Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Did Jerome Change His Mind On The Apocrypha?

                                                          By Ray Aviles

[I have known Ray Aviles quite a few years now, and I've always been impressed by his work and discussions on Roman Catholic doctrine. A few years back, I read him in dialog with a Roman Catholic on Jerome and the Apocrypha. It was so compelling, I never forgot about it, so I've asked him to write on it here. This is a good one to bookmark- James].

There’s an argument going around the Catholic apologetic circles claiming that Jerome changed his position on the Apocrypha later in his life. That he came to accept these books as inspired because of the “judgment of the churches” on this matter. Furthermore, they claim the evidence of this lies in his citing these books using the word “Scripture” to define them. RC apologist Mark Shea provides an example of this in an Envoy Magazine article (found here: He writes:

"In his later years St. Jerome did indeed accept the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible. In fact, he wound up strenuously defending their status as inspired Scripture, writing, "What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume (ie. canon), proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I wasn't relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us" (Against Rufinus 11:33 [A.D. 402]). In earlier correspondence with Pope Damasus, Jerome did not call the deuterocanonical books unscriptural, he simply said that Jews he knew did not regard them as canonical. But for himself, he acknowledged the authority of the Church in defining the canon. When Pope Damasus and the Councils of Carthage and Hippo included the deuterocanon in Scripture, that was good enough for St. Jerome. He "followed the judgment of the churches."

Shea not only claims that Jerome accepted them, but that he “strenuously” defended them. A word used to intrigue the reader, but there is no evidence that he defended them, let alone “strenuously.” Furthermore, from the citation above, he states that Jerome followed the “judgment of the churches”, which Shea translates as the synods of Hippo and Carthage, but he is mistaken. Contextually, the “judgment of the churches” refers to Theodotion’s translation of Daniel which the churches were using instead of the Septuagint version. To add to this, he couldn’t have followed Carthage considering they met 17 years after Jerome penned the above. Both Hippo and Carthage were regional councils, didn’t speak for the entire church, thus it wasn’t mandated that Jerome submit to their decisions. Yet, it was Theodotion’s version Jerome refers to when he mentions the “judgment of the churches” and not their decision on canon:

"In reference to Daniel my answer will be that I did not say that he was not a prophet; on the contrary, I confessed in the very beginning of the Preface that he was a prophet. But I wished to show what was the opinion upheld by the Jews; and what were the arguments on which they relied for its proof. I also told the reader that the version read in the Christian churches was not that of the Septuagint translators but that of Theodotion. It is true, I said that the Septuagint version was in this book very different from the original, and that it was condemned by the right judgment of the churches of Christ; but the fault was not mine who only stated the fact, but that of those who read the version. We have four versions to choose from: those of Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy, and Theodotion. The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, "As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion." Otherwise from the fact that I stated that Porphyry had said many things against this prophet, and called, as witnesses of this, Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinarius, who have replied to his folly in many thousand lines, it will be in his power to accuse me for not baring written in my Preface against the books of Porphyry. If there is any one who pays attention to silly things like this, I must tell him loudly and free that no one is compelled to read what he does not want; that I wrote for those who asked me, not for those who would scorn me, for the grateful not the carping, for the earnest not the indifferent. Still, I wonder that a man should read the version of Theodotion the heretic and judaizer, and should scorn that of a Christian, simple and sinful though he may be.

The issue was Theodotion’s (a known heretic) translation of Daniel which was being used by the churches. The translation was faulty, wasn’t based on the Septuagint, and condemned by the “right judgment of the churches”, but the reader can see that this in no way applies to the decision on canon made at the local councils of Hippo and Carthage.

Jerome goes on to say that he is merely stating Jewish opinion against these books. Although this was the view he espoused, he was not the originator, and it put him in the uncomfortable position of arguing with the Jews on this. J.N.D. Kelly expounds:

"Jerome, conscious of the difficulty of arguing with Jews on the basis of books they spurned and anyhow regarding the Hebrew original as authoritative, was adamant that anything not found in it was ‘to be classed among the apocrypha’, not in the canon; later he grudgingly conceded that the Church read some of these books for edification, but not to support doctrine." [J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper, 1960), p. 55].

He was further riled by the fact that the churches followed the translation of a known heretic instead of a Christian such as himself. As an aside, Shea wrongfully associates Pope Damasus as being in agreement with the alleged “decision” at Hippo and Carthage, but Damasus died in 384 A.D, nine years before Hippo (393) and thirteen years before Carthage (397).

Shea continues with the usual RC apologetic misrepresentations against Martin Luther, naming him as the culprit who excluded the deuterocanonicals (Jim Swan did a wonderful job of putting the proper perspective on Luther and the canon here) Yet, I’ve always found this to be odd reasoning considering the Roman Catholic canon wasn’t decided until Trent. Cardinal Cajetan (the same one who opposed Luther) and Cardinal Ximenes, both contemporaries of the era, wrote against the canonicity of these books as well. Further, there was opposition within Trent regarding these books, spearheaded by the group led by Giralamo Cardinal Seripando (for more information on this, read Hubert Jedin’s Cardinal Seripando, Papal Legate at Trent). The mere fact that there was opposition at Trent substantiates that no canon was in effect where the “judgment of the churches” would authoritatively bind the Catholic to the decision at Hippo and Carthage.

Shea reiterates his error here:

"As St. Jerome said, it is upon the basis of "the judgment of the churches" and no other that the canon of Scripture is known, since the Scriptures are simply the written portion of the Church's apostolic tradition."

Again, Shea is embellishing Jerome’s statements regarding the “judgment of the churches” to mean something that it isn’t. As I’ve already shown, contextually, Jerome is saying something else entirely. Yet, Shea isn’t the only one who tries to make Jerome pro-deuteros. Some Catholic apologists play more loosely with Jerome’s words. An apologist who calls himself “Matt1618” asserts in his internet article “Did Some Church Fathers Reject the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture” (found here: that Jerome did indeed show an acceptance of these books because he never denied them inspiration and he called them “Scripture” in his later writings. This is merely “reading between the lines” in an attempt to find something more favorable to his position. He states:

"In fact it is true that none of the Fathers, even St. Jerome, ever deny their inspiration."

I don’t know how “Matt1618” would define this “denial”, but all this amounts to wishful thinking. To put it simply, what Jerome states in his prefaces and commentaries amounts to a denial of their inspiration as well as their canonicity. To put it plainly, if Jerome states that a book isn’t canonical it is only because Jerome doesn’t believe it is inspired. Scripture is “God-breathed” and men wrote as they were inspired of God. Inspired books are in the canon because they came from the very mouth of God. It defeats the purpose of the canon if some “God-breathed” Scriptures are included and others aren’t. If a book is not in the canon, it is because it is not inspired. In essence, “Matt1618” is implying that Jerome didn’t see “inspiration” as the criterion for inclusion into the canon and that a book can be “inspired” and “Scripture” and, for whatever reasons, be outside of the canon. In his commentary on Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus, Jerome states:

"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two Volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church."

According to Jerome, these books are ecclesiastical, capable of spiritual teaching, but cannot be used for supporting church doctrine. This begs the question: Since when is known Scripture not to be used for supporting doctrine? Even Scripture itself attests:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Furthermore, Jerome, emphatically states in his preface to the books of Samuel and Kings:

"This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a "helmeted" introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon."

In his preface to the Daniel he states:

"I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing to them an obelus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume."

Four things are to be noted here. The first being that the additions weren’t in the Hebrew Scriptures; secondly, that Jerome calls Bel and the Dragon a “fable”; thirdly, that they were appended to his Vulgate; and fourthly, that they were marked with an “obelus” which is a critical symbol used in ancient manuscripts to mark a questionable passage. Nothing here reveals any indication that Jerome held, at least, the additions to be inspired Scripture.

Again, to Jerome, the extra books were “…not to give authority to the doctrines of the Church” and they “…are not in the canon.” Attempting to draw skepticism by claiming that he didn’t call them “uninspired” is leading the reader at best. Sure, they have some ecclesiastical value within them, but a book doesn’t need to be inspired or canonical to have ecclesiastical value. Although there are other passages from his writings that I can cite, I believe these suffice in showing that Jerome did not believe the Apocryphal books were inspired.

