Monday, August 19, 2019

Is Penal Substitutionary Atonement Cosmic Child Abuse?

        Liberal theologians object to penal substitution on the grounds that no just legal system would ever try an innocent victim in the place of wrenched criminals. It is claimed that the doctrine portrays God as some vengeful and bloodthirsty tyrant who wants to punish His Son for crimes that He never even committed. In other words, a philosophical objection to penal substitution is that this theory of atonement undermines God's love and righteousness.

        First and foremost, it needs to be understood that Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh, took the punishment of sin upon Himself. The Godhead paid off our infinite debt of sin so that we did not have to suffer eternal condemnation. Our problem is that we have sinned against God, who is holy. So He as a result of His love enabled a means of redemption through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

         Jesus, knowingly and willingly, took on human flesh to make atonement for our sins (John 10:17-18). He died to make reparation for our sins and to bring glory to the Triune God. The members of the Trinity worked together as one to bring about our salvation. So, the claim that penal substitution is cosmic child abuse is a false analogy by its very nature. Our forgiveness came at a great expense: the death of God the Son. He was raised bodily from the grave to bring about our justification (Romans 5:18-19).

         If God does not punish the ungodly, then He cannot simply be regarded as morally right and fair. He would be compromising His holiness if He left evil to its own device. Sin results in judgement, and there is no reason for God not to do so (Ezekiel 18). If God has love for the ungodly, then it follows that there must also be a way for Him to satisfy His justice. There has to be grounds on which God can forgive us. Love is not a weakness in God's character. Neither is mercy incompatible with vengeance and judgement. Jesus Christ, being without sin, was qualified in every way to bear the punishment and guilt of sin on our behalf. The court room language has a considerable connection with Christ's atoning sacrifice, but does not fit every element of His atoning work.

Christ Is Reconciling All Things To Himself

[Colossians] 1:20 to reconcile all things to Himself. Christ is the remedy for alienation from God, and eventually all things will be changed and brought into a unity in Him, even though this will involve judgement (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

1:24 Because of the union of believers with Christ, Paul's sufferings for the sake of the church can be called Christ's afflictions as well.

1:25 the stewardship, assignment, office (1 Cor. 4:1).

1:26-27 the mystery. The secret unknown in OT times but known now only by divine revelation of the indwelling of Christ. See note on Eph. 3:3

1:28 Complete. Mature. The word was used by the mystery religions to designate those who had been initiated into the "secrets" of those religions. In Christ all can have wisdom and maturity.

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p. 1476

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Comments On The Greek Term Kenosis As Found In Philippians 2:5-11

[Philippians] 2:5-11 This passage on the humility of Christ is the high mark of the epistle. Unlike the informal, conversational style of the rest of the letter, verses 5-11 are highly polished. It is also noteworthy in that they convey in a few verses Paul's conception of the uniqueness of the person and work of Christ. Paul's point is that the disposition, the temper, of church members ought always to be that of Christ's.

2:6 In the form of God. Christ is the same nature and essence as God. to be grasped. The verse may be paraphrased: "Who, though of the same nature as God, did not think this something to be exploited to His own advantage."

2:7 emptied Himself. The kenosis (emptying) of Christ during is incarnation does not mean that He surrendered any attributes of deity, but that He took on the limitations of humanity. This involved a veiling of His preincarnate glory (John 17:5) and the voluntary nonuse of some of His divine prerogatives during the time He was on earth (Matt. 24:36). form. The same word as in verse 6. He was completely God and truly man. To deny either the deity or humanity of Christ requires denying the other.

2:8 a cross. I.e., a cross kind of death, the most despicable.

2:9 Through self-denial and obedience Christ won sovereignty over all peoples and things (v. 10).

