Saturday, December 30, 2017

Primitive Churches Were Not Governed By A Single Bishop

  • Jerome Offers A Vivid Description Of The Original Christian Churches Of The First Century As Being Autonomous, And Governed By A Plurality Of Elders (Unlike The Modern Papacy) In His Commentary On Titus 1:7:
          -"The presbyter is the same as the bishop, and before parties had been raised up in religion by the provocations of Satan, the churches were governed by the Senate of the presbyters. But as each one sought to appropriate to himself those whom he had baptized, instead of leading them to Christ, it was appointed that one of the presbyters, elected by his colleagues, should be set over all the others, and have chief supervision over the general well-being of the community. . .Without doubt it is the duty of the presbyters to bear in mind that by the discipline of the Church they are subordinated to him who has been given them as their head, but it is fitting that the bishops, on their side, do not forget that if they are set over the presbyters, it is the result of tradition, and not by the fact of a particular institution by the Lord."

Character, Evil, And Tolerance

"He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Invisible Things Are Clearly Seen

"Yet even in earthly matters I believe that "the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead," and I have never seen anything incompatible between those things of man which can be known by the spirit of man which is within him, and those higher things concerning his future, which he cannot know by that spirit."

Michael Faraday (September 22, 1791 – August 25, 1867) was a British scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Quotes From Historical Scientists On God

  • Science And Religion Are Not Incompatible:
           -"Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations...To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized worldview." -Max Planck, German Physicist (1858-1947)
  • Science Verifies Creation:
           -"The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will make you an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you." -Werner Heisenberg, Father Of Quantum Physics (1901-1976)
  • No Intelligent Design Without An Intelligent Designer:
           -"So then Gravity may put ye planets into motion but without ye divine power it could never put them into such a circulation motion as they about ye Sun, and therefore, for this as well as other reasons, I am compelled to ascribe ye frame of this system to an intelligent Agent." -Isaac Newton, Mathematician, Astronomer, And Physicist (1643-1727)
  • God Is The Source Of Intelligence:
           -"When I reflect on so many profoundly marvelous things that persons have grasped, sought, and done, I recognize even more clearly that human intelligence is a work of God, and one of the most excellent." -Galileo Galilei, Founder Of Experimental Physics (1564-1642)
  • Creation Declares God's Glory:
           -"The vastness, beauty, orderliness of heavenly bodies, the excellent structure of animals and plants, and other phenomena of nature justly induce an intelligent, unprejudiced observer to conclude a supreme, powerful, just, and good Author." -Sir Robert Boyle, Founder Of Modern Chemistry (1627-1691)
  • Testimony To The Active Power Of Prayer:
           -"I am proud to be a Christian. I believe not only as a Christian, but as a scientist as well. A wireless device can deliver a message through the wilderness. In prayer the humble spirit can send invisible waves to eternity, waves that can achieve their goal in front of God." -Guglielmo Marconi, Inventor Of The Radio (1874-1937)
  • Science Can Be Grasped By The Human Mind Because of God:
           -"To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power, to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful working of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more gratifying than knowledge." -Nicolaus Copernicus, Founder Of Heliocentric Cosmology (1473-1543)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Proof That Atheism Is Rebellion Against God

"Atheists don't hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns because they don't exist. It is impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. Atheists-like the painting experts hated the painter-hate God because He does exist."

Ray Comfort, Christian Minister

Early Church Evidence For Penal Substitution

...it is also worth noting that this view was held by some of the earliest Christian writers; in this case, by the author of the Epistle to Diognetus in the early second century. Here are some excerpts from the author that affirm key aspects of substitutionary atonement:

The Seriousness of Sin

The author writes:

And when we had demonstrated that we were powerless to enter the kingdom of God on our own, were were enabled by the power of God. For our unrighteous way of life came to fruition and it became perfectly clear that it could expect only punishment and death as its ultimate reward (9.1-2).

Here is a clear affirmation of human inability to save ourselves (akin to total depravity), and a full acknowledgement that sin deserves the ultimate penalty of death.

The Grace and love of God toward Sinners

The author writes:

But then, when the time arrived that God planned to reveal at last his goodness and power (Oh the supreme beneficence and love of God!), he did not hate us, destroy us, or hold a grudge against us (9.2).

God’s response to our sin, though deserving of death, is not to bring judgment but to show mercy.

Christ Bore Our Sins on Himself

Here is where we get to the crux of substitutionary atonement:

But [God] was patient, he bore with us, and out of pity for us took our sins upon himself. He gave up his own Son as a ransom for us, the holy one for the lawless, the innocent one for the wicked, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the imperishable one for the perishable, the immortal one for the mortal. (9.2).

Here is a remarkable passage. Undoubtedly, the author views the work of Christ on the cross as an exchange, a swapping, of the righteous for the unrighteous, that we might be saved. And he says plainly that Christ “took our sins upon himself.” He stood in our place and bore God’s wrath for us.

Christ’s Righteousness Covers Us

Incredibly, the author even seems to affirm what Reformed folks refer to as the doctrine of imputation. This doctrine says that our justification is not only about having our sins taken away, but having Christ’s positive righteousness cover us. The author of the Epistle to Diognetus states:

For what else could hide our sins but the righteousness of that one? How could we who were lawless and impious be made upright except by the son of God alone? Oh the sweet exchange!…That the lawless deeds of many should be hidden by the one who was upright, and the righteousness of one should make upright the many who were lawless!

This is a significant passage because it doesn’t dwell on just our sins being taken away, but dwells substantively and primarily on the righteousness of Christ. And what does that righteousness do? It hides our sins. And it “makes upright” the lawless. And this happens in a “sweet exchange.” If we are looking for an ancient writer who describes the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, this comes awfully close.

In sum, the Epistle to Diognetus shows that the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement, and also the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, are not late inventions, but were present very early in the history of Christianity. Did some Christian groups hold other views of such matters? Sure. But, the continuity between the teachings of this epistle, and the writings of Paul himself (see especially Romans 5), make it evident that the substitutionary atonement/imputation view goes back very early indeed.

https://www.michaeljkruger.com/did-the-earliest-christians-really-believe-in-substitutionary-atonement-and-even-imputation-one-important-example/

The Moral Supremacy Of Jesus Christ

"I concur with the author in considering the moral precepts of Jesus as more pure, correct, and sublime than those of ancient philosophers."

Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father And Principle Author Of The Declaration Of Independence (1743-1826)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Archaeological Evidence For The Old Testament

This Except Has Been Taken From Here:
        
-The campaign into Israel by Pharaoh Shishak (1 Kings 14:25-26) is recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun in Thebes, Egypt.

-The revolt of Moab against Israel (2 Kings 1:1; 3:4-27) is recorded on the Mesha Inscription.

-The fall of Samaria (2 Kings 17:3-6, 24; 18:9-11) to Sargon II, king of Assyria, is recorded on his palace walls.

-The defeat of Ashdod by Sargon II (Isaiah 20:1) is recorded on his palace walls.

-The campaign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib against Judah (2 Kings 18:13-16) is recorded on the Taylor Prism.