Next, “Matt1618” states there is evidence that Jerome did indeed cite these books and cited them “…approximately 55 times.” This is easy to refute. After all, if Paul can cite pagan writers such as Menander, Epimenedes, or Aratus, I’m sure Jerome can cite from these books which he claimed were good for the edification of the church as well as others. But “Matt 1618” goes further and says that he cited them as Scripture. He then goes to give a few selected quotes from Jerome:

(I am citing from his article, my comments are in black fonts and brackets)

Does not the SCRIPTURE say: 'Burden not thyself above thy power' [SIRACH 13:2] Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207 [* Matt1618 is correct, Jerome does call this verse from Sirach “Scripture”, but one must question if what he means is in the “inspired” sense. Considering he has already stated that “Ecclesiasticus” (Sirach) is not to be used doctrinally (see above) we can assume that this is not the case]

Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: "wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]" Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion (Num. 11:16)? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age (Daniel 13:55-59, or Story of Susannah 55-59, only found in the Catholic Bibles) Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119 [* Matt1618 is reading too much into this citation, although he “cites” these books, citing them doesn’t mean he viewed them as “Scripture”, especially in light of the fact that he stated the books can be used “ecclesiastically”]

"I would cite the words of the psalmist: 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel 'I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] AND THOSE OF BARUCH,'Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] AND MANY OTHER PROCLAMATIONS MADE BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE PROPHETS." Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159 [* Same as above]

[It is true that a festival such as the birthday of Saint Peter should be seasoned with more gladness than usual;]still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground. Your presents, indeed, remind me of the sacred volume, for in it Ezekiel decks Jerusalem with bracelets, (Eze. 16:11) Baruch receives letters from Jeremiah,(Jer. 36, Bar. 6) and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ.(Mt. 3:16) Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 31:2 (A.D. 384), in NPNF2, VI:45 [* In the beginning brackets, I added what “Matt1618” left out considering this adds context to the passage. If I would’ve left it exactly as he cited it, then it would seem as if this is one thought. However, the first “Scripture” is within the context of the festival of St. Peter. The second “sacred volume” is in the context of the presents given to Jerome. These are two thought and not one. Thus, when he cites Baruch, he isn’t specifically calling it Scripture and, again, Jerome could be citing it for its ecclesiastical value].

As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession. For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. [Sir. 27:5] "Potters' vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation." And in another place it is written: [Sir. 2:1] "My son, when thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation." Again, the same James says: [James 3:22]"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book 2, 3 NPNF2, VI:390 [* Matt1618 makes the assumption that Jerome’s usage of the phrase “it is written” is being used in the biblical sense—that there is an air of Scriptural credibility within this phrase—but he never stops to think if Jerome simply meant that these citations were “written”, nothing more and nothing less).

"Yet the Holy Spirit in the thirty-ninth(9) psalm, while lamenting that all men walk in a vain show, and that they are subject to sins, speaks thus: "For all that every man walketh in the image."(Psalm 39:6) Also after David's time, in the reign of Solomon his son, we read a somewhat similar reference to the divine likeness. For in the book of Wisdom, WHICH IS INSCRIBED WITH HIS NAME, SOLOMON SAYS: "GOD CREATED MAN TO BE IMMORTAL, AND MADE HIM TO BE AN IMAGE OF HIS OWN ETERNITY."(Wisdom 2:23) And again, about eleven hundred and eleven years afterwards, we read in the New Testament that men have not lost the image of God. For James, an apostle and brother of the Lord, whom I have mentioned above--that we may not be entangled in the snares of Origen--teaches us that man does possess God's image and likeness. For, after a somewhat discursive account of the human tongue, he has gone on to say of it: "It is an unruly evil ... therewith bless we God, even the Father and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God."(James 3:8-9) Paul, too, the "chosen vessel,"(Acts 9:15) who in his preaching has fully maintained the doctrine of the gospel, instructs us that man is made in the image and after the likeness of God. "A man," he says, "ought not to wear long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God."(1 Cor. 11:7) He speaks of "the image" simply, but explains the nature of the likeness by the word "glory."

7. Instead of THE THREE PROOFS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, BEHOLD I HAVE GIVEN YOU SEVEN"--- Jerome, Letter 51, NPNF2, VI:87-8 [* In context, Jerome gives more then seven Scriptures within this passage and there is no way of telling whether the citation from Wisdom is amongst the “seven”, but for the sake of argument we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know why “Matt1618”capitalizes “which is inscribed with his name” and I can only hope he isn’t implying that “his name” refers to God, thus indicating inspiration. On the contrary, this evidently refers to Solomon who it is said wrote this book].

A. "Your argument is ingenious, but you do not see THAT IT GOES AGAINST HOLY SCRIPTURE, which declares that even ignorance is not without sin. Hence it was that Job offered sacrifices for his sons, test, perchance, they had unwittingly sinned in thought. And if, when one is cutting wood, the axe-head flies from the handle and kills a man, the owner is[Num. 35:8] commanded to go to one of the cities of refuge and stay there until the high priest dies; that is to say, until he is redeemed by the Saviour's blood, either in the baptistery, or in penitence which is a copy of the grace of baptism, through the ineffable mercy of the Saviour, who[Ezek. 18:23] would not have any one perish, nor delights in the death of sinners, but would rather that they should be converted and live. C. It is surely strange justice to hold me guilty of a sin of error of which my conscience does not accuse itself. I am not aware that I have sinned, and am I to pay the penalty for an offence of which I am ignorant? What more can I do, if I sin voluntarily?

A. DO YOU EXPECT ME TO EXPLAIN THE PURPOSES AND PLANS OF GOD? THE BOOK OF WISDOM GIVES AN ANSWER TO YOUR FOOLISH QUESTION: [Sir 3:21] "LOOK NOT INTO THINGS ABOVE THEE, AND SEARCH NOT THINGS TOO MIGHTY FOR THEE." AND ELSEWHERE,[5] "Make not thyself overwise, and argue not more than is fitting." And in the same place, "In wisdom and simplicity of heart seek God." You will perhaps deny the authority of this book;" "Jerome, "Against the Pelagians, NPNF2, VI:464-5" [* He submits these together, but anyone can see that when Jerome refers to Scripture in the passage, he is referring to canonical Scripture (Job, Numbers, and Ezekiel). The citation from Sirach is independent of the above citation and there is no indication that Jerome cites it as Scripture].

"And in the proverbs Solomon tells us that as "the north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.(Prov. 25:23)" It sometimes happens that an arrow when it is aimed at a hard object rebounds upon the bowman, wounding the would-bewounder, and thus, the words are fulfilled, "they were turned aside like a deceitful bow," (Psalm 128:57) and in another passage: "whoso casteth a stone on high casteth it on his own head." (Sir. 27:25) Jerome, To Rusticus, Epistle 125, 19 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:251 [* Again, although Sirach is used in context alongside Scripture, it doesn’t prove much, especially in light of ecclesiastical usage]

9. Let me call to my aid the example of the three children, (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3) who, amid the cool, encircling fire, sang hymns, (Song of Three Holy Children, found only in Deuterocanonical portion of Daniel 3) instead of weeping, and around whose turbans and holy hair the flames played harmlessly. Let me recall, too, the story of the blessed Daniel, in whose presence, though he was their natural prey, the lions crouched, with fawning tails and frightened mouths.(Daniel 6) Let Susannah also rise in the nobility of her faith before the thoughts of all; who, after she had been condemned by an unjust sentence, was saved through a youth inspired by the Holy Ghost (Susanna 45, or Daniel 13:45). In both cases the Lord's mercy was alike shewn; for while Susannah was set free by the judge, so as not to die by the sword, this woman, though condemned by the judge, was acquitted by the sword. Jerome, Letter 1:9, NPNF2, VI:2 [* Jerome cites the additions to Daniel, but this doesn’t mean he cited this as inspired Scripture and not ecclesiastically]

