Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Issue Of Israel And Control Of Gaza Strip

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to rebut a number of assertions made about the nature of Gaza and Jewish occupation of that territory. It seems most reasonable to this author that Israel be in charge of the land in dispute. We begin this critique by presenting the following citation:

          "Gaza wasn't always the Gaza that we have today. Gaza was actually, pre-1948, quite a large territory within Mandatory Palestine."

          Gaza would have been included as a part of Israel in biblical times (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18; 2 Kings 18:8). It was under control by the Philistines, who were invaders from Greece, before that nation obtained the land. Both groups fought for control of that city. Gaza was even conquered by the Assyrians and Egyptians for a time.

          "So it was something like 38 times the size that it is today. And at that time, Gaza was very, very wealthy in terms of being a coastal enclave, in terms of trade, in terms of the fertility of the land."

          Even if that is true, it does not speak directly to the issue of who should control what.

          "And then after 1948, you had the occupation of many of its towns and villages. And so it got confined to a very small strip that we know today. And at that time, it had been occupied by Egypt during the Arab-Israeli War, and then after 1967, came under Israeli military rule when Israel occupied both Gaza and the West Bank."

          The Jews for thousands of years were the dominant populace of Gaza. Even in the fourth century, for instance, it was used primarily by them for commerce. The Jews were in this region prior to 1948.

          "And then in 1993, we see the Oslo Accords, where both Gaza and the West Bank was to be part of what was then considered the start of a Palestinian state in the making. Unfortunately, at that time, you still had these territories under Israeli military occupation."

          Israel is by far the safest and freest country existing in that part of the world. Radical jihadists have no rightful claim to the land. They have not historically owned it.

          "Israel withdrew its forces in 2005 unilaterally. So we no longer had settler settlements and soldiers on the ground, but it still retained control of Gaza's borders."

          Israel has historically not been allowed to be in control of its own borders. No other group has ever experienced as many attempts by outside forces at their total eradication from the planet as the Jews. What could plausibly account for their continued existence despite heinous persecution other than divine providence?

          "And in 2006, we saw the election of the now de facto government of Hamas. And at that time, when Hamas had won the elections, they want to offer protest vote, essentially. And since then, Gaza has been subjected to an Israeli blockade through land, sea and air."

          The Jews do not want the remnants of a world hermetically sealed from the influence of civilization to radicalize and harm their fellow citizens. We are talking about a populace of which most are mentally trapped in the seventh century.

          "Through constant polling, you're seeing many Gazans consistently dissatisfied with Hamas' rule in Gaza. But, you know, part of that also has to do with the fact that Israel has, like I said, imposed a blockade, which means that Israel has calibrated the amount of goods that go in and out of Gaza."

          If such dissatisfaction exists, then why do these leaders continue to get elected with such overwhelming majorities of votes? Which Islamic dominated countries take kindly to Christians and Jews? Why are they all alike (i.e. the point being made is not that all Muslims are terrorists but Middle Eastern countries routinely violate basic human freedoms)?

          "There is a lot that you can maybe blame Hamas for, but a substantial part of people's misery is not Hamas."

          That is simply an ignorant and irresponsible thing to say. We are talking about men who rape, torture, and slaughter women and children. We are talking about men who force women to cover even their own faces. It is ultimately up to the people of Gaza to resolve their own problems, if they really want changes to take place in their lives. The ball is in their court.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Does The Roman Catholic Church Have A Deficient View Of The Gospel?

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a number of claims made by De Maria as to the nature of justification and the role of works in the Christian life. Following are excerpts from the author along with a critique of those assertions: 

          "Will they be saved who do not do good works?"

          This question requires more than a simple yes or no answer. It is also a loaded question because it operates on the disputed assumption that faith and works are necessary for one's justification before God.

          "I don't know. Since the Catholic Church Teaches that we have assurance of salvation, we live a life of joy and peace when we give ourselves to Christ."

          How can a Roman Catholic say that he has assurance of salvation at all when for him the forgiveness of sin is not settled immediately by the single act of Christ at Calvary? It must be confessed to a priest and acts of penance are prescribed to make restitution. This must be done over and over again in a lifetime.

          "What the Catholic Church does not teach is the ABSOLUTE assurance of salvation."

          So, Catholics can have absolute assurance that they do not have absolute assurance of salvation.
 
          "We don't claim, as the Pharisee did, that we know that we are saved (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)."

          But Roman Catholics do, like the Pharisees of old, rely in part on their good works to get right with God.

          1 Corinthians 4:3-4 does not speak to the issue of assurance of salvation, but to the greatness of one's service to God. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is God's approval. If the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to our account, then we are already fully accepted before God as righteous. That would be a judgement He makes in regard to us, not us in regard to our own standing before Him.

          "First of all, if you judge yourself saved, you judge yourself righteous. Luke 18: The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else..."

          I do not assign any status to myself but accept in humility what God has given me. You turn the message of Luke 18:9-14 right on its own head. It condemns people who trust in their works to have a righteous standing before God. That would include things like going to church, baptism, confessing sins to a priest, partaking in communion, praying to saints, not committing evil actions, and a host of other things people do.

          "2. But if you say, "I am saved because of the righteousness of Christ which He has credited to me." Scripture doesn't say any such thing. If you are not truly righteous, God will condemn you. God does not acquit the wicked (Proverbs 17:15; Galatians 6:7)."

          Romans 3:21-22 speaks of the righteousness of God being received on the basis of faith. Faith is not said to be His righteousness but is what brings us to it. Romans 4:6-11 speaks of righteousness being credited to us, but not faith as being that righteousness. God gives us a righteous standing in Christ through faith. We no longer live wickedly by the power of His grace.

          "That's another error passed on by Luther. God forgives sins."

          It is not an error to say that God is perfect and condemns sinners. Paul himself said, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

          "Jesus Christ died for the sins of all men. But, only those who amend their lives and live in accordance to His instructions, will be saved (Hebrews 5:9)."

          God initiates this transformative process of sanctification and brings it to completion.

          "But God will not pour out His grace on those who do not obey His will."

          The heart of the problem with Roman Catholicism is that it offers people an inadequate gospel message. It is always the work of Christ plus something else. It is the work of Christ plus my own works, the merits of Mary and the saints, etc. Christ alone is not sufficient.

          "Again, that [John 6:29] doesn't mean what you think it means. That doesn't say, "If you claim to believe in Jesus Christ, you will be saved. Scripture is clear that those who do not do the righteous works of God, will be condemned to eternal punishment."

          That is a straw man argument. John R. Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible has this excerpt on John 6:29:

          "For the plural ’works,’ i.e. a multitude of supposed meritorious acts, Jesus substitutes one single work, faith in Himself. Faith in Jesus is called a ’work,’ because it is a definite act of the will. It is the one work required, because it is the solemn dedication of the whole life to God, and virtually includes in itself all other works, and renders them acceptable."

          That is the kind of faith which is acceptable to God. No one even suggested that a person can be saved by an empty profession of faith.

          Roman Catholic apologists cite passages such as Romans 2:6-13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:10, and Galatians 6:7 as evidence against the doctrine of justification by faith alone because they bring up the doing of good works or God punishing people for failure to do so. However, these kinds of objections miss the point. The dispute is not about whether good works should be done, but the relationship faith and works have with each other. Further, those texts merely contrast the different lifestyles of believers and nonbelievers. It describes the separate eternal fates that both will experience. They do not say that good works can merit justification before God.

          "And where do you get this Blood? We get it in the Holy Eucharist when we attend the Mass. You reject this Sacrament."

          Christians get the blood of Christ applied to them daily by faith in their Messiah. Theophagy is actually a pagan concept.

          "On the contrary, those who claim salvation by faith alone give themselves credit for salvation. Essentially, judging themselves saved in the exclusion of God's judgment."

          If justification is a gift of God to be received on the basis of faith to the exclusion of good works, then the recipient has nothing to boast about. It is for Him to give and us to receive. If justification is to be earned even in part by good works, then God would be a debtor to man. This only goes to illustrate that Roman Catholicism preaches a man-centered gospel.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

An Exegetical Analysis Of Psalm 19

          "The heavens tell of the glory of God; And their expanse declares the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1)

          In this text, we see that King David, the Psalmist, has deeply pondered the works of God. As a result of this contemplation, his soul is moved deeply. David is in awe at creation, whether it be the skies, sea, or the land. God has disclosed Himself through the created order of things. Paul said as much in Romans 1:20.

