Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Note On Seemingly Cruel Words Found In The Book Of Psalms

"...some prayers and divine commands express but the purpose of a sovereign God Who frequently uses men to carry out His designs (Ps. 35, 69, 109, 137; Deut. 7:1-5, 16; 20:16-18). Strong says, the imprecatory Psalms are "not the ebullition of personal anger, but the expression of judicial indignation against the enemies of God," and, "an exterminating war was only the benevolent surgery that amputated the putrid limb, and so saved the religious life of the Hebrew nation of the after world."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 96

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

John 1:4 And The Deity Of Jesus Christ

"Take, for instance, the statement in the 4th verse, "In him was life." In the original Greek, this verse actually declares Jesus Christ to be not only the possessor of life, like you and me, but the originator and disposer of life. In John 10:18, Jesus said of His own physical life, "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." No human being in his right mind would dare to make such claims. Either Jesus Christ was God or he was insane. He could not have been a mere human being, as the whole Gospel of John illustrates. But what He said in John 10:18 was declared succinctly in John 1:4."

Spiros Zodhiates, Was Christ God?, p. 1

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Debunking Roman Catholic Apologist Tim Staples On Romans 5:1 And Sola Fide

  • Discussion:
          -Tim Staples of Catholic Answers wrote an article on how Roman Catholics should respond when objectors cite Romans 5:1 as proof for justification by faith alone. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

          "First, as baptized Catholics, we can agree that we have been justified and we have been saved. Thus, in one sense, our justification and salvation is in the past as a completed action. The initial grace of justification and salvation we receive in baptism is a done deal. And Catholics do not believe we were partially justified or partially saved at baptism."

          In attempting to deal with the text of Romans 5:1, the author approaches matters as if they are simpler than what they really are. The Catholic plan of salvation is indeed complicated with the numerous laws and ordinances of the Roman Catholic Church. This intricate process is explained in its entirety through sources such as the Code of Canon Law. One can see the nature of the seven sacraments, purgatory, indulgences, liturgical calendar, monastic vows, instances of self-flagellation, etc. What has been described is obviously a legalistic system of works righteousness. In fact, the gospel presented by the Roman Catholic Church is so complex that it would be virtually impossible to even accurately describe what it is on a witnessing tract!

          Romans 5:1 says plainly that we are justified before a holy God by faith. Romans 5:2 elaborates on that thought and states that we have been reconciled to Him. In other words, we can now approach God with confidence because of what Christ has done on our behalf at Calvary. Nowhere does Romans 5:1 speak of getting justified and saved "in a sense" at infant baptism. Such an analysis utterly misses the point of Romans 5:1 and its context. Faith is our point of access to God.

          "This text indicates that after having received the grace of justification we now have access to God’s grace by which we stand in Christ and we can then rejoice in the hope of sharing God’s glory. That word “hope” indicates that what we are hoping for we do not yet possess (see Romans 8:24)."

           The term "hope" does not denote a state of doubt or uncertainty as it indicates a confident expectation that things will be done as God wills them.

          "The major part of the puzzle here that our Protestant friends are missing is that there are many biblical texts revealing both justification and salvation to have a future and contingent sense as well as these we have mentioned that show a past sense. In other words, justification and salvation also have a sense in which they are not complete in the lives of believers. Perhaps this is most plainly seen in Galatians 5:1-5."

           Justification is the first aspect of salvation. It is fully completed at the moment of our conversion. Sanctification will be completed at the end of our redemption. The idea of justification being "in a sense" incomplete should be rejected, unless we are referring to the evidential type spoken of in texts such as James 2:14-26.

         "The Greek word used in verse 6 [actually referring to Galatians 5:5] and here translated as “righteousness” is dikaiosunes, which can be translated either as “righteouness” or as “justification.” In fact, Romans 4:3, which we quoted above, uses a verb form of this same term for justification. Now the fact that St. Paul tells us we “wait for the hope of [justification]” is very significant."

          In Romans 4:3, the term "righteousness" is not a verb but a noun.

           "The truth is: this example of justification being in the future is not an isolated case. There are numerous biblical texts that indicate both justification and salvation to be future and contingent realities, in one sense, as well as past completed realities in another sense [Matthew 10:22; Romans 2:13-16; 6:16; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 5:5]."

