Friday, April 20, 2018

Evaluating Roman Catholic Claims Of Apostolic Succession

  • The Catechism Of The Roman Catholic Church Says In Regard To Apostolic Succession:
          -“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")
  • Biblical Arguments Against Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession:
          -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 properly exegeted.
          -The determining factor of the truthfulness and faithfulness of a church is its adherence to Scripture (Acts 17:11-12). The scribes and Pharisees claimed to have a physical, traceable lineage back to Abraham, yet Christ rejected them (John 8:36-45). We do not need a chain of apostolic successors from Christ and the original apostles to preserve divinely revealed truth (Matthew 3:7-9; Galatians 3:7). The scribes and Pharisees claimed to posses divine extra-biblical tradition, yet Christ publicly refuted them with Scripture (Matthew 15:1-9).
          -The only known historical record containing the inspired words of Jesus Christ and the apostles is the New Testament itself. That is the remnants of apostolic authority.
  • Is Acts 1:15-26 An Example Of Apostolic Succession, As Roman Catholic Apologists Claim?: 
          -The context of this passage is talking *specifically* about the traitor Judas. Moreover, Acts 1:15-26 does not 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. Rather, it provides biblical warrant for replacing ungodly and unfaithful church leaders with ones who are actually fit to serve God.
          -At this point, the apostles did not begin their apostolic ministry. They did not even receive the power Christ had promised to bestow upon them earlier in this chapter (Acts 1:8). The apostles 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 dissimilar with the Roman Catholic teaching of apostolic succession, considering that they teach that only apostolic authority is passed on (not the essence of the office itself). Papal "successors" themselves are not apostles.
  • Does 2 Timothy 2:2 Provide Evidence For Apostolic Succession?:
          -The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to pass on the truth of the gospel to "faithful men," not "priests and bishops." This passage merely describes the simple process of discipleship and the passing on of apostolic doctrine (i.e. "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 no mention in this context of passing on extra-biblical oral tradition or infallible teaching authority. Catholics simply read these concepts into Scripture. Note that Paul does not say anything in reference to a future successor for himself. He instead pointed to Scripture as our rule of faith (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He mentions nothing else for us to turn to in times of deception. Thus, Paul only points us to Scripture.
  • Apostolic Succession And The Early Church: 
          -When one finds references to apostolic succession in the earliest Christian writings, it is in reality quite different from how the modern Church of Rome perceives the concept. 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 founded by them 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. So the early Christians would have already been familiar with such a concept. The early church developed creeds that were based on the principles of Scripture. Doctrinal developments were formed on that standard of revelation. They were not originally foreign to Scripture. New ideas would be tested to see if they would contradict already established doctrines.
  • The Papacy And Its Historical Development:
          -The earliest 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 had fellowship together and cooperated to settle disputes. In fact, it was not until roughly A.D. 150 that the church at Rome 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 (distinguished from a position of primacy). 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 persecution by the Roman Empire. The church at Rome was the most prosperous church financially in the West. It was a center of doctrinal orthodoxy. It was a center for charity. The church of Rome's 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. However, Rome possessed no more authority than 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 A.D. 337 as his two sons inherited a divided kingdom.
          -In 381, Roman Emperor Theodosius summoned an assembly in which he declared the bishop of Constantinople to be in a position of supremacy, as Constantinople was considered the New Rome. However, 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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Is Jesus Michael The Archangel?

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ and Michael the Archangel are the same person. They teach that Michael is Jesus in His preexisting form. Jehovah's Witnesses maintain that Christ was the first part of God's created order. It is believed that Christ resumed His role as Michael the Archangel after His death and resurrection. Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in a bodily resurrection.

          This view carries with it a number of serious problems, however. For instance, Jesus Christ cannot simply be Michael the Archangel because 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)

          Jesus Christ is exalted by God in a way never given to angels. His name is above that of the angels. Angels are never called the Son of God and never has God said that He was their Father. Thus, the author of Hebrews clearly distinguishes between Christ and the angels. 

          Consider the following passage from Revelation in which angels worship Christ. He is given adoration which no angel can legitimately claim for themselves:

          "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)

          Christ has a position of authority over creation that only God Himself can legitimately be said to have. If He is a created being, then the angels who offered Him worship would have been condemned by God for acts of idolatry. Scripture forbids the worship of mere creations (Deuteronomy 6:13). That would include angels. Therefore, Jesus Christ must not be an angel, but God Himself. He is co-eternal with God the Father. 