          "Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." (Psalm 19:2)

          Creation is personified as it continually makes known to us the presence of God. It bears the majestic imprints of His authorship. Creation flows with the beauty of His craftsmanship. Nature itself bears witness to the fact that it has an intelligent designer. Nature reveals to us that it has a rational first cause. 

          "There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard." (Psalm 19:3)

          The glory of God is universal. It exists everywhere and involves every one of us. The glory of God fills the earth absolutely. The witness of creation transcends even barriers of human language. It speaks volumes to us without using words. 

          "Their line has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." (Psalm 19:4)

          David says that the witness of the heavens to the glory of God extents to every part of this earth. It is therefore incumbent on all men to worship the living God. 

          The Apostle Paul gives this verse a broader application in Romans 10:18 in which the gospel is to be received by all men. Nature indicates to us that God exists. The gospel provides a description of what God is like.

          "Which is like a groom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices like a strong person to run his course." (Psalm 19:5)

         The sun is likened to a bridegroom raising from his resting place, one who displays strength and confidence.

          "Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat." (Psalm 19:6)

          The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. It is used by David as an illustration of God's creative power. He has in mind the scorching heat of the ecosystem in which he lives.

          "The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7)

          King David changes his focus from natural revelation to special revelation. The word "perfect" here has the meaning of blamelessness or freedom from fault. David sees the Law as having a restorative effect on our souls and imparting wisdom to those who lack it.

          "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." (Psalm 19:8)

          David takes joy in obeying the laws of God. It is within the framework of His divine revelation that we are to base our doctrine and morals.

          "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether." (Psalm 19:9)

          The Law was meant to instill in the Jewish people a proper sense of respect and devotion to God. Note the various words used to describe the Law in this context: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. Just as God is holy, so are His commandments.

          "They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much pure gold; Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb." (Psalm 19:10)

          David's words are precisely what one would expect of any ardent Jew. He praised the value of God's Word as being without measure. It is better than what the best of life has to offer.

          In regards to the meaning of the phrase "sweeter than honey," C.S. Lewis notes:

          "...The temptation was to tum to those terrible rites in times of terror-when, for example, the Assyrians were pressing on. We who not so long ago waited daily for invasion by enemies, like the Assyrians, skilled and constant in systematic cruelty, know how they may have felt. They were tempted, since the Lord seemed deaf, to try those appalling deities who demanded so much more and might therefore perhaps give more in return. But when a Jew in some happier hour, or a better Jew even in that hour, looked at those worships-when he thought of sacred prostitution, sacred sodomy, and the babies thrown into the fire for Moloch-his own "Law" as he turned back to it must have shone with an extraordinary radiance. Sweeter than honey; or if that metaphor does not suit us who have not such a sweet tooth as all ancient peoples (partly because we have plenty of sugar), let us say like mountain water, like fresh air after a dungeon, like sanity after a nightmare. But, once again, the best image is in a Psalm, the 19th." (Reflections on the Psalms, p. 62-63)

          "Moreover, your servant is warned by them; In keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19:11)

          The Law instructs people in the way that they should be. It serves as a corrective standard to wrong behavior. Adherence to the Word of God results in the gaining of the knowledge of divinely revealed spiritual truths.

          "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults." (Psalm 19:12)

          The kind of righteousness that we should be striving for is not an outward appearance that impresses other people. It is an inward kind that stems from the heart as a result of having been changed by grace.

          "Also keep Your servant back from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be innocent, and I will be blameless of great wrongdoing." (Psalm 19:13)

          David confessed his sins to God. He did not self-righteously try to hide them. He did not want any kind of sin to be in his life, either privately or publicly. He despised the ways of an evildoer.

          "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

          Our prayer to God should be that He keeps us from sinning. We ought to be pleasing to Him. God is our strength against temptation. He is our strength against earthly enemies. Compare the reference to a redeemer in this verse to Job 19:25.

Divine Justice And The Christian Worldview

"It [the Jewish point of view] supplements the Christian picture in one important way. For what alarms us in the Christian picture is the infinite purity of the standard against which our actions will be judged. But then we know that none of us will ever come up that standard. We are all in the same boat. We must all pin our hopes on the mercy of God and the work of Christ, not on our own goodness. Now the Jewish picture of civil action sharply reminds us that perhaps we are faulty not only by the Divine standard but also by a very human standard which all reasonable people admit and which we ourselves usually wish to enforce upon others. Almost certainly there are unsatisfied claims, human claims, against each one of us. For who can really believe that in all his dealings with employers and employees, with husband or wife, with parents and children, in quarrels and in collaborations, he has always attained (let alone charity or generosity) mere honesty and fairness? Of course we forget most of the injuries we have done. But the injured parties do not forget even if they forgive. And God does not forget. And even what we can remember is formidable enough."

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 13

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Thankfulness To God When Destitute

The rainy season of the autumnal equinox was now come, and I kept the 30th of September in the same solemn manner as before, being the anniversary of my landing on the island, having now been there two years, and no more prospect of being delivered than the first day I came there, I spent the whole day in humble and thankful acknowledgments of the many wonderful mercies which my solitary condition was attended with, and without which it might have been infinitely more miserable. I gave humble and hearty thanks that God had been pleased to discover to me that it was possible I might be more happy in this solitary condition than I should have been in the liberty of society, and in all the pleasures of the world; that He could fully make up to me the deficiencies of my solitary state, and the want of human society, by His presence and the communications of His grace to my soul; supporting, comforting, and encouraging me to depend upon His providence here, and hope for His eternal presence hereafter. It was now that I began sensibly to feel how much more happy this life I now led was, with all its miserable circumstances, than the wicked, cursed, abominable life I led all the past part of my days; and now I changed both my sorrows and my joys; my very desires altered, my affections changed their gusts, and my delights were perfectly new from what they were at my first coming, or, indeed, for the two years past.

Before, as I walked about, either on my hunting or for viewing the country, the anguish of my soul at my condition would break out upon me on a sudden, and my very heart would die within me, to think of the woods, the mountains, the deserts I was in, and how I was a prisoner, locked up with the eternal bars and bolts of the ocean, in an uninhabited wilderness, without redemption. In the midst of the greatest composure of my mind, this would break out upon me like a storm, and make me wring my hands and weep like a child. Sometimes it would take me in the middle of my work, and I would immediately sit down and sigh, and look upon the ground for an hour or two together; and this was still worse to me, for if I could burst out into tears, or vent myself by words, it would go off, and the grief, having exhausted itself, would abate.

But now I began to exercise myself with new thoughts: I daily read the word of God, and applied all the comforts of it to my present state. One morning, being very sad, I opened the Bible upon these words, ‘I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ Immediately it occurred that these words were to me; why else should they be directed in such a manner, just at the moment when I was mourning over my condition, as one forsaken of God and man? ‘Well, then,’ said I, ‘if God does not forsake me, of what ill consequence can it be, or what matters it, though the world should all forsake me, seeing on the other hand, if I had all the world, and should lose the favour and blessing of God, there would be no comparison in the loss?’

From this moment I began to conclude in my mind that it was possible for me to be more happy in this forsaken, solitary condition than it was probable I should ever have been in any other particular state in the world; and with this thought I was going to give thanks to God for bringing me to this place. I know not what it was, but something shocked my mind at that thought, and I durst not speak the words. ‘How canst thou become such a hypocrite,’ said I, even audibly, ‘to pretend to be thankful for a condition which, however thou mayest endeavour to be contented with, thou wouldst rather pray heartily to be delivered from?’ So I stopped there; but though I could not say I thanked God for being there, yet I sincerely gave thanks to God for opening my eyes, by whatever afflicting providences, to see the former condition of my life, and to mourn for my wickedness, and repent. I never opened the Bible, or shut it, but my very soul within me blessed God for directing my friend in England, without any order of mine, to pack it up among my goods, and for assisting me afterwards to save it out of the wreck of the ship.

Thus, and in this disposition of mind, I began my third year; and though I have not given the reader the trouble of so particular an account of my works this year as the first, yet in general it may be observed that I was very seldom idle, but having regularly divided my time according to the several daily employments that were before me, such as: first, my duty to God, and the reading the Scriptures, which I constantly set apart some time for thrice every day; secondly, the going abroad with my gun for food, which generally took me up three hours in every morning, when it did not rain; thirdly, the ordering, cutting, preserving, and cooking what I had killed or caught for my supply; these took up great part of the day. Also, it is to be considered, that in the middle of the day, when the sun was in the zenith, the violence of the heat was too great to stir out; so that about four hours in the evening was all the time I could be supposed to work in, with this exception, that sometimes I changed my hours of hunting and working, and went to work in the morning, and abroad with my gun in the afternoon.

