Friday, August 30, 2019

Does Colossians 2:8 Condemn Philosophy?

        "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

        A number of well-meaning Christians understand these inspired words of the Apostle Paul to be a disapproval of us engaging in philosophy. The problem with this interpretation, however, is that it does not take into account the context in which this verse was written.

        Earlier within the context of his epistle, Paul said that we are to teach and proclaim the gospel in a state of wisdom (Colossians 1:27-28). He emphasizes properly knowing the mystery of God, which is the Person of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:2-3). Philosophy necessarily involves the acquisition of wisdom.

        There exists good philosophy and bad philosophy, with the former being in accordance with biblical doctrine. In other words, philosophy is not to be developed apart from or against the content of divine revelation. So, what type of philosophy was the Apostle Paul speaking against? Colossians 2:8 give us the answer: "according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."

        Paul was exhorting the church in Colossae not to be deceived into embracing various customs and practices that were rooted in Jewish and pagan mysticism (Colossians 2:16-23). In so doing, he was very much setting forth a philosophical proposition. The truth of the matter is that there no escaping philosophy. Everybody does it. Consequently, those who oppose philosophy are living by a self-defeating philosophy.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Zechariah 3:1-5 And Imputed Righteousness

       "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by." (Zechariah 3:1-5)

       In this text, we see Satan laying the charge of Joshua the high priest being unfit for his position. The filthy garments that he wore were representative of sin. Joshua was not qualified to be in a priestly office for that reason. It follows that he could not offer up sacrifices for the people. Thus, no forgiveness of sins could be obtained for the Jews.

       The filthy garments had to be removed from Joshua. God gave to him a set of pure garments so that he could fulfill his position as high priest. This turban had an inscription which read as: "Holy to the Lord" (Exodus 28:36-38). God carried out the work of bestowing new garments on Joshua Himself. He saved the Israelites from complete destruction. God clothed them in His own righteousness.

      The act of God providing a new garment for His people gives us a picture of Him putting away our sin and giving to us a foreign righteousness which is His. This incident shows us how God justifies sinners. Instead of giving to us the eternal punishment that we deserve because of our sins committed against Him, God out of His love for us has chosen to exercise mercy. Jesus Christ cloths us in His righteousness in order that we be reconciled to a holy God and render service that is acceptable to Him.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

More Than Half Of The Arabian World’s Young Adults Want To Leave

Lack of trust in Islamist governments, spike in non-religious identity are among chief reasons, report finds.

The results of a recent survey in the Arab world show that more than half of the region’s young adults are considering emigrating, and an increasing number of people are identifying as “non-religious.”

The Big BBC News Arabic Survey, a joint assessment by BBC News Arabic and Arab Barometer, a Princeton University-based non-partisan research network, is the largest in-depth survey ever carried out in the region….Fifty-two percent of the respondents aged 18-29 said they were considering emigrating to another country.

The survey indicates that 70% of young Moroccans are thinking about leaving their country and almost half of all the population in Sudan, Jordan and Morocco, and a third of Iraqis, are considering emigrating. “The number itself is alarming and has several components,” Dr. Mohammed Masbah, director of the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis in Rabat, told The Media Line.

“Politically, there is a lack of confidence in the government as youth believe the government cannot solve their problems,” Masbah said. “Socioeconomically, youth unemployment is high; the belief is it will get worse.”

However, the desire to emigrate has not increased universally across the region. Since 2013, it has decreased in the Palestinian Territories, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen and, most substantially, in Lebanon.

Abdul-Wahab Kayyali, a research associate at Arab Barometer, explained to The Media Line in an email that the yearning to emigrate in Lebanon might have decreased for several reasons. Some estimates put the number of people in the Lebanese diaspora at 15 million to 20 million people compared to the 5 million Lebanese in Lebanon, he noted.

“Many Lebanese are already immigrants, and many of those who want to immigrate have already done so,” he explained.

Economic factors were cited in the survey as the predominant reason for emigration. Conflict and instability that have recently plagued Yemen, Sudan, Algeria, Libya and the Palestinian Territories have increased the rate of economic deterioration."

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Grand Design: Is God Unnecessary?

"To explain our existence on the planet Earth, Hawking and Mlodinow simply claim that there are many planets so one must have the conditions necessary to support higher life forms. This statement is both naive and unscientific for we have enough information about the requirements necessary for a planet to support higher life forms that we are able to do a rough estimate of the probability of finding even a single planet like the earth. Many of the required parameters can be found in the book Rare Earth by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee....The astrophysicist Hugh Ross has done a rough estimation of the probability of finding a single earth-like planet by chance based on 322 parameters known to be necessary if a planet is to support higher life forms. He has taken correlations and longevity factors into account as well as the fact that there are at least 1022 planets in the visible universe. His order-of-magnitude calculation comes up with a probability of 10-282 for finding one planet capable of supporting higher life forms in the entire visible universe. Hawking and Mlodinow are wrong. Even with a lot of planets we should not expect to find one suitable for our existence purely by chance.

Finally, in regard to the laws of physics that seem to be finely-tuned to allow life to exist, Hawking and Mlodinow appeal to M-theory, the most recent and encompassing string theory. String theory proposes that the fundamental entities that make up our universe are "vibrating strings of energy." M-theory holds a lot of promise as a scientific theory, including the development of a consistent quantum theory of gravity, which has been an elusive goal for about 100 years. M-theory requires that there are 11 dimensions of space-time. M-theory has about 10500 possible configurations, and allows for the possibility that there are many universes. If ours is just one of many universes (a multiverse), with different laws and parameters of physics in every different universe, then just by chance one of the universes would have the laws and parameter falling in the necessary range to be able to support life. We are here because we happen to be in the right universe. There are many problems with proposing M-theory as the solution to the anthropic principle problem. Of course, the first problem is that, as with the no-boundary condition, there is no scientific evidence that M-theory is true, so a belief in M-theory is not based on science at all. Second, there are few, if any, definitive predictions of M-theory. For instance, we don't know if any of the "other" universes would actually be created or just have the potential of being created. When The Grand Design was published there was overwhelming criticism that M-theory would be invoked as the answer to the anthropic principle problem. For instance, in Scientific American, John Horgan wrote, "M-theory, theorists now realize, comes in an almost infinite number of versions, which "predict" an almost infinite number of possible universes. ... Of course, a theory that predicts everything really doesn't predict anything... Hawking is telling us that unconfirmable M-theory plus the anthropic tautology represents the end of that quest. If we believe him, the joke’s on us."1

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of The Grand Design is that the attempts made to support Hawking's and Mlodinow's case are, in many cases, simply unsophisticated, unsupportable, naive, and even fallacious. I believe that in a college class on logic, philosophy, or religion, this book would receive a failing grade. For example, the question is posed, "Are there any exceptions to the laws of physics?" or "Are miracles possible." The answer given is, "…the modern scientists answer to question two [exceptions to the laws of physics]…is…a scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene." This is a clear example of the logical fallacy of "begging the question." Hawking is dismissing miracles outright because they don't fit his preconceived definition of what science is. If this were your answer to the question of miracles in a logic class I guarantee you would get an F.

