Saturday, September 30, 2017

Thought-Provoking Quote From Sherlock Holmes

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British Author)

This saying about remaining unbiased when searching for truth is extremely valuable, especially when applied to contexts where atheists deny the validity of miracles or explain away any seemingly miraculous occurrences.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Discussion On Eternal Security

  • Introduction:
          -The well-known doctrine of eternal security, which is also known as once saved always saved, is a hotly debated topic among Christians. While many Protestants adhere to the theological position that a Christian can never lose his or her salvation after conversion, others maintain that a believer can undeniably cease to be a child of God due to apostasy. Thus, members from both sides of this doctrinal controversy have set forth various arguments from a number of different biblical passages which seemingly offer support for their respective positions. There are godly Christians on both sides of this debate. We all agree that justification is by faith alone. Nonetheless, this article aims to provide some commentary on a few arguments used in defending the doctrine of eternal security.
  • Does 1 Corinthians 5:5 Offer Biblical Support For The Doctrine Of Eternal Security?
          -Proponents of once saved always saved have interpreted the text of 1 Corinthians 5:5 to mean that God may destroy a person's mortal flesh in order to prevent his or her spirit from departing from His divine grace.
          +If it is impossible for a Christian to lose his or her salvation, then why would God need to destroy the physical body of the sinner? Why is it that God will erase the names of people from His Book of Life (Exodus 32:33; Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalm 69:28; Revelation 22:19)? The New American Bible Revised Edition has this insightful footnote: on 1 Corinthians 5:5:
          "[5:5] Deliver this man to Satan: once the sinner is expelled from the church, the sphere of Jesus’ lordship and victory over sin, he will be in the region outside over which Satan is still master. For the destruction of his flesh: the purpose of the penalty is medicinal: through affliction, sin’s grip over him may be destroyed and the path to repentance and reunion laid open. With Paul’s instructions for an excommunication ceremony here, contrast his recommendations for the reconciliation of a sinner in 2 Cor 2:5–11."
  • Does 1 John 2:19 Offer Biblical Support For The Doctrine Of Eternal Security?:
          -Proponents of the belief that authentic Christians cannot fall away from God’s grace after spiritual conversion oftentimes rely on this text to substantiate their claim that backsliders were “never really saved to begin with." These people interpret the “they” mentioned in 1 John 2:19 as being a reference to people who have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ or fully accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Though this argument sounds absolutely brilliant from a superficial standpoint, it is not without flaws:
           *This argument derived from the text of 1 John 2:19 is problematic because the word “they” has been misapplied by defenders of eternal security. In truth, this text is speaking of people who are identified in context as “Antichrists” (v. 18), not so-called Christians who fell away from the faith. These people were not “of us” because they were “Antichrists”—people who outrightly teach contrary to the gospel. Consider these words, "Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions." (Acts 15:24) "Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22)
           *This claim flies right in the face of many Scriptures that clearly state that a person can lose his or her salvation. In other words, professing Christians who subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security have the burden of interpreting passages such as Galatians 5:4 and Colossians 1:23 to mean the exact opposite of how they actually read. If it is true that those who appear to have “lost their salvation” were “never really saved to begin with,” then it follows that these passages should say “never attached because of a lack of belief” and “never had the hope held out in the gospel.” But the logical conclusion of this defense used by eternal security proponents is flatly contradicted by Bible verses such as the ones previously listed, for they clearly denote a loss of salvation. In simplest terms, the underlying reasoning of this once saved always saved apologetic is: “If you can obtain X, then you cannot lose X; and if you lose X you never really possessed X.” Does that even make any sense? How can anybody stake conclusive declarations about another person's state of heart when Scripture states that only God knows the hearts of man (1 Kings 8:37-39)? This defense of eternal security is not even consistent with itself, considering that it undermines us even having assurance of salvation in the first place.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Is The Relationship Between Doubt And Certainty?

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

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

        If we learn to discern correctly, then everything else in life will fall into place. Everything will have purpose and light.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Immortality Of The Soul

Pure practical reason postulates the immortality of the soul, for reason in the pure and practical sense aims at the perfect good (summum bonum), and this perfect good is only possible on the supposition of the soul's immortality. It is the moral law which determines the will, and in his will the perfect harmony of the mind with the moral law is the supreme condition of the summum bonum.

The principle of the moral destination of our nature--that only by endless progress can we come into full harmony with the moral law--is of the greatest use, not only for fortifying the speculative reason, but also with respect to religion. In default of this, either the moral law is degraded from its holiness, being represented as indulging our convenience, or else men strain after an unattainable aim, hoping to gain absolute holiness of will, thus losing themselves in fanatical theosophic dreams utterly contradicting self-knowledge.

For a rational, but finite, being the only possibility is an endless progression from the lower to the higher degrees of perfection. The Infinite Being, to whom the time condition is nothing, sees in this endless succession the perfect harmony with the moral law.

The Existence of God

The pure practical reason must also postulate the existence of God as the necessary condition of the attainment of the summum bonum. As the perfect good can only be promoted by accordance of the will with the moral law, so also this summum bonum is possible only through the supremacy of an Infinite Being possessed of causality harmonising with morality. But the postulate of the highest derived good (sometimes denominated the best world) coincides with the postulate of a highest original good, or of the existence of God.

We now perceive why the Greeks could never solve their problem of the possibility of the summum bonum, because they made the freedom of the human will the only and all-sufficient ground of happiness, imagining there was no need for the existence of God for that end. Christianity alone affords an idea of the summum bonum which answers fully to the requirement of practical reason. That idea is the Kingdom of God.

The holiness which the Christian law requires makes essential an infinite progress. But just for that very reason it justifies in man the hope of endless existence. And it is only from an Infinite Supreme Being, morally perfect, holy, good and with an omnipotent will, that we can hope, by accord with His will, to attain the summum bonum, which the moral law enjoins on us as our duty to seek ever to attain.