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p.1469-1470

Friday, August 16, 2019

An Answer For Catholic Answers On Sola Scriptura And 1 Corinthians 4:6

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid once wrote an article for Catholic Answers titled Going Beyond in response to a Protestant minister, who apparently claimed in a letter that the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 "fits the bill" to save the doctrine of Sola Scriptura from "the realm of myth". Mr. Madrid proposed a number of objections against the citation of 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being an argument in defense of Sola Scriptura, all of which will be addressed in this article. If the entailments of Sola Scriptura (perspicuity, material sufficiency, formal sufficiency, and ultimate authority of Scripture) can be demonstrated from Scripture, then Patrick Madrid's position on the placement of biblical authority in the Christian church ("three-legged stool", meaning Scripture has equal authority with Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium) is in utter jeopardy. Without a doubt, 1 Corinthians 4:6 does "fit the bill" for the validation of Sola Scriptura. That passage most certainly weakens the Roman Catholic concept of tradition.
  • Presenting The Case For Sola Scriptura From 1 Corinthians 4:6:
          -The Church of Corinth was starting to obey the commandments of men, rather than the teachings of God as presented through divine Scripture. In other words, many brethren in the congregation to whom this epistle was addressed were guilty of living according to the flesh. The Corinthian Christians were divided into factions over morals, doctrine, and who their rightful leader was (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote (Scripture) to help the people who constituted the Church of Corinth change their ways of living and thinking to conform to the will of God. The inspired author of the epistle desired that they be like minded in Jesus Christ.
          -In the previous context of this epistle, the Apostle Paul figuratively spoke of the apostles as being fellow servants and custodians of the gospel. He did so with the intention of explaining to the Corinthian Christians their designated purpose, preaching the gospel. This was done because the church of Corinth had elevated the status of the apostles and their closest associates to a level which they were not. They were simply human beings, as were the Christians being addressed in the epistle. The people of the first century who advanced the Cause of Christ were instruments used to accomplish God's purpose. While Paul had described himself and his fellow Christian laborers as planting the seeds of spiritual conversion in the minds of the doubting and unbelieving, he gave all the credit and glory to God for success in ministry (1 Corinthians 3:5-15). While the apostles planted, God was causing the growth. It is only by the power of God that the apostles were able to carry out their mission in the efficacious manner as they did. So let us not be puffed-up (as were the Christians at the church of Corinth) with so-called human wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Dependency on God leads to true humility, as well as repentance from sin.
          -The Corinthian Christians needed to depend on the wisdom of God, not man. In other words, they needed to learn how to keep their thinking in alignment with God's will as revealed through the Bible. The church of Corinth needed to only use the written Word of God as the standard of judging leaders in the church. Furthermore, the message set forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6 can definitely be applied to the Christian church as a whole today.
          -Many professing Christians evaluate the quality of authoritative figures in the church by using factors such as humor, how they persuade, how they entertain, how they look, and by their intelligence. These points of consideration, however, are completely unbiblical standards by which we judge the validity of ministry and thus violate the principle set forth by the Apostle Paul in this text. Neither should we elevate ministers to a status that is not scripturally warranted. Furthermore, we have been instructed to formulate every doctrine off the teachings of the Bible. That is precisely of Paul's phrase: "not to think beyond what is written". Scripture is not the only source of authority, but is the ultimate standard of authority by which all things are tested. The Apostle Paul was using Scripture as the means of addressing issues such as pride, selfishness, and worldly wisdom. In other words, 1 Corinthians 4:6 prescriptively assumes the principle of Sola Scriptura as being necessary for the establishment of sound doctrine. It contains a general principle by which we are to observe. Any teaching that is not contained in Scripture did not originate from the Spirit of God.
          -The church of Corinth was beginning to follow unbiblical standards to judge the apostles, and was morally perverted. Thus the church had developed bitter contentions. This is a direct mirror reflection of the church's condition in modern times. But if Christians stay within the boundaries of scriptural revelation, then schisms will not develop because we could not muster enough pride to elevate the reputation of mere human beings to scripturally forbidden levels and follow man made traditions which in reality nullify the commandments of God. Scripture is what keeps our thinking in accordance to God's will. It is the source of doctrinal certitude. It equips the man of God for every good work. Consequently, rightfully practicing Sola Scriptura should produce doctrinal unity in the shining light of the gospel.
  • Is The Phrase "What Is Written" Mentioned In 1 Corinthians 4:6 An Allusion To The Book Of Life?:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid mentions the fact that some biblical commentators have interpreted the phrase "what is written" as being a reference to the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). This interpretation is rooted in the point that the four previous verses of the context superficially mention the concept of divine judgment. But connecting the phrase "what is written" with the "Book of Life" is highly problematical, since it would involve the Apostle Paul instructing the Corinthian Christians to not go beyond a book that they never even had access to in the first place. The Book of Life is located by God's throne in His heavenly kingdom. What is even more, is that the only place in Scripture where Paul had ever mentioned the Book of Life was very briefly in Philippians 4:3. In light of all this, it would be most reasonable to identify "what is written" as being a reference to Scripture . Other Bible versions render the phrase in 1 Corinthians 4:6 differently. The King James Version translates it to be, "not to think of men above that which is written." The New American Bible translates the phrase in question to be, "not to go beyond what is written." The New International Version translates it as, "Do not go beyond what is written." The Everyday Bible translates it as, "Follow only what is written in the Scriptures." The New Jerusalem Bible translates it to be, "Nothing beyond what is written." The text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 is quite straightforward in that it is referring to Scripture. It is abundantly clear that the inspired author of the epistle was assuming the principle of Sola Scriptura. On the contrary, the Church of Rome flatly contradicts the scriptural pattern set forth by the apostle in this verse because it elevates the authority of men to unbiblical levels and has throughout history defined the meaning of several dogmas that far transcend the boundaries of written revelation. But why would God want us to go beyond any book inspired by Him, anyway?
  • The Footnotes Of The Roman Catholic New American Bible Identify The Phrase "What Is Written" In 1 Corinthians 4:6 To Be Scripture. So Catholics Cannot Simply Claim That The Text Being Discussed At Hand Is Speaking Of The Book Of Life:
          -"That you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written...It probably means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contending themselves with Paul's proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God's promises in the Old Testament (what is written). Inflated with pride: literally, 'puffed-up,' i.e., arrogant, filled with a sense of self-importance. The term is particularly Pauline, found in the New Testament only in 1 Cor 4, 6. 18-19; 5, 2; 8, 1; 13, 4; Col 2, 18 (ch the related noun at 2 Cor 12, 20). It sometimes occurs in conjunction with the theme of 'boasting,' as in vv 6-7 here."
  • The Author Of The Article At Catholic Answers Claims That Citing 1 Corinthians 4:6 As Biblical Support For Sola Scriptura Would Also Require (Logically Speaking) Rejecting The Inspiration Of Subsequent Canonical Writings Which Comprise The New Testament:
          -It needs to be understood that the Old Testament was sufficient, but not the exhaustive content of divine revelation. In other words, the Old Testament Scriptures are sufficient for the establishment of doctrine. Jesus Christ Himself always appealed to the Scriptures as the final court of authority in spiritual matters. That is in fact the constant pattern recorded in Scripture. In truth, a logical parallel can be formulated to demonstrate the logically absurd nature of this objection to the citation 1 Corinthians 4:6 in favor of Sola Scriptura: "the present pope does not have the authority to infallibly define doctrine because there are future successors yet to be elected." The point is that the effectiveness of authority is not determined by its extent. Scripture has always been a sufficient rule of faith. The phrase "what is written" cannot simply be limited to the Old Testament writings, but Scripture in general. If the canon of Scripture is still open, then it follows that more divine revelation will be communicated in writing. It is not as though the apostles did not believe their writings to be divinely authoritative. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Moreover, Jesus Christ rebuked the so-called "Jewish Magisterium" of His day for its failure to understand the biblical doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:32). Indeed, the Roman Catholic view of authority is identical to that of the Scribes and Pharisees whom Christ had rebuked (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). Contrary to the bold proclamations of Roman Catholic apologists on the issue of Sola Scriptura, the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 affirms in a straightforward manner the ultimate authority of Scripture: "not to exceed what is written."
  • Evaluating The Roman Catholic Case For Sacred Tradition:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid objected to 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being supportive of Sola Scriptura on the grounds that the Apostle Paul taught orally to first century Christian churches (1 Corinthians 11:2). However, the underlying problem with this objection is that Sola Scriptura is not a denial of authoritative oral traditions. It is not a denial that the Word of God was once communicated orally. Furthermore, we cannot know which traditions are inspired apart from Scripture. Neither can it be proven that the references to traditions by the apostles were different in substance from what is taught in written revelation. The Bible is sufficient to reveal all the things that we need to know concerning salvation. Quite frankly, there is no reason for Roman Catholics to conclude the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 to be obscure when the Apostle Paul mentions tradition. That is simply a false dilemma. All these passages are crystal clear. Interpreting them in a literal sense does not result in a contradiction. These "traditions" are not mysterious or extra-biblical. And we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the phrase "what is written" is a reference to Scripture. The point of the apostles mentioning tradition was not to substantiate any notion of a twofold partim source of divine revelation, but to distinguish their doctrines from the teachings of apostates who claimed to accurately represent the gospel. We know that the apostles received divine teachings from God, whereas traditions upheld by Roman Catholicism such as the Immaculate Conception (1854 A.D.) and Assumption of Mary (1950 A.D.) are obviously of spurious origin.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Simple Rejoinder To The Roman Catholic Marian Interpretation Of Luke 1:28

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholics commonly appeal to the text of Luke 1:28 as biblical evidence for their Mariology, which is presented as follows:

          "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

          In response, it should be pointed out that women in the Old Testament Book of Judges are also referred to as "most blessed":

          "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent." (Judges 5:24)

          Surely, Roman Catholics would not argue that these women were immaculately conceived and assumed bodily into heaven.

          Obviously, the mere fact that Mary was called "blessed" by the Angel Gabriel is not an acceptable justification for the Roman Catholic Church's teachings concerning her.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Archaeological Discovery Helps Prove Babylonian Conquest Of Israel

The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence pointing to the validity of the Babylonian Conquest of the Holy City of Jerusalem in 587/586 BCE, as described by the Bible, according to a release published earlier this week.

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who have been excavating the hill known as Mount Zion in Jerusalem, say they have discovered arrowheads dating from the period, layers of ash, Iron Age potsherds, as well as a "significant" piece of jewelry - a gold silver tassel or earring - archetypal of the period in question.

"The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found -- pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period," the UNC archaeological team wrote in a statement.

The Mount Zion Archaeological Project is co-directed by UNC Charlotte professor of history Shimon Gibson, Rafi Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow of Haifa University, and James Tabor, UNC Charlotte professor of religious studies. The group has been working in the area for more than a decade and has made numerous significant finds relating to the ancient city's many historical periods.

In July 2019, the archaeologists found evidence concerning the sack of the city during the First Crusade.

The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history. The researchers say that the unique mix of artifacts and materials found, together with the way they were found - covered in layers of ash - solidify both the time period and that there was some type of destructive event that took place at that time.

"Alternative explanations for the artifacts can be eliminated," the researchers claim in their release. "Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse. Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down.

Gibson explained that the arrowheads are known as "Scythian arrowheads," and have been found at other archaeological conflict sites from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.

"They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors," he explained. "Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE."

The potsherds help date the discovery further, considering the lamp shards found are typical to the period.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Romans 10:9-10 And Public Confession

       "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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

       What is the relationship between salvation and confession? The connection between believing on Jesus Christ and publicly confessing His name is that both are perfectly consistent with each other. We confess His name by faith. Confession is not a meritorious deed. Confession is not something that we attach to faith as a requirement or prerequisite for salvation. It is not something that completes salvation. Rather, confession is simply an expression of faith. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch illustrates this point quite well (Acts 8:34-39).

