Saturday, March 10, 2018

Defending The Traditional Dating Of The New Testament Books

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Liberal critics have attempted to cast doubt on the claims of Christianity by insisting that the books of the New Testament were written by pseudonymous authors hundreds of years after traditionally ascribed dates. It is claimed that the early church intentionally omitted writings which have now been referred to as lost books of the Bible. However, the vast majority of apocryphal Christian literature came long after the apostles were deceased. It has been said that the New Testament is so frequently cited by the early Christians that all but eleven verses appear in their writings. 
  • Early External Source Verification Of The Letters Of Paul:
          -"Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15-16)
           *Peter assigns the same status to Paul's letters as the Old Testament. Both are considered by him to be inspired Scripture. It is also possible that he included the four gospels when he referred to "the other Scriptures." Paul's epistles were already being circulated around the Middle East and Asia Minor as the apostles lived.
  • External Source Verification For Luke And Acts:
          -"And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house." (Luke 10:7)
          -"For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18)
           *The Apostle Paul quoted from Luke's gospel in 1 Timothy 5:18, which gives reason to believe that both the one gospel and Acts were written at early dates by the traditionally ascribed author.
  • Early Manuscript Fragment Of John's Gospel Narrative:
          -We have a fragment of John 18 preserved on papyrus that has been dated to roughly A.D. 100.
  • On The Historical Reliability Of The Text Of The Gospels:
          -"Even liberal bishop John A. T. Robinson argued in his Redating the New Testament that the entire New Testament was written and in circulation between 40 and 65 A.D. And liberal Peter Stuhlmacher of Tubingen, trained in Bultmann’s critical methodology of form criticism, says, “As a Western scripture scholar, I am inclined to doubt these [Gospel] stories, but as historian, I am obligated to take them as reliable…The biblical texts as they stand are the best hypothesis we have until now to explain what really happened.” (
  • Challenging The Assertion That Athanasius Is The Earliest Known Source To Provide A Full List Of New Testament Books In His Festal Letter In A.D. 367:
          -"So too our Lord Jesus Christ…sent his apostles as priests carrying well-wrought trumpets. First Matthew sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel, Mark also, and Luke, and John, each gave forth a strain on their priestly trumpets. Peter moreover sounds with the two trumpets of his Epistles; James also and Jude. Still the number is incomplete, and John gives forth the trumpet sound through his Epistles [and Apocalypse]; and Luke while describing the deeds of the apostles. Latest of all, moreover, that one comes who said, “I think that God has set us forth as the apostles last of all” (1 Cor 4:9), and thundering on the fourteen trumpets of his Epistles he threw down, even to their very foundations, the wall of Jericho, that is to say, all the instruments of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers. (Origen, Hom. Josh. 7.1, as cited in Metzger, The New Testament Canon, 139, cited by Michael J. Kruger)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hebrew Verb "Tenses" And Messianic Prophecy

Sometimes it is claimed that the messianic prophecies cited by Christians are in the past tense. Therefore, it is said, they cannot refer to a future, coming Messiah.

This is an invalid argument. There is no such thing as “tense” in biblical Hebrew. (Modern Hebrew, on the other hand, does have tenses.) Biblical Hebrew is not a “tense” language. Modern grammarians recognize that it is an “aspectual” language. This means that the same form of a verb can be translated as either past, present, or future depending on the context and various grammatical cues. The most well known grammatical cue is the “vav-consecutive” that makes an imperfective verb to refer to the past.

Therefore it is wrong to say that Isaiah 53 or other prophecies are in the “past tense.” Biblical Hebrew has no tenses. There are many examples of what is wrongly called the “past tense” form (properly called “the perfective” or “perfect”) being used for future time.

This fact was recognized by the medieval commentators as well as by modern grammarians, as shown by the following citations.

Medieval Jewish grammarian and commentator David Kimchi on the prophets’ use of the perfect for future events:

“The matter is as clear as though it had already passed.”

David Kimchi, Sefer Mikhlol. Cited in Waltke, Bruce K. and O’Connor, Michael Patrick. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), p. 464 n. 45. They reference Leslie McCall, The Enigma of the Hebrew Verbal System: Solutions From Ewald to the Present (Sheffield: Almond, 1982), p. 8.

