Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beliefs Are Not Time-Bound

"An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays. You might as well say of a view of the cosmos that it was suitable to half-past three, but not suitable for half-past four. What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century."

G.K. Chesterton, cited by George Grant, "Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood," p. 227

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Does Luke 1:28 Support Roman Catholic Mariology?

  • Introduction:
          -"The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the "Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice." It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son." (CCC # 722).
  • Presenting Luke 1:28 In Its Context:
          -The best description that we get about Mary from the pages of the Bible is that she is "the Lord's servant" (Luke 1:38). No other biblical descriptions of her exist. It is therefore an untenable position to go from describing Mary as being an instrument by God to accomplish His purpose to being a woman who was conceived without sin, ascended into heaven without physical death, and being exalted as Queen of heaven. Moreover, there is nothing in this context allowing for the use of random titles to exalt Mary, offering prayers to her or build statues of saints to bow before, and fails to mention anything about future Marian apparitions.
          -The context reveals important sayings of Elizabeth, Mary, and the Angel Gabriel. However, nothing is said about Mary's sinlessness. Furthermore, we need to ask why Gabriel would announce the important message of Mary's birth so many years after the occasion took place (when she was a fully grown woman)? Both the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and John the Baptist were proclaimed before their birth dates. It would be very strange to make a prophecy of an event after the fact that it has already happened. The context of Luke chapter one is all about the conception of Jesus.
  • Not Found In The Original Greek Manuscripts: 
          -The phrase "full of grace" is derived from a faulty translation of Jerome in his fourth century Latin Vulgate. Also, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Thus, the Roman Catholic Church has derived its doctrine from a corrupted Latin translation (not the Greek original). Interestingly, most modern-day Catholic Bibles do not have the rendering "full of grace". Examples of reputable translations ignoring the term would include the New American Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible.
          -"But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma." (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under “Immaculate Conception”)
          -"The words of Gabriel, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk. 1.28), have also been appealed to as a revelation of the Immaculate Conception, on the grounds that to be truly full of grace, Mary must have had it always. This interpretation, however, overlooks the fact that the Greek term κεχαριτωμένη [kecharitomene] is not nearly so explicit as the translation “full of grace” might suggest. It implies only that God’s favor has been lavished on Mary, without defining the degree of grace." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, Page 378) 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Examining The Catholic Rosary In Light Of Scripture

       One Roman Catholic legend is that Mary showed up before St. Dominic in 1208 at the church of Prouille and revealed the Rosary beads to him. Catholic Priest William Saunders writes that, "the origins of the rosary are sketchy at best." Gregory the Great made popular a form of the Hail Mary Prayer and many in response began praying this prayer in repetitions with stringed beads. Jesus Christ would have condemned praying this kind of prayer:

        "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words."  (Matthew 6:6-7)

         The Rosary consists of heaping up words and phrases in an attempt to make prayers more efficacious or more heard. It is not simply a matter of saying the same prayers repeatedly. Furthermore, we never see anybody in the New Testament using prefabricated, mechanical prayers with a continuous, repetitious nature. Scripture does not express approval of any kind of icon or relic that aids in prayer.

        Jesus Christ emphatically condemned pre-packaged, mechanical types of prayer by calling them vain. Those are done by pagans and legalists. God already knows everything that we are going to ask Him, even before we plead for divine intervention. He knows everything that we need, even better than what we know of ourselves.

        More prayers are dedicated to Mary in the Rosary than to God Himself in the process of it being cited. Thus, one can see how such a prayer can diminish one's affection for God. Contrast Roman Catholic devotion to Mary in the Rosary with words from the Psalms:

        "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-6)

        "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth." (Psalm 73:25)

        What is the importance of knowing how many times a prayer is said? Why is there such a major emphasis on the number of repetitions in citing the Rosary? What are the consequences of saying too many or too little of a specific prayer? Is it some sort of magical formula or spell? Does the Rosary involve some sort of self-hypnosis technique? What is the significance of even using this relic if the repetition serves no purpose?

        The concept of praying with beads was used by pagans long before Christianity even began. An example would include the Hindus. In fact, the Rosary is connected with a prayer "rhythm," is described as being repetitious, and is linked with a rhythm of breathing. These concepts are associated with the practices of occult religions such as Wicca. Former Pope John Paul II offered this description of the Rosary in his apostolic letter called "Rosarium Virginis Mariae."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Is The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary Biblical?