Consider also the quote from the book mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or someone as smart as Stephen Hawking, to realize how ridiculous this statement is. Gravity works within the space-time dimensions of our universe so it is impossible to invoke gravity as the cause of our universe. The physicist Gerald Schroeder wrote, "Therefore if the laws of nature created the universe, these laws must have existed prior to time; that is the laws of nature would be outside of time. What we have then is totally non-physical laws, outside of time, creating a universe. Now that description might sound somewhat familiar. Very much like the biblical concept of God: not physical, outside of time, able to create a universe."2

Many scientists and scholars who read the book The Grand Design were extremely disappointed that the arguments presented were poor and simplistic. In The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote, "The real news about The Grand Design is how disappointingly tinny and inelegant it is."3 I'm tempted to quote dozens more of the negative reviews to emphasize my point, but I'll let you look them up if you need more persuasion.

Once again, we see that the conclusions most consistent with the known facts from scientific observations and theoretical calculation are that the universe seems to have a transcendent beginning and seems to be designed with humans in mind, two ideas consistent with the teachings about the God of the Bible. This attempt by Hawking and Mlodinow in The Grand Design to circumvent such straightforward conclusions is entirely inadequate, illogical, and invalid. If you are looking for reasons to make God "unnecessary" you will have to look elsewhere."

Thursday, August 22, 2019

On The Significance Of The Lord's Supper

  • How The Worship Service Is To Be Conducted:
          -The church is to practice open worship gatherings.
          -The worship service is to be performed in an organized and harmonious format.
          -Hymns are sung, prayers and words of praise and thanksgiving (for the bread and cup) are spoken, and a reading of Scripture is done.
  • The Purpose Of The Worship Service:
          -Edification or instruction
          -Fellowship with God and with brethren
  • What Worship Is To Be Centered On:
          -Worship is to have God as its specified object, as the Psalmists of the Old Testament plainly attest. The Psalms contain multiple instances of praise and thanksgiving. True worship points away from the worshiper and toward the Creator.
          -The New Testament narrows in on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).
  • The Results Of Authentic Worship:
          -God is glorified, and dwells in the midst of those who sing praises to Him. In true worship, He is given priority above everything else.
          -The love of Christ and unity among brethren remains strong through partaking in communion. Moreover, it is from that ritual we learn the most regarding concepts of biblical and theological value.
  • Degrees Of Symbolism Employed In The Lord's Supper To Highlight The Significance Of Jesus Christ's Atonement Sacrifice:
          -The wine is representative of the brutal nature of His execution for our sins. The bread is representative of His body hanging on the cross.
          -1 Corinthians 10:16-17 conveys the idea of Christians partaking of bread and wine as a means of fellowship amongst each other.
          -John 6 mirrors the language employed during the Lord's Supper for the purpose of communicating salvific truths.
          -The repetition of the communion meal signifies us drawing our strength from Christ.
          -The New Covenant points to the greatest worship being offered up by us as a royal priesthood under the Eternal Kingship of Jesus Christ.
  • On The Greek Term Koinonia:
          -This word literally means fellowship. In various contexts, the word denotes active and friendly association amongst members of a group. Thus, Christians are to steadfastly devote themselves to prayer and breaking of bread. That is what a biblically vibrant and faithful church does by its very nature. Believers also experience koinonia with the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Beware the ‘Bright Ones’: Bethel Church’s Big-Screen Debut

"The Bright Ones, a full-length feature film being marketed to families, youth and churches [debuted] in more than 700 select theaters across the United States on April 22. Billed as an “inspirational” film, Bright Ones tells a story of a group of talented, teenage kids from a performing arts school who face an impossible challenge. But behind the seemingly innocuous story lies the dangerous theology of one of the nation’s most controversial churches – Bethel Church in Redding, California. Led by the “apostle” Bill Johnson and the “prophet” Kris Vallotton, Bethel Church is the spearhead of a fast-growing, theologically aberrant movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation.

In a statement, Bethel Music CEO Joel Taylor said, “We truly feel like this film is the fruit of our community’s culture – to see the next generation rising up and leading while being confident in their gifts and identities in Christ is a powerful thing. As with all things we do, we pray that Bright Ones would not only be a reminder of truth, but also be a resource for other churches to foster their own community of ‘bright ones.'”

On the surface, Taylor’s statement sounds very good. After all, what Christian parents wouldn’t want their children to be confident in their gifts and identities in Christ? Yet, the problem is with what Taylor didn’t say. Lurking behind Bethel’s use of the words “gifts” and “identities” is a set of unbiblical teachings that are peculiar to the New Apostolic Reformation.

For example, when most Christians hear the word “gifts,” they may think of any special talent that God gives to an individual. They may also think of a full range of spiritual gifts that are referred to in Scripture, including gifts of serving, teaching, and acting mercifully (Romans 12:6-8). But when Bethel Church refers to “gifts,” typically they’re referring to miraculous gifts, such as prophesying and healing people of sickness and other physical conditions. What’s more, Bethel Church not only teaches that some people today have those miraculous gifts — a teaching held in common with Pentecostal and charismatic churches. Bethel Church teaching goes way beyond historic Pentecostal and charismatic teaching by claiming that the key to acquiring those gifts is through receiving new, authoritative revelation given by modern-day, governing apostles and prophets, like Bethel’s Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton. These extreme and distinctive teachings represent neither historic Christianity nor historic Pentecostal and charismatic belief.

