Saturday, December 30, 2017

Primitive Churches Were Not Governed By A Pope

"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."

Jerome's commentary on Titus 1:7

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Critique Of The Secular Humanist Worldview

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a handful of excerpts (in bold) from a classic humanist manifesto 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.”

          It is interesting to note how the author of this book capitalizes the word nature. This could be interpreted to have religious connotations. It could even be argued that atheists themselves belong to a religion to which they themselves are their own gods. 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 with religious tendencies.

          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). Faith and reason walk together. 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 reduce the thinking processes of the human mind to 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. Selfhood would be an empty illusion!

          Life without God is meaningless. If the universe came into existence by mere coincidence, and we just so 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 components which constitute the physical and chemical composition of this planet. The universe itself most certainly has no compassion for life. Time would simply progress as we wait for the natural, appointed termination of our physical existence. No afterlife means having no ultimate sense of purpose or fulfillment.

          “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….”

           A Supreme Mind still could have created the universe by means of a giant cosmic explosion of expanding matter to accomplish the formation of animal species through evolutionary processes. Consequently, the "humanist thesis" does not really negate the possibility of supernatural creation. The universe and the human body are so complex that countless factors remain unexplained or unproven. It is completely wrong for one to assert that supernatural intervention in creation has been ruled out. Even if scientists did manage to successfully develop a scientific model that functions without God, proof of unnecessity is not proof of His nonexistence. Moreover, the biblical worldview presents us with a universe that absolutely depends on God for its existence.

          “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 suffice as an analysis of the above cited excerpt. 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.

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

           Can something come from nothing? Can meaningful and functional design arise from chaos? Can intelligence arise from non-intelligence? Can rationality arise from non-rationality? Can consciousness arise from non-consciousness?

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

          Is this not a circular argument (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? 

          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 itself 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 consistently on a moral relativistic worldview will be characterized by utter heathenism and barbarism.

          “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 (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?''

          It is unsurprising that atheists openly reject the notion of objective moral laws, since they are living in rebellion to the God who created them. The above quoted statements are symptomatic of a puffed-up heart. If individuals 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 building a civilization impossible?

Monday, December 11, 2017

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Response To Tim Staples On Sola Scriptura And 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  • Defining The Issues:
          -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 a number of weak and misguided assertions of conventional Roman Catholic apologists 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:
          -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, and commentaries may be used, insofar as they agree with the principles of Scripture. All uninspired authorities are to be subjugated to the judgment of the written Word of God because it is inspired by Him. This explanation constitutes the classical Sola Scriptura doctrine as upheld by the Protestant Reformers. 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 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 Christians to use.
  • 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. 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. It addresses everything we need to know about a life of godliness, with principles of application. 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 is absurd because it would be just like concluding from the phrase "all ex-cathedra statements are inspired by God" that all official papal decrees are inspired "only up to a certain point in history." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is not discussing the scope of the canon, but rather the purpose and origin of Scripture. The Apostle Paul was speaking of Scripture as a category. 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. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul had the future in mind as he mentioned the coming of false teachers.
          -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 can "every good work" mean?
          -The third argument is absurd because it is based on circular reasoning. The author has not proven that the traditions spoken of by Paul were uniquely Roman Catholic dogmas (click here for full discussion).
          -Neither does James 1:4 illustrate what the author of the article is trying to prove (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 (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. 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, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says, "The man of God is perfectly accoutred out of Scripture for his work, whether he be a minister (compare 2 Ti 4:2) or a spiritual layman." The New American Bible Revised Edition renders "man of God" as "one who belongs to God." This objection is absurd at face value. Why would Scripture function as a sufficient rule of faith for leadership, but not also for the average Christian in the pews?
  • Addressing The Charge Of Circular Reasoning:
          -Tim Staple's charge of Sola Scriptura being circular reasoning has already been addressed here and here. 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 Jesus Christ. The end result of Catholic logic on this matter is: "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.) That appealing to extra-biblical sources (date, authorship, doctrinal consistency, tradition, non-Christian works etc.) to affirm scriptural texts is not problematical for Sola Scriptura because that it not what it condemns, and 8.) That it was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D. that the Church of Rome had finally canonized its canon (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 Spirit.
  • Addressing The 33,000 Protestant Denominations Myth:
          -The 33,000 Protestant denominations claim is a blatant lie (see this article for more details). Why then are the folks at Catholic Answers still propagating this as an argument against Sola Scriptura? The following excerpt from the conclusion paragraph of the article at Catholic Answers 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."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

1 Corinthians 10:9 And The Deity Of Christ

"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."

Commentary from the New English Translation on 1 Corinthians 10:9

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 And The Deity Of Christ

        “All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4)

        In context, the Apostle Paul briefly brought into recollection events from the period of the Exodus. He alluded to the Jews who were freed from the authoritarian grasp of the Egyptian pharaoh and made to temporarily wander in the wilderness under the divine providence of God.

        The manna (“spiritual food”) and water which sprang forth from a rock smote by the rod of Moses (“spiritual drink”) were all supplied because of His supernatural intervention. The quoted rabbinic tradition gives us literary imagery of a flowing rock that lingered in the presence of the Israelites with the intention of enforcing the point that God continually guides our experiences.

        The rock reference is a typology of Jesus Christ, namely of His bold character and propitiatory sacrifice for the salvation of those who believe on Him. He is life to us. All things consist because of Him. He is the same Spiritual Rock and Lord who governed the nation of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:3-4; 39; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:32), and overthrew the people who put Him to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16; 1 Corinthians 10:9).

        Jesus Christ is co-eternal with the Father. He is God in the flesh. He possesses the fullness of His eternal glory. See also John 1:1-3.

Friday, November 10, 2017

For God So Loved The World

“The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that he gave.’ His love is not a vague, sentimental feeling, but a love that costs. God gave what was most dear to him.”

Morris, pp. 203-4, cited by Dr. Thomas Constable

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Secular Biologists Declare: ‘There Is No Sex Spectrum,’ Science and Medical Worlds Must ‘Stand Up for Reality of Biological Sex’

"Two secular biologists have penned an op-ed combating the notion that biological sex may be more than just male and female, and contending that gender identity ideology has “no basis in reality” but is rather harmful to society. They urged those in the science and medical fields to “stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex.”