6. I salute your mother and mine with the respect which, as you know, I feel towards her. Associated with you as she is in a holy life, she has the start of you, her holy children, in that she is your mother. Her womb may thus be truly called golden. With her I salute your sisters, who ought all to be welcomed wherever they go, for they have triumphed over their sex and the world, and await the Bridegroom's coming, (Mt. 25:4) their lamps replenished with oil. O happy the house which is a home of a widowed Anna, of virgins that are prophetesses, and of twin Samuels bred in the Temple! (Luke 2:36, Acts 21:9, 1 Sam. 2:18) Fortunate the roof which shelters the martyr-mother of the Maccabees, with her sons around her, each and all wearing the martyr's crown! (2 Macc. 7) For although you confess Christ every day by keeping His commandments, yet to this private glory you have added the public one of an open confession; for it was through you that the poison of the Arian heresy was formerly banished from your city. Jerome, to Chromatius, Jovinus, and Eusebius, Letter 7:6, NPNF2, VI:10[* Jerome cited a historical fact which happens to be recorded in 2 Maccabees 7. Citing history doesn’t make the history book “Scripture”]

But now that a virgin has conceived (Isa. 7:14) in the womb and has borne to us a child of which the prophet says that "Government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called the mighty God, the everlasting Father," (Isa. 9:6) now the chain of the curse is broken. Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. And thus the gift of virginity has been bestowed most richly upon women, seeing that it has had its beginning from a woman. As soon as the Son of God set foot upon the earth, He formed for Himself a new household there; that, as He was adored by angels in heaven, angels might serve Him also on earth. Then chaste Judith once more cut off the head of Holofernes (Jud. 13).Then Haman--whose name means iniquity--was once more burned in fire of his own kindling (Est. 7:10) Then James and John forsook father and net and ship and followed the Saviour: neither kinship nor the world's ties, nor the care of their home could hold them back. Then were the words heard: "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) For no soldier goes with a wife to battle. Even when a disciple would have buried his father, the Lord forbade him, and said: "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." (Mt. 8:20-22) So you must not complain if you have but scanty house-room. In the same strain, the apostle writes: "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married careth for the things of the world how she may please her husband." (1 Cor. 7:34-36). Jerome, to Eustochium, Letter 22:21, NPNF2, VI:30 [* Again, citing an apocryphal book doesn’t mean that Jerome viewed it as “Scripture” when he could be using it ecclesiastically]

For it is not ecclesiastical rank that makes a man a Christian. The centurion Cornelius was still a heathen when he was cleansed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Daniel was but a child when he judged the elders.( Dan. 13:55-63, or Susanna 55-63) Amos was stripping mulberry bushes when, in a moment, he was made a prophet (Amos 7:14) David was only a shepherd when he was chosen to be king.(2 Sam. 16:11-13) And the least of His disciples was the one whom Jesus loved the most. My brother, sit down in the lower room, that when one less honorable comes you may be bidden to go up higher (Luke 14:10). Jerome, to Heliodorus, Letter 14:9, NPNF2, VI:17. [* Jerome refers to a history recorded in Susanna. Again, nothing that would place Jerome as citing inspired Scripture]

These things, dearest daughter in Christ, I impress upon you and frequently repeat, that you may forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto those things which are before (Phil. 3:12). You have widows like yourself worthy to be your models, Judith renowned in Hebrew story (Jud. 13) and Anna the daughter of Phanuel (Lk 2) famous in the gospel. Both these lived day and night in the temple and preserved the treasure of their chastity by prayer and by fasting. One was a type of the Church which cuts off the head of the devil (Jud. 13:8) and the other first received in her arms the Saviour of the world and had revealed to her the holy mysteries which were to come (Lk 2:36-38). Jerome, to Salvina, Letter 79:10, NPNF2, VI:168 [* Jerome explicitly calls the Judith account a “Hebrew story”, but the account of Phanuel in Luke 2 he calls “the gospel.” If he were citing them both as Scripture, why classify Judith this way and contrast it to a gospel account? I think the answer is obvious].

To summarize, “Matt1618” has only one instance of Jerome calling an Apocryphal book “Scripture”, maybe two if we ease up a bit and include Jerome, Letter 51, NPNF2, VI:87-8. Yet, in neither of these instances do we have anything which would enthrall the reader into believing he accepted these books as inspired Scripture. J.N.D. Kelly sheds light on Jerome’s usage of these books and his usage of the word Scripture:

Jerome’s conversion to ‘the Hebrew verity’ [i.e. in contrast to the LXX] carried with it an important corollary—his acceptance also of the Hebrew canon, or list of books properly belonging to the Old Testament. Since the early Church had read its Old Testament in Greek, it had taken over without question the so-called Alexandrian canon used in the Greek-speaking Jewish communities outside Palestine. This had included those books (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, etc.) which are variously described as deuterocanonical or as the Apocrypha. Around the end of the first century, however, official Judaism had formally excluded these, limiting the canon to the books which figure in English Bibles as the Old Testament proper. Since Origen’s time it had been recognised that there was a distinction between the Jewish canon and the list acknowledged by Christians, but most writers preferred to place the popular and widely used deutero-canonical books in a special category (e.g. calling them ‘ecclesiastical’) rather than to discard them. Jerome now takes a much firmer line. After enumerating the ‘twenty-two’ (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned ‘apocryphal’: ‘They are not in the canon.’ Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely ‘for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical’. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life—in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), pp. 160-161.

RC apologists, those who argue this way, are merely using sophistry to recreate Jerome and place him on the side of the Deuterocanonicals, but the evidence really doesn’t give them much to stand on. I guess this is due to the fact that Jerome is one of the Doctors of the Church and he happened to disagree that these books were inspired Scripture. It is a source of embarrassment to them so they attempt to salvage whatever they can and find themselves reading “between the lines” of his writings in a futile attempt to win him back. There is no record showing that Jerome had a change of heart regarding these books and the very fact that scholarly clergymen, such as the aforementioned Cardinals, used Jerome’s position as a catalyst for their own disagreements with these books shows an understanding that he never wavered, never changed his position. But some RC apologists choose to blind themselves from the facts.

In conclusion, Augustine, who was a contemporary of Jerome, advocated the Apocryphal books and used his weighty suffrage to influence the African synods (Hippo and Carthage), but his appeal to them was strictly emotional and, as evidenced in the City of God, he used folklore to gain acceptance of these books. Regarding canon issues and languages, it was Jerome who was the canon scholar and not Augustine. In their correspondence on the issue of the Latin translation (dated 404 AD), Jerome chides Augustine for misunderstanding the nuances of his translations (see here: Augustine chose not to side with Jerome, but continued to push the Septuagint over the Hebrew, even though the Septuagint itself was translated into Greek from the Hebrew. Augustine’s adherence to the LXX was based on the story of the “Seventy” which were the 72 Jewish translators who translated the Hebrew into the Greek language. Augustine tells the story of how these men worked separately in cells and when they compared their manuscripts, they were uniform in every detail, word for word. Jerome calls the story of the cells “fables” and made up, but Augustine claimed that because they worked under the same Spirit, they were led in this endeavor, thus proving the LXX to be of God. What Augustine either didn’t understand or ignored is that the “Seventy” only translated the first 5 books of Moses, the Pentateuch. In the website “The Septuagint Online” states:

Philo of Alexandria (fl. 1st c CE) confirms that only the Torah was commissioned to be translated, and some modern scholars have concurred, noting a kind of consistency in the style of the Greek Penteteuch [sic]. Over the course of the next three centuries, however, other books of the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek in an order that is not altogether clear. By observing technical terms and translation styles, by comparing the Greek versions to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and by comparing them to Hellenistic literature, scholars are trying to stitch together a history of the translations that eventually found their way into collections. It seems that sometimes a Hebrew book was translated more than once, or that a particular Greek translation was revised. In other cases, a work was composed afresh in Greek, yet was included in the collection of scriptures (from

Only the Pentateuch was translated by the “Seventy” and Augustine truly had no clear reasoning in accepting the Septuagint and the books not found in the Hebrew text. It would seem he influence men through the use of quaint myths or hearsay, but as for Jerome he was resolute and never changed his mind, never follow a “decision” made by the councils influenced by Augustine and, most obviously, he never felt the need to. Jerome denied both the inspiration and the canonicity of the added books and no amount of historical revision will change the facts.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Christian Examination Of The LGBT Flag

      Most people are familiar with Almighty God's covenantal promise to never flood the world, which was proclaimed back in the days of Noah after the Genesis flood. This worldwide flood was used as a means of executing judgment for mankind's transgressions against Him. Afterwards, He used a rainbow as a covenant symbol to make the promise to never cast judgement on the human race in the same manner again (Genesis 6:5-8; 8:20-22; 9:11, 12:9-17). Sadly, however, the LGBT community has developed a new method for mocking God's wonderful promise to mankind through the innovation of a flag that displays only six of the seven colors of the rainbow.
        Having its origin in the State of California by artist Gilbert Baker, this flag was designed by the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transsexuals to represent their own diverse values through the Gay Pride Movement, which has now been popularized throughout the globe. 

