Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Luther: 95 Theses

Luther: Trick... Or Treat?

95 Theses

Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences Commonly Known asThe 95 Theses
by Dr. Martin Luther

ut of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.

  1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.
  4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.
  6. The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases, the guilt remains untouched.
  7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making him humbly submissive to the priest, His representative.
  8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead.
  9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case.
  10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory.
  11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep.
  12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition.
  13. Death puts an end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them.
  14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least.
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair.
  16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance.
  17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.
  18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace.
  19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves.
  20. Therefore the pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself.
  21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the pope's indulgences.
  22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life.
  23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few.
  24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty.
  25. The same power as the pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish.
  26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them).
  27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.
  28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful).
  30. No one is sure of the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness.
  31. One who bona fide buys indulgence is a rare as a bona fide penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed.
  32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.
  34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man.
  35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.
  36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.
  37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.
  38. Yet the pope's remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, for, as already said, they proclaim the divine remission.
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.
  40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men's consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties.
  41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.
  42. Christians should be taught that the pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy.
  43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences.
  44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties.
  45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God.
  46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences.
  47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.
  48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.
  49. Christians should be taught that the pope's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.
  50. Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.
  51. Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.
  52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.
  53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.
  55. The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.
  59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.
  60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.
  61. For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.
  62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
  63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.
  66. The treasures of the indulgences are the nets which to-day they use to fish for the wealth of men.
  67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.
  68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.
  69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence.
  70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.
  71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences.
  72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant's words.
  73. In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.
  74. It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.
  75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.
  76. We assert the contrary, and say that the pope's pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.
  77. When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
  78. We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28].
  79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died.
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it.
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity.
  82. They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter's church, a very minor purpose.
  83. Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed?
  84. Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love's sake, and just because of its need of redemption.
  85. Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves,—why are they, to-day, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative?
  86. Again: since the pope's income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?
  87. Again: What does the pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect repentance, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation?
  88. Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.
  89. What the pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever?
  90. These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy.
  91. If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist.
  92. Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace.
  93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ's people, "The cross, the cross," where there is no cross.
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.
  95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.

Original Electronic Source:

X-Men Transfigurations!

"It spreads through me body and soul,
Like some loathsome disease,
Corrupting everything it touches,
Reshaping me in its own image.

If unchecked,
It will consume me.
I will die.
It will live in my place."

"I face... two paths.... I am so far from home. I feel so lost, so alone.... Help me!!"

"The metamorphosis is nearly complete..."

"... when the shuttle emerges from the nebula..."

"The light
--so brilliant, so blinding--
what can it be?"

"I... I'm myself again!"

"I face not two paths, but three."

"Out of fear, I denied the one I knew in my heart that I would take. I could not face the X-Men, tainted as I was by the monster within me, and so I fled. I wish I could see them now, to tell them how much I love them all... to bid them farewell." -- Ororo

In 1992, Marvel came out with a Transfigurations! story-arc. The X-Men were all in space and some of them became infected by an Aliens-like creature. The "Mother Queen of the Brood" succeeded in planting a seed in the storm-goddess herself.

The evil being grows inside of Storm. It feeds off of her. And, it wants to take complete control of her. It almost does.

She hurtles herself from her star-ship, willing to die rather than live with such a wretched infection eating away at her.

Although she risked death, she turns out fine. Her mutation sustains her. Before she left her ship, she had entered a star cluster. The light from the stars, along with the worlds within her vicinity, boosted Storm's mutant ability.

This is what had happened to the Roman Catholic Church.

Before Martin Luther's time (1517), the Devil had managed to plant enough seeds in the Church to corrupt it completely. Instead of being the mouthpiece of God, the Pope had been turned into an office of Satan. Luther knew that now was the time to repent. "When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent,' He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance" (1). No one stood above the Law of God. Those who had been called into the offices of the Church had begun to see themselves as above the Law. Yet, Luther stressed that all vocations were to be the same. Everyone has a service of God to perform in their life, not just those in the church. And, simultaneously, everyone needs repentance, not just those who do not serve the church.

Instead of the Church remaining the innocent and holy, pure Bride of Christ, it had become a monster worthy of membership with the Brood. Or, worse, the Roman Church had become a member of the ranks of Antichrists  leading people to Hell itself. It was a slow change, but one that needed to be stopped.

And, Luther was willing to take the jump. He would rather lose his soul to Hell, he was excommunicated after all, than see the Bride of Christ completely controlled by the Devil. He took his stand.

He knew that the repentance spoken of above has a meaning that is "not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh" (3). He had to take action, on the outside, to stop the demons from growing on the inside. He put up the 95 Theses.

But, how did Luther see the demon? How was he able to save the Church from its own sinful demise?

He wasn't.

"Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells" (94).