“If male and female are merely arbitrary groupings, it follows that everyone, regardless of genetics or anatomy should be free to choose to identify as male or female, or to reject sex entirely in favor of a new bespoke ‘gender identity,'” wrote Colin Wright and Emma Hilton. “To characterize this line of reasoning as having no basis in reality would be an egregious understatement. It is false at every conceivable scale of resolution.”

Wright is an evolutionary biologist at Penn State University and Hilton is a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester.

They outlined that in both human and animal life, biological sex corresponds with reproductive anatomy and the subsequent use of sex cells — whether egg or sperm — to reproduce.

“No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex spectrum or additional sexes beyond male and female,” Wright and Hilton wrote. “Sex is binary.”

While intersex individuals, those who were born with ambiguous reproductive organs, do exist and are very much a rarity, they are “neither a third sex nor proof that sex is a spectrum or a social construct.”

The biologists opined that rejecting biological sex for subjective “gender identity” is detrimental to society as it abrogates the work of those who have sought, for example, protections for women — if being a woman is simply up to an individual’s feelings.

“Women have fought hard for sex-based legal protections. Female-only spaces are necessary due to the pervasive threat of male violence and sexual assault. Separate sporting categories are also necessary to ensure that women and girls don’t have to face competitors who have acquired the irreversible performance-enhancing effects conferred by male puberty,” they wrote.

https://christiannews.net/2020/02/20/secular-biologists-declare-there-is-no-sex-spectrum-science-and-medical-worlds-must-stand-up-for-reality-of-biological-sex/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Our Actions Have Lasting Consequences

“Still, there will be a connection with the long past-a reference to forgotten events and personages, and to manners, feelings, and opinions, almost or wholly obsolete-which, if adequately translated to the reader, would serve to illustrate how much of old materials goes up to make the freshest novelty of human life. Hence, to, might be drawn a weighty lesson from the little regarded truth, that the act of the passing generation is the germ which may and must bear good or evil fruit in a far-distant time; that, with the seed of the merely temporary crop, which morals term expediency, they inevitably sow the acorns of a more enduring growth, which may darkly overshadow their posterity.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, p. 2

The Uniqueness Of Biblical Sexuality

“In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time-exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage-and marital sexuality-with love.”

Rod Dreher, Sex After Christianity, Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time

Monday, October 30, 2017

Does 1 Peter 3:19 Support The Roman Catholic Dogma Of Purgatory?

        "In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:19)

        Some Catholics have interpreted the text of 1 Peter 3:19 to mean that Jesus Christ descended into Purgatory for admonition purposes. In other words, a number of Catholic apologists have identified the "spirits in prison" to be professing Christians suffering in the purifying flames of purgatory.

        This text is not referring to human beings suffering in Purgatory, but rather concerns Christ descending into Hades for the purpose of proclaiming His victory to the fallen angels. It means that the same Holy Spirit of God who resurrected Jesus Christ from the grave also enabled Him to use Noah as an instrument to preach repentance to other men during his earthly lifespan (during the construction of the ark which took place prior to the Genesis flood).

        Jesus preached the message of His triumph over sin and death to the fallen angels who have been imprisoned since the time of the flood. 1 Peter 3:19 is referring to a place for nonbelievers. The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote:

        "3, 19: The spirits in prison: It is not clear just who these spirits are. They may be the spirits of the sinners who died in the flood, or angelic powers, hostile to God, who have been overcome by Christ (ch 22; Gn 6, 4; Enoch 6-36, especially 21, 6; 2 Enoch 7, 1-5)."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Myth That Religion Causes War

        It has been commonly charged by atheists that most wars throughout the history of mankind were enacted in the name of religion. In other words, it is argued that the greatest amount of lives lost in the pages of previous ages was due to zealous religious people attempting to conquer other nations for the sake of their gods. Many atheists reason that if no religions existed, then the world would function peacefully because there would also cease to be controversy over the validity of contradictory sets of religions customs, traditions, and practices. The claim that religion is the number one cause of war has been advanced to give people the impression that the freethinker worldview is optimistically plausible. However, this idea is untenable.

        It is fallacious to paint all religions as being morally bankrupt. Moreover, this argument is historically inaccurate. Robin Schumacher noted the following,

        "An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%."

        In his work titled Lethal Politics and Death by Government, Professor R. J. Rummel noted that death in battle was not usually inspired in the name of religion, but rather that naturalistic philosophies were the primary cause. Though religions may be used by governments to influence a large population of a people to wage war, that still does not make religion the cause of war. Logically speaking, wars have oftentimes been fought among groups who adhere to the same religion. Consider, as an example, the American Civil War. Battles are, for the most part, conducted strictly for secular purposes, which can include but are not limited to controlling foreign territories or obtaining resources. Therefore, governments are the source of war, not religions.

        The idea of war is not limited to the scope of the human race. In other words, the notion of battle can even be found within the organizational ranks of the animal kingdom, from ants, to bees, and to monkeys. If religion is the cause of all wars, then would this not mean that animals have the intellectual and rational capacities to subscribe to a belief system? Consider also, that relatively few atheistic societies have existed throughout history. That fact in itself speaks volumes against the claim that religion is the cause of all wars because it renders impossible the process of comparing religious and secular societies.

        If it is true that religions can inspire people to act viciously, then it is also follows that the concept can influence people to act in accordance to what is morally good. Christianity is a religion that has been founded on principles of love, hope, generosity, and peace. Thus, one would have to be terribly misguided to assume that religion is inherently evil. Furthermore, we cannot consistently affirm the existence of moral values without a supernatural Law Giver. If we choose to abide by the relativistic moral code enforced by the secular worldview, then it follows that truth can be self-contradictory and thereby self-refuting. If we cannot uphold objective morals, then neither can we uphold objective human rights. There would also be no such thing as value, certainty, or purpose. In short, a society that tries to function independently of God's presence will inevitably collapse internally. Nevertheless, we can never condone the establishment of atheistic governments in the twentieth century that treacherously usurped power and inhumanly murdered several million innocent people. So it is incumbent to understand why religion is an indispensable support for continual survival of the human race.