        Audible confession of Christ's Lordship is evidence of a changed heart, as such will certainly bring about persecution. In context, the Apostle Paul is giving particular emphasis to the simplicity of receiving the righteousness of God. The gospel message is so simple that even children can properly make sense of it. Receiving His forgiveness comes by faith, not by keeping the Law. We are saved because God is gracious. We are to place our trust in the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The object of our faith is Him. The foundation of our hope is Him. And a saving faith comes through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

        Justification before God is by faith alone, apart from the merit of good works. However, faith and works cannot be totally divorced from each other. If we have a heartfelt faith which results in salvation, then it follows that we will also recognize our need for a Savior. That is brought about through the repentance of sin. A faith that reflects trust in God cannot exist apart from repentance. So there can be no salvation apart from confession. All of this is simply inherent characteristics of a saving faith and the fruit of a regenerate heart. These things are inextricably connected. The Apostle Paul is not hereby placing faith and confession in a sequential or chronological fashion, but resorting to parallelism. The Reformation Study Bible has this useful footnote:

        "10:9, 10 confess . . . believe . . . believes . . . confesses. In the parallelism of v. 10 Paul reverses the order of verbs in v. 9 and thereby indicates that heart-belief and mouth-confession belong together for justification (“righteousness”) and salvation."

Monday, August 12, 2019

Celibacy Advances The Priesthood's Culture Of Compromised Truths

In the 2015 movie "Spotlight," the voice of Richard Sipe (played by Richard Jenkins) says over the speaker phone, “If you really want to understand the crisis, you need to start with the celibacy requirement.” He continues, “That was my first major finding. Only 50% of the [Catholic] clergy are celibate. Now, most of them are having sex with other adults. But the fact remains that this creates a culture of secrecy that tolerates and even protects pedophiles."

Sipe, the former priest and psychologist, who died in August 2018, devoted much of his life to the psychological treatment of priests. He wrote extensively on priestly celibacy. In 1990, he published A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy. He estimated then that at any given time only 50% of priests, monks and bishops are actually celibate. This contributes to a culture of mendacity (lying).

In a 2016 letter to San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, Sipe wrote:

Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children. … When men in authority — cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors — are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active-sex life under the guise of celibacy, an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative.

In other words, priests and bishops are not going to expose others because they may be guilty themselves. The recent cases of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield of West Virginia prove this point. How could they rise so high and allegedly endure so long in their double lives? Perhaps because people who knew were also compromised by sexual activity.

Related: The priesthood is being crucified on the cross of celibacy

In our 2016 novel Strange Gods: A Novel About Faith, Murder, Sin and Redemption, which I wrote with Msgr. Jack Myslinski, the character of Msgr. Matthew Ackerman says:

The problem is being celibate. Celibacy turns us all into liars. … The whole thing is built on mendacity. …

Celibacy leaves a wound. Some people kid themselves into thinking it doesn't, but it does. You try to compensate, but you are never really whole. Some priests drown their sorrows in alcohol or pills. A lot of them overeat and get obese. … Some guys travel all the time to escape. Others take secret lovers. Some redecorate the rectory over and over again. That's a classic clerical tradition, decorating. Just look at all the frescoes in the Vatican. It's a kind of retail therapy that has been going on for centuries.

Again, the cases of McCarrick and Bransfield illustrate this "celibacy wound" compensation. Both men decorated lavishly and traveled luxuriously. Both allegedly carried on secret sexual liaisons, evidently trying to heal their "celibacy" wound.

In 1994, I wrote an article about celibacy for The Washington Post following several priest sexual scandals in Washington. I said then:

In light of recent sexual scandals involving priests, I find some skepticism about priestly celibacy. Among skeptics, I get one of two reactions. Some people think priest are liars. Others think we are fools. Some of the time, of course, they are right.

Don't think that this is just an American problem. It is a universal problem as scandals in Poland, Ireland, France, India, Philippines, Kenya, Congo, and Costa Rica, etc. have shown. In Africa, where some of the fiercest defenders of celibacy are to be found, it is widely reported that priests routinely live double lives, keeping "secret" families in homes far from their parishes.

On June 1, The Washington Post reported that Fr. Peter Njogu is publicly leading a breakaway Renewed Universal Catholic Church in Kenya over the issue of celibacy. He is married and has established himself as a bishop of a schismatic church. Twenty priests have followed him along with more than 2,000 Catholics in several congregations. He said in The Post, "They (his followers) are tired of the hypocrisy. Some of our people call us the 'Church of the Future.' " Njogu says that other priests tell him, "The problem with you is that you went public. And I say, 'I am not the problem: I am the solution. Join me.' "

In Latin America I have encountered the same phenomenon. People openly express skepticism about celibacy because they know or suspect that Padre has a secret family. Look at Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel Degollado, who had not one but two secret families in Mexico.

Celibacy is not essential to holiness. Many saints were married and had children. The Second Vatican Council said there is a universal call to holiness. If celibacy were essential to holiness, then most of the church could not be holy. Sex is an essential part of holiness in the sacrament of matrimony. We say that marriages are "consummated" by a sexual relationship.

Celibacy is not essential to Catholic priesthood. It is only mandated in two of the 24 "autonomous churches" in communion with Rome; the Latin Rite and the Ethiopian Rite. All of the others — the Ukrainian Rite, Syrian Rite, Maronite Rite, Coptic Rite, etc. — allow their priests to marry prior to ordination. Are 22 churches of the East not also holy?

St. Peter was not celibate. Much of the clergy for the first 1,000 years of Christianity were not celibate.

Celibacy was not mandated for diocesan clergy until the first Lateran Council (1123) and reaffirmed by the second Lateran Council (1139). Both of those decrees were brought on by the fact that many clergy, especially in rural areas, had wives or concubines. Often they gave church property to their families. Celibacy then was honored more in the breach than the observance.

At least seven popes were married. Several others had children either before or during their papacies. Pope Julius II, the pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, fathered three daughters. There was even a father and son pope combination, Pope Hormisdas (514-523) who was father to Pope Silverius, (536-537) who himself fathered an illegitimate daughter.


Today we have many married priests in the Roman Rite who have come to us from the Anglican or Lutheran traditions. The Washington Archdiocese, like many American dioceses, has several married priests who were first ordained in the Episcopal church and then received into the Roman church. If they can be married, why not others?

Luke 17:7-10 Is Biblical Support For Justification By Faith Alone

  • For The Professing Christians Who Try To Refute The Doctrine Of Justification By Faith Apart From The Merit Of Works (Sola Fide), They Need To Consider The Text Of Luke 17:7-10:
           -“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10)

          The Lord Jesus Christ was in this passage speaking in regard to our faith. Christians in fulfilling the process of disciplining do not claim for themselves God's kindness and favor. Believers are simply doing as He had commanded them, independently of whether the quality of their work is that of perfection. It is not by good works that we earn the right to approach God. Rather, such is granted to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

          We are mere servants of God, who will reward us for our holy conduct in this life. All growth that we experience in sanctification is a result of His divine grace. Any and all blessings that we receive are from Him. Our good works have no value in of themselves. Self-righteous or vainglorious thoughts should be absent from our minds in obeying our Master. Our good works cannot contribute to our salvation, nor should they be done just to satisfy inner longings for admiration and approval.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

One Of The Greatest Questions Ever Asked

        "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)

        We live in a culture that is obsessed with material gain. Many in human civilization waste hordes of time daily on keeping up with the latest fashion trends or vehicle models. Commercials that we hear on the radio and on television oftentimes announce various ways to improve the quality of virtually every facet of our lives. Businesses concentrate on accumulating large masses of wealth. Gullible customers concentrate on getting the best material items possible. This all points to the fact that an inherent part of human nature is a desire to find a source of ultimate fulfillment.

