Monday, December 31, 2018

Does Isaiah 53 Teach Penal Substitution?

        "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)

         The quoted excerpt from Isaiah 53 above clearly occupies substitutionary language. This passage foretold Christ bearing the sins of mankind upon Himself. He was offered up in the same manner as an unblemished lamb for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19). His innocent blood was shed for both the just and the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). We are healed spiritually by His wounds (1 Peter 2:24). The previously referenced passages from the New Testament are based on the vicarious nature of the atonement sacrifices performed under the Mosaic Law:

         "When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness." (Leviticus 16:20-22)

         Animals paid the price for the sins of people with their very own lives. They were an innocent substitute. Though animal sacrifices served as a temporary covering for sin, the Levitical sacrificial system pointed to the perfect once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The following noteworthy excerpt was taken from this study:

         It might also be interesting to point out that Jewish commentators in centuries past recognized Isaiah 53 as being a Messianic prophecy (along with the substitutionary language contained therein). Following are a few quotes from an article by Jews for Jesus titled Jewish Messianic Interpretations of Isaiah 53:

         Ruth Rabbah 5:6

         The fifth interpretation [of Ruth 2:14] makes it refer to the Messiah. Come hither: approach to royal state. And eat of the BREAD refers to the bread of royalty; AND DIP THY MORSEL IN THE VINEGAR refers to his sufferings, as it is said, But he was wounded because of our transgressions. (Isa. LIII, 5).

          Soncino Midrash Rabbah (vol. 8, p. 64).

         "Another statement from Yefeth ben Ali (10th c.):

         By the words “surely he hath carried our sicknesses,” they mean that the pains and sickness which he fell into were merited by them, but that he bore them instead. . . . And here I think it necessary to pause for a few moments, in order to explain why God caused these sicknesses to attach themselves to the Messiah for the sake of Israel. . . . The nation deserved from God greater punishment than that which actually came upon them, but not being strong enough to bear it. . . God appoints his servant to carry their sins, and by doing so lighten their punishment in order that Israel might not be completely exterminated." (
Driver and Neubauer, pp. 23 ff.; Soloff pp. 108-109)

         "Herz Homberg (18th-19th c.):

         The fact is, that it refers to the King Messiah, who will come in the latter days, when it will be the Lord’s good pleasure to redeem Israel from among the different nations of the earth…..Whatever he underwent was in consequence of their own transgression, the Lord having chosen him to be a trespass-offering, like the scape-goat which bore all the iniquities of the house of Israel." (Driver and Neubauer, p. 400-401)

Friday, December 28, 2018

How Catholic Apologists Deal With The Thief On The Cross

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled The Good Thief and Bad (Protestant) Apologetics, which is a rejoinder to the common citation of Luke 23:39-43 as a proof text for Sola Fide. We begin this critique with a quote from the author:

          "We don’t know his faith background, e.g., if he was ever baptized in the past or if this was his first time meeting Jesus. His prayer “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” shows he had some knowledge of the Gospel, since no such “kingdom” details are given in this passage."

          There is a possibility that the repentant thief on the cross was either baptized or unbaptized. All that we can really do on this matter is speculate. Although the importance of baptism cannot be minimized, the grace and forgiveness of God is not restricted to a set of rituals.

          By the way, a lot of the folks who say that the criminal did not need to be baptized due to being under the Old Covenant would simultaneously argue that Nicodemus needed baptism for salvation (John 3:5), who was also under the Old Covenant. That is a glaring logical inconsistency.

          "Terms such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are not used in this passage, so there’s no reason to think ‘faith alone’ is even the focus, just as the Parable of the Pharisee & Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14) doesn’t use such terms, but rather highlights the virtue of “humility”.

          So what good works did the thief on the cross do for salvation? While he did have a penitent heart, all that we see from the text of Scripture is him placing his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Humility is not a work, but a state of heart.

          As for the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Christ was clearly addressing self-righteous individuals. The tax collector humbly believed on God for salvation, whereas the Pharisee relied on his own efforts to please Him. The first went home justified, whereas the latter was not. How can one deny that this parable is about salvation and the forgiveness of God?

          "In fact, we see a range of virtues being expressed here, including ‘Fear of the Lord’ (23:40; cf Prov 1:7), Repentance (which Jesus distinguishes from belief, see Mark 1:5), Warning Sinners (2 Thess 3:14b), Public Professing (John 10:42; Rom 10:10b), as well as Hope of going to Heaven and certainly Love for Jesus. The thief was even willing to suffer and die for his own sins, not to be freed from them, which means he carried his own cross (Lk 9:23). So this was *far from* faith alone."

          Well, it is not as though God has prescribed the various virtues that the author listed in the quoted excerpt above as being requirements (with the exception being repentance--how can a person be saved if he or she does not recognize the need of a Savior?) for salvation. They are evidence of a saving faith in Jesus Christ. They describe who we are as believers. These things should all stem forth from a love of God and gratitude for the atonement that he has made on our behalf. Repentance is not a work, but a change in heart. It appears that the author is attacking some sort of watered-down concept of faith, and has a deficient view on the nature of Christ's atonement.

          "This was a unique situation, it isn’t the norm for how people typically accept the Gospel (see Acts for the norm), and as such it has its limits. For example, Jesus had not yet Resurrected, Ascended, or sent the Holy Spirit yet, so Dismas probably didn’t profess faith in these, whereas these aspects of Jesus’ mission are required for us to profess (Rom 10:9b). Even the command to “baptize all nations” wasn’t even given until *after* Jesus resurrected (Matt 28:19), so pointing to this as an example of ‘not needing baptism’ is kind of moot. "

          The "norm" that we observe in the New Testament is people believing on the gospel before getting baptized. And the fact that that the thief on the cross did not know of the resurrection or the Great Commission is irrelevant. If we are capable of adding our own works to the sacrifice of Christ, then He must have died in vain (Galatians 2:16-21).

           "Plus, can we take this one example as an excuse to ‘not really have to’ obey the many teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, including getting baptized, gathering to worship with others, being subject to your pastor, sharing our possessions, etc?"

           Talk about a classic example of a straw man fallacy! If a person gets saved, then his or her heart will be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Structure Of Atoms

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

Let’s go back to the very first moment that the supposed Big Bang took place. Evolutionists say that at that very first moment, everything was up to chance. The size and charge of electrons, protons, the structure of atoms or whether they would even exist could have been anything.

Now let’s move forward to what we actually know about the various atoms and their structure. Life as we know it is based on the carbon atom. Its structure makes it the only atom with almost unlimited ability to share pairs of electrons with other atoms. This makes possible the rich range of biological molecules needed for life. No other atom can do carbon’s job. The oxygen atom’s structure causes it to bind together in pairs. This type of bonding leaves unpaired electrons that allow oxygen to bind with iron. This feature makes hemoglobin capable of carrying oxygen in the blood. There are several other atoms that could replace iron in hemoglobin, but they would hold the oxygen either too tightly or too loosely. So there are no substitutes for iron. Likewise, the zinc atom is the only atom that can allow proteins to do the crucial job of identifying their own unique DNA sites.

