ, who helped me by His grace, he was no able to achieve anything except to provoke me to do battle with him. I have still not forgotten what he tried to do through the Silesian Sacramentalists, etc. In other sins it has seemed as if he was defeating me. But, Christ be thanked, though he was pleased to visit me, he was not pleased to stay. I would remind you agian to pray for me in this matter, etc.
But to return to the situation: I asked the girl, who is about eighteen years old and continually bed-ridden, if, after she had come to herself again and was feeling well, she was aware of the way in which she had cursed and mocked. She answered no, that she knew nothing of this. Her parents told me the same thing. They, too, had questioned her when she had regained her senses as to why she had mocked so terribly. She had answered them: "I didn't do it, is was the Devil in me; buy I have no idea what I did." They also told me the following: Yesterday, while the the Devil was torturing her, the father began to quote to her from the Word of God, and, when that did not help, he took a copy of the German New Testament and held it in front of her. She, however, turned her face away and began biting the pillow that was under her head, etc. I spoke for a while with the girl and she gave proper Christian answers and a good understanding of her baptism. I was especially concerned to convince her not to get the idea that she was forced to belong to the Devil simply because he had tortured her, etc. Finally, I knelt, along with all who were present, laid my hands on her head, and prayed. She thanked me as I was leaving.
While I was writing this letter, however, a messenger came and told me that the Devil had tortured the girl again, had thrown her naked out of bed, and under a table, and then under a chair, and had twisted her neck so badly that she would have died had not her father quickly come to help. The girl's parents pleaded that I should come. So I went, and, as I arrived in front of the house, I heard a loud scream. When I entered and reached the possessed girl I heard with my own ears these words: "Bugenhagen the traitor is coming! Oh the traitor, he must go out!" I stood there dumbfounded, and even though I did no believe the liar, I nevertheless interpreted his words to refer not only to the possessed girl, but to the entire city; that is, that I would not tolerate the Devil's kingdom in it. May the God of all mercy permit and accomplish this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
All those present claimed theat the girl had not formerly known my name, and added that she had mocked horribly before I had entered the house. Now when she screamed, I yelled back and called her by name "Elizabeth!" The Devil answered: "Elizabeth, Elizabeth." Then I said: "Yes, are you trying to deny it? Why shouldn't I call you Elizabeth? You gave me testimony today that you received that very same name in baptism, by which was are baptized into Christ." He then began to pounce about, screaming so loudly that those present could not hear each other. But I fell to my knees and prayed earnestly with the intensity which the girl's misery and despair wrung out of me, speaking loudly so that all could hear, that the Lord Jesus should free her--for he had said, "In my name my name they will drive out devils." I think that the others were praying with me since I had turned my back to them. Meanwhile the Devil screamed: "I must go out! Oh I must go out!", and tortured the girl horribly. But her father held her. Immediately after this she lay still, so that her father no longer had to hold her. She lay there, breathing heavily as if she was about to depart. Meanwhile the father told me what the Devil had said to him yesterday before I had arrived: " you doubt that I am present! Now look, I have given you a clear sign!" He pointed to a hole in the window which he had broken. "That", said he, "is how I entered, etc."
Though the girl's body was still moving, we were afraid that she was slipping away. While I sat and waited to see what would happen, she opened her eyes just as if she was awakening from sleep. I spoke to her wih a quiet voice: "Elizabeth!" She answered "What?" I continued: "Do you know what you have done and the way in which you mocked?" She answered: "No." So I reminded her in the same way I had earlier in the day. Then I knelt and prayed with my hands on her head that she should be free, etc. Having finished praying, I asked her to say the Amen. This she did willingly.
And so I left; but I have been told that the Devil tortured her again that night, just as we read in the Gospel concering the swine, etc., and screamed "I must go out, but where shall be my habitation? There is a horse in Lunenburg; I will enter it, or perhaps the chain-maker." Now the girl's father was of the same profession and was, as we say, an adventurous man, since, to my surprise, he had spoken to me without fear from the start, as soon as he was certain that it was the Devil. Said he: "If is weren't a sin there's a lot I would ask the scoundrel and he would have to answer it all." I, however, forbade him to ask anything secretly of the Tempter or to allow it of anyone else. I did not ask what else had happened.
I am puzzled that Satan can confuse people this way. But no matter what he does or says, he still shows that he is a stupid and condemned spirit. These things happened on the eve of All Saints Day, in the year 1530. May God graciously give us the victory against all of [the Devil's] fiery darts through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I don't know?
