Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Orthodoxy And Orthopraxy

"One’s theology will inevitably affect Christian living. Right worship and right service flow from right thoughts about God. One whose theology is impoverished or distorted will be hindered in his relationship with, service to, and worship of the Living God."

James K.A. Smith, “Theological Preaching: ‘Congregation Repellent?’” The Emmaus Journal, Vol.2/No.3, pg.196

Monday, January 28, 2019

How Can You Trust Christianity Is True If You Haven’t Examined All the Alternatives?


...One of the most common questions asked in the Q and A is something similar to: “Have you taken the time to apply the same approach with all the other religious worldviews?” Sometimes people ask this question because they are curious about how well other ancient religious claims (or alleged eyewitness accounts) hold up under investigative scrutiny. But many times this question is followed by a more pointed objection: “How can you trust Christianity is true if you haven’t examined all the alternatives?”

[...]

In every criminal trial, the investigators and prosecutors are obligated to present the evidence related to one defendant. While the burden of proof lies with the prosecutorial team, the prosecution is not required to have examined every possible alternative suspect. If I am investigating a case in which the suspect was initially described as a white male, 25 to 35 years of age with brown hair, the potential suspect pool in Los Angeles County would be quite large; there may be hundreds of thousands fitting this description. As I make the affirmative case related to one of the men in this large group, I’m under no obligation to make the case against the others. In fact, when the jury evaluates the case and decides whether the defendant is guilty, they will do so without any consideration of the alternatives. If the evidence is strong enough to reasonably infer the defendant’s involvement, the jury will make a confident decision, even though many, many alternatives were left unexamined.

The case for Christianity is made in a similar way. While it may be helpful to examine a particular alternative worldview on occasion to show its inadequacies or errors, these deficiencies fail to establish Christianity as factual. How can you trust Christianity is true if you haven’t examined all the alternatives? The case for the Christian worldview must first be made affirmatively even if no other claim is examined negatively. If there’s enough evidence to reasonably infer Christianity is true, we needn’t look any further. The affirmative case will either stand or fall on its own merit, even if we’re unable to examine any other “suspect”.

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

Comments On Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code"

As a work of fiction in the suspense genre, The Da Vinci Code is a good read. It is an exciting, edge-of-your-seat kind of story-well-written and riveting. The problem with it is that Brown apparently believes that the book's view of Jesus is factual. This is not just a novel; it is New Age propaganda. Other reviewers and critics have already pointed out that the book contains numerous errors regarding the history of the early church, as well as wild and unsupported speculations about the life of Jesus and his relationship to Mary Magdalene....I will point out what I take to be the central flaw in the book's thesis.

That flaw is that Brown's view of Jesus is based on two indefensible assumptions. First, Brown assumes that the early church never thought of Jesus as divine. As noted above, Brown believes that Jesus' divinity was never seriously asserted until A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea (the council that produced the famous Nicene Creed). This, of course, is demonstrably false. Paul's letters were written between A.D. 49-65, and are filled with references to the deity of Christ, a doctrine obviously believed by him and his readers (cf. Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:6-11). Also, John's gospel, written no later than A.D. 95, emphatically declares, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Even Matthew, Mark, and Luke, arguably first-century works, strongly underscore the divinity of Jesus. Moreover, Pliny the Younger, the early-second century philosopher, notes that Jesus' disciples revered him as "a god." Belief in the deity of Christ, therefore, can be found in the earliest available sources, long before the Council of Nicea.

Second, Brown falsely assumes that the New Testament Gospels are late and unreliable as historical sources. Like the infamous Jesus Seminar, he chooses to place greater trust in certain Gnostic works like the Gospel of Thomas. However, as noted above, the New Testament Gospels are early sources. It can be demonstrated with high confidence that Matthew, Mark, and Luke pre-date Paul's martyrdom in A.D. 65. Notice, for example, that the book of Acts ends with Paul still awaiting his trial before Caesar which place c. A.D. 62. This suggests that Acts was written before the trial. And this means that Luke's Gospel had to have been written about the same time as Luke. And since Matthew and Luke likely borrowed material from Mark, it is virtually certain that Mark was written in the early A.D. 50s. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas was written no earlier than A.D. 150. The claim that it contains more accurate historical data about Jesus than the biblical Gospels is ludicrous.

