Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Uglification Of American Culture

"Today, while waiting for some food at a high upscale place, I again noticed not only all the overweight, unattractive people, but the truly laughable hairstyles of some. So many females, including one that had to be sixty or so, with purple or pink dyed hair. So many with uncombed, sloppy hair. Too many with that extra short look that often advertises a hatred of men. And the men with all the shaved heads. Are there that many guys who are going bald now? With so many balding men desperately trying to save what they have, or miraculously grow back what they’ve lost, why do so many even young males just shave it all off completely? Again, even forty years ago, that shaved head look advertised potential criminality. Think Lex Luthor."

Donald Jeffries, The Uglification of America

The Uglification Of American Culture

"One can’t help but notice the absurdly casual, slovenly way most Americans dress now. Not at home. In public. Did anyone envision seeing adults parading around in stores wearing pajama pants? So many men and women just appear to have “punted,” to simply have stopped trying to appear attractive in any way, shape or form. Instead, they slide on their XXL sweat pants, and their XXXL tee shirts, and parade about as proudly as their in-shape ancestors did.

Factor in the gratuitous tattoos that are everywhere now. I see otherwise good-looking young girls with an entire arm, perhaps both arms, completely covered in tattoos. There’s a good reason why, in the past, only pirates and drunken sailors got tattoos. They don’t make anyone look better. And when your skin is mostly camouflaged by ugly conglomerations of ink, it automatically causes others to view you less respectively. Tramp stamps, and all that."

Donald Jeffries, The Uglification of America

Monday, October 29, 2018

Why Contemporary Christian Music For Worship?

"I also believe the real motive for adopting CCM for praise and worship was not, as we were often told, to evangelize those from outside the church, but was rooted in a need to satisfy our own desires for our favourite music."

Dan Lucarini, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement, pg.18

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Christian Discourse On Halloween

          Halloween is hotly debated subject matter amongst Christian circles. Some believe the festival to be harmless and entertaining. Others maintain that it is evidence of our society becoming morally bankrupt, and that believers who are open to the idea of trick-or-treating are in reality compromising the faith. Halloween has certainly been a source of controversy within the church. There exists a stark contrast of perspective on this issue. Therefore, a brief exercise of discernment would be wise.

          Regardless of the effort that an individual may place into commercializing this holiday, it cannot be denied that Halloween has pagan roots. It is of Celtic origin. It was observed in Ireland and Scotland, and was adopted by the Church of Rome around the fifth century. Halloween contains occult elements, from sorcery to witchcraft to demonism. All these concepts are condemned in the Judeo-Christian worldview (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Acts 8:9-24; 19:19; Galatians 5:19-21). Partaking in occult activities is idolatry, which can range from Ouija boards to tarot cards to fortune telling and so on.

          People cannot, however, utterly disassociate themselves from Halloween, as it is simply another day of the week. God is our Creator. He transcends time. Everything rightly belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:26). Consequently, He deserves our undivided attention on a daily basis. That includes Halloween. We should be in prayer on a daily basis. We should be glorifying Him on a daily basis. There are holy ways of going about matters in this life. There are also sinful and unwise ways of addressing issues. Moreover, anything can be abused and misused.

          The act of dressing up as a cowboy and going door to door with the intention of receiving candy is not in itself sinful. To illustrate the point, note that the Apostle Paul declared that eating meats offered to idols is morally permissible, provided that fellow brethren are not offended (1 Corinthians 10:25-33). 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? In the same manner, whether or not a person goes trick-or-treating is a matter of conscience. The act is not inherently a compromise of the gospel because no homage is given to unscriptural entities. Halloween could even serve as a great opportunity to pass out biblically sound gospel tracts.

          A person whose conscience is violated by such a cultural tradition has every right to express disagreement. Yet, we should strive to not become stumbling blocks to each other. This can serve as a lesson in Christian love, fellowship, discipline, and humility. Paul said, "One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind...Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way" (Romans 14:5; 13). The comments provided in this article neither serve as an endorsement nor condemnation of trick-or-treating. Whatever decisions that people make is between them and God. If a professing Christian does embrace the sinful aspects and themes of Halloween, then he or she is indeed guilty of worldly compromise and needs to repent.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Supernatural Fingerprints Embedded Throughout The Bible

"The continuity of Scripture declares a divine editor and revealer - 66 books, 40 authors and hundreds of years of history. The authors are separated by time, space and education. They come from all walks of life and most of them never met one another, yet they came together to form one central story of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

He is shown as pre-incarnate. He is shown in prophecy as coming. He is shown as here in His first advent. He is shown as coming again in the future.

One man could produce a work with continuity but this combination of authors and times has to be divinely assembled. Man could not produce such a work."

Rev. Stanley L. Derickson, The Supernatural Origins Of The Word Of God

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Debunking Generational Curse Theology

          There is a popular, but false, doctrine being promulgated amongst Christian circles known as the generational curse, which is the belief that spiritual defilements are passed on from parents to children. For example, one might believe that the outbursts of anger that he or she experiences were passed on from his or her parents. Common proof texts used to substantiate the idea of generational curses would include Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 5:9. In truth, a careful examination of Scripture will reveal this teaching to be totally unfounded.

          First of all, the Word of God emphatically tells us that we cannot inherit the guilt of other people (Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Ezekiel 18:20). In other words, God holds us accountable only for our sins, not those of other people. We are judged according to our conduct (Exodus 32:31-33; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Romans 14:12), not the actions of other people. We are clearly held responsible for our own choices. As a matter of fact, Jesus indicated that children are in a sense better models of purity than adults (Matthew 18:1-5; 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16). Though we have inherited a sin nature from the fall of Adam and Eve, behaviors are learned and chosen.

          So, what about the Old Testament passages that people misuse to teach the concept of generational curses? The two parallel passages recording the Ten Commandments do not say that God would give generational curses to people. Rather, God would cast judgement on idolaters. That sin could contaminate future generations. God punishes the people who continue in their sin and rebellion against Him. He also shows mercy to those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 2:6). Consequences can be passed on to future generations, not curses. Nobody has to be trapped in sin. The forgiveness of God and salvation is not beyond the reach of anybody. There is a "curse" only in the sense that moral corruption has been passed on to mankind as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Atonement is available to all through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He bore the "curse" on our behalf (Galatians 3:10-13).

          If we can inherit the sin of our parents, then would that also mean that we could inherit their righteousness? Can we inherit the mercy of God? The idea that people can inherit hexes or curses from their parents is both irrational and unbiblical. It is nothing but pagan superstition. If one walks according to the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, then there is no condemnation (Romans 5:1-11; Romans 8:1). This generational curse nonsense has no doubt caused much unnecessary fear and anxiety in the lives of professing Christians. The Lord is faithful, rich in mercy, abounding in love, and slow to anger (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8-14). Our fellowship with God has nothing to do with our family ancestry. If it did, then that would make Him a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Nowhere does Scripture even provide us with instructions as to how to break so-called generational curses.

1 John 1:1-4 And The Deity Of Christ

"There's one thing demons will inevitably deny in all their demonic systems, and that is they will deny the deity of Jesus Christ. They will deny God in human flesh. In a word, they deny the incarnation.

...He's just saying basic to testing the validity of any teacher as coming truly from God is that teacher's doctrine of Christ. In fact, go back with me to chapter 1 for a moment and John says in verse 1, "That he beheld, and actually touched, the Word of life." That is a term expressing the very deity of Christ, for Christ emanates from God as His living Word. He was in verse 2 with the Father. One with the Father, sharing the same essence with the Father and dwelling in an affable light with the Father before He came to earth. He was manifested to us. The end of verse 3 tells us that our fellowship consequently is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

John's language then starts out with the fact that Jesus Christ emanates from God as the very living Word of God. There is the written Word of God on the one hand, Scripture. There is the living Word of God, namely the One John says that was from the beginning that we heard, we saw and we touched. That One, that Word of life was the eternal One, the eternal life, verse 2, who was with the Father prior to His incarnation and was then manifested to us in the flesh that we could see and hear and touch. Now that we know Him, and that you know Him, we have fellowship with Him and our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ. He is therefore the very Word of God incarnate, He is the eternal life who became flesh, He is one with the Father, manifested to us. He is namely the Son in the Trinity who is Jesus Christ. So John starts out with a very definitive Christological statement in his epistle."