           In what sense is the term "justification" being used in the above texts? If it is used in the sense of proved or vindication (evidence of a changed heart), then they do fit into a forensic justification framework.

           "While the Catholic Church agrees that Abraham was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6 as St. Paul said, we also note that Abraham was justified at other times in his life as well indicating justification to have an on-going aspect to it. Again, there is a sense in which justification is a past action in the life of believers, but there is another sense in which justification is revealed to be a process."

           This is nothing but circular reasoning. Even granting that Abraham was justified multiple times throughout his life, that does not prove he was justified in the sense of having been declared righteous in the sight of God. He could have been justified in an evidential sense, which we would expect to be ongoing. 

            "For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has taken all of Sacred Scripture into the core of her theology harmonizing all of the biblical texts. Thus, we can agree with our Protestant friends and say as Christians we have been (past tense) justified and saved through our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But we also agree with our Lord that there is another sense in which we are being saved and justified by cooperation with God’s grace in our lives, and we hope to finally be saved and justified by our Lord on the last day (Matthew 12:36-37)."

            It seems that Tim Staples has only made feeble excuses to dance around Romans 5:1. Dr. Cornelis P. Venema gives this commentary regarding judgement on the last day:

            "Paul regards justification as a thoroughly eschatological blessing...The notion of a final justification on the basis of works inevitably weakens the assertion that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). A final justification on the basis of works also undermines Paul’s bold declaration that no charge can be brought, now or in the future, against those who are Christ’s (Rom. 8:33–34). Rather than treating the final judgment as another chapter in the justification of believers, we should view Paul’s emphasis upon the role of works in this judgment in terms of his understanding of all that salvation through union with Christ entails. Because believers are being renewed by Christ’s Spirit, their acquittal in the final judgment will be a public confirmation of the genuineness of their faith and not a justifying verdict on the basis of works....these good works are the fruits of faith, not the basis for a future justification. For this reason, Paul speaks of a judgment “according to,” not “on the basis of” works."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Details On The Accuracy Of The New Testament

Archaeological discoveries have done much to confirm the historical accuracy of the Scriptures. Hammurabi, Sargon II, the Hittites, and Belshazzar are no longer problems to the historian. Garstang has now established the date of the Exodus on solid ground,12 which makes it possible to work out a consistent chronology from Abraham to Solomon. The large sums of money of which we sometimes read can be partly explained as required by the recurring changes in the value of money and partly as transcriptional errors. This latter suggestion applies also to the large armies of which we sometimes read. Robt. Dick Wilson shows that forty-some kings of Scripture have been found in archaeological research.13 Geo. L. Robinson, formerly of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Chicago, says: "No explicit contradiction of Scripture of any moment whatever moment has ever been found. More and more, scholars are coming to recognize the substantial verity of the Bible. And less and less do archaeologists endorse the evolutionary hypothesis of Higher Criticism to explain the growth of Law and religion in Israel."14

Similar solutions may be adopted for the problems that are brought forward from the New Testament...The "level place" in Luke 6:17 was probably on the same mountain as is mentioned in Matt. 5:1, and so the "Sermon" in the two gospels is the same sermon. There was an old Jericho and a new Jericho, and the blind man was probably between the two Jerichos (Matt 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35).The fact that Matthew speaks of two men and Mark and Luke only of one may be explained on the ground of the particular interest of the writers. This is also true of the account of two (Matt. 8:28) or one (Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27) demon-possessed men in Decapolis. The so-called mistakes of Stephen (Acts 7) have been harmonized satisfactorily.15

Archaeological discoveries also confirm the truthfulness of the New Testament Quirinius (Luke 2:2) was apparently twice governor of Syria (B.C. 16-12 and 6-4), the latter being the time referred to by Luke. "Lysanias the tetrarch" is mentioned in an inscription on the site of Abilene at the time to which Luke refers. An inscription at Lystra, by the native Lycaonians, records the dedication of a statue to Zeus (Jupiter) and Hermes (Mercury), which shows that these gods were classed together in the local cult, as implied in Acts 14:12. Ramsay found that when Paul went from Iconium to Lystra he crossed from Phrygia into Lycaonia (Acts 14:6); but before this discovery every authoritative geographer taught that Acts was wrong.16 Luke calls the officials of Philippi "praetors," which is not technically correct, but Ramsay declares that the inscriptions indicate that the term was "frequently employed as a courtesy title for the superior magistrates of a Roman colony."17 An inscription from Paphos refers to the "proconsul Paulus," who has been identified at the Sergius Paulus of Acts 13:7.