The precise structure of atoms was clearly not the result of chance. Each was carefully designed by the Creator to support the life He would form only days after He made the atoms.

https://www.creationmoments.com/sermons/structure-of-atoms-3/

Thursday, December 27, 2018

We Are Back In Rome

"Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788) said that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end: first, a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, affluence); second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor (this could be among countries in the family of nations as well as in a single nation); third, an obsession with sex; fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; fifth, an increased desire to live off the state. It all sounds so familiar. We have come a long road since our first chapter, and we are back in Rome."

Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?, p.227 (1976)

Does The Sermon On The Mount Nullify "Faith Alone"?

  • Discussion:
           -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled A Powerful Verse Against Faith Alone (Matt 7:14), making the following claim:

           "Catholics love the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew ch5-7) but Protestants generally avoid it, since it doesn't fit with their ideas of how salvation is supposed to take place."

           Before we begin this critique, the question of why the author would make such a claim needs to be answered. He cites Matthew 7:13-14 as his proof text, and asks these rhetorical questions:

           "But given the above teaching of Jesus, what is so "difficult" about the Faith Alone approach? What is so "narrow" path about it? Why are "few" saved if all they need to do is believe?"

           The Sermon on the Mount is about adhering to the spirit of the Law, not just the letter. God does not merely examine behavior, but the heart. People practice various sins because their hearts are already dedicated to unrighteousness (Matthew 5:21-28). Our deeds are the evidence of what is taking place in our hearts. Jesus obviously had the self-righteous, hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees in mind when He gave this sobering speech (Matthew 5:20). He is providing a description of what His true disciples will be like. The "narrow path" is "difficult" because it flies right in the face of everything our sinful nature prompts us to do. Salvation can only be found in Christ. Everybody who asks can receive eternal life (Matthew 7:7-8). Trusting in Christ is "easy" (Matthew 11:28-29). The moment of conversion is not to be conflated with following Jesus on a daily basis.

           Notice that all the world religions teach various forms of works-salvation. All the man-made religions require that adherents work their way to heaven. A unique characteristic of the Judeo-Christian worldview is that it upholds justification in the sight of God to be obtained by His grace through our faith in the finished work of His Son Jesus Christ. A sinful tendency of man is to boast over his accomplishments. Thus, works must be excluded from justification (Ephesians 2:8-9). This conflicts with man's sinful inclination. The doctrine of Sola Fide enforces humility because it rightfully gives all the credit to God alone.

           "Protestants typically 'interpret' the teachings of Jesus as being either (1) meant for Old Testament folks alone, or (2) simply to show us how sinful we are, not to actually impose any commands or expectations upon us. Such is quite absurd, and effectively renders the Gospels hollow."

           Surely, we can all benefit considerably from studying the Sermon on the Mount. It gives clear instructions as to how we can live a life of godliness and utilize discernment in our spiritual walk. Our good works are the product of a changed heart. Our principle care and focus in this life should be on getting to heaven. The only way for us to get saved is by trusting in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our chief concern in this life should be on proclaiming the gospel. We should be continually pursuing after God's righteousness. No person who has a biblically solid worldview would ever claim that following Jesus is optional. It is not as though Jesus here is prescribing sacraments for salvation or some monastic vows. The Sermon on the Mount does absolutely nothing to refute Sola Fide.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Is Ephesians 3:10 A Proof Text For The Infallibility Of The Roman Catholic Church?

  • Discussion:
           -The Roman Catholic Church has leveled a plethora of criticisms against the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, many of which have already been addressed on this blog. Nonetheless, another argument used by some Catholic apologists is based on their interpretation of this verse from Ephesians:

           "so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 3:10)

           It is claimed that this passage of Scripture supports the notion of God infallibly making known truth exclusively through a complex church hierarchy (a rank of Catholic priests and bishops). But does such an interpretation resonate with Paul's thinking in context?

           This verse is simply telling us that the underlying point in God redeeming the church is to demonstrate His splendor and majesty to the entirety of creation. The church exists to proclaim the staggering richness of His wisdom through sharing the gospel. His wisdom transcends that of the crafty. His glory transcends that of the wealthy.

           The fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers (as is indicated by their spiritual unity in Christ and His fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant) serves as a reminder to the devil and his angels of being conquered. The peace and unity in the truth among Christians is powerful attestation to God's glory throughout creation. Christians should love one another and the truth of His Word. Nowhere in context does the author assert that divine revelation is given to us through some sort of infallible interpreter.

           The infallibility of Scripture is not dependent upon the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Scripture is infallible because it was originally breathed out by God. In other words, it is inherently infallible. The Holy Spirit moved fallible men to pen infallible writings. He conforms in our hearts the objective internal and external evidences supporting the reliability of the Bible, which are numerous.

           The basic assumption of Roman Catholic apologists is that the Roman Catholic Church is true because it said so. That is a fideistic approach. We should not handle matters in a blind fashion. We are called to exercise discernment in our walk with the Lord (Ephesians 5:17). It appears that Roman Catholics have simply read the concept of an infallible church hierarchy into the text of Ephesians 3:10.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Biblical Showstopper For The Catholic Eucharist

  • Discussion:
           -The Roman Catholic Church maintains that its priests have the power to transform ordinary bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, we are told in the New Testament that the Lord does not dwell in places made by human hands:

           "However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool of My feet; what kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord, ‘Or what place is there for My repose?" (Acts 7:48-49)

           "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things." (Acts 17:24-25)

           If God does not dwell in places such as tabernacles or synagogues (where animal sacrifices are performed), then the Eucharist is just an ordinary peace of bread and priests do not have the power to transubstantiate the communion elements. 

          We are also told in the New Testament that we need not think of God as being a material object:

          "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man." (Acts 17:29)

           Is not the Eucharist wafer manna, which is material? The bread and wine used in the Mass can at most be considered an image of Jesus Christ. God the Son ascended into heaven above:

           "For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Hebrews 9:24)

           We have been commanded by Jesus Himself to not believe people when they claim that He is present in various locations:

           "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them." (Matthew 24:23-26)

           The above exhortation would most certainly be applicable to Roman Catholic priests, since they claim that Christ is brought into the presence of the attendees through the consecration of the bread and wine. This is sufficient proof that transubstantiation is a false doctrine.

Experiencing The Peace Of God

        "In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." (Luke 2:8-14)

        Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, was sent into this world for the purpose of expiating our infinite sin debt and consequently enabling us to have fellowship with God. Believers are to seek after His peace. Believers are to seek after His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33-34). We must rest in Him. The object of our trust must be the Lord. We must place our trust in the promises that He has given. We must align ourselves with His will. The peace that He gives is to rule over our lives. Having rest at heart is evidence of the Holy Spirit working within us. In fact, we are commanded in Scripture to do our best to make peace with our neighbors (Proverbs 25:8-10; Romans 12:18; 14:19). 

