Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Does 1 Peter 3:20-21 Support Baptismal Regeneration?

“Baptism” (from baptiz┼Ź) simply means “to immerse,” and not just in water. Peter here uses baptism to refer to a figurative immersion into Christ as the ark of safety that will sail over the holocaust of judgment on the wicked. Noah and his family were immersed not just in water, but in the world under divine judgment. All the while they were protected by being in the ark. God preserved them in the midst of His judgment, which is what he also does for all those who trust in Christ. God’s final judgment will bring fire and fury on the world, destroying the entire universe (cf. 2 Peter 3:10-12); but the people of God will be protected and taken into the eternal new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13).

Peter made clear that he did not want readers to think he was referring to water baptism when he specifically said “not the removal of dirt from the flesh” (1 Peter 3:21). That he was actually referring to a spiritual reality when he wrote “baptism now saves” is also clear from the phrase, “an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (v. 21). The only baptism that saves people is dry—the spiritual one into the death as well as the resurrection of Christ—of those who appeal to God to place them into the spiritual ark of salvation safety (cf. Romans 10:9-10).

Just as the Flood immersed all people in the judgment of God, yet some passed through safely, so also his final judgment will involve everyone, but those who are in Christ will pass through securely. The experience of Noah’s family in the Flood is also analogous to the experience of everyone who receives salvation. Just as they died to their previous world when they entered the ark and subsequently experienced a resurrection of sorts when they exited the ark to a new post-Flood world, so all Christians die to their old world when they enter the body of Christ (Romans 7:4-6; Galatians 2:19-20; Ephesians 4:20-24). They subsequently enjoy newness of life that culminates one day with the resurrection to eternal life. . . .

Therefore, God provides salvation because a sinner, by faith, is immersed into Christ’s death and resurrection and becomes His own through that spiritual union. Salvation does not occur by means of any rite, including water baptism.

John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Peter, p. 217-218

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Discussion On The Morality Of Abortion

  • Introduction:
          -From the biblical perspective, the fact that the liberal agenda is so focused on depicting the concept of abortion as being morally acceptable and a woman's right is reprehensible because the procedure is simply the murder of innocent babies. The existence of controversy on this matter pertaining to the birth of children shows us that our society has become morally blind, that is, polluted by our own sinful lusts. Annually, thousands of women choose to terminate the lives of their fetuses at Planned Parenthood organizations. Millions of innocent little children each year are denied a chance at life because of the choices of mothers. This article strives to critique the basic arguments set forth by advocates of abortion and to provide some background information regarding Planned Parenthood.
  • Human Life Begins At The Moment Of Conception:
              -Oftentimes, we hear in the news about the confronted women who support abortion "rights" participating in clamorous protests. They are known for creating slogans such as "It's my body...My choice..." and "A zygote, embryo, or fetus is not a baby..." But what people usually fail to recognize is that their arguments are pseudo-scientific and make them seem uneducated around intelligent people.
              -The life developing inside the womb has a different body and the decision is therefore not up to the woman to terminate that life. A baby has its own set of organs that function.
              -If a baby does not have the "right" to use a woman's body for a period of nine months (it is attached to her through an umbilical cord), then why should an infant have a right to nurse on his or her mother, since he or she also depends on her for survival? Using this line of reasoning, why not bother to perform a surgical procedure to end their lives at the whim of the parent, as well?
              -When can a fetus correctly be recognized as human life, three hours before birth? When exactly does a fetus transform into a baby?
              -If a fetus is not a baby, then what is it? If the answer is a "glob of cells," then how come it cannot be formally recognized as being a "human," since we are also a "glob of cells?"
              -The claim that an embryo or cell in another stage of development in the womb is not a human is scientifically inaccurate. They all have DNA, 46 chromosomes, a unique blood type, brain waves, and organs that function independently of the mother's body. They all have a human nature, as further evidenced by the myriad of photos of aborted babies. The only difference between us who are fully grown and the beings found in the womb is their stage of development. But development does not determine "how human" a person is. There is no such thing as "different degrees of being human." Thus, human life begins at the moment of conception.
              -The value of human life is not dependent on how well a human body is developed. Neither can humans be called property.
    • What About "Women's Rights?":
              -It is important to note that the abortion movement is one of the offshoots of the feminism movement, which supposedly sought to obtain equal rights for women. Hence, this is the reason that pro-choice advocates proclaim that they want "equal rights" with men. But this view on the value of human life is utterly distorted. It has been deliberately misconstrued. In what sense are we free? All women, like men, have equal rights before the eyes of God, insofar that they do not interfere with the rights of and the safety of other people. It has already been vindicated in this research paper that a cell in the human womb is indeed a human person. Therefore, women should not be entitled to have abortion procedures performed on developing cells which are located within their wombs because doing such deprives babies of the right to life. 
    • What About Cases Of Rape Or Incest?:
              -Women who were raped by selfish men may certainly feel violated and would thus not want to possess a child (or any object) that brings back any terrible memories of such occasions. Neither would families want a product of incest to be born into the world because of the possibility of a damaged reputation, various genetic health conditions, or abnormal bodily features on the baby. But these reasons do not amount to a valid rationalization of the abortion procedure because the scenarios presented at hand still involve the murder of an innocent human being. The conclusions to these arguments have been constructed entirely on self-serving logical premises.
              -Despite the fact that the perpetrators of the crimes should be penalized to the maximum extent of the law, that still does not mean that we should murder other people because we have been victimized. It is equally wrong to take somebody's life because he or she is not wanted. In other words, children should always be loved, regardless of how they were conceived. Human life has intrinsic value.
              -This pro-abortion argument could actually be used to devalue women because it implies that they are unable to overcome negative circumstances or are not strong enough to conquer obstacles in life. 
              -We must choose to set aside all emotional barriers in order to make rational decisions which are built on the proper application of sound moral principles.
    • Negative Psychological Effects Of Having Abortions:
              -There are many cases of women who went to get abortions and as a result experienced tremendous amounts of guilt. In fact, they have even suffered depression, anxiety, and addictions to illegal drugs. There is increasing testimony to the previously presented information from former pro-choice advocates.
              -Just imagine the babies who have survived abortion procedures. Examples of survivors would include, but are not limited to, Melody Olsen, Claire Culwell, Gianna Jessen, and Josiah Presely. Though the number of abortion survivors are few, these people have dedicated much time to explaining how terrible that they feel on a daily basis simply because they know that they were not wanted by their own biological parents. People who profess to be "pro-choice" are trapped within the prison of their own twisted selfishness and drunken on their own stupidity.
              -Women need to think twice (it is better to say an infinite number of times) before even getting an abortion. Why not give the unwanted child up for adoption or, better yet, abstain from sexual intercourse until the time is appropriate for starting a family within the confines of marriage? 
    • Why Oppose Planned Parenthood?:
              -While Planned Parenthood claims to be focused on the health and well-being of females, it is in reality solely focused on providing the "service" of abortion. It is in reality about population control.
              -Its founder Margaret Sanger once said that colored people, the disabled, and other heavily criticized minorities in America were "human weeds" that "needed to be exterminated." She wanted to shape a society that was perfect in her own eyes, that is, a society that shared her own views on moral issues.
              -It is a well documented fact that Sanger's mindset was based on eugenic underpinnings. All that one has to do is to read through her writings such as the Pivot of Civilization and the Birth Control Review. In fact, much of her ideology was heavily influenced by eugenicist Dr. Havelock Ellis.
    • Other Reasons For Actively Opposing Planned Parenthood As Being A Morally Destructive Institution Would Include:
              -This organization has persistently bargained from and has made profits from the sale of human organs.
              -Planned Parenthood has repeatedly failed to protect young girls from getting sexually abused. In fact, we can easily lay the charge that this organization is guilty of promoting pedophilia, for it readily provides birth control services to under-aged females and has even gone as far as to hide information from inquiring parents. We must ask what the point is behind giving little girls condemns and denying their parents the right to know about the business of their children, when under-aged sex is supposed to be illegal? 
              -Planned Parenthood has been sued on a number of different occasions for the fraudulent use of billions in taxpayer funds. Thus this organization is nothing more than a money making scheme that serves its own hidden agendas.

