Monday, January 28, 2019

How Can You Trust Christianity Is True If You Haven’t Examined All the Alternatives?


...One of the most common questions asked in the Q and A is something similar to: “Have you taken the time to apply the same approach with all the other religious worldviews?” Sometimes people ask this question because they are curious about how well other ancient religious claims (or alleged eyewitness accounts) hold up under investigative scrutiny. But many times this question is followed by a more pointed objection: “How can you trust Christianity is true if you haven’t examined all the alternatives?”

[...]

In every criminal trial, the investigators and prosecutors are obligated to present the evidence related to one defendant. While the burden of proof lies with the prosecutorial team, the prosecution is not required to have examined every possible alternative suspect. If I am investigating a case in which the suspect was initially described as a white male, 25 to 35 years of age with brown hair, the potential suspect pool in Los Angeles County would be quite large; there may be hundreds of thousands fitting this description. As I make the affirmative case related to one of the men in this large group, I’m under no obligation to make the case against the others. In fact, when the jury evaluates the case and decides whether the defendant is guilty, they will do so without any consideration of the alternatives. If the evidence is strong enough to reasonably infer the defendant’s involvement, the jury will make a confident decision, even though many, many alternatives were left unexamined.

The case for Christianity is made in a similar way. While it may be helpful to examine a particular alternative worldview on occasion to show its inadequacies or errors, these deficiencies fail to establish Christianity as factual. How can you trust Christianity is true if you haven’t examined all the alternatives? The case for the Christian worldview must first be made affirmatively even if no other claim is examined negatively. If there’s enough evidence to reasonably infer Christianity is true, we needn’t look any further. The affirmative case will either stand or fall on its own merit, even if we’re unable to examine any other “suspect”.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

"Animadversions Of A Synthetic Chemist"

Life requires carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins. What is the chemistry behind their origin? Biologists seem to think that there are well-understood prebiotic molecular mechanisms for their synthesis. They have been grossly misinformed. And no wonder: few biologists have ever synthesized a complex molecule ab initio. If they need a molecule, they purchase molecular synthesis kits, which are, of course, designed by synthetic chemists, and which feature simplistic protocols.

Polysaccharides? Their origin?

The synthetic chemists do not have a pathway.

The biologists do not have a clue.

[...]

Those who think scientists understand the issues of prebiotic chemistry are wholly misinformed. Nobody understands them. Maybe one day we will. But that day is far from today. It would be far more helpful (and hopeful) to expose students to the massive gaps in our understanding. They may find a firmer—and possibly a radically different—scientific theory.

The basis upon which we as scientists are relying is so shaky that we must openly state the situation for what it is: it is a mystery.

Excerpts from James Tour

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Dangers Of Yoga

"He [Shri Yogi Hari] answered, "It is the teacher's responsibility to make students understand that yoga is a highly spiritual practice. The reason it is a spiritual practice is because you are a spirit....the soul, the Atman functioning through these bodies. We are teaching yoga so that you will experience your Higher Self. If you want to have good health, if you want to experience happiness, you can only experience that when you touch who you are, the Self...then they can see that Yoga is not just a physical thing.13" (p. 3)

"As one yoga leader said, "Yoga without a spiritual component is just exercise." (p. 3)

Above excerpts taken from Craig Branch’s article, “Veritas: Stretching the Truth?”

"...yoga is historically a religious philosophy and spiritual practice. Accordingly, Robert E. Van Voorst defines yoga as "a physical discipline to promote knowledge that the individual soul and world are one."2 (p. 5)

"It is difficult to separate any yoga practice from its Hindu roots. It can be said that there is no Hinduism without yoga and no yoga without Hinduism." (p. 5)

"Christian Indian citizen and philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi, however, explains that "Yoga was never meant to be a fitness regime. In Indian philosophy yoga is a means to salvation or liberation (moksha). The original philosophy behind yoga defined liberation as the soul's isolation from the body. Obtaining 'out-of-body' experience is still the goal of some popular forms of yoga."3 (p. 5)

Above excerpts taken from Clete Hux’s article, “What Is Yoga?