Rabbi Isaac ben Yedaiah (13th century)

[The rabbis] of blessed memory followed, in these words of theirs, in the paths of the prophets who speak of something which will happen in the future in the language of the past. Since they saw in prophetic vision that which was to occur in the future, they spoke about it in the past tense and testified firmly that it had happened, to teach the certainty of his [God’s] words – may he be blessed – and his positive promise that can never change and his beneficent message that will not be altered.

Saperstein, Marc. “The Works of R. Isaac b. Yedaiah.” Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1977, pp. 481–82. Cited in Daggers of Faith by Robert Chazan, Berkeley: UC Press, 1989, p. 87.

From the standard grammar of Biblical Hebrew, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (section 106n, pp. 312–313):

More particularly the uses of the perfect may be distinguished as follows: – …To express facts which are undoubtedly imminent, and, therefore in the imagination of the speaker, already accomplished (perfectum confidentiae), e.g., Nu. 17:27, behold, we perish ,we are undone, we are all undone. Gn. 30:13, Is. 6:5 (I am undone), Pr. 4:2…. This use of the perfect occurs most frequently in prophetic language (perfectum propheticum). The prophet so transports himself in imagination into the future that he describes the future event as if it had been already seen or heard by him, e.g. Is. 5:13 therefore my people are gone into captivity; 9:1ff.,10:28,11:9…; 19:7, Jb. 5:20, 2 Ch. 20:37. Not infrequently the imperfect interchanges with such perfects either in the parallel member or further on in the narrative.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Is The Roman Catholic Church The Pillar And Ground Of The Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)?

          "1 Tim. 3:15 – Paul says the apostolic Church (not Scripture) is the pillar and foundation of the truth. But for the Church to be the pinnacle and foundation of truth, she must be protected from teaching error, or infallible. She also must be the Catholic Church, whose teachings on faith and morals have not changed for 2,000 years. God loves us so much that He gave us a Church that infallibly teaches the truth so that we have the fullness of the means of salvation in His only begotten Son." (

          Nowhere did the Apostle Paul say anything in this verse, or in context, about the office of pope, Vatican, or an episcopal council. This verse does not even formulate a distinction between the classes of clergy and laity. So Roman Catholic apologists are engaging in eisegesis here. There is no exclusion of congregational membership involved here ("household of God"). Has the entire Christian church therefore been endowed the gift of infallibility by the power of the Holy Spirit? This was written to Timothy who was is in the city of Ephesus, not Rome. Is Ephesus therefore the "pillar and ground of the truth?"

          Notice that the Apostle Paul states that he is writing so that we may know how to conduct ourselves in the church. Furthermore, notice that he appeals to his own writing as the standard of authority. In other words, Paul is writing to Timothy (Scripture) so that he would know how to behave in the household of God. This epistle is to help us in remembering apostolic traditions. Scripture is what defines our conduct. Scripture is to function as the ultimate standard of authority, especially in light of the fact that the souls of the apostles have departed into the spiritual realm. The purpose of this letter was (and still is) to tell the church how to behave in his absence. This passage actually supports Sola Scriptura.

          It is fallacious to equate the church that supports and upholds the truth with the truth that it upholds. The "truth" that we have been commissioned to preach and defend is the gospel message. God's Word is "truth" (John 14:14-17). This title is not simply to be reserved for any random religious organization. God's church is simply the instrument by which the true gospel is supported and proclaimed. The church is the upholder, not the essence, of truth. The church is the custodian of the truth, not the source of truth itself. Ironically, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apologists resort to this text as a defense of their respective groups, yet at the same time maintain contradictory doctrine.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

An Exegetical Case For Christ's Imputed Righteousness Based On 2 Corinthians 5:21

        "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

        The person who experiences genuine conversion of heart through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit will by definition become a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and thereby ceases to view the things of this world in carnal terms. We throw away the “old man” when we abandon our former sinful lifestyles (Ephesians 4:24). All of this takes place as a consequence of the Holy Spirit indwelling Himself in us.

        In the context of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, the word “reconcile” describes resolving hostility between two enemy parties. The problem is not with God. It is on our end with our sinful nature which we inherited from Adam. Reconciliation involves a change of heart and mind that only God Himself can accomplish on our behalf through the propitiatory work of Christ (Romans 5:9-10).

        The Lord has appointed all members of His church to function as His representatives on earth by entrusting to us the “ministry of reconciliation,” which is the preaching of the gospel. It is the proclamation of the good news that the Son of God has forever put away sin through His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. He is by no means an ordinary man, but is God in the flesh.

