Monday, December 30, 2019

The Uniqueness Of The Judeo-Christian Scriptures

"There are no other "sacred" books that anywhere nearly come up to the Scriptures in the character of their contents and the unity of their plan. Speaking of the Mohammedan, Zoroastrian, and Buddhist Scriptures, James Orr says, they are "destitute of beginning, middle, or end. They are, for the most part, collections of heterogeneous materials, loosely placed together. How different everyone must acknowledge it to be with the Bible! From Genesis to Revelation we feel that this book is in a real sense a unity. It is not a collection of fragments, but has, as we say, an organic character...There is nothing exactly resembling it, or even approaching it, in all literature."4

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 86

The Uniqueness Of The Biblical Answer To Human Sin And Suffering

"We naturally turn to the so-called "sacred" books of the world for an answer to our problems. But we cannot find any logical or adequate solution of the sin-question in the five Classics of Confucianism, the Vedas of Hinduism, or the Koran of Mohammedanism. When Joseph Cook, many years ago at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, challenged the priests of the ancient religions to answer Lady Macbeth's question: "How cleanse this red right hand?" all the priests were dumb. They had no answer to this question. But when we turn to the Bible, particularly to the New Testament, we get an answer that satisfies both the mind and the heart. In substance it is this: Christ "bare our sins in his body upon the tree; by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24). God has found a way by means of which He can remain just and justify the sinner that believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:26)."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 84

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Examining The Treasury Of Merit In Light Of Scripture

          “We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints ‘the Church’s treasury’, which is not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy." (CCC # 1476)

          "This treasury includes, as well, the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord…In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.” (CCC # 1477)

         First of all, there is no mention in Scripture of us making atonement for the sins of other brethren in Christ. There is no way in which we can satisfy the consequences for sin on behalf of other people. The shed blood of Jesus Christ is our propitiation (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10). His atonement is the only thing which has any value.

         The Apostle Paul stated that if it were possible, he would suffer to bring about the redemption of Israel (Romans 9-10). We can clearly see here a complete contrast between his inadequate work as a moral substitute and the complete sufficiency of Christ's work. Thus, it makes no sense to say that a person can somehow add (i.e. their prayers and good works) to something (i.e. Christ's atonement) which already has infinite worth.

         If the merits of Jesus Christ are infinitely valuable and inexhaustible, then it should atone for both sin and its guilt. This treasury of merit should cover both the temporary and eternal consequences of sin. Yet, the Roman Catholic Church requires its followers to make amends for the temporal punishments of sin through good works and suffering in purgatory. The benefits of the treasury of merit are not extended to eternal punishment. This seems inconsistent, given the treasury is spoken of so highly but it cannot cover the guilt of our sin. We might as well say that the treasury of merit cannot fully set one free from sin.

         The treasury of merit implies that the merit of Jesus Christ is insufficient because the merits of Mary and saints are also deemed sufficient. The Roman Catholic hierarchy would certainly dispute the implications of its theology, but for what other reason would one still need the merit of another if Christ's is not already sufficient? Nobody is righteous enough to accumulate merit for themselves and other people (Romans 3:9-23). So, this treasury of merit teaching is both absurd and unscriptural.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Manuscript Variants In The New Testament Text

Perhaps you have heard that there are 150,000 to 200,000 variant readings in the New Testament, so how can anyone trust anything it says? This is true but misleading, as the phrase variant reading is a technical term. Each time a manuscript of an ancient work is discovered, its text is compared with some standard printed edition. At each place it differs from the standard, a "variant reading" is recorded. If ten manuscripts differ at the same place from the standard,ten variant readings are recorded. Thus, the more readings which survive for a particular work, the more variant readings it will usually have. Thus our only real concern then is what fraction of the text is debatable.

