Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Response To The Panda's Thumb Argument Against Intelligent Design

A standard objection to the argument for design is the "Panda's Thumb" argument – if we look at some living systems, they appear to have instances of poor design. Does this imply that God cannot have designed it?A quantitative standard of design helps in understanding this issue. Suppose I look at a Mercedes-Benz, and decide that the hubcaps are not aerodynamic enough. Should I conclude that the Mercedes-Benz is not a designed system? Or should I simply say that it is designed but does not have the highest possible level of design?

In the case of the Mercedes-Benz, perhaps I have missed some other function of the hubcaps. For example, perhaps they are designed for good looks instead of aerodynamics. In the same way, some authors have made much of the poor design of certain living systems without taking into account their other possible functions in a larger system. For example, peacock tails may make peacocks less efficient, but they have the function of pleasing people. Shade trees convert sunlight less efficiently than algae, but shade trees provide shade for humans, and algae doesn't.

It is possible for a system to have undetected design. If we do not observe the function for which something is designed, then we will not see its functional dependence on anything. A young child looking at a piece of scientific equipment designed to create nanosecond digital pulses may see nothing but a box with blinking lights and not see any function at all. We can therefore talk about "detected design." If we see no design, we cannot prove that it is undesinged, we can only say that we see no evidence of design. With a quantitative measure of design, we may also say that we see only a certain degree of design.

As Augustine of Hippo argued, no thing but God can be perfect in every way. Therefore every created thing has "imperfections" to some degree. We therefore can speak of a hierarchy of design, from inanimate objects to "lower" life forms to "higher" ones, with increasing quantitative measure of design. This is warranted, for example, by the narrative of Genesis 1, which sets mankind over animals, animals over plants, and plants over the rest. Jesus also said, "Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Finding something further down in degree of design does not imply that no thing has design. In the same way, finding a simple little ditty written by Mozart does not mean he was a poor composer. People make various things for various uses, and there is no logical reason why God could not do the same.

We must also distinguish between poor design and systems with good design but which have purposes that we do not like. A shark is a well designed killing machine. This raises the question of the problem of evil, which is a separate question. A well-designed, destructive system does not imply the lack of existence of design. It may imply a well-designed instrument of wrath.

David Snoke, Toward a Quantitative Theory of Design

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2 Corinthians 2:10--A Proof Text For Priestly Absolution?

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologists sometimes quote 2 Corinthians 2:10 as evidence for priestly absolution (i.e. Paul forgave a sinner in the Person of Christ). But that is not at all what this verse is saying.

          In context, Paul exhorted the Church of Corinth to discipline a man who was living in sin. Verse eight was a call for them to restore fellowship with that person. Verse nine is the author's reminder of writing to them. Paul is saying that if they forgive someone and say that he is repentant, then he will restore with them as well because he has trust with them. He is telling them to return the favor. He is saying the sinner is repentant. So the Corinthian Christians were told to receive him back.

          The Roman Catholic dogma of confession to a priest expressly contradicts the teaching of the New Testament. There is one mediator between God and mankind, and His name is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Only He can make atonement for our sins. Only He can reconcile us to a holy God. Thus, the Roman Catholic priest is self-deceived and stopping others from entering into the kingdom of heaven. The concept of an ordained ministerial priesthood is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

          1 John 1:7-9 mentions God thoroughly cleansing believers who confess their sins to Him. An ordained ministerial priest is not mentioned in that context. The Roman Catholic priest is actually unnecessary because Christ lives forever to make intercession before the Father for those who have placed their trust in Him (Hebrews 7:24-25). His priesthood cannot be transferred to anybody. Who does the Roman Catholic priest confess his sins to, another priest? This tradition is foolish. How can there be an ordained, ministerial priesthood when no more offerings exist for sin (Hebrews 10:17-18)?

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Are The Roman Catholic Holy Days Of Obligation Biblical?

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic hierarchy has invented an annual series of holy days of obligation for faithful adherents to observe, which comprises a liturgical calendar. Two such mandatory days for Catholics to comply with would include Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Both take place during the Lenten season. The question that this article strives to answer is whether or not a church government has the scriptural authority to command us to set aside specific days for penitential purposes.
  • The New Testament Does Not Speak Of Holy Days Of Obligation:
          -While the Jewish people of the Old Testament participated in obligatory religious celebrations such as Pentecost, the Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23), there are no such stipulations in the New Testament for Christians. In other words, there are no listings of, examples of, or any implicit or explicit commandments for a church hierarchy mandating special days of observance which are dedicated to specific people, events, or for a designated purpose found for Christians in the New Covenant Scriptures. If the Lord Jesus Christ willed for us to follow a universally binding liturgical calendar, then it is strange that the authors of the New Testament nowhere wrote down any instructions. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment to the Old Covenant celebrations. The priesthood, animal sacrifices, dietary regulations, and other aspects of the Mosaic Law were only "shadows" of the greater things to come (Hebrews 10:1). It would still be wise to study these Jewish customs, for they are part of our heritage and point us to the Savior.
  • The Roman Catholic Church Goes Even Further Beyond The Teaching Of Scripture As It Makes Observing Specific Holy Days Of Obligation A Requirement For Salvation:
          -The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly says that willingly and intentionally failing to observe holy days of obligation is a mortal sin (CCC #2181). It is mortal sins that constitute an instantaneous loss of all saving grace (CCC #1861). But the Bible does not authorize such a doctrine. We cannot merit our salvation by making reparation for sin. We cannot merit our salvation by rituals. If a person wishes to be saved, then he or she needs to approach God by faith (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Brief Comments On The Observance Of Ash Wednesday: 
          -During Ash Wednesday, palm branches are burned. Then, the ashes are rubbed on the forehead by a priest in the shape of a cross. Sacramental graces are imparted to partakers because the ashes were previously blessed. That is heresy. What does make atonement for sins according to Scripture is the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:11; 1 Peter 1:18-19). We must trust place our trust in His work alone for salvation. Moreover, Christ expressly scolded the religious leaders of His day for openly making known their times of religious fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). Placing ashes on one's forehead certainly qualifies as a violation of this warning against pride. Why not just give up Lent this upcoming Lent season? Even this Roman Catholic source admits:

          "You won’t find a listing of the Holy Days of Obligation in the Bible because they aren’t there. They aren’t there because they weren’t instituted when the Bible was written and compiled. Like so many things in our Catholic tradition, the practice of celebrating Holy Days developed over a period of centuries as Church leaders reflected on the importance of particular events..."
  • Mandating Special Days Of Obligation Is A Sign Of Apostasy:
          -The New Testament nowhere requires the observation of any "holy days of obligation". In fact, we have been given the liberty of deciding which days that we individually choose to observe to be specifically glorifying God (Romans 14:1-6; Colossians 2:13-17). We should be turning to Him on a daily basis. We should be glorifying Him on a daily basis. We should always be serving Him. But mandating the observance of certain "holidays" on the other members of the church is a sign of spiritual apostasy (Galatians 4:9-11).