  • Introduction:
          -Roman Catholics believe that Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage after Jesus was born. It is therefore held that He had no blood brothers or sisters.
          -Many have upheld this teaching throughout history, both before and after the Protestant Reformation. Francis Turretin and Richard Hooker were Protestants who believed Mary to be a perpetual virgin.
          -The idea of Mary's perpetual virginity in and of itself is hardly an objectionable teaching. The problem is that Rome makes acceptance of it an issue of salvation.
  • Matthew 13:55-57 And Mark 6:3-4:
          -The context of these passages shows that the meaning of the "brothers and sisters" to be natural family.
          -In Matthew 13:55-57 and Mark 6:3-4, the Greek word for sisters is "adelphe" and is also used in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 to mean natural sister born as to the same mother.
          -If this was a reference to more distinct relatives, then why did the writer not use the Greek word "suggenes" (Luke 1:36; Luke 1:58)?
  • Matthew 1:24-25:
          -Verses that use the word until to mean a change in condition would be Matthew 24:34, Acts 20:11, Acts 23:12, and Revelation 7:3. Sometimes the word in Greek does not carry this meaning. Context determines the meaning behind words. If we interpret the words in this passage at face value, it would certainly seem that Mary had children after the birth of Christ. 
          -Jesus distinguished between blood brothers and brothers of faith (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21; John 2:12).
  • Matthew 1:18:
          -The meaning of this passage is that Joseph kept Mary a virgin until they got married. Jesus Christ had literal brothers and sisters from the womb of Mary. There is no reason to challenge this interpretation unless one has an underlying theological agenda.
  • John's gospel records a fulfilled prophecy (John 2:15-17) from the Book of Psalms (Psalm 69:8-9). It strongly implies that Christ had literal brothers and sisters.
  • Jesus was Mary's firstborn, not only born (Luke 2:7):
          -The New Testament makes a distinction between firstborn and only born (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38).
  • Should "Brother" Be Translated Or Understood As Cousin?:
          -Koine Greek is an extremely precise language. This argument is refuted because the New Testament occupies a separate Greek word for cousin, which is "anepsios" (Colossians 4:10). The New Testament never denotes the term "brother" to mean anything other than a literal brother in the context of family relations.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Refuting The Immaculate Conception Of Mary

  • The Immaculate Conception Of Mary:
          -According to the Roman Catholic Church, Mary was conceived without the stains of original sin and she therefore led a sinless life. It is claimed that God had to work things out in this fashion so that Jesus could be immaculately conceived.
          -As is usual with distinctively Roman Catholic dogmas, there is no unanimous consensus among the church fathers as to whether or not the immaculate conception is biblical. Dr. Ron Rhodes notes the following, " is a historical fact that a number of the early church fathers such as Origen, Basil, Hillary, John Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria believed that Mary had engaged in sins (such as vanity and ambition) in her life." (Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 296) The Roman Catholic television network EWTN said, "During the middle ages, authors such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Thomas Aquinas denied the doctrine."
  • This Doctrine Raises A Number Of Questions:
          -If sinlessness is claimed for Mary so that she could be pure enough to bear Jesus Christ, then such should also be claimed for Mary's mother so that she could be pure enough to bear Mary. This process would have to continue until it reaches its starting point (Eve?).
          -Why not simply have Mary and Jesus born in a sinless environment?
  • Not Ritually Clean, According To The Old Testament Levitical Law Which Was Still In Effect When Jesus Christ Was Still A Baby:
          -If Mary was sinless, then why was she unclean and had to offer a sacrifice for sin (Luke 2:16; 21-24)? According to the Old Testament, the mother needed purifying after a birth because of the issue of blood (Leviticus 12:1-8). Mary was ritually unclean.
  • Mary Doubted God, Which Is A Sin:
          -If Mary was undefiled by sin, then how does one account for the fact that she once thought her Son Jesus Christ to be mentally deranged (Mark 3:20-21; 3:31-35)?
  • All Have Sinned And Fallen Short Of The Glory Of God:
          -All have fallen short of God's Law (Romans 3:10-12; 23; 5:12) and are therefore in need of an atonement sacrifice, which is Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 John 3:5). "All" includes Mary. There has been only one Person tempted by the devil and successfully resisted sin throughout His entire life, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). For this reason, people such as Adam and Eve, babies, and the mentally handicapped are not true exceptions to the rule "all have sinned." While the Scriptures explicitly teach the sinless nature of Jesus Christ, they are silent when it comes to Mary being without sin. Only Jesus was conceived without sin and led a sinless life.

