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Sunday, March 31, 2019

False Prophets In Our Modern Age

"So many are claiming to be hearing directly from God these days that one has to wonder why the Holy Spirit even bothered to inspire the sacred writings to begin with!"

Gary E. Gilley, “Why Definitions Matter: The Importance of Using Words That Communicate Biblical Truth,” The Quarterly Journal, April-June 2019, pg.17

Early Church Evidence Against Transubstantiation

  • Discussion:
          -Following is an excerpt from The Octavius of Minucius Felix on the Lord's Supper and the charge of cannibalism (a dialogue between a Christian and a pagan), chapter XXX:

          "And now I should wish to meet him who says or believes that we are initiated by the slaughter and blood of an infant. Think you that it can be possible for so tender, so little a body to receive those fatal wounds; for any one to shed, pour forth, and drain that new blood of a youngling, and of a man scarcley come into existence? No one can believe this, except one who can dare to do it. And I see that you at one time expose your begotten children to wild beasts and to birds; at another, that you crush them when strangled with a miserable kind of death. There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels, and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come don from the teaching of your gods. For Saturn did not expose his children, but devoured them. With reason were infants sacrificed to him by parents in some parts of Africa, caresses and kisses repressing their crying, that a weeping victim might not be sacrificed. Moreover, among the Tauri of Pontus, and to the Egyptian Busiris, it was a sacred rite to immolate their guests, and for the Galli to slaughter to Mercury human, or rather inhuman, sacrifices. The Roman sacrificers buried living a Greek man and a Greek woman, a Gallic man and a Gallic woman; and to this day, Jupiter Latiaris is worshiped by them with murder; and, what is worthy of the son of Saturn, he is gorged with the blood of an evil and criminal man. I believe that he himself taught Catiline to conspire under a compact of blood, and Bellona to steep her sacred rites with a draught of human gore, and taught men to heal epilepsy with the blood of a man, that is, with a worse disease. They also are not unlike to him who devour the wild beasts from the arena, besmeared and stained with blood, or fattened with the limbs or the entrails of men. To us it is not lawful either to see or to hear of homicide; and so much do we shrink from human blood, that we do not use the blood even of eatable animals in our food."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Philosophical Dilemma For Unitarian Theology

"...the Trinity helps us understand how love has existed from all eternity. The New Testament says God is love (1 John 4:16). But how can love exist in a rigid monotheistic being? There's no one else to love! Tri-unity in the Godhead solves the problem. After all, to have love, there must be a lover (the Father), a loved one (the Son), and a spirit of love (the Holy Spirit). Because of this triune nature, God has existed eternally in a perfect fellowship of love. He is the perfect being who lacks nothing, not even love. Since he lacks nothing, God didn't need to to create human beings for any reason he wasn't lonely, as some preachers have been known to say). He simply chose to create us, and loves us in accordance to his loving nature."

Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 353

The Lord Jesus Christ's Use Of Parables

"In responding to the Pharisees' complaint that Jesus is receiving and dining with sinners (Luke 15:2), Jesus tells three parables-the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke 15:4-32). The implication is that Jesus is doing what the Old Testament says God does: he is a shepherd who welcomes home repentant sinners (Ezek. 34:11; Ps. 103:8-13). (Incidentally, the Pharisees are represented by the complaining older son in the parable of the prodigal son. The Pharisees, like the older son, mistakenly think they deserve the father's gifts because of their good works. So this parable not only affirms the deity of Christ but also teaches that salvation is a free gift of God that cannot be earned, only accepted.)"

Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 343

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Worship Of Dead Men's Bones?

"In cities across the country, large crowds brought their written prayer petitions and touched them to the glass for a few seconds, then deposited them in baskets that would later be distributed to contemplative communities across Canada....One club member, who spent 12 hours ushering people to the relic, left at the end of the day with tears rolling down his cheeks. He told us it had been the most important day of his life. There were many others like him.

When I had my first of many media interviews, I tried to explain why Catholics were coming out to see a mummified arm. I told reporters that it is very Catholic to have a spiritual experience through tangible things, that our whole sacramental system is premised on an incarnational outlook. Since we believe “the Word became flesh,” it is not much of a stretch to believe that the material and the flesh can lead us back to the Word. I said that Catholics have deep instincts and long memories and that the saints evoke ancestral graces.

I was asked to give talks in the cities we visited, unpacking Xavier’s life and explaining the theological roots of our tradition of venerating relics. I learned it was a deeply scriptural practice, going back to the Old Testament when a dead man was mysteriously restored to life when he was laid on the bones of Elijah. The Jewish instinct for recognizing God at work in the material world is retained in the Gospels, as when Jesus spits onto his thumbs and rubs them on a blind man’s eyes, restoring his sight. It occurs when the woman with the hemorrhage knows she needs only to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment to be healed. The early church, too, would care for the bones of the beloved departed and observed special graces connected to their presence.

[...]

While we are a little light on saintly ossuaries in North America, Europe is covered with shrines and tombs that testify to the long-enduring Christian belief in the intercession of saints through the veneration of their earthly remains. Yet even in Canada, the bones of Br├ębeuf himself are visited by hundreds of thousands every year in Midland, Ontario. The instinct may be buried, but the pull of the sacred relics endures.

...that the saints will always be with us, spending their time in heaven quite active on earth. We activate their power by saying their names and spending time with them. It is part of the mystery of belonging to the great family of believers spanning earth and heaven, all laboring together for our collective good."

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/07/19/how-465-year-old-arm-st-francis-xavier-brought-faith-and-healing-canada

Why The Ascension Is Important

"Jesus’ ascension refers to His going to a special place for a special purpose. He goes to the Father, to the Father’s right hand. He rises to the seat of cosmic authority.

Jesus goes to heaven for His coronation, His confirmation as the King of Kings. Jesus also ascended to enter the heavenly Holy of Holies to continue His work as our great High Priest. In heaven Jesus reigns as King and intercedes for us as our High Priest. From His position of ascended authority He poured out His Spirit upon the church. John Calvin remarked,

“Being raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth more immediately by his power” (Institutes 2.16.14). 

When Jesus ascended to heaven for His coronation as King of Kings, He was seated at the right hand of God. The right hand of God is the seat of authority. From this position Jesus rules, administrates His kingdom, and presides as the judge of heaven and earth.

At the right hand of the Father, Jesus is seated as the Head of His body, the church. Yet in this position, Jesus’ authority and governmental jurisdiction and administration extend beyond the sphere of His church to embrace the whole world. Though church and state may be distinguished within Jesus’ domain, they are never separated or divorced. His authority extends over both. All earthly rulers are accountable to Him and will be judged by Him in His office as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Everyone in heaven and on earth is called of God to reverence Jesus’ majesty, to be ruled by His hand, to do Him proper homage, and to submit to His power. Everyone will ultimately stand before Him as He sits in final judgment.

Jesus has the authority to pour out His Holy Spirit upon the church. But Jesus did not pour out the Spirit until He was first seated at the right hand of God. The Spirit ministers in subordination to the Father and the Son, who together sent Him to apply Christ’s work of salvation to believers.

While seated at the right hand of God, Jesus not only exercises His role as King of Kings, He also fulfills the role of cosmic judge. He is judge over all nations and all people. Although Jesus rules as our judge, He has also been appointed by the Father to be our advocate. He is our defense attorney. At the last judgment our court-appointed defense lawyer will be the presiding judge. A foretaste of Jesus’ intercession on behalf of saints can be seen in the martyrdom of Stephen:

“But he [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55–56)."

R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

Monday, March 25, 2019

Is The Old Testament Still Necessary?