The moral law does not enjoin on us to render ourselves happy, but instructs us how to become worthy of happiness. Morality must never be regarded as a doctrine of happiness, or direction how to become happy, its province being to inculcate the rational condition of happiness, not the means of attaining it. God's design in creating the world is not primarily the happiness of the rational beings in it, but the summum bonum, which super-adds another condition to that desire of human beings, namely, the condition of deserving such happiness. That is to say, the morality of rational beings is a condition which alone includes the rule by observing which they can hope to participate in happiness at the hand of an all-wise Creator.

The highest happiness can only be conceived as possible under conditions harmonising with the divine holiness. Thus they are right who make the glory of God the chief end of creation. For beyond all else that can be conceived, that glorifies God which is the most estimable thing in the whole world, honour for His command and obedience to His law, when to this is added His glorious design to crown so beauteous an order of things with happiness corresponding.

Conclusion

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder--the starry heavens above me, and the moral law within me. I need not search for them, and vaguely guess concerning them, as if they were veiled in darkness or hidden in the infinite altitude. I see them before me, and link them immediately with the consciousness of my existence. The former begins from the spot I occupy in the outer world of sense, and enlarges my connexion with it to a boundless extent with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems.

The second begins with my invisible self, my personality, and places me in a truly infinite world traceable only by the understanding, with which I perceive I am in an universal and necessary connexion, as I am also thereby with all those visible worlds.

This view infinitely elevates my value as an intelligence by my personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life independent of the animal and even the whole material world, and reaching by destiny into the infinite.

But though admiration may stimulate inquiry, it cannot compensate for the want of it. The contemplation of the world, beginning with the most magnificent spectacle possible, ended in astrology; and morality, beginning with the noblest attribute of human nature, ended in superstition. But after reason was applied to careful examination of the phenomena of nature a clear and unchangeable insight was secured into the system of the world. We may entertain the hope of a like good result in treating of the moral capacities of our nature by the help of the moral judgement of reason.

The World's Greatest Books (Philosophy and Economics), Vol. XIV, p. 41-44

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Is God An Imaginary Being?

"Some might think God an imaginary being and ask, what good is it to compare ourselves to something made up? The answer is that if God is an imaginary being, he is a being very easy to imagine. That is because we can see ourselves and the other creatures around us. If we can see what is different between a beast and a man, then it is not hard to imagine what would be the next step after man. If we can see inside ourselves which are the better and which are the worst capacities, then we can imagine a being with only those better capacities. If we can see that these better capacities that we possess are still imperfect in us, then we can imagine them perfected. Not only the Bible but also the classic authors conclude that nature points to the heavens."

Larry P. Arnn, The Founders’ Key, p. 51-52

Science And Underlying Philosophical Presuppositions

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

Phillip E. Johnson, Objections Sustained, p. 25

Questioning Darwin

Chinese Professor: "The strange thing about these Cambrian fossil finds is that they turn Darwin's tree upside down. Instead of having the simple forms at the bottom and gradually morphing and then the complex forms arising and then branching out, we have the disparity between form at the very beginning of the [Cambrian] explosion, with nothing underneath."So there was some uncomfortable shuffling. And then we went to the Q&A time. And one of the geologists from the University of Washington raised his hand and he said, almost as if in warning, "Professor, aren't you a little bit uneasy about expressing scepticism about Darwinian evolution coming as you do from such an authoritarian country?"

And suddenly you could cut the tension with a knife, to use the old metaphor. But this Chinese professor - no one's fool - got a wry smile on his face, and he said, "In our country we can question Darwin, just not the government." And then he said, "In your country, you can question the government, but you can't question Darwinism."

Source: Stephen Meyer discussing (here at approximately the 23:15 mark) a lecture he attended given by a Chinese professor of paleontology

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2014/07/questioning-darwin.html

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Biblical Presentation On Penal Substitutionary Atonement

  • Defining Vicarious Atonement:
          -Vicarious Atonement, which is also known as substitutionary atonement, means that Jesus Christ died in our place for sin. He bore the punishment of God's wrath that we deserve. He suffered in our place. He paid an infinite debt that we could never pay. The one sacrifice of Christ was a perfect, eternal sacrifice which satisfied God's wrath and righteousness. Justification is not by works of righteousness, but by faith (Romans 3:27-28).
  • We Are Declared Righteous Through The Righteousness Of Jesus Christ:
          -"The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification." (Romans 5:16)
          -"For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)
  • We Are Justified By An Alien Righteousness, That Is, The Righteousness Of God:
          -"But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile." (Romans 3:21-22)
          -"Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness." (Romans 10:3)
  • Jesus Christ Became Righteousness, Holiness, And Redemption On Our Behalf Through His Atonement Sacrifice:
          -"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ Took The Curse Of Sin On Our Behalf:
          -"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
  • Our Righteousness Is Based On The Righteousness Of Christ:
          -"Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
          -"In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness." (Jeremiah 33:16)
          -"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." (Philippians 3:8-9)
  • Jesus Christ Took Our Punishment On Our Behalf:
          -"But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." (Hebrews 2:9)
          -"And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Presentation Of C.S. Lewis' Trilemma

  • Introduction:
          -This traditional argument which was originally developed and popularized by University of Oxford literary scholar C.S. Lewis has been used by apologists to demonstrate that the Lord Jesus Christ is in actuality the Son of God. In short, this logical proof aims to expose the absurdity of upholding the position that Christ was a good moral teacher while not being God in the flesh. It presents the man Jesus Christ as being one of three possible alternatives: 1.) liar, 2.) lunatic, or 3.) Lord. This argument developed by C.S. Lewis eliminates two of the possible character descriptions of Christ in order to obtain the conclusion that He is Lord. It has been labeled a "trilemma" because it presents us with three options, with one we must accept.
  • Formation Of C.S. Lewis' Trilemma:
          -"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God." (Lewis, Mere Christianity, 55-56)
  • For Those Who Claim That The Gospel Accounts Were Legends, Consider The Following Excerpt From C.S. Lewis' Essay written in 1950 Titled "What Are We to Make of Jesus?":
          -"Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there is no conversation that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

No Abstract Values Can Fit Into The Consistent Atheistic Worldview

"The atheist in fact talks of the true, the good, and the beautiful, but never asks why we admire or pursue such categories. These are ideas by which we judge everything…. The same applies for liberty, equality, and justice. These are ideas by which we seek to live. Wars are fought over them. Books are written because of them. If such categories exist, which of the worldview is able to explain them or justify them or sustain them? Atheism simply cannot do it. To be sure, it has been tried."

Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Secular Gods, p. 56

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A False Mormon Prophecy

Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth;… [say] we will summons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishopric, and all the elders of Israel, suppose we summons them to appear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with us and be partakers with us of all the blessings God had given to us. On that very day and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to destruction, we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the priesthood until that curse be removed.

Brigham Young, February 5, 1852

Friday, September 8, 2017

Words Have Objective Meanings

"If words have no objective meaning; and all interpretation lies in the mind of the reader (hearer), then the logical deduction is that communication is impossible. Additionally, the reasoning, logic, and pronouncements of the post-modernist proponents are just as preposterous as anyone else’s. If the content of their words have no meaning, apart from the meaning you or I choose to give them, then they have nothing meaningful to say."

Gary E. Gilley, This Little Church Stayed Home: A Faithful Church in Deceptive Times, p. 32

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Evolutionary Bias Against Intelligent Design

"Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic." (Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 401(6752):423, 30 Sept. 1999.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The True Meaning Of Being A Disciple Of Christ

          What does it mean to be a Christian, and how can we have assurance that our current state of heart qualifies as fulfilling the appropriate criterion of being one? Now, this question is not an application of some random faith plus works formula, but rather is an honest inquiry into what it takes to be an authentic disciple of Christ. This question of discernment can aid us in the process of distinguishing ourselves righteously from the common characteristics of the people who are not of God, especially when there are many who profess Christ but in reality are false prophets (Matthew 7:21-23). We know that there exists a great, constant spiritual battle that is taking place in this world between the forces of good and evil. To be precise, enmity exists between God and the devil. Though this intense opposition may not always be readily apparent to our fleshly eyes, we do know through divine revelation that we who are Christian need to spiritually equip ourselves. We need to build each other up in the faith. The Household of God needs to competently fight the good fight of faith through preaching and living out the gospel.

To be a Christian means to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior from eternal condemnation in the literal flames of hell and to make Him Lord over every aspect of our lives. It means confessing the name of our Lord Jesus Christ publicly, and believing from the heart that He resurrected from the dead bodily (Romans 10:9-13). It is a call to faithfulness, rather than rebellion. It is call to holiness. It means serving God according to His will (John 14:15; 21). It involves placing Him above all kings and lords. To be a Christian means to stand up for what is right, regardless of what other people say or do. True Christians place their burdens on Him, instead of relying on their own futile efforts (Matthew 11:28-30). It means trusting in Him even when we do not understand why we encounter bad situations. We need to emulate His constant example of wisdom. Christians depend on His strength, and turn to Him as their guide. Being a disciple of Christ requires that we act holy, as God is holy (Matthew 5:48). It involves us scrutinizing our thoughts (Matthew 5:28-30), words (Proverbs 13:3), and deeds (James 1:14-16). A Christian has been renewed by the Holy Spirit to live a godly life (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Biblically defined Christians are people who have chosen to pick up their crosses and follow Christ through faith. We are to obey Him to the point of death.

          True Christians make God the top priority of their lives. True Christians love God. True Christians know Him. True Christians serve Him. Only through His name are we able to get saved. We should be continually praising His name. According to Scripture, following Jesus Christ is of greater importance than burying the deceased (Luke 9:59-60). In other words, obedience to Him is more important than everything else in this world. No sin is worth spending an eternity from God over. Being a disciple of Christ means boldly preaching His name, even in the midst of persecution. Thus, our spiritual state should be righteously different than the unbelievers that we encounter daily. Our candle of faith should be shining before all men. Our good works are the product of a changed heart. Our good works demonstrate the reality of our faith. Our works serve as convictable evidence of our Christian testimony. If we are not spiritually distinct from the people of this world, then how could we rightly profess the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who stands in contradiction to their beliefs, customs, and practices (James 4:4)? 

          If a person wishes to become a Christian, then he or she needs to trust in the sacrificial work of God. That is how we are adopted as His children. That is how we begin our spiritual walk with the Lord. We faithfully keep God's commandments through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. If, however, we find ourselves acting uncharitably toward other people, ensnared in sin addictions, not studying the Word of God, or not somehow witnessing to unconverted souls, then something has become deficient in our spiritual walk. External behaviors are the thermostat of the human heart, which can mean that we are either becoming warmer (growing closer to Christ) or colder (drifting away from Christ). This is the underlying reason that we need to periodically examine ourselves in light of Scripture (2 Corinthians 13:5). Having a morally sound conscience that is well grounded in the Faith of Jesus Christ forms the basis of being one of His true disciples. Having a doctrinally sound worldview that is well grounded in the Faith of Jesus Christ forms the basis of being one of His true disciples. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Study On Imputation

IMPUTATION

im-pu-ta'-shun:

I. MEANING AND USE OF THE TERM

II. THE THREEFOLD USE OF THE TERM IN THEOLOGY

Original Sin, Atonement, Justification

III. THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS OF THESE DOCTRINES

1. Imputation of Adam's Sin to His Posterity

2. Imputation of the Sins of His People to Christ

3. Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ to His People

LITERATURE

I. Meaning and Use of the Term.

The word "imputation," according to the Scriptural usage, denotes an attributing of something to a person, or a charging of one with anything, or a setting of something to one's account. This takes place sometimes in a judicial manner, so that the thing imputed becomes a ground of reward or punishment. The word is used in the King James Version a number of times to translate the Hebrew verb chashabh and the Greek verb logizomai. These words, both of which occur frequently in Scripture, and which in a number of instances mean simply "to think," express the above idea. That this is the case is clear also from the other English words used in the King James Version to translate these Hebrew and Greek words, as, for example, "to count," "to reckon," "to esteem." Thus chashabh is translated in the King James Version by the verb "to impute" (Leviticus 7:18; 17:4; 2 Samuel 19:19); by the verb "to reckon" (2 Samuel 4:2); by "to count" as something (Leviticus 25:31 English versions). The verb in 1 Samuel 22:15 is sim. Similarly, logizomai is translated by the verb "to impute" (Romans 4:6,8,11,22,23,24; 2 Corinthians 5:19; James 2:23); by the verb "to count" (Romans 2:26; 4:3,5); "to account" (Galatians 3:6); and by the verb "to reckon" (Romans 4:4,9,10). In the Revised Version (British and American) the word used to render logizomai is the verb "to reckon."