        To not impute sin against us means that God has pardoned us (Romans 4:4-7; 2 Corinthians 5:19). The present tense verbs found in 2 Corinthians 5:19 clearly denote continuous action (1 John 1:9). “The ministry of reconciliation” consists of the “ambassadors for Christ,” which are all the people who have been truly born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a firmly established principle of Scripture that God does the reconciling work, not us (v. 18). Therefore, the text of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 reinforces the concept of justification by faith alone.

        The text being discussed reveals three aspects of imputed righteousness, which are 1.) God imputes not our iniquity, 2.) sin is imputed to Christ, and 3.) His foreign righteousness is imputed to our account. Moreover, it is important to highlight the symmetrical correspondence of the wording found in verses nineteen and twenty-one: “…not counting their trespasses against them…he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”

        In other words, the spotless Lamb of God was “made sin” (i.e. our sins are not imputed against us), and His righteousness (i.e. the righteousness of God) was credited to us. Christ is our merciful substitute, in the same manner that the Apostle Paul desired that any of Onesimus’ (Philemon’s runaway slave) possible wrongdoings be charged against him instead (Philemon 18). From the perspective of justification, this text tells us that our righteousness is based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-25). From the viewpoint of sanctification, His righteousness is applied to us daily.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Church Fathers On The Perspicuity Of Scripture

Irenaeus (130-200) "For no question can be solved by means of another which itself awaits solution; nor, in the opinion of those possessed of sense, can an ambiguity be explained by means of another ambiguity, or enigmas by means of another greater enigma, but things of such character receive their solution from those which are manifest and consistent and clear." Ante-Nicene Fathers: Vol I, Against Heresies, 2.10.1 "..all Scripture, which has been given to us by God, shall be found by us perfectly consisted; and the parables shall harmonise with those passages which are perfectly plain; and those statements the meaning of which is clear, shall serve to explain the parables; and through the many diversified utterances (of Scripture) there shall be heard one harmonious melody in us, praising in hymns that God who created all things." Ibid.

Tertullian (160-220) "Now, if even those purposes of God against cities, and nations, and kings, which are merely temporal, local and personal in their character, have been proclaimed so clearly in prophecy, how is it to be supposed that those dispensations of His which are eternal and of universal concern to the human race, should be void of all real light in themselves? The grander they are, the clearer should be their announcement, in order that their superior greatness might be believed. And I apprehend that God cannot possibly have ascribed to Him either envy, or guile, or inconsistency, or artifice, by help of which evil qualities it is that all schemes of unusual grandeur are litigiously promulgated." [I]ANF: Vol III, "On the Resurrection of the Flesh", Ch.21.

Basil of Caesarea (329-379) "Whatever seems to be spoken ambiguously or obscurely in some places of holy Scripture, is cleared up by what is plain and evident in other places" Regulas Brevius Tractatas, Interrogatio 267 Translated by William Whittaker.

Ambrose (339-397) "In most places Paul so explains his meaning by his own words, that he who discourses on them can find nothing to add of his own; and if he wishes to say anything, must rather perform the office of a grammarian than a discourser." Epistola XXXVII, PL 16:1084

Chrysostom (349-407) "let us follow the direction of Sacred Scripture in the interpretation it gives of itself, provided we don't get completely absorbed with the concreteness of the words, but realise that our limitations are the reason for the concreteness of the language. Human senses, you see, would never be able to grasp what is said if they had not the benefit of such great considerateness." Homilies on Genesis " Commenting on v. 4 of Psalm 45: "Do you see how Scripture interprets itself, showing the victory to be intellectual and spiritual?"

Jerome (347-420) "This passage to the ignorant, and to those who are unaccustomed to meditate on Holy Scripture, and who neither know nor use it, does appear at first sight to favour your opinion. But when you look into it, the difficulty soon disappears. And when you compare passages of Scripture with others, that the Holy Spirit may not seem to contradict Himself.." Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers 2: Vol VI St. Jerome Against the Pelagians, Book I.14

"...let us call upon the Lord, probe the depths of His sacred writings, and be guided in our interpretation by other testimonies from Holy Writ. Whatever we cannot fathom in the deep recess of the Old Testament, we shall penetrate and explain from the depth of the New Testament in the roar of God's cataracts--His prophets and apostles."Fathers of the Church Vol.57 The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol 2, Homily 92, p 246

The above excerpts from patristic writers were taken from Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, by David T. King and William Webster, found on an online forum.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Does James 2:24 Teach That We Are Justified By Faith And Works?

