Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Luke 22:32 Does Not Support Papal Supremacy

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic Church interprets Luke 22:32, where the Lord Jesus Christ prayed that the Apostle Peter's faith failed not and for him to strengthen the faith of the other disciples, to be a promise that Peter would be preserved from error in doctrinal matters. In other words, the Church of Rome uses this Bible verse to support the doctrine of papal infallibility.
  • Refutation Of Papal Argument From Luke 22:32:
          1.) It is true that the devil wishes to destroy the church of God. And yes, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed that the Apostle Peter would not cease to remain faithful and to be a source of strength for the other disciples. But this was only done because Christ knew that Peter was going to deny him three times (v. 33-34). Consequently, the Lord wanted him to be restored and forgiven for his miserable failure to stand up for the truth of the gospel (v. 31-32). Now this, of course, would certainly be a very encouraging message for the other apostles to learn. Luke 22:32 is speaking of the time when authentic conversion of heart takes place, that is, when the Apostle Peter repents of his errors. Quite simply, this text is about Peter's faults, not about receiving praise, rewards, or being promoted to a position of supremacy. This passage of Scripture is about the unfathomable love, kindness, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Roman Catholic apologists are altogether missing the point of Luke 22:32 when they cite it as a Papal proof-text. They totally distort the meaning of this Bible verse by emphasizing a meaning that is contrary to what it is actually saying.
          2.) To formulate an argument for the authority of the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of Luke 22:32 is absolutely nonsensical, for the previous context of the passage being addressed here contains events that are injurious to modern-day claims of Peter being appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as the prince of the apostles. Most notably, the disciples had a dispute among themselves as to who would be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:24-27). In fact, Christ said that all twelve apostles were going to be seated on twelve thrones (Luke 22:29-30). There is nothing in the context of Luke 22 even suggesting that the Apostle Peter would be singled out for the reason of being a recipient of special honor. But if the fact that Jesus Christ isolated the Apostle Peter for this important exhortation has any logical significance for the establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, then how would it explain the incident where the same apostle was individually rebuked by Christ and called "Satan" (Matthew 16:23)? The truth of the matter is that a purpose of all church leaders is to "strengthen the brethren". And one does not need to possess the gift of infallibility to fulfill this duty.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

John 21:15-17 Does Not Support Papal Supremacy

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic Church interprets the words of our Lord Jesus Christ ("feed my sheep") which were directed specifically to the Apostle Peter, as recorded in John 21:15-17, to mean that he was given an exclusive position of primacy to care for the household of God, the church. In other words, the Vatican maintains that Christ conferred to Peter a distinctive, greater position of episcopal authority which he allegedly passed on to the Roman bishops of future generations. The text of John 21:15-17 has been used by Roman Catholicism to corroborate the notion that the pope has been appointed by Jesus Christ to serve in the office of "Chief Shepherd".
  • Refutation Of Papal Argument From John 21:15-17:
          -All leaders of the church have been commissioned by the apostles to care for the church of God (Acts 20:28). So the Apostle Peter was not the only one who was obligated to nourish the "flock". Thus, the text of John 21:15-17 does not guarantee a unique position of supremacy to Peter. Furthermore, the Apostle Peter himself forbade people from becoming lords over God's heritage (1 Peter 5:1-5). In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ identified Himself as being the "Chief Shepherd" (John 10:10-16). The Apostle Peter himself called Christ the "Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" (1 Peter 2:25). According to the Bible, Jesus is the "Great Shepherd" (Hebrews 13:20), which excludes the Bishop of Rome. Not only is there one Shepherd over the household of God, but Scripture also never records Christ reserving His title for Peter or him being addressed by that title. This passage from the Gospel of John is not about inheriting a position of "special primacy". John 21:15-17 was simply a threefold confession of faith articulated by Peter for the three times that he denied knowing our Lord Jesus Christ (i.e. Matthew 26:33-34). Although we know from the pages of the New Testament that the Apostle Peter wielded historical salvation prominence, we have no biblical evidence suggesting that he was given a position of supremacy over the church.

