Friday, April 20, 2018

Evaluating Roman Catholic Claims Of Apostolic Succession

  • The Catechism Of The Roman Catholic Church Declares:
          -“In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.” (CCC # 77)
          -"The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." (CCC # 882)
  • Apostolic Succession As Defined By The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:
          -“…the Church is one moral body, possessing the mission entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Apostles, and transmitted through them and their lawful successors in an unbroken chain to the present representatives of Christ upon earth. This authoritative transmission of power in the Church constitutes Apostolic succession...Hence in tracing the mission of the Church back to the Apostles, no lacuna can be allowed, no new mission can arise; but the mission conferred by Christ must pass from generation to generation through an uninterrupted lawful succession.…Apostolic succession as an uninterrupted substitution of persons in the place of the Apostles…” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, "Apostolicity")
  • Presenting Biblical Arguments Against Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession:
          -Nowhere does Scripture say anything in regards to the Apostle Peter having a position of unique primacy, apostolic successors, and the concept of papal infallibility. He does not even say nothing about these concepts in his two New Testament epistles.
          -There is very little evidence that the Apostle Peter stayed in Rome, apart from the timing of his martyrdom. Nobody can rightly claim to have the same authority as the apostles, since they are not eyewitnesses to Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1).
          -The New Testament never records the apostles passing on their authority to successors. They say nothing about apostolic successors.
          -The original teachings of Jesus Christ, the apostles, and their closest associates have been accurately recorded and preserved in the New Testament. Scripture equips the man of God for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Truth can easily be determined when Scripture is exegeted in its respective context.
          -The determining factor of the trueness and faithfulness of a church is its adherence to God's will as revealed through Scripture (Acts 17:11-12). The Scribes and Pharisees claimed to have a physical, traceable lineage back to Abraham, yet Christ still rejected them (John 8:36-45). We do not need a chain of apostolic successors (Matthew 3:7-9; Galatians 3:7). They claimed to posses divine extra-biblical tradition, yet Christ publicly refuted them with Scripture (Matthew 15:1-9).
          -The only known historic record containing the inspired words of Jesus Christ and the apostles is the New Testament documents themselves. That is the remnants of apostolic authority.
  • Is Acts 1:15-26 An Example Of Apostolic Succession, As Roman Catholic Apologists Contend?: 
          -The context of this passage is talking *specifically* about the traitor Judas. Also, Acts 1:15-26 fails to mention anything about the apostles having future successors. If this passage proves anything at all, then it does not provide us with an argument for apostolic succession, but rather, provides biblical warrant for replacing ungodly and unfaithful church leaders with ones who are fit to serve God according to His will.
          -At this point, the apostles did not begin their apostolic ministry and did not even receive the power Christ had promised to bestow upon them earlier in the chapter (Acts 1:8). They did not receive it until the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, this is not an example of the apostles passing on spiritual authority to successors. The apostles did not have any power at this time.
          -This occasion was the actual replacement of an apostle with another apostle. This is very dissimilar with the Roman Catholic understanding of apostolic succession, considering that they teach that only the power is passed on (not the essence of the office itself). These so-called Catholic "successors" are not apostles, as was the case in the Book of Acts. Nor do we see Catholics casting lots in order to determine which man gets to be elected pope.
  • Does 2 Timothy 2:2 Provide Evidence For Apostolic Succession?:
          -The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to pass on the truth to "faithful men," not to "priests and bishops." We are called to proclaim the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 2:5-9). This passage merely describes the simple process of discipleship and the passing on of apostolic doctrine ("what you heard from me"). In fact, this theme is echoed throughout the two epistles directed to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6-11; 16; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; 3:14-15). There is nothing about passing on extra-biblical oral tradition or infallible teaching authority. Catholics simply read these concepts into texts like these, when in reality they are not present. Notice that Paul does not mention anything about a future successor, but rather points to Scripture as our rule of faith (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He mentions no other rule of faith to turn to in future times of deception. Thus, the apostle only points us to Scripture.
  • Apostolic Succession And The Early Church: 
          -When one finds references to apostolic succession in the earliest patristic writings, it is in reality quite different from how the modern Church of Rome perceives the concept. In other words, both use the term "apostolic succession" to mean two entirely different concepts. The earliest congregations occupied the term as a proof of the preservation of doctrinal truth, whereas the Roman Catholic Church has coined the phrase to describe the passing on of authority in a specific office. The use of apostolic succession as a preservation of truth given by the apostles was used by all of the churches that were established by the apostles in the first century. Apostolic succession was used as an argument against Gnosticism. The Jewish people had lists of successors for their priests and teachers. The pagans also had succession lists. So the early Christians would have already been familiar with such a concept. The early church developed creeds which were all constructed on the principle of Scripture. In other words, doctrinal developments were formed on the basis of Scripture. These doctrinal developments were originally not foreign to Scripture. They were in perfect harmony with Scripture. These apostolic traditions were actually biblical doctrines. New ideas would be tested to see if they would contradict already established doctrines. If any new doctrinal developments would conflict with scriptural principles, then they would instantaneously be rejected.
