Friday, January 26, 2018

Investigating The Assumption Of Mary

        The Assumption of Mary was not officially declared to be an article of the Roman Catholic faith until 1950 by Pope Pius XII:

        "The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” (Munificentissimus Deus)

        The Roman Catholic Catechism explains this dogma in the following manner:

        "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians." (CCC #966)

        Enoch (Genesis 5:24), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), and Jesus (Acts 1:9) are people recorded in Scripture as being bodily assumed into heaven. There is no such reference for Mary, which is admitted by Roman Catholic Apologist Karl Keating:

        "fundamentalists ask, where is the proof from Scripture? Strictly, there is none. The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as something definitely true is a guarantee that it is true" (Karl Keating, Catholicism And Fundamentalism, [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988], p. 275)

        The doctrine of Mary's assumption is apocryphal in origin:

        "The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus–narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing. The first Church author to speak of the bodily ascension of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours’." (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp. 209–210)

        The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that the first "authentic" references to the bodily assumption of Mary can be found in writings dated to the sixth through eight centuries:  

        “The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John, which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis, falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite. If we consult genuine writings in the East, it is mentioned in the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, St. Gregory of Tours (De gloria mart., I, iv) mentions it first. The sermons of St. Jerome and St. Augustine for this feast, however, are spurious.”

        The Assumption of Mary itself is just an assumption based on pious legends.

Who Is The Woman Of Revelation 12?

        The Roman Catholic Church has endorsed a plethora of unscriptural Marian dogmas, and has traditionally identified the "woman" figure mentioned in the text of Revelation 12:1-2 to be Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

        This faulty interpretation of Revelation 12 has been a springboard for the development of doctrines such as the Assumption of Mary, her being called the Queen of Heaven, and the Mother of the Church. It accounts for the existence of portraits with her being dressed in cosmic clothing standing over the world.

        Hence, the Church of Rome literally believes the "woman" figure mentioned in Revelation 12:1-2 to be Mary. Pope Pius XII wrote in an Apostolic Constitution, “The scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos” (Munificentissimus Deus).

        Note how Revelation 12:2 depicts this "woman" figure as experiencing birth pangs. Also, notice that a part of the curse of original sin is pain during childbirth (Genesis 3:16). The Roman Catholic interpretation of Revelation 12 is inconsistent because according to official Roman Catholic teaching, Mary was preserved from receiving a fallen nature:

        "Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (CCC # 491)

        Thus, she could not experience pain when bearing children. But this is clearly not the case, according to Revelation 12:2. "She" was clearly in distress. So Roman Catholics are being theologically inconsistent when interpreting the passage of Revelation 12 as being a reference to Mary. It is counterproductive. If she was sinless, then she would not have to undergo pain in labor.

        Does Mary have eagle's wings (Revelation 12:14)? Where in Scripture do we ever hear of Mary going to Egypt to be fed for 1,260 days? What about the fact that the flight of this "woman" took place after Jesus Christ's ascension to God's throne (Revelation 12:5-6)? More reasonable interpretations of this passage would identify this "woman" as either being Israel or the church. The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition says the following in regards to the "woman" of Revelation 12:

        "[12:1] The woman adorned with the sun, the moon, and the stars (images taken from Gn 37:9–10) symbolizes God’s people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (Rev 12:5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon (Rev 12:6, 13–17); cf. Is 50:1; 66:7; Jer 50:12."

        To take the imagery of Revelation and claim that it shows Mary's assumption is really stretching the intent of the passage.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Human Reason Ultimately Points To God

"It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to providence and deity."

Sir Francis Bacon, A Father Of The Scientific Method (1561-1626)

Nature Is Not Enough

"...contrary to what Hawking claims, physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions."

John Lennox

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eucharistic Miracles Are Proof Of Transubstantiation?

  • According To Official Roman Catholic Doctrine, Only The Substance Of The Consecrated Elements (Bread and Wine) Are Changed By The Priest:
          -"If any one...denies that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, Thirteen Session, Canon 2)
  • How Eucharistic Miracles Contradict The Roman Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist:
          -The cited excerpt from the Council of Trent expressly states that the appearance of the bread and wine remains the same, despite the substance being mysteriously transformed (into the literal fullness of Jesus Christ's flesh, blood, and divinity) by the priest. In other words, the Catholic definition of transubstantiation involves an unverifiable miracle to human reason. However, Eucharistic miracles are readily observable to the people who are present at the Mass ceremonies. This is extremely problematical for the Roman Catholic position because according to official Church doctrine, the appearance of the transubstantiated elements remains completely unchanged. A change in appearance is contrary to no change in appearance. So when apologists for the Church of Rome cite occurrences of Eucharistic miracles as proof for the veracity of their beliefs, their arguments are actually counterproductive because these so-called supernatural occasions do not fit the Roman Catholic definition of transubstantiation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Evidences Of Supernatural Creation

“What about instinct? Evolution has no answer: Even if the bat’s sophisticated radar system suddenly appeared by chance, who taught the first mutated bat to use it? How many millions of Arctic terns drowned before the first one, by chance, learned to navigate thousands of miles across the ocean? How many salmon lost their way in the ocean and never made it back to spawn before this uncanny instinct was developed? How many millions of spiders starved before the amazing mechanism for making webs suddenly chanced itself into existence—and who taught that unique mutated spider how to make a web? How many eggs of all manner of birds rotted before the instinct to hatch eggs developed, and how was it learned and passed on?"

Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church, p. 36

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Jerusalem Council And Sola Scriptura

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologists sometimes point to the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 as evidence against the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and to demonstrate that Peter acted in his official position as pope. This argument is articulated in the following manner by Scripture Catholic:

          "So we see that Peter is the one who rules definitively on the question of doctrine, and all kept silent. His bishops then spoke in favor of his teaching, acknowledging that Peter was indeed the authority in the Church. No one questions Peter’s judgment. Then we have James who speaks in favor of Peter’s teaching by giving an opinion on a pastoral issue. Hardly a challenge to the authority of Peter...Acts 15 disproves the doctrine of sola Scriptura. If Peter would have relied upon the Scriptures, he would have concluded that Gentiles had to be circumcised, since all the Patriarchs and prophets were, the apostles were, and even Jesus was. But Peter, by virtue of his authority, decides the issue as the chief shepherd of the Church (and the decision was not based on the Scriptures)."

          Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders. Peter is a part of the group, but nowhere given any special position or recognition (Acts 15:2). The apostles and elders assembled to resolve the dispute (Acts 15:6). Peter is nowhere said to be in a unique or isolated position. He does give a number of remarks, but his words were not treated as the final court of authority. James shows that the words of Peter are in harmony with the prophets. He also provides his own thoughts on the matter. If the Apostle Peter's word was decisive in this council, then there would have been no need for James to make his thoughts known.

          The Jerusalem Council (which addressed the issue of circumcision and claims of it being necessary for salvation) had subjugated itself to the supreme authority of Scripture. Notice how the text of Acts 15:15-18 begins, "The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written..." That statement is clearly an appeal to the Scriptures as the final source of authority in a theological dispute, and is a quotation of Amos 9:11-12.

          The theme of the council centers around the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Gospel. It is de-emphasizing Jewish ceremonial laws such as circumcision. The Scripture teaches circumcision of the heart (Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 9:25-26; Romans 2:28-29). Also, note the fact that God had reckoned the righteousness of faith to Abraham (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:9-11) prior to his circumcision (Genesis 17:10). Circumcision was never necessary for salvation, even though it was a God-ordained act. So the Jerusalem Council had indeed based its rulings on Scripture.

          The doctrine of Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is the ultimate standard of authority in spiritual matters (not that Scripture is the only authority). The doctrine is not a denial of the role or importance of godly leaders in the church. We are simply saying that they are subject to the judgment of Scripture. Thus, a church council is not incompatible with a Sola Scriptura church model. If anything at all, the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 is only supportive of the supremacy of scriptural authority.

          It was James who had presided over the Jerusalem Council, not "Pope Peter." He said, "It is my judgement..." (Acts 15:19). It was he who had made the final declarations of the matter, in accordance with Scripture. This event was not based on the "Tradition of the Fathers," either. It was not governed by an ex-cathedra statement uttered by the pope. This text says nothing concerning papal supremacy. In fact, an epistle which was written and circulated to the churches as a result of the heresies promoted by the Judaizers made no mention of "Pope Peter" at all (Acts 15:23-29). Verse 22 says, "Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church." Verse 23 says, "The apostles and elders, your brothers." The primitive Christian congregations were governed by pluralities of elders, not by a single human arbitrator headquartered in Rome.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Mary Is Not The Ark Of The Covenant

          “Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is "the dwelling of God...with men." (CCC #2676)
           
          If Mary automatically inherits the title "Ark of the Covenant" for the reason that she once bore our Lord Jesus Christ in her womb, then would it not logically follow that all Christians can rightly be given the same title, since our bodies are also God's dwelling place (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20)?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

An Exegetical Analysis Of Hebrews 10:10-18 And Roman Catholic Eucharist Theology

  • Discussion:
          -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 that do not fit with this theology:

          First of all, we are told that we have been sanctified by means of 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 work is still in progress.

          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 do accomplish anything to a person's benefit. Why would we need an ordained ministerial priesthood to offer up Jesus Christ as a sacrifice when He has already given Himself up as a ransom for sin and so rendered ritual sacrifices to be of no avail? This point is articulated more explicitly in verse 18. 

           Jesus Christ has ascended into the full presence of God (Hebrews 10:12). He is, in the present tense, waiting to subdue His enemies at the perfect timing (Hebrews 10:13). Thus, He is not coming down from heaven at the command of a parish priest. Nor can His physical body be located in thousands of different Roman Catholic congregations at the same time.

           People who place their faith in Christ do not need any of the sacrifices performed during the Mass because they have been eternally perfected by His single sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 10:14). That alone covers us completely and entirely. 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. What purpose then could an ordained ministerial priesthood serve?

Monday, January 1, 2018

C.S. Lewis On Human Reason

"All possible knowledge, then, depends on the validity of reasoning. If the feeling of certainty which we express by words like must be and therefore and since is a real perception of how things outside our minds really “must” be, well and good. But if this certainty is merely a feeling in our own minds and not a genuine insight into realities beyond them—if it merely represents the way our minds happen to work—then we can have no knowledge. Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.

It follows that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have to be reaching by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished…It would be an argument which proved that no arguments was sound—a proof that there are no such things as proofs—which is nonsense."

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, p. 23-24