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Unbiblical Development Of Roman Catholic Eucharist Theology

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a few excerpts from a Roman Catholic PDF file titled Eucharistic Origins: From The New Testament To The Liturgies of the Golden Age, by Robert J. Daly, that are cited as follows (keep in mind that despite these admissions, the author does affirm that Jesus Christ instituted the Roman Catholic Eucharist):

          "...there is no clear line of development from the Last Supper of Jesus to the theologically rich Eucharistic Prayers of the patristic golden age."

          "What Jesus did at the Last Supper is obviously at least the generative moment of the institution of the Eucharist. But Eucharist in the full sense we have just described? No, that was still to come." 

          "The Eucharist that Christians now celebrate is what the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus, and over the course of generations and centuries, learned to do as it celebrated table fellowship with its risen Lord."

          "We do not know and cannot reconstruct in precise detail what Jesus did at his "Last Supper." The New Testament itself remembered and interpreted what Jesus did in quite different ways. Attending to these differences undermines the assumption that there is a single line of development that runs from Jesus to the later Eucharist of the Church, and that can be traced back by us toward Jesus. And indeed, if by Eucharist is meant what is now done in the Church, the farther back one goes, for example, to the "Eucharists" of James, Peter, and Jesus, the farther one gets from the Eucharist of the present. Indeed, if an exact reconstruction of what Jesus did at the Last Supper were possible, it would probably look quite different from what Christians now celebrate."

The Roman Catholic Church Perverts The Meaning Of "Do This In Remembrance Of Me"

  • Discussion:
          -Apologists for the Church of Rome oftentimes claim that the words spoken by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper ("Do this in remembrance of Me") are meant to convey sacrificial overtones. It is claimed that the Greek word for remembrance, which is anamnesis, implies that the communion meal is a sacrificial memorial. This interpretation is made in accordance to a literalistic understanding of Christ's speech concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Instead of adhering to the simple teaching of Scripture regarding what takes place during the communion meal, Roman Catholic officials occupy sophisticated Aristotelian substance and accidents philosophy to account for transubstantiation. But the truth of the matter is that interpreting the Greek word anamnesis to mean a memorial sacrifice is simply not warranted. Notice how the following sources define the term anamnesis:

          "a recalling, remembrance, memory." (Strong's Concordance)

          "a remembering, recollection.” (Thayer's Greek Lexicon)

          "means of remembering, remembrance, reminder." (Friberg)

          "Cognate: 364 anámnēsis (from 363 /anamimnḗskō, "bring to mind") – properly, deliberate recollection, done to better appreciate the effects (intended results) of what happened; active, self-prompted recollection especially as a memorial (memorial sacrifice)." (HELPS Word-studies)

          "recollection, remembrance, reminiscence," 1650s, from Greek anamnesis "a calling to mind, remembrance," noun of action from stem of anamimneskein "remember, remind (someone) of (something), make mention of," from ana "back" (see ana-) + mimneskesthai "to recall, cause to remember," related to mnemnon "mindful," mneme "memory;" from PIE root *men- (1) "to think." In Platonic philosophy, "recollection of a prior life." (Online Etymology Dictionary)

          Moreover, there are no reputable Bible translations, including ones Catholic, that render anamnesis as memorial sacrifice or re-present. Thus, the Roman Catholic apologetic being dissected in this paper is actually circular because the point is assumed rather than proved. Any sacrificial overtones present in the context of the Lord's Supper point to the one sacrifice made at Calvary, not to the bread and wine themselves. It does not indicate a sacrifice of any sort. None of the inspired authors of the New Testament describe the Lord's Supper as being a memorial sacrifice. None of the inspired authors of the New Testament attributed salvific properties to the communion elements. The Lord's Supper is simply a holy memorial. The purpose of the communion meal is to stimulate our appreciation for the reality that God showed His love toward undeserving sinners.

          The idea that Jesus Christ is the communion elements at Mass under an unchanged appearance is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Eucharistic sacrifice is made impossible by the fact that only Christ could offer Himself. His atonement was made "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10-14). Strangely enough, the Roman Catholic Church has even ascribed the title "Alter Christus" (another Christ) to its priests.

Did Roman Emperor Constantine Invent The Trinity?

Long before the Council of Nicea, people considered Jesus divine:


-Ignatius: "God Himself was manifested in human form" (AD 105).
-Clement: "It is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God." (AD 150).
-Justin Martyr: "Being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God"; "Both God and Lord of hosts"; "The Father of the universe has a Son. And He...is even God" (AD 160).
-Irenaeus: "Our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King"; "He is God, for the name Emmanuel indicates this" (AD 180).
-Tertullian: "Christ our God" (AD 200).
-Origen: "No one should be offended that the Savior is also God" (AD 225).
-Novatian: "He is not only man, but God also" (AD 235).
-Cyprian: "Jesus Christ, our lord and God" (AD 250).
-Methodius: "He truly was and is...with God, and being God" (AD 290).
-Lactantius: "We believe Him to be God" (AD 304).
-Arnobius: "Christ performed all miracles...the duty of Divinity" (AD 305).

James Garlow and Peter Jones in Cracking Da Vinci 's Code, cited by Garry Poole and Lee Strobel, Exploring the Da Vinci Code, p. 90

Friday, February 22, 2019

Do Not Base Romantic Relationships On Practicality

"Forming or maintaining a relationship on the basis of practicality may serve well with classmates and coworkers, but this will not do for romantic relationships, which actually do require romance. Once practicality takes root as the couple’s primary concern, short-term material goods (money, chores, schedule, sex) supersede long-term immaterial goods (virtue, understanding, life goals, general happiness). In the practical arrangement of cohabitation, two people will mutually seek to maximize their own interests through each other. This may have the appearance of marriage, but it is only a parody: the love and generosity one would expect devolves into lust and greed.

By turning people in on themselves and their own interests, the focus on practicality essentially objectifies both parties in the relationship. Consider the analogy some give for cohabitation: just as one would test-drive a car before buying it, one should live (and sleep) with another person before deciding to marry. What, exactly, are people imagining when they think this? Do they really think they can test-drive a person by living with him or her for however many months or years? Only if they view other people as objects to be used and marriage as a material investment that will likely lose value over time."

