Monday, October 30, 2017

Does 1 Peter 3:19 Support The Roman Catholic Dogma Of 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. The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote:

        "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 atheists that most wars throughout the history of mankind were enacted in the name of religion. In other words, it is argued 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. 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. However, this idea is untenable.

        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 a 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 assertion that religion is the cause of all wars 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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Evidence For Darwinian 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)

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 as a result of their sinful hearts. Individual members who made up the population of the Corinthian church were ensnared to fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, idolatry, and a host of other carnal behaviors. 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 saying being examined here. 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 something about the nature of evil. It 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 its presence, 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 the souls of many.

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

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 (the term "Deuterocanonicals" was first used in the sixteenth century) as being canonical Scripture, the truth of the matter is that there are solid reasons for rejecting the apocrypha as being a product of divine inspiration.
  • Rejection Of The Apocrypha By The Jews:
          -The apocryphal books were never included in the Hebrew canon of Scripture. Jesus Christ spoke of the Law and Prophets (Matthew 7:12; 22:40; Luke 16:16). He also affirmed the threefold division of the Jewish canon (Luke 24:44). The deuterocanonicals were written during a time when no prophets were alive (1 Maccabees 4:41-46; 9:27). The Jews were the ones most acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, since they were the ones who wrote them. The Jewish historian Josephus 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 early 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. Sometimes people would accept one apocryphal book while rejecting the inspiration of another. 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). "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. 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 says, “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)
  • 2 Maccabees Contains A Reference To The Unbiblical Practice Of Praying For The Dead:
          -"He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin." (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)
          -Michael F. Ross notes the following on 2 Maccabees 12:39-46: "...the passage is self-contradictory and inconsistent. It states that these dead “had gone to rest in godliness” (v. 45), but then it tells us that these dead warriors were idolaters, killed by God due to their idolatry." (https://www.equip.org/article/is-purgatory-a-biblical-concept/)
  • 2 Maccabees Contains A Reference In Which Suicide Is Commended:
          -But when the troops, on the point of capturing the tower, were forcing the outer gate and calling for fire to set the door ablaze, Razis, now caught on all sides, turned his sword against himself, preferring to die nobly rather than fall into the hands of vile men and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. In the excitement of the struggle he failed to strike exactly. So while the troops rushed in through the doors, he gallantly ran up to the top of the wall and courageously threw himself down into the crowd." (2 Maccabees 14:41-43)
  • 2 Maccabees Contains Two Contradictory Accounts Of The Death Of Antiochus Epiphanes In The Same Book:
          -Was Antiochus “cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea’s priests” (2 Maccabees 1:13-16)? Or was he “taken with a noisome sickness...ended his life among the mountains by a most piteous fate in a strange land” (2 Maccabees 9:19-29)?
  • The Consumption Of Magic Potions Is Prescribed In Tobit: 
          -"The angel then told him: “Slit the fish open and take out its gall, heart, and liver, and keep them with you; but throw away the other entrails. Its gall, heart, and liver are useful for medicine.” After Tobiah had slit the fish open, he put aside the gall, heart, and liver. Then he roasted and ate part of the fish; the rest he salted and kept for the journey. Afterward the two of them traveled on together till they drew near to Media. Then the young man asked the angel this question: “Brother Azariah, what medicine is in the fish’s heart, liver, and gall?” He answered: “As for the fish’s heart and liver, if you burn them to make smoke in the presence of a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, any affliction will flee and never return. As for the gall, if you apply it to the eyes of one who has white scales, blowing right into them, sight will be restored.” (Tobit 6:5-9)
          -Contrast this incident with other instances of illness in the Bible: "Nebuchadnezzar's madness was a rare but authentic clinical condition called boanthropy. "Made-up" miracle stories contain outrageous elements with no clinical analogy (e.g. in Tb 2:9-10, another Apocryphal book, Tobit goes blind because of sparrow droppings in his eyes." (Archaeological Study Bible, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Duane Garrett general editors)
  • The Apocryphal Additions To Daniel Are Not Canonical Scripture
          -"Daniel, Apocryphal Additions to the Greek translation of Daniel, like that of Esther, contain several pieces which are not found in the original text. The most important of these additions are contained in the Apocrypha of the English Bible under the titles of The Song of the Tree Holy Children, The History of Susanna, and The History of...Bel and the Dragon -1. a. The first of these pieces is incorporate into the narrative of Daniel After who three confessors were thrown into the furnace (Dan. iii. 23), Azarias is represented praying to God for deliverance (Song of Three Children, 3-22); and in answer the angel of the Lord shields them from the fire which consumes their enemies (23-27), whereupon "the three, as out of one mouth," raise a triumphant song (29-68), of which a chief part (35-66) has been used as a hymn in the Christian Church since the 4th century. b. The two other pieces appear more distinctly as appendices, and offer no semblance of forming part of the original text. The History of Susanna (or The Judgement of Daniel) is generally found at the beginning of the book (Gk. MSS. Vet. Lal); though it also occurs after the 12th chapter ( Vulg. ed. Compl.). The History of Bel and the Dragon is placed at the end of the book; and in the LXX. version it bears a special heading as "part of the prophecy of Habakkuk." 2. The additions are found in both the Greek texts, the LXX. and Theodotion, in the Old Latin and Vulgate, and in the existing Syriac and Arabic versions. On the other hand there is no evidence that they ever formed part of the Hebrew text, and they were originally wanting in the Syriac.3. Various conjectures have been made as to the origin of the additions. It has been supposed that they were derived from Aramaic originals, but the character of the additions themselves indicates rather the hand of an Alexandrine writer; and it is not unlikely that the translator of Daniel wrought up traditions which were already current, and appended them to his work." (William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 188)
  • 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 may have been 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)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Lesson From The Book Of Micah

          "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)

          From this text of Scripture, we learn that God expects us to be a righteous people. Authentic transformation of the human heart from a sinful state requires the grace of God. Our words and actions make plain to others whether or not such has happened. People who truly love God will by His grace align themselves with His will. "To do justly" means to treat our neighbors in a fair and honest way. "To love mercy" presupposes devotion to the precepts of God which thereby offers vindication of our profession to know Him. The phrase "to walk humbly with thy God" denotes having the proper desire to serve Him. We do not look down on other people as if we are better than they. We must worship God in sincerity and truth.