Professor F.J.A. Hort of Cambridge, in his classic work on New Testament text, notes that seven-eights of the text is accepted by all as preserved just as penned by its original authors. The remaining one-eighth consists largely of matters of spelling and word order, both relatively trivial in ancient Greek. If scholars are correct in their consensus that the Alexandrian family of manuscripts preserves the best text, this area of doubt is reduced to about one-sixtieth of the text, from which Hort estimates that substantial variants make up only about one-one thousandth of the text.16 Other estimates have been made; for instance, Professor Abbot of Harvard suggests that only one-four hundredth of the text is doubtful.17

Detailed statistics on the classical texts are hard to come by. Remember that three of our ten secular histories have not even been preserved over substantial portions of their text. For Homer's Iliad, 750 to 1000 lines are in dispute out of a total of 15,600.18 This makes for about 6 percent disputed material. By contrast, Hort's estimate of "substantial variation" for the New Testament is one-tenth of 1 percent; Abbot's estimate is one-fourth of one percent; and even Hort's figure including trivial variation is less than 2 percent. Sir Frederick Kenyon well summarizes the situation:

"The number of manuscripts of the New so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.

Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds or even thousands."19

Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question, contributor Robert C. Newman, p. 283-284

Church Infallibility Is A Burden For Catholic Apologists

        Roman Catholic apologists routinely object to Sola Scriptura on the grounds that it results in doctrinal anarchy. It has been asserted that an infallible Magisterium is a requirement in order to obtain unity in the church. That may sound like a good and reasonable proposal at first, but the suggestion itself is also a subtle problem for Catholics.

         If one and only one of the Roman Catholic Church's dogmas are refuted by Scripture or logic, then it follows that the entire system falls apart. If the Catholic Church can be shown to not be infallible in teaching, then its claims to authority are not binding on us at all. In that scenario, faithful Catholics would have no choice but to give up Christianity altogether.

        In Protestantism, one has to use Scripture and reason to discern truth from error. The ability to make independent decisions exists, with there being options to choose from. That comes with the advantage of a person being able to change his viewpoints in accordance with available evidence. It is not an all or nothing scenario for an individual.

        If, however, one wishes to defend the Roman Catholic Church's claim to infallibility, then he must be entirely consistent. The idea must be defended at all costs. That would place an excessive apologetic burden on one to believe ideas that are potentially absurd beyond all measure. This framework would make any thinking person susceptible to apostasy from Christianity.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Old Testament And Doctrine Of Hell

        God gradually makes known Himself and His truth throughout history. He has slowly unveiled who He is to us. So, hints of the doctrine of hell can be found in the Old Testament.

         The term Sheol in Hebrew has a number of ways in which it can be used. It oftentimes refers to the grave. Sheol can have much more of a negative connotation in terms of the wicked going to that place (Psalm 49:9, Isaiah 38:17).

         Moreover, the motif of divine judgement can clearly be seen in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ Himself elaborated on the reality of hell or Gehenna. For example, He quoted Isaiah 66:24 in His teaching on this subject in Mark 9:47-48.

         "There are three categories of men; the wholly pious and the arch-sinners are not purified, but only those between these two classes (Ab. R. N. 41). A similar view is expressed in the Babylonian Talmud, which adds that those who have sinned themselves but have not led others into sin remain for twelve months in Gehenna; "after twelve months their bodies are destroyed, their souls are burned, and the wind strews the ashes under the feet of the pious. But as regards the heretics, etc., and Jeroboam, Nebat's son, hell shall pass away, but they shall not pass away" (R. H. 17a; comp. Shab. 33b). All that descend into Gehenna shall come up again, with the exception of three classes of men: those who have committed adultery, or shamed their neighbors, or vilified them (B. M. 58b). The felicity of the pious in paradise excites the wrath of the sinners who behold it when they come from hell (Lev. R. xxxii.). The Book of Enoch (xxvii. 3, xlviii. 9, lxii. 12) paraphrases this thought by saying that the pious rejoice in the pains of hell suffered by the sinners. Abraham takes the damned to his bosom ('Er. 19a; comp. Luke xvi. 19-31). The fire of Gehenna does not touch the Jewish sinners because they confess their sins before the gates of hell and return to God ('Er. 19a)." (

