Saturday, May 4, 2024

Punching Holes In King James Only Conspiracy Narratives

        One assertion that we regularly hear from King James Version only advocates is that the Roman Catholic Church has been an influential force behind the production of numerous corrupt Bible translations. They are alleged to be part of an effort to discredit that particular archaic translation. It has been claimed that modern translations of the Bible are part of a broader conspiracy by Rome to gradually manipulate innocent and unsuspecting people into converion.

Two noteworthy passages that have been placed into brackets of modern Bibles would be Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11. The claim advanced by King James only theorists leaves us with a nagging question, however. If the Roman Catholic Church was plotting to undermine the authority of the King James Translation, then why does it accept those passages as inspired Scripture, despite them being included in textual brackets?

        Following is a footnote from the New American Bible Revised Edition on the text of Mark 16:9-20:

        "This passage, termed the Longer Ending to the Marcan gospel by comparison with a much briefer conclusion found in some less important manuscripts, has traditionally been accepted as a canonical part of the gospel and was defined as such by the Council of Trent."

        Following is a footnote from the New American Bible Revised Edition on the text of John 7:53-8:11:

        "The Catholic Church accepts this passage as canonical scripture."

        The New American Bible has been formally sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church for distribution and edification in faith. Moroever, it contains footnotes which plainly indicate to us that Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 are accepted as inspired Scripture in Roman Catholicism. Yet, King James only proponents refer to these two passages to illustrate how critical scholars want to undermine the credibility of the King James Version.

         It would definitely seem counterproductive for scholars commisioned by the pope to produce new translations of the Bible to outrightly affirm the texts that they are attacking to be divine revelation. That stretches credibility. A much more fair and reasonable explanation for bracketed texts in modern translations is the reporting of manuscript findings. Rather than the use of critical scholarship resulting in the removal of passages from the New Testament, it has been shown to have grown slightly over the centuries.

         The moral of the story is that we must be responsible when expressing disagreement with other groups of people. There are bonafide conspiracies, as well as elaborate myths. What both have in common is that they merit exposure. The claim that the Roman Catholic Church has produced counterfeit Bible translations for the purpose of diminishing the authority of the King James Version does not hold water.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

A Theological Paradox Within The Dogma Of Transubstantiation

        "I am the bread of life...But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:48; 50-51) 

        The Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation means that the substance of Jesus Christ's flesh and blood takes the place of the substance of the bread and wine on the condition of a priest consecrating them. The communion elements are no longer bread and wine upon them having been declared to be the body and blood of Christ. The bread appears to be bread and the wine appears to be wine in every way, despite this miraculous transformation. This change cannot be grasped by our senses. The bread is Jesus Christ's flesh and the wine is His blood. They only share the qualities of what they used to be.

        If Jesus Christ is the bread of life who descended from heaven, then that would mean He is present wherever the bread is. If no bread remains after transubstantiation takes place, then that would also mean Christ cannot be present at the worship service. The absence of the bread would imply the physical absence of Christ. This raises a paradox regarding Christ's presence and the nature of the bread after transubstantiation. What implications does this have for His physical presence?

        This appears to challenge the logical consistency of transubstantiation because if the bread ceases to exist as bread, then the presence of Christ, who is equated with the bread, would also cease to exist. If the bread turns into Jesus’ body, then there is no longer any bread there. If there is no bread, how can Jesus, the bread of life, be present at the Mass? Can the concept of transubstantiation be reconciled with the belief in the continual presence of Christ as the bread of life?

        If the substance of the bread is gone, replaced by the substance of Christ’s body, then the symbolic representation of Christ as the bread of life is also gone, creating a contradiction. If the substance of the bread is no longer present, then the bread of life cannot be present either, as the bread itself has ceased to exist in its original substance. How can bread be both transformed and still be present as bread for Christ to be the bread of life? How can the bread be transformed into the body of Christ and still be considered bread?

