Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Science So Falsely Called

        "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge." (1 Timothy 6:20)

        The Greek word for knowledge in 1 Timothy 6:20 is gnosis, which seems to indicate that the Apostle Paul was exhorting Timothy to oppose Gnosticism. He was combating ascetic elements by emphasizing the goodness of marriage and meats (1 Timothy 4:1-4). The Law is good when rightly applied (1 Timothy 1:8). The goodness of created things is rooted in the intrinsic goodness of God.

        Gnosticism is a system of empty speculation and false, supernatural mythology which began developing in the first century in embryonic forms. Moreover, it was perhaps the greatest foe that Christianity had for the first few centuries after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul argued against the idea of matter being evil by stressing the goodness of things created by God and how things are not corrupt in of themselves.

        What the Apostle Paul teaches is contrary to many other ways of life. One encyclopedia, for example, says, "Most wanderer groups—especially those responsible for the formation of the new religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism—shared the belief that this world has suffering and potentially endless rebirth. This negative evaluation of the world came to be called samsara."

        In contrast, Paul asserts that this world is good and calls regulations of mandatory abstinence "doctrines of demons." Pleasure is not wrong in of itself. He speaks pejoratively of "endless speculation" (1 Timothy 1:3-4). The rendering of "science so falsely called" found in the Authorized Version is ascribable to the Vulgate and its usage of scientia. The term science in the seventeenth century had a more general application than it does in modern English.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Commentary On 1 Timothy 1:8-10

[1 Timothy] 1:8 We know, etc. Cf. Ro 7:12, 16.

[1 Timothy] 1:9-10 The list of transgressions follows the Decalogue with six instances for the first table of the Law and eight for the second table. Paul gives extreme cases of transgression (e.g., murders of fathers for the Forth Commandment) to emphasize the negative character of the Law.

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on 1 Timothy], p. 219

Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is, There Is Liberty

"[2 Corinthians] 3:17 The Lord is the Spirit. Cf. 6. Since the Lord (Christ) is present among His people, known, and operative by the power of the Spirit, the two are so closely associated in God's working and in the church's experience that Paul can simply identify them in order to emphasize the fact that God's new order of things ("new covenant...life," 6; "righteousness...splendor," 9; "glory," 18) is experienced by man IN CHRIST (Cf. 5:17)."

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on 2 Corinthians], p. 165

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Gifts Of God

        It is a fact that we have a tendency to take for granted the graces of God. He has the power and authority to give and take them from us. Even something seemingly trivial such as the oxygen that we inhale is a gift of God. We ought to show gratitude to Him for the people and the things that we so cherish. All things that are good and enjoyable are gifts from God.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Tim Staples' Goofy Claims About 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to interact with a few claims that Catholic apologist Tim Staples has made regarding 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 and transubstantiation. He even says that his proof-text is perhaps the "plainest of all." Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a rebuttal:

          "According to St. Paul, a constitutive element involved in a Christian’s preparation to receive the Eucharist is “discerning the body.” What body is St. Paul talking about that must be “discerned” you ask? It’s really not very hard to tell. He just said, in verse 27, “Whoever . . . eats . . . in an unworthy matter will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Any questions?"

          No, rather, Paul is talking about unity amongst brethren and correcting abuses of the Lord's Supper. In 1 Corinthians 10, he uses the analogy of a body in describing what the church is supposed to be. The church at Corinth was divided amongst classes of wealth (1 Corinthians 11:20-22). This passage is not at all about the nature of the communion wafer.

          "St. Paul uses unequivocal language in describing the nature of the Eucharist by using the language of homicide when he describes the sin of those who do not recognize Christ’s body in this sacrament and therefore receive him unworthily. He says they are “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” According to Numbers 35:27, Deuteronomy 21:8, 22:8, Ezekiel 35:6, Rev. 18:24, 19:2, and elsewhere in Scripture, to be “guilty of blood” means you are guilty of shedding innocent blood in murder. This is not the language of pure symbolism. This is the language of real presence. Think about it: If someone were to put a bullet through a picture of a real person, I am sure the person represented in the photo would not be thrilled about it, but the perpetrator would not be “guilty of blood.” But if this same perpetrator were to put a bullet through the actual person you better believe he would be “guilty of blood.”

          Tim Staples asserts that what the Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 "is not the language of pure symbolism." At the same time, ironically, Tim makes a connection in the exact symbolic sense he argues against. The Corinthians who partook of communion with a guilty conscience did not literally murder Jesus Christ. The definition of "symbolic" used by Tim Staples appears to have been redefined and suited to his own theological interests.

