Sunday, February 25, 2018

Chemical Imbalance Depression Is Rare

"Doctors bought the story line that all depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain and therefore requires a chemical fix—the prescription of an antidepressant medication. This is absolutely true for severe depressions, absolutely false for most milder ones. The proof of this pudding is that psychotherapy is just as effective as medication for milder depressions, and neither has a big edge over placebo. Millions of people take medicine they don’t need for a diagnosis of MDD that they don’t really have, on the false assumption of chemical imbalance."

Allen Frances, M.D, "Saving Normal," p. 155

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Does James 2:24 Teach That We Are Justified By Faith And Works?

        "You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (James 2:24)

        The Scriptures emphatically declare that works cannot justify us in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul says that we are justified "apart from works" and that God justifies people who "do not work but believe" (Romans 4:2-8). He elsewhere says, "not by works," (Ephesians 2:8-9), "not by works of righteousness which we have done," (Titus 3:5-7), and we are saved, "not according to our works" (2 Timothy 1:9). So the text of James 2:24 cannot be teaching us that justification is merited entirely or even in part by our good works. The surrounding context of this verse, as well as the rest of Scripture, plays a key role here.

        In context, James clearly occupies the word justify to mean vindication, or proven. He does not argue against justification by faith alone, but rather, a salvation that stands without any good works to accompany it. In other words, one's lifestyle must be consistent with his or her profession of faith. Faith will certainly be accompanied with good works because the heart is regenerated by the Spirit of God. If our Christian testimony is not supported with evidence of good character, then the unbelieving world will have no reason to deem our witness for Christ trustworthy or reliable.

        What James is saying is that we demonstrate the reality of our faith by good works. Are we going to merely talk the spiritual talk or actually going to walk the spiritual walk (James 2:14-17)? Are we only going to be hearers of the Word or doers of the Word (James 1:21-22; 26-27)? The question that James addresses is, "Can such faith save a man?" It is not enough to mentally accept the fact that God exists (James 2:19-20). Therefore, James distinguishes between two different kinds of faith. The demons acknowledge that whatever God says is the truth, but are not in fellowship with Him because they lack trust.

        Works are the product or result of a genuinely saving faith. A converted heart by definition will result in a changed life of holiness. James 2:18 especially echoes this theme ("a man may say...show me...I will show you..."). The inspired writer James provides two biblical examples to illustrate his point on the relationship between faith and works (James 2:21-25). The faith of Abraham and Rehab was tested and shown to be true. Faith was "perfected" in that it reached its design or end. An analogy is employed to make the point that faith and works cannot to be separated from each other (James 2:26). The Christian walk is one that glorifies God.

        James is not hereby discussing themes such as the blood of Christ or how one gets right with God, as does Paul (Romans 5:1-11). James occupies the term "justify" in the sense of vindication, which is employed in the same manner elsewhere throughout Scripture (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; 16:15; Romans 3:4). He focuses on Genesis 15:6 from an evidential perspective. The Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians deals with the universal scope of man's depravity and condemnation by God's Law, whereas James addresses the narrower scope of hypocrisy within the church. Paul focuses on justification "in His sight" (Romans 3:20; 4:2).

Monday, February 19, 2018

1 Chronicles 16:30: Does The Bible Say That The Earth Doesn't Move?

First off, the passage is clearly introduced as a psalm (i.e. “song” or “prayer”) of David. 1 Chron 16:7 says, “Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.” Like the book of Psalms, the passage uses poetic descriptions to convey spiritual truth – not necessarily literal truth. In the same passage (v. 32-33) David says that the sea “roars,” the fields “rejoice,” and the trees “sing.”

Why don't the same critics who allege this passage endorses geocentricism, also assert the Bible teaches that trees sing? It's because they know that people will immediately recognize trees singing as an obvious use of metaphor. Yet they still quote v. 30 as though it's meant to be a statement of fact. This is a clear case of quote mining where critics cite a passage out of context in order to make it sound like the Bible says something that it clearly does not intend.

Another thing we must be careful to consider is what is meant by the use of the words like “world” and “earth.” Often, when these words are used, they are not referring to the physical earth but the people of the earth. This is demonstrated in the same verse in question. 1 Chron 16:30a says, “Fear before Him all the earth.” Do you think this means the literal “earth” should fear Him or doesn't it more likely mean the people of the earth? It could mean the literal earth in the same sense that the “fields” rejoice. On the other hand, it could also mean the people of the earth. The Bible does use the words “earth” and “world” in that sense; Here are some indisputable examples where this is so:

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. (Isaiah 13:11a)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

In these passages, and others, the word “world” clearly means the people who live in the world. No one, for example, could rationally argue that Luke 2:1 means that the literal earth (that is, dirt and rock) is going to be taxed.

We also must ask what is meant by “not moved.” The most ordinary meaning, of course, is that it means “stationary” and that is what the critics who cite this passage claim it means. However, “not moved” can also mean “not moved from its course” or “unpersuaded.” Psalm 21:7 says, “For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” I'll ask you: does this passage mean the king is stationary or does it mean that he should not be moved from his trust in the Lord?

In conclusion, remember that this is a psalm. In a poetic passage that says the Lord established the earth that it should not be moved, would it be entirely unreasonable to interpret that to mean the Lord established the ways of the earth (or its people) and it/they will not be moved from the way He established? What is unreasonable is that critics (whether intentionally or by ignorance) ignore the clear context of a passage and assert the correct interpretation of an obvious use of poetry is that it is meant to be literal fact. It's no wonder that critics see the Bible as rife with errors. They obviously have trouble reading.

http://rkbentley.blogspot.com/2012/06/1-chronicles-1630-does-bible-say-earth.html

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Fatal Flaw Of Pantheism

"Another problem presented by the pantheistic worldview is the idea that humans must come to realize that they are God. If God, the universe, and humans are all eternal, and eternal things do not change, then how can we come to know anything new? If we learn something new, then we change from not knowing something to knowing something, which is impossible for an eternal, unchanging being."