Thursday, December 19, 2019

On The Reliability Of Oral Tradition And The New Testament Text

Our earliest Christian literature, the letters of Paul, gives us glimpses of the form in which the story of Jesus and his teaching first circulated. That form was evidently an oral tradition, not fluid but fixed, and evidently learned by all Christians when they entered the church. This is why Paul can say, "I myself received from the Lord the account that I passed on to you," I Cor. 11:23. The words "received, passed on" [1] reflect the practice of tradition—the handing-down from one to another of a fixed form of words. How congenial this would be to the Jewish mind a moment's reflection on the Tradition of the Elders will show. The Jews at this very time possessed in Hebrew, unwritten, the scribal interpretation of the Law and in Aramaic a Targum or translation of most or all of their Scriptures. It was a point of pride with them not to commit these to writing but to preserve them

[1] paradidonai = tradere, traditio

unwritten but unaltered.[1] In such circles it would be entirely natural to treat the earliest account of Jesus' deeds and words in just this way. It is to this practice that Paul unmistakably refers, quoting from the Christian tradition our oldest account of the institution of the Lord's Supper, I Cor. 11:24, 25. It will be noted that he speaks of having previously passed this account on to the Corinthians. He speaks in a similar way in I Cor. 15:3-7 of the resurrection accounts which he had communicated to them: "I passed onto you as of first importance, the account I had received."

Acts similarly speaks of "remembering the words of the Lord Jesus," 20:35, and quotes words of Jesus that have never been found in any written gospel. Clement of Rome, in writing to the Corinthians about A.D.95, in two places—13:1 and 46:7, 8—quotes sayings of Jesus not quite like any in our gospels, admonishing his readers in both passages to "remember the words of the Lord Jesus." Polycarp of Smyrna in his letter to the Philippians, about A.D. 107-17, does the same, introducing the quotation with the words, "Remembering what the Lord said," Phil. 2:3. It seems clear that all four are quoting an Oral Gospel.[2]

This is internal evidence. Is there any external evidence,

[1] This attitude is clearly reflected in the story that Gamaliel the First, about A.D. 50, seeing a written copy of an Aramaic translation of Job, immediately had it destroyed. The Targum was not to be written but remembered; cf. Meyer Waxman, History of Jewish Literature (New York, 1930), II, p. 113.

[2] All these writers quote written documents in quite another way: I Cor 7:1; Gal. 3:13; Acts 1:20; I Clem. 47:1, 2; Pol. Phil. 3:2.

any possible reference to such a work, in out earliest Christian writings? It was, of course, the Jewish practice to preserve in oral form the sayings of the great rabbis, as the Pirqe Aboth ("The Sayings of the Fathers") shows. Conditions among the earliest Christians, who thought of Jesus as among other things a "rabbi"—Mark 9:5; 10:51; 11:21; 14:45, etc.—or a "teacher" (twelve times in Mark), favor such a way of preserving his teaching; it would, in fact, have been inevitable; and subsequent quotations seem to show its use, as we have seen. But is there anything that looks like an actual ancient mention of it by name?

In the early years of the second century there lived in Hierapolis, in Asia, a Christian bishop named Papias, who made it his business to interview any Christian of the previous generation who came near and to record these memorabilia in a book, which he called Interpretations of the Lord's Sayings. Though the book existed in convent libraries in Europe until the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, [1] it seems now to have disappeared, except for a few fragments of it quoted by ancient or medieval writers. One of these was Eusebius, who in his famous Church History, finished in A.D. 326, quoted this sentence from Papias:

"So then Matthew composed the Sayings in the Aramaic language and each one translated them as [best] he could."[2]

[1] A. Harnack, Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur: Die Ueberlieferung, und der Bestand (Leipzig, 1893), p. 69.

[2] Church History iii. 39, 15.

Edgar J. Goodspeed, An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 126-128

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Roman Catholic Religious Iconography Is Irreverent Toward The Biblical God

        The Roman Catholic Church contends that its followers are not guilty of idolatry but simply giving appropriate honor to Jesus Christ, Mary, and various saints. Religious iconography is said to have no power in and of itself and that only the person whom a particular image represents is the subject of veneration (CCC # 2132). One problem with such provisions is that God does not approve of us making images to convey His glory:

        "To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? The workman molds an image, The goldsmith overspreads it with gold, And the silversmith casts silver chains. Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution chooses a tree that will not rot; He seeks for himself a skillful workman To prepare a carved image that will not totter. Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; he makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One." (Isaiah 40:17-25)

        The Prophet Isaiah articulates a sharp contrast between the living God and powerless idols carved by the hands of men. It is irreverent to the utmost for us to even compare His unfathomable glory to relics which are the product of our fragile and fallen minds. These works are the antithesis of God's majesty. It is thus not proper for Roman Catholics to use religious iconography to worship Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). Trying to represent God by physical means degrades His glory and honor. To bow before a statue of Christ with the intent of offering up prayer in His name is to make a mockery of Him.

