Thursday, May 30, 2019

Logizomai And Instantaneous Justification

"As for the Fathers and justification, it is not difficult to find in the Fathers the idea of justification by faith alone apart from works. Origen says that “man is justified by faith alone apart from works.”59 Augustine declares that “works do not precede justification,” and, “if by grace, then it is no more of works.”60

According to fourth century Greek father John Chrysostom, God justifies as a judge who “declares us just.”61 Justification is instantaneous (occurring “straitway”), and it is only after the grace of justification that “a life suited to it” begins. Therefore, justification, itself, is best seen as being objective.62

The righteousness of God in the work of Christ is “reckoned” to believers as righteousness (Rom.4:3–4) as they exercise saving faith. The word “reckon” (logizomai) used in connection with “faith” indicated not only that man’s faith is not meritorious, since faith is only “counted” as righteousness by God,63 but the word “reckon” also is evidence that this righteousness is not infused but rather imputed.64 For this reason Murray defines justification as “a constitutive act whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account.”65

The terms that are connected with justification, finally, underscore the objectivity of that event. In the Hebrew Bible where the root tsda is used, as Morris says, “there can be no doubt that the meaning is to declare righteous rather than to make righteous.”66 Morris argues this from Isaiah 5:23, where righteousness cannot be a moral quality, and Job 13:18, where Job “can only mean that he will be declared righteous, as by a judge giving sentence in a law suit.”67 Scripture certainly supports the Protestant doctrine that justification is forensic and is acquired only by faith apart from works. That is why Protestants disagree with Roman Catholics about justification."

https://www.equip.org/article/returning-to-rome/

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

1 Peter 3:15 And The Deity Of Jesus Christ

  • Discussion:
          -1 Peter 3:15 is a biblical proof for the deity of Jesus Christ as a stand alone:

          "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."

          1 Peter 3:13-14 is an allusion to Isaiah 8. A connection is made with Isaiah 8:13:

          But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread."

          Peter substitutes the Old Testament phrase "the Lord of hosts" with "Christ the Lord", thereby proving that the inspired New Testament author believed Jesus Christ to be God. We are to honor Him as the Holy One. 

Mary Is Not The New Eve As The Catholic Church Claims

  • Discussion:
          -A Roman Catholic website explains the Catholic dogma of Mary as the new Eve in the following manner:

          "Eve, the wife of Adam, became the "mother of all the living," as we read in Genesis, chapter 3, verse 20. Because of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God, sin and death entered the world, and all of Eve's children are born in original sin. Through the obedience of Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, Jesus Christ entered the world as man to reverse the disobedience of Adam and Eve. For this reason, Christ is considered the "New Adam." Christ, the Son of Mary, offers a new life of grace to all who believe in Him. All who accept Christ's invitation become His brothers and sisters, and become the spiritual children of Mary, the New Eve."

          The Scripture places the blame for sin entering into this world on Adam rather than Eve (Romans 5:12-21), with the reason being that the man received firsthand knowledge from God and yet still disobeyed. Paul develops a typological parallel between Christ and Adam: the former brought life upon mankind whereas the latter brought about death (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). Therefore, any notion of Mary being the new Eve collapses because the responsibility for the fall is attributed exclusively to Adam (even though the woman had sinned).

          Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr made parallels between Eve and Mary. Irenaeus wrote the following in his Against Heresies:

          "For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death."

          The articulated parallel does not amount to all of the theological developments within the Roman Catholic Church. It is not about Mary being a mediator of grace or an intercessor of sorts. Simply put, parallels are established between the fall and redemption with Jesus Christ being the central figure of preeminence as the new Adam. Irenaeus goes on to say:

          "Christ gathered all things into one, by gathering them into himself. He declared war against our enemy, crushed him who at the beginning had taken us captive in Adam, and trampled on his head, in accordance with God’s words to the serpent in Genesis: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall lie in wait for your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel [Genesis 3:15].”

          Mary is like Eve in that she is a woman and that she gives birth to the promised seed. However, any idea of there being a salvific parallel between Mary and Eve goes beyond what is taught in Scripture. The authors of the New Testament nowhere apply a concept of divine motherhood to Mary over the church. Mary is blessed in that she found favor with God. But she is not greater in holiness and grace than any other believer in Jesus Christ. Mary is not the mother of a new humanity any more than was her own mother.

           Furthermore, calling Mary the new Eve carries shocking implications that Roman Catholics themselves would obviously reject. Eve was married, gave birth to children, and was sinful. If there exists a connection, then that which is true of Eve must also be true of Mary. She also must have had children and a sinful nature. But all of that expressly conflicts with Roman Catholic theology. If Jesus is the last Adam and Mary is the new Eve, then it would seem to follow that an incestuous marriage was formed and that spiritual adultery also took place because the Scripture uses the analogy of a bride to describe the relationship between Christ and His church (which is all utterly blasphemous). 

Was Jesus Christ Married?

"The canonical Gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) preclude any option of understanding Jesus as married. He operates as an unmarried teacher with a band of devoted disciples. He is not the head of a household, but builds a household of faith — the church. At the crucifixion, he assigns John responsibility for caring for Mary, his mother. There is no mention of any wife, and certainly no mention of children."

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/historical-propaganda/

Saturday, May 25, 2019

False Gods Are Powerless

"But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them." (Psalm 115:4-8)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Crushing The Head Of The Serpent

"3:15 I will put enmity. God graciously converts the depraved woman’s affections from Satan to Himself.

your offspring and her offspring. Humanity is now divided into two communities: the redeemed, who love God, and the reprobate, who love self (John 8:33, 44; 1 John 3:8). The division finds immediate expression in the hostility of Cain against Abel (ch. 4). This prophecy finds ultimate fulfillment in the triumph of the Second Adam, and the community united with Him, over the forces of sin, death, and the devil (Dan. 7:13, 14; Rom. 5:12–19; 16:20; 1 Cor. 15:45–49; Heb. 2:14, 15).

bruise . . . bruise. Before His glorious victory, the woman’s Seed must suffer to win the new community from the serpent’s dominion (Is. 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46; 2 Cor. 1:5–7; Col. 1:24; 1 Pet. 1:11).

head . . . heel. The suffering Christ is victorious. He has already won the victory at the Cross by providing an atonement for the saints (Col. 2:13–15) and will consummate it at His Second Coming (2 Thess. 1:5–10)."

Note from the Reformation Study Bible on Genesis 3:15

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Ossuary Of James: Early Evidence For The Existence Of Jesus Christ

"After a more than five-year trial of 138 witnesses, more than 400 expositions and a 12,000-page trial transcript, Judge Aharon Farkash of the Jerusalem District Court has cleared defendants of all counterfeiting charges. His opinion on the case, rendered on March 14, has 474 pages.

Defendants Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch were cleared of all counterfeiting charges by Israeli Judge Aharon Farkash.

[...]