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 92-94

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Does God Infuse Righteousness Into Our Souls Or Declare Us To Be Righteous?

  • Discussion:
           -Karlo Broussard of Catholic Answers wrote an article on how we should understand the word reckoned as translated in Romans 4:3. Are we to understand that term as a legal status that God imputes to believers or is righteousness infused into believers? The purpose of this article is to counter a few of this Roman Catholic apologist's claims on the matter:

           "First, just because the Bible uses the language of God “reckoning” a person as righteous, it doesn’t follow that there is no ontological transformation—a change in what the sinner is. There is no reason why God’s declaration of our righteousness and our transformation by grace must be mutually exclusive. The two can be harmonized."

           God declares sinners to be just and also makes them just. The legal declaration of us being righteous (justification) is to be distinguished with the gradual process by which God makes us righteous (sanctification). God both erases our record of transgressions against Him and transforms us to live in accordance with His will. There is indeed an objective moral change involved in a forensic justification framework.

           "But God’s forgiveness of David’s sins [Romans 4:8, where Paul quotes Psalm 32:2] was not merely a legal declaration without some existential effect on David. To the contrary, David describes God’s forgiveness of his sins as being made “clean” and “whiter than snow” (51:7). And herein lies the key to God no longer reckoning David’s sin: the objective guilt of those sins had been removed. God’s reckoning was an evaluation that correctly corresponded to the objective reality of that which was being reckoned."

           The forgiveness of sins and the objective removal of guilt had an effect on King David. That is what forgiveness does by its very nature whenever it is extended to and received in humility by anyone. In the case of David and everybody else who trusts in God, it amounts to having a clean conscience. Forgiveness results in peace with our Creator. Forgiveness results in the removal of our guilt. Afterwards comes a changed life and a pursuit of holiness in gratitude toward God. Contrariwise, everything that surrounds justification is not to be conflated with justification itself. Forgiveness is an aspect of justification, but it does not make up its entirety.

           "There are other passages that fit the same pattern. For example, in Romans 8:18 Paul “considers” [logizomai] that our current sufferings are not worth comparing with our glory that is to be revealed in heaven. Paul’s mental evaluation of our present sufferings compared to our glory in heaven matches the objective reality about the two. In Romans 9:8, Paul “reckons” [logizomai] Abraham’s spiritual children as God’s children. Paul’s evaluation about Abraham’s spiritual children corresponds to what they really are: God’s children."

           Notice that in each of the above examples a reckoning according to reality takes place—a mental evaluation that correctly corresponds to reality. Never does the reckoning in these verses suggest a mere declaration that is not intended to match up to the reality. There are some passages in Scripture where people “reckon” something in a way that doesn’t match the true nature of the thing being reckoned (see Mark 15:28; Rom. 2:3). But in these cases the reckoning is seen as flawed."

           The King James Version translates Strong's G3049 (logizomai) in the following manner: think (9x), impute (8x), reckon (6x), count (5x), account (4x), suppose (2x), reason (1x), number (1x), miscellaneous (5x). It has a slightly wide semantic range of meaning (For example: to reckon, count, compute, calculate).

           The term logizomai does indeed have cases where something is accounted, reckoned, or regarded in a way that conforms with reality. The point is that it is an accounting term that does not always have to conform. This is the grounds for the Apostle Paul’s argument in Romans 4. Roman Catholicism has a different definition of logizomai that makes its transformational. But that is not what the word entails. It is an accounting term. Following is a commentary by John MacArthur:

           "The word accounted. ( vv. 5, 9, 10, 22). Used in both financial and legal settings, this Gr. word, which occurs 9 times in chap. 4 alone, means to take something that belongs to someone and credit to another’s account. It is a one-sided transaction—Abraham did nothing to accumulate it; God simply credited it to him. God took His own righteousness and credited it to Abraham as if it were actually his. This God did because Abraham believed in Him (see Gen. 15:6). righteousness."

