Saturday, January 12, 2019

Is The Multiverse Theory Reasonable?

"A true scientific explanation, says Davies, is like a single well-aimed bullet. The idea of a multiverse replaces the rationally minded ordered real world with an infinitely complex charade and makes the whole idea of "explanation" meaningless. Swinburne is just as strong in his disdain for the multiverse explanation: "It is crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job."

Antony Flew, There Is a God, pg. 119

Friday, January 11, 2019

Evidence For Intelligent Design Found Throughout Nature

"The important point is not merely that there are regularities in nature, but that these regularities are mathematically precise, universal, and "tied together." Einstein spoke of them as "reason incarnate."... This is certainly the question that scientists from Newton to Einstein have asked-and answered. Their answer was the Mind of God." (p. 96)

"...the laws of nature seem to be crafted so as to move the universe toward the emergence and sustenance of life." (p. 114)

"How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-reproduction capabilities, and coded chemistry?" (p.124)

"Over the centuries, thinkers who have considered the concept of "nothing" have been careful to emphasize that "nothing" is not a kind of "something." Absolute nothingness means no laws, no vacuums, no structures, no physical or mental entities of any kind-and no "symmetries." It has no properties or potentialities. Absolute nothingness cannot produce something given endless time-in fact, there can be no time in absolute nothingness." (p. 170)

Antony Flew, There Is a God

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Suggesting That Life Arose By Blind Chance Is Absurd

"Schroeder first referred to an experiment conducted by the British National Council of Arts. A computer was placed in a cage with six monkeys. After one month of hammering away at it (as well as using it as a bathroom!), the monkeys produced fifty typed pages-but not a single word. Schroeder noted that this was the case even though the smallest word in the English language is one letter (a or I). A is a word only if there is a space on either side of it. If we take it that the keyboard has thirty characters (the twenty-six letters and other symbols), then the likelihood of getting a one-lettered word is 30 times 30 times 30, which is 27,000. The likelihood of a getting a one-letter word is one chance out of 27,000.

Schroeder then applied the probabilities to the sonnet analogy. "What's the chance of getting a Shakespearean sonnet?" he asked. He continued:

All the sonnets are the same length. They're by definition fourteen lines long. I picked the one I knew the opening line for, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" I counted the number of letters; there are 488 letters in the sonnet. What's the likelihood of hammering away and getting 488 letters in exact sequence as in "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? What you end up with is 26 multiplied by itself 488 times - or 26 to the 488th power. Or, in other words, in base 10, 10 to the 690th.

Now the number of particles in the universe - not grains of sand, I'm talking about protons, electrons, and neutrons - is 10 to the 80th . Ten to the 80th is 1 with 80 zeros after it. Ten to 690th is 1 with 690 zeros after it. There are not enough particles in the universe to write down the trials; you'd be off by a factor of 10 to the 690th.

If you took the entire universe and converted it to computer chips - forget the monkeys - each one weighing a millionth of a gram and had each computer chip able to spin out 288 trials at, say, a million times a second; if you turn the entire universe into these microcomputer chips and these chips were spinning a million times a second (producing) random letters, the number of trials you would get since the beginning of time would be 10 to the 90th trials. It would be off again by a factor of 10 to the 600th. You will never get a sonnet by chance. The universe would have to be 10 to the 600th time larger. Yet the world just thinks monkeys can do it every time."

Antony Flew, There Is a God, pg. 76-77

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Pope Gelasius And Transubstantiation

Was transubstantiation generally believed in the early church? It is interesting to read what Pope Gelasius (492-496 AD) had to say about this matter. But first let’s define the meaning of the doctrine.

Transubstantiation (from Latin trans- across, and substantia substance) is the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration, only the appearance of bread and wine still remaining. “Substance" means what something is in itself.

The Council of Trent states: “If anyone says that in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, session 13, canon 2).