      What is striking about this flag is that its colors mock that of God's covenantal promise, the rainbow, to mankind to never again flood the whole earth. While God's rainbow has seven different colors, the LGBT flag only has six colors of the rainbow. It is missing the color indigo. Not only does the symbolism of the flag contain six out the seven different colors of the rainbow, but it is also important to recognize that the number six is the spiritual number for fallen man and that seven is God's spiritual number. From a biblically grounded standpoint, the LGBT movement can readily be seen as mockery of the Divine Creator.

        Notice that the entire logical foundation of the Gay Pride Movement has been built entirely on pride and self-promotion through wild parades, festivals, clownish apparel, and imagery on public business signs or logos. Furthermore, radical members of the LGBT community have literally fought to silence all forms of disagreement, regardless of whether objections are established on medical or religions grounds. The LGBT community is readily getting the attention that it wants because so many people are too afraid to be called haters or bigots. Most people of our society are focused on "not offending" other people. This all constitutes a violation of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

       The LGBT notion of pride is contrary to everything that the Bible states regarding humility. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; James 4:5). The people who exalt themselves will be humbled (Matthew 23:12). We need to humble ourselves before God and repent (James 4:7-8). He absolutely detests pride (Proverbs 8:13). Not only does the LGBT community display much arrogance, but it is also important to note that Scripture emphatically condemns homosexuality. While it is true that God promised to never again cast judgment on the people of this world by means of a global flood, He never stated that He would not judge us again. In fact, we have been told that we shall have to render an account for all of our past deeds to Him (Romans 14:12). God's rainbow was meant to serve as a symbol of remembrance, not as a means of pride. He will not tolerate mockery. He will not tolerate the celebration of sin. Thus, all faithful Christians have been called to speak out against the LGBT flag.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Living A God-Honoring Life

“Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.”

Billy Graham, Billy Graham in Quotes

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Papacy Is A Historical Fiction

                                                     By John Bugay

Citing Oscar Cullmann, “the principle of succession cannot be justified either from Scripture or from the history of the ancient Church” (from “Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr”, Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 2nd Edition, © 1962, pg 242).

There is no trace of “primacy” in one of Rome’s strongest “proof texts”, the first-century letter of “First Clement” (96 AD).

In that letter, “Pope Clement”, traditionally held to be the writer, is never mentioned. The address is “from the church of God at Rome” to “the church of God at Corinth”, implying equal status between the two.

Further, the letter is written in the style, common in that culture, of a persuasion letter between churches that are equals, not in a “commanding” tone, as some Roman Catholics have represented it.

The next point reinforces this assessment of “First Clement”:

There was no “bishop” of Rome until well beyond the year 150 AD.

In 150 AD, a contemporary writer, in “The Shepherd of Hermas”, confirms that the Roman church is still overseen by a plurality of “elders”. Moreover, these “elders” fought among themselves and brought scandal to the church.

Hermas, wrote: “But you yourself will read [my book] to this city [Rome], along with the elders (“presbuteroi” in the original Greek) who preside (proistamenoi – plural leadership) over the church.” (Vis 2.4). Hermas could not be more clear. There is a plurality of presbyters who “preside over” the church at Rome. There is no one person in charge.

But more, he urged them,

“I say to you [tois – plural] who lead the church and occupy the seats of honor: do not be like the sorcerers … You carry your drug and poison in your heart. You are calloused and do not want to cleanse your hearts and to mix your wisdom together in a clean heart, in order that you may have mercy from the great King.

Watch out, therefore, children, lest these divisions of yours [among you elders] deprive you of your life. How is it that you desire to instruct God’s elect, while you yourselves have no instruction? Instruct one another, therefore, and have peace among yourselves,”

We’ve seen Jesus admonish this behavior when the disciples themselves “argued among themselves as to who was greatest”. Nor does Hermas attribute any gift of “infallibility” to these elders, who themselves “have no instruction”.

There was no “papacy” for the first three centuries, and when Roman “bishops” tried to exert “authority” based on some connection to Peter, they were severely reprimanded by other bishops.

Cyprian, in his Letter 73, he wrote of Stephen, who was claiming to be a “successor of Peter”, that “more and more observe his error”. Further, Cyprian accused Stephen of “bitter obstinacy” (letter 73).

His fellow bishop Firmilian said of Stephen (Letter 74) that he “has not done anything deserving of kindness and thanks” In the next sentence he compares Stephen with Judas, guilty of “perfidy” and “treachery” having “wickedly dealt concerning the Saviour” – as Stephen himself claimed that he “had been the cause of such great advantages, that through him the world and the people of the Gentiles were delivered by the Lord’s passion”. Those were bold claims, and they were swiftly rebuked.

A Regional Council openly stated that there was “no bishop of bishops”: This is from The Seventh Council of Carthage under Cyprian:

“For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another.”

The Council of Nicaea (325 AD) ascribed only regional “oversight” to the Roman church – and that because of “custom”, not “divine institution”.

Later councils, both Constantinople (381 AD) and Chalcedon (451 AD) held that the Roman church should be honored not because of a “divine institution” but because it was “the old Capital” of the empire.

In fact, the second ecumenical council, Constantinople I, was called in 381. The bishops of this council met, decided the issues, and adjourned without the “pope” at the time, Damasus I (366-384), ever having been notified that a council was being held.

It wasn’t until the 4th and 5th centuries that Roman “primacy” began to take shape, as early bishops modeled themselves after Roman senators.

In short, while these Roman “bishops” wanted to emphasize their own importance, no one else in the world wanted to recognize it.

Other churches throughout the world were kind and deferential in the face of Roman bishops asserting their own importance. But up through the 5th and 6th centuries, no one believed them. Only with the backing of Roman Imperial power and money could the claims stick.

Ultimately, “Pope Leo I” made the claims stick by relying on Roman adoption law to affirm that he had all “the same rights, authority and obligations as the one he replaced”. 400 years after the death of Peter.

There are, in fact, Biblical guidelines as to who may be a “bishop” (“overseer”) and what the lives of those individuals ought to be like.

Further, the metaphor “Roman adoption law” was not used in early centuries to justify “the papacy”. In fact, the second century writer Irenaeus uses “adoption law” to characterize the relationships between Christ and humans:

“the Son of God was made a son of a human that through him we might receive adoption—humanity bearing and receiving and embracing the Son of God” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies”, 3.16.3).

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Christian Response To Transgenderism

        In today's society, much debate and perplexity has been emerging over some of the most basic questions of life. Unfortunately, many people have found themselves unable to answer questions with obvious answers such as their gender identity. While the Book of Genesis presents us with the very simplistic blueprint of gender identity as being either male or female, educators, psychiatrists, and politicians who subscribe to a liberal secularist worldview believe that it is morally impermissible for parents to be labeling their children as being boys or girls. In other words, leftist authorities are suggesting that things are not as they appear to our eyes (which defies basic logic). Thus, these people maintain that our children should have the "right" to choose their own personal gender identities (a male chooses to identify himself as being a female).

        What people need to recognize is that gender is a biological reality that is determined by our DNA. The same elementary scientific principle regarding the determination of gender is equally applicable to our race and hair color. The truth of the matter is that we cannot alter our gender, any more than we can choose to have different skin or hair colors. Furthermore, we know that only two different gender possibilities exist because only two different pairs of genitalia exist. There are only XX (female) and XY (male) genes. God has given us these bodily designs for the sake of human procreation. It follows from the premises of this argument that our gender identities cannot be based on mere emotions or preferences. If people can violate basic scientific laws by altering their gender, then why not also choose to become a squirrel or giraffe? Can a human being cease to be human? The only thing that medical procedures can do is change the outer appearance of people. To accept transgenderism as being morally acceptable is to reject the voice of reason.

