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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Quick Argument In Defense Of The Resurrection

  • Discussion:
          -Consider this passage which is in the context of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ appearing to His disciples from the Gospel of John:

          "and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself." (John 20:7, NKJV)

          The significance of the facial cloth being separated from Christ's burial garments is not known for sure, but the details mentioned in the quoted Scripture do have an interesting apologetic thrust supportive of Him being resurrecting bodily from the grave. 

          If the resurrection story was an elaborate hoax, then why would the handkerchief that once rested on His face be moved and folded neatly in a separate spot of the tomb? Why would thieves waste their time doing such? Why would Jesus waste this much time, if He were an impostor who needed to escape quickly so as to bolster the credibility of some falsehood?

          Surely, this point is problematical for the stories circulated in an attempt to discredit the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Enlightenment Got It Wrong: The West's Debt to Christianity

"It's a rock-solid Western conviction: All men—and women—are created equal. But where does it come from? Well, not the Enlightenment.

Few modern historians have done more to educate the public about the ancient and classical world than Tom Holland. His 2004 book, "Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republisc," won the prestigious Hessell-Tiltman prize, which is awarded to history books of "high literary merit."

Subsequent books about the rise of the Persian Empire and the rise of Islam have received similar accolades. Put simply, when it comes to the ancient world, Holland knows his stuff, and no one doubts it.

That's why it's wise to pay attention to what he has to say about how the coming of Christianity, and in particular the writings of St. Paul, shaped our world.

Writing in the storied British literary and political journal, the New Statesman, Holland told readers how the Christianity of his childhood gave way to an obsession with ancient empires. "When I read the Bible," Holland wrote, "the focus of my fascination was less the children of Israel or Jesus and his disciples than their adversaries: the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Romans."

While he "vaguely continued to believe in God, [Holland] found Him infinitely less charismatic than [his] favourite Olympians: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus."

Like many historians, Edward Gibbons and other Enlightenment writers convinced Holland "that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an 'age of superstition and credulity.' and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values."

At this point his readers were probably thinking, "quite right!" But the story doesn't end there, as suggested by the title of the article, "Why I was wrong about Christianity."

He wrote that, "The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it." Especially its callous disregard for human life. The Spartans, he noted, practiced "a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics." Julius Caesar may have killed a million Gauls and enslaved another million.


It wasn't only the body count, Holland says. It was also "the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value." This led Holland to view the Enlightenment's insistence that it owed nothing to Christianity as not credible.

Let's assume that most people in the post-Christian West still believe "that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering" and that every human life has equal value. We don't get that from the Greeks and Romans.

As Holland notes, it was St. Paul who proclaimed the "foolishness of the Gospel."

It was the honest evaluation of the historical record that led Holland, an agnostic, to write that "In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian."

Here's praying that he becomes Christian in other ways, as well. In the meantime, I'm grateful for this unexpected bit of apologetics. It's a much-needed reminder that even modern criticisms of Christianity are indebted to Christianity itself."

Metaxas/Rivera, “The Enlightenment Got It Wrong: The West's Debt to Christianity,” ChristianPost Online, 8/14/18

Three Important Discernment Questions To Ask In Personal Decision Making

        -Does the action in question have objective, morally good benefits (1 Corinthians 6:12)?

        -Does the action in question glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

        -Is the desired action honorable to God in our flesh (1 Corinthians 6:20)?

        If a person answers "no" to these three discernment questions, then he or she needs to reconsider doing what he or she had planned.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

BioLogos Is An Institution Of Worldly Compromise

"While the existence of theistic evolution is certainly not new, I have been struck by the degree to which it is promoted with evangelistic zeal by Biologos. The goal of this organization is not just that theistic evolution would be viewed as an “allowable” view amongst Christians, but that theistic evolution would be seen as the only viable choice for believing Christians. This trend is evident in the most recent Biologos newsletter which provided a recap of the March 20-22, 2012 Biologos conference entitled Theology of Celebration III (hosted by PCA pastor Tim Keller @ Redeemer NYC).