Thus, the Catholic Church teaches that at consecration the bread and wine no longer remain; they become truly, really and substantially the body and blood of Christ even though the appearance (or “accidents”) remains unchanged. We continue to see bread and wine though they are no longer bread and wine; what we perceive and taste as bread and wine are in fact the body and blood of Jesus.

Now let’s see what Pope Gelasius taught. In a treatise De Duabus Naturis against Eutyches and Nestorius (who taught that in the incarnation the human nature of Christ was absorbed in the divine nature), Gelasius wrote:

“The sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, which we receive, is a divine thing, because by it we are made partakers of the divine nature. Yet the substance or nature of the bread and wine does not cease. And assuredly the image and the similitude of the body and blood of Christ are celebrated in the performance of the mysteries.”

Gelasius taught that the sacramental bread and wine are the “image and the similitude” of the body and blood of Christ; the “substance or nature” of the bread and wine remain unchanged – “it does not cease”. Bread remains bread; wine remains wine. Clearly, Pope Gelasius contradicted the idea of transubstantiation.

How do Catholic apologists react to this? One Catholic writer argues that “Pope Gelasius was simply saying that the appearance [accidents] of bread/wine remain alongside the Real Presence in an attempt to explain the mystery of the Incarnation, since Christ humanity remains alongside His divinity. Some scholars interpret the above passage to refer to the accidents of the bread and wine.” (Kenneth Henderson)

Did Pope Gelasius really mean “appearance” when he wrote about “substance” and “nature”? Was the pope ignorant of the meaning of the very terms used in the Nicene Creed (325AD) and the Definition of Chalcedon (451AD) to describe who Jesus actually is?

There is a very simple reason why Gelasius did not mean “appearance”. Remember he is using the Eucharist as an analogy for the Incarnation, namely that “Christ’s humanity remains alongside His divinity.” Now if by “substance or nature” he meant that only the appearance of bread and wine remains, it follows that Christ merely appeared human but in fact he was not! That is the very heresy he was refuting!

No, rather, Gelasius rightly believed that the distinction of divine and human natures of Christ are “in no way annulled by the union” (Council of Chalcedon). Jesus is truly God and truly man! The Eucharist illustrates this great truth, for, just as the substance of the bread and wine remains unchanged, so the human nature of Christ remained unchanged despite its union with divinity.

Pope Gelasius did not try to prove that the bread and wine remain unchanged. He could take it for granted that his readers at the close of the fifth century believed that the substance of the eucharistic elements do not cease. The novel idea of transubstantiation was developed and adopted much later in the history of the Catholic church.

© Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi | Duplication and free distribution is encouraged | www.justforcatholics.org

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Evolution Of Charismatic "Tongues Speaking"

"...Every biblical example of angelic encounters with humans of any nationality shows the angel speaking in speaking in the language of of the person/people he was sent to (cf. Gen. 16:9; 22:11; Num. 22:32; Judg. 13:3). Revelation 14:6 speaks of an angel flying in the mid-heavens proclaiming the everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred, and tongue. The only tangential referent is found in the pseudepigraphic book titled "Testament of Job" which mentions Job's three daughters chanting in the "dialect of cherubim."29 Some date this book around the time of the writing of First Corinthians and Paul never gives credence to this novel writing and in fact warns against getting caught up in Jewish fables in Titus 1:14. For anyone to claim that they speak with the "tongues of angels" is simply without any biblical support and must be regarded as spurious. Naturally, this brings into question the alleged ability to translate an angelic tongue. How would anyone know if the translation is correct? We have no angelic lexicons, grammars, or dictionaries. For someone to claim they have the supernatural gift to translate angelic tongues is equally spurious.