    Sunday, May 28, 2017

    Does Ecclesiastes Affirm The Doctrine Of Soul Sleep?

            Advocates of the soul sleep doctrine oftentimes quote Ecclesiastes 9:5 and Ecclesiastes 12:7 to provide biblical justification for their denial of conscious life after death. The phrase "the dead do not know anything" is interpreted by these people to mean that the human soul ceases to remain conscious after our physical bodies die.

             The context of this book was written from the human perspective of life on earth. In other words, it is about how things work in this world. The author provides commentary on things done "under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3).

            In the verses in question, the author Solomon is not making any doctrinal statements about the consciousness of the soul after death. A person "knows nothing" after death because his or her soul has returned to the God who gave it. Death is simply the end of our stay here in this world.

    Friday, May 26, 2017

    A Refutation Of Soul Sleep

    • Introduction:
              -Soul sleep is the belief that after a person dies, his or her soul "sleeps" until the resurrection and final judgment. According to this theology, the souls of people who are in the condition of bodily separation are unaware or unconscious of the things taking place around them. This perspective on the afterlife forms a sharp contrast to the biblical view of conscious life after death. Professing Christian denominations that uphold this position include the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christadelphians, and others. In the Bible, the word "sleep" is used in relation to the word "death", for a corpse indeed appears to be sound asleep. A person's body is "sleeping" while his or her soul is in the location of his or her eternal destiny. 
              -We face judgment with God the moment we die (Hebrews 9:27). Hence, our fate is eternally sealed at them moment of physical death. While some people enter into the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary above, those who were unfaithful to Him during this life will end up in a state of eternal separation from God in the flames of hell (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).     
              -There is a temporary heaven and hell that exists until the final resurrection (2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 1:18; 20:13-14). In the resurrection, each person's "sleeping" body will be "awakened" and transformed into a perfected, permanent body that will be possessed by each individual for all eternity. This is true for all people, whether they be sent to heaven or sentenced to eternal punishment in hell. All of the people who were accepted into heaven after judgment will be sent to the new heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1-5), whereas folks who were in Hades will be thrown into the lake of sulfur and fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
    • For believers, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23).
    • God will receive us into glory upon physical death (Psalm 73:24-26). 
    • Texts such as James 2:26 and 2 Peter 1:13-14 imply that the body and the soul are not inseparable.
    • The parable of the rich man and Lazarus clearly reveals to us that souls will not cease to be conscious in the afterlife (Luke 16:19-31).
    • The young disciple Stephan, who was being stoned to death for preaching the gospel, saw heaven's door opened right before his eyes and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:54-59). He clearly went to heaven to be with the Lord after physical death.
    • Physically dead tribulational martyrs were fully conscious in heaven (Revelation 6:9-11; 7:9-17).
    • Our Lord Jesus Christ told the unrepentant thief on the cross that he would enter paradise that same day (Luke 23:39-43).
    • Moses and Elijah were spiritually conscious during the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9).
    • God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:31-32).

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    "Lord of The Flies" Theme Reflection

            In the novel titled "Lord of The Flies," which was authored by William Golding, a choir of boys got sequestered on an island due to a plane crash. The setting of this fictional work took place on a vacant island during World War Two. In other words, a large group of British boys who participated in a choir were unable to reach their originally planned destination because of a forced plane landing during the Second World War. Because of this tragedy, this group of boys needed to learn how to properly fend for themselves. The choir needed to function as a whole in order to survive because there was no source of bodily nourishment being provided by responsible adults who worked to maintain the health of the economy. The book "Lord of The Flies" attests to the depths of human depravity. The formation of societal values and any degree of success is entirely dependent on the compromise of individuals who work together for the sake of the common good.

            A large group of choir boys from England were separated from the world on a small island by the ocean due to a plane crash and thus needed to learn how to establish a civilized, well-organized assemblage of people in order increase the probability of prolonged survival or getting rescued. But the boys failed to grasp the severity of their life-threatening situation. For example, most members of the choir became so preoccupied with hunting wild boars that they repeatedly failed provide fuel for the rescue fire and thus missed an opportunity to get rescued by a war ship that passed by the island. Most of them viewed life on the island as solely an opportunity for constant entertainment. Their reasoning was based on the fact that no adult figures were present on the island to govern their decisions each day. Most members of the British choir instantly developed the false notion that they could do whatever their hearts desired. Consequently, no formal structure of societal function was formed on the island. There was no submission to authority. There was no standard of certainty, consensus, or organization. The meaning of obedience was completely forgotten. The distinction between good and evil became blurred because of the continual reluctance to submit to an authority. Their starting behaviors paved the road to moral corruption and built a foundation for the household of death. This is what happens when people fail to recognize the weights of accountability on their shoulders when placed in a position to make moral or rational choices in life independently.

            As the time the boys thrived on the isolated island became lengthier, the overall moral character of the choir members also began to deteriorate. Most of them began to act purely animalistic in nature. The character named Ralph, who was originally supposed to function as the leader appointed by the crowd, possessed a conch which was representative of authority. However, most members of the British choir either willfully ignored the call of his conch or took his words of reason as a joke. In other words, they ignored the voice of their conscience by rebelling against rightly ordained authority. They eventually became so rebellious to authority that they wrongly revoked his position of authority by replacing him with another main character named Jack, who was cruel, savage, and immoral. He directly influenced the crowd of boys to create a tribe that functioned apart from Ralph's lawfully given authority. They even painted their own faces as a means of covering their actual character. They appointed Jack because he suited their desires to partake of their own selfish lifestyles. Each individual boy wanted to go his own way. The boys reached a point where they no longer cared about appearing visibly in the sight of civilization again. They acted in the manner they did because their consciences were seared with a hot iron. We need to recognize that morals decline as people refuse to submit to rightful authorities and fail to recognize the needs of others. What all the boys in the novel needed was to get rescued. They needed to return back to their regular life patterns at home and look forward into a bright future. But this could only be made possible, if the boys decided to focus on the welfare of each other.

            What happened to the boys on the lost island was that they never dedicated time to any form of self-reflection. Hence, they were completely unwary of their darkened hearts. Most members of the choir became so perverse in their morals that they ended up killing a female sow that was nursing piglets. Only moments after the kill, one of the boys portrayed the stabbing of the female pig's rear as being a sexual reference. Not only is the murder of a nursing mother considered as an incomprehensibly evil action to all rational people, but it is also beyond the minds of most people to liken a female animal to a woman. On the night of the same day there was a thunderstorm, and there was a wicked feast being held in praise of the successful hunting. Simon peered through the bushes of the jungle at the tribal chanting and had an illusion of the maggot infested boar head talking to him. It told him to relinquish to the brutal ways of the tribe, nevertheless he refused to succumb to the evil enticements. The decomposing boar head clearly resembles the work of the devil at hand in the hearts of mankind. The other main characters Simon and Piggy were murdered for not conforming to the corrupt values of the island tribe. Members affiliated with the tribe later kidnapped the twins Sam and Eric so that Ralph would have no means of support. They attempted to murder him the next day by lighting the island on fire. The scenario described in the story line of "Lord of The Flies" clearly reveals the inevitably disastrous results of refusing to work together for the sake of the common good. The poor formation of a societal structure on the island clearly enhanced the careless, selfish, and abominable side of the choir members. The shattering of the conch symbolized the destruction of authority. Indeed, we have the same tendency in our fallen nature to act in the same manner as that of a spoiled child who knows nothing of disciplinary action.

            The novel titled "Lord of The Flies" gives thinking readers valuable insight into the ramifications of failing to form a society with morally sound values. The theme of this fictional work strives to give us the impression that we need to work for the common good in order for society to continually survive, for a house divided against itself cannot stand. In order to be successful, we need to submit to members of authority. The choir boys on the island never bothered to listen to the handful who tried to form an organized civilization on the island because of inherent selfishness. They wanted to have things their own way, which reveals their internal sense of evil. Just as the choir boys began their quest for survival on the island in a disorganized manner, they ended up getting rescued in the same manner. The island was ablaze because of the tribal attempt to hunt down Ralph, the boys were all filthy from covering up their faces, and were running to the shore in a savage manner when adult figures finally arrived on the island to save them. They were caught in the middle of acting as if they were savages who had never been exposed to the light of civilized life. It would be better for us to continually heed to the voice of reason, lest we end up in a state of hopeless anarchy as the British choir boys on the island did and perish.