-The siege of Lachish by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14, 17) is recorded on the Lachish reliefs.

-The assassination of Sennacherib by his own sons (2 Kings 19:37) is recorded in the annals of his son Esarhaddon.

-The fall of Nineveh as predicted by the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah (2 Kings 2:13-15) is recorded on the Tablet of Nabopolasar.

-The fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-14) is recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.

-The captivity of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, in Babylon (2 Kings 24:15-16) is recorded on the Babylonian Ration Records.

-The fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:30-31) is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder.

-The freeing of captives in Babylon by Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-4) is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder.

The Nanny Government Is Unconstitutional

"I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan, as proposed by this bill [1887 bill appropriating money to Texas farmers suffering through a catastrophic drought], to indulge a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds for that purpose. I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people."

President Grover Cleveland, cited by Glenn Beck, Arguing With Idiots, pg.6-7

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Giving Is Blessed

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ Commended Giving Gifts To Other People:
          -"In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)
  • God Loves A Cheerful Giver:
          -It is more blessed to give than to receive. In other words, it is honorable to willingly provide for the needs of other people and dishonorable to selfishly horde goods. It is better that we continually remain in a humble state of charity than it is to possess a self-centered, disdainful, isolationist mindset. 
          -It is more profitable for the welfare of society to distribute gifts and commodities to those who are needy than it is to reserve everything for ourselves. Neither should we needlessly depend on the efforts of or extort other people.
          -We should offer food, shelter, and clothing for the homeless. We should comfort the lonely. We should make ourselves available to other people. We should always be prepared to give the greatest, intangible gift that can sooth all longings of the human heart, the gospel. We should always allow the candle of our faith to shine before other people. Thus, the principle of giving has been illustrated and contrasted with selfishness, laziness, and greed.
          -A civilization cannot exist without love, which has its basis in God. Adherence to this principle as quoted from our Lord Jesus Christ by the Apostle Paul during his farewell speech at Ephesus is an earmark of Christian piety. Love is the foundation of Christianity. Our love for other people should unshackle us from the snares of worldliness (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pope Francis Wrongfully Calls For Revision In The Lord's Prayer

  • The Words Of Pope Francis During A Television Interview, As Reported By The New York Times:
          -"the common rendering of one line in the prayer — “lead us not into temptation” — was “not a good translation” from ancient texts. “Do not let us fall into temptation,” he suggested, might be better because God does not lead people into temptation; Satan does."
  • Major Theological Blunders On Behalf Of Pope Frances, As Discussed By Professor Denny Burk And Others:
          -"God doesn’t need us to get him off the hook...God exercises agency in our trials...“Temptation” may refer more generally to a “trial” or “test."...It is good and right to pray for deliverance from trials that God intends for our good.."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Evolution Cannot Debunk The Supernatural Realm

"Either half of my colleges are enormously stupid, or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs...Science simply cannot adjudicate the issue of God's possible existence. We neither affirm it nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists."

Stephen Jay Gould, American Paleontologist (1941-2002)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Brief Critique Of Humanist Logic

  • Following Are A Handful Of Excerpts (In Pink) From A Standard Humanist Work Titled "The Philosophy of Humanism" By Corliss Lamont:
          "There are, as I see it, ten central propositions in the Humanist philosophy: First, Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of the supernatural as myth; and that regards Nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness. Second, Humanism, drawing especially upon the laws and facts of science, believes man is an evolutionary product of the Nature of which he is part; that his mind is indivisibly conjoined with the functioning of his brain; and that as an inseparable unity of body and personality he can have no conscious survival after death.”

          Indeed, it is quite eyebrow-raising to see how the author of the book capitalizes the word nature, especially considering the fact that in the Bible the name of God is always capitalized. This could easily denote atheism to be a religion. After all, there are atheist churches. There are atheist missionaries. There are evangelistic atheists who preach their worldview as being the truth. There are atheist circles that consider others who disagree with them as being heretical. Atheism is clearly a belief system. In fact, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has coined a phrase to discredit God from the American financial system: "In reason we trust." Atheism is a religion, and should thereby not be enforced upon people who subscribe to different ideological mindsets. It is a paragon of people worshiping the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).

          Notice how the quotation above presupposes the validity of scientism, which is the belief that all truth is determined by the science laboratory. However, this view is refuted because there are many truths that exist beyond the realm of science (view full article). Neither is the laboratory the only way of discovering truth. What needs to be understood is that faith and reason walk together. And how can atheists be so quick to claim that there is no supernatural realm when they have no tangible evidence ruling in favor of their verdict? If we describe the thinking processes of the human mind as being random chemical reflexes, then we have no legitimate reason to believe the claims of atheism because we would not be able to trust our own thoughts. In fact, the author renders the concept of selfhood to being an empty illusion!

          Life without God is meaningless. If the universe came into existence by mere coincidence, and we just happened to have evolved from a different species of primate forefathers over a period of several billion years, then it would follow that human life has no intrinsic value. The inevitable consequence of eliminating God from the equation of life would be that we possessed no more dignity than the soil, rocks, or other inanimate components which constitute the physical and chemical composition of this planet. To consistently embrace the atheistic worldview would also require that one cares nothing for the drastic reputational precipice of contrariety between the wealthy and impoverished. And what about the stillborn babies or people with severe cognitive impairments (who obviously do not get a chance to succeed in this life)? If no divine creator exists, then the human race would be absolutely useless and unwanted because the universe most certainly has no compassion for life. Time would simply progress as we wait for the natural, appointed termination of our physical existence. Restricting the sense of dignity to the boundaries of earthly life undermines the very meaning of human life having intrinsic value and inalienable rights (If there is no God, then no objective moral standard exists and thus our reasoning becomes subjective at best). No afterlife means having no ultimate sense of purpose or fulfillment, period. While it is impossible for atheism to give us an ultimate purpose in life, the God who inspired Scripture can grant everlasting spiritual life to those who voluntarily approach Him by faith.

          “I believe that the facts of science offer overwhelming evidence in support of the Humanist thesis of the inseparable coexistence of body and personality. To begin with, biology has conclusively shown that man and all other forms of life were the result, not of a supernatural act of creation by God, but of an infinitely long process of evolution probably stretching over at least three billions years….”

          Without delving into Darwinian evolution, it would be interesting to note that a Supreme Mind still could have created the universe by means of a giant cosmic explosion of expanding matter (i.e. Big Bang Theory) to accomplish the formation of animal species through evolutionary processes. So the "humanist thesis" does not really negate the possibility of supernatural creation.

          Even if scientists did successfully develop scientific models that function without God, proof of unnecessity is not proof of His nonexistence. Furthermore, the Bible presents us with its own scientifically compatible model--a literal, six-day creation as documented in Genesis chapters one and two.

          “Humanism believes that Nature itself constitutes the sum total of reality…and that supernatural entities simply do not exist. This non reality of the supernatural means, on the human level, that men do not possess supernatural and immortal souls; and, on the level of the universe as a whole, that our cosmos does not possess a supernatural and eternal God.”

