Tuesday, January 30, 2018

An Exegetical And Theological Analysis Of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

          According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, emphasis added)

          Paul tells his audience at Corinth that he was but a servant of God. It was His grace that worked through the apostle to bring about the conversion of people to Christianity at that city. Members of the church needed to focus their admiration on God rather than man. Paul was as an instrument being played at an orchestra. God used the apostles to grow His church. Compare the language of a master builder in verse ten to Proverbs 8:30.

          The reference to "the Day" is to the Day of Judgment. Compare with 1 Thessalonians 5:2-9. The "fire" reveals the truth as to the state of our lives and doctrine while alive on this earth. If the Christian's work withstands this testing, then he will receive praise from God (v. 14). Jesus Christ is the foundation of our salvation. Our good works are built on Him.

          God will evaluate the quality of every man's work. He will inspect both our actions and the motives behind those actions. Charity done with selfish ambitions in mind will not be accepted by Him. Paul's mentioning of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw corresponds to the quality of our works done in service to God.

          If a person's works fail to pass the testing of fire, then he will still be saved. The Christian is saved in both scenarios, whether his or her works pass the testing of fire or not. Thus, it is clear from the text of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 that justification is not determined on the basis of good works (compare with Romans 4:4-5 which says justification is not an earned wage, but a free gift from God). This person will be shown mercy, but is taking foolish risks with God.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Evidence Contradicting Evolutionary Theory And Common Descent

          Following is a gem rarely found in peer reviewed journals from an article titled The Comet Comith: Evolving Developmental Systems. It speaks of the overwhelming complexity of embryonic development, which gives credence to intelligent design arguments:

          "One of the main reasons for Duboule’s pessimism about the return of the EvoDevo comet is the staggering complexity and diversity of cellular and developmental regulatory processes. The configuration space for realistic models of such systems is vast, high dimensional, and potentially infinitely complex."

          Another excerpt affirms that "profound similarities" exist which do not prove "common ancestry:"

          "Because of this, similarities in gene expression patterns or morphological structure often do not necessarily imply common ancestry, since they may as well reflect the frequent reuse of the same regulatory or morphogenetic modules."

Jehovah's Witnesses Refuted: "Yahweh" Is More Accurate Than "Jehovah"

Consider this excerpt from the Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Society:

“While inclining to view the pronunciation "Yah.weh" as the more correct way, we have retained the form "Jehovah" because of people's familiarity with it since the 14th century.” (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, 1969, p. 23).

Confirmation from Jewish scholarship:

“JEHOVAH is a mispronunciation of the Hebrew YHWH the name of God. This pronunciation is grammatically impossible. The form ‘Jehovah’ is a philological impossibility.” (The Jewish Encyclopedia)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Morally Corrosive

"And “morally corrosive” is exactly the term that some critics would apply to the new science of the moral sense. The attempt to dissect our moral intuitions can look like an attempt to debunk them. Evolutionary psychologists seem to want to unmask our noblest motives as ultimately self-interested — to show that our love for children, compassion for the unfortunate and sense of justice are just tactics in a Darwinian struggle to perpetuate our genes. The explanation of how different cultures appeal to different spheres could lead to a spineless relativism, in which we would never have grounds to criticize the practice of another culture, no matter how barbaric, because “we have our kind of morality and they have theirs.” And the whole enterprise seems to be dragging us to an amoral nihilism, in which morality itself would be demoted from a transcendent principle to a figment of our neural circuitry.

Here is the worry. The scientific outlook has taught us that some parts of our subjective experience are products of our biological makeup and have no objective counterpart in the world. The qualitative difference between red and green, the tastiness of fruit and foulness of carrion, the scariness of heights and prettiness of flowers are design features of our common nervous system, and if our species had evolved in a different ecosystem or if we were missing a few genes, our reactions could go the other way. Now, if the distinction between right and wrong is also a product of brain wiring, why should we believe it is any more real than the distinction between red and green? And if it is just a collective hallucination, how could we argue that evils like genocide and slavery are wrong for everyone, rather than just distasteful to us?"


Friday, January 26, 2018

What Is The Origin Of The Assumption of Mary?

        The Assumption of Mary was not officially declared to be an article of the Roman Catholic faith until 1950 by Pope Pius XII:

        "The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (Munificentissimus Deus).