  • The Papacy And Its Historical Development:
          -The most primitive Christians were not governed by an overarching church hierarchy headquartered in Rome. The emphasis of lineage in the early church was spiritual. Each congregation worked independently to preserve apostolic truth, but fellowshipped together and cooperated to settle disputes. In fact, it was not until 150 AD that the Roman church even began to develop a one-head bishop structure.
          -No available writings from the first and second centuries affirm that the Apostle Peter was appointed the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. The most primitive sources documenting the existence of the Christian faith say nothing about the necessity of believing in the primacy of Peter and the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church. What is also interesting, is that the earliest pagans and heretics never objected to the existence of the Papacy in their dialogues with early Christian apologists such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian. What we do find in patristic writings is that congregations were governed by pluralities of elders.
          -For the first three centuries of Christianity, the Roman church was viewed with a position of honor among Christians (a position of honor but not of primacy). First of all, it was located in the capital of the empire, which was also known as the "Eternal City." This church was the largest, eventually totaling around 30,000 by the middle of the third century, despite the persecution by the Roman Empire. The church at Rome was the most prosperous church financially in the western world. It was a center of doctrinal orthodoxy. It was a center for charity. Its huge size greatly enhanced its impact. The Apostles Peter and Paul were viewed as the founders of the Roman church by the timing of the second century. Even though the Roman church was accorded high esteem, it possessed no more authority than the other churches for three centuries. Rome was esteemed because it was custom, not owing to institution by Christ.
          -Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital east from Rome to the city of Byzantium. It was given the name Constantinople. It was regarded as the “New Rome." The political focus of the Roman empire was moved to the east. Consequently, the bishop of Constantinople acquired the status of religious headship. A fundamental cultural dilemma which led up to the split of the Roman Empire was that Christians within the Western church spoke the Latin language and the Eastern church was Greek. This separation increased upon the death of Constantine in AD 337 as his two sons inherited a divided kingdom.
          -In 381, Roman Emperor Theodosius summoned an assembly, where he declared the bishop of Constantinople to be in a position of supremacy, as Constantinople was considered the New Rome. However, the church of Rome reacted in strong disagreement. The Roman bishop Damasus announced for the first time the supremacy of Rome, and argued in the same fashion as do modern Roman Catholic apologists who appeal to Matthew 16:18.
          -In Rome, the leadership position was passed along seven bishops after Damasus up to Leo, who was appointed bishop in 440. He afterward taught on the matter of the Christian church's authority being grounded in the Roman bishop because of the authority of the keys given by Jesus Christ to Peter on which it would be established (which was a gross misapplication of Scripture). Authority was wrongfully bestowed upon the bishop of Rome on this basis— 400+ years after the death of Christ. So, it was not the early church nor was it the apostolic church. The Papacy developed as a result of political tactics as the Roman Empire collapsed
  • Contradictions In Succession Lists Of Roman Bishops:
          -"There are contradictory late second century and early third century succession lists of alleged Roman bishops. Why is this so? Many scholars note it is because there actually was no succession of a single bishop until A.D. 150. This is why such later church fathers contradicted each other on who the earliest single bishops were. Writing around A.D. 180 Irenaeus wrote that Peter and Paul instituted Linus as the first Roman bishop and then Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telephorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, and Eleutherius followed (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.3.3). However, writing around A.D. 200 Tertullian offers a rival view. Instead of Peter and Paul instituting Linus as the first Roman bishop and then Clement being third in the list as Irenaeus claimed, Tertullian said Peter ordained Clement as the first Roman bishop. Clement went from being the third bishop of Rome to the first." (Keith Thompson, "Absence of Papal Views Among the Earliest Christians")
  • Vatican Forgeries:
          -The Donation of Constantine and Pseudo-Isidorian decretals are examples of fraudulent documents written and latter used by popes to bolster claims of their supremacy over the church.
          -The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online says that the, "Substitution of false documents and tampering with genuine ones was quite a trade in the Middle Ages." The Encyclopedia Britannica affirms that, "the origins of episcopacy are obscure." Joseph F. Kelly said, “The word ‘pope’ was not used exclusively of the bishop of Rome until the ninth century, and it is likely that in the earliest Roman community a college of presbyters rather than a single bishop provided the leadership.” (The Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity, p. 2, originally cited by James White)