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, p. 111-113

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Divine Providence In Hard Circumstances

And this put me in mind that I wanted many things notwithstanding all that I had amassed together; and of these, ink was one; as also a spade, pickaxe, and shovel, to dig or remove the earth; needles, pins, and thread; as for linen, I soon learned to want that without much difficulty.

This want of tools made every work I did go on heavily; and it was near a whole year before I had entirely finished my little pale, or surrounded my habitation. The piles, or stakes, which were as heavy as I could well lift, were a long time in cutting and preparing in the woods, and more, by far, in bringing home; so that I spent sometimes two days in cutting and bringing home one of those posts, and a third day in driving it into the ground; for which purpose I got a heavy piece of wood at first, but at last bethought myself of one of the iron crows; which, however, though I found it, made driving those posts or piles very laborious and tedious work. But what need I have been concerned at the tediousness of anything I had to do, seeing I had time enough to do it in? nor had I any other employment, if that had been over, at least that I could foresee, except the ranging the island to seek for food, which I did, more or less, every day.

I now began to consider seriously my condition, and the circumstances I was reduced to; and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing, not so much to leave them to any that were to come after me - for I was likely to have but few heirs - as to deliver my thoughts from daily poring over them, and afflicting my mind; and as my reason began now to master my despondency, I began to comfort myself as well as I could, and to set the good against the evil, that I might have something to distinguish my case from worse; and I stated very impartially, like debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed against the miseries I suffered, thus:-

Evil: I am cast upon a horrible, desolate island, void of all hope of recovery.

Good: But I am alive; and not drowned, as all my ship's company were.

Evil: I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable.

Good: But I am singled out, too, from all the ship's crew, to be spared from death; and He that miraculously saved me from death can deliver me from this condition.

Evil: I am divided from mankind - a solitaire; one banished from human society.

Good: But I am not starved, and perishing on a barren place, affording no sustenance.

Evil: I have no clothes to cover me.

Good: But I am in a hot climate, where, if I had clothes, I could hardly wear them.

Evil: I am without any defence, or means to resist any violence of man or beast.

Good: But I am cast on an island where I see no wild beasts to hurt me, as I saw on the coast of Africa; and what if I had been shipwrecked there?

Evil: I have no soul to speak to or relieve me.

Good: But God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore, that I have got out as many necessary things as will either supply my wants or enable me to supply myself, even as long as I live.

Upon the whole, here was an undoubted testimony that there was scarce any condition in the world so miserable but there was something negative or something positive to be thankful for in it; and let this stand as a direction from the experience of the most miserable of all conditions in this world: that we may always find in it something to comfort ourselves from, and to set, in the description of good and evil, on the credit side of the account.

Having now brought my mind a little to relish my condition, and given over looking out to sea, to see if I could spy a ship - I say, giving over these things, I begun to apply myself to arrange my way of living, and to make things as easy to me as I could.

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, p. 64-67

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Who Are The Seven Angels Of The Seven Churches?

          "As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." (Revelation 1:20)

          The Book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature, which means that it contains many highly symbolic elements. This is distinct from historical narrative in that most of the details are to be taken literally. The author expresses himself in a way similar to Old Testament writers such as Daniel and Ezekiel. John wrote to the people of Asia Minor in regard to how God was at work in their day and also how He will work to bring things to a glorious end. Chapters two and three of Revelation contain words of Jesus commending the good deeds of the seven churches as well as Him reproving their error, calling them to repentance.

          The passage is unclear as to who precisely the seven “angels” of the seven churches are. Some believe them to be angels appointed by God to act on behalf of the churches. This view would be comparable to what we see in Daniel in which angels represent nations (Daniel 10:13-21). Another point of view in regard to the seven angels is that they are messengers who delivered John's scroll to the churches to be read. That pattern of behavior is not without precedent in Jewish history (1 Maccabees 1:44). A third interpretation as to the identity of the seven angels is that they are bishops, but it would not be wise to put much weight on a debatable text like this one in the context of episcopal development.

          The first view outlined in the previous paragraph seems to more reasonably fit the context of Revelation 1:20 than others. In Revelation, the term "angel" is always a reference to heavenly beings rather than human messengers. That term has the same meaning elsewhere in apocalyptic literature. Angels were portrayed as stars (Isaiah 24:21; 2 Baruch 51:7-11). This may mean that God has given the responsibility of churches to angels, although we cannot speak dogmatically. We know that there is a time in which believers will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). The church has been commissioned by God to provide witness for Jesus.

          Even if the seven angels in Revelation 1:20 were a reference to bishops, the New Testament does not demand a specific structure of leadership in the church. In other words, while churches are seen to be governed by pluralities of elders (Acts 14:23), this idea is not applied in a strict or exhaustive manner. Consequently, there are acceptable differences in how church government can be arranged. A church could temporarily assign a role of first among equals to one elder for the sake of convenience in resolving matters. That in and of itself is not a problem.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Has The Church Always Had An Ordained Ministerial Priesthood?

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to interact with a number of assertions made by Nicholas Senz about the origin of the Roman Catholic priesthood. His approach is not one that deals with exegetical questions but works backward in history to the first century. Following are quotations from the author followed by a critique of such claims:

          "The Didache invites us to “break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one.”

          Nothing in this excerpt from the Didache requires us to understand the eucharist as being a sacrifice in a propitiatory sense. In fact, it can be understood in the sense of offering sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. That theme is not unknown to the New Testament (Hebrews 13:15). The Didache speaks of us consuming Jesus Christ spiritually, not in the cannibalistic manner required in order for it to show belief in transubstantiation.

          "St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote of the Eucharist, “For there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice.”

          Ignatius uses that terminology because he echoes the words of Christ spoken during the Last Supper as well as the Old Testament sacrificial system. It is not because he believed in transubstantiation. It is not enough to demonstrate that a particular church father believed in some mystical presence of Christ in the eucharist or that He is identified with the communion elements in a transcendent way. The real presence is not synonymous with transubstantiation.

          "St. Justin Martyr wrote that Christians “in every place offer sacrifices to [God], that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist.”

          Note how there is no literal transformation process specified in Justin Martyr. Christ is merely identified with bread and wine in a mysterious way. One does not have to physically consume the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ in order to describe the communion elements as being more than common bread and common wine.

           Offerings included the giving of alms, bread, and wine. These were spiritual sacrifices rooted in the realities to which the communion elements themselves pointed. The alms were given to support the poor. Participation in the communion meal with a rightful state of heart reflects our inward gratitude for Christ's propitiatory work on the cross. Eusebius of Caesarea spoke of sacrifices of remembrance. 

          "Likewise, the Fathers were clear that it is only priests and bishops who offer the Mass."

          The Encyclopedia Britannica has these excerpts on the origin of the Roman Catholic priesthood:

          “A priesthood developed gradually in the early Christian church as first bishops and then elders, or ‘presbyters,’ began to exercise certain priestly functions, mainly in connection with the celebration of the Eucharist. By the end of the 2nd century, the church’s bishops were called priests (Latin: sacerdos)… The development of eucharistic theology resulted in a further emphasis of the priest’s supernatural powers and qualities…” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/priest-Christianity)

          “Although the term ‘priest’ (Greek hiereus) refers to the entire Christian people, it is given to no church office in the New Testament. First appearing in the 2nd century, the office is associated with the establishment of the eucharistic sacrifice, over which the priest was called to preside. No doubt the development of the monarchical episcopate also contributed to the emergence of the priesthood…” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Roman-Catholicism/Structure-of-the-church)

          Cambridge Theologian William Perkins contended that offerings were made by all the faithful, not exclusively priests or bishops: 

          "...the fathers’ sacrifice was offered by the whole church, being the oblation of all the faithful. “We all,” says Justin, in dialogo cum Triphone, “how many soever we be that are called after the name of Jesus Christ, are made truly the priests of God, as He Himself testifies, saying that everywhere He would have pure and acceptable sacrifices offered Him.” And this is also proveable out of Augustine, Contra Faustum, lib. 20, cap. 18."

          There are certainly statements in regard to the communion elements being connected to or associated with the body and blood of Jesus Christ. However, there is no straightforward, clear-cut explanation of how the symbols of bread and wine and the realities that they represent correlate. There were different degrees of realism present throughout the church father's writings. While it would be incorrect to say that all of the church fathers held to the elements of the Lord's Supper as being "mere" symbols, it took several hundred years for Roman Catholic eucharistic theology to reach a full stage of development. Paschasius Radberts (785-865) explicitly articulated the doctrine of transubstantiation (without using that specific word) in his book titled On the Body and Blood of the Lord.