           Interestingly, the form of logizomai that occurs in Romans 2:26 is an instance that can clearly be understood in a judicial or declarative sense. It would be absurd to assert that circumcision is infused into somebody. God treats a righteous man who is uncircumcised as if he is circumcised.

           "So, when we come to Romans 4:3, where God “reckons” Abraham as righteous, it’s reasonable to conclude, in light of the foregoing analysis, that God evaluates Abraham to be righteous because in reality his faith truly has a righteous quality to it, thus making Abraham ontologically righteous. To say that God “reckons” Abraham as righteous even though he’s not, you either have to say that God was wrong in his reckoning or that you’re using the term reckon in a way that Paul does not. No Protestant wants to concede the first horn of the dilemma. And I doubt that many want to concede the second. So, rather than undermining the Catholic view of justification, God’s reckoning of Abraham as righteous in Romans 4:3 supports it."

           Romans 4:6-8 says, "just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Paul emphatically states that God counts someone righteous apart from works. Following is an excerpt from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible on the text of Romans 4:4:

          "of debt: it must be his due, as wages are to an hireling. Now this was not Abraham's case, which must have been, had he been justified by works; he had a reward reckoned to him, and accounted his, which was God himself, "I am thy shield, and exceeding, great reward", Genesis 15:1; which must be reckoned to him, not of debt, but of grace; wherefore it follows, that he was justified, not by works, but by the grace of God imputed to him; that which his faith believed in for righteousness. The distinction of a reward of grace, and of debt, was known to the Jews; a the one they called פרס, the other שכר: the formerF4 they say is הגמול, "a benefit", which is freely of grace bestowed on an undeserving person, or one he is not obliged to; the other is what is given, בדין, "of debt", in strict justice."

          We are not suggesting that God is wrong or that Paul is using the term incorrectly. The Lord already knows what is in our hearts. Believers are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His righteousness belongs to us. This "legal transaction" is not a lie just because it is a gift. This is not a matter of legal fiction. Christ is a real Mediator. Christ is truly our Advocate. He truly obeyed the Law perfectly. He paid the penalty for sin on our behalf. These points are all rooted in fact.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

If The Four Gospels Were Not Written By Eyewitnesses, Then Does That Undermine Their Credibility?

        The four gospel narratives were written either by eyewitnesses themselves or from secondhand accounts of direct eyewitnesses. In regards to the writing timeline, they were all written within thirty years of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is a relatively short period of time in comparison to other ancient texts. It means that most of those who were eyewitnesses to the resurrection were still alive, even as Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:6).

       Even assuming that the four gospel accounts were not written by eyewitnesses, the conclusion that they are rubbish or inaccurate does not follow. A secondhand account (such as Luke) is not unreliable as long as the writer works closely with the original eyewitness. We do not doubt biographies that are carefully written. Eyewitness accounts are trusted on a daily basis in courtrooms.

        Moreover, the four gospels were written during a time when people committed to memory lengthy speeches upon hearing them. Consequently, it is not reasonable in this scenario to simply dismiss the memory of the eyewitnesses to the risen Christ as unreliable.

        Somebody might object that miraculous explanations are beyond the ability of the historian to verify. Such a premise would be valid only if we start with the presupposition that the miraculous is not a part of history. Even the disciples themselves were originally skeptical of Jesus’ resurrection. They were convinced of its truthfulness when they saw, heard, and touched Him in His glorified body (John 20:24-29; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-4).

Monday, October 21, 2019

Religious Titles Of Honor In The Roman Catholic Hierarchy

           Roman Catholic priests are addressed by the name "Father" as a formal religious title of honor. In addition, the pope wields the title "Holy Father." However, these titles of exaltation become problematic in light of Jesus Christ's teaching on this matter:

           "But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)

           The context of this passage focuses on religious elitism and hypocrisy. The Scribes and Pharisees of the Law loved being the center of attention. They did good works with the intention of receiving praise from other people. These men were outwardly righteous, but were actually depraved to the very core of their being.

           There certainly are figures of authority in the church. We can recognize an individual as being a spiritual father, a spiritual leader or teacher, bishop, elder, overseer, pastor, or a deacon. We can recognize doctorate degrees. But there is no biblical warrant for emphasizing titles to the point of self-exaltation. We never see people in the New Testament called "Father David," "Reverend Peter," "Doctor Timothy," etc.