The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, p. 388

Saturday, February 17, 2018

1 Corinthians 3:15 Is Not A Proof-Text For Purgatory

“From at least the time of Gregory the Great (who lived AD 540-604), this verse [1 Cor 3:15] and all of vv11-15 have been cited in the teaching of the Western Church about the ‘purifying fire’ of purgatory (Dialogues 4.41.5: de igne futurae purgationis, ‘about the fire of future purification’; SC 265.150). These verses are quoted explicitly in the letter, ‘Sub catholicae professione,’ of the First Council of Lyons, AD 1254 (DH 838); cf. Council of Florence, AD 1439-45 (DH 1304). That teaching, however, freely accommodates not only the metaphorical sense of these Pauline verses, but also other biblical passages, 2 Macc 12:39-45; Mt 12:32, 36, so that Cevetello rightly recognizes that it is ‘based on tradition, not Sacred Scripture’

‘Purgatory,’ NCE 11:825); and Gnilka has shown that the tradition is neither precise nor constant (Ist l. Kor. 3,10–15),” J. Fitzmyer, 1 Corinthians (Yale 2008), 201, cited by Steve Hays

Friday, February 16, 2018

Examining The Roman Catholic Priesthood

                                     By Richard Bennett of Berean Beacon

There is a common thread that runs throughout the experiences of former priests whose testimonies are in our book, Far from Rome, Near to God: The Testimonies of Fifty Former Catholic Priests. We had a great yearning to be different from those around us. We wanted to be more pure, nearer to God. We wanted to be free in conscience before God, and we sought the priesthood in which we thought we could administer salvation stage by stage to our fellow man. The nobility and charm of the priesthood also drew us, as priests around us were signally hon­ ored with special privileges and dignity. Hearing confessions, forgiving sins, bringing Christ down upon the altar, the wonder of being “another Christ”, all of these attracted us. In the words of Graham Greene’s novel on the subject, we were drawn by “the power and the glory”.

We did not question:

that there is an office of sacrificial priesthood in the New Testament;
that the priest’s life revolves around the sacraments;
that we were fit subjects to be elevated to this honor. We had all worked hard at being “holy” so we took for granted that a right standing with God was something that we could merit.

1. The Office of the Priesthood

In the early 1970’s, we who gloried in being priests were shocked to read the words of one of our best Roman Catholic Scripture scholars, Raymond E. Brown:

When we move from the Old Testament to the New Testament, it is striking that while there are pagan priests and Jewish priests on the scene, no individual Christian is ever specifically identified as a priest. The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the high priesthood of Jesus by comparing his death and entry into heaven with the actions of the Jewish high priest who went into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle once a year with a blood offering for himself and for the sins of his people (Hebrews 9:6-7).

But it is noteworthy that the author of Hebrews does not associate the priesthood of Jesus with the Eucharist or the Last Supper; neither does he suggest that other Christians are priests in the likeness of Jesus. In fact, the once-for-all atmosphere that surrounds the priesthood of Jesus in Hebrews 10:12-14, has been offered as an explanation of why there are no Christian priests in the New Testament period.1

Later in the same chapter, Brown argues for a priesthood like that of the Levitical class in the Old Testament. He makes his case for the development of such a doctrine by means of tradition. Even those of us who knew very little of the Bible knew that the Pharisees counted tradition su­perior to the clear Word of God. Brown did more to demolish the conviction that we were in­deed priests than to ease our troubled minds. Now I see that what Brown stated in the section quoted is biblically and absolutely true. Other than the royal priesthood, which applies to all true believers in Christ, there is no office of priesthood in the New Testament. Rather, as Hebrews states so clearly of the Old Testament priests, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them”2 “Unchangeable priest­hood” means just that in the Greek: aparabatos means “untransferable”. The reason it cannot be transferred to men is that its essence is Christ’s own, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”3

2. The Priest’s Life Revolves around the Sacraments

The second presupposition was that the Roman Catholic sacraments gave, as our catechism books said, “outward signs of inward grace”. Our mindset, in the words of Canon 840, was that the sacraments “…contribute in the highest degree to the establishment, strengthening and manifestation of ecclesiastical communion.”4 In fact, the sacraments themselves were for us the center of salvation and of sanctification. For example, regarding confession to a priest, Canon 960 declared that it was “the only ordinary way by which the faithful person who is aware of serious sin is reconciled with God”. Rather than proclaiming the finished work of Christ Jesus as the an­ swer to the problem of our sinful nature and personal sin record, our lives revolved around these physical signs. Some of us were shocked to read in Dollinger (the most respected Roman Catholic historian) that the sacrament of penance (confession) was unknown in the West for 1,100 years and never known in the East. Dollinger said, “So again with Penance. What is given as the essential form of the sacrament was unknown in the Western Church for eleven hundred years, and never known in the Greek.”5 How could this be? The bishops were declared to be high priests “first and foremost” (Canon 835). Were not we as priests also declared to be dis­ pensers of the sacramental system? In the light of God’s Word, this was magic rather than the Gospel message.

The New Testament has two signs as instituted by the Lord; yet rather than the two signs, center stage in the Bible is the proclaimed message. But for us the sacraments themselves were of major importance. Every day began with Mass. Our doubts regarding the physical sacraments as central to our life with God began from experience. Many of us, priests for many years, had baptized countless infants, and had said the words, “I absolve you,” over countless heads. We had anointed many aged, sick and accident victims with the words, “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” Year after year we saw the children we had baptized as infants grow up as pagan as the pagans on the mission field. The myriads of people over whose heads we had pronounced absolution came up off their knees as much sinners after our words as before them. When the sick and the aged were neither saved nor “raised up”, it was then that some of us dared to check the Bible. Here we discovered, “It is the spirit that quick­ eneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”6 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”7

The verses in Ephesians shocked us most of all. Our standard definitions of sacraments defined them as “works”, as in the famous Canon 8 of the Council of Trent: “If anyone says that by the sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred ex opere operato [from the work worked], but that faith alone in the divine promise is sufficient to obtain grace, let him be anathe­ ma.”8 It was difficult even to begin to doubt the sacraments. These and other physical signs ab­ sorbed much of our time. During Lent or Holy Week, for example, we had to make arrange­ ments for procuring and putting in order the newly blessed oils, the Pascal candle, the Pascal fire, the palms, the ashes from last year’s palms, the processional cross, the thurible with its charcoals and incense, the purple, red and white vestments, and so on. How could any of us dare to hear the Lord’s principle stated so clearly in John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” But hear the words we did, as these testimonies bear witness. The Father drew us, showing us our own worthlessness and the sufficiency of his Word. As Jesus said to the Father, “Thy word is truth”9

3. Unfit Subjects for Honor

The last presupposition was the most deeply rooted within us. As a child, before ever wanting to become a priest, I had labored at being “holy”. During Lent I would “offer up” candy and sweet drinks to be a better Catholic. I visited nine churches in one day praying alternately “Our Father” six times, “Hail Mary” six times and “Glory Be” six times in each church. Some of us played at being holy by giving white peppermints to our friends when they would kneel down, as if we were the priest giving communion.

