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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Damning Historical Facts Regarding The Papacy

Peter was not the “founder” of the church at Rome (as Rome had claimed for centuries).

We know with a high degree of historical accuracy that Paul wrote his letter “to the Church at Rome” in the years 56-58 AD. He wrote an extensive set of greetings to Christians who were known at Rome, and Peter was not one of them.

In fact, Paul’s letter to the Romans indicates a network of “house churches” in Rome, each with its own group of leaders – and Peter was not among them.

There was not a hint of “succession” in the New Testament or the ancient church.

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).

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword

  • Scripture Passage Being Examined:
           -"Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)
  • Commentary On Hebrews 4:12-13:
           -In short, this beautifully vivid passage of Scripture testifies to the infinite power of God. It is saying that the words of God will not return to Him void. Thus, they are described in Hebrews 4:12-13 as being sharper than any double-edged sword. They penetrate to the innermost part of the human being, the soul. They slash directly through every physical component of the human body to discern the heart of man. In other words, God knows every thought and intention of our hearts that are concealed from the visible sight of other people. His words pierce directly through the natural realm into the supernatural realm. Every good or evil incentive that is currently hidden within the chamber of the human conscience is visible to God. Nothing can be hidden from Him. He knows everything. He is all powerful. He is present everywhere. We will eventually have to give account to God for all of our deeds. So we need to be cautious of our thoughts and actions daily to ensure that they remain in accordance to His divine will.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Having A Form Of Godliness

  • Scripture Passage Being Examined:
          -"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:5)
  • Commentary On 2 Timothy 3:5:
          -The entire context of this chapter is about the admonition to remain in apostolic tradition and the coming of false teachers. In this particular verse, the Apostle Paul was instructing his fellow-laborer Timothy to avoid people who have a godly appearance, yet stand in contradiction to the teachings and precepts of the gospel. In other words, Paul was exhorting him to separate himself from professing Christians who do not have the character of or stand in accordance to the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. People who are either opposed to the growth of God's church or have a neutral standing regarding holiness are those who deny the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to change the lives of repentant sinners into sainthood. This biblical principle of examination is certainly applicable to members of the Christian church in modern times, for there exists false versions of the one true gospel as brought about by false teachers and people are lukewarm. We must continually remain conscious of people who only possess a superficial level of godliness because they are a source of spiritual deception to all the people that they encounter.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Judaism's Oral Torah Is A Myth

First, if the Oral Tradition truly came from Sinai then it would have been completely supernatural that it was passed down for over one thousand years unchanged. If my wife sends me to the store to buy five things, unless I write them down, not only will I forget to buy what she asked me to, but I will return home with things that she didn’t ask me to buy! So if it was supernatural, then there would have been no need to write out the Oral Torah as Rabbi Judah Hanasi did in 200 CE. If God had watched over it since Moses, surely He could continue.

Secondly, there couldn’t have been an Oral Law because in the time of King Josiah, they had lost the Book of the Law and it appears that they didn’t even know what Passover was or certainly how to celebrate it! The Temple was in ruins and the King ordered its restoration. In the midst of this great undertaking the Torah was recovered.

Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” (1 Kings 22:8)

The king called all the people together and they read the Book of the Covenant. Together, they renewed the covenant with the Lord. King Josiah ordered that the Passover be celebrated.

The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 22:21-23)

To summarize, the Torah had been lost as the Temple was in ruins. The king of Israel and the priests did not even know what Passover was—or at least, the details of proper Passover observance. Since the Mishna (the Oral Law in writing, as part of the Talmud) speaks of the Passover at length—in fact it has an entire tractate (major section) called Pesachim (Passovers) that teaches in incredible detail how to correctly celebrate Passover—it had to have been created after the time of Josiah.

In addition, had there been an Oral Law passed down from Moses it was certainly forgotten. And unlike like a Written Torah, that could be found in the ruins of the Temple, it would be impossible to recover an Oral Torah.