        In all cases, truth must be affirmed. This obviously encompasses the natural gender of our children. In other words, males need to be taught male customs and females need to be taught female customs. Moreover, parents need to teach their children the difference between right and wrong (Proverbs 22:6). Otherwise, our world will end up becoming a state of hopeless confusion and disorder. Ever since the secular world has rejected the existence of objective moral truths (an eventual consequence of removing the Bible from our public school systems), our nation has deteriorated morally. Although any amount of conditioning through physical, psychological, or sexual abuse may cause a person to experience confusion regarding his or her gender, such struggles can be overcome through plenty of encouragement, discipline, and psychological training. We can assume, imagine, or have a desire to be a different gender, but having such mental inclinations does not change our internal genetic makeup, any more than saying, imagining, or wanting to be a giraffe actually makes us one. How we feel about something does not change its truthfulness.

        It is worth noting the negative psychological effects of the transsexual ideology being promoted by the left. In 2016, the Obama Administration passed laws ordering the public school systems to allow members of the opposite sexes to share restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Since then, other public places such as grocery stores, parks, and universities have adopted the idea of using "transgender" bathrooms. Can anybody not see the inherent moral flaws of this ideology? First of all, any pervert can claim to be any random gender. Secondly, our right to privacy has been violated. Thirdly, the innocence of our children is at an elevated risk of being corrupted. And fourthly, it is evil to brainwash people into believing that they can choose to be a different gender only to be enslaved to a lifetime exposure of carcinogenic, toxic hormones. It is wrong to mutilate healthy functioning parts of the body.

        Should the Christian church make compromises for transgender reasoning? The emphatic answer to this question is, no. God created mankind in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). He also called His creations "good" (Genesis 1:31). Us wanting to alter our gender is in a very real sense putting God to an open shame. In choosing to undergo gender reassignment procedures, one is essentially saying that He did an imperfect job in designing the universe (to be more specific, our bodies). We are putting ourselves in the place of the Creator, which is idolatry. The Bible says that God made male and female. That is an unchangeable reality. Romans 1:22 says, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Does The Quran Encourage Violence?

                                             By Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The Quran—the holy book of Islam that 1.3 billion Muslims believe to be the word of God—is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. Read Surah 47:4 from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall:

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).

Many other verses in the Quran forthrightly endorse armed conflict and war to advance Islam. Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns (cf. Lings, pp. 86,111). Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight” (n.d., p. xxvi).


Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).

Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Are The Religions Of Christianity And Islam Compatible?

  • Introduction:
          -The Islamic religion was established during the seventh century by an Arabian merchant named Muhammad. This man claimed that the angel Gabriel repeatedly visited him for the purpose of giving him divine revelation from God. Hence, Muhammad recorded the words of Allah, the Arabic name for god which is occupied by Muslims, into the sacred religious text known to us as the Koran. He spread his new-found ideological system through brutal conquest, torture, and execution.
  • Contrasting The Christian and Muslim Worldviews:
          -While both religions profess monotheism, Islam denies the biblical concept of the Trinity, which teaches that one God exists in three separate, divine Persons (Matthew 28:19-20; John 10:30 Ephesians 4:4-6). The Koran identifies the Trinity as God the Father, Mary, and Jesus Christ. If the Muslim holy book is divine revelation, then why does it misrepresent Christian doctrine? 
          -While Christianity affirms that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, is co-eternal with the Father, the Son of God, was crucified, and resurrected from the grave (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24; John 2:19-20; 20:26-28; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8), the religion of Islam flatly denies all of these essential Christian doctrines. Moreover, Islam teaches that Jesus was only a good moral teacher who was subordinate to the Prophet Muhammad. So it appears that the religions of Christianity and Islam are not compatible. We do not worship the same god.
          -While Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity who testifies in favor of Jesus Christ (John 14:26), Islam teaches that He is the angel Gabriel. Also, the Muslim religion calls Muhammad the "helper." It is also interesting to note that Islam affirms the virgin birth.
          -The Koran teaches that man is saved entirely on the basis of good works. Consider, for example, the mandatory completion of the Five Pillars, which are: 1. profession of Islamic faith, 2. daily prayer, 3.) almsgiving, 4. fasting during the month of Ramadan, and 5. making a pilgrimage to Mecca. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that we are saved by God's grace alone through our faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Scripture affirms that we are spiritually bankrupt sinners (Romans 3:23; 5:12).
          -In Christianity, heaven is for all people who have been saved by the grace of God. It is complete, eternal unity with our divine Creator. However, to Muslims the place of paradise is a place of infinite debauchery, that is, where all worldly desires ranging from sexual pleasure to alcoholic consumption can be fulfilled. It is believed by Muslims that they will receive seventy virgins.

Monday, June 19, 2017

No Condemnation In Christ Jesus

There is, therefore, now - This is connected with the closing verses of Romans 7:23-25. It is implied here that there was condemnation under the Law, and would be still, but for the intervention of the gospel.

No condemnation - This does not mean that sin in believers is not to be condemned as much as any where, for the contrary is everywhere taught in the Scriptures; but it means,

(1) That the gospel does not pronounce condemnation like the Law. Its function is to pardon; the function of the law is to condemn. The one never affords deliverance, but always condemns; the object of the other is to free from condemnation, and to set the soul at liberty.

(2) there is no final condemnation under the gospel. The function, design, and tendency of the gospel is to free from the condemning sentence of law. This is its first and its glorious announcement, that it frees lost and ruined people from a most fearful and terrible condemnation.

(The first verse of this chapter seems to be an inference from the whole preceding discussion. The apostle having established the doctrine of justification, and answered the objections commonly urged against it, now asserts his triumphant conclusion, “There is therefore, etc.; that is to say, it follows from all that has been said concerning the believer‘s justification by the righteousness of Christ, and his complete deliverance from the Law as a covenant, that to him there can be no condemnation. The design of Paul is not so much to assert the different functions of the Law and the gospel, as simply to state the fact in regard to the condition of a certain class, namely, those who are in Christ. To them there is no condemnation whatever; not only no final condemnation, but no condemnation now, from the moment of their union to Christ, and deliverance from the curse of the Law. The reason is this: that Christ hath endured the penalty, and obeyed the precept of the Law in their stead.

“Here,” says Mr. Haldane on the passage, “it is often remarked that the apostle does not say, that there is in them (believers) neither matter of accusation, nor cause of condemnation; and yet this is all included in what he does say. And afterward, in express terms, he denies that they can be either accused or condemned, which they might be, were there any ground for either. All that was condemnable in them, which was sin, has been condemned in their Surety, as is shown in the third verse.”)

Which are in Christ Jesus - Who are united to Christ. To be in him is an expression not seldom used in the New Testament, denoting close and intimate union. Philemon 1:1; Philemon 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 16:7-11. The union between Christ and his people is compared to that between the vine and its branches John 15:1-6, and hence, believers are said to be in him in a similar sense, as deriving their support from him, and as united in feeling, in purpose, and destiny. (See the supplementary note at Romans 8:10.) Who walk. Who conduct, or live. Note, Romans 4:12. Not after the flesh. Who do not live to gratify the corrupt desires and passions of the flesh; Note, Romans 7:18. This is a characteristic of a Christian. What it is to walk after the flesh may be seen in Galatians 5:19-21. It follows that a man whose purpose of life is to gratify his corrupt desires, cannot be a Christian. Unless he lives not to gratify his flesh, he can have no evidence of piety. This is a test which is easily applied; and if every professor of religion were honest, there could be no danger of mistake, and there need be no doubts about his true character.

But after the Spirit - As the Holy Spirit would lead or prompt. What the Spirit produces may be seen in Galatians 5:22-23. If a man has these fruits of the Spirit, he is a Christian; if not, he is a stranger to religion, whatever else he may possess. And this test also is easily applied.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 8:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Countering The Islamic Claim That The Christian Bible Has Been Lost And Corrupted

        How can Muslims claim that the Bible has been corrupted when their own holy book admits to the divine inspiration of the Torah (Sura 2:87), the Psalms (Sura 4:163), and the gospel (Sura 3:3-4; 5:46)? According to the Koran, the words of Allah cannot be perverted (Sura 6:34; 6:115; 10:64).

