Thursday, January 30, 2020

Snowflakes, Intelligent Design, And Beauty

        One objection to intelligent design theory is the formation of snowflakes. This argument has been articulated in the following manner:

        "The formation of a snowflake is a great example of order coming from randomness, both in terms of gaseous water molecules moving chaotically going to water molecules in a very specific structure, and because the underlying reason for doing that is the second law of thermodynamics, which ultimately is due to energy becoming more randomly distributed."

         Firstly, "chaos theory" is a description of a progressively complex arrangement of matter. There are factors in this process that remain a mystery to us.

         Secondly, snowflakes most certainly do have impressive looking structures. However, they are not functional systems with meaningful information. Snowflakes lack the specific type of complexity that a biological system has.

         Thirdly, snowflakes are a consequence of the Designer's supernatural act of creation (i.e. how He ordered scientific laws). This would be analogous to human beings creating robots which in turn could work in the manufacturing of vehicles or medical equipment. Intelligence (which requires the existence of a mind) is still involved.

         Fourthly, meaningful design and order are always the result of intelligence. The universe has such characteristics. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that an intelligent mind created our universe. 

         Moreover, some have inferred that beauty itself points to the existence of God. Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, articulates this argument as follows:

         "...symmetry, that’s imitation like kaleidoscopes or round stained glass, is often a great producer of beauty. We recognize beautiful accidental symmetry in nature, like an order of stones on the beach. But what do these random organizations reflect if there is no organization to be had in the first place? Reflections are only as good as the thing they reflect, so the beauty cannot be in the rocks themselves, no matter how many times it multiplies. So there must be a transcending beauty in relation to all creation. Other aspects of beauty that demand explanation is why we find it valuable, why we find its creation valuable, why we find its contemplation and consummation valuable, and why we don’t seem to find any natural sort of ugliness in nature."

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Did The Earliest Christians Hold To An Adoptionist Christology?

