Sunday, September 30, 2018

1 John And Assurance Of Salvation

  • The Underlying Motivating Factor Which Prompted The Apostle To Write This Epistle:
           -"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)
  • Various Standards Used In Evaluating Our Overall Relationship With God:
           -According to 1 John 2:1-6, assurance of salvation is based on whether or not we have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. 
           -Our life should be characterized with a desire to please God and obey His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). We should continually be striving for sanctification. 
           -If believers do stumble, the Lord Jesus Christ is their advocate with the Father. 
           -A lack of concern regarding one's status with God or consistent failure to make Him the top priority is sufficient reason to doubt having salvation or indicates a serious need to reexamine a profession of faith. 
           -A person who loves God and loves neighbor as himself or herself can confidently assert having salvation (1 John 3:16-24). A Christian will love truth. Justification changes a person, which is done by the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:4-6).
  • Other Notes:
           -This is not meant to be viewed as an all or nothing proposition or some sort of a legalistic checklist. Rather, the central point of emphasis here is our current state of heart. Are we striving to approach and worship God on His terms or living consistently with worldly standards? God will not accept our worship based on a lie.
           -If a person has doubts regarding his or her salvation, then he or she need not at the moment focus on sanctification, but on justification. Find the root cause of that doubt using Scripture and strive diligently to resolve it.

Legalism Exists In Different Forms

  • Resorting To The Keeping Of The Law As A Means Of Obtaining Fellowship With God:
          -"Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." (Romans 3:27-38)
          -"yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16)
  • Adhering To The Letter, Not The Spirit, Of The Law:
          -"For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:18-20)
          -The incidents of the Scribes and Pharisees confronting the apostles for plucking heads of grain and Jesus healing a crippled man in a synagogue on the Sabbath illustrates this point (Mark 2:23-3:6).
  • Imposing Arbitrary, Extra-Biblical Human Laws In Addition To Or In Disregard For Biblical Doctrine:
          -The Scribes and Pharisees exploited the youth by rewarding disobedience (i.e. giving sums of money to them instead of the parents) which stood in violation of the commandment of God regarding honoring the parents (Matthew 15:3-9).
          -The Scribes and Pharisees were hypocrites regarding the value of the temple verses gold and placed a higher emphasis on tithing (i.e. external appearance so as to receive praise from outsiders) than matters of the Law (Matthew 23:16-24).
  • Imposing Obsolete, Old Testament Requirements On Other Christians:
          -"In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
          -Romans 14:1-23 discusses in depth how we should approach other believers on nonessential matters.

Jehovah's Witnesses And Blood Transfusions

  • Discussion:
          -The Watchtower Society forbids adherents from receiving blood transfusions on the grounds that such a procedure allegedly violates commandments given by God in the Old Testament to not consume blood.

          To preface, blood transfusions were not possible during biblical times because they did not even exist. These procedures were only made possible due to technical advances in medicine and machinery.

          The oral consumption of blood is not the same as intravenously transferring blood from one individual to another who has a matchable blood type. The first process involves digesting so as to nourish the body, whereas the latter involves a substitute to carry on the same bodily functions. Blood transfusions are not meals. 

          The blood itself is not sacred, but the life thereof. Blood transfusions are a voluntary undertaking, not coerced. No sacrificial offering or murder is done in the process. Blood transfusions are done to preserve life. Our Lord Jesus Christ commended self-sacrifice for the welfare of others (John 15:13).

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Jehovah's Witnesses And Their Many False Prophecies

"1897 "Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874," (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p. 621).

1899 " . . . the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced," (The Time Is at Hand, 1908 edition, p. 101).

1916 "The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873," (The Time Is at Hand, forward, p. ii).

1918 "Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection," (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89).

1922 "The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914," (Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262).

1923 "Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge," (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1923, p. 106).

1925 "The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year," (Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1925, p. 3).

1925 "It is to be expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated, the thought that 1925 should see an end to the work," (Watchtower, Sept., 1925, p. 262).

1926 "Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything," (Watchtower, p. 232).

1931 "There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah's faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1917, 1918, and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time . . . and they also learned to quit fixing dates," (Vindication, p. 338).

1941 "Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord's provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon," (Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1941, p. 288).

1968 "True, there have been those in times past who predicted an 'end to the world', even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The 'end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? . . . Missing from such people were God's truths and evidence that he was using and guiding them," (Awake, Oct. 8, 1968)."

The Mythical Sinlessness Of Mary

  • Discussion:
          -Consider the following passage of Scripture in light of the Roman Catholic Church claiming Mary to be sinless throughout her life:

          "Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21)

          "Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Mark 3:31-35)

          If Mary was undefiled by sin, then how does one account for the fact that she once thought her Son Jesus Christ to be mentally deranged? How is this episode of doubting God not a sin? 

Outrageous Behavior Of Liberal College Students

"A toxic combination of identity politics, an increasing tendency to perceive campus problems as medical problems, and altered parenting styles has produced a student body intent on ridding their environment of any ideas deemed threatening. This requires the bastardization of language. Though the mainstream media portrays campuses as extraordinarily unsafe, the crime rate at most U.S. universities is far below the national average (not counting underage drinking). But the perceived danger has called forth a new vocabulary, with “vulnerable” students demanding “safe spaces” to protect them from the unknown. The label “vulnerable,” first used by U.S. media to refer to university students in 1991, appeared 1,407 times in indexed publications in 2015-16. The “remarkable increase in allusions to the vulnerability of students,” [Frank] Furedi writes, “provides a striking illustration of an important transformation of the way that university students are represented and perceived.”

Students and their bureaucratic campus allies demand protection in a variety of ways. “Safe spaces”—like vulnerability, a term that has proliferated and broadened in meaning in recent years—allow students to avoid viewpoints with which they disagree. … Combating “microaggressions,” meanwhile, provides cover for restricting the most innocent speech, if “marginalized” students interpret it (regardless of intent) as hurtful. Students obsessed with identity politics perceive “slights as a form of victimization” and employ “rhetoric that continually reminds the world of [their] victim status.” …

Campus social life is an easy target for adherents of this new, infantilized order. Harvard’s senior administration recently resolved to penalize students for joining off-campus, private, single-sex social clubs—a policy enforceable only if students report on their colleagues. … At Bowdoin in early 2016 some students held a tequila-themed birthday party. Moved to act by the “traumatizing” presence of tiny sombreros, the school offered counseling to students “victimized” by the morally offensive “cultural appropriation.” Two student government members who attended the party faced impeachment hearings. Other students had to move out of their dorm. It’s no surprise that some Bowdoin undergraduates informed the Washington Post that the lesson they learned from the affair was to keep their opinions to themselves.

Calls for outright restrictions on campus speech have become common. Writing in Slate, University of Chicago Law School professor Eric Posner justifies campus speech codes on the grounds that “students today are more like children than adults and need protection.” He contends that speech codes, far from reflecting the ideological agenda of “lefty professors” (although speech codes are almost always targeted at non-leftist speech), are popular because “universities are simply catering to demand in the marketplace for education,” supplying “what most students want.”

