Saturday, January 26, 2019

"Animadversions Of A Synthetic Chemist"

Life requires carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins. What is the chemistry behind their origin? Biologists seem to think that there are well-understood prebiotic molecular mechanisms for their synthesis. They have been grossly misinformed. And no wonder: few biologists have ever synthesized a complex molecule ab initio. If they need a molecule, they purchase molecular synthesis kits, which are, of course, designed by synthetic chemists, and which feature simplistic protocols.

Polysaccharides? Their origin?

The synthetic chemists do not have a pathway.

The biologists do not have a clue.

[...]

Those who think scientists understand the issues of prebiotic chemistry are wholly misinformed. Nobody understands them. Maybe one day we will. But that day is far from today. It would be far more helpful (and hopeful) to expose students to the massive gaps in our understanding. They may find a firmer—and possibly a radically different—scientific theory.

The basis upon which we as scientists are relying is so shaky that we must openly state the situation for what it is: it is a mystery.

Excerpts from James Tour

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A List Of The Cultic Doctrines Of Mormonism

  • In Mormonism There Are Many Gods:
          -"In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.... In all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods." Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp.308, 474.
  • Mormonism's God Was Once A Man:
          -"God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man... I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form...like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man...He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth." Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 305.
  • The God Of Mormonism Is Limited:
          -"The universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain him as such...if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or 'sense of justice' of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the 'power' of God would disintegrate - He would cease to be God." W. Cleon Skousen (Former BYU Professor & founder of Mormon-based National Center For Constitutional Studies), The First 2000 Years, p.355.
          -"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." Doctrine & Covenants 130:22
          -"If God possesses a form, that form is of necessity of definite proportions, and therefore of limited extension and space. It is impossible for Him to occupy at one time more than one space of such limits." James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 43.
  • In Mormonism Man May Become God:
          -"Here then is eternal life...to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you...To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of God." Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 306
  • In Mormonism God Has A Wife:
          -"In the heaven where our spirits were born, there are many Gods, each of whom has his own wife or wives, which were given to him...while yet in his mortal state." Orson Pratt (Apostle), The Seer, p.37.
          -"This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in all plainness by the First Presidency of the Church." Bruce R. McConkie (Apostle), Mormon Doctrine.
  • Mormonism Denies The Virgin Birth:
          -"Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers... Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father." Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 547, 742.
  • Mormonism's Jesus And Satan Are Brothers:
          -"The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer - this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind." Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15
  • Mormonism's Jesus Was Married:
          -"Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee - We say it was Jesus Christ who was married...whereby he could see his seed." Orson Hyde, Apostle, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 82.
  • Mormonism Denies The Authority of The Bible:
          -"Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors-many plain and precious things were deleted, in consequence of which error and falsehood poured into the churches. One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men." Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp.82, 83
  • Mormonism Says All Other Churches Are False:
          -"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; and those professors were all corrupt." Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:19.
          -"This Church is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." Doctrine and Covenants 1:30.
          -"There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Bruce McConkie, Mormon
Doctrine, p. 670.
          -"All other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives Baptism or the Lord's Supper from their hands will highly offend God; for He looks upon them as the most corrupt of all people. Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the whore of Babylon." Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255.
  • Mormonism Says Blacks Were Cursed:
          -"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness, he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel." Joseph Fielding Smith (Prophet), The Way to Perfection, p. 102.
          -"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind." Brigham Young (Prophet), Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 290.
          -"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard t the African race? If the white man...mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110.
  • Mormonism Has A Council Of Gods:
          -"The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world... In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people. it." Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 348, 349.
          -"The contention in heaven was...Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the Devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favour of Jesus Christ. So the Devil rose up in rebellion against God. and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him." Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 8
  • How Mormons View The Final Judgement And Resurrection:
          -"No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 289.
          -"If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by [Joseph Smith]; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him." President George Q. Cannon, quoted in 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142.
          -"If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and then they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them." Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 116.
          -"We are the only people that know how to save our progenitors, how to save ourselves, and how to save our posterity in the celestial kingdom of God; that we are the people God has chosen by whom to establish his kingdom and introduce correct principles into the world; and that we are in fact the saviors of the world..." John Taylor (Prophet), Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 163.
  • Mormonism Teaches A Gospel Message Of Faith And Works:
          -"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled." (2 Nephi 25:23-24)
          -"One cannot get into the kingdom of God upon the principle of faith alone, or repentance alone, or receiving the Holy Ghost alone. He will have to be baptized, go down in the water, and come up out of the water, and have hands laid upon him for the gift of the Holy Ghost. That is the procedure that was followed by the apostles of Christ. That is the procedure of the Church today. It is the only way." (Rudger Clawson, Conference Reports, October 1932, p.9)
          -"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ." (Moroni 10:32)
          -"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." (Articles of Faith 1:3)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Testimony Of A Former Buddhist

True, some Buddhists purport to believe in a god, or in a realm of higher beings called devas. Others pray to statues of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). But, as a whole, Buddhism is not a theistic religion. It has a law—the law of karma—but no lawgiver.