        If we refuse to be at peace, then we are not being spiritually minded. We are acting carnally. We are trusting in our own efforts. We are not submitting ourselves to God. Peace and anxiety cannot co-exist in the heart. True and lasting peace is impossible without spiritual conversion. Saying no to God's offer of peace will only result in our lives being filled with hopelessness. Saying no to God's offer of peace will only result in our lives being filled with joylessness. This supernatural peace is based on our assurance of having been reconciled to a holy God. A person's rejection of the gospel will only result in he or she being eternally separated from God.

        We are reconciled to Him by faith through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:18). We should share the peace that He has bestowed upon us with others. The Lord is the source and summit of peace. He is the foundation for all order. Even in the midst of trials, suffering, and conflict, Christians can rest assured that God has conquered the world. Christ is returning to establish everlasting peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Orwell And Huxley Revisited

"We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another — slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Word. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, “people are controlled by inflicting pain.” in Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Biblical Critique Of The New Apostolic Reformation

           There is a global movement taking place within Christendom known as the New Apostolic Reformation, which maintains that God restored the offices of prophet and apostle so as to fix the problems of humanity. The ideological founder of this group is the charismatic theologian C. Peter Wagner. It is maintained that a consequence of the fall was that man lost his dominion over creation, and that Christ came not only to pay for our sins but also enable Christians to regain possession of the world. The hundreds of unaffiliated, self-governing churches and organizations which comprise this movement have been for a few decades striving to acquire or secure control over every sphere of business, culture, and politics. Members of the New Apostolic Reformation claim that God is giving new revelations to so-called prophets and apostles to aid in the process of establishing the universal sovereignty of the church. 

           The New Apostolic Reformation is purportedly working to bring the kingdom of God to earth. It is also responsible for a large proportion of the church growth in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It has even infiltrated denominations, with the Assemblies of God in Australia being a prime example. In summary, the mission of various "apostolic networks" extends far beyond the preaching of the gospel and making disciples. Succinctly stated, the purpose of this essay is to address the claim that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted a five-fold ministry (i.e. neo-charismatic belief that all five offices mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-15 remain operative in contemporary Christianity).

           When considering the verses from Ephesians, it is important to note that the Apostle Paul wrote in the past tense. This is a reference to the apostles and prophets who were alive during the first century. The passage of Scripture being discussed is not suggesting a continuation of the two offices. In other words, it is not saying that God is giving or will assign apostles and prophets. They were a part of the church's foundation, with Christ being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5). Christ completed His propitiatory work. The apostles and prophets delivered to us divine revelation. Moreover, Scripture speaks of the performance of miracles in the past tense (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4). The apostles and prophets are still edifying believers through their writings, which are self-sufficient (2 Timothy 3:15-17). God has now spoken to believers through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). The faith has "once for all" been given to the saints (Jude 3). Cults throughout history have made identical claims of receiving revelation from God.

           Nobody today can rightly claim to be an apostle, as is evidenced by looking at the qualifications necessary for one to obtain such an authoritative office. In order to qualify as an apostle, a person would have to be a direct eyewitness to the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 9:1). In order to qualify as an apostle, a person would have been personally instructed by Christ (Luke 24:45; John 14:26; 16:13-14; Acts 1:2). Paul said he was the last appointed apostle (1 Corinthians 15:8). Therefore, this criterion is impossible to fulfill in modern times. Nobody wields the same authority today. Unlike the ministry of Christ and the twelve apostles, there are no verifiable miraculous accounts giving credence to the self-proclaimed apostles and prophets of this movement. Also, the prophetic utterances given are vague, subject to reinterpretation. Those who believe in the restoration of the five-fold ministry tend to teach that the so-called prophets and apostles deserve unquestioning acceptance, which is inconsistent with scriptural principles (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8-9). Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:21-22 lays out four guidelines as to what we should watch for when testing so-called prophets:

            * The utterance does not come to pass.
            * The utterance contradicts divine revelation.
            * The moral character of the person giving an utterance is inconsistent with office of profession.
            * The utterance exalts self, rather than God.

          Surely, this doctrinal test is quite problematical for all the self-proclaimed prophets in the New Apostolic Reformation, or any group that has a charismatic leader. There are literally no well-documented prophecies and miracles that these people can show us to demonstrate the validity of their ministries. If the Bible is already complete revelation from God, then why would we need prophets in the first place?

           Furthermore, the notion of the church bringing the kingdom of God into this world expressly contradicts biblical teaching. Jesus emphatically stated that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The Kingdom of God is not a worldly kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom (Luke 17:20-21). His kingdom is not based on diplomatic relations. His kingdom does not require the approval of sinners. Scripture tells us that in the later days wicked men shall wax themselves worse (1 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:13-14), not that matters will improve. It is the Holy Spirit that stimulates conversion of the human heart. Our mission as Christians is to present the unblemished gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). What the church needs to be preaching is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That is the good news of salvation, which is not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We must entrust ourselves entirely to the power of God, who is working all things out to His eternal glory. Our undivided attention belongs to Him. We need not heed to subjective New Age occultism, but the objective Word of God. The New Apostolic Reformation is a significant source of aberrant doctrine. To make matters even worse, this movement has its own horrendously corrupt Passion Translation.

Logical Thinking Is Hindered

"When your mind has been so seared by acceptance of evil that you condone amputation of healthy body parts, it's not surprising that your ability to think logically is hindered. If you start with the premise that radical mutilation of the body is an acceptable practice ... you shouldn't be surprised to find it applied in ways that are different, yet equally disturbing."

Joe Carter, "The Diabolic Logic of Transableism", The Gospel Coalition, 6/5/15.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Answering The Mormon Claim Of Total Apostasy