Third, we find an interesting passage in the Torah that refutes the idea of a non-written Torah.

When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. (Exodus 24:3-4a)

Could it be any clearer? God shared all His laws with Moses and then Moses wrote down everything. In the Hebrew it says Kol Div’re Adonia—all the words of the Lord. There was no secret Oral Tradition; all was written. (Here are a few more passages you can reference: Deuteronomy 30:10, 31:9, 24, 26, and Joshua 1:8).

And fourth, one primary reason the Word of God needed to be put down in words was to protect Israel from deception. An Oral Torah would have led to all kinds of duplicity and many would have changed it for their own purposes. Keep in mind, the Children of Israel, my ancestors, went through many periods where they forsook the Lord. Not only would an Oral Law have been abused by leaders during such a time—it would have been eventually ignored and utterly forgotten.

Much Needed Spiritual Nourishment For Our Youth

  • Words of Wisdom Regarding Children:
           -"The church is not in the business of entertaining young people, but calling them to discipleship in Christ and separation from the world and holiness of living.  It is true that what you win them with you win them to.  If a church use worldly means to win young people, those thus won will be worldly.  If a church has an organized youth group, it must be very careful about the selection of those who lead the youth.  Young people don’t need a “good times Charlie.”  They don’t merely need another buddy who will pal around with them in fun and games.  They get plenty of that.  What they desperately need, and what the church is required by God to give them, are godly, spiritually mature people who will love them and show them the path of God’s perfect will, who will call them to reject the vain, “cool” ways of this present wicked world, who will challenge them to be pure, to pull down the worldly idols from their hearts, to give themselves wholly to the service of Jesus Christ while there is still time, to yield to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." (David W. Cloud, Contemporary Christian Music Under the Spotlight, p. 201)

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 (i.e. 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 identity of our children. In other words, males need to be taught male customs and females need to be taught female customs. Additionally, 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 slowly been falling into anarchy. Although any amount of conditioning through physical, psychological, or sexual abuse may cause a person to experience confusion regarding his or her gender identity, 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. Our feelings are incapable of changing the truth.

        Before making a few closing statements, we should take some time to note 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 teaches that God made male and female. That is an unchangeable reality. That is an undeniable truth. Shame on those who promote the pseudo-scientific, delusional ideology of transgenderism. As Romans 1:22 says, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Consequences Of Sin

  • There are negative consequences for sin. As the Apostle Paul affirmed, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7-9):
           1.) Separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).
           2.) Hardened heart (Romans 1).         
           3.) Eternal condemnation in hell (Romans 6:23).
           4.) Loss of peace, harmony, and happiness.
           5.) Guilt, sorrow, and mental health problems.
           6.) Loss of relationships (1 Corinthians 3:3).

Pope Francis Brings Doctrinal Anarchy Among Roman Catholic Bishops On The Issue Of Communion For Divorcees

"A key problem is that the Pope’s own position on this issue has been ambiguous. Although last year he backed an Argentine bishops’ directive advocating support for giving Holy Communion to some remarried divorcees and, a few months ago, wrote a letter thanking Maltese bishops for their guidelines on interpreting the document, he has yet to state an official position, despite being formally asked to do so by four cardinals.

Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, and Joachim Meisner sent him a list of dubia last September, five doubts about Amoris Laetitia aimed at resolving confusion over this issue, and other questions over whether the document is in continuity with the Church’s teaching.

The Pope has asked Cardinal Müller not to respond, but said in an interview that some, “as with certain responses to Amoris Laetitia, persist in seeing only white or black, when rather one ought to discern in the flow of life.” He added that these “critiques — if they’re not from an evil spirit — do help. Some types of rigorism spring from the desire to hide one’s own dissatisfaction under armor.”

Speaking last year at a presentation, Archbishop Bruno Forte, who was special secretary during the synods on the family, shared comments the Pope made during the synod which give an indication of his approach.