            "You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (James 2:24)

            The Scriptures emphatically declare that works cannot justify us in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul says that we are justified "apart from works" and that God justifies people who "do not work but believe" (Romans 4:2-8). He elsewhere says, "not by works," (Ephesians 2:8-9), "not by works of righteousness which we have done," (Titus 3:5-7), and we are saved, "not according to our works" (2 Timothy 1:9). So the text of James 2:24 cannot be teaching us that justification is merited in part by our good works. The surrounding context of this verse, as well as the rest of Scripture, plays a key role here.

            In context, James clearly occupies the word justify to mean vindication, or proven. He does not argue against justification by faith alone, but rather, a salvation that stands without any good works to accompany it. In other words, one's lifestyle must be consistent with his profession of faith. Faith will express itself in good works because the heart has been regenerated by the Spirit of God. If our Christian testimony is not supported with evidence of good character, then the unbelieving world will have no reason to deem our witness for Christ trustworthy or reliable.

            What James is saying is that we demonstrate the reality of our faith by good works. Are we going to merely talk the spiritual talk or actually going to walk the spiritual walk (James 2:14-17)? Are we only going to be hearers of the Word or doers of the Word (James 1:21-22; 26-27)? The question that James addresses is, "Can such faith save a man?" It is not enough to mentally accept the fact that God exists (James 2:19-20). Therefore, James distinguishes between two different kinds of faith. The demons acknowledge that whatever God says is the truth, but are not in fellowship with Him because they lack trust.

            Works are the product or result of a genuinely saving faith. A converted heart by definition will result in a changed life of holiness. James 2:18 especially echoes this theme ("a man may me...I will show you..."). The language of vindication is also found in James 2:24 ("You see then..."). James provides two biblical examples to illustrate his point on the relationship between faith and works (James 2:21-25). The faith of Abraham and Rehab was tested and shown to be true. Faith was "perfected" in that it reached its design or end. An analogy is employed to make the point that faith and works cannot to be separated from each other (James 2:26). The Christian walk is one that glorifies God.

            James is not hereby discussing themes such as the blood of Christ or how one gets right with God, as does Paul (Romans 5:1-11). James occupies the term "justify" in the sense of vindication, which is employed in the same manner elsewhere throughout Scripture (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; 16:15; Romans 3:4). He focuses on Genesis 15:6 from an evidential perspective. The Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians deals with the universal scope of man's depravity and condemnation by God's Law, whereas James addresses the narrower scope of hypocrisy within the church. Paul focuses on justification "in His sight" (Romans 3:20; 4:2).

    Saturday, February 10, 2018

    On The Reliability Of The Text Of The New Testament

    "About the middle of the last century it was confidently asserted by a very influential school of thought that some of the most important books of the New Testament, including the Gospels and the Acts, did not exist before the thirties of the second century AD.16 This conclusion was the result not so much of historical evidence as of philosophical presuppositions. Even then there was sufficient evidence to show how unfounded these theories were, as Lightfoot, Tischendorf, Tregelles and others demonstrated in their writings; but the amount of such evidence available in our own day is so much greater and more conclusive that a first-century date for most of the New Testament writings cannot reasonably be denied, no matter what our philosophical presuppositions may be.

    The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt. It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians." Somehow or other, there are people who regard a `sacred book' as ipso facto under suspicion, and demand much more corroborative evidence for such a work than they would for an ordinary secular or pagan writing. From the viewpoint of the historian, the same standards must be applied to both. But we do not quarrel with those who want more evidence for the New Testament than for other writings; firstly, because the universal claims which the New Testament makes upon mankind are so absolute, and the character and works of its chief Figure so unparalleled, that we want to be as sure of its truth as we possibly can; and secondly, because in point of fact there is much more evidence for the New Testament than for other ancient writings of comparable date.