For those who really want an attempt at answering the unanswerable check these two links out:
For everyone else as clueless as me, read on....
What could trigger the economic collapse?
What is this fearlessness and mocking of which I speak?
However, I ask you, can anybody detect at least a majority of leaders or citizens running the government, the financial sector, or the household, after the pattern of how we should run our homes? There are many who do, I'm certain, but for the most part, do we not see gross corruption in government, finance, and consumers at all levels, the likes of which are only found in decadent nations before they implode? This is because we hate God's law. And, as we are irrespective of God's law, it only naturally leads to us becoming over litigious, lovers of self, power, and mammon, desperately hoarding what will be consumed by fire.
It is evidenced in Scripture (for example; just read the prophecies of Daniel), and in the annals of mankind that decadent nations fall, and usually the fall is quick, certain and irrevocable. What is most insidious about this death is that it is a willfully unforeseen suicide. Yes!; that's right, we willingly kill ourselves in ignorance! And, it's unforeseeable because nations, at this stage are willfully ignorant, purposefully blind, cognitively dissonant, or in our case "irrationally exuberant" to the realities of the world around them. Future and current nations can always look back with 20/20 hindsight, just as we do now, and say, "How could the world allow itself to become so financially dependent on the economy of American?" Or, "Why would anyone in America ever think that switching from the gold standard to a fiat money system (i.e. money backed by aether) was a good idea?" Yet we are unable (or unwilling) to see the fate which is about to meet us. Furthermore, an accumulated analysis of all the various fallen systems of either government, economy, or household, due mainly to arrogance and decadence, could never give us any definitive insight, or render a predictive formula so that we could see the ends coming from far away due to the "problems" overwhelming complexity. We can barely predict the next days weather correctly let alone predict something with so many variables as is encompassed by an intertwined world economy.
Even if someone can see the the fate of their nation or their future from a long way off, they might not be able to see any hope if the vision is rather dismal. Some of us are already experiencing the reality of a collapsed economy, and upon looking at the fundamentals of everything in the markets, the outlook is nothing but dreadfully dismal for the world. And, in my own Christian walk, I can't even begin to count how many arrows of outrageous fortune I have received in the past six months. I constantly fight, and ask God in prayer to keep me faithful in spite of everything I see, in spite of myself! So many times in the past six months I have given in to the feeling that God has been judging me, that I must not be doing something right. It hurts me to no end! I mean, God hates me! right?
But His Word tells me something else! His word tells me to look at my Savior on the cross; He is the one being judged, He is the one who God pours His wrath upon, He is the one that God hates, and not for anything He has done, but on account of what I have done on His behalf. His Word tells me I must accept the reality at present; that I am as righteous as God is, that I am in effect His Son, that I possess the entire Universe, that the Angels are at my beckon command, and that God enjoys my company and I His, and not for anything I have done, but on account of believing what He has done on my behalf! His Word also tells me this world is perishing, and that I shouldn't store up for myself treasures here, which moth and rust destroy, but to keep my hope in Kingdom come, to keep my hope in Christ who is the way to the Kingdom and my true Treasure, to trust in His Word of Truth which the Holy Spirit works eternal life through, to glory in suffering just as Jesus was glorified as "the Son of Man". And to believe all this in spite of what I see, in spite of what I think I know, in spite of the fact that I do not see the glory that is with me in Christ, that I do not experience being present in His Kingdom, and nor do I feel His Holy Spirit interceding on my behalf. With all that said, God wants me stop trying to feel Him and ultimately resign my entire self, body and soul, to the fact that God loves me even when I'm convinced He hates me.
Just as the rain falls on the just and unjust alike, so does misery. Be comforted in heart that God knows our sufferings, He has counted every tear, He has consumed the cup of wrath to the dregs and has died in the damnation reserved for people with a wicked and evil conscience all for the sake of those that don't love Him, for people who, in spite of knowing about salvation in Christ, still hate Him. We, who are utterly incapable of loving Him without a spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit, who still wrestle with the flesh because of faulty senses and our natural love for whispering, malcontented devils, also love Him, although we in our flesh still hate Him. This is the essence of the biblical maxim "Simul Iustus et Peccator" (both saint and sinner at the saint time), and yet, God still loves us. Let us give thanks for this amazing blessing in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.