Auguste Meyrat, How Cohabitation Traps People Into Using Each Other

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Christian Interaction With The Problem of Evil

  • General Points To Consider When Discussing The Problem Of Evil:
          -This argument is an attempt to judge God according to human standards. In other words, it judges an absolutely perfect God by fallible, subordinate means of moral evaluation. But He is the One who is superior to us (not the other way around). His ways are not our ways. Our thoughts are not His thoughts. As finite creatures, we are not able to fully comprehend the wisdom of God. We are not in a position to challenge His authority. He transcends our intellectual faculties. He is working things out in a manner that is good for those who love Him and glorifies His eternal name.
          -How come God does not instantly resolve all the problems of this word? Well, He certainly could do that. But such does not mean that the human race would necessarily be pleased with His instant solution. He could simply refuse to pardon the iniquity of sinners and cast them into an eternity of hellfire. He could in the twinkling of an eye erase our existence. Nonetheless, we are told in Scripture that God is patient. He is loving. He is merciful. He is slow to anger. God is literally giving everybody an opportunity to repent (Mark 1:15; Acts 17:26-31; 2 Peter 3:9). We simply need to trust in the sacrificial work of His Son Jesus in order to be saved. 
  • A Brief Consideration Of Free Will
          -God allows us to make immoral decisions because He wanted us to have free will. He wanted us to have freedom and thus to lovingly come to Him through the use of our own reason. He did so out of His love for us. He wanted us to choose Him, not be forced to accept His precepts. He made us to be His children, not to function as robots or puppets. If He did the latter, then He would not really love us. We would not truly be unique as persons. We are capable of either doing good or evil. As long as we have free will, evil inevitably remains a possibility. Free will is a grander good. In fact, it is a gift in and of itself. God created us with the intention of having a relationship. The tree of knowledge of good and evil serves as an object lesson. When He restores everything back to its originally perfect order, our sin nature will be removed. We will be so consumed by God's majestic glory and presence that we would never be tempted by sin, which utterly destroys the possibility of any future insurrection. Believers will have full knowledge that nothing is lacking. The Devil is the reason that evil exists in the world today.
  • Morally Sufficient Reasons For God's Toleration Of Evil:
          -God may allow evil to exist as a way to test and strengthen our faith. He can use suffering to help us build virtues such as patience, courage, humility, and self-sacrifice (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 4:12-19).
          -It could be to show us that our poor decisions lead to negative consequences that are contrary to His will (what He really wants is goodness--he condemns murder, adultery, theft, etc.). 
          -To teach us how He wants us to live or as a punishment for our foolish actions.
          -To prevent people from claiming that their sentence to eternity in hell is unjust on the Day of Judgement.
          -So, the existence of evil is not inherently incompatible with the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and infinitely good God. In fact, the problem of evil does not even disprove the existence of a supreme deity. The existence of evil is a problem for all worldviews, and how that issue is addressed depends on our worldview.
  • The Problem Of Evil Is A Criticism That Backfires--An Objective Evil Assumes An Objective Good Which Cannot Exist If There Is No God:
          -If objective evil exists, then, by definition, objective good must also exist. If there is an objective good, then there is a standard of morality that exists beyond humanity. It exists beyond nature. It is divine. This universal moral code governs the moral laws of each civilization. This moral law implies that there must be a Moral Law Giver. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Book Of Job And The Problem Of Evil

        Job was regarded as the most righteous man on earth in his day (Job 1:1; 8). Despite him being very obedient to God, He allowed very terrible things to happen to that man (Job ended up getting a bunch of sores and later lost everything that he owned to severe weather, including his family. In the end, however, God blessed Him with much more riches and even another family) as part of a test to prove to the devil that Job was indeed faithful. Eventually, his three closest companions gathered around him to offer comfort by giving possible explanations for all of the mishaps such as maybe committing a wrongful action which was worthy of rebuke or even having a sinful lifestyle. But Job disagreed with the reasons provided because he knew in his heart that they were false. Job was in fact a righteous man in the sight of God. So he began to question and ponder why God would allow him to undergo all the pain that he was made to endure. He complained to God about his predicaments and pointed to the fact that he had done nothing worthy of condemnation (Job 31). Job continually placed his trust in the Lord. In response to the his plea, God reminded Job about the fact that He is infinitely superior to mankind in every way because He is the author of all life. In other words, He answered Job by telling him that he was unable to fully understand how He works and instructed him to firmly place his trust in Him. Now, the story of Job is very much relatable to us in the modern world. God's control over nature and His ultimate purposes are to be trusted no matter where they appear to lead. He is sovereign over all creation. We are not fully capable of comprehending every jot of the Lord's divine plan because our minds are finite, whereas His wisdom knows no bounds. God is working things out in a manner that glorifies Him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Biblical And Historical Examination Of Purgatory

  • Discussion:
         -This article serves as a rebuttal to a Roman Catholic publication defending Purgatory, and provides some historical background information as to how the doctrine came to be in its present form. The first three quotations found in this article are from the post being critiqued.

        "The first mention of Purgatory in the Bible is in 2 Maccabees 12:46: “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin.”

        First of all, this passage does not actually say anything about the Roman Catholic dogma of Purgatory. It is simply the recording of a historical event. The author of the article being critiqued has to superimpose an interpretation on to the apocryphal text. Furthermore, 2 Maccabees 12:39-46 contradicts itself. How could the warriors spoken of in context die in a state of godliness when they were struck down by God because of their idolatry?

        "In Matthew 5:26 and Luke 12:59 Christ is condemning sin and speaks of liberation only after expiation."

        The context of both passages warns against pride and hypocrisy. The context plainly shows that eternal condemnation is in view here. Jesus Christ was addressing the religious leaders of His day. If Matthew 5:26 and Luke 12:59 refers to Purgatory, then we must ask who the judge is? Who is the officer? And what is the prison that Jesus speaks of?

        "Revelation 21:27: “…but nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who does abominable things or tells lies.” The place that is to be entered (the place to which this passage refers) is heaven (read the text around it for context)."

       This verse says nothing about final purification after death. This verse says nothing about us making amends for our own sin. It is clearly speaking of the unsaved people (i.e. those names not written in the Lamb's Book of Life). God can instantly cleanse believers at the moment of physical death, thereby making Purgatory unnecessary.