        The assertion that religion is the cause of all wars is historically inaccurate, as well as it is philosophically indefensible. Governments cause war, not Christianity. All quarrels originate from the inherently lustful nature of the human heart (James 4:1-2). In fact, secular societies are more guilty of taking innocent lives. Consider the examples of non-religious dictators such as Hitler (a moral relativist), Stalin, Karl Marx, and Mao Zedong. The evidence clearly does not point in favor of the theory that most people throughout history have died in the name of spreading their religions.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Evidence For Darwinian Evolution And Fossils

  • Defining Transitional Fossils:
          -Evolutionists are notorious for claiming that they have found definitive proof for Darwinism through transitional fossils, which are organismal remains that purportedly reveal characteristic, behavioral, and adaptive transformations of animal species within the fossil record. In other words, they are fossils that inherited shared traits from ancestral groups. Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution maintains that descendant groups of organisms exhibit similar features from derived ancestral relatives. The express purpose of transitional fossils, also referred to as missing links, is to provide scientists with information regarding historical evolutionary trends. This concept is regularly illustrated through colorful diagrams in our science textbooks (transition series from ape-like species to human beings).
  • There Is No Such Thing As A Transitional Fossil:
          -Contrary to the widely promulgated Darwinian conviction that all fossils are transitional, scientists have never really discovered fossils going through intermediary stages of metamorphosis to become different animal species. We have neither found nor observed animals that were only half way or three fourths complete with an evolutionary process. What has been confirmed through the study of the natural world is the constant pattern of animals having complete anatomies and procreation after their own kindred. Thus, the overwhelming evidence that has been compiled against the Theory of Evolution has literally forced its advocates to desperately misinterpret fossil data to match currently hypothesized evolutionary models. It has rightly been said that Darwinists have mainly based their transitional diagrams on artistic proficiency. Now, this type of reasoning is purely pseudoscience. In fact, the claim that fossils lend irrefutable support to Darwinian notions is not an argument at all. It merely assumes the existence of transitional fossils and the validity of evolution to work backwards in proving that all presently existing remains of formerly flourishing organisms are transitional in nature. In other words, evolution has been used to prove evolution. Circular arguments are, by definition, irrational. Even if we grant the premises that all fossils accurately resemble their laboratory reconstructions and find sequences vindicating evolution, these factors would still not assist atheists in furnishing a case for their belief in macroevolution because there is no available method of determining which fossils are related. The fossil record can, at best, be consistent with Darwinism. We can also interpret the world to the exclusion of the evolutionary framework through the investigation of chemical, climate, and genetic reasons.
  • Consider This Excerpt From Creation Today Commenting On The Severe Lack Of Transitional Fossils Which Darwinists Need In Order To Substantiate Their Theory Of Evolution:
          -"One of the most powerful pieces of evidence against evolution is the fossil record. If evolution occurred by slow, minute changes in living creatures, there would be thousands of times more transitional forms of these creatures in the fossil beds than complete forms. Since the billions of fossils that have been found are all complete forms, the obvious conclusion is: Evolution never occurred! Though evolutionists have stated that there are many transitional forms, this is simply not true. What evolutionists claim to be transitional forms all have fully functional parts. A true transitional form would have non-functioning parts or appendages, such as the nub of a leg or wing."
  • N. Heribert Nilsson, Who Is A Botanist, Evolutionist, And Professor At Lund University in Sweden, Admits That The Fossil Record Lends Absolutely No Credence To The Darwinian Hypothesis:
          -"My attempts to demonstrate evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed...The fossil material is now so complete that it has been possible to construct new classes, and the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as being due to scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled."
  • Dr. Colin Patterson, A Senior Paleontologist At The British Museum Of Natural History, Said Concerning The Lack Of Evidence For Transitional Fossils:
          -"I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil of living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualize such transitions, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it...Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of Darwin's authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it. Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils...It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favored by natural selection. But such stories are not parts of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test." (correspondence w. Sunderland)
  • As A Matter Of Fact, Charles Darwin Himself Recognized This Significant Dilemma For His Postulation In His Famous Book Titled The Origin Of The Species: 
          -"If evolution had actually taken place we should expect that the fossils would provide evidence of a continuous gradual evolution of life from a simple original organism to complex advanced forms. There are countless millions of fossils out there, but they tend to fall into major groups and intermediates expected between these major groups are not there. This is one of the strong scientific arguments indicating that evolution from simple to complex never occurred."
          -"Darwin attempted to save his theory of gradual evolution by maintaining that intermediate fossils are not found because of “the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”69 Even Gould noted that Darwin’s argument that the fossil record is imperfect “persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution directly.”70 But in the last few decades, this excuse has lost credibility."
  • David B. Kitts, A Former Student Of George Gaylord Simpson, Said That Fossils At Best Can At Best Be Consistent With The Evolutionary Worldview:
          -“Few paleontologists have, I think, ever supposed that fossils, by themselves, provide grounds for the conclusion that evolution has occurred. The fossil record doesn’t even provide any evidence in support of Darwinian theory except in the weak sense that the fossil record is compatible with it, just as it is compatible with other evolutionary theories, and revolutionary theories, and special creationist theories, and even ahistorical theories.” (“Search for the Holy Transformation,” Paleobiology (Vol. 5; Summer 1979), p 353)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Have No Fellowship With Sin

        "Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

        Originally, the Apostle Paul wrote his first epistle to the Church of Corinth in response to the divisions which formed as a result of pride. Disputes arose from within this group of people as a result of their sinful hearts. Individual members who made up the population of the Corinthian church were ensnared to fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, idolatry, and a host of other carnal behaviors. Another major problem that caused division within the Church at Corinth was the rejection of Jesus Christ's resurrection. This led up to Paul pronouncing the saying being examined here. The apostle was telling his audience to avoid the people who denied that Christ rose bodily from the grave. Moreover, we can infer from this text something about the nature of evil. It is contagious. In other words, sin can infect the human conscience in the same manner that a virus can invade cells of the human body. If we do not flee from its presence, then our ability to discern what is good versus evil becomes tarnished. We find ourselves within the grasp of sin. Sin can take over our lives, and has been proven to be deadly to the souls of many.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

C.S. Lewis On Reasoning To Atheism

"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity, p. 12

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lust Is The Antithesis Of Love

"Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust—whether it’s a young co-worker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car—represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings. Lust always breeds more lust. “What is the source of the wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” (James 4:1 HCSB). Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness."