The most famous of the objects accused of being forgeries is an inscription on an ossuary or box of bones that reads "James the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." He received his first publication in the journal Biblical Archeology Review ) on October 21, 2002. The next day he was on the front page of almost every newspaper in the world, including the New York Times and Washington Post.

[...]

The judge cleared the accused of all charges of forgery.

Let us consider the accusation about the ossuary with the inscription "James the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." All (without exception) agree that the ossuary itself is authentic and ancient (first century). The question is whether the inscription in it is forged, or more specifically, whether the phrase "brother of Jesus" was recently added to the old inscription "James the son of Joseph."

The inscription "James the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" in the Ossuary of James is the best known of the case. Paleographic analyzes and the existence of ancient patina suggest that the inscription is authentic.

The first stop in any investigation on this question would be at the door of paleographers - scholars who can date and authenticate the inscriptions of certain specific historical periods based on the style and position of the letters. In this case, the inscription was authenticated by two of the world's greatest authorities in Palaeography at the present time, as previously mentioned, Andre Lemaire of the Sorbonne University and Ada Yardeni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

What is even more significant is that no paleographer of any reputation has suggested that this inscription may be a forgery. There is no "other side of the issue," speaking in terms of Palaeography.

Nor is the supposedly scientific charge upheld. Professor Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University said he had found what he called the "James Bond", which covered the inscription to conceal evidence of forgery. The "James Bond" was, he said, a mixture of limestone and hot water that formed a false patina. However, it was discovered there was no way to make the hypothetical mixture of Goren fix on the surface of the Ossuary without the addition of an acid; traces of it would be found - and they were not there. This so-called James Bond "explanation" is so fragile that it can be removed with a toothpick; She was ill "washed up". Yuval Goren himself admitted that his "James Bond" could be the result of cleaning the ossuary (some traders routinely wash objects with hot water to highlight inscriptions).

More important than this is that the original ancient patina can be seen in various parts of the inscription, including one of the letters of the word "Jesus". Before the trial, Yuval Goren had stated that there was no ancient patina in the inscription. When he was presented on the cross-examination with new photos taken by one of the defendant's experts, Professor Goren was stunned and asked for a recess to allow him time to examine the box itself rather than the photos. He returned the next day and admitted in court that there was, in fact, original old patina in some of the parts of the inscription. However, he attempted to explain this, suggesting that the forger had incorporated ancient scratches into the naturally formed patina, pointing this as evidence of the forged parts of the inscription. About this, Hershel Shanks, editor of the journal Biblical Archaeological Review, said: "If anyone believes this, I'd like to say that I own a public bridge and I'd like to sell it a lot cheaper. " In fact, the presence of this original ancient patina throughout the inscription was observed long before the judgment, by Orna Cohen, one of the members of the committee of the Antiquities Authority of Israel, but no one paid attention to this. The IAA knew where it wanted to go.

There are other, simpler reasons for believing that the inscription is not a forgery. Oded Golan had owned the James Ossuary since the 1970s. He proved this with old photographs authenticated by a former FBI agent in which a type of paper is used that is no longer used at a later date. And Golan has never tried to sell the ossuary or to disclose the inscription. He strongly states that he did not even know that the New Testament mentions James as the brother of Jesus, or as he said, "I never knew that God could have a brother." Even more understandably, he had no idea that the name Ya'acov as written in the ossuary) and Jacob (for any Israeli) was translated as "James" in the New Testament in English."

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/verdict-not-guilty/

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Debunking Catholic Apologist De Maria's Rebuttal Of My Paper On The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologist De Maria once attempted to refute in the comments section of an article of his, where he had a dispute with a fellow blogger, to my main post addressing the perpetual virginity of Mary. My intention in sharing that article was only to clarify matters, but only resulted in more feisty objections that are addressed as follows:

          "The New Testament was originally passed on in Tradition. This is what Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-21)."

          First of all, those teachings were written down in epistles. Secondly, the Great Comission is about the preaching of the gospel (which is identified in Scripture). For a more in-depth examination of De Maria's claims regarding "Sacred Tradition", see this article:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/09/refuting-de-maria-on-roman-catholicism.html

          "The original Scriptures were not written in English. Nor were they written in modern Greek. They were written in ancient Greek and Latin. And they were written by Catholics who were simply writing down Catholic Doctrine. The same Doctrine which Jesus Christ passed down."

          The original New Testament was not composed in Latin. The Vulgate was a translation of the original manuscripts, and not without textual defects.

          It is not as though the vast majority of New Testament scholars who are acquainted with Koine Greek would be in disagreement with my assessment.

          Notice how De Maria continually argues in a circle as he fights tooth and nail for the Roman Catholic dogma of Mary's perpetual virginity. The Roman Catholic Church is infallible because the Roman Catholic Church has just got to be infallible.

          "You're reading the New Testament in modern English 2000 years removed from the ancient Jewish culture which gave birth to the Christian faith."

          The real problem is that the Roman Catholic Church has derived its dogma from extra-biblical apocryphal sources. See this article for more details:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-spurious-origin-of-marys-perpetual.html

          The following excerpt from the Jewish Encyclopedia is also helpful here:

          "In post-Biblical literature Jewish opinion stands out clear and simple: marriage is a duty, and celibacy a sin. "The world was created to produce life; He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited" (Isa. xlv. 18; Giṭ. iv. 5 = 'Eduy. i. 13). "Be fruitful, and multiply" (Gen. i. 28) is taken as a command; marriage with a view to that end is a duty incumbent upon every male adult (according to some the duty devolves also upon woman; Yeb. vi. 8; Maimonides, "Yad," Ishut, xv.; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, 1, 13)...Abstention from marital intercourse on the part of the husband exceeding a legitimate limit, which varies with the different occupations, may be taken by the wife as ground for a divorce (Ket. v. 6, 7). A single man who is past twenty may be compelled by the court to marry (Shulḥan 'Aruk, l.c. i. 3)."

          "[in response to Matthew 13:55-57 and Mark 6:3-4] Only if you follow the traditions of men which Protestants believe. However, Tradition and Scripture tell us that Jesus was an only child. Therefore, any use of the word "adelphoi" must be in the general sense that we use the word "brother" today. As in good friend, cousin, church companion, and many other senses."

          Nowhere does Scripture expressly state that Jesus Christ was an only child or that Mary remained a virgin for her entire life. Never in Scripture do we see the Angel Gabriel or some other messenger sent by God to tell Joseph that he was not to consummate his marriage. The basis for Mary's perpetual virginity is uninspired legends and unreasonable inferences that go far beyond Scripture.

          Nobody claims that adelphoi always means physical brothers. That is obviously untrue. Nonetheless, the New Testament does not use the Greek word to mean cousin. It uses a separate word for cousin (Colossians 4:10). The context of these passages demands that we understand the brothers and sisters to mean blood relatives. British Methodist theologian and scholar Adam Clarke said the following in his commentary on Matthew 13:55:

          "Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph the carpenter, Mary his wife, Jesus their son, and their other children? Prejudice apart, would not any person of plain common sense suppose, from this account, that these were the children of Joseph and Mary, and the brothers and sisters of our Lord, according to the flesh?"