As priests, most of us were very enthusiastic about Vatican Council II. When the docu­ ments were published, some of us preached from them. One of the most popular documents was No. 64, The Church in the Modern World. But when the excitement had calmed, those of us who studied it saw the same message we had lived and preached. Paragraph. 14 states, “…Neverthe­ less man has been wounded by sin….When he is drawn to think about his real self he turns to those deep recesses of his being where God who probes the heart awaits him, and where he him­ self decides his own destiny in the sight of God.” Paragraph. 17 continues, “Since human free­ dom has been weakened by sin it is only by the help of God’s grace that man can give his actions their full and proper relationship to God.”10

This type of modern teaching seemed very much like the old message. The old message was also contained in Vatican Council II documents in a less popular document, No. 6, Indul­ gentiarum Doctrina, Paragraph. 6 which states: “From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners, particularly the works which human weakness finds hard…Indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.”11

All these teachings were endorsed by messages at Lourdes and at Fatima. That many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray and to do penance for them was part of our third and biggest presupposition. Grace was, of course, presupposed; but it is you who by means of your suffering and good works merit salvation for yourself and for others. This is the net in which all of us who lived the works gospel so intensely were most deeply entangled by Roman Catholicism. This two-fold presupposition; that we were somehow holy and right before a holy God because we had prayed and suffered, and that we would continue as holy and righteous men to practice our religion, became our biggest undoing.

Mankind’s Condition Before The Holy God

Christ Jesus describes man’s nature. “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, mur­ ders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, fool­ ishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man”12 And the Prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things; and desperately wicked; who can know it?”13 Both Old and New Testaments tell us that we are spiritually dead to God. Adam’s sin brought death. The Prophet Ezekiel states, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”14 and Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” We are not simply “wounded”, as Roman Catholics believe. We are spiritually dead!

The Biblical Message of Salvation

We find the remedy for this situation in both Old and New Testaments. The prophet Isaiah de­clares: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chas­tisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniqui­ty of us all.”15. Peter and John tell us: “ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers; but with the pre­cious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. “And he is the propitia­tion for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”16 The Bible clearly states that salvation was Christ’s work and his alone: “. . .by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”17 Romans 3:26 says that God is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”. One is saved by God’s work. Salvation is God’s ma­jestic, finished work. Woven through these testimonies is the same scarlet thread of God’s sovereign grace. Before him, each person is dead in sin. By grace one is saved, through faith.

What the Bible has to say about priesthood becomes crystal clear in these personal testi­monies of men who experienced both the false and the true priesthood (the priesthood of every believer in the once for all sacrifice of Christ Jesus). The best summary of what happened to these men in the Roman Catholic priesthood is found in the words of the Apostle Paul,“There­fore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceit­fully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”18

1 Raymond E. Brown, Priest and Bishop: Biblical Reflections (Paulist Press, New York 10019, 1970), p. 13.

2 Hebrews 7:23-25

3 Hebrews 7:26

4 Code of Canon Law, Latin-English ed. (Canon Law Society of America, Wash. DC 20064) 1983. All references to canon law are taken from this volume unless otherwise stated.

5 von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council by Janus, (Authorized tr. from the German “Janus_: Der Papst und das Concil), Roberts Brothers (Boston, 1870) p. 50.

6 John 6:63

7 Ephesians 2:8-9

8 The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, 7th Session, March, 1547, Tr. by Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O.P. (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, IL 61105) 1978.

9 John 17:17

10 Vatican Council II Documents, No. 64, Gaudium et Spes, 7 December 1965, Ch. 1, Vol. I, in Documents of Vati­ can II, Vatican Collection, Vol. I, Austin P. Flannery, O.P., Ed. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, MI 1984)

11 Flannery, Vol. I. (While No. 6, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, 1 January, 1967, is an absolutely official primary source document and is included with the Vatican Council II documents, strictly speaking it is a post-conciliar document of Pope Paul IV).

12 Mark 7:20-23

13 Jeremiah17:9

14 Ezekiel 18:20

15 Isaiah 53:5-6

16 I Peter 1:18-19, I John 2:2

17 Hebrews 1:3

18 II Corinthians 4:1-2

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Powerful Historical Evidence Verifying The New Testament

"About the middle of the last century it was confidently asserted by a very influential school of thought that some of the most important books of the New Testament, including the Gospels and the Acts, did not exist before the thirties of the second century AD.16 This conclusion was the result not so much of historical evidence as of philosophical presuppositions. Even then there was sufficient evidence to show how unfounded these theories were, as Lightfoot, Tischendorf, Tregelles and others demonstrated in their writings; but the amount of such evidence available in our own day is so much greater and more conclusive that a first-century date for most of the New Testament writings cannot reasonably be denied, no matter what our philosophical presuppositions may be.

The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt. It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians." Somehow or other, there are people who regard a `sacred book' as ipso facto under suspicion, and demand much more corroborative evidence for such a work than they would for an ordinary secular or pagan writing. From the viewpoint of the historian, the same standards must be applied to both. But we do not quarrel with those who want more evidence for the New Testament than for other writings; firstly, because the universal claims which the New Testament makes upon mankind are so absolute, and the character and works of its chief Figure so unparalleled, that we want to be as sure of its truth as we possibly can; and secondly, because in point of fact there is much more evidence for the New Testament than for other ancient writings of comparable date.