  • Discussion:
          -Megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley once made the claim that Christians needed to "unhitch" themselves from the Old Testament. Apparently, He made that statement during a sermon in an effort to shift the attention of believers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and get apostates to consider reversion. But such a suggestion actually does the Christian church a disservice, for the New Testament is based on the Old Testament.

          It is precisely because of the Old Testament that we know the problem of mankind is sin. The Old Testament reveals in depth the reason for God sending His Son into this world. Hence, it is precisely because of the Old Testament that we are able to have a correct understanding of God's love and forgiveness. Apart from the Old Testament, we could not learn to have a proper relationship with God. The gospel and the New Testament would sound irrational.

          The New Testament was never meant to stand independently of the Old Testament. Both were breathed out by God. The New Testament is rooted in history as is the Old. In fact, both Jesus and Paul accepted the validity of the Old Testament (Mark 10:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The inspired authors of the New Testament epistles repeatedly quoted from the Old Testament. Paul said that the Old Testament Scriptures were written to encourage and instruct us (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). The Old Testament Scriptures testify of Christ (Luke 16:29-31). All Scripture is profitable for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16).

           While it is true that Christians are free from the Law, that does not make the Old Testament irrelevant to our lives. We absolutely do need to know it. So, the idea that Christians need to "unhitch" themselves from the Old Testament is not godly counsel at all.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Powerful Biblical Argument Against Soul Sleep

  • Discussion:
          -"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak." (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)

          It takes no effort to see from this passage of Scripture that the Apostle Paul did not think leaving the body meant a loss of consciousness. We are given no commentary as to how this out of body experience was. It may very well be a reference to Paul's conversion on a journey to Damascus. Nevertheless, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 is problematic for soul sleep proponents because it shows us that a separation of body and soul does not denote a loss of consciousness. The man remained aware of his surroundings despite him being separated from his body. 

A Christian Response To Animal Rights Activism

        Animal rights activists are well-known for their radical stances against us treating other creatures as our property, using them in scientific experimentation, and consuming their flesh. In other words, it is maintained by people who uphold this position that we should not utilize animals for such purposes. Some who campaign for animal rights even believe that the critters that they so defend should be granted the same rights as people. The reasoning behind all this argumentation is that us using animals for our benefit results in their pain and suffering. However, modern-day animal rights activism is far removed from a biblical foundation, and is in reality a house of cards.

        The most basic problem with animal rights activism is that it is simply not workable. It is not a livable philosophy. If people who advocate for animal rights were to achieve their goal of imposing their beliefs and values on us, then life as we know it would become dysfunctional. Consider the following points. Leather is a made from animal skins. A great deal of our clothing is made up of animal furs. Tires, shampoos, and toothpastes also contain animal ingredients. Thus, taking up an animal rights activist mindset would require us to make numerous modifications to fundamental aspects of our lives.

         If we endorse animal rights activism, then what are we to do with all the carnivorous animals? If we are mere animals, then what objective basis would there be for us to not eat meat? If we were to join the animal rights movement, then why not also establish a plant rights activist movement? If animals are to be treated in the same manner as humans, then they also need to be held to our standards of punishment when caught misbehaving (which would cause them pain and suffering). It is also ironic to note that many animal rights activists are supportive of abortion.

         So, how are we supposed to treat animals? The answer to that question depends on the moral principles we hold. Ethics always begins with a standard. Christians use the Bible as the final court of authority in spiritual discernment. Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This is why Scripture prescribes the death penalty for murder. But the eating of plants and animals has been permitted by God. We have been called to exercise good stewardship over His creation, which includes animals. Animals are not to be killed to the point of extinction. Animals are not to be treated cruelly. The reason that animals cannot have rights is that they are unable to make free choices and act with moral accountability.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Wickedness Of Planned Parenthood

"Our goal is to be ready as educators and parents to help young people obtain sex satisfaction before marriage. By sanctioning sex before marriage, we will prevent fear and guilt." (Planned Parenthood News Summer 1953, p. 10, cited in Grand Illusions, p. 110, Understanding the Times, p. 211, Children at Risk, p. 26)

"According to [a Planned Parenthood survey] teens who have taken comprehensive sex education courses have a fifty percent higher rate of sexual activity than their unenlightened peers." (Grand Illusions, p. 32)

"If you're not supposed to go after a girl for sex, what are you supposed to do?" (The Problem with Puberty Planned Parenthood Education, cited in Women Exploited, p. 26)

"There are only two basic kinds of sex: sex with victims and sex without. Sex with victims is always wrong. Sex without victims is always right...One way to avoid having victims is, of course, to have sexual relationships only with your friends." (You've Changed the Combination, p. 10-12, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood quoted in the The Myth of Separation, p. 70, also Grand Illusions, p. 111, Understanding the Times, p. 211)

"Sex is fun and joyful, and courting is fun and joyful, and it comes in all types and styles, all of which are OK. Do what gives pleasure and ask for what gives pleasure. Don't rob yourself of joy by focusing in old-fashioned ideas about whats "normal or "nice". Just communicate and enjoy." (The Great Orgasm Robbery Planned Parenthood publication, cited in Women Exploited, p. 26)

"A popular [Planned Parenthood] sex instructional program for junior high school students, aged 13 and 14, shows film strips of four naked couples, two homosexual and two heterosexual, performing a variety of sexually explicit acts, and teachers are warned with a cautionary note from the sex educators not to show the material to parents or friends: Many of the materials of this program itself can evoke understanding and difficulties." (The Vision of the Anointed, p. 20)

Books by Wardell B. Pomeroy, Ph.D., and recommended by Planned Parenthood for sex education:

Boys and Sex:

"More and more people are coming to understand that having sex is a joyful and enriching experience at any age." (p. 2)

"Playing with girls sexually before adolescence...increases the chances for a satisfactory sex life when a boy grows up." (p. 38)

"Premarital intercourse among adolescents is often helpful in later life because it's easier to learn things in our earlier years." (p. 118)

"When people want to get close to each other, intercourse is the closes they can get." (p. 129)

Girls and Sex:

"Girls understand now that they are far more likely to make good social and sexual adjustments to life if they learn to be warm, open responsive, and sexually unafraid. They're learning to be sexual partners of men. (p. 10-11)

"Everyone's agreed...that teenage sex should be a learning experience." (p. 15)

"Sex play with boys...can be exciting, pleasurable, and even worthwhile...it will help later sexual adjustment." (p. 48)

"For those who plan on marriage eventually, early intercourse can also be a training ground." (p. 95)

"Another reason for intercourse is the fact that...it's a means of learning how to live with people." (p. 96)

Books quoted in The Myth of Separation , p. 69-70

"One text [Boys and Sex]...basically provides a how to description for male sexual conquest. A lengthy paragraph is provided describing fondling and sucking breasts, touching of the genitals...etc. Then Pomeroy writes, "Some girls may draw the line at one point or another in the progression I've described, but most people engage in all of this behavior before marriage." Finally he states, "Consequently, petting is fun...for both boys and girls..." (Children at Risk, p. 47-48)

"In...Girls and Sex, Pomeroy lists "reasons why a girl might think favorably of having intercourse for the first time." What follows is a...rationale for going all the way. It is addressed exclusively to young girls and points out how much fun sex is, how helpful premarital intercourse is in preparing for marriage, ("there are many girls who regret after marriage that they didn't have marital intercourse") and how much faster one learns when young...Girls and Sex actually encourages girls who sleep at a female friend's house to stimulate each other to orgasm..." (Children at Risk, p. 48)

"Over the years [Planned Parenthood] has proposed that authorities implement such things as compulsory abortion for out-of-wedlock pregnancies, federal entitlement payments to encourage abortion, compulsory sterilization for those who have already had two children, and tax penalties for existing large families." (Immaculate Deception)

"Birth control appeals to the advanced radical because it is calculated to undermine the authority of the Christian churches. I look forward to seeing humanity free some someday of the tyranny of Christianity." (Margaret Sanger, cited in Immaculate Deception)

"Planned Parenthood's educational materials are uniformly brazen and perverse. They are frequently accentuated with crudely and nudity. They openly endorse aberrant behavior, including homosexuality, bisexuality, incest, and even bestiality. Then they describe that behavior in excruciating detail." (Immaculate Deception)

Planned Parenthood Pamphlet for teens: "Sex is too important to glop up with sentiment. If you feel sexy, for heaven's sake, admit it to yourself. If the feeling and the tension bother you, you can masturbate."