Papal Infallibility Exposed As An Absurd Doctrine

          "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful--who confirms his brethren in the faith--he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals...The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council...This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself." (CCC # 891)

          If the pope was meant to be the infallible speaking instrument of the church by authorization of Jesus Christ, then why did so many church councils have to assemble (for periods of many years) to resolve doctrinal disputes? What was stopping the pope from resolving those matters once for all by simply making an ex-cathedra statement?

          If the Church of Rome truly believed that we needed to be guided by its allegedly infallible interpretations of Scripture, then why has it dogmatically interpreted only a handful of passages throughout church history?

          Why did it take nearly 1,500 years for the Church of Rome to officially declare the apocrypha as canonical?

          If the church was meant to be infallible, then why is it that the Apostle Paul exhorted his younger companion Timothy to watch and guard his doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 1:14)?

           Is it reasonable to uphold the Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibility in light of the fact that the pope can officially be deemed a heretic?

           Why is it that papal infallibility was not officially considered a dogma until 1870? Following is an excerpt from A Doctrinal Catechism, authored by Stephen Keenan, bearing the Imprimatur of Scotch Roman Catholic Bishops, prior to 1870:

           "Must not Catholics believe the pope himself to be infallible? This is a Protestant invention; it is no article of the faith; no decision of his can oblige, under pain of heresy, unless it is received and enforced by the teaching body, that is, the bishops of the church."

           This question and answer section bears significance because it was removed from Keenan's catechism after 1870.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Historic Roman Catholicism And Private Interpretation

        Historically speaking, the Church of Rome has displayed unreasonably hostile opposition against the personal ownership of Bible translations. For centuries, laymen were not allowed by the Church to interpret Scripture apart from intense supervision and restriction. There were times when circulated Bibles would even be burned. Even in modern times, devout followers are indoctrinated from childhood to submit to the Papacy. Dissuasion of personal Bible study has lessened in the past few decades, around the time of the First and Second Vatican Councils. Thus, Roman Catholics have been instructed to defend "Mother Church" at all costs, even at the expense of contradicting Scripture.

        While the apologists of Roman Catholicism may contend that their Church's prohibiting the reading of Scripture was never meant to serve as a permanent regulation, the decrees issued by councils such as Toulouse and Tarragon were essentially unconditional prohibitions on Bible reading. During that time, the only way that a person could actually read the Bible was if they had obtained special permission from the local bishop. In fact, most members of the laity could not even read Latin! Men such as Tyndale and Wycliffe were killed for being "heretics" when they only wanted to translate the Bible into the common language. Pope Innocent III (1161-1216) likened teaching the Bible to casting pearls before swine. The Council of Trent had placed the Bible in its list of forbidden books. Pope Leo XII (1760-1829) expressed condemnation of Bible societies in his encyclical titled Ubi primum. Harsh penalties were imposed on those who challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church:

        “In the West, the clergy had begun to assert an exclusive interpretive, indeed custodial, right to the Bible as early as the ninth century; and from about 1080 there had been frequent instances of the Pope, councils and bishops forbidding not only vernacular translations but any reading at all, by laymen, of the Bible taken as a whole. In some ways this was the most scandalous aspect of the medieval Latin Church. From the Waldensians onwards, attempts to scrutinize the Bible became proof presumptive of heresy - a man or woman might burn for it alone - and, conversely, the heterodox were increasingly convinced that the Bible was incompatible with papal and clerical claims.” (Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 273)

        If these bans on Bible reading by Rome were only supposed to be temporary, then surely, successive popes would not have repeatedly issued them. Quotes on the prohibition of personal Bible reading from sources do not seem to indicate anything about being "temporary." If the motives of the Papacy were really to preserve doctrinal purity, then it would most certainly would have published and circulated doctrinally safe translations, rather than forbade them. Consider, for example, canon fourteen from the Council of Toulouse in A.D. 1229 in regard to laity having access to the Holy Scriptures translated in vernacular languages:

          "We appoint, therefore, that the archbishops and bishops shall swear in one priest, and two or three laymen of good report, or more if they think fit, in every parish, both in and out of cities, who shall diligently, faithfully, and frequently seek out the heretics in those parishes, by searching all houses and subterranean chambers which lie under suspicion. And looking out for appendages or outbuildings, in the roofs themselves, or any other kind of hiding places, all which we direct to be destroyed. Directs that the house in which any heretic shall be found shall be destroyed. We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books." (Canons 1, 6, 14, emphasis added)

        How come Jesus Christ and the apostles never took the scrolls from the Scribes and Pharisees who obviously promulgated doctrinal error? Why would any genuine Christian argue against translating the gift of God's Word for other people? Whatever happened to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)? Why has Rome stopped persecuting "heretics" today? Obviously, the Roman Catholic Church would have to admit that its conduct was wrong.

        If it were not for the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press in 1436, then, most likely, Bible translations in the common tongue would not be widespread today. If the Church of Rome truly was confident in possessing the truth, then it would never have raised opposition to people examining its claims in light of an objective standard. If Scripture is understandable, then why would we need an infallible interpreter in the first place? Even in today's culture in which the Roman Catholic Church does not have the influence that it used to, strict regulations placed on efforts to translate Scripture remain:

        Can. 825 § 1. "Books of the Sacred Scriptures cannot be published unless they have been approved either by the Apostolic See or by the conference of bishops; for their vernacular translations to be published it is required that they likewise be approved by the same authority and also annotated with necessary and sufficient explanations."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Is Jesus Michael The Archangel?

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -The Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists believe that Jesus Christ and Michael the Archangel are the same person.

          Jesus Christ cannot simply be Michael the Archangel because the angels worshiped Him:

          "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”?...And let all the angels of God worship Him...Your throne, O God, is forever and ever...You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands... But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”?" (Hebrews 1 paraphrased)

          Thus, the author of Hebrews clearly distinguishes between Christ and the angels. Consider also the following passages from Revelation in which angels give Him worship:

          "And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped." (Revelation 5:13-14)

"And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” (Revelation 14:6-7)

          Scripture forbids the worship of mere creations, which includes angels:

          "You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name." (Deuteronomy 6:13)

          Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ must not be an angel, but God Himself. He is co-eternal with God the Father. If Michael the Archangel was Jesus, then why is it that he had to call upon the name of the Lord in order to cast judgement on the devil?:

          "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you." (Jude 9)

           Christ openly rebuked the devil without invoking any name of authority because He is God in the flesh:

          "and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only." (Matthew 4:9-10)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Disemboweling Catholic Answers' Logical Case For Purgatory

  • Discussion:
          -Following is a syllogism provided in an article from Catholic Answers titled The Logical Case for Purgatory, which attempts to demonstrate how Purgatory is logically necessary:

          "There will be neither sin nor attachment to sin in heaven. We (at least most of us) are still sinning and are attached to sin at the end of this life. Therefore there must be a period between death and heavenly glory in which the saved are cleansed of sin and their attachment to sin."