          A concise refutation of naturalism should compose a sufficient analysis of the cited excerpt from Corliss Lamont's book above. Naturalism maintains that everything existing emerged from natural properties and causes to the exclusion of supernatural intervention. In other words, this logical framework operates on the premise that all things are physical and are thus dictated by the laws of physics and chemistry. On the contrary, we know that naturalism is false because things such as numbers, moral laws, and information are nonphysical entities. These things transcend the five senses which scientists use to make observations and draw inferences. The elementary concept of free will disproves naturalism because this philosophy assumes that scientific laws and states are literally in control of all things. Naturalistic evolution is self-refuting because people proclaim it to be true (i.e. we cannot conduct autonomous thinking if naturalism is true). Hence, it would also be irrational for atheists to profess believe in naturalism when beliefs supposedly do not point to truth (i.e. our convictions are simply physical things which take place as a result of chemical reactions).

          “the scientific concept of evolution…effectively negates the old religious idea of a divine creation of the whole universe.”

          So something can come from nothing? Design from chaos? Can intelligence arise from non-intelligence? Can rationality arise from non-rationality? Can consciousness arise from non-consciousness? The answer to all these questions would be no. As a matter of fact, there are many well-constructed logical proofs for the existence of God (article one; article two). Thus, theism is more rational than atheism.

          “Matter is self-existent, self-active, self-developing, self-enduring. It is auto-dynamic.”

          Is this not a circular argument (i.e. matter has power in of and itself because that is how it is)? How can matter be self-existent when it is comprised of finite particles? What infinite source of energy do atoms possess that enables matter able to act of itself without external causes? How can physical matter come from nothing or create itself? How could non-living matter become alive by itself? How does this kind of humanist reasoning not violate the principle of sufficient reason (i.e. everything must have a reason, cause, or ground)?

          It would be far more reasonable to believe that an infinitely powerful, all-knowing, and everlasting God set forth all things in an orderly fashion on the basis of His spoken commands. It would be far more sensible to believe in a God who infinitely transcends the boundaries of nature (Psalm 33:4-8). The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).

          ''A careful analysis of both the natural and the social sciences shows, in the first place, that we do not attain something that is to be called ‘absolute’ truth, but rather what John Dewey cautiously describes as ‘warranted assertibility''

          If there are no absolute truths, then a.) scientific laws are subjective, b.) no point in education because truth is subjective, c.) the concept of certainty is illusionary, d.) no such thing as crime because nobody can definitively declare an action to be evil, e.) no such thing as human rights, and f.) reality becomes an illusion. If there are no absolute truths, then there is no reason for us to believe in the arguments in favor of atheism and no point in Corliss Lamont teaching humanism in books. A society that functions on a moral relativistic worldview will by definition collapse from within. Moral relativism is like a universal acid that corrodes all monuments of truth. A consistently atheistic civilization is the breeding ground for unspeakable evil.

          “For Humanism no human acts are good or bad in or of themselves. Whether an act is good or bad is to be judged by the consequences for the individual and society.”

          Secular consequentialism is the ethical system which maintains that the morality of an action is dependent on its results. In other words, this worldview judges the morality of actions in accordance to their conclusions (i.e. not in the action itself). But this method of moral discernment is quite perplexing. What constitutes the authentic definition of good? Who gets to determine the meanings of good and evil? Good for who? What about bad personal motives that just so happened to produce positive consequences for other people? What about the fact that we cannot predict the outcomes of our actions before we act? From whence would morality come from in the first place?

          ''The Humanist refuses to accept any Ten Commandments or other ethical precepts as immutable and universal laws never to be challenged or questioned. He bows down to no alleged supreme moral authority either past or present…But we can say…some ends justify some means. In getting at the ethical significance of a means-end situation, it is always necessary to be specific and inquire,‘Does this particular end or set of ends justify this particular means or group of means?''

          Of course, it is perfectly understandable for atheists to openly reject the notion of objective moral laws because they are retaliating against the God who created them. The quoted statements from the book above are symptomatic of a puffed-up heart. But if there is no supreme Moral Authority who legislates a universal moral standard, then we can ultimately do whatever we want. Atheists would have no right to express their disagreements with us in an objective fashion. If societies get to determine their own moral law codes, then what happens when they contradict each other or themselves? How would such a scenario not render the idea of self-improvement or improvement of society nonsensical? Romans chapter one accurately describes the conditions of our God deprived society: foolish, prideful, and perverse. The Bible is very much relevant to our culture and accurately describes in ample detail the problem alongside with the solution for mankind.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Advocating Intelligent Design--An Excerpt From A Tract Titled "Is There A God?"

  • The Marvels Of Nature:
          -"Who made all of this? Did it just happen...or is there really a God who created it, as the Bible says? Can anyone really deny it? If you say there is no God, then all the wonders around you are just an accident. The billions of stars in the sky just happened to make themselves, generate their own power, and stay on course. The land just happens to have topsoil without which nothing could grow. The air we breath-only 50 miles deep and exactly the right composition to support life-is just another accident in the "laws of physics."

           Did deposits of coal, zinc, gold, and uranium get their by accident? And what prevents lakes from freezing solid-all the way to the bottom-making it impossible for fish to survive frigid winters? Why does the earth spin at a given speed without slowing so that we have day and night? Who tilts it so we get seasons? No one really knows the why and how of the magnetic poles. Or think of the sun stoking a fire just warm enough to sustain us on earth, but not too close to fry us or too far away to freeze us. Who keeps things constant? Can you believe these things just happened? Isn't it more reasonable to believe that a supreme mind is behind everything that exists?
  • The Amazing Human Body:
          -"What about the human body? Isn't an intricate combination of bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. In the future, scientists hope to have a supercomputer to rival the three-pound average adult brain, but it won't be easy. In 2007 scientists built a $30 million supercomputer. It has 5% of the computing ability of a human brain!

           The kidneys contain approximately 145 miles of tiny tubes. In a day they filter around 50 gallons of blood, extracting up to two quarts of water and impurities. Then there's the heart, an unbelievably rugged organ-a four-chamber, four-valve pump that handles the equivalent of 2,000 gallons of blood daily. It supplies a circulatory system that has 100,000 miles of vessels and, in a lifetime, beats two-and-one-half billion times (108,000 times a day)!

            Before you say, 'There is no God,' think about these marvels. All of creation gives evidence that there is a God who created it all. And since the Bible says that God's Son, Jesus, created all things and holds everything together (Colossians 1:16-17), then we need to see how Jesus's life affects us."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Way Of The Heretic

"The heretics were never dishonest men; they were mistaken men. They should not be thought of as men who were deliberately setting out to go wrong and to teach something that is wrong; they have been some of the most sincere men that the Church has ever known. What was the matter with them? Their trouble was this: they evolved a theory and they were rather pleased with it; then they went back with this theory to the Bible, and they seemed to find it everywhere."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 7

Monday, December 11, 2017

From Whence Do We Derive Our Morals?

"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people."

Ulysses S. Grant, American General And President (1822-1885)

Science Cannot Exist Without God

"Everyone who is seriously interested in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in which we with our modest powers must feel humble."

Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist (1879-1955)

Never Hesitate To Do That Which Is Good

"You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet, Philosopher, and Journalist (1803-1882)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Answering Abortion Advocates On The Definition Of Life

  • For the people who object to abortion procedures on the grounds that it involves the murder of an innocent child, it would be extremely wise to note that medical textbooks have officially defined personhood as beginning at the moment of conception. Consider the following excerpts which were originally derived from an article at Life News:
         -“Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed… Fertilization is the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments…The zygote…is a unicellular embryo..”

           From Human Embryology & Teratology, Ronan R. O’Rahilly, Fabiola Muller, (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996), 5-55.

         -“The life cycle of mammals begins when a sperm enters an egg.”

           Okada et al., A role for the elongator complex in zygotic paternal genome demethylation, NATURE 463:554 (Jan. 28, 2010)

         -“The zygote is human life….there is one fact that no one can deny; Human beings begin at conception.”

          From Landrum B. Shettles “Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth” Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983 p 40.

         -“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).”

           Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

         -“The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops. It is synonymous with the terms fecundation, impregnation, and fertilization … The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.”

           J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Freidman. Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Publishers. 1974 Pages 17 and 23.

Never Pray For The Book Of Mormon

"A [Mormon] missionary resource explains, “In order to know that the Book of Mormon is true, a person must read, ponder, and pray about it. The honest seeker of truth will soon come to feel that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.” . . .


Yet there are problems with this challenge. First of all, the test is skewed. A person who “prays” but doesn’t get the same answer as the missionary is viewed as not getting it correct. If prayer is the correct means of testing the book’s authenticity, why is a negative outcome immediately rejected as a plausible response? . . .However, Jeremiah 17:9 says a feeling that one has can be disastrously wrong because “the heart is desperately wicked.” Praying about a religious book, especially if it is fictional and not historical, is hardly an objective test.

If the Book of Mormon is just one of four LDS scriptures, why should it be prayed over and not the other three scriptures? For that matter, why shouldn’t a seeker after truth pray about the Qu’ran (Islam), the Vedas (Hinduism), or the Tripitaka (Buddhism)? Where does praying about a particular religion’s scripture stop? If praying about a book is a way to determine truth, then why have many Mormons never even thought about expanding their prayers to more than just one religion’s scripture?"

Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101, pg. 135

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On The Historical Accuracy Of The Gospels

"Yet that's precisely the level of detail the Gospels get right, managing to know not just major cities such as Jerusalem but minor villages like Cana and Chorazin, one-goat towns in their day. The Gospels also get a wealth of other local information right, from politics to agriculture, economics to weather patterns; they even get people's names right...In 2006, a British scholar called Richard Bauckham...decided to painstakingly cross-check this database with the New Testament. What he discovered was that the naming patterns in the Gospels precisely match those of the period, adding further evidence (if any were needed) to the idea that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were intimately acquainted with the time, place, and culture that they wrote about; in sort, the Gospels have the flavour of eyewitness accounts."

Andy Bannister, The Atheist Who Didn't Exist, p. 221, 222

History Is Not Unknowable

"If we cannot know anything about Jesus then we cannot know anything about the Caesars, or Plato, or Alexander the Great, or anybody. Forget the Dark Ages...modern technology doesn't actually really resolve the problem...records can always be destroyed or manipulated, images Photoshopped, or the truth buried...Historical skepticism is a universal acid, destroying everything it touches."

Andy Bannister, The Atheist Who Didn't Exist, p. 217

Science Cannot Explain Reality In It's Fullness

"...if your thoughts are just a by-product of atoms jiggling in your brain, that may make them sound chemically, but it does not make them sound logically. And if that's the case then you've no reason to trust your initial belief that your mind is composed of atoms. That's a circle that's not just vicious, but positively voracious and ravenous to boot. Once you've explained away mind as a chemical reaction, thinking as a reflex, and selfhood as an illusion...you are left with nothing...according to this description of reality, you don't exist. 'You' are just a flickering of electrons, a fizzing of chemicals, a banging-together of atoms."

Andy Bannister, The Atheist Who Didn't Exist, p. 135, 136

Friday, December 1, 2017

Answering "Catholic Answers" On Sola Scriptura

  • Introduction:
          -Popular speaker, director, and former Protestant turned Catholic apologist Tim Staples wrote an article titled According to Scripture with the intention of revealing fundamental problems with appealing to Scripture as the final court of authority in spiritual matters. In his article, Tim raises objections to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as a proof-text for Sola Scriptura, stresses the role of extra-biblical oral tradition in the church, charges that the Protestant position on biblical authority is "contrary to reason" because it "is a textbook example of circular reasoning", and that the canon by definition needed to be assembled by an infallible authority (Roman Catholic Church). Though this proficient Roman Catholic apologist truly desires to spread the gospel, we should never treat a person's sincerity as a standard for guaranteeing accuracy in argumentation. The objective behind writing this article is to reprove some of the common, misguided assertions of conventional Roman Catholic apologetic methods against Sola Scriptura.
  • The Following Excerpt From Tim Staple's Article Is A Perfect Example Of Roman Catholics Misrepresenting The Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura:
          -"If a teaching isn’t explicit in the Bible, then we don’t accept it as doctrine!" That belief, commonly known as sola scriptura, was a central component of all I believed as a Protestant. This bedrock Protestant teaching claims that Scripture alone is the sole rule of faith and morals for Christians."
  • Explaining The Biblical Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura:
          -Quite simply, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura means that Scripture is the only infallible spiritual standard for the Christian church. Other rules of faith such as catechisms, creeds, customs, commentaries, and concordances may be used, insofar as they agree with the principles of Scripture. All uninspired authorities are to be subjugated to the judgment of the Bible because it is inspired by God. This explanation constitutes the classical Sola Scriptura doctrine as upheld by the Protestant Reformation. Consider this documentary evidence from the Westminster Confession of Faith, "The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture" (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:10). Thus, it is highly inaccurate for Roman Catholic apologists and theologians to portray Protestants who subscribe to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as "having a sole rule of faith" or "Bible only Christians." It is also erroneous for Tim Staples to say that we only accept "explicit approval" from the Bible, since we voluntarily acknowledge that it provides us with principles of discernment to apply in our daily lives. The Bible is not the only authority, but is the ultimate standard of authority for the Christian church.
  • Presenting The Case For Sola Scriptura From 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
          A.) The Origin Of Scripture:
          -All Scripture is inspired by God. In other words, the Holy Spirit moved through the apostles and prophets as they recorded His teachings (1 Peter 1:16-21). In fact, the Greek word for "inspired", which is "theopneustos", literally means "God-breathed".

          B.) The Purpose Of Scripture:
          -The purpose of Scripture is to convict the conscience of sin, confront error, and preach righteousness. Furthermore, notice the surrounding context of this epistle: 1.) The coming of false teaching (3:1-13), 2.) Paul was about experience martyrdom (4:6-7), and 3.) This was the Apostle Paul's last epistle. Contextual evidence points us to one infallible rule of faith: Scripture. The context mentions no other inspired "rule of faith".