           We are all "brethren" in Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:8), which means that no one in the church has intrinsic superiority over another. We are all servants of Christ who is our Master. We are not to use titles to call attention to our own accomplishments. God already knows our hearts. He knows whether or not we are faithful to Him. That is what really counts. There is nothing scriptural about pastors requiring members of God's church to address them by special titles of honor.

           Matthew 23:5-13 specifically forbids the love of flattering religious titles or believers striving to be placed on a pedestal. The underlying problem with insisting that we be addressed by formal titles of honor in the church is that we have a tendency to become puffed-up. The church is God's kingdom. Nothing could be more haughty than the pope taking on the title "Holy Father" when that title in Scripture is applied only to God (John 17:11). Nobody is pure except God alone (Mark 10:18).

    Sunday, October 20, 2019

    Commentary On Leviticus 10:17

    "[Leviticus] 10:17 eaten the sin offering. The purification (“sin”) offering absorbs the impurities that it was presented to remedy. When a great deal is absorbed, the offering is burnt (see 4:12), but on most occasions the priest’s eating of the offering is part of the purification process. Aaron’s reluctance to eat the offering may be caused by the presence of the corpses of his sons (v. 2), which add dangerous levels of impurity."

    Excerpt taken from the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture

    Thursday, October 17, 2019

    The Bible As A Historical Book

    Non-Christians assume that the Bible is a collection of myths. So do theological liberals, which is why they feel free to support abortion, homosexual marriage, the validity of all world religions — and they have constructed a whole vein of scholarship designed to “demythologize” the Bible, so as to salvage what they consider to be relevant to contemporary culture.

    As a long-time student of literature, I get frustrated reading liberal biblical scholarship, not just because of its bad theology but because of its distortion of literature. A person might not believe the Bible is historical, but it is beyond doubt that the Bible is written in a historical style (which, in turn, is strong evidence for its historicity).

    A greater literary scholar than I, C.S. Lewis, saw the same thing. “Whatever these men may be as biblical critics, I distrust them as critics,” Lewis wrote. “They seem to me to lack literary judgment, to be imperceptive about the very quality of the texts they are reading.” Lewis thought that part of the problem may be specialization, that these scholars have devoted so much time to the minute scrutiny of biblical texts that they have failed to attain “a wide and deep and genial experience of literature in general.… If he tells me something in a gospel is a legend or a romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read” (“Fern-seed and Elephants,” in Christian Reflections).

    For most of the history of Western literature, beginning in the ancient world and continuing up until the invention of the novel in the eighteenth century, legends, romances, and myths were written in poetry. Historical records were written in prose.

    The Bible has poetry, of course — the Psalms and the prophetic books — but these are lyric poems (that is, personal expressions, the kind of poetry that can be assumed to be true). The great narratives of Scripture — in Genesis, the saga of the Israelites, the Gospels — are in prose. That alone is good evidence that they are historical.

    But more than that, the texture, details, and composition of these narratives marks them not as myths or imaginative fictions but history. Lewis makes fun of Bible scholars who call the gospel of John an “allegory,” pointing to the vividly lifelike dialogues and to the extraneous details — such as Jesus writing in the dust — whose inclusion can only be accounted for if they actually happened. “I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this.”

    Lewis sees only two possibilities. Either these accounts are reports of actual events, “or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole universe of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative.”

    Lewis says, “The reader who doesn’t see this has simply not learned to read. I would recommend him to read Auerbach.” So let us read Eric Auerbach, whose book Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (1953) is recognized as one of the century’s greatest works of literary criticism. The first chapter, “Odyseuss’ Scar,” compares the style of Homer to that of the Bible.

    Homer, Auerbach shows, puts everything in the foreground — giving us what the characters look like, describing their surroundings in detail, and even telling us what they are thinking. This approach, which has become the model for Western fiction, is “to represent phenomena in a fully externalized form, visible and palpable in all their parts, and completely fixed in their spatial and temporal relations,” says Auerbach.

    He contrasts this highly-imaginative approach to the way the Bible in Genesis describes the sacrifice of Isaac. We do not know what Abraham or Isaac look like; there is no description of the landscape; we are not told what Abraham thinks as he prepares to sacrifice his son; nor are we informed why God acts as He does. Such meaning is in the “background,” requiring interpretation and reflection and opening up untold depths.