KC Johnson, "Rage of the Snowflakes"

Friday, September 28, 2018

"Gay Marriage" Depends On Real Marriage To Exist

"Gay "marriage," taken to its reductio ad absurdum, would terminate in the disappearance of the human race from the face of the Earth. In weakening the institution of marriage, gay people calling themselves spouses actually endorse the logic of species annihilation.

Moreover, to contend, as same-sex couples do, that they can adopt children or rely on sperm donors merely accentuates the paradox, for they reveal themselves as dependent on precisely the sexual fertility which they forsake and the procreative function they have renounced. There would be no gays in the absence of the bonded heterosexual couple that rears children and is socially constrained to provide for their future. There is a debt to be paid in the only way possible: do not insult or damage the institution that gave you existence and continues to sustain it. The fact often adduced by skeptics that not all heterosexual unions are fertile or permanent is beside the point; the ancestral purpose of marriage as an institution remains intact."

David Solway, The Problem with Gay Marriage

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Motivation During Hopeless Times

"Brian had once had an English teacher, a guy named Perpich, who was always talking about being positive, thinking positive, staying on top of things."

Gary Paulsen, Hatchet, pg. 45

The Futility Of Self-Pity

"He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn't work. It wasn't just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that--it didn't work.”

Gary Paulsen, Hatchet, p. 77

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Roman Catholic Dogmas Are Unbiblical

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a few excerpts from a Roman Catholic publication titled Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine, by Michael Müller:

          "Q. Are the doctrines of the Catholic Church then entirely independent of Scripture?

          A. They are; because she taught her doctrines, and they were believed by the early Christians before the New Testament was written—centuries, indeed, before the Bible was collected into its present form; and she would have done so, in precisely the same manner, had they never been written."

          Elsewhere in this question and answer session:

          "Q. Whose duty is it to teach the Christian doctrine?

          A. This is the duty of the pastors of the Catholic Church."

          The next excerpt undoubtedly proves that the Church of Rome worships Mary:

          "Q. Do Protestants love the Mother of God and the Saints?

          A. They do not, or they would not ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and the Saints."

Monday, September 24, 2018

Wives Are Not Inferior

"The teaching [of Ephesians 5:22-31] is that the initiative and the leadership are ultimately the husband’s, but the action must always be co-ordinated. That is the meaning of this picture — co-ordinated action but leadership in the head. There is no sense of inferiority suggested by this. The wife is not inferior to her husband; she is different. She has her won peculiar position, full of honour and respect. That is why the man is later to be told to cherish and to nourish and to love and to care for, and to respect and honour his wife. There is no inferiority involved. What Paul is teaching is that any Christian woman who realizes all this will love to please her husband, to be useful to him, to help him, to aid him, to enable him to function. She will not cavil at saying “and obey” in the marriage service."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home & Work: An Exposition of Ephesians 5:18-6:9, pg. 124-125

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Omnipresence Of The Lord Jesus Christ

  • Discussion:
          -The Bible tells us that God is omnipresent, meaning that He is present everywhere simultaneously. He transcends the boundaries of space and time. He is infinite. He is bound by nothing. These truths are revealed plainly in the Old Testament Scriptures:          

          "But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built." (2 Chronicles 6:18)

          "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me." (Psalm 139:7-10)

          "Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,“And not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
         The various Old Testament expressions describing God as omnipresent are also pertinent to the deity of Christ. Consider the following New Testament passages:

          "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:21-23)

          "For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." (Colossians 1:19-20)

          The next passage is especially worthy of study, since it implies that Christ is both all-knowing and all-present: 

          "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

          Furthermore, it is likely that in Matthew 18:20 the author was alluding to a saying that was popular among the first century Jewish rabbis. Consider the following:

           "But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them, as it is said (Malachi 3:16): “Then those who feared the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who feared the Lord and for those who thought upon His Name.” (Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 3:2)

           Notes from the Pulpit Commentary:

           "The rabbis had a saying that if two sat at table and conversed about the Law of God, the Shechinah rested upon them. The promise in the text, of course, implies Christ's omnipresence and omniscience. This is his blessing on united, congregational prayer."

           This all makes perfect sense, since the gospel narrative of Matthew was originally directed to a Jewish Christian audience. The passage of Matthew 18:20 strongly suggests that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He is the second Person of the Triune God. He is both fully human and divine, which is known as the doctrine of the hypostatic union. In summary, the fact that Jesus is all-present in His divinity proves that He is God.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Trinitarian Perspective Of John 17

  • Points Of Consideration:
           -Our Lord Jesus Christ petitioned the Father to give Him the glory that they shared since before the timing of creation (John 17:4-5), thereby proving that He is eternal. The Son expresses having a relationship with the Father prior to creation (John 17:24). Notice also how God said in the Old Testament that He would give His glory to no other (Isaiah 42:8).
           -The Son reveals an inextricable unity between Himself and the Father (John 17:11; 20; 22). Both partake in the same work. Both are one. If the Father and the Son are one by nature, then does this not imply the latter to be divine? Just as everything belongs to the Father, so everything also belongs to the Son (John 17:10).
           -While the Father is superior to the Son in a positional sense, both are equal in essence. Both are divine. The Father and the Son share the same essence in deity. Jesus oftentimes spoke from a human standpoint, which should not surprise us because He is a composite being. According to John 17:25-26, Jesus reveals to us the Father. The knowledge and understanding of God transcends our mental faculties by an infinite margin. How could Christ reveal to us the Father if He Himself were not also God?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Navigating Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape

"The question then is, what is the best foundation for the existence of objective moral values and duties? What grounds them? What makes certain actions good or evil, right or wrong? Traditionally, God has been the highest Good (summum bonum) and His commandments constitutive of our moral duties. But if God does not exist, what foundation remains for objective moral values and duties?

That takes us to a second question: Does atheism provide a sound foundation for objective moral duties? Duty has to do with moral obligation and prohibition, what I ought or ought not to do. Here reviewers of The Moral Landscape have been merciless in pounding Harris’ attempt to provide a naturalistic account of moral obligation. Two problems stand out.

First: Natural science tells us only what is, not what ought to be, the case. As philosopher Jerry Fodor has written, “Science is about facts, not norms; it might tell us how we are, but it wouldn’t tell us what is wrong with how we are.” In particular it cannot tell us that we have a moral obligation to take actions that are conducive to human flourishing.

So if there is no God, what foundation remains for objective moral duties? On the naturalistic view, human beings are just animals, and animals have no moral obligations to one another. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra, but it does not murder the zebra. When a great white shark forcibly copulates with a female, it forcibly copulates with her but it does not rape her — for there is no moral dimension to these actions. They are neither prohibited nor obligatory.

So if God does not exist, why think we have any moral obligations to do anything? Who or what imposes these moral duties on us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why they would be anything more than a subjective impression ingrained into us by societal and parental conditioning.