          "But if the Mass is a sacrifice, then those offering it clearly are priests. And if the Church from its earliest days has understood the Mass to be sacrificial, then likewise it has understood presbyters and bishops to be exercising priesthood."

          Is it not lovely how these people do not have to prove their doctrine from Scripture because if it comes from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, it cannot be argued? It can be said that this author is just whistling past the graveyard because he does not try to offer even a shred of evidence from the New Testament that there was an ordained ministerial priesthood. Further, church "fathers" were capable of superstition and re-imagining what Scripture actually said. At most, patristic statements amount to evidence that men believed certain ideas to be apostolic teaching, not that they actually are.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Illustration And Confirmation Of Biblical History From The Assyrian Monuments

 As the narrative proceeds on the supposition of close relations between Israel and Syria — not otherwise mentioned in the Bible — and involves, at least indirectly, certain points of general interest, this seems a fitting opportunity for a brief summary of what recent discoveries of ancient monuments has taught us, not only confirmatory, but illustrative and explanatory of this period of Biblical history. But in so doing we must keep some considerations in view by way of caution. For first, our knowledge of what may be called monumental history is as yet initial and fragmentary. Secondly, in any seeming discrepancy or slight divergence in details between the inscriptions on the monuments and the records of Jewish history, it seems neither reasonable nor safe to give absolute preference to the former. Jewish writers must have known their own history best, while, in their slight differences from the records on the monuments, we fail to discover any adequate motives on the part of the Jewish historians that could account for their falsifying facts. And, we need scarcely add, the same facts will assume different aspects when viewed from opposite sides. Again, it is admitted on all hands that there are manifest errors on the Assyrian monuments, and this on points where error is difficult, to account for. Thus, to mention one instance — on the Assyrian monuments, Jehu is designated as “the son of Omri,” and that by the very monarch to whom he is both represented and described as bringing tribute. Further, we have to bear in mind that our knowledge of Jewish history is also fragmentary. The Old Testament does not profess to be a handbook of Jewish history. It furnishes prophetic or sacred history, which does not recount all events as they happened, nor yet always in their exact succession of time, but presents them in their bearing on the kingdom of God, of which it tells the history. Hence it records or emphasizes only that which is of importance in connection with it. Lastly, we must remember that the chronology of the Bible is in some parts involved in considerable diffculties, partly for the reasons just stated, partly from the different modes of calculating time, and partly also from errors of transcription which would easily creep into the copying of Hebrew numerals, which are marked by letters. Keeping in view these cautions, the neglect of which has led to many false inferences, we have no hesitation in saying, that hitherto all modern historical discoveries have only tended to confirm the Scripture narrative. 

Turning to these extraneous sources for information on the earlier history of Judah and Israel under the Kings, we have here, first, the Egyptian monuments, especially those on the walls of the Temple of Karnak, which record the invasion of Judah and Jerusalem by Shishak, described in 1 Kings 14:25, 26, and 2 Chronicles 12. Pictorial representations of this campaign are accompanied by mention of the very names of the conquered Jewish cities. But with the death of Shishak, the power of Egypt for a time decayed. In its stead that of Assyria reasserted itself. From that time onwards its monuments more or less continuously cast light on the history of Israel. Just as in the Biblical narrative, so in the Assyrian records of that time, Syria occupies a most important place. It will be remembered that that country had recovered its independence in the reign of Solomon, having been wrested by Rezon from the sovereignty of Judah (1 Kings 11:23-25). Thus far we perceive a general parallelism in the outlines of this history. But the Assyrian record leaves a strange impression on the mind, as we recall the importance of Omri, as having been the second if not the real founder of the Israelitish kingdom, the builder of its capital, and the monarch who gave its permanent direction alike to the political and the religious history of Israel. For the common designation for the land of Israel is “the land of Omri,” “the land Omri,” or “the land of the house of Omri.” We regard it as a further indication of the political importance attached to that king when Jehu is designated as “the son of Omri.” This could not have been from ignorance of the actual history, since the name of Ahab occurs on the monuments of Assyria, although (if correctly read) in a connection which does not quite agree with our ordinary chronology. Further illustration comes to us from the Assyrian monuments, both of certain phases in the Biblical history of Ahab, and of the explanatory words with which the account of Naaman’s healing is introduced: 

“Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him Jehovah had given deliverance unto Syria” (2 Kings 5:1). 

Each of these statements requires some further explanation. As regards the history of Ahab, we note incidentally that the name Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31) as that of a Sidonian king, occurs also on the Assyrian monuments, just as does Sarepta (1 Kings 17:9, 10), as being a Phoenician town, situate between Tyre and Sidon. But of greatest interest is it to learn from these monuments the political motives which prompted the strange and sudden alliance proposed by Ahab to Ben-hadad (a name amply confirmed by the monuments), after the battle of Aphek (1 Kings 20:26-34). In passing we may notice that in a fragmentary inscription of Asarhaddon, this Aphek, situated east of the lake of Galilee, and a little aside from the great road between Damascus and Samaria, is named as the border-city of Samaria. Similarly, the mention of thirty-two kings allied with Benhadad in his campaign against Israel (1 Kings 20:1), is so far borne out by the Assyrian monuments, that in the campaigns of Assyria against Syria Benhadad is always described as fighting in conjunction with a number of allied Syrian princes. From these inscriptions we also learn that the growing power of Assyria threatened to overwhelm — as it afterwards did — both Syria and the smaller principalities connected with it. A politician like Ahab must have felt the danger threatening his kingdom of Samaria from the advancing power of Assyria. If Ben-hadad had endeavored to strengthen himself by the subjugation of Samaria, Ahab, in the hour of his triumph, desired, by an alliance with the now humbled Benhadad, to place Syria as a kind of bulwark between himself and the king of Assyria. This explains the motive of Ahab, who had no real trust in the might and deliverance of Jehovah, but looked to political combinations for safety, in allowing to go out of his hand the man whom Jehovah “appointed to utter destruction” (1 Kings 20:42). 

Another circumstance connected with the treaty of Aphek, not recorded in the Bible, and only known from the Assyrian monuments, casts light on this prophetic announcement of judgment to Ahab: “Therefore thy life shall be for his life, and thy people for his people.” From the monuments we learn, in illustration of the alliance between Ben-hadad and Ahab, and of the punishment threatened upon it, that in the battle of Karkar, or Aroer, in which the Assyrian monarch Shalmaneser II. so completely defeated Syria, the forces of Ahab, to the number of not fewer than 2000 chariots and 10,000 men, had fought on the side of Ben-hadad. As we read of 14,000 or, in another inscription, of 20,500 of the allies as having been slain in this battle, we perceive the fulfillment of the Divine threatening upon that alliance (1 Kings 20:42). At the same time we may also learn that many things mentioned in Scripture which, with our present means of knowledge, seem strange and inexplicable, may become plain, and be fully confirmed, by further information derived from independent sources. 

The battle of Karkar was not the only engagement in which the forces of Syria met, and were defeated by, those of Assyria. It was fought in the sixth year of the reign of Shalmaneser. Another successful campaign is chronicled as having been undertaken in the eleventh year of the same reign, when Shalmaneser records that for the ninth time he crossed the Euphrates; and yet another, in the fourteenth year of his reign, when at the head of 120,000 men he crossed the river at its high food. Two inferences may, for our present purpose, be made from these notices. The defeat of Ahab’s forces, when fghting in conjunction with Ben-hadad, will account for the cessation of the alliance entered into after the battle of Aphek. Again, the repeated defeat of Ben-hadad by Assyria will explain how Ahab took heart of grace, and in company with Jehoshaphat undertook that fatal expedition against Ramoth-Gilead (1 Kings 22), in which literally the “life” of Ahab went for that of him whom, from short-sighted political motives, he had spared (1 Kings 20:42). Lastly, these repeated wars between Assyria and Syria, of which the Assyrian monarch would naturally only record the successful engagements, help us to understand the phrase by which Naaman, captain of the host of Syria, is introduced as he “by whom the LORD had given deliverance [perhaps “victory”] unto Syria” (2 Kings 5:1). 