General Comments On Roman Catholic Mariology

  • What Is Mariology?:
          -The study or doctrine relating to Mary, the mother of Jesus (upheld by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches).
  • Catholic Mariology Presents A Distorted View Of Mary:
          -The New Testament epistles were written to give spiritual guidance and instruction to the Christian churches. They have a great deal to say about constructing the appropriate doctrines that develop a foundational understanding for worship. However, Mary is completely absent from the New Testament letters (with the exception being Acts 1:14 and Galatians 4:4).
          -Even in the four gospels, her alleged "spiritual power and authority" seems as if it does not exist. Jesus and the apostles never gave Mary any place of authority or devotion that the Roman Catholic Church has given to her.
          -Why did Jesus address another woman by the same name, "woman," as He called His mother Mary (Matthew 15:28; John 2:4)?
  • John The Baptist:
          -Jesus Christ said that the greatest human ever born was John the Baptist and that he was the LEAST in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 11:11-13). Even the "least" in the kingdom of God is "greater" than John the Baptist. So Mary is no better than anyone else, either in heaven or earth.
  • Contradicts Biblical Teaching:
          -Jesus publicly refuted a woman who attempted to exalt Mary on the basis that she gave birth to Him (Luke 11:27-28). Instead, He placed an emphasis on hearing and obeying the Word of God.
          -Jesus stated that all of His disciples are His mother and family (Matthew 12:46-50). In other words, He elevated all of His disciples to the same level as His earthly mother and family. The emphasis is on faithfulness to God's will, rather than ancestral lineage.
  • God Uses Everyone And Everything For A Purpose That Brings Him Glory:
          -God did not have to use Mary as the means of bringing His Son into the world so that He could make atonement on our behalf. The Lord could have found favor with another virgin woman who was just as faithful to His will, if He so chose. In fact, He did not have to save us (but He did as a result of His love and mercy). It is not as if Mary was the only option available or that God owed her something.
  • Delusions Of Grandeur:
          -One can find numerous statements exalting Mary in writings by Roman Catholic "saints" and church officials that far exceed the teachings of Scripture. Consider this example: "Let us in all confidence choose as advocate before God the Immaculate and Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. She has destroyed all the heresies of the world...In heaven as Queen at the right hand of her only Son, clothed in golden raiment and all manner of jewels, there is nothing that she cannot obtain from him" (Pope Pius IX, Quanta cura, December 8, 1864). 
          -If Mary had really accomplished what the pope claimed regarding the abolishment of all heresy, then why are we still encountering atheists, other world religions, and pseudo-Christian cults? The constant theme of the New Testament is centered on Jesus Christ and His merits alone. To illustrate the point, consider how John the Baptist had stated that 'Christ must increase' and he himself 'must decrease' (John 3:30).