Mary Calderone, former PP medical director, stated, "Curricula need to first, separate kids from their parents; second, establish a new sexual identity for them; third, help them to determine new value systems; and finally, help them confirm vocational decisions."

"In 1970, fewer than half of the nation's school districts offered sex education curricula and none had school-based birth control clinics. In 1998, more than seventy-five percent of the districts teach sex education and there are more than one hundred clinics in operation. Yet the percentage of illegitimate births has only increased during that time, from a mere fifteen percent to an astonishing fifty-one percent."http://blumenfeld.campconstitution.net/Articles/Sex%20Education%20and%20How%20It%20Got%20Into%20the%20Schools.pdf)

According to a Harris poll, the only things that effectively impact teen pregnancy are frequent church attendance and parental oversight.

Planned Parenthood is the world's number one abortion provider.

Economist and social analyst Jacqueline Kasun says, "The objectionable feature of these programs now being promoted by Planned Parenthood is not that they teach sex, but that they do it so badly, replacing good biological education with ten to twelve years of compulsory consciousness raising and psycho-sexual therapy, and using the public schools to advance their own peculiar worldview."

Planned Parenthood-style sex-ed across the country has coincided with an unprecedented increase in teen promiscuity.

Dartmouth Physicist Marcelo Gleiser On God And Science

“It’s extremely arrogant for scientists to come down from the ivory towers and make these declarations without understanding the social importance of belief systems...When you hear very famous scientists making pronouncements like…cosmology has explained the origin of the universe and the whole, and we don’t need God anymore. That’s complete nonsense."

https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/dartmouth-professor-wins-top-religion-prize

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

New Age Spirituality

"What is so attractive about New Age spirituality? At last people have a god who agrees with them about everything! They want a god who does not embarrass them; a god who thinks just like they do. They want a theology that diminishes the horrors of sin and magnifies how good we as human beings actually are! Self-salvation has many forms and is very attractive. We want a god who is as broadminded as we are."

Erwin W. Lutzer, The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to Be a Light in the Darkness, pg.208

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Rejoinder To Dave Armstrong On Sola Scriptura

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a point-by-point refutation of former Protestant turned Roman Catholic convert and apologist Dave Armstrong's post titled A Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura, which can be found here at Catholic Answers. We begin this critique with an excerpt from the author:

           "...no biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or rule of faith in isolation from the Church and Tradition. Sola scriptura can’t even be deduced from implicit passages."

           The assertion that Sola Scriptura is unbiblical is a standard Roman Catholic objection, and has been dealt with in a succinct fashion here:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/02/biblical-defense-of-sola-scriptura.html

           Also, one must wonder why so many uniquely Roman Catholic doctrines contradict Scripture.

           "Word in Holy Scripture often refers to a proclaimed, oral teaching of prophets or apostles. What the prophets spoke was the word of God regardless of whether or not their utterances were recorded later as written Scripture."

           This argument does not work because Sola Scriptura does not deny that the Word of God was once communicated orally. All the principle says is that Scripture alone is the final (not only) standard of authority for the Christian church. Scripture alone is the only infallible rule of faith or spiritual standard for Christians to use.

           "Protestants often quote the verses in the Bible where corrupt traditions of men are condemned (e.g., Matt. 15:2–6; Mark 7:8–13; Col. 2:8). Of course, Catholics agree with this. But it’s not the whole truth. True, apostolic Tradition also is endorsed positively. This Tradition is in total harmony with and consistent with Scripture."

           Tradition that is in perfect harmony with the teaching of Scripture poses absolutely no problem for Sola Scriptura. What needs to be proven beyond reasonable doubt is that inspired extra-biblical oral traditions exist.

           Next, Dave goes on to claim that Jesus and the apostles accepted oral tradition (in the same sense that Rome claims to possess inspired tradition). The Roman Catholic author cites four examples of what he considers as proof which are addressed as follows:

           "The reference to “He shall be called a Nazarene” cannot be found in the Old Testament, yet it was “spoken by the prophets” (Matt. 2:23). Therefore, this prophecy, which is considered to be “God’s word,” was passed down orally rather than through Scripture."

           The above claim has been soundly refuted by the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online: 

           "In the manuscripts of the New Testament, the name occurs in a great orthographical variety, such as Nazaret, Nazareth, Nazara, Nazarat, and the like. In the time of Eusebius and St. Jerome (Onomasticon), its name was Nazara (in modern Arabic, en Nasirah), which therefore, seems to be the correct name; in the New Testament we find its derivatives written Nazarenos, or Nazoraios, but never Nazaretaios. The etymology of Nazara is neser, which means "a shoot". The Vulgate renders this word by flos, "flower", in the Prophecy of Isaias (11:1), which is applied to the Saviour. St. Jerome (Epist., xlvi, "Ad Marcellam") gives the same interpretation to the name of the town."

           "In Matthew 23:2–3, Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees have a legitimate, binding authority based “on Moses’ seat,” but this phrase or idea cannot be found anywhere in the Old Testament. It is found in the (originally oral) Mishnah, which teaches a sort of “teaching succession” from Moses on down."

            Attempting to prove the Papal office from Matthew 23 is plagued with problems. There was no Papal office in Israel. When Jesus referred to the seat of Moses, He was simply referring to a position of authority, one that belonged to several people, not one person who was taken as supreme over them: "Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated THEMSELVES in the chair of Moses..." See this article for more details:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-roman-catholic-misuse-of-moses-seat.html

           "In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul refers to a rock that “followed” the Jews through the Sinai wilderness. The Old Testament says nothing about such miraculous movement. But rabbinic tradition does."

           It is certainly true that the Apostolic writers appealed to extra-biblical sources. However, all this proves is that extra-biblical sources sometimes contained statements that the Apostles deemed useful in articulating their points.

           "As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses” (2 Tim. 3:8). These two men cannot be found in the related Old Testament passage (Ex. 7:8ff.) or anywhere else in the Old Testament."

           Could it be that the Holy Spirit simply moved Paul to incorporate the two names into his inspired epistle? Sola Scriptura does not deny that other books or things are of use. So none of what the author is saying is a problem.

           "In the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:6–30), we see Peter and James speaking with authority. This Council makes an authoritative pronouncement (citing the Holy Spirit) that was binding on all Christians."

           The Council of Jerusalem is actually supportive of Sola Scriptura and harmful to Roman Catholic claims of Papal supremacy. See this article for more details:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-jerusalem-council-and-sola-scriptura.html

           "Christianity was derived in many ways from the Pharisaical tradition of Judaism. The Sadducees, on the other hand, rejected the future resurrection of the soul, the afterlife, rewards and retribution, demons and angels, and predestinarianism. The Sadducees also rejected all authoritative oral teaching and essentially believed in sola scriptura. They were the theological liberals of that time."

           The standard that corrects the theological errors of the Pharisees and Sadducees is Scripture. That is what Jesus used when confronting the two groups. It is also important to keep in mind that there was no infallible teaching Magisterium for the Jews.