  • Introduction:
          -Mormonism: a religious cult that was founded by Joseph Smith in the woods of Palmyra, New York in the year 1821. He claimed that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him to establish a completely new church. In other words, he had visions that told him to start a new religion.
          -Smith claimed that the "Angel Moroni" gave him some golden "Nephi Plates" so that he could translate them into English. This religious text is known as the Book of Mormon. The three other religious texts use by the Mormons are the King James Version, Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
          -The Mormon Church claims that the entire Christian church and the Bible have been totally corrupted. Thus, its alleged purpose is to restore the church back to the original teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles.
  • Is A Total Apostasy Of The Christian Church Possible?:
          -The Lord Jesus Christ specifically taught that the gates of hell would never prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). Paul said that God would be eternally glorified in Christ and His saints (Ephesians 3:21). If the Mormon Church is correct, then God must be a liar. May that never be. God has always preserved His faithful remnant. While the Bible does speak of apostasy, it nowhere mentions a total apostasy.
          -The Words of the Lord are incorruptible. His Word shall endure forever (Isaiah 40:8; Proverbs 30:5-6; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). It is simply not possible for the Bible to be lost and forgotten. Those who present strange doctrine are to be deemed heretics (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 John 9-11). The faith has been delivered to the saints "once for all" (Jude 3). Thus, there is no need for new revelations. Angelic visions are not an acceptable method of drawing attention to oneself (Colossians 2:18).
          -The Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:8-9 wrote a categorical condemnation of any different gospels that could arise in the future after his death. He even issued an anathema to angels who could theoretically arrive to preach differently from the doctrine originally delivered by the apostles. So, even granting that Joseph Smith had an encounter with the Angel Moroni, Mormonism is a false religion because it preaches a different message of salvation. According to Paul, another gospel is no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7). The gospel never needed to be restored because it was never lost to begin with. Mormon revelation is not of divine but human origin. The simple, true gospel involves placing trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone. We are not saved by obeying various laws, ordinances, and attending temple ceremonies.
          -It is one thing to say that the church has become unrecognizably dirty throughout history, but it is quite another to claim that the church disappeared completely from the face of the earth. The possibility of such a claim is ruled out by Scripture itself. 
  • The Mormon Claim Of Being The Complete Restoration Of Lost Truth Is Unfounded:
          -An essential question that needs to be addressed is, "When did the Christian church go into the state of total apostasy?" There has always been a unanimous consensus on what constitutes the essential doctrines of the Christian faith in the earliest church creeds. The New Testament is supported by thousands of different manuscripts. It is almost one hundred percent textually pure. The creed summarizing the gospel message that the Apostle Paul recounted in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 has been dated back to the first century, thereby proving that the gospel has not been lost or altered.
          -Why would Mormons use the Bible at all, since they maintain that the whole of Christianity was lost in the first century and the canon was assembled (along with the King James Version being produced in the seventeenth century) by an allegedly apostate church? Which parts of the Bible have been corrupted?
          -If any of Joseph Smith's claims regarding the alleged total apostasy of Christendom were true, then he should have been able to give an extensive list of all of the original teachings of Jesus Christ, where every denomination had went wrong, provide the exact date of when Christianity went extinct, and go back to the original teachings of Jesus and the apostles. He should have been able to refer to established facts, writings, history, etc. However, Joseph Smith never took the time to verify any of his claims.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

An Inconsistency In Muslim Logic

  • Discussion:
          -Following is an excerpt from a tract titled "The Bible God's Word Or Not God's Word The Islamic Dilemma":
          "In Surah 29:46, the Quran commands Muslims to say to Christians, "We believe in what has been sent down to us and what has been sent down to you, and our God and your God is one, and we are all Muslims to Him."

          Yet many Muslims say something very different to Christians. They say, "We don't believe in your book, because it's been corrupted and your God is a false god." If Muslims are commanded to say that they believe in what has been revealed to us, why do they instead say that they don't believe in the Bible, the only revelation we have? And if they're commanded to say that our God and their god is one, why do they instead say that our God is a false god?"

A Micro-Refutation Of Mormonism

  • Discussion:
          -Joseph Smith claimed to have received divine revelation from God to establish a new sect that possesses the fullness of allegedly lost truth. This encounter is described as a face to face dialogue between this so-called prophet and God the Father and God the Son. At this point, consider the words spoken by the Lord to Moses in the Old Testament:

          "And he said, Please, show me Your glory. Then He said, I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But He said, You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live. And the Lord said, Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:18-23)

          What can be derived from the above quoted passage of Scripture is that no man in his sinful nature can look into the fullness of God's glory and survive. Also, the New Testament tells us that no man alive on this earth has seen God the Father:

          "Which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

          The mere fact that Joseph Smith came out of the woods walking and talking testifies to the falseness of his claims. In other words, the man is a liar and a deceiver. He received no divine revelation from God. Mormonism is based on utter falsehood.

Logical Flaws Of Buddhism And Hinduism

"Buddhism and Hinduism, currently in vogue among many Westerners, are both directly concerned with humanity's discontentment and have similar prescriptions to the problem of desire. 

For example, "The Four Noble Truths" of Buddhism (arguably the central teaching of that religion) address the problem of humanity's unfulfilled longing explicitly. The first truth is that life lacks satisfaction. While people may find happiness for a moment here and there, it is always fleeting. Everything changes and so nothing keeps us content. The second truth is that we are dissatisfied because we crave and cleave and thirst. We need to get rid of that desire, which is the result of ignorance. The problem is that we see a distinction between ourselves and the thing we desire. We think that the things of the world will add something to our lives if we could only attach ourselves to them. All is one. To desire something is to mistakenly think that you exist independently from the thing you desire. The third and fourth truths teach how to reach a level of experience in which you "realize emptiness" and cease to desire anything, largely because there ceases to be a "you" to do anything at all. All distinctions are gone.

Hinduism, for its part, similarly teaches that the goal of its various paths and stages of life is "liberation" from the desires of life and union with the divine. Although it recognizes that people can legitimately give themselves to lesser goals...ultimately the goal is to escape worldly pursuits and the worldly cycle of death and rebirth to enter Nirvana, where these desires will be no more.

In discussing and evaluating these positions, I usually emphasize the logical ramifications of the teaching that all distinctions are illusions. If everything is actually one, not only are you not different from the thing you desire, you are no different than me or that tree over there. Personhood is an illusion...No one lives as if that is true. Also, this teaching means that there is no such thing as good or evil, as those distinctions are illusory as well.,,those worldviews explain away a plain sense interpretation of our most basic experiences (i.e. , being different from a rock, judging Hitler as evil) as illusions, Christianity accepts them as valid and correct."

Donald J. Johnson, How to Talk to a Skeptic, pg. 203-205

Monday, December 17, 2018

Is The Watchtower Society Correct In Asserting That Jesus Was Created?

  • Discussion:
          -Following is an excerpt from a Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Publication:

          "God created Jesus before creating Adam. In fact, God created Jesus and then used him to make everything else, including the angels."

          According to Scripture, the above excerpt is an outright lie:

          "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself." (Isaiah 44:24)

          "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?" (Malachi 2:10)

          In other words, God created the universe on His own. No created entities worked alongside Him in the process. Jesus Christ is not a created being, but the second person of the triune God. He is the creator of everything (Colossians 1:16). He is holding everything together. He is preeminent in all things. There are multiple lines of biblical evidence proving that Jesus is God in the flesh.

          Consider, for example, the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah 12:10. God spoke of Himself as being "pierced" through the prophet. In the New Testament, Christ was "pierced" in the side while on the cross (John 19:36-37). Revelation 1:7 also alludes to the text from Zechariah. Isaiah 53:5 also prophetically speaks of the Messiah being pierced. An immaterial God cannot be pierced, except if He takes on human flesh. What is very telling is this excerpt from Watchtower literature:

          "From time to time, there have arisen from among the ranks of Jehovah's people those, who, like the original Satan, have adopted an independent, faultfinding attitude...They say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such 'Bible reading,' they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom's clergy were teaching 100 years ago." (Watchtower, Aug. 15, 1981)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Biblical Dilemma For Roman Catholic Mariology

  • Discussion:
          -The Roman Catholic Church believes that Mary was conceived immaculately and a perpetual virgin. Yet, an inescapable dilemma arises in the process of upholding the two dogmas. Consider the following passage of Scripture:

         "But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)

         If Mary refused to have marital relations with her husband Joseph, then she would be guilty of sin. In order to remain consistent, a Catholic would either have to reject the notion of her remaining a virgin for her entire life or her sinlessness. Both cannot be true at the same time.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Repulsiveness Of Eugenics

"Voices haunt the pages of every book. This particular book, however, speaks for the never-born, for those whose questions have never been heard—for those who never existed.