There are in existence over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part. The best and most important of these go back to somewhere about AD 350, the two most important being the Codex Vaticanus, the chief treasure of the Vatican Library in Rome, and the well-known Codex Sinaiticus, which the British Government purchased from the Soviet Government for £loo,ooo on Christmas Day, 1933, and which is now the chief treasure of the British Museum. Two other important early mss in this country are the Codex Alexandrinus, also in the British Museum, written in the fifth century, and the Codex Bezae, in Cambridge University Library, written in the fifth or sixth century, and containing the Gospels and Acts in both Greek and Latin. Perhaps we can appreciate how wealthy the New Testament is in manuscript attestation if we compare the textual material for other ancient historical works. For Caesar's Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 Bc) there are several extant mss, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some goo years later than Caesar's day. Of the 142 books of the Roman History of Livy (59 BC-AD 17) only thirty-five survive; these are known to us from not more than twenty mss of any consequence, only one of which, and that containing fragments of Books iii-vi, is as old as the fourth century. Of the fourteen books of the Histories of Tacitus (c. AD 100) only four and a half survive; of the sixteen books of his Annals, ten survive in full and two in part. The text of these extant portions of his two great historical works depends entirely on two mss, one of the ninth century and one of the eleventh. The extant mss of his minor works (Dialogus de Oratoribus, Agricola, Germania) all descend from a codex of the tenth century. The History of Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) is known to us from eight Mss, the earliest belonging to c. AD 900, and a few papyrus scraps, belonging to about the beginning of the Christian era. The same is true of the History of Herodotus (c. 488-428 BC). Yet no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest mss of their works which are of any use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals.

But how different is the situation of the New Testament in this respect! In addition to the two excellent mss of the fourth century mentioned above, which are the earliest of some thousands known to us, considerable fragments remain of papyrus copies of books of the New Testament dated from ioo to 200 years earlier still. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, the existence of which was made public in 1931, consist of portions of eleven papyrus codices, three of which contained most of the New Testament writings. One of these, containing the four Gospels with Acts, belongs to the first half of the third century; another, containing Paul's letters to churches and the Epistle to the Hebrews, was copied at the beginning of the third century; the third, containing Revelation, belongs to the second half of the same century. A more recent discovery consists of some papyrus fragments dated by papyrological experts not later than AD 150, published in Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and other Early Christian Papyri, by H. I. Bell and T. C. Skeat (1935). These fragments contain what has been thought by some to be portions of a fifth Gospel having strong affinities with the canonical four; but much more probable is the view expressed in The Times Literary Supplement for 25 April 1935, `that these fragments were written by someone who had the four Gospels before him and knew them well; that they did not profess to be an independent Gospel; but were paraphrases of the stories and other matter in the Gospels designed for explanation and instruction, a manual to teach people the Gospel stories'.

Earlier still is a fragment of a papyrus codex containing John 18:31-33, 37-38, now in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, dated on palaeographical grounds around AD 130, showing that the latest of the four Gospels, which was written, according to tradition, at Ephesus between AD 90 and loo, was circulating in Egypt within about forty years of its composition (if, as is most likely, this papyrus originated in Egypt, where it was acquired in 1917). It must be regarded as being, by half a century, the earliest extant fragment of the New Testament.

A more recently discovered papyrus manuscript of the same Gospel, while not so early as the Rylands papyrus, is incomparably better preserved; this is the Papyrus Bodmer II, whose discovery was announced by the Bodmer Library of Geneva in 1956; it was written about AD 200, and contains the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John with but one lacuna (of twenty-two verses), and considerable portions of the last seven chapters.19 Attestation of another kind is provided by allusions to and quotations from the New Testament books in other early writings. The authors known as the Apostolic Fathers wrote chiefly between AD 9o and 16o, and in their works we find evidence for their acquaintance with most of the books of the New Testament. In three works whose date is probably round about AD 100 - the `Epistle of Barnabas, written perhaps in Alexandria; the Didache, or `Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, produced somewhere in Syria or Palestine; and the letter sent to the Corinthian church by Clement, bishop of Rome, about AD 96 - we find fairly certain quotations from the common tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, from Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews,l Peter, and possible quotations from other books of the New Testament. In the letters written by Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, as he journeyed to his martyrdom in Rome in AD 115, there are reasonably identifiable quotations from Matthew, John, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and possible allusions to mark, Luke, Acts, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Hebrews, and 1 Peter. His younger contemporary, Polycarp, in a letter to the Philippians (c. 120) quotes from the common tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, from Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, i Peter, and i John. And so we might go on through the writers of the second century, amassing increasing evidence of their familiarity with and recognition of the authority of the New Testament writings. So far as the Apostolic Fathers are concerned, the evidence is collected and weighed in a work called The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, recording the findings of a committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology in 1905.

Nor is it only in orthodox Christian writers that we find evidence of this sort. It is evident from the recently discovered writings of the Gnostic school of Valentinus that before the middle of the second century most of the New Testament books were as well known and as fully venerated in that heretical circle as they were in the Catholic Church.20 The study of the kind of attestation found in mss and quotations in later writers is connected with the approach known as Textual Criticism.21 This is a most important and fascinating branch of study, its object being to determine as exactly as possible from the available evidence the original words of the documents in question. It is easily proved by experiment that it is difficult to copy out a passage of any considerable length without making one or two slips at least. When we have documents like our New Testament writings copied and recopied thousands of times, the scope for copyists' errors is so enormously increased that it is surprising there are no more than there actually are. Fortunately, if the great number of MSS increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice.

To sum up, we may quote the verdict of the late Sir Frederic Kenyon, a scholar whose authority to make pronouncements on ancient mss was second to none:

The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."

F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Benefits Of The Cross

From a sixteenth-century book about justification, titled The Benefit of Christ's Death:

"let us run unto [Christ] with the feet of lively faith, and cast ourselves between his arms, [since] he allureth us so graciously, crying: "Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden; and I will refresh you;" what comfort or what joy in this life can be comparable to this his saying there, when as a man, feeling himself oppressed with the intolerable weight of his sins, understandeth so sweet and amiable words of the Son of God, who promiseth so graciously to refresh and rid him of his great pains?...

O great unkindness! O thing abominable! that we, which profess ourselves Christians, and hear that the Son of God hath taken all our sins upon him, and washed them out with his precious blood, suffering himself to be fastened to the cross for our sakes, should nevertheless make as though we would justify ourselves, and purchase forgiveness of our sins by our own works; as who would say, that the deserts, righteousness, and bloodshed of Jesus Christ were not enough to do it, unless we came to put to our works and righteousness; which are altogether defiled and spotted with self-love, self-liking, self-profit, and a thousand other vanities, for which we have need to crave pardon at God's hand, rather than reward….