        If one posits that the Mass is a perpetual miracle in which the finite and infinite somehow come together, then that too has its own problems. Miracles are usually one-time events that astonish everyone who encounters them, not something that happens all the time. Further, how can something that we can touch and see (i.e. bread) turn into something infinite and way beyond our understanding (i.e. Jesus)? It is like saying that a coffee cup is also the ocean. If this miracle is constantly taking place, then does that mean the laws of nature have changed? Also, if Christ's sacrifice is happening all the time, then should we not be able to examine it like we do with other things that fascinate us?

Monday, April 22, 2024

The Bible Is Not A Safe Guide?

"The Bible was never intended to take the place of the living, infallible teacher, the Church, but was written to explain, or to insist upon, a doctrine already preached. How indeed could a dead and speechless book that cannot be cross-questioned to settle doubts or decide controversies be the exclusive and all-sufficient teacher of God’s revelation? The very nature of the Bible ought to prove to any thinking man the impossibility of its being the one safe method to find out what the Saviour taught. It is not a simple, clear-as-crystal volume that a little child may understand, although it ought to be so on Protestant principles.”

Bertrand L. Conway, The Question-box Answers: Replies to Questions Received on Missions to Non-Catholics, p. 67

Friday, April 19, 2024

Does The Roman Catholic Church Really Care About The Bible?

3d. A rule of Faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.

The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded by the inspired writers. For instance, most Christians pray to the Holy Ghost, a practice which nowhere is found in the Bible. 

We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of Faith, because they cannot, at any time be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation.

James Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 111

Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Roman Catholic Quotable On The Bible

"Through Luther, although Calvin seems to have been the first to announce Monobiblicism clearly, the Bible became the arm of the Protestant revolt. A dumb and difficult book was substituted for the living voice of the Church, in order that each one should be able to make for himself the religion which suited his feelings."

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, p. 11, edited by Bernard Orchard

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Exploring The Correlation Between The Redeemer In Job 19:25 And The Ransom Concept Of Christ In 1 Timothy 2:5

        The central theme of the Book of Job relates to the suffering of God's people. It grapples with the question of what believers are to do when confronted with bad situations that put their faith to the test. Job was a man of faith par excellence, but that did nothing to negate the numerous temptations and trials that he had to face. God brought him down to the lowest point he could go and raised him back up again. In this world, the righteous have to deal with the unpleasant reality of things such as the loss of family, disease, and the loss of material comfort. That is precisely what Job encountered. It is to be gathered from the narrative that evil manifests itself in the form of personal wrongdoing as well as natural evil.

        How can the existence of evil be squared with the concept of a perfectly good God? Why do the righteous have to suffer? The Book of Job compels us to consider a number of points in the face of these kinds of questions. The first would be that humanity is sinful. Job 5:6-7 speaks of man naturally being inclined to cause of his own afflictions. Job 15:14-15 speaks of the human race and the rest of creation as being corrupted by sin. The second point would be that the world usually does not reflect the justice one would expect from a righteous God (Job 9:22-24). The third point would be the inability of man to fathom the mysteries of God (Job 11:7-9). The Book of Job reveals that all human beings without exception need to trust in God. It has elements that lay the foundation for the gospel.

        Job had three friends who tried to help him make sense of his troubles. They believed that he had suffered as a result of personal sin. Eliphaz made a theological argument that God is just in punishing the wicked, so Job cannot be innocent as he claims. Bildad asserted that the loss of Job's family was proof that he had sinned somehow (Job 18:19). That was commonly taken to be a sign of divine disfavor. Zophar told Job that evildoers will be punished by God and that he should have been punished more severely for his alleged crimes than he was at the time. However, the truth was that his three friends had been utterly mistaken. They did not know that God had used Satan to test Job. 