         -"Adoptionism, either of two Christian heresies: one developed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is also known as Dynamic Monarchianism (see Monarchianism); the other began in the 8th century in Spain and was concerned with the teaching of Elipandus, archbishop of Toledo. Wishing to distinguish in Christ the operations of each of his natures, human and divine, Elipandus referred to Christ in his humanity as “adopted son” in contradistinction to Christ in his divinity, who is the Son of God by nature. The son of Mary, assumed by the Word, thus was not the Son of God by nature but only by adoption."
         -"First, it does not adequately explain the worship of Jesus in the context of communal and corporate worship among early Jewish Christians. In an adoptionist context, the worship of Jesus would amount to the idolatrous worship of a mere man, although he may have been adopted as God’s son, he was nevertheless a man. Furthermore, it does not address the tension between the worship of Jesus within a monotheistic frame work of first century Judaism. The same categories of worship in Judaism towards God such as prayers, invocations, creedal confessions and hymns, are now being rendered to the risen Jesus by his followers. This practice is very early in the Christian movement. In order for this Jesus worship to be quickly attested in the nascent stage of the Christian movement, as dissimilar as it was, a satisfactory cause must be accounted for it. It must be a catalyst type of cause to quickly integrate such a phenomenon as the worship of Jesus. The direction again points to the resurrection of Jesus. Included in these acts of worship are also the applications of OT texts that have Yahweh or the Lord as their referent and now have Jesus as their reference point. This bespeaks a high Christology which was absent in adoptionist circles. Indeed if adoptionism was the earliest view of Jesus, this high Christology would not be prevalent at all or attested in the earliest texts of the NT. Adoptionist Christology would not necessarily be deemed incommensurate with Judaism nor provoke the Jewish sensibilities about monotheism."
  • Does Mark 1:11 Prove The Author Of That Narrative To Have Embraced An Adoptionist Christology?:
         -"The Father’s voice from heaven expressed approval of Jesus and His mission in words recalling Genesis 22:2. What the voice said identified the speaker. God’s words from heaven fused the concepts of King (Ps. 2:7) and Servant (Isa. 42:1). This combination constituted the unique sonship of Jesus. “The first clause of the [Father’s] declaration (with the verb in the present tense of the indicative mood) expresses an eternal and essential relationship. The second clause (the verb is in the aorist indicative) implies a past choice for the performance of a particular function in history.”[34] From this point on, the reader of Mark’s Gospel knows God’s authoritative evaluation of Jesus. This evaluation becomes the norm by which we judge the correctness or incorrectness of every other character’s understanding of Him. “If Mark refuses knowledge of Jesus’ identity to human characters in the beginning and middle of his story, who, then, knows of his identity? The answer is Mark himself as narrator, the reader, and such supernatural beings as God, Satan, and demons.”[35] Jesus began His official role as the Messiah at His baptism (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 89:26; Heb. 1:5). He also began His official role as the Suffering Servant of the Lord then (cf. 8:31; 9:30-31; 10:32-34, 45; 15:33-39). “Jesus’ baptism did not change His divine status. He did not become the Son of God at His baptism (or at the transfiguration, 9:7). Rather, His baptism showed the far-reaching significance of His acceptance of His messianic vocation as the suffering Servant of the Lord as well as the Davidic Messiah. Because He is the Son of God, the One approved by the Father and empowered by the Spirit, He is the Messiah (not vice versa).”[36] (Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable)
  • Does Romans 1:4 Prove That Paul Held To An Adoptionist Christology?:
         -"sn Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (horisthentos, from ὁρίζω, horizō) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matt 28:18 where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (New English Translation footnote on Romans 1:4)
         -"Bates treats τοῦ γενομένου as “who came into existence” rather than as a synonym for gennao for “I beget”. While he admits that ginomai can designate an ordinary birth, he points out the parallel language in Gal 4:4 and Phil 2:6-7 which imply a change of status from a heavenly mode of existence to an earthly one. He also treats the preposition ek in ek spermatos Dauid as indicating Mary’s instrumental role in Jesus’ birth....The phrase kata sarka is not derogatory as it implies the Son’s pre-existence and speaks to his transition to the weak and frail human state. The en dunamei modifies Huiou Theou rather than oristhentos and is best translated as “Son of God in power”. Therefore there is no adopionistic christology here since “the resurrection event was the occasion at which the Son of God, who was in fact already deemed the preexistent Son of God before the resurrection event, was appointed to a new office that was able to be described by the phrase Son-of-God-in-Power.”
  • Does Hebrews 1:5 Prove The Author Of That Epistle To Have Embraced An Adoptionist Christology?:
         -"1:5 You are my Son. The Father’s decree declaring the Messiah to be His Son is identified with Christ’s exaltation (v. 4 note; 5:5; Acts 13:32–35; Rom. 1:4). Though Jesus is the eternal and divine Son of God (Mark 1:11; John 3:16), the declaration of redemptive Sonship prophesied in Ps. 2:7 was conferred on Him in time, when He completed His messianic work. Believers cannot become divine and share in Christ’s eternal divine Sonship, but their adoption as sons of God means that they participate in Christ’s redemptive Sonship through union with the “founder of their salvation” (2:10; cf. 3:14 note; Rom. 8:29)." (Reformation Study Bible footnote on Hebrews 1:5)
         -"3:14 we share in Christ. The Greek can be taken to mean that we are partakers with Christ, His companions (1:9), sharing new life with Him. It is also possible to translate “share in Christ,” indicating that He is the benefit we share in, through our intimate union with Him." (Reformation Study Bible footnote on Hebrews 3:14)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Papal Proof Texts Bite The Dust

"The earlier exegetical history of Matt. 16:18-19, Luke 22:32, and John 21:15-17 was largely out of step with the primatial (papal) interpretation of these passages...The mainstream of exegesis followed an agenda set forth by patristic precedent, especially Augustine, but also other Western fathers...The understanding of these Petrine texts by biblical exegetes in the mainstream of the tradition was universally non-primatial before Innocent III. It was the innovative exegetical argumentation of this imposing pope which began to change the picture."