Now, if the seeking of righteousness and forgiveness of sins, by the keeping of the law which God gave upon mount Sinai, with so great glory and majesty, be the denying of Christ and of his grace [Galatians 5:4], what shall we say to those that will needs justify themselves before God by their own laws and observances? I would wish that such folks should a little compare the one with the other, and afterward give judgment themselves. God mindeth not to do that honour, not to give that glory to his own law; and yet they will have him to give it to men's laws and ordinances. But that honour is given only to his only-begotten Son, who alone, by the sacrifice of his death and passion, hath made full amends for all our sins, past, present, and to come…

let us give the whole glory of our justification unto God's mercy and to the merits of his Son; who by his own bloodshed hath set us free from the sovereignty of the law, and from the tyranny of sin and death, and hath brought us into the kingdom of God, to give us life and endless felicity….

for the love of his only begotten Son, [the Father] beholdeth [Christians] always with a gentle countenance, governing and defending them as his most dear children, and in the end giving them the heritage of the world, making them like-fashioned to the glorious image of Christ….

O happy is that man that shutteth his eyes from all other sights, and will neither hear nor see any other thing than Jesus Christ crucified; in whom are laid up and bestowed all the treasures of God's wisdom and divine knowledge!" (15-16, 21-23, 26, 69, 93)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Biblical Archaeology: Factual Evidence To Support The Historicity Of The Bible

Archaeological finds that contradict the contentions of biblical minimalists and other revisionists have been listed above. There are many more, however, that corroborate biblical evidence, and the following list provides only the most significant discoveries:

A Common Flood Story. Not just the Hebrews (Gen. 6–8), but Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Greeks all report a flood in primordial times. A Sumerian king list from c. 2100 BC divides itself into two categories: those kings who ruled before a great flood and those who ruled after it. One of the earliest examples of Sumero-Akkadian-Babylonian literature, the Gilgamesh Epic, describes a great flood sent as punishment by the gods, with humanity saved only when the pious Utnapishtim (AKA, “the Mesopotamian Noah”) builds a ship and saves the animal world thereon. A later Greek counterpart, the story of Deucalion and Phyrra, tells of a couple who survived a great flood sent by an angry Zeus. Taking refuge atop Mount Parnassus (AKA, “the Greek Ararat”), they supposedly repopulated the earth by heaving stones behind them that sprang into human beings.

The Code of Hammurabi. This seven-foot black diorite stele, discovered at Susa and presently located in the Louvre museum, contains 282 engraved laws of Babylonian King Hammurabi (fl. 1750 BC). The common basis for this law code is the lex talionis (“the law of the tooth”), showing that there was a common Semitic law of retribution in the ancient Near East, which is clearly reflected in the Pentateuch. Exodus 21:23–25, for example, reads: “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot…” (niv).

The Nuzi Tablets. The some 20,000 cuneiform clay tablets discovered at the ruins of Nuzi, east of the Tigris River and datable to c. 1500 BC, reveal institutions, practices, and customs remarkably congruent to those found in Genesis. These tablets include treaties, marriage arrangements, rules regarding inheritance, adoption, and the like.

The Existence of Hittites. Genesis 23 reports that Abraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah, which he purchased from Ephron the Hittite. Second Samuel 11 tells of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. A century ago the Hittites were unknown outside of the Old Testament, and critics claimed that they were a figment of biblical imagination. In 1906, however, archaeologists digging east of Ankara, Turkey, discovered the ruins of Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital at what is today called Boghazkoy, as well as its vast collection of Hittite historical records, which showed an empire flourishing in the mid-second millennium BC. This critical challenge, among many others, was immediately proved worthless — a pattern that would often be repeated in the decades to come.

The Merneptah Stele. A seven-foot slab engraved with hieroglyphics, also called the Israel Stele, boasts of the Egyptian pharaoh’s conquest of Libyans and peoples in Palestine, including the Israelites: “Israel — his seed is not.” This is the earliest reference to Israel in nonbiblical sources and demonstrates that, as of c. 1230 BC, the Hebrews were already living in the Promised Land.

Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. In addition to Jericho, places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been excavated, quite apart from such larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon. Such geographical markers are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives; otherwise, the specificity regarding these urban sites would have been replaced by “Once upon a time” narratives with only hazy geographical parameters, if any.

Israel’s enemies in the Hebrew Bible likewise are not contrived but solidly historical. Among the most dangerous of these were the Philistines, the people after whom Palestine itself would be named. Their earliest depiction is on the Temple of Rameses III at Thebes, c. 1150 BC, as “peoples of the sea” who invaded the Delta area and later the coastal plain of Canaan. The Pentapolis (five cities) they established — namely Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza, Gath, and Ekron — have all been excavated, at least in part, and some remain cities to this day. Such precise urban evidence measures favorably when compared with the geographical sites claimed in the holy books of other religious systems, which often have no basis whatever in reality.10

Shishak’s Invasion of Judah. First Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12 tell of Pharaoh Shishak’s conquest of Judah in the fifth year of the reign of King Rehoboam, the brainless son of Solomon, and how Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem was robbed of its treasures on that occasion. This victory is also commemorated in hieroglyphic wall carvings on the Temple of Amon at Thebes.

The Moabite Stone. Second Kings 3 reports that Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against the king of Israel following the death of Ahab. A three-foot stone slab, also called the Mesha Stele, confirms the revolt by claiming triumph over Ahab’s family, c. 850 BC, and that Israel had “perished forever.”

Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. In 2 Kings 9–10, Jehu is mentioned as King of Israel (841–814 BC). That the growing power of Assyria was already encroaching on the northern kings prior to their ultimate conquest in 722 BC is demonstrated by a six-and-a-half-foot black obelisk discovered in the ruins of the palace at Nimrud in 1846. On it, Jehu is shown kneeling before Shalmaneser III and offering tribute to the Assyrian king, the only relief we have to date of a Hebrew monarch.

Burial Plaque of King Uzziah. Down in Judah, King Uzziah ruled from 792 to 740 BC, a contemporary of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. Like Solomon, he began well and ended badly. In 2 Chronicles 26 his sin is recorded, which resulted in his being struck with leprosy later in life. When Uzziah died, he was interred in a “field of burial that belonged to the kings.” His stone burial plaque has been discovered on the Mount of Olives, and it reads: “Here, the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah, were brought. Do not open.”

Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. King Hezekiah of Judah ruled from 721 to 686 BC. Fearing a siege by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, Hezekiah preserved Jerusalem’s water supply by cutting a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls (2 Kings 20; 2 Chron. 32). At the Siloam end of the tunnel, an inscription, presently in the archaeological museum at Istanbul, Turkey, celebrates this remarkable accomplishment. The tunnel is probably the only biblical site that has not changed its appearance in 2,700 years.