And, shockingly, Bethel Church teaches that Christians must learn to work greater miracles than Jesus did – as in more spectacular and more awe-inspiring miracles…. According to Bethel leaders, when Christians learn to perform more spectacular miracles there will be a worldwide revival in which a billion people will convert to belief in Christ. In short, this miracle-working army will usher in God’s kingdom. Thus, Christians who do not seek to develop such miraculous gifts and exhibit them in their everyday lives are settling for a “powerless” Christianity. God’s freedom to establish his kingdom on earth has been limited by their unbelief, according to the church’s leaders….In contrast, the Bible teaches that God gives spiritual gifts, including miraculous gifts, to individuals as he alone decides (1 Cor. 12:11). Furthermore, it makes it very clear that not all can have each of these gifts (1 Corinthians 12:29-30).

Yet Bethel Church teaches that miraculous gifts can be “activated” in any person who desires them. In line with this teaching, countless books, curriculums, and workshops – taught by Bethel leaders – offer training to activate the miraculous gifts. In fact, Bethel runs an entire school to train college-age people to work miracles: Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, which has an enrollment of more than 2,500 students from 64 countries. Children are also “activated” into the miraculous gifts at Bethel. In their Sunday School classes, they talk with angels and practice raising the “dead” by wrapping themselves in toilet paper, like mummies. These radical teachings and practices are not what most Christians will have in mind when they take their children to the theater to see Bright Ones."

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Origin Of The Soul

In my judgment, the rejection of substantial dichotomy rests upon a fundamental error of understanding, a fatal false assumption. Harris and others attack substantial dichotomy because they hear in it a recapitulation of Greek dualism. The Greeks viewed man as a creature locked in a conflict between two opposing and irreconcilable substances, the body and the soul. To the Greek the soul is eternal and good, the body is temporal and intrinsically imperfect. For Plato the nonmaterial ideal realm is the realm of the good. The physical is at best an imperfect receptacle or copy of the ideal. Hence the view emerged in Greek philosophy that the body is the prison house of the soul. Redemption means the release of the soul from the body.

Pythagoras was the source of Plato’s theory of the transmigration of the soul, an early version of reincarnation. The soul is eternal but may become entrapped in a series of incarnations during its eternal migration. Redemption occurs when the chain or series of incarnations end and the soul is free to live a bodiless existence.

Herein is the dualism so repugnant to Christian thought. But the problem with the Greek view is not that it has two distinct substances, body and soul, but that it views them as in total conflict with each other, because the physical is inherently evil (at least in the metaphysical sense of evil).

Jewish-Christian thought, however, sees man as made up of two distinct substances that are not in conflict. Nor does the Bible view matter as being inherently evil. For the Christian, redemption is of the body, not from the body. The Christian doctrine of substantial dichotomy is not dualistic. Man is not a dualism but a duality. That is, we have a real body (material substance) and a real soul (immaterial substance). There is an analogy with the person of Christ in that He has two natures or substances, divine and human, united in one person. That He has two substances does not necessitate a dualism in His person. (Of course the human nature of Christ also includes a human body and a human soul.)

That we are made up of body and soul is indicated in the creation account:

“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

In the creation imagery man’s body is formed first. But the body without the soul remains lifeless. When God breathes the breath of life into the body, then man becomes a living soul. In this account there is no hint of an eternal or preexistent human soul. The soul is as much a creation as is the body. That the soul survives the grave is not a testimony to its indestructibility or of its intrinsic immortality. The soul as a created entity is mortal. It survives the grave only because it is sustained and preserved by the power of God. It is preserved for eternal felicity for the redeemed; it is preserved for eternal punishment for the damned.

The soul of man can live without the body; the body cannot live without the soul. Jesus exhorted His hearers: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both the soul and the body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Is Penal Substitutionary Atonement Cosmic Child Abuse?

        Liberal theologians object to penal substitution on the grounds that no just legal system would ever try an innocent victim in the place of wrenched criminals. It is claimed that the doctrine portrays God as some vengeful and bloodthirsty tyrant who wants to punish His Son for crimes that He never even committed. In other words, a philosophical objection to penal substitution is that this theory of atonement undermines God's love and righteousness.

        First and foremost, it needs to be understood that Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh, took the punishment of sin upon Himself. The Godhead paid off our infinite debt of sin so that we did not have to suffer eternal condemnation. Our problem is that we have sinned against God, who is holy. So He as a result of His love enabled a means of redemption through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

         Jesus, knowingly and willingly, took on human flesh to make atonement for our sins (John 10:17-18). He died to make reparation for our sins and to bring glory to the Triune God. The members of the Trinity worked together as one to bring about our redemption. So, the claim that penal substitution is cosmic child abuse is a false analogy by its very nature. Our forgiveness came at a great expense: the death of Christ in human flesh. He was raised bodily from the grave to bring about our justification (Romans 5:18-19).

         If God does not punish the ungodly, then He cannot simply be regarded as morally right and fair. He would be compromising His holiness if He left evil to its own device. Sin results in judgement, and there is no reason for God not to do so (Ezekiel 18). If God has love for the ungodly, then it follows that there must also be a way for Him to satisfy His justice. There has to be legitimate grounds on which God can forgive us. Love is not a weakness in God's character. Neither is mercy incompatible with vengeance and judgement. Jesus Christ, being without sin, was qualified in every way to bear the punishment and guilt of sin on our behalf.