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/62-33/how-to-test-the-spirits

Monday, October 22, 2018

Critical Exposure Of The Message Version

  • Introduction:
          -The Message Bible, put together by Eugene H. Peterson, was first published in segments from 1993 to 2002. It is not so much a translation of Scripture, but more so a paraphrase. It is an attempt to simplify the language of the Bible to suit the language of contemporary culture. When a person invests time into comparing the Message to well-known, reputable translations of the Bible, however, he or she will encounter many rather significant differences in the meaning of the text. This work appears to contain intentional doctrinal alterations, which of course disqualifies it from being a trustworthy study tool. As a matter of fact, the modernized, slang type language occupied throughout this version reveals a complete irreverence for God. Following are examples of textual perversion within the Message Bible.
  • Matthew 6:9:
          -The Message: "Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are."
          -New American Standard: "Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name."
          -NET Bible: "Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored"
          -King James Version: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."
          -Comments: Why would our Lord Jesus Christ, the revelation of God (Hebrews 1:1-3), pray that God reveal Himself?
  • Matthew 6:13:
          -The Massage: "Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes."
          -New American Standard: "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
          -NET Bible: "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
          -King James Version: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
          -Comments: This is a perfect example of the Message watering down God given truth.
  • John 10:30:
          -The Message: "I and the Father are one heart and mind."
          -New American Standard: "I and the Father are one."
          -NET Bible: "The Father and I are one."
          -King James Version: "I and my Father are one."
          -Comments: The unique rendering of John 10:30 presented by the Message Bible would change our understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
          -The Message: "Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit."
          -Compare to the renderings of the New American Standard, NET Bible, and the King James Version.
          -Comments: Notice how the author of the Message utterly omits homosexuality from the list of sins, thus distorting the meaning of the text. In 1 Timothy 1:10 of the version being examined here, the word "homosexuality" has been replaced with "sex". This is quite telling.  Also, he inserted with no linguistic, contextual, or manuscript justification the phrase "use and abuse the earth" into 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
  • Colossians 2:9:
          -The Message: "You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything."
          -New American Standard: "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."
          -NET Bible: "For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form."
          -King James Version: "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
          -Comments: Why would the inspired Apostle Paul need to make mention of astrology which is condemned by God?
  • Additional Commentary On The Message Version:
          -"...there are numerous websites and articles devoted to the translation errors in The Message, too numerous to reiterate here. Suffice it to say that The Message has engendered more criticism for its lack of serious scholarship and outright bizarre renderings than just about any other Bible version to date. One common complaint from many who read The Message or hear it read aloud is “I didn’t recognize it as the Bible.” Other critics declare The Message to be not a paraphrase of what the Bible says, but more of a rendering of what Eugene Peterson would like it to say. In an interview with Christianity Today, Peterson described the beginning of the creative process that produced The Message: “I just kind of let go and became playful. And that was when the Sermon on the Mount started. I remember I was down in my basement study, and I did the Beatitudes in about ten minutes. And all of a sudden I realized this could work.” (Got Questions, "What is The Message (MSG)?")

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Avoid Contentious Individuals

  • Being A Godly Example Is More Important Than Wasting Time In Pointless Arguments:
          -"But do not follow foolish stories that disagree with God’s truth, but train yourself to serve God." (1 Timothy 4:7)
  • We Do Not Need To Engage Unteachable People, As Such Only Results In Fruitless Controversy:
          -"Stay away from foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they grow into quarrels." (2 Timothy 2:23)
  • Debating With Contentious People Is Not An Edifying Practice And Does Not Help The Cause Of Jesus Christ:
          -"But stay away from those who have foolish arguments and talk about useless family histories and argue and quarrel about the law. Those things are worth nothing and will not help anyone." (Titus 3:9)
  • The Consequences Of Engaging Contentious People Are Negative:
          -"This person is full of pride and understands nothing, but is sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words. This brings jealousy, fighting, speaking against others, evil mistrust, and constant quarrels from those who have evil minds and have lost the truth." (1 Timothy 6:4-5)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Thoughts On Consulting Experts

        Our perception of facts changes as new discoveries are made, whether they pertain to scientific or mathematical inquiry. What is at this moment termed common knowledge in our culture could be deemed mistaken in future generations. The process of investigation for truth requires persistent work and effort. It requires determination, as well as a great sense of humility. We should be staying informed and testing new ideas. That is how we conduct research, which is the process of uncovering truth. Even so, we do not have all the answers to the questions of life.

        We have finite minds that are liable to error. The same is equally true of the greatest thinkers in mankind. Experts do not know everything. Being a specialist in one sphere of learning does not make that person an expert in every aspect of a particular field. Professionals may also have to cite other professionals who are more qualified in different areas. They can even contradict one another, using the same data (which is subject to interpretation). Some fields have few experts working in them.

        It would be wise to consult the most trustworthy and authoritative figures which are relative to the subject matter. Such people would not likely act by themselves. Respectable experts objectively examine published resources and attend academic conferences to discuss questions. Competent scholars hold themselves and each other accountable. They publish their conclusions for the public to praise or criticize accordingly.

        God gave us counselors to guide us in truth (Proverbs 24:6). Though we are fallible beings, our reasoning capacities are reliable. We must carefully weigh the work of various professionals against others. This must be done objectively. The evidence backing up a scholarly view is of greater importance than the scholarly view itself. We do not know everything, however. The wisdom provided by experts is valuable only insofar that it conforms to already established facts and is consistent with the nature of reality. Scripture is the final standard of authority for the Christian (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Roman Catholic Quotable On Marian Devotion

"…it is not something extra that we do, it is something essential. You must have devotion to Mary. Because if you have devotion to Mary, she is the one who will bring us the closest to Christ.”

Louis De Montfort, “True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin”

Dissection Of 1 Corinthians 3:15 As A Catholic Prooftext

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic speaker Karlo Broussard wrote an article for Catholic Answers titled "Purgatory's Purifying Fire", which contains responses to various Protestant arguments against the citation of 1 Corinthians 3:15 as a proof-text for that dogma. This article aims to refute Catholic claims of the text being a reference to a person receiving purification in purgatory after death. To begin this short critique, I quote the author:

          "The idea of purification connotes the separation of good from bad...The good building materials (gold, precious stones, and silver) are separated from the bad building materials (wood, hay, and straw)."

          While it is true that good and bad works are being contrasted in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, the problem with this argument is that the concept of Purgatory is merely read into the passage. The context has nothing to do with a person suffering for his or her sins. It is not about our justification. It is not about believers undergoing punishment after death for possibly remaining sins. Quite to the contrary, the text is about the reception of heavenly rewards (1 Corinthians 3:8; 14). God will evaluate the quality of each believer's work so as to bestow praise appropriately (1 Corinthians 4:5). See this article for further details:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/02/rebutting-rebuttal-by-catholic-answers.html

          "Furthermore, the imagery of fire conjures up the motif of purification. Peter uses it in 1 Peter 1:7 with reference to testing gold, and says that our sufferings test the genuineness of our faith."

          Just as men use fire for the purpose of refining precious metals such as gold and silver, God uses trials as a means to build up our faith and character (Job 23:10; Romans 5:3-5). That is what distinguishes trust in God from mere intellectual assent that even demons have. The imagery of fire has nothing whatsoever to do with purgatory. The benefits of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ are applied to believers on a regular basis (Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 1:7-9). We are already covered in His righteousness, thus eliminating any need for purgatory.