The Sennacherib Prism. After having conquered the 10 northern tribes of Israel, the Assyrians moved southward to do the same to Judah (2 Kings 18–19). The prophet Isaiah, however, told Hezekiah that God would protect Judah and Jerusalem against Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32; Isa. 36–37). Assyrian records virtually confirm this. The cuneiform on a hexagonal, 15-inch baked clay prism found at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh describes Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BC in which it claims that the Assyrian king shut Hezekiah inside Jerusalem “like a caged bird.” Like the biblical record, however, it does not state that he conquered Jerusalem, which the prism certainly would have done had this been the case. The Assyrians, in fact, bypassed Jerusalem on their way to Egypt, and the city would not fall until the time of Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians in 586 BC. Sennacherib himself returned to Nineveh where his own sons murdered him.

The Cylinder of Cyrus the Great. Second Chronicles 36:23 and Ezra 1 report that Cyrus the Great of Persia, after conquering Babylon, permitted Jews in the Babylonian Captivity to return to their homeland. Isaiah had even prophesied this (Isa. 44:28). This tolerant policy of the founder of the Persian Empire is borne out by the discovery of a nine-inch clay cylinder found at Babylon from the time of its conquest, 539 BC, which reports Cyrus’s victory and his subsequent policy of permitting Babylonian captives to return to their homes and even rebuild their temples.

So it goes. This list of correlations between Old Testament texts and the hard evidence of Near Eastern archaeology could easily be tripled in length. When it comes to the intertestamental and New Testament eras, as we might expect, the needle on the gauge of positive correlations simply goes off the scale.

To use terms such as “false testament” for the Hebrew Bible and to vaporize its earlier personalities into nonexistence accordingly has no justification whatever in terms of the mass of geographical, archaeological, and historical evidence that correlates so admirably with Scripture.

LET’S REVISE THE REVISIONISM

In view of the overwhelming evidence, to banner an article in Harper’s as “False Testament” when referring to the Hebrew Bible is clearly an outrage. A cartoon in that article, showing the Bible being eaten away with vast corridors cut through its text, is an appropriately false caricature that goes with the rest of the article.

This, however, is quite typical of the way biblical matters are reported in today’s news media. An extraordinary archaeological discovery that confirms the biblical record barely receives any notice in the press, as witness the bones of the first biblical personality ever discovered in November, 1990. Generally, only one in a hundred know that the remains of Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest who indicted Jesus before Pontius Pilate on Good Friday, were found at that time in an ossuary in the Peace Forest of Jerusalem south of the Temple area. Let sensation-seeking writers claim, however, that the patriarchs were mythical, that David was a petty hilltop chieftain if he existed at all, that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, or that God predicted the assassination of Israeli premier Itzhaak Rabin through some arcane Bible code (yet did nothing about it), and the press covers it sympathetically and in full. In no way is this fair, ethical, or even logical.

Nor is the press alone in this deception. Radical revisionist biblical scholars and pseudoscholars, like members of the notorious Jesus Seminar, are well aware of this sad sensationalizing formula for success and exploit it regularly. This may, admittedly, be impugning the motives of some in that category who are driven instead by a desire merely to be “politically correct” when it comes to biblical scholarship; that is, to be ultracritical of anything biblical. In this connection, sadly, secular historians of the ancient world often have a much higher opinion of the reliability of biblical sources than some biblical scholars themselves!

Lest this critique be written off as the meaningless chatter of some conservative curmudgeon, however, I must point out that, in fact, it represents the majority view in biblical scholarship today. University of Arizona archaeologist William Dever, for example, is well known for his objection to the term “biblical archaeology,” since it seems to convey a probiblical bias; yet he assails some of the unwarranted conclusions of biblical minimalists in a strongly worded article in BAR: “Save Us from Postmodern Malarkey.”11 He does not have kind words for the minimalists in his book, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? either. “I suggest,” he writes, “that the revisionists are nihilist not only in the historical sense but also in the philosophical and moral sense.”12

BAR, which provides the literary arena for the traditionalist vs. minimalist battles and tries to keep a neutral stance in the process, similarly found the Harper’s article to be “only one side of a very hot debate in the field. Nowhere does [the author] try to evaluate the merits of the other side’s case. In fact he gives no indication that he’s even aware there is another side.”13

Let the debate continue, but let all the evidence be admitted. Ever since scientific archaeology started a century and a half ago, the consistent pattern has been this: the hard evidence from the ground has borne out the biblical record again and again — and again. The Bible has nothing to fear from the spade.

notes

1. Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (New York: The Free Press, 2001).

2. Daniel Lazare, “False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History,” Harper’s, March 2002, 39–47.

3. Ibid., 40.

4. See Kenneth Kitchen, “The Patriarchal Age: Myth or History?” Biblical Archaeology Review(hereafter BAR), March/April 1995, 48ff.

5. A considerable, and growing, body of literature exists on the Hebrews in Egypt, the role of Joseph, the pharaoh who befriended him, the Hyksos, the pharaoh of the Oppression, the pharaoh of the Exodus, and the Exodus itself. See recent issues of Bible and Spade, especially no. 16 (Winter 2003). Joseph P. Free and Howard F. Vos, Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 69–105 is also helpful, as is Alfred J. Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1999).

6. Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging up Jericho (London: Ernest Benn, 1957); Excavations at Jericho, vol. 3 (London: British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, 1981).

7. Bryant G. Wood, “Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?” BAR, March/April 1990, 44–58.

8. Lazare, 45–46.

9. Hershel Shanks, “Biran at Ninety,” BAR, September/October 1999, 44.

10. For example, in The Book of Mormon, proper names of places and people have no substantiation from outside sources.

11. William A. Dever, “Save Us from Postmodern Malarkey,” BAR, March/April 2000, 28.

12. William A. Dever, cited in Gordon Govier, “Biblical Archaeology’s Dusty Little Secret,” Christianity Today, October 2003, 38.