    There are in existence over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part. The best and most important of these go back to somewhere about AD 350, the two most important being the Codex Vaticanus, the chief treasure of the Vatican Library in Rome, and the well-known Codex Sinaiticus, which the British Government purchased from the Soviet Government for £loo,ooo on Christmas Day, 1933, and which is now the chief treasure of the British Museum. Two other important early mss in this country are the Codex Alexandrinus, also in the British Museum, written in the fifth century, and the Codex Bezae, in Cambridge University Library, written in the fifth or sixth century, and containing the Gospels and Acts in both Greek and Latin. Perhaps we can appreciate how wealthy the New Testament is in manuscript attestation if we compare the textual material for other ancient historical works. For Caesar's Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 Bc) there are several extant mss, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some goo years later than Caesar's day. Of the 142 books of the Roman History of Livy (59 BC-AD 17) only thirty-five survive; these are known to us from not more than twenty mss of any consequence, only one of which, and that containing fragments of Books iii-vi, is as old as the fourth century. Of the fourteen books of the Histories of Tacitus (c. AD 100) only four and a half survive; of the sixteen books of his Annals, ten survive in full and two in part. The text of these extant portions of his two great historical works depends entirely on two mss, one of the ninth century and one of the eleventh. The extant mss of his minor works (Dialogus de Oratoribus, Agricola, Germania) all descend from a codex of the tenth century. The History of Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) is known to us from eight Mss, the earliest belonging to c. AD 900, and a few papyrus scraps, belonging to about the beginning of the Christian era. The same is true of the History of Herodotus (c. 488-428 BC). Yet no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest mss of their works which are of any use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals.

    But how different is the situation of the New Testament in this respect! In addition to the two excellent mss of the fourth century mentioned above, which are the earliest of some thousands known to us, considerable fragments remain of papyrus copies of books of the New Testament dated from ioo to 200 years earlier still. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, the existence of which was made public in 1931, consist of portions of eleven papyrus codices, three of which contained most of the New Testament writings. One of these, containing the four Gospels with Acts, belongs to the first half of the third century; another, containing Paul's letters to churches and the Epistle to the Hebrews, was copied at the beginning of the third century; the third, containing Revelation, belongs to the second half of the same century. A more recent discovery consists of some papyrus fragments dated by papyrological experts not later than AD 150, published in Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and other Early Christian Papyri, by H. I. Bell and T. C. Skeat (1935). These fragments contain what has been thought by some to be portions of a fifth Gospel having strong affinities with the canonical four; but much more probable is the view expressed in The Times Literary Supplement for 25 April 1935, `that these fragments were written by someone who had the four Gospels before him and knew them well; that they did not profess to be an independent Gospel; but were paraphrases of the stories and other matter in the Gospels designed for explanation and instruction, a manual to teach people the Gospel stories'.

    Earlier still is a fragment of a papyrus codex containing John 18:31-33, 37-38, now in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, dated on palaeographical grounds around AD 130, showing that the latest of the four Gospels, which was written, according to tradition, at Ephesus between AD 90 and loo, was circulating in Egypt within about forty years of its composition (if, as is most likely, this papyrus originated in Egypt, where it was acquired in 1917). It must be regarded as being, by half a century, the earliest extant fragment of the New Testament.

    A more recently discovered papyrus manuscript of the same Gospel, while not so early as the Rylands papyrus, is incomparably better preserved; this is the Papyrus Bodmer II, whose discovery was announced by the Bodmer Library of Geneva in 1956; it was written about AD 200, and contains the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John with but one lacuna (of twenty-two verses), and considerable portions of the last seven chapters.19 Attestation of another kind is provided by allusions to and quotations from the New Testament books in other early writings. The authors known as the Apostolic Fathers wrote chiefly between AD 9o and 16o, and in their works we find evidence for their acquaintance with most of the books of the New Testament. In three works whose date is probably round about AD 100 - the `Epistle of Barnabas, written perhaps in Alexandria; the Didache, or `Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, produced somewhere in Syria or Palestine; and the letter sent to the Corinthian church by Clement, bishop of Rome, about AD 96 - we find fairly certain quotations from the common tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, from Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews,l Peter, and possible quotations from other books of the New Testament. In the letters written by Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, as he journeyed to his martyrdom in Rome in AD 115, there are reasonably identifiable quotations from Matthew, John, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and possible allusions to mark, Luke, Acts, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Hebrews, and 1 Peter. His younger contemporary, Polycarp, in a letter to the Philippians (c. 120) quotes from the common tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, from Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, i Peter, and i John. And so we might go on through the writers of the second century, amassing increasing evidence of their familiarity with and recognition of the authority of the New Testament writings. So far as the Apostolic Fathers are concerned, the evidence is collected and weighed in a work called The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, recording the findings of a committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology in 1905.