          If a person wants to argue that the brothers and sisters of Jesus are from a previous marriage, then one question that needs to be answered is why they were nowhere mentioned during the escape to and return from Egypt (Matthew 2). The context only presents Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.

          "And the writer knew that Catholics would understand the true meaning of the word. And if they didn't, they have an infallible Teacher to correct them."

          The point being stressed here is that the New Testament uses language in such a precise fashion that the Roman Catholic dogma of Mary's perpetual virginity is rendered highly improbable. Why would the Holy Spirit move people to write in a way that contradicts our common sense?

          If the inspired writers actually believed this teaching, then why did they not forthrightly proclaim it as truth?

          "[In response to Matthew 1:24-25] The entire idea presented there is "knew her not". This is a perfect example of you treating ancient Jewish speech patterns the same as modern English. But you assume too much. heos hou, or "until", was used differently by Jews than by modern English speakers. So, let's look at the Scripture. Matthew "knew her not until". To, English speakers, that means that Matthew did not know her until a certain point in time and then he did. But to an ancient Jew, that isn't the case. Let me give you an example (2 Samuel 6:23)."

          As an answer to the above quibbles, this excerpt from a paper by Wayne Jackson has been cited:

          "Matthew declares that Joseph “knew not” (i.e., was not sexually intimate with; cf. Gen. 4:1) Mary “until [heos hou] she had given birth to a son” (1:25).While the expression heos hou does not absolutely demand that Joseph and Mary were intimate after Jesus’ birth, that would be the normal conclusion, unless contextual considerations indicated otherwise (cf. 2 Sam. 6:23). In fact, “elsewhere in the New Testament (17:9 24:39; cf. John 9:18) the phrase (heos hou) followed by a negative always implies that the negated action did take place later” (Lewis, 1.42).There is no valid reason why Matthew 1:25 should be the exception."

          "Even that doesn't show a change of status after the wedding day, if read in the culture of the ancient Jews."

          There is no reason to believe that a husband and a wife would not consummate their marriage. Relations between marital partners is commended in Scripture (Genesis 2:22-24; Matthew 19:5-6). Children in Jewish culture were in fact viewed as blessings from God (Psalm 127:3-5).

          According to Jewish Law, one could not be considered married without consummation. Celibacy was not the norm, although it was advocated by the some who were part of the Essenes. Intimacy is a part of God's design for marriage. It is a measure that brings about sanctity and honor.

          The author of Hebrews said the following to believers who were in a pagan culture that was consumed by perverse lusts:

          "Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4)

          "[In response to Matthew 1:18] Again, since Catholics have always knows that they never came together sexually, then we know that there must be an alternate meaning. That meaning must be "before they came together in one household."

          The meaning of these passages of Scripture is plain and obvious, unless we have a previous commitment to something else.

          Matthew 1 speaks of being betrothed but not yet having slept together. As a result, Joseph thinks Mary has committed adultery until he hears from Gabriel that the conception is miraculous. Consider also the words of Mary as she was given the news of being in God's favor:

          "How will this be,"Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34)

          If Mary was to be a perpetual virgin, then the aforementioned points would not make any sense. The details provided by the gospel narratives strongly indicate normal marital relations between Mary and Joseph. The reading of Matthew 1:18 (the phrase "came together" is a reference to consummation rather than cohabitation) that is so heavily disputed by Roman Catholic apologists offers further support for the virgin birth.

          "[In response to Psalm 69:8-9] Lol! Really? That is a prophet saying that he has alienated himself from the entire nation of Israel. Have you ever heard that Israel killed the prophets. Come on."

          Psalm 69 is obviously Messianic in nature, although not every detail can be applied to Jesus Christ. Psalm 69:9 was quoted by Christ in John 2:17. Reading the context of Psalm 69 gives us the imagery of Him being alienated. That is exactly what has been reported in the gospel accounts (John 7:5). The text is troublesome for the Roman Catholic dogma of Mary's perpetual virginity because it refers to "my brothers" and "my mother's sons".

          "[Responding to Luke 2:7] Read about Jewish culture. It would do you a world of good. Ok, let's see. OT Jews were polygamous. Let's say that Jew#1 had two wives. One of them had the Firstborn son and that's all. The other had the rest of the children. All boys. The Firstborn would receive double the inheritance of the other boys. That's all. It doesn't mean that wife #1 had any more children. Jesus was Mary's first and only son."

          It would seem that one would be reading a prior assumption about the status of Mary's perpetual virginity onto the text and allowing that to be the controlling principle in interpretation rather than understand the meaning of the text on its own terms. We are not given any indication that 1) most Jews were polygamous, 2) that Joseph was polygamous, or even 3) that Joseph could afford to have multiple wives. The statements that there were Jews who were polygamous and that firstborn children received a greater inheritance are true of themselves, but are beside the point and incidental.

          How come Luke did not simply eliminate the potential for future controversy by simply saying "only born" (especially knowing that he was a physician who was organized and also used that exact phrase in relation to the birth of children elsewhere)?

          "[Responding to the question of how marriage consummation would defile Mary] One of the main reasons is that we know that Joseph was a righteous man. In Scripture, righteous men do not have sexual relations with other men's wives. Joseph knew that the Holy Spirit had brought about the birth of Christ. And that means that Mary had become the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Joseph would not dare come to know her physically."

          Scripture never affirms or even hints at the idea that the Holy Spirit "married" Mary or she became His spiritual wife. That is an entirely man-created idea. The Holy Spirit is not like a Roman or Greek god who has sexual relations with a human being and a god-man is born. The Holy Spirit is not physical, which makes that reasoning logically impossible, not merely theologically inaccurate. Mary was simply "overshadowed" by the Holy Spirit and His divine power created Jesus in her womb.

          "[In Response to John 7:1-10, Acts 1:13-14, and Galatians 1:18-19] In all those passages, the context shows that they were either some other relative or close friends, but in context with the Traditions which were passed down by Jesus Christ, we know that they were not the children of Mary."

          In all those passages, the context shows that they were, as the passage would indicate, the half-siblings of Jesus. There is simply no reason to assume that these passages mean anything other than precisely what they say, except if there is some peculiar system of doctrine one is trying to project that those passages of Scripture are in conflict with. Unfortunately, that strongly appears to be the nature of the situation for Roman Catholics here. There is simply no valid reason to believe that the siblings of Jesus were cousins or from some previous marriage. Those theories are bereft of a truthful foundation and are only designed to serve an obsessive desire to make Mary seem as if she were a goddess.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why Does God Allow War?

"As I contemplate human nature and human life, what astonishes me is not that God allows and permits war, but the patience and the long-suffering of God. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He suffered the evil, perverse ways of the children of Israel for centuries; and now for nearly two thousand years He has patiently borne with a world that in the main rejects and refuses His loving offer, even in the Person of His only-begotten Son. The question that needs to be asked is not, “Why does God allow war?” but rather, “Why does God not allow the world to destroy itself entirely in its iniquity and its sin?” Why does He in His restraining grace set a limit to evil and to sin, and a bound beyond which they cannot pass?