        There is one thing of utmost importance that society has totally overlooked, however. That is the Person of Jesus Christ as proclaimed through the gospel. The vast majority of people in society seem to be utterly oblivious to or unconcerned regarding their sinful condition and need of a Redeemer. This is the underlying reason that should motivate us to preach God's Word to this lost world. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ eloquently and with great simplicity made known the futility of striving to reach top dog status according to worldly standards.

        Even if a person became so popular that he or she could instantaneously claim possession of the entire world, that position of earthly supremacy would be worthless in the sight of God. Nothing is more precious than the human soul. Nothing in this life should be considered more important than our eternal destiny, for the things of this world are passing away before our very eyes. We must seek and worship God on His own terms. If people do not repent at the preaching of the gospel, then they will perish for all eternity. Material possessions can always be stolen or destroyed. We cannot take them with us into the supernatural realm. All things created by man rightfully belong to God alone, since He at the beginning of time formed all the particulates which constitute the composition of everything that we can observe. He even gave us the ability to grow in intellect and capabilities.

        If a person gathers from this lecture that we cannot find enjoyment in the things we do have, then he or she has misunderstood this message. The idea being stressed here is that we are not to allow our material possessions to rule over us. We are not to allow ourselves to become preoccupied with them to the point where they control our lives. In that case, possessions become idols and demons. Our chief focus should be on God who is above. We should thank Him continually for the things that we do have, as He has the power to take everything away just as quickly as He imparted those same gifts to us. We should be rejoicing in Him continually. The material achievements of man are as a small island in comparison to the oceans of eternity. Our hope should rest on the solid foundation of the eternal promises set forth by Jesus Christ.

Immanuel Kant's Critique Of David Hume

It may be said of David Hume that he initiated the attack on pure reason. My own labours in the investigation of this subject were occasioned by his sceptical teaching, for his assault made them necessary. He argued that without experience it is impossible to know the difference between one thing and another; that is, we can know a priori, and, therefore, the notion of a cause is fictitious and illusory, arising only from the habit of observing certain things associated with each in succession of connections.

On such principles we can never come to any conclusion as to causes and effects. We can never predict a consequence from any of the known attributes of things. We can never say of any event that it must necessarily have followed from another; that is, that it must have had an antecedent cause. And we could never lay down a rule derived even from the greatest number of observations. Hence we must trust entirely to blind chance, abolishing all reason, and such a surrender establishes scepticism in an impregnable citadel.

Mathematics escaped Hume, because he considered that its propositions were analytical, proceeding from one determination to another, by reason of identity contained in each. But this is not really so, for, on the contrary, they are synthetical, the results depending ultimately on the assent of observers as witnesses to the universality of propositions. So Hume's empiricism leads to scepticism even in this realm.

My investigations led me to the conclusion that the objects with which we are familiar are by no means things in themselves, but are simply phenomena, connected in a certain way with experience. So that without contradiction they cannot be separated from that connexion. Only by that experience can they be recognized. I was able to prove the objective reality of the concept of cause in regard to objects of experience, and to demonstrate its origin from pure understanding, without experimental or empirical sources.

Thus, I first destroyed the source of scepticism, and then the resulting scepticism itself. And thus was subverted the thorough doubt as to whatever theoretic reason claims to perceive, as well as the claim of Hume that the concept of causality involved something absolutely unthinkable.

The World's Greatest Books (Philosophy and Economics), p. 39-40

Friday, August 9, 2019

A Topical Scripture Cross Reference Study On Integrity And Ethics

  • The Mosaic Law System Operated On The Principle Of Fairness And Truthfulness:
          -"One witness alone shall not stand against someone in regard to any crime or any offense that may have been committed; a charge shall stand only on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If a hostile witness rises against someone to accuse that person of wrongdoing, the two parties in the dispute shall appear in the presence of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and judges in office at that time, and the judges must investigate it thoroughly. If the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other, you shall do to the false witness just as that false witness planned to do to the other. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. The rest shall hear and be afraid, and never again do such an evil thing as this in your midst. Do not show pity. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!" (Deuteronomy 19:16-20)
  • Scripture Is Replete With Warnings Against Spewing Off Falsehood:
          -"The false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever utters lies will not escape." (Proverbs 19:5)
          -"A club, sword, or sharp arrow— the one who bears false witness against a neighbor. A bad tooth or an unsteady foot—a trust betrayed in time of trouble. Like the removal of clothes on a cold day, or vinegar on soda, is the one who sings to a troubled heart. If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat, if thirsty, give something to drink." (Proverbs 25:18-21)
          -"Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, For would you deceive with your lips? Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." (Proverbs 24:28-29)
  • Scripture Condemns Rejoicing Over Times When Potential Enemies Experience Hardship Or Failure:
          -"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him." (Proverbs 24:17-18)
          -"Whoever mocks the poor reviles their Maker; whoever rejoices in their misfortune will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 17:5)
  • Scripture Contains Exhortations For Us To Love Our Enemies:
          -"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
          -"Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” (Romans 12:20)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Aquinas: There Is No Hope Of Justification, But Only By Faith...We Conclude That A Man Is Justified By Faith Without The Works Of The Law

Here's an interesting Aquinas tidbit from an old discussion list:

Et sie exponit Glossa. Sed Apostolus videtur loqui de moralibus, quia subdit quod lex posita est propter peccata, et haec sunt praecepta moralia. Horum legitimus usus est ut homo non attribuat eis plus quam quod in eis continetur. Data est lex ut cognoscatur peccatum. Roman., vii, 7: Quia nisi lex diceret,non concupisces (quod dicitur in Decalogo) concupiscentiam nesciebam. Non est ergo in eis spec justificationis, sed insola fide. Roman., iii, 28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus legis.

"But the Apostle seems to be speaking about morals, because he adds that the law was set forth because of sin, and the law consists of moral precepts. The proper use of these precepts is that man not attribute to them more than what is contained in them. The law was given so that sin might be recognized. As Romans 7:7 says, "Unless the law were saying, 'Do not covet,' (which the Decalogue says), I would not have known about covetousness. In the precepts, therefore, there is no hope (spec=spes?) of justification, but only by faith. As Romans 3:28 says, "We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law."

Thomas Aquinas, "Epistola I Ad Timotheum", "Lectio III" in *Opera Omnia*, Volume 21: *Commentarii in Epistolam Ad Corinthios 1 In Caeteras Omnes Epistolas S. Pauli.* Paris: Apud Ludovicum Vives, Bibliopolam Editorem, 1876, page 456.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Double-Standard Raised In Arguing That Morals Are A Product Of Evolution

"In a promotional piece for his book, Wright says, "My hope is that people will use the knowledge [in this book] not only to improve their lives-as a source of 'self-help'-but as cause to treat other people more decently" (emphasis ours).

This statement captures a major flaw in Wright's analysis. His entire thesis is that chance evolution explains morality, that the environment selects those whose morals are beneficial or survival. Morality is a product of nature.

Yet Wright frequently lapses, unconsciously making reference to a morality that seems to transcend nature. Take this comment: "Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse" (emphasis ours).6 Write reflects on the moral equipment randomly given to us by nature and then bemoans our immoral use of it with such words as tragic, pathetic, and misuse.

He writes, "Go above and beyond the call of a smoothly functioning conscience; help those who aren't likely to help you in return, and do so when nobody's watching. This is one way to be a truly moral animal."7

It's almost as if he has two categories of morality-nature's morality and a transcendent standard used to judge nature's morality. But where did this transcendent standard come from? If transcendent morality judges the "morality" that evolution is responsible for, the it can't itself be accounted for by evolution."

Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, p. 159

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A Scholarly Compilation Of Excerpts On The Roman Catholic Priesthood And Transubstantiation

  • Excerpts From The Encyclopedia Britannica On The Origin Of The Roman Catholic Priesthood:
           -“A priesthood developed gradually in the early Christian church as first bishops and then elders, or ‘presbyters,’ began to exercise certain priestly functions, mainly in connection with the celebration of the Eucharist. By the end of the 2nd century, the church’s bishops were called priests (Latin: sacerdos)… The development of eucharistic theology resulted in a further emphasis of the priest’s supernatural powers and qualities…” (
           -“Although the term ‘priest’ (Greek hiereus) refers to the entire Christian people, it is given to no church office in the New Testament. First appearing in the 2nd century, the office is associated with the establishment of the eucharistic sacrifice, over which the priest was called to preside. No doubt the development of the monarchical episcopate also contributed to the emergence of the priesthood…” (
  • This Excerpt From Christian Apologist William Webster Gives Us Even Further Insight Into The Historical Development Of The Roman Catholic Priesthood:
           -" the early writings of the Church no mention is made of priests in Christian ministry. There is a parallel sometimes drawn between the offices of the New Testament and the ministerial functions of the priesthood in the old dispensation — as found in the writings of Clement and Ignatius, for example — but they do not teach that New Testament ministry and ministers are the same as in the Old Testament. Clement in 1 Clement 40-41 uses the Old Testament priesthood as an illustration of a principle of divine calling and orderliness. At that time, God specifically called and appointed certain men to perform a specified ministry which was to be done in a particular way. He then applies that principle to his readers under the New Testament dispensation, to warn them that God still calls and appoints men to fulfill the role of pastor, elder and deacon, and that believers must be careful to submit to the authorities that God has established in the Church.

           Clement never uses the term ‘priest’ to describe a Christian minister. This is true of all the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Polycarp, Ignatius, Clement and The Didache all use the terms ‘bishop’ or ‘presbyter’ and ‘deacon’ when referring to those responsible for Christian ministry. These are the terms employed by the New Testament itself. When these and other writers do use the Greek term for ‘priest’ (hiereus), it is always in reference to the Old Testament or to the person of Christ. The first use of the word to refer to Christian ministers is from the writings of Origen the third century Greek Father. Clement of Alexandria, writing in the latter part of the second century, uses the word to describe all Christians in general.

           It is with the fourth century Greek Fathers that we find the word hiereus universally applied to describe a Christian minister.4 And it is with Tertullian in the West that the beginnings of a sacerdotal function in the Christian ministry began to become evident, for he uses the Latin term sacerdotium (priesthood) to describe a Christian minister. It is clear that by the beginning of the third century Christian ministers were beginning to be viewed as priests similar to those of the Old Testament."
           -"Priesthood as we know it in the Catholic church was unheard of during the first generation of Christianity, because at that time priesthood was still associated with animal sacrifices in both the Jewish and pagan religions.”
           -"The doctrine of transubstantiation is simply the fruit of the scholastic use of Aristotle in the middle ages. It depends, on the face of it, on the difference of substance and accidents. The substance of bread is changed into the substance of the Lord's body, the accidents of bread remain. Without this theory, the idea could not exist. But this theory of a particular substance and accidents was a mere metaphysical theory, without any real foundation. We have got nowadays to molecules and atoms infinitely minute, which may be called perhaps substance or essential matter; but all this Aristotelian theory of an imaginary substance and accidents in material objects, is a mere groundless fancy. We see different qualities which awaken sensations in us; colour, form, hardness, etc., and the mind recognises there is something there. Of this conviction, which in relation to us creatures I do not dispute, Aristotle and the schoolmen, who were as a rule wholly under his influence, made a distinct but imaginary substratum in which the various qualities were inherent. There was the substance of bread, etc. But this was a mere philosophical notion, a mere theory of the heathen Aristotelian school, adopted by the schoolmen, and has no other foundation whatever. But the whole doctrine of transubstantiation, and even the word, depends on it, cannot exist without it, is the mere expression of it, only bringing in a miracle on the ground of it, as to the Lord's supper."
           -"It undermines belief in the resurrection because if our senses are deceiving us about the consecrated host, then how do we know they are not deceiving us about the resurrection appearances of Christ which is at the heart of the gospel?"

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Type Of People Consistent Moral Relativism Produces

"In our society, we have a name for these people; they are a homicide detective's worst nightmare. The quintessential relativist is a sociopath, one who has no conscience. This is what relativism produces.

Something is terribly wrong with an alleged moral point of view that produces a psychopath as its brightest star. This is another reason relativism does not qualify as an ethical viewpoint.

Relativism does not stand in any great moral tradition. Rather, it has been universally rejected by all. The supreme moral teachers of all time-Moses, Jesus, the apostle Paul, Buddha, Aristotle, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.-have all condemned this view.

Relativism simply is not a moral point of view.  Its "morality" is no different than having no morality at all, its moral hero is a sociopath, and has been opposed by every moral tradition. Those who are relativists have no morality."

Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, p. 31

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Golden Rule Is Found In All Ancient Religions

        "...If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Greeks, and Romans, what will really him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 6)

       "...Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own family, or your fellow country men, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they always have agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked." (p. 6)

        "...surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did-if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather-surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did? There is a difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about a matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house" (p. 14-15)

        This factor certainly is a powerful support of the moral argument for the existence of God, as it shows us that He has inscribed His moral laws into the hearts of us all.

        If, however, moral relativism is true, then it would be difficult to imagine how the golden rule (love your neighbor as yourself) can be found in ancient human civilizations outside the Judeo-Christian framework. This all seems to point to a moral law giver, with the problem being our sin nature that we inherited due to the fall of Adam and Eve.

        Let us suppose for the sake of argument that nobody knew of a universal law code that governed human conduct. That would still not refute the existence of objective moral truths, any more than if an entire chemistry class got a wrong answer to a test question proves that there is no correct answer.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Error Of Sacrificing Principle For Physical Comfort And Convenience

There are two ways to understand the meaning of the word equality. Our Founding Fathers understood it to mean that all were equal under the law; all should be equal and free in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Today, the word has come to mean economic equality; this means that money must be taken from the rich and given to the poor so that everyone is equal in wealth (or lack of it). This is attractive to many people, but we as a nation must again read these perceptive words by Abraham Lincoln:

We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name-liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties called by two different and incompatible names-liberty and tyranny (italics added).5

Unfortunately, given a choice, many people would prefer economic equality along with tyranny rather than economic opportunity with freedom. In free societies, all will not be economically equal. Those who live in a socialistic state become slaves of government regulations and government laws: citizens become compliant, they accept work quotas and state controlled prices, and because the government seeks to be "fair," the rich are inordinately taxed in order to give benefits to the poor. You obey the master out of whose hand you eat. And, as someone has said, we all desire a life of ease with a high reward. Here is how historian David A. Rausch describes the Hitler era:

Hitler had lowered wages; state governments and economies were consolidated under the totalitarian regime; and Germany began to rearm. The economy began to recover and the men were put back to work but at the high price of personal freedom. Virtually every area of German life was under the control of the Nazi regime, yet most citizens did not seem to care. Fed a steady dosage of propaganda by the press and entertained with massive rallies, parades, and "gifts" from "The Fuhrer," the German people swelled with pride at their nation's apparent comeback.6

And so, we, like the German people, are prone to believe the extravagant promises of our politicians because it makes us feel good. Of course, regardless of what we think of Social Security and Medicare, such programs have been of great benefit to many. The challenge is to think clearly about the controversial topic of what government can do and what it should do. As far as I know, no government in history has had a great record in providing expanded benefits without eventually expecting more control of its citizens.

Erwin W. Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, p. 51-53

Does 1 Corinthians 13:2 Nullify "Faith Alone"?

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a post written by Roman Catholic apologist Joe Heschmeyer titled Salvation by Faith Working in Love. We begin this critique with an excerpt from the author:

          "Now, the first two, even by themselves are meritorious. Romans 4:3 reminds us that by Genesis 15:6, Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” But from this must come the third part of faith — the obedience of faith. After all, James 2:19 notes that even the demons have these first two forms of faith."

          A true faith in God consists of knowledge, assent, and trust. What the demons lack is trust.