What Luther had studied was the Gospel. He was able to see and become influenced by the Light-- so brilliant, so blinding... This Light of the Gospel worked through him. It opened up more choices than he could have ever imagined before. The Holy Spirit moved and led him to take the leap. He jumped out of the norm, and a reformation subsided. It wasn't by his own power, although he is often given credit, but by the power of God at work through him. At the end of it all, Luther remained solely a man. Yet, God was able to work through him to change the world.

But, here at the end we're reminded of something. We are not immune to the Devil. We are not immune to death. We are not immune to sin. We are just as bad as the Roman Catholic Church had been. We are infested by seeds of doubt, seeds of corruption, seeds of sin. We too are just people in need of repentance. We see ourselves as bigger than we really are. We miss the need for knowing who God truly is. We hide from the light and let our own darkness grow. We cannot be afraid to turn to others for help.

At the end of the comic book, Storm's only regret was her lack of trust in her friends, the X-Men. Before the comic begins, Storm made the choice to get as far away from her team as she could. She takes off into the abyss of the heavens in order to save them from the monster she assumes she'll become. What she had missed was the support and the care that she really needed from the rest of her team.

If we are to know anything it should be that we cannot do it alone. Without friends of the faith, fellowship, or a support-system, we can fall away all too quickly (we give into Bacon's idols).

Still, even with other sinners' help we may become a beast. Just look at what happened to the Church. Not only do we need a team, we need God. Christ is the only safe and secure foundation. He is a cornerstone that never crumbles.

Instead of being transformed by Satan into a pawn of his horrendous army,
We need to become transformed by Christ.

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

One way or another, we're going to change.

Wouldn't it be better to change for the good?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Infant Faith (Jordan Cooper)

"One of the most contested aspects of Lutheran theology when talking to people tends to be the concept that infants have faith. Luther vigorously upheld the ancient practice of infant baptism against the anabaptist movement, and also sought to uphold baptismal efficacy. An objection which he often encountered was that since salvation is by faith alone, how can baptism save an infant, who does not yet have faith? Rather than answering the question in the way that Augustine does, wherein a parent's faith or the church's faith is imputed to the child, Luther argued that infants do indeed have faith.

In opposition to what human reason might suppose, infants can have faith. The Biblical testimony on this is clear. Look for example at Psalm 22.

"Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God." (Psalm 22:9-10)

In this Psalm, David discusses his faith, and in doing so references the fact that he had faith at a time when he was still nursing. How is this possible? The answer is just as clear, "you made me trust you." In Reformation theology (and all Augustinian theology for that matter)faith is a gift of God. It is not a human achievement, not something that one chooses out of a free will. If this were so, then infant faith would be impossible. But according to a monergistic scheme, faith is a divine gift, a divine work through the operation of the Holy Spirit. This being the case, why is it not possible that God could do such a work for an infant? To argue otherwise seems to imply that there is something necessary in a person for faith to be a possibility. This is in opposition to Reformation theology.

Peter Leithart makes the argument that infant faith is proven by the fact that we talk to infants. If we spend time talking to infants, and interacting with them, we do so because we know that they have an awareness of others. However limited that awareness might be, it is apparent. Are we, as Christians, willing to say that this is the case with other human beings but not God? Is not the reality of God even more apparent and real than that of creation? An infant has to constantly look outside of themselves to receive help; they look to others to get food, to move to where they need to be,and for every type of sustenance in life. Is this not precisely what faith is? Looking to one outside of ourselves as helpless creatures?"

For more, check out Jordan Cooper's blog: Just and Sinner.

Here's another article on awareness in newborns.

Mmm... Bacon

The other day, I brought up Bacon along with his four idols (the Idols of the Tribe, Idols of the Cave, Idols of the Market-place, and Idols of the Theater). I threw up a brief description of why he was concerned with the idols along with an explanation of each one.

But, as promised, it is time to get down to why these idols matter.

Bacon had been trying to find a way to rid himself of the influences that plagued his mind. He knew that the world outside of himself effected everything he thought, did, and knew. He saw that his perspective tainted his thinking, his self-built surroundings enclosed him in a particular fashion, the company of the market-place gave him a specific understanding of sorts, and there were even people out there purposely spreading their own dogma and propaganda. He attempted to tear down the walls of influence in order to finally get down to the pure, unedited, truths of the world.

Yet, after all of the thought put into this, Bacon came up empty. Without acknowledging the influence of others in the world, it becomes even easier to "loosely grasp at shadows and abstract forms." We may try to attempt to hold onto vague ideas because we know that we cannot trust the influences around us. We would be like a man trying to hold sand (106).

So, Bacon realized that he needed to stop his truths from being "supplied with wings." Instead, they should be "hung with weights" to keep them from "leaping and flying." He wanted the sound-mindedness of a truth that could stand on solid ground. Instead of leaving our heads up in the clouds, he wanted to bring us back down to earth. He needed some sort of anchor (104).

The anchor that he chose to supply are the facts of science. By doing this he thought "at last shall we see the dawn of a solid hope" (106).