          "It does not come as a surprise to Catholics that St. Paul would refer to the Eucharist as “bread” and “wine.” We do it commonly in the Church. This is so for at least two key reasons. First, Jesus is “the true bread come down from heaven” and “true drink” according to John 6:32 and verse 55. It is entirely proper to refer to the Eucharist as such because the Eucharist is Jesus. Second, in human discourse we tend to refer to things as they appear. This is called “phenomenological” language. We say “the sun will rise at 5:45 am tomorrow.” Does this mean we are all geocentrists who believe the sun rotates around the earth? I hope not!"

          The utilization of language does not in of itself prove that one has properly applied it in a given context. Nowhere in Scripture does one find a hint of the communion elements being the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. Nowhere does the New Testament say that the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass are inextricably united.

          The water used in baptism does not become the Holy Spirit that it illustrates. The water represents the Spirit and His regenerating work, just as the bread and wine used in the Last Supper represents the finished atonement of Jesus Christ.

          If transubstantiation took place during the Lord's Supper, then that would imply Christ had two physical bodies. He would be sitting in a chair while holding Himself in the air with His own two hands.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Commentary On Genesis 2:8

2:8 The location of the Garden of Eden has never been precisely determined. Scripture locates it generally on the Tigris (designated in the KJV by its ancient name Hiddekel) and Euphrates rivers where they were joined by the rivers Pishon and Gihon. The last two have never been identified. Tradition has located Eden south of Ur, at a site known as Eridu. British archaeologists excavated the ruins of Eridu in 1918-19. On the other hand, Albright thinks that Pishon and Gihon may have been the Blue and White Nyle.

Harper Study Bible [Revised Standard Version], p. 7

Monday, March 23, 2020

Luke 1:69 And The Deity Of Jesus Christ

        "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant." (Luke 1:68-69)

        What did Zacharias mean when he called the baby in Mary's womb a horn of salvation? In order to answer that question, we must turn to the Old Testament to see how that figurative expression was utilized.

        In the Old Testament, horns in many instances carried connotations of strength and honor (Job 16:15; Psalm 75:5-6; 148:14; Lamentations 2:3). God is described as being the horn of salvation in Psalm 18:2. Hence, the psalmist calls Him the mighty savior.

        The title given to God in Psalm 18:2 is applied to Jesus Christ by Zacharias. In an indirect fashion, he is calling Christ God. He is the mighty savior of the Jewish people. He is victorious over darkness and sin. He is deserving of honor.

        The horn of salvation is associated with the lineage of King David. It also might point to in an inexplicit manner a hymnal of praise to God sung by the mother of the Prophet Samuel ("...will exalt the horn of His anointed," 1 Samuel 2:10).

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Did Mary Participate In The Atonement Of Christ?

        "...we cannot doubt that she greatly grieved in soul in the most harsh anguishes and torments of her Son. Further, that divine sacrifice had to be completed with her present and looking on, for which she had generously nourished the victim from herself. Finally this is more tearfully observed in the same mysteries: There stood by the Cross of Jesus, Mary His Mother...of her own accord she offered her Son to the divine justice, dying with Him in her heart, transfixed with the sword of sorrow." (Leo XIII, Iucunda Semper, September 8, 1884)

        First of all, Scripture states that Jesus Christ offered Himself to God as atonement for our sin (Hebrews 9:14). He laid down His own life on His own accord (John 10:17-18). Mary played no role whatsoever in this act of redemption. Mary could not have offered her son to God as a sacrifice, even if she had wanted to.

        Secondly, Mary would have been in agony and distress to see her son nailed to a crucifix. Such reactions are only natural of normal mothers when they see their children suffer. However, there is no valid reason to suggest that Mary's grief had some sort of a unique or redemptive value. She is a human being, not a goddess.

Evolution And Language Development

"Much of the resistance to Darwinism "all the way up" comes from scientists and philosophers who deny the capacity of natural selection to produce specifically human mental qualities like the capacity for language. Foremost among these is Noam Chomsky, founder of modern linguistics, who describes a complex language program seemingly "hard-wired" into the human brain, which has no real analogy in the animal world and for which there is no very plausible story of step-by-step evolution through adaptive intermediate forms. Chomsky readily accepts evolutionary naturalism in principle, but (supported by Stephen Jay Gould) he regards Darwinian selection as no more than a place holder for a true explanation of the human language capacity which has not yet been found."