          C.) The Results Of Using Scripture:
          -Scripture "thoroughly" equips the man of God for "every good work", not most or just a few good works. There is not a charitable deed that the Bible fails to address. There is not a moral principle that it fails to discuss. Scripture contains everything necessary for salvation. Scripture alone is therefore sufficient for the Christian church to use as the final court of authority in spiritual matters.
  • Listing The Four So-Called Major Dilemmas Of Using 2 Timothy 3:16-17 As A Biblical Defense Of Sola Scriptura (In The Words Of The Author):
          -"First, it does not speak of the New Testament at all...Second, 2 Timothy 3:16 does not claim Scripture to be the sole rule of faith for Christians...James 1:4 illustrates the problem...Third, the Bible teaches that oral Tradition is equal to Scripture...Finally, 2 Timothy 3:16 is specifically addressed to members of the hierarchy. It is a pastoral epistle, written to a young bishop Paul had ordained..."
  • Evaluating The Evidence Provided Against The Citation Of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 As Being Supportive Of Sola Scriptura:
          -The first Roman Catholic objection to the Protestant citation of 2 Timothy as biblical justification for the Bible functioning as the supreme rule of faith for the Christian church is fallacious because it ignores the literal meaning of the word all. In fact, it would be just as absurd as concluding from the phrase "all ex-cathedra statements are inspired" that all official papal decrees are inspired "only up to a certain point in history." Additionally, it would be utterly inconsistent for the Apostle Paul to argue only for the divine inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures (not also for the New Testament Scriptures). The New Testament also calls itself "Scripture" (2 Peter 3:15-16). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is not discussing the canon, but rather the purpose and origin of Scripture. The Apostle Paul was speaking of Scripture as a category. The Old Testament was sufficient, but not the exhaustive content of God's revelation to mankind. Lastly, nobody can limit the scope of inspiration as recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16 to the Old Testament, since the context itself places no such limitation and the Apostle Paul had the future in mind.
          -The second Roman Catholic objection to the Protestant citation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as biblical justification for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura fails because if Scripture equips the man of God for every good work, then it logically follows that it is the final, sufficient rule of faith for Christians to use in spiritual matters. Can anybody produce a list of "good works" that cannot be found in Scripture? What else does "every good work" mean?
          -For the third Roman Catholic argument to hold any water, at least three conditions need to be met before the apologists can advance any "proof-texts" for "Sacred Tradition": 1.) The exact traditions need to be identified, 2.) It needs to be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the word "tradition" mentioned within the specific texts of Scripture are different in substance from what is contained in the Bible, and 3.) Conclusive evidence needs to be provided in order for any random tradition to be considered apostolic and infallible (click here for full discussion).
          -Neither does James 1:4 illustrate what the author of the article is trying to prove (i.e. interpreting "every good work" in 2 Timothy 3:17 to mean that Scripture is sufficient is just as nonsensical as interpreting "perseverance...perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" in James 1:4 to mean that all a person needs is patience to be perfected). This rebuttal does not work because the context of 2 Timothy 3 is directing the reader to the rule of faith (i.e. Scripture), whereas James 1 concerns the application of the principles found within that infallible guide. So Tim Staples has actually misapplied the message found in James 1:4 to 2 Timothy 3:17 because he has confused the meaning of both contexts. But if Roman Catholic apologists insist on using this argument against the Protestant interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then it would logically follow that they would have to add "patience" as an additional infallible standard of authority to their "three-legged stool!"
          -As for the final quibble raised in the cited excerpt from Catholic Answers above, there is really no reason for us to interpret the message found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as being directed strictly toward members of a church hierarchy. For starters, the office of pope is not even biblical. In fact, it was not until 150 A.D. that the Roman Church began to develop a single one-head bishop structure (click for more details). Secondly, we never find in Scripture the church tasks found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (to teach, refute, correct, and instruct in righteousness) as being assigned only to clergy. And thirdly, the phrase "man of God" does not necessarily denote reference to ordained ministers (though Timothy most certainly was ordained by Paul). Notice how reputable Roman Catholic Bible versions translate the phrase "man of God." The Jerusalem Bible translates it to be "the man who is dedicated to God." The Good News Bible translates it to be "the person who serves God." The New American Bible translates the phrase "man of God" to be "one who belongs to God." It is abundantly clear that all Christians are to discern from the Scriptures. It is clear that all ordained ministers of the church are subject to the supreme authority of the Scriptures. While it is true that the context of 2 Timothy is about preaching, the fact remains that the Apostle Paul pointed to only one rule of faith (i.e. Scripture) to function as the infallible standard of authority for the Christian church (i.e. Sola Scriptura). Why would Scripture function as a sufficient rule of faith for the clergy, but not also for the layperson?
  • Addressing The Charge Of Circular Reasoning:
          -Sola Scriptura is not circular reasoning because outside sources attest to the inspiration of Scripture. The Bible has also "proven itself" to be true. Consider, for example, 1.) archaeological evidence backing up the existence of various cities, countries, prominent individuals, customs or traditions, and even major events mentioned in the Bible, 2.) Geological accuracy, 3.) Agreement with scientific principles, 4.) Excellent moral teaching, 5.) Great internal consistency in the biblical texts, 6.) Incredible manuscript evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament canon, 7.) Scripture's fulfillment of prophecy points to its supernatural origin, and 8.) The life transforming power of Scripture. What is circular reasoning, on the other hand, is the authority claims of the Roman Catholic hierarchy (more information here). And Tim Staple's attempt to escape the charge of circularity on behalf of the Church of Rome is unsuccessful because arguing for the Church's infallibility by saying "Jesus said so" is based on the Roman Catholic Church's interpretation of texts such as Matthew 16:18-19. It is merely ASSUMED by the author of the article at Catholic Answers that the Roman Catholic Church was established by our Lord Jesus Christ. But what inspired testimonial from Scripture should warrant us to subscribe to the Roman Catholic position of authority (apart from the say so of the pope)? And what about Catholic traditions that contradict the Bible? The end result of Catholic logic on this matter will always be: "It is thus because Rome said it is thus."
  • Addressing Canon Issues:
          -Tim Staples maintains that Sola Scriptura is an untenable theological position because an infallible authority (Church of Rome) supposedly needed to determine the canon of Scripture. The author of the article further asserts (correctly) that the Bible does not contain an inspired table of contents. However, it needs to be understood that 1.) The church merely recognized the canon of Scripture (more details), 2.) That there has always been a general consensus as to which books belong in the New Testament canon, 3.) Roman Catholics do not have an inspired "table of contents" specifically identifying which oral traditions are inspired, 4.) The authors of books such as Job and Hebrews are unknown, yet still made into the canon, 5.) The Jews successfully assembled an Old Testament canon without the aid of the Roman Catholic Church, 6.) Not having a table of contents to the books of the Bible is neither a requirement for salvation nor impacts its inspiration, 7.) That appealing to extra-biblical sources (i.e. date, authorship, doctrinal consistency, tradition, non-Christian works etc.) to affirm scriptural texts is not problematical for Sola Scriptura, and 8.) That it was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D. that the Church of Rome had finally canonized the canon (more details here). If the church was meant to be infallible, then why do we even have a Bible? What about the glossed over historical fact by Roman Catholic apologists that no pope was officially considered infallible until 1870 A.D. (more details here)? The Christian church is built on the infallible testimony of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). It has survived throughout the centuries only because of the sanctifying, miraculous power of the Holy Ghost. It is God who is the author of the canon. The Bible is God-breathed, not church breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).
  • Addressing The 33,000 Protestant Denominations Myth:
          -This argument is derived off a complete misinterpretation of the World Christian Encyclopedia (David A. Barrett; Oxford University Press, 1982), which ultimately divides Protestantism into 21 major traditions, and the Church of Rome into 16 separate divisions (more details here). Moreover, the National Catholic Register concurs that the claim of there being 33,000 Protestant denominations is a blatant lie. So why are the folks at Catholic Answers still propagating this huge myth against the doctrine of Sola Scriptura? And why is it that Roman Catholics can disagree amongst themselves on Roman Catholic doctrine (without receiving criticism)? What is even more disturbing is the conclusionary excerpt from the article at Catholic Answers which reveals how these folks care nothing what the Bible says, "...the Church is the final court of appeal for the people of God in matters of faith, morals, and discipline." This only proves that the Roman Catholic Church does not care what the Word of God says.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Church Of Rome Has Historically Been Opposed To Bible Reading