Well.... What's wrong with this? O_o

The idols make sense, to stay well-grounded it would fit to need something to weigh us down, science is good, and bacon is good. So, could anything be possibly wrong with this picture?

I believe that Bacon's biggest flaw is due to his first Idol, his aspect. He opened up a can of worms that can't be resealed (let alone returned). Once, he took the rug out of his own two feet by saying that "It is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things," it's almost impossible to trust one's own instincts. No matter how many scientific facts a person believes their view is held on, Bacon has already defeated them. They have no way to accurately see their own figures. Their idol has them fooled (41).

So, in essence, we know nothing.

Without the ability to trust our own minds, we delve into skepticism. We wish that we could trust our thoughts, but realize we can't. We want to trust our surroundings, but we've already set ourselves up to fail there. We yearn to reach out and trust the people around us, but they are filled with their own idols. And, I hesitate to bring up those who purposefully trick you into following their own agenda.

Nothing retains its truth. Nothing is reliable. Everything from faith to science falls apart.
There is an immutable hole left empty.

This leaves Descartes, one of my favorite modern philosophers, to pick up the pieces.

While Bacon leaves us nothing but grasping at shadows and standing on suspicious science, Descartes rediscovers how he is able to retain his ability of trust while attempting to establish the truth (3). He begins right where Bacon left off. "I realized that it was necessary... to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last" (17).

Descartes ceases to give into the Idols of the Tribe: "Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through the senses. But from time to time I have found that the senses deceive, and it is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once" (18).

He decides to start from scratch. What ground can Descartes find to stand on in the midst of all this skepticism? Bacon saw the need of a foundation. But, science was not a trustworthy source. It is effected too much by the first idol. It's just as untrustworthy as anything else from an individual's perspective. Descartes needed to find firmer ground.

The first thing that Descartes acknowledges a belief in is himself. Still, a belief in himself is unfounded unless he has a source for believing in himself. He knows that even his own mind has played tricks on him in the past. Therefor, it is not as trustworthy as it might seem. This requires him to look for more. There needs to be something bigger, something grander, something stronger to enable him to trust his own instincts. He sees this source as God. Only the existence of God, being the good God, is enough for him to be able to trust even his own senses.

Because God is good, he would not fool Descartes completely. God is not a sadistic monster who pleases himself with the knowledge that we, as lesser creatures, no nothing (not even being able to trust ourselves or our own instincts). God, more than anyone, is good. He wants us to know the truth. He does not wish to trick us, but he wishes that we may trust our senses. And, trust in him.

"Now, however, I have perceived that God exists, and at the same time I have understood that everything else depends on him, and that he is no deceiver; and I have drawn the conclusion that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive is of necessity true" (70).

While Bacon's answer became dismissed by his own idol, Descartes recognized an even stronger foundation. This foundation, God, is needed before any other idea may be seen as sound. Only God, being a good, all-powerful, all-knowing God, would have the ability of separating truth from deception. And, he is willing to be just that, the rock and cornerstone that we need. He is the way, truth, and life. He even made the commitment to live and dwell among us in order to share this good news (Gospel) with us. Christ came not only to fulfill the covenant of the Law, living the perfect life and becoming the final offering, but to point us back to the Father. He had a three year ministry not only to make disciples, but to help us know him and the one who sent him even better.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Proverbs 9:10.

So, why were those idols important?

Like Bacon claimed, "The idols and false notions... have taken deep root [in human understanding].... Unless men being forewarned of the danger fortify themselves as far as may be against their assaults" (38). These idols not only keep us from understanding simple things of science, they are sins affecting our own very basic judgments. They keep us from ever clearly seeing the truth of God.

The First Idol (Aspect): Our own perceptions beg us to recreate God in our own image. We want to be able to make the claim that we know Him best. But, do we really someone else for Him (like Tash)? As a culture, we strive to fit Him into a tiny little box. We often wish that God would become a genie, granting us whatever we ask without putting up a fuss. We forget the honor and blessing of actually being made in His image. As soon as the idol takes root, turning the tables, we become our own master. We are God. But, are we really? No matter how we see Him, whether we see Him as a wish-granter or don't see Him at all, He is still in control. The moment we start to put our own ideas first, instead of knowing and trusting Him (by reading His Word), is the moment that we begin to lose our grasp of who He really is.

The Second Idol (the Cave): Do our surroundings take us away from Him? Have you plagued your own home with other idols? Idols, that take you away or distract you from the truth? It's an easy thing to do. It doesn't take much for something to be an idol. Luther said in the explanation of the First Commandment, everyone has a god. Because, a god is what or whom you set your heart and trust upon. This can be money. It can be sex. It may be romance, penance, or independence. Whatever you trust the most, whatever your faith is in, is your god. Do not allow the things you surround yourself with take the place of God. Instead let them lead you to Him.

(Here's a devotion on sin and idols.)