           If it is true that the Sadducees essentially practiced Sola Scriptura, then how does such a statement not contradict the traditional Roman Catholic historical narrative which says that the ideology was totally unheard of until the Protestant Reformation?

           "So the people did indeed understand the law (cf. Neh. 8:8, 12), but not without much assistance—not merely upon hearing. Likewise, the Bible is not altogether clear in and of itself but requires the aid of teachers who are more familiar with biblical styles and Hebrew idiom, background, context, exegesis and cross-reference, hermeneutical principles, original languages, etc."

           The reason that the Jews in Babylon had difficulties in interpreting Scripture is that they were most probably unfamiliar with pure Hebrew. After all, they were in captivity for seventy years and learned Aramaic. Nonetheless, some parts of the Bible are harder to understand than others. But infallibility is not a requirement for accurately teaching Scripture. Should we reject Marian dogmas and the Papacy because such concepts were not believed by the ancient Jews?

            "This passage [2 Timothy 3:16-17] doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there. If we look at the overall context of this passage, we can see that Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (cf. 2 Tim. 1:13–14; 2:2; 3:14)."

            None of the Bible verses that the author mentions tell us what or where we can get the specific statements of the Apostle Paul. The claim that extra-biblical oral tradition exists in those passages is assumed rather than proved. It other words, the Roman Catholic apologist is guilty of complete eisegesis here. Could it be that what Timothy had learned came from the Old Testament Scriptures themselves?
         
           "If 2 Timothy 3 proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture, then, by analogy, Ephesians 4 would likewise prove the sufficiency of pastors and teachers for the attainment of Christian perfection. In Ephesians 4, the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3, yet it does not even mention Scripture.

           So if all non-scriptural elements are excluded in 2 Timothy, then, by analogy, Scripture would logically have to be excluded in Ephesians. It is far more reasonable to recognize that the absence of one or more elements in one passage does not mean that they are nonexistent. The Church and Scripture are both equally necessary and important for teaching."

           The author's claims are fallacious, considering how the context of Ephesians 4 does not match that of 2 Timothy 3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 specifically points us to a rule of faith. Ephesians 4:11-15 is merely discussing unity in Christ Jesus and the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit. The text from Ephesians pertains to the administration of the principles found within the guide (i.e. Scripture), namely brotherly fellowship and edification in the faith. The context of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 identifies our spiritual standard of discernment to use in upholding truth and rebuking error. 2 Timothy 3 discusses the means by which this edification is to be done, Scripture. Thus, the authority of ministers does not extend beyond Scripture. The written revelation equips the faithful man of God for every good work. 2 Timothy mentions no other rule of faith. So this Roman Catholic objection is actually a false analogy.

           Nowhere does the text of Ephesians 4:11-15 mention anything about an extra-biblical authority exercising the same weight of authority as Scripture itself. It nowhere even hints at the establishment of an elitist church hierarchy, nor denies that Scripture is the ultimate spiritual standard of authority in the church. Nowhere does the New Testament mention the office of pope. Both passages in question compliment each other. Additionally, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura does not deny the role of godly church leaders. They are subject to the supreme authority of Scripture. Nowhere does Scripture tell us that the church is God-breathed.

           The author argues that Sola Scriptura is a circular position, which has been already been addressed here:

           https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/02/is-sola-scriptura-based-on-circular.html

           "This is similar to people on two sides of a constitutional debate both saying, “Well, we go by what the Constitution says, whereas you guys don’t.” The U.S. Constitution, like the Bible, is not sufficient in and of itself to resolve differing interpretations. Judges and courts are necessary, and their decrees are legally binding. Supreme Court rulings cannot be overturned except by a future ruling or constitutional amendment. In any event, there is always a final appeal that settles the matter."

           This comparison is highly deceptive because the constitution and the appointed judges who provide interpretations for lawmakers are fallible (whereas the pope claims to have been bestowed a charisma of infallibility in proclaiming dogmas). Secondly, it is merely assumed by Catholics that the church must be governed by an earthly head. That idea cannot even be found in the New Testament. Moreover, God is perfectly capable of revealing His truth to children or even the uneducated. Human leaders can become corrupt. Unity is worthless without truth. What we should be striving for is unity according to Scripture. God given revelation is the final appeal that should settle doctrinal disputes.

           How can we determine whether or not a particular doctrine is a fundamental article of the Christian faith? First of all, our doctrine must be based on Scripture. Secondly, our doctrine has to be clearly taught in Scripture. All fundamental doctrines of the faith are directly related to salvation and the Godhead. Nonetheless, a common debate tactic of Roman Catholic apologists is to attack the integrity of Scripture. Why is that so? The reason is that they have been taught to defend "Mother Church" at all costs.

Roman Catholic Priestly Vestments Contradict The Teachings Of Christ

  • Discussion:
          -"They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others." (Matthew 23:5-7)
          -"Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts" (Luke 20:46)

          In context, Jesus Christ was speaking against the religious leaders of His day who were prideful and craving worldly attention. He was categorically denouncing those who arrogantly used their religious offices as a means of obtaining praise from other men. Christ openly exposed the scribes and Pharisees for hypocrisy and self-righteousness. They did good works to be seen of men. Even the robes that they wore served as a display to impress other people.

          These scoldings of Jesus are certainly applicable to the Roman Catholic priesthood, as members continually wear clerical garments and are given special admiration. Now, there is no denying that the Old Testament priesthood had a specific dress code (Exodus 28). The Jews were to be different than their pagan neighbors. But there is no ordained ministerial priesthood found in the New Testament. It is not necessary because Jesus Christ lives forever to make intercession on our behalf. He has already made the once for all atonement sacrifice for our sins. Nowhere does Scripture record God establishing a new class of ministerial priests who intervene between God and man.

          Therefore, the garbs worn by Roman Catholic priests are not appropriate at all. The clothing is of no significance to the Cause of Christ. In fact, it is offensive to the biblical gospel. The elaborate priestly attire and the allegedly bloodless sacrifices performed during masses are sure evidences of flawed religion. The words of Jesus Christ indicate that Roman Catholic priests are not in a rightful place of honor.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Idolatry Of Roman Catholic Eucharist Adoration

  • Discussion:
          -Is the Roman Catholic Eucharist an idol? Even though the Catholic Church teaches that the bread and wine are literally turned into the body and blood of Christ when the words of consecration are pronounced by the priest, the communion elements are to be adored by all the faithful:

          "Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord" (Paul VI, MF 66)." (CCC #1418)

          The obvious problem here is that bread and wine are made by human hands. In other words, the communion elements are created things. So, the Roman Catholic hierarchy actually teaches its followers to worship created objects. Such is emphatically condemned as idolatry in Scripture:

          "You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me." (Exodus 20:4-5)

          "who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1:25)

          There is no reason to believe that God would contradict Himself by becoming the very appearance of material objects (such as bread and wine) that He forbade us to worship. Such is clearly unthinkable. The notion of transubstantiation is a clever yet diabolical manipulation of logic. Unfortunately, Catholics are instructed to worship bread and wine on a weekly basis.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

They All Disagree-Searching for True Adventism

The problem of pinning down “official” Adventist teaching is alive and well. In fact, Tim Martin from The Centers for Apologetics Research has been writing a pamphlet about Seventh-day Adventism, and in his research he has bumped into this problem.

In his research, Tim encountered the work of M. L. Andreasen, one of Adventism’s most prominent theologians during the 1930’s and 40’s. Andreasen is remembered especially for formulating the idea of “Last Generation Theology” which he developed from the writings of Ellen White.