Oh, the amazing patience of God with this sinful world! How wondrous is His love! He has sent the Son of His love to our world to die for us and to save us; and because men cannot and will not see this, God permits and allows such things as war to chastise and to punish us, to teach us and to convict us of our sins, and above all to call us to repentance and acceptance of His gracious offer. The vital question for us therefore is not to ask, “Why does God allow war?” The question for us is to make sure that we are learning the lesson and repenting before God for the sin in our own hearts and in the entire human race that leads to such results. May God grant us understanding and the true spirit of repentance, for His name’s sake."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Walking with God Day by Day: 365 Daily Devotional Selections

The False Authority Of The Mormon Priesthood

  • Discussion:
          -The Mormon church explains its dogma of an ordained ministerial priesthood after the order of Melchizedek and its secondary Aaronic priesthood as follows:

         “There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood. Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest. Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood. All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood. … The second priesthood is called the Priesthood of Aaron, because it was conferred upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations. Why it is called the lesser priesthood is because it is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:1–5, 13–14)

         Melchizedek, whose name literally means king of peace and righteousness, was a distinct kind of priest who directs our attention to the perfect, unique priesthood of Jesus Christ. The position of High Priest is exclusively reserved for Christ. His priesthood, which is of Melchizedek's priestly descent, is superior to the Levitical priesthood because it is eternal (Hebrews 7:11-12; 23-25). Jesus Christ forever lives to make intercession for those who approach Him. This source provides the following commentary on the meaning of the word "unchangeable" as rendered in Hebrews 7:24:

          "The key word is “unchangeable” (aparabatos), which suggests that the Lord’s priesthood is imperishable. Some suggest that the meaning of the Greek term is simply “permanent, unchangeable” (F.W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000, p. 97), which, of itself, would eliminate the Mormon idea. But even more to the point is the proposed meaning “non-transferable” (C. Spiqu, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994, 1.143-44). That would specifically deny that it could pass to other persons."

         Thus, the Mormon church's claim to possessing a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek has been fabricated out of thin air. It has not been sanctioned by God. In other words, men have arrogated for themselves a position that only Christ can take on. The Bible nowhere makes mention of a distinguished hierarchy of priests who preside in accordance with Melchizedek. In fact, this ruling male figure is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament as he blessed Abraham (Genesis 14) and in a Messianic Psalm (Psalm 110).

         Furthermore, the assertion that Mormons have been conferred with an Aaronic priesthood is refuted because that ministerial office has been fulfilled by the Cross. Jesus Christ is the only way in which man in his sinful condition can come near to God. The tearing of the veil in the temple signifies the termination of the Lord dwelling in tabernacles made with human hands (Matthew 27:51-54). The type of priesthood set forth by the New Testament is the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:5-6).

          The priesthood that was operative during the Old Testament was kept specially for Aaron and offspring within the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:6). That would disqualify the Mormon priesthood because it contains Gentiles. The Mormon priesthood also does not offer blood sacrifices and follow various temple ceremonies as prescribed by the Law. And lastly, this article excerpt is noteworthy here:

          "Researchers who have closely examined the D&C and primary source accounts found that the official narrative of priesthood restoration contains numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Scholars also raise important questions that expose potential weaknesses in Smith and Cowdery's story of their miraculous ordinations. For example, if Joseph and Oliver had experienced events as remarkable and life-altering as divine visitations by John the Baptist and three of Christ's apostles, why would they not tell others? These miraculous ordinations were not publicly revealed or documented until five years after they supposedly occurred. Moreover, if the restoration of the priesthood is a fundamental tenet of the LDS Church, why was this revelation excluded from the Book of Commandments when it was originally published in 1833, only revealed in the revised and re-named Doctrine and Covenants in 1835?"

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Uniqueness Of The Judeo-Christian God

"Recently, archaeologists working in northern Peru made a discovery they called “disturbing and disquieting.”

Digging in the outskirts of the pre-Columbian city of Chan-Chan, they found the remains of about 140 children and 200 animals, mostly llamas. The condition of the children’s remains made it clear that they had been sacrificed along with the animals, perhaps in response to some emergency or dire threat. According to the Washington Post, it’s the site of “the largest known child sacrifice in the world.”

While this is a very unpleasant subject, it serves as a gruesome reminder of how biblical religion, especially Christianity, changed the course of human history.

Chan-Chan was the capital of the Chimú empire. Before their disturbing find, the archaeologists were not aware that this ancient people practiced child sacrifice. Their hypothesis is that the sacrifices were in response to a severe weather event, perhaps a strong El Niño, which caused catastrophic flooding.

Whatever precipitated the child sacrifice, the Chimú were far from alone in their attempts to placate the gods by slaughtering their children. Their conquerors, the Incan Empire, also practiced child sacrifice in times of emergency.

In the Old World, the Carthaginians, who were descended from the biblical city of Tyre, sacrificed children to their gods at shrines the Hebrew Bible called “tophets.” The Romans made a big deal out of this fact in their anti-Carthaginian propaganda, conveniently omitting the fact that they did the same in response to the Carthaginian general Hannibal’s invasion of Italy.

The Carthaginians weren’t the only ancient people who emulated Canaanite child sacrifice. Pre-exilic Israel practiced this demonic rite, as well. In Jeremiah 7, the Lord denounces the “high place of Topheth” where the people “burn their sons and daughters in the fire.”

On account of this abomination, the Lord said that “I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall become a waste.”

Then, of course, there’s that one specific example cited by the Washington Post in its article about the find in Peru: the “Binding of Isaac” in Genesis 22. While parts of this story are perplexing and even troubling, it’s inclusion along with the other examples misses a crucial point: There was never a chance Isaac would be sacrificed.

If Abraham, to quote Bob Dylan’s paraphrase, had replied to God “Man, you must be putting me on,” Isaac lives. If, as actually happened, Abraham was willing to be fully obedient to God’s instruction, Isaac lives because God prevents the sacrifice.

This God, as Christianity would later teach the world, doesn’t demand our children as a sacrifice, but rather sacrificed His own Son on our behalf."


https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/obvious-parallels-between-discovered-child-sacrifice-site-and-recent

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Answering The Mormons On Baptism For The Dead

  • Discussion:
          -The official Mormon website explains its dogma of baptism for the dead as follows:

          "Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf...Because He is a loving God, the Lord does not damn those people who, through no fault of their own, never had the opportunity for baptism. He has therefore authorized baptisms to be performed by proxy for them. A living person, often a descendant who has become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is baptized in behalf of a deceased person. This work is done by Church members in temples throughout the world."