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

    Absurd Roman Catholic And Eastern Orthodox Objections To Sola Scriptura

    • The Phrase 'Bible alone' Is Absent From Scripture:
              -Let it be granted that the specific phrase "Bible alone" is absent from the pages of our Bibles. However, the mere fact that the Bible does not occupy a specific word describing an article of the Christian faith does not prove it to be unbiblical. For example, the word "Trinity" is absent from Scripture. The same is equally true of the word "Incarnation." But these two examples are clearly biblical doctrines. The same can be said of Sola Scriptura, for the Apostle Paul emphatically stated that Scripture alone equips the man of God for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
    • The Church Came Before The Bible:
              -The underlying problem with this argument is that it synonymously occupies the terms "Bible" and "New Testament". This is known as the fallacy of equivocation.
              -While it is true that Jesus Christ established the Christian church prior to the writings of the New Testament canon, this does not in any way suggest that the New Testament cannot function as its criterion. Neither does this prove that the Old Testament could not have functioned as the final authority for the first century Christians.
              -What needs to be recognized here is that the first century church was governed by the apostles and that their teachings did not differ in substance from what was already taught in Scripture. The apostolic doctrine was not supplementary in nature, but rather was complimentary. The newer revelation from God simply elaborated on already established doctrines. The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant.
              -Existing prior in time does not logically translate into evidence of being in higher authority. If a sequence in a given order is equivalent to different ranks of authority, then does it not follow that the Old Testament was superior to the New Testament Scriptures and the church, since it existed before they did? Is the Book of Ezekiel somehow more authoritative and inspired than the writings of the Apostle Paul? Are the claims of Buddhism more truthful than those of Christianity?
    • Jesus Did Not Write Any Scripture:
              -So what if Jesus Christ did not choose to write any Scripture? The mere fact that He did not choose to take a writing utensil to formulate divinely inspired documents has nothing to do with the authority of Scripture itself. That was never His purpose. He did not come to write Scripture, but rather to redeem mankind from sin. He is our Lord and Savior. But He always taught by using the Scriptures. He always appealed to them in matters of discernment. Would it not be wise to emulate His example?
              -The Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the twelve apostles to spread the message of His work. They continually worked at defending the faith in the first century. They were the first ones appointed to establish and contend for the original churches of God. Hence, they wrote Scripture so that future generations could do the same task of preserving the purity of the glorious gospel. Scripture is meant to be the measuring stick against heresy.
              -Not only does the argument that Christ did not produce Scripture fail to prove anything, but it is also completely irrelevant to the subject matter being discussed at hand. If this anti-Sola Scriptura logic proves anything at all, then it only proves that we should not have a canon of Scripture. It only proves that the apostles, prophets, and their closest associates never should have written Scripture. This would only mean that our detractors should not be holding Bibles in their hands, let alone be reading them.
              -It is also true that Jesus Christ never baptized anybody (John 4:2). Does this mean that baptism is unimportant or of less importance?
    • In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus Christ Gave The Church All Authority In Spiritual Matters:
              -This Scripture passage only provides us with a general model of conflict resolution. Nothing within the context of Matthew 18:15-17 indicates that some complex church hierarchy is supposed to preside over all matters in the church.

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Is The Church of Christ a Sound, Biblical Church?

    • Introduction:
              -The intention behind writing this article is not to bash any members of the Church or Christ or to cast any form of condemnation on those who are affiliated with these churches, but rather serves to reveal some fundamental concerns that exist within the Church of Christ sects. Hence, the question that this article strives to answer can be a very confusing, convoluted process because many smaller, individualized congregations occupy the title "Church of Christ", yet have significant doctrinal differences at the same time. While the majority of these non-denominational sects have indeed been established upon the solid foundation of the gospel, some are borderline cult-like in their preferential customs, traditions, and doctrines. In short, this means that the answer to whether a single "Church of Christ" group is biblically sound or not is completely dependent on the nature of its organizational structure and beliefs.
    • Brief History of the Church of Christ:
              -In 1906, the Church of Christ group broke away from the "Disciples of Christ", which was established in the mid 1800's by Alexander Campbell, over the issue of using musical instruments in worship.
              -The Campbells joined Barton Stone and Walter Scott to create the "Restoration Movement", which was an attempt to restore Christianity back to its original state after the alleged total apostasy of Christianity (or, as they put it, "a great falling away from the truth"). 
    • Was There Ever A Great Apostasy Of Christendom?:
              -If, as Church of Christ members claim, that there was a complete falling away from the truth and light of the gospel, then where was the church of the New Testament before it was restored by God? What happened to the church? How did the truth of the gospel vanish from the face of the earth? Where did the truth go? 
              -Not only is the belief in a complete apostasy of Christianity deprived of historical evidence, but it also violates Christian theology, for our Lord Jesus Christ emphatically promised that His church would be preserved throughout all generations (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 3:21). The Word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:23-25). Furthermore, there has always been a general consensus among true Christians on essential doctrines such as the Trinity, Incarnation, Hypostatic Union, and the Virgin Birth. 
    • Doctrinal Summary of Church of Christ Groups:
              -Most Church of Christ groups adhere to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, the physical resurrection of Christ, and a literal hell. However, others have been infiltrated with heresy and legalism. Members of the Church of Christ have embraced a works-based salvation, have completely denied the future event called the Rapture, vehemently oppose the use of instruments in worship, and have even made claims to being the "one true church". The previous list is by no means meant to be exhaustive in nature, but rather serves to be the issues that this article intends to address. These issues are important because they have become sources of division throughout mainstream Christianity, as well.
    • Psuedo-Sola Scriptura:
              -Practically all members who constitute the Church of Christ population adhere to a false view of Sola Scriptura. They redefine this principle to mean that the Bible is the "only" authority existing in the church, whereas the original, historic principle meant that Scripture alone is the only infallible rule of faith for the Christian church. The actual view permits for the existence of other authorities in the church, insofar as they stand in complete agreement to the written Word of God. As a result of perverting the concept of Sola Scriptura, Church of Christ advocates have developed various slogans such as, "We speak where the Bible speaks. We are silent where the Bible is silent." This is really ironic, since members of the Church of Christ vehemently reject the establishment of creeds! It is noteworthy to study the Church of Christ deviation from the principle of Sola Scriptura, for it reveals internal inconsistencies in the arguments of these people.   
    • Works-Based Salvation:
              -One of the false doctrines running rampant throughout the Church of Christ groups is baptismal regeneration. Moreover, most of these people maintain that man must perform meritorious works in order to get saved. They view heaven as an earned "reward", rather than a free gift provided by God to those who are spiritually bankrupt and thus on the verge of eternal condemnation in hell. They add church attendance, weekly Sunday communion, and gospel preaching as prerequisites to faith in the work of Jesus Christ. But where does the New Testament specifically authorize these steps as being necessary for the justification of sinners? 
              -Scripture teaches that we are saved by the grace of God through our faith in Him--apart from the merit of all good works. Works are the product of salvation, not the cause.
    • Denial of The Rapture:
              -Many people who are associated with Church of Christ groups deny the the concept of the Rapture. Instead, they believe that the Lord will come to judge and part the righteous from the wicked. But the Scriptures do affirm that there will be a "departure" of Christians from this world (1 Corinthians 15:20-23; 50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In the twinkling of an eye, the Lord shall return. In fact, Revelation 20:1-6 speaks of the literal 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ.
    • On Musical Instruments In Worship:
              -Many Church of Christ groups believe that we are forbidden to use instruments in worship because the New Testament does not specifically authorize us to use them. However, the Bible also never specifically instructs us to use hymnals, microphones, pitch pipes, pews, or to worship in a church building, yet these people still occupy all of the previously mentioned items. My point here is that we are to always exercise good judgment. There are Scripture passages in both Testaments that implicitly, if not explicitly, allow us to use instruments in worship (i.e. Psalm 33:2-4; 1 Chronicles 25:5-6; 2 Chronicles 6:5; Psalm 150; Revelation 5:8; 15:2). Not only is it wrong to be so dogmatic about an issue that is so clearly non-essential, but it would also make sense for the Church of Christ members to ramble about using instruments in worship, if people started worshiping them or the Bible expressly forbade us from such activity. But none of this is the case here.
    • More Cult-Like Features:
              -A fourth and final observation that warrants concern is the belief that the "Church of Christ" is the only true church and that no salvation exists outside that particular church body. Although not all members of the Churches of Christ subscribe to such a mentality, it is still widely prevalent throughout various sects that fit into this criteria. These features are still a common characteristic of a cult. But the truth of the matter is that the "true, original church" comprises of all who are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, all throughout the world (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18). It is not limited to any specific group of people who dwell in a specific location.