        Job had not done anything to invite calamities upon himself, but they came anyway. That disproves the notion that the root cause of our suffering in life is necessarily due to sinful choices that we make. Nor would it be correct to say that suffering has no value or that God is arbitrary in allowing us to go through pain and misery. If Job had been guilty of anything at all, then it would be that he became self-righteous in the process of defending the integrity of his own ways. That is when God stepped in to remind him of his lack of knowledge and understanding of how He operates. Job needed to be reminded of the finitude of his abilities. One of the key texts being examined is cited as follows:

        "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth." (Job 19:25)

        Job was despaired of life. He accepted that he was going to die the way that he was. His friends could condemn him, but God was a witness to his innocence. That the Lord is his redeemer or vindicator is supported by the context. Job 17:3 contains legal imagery of God Himself providing bail from accusers. Job 19:26 expressly mentions His name. Job expressed utter confidence that God would defend his cause. Further, no one but God Himself could have served as a mediator in Job's case. The word "redeemer" has the meaning of a kinsman redeemer or a relative who would pay off financial expenses out of his own pocket. Job's faith was based on good judgment as to the character of God. His hope for justice in another world was assured.

        The subsequent verse was included here and analyzed to provide further insight:

        "And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God." (Job 19:26)

        Job believed in some concept of a bodily resurrection. As stated before, he was fully expecting his life to expire. Therefore, he was thinking of God's ultimate justice while undergoing pain, distress, and false accusations by people that he thought to be his friends. That his body would be destroyed did not diminish his hope that he would see God. Job expected to see Him while separated from his flesh. The King James Version inserts the word "worms" after "skin," perhaps to convey the idea of physical death and decay. It is absent from the Hebrew text.

        The third verse being examined comes from the New Testament and is cited as follows:

        "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5)

        The Apostle Paul, coming from a Jewish background, affirmed the teaching that only one God exists. Jesus Christ is the only one who stands between God and us to plead our case. He enables the guilty to be reconciled to God. He has established the terms by which that can happen. God, in His mercy, extends an offer of salvation to every man (1 Timothy 2:4). Christ died for the sins of us all, but the benefits conferred are appropriated only to those who believe. We are saved and then grow in the knowledge of divine truth. That is the means of preventing people from being deceived by false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Job himself yearned for a mediator (Job 9:33), which has been answered in the person of Jesus Christ.

        "who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:6)

        This text emphasizes the universal scope of God's plan of redemption. Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice in order that we might be set free from sin. His atonement has the power to save the entire human race, but only those who receive the gospel by faith are saved. It is correct practice to pray for the conversion of everyone, since Christ died for them. The way of salvation has been provided for us through Him. It is the will of God that the gospel be preached to all men. He took great pains to bring about our redemption. If God were just one amongst many other gods, then He might be concerned only with the salvation of His own followers. But there is only one who exists, so His concern extends to the unbelieving and rebellious world.

        Jesus Christ is our advocate who paid the penalty for our sins. Our debt is not a financial one, but a spiritual one that needed to be settled by Him on the cross. The redeemer figure that Job longed for was ultimately fulfilled in Christ. Job's redeemer represented hope and vindication, yet Christ fills in those roles perfectly. We have greater cause to have hope in light of the gospel. Job's expectation of a redeemer fits with Paul's teaching that Christ voluntarily released us from sin and death. Job's expectation of a redeemer who will "stand at last on the earth" is analogous to the Apostle Paul's saying that Christ's atonement would be "testified in due time" (1 Timothy 2:6). Both Job 19:25 and 1 Timothy 2:5 emphasize God's redemptive plan through a mediator. In Job's context, the redeemer is anticipated. In Paul's context, the theme of a redeemer is fulfilled. Jesus Christ is both our ransom and mediator.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

What is the Jew?

"The Jew is the symbol of eternity...He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity."

Leo Tolstoy, What is the Jew? printed in Jewish World periodical 1908

The Immortal Jew

"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in the twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

Mark Twain, Concerning the Jews, Harper’s Magazine, 1899

Sunday, February 25, 2024

It Is Finished: A Biblical Response To Trent Horn’s Misunderstanding Of Christ’s Atonement

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to refute arguments made by Trent Horn on the nature of Christ's atonement and the meaning of His words on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Following are excerpts from the author along with a critique:

          "The fact that Christ’s death “paid for” or atoned for our sins does not mean that everything is finished regarding our salvation."

          Our justification before God is a done deal. Other aspects of salvation such as sanctification, perseverance, and glorification are ongoing but are guaranteed to be completed. They can therefore be safely spoken of in terms of having already happened. It is for this reason that Hebrews 10:14 speaks of us being perfected once for all.