According to the Buddhist worldview, all beings accumulate karma based on their actions, and karmadictates their life circumstances. When a person dies, the karma accumulated in that lifetime (and all previous lives) determines his or her lot in the next life.

To many Buddhists, this means that a person born into a wealthy family has good karma, while someone who lives in a poor, disease-infested village would have accumulated negative karma.

Buddhists believe karma keeps one trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth (samsara), and the only way out is through enlightenment.

To become enlightened, one has to eliminate desire. Buddha taught that desire is the root of suffering; that it causes attachment, which leads to suffering, and in turn causes other beings to suffer. This produces negative karma. If one eliminates desire and stops causing suffering, one can become enlightened, as he had.

But, eventually, I began to question.

Who or what had set this law of karma in motion?

Who judged these beings’ actions and sentenced them to another life of pain?

Why were beings punished for actions they would be unable to remember?

Was desire always a bad thing? Wasn’t the desire for enlightenment still desire?

If so, how could one ever attain enlightenment?

So I strayed from the Buddhist path—the emptiness within me greater than before.

https://christiananswers.net/q-aiia/aiia-buddhism-harris.html

A Response To Catholic Nick On Imputation And 2 Corinthians 5:21

  • Discussion:
           -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Is imputation taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21?, which is an attempt to refute the standard "Protestant" interpretation of that text. We begin this critique with a quote from the author:

           "First, the text does not suggest we become righteousness in the same way Jesus becomes sin, i.e. by a double imputation, because Paul uses two different Greek words here, "made [sin]" and "become [righteousness]."

           Just because someone references Greek, does not mean that his or her argument is valid or convincing. Nick fails to explain why the two different words necessarily rule out imputation.

           If Roman Catholic infusion is correct, then should we conclude based on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ("Christ was made sin") that the essence of Jesus was corrupted? Was evil infused into Christ?

           "Second, the curious phrase "made sin for us" cannot be presumed to include Christ's perfect obedience to the Law, especially since the Protestant says this phrase refers specifically to having our sins imputed to Christ."

           What does it mean to say that Christ was made sin for us? Dr. Ron Rhodes has some pertinent observations here:

            "In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the phrase “on our behalf” (“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf ”) derives from the Greek term huper. This word can bear a number of nuances, not all of them substitutionary in nature. As professor Daniel Wallace has noted in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, however, there are a number of factors that argue in favor of a substitutionary use of the word in New Testament times. For example, the substitutionary sense of huper is found in extra-New Testament Greek literature (see, e.g., Plato, Republic 590a; Xenophon, Anabasis 7.4.9–10), the Septuagint (e.g., Deut. 24:16; Isa. 43:3–4), and in the papyri (e.g., Oxyrhyn chus Papyrus 1281.11–12; Tebtunis Papyrus 380.43–44).7 One papyri example relates to a scribe who wrote a document on behalf of a person who did not know how to write. In all, Wallace counts 87 examples from the papyri in which huper is used in a substitutionary sense, and this by no means exhausts the extant papyri data. Wallace thus concludes that “this evidence is over whelming in favor of treating huper as bearing a substitutionary force in the NT era.”8 The Friberg Greek Lexicon likewise affirms that the word is used “with a component of representation or substitution in the place of, for, in the name of, instead of.” Christ’s death, as the Lamb of God, was “for” (huper) us in the sense that it was on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21). The word is used in this same on-behalf-of sense elsewhere in Scripture. Jesus at the Last Supper said: “This is My body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19, emphasis added here and in the verses that follow). Likewise, in John 10:15 Jesus affirmed, “I lay down My life for the sheep.” Paul thus exults that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; see also Gal. 3:13; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9). Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us” (Titus 2:14), “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18; see also 2:21). The idea of substitution richly permeates these verses."

           "Third, the Bible never speaks of imputing sin from a sinner onto an innocent substitute, such that guilt is transferred from one person to another, so to say “made sin” refers to imputation has no Biblical basis whatsoever. Thus, Christ being “made sin” must be assumed to refer to something other than imputation."

           This point is invalidated because of the background of the Old Testament sacrificial system, which is all about the transfer of guilt. Look at Genesis 22, Leviticus 16, and Exodus 12. In all three instances, there is an innocent substitute provided. The lamb died in the place of a person, etc.

           The very idea of forgiveness (not counting people's trespasses against them) is legal in nature.

           "Fourth, the meaning of “made sin” need not only refer to Imputation or Infusion, for that’s a false dilemma fallacy. The Church Fathers shed valuable light on what “made sin” refers to."

           The meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is crystal clear. Jesus took our sin and gave to us His righteousness. We do not deserve His righteousness, anymore than He deserved to bear our punishment. That is the legal, binding transaction which takes place in the "court" of God. He has voluntarily paid an infinite sin debt on our behalf because of His love for us. He saved us because He is gracious. He is our sin offering.

           "Fifth, the context clearly explains the goal of God the Father sending His Son was to bring about our reconciliation, thus undermining the whole presumed forensic-imputation theme Protestants project onto verse 21."

