Saturday, September 30, 2017

Thought-Provoking Quote From Sherlock Holmes

  • This saying about remaining unbiased when searching for truth is extremely valuable, especially when applied to situational contexts where atheists preposterously try to deny the validity of miracles or explain away any miraculous occurrences:
          -“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British Author)

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Theological 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 practicing sin or 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, and 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.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:5 Offers No Scriptural 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:

            "[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."
  • 1 John 2:19 And 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

The Importance Of Discernment

        In today's world, Christians can easily find themselves overwhelmed by a forest of different ideological mindsets that condemn biblical morals, values, and principles. As a matter of fact, we can readily see the uprising of perverse concepts through the television programs propagated by the media, the development of new world religions, and the moral relativism that has been introduced into our educational system. These things can all prove to be detrimental to the growth of Christianity, if nobody is willing or able to take a stand for the Cause of Christ. It is therefore vital for us to establish for ourselves a solidly biblical worldview so that we can correctly understand what is taking place around us. We need to learn discernment because this process is the foundation for all morality, and doing what is most pleasing to God. For the Scripture says, "let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" (Proverbs 1:5).

        What is discernment, and how can implementing this procedure affect our daily lives? Firstly, it should be noted that discernment is not merely differentiating between the boundaries of right and wrong. It does not only involve contrasting between righteousness and unrighteousness. Though discernment involves reproving error, this process also formulates distinctions between right and almost right. Correct discernment helps us to recognize the distinctions among good, better, and best. These categories are clearly not the same, and we should thereby not be allowing ourselves to perceive them as being synonymous. The point is, being almost right is not good enough, for that still allows room for making improvements in our daily decisions. We should always strive to act in the godliest manner as possible in all situations. Ultimately, the scope of discernment is to glorify God through speaking, acting, and thinking in accordance to His will. It is about seeking God, rather than comparing ourselves to other fallible men who bear little or no resemblance of His character.

         Not only does discernment point us in the right direction in the maze of life, but the process also makes us view things for the way that they really are. Reality is not shaped in accordance to how we want things to be. Neither does discernment operate on blind trust, since it works to obtain certainty. And we need to doubt in order to obtain certainty. The process of discernment investigates all the presented options in any given scenario by eliminating all other possible choices to reach a final verdict on which choice is morally best for us to make. It points to what God wants for us. He is a God of love, hope, peace, mercy, truth, and righteousness. He works in our best interests. Therefore, He gave us the gift of reason so that we could properly exercise discernment and recognize what paths we should choose to take in life. At this point, it needs to be said that the ability to discern increases as the Christian matures spiritually (Hebrews 5:13-14). Furthermore, we learn to discern God's will for us through continual biblical study and prayer. From the aforementioned statements, it follows that we should be using our available powers of discernment to assist those who are vulnerable, naive, or gullible. The process of discernment should be used to enrich the seeds of faith in the psychological soils of other people. It should be used to fulfill our obligation of knowing, loving, and serving God.

         Now that the concept of making the most ethical judgments possible has been expounded in depth, it is appropriate to discuss how utilizing principles of discernment can positively impact our lives. In order to discern what God wills for us, we need to fully examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). We also need to reject all spirits that come to us that do not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-4). If we keep God's commandments through holding fast by faith in what He has accomplished for us, then we can rest assured that He will stand with us through our quandaries. He will build us up by indwelling in us the presence of the Holy Spirit. He will even use us as instruments to fulfill His goals here on earth. If we learn to discern correctly, then everything else in life will fall into place. Everything will have a purpose. Everything will have light. Everything will have intrinsic value. But we need to turn from our earthly ways before we can even think of learning how to correctly discern, for discernment is a gift from God. Trusting in God is the key to unlocking the door of peace "that transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Discernment is a gift from God to aid us in sanctification, that is, in the lifelong process of us becoming more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

         The ultimate aim of discernment is to glorify God through the transformation of our character to be holy as He is holy. Truth is like a ring; once we wield it, our paths will become illuminated by the Holy Spirit. We must learn to make the best moral choices as possible by weighing the holiness of our decisions to the clear and pure fountain of the Word which springs forth from the Holy Spirit of God. If there was no such thing as the application of ethical judgement of what takes place within our minds or anything externally, then the notion of a peaceful world would also be nonexistent. Discernment is the foundation for all virtue. Without it, everything would be in an incessant state of hopeless anarchy. Our purpose in this life is to know, love, and serve God with the intention of spending eternity with Him in the afterlife. We should be pleasing to Him. So Christians actually do need to make learning discernment a top priority in their lives.