Throughout the first six decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans and untold numbers of others were not permitted to continue their families by reproducing. Selected because of their ancestry, national origin, race or religion, they were forcibly sterilized, wrongly committed to mental institutions where they died in great numbers, prohibited from marrying, and sometimes even unmarried by state bureaucrats. In America, this battle to wipe out whole ethnic groups was fought not by armies with guns nor by hate sects at the margins. Rather, this pernicious white-gloved war was prosecuted by esteemed professors, elite universities, wealthy industrialists and government officials colluding in a racist, pseudoscientific movement called eugenics. The purpose: create a superior Nordic race.

To perpetuate the campaign, widespread academic fraud combined with almost unlimited corporate philanthropy to establish the biological rationales for persecution. Employing a hazy amalgam of guesswork, gossip, falsified information and polysyllabic academic arrogance, the eugenics movement slowly constructed a national bureaucratic and juridical infrastructure to cleanse America of its “unfit.” Specious intelligence tests, colloquially known as IQ tests, were invented to justify incarceration of a group labeled “feebleminded.” Often the so-called feebleminded were just shy, too good-natured to be taken seriously, or simply spoke the wrong language or were the wrong color. Mandatory sterilization laws were enacted in some twenty-seven states to prevent targeted individuals from reproducing more of their kind. Marriage prohibition laws proliferated throughout the country to stop race mixing. Collusive litigation was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sanctified eugenics and its tactics.

The goal was to immediately sterilize fourteen million people in the United States and millions more worldwide—the “lower tenth”—and then continuously eradicate the remaining lowest tenth until only a pure Nordic super race remained. Ultimately, some 60,000 Americans were coercively sterilized and the total is probably much higher. No one knows how many marriages were thwarted by state felony statutes. Although much of the persecution was simply racism, ethnic hatred and academic elitism, eugenics wore the mantle of respectable science to mask its true character.

The victims of eugenics were poor urban dwellers and rural “white trash” from New England to California, immigrants from across Europe, Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Native Americans, epileptics, alcoholics, petty criminals, the mentally ill and anyone else who did not resemble the blond and blue-eyed Nordic ideal the eugenics movement glorified. Eugenics contaminated many otherwise worthy social, medical and educational causes from the birth control movement to the development of psychology to urban sanitation. Psychologists persecuted their patients. Teachers stigmatized their students. Charitable associations clamored to send those in need of help to lethal chambers they hoped would be constructed. Immigration assistance bureaus connived to send the most needy to sterilization mills. Leaders of the ophthalmology profession conducted a long and chilling political campaign to round up and coercively sterilize every relative of every American with a vision problem. All of this churned throughout America years before the Third Reich rose in Germany."

Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Is Your Sin Beyond The Forgiveness Of God?

        There is a number of Christians who feel burdened and disheartened in their walk with God as a result of previous shortcomings in their lives. There is a number of Christians who feel guilty on a constant basis for sins committed in the past, seemingly unable to find joy in the forgiveness that He provides. There are Christians who feel hopeless, utterly beyond the point of redemption. Indeed, the fact that we cannot change our past is a difficult pill to swallow. A basic fact of life is that all decisions have consequences. However, this does not mean that all hope is lost.

        We do have the present, and can work to change our future with God's help. He does love us. No transgression is beyond His forgiveness. The salvation that He gives is complete, and without cost. We simply must ask Him to pardon our iniquity, even though it may be difficult or awkward to do so. We must trust Him at His Word. Our problem is sin, which is rebellion against God. It cannot simply be left unaccounted for. Sin has to be judged. That is the reason Christ came to offer Himself up as an atonement sacrifice. He paid an infinite ransom on our behalf, thereby enabling our redemption. This act in itself demonstrates the unfathomable depths of God's love for mankind. Consider the inspired words of King David the psalmist:

         "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:8-14)

         Those words came from a man who was guilty of murder and adultery. If the Lord did not have compassion for sinners, then He would simply not pardon our iniquity. He is not under obligation to save us. Nobody is deserving of His salvation. We are justified by faith, not works. The mercy of God has no limits. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses believers from every sin. Nonetheless, these truths should not be taken lightly. Christ came to earth so that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness could live life more abundantly (John 10:10). We must turn to Him. We must entrust ourselves to Him. If one is still struggling with how God could possibly forgive his or her sins after reading all this, then he or she needs to consider the notorious example of the Apostle Paul:

         "I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

         If Paul could be saved, then so can anybody else who calls upon the name of the Lord. And it was that same man who uttered these refreshing words:

         "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:34-39)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Signs Of A Spiritually Abusive Religion Or Religious Leader

"Abusive: Coerces obedience with power, manipulation, domination and fear.

Healthy: Leads the flock in his care with a servant’s heart and seeks cooperation and fellowship (Mk.9:35)

Abusive: Uses the Bible for his own purposes, i.e., to control and dominate the flock.

Healthy: Uses biblical doctrines in teaching and encourages the flock to do their own personal Bible study and study in groups.

Abusive: Has rigid or overly-enmeshed boundaries, and the members of the church are closed off from other groups.

Healthy: Has appropriate boundaries with members of the church. Doesn’t try to become enmeshed in their lives or cut them off from other Christians.

Abusive: May be narcissistic and believe that he knows what God thinks and may even see himself as “God’s mouthpiece.” Authority goes from the top down.

Healthy: Knows that God works through the Holy Spirit in each believer to give us discernment; accountability goes both ways.

Abusive: Sees itself as the only “true” church; has black and white thinking - us vs. wrong (the others are wrong).

Healthy: All those who have accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross, without need for personal performance, are brothers and sisters in the Lord. There are not “superior” believers; all believers are equally loved by God (Romans 8:1).

Abusive: Promotes legalism and perfectionism. This gives the leader ability to control people by their fears of not being saved and going to hell.

Healthy: Knows that the Christian is saved by grace through faith and salvation cannot be earned by one’s behavior (Eph. 2:8-9).

Abusive: Has obsession with discipline in which those who disagree are shunned, censured or expelled from the church. Leader expects to be obeyed because he has “the mind of Christ.”... Many sins are tolerated if a person is a loyal tithe-paying member.

Healthy: If the individual has erred, he confesses the sin and receives forgiveness (1 Jn.1:9). Believers are not shunned or expelled for disagreements on non essential matters of faith.