           Why would a context speaking of reconciliation with God be inconsistent with a forensic-imputation theme? If we are to be reconciled with God, then it requires that the questions of sin, righteousness, and judgement be addressed. The text of 2 Corinthians 5:21 specifically addresses how man can be reconciled to God.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Does The Roman Catholic Church Have A Deficient View On The Sinfulness Of Man?

  • Discussion:
          -Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?, providing evangelistic tips for other Catholics to use in dialogues with non-Catholics on the subject of Sola Fide ("faith alone"). This critique begins with a quote from the author:

          "First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place."

          The Law of God requires perfect obedience. If sin did not exist, then there would be no need for God to show forgiveness, as there would be no spiritual corruption in the first place. There would be no need to speak of "getting saved," as everything would already be functioning in a perfect order. But the fall of man has brought about sin and thus condemnation. God has voluntarily paid an infinite sin debt on our behalf because of His love for us. He saved us because He is gracious. The idea that a man can be saved by keeping the Law (assuming he even has the ability to) would be true only in a hypothetical sense.

          "This is completely contrary to the Catholic understanding of salvation, in which man can only be saved by faith and grace, never by his own works no matter how good those works are."

          The fact that Catholics are required to obtain and maintain their justification on the basis of good works proves that it is indeed works-based. The concepts of purgatory and the treasury of merit further render the claims of the author unconvincing. In Roman Catholic theology, God gives grace through baptism so that man can perform good works to merit more grace.

          "Without going into detail on each of these passages [Romans 4:1-3, Galatians 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:4-7, and Titus 3:4-5], notice that in the 'plain reading' of these texts, there is no mention of the works in question being 'tainted by sin'. In fact, such a reading would make these texts nonsensical. The only reason given for why works don't save is to prevent boasting. That's it."

          The texts that Nick mentions are quite straightforward, in that they say we are not saved by works of righteousness. We are saved because God is loving and merciful. He is literally reaching out to helpless mankind because of His love. The contexts of each passage that Nick lists makes mention of our problem of sin. We are not deserving of His salvation.

          The Bible tells us that the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness (Romans 1:18). We have all sinned against Him. We all have a stained record. Therefore, we have all incurred His wrath and judgement. But Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice to appease that wrath. He is our propitiation (Romans 3:24-25). Christ is our advocate before God the Righteous Judge (1 John 2:1-2). The Law is what makes us conscious of sin (Romans 7:7). It condemns us. Christ obeyed the Law perfectly in our place (Romans 8:1-4). He took our punishment. We have redemption through Christ's blood (Ephesians 1:7-8). We are purified by placing our trust in His work. He is our reconciliation. His grace is unmerited.

          "Now it is true that the "works" Paul has in mind are "Works of the [Mosaic] Law," which are the 613 individual Commandments found in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), centered around the Ten Commandments. But even this doesn't change anything, because keeping the Law never did save."

          We can agree with the author that nobody was saved by keeping the Law. Justification has never been by works. Nonetheless, the contexts of Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 nowhere limit "works" as exclusively referring to the Mosaic Law. That is not what the Apostle Paul said.

          "And it is true that all men come into this world dead in sin and separated from God, but even that's not the point behind Paul's repeated 'works don't save' statements."

          It would be proper to allow the reader to decide who has a more reasonable interpretation of Scripture by citing one of those "not by works" passages that the author alludes to in context:

          "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)

          If the "works" spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-9 are a reference to the works of the Mosaic Law, then why not interpret Ephesians 2:10 in the same fashion (created in Christ Jesus for good works of the Mosaic Law)?

          "Protestants think you are worthy of Eternal Life upon being Justified, but that's not what Paul teaches. In reality, Justification and being Judged worthy of Eternal Life happen at two different times in a person's life - and to confuse the two events and turn them into one event the way Protestants do is a huge mistake."

          So, a person who is justified in the sight of God is not necessarily entitled to heaven? That statement is ridiculous, as well is it illogical. If an individual is converted to Christianity and one day later just so happens to die in a vehicle accident, then would he or she not be allowed into the kingdom of God at that point? Was that person not saved? Is that person automatically going to hell for potentially not getting a chance to greet a neighbor or feed the poor?

A Response To Catholic Nick On Colossians 2:14

  • Discussion:
          -Catholic Nick wrote an article in which he parallels Colossians 2 with Ephesians 2 and argues against a "Protestant" understanding of Colossians 2:14. Following are excerpts from the author along with a critique of specific claims:

          "Given the above, it is pretty obvious that "canceling the certificate of debt with its legal demands" means essentially the same thing as "abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances". That is, the Mosaic Law was canceled, abolished, fulfilled, etc, (all terms the NT uses) through Christ's death on the Cross. This is an undeniable theme throughout the NT (e.g. Acts 13:38-39)."

          First of all, it is not enough to say, “Look at those two passages. They are parallel. Therefore, they are saying the same thing.” Ephesians 2 contains an element that the Colossians passage does not have. Paul is working to unite Jews and Gentiles. That is the whole point of Ephesians 2:15. That portion of it is missing from the Colossians passage.