The expression just quoted seems to forbid the application of the words to the victory of Ben-hadad over Ahab, although the Rabbis imagine that the fatal arrow by which Ahab was smitten came from the bow of Naaman. Accordingly we cannot (as most commentators do) mark this antithesis: that the conqueror of Israel had to come to Israel for healing. But the fact is in itself sufficiently remarkable, especially when we think of it in connection with his disease, which would have placed even an Israelite, so to speak, outside the pale of Israel. In striking contrast to the mention of the strength and bravery of Naaman, and of his exalted position, Scripture abruptly, without pause or copula of conjunction, records the fact: “a leper.” We need not pause to consider the moral of this contrast, with all of teaching which it should convey to us. Quite another lesson comes to us from an opposite direction. For we also learn from this history how, when our need is greatest, help may be nearest, and that, in proportion as we feel the hopelessness of our case, God may prepare a way for our deliverance. It was certainly so in this instance. Once more we mark the wonder-working Providence of God, Who, without any abrupt or even visibly direct interference, brings about results which, if viewed by themselves, must seem absolutely miraculous. And this, by means which at the time may have appeared most unpromising.

Alfred Edersheim, Bible History Old Testament, Vol. VI, Chap. XI

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Did Jephthah Offer His Daughter As A Sacrifice To God?

 We are now approaching what to many will appear the most difficult part in the history of Jephthah — perhaps among the most difficult narratives in the Bible. It appears that, before actually going to war, Jephthah solemnly registered this vow: “If thou indeed givest the children of Ammon into mine hand — and it shall be, the outcoming (one), that shall come out from the door of my house to meet me on my returning in peace from the children of Ammon, shall be to Jehovah, and I will offer that a burnt offering.” We know that the vow was paid. The defeat of the Ammonites was thorough and crushing. But on Jephthah’s return to his house the first to welcome him was his only daughter — his only child — who at the head of the maidens came to greet the victor. There is a terrible irony about those “timbrels and dances,” with which Jephthah’s daughter went, as it were, to celebrate her own funeral obsequies, while the fond father’s heart was well-nigh breaking. But the noble maiden was the first to urge his observance of the vow unto Jehovah. Only two months did she ask to bewail her maidenhood with her companions upon the mountains. But ever after was it a custom for the maidens in Israel to go out every year for four days, “to praise of the daughter of Jephthah.” 

Such is the story; but what is its meaning? What did Jephthah really intend by the language of his vow; and did he feel himself bound by it in the literal sense to offer up his daughter as a burnt sacrifice? Assuredly, we shall make no attempt either to explain away the facts of the case, or to disguise the importance of the questions at issue. At the outset we are here met by these two facts: that up to that period Jephthah had both acted and spoken as a true worshiper of Jehovah, and that his name stands emblazoned in that roll of the heroes of the faith which is handed down to us in the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32). But it is well-nigh impossible to believe that a true worshiper of Jehovah could have either vowed or actually offered a human sacrificed — not to speak of the sacrifice being that of his own and only child. Such sacrifices were the most abhorrent and opposed to the whole spirit and letter of the Law of God (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10), nor do we find any mention of them till the reigns of the wicked Ahaz and Manasseh. Not even Jezebel had ventured to introduce them; and we know what thrill of horror ran through the onlookers, when the heathen king of Moab offered his son an expiatory sacrifice on the walls of his capital (2 Kings 3:26, etc.). But the difficulty becomes well-nigh insuperable, when we find the name of Jephthah recorded in the New Testament among the heroes of the faith. Surely, no one guilty of such a crime could have found a place there! Still, these are considerations which, though most important, are outside the narrative itself, and in any truthful investigation the latter should, in the first place, be studied by itself. 

In so doing we must dismiss, as irrelevant and untruthful, such pleas as the roughness of those times, the imperfectness of religious development, or that of religious ignorance on the part of the outlaw Jephthah, who had spent most of his life far from Israel. The Scripture sketch of Jephthah leaves, indeed, on the mind the impression of a genuine, wild, and daring Gilead mountaineer — a sort of warrior-Elijah. But, on the other hand, he acts and speaks throughout as a true worshiper of Jehovah. And his vow, which in the Old Testament always expresses the highest religious feeling (Genesis 28:20; 1 Samuel 1:11; Psalm 116:14; Isaiah 19:21), is so sacred because it is made to Jehovah. Again, in his embassy to the king of Ammon, Jephthah displays the most intimate acquaintance with the Pentateuch, his language being repeatedly almost a literal quotation from Numbers 20. He who knew so well the details of Scripture history could not have been ignorant of its fundamental principles. Having thus cleared the way, we observe: 

1. That the language of Jephthah’s vow implied, from the first, at least the possibility of some human being coming out from the door of his house, to meet him on his return. The original conveys this, and the evident probabilities of the case were strongly in favor of such an eventuality. Indeed, Jephthah’s language seems to have been designedly chosen in such general terms as to cover all cases. But it is impossible to suppose that Jephthah would have deliberately made a vow in which he contemplated human sacrifice; still more so, that Jehovah would have connected victory and deliverance with such a horrible crime. 

2. In another particular, also, the language of Jephthah’s vow is remarkable. It is, that “the outcoming (whether man or beast) shall be to Jehovah, and I will offer that a burnt-offering.” The great Jewish commentators of the Middle Ages have, in opposition to the Talmud, pointed out that these two last clauses are not identical. It is never said of an animal burnt-offering, that it “shall be to Jehovah” — for the simple reason that, as a burnt-offering, it is such. But where human beings are offered to Jehovah, there the expression is used, as in the case of the firstborn among Israel and of Levi (Numbers 3:12, 13). But in these cases it has never been suggested that there was actual human sacrifice. 

3. It was a principle of the Mosaic law, that burnt sacrifices were to be exclusively males (Leviticus 1:3). 

4. If the loving daughter had devoted herself to death, it is next to incredible that she should have wished to spend the two months of life conceded to her, not with her broken-hearted father, but in the mountains with her companions. 

5. She bewails not her “maiden age,” but her “maidenhood” — not that she dies so young, but that she is to die unmarried. The Hebrew expression for the former would have been quite different from that used in Scripture, which only signifies the latter. But for an only child to die unmarried, and so to leave a light and name extinguished in Israel, was indeed a bitter and heavy judgment, viewed in the light of pre-Messianic times. Compare in this respect especially such passages as Leviticus 20:20 and Psalm 78:63. The trial appears all the more withering when we realize, how it must have come upon Jephthah and his only child in the hour of their highest glory, when all earthly prosperity seemed at their command. The greatest and happiest man in Israel becomes in a moment the poorest and the most stricken. Surely, in this vow and sacrifice was the lesson of vows and sacrifices taught to victorious Israel in a manner the most solemn. 

6. It is very significant that in 11:39 it is only said, that Jephthah “did with her according to his vow” — not that he actually offered her in sacrifice, while in the latter case the added clause, “and she knew no man,” would be utterly needless and unmeaning. Lastly, we may ask, Who would have been the priest by whom, and where the altar on which, such a sacrifice could have been offered unto Jehovah? 

On all these grounds — its utter contrariety to the whole Old Testament, the known piety of Jephthah, the blessing following upon his vow, his mention in the Epistle to the Hebrews, but especially the language of the narrative itself — we feel bound to reject the idea of any human sacrifice. In what special manner, besides remaining unmarried, the vow of her dedication to God was carried out, we do not feel bound to suggest. Here the principle, long ago expressed by Clericus, holds true: “We are not to imagine that, in so small a volume as the Old Testament, all the customs of the Hebrews are recorded, or the full history of all that had taken place among them. Hence there are necessarily allusions to many things which cannot be fully followed out, because there is no mention of them elsewhere."

Alfred Edersheim, Bible History Old Testament, Vol. III, Chap. XVIII

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Paul's Use Of Psalm 32 In Romans 4

          The Epistle to the Romans is Paul's literary masterpiece on the doctrine of salvation. It is the most elegant of his extant writings. Paul begins his piece by presenting the issue of human depravity and righteousness of God. The apostle goes on to show that both Jew and Gentile have broken God's Law and are deserving of His judgement. Everyone stands guilty before Him but He has presented a means of reconciliation through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

          Paul makes an argument by example when he mentions Abraham who lived prior to the Law being given to the people of God. He does this with the intent of showing that his teaching is compatible with the Old Testament. A system of works righteousness would result in boasting. Romans 4:4 says that if someone earns wages, then it is not a gift. But justification is precisely that. Romans 4:5 says that God declares righteous the ungodly and counts them as such by faith. 

         The Law required that two or three witnesses be present to establish the validity of a charge (Deuteronomy 19:15; Numbers 35:30). Thus, we see the Apostle Paul follow this custom in arguing for justification by faith as opposed to works of the Law when he brings up Abraham and King David. The latter person is of special interest here as we consider how Paul ties in Psalm 32 with his argument. The Psalm in question is one of a penitential nature.

