Monthly Archives: October 2006

In honor of Reformation Day.  I was listening to a local radio program this morning and Martin Luther's entire speech was read.

Read this line a couple of times: If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it can not be right for a Christian to speak against his country. I stand here and can say no more. God help me. Amen. 

MOST SERENE EMPEROR, AND YOU ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCES AND GRACIOUS LORDS:—I this day appear before you in all humility, according to your command, and I implore your majesty and your august highnesses, by the mercies of God, to listen with favor to the defense of a cause which I am well assured is just and right. I ask pardon, if by reason of my ignorance, I am wanting in the manners that befit a court; for I have not been brought up in king’s palaces, but in the seclusion of a cloister.

...continue reading



About the Roman Catholic church and divorce and remarriage!

The more I learn, the more I realize that (as Moonshadow pointed out), the dogma/doctrine of annulment runs in the opposite direction. We can examine this dogma (or is it doctrine?) against Scripture. We know that that Scripture is my final authority (and considered here as the only infallible rule of faith and conduct). In examining traditions/dogma/doctrine of other denominations/religions I examine against Scripture to see if "it's in there".
From what I understand, getting an annulment means that you have to:

  1. make different "categories" of marriage (sacramental vs. "not") - which I don't find in the Bible. The website I linked to referred to "true marriage", meaning that some marriages are not true, a concept that I cannot find in the Bible.
  2. make a case before the church that your marriage before God never existed.

Having entered into a marriage contract (which is in the Bible and is considered "marriage"), you are married. Or (according to the Roman Catholic church) maybe not.

If you find yourself in a "not a marriage" (for lack of a better term) it's because of

  • psychological reasons
  • misrepresentation or fraud
  • Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage (inability or refusal to have sex)
  • Bigamy, incest (being married to someone else, or close relatives)
  • Duress (being forced or coerced into marriage against one's will or serious external pressure, for example a pregnancy)
  • Mental incapacity (considered unable to understand the nature and expectations of marriage)
  • Lack of knowledge or understanding of the full implications of marriage as a life-long commitment in faithfulness and love, with priority to spouse and children.
  • Psychological inability to live the marriage commitment as described above.
  • Illegal "Form of Marriage" (ceremony was not performed according to Catholic canon law)
  • One/both partners was under the influence of drugs, or addicted to a chemical substance.

Which of these is actually Scriptural? As one who believes that Scripture is the final and only infallible source of faith and conduct, we can examine each of these reasons against Scripture to see if they are Scripturally sound.

The first thing to look for is any place in the Bible where a marriage is labeled "not a marriage" before God. I don't find one.

  • Christ, while talking to the woman at the well, said that she had had several husbands - were these all annulled? Jesus considered them valid marriages, or He would have said something different. But He didn't, He called them marriages.
  • Consider Onan, who married Tamar in a Leverite marriage and didn't fulfill his end of the bargain. The Bible never tells us that it was not a valid marriage.
  • Because it's the law of our land (in the USA), bigamy and incest would have the marriage not be valid to start with (without the judgment of the church). No annulment should be needed, because it was an illegal marriage. Inthe Bible, Jacob married his first cousins and the marriage was never considered anything but a marriage. In the New Testament, living with your father's wife was condemned and church leaders are prohibited from plural marriages.
  • Canon Law; Scripture doesn't give a form for marriage (meaning that it must be done in a church and/or by clergy). In the Old Testament, the Law said that if a woman in captured in war, a man shaves her head, waits a period of time and then has sex with her. I suppose you could call that a "form", but it also contradicts the Roman Catholic exception for "duress" - at least for the woman). There was no ceremony in a church.
  • question: if a man becomes impotent, can the wife get an annulment?

The New Testament gives us two reasons for a Biblical divorce. In the Bible, we are never told that there must be additional paperwork by the "church" in order to remarry. In the Bible, a Biblical divorce comes with the right to remarry.

The Roman Catholic Church considers a marriage valid when:

  • It is celebrated in a ceremony according to church law
  • both parties are free to marry each other
  • each party intends from the beginning of the marriage to accept God's plan for married life, as taught by the church
  • each party has the physical and psychological ability to live out the consent and commitment initially given to the marriage.

Again, let's examine this against Scripture. The Bible never tells us that a "valid" marriage must be celebrated in a ceremony.

That both parties are free is a Biblical concept.

Intentions don't appear to matter (again consider Onan) and (other than the ability to consumate the marriage) physical or psychological reasons don't appear in the Bible.

My conclusion is:

If you are divorced for Biblical reasons, the divorce is Biblical and the marriage DID exist. A person is free to remarry. You don't need an annulment.

If you are divorced for unbiblical reasons, there is still hope an forgiveness (read this). But the marriage still existed and you still don't need an annulment.

(One thing, though...I know a woman who married a man in prison and that was never consumated. Even according to our court system, that was called an annulment by the law.

  • NOTE: Any debate on this post MUST be on a Biblical basis. We can examine the doctrine of annulment against Scripture or we can not discuss it.


If there was the same justice for all - across the board, I'd on the fast track to hell.

God is a just God, but somehow, unjustly, He saved me.

Our text this morning was Luke 18; the parable of the Pharasee and the tax collector. Read the parable and then click read what came before (you'll have to go to chapter 17) and look at who Jesus was talking to. He was with His disciples. The section that the parable was in begins, "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt..."

If salvation was about "justice", those who were "good" would be the ones saved. Instead, the ones who know that they are "bad" - those who rely on Christ (and Christ alone) who are saved by grace, through faith.