In a nutshell, Last Generation Theology explains that when Jesus comes again, all who are alive will need to have reached perfection of character and perfect law-keeping in order to be saved.

What Tim Martin has found, however, is that in spite of Andreason’s ideas conforming to Ellen White’s writings, “it is rejected by many of the mainstream SDA folk.”

This contrast between M. L. Andreasen and Ellen White [EGW], however, is entirely contrived. Most of us who have been Adventist know that Ellen White is internally contradictory. One can find statements from her writings to support nearly any theological position one wishes to take.

EGW is internally contradictory and cannot be pinned down regarding salvation, the nature of Christ, His righteousness, or its application to humans)—that is seen as “official Adventism.” In practice, things which are actually written/edited, endorsed, and published by the Executive Committee of the General Conference are seen as official. Works published by the official Adventist publishing houses, if not written by the General Conference officers, will be seen by members as trustworthy and will become integrated into Adventist life, but if they become “problematic” in any way, they may be officially denied or ignored.

Even today, my conservative Adventist family members disagree about Adventist teachings and practices if those beliefs disagree with their own understanding of EGWs commentary. For example, if the General Conference makes a statement or recommendation with which my family disagrees, they say, “That’s not our belief.” End of argument. This denial of personal acceptance of Adventist belief has always been the “Adventist way.” In fact, this phenomenon is part of the reason the infamous Questions on Doctrine was so divisive after Walter Martin met with Adventist leaders in the 1950s.

Walter Martin, the author of The Kingdom of the Cults, set out to interview the theological minds of the common sects or cults that existed on the fringes of Christianity. He interviewed Mormon leaders, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, and others with the purpose of explaining their doctrinal flaws and declaring them to be cults or heterodox Christians.

The Adventist leaders who met with Walter Martin deceived him, and today this fact has been publicly admitted by Adventist historian George Knight. In the annotations within the 2003 republished version of Questions on Doctrine, Knight admits that the Adventists used words that they knew Martin would hear as being evangelical while the Adventists themselves might take offense at them. Underneath, however, they were attempting to harmonize Adventism with evangelicalism, trying to keep Adventists happy and simultaneously attempting to convince Martin that they were not a cult.

This duplicitous process has created doctrinal schism in Adventism which remains to this day. Adventists internally disagree—even hotly disagree—on many points of doctrine and practice. Nevertheless, they all claim to be Adventists while clinging tightly to their own beliefs, and the General Conference has not clarified these doctrinal disagreements.

http://blog.lifeassuranceministries.org/2019/01/03/they-all-disagree-searching-for-true-adventism/

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Charismatic Quotables

"God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he give direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible." (Vineyard Position Paper #2, p. 15)

"There is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the Charismatic movement that prophecy is imperfect and impure, and will contain some elements which are not to be obeyed or trusted. The Anglican Charismatic leaders Dennis and Rita Bennett write: 'We are not expected to accept every word spoken through the gifts of utterance ... but we are only to accept what is quickened to us by the Holy Spirit and is in agreement with the Bible ... one manifestation may be 75% God, but 25% the person's own thought. We must discern between the two'" (Wayne Grudem, Ibid. p. 110)

Excerpts taken from Gary E. Gilley's review of Experiencing God

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Life Of Confucius

                                                             By Patrick Zukeran

Born in 550 B.C., Confucius is considered the greatest of all Eastern philosophers. His teachings are foundational to Asian cultures. His writings, The Five Classics, a collection of ancient Chinese literature, and The Four Books, a collection of his and his disciples’ teachings, were for centuries the standard curriculum for Chinese education.

Confucius’ teachings and biography were written many years after his death and were edited by his disciples. Although historians present various accounts of his life, there are some basic facts about which we are reasonably sure. From these basic facts, it is possible to outline the major events of his life.

Confucius lived during the Chou Dynasty (1100 B.C. to 256 B.C.) He was born in northern China in the Lu province into a family of humble circumstances. His father died at a young age. Confucius began studying under the village tutor and, at the age of fifteen, devoted his life to study. He married at twenty but soon divorced his wife and had an aloof relationship with his son and daughter. In his twenties, he became a teacher and gathered a group of loyal disciples.

At this time, the land was divided among feudal lords. The moral and social order was in a state of decay. Confucius sought a way to restore both cultural and political order. He believed that reform would be accomplished by educating the leaders in the classics and his philosophy. He therefore sought a political position of influence, from which he could implement his principles.

When Confucius was fifty years old, tradition teaches that the Duke of Lu appointed him to a cabinet position. Several historians believe he eventually ascended to higher positions of public office. Due to political disagreements and internal conflicts, he resigned his post at fifty-five and left the province of Lu. He then traveled from state to state for thirteen years, seeking to persuade political leaders to adopt his teachings. Although many lords respected him, no one gave him a position. Discouraged by the lack of response, he devoted his final years to teaching and writing. Before his death in 479 B.C., he expressed his discouragement and disillusionment regarding his career.

However, his disciples were able to gain significant positions in government after his death. They modified his teachings and added their own insights and centuries such that Confucianism later shaped Chinese culture by becoming the official religion of China. The values he espoused of education, family loyalty, work ethic, value of traditions, conformity to traditional standards, honoring of ancestors, and unquestioning obedience to superiors remain entrenched in Asian culture.

There is much to appreciate regarding the life and teachings of Confucius. Christians would agree with his philosophy of ethics, government responsibility, and social conduct on several points. These similarities provide bridges upon which we can build meaningful dialogue with those in East Asian Cultures. These values make East Asian people open to the message of Christ. Despite the similarities in ethics, there are some major differences between Christianity and Confucianism that are important to identify. This work will highlight these differences and provide ways we can effectively share Christ with those in East Asian cultures.

The Metaphysics of Confucius

Confucianism, as its founder taught, is not a religion in the traditional sense; rather, it is an ethical code. Chinese culture was steeped in the religion of animism, a belief that gods and spirits dwelt in natural formations. Along with an animistic worldview, there was a belief in ancestor worship. The spirits of the dead needed to be honored and cared for by the living family members.

However, Confucius avoided spiritual issues in his teachings. Although he believed in spirits and the supernatural, he did not feel the need to devote extensive efforts in teaching about them. Rather, he was humanistic and rationalistic in his outlook. According to David Noss, author of A History of the World’s Religions, Confucius’ “position on matters of faith was this: whatever seemed contrary to common sense in popular tradition and whatever did not serve any discoverable social purpose, he regarded coldly.”{1} The answer to the cultural and social problems was found in humanity itself, not in anything supernatural. This is further exhibited in the following three references:

1) A disciple of Confucius wrote, “The master never talked of prodigies, feats of strength, disorders or spirits”{2}

2) Confucius himself stated, “To devote oneself earnestly to one’s duty to humanity, and while respecting the spirits, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.”{3}

3) In the Waley translation of the Analects, Confucius stated, “Our master’s views concerning culture and the outward insignia of goodness, we are permitted to hear; but about man’s nature and the ways of heaven, he will not tell us anything at all.”{4}

In the Confucian system a divine being does not have a significant role; his philosophy is man-centered and relies on self-effort. Man is sufficient to attain the ideal character through education, self-effort, and self-reflection. His system articulated the proper conduct in relationships, ceremony, and government. The core problem of mankind according to Confucius is that people are not educated and do not know how to conduct themselves properly in their societal roles. The chief goal of life is to become educated and live a moral life.