Stephen and Alex Kendrick, “The Love Dare,” p. 117

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Definitive Case Against The Roman Catholic Apocrypha

  • Introduction:
          -A major source of division between Roman Catholics and Protestants is the numbering of books that should officially be included in the Bible. While the Protestant canon of Scripture is comprised of sixty-six books, the Roman Catholic Old Testament contains seven additional books. The seven disputed books that the Church of Rome embraces are Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and Baruch. Also, translators of the Catholic Bibles have incorporated a few extra verses into the protocanonical texts of Daniel and Esther. While Roman Catholics confidently parade this volume of ancient writings (the term "Deuterocanonicals" was first used in the sixteenth century) as being canonical Scripture, the truth of the matter is that there are solid reasons for rejecting the apocrypha as being a product of divine inspiration.
  • Rejection Of The Apocrypha By The Jews:
          -The apocryphal books were never included in the Hebrew canon of Scripture. Jesus Christ spoke of the Law and Prophets (Matthew 7:12; 22:40; Luke 16:16). He also affirmed the threefold division of the Jewish canon (Luke 24:44). The deuterocanonicals were written during a time when no prophets were alive (1 Maccabees 4:41-46; 9:27). The Jews were the ones most acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, since they were the ones who wrote them. The Jewish historian Josephus rejected the apocrypha as inspired.
  • The Divine Inspiration Of The Roman Catholic Apocrypha Was Denied By Many In The Early Church:
          -Contrary to the popular proclamations made by Roman Catholic apologists, the early Christians were far from unanimous regarding whether the Apocrypha should be included in the canon of Scripture. Members of the church throughout history such as Julius Africanus, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Athanasius, Ruffinus, John of Damascus, Epiphanius, and Cardinal Cajetan rejected the deuterocanonical books as being inspired. Sometimes people would accept one apocryphal book while rejecting the inspiration of another. Pope Gregory the Great, speaking of the Maccabees, said, "...we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forth testimony" (Commentary on Job, 19, 34). Athanasius wrote, "There are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however, are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias..." (Thirty-ninth festal letter, 367). "Theologians of the Eastern Church, such as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Amphilochius drew up formal lists of the Old Testament in which the Apocrypha do not appear." (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 179) While the patristic writers did indeed cite from extra-biblical writings, quotation of a source in itself does not imply acceptance into the canon or belief in divine inspiration. It was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 that the Apocrypha was officially deemed to be a part of the Roman Catholic canon. The online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says, “In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. There is a current friendly to them, another one distinctly unfavourable to their authority and sacredness, while wavering between the two are a number of writers whose veneration for these books is tempered by some perplexity as to their exact standing, and among those we note St. Thomas Aquinas. Few are found to unequivocally acknowledge their canonicity” (Under “Canon of the Old Testament”). "From the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament an Old Latin Version was made, which of course also contained the Apocryphal books among the canonical books. It is not strange, therefore, that Greek and Latin Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria (none of whom knew any Hebrew), quote the Apocrypha with the same formulas of citation as they use when referring to the books of the Old Testament. The small amount of Fathers, however, who either had some personal knowledge of Hebrew (e.g. Origen and Jerome) or had made an effort to learn what the limits of the Jewish canon were (e.g. Melito of Sardis) were usually careful not to attribute canonicity to the Apocryphal books, though recognizing they contain edifying material suitable for Christians to read." (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 178)
  • 2 Maccabees Contains A Reference To The Unbiblical Practice Of Praying For The Dead:
          -"He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin." (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)
          -Michael F. Ross notes the following on 2 Maccabees 12:39-46: "...the passage is self-contradictory and inconsistent. It states that these dead “had gone to rest in godliness” (v. 45), but then it tells us that these dead warriors were idolaters, killed by God due to their idolatry." (https://www.equip.org/article/is-purgatory-a-biblical-concept/)
  • 2 Maccabees Contains A Reference In Which Suicide Is Commended:
          -But when the troops, on the point of capturing the tower, were forcing the outer gate and calling for fire to set the door ablaze, Razis, now caught on all sides, turned his sword against himself, preferring to die nobly rather than fall into the hands of vile men and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. In the excitement of the struggle he failed to strike exactly. So while the troops rushed in through the doors, he gallantly ran up to the top of the wall and courageously threw himself down into the crowd." (2 Maccabees 14:41-43)
  • 2 Maccabees Contains Two Contradictory Accounts Of The Death Of Antiochus Epiphanes In The Same Book:
          -Was Antiochus “cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea’s priests” (2 Maccabees 1:13-16)? Or was he “taken with a noisome sickness...ended his life among the mountains by a most piteous fate in a strange land” (2 Maccabees 9:19-29)?
  • The Consumption Of Magic Potions Is Prescribed In Tobit: 
          -"The angel then told him: “Slit the fish open and take out its gall, heart, and liver, and keep them with you; but throw away the other entrails. Its gall, heart, and liver are useful for medicine.” After Tobiah had slit the fish open, he put aside the gall, heart, and liver. Then he roasted and ate part of the fish; the rest he salted and kept for the journey. Afterward the two of them traveled on together till they drew near to Media. Then the young man asked the angel this question: “Brother Azariah, what medicine is in the fish’s heart, liver, and gall?” He answered: “As for the fish’s heart and liver, if you burn them to make smoke in the presence of a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, any affliction will flee and never return. As for the gall, if you apply it to the eyes of one who has white scales, blowing right into them, sight will be restored.” (Tobit 6:5-9)
          -Contrast this incident with other instances of illness in the Bible: "Nebuchadnezzar's madness was a rare but authentic clinical condition called boanthropy. "Made-up" miracle stories contain outrageous elements with no clinical analogy (e.g. in Tb 2:9-10, another Apocryphal book, Tobit goes blind because of sparrow droppings in his eyes." (Archaeological Study Bible, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Duane Garrett general editors)
  • The Apocryphal Additions To Daniel Are Not Canonical Scripture
          -"Daniel, Apocryphal Additions to the Greek translation of Daniel, like that of Esther, contain several pieces which are not found in the original text. The most important of these additions are contained in the Apocrypha of the English Bible under the titles of The Song of the Tree Holy Children, The History of Susanna, and The History of...Bel and the Dragon -1. a. The first of these pieces is incorporate into the narrative of Daniel After who three confessors were thrown into the furnace (Dan. iii. 23), Azarias is represented praying to God for deliverance (Song of Three Children, 3-22); and in answer the angel of the Lord shields them from the fire which consumes their enemies (23-27), whereupon "the three, as out of one mouth," raise a triumphant song (29-68), of which a chief part (35-66) has been used as a hymn in the Christian Church since the 4th century. b. The two other pieces appear more distinctly as appendices, and offer no semblance of forming part of the original text. The History of Susanna (or The Judgement of Daniel) is generally found at the beginning of the book (Gk. MSS. Vet. Lal); though it also occurs after the 12th chapter ( Vulg. ed. Compl.). The History of Bel and the Dragon is placed at the end of the book; and in the LXX. version it bears a special heading as "part of the prophecy of Habakkuk." 2. The additions are found in both the Greek texts, the LXX. and Theodotion, in the Old Latin and Vulgate, and in the existing Syriac and Arabic versions. On the other hand there is no evidence that they ever formed part of the Hebrew text, and they were originally wanting in the Syriac.3. Various conjectures have been made as to the origin of the additions. It has been supposed that they were derived from Aramaic originals, but the character of the additions themselves indicates rather the hand of an Alexandrine writer; and it is not unlikely that the translator of Daniel wrought up traditions which were already current, and appended them to his work." (William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 188)
  • The Inclusion Of The Deuterocanonical Books In Later Versions Of The Septuagint Does Not Translate Into Evidence Of Them Being Canonical:
          -The only noteworthy support for the deuterocanonical books is that they were included in copies of the Septuagint. However, some Septuagint manuscripts also included writings such as the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, and the Psalms of Solomon. Yet, these are not found in any Roman Catholic translations of the Bible. So the mere fact that the Apocrypha may have been included in Septuagint translations does not prove this collection of books to be inspired by God.
          -"...many Protestant scholars have noted that while the Septuagint was first translated several centuries before the time of Christ, it apparently was not until after Christ that the Apocrypha was appended into this translation. We know of no Septuagint manuscripts earlier than the fourth century that contain the Apocrypha, suggesting that the Apocrypha was not in the original Septuagint. But even if a first-century manuscript were found with the Apocrypha in the Septuagint, that still does not mean the Apocrypha belongs in the canon." (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 39)
  • The Roman Catholic Church Did Not Declare The Apocrypha As Being Canonical Until The Council Of Trent In 1546. It Did So With The Intention Of Establishing Scriptural Support For Its Unbiblical Traditions:
          -"St. Jerome distinguished between canonical books and ecclesiastical books. The latter he judged were circulated by the Church as good spiritual reading but were not recognized as authoritative Scripture. The situation remained unclear in the ensuing centuries...For example, John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado continued to doubt the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Canon)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Lesson From The Book Of Micah