Karlfried Froehlich, cited by William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions, p. 32-33

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Spurious Nature Of Mary's Bodily Assumption

Thus, the Transitus literature is the real source of the teaching of the assumption of Mary and Roman Catholic authorities admit this.59 It was partially through these writings that teachers in the East and West began to embrace and promote the teaching. But it still took several centuries for it to become generally accepted. The earliest extant discourse on the feast of the Dormition affirms that the assumption of Mary comes from the East at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth century. The Transitus literature is highly significant as the origin of the assumption teaching and it is important that we understand the nature of these writings. The Roman Catholic Church would have us believe that this apocryphal work expressed an existing, common belief among the faithful with respect to Mary and that the Holy Spirit used it to bring more generally to the Church’s awareness the truth of Mary’s assumption. The historical evidence would suggest otherwise. The truth is that, as with the teaching of the immaculate conception, the Roman Church has embraced and is responsible for promoting teachings which originated, not with the faithful, but with heretical writings which were officially condemned by the early Church. History proves that when the Transitus teaching originated the Church regarded it as heresy. In 494 to 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius issued a decree entitled Decretum de Libris Canonicis Ecclesiasticis et Apocryphis. This decree officially set forth the writings which were considered to be canonical and those which were apocryphal and were to be rejected. He gives a list of apocryphal writings and makes the following statement regarding them:

The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below some which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics.60

In the list of apocryphal writings which are to be rejected Gelasius signifies the following work: Liber qui apellatur Transitus, id est Assumptio Sanctae Mariae, Apocryphus (Pope Gelasius 1, Epistle 42, Migne Series, M.P.L. vol. 59, Col. 162). This specifically means the Transitus writing of the assumption of Mary. At the end of the decree he states that this and all the other listed literature is heretical and that their authors and teachings and all who adhere to them are condemned and placed under eternal anathema which is indissoluble. And he places the Transitus literature in the same category as the heretics and writings of Arius, Simon Magus, Marcion, Apollinaris, Valentinus and Pelagius.62

Pope Gelasius explicitly condemns the authors as well as their writings and the teachings which they promote and all who follow them. And significantly, this entire decree and its condemnation was reaffirmed by Pope Hormisdas in the sixth century around A.D. 520.63 These facts prove that the early Church viewed the assumption teaching, not as a legitimate expression of the pious belief of the faithful but as a heresy worthy of condemnation. There are those who question the authority of the so-called Gelasian decree on historical grounds saying that it is spuriously attributed to Gelasius. However, the Roman Catholic authorities Denzinger, Charles Joseph Hefele, W. A. Jurgens and the New Catholic Encyclopedia64 all affirm that the decree derives from Pope Gelasius, and Pope Nicholas I in a letter to the bishops of Gaul (c. 865 A.D.) officially quotes from this decree and attributes its authorship to Gelasius. While the Gelasian decree may be questioned by some, the decree of Pope Hormisdas reaffirming the Gelasian decree in the early sixth century has not been questioned.

William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions, p. 42-44

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Receiving The Holy Spirit By Faith

        In Galatians 3:2, the Apostle Paul refers to the moment when the Christians at Galatia were first converted. They believed in their hearts as a result of hearing the gospel message that he delivered. Human efforts are not to be added to faith as a means of justification afterwards (Galatians 3:3). If people want to receive the gospel by some means other than "by hearing with faith," then that would constitute a rejection of faith as sufficient to bring about our justification before God. Paul uses Abraham as an example of someone who was justified by faith apart from meritorious works (Galatians 3:6). There exists no good works that can enable us to obtain fellowship with God (Galatians 3:21-24). The Apostle Paul's focus (in combating the Judaizers) extends beyond the Mosaic Law. He argues against seeking favor with God by any particular system of good works: "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life..." (Galatians 3:21). That point covers both the moral and ceremonial aspects of the Law. Consequently, Paul argues against seeking justification before God by any other means than faith.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Moloch At The Colosseum

If you visit the Colosseum in Rome, where thousands of Christians were martyred, you will pass at the entrance an enormous image of Moloch, the gruesome Canaanite deity that demanded the sacrifice of infants and small children.

The idol, modeled after a depiction in the classic silent film Cabiria, is part of an exhibit on ancient Carthage, where Moloch was worshiped. Many conservative Catholics and Christians in general are unnerved by the presence of the idol on what they consider sacred ground. The Colosseum, the stadium where Rome staged its gladiator fights and other entertainments (including the torture of Christians) is owned and operated by the Vatican, which must have given permission for the exhibit and the installation.