        It follows that the Muslim claim that the Christian Bible has been lost and corrupted is false. Ironically, the Koran never even makes such a claim. But how can we embrace two sources of divine revelation that contradict each other?

        If Muslims are going to be consistent with their own argument, then they will have to call Allah a liar. Moreover, it needs to be told who is the culprit for any alleged corruption in the Bible, where, and when this all happened. The text cannot be dismissed just because it conflicts with the Koran.

    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Is Belief In God A Virus?

            While the theistic worldview operates on the fundamental assumption that God exists, the atheistic mindset displays direct contrariety in that it interprets daily experiences to the exclusion of a supreme deity. Atheism maintains that mankind through the lens of the scientific laboratory alone is the final standard of authority for decision making in every aspect of life. One of the very fascinating, yet vitriolic, charges advanced by prominent atheistic thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitches is that religion is a mind virus.

            In other words, these people have argued that theism is a completely unnatural, destructive meme, which is a biological term for non-genetic trait sharing, that perverts our ability to formulate accurate perceptions in life. According to the logic of the anti-theist argument, this mental “virus” strives to invade the minds of healthy, rational secular individuals through brainwashing or indoctrination. This atheist quibble depicts religion as being a mental illness that has originated from vindictive causes. Therefore, participating in religion or teaching children religious concepts is viewed by these atheists as being absolutely perilous to the continued survival of society. In summary, the religion virus argument maintains that the proliferation of religious beliefs must be separated, if not terminated, from all spheres of human interaction, which encompasses education, economics, science, and politics.

            There are a number of different reasons for the atheistic animosity against the promotion of religious ideals in the world, which are beyond the scope of this paper. While some people want to use science as the means of discovering all the answers to the questions of life apart from belief in God, others simply do not want their views on moral issues to be condemned or governed by a superior, divine authority. Nonetheless, much more apparent and serious causes for the negative approaches to incorporating religion into daily facets of life have developed.

            People have either abandoned Christianity altogether or have utterly misunderstood the true character of the gospel because of hypocrisy among professing Christian leaders who are supposed to be acting in a godly manner, harsh treatment by fellow Christians, and by the creation of religions that promote barbaric ways of life. These factors certainly should warrant the concern of Christians, but the claim that religion is a virus does indeed have several internal logical inconsistencies or angles of refutation.

            The underlying problem with the religion virus argument is that it completely distorts the true nature of Christianity, for this religion does not enforce ways that are contrary to principles of freedom, love, peace, and righteousness. These moral principles form the basis of the gospel message. In reality, the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only tenable way of life because it is the only religion that truly brings lasting hope and fulfillment through the conversion of heart. This can be said of no other perspective of life. The real problem with atheists is that their hearts have been hardened against God. Though individual members of professing Christian denominations may be acting in a corrupt manner, such behavior is contrary to gospel teaching. Afflicted individuals need to dig deeper into God's revelation to mankind for answers to the difficulties presented in life.

            Philosophies such as Stalinism, Maoism, and Nazism favored moral relativism and nihilism, yet provoked major horrors in the history of mankind. These were entirely secular worldviews. Is it therefore not ironic how some secular people make the claim that religion is the cause of all evil?

            Belief systems are evidences of people upholding particular sets of ideas. They may tend to be exclusive in nature. It is normal for parents to share their own worldview with their children. It is also normal of belief systems to encourage practices to enhance faithfulness to that particular system of faith, which can include the continual introduction of ideas unique to that particular faith, having assemblies, or eating together with other members of that same belief-system. Furthermore, most belief-systems do encourage the promotion of a particular set of ideas. Sincere members of a particular belief-system evangelize outsiders about the teachings of their particular belief system because they believe that their worldview is correct, not because of an invasive pathogen that unwillfully perverts a normal thinking pattern. Otherwise, atheism also qualifies to be a "virus of the mind" because it shares the same common characteristics of religions in the sense of remaining faithful and individual atheists strive to propagate their own unique beliefs as truth. But religions consist of rituals, customs, and practices that are deliberately chosen, not influenced by an invasive pathogen that unwillfully perverts a normal thinking pattern.

            If the hypothesis that religion is a cruel, unnatural control mechanism that can only be brought about through acts of indoctrination is correct, then we should anticipate finding few adulthood conversions from atheism to Christianity. On the contrary, the test for religion being a mental virus has soundly refuted the proposed idea that religion is a mental virus because the presupposed conclusion is flatly contradicted by presented data. Atheism has been abandoned by several people as a result of people being convinced by the principles taught within Christianity (or even by other world religions). In fact, religious people are generally happier than secular individuals.

            The metaphorical portrayal of religion as being a virus is constructed on entirely pseudo-scientific premises. It has no rational or philosophical grounds to rely on, but rather is a form of emotional rhetoric. The religion virus argument is nothing more than an attempt to provide justification for rejecting God and His moral precepts. Such objections to the theistic worldview form as a result of a hatred of God and a poor understanding of the gospel. Consequently, Christians need to: 1.) Know the contents of their faith, 2.) Provide reasons for why they believe what they believe, 3.) Reveal true love for other people, and 4.) Examine personal conduct. The best thing that we can do for those who willfully disobey the commandments of God is to pray that the Holy Spirit softens the hearts of those who have hardened their hearts against Him. Though atheists have a valid point regarding the potential harm of man-made religions, there still exists a radical contrast between the one true religion and false world religions.

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    What Is The Third Heaven?

    2 Corinthians [12:1–4] In the body or out of the body: he seemed no longer confined to bodily conditions, but he does not claim to understand the mechanics of the experience. Caught up: i.e., in ecstasy. The third heaven…Paradise: ancient cosmologies depicted a multitiered universe. Jewish intertestamental literature contains much speculation about the number of heavens. Seven is the number usually mentioned, but the Testament of Levi (2:7–10; 3:1–4) speaks of three; God himself dwelt in the third of these. Without giving us any clear picture of the cosmos, Paul indicates a mental journey to a nonearthly space, set apart by God, in which secrets were revealed to him. Ineffable things: i.e., privileged knowledge, which it was not possible or permitted to divulge.

    Excerpt taken from the New American Bible Revised Edition

    Sunday, June 11, 2017

    The March Of Dimes Is Corrupt

    "Founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the March of Dimes is one of the world's premier private-sector health and medical associations. Dedicated to the prevention of birth defects, it raises millions of dollars each year for education, research, and service. It works to improve maternal and newborn health. It makes basic clinical grants to hospitals and universities for perinatal and genetic study programs. It sponsors medical conferences, coordinates symposia, and publishes literature. Since it successfully led the fight to cure polio during the early fifties, the March of Dimes has become a symbol of hope for millions of parents all around the globe. But it has also placed itself at the forefront of the Planned Parenthood movement.

    Since the early sixties, it has increasingly turned its attentions away from curing genetic disorders and birth defects to detecting and eliminating them. As a result, amniocentesis and abortion have become its chief concerns, consuming a vast majority of its funding. Instead of trying to solve the problem of birth defects, the March of Dimes now disposes of those problems by funding "search and destroy" missions.

    Eighty-eight percent of all March of Dimes geneticists favor abortion-on-demand. Seventy-one percent argue that if amniocentesis diagnostic tests prove a child to be defective, he should be terminated regardless of the stage of pregnancy. A large number even revealed that hey were involved in live fetal experimentation and fetal harvesting. This despite the persistent claims of the organization that it is "abortion neutral."

    The connection between the March of Dimes and Planned Parenthood is not just philosophical. Many faithful donors would be shocked to discover that the money they have given over the years to "help fight birth defects" has actually wound up in Planned Parenthood coffers. In 1980, for instance, the March of Dimes gave more than $0.5 million to a Planned Parenthood abortionist for a major research project. The results of the study, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, have been widely heralded in pro-abortion circles and selectively circulated by Planned Parenthood affiliates all around the country.

    In response to prolife criticism of its close relationship with Planned Parenthood, the national office of the March of Dimes called its critics "ideological zealots eager to invent new enemies." Today, the kinship between the two groups is friendlier than ever. They display and distribute each other's literature. They refer clients back and forth to each other's programs. They cooperate in sponsoring genetic research and perinatal medical conferences. And they support each other in their political lobbying efforts."