Steven B. Cowan's short review of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code can be found in the July-August 2004 edition of the Areopagus Journal (published by the Apologetics Resource Center)

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Dangers Of Yoga

"He [Shri Yogi Hari] answered, "It is the teacher's responsibility to make students understand that yoga is a highly spiritual practice. The reason it is a spiritual practice is because you are a spirit....the soul, the Atman functioning through these bodies. We are teaching yoga so that you will experience your Higher Self. If you want to have good health, if you want to experience happiness, you can only experience that when you touch who you are, the Self...then they can see that Yoga is not just a physical thing.13" (p. 3)

"As one yoga leader said, "Yoga without a spiritual component is just exercise." (p. 3)

Above excerpts taken from Craig Branch’s article, “Veritas: Stretching the Truth?”

"...yoga is historically a religious philosophy and spiritual practice. Accordingly, Robert E. Van Voorst defines yoga as "a physical discipline to promote knowledge that the individual soul and world are one."2 (p. 5)

"It is difficult to separate any yoga practice from its Hindu roots. It can be said that there is no Hinduism without yoga and no yoga without Hinduism." (p. 5)

"Christian Indian citizen and philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi, however, explains that "Yoga was never meant to be a fitness regime. In Indian philosophy yoga is a means to salvation or liberation (moksha). The original philosophy behind yoga defined liberation as the soul's isolation from the body. Obtaining 'out-of-body' experience is still the goal of some popular forms of yoga."3 (p. 5)

Above excerpts taken from Clete Hux’s article, “What Is Yoga?

"[Citing Yoga-Yajnavadka] "Yoga is the union of the individual psyche with the transcendental Self." (p. 9)

"...the basic assumptions of Yoga makes about the nature of God are completely foreign and incompatible with the Christian belief system. The god of Yoga is spoken of as the Absolute, Higher Self, Ultimate, Divine Consciousness and a host of other titles that speak of an impersonal, pantheistic deity that is in all things, through transcendent beyond them." (p. 9)

"In Yoga, as in Hinduism, the great need of man is to rid himself from karma, the cumulative effect of the good and bad things done in a person's life that are taken with him to the next life when the soul transmigrates into another body." (p. 10)

"The pantheistic view that god is in everything makes it impossible to state that humans have any more inherent value than slugs or mosquitoes." (p. 11)

"The combination of pranayama and asana is intended to include the practitioner is intended to induce the practitioner into an occultic and altered state of consciousness. The practice of breathing technique is an integral part of all Eastern meditative systems." (p. 12)

"An extensive German study on the effects of meditation found negative side effects among 70% of the participants.23...In biblical meditation the mind is active. It is not an inward focus that includes the emptying of the mind." (p. 12)

Above excerpts taken from Keith Gibson’s article, “It Isn’t Just Exercise: The Religious Nature of Yoga.”

All the above excerpts can be found in the July-August 2004 edition of the Areopagus Journal (published by the Apologetics Resource Center)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cohabitation Is More Stressful Than Marriage

"According to multiple studies, cohabitation is considered more stressful than getting married. Only about half of those who start out living together outside of wedlock EVER get married. Those who do, are at a substantially higher risk for divorce than those who don’t live together before marriage — most divorcing within just seven years. Co-habiting couples are also more likely to experience infidelity in their relationship, and the QUALITY of their relationship is of a poorer quality: more fighting, more violence, and less overall happiness. Studies also show co-habiting couples have higher levels of depression and substance abuse, and also earn less money."

Rob Pue, The Weed of Porn Bears Bitter Fruit

Once For All

A fundamental difference that separates Roman Catholicism form biblical Christianity is their respective views on the sacrifice of Christ. Christians believe that His sacrifice is complete and finished; whereas Catholicism takes the view that it is carried on, perpetuated, renewed and re-presented during the mass.

The Bible gives indisputable evidence that Christ's sacrifice is finished and its purpose has been achieved. For example, the author of Hebrews contrasts the work of Jesus with that of the Old Testament priests, who had to keep offering animal sacrifices time and again because they could never take away sin. Jesus is superior for, “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12b).

Let's ask two simple questions:

       1. Is Christ presently entering the holy place repeatedly, or has he entered once with his own blood?

       2. Is Christ at present in the process of obtaining redemption, or has he already obtained redemption?

The answers are straightforward. Jesus ‘entered in once’; a non-continuous action that has already occurred and that has happened only one time. Moreover Jesus is not in the process of obtaining redemption for He has already ‘obtained’ eternal redemption. Clearly, this verse supports the Evangelical doctrine about the finished work of Christ on the cross, and opposes the Catholic notion of a ‘carrying on’ of the work of redemption.