Arguments For The Existence Of God

  • The Argument From First Cause:
          -How did everything existing in the universe come into being? If the answer is gasses or atoms or celestial bodies or whatever else secular scientists may want us to believe, then where did all of these things come from? It is logically impossible for something to originate from nothing. We need to keep going back in time until we discover a beginning. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the first cause of everything must be a God who has existed for all eternity. That is His very nature. Thus, He is the first cause of all things. We know beyond any shadow of a doubt that something cannot create itself from nothing. That is myth-making.
  • The Argument From Fine-Tuning:
          -The fine tuning of the universe is worth our consideration. Notice how everything in the solar system orbits around the sun, how the planets rotate (with moons even rotating around them), and how everything stays in perfect order. The planet Earth, which is about 93 million miles away from the sun and is third in the sequence of planets as to their distance away from the central star that provides us with light, is the only known environment that is able to sustain human life. Furthermore, life on this planet functions in a very sophisticated and orderly manner. If the universe simply originated out of merely "nothing" and by chance, then how come life is not disorganized and chaotic?
          -"Summary: These are the fundamental constants and quantities of the universe. Each of these numbers have been carefully dialed to an astonishingly precise value - a value that falls within an exceedingly narrow, life-permitting range. If any one of these numbers were altered by even a hair's breadth, no physical, interactive life of any kind could exist anywhere. There'd be no stars, no life, no planets, no chemistry…The fact is our universe permits physical, interactive life only because these, and many other numbers, have been independently and exquisitely balanced on a razor's edge…The probabilities involved are so ridiculously remote as to put the fine-tuning well beyond the reach of chance." (
  • The Moral Argument:
          -How life should work is dictated by universal moral principles. In other words, every decision that we plan to execute should be made on the basis of an objective standard of good. The fact that we appeal to a moral standard in our daily argumentation, expect everyone to behave in morally good manner, make apologies, and try to make excuses to justify our wrongdoings proves that there must be an ultimate, unchangeable standard of morality. Mentally deranged people have a perception of good, even if their view of goodness is extremely twisted. In fact, the heart of the ancient civilizations had a sense of good, though their practices or customs may have been radically different and even repulsive in our sight. This innate sense of good and evil cannot be mere instinct because it is based upon our free will, which operates on the basis of human reason. The difference between a mere animal instinct and this transcendent moral code is that the first one is automatic and unable to be resisted, whereas the second concept can indeed be resisted. The existence of objective moral truths presupposes the existence of God.
  • The Argument From Contingency (Cosmological Argument):
          -In order for the universe to come into existence, an outside entity that exceeds the boundaries of space, matter, and time must also exist. Nothing material can exist on its own behalf or whim. The existence of the universe is dependent on an outside source, just as fire needs oxygen to burn or trees need water to grow. What is needed for the universe to exist exists independently of whether other beings exist or not. This mysterious being exists in and of itself, that is, an eternal source. This divine Giver is completely different than the created, finite particles of matter. He is infinite, unchangeable, and immaterial. He transcends space and time. In contrast, the universe is finite and changeable.
  • The Argument From Efficient Cause:
          -There is no such thing as infinite regress in the sense of a never ending series of causes. It is logically impossible for something to exist prior to its existence. So every material object must have a beginning. An effect cannot occur without a cause. It is reasonable to conclude that God set the universe into the orderly fashion that we observe today. A first mover would be distinguished from a first cause.
  • The Argument From Degrees Of Perfection (Henological Argument):
          -We tend to classify personal preferences, chains of events, lifetime experiences, and various decisions from least to greatest. In other words, one of the processes on which our judgment operates is ranking things according to being better or worse or by being more or less extreme in nature. A few examples of this sort of activity will be provided to illustrate the point that degrees of perfection do exist and how they relate to the existence of God. For example, we classify being a genius as better than having an average intelligence; an average intelligence as better than being unintelligent. Our way of being is much better and more complete than that of animals or inanimate objects. If these degrees of perfection are pertinent to being, which does exist in finite creatures, then there must be an ultimate degree of perfection that transcends our understanding. One exists who has all of the good qualities that we posses as beings, but to an infinitely perfect and full extent. God has the highest degree of perfection and being.
  • The Argument From Desire:
          -"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 137)
  • The Argument Of The Unmoved Mover:
          -Everything that is placed into motion has a mover. In other words, things cannot merely set themselves into motion without a being applying the force to put that object into a state of movement. All moving things have a mover. Therefore, the universe could not have began and thus put everything into motion by itself. There is an Unmoved Mover from whom all motion proceeds. God is the one who set the order of everything into motion.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why Are There So Many Different Versions Of The Bible?