          "A third piece of evidence for the purification motif is the idea of judgment. Recall that the prophet Malachi describes God’s judgment as a “refiner’s fire,” and notes that God will “sit as a refiner” purifying the sons of Levi and refining them like gold and silver (Mal. 3:2-3)."

          Here is an excerpt from Dr. Thomas Constable's notes on Malachi 3:2-3:

          "When the Lord came suddenly to His temple, no one would be able to stand before Him. Elsewhere the prophets foretold that this time would be a day of judgment on the whole world marked by disaster and death (4:1; Isa. 2:12; Joel 3:11-16; Amos 5:18-21; Zech. 1:14-17). Here Malachi said no one would be able to endure His coming because He would purify the priesthood, the people who stood closest to Him. As a fire He would burn up the impurities of the priests, and as a laundryman’s soap He would wash them clean (cf. Deut. 4:29; Isa. 1:25; Jer. 6:29-30; Ezek. 22:17-22; Zech. 3:5). The Levitical priests would then be able to offer sacrifices to Yahweh in a righteous condition rather than as they were in Malachi’s day (cf. 1:6—2:9; Isa. 56:7; 66:20-23; Jer. 33:18; Ezek. 40:38-43; 43:13-27; 45:9-25; Zech. 14:16-21). The multiple figures of cleansing and the repetition of terms for cleansing stress the thoroughness of the change that the Lord’s Messenger would produce."

           The Lord Jesus Christ through His gospel shall purge our souls and conform us to His likeness. The Holy Spirit regenerates and cleanses His faithful remnant. The Savior "refines" us by faith. He protects us from the incurred eternal wrath that we deserve. When God forgives our trespasses, He no longer "remembers" them (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12-13). He does not count sin against those whom He has reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus Christ has already made perfect atonement for our sins (Hebrews 10:18; 1 John 2:1-2). Consider the following Catholic quotes:

         "In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not Sacred Scripture." (Vol. XI, pg. 1034, Copyright 1967, Catholic University of America)

         “There is, for all practical purposes, no biblical basis for the doctrine of purgatory.” (Richard McBrien, Catholicism: New Edition, p. 1166)

         “The text of v. 15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.” (New American Bible, footnote on 1 Corinthians 3:15)

           The context of 1 Corinthians 3:15 is about stewardship, not salvation. The fire reveals the quality of each person's works on the Day of Judgement. The phrase "he shall suffer loss" in verse fifteen simply refers to the loss of heavenly rewards. The Good News Translation renders the text as follows:

           "But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Myth Of Life Existing On Other Planets

"Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard, made the claim that we are alone in the universe after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique.

“We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it,” he said."

Heidi Blake, "Alien life deemed impossible by analysis of 500 planets"

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Christ's Burial Garments Are An Argument For The Resurrection

  • Discussion:
          -Consider this passage which is in the context of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ appearing to His disciples from the Gospel of John:

          "and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself." (John 20:7, NKJV)

          The significance of the facial cloth being separated from Christ's burial garments is not known for sure, but the details mentioned in the quoted Scripture do have an interesting apologetic thrust supportive of Him being resurrected bodily from the grave. 

          If the resurrection story was an elaborate hoax, then why would the handkerchief that once rested on His face be moved and folded neatly in a separate spot of the tomb? Why would thieves waste their time doing such? Why would Jesus waste this much time, if He were an impostor who needed to escape quickly so as to bolster the credibility of some falsehood?

          Without a doubt, this point is problematical for the stories circulated in an attempt to discredit the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Enlightenment Got It Wrong: The West's Debt to Christianity

"It's a rock-solid Western conviction: All men—and women—are created equal. But where does it come from? Well, not the Enlightenment.

Few modern historians have done more to educate the public about the ancient and classical world than Tom Holland. His 2004 book, "Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republisc," won the prestigious Hessell-Tiltman prize, which is awarded to history books of "high literary merit."

Subsequent books about the rise of the Persian Empire and the rise of Islam have received similar accolades. Put simply, when it comes to the ancient world, Holland knows his stuff, and no one doubts it.

That's why it's wise to pay attention to what he has to say about how the coming of Christianity, and in particular the writings of St. Paul, shaped our world.

Writing in the storied British literary and political journal, the New Statesman, Holland told readers how the Christianity of his childhood gave way to an obsession with ancient empires. "When I read the Bible," Holland wrote, "the focus of my fascination was less the children of Israel or Jesus and his disciples than their adversaries: the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Romans."

While he "vaguely continued to believe in God, [Holland] found Him infinitely less charismatic than [his] favourite Olympians: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus."

Like many historians, Edward Gibbons and other Enlightenment writers convinced Holland "that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an 'age of superstition and credulity.' and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values."

At this point his readers were probably thinking, "quite right!" But the story doesn't end there, as suggested by the title of the article, "Why I was wrong about Christianity."

He wrote that, "The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it." Especially its callous disregard for human life. The Spartans, he noted, practiced "a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics." Julius Caesar may have killed a million Gauls and enslaved another million.

It wasn't only the body count, Holland says. It was also "the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value." This led Holland to view the Enlightenment's insistence that it owed nothing to Christianity as not credible.

Let's assume that most people in the post-Christian West still believe "that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering" and that every human life has equal value. We don't get that from the Greeks and Romans.

As Holland notes, it was St. Paul who proclaimed the "foolishness of the Gospel."

It was the honest evaluation of the historical record that led Holland, an agnostic, to write that "In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian."

Here's praying that he becomes Christian in other ways, as well. In the meantime, I'm grateful for this unexpected bit of apologetics. It's a much-needed reminder that even modern criticisms of Christianity are indebted to Christianity itself."

https://www.christianpost.com/voice/the-enlightenment-got-it-wrong-the-wests-debt-to-christianity.html

Three Important Discernment Questions To Ask In Personal Decision Making

        *Does the action in question have objective, morally good benefits (1 Corinthians 6:12)?
        * Does the action in question glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?
        *Is the desired action honorable to God in our flesh (1 Corinthians 6:20)?

        If a person answers "no" to these three discernment questions, then he or she needs to reconsider doing what he or she had planned.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Examining The Book Of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)

  • Discussion:
           -Sirach is one of the apocryphal books included in the Roman Catholic Old Testament canon, and is regarded as wisdom literature. It contains a wide variety of sayings, many of which are true. It even echoes themes found in the Book of Proverbs. Other portions of the Book of Sirach, however, teach heterodox doctrine in regards to salvation and atonement. This apocryphal work is not inspired Scripture, as is evidenced by the following quotations found therein:

           "Those who honor their father atone for sins; they store up riches who respect their mother." (Sirach 3:3)

           "Kindness to a father will not be forgotten; it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root. In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage, like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins." (Sirach 3:14-15, New American Bible Revised Edition)

           "As water quenches a flaming fire, so almsgiving atones for sins." (Sirach 3:29)

           To the contrary, Scripture says that justification is attained by the grace of God alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9). Our good works are the product, not the cause, of justification. Only the Lord Jesus Christ has the power to make atonement for our infinite sin debt (Hebrews 9:26; 28; 10:10-14; 18). Our righteousness is imperfect. We can be saved only through the blood of Jesus. Only the Son can reconcile us to the Father.

           Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were merely a temporary covering for sin and all pointed to the once for all sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-2). To claim that we can merit our salvation even in part by our good works is a false gospel. Other problematic passages found in the apocryphal Book of Sirach are presented as follows:

         "No good ever comes to a person who gives comfort to the wicked; it is not a righteous act. Give to religious people, but don't help sinners. Do good to humble people, but don't give anything to those who are not devout. Don't give them food, or they will use your kindness against you. Every good thing you do for such people will bring you twice as much trouble in return. The Most High himself hates sinners, and he will punish them. Give to good people, but do not help sinners." (Sirach 12:3-7, Good News Translation)

           This passage contradicts the very essence of Christ's character and message (Matthew 11:28-30). We ought to love our enemies as ourselves, and pray for those who persecute us. It needs to be recognized that we all have stumbled at some point because of our fallen nature. We are not to be self-righteous and turn away those who may seem unholy to us.