          "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8)

          From this text of Scripture, we learn that God expects us to be a righteous people. Authentic transformation of the human heart from a sinful state requires the grace of God. Our words and actions make plain to others whether or not such has happened. People who truly love God will by His grace align themselves with His will. "To do justly" means to treat our neighbors in a fair and honest way. "To love mercy" presupposes devotion to the precepts of God which thereby offers vindication of our profession to know Him. The phrase "to walk humbly with thy God" denotes having the proper desire to serve Him. We do not look down on other people as if we are better than they. We must worship God in sincerity and truth.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Thought-Provoking Quote From Sherlock Holmes

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four

This saying about remaining unbiased when searching for truth is valuable, especially when applied to contexts in which atheists go to great lengths to deny the existence of the miraculous.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Is The Relationship Between Doubt And Certainty?

        Certainty entails knowing beyond a reasonable doubt that something is the case or reliable. Doubt is the exact opposite, involving that which is vague or unclear. We need to doubt in order to obtain certainty.

        Discernment is the process of investigating presented options in any given scenario by eliminating all other possible choices to reach a final verdict on that which best corresponds with goodness and truth.

        If we learn to discern correctly, then we have a foundation on which to build in life. Things will have purpose and light.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Science And Underlying Philosophical Presuppositions

"Supporting the paradigm may even require what in other contexts would be called deception. As Niles Eldredge candidly admitted, “We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports [the story of gradual adaptive change], all the while knowing it does not.” Eldredge explained that this pattern of misrepresentation occurred because of “the certainty so characteristic of evolutionary ranks since the late 1940s, the utter assurance not only that natural selection operates in nature, but that we know precisely how it works.” This certainty produced a degree of dogmatism that Eldredge says resulted in the relegation of paleontologists to the “lunatic fringe” who reported that “they saw something out of kilter between contemporary evolutionary theory, on the one hand, and patterns of change in the fossil record on the other.” Under the circumstances, prudent paleontologists understandably swallowed their doubts and supported the ruling ideology. To abandon the paradigm would be to abandon the scientific community; to ignore the paradigm and just gather the facts would be to earn the demeaning label of “stamp collector” (i.e., one who does not theorize)."

Phillip E. Johnson, Objections Sustained, p. 25

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Biblical Presentation On Penal Substitutionary Atonement

  • Defining Vicarious Atonement:
          -Vicarious Atonement, which is also known as substitutionary atonement, means that Jesus Christ died in our place for sin. He bore the punishment of God's wrath that we deserve. He suffered in our place. He paid an infinite debt that we could never pay. The one sacrifice of Christ was a perfect, eternal sacrifice which satisfied God's wrath and righteousness. Justification is not by works of righteousness, but by faith in His work (Romans 3:27-28).
  • We Are Declared Righteous Through The Righteousness Of Jesus Christ:
          -"The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification." (Romans 5:16)
          -"For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)
  • We Are Justified By An Alien Righteousness, That Is, The Righteousness Of God:
          -"But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile." (Romans 3:21-22)
          -"Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness." (Romans 10:3)
          -"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." (Philippians 3:8-9)
  • Jesus Christ Became Righteousness On Our Behalf Through His Atonement Sacrifice:
          -"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
          -It is worth noting in this text how the Apostle Paul distinguishes between "righteousness" and "sanctification."
  • Jesus Christ Bore The Punishment Of Sin On Our Behalf:
          -"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
  • Our Righteousness Is Based On The Righteousness Of God:
          -"Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
          -"In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness." (Jeremiah 33:16)
  • The Offering Of Jesus Christ, Which Perfects Those Who Are Being Sanctified, Logically Entails Him Making Atonement For Sin In Our Place: 
          -"And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Roman Catholic Apologists And Circular Reasoning

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -Following are comments from a brief exchange with a Catholic apologist who goes by the name of De Maria on the issue of Sola Scriptura and defining the Trinity alongside with a critique of my own:

          "...that Sacred Tradition came before the New Testament. And this Sacred Tradition was passed down by Christ, through His Church. All you have for your side is denial of the truth (Matthew 28:16-20)."