    George Grant, Immaculate Deception: The Shifting Agenda of Planned Parenthood, p. 139-140 (1996)

    Saturday, June 10, 2017

    Can God Contradict Himself?

            The question being addressed is one that is pertinent to the character of God. It is about how He functions in relation to creation. Whether God is able to contradict Himself or not reveals to us His true nature. In fact, this question regarding God's consistency is a fundamental question that needs to be answered. This is especially true of new converts, those who lack faith in God, or for people who lack wisdom.

            If God is capable of contradicting Himself, then it follows that He is imperfect and liable to error. This would mean that He is no more distinguished from man. If God is not infinitely superior to creation in every way, then why should the pagans abandon their polytheistic worldviews and submit to Him? This hypothetical scenario would only prove Judeo-Christian tradition to be outright ludicrous, if it were true. It would demonstrate that our faith was built on a shaky foundation.

            First of all, it is vital to recognize that the Bible teaches that God cannot change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). In other words, His character is unalterable. He can act only in a manner that is consistent with His own nature. Scripture tells us that God is unable to sin (Numbers 23:19). Therefore, God is unable to contradict Himself. Does this fact mean that God is somehow not omnipotent and omniscient? Of course not.

            The fact that God cannot contradict Himself is not proof of limitation, but rather, expresses a degree of perfection. This degree of supernatural perfection is beyond the human perception of perfection. His qualities far exceed perfection, as He is beyond the scope of "all." The human mind cannot fully grasp the character of God because it is finite.

            We are unable to comprehend the fullness of His being and glory. God is perfect. God is infallible. His character is impeccable. He is truth. He is goodness. His ways are righteous. He can do anything that is consistent with His nature.

    Friday, June 9, 2017

    The Historical Development Of Papal Authority

    • Introduction:
              -The most primitive Christian churches were governed by a plurality of bishops, not by an individual head, as is the case with the modern Church of Rome. It is also important to note that the New Testament Scriptures use the terms "presbyter," "elder," and "bishop" interchangeably. The Papacy has not been established since the first century by Jesus Christ, but is instead a gradual development in later church history. The three following excerpts were taken from this article by New Testament scholar Michael J. Kruger.
    • Testimony From The Didache: 
              -“And so, elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are worthy of the Lord, gentle men who are not fond of money, who are true and approved.” (15.1)
    • Testimony From 1 Clement: 
              -“And so, elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are worthy of the Lord, gentle men who are not fond of money, who are true and approved.” (1 Clement 42:4)
    • Testimony From The Shepherd Of Hermas:
              -“you will read yours in this city, with the presbyters who lead the church.” (Vis. 8.3) 
    • The New American Bible Revised Edition Has This Commentary On Titus 1:5-9 On The Meaning Of The Terms Bishop And Presbyter:
              -"[1:5–9] This instruction on the selection and appointment of presbyters, substantially identical with that in 1 Tm 3:1–7 on a bishop (see note there), was aimed at strengthening the authority of Titus by apostolic mandate; cf. Ti 2:15. In Ti 1:5, 7 and Acts 20:17, 28, the terms episkopos and presbyteros (“bishop” and “presbyter”) refer to the same persons."
    • Basic Presentation On The Historical Development Of The Roman Catholic Hierarchy: 
              -In 150 AD, a difference was made between the offices of elder and bishop. This is when individual congregations started being governed by individual bishops. One bishop began to have authority over the other bishops, like a senior pastor amongst elders. This development was gradual in other churches and is attested to by Ignatius' epistles as first appearing in Asia Minor. 
              -"Caird notes that in the latter half of the first century three events occurred that altered the character of the church: (1) the final break between Christianity and Judaism, (2) the beginning of persecution by Rome, and (3) the death of many who had been principal leaders in the early church. The death of the apostles, the crumbling of the old covenant, outbreaks of persecution, and the prevalence of heresy and false prophecy led to the rise of the monarchical bishop. Caird suggests that the vigor with which Ignatius states his case for the bishop’s role implies that this new development had been “vigorously opposed” by many in the churches. In any case, the rise of the monarchical bishop is best understood as the expedient by which the early church asserted its right to condemn divergent views in the absence of the apostles. Cf. Caird, The Apostolic Age, 141–55 (esp. pp. 141, 151-52)." (Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 21)
              -Archbishops, who presided over a group of churches along with their respective assemblies of worship, moved up from the most prominent cities of their time. These men came to be known as the patriarchs.
              -Around the mid fifth and into the late sixth century, we see the five patriarchs, which were Jerusalem (officially recognized as such in the fifth century), Antioch (officially recognized as such in the first century), Rome (officially recognized as such in the first century), Constantinople (officially recognized as such in the fourth century), and Alexandria (officially recognized as such in the first century). Each patriarch governed itself. Though Rome and Constantinople were perceived as having equal authority, the Church of Rome was viewed in highest regard. Constantinople was the leading patriarch of the east. But neither of the two competing patriarchs at the time possessed universal authority over the rest of Christendom.
              -In the late sixth century leading into the seventh, there was a major, final struggle between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches for the title of Universal Bishop. In other words, the two most powerful patriarchs fought for jurisdiction over the entire Christian church. Although Constantinople was first to appoint its head as being the Universal Bishop of Christianity, the Roman Bishop Gregory condemned the usage of that title as being characteristic of an anti-Christ. He declared that no man, not even himself, was worthy of possessing such an arrogant title! In the end, the Church of Rome ended up being victorious in this battle for supreme authority when Gregory's successor Boniface III reserved it for himself. The head of the Roman Catholic Church still wields this title of absolute power. Thus, we see the historic origin of the Papal office in its current organizational structure.
    • Cyprian And Papal Supremacy: 
               -"Even Cyprian of Carthage, a church father considered by many to have favored an early form of the papacy, calls the bishop of Rome a “brother, fellow-Christian, and colleague in the episcopate,” thus showing that he did not have in view the kind of primacy that was later attributed to the pope." (Leonardo De Chirico, "Where Did the Pope Come From?")
    • An Excerpt From Canon Six Of The Council Of Nicea (Cited By Philip Schaff):
              -"The Bishop of Alexandria shall have jurisdiction over Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis. As also the Roman bishop over those subject to Rome. So, too, the Bishop of Antioch and the rest over those who are under them."
    • Following Is An Excerpt From An Online Encyclopedia On Early Church Policy:
              -"One cannot speak with precision or certitude about ministry in the early church because it is difficult to date and evaluate the documentary evidence, including the New Testament writings, and because of differences of organization in the primitive local communities. At the conclusion of an eighty-year evolutionary process there emerged, apparently first at Antioch around 110 ce, a threefold hierarchical leadership that gradually became normative throughout the Christian world. The hierarchy (sacred rule) consisted of three grades: a single bishop charged with the "supervision or oversight" (episcopÄ“ ) of the community; a group of consultors called presbyters (elders); and a subordinate group of deacons, who assisted in the administration of property. Certain functions, such as presiding at the Eucharist, were ordinarily reserved to the bishop. The distinction was thus made between the people and their leaders, soon called "clergy," who were ordained; that is, set apart for the ministry by the imposition of the bishop's hands. The local church presided over by the bishop was in time known as a "diocese" or "eparchy."

    Thursday, June 8, 2017

    An Eye-Opening Question On Homosexuality

    "If gay apologists really believe homosexuality is not a biblically forbidden sin, why do they bother arguing, vehemently, that they cannot change? If something is not a sin, after all, then it doesn’t matter if it’s inborn or chosen, immutable or changeable."

    Joe Dallas, The Gay Gospel?, p.  120

    Sin And Temptation

           Our consciences automatically sense the dangers of presently existing sinful temptations, for God has inscribed His moral precepts into our hearts (Romans 2:14-15). In other words, God has programmed our minds to sense the presence of good or evil. Thus, our conscience is the underlying reason we instinctively feel as if temptation, by definition, is wrong. Everybody experiences temptations. However, it is vital for us to recognize that vast distinctions exist between the concepts of sin and temptation. For instance, forgiveness is required for debts and trespasses, whereas temptation requires deliverance (Matthew 6:12-13). Our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in the same manner as we are, yet remained unblemished from the stains of sin (Hebrews 4:14-16). He was tested and shown to be faithful.