        So, what is the origin of Purgatory? It certainly cannot be found in either the Old or New Testaments. Proto-versions of the concept can be found in ancient pagan religions. Proto-versions of the concept are found in Greco-Roman writings, especially that of Plato and Virgil. But we never see sacrifices for or the offering of prayers on behalf of the dead being prescribed by the Book of the Law. Consequently, foreign ideas were synchronized with Judaism. But how did the idea of Purgatory make its way into Christianity? According to Loraine Boettner in an article titled Immortality: The Intermediate State:

        "In the early Christian era, following the Apostolic age, the writings of Marcion and the Shepherd of Hermas (second century) set forth the first statement of a doctrine of purgatory, alleging that Christ after His death on the cross went to the underworld and preached to the spirits in prison (I Peter 3:19) and led them in triumph to heaven. Prayers for the dead appear in the early Christian liturgies and imply the doctrine since they suggest that the state of the dead is not yet fixed. Origen, the most learned of the early church fathers (died, 254 A. D.), taught, first, that a purification by fire was to take place after the resurrection, and second, a universal restoration, a purifying fire at the end of the world through which all men and angels were to be restored to favor with God. The priestly conception of the Christian ministry was introduced probably as early as 200 A. D., and with it came the idea that the sacrament of the mass availed for the dead."

        Some Eastern Orthodox sources, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate, consider Purgatory to be among:

        "inter-correlated theories, unwitnessed in the Bible or in the Ancient Church” that are not acceptable within Orthodox doctrine, and hold to a “condition of waiting” as a more apt description of the period after death for those not borne directly to heaven. This waiting condition does not imply purification, which they see as being linked to the idea “there is no hope of repentance or betterment after death.” Prayers for the dead, then, are simply to comfort those in the waiting place."

        The Roman bishop Gregory the Great is believed to have played a key role in the acceptance and development of Purgatory during the Medieval period:

        "Much, however, in Gregory fouls the sweetness of his instruction and his orthodoxy. As indicated, his allegory at time passes the bounds of outrageousness. Medieval interpretation suffered; formalization of his method closed Scripture to the laity. His credulous acceptance of stories of miracles performed by relics of the saints, sometimes of comical proportions and sometimes like the horror gimmicks of a slasher movie, helped create the massive burden of the medieval penitential system. Add to this his acceptance of the intercession of departed saints, his belief in the efficacy of masses for the dead, his anecdotal exposition of a state of purgatory, and his belief in the merits of pious works and a concoction alien to the biblical Gospel emerges. If for centuries Augustine of Hippo was read through the eyes of Gregory, it is no wonder that rediscoveries of the evangelical Augustine created such consternation in the sixteenth century." 

        The idea of indulgences stems forth from the dogma of Purgatory. Abuses within the Roman Catholic Church during the sixteenth century led up to the Protestant Reformation. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

        "While reasserting the place of indulgences in the salvific process, the Council of Trent condemned “all base gain for securing indulgences” in 1563, and Pope Pius V abolished the sale of indulgences in 1567. The system and its underlying theology otherwise remained intact. Exactly 400 years later, in 1967, Pope Paul VI modified it by shifting the stress away from the satisfaction of punishment to the inducement of good works, greatly reducing the number of plenary indulgences and eliminating the numerical system associated for so long with partial indulgences."

        The entire notion of doing good works in order to merit the grace of God runs contrary to Scripture. The sophisticated sacramental system of justification that the Roman Catholic Church imposes on its followers is a perversion of the simple gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. His shed blood is a foundational theme of the New Testament (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:18-21; 6:20; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19). With that being said, justification is a free gift of God (Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 2:8-9). His grace is unmerited. His grace is not something that we deserve. Jesus is our propitiation. We have peace with God by faith, not works (Romans 5:1-10). The idea that we can make amends for our own sin or for the sins of other people in the sight of God undermines the sufficiency of Christ's atonement sacrifice. To suggest that we must pay the penalty for sin even after it has been pardoned by God diminishes the efficacy of His atonement. That is a terribly inadequate and inconsistent view of forgiveness.

        Annually, thousands of Roman Catholics give money for Masses to be said for their deceased loved ones. Thus, we see how Purgatory in a sense makes God a respecter of persons (which contradicts what the Bible says regarding the character of God). Wealthier individuals can have more prayers and Masses said and so faster enter into heaven than those who are poorer. It wrongfully portrays God as judging on the basis of external factors rather than the heart. There is a purification process for believers on earth, which is through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:12-14). We are "complete" in Him (Colossians 2:10). There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1).

        How long does a person have to wait in Purgatory? How many prayers and Masses need to be said in order to get somebody out of Purgatory? If the Roman Catholic hierarchy is so generous, then how come it does not simply conduct all these Masses for free to get people out of that place? The doctrine is a travesty of the gospel. Purgatory is contrary to everything that the Bible says about salvation. The tradition is based on creative speculation on what happens to believers during the intermediate state.

A Quick Refutation Of The Roman Catholic History Argument

  • Discussion:
          -The Roman Catholic Church is known for making claims of possessing the fullness of God given truth, starting with the Lord Jesus Christ allegedly giving the authority of the keys exclusively to the Apostle Peter so as to start an unbroken chain of apostolic successors who preserved inspired tradition for the past 2,000 years. It is oftentimes claimed by apologists of Rome that the church fathers were unanimous in their acceptance of various distinctive Roman Catholic dogmas. Following are a handful of points to keep in mind when confronted with such propaganda:

          1.) Church history is descriptive, not prescriptive, in nature.

          2.) Age does not prove truth. Does Buddhism and Hinduism have more truth than Christianity just because they are older religions?

          3.) Even if we unanimously agreed to accept Papal authority, that would only eliminate doctrinal conflict in a question begging, tautological sense. That would still not reveal to us whether we should be in communion with the Roman Bishop (i.e. whether we are right or wrong in our decision making). A case for Roman Catholicism would still need to be made.

           4.) Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches make identical claims of being established directly by the Lord Jesus Christ, but maintain contradictory oral traditions and dispute each other's claims.

           5.) Heresy was present among the people of God even during the first century (Acts 20:28-32; 1 John 4:1-4).

           6.) The church fathers sometimes contradicted each other and themselves, which is the underlying reason for us not putting them on par with the authority of divine Scripture. These men, no matter how godly or theologically gifted, were not inspired by God. The writings of these people are not to be treated as a smokescreen against the plain reading of Scripture. Divine revelation exists independently of the writings of so-called church fathers.