  • Consider Canon Fourteen (As A Sample) From The Council Of Toulouse Which Was Assembled By Roman Bishop Folquet de Marselha In 1229 A.D. For The Express Purpose Of Forbidding The Laity Access To The Holy Scriptures (In Vernacular Languages):
          -"We appoint, therefore, that the archbishops and bishops shall swear in one priest, and two or three laymen of good report, or more if they think fit, in every parish, both in and out of cities, who shall diligently, faithfully, and frequently seek out the heretics in those parishes, by searching all houses and subterranean chambers which lie under suspicion. And looking out for appendages or outbuildings, in the roofs themselves, or any other kind of hiding places, all which we direct to be destroyed. Directs that the house in which any heretic shall be found shall be destroyed. We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books." (Canons 1, 6, 14)
  • Pope Pius IV Decreed That A List Of Forbidden Books ("INDEX LIBRORUM PROHIBITORUM") Be Published During The Council Of Trent In The Sixteenth Century, Which Was A Direct Response To The Protestant Reformation:
          -"...However, translations of books of the Old Testament may be allowed by the judgment of bishops for the use of learned and pious men only. These translations are to elucidate the Vulgate so that Sacred Scripture can be understood, but they are not to be considered as a sacred text. Translations of the New Testament made by authors of the first sections in this Index are not to be used at all, since too little usefulness and too much danger attends such reading...Since experience teaches that, if the reading of the Holy Bible in the vernacular is permitted generally without discrimination, more damage than advantage will result because of the boldness of men, the judgment of bishops and inquisitors is to serve as guide in this regard. Bishops and inquisitors may, in accord with the counsel of the local priest and confessor, allow Catholic translations of the Bible to be read by those of whom they realize that such reading will not lead to the detriment but to the increase of faith and piety. The permission is to be given in writing. Whoever reads or has such a translation in his possession without this permission cannot be absolved from his sins until he has turned in these Bibles...Books in the vernacular dealing with the controversies between Catholics and the heretics of our time are not to be generally permitted, but are to be handled in the same way as Bible translations." (Rules III, IV, VI)
  • Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) Condemned Bible Societies In His Encyclical Titled Qui pluribus:
          -"This is the goal too of the crafty Bible Societies which renew the old skill of the heretics and ceaselessly force on people of all kinds, even the uneducated, gifts of the Bible. They issue these in large numbers and at great cost, in vernacular translations, which infringe the holy rules of the Church. The commentaries which are included often contain perverse explanations; so, having rejected divine tradition, the doctrine of the Fathers and the authority of the Catholic Church, they all interpret the words of the Lord by their own private judgment, thereby perverting their meaning. As a result, they fall into the greatest errors. Gregory XVI of happy memory, Our superior predecessor, followed the lead of his own predecessors in rejecting these societies in his apostolic letters. It is Our will to condemn them likewise." (# 14)
  • What Modern Code Of Canon Law States:
          -Can. 825 § 1. "Books of the Sacred Scriptures cannot be published unless they have been approved either by the Apostolic See or by the conference of bishops; for their vernacular translations to be published it is required that they likewise be approved by the same authority and also annotated with necessary and sufficient explanations." 

Scholarly Documentation Affirming Fixed Old Testament Canon Before The Time Of Christ

"No longer are there compelling reasons to assume that the history of the canon must have commenced very late in Israel’s history, as was once accepted. The emergence in Mesopotamia, already in the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE, of a standardized body of literature arranged in a more or less fixed order and with some kind of official text, expresses the notion of a canon in its secular sense…The Old Testament as it has come down in Greek translation from the Jews of Alexandria via the Christian Church differs in many respects from the Hebrew Scriptures…It should be noted that the contents and form of the inferred original Alexandrian Jewish canon cannot be ascertained with certainty because all extant Greek Bibles are of Christian origin."

https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/Old-Testament-canon-texts-and-versions#ref597311

Commentary From The NET Bible On 1 Corinthians 10:9

"tc Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”) is attested in the majority of mss, including many important witnesses of the Alexandrian (Ì46 1739 1881) and Western (D F G) texttypes, and other mss and versions (Ψ latt sy co). On the other hand, some of the important Alexandrian witnesses have κύριον (kurion, “Lord”; א B C P 33 104 1175 al). A few mss (A 81 pc) have θεόν (qeon, “God”). The nomina sacra for these readings are quite similar (cMn, kMn, and qMn respectively), so one might be able to account for the different readings by way of confusion. On closer examination, the variants appear to be intentional changes. Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.” Moreover, even if not motivated by a tendency to overcorrect, a scribe might be likely to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages. The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen. What is more, the synod of Antioch in a.d. 268 used the reading “Christ” as evidence of the preexistence of Christ when it condemned Paul of Samosata. (See G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 126-27; TCGNT 494; C. D. Osburn, “The Text of 1 Corinthians 10:9,” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 201-11; contra A. Robertson and A. Plummer, First Corinthians [ICC], 205-6.) Since “Christ” is the more difficult reading on all accounts, it is almost certainly original. In addition, “Christ” is consistent with Paul’s style in this passage (cf. 10:4, a text in which {Marcion} also reads “Christ”). This text is also christologically significant, since the reading “Christ” makes an explicit claim to the preexistence of Christ. (The textual critic faces a similar dilemma in Jude 5. In a similar exodus context, some of the more important Alexandrian mss [A B 33 81 pc] and the Vulgate read “Jesus” in place of “Lord.” Two of those mss [A 81] are the same mss that have “Christ” instead of “God” in 1 Cor 10:9. See the tc notes on Jude 5 for more information.) In sum, “Christ” has all the earmarks of authenticity here and should be considered the original reading."

https://net.bible.org/#!bible/1+Corinthians+10

Illegal Immigration Is Weakening The Economical Structure Of America

"The economy we’re living in today is in no small part a result of the [Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965], which opened the door to mass immigration of unskilled and low-skilled workers, primarily through unlimited family chain migration. And that’s not an economy anyone should be satisfied with.