According to the newsletter, this conference was designed to expose an area of “deep concern” for the church. What is this area of “deep concern”? It is simply this: “That almost half of America’s protestant pastors hold or strongly lean toward a belief in a universe less than 10,000 years.” In other words, the deep concern of this conference is that most evangelicals take the Genesis account as straightforward history and thus reject the billions-of-years-old universe required by evolution. What should be done about this crisis? According to the newsletter, conference participants left with an “urgent desire to bring about change” and a desire that “the church will be impacted.” In essence, Biologos is on a quest to rescue the church from non-theistic evolutionists.

...
Now, I am sure that the church needs to be rescued from many things. But, is this really one of them? This raises the question of what is driving the Biologos crusade to rescue the church from non-theistic evolutionists. What allows them to be so certain that a straightforward reading of Genesis is detrimental to the church? Is their certainty driven by convictions about what the Scripture says? Not so much. The newsletter reveals the grounds for their certainty very plainly. Biologos wants to change the church’s view on this issue because “the church of the coming decades cannot divorce itself from matters about which there is scientific certainty.”

What is stunning about all of this is the absolute, unequivocal, and almost religious certainty Biologos has about evolution. It is absolutely undisputed—it cannot be questioned. Ironically, at the same time, the meaning of the earliest chapters of Genesis is entirely uncertain, unclear, and very much in dispute. It could mean just about anything, we are told (except for straightforward history).

But why is this? Is science immune to subjectivity of interpretation?...

Sadly, the whole “Christianity must acquiesce to the claims of science or lose its credibility” speech is not a new one. This same phenomenon happened in the 18th and 19th centuries regarding the credibility of the miracle accounts in the Gospels.

If one adopts full-blown theistic evolution, then the idea of a historical Adam and Eve from which all humanity descends must be abandoned (Biologos expressly denies that all humanity descended from Adam and Eve). Such a belief, of course, destroys the doctrine of imputation as outlined in Romans 5."

MICHAEL J. KRUGER, Canon Fodder, "Biologos, Theistic Evolution, and Misplaced Confidence".

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Brief Look At The Book Of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)

  • Discussion:
           -Sirach is one of the apocryphal books included in the Roman Catholic Old Testament canon, and is regarded as wisdom literature. It contains a wide variety of sayings, many of which are true. It even echoes themes found in the Book of Proverbs. Other portions of the Book of Sirach, however, teach heterodox doctrine in regards to salvation and atonement. This apocryphal work is not inspired Scripture, as is evidenced by quotations found therein:

           "Kindness to a father will not be forgotten; it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root. In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage, like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins." (Sirach 3:14-15)

           "As water quenches a flaming fire, so almsgiving atones for sins." (Sirach 3:30)

           "Knowledge of the Lord’s commandments is life-giving instruction; those who do what pleases him will harvest the fruit of the tree of immortality." (Sirach 19:19)

           To the contrary, Scripture teaches that justification is attained by the grace of God alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9). Our good works are the product, not the cause, of our salvation. Only the Lord Jesus Christ has the power to make atonement for our infinite sin debt (Hebrews 9:26; 28; 10:10-14; 18). Our righteousness is imperfect. We can be saved only through the blood of Jesus. Only the Son can reconcile us to the Father. Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were merely a temporary covering for sin and all pointed to the once for all sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-2). To claim that we can merit our salvation even in part by our good works is a false gospel.