Second: “ought” implies “can.” A person is not morally responsible for an action he is unable to avoid. For example, if somebody shoves you into another person, you are not to blame for bumping into this person. You had no choice. But Harris believes that all of our actions are causally determined and that there is no free will. Harris rejects not only libertarian accounts of freedom but also compatibilistic accounts of freedom. But if there is no free will, no one is morally responsible for anything. In the end, Harris admits this, though it’s tucked away in his endnotes. Moral responsibility, he says, “is a social construct,” not an objective reality: “in neuroscientific terms no person is more or less responsible than any other” for the actions they perform. His thoroughgoing determinism spells the end of any hope or possibility of objective moral duties on his worldview because we have no control over what we do.

Harris recognizes that “determinism really does threaten free will and responsibility as we intuitively understand them.” But not to worry! “The illusion of free will is itself an illusion.” The point, I take it, is that we do not really have the illusion of free will. Not only is such a claim patently false phenomenologically, as any of us can attest, but it is also irrelevant. The fact remains that whether we experience the illusion of free will or not, on Harris’ view we are thoroughly determined in all that we think and do and can therefore have no moral responsibilities."

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Concise Genealogy Of The King James Only Movement

"The KJO view was articulated by Benjamin G. Wilkinson (1872–1968), a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, in the book Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930). This book was plagiarized by Jasper James Ray (1955) and by Peter Ruckman (1964). In 1970, Wilkinson's writing was republished in Which Bible? (1970), properly attributed this time. This book is a collection of essays edited by Fuller. Fuller added numerous footnotes to correct errors and misunderstandings in the Wilkinson text, some of which involve basic matters of church history. Fuller presents the footnotes as if they were written by Wilkinson, so Wilkinson's lack of expertise is not as apparent in the 1970 edition as it was in earlier editions.[1] Several major Bible translations appeared in the early 1970s, making Fuller's treatment topical. Fuller's book got far more attention than earlier works on this subject. It is considered responsible for kicking off KJO as a movement." (Conservapedia, "King James Only")

Psalm 138:2 And King James Onlyism

  • Discussion:
           -A text of Scripture that is commonly cited by King James Version only advocates in venerating their translation of preference is Psalm 138:2, which is quoted as follows:

           "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." (Psalm 138:2, KJV)

           They take note of the fact that modern reputable Bible translations do not render the phrase "magnified thy word above all thy name" in the same manner as the King James Version and claim this to be an attack on the authority of God's Word. Here is how some of the modern translations render Psalm 138:2:

           "I will bow down toward your holy temple, and give thanks to your name, because of your loyal love and faithfulness, for you have exalted your promise above the entire sky." (Psalm 138:2, NET Bible)

           "I face your holy Temple, bow down, and praise your name because of your constant love and faithfulness, because you have shown that your name and your commands are supreme." (Psalm 138:2, Good News Translation)

           "I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your loving devotion and Your faithfulness; You have exalted Your name and Your word above all else." (Psalm 138:2, Berean Study Bible)

           All these renderings in different English translations communicate to us the same message--the authority of God does not transcend His own Word. In other words, He lives according to His laws. God acts consistently with His own character. He is perfect. He is holy. He is just. This psalm is a testimony of His faithfulness and trustworthiness. God is worthy of our devotion. The different renderings of Psalm 138:2 in modern reputable English translations of the Bible have nothing to do with some wicked scheme to destroy the King James Version or undermine the Word of God. That is simply the nature of the translation process. In fact, the diversity in rendering the text of Psalm 138:2 is found in English Bibles which existed even prior to the King James Version:

           "I will worship towards thy holy temple, and I will give glory to thy name. For thy mercy, and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy holy name above all. (Psalm 138:2, Douay Rheims)

           "I wyll worshyppe towarde thy holy temple, and prayse thy name, because of thy louynge kyndnesse and trueth: for thou hast magnifyed thy name and thy worde aboue all thynges." (Psalm 138:2, The Great Bible)

           "I shall worship to(ward) thine holy temple, and I shall acknowledge to thy name. On thy mercy and thy truth; for thou hast magnified thine holy name above all thing. (I shall worship towards thy holy Temple, and I shall praise thy name; because of thy love, and thy faithfulness; for thou hast magnified thy holy name above all things.)" (Psalm 138:2, Wycliffe Bible)

            Who is to say that the King James Version rendering of the text in question is the definitive, "God ordained" way? What evidence is there for making this translation the standard by which all others be judged? 

Does Psalm 12:6-7 Ensure Infallible Preservation Of The King James Version?

  • Discussion:
           -King James Version only advocates frequently cite the text of Psalm 12:6-7 as evidence of that particular English translation being infallibly preserved by God:

           "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." (Psalm 12:6-7)

           The context of Psalm 12:6-7 makes it clear that God is preserving His faithful remnant among the wicked. The context of the passage pertains to God preserving His saints in the face of persecution. King David, the psalmist, is pleading for the divine intervention and protection of the Lord in the midst of hostile opposition by those who despise the ways of holiness. Psalm 37:28 and Psalm 121:1-8 are valid cross references in this case. If Psalm 12:6-7 was meant to be a promise of infallible preservation of the Word of God through the King James Version, then which of the ten revisions of that translation is the promised one? Where was the Word of God when King David penned these words in Psalm 12:6-7? Where in context does this so-called promise of preserving the Word of God demand that it be applied exclusively to the King James Version?

           Consider this excerpt from the Translator Notes to the Reader which is found in the 1611 edition of the King James Version:

           "The Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, through which the olive branches empty themselves into the golden bowl. If truth is to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a translation be made out of them? These tongues therefore, we should say Scriptures in those tongues, we set before us to translate, being the tongues in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles.”

           This proves that the committee which gathered to produce the King James translation engaged in the same textual criticism as do modern translators. Furthermore, Psalm 12:7 in the 1611 King James Version contains this variant reading in a marginal note:

           "Heb. him, i. euery one of them."

           Renderings of Psalm 12:7 in English translations older than the King James:

           "[Wherfore] thou wylt kepe the godly, O God: thou wylt preserue euery one of them from this generation for euer." (Psalm 12:7, Bishop's Bible)

            "Thou, O Lord, wilt preserve us.: and keep us from this generation for ever." (Psalm 12:7, Douay-Rheims Bible)

           God has preserved His Word through the wealth of available manuscript evidence and early source attestation. The Bible as we know it today is inspired, inerrant, and infallible, with the difference being that it exists in a plethora of translations among different languages. God has preserved His Word, despite attempts to destroy it. We have not lost the Word of God, despite there being textual variances among biblical manuscripts. Not one casts doubt upon the articles of the Judeo-Christian worldview. The historic Christian position on the Bible is that it is the inspired Word of God, and has never been restricted to a single translation. The notion of a Bible translation being inspired in the same sense as the original autographs is a relatively novel concept.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Entitlements And Welfare

"Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it."

John D. Rockefeller

Monday, September 17, 2018

Debunking Catholic Apologist Steve Ray On The Eucharist

  • Discussion:
          -This article strives to interact with a post published by Roman Catholic apologist Steve Ray at Catholic Answers called Ankerberg Aweigh on the dogma of transubstantiation. Following are quotations from the author in pink alongside my comments:

          "The Catholic Church does not teach that Christ is "re-sacrificed" on the altar. Why does Ankerberg say that it does? The quotation he uses from the Catholic Encyclopedia does not use anything like"re-sacrifice," yet Ankerberg says it teaches "re-sacrificing." Words are important; smart Catholics will catch on to what he is doing- playing footloose with terminology to suit his own interests."

