Saturday, June 15, 2019

Christians And Persecution

"He [John Stott] says, “The first group escapes persecution by withdrawing from the world, the second group by becoming assimilated to the world.” It is just that simple. But God does not call us to either of those two extremes. Instead, he calls us to be salt and light, to plant ourselves in the midst of a watching world and, right there, to live very different lives. Some will see, and hear, and be persuaded. Many more will see, be convicted, and persecute. But as Christians we simply need to expect it: Persecution comes to those who are faithful."

Friday, June 14, 2019

A Few Comments On The Roman Catholic Misuse Of Matthew 16:18 And "Peter The Rock"

  • Discussion:
           -A few years back, I had written a detailed article addressing the Roman Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19, explaining how viewing the Apostle Peter as the rock in that text is problematic. The identity of that reference most likely refers to the his confession of faith. Well, this short article contains another counterargument that may be useful when discussing this matter with Roman Catholics:

           "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many." (Isaiah 51:1-2)

           The Old Testament once used a rock metaphor to describe Abraham. Does that mean the man was the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church? Another point worthy of consideration is how the Good News Bible renders Matthew 16:18:

           "And so I tell you, Peter; you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Punching Holes In A King James Only Conspiracy Narrative

One quibble that we regularly hear from King James Version only advocates is that the Roman Catholic Church has produced corrupt Bible translations in an effort to discredit that particular archaic translation and gradually convert unsuspecting people.

A few examples of Scripture passages that have supposedly been removed from our modern Bible versions would include Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11. This theory leaves us with a nagging question, however. If the Roman Catholic Church was involved in some conspiracy to undermine the authority of the King James Bible, then why does that hierarchy 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 Church of Rome for distribution and edification in faith. Also, 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 as examples to demonstrate how scholars for the pope want to destroy the credibility of the King James Version.

         Hmm, it would definitely seem counterproductive for scholars who have malicious motives to outrightly affirm the texts that they are attacking to be divine revelation. That stretches credibility. A much more reasonable and truthful explanation for bracketed texts in modern translations is the reporting of manuscript findings.

         While none of this material is meant to excuse Roman Catholicism for any theological error, the fact remains that we must be responsible and mature when expressing disagreement. There are bonafide conspiracies, as well as elaborate myths, both of which merit exposure. But the claim that the Roman Catholic Church has produced counterfeit translations for the express purpose of undermining the authority of the King James Bible does not hold water.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Commentary On Pastor Steven Anderson And His Deplorable Preaching Methodology

I just finished watching the first segment of Steven Anderson's review of Dr. James White's book titled the King James Only Controversy, but do not intend on watching the entire series as it is nothing but radical propaganda.

Let it be said that the arguments given by the critic overall lack consistency and require that one abandons common sense.

The final standard by which all translations of the Bible should be evaluated is the oldest manuscripts available. We do not have the original autographs, and the Bible was not originally written in English.

        The speaker in the video is an obvious anti-intellectual. He does nothing whatsoever to negate the validity of the circular reasoning charge, but instead makes a fool of himself. Steven Anderson condemns other Christians by using an extra-biblical standard (i.e. King James onlyism), which constitutes a doctrinal contradiction because he also professes to believe in the formal sufficiency of Scripture. 

        Faith in God and His Word is not based on circular reasoning as the speaker in the video asserts. In other words, there are multiple lines of evidence to support the veracity of Christian claims. There are various philosophical arguments for the existence of God. There is fulfilled prophecy. There is consistency with world history. There are archaeological discoveries. There is a wealth of manuscript evidence for the New Testament.

        Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles performed miracles in order to validate their ministry, which was in accordance with Scripture. Jesus even stumped His critics in posing difficult questions. The Apostle Paul said that God's existence is confirmed by observing nature (Romans 1:20). Thus, we clearly see that biblical Christianity has never advocated for blind faith.

        Most of the heresies that we witness today originated in the early church. There are different variations of false teachings from the early days of Christianity in our modern age. In other words, they existed long before the production of the King James Version. So the issue is not translations such as the New American Standard or the English Standard Version. The primary issue is that people misuse Scripture to fit their already preconceived ideas.