Friday, August 16, 2019

An Answer For Catholic Answers On Sola Scriptura And 1 Corinthians 4:6

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid once wrote an article for Catholic Answers titled Going Beyond in response to a Protestant minister, who apparently claimed in a letter that the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 "fits the bill" to save the doctrine of Sola Scriptura from "the realm of myth." Mr. Madrid has proposed a number of objections against the citation of 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being an argument in defense of Sola Scriptura, all of which will be addressed in this article. If the entailments of Sola Scriptura (perspicuity, formal sufficiency, and ultimate authority of Scripture) can be demonstrated from Scripture, then Patrick Madrid's position on the placement of biblical authority in the Christian church ("three-legged stool," meaning Scripture has equal authority with Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium) is in utter jeopardy. Without a doubt, 1 Corinthians 4:6 does "fit the bill" for the validation of Sola Scriptura. That passage most certainly weakens the Roman Catholic concept of "Sacred Tradition."
  • Presenting The Case For Sola Scriptura From 1 Corinthians 4:6:
          -In the previous context of this epistle, the Apostle Paul figuratively spoke of the apostles as being fellow custodians of the gospel. He did so with the intention of explaining to the Corinthian Christians their designated purpose, preaching the gospel. The people of the first century who advanced the Cause of Christ were instruments used to accomplish God's will. While Paul had described himself and his fellow Christian laborers as planting the seeds of spiritual conversion in the minds of the unbelieving, he gave all the credit and glory to God for success in ministry (1 Corinthians 3:5-15). While the apostles planted, God caused the growth. It is only by His power that the apostles were able to carry out their mission in the efficacious manner as they did. So let us not become puffed-up in our minds (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Dependency on God leads to true humility, as well as repentance from sin.
          -The Corinthian Christians needed to depend on the wisdom of God, not man. In other words, they needed to learn how to keep their thinking in alignment with God's will. The church as a whole needs to only use the written Word of God as the standard of judging leaders in the church. Many professing Christians evaluate the quality of authoritative figures in the church by using factors such as humor, how they persuade, how they entertain, how they look, and by their intelligence. These points of consideration, however, are completely unbiblical standards by which we judge the validity of ministry and thus violate the principle set forth by the Apostle Paul in this text. We should not elevate ministers to a status that is not scripturally warranted. That is precisely the rationale of Paul's phrase: "not to think beyond what is written."
          -Scripture is not the only source of authority, but is the ultimate standard of authority by which all things are tested. The Apostle Paul was using Scripture as the means of addressing issues such as pride, selfishness, and worldly wisdom. In other words, 1 Corinthians 4:6 prescriptively assumes the principle of Sola Scriptura as being necessary for the establishment of sound doctrine. It contains a general principle by which we are to observe. Any development that is not contained in Scripture did not originate from the Spirit of God.
  • Is The Phrase "What Is Written" Mentioned In 1 Corinthians 4:6 An Allusion To The Book Of Life?:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid mentions the fact that some biblical commentators have interpreted the phrase "what is written" as being a reference to the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). This interpretation is rooted in the point that the four previous verses of the context superficially mention the concept of divine judgment. But connecting the phrase "what is written" with the "Book of Life" is highly problematical, since it would involve the Apostle Paul instructing the Corinthian Christians to not go beyond a book that they never even had access to in the first place. The Book of Life is located by God's throne in His heavenly kingdom. What is even more, is that the only place in Scripture where Paul had ever mentioned the Book of Life was very briefly in Philippians 4:3. In light of all this, it would be most reasonable to identify "what is written" as being a reference to Scripture . Other Bible versions render the phrase in 1 Corinthians 4:6 differently. The King James Version translates it to be, "not to think of men above that which is written." The New American Bible translates the phrase in question to be, "not to go beyond what is written." The New International Version translates it as, "Do not go beyond what is written." The Everyday Bible translates it as, "Follow only what is written in the Scriptures." The New Jerusalem Bible translates it to be, "Nothing beyond what is written." The text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 is quite straightforward in that it is referring to Scripture. It is abundantly clear that the inspired author of the epistle was assuming the principle of Sola Scriptura. On the contrary, the Church of Rome flatly contradicts the scriptural pattern set forth by the apostle in this verse because it elevates the authority of men to unbiblical levels and has throughout history defined the meaning of several dogmas that far transcend the boundaries of written revelation.
  • The Footnotes Of The Roman Catholic New American Bible Identify The Phrase "What Is Written" In 1 Corinthians 4:6 To Be Scripture. So Catholics Cannot Simply Claim That The Text Being Discussed At Hand Is Speaking Of The Book Of Life:
          -"That you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written...It probably means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contending themselves with Paul's proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God's promises in the Old Testament (what is written). Inflated with pride: literally, 'puffed-up,' i.e., arrogant, filled with a sense of self-importance. The term is particularly Pauline, found in the New Testament only in 1 Cor 4, 6. 18-19; 5, 2; 8, 1; 13, 4; Col 2, 18 (ch the related noun at 2 Cor 12, 20). It sometimes occurs in conjunction with the theme of 'boasting,' as in vv 6-7 here."
  • The Author Of The Article At Catholic Answers Claims That Citing 1 Corinthians 4:6 As Biblical Support For Sola Scriptura Would Also Require (Logically Speaking) Rejecting The Inspiration Of Subsequent Canonical Writings Which Comprise The New Testament:
          -It needs to be understood that the Old Testament was sufficient in making known the purposes of God in His own timing and wisdom, but not the exhaustive content of divine revelation. Jesus Christ Himself always appealed to the Scriptures as the final court of authority in spiritual matters. That is in fact the constant pattern recorded in Scripture. In truth, a logical parallel can be formulated to demonstrate the logically absurd nature of this objection to the citation 1 Corinthians 4:6 in favor of Sola Scriptura: "the present pope does not have the authority to infallibly define dogma because there are future successors yet to be elected." The point is that the effectiveness of authority is not determined by its extent. Scripture has always been a sufficient rule of faith. The phrase "what is written" cannot simply be limited to the Old Testament writings, but Scripture in general. If the canon of Scripture is still open, then it follows that more divine revelation will be communicated in writing. It is not as though the apostles did not believe their writings to be divinely authoritative. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Moreover, Jesus Christ rebuked the so-called "Jewish Magisterium" of His day for its failure to understand the biblical doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:32). Indeed, the Roman Catholic view of authority is identical to that of the Scribes and Pharisees whom Christ had rebuked (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). Contrary to the bold proclamations of Roman Catholic apologists on the issue of Sola Scriptura, the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 affirms in a straightforward manner the ultimate authority of Scripture: "do not to exceed what is written."
  • Evaluating The Roman Catholic Case For Sacred Tradition:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid objected to 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being supportive of Sola Scriptura on the grounds that the Apostle Paul taught orally to first century Christian churches (1 Corinthians 11:2). However, the underlying problem with this objection is that Sola Scriptura is not a denial of authoritative oral traditions. It is not a denial that the Word of God was once communicated orally. Furthermore, we cannot know which traditions are inspired apart from Scripture. Neither can it be proven that the references to traditions by the apostles were different in substance from what is taught in written revelation. The Bible is sufficient to reveal all the things that we need to know concerning salvation and godliness. Quite frankly, there is no reason for Roman Catholics to conclude the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 to be obscure when the Apostle Paul mentions tradition. That is simply a false dilemma. All these passages are crystal clear. Interpreting them in a literal sense does not result in a contradiction. These "traditions" are not mysterious or extra-biblical. We know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the phrase "what is written" is a reference to Scripture. The point of the apostles mentioning tradition was not to substantiate any notion of a twofold partim source of divine revelation, but to distinguish their doctrines from the teachings of apostates who claimed to accurately represent the gospel. We know that the apostles received divine teachings from God, whereas traditions upheld by Roman Catholicism such as the Immaculate Conception (1854 A.D.) and Assumption of Mary (1950 A.D.) are of spurious origin.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Simple Rejoinder To The Roman Catholic Marian Interpretation Of Luke 1:28

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholics commonly appeal to the text of Luke 1:28 as biblical evidence for their Mariology, which is presented as follows:

          "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."