          The Eucharist is called a divine sacrifice (CCC, 1068), and is done repeatedly. We are told that the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of Jesus are "one in the same sacrifice" (CCC, 1367). The Eucharist is believed to be propitiatory (CCC, 1367). It supposedly makes atonement for sin (CCC 1414). So this Roman Catholic distinction between "re-sacrifice" and "re-presentation" is weak. The principle of Jesus Christ being offered "once for all" is nevertheless violated. He has already perfected us (Hebrews 10:10-14). The author creates a distinction without a difference.

          "Catholics teach that there was only one sacrifice and that the Mass is a re-presentation of that sacrifice, a partaking in and of the one sacrifice-the eating of the Lamb (Ex. 12:11, John 6:52-58)."

          The manna is a type of Christ, not communion wafer. The Old Testament "blood of the covenant" passages point to the once for all sacrifice of Christ, and say nothing regarding the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. Nowhere does Scripture convey to us that the consumption of the communion elements imparts to believers saving grace. The Lord's Supper has sacrificial overtones, in that the bread and wine point to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ (i.e. not to themselves). Jason Engwer of Triablogue in the comments section of an article provided insights as to various weaknesses in the standard Romanist interpretation of John 6 which I could not have stated better myself:

           "Jesus was speaking before the institution of the eucharist, yet He held His audience responsible for eating and drinking in the present, before they had any opportunity to participate in the eucharist. He says that coming to Him and believing in Him satisfies our hunger and thirst (John 6:35, 6:40, etc.), which means that a believer has consumed His flesh and blood before he participates in his first post-conversion eucharist. Jesus says that nobody has life unless he eats and drinks His flesh and blood, yet Roman Catholicism teaches that people can be justified before participation in the eucharist or without participating in it. Etc. There are a lot of problems with the popular Catholic reading of John 6."

          "So we have an anomaly: Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, and Christ, the Lamb of God, standing on the altar. In the temporal world, he was slain once-but in heaven, the world outside time, it appears that the sacrifice of Christ is an eternal event. We are even told that he was crucified before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)."

          Even though the Scripture portrays the sacrifice of Christ as being displayed on an alter in heaven to remind us continually of His atonement, the effects of His work are permanent. Only He can offer Himself up. He has conquered death, and never has to offer Himself up as a sacrifice again (Romans 6:9-10; Hebrews 10:18). True Christians worship at the alter of God, not the alter itself. In other words, Catholics confuse the communion elements with what they are supposed to be representative of. True Christians worship the Person of whom the communion elements signify, not the bread and wine themselves.

          Nowhere does the New Testament teach that the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass are inextricably united. Nowhere does the New Testament tell us that the sacrifice of Christ is made present during the Mass by an ordained ministerial priest consecrating the communion elements.

          If the literalistic interpretation of the Last Supper is correct, and Jesus stated that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine with the apostles until they be in the Father's kingdom (Matthew 26:29), then does that not also mean the Lord Jesus Christ is going to continue drinking His blood with His disciples in heaven throughout eternity? Does this mean that Roman Catholics who partake of the Eucharist become living tabernacles? If the consecrated wafer is the body of Christ, then should we not be able to use it in the process of cloning Him? How is consuming a person's flesh and blood communion?

          If the Church of Rome had such a high view of Christ, then why is He so frequently portrayed in congregations as dead crucified on a cross or as a helpless babe in the arms of Mary? Why is it that this sacrificial meal is the ultimate reality of celebration and worship for Roman Catholics, instead of His work at Calvary and bodily resurrection?

          As is usual for Roman Catholic apologists, this author refers us to the writings of church fathers. Here are some links of my own to answer those:

           It should not surprise us when early Christian writers made statements similar to "this is my body" and "this is my blood", since they were alluding to the words spoken by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. The focus should become what is meant by such language, depending on the context in which it is used. This excerpt from Church Historian Philip Schaff's work called History of the Church, Volume II, paragraph 69, is pertinent here:

          "The doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, not coming into special discussion, remained indefinite and obscure [during the period from 100-325 AD]. The ancient church made more account of the worthy participation of the ordinance than of the logical apprehension of it. She looked upon it as the holiest mystery of Christian worship, and accordingly, celebrated it with the deepest devotion, without inquiring into the mode of Christ’s presence, nor into the relation of the sensible signs to his flesh and blood. It is unhistorical to carry any of the later theories back into this age; although it has been done frequently in the apologetic and polemic discussion of this subject.”

          An excerpt from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online:

           "The Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries show us what is practically our present Roman Mass. How did the service change from the one to the other? It is one of the chief difficulties in the history of liturgy. During the last few years, especially, all manner of solutions and combinations have been proposed. We will first note some points that are certain, that may serve as landmarks in an investigation…Justin gives us the fullest Liturgical description of any Father of the first three centuries (Apol. I, lxv, lxvi, quoted and discussed in LITURGY). He describes how the Holy Eucharist was celebrated at Rome in the middle of the second century; his account is the necessary point of departure, one end of a chain whose intermediate links are hidden. We have hardly any knowledge at all of what developments the Roman Rite went through during the third and fourth centuries. This is the mysterious time where conjecture may, and does, run riot. By the fifth century we come back to comparatively firm ground, after a radical change. At this time we have the fragment in Pseudo-Ambrose, “De sacramentis” (about 400. Cf. P.L., XVI, 443), and the letter of Pope Innocent I (401-17) to Decentius of Eugubium (P.L., XX, 553). In these documents we see that the Roman Liturgy is said in Latin and has already become in essence the rite we still use."
          Notes by Christian apologist William Webster on the beginning of the historic development of Roman Catholic Eucharist theology:

           "Men began to see the priest and Christian ministry as being parallel to priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament. And though the analogy had been set forth by Fathers earlier, they always emphasized that New Testament ministry had displaced the carnal sacrifices of Judaism with the spiritual sacrifices of the Church on the basis of the completed sacrifice of Christ. But now the analogy lost its spiritual character. More and more Christianity begins to lose its true spirituality to materializing and externalizing influences. With a materialistic view of the elements in the eucharist there now began to develop through the influence of Cyprian, with his view of the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood, the concept of the eucharist as a literal sacrifice, even though Cyprian himself still retains to a large degree the idea that this sacrifice is a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice."