However, Confucius acknowledges a supreme power which established the moral order of the universe. This he refers to as the “Mandate of Heaven.” The “Mandate of Heaven” may also refer to fate and events occurring in life which are beyond the control of the individual. The just rule and the virtuous man live in accord with this moral order. This is the moral order that lies behind the Confucian ethical system. One must be careful not to violate the will of heaven. Confucius wrote, “He who put himself in the wrong with Heaven has no means of expiation left.”{5} Some scholars believe the uses of the term reveals that Confucius was referring at times to a supreme being.{6} After his death, Confucianism evolved, combining with Chinese traditional religions and Buddhism to add a spiritual component.

In contrast, Christianity is God-centered. It is built on a relationship with a personal God who is involved in the world. Confucius focused on life here on this earth. Jesus focused on life in eternity. For Jesus, what happens in eternity has ramifications for life here on earth. In Matthew 6:19 Jesus stated, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Here we see a contrast in the perspectives of Jesus and Confucius.

The Ethics of Confucius

Three key principles are emphasized in the teachings of Confucius: the principle of Li, the principle of Jen, and the principle of Chun-Tzu. The term Li has several meanings which are often translated as propriety, reverence, courtesy, ritual, or the ideal standard of conduct. It is what Confucius believed to be the ideal standard of religious, moral, and social conduct.

The second key concept is the principle of Jen. It is the fundamental virtue of Confucian teaching. Jen is the virtue of goodness and benevolence. It is expressed through recognition of value and concern in others regardless of their rank or class. In the Analects, Confucius summarizes the principle of Jen in this statement often called the silver rule: “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you.”{7} Li provides the structure for social interaction; Jen makes it a moral system.

The third important concept is that of Chun-Tzu, the idea of the true gentleman. It is the man who lives by the highest ethical standards. The gentleman displays five virtues: self-respect, generosity, sincerity, persistence, and benevolence.{8} His relationships are described as follows: as a son he is always loyal, as a father he is just and kind, as an official he is loyal and faithful, as a husband he is righteous and just, and as a friend, he is faithful and tactful.{9} If all men lived by the principles of Li and Jen and strove to the character of the true gentlemen, justice, and harmony would rule the empire.

The Christian would find himself in agreement with many of Confucius’ ethical principles and virtues. A Christian would also agree with many of the character qualities of the true gentleman and seek to develop those qualities.

What accounts for the similarity in ethics in Confucianism and other religious systems is that which Paul states in Romans 2: within every man there exists a God-given conscience or natural law that guides our moral conduct. This is because we are created in the image of God, and thus we reflect His character. However, similarity in ethical codes does not mean the religions are the same.

The key difference can be identified by examining the silver rule of Confucius in contrast with the greatest commandment of Christ. Confucian law is summarized by the silver rule; however, Jesus summarizes his teachings this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:38.) Confucius believed that in order to truly achieve the principles of Li, Jen, and the character of the true gentleman, one must look within oneself. Jesus takes His teaching a step further. All His principles revolve first around a relationship with God. We only truly love our fellow man and live the righteous life God calls us to after our nature is transformed by the work of God’s Holy Spirit which comes to indwell all who trust in Christ.
Nature of Man

The Confucian philosophy is built on the foundational belief in the goodness of human nature.{10} The Analects state, “The Master said, ‘Is goodness indeed so far away? If we really wanted goodness, we should find that it was at our side.’”{11} He further taught that all individuals are capable of attaining the highest virtue. He stated, “Has anyone ever managed to do Good with his whole might even as long as the space of a single day? I think not. Yet I for my part have never seen anyone give up such an attempt because he had not the strength to go on.”{12} In other words, all individuals are capable through self-effort to attain the ideal goodness.

Confucian disciple Mencius further develops this stating, “Man’s nature is naturally good just as water naturally flows downward.”{13} This innate goodness can be developed and actualized through education, self-reflection, and discipline. Study in the six arts, which include ceremony, music, archery, charioteering, writing, and mathematics, develop one’s character.


However, despite man being naturally good, Confucius faced reality honestly. He questioned whether it was possible to ever truly attain to the level of the true gentleman. Confucius stated, “I for my part have never yet seen one who really cared for goodness, nor one who really abhorred wickedness.”{14} He said of himself, “As to being a divine sage or even a good man, far be it from me to make any such claim.”{15} He further stated, “The master said, the ways of the true gentleman are three. I myself have met with success in none of them.”{16} However, if man by nature is good, why can we not attain that which should be natural to us?

The Bible is built on a contrasting view of man. It teaches that man is created in the image of God and was thus originally good. However, because of the fall in Genesis 3, man is now sinful and in rebellion toward God. Therefore, his natural tendency is to disobey the commandments of God, and he is driven to please himself. Paul states in Romans 7:18, “I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out.” As Confucius observed, no man is able to live up to the standards of the “True Gentleman” or God’s commands because man’s nature is sinful and in need of transformation.

According to the Bible, good education is a positive step toward helping man change, but it falls short. Man is in need of a heart transformation. Life transformation occurs when a person enters into a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. One’s nature is transformed because God’s Spirit indwells an individual. Although the Christian is not capable of living out the principles of God’s law flawlessly, he is not left to live a holy life on his own strength. God provides man the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to enable man to live in obedience to God’s law.
Relationships

Central to Confucius’ teaching are relationships and social roles. There are five great relationships.{17} If these attitudes are practiced, there will be harmony among all:

1. Kindness in the father and obedient devotion in the son

2. Gentility in the eldest brother and humility and respect in the younger

3. Righteous behavior in the husband and obedience in the wife

4. Humane consideration in elders and deference in juniors

5. Benevolence in rulers and loyalty of ministers and subjects

The most important relationship is the family as it is the basic unit of all humanity. Consistent with the pantheistic world view, he did not believe in an individual self or soul. Rather, roles and relationships define a person. The goal of living is to achieve harmony by acting appropriately within those roles and relationships because the harmony of relationships within the family can extend into the life of the community and the world. The way individuals relate to their family members influences how they treat members of the community. This, in turn, affects relationships beyond the community. Thus, harmonious family relationships lead to harmonious relationships in the community. If there is discord in the family, this will likewise carry over into the community.

In the family unit, the father is the key figure. He must be a good example to his sons. It is the son’s duty to obey without questioning and honor his father even after his father’s death. When the father dies, obedience is then given to the oldest brother. Confucius stated, “Meng I Tzu asked about the treatment of parents. The Master said, ‘Never disobey! . . . While they are alive, serve them according to ritual. When they die, bury them according to ritual and sacrifice to them according to ritual.’”{18}

Confucius taught that government should be for the people. Feudal lords are to be responsive to the needs of the people they govern. If the rulers lived by the highest principles, the people would then follow, and there would be reform from the greatest to the least. The duty of those in subordinate positions is to be unquestioningly loyal to their superior. Confucius stated, “It is said that if good people work for a country for a hundred years, it is possible to overcome violence and eliminate killing. This saying is indeed true.”{19} Confucius believed that a good society would be achieved through education.

There are points of agreement between Confucius and the Bible. Confucius believed the virtues he espoused are lived out in relationships. The same is true for Christianity; our relationship with God is reflected in our relationships with one another. The truth of the Christian life is lived out in a community, not in isolation. The family is the key social unit, and the father is the leader of the family. However, Christianity takes relationships one step further than Confucius. Not only can we have the five relationships espoused by Confucius, we can also have a personal relationship with God. It is from this connection that our earthly relationships find their greatest meaning.
A Final Critique

There is much in the teachings of Confucius that I have found commendable. His moral values often parallel those taught in the Bible. As previously mentioned, the Bible teaches that we are created in the image of God, and, therefore, we reflect His moral character. His moral law code is embedded on our hearts (Rom. 2). Most people of Asian descent may not be strict adherents to Confucianism, but they are all influenced by his philosophy. Anyone seeking to serve in Asian cultures would find it worthwhile to read his works. Confucianism is very adaptable and fluid in its structure. That has been a weakness, but it has also a strength of the system since it allows Confucianism to join other inclusive religious systems. There are several significant differences, and, I believe, deficiencies within Confucian philosophy.