These synonyms of the verb "to impute" bring out the idea of reckoning or charging to one's account. It makes no difference, so far as the meaning of imputation is concerned, who it is that imputes, whether man (1 Samuel 22:15) or God (Psalms 32:2); it makes no difference what is imputed, whether a good deed for reward (Psalms 106:30) or a bad deed for punishment (Leviticus 17:4); and it makes no difference whether that which is imputed is something which is personally one's own prior to the imputation, as in the case above cited, where his own good deed was imputed to Phinehas (Psalms 106:30), or something which is not personally one's own prior to the imputation, as where Paul asks that a debt not personally his own be charged to him (Philemon 1:18). In all these cases the act of imputation is simply the charging of one with something. It denotes just what we mean by our ordinary use of the term. It does not change the inward state or character of the person to whom something is imputed. When, for example, we say that we impute bad motives to anyone, we do not mean that we make such a one bad; and just so in the Scripture the phrase "to impute iniquity" does not mean to make one personally bad, but simply to lay iniquity to his charge. Hence, when God is said "to impute sin" to anyone, the meaning is that God accounts such a one to be a sinner, and consequently guilty and liable to punishment. Similarly, the non-imputation of sin means simply not to lay it to one's charge as a ground of punishment (Psalms 32:2). In the same manner, when God is said "to impute righteousness" to a person, the meaning is that He judicially accounts such a one to be righteous and entitled to all the rewards of a righteous person (Romans 4:6,11).

II. The Threefold Use of the Term in Theology.

Original Sin, Atonement, Justification:

Three acts of imputation are given special prominence in the Scripture, and are implicated in the Scriptural doctrines of Original Sin, Atonement and Justification, though not usually expressed by the words chashabh and logizomai. Because, however, of its "forensic" or "judicial" meaning, and possibly through its use in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) to translate logizomai in Romans 4:8, the term "imputation" has been used in theology in a threefold sense to denote the judicial acts of God by which the guilt of Adam's sin is imputed to his posterity; by which the sins of Christ's people are imputed to Him; and by which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to His people. The act of imputation is precisely the same in each case. It is not meant that Adam's sin was personally the sin of his descendants, but that it was set to their account, so that they share its guilt and penalty. It is not meant that Christ shares personally in the sins of men, but that the guilt of his people's sin was set to his account, so that He bore its penalty. It is not meant that Christ's people are made personally holy or inwardly righteous by the imputation of His righteousness to them, but that His righteousness is set to their account, so that they are entitled to all the rewards of that perfect righteousness.

These doctrines have had a place in theology of the Christian church from the earliest Christian centuries, though the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ was first fully and clearly stated at the time of and following the Reformation. The first two of these doctrines have been the possession of the entire Christian church, while the third one of them is affirmed by both the Reformed and Lutheran branches of Protestantism.

III. The Scriptural Basis of These Doctrines.

These three doctrines have a basis in the Scripture, and underlie the Scripture doctrines of Original Sin, Atonement, and Justification.

1. Imputation of Adam's Sin to His Posterity:

The doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity is implied in the account of the Fall in Genesis 2 and 3, taken in connection with the subsequent history of the human race as recorded in Ge and in the rest of the Old Testament. Many ancient and modern interpreters regard this narrative as an allegorical, mythical or symbolical representation in historical form, either of a psychological fact, i.e. of something which takes place in every individual, or of certain general truths concerning sin. By some exegetes, following Kant, it has been held to depict an advance of the race in culture or ethical knowledge (Reuss; against which view compare Budde, Clemen); by others it has been regarded as a symbolical representation of certain truths concerning sin (Oehler, Schultz); by others it has been regarded as historical (Delitzsch). This latter view is the one which accords with the narrative itself. It is evidently intended as historical by its author, and is so regarded by the New Testament writers. It is, moreover, introduced to explain, not an advance of the race, but the entrance of sin into the world, and the connection of certain penal evils with sin. It does this by showing how these evils came upon Adam as a punishment for his disobedience, and the subsequent history shows that his posterity were subjected to the same evils. It is true that the threat of punishment to Adam in case of disobedience was made to him alone, and that the penalties threatened are said to have come only upon him and Eve (Genesis 3:16-19). Nevertheless, it is clear from the account of the subsequent history of the race that it actually shared in the punishments inflicted upon Adam, and that this was in consequence of his sin. This implies that in Genesis 2:16 f are contained the terms of a covenant in which Adam acted as the representative of the race. If, therefore, the race shares in the penalty of Adam's sin, it must also share in his guilt or the judicial obligation to suffer punishment. And this is precisely what theology of the entire Christian church has meant by saying that the guilt of Adam's sin was imputed to his posterity. This is in accordance with God's method of dealing with men in other recorded instances (Genesis 19:15; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:26); and the assertion of the principle of personal responsibility by Ezekiel and Jeremiah against an abuse of the principle of representative responsibility implies a recognition of the latter (Ezekiel 18:2,4; 33:12; Jeremiah 31:29).