           An excerpt from Dr. Francis Nigel Lee's Fifty-Five These Against Transubstantiation:

           "Even since A.D. 831, many Roman Catholics still opposed such transubstantiation. So: Ratramnus, Berengarius, John Scotus Eriguena, Rabanus Maurus, Walafrid Strabo, Christian Druthmar, Florus Magister, Eusebius Bruno (Bishop of Angers), Frollant (Bishop of Senlis), and Elfric. Also, according to the famous RC Cardinal Bellarmine in his De Sacramento Eucharistea (111:5 and 4 dII q.6 art. 1,2 and q. 3 art. 1,2 and I:5) - even the celebrated Cardinal Cameracensus said: "Transubstantiation cannot be proved from Holy Writ .... To this Cardinal Roffensis, Cardinal Cajetan and also Scotus all concur." Indeed, the RC scholars Gabriel, Nicolus, Cusanus, Tapper, Hessel and others all present the "Protestant" interpretation of John 6:54. See Dr. P.G. Logan's Ph.D. dissertation The History and Doctrine of Transubstantiation, Sydney, 1994, pp. 84f."

          The Roman Catholic apologist being critiqued in this article provides these comments on the text of 1 Corinthians 10 as being evidence for transubstantiation:

          "Notice the sacrificial language being used. The term "table of the Lord" is a technical term which in the Old Testament always refers to a table of sacrifice. Why would Paul use such blatantly sacrificial terminology if he is trying to deny any association between the Eucharist and sacrifice?"

          The context of this passage pertains more to appropriate conduct and application of discernment in worship services than having a correct view on the Eucharist. The purpose and meaning, not the substance, of the communion elements are being discussed in 1 Corinthians 10-11. The communion that the pagans had with idols was also very real, yet there is no evidence suggesting that their offerings were transubstantiated. The Apostle Paul stated that Jesus Christ was the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:3-4), yet He never underwent a process of literal petrification. If eating causes one to "participate" in the sacrifice itself, then why would the Apostle Paul tell his audience that it is fine for them eat the meat offered to idols? Even granting that this text makes mention of the Eucharist, it does not prove transubstantiation. There is not even the slightest hint of an ordained ministerial priesthood in this context.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Christians Should Not Belong To Sects

"If your church associates with a group of churches that requires exclusive allegiance to itself, you are part of a sect. Despite their boastful claims, sects do not understand the New Testament doctrine of the Church. They are in error. All sects are based on half-truths, faulty reasoning, doctrinal oddities, deceptions, guilt-manipulation, and fear, which are not of the Spirit of truth and liberty. If your church denies you your Spirit-given right and privilege to fellowship with all Christ-loving, bible-loving Christians and churches, you need to obey God rather than man and free yourself and family from these unbiblical chains."

Alexander Strauch, “The Interdependence of Local Churches.” From the book, Understanding the Church, compiled and edited by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p.206-207

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Case For The Traditional Authorship Of 2 Peter

  • Introduction:
          -2 Peter has been rather controversial amongst critical scholars in regards to the dating and authorship, and in fact was questioned the most heavily out of all the New Testament books in the early church. Many professing Christians in the conservative evangelical realm have been quick to dispute claims of this epistle being second century pseudepigraphical literature on the grounds of such jeopardizing the doctrines of biblical inspiration and inerrancy. This article strives to present evidences pointing in favor of the Apostle Peter being the author of the writing in focus. The fact that 2 Peter underwent such scrutiny in the early church and still passed standards of canonicity is an argument for it being genuine. Critics of the Bible are simply overstating their case. There is ultimately no solid grounds for rejecting the traditional authorship of 2 Peter.
  • The Internal Evidence For The Apostle Peter Being The Author Of 2 Peter Is Strong:
          -The author of the epistle claims to have been present in the transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18), which was not a major theme of later Christian preaching. Nowhere in context did the author claim to have received additional special revelation from this event. This is perfectly consistent with the Apostle Peter being the author of 2 Peter.
          -Another factor favoring the traditional dating and authorship of 2 Peter is the fact that the author describes Paul in 2 Peter 3:15-16 as being a "beloved brother", as if both were well-acquainted. 
          -The author of the epistle claims in 2 Peter 1:13-16 to have been ready to be martyred for his faith as the Lord Jesus Christ solemnly foretold. This is consistent with traditional authorship, since the Apostle Peter would have been an elderly man being held in custody under Roman guards awaiting his death sentence by the Emperor Nero. The author of 2 Peter even claims to be an eyewitness of the risen Lord. The author in 2 Peter 3:1 claims to have written a previous letter.
  • Addressing The Rejection By Critical Scholars The Internal Evidence Of 2 Peter Being Authentic:
          -"They base this claim on the fact that it is typical pseudepigraphal genre similar to that done in the pastoral epistles.14 But as we have seen, this is an assumption. It is also circular reasoning, because it has not been proven, nor is it unanimously accepted, that the pastoral epistles are pseudepigraphal.

           ...Claims that personal references prove forgery are based purely on prejudice because unless the ink is still wet and the author long dead, it cannot be proved to be false. Charles Bigg says, “As regards what an author says about himself, we can ask only whether…it is possible or impossible. But no document was ever condemned as a forgery upon this ground.”15." (Hampton Keathley IV,, "The Authorship of Second Peter")
  • The Most Primitive Patristic Writers Were Well Aware Of 2 Peter:
          -"...there is good evidence that other early Christians knew 2 Peter. These include Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Irenaeus (c. 130-200), Justin Martyr (c. 115-165), the Apocalypse of Peter (c. 110), and 1 Clement (c. 95-97).

           Clement of Alexandria wrote a now-lost commentary of 2 Peter. Irenaeus seems to use 2 Peter 3:8 when quoting Psalm 90:4. Both quotes of this verse are very similar which is interesting since they are different from the LXX and diverge from it in the exact same way. Justin makes a striking allusion in his Dialogue with Trypho (82.1) to 2 Peter 2:1. The Apocalypse of Peter (c. 110) “certainly” shows evidence of influence from 2 Peter.[8] We also have a number of connections with 1 Clement and 2 Peter (1 Clement 21.5 and 2 Peter 2:1ff; 1 Clem 23 and 2 Pet 3:4, etc.)." (Christian Worldview Press, "Who Wrote Second Peter?")
  • Other Points Worthy Of Consideration:
          -"Moreover, it is seemingly irrational that a false teacher would spuriously write a letter against false teachers. No unusual, new, or false doctrines appear in 2 Peter. So, if 2 Peter were a forgery, it would be a forgery written by a fool for no reason at all. This is too much to believe. The conclusion to the question of authorship is that, when the writer introduced the letter and referred to himself as Peter, he was writing the truth." (John MacArthur, Grace to You, "Introduction of Second Peter") 
          -"there is good external evidence that it was written in the 1st century by someone like Peter who was a contemporary of the events. The noted archaeologist William F. Albright dated 2 Peter before a.d. 80. The discovery of the Bodmer papyri (P72, ca. a.d. 250) reveals that it was highly respected in Egypt at an early date. The book was cited as authentic by numerous early church fathers, including Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, and Augustine." (Dr. Norman Geisler, Defending Inerrancy, "2 PETER 1:1—DID THE APOSTLE PETER REALLY WRITE THIS BOOK?")
  • Addressing Stylistic Variations Between 1 Peter And 2 Peter:
          -"Although 2 Peter has fewer formal quotations, his clear allusions to the OT are made from Psalms (2 Pet 3:8), Proverbs (2 Pet 2:22); Isaiah (2 Pet 3:13) which are each explicitly cited in 1 Peter.88 This remarkable correlation seems to suggest the separate writings of one person rather than a deliberate imitation; thus it can hardly be considered accidental. This connection is supported by references to Noah in each epistle (1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 3:6) and to the OT prophecy (1 Pet 1:10–12; 2 Pet 1:20–21).