          "So Abraham is faithful not because he has just the first two forms of faith, but because he has all three. Protestants often claim that you can’t have the first two forms of faith without the third, but this is wrong — as noted, the demons do."

          The obedience of faith does not constitute the essence of faith. Rather, it is the outworking of a saving faith.

          Furthermore, the mere presence of faith is not meritorious. It is meaningless by itself. Faith solely communicates merit because the object of our faith, which is Jesus Christ, has merit.

          "First, Paul says that faith without love is nothing. And second, Paul speaks of the various spiritual gifts a bit later in the chapter, and says that love is greater than faith. Now, from Luther’s perspective, if you truly believed Jesus was Lord, that faith would necessarily result in love and good works. But here, Paul’s talking about people for who that just isn’t so. They believe that Jesus is Lord, they perhaps even believe He’s calling them to love, but they just don’t."

          The Apostle Paul does not issue imperatives apart from first assigning to them a solid basis in a statement concerning one's identity in Christ. Consequently, commands for Christians to love one another are always established in the believer's identity as those who are in Him. This is the purpose and reason for focusing on the priority of the Christian's identity in Jesus Christ prior to understanding what we must do as His disciples.

          Paul perceives love as greater than faith, not because of its salvific efficacy, but because it does not pass away. Love is the supreme spiritual gift because it will never cease. Faith will become as sight at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hope will find its fulfillment, but love will continue for all eternity as we experience fellowship directly with the object of our desires, which is God.

          "In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is explaining why out of faith, hope and love, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). He’s comparing real faith with real hope and real love, and saying that love still greater, because real faith, by itself, isn’t enough.

          Love proceeds from our definitive standing as justified through union with Christ. The Apostle Paul is formally speaking of the sanctified life which comes as a natural result of one getting saved. He is not addressing life which produces meritorious righteousness in the sight of God. A Christian, having been made righteous, will live as Christ through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to desire and to work in a manner that is pleasing to God (Philippians 2:12-13). The apostle described the Church of Corinth as already having been declared washed, sanctified, and justified in the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11). His commands follow from this statement.

          Our love for God and neighbor is an indication of having been adopted an regenerated (1 John 4). Salvation is demonstrated through our actions (James 2:18). Therefore, a lack of love for Christ and His church may very well serve as evidence of not having a truly saving faith and being a part of the family of God.

          "The KJV version of Galatians 5:6 nails it: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Paul’s phrase, also translated “faith working through love” sums everything I’ve said up succinctly: for faith to be worth anything, it must not be mere belief, or even belief combined with trust, but belief, trust and loving obedience.

          Interestingly enough, the Roman Catholic New American Bible has this footnote on this passage from Galatians 5:

          "The Greek for faith working through love or “faith expressing itself through love” can also be rendered as “faith energized by (God’s) love.”

          Faith is the root, and love is the fruit. Our faith is evidenced by our love. This messages is in no way inconsistent with Sola Fide.

          "So where Luther was wrong was that he believed that all true seeds of faith eventually bore the fruit of good works, so that as long as you had a seed, you knew you’d eventually have fruit. That’s not true. The parable of the sower appears in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8 — in all three versions, the exact same seed is thrown, and yet depending of the soil (the disposition of the hearer of the word of God), it either dies out at once, grows and then dies out, or grows and bears fruit.

          Those parables are about the Word of God being preached across the globe and the various responses to it. The seed is the gospel, not faith. God is the author and finisher of our salvation. Works always follow genuine faith because it is God’s redemptive work.

          The context of 1 Corinthians 13:2 is not about justification or how one gets right with God. Also, the principle of Sola Fide does not exclude emotions or fruit of the Spirit. So, this is another argument that does not hold water. The idea of a saving faith potentially existing devoid of love is not even scriptural. Paul utilizes hyperbole in 1 Corinthians 13 in emphasizing the significance of love.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Baptize Dead Babies--Yes or No? Another Roman Catholic Rabbit Hole

Catholicism’s teaching on baptism is an irreconcilable dichotomy. On the one hand, the Catholic church insists that people MUST be baptized for them to even be considered for salvation. On the other hand, it has made concessions to religious liberalism and now grants that non-baptized members of other religions and even atheists may also merit salvation if they “follow the light they are given” and are “good.” It’s quite strange that the Catholic church takes a very liberal attitude towards non-members regarding baptism, but still gets tightly wound around the legalistic axle when it comes to its membership.

For centuries, the Catholic church taught that infants who had died before they were baptized were consigned to a halfway house between Heaven and Hell called Limbo. In the last twenty years, the RCC has moved away from its Limbo teaching and now states that it “hopes” unbaptized babies will be allowed into Heaven. But baptizing babies from Catholic families is still a VERY important priority in the Catholic religion in stark contrast to the church’s liberal attitude with regards to non-Catholics and baptism.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast of the “Calling all Catholics” radio talk show and heard an example of how Catholicism still gets wrapped tightly around the axle over baptism technicalities.

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio – 4/1/19
Host – David Anders, Moderator – Thom Price

Beginning at the 16:07 mark, Anna from Omaha, Nebraska called in to say her aunt had stopped practicing her Catholic “faith” because the woman’s baby was born stillborn and her parish priest refused to baptize the baby because it was dead. Anna wanted to know from host and apologist, David Anders, if miscarried or stillborn babies can still be baptized. Let’s see how Anders responded:

David Anders: The church does baptize stillborn babies, and in the same way that the church would give last rites, anointings, and so forth, and absolution, to a person who had died biologically at the end of their life. Now, there’s a point beyond which you won’t do that. I mean you’re not going to baptize a corpse that’s three weeks old. You’re not going to anoint a corpse that’s in the grave three weeks. But when the priest is headed to the hospital to perform either an emergency baptism or last rites, and the nurse runs out and says,

“Don’t worry about it, father, the person just passed.” The priest says, “Uh, sorry, excuse me, I’m coming in anyway,” because we don’t know the moment of metaphysical death. We know the moment of biological death. We can put that in a text book. But we don’t know when metaphysical death occurs. I’m not a priest. I don’t have a copy of the ritual in front of me and I don’t actually know what the (Canon) law says about how long can you legitimately wait, but we have a preference for performing the sacrament, and yes, you can baptize either a baby or an adult person who has expired because we don’t know for sure. You can’t wait a week, but, yeah, if you’re five minutes late, sure, yes you can, and the church has always done that.

Anders states above that a baby can be baptized after he/she has died. He specifies five minutes as an allowable lapse between death and baptism, but then cites three weeks and then a week as obviously unallowably long lapses. Well, what then is the absolute legal limit for baptism after biological death? Is it ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? I searched the Catholic Code of Canon Law on Baptism (Cann. 849-878) and there are no allowances made for baptizing babies that have already died. The closest related Canon is Canon 871: “If aborted fetuses are alive, they are to be baptized insofar as possible.”

In an article in the Journal of the Catholic Health Association, chaplains at Catholic hospitals are advised NOT to baptize dead infants, with no lingering time allowances specified. In fact, the article argues very strongly against baptizing deceased babies. See here.

Once again we have an example of Catholicism creating a legalistic rabbit hole where there is no authoritative answer for this, that, and the other exception.

In contrast to convoluted Catholic teaching, we read in the Bible that Jesus Christ invites all young children to abide with Him:

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14

Baptism saves no one! It is Jesus Christ who saves. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Praise the Lord God for the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Our Confidence Lies In Christ

'4. And—Greek, “But.” “Such confidence, however (namely, of our ‘sufficiency,’ 2 Co 3:5, 6; 2 Co 2:16—to which he reverts after the parenthesis—as ministers of the New Testament, ‘not hinting,’ 2 Co 4:1), we have through Christ (not through ourselves, compare 2 Co 3:18) toward God” (that is, in our relation to God and His work, the ministry committed by Him to us, for which we must render an account to Him). Confidence toward God is solid and real, as looking to Him for the strength needed now, and also for the reward of grace to be given hereafter. Compare Ac 24:15, “hope toward God.” Human confidence is unreal in that it looks to man for its help and its reward."

