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 an early form of 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 to exist in the first century in an embryonic way. 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 and 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 itself is not a bad thing. 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.

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 Roman 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 along 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, 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 does not speak to 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 advance his own theological agenda.

          "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 and 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.

          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.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

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.

https://www.gotquestions.org/easter-origins.html

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 along 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)."

           Why cannot Isaiah 64:6 apply to every person? It 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 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 Jews did not accept Christ even though He performed miracles which were verifiable to their senses. The problem for us is not evidential, but 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.

        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. Practically every person of faith has not had such an encounter with Him while on this earth. What makes us so special that things should be different? We should not be shocked or embarrassed that God does not speak audibly to us 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 He spoke audibly to them or brought someone back from the dead.

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 indicates 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 and of itself but takes on personhood at a later point in time, then that would lead 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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

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