The Early Church Fathers On "Upon This Rock" (Matthew 16:18)

  • Introduction:
          -The modern Church of Rome parades its serious misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18-19 as though this isolated verse conclusively proves the validity of its claims to ruling over Christendom. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church maintains that it is built on the Apostle Peter as its foundation and any spiritual gifts that our Lord Jesus Christ may have bestowed on him was passed on to succeeding popes of future generations. Thus, we see the reason that Rome's adherents fight so vigorously to protect their understanding of the meaning of the "rock" as documented in Matthew 16:18-19. These claims are pivotal for the substantiation of the authoritative claims of Romanism. On the contrary, the extra-biblical writings of the most primitive Christians are strangely silent about any universal jurisdiction of the Roman Bishop or a complex church hierarchy. In fact, the Church Fathers were not even unanimous on the correct interpretation of the "rock" metaphor found in Matthew 16:18:
           “It may jolt them to hear that the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between it and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter. One after another they analyse it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys. This is staggering to Catholics...The surprises do not stop there. For the Fathers, it is Peter’s faith — or the Lord in whom Peter has faith —which is called the Rock, not Peter.” (“Vicars of Christ, The Dark Side of the Papacy”, Poolbeg Press, Copyright 2000, p. 24)
  • The Above Quotation Tells Us That:
          A.) The Church Fathers were not unanimous in their interpretation of the "rock" of Matthew 16:18. In other words, most of them did not support the modern-day Roman Catholic interpretation of the passage from the Gospel of Matthew. This is true, even of the few who believed that Peter was indeed the rock. As Roman Catholic archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick once said, “If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that by the rock should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.” (Speech of archbishop Kenkick, p. 109; An inside view of the Vatican council, edited by Leonard Woolsey Bacon)
          B.) The most primitive Christians did not refer to the Roman bishop as the "rock of the church" or apply the privilege of "binding and loosing" exclusively to the Roman bishop. 
  • Patristic Evidence:
          A.) Basil of Seleucia, Oratio 25:
                "You are Christ, Son of the living God.'...Now Christ called this confession a rock, and he named the one who confessed it 'Peter,' perceiving the appellation which was suitable to the author of this confession. For this is the solemn rock of religion, this the basis of salvation, this the wall of faith and the foundation of truth: 'For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.' To whom be glory and power forever." (Oratio XXV.4, M.P.G., Vol. 85, Col. 296-297)
           B.) Cyril of Alexandria:
                 "When [Peter] wisely and blamelessly confessed his faith to Jesus saying, 'You are Christ, Son of the living God,' Jesus said to divine Peter: 'You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.' Now by the word 'rock', Jesus indicated, I think, the immovable faith of the disciple.” (Cyril Commentary on Isaiah 4.2)
           C.) Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII):
                 “For all bear the surname ‘rock’ who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters.” (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII), sect. 10,11)
           D.) Augustine, sermon:
                 "Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter's confession. What is Peter's confession? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' There's the rock for you, there's the foundation, there's where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer." (John Rotelle, O.S.A., Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, © 1993 New City Press, Sermons, Vol III/6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327)

           E.) Bede:
                 "You are Peter and on this rock from which you have taken your name, that is, on myself, I will build my Church, upon that perfection of faith which you confessed I will build my Church by whose society of confession should anyone deviate although in himself he seems to do great things he does not belong to the building of my Church...Metaphorically it is said to him on this rock, that is, the Saviour which you confessed, the Church is to be built, who granted participation to the faithful confessor of his name." (Homily 23, M.P.L., Vol. 94, Col. 260. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #204, p. 156.)
           F.) Cassiodorus:
                 "It will not be moved is said about the Church to which alone that promise has been given: 'You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.' For the Church cannot be moved because it is known to have been founded on that most solid rock, namely, Christ the Lord." (Expositions in the Psalms, Psalm 45.5, M.P.L., Vol. 70, Col. 330)
  • What Is Very Telling Is That Even The Roman Catholic Catechism Leaves Room For The Interpretation Of The Rock Found In Matthew 16 To Be A Reference To The Apostle Peter's Confession Of Faith:
           "Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God.' On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built His Church." (CCC# 424)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Christian Analysis Of Stress

       Anxiety, which can negatively impact us physically or psychologically, can occur during the times that we feel burdened, pressured, and secluded. In other words, we suffer these troubling, worrisome feelings when we encounter predicaments that develop by reason of mental or external environmental sources. These difficult circumstances commonly happen as a result of poor decision making, materialism, and trauma. Anxiety can have a serious toll on our jobs, education, health, and relationships. Not only can anxiety make the individual involved feel altogether hopeless about life, but it can also impair the ability to think rationally. Though stress is indeed a normal reaction of the human mind, there are different degrees of stress and personal responses may vary. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to prevent stressors and cope with them as they arise.

       Before discussing how to deal with stress, it is important to note that there exists two different stress reactions. The first type of reaction is called a "processive stressor", which can either trigger our minds to attack or flea from a source of stress. The second type of reaction is called a "systematic stressor", which constitutes the body's genetically programmed responses to stress. However, there are two decisions that we can make when we are confronted by anxiety. We can either allow stress to dominate every facet of our lives or we can choose to conquer it. We can successfully overthrow the feelings of stress through the divine power and grace of God.