    This kind of narrative testifies to the real because it is messy, unpredictable, and compels, just like real life. Auerbach says that the story of David has to be historical. “In Absalom’s rebellion, for example, or in the scenes from David’s last days, the contradictions and crossing of motives both in individuals and in the general action have become so concrete that it is impossible to doubt the historicity of the information conveyed.”

    Unlike Homer, the biblical narrator was not just making things up. “His freedom in creative or representative imagination was severely limited.” This is because he was constrained by the truth. The Bible conveys not just truth, but authoritative truth. “Far from seeking, like Homer, merely to make us forget our own reality for a few hours, it seeks to overcome our reality: we are to fit our own life into its world, feel ourselves to be elements in its structure of universal history.”

    Auerbach was not a Christian. He remained a Jewish rationalist. But he recognized the implications of the Bible’s historicity and truth. “The Scripture stories do not, like Homer’s, court our favor, they do not flatter us that they may please us and enchant us — they seek to subject us, and if we refuse to be subjected we are rebels.”

    A Damning Mormon Quotable

    "I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting."

    Elder Boyd K. Packer, Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, p. 103, fn 22

    Wednesday, October 16, 2019

    On The Discrepancy Between The Bible And Book Of Mormon On Where Christ Was Born

            The Old and New Testaments affirm that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem:

            "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
    from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." (Micah 5:2)

            "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2:1)

            In contrast, the Book of Mormon claims that Christ was born in Jerusalem:

            "But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God bcometh upon the face of the earth. And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at berusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God." (Alma 7:9-10)

            Both Bethlehem and Jerusalem were cities in Judea. But how could there be a contradiction in divine revelation as to something as important as the birthplace of the Messiah? Dismissing the biblical text as corrupt in favor of the Book of Mormon is both a nonanswer and a cop out.

    Monday, October 14, 2019

    Addressing The Mormon Dogma Of Celestial Marriage

    • Discussion:
               -One dogma of Mormonism is that of celestial marriage. It is believed by Mormons that husbands will reign as gods in their own universes with their families and procreate for eternity. One biblical text that is problematic for this idea, however, is the teachings of Jesus Christ relating to the status of marriage in the resurrection of the dead:

               "Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves behind a wife and leaves no child, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. “There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. “The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise; and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also. “In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." (Mark 12:18-25)

               The question posed by the Sadducees reflected the Jewish custom of passing childless married women whose husbands were deceased on to younger brothers in the same family. Christ answered their faulty premise, pointing out that there will be no marriages taking place in heaven. Humans will become immortal like the angels. There will be no need to produce offspring. See also the parallel text of Luke 20:34-36.

               What takes place in the heavenly realm is quite unlike our experiences on earth. Jesus Christ continues His reprimanding of the Sadducees with the following remarks:

               "But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.” (Mark 12:26-27)

               God will give us much more fulfilling things in the eternal state than any temporary pleasures available to us in this life. He does value the institution of marriage, but it will not exist in heaven. The same is true of family units.

               The Mormon concept of celestial marriage expressly contradicts the teaching of Christ. In fact, wives who lost their husbands on earth and chose to remarry would be guilty of committing adultery because according to Latter Day Saint theology, they would be forever bound to their first spouse.

    Luke 1:1-4 And The Reliability Of New Testament Texts

            "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:1-4)

            If Luke was able to select from a wide variety of sources in putting together an accurate account of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, then it stands to reason that he also had access to Mark and other earlier material. He also would have had contact with direct eyewitnesses to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6). One commentator put matters in this manner:

            "1:1 draw up an account. In the Mediterranean world, disciples of teachers often committed the teacher’s lectures to writing; otherwise, others often did so (especially if the disciples were not very literate). Most scholars agree that at least one of the written works by Luke’s day was Mark; one of the many other sources might be a collection of material shared by Matthew and Luke (perhaps a collection of mostly sayings reported by Matthew). Sometimes students published their teacher’s sayings in ways that even reflected the teacher’s distinctive style. things that have been fulfilled among us. Reflects the kind of subject noted by ancient historians (rather than by other kinds of writers) in their prefaces."