         The underlying problem with such reasoning is that it completely ignores a quintessential truth of the gospel, namely that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for our sin by His atonement on the cross at Calvary. He has already accomplished purification for sin on our behalf. Christ is the one and only remedy for the problem of sin. We are made complete in Him. His expiatory work is absolutely sufficient in and of itself. God does not impute sin to believers. He does not count sin against those who have been forgiven in His sight. The blood of Christ is applied to believers by faith:

          "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:10-14)

          If we truly must make amends for any of the sins that we have committed in this lifetime, then how does it not follow that Christ's work was insufficient to atone for our sins? How is that the forgiveness of sin? Justification is by faith, apart from the merit of good works. It is impossible for man to make reparation for sin, not even partially. We are forgiven by Christ's wounds, not anything done on our part (1 Peter 2:24). Thus, the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory utterly misunderstands the nature of the biblical atonement. It would be an offense to the utmost for us to try to pay back a debt that God Himself has already paid in full. The necessity of purgatory can only make sense in a works-based justification theological framework, which is flatly contradicted by Scripture.

          The reasoning comprising the logical syllogism employed by Catholic Answers is deceptive at best. It is highly fallacious, for it draws a conclusion that simply does not follow from the two mentioned premises. This is known as a non-sequitur. Catholic Answers presents to unsuspecting readers a false dichotomy, assuming that purgatory must be the only logical conclusion. But that is simply not true. The blood of Christ cleanses believers from all sin. There is no punishment of any kind for Christians after death. Purgatory is a perfect example of philosophy gone wrong:

           "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Indicators Of False Witnessing

  • Notice The Remarks Of The Apostle Paul Within The Context Of 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10 In Regards To The Nature Of False Preaching:
          1.) It stems from doctrinal error.
          2.) It revolves around impure motives; teachers glorify themselves rather than Christ.
          3.) False witnessing involves deceit; twisting Scripture, faulty logic, and manipulation.
          4.) False witnessing includes pleasing people through flattery and teaching what itching ears want to hear.
          5.) False teaching involves selfish gain; profiting from the gospel.

          The people whom these factors are applicable have proven to be burdensome to the church, especially to Christians who are new or lacking in discernment. False teachers need to be rebuked sharply and avoided.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Excerpts Exposing The Fraudulent Nature Of Mormonism

  • A Look At Joseph Smith's Cosmology:
          -"The inhabitants of the moon are more of a uniform than the inhabitants of the earth, being about six feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker style and are quite general in style or the one fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming generally, near a thousand years."
  • A Quote From Mormon President Brigham Young In Regards To Cosmology:
          -"So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun...Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 271)
  • Mormonism Preaches A Works-Based Gospel:
          -"One cannot get into the kingdom of God upon the principle of faith alone, or repentance alone, or receiving the Holy Ghost alone. He will have to be baptized, go down in the water, and come up out of the water, and have hands laid upon him for the gift of the Holy Ghost. That is the procedure that was followed by the apostles of Christ. That is the procedure of the Church today. It is the only way." (Rudger Clawson, Conference Reports, October 1932, p.9)
  • An Example From The Book Of Mormon Revealing Mormonism's Racist History On Native American Indians:
          -"they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them." (2 Nephi 5:21)
  • Mormons Celebrate The Disobedience Of Adam And Eve: 
          -"And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who oweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:22-25)
  • The Incredible Arrogance Of Joseph Smith: 
          -"Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet...When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go." (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)
  • Mormons Believe That The Garden Of Eden Is Located In The State Of Missouri: 
          -"The Garden Of Eden was in Missouri. Noah was taken to the old world by the flood. This teaching was given by Joseph Smith and is still accepted as true doctrine. Given this teaching, Mormons have to accept the flood as a global phenomena" (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, "Adam-Ondi-Ahman", p. 19-20)
  • Remarks From Joseph Fielding Smith, The Tenth Mormon President, On Man Reaching The Moon: 
          -"We will never get a man into space. This earth is man's sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen." (Honolulu Stake Conference 1961)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Constructing A Case For Paul's Apostleship