        One argument made to justify the use of images to worship Jesus Christ is His incarnation (CCC # 2129-2131), although it is difficult to see how or why such validates this practice. "Saints" are human beings, just like the rest of us. The Law emphatically condemned making statues of them for the purpose of religious devotion. The Lord became angry with the Israelites who had urged Aaron to make a golden calf as a result of their desire to have a visible manifestation of God (Exodus 32:8). Why would things be different this time around?

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit

        The promised Jewish Messiah was said to have the ability to perform miraculous deeds by the power of the Holy Spirit:

        "Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah." (Isaiah 35:5-6).

        The Pharisees attributed the power of Jesus Christ to demons:

        "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” (Matthew 12:24)

        These people had persistently and deliberately rejected verifiable evidence that He was sent by God. That is precisely the identity of what has been termed the unpardonable sin.

        This scenario is not one that can be replicated today because nobody has seen Christ publicly performing miracles. He is presently sitting at the right hand of the Father. Thus, no one can actually commit this form of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

        Continual unbelief does not receive forgiveness from God. In other words, a person who dies in a state of voluntary opposition to the conviction of heart brought about by the Holy Spirit will be eternally condemned. That sin in a sense is unforgivable. We must repent and place our trust in Christ's work for salvation (John 3:16).

Can Astronomy Explain The Biblical Star Of Bethlehem?

"To understand the Star of Bethlehem, we need to think like the three wise men. Motivated by this “star in the east,” they first traveled to Jerusalem and told King Herod the prophecy that a new ruler of the people of Israel would be born. We also need to think like King Herod, who asked the wise men when the star had appeared, because he and his court, apparently, were unaware of any such star in the sky.

These events present us with our first astronomy puzzle of the first Christmas: How could King Herod’s own advisors have been unaware of a star so bright and obvious that it could have led the wise men to Jerusalem?

Next, in order to reach Bethlehem, the wise men had to travel directly south from Jerusalem; somehow that “star in the east” “went before them, ‘til it came and stood over where the young child was.” Now we have our second first-Christmas astronomy puzzle: how can a star “in the east” guide our wise men to the south? The north star guides lost hikers to the north, so shouldn’t a star in the east have led the wise men to the east?

And we have yet a third first-Christmas astronomy puzzle: how does Matthew’s star move “before them,” like the taillights on the snowplow you might follow during a blizzard, and then stop and stand over the manger in Bethlehem, inside of which supposedly lies the infant Jesus?The adoration of the Magi, after they followed that ‘star in the east’ to Jesus.

What could the 'star in the east’ be?

The astronomer in me knows that no star can do these things, nor can a comet, or Jupiter, or a supernova, or a conjunction of planets or any other actual bright object in the nighttime sky. One can claim that Matthew’s words describe a miracle, something beyond the laws of physics. But Matthew chose his words carefully and wrote “star in the east” twice, which suggests that these words hold a specific importance for his readers.

Can we find any other explanation, consistent with Matthew’s words, that doesn’t require that the laws of physics be violated and that has something to do with astronomy? The answer, amazingly, is yes.

Astronomer Michael Molnar points out that “in the east” is a literal translation of the Greek phrase en te anatole, which was a technical term used in Greek mathematical astrology 2,000 years ago. It described, very specifically, a planet that would rise above the eastern horizon just before the sun would appear. Then, just moments after the planet rises, it disappears in the bright glare of the sun in the morning sky. Except for a brief moment, no one can see this “star in the east.”

We need a little bit of astronomy background here. In a human lifetime, virtually all the stars remain fixed in their places; the stars rise and set every night, but they do not move relative to each other. The stars in the Big Dipper appear year after year always in the same place. But the planets, the sun and the moon wander through the fixed stars; in fact, the word “planet” comes from the Greek word for wandering star. Though the planets, sun and moon move along approximately the same path through the background stars, they travel at different speeds, so they often lap each other. When the sun catches up with a planet, we can’t see the planet, but when the sun passes far enough beyond it, the planet reappears.