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -Several translations of the Bible have been produced and thus distributed throughout the church. Christians tend to prefer specific versions such as the King James Version, New International Version or the New American Standard Bible over others. Church groups even recommend certain Bible translations which are used in the preaching pulpits of their congregations. In fact, many people mistakenly make the extrapolation that the existence of multiple Bible versions is the primary cause of division throughout the church and somehow proves that the manuscripts used for finding English equivalents for the words of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages are hopelessly tainted by human bias. To make a long story short, people are worried or confused about the fact that there are several translations of the Bible which contain deviations in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and even differences in chapter verses. On the other hand, having many different translations of the Bible can prove to be beneficial in study. It is not a bad thing in of itself.
  • Bible Translation Or Version? 
          -First of all, it should be noted that the word "version" is not always the best way to describe a translation of a religious text. It misrepresents the nature of the painstaking research conducted by scholars who worked diligently to give us the most accurate as possible presentation of what the original authors of the biblical narratives wanted to relay to future generations. The science of "translation" works to find equivalents in one language so that different languages are able to maintain communication. The word "version" can give the misleading implication of intentional alteration or perversion with malicious motives. Translating works to make deciphering a message in a foreign language possible, whereas creating a version means carving out wanted portions of any given context to fit one's faulty bias. Translating ancient manuscripts from different languages is no different than translating the words of a speaker from another country such as a foreign diplomat giving a news conference. So describing the Bible as merely being a "version" can be misleading.
  • Why There Are Many Different Bible Translations:
          -Quite simply, different translations of the Bible exist because different groups of scholars knowledgeable in languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic have collaborated at different periods of time to develop them. Words have a semantic range or a variety of meanings in a group of words that are appropriate to use depending on the context of a given passage. For example, the word "angry" has other words with similar connotations like mad, upset, irate, vehement, furious, and enraged. Those terms differ in degrees of forcefulness and may thus not fully convey what a person intends to say. Some places in Hebrew and Greek are even ambiguous. There have also been discoveries of manuscripts which provide further data to use in updating translations. Although the phraseology of different Bible translations may have noticeably different wording in certain places, phrases, or even different sentence structures, the meaning of the text in the vast majority of instances is the same. There is therefore still one Bible.
          -The science of translation involves explanation or interpretation, since it is a process of making something known to you that could not otherwise have been known to you. Shades of the Hebrew and Greek are inevitably lost to a degree in translation, which is a good reason to have access to more than one Bible translation (even though one cannot have perfect knowledge about such unless he or she knows the original languages). In addition, words have changed in their meaning since four hundred years ago when Elizabethan English was spoken. A notorious example of this would be the word "gay" which is used in the King James Version of the Bible and how that same word is used today. The meaning of a word is determined by its usage in context. The three types of translations available are word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase (not that all translations of the Bible are good or equally good). How could Christians be required to agree on only one edition of the Bible when it also needs to be translated into different languages?
  • So Which Bible Translation Is The Best One To Read From?:
          -No infallible, God-breathed version of the Holy Scriptures are available to us today. All Bible translations existing today contain their own set of weaknesses and imperfections because they were all translated by fallible men who did not have an inerrant set of manuscripts given to them. But each version of the Bible has its own unique set of strengths. In fact, many translations that we can purchase are very reliable in general. They convey accurately to a considerable degree what the authors of the biblical text said. The answer to the question of which Bible translation is the best would be the one that an individual chooses to read. Having different translations of the Bible can help serious students gain a deeper insight behind the meaning of the text and can make the Bible a much more available book to the world.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Roman Catholic Church And Apostolic Tradition