  • Defining The Issues:
          -There is a theory that the Apostle Paul was a false teacher, a false prophet who corrupted the original teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed through the New Testament. It is claimed by some that present-day Christianity has fallen victim to the allegedly apostate theology of Paul, namely regarding his teachings on Christians not being under the Mosaic Law system and the deity of Christ. These kinds of arguments are generally circulated by members of the Hebrew Roots Movement and Black Hebrew Israelites. Muslims also make the claim that Paul was a false apostle. However, it is not difficult to pit two individuals against each other (Paul vs. Jesus) by taking their statements out of context. The Apostle Paul did not contradict the teachings of Christ, but delivered and elaborated on His teachings both in writing and in speech. The evidence in favor of Paul being a genuine apostle is so strong, that any attempt to discredit his apostleship as being fraudulent should be rejected as intellectually dishonest.
  • Luke Records Eye-Witnesses Being Present During The Time Of Saul's Conversion:
          -"Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one." (Acts 9:3-7)
          -If one accepts Acts as being reliable historical material, it should be noted that Jesus Christ commissioned Paul to preach the gospel to the gentiles. The men who had accompanied him were baffled at this encounter.
  • Notice How Both The Apostles Paul And Barnabas Preached The Gospel: 
          -“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses...As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God." (Acts 13:38-39, 42-43)
          -If Paul were a false apostle, it is certain that Barnabas would not have accompanied him in preaching the gospel to the Jews.
  • The Apostles And Elders Embraced Paul As Authentic, Who Also Preached Against Christians Maintaining Mosaic Customs:
          -"But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved...But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses...And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers...that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”...Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth." (Acts 15:1, 7-11, 22-27)
          -The noteworthy feature of this text is that Peter and James recognized Paul to be an authoritative voice on the matter of whether gentiles needed to undergo circumcision. This could not be said of a false apostle.
  • The Apostle Peter Believed Paul To Be A Beloved Brother Who Produced Inspired Scripture:
          -"And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:15-16)
          -Even if we rejected Petrine authorship of this epistle, it would still be outside affirmation of the authenticity of Paul's apostleship. Other men in the early church who accepted Paul would be Clement of Rome and Polycarp. 
  • The Apostle Paul Had Supernatural Abilities Like That Of The Other Apostles:
          -"The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works." (2 Corinthians 12:12)
          -Paul has credibility since he made reference to personal faults (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; 1 Timothy 1:12-16). He openly rebuked Peter for not living according to the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14).
  • Examples Of Agreement Between Paul And The Four Gospel Narratives:
          -Jesus Christ is a man (Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16)
          -Christ is a descendant of King David (Romans 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:8)
          -The ordinance of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
          -Jesus Christ died to make atonement for our sins (Romans 4:25; 1 Timothy 2:5-6)
          -He died, was buried in a tomb, resurrected from the grave, and appeared to people (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6)
          -Christ testified of Himself as being the promised Jewish Messiah before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13-16)
          -Jesus Christ was crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2; Galatians 3:1)
          -He ascended into heaven to be glorified (Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

On The Study Of Good Moral Conduct

"In matters of human prudence, we shall find the greatest advantage by making wise observations on our own conduct, and the conduct of others, and a survey of the events attending such conduct. Experience in this case is equal to a natural sagacity, or rather superior. A treasure of observations and experiences, collected by wise men, is of admirable service here. And perhaps there is nothing in the world of this kind equal to the sacred book of Proverbs, even it we look on it as a mere human writing."

Isaac Watts, Logic: The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth, p. 236-237

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Did Jesus Christ Literally Descend Into Hell?

  • Discussion:
          -Some Christians believe that the human soul of Jesus Christ suffered for three days in hell after His death by crucifixion. That point of view is an error. We should take into consideration the words that Christ spoke to the repentant thief on the cross:

          "Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last." (Luke 23:43-46, emphasis added)

          So, it is abundantly clear from Scripture that Christ did not descend into hell. He went not into judgement but paradise. His soul entered into the Father's presence during the three days that His physical body was buried in the tomb.

          Furthermore, the notion that Jesus Christ needed to be punished in hell to somehow complete His atonement sacrifice is logically absurd. He already paid the full debt full for our sins when He was crucified on the cross. He Himself testified plainly to this when He said of His work, "It is finished" (John 19:30). His suffering ended when He died.

           His soul entered the blessed side of Sheol or Hades (terms are used synonymously). Christ was there for three days, until the moment of His bodily resurrection from the grave and glorified ascension.