         The Psalm used by Paul concerns the feeling of blessedness that comes about as a result of being forgiven of sin by God. The sins King David had repented of were sending Uriah the Hittite into battle to be killed with the intent of covering up his affair with Bathsheba. One sin led him to committing another. David used three words to describe his iniquity: guilt, wrongdoing, and sin. He also used three terms to describe God's mercy: forgiven, covered, and not being taken into account.

          It is noteworthy that David did not mention any good deeds done to merit God's favor. In fact, he only brought up his sin. He came to God with nothing and was pardoned for what he had done. Therefore, God justifies people who are ungodly. Forgiveness is a matter of grace. It is not something which we earn. Since David's sin was not imputed to him, that means he had a righteous standing before God. 

         To be "forgiven" of our sins means that God has taken them away from us. To have our sins "covered" means that their penalty has been met. That leads up to the forgiveness of our sins by God. Romans 4:7 is the only instance in which this word occurs in the New Testament. To have our sins not taken into account means we do not receive condemnation for them in Jesus Christ. We do not merit for ourselves God's eschatological wrath. We are not destined for eternal punishment like unbelievers.

         The Apostle Paul uses King David as an example of being justified in spite of his transgressions against God. Both he and Abraham can speak to the reality of justification apart from works. Their experiences are spoken of as equivalent to each other. Romans 4:7 and Romans 4:8 emphasize our pardon from sin. The overall point from these parallel phrases is that we are not justified by works. David speaks of the "blessed man" who receives full pardon from sin, which means he believed others could experience the same.

          "...In contrast with many of the rabbinic references to Ps. 32, Paul makes no mention of the confession of sins, which is a central theme of the psalms (cf. Ps. 32:5; see Str-B 3:202-3). Confession is implicitly taken up in faith for Paul, in which sin that has overpowered our person is overcome: in faith "we give glory to God" (4:20; cf. 1:23; 3:26). As was the case with the story of Abraham, the broader context of the psalm makes clear that the "reckoning of righteousness" is no mere declaration, but rather an effective word." (Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, p. 624)

Sunday, June 18, 2023

What To Expect In A Fallen World

Some people today think that it is ignorant to believe in Satan. Well, if you feel like that, I just ask you to look at the world and at yourself and try to explain some of the things that happen, both within you and in the world, apart from the biblical teaching about Satan and the hosts and powers of evil, these malevolent influences that are unseen in the spiritual realm.

The next step in the argument is that the world, as it is in sin and under the control of Satan, cannot be improved. Indeed, I defy anyone to show that Scripture teaches that it can. The Bible teaches, quite categorically, that sin is such a radical problem that the world cannot now and never will improve itself; there is no hope for it in that way. So we begin to see why the man or woman who is truly Christian, who bases all opinions on scriptural teaching, is not a bit surprised at what is happening in the world today.

Our Lord and Savior himself said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. . . . Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot. . . .” (Luke 17:26, 28). He spans the centuries; he lays down the proposition that because of sin and the Fall, mankind as mankind is going to be no different at the end of history than what it was at the beginning. Therefore, nothing is such an utter travesty of the Christian gospel as the suggestion that because it is preached, each generation will be better than the previous one, and the world will reform and improve, until everything that is evil and wrong will have been banished and ultimately all will be perfect.

The gospel never teaches that; it asserts the exact opposite. I do not apologize for saying that the Bible’s view of history is profoundly pessimistic. Of course, that is why the Bible is not popular and has not been so during the last hundred years. Evolutionary theories and hypotheses are very optimistic; they all tell us that the world is going to be better and better and that mankind is evolving and advancing. Philosophers always want to be optimistic if they can be, and thus they paint this picture of improvement. And, of course, if you believe them, you cannot like the Bible because its realism contrasts sharply with these optimistic ideas.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, p. 95-96

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Does The Book Of Hebrews Contradict The Roman Catholic Eucharist?

  • Introduction:

          -Roman Catholics are taught that priests transform bread and wine into the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ to be consumed during the Mass service. This dogma is known as transubstantiation. It is maintained that this alleged miracle is atonement for sin, that His propitiatory work is ongoing, and that His sacrifice is re-presented at each worship service. However, the Book of Hebrews contains a number of ideas which are in conflict with this theology.
          -The sacrifice of the Mass is said to be a continuation of Jesus Christ's work on the cross. In Roman Catholic theology, He is offered up as a sacrifice by priests throughout the world to make atonement for our sins. It is maintained that Christ's sacrifice is perpetual since it exists beyond time. Roman Catholic Priest Bryan Babick says that, "The one Sacrifice of Christ is continually offered because its merits can continue to be experienced until He chooses to return in glory."

  • Does Hebrews 7:26-27 Contradict The Sacrifice Of The Mass?:
          -The priestly ministry of Christ is one in which He need not make additional sacrifices. His work has been brought about to the fullest extent possible. The Book of Hebrews presents His atonement as being accomplished one time forever, without further sacrifices. For the author of Hebrews, that which is unchangeable entails perfection. That is the very nature of Christ's position as High Priest. No one else can legitimately lay claim to it.
          -The description of His atonement being made "once for all" emphasizes its perfection. It easily contrasts with the animal sacrifices performed under the Levitical priesthood. Those needed to be done on a daily basis. Those needed to be done on an annual basis. There was simply no end to them. This is not the case with Christ's work on the cross. His work had such an effect that animal victims are no longer necessary to be given for offerings.
          -The Penny Catechism has this excerpt explaining the sacrifice of the Roman Catholic Mass as being, "...one and the same Sacrifice with that of the Cross, inasmuch as Christ, who offered himself, a bleeding victim, on the Cross to his heavenly Father, continues to offer himself in an unbloody manner on the altar, through the ministry of his priests."
          -If the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary and the sacrifice of the Mass are one and the same event, then why does it have to be continually offered? Why so many sacrifices? If His atoning sacrifice is ongoing, then the implication is that it did not get finished. The Mass causes the atonement of Jesus Christ to be just like the repetitive Old Testament sacrifices, which cannot bring about the perfection of our souls. The Mass is not consistent with the presentation of His work in Hebrews as to why it is superior to the animal sacrifices.
  • Does Hebrews 9:24-28 Contradict The Sacrifice Of The Mass?:
          -The first problem that this text presents for Roman Catholic eucharistic theology is that it says Christ entered into a sanctuary not made with human hands. Thus, He cannot be present in His human nature in the golden tabernacles of Roman Catholic churches. Christ has ascended into heaven. This point serves to illustrate the ontological problems that accompany this type of theology. The Catholic Mass is in conflict with Christ's incarnation.
          -This passage speaks of Jesus Christ having completed His atonement sacrifice once in the last days. His sacrifice is not being performed again and again in the manner of the Old Testament priests who slaughtered animals. By the way, the Book of Hebrews does not even hint at the existence of a new order of priests who offer sacrifices during the Mass. This would have been an ideal place to do so because the context of the entire letter points to Christ being superior to the old order of worship.
          -This passage speaks of Christ returning physically for a second time to administer judgement on mankind and restoring a righteous order. It does not speak of Him coming down during this age at the command of an ordained priest to be consumed by parishioners. Hebrews presents us with there being only one sacrifice for sin. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Mass is a sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood, which is exactly what Hebrews addresses. 
          -The problem with Roman Catholic teaching is that Christ's sacrifice is believed to be a one time event and occurring on a daily basis. The author of Hebrews does not present His atonement in that way. According to Hebrews, Christ's sacrifice is not happening daily as did the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. It says Christ's sacrifice was “once for all,” meaning that it was a one-time event. The problem with the Mass begins with it being a sacrifice that happens repeatedly.
  • Does Hebrews 10:10-18 Contradict The Sacrifice Of The Mass?:
          -We have been sanctified by means of Jesus Christ's sacrifice "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). That entails His work being fully complete at Calvary. His sacrifice is not continuing on in worship services across the world because that historical event has already come to pass. There is no sense in which His atonement is still in progress. His work on the cross alone covers us perfectly and completely.
          -Priests repeatedly offer the same sacrifices in vain as a result of Christ's expiatory work on the cross (Hebrews 10:11). They are powerless to accomplish anything to a person's benefit. Offerings cannot take away sin. No offerings are to be made since Christ's single sacrifice. This point is articulated more forcibly and explicitly in verse 18. It calls attention to the New Covenant being greater than the Old Covenant.
          -Jesus Christ has ascended into the full presence of God (Hebrews 10:12-13). Never again will He descend to this earth to make another offering for sin. He is not returning from heaven at the command of a parish priest to be eaten by laypeople. Nor can Christ's physical body be located at thousands of different churches across the world at the same time. It is evident that Roman Catholic eucharist theology suffers from ontological problems.
          -People who place their trust in Christ do not need any of the sacrifices performed during the Mass because they have been eternally perfected by His one sacrifice (Hebrews 10:14). Hebrews 10:18 is the climax of this argument in that it says no other offerings exist for the purification of our souls from sin. Christ has already given Himself up as a ransom. Ritual sacrifices are a thing of the past. They have no merit.
          -The idea that Jesus Christ is in some way still offering Himself up for our sins runs contrary to the reasoning employed in Hebrews 10:10-18 as to the nature and effects of His atonement. The work of Christ on the cross is not constantly happening throughout the ages until His return. Atonement is not being made for sin today. His body and blood are not being physically consumed each time Christians celebrate the Lord's Supper.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Problems With Modern Sexual Education

"And common sense observation tells us that the introduction of widespread public sex education has done nothing to check the increase of unwanted pregnancies, promiscuity, and venereal disease. There is evidence, rather, that such programs encourage premature sexuality with its attendant problems."