           ...At points it seems the critics almost expect Peter’s second epistle to be simply a rehash of the same material so that identical vocabulary and themes would reappear.89 However, this expectation is certainly unreasonable considering the very different circumstances and purposes behind each epistle. Another difficulty with these types of arguments is seen in the fact that Peter’s writing style is not so easily defined or identified as some other New Testament authors." (e.g. John and Paul)." (Michael J. Kruger, PDF document “The Authenticity of 2 Peter", pages 12-13)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Argument From Desire

"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Multiculturalism And Moral Relativism

Once the ideas and insights of an individual or group are disseminated, anyone can employ them. No one culture owns its accomplishments; they belong to everyone. When the knowledge is out there, we can all access it. There is no inexorable link to race or ethnic origin.

For example, even though primarily Western scholars have developed modern physics, it is not inherently Western. If a primitive thinks he can jump off a thousand-foot precipice and fly because the totem told him he can, he will die. His death is not caused by Eurocentric science but by his ignorance of the nature of reality Western scientists articulate.

Having said all of this, we must emphasize that if significant accomplishments have been ignored, we should redress the injustice-not because of the race or ethnicity of the thinker but because of the importance of the ideas.

George Reisman, an economist at Pepperdine University, has made similar observations. He argues that the trends toward "multicultural education" and "diversity" as well as critiques of "Eurocentric" or "Western" values are misguided and ill-informed.

For one thing, these trends imply that all cultures have contributed to human progress and knowledge equally. Reisman argues that this is false, since Western values-whether scientific, philosophical, economic, or moral-have proved to be vastly superior. These societies that have embraced Western values, whether geographically in the Far East or in the West, reveal this.

In addition, Western civilization is open to everyone, since it constitutes a body of knowledge and values that is not linked inexorably to any race, nationality, or region of the globe. For these reasons, Reisman contends that multiculturalism is a new form of racism because it reduces matter of the intellect to a matter of racial or ethnic membership.

Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, p. 94-95

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Notes On The Dead Sea Scrolls

"While the Dead Sea scrolls contain copies of several books of the Apocrypha, they contain far more copies of pseudepigraphal books like 1 Enoch that even the Roman Catholic church admits are clearly not inspired. What is important to note here, however, is that owning copies of a book does not imply belief in that book's inspiration. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain a variety of community rules, historical documents, festival calendars, and other uninspired documents that the community found useful. The scrolls do not contain commentaries on the Apocrypha as they do for the Jewish Old Testament books, and they do not cite the Apocrypha authoritatively as scripture. This probably indicates that even the Essene community did not regard the Apocrypha as highly as the Jewish Old Testament books." (Ryan Turner,, "Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible")

" 1947, some Bedouin shepherds were looking for some lost sheep in the hill sides surrounding the Dead Sea in Israel. One of the shepherds threw a rock into a distant cave and heard the sound of pottery shattering.

...What scholars discovered was not just one cave, but eleven caves. Instead of a few manuscripts, scholars uncovered a library of writings from the Essene community including various books from the Old Testament, commentaries on Old Testament books, and other extra-Biblical literature.

Interestingly, these writings included parts of every single book of the Old Testament minus the book of Esther. Perhaps the most interesting discovery was an almost complete Isaiah scroll. When scholars compared the Isaiah scroll to our earliest copies of Isaiah previous to then (900 to 1000 A.D.), they found that there were only about 13 textual variations. Regarding Isaiah 53, which predicts the suffering and death of Jesus, they only found one variation in the entire chapter that had any possible significance: putting "light" in Isaiah 53:11." (Ryan Turner,, "Has the Old Testament been corrupted?")

Friday, September 7, 2018

Is There A Bible Contradiction In Numbers 25:9 And 1 Corinthians 10:8?

  • Discussion:
          -Skeptics may attempt to discredit the historical reliability of the Bible by pointing to how both Moses and the Apostle Paul seemingly gave different numbers as to the death toll in a plague which was a result of God's wrath on Israel for rampant sexual immorality with the Moabite women and offering sacrifices to the Moabite idols. All of this took place when the Jews sojourned at Shittim. The two passages of Scripture being discussed in this article are quoted as follows:

          "Those who died by the plague were 24,000." (Numbers 25:9)

          "Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day." (1 Corinthians 10:8)

          Paul mentioned in the surrounding context of the verse in the epistle to the Corinthians quoted above four separate occasions where the nation of Israel provoked God to anger through the sins of licentiousness, idolatry, and putting Him to the test. The consequence of actions done by such individuals was death. Thus, we see that the apostle was bringing into mind occasions recorded in the Old Testament showing how God detests sin with the intention of exhorting the Church of Corinth to depart from sinful lifestyles.

          The morals being taught here are of much greater importance than knowing the precise number of Jewish people who died in the Baal Peor incident. Additionally, it is not true that the two statements on the number of deaths that differ by one thousand are irreconcilable. The Apostle Paul was emphasizing the solemn nature of God and His intolerance of sin. Notice especially these words in the later context:

          "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:11-14)

          According to John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:

          " ( Numbers 25:9 ) the number said to be "twenty and four thousand": and so say all the three Targums on the place F23, and both the Talmuds F24 and others {y}; on the other hand, all the Greek copies of this epistle, and the Oriental versions, agree in the number of twenty and three thousand; so that it does not appear to be any mistake of copies, in either Testament."

          According to Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible:

          "Three and twenty thousand - The Hebrew text in Numbers 25:9, is twenty-four thousand. In order to reconcile these statements, it may be observed that perhaps 23,000 fell directly by the plague, and 1,000 were slain by Phinehas and his companions (Grotius); or it may be that the number was between 23,000 and 24,000, and it might be expressed in round numbers by either - Macknight. At all events, Paul has not exceeded the truth."

           According to the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

          "three and twenty thousand] In Numbers 25:9 we find 24,000. The actual number would no doubt be between the two, so that both here and in the book of Numbers only round numbers are given. “Our Apostle saith not definitely three and twenty thousand perished, but three and twenty thousand at the least.” Lightfoot."

           According to Adam Clarke's Commentary:

           "St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 8, reckons only twenty-three thousand; though some MSS. and versions, particularly the latter Syriac and the Armenian, have twenty-four thousand, with the Hebrew text. Allowing the 24, 000 to be the genuine reading, and none of the Hebrew MSS. exhibit any various reading here, the two places may be reconciled thus: 1, 000 men were slain in consequence of the examination instituted ver. 4, and 23, 000 in consequence of the orders given ver. 5; making 24, 000 in the whole. St. Paul."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Simple Test Of Non-Christian Worldviews

"Materialism, a belief that asserts that all things that exist are made up of matter and energy, is itself not material or energy, but a nonmaterial concept. This means materialism cannot exist within materialism. Thus, materialism is self-defeating and refuted.