Furthermore, the manifestation not only changed from an unknown language to an angelic language but the reason for the gift changed. Initially, Pentecostalism saw the restoration of this gift as a means to evangelize the world supernaturally and quickly. Due to the various well-publicized failures on the missionary field, the manifestation shifted from missionary work to the individual's personal prayer life. After WWII America experienced a "Healing Revival" with various Pentecostal tent-revivalists.30 This revival marks the explosion of Pentecostal practices (primarily tongues, prophecy, healing, and deliverance from demons) into non-Pentecostal denominations referred to as the "Charismatic Renewal" movement.31

The use of the gift changed from a supernatural missionary tool into a private (me and Jesus) language. It changed from being seen as a missionary gift for ministers to something that all believers can posses and should practice. Tongues went from having to be translated in public ministry today where entire groups of people all speak in tongues at the same time with no translation expected.

The only "restoration" of these gifts back into the Church is through outright heretical teachers (Montanus and his disciples) and later questionable fringe sects (Camisards, Shaking Quakers, Holiness groups) or other non-Christian cult groups.37 The Shakers were America's first non-Christian Pentecostals and since their advent other non-Christian Bible-based cults practice speaking in tongues as part of their piety including the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Unification Church of the Holy Spirit (Moonies), the Way International, snake handling groups to cite a few."

Rev. R. Liichow, Comparing and Contrasting the Various Concepts of "Tongues" Historically, p. 8-10

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Fatal Flaw Of The Charismatic Movement And Speaking In Tongues

  • Discussion:
          - Consider this excerpt from a pamphlet titled "Comparing and Contrasting the Various Concepts of "Tongues" Historically" by Rev. R. Liichow, page 2:

         "The ability to manifest ecstatic speech is not limited to the Christian Church or even the early church. Anthropologists have found many examples of religious groups who practice "tongues". The East Greenland Eskimo use a spirit language through their shamans. The Quillacinga and Pasto Indians also express "unintelligible words" in their services.5 We have possibly the earliest account of ecstatic speech approximately 1,100 years before the Day of Pentecost in Egypt.6 Dr. Wayne House has shown a historical practice of speaking in tongues in Phrygia by followers of the Cybele-Attis cult as well as the cult of Apollo prior to the birth of the church.7 Biblical scholar Gerald Hovenden demonstrates that "the existence of glossolalia in pagan world in ancient time itself cannot be denied."8 He shows that glossolalia phenomenon appeared prior to the New Testament period in the Mari Document (around 2000-1500 BCE), Wen Amon (1100 BCE), the Homeric to Delian Apollo (700 BCE), Cassandra, and etc."

          The speaking in tongues that we are witnessing today in the Charismatic Movement is not from God. The tongues spoken of in the New Testament were simply human languages that the speaker acquired by supernatural means. They were actually intelligible or understandable to other people. To attribute the human experiences oftentimes found within the Charismatic Movement to the Holy Spirit is nothing short of blasphemy. 

           The various sign gifts utilized by the church in the first century were to be used in serving God, not self-gratification. Speaking in tongues was a sign for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). We no longer need sign gifts because we now have the New Testament. The gospel has sufficient power to bring about the conversion of souls (John 20:30-31; Romans 1:16).

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Socialism Has Never Worked

"Contrary to popular belief, communism and socialism are virtually identical. Karl Marx defined socialism as abolishing private property with everything owned by an all powerful state on behalf of the people. Sounds very similar to communism, right?

While proponents claim that socialism is for the better of the people, they overlook a major obstacle. A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also strong enough to take away everything you have. A government that is this powerful rarely stays that generous.

Socialism works against human nature and personal motivation. History tells the devastating results of socialism combined with unchanging human nature. The rich become poor and the poor become poorer. Don't fall for the lies that say otherwise. Help protect our freedoms and a system that rewards good works."

Mathew Staver

Monday, December 31, 2018

Does Isaiah 53 Teach Penal Substitution?