Phillip E. Johnson, Objections Sustained, p. 60

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Does Easter Come From Eostre?

The major problem with associating the origin of Easter with the pagan goddess Eastre/Eostre is that we have no hard evidence that such a goddess was ever worshiped by anyone, anywhere. The only mention of Eastre comes from a passing reference in the writings of the Venerable Bede, an eighth-century monk and historian. Bede wrote, “Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated as ‘Paschal month,’ and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate the Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance” (De Temporum Ratione). And that’s it. Eostre is not mentioned in any other ancient writing; we have found no shrines, no altars, nothing to document the worship of Eastre. It is possible that Bede simply extrapolated the name of the goddess from the name of the month.

In the nineteenth century, the German folklorist Jakob Grimm researched the origins of the German name for Easter, Ostern, which in Old High German was OstarĂ¢. Both words are related to the German word for “east,” ost. Grimm, while admitting that he could find no solid link between Easter and pagan celebrations, made the assumption that Ostara was probably the name of a German goddess. Like Eastre, the goddess Ostara was based entirely on supposition and conjecture; before Grimm’s Deustche Mythologie (1835), there was no mention of the goddess in any writings.

So, while the word Easter most likely comes from an old word for “east” or the name of a springtime month, we don’t have much evidence that suggests anything more. Assertions that Easter is pagan or that Christians have appropriated a goddess-holiday are untenable. Today, however, it seems that Easter might as well have pagan origins, since it has been almost completely commercialized—the world’s focus is on Easter eggs, Easter candy, and the Easter bunny.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Bad Catholic Apologetics On Isaiah 64:6 And Sola Fide

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to respond to a few claims that Roman Catholic apologists have made regarding Isaiah 64:6. Following are a few excerpts from an article alongside with a critique:

          "This pertains to a particular historical situation, not to a general condition. The passage appeals to a time when Israelites once had a right relationship with God, when God helped them against their enemies because they waited on him, gladly did right, and remembered his ways."

          Several passages in Scripture have a more direct significance and application to the original audience than to readers in later generations. Prophecy has an immediate group of listeners and also a future fulfillment. There are indications which point to Isaiah 64:6 having a universal application.

          "When they sin against him and did not repent and return to their former state, he abandoned them to the will of their enemies, so that even Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed. (Isaiah speaks of this prophetically, before it happened.)"

          The sinful state described in Isaiah 64:6 is applied to the entire human race elsewhere in Scripture. In Psalm 14, David describes the pagan world as corrupt and having turned away from the living God. He is clearly speaking of all people. Paul quotes that Psalm in describing the state of Israel (Romans 3:10-18). Every mouth will be silenced as the whole world is held accountable before God (Romans 3:19-20).

          "It was during that period of continued sin, leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., that they had “become like one who is unclean”–they hadn’t always been like that. In this state, even the nation’s acts of righteousness appeared like filthy rags to God, so he wouldn’t help them: “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” (Is 1:15-17)."

          The onus is on the Roman Catholic apologist to demonstrate why Isaiah 64:6 cannot apply to every person. The text being discussed attests to the depths of human depravity and our utter inability to redeem ourselves.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Interaction With The Problem Of Divine Hiddenness

        God gave the Jews plenty of signs, yet they still did not trust Him (Matthew 12:39; 16:4). Consider, for example, them making a golden calf after being miraculously rescued from Egypt. The problem is not so much evidential as it is our sinful heart.

        God has revealed Himself to us. He has given to us special revelation (Luke 16:29-31). He has revealed Himself to us through creation (Romans 1:20). He has revealed Himself to us through the Person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). He speaks to us daily through the Holy Scriptures.

       He has given us sufficient evidence for His existence. God does not want to overwhelm our free will with too many miracles, which have specific purposes. This serves as a springboard for another point.

        If miracles happened frequently, then they would cease to be miracles. They could no longer be used for the specific purposes that God ordains. Miracles would be ordinary events which no longer capture our attention.

        God has not manifested Himself directly to human beings throughout most of history. So, it should not prove to be shocking or embarrassing to us that He does not right now.

        The question should not so much be why God does not reveal Himself to us in a more obvious way, but when is enough evidence enough? There are people who would not be satisfied even if God spoke audibly to them.