    Nor is it only in orthodox Christian writers that we find evidence of this sort. It is evident from the recently discovered writings of the Gnostic school of Valentinus that before the middle of the second century most of the New Testament books were as well known and as fully venerated in that heretical circle as they were in the Catholic Church.20 The study of the kind of attestation found in mss and quotations in later writers is connected with the approach known as Textual Criticism.21 This is a most important and fascinating branch of study, its object being to determine as exactly as possible from the available evidence the original words of the documents in question. It is easily proved by experiment that it is difficult to copy out a passage of any considerable length without making one or two slips at least. When we have documents like our New Testament writings copied and recopied thousands of times, the scope for copyists' errors is so enormously increased that it is surprising there are no more than there actually are. Fortunately, if the great number of MSS increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice.

    To sum up, we may quote the verdict of the late Sir Frederic Kenyon, a scholar whose authority to make pronouncements on ancient mss was second to none:

    The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."

    F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

    Monday, February 5, 2018

    Philosophical Contradictions In Transgender Worldview

    "If gender is a social construct, how can gender identity be innate and immutable? How can one’s identity with respect to a social construct be determined by biology in the womb? How can one’s identity be unchangeable (immutable) with respect to an ever-changing social construct? And if gender identity is innate, how can it be “fluid”? The challenge for activists is to offer a plausible definition of gender and gender identity that is independent of bodily sex.

    Is there a gender binary or not? Somehow, it both does and does not exist, according to transgender activists. If the categories of “man” and “woman” are objective enough that people can identify as, and be, men and women, how can gender also be a spectrum, where people can identify as, and be, both, or neither, or somewhere in between?

    What does it even mean to have an internal sense of gender? What does gender feel like? What meaning can we give to the concept of sex or gender—and thus what internal “sense” can we have of gender—apart from having a body of a particular sex? Apart from having a male body, what does it “feel like” to be a man? Apart from having a female body, what does it “feel like” to be a woman? What does it feel like to be both a man and a woman, or to be neither? The challenge for the transgender activist is to explain what these feelings are like, and how someone could know if he or she “feels like” the opposite sex, or neither, or both.

    Even if trans activists could answer these questions about feelings, that still wouldn’t address the matter of reality. Why should feeling like a man—whatever that means—make someone a man? Why do our feelings determine reality on the question of sex, but on little else? Our feelings don’t determine our age or our height. And few people buy into Rachel Dolezal’s claim to identify as a black woman, since she is clearly not. If those who identify as transgender are the sex with which they identify, why doesn’t that apply to other attributes or categories of being? What about people who identify as animals, or able-bodied people who identify as disabled? Do all of these self-professed identities determine reality? If not, why not? And should these people receive medical treatment to transform their bodies to accord with their minds? Why accept transgender “reality,” but not trans-racial, trans-species, and trans-abled reality? The challenge for activists is to explain why a person’s “real” sex is determined by an inner “gender identity,” but age and height and race and species are not determined by an inner sense of identity."

    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    Is The Roman Catholic Eucharist Logical?

    • Allowing The Roman Catholic Catechism To Speak:
              -"In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which 'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out." (CCC # 1364)
              -"By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity." (CCC # 1413)
    • Consider The Words Of Former Presbyterian Turned Roman Catholic Scott Hahn Concerning His First Encounter With The Eucharist:
              -"Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. I watched and listened as the priest pronounced the words of consecration and elevated the host. And I confess, the last drop of doubt drained away that moment. I looked and said, "My Lord and my God." As the people began going forward to receive communion, I literally began to drool, "Lord, I want you. I want communion more fully with you. You've come into my heart. You've become my personal Savior and Lord, but now I think You want to come onto my tongue and into my stomach, and into my body as well as my soul until this communion is complete." ("Rome Sweet Home")
    • A Detailed Logical Critique Of Roman Catholic Transubstantiation: 
              1.) Why would somebody want to eat human flesh and drink human blood? Is not cannibalism a sign of divine judgement (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Ezekiel 5:10)?

              2.) Scripture defines the "gospel" as believing from the heart in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). How come the eucharist is never included in a biblical presentation of the gospel message? How come the earliest church creeds mention nothing about Roman Catholic transubstantiation as being an essential article of the Christian faith?

              3.) How does the alleged power of transubstantiation not imply that the authority of the parish priest is superior to that Jesus Christ? Does he somehow become the creator of the Creator?

              4.) If we must interpret the bread of life discourse in John 6 literally because our Lord Jesus Christ had stated six times to "eat His flesh and drink His blood," then why must we accept what Catholics say when they claim that the term "thousand years" in Revelation 20 is symbolic, yet repeated six times, in support of amillennialism? How does repetition translate into literalness?