The controversy over the Moloch image has become tied to another controversy over the use of an Amazonian fertility idol to the goddess Pachamama in a series of ceremonies, including one at the Vatican gardens at which the Pope was present. The events, honoring the Amazonian Synod that was considering ordaining female priests, included indigenous worshippers prostrating themselves before the idol and a liturgical prayer to the goddess. Some conservative Catholics later stole the idols and threw them into the Tiber river. They were recovered and the Pope apologized.

Defenders of the statue say that it’s simply a part of a historical, cultural exhibit about Rome’s ancient rival and that no religious significance was intended. Fine. But why wasn’t the figure relegated to the context of the other exhibits inside, rather than “welcoming” (the word used in the press release) visitors at the entrance of the Colosseum itself? True, statues of other pagan gods, such as Jupiter and Mercury, can be found everywhere in Rome. But Moloch is particularly problematic.

So what’s the issue with Moloch? This is no ordinary animistic image. Even the Greek and Roman pagans were horrified by Moloch and how he was worshiped. The classical writers associated Moloch with Cronus, whom the Romans called Saturn, one of the old gods who devoured his own children until he was overthrown by his child Zeus.

Plutarch is especially descriptive: “… but with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums that the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.”

Carthage was an outpost of the Canaanite civilization that was in conflict with that of the children of Israel. And the Bible expressly and explicitly addresses Moloch and his worship by child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35).

The Myth Of Matthew 16:18 As The End-All, Be-All For Roman Catholicism

It's not unusual for Catholics who want to express disagreement with something I've written to play the Matthew 16:18 trump card.

That's where -- unlike in the same story told in Mark and Luke -- Jesus says, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." One Catholic reading is that Jesus meant to break away from Judaism, start a new religion and name Peter the first pope.

Many other Catholics and Protestants, including me, conclude that Jesus, always a Jew, was much more interested in announcing the in-breaking reign of God (which is what Jesus meant by the Gospel) and was not focused on creating a hierarchical and institutionalized structure. Indeed, it's hard to find a biblical scholar these days who would agree that Jesus' purpose was to start a new religion.

Still, I've never quite known how to respond to insistent Catholics who haul out Matthew 16:18 and assume that's a full answer that confirms Petrine primacy and, by extension, the assertion that anyone outside the Catholic church is apostate.

I've just received considerable help with this matter from a Capuchin Franciscan, Michael H. Crosby, in his book Repair My House.

Crosby takes a careful look at Matthew 16, comparing it to the Mark 8 and Luke 9 versions of the same story, versions that omit Jesus saying anything to Peter about being the rock (a play on his name) on which he will build a church.

To use the Matthew 16:18 passage as the be-all of Catholic reliance on Scripture and tradition, he writes, is to lean on "a selective and fundamentalist interpretation of this one text." Doing that, he says, "represents both intellectual dishonesty and scriptural errancy."

A more balanced and satisfying way of understanding the role of the church and its leadership, Crosby writes, is to balance Matthew 16 with Matthew 18. In the latter chapter, we find a broader notion of authority among the followers of Jesus, disciples who eventually would separate from Judaism and become Christianity.

In Matthew 18, Jesus gives authority and responsibility not to a single person but to the whole church (ekklesia, in Greek, which means literally the community that has been called out). Verse 17 says that a member of the ekklesia is to report to the ekklesia if someone who has sinned against him or her will not repent.

Thus, Crosby notes, Jesus assigns to the local church in 18:18 the power to bind and loose that is given to Peter in 16:19, and "both texts must be considered as equal in their power to bind and loose." The difference is that Peter gets the "keys to the kingdom" in 16 while the community in 18 "receives the promise of Christ's abiding presence in their binding and loosing in a way that is not given to Peter."

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The New Testament As We Have It Today Accurately Conveys What The Apostles Wrote

"The situation with New Testament textual criticism is entirely different: Virtually no conjectural emendation is required because of the great wealth, diversity, and age of the materials we have.5 Most New Testament scholars would say that there are absolutely no places where conjecture is necessary. Again, this is because the manuscripts are so plentiful and so early that in almost every instance the original New Testament can be reconstructed from the available evidence.