“If we speak explicitly about Communion for the divorced and remarried, you do not know what a terrible mess we will make,” Archbishop Forte reported the Pope as saying, reportedly adding: “So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.”

The current situation is causing widespread unease, frustration and anger. German Catholic journalist Peter Winnemöller, writing on the Austrian website Kathnet, said he found it hard to believe that this “absurd situation” is what Pope Francis means when he says he wants the decentralization of the Church.

The “valuable suggestions” made at the synod to strengthen the Sacrament of marriage and the family are “unfortunately being completely undermined” by the chapter and its “problematic interpretation,” he added.

This is exacerbated by the Pope “in not making a binding decision and announcement,” he said."

    Debunking The Claim That Islam Is A Religion Of Peace

                                                 By Dave Miller, Ph.D.

    Does the Quran encourage violence?


    Yes. 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 the Muslims, into the sacred religious text known to us as the Koran. He spread this new found ideological system through brutal conquest, torture, and execution. But the purpose of this article is to provide a basic listing of significant doctrinal contradictions between the religions of Christianity and Islam.
    • Contrasting Fundamental Christian and Muslim Doctrines:
              -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).
              -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 (1 Timothy 3:16; 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. Furthermore, Islam teaches that Jesus was only a good moral teacher who was subordinate to the prophet Muhammad.
              -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".
              -The Koran teaches that man is saved entirely on the basis of good works (For example, the mandatory completion of the Five Pillars--1. profession of Islamic faith, 2. daily prayer, 3.) almsgiving, 4. fasting during the month of Ramadan, and 5. pilgrimage to Mecca), denies original sin, and claims that we cannot have any assurance of eternal life after death. In fact, Muhammad himself was not even sure whether Allah would allow him enter heaven after death! On the contrary, the Bible teaches that we are saved by God's grace through our faith in Him alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16), affirms that we are spiritually bankrupt sinners (Romans 3:23; 5:12), and that we can have great assurance of eternal salvation (John 5:24; 1 John 5:13).
              -Islam teaches that God can contradict Himself, whereas Christianity teaches that God can only do what is good and what is right (NOT a limitation, but rather is a degree of absolute perfection).
              -In Christianity, heaven is for all people who were saved by the grace of God. It is complete, eternal unity with the 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.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    A Critical Reply To De Maria On Justification

    • Introduction:
              -Recently, lay Roman Catholic apologist De Maria responded to an objector who argued against the Roman Catholic view of how man gets saved by God from eternal condemnation (i.e. justification). Following are his remarks in quotation form, with all of my replies being in pink. Alright, shall we begin this critique of Catholic apologetics?:

    "But who is the judge of true faith, you or God?"

              >>No doubt, God is the ultimate judge of the validity of our faith (2 Corinthians 5:10). However, there is a tremendous difference between merely recognizing genuine faith in God and arrogating ourselves to a position of judging ourselves as being worthy of inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ specifically said that we shall know people by people by their fruits (Matthew 7:20). We can certainly apply that principle of discernment to ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). And yes, we can have great assurance of our eternal salvation (John 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13).

    "They claim faith ALONE saves. Whereas Scripture says differently."

              >>We Protestants proclaim the gospel of salvation by faith apart from the merit of all works because that is EXACTLY what Scripture affirms. What part of "not by works of righteousness" do Roman Catholics not understand (Romans 4:2-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:8-9; Titus 3:5-7)? Furthermore, it is vital to recognize that the Apostle Paul repeatedly mentioned the concept of meritorious works in the context of boasting throughout his epistles to the New Testament churches. He rightly did so because the works-salvation mindset provokes man's prideful nature. 

    "Salvation is granted to them who OBEY Christ (Hebrews 5:9)"

              >>Obedience to the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ comes as a RESULT of salvation.

    "Much less is one saved by faith ALONE (James 2:24)."