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.


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

Candida Moss' Anti-Christian Bias

"Despite the author’s considerable erudition, this is a deeply flawed book, a work of revisionist history. One might judge that conservative Christians in the West have sometimes overplayed the persecution card, but they have not created instances of cultural hostility out of whole cloth, and they certainly did not create the “Age of the Martyrs” out of thin air. More important, Moss largely overlooks modern Christianity in the two-thirds world, especially in the Middle East and in Communist states. Here we find not just cultural insensitivity but old-fashioned persecution: arrests, beatings, and decapitations. Exactly one week after the publication of Moss’s book, another book came out: Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians , authored by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea. They document persecution in about forty different countries. Moss’s opening story about the bombing of the Coptic Church in Alexandria is part of that reality, but the fact that Moss uses this story to launch a criticism, in effect, of the rhetoric of the Coptic victims rather than the actions of the jihadist perpetrators is grotesque."

The World As Will And Idea

"The world is my idea," is a truth valid for every living creature, though only man can consciously contemplate it. In doing so he attains philosophical wisdom. No truth is more absolutely certain than that all that exists for knowledge, and therefore this whole world, is only object in relation to subject, perception of a perceiver, in a word, idea. The world is idea.

This truth is by no means new; it lay by implication in the reflections of Descartes; but Berkeley first distinctly enunciated it; while Kant erred by ignoring it. So ancient is it that it was the fundamental principle of the Indian Vedanta, as Sir William Jones points out. In one aspect the world is idea; in the other aspect, the world is will.

That which knows all things and is known by none is the subject; and for this subject all exists. But the world as idea consists of two essential and inseparable halves. One half is the object, whose form consists of time and space, and through these of multiplicity; but the other half is the subject, lying not in space and time, for it subsists whole and undivided in every reflecting being. Thus any single individual endowed with the faculty of perception of the object, constitutes the whole world of idea as completely as the millions in existence; but let this single individual vanish, and the whole world as idea would disappear. Each of these halves possesses meaning and existence only in and through the other, appearing with and vanishing with it. Where the object begins the subject ends. One of Kant's great merits is that he discovered that the essential and universal forms of all objects--space, time, causality--lie _a priori_ in our consciousness, for they may be discovered and fully known from a consideration of the subject, without any knowledge of the object.

Ideas of perception are distinct from abstract ideas. The former comprehend the whole world of experience; the latter are concepts, and are possessed by man alone amongst all creatures on earth; and the capacity for these, distinguishing him from the lower animals, is called reason.

Time and space can each be mentally presented separately from matter, but matter cannot be thought of apart from time and space. The combination of time and space in connection with matter constitutes action, that is, causation. The law of causation arises from change, that is from the fact that at the same part of space there is now one thing and then another, and this succession must be the result of some law of causality, seeing that there must be a determined part of space and a determined part of space for the change. Causality thus combines space with time.

Much vain controversy has arisen concerning the reality of the external universe, owing to the fallacious notion that because perception arises through the knowledge of causality, the relation of subject and object is that of cause and effect. For this relation only subsists between objects, that is between the immediate object and objects known indirectly. The object always pre-supposes the subject, and so there can be between those two no relation of reason and consequent. Therefore the controversy between realistic dogmatism and doctrinal scepticism is foolish. The former seeks to separate object and idea as cause and effect, whereas these two are really one; the latter supposes that in the idea we have only the effect, never the cause, and never know the real being, but merely its action. The correction of both these fallacies is the same, that object and idea are identical.

One of the most pressing of questions is, how certainty is to be reached, how judgments are to be established, and wherein knowledge and science consist. Reason is feminine in nature; it can only give after it has received. Of Itself it possesses only the empty forms of its operation. Knowledge is the result of reason, so that we cannot accurately say that the lower animals know anything, but only that they apprehend through the faculty of perception.