        "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. " (Isaiah 53:4-6)

         This text clearly occupies substitutionary language. This passage foretold Christ bearing the sins of man upon Himself. He was offered up in the same manner as an unblemished lamb for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19). His innocent blood was shed for us (1 Peter 3:18). Our sins are forgiven by His wounds (1 Peter 2:24). The Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:7-8 alludes to the humility of the suffering servant (Isaiah 53:7). The idea of vicarious atonement finds its basis in the sacrifices performed under the Mosaic Law:

         "When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness." (Leviticus 16:20-22)

         Animals paid the price for the sins of people with their own lives. They did nothing to deserve their fate. Thus, animals served as an innocent substitute in the place of men. Though animal sacrifices temporarily held off the judgement of God, the Levitical sacrificial system pointed to the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1-2). Richard L. Mayhue provides this helpful synopsis of Isaiah 53 emphasizing the substitutionary elements contained therein:

         "1. v. 4 - "our griefs He...bore" 2. v. 4 - "our sorrows He carried" 3. v. 5 - "He was pierced... for our transgressions" 4. v. 5 - "He was crushed for our iniquities" 5. v.5 - "by His scourging we are healed" 6. v. 6 - "caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him" 7. v. 8 - "He was cut off...for the transgression of my people" 8. v. 11 - "He will bear their iniquities" 9. v. 12 - "He Himself bore the sin of many"

         The people who betrayed Christ and had Him killed thought He was receiving due punishment for His own actions. They thought God was exacting justice on Him, even though He was really suffering for the sins of those wounding Him. Jesus was treated unjustly by the Jews for their own benefit. He allowed Himself to undergo undeserved pain in order that we not receive due punishment for our own sins against God. While contrary to human expectations, matters went exactly as God intended them to be. The suffering of this humble Servant is a foundational part of God's plan.

         The New English Translation has this footnote on Isaiah 53:5:

         "tn The preposition מִן (min) has a causal sense (translated “because of”) here and in the following clause. tn Heb “the punishment of our peace [was] on him.” שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) is here a genitive of result, i.e., “punishment that resulted in our peace.”sn Continuing to utilize the imagery of physical illness, the group acknowledges that the servant’s willingness to carry their illnesses (v. 4) resulted in their being healed. Healing is a metaphor for forgiveness here."

         It was because of things we did that Jesus Christ suffered. Our own actions resulted in Him bearing the weight of our sins and their penalty. He did this with the intent of restoring us back into a proper relationship with God. Christ died a criminal's death in order that enmity between mankind and God be resolved. This hostility does not originate from God to us, but us to God. Human nature has a bent of rejecting God.

         The New English Translation has this footnote on Isaiah 53:6:

         "tn Elsewhere the Hiphil of פָגַע (paga’) means “to intercede verbally” (Jer 15:11; 36:25) or “to intervene militarily” (Isa 59:16), but neither nuance fits here. Apparently here the Hiphil is the causative of the normal Qal meaning, “encounter, meet, touch.” The Qal sometimes refers to a hostile encounter or attack; when used in this way the object is normally introduced by the preposition -בְּ (bet, see Josh 2:16; Judg 8:21; 15:12, etc.). Here the causative Hiphil has a double object—the Lord makes “sin” attack “him” (note that the object attacked is introduced by the preposition -בְּ. In their sin the group was like sheep who had wandered from God’s path. They were vulnerable to attack; the guilt of their sin was ready to attack and destroy them. But then the servant stepped in and took the full force of the attack."

         In Isaiah 53:6-7, the imagery of sheep is deployed with a contrasting effect. We are likened to sheep that have strayed from their shepherd. We have stepped out of line and merited for ourselves condemnation by God. The imagery of sheep in this case stresses our rebelliousness to His commandments. Jesus Christ is likened to a sheep that is totally obedient to its master. He obeyed the will of God in every jot and tittle. He was obedient even to the point of death. The imagery of sheep in this case emphasizes the humility and gentleness of Christ.

