Monday, October 30, 2017

Does 1 Peter 3:19 Support Purgatory?

        "In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:19)

        Some Catholics have interpreted the text of 1 Peter 3:19 to mean that Jesus Christ descended into Purgatory for admonition purposes. In other words, a number of Catholic apologists have identified the "spirits in prison" to be professing Christians suffering in the purifying flames of purgatory.

        This text is not referring to human beings suffering in Purgatory, but rather concerns Christ descending into Hades for the purpose of proclaiming His victory to the fallen angels. It means that the same Holy Spirit of God who resurrected Jesus Christ from the grave also enabled Him to use Noah as an instrument to preach repentance to other men during his earthly lifespan (during the construction of the ark which took place prior to the Genesis flood).

        Jesus preached the message of His triumph over sin and death to the fallen angels who have been imprisoned since the time of the flood. 1 Peter 3:19 is referring to a place for nonbelievers. This footnote from the Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition should settle the matter:

        "3, 19: The spirits in prison: It is not clear just who these spirits are. They may be the spirits of the sinners who died in the flood, or angelic powers, hostile to God, who have been overcome by Christ (ch 22; Gn 6, 4; Enoch 6-36, especially 21, 6; 2 Enoch 7, 1-5)."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Myth That Religion Causes War

        It has been commonly charged by the people who categorize themselves under the umbrella of the atheistic worldview that most wars throughout the history of mankind were enacted in the name of religion. In other words, a large fraction of the secular critics of Judeo-Christian tradition maintain that the greatest amount of lives lost in the pages of previous ages was due to zealous religious people attempting to conquer other nations for the sake of their gods. Many atheists reason that if no religions existed, then the world would function peacefully because there would also cease to be controversy over the validity of contradictory sets of religions customs, traditions, and practices. Of course, the claim that religion is the number one cause of war has been advanced to give people the impression that the freethinker worldview is optimistically plausible. But if people actually devoted time to scrutinizing the premises of this anti-theistic argumentation, then they would readily know and understand that it is absolutely untenable.

        While it is impossible to deny historical atrocities such as the Crusades, it should still be pointed out that it is fallacious to paint all religions as being morally bankrupt. Moreover, this argument is historically inaccurate. Robin Schumacher noted the following,

        "An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%."

        In his work titled Lethal Politics and Death by Government, Professor R. J. Rummel noted that death in battle was not usually inspired in the name of religion, but rather that naturalistic philosophies were the primary cause. Though religions may be used by governments to influence a large population of people to wage war, that still does not make religion the cause of war. Logically speaking, wars have oftentimes been fought among groups who adhere to the same religion. Consider, as an example, the American Civil War. Battles are, for the most part, conducted strictly for secular purposes, which can include but are not limited to controlling foreign territories or obtaining resources. Therefore, governments are the source of war, not religions.

        The idea of war is not limited to the scope of the human race. In other words, the notion of battle can even be found within the organizational ranks of the animal kingdom, from ants, to bees, and to monkeys. If religion is the cause of all wars, then would this not mean that animals have the intellectual and rational capacities to subscribe to a belief system? Consider also, that relatively few atheistic societies have existed throughout history. That fact in itself speaks volumes against the claim that religion is the cause of all wars because it renders impossible the process of comparing religious and secular societies.

        If it is true that religions can inspire people to act viciously, then it is also follows that the concept can influence people to act in accordance to what is morally good. Christianity is a religion that has been founded on principles of love, hope, generosity, and peace. Thus, one would have to be terribly misguided to assume that religion is inherently evil. Furthermore, we cannot consistently affirm the existence of moral values without a supernatural Law Giver. If we choose to abide by the relativistic moral code enforced by the secular worldview, then it follows that truth can be self-contradictory and thereby self-refuting. If we cannot uphold objective morals, then neither can we uphold objective human rights. There would also be no such thing as value, certainty, or purpose. In short, a society that tries to function independently of God's presence will inevitably collapse internally. Nevertheless, we can never condone the establishment of atheistic governments in the twentieth century that treacherously usurped power and inhumanly murdered several million innocent people. So it is incumbent to understand why religion is an indispensable support for continual survival of the human race.

        The information which comprises the structure of this essay reveals the utterly dishonest nature of the claim that religion is the number one cause of all wars. Such a claim is historically inaccurate, as well as it is philosophically indefensible. Governments cause war, not Christianity. All quarrels originate from the inherently lustful nature of the human heart (James 4:1-2). In fact, secular societies are more guilty of taking innocent lives. Consider the examples of non-religious dictators such as Hitler (a moral relativist), Stalin, Karl Marx, and Mao Zedong. The evidence clearly does not point in favor of the theory that most people throughout history have died in the name of spreading their religions.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Enduring Religious Persecution For The Cause Of Christ

  • Discussion:
          -Our Lord Jesus Christ emphatically told us to anticipate rejection for our religious beliefs. This is so because our morals and values stand in contradiction to the morals and values of this world:
              "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you were not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word I said to you, A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the one who sent me." (John 15:18-21)

              If we were not of God, then the people of this world would accept and love us. This is not the case, however. Daily, several thousand Christians across the globe have been agonized by ruthless persecution simply because of their aspiration to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. 