          The author fails to understand Colossians 2:14 in its immediate context, which is most certainly speaking about our debt of sin. Christ suffered the penalty for sin on our behalf on the cross. He cancelled out our sentence of death when He made atonement. We are no longer under condemnation for that reason. Nick is correct in saying that the Jews and Gentiles were separated, but denies what is taught in terms of our justification in this passage. Moreover, the metal nails and the wooden cross are vividly representative of Christ's propitiatory work.

           Nick is correct when he says that the phrase ("certificate of debt with its legal demands") can be understood as "blotting out the handwriting." However, it is best that words be translated in their respective contexts. This is true especially with phrases that are not used very often. Colossians 2:14 in no uncertain terms addresses justification before God in terms of our sin. Most words have a semantic range of possible meanings.

          "I would say appealing to Colossians 2 is terrible for Protestants for a few reasons. My favorite reason is that the reference to "being dead in trespasses but made alive" (Col 2:13; Eph 2:5) is speaking of inward transformation. This passage is clearly talking about Justification, which Protestants say is purely legal in nature and by Imputation, yet Paul says it is about being made spiritually alive."

          Contrary to the claims of the author, justification being legal in nature (the process of Christ taking our place in order to pay our debt) does not exclude regeneration of the heart. In other words, the concept of inward renewal is not incompatible with a forensic justification framework. The two are not mutually exclusive. Justification is never separated from the work of the Holy Spirit to make us holy. We would only seek to maintain that specifically the declaration of us being righteous (justification) is not based on our good works. We are made alive in Christ by faith, as Ephesians 2:5 says. Nick assumes that texts which speak of internal transformation are about justification, but they are associated with other aspects of salvation such as regeneration.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Does Exodus 32:30-32 Support The Treasury Of Merit?

"...First, note that there is no mention of-not even a slight allusion to-any treasure of merit to which someone can contribute and from which other people can draw. All this passage does is portray Moses as being willing to engage in great sacrifice on behalf of his people.

Here is the backdrop: Though the most blatant idolaters in the nation had already been put to death by the sword for their sin of idolatry with the golden calf, Moses knew that the nation as a whole was still guilty before God. The fact is, God had made a covenant with the nation as a whole, and the nation as a whole now bore collective guilt for this breach of the covenant (see Joshua 7).

Moses, therefore, wanted to make things right by seeking to make atonement (literally, "cover" the sin) for the people (Exodus 32:20). Moses seems to have assumed that the penalty for their sin would be death, as is often threatened in the law (28:43). Moses informed God that if He did not forgive forgive the people (removing the death penalty), he wanted to have his name removed from the book God had written (32:22).

......it is clear from this passage that God rejected Moses's offer and promised to punish the sinners themselves by premature death (Exodus 32:33,34). This indicates that no human being can atone for the sins of another. The prophets often spoke of individual responsibility for sins (Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Ezekiel 18; 33:10-20)....

Clearly, then, this passage provides no support for any so-called "treasury of merit" from which those in need can draw by indulgences. Such an idea is completely foreign to the context."

Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 160-162

Friday, January 18, 2019

Certainty And Knowledge In A Postmodern World

“If true human knowing depends on perfect, exhaustive knowing, we are consigned forever to ignorance because, whether in this life or the life to come, we will never be omniscient. . . . But that immediately suggests that the standard is too high. If you expose the relativity of human knowledge by appealing to a standard of omniscience, it’s an artificial standard. In fact, the first question I want to ask my postmodernist friends is, ‘How do you know that postmodern relativism is true?'”

Don Carson, "Can We Be Sure of Our Interpretation?," The Gospel Coalition, 12/28/18

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Is Paul's Letter To The Laodiceans A Lost Book?

        "When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea." (Colossians 4:16)

        Liberal critics of the New Testament sometimes make reference to this text from Colossians in their attempts to prove that books of the Bible have been lost. If the canon of Scripture is incomplete, then what happens to the doctrine of inerrancy? What can be said regarding the Apostle Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans? Skeptics have brought up a letter which bears that name.

        This nineteen-verse letter is essentially a collection of short excerpts from the canonical Pauline writings. It does not contain any new teachings. It does not contain any new commandments from God. It does not contradict anything found in the New Testament. It does not negatively impact Scripture. The writing style is by no means exceptional. In short, this letter is completely harmless. It does not alter the message of God.

        Most scholars believe that this Letter to the Laodiceans was originally written in Latin during the fourth century. It is generally regarded as a forgery. The textual basis for it is poor. No existing Greek copies of the New Testament contain it. The church father Jerome made mention of this letter and considered it to be a counterfeit document. It was never widely thought of as inspired Scripture. As to why this letter was written, all that we can really do is speculate. 