        The Roman Catholic Catechism explains this dogma in the following manner:

        "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians." (CCC #966)

        Enoch (Genesis 5:24), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), and Jesus (Acts 1:9) are people recorded in Scripture as being bodily assumed into heaven. There is no such reference for Mary. Why would this not be recorded in Scripture? Ludwig Ott, in his book titled Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 209–210, says:

        "The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus–narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing. The first Church author to speak of the bodily ascension of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours’."

        The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that the first "authentic" references to the bodily assumption of Mary can be found in writings dated to the sixth through eight centuries:  

        “The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John, which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis, falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite. If we consult genuine writings in the East, it is mentioned in the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, St. Gregory of Tours (De gloria mart., I, iv) mentions it first. The sermons of St. Jerome and St. Augustine for this feast, however, are spurious.”

        The Assumption of Mary itself is just an assumption based on pious legends. This Roman Catholic dogma is apocryphal in origin. 

Who Is The Woman Of Revelation 12?

        The Roman Catholic Church has taught as dogma a plethora of unbiblical and spurious ideas about Mary. It has traditionally identified the "woman" figure of Revelation 12 to be Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. This interpretation of Revelation 12:1-2 has been a springboard for the development of doctrines such as the Assumption of Mary, her being called the Queen of Heaven, and the Mother of the Church. It accounts for the existence of portraits with her being dressed in cosmic clothing standing over the world.

        Pope Pius XII wrote in an Apostolic Constitution, “The scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.” (Munificentissimus Deus)

        Note how Revelation 12:2 depicts this "woman" figure as experiencing birth pangs. Also, a part of the curse of original sin is pain during childbirth (Genesis 3:16). The Roman Catholic interpretation of Revelation 12 is weakened because according to official Roman Catholic teaching, Mary was preserved from receiving a fallen nature:

        "Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (CCC # 491)

        Thus, she could not experience pain when bearing children. However, this is clearly not the case, according to Revelation 12:2. "She" was clearly in distress. If Mary was sinless, then she would not have endured pain in labor. One rejoinder to this is that the birth pangs spoken of in Revelation 12:2 could be a reference to something painful in the life of Mary such as witnessing the crucifixion of her own Son, but that is merely speculative and hypothetical.

        Does Mary have eagle's wings (Revelation 12:14)? Where in Scripture do we ever hear of Mary going to Egypt to be fed for 1,260 days? What about the fact that the flight of this "woman" took place after Jesus Christ's ascension to God's throne (Revelation 12:5-6)? Did Mary have children who experienced persecution in the wilderness (Revelation 12:17)? The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition gives this interpretation of the "woman" mentioned in Revelation 12:

        "[12:1] The woman adorned with the sun, the moon, and the stars (images taken from Gn 37:9–10) symbolizes God’s people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (Rev 12:5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon (Rev 12:6, 13–17); cf. Is 50:1; 66:7; Jer 50:12."

        Marius Victorinus made the following comments on Revelation 12:1-2:

        "The woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars upon her head, and travailing in her pains, is the ancient Church of fathers, and prophets, and saints, and apostles, which had the groans and torments of its longing until it saw that Christ, the fruit of its people according to the flesh long promised to it, had taken flesh out of the selfsame people…."

        Karl Keating, in his book titled Catholicism And Fundamentalism, p. 275, writes in regard to biblical evidence for the assumption of Mary:

        "...fundamentalists ask, where is the proof from Scripture? Strictly, there is none. The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as something definitely true is a guarantee that it is true."

        The best case scenario for one who makes the argument that Revelation 12:1-2 supports the assumption of Mary would be one that is inconclusive. We cannot fully grasp every aspect of the symbolism of the Book of Revelation due to not living in the same time and culture of writing. A twofold interpretation of this passage (i.e. that the "woman" is both Mary and the people of God) would be highly unlikely and only contrived to put in motion a self-serving agenda.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Human Reason Ultimately Points To God

"It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to providence and deity."

Sir Francis Bacon, A Father Of The Scientific Method (1561-1626)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eucharistic Miracles And Transubstantiation

          "If any one...denies that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, Thirteen Session, Canon 2)

          The above cited excerpt states that the appearance of the bread and wine remains the same, despite the substance being mysteriously transformed into the literal fullness of Christ's flesh, blood, soul, and divinity by the priest. Only the substance of the consecrated elements are changed by the priest. Therefore, transubstantiation involves an unverifiable miracle to our senses. 