              For centuries, faithful adherents of Christianity have been mocked, jeered, beaten, starved, imprisoned, tortured, and even murdered for their involvement in spreading the gospel. Even today, those who profess the name of Jesus Christ are persecuted by their governments for their religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, our society has expressed much disapproval of biblical standards. 

              The Christian religion has been condemned by the powers of evil since it first blossomed by completion of Christ's physical resurrection from the grave. Jesus Christ is the light which the darkness cannot comprehend. His ways are not the ways of the world. He was beaten, ridiculed, and crucified for our transgressions. 

              For these reasons, we as His earthly representatives should not expect to obtain a better reputation in our ministry of proclaiming the message of salvation to the lost. In order to endure persecution, we must understand that our suffering in this life is only temporary and that we will spend eternity with God in heaven.

    Monday, October 23, 2017

    The Evidence For Evolution And Fossils

    • Defining Transitional Fossils:
              -Evolutionists are notorious for claiming that they have found definitive proof for Darwinism through transitional fossils, which are organismal remains that purportedly reveal characteristic, behavioral, and adaptive transformations of animal species within the fossil record. In other words, they are fossils that inherited shared traits from ancestral groups. Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution maintains that descendant groups of organisms exhibit similar features from derived ancestral relatives. The express purpose of transitional fossils, also referred to as missing links, is to provide scientists with information regarding historical evolutionary trends. This concept is regularly illustrated through colorful diagrams in our science textbooks (transition series from ape-like species to human beings).
    • There Is No Such Thing As A Transitional Fossil:
              -Contrary to the widely promulgated Darwinian conviction that all fossils are transitional, scientists have never really discovered fossils going through intermediary stages of metamorphosis to become different animal species. We have neither found nor observed animals that were only half way or three fourths complete with an evolutionary process. What has been confirmed through the study of the natural world is the constant pattern of animals having complete anatomies and procreation after their own kindred. Thus, the overwhelming evidence that has been compiled against the Theory of Evolution has literally forced its advocates to desperately misinterpret fossil data to match currently hypothesized evolutionary models. It has rightly been said that Darwinists have mainly based their transitional diagrams on artistic proficiency. Now, this type of reasoning is purely pseudoscience. In fact, the claim that fossils lend irrefutable support to Darwinian notions is not an argument at all. It merely assumes the existence of transitional fossils and the validity of evolution to work backwards in proving that all presently existing remains of formerly flourishing organisms are transitional in nature. In other words, evolution has been used to prove evolution. Circular arguments are, by definition, irrational. Even if we grant the premises that all fossils accurately resemble their laboratory reconstructions and find sequences vindicating evolution, these factors would still not assist atheists in furnishing a case for their belief in macroevolution because there is no available method of determining which fossils are related. The fossil record can, at best, be consistent with Darwinism. We can also interpret the world to the exclusion of the evolutionary framework through the investigation of chemical, climate, and genetic reasons. 
    • Consider This Excerpt From Creation Today Commenting On The Severe Lack Of Transitional Fossils Which Darwinists Need In Order To Substantiate Their Theory Of Evolution:
              -"One of the most powerful pieces of evidence against evolution is the fossil record. If evolution occurred by slow, minute changes in living creatures, there would be thousands of times more transitional forms of these creatures in the fossil beds than complete forms. Since the billions of fossils that have been found are all complete forms, the obvious conclusion is: Evolution never occurred! Though evolutionists have stated that there are many transitional forms, this is simply not true. What evolutionists claim to be transitional forms all have fully functional parts. A true transitional form would have non-functioning parts or appendages, such as the nub of a leg or wing."
    • N. Heribert Nilsson, Who Is A Botanist, Evolutionist, And Professor At Lund University in Sweden, Admits That The Fossil Record Lends Absolutely No Credence To The Darwinian Hypothesis:
              -"My attempts to demonstrate evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed...The fossil material is now so complete that it has been possible to construct new classes, and the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as being due to scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled."
    • Dr. Colin Patterson, A Senior Paleontologist At The British Museum Of Natural History, Said Concerning The Lack Of Evidence For Transitional Fossils:
              -"I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil of living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualize such transitions, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it...Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of Darwin's authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it. Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils...It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favored by natural selection. But such stories are not parts of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test." (correspondence w. Sunderland)
    • As A Matter Of Fact, Charles Darwin Himself Recognized This Significant Dilemma For His Postulation In His Famous Book Titled The Origin Of The Species:
              -"If evolution had actually taken place we should expect that the fossils would provide evidence of a continuous gradual evolution of life from a simple original organism to complex advanced forms. There are countless millions of fossils out there, but they tend to fall into major groups and intermediates expected between these major groups are not there. This is one of the strong scientific arguments indicating that evolution from simple to complex never occurred."
              -"Darwin attempted to save his theory of gradual evolution by maintaining that intermediate fossils are not found because of “the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”69 Even Gould noted that Darwin’s argument that the fossil record is imperfect “persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution directly.”70 But in the last few decades, this excuse has lost credibility."
    • David B. Kitts, A Former Student Of George Gaylord Simpson, Said That Fossils At Best Can At Best Be Consistent With The Evolutionary Worldview:
                -“Few paleontologists have, I think, ever supposed that fossils, by themselves, provide grounds for the conclusion that evolution has occurred. The fossil record doesn’t even provide any evidence in support of Darwinian theory except in the weak sense that the fossil record is compatible with it, just as it is compatible with other evolutionary theories, and revolutionary theories, and special creationist theories, and even ahistorical theories.” (“Search for the Holy Transformation,” Paleobiology (Vol. 5; Summer 1979), p 353)