The greatest value of knowledge is that it can be communicated and retained. This makes it inestimably important for practice. Rational or abstract knowledge is that knowledge which is peculiar to the reason as distinguished from the understanding. The use of reason is that it substitutes abstract concepts for ideas of perception, and adopts them as the guide of action.

The many-sided view of life which man, as distinguished from the lower animals, possesses through reason, makes him stand to them as the captain, equipped with chart, compass and quadrant, and with a knowledge of navigation of the ocean, stands to the ignorant sailors under his command.

Man lives two lives. Besides his life in the concrete is his life in the abstract. In the former he struggles, suffers, and dies as do the mere animal creatures. But in the abstract he quietly reflects on the plan of the universe as does a captain of a ship on the chart. He becomes in this abstract life of calm reasoning a deliberate observer of those elements which previously moved and agitated his emotions. Withdrawing into this serene contemplation he is like an actor who has played a part on the stage and then withdraws and as one of the audience quietly looks on at other actors energetically performing.

The result of this double life is that human serenity which furnishes so vivid a contrast to the lack of reason in the brutes. Reason has won to a wonderful extent the mastery over the animal nature. The climacteric stage of the mere exercise of reason is displayed in Stoicism, an ethical system which aims primarily not at virtue but at happiness, although this theory inculcates that happiness can be attained only through "ataraxia" (inward quietness or peace of mind), while this can only be gained by virtue. In other words, Zeno, the founder of the Stoic theory, sought to lift man up above the reach of pain and misery. But this use of pure reason involves a painful paradox, seeing that for an ultimate way of escape Stoicism is constrained to prescribe suicide. When compared with the Stoic, how different appear the holy conquerors of the world in Christianity, that sublime form of life which presents to us a picture wherein we see blended perfect virtue and supreme suffering.

II.--The World as Will

We are compelled to further inquiry, because we cannot be satisfied with knowing that we have ideas, and that these are associated with certain laws, the general expression of which is the principle of sufficient reason. We wish to know the significance of our ideas. We ask whether this world is nothing more than a mere idea, not worthy of our notice if it is to pass by us like an empty dream or an airy vision, or whether it is something more substantial.

We can surely never arrive at the nature of things from without. No matter how assiduous our researches may be, we can never reach anything beyond images and names. We resemble a man going round a castle seeking vainly for an entrance and sometimes sketching the façades. And yet this is the method followed by all philosophers before me.

The truth about man is that he is not a pure knowing subject, not a winged cherub without a material body, contemplating the world from without. For he is himself rooted in that world. That is to say, he finds himself in the world as an _individual_ whose knowledge, which is the essential basis of the whole world as idea, is yet ever communicated through the medium of the body, whose sensations are the starting point of the understanding of that world. His body is for him an idea like every other idea, an object among objects. He only knows its actions as he knows the changes in all other objects, and but for one aid to his understanding of himself he would find this idea and object as strange and incomprehensible as all others. That aid is _will_, which alone furnishes the key to the riddle of himself, solves the problem of his own existence, reveals to him the inner structure and significance of his being, his action, and his movements.

The body is the immediate object of will; it may be called the _objectivity of will_. Every true act of will is also instantly a visible act of the body, and every impression on the body is also at once an impression on the will. When it is opposed to the will it is called pain, and when consonant with the will it is called pleasure. The essential identity of body and will is shown by the fact that every violent movement of the will, that is to say, every emotion, directly agitates the body and interferes with its vital functions. So we may legitimately say, My body is the objectivity of my will.

It is simply owing to this special relation to one body that the knowing subject is an individual. Our knowing, being bound to individuality, necessitates that each of us can only be one, and yet each of us can know all. Hence arises the need for philosophy. The double knowledge which each of us possesses of his own body is the key to the nature of every phenomenon in the world. Nothing is either known to us or thinkable by us except will and idea. If we examine the reality of the body and its actions, we discover nothing beyond the fact that it is an idea, except the will. With this double discovery reality is exhausted.