           "If you bring a stranger home with you, it will only cause trouble, even between you and your own family." (Sirach 11:34, Good News Translation)

            In the Old Testament, God commanded that His nation Israel share a portion of crops with the needy (Leviticus 23:22). His chosen people were to treat foreign residents with great respect (Leviticus 19:33-34). Although we should not just allow anybody to enter our homes, one quality of a Christian is willingness to show hospitality to strangers (Matthew 25:41-46).

            "Do not hesitate to visit the sick. You will be loved for things like these." (Sirach 7:35, Good News Translation)

            It sounds as if the author is encouraging readers to do good works to be seen of men, a state of heart that Christ condemned when addressing the scribes and Pharisees.             

           "My child, don't live the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg." (Sirach 40:28, Good News Translation)

            These words sound rather lofty and arrogant. What about the example of Lazarus who ended up entering into Abraham's bosom upon death?

            So, it appears that the Roman Catholic Church is in error for including the Book of Sirach in its canon of Scripture. This apocryphal work may contain much spiritually edifying material, as well as having literary value. However, the Book of Sirach also contains doctrinal error. It is not consistent with inspired Scripture. This author was obviously zealous for the Law. He could rightly be characterized as legalistic.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Dangers Of Anti-Intellectualism

         Scripture says that although our mind is liable to error, it is a gift of God. It needs to be guided by His divine revelation and grace. God is rational. God has intellect. He has created the universe in an orderly fashion (Romans 1:18-20). We are made in His image and His likeness (Genesis 1:26). Therefore, to be anti-intellectual means failing to show appreciation for the abilities that God has bestowed upon us.

         God cares more by an infinite margin about our hearts than about the number of college degrees that we may obtain in this life. He wants to restore our fallen bodies. However, an anti-intellectual attitude is not an acceptable approach to the Christian life. Hosea 4:6 says that the people of God are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. The Apostle Paul told his audience to not be children in understanding but wise and examples of purity (1 Corinthians 14:20). God gave us a mind, and it is our mind by which we learn new concepts.

          Ignorance can be a rather dangerous thing. Toddlers get their fingers burnt when they touch a hot stove as a result of their uninformed curiosity. We should know and understand our worldview, which is the means by which we interpret the things around us.

          If literally everybody were to stop seeking higher levels of education, then that would inevitably collapse our economy because nobody would be competent to work the jobs that require obtaining those more advanced skills. Examples would include the legal and medical fields. This demonstrates an anti-intellectual worldview to not be workable.

          If a person has so much distrust in scholarship, and takes that level of skepticism to its logically consistent end, then he or she will inevitably be led to agnosticism. Nothing can be known for sure.

          An anti-intellectual worldview is psychologically unhealthy. An anti-intellectual worldview is cultic, as is evidenced by the Watchtower Society forbidding adherents from investigating the truthfulness of their claims. An anti-intellectual worldview is both irrational and unbiblical. Wanting a career is not inherently sinful. It is also not wrong to learn from people that we disagree with. In the real world, we are inevitably going to encounter people with non-Christian worldviews. What we should be on guard against is turning our pursuits into idols. What we should be on guard against is our tendency to become prideful as a result of our material achievements.

John 12:41 And The Deity Of Christ

"tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9). sn Because he saw Christ’s glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus."

Excerpt taken from the New English Translation

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Terms “Latria” And “Hyperdulia” Create A Distinction Without A Difference

Dulia, a Greek word signifying honor and veneration, is reserved for the saints. Latria, the Greek word for worship, is reserved for God. Between Dulia and Latria, there exists a form of veneration that is reserved for Mary alone, and that veneration is called Hyperdulia, or literally “hyperveneration.” According to the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia, hyperveneration is reserved for “the Blessed Virgin.” It ought to be sufficient, therefore, for Roman Catholics to dismiss all criticism by offering up these three terms. “We don’t worship Mary,” they should say. “We merely hypervenerate her. It is more than the dulia we give to the other saints, but it is less than latria, which is of course reserved for God alone. We are very good at maintaining the distinctions between them.”

What makes such a response implausible is that English translations of papal statements on Mary use the word “worship” where hyperveneration ought to have been used. For example, Pius XII’s papal encyclical, Fulgens Corona, uses “worship” repeatedly to describe Roman Catholic veneration of Mary:

“…there is nothing ‘more sweet, nothing dearer than to worship, venerate, invoke and praise with ardent affection the Mother of God conceived without stain of original sin.’ … But where—as is the case in almost all dioceses, there exists a church in which the Virgin Mother of God is worshiped with more intense devotion, thither on stated days let pilgrims flock together in great numbers and publicly and in the open give glorious expression to their common Faith and their common love toward the Virgin Most Holy. … But let this holy city of Rome be the first to give the example, this city which from the earliest Christian era worshipped the heavenly mother, its patroness, with a special devotion.” (Pius XII, Fulgens Corona, September 8, 1953, paragraphs 18, 33 & 34)

To get to the bottom of Rome’s veneration, we really ought to look at the Latin version of the text, and the Latin version uses various conjugations of the infinitive colere, “to worship”:

“…dulcius, nihil carius, quam ferventissimo affectu Deiparam Virginem absque labe originali conceptam ubique colere, venerari, invocare et praedicare … Ubi vero — quod in omnibus fere Dioecesibus contingit — sacrum exstat templum, in quo Deipara Virgo impensiore pietate colitur, illuc statis per annum diebus…. Omnium autem in exemplum praecedat haec alma Urbs, quae inde ab antiquissima christiani nominis aetate caelestem Matrem ac Patronam suam peculiari religione coluit.”

Roman Catholic apologists may object to us rendering colere as “worship,” but we remind them that this is their translation, not ours. If it is hyperveneration that is intended by colere, then the translators at the Vatican, whose primary language is presumably Latin, ought to know better. Perhaps the Latin Vulgate can be of some help. At Exodus 20:5, when forbidding idolatry, the Vulgateimplores us, “Non adorabis ea neque coles,” that is, “Thou shalt not adore [false gods], nor serve them,” thus distinguishing between “adoration” and “service.” But this does not help, for coles is just as forbidden as adorabis in Exodus 20:5, and what is forbidden there is what Pius XII apparently prescribed to his flock.

Timothy F. Kauffman, "WE DON’T WORSHIP* MARY” PART 1"

Can Your Theology Handle The Book Of Lamentations?

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”” (Lamentations 3:19–24)

The writer here is the comforted by the character of God. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that it is the one who brings the wrath is also the one who brings the comfort? It is like the 2nd Psalm whereby there is no refuge from him but there is refuge in him.

In this case this comfort is specifically said to be tethered to God’s faithfulness, that is, his covenant love for his people.

Listen, this song of grace must be extremely loud to drown out the collective cries of anguish over sin. And it is.

Can your theology handle such lavish grace?

It is abundant and immeasurable grace because it covers abundant and infinite sin!

Even (perhaps especially) in Lamentations, amid the funeral, there is a repudiation of works righteousness and a promotion of the grace of God.

In Lamentations we have God crushing his people Israel because of their sin. Their sin is rampant and repulsive. This is exacerbated by the fact that Israel is God’s chosen people. He loves them. They are his nation.

In the New Testament we have God reacting to sin by crushing someone even more special than a nation of people. In the Gospel Narratives we read of God crushing his own beloved and dear Son for sin (John 3.16; Col. 1.13). But note the twist: it is not because of his sin that he is judged upon the cross but for the sins of his people (1 Pet. 3.18).