How does the Catholic magisterium deal with such passages in the Bible? Surely they know about them and they must have some form of explanation that accommodates the sacrifice of the mass. It is interesting to see what Pope John Paul II says about Hebrews 9:12 in his popular book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. He wrote: “Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ constantly ‘enters into God's sanctuary thus obtaining eternal redemption’” (cf. Heb 9:12).

We immediately notice two facts. The word ‘entered’ is changed to ‘enters’ – giving the impression that this action is continuous rather than a simple action in the past. Moreover, the word ‘once’ is omitted, and the quotation is preceded by the word ‘constantly.’ Secondly, instead of ‘having obtained’ he writes ‘obtaining’, as if redemption is in the process of being accomplished. The meaning of this scripture is reversed!

If He ‘constantly enters’ the holy place, Christ is no better than the Levitical priests. If He has not obtained redemption, his blood is as powerless as that of goats and calves. But thanks be to God, His Word teaches the very opposite: “By his own blood he entered in once (not constantly enters) into the holy place, having obtained (not obtaining) eternal redemption for us.”

What do you do when your beliefs do not match the teaching of the Bible? You can do one of two things. You can either change your beliefs or change the Bible. You can either trust in Christ's finished work or go to mass, but you can’t do both.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Do Catholics Worship Images Of Christ?

An article posted on a Catholic website begins with these striking words:

       “Catholics worship statues!” People still make this ridiculous claim. [1] 

Some Protestants continue to allege that Catholics worship images despite their constant denial. I happen to be one of those Protestants. Without referring to the Bible, I invite you to look at official Catholic sources, to show that the Catholic Church does in fact promote the worship of images. 

So, what does the Catholic Church teach about images? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2132) is a good place to start: 

       The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” The honour paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone: Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.

We should note several important points:

1. We understand that Catholics are not supposed to honour the image itself, as a mere physical object that would be crass idolatry. However, they are called to venerate the image not as a thing, but only as far as it is an image. Can this distinction be made in practice; this is another point for further discussion.

2. The Church teaches that the honour given to the image passes on to the person represented by the image; or perhaps we can say, Catholics honour the saints and angels through honour rendered to their images. The Council of Trent (session 25) explains:

       ... the honor which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which they represent, so that by means of the images which we kiss and before which we uncover the head and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ and venerate the saints whose likeness they bear. [2]

3. The church distinguishes between the worship and adoration of God (latria) and the lesser form of honour, or veneration (dulia), given to saints and angels. Thus a statue of St Paul should not be worshipped (latria) but simply honoured (dulia). On this account, it would be contrary to Catholic teaching to worship the image of a saint. The image of St Paul should be venerated, not worshipped. “The honour paid to sacred images is a ‘respectful veneration,’ not the adoration due to God alone.”

At this point, a series of questions springs to mind:
  • What about images of Christ, who is God incarnate?
  • If the veneration given to the image of a saint passes on to the saint, what kind of honour should be given to the image of Christ?
  • Surely, Christ deserves more than mere veneration of the dulia type. Being God, Christ deserves to be honoured with the highest form of worship and adoration (latria). If Christ’s image is merely venerated, isn’t that honour far less than the adoration he is worthy to receive?
  • Shouldn’t then the image of Christ – if Catholic theology is correct – be honoured with the highest form of worship (latria), given that this worship to the image passes on to the Person represented? 
In other words, if saints can be honoured (dulia) by honouring (dulia) their statues, should God incarnate by worshipped (latria) by worshipping (latria) his image?

That seems to be the logical conclusion!

Someone may say, “That’s only your fallible interpretation, you are misrepresenting Catholic teaching.” Well then, look again at the sentence quoted above from the Catechism.

       Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate.

This statement denies images are worshipped “in themselves” and “as mere things”. That is quite obvious: Catholics do not intentionally worship wood and stone, but the same sentence continues to affirm that images are worshipped “under their distinctive aspect as images”. Images of God incarnate are worshipped according to the Catechism.