           Other erroneous teachings found in the apocryphal Book of Sirach are presented as follows:

           "No good ever comes to a person who gives comfort to the wicked; it is not a righteous act. Give to religious people, but don't help sinners. Do good to humble people, but don't give anything to those who are not devout. Don't give them food, or they will use your kindness against you. Every good thing you do for such people will bring you twice as much trouble in return. The Most High himself hates sinners, and he will punish them. Give to good people, but do not help sinners." (Sirach 12:3-7, Good News Translation)

           This passage contradicts the very essence of Christ's character and message (Matthew 11:28-30). We ought to love our enemies as ourselves, and pray for those who persecute us. It needs to be recognized that we all have stumbled at some point because of our fallen nature. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

           "If you bring a stranger home with you, it will only cause trouble, even between you and your own family." (Sirach 11:34, Good News Translation)

            In the Old Testament, God commanded that His nation Israel share a portion of crops with the needy (Leviticus 23:22), and that His chosen people treat foreign residents with great respect (Leviticus 19:33-34). A quality of a Christian is willingness to show hospitality to strangers (Matthew 25:41-46).

            "Do not hesitate to visit the sick. You will be loved for things like these." (Sirach 7:35, Good News Translation)

            It sounds as if the author is encouraging readers to do good works to be seen of men, a state of heart that Christ condemned when addressing the Scribes and Pharisees.             

           "My child, don't live the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg." (Sirach 40:28, Good News Translation)

            These words sound rather lofty and arrogant. What about the example of Lazarus who ended up entering into Abraham's bosom upon death?

            So, it appears that the Roman Catholic Church is in error for including the Book of Sirach in its canon of Scripture. This apocryphal work may contain edifying material, but it teaches doctrinal error at the same time.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Dangers Of Anti-Intellectualism

  • Discussion:
          -In utter contrast to rationalism, anti-intellectualism is complete distrust in human reason. It is absolute disregard for our intellectual capacity. Anti-intellectualism is one of two extreme philosophical positions that Christians must not embrace, with the opposite being rationalism. The purpose of this article is to show the fundamental errors of anti-intellectualism.

          Scripture teaches that although our mind is a gift of God, it is limited due to inheriting a sin nature from the fall. It needs to be guided by His divine revelation and grace. God is rational. God has intellect. He has created the universe in an orderly fashion (Romans 1:18-20). We are made in His image and His likeness (Genesis 1:26). Therefore, to be anti-intellectual means failing to show appreciation for the abilities that God has given us.

         God cares more by an infinite margin about us having a genuine relationship with Him than about the number of college degrees that we may obtain in this life. God actually wants our hearts. He wants to renew our minds. However, an anti-intellectual attitude is not an acceptable approach to the Christian life. Hosea 4:6 says that the people of God are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. The Apostle Paul told his audience to not be children in understanding but wise and examples of purity (1 Corinthians 14:20). God gave us a mind, and it is our mind by which we learn new concepts.

          Ignorance is a very dangerous thing--toddlers get their fingers burnt when they touch a hot stove as a result of their uninformed curiosity. We should know and understand our worldview, which is the means by which we interpret the things around us.

          If literally everybody were to stop seeking higher levels of education, then that would inevitably collapse our economy because nobody would be competent to work the jobs that require obtaining those more advanced skills. This demonstrates an anti-intellectual worldview to not be workable.

          If a person has this much distrust in scholarship, and takes that level of skepticism to a logically consistent end, then he or she will inevitably be led to agnosticism. Nothing can be known for sure.

The Fatal Flaw Of Papal Infallibility

"...there is one problem: nobody knows when the Pope is speaking infallibly, nobody knows how often a pope has spoken infallibly, and nobody knows what the criteria are for when a pope is speaking infallibly.

...different Roman Catholic apologists believe differently about how many times a Pope has spoken infallibly...there is no “official” list of criteria with which it may be determined that a papal statement is infallible....Roman apologists do not even agree on the occasions that would induce a Pope to exercise the charism of infallibility...All they know is that he has it."

Timothy F. Kauffman, White Horse Blog, "INFALLIBILITY’S FATAL FLAW"

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Terms “Latria” And “Hyperdulia” Create A Distinction Without A Difference

"Dulia, a Greek word signifying honor and veneration, is reserved for the saints. Latria, the Greek word for worship, is reserved for God. Between Dulia and Latria, there exists a form of veneration that is reserved for Mary alone, and that veneration is called Hyperdulia, or literally “hyperveneration.” According to the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia, hyperveneration is reserved for “the Blessed Virgin.” It ought to be sufficient, therefore, for Roman Catholics to dismiss all criticism by offering up these three terms. “We don’t worship Mary,” they should say. “We merely hypervenerate her. It is more than the dulia we give to the other saints, but it is less than latria, which is of course reserved for God alone. We are very good at maintaining the distinctions between them.”