           7.) Roman Catholics cannot know with certainty who exactly constitutes the church fathers, which early Christian writings are to be deemed authoritative, and that all of the father's teachings are correct without resorting to circular reasoning. For them, matters are thus because the Church of Rome declared them to be thus. That is circular reasoning.

            8.) If we can freely interpret the volumes of writings produced by the church fathers, the official Roman Catholic catechism, or encyclicals, then how come we cannot also make interpretations of Scripture? Only the cults demand blind submission to an earthly charismatic leader. If Roman Catholic apologists want to consistently apply their method of validating Roman Catholicism via history, then why not take things a step further? That means we start with the inspired writings of the New Testament and move onward from there.
         
            9.) We do not have every document written by each church father on every subject. Neither were we present in the early church to take surveys of what everybody believed. This demonstrates the Roman Catholic claim of unanimous consensus in church history to be vacuous.

Monday, February 18, 2019

God's Free Gift Of Justification

IGNORANCE: Do you think that I am such a fool as to think that God can see no further than I; or that I would come to God in the best of my performances?

CHRISTIAN: Why, how dost thou think in this matter?

IGNORANCE: Why, to be short, I think I must believe in Christ for justification.

CHRISTIAN: How! think thou must believe in Christ, when thou seest not thy need of him! Thou neither seest thy original nor actual infirmities; but hast such an opinion of thyself, and of what thou doest, as plainly renders thee to be one that did never see the necessity of Christ's personal righteousness to justify thee before God. How, then, dost thou say, I believe in Christ?

IGNORANCE: I believe well enough, for all that.

CHRISTIAN: How dost thou believe?

IGNORANCE: I believe that Christ died for sinners; and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his laws. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father by virtue of his merits, and so shall I be justified.

CHRISTIAN: Let me give an answer to this confession of thy faith.

1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is nowhere described in the word.

2. Thou believest with a false faith; because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own.

3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy action's sake, which is false.

4. Therefore this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty: for true justifying faith puts the soul, as sensible of its lost condition by the law, upon flying for refuge unto Christ's righteousness; (which righteousness of his is not an act of grace by which he maketh, for justification, thy obedience accepted with God, but his personal obedience to the law, in doing and suffering for us what that required at our hands;) this righteousness, I say, true faith accepteth; under the skirt of which the soul being shrouded, and by it presented as spotless before God, it is accepted, and acquitted from condemnation.

IGNORANCE: What! would you have us trust to what Christ in his own person has done without us? This conceit would loosen the reins of our lust, and tolerate us to live as we list: for what matter how we live, if we may be justified by Christ's personal righteousness from all, when we believe it?

CHRISTIAN: Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is, so art thou: even this thy answer demonstrateth what I say. Ignorant thou art of what justifying righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul, through the faith of it, from the heavy wrath of God. Yea, thou also art ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ, which is to bow and win over the heart to God in Christ, to love his name, his word, ways, and people, and not as thou ignorantly imaginest....

Now, while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half the difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place one Vain-Hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate; only he came alone, neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence come you? and what would you have? He answered, I have ate and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King: so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? but the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two shining ones, that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the city, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction.

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Evidence For An Early New Testament Canon

"1 Clement, written in AD 95 cites NT texts as equal in authority to those of the OT. Papias of Hieropolis, himself a disciple of John the Apostle, who lived from AD 60 to 120, describes the NT books and their authors, accepting them as having the same authority as the OT books. Other early Church Fathers such as Saint Ignatius of Antioch (martyred in AD 108), Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 130-202), and Tertullian of Carthage (AD 155-240) all quoted from the NT books we have today as equal in authority to the books of the OT Canon. The archeological evidence follows suit with this literary evidence: the Muratorian Fragment (AD 155-200) and what are called the “Anti-Marcionite Prologues” (late second century AD) all attest to a second century church that already had a very good idea as to what was included and what was not included in the canon of Scripture."

http://isitinthebible.com/general/Canon_of_the_Bible.pdf

Friday, February 15, 2019

How Come People Cannot Be Saved After Death?

  • Discussion:
          -Although the notion of having a second chance for salvation after death may sound plausible, the Scriptures emphatically teach that our fate is sealed at the moment of physical death. Consider this excerpt from the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man:

          "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us." (Luke 16:22-26)

          It is clear from the cited passage above that there are no additional chances for salvation when the souls of men enter the direct presence of God. Every person will face Him either as Savior or as Judge. We all have an upcoming appointment with Deity. And that day is inescapable. Thus, those who do not trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be eternally condemned. Hebrews 9:27 and Revelation 20:11-15 also reflect these biblical truths. What needs to be understood is that God does not have to save any of us from our sins. His offers to us eternal life because He is loving and merciful. The better question to ask is not why man cannot be saved after death, but why God ought to save anyone at all? This is simply the way things are. God tells us that we will not have another opportunity to repent after death. So right now is the best time to repent of sin. Today is the day of redemption.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Sermonette On Humility

        What is humility? There is a popular misconception that it means a man believing himself to be intellectually inferior or physically unappealing. But the reality of the matter is that having such low confidence in oneself does not amount to humility at all. That is a blatant falsehood. In fact, continually remaining in such a poor emotional state comes from an addiction to pity. Knowing what humility is and putting that correct understanding into practice is a foundational aspect of having a relationship with God. Knowing what humility is and putting that correct understanding into practice will shape how we regularly conduct ourselves.

        True humility involves people not making themselves the center of attention. It entails people not doing good deeds just to be seen of men, but for the genuine benefit of others. It necessitates people doing good for the sake of goodness, not to bolster one's own ego. It means putting other people before ourselves. It entails that a person not overestimate his or her own abilities. Humility requires self-discipline. Humility requires self-sacrifice. Humility is required in order to be a truly virtuous person. This characteristic de-emphasizes the self (not implying that the individual is unimportant, as one must be able to assist self before he or she can do the same for others).

         Another element worthy of discussion within the context of humility is that we as human beings have a tendency to compare ourselves to other people. If we discover that we have greater talents than somebody else, then we are prone to develop a triumphalistic attitude. We become puffed-up. If we find out that somebody else has greater talents than do we, then our sense of dignity is prone to be injured. We become jealous and angry. Our feelings are hurt. In either result, this notion of people comparing themselves to others is spiritually detrimental. It is rooted in fleshly lusts. It is a hopeless attempt to find a reason to preserve arrogance. But God is perfection. If we truly wish to better ourselves, then we must turn to Him and make great efforts to follow His perfect moral example. We must allow Him to transform our hearts and minds. We should use whatever gifts that God has bestowed upon us in a manner that glorifies His eternal name.