              >>The context of James 2:24 is not about justification, but rather is about how we demonstrate the reality of our faith by our good deeds. Good works are simply the EVIDENCE of a saving faith in God (James 2:18), NOT the cause of salvation. The word "justified" in this particular context best means VINDICATED or PROVEN, and is used in the same manner elsewhere in Scripture.

    "But, for the most part, they (Protestants) deny the Catholic Teaching and call it blasphemous."
               >>Well, anybody who knows what the Apostle Paul said concerning preaching a false gospel would do the same (Galatians 1:6-12).

    "First, faith, if it is accompanied by the fruits it produces, is not alone..."

               >>Remember, works are the product of salvation by faith, not the cause. The moment that the repentant man gets saved by faith is the moment that Jesus Christ begins to transform him into a holier person. Converted individuals are "a new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are created in Him for the purpose of good works (Ephesians 2:10). In short, works come as a result of faith, which is the moment of salvation. THAT is how good works accompany faith.

    "Second, true faith produces good works and salvation follows (James 2:14)."

               >>Never does Scripture teach, "Works follow faith AND THEN salvation follows." The Bible teaches that the performance of good works occurs as a RESULT of salvation, not the cause. It almost seems as if De Maria has his "theological underwear" placed on backwards! Furthermore, the New American Bible, an official translation approved by the Church of Rome, emphatically translates the question posed in James 2:14 as, "Can THAT faith save him?" This is rather supportive of the "faith alone" position, for the addition of the implied "that" lends support to the interpretation that the inspired writer James was combating the error of using Paul's teaching on justification as an excuse for participation in sin or being negligent of Christian duties. Again, it is clear that James does not argue against salvation by faith alone, but rather argues against a salvation that is devoid of good works.

    "Scripture tells you what else is needed. Baptism (Mark 16:16). And after, Confession (Heb 13:17) and throughout your life, good works (Matt 25:31-46). Do you take one verse and discard the rest of the Gospel?"

               >>Is De Maria actually serious in interpreting the Scripture passages that he just cited above in the manner that he just did? 

               >>In Mark 16:16, Jesus only condemned the unbelieving. In fact, He did not even say that baptism was necessary for salvation in the Mark verse. 
               >>Hebrews 13:17 simply talks about submission to godly, biblically appointed leaders of the church, not confession to a priest! This verse is not even talking about the confession of sin.               
               >>Concerning Matthew 25:31-46, the context is all about faithfulness to the will of God, not justification. The works mentioned in the text from the Gospel According to Matthew offer descriptions for various states of the human heart, not prescribed as criteria for salvation. As with all biblical scenarios of the final judgment, God looks at people's works because they are the evidence of what is in their hearts by faith.
               >>Salvation as presented by the biblical gospel is NOT works-based (John 20:30-31). 
               >>While De Maria claims that salvation is determined on the basis of faith AND works, Scripture teaches that mankind can only be saved on the basis of faith OR by works (Romans 11:6). But Scripture teaches that we are saved by FAITH, apart from the merit of all works. Sorry De Maria, but you can't have it both ways!

    Monday, June 19, 2017

    No Condemnation In Christ Jesus

    • Introduction:
              -"There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." (Romans 8:1)
    • Commentary On Romans 8:1
              -To be in Jesus Christ requires genuine conversion of heart. To be converted means to be born spiritually into the kingdom of God. To be born spiritually means to have a genuine relationship with God. It means to have fellowship with the Spirit. It means having fellowship with the Light. We should possess a conviction from the heart that Jesus is Lord and Savior. To walk after the spirit means being gradually conformed to the character of Jesus Christ. To act in accordance to the precepts of the gospel requires trusting in the divine providence of God. It requires standing for what is good. It requires standing for what is true. It requires standing for what is right. The people who give themselves to God are the ones who walk after the spirit. On the other hand, the people who walk after the flesh are the ones who have given in to fleshly lusts. They serve the kingdom of darkness. They stand for evil and falsehood. The god of the carnal people is their own bellies. Their current spiritual destination is eternal condemnation in the literal flames of hell.