Abusive: Encourages “group think” by using rules and regulations that are constantly repeated, taught and reinforced by church literature, classes and teaching from the pulpit.

Healthy: Encourages the Bible as truth, does not obsess about rules and regulations, but focuses on helping individuals grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Abusive: Believes the end justifies any means. The denomination sponsors community events and public activities without saying who they are in order to gain proselytes. Immoral or criminal conduct on the part of a leader may be covered up for the sake of “the mission”....

Healthy: If the end that is desired is not consistent with God’s Word, then no means will be acceptable.

Abusive: Uses end-time events to promote its own eschatology. Eschatology itself isn’t wrong, but when the leaders use end time teaching to control the flock by promoting fear and anxiety, isolation from other Christians, perfectionistic behavior, uncertainty about salvation and “extra-biblical” teachings, they are in error. There may be an obsession with calculating the dates, situations or events that predict Jesus’ return...

Healthy: Teaches that no one knows the time of Jesus’ coming (Mk. 13:32).

Abusive: Uses insider double-talk with a confusing doctrine. The group encourages blind acceptance of its opposing teachings and rejection of logic through complex presentations on incomprehensible doctrines.

Healthy: The Bible is the doctrine upon which teachings are based; other ancillary teaching texts must be consistent with biblical truth."

Life Assurance Ministries, VOLUME 13, ISSUE 4

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Swedish Professor Under Investigation For Saying Men And Women Are Biologically Different

"A Swedish university professor is being investigated for making the comment that there are biological differences between men and women. Lund University neurophysiology professor Germund Hesslow was accused by a student of making “transphobic” and “anti-feminist” statements in a lecture, and though the school has asked him to recant, Hesslow is refusing.

During a lecture in his course on ‘Heritage and Environment’, Hesslow cited research that supports the idea that there are differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” concluding that for that reason genders cannot be regarded as merely “social constructs.”

After the lecture was over a female student complained to the department suggesting that Hesslow’s comments went against Swedish values which require all schools in Sweden to adhere to an ethical policy, which upholds egalitarian values, individual freedom and equality of the sexes.

Hesslow [said], some students, “for ideological reasons,” don't like to hear certain scientific facts about biological differences between men and women.

Reportedly, the comments were not necessarily tied to the course material but were prompted by a question asked by a student during the lecture.

According to Academic Rights Watch, Hesslow met with the chairman of the program board for medical education Christer Larsson, and was told that the student claimed he spoke on his “personal anti-feminist agenda.”

Hesslow has refused to recant his statements saying “At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether.”

He said, “Ideology, politics and prejudice form the conventional outlook, not science.”

Kayla Koslosky, “Swedish Professor Under Investigation for Saying Men and Women Are Biologically Different,” ChristianHeadlines Online, September 19, 2018

Why Be Transgender?

"My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy.

Next Thursday, I will get a vagina. The procedure will last around six hours, and I will be in recovery for at least three months. Until the day I die, my body will regard the vagina as a wound; as a result, it will require regular, painful attention to maintain. This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier. In fact, I don’t expect it to. 

I was not suicidal before hormones. Now I often am."

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/24/opinion/sunday/vaginoplasty-transgender-medicine.html

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Roman Catholic Apologist De Maria's Peculiar Interpretation Of Romans 4

  • Discussion:
          -Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to rebut the claims made by Roman Catholic apologist De Maria on Romans 4. In summary, he believes that this text is a reference to the sacraments. As with the last article, we begin this critique with a quotation from the author:

          "Genesis 26:5 
          Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

          And this ties the Catholic back to Abraham. We also work because of our faith in God. "

          Our faith enables us to be pleasing to God. Our good works are rooted in our faith. Our good works are the product of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts. So, the quoted excerpt has an element of truth to it. But there is nothing particularly Roman Catholic about this.

          "2 Corinthians 5:18
          And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

          No one can deny that David did many works. But here, in his confession, all he did was believe in God's mercy. That is what Catholics do when we attend the Sacraments."

          This harmonization of the "sacraments" is abruptly introduced. It is simply pulled out of thin air. Nowhere does Paul in Scripture justify or necessitate such an interpretation. The "ministry of reconciliation" is a reference to his own ministry of apostleship. He endured burdens, and those all had a purpose.

           "That pretty much repeats what I just said. We, like Abraham, believe and are imputed righteousness, in the Sacraments of Jesus Christ."

           "Imputation" is not dependent upon sacraments. The onus is on De Maria to validate his reasoning. There is also a "negative" aspect to this. Even granting that the author's premise is true, there is no evidence suggesting that a lack of sacraments would inhibit imputation.

           "So, even though they did everything by faith which they were supposed to do, they did not inherit the promise UNTIL Jesus died upon the Cross and established the Sacraments with His Blood."

           All the aforementioned comments apply here. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the seven sacraments. Where in the Bible does that occur? Various Catholic "proof-texts" can be analyzed by consulting context and up to date commentaries which employ proper hermeneutics. The concept of a sacrament has merely been "read into" those passages. The fallacy of anachronism is without a doubt committed in the process.

           "There was no ministry of reconciliation in the Old Testament. David's reconciliation was the exception and it was to show the blessedness to come. It was a foreshadowing of the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

           False. The prophets time and time again call Israel to repentance. The Old Testament is replete with examples of God calling Israel back to Him.

           "Again, this explains why Catholics are children of Abraham. Because we believe and it is counted to us righteousness in the Sacraments."

           There is no mention of sacraments anywhere in the inspired writings of the Apostle Paul. What is the origin of this concept, anyway? All that we have encountered thus far is mysticism, interwoven with subjective, irrational speculation. The problem is that God-ordained symbols have been overemphasized. It is foolish to claim that something is a symbol of itself. The forgiveness of God is not restricted to a set of rituals. The sacraments are a theological postulate that has yet to be corroborated by Scripture.

           There exists a certain sense of irony in claiming that faithful adherents of Rome are the children of Abraham. Roman Catholicism shares a glaringly obvious parallel with the Judaizers, who claimed that believers needed to revert to observing the Law in addition to trusting in the sacrificial work of Christ for salvation. Paul combated their errors vigorously in his day as he wrote an epistle to the Church of Galatia. The Roman Catholic Church holds that sacraments are necessary for salvation. Both groups mix Law with grace. Such was categorically condemned by the Apostle Paul as a false gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). There is no need for us to corrupt the simplicity that is found in Christ Jesus. We must place our trust in His work alone for salvation. See this article for more details:

            https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/04/does-church-of-rome-preach-different.html

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Roman Catholic Apologists Approach The Bible

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as interaction with a post written by Catholic apologist De Maria titled "Forgiveness of Sins", with the intention being to illustrate how defenders of Rome misuse the Bible to support their errant presuppositions. We begin with a quotation from the author:

          "Washing away one's sins must mean to "forgive their sins" in Baptism (Acts 22:16)."

          The Apostle Paul's recounting of his conversion before a Jewish council identifies the washing away of sins with calling on the name of the Lord. Consider also Romans 10:9-13. Even the grammatical structure of the verse renders the baptismal regeneration interpretation illogical.