For example, Kurt and Barbara Aland, the first two directors of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany (Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung or INTF) co-authored one of the standard textbooks on NT textual criticism. At the INTF, over 90% of all Greek NT manuscripts are on microfilm. For the past forty-five years, the Institute has been more influential than any individual, school, or group of scholars anywhere else in the world for determining the exact wording of the original NT. In short, they know their stuff. Hear the Alands: “…every reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition is stubbornly preserved, even if the result is nonsense…any reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition, from the original reading onward, has been preserved in the tradition and needs only to be identified.”6

The Alands go so far as to say that if a reading is found in one manuscript it is almost surely not authentic: “The principle that the original reading may be found in any single manuscript or version when it stands alone or nearly alone is only a theoretical possibility.”7 Further, “Textual difficulties should not be solved by conjecture, or by positing glosses or interpolations, etc., where the textual tradition itself shows no break; such attempts amount to capitulation before the difficulties and are themselves violations of the text.”8 Their opinions in these matters should be considered as that of expert witnesses. Further, it is shared by most others in the discipline.9

What are the implications of the non-need to guess about the wording of the original? Only that in virtually every instance the original reading is to be found somewhere in the manuscripts...Further, since the original reading is not something to be merely guessed at, we have an actual database—the pool of variants found in the manuscripts—that can be tested for any theological deviations."

J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 106-107

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

On The Love Of God In John 4:10

Herein is love,.... The love of God, free love, love that cannot be matched: herein it is manifested, as before; this is a clear evidence of it, an undoubted proof, and puts it out of all question:

not that we loved God: the love of God is antecedent to the love of his people; it was when theirs was not; when they were without love to him, yea, enemies in their minds, by wicked works, and even enmity itself, and therefore was not procured by theirs; but on the contrary, their love to him is caused by his love to them; hence his love, and a continuance in it, do not depend on theirs; nor does it vary according to theirs; wherefore there is good reason to believe it will continue, and never be removed; and this shows the sovereignty and freeness of the love of God, and that it is surprising and matchless:

but that he loved us; that is, God; and so the Syriac version reads, "but that God himself loved us". The Vulgate Latin version adds, first, as in 1 John 4:19; the instance of this love follows:

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins: this is a subordinate end to the other, mentioned in 1 John 4:9; for, in order that sinful men may possess everlasting life and happiness, it is necessary that their sins be expiated, or atonement be made for them, which is meant by Christ's being a propitiation for them; that the justice of God should be satisfied; that peace and righteousness, or love and justice, should be reconciled together; and kiss each other; and that all obstructions be removed out of the way of the enjoyment of life, which are brought in by sin; and that the wrath of God, which sin deserved, be averted or appeased, according to our sense apprehension of it; for otherwise the love of God people is from everlasting, and is unchangeable, never alters, or never changes from love to wrath, or from wrath to love; nor is the love of God procured by the satisfaction and sacrifice of Christ, which are the effects of it; but hereby the way is laid open for the display of it, and the application of its effects, in a way consistent with the law and justice of God. This phrase is expressive of the great love of Christ to his people, and of his substitution in their room and stead; and so it is used among the Jews for a substitution in the room of others, לרוב אהבתו, "to express the greatness of love"F21

Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

On The Meaning And Scope Of Propitiation In 1 John 2:2

And he is the propitiation for our sins. Mark the ‘and’ which here once more introduces a new thought intended to obviate perversion. Though Christ is not said to be a ‘righteous Advocate,’ yet His advocacy must represent a righteous cause. He pleads His own atonement; that is Himself, for He ‘is’ in His Divine-human Person the propitiation: the advocacy is distinct from the atonement, is based upon it, and appeals to it.

The word propitiation occurs only here and in chap. 4 throughout the New Testament: it is really the counterpart of the ‘blood of Jesus His Son’ in chap. 1 John 1:6, the administration of the atonement coming between them in chap. 1 John 1:9. Christ is in the New Testament ‘set forth as a propitiation in His blood’ (Romans 3:25): a sacrificial offering that, as on the day of atonement to which it refers, averted the wrath of God from the people. He also as High Priest made atonement or ‘propitiation for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 2:17). which is here, as in the Septuagint, ‘propitiated in the matter of sins’ the God of holiness. Uniting these, He is in the present passage Himself the abstract ‘propitiation’ in His own glorified Person. His prayer for us, issuing from the very treasure-house of atoning virtue, must be acceptable; and, uttered to the Father who ‘sent Him’ as the propitiation (chap. 1 John 4:14), is one that He ‘heareth always’ (John 11:42).