We can ascribe no other kind of reality to the material world. If we maintain that it is something more than merely our idea, we must say that in its inmost nature it is that which we discover in ourselves as _will_. But the acts of will have always a ground or reason outside themselves in motives, which, however, never determine more than how we shall act at any given time or place under any given conditions or circumstances. The will must have some manifestation, and the body is that manifestation. By the movements of the body the will becomes visible, and thus the body may be said to be the _objectification of the will_. The perfect adaptation of the human and animal body to the human and animal will resembles, though it far exceeds, the correspondence between an instrument and its maker.

III.--The World as Idea. Second Aspect

We have looked at the world as idea, object for a subject, and next at the world as will. All students of Plato know that the different grades of objectification of will which are manifested in countless individuals, and exist as their unrealized types or as the eternal forms of things, are the Platonic Ideas. Thus these various grades are related to individual things as their eternal forms or prototypes.

Thus the world in which we live is in its whole nature through and through _will_, and at the same time through and through _idea_. This idea always pre-supposes a form, object and subject. If we take away this form and ask what then remains, the answer must be that this can be nothing but _will_, which, properly speaking, is the _thing in itself_. Every human being discovers that he himself is this will, and that the world exists only for him does so in relation to his consciousness. Thus each human being is himself in a double aspect the whole world, the microcosm. And that which he realizes as his own real being exhausts the being of the whole world, the macrocosm. So, like man, the world is through and through _will_, and through and through _idea_.

Plato would say that an animal has no true being, but merely an apparent being, a constant becoming. The only true being is the Idea which embodies itself in that animal. That is to say, the Idea of the animal alone has true being, and is the object of real knowledge. Kant, with his theory of "the thing-in-itself" as the only reality, would say that the animal is only a phenomenon in time, space, and causality, which are conditions of our perception, not the thing-in-itself. So the individual as we see it at this particular moment will pass away, without any possibility of our knowing the thing-in-itself, for the knowledge of that is beyond our faculties, and would require another kind of knowledge than that which is possible for us through our understanding.

Thus do these two greatest philosophers of the West differ. The thing-in-itself must, according to Kant, be free from all forms associated with knowing. On the contrary, the Platonic idea is necessarily object, something known and thus different from the thing-in-itself, which cannot be apprehended. Yet Kant and Plato tend to agree, because the thing-in-itself is, after all, that which lays aside all the subordinate forms of phenomena, and has retained the first and most universal form, that of the idea in general, the form of being object for a subject. Plato attributes actual being only to the Ideas, and concedes only an illusive, dream-like existence to things in space and time, the real world for the individual.

IV.--The World as Will. Second Aspect

The last and most serious part of our consideration relates to human action and is of universal importance. Human nature tends to relate everything else to action. The world as idea is the perfect mirror of the will, in which it recognizes itself in graduating scales of distinctness and completeness. The highest degree of this consciousness is man, whose nature only completely expresses itself in the whole connected series of his actions.

Will is the thing-in-itself, the essence of the world. Life is only the mirror of the will. Life accompanies the will as the shadow the body. If will exists, so will life. So long as we are actuated by the will to live, we need have no fear of ceasing to live, even in the presence of death. True, we see the individual born and passing away; but the individual is merely phenomenal. Neither the will, nor the subject of cognition, is at all affected by birth or death.

It is not the individual, but only the species, that Nature cares for. She provides for the species with boundless prodigality through the incalculable profusion of seed and the great strength of fructification. She is ever ready to let the individual fall when it had served its end of perpetuating the species. Thus does Nature artlessly express the great truth that only the Ideas, not the individuals, have actual reality and are complete objectivity of the will.

Man is Nature himself, but Nature is only the objectified will to live. So the man who has comprehended this point of view may well console himself when contemplating death for himself or his friends, by turning his eyes to the immortal life of Nature, which he himself is. And thus we see that birth and death both really belong to life and that they take part in that constant mutation of matter which is consistent with the permanence of the species, notwithstanding the transitoriness of the individual.

V.--The Will as Related to Time

Above all, we must not forget that the form of the phenomenon of the will, the form of life in reality, is really only the _present_, not the future nor the past. No man ever lived in the past, no man will live in the future. The present is the sole form of life in sure possession. The present exists always, together with its content, and both are fixed like the rainbow on the waterfall.