          Mormons cite 1 Corinthians 15:29 as biblical evidence that Jesus Christ and the apostles sanctioned their strange practice. However, the problem with this argument is that baptism for the dead is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Paul nowhere indicates or approves of Christians holding such a custom. The concept is not taught here. The following explanatory note on Paul's language in verse 29 is pertinent here:

          "Paul concludes his argument for the reality of the resurrection of the dead in 15:29–34. He asks several rhetorical questions to add weight to his argument. The first question he asks has been the source of much discussion. “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?” (v. 29). Numerous interpretations of the meaning of this verse have been suggested.xiv While not without its difficulties, Thiselton’s suggestion is perhaps the most plausible. He argues that baptism on behalf of the dead “refers to the decision of a person or persons to ask for, and to receive baptism as a result of the desire to be united with their believing relatives who have died.”xv In other words, dying believers would urge their unbelieving family members to become Christians in order that they might be together again. Paul, then, is referring to those unbelievers who converted to Christ for this reason as those who were “baptized on behalf of the dead.” If there is no resurrection of the dead, their conversion/baptism was for naught. Paul’s second question concerns the dangers he places himself in (vv. 30–34). If there is no resurrection, then what he is doing is foolish in the extreme."

          In other words, the Apostle Paul said that a tradition among unbelievers was to get baptized for the sake of their deceased loved ones with the yearning and aspiration of being united when they were raised from the grave. His intention is not to provide commentary regarding the efficacy or truthfulness of baptism for the dead, but to illustrate that even the pagan world looked forward to being raised from the dead. One error that persisted amongst some of the first century Corinthian Christians that Paul addressed was a denial of the reality of the resurrection. In addition, this excerpt on the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead is insightful here:

         "The silence of the Book of Mormon on baptism for the dead is an important fact, for it means that a single verse in the Bible — 1 Corinthians 15:29 — constitutes its sole mention in ancient Christian Scripture. This is acknowledged by the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (a 1992 work published under the supervision of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church) — “He [Paul] refers to a practice of vicarious baptism, a practice for which we have no other evidence in the Pauline or other New Testament or early Christian writings."

          This practice is patently absurd when approached from a biblical standpoint. One's eternal destiny is forever sealed at the moment of physical death (Luke 16:22-26). God only rewards individuals according to their own conduct (Ezekiel 18:20). Thus, Scripture contradicts any notion of baptism for the dead. Nonetheless, the Mormon church proclaims itself in a hubristic manner to be the bastion of divinely revealed truth.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Mormon Misuse Of 1 Corinthians 8:5

  • Discussion:
          -One common proof text cited by Mormons in their attempts to defend polytheistic views is 1 Corinthians 8:5 (it is argued that their doctrine is justified because the Apostle Paul said "...there are many gods and many lords"). Nonetheless, the answer to this argument lies in the verse itself when cited in its entirety:

          "For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords."

          This is clearly a reference to the idols of this world, as Paul in discussing matters of Christian liberty says many so-called gods. Anything can become a false god if whatever hypothetical object takes over our lives. The preceding and succeeding verses spell the point out emphatically:

           "Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that [there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one." (v. 4)

          "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him." (v. 6)

          The inspired writer makes a creedal statement in his exclusively affirming Christianity to be the truth.

          1 Corinthians 8:5 contradicts the Mormon doctrine of men working to become gods because Paul says in context that there is only one God. In other words, Mormon apologists have made an argument that backfires. The uniform testimony of Scripture is that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 4:35-39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 17:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; James 2:19). There is no other besides Him. The idea that God the Father was once a mortal man who worked to obtain His position of deity is contradicted by Scripture because it says that He is eternal (Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17).

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Philosophical Incoherence Of The Mormon God

  • Discussion:
          -The Mormon church professes belief in a plurality of gods. It teaches a concept called eternal progression, which is the idea that men can work to attain godhood. The Mormon understanding of deity can not only be easily refuted from a scrupulously biblical point of view, but also suffers due to being by its very nature logically inconsistent.

          The problems arise from the fact that Mormons believe God to have once been a mortal human being who needed to reach a standard of perfection in order to be considered divine. The propositions of God being uncreated and God once being formed are mutually exclusive.

          If God is not without beginning or end, then He must be subject to an additional transcendental truth (which cannot exist without an infinite mind). He must be held accountable to a standard higher than Himself. He must be under the dominion of some other gods. It would be self-contradictory to argue that God has always been eternal and unchanging while at the same time believing that He had to become a perfect deity. Yet, that is what the Mormons proclaim as truth.

          The Mormon concept of God leaves us with numerous questions. Who was the first god? Who within the infinite succession of gods set the universe into motion? On what basis could there be moral absolutes? How did the Mormon god obtain omniscience in the first place (appealing to infinite regression does not get us anywhere)? If all Mormon gods are supposed to have mortal human bodies, then what about the Holy Spirit who does not have one and is considered a god?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Jewish Scholarship Confirming That The Trinity Is Not Incompatible With Judaism

"The ancient Israelite knew two Yahwehs—one invisible, a spirit, the other visible, often in human form. The two Yahwehs at times appear together in the text, at times being distinguished, at other times not. Early Judaism understood this portrayal and its rationale. There was no sense of a violation of monotheism since either figure was indeed Yahweh. There was no second distinct god running the affairs of the cosmos. During the Second Temple period, Jewish theologians and writers speculated on an identity for the second Yahweh. Guesses ranged from divinized humans from the stories of the Hebrew Bible to exalted angels. These speculations were not considered unorthodox. That acceptance changed when certain Jews, the early Christians, connected Jesus with this orthodox Jewish idea. This explains why these Jews, the first converts to following Jesus the Christ, could simultaneously worship the God of Israel and Jesus, and yet refuse to acknowledge any other god. Jesus was the incarnate second Yahweh. In response, as Segal’s work demonstrated, Judaism pronounced the two powers teaching a heresy."

drmsh.com/the-naked-bible/two-powers-in-heaven

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Biblical Prohibitions Against Necromancy Pose A Significant Problem For Soul Sleep

  • Discussion:
          -The Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, Seventh-Day Adventists, and other unorthodox sects teach that the human soul ceases to remain conscious upon physical death and entering into the intermediate state (which is usually termed soul sleep). Yet, one tremendous difficulty for that view arises as Scripture emphatically condemns necromancy:

          "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying." (Leviticus 19:26)

          "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

          "And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn." (Isaiah 8:19-20)

          Why even try contacting dead people if their souls are not consciously existing? Certainly, the Jews would have known that the souls of the deceased were no longer aware of anything at all. Such efforts at communication would have already been known to be guaranteed failures (not that it works anyway). So it is obvious that biblical prohibitions against contacting the dead presuppose conscious life after death. If soul sleep is true, then such commandments from God would be meaningless.