          "Our Lord himself “did things” for our salvation even after the crucifixion, since the Bible says Christ’s resurrection justifies us. Romans 4:24-25 speaks of “Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” This shows that our justification, and even the act of remitting our sins, was not finished when Jesus said, “It is finished” on the cross."

          Romans 4:24-25 speaks of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead as being proof that God had accepted His payment for our debt of sin. If the resurrection did not happen, then we would have no assurance of being forgiven by God. He did not need the resurrection to happen in order to justify us, but it does show that we can obtain a righteous standing before Him. It also shows that Christ is not a mere man, but God in the flesh. Only He could conquer death.

          "In fact, we have to do something in order to be saved because if Christ paid for all of humanity’s sins, then the difference between who is saved and who is damned can be found only in something the believer does, such as receiving grace through baptism and remaining in communion with Christ until death."

          What distinguishes saved people from the damned is their response to the gospel. Even unsaved people can do things like going to church, partaking in communion, and getting baptized. The one who abides in Christ has been regenerated by the Spirit of God and so does works that are pleasing to Him. We are not given conditions for justification in His sight other than faith. Nowhere is it said that Christ needed to do further works after the cross to ensure our salvation.

          "The lesson is clear: God has atoned or “paid for” all of our sins. But if we refuse to cooperate with God’s grace, then the debt can be reinstated. That’s why Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “If we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment.”

          Hebrews 10:26-27 is a call to faithfulness and repentance. However, grace is not earned through participating in sacraments but is graciously given to us by God apart from anything that we do. It is not like a substance transferred to believers as was taught by medieval theologians but is found in the person of Christ.

          "One prominent interpretation is that Jesus meant that the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah were now fulfilled in his sacrificial death. Read the preceding verses, which describe what happened after Jesus entrusted his mother to the apostle John (John 19:27-28). John 19:28 is the only other place where tetelestai is used in Scripture. When combined with the related word teleiōthē, we see that the context is related to finishing, completing, or fulfilling messianic prophecies of the Old Testament."

          This is true, but incomplete. Jesus was affirming that He had accomplished all that God intended Him to do in His earthly ministry. Christ finished offering up Himself for our sins and paying its penalty. He defeated sin at the cross. It is then that He completed the work of redemption and atonement. Christ's death, burial, and resurrection were certain in the plan of God so they could be referred to as already done when He said, "It is finished."

          "Jesus could also have been referring to the “finishing” of the Last Supper. Scott Hahn proposed this hypothesis in his book The Lamb’s Supper (and in more detail in his 2018 book The Fourth Cup). Hahn notes that Jesus conspicuously did not drink from the fourth cup of the Passover meal. Instead, Jesus refused to drink wine until he came into his kingdom, and then, before dying, he drank sour wine on the cross. Hahn says, “It was the Passover that was now finished. More precisely, it was Jesus’ transformation of the Passover sacrifice of the Old Covenant into the Eucharistic sacrifice of the New Covenant."

          If Jesus Christ not drinking from the fourth cup carries with it any theological significance, then it would be that the Old Covenant is inadequate and we need a newer and a better covenant. We have that in Christ. The context nowhere makes a eucharistic connection with this action of His. This reading of His words is also anachronistic, since the understanding of the communion elements evolved over time. Moreover, different Jewish sects celebrated the Passover meal differently and not all accepted the fourth cup as part of their practice.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Historical Background On The Use Of Altars In The Roman Catholic Church

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic Churches contain stone altars in which the sacrifice of the Mass is conducted by the parish priest. It is maintained that the communion elements are miraculously changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ at the words of consecration. The altar is considered the central aspect of the church building or point of focus for worshipers. It is said to be made holy in the presence of Christ as the bread and wine becomes Him.

         The earliest Christians did not use altars or temples for three centuries. Afterwards, the table at which the communion celebration was held came to be known as an altar. The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following, "According to Radulphus of Oxford (Prop. 25), St. Sixtus II (257-259) was the first to prescribe that Mass should be celebrated on an altar, and the rubric of the missal (XX) is merely a new promulgation of the law."