      Exposing The Sexist Nature of Charles Darwin

      Related image

      Saturday, October 21, 2017

      Joy To The World

      "Isaac Watts wrote “Joy to the World” in 1719....Joy came to the world because God, our great Creator, loved His creation so much that He sent His Son to reveal His story, so that over time, His character and ultimate good will toward mankind would be recognized. The impact on earth of Christ’s birth will never diminish despite enemies’ attempts to stop it. John 21:25 says that the world would not be able to contain the books that could be written about what the Lord did while on earth. Since then many more testimonies of His transforming love have been and will be written."


      Friday, October 20, 2017

      The Early Church Fathers, John 1:1, And The Pre-Existence Of Christ

      What did the Early Church Fathers teach that John 1:1 meant? Did they teach a Unitarian Logos, a personified plan of God? Or did the teach that the Logos was a title of the pre-incarnate Son of God?

      Read the following quotations to see for yourself. The links accompanying each quote are to the online Ante-Nicene Fathers at CCEL.

      It is not the purpose of this article to prove the early church fathers believed in the Trinity. I have undertaken that task here. Instead, this list of citations is intended to demonstrate that the early church fathers were not Unitarians because each clearly taught that the Son pre-existed His human birth.

      It has been alleged that these fathers invented the pre-existence of Christ due to the influence of neo-Platonism or Gnosticism. It will suffice here to say that such a view is becoming less and less convincing to modern Patristic scholars. The more that is learned about 2nd Temple Judaism and Christianity in its earliest years, the less likely it seems that the old "history of religions" theories can account for primary Christian doctrines. I commend to the reader Larry Hurtado's One Lord, One God and Lord Jesus Christ as but two examples of modern scholarship that roundly disputes the outdated "pagan influence" arguments.

      These Christian thinkers, some of them writing very early in the Christian era, reflect the teaching of the first Christians. While they are not inspired and should be read with discernment, they are vital links to the earliest Christian interpretations of Scripture, and may well - in the case of Ignatius, for example - reflect direct Apostolic teaching.

      Justin Martyr: Dialog with Trypho

      “'He is called God, and He is and shall be God.' And when all had agreed on these grounds, I continued: ‘Moreover, I consider it necessary to repeat to you the words which narrate how He who is both Angel and God and Lord, and who appeared as a man to Abraham, and who wrestled in human form with Jacob, was seen by him when he fled from his brother Esau’”

      Ignatius: Epistle to the Tarsians

      How could such a one be a mere man, receiving the beginning of His existence from Mary, and not rather God the Word, and the only-begotten Son? For "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

      Ignatius: Epistle to the Magnesians

      Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time.

      Irenaeus: Against Heresies Book I

      Having first of all distinguished these three — God, the Beginning, and the Word — he again unites them, that he may exhibit the production of each of them, that is, of the Son and of the Word, and may at the same time show their union with one another, and with the Father. For ‘the beginning’ is in the Father, and of the Father, while ‘the Word’ is in the beginning, and of the beginning. Very properly, then, did he say, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ for He was in the Son; ‘and the Word was with God,’ for He was the beginning; ‘and the Word was God,’ of course, for that which is begotten of God is God.”

      Irenaeus: Against Heresies Book III

      "And again when the Son speaks to Moses, He says, ‘I am come down to deliver this people,’ (Exodus 3:8 - the burning bush). For it is He who descended and ascended for the salvation of men."

      Clement of Alexandria: Fragments Part 1

      "There was; then, a Word importing an unbeginning eternity; as also the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreate."

      Tertullian: Against Praxeas

      "[God speaks in the plural ‘Let us make man in our image’] because already there was attached to Him his Son, a second person, his own Word, and a third, the Spirit in the substance in three coherent persons. He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit."

      Hippolytus: Against Noetus

      Let us believe then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven,... He now, coming forth into the world, was manifested as God in a body, coming forth too as a perfect man.