The Third Idol (the Market-Place): A mere step out of our comfort-zone is the public. In public, we often do whatever it takes to regain comfort. One of the worst things we tend to do is "conform." A common philosophy is to shoot down those who are opinionated. Everyone must at least appear to agree. Being "nice" is mandatory. But, is being nice really relevant when souls are at stake? While we are out there, in the world, we are called to stand up for what we believe in. We are to be witnesses, martyrs, of what and who we believe in. Although we might not notice it at first, over time our rock of faith becomes whittled away. Secular philosophies and ideas beat down on it like waves on the shore, our very own foundation begins to erode. Our, once rock-solid, faith in Christ becomes no more than a pebble being washed ashore. This is why we need Christian fellowship (κοινωνία). Even though our rock is solid, firm, perfect, holy, Jesus Christ himself, our faith can still fall away. We are mortal. We are sinful. We fail. Christian fellowship like church, Bible study, or even just chillin' with good Christian friends is crucial so that we have some way to regain the ground that has eroded during our time apart. And, to take it a step further, this is just another reason why Communion is so important. Not only do we have fellowship with one another, but also fellowship with God Himself.

The Fourth Idol (the Theater): Well, I guess everyone likes a show. But, the worst thing you can tell yourself is that it's ok to just watch. There are people out there (Satan specifically) who want to tear you down. There's a whole religion called anti-theism. They base their beliefs on tearing away the beliefs of others. That's just one type of the various sharks in the water. The theater is everywhere. In our current world of mass txts, internet, and television, we are bombarded with data. Most of this data is meaningless, harmful, or just plain wrong. Even if we intend to watch something sober-mindedly, its influence and ideas effect our own in the most unnatural ways. Just by viewing a sick joke on Youtube, we think of performing it. Just by reading a hateful post about someone, we think twice the next time we decide to talk with them. Just by seeing someone with their skirt down, we picture it the next time we see someone who should be admired for their beauty. And, just by witnessing idea like the anti-theists insisting there is no god, we allow ourselves to plant our own seed of doubt.

Bacon's idols reveal serious threats to the truth.
And, they are serious determents to the faith.
Although Bacon might have been lost, we can still learn from what he had to say.

**All of these quotes have been taken from Bacon's Novum Organum and Descartes Meditations as quoted in Forrest E. Baird's fifth edition of Philosophic Classics Volume III: Modern Philosophy. I have made note of the paragraph numbers above. It's definitely a good selection and worth the buy if you are interested.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bacon, and other Idols

Francis Bacon was an English philosopher who lived from 1561-1626.

Although, much of his philosophy tends to be unhelpful (as were many modern philosophers who became skeptical of truth), I found his four idols to be interesting. He lived during the origins of popular skepticism and he developed this idea of the four idols as things to stay clear of when making a sound judgment. He was concerned with the ability to make a pure thought, a thought without any influence by idols, a thought that was completely factual and true. I'm not sure if he ever succeeded.

Continue reading to hear Bacon's own words and explanation. Click here for my summary and application.

He begins by describing how his four idols have already effected our thought processes:

"The idols and false notions which are now in possession of the human understanding, and have taken deep root therein, not only so beset men's minds that truth can hardly find entrance, but even after entrance is obtained, they will again in the very instauration of the sciences meet and trouble us, unless men being forewarned of the danger fortify themselves as far as may be against their assaults" (38).

Then he attempts to "forewarn" us of these idols:

"There are four classes of idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names,--calling the first class Idols of the Tribe; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market-place; the fourth, Idols of the Theater" (39).

He explains why it is important to be on the look-out for these particular idols right from the start:

"The formation of ideas and axioms by true induction is no doubt the proper remedy to be applied for the keeping off and clearing away of idols. To point them out, however, is of great use, for the doctrine of idols is to the interpretation of nature what the doctrine of the refutation of sophisms is to common logic" (40).

The first one are the Idols of the Tribe:

"The Idols of the Tribe have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions, as well of the sense as of the mind, are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it" (41).

This first idol basically states that humanity is flawed because it is utterly unable to see the big picture. Due to our limited capacity and individualistic reception of the world, we remain unable to grasp an untainted picture of the universe outside of ourselves.

The second are the Idols of the Cave:

"The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For everyone (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolors the light of nature; owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature or to his education and conversation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in a mind indifferent and settled; or the like. So that the spirit of man (according as it is meted out to different individuals) is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance...." (42).

This second idol is concerned with human nesting. It is natural to select the things that make you the most comfortable to surround yourself with. We sift through things, keeping the ones we find most valuable near us. The Idols of the Cave are the influences (typically in your abode/home/cave) that you have chosen to keep around you. This includes ideas from posters, books, authors, TV, etc.

While the first idol focused on how askew the individual's perspective/aspect was, this one spreads it out to say that even your typical surroundings have been effected by rampant ideas.

The third idols are Idols of the Market-place:

"There are also idols formed by the intercourse and association of men with each other, which I call Idols of the Market-place, on account of the commerce and consort of men there. For it is by discourse that men associate; and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar. And therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding. Nor do the definitions or explanations wherewith in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right. But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies" (43).