Our sin is not any less rampant or repugnant to the divine nostrils than at the time of Lamentations. Sin is and always will be wicked before God.

In the gospel, through the work of Christ, we have Lamentations come into full view.

We understand that God is a judging God—for he has judged his own son for our sins.

We understand that we are sinners—God has crushed his own son in our place so that justice might be paid.

We understand that grace is abundant—God has acted upon his promises of forgiveness by lavishing his people in grace.

You have to see that there is a lot more at stake here than at first glance. If you can’t handle the themes and trajectories of Lamentations then you can’t handle the gospel. Every thread in this book is divinely stitched to Calvary.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/erik-raymond/can-your-theology-handle-the-book-of-lamentations/

Monday, October 8, 2018

Connections Between Homosexuality And Pedophilia

The most comprehensive gay networking website, the Queer Resource Directory (www.qrd.org), links every gay group in the country including NAMBLA [the North American Man-Boy Love Association] and other homosexual groups that focus on youth. NAMBLA marches in gay pride parades with the consent of the gay leadership. Many of the homosexual movement’s most prominent leaders endorse NAMBLA and its goals. Gay authors and leaders such as Allen Ginsberg, Gayle Rubin, Larry Kramer (founder of ACT-UP), Pat Califia, Jane Rule, Michael Kearns, and Michel Foucault have all written in favor of either NAMBLA or man-boy relationships. Harry Hay, whom many consider the founder of the American homosexual movement, invited NAMBLA members to march with him in the 1993 "March on Washington" gay rights parade. He also marched in the 1986 Los Angeles gay parade wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words "NAMBLA walks with me."

Leading mainstream homosexual newspapers and magazines such as the Advocate, Edge, Metroline, The Guide, and The San Francisco Sentinel have not only published pro-NAMBLA articles and columns but also many have editorialized in favor of NAMBLA and sex with children. The editor of The Guide, Ed Hougen, stated in an interview with Lambda Report, "I believe they [NAMBLA] are generally interested in the right of young people to be sexual . . . . I am glad there is a group like NAMBLA that is willing to be courageous." The San Francisco Sentinel was more blunt: "NAMBLA’s position on sex is not unreasonable, just unpopular. [W]hen a 14 year old gay boy approaches a man for sex, it’s because he wants sex with a man."

There is also the matter of NAMBLA’s membership status in the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), recognized at one time by the United Nations as the official Non-Government Organization (NGO) representing the gay community worldwide. When NAMBLA’s ILGA membership became public, a whirlwind of international controversy erupted. Some gay leaders viewed this attention as harmful to the gay movement’s image and goals and urged the expulsion of NAMBLA for purely political purposes.

However, the media failed to report that ILGA itself had hosted workshops on pedophilia and passed resolutions in 1985, 1988, and 1990 to abolish age of consent laws claiming that "same sex age of consent laws often operate to oppress and not to protect" and supported "the right of every individual, regardless of age, to explore and develop her or his sexuality."

Eventually, reacting to congressional legislation threatening the reduction of $119 million in financial support, the United Nations kicked out ILGA in 1995 for refusing to sever ties with a half dozen member groups that advocated or promoted pedophilia. Revealingly, even though ILGA did expel NAMBLA (many say it was for show), it could not muster enough support among its membership to expel other more powerful and discreet pro-pedophile organizations from Germany and other countries. It is extremely revealing that the majority of members of the world’s leading homosexual coalition, the ILGA, decided they would rather be excluded from UN deliberations than vote out groups that advocate sex with children.

...[O]ver the last fifteen years the homosexual community and its academic allies have published a large quantity of articles that claim sex with children is not harmful to children but, as stated in one homosexual journal, "constitute an aspect of gay and lesbian life." Such articles have appeared in pro-homosexual academic journals such as The Journal of Homosexuality, The Journal of Sex Research, Archives of Sexual Behavior, and The International Journal of Medicine and Law. The editorial board of the leading pedophile academic journal, Paidika, is dominated by prominent homosexual scholars such as San Francisco State University professor John DeCecco, who happens to edit the Journal of Homosexuality.

Indeed, the Journal of Homosexuality is the premier academic journal of the mainstream homosexual world and yet it published [in 1990] a special double issue entitled, Male Intergenerational Intimacy, containing dozens of articles portraying sex between men and minor boys as loving relationships. One article states that parents should view the pedophile who loves their son "not as a rival or competitor, not as a theft of their property, but as a partner in the boy’s upbringing, someone to be welcomed into their home." . . .

A 1995 content analysis by Dr. Judith Reisman of the Institute for Media Education, focusing on advertisements in the nation’s most influential homosexual newspaper, The Advocate, reveals that 63% of the personal ads sought or offered prostitution. Many of them openly solicit boys. The Advocatealso advertises a "Penetrable Boy Doll . . . available in 3 provocative positions." Reisman found that the number of erotic boy images per issue of TheAdvocate averaged fourteen. . . .

Indeed, NAMBLA and other pro-pedophile literature can be found wherever homosexuals congregate (homosexual bookstores, bathhouses, festivals, gay bars, etc.) [examples follow] . . . .

The most popular gay fiction books on the market today are rich with idyllic accounts of intergenerational relationships according to writer Philip Guichard in a Village Voice article. Doubleday published a book in 1998, The Gay Canon: Great Books Every Gay Man Should Read, which recommends numerous works that portray sex with boys in a positive manner. The Border bookstore chain sells a book, A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition, which includes a chapter devoted to the history of pro-pedophile literature as an indisputable part of homosexual literary history [examples follow] . . . .

"Mainstream" homosexual conferences commonly feature speeches about intergenerational sex as it is now called. For example, at one of the nation’s largest homosexual gatherings, the annual National Gay Lesbian Task Force convention, featured a workshop at its 2001 confab entitled, Your Eyes Say Yes But the Law Says No, which included a speech by an S&M activist about laws affecting intergenerational sex. The convention also featured another workshop entitled Drag 101: How to Turn Kids in Make-up into Kings and Queens.

Pick up any gay newspaper or gay travel publication and one finds ads for sex tours to Burma, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other countries infamous for boy prostitution. . . . The most popular travel guide for homosexuals, Spartacus Gay Guides, is replete with information about where to find boys for sex and, as a friendly warning, lists penalties in various countries for sodomy with boys if caught. . . .

Homosexual Internet sites are no different. A quick search using the words "gay" and "boys" easily locates thousands of homosexual sites that promote sex with young boys and/or contain child pornography. Indeed, it is the mainstream homosexual groups who filed suit to block Virginia Legislation, passed in 2001, restricting Internet use that proves harmful to children (such as chat rooms commonly used by pedophiles to find victims)….

The Holy Grail of the pedophile movement is the lowering or elimination of all age of consent laws. The main warriors in this political and legal battle are "mainstream" homosexual groups [examples follow]...

Steve Baldwin, "Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement", cited by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., "Immoralism, Homosexual Unhealth, and Scripture A Response to Peterson and Hedlund’s “Heterosexism, Homosexual Health, and the Church” Part II: Science: Causation and Psychopathology, Promiscuity, Pedophilia, and Sexually Transmitted Disease", Section IV.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Utilization Of Logic

“Logic!" said the Professor half to himself. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Properly Understanding The Value Of Authority

       It can be affirmed with certainty that members of our modernized society, especially our youth, have the tendency to oppose rightfully ordained and established authorities. It appears that many display a growing attitude of hostility toward people who have been appointed to positions of leadership, whether it be parents, teachers, employers, police officers, or whatever other biblically sanctioned governing powers exist. Our culture has forgotten the meaning of obedience, along with what is means to provide discipline. The secular philosophy of moral relativism has no doubt contributed to our perspective on authority being corroded. After all, the concept of authority is rendered subjective, and thus to no avail, in a morally subjective worldview. This naturalistic call for the individual to be the final arbitrator of truth has been a major springboard for grandiloquence in the human populace. In fact, authority has been perceived by some to be a means of revoking fundamental human rights. This essay strives to define authority, its proper applications, and why authority is necessary for society to thrive peacefully.