The Catechism is actually quoting from St Thomas Aquinas. In the same paragraph, Aquinas states plainly that “religious worship is paid to the images of Christ.”
[3]

In his discussion of the question, “Whether the image of Christ should be adored with the adoration of latria”, Thomas Aquinas is even more explicit, I quote:
  • The honour given to an image reaches to the prototype, i.e. the exemplar. But the exemplar itself--namely, Christ--is to be adored with the adoration of latria; therefore also His image.
  • Consequently the same reverence should be shown to Christ's image as to Christ Himself. Since, therefore, Christ is adored with the adoration of latria, it follows that His image should be adored with the adoration of latria. 
  • Whereas we give the adoration of latria to the image of Christ, Who is true God, not for the sake of the image, but for the sake of the thing whose image it is.
  • Among these traditions is the worship of Christ's image. [4] 
One would hope that Catholic apologists would be as clear and honest, as Thomas Aquinas in saying publicly, “we give the adoration of latria to the image of Christ.” What they call “ridiculous” is in fact the teaching of their own Church! I appeal to Catholics and Evangelicals alike, not to be deceived by a watered-down version of Catholicism presented by modern apologists.

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

Mormonism: Christian or Cultic?

  • 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
  • Mormonism's 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.
  • So, are the Mormons Christian? Absolutely Not!:
          -The Christian God is One, was never a man and is never limited in any respect. Man will not
become a god in Christianity, because there is only one God. The Christian God is spirit and has
no wife. Christ was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Christian's Jesus was not
a brother to Satan, nor was he ever married. The Bible is God's trustworthy Word. Blacks, like
all other "races" are part of the one human race and no curse exists. They were not previously
living spirits, nor were any other persons. No man will have anything to do with the judgment or
resurrection; these are God's domain. Mormons are not the true church. On the contrary, Mormons are unsaved and following a false gospel. Any Mormon who does not leave that church and follow the true Jesus Christ will spend eternity in Hell. It is the duty of every Christian to evangelize the Mormons.

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

God Did Not Create Sexual Orientations

"God did not create sexual orientations. He created sexes. God gave each sex a body capable of giving physical pleasure and children to the other sex. All are heterosexual because everyone is born in the bodies of a man or a woman. This truth does not change even if one has very difficult feelings against which one must fight. Homosexuality has nothing to do with heterosexuality and the first does not equal the second. There are people who feel powerful desires towards the same sex. … But it does not change the truth that they are already heterosexual because God created them that way, so the Bible tells us."

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 convincing. The author does not provide a reason 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.”9

           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."

           Then, the Roman Catholic apologist goes on to say the following:

           "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 rather weak considering 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 cases, there is an innocent substitute. The lamb died in the place of a person, etc. It does not require a genius to properly understand these passages.

           The very idea of forgiveness (i.e. 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. The author's tampering with the biblical doctrine of the atonement is dangerous.

           "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, it requires the questions of sin and righteousness and judgement to be dealt with (even from a Roman Catholic perspective).

           What is the way that God reconciled us? How did He do it? That is what the Apostle Paul is talking about. Therefore, a forensic-imputation theme completely fits with the flow of Paul's message. He is making the appeal precisely because of the reality of imputation. That is the very reason we may be reconciled to a holy God. So, Catholic Nick's argument does not stand up at all.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Intellectual Sophistry Of Roman Catholic Apologists

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?, providing evangelistic tips for fellow 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."

          It is an indisputable fact that the Law of God demands perfect obedience. If there was no sin, 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.

          "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 works are added to the equation of salvation in Roman Catholicism proves that the Roman Catholic view on justification 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, which itself is a work, so that man can perform good works to merit more grace and salvation.

          Next, the author quotes Romans 4:1-3, Galatians 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:4-7, and Titus 3:4-5. Then, he also goes on to say the following:

          "Without going into detail on each of these passages, 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 the author mentions are quite straightforward, in that they say our works cannot save us. We are saved because God is forgiving and compassionate. He is literally reaching out to helpless mankind because of His love. We are not deserving of His salvation. If we could make amends for our own sin, then why did Christ need to come? How many works must we do in order to enter the kingdom of God? The reason that boasting must be excluded from justification is that it would be wrong for us to take credit for God's work.

          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; 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. Salvation is gift from God. 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. We are justified by faith, apart from the merit of any and all good works. It would be wise for the author to stop spewing off falsehood.

          "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 for me to allow the reader to decide who has a more reasonable interpretation of Scripture by citing one of those "not by works" verses 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, 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:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled What is the "certificate of debt" that Jesus canceled for us?, where the author parallels Colossians 2 with Ephesians 2 and says:

          "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, and that is, Paul is working to unite Jews and Gentiles. That is the whole point of Ephesians 2:5. That portion of it is also missing from the Colossians passage. Here is a helpful note on Colossians 2:14 from the Reformation Study Bible:

          "2:14 canceling the record of debt. The law is compared to a certificate of indebtedness written in the debtor’s own hand. Jesus was born “under the law,” subject to its demands and curses (Gal. 4:4). On the cross, He was “made . . . to be sin” (2 Cor. 5:21) and endured the law’s curse against unrighteousness (Gal. 3:13). In the execution of the death sentence on Jesus when He was nailed to the cross, Paul sees the cancellation of the death warrant that stood against transgressors of the law. Paul also sees here the fulfillment of their obligation to keep perfectly the law’s demands in order to enter into life. The believer is no longer subject to the threat of the law’s condemnation."