        The 1984 publication of the New International Version is sound. Later editions of that translation have the problem of gender-inclusive language. Anyway, see this article for more information on the King James Only Movement:

        Finally, I want to point out that Pastor Steven Anderson is a false teacher. He opposes the necessity of repentance, Christ's Lordship, and believes that homosexuals (along with others) should be put to death. He has vitriolic sermons that are simply hate speech, which is a sign of not being led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This pastor does not have any grace and compassion for sinners. This pastor is a self-righteous legalist. If we all at this very moment consistently subjected ourselves to the Law, then we would all be dead because we have all sinned against a holy God. Nonetheless, the biblical gospel is a call to spiritual conversion (Luke 13:1-3).

        If you are one who has a preference for the King James Version, then my word of advice to you would be to stick with it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

How Christ’s Incarnation Differs From The Hindu Idea Of Avatar

Jesus Christ’s life, death, and miraculous resurrection are events rooted in history. Whereas the lives of the Hindu holy men are enveloped in mythology.

As an Eastern mystical religion, Hinduism does not emphasize chronology. And modern-day Hindus show little interest in the “historical” Krishna the way contemporary Christians inquire about the historicity of Jesus.

Scholar and Krishna devotee Mataji Devi Vanamali explains:

“Hinduism is not a historical religion. If somebody were to prove conclusively that Krishna, Rama, and the various gods of the Hindu pantheon never existed, most Hindus would not mind in the least, and the religion would continue to flourish as it has done for so many centuries. However, to the devotees of Krishna, he is as real as any of their friends or relatives or children, depending on how they regard him—as friend, relation, child, or lover. This being so, most Indians have not bothered to verify his existence.”1

Thus a major difference between Jesus Christ and the Hindu holy men (including Krishna) relates to history and the question of historical verification.

1. Vanamali, The Complete Life of Krishna: Based on the Earliest Oral Traditions and Sacred Scriptures (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2012), xiii-xiv.

Kenneth Samples, cited by Ken Temple

Monday, June 10, 2019

"We Are All His Offspring"

"[Acts] 17:28 The quotations are from two Greek poets, Epimenides (cf. Tts 1:12 note) and Aratus. The wise Greeks sensed the presence and working of God, yet did not turn from their idols to respond to Him with thanks and praise. (Ro 1:21)"

Martin Franzmann, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on Acts], p. 115

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Law Of Retaliation And The New Covenant

"[Matthew] 5:38-42 The new righteousness exemplified by the law of retaliation (Ex 21:24; Lv 24:20; Dt 19:21). The Law cannot remove the desire for vengeance from man's heart; it can only, as it were, regulate revenge, setting a limit to it (eye for an eye). Jesus removes the impulse of revenge from His disciples' hearts and bids them live, as He Himself lived, in a love that recklessly exposes itself to the lovelessness of the world and the need of men.

[Matthew] 5:43-48 The new righteousness exemplified by the law of love. The Law enjoined love for the neighbor; legalism (the attempt to find favor with God and to stand in His judgement by way of works of the Law) raised the question, "Who is my neighbor?" (Lk 10:29) and sought to limit the imperative of love by finding scope for lovelessness and hate. Jesus removes every limitation from the law of love by enjoining love for the enemy. The highest "righteousness" is love. Jesus went this way of love for before His disciples and for them; He joined Himself, in love, to men under the wrath of God when He was baptized; He loved the enemy in order to "fulfill all righteousness" (3:15). That way of love took Him to the cross, "so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Co 5:21)"

Martin Franzmann, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on Matthew], p. 20

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Bad Catholic Apologetics On Luke 16:19-31 And Purgatory

  • Discussion:
          -This article is a rebuttal to a Roman Catholic commentary that attempts to justify the dogma of purgatory in light of difficult implications plainly set forth by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Only a small portion of that post will be consulted in this analysis, as that is the intended scope and the other points made by the author have already been addressed elsewhere on this blog. The excerpt being dissected is presented here as follows:

          "Luke 16:19-31 – in this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering. But there is no suffering in heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God’s graces for all eternity. So where is the rich man? He is in purgatory."