              5.) Did not Jesus Christ literally say that all who eat His flesh and drink His blood will receive everlasting life (John 6:54)? Would that include unrepentant pagans and atheists? If we are going to be consistent with the literalist interpretation of the Bread of Life Discourse, then should people who eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood (consecrated elements of the Mass) never physically hunger and thirst again (John 6:35)?

              6.) If Jesus' use of the Greek term "phago" (meaning to gnaw, chew, indicates a slow process) in John 6:54-58 decisively proves that we must interpret His words literally, then how come the disciples did not start consuming His flesh and drinking His blood right away?

              7.) If the wine at the Mass becomes the blood of Christ upon consecration by the priest, then why not use it as a substitute when blood shortages occur?

              8.) What biblical basis exists to justify the notion that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass are "one in the same" (CCC #1367)? How can this be? What Scripture teaches that the work of Christ is "ongoing" (CCC #1405)? Why would the atonement sacrifice of Christ need to be "re-presented?"

              9.) If the host is truly the literal body of Jesus Christ, then should we expect that the bread wafer never becomes stale, moldy, or goes through the process of decomposition (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27)?

              10.) Would a Roman Catholic priest be willing to consume the consecrated elements, if he knew that they had been saturated in poison (prior to the event of transubstantiation)?

              11.) Did not Jesus Christ specifically instruct us to serve a cup of wine with the bread during communion (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29)? How come the Roman Catholic Church was not consistent with apostolic practice from the twelfth century until changes were made during the Second Vatican Council in 1970? 

              12.) The Roman Catholic Mass was organized and carried out completely in the Latin language from 1570 to 1965, leaving the average attendee clueless as to what was being said and done by the parish priest during the worship gatherings. After the change in procedure by the pope, the first Catholic congregations to hear the services in their vernacular tongue were the Irish. Note, however, that the Apostle Paul spoke negatively in regard to speaking in an unknown tongue in the context of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:19). If leaving spoken tongues in the church undeciphered was not a good idea by reason of such bringing about no edification, then why would it have been reasonable for the Church of Rome to conduct all its worship services in Latin? Why were they all conducted in a language that no one could understand in the first place?

              13.) If transubstantiation is true, then how is it that the Corinthian Christians, who had abused the Lord's Supper by treating it as a mere feast, had managed to become intoxicated with the wine (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)? Where was the change in substance that time?

              14.) If "this is my body" and "this is my blood" literally means that the bread and wine were transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, then does "this cup is the new testament" literally mean that the literal cup becomes a literal covenant (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:25)? Is the Lord literally our Rock (Psalm 18:31)? The word "is" can mean "this is representative of" or "this symbolizes."

              15.) If the Lord's Supper was truly a Mass service, then how could Jesus be sitting there at the same time proclaiming the bread and wine to be His literal flesh and blood? He would be sitting in a chair while holding Himself in the air with His own two hands. Would we not have an illogical scenario of Jesus Christ offering Himself for our sins prior to the appointed time of His crucifixion?

              16.) If the human body of Christ is located in heaven at God the Father's right hand, then how can it be at the same time in thousands of different places at Masses across the globe?

              17.) If transubstantiation took place during the Lord's Supper, then would that not imply Christ had two physical bodies?

              18.) If the communion wafer is supposed to look identical after transubstantiation into the literal body of Christ, then why not also believe a man when he claims to have the ability to transform us into inanimate objects such as iron (our appearances remain the same, yet our substances are drastically altered)? Should we believe the pope if he had just so happened to pronounce an ex-cathedra statement declaring that priests have the ability to transform squares into triangles, or both (without a perceptible change)?

              19.) How do advocates of transubstantiation explain the fact that Jesus Christ ate the same bread and drank from the same cup that the Church of Rome claims became His actual body and blood (Matthew 26:27-29; Mark 14:23-25; Luke 22:7-16)? Did He eat His own flesh and drink His own blood? Why would Christ need to do so when He was already sinless (Hebrews 7:26-27)? Did not Jesus Christ say He used figurative language on the night of the Last Supper (John 16:25-30)?

              20.) If transubstantiation is true, then how can we know whether the apostles were not simply misled by their senses when they saw the resurrected Christ?