William Kirk Kilpatrick, Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern Psychology, p. 33

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Problems In Modern Psychology

Despite the creation of a virtual army of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychometrists, counselors, and social workers, there has been no letup in the rate of mental illness, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, child abuse, divorce, murder, and general mayhem. Contrary to what one might expect in a society so carefully analyzed and attended to by mental health experts, there has been an increase in all these categories. It sometimes seems there is a direct ratio between the increasing number of helpers and the increasing number of those who need help. The more psychologist we have, the more mental illness we get; the more social workers and probation officers, the more crime; the more teachers, the more ignorance.

One has to wonder at it all. In plain language, it is suspicious. We are forced to entertain the possibility that psychology and related professions are proposing to solve problems that they themselves have helped to create. We find psychologists making a virtue our of self-preoccupation, and then we find them surprised at the increased supply of narcissists. We Find psychologists advising the courts that there is not such thing as a bad boy or even a bad adult, and then we find them formulating theories to explain the rise in crime. We find psychologists severing the bonds of family life, and then we find them conducting therapy for broken families.

William Kirk Kilpatrick, Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern Psychology, p. 31

Thursday, April 6, 2023

The Correlation Between Dignity And Responsibility

"Half of popular psychology is devoted to praising human dignity and the other half to excusing us from responsibility. But what kind of dignity is that? It’s no good to tell a man he’s fully human in one breath, and then with the next suggest he’s no more accountable than a vegetable. These contradictions in theory eventually do show up in practice...The reluctance to convict, the backlog of court cases, and the increase in criminal behavior are due at least in part to the new notion that right and wrong are to be measured by psychological rather than legal and moral criteria, and to the equally dubious notion that judges and juries should play the role of therapists."

William Kirk Kilpatrick, Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern Psychology, p. 84

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Divide And Conquer Is An Old Strategy Used By Tyrants

"The worst indecency of the totalitarian mind is that it wants to wipe out all special ties of emotion or allegiance such as might exist between husband and wife or parent and child. These kinds of loyalties threaten the only allegiance considered important, the one owed to Big Brother. It is in this atmosphere, of course, that children willingly denounce their parents to the secret police."

William Kirk Kilpatrick, Psychological Seduction: The Failure of Modern Psychology, p. 127

Monday, March 20, 2023

Should Abortion Be Considered A Civil Right?

          "The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices." (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1993 confirmation hearing)

          In the discussion of whether women should be able to choose to bear children, the question of the humanity of a "fetus" is avoided like the plague. Moral considerations can be used to override objections of personal liberty.

          If "pro-choice" people want to talk about personal responsibility, then there are birth control measures available. Abstinence is also an option. A unique aspect of human beings is the ability to reflect on their impulses.

          There is the issue of men themselves needing to act more responsibly. They should know how to act in a way more proper than that resembling a brute. Many men need to learn self-control, which is also financially advantageous.

          Why should abortion be an issue of personal choice, but not also the reception of vaccines? How do vaccine mandates not undermine the idea of us being "fully adult humans" who are "responsible for our own choices?"

          What is so special about being able to surgically remove a baby from the womb of a woman? Would women in general truly be happier if they remained childless for their whole lives?

           Women are not being rebellious or sinful if they want a job career. That is not a bad thing at all. However, there needs to be enough reproduction of people or a civilization will implode due to the processes of aging and death. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Did Jesus Christ Accept The Book Of Genesis As Historically Accurate?

  • Introduction:
          -There is ample evidence in the four gospels that Jesus believed the history of the Old Testament, especially Genesis, to be literally true. He expressed His beliefs as one who had no doubts as to whether the narrative was historical. He treated the written text as though it had actually happened, not simply allegories or stories illustrating moral truths. Christ used real people and events from the Old Testament to support what He was teaching to the people. His views on the historicity of Genesis were commonly shared by Jewish contemporaries.

  • Jesus Affirmed Adam And Eve As Being Historical:
          -"But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’" (Mark 10:6)
            *The phrase "from the beginning of creation" is used in the writings of other Jewish teachers. For example, Rabbi Yannai said: "From the beginning of his creation of the universe the Holy One, blessed be He, scrutinized the deeds of the righteous and the deeds of the wicked." (Bereishit Rabbah 3)
            *Christ appealed to Adam and Eve as historical figures in upholding God's purpose for marriage. He merely tolerated the act of divorce because of man's fallenness.
            *This reasoning applies to the creation account of Genesis. Christ looks to the beginning of history in teaching about marriage.

  • Jesus Affirmed Cain's Murder Of Abel As Being Historical:
          -"so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar." (Matthew 23:35)
            *Jesus Christ spans the course of Old Testament history from beginning to end in expressing condemnation of the Jewish leaders for rejecting God's prophets. Abel was murdered in the Book of Genesis and Zechariah in 2 Chronicles 24:20, which is the last book of the Jewish canon. Christ believed such portions of the Old Testament to not be parables or allegorical but historical.
  • Jesus Affirmed Abraham (John 8:56-58) And Lot (Luke 17:28) To Be Historical Figures:
          -In the first text, Jesus Christ said that Abraham rejoiced to see His day, saw it, and was glad. It would be nonsensical of Him to say this of a mythological character. His speech presupposes the existence of Abraham as a historical character.
          -In the second text, Christ spans the course of human history from beginning to end in making the point that man will be sinful as long as this world goes on. Unconverted man will live on without any regard for the ways of God until He finally judges him. "In the days of..." refers to actual history.
  • Jesus Affirmed The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah As Actually Having Happened (Luke 17:29) And Lot's Wife Being Turned Into Salt (Luke 17:32):
          -"There was for centuries a peculiar formation of crumbling, crystalline rock that was associated by tradition with the story of Lot's wife. Josephus (Antiquities I.11.4) declared that this pillar still remained in his day and that he had seen it. Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, and Benjamin of Tudela also wrote of this strange formation as visible in their day, but later writers stated that it had ceased to exist. Perhaps the existence of this pillar was used as an object lesson for the admonition of Christ to His disciples (Luke 17:32)." (Spiros Zodhiates, Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible)
  • Is The Genesis Creation Account Is Based On Mesopotamian Myths?:
          -The borrowing of Mesopotamian ideas for the purpose of describing transcendent truths is different than having been derived from Mesopotamian stories themselves (The Ennuma Elish, Epic of Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, etc.). Nonetheless, the text of Genesis is a stand alone in that it presents itself as authentic history. Adam and Eve are presented as historical figures. The biblical account does not flow in the manner of myth, legend, or poetry. 
          -Genesis is unique in that it is monotheistic. God is distinguished from His creation. He formed everything from nothing. Genesis is unique in that He who created all things is loving, peaceful, and righteous. These divine and timeless truths are so elegantly communicated by the text. The Genesis creation account is more intricate in that it encompasses every sphere of the natural and spiritual realms. 
          -Metaphysical naturalists reject the text of Genesis as being supernatural revelation. They do not view the miraculous as being a part of the record of history. If we are to view this creation account as anything, then we are to view it as Moses correcting the pagan narratives. He was interacting with pagan accounts because the Israelites would be exposed to different worldviews as they moved into Canaan.
  • Are Genesis Chapter One And Chapter Two Contradictory Creation Stories?:
          -It is not that the two accounts are contradictory in nature but are harmonious and interdependent. Genesis chapter one specifically speaks to the creation of the universe, with man being last in order. Genesis chapter two centers on what earth was like. It makes no mention of the stars, moon, or other features of the solar system. Genesis chapters two and three focuses more on man. Genesis chapter two does not outline the events of creation. There is no discrepancy between the first two chapters of Genesis, as both, while related, are different contexts.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Purity And Passions

Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant’s truce between virtue and vice. Goodness is the only investment that never fails. In the music of the harp which trembles round the world it is the insisting on this which thrills us. The harp is the travelling patterer for the Universe’s Insurance Company, recommending its laws, and our little goodness is all the assessment that we pay. Though the youth at last grows indifferent, the laws of the universe are not indifferent, but are forever on the side of the most sensitive. Listen to every zephyr for some reproof, for it is surely there, and he is unfortunate who does not hear it. We cannot touch a string or move a stop but the charming moral transfixes us. Many an irksome noise, go a long way off, is heard as music, a proud sweet satire on the meanness of our live.