The universality of sin and death is not brought into connection with the Fall of Adam by the other Old Testament writers. This is done, however, by Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:21, Paul says that the death of all men has its cause in the man Adam in the same way in which the resurrection from the dead has its cause in the man Christ. The death of all men, accordingly, is not brought about by their personal sins, but has come upon all through the disobedience of Adam. Upon what ground this takes place, Paul states in the passage Romans 5:12-21. He introduces the subject of Adam's relation to the race to illustrate his doctrine of the justification of sinners on the ground of a righteousness which is not personally their own. In order to do this he takes the truth, well known to his readers, that all men are under condemnation on account of Adam's sin. The comparison is between Adam and Christ, and the specific point of the comparison is imputed sin and imputed righteousness. Hence, in 5:12 Paul does not mean simply to affirm that as Adam sinned and consequently died, so men sin and die. Nor can he mean to say that just as God established a precedent in Adam's case that death should follow sin, so He acts upon this precedent in the case of all men because all sin, the real ground of the reign of death being the fact that all sin, and the formal ground being this precedent (B. Weiss); nor that the real ground is this precedent and the subordinate ground the fact that all sin (Hunefeld). Neither can Paul intend to say that all men are subject to death because they derive a corrupt nature from Adam (Fritzsche); nor that men are condemned to die because all have sinned (Pfleiderer). Paul's purpose is to illustrate his doctrine of the way in which men are delivered from sin and death by the way in which they are brought into condemnation. The main thought of the passage is that, just as men are condemned on account of the imputation to them of the guilt of Adam's sin, so they are justified on account of the imputation to them of the righteousness of Christ. Paul says that it was by one man that sin and death entered into the world, and it was by one man that death passed to all men, because all were implicated in the guilt of that one man's Sin (5:12). In proof of this the apostle cites the fact that death as a punishment was reigning during a period in which the only possible judicial ground of this fact must have been the imputation of the guilt of that one man's sin (5:13,14). Hence, there is a precise parallel between Adam and Christ. Just as men are condemned on account of Adam's disobedience, so they are justified on account of the obedience of Christ (5:18,19). The thought of the passage is imputed sin and imputed righteousness as the ground of condemnation and of justification respectively.

2. Imputation of the Sins of His People to Christ:

That our sins are imputed to Christ is not expressly stated in the Scripture, but is implied in those passages which affirm that Christ "bore our sins," and that our iniquities were "laid upon him" by Yahweh. To bear inquity or sin, though it may sometimes mean to bear it away or remove it, is an expression often applied in Scripture to persons charged with guilt and subjected to the punishment of their own sin (Leviticus 5:17; 7:18; 19:8; 22:9). That the Hebrew verb nasa' has this meaning is also indicated by its being interchanged with the verb cabhal, which means "to bear as a burden" and is used to denote the bearing of the punishment of sin (Isaiah 53:11). In the Old Testament sacrificial system, which according to the New Testament is typical of the sacrifice of Christ, the imposition of hands on the head of the victim signified the substitution of it for the offender and the transfer of his guilt to it. This idea is brought out clearly in the case of the two goats on the great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). When, therefore, the Servant of Yahweh in Isaiah 53 is said "to bear iniquity" (53:11), or that "the chastisement of our peace was upon him" (53:5), or that "Yahweh hath laid (literally, "caused to fall") on him the iniquity of us all" (53:6), the idea expressed is that Christ bore the punishment of our sin vicariously, its guilt having been imputed to Him. The thought of the prophecy is, as Delitzsch says, that of vicarious punishment, which implies the idea of the imputation of the guilt of our sins to Christ.

The same idea underlies these expressions when they occur in the New Testament. When Peter wishes to hold up Christ as an example of patience in suffering, he takes up the thought of Isa, and adduces the fact that Christ "his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree". (1 Peter 2:24). The context indicates that Peter had the prophecy of Isaiah 53 in mind, so that his meaning is, not that Christ carried our sins even up to the cross, but that in His death on the cross Christ bore the punishment of our sin, its guilt having been imputed to Him. The same thought is expressed by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the contrast between the first and second advents of Christ is made to hinge upon the fact that in the first He came to be sacrificed as a sin-bearer, burdened with the guilt of the sin of others, whereas in His second coming He will appear without this burden of imputed or vicarious guilt (Hebrews 9:28). Paul also gives expression to the same thought when he says that Christ was "made. to be sin on our behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:21), and that He became "a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). In the former passage the idea of substitution, although not expressed by the preposition huper which indicates that Christ's work was for our benefit, is nevertheless clearly implied in the thought that Christ, whose sinlessness is emphasized in the ver, is made sin, and that we sinners become righteous in Him. Paul means that Christ was made to bear the penalty of our sin and that its guilt was imputed to Him in precisely the same way in which we sinners become the righteousness of God in Him, i.e. by the imputation of His righteousness to us. The same thought is expressed in Galatians 3:13, where the statement that Christ was made a curse for us means that He was made to endure the curse or penalty of the broken law. In all these passages the underlying thought is that the guilt of our sin was imputed to Christ.

3. Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ to His People:

The righteousness upon the ground of which God justifies the ungodly is, according to Paul, witnessed to in the Old Testament (Romans 3:21). In order to obtain the blessedness which comes from a right relation to God, the pardon or non-imputation of sin is necessary, and this takes place through the "covering" of sin (Psalms 32:1,2). The nature of this covering by the vicarious bearing of the penalty of sin is made clear in Isaiah 53. It is, moreover, the teaching of the Old Testament that the righteousness which God demands is not to be found among men (Psalms 130:3; 143:2; Isaiah 64:6). Accordingly, the prophets speak of a righteousness which is not from man's works, but which is said to be in Yahweh or to come from Him to His people (Isaiah 32:16; 45:23; 54:17; 58:8; 61:3; Jeremiah 51:10; Hosea 10:12). This idea finds its clearest expression in connection with the work of the Messiah in Jeremiah 33:16, where Jerusalem is called "Yahweh our righteousness" because of the coming of the Messianic king, and in Jeremiah 23:6 where the same name is given to the Messiah to express His significance for Israel. Although the idea of the imputation of righteousness is not explicitly asserted in these passages, the idea is not merely that the righteousness spoken of is recognized by Yahweh (Cremer), but that it comes from Him, so that Yahweh, through the work of the Messiah, is the source of His people's righteousness.

This idea is taken up by Paul, who makes explicit the way in which this righteousness comes to sinners, and who puts the idea of imputed righteousness at the basis of his doctrine of Justification. By the righteousness of Christ Paul means Christ's legal status, or the merit acquired by all that He did in satisfying the demands of God's law, including what has been called His active and passive obedience. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the modern expositors of Paul's doctrine have denied that he teaches the imputation of Christ's obedience, this doctrine has a basis in the apostle's teaching. Justification leads to life and final glorification (Romans 5:18; 8:30); and Paul always conceives the obtaining of life as dependent on the fulfillment of the law. If, therefore, Christ secures life for us, it can only be in accordance with this principle. Accordingly, the apostle emphasizes the element of obedience in the death of Christ, and places this act of obedience at the basis of the sinner's justification (Romans 5:18). He also represents the obedience of the cross as the culminating point of a life of obedience on Christ's part (Philippians 2:8). Moreover, Paul affirms that our redemption from all the demands of the law is secured by the fact that Christ was born under law (Galatians 4:4). This cannot be restricted to the fact that Christ was under the curse of the law, for He was born under law and the result of this is that we are free from all of its demands. This doctrine is also implied in the apostle's teaching that Justification is absolutely gracious, taken in connection with the fact that it leads to a complete salvation.