         Having a heart and mind consumed by arrogance is a dangerous thing. If a person does not humbly submit to God, then how can he or she recognize the need of salvation? In remaining prideful, individuals essentially make themselves their own gods. They are essentially saying that God is unnecessary. That is idolatry. Pride is the root of evil. Pride is injurious to relationships with family and friends. Pride by its very nature is destructive.

College Is Not A Right

"The idea that college in particular should be free is not only absurd and unworkable but incredibly offensive to any self-sufficient adult (a small minority, I admit). I’ve got news for you, my fellow young people, college isn’t a human right. It’s also not a necessity. I pay a mortgage and support a family of four by myself, with no government handouts, and I do it without a college degree. It is possible. If you can’t afford college — and God knows it’s obscenely expensive and not worth the investment for most people — don’t go. Forge your own path. Think for yourself. Do something different with your life. You really want to drive down college costs? That’s how you do it. You can eliminate your own college expenses by simply choosing not to take on any college expenses. Crazy how that works, isn’t it? But that’s not what liberals want to hear. They want to hear about the crusty old socialist genie who will make free stuff appear out of thin air."

Matt Walsh

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Who Will Stop The Profitable Industry Of Junk Science?

"Should we believe the headline, “Drinking four cups of coffee daily lowers risk of death”? How about, “Mouthwash May Trigger Diabetes. . .”? Should we really eat more, not less, fat? And what should we make of data that suggest people with spouses live longer? These sorts of conclusions, from supposedly scientific studies, seem to vary from month to month, leading to ever-shifting “expert” recommendations. However, most of their admonitions are based on flawed research that produces results worthy of daytime TV.

Misleading research is costly to society directly because much of it is supported by the federal government, and indirectly, when it gives rise to unwise, harmful public policy.

Social science studies are notorious offenders. A landmark study in the journal Nature Human Behaviour in August reported the results of efforts to replicate 21 social science studies published in the prestigious journals Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015.

The multi-national team actually “conducted high-powered replications of the 21 experimental social science….One out of the four Nature papers and seven of the seventeen Science papers evaluated did not replicate, a shocking result for two prestigious scientific journals. The authors noted two kinds of flaws in the original studies: false positives and inflated effect sizes.

Science is supposed to be self-correcting. Smart editors. Peer review. Competition from other labs. But when we see that university research…are so often wrong, there must be systematic problems. One of them is outright fraud – “advocacy research” that has methodological flaws or intentionally misinterprets the results.

Another is the abject failure of peer review, which is especially prevalent at “social science” journals. The tale of three scholars who tested the integrity of journals’ peer review is revealing. They wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions, and tried to get them placed in high-profile journals in fields including gender studies, queer studies, and fat studies. Their success rate was remarkable: By the time they took their experiment public on [October 2nd], seven of their articles had been accepted for publication by ostensibly serious peer-reviewed journals. Seven more were still going through various stages of the review process. Only six had been rejected.

The articles were designed to be an easy call for reviewers to reject. For example, one dismissed “western astronomy” as sexist and imperialist, and made a case for physics departments to study feminist astrology or practice interpretative dance instead.

In the absence of outright, proven fraud or plagiarism, universities provide little oversight over their scientists, in contrast to industry where monitoring quality-control is de rigeur. Universities claim that peer review is sufficient, but as discussed above, in many fields, it is unreliable, or at best, spotty. The peers are in on the game. In a research-publishing version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, editors wink and nod if the researcher seems to be following the rules. And there are no consequences if a researcher’s findings are repudiated by others’ subsequent research. Their ultimate product is a published paper. The way the game operates is publish, get grants (thanks, taxpayers) and progress up the academic ladder."

https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2018/11/26/junk_science_has_become_a_profitable_industry_110810.html

Saturday, February 9, 2019

New Poll Reveals Evolution’s Corrosive Impact On Beliefs About Human Uniqueness

The following excerpt was taken from a survey conducted by the Discovery Institute:

From the earliest days of civilization, humans have considered themselves exceptional among living creatures. But a new survey of more than 3,400 American adults indicates that the theory of evolution is beginning to erode that belief in humanity’s unique status and dignity. 

According to the survey, 43% of Americans now agree that “Evolution shows that no living thing is more important than any other,” and 45% of Americans believe that “Evolution shows that human beings are not fundamentally different from other animals.” The highest levels of support for the idea that evolution shows that humans aren’t fundamentally different from other animals are found among self-identified atheists (69%), agnostics (60%), 18 to 29 year-olds (51%), and those who live in New England (51%) and the Pacific region (50%). 

The theory of evolution is also reshaping how people think about morality. A majority of Americans (55%) now contend that “Evolution shows that moral beliefs evolve over time based on their survival value in various times and places.” About 7 in 10 (71%) of self-described atheists embrace this idea, as do 68% of self-described agnostics, 58% of 18-29 year-olds and those over 60, 58% of those who live in the MidAtlantic region, and 57% of those who live in the Pacific region. 

“Since the rise of Darwin’s theory, leading scientists and other thinkers have insisted that human beings are just another animal, and that morality evolves based on survival of the fittest,” says historian Richard Weikart, author of the new book The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life. “What this new survey shows is just how pervasive these ideas have become in our culture. Many people no doubt continue to believe that humans are unique, but most do not think that evolution supports that position. Many critics of my earlier scholarship will be disconcerted to see this data, which powerfully supports my arguments about the way that Darwinism devalues human life, a key point I explain further in my new book.”

Friday, February 8, 2019

Church Fathers On The Eucharistic Sacrifice

Question: Did the early Christians recognize the Eucharist as a sacrifice?

Answer: Yes they did. Even in apostolic times, the author of Hebrews writes: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). This verse is not a direct reference to the Eucharist, but the principle certainly applies, for during the Lord’s Supper, Christians praise and thank God for the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Indeed our English term “Eucharist” is derived from the Greek word “eucharistia” which means “gratitude, thanks giving.” Jesus gave thanks (eucharisteo) when he took the bread and the wine (Matthew 26:27, Luke 22:19).

In this sense the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. This, however, is altogether different from the “sacrifice of the mass” of the Roman church. Whereas the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges the Eucharist as “a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving” (paragraphs 1359-3361), the Roman position goes well beyond that. It teaches that the Eucharist is a propitiatory sacrifice, that is, a sacrifice that atones for sin. The Council of Trent defines the issue:

“If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema” (Session 22, Canon 3).