Friday, December 28, 2018

How Catholic Apologists Deal With The Thief On The Cross

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled The Good Thief and Bad (Protestant) Apologetics, which is a rejoinder to the common citation of Luke 23:39-43 as a proof text for Sola Fide. Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "We don’t know his faith background, e.g., if he was ever baptized in the past or if this was his first time meeting Jesus. His prayer “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” shows he had some knowledge of the Gospel, since no such “kingdom” details are given in this passage."

          There is a possibility that the repentant thief on the cross was either baptized or unbaptized. Although the importance of baptism cannot be minimized, the grace and forgiveness of God is not restricted to this ritual. There is no reason to even mention baptism. In fact, it is doubtful that he would have been baptized if he continued living as a thief, a crime for which he was being punished.

          By the way, a lot of the folks who say that the criminal did not need to be baptized due to being under the Old Covenant would simultaneously argue that Nicodemus needed baptism in order to be justified (John 3:5), who was also under the Old Covenant. That is a glaring logical inconsistency.

          "Terms such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are not used in this passage, so there’s no reason to think ‘faith alone’ is even the focus, just as the Parable of the Pharisee & Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14) doesn’t use such terms, but rather highlights the virtue of “humility”.

          What good works did the thief on the cross do for salvation? The words “faith” and “belief” do not need to be specifically mentioned. The fact that the thief said what he did demonstrates he had faith in what Jesus proclaimed. He had to have heard some of Christ's teachings to know who He was. While he did have a penitent heart, all that we see from the text of Scripture is him placing his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Humility is not a work, but a state of heart.

          As for the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Christ was clearly addressing self-righteous individuals. The tax collector humbly believed on God for justification, whereas the Pharisee relied on his own efforts to please Him. The first went home justified, whereas the latter was not. This parable is obviously about justification and the forgiveness of God.

          "In fact, we see a range of virtues being expressed here, including ‘Fear of the Lord’ (23:40; cf Prov 1:7), Repentance (which Jesus distinguishes from belief, see Mark 1:5), Warning Sinners (2 Thess 3:14b), Public Professing (John 10:42; Rom 10:10b), as well as Hope of going to Heaven and certainly Love for Jesus. The thief was even willing to suffer and die for his own sins, not to be freed from them, which means he carried his own cross (Lk 9:23). So this was *far from* faith alone."

          God has not prescribed the various things listed by the author as being requirements for justification. Repentance is not a work, but a change in heart (how can a person be saved if he does not recognize the need of a Savior?). Things such as fear of the Lord take place as a result of our hearts having been changed. These things are inextricably associated with justification. Our obedience should stem forth from a love of God and gratitude for the atonement that He has made on our behalf. It appears that the author is attacking some sort of a watered-down concept of faith.

          "This was a unique situation, it isn’t the norm for how people typically accept the Gospel (see Acts for the norm), and as such it has its limits. For example, Jesus had not yet Resurrected, Ascended, or sent the Holy Spirit yet, so Dismas probably didn’t profess faith in these, whereas these aspects of Jesus’ mission are required for us to profess (Rom 10:9b). Even the command to “baptize all nations” wasn’t even given until *after* Jesus resurrected (Matt 28:19), so pointing to this as an example of ‘not needing baptism’ is kind of moot."

          The "norm" that we observe in the New Testament is people believing on the gospel before getting baptized. If we are capable of adding our own works to the sacrifice of Christ, then He must have died in vain (Galatians 2:16-21).

            "Plus, can we take this one example as an excuse to ‘not really have to’ obey the many teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, including getting baptized, gathering to worship with others, being subject to your pastor, sharing our possessions, etc?"

           Talk about a classic example of a straw man fallacy! If a person gets saved, then his heart will be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

We Are Back In Rome

"Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788) said that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end: first, a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, affluence); second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor (this could be among countries in the family of nations as well as in a single nation); third, an obsession with sex; fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; fifth, an increased desire to live off the state. It all sounds so familiar. We have come a long road since our first chapter, and we are back in Rome."

Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?, p. 227