The importance in Paul's thought of the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer can be seen from the fact that the question how righteousness was to be obtained occupied a central place in his religious consciousness, both before and after his conversion. The apostle's conversion by the appearance of the risen Christ determined his conception of the true way of obtaining righteousness, since the resurrection of Christ meant for Paul the condemnation of his entire past search for righteousness by works of the law.

That the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer does lie at the basis of Paul's doctrine of Justification can be further seen from the fact that Justification is absolutely free and unmerited so far as the sinner is concerned (Romans 3:24; 5:15; Galatians 5:4; Titus 3:7); its object being one who is ungodly (Romans 4:5); so that it is not by works (Romans 3:20,28; Galatians 2:16; 3:11; 5:4; Philippians 3:9); and yet that it is not a mere pardon of sin, but is a strictly "forensic" or judicial judgment, freeing the sinner from all the claims of the law, and granting him the right to eternal life. This last truth is plain because God's retributive righteousness lies at the basis of Paul's doctrine of Justification (Romans 2); is manifested in it (Romans 3:25); because Christ's expiatory work is its ground (Romans 3:25); and because our redemption from the curse of the law rests upon Christ's having borne it for us, and our redemption from all the demands of the law depends upon their fulfillment by Christ (Galatians 3:13; 4:4). Hence, the gracious character of Justification, according to Paul, does not consist in its being merely a gracious pardon without any judicial basis (Ritschl); or in God's acceptance of a subjective righteousness produced by Him in the sinner (Tobac); or in the acceptance of faith instead of a perfect righteousness (Cremer). The gracious character of Justification consists for Paul in the fact that the righteousness on the ground of which God justifies the ungodly is a righteousness which is graciously provided by God, and which Paul contrasts with his own righteousness which comes from law works (Philippians 3:9). The sinner, therefore, is pardoned and accepted as a righteous person, not on account of anything in himself, but only on account of what Christ has done for him, which means that the merits of Christ's suffering and obedience are imputed to the sinner as the ground of his justification.

This truth is explicitly affirmed by Paul, who speaks of God's imputing righteousness without works, and of righteousness being imputed (Romans 4:6,11). The idea of the imputation of righteousness here is made clear by the context. The one who is declared righteous is said to be "ungodly" (Romans 4:5). Hence, he is righteous only by God's imputation of righteousness to him. This is also clear from the contrast between imputation according to grace and according to debt (Romans 4:4). He who seeks righteousness by works would be justified as a reward for his works, in antithesis to which, imputation according to grace would be the charging one with a righteousness which he does not possess. Accordingly, at the basis of Justification there is a reckoning to the sinner of an objective righteousness. This same idea is also implied and asserted by Paul in the parallel which he draws between Adam and Christ (Romans 5:18). The apostle says that just as men are condemned on account of a sin not their own, so they are justified on account of a righteousness which is not their own. The idea of imputed sin and imputed righteousness, as was said, is the precise point of the parallelism between condemnation in Adam and justification in Christ. This is also the idea which underlies the apostle's contrast of the Old and New Covenants (2 Corinthians 3:9). The New Covenant is described as a "ministry of righteousness," and contrasted with the Old Covenant which is described as a "ministry of condemnation." If, therefore, this last expression does not denote a subjective condition of men under the old dispensation, but their relation to God as objects of His condemnation, righteousness must denote the opposite of this relation to the law, and must depend on God's judicial acquittal. The same truth is expressed by Paul more concretely by saying that Christ has been "made unto us righteousness from God" (1 Corinthians 1:30). Here the concrete mode of expression is chosen because Paul speaks also of Christ being our sanctification and redemption, so that an expression had to be chosen which would cover all of these ideas. One of the clearest statements concerning this objective righteousness is Philippians 3:9. The apostle here affirms that the righteousness which the believer in Christ obtains is directly opposite to his own righteousness. This latter comes from works of the law, whereas the former comes from God and through faith in Christ. It is, therefore, objective to man, comes to him from God, is connected with the work of Christ, and is mediated by faith in Christ.

The idea clearly stated in this last passage of a righteousness which is objective to the sinner and which comes to him from God, i.e. the idea of a new legal standing given to the believer by God, explains the meaning, in most cases, of the Pauline phrase "righteousness of God." This phrase is used by Paul 9 t:

Romans 1:17; 3:5,21,25; 10:3 (twice); 2 Corinthians 5:21. It denotes the Divine attribute of righteousness in Romans 3:5,25 f. The customary exegesis was to regard the other instances as denoting the righteousness of a sinner which comes to him from God, in accordance with Philippians 3:9. More recently Haering, following Kolbing in general, has interpreted all these instances as denoting God's justifying action. But this interpretation is most strained in 2 Corinthians 5:21, where we are said to "become the righteousness of God," and in Romans 10:3-6, where the righteousness of God is identified with the righteousness which comes from faith, this latter being contrasted with man's own inward righteousness. That a righteousness of man which he receives from God is here referred to, is confirmed by the fact that the reason given for the error of the Jews in seeking a righteousness from law works is the fact that the work of Christ has made an end of this method of obtaining righteousness (Romans 10:4). This righteousness, therefore, is one of which man is the possessor. The phrase, however, cannot mean a righteousness which is valid in God's sight (Luther), although this thought is elsewhere expressed by Paul (Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:11). It means a righteousness which comes from God and of which He is the author. This is not, however, by making man inwardly righteous, since all the above passages show the purely objective character of this righteousness. It is the righteousness of Philippians 3:9; the righteousness which God imputes to the believer in Christ. Thus we "become the righteousness of God" in precisely the same sense in which Christ was "made to be sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Since Christ was made sin by having the guilt. of our sin imputed to Him so that He bore its penalty, Paul must mean that we "become the righteousness of God" in this same objective sense through the imputation to us of the righteousness of Christ. In the same way, in Romans 10:3, the contrast between God's righteousness and the Jew's righteousness by works of the law shows that in each case righteousness denotes a legal status which comes from God by imputation. It is this same imputed righteousness which makes the gospel the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:17), which has been revealed by the law and the prophets, which is received by faith in Christ by whose expiatory death God's retributive righteousness has been made manifest (Romans 3:21,22,25,26), and which is represented by Peter as the object of Christian faith (2 Peter 1:1).