Eastern religions, like Taoism and Hinduism, have an impersonal “god” (e.g., Brahman or ultimate reality). How then can anyone know that this “god” is impersonal? After all, this “god” cannot communicate anything about itself to man since communication is personal. This is arbitrary, to say the least, and self-refuting.

Agnosticism, which claims that one cannot know if God exists, has no basis for the existence of knowledge and thus is stuck in a catch-22. The agnostic cannot even know if he can or cannot know if knowledge exists. Thus, he cannot even know if he is in a position to determine if God exists or not. (Confusing, isn’t it?) Thus, it is inconsistent and self-contradictory.

...Naturalism, which is a belief that nature (all that is physical) is all that exists, is itself not part of nature—being conceptual and nonphysical. Thus, naturalism stands opposed to naturalism. This is inconsistent and self-refuting."

Bodie Hodge, "A Few Micro-Refutations"

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Romans Road To Salvation

  • The Apostle Paul's epistle to the Romans has a short, yet comprehensive way of explaining the salvation of mankind from eternal condemnation in the flames of hell:
           -"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
           -"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
           -"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
           -"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
           -"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)

What About All The People Who Have Never Heard Of Jesus Christ And The Gospel?

  • Discussion:
          -Whether or not people who never had an opportunity to hear and believe on the gospel for salvation are exempt from the wrath of God is not so much a rational, but emotional, question. It concerns the eternal destiny of every individual. How the question is answered shapes the way that we preach the gospel to people of different religions.

         Two things that are of foundational importance to understand here are that God has both inscribed His moral laws into our hearts (Romans 2:15) and manifested Himself plainly through nature (Romans 1:18-20). He is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:26-27). A person's invincible inability to attain knowledge of Jesus Christ for whatever reason is not the problem. The real issue is the sin nature that we inherited from the fall has given us the tendency to reject the things of God. It is our sins against Him that has placed us under spiritual condemnation.

          Even though Scripture acknowledges men such as Cornelius who had feared God prior to receiving the message of the gospel, the New Testament still records the Lord directing the man to the Apostle Peter so that he could receive the good news of salvation (Acts 10). God does take into account one's ability to understand His precepts in judgement (John 15:22; Romans 2:12-13). The people who knowingly and willingly rebel against God and reject His message of forgiveness are under condemnation. Every person who has a rational mind is culpable.

          If every unbeliever is automatically saved just because of a lack of knowledge regarding the Person of Christ and His atonement, then the gospel that we preach would be needless. In fact, the concept of evangelism would be rendered nonsensical. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. We should be making the greatest effort possible to ensure that everybody gets a chance to hear the gospel. That is the underlying goal of the Great Comission. We should be grateful that God has provided even one way for us to be reconciled with Him (John 14:6; Hebrews 4:14-16).

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Evolution Cannot Explain The Immaterial

"Darwinism asserts that only materials exist, but materials don’t have morality. How much does hate weigh? Is there an atom for love? What’s the chemical composition of the murder molecule? These questions are meaningless because physical particles are not responsible for morality. If materials are solely responsible for morality, then Hitler had no real moral responsibility for what he did—he just had bad molecules. This is nonsense, and everyone knows it. Human thoughts and transcendent moral laws are not material things any more than the laws of logic and mathematics are material things. They are immaterial entities that cannot be weighed or physically measured. As a result, they can’t be explained in material terms by natural selection or any other atheistic means."

Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, pg.187

The New Perspective On Paul Repudiated By Roman Catholic Apologist Robert Sungenis

"Today, many Catholics are confused as to the meaning of the phrase "works of the law." This phrase appears in such passages as Romans 3:28: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." I receive calls and letters quite frequently from people asking what the phrase really means. They read in my books what they understand as the historic teaching of the Catholic church, but then they hear some other Catholic apologist say something a little different.

Unfortunately, the meaning of "works of the law" is such a crucial area to understanding both St. Paul and the Catholic teaching on Justification, that I feel compelled to reiterate more forcefully what I have already written in my 1997 book, Not By Faith Alone.

Various Catholic apologists today, when teaching on the meaning of the "works of the law," will often explain it as referring to the ceremonial law of Israel, to the exclusion, or the virtual exclusion, of the remaining law in Israel. (The ceremonial law refers to all the ritual religious practices, such as circumcision, eating kosher foods, priestly sacrifices, seventh-day sabbath observance, etc).

Sad to say, that answer is at best a half-truth, and at worst, it is a distortion of the Catholic teaching on Justification.

One of the reasons these apologists categorize "works of the law" as referring to the ceremonial law is that they have found it to be an easy polemical tool against Protestants. Protestants say that St. Paul condemns ALL work as having any part in Justification. The Catholic apologist counters by saying that when Paul uses the phrase "works of the law" he does not mean ALL works; he only means the works of the ceremonial law of Israel.

The Catholic will then add that in Paul's confining "works of the law" to the ceremonial law, he specifically meant to exclude the moral law, such as those we find in the Commandments. Therefore, in Romans 3:28, Paul really means: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Ceremonial Law," (but all other "good" works can, and do, justify a man).

In giving this kind of answer, the Catholic thinks he has satisfactorily defended the Catholic faith and silenced the Protestant. To bolster his case, he may enlist the help of Romans 3:29 as proof that his answer is correct: "Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also." He then explains that since Paul speaks of "Jews only," then the "works of the law" mentioned in the previous verse (3:28) must be something that identifies only with the Jews but not with the Gentiles. In that he is correct, but as we will see later, the answer he gives as to the distinguishing characteristic (the ceremonial law) is only partially correct, and in being such, it is the wrong answer to this most crucial question.

The "New Perspective on Paul"

In a similar vein, there are also a few Catholic apologists who have sided with the views of a new breed of Protestant exegetes. These Protestants have advanced what they call "The New Perspective on Paul." Current proponents of this new perspective are such Protestant names as James D. G. Dunn, E. P. Sanders, Alan Suggate, N. T. Wright and R. B. Hays, among others. Dunn's first attempt at advancing this theory came in the article "The New Perspective on Paul" (1983) and the book: The Justice of God: A Fresh Look at the Old Doctrine of Justification by Faith (1993), while E. P. Sanders wrote Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977). N. T. Wright expressed his view in the article "Romans and the Theology of Paul" (1995); while Hays wrote "Three Dramatic Roles: The Law in Romans 3-4."

Although it is often touted as a "new" theory, in reality it stems from the views of Protestant William Werde in his 1897 German publication, which has since been translated into English under the title: The Task and Methods of New Testament Theology. The theory was also advocated by Protestant Kristar Stendahl in his 1970 work The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West, and now reprinted under the title: Paul Among the Jews and Gentiles.

The theory claims that the traditional interpretation which views St. Paul's writings as portraying a contest between "grace versus works" is not the main issue, and perhaps not even correct. Dunn hypothesizes that the emphasis on "grace versus works" is merely a product of the polemics circulating during the Reformation period between Luther and the Catholic Church. Rather, Dunn, et al, say that the Jew of the first century AD believed he was within the grace of God, and thus a struggle between grace and works was not the Jew's concern.