What makes such a response implausible is that English translations of papal statements on Mary use the word “worship” where hyperveneration ought to have been used. For example, Pius XII’s papal encyclical, Fulgens Corona, uses “worship” repeatedly to describe Roman Catholic veneration of Mary:

“…there is nothing ‘more sweet, nothing dearer than toworship, venerate, invoke and praise with ardent affection the Mother of God conceived without stain of original sin.’ … But where—as is the case in almost all dioceses, there exists a church in which the Virgin Mother of God isworshipped with more intense devotion, thither on stated days let pilgrims flock together in great numbers and publicly and in the open give glorious expression to their common Faith and their common love toward the Virgin Most Holy. … But let this holy city of Rome be the first to give the example, this city which from the earliest Christian era worshipped the heavenly mother, its patroness, with a special devotion.” (Pius XII, Fulgens Corona, September 8, 1953, paragraphs 18, 33 & 34)

To get to the bottom of Rome’s veneration, we really ought to look at the Latin version of the text, and the Latin version uses various conjugations of the infinitive colere, “to worship”:

“…dulcius, nihil carius, quam ferventissimo affectu Deiparam Virginem absque labe originali conceptam ubique colere, venerari, invocare et praedicare … Ubi vero — quod in omnibus fere Dioecesibus contingit — sacrum exstat templum, in quo Deipara Virgo impensiore pietate colitur, illuc statis per annum diebus…. Omnium autem in exemplum praecedat haec alma Urbs, quae inde ab antiquissima christiani nominis aetate caelestem Matrem ac Patronam suam peculiari religione coluit.”

Roman Catholic apologists may object to us rendering colere as “worship,” but we remind them that this is their translation, not ours. If it is hyperveneration that is intended by colere, then the translators at the Vatican, whose primary language is presumably Latin, ought to know better. Perhaps the Latin Vulgate can be of some help. At Exodus 20:5, when forbidding idolatry, the Vulgateimplores us, “Non adorabis ea neque coles,” that is, “Thou shalt not adore [false gods], nor serve them,” thus distinguishing between “adoration” and “service.” But this does not help, for coles is just as forbidden as adorabis in Exodus 20:5, and what is forbidden there is what Pius XII apparently prescribed to his flock."

Timothy F. Kauffman, White Horse Blog, "WE DON’T WORSHIP* MARY” PART 1"

The Romans Chapter One Dilemma

Our culture as a whole has become remarkably similar to the description of a reprobate mind that the Apostle Paul provided in his inspired epistle to the Romans with the progression of time. If the moral foundation of our nation continues to deteriorate, it will soon resemble that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Multitudes of people in our depraved world remorselessly mock and scoff at the Lord Jesus Christ and His precious gospel. The flood of falsehood that rampages brutally throughout Christianity has quickly swept away those who are not well grounded in the faith. The waves of compromise mercilessly swallow up people who have itching ears and lack fear of God. He will not tolerate all this testing. His wrath is no doubt being stored up for Judgement Day.

Just a cursory glance at our modern society vindicates the point that God is handing the unrepentant and unbelieving people over to their own sinful desires. For instance, compare the popular music being played on the radio today to the music that was popular thirty to forty years ago. Neither are being endorsed here. But the lyrics of modern songs are even more so sexually explicit. Foul language is promoted much more frequently on the television and even amongst professionals. Women's attire reveals more cleavage. A greater number of adult children are placing their parents into nursing homes. Family members oftentimes utilize vulgar language in dialogues with each other. Where is love and moral uprightness these days?