          In addition, such a teaching (no conscious life after physical death) violates the clear witness of Scripture:

          "Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:23-26)

          "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead." (James 2:26)

          "I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." (2 Peter 1:13-14)

Politicizing Pediatrics: How The AAP’s Transgender Guidelines Undermine Trust In Medical Authority

"The proportion of children and young adults who say that they are transgender is rising at an extraordinary rate, not only in the United States but in other countries as well. In 2009–2010, only forty girls in the United Kingdom requested reassignment to the male gender. In 2017–2018, that number was 1,806 girls, a rise of more than 4,000 percent in less than a decade. The UK Government Equalities Office (yes, it’s a thing) has announced that it will investigate.

Our nation’s largest association of pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recently released new guidelines for the evaluation and management of children and adolescents who identify as transgender. Previous guidelines have recognized that best practice depends on the age of the child. The great majority of five-year-old boys who say that they are girls will not persist in that conviction; ten years later, most of those boys will say that they are boys. They may be gay, they may be straight, but they are now sure that they are boys. They no longer want to be girls.

Five-year-olds are not mature adults. They are young children. As they grow up, they change in profound ways, particularly after the onset of puberty. Expert pediatricians used to understand that. They no longer do, at least not with regard to transgender identification. The new guidelines from the AAP explicitly eliminate any role for age in evaluation of the child. According to the new guidelines, any child who wants to transition to the other sex should be “affirmed.” Regardless of age. If a five-year-old boy tells you that he is a girl, your job is to buy him a dress and change his name to Emily. Any other response is outdated and transphobic. The authors specifically reject any “watchful waiting” for prepubescent children.

These new guidelines are not based in evidence. On the contrary, they contradict the available research. For example, in one study, 139 boys who persistently said they were girls were enrolled around seven years of age. When researchers tracked down those boys many years later (averaging thirteen years later) only seventeen out of 139, or 12 percent, still said they were girls or had doubts about their gender identity. This study, and others like it, demonstrate that the majority of boys who say they are girls prior to the onset of puberty will not say they are girls after the onset of puberty. But the American Academy of Pediatrics is now on record prioritizing the opinion of a five-year-old over the considered judgment of the child’s parents, even suggesting that the pediatrician should take (unspecified) legal action if those ignorant parents refuse to obey their child’s wishes to transition to the other gender."

https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/politicizing-pediatrics-how-aaps-transgender-guidelines-undermine-trust-medical-authority

Monday, May 6, 2019

Should Translators Place A Comma Before Or After The Word "Today" In Luke 23:43?

  • Discussion:
           -"And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)

          This passage of Scripture has played a significant role in the debate on the immortality of the soul. It has traditionally been argued that since Jesus Christ promised the repentant thief who was crucified alongside Him entrance into heaven that very day upon physical death, our souls must continue to remain conscious as they depart into the supernatural realm. That interpretation would indeed fly in the face of the aberrational view known as conditional immortality.

          Proponents of this view correctly point out that the Greek language has no commas. Punctuation marks were added to manuscripts after the New Testament was written. Based on that fact, it has been argued that the correct placement of the comma should be incorporated after the word today. In other words, it has been suggested that Luke 23:43 should read as follows: "Truly I say to you today, you shall be with Me in Paradise." That textual change would alter our understanding of the verse being discussed. It would push the timing of believers entering into paradise sometime in the future at the final resurrection.

          While both variant readings are theoretically acceptable, the objective of this paper is to argue in defense of a comma being inserted prior to the word today.

          First and foremost, the context demands that we understand the reference to today as meaning on that very same day. The dying criminal understood very well on what day that Christ spoke those comforting words. There was no need for Him to emphasize the timing of today. It would literally make no sense for a man who is suffocating and dying on a crucifix to make such a hasty waste of his words.

          In this grand episode of the incarnate Lord gently and affectionately showing forth His clemency in response to the converted convict's petition, we see Him referencing to a paradise that reflected imagery of popular Jewish thought in regards to the unseen Edenic realm. This abode for the righteous is analogous to Abraham's bosom.
           -"The time-marker in v43 (“Today”) stands in studied contrast to the time-marker in v42 (“When you come into your kingdom”). The thief petitions Jesus to remember him at the Parousia. Jesus responds by assuring him of something even better than he petitioned. Instead of having to wait until the final Judgment, the thief will enter immediately into heaven, in the company of Christ, at the moment of death."
  • Consider This Note From The NET Bible On Luke 2:11 As It Tells Us The Manner In Which The Word Today Is Used In Luke's Writing:
           -"sn The Greek word for today (σήμερον, sēmeron) occurs eleven times in the Gospel of Luke (2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 12:28; 13:32-33; 19:5, 9; 22:34, 61; 23:43) and nine times in Acts. Its use, especially in passages such as 2:11, 4:21, 5:26; 19:5, 9, signifies the dawning of the era of messianic salvation and the fulfillment of the plan of God. Not only does it underscore the idea of present fulfillment in Jesus’ ministry, but it also indicates salvific fulfillment present in the church (cf. Acts 1:6; 3:18; D. L. Bock, Luke [BECNT], 1:412; I. H. Marshall, Luke, [NIGTC], 873)."
  • Dr. Timothy E. Saleska, Professor Of Exegetical Theology At Concordia University, Gives These Pertinent Remarks:
           -"The reason that almost all translators place the comma before “today” is because of the expression by Christ: “Verily I say unto you…” That expression, used exclusively by Christ, occurs approximately 100 times in the Gospels and its intent is always to emphasize the statement that follows; in this case, “…today you shall be with me in paradise.” This is the strongest reason for placing the comma where almost all translators throughout the history of the church have placed it. It fits the meaning and intent of Christ’s promise to the thief that he would be with him that day in paradise. Christ wants him to be certain of that. If the comma is placed after “today” i.e. “verily I say unto you today, you shall be with me in paradise” the word “today” is superfluous. It is obviously “today,” there is no reason to say it; it confuses the meaning and intent. Also, why would Christ change the formula “verily I say unto you” emphasizing what follows, in just this one instance, when it is stated with the specific purpose I have indicated, everywhere else?"
  • Following Is A Relevant Excerpt From John Gill's Exposition Of The Bible:
           -"Some would remove the stop, and place it after "today", and read the words thus, "I say unto thee today"; as if Christ only signified the time when he said this, and not when the thief should be with him in paradise; which, besides it being senseless, and impertinent, and only contrived to serve an hypothesis, is not agreeably to Christ's usual way of speaking, and contrary to all copies and versions. Moreover, in one of Beza's exemplars it is read, "I say unto thee, hοτι sêmεrοn that today thou shalt be with me", &c. and so the Persic and Ethiopic versions seem to read, which destroys this silly criticism."
  • Patristic Scholar Jerome Offers The Following Remarks On Luke 23:43:
           -"I feel confident that my words are true: conversion can never be too late. The words to the dying robber are a pledge of this: Verily I say unto you, today shall you be with me in paradise." (Letter 39, To Paula)
  • What About The Inserted Comma Found In Codex Vaticanus? (excerpt taken from this excellent study):
           -"The Vaticanus manuscript was originally written in the fourth century in brown ink, with a corrector soon thereafter making some slight changes. Then, a later scribe in the tenth or eleventh century traced over the lettering in black ink, skipping those letters or marks he thought to be incorrect, and making some additional changes 13. As noted, Mr. Stafford (citing a letter from a Vatican Library scholar) says the dot is "faded brown" and concludes that it dates from the fourth century and not from the later medieval copyist. While the color may indicate an early date for the dot, this is not certain. Even if it is, it has not been established that it is from the original hand or the 4th century corrector, and the fact that it was not reinforced by the later corrector indicates that he regarded it as unintentional or in error."
  • Luke 24:37-39 Is Further Support Of Souls Remaining Conscious Apart From The Body After Physical Death (the following excerpt is taken from the apologetics commentary linked in the previous bulletin)
           -"If the rest of Scripture does not support the idea that the thief's soul could exist apart from his body, then surely the disciples would know this and so would not have thought that a living Jesus could be a spirit. Even if the disciples were confused on this point, why didn't Jesus correct them instead of encouraging them in this "unscriptural" belief? In fact, Jesus confirms the idea that He could have been a spirit, but for the fact that he possessed his body! If spirits can exist apart from their bodies, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that the spirit of the thief will be with Jesus the day he dies, and to conclude that we may be with Him, too, if we place our faith in Him, as the thief did."