      Hippolytus: Dogmatical and Historical Fragments

      These things then, brethren, are declared by the Scriptures. And the blessed John, in the testimony of his Gospel, gives us an account of this economy (disposition) and acknowledges this Word as God, when he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." If, then, the Word was with God, and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons however, and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then there is the third, the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes, and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding: the Father who is above all, and the Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit. For the Jews glorified (or gloried in) the Father, but gave Him not thanks, for they did not recognise the Son. The disciples recognised the Son, but not in the Holy Ghost; wherefore they also denied Him. The Father's Word, therefore, knowing the economy (disposition) and the will of the Father, to wit, that the Father seeks to be worshipped in none other way than this, gave this charge to the disciples after He rose from the dead: "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth.

      But some one will say to me, You adduce a thing strange to me, when you call the Son the Word. For John indeed speaks of the Word, but it is by a figure of speech. Nay, it is by no figure of speech. For while thus presenting this Word that was from the beginning, and has now been sent forth, he said below in the Apocalypse, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him (was) Faithful and True; and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. And His eyes (were) as flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself. And He (was) clothed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called the Word of God." See then, brethren, how the vesture sprinkled with blood denoted in symbol the flesh, through which the impassible Word of God came under suffering, as also the prophets testify to me. For thus speaks the blessed Micah: "The house of Jacob provoked the Spirit of the Lord to anger. These are their pursuits. Are not His words good with them, and do they walk rightly? And they have risen up in enmity against His countenance of peace, and they have stripped off His glory." That means His suffering in the flesh. And in like manner also the blessed Paul says, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be shown in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." What Son of His own, then, did God send through the flesh but the Word, whom He addressed as Son because He was to become such (or be begotten) in the future? And He takes the common name for tender affection among men in being called the Son. For neither was the Word, prior to incarnation and when by Himself, yet perfect Son, although He was perfect Word, only-begotten. Nor could the flesh subsist by itself apart from the Word, because it has its subsistence in the Word. Thus, then, one perfect Son of God was manifested.

      Theophilus to Autolycus Book II

      You will say, then, to me: "You said that God ought not to be contained in a place, and how do you now say that He walked in Paradise? "Hear what I say. The God and Father, indeed, of all cannot be contained, and is not found in a place, for there is no place of His rest; but His Word, through whom He made all things, being His power and His wisdom, assuming the person of the Father and Lord of all, went to the garden in the person of God, and conversed with Adam. For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son? Not as the poets and writers of myths talk of the sons of gods begotten from intercourse [with women], but as truth expounds, the Word, that always exists, residing within the heart of God. For before anything came into being He had Him as a counsellor, being His own mind and thought. But when God wished to make all that He determined on, He begot this Word, uttered, the first-born of all creation, not Himself being emptied of the Word [Reason], but having begotten Reason, and always conversing with His Reason. And hence the holy writings teach us, and all the spirit-bearing [inspired] men, one of whom, John, says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God," showing that at first God was alone, and the Word in Him. Then he says, "The Word was God; all things came into existence through Him; and apart from Him not one thing came into existence." The Word, then, being God, and being naturally produced from God, whenever the Father of the universe wills, He sends Him to any place; and He, coming, is both heard and seen, being sent by Him, and is found in a place.

      Origen: de Principiis Book II

      Seeing, then, that all things which have been created are said to have been made through Christ, and in Christ, as the Apostle Paul most clearly indicates, when he says, "For in Him and by Him were all things created, whether things in heaven or things on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or powers, or principalities, or dominions; all things were created by Him, and in Him; " and as in his Gospel John indicates the same thing, saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: the same was in the beginning with God: all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made.

      Origen: de Principiis Preface

      The holy Apostles, in preaching the faith of Christ, treated with the utmost clarity of certain matters which they believed to be of absolute necessity to all believers...The specific points which are clearly handed down through the Apostolic preaching [are] these: First, that there is one God who created and arranged all things...Secondly, that Jesus Christ himself was born of the Father before all creatures...Although He was God, He took flesh, and having been made man, He remained what He was, God

      Novation: A Treatise Concerning the Trinity

      And let us therefore believe this, since it is most faithful that Jesus Christ the Son of God is our Lord and God; because "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. The same was in the beginning with God."

      Pseudo-Gregory Thaumaturgus: A Sectional Confession of Faith

      And we anathematize those who constitute different worships, one for the divine and another for the human, and who worship the man born of Mary as though He were another than the God of God. For we know that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

      Copyright © 2001-2005 by Robert Hommel. For an Answer Ministries ( All rights reserved.