The mass is said to be something more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is properly a “propitiatory sacrifice” - that is, a sacrifice offered “for sins.” “The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God…to appease Him, make Him due satisfaction for our sins, and to help the souls in Purgatory, and hence it is called Propitiatory” (Catechism of St Pius X).

This goes beyond Scripture which describes the Eucharist as a “memorial” and a “proclamation” of the Lord’s death, but never as a sin offering. Moreover the Scripture refutes the idea that Christ’s sacrifice is daily re-presented and renewed. On the contrary the Bible asserts that His sacrifice is complete and finished. “This man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).

Catholic apologists claim that the early church fathers support the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass. They list quotations from early church writings that include the word “sacrifice” in connection with the Eucharist. Unaware of the distinction between a propitiatory sacrifice and a sacrifice of praise, many unsuspecting readers fall into the trap. Take this quotation from an early church document as an example:

“But on the Lord's day, after that ye have assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let not any one who hath a quarrel with his companion join with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be polluted, for it is that which is spoken of by the Lord. In every place and time offer unto me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the Gentiles” (Didache, chapter 14).

Is there anything in the text that compels us to understand “sacrifice” in a propitiatory sense? The reference to the Book of Malachi suggests that the sacrifice is not propitiatory for Malachi uses the word “minchah” which according to Strong’s definition, it is usually a bloodless and voluntary offering. Moreover, the context in the Didache is highly suggestive of a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: ‘break bread and give thanks…that your sacrifice may be pure.’

Referring to Malachi’s prophecy and the Eucharist, Justin Martyr writes: “Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him….Now, that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I also admit. For such alone Christians have undertaken to offer, and in the remembrance effected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of the Son of God which He endured is brought to mind…” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho).

Evangelicals concur: the Eucharist is a sacrifice insofar as we offer our thanksgiving for what Christ has done for us. The Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise, and a remembrance of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Augustine writes: “Before the coming of Christ, the flesh and blood of this sacrifice were foreshadowed in the animals slain; in the passion of Christ the types were fulfilled by the true sacrifice; after the ascension of Christ, this sacrifice is commemorated in the sacrament (Augustine, Contra Faustus, XX)

The claim that the Eucharist is also a propitiatory sacrifice is not supported by the Scripture. Like Evangelicals today, the early Christians considered the Eucharist as a sacrifice of praise.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. BACK TO Q&A

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

No Such Thing As "Junk DNA"

Scientists have once and for all swept away any notion of “junk DNA” by showing that that the vast majority of the human genome does after all have a vital function by regulating the genes that build and maintain the body.

Junk DNA was a term coined 40 years ago to describe the part of the genome that does not contain any genes, the individual instructions for making the body’s vital proteins. Now, this vast genetic landscape could hold hidden clues to eradicating human disease, scientists said.

Hundreds of researchers from 32 institutes around the world collaborated on the immense effort to decipher the hidden messages within the 98 per cent of the human genome without any genes and was thought, therefore, to have no function.

They have concluded in a series of 30 research papers published simultaneously today, in Nature, Science and other journals, that this so-called junk DNA is in fact an elaborate patchwork of regulatory sequences that act as a huge operating system for controlling the gnome.

Knowledge gained from this important insight, which has been largely hidden from view ever since the structure of DNA was revealed nearly 60 years ago, will prove critical to the future treatment of more than 400 diseases, scientists said.

[...]

Deciphering the human genome revealed that less than 2 per cent of the 3 billion building blocks of human DNA actually consists of working genes. The ENCODE consortium has shown that the rest of the genome still has an active, biochemical function in the cells of the body.

“We see that 80 per cent of the genome is actively doing something. We found that a much bigger part of the genome - a surprising amount in fact - is involved in controlling when and where proteins are produced,” he said.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Understanding Biblical Forgiveness

       Have you ever felt as though you held persistent resentment toward another person who had wronged you in some way? If so, then it may very well be appropriate to conduct a thematic biblical study on what it means to forgive. First of all, it should be stated emphatically that anger is generally not an easy emotion to control and soothe. We have to admit to ourselves that we have all been treated unfairly at some point in time. We have to admit that we have been ridiculed. We have been mocked. We have been slandered. In short, we have all been offended. Some incidents are entirely accidental, whereas others are provoked intentionally. But what does it mean to offer forgiveness? Is it a necessary option? Why is it even important that we be reconciled with each other? What can be affirmed beyond any reasonable doubt is that the world cannot function in harmony without a personal examination of our consciences to see whether we are in an unwarranted manner holding past grievances committed against us.

       The scriptural definition of forgiveness means to not count an evil action against a guilty party. It means to grant pardon to an individual. It means to not plot revenge against the person who has engaged in offensive speech or conduct. It means to not hold any record of debt. Forgiveness involves the restoration of a person from his or her previous state of indignation. It is an act of love. It is an act of kindness. It is an act of compassion. It is an act of grace. It is not deserved. It is an act of will. It is done deliberately (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiveness of another person necessarily involves a change in attitude. It necessarily denotes a change in heart toward another person. It involves not dwelling on our past situations. Furthermore, the forgiveness offered by God involves Him erasing our debt of transgressions committed against Him (1 John 1:7-9). The characteristics of hate, contempt, and hostility are contrary to the ways of forgiveness. The person who has delivered an insult should never be regarded in ill-will. Forgiveness, on the other hand, does not require that we condone what has been said or done to us. Measures may still need to be taken, depending on the situational context of the relationship. We should always strive for resolution. It is conditional, namely in that wrongdoers should openly repent of their misdeeds (Luke 17:3-4). We can also overlook another person's misbehavior. To forgive means to cease showing malice or resent toward another person for a mistake or offense.

       Unjustly withholding forgiveness to whom it is due can have drastic repercussions on both personal relationships and civilization on a large scale. If we allow our anger to continually scorch our hearts, then we will only act bitterly and defile the people around us. The Scriptures clearly warn against not striving to live peacefully with other people (Ephesians 4:31-32; Hebrews 12:14-15), and for good reason. In fact, unchecked anger is defilement in itself. A contentious relationship cannot successfully thrive because it closes the gates of compromise. It blocks any entry of human reason. It constipates any influx of God's grace. Consequently, the situation will be rendered unworkable. Malice and strife can only hinder one from listening, and thereby from understanding the presented issues at hand. An unforgiving heart will only hold on to its subjective perception of reality. This is why the opposing sides of a vindictive matter tend to willfully misrepresent each other. At this moment, we have investigated the practical side of revealing clemency to the people who have repented of any possible mistreatment against us. Now, think of the aforementioned details in the context of family. This could lead to ruthless and unnecessary separation. It could lead to the destruction of property, and even lives. Allowing the flames of hatred to continually brew in our hearts can only lead up to the deterioration of good and moral values (these emotional fumes need to be quenched by the waters of God's mercy). Think of this scenario in the much broader spectrum of society, which comprises of families in different classes. This would only result in war. It would only result in hopeless anarchy. We need to admit when we are wrong. It can never be stated sufficiently that we should repent of past evils, and strive to be reconciled with each other.