       A crucial step to avoiding and dealing with stressors is to become organized, for having everything set into place allows a person to perceive things more clearly. In other words, a person who has all things correctly put in order has better judgment and thus has a better ability to resolve and even circumvent stressors. But how does a person establish a basis for being organized? First of all, the foundational move to all problem solving is to admit the existence of a problem. The next important step would be to learn how or when to emphatically say no. Not only is this resistance vital for developing will power, but it also hinders one from becoming over-committed. Then, it would be highly advisable to make lists, learn how to prioritize, learn how to manage time, and consult people who have the knowledge and resources necessary for dealing with issues that provoke stress. But the ultimate step in dealing with anxiety is to always trust in God.

       Many people in this world end up enduring excessive fretfulness due to not placing their trust in the Lord to provide them with all basic necessities. In other words, people suffer from unnecessary unhappiness simply because they are concerned about fulfilling an endless demand of needs or all their attention is consumed on worldly standards of popularity. We tend to feel over-burdened because we attempt to use our finite abilities and rely on our finite understanding of the world to fulfill duties that require an infinite source of ability and understanding, which can only be found in God. But we need not have stress, for God will give us the strength that we need to make it through the things that trouble us in our daily lives (Psalm 34:4; Matthew 6:25-27; John 14:27). All that we need to do is trust in Him, for that is how we obtain favor in the eyes of God. Furthermore, we reap spiritual benefits through the performance of good deeds. We need to continually seek Him daily through prayer and supplication in gratitude for His great magnanimity (Philippians 4:6-7).

       Of course, nothing about submission to the Lord guarantees a simple or a care-free life. Trusting in the Lord means that because His Son Jesus Christ made the final, perfect atonement sacrifice for sin, that we have access to the Father's divine grace. It means that we have contact with divine assistance, for Christ is our direct channel to God through prayer. Without the Lord Jesus Christ, we are unable to accomplish anything. Only through Christ are things possible. Only through Him are things bearable. While it is true that we are merely imperfect human beings who can capitulate to the struggles of our earthly lives, we can manage stress in all its forms through the Lord Jesus Christ who cloths us in His sufficient grace. In fact, He can even mitigate or terminate our moments of stress when we turn to Him. God cannot and will never fail to sustain us.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Addressing Objections To The Holy Trinity

  • Introduction:
          -A major characteristic of many, if not most, false religions is that they tend to oppose the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. In other words, people who are of this world are detractors of Christ's divine kingship. At best, He is usually reputed to be a "lesser god". For example, the Unitarians believe that Christ was simply a morally sound teacher. But these beliefs terribly misrepresent the true, scriptural version of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His divine nature was equal to that of the Father's (John 1:1-3; 5:18; 10:30-33; 19:7). Thus this article strives to briefly examine some of the basic objections to the historic Christian position regarding Jesus Christ's nature and authority:
             1.) Many people reject the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ because of His statement regarding His lack of knowledge regarding the day and hour (Mark 13:32). This is used to deny that He is all-knowing. However, this objection does not hold any water because He was speaking from the aspect of His human nature. He was thus not speaking concerning His divine nature. Christ in His divine nature knows everything (Luke 5:4-6; John 21:15-17).
             2.) Others object to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ on the basis that He prayed to God the Father. But this argument is fallacious because it fails to recognize the two separate natures of Jesus Christ: human and divine (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:17). He prayed to the Creator in the state of His humanity, which is something that we humans should be doing. This action was appropriate and thus does not diminish Christ's intrinsic divinity.
             3.) Some believe that Jesus Christ is lesser than God the Father in terms of authority because the Scripture calls Him the "Son of God" (i.e. John 3:16). On the contrary, this title only lends credence to the divinity of Christ, since it means having the same essence as God (John 5:18; 10:35-36; 19:7). In other words, both are equal in the sense that they possess the same divine authority. Since the Lord Jesus Christ became a servant by taking on the form of a man, He is positionally lower than God the Father.
  • For More Information On The Doctrine Of The Trinity, See The Following Article:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Brief Case For The Deity Of The Holy Spirit

  • Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to prove that the Holy Spirit is God. He shares many of the same attributes as the Father. Consider, for example that:
           1.) He is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-9).
           2.) He is all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
           3.) He is all-powerful (Romans 15:19).
           4.) He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14).

A Few Scripture Passages That Directly State That Jesus Christ Is God

  • "that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 1:12)
  • "Symeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of equal value to ours through the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:1)
  • "We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)