We are conscious of an animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers. It is reptile and sensual, and perhaps cannot be wholly expelled; like the worms which, even in life and health, occupy our bodies. Possibly we may withdraw from it, but never change its nature. I fear that it may enjoy a certain health of its own; that we may be well, yet not pure. The other day I picked up the lower jaw of a hog, with white and sound teeth and tusks, which suggested that there was an animal health and vigor distinct from the spiritual. This creature succeeded by other means than temperance and purity. “That in which men differ from brute beasts,” says Mencius, “is a thing very inconsiderable; the common herd lose it very soon; superior men preserve it carefully.” Who knows what sort of life would result if we had attained to purity? If I knew so wise a man as could teach me purity I would go to seek him forthwith. “A command over our passions, and over the external senses of the body, and good acts, are declared by the Ved to be indispensable in the mind’s approximation to God.” Yet the spirit can for the time pervade and control every member and function of the body, and transmute what in form is the grossest sensuality into purity and devotion. The generative energy, which, when we are loose, dissipates and makes us unclean, when we are continent invigorates and inspires us. Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it. Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open. By turns our purity inspires and our impurity casts us down. He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him day by day, and the divine being established. Perhaps there is none but has cause for shame on account of the inferior and brutish nature to which he is allied. I fear that we are such gods or demigods only as fauns and satyrs, the divine allied to beasts, the creatures of appetite, and that, to some extent, our very life is our disgrace.—

“How happy’s he who hath due place assigned
To his beasts and disafforested his mind!
* * * * *
Can use this horse, goat, wolf, and ev’ry beast,
And is not ass himself to all the rest!
Else man not only is the herd of swine,
But he’s those devils too which did incline
Them to a headlong rage, and made them worse.”

All sensuality is one, though it takes many forms; all purity is one. It is the same whether a man eat, or drink, or cohabit, or sleep sensually. They are but one appetite, and we only need to see a person do any one of these things to know how great a sensualist he is. The impure can neither stand nor sit with purity. When the reptile is attacked at one mouth of his burrow, he shows himself at another. If you would be chaste, you must be temperate. What is chastity? How shall a man know if he is chaste? He shall not know it. We have heard of this virtue, but we know not what it is. We speak conformably to the rumor which we have heard. From exertion come wisdom and purity; from sloth ignorance and sensuality. In the student sensuality is a sluggish habit of mind. An unclean person is universally a slothful one, one who sits by a stove, whom the sun shines on prostrate, who reposes without being fatigued. If you would avoid uncleanness, and all the sins, work earnestly, though it be at cleaning a stable. Nature is hard to be overcome, but she must be overcome. What avails it that you are Christian, if you are not purer than the heathen, if you deny yourself no more, if you are not more religious? I know of many systems of religion esteemed heathenish whose precepts fill the reader with shame, and provoke him to new endeavors, though it be to the performance of rites merely.

I hesitate to say these things, but it is not because of the subject,—I care not how obscene my words are,—but because I cannot speak of them without betraying my impurity. We discourse freely without shame of one form of sensuality, and are silent about another. We are so degraded that we cannot speak simply of the necessary functions of human nature. In earlier ages, in some countries, every function was reverently spoken of and regulated by law. Nothing was too trivial for the Hindoo lawgiver, however offensive it may be to modern taste. He teaches how to eat, drink, cohabit, void excrement and urine, and the like, elevating what is mean, and does not falsely excuse himself by calling these things trifles.

Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man’s features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Higher Laws (Chap. XI)

Monday, March 6, 2023

Be Sure Your Philanthropy Is Not Misplaced

"Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them. We make curious mistakes sometimes. Often the poor man is not so cold and hungry as he is dirty and ragged and gross. It is partly his taste, and not merely his misfortune. If you give him money, he will perhaps buy more rags with it. I was wont to pity the clumsy Irish laborers who cut ice on the pond, in such mean and ragged clothes, while I shivered in my more tidy and somewhat more fashionable garments, till, one bitter cold day, one who had slipped into the water came to my house to warm him, and I saw him strip off three pairs of pants and two pairs of stockings ere he got down to the skin, though they were dirty and ragged enough, it is true, and that he could afford to refuse the extra garments which I offered him, he had so many intra ones. This ducking was the very thing he needed. Then I began to pity myself, and I saw that it would be a greater charity to bestow on me a flannel shirt than a whole slop-shop on him. There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve. It is the pious slave-breeder devoting the proceeds of every tenth slave to buy a Sunday's liberty for the rest. Some show their kindness to the poor by employing them in their kitchens. Would they not be kinder if they employed themselves there? You boast of spending a tenth part of your income in charity; maybe you should spend the nine tenths so, and done with it. Society recovers only a tenth part of the property then. Is this owing to the generosity of him in whose possession it is found, or to the remissness of the officers of justice?

Philanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind. Nay, it is greatly overrated; and it is our selfishness which overrates it. A robust poor man, one sunny day here in Concord, praised a fellow-townsman to me, because, as he said, he was kind to the poor; meaning himself. The kind uncles and aunts of the race are more esteemed than its true spiritual fathers and mothers. I once heard a reverend lecturer on England, a man of learning and intelligence, after enumerating her scientific, literary, and political worthies, Shakespeare, Bacon, Cromwell, Milton, Newton, and others, speak next of her Christian heroes, whom, as if his profession required it of him, he elevated to a place far above all the rest, as the greatest of the great. They were Penn, Howard, and Mrs. Fry. Every one must feel the falsehood and cant of this. The last were not England's best men and women; only, perhaps, her best philanthropists.

I would not subtract anything from the praise that is due to philanthropy, but merely demand justice for all who by their lives and works are a blessing to mankind. I do not value chiefly a man's uprightness and benevolence, which are, as it were, his stem and leaves. Those plants of whose greenness withered we make herb tea for the sick serve but a humble use, and are most employed by quacks. I want the flower and fruit of a man; that some fragrance be wafted over from him to me, and some ripeness flavor our intercourse. His goodness must not be a partial and transitory act, but a constant superfluity, which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious. This is a charity that hides a multitude of sins. The philanthropist too often surrounds mankind with the remembrance of his own castoff griefs as an atmosphere, and calls it sympathy. We should impart our courage, and not our despair, our health and ease, and not our disease, and take care that this does not spread by contagion. From what southern plains comes up the voice of wailing? Under what latitudes reside the heathen to whom we would send light? Who is that intemperate and brutal man whom we would redeem? If anything ail a man, so that he does not perform his functions, if he have a pain in his bowels even- for that is the seat of sympathy- he forthwith sets about reforming- the world. Being a microcosm himself, he discovers- and it is a true discovery, and he is the man to make it- that the world has been eating green apples; to his eyes, in fact, the globe itself is a great green apple, which there is danger awful to think of that the children of men will nibble before it is ripe; and straightway his drastic philanthropy seeks out the Esquimau and the Patagonian, and embraces the populous Indian and Chinese villages; and thus, by a few years of philanthropic activity, the powers in the meanwhile using him for their own ends, no doubt, he cures himself of his dyspepsia, the globe acquires a faint blush on one or both of its cheeks, as if it were beginning to be ripe, and life loses its crudity and is once more sweet and wholesome to live. I never dreamed of any enormity greater than I have committed. I never knew, and never shall know, a worse man than myself.

I believe that what so saddens the reformer is not his sympathy with his fellows in distress, but, though he be the holiest son of God, is his private ail. Let this be righted, let the spring come to him, the morning rise over his couch, and he will forsake his generous companions without apology. My excuse for not lecturing against the use of tobacco is, that I never chewed it, that is a penalty which reformed tobacco-chewers have to pay; though there are things enough I have chewed which I could lecture against. If you should ever be betrayed into any of these philanthropies, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does, for it is not worth knowing. Rescue the drowning and tie your shoestrings. Take your time, and set about some free labor."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Economy (Chap. I)