        It does not qualify as a lost book of the Bible. But what about the circulated letter that Paul spoke of in Colossians 4:16? Some have identified it to be either Ephesians or Philemon, which is a reasonable solution. Whatever the case, we can rest assured that God has given to us everything He intended us to have. Even if we do not have Paul's circulated letter, it does not follow that there are books missing from the canon of Scripture. The doctrine of inerrancy does not require us to have in our possession every written text by an apostle or prophet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Catholic Apologists And The Greek Word Trogo (“Eat My Flesh” John 6)

"Catholic Apologists and the Greek Word Trogo (“Eat my flesh” John 6)“Catholic Answers” says the following about the Greek word trogo :”The Greek word used for “eats” trogon is very blunt and has the sense of “chewing” or “gnawing. This is not language of metaphor. Bob Sungenis says “There is simply no logical reason to switch form the more generic phago (eat) to the more praphic trogo (chew). Apparently, Rome's apologists believe the word “chew” cannot be the language of metaphor because it is simply too graphic or vivid to be anything other than the literal truth. Not so the more mundane “eat,” which as Sugnenis points out, can be used metaphorically. Keating himself simply asserts—without proof—that such is “not the language of metaphor.” But why not? Is there something intrinsically literal about the word “chew” in English or in Greek? If you think it through, virtually any word in any language can be used metaphorically no matter how graphic or vivid it may be. In fact, the more vivid and evocative the word, the more it lends itself to being used as a metaphor. Apparently they don’t know well what a metaphor is. Metaphor: “A picture is a thousand words”. In a metaphor real objects or physical events represent something else. A metaphor is a colorful expression used for literary effect which may be a word or phrase that departs from literal language. The purpose of metaphors is: add color and vividness, attract attention and make abstract or intellectual ideas more concrete. All things being equal, one could just as easily make the case that Jesus chose the more vivid “chew” precisely because it was more conducive to metaphor. “Chew” may simply be a more graphic metaphor than “eat.” Some say contextual rather than non-contextual usage is the primary criterion for determining whether or not trogo is metaphorical in John 6."

Original source of citation unknown

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Is Wisdom 2:12-20 A Messianic Prophecy?

  • Discussion:
           -Roman Catholic apologists, in their zeal to defend the veracity of the Apocrypha, will sometimes make the following claim in regards to the Book of Wisdom:

         "Wisdom 2:12-20 is one of the clearest passages that point to a person who would call himself Son of God, who would be put to death by jealous people."

           Then, the author of the quoted excerpt goes on to parallel that text from the Book of Wisdom with various passages from the four gospels. This was done in an effort to prove that the seven additional books that the Roman Catholic Church has included in its version of the Old Testament canon are of divine origin. What the Catholic apologist claims seems to be fairly reasonable on a superficial level, but the presented information nonetheless falls far short of proof when the text is examined in context.

           The context was originally about the wicked, the persecution of the righteous, and the vindication of God’s children. This pious literature is similar to the Book of Proverbs. Christ in an ultimate sense fulfills the themes of Wisdom 2:12-20 because He is the ultimate righteous man who suffers and is vindicated. He did that on our behalf on the Cross. He rose bodily from the grave.

          However, Wisdom 2:12-20 was not written originally as a prophecy. The same themes can apply to anyone else who faithfully serves God. This is distinguished from a passage such as Isaiah 53 in that it points out a Servant who suffers on behalf of His people. Wisdom 2 is talking about a "righteous man," not Christ Himself. To take similarities and claim prophecy in this case is pure eisegesis.

          Even granting the premise that Wisdom 2:12-20 speaks of the coming Jewish Messiah, that does not require us to accept it as inspired or canonical. The statements could easily have been gleaned from the canonical books of the Old Testament. In fact, the Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote on this passage:

          "[2:12–5:23] From 2:12 to 5:23 the author draws heavily on Is 52–62, setting forth his teaching in a series of characters or types taken from Isaiah and embellished with additional details from other texts."

           There were many pieces of Jewish literature at this point in history that spoke of the coming Messiah in light of the Old Testament. Roman Catholics would reject many of those as canonical. Consider, for example, the book of 1 Enoch. This work was even cited as Scripture by some of the early church fathers, yet Roman Catholics do not accept it as canonical Scripture.

            The author of Wisdom was obviously well-acquainted with the Old Testament, but that factor does not in and of itself prove the book to be inspired. The authors of the New Testament never treated Wisdom 2:12-20 as if it were a messianic prophecy, which would be ironic. Bruce M. Metzger writes,

            "Whether the author here has in mind some contemporary Jewish martyrdom known to him, or whether he drew upon the stories in the Books of Maccabees for a generalized description of suffering for the Jewish faith, cannot be determined. He may also have been influenced by Glaucon's description in Plato's Republic of the binding, scourging, and crucifixion of the perfectly just man who is esteemed to be unjust. In both cases the parallel to Christ is more apparent than real."  (Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 76)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Toxic Masculinity?

"We take a young man and kick his father out of his life, send him to school where he has mostly women teachers, barrage him with negative messages about masculinity, then turn him loose at college where we treat him like a guilty-until-proven-innocent rapist, and after all that, we blame "masculinity" when he goes off the rails despite the fact that he spent a lifetime bathed in femininity. Unsurprisingly, the more women try to change masculinity, the more negative and toxic it actually becomes."