    Friday, May 19, 2017

    The Notable Accomplishments Of Louis Pasteur

    Few people have saved more lives than Louis Pasteur. The vaccines he developed have protected millions. His insight that germs cause disease revolutionized healthcare. He found new ways to make our food safe to eat.

    Pasteur was the chemist who fundamentally changed our understanding of biology. By looking closely at the building blocks of life, he was at the forefront of a new branch of science: microbiology.

    Here, from a letter to an atheist:

    Science brings men nearer to God.

    Posterity will one day laugh at the foolishness of modern materialistic philosophers. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory.

    The Greeks understood the mysterious power of the below things. They are the ones who gave us one of the most beautiful words in our language, the word enthusiasm: a God within.

    I have been looking for spontaneous generation for twenty years without discovering it. No, I do not judge it impossible. But what allows you to make it the origin of life? You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter? You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years, one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life? You move from matter to life because your current intelligence, so limited compared to what will be the future intelligence of the naturalist, tells you that things cannot be understand otherwise. If you want to be among the scientific minds, what only counts is that you will have to get rid of a priori reasoning and ideas, and you will have to do necessary deductions not giving more confidence than we should to deductions from wild speculation. [en francais, Pasteur et la philosophie, Patrice Pinet, Editions L’Harmattan, p. 63.]


    God The Just And The Justifier (Romans 3:25-26)

    Propitiation is not a word that we use in common conversation. It comes from the ancient religious world, where people offered sacrifices to appease the anger of the gods. Because of that imagery, some liberal scholars have tried to eliminate the idea of God’s anger by changing the word to expiation, which refers to the removal of guilt. But Leon Morris (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross [Eerdmans, third ed.], pp. 144-213) and other scholars have shown that the idea of satisfying God’s wrath against sin is inherent in propitiation. Paul is saying here that Christ’s sacrificial death is the means by which God’s just wrath is turned away from sinners.

    But we need to understand several things that distinguish biblical propitiation from the pagan expressions of it. In pagan religions, the person who is experiencing some difficulty assumes that he has offended the gods in some way, but he often doesn’t know how. The gods are unpredictable, but something apparently got them upset! And, he’s not quite sure which sacrifice will work to calm down the gods so that he or his family can get relief from their troubles. But the shamans have more experience with these sorts of things. So the troubled man pays them their fee, offers the prescribed sacrifice, and hopes that the deities will be happy for a while. His sacrifice is an attempt to propitiate the gods.

    But biblical propitiation is much different. In the first place, God’s wrath against sin is not capricious or mysterious. Rather, it is His settled holy opposition to evil, expressed in both temporal and eternal judgments. We see the temporal consequences of God’s wrath in both the Old and New Testaments. God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden and pronounced curses on them, on the earth, and on the serpent because of their sin. He sent the flood to destroy everyone on earth in the days of Noah. He rained fire and brimstone on the decadent people of Sodom and Gomorrah. However you interpret the Book of Revelation, it’s clear that God’s temporal judgments were not limited to the Old Testament. He pours out His wrath on rebellious people right up to the time of Christ’s return. That same book shows what Jesus often taught, that God’s temporal wrath will turn into horrible, eternal wrath at the final judgment.

    We’ve already seen the concept of God’s wrath in Romans. In 1:18, Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” We saw that a large part of God’s presently revealed wrath against sin is to let us suffer the consequences of sin, as described in 1:24-32. In 2:5, Paul refers to God’s wrath as it pertains to eternal judgment: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Again in 3:5, he mentions “the God who inflicts wrath.” So the concept of propitiation as the satisfying of God’s wrath is not foreign to the Bible or to Romans.

    But there is another major difference between the pagan concept of pacifying the anger of the gods and the biblical concept of propitiation. In the pagan religions, people take the initiative by offering sacrifices in an attempt to placate the gods. But in the Bible, God takes the initiative by providing the specific means of averting His wrath on sin. First, God always spells out what sin is, so that no one should accidentally do something to make God angry. He warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and He spelled out the consequences that would follow if they disobeyed: they would die. The same is true in the Law of Moses. God spells out what Israel should do or not do, along with the consequences for disobedience.

    Also, in mercy God provides the way to satisfy His wrath and be reconciled to Him. He slaughtered an animal and provided their skins to clothe Adam and Eve. He told Noah to build the ark to preserve his family and him from the flood. He provided the ram, so that Abraham did not have to sacrifice Isaac. He gave detailed instructions to Moses about the sacrificial system. And, finally and supremely, by sending His own Son to die in our place on the cross, God satisfied His own wrath against our sin. Jesus paid the debt that we owed, so that God can show His grace and love to all that trust in Jesus Christ.

    Paul makes this clear by the phrase, “whom God displayed publicly.” Other versions read, “set forth” (New KJV), “presented” (NIV, Holman CSB), and “put forward” (ESV). The verb that Paul uses can also mean to purpose or plan beforehand (Rom. 1:13; Eph. 1:9; the noun is used in Rom. 8:28; 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11) and some scholars argue for that meaning here. It would then mean that God planned beforehand to provide Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. But it also can mean to display or set forth publicly. In this view, God’s setting forth or displaying Jesus as a propitiation would refer to His public death on the cross or to the apostolic preaching of the cross. Whichever view is correct, they both point to the fact that God took the initiative in providing the sacrifice that we need to satisfy His wrath.

    Evangelical scholars debate one other thing about the Greek word that is translated propitiation. Some (Morris, Godet, and Lloyd-Jones) argue that it should be translated propitiation or propitiatory sacrifice. But others (Thomas Schreiner, Douglas Moo, and James Boice) point out that this word was used many times in the Old Testament to refer to the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, where the high priest sprinkled the blood of atonement once a year. While perhaps we should not translate the word as mercy seat, it is easy to think that Paul could have had this in mind when he used the word here. The mercy seat was the place where atonement took place. God’s wrath was averted by the sprinkling of the blood of an innocent substitute on that mercy seat. While that yearly ritual was hidden from public view, it pointed ahead to Jesus, whom God publicly displayed (the veil is torn) as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins.


    Tuesday, May 16, 2017

    Luther Added The Word "Alone" to Romans 3:28?

                                                                     By James Swan

    Have you ever been in a discussion in which it was asserted that Martin Luther added words to the Bible?

    Here Are Some "choice" comments from the depths of cyber-space:

    "Martin Luther ADDED words to the Bible that were not there. When he was confronted with this sin of adding to the Bible he replied: "Bacause Dr. Martin Luther will have it so!" This man was one ego-maniac with delusions of popehood." [Source]

    "Romans 3:28 states, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (NKJV). Martin Luther, in his German translation of the Bible, specifically added the word "allein" (English 'alone') to Romans 3:28-a word that is not in the original Greek. Martin Luther reportedly said, "You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word alone in not in the text of Paul…say right out to him: 'Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,'…I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word 'alone' is not in the Latin or the Greek text" (Stoddard J. Rebuilding a Lost Faith. 1922, pp. 101-102; see also Luther M. Amic. Discussion, 1, 127). This passage strongly suggests that Martin Luther viewed his opinions, and not the actual Bible as the primary authority--a concept which this author will name prima Luther." [Source]

    "By September 1522, Luther had translated the New Testament into his version of the German Bible. It is to be noted that Luther taught a false doctrine that man was saved by faith alone, and upon his own recognizance and without any authority, he added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28, ... thereby ignoring all of the verses which admonish anyone not to add to or take away from, the Holy Word of GOD. He displayed his inflated ego and total arrogance, when he wrote the following regarding his addition:"If your Papist annoys you with the word (alone), tell him straightway, Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom."Amic. Discussion, 1, 127. Demonizing again! My My, tsk tsk, such language Dr Luther, and didn't he elevate himself above everyone on earth?This is the example set by the first Protestant, for his version of the command of Jesus Christ of, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:36-40)." [Source]

    "...Luther insists on his own (in effect) absolute infallibility. In defending his addition of the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 ("faith alone"), Luther railed: Thus I will have it, thus I order it, my will is reason enough . . . Dr. Luther will have it so, and . . . he is a Doctor above all Doctors in the whole of Popery. (O'Connor, 25; Letter to Wenceslaus Link in 1530)One wonders whether Luther uttered these absurd sentiments with a smile on his face, or with tongue in cheek. In any event, such boastful, essentially silly and foolish rhetoric is not uncommon in Luther's voluminous writings." [Source]

    The arguments above are fairly simple: Luther simply inserted the word “alone” into Romans 3:28. Luther is painted as outrageous: he shows a total disregard for the sacred text, simply making it say what he wanted it to.