          In response, it should be pointed out that women in the Old Testament Book of Judges are also referred to as "most blessed:"

          "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent." (Judges 5:24)

          Surely, Roman Catholics would not argue that these women were immaculately conceived and assumed bodily into heaven.

          Obviously, the mere fact that Mary was called "blessed" by the Angel Gabriel is not an acceptable justification for the Roman Catholic Church's teachings concerning her.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Archaeological Discovery Helps Prove Babylonian Conquest Of Israel

The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence pointing to the validity of the Babylonian Conquest of the Holy City of Jerusalem in 587/586 BCE, as described by the Bible, according to a release published earlier this week.

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who have been excavating the hill known as Mount Zion in Jerusalem, say they have discovered arrowheads dating from the period, layers of ash, Iron Age potsherds, as well as a "significant" piece of jewelry - a gold silver tassel or earring - archetypal of the period in question.

"The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found -- pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period," the UNC archaeological team wrote in a statement.

The Mount Zion Archaeological Project is co-directed by UNC Charlotte professor of history Shimon Gibson, Rafi Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow of Haifa University, and James Tabor, UNC Charlotte professor of religious studies. The group has been working in the area for more than a decade and has made numerous significant finds relating to the ancient city's many historical periods.

In July 2019, the archaeologists found evidence concerning the sack of the city during the First Crusade.

The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history. The researchers say that the unique mix of artifacts and materials found, together with the way they were found - covered in layers of ash - solidify both the time period and that there was some type of destructive event that took place at that time.

"Alternative explanations for the artifacts can be eliminated," the researchers claim in their release. "Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse. Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down.

Gibson explained that the arrowheads are known as "Scythian arrowheads," and have been found at other archaeological conflict sites from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.

"They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors," he explained. "Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE."

The potsherds help date the discovery further, considering the lamp shards found are typical to the period.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Romans 10:9-10 And Public Confession

       "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

       What is the relationship between salvation and confession? The connection between believing on Jesus Christ and publicly confessing His name is that both are perfectly consistent with each other. We confess His name by faith. Confession is not a meritorious deed. Confession is not something that we attach to faith as a requirement or prerequisite for salvation. It is not something that completes salvation. Rather, confession is simply an expression of faith. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch illustrates this point quite well (Acts 8:34-39).

        Audible confession of Christ's Lordship is evidence of a changed heart, as such will certainly bring about persecution. In context, the Apostle Paul is giving particular emphasis to the simplicity of receiving the righteousness of God. The gospel message is so simple that even children can properly make sense of it. Receiving His forgiveness comes by faith, not by keeping the Law. We are saved because God is gracious. We are to place our trust in the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The object of our faith is Him. The foundation of our hope is Him. A saving faith comes through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17). Whoever has this faith will not be ashamed (Romans 10:11; quotation from Isaiah 28:16).

        Justification before God is by faith alone. It is not merited by good works. However, faith and works cannot be divorced from each other. A faith which results in justification comes "from the heart." That inward faith will manifest itself with an outward declaration of "Jesus is Lord." That is brought about through the repentance of sin. A faith that reflects trust in God cannot exist apart from repentance. Therefore, there can be no salvation without confession. It is simply an inherent characteristic of a saving faith and the fruit of a regenerate heart. These things are inextricably connected. The Apostle Paul is not hereby placing faith and confession in a sequential or chronological fashion, but resorting to parallelism. The Reformation Study Bible has this useful footnote:

        "10:9, 10 confess . . . believe . . . believes . . . confesses. In the parallelism of v. 10 Paul reverses the order of verbs in v. 9 and thereby indicates that heart-belief and mouth-confession belong together for justification (“righteousness”) and salvation."

Monday, August 12, 2019

Celibacy Advances The Priesthood's Culture Of Compromised Truths

In the 2015 movie "Spotlight," the voice of Richard Sipe (played by Richard Jenkins) says over the speaker phone, “If you really want to understand the crisis, you need to start with the celibacy requirement.” He continues, “That was my first major finding. Only 50% of the [Catholic] clergy are celibate. Now, most of them are having sex with other adults. But the fact remains that this creates a culture of secrecy that tolerates and even protects pedophiles."

Sipe, the former priest and psychologist, who died in August 2018, devoted much of his life to the psychological treatment of priests. He wrote extensively on priestly celibacy. In 1990, he published A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy. He estimated then that at any given time only 50% of priests, monks and bishops are actually celibate. This contributes to a culture of mendacity (lying).

In a 2016 letter to San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, Sipe wrote:

Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children. … When men in authority — cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors — are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active-sex life under the guise of celibacy, an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative.

In other words, priests and bishops are not going to expose others because they may be guilty themselves. The recent cases of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield of West Virginia prove this point. How could they rise so high and allegedly endure so long in their double lives? Perhaps because people who knew were also compromised by sexual activity.

In our 2016 novel Strange Gods: A Novel About Faith, Murder, Sin and Redemption, which I wrote with Msgr. Jack Myslinski, the character of Msgr. Matthew Ackerman says:

The problem is being celibate. Celibacy turns us all into liars. … The whole thing is built on mendacity. …

Celibacy leaves a wound. Some people kid themselves into thinking it doesn't, but it does. You try to compensate, but you are never really whole. Some priests drown their sorrows in alcohol or pills. A lot of them overeat and get obese. … Some guys travel all the time to escape. Others take secret lovers. Some redecorate the rectory over and over again. That's a classic clerical tradition, decorating. Just look at all the frescoes in the Vatican. It's a kind of retail therapy that has been going on for centuries.