First, Confucianism falls short as a comprehensive life view because it fails to address several key issues. The Confucian system does not answer the key questions such as, Why does the universe exist? How do we explain its origin? What is the meaning of mankind’s existence in the universe? What happens after death? These are universal questions that must be addressed. Man is a spiritual being, and this philosophy leaves one spiritually void. The Bible teaches that God has set eternity in the heart of men (Eccl. 3:11.) The longing for spiritual answers is a universal need. For this reason, Confucian philosophy eventually combined with Chinese Folk religion and Buddhism. Nonetheless, it still fails to provide complete answers.

Second, Confucius taught there was an overarching morality and will called the “Mandate of Heaven” which guided the universe. The Mandate of Heaven is the moral order established by heaven. Some believe Confucius was referring to an impersonal force; others believe he was referring to a personal being. In either case, Confucius felt the heavens (or the one in heaven) do not communicate with people. Confucius stated, “Heaven does not speak; yet the four seasons run their course thereby, the hundred creatures, each after its kind, are born thereby. Heaven does no speaking!”{20} in contrast, the Bible teaches that we can have a relationship with the one who established the moral order. God is involved with creation and has made the way for a relationship with Him possible through His son (Jn. 3:16). The creator of all things has communicated with us through His Word and His Son. He also invites us to commune with Him in prayer and intimate fellowship. The imagery of the Shepherd and His sheep found in Psalm 23 and John 10 reflect His desire for a close relationship with us.

Third, Confucius built his philosophy on the belief that man is basically good. However, despite this, Confucius honestly admitted that no one had attained the level of the true gentleman. Confucius stated, “I for my part have never yet seen one who really cared for goodness, nor one who really abhorred wickedness.”{21} He said of himself, “…the Ways of the true gentleman are three. I myself have met with success in none of them.”{22} If man is good by nature, we must ask why we cannot attain what should be natural to us.

The Bible is built on a contrasting view of man. It teaches that man is created in the image of God but fallen in sin and rebellious toward God. Therefore, his natural tendency is to disobey the commandments of God and please himself. Paul states in Romans 7:18, “I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out.” Good education is a positive step toward helping man change, but it falls short. Man is in need of a heart transformation. Life transformation occurs when a person enters into a personal relationship with God and God’s Spirit transforms one’s nature through the indwelling and enabling power of His Holy Spirit.
Conclusion

Confucius teaches many valuable ethical principles that are consistent with Biblical teaching. This offers Christians a good way to build bridges with many in East Asian cultures. However, the spiritual void in Confucianism is a great weakness; however, it provides a wonderful opportunity to present the case for Christianity.

Christianity offers a comprehensive life view, for it explains the nature of God, our relationship to Him, the origin of creation, and what happens after death. In Confucian teaching, one cannot communicate with the creator, but in Christianity, the Creator invites us and makes the way possible for a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus. Finally, true transformation of one’s nature will not occur through education, but rather through the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer in Christ.

Notes

1. David Noss, A History of the World’s Religions (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994), 298.

2. Analects of Confucius, trans. Arthur Waley, (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992), 7:20.

3. Analects 6:20

4. Analects 5:12

5. Analects 3:13.

6. Fung Yu-lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, Volume 1 (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1983), 57-8.

7. Analects 15:23.

8. Analects 17:6.

9. Noss, 297.

10. Stephen Schuhmacher & Gert Woerner, The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1994), 80.

11. Analects 7:9.

12. Analects 4:6.

13. Mencius XI:2, trans. David Hinton, (Washington D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998), 197.

14. Analects 4:6

15. Analects 7:33.

16. Analects 14:30.

17. Noss, 293.

18. Analects 2:5.

19. Analects 13:11.

20. Analects 17:19.

22. Analects 4:6.

22. Analects 14:30.

Bibliography

Analects of Confucius. Translated by Arthur Waley. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.

Anderson, Norman. The World’s Religions. Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975.

Chung, Tsai. Confucius Speaks. New York: Anchor Books, 1996.

Cleary, Thomas. The Essential Confucius. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.

Halverson, Dean. The Compact Guide to World Religions. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1996.

I Ching. Translator: Richard Wilhelm. New York: Princeton University Press, 1979.

Noss, David. A History of the World’s Religions. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Parrinder, Geoffrey. World Religions. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1983.

Schuhmacher, Stephen & Woerner, Gert. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1994.

Smith, Jonathan, ed. Harper Collins Dictionary of Religion. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.

Wilson, Epiphanius. The Wisdom of Confucius. New York: Avenel Books, 1982.

Yamamoto, Isamu. Buddhism, Taoism, and Other Eastern Religions. Grand Rapids, MI.:Zondervan Publishing House, 1998.

Yu-lan, Fung. A History of Chinese Philosophy, Volume 1. Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1983.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Christian Peacemaking

"In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity."

Rupertus Meldenius

Saturday, March 9, 2019

True Worship

"As a pattern for true worship [Nehemiah 9] should be seriously studied and earnestly followed. Several important elements of worship should be noted. First, it springs from the reading and teaching of the Word of God. Second, it is centered in a knowledge of the greatness, holiness, and mercifulness of God. Third, both confession and adoration of God are the natural consequences of reading the Word of God and meditating on His person and precepts."

Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, p. 169

A Darwinist's Poor Attempt To Account For The Human Eye

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a critique of Darwinist claims regarding the evolution of the human eye, and it turns out that proponents of this dogma merely came up with a just-so story with vain imaginations of how this highly sophisticated organ (i.e. the eye) could develop. Following is an excerpt from the author:

           "Through natural selection, different types of eyes have emerged in evolutionary history -- and the human eye isn't even the best one, from some standpoints."        

           It has been asserted without proof what "natural selection" has done. It has been asserted without proof that the human eye is not the best one (by whose standards?).

           "So, the evolution theorists say, the anti-evolution argument that life was created by an "intelligent designer" doesn't hold water: If God or some other omnipotent force was responsible for the human eye, it was something of a botched design."

           The eye functions properly because all of its parts are in a perfect order. This is also true regarding our photoreceptors. Consider the words of Dr. Sean DeVere Pitman, M.D:

           "To say then that the human eye is definite proof of a lack thoughtful design, is a bit presumptuous I would think. This seems to be especially true when one considers the fact that the best of modern human science and engineering has not produced even a fraction of the computing and imaging capability of the human eye. How can we then, ignorant as we must be concerning such miracles of complex function, hope to accurately judge the relative fitness or logic of something so far beyond our own capabilities? Should someone who cannot even come close to understanding or creating the object that they are observing think to critique not to mention disparage the work that that lies before them? This would be like a six-year-old child trying to tell an engineer how to design a skyscraper or that one of his buildings is "better" than the others."

           "Biologists use the range of less complex light sensitive structures that exist in living species today to hypothesize the various evolutionary stages eyes may have gone through."

           The problem here for the Darwinist is the irreducible complexity of the eye. There is simply no explanatory power for how such structures could become so complex. Also, how does one account for the widespread dissimilarities that exist among living organisms? Similarities among living organisms can equally serve as evidence for a common designer.

           "Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper."

           So, some thinking process called "random changes" (millions of random changes would be needed to get to where they want it) just fantastically created something so as to improve vision. We cannot have an intelligent designer, but we can certainly have a phantom "random change" create something! Talk about pure desperation. These observations about the human eye exacerbate the problem for promoters of evolution:

           "Saccades are important to prevent blindness, so that system has to evolve. But the brain must simultaneously evolve the ability to anticipate saccades, needing a second lucky set of mutations has to be selected. Both systems undoubtedly require multiple lucky mutations, but without them all working in concert, the animal cannot survive."