          The rich man was not evil, humanly speaking. He did recognize Abraham as a spiritual father, proving that he was indeed faithful in practicing Judaism. The man did have a concern for his five brothers who had potentially not yet heard of Jesus Christ (Luke 16:28). So purgatory would have been an ideal place for God to send the rich man. But the context plainly shows us that he was in hell (Luke 16:25). The context does not leave room for a third place which is for the purification of souls. In fact, we hear of a chasm that cannot be crossed (Luke 16:26). Where could purgatory possibly be? What purpose can it even serve?

          Jesus had the scribes and Pharisees in mind when He spoke these words concerning the eternal destiny of mankind. He was speaking from an eternal perspective. Christ was exposing the moral hypocrisy and corruption of the religious leaders of His day. He was rebuking them for closing the door to salvation for other people as they were leading them astray from the truth regarding His Messiahship. He was stressing the fact that God will not accept dead religion. The problem is that their hearts had not been changed by God.

          Luke 16:19-31 is problematic for the Roman Catholic teaching on praying to Mary and the saints in general, as the passage of Scripture says the following:

        "And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Verses 27-31)

         Obviously, God has ordained as a general rule of thumb that the dead cannot have contact with the living (or visa versa). From this biblical principle follows implications that are dreadful for Roman Catholic theology. The hypothesis of purgatory has been falsified. The idea of indulgences is rendered nonsensical. The credibility of Roman Catholic Marian apparitions has been injured. Luke 16:29-31 is also problematic in that it supports Sola Scriptura. If the witness of Scripture is not sufficient to convince an unbelieving heart, then nothing else is.

         To make matters even worse here, the defense provided by the Roman Catholic apologist being critiqued is expressly contradicted by other Roman Catholic apologists. For example, Jan Wakelin of Catholic Answers says the following:

         "To say that the rich man must have been in purgatory because love cannot exist in hell is a conclusion based on an unsupportable premise. The Church does not teach that those in hell are bereft of all kinds of love. It is true that supernatural love of God cannot exist in hell, but a disordered love is involved in every mortal sin, and this perverse loving will remain."

         The Roman Catholic catechism also references to Luke 16:19-31 with the premise that the rich man went to hell. In other words, an interpretive tradition in regard to that passage from Luke has already been long established. And yet, we have a Roman Catholic apologist acting as his own pope! He is acting independently of Roman Catholic tradition. This serves as a good illustration as to the hypocrisy of apologists for Rome who resort to the unity argument against Sola Scriptura. They themselves do not see eye to eye on many things.

         Of course, the claim that the rich man was in purgatory is untenable. The context does not warrant that anywhere. In fact, this entire section of Scripture is in conflict with Roman Catholic dogma. Luke 16:19-31 would have been an excellent place for Jesus Christ to make mention of purgatory, as it gives us a basic picture of the afterlife. But He does not. There is no opportunity for repentance after death.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Eastern Orthodox Commentary On Papal Supremacy

"...astonishingly enough, in their [Roman Catholic theologians] efforts to make the doctrine of Papal supremacy more palatable to Orthodox and Protestants, they have tended, of late, to emphasize the Popes alleged "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum," as the Latin Vulgate renders the original Greek of II Corinthians 11:28, "he merimna pason ton ekklesion" or "the care of all the Churches." That this statement is from the mouth of St. Paul, describing his own duties, and not a statement by St. Peter, hardly reinforces the notion of Petrine primacy on which the doctrine of Papal supremacy rests. Indeed, if one were to take it as literally as the Papists take Christs statement to St. Peter with regard to his Apostolic prerogatives in the Church, he would of necessity have to attribute to St. Paul the primacy which Roman Catholics give to the former.