Again, the cases of McCarrick and Bransfield illustrate this "celibacy wound" compensation. Both men decorated lavishly and traveled luxuriously. Both allegedly carried on secret sexual liaisons, evidently trying to heal their "celibacy" wound.

In 1994, I wrote an article about celibacy for The Washington Post following several priest sexual scandals in Washington. I said then:

In light of recent sexual scandals involving priests, I find some skepticism about priestly celibacy. Among skeptics, I get one of two reactions. Some people think priest are liars. Others think we are fools. Some of the time, of course, they are right.

Don't think that this is just an American problem. It is a universal problem as scandals in Poland, Ireland, France, India, Philippines, Kenya, Congo, and Costa Rica, etc. have shown. In Africa, where some of the fiercest defenders of celibacy are to be found, it is widely reported that priests routinely live double lives, keeping "secret" families in homes far from their parishes.

On June 1, The Washington Post reported that Fr. Peter Njogu is publicly leading a breakaway Renewed Universal Catholic Church in Kenya over the issue of celibacy. He is married and has established himself as a bishop of a schismatic church. Twenty priests have followed him along with more than 2,000 Catholics in several congregations. He said in The Post, "They (his followers) are tired of the hypocrisy. Some of our people call us the 'Church of the Future.' " Njogu says that other priests tell him, "The problem with you is that you went public. And I say, 'I am not the problem: I am the solution. Join me.' "

In Latin America I have encountered the same phenomenon. People openly express skepticism about celibacy because they know or suspect that Padre has a secret family. Look at Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel Degollado, who had not one but two secret families in Mexico.

Celibacy is not essential to holiness. Many saints were married and had children. The Second Vatican Council said there is a universal call to holiness. If celibacy were essential to holiness, then most of the church could not be holy. Sex is an essential part of holiness in the sacrament of matrimony. We say that marriages are "consummated" by a sexual relationship.

Celibacy is not essential to Catholic priesthood. It is only mandated in two of the 24 "autonomous churches" in communion with Rome; the Latin Rite and the Ethiopian Rite. All of the others — the Ukrainian Rite, Syrian Rite, Maronite Rite, Coptic Rite, etc. — allow their priests to marry prior to ordination. Are 22 churches of the East not also holy?

St. Peter was not celibate. Much of the clergy for the first 1,000 years of Christianity were not celibate.

Celibacy was not mandated for diocesan clergy until the first Lateran Council (1123) and reaffirmed by the second Lateran Council (1139). Both of those decrees were brought on by the fact that many clergy, especially in rural areas, had wives or concubines. Often they gave church property to their families. Celibacy then was honored more in the breach than the observance.

At least seven popes were married. Several others had children either before or during their papacies. Pope Julius II, the pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, fathered three daughters. There was even a father and son pope combination, Pope Hormisdas (514-523) who was father to Pope Silverius, (536-537) who himself fathered an illegitimate daughter.

Paul presumed that bishops would be married, but he said they should be self-controlled (Titus 1:8). Still good advice. Paul himself favored celibacy for practical reasons because it allowed the unmarried man to be single minded in his work for the church (1 Corinthians 7:32-33).

Today we have many married priests in the Roman Rite who have come to us from the Anglican or Lutheran traditions. The Washington Archdiocese, like many American dioceses, has several married priests who were first ordained in the Episcopal church and then received into the Roman church. If they can be married, why not others?

Luke 17:7-10 And Justification By Faith Alone

           “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10)

          The Lord Jesus Christ is in this passage speaking in regard to our faith. Christians in fulfilling the process of disciplining do not claim for themselves God's kindness and favor. Believers are simply doing as He had commanded them, independently of whether the quality of their work is that of perfection. It is not by good works that we earn the right to approach God. Rather, such is granted to us through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

          We are mere servants of God, who will reward us for our holy conduct in this life. All growth that we experience in sanctification is a result of His divine grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Any and all blessings that we receive are from Him. Our good works have no value in of themselves. Self-righteous or vainglorious thoughts should be absent from our minds in serving our Master. Our good works cannot contribute to our justification, nor should they be done just to satisfy inner longings for admiration and approval.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

One Of The Greatest Questions Ever Asked

        "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)

        We live in a culture that is obsessed with material gain. Many people waste hordes of time daily on keeping up with the latest fashion trends or vehicle models. Commercials that we hear on the radio and on television oftentimes announce various ways to improve the quality of virtually every facet of our lives. Businesses concentrate on accumulating large masses of wealth. Gullible customers concentrate on getting the best material items possible. This all points to the fact that an inherent part of human nature is a desire to find a source of ultimate fulfillment.

        There is, however, one thing of utmost importance that society has totally. That is the Person of Jesus Christ as proclaimed through the gospel. The vast majority of people in society seem to be utterly oblivious to or unconcerned regarding their sinful condition and need of a Redeemer. This is the underlying reason that should motivate us to preach the gospel to the world. Moreover, Jesus Christ eloquently and with great simplicity made known the futility of striving to reach top dog status according to worldly standards.

        Even if a person became so popular that he or she could instantaneously claim possession of this world, that position of earthly supremacy would be worthless in the sight of God. Nothing is more precious than the human soul. Nothing in this life should be considered more important than our eternal destiny, for the things of this world are passing away before our very eyes. If people do not repent at the preaching of the gospel, then they will perish for all eternity. Material possessions can always be stolen or destroyed. We cannot take them with us into the supernatural realm. All things created by man rightfully belong to God alone, since He at the beginning of time formed all the particulates which constitute the composition of everything that we can observe. He gave us the ability to grow in intellect.