    How to respond:

    1. First, locate the context.

    The main text of Luther used for these type of comments are his Open Letter on Translating (1530). Luther says in the introduction:

    “…there has been much discussion about the translating of the Old and New Testaments. It has been charged by the enemies of truth that the text has been modified and even falsified in many places, which has startled and shocked many simple Christians, even among the educated who do not know the Hebrew and Greek languages. It is devoutly to be hoped that with this publication the slander of the godless will be stopped and the scruples of the devout removed, at least in part. Perhaps it may even give rise to more writing on such questions and matters such as these. Therefore I ask all lovers of the truth to take this work to heart seriously, and faithfully to pray to God for a right understanding of the divine Scriptures, to the improvement and increase of our common Christendom.”

    The first section of the treatise is actually fairly angry, sarcastic, and humorous. Luther shows himself fed up with his Papal critics. His anger was fueled against them for an ironic reason- they rallied against his translation, while at the same time utilizing it for their own new translations. A strong Papal critic of Luther (Emser) did just that:

    “We have seen that scribbler from Dresden play the master to my New Testament. I will not mention his name again in my books, as he has his Judge now, and is already well-known. He admits that my German is sweet and good. He saw that he could not improve upon it. Yet, eager to dishonor it, he took my New Testament nearly word for word as it was written, and removed my prefaces and notes, replaced them with his own, and thus published my New Testament under his name!”

    2. Put this context into the quotes being misued.

    With this context in mind, point out that Luther was blasting away at his Papal critics:

    “If your papist wishes to make a great fuss about the word sola (alone), say this to him: "Dr. Martin Luther will have it so, and he says that a papist and a donkey are the same thing." …For we are not going to be students and disciples of the papists. Rather, we will become their teachers and judges. For once, we also are going to be proud and brag, with these blockheads; and just as Paul brags against his mad raving saints, I will brag against these donkeys of mine! Are they doctors? So am I. Are they scholars? So am I. Are they preachers? So am I. Are they theologians? So am I. Are they debaters? So am I. Are they philosophers? So am I. Are they logicians? So am I. Do they lecture? So do I. Do they write books? So do I.”

    “I will go even further with my boasting: I can expound the psalms and the prophets, and they cannot. I can translate, and they cannot. I can read the Holy Scriptures, and they cannot. I can pray, they cannot. Coming down to their level, “I can use their rhetoric and philosophy better than all of them put together. Plus I know that not one of them understands his Aristotle. If any one of them can correctly understand one preface or chapter of Aristotle, I will eat my hat! No, I am not overdoing it, for I have been schooled in and have practiced their science from my youth. I recognize how deep and broad it is. They, too, are well aware that I can do everything they can do. Yet they treat me as a stranger in their discipline, these incurable fellows, as if I had just arrived this morning and had never seen or heard what they teach and know. How they do brilliantly parade around with their science, teaching me what I outgrew twenty years ago! To all their noise and shouting I sing, with the harlot, "I have known for seven years that horseshoe nails are iron.”

    “Let this be the answer to your first question. Please do not give these donkeys any other answer to their useless braying about that word sola than simply this: "Luther will have it so, and he says that he is a doctor above all the doctors of the pope." Let it rest there. I will from now on hold them in contempt, and have already held them in contempt, as long as they are the kind of people (or rather donkeys) that they are.”

    One can almost feel Luther’s anger towards his Papal critics. They discredited him as a doctor of theology, a degree he earned in a rather quick period of time, and his academic abilities were above most. Indeed, he had done the work necessary to be taken seriously. His critics criticized his German translation while at the same time stealing it for their own translation- this infuriated him, and rightly so.

    3. Luther's actual reasoning for using "alone" in Romans 3:28

    This is the sad part about those who use Luther's Open Letter On Translating against him. He actually goes on to give a detailed explanation of why he uses the word "alone" in Romans 3:28. In the same document, in a calmer tone, Luther gives his reasoning for those with ears to hear:

    “I know very well that in Romans 3 the word solum is not in the Greek or Latin text — the papists did not have to teach me that. It is fact that the letters s-o-l-a are not there. And these blockheads stare at them like cows at a new gate, while at the same time they do not recognize that it conveys the sense of the text -- if the translation is to be clear and vigorous [klar und gewaltiglich], it belongs there. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had set about to speak in the translation.”

    Luther continues to give multiple examples of the implied sense of meaning in translating words into German. He then offers an interpretive context of Romans:

    “So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of the languages alone when I inserted the word solum in Romans 3. The text itself, and Saint Paul's meaning, urgently require and demand it. For in that passage he is dealing with the main point of Christian doctrine, namely, that we are justified by faith in Christ without any works of the Law. Paul excludes all works so completely as to say that the works of the Law, though it is God's law and word, do not aid us in justification. Using Abraham as an example, he argues that Abraham was so justified without works that even the highest work, which had been commanded by God, over and above all others, namely circumcision, did not aid him in justification. Rather, Abraham was justified without circumcision and without any works, but by faith, as he says in Chapter 4: "If Abraham were justified by works, he may boast, but not before God." So, when all works are so completely rejected — which must mean faith alone justifies — whoever would speak plainly and clearly about this rejection of works will have to say "Faith alone justifies and not works." The matter itself and the nature of language requires it.”

    4. Previous translations of the word “alone” in Romans 3:28

    Luther offers another line of reasoning in his “Open Letter on Translating” that many of the current Cyber-Roman Catholics ignore (and most Protestants are not aware of):
    “Furthermore, I am not the only one, nor the first, to say that faith alone makes one righteous. There was Ambrose, Augustine and many others who said it before me.”

    Now here comes the fun part in this discussion.

    The Roman Catholic writer Joseph A. Fitzmyer points out that Luther was not the only one to translate Romans 3:28 with the word “alone.”

    At 3:28 Luther introduced the adv. “only” into his translation of Romans (1522), “alleyn durch den Glauben” (WAusg 7.38); cf. Aus der Bibel 1546, “alleine durch den Glauben” (WAusg, DB 7.39); also 7.3-27 (Pref. to the Epistle). See further his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, of 8 Sept. 1530 (WAusg 30.2 [1909], 627-49; “On Translating: An Open Letter” [LuthW 35.175-202]). Although “alleyn/alleine” finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him.

    Robert Bellarmine listed eight earlier authors who used sola (Disputatio de controversiis: De justificatione 1.25 [Naples: G. Giuliano, 1856], 4.501-3):

    Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

    Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961).

    Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).

    Ambrosiaster, In Ep. ad Romanos 3.24 (CSEL 81.1.119): “sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei,” through faith alone they have been justified by a gift of God; 4.5 (CSEL 81.1.130).

    John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]).

    Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19]).

    Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

    Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).

    To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

    Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 93.100; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24).

    Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28: We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law). Cf. In ep. ad Romanos 4.1 (Parma ed., 13.42a): “reputabitur fides eius, scilicet sola sine operibus exterioribus, ad iustitiam”; In ep. ad Galatas 2.4 (Parma ed., 13.397b): “solum ex fide Christi” [Opera 20.437, b41]).

    See further:

    Theodore of Mopsuestia, In ep. ad Galatas (ed. H. B. Swete), 1.31.15.