Today, we have about a million immigrants per year. That’s like adding the population of Montana every year—or the population of Arkansas every three years. But only one in 15—one in 15 of those millions of immigrants—comes here for employment-based reasons. The vast majority come here simply because they happen to be related to someone already here. That’s why, for example, we have more Somalia-born residents than Australia-born residents, even though Australia is nearly twice the size of Somalia and Australians are better prepared, as a general matter, to integrate and assimilate into the American way of life.

In sum, over 36 million immigrants, or 94 percent of the total, have come to America over the last 50 years for reasons having nothing to do with employment. And that’s to say nothing of the over 24 million illegal immigrants who have come here. Put them together and you have 60 million immigrants, legal and illegal, who did not come to this country because of a job offer or because of their skills. That’s like adding almost the entire population of the United Kingdom. And this is still leaving aside the millions of temporary guest workers who we import every year into our country.

Unlike many open-border zealots, I don’t believe the law of supply and demand is magically repealed for the labor markets. That means that our immigration system has been depressing wages for people who work with their hands and on their feet. Wages for Americans with high school diplomas are down two percent since the late 1970s. For Americans who didn’t finish high school, they’re down by a staggering 17 percent. Although immigration has a minimal effect overall on the wages of Americans, it has a severe negative effect on low-skilled workers, minorities, and even recent immigrants. . . .

But the harmful impact on blue-collar workers isn’t the only problem with the current system. Because we give two-thirds of our green cards to relatives of people here, there are huge backlogs in the system. This forces highly talented immigrants to wait in line for years behind applicants whose only claim to naturalization is a random family connection to someone who happened to get here years ago. We therefore lose out on the very best talent coming into our country—the ultra-high-skilled immigrants who can come to America, stand on their own two feet, pay taxes, and through their entrepreneurial spirit and innovation create more and higher-paying jobs for our citizens.

To put it simply, we have an immigration system that is badly failing Madison’s test of increasing the wealth and strength of the community. It might work to the advantage of a favored few, but not for the common good, and especially not the good of working-class Americans."

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Immigration in the National Interest

America's Founding Fathers Were Nationalists

"Prior to those stirring passages [in the Declaration of Independence] about “unalienable Rights” and “Nature’s God,” in the Declaration’s very first sentence in fact, the Founders say it has become “necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands” that tie them to another—one people, not all people, not citizens of the world, but actual people who make up actual colonies. The Founders frequently use the words we and us throughout the Declaration to describe that people.

Furthermore, on several occasions, the Declaration speaks of “these Colonies” or “these States.” The Founders were concerned about their own circumstances; they owed a duty to their own people who had sent them as representatives to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. They weren’t trying to free South America from Spanish or Portuguese dominion, much as they might have opposed that dominion.

Perhaps most notably, the Founders explain towards the end of the Declaration that they had appealed not only to King George for redress, but also to their fellow British citizens, yet those fellow citizens had been “deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.” Consanguinity!—blood ties! That’s pretty much the opposite of being a citizen of the world.

So while the Declaration is of course a universal document, it’s also a particular document about one nation and one people. Its signers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to each other, in English, right here in America—not in Esperanto to mankind in the abstract."

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Immigration in the National Interest

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Practicing Biblical Hospitality

       The idea of welcoming people from neighboring households to sojourn in our own has been avoided by practically every member of society, as well as by professing Christians. In other words, we have allowed our consciences to become so calloused by our regular activities that we have unhealthily suppressed our inherent inclination to build relationships with other people. This isolationist mindset has sprung forth from the selfish belief that our home is merely our safe haven from worldly derision, place for pursuit of personal entertainment, and a resting fortress from daily toil. In fact, social dissociation has been further enhanced by the multiple social media distractions promulgated through the television, radio, and computer sets. But this essay intends on revealing what the Bible says concerning hospitality and how it can be used as a weapon for preaching the gospel.

       What needs to be understood is that the prevalent views of home that have been molded by the modern standards of civilization are utterly false. The philosophical structure of society has been crafted in such a way that it would be extremely difficult to show hospitality. Consider, for example, how commercials deceptively portray the acquisition of household furnishings as being owned upon purchase. It seems as though much of what we see, hear, or read pertains to the concept of ownership. And homes are far from being the exception to this principle! However, we as an entire populace need to come to the realization that life is not all about us. We need to care not only about ourselves, but also for the needs of the whole world. We need to care for the environment in which we thrive. Additionally, we need to recognize that we do not belong to ourselves. We are under the authority of God because He was the One who has brought us into existence. It is He who has created all the materials in which companies manufacture goods. He is the Divine Author of Life. Therefore, all things should be used in accordance to His divine will. We need to view things from the perspective of God, which in this particular case means that our homes were given to us for the purposes of combating spiritual darkness and being a shining light for the lost. Our homes can be a means by which the Lord Jesus Christ heals suffering. He satisfies all who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We worship God when we open our doors to outside people (James 1:27). We should be inviting other people into our lives, as God has allowed us to become His children.


        Why searching the Scriptures for truth ought to be considered a paramount task of discernment on our behalf is that the Bible is the God breathed textbook of the Christian religion. It is the standard by which we test all things. 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 respect (Leviticus 19:33-34). In the same manner, we cannot allow ourselves to be confirmed to the image of this world (Romans 12:1-2). We must love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 12:9-10). Christians have been called to exercise hospitality (Romans 12:13). We must show brotherly love (Hebrews 13:1-3). We must be hospitable to one another without grieving (1 Peter 4:9). This characteristic of holy conduct is even a requirement in order to be rightly ordained a bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-3). Furthermore, the Bible is the narrative of God offering us eternal hospitality in heaven out of His love for us (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:11-13). The truth of the matter is that our society is opposed to the spirit of the Great Commission. Rejecting opportunities to present the gospel by being hospitable is the equivalent of closing the door of salvation to possible converts, and can thereby depict the gospel as being for the self-righteous, narrow minded, and hypocritical. On the contrary, we must maintain the purity of the gospel by allowing people to be convinced through the examination of our godly character as they spend time with us.