       The teaching of the Judeo-Christian worldview flatly contradicts this societal trend of overall disregard toward authoritative figures. The New Testament enforces peaceful submission, not rebellion in the name of some alleged Christian liberty. Scripture exhorts believers to respect and obey government, provided that the specific laws enforced in a particular context do not violate the commandments of God (Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; Hebrews 13:7). Quite simply, authority is the power to enforce rules or make decisions. It was established by God. He is the ultimate source of all law and order. Therefore, a person who claims to be anti-government is in a very real sense also retaliating against God Himself. A leader acting corruptly in an office does not prove the existence of that position to be evil, anymore than the mishandling of a rule in itself proves it to be wrong. Being authoritative does not translate into being authoritarian. What we should be on guard for is the abuse of various laws and the wrongful possession of the offices designated to enforce them. Inequitable laws ought not be adhered to, since they are morally wrong. We must reject unlawful rules and regulations. Authority must be properly applied.

       The purpose of authority is to uphold and protect the freedoms of the individual. The purpose of authority is to regulate order, which also includes the punishing of criminals. Rules are not meant to suppress and coerce, but rather are applied so as to protect and serve. In a natural state, government is not something that a person should fear, insofar that he or she has nothing to hide. The existence of earthly authorities is evidence of human civilization not being utopian. It is evidence pointing to the sinful nature of man. If we were not defiled by sin, then there would be no need for the appointment of earthly heads. Nevertheless, all authority is to be subjugated to the divine authority of God. The aforementioned details describing the proper role of authority are applicable to all different types of authority, regardless of whether they be local, regional, or national. Authority should be respected. Authority should be honored. Authority derives its value from God. We should not loathe our leaders, but rather be praying for them on a continual basis. The golden rule is the optimal standard by which laws be judged.

       If there were no figures of authority existing in our sinful world, then how could peace be maintained? Anarchy only results in further anarchy. Neither would it be wise to give the majority supreme authority, since doing such would inevitably lead to the ruthless persecution of minority groups. God is our supreme authority, who has graciously revealed to us His objective moral standard. His laws are a reflection of His character. Authority figures are supposed to uphold His truth, not invent additional decrees for their own purposes. Being in a position of authority means being in a position of greater responsibility. If a person literally has the freedom to act in accordance to his or her own whim with no binding restrictions, then that is not freedom. That definition is an utter distortion of the concept. Freedom demands self-control. Freedom is conditioned by morality, and therefore cannot exist in a morally subjective worldview. Governments cannot function in a logically consistent relativistic framework, and would therefore serve no purpose. It would be illogical to even have laws in a morally relativistic framework. Authority was originally instituted by God. It is meant to preserve the integrity of His truth and His morals.

       The purpose of this paper is to explain what constitutes rightful authority, its purpose, and importance. God instituted authority to enforce rules, and so preserve our liberties. It is designed to maintain peace and order. It is designed to serve. Authority is designed to work for the best interests of the people. Governments are to be obeyed, as long as the commandments of God are not contradicted. Us fulfilling our call to holiness is a public display of how God wants His kingdom on earth. We should be quick to show love and mercy. We should be living consistently with our profession of faith in God (Ephesians 6:6-9). Our freedom is protected by just laws, which are to be enforced by just authorities. There is a distinction between legal and lawful. This is all a consequence of mankind's sinful condition. God, the King and Lord of us all, has revealed to us laws with the intention of ensuring protection and peace. Whatever spiritual battles that we may end up fighting with the principalities and powers of this world should not discourage us from wanting to enter into the fullness of God's presence eternally in paradise.

Nothing True About Evolution

"Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, anything that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time, and eventually one person said, “I do know one thing—it ought not be taught in high school.”

Colon Patterson (Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History), keynote address to the American Museum of Natural History, 11/5/81.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Racial Dilemma For Mormons

"Mormons often make an issue that the written standard works are to be the measuring rod for truth and that revelation cannot contradict them. President Harold B. Lee stated, “If it is not in the standard works, we may well assume that it is speculation, man’s own personal opinion; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, it is not true.” Given the fact that Abraham 1:26 in the Pearl of Great Price was used as a proof text to ban blacks from the priesthood, the 1978 reversal appears to violate Lee’s admonition.

All of this raises other questions. If the Mormon God has removed the curse that was once on the black race, why has he not also removed the physical mark? If the sole purpose of the black skin was merely to identify those who should not receive priesthood blessings, and the no longer applies, why are people still being born with this mark?"

Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101, pg.275

Comments On The "Book Of Abraham"

"Modern Egyptology has discredited Mormon scriptures such as the Book of Abraham, which depicts the patriarch’s journey to Egypt. His travels include nearly being sacrificed by an evil priest and later being honored by the pharaoh. The book was published with three facsimiles taken from an ancient papyrus, which was lost. Far from being inspired scripture, the Book of Abraham was shown to be a fraud years later when the papyrus was rediscovered. The book is based on a funerary papyrus depicting several scenes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In Facsimiles Nos. 1 and 3, Smith misidentifies virtually everything depicted in these scenes, demonstrating his attempts were nothing more than uneducated guesswork. He had virtually no familiarity with Hebrew or Egyptian names, and seemed to have made up names that sounded sufficiently biblical to be believable (although many of his spellings are impossible in biblical Hebrew, which exposes them as inventions as well). He guessed at the names of the pagan deities, getting every one of them incorrect. For instance, in Facsimile 1 he misidentified the deities on the canopic jars (which held the internal organs of the deceased) in the scene (from left to right) as Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash. The gods should have been identified as Qebesenuef, Duamutef, Hapi, and Imseti. It is not likely that he even knew that the objects depicted were canopic jars. He likely thought of them as idols, since he misidentified the scene as sacrificial rather than funerary in nature.

Why do so many Mormons maintain belief in these scriptures when they are so obviously false? As Charles Larson notes in his book …By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, “[M]any Mormons are relatively uninformed of any controversy concerning the validity of the Book of Abraham; or if they become aware controversy exists, will tend to fall back on the trust they have in their system, and avoid further investigation” (Larsen, 1985, p. 161). The real problem is that the Mormon faith stresses belief even in the face of contradictory evidence. Some have advised their fellow Mormons to simply fall back on their faith."

Friday, October 5, 2018

Early Signs of Canon Process

The third book of the gospel: according to Luke.

After the ascension of Christ, Luke the physician, whom Paul had taken along with him as a legal expert, wrote {the record} down in his own name in accordance with {Paul’s} opinion. He himself, however, never saw the Lord in the flesh and therefore, as far as he could follow {the course of events}, began to tell it from the nativity of John. The fourth gospel is by John, one of the disciples.

When his fellow-disciples and bishops encouraged him, John said, ‘Fast along with me three days from today, and whatever may be revealed to each, let us relate it one to another.’ The same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that John in his own name should write down everything and that they should all revise it. Therefore, although different beginnings are taught for the various books of the gospel, it makes no difference to the faith of believers, since in all of them everything has been declared by one primary Spirit, concerning his nativity, passion and resurrection, his association with his disciples, which is past; his second resplendent in royal power, his coming again.

It is no wonder, then, that John should so constantly present the separate details in his letters also, saying of himself: ’What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things have we written.’ For in this way he claims to be not only a spectator but a hearer, and also a writer in order of the wonderful facts about our Lord.

The Acts of all the apostles have been written in one book. Addressing the most excellent Theophilus, Luke includes one by one the things which were done in his own presence, as he shows plainly by omitting the passion of Peter and also Paul’s departure when he was setting out from the City for Spain.