Consequently, Dunn claims that the central issue concerning the Justification controversy portrayed by the New Testament is sociological rather than soteriological; a matter of "Jew versus Gentile," not "grace versus works." The main challenge for the Jew is said not to be one of relinquishing his dependence on works and resigning himself to God's grace, but of accepting Gentiles as part of the covenant community, and letting them share in the graces of God that the Jew already has. In short, Dunn's thesis is that the Jew was not so much proud of his works as he was proud of his grace; whereas the traditional view says that, except for a remnant, the Jew was eliminated from the grace of God due to his obstinate reliance on works.

Following Kristar Stendahl, other Protestants such as Lloyd Gaston (Paul and the Torah, 1987) and Stanley Stowers (A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews and Gentiles, 1994) have taken the theory so far as to say that Jews and Gentiles have "separate but related ways" to salvation, with Israel continuing to live by the law as its accompaniment to salvation.

Dunn also seeks to apply his interpretation to our current day, teaching that mankind's real challenge is that he must learn to accept everyone regardless of race or ethnic background, since we are all God's children. Dunn and Suggate also postulate, for example, that Adolph Hitler's main problem was not one of intrinsic evil or hatred against God but merely a superiority attitude against people of other ethnic backgrounds.

On the surface, some parts of Dunn's view may sound logical, at least to some extent. The big question is, however: does the New Testament portray the Jews in the way Dunn suggests? Quite simply, the answer is NO; the New Testament does not focus on the ethnic paradigm Dunn is suggesting. If the New Testament hints at it in any way, it is only as a tangent to the bigger story of man's individual responsibility to reject his own self-righteousness and self-reliance so that he can receive the grace of God, which is his only means of salvation.

For a qualified Catholic critique of Dunn's view, see Brendan Byrne, S.J., The Problem of NovmoV and the Relationship with Judaism in Romans. Among other things, Byrne points out that "works of the law" refers to "the Jewish law in toto"; and that the famous Qumran document 4QMMT, which has been touted by followers of Dunn, turns out to be a Hebrew phrase meaning simply "some precepts of the Law" without the connotation of performance (See M. Bachmann's "4QMMT und Galaterbrief, und hrwth yv[m ERGA NOMOU" in ZNW 89 [1998] 91-113).

Paul is clear, for example, in Romans 9:31-32 that, regardless of how the Jews may have thought of themselves as being in God's graces, the fact is that Scripture portrays them as pursuing righteousness by works, not of being overly proud of grace. Paul writes: 31 "...but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works." It is only the "remnant" of Jews that remained in the grace of God, and the rest in Israel were hardened in their sin; and according to Paul, this occurred in the eighth century BC before the Gentiles ever became a concern (Romans 11:1-10). We will say more about this in the analysis below.

"Works of the Law"

As for the argument that the "works of the law" applies to the ceremonial law, such that Paul is teaching that the ceremonial law cannot justify but that the moral law does justify, the first thing I would like to mention is that the Council of Trent, which is our central authoritative source on matters of Justification, NEVER used such argumentation. (Nor did they use anything close to Dunn's view, noted above). This fact becomes significant for our investigation, since during the Counter-Reformation there were certain Catholic clerics who, in opposition to the Lutherans, were trying to advance the argument that "works of the law" referred only to the ceremonial law. As it stands, the Council of Trent rejected that apologetic.

In the sixth session of the Council (where Justification is addressed), neither the words "ceremonial law," "ritual practices," nor anything of the sort are mentioned, not even one time. The only time the Council mentions the word "circumcision" is in Chapter 7 when it is quoting from Galatians 5:6 ("in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith, which worketh by charity"), but it gives no elaboration on the usage of the term. Again, this is significant because it shows us that the Council did not think the "works of the law = ceremonial law" argument was a good, or even biblical, argument to explain the nature of Justification.

Rather than focus on the ceremonial law, the Council of Trent went right to the main, overarching issue, that is, the issue concerning "grace versus works" that I mentioned above. In the very first Canon the Council says:

"If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine gracethrough Christ Jesus: let him be anathema."

Notice that the Council's view of "works" includes ANY kind of work, whether the work stems from one's "own natural powers" or "through the teaching of the Law." In the Council's mind there is no distinction between "ceremonial" works and "moral" works, at least in regard to how a man is justified before God.

Thus, the Council's tactic is to make an immediate antithesis between "works" and "grace." In the remaining 32 Canons, the Council continues the same argument, never once trying to settle the issue by an appeal to the ceremonial law of Israel, or an antithesis between Jew and Gentile.

The Council twice mentions the "Jews," but in neither case does it make a dictinction between the ceremonial law and the moral law of the Jews. The two references are in Chapter 1 and 2 of the Sixth Session: (1. "not even the Jews by the very letter of the law of Moses were able to be liberated (from the power of the devil and of death"; 2. "that He might both redeem the Jews, who were under the Law").

Again, in Chapter 8, Trent states: "...and are, therefore, said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith, or works, merit the grace itself of justification; for, ‘if it is a grace, it is not now by reason of works; otherwise (as the same Apostle says) grace is no more grace' [Romans 11:6]." Obviously, if Trent includes "faith" as "none of those things" which can justify, then surely moral works are included in the "none."

Now one might argue that by these injunctions Trent was merely denying Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. First, Trent never makes such a claim. In fact, the very foe they were fighting, Martin Luther, was the one accusing the Catholic Church of Pelagianism. Second, if Trent used some other kind of argumentation other than the one presented in Canon 1 and Chapter 8, namely, an argument that focused on the ceremonial law as the exclusive meaning of the "works of law," then the objection could be sustained. But such is not the case.

The point remains that Trent NEVER sought to answer the question of Justification by dissecting the Law into its constituent parts, i.e., ceremonial, moral or civil precepts. Although they had every opportunity to do so, the Council simply did not cite any verses from the New Testament that single out the ceremonial law. They only quoted from the NT passages which view the Law in its totality, since their main objective was to distinguish grace from law, not grace from ceremonies.

Logic dictates that if the ceremonial law apologetic was so crucial to the understanding of the issue of Justification (as some modern Catholic theologians claim) then Trent would have been REQUIRED to use it. They would have no right to ignore it in favor of a view which taught that the Law referred to the WHOLE law of Moses and Works referred to ANY work.

Now some might argue that the Council's focus was dictated by the particular arguments that the Reformers were advancing; and since this is not our concern today, nor was it the concern of Paul in the first century AD, then we are not obligated to use it. Let me say quite candidly, this is wrong.

First, as I noted above, the Council of Trent already ignored the "ceremonial law" argumentation which was being advanced by various Catholic clerics who were trying to answer the Lutherans.

Second, and this should come as no surprise to Catholics who know their history, the Fathers of the Church show quite clearly in their writings that there was a consensus of understanding that, in reference to how a man is justified, the words "works of the law," "works," or "law" referred to ANY work, ceremonial or moral."