    Marius Victorinus (ep. Pauli ad Galatas (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15-16: “Ipsa enim fides sola iustificationem dat-et sanctificationem” (For faith itself alone gives justification and sanctification); In ep. Pauli Ephesios (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15: “Sed sola fides in Christum nobis salus est” (But only faith in Christ is salvation for us).

    Augustine, De fide et operibus, 22.40 (CSEL 41.84-85): “licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intellegatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur” (Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love”). Migne Latin Text: Venire quippe debet etiam illud in mentem, quod scriptum est, In hoc cognoscimus eum, si mandata ejus servemus. Qui dicit, Quia cognovi eum, et mandata ejus non servat, mendax est, et in hoc veritas non est (I Joan. II, 3, 4). Et ne quisquam existimet mandata ejus ad solam fidem pertinere: quanquam dicere hoc nullus est ausus, praesertim quia mandata dixit, quae ne multitudine cogitationem spargerent [Note: [Col. 0223] Sic Mss. Editi vero, cogitationes parerent.], In illis duobus tota Lex pendet et Prophetae (Matth. XXII, 40): licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere Dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intelligatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur; tamen postea Joannes ipse aperuit quid diceret, cum ait: Hoc est mandatum ejus, ut credamus nomini Filii ejus Jesu Christi, et diligamns invicem (I Joan. III, 23) See De fide et operibus, Cap. XXII, §40, PL 40:223.

    Source: Joseph A. Fitzmyer Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993) 360-361.

    Even some Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.”

    Shrubby St. John’s Wort

    The Latin name for Shrubby John’s Wort is Hypericum ascyron.

    Shrubby John’s Wort grows in the form of a shrub. It is a perennial. It blooms from mid-July through September. It fruits from September to November. The flowers of the plant are yellow, which are five parted. Has a ring of orange anthers. Shrubby St. John’s Wort has dark green leaves. It is arranged in a terminal cyme. It’s fruit is in the form of a capsule, which has three different compartments. The leaves on a Shrubby St. John’s Wort are oblong and have opposite arrangements. The plant has a woody base.

    Originally, St John’s Wort grew in parts of Europe and Asia. This plant was native to these regions. But it has proliferated in different temporal regions worldwide. St. John’s Wort is known as an invasive weed to some.

    St. John’s Wort does not grow in any particular soil. It grows in sand, clay, rocky soil, or loam. It can tolerate both moist and dry soil. It thrives in a wide variety of environmental conditions.

    It grows in prairies, swamps, and meadows.

    Growth cycle: St. John’s Wort reproduces by seed. This plant grows underground roots. The plant develops fruiting capsules. It develops prostate winter stems (woody stems). Winter stem growth takes place from June to September. Then, St. John’s Wort grows upright flower spikes. Full flowering takes place.

    There are no known variations of Shrubby St. John’s Wort.

    St. John’s Wort grows a strong taproot. It grows many lateral roots. The leaves on St. John’s Wort are long, light green in color, and oppositely arranged on the woody branches. The plant produces yellow or orange flowers which have black dots on the edges of the petals. The flowers on St. John’s Wort appear to be star-shaped.

    There are no specific growth instructions for Shrubby St. John’s Wort. The plant grows in moist soil. It can either grow in a fully sunlit location or in an area of partial shade. St. John;s Wort can even be grown from cuttings.

    St. John’s Wort can be used for medicinal purposes. This plant can be used in the treatment of disorders such as anxiety and depression. It can also be used to treat other conditions such as an upset stomach, insomnia, hemorrhoids, and muscle pain. However, possible side effects of using St. John’s Wort include, but are not limited to, anxiety, dry mouth, headache, skin rash, and diarrhea. In fact, the consumption of this plant may be poisonous to animals.

    The strong and wide root system of St. John’s Wort has been used to prevent erosion.

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    False Ideas Of Liberation

    "False ideas of liberation also have consequences when carried out in nonreligious pursuits. For example, movies, ads, and talk shows all suggest to men especially that either being single or acting that way offers varieties of physical pleasure and a sense of psychological conquest. Surveys show that the reality is very different, and just what we would expect from reading the Bible: Married sex beats unmarried sex in both quality and quantity. But that’s not what some people who view only the lies of both popular and high culture would suspect. A few of those who live the lie throughout their twenties and thirties may somehow skip their way through the minefields of abortion, broken hearts, and disease, but as young bodies become old, alienation and loneliness tend to edge out lust. When reality doesn’t sink in until age forty or fifty, lost decades cannot be replaced. The situation is better for people who get married, but then a false understanding of freedom frequently leads to divorce.

    Ideologies have also benefited from grass-is-greener yearning coupled with misunderstanding. Ironically, many liberals during the 1930s embraced the greatest enslaving movement of the twentieth century—communism. Some in the 1960s became supporters of Cuba’s Castro, China’s Mao, or the Soviet Union’s Brezhnev, even though their prisons were filled with those who had defended family-based freedom. Communism’s bait-and-switch attracted those who did not realize the complications inherent in defining the results of Karl Marx’s mantra, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Beyond a bare minimum of calories and shelter, what are needs, as opposed to wants and desires? “Power to the people,” but which people? The classic Marxist saying should more accurately have concluded, “To each according to his demand for power—and his viciousness toward those seen as obstacles."

    Marvin Olasky, Standing for Christ in a Modern Babylon, p. 101-102

    Where Is The Original Bible?

    • Defining The Issues:
              -Critics of Christianity commonly lay the charge that we have no grounds for saying that the Bible as we possess it today is reliable because we do not have the original autographs available to our hands. In other words, we do not have the original manuscripts of the Bible. While this point is certainly a valid concern, most biblical scholars do not believe that the lack of access to the original biblical manuscripts is overly problematic. It is true that we cannot possess absolute certainty behind every little jot that has been recorded into the biblical records. We can have a sufficient degree of certainty behind the reliability of the Bibles that we study.
    • Why We Can Trust The Bible:
              -No possible translation errors found in ancient biblical manuscripts alter Christian doctrines or the historical reliability of the Bible. They range from minor spelling errors, minor errors in grammar, to differences in sentence structure. Most of these manuscript errors can be corrected through the the comparison of different manuscripts which stand in agreement with each other. There are literally thousands of Greek manuscripts and papyri which support  the accuracy of the New Testament canon. In fact, some of the biblical manuscripts which form the basis of the Bible translations sold in stores can be dated as early as 130 AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Greek Septuagint canon are a few examples of Jewish efforts to preserve the Old Testament canon. They give great testimony to the great accuracy of the Old Testament documents. The fact that we do not have the original Bible poses no serious problem for Christianity because we have several manuscripts that all agree on the truthfulness of events recorded in biblical texts.
    • Plausible Reasons For God Not Allowing Us To Touch The Original Biblical Manuscripts:
              -We have the inherent tendency to turn physical objects into idols. If Christians had access to the original Bible, then they would most probably end up idolizing it because it was written by men who were directly inspired by God. In other words, people would become more focused on the aspect of God preserving His words, rather than getting saved and preaching the gospel to bring lost souls to the Lord Jesus Christ. People would only be adoring the words of God, rather than the actual Person who spoke those words. That would be idolatry.
              -It is better to have many reliable manuscripts because it is more difficult to corrupt many of them than it is to corrupt an individual copy. If a heretic produces a corrupt manuscript or attempts to corrupt an already existing biblical manuscript, then we can deem that person as heretical because we can judge them by the many other reliable manuscripts in existence. In this scenario, having more than one reliable copy of biblical manuscripts can make discernment easier. It is therefore better that we do not have access to the original copy of the Bible.