       What if a person is unable to forgive himself or herself for previously committed reprehensible deeds? Well, we are not required to forgive ourselves. God will bring them to a state of peace and forgiveness at the appointed time. What ultimately matters is that we accept the forgiveness of God as provided through the expiatory work of His Son Jesus Christ. What matters is that God lovingly provided us a way to escape eternal separation from Him in hell. We should find comfort in that fact. We should find joy in that fact. We should find peace in that fact. We should repent of our sins against God and each other. We should choose to forgive others, as God has chosen to forgive us for our trespasses against Him (Matthew 6:14-15). We should aim at being reconciled with each other, as God desires to be reconciled with us. We should not permit our emotions to prevent us from moving forward with our lives. We can assist the people who are struggling with the concept of forgiveness by simply making ourselves available listeners to those afflicted and by showing gentleness. To be in a constant state of anger, bitterness, and malice is not an earmark of Christian piety. It reveals a state of poor spiritual health. Forgiveness comes from the heart (Matthew 18:35). We should be inclined to forgive because God has forgiven us. 

       Having discussed what it means to forgive, why it matters, and the negative consequences of holding grudges, it nevertheless remains crucial to summarize the discussion in conclusionary format. Forgiveness springs forth from love, which constitutes the foundation of the Christian religion. Forgiveness is the very root of the gospel. It is because of God offering His Son Jesus Christ as the final propitiatory sacrifice that He is able to forgive and remove our iniquity from us. It is because of mercy that friendships can be restored. It is because of forgiveness that we are able to peacefully progress in our lives. It is because of forgiveness that the world even has a sense of tranquility. Forgiveness is a quintessential aspect of the Christian walk. It has never been morally permissible for us to display hatred and spite because it is contrary to the principles of the gospel. We know that allowing anger to brew in our hearts for prolonged periods of time will always have a negative aftermath. We should forgive, as God has forgiven us. However, this does not mean that we must tolerate or accept what other people have said or done to us. Cutting ties may certainly be a necessary safety precaution. We must repent from the heart of our sins, and offer forgiveness to those who have offended us in some way and also repented.

Monday, February 4, 2019

How Can You Trust Christianity Is True When There Are So Many Unanswered Questions?

Following is an excerpt from Cold Case Christianity:

After a long career as a cold-case detective, I’ve learned to get comfortable with unanswered questions. In fact, I’ve never investigated or presented a case to a jury that wasn’t plagued with a number of mysteries. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, there is no such thing as a perfect case; every case has unanswered questions. In fact, when we seat a jury for a criminal trial, we often ask the prospective jurors if they are going to be comfortable making a decision without complete information. If potential jurors can’t envision themselves making a decision unless they can remove every possible doubt (and answer every possible question), we’ll do our best to make sure they don’t serve on our panel. Every case is imperfect; there are no cases devoid of unanswered questions. Every juror is asked to make a decision, even though the evidential case will be less than complete. As detectives and prosecutors, we do our best to be thorough and present enough evidence so jurors can arrive at the most reasonable inference. But, if you need “beyond a possible doubt,” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you’re not ready to sit on a jury. The standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a good reason; no case is evidentially complete; no case maker can eliminate every possible reservation.

Christians, like jurors, need to get comfortable with unanswered questions. Every worldview has them. As an atheist, I struggled to answer a number of critical questions from my materialistic, naturalistic worldview: How did the universe originate? Why does the universe appear fine-tuned? How did life begin in the universe? Why does biology appear designed? How did our immaterial minds emerge from the material universe? How can I explain free will and objective moral truth? As a philosophical naturalist, my answers to these questions were little more than subjective speculation. My worldview was incomplete at the most foundational level. I had many unanswered questions, yet hung on to my atheistic perspective in spite of these mysteries. Every one of us clings to a worldview for which we have less than complete information. Every one of us has a series of unanswered questions.

As a theist and as a Christian, I am far more comfortable with my unanswered questions than I used to be as an atheist. My questions are fewer and less foundational. They are related more to non-essential issues than critical, core claims. The evidence I have points me in a given direction, and the gap between what I have and what I would like is much shorter than it used to be...

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Biblical Refutation Of Open Theism

  • Discussion:
           -The online Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines open theism (also referred to as openness theology or free will theism) in the following manner:

           "Open Theism is the thesis that, because God loves us and desires that we freely choose to reciprocate His love, He has made His knowledge of, and plans for, the future conditional upon our actions. Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future. Though omnipotent, He has chosen to invite us to freely collaborate with Him in governing and developing His creation, thereby also allowing us the freedom to thwart His hopes for us. God desires that each of us freely enter into a loving and dynamic personal relationship with Him, and He has therefore left it open to us to choose for or against His will."

           Let it first be said that the notion of God having imperfect knowledge of the future is heresy and illogical for the Christian to uphold at best. If open theism is true, then we have a number of problems which are articulated as follows:

            * God must learn, as He would not know what decisions people could make in the future.
            * God could be wrong about something, as He has no way of knowing what decisions people could make at a later point in time. Whatever He plans could be thwarted.
            * If open theism is true, then God cannot simply be all-knowing. If He is not all-knowing, then it is difficult to see how He can be all-powerful. You cannot say that God is omniscient (meaning that He knows all things) and then affirm that God does not know something in the very next breath. That is affirming A and not A at the same time in the same relationship. Consequently, it would be rather difficult to trust in the reliability of biblical prophecy. It would also be difficult to trust that God could accurately answer our prayers.

           Even a cursory glimpse at Scripture is sufficient to expose the errors of open theism. The Bible outrightly states that God knows the future perfectly (Psalm 139:4; 16; Isaiah 46:9-10; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 26:34; 1 John 3:20). Nothing is beyond His comprehension (Psalm 147:5). Nothing is hidden from His sight (Hebrews 4:13). While proponents of open theism may adamantly contend that their system of thought does not undermine the sovereignty of God, that is precisely what this theology does. It flies right in the face of His glory and majesty. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. There are no limits to the depths of His wisdom. If open theism is true, then the God of the Bible would not be any different than the idols worshiped by pagans (Isaiah 41:22-23).