        If a person gathers from all this that we cannot find enjoyment in the things we do have, then he or she has missed the heart of this message. The idea being stressed here is that we are not to allow our material possessions to rule over us. We are not to allow ourselves to become preoccupied with them to the point where they take control our lives. In that case, possessions become idols and demons. Our chief focus should be on God who is above. We should thank Him continually for the things that we do have, as He has the power to take everything away just as quickly as He imparted those same gifts to us. We should be rejoicing in Him continually. The material achievements of man are as a small island in comparison to the oceans of eternity. Our hope should rest on the solid foundation of the eternal promises set forth by Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 9, 2019

A Topical Scripture Cross Reference Study On Integrity And Ethics

  • The Mosaic Law System Operated On Principles Of Fairness And Truthfulness:
          -"One witness alone shall not stand against someone in regard to any crime or any offense that may have been committed; a charge shall stand only on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If a hostile witness rises against someone to accuse that person of wrongdoing, the two parties in the dispute shall appear in the presence of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and judges in office at that time, and the judges must investigate it thoroughly. If the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other, you shall do to the false witness just as that false witness planned to do to the other. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. The rest shall hear and be afraid, and never again do such an evil thing as this in your midst. Do not show pity. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!" (Deuteronomy 19:16-20)
  • Scripture Is Replete With Warnings Against Spewing Off Falsehood:
          -"The false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever utters lies will not escape." (Proverbs 19:5)
          -"A club, sword, or sharp arrow— the one who bears false witness against a neighbor. A bad tooth or an unsteady foot—a trust betrayed in time of trouble. Like the removal of clothes on a cold day, or vinegar on soda, is the one who sings to a troubled heart. If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat, if thirsty, give something to drink." (Proverbs 25:18-21)
          -"Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, For would you deceive with your lips? Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." (Proverbs 24:28-29)
  • Scripture Condemns Rejoicing Over Times When Potential Enemies Experience Hardship Or Failure:
          -"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him." (Proverbs 24:17-18)
          -"Whoever mocks the poor reviles their Maker; whoever rejoices in their misfortune will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 17:5)
  • Scripture Contains Exhortations For Us To Love Our Enemies:
          -"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
          -"Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” (Romans 12:20)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Aquinas: There Is No Hope Of Justification, But Only By Faith...We Conclude That A Man Is Justified By Faith Without The Works Of The Law

Here's an interesting Aquinas tidbit from an old discussion list:

Et sie exponit Glossa. Sed Apostolus videtur loqui de moralibus, quia subdit quod lex posita est propter peccata, et haec sunt praecepta moralia. Horum legitimus usus est ut homo non attribuat eis plus quam quod in eis continetur. Data est lex ut cognoscatur peccatum. Roman., vii, 7: Quia nisi lex diceret,non concupisces (quod dicitur in Decalogo) concupiscentiam nesciebam. Non est ergo in eis spec justificationis, sed insola fide. Roman., iii, 28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus legis.

"But the Apostle seems to be speaking about morals, because he adds that the law was set forth because of sin, and the law consists of moral precepts. The proper use of these precepts is that man not attribute to them more than what is contained in them. The law was given so that sin might be recognized. As Romans 7:7 says, "Unless the law were saying, 'Do not covet,' (which the Decalogue says), I would not have known about covetousness. In the precepts, therefore, there is no hope (spec=spes?) of justification, but only by faith. As Romans 3:28 says, "We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law."

Thomas Aquinas, "Epistola I Ad Timotheum", "Lectio III" in *Opera Omnia*, Volume 21: *Commentarii in Epistolam Ad Corinthios 1 In Caeteras Omnes Epistolas S. Pauli.* Paris: Apud Ludovicum Vives, Bibliopolam Editorem, 1876, page 456.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Double-Standard Raised In Arguing That Morals Are A Product Of Evolution

"In a promotional piece for his book, Wright says, "My hope is that people will use the knowledge [in this book] not only to improve their lives-as a source of 'self-help'-but as cause to treat other people more decently" (emphasis ours).

This statement captures a major flaw in Wright's analysis. His entire thesis is that chance evolution explains morality, that the environment selects those whose morals are beneficial or survival. Morality is a product of nature.

Yet Wright frequently lapses, unconsciously making reference to a morality that seems to transcend nature. Take this comment: "Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse" (emphasis ours).6 Write reflects on the moral equipment randomly given to us by nature and then bemoans our immoral use of it with such words as tragic, pathetic, and misuse.

He writes, "Go above and beyond the call of a smoothly functioning conscience; help those who aren't likely to help you in return, and do so when nobody's watching. This is one way to be a truly moral animal."7

It's almost as if he has two categories of morality-nature's morality and a transcendent standard used to judge nature's morality. But where did this transcendent standard come from? If transcendent morality judges the "morality" that evolution is responsible for, the it can't itself be accounted for by evolution."

Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, p. 159

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Notes On The Development Of The Catholic Priesthood

  • This Excerpt From Christian Apologist William Webster Gives Us Insight Into The Historical Development Of The Roman Catholic Priesthood:
           -" the early writings of the Church no mention is made of priests in Christian ministry. There is a parallel sometimes drawn between the offices of the New Testament and the ministerial functions of the priesthood in the old dispensation — as found in the writings of Clement and Ignatius, for example — but they do not teach that New Testament ministry and ministers are the same as in the Old Testament. Clement in 1 Clement 40-41 uses the Old Testament priesthood as an illustration of a principle of divine calling and orderliness. At that time, God specifically called and appointed certain men to perform a specified ministry which was to be done in a particular way. He then applies that principle to his readers under the New Testament dispensation, to warn them that God still calls and appoints men to fulfill the role of pastor, elder and deacon, and that believers must be careful to submit to the authorities that God has established in the Church.

           Clement never uses the term ‘priest’ to describe a Christian minister. This is true of all the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Polycarp, Ignatius, Clement and The Didache all use the terms ‘bishop’ or ‘presbyter’ and ‘deacon’ when referring to those responsible for Christian ministry. These are the terms employed by the New Testament itself. When these and other writers do use the Greek term for ‘priest’ (hiereus), it is always in reference to the Old Testament or to the person of Christ. The first use of the word to refer to Christian ministers is from the writings of Origen the third century Greek Father. Clement of Alexandria, writing in the latter part of the second century, uses the word to describe all Christians in general.

           It is with the fourth century Greek Fathers that we find the word hiereus universally applied to describe a Christian minister.4 And it is with Tertullian in the West that the beginnings of a sacerdotal function in the Christian ministry began to become evident, for he uses the Latin term sacerdotium (priesthood) to describe a Christian minister. It is clear that by the beginning of the third century Christian ministers were beginning to be viewed as priests similar to those of the Old Testament."

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Type Of People Consistent Moral Relativism Produces

"In our society, we have a name for these people; they are a homicide detective's worst nightmare. The quintessential relativist is a sociopath, one who has no conscience. This is what relativism produces.

Something is terribly wrong with an alleged moral point of view that produces a psychopath as its brightest star. This is another reason relativism does not qualify as an ethical viewpoint.

Relativism does not stand in any great moral tradition. Rather, it has been universally rejected by all. The supreme moral teachers of all time-Moses, Jesus, the apostle Paul, Buddha, Aristotle, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.-have all condemned this view.