          The author fails to understand Colossians 2:14 in its immediate context, which is most certainly speaking about our debt of sin. The excerpt from the study Bible quoted above is relevant here. The Roman Catholic apologist being critiqued is correct in saying that the Jews and Gentiles were separated. But he is denying what Scripture teaches in terms of our justification in this passage and others. The metal nails and the wooden cross are vividly representative of Christ's propitiatory work.

          The author is correct when he says that the phrase (i.e. "certificate of debt with its legal demands") can be understood as "blotting out the handwriting". However, again, especially with phrases that are not used frequently, we must translate the phrase in the context, which is clearly speaking about our justification before the Lord in terms of our sin. With almost all Greek and Hebrews words, there is a semantic range which is appropriate. While the word"cheirographon" can mean handwriting, it can also mean "certificate of indebtedness". So, with that in mind, that word is translated such from the context. Responsible translators of the Bible do not merely apply that meaning to that word to fit their theology. The author says the following:

          "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 (i.e. the process of Christ taking our place and our debt) does not exclude regeneration of the heart. The concept of inward renewal is not incompatible with legal justification. The two are not mutually exclusive. That is a completely false argument made on behalf of the Catholic apologist.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Does Psalm 110:4 Support The Catholic Eucharist?

"...A plain reading of the text in Genesis 14 indicates that as Abraham arrived with his troops and came before Melchizedek, Melchizedek brought out some food (bread and wine) to feed all these hungry guys. The verse makes no reference, or even the slightest allusion, to Melchizedek making any kind of sacrificial offering to God akin to the Mass.

Protestants concede that Melchizedek is a "type" of Christ, prefiguring Christ in His work and ministry. They note that Melchizedek's name is made up of two words meaning "king" and "righteous." Melchizedek was also a priest. Thus, Melchizedek foreshadows Christ as a righteous king/priest. Melchizedek was also the king of "Salem" (which means "peace"). This points forward to Christ as the King of Peace.

Yet, despite this typological parallel, the bread and wine in Genesis 14 have no typological significance, but simply portray Melchizedek being hospitable in providing something to eat for some hungry warriors. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no mention or allusion to any kind of sacrifice akin to the Mass."

Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 207-208

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

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Family Is Still The Building Block Of Society

"The methodical, deliberate redefinitions of terms such as life, gender, marriage, identity, etc. and the replacement of critical institutions, like the family and the faith community, with the government, have created the new normal. Many citizens now look to government programs to fulfill needs and solve problems, releasing them from a sense of personal responsibility or ownership and lessening dependence upon family.

Today, one’s identity is warped into a social construct permitted by some conjured up “right” to reject biology. Marriage, similarly, has been redefined to make a political point instead of its purpose as a key in a healthy society to procreate and provide sustenance and support. These reckless maneuvers borne on the political Left aimed to establish a more “progressive” society are, in fact, resulting in its destruction and material harm to individuals. …

The Left demands “educational equity” in schools but won’t dare touch the facts that children do better when parents are their first teachers, and a home is comprised of a mom and a dad. The “liberated” women of the Left, now even more angry and militant than ever, seem to thrive in the newly defined male persona of either an effeminate and compliant being or excessive in masculinity that translates into violent, oppressive, and sexist behavior. As noted in the June 2014 edition of the Institute for Family Studies, these women, united in their grievances, completely disregard social science that demonstrates “daughters whose fathers have been actively engaged throughout childhood in promoting their academic or athletic achievements and encouraging their self-reliance and assertiveness are more likely to graduate from college and to enter the higher-paying, more demanding jobs traditionally held by males.”

Robin Smith, The Family Is Still the Building Block of Society.