    Sunday, June 18, 2017

    Refuting De Maria On Transubstantiation

    • Introduction:
              -Back in the month of April this year, a lay Roman Catholic apologist who goes by the name of De Maria wrote an article responding to a fellow Protestant's objections to the Real Presence doctrine titled "Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God". In his article, he addressed the claim that, "There is no Biblical basis for two separate killings of two different lives (of the lamb and of Jesus) being one sacrifice." Hence, the purpose of this article is to deliver a brief response to his arguments defending the Roman Catholic Mass.

           1.) First, De Maria asserts that God commanding Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah is biblical evidence for the alleged prefiguration of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the New Testament. While we can readily see the typology in these passages of the Book of Genesis in relation to the sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus Christ (carrying wood up on a hill; the exact location of the sacrifice; God providing a lamb for an offering; etc.), we still see no evidence for the Catholic Mass. For the most part, it can be said that God was simply testing Abraham's faithfulness to His will. But the passages of Genesis 22 only provide biblical support for the concept of vicarious atonement, since God provided Abraham a lamb to be offered as a holy sacrifice in the place of his own son. If Genesis 22 was meant to serve as a biblical prefiguration of the Roman Catholic Eucharist, then we should see Isaac being offered repeatedly on an alter (in the same manner as Jesus Christ is supposedly sacrificed on alters in Catholic Churches). But we never see this happening in the Bible. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who's blood was shed on the cross ONCE FOR ALL to redeem mankind from sin.

          2.) Concerning De Maria's comments on the Passover in Exodus 12, we do see the literal sacrifices of sheep. But I do not really see what this Catholic apologist is trying to prove when he refers to these blood of the covenant passages, for all sacrifices that were performed in the Old Testament pointed directly to the one perfect, final sacrifice accomplished by Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Hebrews 10:1). Although we can see many clear examples of typology in Exodus 12 (the bones of the lamb [symbolizes Christ] not being broken), we have no reason to interpret these passages as being supportive of transubstantiation because they do not say anything about a mysterious transformation in the consecrated elements of the Mass into the literal flesh and blood of Christ. Although the event at Calvary was a one time event, its effects are permanent. The ministerial priesthood of the Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament universal priesthood of believers under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:24-28; 1 Peter 2:5-9).

          3.) One of the underlying problems with De Maria's use of Old to New Testament typology in defense of the Catholic Eucharist is the NATURE of the sacrifices. While the sacrifices performed by Roman Catholic priests during the worship ceremonies are "unbloody," all biblical sacrifices were bloody. This is very problematic for De Maria's position because Scripture tells us that without the shedding of blood we cannot have any forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Not only does Scripture fail to equate two different sacrifices as being one sacrifice, but we also are never informed about any sort of transition from "bloody" to "unbloody" sacrifices. Thus, De Maria has been forced to read utterly foreign ideas into passages of Scripture in order to substantiate any of his points.   

           4.) A lot could be said about De Maria's misuse of John 6:51 as a proof-text for transubstantiation, but this paper was meant to only be a short response to the issues in De Maria's article. The surrounding context of John 6 is about coming to Christ and believing on Him for salvation (John 6:35; 40). THAT is the meaning of consuming His flesh and blood. Jesus said of His words, "It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63). Not only would Jesus Christ never violate the Law's restriction on drinking blood (Genesis 9:5; Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:23), but cannibalism is a sure sign of spiritual apostasy (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Ezekiel 5:10). If Jesus literally meant to eat His literal body and drink His blood in order to obtain eternal life, then His disciples would have done so on the spot! The simple truth of the matter is that the Roman Catholic Eucharist is totally unbiblical, as well as it is illogical.

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

    • Discussion:
             -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 allegedly divine revelation that repeatedly 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 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 Christian churches, 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 continually been abandoned by several million 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 His 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.