    Happiness According To Scripture

            Many people, including Christians, have wondered what it means to find satisfaction in life. In fact, most have never encountered the rightful source of our happiness, which is God Himself. Our service to Him ought to ignite pleasure and joy. It is quite possible that these individuals have undergone disease, disorder, ill-treatment, or simply yearn for an inherent sense of dignity. Whatever the case, the good news as prescribed by the gospel can alleviate us of sorrows prompted by physical, psychological, and spiritual reasons (Philippians 4:19). It will help the person who desires righteousness to view the glass as half full rather than half empty. The gospel can liberate the confined soul by enabling the mind to rest assured in the fact that God is ultimately in control of life. What does it mean to have true happiness? Where should our happiness originate? Can we be happy without holiness? How we answer these questions determines what we focus on in life.

            Happiness is the pleasurable emotion which occurs when a person is satisfied overall. It is a feeling of delight. It is a feeling of gratitude. It is a feeling of assurance. It is a feeling of appeasement. It is a feeling of consolation. It is a feeling of purposefulness. Happiness is a feeling of livelihood. Happiness is a feeling of perseverance (James 1:3-4). Happiness is a feeling of confidence. It involves trust. It involves faithfulness. Scripture occupies the words happiness and joy synonymously. In other words, they recognize no distinction between the meanings of both words. They are inextricably united (Psalm 68:3; 144:15). Thus, being joyful is the same as being happy. It involves being glad. It involves rejoicing, even during times of hardship and heartache (Romans 5:3-5). It entails praising the God who has lovingly set the universe in order. True happiness as defined according to biblical principles involves glorifying God, especially knowing that He has reconciled us to Himself from iniquity through the atoning work of His Son Jesus Christ. The foundational aspect of happiness is that it is strictly a gift (Romans 14:17). If God is for us, then who or what can be against us? Is not the love of God everything?

            It would be appropriate to address the question regarding the proper source of human happiness. Should our joy be determined by mere circumstance, or should it be centered on a divine Person? Indeed, the truth shall set us free (John 8:31-32). Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6). God's Word is the truth by which the innermost part of our being is sanctified (John 17:14-17). It is our worldview that shapes our perception of reality. If we love, know, and serve our Creator from the heart, then we know that we belong to Him (1 John 2:3-4). If we believe from the heart that God had resurrected the Christ from the grave, then we shall be justified in His sight. It is through receiving the message of the gospel that we have been deemed children of God. It needs to be believed with all our heart. It also needs to be believed with our entire mind because it is the gateway of the heart. We should be placing our trust in God. It is He who redeems us. God sustains us through moments of pain, desolation, distress, and suffering. We can learn to experience authentic joy only when we realize that God's grace is sufficient for us. His strength is complemented during the times of our weakness. This is the meaning of leaning on Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-28).

            Scripture informs us of two different, diametrically opposed kinds of happiness. One springs forth from engaging in fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), whereas the latter comes from partaking in fleshly desires (Hebrews 11:25). Allowing sin to have dominion over our lives is futile, and dangerous to the soul (Galatians 6:7-9). It is unprofitable for us. Fulfilling sinful lusts can only result in feeling finite, temporary satisfaction. In other words, surrendering our will to sin can only result in us feeling a self-deceptive perversion of happiness. Sin is defined scripturally to mean the breaking of God's commandments (1 John 3:4). It is a failure to live up to reality. It is a failure to appreciate the good things that God has designed for us. A sin addiction necessarily involves a repetitive cycle of engaging in that specific transgression. It is pointless to continue in that lifestyle because it can never satisfy the longings of the human soul. That is selfishness and idolatry. We cannot resort to a finite source to quench a longing that demands infinite fulfillment. We cannot have lasting happiness and fulfillment apart from God. It is only through Him that we even consistently adhere to objective moral laws. It is only through Him that we can have peace and order. Joy is not a byproduct of holiness, but rather is holiness itself (Psalm 1:1-3; Matthew 5:2-12). It can only be found in serving God according on His terms.

            God is the ultimate source of our happiness. Not everything that happens in life will bring us into that state of being, but God leads people of faith to true and abiding happiness. It is centered around the Person and work of Jesus Christ. We are set free from sin through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. God is worthy of our dedication. Our joyous state should therefore be a positive reflection of our spiritual health. We should be striving to be holy as God Himself is holy. Godliness is exemplified in thought, word, and deed. This is true happiness. The world is not our eternal dwelling place, and so we should not strive to live like its people. Sin can never result in happiness or fulfillment. It is not a psychological but supernatural bliss He gives to those who love Him. It will not be fully brought to realization until we enter the eternal state. Our hearts need to be made right with God in order to experience this kind of bliss.