Now all object is the will so far as it has become idea, and the subject is the necessary correlative of the object. But real objects are in the present only. So nothing but conceptions and fancies are included in the past, while the present is the essential form of the phenomenon of the will, and inseparable from it. The present alone is perpetual and immovable. The fountain and support of it is the will to live, or the thing-in-itself, which we are.

Life is certain to the will, and the present is certain to life. Time is like a perpetually revolving globe. The hemisphere which is sinking is like the past, that which is rising is like the future, while the indivisible point at the top is like the actionless present. Or, time is like a running river and the present is a rock on which it breaks but which it cannot remove with itself. Therefore we are not concerned to investigate the past antecedent to life, nor to speculate on the future subsequent to death. We should simply seek to know the present, that being the sole form in which the will manifests itself. Therefore, if we are satisfied with life as it is, we may confidently regard it as endless and banish the fear of death as illusive. Our spirit is of a totally indestructible nature, and its energy endures from eternity to eternity. It is like the sun, which seems to set only to our earthly eyes, but which, in reality, never sets, but shines on unceasingly.

The problem of the freedom of the will is solved by the considerations which have been thus outlined. Since the will is not phenomenon, is not idea or object, but thing-in-itself, is not determined as a consequent through any reason, and knows no necessity, therefore it is _free_. But the person is never free, although he is the phenomenon of a free will, for this indisputable reason, that he is already the determined phenomenon of the free volition of this will, and is constrained to embody the direction of that volition in a multiplicity of actions.

Repentance never results from a change of will, for this is impossible, but from a change of knowledge. The essential in what I have willed I must continue to will, for I am identical with this will which lies outside time and change. Therefore I cannot repent of what I have willed, though I can repent of what I have done; because, constrained by false notions, I was led to do what did not accord with my will. Repentance is simply the discovery of this fuller and more correct knowledge.

The World's Greatest Books (Philosophy and Economics), Vol. XIV, p. 99-108

Saturday, September 16, 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). 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). 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). Therefore, 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 or plastic 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 is often 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 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.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Biblical Evidence For 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)
  • Our Lord 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."

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

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

The Translator Notes Of The Original King James Version Refute King James Onlyism

  • Introduction:
          -Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to reveal that the original translators of the King James Version in 1611 did not have the same mindset as do the modern King James only advocates. Consider the following excerpts from the Translator to the Reader or preface of this translation.
  • The Original King James Bible Translators Believed That It Was Wise To Occupy A Variety Of Different Translations:
              -“For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: [S. Aug. 2. de doctr. Christian. cap. 14.] so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded.”
    • The Translators Of The King James Version Believed That Even The Poorest Translation Was The Word Of God:
              -“we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession...containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King's speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King's speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere."
    • The King James Version Translators Only Believed In The Divine Inspiration Of The Original Biblical Manuscripts, Not In Their Own Work:
              -"The original there being from heaven, not from the earth, the author’s being God, not man, the editor, the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the apostles."
    • The King James Version Translators Did Not Condemn Having Other Bible Translations And Also Wanted Them To Be Up To Date:
               -"Do we condemn the ancient?… We are so far from condemning any of their labors, that translated before us, either in this land or beyond the sea. We acknowledge them to have been raised up of God for the building and furnishing of His church."
               -"But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue?"
    • The Original King James Version Translators Did Not Believe That Having Different Translations Of The Bible Negatively Impacted Doctrine:
               -"It hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment."