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)

        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. 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. In other words, it is generally regarded as a forgery. The textual basis for it is poor. No 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 fraudulent 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 quite a reasonable solution). Whatever the case, we can rest assured that God has given to us everything He wanted us to have. The absence of a book written by an apostle or prophet does not necessarily mean that the Bible has been corrupted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Debunking Catholic Answers On The Queenship of Mary

  • Discussion:
           -Catholic Answers published an article titled Is Mary's Queenship Biblical?, which is a superficially biblical defense of the Church of Rome referring to the earthly mother of Jesus Christ as the Queen of Heaven. Following are a handful of quotations from the linked article to provide a summary of the author's argument:

           "One biblical theme sheds light on these questions and serves as a key for unlocking the mystery of Mary’s queenship: the Old Testament tradition of the "queen mother" in the Davidic kingdom."

           "In the monarchy of King David, as well as in other ancient kingdoms of the Near East, the mother of the ruling king held an important office in the royal court and played a key part in the process of dynastic succession. In fact, the king’s mother ruled as queen, not his wife."

           "Thus, the queen mother sitting at the king’s right hand symbolizes her sharing in the king’s royal authority and illustrates how she holds the most important position in the kingdom, second only to the king."

           "We have seen how the Old Testament queen mother tradition serves as an important background for understanding Mary’s royal office. Indeed, the New Testament portrays Mary as the queen mother par excellence. Thus, prayers, hymns, and art giving honor to Mary’s queenship are most fitting biblical responses for Christians."

           The simple answer to the above quoted excerpts is that the Bible does not interpret and apply the notion of a Queen Mother to Mary in heaven. It does not relate such a concept to her. One cannot just rummage around the Old Testament and make up connections or assign a significance to something that Scripture does not give it. The author of the Roman Catholic apologetics article being critiqued arbitrarily takes an aspect of Old Testament kingship and goes far beyond what the Scripture teaches concerning Mary. Comparing mothers of kings to Mary as an analogy to make Mary the "Queen of Heaven" is the height of illogic and insanity. The ideas simply do not follow. This poorly thought out reasoning is telling in that it reveals the desperation of Roman Catholic apologists. Nowhere does Scripture assert that Mary is the queen of queens. This excerpt from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online is telling in regards to the Roman Catholic tradition of praying to saints and angels:

           "A further reinforcement, of the same idea, was derived from the cult of the angels, which, while pre-Christian in its origin, was heartily embraced by the faithful of the sub-Apostolic age. It seems to have been only as a sequel of some such development that men turned to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. This at least is the common opinion among scholars, though it would perhaps be dangerous to speak too positively. Evidence regarding the popular practice of the early centuries is almost entirely lacking, and while on the one hand the faith of Christians no doubt took shape from above downwards (i.e. the Apostles and teachers of the Church delivered a message which the laity accepted from them with all docility)”

           The central theme of the Bible is devotion to and adoration for God. We are constantly told to glorify His name. We are constantly told to confess our sins before Him. Never is this said of Mary. We are never told or encouraged in Scripture to venerate His creations. If the theological developments of Roman Catholic Mariology are correct, then it really is strange that His Word nowhere even hints at such concepts. Consider, for example, the fact that the Apostle Paul does not make mention of Mary in his basic presentation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He does not even exhort the readers of his epistles to pray to members in a so-called communion of saints during times of trouble. That is just how unbiblical the concept of Mary being the Queen of Heaven is. 

           A very detailed picture of heaven is given in chapters four and five of Revelation. God is seated on His throne and is surrounded by twenty-four elders and four living creatures. Jesus Christ (the "lamb") is standing in the middle of the throne. Several thousand angels circle the throne worshiping and singing God's praises. However, there is no mention or even an implication of Mary's presence. In fact, only Jesus was found to be worthy of breaking the seals and opening the scroll (Revelation 5:1-5). Revelation 15:4 tells us that God alone is exalted, and all people should bow before Him. The Psalmists of the Old Testament also conformed this profound truth (Psalm 73:25-26; 148:13).
         
           The only time when the Bible makes mention of the "Queen of Heaven" is in the context of Babylonian goddess worship (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-25). The Jews refused to reform their ways when confronted by the righteous Prophet Jeremiah regarding the Lord's fury. They were in a state of selfish rebellion against the Lord's commandments, as they in their idolatry were making icons and baking cakes to a foreign god. Why would any faithful Jewish woman want to be honored with a title that was once used in blaspheming her God? How is that not mockery? The Mary of the Bible and the Mary of the Roman Catholic Church are as far apart as day is to night. This excerpt from the author is also worthy of consideration:

           "Understanding Mary as queen mother sheds light on her important intercessory role in the Christian life. Just like the queen mother of the Davidic kingdom, Mary serves as advocate for the people in the Kingdom of God today. Thus, we should approach our queen mother with confidence, knowing that she carries our petitions to her royal son and that he responds to her as Solomon did to Bathsheba: "I will never refuse you."