      Homosexual Behaviors Are Unnatural

      "In respect to a man’s sexual powers, which are unitive and generative by nature, the one whose state is best would be a man as husband and father, just as for a woman it would be as wife and mother. This is how we know that homosexual inclinations are privations and that homosexual acts are disorders. It is not a matter of “who says.” Homosexual behavior cannot actualize sexual potential because homosexual acts can be neither unitive nor procreative. Like a withered limb, congenital deafness, blindness, or a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, homosexual inclinations are not part of what a human being is in his essence. These are accidental, not essential properties. In each case, there is something missing that out to be there. For instance, the limb ought to be able to move in its full strength, the ear ought to be able to hear, and the eye to see. The further a thing is from its perfection, the more defective or “corrupt” it is—just as blindness is the furthest defect of the eye. A privation of the good cannot itself be good. In fact, as St. Augustine said, evil is a privation of the good."

      Robert R. Reilly, “The New Gnosticism of the Homosexual Movement,” The Catholic World Report

      Wednesday, October 18, 2017

      Have No Fellowship With Sin

              "Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

              Originally, the Apostle Paul wrote his first epistle to the Church of Corinth in response to the divisions which formed as a result of pride. Disputes arose from within this group of people because the source of contention was from the soul, sin. Individual members who made up the population of the Corinthian church were ensnared to fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, idolatry, and a host of other strains of carnal thinking. Another major problem that caused division within the church at Corinth was the rejection of Jesus Christ's resurrection. This led up to Paul pronouncing the expression, "Bad company corrupts good morals." By uttering this declaration, the apostle was telling his audience to avoid the people who denied that Christ rose bodily from the grave. Moreover, we can infer from this text that evil is contagious. In other words, sin can infect the human conscience in the same manner that a virus can invade cells of the human body. If we do not flee from evil, then our ability to discern what is good versus evil becomes tarnished. We find ourselves within the grasp of sin. Sin can take over our lives, and has been proven to be deadly to our souls.

      Tuesday, October 17, 2017

      C.S. Lewis On Reasoning To Atheism

      "Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

      C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity, p. 12

      Tuesday, October 10, 2017

      Following Christ For The Right Reason

      "If you want to follow Jesus because He will give you a better life, that's idolatry. Follow Christ for the sake of Christ. He is worthy."

      Paul Washer

      Lust Is The Antithesis Of Love

      "Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust—whether it’s a young co-worker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car—represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings. Lust always breeds more lust. “What is the source of the wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” (James 4:1 HCSB). Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness."

