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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Is The Relationship Between Doubt And Certainty?

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

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

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

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

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

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."

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. 

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 Mormons could cite Hebrews 13:7 in telling us to submit to their leadership. 

          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." (James Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 72)

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

          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 (for example, the resurrection) were originally taught orally, but aspects of the redemptive work of Christ were already prefigured in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53). The Gospel in its entirety has been accurately preserved and recorded into the New Testament 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 it said so. But how can we even know that the Roman Catholic Church (or its interpretations of Scripture) are infallible (apart from the occupation of circular reasoning)?

          "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 that scriptural text. How can we know which oral traditions are of divine inspiration?

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

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

          Why should we bother with submitting to the "Holy See" when there are so many folks like De Maria who invest time into didactically lecturing us on the official Church doctrine? How can he 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 itself is an instance of begging the question.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Interaction With The Synoptic Problem

  • Why Do The Four Gospels Contain Differences?:
          -The reasons for the differences between the gospel accounts is not that they disapproved of each other's content. Rather, they were writing with a slightly different theological emphasis or intended audience. Matthew, for example, wrote mostly to Jews. Luke is more accessible to Gentiles. There were differences in reporting, which is only natural for reporters as they have biases and different perspectives. There were different points of emphasis. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to include certain content. John himself wrote, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). The point is that Jesus Christ did many things 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 enabled heavenly figures to intercede on our behalf before God in heaven and offer assistance for nearly every aspect of human life.
  • A Practice That Is Not Consistent With The Biblical Pattern Of Prayer:
          -Throughout Scripture, there are literally dozens of references to prayer (Matthew 6:6-14; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 11:1-4; John 14:14; John 17; Psalm 25; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; 1 Kings 8; Colossians 3:16-17; Acts 7:51-58; James 1:5-6; Romans 10:1; 15:30; etc.), and all were directed to Him alone. Furthermore, the theme of the Bible is trusting in God alone (Matthew 6:25-34; Jeremiah 33:3; Isaiah 48:17-18; Psalm 23; 50:15; 71:1; 91:15; Joshua 1:1-6; Ephesians 5:19-20; John 16:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; etc.). We have no examples in the Bible of calling on entities other than God, with the exception being pagans. We never see God approving of the practice of praying to departed saints. Instead, we are told that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 24:4; Nahum 1:2). He will tolerate no idolatry. If we are going to be consistent with the principles of Scripture (which we ought to be), then we are forced to conclude that all prayer and religious devotion belongs to God alone.
  • Can Believers In Heaven Really Hear Us?:
          -It is impossible for finite beings with inherently limited abilities to simultaneously hear the requests of every person around the world in different languages. Only deity can perform such tasks. If saints are able to answer our prayers, then the uniqueness of God has been compromised and the self-sufficiency of Christ's work diminished. Notice that in Scripture, all occasions involving two-way communication between or among beings from heaven (with the exception, or course, being God) and earth required the creations to be in the same realm (earth on earth communication), rather than being in two separate realms (heaven to earth contact is never found in Scripture for mere finite beings). Consider the examples of the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration. This is perhaps the clearest indication from Scripture that saints who are in heaven are incapable of receiving prayers from earth.
  • Unnecessary Assistance:
          -We do not need any support from Mary and the saints in heaven because Jesus Christ always intercedes for our prayer requests and is able to rescue sinners from eternal condemnation in hell (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). His intercession alone is sufficient. Moreover, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength that we need during our times of spiritual weakness and also intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26). We can approach God with "boldness" and "confidence" as a result of our trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16). Only God knows all of the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (1 Kings 8:37-39; 2 Chronicles 6:30). Consequently, praying to saints in heaven to grant our prayer requests is pointless because they do not have the same abilities that God has.
  • Why The Charge That Roman Catholics Are Guilty Of Necromancy Is Correct:
          -The Church of Rome is known for its continuous engagement with the souls of people who died in centuries past. Roman Catholic Churches across the globe boldly display dressed up corpses in clear glass cases. In fact, they even go as far as to publicly display individual organs and bones in the same manner. This has been done with pride by the leadership of Roman Catholicism. Annually, millions of Catholics go to behold various corpses, some of which have been called "incorruptible saints." Some bow down before these cadavers, kiss on them, pray to them, and give them many other forms of adoration. There are Catholic churches that display thousands of human remains. Such activity clearly resembles worship and has been found in the occult. However, God expressly commanded the Jews to not have any sort of contact with spirits who have departed into the supernatural realm (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 26:13-14 Leviticus 19:31; 20:26-27; Isaiah 8:19; 19:1-4). The Prophet Samuel was not exactly pleased with Saul when he managed to get into contact with him after his physical death (1 Samuel 28:6-11; 1 Chronicles 10:9-14). What Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox prayers to saints have in common with pagan prayers to the deceased is this: personal communication. That is condemned in the Law. This is the underlying reason that we correctly lay the charge that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches are guilty of necromancy. There are no prayers for, to, or through the dead.

Friday, September 1, 2017

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

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

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

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