           What a significant doctrinal contrast that the quote above has with the teachings of the New Testament! Was it not the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who said that all who are weary should come to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28-30)? Are we not able to approach God with confidence as a result of Christ's atonement sacrifice (Hebrews 4:14-16)? Does not the author of Hebrews tell us that Christ lives forever to make intercession before God the Father to everyone who comes to Him by faith (Hebrews 7:25)? Does not the author of Hebrews attest to Christ being the Mediator of the New Covenant without making mention of His earthly mother (Hebrews 12:24)? In whose image are we being conformed to (Romans 8:28-30)? Nowhere does the Bible assign the intercessory roles that the Roman Catholic Church has given to Mary. The constant emphasis found throughout Scripture is on Jesus Christ. Also, we know from Scripture that praying to the saints is pointless because it teaches that once a person passes away he or she is done with earthly affairs (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). 

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

  • Discussion:
           -Following is an interesting excerpt that I came across (original source unknown) during a net search which serves as good supplementary material to my biblical response and logical critique of transubstantiation. It addresses a Roman Catholic claim regarding 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."

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:

           "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 apocryphal 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 Old Testament canon are of divine origin. The discourse of the apologist being critiqued here appears to be fairly reasonable on a surface level, but the presented information nonetheless falls far short of proof.

          The first and foremost problem with this argumentation is that it neglects the intention of the original author. The context was originally about the wicked, the persecution of the righteous, and the vindication of God’s children. This pious literature is very similar to the Book of Proverbs. Christ ultimately fulfills the themes of this text because He is the ultimate righteous man who suffers and is vindicated. However, it was not written originally as a prophecy. The same themes can apply to faithful Christians today. This contrasts with a text like Isaiah 53 that sets up the enigmatic Servant that suffers on behalf of His people. Wisdom 2:12-20 is talking about a "righteous man", not Christ. To take similarities and claim prophecy in this case is pure eisegesis.

          Even if Wisdom 2:12-20 was intended to speak of the coming Messiah, it does not require us to accept it as inspired or canonical. The statements could be gleaned from what the canonical books of the Old Testament teach. In fact, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says the following regarding Wisdom 2:12-20:

          "[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 was all kinds of Jewish literature at the time that spoke of the coming Messiah in light of canonical Scripture. There are other Jewish writings that even Roman Catholics would not accept as canonical that speak of the coming Messiah. Consider, for example, the book of 1 Enoch.

           The authorship of the Book of Wisdom is unknown. It was not a part of the Jewish canon. It was originally composed in Greek. It was written during a time when there were no prophets alive in Israel. The author was obviously familiar with texts of the Old Testament, but that factor does not in itself prove the work to be inspired. The authors of the New Testament never cited Wisdom 2:12-20, which would be ironic if it truly was a Messianic prophecy.

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)

          According to Scripture, we cannot claim to love the God of the Bible while possessing contempt and ill will in our hearts for other people. It is not possible for us to know, love, and serve 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, as remaining in such a spiritual condition can have ominous consequences (Ephesians 4:26).

         This unnatural state of hatred that the Apostle John makes mention of is utterly incompatible with the self-sacrificing love demonstrated through Jesus Christ making atonement for our sins. This unnatural state of hatred that the Apostle John makes mention of is irreconcilable with Christian charity as a whole. Thus, the people who claim to be serving God faithfully who at the same time are continually holding resentment for or bearing ill will for others in their hearts are liars. They are not acting in accordance with God's will.

          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.

          If we do not love other people as we love ourselves, then we do not really understand what love is. And if we do not correctly grasp the concept of love, then we cannot have fellowship with God because He is love. In truth, those who allow hatred to rule over their lives are acting carnally. It is one thing to have knowledge of God, but it is quite another to actually be reconciled to Him. It would be wise for professing Christians to examine their conduct and doctrine closely to ensure that they have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Commentary From The NET Bible On Jude 5