          Note that Ananias, a disciple of Christ, called the man "Brother Saul" as he laid hands on him (Acts 22:13). This proves that Saul (renamed Paul by the Lord) was saved during his three days of blindness, which was prior to him being baptized.  

          The reason for the New Testament writers closely associating baptism with salvation is that partaking in such a ritual placed one at a much higher risk of being persecuted for the faith. Baptism was viewed as evidence of a person's willingness to undergo martyrdom for the Cause of Christ. It is representative of the changes that the Holy Spirit has begun to work in our hearts. These articles are of relevance to the discussion:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/04/water-baptism-according-to-bible.html

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/03/critiquing-roman-catholic-doctrine-of.html

           "I guess I can understand how they question the Sacrament of Confession as I don't see it explicitly in John 20:23. However, this is where the understanding of the Traditions is invaluable to me."

           The following article is an in depth treatment on the issue of confessing sins to a priest:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/05/is-confession-of-sins-to-priest-biblical.html

           The second sentence in the quoted excerpt above is telling, as it is quite subjective. More light is shed on the implications of that remark from one of the author's answers to a recent inquiry:

           "I rarely use Bibles for study. For study, the Catechism and the writings of the Saints are my favorite source."

            It is one thing to consult a commentary when reading Scripture, but it is an entirely different matter to be using uninspired materials as the basis for making sense of the inspired text. At this point, it is no wonder that De Maria refuses correction! Nonetheless, Scripture unambiguously admonishes against placing trust in man (Psalm 146:3; Jeremiah 17:5). The object of our faith should be God. Never mind the fact that people in Jewish culture literally saturated their minds on a daily basis with Scripture (Joshua 1:7-8; Psalm 1:2). Furthermore, the Gnostics were the first to deny the sufficiency of Scripture and claim to possess extra-biblical divine tradition.

            "Christ can wash away our sins through the ministry of reconciliation which He appointed to the Church (2 Corinthians 5:18)."

            The context of this passage nowhere makes mention of an ordained ministerial priesthood. The ministry of reconciliation simply refers to the preaching of the gospel.

             While certain aspects of the Roman Catholic seven sacraments are biblical, the idea that the grace of God can be imparted to us through rituals is unbiblical. Justification is not by works of righteousness, but by us placing our trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross (John 1:12; Romans 3:27-28; 4:2-8; Galatians 2:16; 21; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:16; etc.). Rituals do not contribute to our salvation. It is abundantly clear that the Roman Catholic Church has a man-centered theology. Scripture is oftentimes taken out of context. Philosophy is elevated far above proper biblical exegesis.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Thoughts On The Roman Catholic Latin Mass

  • Discussion:
          -The Roman Catholic Mass was organized and carried out completely in the Latin language from 1570 to 1965, leaving the average layman attendee clueless as to what was being said and done by the parish priest during the worship gatherings. After the change in procedure by the pope, the first Catholic congregations to hear the services in their respective vernacular tongue were the Irish. Notice, however, what the Apostle Paul said in the context of spiritual gifts:

          "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." (1 Corinthians 14:19)

          If leaving spoken tongues in the church undeciphered was not a good idea, then why would it have been reasonable for the Church of Rome to conduct all its worship services in Latin? Why were they all conducted in a language that virtually nobody could understand in the first place? No spiritual edification can take place in the midst of confusion. Even though the Mass no longer has to be spoken in Latin, this custom is implicitly erroneous by biblical standards. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

New Scientific Discovery Supports Bible's Adam And Eve Story, Science Writer Says

A "provocative and misunderstood" scientific study published this year supports the Bible's Adam and Eve story by demonstrating that all humans are descended from a common mother and father, a prominent science writer and public speaker claims.

Author Michael Guillen, president of Spectacular Science Productions, who has taught physics at Harvard and was a science editor for ABC News, commented on the scientific discovery from May regarding human ancestors in a Saturday op-ed for Fox News.

Summarizing the discovery, announced by a team of U.S. and Swiss scientists, Guillen wrote that "all humans alive today are the offspring of a common father and mother — an Adam and Eve — who walked the planet 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, which by evolutionary standards is like yesterday."

"Moreover, the same is true of nine out of every 10 animal species, meaning that nearly all of Earth’s creatures living today sprang into being recently from some seminal, Big Bang-like event," he added.

As Mark Stoeckle at Rockefeller University and David Thaler at the University of Basel explained back in May, they based their findings on analysis of DNA “bar codes” of 5 million animals from 100,000 different species.

“Experts have interpreted low genetic variation among living humans as a result of our recent expansion from a small population in which a sequence from one mother became the ancestor for all modern human mitochondrial sequences,” Thaler said back them.

“Our paper strengthens the argument that the low variation in the mitochondrial DNA of modern humans also explains the similar low variation found in over 90 percent of living animal species — we all likely originated by similar processes and most animal species are likely young.”


https://www.christianpost.com/news/new-scientific-discovery-supports-bibles-adam-and-eve-story-science-writer-says.html

The Twofold Nature Of The Isaiah 7:14 Prophecy

"The fulfillment of this prophecy may be two-fold. Because of the desperate situation which the people of Israel faced, God promised to give them a sign that would assure them that He would ultimately deliver His people out of bondage. Many scholars believe this sign came in two ways. First, it came as a sign of the physical deliverance of Israel from the bondage to which they were going under the invading Assyrians. Second, it came as a sign of the spiritual deliverance of all of God’s people from the spiritual bondage to Satan. The first aspect of the sign was fulfilled in the birth of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz as recorded in Isaiah 8:3. The second aspect of the sign was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem as recorded in the Gospels. 

The word translated “virgin” (almah) refers to a young maiden who has never had sexual relations with a man. The wife of Isaiah who bore the son in fulfillment of the first aspect of the prophecy was a virgin until she conceived by Isaiah. However, according to Matthew 1:23–25, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin even when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus. The physical conception and birth of the son of Isaiah was a sign to Israel that God would deliver them from physical bondage to the Assyrians. But, the supernatural conception and birth of the Son of God was a sign to all of God’s people that He would deliver them from spiritual bondage to sin and death."

Geisler, N. L., and Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (p. 267). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Virgin Birth—Or Prophetic Slip?

                                                     By AP Staff

One of the first miracles recorded in the New Testament is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. According to Matthew 1:22-23, Isaiah prophesied about the virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14. However, some in the scholarly community (particularly those within the atheistic and agnostic segments) deny that Isaiah was prophesying about a virgin birth. Isaiah 7:14 reads as follows in three separate translations:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (ASV, emp. added).

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (KJV, emp. added).

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman'u-el (RSV, emp. added).