The Idols of the Market-place steps out once again, further than the individual and his abode. The third idol is from the influence of others around you. Their thoughts and actions effect your very own mannerisms. Not only do they influence how you act, but also how you speak and how you think.

The fourth, and final, idols are the Idols of the Theater:

"Lastly, there are idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call Idols of the Theater; because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stageplays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion. Nor is it only of the systems now in vogue, or only of the ancient sects and philosophies, that I speak: for many more plays of the same kind may yet be composed and in like artificial manner set forth; seeing that errors the most widely different have nevertheless causes for the most part alike. Neither again do I mean this only of entire systems, but also of many principles and axioms in science, which by tradition, credulity, and negligence have come to be received..." (44).

Basically, besides our own aspect (first idol), our surroundings (second idol), and our fellowship (third idol), there are Idols of the Theater. These are ideas that have been intended to be spread. They are not accidental, there are those out there who wish you to hear their aspect (whether it be true or false). And, often times we watch. Just giving attention or paying heed to these idols gives them a foothold and an influence in our own lives.

Explaining the importance of knowing these idols: CLICK HERE

**All of these quotes have been taken from  Bacon's Novum Organum as quoted in Forrest E. Baird's fifth edition of Philosophic Classics Volume III: Modern Philosophy. I have made note of the paragraph numbers above. It's definitely a good selection and worth the buy if you are interested.

Responsibility for Immorality -- RZIM

Here, Ravi gets to the heart of the question:
"Does evil come from the inside or the outside?"
"Is it the environment's fault or our own?"

As a Lutheran, we're pretty sure the answer is within. The Old Adam tortures the soul. But, Ravi does a good job of explaining the source in a secular manner.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stephen Colbert's Ghoulbert

"Halloween is right around the corner,
but unfortunately the Obama economy
means a lot of people can't afford
elaborate costumes this year.

In fact, many women can't even afford dignity."

Super Chesterton

Chesterton, Super Reason and Heroic Faith,
Find more about him here.
Or, use the search bar -->
To find more of my posts about him.

The Ballad of the White Horse Lecture

Dale Ahlquist, the leading Chesterton student of our time,
has posted his lecture on The Ballad of the White Horse online.
The lecture begins with a summary of the great epic:

"Chesterton may have considered The Ballad of the White Horse his greatest literary accomplishment. I have two reasons for saying that. First of all, it is a masterpiece. But it was the only one of his works that he felt worthy enough to dedicate to his wife. The Ballad of the White Horse is one of the last great epic poems in the English language. It deserves a high place in literature. It is should be studied in depth and discussed at length and appreciated far and wide. But as is the case with most of Chesterton’s writings, too few of us have figured this out.The Ballad is the story of the English King Alfred, who fought the Danes in the year 878. But it is also the story of Christianity battling against the destructive forces of nihilism and heathenism, which is the battle we are still fighting."

For more of the lecture, click here.
To read the Epic Poem, click here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Ballad of the White Horse

If you would like to read
G.K. Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse,
Click on the picture below.

"Yet Alfred is no fairy tale;
His days as our days ran...

But who shall look from Alfred's hood
Or breathe his breath alive?
His century like a small dark cloud
Drifts far; it is an eyeless crowd...

We look from Alfred's eyes,
We know he saw athwart the wreck...

Where One more than Melchizedek
Is dead and never dies...."

For a summary of the story, click here.

The Lily

Chestertonian Ethics

Thought and Art,
Sex and Animal Worship,
Standards and G.K. Chesterton,
What more could you want?

Good Instincts (Slice)

"On an international flight, after waiting five long hours for takeoff, a voice announced that the flight was cancelled. It is a scene many have been privy to, so I know better than to solicit sympathy. But in the aftermath of this announcement was a scene that captured my attention. A young girl, no older than 10, immediately cupped her face with her hands, visibly deflated by this news. In broken English, a woman nearby tried to comfort her and the story slowly unraveled. Apparently, the child had written an essay that had won an award, which promised a week at space camp in the United States. She was only halfway to her destination waiting anxiously for the second half when the flight was cancelled for the night and rescheduled for the morning. Since she was traveling alone, news of the cancelled flight meant an evening far from home, alone in a foreign city, and one less day of her much-anticipated camp.

As the story was slowly drawn out, listeners around the cabin responded instinctively. A man immediately provided a cell phone for her to call home, a young mother offered to help her get to the hotel, and a flight attendant sat down beside her and offered to stay with her for the night and bring them both back in the morning for the next day’s flight.

Perhaps you have been active in a similar scene—bringing help for the stranded motorist in the rain, responding with care for the family on the news whose house burned down, guiding a lost child in the grocery store back to his mom. What is it that pulls us toward goodness in such a scene? What is it that moves us with the desire to help, particularly if we are merely creatures operating with instincts to survive? When perfect strangers reach out as if intuitively shouldn’t we pause to ask about the intuition? When we sense our need to move toward something or someone in care and concern, could it not follow that we have been made to know this need?