In his homily on this Epistle, St. John Chrysostomos expounds on the nature of St. Paul's care for the Churches. He says that this was the heaviest of the burdens with which St. Paul wrestled in his Apostolic ministry: "...His soul too was distracted, and his thoughts divided. For even if nothing from without had assailed him; yet the war within was enough, those waves on waves, that sleet of cares, that war of thoughts." St. John adds that, though it is difficult enough for one to look after a single house, St. Paul had "the care not of a single house, but of cities and peoples and nations and of the whole world" (Homily 12, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. XII [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978], p. 395). Several Roman Catholic exegetes, in keeping with their misunderstanding of Christs words about the ministry of St. Peter, have misunderstood this all-embracing pastoral care with which St. Paul, as the Apostle to the Nations, was naturally entrusted as an institutional prerogative. In so doing, however, they once more compromise their own arguments. For, if St. Paul was given such care of all the Churches, then primacy in the Church would logically belong, again, not to St. Peter, but to St. Paul and, by implication, to his successors [I, the author of this blog, would dispute the notion of apostolic succession, but that is beside the point here]. Clearly, however, St. Paul was not speaking, in the passage under consideration, of an institutional prerogative, as St. John Chrysostomos points out, but of a burden imposed on him by the nature of his ministry.

With regard to the other verse which you cite, St. Theophylact of Ochrid points out that the words, "I will give unto thee,""...were spoken to Peter alone, yet they were given to all the apostles," since Christ also said, Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted." (The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew [House Springs, MO: Chrysostom Press, 1994], p. 141.) The second verse to which St. Theophylact refers is St. John 20:23. As the translator rightly observes, the verb "remit" is in the second person plural, and thus refers not to St. Peter alone, but to all of the Apostles. As for the "controversial verse" (St. Matthew 16:18), St. Theophylact, following St. John Chrysostomos and the overwhelming consensus of both Greek and Latin Fathers, interprets the words "this rock" to denote St. Peters confession of faith in the Divinity of Christ, and not the Apostles person. Any other interpretation would, of course, violate the Christocentric nature of the Church and the rather clear Scriptural affirmation that "Christ is the head of the Church" (Ephesians 5:23) and the "head of the Body" (Colossians 1:18)."

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Unbiblical Three-Handed Mary Of Eastern Orthodoxy

  • Discussion:
          -It is widely known that the Eastern Orthodox, just like Roman Catholics, cling to the odd and unusual practice of praying before and venerating icons that represent various saints within Christianity. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, is the one who receives most of this religious devotion (although the Orthodox reject the immaculate conception of Mary). Eastern Orthodoxy is full of mysticism, along with bizarre looking paintings. Consider the example of Saint Christopher who is sometimes depicted as having a dog head. Another shocking example of a consecrated image is that of the three-handed Mary, which had its origins with John Damascene who supposedly encountered an apparition of Mary. This Eastern Orthodox source provides necessary background information concerning this icon:

          "Panagia Tricherousa is another Hodegetria-style icon known as the "Virgin with Three Hands." This icon is at the Serbian Monastery of Chiliandari, Mount Athos, Greece. This icon is commemorated by the Church on June 28 and July 12.

          A great fighter against the iconoclasts, St. John Damascene was accused of being an enemy of the state in which he lived, and as punishment, the Caliph ordered that one of his hands be chopped off. Afterwards, St. John took the severed hand, prayed in front of the icon of the Theotokos and fell asleep. The Theotokos wrought the miracle of re-attaching the dead hand of her servant and bringing it back to life. When he awoke, he found that his hand was completely healed.

          In honor of that healing, he made a silver votive offering in the shape of a hand and placed it on the icon in such a way that it appears that the Virgin Mary has a third hand."

          First of all, we were instructed in Scripture by Christ to pray to our Father which is in heaven (Matthew 6:6). Paul said to make our requests known to God (Philippians 4:6-7). Not once are we told to petition saints in heaven.

          Secondly, it is a part of our sinful nature to turn things into idols. So bowing before religious iconography is especially unwise. That is why we as God's people are not to greatly emphasize or make the central aspect a particular image when worshiping (Leviticus 26:1). Bowing before or adoration for images is futile because they are inherently lifeless and powerless (Psalm 115; Isaiah 44:10-19) A picture of Mary having three hands is simply preposterous.

          Thirdly, Mary (or any human being for that matter) has not been endowed with some special ability to work miracles at whim. To petition somebody other than God for a miracle amounts to rank idolatry. It is not as if the Jews in the Old Testament who persisted in praying to Baal would have had anything good happen to them as a result of their idolatrous actions. The Eastern Orthodox have essentially turned Mary into a mythical goddess here.