The difficulty with the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 lies in the Revised Standard Version’s translation of the verse, which renders the Hebrew word ‘almâ as “young woman.” The American Standard and King James Versions render ‘almâ as “virgin.” If the correct translation of the verse is “ young woman,” then Matthew misquotes and misuses a section of Isaiah. According to Sam Gibson, a former-believer-turned-skeptic and author of the website Cygnus’ Study Debunking the Bible, the Bible cannot be true since, “there is not one prophecy in the Bible that cannot be explained away through rational, chronological, interpretive or other methods without relying on the supernatural” (2001). If Isaiah is not a prophecy at all, then others like Mr. Gibson will fall from Christianity, citing the Bible as unreliable.

Those who are opposed to the interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 as a prophetic passage referring to a virgin birth claim that ‘ almâ does not mean “virgin,” and that the word used exclusively for “ virgin” is the Hebrew word betûlâ. Both of these claims, however, are inaccurate. A careful look at the etymological and semantical aspects of these two words actually documents the fact that there is no single-word-meaning for either Hebrew term.

According to John Walton, one of the translations of ‘almâ is “young woman,” but there are certain nuances to the Hebrew term. After examining all occurrences of the word, and looking briefly at its etymology, Walton gave the lexigraphical definition of ‘almâ as “one who has not yet borne a child and as an abstraction refers to the adolescent expectation of motherhood.” In application to Isaiah 7:14, he admitted that virginity seemed to be implied (1997a, 3:415-418). As to the claim that, if Isaiah had meant virgin, he would have usedbetûlâ, Walton refutes that as well. He says that betûlâ is a “social status indicating that a young girl is under the guardianship of her father, with all the age and sexual inferences that accompany that status” (1997b, 1:783). If the passage was a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus, then betûlâ would not apply since Mary, while not yet married per se to Joseph, was nonetheless no longer under the guardianship of her father.

The Septuagint renders ‘almâ in Isaiah 7:14 as parthenos, which means “a female of marriageable age with focus on virginity” (Danker, 2000, p. 777). Concerning the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew, Dohmen noted:

It is unlikely that the LXX [Septuagint] tried to import the concept of a virgin birth, a familiar idea in many religious traditions, into Isa. 7:14. It is also possible that the unusual translation of the LXX is an attempt to accommodate the meaning of the text as altered by both the redaction and the reception of the original prophetic oracle (2001, 10:160, emp. added).

The translators of the Greek Septuagint rendered ‘almâ as parthenos, which generally means “virgin,” instead of neanis, which generally means “young woman” (Danker, p. 667). Jerome, in his translation of the Bible into Latin, rendered parthenos as virgo, which usually means “virgin” (Dohmen, 10:160). It is interesting that the translators of the Septuagint took the thought of the Hebrew passage and translated it into a Greek word for “virgin.” Since they worked about two hundred years before Christ was born, then the translators of the Septuagint could not have been trying to “fit” scripture to a Christian viewpoint, but instead were merely giving the correct translation for the passage. Of the passage in Isaiah 7:14, H.D.M. Spence and Joseph Exell made the following observations:

The rendering “virgin” has the support of the best modern Hebraists, as Lowth, Gesenius, Ewald, Delitzsch, Kay. It is observed with reason that unless ’almah is translated “virgin,” there is no announcement made worth of the grand prelude: “The Lord himself shall give you a sign—Behold!” The Hebrew, however, has not “a virgin” but “the virgin” (and so the Septuagint, h parthenos), which points to some special virgin, preeminent above all others (1962, 10:128, emp. in orig., italicized Greek words transliterated from Greek characters in orig.).

The point is well made that Isaiah was emphasizing a special birth, worthy of being considered a sign from God. With that in mind, the logical translation for ‘almâ is “virgin.”

Besides Isaiah 7:14, ‘almâ is used in Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalm 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, Song of Solomon 1:3 and 6:8. In an examination of the passages using the word ‘almâ, H.C. Leupold concluded that it “cannot be denied that such a one is to be classified as a virgin” (1988, 1:156). James Coffman drew an identical conclusion in his Commentary on Isaiah, citing Homer Hailey’s conclusion that the word ‘almâ , as used in the Old Testament, must be referring to a virgin (1990, p. 75). J. Gresham Machen, in his classic book, The Virgin Birth of Christ, indicated that “there is no place among the seven occurrences of ‘almah in the Old Testament where the word is clearly used of a woman who was not a virgin” (1980, p. 288).

In Genesis 24:43, the word ‘almâ refers to Rebekah, who we know from Genesis 24:16 was a virgin (which, incidentally, is designated by the term betûlâ). So here both betûlâ and ‘almâare used to refer to a virgin girl. In Exodus 2:8, ‘almâ refers to Miriam, the elder sister of Moses. There is nothing in scripture to indicate that his sister was married at that time. In fact, it appears that she was not married and still living at home; therefore, ‘almâ likely is referring to her virgin condition. The Psalm 68:25 reference uses ‘almâ to designate young girls who were playing timbrels in what appears to be a religious parade or ceremony. It is highly unlikely that these girls were not virgins, since it would be uncommon for either a married woman or an unchaste girl to be involved in such a procession. Proverbs 30:19 is a little harder to decipher, but it appears that it is referring to intercourse between a man and a woman. [“There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: the way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maiden.”] However, it is impossible to ascertain from the verse whether or not the woman was a virgin. From the context of Song of Solomon 1:3 (“Thine oils have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as oil poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee”), ‘almâ can refer only to a virgin. Song of Solomon 6:8 (“There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number”) also is obviously referring to virgins, as opposed to the queens and concubines who have lost their virginity.

In Matthew 1:18-25, the apostle Matthew provided a divinely inspired commentary, citing Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy fulfilled by the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:22-23, emp. added).

Therefore, the only conclusion that one can draw respecting the available evidence is that the Hebrew word ‘almâ, as used in Isaiah 7:14 and elsewhere in the Bible, is properly rendered “virgin.” The term does not always mean virgin in non-biblical writings, nor do analogous terms of other Semitic languages necessitate this translation. Nevertheless, in biblical usage, the only example that can be found is of a young woman whose virginity is intact. Leupold commented:

The translation “virgin,” therefore, deserves to be moved out of the margin [referring to the marginal translation of ‘almâ as “virgin” that the RSV gives] and into the text; and the translation “young woman” merits no more than marginal status (1988, 1:157).

While correct on certain other translation points, the translators of the RSV made an erroneous judgment in the case of Isaiah 7:14.

REFERENCES

Coffman, James Burton (1990), Commentary on Isaiah (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press).

Danker, Fredrick William (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Dohmen, C. (2001), “‘almâ, ‘elem,” Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 10:154-163.

Gibson, Sam (2001), “Cygnus’ Study—The Prophecy Challenge,” Cygnus’ Study Debunking the Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.cygnus-study.com/prophecy.shtml.

Leupold, H.C. (1988), Exposition of Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Machen, J. Gresham (1980), The Virgin Birth of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph Exell (1962), The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Walton, John (1997a), “‘alûmîm, ‘elem, ‘almâ,” New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 3:415-419.

Walton, John H. (1997b), “betûlâ,” New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 1:781-784.

http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=811