The current overall spiritual state of the Christian church is deplorable, as well. Individual congregations amongst various denominations have substituted worshiping God on His terms with worldly entertainment. Our worship gatherings look a lot more like concerts or function halls than humble times of worshiping God and in depth expository preaching. Entire churches have embraced worldly lifestyles. The sin of homosexuality is celebrated amongst professing Christians. There are women pastors preaching from the pulpits. Our worship services have become man-centered and feelings oriented. We have become seeker-sensitive. Pastors are evaluated based on their appearance and how well they preach their sermons, not in accordance with sound doctrine.

Certainly, no other age of apostasy can be considered a fair standard of comparison to this one of our modern age. The love of many in our culture has grown cold. Truth is no longer sought after, and the Bible is viewed by those who claim to love God as not being germane to life. People no longer fear God. Natural desires are being exchanged for unnatural desires. Few actually care about having good morals. People are proud. People are boastful. Abortion is defended as all costs. The new atheists boldly announce their hatred of God. This could all be elaborated in much greater detail, but the point has been established: our culture is saturated in wickedness.

If one adheres to the description of truth as being unchanging and unchangeable, and recognizes the constant moral degradation of human civilization, then he or she will have no choice but to conclude, that something is obviously wrong. It would be wise to ponder the inspired words that Paul once penned in Romans 1:25-32. We need to humble ourselves and approach God in heartfelt repentance. May the Holy Spirit strengthen His faithful remnant in this earthquake of deception. The Lord Jesus Christ is returning soon.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Connections Between Homosexuality And Pedophilia

"The most comprehensive gay networking website, the Queer Resource Directory (www.qrd.org), links every gay group in the country including NAMBLA [the North American Man-Boy Love Association] and other homosexual groups that focus on youth. NAMBLA marches in gay pride parades with the consent of the gay leadership. Many of the homosexual movement’s most prominent leaders endorse NAMBLA and its goals. Gay authors and leaders such as Allen Ginsberg, Gayle Rubin, Larry Kramer (founder of ACT-UP), Pat Califia, Jane Rule, Michael Kearns, and Michel Foucault have all written in favor of either NAMBLA or man-boy relationships. Harry Hay, whom many consider the founder of the American homosexual movement, invited NAMBLA members to march with him in the 1993 "March on Washington" gay rights parade. He also marched in the 1986 Los Angeles gay parade wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words "NAMBLA walks with me."

Leading mainstream homosexual newspapers and magazines such as the Advocate, Edge, Metroline, The Guide, and The San Francisco Sentinel have not only published pro-NAMBLA articles and columns but also many have editorialized in favor of NAMBLA and sex with children. The editor of The Guide, Ed Hougen, stated in an interview with Lambda Report, "I believe they [NAMBLA] are generally interested in the right of young people to be sexual . . . . I am glad there is a group like NAMBLA that is willing to be courageous." The San Francisco Sentinel was more blunt: "NAMBLA’s position on sex is not unreasonable, just unpopular. [W]hen a 14 year old gay boy approaches a man for sex, it’s because he wants sex with a man."

There is also the matter of NAMBLA’s membership status in the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), recognized at one time by the United Nations as the official Non-Government Organization (NGO) representing the gay community worldwide. When NAMBLA’s ILGA membership became public, a whirlwind of international controversy erupted. Some gay leaders viewed this attention as harmful to the gay movement’s image and goals and urged the expulsion of NAMBLA for purely political purposes.

However, the media failed to report that ILGA itself had hosted workshops on pedophilia and passed resolutions in 1985, 1988, and 1990 to abolish age of consent laws claiming that "same sex age of consent laws often operate to oppress and not to protect" and supported "the right of every individual, regardless of age, to explore and develop her or his sexuality."

Eventually, reacting to congressional legislation threatening the reduction of $119 million in financial support, the United Nations kicked out ILGA in 1995 for refusing to sever ties with a half dozen member groups that advocated or promoted pedophilia. Revealingly, even though ILGA did expel NAMBLA (many say it was for show), it could not muster enough support among its membership to expel other more powerful and discreet pro-pedophile organizations from Germany and other countries. It is extremely revealing that the majority of members of the world’s leading homosexual coalition, the ILGA, decided they would rather be excluded from UN deliberations than vote out groups that advocate sex with children.