"[Citing Yoga-Yajnavadka] "Yoga is the union of the individual psyche with the transcendental Self." (p. 9)

"...the basic assumptions of Yoga makes about the nature of God are completely foreign and incompatible with the Christian belief system. The god of Yoga is spoken of as the Absolute, Higher Self, Ultimate, Divine Consciousness and a host of other titles that speak of an impersonal, pantheistic deity that is in all things, through transcendent beyond them." (p. 9)

"In Yoga, as in Hinduism, the great need of man is to rid himself from karma, the cumulative effect of the good and bad things done in a person's life that are taken with him to the next life when the soul transmigrates into another body." (p. 10)

"The pantheistic view that god is in everything makes it impossible to state that humans have any more inherent value than slugs or mosquitoes." (p. 11)

"The combination of pranayama and asana is intended to include the practitioner is intended to induce the practitioner into an occultic and altered state of consciousness. The practice of breathing technique is an integral part of all Eastern meditative systems." (p. 12)

"An extensive German study on the effects of meditation found negative side effects among 70% of the participants.23...In biblical meditation the mind is active. It is not an inward focus that includes the emptying of the mind." (p. 12)

Above excerpts taken from Keith Gibson’s article, “It Isn’t Just Exercise: The Religious Nature of Yoga.”

All the above excerpts can be found in the July-August 2004 edition of the Areopagus Journal (published by the Apologetics Resource Center)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A List Of The Cultic Doctrines Of Mormonism

  • In Mormonism There Are Many Gods:
          -"In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.... In all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods." Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp.308, 474.
  • Mormonism's God Was Once A Man:
          -"God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man... I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form...like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man...He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth." Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 305.
  • The God Of Mormonism Is Limited:
          -"The universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain him as such...if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or 'sense of justice' of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the 'power' of God would disintegrate - He would cease to be God." W. Cleon Skousen (Former BYU Professor & founder of Mormon-based National Center For Constitutional Studies), The First 2000 Years, p.355.
          -"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." Doctrine & Covenants 130:22
          -"If God possesses a form, that form is of necessity of definite proportions, and therefore of limited extension and space. It is impossible for Him to occupy at one time more than one space of such limits." James Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 43.
  • In Mormonism Man May Become God:
          -"Here then is eternal life...to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you...To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of God." Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 306
  • In Mormonism God Has A Wife:
          -"In the heaven where our spirits were born, there are many Gods, each of whom has his own wife or wives, which were given to him...while yet in his mortal state." Orson Pratt (Apostle), The Seer, p.37.
          -"This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in all plainness by the First Presidency of the Church." Bruce R. McConkie (Apostle), Mormon Doctrine.
  • Mormonism Denies The Virgin Birth:
          -"Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers... Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father." Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 547, 742.
  • Mormonism's Jesus And Satan Are Brothers:
          -"The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer - this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind." Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15
  • Mormonism's Jesus Was Married:
          -"Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee - We say it was Jesus Christ who was married...whereby he could see his seed." Orson Hyde, Apostle, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 82.
  • Mormonism Denies The Authority of The Bible:
          -"Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors-many plain and precious things were deleted, in consequence of which error and falsehood poured into the churches. One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men." Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp.82, 83
  • Mormonism Says All Other Churches Are False:
          -"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; and those professors were all corrupt." Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:19.
          -"This Church is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." Doctrine and Covenants 1:30.
          -"There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Bruce McConkie, Mormon
Doctrine, p. 670.
          -"All other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives Baptism or the Lord's Supper from their hands will highly offend God; for He looks upon them as the most corrupt of all people. Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the whore of Babylon." Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255.
  • Mormonism Says Blacks Were Cursed:
          -"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness, he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel." Joseph Fielding Smith (Prophet), The Way to Perfection, p. 102.
          -"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind." Brigham Young (Prophet), Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 290.
          -"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard t the African race? If the white man...mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110.
  • Mormonism Has A Council Of Gods:
          -"The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world... In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people. it." Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 348, 349.
          -"The contention in heaven was...Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the Devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favour of Jesus Christ. So the Devil rose up in rebellion against God. and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him." Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 8
  • Mormonism's Judgement And Resurrection:
          -"No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 289.
          -"If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by [Joseph Smith]; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him." President George Q. Cannon, quoted in 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142.
          -"If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and then they will hunt up their friends and resurrect them." Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 116.
          -"We are the only people that know how to save our progenitors, how to save ourselves, and how to save our posterity in the celestial kingdom of God; that we are the people God has chosen by whom to establish his kingdom and introduce correct principles into the world; and that we are in fact the saviors of the world..." John Taylor (Prophet), Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 163.
  • Mormonism Teaches A Gospel Message Of Faith And Works:
          -"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled." (2 Nephi 25:23-24)
          -"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ." (Moroni 10:32)
          -"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." (Articles of Faith 1:3)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Testimony Of A Former Buddhist

True, some Buddhists purport to believe in a god, or in a realm of higher beings called devas. Others pray to statues of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). But, as a whole, Buddhism is not a theistic religion. It has a law—the law of karma—but no lawgiver.