          The Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Interlinear Translation renders Hebrews 1:3 as follows: "[Jesus] is the reflection of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being." If Jesus Christ is Michael the Archangel as the Jehovah's Witnesses claim, then, according to the logic of the cited Scripture passage, that would mean the very essence or nature of God must be that of an angel. That would be nothing short of sheer blasphemy.

          If Jesus is Michael the Archangel, 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 Satan 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)

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

  • Joseph Smith's Delusional Cosmological Ideas:
          -"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."
  • President Brigham Young's Delusional Cosmological Ideas:
          -"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)
  • 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 and the deity of Christ. These kinds of arguments are generally circulated by members of the Hebrew Roots Movement and Black Hebrew Israelites. Muslims make the claim that Paul was a false apostle. However, it is not difficult to pit two individuals against each other (i.e. 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. He did this both in writing and 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 out of hand.
  • 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 Writers:
          -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)
          -Jesus Christ 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. However, 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 (the two terms are used synonymously). Christ was there for three days, until the moment of His bodily resurrection from the grave and glorified ascension.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Society Is Engrossed In Moral Perversion

"Centuries from now, people who do not suffer our current psychoses will read about professors who gave their students credit for dressing in drag (Muhlenberg College), or who advised students that arguments against sexual perversion would not be admissible in class (Marquette University), or who elevated the trivialities of mass entertainment to the states of great art (everywhere), and shake their heads with dismay, using them as examples of how people can study themselves into a degree of stupidity for which Nature alone would never suffice. We do not produce many great comedians in the present. We produce a lot of material for comedians in the future."

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, p. 83

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Roman Catholic Church On The Second Commandment

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have divided the numbering of the Ten Commandments differently. While non-Catholic churches have traditionally listed the second commandment as being a prohibition against worshiping carved images, Rome has omitted this reference and split the last commandment which condemns coveting into two separate, specific prohibitions against lusting after other people's spouses and material possessions. In short, both sides of the debate uphold different renderings of the same Ten Commandments that were originally given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. This is a cause for concern, considering that Roman Catholics do indeed rely heavily upon religious iconography in their worship. Due to the fact that the ancient Israelites constantly struggled with idolatry, one would think it wise to leave a clear condemnation of worshiping objects in the listing of the Ten Commandments.
  • The Iconoclastic Controversy:
          -"In the early church, the making and veneration of portraits of Christ and the saints were consistently opposed. The use of icons nevertheless steadily gained in popularity, especially in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Toward the end of the 6th century and in the 7th, icons became the object of an officially encouraged cult, often implying a superstitious belief in their animation. Opposition to such practices became particularly strong in Asia Minor. In 726 the Byzantine emperor Leo III took a public stand against the perceived worship of icons, and in 730 their use was officially prohibited. This opened a persecution of icon venerators that was severe in the reign of Leo’s successor, Constantine V (741–775). In 787, however, the empress Irene convoked the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea at which Iconoclasm was condemned and the use of images was reestablished. The Iconoclasts regained power in 814 after Leo V’s accession, and the use of icons was again forbidden at a council in 815. The second Iconoclast period ended with the death of the emperor Theophilus in 842. In 843 his widow finally restored icon veneration, an event still celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Feast of Orthodoxy." (Encyclopedia Britannica, "Iconoclastic Controversy")
  • Roman Catholic Scholar Rachel Bundang Says The Following:
          -"Christianity emerged from Judaism, which itself rejected figurative religious art as being too much like idol worship (see Ex 20:3). But once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine in the 4th century CE, it was not long before Roman practices of portraying and honoring the divine (their gods and emperors) would make their way into Christian practices as well."
  • How Paul Cited The Commandment Against Coveting:
          -"What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
          -"The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9)
             *Notice that the Apostle Paul, in his quoting of the commandment against coveting, does not split it in half (i.e. coveting a neighbor's wife and coveting a neighbor's goods). The Catholic rendering of the Ten Commandments here is both redundant and suspicious. Their devotion to statues so closely resembles worship.
  • Other Points Of Consideration:
          -While it is true that the numbering of the Ten Commandments is more peripheral in nature, it nevertheless remains a fact that a statue-infested environment where saints are incessantly venerated is not a spiritually safe place to be.
          -Interestingly, Hebrew does not allow for a distinction in the word worship, which in that language would be avad. Thus, the terms latria and dulia in the original Old Testament would be treated as the same form of worship, which of course would rightly belong to God alone. In the Greek Septuagint, the Hebrew avad is rendered as dulia and latria. This proves Roman Catholics wrong when they attempt to defend their veneration of saints. In a religious context, our service belongs to God alone.