Excerpt taken from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Monday, July 29, 2019

Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 Offer Support For Praying To Mary And The Saints?

  • Discussion:
          -A passage of Scripture that is sometimes appealed to by Roman Catholic apologists in supporting the concept of saintly intercession is 2 Timothy 1:16-18. In answering this argument, the following points should be made.

          There is no way of decisively knowing whether or not Onesiphorus was dead when the Apostle Paul wrote this epistle. Inferences can certainly be drawn in debating such a question, but the context of this verse does not conclusively rule in favor of either side. Knowing whether or not Onesiphorus was dead at the time Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy is not necessary in order for the text to make sense.

          Perhaps Onesiphorus was alive and simply away from home. So Paul had an urge to pray for his companion's family. What the text does indicate is that the two were not together. As this resource explains

          "Knowing that even these good deeds could not save Onesiphorus and his house, the apostle asks the Lord to show mercy to his friend — to keep him in the grace of God that he might persevere until the very end."

          This makes perfect sense because Christianity was heavily persecuted under the Roman Empire. A prayer for perseverance to the end would, by necessity, mean that he was still alive. These notes from Dr. Thomas Constable are also pertinent here:

          "Onesiphorus’ household was an exception to the “all” above (v. 15), or perhaps they had felt differently and had later reaffirmed their loyalty to Paul. In any case his family had diligently and unashamedly sought out Paul and had ministered to him during his current imprisonment. For this Paul wished the Lord would show Onesiphorus “mercy” at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. “that day” in v. 12). Because Onesiphorus had “found” Paul, Paul hoped that Onesiphorus would “find” mercy from the Lord. Paul seems to have been envisioning a scene in which all his brethren would stand before the Lord, Onesiphorus among them, namely, Christ’s judgment seat. God would express displeasure with the failure of the others, but Onesiphorus would escape that shame (cf. 1 John 2:28). Paul again used the possibility of shame to motivate Timothy (cf. v. 8). Timothy knew about Onesiphorus’ earlier faithful ministry in Ephesus. Paul referred to this as well to encourage Timothy to throw in his lot with Onesiphorus and his family rather than with those who had turned against the chained apostle."

          Even if Onesiphorus was dead at this point in time, the apostle was merely petitioning God to show mercy to that man's family. After all, he was very beneficial to Paul during his ministry. He wanted his household to be blessed as a result of his faithfulness and loyalty. This scenario would be similar to King David blessing the household of Jonathon and his descendants (2 Samuel 9:1-7). Paul would essentially be expressing a hope for Onesiphorus to be resting in peace. These comments from English divine and scholar Edward Hayes Plumptre are insightful here:

          "It is, at any rate, clear that such a simple utterance of hope in prayer, like the Shalom (peace) of Jewish, and the Requiescat or Refrigerium of early Christian epitaphs, and the like prayers in early liturgies, though they sanction the natural outpouring of affectionate yearnings, are as far as possible from the full-blown Romish theory of purgatory." (E. H. Plumptre, D. D.)

          Onesiphorus received complete forgiveness of sins at the moment of his conversion. If he was dead when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, then his fate was already sealed. No amount of prayers could possibly alter or help his eternal destiny. Paul was neither praying to Onesiphorus nor supporting the idea of anybody else doing such.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

An Example Of Proto-Transubstantiation?

  • Discussion:
          -This excerpt regarding King David's use of a metaphor by Dr. Joe Mizzi is rather insightful in light of how Roman Catholics adamantly insist that the words uttered by our Lord Jesus Christ during the Last Supper ("this is my blood") must be taken literally:

          "In a narrative in the book of Samuel, three brave men put their lives at risk to bring fresh water for their master, David, from a well on the side of the Philistines. But when David found out about this, he would not drink it. He said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” (2 Samuel 23:17). Is not this the blood of the men? He called the water in the vessel “blood,” not because it was transubstantiated, but simply because it represented the danger to the lives of those three men who brought it."

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Debunking Proof Texts That Roman Catholics Use In Defending Saintly Intercession

  • Discussion:
          -This article is essentially a continuation of another post that was written a few years back on the subject of praying to Mary and the saints. It is a rebuttal to a number of proof texts for this practice which are cited by Scripture Catholic:

          "Rom. 8:35-39 – therefore, death does not separate the family of God and the love of Christ. We are still united with each other, even beyond death."

          People enter into the supernatural realm at the moment of physical death. So in that sense, believers on earth certainly are separated temporarily from those present in heaven. 

          We should not expect Christians in heaven to be able to hear our prayer requests for the same reason that we cannot expect Christians across the globe to hear them.

          "Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30 – Jesus converses with “deceased” Moses and Elijah. They are more alive than the saints on earth."

          The point of the transfiguration was to show the preeminence of Jesus Christ. He was speaking to Moses and Elijah in His glory. These verses do not say anything in regard to prayer. Are there even any Roman Catholics who offer prayers to Moses and Elijah?

          "Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38 – God is the God of the living not the dead. The living on earth and in heaven are one family."

          Just because a saint is very much alive in the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary, does not mean that he or she is capable of answering or being a recipient of prayers.

          "Luke 15:7, 10 – if the angels and saints experience joy in heaven over our repentance, then they are still connected to us and are aware of our behavior."

          Angels rejoicing over a conversion cannot simply translate into support for them receiving our prayer requests because they most probably know when a soul is added to the Book of Life.

          Even if saints and angels in heaven were conscious of events on earth, could hear prayers, and had the ability to pray for somebody on earth, these scenarios would still not grant biblical justification for people offering prayers petitions to entities other than God. The prophets and the apostles never once mentioned entrusting prayer requests to saints and angels in heaven. Neither do we see in Scripture God approving of such activity.

          Satan is without a doubt conscious of events taking place in this world, and yet no Roman Catholic would ever suggest prayer to him.

          "Heb. 12:1 – the “cloud of witnesses” (nephos marturon) that we are surrounded by is a great amphitheatre of witnesses to the earthly race, and they actively participate and cheer us (the runners) on, in our race to salvation."

          The context of this passage much more relates to viewing the Old Testament saints as good moral examples. We are all united into a spiritual family by faith. There is nothing in that which would even remotely suggest prayer to these witnesses.

          "James 5:16; Proverbs 15:8, 29 – the prayers of the righteous (the saints) have powerful effects. This is why we ask for their prayers. How much more powerful are the saints’ prayers in heaven, in whom righteousness has been perfected."

          The prayer of the righteous man does indeed avail much, but these passages of Scripture say nothing in regard to prayers to or for deceased believers. Also, it is pure speculation to assert that the prayers of the saints in heaven are more effective than ours on earth. God is, after all, no respecter of persons.

          "Matt. 26:53 – Jesus says He can call upon the assistance of twelve legions of angels. If Jesus said He could ask for the assistance of angel saints, then so can we, who are called to imitate Jesus in word and in deed. And, in Matt. 22:30, Jesus says we will be “like angels in heaven.” This means human saints (like the angel saints) can be called upon to assist people on earth. God allows and encourages this interaction between his family members."

          This is a huge stretch in logic. It is more sensible to interpret this as referring to armies of angels. It is speaking of heavenly hosts, not deceased believers.

          "Rev. 5:8 – the prayers of the saints (on heaven and earth) are presented to God by the angels and saints in heaven. This shows that the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also demonstrates that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven. (The “24 elders” are said to refer to the people of God – perhaps the 12 tribes and 12 apostles – and the “four living creatures” are said to refer to the angels.)"

          This simply means that God allowed saints in heaven to "handle" the bowls of prayers. The text says nothing about prayers being directed to saints or angels in heaven, nor gives us permission to do so. The prayers were directed to God alone.