        Using our homes as a means to reach other people with the gospel message should not be based on image management. We should not be afraid, hesitant, or embarrassed to share our personal lives with other people. We should not be concerned about factors such as having less than eye appealing furniture, the size of our houses, children, or even cooking quality. People have ordinary lives like we do, and can even take part in set up or cleaning sessions before or after group meetings. People do want to establish communication with us, but are unwilling to for the simple reason that they are discouraged by the current social trends of society. The goal behind inviting people over to stay in our dwelling places is bonding. This process of learning hospitality requires that we keep in remembrance the sovereignty of God, begin with people whom we know best (especially church brethren), and then focus on more distant acquaintances. But we must be the ones who are willing to initiate all this, for other people will not magically appear before our eyes. Weekly gatherings can comprise of a variety of activities such as game nights, watching sports, and movie nights. Even monthly or annual rhythms can be employed. Avoid bait-and-switch formulaic approaches to preaching the gospel to non-Christians. Know that the gospel is hope, not mere advice for living a lucrative life. We need to trust in the divine providence of God. We should listen carefully to our speakers. We should display interest. We should ask thought provoking questions, and speak when it is our turn to speak. Hospitality gives us the opportunity to make converts by sharing our testimonies. We can simply talk about trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, some people will reject the gospel message. Nevertheless, we must entrust to God our futile efforts to move the hardened hearts of other people to spiritual conversion.


        This essay has discussed how hospitality is a brilliant way of supporting the Cause of Christ, and is in fact a biblically sanctioned mandate. We must courageously take a public stand against the unhealthy, selfish trends promoted by society. We must step out of our comfort zones to fulfill our obligation of serving Jesus Christ. We cannot compromise the truths of the gospel. We must offer ourselves as spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God, just as Christ offered Himself up as an atonement sacrifice on a cross to save us from eternal condemnation in the literal flames of hell. We must welcome people into our homes, in the same manner that God has lovingly welcomed us into His heavenly kingdom. The notion of hospitality should not be perceived as some boring chore. We should treat these times of gathering as opportunities to kindly share the good news of God's mercy. Converts can be made through observing Christian example (when shown love, kindness, mercy, etc.). Converts can be made through planting seeds of faith in the minds of those who doubt, but it is God who causes all the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). All honor belongs to Him. And practicing biblical hospitality is certainly not undoable, as society has made it out to be.

The Power And Simplicity Of Gospel Preaching

“If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations…But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways…All he wanted was a few men who would think as he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world.”

David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, 87-88

Monday, November 20, 2017

Speaking The Truth In Love

         God's call for Christians to engage in apologetics is not by any means limited to a small group of self-proclaimed intellectual scholars, but is for all who believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of the Christian church to maintain the purity of the gospel because the Lord has entrusted to us this salvific task. We have been appointed by God to function as His representatives on earth through the ministry of reconciliation. However, many Christians worldwide, including pastors, have consciously given apologetics a poor reputation because too many have advanced contemporary methods arrogantly. Furthermore, this significant abandonment of studying logical Christian defense and has made our youth highly susceptible to the secularism being promoted in our educational institutions. If we do not take measures to readjust how we conduct apologetics and instruct the ignorant members of our churches concerning the importance of knowing the contents of our faith, then we are in essence undermining the Judeo-Christian worldview.

         To preface, it needs to be understood that we must take part in apologetics from a strictly biblical perspective. The most simplistic definition of the word "apologetics" means to give an answer, and we must provide biblically sound answers to questions concerning Christianity because we are serving as ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. Apologetics is not merely about persuading the critic or winning a debate. It is not constrained to "soul winning". Though these factors most certainly should be motivating intentions of being an apologist, the ultimate aim of apologetics is to glorify God in heaven by representing His kingdom on earth. It is not a means in itself (winning an argument for the sake of winning), but rather is a means to an end (glorifying God by advancing His kingdom). We should learn and understand the arguments of those who disagree with the Christian worldview. The repercussions of being overly closed-minded can only give other people the impression that the gospel calls them to be cruel, pompous, and hypocritical. Of course, such a portrayal of the biblical gospel message could not be further from the truth. We must treat our detractors with love. We need to respectfully answer objections to the faith without compromising the teachings of God's Word.

         Furthermore, we need to preach the unchangeable gospel of salvation to the world in a humble fashion because there exists a corresponding relationship between truth and love. Truth without love results in a puffed-up heart, whereas love unguided by truth produces empty sentimentality. Thus, partaking in Christian defense without adherence to this biblical principle would be futile. We must love our neighbor as ourselves (Romans 12:9-21). We must not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by disgraceful conduct (Ephesians 4:30-32). Our speech must be seasoned with salt (Colossians 3:8). We need to live out the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), as well as speak the truth in love (1 Peter 3:15). We must always keep a clear conscience, earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In short, this is what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The notion of glorifying God in thought, word, and deed is not just reserved for apologetics. It is our way of life. If we do not act in accordance with our profession of faith, then society will believe that we who profess to be Christian are actually not serious about practicing our religion. People will neither be attracted nor take us seriously if we do not live in accordance with the biblical morals, customs, and values that we claim to stand for. People will develop the terrible misconception that the Christian worldview is unlivable, and that it cannot provide a sense of hope, peace, and joy. If we are going to view walking the Christian walk as the top priority, then we must also make apologetics a top priority, since the Lord Jesus Christ clearly commissioned us to partake in both (Matthew 28:18-20).

         Perhaps the greatest way to refurbish the academic foundation of Christianity in our postmodern culture is to introduce to children being catechized the ancient trivium educational system that was originally employed by Greek and Roman societies. It works in three overlapping stages: 1.) what, 2.) why, and 3.) rhetoric. In other words, our youth need to be instructed concerning the essential articles of the faith, the underlying reasons for embracing Christian doctrine, and then transition to formulating logical responses in dialogue format. Methods for this avenue of religious inculcation may include but are by no means limited to reading Bible stories, gradually incorporating difficult excerpts from Christian literature into teaching, memorization of early church creeds, and even interview sessions with speakers from different ideological backgrounds. Questions should be encouraged, and people should learn how to reason out coherent answers to opposing arguments. Additionally, all of the aforementioned details on teaching apologetics to children can be applied equally to adults who do not have the training or experience of providing satisfactory answers to arguments touted by critics or questions raised by honest inquirers in our congregations. Indeed, this proposed threefold approach to studying apologetics sounds as if it may very well be a solution to the lack of religious zeal in our degenerate churches. If we do not know the contents of our faith, then we are making ourselves vulnerable to spiritual deception. And if we are not capable of providing reasons for upholding our belief systems, then why should we continue to believe in them?

         We live in an age where contending for the gospel should be of utmost importance, but many who profess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ have recoiled from the task that He has ordained us for. Many are simply too afraid to take up the risk of persecution for Christ's sake. We are truly living in a moral disaster. Few people know how to think for themselves. Few know how to conduct independent research. Moral perversions such as homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, and euthanasia are consuming the minds of the younger generations like wildfire. A lot of people (especially our youth) view the concept of truth as being relativistic in nature. Foundational articles of the Christian faith such as the Trinity and inspiration of Scripture have also been heavily challenged. All of this is an unspeakable series of misfortunes, and we Christians need to take the necessary steps to address these major predicaments, for ourselves and society. We have been commissioned by Christ to make disciples. We must give an answer to all who ask for the reason of the hope that is in us. We must do so in a loving, peaceful, compassionate manner. We must not relinquish fighting the good fight. We are not fighting a physical war, but a spiritual one. Apologetics, if applied appropriately, can strengthen our spiritual fortress of faith in Christ Jesus, as well as plant seeds of faith in the hearts of people who doubt.