As for the letters of Paul, they themselves show those who wish to understand from which place and for which cause they were directed. First of all {he wrote} to the Corinthians forbidding schisms, and heresies; then to the Galatians {forbidding} circumcision; to the Romans he wrote at greater length about the order of the scriptures and also insisting that Christ was their primary theme. It is necessary for us to give an argued account of all these, since the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the order of his predecessor John, but not naming him, writes to seven churches in the following order: first to the Corinthians, second to the Ephesians, third to the Philippians, fourth to the Colossians, fifth to the Galatians, sixth to the Thessalonians, seventh to the Romans. But although {the message} is repeated to the Corinthians and Thessalonians by way of reproof, yet one church is recognized as diffused throughout the whole world. For John also, while he writes to seven churches in the Apocalypse, yet speaks to all. Moreover {Paul writes} one {letter} to Philemon, one to Titus and two to Timothy in love and affection; but they have been hallowed for the honour of the catholic church in the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline.

There is said to be another letter in Paul’s name to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrines, {both} forged in accordance with Marcion’s heresy, and many others which cannot be received into the catholic church, since it is not fitting that poison should be mixed with honey.

But the letter of Jude and the two superscribed with the name of John are accepted in the catholic {church}; Wisdom also, written by Solomon’s friends in his honour. The Apocalypse of John we also receive, and that of Peter, [Bettenson gives a probable emendation here as, “the one epistle only of Peter, a second is extant which, etc.”]6 which some of our people will not have to be read in church. But the Shepherd was written by Hermas in the city of Rome quite recently, in our own times, when his brother Pius occupied the bishop’s chair in the church of the city of Rome; and therefore it may be read indeed, but cannot be given out to the people in church either among the prophets, since their number is complete, or among the apostles at the end of the times.

But none of the writings of Arsinuous or Valentinus or Miltiades do we receive at all. They have also composed a new book of psalms for Marcion; {these we reject} together with Basilides {and} the Asian founder of the Cataphrygians…

F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, cited by Dr. James White, "The Early Canon Process of the New Testament".

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Distinguishing Between Sociology And Morality

"A common mistake of relativists is to confuse behavior with value. That is, they confuse what is with what ought to be. What people do is subject to change, but what they ought to do is not. This is the difference between sociology and morality. Sociology is descriptive; morality is prescriptive."

Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 182

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Roman Catholicism And Charges Of Idolatry

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -For centuries, there has been much debate between Roman Catholics and Protestants on the issue of offering religious devotion to saints through prayer petitions, ceremonies, and iconography. As a matter of fact, Rome has made a reputation for itself with its obsession with the spirits who have departed into the supernatural realm. While critics accuse the Roman Catholic Church of idolatry, proponents vigorously defend themselves by claiming that they are merely giving honor to whom honor is due. On the contrary, the apologetic arguments advanced by Roman Catholics on "venerating" saintly figures in Christianity fail for the simple reason that their own words and actions testify against them. In other words, their behaviors toward Mary, saints, and angels so closely resemble worship that it is hard to believe that anybody would even try denying accusations of worshiping creations of God.
  • The Memorare Prayer: 
          -"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me."

          This prayer is essentially a petition to Mary for spiritual protection. The person offering up this request to the mother of Jesus can allegedly rest assured of being answered. It entails a person approaching Mary in a heartbroken, remorseful manner, as though we have transgressed against her and is a source of forgiveness. That really does sound like idolatry. If people can place this much trust in Mary, then why not simply place all trust in God alone, as did the psalmists of the Old Testament (Psalm 73:24-26)? God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1-2). He is our confidence (Proverbs 3:26). Never are these things said of Mary in Scripture. Christians stand before God, humbly pleading for His mercy. Jesus Christ lives forever to make intercession to all who approach Him by faith (Hebrews 7:24-28).
  • The Hail Holy Queen Prayer:
          -"Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!"

          In God should we be placing our trust (Psalm 33:20-22). He is our hope (Psalm 63:5; 1 Timothy 1:1). He is our helper (Hebrews 13:5-6). The Lord Jesus Christ is our advocate (1 John 2:1-2). He is our redeemer (Matthew 1:21; 2 Peter 1:1), and does not need any help. Additionally, this Roman Catholic prayer contradicts themes on access to God set forth plainly in Hebrews 4. The prophets and the apostles never once mentioned entrusting this much confidence to mere creations. There is no denying that such prayers elevate Mary to the level of a goddess. There is no denying that this so-called saintly "veneration" infringes on the self-sufficiency of Jesus Christ as mediator.

          Roman Catholic Mariology has a bizarre developmental history, with there being various shrines and feasts established in the name of Mary during the Middle Ages. In fact, many bishops who had attended the First Vatican Council wanted "Immaculate Virgin" added to the "Hail Mary" prayer. Other attendees even wanted to add the immaculate conception of Mary to the creed. This undoubtedly reveals a dramatic increase in Marian devotion throughout history. One cannot help but wonder whether the Church of Rome has a problem with idolatry.
  • Consider This Excerpt From A Papal Speech: 
          -"The history of Christian piety teaches that Mary is the way which leads to Christ and that filial devotion to her takes nothing from intimacy with Jesus; indeed, it increases it and leads to the highest levels of perfection. The countless Marian shrines throughout the world testify to the marvels wrought by grace through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Lord and our Mother." (JOHN PAUL II, GENERAL AUDIENCE, Wednesday, May 7, 1997)

          Despite the fact that advocates of this Marian devotion emphatically deny that they worship Mary (and are sincere in their attempts to serve God), their own words and actions testify against them. Roman Catholics ascribe completely unbiblical functions, titles, and traits to Mary. They basically place her in the same position as that of Jesus Christ. Nowhere does the Bible teach that Mary is the way that leads to Christ. Also, asserting that Mary is our mother is nothing but cultic superstition.

          The Scriptures emphatically contradict the notion of Mary participating in our redemption with Jesus Christ (2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4). He will not give His glory to another, which includes Mary (Isaiah 42:8). Christ plays an exclusive role in dispensing salvific grace (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). The only way for us to approach the Father is through the Son. Just as there is only one God, so there is only one Person who can reconcile us to God (1 Timothy 2:4-6). Mary cannot help us get to heaven in any fashion whatsoever. Roman Catholics could not be more wrong on this point, which is a terrible misfortune.

Erroneous Studies On Transgenderism

"A study conducted in Spain is suggesting there's a biological basis for transgender identity. It involved a single MRI done on the brains of 42 transgender people of both born genders. The study – discussed in a January 2016 Scientific American article – indicated the males had brains associated with that of females and vice versa.

But Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, says that's not how science works. She argues that numerous studies already prove a person's brain is changed if they live a certain way or behave a certain way.

"For them to prove that the brains of transgender-identifying people are different, they would have to do a study that looks at hundreds and hundreds of infants ... and follow that one set of infants into adulthood," she explains.

Nevertheless, Cretella has said in the past that the transgender movement has "gained legs" in the medical community and the culture "by offering a deeply flawed narrative." The Spanish study, she says, is no different.

"Bottom line, if transgender behavior and feelings were hardwired, they would have to be hardwired in DNA from fertilization," she continues. "And if that were the case, a hundred percent of identical twins would match for their gender identity – and that is not the case by any means."

In fact, writes Cretella, the largest study of identical twin transgender adults showed that almost three-fourths (72%) of what contributes to transgenderism in one twin consists of non-shared experiences after birth – "that is, factors not rooted in biology."

Charlie Butts, “Trans agenda lives on despite flawed studies,” OneNewsNow Online, 8/6/18

Congregations Fed On Excitement

"A church fed on excitement is no New Testament Church at all. The desire for surface stimulation is a sure mark of the fallen nature, the very thing Christ died to deliver us from."