            Moreover, Luke's work demonstrates that the four gospel accounts are rooted in history. They are not fictional or mythological.

    Saturday, October 12, 2019

    A Philosophical Argument For The Immateriality Of The Soul

    " metaphysics, he held the view that ordinary objects (tables, chairs, etc.) are ‘logical fictions’, and that what exists “in the strict and philosophical sense” are parcels of matter. Parcels of matter cannot lose parts and continue to exist as the same things, according to Chisholm. But what we think of as ordinary objects are gaining and losing parts all the time, he noted. Some molecules that once composed the table in front of me no longer do so. They have been chipped off, and the table worn away with time. The same holds for human bodies. They gain and lose parts all the time, and thus for Chisholm, human bodies don’t persist through time “in the strict and philosophical sense.” But persons – whatever they are – do persist through changes in the matter that composes a body. Therefore, he concluded, persons are not identical with their bodies, nor with any part of the body that can undergo change."

    Argument articulated by Roderick Chisholm

    Thursday, October 10, 2019

    A Discourse On Sexual Purity

    • General Points Of Consideration:
              -The historical, traditional view of reserving sexual intercourse between man and women for marriage has always been an integral product of divine creation (Genesis 2:20-24; Matthew 19:4-5). It is a part of God's plan for our good. 
              -Though every human being has been assigned sexuality by bodily design, the intimate act itself is to be restricted to the confines of matrimony. This is where procreation is supposed to take place. Thus, acts of fornication, adultery, lust, and masturbation are condemned in a biblical worldview. Sexual sins are sins against our very bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). They are rooted in selfishness.
              -It is only from the biblical framework that the act of sex can be rightly understood. From it the act can be enjoyed to the fullest extent. Women are not viewed as objects of pleasure or used merely as baby making machines. 
              -Abstinence before marriage is proper and sensible even from a secular standpoint, as it prevents unwanted pregnancies which can be financially burdensome and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. 
              -Abstinence before marriage results in faithful spouses and thus the proper development of families. The proper family structure maintains a healthy society overall.
    • Presenting Jesus Christ's Teaching On Lust And Adultery:
              -“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30)
    • Comments On The Teachings Of Christ In The New Testament:
              -Jesus was not deepening what the Law says, but bringing out the true meaning of the Law in contrast with the false teachings of the Jewish leaders. This is evident in Matthew 5 when Jesus contrasts His own teaching (Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44) with "you have heard that it was said" (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). We need to follow the spirit of the Law rather than the letter of the Law (Matthew 5:20).
              -The Law already taught obedience from the heart. The Old Testament forbids hatred as well as murder; lust as well as outward adultery. See texts such as 2 Kings 9:30, 2 Samuel 11:2-5, Job 31:1, and Proverbs 6:25-26.
              -"Many ancient Jewish moralists condemned lust; some later rabbis even compared extreme lust to adultery. Jesus’ warning here develops the context of the prohibition against adultery in the law: the seventh commandment prohibited adultery, but the tenth commandment warned that one should not even covet one’s neighbor’s wife (Ex 20:17; Dt 5:21). Jesus uses here the same verb as in the standard Greek translation of the tenth commandment. He refers, then, to wanting to have one’s neighbor’s wife. The principle, of course, extends beyond Jesus’ illustration, applying to both genders and to single people, coveting one who might be someone else’s spouse someday." (

    Tuesday, October 8, 2019

    Insect With Its Own Gearbox – More Proof Of Intelligent Design?

    "Stunning imagery and video has been released of a tiny insect that uses a gearbox, complete with interlocking gears, to move.

    “A species of plant-hopping insect, Issus coleoptratus, is the first living creature known to possess functional gears, a new study finds. The two interlocking gears on the insect’s hind legs help synchronize the legs when the animal jumps,” reported Live Science.

    “To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first demonstration of functioning gears in any animal,” lead researcher Malcolm Burrows, an emeritus professor of neurobiology at Britain’s University of Cambridge, told journalists.

    The imagery of the bug is certain to further fuel the scientific debate about intelligent design versus random evolutionary development, because it shows complex machinery was not developed first by humans, but in nature itself.

    The discovery of the gearbox follows the discovery of an internal motor, similar to an outboard on a boat, used by certain bacteria to propel themselves.