      Stephen and Alex Kendrick, “The Love Dare,” p. 117

      Monday, October 9, 2017

      A Definitive Case Against The Roman Catholic Apocrypha

      • Introduction:
                -A major source of division between Roman Catholics and Protestants is the numbering of books that should officially be included in the Bible. While the Protestant canon of Scripture is comprised of sixty-six books, the Roman Catholic Old Testament contains seven additional books. The seven disputed books that the Church of Rome embraces are Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and Baruch. Also, translators of the Catholic Bibles have incorporated a few extra verses into the protocanonical texts of Daniel and Esther. While Roman Catholics confidently parade this volume of ancient writings (which they refer to as the "Deuterocanonicals") as being canonical Scripture, the truth of the matter is that there are many solid reasons for rejecting the Apocrypha as being God-breathed.
      • Rejection Of The Apocrypha By The Jews:
                -The apocryphal books were never included in the original Hebrew canon of Scripture. Jesus spoke of the Law and Prophets (Matthew 7:12; 22:40; Luke 16:16). He also affirmed the threefold division of the Old Testament canon (Luke 24:44). The deuterocanonicals were written during a time when no prophets were alive (1 Maccabees 4:41-46; 9:27). All of this is important because the Jews were the appointed "oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2). They were the ones most acquainted with the Old Testament texts, as they were the ones who wrote them. Jewish thinkers such as Josephus and Philo rejected the Apocrypha as inspired.
      • The Divine Inspiration Of The Roman Catholic Apocrypha Was Denied By Many In The Early Church:
                -Contrary to the popular proclamations made by Roman Catholic apologists, the most primitive Christians were far from unanimous regarding whether the Apocrypha should be included in the canon of Scripture. Members of the church throughout history such as Julius Africanus, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Athanasius, Ruffinus, John of Damascus, Epiphanius, and Cardinal Cajetan rejected the deuterocanonical books as being inspired. Pope Gregory the Great, speaking of the Maccabees, said, "...we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forth testimony" (Commentary on Job, 19, 34). Athanasius wrote, "There are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however, are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias..." (Thirty-ninth festal letter, 367). Eusebius of Caesarea wrote, "There are not, therefore, thousands of books among us at odds and in mutual contradiction, but there are only twenty-two books that contain the relationship at all times and that are justly considered divine . Of these, five are from Moses, and comprise the laws and tradition of man's creation until Moses' death. This period spans almost three thousand years. From the death of Moses to that of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians after Xerxes, the prophets after Moses wrote the facts of their times in thirteen books. The other four contain hymns in honor of God and rules of life for men. From Artaxerxes (successor of Xerxes) to the present day, everything has been recorded, but it has not been considered as worthy of as much credit as what preceded this time, since the succession of the prophets ceased. But the faith we place in our own writings is perceived through our conduct; for despite the fact that so much time has passed, no one has ever dared to add anything to them, or take anything from them, or alter anything in them. These words of the author presented here will not cease to be useful ” (Ecclesiastical History, Book III, 10:1-6). "Theologians of the Eastern Church, such as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Amphilochius drew up formal lists of the Old Testament in which the Apocrypha do not appear." (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 179) While the patristic writers did indeed cite from extra-biblical writings, quotation of a source in itself does not imply acceptance into the canon or belief in divine inspiration. Early church fathers who did quote from the Apocrypha usually did so for instructional and corroboratory purposes. It was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 that the Apocrypha was officially deemed to be a part of the Roman Catholic canon. The online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia admits, “In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. There is a current friendly to them, another one distinctly unfavourable to their authority and sacredness, while wavering between the two are a number of writers whose veneration for these books is tempered by some perplexity as to their exact standing, and among those we note St. Thomas Aquinas. Few are found to unequivocally acknowledge their canonicity” (Under “Canon of the Old Testament”). "From the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament an Old Latin Version was made, which of course also contained the Apocryphal books among the canonical books. It is not strange, therefore, that Greek and Latin Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria (none of whom knew any Hebrew), quote the Apocrypha with the same formulas of citation as they use when referring to the books of the Old Testament. The small amount of Fathers, however, who either had some personal knowledge of Hebrew (e.g. Origen and Jerome) or had made an effort to learn what the limits of the Jewish canon were (e.g. Melito of Sardis) were usually careful not to attribute canonicity to the Apocryphal books, though recognizing they contain edifying material suitable for Christians to read." (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 178)
      • Examples Of Internal And Theological Errors Within The Apocrypha:
                -Prayers for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:39-46)
                -Suicide commended (2 Maccabees 14:41-43).
                -Consumption of magic potions (Tobit 6:5-9).
                -God created world using matter (Wisdom 11:17).
                -Two contradictory accounts of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in the same book (2 Maccabees 1:13-16; 9:19-29).
      • The Author Of 2 Maccabees Acknowledges That His Own Writing Might Contain Flaws And So Is Excluded From The Canon:
                -"...I will bring my own story to an end here to. If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or water alone, whereas mixing wine with water makes a more pleasant drink that increases delight, so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end." (2 Maccabees 15:37-39)
                -"For in view of the flood of data, and the difficulties encountered, given such abundant material, by those who wish to plunge into accounts of the history, we have aimed to please those who prefer simply to read, to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all. For us who have undertaken the labor of making this digest, the task, far from being easy, is one of sweat and of sleepless nights. Just so, the preparation of a festive banquet is no light matter for one who seeks to give enjoyment to others. Similarly, to win the gratitude of many we will gladly endure this labor, leaving the responsibility for exact details to the historian, and confining our efforts to presenting only a summary outline. As the architect of a new house must pay attention to the whole structure, while the one who undertakes the decoration and the frescoes has to be concerned only with what is needed for ornamentation, so I think it is with us. To enter into questions and examine them from all sides and to be busy about details is the task of the historian; but one who is making an adaptation should be allowed to aim at brevity of expression and to forgo complete treatment of the matter. Here, then, let us begin our account without adding to what has already been said; it would be silly to lengthen the preface to the history and then cut short the history itself." (2 Maccabees 2:24-32)
      • The Inclusion Of The Deuterocanonical Books In Later Versions Of The Septuagint Does Not Translate Into Evidence Of Them Being Canonical:
                -The only noteworthy support for the deuterocanonical books is that they were included in copies of the Septuagint. However, some Septuagint manuscripts also included writings such as the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, and the Psalms of Solomon. Yet, these are not found in any Roman Catholic translations of the Bible. So the mere fact that the Apocrypha was included in Septuagint translations does not prove this collection of books to be inspired by God.
                -"...many Protestant scholars have noted that while the Septuagint was first translated several centuries before the time of Christ, it apparently was not until after Christ that the Apocrypha was appended into this translation. We know of no Septuagint manuscripts earlier than the fourth century that contain the Apocrypha, suggesting that the Apocrypha was not in the original Septuagint. But even if a first-century manuscript were found with the Apocrypha in the Septuagint, that still does not mean the Apocrypha belongs in the canon." (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 39)
      • The Roman Catholic Church Did Not Declare The Apocrypha As Being Canonical Until The Council Of Trent In 1546. It Did So With The Intention Of Establishing Scriptural Support For Its Unbiblical Traditions:
                -"St. Jerome distinguished between canonical books and ecclesiastical books. The latter he judged were circulated by the Church as good spiritual reading but were not recognized as authoritative Scripture. The situation remained unclear in the ensuing centuries...For example, John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado continued to doubt the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Canon)

      Sunday, October 8, 2017

      How Genocide Begins With Groupthink

      "Perhaps most important to a genocidal plan is neutralizing any possible support for the victims. The Ottoman government maintained a well-coordinated propaganda campaign that vilified the Armenians in the eyes of their Turkish neighbors. In like manner, the Jews were demonized among their neighbors in Nazi Germany.