           Sola Scriptura is not a denial that the New Testament Scriptures were originally taught orally.

          The problem is that De Maria is unable to come up with a spiritual standard which judges the validity of "Sacred Tradition," apart from the say-so of the Bishop of Rome (circular reasoning). How does he know that the pope possesses the gift of infallibility?

          "On the contrary, the infallible authority of the Catholic Church is proven by Scripture. You can object all that you want, but Scripture doesn't advise us to go to Scripture alone to learn the Faith of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:7)..."

          In what manner does Scripture support the alleged infallible authority of the Catholic Church, apart from the interpretations of Scripture which Rome commands its members to use when questioned about their faith (circular reasoning)?

          How can we submit to leaders in God's church, if we do not have an established standard to judge the validity of their claims? Even Mormons could cite Hebrews 13:7 in telling us to submit to their leadership. 

           Scripture does not tell us to adhere to any other rule of faith as a means of testing doctrine. The only thing that the Bible calls "God-breathed" is itself (2 Timothy 3:16).

          "No, Jesse. The Teachings of Scripture reflect Apostolic Tradition. Apostolic Tradition came first. The New Testament was written based upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ. Not the other way around."

          How can we know with any degree of certainty which oral traditions are inspired (not just because the "pope said so")?

          "No one said the relationship was supplementary. That is your straw man argument."

          Who is De Maria to affirm that the material sufficiency view is the *official* position of the Roman Catholic Church? Consider these excerpts from Catholic sources:

          “. . . the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” (CCC # 82)

          "Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice." (James Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 72)

          "...oral revelation serves as an additional source of revelation alongside the written word” (Robert Sungenis, Not By Scripture Alone, p. 126)

           Why should we believe De Maria over anyone else?

          "On the contrary, the New Testament records the customs, Traditions and Doctrines that were already in place. Here's a very simple proof. Answer this question and don't ignore it. Was the Doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ written before or after Christ was resurrected? Answer it, Jesse. Don't ignore it. Because it is obvious from the Gospels, that Jesus Christ taught His Resurrection long before it was ever written down."

          Nobody denies that the New Testament teachings (for example, the resurrection) were originally taught orally, but aspects of the redemptive work of Christ were already prefigured in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53). The Gospel in its entirety has been accurately preserved and recorded into the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The problem here is that Roman Catholics are unable to come up with a spiritual standard that judges the validity of "Sacred Tradition," apart from the say-so of the Magisterium, which is circular reasoning.

          "ON the contrary, it is you who is guilty of circular thinking. Your entire process is, "because the bible tells me so." But the Catholic Church goes by the true Bible Teaching. Which is, because we know from Tradition and Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6)."

          The charge of Sola Scriptura being circular reasoning is false, as this article shows:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/02/is-sola-scriptura-based-on-circular.html

          The ultimate argument offered by the Roman Catholic Church is that we must accept the canon of Scripture because it said so. But how can we even know that the Roman Catholic Church (or its interpretations of Scripture) are infallible (apart from the occupation of circular reasoning)? This is not an unfair question to ask. It is also not hard to understand.

          "Because Christ appointed the Catholic Church as the Teacher of His Doctrines...Our Church is infallible because Jesus Christ said so (Matthew 16:18)...."

         De Maria is simply making a circular argument based on the text of Matthew 16:18 by resorting to the Roman Catholic Church's interpretation of that scriptural text. How can we know which oral traditions are of divine inspiration?

        "You are simply ungrateful about the fact that it is from the Catholic Church that you learned all that you know about the Holy Trinity."

          The Council of Nicaea simply submitted itself to the supreme authority of Scripture as it defined the doctrine of the Trinity.

          Why should we bother with submitting to the "Holy See" when people like De Maria invest time into didactically lecturing us on the official Church doctrine? How can he prejudge me as being ungrateful for anything?

          "And of course, your entitled to your opinion. But I have proven that your opinion, is false."

          De Maria's arguments fall short of anything but proof. It does not appear that there is a way for the Papacy to circumvent the charge of circular reasoning.

          Karl Keating, in his book titled Catholicism and Fundamentalism, posits that the Roman Catholic Church does not argue in a circular fashion, but instead uses "spiral reasoning." But his attempt at rebuttal does not work for the reason that it itself is an instance of begging the question.

           The Roman Catholic Church claims that only it can correctly interpret the Bible. In other words, the Church's interpretations of Scripture are correct because it declares them to be such. How circular that must be, especially when we are not allowed to examine the truthfulness of that particular religious organization's claims for ourselves!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Interaction With The Synoptic Problem