    Papal Infallibility Refuted

    • Defining Papal Infallibility:
              -The Church of Rome teaches that the Pope cannot pronounce doctrinal error when making official declarations from his chair in matters pertinent to faith and morals ("ex-cathedra"). In other words, Roman Catholicism maintains that the head Roman bishop cannot error when speaking in his fullest capacity, and not as a mere private theologian. Also, it is believed that the entire body of legitimate Roman Catholic bishops, who constitute the teaching office commonly known as the "Magisterium," cannot error when they unanimously agree on a doctrine formally defined by the their leader. In short, this is what knowledgeable Roman Catholics mean when they speak of their church hierarchy as being infallible.
    • Roman Catholic Scholars Frank K. Flinn And J. Gordon Melton Say That Many In The Church Of Rome Stood In Opposition To The Notion Of Papal Infallibility In 1870:
              -"In protest, 55 council members left Rome the day before the final vote. Amid widespread disagreement and protest over the council, those now known as old Catholics separated from communion with Rome." (Encyclopedia of Catholicism, p. 621)
    • Papal Infallibility Is A False Doctrine Of Roman Catholicism Because History Has Shown Us That Popes Can Officially Teach Heresy:
              -If the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility is historical, then how could the Sixth Ecumenical Council officially anathematize Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) for enforcing the heresy of Monotheletism (Christ had no human will) on the entire Christian church (his heretical proclamation began with, "We confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ...”)?
    • Roman Catholic Tradition Cannot Simply Be Deemed Infallible Because It Continually Evolves:
              -Though Catholics do not want to hear this, it is a proven fact of history that the Church of Rome has placed into effect changeable, and even contradictory, church traditions. Examples would include, but are not limited to, Pope Gelasius denying the validity of the Mary's bodily assumption and upholding the notion that no one can be saved outside the Roman Catholic Church. In modern times, however, Rome has affirmed the exact opposite of the previously listed church traditions. In fact, Rome has referred to Protestants as "Separated Brethren." Recently decreed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church would include the immaculate conception of Mary (1854) and the assumption of Mary (1950).
    • There Inevitably Exists Circular Reasoning In The Operational Processes Of The Roman Catholic Hierarchy:
              -How can a Roman Catholic know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Church of Rome is infallible, and that it is the only true church which was originally established by our Lord Jesus Christ? How can one come to the conclusion that Rome's interpretation of Scripture is always correct? From the Catholic perspective, people must submit themselves to the authority claims of their church by resorting to the Catholic hierarchy's interpretations of Scripture and seeking its approval. In other words, the Church of Rome argues its validity by appealing to its own claims to having been sanctioned by God to govern Christianity. Thus, the pope wields the gift of infallibility through the power of the Holy Spirit "because he said so." Church historian Bruce Shelley once noted, "Up to the time of Constantine history offers no conclusive evidence that the bishop of Rome exercised jurisdiction outside of Rome. Honor, yes; jurisdiction, no." (Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, p. 151)

    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

    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 turning to Him for answers to all of the difficult questions in life. 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). Being a Christian means departing from the ways of iniquity so as to serve God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). It involves denying oneself. Biblically defined Christians are people who have chosen to pick up their crosses and follow Christ through faith.

              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 anything in this world. No sin is worth going to hell 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 relationship with God. 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

    Commentary On Psalms 10:5

    His ways are always grievous - His paths; his manner of life; his conduct toward God; his dealings with men. The word rendered “are grievious,” יחילוּ yāchiylû - has been variously rendered. The Latin Vulgate renders it, “His ways are defiled.” So the Septuagint. Coverdale renders it, “His ways are always filthy.” Prof. Alexander, “His ways are firm.” So DeWette, “Es gelingen seine Wege.” Horsley, “His ways are confident.” This variety in the interpretation arises from the ambiguity of the original word - חול chûl The meaning of this word, as given by Genesius, is to turn round, to twist, to whirl; and hence:

    (1) to dance;

    (2) to be whirled, or twisted upon anything;

    (3) to twist oneself with pain, or to be in pain;

    (4) to bear or bring forth;

    (5) to tremble, to quake;

    (6) to be strong or stable, as things twisted are.

    Hence, he translates this passage, “his ways are firm, or stable, that is, all his affairs prosper.” But it seems to me plain that this is not the idea in the mind of the psalmist. He is not dwelling on the prosperity of the wicked, or on the result of his conduct, but on his character. In the previous verses he had stated some of the traits in his character, and the subsequent verses continue the description; hence, it is natural that we should expect to find some special feature of his character referred to here, and not that there should be an allusion to the stability of his affairs. It seems to me, therefore, that the exact idea here is, that his ways, or his modes of feeling and conduct were always perverse and forced, and hard; that there was always something tortuous and unnatural about him; that he was not straightforward and honest; that he did not see things as they are, and did not act in a plain and upright manner.

    Thy judgments - Thy laws; or, the principles of thy govermnent.

    Are far above out of his sight - They are out of the range of his vision. He does not see them. His thoughts grovel on the earth, and he is never elevated in his views so as to see the great principles of truth.