Jim Bakker's Fraudulent Cure For COVID-19

        Jim Bakker is one of those greedy and selfish televangelists who induce their audience on a continual basis with fantastically false statements. He is a criminal to the utmost.

        Mr. Bakker's most recent fraudulent claim for which he is being sued is that colloidal silver cures the Coronavirus. Consider these comments on the effectiveness of this metal as a medical treatment by Brent A. Bauer, M.D:

        "Colloidal silver isn't considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make. Silver has no known purpose in the body. Nor is it an essential mineral, as some sellers of silver products claim.

        Colloidal silver products are made of tiny silver particles suspended in a liquid — the same type of precious metal used in jewelry, dental fillings, silverware and other consumer goods.

         Colloidal silver products are usually marketed as dietary supplements that are taken by mouth. Colloidal silver products also come in forms to be injected or applied to the skin.

          Manufacturers of colloidal silver products often claim that they are cure-alls, boosting your immune system, fighting bacteria and viruses, and treating cancer, HIV/AIDS, shingles, herpes, eye ailments and prostatitis.

          However, no sound scientific studies to evaluate these health claims have been published in reputable medical journals. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has taken action against some manufacturers of colloidal silver products for making unproven health claims.

          It's not clear how much colloidal silver may be harmful, but it can build up in your body's tissues over months or years. Most commonly, this results in argyria (ahr-JIR-e-uh), a blue-gray discoloration of your skin, eyes, internal organs, nails and gums. While argyria doesn't usually pose a serious health problem, it can be a cosmetic concern because it doesn't go away when you stop taking silver products.

          Rarely, excessive doses of colloidal silver can cause possibly irreversible serious health problems, including kidney damage and neurological problems such as seizures."

          One has to wonder how men such as Jim Bakker could sleep at night or whether they even have a conscience. He most probably could not care less what happens to his listeners. His only motive behind providing a fraudulent remedy is to fatten his wallet.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Commentary On 1 Corinthians 3:14-16

3.14 See also note to 2 Cor 5.10 on the judgement seat of Christ. Salvation is by grace through faith. Rewards are determined according to works performed subsequent to salvation. Scripture reveals that some will suffer loss entering heaven by the skin of their teeth and with the smell of smoke on their garments (3.15). While works constitute the basis of the reward, yet the reward is of grace and not merit since all of the believer's works are defective. God, however, judges the intent of the heart (1 Ki 8.17-19). It should be clearly understood that a self-seeking desire for heavenly rewards has no proper place in the Christian's motivation, since he lives no longer for himself, but for Him who died for him (2 Cor 5.15). But the rewards have value only as a demonstration of the grace and righteousness of God. The Christian desires them only as a display of the glory of God.

3.16 Paul uses the Temple as a figure of the believer's body. Just as the Shekinah glory of God inhabited the Holy Place in the tabernacle and the Temple, so the Holy Spirit indwells the believer whose body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the body becomes holy and care must be exercised not to defile it in an manner. Certainly the most compelling reason to live a life of holiness unto the Lord is the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.

Harper Study Bible [Revised Standard Version], p. 1703

Friday, March 13, 2020

Is Sickness Always The Result Of Personal Sin?

[John] 9.2 The disciples evidently shared the common Jewish belief that sickness was invariably a penalty for sin. But the fact that this man was blind from birth indicated that personal sin was not the cause of his affliction, and pointed out to his parents as the ones responsible. Jesus reiterated what the Book of Job had already taught: that sickness is not always the result of sin either by the individual, or as in this case, by his parents. Note that this is the only recorded case in which Jesus healed one blind from birth.

Harper Study Bible [Revised Standard Version], p. 1600

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

How Paul Uses Deuteronomy 30 In Romans 10

        In Romans 10:6-10, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Providing some background on this passage from the Old Testament makes plain the apostle's rationale for using it. In listing off to the Israelites the conditions which God required of them upon inheriting land, Moses stated his message was simple to grasp. His audience, therefore, would be without excuse. God's commandments were in their hearts and in their mouths. The blessings of the covenant were inseparable from, but not based on, the faithfulness of the Jews to God.