13. Steven Feldman, “Is the Bible a Bunch of Historical Hooey?” BAR, May/June 2002, 6.

Paul L. Maier, Copyright 2009 by the Christian Research Institute

Monday, February 5, 2018

Philosophical Contradictions In Transgender Worldview

"If gender is a social construct, how can gender identity be innate and immutable? How can one’s identity with respect to a social construct be determined by biology in the womb? How can one’s identity be unchangeable (immutable) with respect to an ever-changing social construct? And if gender identity is innate, how can it be “fluid”? The challenge for activists is to offer a plausible definition of gender and gender identity that is independent of bodily sex.

Is there a gender binary or not? Somehow, it both does and does not exist, according to transgender activists. If the categories of “man” and “woman” are objective enough that people can identify as, and be, men and women, how can gender also be a spectrum, where people can identify as, and be, both, or neither, or somewhere in between?

What does it even mean to have an internal sense of gender? What does gender feel like? What meaning can we give to the concept of sex or gender—and thus what internal “sense” can we have of gender—apart from having a body of a particular sex? Apart from having a male body, what does it “feel like” to be a man? Apart from having a female body, what does it “feel like” to be a woman? What does it feel like to be both a man and a woman, or to be neither? The challenge for the transgender activist is to explain what these feelings are like, and how someone could know if he or she “feels like” the opposite sex, or neither, or both.

Even if trans activists could answer these questions about feelings, that still wouldn’t address the matter of reality. Why should feeling like a man—whatever that means—make someone a man? Why do our feelings determine reality on the question of sex, but on little else? Our feelings don’t determine our age or our height. And few people buy into Rachel Dolezal’s claim to identify as a black woman, since she is clearly not. If those who identify as transgender are the sex with which they identify, why doesn’t that apply to other attributes or categories of being? What about people who identify as animals, or able-bodied people who identify as disabled? Do all of these self-professed identities determine reality? If not, why not? And should these people receive medical treatment to transform their bodies to accord with their minds? Why accept transgender “reality,” but not trans-racial, trans-species, and trans-abled reality? The challenge for activists is to explain why a person’s “real” sex is determined by an inner “gender identity,” but age and height and race and species are not determined by an inner sense of identity."

https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/02/20971/

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Is The Roman Catholic Eucharist Logical?

  • Allowing The Roman Catholic Catechism To Speak:
          -"In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which 'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out." (CCC # 1364)
          -"By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity." (CCC # 1413)
  • Consider The Words Of Former Presbyterian Turned Roman Catholic Dr. Scott Hahn Concerning His First Encounter With The Eucharist:
          -"Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. I watched and listened as the priest pronounced the words of consecration and elevated the host. And I confess, the last drop of doubt drained away that moment. I looked and said, "My Lord and my God." As the people began going forward to receive communion, I literally began to drool, "Lord, I want you. I want communion more fully with you. You've come into my heart. You've become my personal Savior and Lord, but now I think You want to come onto my tongue and into my stomach, and into my body as well as my soul until this communion is complete." ("Rome Sweet Home")
  • A Detailed Logical Critique Of Roman Catholic Transubstantiation: 
          1.) Why would somebody want to eat human flesh and drink human blood? Is not cannibalism a sure sign of spiritual apostasy (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Ezekiel 5:10)?

          2.) Scripture defines the "gospel" as believing from the heart in the death, burial, resurrection, and the appearance of Jesus Christ before five hundred witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). How come the eucharist is never included in a biblical presentation of the gospel message? How come the earliest church creeds mention nothing about Roman Catholic transubstantiation as being an essential article of the Christian faith?

          3.) How does the alleged power of transubstantiation not imply that the authority of the parish priest is superior to that Jesus Christ? Does he somehow become the creator of the Creator?

          4.) If we must interpret the bread of life discourse in John 6 literally because our Lord Jesus Christ had stated six times to "eat His flesh and drink His blood," then why must we accept what Catholics say when they claim that the term "thousand years" in Revelation 20 is symbolic, yet repeated six times, in support of amillennialism? How does repetition translate into literalness?

          5.) Did not Jesus Christ literally say that all who eat His flesh and drink His blood will receive everlasting life (John 6:54), including unrepentant pagans and atheists? If we are going to be consistent with the literalist interpretation of the bread of life discourse, then should people who eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood (consecrated elements of the Mass) never physically hunger and thirst again (John 6:35)?

          6.) If Jesus' use of the Greek term "phago" (meaning to gnaw, chew, indicates a slow process) in John 6:54-58 decisively proves that we must interpret His words literally, then how come the disciples did not start consuming His flesh and drinking His blood right away?

          7.) If the wine at the Mass becomes the blood of Christ upon consecration by the priest, then why not use it as a substitute when blood shortages occur?

          8.) What biblical basis exists to justify the notion that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass are "one in the same" (CCC #1367)? How can this be? What Scripture teaches that the work of Christ is "ongoing" (CCC #1405)? What did Jesus mean when He had said of His work, "It is finished" (John 19:30)? What does Scripture mean when it states that Christ does not need to offer sacrifices day after day like the high priests of the Old Testament did (Hebrews 7:27)?

          9.) If the host is truly the literal body of Jesus Christ, then should we expect that the bread wafer never becomes stale, moldy, or goes through the process of decomposition (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27)?

          10.) Would the priest be willing to consume the consecrated elements, if he knew that they had been saturated in poison (prior to the event of transubstantiation)?

          11.) Did not Jesus Christ specifically instruct us to serve a cup of wine with the bread during communion (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29)? How come the Roman Catholic Church is not consistent with Scripture on this point?

          12.) If transubstantiation is true, then how is it that the Corinthian Christians, who were found guilty of abusing the Lord's Supper ceremony, had managed to become intoxicated with the wine (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)? Where was the change in "substance" that time? What passage of Scripture actually teaches transubstantiation? How does this process work?

          13.) If "this is my body" and "this is my blood" literally means that the bread and wine were transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, then does "this cup is the new testament" literally mean that the literal cup becomes a literal covenant (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:25)? Is the Lord literally our Rock (Psalm 18:31)? Why not just admit that "is" can mean "this is representative of" or "this symbolizes?" What scriptural evidence do we have suggesting that the apostles had taken Jesus' words literally?

          14.) If the Lord's Supper was truly a Mass service, then how could Jesus be sitting there as the same time proclaiming the bread and wine to be His literal flesh and blood? Would He not be holding Himself? Would we not have an illogical scenario of Jesus Christ offering Himself for the sins of the world prior to the appointed time of the crucifixion?

          15.) If the human body of Christ is located in heaven at the Father's right hand, then how can it be at the same time in thousands of different places at Masses across the globe? How does this not violate His incarnation?