And now we need a little bit of astrology background. When the planet reappears again for the first time and rises in the morning sky just moments before the sun, for the first time in many months after having been hidden in the sun’s glare for those many months, that moment is known to astrologers as a heliacal rising. A heliacal rising, that special first reappearance of a planet, is what en te anatole referred to in ancient Greek astrology. In particular, the reappearance of a planet like Jupiter was thought by Greek astrologers to be symbolically significant for anyone born on that day.

Thus, the “star in the east” refers to an astronomical event with supposed astrological significance in the context of ancient Greek astrology.Was the star visible just briefly before dawn?

What about the star parked directly above the first crèche? The word usually translated as “stood over” comes from the Greek word epano, which also had an important meaning in ancient astrology. It refers to a particular moment when a planet stops moving and changes apparent direction from westward to eastward motion. This occurs when the Earth, which orbits the sun more quickly than Mars or Jupiter or Saturn, catches up with, or laps, the other planet.

Together, a rare combination of astrological events (the right planet rising before the sun; the sun being in the right constellation of the zodiac; plus a number of other combinations of planetary positions considered important by astrologers) would have suggested to ancient Greek astrologers a regal horoscope and a royal birth.

Molnar believes that the wise men were, in fact, very wise and mathematically adept astrologers. They also knew about the Old Testament prophecy that a new king would be born of the family of David. Most likely, they had been watching the heavens for years, waiting for alignments that would foretell the birth of this king. When they identified a powerful set of astrological portents, they decided the time was right to set out to find the prophesied leader.

If Matthew’s wise men actually undertook a journey to search for a newborn king, the bright star didn’t guide them; it only told them when to set out. And they wouldn’t have found an infant swaddled in a manger. After all, the baby was already eight months old by the time they decoded the astrological message they believed predicted the birth of a future king. The portent began on April 17 of 6 BC (with the heliacal rising of Jupiter that morning, followed, at noon, by its lunar occultation in the constellation Aries) and lasted until December 19 of 6 BC (when Jupiter stopped moving to the west, stood still briefly, and began moving to the east, as compared with the fixed background stars)...

Matthew wrote to convince his readers that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. Given the astrological clues embedded in his gospel, he must have believed the story of the Star of Bethlehem would be convincing evidence for many in his audience."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

What Is The Meaning Of "Justify" In The Writings of Paul?

  • Discussion:
          -Catholic Nick published an article in which he explains his understanding of what it means for God to justify sinners and how that supposedly undermines the doctrine of Sola Fide. Following are his remarks along with a critique:

          "To begin, the Greek word "justify" appears in about 36 verses in the New Testament. Of all these occurrences, the only time it is used in an explicitly forensic (legal, courtroom) context is in four verses: Mt 12:37; Rom 3:4; 8:33; 1 Cor 4:4. So how do Protestants come to the conclusion that it must mean "declare legally righteous by a judge"? Certainly not from the New Testament evidence, especially since 'forensic terms' don't really appear in places like Romans 3-4 and Galatians 2-3. Turning to the 40 verses of the Old Testament that use the term "justify," there were more occurrences in a legal context than in the New Testament, but still not enough to form any concrete conclusion: Ex 23:7; Deut 25:1; 2 Sam 15:4; 1 Kings 8:32 (same as 2 Chron 6:23); Ps 19:9; 51:4 (quoted in Rom 4:3); Ps 143:2; Prov 17:15."

           The meaning of the word justify is to be determined by the context in which it is used. Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology has this excerpt on the meaning of the term justification:

          "When we turn to the New Testament we must be clear that the righteousness and justification terminology is to be understood in the light of its Hebrew background, not in terms of contemporary Greek ideas. We see this, for example, in the words of Jesus who speaks of people giving account on the day of judgment: "by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt 12:37; the word NIV translates "acquitted" is the one Paul normally uses for"justified"). Those acquitted on the day of judgment are spoken of as "the righteous" (Matt 25:37; they go into "eternal life," v. 46). The verb translated "to justify" clearly means "to declare righteous." Any theological word dictionary such as Kittel's Theological Dictionary for example clearly demonstrates this. It is used of God in a quotation, which the New International Version renders "So that you may be proved right when you speak" (Rom 3:4; the NRSV has more exactly, "So that you may be justified in your words"). Now God cannot be "made righteous"; the expression obviously means "shown to be righteous" and this helps us see that when the word is applied to believers it does not mean "made righteous"; it signifies "declared righteous," "shown to be in the right," or the like."