In two passages Paul affirms that Abraham believed God and "it was imputed to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3 the King James Version; Galatians 3:6). The old Arminian theologians, and some modern exegetes (H. Cremer) assert that Paul means that Abraham's faith was accepted by God instead of a perfect righteousness as the meritorious ground of his justification. This, however, cannot be the apostle's meaning. It is diametrically opposed to the context where Paul introduces the case of Abraham for the very purpose of proving that he was justified without any merit on his part; it is opposed to Paul's idea of the nature of faith which involves the renunciation of all claim to merit, and is a simple resting on Christ from whom all its saving efficacy is derived; and this interpretation is also opposed to Paul's doctrine of the absolutely gracious character of Justification. The apostle in these passages wishes to illustrate from the case of Abraham the gracious character of Justification, and quotes the untechnical language of Genesis 15:6. His meaning is simply that Abraham was justified as a believer in God, and not as one who sought righteousness by works.

See SIN; ATONEMENT; JUSTIFICATION.

LITERATURE.

Besides the Comm., see works on Old Testament Theology by Dillmann, Davidson, Oehler, Schultz; and on New Testament Theology by H. Holtzmann, B. Weiss, Schmidt; also Chemnitz, De Vocabulo Imputationis, Loc. Theol., 1594, II, 326; J. Martin, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, 1834, 20-46; Clemen, Die Christliche Lehre yon der Sande, I, 1897, 151-79; Dietzsch, Adam und Christus, 1871; Hunefeld, Romans 5:12-21, 1895; Crawford, The Doctrine of the Holy Scripture Respecting the Atonements, 1876, 33-45, 188-90. Compare also the appropriate sections in the Works on the Scripture doctrine of Justification, and especially on Paul's doctrine of Justification, e.g. Owen, Justification, 1st American edition, 185-310; Ritschl, Die Christliche Lehre yon der Rechtfertigung und VersShnung, II2, 1882, 303-31; Bohl, Von der Rechtfertigung durch den Glauben, 1890, 115-23; Nosgen, Schriftbeweis fur die evangel. Rechfertigungslehre, 1901, 147-96; Pfleiderer, Die Paulinische Rechtfertigung, ZWT (Hilgenfeld herausg.), 1872, 161-200; Paulinism, English translation, I, 171-86; with which compare Pfleiderer's later view of Paul's teachings, 2nd edition, 1890, 178-89; G. Schwarz, Justitia Imputata? 1891; H. Cremer, Paulinische Rechtfertigungslehre, 1900, 329-49; Tobac, Le problame de la justification dans Saint Paul, 1908, 206-25. On Paul's doctrine of the righteousness of God, of the many monographs the following may be mentioned:

Fricke, Der Paulinische Grundbegriff der erortert auf Grund v. Rom. III, 21-26, 1888; Kolbing, Studien zur Paulinische Theologie, TSK, 1895, 7-51; Haring bei Paulus, 1896.

Caspar Wistar Hodge
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'IMPUTATION'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Roman Catholic Apologists And Circular Reasoning

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

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

          Nobody denies that the New Testament Scriptures were originally taught orally. That is not problematic for the folks who believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which states that Scripture alone is the only infallible spiritual standard for the Christian church to use.

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

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

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

          How can we submit to leaders in God's church, if we do not have an established standard to judge the validity of their claims?

          Even granting the premise that the Bible does not tell us to adhere to the Scriptures alone to learn the Faith of Jesus Christ, the principle of Sola Scriptura would still kick in by default because Scripture does not tell us to adhere to any other rule of faith as a means of testing doctrine. The only thing that the Bible calls "God-breathed" is itself (2 Timothy 3:16).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Since De Maria is not the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, his charge of me making a straw man argument has been refuted.

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

          Nobody denies that the New Testament teachings (the Resurrection of Jesus Christ) were originally taught orally, but much of the redemptive work of Christ was already prefigured in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53). None of what De Maria has been saying is problematic for the folks who believe in the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which states that Scripture alone is the only infallible spiritual standard for the Christian church to use. The Gospel in its entirety has been accurately preserved and recorded into the New Testament documents (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The problem here is that Roman Catholics are unable to come up with a spiritual standard that judges the validity of "Sacred Tradition," apart from the say-so of the pope, which is circular reasoning.

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

          The charge of Sola Scriptura being circular reasoning is false, and has already been addressed in this article:

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

          The ultimate argument offered by the Roman Catholic Church is that we must accept the canon of Scripture because "she said so." But how can we even know that the Roman Catholic Church (or its interpretations of Scripture) are infallible (apart from the occupation of circular reasoning)?

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

In reality, De Maria is simply making a circular argument off the text of Matthew 16:18 by resorting to the Roman Catholic Church's interpretation of the scriptural text. De Maria's arguments against Sola Scriptura is: "The Bible and Tradition are true because the infallible Church defined them as such, and the Roman Catholic Church is infallible because the Bible and Tradition has told us so." How can we know which oral traditions are of divine inspiration?

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

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

          Why should we bother with submitting to the "Holy See" when there are so many folks like De Maria who oftentimes invest time into didactically lecturing us on the official Church doctrine? How can De Maria prejudge me as being ungrateful?

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

          De Maria's arguments fall short of anything but proof. There is no way for the Papacy to circumvent the charge of circularity in its reasoning processes.