A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Lying Signs And Wonders Of The Charismatic Movement

"It is ironic that Charismatics, who consider themselves experts on the Holy Spirit, completely misunderstand the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. Does the Bible teach that the Holy Spirit came so that we could have a wonderful, subjective experience? So that we could have wonderful religious sensations? So that we could feel electric current in our bodies? So that we could have an exciting, mind-blowing experience? So the our worship services would make people go, “Wow, how thrilling”? Does the Bible teach that the Holy Spirit came so that people would focus on the Holy Spirit? So that people would hang banners with representations of doves in their churches and have seminars on Spirit-baptism, etc.? No, not at all. Listen carefully to what Jesus Christ says about the Spirit’s ministry: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come…He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (Jn.16:13-14). The Holy Spirit came to point me to Christ and to glorify Christ. After Peter was baptized in the Spirit, did he stand up and tell the crowd about his wonderful experience? Did he say, “Men and brethren, I have just received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I want to tell you how wonderful it is. When it came upon me, it was like being thrilled with a vital electric current. I felt such a beautiful love and peace course through my whole body, right down to the balls of my feet”? On the contrary, Peter made no reference to himself or his feeling. His message was Jesus Christ and Him crucified: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God…” (Ac. 2:22). . . .

The Bible teaches that signs are public, visible, miraculous events. Their purpose was not to give believers exciting worship services or a wonderful experience but to authenticate a divine message or messenger, to prove publicly that the person performing miracles was sent from God."

Brian M. Schwertley, The Charismatic Movement: A Biblical Critique, pg.10-11, 30-31.

Man Becomes Puffed-Up In His Ignorance

"...the less ability a man has, the more he tries to raise and swell himself out, as those of short stature exalt themselves on tip-toe, and the weak use most threats."

Quintilian's Institutes of Oratory, Book 2, Chapter 3

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Monarchical Bishop

Question: It appears that the early church resembled the Catholic Church because St Ignatius teaches that a single bishop should lead the church together with several presbyters and deacons. What do you say?

Answer: Where shall we start? What is God’s pattern for the leadership of the church? We would begin too late if we begin with the early church fathers. We should go back to the very beginning, to the churches in the apostolic era rather than the second century and later.

It is wrong to assume that the teaching and practices of the early church were necessarily correct simply because they were temporally closer to the apostles. Error springs up overnight. The apostle Paul was amazed that soon after his departure, the disciples in Galatia quickly fell into error. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6, 7). Now if Christians could be so easily deceived about the most fundamental and cherished truth they possess, the gospel, how easily could they be misled about issues of secondary importance, such as the pattern of church government?

Therefore we must answer our question from the New Testament Scripture because therein we learn the original pattern rather than the modifications and changes that occurred in the subsequent centuries.

More importantly, we would build our case on shaky foundations if we had to lean on the writings of fallible men such as Clement and Ignatius. Respected as these early Church Fathers are, they are still liable to make mistakes; their writings are neither inspired nor infallible. That’s another reason why we must rest on the Holy Scriptures, for these alone are given by inspiration of God, and therefore are certainly true.

So what do we find in the New Testament? Let us take a typical example:

“And when they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe) and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’ So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:21-23).

Paul’s missionary work resulted in the formation of new churches in these cities. But he had to move on. What kind of leadership did he leave behind him? “They had appointed elders in every church.” He left a number of elders to take care every local church.

Similarly, Paul writes to Titus: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5). Same thing: “elders in every city” - not one bishop and several priests.

This is the consistent New Testament pattern – every church was ruled by a group of elders, as the following scriptures illustrate:

Acts 11:30 - Elders at the church of Antioch.

Acts 14:23 -Paul and Barnabas appoint "elders in every church."

Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4 - Elders at the church in Jerusalem.

Acts 20:17, 28 - Elders/bishops at the church of Ephesus.

Acts 21:18 - Elders at the church in Jerusalem.

Philippians 1:1 - Bishops in the church of Philippi.

1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 - The congregation is to respect its leaders.

1 Tim 5:17 - Elders at the church of Ephesus.

Titus 1:5 - Titus is to appoint elders in every town.

James 5:14 – “The elders of the church.”

1 Peter 5:1-2 – “The elders among you.”

Hebrews 13:7, 17 - Heed the leaders of the church, "for they are keeping watch over your souls."

The Greek word translated “elder” is “presbuteros” (meaning: old, senior, elder) is also sometimes rendered “presbyter.” A different Greek word, “episkopos”, is translated “bishop” or “overseer” (meaning: superintendent, in charge of, overseer). Both words – elder and bishop – are used in the New Testament to describe church ministers. Are elders different from bishops? Or are elders actually bishops?

When Paul wrote to Titus to appoint “elders” in every city, he goes on to describe the necessary qualification, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you…for a bishop must be blameless…” Paul refers to every elder appointed as a bishop.

In Acts 20 we read Paul’s farewell speech to the elders of the church in Ephesus. “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church” (verse 17). He said to these elders, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God” (verse 28). The word “overseers” is the familiar word for bishop - “episkopos.” The same verse is rendered in the Catholic (Douay-Rheims) Bible: “Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

We can conclude that “elders” and “bishops” are the same people, and the two terms are being used interchangeably. Bishops are presbyters; presbyters are bishops. This sounds strange to us because we are not used to the concept of a plurality of elders (or bishops) leading a local church. Yet that is the biblical pattern. Hence, when Paul wrote to the Philippians, he addressed the letter “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” The church in Philippi was led by a number of bishops, with the aid of deacons.

The biblical evidence is conclusive. The apostolic churches were led by a number of elders, who were also known as bishops.

We now leave the apostolic church, and the certainty of the Holy Scriptures, and move on to the second century. Did the early church follow the “plurality of elders” pattern? Sadly, the answer is no! Early in the second century, Ignatius of Antioch was already proposing a different model: one bishop above several presbyters, and deacons.

I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our eternal and enduring joy, especially if [men] are in unity with the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons, who have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom He has established in security, after His own will, and by His Holy Spirit (Letter to the Philadelphians)

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God (Letter to the Smyrnaeans).

Was this the general pattern in the second century? No, there were other churches who still maintained the apostolic “plurality of elders” model. For example, the second century document, the Didache, says: “Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved.”

Also, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, Clement consistently refers to a plurality of elders (or bishops):

Ye therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts.

Let the flock of Christ live on terms of peace with the presbyters set over it.

For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you.

And thus preaching through countries and cities, they (the apostles) appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe.

An article on the Didache in the Catholic Encyclopaedia states: “The local ministers are bishops and deacons, as in St. Paul (Phil., i, 1) and St. Clement. Presbyters are not mentioned, and the bishops are clearly presbyter-bishops, as in Acts, xx, and in the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul. But when St. Ignatius wrote in 107, or at the latest 117, the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons were already considered necessary to the very name of a Church, in Syria, Asia Minor, and Rome. If it is probable that in St. Clement's time there was as yet no ‘monarchical’ bishop at Corinth, yet such a state of things cannot have lasted long in any important Church.”

Ignatius and Clement disagree; Ignatius has one bishop over the presbyters (the new pattern); Clement speaks of a number of presbyters leading the church, which he also calls bishops (the original pattern). Church Fathers are not unanimous in their opinions. Who, then, should be the arbiter? How can we decide what is God’s will? If we believe that the authority of God-inspired Scripture is above the opinions of fallible men, we would have no difficulty to answer.

Ignatius represent a step away from the original pattern, which gradually led to the “monarchical episcopate” – i.e. the church (and clergy) ruled by a single bishop. It also paved the way to evolution of the Patriarch; a bishop leading several churches in a large province (Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople), and ultimately, to the Papacy; a single bishop claiming authority over all other bishops and churches in the entire world!

Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi
www.justforcatholics.org
Used by permission