          "So for a Protestant to say that "justify," especially as Paul uses it in Romans 3-4 and Galatians 2-3, means "declared to be a perfect law keeper by a judge" is by no means an established fact at all."

          When the term "justify" is used in chapters two and three of Galatians, Paul contrasts faith and the works of the Law. He speaks of both Jews and Gentiles being justified by faith. He refers to God's covenant with Israel and its nature as a relation of promise. But in the process, Paul pits an attempt to be justified by the Law against hearing with faith. Both sides of the contrast have life versus death as the two potential ends of that relationship. Paul discusses these themes also in chapters three and four of Galatians.

          "Matthew 12:37, 1 Corinthians 4:4, and (arguably) Romans 8:33, are speaking of the final judgement, not something that takes place at the moment of conversion.Romans 3:4 (Psalm 51:4) and (arguably) Psalm 19:9 are speaking of God being justified, thus it cannot mean "declare righteous by a judge," for no judge is above God. So despite being in a forensic context, "justify" here can really only mean vindicate."

          Justify can mean to vindicate, but that does nothing to weaken or undermine the usual meaning of that word. To be vindicated means to be shown as right, innocent, or without sin in a set of circumstances. Vindication is related to a courtroom scene and the question of innocence and just actions. Romans 8:33 is a clear case of forensic categories because it presents the idea of charge, accusation, and advocating.

          "Ex 23:7, Deut 25:1, Rom 8:33, 1 Cor 4:4, (and likely) Prov 17:5; Mt 12:37 are not speaking of "declaring righteous" - as in declaring that someone has done his duty like keeping the commandments perfectly - but rather of "acquittal," meaning being found not guilty, i.e. innocent. For example, if I'm on trial for speeding, the Judge can either find me guilty (condemn), or he can acquit me (find innocent), but he cannot declare me to be a perfect driver and worthy of a reward."

          We agree that justification means acquittal, the verdict of "not guilty." Nonetheless, it is difficult to see how the Roman Catholic Church could even affirm such given concepts like purgatory and the treasury of merit. The imputation of Jesus Christ's righteousness takes place through us being united with Him (1 Corinthians 1:30).

          "I made a distinction between vindicating and acquitting because it seems acquitting fits best in situations where a person is being found 'innocent' of a charge, where as vindicating means more to show someone is in the right. But that said, I would argue that acquitting is a form or subset of vindicating, so the terms are conceptually not that different. With that in mind, all vindication/acquittal framework, meaning this is how we should most probably view it as well, especially in the key texts of Romans and Galatians. This approach to rendering the term term "justify" as vindicate/acquit has the devastating effect of rendering the Protestant definition not only dubious, but completely without precedent."

          This seems to be quite a leap of logic, as Nick creates hairsplitting distinctions and fails to explain how his points are "devastating" to the "Protestant" argument. The author actually seems to contradict himself, since he says that the term "justify" as meaning "declare righteous" is "completely without precedence" while earlier acknowledging and citing certain passages of Scripture that definitely are to be understood in that same forensic sense.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Comments On The Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation Rendering Of Hebrews 1:6

        Hebrews 1:6 was translated in the following manner in the 1961 edition of the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation:

        "Let all God's angels worship him."

        How the passage from Hebrews is rendered in modern editions of the New World Translation:

        "And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.”

        The Greek word translated into English as "worship" is proskyneo. When employed in a religious context, it goes beyond giving somebody honor. That is indeed the case with Hebrews 1:6.

        Consequently, the rendering of proskyneo as "do obeisance" rather than worship in the New World Translation is wholly inappropriate. This is a clear example of the Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Society taking liberties with the text to avoid saying that Jesus is God.