  • Preliminary Points:
          -The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Scripture alone is an insufficient guide for Christian doctrine and that Jesus Christ gave the twelve apostles infallible oral tradition to pass on to future generations through the Magisterium. It is claimed that we need to submit to an infallible interpreter of Scripture in order to properly understand its message. Apologists for Rome have attempted to construct a biblical case for their their Church's claims by citing various passages such as John 20:30, 21:25, 2 John 12, 3 John 13, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6, and 1 Corinthians 11:2.
          -It is true that the Bible never presents itself as the only source of authority for the church. However, Sola Scriptura means that Scripture is the final court of authority in all religious matters. Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith for the church to use. Therefore, people who object to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura by using a faulty definition (that the Bible is the only or sole authority) are attacking a straw man argument.
          -It is self-contradictory to appeal to the Bible as the ultimate standard of authority to prove that it is not the ultimate standard of authority for the church to heed to. It is a hypocritical double standard for Roman Catholics to use Scripture as a means to justify their doctrines, but disapproving of Protestants acting in the same manner.
  • Clarifying That Sola Scriptura Is Not Opposed To All Forms Of Tradition: 
          -It needs to be understood that Protestantism is not opposed to "traditions," as long as they are consistent with the principles of Scripture. They have to be kept subject to its judgement. Protestants do not reject using “tradition” as such or the testimony of “the church” (meaning early patristic writers). What other sources can we use to gather historical information? It also needs to be kept in mind that Scripture is apostolic tradition in written form.
  • Do 2 Thessalonians 2:15 And 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Prove The Necessity Of Roman Catholic Oral Tradition?:
          -The previous context of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 reveals that the Apostle Paul is speaking of traditions pertaining to the second coming of Christ. Those should be measured against apostates who pervert the truths concerning that doctrine, eternal salvation, and the gospel. These topics are addressed throughout both Testaments (Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:1-9; Matthew 24:5-27; Psalm 22-23; Isaiah 53; John 3:16). Hence, there is no need to depend on extra-biblical oral traditions.
          -2 Thessalonians 3:6 refers to teaching regarding working and not being idle. Consider texts such as Psalm 128:2, Proverbs 21:25, and 2 Thessalonians 3:10. The Apostle Paul was not trying to establish a distinction in content between oral and written revelation, but rather demonstrates the unity of his message when communicated in both forms.
  • Does 1 Corinthians 11:2 Prove The Necessity Of Roman Catholic Oral Tradition?: 
          -The immediate context is about the purposes of men and women in worship and in terms authority (v. 3-16). Then, the Apostle Paul goes on to talk about the correct observance and practice pertaining to the Lord's Supper (v. 17-31). Later on, he goes on to identify traditions, which he himself previously received, as the basic message of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). None of these oral traditions are mysterious in nature or foreign in substance to Scripture.
  • Do John 20:30, John 21:25, 2 John 12, and 3 John 13 Prove The Necessity Of Roman Catholic Oral Tradition?: 
          -The passages from John do not say that some the teachings of Jesus were not written in Scripture. Rather, all the miracles that He performed were not recorded. Scripture tells us everything that we need to know concerning salvation (John 20:31).
          -The logic employed by our critics here is self-defeating because Roman Catholic tradition does not furnish us with all the details of Jesus' life.
          -Anybody (including Mormons) can abuse Scripture passages like these by claiming that we need the doctrines of his religion. They can be misused to open up doors to just about any heretical system of doctrine. We need to know exactly what John is talking about in the above passages. We cannot make assertions that are devoid of evidence.
          -Why assume that 2 John 12 and 3 John 13 are referring to some apostolic teaching that gets passed on to posterity? None of these texts indicate specifically what the contents of John's message are. It is equally possible for the unknown details to be from other parts of the New Testament, a public rebuke of sin or heresy, or even personal details about his life or close companions such as his fellow ministers, the apostles.
          -2 John 12 and 3 John 13 simply indicate that the Apostle John decided not to write down every single detail of what he intended on saying in his epistles. He wanted to speak directly to his audience for the sake of his audience's comfort, joy, and edification. How do we know that what John spoke of would have been different in substance than what is found in written revelation? Can Roman Catholics produce any sayings of Jesus Christ or the apostles that exist apart from Scripture?
  • Are The Traditions Of The Roman Catholic Church Equal To Or Superior To The Bible In Terms Of Authority?:
          -Jesus Christ rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for placing their own traditions on par with the Old Testament in terms of authority (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). This scenario is a mirror reflection of the modern day Roman Catholic Church because it teaches as dogma its own oral traditions. It claims that its traditions were handed down from the early church fathers, just as the religious leaders whom Christ rebuked claimed that their traditions were from the elders. The Roman Catholic Church, like the scribes and Pharisees of the Law, say that their traditions are of divine origin. The scribes and Pharisees taught doctrinal error as a result of putting man-made tradition on par with Scripture. The Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church has fallen into the same grievous error for its inflated perspective of "oral tradition" and claims to perpetual infallibility. The underlying issue is pride amongst religious leaders.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Scriptural Refutation Of Calvinism