    As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them - He treats them with contempt and scorn, as if he had no fear of them, or as if he were entirely confident of his own ability to overcome them. This is an illustration of his pride and self-confidence, for it is the characteristic of the proud and self-confident to boast in this manner. The word rendered “puffeth” means to breathe, to blow; and the idea here is, that he acted as though he could sweep them away with a breath.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 10:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    Monday, September 4, 2017

    Debunking De Maria On Sola Scriptura

    • Introduction: 
              -Recently, I had posted a comment on a Roman Catholic blog, which is administered by a lay apologist who goes by the name of "De Maria", providing a myriad of biblical evidences for the doctrine of the Trinity. Well, his article was about defending the same doctrine, but strictly from a Catholic standpoint. And De Maria's response to my first post was a direct attack on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which is going to be dealt with in this article. This critique of De Maria's arguments is starting at my third comment (not the very beginning) on his blog, which is as follows:

              "Hi De Maria,

              Although I do not at this moment want to go off on a tangent regarding whether the Roman Papacy is of divine institution, I should still mention that none of the scriptural texts that you have cited above support your attempts to appendage extra-biblical oral tradition to the Bible. In other words, you have been constructing a case for the infallible authority of the Roman Catholic Church by practicing mere eisegesis. Neither can we submit to a "three-legged stool" that is full of internal contradictions.

               The teachings of Scripture and apostolic tradition are in reality mirror reflections of each other. Thus, the two are meant to be complimentary in nature, not supplementary. It is from the pages of Divine Scripture that we develop church customs, traditions, and doctrine (i.e. Trinity). It is from the pages of Scripture that the teachers of the church define doctrine and are tested, not from the consensus of other uninspired men who have fleshly, puffed-up minds. It is Scripture that is meant to serve as the infallible spiritual standard of authority for God's church, not man-made traditions.

                Now, it is impossible for you to come up with a process by which you can prove the validity of your inflated claims about Catholic tradition, apart from the fallacious circular reasoning committed by the leaders of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. In other words, all arguments that you use from interpreting Scripture or appealing to tradition are done on the basis that "your Church has declared them to be valid", and your church is "infallible" because she has interpreted Scripture and appealed to the same tradition as a means of self-support. In short, your entire argument for the authority claims of the Roman Catholic Church is that it is true "because it said so".

                In conclusion, you have not at all interacted with any of my claims, but have only repeatedly restated what you believe to be true about your own church (as though that is really evidence). You most certainly are entitled to hold your own opinions."

    • My Responses (Pink) To The Counterarguments of De Maria (Blue):
             "...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)."

              Okay, 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 you are unable to come up with a spiritual standard that judges the validity of "Sacred Tradition", apart from the say-so of the Bishop of Rome (i.e. circular reasoning). How does De Maria even know that the Pope possesses the gift of infallibility? And his citation of the Great Comission passage from the Gospel of Matthew does not support his case, since all gospel tradition was incorporated into the pages of what we now call the New Testament. It is De Maria's side that is in denial of God's Truth.

              "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 (i.e. circular reasoning)? And 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). Furthermore, Scripture contains the instructions that we need to follow in order to inherit eternal salvation with God in heaven, and states that it can equip the man of God for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Now, that sounds like "Scripture alone" to me!

              "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."

              No, De Maria, you have utterly misunderstood what I have said here. The Bible has rightly been called the "Mother of Oral Tradition" because it is the standard by which we affirm God's truth and rebuke error. This argumentation of yours has been addressed already, and is in fact nonsensical. How can we know with any degree of certainty which oral traditions are inspired (not because the "Pope said so")? The constant example we see throughout Scripture is that people appealed to the Scriptures themselves as the final court of authority. What is even more powerful is that even though the apostles were inspired by genuine oral revelation from God, they still directed people to the Scriptures for the final determination of truth.

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

               Um, excuse me? But who are you to affirm that material sufficiency is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church? Many other sources which are more reputable than you would seem to disagree:

               “. . . 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)

               Are you the pope of the Roman Catholic Church? Since you're not, it follows that your charge of me misrepresenting official Catholic dogma 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."