    Scientists investigating the ‘design inference’ have noted on the bacterial motors that these molecular machines are appearing at sub-cellular levels as a product of DNA coding rather than sexual reproduction and natural selection. They also argue that the biological machines are “irreducibly” complex, meaning they give no advantage to the organism unless they are working from day one.

    The odds against such complex machinery assembling itself on day one are said to be so huge that it gives rise to the question of whether they are evidence of intelligent design in nature.

    In the present case, the gears are assembled on the legs."

    Monday, October 7, 2019

    Contending Earnestly For The Faith

            "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 3)

            The inspired author's mention of "our common salvation" is a reference to the body of apostolic preaching and doctrine delivered to the churches during the first century.

            Jude was writing to warn against professing Christians who perverted the doctrine of grace and rejected the Lordship of Jesus Christ. These men are characterized as vile and godless (Jude 4). It is from these men that we must disassociate.

            Consequently, the doctrine that was originally laid out by the apostles is to be pitted against those who preach contradictory doctrine. We have been called to steadfastly maintain the purity of the gospel. In so doing, we must also keep a clean conscience.

    Thursday, October 3, 2019

    Genesis 3:21 And Imputed Righteousness

    "Adam and Eve had fallen into sin and under God's subsequent curse. God had said that disobedience to his command would receive the penalty of death (Gen. 2:17). Adam and eve would die, being barred from the tree of life and thus kept from living forever (Gen. 3:22). But at the same time God announced his gracious purpose to achieve their salvation, and to each of the players in the drama of the fall, God spoke of a Savior who would achieve that salvation. In Genesis 3:15 he warned the serpent of a seed from the woman who would crush his head. But in Genesis 3:21, God proclaimed Christ to Adam and Eve in a different and wholly wonderful way: "The LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them." We remember that sin had contaminated the first couple's nakedness with shame, so God covered their sin and guilt with the skins of an innocent substitute. Here was a spotless creature who had not participated in our first parents' sin but who nonetheless paid sin's penalty of death. Adam and Eve, not participating in the sacrifice's righteousness, nonetheless are clothed by it so as to stand justified before God."

    By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 91-92

    Wednesday, October 2, 2019

    Romans 4:7-8 And Imputed Righteousness

    "In citing Psalm 32:1-2, Paul further makes clear that these are people who have "lawless deeds" and "sins" (Rom. 4:7-8). Altogether, the apostle teaches that "ungodly" people characterized by "lawless deeds" and "sins" are "justified" in that God "credits righteousness" to them "apart from works." Carson thus concludes, "We perceive that justification of the ungodly means the imputation of righteousness."20

    By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 82

    Romans 4:4-5 And Imputed Righteousness

    "...note that in Romans 4:5 Paul adds the statement that faith "trusts him who justifies the ungodly." This can only be a reference to God justifying Abraham. If Abraham was ungodly when he was credited with righteousness, it cannot be because he did something that God considered righteous. If Abraham was faithful at the time he was justified, then this could not be an instance of God "justifying the ungodly." Carson argues, "In Paul's understanding, then, God's imputation of Abraham's faith to Abraham as righteous cannot be grounded in the assumption that faith itself is intrinsically righteous."18 If Abraham was "ungodly" at the time of his justification, his must have been what Reformed theology has termed an alien righteousness-a righteousness that is not based on Abraham's actual condition of faith. "Thus God credits us with a righteousness we do not have."19

    By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 82

    Tuesday, October 1, 2019

    Romans 4:4-5 And Justification By Faith Alone

    "Paul is contrasting two approaches to righteousness. The one is secured by works and the other by faith. The one is based on merit ("his due") and the other on grace ("as a gift")...Most significant is Paul's contrast between something that is earned, so that it is credited to the person "as his due," verses something that is received by faith, which is received "as a gift." In other words, Paul says that Abraham received righteousness not as something he did but because of God's gracious gift. Carson explains: "Romans 4:4 establishes that there is a crediting, an imputing, that means something is credited to your account that you do not deserve." This means that "when faith is imputed to Abraham as righteousness, it is unmerited, it is all of grace, because it is nothing more than believing God and his gracious promise."17 Paul's whole argument here is that while Abraham's believing is correlated to his being credited with righteousness, this is not because he did something to ear it."

    By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 81