A national radio program recently ran a segment discussing one company’s efforts with what they are calling “ethics rehabilitation” classes—classes meant to re-instill the ethics essential for effective business. I was fascinated by this call to morality even across a medium that daily chips away the idea of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

What is it within us that instinctively recognizes our need for some sort of moral framework? What is it that sees a need to distinguish right and wrong, good and evil? Why do we have this longing for goodness or beauty? Can it be truly explained if we are merely creatures surviving for our own right?

In a letter to an ancient community, the apostle Paul hinted at a deeper reality moving us toward what we long to find but often do not, what we long to see corrected in ourselves, in our communities, in our broken world. “Who hopes for what they already see?” he asks (Romans 8:24). Perhaps this inward groaning for good, a longing for beauty, our need for what is true—it is the hope for what we were made to see. It is the instinct that recognizes that something stains our fallen world yet hopes for what God intended. We help the stranded child far away from her parents because the desire to see children cared for is set within us, because we hope for what is good and we hope to see goodness fully.

Paul suggests that our recognition of the good points us to the God who first saw things and called them good. We were made to know the beautiful and the true because we were made by creative and cultivating God of the garden. We were created to taste and see all of it. The Spirit who has given the hope and longing to know and see goodness isgoodness and love and beauty and truth. Knowing this Spirit, Son, and Father, we know not only the why and who behind the instinct, but the one who makes it whole again."

--Jill Carattini

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sasse Letter on Dogmatics

"...There is no reason why a Lutheran should not do some work in a non-Lutheran institution and with liberal theologians. We all have done that. But this must be counterbalanced by a spiritual guidance. And it must be corrected by years of profound studies of the Creeds and Confessions. I was delighted to hear that there is a revival of interesting the confessions at Concordia, St. Louis. This may be a sign that the great awakening of Orthodoxy in Christendom is coming also to your church. It is coming in the Roman Church, in Europe and even in Judaism. Just as in philosophy metaphysics is coming again, so in theology Dogmatics. A few years ago the lecture halls of the dogmaticians were empty, everybody wanted to do hermeneutics and exegesis. Now the tide has turned. No one is any longer interested in Bultmann. I can only wish that your professors in St. Louis and Springfield see what opportunities are open for a true dogmatic theology, based on the Scriptures and the Confessions…

With every good wish and kindest regards,
Yours Sincerely in Christ,
H. Sasse"

Original Source:

Chesterton Revolution

CHE T-Shirt in Red

Back View

If your idea of an icon for freedom and countercultural rebelliousness is a murderous, mustachioed ideologue, you’ve come to the wrong place. Really, you should just move along.

If, instead of launching into a rant about class warfare when pressed for an answer to the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” you astutely reply, “I am,” then this is likely the shirt for you.

Join the ranks of the Eternal Revolution!


"We ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth." 3 John 1:8.

In case you can't tell, I really like being able to share neat ideas with you. I love growing in the faith along side you. And, I really like the ability to support you, in your beliefs, by passing along messages like I often do.

But, sometimes I get discouraged. I've decided to add this little button on the side of my blog. It's a reminder for both me and you. It's to remind us that even when we don't seem to have any support, God is still there with us. It is to remind us that we are here to support one another and each other's faith.

How do we do this?

I am always encouraged and supported whenever someone leaves a comment. I'm supported when I have the blessing of someone's prayers. And, I'm supported when I hear back from you whether it be about a post or just about life in general. I'd love to talk about almost anything with you. Feel free to email me at

And, don't forget to also be there to do these sort of things (fellowship, prayer, response) for those around you.

Don't be afraid to pass this site along. Maybe I'll post something that someone really needs to hear.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nearer My God to Thee

File:El sueño de jacob.jpg

"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

File:Blake jacobsladder.jpg
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel." Genesis 28:12-19.

These verses inspired this song, the last song that the band on the Titanic played before it sank:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,

 Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear steps unto heav'n
;All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv'n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!


There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!


"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Genesis 2:18

"...Then God decides out of nowhere to declare the detriment of loneliness in all mankind?

From a distance it seems as if Adam had plenty of relationships going for him. He had dogs to play with, birds to watch and fish to catch; but for some reason, God saw it beneficial to point out Adam's aloneness right there in the beginning.

How does that work?


Can you see it?
Adam walked with GOD!
Adam talked with GOD!
He ate next to the Creator.
He shared joy.
He had pure relationship.
They were at each other's beck and call.
It must have been a wonderful union.

Yet it was God who declared that man needed something more."


She can wait.

Sasse: "But the church has a special understanding of time. She can wait."