      This sort of thing happens in all mass killings, including those done for reasons other than ethnicity. For example, in Stalinist Russia, several million peasant farmers in the Ukraine were deliberately starved to death in the winter of 1932-33 in what is known as the Holodomor. Soviet propaganda demonized these people, known as “kulaks,” as enemies of the people because they resisted the forced collectivization of agriculture, i.e., the confiscation of their farms. In Rwanda, Hutu propaganda vilified and scapegoated the Tutsis, often through radio, priming the popular mindset for the mass slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis during a 100-day period in 1994. The list of “final solutions” goes on and on.

      Information warfare through a centrally controlled media is key to turning neighbor against neighbor. It plays a huge role in caricaturing perceived enemies and growing an us-versus-them mindset. In short, propaganda that psychologically manipulates a population is key to laying the groundwork for extreme social polarization, and ultimately for genocide.

      This sort of propaganda thrives on ignorance and dissipates under conditions of social trust and general goodwill. This is why free speech and freedom of expression are not negotiable to any free society."

      Stella Morabito, We Must Never Forget That Genocide Begins With Groupthink

      Wednesday, October 4, 2017

      Did Moses Copy The Law From The Code Of Hammurabi?

      Both Levitical law and Hammurabi’s Code impose the death penalty in cases of adultery and kidnapping (Leviticus 20:10; Exodus 21:16; cf. Statutes 129 and 14). Also, there are similarities in the law of retaliation, such as “an eye for an eye” (Leviticus 21:23-25; cf. Statute 196). Statute 206 of the Hammurabian Code says, “If during a quarrel one man strike another and wound him, then he shall swear, ‘I did not injure him wittingly,’ and pay the physicians.” The Law of Moses is comparable: “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed” (Exodus 21:18-19).

      There are other examples, but in all truth, such resemblances do not demonstrate that Moses plagiarized Hammurabi’s Code. What the similarities do show is that murder, theft, adultery, and kidnapping are problems in every society and must be addressed. Even today, countries throughout the world have similar laws. Such parallels certainly don’t prove plagiarism.

      Similarity in penal codes should be expected in civil societies. Both Babylon and Israel had laws against murder, but it doesn’t follow that one stole the idea from the other. Should one country not prosecute a crime simply because another country has a similar law?

      The differences between Mosaic Law and the Hammurabian Code are equally significant. For example, the Law of Moses went far beyond the Code of Hammurabi in that it was rooted in the worship of one God, supreme over all (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). The moral principles of the Old Testament are based on a righteous God who demanded that mankind, created in His image, live righteously. The Law of Moses is more than a legal code; it speaks of sin and responsibility to God. The Hammurabian Code and other ancient laws do not do this.

      The Code of Hammurabi focused exclusively on criminal and civil laws and meted out harsh, and sometimes brutal, punishments. In this way, Hammurabi has more in common with Draco than with Moses. The Law of Moses provided justice, but it also dealt with spiritual laws and personal and national holiness. As a result, the Mosaic Law dealt with the cause of crime, not just its effects. The Mosaic Law elevates the value of human life, and its whole tenor is more compassionate than that of the Hammurabian Code. The spiritual dimension is what makes the Law of Moses unique.

      In his book Highlights of Archaeology in Bible Lands, Fred Wight writes, “The Mosaic Law gives strong emphasis to the recognition of sin as being the cause of the downfall of a nation. Such a thought is entirely lacking in Hammurabi’s Code. . . . The great fundamental principle of the laws of God in the Hebrew Bible may be summed up in the words: ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy’ [Leviticus 11:45]. Such a principle as this was utterly unknown to the Babylonians as seen in their law code.”

      There is a dramatic difference in perspective between Hammurabi and Moses. One’s focus is horizontal, while the other’s is vertical. Archaeologist Alfred Hoerth, author of Archaeology and the Old Testament, says, “The Old Testament law code is religiously oriented, while others are civil. The Mesopotamians believed the god Shamash gave Hammurabi his law code so people could get along with one another. In the Bible, the law code was given primarily so people could get along with God.”

      This is what sets the Mosaic Law apart from all the other law codes of antiquity: its strong emphasis on spiritual matters. The closest the Hammurabian Code comes to effect such spirituality is its proclamation that those who stole from the gods would be put to death. Unlike the Mosaic Law, Hammurabi’s Code had no provision for forgiveness.

      The theory that Moses’ Law is simply a rewording of Hammurabi’s has largely been abandoned today, due to the fact that similar law codes, even older than Hammurabi’s, have been found in various other places. These would include the Cuneiform laws, written as early as 2350 B.C.; the Code of Urukagina, 2380 B.C.; the Code of Ur-Nammu, 2050 B.C.; and others.