John Hawkins, “The More Young Men Are Bathed in Femininity, the More 'Toxic Masculinity' You Will See

Sunday, January 13, 2019

If We Truly Love God, Then We Will Also Love Our Neighbors As Ourselves

          "If anyone says, 'I love God', but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:20-21)
 
          We cannot claim to love God while possessing contempt and ill will in our hearts for other people. It is not possible for us to obey Him while holding animosity toward other people. We have even been admonished by the Apostle Paul to not let the sun set on our anger. Remaining in such a spiritual condition can have ominous consequences (Ephesians 4:26). Jesus Christ Himself associated hatred with murder (Matthew 5:22-26).

          Hatred is incompatible with the self-sacrificial love demonstrated by Jesus Christ in making atonement for our sins. It is out of touch with Christian charity in entirety. Thus, people who claim to be serving God faithfully who at the same time are constantly holding resentment for or bearing ill will for others in their hearts are liars. They are not acting according to God's revealed will for us. They are not acting consistently with their profession of faith.

          Love of God and love of neighbor fulfills the Law. Love of God and love of neighbor is the foundation for morality. We cannot grow in our relationship with Him if we do not love our neighbors. We are called to hate that which is evil. If we do not love other people as we love ourselves (that is the natural disposition of man in regard to himself), then we do not really understand what love is. If we do not love others, then we cannot have fellowship with God because He is love. Hatred is destructive to who we are as people.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Romans 10:9 Proves Jesus Is God Almighty

          "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)

          The Greek term kurious (in English it means "lord") does not always refer to deity. It is used in reference to God, but can certainly be used as a formal way in addressing a person. Context determines the meaning of words. In the case of Romans 10:9-10, Paul calls Jesus Christ God.

          The reference to confession found in verse nine alludes to Deuteronomy 30:14. Confession with the mouth signifies openly acknowledging our allegiance to Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and our Savior. The fullness of our being rightfully belongs to Him. Christ is the second Person of the Triune God. The outward expression "Jesus is Lord" is a parallel to the Jewish Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Roman Catholic New American Bible has this excerpt on Romans 10:9-11:

          "To confess Jesus as Lord was frequently quite hazardous in the first century (cf. Mt 10:18; 1 Thes 2:2; 1 Pt 2:18–21; 3:14). For a Jew it could mean disruption of normal familial and other social relationships, including great economic sacrifice. In the face of penalties imposed by the secular world, Christians are assured that no one who believes in Jesus will be put to shame (Rom 10:11)."

          Christians who resided in Rome were at higher risk of persecution as citizens were expected to confess Caesar as Lord. The divinity of Jesus Christ was a direct challenge to the lordship of the Roman emperor. So understanding the historical context in which Paul was writing sheds more light on how Romans 10:9 points to Jesus being God. 

          Moreover, Romans 10:13 is a quotation of Joel 2:32, which proves that Jesus is Lord in the same sense as the Father is Lord. Christ is called Yahweh in verse nine.

          Why does Paul say that God raised Christ from the dead? Jesus is God incarnate. He took on human flesh. He is both fully human and fully divine. He exercised both human and divine attributes throughout His earthly ministry. Christ was crucified for our transgressions. His divine essence is not what passed away. Rather, a divine Person in His human flesh died. He did not set aside His divinity by taking on human flesh. The Father raised Christ from the grave (Acts 2:32; Galatians 1:1). The Son raised Himself from the grave (John 2:19; 10:17-18). The Holy Spirit raised Him from the grave (Romans 8:11). All three Persons of the Trinity brought about the resurrection.

Is The Multiverse Theory Reasonable?

"A true scientific explanation, says Davies, is like a single well-aimed bullet. The idea of a multiverse replaces the rationally minded ordered real world with an infinitely complex charade and makes the whole idea of "explanation" meaningless. Swinburne is just as strong in his disdain for the multiverse explanation: "It is crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job."

Antony Flew, There Is a God, pg. 119

Friday, January 11, 2019

Evidence For Intelligent Design Found Throughout Nature

"The important point is not merely that there are regularities in nature, but that these regularities are mathematically precise, universal, and "tied together." Einstein spoke of them as "reason incarnate."... This is certainly the question that scientists from Newton to Einstein have asked-and answered. Their answer was the Mind of God." (p. 96)

"...the laws of nature seem to be crafted so as to move the universe toward the emergence and sustenance of life." (p. 114)

"How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-reproduction capabilities, and coded chemistry?" (p.124)

"Over the centuries, thinkers who have considered the concept of "nothing" have been careful to emphasize that "nothing" is not a kind of "something." Absolute nothingness means no laws, no vacuums, no structures, no physical or mental entities of any kind-and no "symmetries." It has no properties or potentialities. Absolute nothingness cannot produce something given endless time-in fact, there can be no time in absolute nothingness." (p. 170)

Antony Flew, There Is a God

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Suggesting That Life Arose By Blind Chance Is Absurd

"Schroeder first referred to an experiment conducted by the British National Council of Arts. A computer was placed in a cage with six monkeys. After one month of hammering away at it (as well as using it as a bathroom!), the monkeys produced fifty typed pages-but not a single word. Schroeder noted that this was the case even though the smallest word in the English language is one letter (a or I). A is a word only if there is a space on either side of it. If we take it that the keyboard has thirty characters (the twenty-six letters and other symbols), then the likelihood of getting a one-lettered word is 30 times 30 times 30, which is 27,000. The likelihood of a getting a one-letter word is one chance out of 27,000.