    Sunday, May 14, 2017

    Tradition In The Early Church

    [Tertullian] insisted that Christians must not pick and choose doctrines according to their whims; their sole authorities were the apostles, who had themselves faithfully transmitted Christ’s teaching. Both [Tertullian and Irenaeus] on occasion described this original message as tradition, using the word to denote the teaching delivered by the apostles, without any implied contrast between tradition and Scripture. (p.36)

    On the other hand, Irenaeus took it for granted that the apostolic tradition had also been deposited in written documents. As he says, “what the apostles at first proclaimed by word of mouth, they afterwards by God’s will conveyed to us in Scriptures.” (p. 37-38)

    Did Irenaeus then subordinate Scripture to unwritten tradition?…. his real defense of orthodoxy was founded on Scripture. Indeed, tradition itself, on his view, was confirmed by Scripture, which was “the foundation and pillar of our faith.” Secondly, Irenaeus admittedly suggested that a firm grasp of “the canon of truth” received at baptism would prevent a man from distorting the sense of Scripture. But this “canon,” so far from being something distinct from Scripture, was simply a condensation of the message contained in it. … The whole point of his teaching was, in fact, that Scripture and the Church’s unwritten tradition are identical in content, both being vehicles of the revelation. (p. 38-39)

    [Tertullian] was emphatic that no secret tradition existed, and that it was incredible that the apostles did not know, or failed to pass on, the revelation in its entirety. (p. 40)

    Like Irenaeus, Tertullian is convinced that Scripture is consonant in all its parts, and that its meaning should be clear if it is read as a whole. But where controversy with heretics breaks out, the right interpretation can be found only where the true Christian faith and discipline have been maintained, i.e. in the Church. The heretics, he complained, were able to make Scripture say what they liked because they disregarded the regula. (p. 40)

    It was the Bible, declared Clement of Alexandria about A.D. 200, which as interpreted by the Church, was the source of Christian teaching. His greater disciple Origen was a thorough-going Biblicist who appealed again and again to Scripture as the decisive criterion of dogma. The Church drew her catechetical material, he stated, from the prophets, the gospels and the apostles’ writings; her faith, he suggested, was buttressed by Holy Scripture supported by common sense. “The holy and inspired Scriptures,” wrote Athanasius a century later, “are fully sufficient for the proclamation of the truth”; while his contemporary, Cyril of Jerusalem, laid it down that “with regard to the divine and saving mysteries of faith no doctrine, however trivial, may be taught without the backing of the divine Scriptures…. For our saving faith derives its force, not from capricious reasonings, but from what may be proved out of the Bible.” Later in the same century John Chrysostom bade his congregation seek no other teacher that the oracles of God; everything was straightforward and clear in the Bible, and the sum of necessary knowledge could be extracted from it. In the West Augustine declared that “in the plain teaching of Scripture we find all that concerns our belief and moral conduct”; while a little later Vincent of Lerins (d. c. 450) took it as an axiom the Scriptural canon was “sufficient, and more than sufficient, for all purposes.” (p. 42-43)

    Further, it was everywhere taken for granted that, for any doctrine to win acceptance, it had first to establish its Scriptural basis. (p. 46)

    J.N.D Kelly, "Early Christian Doctrines"

    Does John 10:34 Support The Mormon Teaching That Men Can Become Gods?

    • Discussion:
              -Mormons interpret the phrase "you are gods" in John 10:34 and Psalm 82:6 to mean that we can become gods in the afterlife.

             First of all, it is vitally important to realize that Jesus Christ never said, "You are able to become gods." Taken completely out of context, the phrase reads, "You are gods." This is in the present tense, which makes the Mormon interpretation of this minuscule phrase totally inconsistent because Mormon theology does not teach that human beings who are present here on earth are gods, but rather can become gods in the afterlife. Mormonism does not teach that Mormons are gods here on this earth.

              John 10:34 is a quotation from Psalm 82, which speaks of divinely appointed human judges, who would "die like men" (Psalm 82:7). In John 10, Jesus Christ was simply pointing to the fact that the Jewish teachers of His time were fatally erring in their doctrine. They were doing so in the same manner as the judges of Psalm 82 erred. Christ was criticizing the grave doctrinal errors of the Scribes and Pharisees who constantly challenged His teachings. He refereed to them as being "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:37). He said that their father was the devil (John 8:44). He rebuked them for teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15; Mark 7).

             The context of John 10:34 is about the rebuking of false doctrine (John 10:36-37). According to the Bible, there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8), which means that we cannot become gods in the afterlife. While it is true that Christians will eventually receive new, perfected, glorified bodies in the eternal state, the fact still remains that we cannot become gods. Biblical Christianity has always been a monotheistic religion.

    Saturday, May 13, 2017

    Examples Of Contradiction In Mormon Revelation

    • While the Book of Mormon has passages teaching strict monotheism (Alma 11:28; 2 Nephi 31:21; Mormon 7:7), other inspired Mormon writings affirm the existence of many gods (Doctrine and Covenants: Section 121:32; 132:18-20, 37).
    • While the Book of Mormon has passages teaching that God cannot lie (Ether 3:12; 2 Nephi 9:34), God commands lying in the Pearl of Great Price (Book of Abraham 2:22-25).
    • While the Book of Mormon affirms that God's words are unchangeable (Alma 41:8), the Doctrine of Covenants says that God's words can change (Section 56:4-5).
    • While the Book of Mormon has passages condemning polygamy (Jacob 1:15; 2:23, 24, 27, 31; 3:5; Mosiah 11:2), the Doctrine and Covenants commands the practice of polygamy (Section 132:1, 37-39, 61).
    • While the Book of Mormon contains passages teaches that God dwells in the heart (Alma 34:36), the Doctrine and Covenants contains passages denying that God dwells in the heart (Section 130:3).

      Friday, May 12, 2017

      No Evidence Supporting The Book Of Mormon

              The Church of Latter-day Saints, which is traditionally known as the Mormon Church, is notorious for its outlandish claims regarding the total apostasy of Christianity. This church claims to be a restoration of lost truth. In other words, this religious sect maintains that the entire Christian Church has gone into an irreparable state of corruption and that the available biblical revelation to mankind has also been lost. The Mormon Church claims that Joseph Smith, its founder, had received special revelation from God in Palmyra, New York, to start a completely new religion to restore the lost, original teachings of Christianity. It claims that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith from Golden Nephi Plates.

              There is a great abundance of historical evidence for the ancient cities, rivers, nations, leaders, coins, and events that are recorded in the Bible. In fact, this religious text has been used by archaeologists as a map to locate ancient cities. The Bible is a source of documentation confirming the antiquity of different religious customs and ways of life. The original languages used in the process of recording the Bible into manuscript form have been used in Israel and the Greco-Roman world for centuries (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic). There are thousands New Testament manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts existing today, which lend incredible support to the overall veracity of the Bible translations that we study in modern-times. The New Testament documents alone are almost one hundred percent textually pure. It has wider source attestation than any other ancient collection of writings. Bible translations are not simply translations of translations, but rather, are translated directly from the best Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts available. The Bible is utterly consistent with world history, and does not contradict archaeological finds. 

              The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is a much different story when we take the time to examine statements from most scholars, historians, and archaeologists who have taken the time to study the Mormon scriptures to evaluate their claims of historical accuracy. We come to discover that the allegedly inspired Mormon texts have a much lower reputation than what the Mormons want us to believe. Most, if not all, of the historical content found in the Book of Mormon has never been verified through archaeological finds. Globally famous scientific research and educational institutions such as the Smithsonian Institute and the National Geographic Society have come to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon is essentially a worthless guide when it comes to archaeology. There is no evidence existing whatsoever for the cities, or even names found on inscriptions, to strengthen the case for Mormonism. It is simply devoid of factual support. The material is simply the product of one's own imagination. Consider this excerpt from one Mormon archaeologist:

              “For example, some popular 'Mormon' books show pictures of classic Maya, Inca, and Aztec ruins and attribute them to the Nephites. Scholars are aware that these civilizations postdate Book of Mormon times. Other gross errors include the use of outdated or otherwise unreliable source materials and the tendency to make every piece of evidence fit neatly into the Book of Mormon picture, whether it belongs there or not." (U.A.S. Newsletter, No. 54, Nov. 19, 1958, p. Z. Dr. Dee F. Green, LDS Archaeologist and the editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter at B.Y.U.)

              While the accuracy of the Bible can be verified through the comparison of reliable manuscripts, the Book of Mormon has no standard to verify its accuracy because the “Angel Maroni” supposedly took the Golden Nephi Plates from the hands of Joseph Smith. Not only does the world not have the Golden Nephi Plates to examine, but the Book of Mormon also contains thousands of verbatim quotations, including translation errors, from the 1611 King James Version peppered throughout its pages. It has been estimated that 27,000 words have been reproduced from this translation and incorporated into the Book of Mormon. This fact is devastating to the Book of Mormon, especially when Mormonism claims that the entire text of the book can be dated before 421 AD! How does the process of translating reformed Egyptian into the English language appear identically as if one is translating Koine Greek to English?