...[O]ver the last fifteen years the homosexual community and its academic allies have published a large quantity of articles that claim sex with children is not harmful to children but, as stated in one homosexual journal, "constitute an aspect of gay and lesbian life." Such articles have appeared in pro-homosexual academic journals such as The Journal of Homosexuality, The Journal of Sex Research, Archives of Sexual Behavior, and The International Journal of Medicine and Law. The editorial board of the leading pedophile academic journal, Paidika, is dominated by prominent homosexual scholars such as San Francisco State University professor John DeCecco, who happens to edit the Journal of Homosexuality.

Indeed, the Journal of Homosexuality is the premier academic journal of the mainstream homosexual world and yet it published [in 1990] a special double issue entitled, Male Intergenerational Intimacy, containing dozens of articles portraying sex between men and minor boys as loving relationships. One article states that parents should view the pedophile who loves their son "not as a rival or competitor, not as a theft of their property, but as a partner in the boy’s upbringing, someone to be welcomed into their home." . . .

A 1995 content analysis by Dr. Judith Reisman of the Institute for Media Education, focusing on advertisements in the nation’s most influential homosexual newspaper, The Advocate, reveals that 63% of the personal ads sought or offered prostitution. Many of them openly solicit boys. The Advocatealso advertises a "Penetrable Boy Doll . . . available in 3 provocative positions." Reisman found that the number of erotic boy images per issue of TheAdvocate averaged fourteen. . . .

Indeed, NAMBLA and other pro-pedophile literature can be found wherever homosexuals congregate (homosexual bookstores, bathhouses, festivals, gay bars, etc.) [examples follow] . . . .

The most popular gay fiction books on the market today are rich with idyllic accounts of intergenerational relationships according to writer Philip Guichard in a Village Voice article. Doubleday published a book in 1998, The Gay Canon: Great Books Every Gay Man Should Read, which recommends numerous works that portray sex with boys in a positive manner. The Border bookstore chain sells a book, A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition, which includes a chapter devoted to the history of pro-pedophile literature as an indisputable part of homosexual literary history [examples follow] . . . .

"Mainstream" homosexual conferences commonly feature speeches about intergenerational sex as it is now called. For example, at one of the nation’s largest homosexual gatherings, the annual National Gay Lesbian Task Force convention, featured a workshop at its 2001 confab entitled, Your Eyes Say Yes But the Law Says No, which included a speech by an S&M activist about laws affecting intergenerational sex. The convention also featured another workshop entitled Drag 101: How to Turn Kids in Make-up into Kings and Queens.

Pick up any gay newspaper or gay travel publication and one finds ads for sex tours to Burma, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other countries infamous for boy prostitution. . . . The most popular travel guide for homosexuals, Spartacus Gay Guides, is replete with information about where to find boys for sex and, as a friendly warning, lists penalties in various countries for sodomy with boys if caught. . . .

Homosexual Internet sites are no different. A quick search using the words "gay" and "boys" easily locates thousands of homosexual sites that promote sex with young boys and/or contain child pornography. Indeed, it is the mainstream homosexual groups who filed suit to block Virginia Legislation, passed in 2001, restricting Internet use that proves harmful to children (such as chat rooms commonly used by pedophiles to find victims)….

The Holy Grail of the pedophile movement is the lowering or elimination of all age of consent laws. The main warriors in this political and legal battle are "mainstream" homosexual groups [examples follow]..."

Steve Baldwin, "Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement", cited by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., "Immoralism, Homosexual Unhealth, and Scripture A Response to Peterson and Hedlund’s “Heterosexism, Homosexual Health, and the Church” Part II: Science: Causation and Psychopathology, Promiscuity, Pedophilia, and Sexually Transmitted Disease", Section IV.