      Most critics accede to the fact that the Babylonian laws were probably well-known to the Hebrews of Moses’ day. When God communicated His Law, He used language that the Israelites were already familiar with, and this would explain similar wording for similar laws.

      Tuesday, October 3, 2017

      A Lesson From The Book Of Micah

      • God's Words Exhorts Us To Obey His Commandments:
                -"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8)
      • Commentary on The Text Of Micah 6:8:
                -From this text of Scripture, we learn that God anticipates authentic transformation of the human heart from a previous state of transgression. This is externally revealed through sound conduct and language. The people who truly love God will by His grace conform themselves to fit His divine will. Micah 6:8 instructs us to change ourselves inwardly, outwardly, and upwardly. "To do justly" means to treat our neighbors in a righteous manner. "To love mercy" presupposes personal devotion to the precepts of God which thereby offers vindication of our profession to know, love, and serve Him. The phrase "to walk humbly with thy God" necessarily denotes having the proper desire to serve Him. This passage from the Book of Micah indicates that our earthly walk is evidence of what is taking place in us spiritually. We must worship Him in truth.

      Monday, October 2, 2017

      The Importance Of Upholding Biblical Morals And Values

      • Defining The Issues: 
                -Although the First Amendment does not allow for the establishment of any particular religion in our governments, the United States was originally founded on Christian principles as recorded in Scripture. Consider, for instance, that our National Motto is "In God We Trust." Also, consider this excerpt from the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, which is as follows, "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The Supreme Court utters this invocation daily: "God save the United States and this Honorable Court." The principles of the Christian religion have been inscribed into governmental function since its beginning with the fifty-six men who intrepidly signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. In fact, all who signed our Constitution were professing Christians, with the exception of Benjamin Franklin being a deist.
      • The Words Of George Washington As Documented In His Farewell Address, September 17, 1796:
                -"Of all the dispositions and habits which led to prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness-these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles."
      • An Excerpt From Thomas Jefferson, The Third American President Who Drafted And Signed Our Declaration Of Independence:
                -"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?"
      • The Words Of Our Second President Named John Adams Who Also Singed The Declaration Of Independence:
                -"Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."(Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.)
      • The Words Of Patrick Henry, A Person Who Ratified The United States Constitution:
                -"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
      • Our The Bible And The Public School System:
                -The public school system rejected biblical authority through the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the cases of Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963). Consequently, worldly ideologies have quickly been corrupting the minds of our youth. We see an undeniably high statistical disintegration in our moral conduct in areas such as teen pregnancies, abortions, homosexuality, higher proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases, drug addictions, a much higher overall crime rate, and even lower SAT scores. The United States has become a much more bitterly divided nation, as well. Prior to the abandonment of biblical principles and the suppression of public prayer, these actions which were once abhorred occurred very scarcely. In other words, our society was in a much healthier state than it is now. This is what happens when a nation forgets God. While people should have the right (as long as the safety and rights of other people are not violated) to practice their religions and uphold their own worldviews apart from the fear of persecution, we should still not abandon the moral principles of Scripture because they are the principles of freedom. In truth, the First Amendment was enacted to stop the federal government from establishing a particular "denomination."
      • Atheism Was Officially Defined As Being A "Religion" In The Rulings Of The Supreme Court During The Case Of Torcaso v. Watkins (1961). This Was Done With The Intention Of Allowing People Who Do Not Affirm The Existence Of A Divine Creator To Freely Express Their Opinions, Views, And Concerns Without Fear Of Persecution:
                -"Among religions in this country which do not teach what would general be considered a belief in the existence of God, are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular humanism and others."

      Sunday, October 1, 2017

      Contemplative Prayer

      Perhaps the most significant manifestation of mysticism in the modern church is contemplative prayer, which draws very heavily from Buddhism and Hinduism. In this form of mystical prayer, one becomes deeply quiet, empties the mind (as in Eastern meditation), falls into an altered state of consciousness, and goes into his center, where he supposedly merges with the divine. Rational thought is completely transcended.

      To help induce a mystical state, proponents use breathing exercises (much like Taoists) and a mantra (or sacred word, such as ma-ra-na-tha), which is repeated over and over again to aid in deep meditation. Apparently, Christian mystics believe that simply because they utilize a Christian-sounding mantra makes the practice itself a Christian practice-a dangerously wrong assumption.

      Amazingly, many who practice contemplative prayer cite Psalm 62:5 in support of the practice: "For God alone, O my soul, waits in silence, for my hope is from him." However, this verse has nothing to do with prayer or contemplation but rather simply encourages believers to wait without distraction in eager expectation for God to act in deliverance.

      Another verse taken out of context is Psalm 46:10 (KJV): "Be still, and know that I am God." The act of being still, however, has nothing to do with prayer or contemplation, but simply indicates that one should slow down and trust God rather than get in a fuss over tough circumstances.

      Ron Rhodes, 5-Minute Apologetics for Today, p. 363