It is then added: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. And why? First, because the apostle would utter his generous testimony, on this his first mention of the world, to the absolute universality of the design of the mission of the ‘Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world:’ his last mention of it, the second time he says ‘the whole world,’ will be of a severer character (chap. 1 John 5:19). Secondly, he thus intimates that the proper propitiation, as such, was the reconciliation of the Divine holiness and love in respect to all sins at once and in their unity, while the advocacy based upon it refers to special sins: on the one hand, no other atonement is necessary; on the other, that must avail if penitence secures the advocacy of Him who offered it once for all. Lastly, as we doubt not, the apostle thus ends a discussion, the fundamental object of which was to set forth universally and in general the way in which the Gospel offers to all mankind fellowship with the light of God’s holiness.

Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Does Old Testament Typology Point To Mary Being Queen Of Heaven?

  • Discussion:
          -Catholic apologist Tim Staples wrote an article attempting to substantiate from Scripture the notion of Mary being queen of heaven, resorting to Old Testament typology. Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to show that his claims are vacuous:

          "It can be difficult for us in the modern Western world to understand ancient monarchical concepts. But first-century Jews understood the notion of the kingdom that Jesus preached because they lived it. They knew that a kingdom meant that there was a king. And, in ancient Israel as in many nearby cultures, if there was a king there was a queen mother."

          The above statements are true in and of themselves. However, the conclusion that there must be a queen mother in heaven does not follow or fit as a logical flow from the original premise of the argument. What has been argued has been assumed rather than proven. It is an instance of circular reasoning.

          "In the New Testament, the inspired author of Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes verses 6-7 of this very text [Psalm 45:1-9] as referring to Christ, his divinity, and his kingship. But immediately following those verses is another, lesser-known, prophecy that speaks of Mary. Who is this woman of whom the Lord said, “I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever”? Not one of Solomon’s wives fit the prophetic description."

          Texts such as Ephesians 5 and Revelation 20 employ imagery of a bride to a king when speaking of the church. Moreover, there are passages in the Old Testament offering the same description of the relationship of God to Israel (Ezekiel 16:8-21; Hosea 1:1-3). However, Mary is never given such a description in the Bible.

          "Most every Christian—indeed most of the world beyond Christendom—knows the name of the Mother of God—Mary—who in fulfillment of this prophetic text said, “All generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48)."

           We can agree that Mary is blessed among women for the reason of her being used by God in a unique fashion. However, this argument begs the question in that it is not specified as to how or in what manner she should be blessed.

          If the Roman Catholic Church is correct in proclaiming that Mary is the queen of heaven, then how come Scripture never mentions her as being exalted at the right hand of God as it does with Jesus Christ on multiple occasions (Luke 22:69; Acts 5:31; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:10-13; 12:2)? How come Mary is nowhere mentioned as reigning next to God?

          A very detailed picture of heaven is given in chapters four and five of Revelation. God is seated on His throne and is surrounded by twenty-four elders and four living creatures (Revelation 4:4). Jesus Christ (i.e. the lamb) is standing in the middle of the throne. Several thousand angels circle the throne worshiping and singing God's praises. However, there is no mention or any implication of Mary's presence. In fact, only Jesus was found to be worthy of breaking the seals and opening the scroll (Revelation 5:1-5). If Mary were the queen of heaven, then this would have been an ideal context to mention her position of exaltation. But that does not happen anywhere.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Can We Rebuke Or Bind Satan In The Name Of Jesus?

        Scripture does not speak of Christians being able to rebuke the Devil. There are no examples of or instructions as to how we can do that in the New Testament epistles. Not even Micheal the Archangel put himself in a position to rebuke Satan (Jude 9). That is something which God Himself does (Zechariah 3:2).

         Satan is a reality who oppress us. The same is true of demons. However, their knowledge of things and power are not unlimited. Not every perceived spiritual attack is directly caused by Satan. He can only do as God permits him. We are to draw near to God (James 4:7-8). If we do that, then the Devil will flee from us because God draws near to those who seek after Him.

         We are to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). That Pauline passage employs imagery of the armor that Roman guards wore. Our chief concern in this life should be serving God and not continually rebuking or binding the devil. We must turn to the guiding principles provided in God-breathed Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).