                Alright, nobody denies that the New Testament teachings (i.e. the Resurrection of Jesus Christ) were originally taught orally, but much of the redemptive work of Christ was already prefigured in the Old Testament (i.e. 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 (i.e. 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 Bishop of Rome (i.e. circular reasoning). How can we even know for sure that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true church which was established by our Lord Jesus Christ?

                 Roman Catholics cannot even come up with one inspired phrase of what the Lord Jesus Christ or His apostles said, that is not recorded in Scripture.

                 The Old Testament Scriptures were sufficient for God's people, not in the sense that any additional revelation or elaboration on already given revelation at the time was supererogatory, but that He provided them with all the things that they needed to know concerning His plan of redemption. What has changed throughout history is the content of a believer's faith, as His divine revelation was further unpacked and more prophecies were fulfilled. This is known as "progressive revelation", which is not at all problematic for the Sola Scriptura position. De Maria needs to quit esteeming the opinions of men above what is written in Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6).

                 "That's not what Scripture says (Matthew 18:17)...."

                  This Scripture passage only provides us with a general model of conflict resolution. Nothing within the context of Matthew 18:15-17 indicates that an infallible "church hierarchy" is supposed to preside over all matters in the church. De Maria, please stop committing eisegesis.

                  "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)."

                  Your charge of circular reasoning against me is false. Sola Scriptura is not circular reasoning because outside sources attest to the inspiration of Scripture. The Bible has also "proven itself" to be true. Consider, for example, 1.) Historical or archaeological evidence backing up the existence of various cities, countries, prominent individuals, customs or traditions, and even major events mentioned in the Bible, 2.) Geological accuracy, 3.) Agreement with scientific principles, 4.)Excellent moral teaching, 5.) Great internal consistency in the biblical texts, 6.) Incredible manuscript evidence for the authenticity of New Testament Scriptures, 7.) Scripture's fulfillment of prophecy points to its supernatural origin, and 8.)The life transforming power of Scripture. Therefore, we do not need any sort of approval from the Church of Rome in order to know which books of the Bible are inspired. The ultimate argument offered by Rome 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) is infallible (apart from the occupation of circular reasoning)?

                  For De Maria to advance any further with his proof-texts for his position on "Apostolic Tradition", then at least three conditions need to be met, which are 1.) The exact traditions need to be identified, 2.) It needs to be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the word "tradition" mentioned within the specific texts of Scripture are different in substance from what is contained in the Bible, and 3.) Conclusive evidence needs to be provided in order for any random tradition to be considered apostolic and infallible. Can any of this be accomplished by Roman Catholics without resorting to circular reasoning? And if the alleged infallible authority of the church is "self-authenticating," then why can't the same be said of the Bible?

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

    Image result for infallible interpretation infallible authority              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. As usual, these assertions are not founded upon any biblical or logical basis. In fact, the entire logical foundation for De Maria's arguments against me 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." Can we even be given a meaningful definition of what constitutes "Sacred Tradition"? How can we know which oral traditions are of divine inspiration? Why do we even have a Bible in the first place? Though I would wholeheartedly disagree with the Roman Catholic interpretation of the text of Matthew 16:18-19, there is no need to continue with this discussion for the reason that much has already been said. The office of Pope is not even biblical for starters.

                  "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."

                  No, rather, I just want to know when you will stop filling your asinine head full of Roman Catholic apologetic sophistry. The Council of Nicaea simply followed the clear teaching of Scripture.

                  Why should I even bother with submitting to the "Holy See" when there are so many folks like you in this world who oftentimes invest time into didactically lecturing us on the official Church doctrine?

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

                  Oh, trust me, your arguments fall short of anything but proof. I'm sure that we could go on and on with this discussion, and something tells me that you would! But there is no way for the Papacy to circumvent the charge of circularity in its reasoning processes. Furthermore, the facts of Scripture, logic, and history are on my side of this debate.

    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 a clever fabrication, then we should expect no 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 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. Moreover, this particular narrative was written to strengthen the faithfulness of Christians and to make converts 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." 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)

    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 Bible 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, dignity, love, and integrity. 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. Furthermore, 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 principles. We would do best to adhere to George Orwell’s warning concerning the formation of global 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…”