It is certainly not an accident that in the modernworld the church year and the secular year, which at the time of Luther still coincided, have moved furtheraway from each other. When we today celebrate the beginning of a new church year there is a hint of the fact that the church has a different division of time than the world has. The church lives in the world and there the law of the creator is in force expressed in the Old Testament in the great words: "There is atime for everything." The church lives in the worldin which the stars orbit, the years and seasonschange, generations are born and die.

But the church has a special understanding of time. She can wait. For nineteen centuries she has sungin her liturgy the "Hosanna to the Son of David.Blessed is he who comes in the name of theLord!" For nineteen centuries she has lifted heartshigh to him who will come to judge the living and the dead. For nineteen centuries she has prayed"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" and heard the Answer, “Yes, I am coming soon." For nineteencenturies she has heard the sneering question"Where is the promise of his coming? Forsince the fathers died everything remains as italways has been since the beginning ofcreation." (2 Peter 3:4). Through all these centuriesright up to the present time she has received no other answer than the comforting and warning wordsof the New Testament to the Christendom of thattime, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He ispatient with you, not wanting anyone to persist but everyone to come to repentance." (v9). Codhas been patient with us. So the church waits withpatience. This patience is foreign to the world. Itcan't wait. It must always have everything straightaway. That has been true for the entire modemworld of humankind in the last century. For it a hopethat still hasn't been fulfilled after nineteen centuriesis simply makes no sense. Dear Advent congregation, we all need to be quite clear about what fools we make ourselves in the eyes of theworld when we gather here in this house of God today in 1936 in order to have our hopestrengthened in the coming of the Lord, and to praywith the Christendom of every century "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

Sasse, Sermon for Advent I, Nov. 29, 1936 inZeugnisse, Trans. Strelan

Original Source:

Minimum Carnage

Carnage: The most ruthless, bloodthirsty, killing machine that the Marvel Universe can provide. He is the son of the Venom symbiote. But, unlike Venom (who became attached to slightly normal people such as Eddie, Pete, and Flash), Carnage had attached itself to a deranged serial killer named Cletus Kasady (who's character had been based off of the Joker himself).

In the ongoing series, Minimum Carnage, this monster has been selected by a team from the Microverse (the Microns) in order to go back with them to kill everything. Kasady complies, yearning for the chance to destroy a universe without a bunch of random superheroes getting in his way.

He is led through a portal called the Prometheus Pit which shrinks him down to the size of the Microverse. Unexpectedly, Venom and Scarlet Spider (heroes) remain hot on his trail. They realized that destroying one universe wouldn't be enough for Carnage and that one day he would return to finish off the normal world.

When they get to the other universe, the three characters are split up.

Carnage remains with the Microns. As they show him around, he realizes that their plan is to clone him. They want to make a Carnage army to take over their plane. He decides to double cross them, killing all of them but one while retorting, "You think--What?--You can grow yourself an army of Carnage-soldiers... Trust me. One of me is plenty."

Simultaneously, Agent Venom has had an interesting experience of his own. After he landed in the Microverse, a bunch of tiny faeries attacked him. They called him "Corrupter" as their voices became powerful sonic waves that caused his symbiote to scream in agony. The good guys of the universe (the Enigma Force) quickly showed up to help him. They saved him from the creatures' sonic blasts. And, they're headed to introduce him to their leader, the Redeemer.

And, guess where Scarlet Spider ended up. He's with the Redeemer. There introduction is a little bit awkward. After the Spider seems to land on his head he grunts and stammers, "Hate. Everything." Obviously, he's in a little bit of pain. Someone next to him responds, "Hate is self-destructive.... I feel the rage in you. The anger. They keep you from fulfilling your potential." Scarlet doesn't take the guy seriously. Really, would anyone? He asks this "Yoda" who he is. The response is, "I am many things. But above all else, I am a man." When the hero asks what the man is doing there, all he gets is, "Preparing." "Preparing for what?" "To die." And then, a monster attacks.

Wow, what a story.

It's amazing to think that a whole universe could exist in a microscopic level. But, isn't that where we are? We are tiny in comparison to the universe. We are atoms on the scale of time. And, we are even less when compared to the greatness of God. The Lord"knows our frame (how we were formed); he remembers that we are dust. As for a man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." Psalm 103:14-16. We are nothing but dust and grass, living and dying, in order to take up just a speck of time.

Still, this does not hinder God's love for us. The rest of the Psalm shares this. It is saying that although we may seem insignificant, "The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting." 103:17. Even though we are almost nothing on the grand scheme of things, that does not stop Him from loving and cherishing us.

Now, how did we repay God's steadfast love for us? We fell (Gen. 3). Sin entered into the world. It became a cancer, devouring our universe. It is worse than deadly because it is the reason for death itself. Perhaps, the worst part of this is that we are the ones who invited it in. We are the ones who welcomed sin into our lives. We allowed it to make us weak. We allowed it to torture us and to tempt us. We allowed it to kill us. And, we continue to do so. This is the same sort of mistake that the Microns made when they brought Carnage into their home. They wanted power. They wanted knowledge. They wanted to be gods. And, their wages (of their sin) was death. But, our death is much worse. We do not risk the death of our comic book character form, an idea that can die and come back to life with any sort of loophole that the writers can think of. We risk more than our physical death, we risk the repeated death of our soul in Hell.