        In Romans, the Apostle Paul utilizes terminology from Deuteronomy and expounds in a New Testament context. He points us to Christ, who took on human flesh and rose bodily from the grave. These events have been fulfilled. In the Old Testament, people experienced Christ and His Gospel through faith. They longed for the coming Redeemer. Paul speaks of the righteousness that comes by faith (Romans 10:6). It is with the heart that one believes and is justified (Romans 10:9-10). Man proclaims Christ with his mouth.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Abortion And The Incarnation

        *The New Testament clearly tells us that Jesus Christ received a human nature at the moment of His conception (Luke 1:26-37). Moreover, John the Baptist leaped with joy in the womb of his mother (Luke 1:15, 44).
        *If the pro-choice position is correct, then what was the mass of flesh in Mary's womb? When exactly did it gain the status of personhood? What was the state or condition with respect to Christ's flesh and blood prior to Him taking on these?
         *If this mass of flesh makes up a human person because of its own special qualities and not because of a connection with something else, then that would lead to Nestorianism because the person of Christ would include two distinct persons.
         *If this mass of flesh does not make up a human person in of itself but takes on personhood at a later point in time, then that would lead to to Apollinarianism because Christ's human nature would temporarily be without a human soul. In order to consistently uphold the incarnation, the pro-life stance is a requirement.

Friday, March 6, 2020

A Great Question Regarding The Magisterium Defining Church Dogma

"You [John R. Waiss] say that the role of the Magisterium is to guard what has been entrusted to it. Yet Pope Pius asserted that the Magisterium can "explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and implicitly." In defining as dogma what is only obscure in the revelation received from Christ and the apostles, is not the Magisterium claiming to be able to provide additional and new revelation from God?"

James G. McCarthy, Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical, p. 313

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Do Church Fathers Validate Doctrine?

"Even Rome acknowledges that its Church fathers are not always reliable. Pope Leo XIII wrote that they "have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect." Catholic author W.A. Jurgens, whom you [John R. Waiss] have been quoting, cautions against over reliance on the Church fathers: "...we must stress that an isolated patristic text is in no instance to be regarded as a 'proof' of a particular doctrine. Dogmas are not 'proved' by patristic statements but by the infallible teaching instruments of the Church."

James G. McCarthy, Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical, p. 270

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

A Great Question Regarding Catholic Mariology

"Among the pagan gods there was generally one great god who had dominion over the lesser gods and goddesses. For the Greeks it was Zeus; for the Romans, Jupiter. They also worshiped a host of lesser gods and goddesses who were limited in their abilities and had very human weaknesses and passions. How is Catholic praise of Mary essentially any different from pagan worship of lesser gods and goddesses?"

James G. McCarthy, Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical, p. 317

Diligently Confirming Our Calling And Election

        "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." (2 Peter 1:10)

        The Apostle Peter's words concern the application of various characteristics (2 Peter 1:5-7) amongst people who are in Christ. A productive servant of God will display these qualities. We have been called to mature in faith now that we have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. If we faithfully serve God, then that can only bolster our confidence that we are His children. Our assurance of salvation rests on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

        The two epistles of Peter are written on the assumption that the intended audience has already been justified before God by faith. The object of emphasis is on people who have believed on the gospel and are loved by Him (1 Peter 2:7; 2 Peter 1:1). The highlighted passage of Scripture gives us a picture of what sanctification looks like. Calling and election are gifts according to God's eternal plan (Romans 9:11-16; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Kindness Of God

"Mercy to him who wrote, O Lord, wisdom to those who read, grace to those who hear, salvation to those who own. Amen."

A prayer attached to a copy of the Psalms by a ninth-century scribe

Monday, March 2, 2020

Early Church Evidence For The Figurative Interpretation Of The Bread Of Life Discourse

Commenting on John 6, Tertullian wrote, "The Word had become flesh, we ought therefore to desire him in order that we may have life, and to devour him with the ear, and to ruminate on him with understanding, and to digest him by faith."

James G. McCarthy, Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical, p. 269

A Weakness In The Claim Of Papal Authority

"The predecessor to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997) was the Roman Catechism (1566), also called the Catechism of the Council of Trent. There is no dogma in it related to papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, or the Assumption of Mary, three doctrines based largely on Tradition. How can I know what dogmas will be in the next version based on Tradition, since I can't find the complete list of dogmas in the present version?"

James G. McCarthy, Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical, p. 61

Sunday, March 1, 2020

A Great Question Regarding The Catholic Eucharist

"God says through the prophet Isaiah, "I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images" (Isaiah 42:8). How do you [originally was being asked to John R. Waiss] reconcile this with the Catholic belief that every consecrated wafer has become the glory of God and is to be worshiped as divine?"

James G. McCarthy, Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical, p. 228