              "...compare Isaiah, chapter 53 in the King James translation of the Bible with Mosiah, chapter 14, in the Book of Mormon. This reveals that the King James translation has been copied almost word for word. Also compare Matthew, chapter 6, verses 1 through 23, with the Photo-reproduction No. 11, of page 482 of the 1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon. Here the King James translation has been copied even using the word "which" for "who" which was perfectly proper at the time of the King James translation but not so in 1830 when the Book of Mormon was written. On this page 482 of the Original Edition the words, "Father which" occurs seven times, but in later editions of the Book of Mormon, but "which" has been changed to "who" (See 3 Nephi 13:1-18)." (Arthur Budvarson, The Book of Mormon: True or False?, p. 25)

              Furthermore, there have been approximately four thousand alterations to the Book of Mormon since it was originally published in 1830 AD. Additionally, there is no known evidence for the language called "Reformed Egyptian," which was the language that Joseph Smith supposedly translated from the Golden Nephi Plates into the Book of Mormon. This language remains completely hidden from Egyptologists.

              Former defenders of Mormon archaeology such as Thomas Stuart Ferguson have admitted to the absolute futility of spending years in an attempt to prove the reliability of Mormon archaeology through historical research. They have been led to the same conclusion as outside critics that the contents found within the Book of Mormon are completely fictional in nature. Any notion of ancient Hebrew people living on the ancient American continent is ridiculous. Even the Book of Mormon admits to the possibility of it being in error:

              "Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself." (1 Nephi 19:6)

      "And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record." (Book of Mormon 9:33)

              Mormonism maintains that the entire early church went into a complete state of apostasy. Mormons maintain that they are God's restored church. But we need to ask ourselves when this total apostasy happened? What is the evidence for this claim? The most primitive Christian writers after biblical times make no mention of any uniquely Mormon doctrines. One can read through the writings of early Christians such as Ignatius of Antioch, Clement, Eusebius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Polycarp, and others only to find no mention of any peculiarly Mormon doctrines. We find no mention of any major articles of the Mormon faith such as polytheism, polygamy, celestial marriage, temple ceremonies, or any other distinctive. We do not even find an inkling of the coming of a complete apostasy of the church in the volumes of writings produced by the most primitive Christians. If the Mormon Church today is the prototype of the original churches of the first century, then we should find mention of distinctly Mormon doctrines in every corner of the early church. But this is certainly not the case. The Book of Mormon is devoid of factual support.

      Darwinism Has No Regard For Humanity

      "I have not yet found reference to groups of Darwinists in America or England saying that their philosophy compelled them to be concerned about suffering and starving people in other parts of the world. What a joke. Darwinism is fundamentally, necessarily, and essentially inhumane. If people starve to death or perish from illness or violence, that’s just the way life is. We are only animals after all, with no immortal souls, no spark of the divine, and nothing in essence to distinguish us from the beasts. We don’t get excited if other animals are dying—why the unscientific species bias in favor of people?" (p. 221)

      "Darwin did have a very limited concept of the value of human life. His famous Origin of the Species is subtitled “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” —ominous words, especially when we consider that in The Descent of ManDarwin wrote: “At some future period, not very distant when measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

      "If a right-wing fundamentalist Christian wrote about superior races exterminating savage races, there would be anguished howls of righteous indignation from the secular anti-religious left, and the statement would be used as proof of the evil intolerance of theistic religious belief. But, if Darwin said it? It should be added that Darwin saw nothing wrong with this extermination—he saw it as natural and normal." (p. 350)

      Joseph Keysor, Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible

      Wednesday, May 10, 2017

      Formulating Logical Thoughts

      • Introduction:
                -Derived from the Greek word "Logos", the English word "logic" is the process that examines how the principles of reason are used in any given context. In other words, it the the formulation of rational thoughts which are established on known laws of logic. Reasoning consists entirely of premises that are used to draw a conclusion from analyzed data. The process of logic investigates the validity of premises and therefore determines the validity of any reached conclusion. If A = B and B = C, then A = C. Evidence can point in favor of, remain neutral, or away from any given proposition.
      • Deductive Logic:
                -This method of reasoning operates on inferences from a series of statements to obtain a logically plausible conclusion. This form of logic connects premises to conclusions. In order to reach a truthful conclusion by using deducting reasoning, the premises must be true. The conclusions automatically follows from these kinds of arguments.
      • Inductive Logic:
                -This method of reasoning operates on multiple logical premises, which are believed to be true. However, the conclusions for this kind of argumentation are not completely verifiable. They are not always certain. Applications of inductive logic are required in areas involving prediction, forecasting, or behavior.
      • The Three Foundational Laws Of Classic Logic:
                -The three fundamental laws of basic logic are the Law of Non-Contradiction, the Law of Excluded Middle, and the Law of Identity.
      • The Law Of Non-Contradiction:
                -The Law of Non-Contradiction states that a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time. Any given series of statements cannot rule out the possibility of each other. In order to be true, they cannot be irreconcilable.
      • The Law Of Excluded Middle:
                -The Law of Excluded Middle teaches that either a given proposition is true or its negation is true. Unknown ideas are not equivalent to being true or false, since their validity is not known.
      • The Law Of Identity:
                -The Law of Identity teaches that each object is identical with itself. An item exists in the form that it exists. It is exactly as our eyes perceive. In other words, A = A.               

      Tuesday, May 9, 2017

      The Principle Of Double Effect

      • Introduction:
                 -Following is a brief explanation of the Principle of Double Effect. There are certain situations in which this principle is of no avail. It has limitations of its own. It is interesting to note that both the religious and secular spheres of this world have occupied the Principle of Double Effect to determine the morality of actions in different circumstances.
      • In Order To Determine Whether A Person Can Be Held Fully Accountable For His Or Her Sins (Which Are Always Wrong), The Following Criteria Must Be Considered:
                1.) A Serious Action
                2.) Full knowledge and understanding
                3.)  Deliberate consent of the will
      • Description:
                 -The act in itself cannot be morally wrong or intrinsically evil (always wrong, regardless of this circumstances, intentions, etc.).
                 -The bad effect cannot be the cause of the good effect.
                 -The person cannot have a desire for the evil effect to take place in any given scenario, though it can be foreseen. Both the good and bad effects must be embraced equally.
                 -There either has to be proportionate reasons for the toleration of negative consequences or must be outweighed by the good effects.
      • How To Apply The Principle Of Double Effect:
                 -If the action in question violates any of the conditions described previously, then it must be rejected completely. That action must be deemed intrinsically evil.
      • Inevitable Limitations Of The Principle Of Double Effect:
                 -This principle of morality can only be used for actions that have good and bad effects.

      Sunday, May 7, 2017

      We Walk By Faith; Not By Sight

                 "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:6-10) 

                 In context, the Apostle Paul is exhorting the Church of Corinth to not be focused on the worldly aspects of life, but rather constantly emphasize things of the supernatural, transcendent realm of God the Creator. We need to focus on the things of God, rather than on the evil system of this world (1 John 2:15-16). We should not center our lives around worldly passions because the things of this world are fading away. Christians need to focus on the unseen realities of this world such as God Himself and our eternal destinies.

                 The phrase "walking by faith" is a reference to how we should conduct ourselves in this life. It describes how our lifestyles should be in Christ. When we walk by faith, we are considering the possible eternal consequences of our actions. We are looking into the future. To view life through the lens of faith is to know and obey God at all costs. It means having the courage to stand out, even if every other member of a civilization is partaking of a different, foreign route of life. 

                 To walk by faith means to continually entertain the things of God. We must always act in accordance to His will, which is true righteousness. While those who chose to do God's will are promised heavenly rewards (Matthew 16:27; Galatians 6:7-9), those who reject His precepts will stand eternally condemned (John 3:16-18; Matthew 25:41-46). To walk by faith means acting against the corrupted whims of society. Walking by faith requires us to tune the radio of our hearts to the signal waves provided by God through the Holy Spirit. We walk by faith through the consideration of the eternal consequences of our overall actions. We examine the morality of our decisions by living in according to His will, as revealed through divine revelation.