The reason why the faeries had attacked Venom as he arrived into their world was because he carried with him the same sort of symbiote as Carnage. The alien symbiote is a "corrupter." On the microscopic level, the alien parasite has fed off of many worlds. It slowly eats away on microscopic planets until they are all destroyed. It is a part of the Macroverse (the normal world) that continues to have effects on even things as small as the Microverse.

This is what sin does. It is a powerful entity. It is above anything that we could ever even attempt to control. Although, we try to use it for good (just like Flash tries uses the Venom symbiote as an agent), we cannot. It's too strong, too wicked, too corrupt (recently, even Flash lost control of the symbiote when it attacked Scarlet Spider). As Carnage says, the Devil didn't need an army of demons (although he has one), just sin ("one of me") is enough to destroy the universe.

So, how do we stop it. Look at what the faeries use. Their power lies in the strength of their speech while our power lies in the strength of our (speech's) meaning. The only force we have that is strong enough to stand against the corrupter, sin, is the Word of God, the proclamation of the Gospel, the sword of the Spirit.

But, that is still not enough. As hard as we try, our power is only strong enough to weaken our opponent. We can only force him to scream and scatter (like the bell that makes Venom depart in his original story-lines). We cannot defeat him. We cannot destroy him. We're just members of the Microverse. We're tiny little creatures attempting to fight something that's big enough to devour planets. This is why we need something someone bigger. This is why we need a Redeemer.

There is something extremely familiar about this Redeemer character in the book. He seems to be filled with knowledge, "Hate is self-destructive." And, he might know us better than we know ourselves, " I feel the rage in you. The anger. They keep you from fulfilling your potential." With his advice, we could surely become stronger than who we already are. But, this man also seems a bit odd. He is definitely a man ("I am many things. But above all else, I am a man."). But, typically men are not found "Preparing to die."

In the New Testament, Jesus uses many parables and shares commands to help us become stronger. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And, he is definitely a man. He is a man preparing to die. He had always known his purpose on Earth. "My hour has not yet come" (John 2:4). And, he gladly (Hebrews 12:2) fulfilled it. "It is finished/completed" (John 19:30).  But, even more, he is God (John 10:30).

We find out later that the Microverse Redeemer has been called by many names. But, he sees them as inconsequential. "Some call me the Redeemer... the Prophet. Others, the Savior. Others, a conqueror. But even these names are meaningless. All that matters is my purpose." "I'm a healer." The Redeemer says this right before he heals Spider's wounds from a battle. But, he's not only on a mission to heal individuals. The place that Scarlet had found this man was on the same planet as the leader of those who wish to destroy this universe. The Redeemer does not plan to kill or destroy his enemy. He wishes to heal him. And, to heal the universe soon after.

One difference here is that God's names aren't meaningless. At the name of Jesus every knee should bow and tongue confess that he is Lord of all. Yahweh not only was improper to say, but also improper to right because God's name is so holy. It bears with it the breath of life itself. Although, what we call the Lord may seem inconsequential, it builds on our understanding of him. He is the Lord of (Earthly and Heavenly) Hosts. He is the Good Shepherd (who had finally come to tend for his sheep, and will come again to collect them [Ez. 34]). He is the Christ (the anointed King). He is the Son of God. God's names bear meaning. They are all we have to describe how powerful and majestic He is. Although, they fail to meet the complete picture. They're all that we have to do it justice.

How awesome is it that he also knows us and will call us by our names?

Let's take a step back to Psalm 103:2-10 again. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good... The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.... He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities."

C.S. Lewis once called God the great physician. Although it might hurt, he's good at cutting away the disease, the illness of sin, and healing those who love him. He wants to heal us, don't be surprised if he takes any means necessary.

Jesus explains (in the book written be a physician [Luke 5:31]) that "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." And, he personally followed through to rid the world of the disease (sin, death, the Devil) Himself.

In the way that He heals, he forgives our iniquity, even though we have brought it down on ourselves. He heals all of our diseases, if not on Earth then in Heaven. He redeems our life from the pit, he takes our souls that deserve to be condemned to Hell and delivers them to where we were made to live. His love, mercy, and goodness overwhelm us. He does not leave us where we are.

He's the hero of our tale.

We live in the Microverse, the universe plagued with sin and corruption. Sin is bigger than us. We need someone else who is a big as sin, perhaps bigger. Christ had come from some place bigger, like the Macroverse. And, his plan is to take us back with him. We are to live there because that had always been the place we had been meant for in the first place. It is a place without taint.

The only way for him to accomplish this was through his own bitter suffering and death. It was his sacrifice on the cross that had finally saved us all. And, his victory over death that is able to give us life.

Through his scars, we are healed.