         Eucharistic miracles are said to be observable to the people who are present at the Mass. This is a problem for the Roman Catholic position because according to official Church dogma, the appearance of the transubstantiated elements remains completely unchanged. These allegedly supernatural occasions do not fit the Roman Catholic definition of transubstantiation. 

          If the body and blood of Jesus Christ appear to be bread and wine after this "miraculous" change takes place, then people who claim to see flesh or taste blood cannot use such episodes to support the idea of transubstantiation. Catholic dogma is contradicted by eucharistic miracles. Since transubstantiation is touted as a miracle, does that mean eucharistic miracles involve the undoing of something already miraculous?

          If one wishes to defend transubstantiation, then he is required to embrace all sorts of bizarre contradictions in logic. He has to devise convoluted sounding theories as to how such could only possibly be valid. In addition, Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). He can perform counterfeit miracles. Hence, we have no reason to accept eucharistic "miracles" as proof of transubstantiation.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Jerusalem Council And Sola Scriptura

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologists sometimes point to the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 as evidence against the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and to demonstrate that Peter acted in his official position as pope. This argument is articulated in the following manner by Scripture Catholic:

          "So we see that Peter is the one who rules definitively on the question of doctrine, and all kept silent. His bishops then spoke in favor of his teaching, acknowledging that Peter was indeed the authority in the Church. No one questions Peter’s judgment. Then we have James who speaks in favor of Peter’s teaching by giving an opinion on a pastoral issue. Hardly a challenge to the authority of Peter...Acts 15 disproves the doctrine of sola Scriptura. If Peter would have relied upon the Scriptures, he would have concluded that Gentiles had to be circumcised, since all the Patriarchs and prophets were, the apostles were, and even Jesus was. But Peter, by virtue of his authority, decides the issue as the chief shepherd of the Church (and the decision was not based on the Scriptures)."

          Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders. Peter is a part of the group, but nowhere given any special position or recognition (Acts 15:2). The apostles and elders assembled to resolve the dispute (Acts 15:6). Peter is nowhere said to be in a unique or isolated position.

          Peter does make a number of comments, but his words were not treated as the final court of authority. James shows that the words of Peter are in harmony with the prophets. He also provides his own thoughts on the matter. If the Apostle Peter's word was decisive in this council, then there would have been no need for James to make his thoughts known.

          The Jerusalem Council, which addressed the issue of circumcision and claims of it being necessary for salvation, had subjugated itself to the supreme authority of Scripture. Notice how the text of Acts 15:15-18 begins, "The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written..." That statement is clearly an appeal to the Scriptures as the final source of authority in a theological dispute. It is a quotation of Amos 9:11-12.

          The theme of the council centers around the inclusion of the Gentiles into the gospel. It de-emphasizes Jewish ceremonial laws such as circumcision. The Scripture teaches circumcision of the heart (Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 9:25-26; Romans 2:28-29). Also, note the fact that God had reckoned the righteousness of faith to Abraham (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:9-11) prior to his circumcision (Genesis 17:10). Circumcision was never necessary for salvation, even though it was a God-ordained act. So the Jerusalem Council had indeed based its rulings on Scripture.

          It was James who had presided over the Jerusalem Council, not Peter. He said, "It is my judgement..." (Acts 15:19). It was he who had made authoritative statements on this matter, in accordance with Scripture. This decision was not based on the tradition of the fathers or resolved by an ex-cathedra statement uttered by the pope. This text says nothing concerning papal supremacy.

           If anything at all, the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 is only supportive of the supremacy of scriptural authority. Moreover, an epistle which was written and circulated to the churches as a result of the heresies promoted by the Judaizers made no mention of "Pope Peter" at all (Acts 15:23-29). Verse 22 says, "Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church." Verse 23 says, "The apostles and elders, your brothers." This is evidence that early Christian churches were governed by pluralities of elders, not a single human arbitrator headquartered in Rome.

Monday, January 1, 2018

C.S. Lewis On Human Reason

"All possible knowledge, then, depends on the validity of reasoning. If the feeling of certainty which we express by words like must be and therefore and since is a real perception of how things outside our minds really “must” be, well and good. But if this certainty is merely a feeling in our own minds and not a genuine insight into realities beyond them—if it merely represents the way our minds happen to work—then we can have no knowledge. Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.

It follows that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have to be reaching by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished…It would be an argument which proved that no arguments was sound—a proof that there are no such things as proofs—which is nonsense."

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, p. 23-24