Relativism simply is not a moral point of view. Its "morality" is no different than having no morality at all, its moral hero is a sociopath, and has been opposed by every moral tradition. Those who are relativists have no morality."

Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, p. 31

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Golden Rule Is Found In All Ancient Religions

        "...If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Greeks, and Romans, what will really him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 6)

       "...Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own family, or your fellow country men, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they always have agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked." (p. 6)

        "...surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did-if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather-surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did? There is a difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about a matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house" (p. 14-15)

        This factor certainly is a powerful support of the moral argument for the existence of God, as it shows us that He has inscribed His moral laws into the hearts of us all.

        If, however, moral relativism is true, then it would be difficult to imagine how the golden rule (love your neighbor as yourself) can be found in ancient human civilizations outside the Judeo-Christian framework. This all seems to point to a moral law giver, with the problem being our sin nature that we inherited due to the fall of Adam and Eve.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Error Of Sacrificing Principle For Physical Comfort And Convenience

There are two ways to understand the meaning of the word equality. Our Founding Fathers understood it to mean that all were equal under the law; all should be equal and free in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Today, the word has come to mean economic equality; this means that money must be taken from the rich and given to the poor so that everyone is equal in wealth (or lack of it). This is attractive to many people, but we as a nation must again read these perceptive words by Abraham Lincoln:

We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name-liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties called by two different and incompatible names-liberty and tyranny (italics added).5

Unfortunately, given a choice, many people would prefer economic equality along with tyranny rather than economic opportunity with freedom. In free societies, all will not be economically equal. Those who live in a socialistic state become slaves of government regulations and government laws: citizens become compliant, they accept work quotas and state controlled prices, and because the government seeks to be "fair," the rich are inordinately taxed in order to give benefits to the poor. You obey the master out of whose hand you eat. And, as someone has said, we all desire a life of ease with a high reward. Here is how historian David A. Rausch describes the Hitler era:

Hitler had lowered wages; state governments and economies were consolidated under the totalitarian regime; and Germany began to rearm. The economy began to recover and the men were put back to work but at the high price of personal freedom. Virtually every area of German life was under the control of the Nazi regime, yet most citizens did not seem to care. Fed a steady dosage of propaganda by the press and entertained with massive rallies, parades, and "gifts" from "The Fuhrer," the German people swelled with pride at their nation's apparent comeback.6

And so, we, like the German people, are prone to believe the extravagant promises of our politicians because it makes us feel good. Of course, regardless of what we think of Social Security and Medicare, such programs have been of great benefit to many. The challenge is to think clearly about the controversial topic of what government can do and what it should do. As far as I know, no government in history has had a great record in providing expanded benefits without eventually expecting more control of its citizens.

Erwin W. Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, p. 51-53

Does 1 Corinthians 13:2 Refute Justification By Faith Alone?

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a post written by Roman Catholic apologist Joe Heschmeyer titled Salvation by Faith Working in Love. We begin this critique with an excerpt from the author:

          "Now, the first two, even by themselves are meritorious. Romans 4:3 reminds us that by Genesis 15:6, Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” But from this must come the third part of faith — the obedience of faith. After all, James 2:19 notes that even the demons have these first two forms of faith."

          A faith that motivates a person to do the things of God, by definition, involves trust. Demons believe that God exists, but refuse to place their trust in Him. 

          "So Abraham is faithful not because he has just the first two forms of faith, but because he has all three. Protestants often claim that you can’t have the first two forms of faith without the third, but this is wrong — as noted, the demons do."

           Obedience done in faith does not constitute what faith is itself. Such is a consequence of faith, which is the "instrument" of justification. Faith is not inherently meritorious. It bestows no benefits to a man, if left by itself. Faith conveys the presence of merit because of what it rests on: the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He Himself has standing before God.

          "First, Paul says that faith without love is nothing. And second, Paul speaks of the various spiritual gifts a bit later in the chapter, and says that love is greater than faith. Now, from Luther’s perspective, if you truly believed Jesus was Lord, that faith would necessarily result in love and good works. But here, Paul’s talking about people for who that just isn’t so. They believe that Jesus is Lord, they perhaps even believe He’s calling them to love, but they just don’t."

          The Apostle Paul does not set forth moral commandments without grounding them in our identity with Jesus Christ. Calls for believers to love each other are based on being united in the family of God. We receive a new identity in Christ prior to becoming one of His followers. Love is the greatest of all spiritual gifts because it endures forever. We long to encounter God in eternity. Our faith and hope will reach their designated goal as we enjoy fellowship with God.

          "In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is explaining why out of faith, hope and love, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). He’s comparing real faith with real hope and real love, and saying that love still greater, because real faith, by itself, isn’t enough.

           The Apostle Paul says that the Christians at Corinth have been washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Corinthians 6:11). This description has been given in the past tense. Paul's exhortations flow from this statement. The context of this passage is not about us meriting our salvation before God.

          "The KJV version of Galatians 5:6 nails it: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Paul’s phrase, also translated “faith working through love” sums everything I’ve said up succinctly: for faith to be worth anything, it must not be mere belief, or even belief combined with trust, but belief, trust and loving obedience.

          Interestingly enough, the Roman Catholic New American Bible has this footnote on this passage from Galatians 5:

          "The Greek for faith working through love or “faith expressing itself through love” can also be rendered as “faith energized by (God’s) love.”

          Faith is the root. Love is the product of that faith. It is evidenced or made manifest by our love. Galatians 5:6 is not inconsistent with the doctrine of Sola Fide because it affirms that the performance of good works follows a change in heart.

          "So where Luther was wrong was that he believed that all true seeds of faith eventually bore the fruit of good works, so that as long as you had a seed, you knew you’d eventually have fruit. That’s not true. The parable of the sower appears in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8 — in all three versions, the exact same seed is thrown, and yet depending of the soil (the disposition of the hearer of the word of God), it either dies out at once, grows and then dies out, or grows and bears fruit.

          The Parable of the Sower relates to the preaching of the gospel and what people do with that message. The seed is to be identified as the gospel. Good works will always spring forth from genuine faith because it is God who works in us to accomplish His will.

           Sola Fide does not stand in opposition to human emotions or displaying fruit of the Spirit. So, this argument does not hold water. The idea of a saving faith existing apart from love for God is totally foreign to Scripture.