Marian Idolatry In The Roman Catholic Church

''The world of today is in desperate need of a mother,'' whispered Prof. Mark Miravalle as he sat behind his desk at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, carefully fingering a string of rosary beads.

Half a world away, inside the Vatican, yet another enormous box arrived filled with petitions asking Pope John Paul II to exercise his absolute power to proclaim a new and highly debated dogma: that the Virgin Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus and cooperates fully with her son in the redemption of mankind.

Mr. Miravalle, 41, began the petition drive four years ago from his obscure position as a professor of Mariology -- the study of Mary -- at one of the most conservative Catholic universities in the nation. Since then the pope has received more than six million signatures from 148 countries on petitions asking him to give the Virgin Mary the ultimate promotion.

In addition to ordinary Catholics, Mr. Miravalle has received support from 550 bishops and 42 cardinals, including Cardinal John O'Connor and Mother Teresa before their deaths. Along the way his movement has laid bare a deep-seated conflict between wildly popular devotion to the Virgin Mary and the efforts of the established church to keep that devotion in check.

If Mr. Miravalle's campaign succeeds and John Paul II proclaims the Virgin Mary as a co-redeemer, she would be a vastly more powerful figure, something close to a fourth member of the Holy Trinity and the primary female face through which Christians experience the divine. Specifically, Roman Catholics would be required to accept three new spiritual truths: that Mary is co-redemptrix, as the pope terms it, and participates in people's redemption; that Mary is mediatrix and has the power to grant all graces; and that Mary is ''the advocate for the people of God,'' in Mr. Miravalle's words, and has the authority to influence God's judgments. For the millions of Virgin Mary devotees who have signed Mr. Miravalle's petitions, these beliefs are already woven into their daily spiritual lives."

https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/23/arts/seeking-a-promotion-for-the-virgin-mary.html

Sunday, May 5, 2019

1 Timothy 2:5 ("One Mediator Between God And Man") And Roman Catholic Apologetics

  • Discussion:
          -Following is a rebuttal to Roman Catholic speaker Sonja Corbitt's article titled Is Jesus the Only Mediator?, which is an attempt to defend Roman Catholic Mariology and the priesthood in light of 1 Timothy 2:5. This critique begins with a citation from the author:

          "Indeed. Did Jesus carry you in his womb? And after your conception, gestation, and birth, what then? Have you not been fed, clothed, educated, loved, provided for, and protected by someone who is not Jesus unto this day?"

          This rhetoric is only designed to sidestep the real issue at hand. The question that remains is how the Apostle Paul could consistently affirm Jesus Christ to be our "one mediator" when there is supposedly a bunch of other lesser mediators. The author nowhere provides a clear cut explanation as to how this could be. In that same text, Paul says that there is "one God". Based on the reasoning of the author, should we deduce the existence of mini gods?

          "Does everything you know about Christ come from Christ himself? Did Jesus baptize you? Did Jesus teach you to read or read the Scriptures to you? Did Jesus hand-write your Bible, gather its writings, or physically protect the Deposit of Faith for 2000 plus years until you could receive it from his literal mouth?"

          This deluge of criticism utterly misses the point of what it means for Jesus Christ to be the mediator between God and mankind. Christ came to reconcile sinners to a holy God. Only He, being sinless and divine, would qualify to enable our redemption through His atonement sacrifice. We are to place our trust in Christ alone, not saints or angels. He mediates our prayers to God and draws us to Him. Christ alone is our heavenly intercessor.

          "You are prayed for by other people. You are taught the Word of God by a person. And people even forgive one another! All the time if they’re obedient to Jesus, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

          Scripture tells those on earth to pray for one another. When we ask another to pray for us, we are not praying to them or through them. When another believer prays for us, they are praying through Christ alone. Scripture clearly establishes Him as being the one mediator between God and man (Hebrews 9:13-15; Hebrews 12:24).

          There is a mountainous distinction between the forgiveness of interpersonal sin and the forgiveness before God made available through Christ's mediation. It is also fallacious to equate being an instructor with being a mediator.

          The Roman Catholic concepts of an ordained ministerial priesthood and prayers to departed saints extend far beyond human intercession and prayer. Merely petitioning God nowhere amounts to functioning as a channel of God's mercy to other people or mediating the benefits of Christ's sacrifice to them.

          "Catholic confession and forgiveness through a priest follows the same pattern. The Pharisees also made the “God is the only mediator” claim against Jesus in this very matter: “No man can forgive sins, but God only” (Luke 5:21).

          The point that Jesus Christ makes in Luke 5 is that He is God in the flesh. So yes, He would indeed have the authority to forgive sins. Also, there is an element of irony that is worthy of consideration here. Even the Scribes and Pharisees of the Law were not arrogant enough to think that they had the ability to pardon the sins of God's people. Yet, the Roman Catholic priesthood has without guilt or embarrassment took upon itself precisely that role.

          Some may interject the argument that God alone forgives sin through a priest. But that premise is self-defeating. Our common sense indicates to us that in such a scenario there would still be an additional party involved in Jesus Christ's mediatorship. Believers are to approach God for forgiveness directly through Jesus. We do not need to consult sinful men in order to access the grace provided through the cross (Hebrews 4:14-16). He is the only way man can approach God.

          Nonetheless, one deficient feature of modern-day evangelical ecclesiology is church discipline. Leadership accountability is meant to guard the purity of the church.

          "Jesus gave them a special power and authority through the Holy Spirit to carry out that command, and they [the apostles and using John 20:23 as a proof text] passed on that power and authority to others through the laying on of hands. The writings of the early Church indicate they understood confession the way the Catholic Church has understood it since then."