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

          The Roman Catholic Church claims that only it can correctly interpret the Bible. In other words, the Church's interpretations of Scripture are correct because it declares them to be such. How inconsistent is that, especially when we are forbidden from examining the truthfulness of that particular religious organization's claims for ourselves!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Interaction With The Synoptic Problem

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

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Praying To Departed Saints Is Unbiblical

  • Introduction: 
          -The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, and certain Lutherans and Anglicans believe that we can pray to and receive help from certain saints (and even angels) in heaven. In other words, these professing Christians maintain that God has appointed a heavenly figure to offer assistance for pretty much every aspect of human life.
  • A Practice That Is Not Consistent With The Biblical Pattern Of Prayer:
          -Throughout Scripture, there are literally dozens of references to prayer (Matthew 6:6-14; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 11:1-4; John 14:14; John 17; Psalm 25; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; 1 Kings 8; Colossians 3:16-17; Acts 7:51-58; James 1:5-6; Romans 10:1; 15:30; etc.), and all were directed to Him alone. Furthermore, the theme of the Bible is trusting in God alone (Matthew 6:25-34; Jeremiah 33:3; Isaiah 48:17-18; Psalm 23; 50:15; 71:1; 91:15; Joshua 1:1-6; Ephesians 5:19-20; John 16:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; etc.). We have no examples in the Bible of calling on entities other than God, with the exception being pagans. We never see God approving of the practice of praying to departed saints. Instead, we are told that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 24:4; Nahum 1:2). He will tolerate no idolatry. If we are going to be consistent with the principles of Scripture (which we ought to be), then we are forced to conclude that all prayer and religious devotion belongs to God alone.
  • Can Believers In Heaven Really Hear Us?:
          -It is impossible for finite beings with inherently limited abilities to simultaneously hear the requests of every person around the world in different languages. Only deity can perform such tasks. If saints are able to answer our prayers, then the uniqueness of God has been compromised. Notice that in Scripture, all occasions involving two-way communication between or among beings from heaven (with the exception, or course, being God) and earth required the creations to be in the same realm (earth on earth communication), rather than being in two separate realms (heaven to earth contact is never found in Scripture for mere finite beings). Consider the examples of the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration. This is perhaps the clearest indication that saints who are in heaven are incapable of accepting prayers from earth.
  • Unnecessary Assistance:
          -We do not need any support from Mary and the saints in heaven because Jesus Christ always intercedes for our prayer requests and is able to rescue sinners from eternal condemnation in hell (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). His intercession alone is sufficient. Moreover, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength that we need during our times of spiritual weakness and also prays on our behalf (Romans 8:26). We can approach God with "boldness" and "confidence" as a result of our trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16). To suggest that Mary and the saints can be recipients of prayer requests detracts from the sufficiency of Christ's work. Only God is omnipotent and omnipresent. Only He knows all of the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (1 Kings 8:37-39; 2 Chronicles 6:30). Consequently, praying to the saints in heaven to grant our prayer requests is pointless because they do not have the same attributes that God has.
  • Why The Charge That Roman Catholics Are Guilty Of Necromancy Is Correct:
          -The Church of Rome is known for its continuous engagement with the souls of people who died in centuries past. Roman Catholic Churches across the globe boldly display dressed up corpses in clear glass cases. In fact, they even go as far as to publicly display individual organs and bones in the same manner. This has been done with pride by the leadership of Roman Catholicism. Annually, millions of Catholics go to behold various corpses, some of which have been called "incorruptible saints." Some bow down before these cadavers, kiss on them, pray to them, and give them many other forms of adoration. There are Catholic churches that display thousands of human remains. Such activity clearly resembles worship and has been found in the occult. However, God expressly commanded the Jews to not have any sort of contact with spirits who have departed into the supernatural realm (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 26:13-14 Leviticus 19:31; 20:26-27; 1 Samuel 28:6-11; 1 Chronicles 10:9-14; Isaiah 8:19; 19:1-4). What Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox prayers to saints have in common with pagan prayers to the deceased is this: personal communication. That is condemned in the Law. This is the underlying reason that we correctly lay the charge that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox are guilty of necromancy. There are no prayers for, to, or through the dead.

The Principle Reason We Cannot Accept Roman Catholic Mariology

"...the Roman Catholic doctrine on Mary has gone well beyond Scripture. But even the great Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas affirmed that "only the canonical Scriptures are normative for faith" (Commentary on John 21, lect. 6). In going beyond Scripture in their teachings about Mary, Roman Catholics have threatened Scripture as the sole authority for the faith. This is one reason why those dedicated to the principle of Sola Scriptura cannot avoid addressing the issue."

Dr. Norman Geisler's forward to the book titled The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary by Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples

Friday, September 1, 2017

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

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

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

        Although George Orwell wrote his book 1984 back in the year 1949, the nightmarish vision of our future forewarned by the novel has become more realistic and probable throughout the centuries. Today, any honest observer can readily see that most people in America have been brainwashed by the falsified news stories that the press allows to circulate in our media. Consequently, many people have a terribly misguided understanding of what is really taking place in our world. The issues that people really need to be dealing with are the inconceivably high death tolls from religious persecution, wars, malnutrition because of inadequate food supply, and the global pollution from heartless industries, not celebrities who are in reality just ordinary people who want to make us financially and intellectually bankrupt. Additionally, technology has enabled our governments to disenfranchise our right to privacy though our computers, television sets, and our cell phones. The development of moral relativism in the secular world is another sure sign of the depravity of the human heart. We now live in a society that denies the existence of absolute truths. Indeed, many have chosen to make decisions on the basis of feelings, not in accordance to facts and reason. The spread of ideologies has led up to the redefining of concepts such as gender, marriage, life, rights, tolerance, happiness, and what constitutes freedom. There are even people who are foolish enough to deny well documented facts of history such as the Holocaust. Many people do not even have solid moral worldviews for the simple reason that they have knowingly excluded the biblical principles from their lives. Our elementary schools, colleges, and universities teach our students how to think, rather than encourage people to develop critical thinking skills. Thus, the notion of independent thinking has already become unpopular and scare. The technological development of thermonuclear warfare during the time period of World War Two and the advanced nuclear warfare that is now available to our militaries is so powerful that mankind could end up being exterminated in short periods of time.

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

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