Schroeder then applied the probabilities to the sonnet analogy. "What's the chance of getting a Shakespearean sonnet?" he asked. He continued:

All the sonnets are the same length. They're by definition fourteen lines long. I picked the one I knew the opening line for, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" I counted the number of letters; there are 488 letters in the sonnet. What's the likelihood of hammering away and getting 488 letters in exact sequence as in "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? What you end up with is 26 multiplied by itself 488 times - or 26 to the 488th power. Or, in other words, in base 10, 10 to the 690th.

Now the number of particles in the universe - not grains of sand, I'm talking about protons, electrons, and neutrons - is 10 to the 80th . Ten to the 80th is 1 with 80 zeros after it. Ten to 690th is 1 with 690 zeros after it. There are not enough particles in the universe to write down the trials; you'd be off by a factor of 10 to the 690th.

If you took the entire universe and converted it to computer chips - forget the monkeys - each one weighing a millionth of a gram and had each computer chip able to spin out 288 trials at, say, a million times a second; if you turn the entire universe into these microcomputer chips and these chips were spinning a million times a second (producing) random letters, the number of trials you would get since the beginning of time would be 10 to the 90th trials. It would be off again by a factor of 10 to the 600th. You will never get a sonnet by chance. The universe would have to be 10 to the 600th time larger. Yet the world just thinks monkeys can do it every time."

Antony Flew, There Is a God, pg. 76-77

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Pope Gelasius And Transubstantiation

Was transubstantiation generally believed in the early church? It is interesting to read what Pope Gelasius (492-496 AD) had to say about this matter. But first let’s define the meaning of the doctrine.

Transubstantiation (from Latin trans- across, and substantia substance) is the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration, only the appearance of bread and wine still remaining. “Substance" means what something is in itself.

The Council of Trent states: “If anyone says that in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, session 13, canon 2).

Thus, the Catholic Church teaches that at consecration the bread and wine no longer remain; they become truly, really and substantially the body and blood of Christ even though the appearance (or “accidents”) remains unchanged. We continue to see bread and wine though they are no longer bread and wine; what we perceive and taste as bread and wine are in fact the body and blood of Jesus.

Now let’s see what Pope Gelasius taught. In a treatise De Duabus Naturis against Eutyches and Nestorius (who taught that in the incarnation the human nature of Christ was absorbed in the divine nature), Gelasius wrote:

“The sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, which we receive, is a divine thing, because by it we are made partakers of the divine nature. Yet the substance or nature of the bread and wine does not cease. And assuredly the image and the similitude of the body and blood of Christ are celebrated in the performance of the mysteries.”

Gelasius taught that the sacramental bread and wine are the “image and the similitude” of the body and blood of Christ; the “substance or nature” of the bread and wine remain unchanged – “it does not cease”. Bread remains bread; wine remains wine. Clearly, Pope Gelasius contradicted the idea of transubstantiation.

How do Catholic apologists react to this? One Catholic writer argues that “Pope Gelasius was simply saying that the appearance [accidents] of bread/wine remain alongside the Real Presence in an attempt to explain the mystery of the Incarnation, since Christ humanity remains alongside His divinity. Some scholars interpret the above passage to refer to the accidents of the bread and wine.” (Kenneth Henderson)

Did Pope Gelasius really mean “appearance” when he wrote about “substance” and “nature”? Was the pope ignorant of the meaning of the very terms used in the Nicene Creed (325AD) and the Definition of Chalcedon (451AD) to describe who Jesus actually is?

There is a very simple reason why Gelasius did not mean “appearance”. Remember he is using the Eucharist as an analogy for the Incarnation, namely that “Christ’s humanity remains alongside His divinity.” Now if by “substance or nature” he meant that only the appearance of bread and wine remains, it follows that Christ merely appeared human but in fact he was not! That is the very heresy he was refuting!

No, rather, Gelasius rightly believed that the distinction of divine and human natures of Christ are “in no way annulled by the union” (Council of Chalcedon). Jesus is truly God and truly man! The Eucharist illustrates this great truth, for, just as the substance of the bread and wine remains unchanged, so the human nature of Christ remained unchanged despite its union with divinity.

Pope Gelasius did not try to prove that the bread and wine remain unchanged. He could take it for granted that his readers at the close of the fifth century believed that the substance of the eucharistic elements do not cease. The novel idea of transubstantiation was developed and adopted much later in the history of the Catholic church.

© Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi | Duplication and free distribution is encouraged | www.justforcatholics.org

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Evolution Of Charismatic "Tongues Speaking"

"...Every biblical example of angelic encounters with humans of any nationality shows the angel speaking in speaking in the language of of the person/people he was sent to (cf. Gen. 16:9; 22:11; Num. 22:32; Judg. 13:3). Revelation 14:6 speaks of an angel flying in the mid-heavens proclaiming the everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred, and tongue. The only tangential referent is found in the pseudepigraphic book titled "Testament of Job" which mentions Job's three daughters chanting in the "dialect of cherubim."29 Some date this book around the time of the writing of First Corinthians and Paul never gives credence to this novel writing and in fact warns against getting caught up in Jewish fables in Titus 1:14. For anyone to claim that they speak with the "tongues of angels" is simply without any biblical support and must be regarded as spurious. Naturally, this brings into question the alleged ability to translate an angelic tongue. How would anyone know if the translation is correct? We have no angelic lexicons, grammars, or dictionaries. For someone to claim they have the supernatural gift to translate angelic tongues is equally spurious.

Furthermore, the manifestation not only changed from an unknown language to an angelic language but the reason for the gift changed. Initially, Pentecostalism saw the restoration of this gift as a means to evangelize the world supernaturally and quickly. Due to the various well-publicized failures on the missionary field, the manifestation shifted from missionary work to the individual's personal prayer life. After WWII America experienced a "Healing Revival" with various Pentecostal tent-revivalists.30 This revival marks the explosion of Pentecostal practices (primarily tongues, prophecy, healing, and deliverance from demons) into non-Pentecostal denominations referred to as the "Charismatic Renewal" movement.31

The use of the gift changed from a supernatural missionary tool into a private (me and Jesus) language. It changed from being seen as a missionary gift for ministers to something that all believers can posses and should practice. Tongues went from having to be translated in public ministry today where entire groups of people all speak in tongues at the same time with no translation expected.

The only "restoration" of these gifts back into the Church is through outright heretical teachers (Montanus and his disciples) and later questionable fringe sects (Camisards, Shaking Quakers, Holiness groups) or other non-Christian cult groups.37 The Shakers were America's first non-Christian Pentecostals and since their advent other non-Christian Bible-based cults practice speaking in tongues as part of their piety including the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Unification Church of the Holy Spirit (Moonies), the Way International, snake handling groups to cite a few."

Rev. R. Liichow, Comparing and Contrasting the Various Concepts of "Tongues" Historically, p. 8-10

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Fatal Flaw Of The Charismatic Movement And Speaking In Tongues

  • Discussion:
          - Consider this excerpt from a pamphlet titled "Comparing and Contrasting the Various Concepts of "Tongues" Historically" by Rev. R. Liichow, page 2:

         "The ability to manifest ecstatic speech is not limited to the Christian Church or even the early church. Anthropologists have found many examples of religious groups who practice "tongues". The East Greenland Eskimo use a spirit language through their shamans. The Quillacinga and Pasto Indians also express "unintelligible words" in their services.5 We have possibly the earliest account of ecstatic speech approximately 1,100 years before the Day of Pentecost in Egypt.6 Dr. Wayne House has shown a historical practice of speaking in tongues in Phrygia by followers of the Cybele-Attis cult as well as the cult of Apollo prior to the birth of the church.7 Biblical scholar Gerald Hovenden demonstrates that "the existence of glossolalia in pagan world in ancient time itself cannot be denied."8 He shows that glossolalia phenomenon appeared prior to the New Testament period in the Mari Document (around 2000-1500 BCE), Wen Amon (1100 BCE), the Homeric to Delian Apollo (700 BCE), Cassandra, and etc."

          The speaking in tongues that we are witnessing today in the Charismatic Movement is not from God. The tongues spoken of in the New Testament were simply human languages that the speaker acquired by supernatural means. They were actually intelligible or understandable to other people. To attribute the human experiences oftentimes found within the Charismatic Movement to the Holy Spirit is nothing short of blasphemy. 

           The various sign gifts utilized by the church in the first century were to be used in serving God, not self-gratification. Speaking in tongues was a sign for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). We no longer need sign gifts because we now have the New Testament. The gospel has sufficient power to bring about the conversion of souls (John 20:30-31; Romans 1:16).

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Socialism Has Never Worked

"Contrary to popular belief, communism and socialism are virtually identical. Karl Marx defined socialism as abolishing private property with everything owned by an all powerful state on behalf of the people. Sounds very similar to communism, right?

While proponents claim that socialism is for the better of the people, they overlook a major obstacle. A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also strong enough to take away everything you have. A government that is this powerful rarely stays that generous.

Socialism works against human nature and personal motivation. History tells the devastating results of socialism combined with unchanging human nature. The rich become poor and the poor become poorer. Don't fall for the lies that say otherwise. Help protect our freedoms and a system that rewards good works."

Mathew Staver