          A lot of unbiblical assumptions have to be read into John 20:23 in order to make it support Roman Catholic priestly absolution. This article delves into that subject in depth:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/05/is-confession-of-sins-to-priest-biblical.html

          The Roman Catholic Church's claim to apostolic succession is examined in this article:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/04/evaluating-roman-catholic-claims-of.html

          Further, how come we do not see Jewish priests in the Old Testament involved in auricular confession?

          Evidence for Jesus Christ instituting the Papacy is scant, which is even admitted by Roman Catholic scholars and theologians themselves. This article delves into that subject in depth:

          http://www.lucasbanzoli.com/2019/03/imperdivel-historiadores-e-teologos.html

          So, it is simply not true to claim that the Church of Rome today is the same as it was back in the days of Peter and Paul.

          "...we know he means that Jesus is the absolutely unique Mediator whose sole sacrifice is able to make eternal atonement for sin and therefore reconcile men eternally with God. All other mediators draw their efficacy from his office, insofar as they cooperate with and unite their efforts to his."

          The above quoted excerpt actually contains biblical truth, but none of it justifies the idea of other mediators drawing efficacy. Saints who are in the full presence of God in heaven are worshiping Him for eternity. Praying to another human is idolatry, and praying to a "saint" is exactly that. We are to pray to God alone. He is the only one who has power to answer any prayer.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Hail Holy Queen Of Heaven?

  • Discussion:
          -"Let us in all confidence choose as advocate before God the Immaculate and Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. She has destroyed all the heresies of the world...In heaven as Queen at the right hand of her only Son, clothed in golden raiment and all manner of jewels, there is nothing that she cannot obtain from him." (Pope Pius IX, Quanta cura, December 8, 1864)

          If Mary had really accomplished what the pope claimed regarding the abolishment of all heresy, then why are we still encountering atheists, other world religions, and pseudo-Christian cults? And where in the Bible are we given such an impressive description of Mary?

          The constant theme of the New Testament is centered on Jesus Christ and His merits alone. To illustrate the point, consider how John the Baptist had stated that "Christ must increase", whereas he himself "must decrease" (John 3:30). It is not as though Mary would express disagreement with statements exclusively honoring Jesus.

          Nonetheless, such movement toward Christ is nowhere to be found in the Roman Catholic Church. Mary's elevated status is not in any way disappearing, even though we never see it given to her in Scripture. Moreover, those words of having need decrease were uttered from the man whom the Word of God reputes to be the greatest born among women (Matthew 11:11). The truth of the matter is that anybody who obeys Christ is to be considered a part of His family (Matthew 12:46-50), which logically deemphasizes any alleged uniqueness that Catholics attribute to Mary.

          One factor that led the Apostle Paul to scolding the Corinthian Christians was their idolizing of men (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Yet, there are plenty of Catholic congregations named after and giant statues erected in the name of influential Christian figures. Such activity extends beyond mere honor. It is all an indicator of religious carnality (1 Corinthians 3:4-5). Paul goes as far as to credit all success in ministry to God using a gardening analogy (1 Corinthians 3:7). He even tells his audience that Jesus Christ is our irreplaceable foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). Thus, it would make perfect sense to say that every jot of our religious devotion rightfully belongs to Him alone.

          Not one time is Mary mentioned in Scripture as having divine or supernatural qualities. Roman Catholic saintly veneration is something that directly contradicts biblical doctrine.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Answering The Jehovah's Witness Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:50

  • Discussion:
          -A common proof text of the Jehovah's Witnesses cited in their rejection of Jesus Christ resurrecting bodily from the grave and for its so-called special class of 144,000 being resurrected as spirit beings is 1 Corinthians 15:50, which is cited as follows:

          "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable."

          Notice how Jesus said that He had flesh and bones so as to prove to His disciples that He was not merely a ghost (Luke 24:39). His blood was shed on the cross to make atonement for sin. So there is good chance that He does not have blood pumping in His veins.

          The final resurrection of the dead will not involve us leaving our mortal bodies behind to decompose. Rather, we will "put on" the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53-55). God will eventually perfect our physical bodies. Our nature will be restored back to what it was prior to the fall. This process will be done instantaneously (1 Corinthians 15:52). The phrase "flesh and blood" is a euphemism for humanity in its fallen state.

          We must be raised up and glorified to enter into the New Heavens and New Earth in the same manner that Christ was. He had a real, tangible body. He ascended in a human body (Acts 1), currently is a man mediating between believers and God (1 Timothy 2:5), and He will come again to judge the world as a man (Acts 17:31). Indeed, in Christ dwells (present tense) all the fullness of deity in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).

           Besides, the Lord took His faithful servant Enoch directly into heaven in his physical body (Genesis 5:24).

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Refutation Of The Jehovah's Witness Teaching On The 144,000

  • Discussion:
          -The Watchtower Society teaches that there is a literal, anointed class of 144,000 Christians who will inherit the kingdom of God and reign with Christ. Other believers who qualify to fit into a secondary rank will get to dwell together in a world of paradise under the headship of the 144,000. To summarize, the Jehovah's Witnesses maintain a distinction among types of redeemed people.

          But the problem with this doctrine is that it does not square with the plain witness of Scripture. The Bible does not place a specific limit on the number of people who can enjoy spending eternity with God in heaven. Everybody who asks receives, and everybody who seeks will find (Matthew 7:8). There is no spiritual distinction among those who have placed their trust in the righteousness of God (Romans 3:21-22). The Apostle Paul says without setting forth any categories that our citizenship is in the heavenly sanctuary above (Philippians 3:20). Jesus Christ said that the "household" of the Father is comprised of "many rooms" (John 14:2-3).

          If the Jehovah's Witnesses are correct in their understanding regarding the 144,000 people spoken of in Revelation chapters seven and fourteen, then that would mean (in order to remain consistent with the rest of the context) only a small remnant of Jewish people could be saved. With that point comes inferences that are ludicrous. Charles Taze Russell would be excluded from heaven because he was not a Jew. The Apostle Peter would be excluded from heaven because he was not a virgin. All women would be excluded from heaven because the context identifies all members of this group to be males (which would be sexist). Even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be excluded from heaven because they were not of the twelve tribes of Israel (contrary to what Jesus said in Matthew 8:11).

          These believing Jewish males could very well be ordained by God from the twelve tribes of Israel to preach the gospel in the midst of tribulational calamity (Revelation 14:1-3). Other Christians take this reference to the 144,000 to be a symbolic representation of the entire body of the saints. After all, Revelation 7:9-10 says that countless multitudes of people were standing before the throne of God worshiping and singing praises. Notwithstanding, the idea that only 144,000 people will enter heaven is untenable.

          Strangely enough, the idea of an eternal paradise earth for a secondary class of believers was introduced into the Jehovah's Witness sect by Joseph Rutherford, the second president of the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society. It was not taught by Charles Taze Russell, who is reputed to be the founder of what has been termed the Bible Study Movement. This teaching has not been present among the Jehovah's Witnesses from the very beginning.