          Wayne Meeks, in his essay titled Social and Ecclesial Life of the Earliest Christians, notes:

          "Christians had no shrines, temples, cult statues or sacrifices; they staged no public festivals, musical performances or pilgrimages. As far as we know, they set up no identifiable inscriptions. On the other hand, initiation into their cult had social consequences that were more far-reaching than initiation into the cults of familiar gods. It entailed incorporation into a tightly knit community, a resocialisation that demanded (and in many cases actually received) an allegiance replacing bonds of natural kinship, and a submission to one God and one Lord excluding participation in any other cult."

          Christians have no need for altars in their places of worship because they do not perform sacrifices as did the Levitical priests of old. This order of things found its ultimate fulfillment in the atonement sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In contrast with the sacrificial system of Judaism, communion is based on spiritual sustenance and remembering Christ. The earliest Christians, being Jewish converts, would have understood these things. They also would have objected to the Roman Catholic eucharist on the grounds that the Old Testament forbade the consumption of blood, cannibalism, and knew a human body can be located at only one place at a time.

          The earliest Christians did not believe in the doctrine of the real presence in a corporeal sense. They did not view their offerings as making atonement for sin. The mode of receiving Christ was faith as opposed to physically eating Him. The communion elements were not treated as though they were no longer physically bread and wine, but the incarnate Christ Himself. Nevertheless, there is no question that patristic authors took the business of communion very seriously. Hippolytus of Rome, a bishop of the 2nd century, writes these instructions in The Apostolic Tradition

          “But let each of the faithful be zealous, before he eats anything else, to receive the eucharist…let each one take care that no unbeliever taste the eucharist, nor a mouse nor any other animal, and that nothing of it fall or be lost; for the body of Christ is to be eaten by believers and must not be despised. The cup, when thou hast given thanks in the name of the Lord, thou hast accepted as the image of the blood of Christ. Therefore let none of it be spilled, so that no strange spirit may lick it up, as if thou didst despise it; thou shalt be guilty of the blood, as if thou didst scorn the price with which thou hast been bought.”

          He was very much concerned with the purity of worship offered to God. He believed the bread and wine given at communion to be special and worthy of protection, but described the former in terms of being an "image" of Christ's blood. The communion elements communicate to us the reality of Christ's broken body and shed blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. The statement of Hippolytus is representative of the general attitude of Christians toward the communion ritual at that time.
          
          Roman Catholic Scholar Peter J. Riga made this remark about the origin of the altar in Judaism:

          "...They [the Jews] inherited the fundamental notion of the altar as being the meeting place, the "high place," the "sacred heights," from their pagan background. We have already mentioned how much the Jews depended on the common traditions of the Near East, which take us back to the very dawn of recorded history."

          He then goes on to posit this theory as to how such a development began:

          "But these pagan traditions were not accepted as such by the chosen people. Under the divine guidance of divine inspiration they slowly purified their notion of sacrifice and altar."

          The problem with this kind of an explanation is that God Himself nowhere sanctioned the use of pagan objects to worship Him. If the Old Testament gives us any details at all, it would be that He commanded the Jews to destroy altars belonging to outsiders who worshiped foreign gods (Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 12:1-3; Judges 2:2). That in and of itself makes it unlikely God would purify or redeem pagan traditions for His own sake. Jewish altars were unique in character. They were associated with monotheistic worship. They conveyed Jewish morals that other groups would not have shared. Whatever altars the Jews erected for themselves, were reflective of their own religious experiences.

          Just because the Jews had altars in which animals were sacrificed before God, does not mean Christians today need the same in regard to the spiritual sacrifices that they offer to Him. Later Christian converts came not from a Jewish but pagan background. Their understanding of the Old Testament was further removed from its original context. The communion meal evolved over time into a system of sacrifices that mimicked the Jewish system of ongoing bloody animal offerings. The introduction of altars into the Christian church laid the foundation for the development of the unbiblical idea of transubstantiation.