          "Rev. 6:9-11 – the martyred saints in heaven cry out in a loud voice to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell upon the earth.” These are “imprecatory prayers,” which are pleas for God’s judgment (see similar prayers in Psalm 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This means that the saints in heaven are praying for those on earth, and God answers their prayers (Rev. 8:1-5). We, therefore, ask for their intercession and protection."

          The passage does not say that we can pray to saints or angels in heaven. The Apostle John was transported to heaven, and the souls under the altar are very much alive and not dead men's bones.

          Some Roman Catholics argue that they do not pray directly to the saints, but only "ask" them to intercede (intervene on behalf of another) for prayers. In other words, it is claimed that Mary and the saints are only "asked" to pray for those who request their spiritual support. However, a person would have to pray to the saints if he or she asks them for something because they are not physically present. Furthermore, it would be rather illogical to ask somebody in heaven for support when they are in turn going to ask God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Roman Catholics do indeed pray to the saints in heaven (CCC # 2679). The Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, and Memorare are examples of prayers to Mary (and the language employed in these petitions sound much as if they were directed toward some goddess!).

          Others may argue that prayer is not a form of worship, but is just asking (in the same sense that a student would request assistance from a teacher). On the contrary, the biblical concept of prayer is always a form of worship. In Scripture, people always worshiped through prayer. And those petitions were always directed to God alone. We never see followers of God praying to other entities for any reason. While it is true that asking is a component of prayer, the biblical concept of prayer cannot simply be watered down to "just asking somebody" because it also encompasses other factors such as praise, adoration, thanksgiving, repentance, and mediation (Psalm 23; 25; Matthew 6:6-14; Luke 18:9-14).

          "Rev. 8:3-4 – in heaven an angel mingles incense with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God, and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. These prayers “rise up” before God and elicit various kinds of earthly activity. God responds to his children’s requests, whether made by his children on earth or in heaven."

          Should we conclude that the bowls of wrath, which are mentioned in Revelation 16:1-12, must also be directed to the saints in heaven, since they also carried those?

           The text does not command believers on earth to pray to or through angels, and it does not say that prayers were made to angels or saints. It says the angel was to add incense to the prayers in the golden censer containing the prayers of the saints.

          "Psalm 103:20-21; 148:1-2 – we praise the angels and ask for their assistance in doing God’s will...Psalm 141:2 – David asks that his prayer be counted as incense before God. The prayers of the saints have powerful effects."

          The Psalmists are simply telling all creations in all places to praise God's name. Creation is a reflection of His glory. These passages do not in any way exhort us to honor or pray to beings other than the Lord.

          In Psalm 103:22, inanimate objects are told to praise God. In Psalm 148:3, the sun, moon, and the stars are also told to praise God. Should we pray to these things, as well?

A Great Observation Regarding Roman Catholic Mariology And Christ's Intercessory Role

"The church appears to have painted itself into a theological corner. In trying not to detract from Christ, its theologians have so defined the role of Mary as to make it entirely indispensable: everything we need we get from Christ. If that's the case, what is the point or importance of Mary's mediation?

One the other hand, the oft-heard affirmation that Mary can influence her Son to help us necessarily implies that the Son otherwise would be less disposed to do so. In fact, the very concept of a mediator presupposes that there are differences that need to be reconciled between two parties. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that, apart from Mary's mediation, Christ himself would not be perfectly reconciled to us. All this seriously compromises the integrity of his high priesthood.

The church is stuck in a hopeless dilemma wherein either Mary's role is rendered superfluous, or the all-sufficiency of Christ's mediation is diminished. In trying to avoid either of these perceived pitfalls, it has fallen headlong into both."

Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples, The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary, p. 56

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Is The Book Of Enoch Inspired Scripture?

          A pseudepigraphal text known as the Book of Enoch was gradually written and assembled into one volume, with the oldest section being the Apocalypse of Weeks (dated to the second century BC). This work has caught the attention of numerous people because of its detailed descriptions of heaven and angels. The Book of Enoch has extra-biblical accounts regarding the Nephilim race and fallen angels. In a few words, it is a work of apocalyptical speculation. 

          Some Christians have raised the question as to whether the Book of Enoch is inspired due to it seemingly being quoted in Jude 14-15. A few others have even devised a conspiracy theory that it was removed from the canon of Scripture. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes Enoch in its own list of books comprising the Bible. This ancient compilation was even venerated by early Christian authorities such as Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus. Nonetheless, there is no reason for us to accept it as inspired Scripture. The words of Dr. John Oakes are very pertinent here:

          "Why, then, did the church in Alexandria, and therefore eventually the Coptic church, including the Ethiopian and the Egyptian churches, accept this book? This is not clear, but we know from the evidence that the early church began to use the OT apocrypha and other books, such as 1 Enoch, as early as the second century. Why Alexandria in particular used 1 Enoch more than the churches in Antioch, Constantinople and Rome is not clear, but we can speculate that they had more interest in eschatology (the study of end times) and apocalyptic literature in general. We know that Origen was open to fairly speculative theology and that Alexandria was the center of allegorical interpretation."

          Furthermore, the Book of Enoch was never a part of the Hebrew canon. Jesus Christ affirmed the traditional threefold division of the Old Testament books (Luke 24:44). The piece was not actually written by the Enoch mentioned in the Bible. The Essenes regarded this five part compilation as inspired Scripture, but their beliefs were entrenched in mysticism. It does not appear in early canon listings provided in authoritative sources such as Codex Sinaiticus or the Muratorian fragment. The Book of Enoch contains things that are arguably false. As this source explains:

          " says that the giants of Biblical times were 400-450 feet tall. That is over 6 times taller than the largest dinosaur to ever exist, 4 times longer than a blue whale, longer than a football field, and the same height as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. If this is true, why does the Bible only speaks of giants as being 8-15 feet tall, and where are all the other legends in other cultures of giants who were this tall?"

          The Book of Enoch contains a number of absurd ideas. As this source illustrates:

          "Enoch tells...of angels (stars) procreating with oxen to produce elephants, camels and donkeys: 7:12-15; 86:1-5."

          Does not the fact that Jude makes reference to the Book of Enoch give us sufficient reason to incorporate that particular work into the canon of Scripture? Not by any means. The Apostle Paul on a few occasions quoted pagan philosophers, yet those who believe in the divine inspiration of Enoch would not argue for the inclusion of those into the canon. There also remains the possibility that Jude was not actually quoting from the Book of Enoch but to some valid oral tradition. Many truthful statements can be found apart from the Bible. The New Testament author does not call what he alludes to Scripture. Rather, the text reads as "Enoch said". The following article excerpt elaborates perfectly on this point:

          "This would be similar to a modern day preacher citing a line from an atheistic scientist or philosopher. While the atheist’s book is not entirely true, it does contain true statements. Jude’s argument does not hang on these apocryphal passages; instead, we could back up everything that is written elsewhere in the OT [See Isaiah 40:10; 66:15-16; Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 3:13]."

          How are Christians supposed to view the Book of Enoch? We are to approach it as a literary work. Some parts are truthful, others erroneous. This writing has been altered so many times by both Jews and Christians that there is no grounds to include it in the canon. As this source explains:

          "The full text of 1 Enoch exists in a Ethiopic translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic original. There are some Greek fragments, as well as some Aramaic fragments. How can the church trust the reliability of a translation of a translation? Moreover, the textual transmission of 1 Enoch is ferociously complex. A related complication is how much of 1 Enoch we're supposed to canonize. 1 Enoch is a composite book. Even within that anthology, the Book of the Watchers is a composite work. 1 Enoch has a very complex editorial history."

          The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that:

          "Its survival is due to the fascination of marginal and heretical Christian groups, such as the Manichaeans, with its syncretic blending of Iranian, Greek, Chaldean, and Egyptian elements."