          16.) If the communion wafer is supposed to look identical after transubstantiation into the literal body of Christ, then why not also believe people when they claim to have the ability to transform us into inanimate objects such as iron (our appearances remain the same, yet our substances are drastically altered)? Should we believe the pope if he had just so happened to pronounce an ex-cathedra statement declaring that priests have the ability to transform squares into triangles, or both (without a perceptible change)?

          17.) How do advocates of the eucharist explain the fact that Jesus Christ ate the same bread and drank from the same cup that the Church of Rome claims became His actual body and blood (Matthew 26:27-29; Mark 14:23-25; Luke 22:7-16)? Why would Jesus need to eat His own flesh and drink His own blood when He was already sinless (Hebrews 7:26-27)?

          18.) What does Scripture mean when it states that Christ gave Himself up as a ransom for our sins "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10-14; 1 Peter 3:18)? Why would the atonement sacrifice of Christ need to be "re-presented?" Did Jesus Christ Himself confess to using figurative language on the night of the Last Supper (John 16:25-30)?

          19.) If transubstantiation is true, then how can we know whether the apostles were not simply mislead by their senses when they saw the resurrected Christ?

Happiness According To Scripture

        Many people, including Christians, have wondered what it means to find satisfaction in life. In fact, most have never encountered the rightful source of our happiness, which is God Himself. Our service to Him ought to ignite pleasure and joy. It is quite possible that these individuals have undergone disease, disorder, ill-treatment, or simply yearn for an inherent sense of dignity. Whatever the case, the good news as prescribed by the gospel can alleviate us of sorrows prompted by physical, psychological, and spiritual reasons (Philippians 4:19). It will help the person who desires righteousness to view the glass as half full rather than half empty. The gospel can liberate the confined soul by enabling the mind to rest assured in the fact that God is ultimately in control of life. What does it mean to have true happiness? Where should our happiness originate? Can we be happy without holiness? How we answer these questions determines what we focus on in life.

        Happiness is the pleasurable emotion which occurs when a person is satisfied overall. It is a feeling of delight. It is a feeling of gratitude. It is a feeling of assurance. It is a feeling of appeasement. It is a feeling of consolation. It is a feeling of purposefulness. Happiness is a feeling of livelihood. Happiness is a feeling of perseverance (James 1:3-4). Happiness is a feeling of confidence. It involves trust. It involves faithfulness. Happiness is a state of mental tranquility. Scripture occupies the words happiness and joy synonymously. In other words, they recognize no distinction between the meanings of both words. They are inextricably united (Psalm 68:3; 144:15). Thus, being joyful is the same as being happy. It involves being glad. It involves rejoicing, even during times of hardship and heartache (Romans 5:3-5). It entails praising the God who has lovingly set the universe in order. True happiness as defined according to biblical principles involves glorifying God, especially knowing that He has reconciled us to Himself from iniquity through the atoning work of His Son Jesus Christ. The foundational aspect of happiness is that it is strictly a gift (Romans 14:17). If God is for us, then who or what can be against us? Is not the love of God everything?

        It would be appropriate to address the question regarding the proper source of human happiness. Should our joy be determined by mere circumstance, or should it be centered on a divine Person? Indeed, the truth shall set us free (John 8:31-32). Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6). God's Word is the truth by which the innermost part of our being is sanctified (John 17:14-17). The Bible is the spiritual standard by which the Christian worldview has been established. It is our walk with God that shapes our perception of reality. If we love, know, and serve our Creator from the heart, then we know that we belong to Him (1 John 2:3-4). If we believe from the heart that God had resurrected the Christ from the grave, then we shall be justified in His sight. It is through receiving the message of the gospel that we have been deemed children of God. It needs to be believed with all our heart. It also needs to be believed with our entire mind because the mind is the gateway of the heart. We should be placing our trust in God. It is He who saves us. God sustains us through moments of pain, desolation, distress, and suffering. We can learn to experience authentic joy only when we realize that God's grace is sufficient for us, and that His strength is complemented during the times of our weakness. This is the meaning of leaning on Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-28).

        Scripture informs us of two different, diametrically opposed kinds of happiness. One springs forth from engaging in fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), whereas the latter comes from partaking in fleshly desires (Hebrews 11:25). What needs to be addressed here is the fact that allowing sin to have dominion over our lives is futile, and dangerous to the soul (Galatians 6:7-9). It is unprofitable for us. Fulfilling sinful lusts can only result in feeling finite, temporary satisfaction. In other words, surrendering our will to sin can only result in us feeling a self-deceptive perversion of happiness. Sin is defined scripturally to mean the breaking of God's commandments (1 John 3:4). It is a failure to live up to reality. It is a failure to appreciate the good things that God has designed for us. A sin addiction necessarily involves a repetitive cycle of engaging in that specific transgression. It is pointless to continue in that lifestyle because it can never satisfy the longings of the human soul. This is a form of selfishness and idolatry. Sinful lifestyles are a form of slavery and lawlessness. Quite simply, we cannot resort to a finite source to quench a longing that demands infinite fulfillment. We cannot have lasting happiness and fulfillment apart from God. It is only through Him that we even consistently adhere to objective moral laws. It is only through Him that we can have peace and order. Joy is not a byproduct of holiness, but rather is holiness itself (Psalm 1:1-3; Matthew 5:2-12). It can only be found in serving God according on His terms.

        This essay has been written to explain what it means to be happy and our source of true and lasting happiness. Any happiness that we as Christians experience is centered around the Person and work of Jesus Christ. We are set free from sin through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. God is worthy of our dedication. Our joyous state should therefore be a positive reflection of our spiritual health. We should be striving to be holy as God Himself is holy. His desire that we be saved should be magnified through our preaching and character. This is true happiness. The world is not our home, and so we should not strive to live like the world. Sin can never result in happiness or fulfillment. Our hearts need to be right with God in order to experience eternal bliss.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Consistent Atheism Thought Out Hypothetically

"Then I learned that all moral judgments are “value judgments,” that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured it out for myself – what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself – that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any ‘reason’ to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring – the strength of character – to throw off its shackles…. I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable ‘value judgment’ that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these ‘others’? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a high’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and others as ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me – after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self."

http://www.mandm.org.nz/2008/12/cultural-confusion-and-ethical-relativism-iii.html