           Temptation can originate from one of two sources: Satan or our own inherent desire to entertain sinful ideas. While the devil is the ultimate source of all evil, our sinful nature works alongside him to ensnare our souls. The process of spiritual temptation begins with desire, blossoms into temptation which leads to sin, and can then lead up to spiritual death (James 1:14-15). Temptation becomes sin when we choose to act in accordance to our sinful desires, even if they take place in our minds where such desires are not made manifest. Christ was tempted externally, but not internally inclined to act sinfully. He does not have a sin nature.

           Worldly thoughts, which can include but are not limited to pride, lust, greed, and covetousness, come from within and defile us (Matthew 17:19). We need to flee from temptation because being in such a state revolves around sin. Evil thoughts are sin. Temptation makes us want to act contrary to the will of God. What sin and temptation have in common is that both can harm our relationship with Him.
           All people who die in a state of unbelief will end up eternally condemned in the lake of fire. What we need to do is replace the fruits of the flesh with the fruits of the Spirit. Despite the fact that overcoming temptation can refine our character, we need to do our best to avoid situations that will place us into a state of temptation (Romans 13:13-14). We need to distract ourselves from the sources of temptation by focusing on what God wants for each of us. Only through Him can we have true and lasting joy, hope, peace, and fulfillment.

    Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    The Biblical Teaching On Judgement

           While it is true that the Scriptures expressly forbid holding other people to standards that are hypocritical (Matthew 7:1-5), we still are under the obligation to "judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). In other words, we need to judge in a fair and morally consistent manner. Hence, theological liberals who misquote the words of Jesus Christ in regards to human judgment are wrong in their attempts to silence faithful Christians who confront them about their erroneous beliefs and practices. Good judgment forms the basis for sound ethics.

           The possession of hypocritical mentalities places people who fit into various categories of unrighteousness in no position to be casting judgment on other people because that would constitute a double-standard. If three robbers are guilty of stealing money from a bank, then how can they point their fingers at each other and claim personal innocence before a judge when all in the group are guilty? 

            If something is true, then it must be true for all people at all places and times. But if the act of judging in itself is intrinsically evil, then we must ask how judges can rightly convict criminals as a result of compiled evidence? Clearly, people can judge because they are in a rightful standing or position to do so. There are rightful times for us to judge. There are wrongful times for us to be judging. For example, we cannot make definitive pronouncements as to the salvation status of professing Christians because only God knows the hearts of men. There are situations in which judging has been excessively done.

           This is a basic presentation on biblical teaching regarding judgment. Hopefully, this article can be of assistance to those who are perplexed as to the meaning of that term. There are proper applications of and conditions for judgment. The popular notion that it is morally wrong to judge is false. Hypocrisy is a sin. Arrogance is a sin. Lust is a sin. These are real issues that need to be addressed.

    Saturday, June 3, 2017

    A Refutation Of The New Perspective On Paul

    • Defining The Issues:
              -In Pauline texts pertaining to justification, we oftentimes find faith as the object of salvation to the exclusion of "works" or "works of the Law" (Romans 3:27-28; Galatians 2:16-21). These kinds of passages found in the epistles written by the Apostle Paul are primarily used to defend the concept of justification by faith alone. However, there also exists a modernized, liberal interpretation of the Pauline texts which stands totally contrary to the conventional understanding of the words of the Apostle Paul when he rejects the idea of works being necessary for our justification. It is commonly known as "The New Perspective On Paul." This theological development was practically unheard of in most Christian circles, until former canon theologian of Westminster Abbey now turned Anglican Bishop of Durham named N.T. Wright published a book on the subject titled "What St. Paul Really Said." Consequently, the proliferation of this information on this interpretation of various Pauline phrases of the New Testament has become a subject of controversy in Christian circles. Not only have people in the Evangelical community been deceived into defending this erroneous idea, but Roman Catholics have also decided to level this doctrinal development as an objection to Scripture citations used to demonstrate the concept of Sola Fide ("faith alone").
    • What Is The New Perspective On Paul?:  
              -This theological school of thought maintains that the Apostle Paul never argued against depending on the moral aspects of the Mosaic Law for getting right in the sight of God, but rather that he only stood in opposition to observing the dietary and ceremonial parts of the Law. In other words, advocates of New Perspectivism believe that Paul argued against circumcision, heeding to the Old Testament food laws, and the observance of Jewish Sabbaths. The phrase "works of the law" has been reduced to Jewish ethnic badges or the ceremonial law. It has been claimed that conservative Protestant churches have derived their soteriology on allegedly anachronistic interpretations of Scripture made by Protestant Reformers. Proponents of the New Perspective on Paul claim that we need to view the phrase "works of the Law" through a different lens of scriptural interpretation in order to reach the conclusion that he was only arguing against boundary-markers. These people claim that the Judaism of Paul's day was not legalistic. Roman Catholics have argued that we are saved by the keeping of a new law through "works of grace." The purpose of this article is twofold: 1.) to defend the traditional interpretation of the inspired statements uttered by the Apostle Paul on the subject of justification, and 2.) to addresses Catholic apologists who have resorted to this scholarship in arguing against Sola Fide.
    • There Is No Biblical Distinction Between Good Works That Contribute To Our Eternal Salvation And Good Works That Do Not Contribute To Our Salvation:
              -What needs to be recognized is that the Jewish Law is God's standard of morality. In other words, the Law is the highest moral standard existing. It is the highest Law around because it reflects the perfect righteousness of God. Thus, it is understandable to view the works prescribed by this moral standard as being able to save people from eternal condemnation. However, the Law was "weak" because of man's sinful heart (Romans 8:3). We are the reason for the Law being considered as "weak." No man in his sinful condition can satisfy God's perfect standard, which encompasses the Ten Commandments (Romans 13:8-9). Love of God and love of neighbor are what sum up the Law in its entirety (Matthew 22:36-40). There is not a single form of good behavior or work of grace that does not fit into those categories. We are saved by faith in God, apart from the merit of any and all good works.
              -Never do we see the pertinent passages in Scripture to the subject of justification establish a distinction between good works that do not merit eternal salvation and good works that do merit eternal salvation. In the Bible, we never see the completion of any specific charitable deeds as being prescribed as necessary criteria for the forgiveness of sins by God. There is not even the slightest hint of Paul narrowing specifically in on the ceremonial Law throughout his writings. There is no such thing as a distinction between good works that save verses good works that do not save. We are not saved by works of the Law. We are not saved by any good works.
    • Evidence From The Book Of Acts:
              -In the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul emphatically stated that all who place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of hearing gospel preaching are justified from all things which they could not be justified under the Law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39). That point easily transcends Jewish ethnic badges.
    • Evidence From The Epistle To The Romans:
              -It would be nonsensical to limit the phrases "works" and "works of the Law" in the context of this Pauline epistle to only meaning the exclusion of mere boundary-markers, since the surrounding context refers to obedience to the Ten Commandments (Romans 2:20-25). The wrath of God is revealed against all sin (Romans 1:18), which includes both Jews and Gentiles. Paul is emphatic that God's Law covers "all mouths" and "the whole world" (Romans 3:19-20). In that same passage, he states that "no flesh" will be justified in His sight by works of the Law. Moreover, Romans 4:5-8, the parallel passage to Romans 3:28, tells us that are we considered righteous by God through our faith in Him "apart from works." Paul does not limit his scope to dietary or ceremonial laws. Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).
    • Evidence From The Epistle To The Galatians:
              -The phrase "apart from the works of the Law" is found in the epistle of Paul to the Galatians in chapters two and three. We know from the context of this epistle that the Apostle Paul dealt with a broader scope than the ceremonial Law, for he quoted the Book of the Law which prescribes the death penalty (Galatians 3:10-11). Galatians 3:10 is a quotation of Deuteronomy 27:26, which defines "works of the Law" as the entirety of the Torah.
    • Evidence From Other Pauline Writings:
              -There are other passages in Pauline writings that outwardly deny "works" as being the basis of justification, rather than "apart from the works of the Law" (Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Titus 3:5-7). The context of these Bible verses is not about the Jewish Law. Rather, they speak of our calling to holiness, God's mercy, and genuine conversion of heart. Thus, we have another solid reason for not embracing the New Perspective on Paul.