  • Why Do The Four Gospels Contain Differences?:
          -The reasons for the differences between the gospel accounts is not that they disapproved of each other's content. Rather, they were writing with a slightly different theological emphasis or intended audience. Matthew, for example, wrote mostly to Jews. Luke is more accessible to Gentiles. There were differences in reporting, which is only natural for reporters as they have biases and different perspectives. There were different points of emphasis. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to include certain content. John himself wrote, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). The point is that Jesus Christ did many things; certain details were included while others were not. If the material of the four gospels was a fabrication, then we should expect very few dissimilarities in reporting. If the four gospels were exactly the same in terms of content, then there would be no need to have more than one narrative of the life of Christ. 
  • The Gospel According To Matthew: 
          -The Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of convincing the Jews that Jesus Christ is their promised Messiah and legitimate King. Matthew's narrative contains more quotations from the Old Testament demonstrating how Jesus fulfilled Old Covenant prophecies than any of the other three gospel accounts. It also traces His ancestral lineage from King David. In addition, Matthew utilizes language from the Old Testament that the Jewish people would have been more comfortable with hearing. For example, he describes God as the "living God" in Matthew 16:18.
  • The Gospel According To Mark:
          -The Gospel of Mark was originally directed to Gentile Christians, most particularly those who were thriving in the midst of persecution under the Roman Empire. Terms such as "census" (Mark 12:14) and "denarius" (Mark 12:15) are consistent with such an audience. This short biographical narrative of our Lord Jesus Christ was written for the purposes of building up the faith of fellow brethren and teaching what it really means to be a disciple. In this narrative, Christ seemingly keeps His true identity hidden and reveals Himself as the Son of Man. His character is a point of consideration. Peter's confession of faith was also emphasized (Mark 8:27-9:1). Tradition has it that Mark was a companion of the Apostle Peter and wrote a narrative based on his eyewitness testimony. He was reputed by Paul to be of benefit in ministry (Colossians 4:10).
  • The Gospel According To Luke:
          -The Gospel of Luke strives to bring into light "all that Jesus began to do and teach" (Acts 1:1-2). It was intended to be an accurate, organized narrative that gives readers certainty regarding the teachings of and events concerning Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-4). The composition is concise. The Greek is of a superior quality. Moreover, this book oftentimes records details that were omitted in the other gospel narratives. Consider, for instance, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Another example would be the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). This chronicle which was authored by a Gentile physician and historian named Luke presents Christ as showing compassion to all people of different societal classes. This gospel places a special emphasis on woman that is unique for its time. It has been reputed by some to be the most beautiful work ever written. "The ancient opinion, that Luke wrote his Gospel under the influence of Paul, rests on the authority of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius. The two first assert that we have in Luke the Gospel preached by Paul ; Origen calls it " the Gospel quoted by Paul," alluding to Rom. ii.16; and Eusebius refers Paul's words, "according to my Gospel" (2 Tim. ii. 8), to that of Luke, in which Jerome concurs. The language of the preface is against the notion of any exclusive influence of St. Paul. The four verses could not have been put at the head of a history composed under the exclusive guidance of Paul or of any one apostle, and as little could they have introduced a gospel simply communicated by another." (William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 492)
  • The Gospel According To John:
          -Rather than providing us with a chronological listing of the major events that took place during the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the Gospel of John is to reinforce His divinity. It speaks of Christ as the eternal Logos who took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1). Moreover, this particular narrative was written to build up faith through the recording of His miracles (John 20:30-31). The Gospel according to John occupies metaphors such as "bread of life," "born again," and "living water," none of which can be found in the other three gospels. In summary, this book has been reputed by many to be the "evangelistic gospel." It is very much distinct from the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Praying To Departed Saints Is Unbiblical

  • Introduction: 
          -The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, and certain Lutherans and Anglicans believe that we can pray to and receive help from certain saints (and even angels) in heaven. In other words, these professing Christians maintain that God has enabled heavenly figures to intercede on our behalf before God in heaven and offer assistance for nearly every aspect of human life.
  • A Practice That Is Not Consistent With The Biblical Pattern Of Prayer:
          -Throughout Scripture, there are literally dozens of references to prayer (Matthew 6:6-14; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 11:1-4; John 14:14; John 17; Psalm 25; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; 1 Kings 8; Colossians 3:16-17; Acts 7:51-58; James 1:5-6; Romans 10:1; 15:30; etc.), and all were directed to Him alone. Furthermore, the theme of the Bible is trusting in God alone (Matthew 6:25-34; Jeremiah 33:3; Isaiah 48:17-18; Psalm 23; 50:15; 71:1; 91:15; Joshua 1:1-6; Ephesians 5:19-20; John 16:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; etc.). We have no examples in the Bible of calling on entities other than God, with the exception being pagans. We never see God approving of the practice of praying to departed saints. Instead, we are told that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 24:4; Nahum 1:2). He will tolerate no idolatry. If we are going to be consistent with the principles of Scripture (which we ought to be), then we are forced to conclude that all prayer and religious devotion belongs to God alone.
  • Can Believers In Heaven Really Hear Us?:
          -It is impossible for finite beings with inherently limited abilities to simultaneously hear the requests of every person around the world in different languages. Only deity can perform such tasks. If saints are able to answer our prayers, then the uniqueness of God has been compromised and the self-sufficiency of Christ's work diminished. Notice that in Scripture, all occasions involving two-way communication between or among beings from heaven (with the exception, or course, being God) and earth required the creations to be in the same realm (earth on earth communication), rather than being in two separate realms (heaven to earth contact is never found in Scripture for mere finite beings). Consider the examples of the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration. This is perhaps the clearest indication from Scripture that saints who are in heaven are incapable of receiving prayers from earth.
  • Unnecessary Assistance:
          -We do not need any support from Mary and the saints in heaven because Jesus Christ always intercedes for our prayer requests and is able to rescue sinners from eternal condemnation in hell (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). His intercession alone is sufficient. Moreover, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength that we need during our times of spiritual weakness and also intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26). We can approach God with "boldness" and "confidence" as a result of our trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16). Only God knows all of the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (1 Kings 8:37-39; 2 Chronicles 6:30). Consequently, praying to saints in heaven to grant our prayer requests is pointless because they do not have the same abilities that God has.
          -"The church appears to have painted itself into a theological corner. In trying not to detract from Christ, its theologians have so defined the role of Mary as to make it entirely indispensable: everything we need we get from Christ. If that's the case, what is the point or importance of Mary's mediation? One the other hand, the oft-heard affirmation that Mary can influence her Son to help us necessarily implies that the Son otherwise would be less disposed to do so. In fact, the very concept of a mediator presupposes that there are differences that need to be reconciled between two parties. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that, apart from Mary's mediation, Christ himself would not be perfectly reconciled to us. All this seriously compromises the integrity of his high priesthood. The church is stuck in a hopeless dilemma wherein either Mary's role is rendered superfluous, or the all-sufficiency of Christ's mediation is diminished. In trying to avoid either of these perceived pitfalls, it has fallen headlong into both." (Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples, The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary, p. 56)
  • Why The Charge That Roman Catholics Are Guilty Of Necromancy Is Correct:
          -The Church of Rome is known for its continuous engagement with the souls of people who died in centuries past. Roman Catholic Churches across the globe boldly display dressed up corpses in clear glass cases. In fact, they even go as far as to publicly display individual organs and bones in the same manner. This has been done with pride by the leadership of Roman Catholicism. Annually, millions of Catholics go to behold various corpses, some of which have been called "incorruptible saints." Some bow down before these cadavers, kiss on them, pray to them, and give them many other forms of adoration. There are Catholic churches that display thousands of human remains. Such activity clearly resembles worship and has been found in the occult. However, God expressly commanded the Jews to not have any sort of contact with spirits who have departed into the supernatural realm (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 26:13-14 Leviticus 19:31; 20:26-27; Isaiah 8:19; 19:1-4). There is no indication of the Prophet Samuel being pleased with Saul when he managed to get into contact with him after his physical death (1 Samuel 28:6-11; 1 Chronicles 10:9-14). What Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox prayers to departed saints have in common with pagan prayers to the deceased is this: personal communication. That is condemned in the Law. This is the underlying reason that we correctly lay the charge that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches are guilty of necromancy. There are no prayers for, to, or through the dead.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Critical Analysis Of George Orwell's Book "1984"