Jesus used this parable to tell his followers (the ones who were trusting in themselves and their own good works) that it wasn't about justice, it was about mercy.

If it had been about justice, the Pharisee had it all together.  He tithed, he fasted, he did all the right things.   He belonged to the right church, he did the "paperwork", performed the right rites.  And he thanked God that he wasn't like that man over there...the one who didn't have it all together.
But it's not about justice, it's about mercy.  The tax collector knew that he didn't have it all together.   He knows it's about mercy.

In the broadest sense, there has been justice, Blood has been shed.  Christ's blood.

But in the narrow sense - the "me" sense - I have not paid my debt; it was paid for me.

It's not about what we do, it's about who Christ is.

It's not about what we have done, it's about what Christ has done.


On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg.

And thus began the Reformation.  Today, there are four traditions that have come to us through the Reformation:  Lutheren, Anabaptist, Anglican (which is closest to Roman Catholic) and Calvinist.

Eventually "boiled down" to the "Solas", the Reformation was a call for return to the Scripture as the authority for Christian faith and conduct.

I've written quite a bit on the "Solas" - but because of the way things worked out have not written on "Soli Deo Gloria" (to the glory of God alone) and a lot on "Sola Scriptura".  There is a lot of great material on  Monergism's rundown of the Sola's centers not on Luther's points of debate with the Roman Catholic church; they  look at how we should be applying the Sola's today.

I grew up in a church full of rules.  Don't drink that, don't play with those, don't go to this event.   And I stayed, for most of my life in the church, in churches that focused on what we had to do in order to stay in good standing with God.

It wasn't until I "reformed" that I examined what I grew up with against Scripture...and I changed.

There is nothing in me...nothing...that merits my salvation.  Everything good in me flows from Christ and Christ alone.

There is nothing that I can do to earn my salvation...Christ has already paid the price.

For it by grace we are saved, through faith...and that not of ourselves.

That's what the reformation is all about...reforming...examining everything against the Word...constantly reforming.


Read, bookmark (or better yet print it out so you don't lose it when the story is dropped) and remember what it says.

"Stem Cells Might Cause Brain Tumors"

There are those campaigning to open up federal funding for embryonic stem cell research on new embryonic lines.

There are important realities in the sentence that I just wrote that are often passed by.

  • There is already federal funding for existing embryonic lines
  • There is  private funding for new lines
  • research on new embryonic lines is NOT illegal, it's just that the federal government is not funding it

Something that I did not know (HT parableman) is that

Steven Goldman and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York said human stem cells injected into rat brains turned into cells that looked like early tumors.

From what I understand, the idea is for stem-cells to replicate into brain cells that release dopamine.  And...

Goldman's team apparently succeeded and transplanted them into the rats with an equivalent of Parkinson's damage. The animals did get better.

But the grafted cells started to show areas that no longer consisted of dopamine-releasing neurons, but of dividing cells that had the potential to give rise to tumors.

The article says that

Scientists have long feared that human embryonic stem cells could turn into tumors, because of their pliability.

(but it doesn't give a source)

If this article is accurate and Goldman's team's suspicions bear out, this could have an impact on the was we argue against (or for) stem cell research.


From Reformed Catholicism.

John Calvin (as opposed to Roman Catholicism and Martin Luther) maintained that the "real presence" of Christ is present in the Lord's Supper.

And yet, not the "carnal" or physical presence.  As the writer of this article says,

He [Calvin] asserted that Christ is truly present in the sacrament, but that his presence is brought about through the agency of the Holy Spirit, uniting the believer with the body and blood of Christ to be fed spiritually. Calvin, in agreement with Zwingli, believed that Christ’s body is in heaven and that it therefore cannot be contained locally in the Eucharist, but he did not think that Zwingli did justice to Christ’s words of institution, to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 10:16, or to the ancient tradition of the church. He believed in a spiritual understanding of the Presence that, in his opinion, is no less real than the localized understanding affirmed by the Roman Catholic Church and by Luther.

The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is essential to one's walk with God.  There is something mystical about this meal (mystical in the "having a spiritual reality" meaning of the word).  There is something beautiful in partaking of communion.

The Bible clearly teaches the bodily ascension into heaven - the real, physical body of Christ is not here on earth.  To accept the reality of the dual nature of Christ (fully man and fully God) gives us the possibility of the "real" spiritual presence of Christ in communion, but not the physical presence.

It is also interesting to note that for all their claims that Calvinists destroy the plain sense of the words of institution “this is”, ubiquitarians themselves destroy the plain sense of the passages concerning Christ’s bodily ascension into heaven, which is that the God man Jesus Christ moved locally from one place to another in which place his physical body resides. (Remember all His talk about how He was about to “go” to His Father and “come again”?) Either way, both sides are constrained to hold an unliteral understanding of one passage of Scripture or the other.

I've heard this issue brought up like a mantra...making it an issue of division, instead of the unity it was meant to bring.  I like this paragraph:

In the end, one thing we all must confess is that we are dealing with a tremendous and unfathomable mystery here. Let us tremble before the majesty of our divine-human King and shudder at the thought of treating our fellow worshipers with contempt, lest we be guilty of despising His beloved children whom he feeds graciously with the wonderful substance of his true body and blood. He has granted to His Church the tremendous blessing of feeding on His flesh and blood that it might be united in him, not so that we could exalt ourselves over one another and tear his body apart like a bunch of ravenous heathen cannibals.