  • Introduction:
          -Calvinism is a movement within traditional Protestantism that was developed by John Calvin (1509-1564), a French theologian. He was heavily influenced by the writings of the church father Augustine. There are five major points to this complex theological system that are known by the acronym: "T.U.L.I.P."
  • Total Depravity:
          -One consequence of the fall is that man has been corrupted by sin. We have a natural inclination to resist God. This is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to make atonement on our behalf. We can only be justified by the grace of God. Justification cannot be merited by good works. But we must choose to accept His free offer of salvation as presented in the gospel. The biblical doctrine of total depravity is distinguished from the Calvinistic notion of total inability.
  • Unconditional Election:
          -“All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 5)
          -"The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree." (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, section 7)
          -The Bible teaches a different form of predestination than what is found in Calvinism. The scriptural view is that God determined beforehand, not which individuals will receive salvation and which ones will receive damnation, but how we would serve Him and the means by which we are redeemed. This view is known as corporate election. It pertains to the work that believers do in the church for the glory of God. He has predestined believers to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:3-6). He has prepared in advance that we do good works (Ephesians 2:10). We become a part of God's elect by hearing and believing on the gospel as it is being proclaimed (John 6:51; Ephesians 1:13-14). 
          -God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:17). He does not will that any perish, but all be saved (Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). God does not lead any into temptation (James 1:13-15). Sin is not from God (Jeremiah 7:24).
          -If we have already been predestined to heaven or hell, then what is the purpose of being cautious of the devil's plans of causing deception (1 Peter 5:8)? Why pray that His will be done (Matthew 6:10)?
          -If God has already meticulously predetermined everything since the foundation of the world, then it makes perfect sense for one to say that we have no free will. Why preach repent or perish?
          -Why would God sentence sinners to eternity in hell when He created them to be that way? Why would He punish people who had no control over their sinful actions in the first place?
          -If God has already meticulously predetermined everything since the foundation of the world, then there is no point in debating these issues since He created members of His elect to oppose Calvinism.
          -If God has foreordained since the beginning of time that the unbelieving and unrepentant are to perish eternally, then why did our Lord Jesus Christ claim that He was sent to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:9-10)? Why did God grieve over making man (Genesis 6:6)?
  • Limited Atonement:
          -"It maintains that God's design and intent in sending Christ to die on the cross was to pay for the sins and secure the redemption of those whom God has predetermined to save, namely the elect." (Theopedia, "Definite Atonement")
          -According to Scripture, Jesus Christ died not only for our sins, but also the whole world (1 John 2:1-2). He tasted death for all men (Hebrews 2:9). See also 1 Timothy 2:4-6 and Revelation 22:17. God wants every nation to repent and seek Him (Acts 17:26-31).
          -According to Scripture, Christ died even for false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). He has died for both the just and the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus Christ identified those who continually reject and oppose His message as being among those that He came to save (John 12:47-48).
          -If Jesus Christ was able to save the Apostle Paul who referred to himself as being the chief of sinners for persecuting the church of God in his younger days (1 Timothy 1:15-16), then would that not also imply that salvation is available to all who believe on the gospel (contrary to limited atonement)?
          -Notice how Paul included in his inspired definition of the gospel that Jesus Christ died "for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This sounds like a personal invitation to salvation. That is literally equivalent to me saying that Christ died for you and me, which refutes limited atonement.
          -Regardless of whether one is Calvinistic in soteriology or not, there is a sense in which the atonement is limited. It is either limited in scope (whoever is specifically chosen by God from before the foundation of the world) or by application (whoever believes the gospel receives the benefits of Christ's atonement).
  • Does Unlimited Atonement Necessitate Universalism?:
          -Christ's death for all men denotes divine judgement to the same extant because we have all been commanded to repent and believe on the gospel (Mark 1:15; Acts 17:26-31).
          -Just as the Jewish people had to look at the bronze serpent in order to be physically healed, so we must turn to Christ in order to have our spiritual infirmities removed (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14-16). Thus, no decision to receive salvation means no application of soteriological benefits.
          -God made atonement even for those whom He foreknew would not repent because of His love and graciousness. He blessed Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden even though He knew beforehand that they would fall. He sent prophets to admonish the Jews even though He knew beforehand that they would reject them.
          -God is, in the present tense, bringing about all things to His glory (Romans 8:28-30). If He specifically determined that the benefits of the cross be applied to all who repent and believe, then the gospel and His power are not undermined by belief in unlimited atonement.
  • Irresistible Grace:
          -"Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God." (Theopedia, "Irresistible Grace")
          -If irresistible grace is a biblical doctrine, then why is it that God would "spread out His hands all day long" to His rebellious nation Israel (Isaiah 65:2)? Why would God put Himself through so much trouble when He could have instantaneously resolved that problem? Why did Jesus mourn over Israel's unwillingness to accept the prophets God had sent (Matthew 23:37)?
  • Perseverance Of The Saints (Also Known As Eternal Security Or Once Saved, Always Saved):
          -"...those who are truly saved will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation. It doesn't mean that a person who is truly saved will never lose faith or backslide at any time..."Eternal security" is often seen as synonymous with "Perseverance of the saints." (Theopedia, "Perseverance of the Saints")
          -Warning texts for Christians against apostasy do not sit well with the idea that it is impossible for one to lose his or her salvation (Hebrews 3:12; 2 Peter 3:17; 1 Corinthians 8:10-12; 9:24-27; Colossians 1:23; 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1-4; 6:20-21; Acts 20:28-32; Galatians 5:4-5; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 20-22; James 5:19-20). We even have a few examples of genuine Christians falling away from the faith recorded in New Testament (1 Timothy 1:18-21; 5:11-15; 2 Timothy 4:10). In other words, it is possible for Christians to "walk away" their salvation.
          -God disciplines those who He loves, just as a father does a son who is guilty of some wrongdoing (Deuteronomy 8:3-5; Proverbs 3:12). A God who is willing to lay down His life for sinners is not going to instantaneously give up on somebody. That is totally unrealistic. A person does not reach sinless perfection upon conversion. We still struggle with a sin nature, but the grace of God, which we do not deserve, does transform our hearts. How God dealt with Israel in the Old Testament is a testimony to His patience. King David himself serves as a display to the greatness of His mercy.
The loss of salvation is not caused by a single bad work, but is a slow, gradual process that takes place over time. We do not do bad works to "get unsaved." Bad works are the evidence, not the cause, of a declining faith or hardening heart. Our works are symptomatic of our spiritual state. God examines our hearts. We are justified by faith, apart from the merit of any good works (Romans 4:2-8). We are saved by faith in Christ. We obtain mercy from God through heartfelt repentance.
          -It is technically difficult for a Christian to lose his or her salvation. God is slow to anger (Psalm 145:8). He is rich in mercy (Ephesians 1:7-8). He does not will that any man perish (2 Peter 3:9). He is faithful even during our times of unfaithfulness. The Holy Spirit continually convicts the conscience of sin. But He can still cast off bad branches. Christians do not lose their free will upon conversion. People can and do, though as shocking or unfortunate it may seem, abandon heartfelt convictions. God forbid that a believer apostatize from the faith, but it is an undeniable reality. He certainly has the power to keep us, but will not force people into heaven. That would not be love. We were not created to be robots or puppets, but His children.
          -We are kept in by the Holy Spirit the same way that we entered the Kingdom of God: faith (Galatians 3:1-6; Colossians 2:6-7). In other words, we are both justified and sanctified by faith. Justification is not analogous to some sort of a wage that we can deplete by sin. We are not saved by "remaining faithful," but by trusting in the atonement of Christ. We are either fully a part of God's kingdom or not a member at all.
  • Does A Rejection Of Calvinism Mean That Man Takes Credit For His Own Salvation And That God Is Not Sovereign?:
          -Just because one believes that he or she must choose to accept Christ for salvation, does not validate the charge of a performance oriented gospel. That is a misrepresentation. It is true that man in his fallen nature can never please God. We could never merit our salvation. His grace is an absolute necessity. We absolutely need His imputed righteousness. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved. However, we must accept the terms of forgiveness as prescribed in the gospel. This is analogous to a physician informing a patient of the need for a procedure such as a liver transplant. The latter performs the work on the former. In the same vein, it is God who diagnoses our problem of sin and totally removes it from our being. We have the ability to recognize that we have a spiritual problem in light of divine revelation. The choice to accept the gift of justification is not a work, anymore than is grabbing a lifesaver while drowning or accepting a birthday gift from a loved one. To say that we take credit for accepting a free, and even undeserved, gift would be irrational in the highest degree.
         -There is no denying that salvation is of God. He is the author of our salvation. He is the finisher of our salvation. It is He who gets all the credit for saving us. Our decision to approach God in humble repentance does not merit us anything. God is not under any obligation whatsoever to save us. He is compassionate. He is merciful. Our decision to repent is distinguished from His decision to save us. These two ideas cannot be equated. None of His plans are thwarted because He has given us the ability to either accept or reject Him. That is how He ordained things to be. Faith is the antithesis of works (Romans 4:4-5; 11:6). Atonement is applied freely to all who come to Christ by faith. It is God who regenerates us. The gospel itself has sufficient power to draw any sinner to God (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Hebrews 4:12). His grace is an absolute necessity in our conversion. The gospel is God's gracious offer of salvation to undeserving sinners. Faith is not meritorious, but the antithesis of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ's substitutionary atonement is not simply an example to follow, but was actually done as atonement for our sins.