           "At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera."

           At the exact same time, mind you, the pit decided to just open to let light in. It made this decision all on its own.

           If a supercomputer is obviously a product of human intelligence, then how come divine intelligence cannot be the source of the brain and the eye? Both organs are intricate beyond human comprehension. Both organs contain countless volumes of intelligent information. Both organs have precision and design that transcend any creation of mankind. The aforementioned is true even about the structure of an individual cell. If scientists in laboratories can successfully carry out artificial selection, then there is no reason to believe that God can not have designed our bodies.

           "Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye."

           How could this evolutionary process take place? It has only been asserted thus far that it actually happened. The entire universe literally screams design, yet the atheist foolishly dismisses the wealth of evidence contrary to his views because of naturalistic biases. That is circular reasoning. Darwinism cannot explain how the beautifully complex, mechanical systems of the human anatomy came into existence.

           "In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist's calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch."

           None of what has been found is part of any sequence of development. Eyes have always been highly complex and well developed. Evolutionists just line all the types up into a chosen sequence (chosen by intelligence) which they think would be how it should change from one type of eye to another, and then claim that this is what happened. How do we know that the evolution of the eye happened so long ago? How quickly did this process take place? What mechanism would direct the changes? What steps would be necessary in the completion of the process?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Materialism Is False

"...if life we nothing more than materials, then we'd be able to take all the materials of life-which are the same materials found in dirt-and make a living being. We cannot. There's clearly something beyond materials in life. What materialist can explain why one body is dead and another body is dead? Both contain the same chemicals. Why is a body alive one minute and dead the next?"

Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 129

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

How Does Darwinism Account For Sleep?

"We all sleep. From jellyfish to frilled-neck lizards to flying squirrels to humans, the need for sleep is universal. But the biological reason why sleeplessness ultimately leads to death has always been a mystery.

Now a paper from Bar-Ilan University published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications presents a groundbreaking theory: that when we sleep, our nerve cells take a break from their usual function, freeing their resources to reduce DNA damage that was accumulated during wakefulness. Sleep makes no evolutionary sense in that it’s an insanely vulnerable time for the slumberer. You’re more likely to get eaten by a predator than when you’re awake. So why would we evolve to need sleep?

It’s well established that loss of sleep affects brain performance such as memory and learning, from fruit flies to humans. This strongly argues that sleep is biochemically essential, and that sleep deprivation causes some kind of gradual systems collapse in the brain."

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/why-do-we-need-sleep-israeli-scientists-solve-the-mystery-1.6995426

Monday, March 4, 2019

Christians And Self-Worth

"There are all kinds of strange doctrine, myths, and speculations in counseling. Sigmund Freud's doctrines of the Id, Ego, and Super-ego are very strange. Alfred Adler's speculative theory of "striving for superiority," Carl Rogers' "ideal self," and Christian psychologist Larry Crabb's theory of the "hollow core" are unusual, to say the least." (p. 3)

"Christian psychologist Larry Crabb comments as to whether the Bible is a sufficient guide to counseling by saying Biblical explanations are "simplistic" and "a commitment to biblical sufficiency has sometimes resulted in shallow explanations...."1 In spite of what the Bible says about itself, Larry Crabb insists that the Bible is not a comprehensive guide to counseling people with problems. Crabb writes, "The Bible deals with spiritual matters."2" (p. 7)

"According to Crabb, Sigmund Freud had a great deal to contribute to God's Word in the understanding of people and their problems.3 Such counselors also allege to help Christians who are anxious, fearful, confused, or depressed, by filling in the gaps left in the Bible concerning the "child within." (p. 8)

"After all, Crabb correctly observes, "If the Bible really is sufficient to address a counselor's concerns, then there would be no need for psychologists, just better prepared pastors.4" (p. 8)

"...when sin is called sickness or low self-esteem, sanctification is hindered. There is no need for repentance. Believers are duped into thinking they are sick and need recovery or have a negative self-image which needs to be fixed. This explanation removes culpability and guilt. It's not your fault that you are sick." (p. 12)

"Freud was very aggressive and always on the attack against Christianity. Freud believed, if science was to flourish, the credibility of Christianity must be destroyed." (p. 18)

"People do not hate themselves. People hate their circumstances and their behaviors that led to those circumstances. Self-love is universal....If Archie truly hated himself hr would not want things to be better for himself, not worse. If you hate someone you don't want good things to happen to them, but evil things." (p. 26)

"John MacArthur wrote, "Our culture has declared war on guilt...No one, after all, is supposed to feel guilty. Guilt is no conductive to dignity and self-esteem. Society encourages sin, but it will not tolerate the guilt sin produces." (p. 31)

"The solution for sin is not self-esteem. To be content with good feelings abut oneself is to be blinded to the truth." (p. 42)

"Self-love is universal. People do not hate themselves. People hate the mess, confusion, and disorder they have made their lives as a result of sinful responses to problems and people. The consequence is that they feel guilty. Man does not sin in a vacuum. In our psychologized world, guilt-feeling bad about oneself-is reinterpreted as low self-esteem." (p. 43)

"The Bible is a counseling textbook. All counseling issues are theological issues because all life is lived before God." (p. 83)

"Jesus never commanded His followers to love themselves, esteem themselves, accept themselves, believe in themselves, develop a healthy self image, or nurture feelings of significance and worth.' (p. 84)

"C.S. Lewis wrote: "...the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way to ask yourself, "How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me,...or patronise me, or show off?" The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride....Pride is essentially competitive.5" (p. 85)

David M. Tyler, Self-Esteem: Are We Really Better Than We Think?

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Roman Catholic Marian Idolatry

        Following is an excerpt from The Glories of Mary, chapter six by Alphonsus Liguori, originally found on a Roman Catholic website:

        At the command of Mary all obey, even God.

       She is omnipotent, for the queen, according to all laws, enjoys the same privileges as the king; and since the son's power also belongs to the mother, this Mother is made omnipotent by an omnipotent Son.

        Therefore, to use the words of St. Antonine, God has put the whole Church not only under the patronage, but even under the power and authority, of Mary.

        Since, then, the Mother must have the same power as the Son, Mary became omnipotent because Jesus is omnipotent. Of course, the Son is omnipotent by nature, where Mary is omnipotent only by grace. This is proved by the fact that the Son never refuses the Mother anything she seeks, as St. Bridget learned in a revelation.

        [...]

        Yet, to content His Mother, He changed the water into the best of wines. How could it be that, against His own predetermined plans, He worked this miracle?

        Actually, there was no violation of His own decrees; for although, generally speaking, the time for miracles had not yet come, still from all eternity He had established another decree to the effect that, when His Mother asked for anything, she was not to be refused.

        St. Thomas comments on the expression, "My hour has not yet come." He says: Here Christ wished to indicate that, if anyone else had asked for the miracle, He would not have granted it; but since it was His Mother who asked, He performed it.

        Valerius Maximus tells how, when Coriolanus was besieging Rome, all the pleas of friends and citizens together were powerless to make him stop; but when his mother Veturia appeared on the
scene and begged him, he lifted the siege at once.

        But Mary's prayers to Jesus are far more powerful than Venturia's, because Jesus' loving gratitude to His dear Mother is far greater than that of Coriolanus.

        One time St. Dominic commanded the devil to speak through the mouth of someone who was possessed, and these were the devil's words: "A single sigh from Mary is worth more in God's eyes than the prayers of all the Saints combined."