        In the fictional novel titled 1984 by George Orwell, who himself was an agnostic, describes a human civilization across the globe that was utterly suppressed by totalitarian dictatorships. The setting of this book is reputed to have taken place during the early to mid-nineteen eighties, with the main character being named Winston Smith. According to this story, all countries were amalgamated into three separate super states which are known to the readers as Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia through a global revolution against capitalism. In other words, all citizens dwelling in the three large provinces mentioned in 1984 were subjugated to the authority of communist tyrants who controlled every aspect of life within their own territorial jurisdictions. In the novel, innocent people were executed for practically any facial expression, thought, word, or deed that implied any sense of contrariety to the ideological views of the government. Retaliation was not in any way tolerated. The underlying message of George Orwell’s book 1984 concerns the dangers of totalitarianism, propaganda, historical revisionism, and undermining the traditional meaning of words and central aspects of reality.

        What the author of the novel endeavored to accomplish was to proliferate warnings concerning the establishment of communist governments, and the inevitable consequences that we must endure if we fail to defend our morals and values. In the book, a hierarchical brotherhood controls all facets of human life, including what the average citizen can own and even food consumption. The average person in the book is described as being absolutely careless, dull, ignorant, and mentally conditioned. We even see the installation of modern technology into homes so that people can be monitored constantly. The government in the negative utopia called 1984 has arrogated itself to being in a position of an infallible arbitrator of truth. As a matter of fact, the “Big Brother” ordered the revision of history so that he could be presented as not being liable to error. Any photo, textbook, or other forms of documentary evidence that could prove fatal to the falsehoods taught by the governmental cult described in this novel were incinerated by the external members of the party, for history was perceived as being an amorphous, malleable means for spreading communist indoctrination. In the novel 1984, the government was pushing for the abandonment of fundamental scientific laws, a largely reduced selection of vocabulary words in dictionaries (transition from the languages of “Oldspeak” to “Newspeak”), and for the termination of human consciousness. Natural pleasures, desires, emotions, affirming the existence of objective, external truths, and all forms of independent thinking were strictly forbidden by the government. In the novel, we see the regulation of personal property and using fear to ensure the obedience of citizens. The concept of “double-thinking” was also practiced by the government and was forced upon all the citizens. In short, George Orwell has done an excellent job in revealing how the structure of humanity can be manipulated in through coercion by corrupt authority figures.

        Although George Orwell wrote his book 1984 back in the year 1949, the nightmarish vision of our future forewarned by the novel has become more realistic and probable throughout the centuries. Today, any honest observer can readily see that most people in America have been brainwashed by the falsified news stories that the press allows to circulate in our media. Consequently, many people have a terribly misguided understanding of what is really taking place in our world. The issues that people really need to be dealing with are the inconceivably high death tolls from religious persecution, wars, malnutrition because of inadequate food supply, and the global pollution from heartless industries, not celebrities who are in reality just ordinary people who want to make us financially and intellectually bankrupt. Additionally, technology has enabled our governments to disenfranchise our right to privacy though our computers, television sets, and our cell phones. The development of moral relativism in the secular world is another sure sign of the depravity of the human heart. We now live in a society that denies the existence of absolute truths. Indeed, many have chosen to make decisions on the basis of feelings, not in accordance to facts and reason. The spread of ideologies has led up to the redefining of concepts such as gender, marriage, life, rights, tolerance, happiness, and what constitutes freedom. There are even people who are foolish enough to deny well documented facts of history such as the Holocaust. Many people do not even have solid moral worldviews for the simple reason that they have knowingly excluded the biblical principles from their lives. Our elementary schools, colleges, and universities teach our students how to think, rather than encourage people to develop critical thinking skills. Thus, the notion of independent thinking has already become unpopular and scare. The technological development of thermonuclear warfare during the time period of World War Two and the advanced nuclear warfare that is now available to our militaries is so powerful that mankind could end up destroying itself. Never underestimate the power of stupidity.

        We need to realize that the notion of a totalitarian government is unworkable. In the novel, we see that an authoritarian hierarchy was only dedicated to advancing its own personal agendas and to inflicting pain on the common people. Unlike previous dictatorships, this one did not even try to claim being a caretaker of its citizens. On the contrary, implementing this mindset of abuse would never be workable for the simple reason that it would place people into a relentless state of fear, anxiety, and anguish. It would only enhance rebellion against already established authoritative standards (the romance affair between the main character Winston and an inner party member named Julia). The natural psychological pattern of the human mind operates on principles of freedom and dignity. Our free will, emotions, intellect, reason, and consciousness are fundamental components of our makeup. It is not as though we are able to instinctively bear the extinction of these basic human necessities, for a human life cannot cease to be human. Moreover, to alter the original content and meaning of things makes possessing certainty and our ability to make judgments impossible. It utterly destroys the concept of knowledge. We should not be making political orthodoxy a priority over ethical principles. We would do best to adhere to George Orwell’s warning concerning the formation of authoritarian governments, lest we find ourselves suffering in the same manner as did the hypothetical civilization in the book 1984.

        We learn from George Orwell’s book titled 1984 that we must persevere in defending our rights, liberties, and freedoms against corrupt powers that wish to abolish them. It serves as a warning against corrupt individuals who desire to control every facet of our lives. In fact, the prophetic nature of this fictional work has become more of a reality as time progresses. Ideologies that infringe on the rights and dignity of other people simply cannot be tolerated. It would be wise to call into remembrance this famous passage from the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…”