"tc ‡ Some translations take ἅπαξ (hapax) with the following clause (thus, “[Jesus,] having saved the people once for all”). Such a translation presupposes that ἅπαξ is a part of the ὅτι (hoti) clause. The reading of NA, πάντα ὅτι [ὁ] κύριος ἅπαξ (panta hoti [ho] kurios hapax), suggests this interpretation (though with “Lord” instead of “Jesus”). This particle is found before λαόν (laon) in the ὅτι clause in א C* Ψ 630 1241 1243 1505 1739 1846 1881 pc co. But ἅπαξ is found before the ὅτι clause in most witnesses, including several important ones (P A B C 33 81 623 2344 M vg). What seems best able to explain the various placements of the adverb is that scribes were uncomfortable with ἅπαξ referring to the readers’ knowledge, feeling it was more appropriate to the theological significance of “saved” (σώσας, sōsas).

sn The construction our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ in v. 4 follows Granville Sharp’s rule (see note on Lord). The construction strongly implies the deity of Christ. This is followed by a statement that Jesus was involved in the salvation (and later judgment) of the Hebrews. He is thus to be identified with the Lord God, Yahweh. Verse 5, then, simply fleshes out what is implicit in v. 4.

tc ‡ The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Iēsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses (e.g., A B 33 81 1241 1739 1881 2344 pc vg co Or), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (theos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς(though P has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [theos Christos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). In addition to the evidence supplied in NA for this reading, note also {88 322 323 424 665 915 2298 eth Cyr Hier Bede}. As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦςis, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate."

https://netbible.org/bible/Jude+1

Romans 10:9 Proves Jesus Is God Almighty

  • Discussion:
          -"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)

          Regarding Jesus Christ being referred to as Lord in this text, Don Stewart of the Blue Letter Bible notes the following:

          "Whenever God's name, "Jehovah" or "Yahweh," is given in the New Testament, it is rendered by the Greek word kurios. Sometimes this refers to the name of God. In this instance, Paul calls Jesus "Lord" or "Yahweh." This is a reference to His Deity."

          Now, this does not mean that the Greek term kurious always refers to deity. It can certainly be used as a formal way in speaking to somebody. Context determines the meaning of words. In the case of Romans 10:9-10, Jesus is being called 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. We submit to Him as 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 these insights in its footnotes 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)."

          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.

          Also, 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. Why then does the text being studied state that God raised Him 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. God functions independently of a physical body. 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. Romans 10:9-10 serves as a strong biblical proof for Jesus being God. 

The Prologue To John

Richard Bauckham on the Prologue to John (Originally cited by Steve Hays):

John begins at "the beginning" of everything", the beginning at which Genesis and the whole biblical story began. To let his readers into the secret of who Jesus really is, John thinks it is necessary to begin at the earliest possible beginning, when God the Creator was on the brink of bringing the whole cosmos into being. For anyone who knew Genesis, the identity between the opening words of Genesis and those of John's Gospel ("In the beginning" ) would be obvious and would provide the key to the meaning of the way the prologue continues. Note that Jewish allusions to creation frequently use the words "in the beginning" or "the beginning" in allusion to Gen 1:1. [Masanobu Endo, Creation and Christology: A Study on the Johannine Prologue in the light of Early Jewish Creation Accounts (Mohr Sibeck, 2002), 206-7.]

The first part of the prologue (1:1-5) is set in what we might call primordial time, the time of Genesis 1, while the second part (1:6-18), which begins in the style of OT historical narrative (1:6) is set in historical time and, by featuring John the Baptist (1:6-8,15), connects with the opening section of the gospel story (1:19-34). The first part of the prologue takes the form of a retelling of Gen 1:1-5. See esp. Peder Borgen, "Observations on the Targumic Character of the Prologue of John," and "Logos was the True Light: Contributions to the Interpretation of the Prologue of John", in Logos was the True Light and Other Essays on the Gospel of John, 13-20, 95-110.

Most recent commentators on John have thought that the figure of divine Wisdom, which features in some Jewish literature in connection with creation, has influenced the prologue…but Jewish narratives of creation refer to the word of God considerably more often than they do to the wisdom of God [see the table in Endo, Creation and Christology, 163], while the two are sometimes distinguished and given different roles (God's wisdom devised the plan and his word executed it, 2 En 33:4; Wis 9:1-2]. What John says of the Word in 1:1-4 is quite sufficiently explained on the basis of Jewish references to the role of God's word in creation, while other alleged similarities to Wisdom ideas in the rest of the prologue are possible but not compelling. We should certainly not make interpretation of the prologue depend upon detecting Wisdom somewhere behind it. “The Trinity and the Gospel of John,” in The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance, ed. by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman (London: Inter-Varsity Press [Apollos] 2016), 93-94.

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.6  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."7

...There is currently no evidence in support of a multiverse. It remains a speculative idea."

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