According to the Buddhist worldview, all beings accumulate karma based on their actions, and karmadictates their life circumstances. When a person dies, the karma accumulated in that lifetime (and all previous lives) determines his or her lot in the next life.

To many Buddhists, this means that a person born into a wealthy family has good karma, while someone who lives in a poor, disease-infested village would have accumulated negative karma.

Buddhists believe karma keeps one trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth (samsara), and the only way out is through enlightenment.

To become enlightened, one has to eliminate desire. Buddha taught that desire is the root of suffering; that it causes attachment, which leads to suffering, and in turn causes other beings to suffer. This produces negative karma. If one eliminates desire and stops causing suffering, one can become enlightened, as he had.

But, eventually, I began to question.

Who or what had set this law of karma in motion?

Who judged these beings’ actions and sentenced them to another life of pain?

Why were beings punished for actions they would be unable to remember?

Was desire always a bad thing? Wasn’t the desire for enlightenment still desire?

If so, how could one ever attain enlightenment?

So I strayed from the Buddhist path—the emptiness within me greater than before.

https://christiananswers.net/q-aiia/aiia-buddhism-harris.html

God Did Not Create Sexual Orientations

"God did not create sexual orientations. He created sexes. God gave each sex a body capable of giving physical pleasure and children to the other sex. All are heterosexual because everyone is born in the bodies of a man or a woman. This truth does not change even if one has very difficult feelings against which one must fight. Homosexuality has nothing to do with heterosexuality and the first does not equal the second. There are people who feel powerful desires towards the same sex. … But it does not change the truth that they are already heterosexual because God created them that way, so the Bible tells us."

Robert Oscar Lopez, How Christians Confuse the Issue of Heterosexuality (What Christians Get Wrong about Heterosexuality)

A Response To Catholic Nick On Imputation And 2 Corinthians 5:21

  • Discussion:
           -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Is imputation taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21?, which is an attempt to refute the standard "Protestant" interpretation of that text. We begin this critique with a quote from the author:

           "First, the text does not suggest we become righteousness in the same way Jesus becomes sin, i.e. by a double imputation, because Paul uses two different Greek words here, "made [sin]" and "become [righteousness]."

           Just because someone references Greek, does not mean that his or her argument is valid or convincing. Nick fails to explain why the two different words necessarily rule out imputation.

           If Roman Catholic infusion is correct, then should we conclude based on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ("Christ was made sin") that the essence of Jesus was corrupted? Was evil infused into Christ?

           "Second, the curious phrase "made sin for us" cannot be presumed to include Christ's perfect obedience to the Law, especially since the Protestant says this phrase refers specifically to having our sins imputed to Christ."

           What does it mean to say that Christ was made sin for us? Dr. Ron Rhodes has some pertinent observations here:

            "In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the phrase “on our behalf” (“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf ”) derives from the Greek term huper. This word can bear a number of nuances, not all of them substitutionary in nature. As professor Daniel Wallace has noted in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, however, there are a number of factors that argue in favor of a substitutionary use of the word in New Testament times. For example, the substitutionary sense of huper is found in extra-New Testament Greek literature (see, e.g., Plato, Republic 590a; Xenophon, Anabasis 7.4.9–10), the Septuagint (e.g., Deut. 24:16; Isa. 43:3–4), and in the papyri (e.g., Oxyrhyn chus Papyrus 1281.11–12; Tebtunis Papyrus 380.43–44).7 One papyri example relates to a scribe who wrote a document on behalf of a person who did not know how to write. In all, Wallace counts 87 examples from the papyri in which huper is used in a substitutionary sense, and this by no means exhausts the extant papyri data. Wallace thus concludes that “this evidence is over whelming in favor of treating huper as bearing a substitutionary force in the NT era.”8 The Friberg Greek Lexicon likewise affirms that the word is used “with a component of representation or substitution in the place of, for, in the name of, instead of.” Christ’s death, as the Lamb of God, was “for” (huper) us in the sense that it was on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21). The word is used in this same on-behalf-of sense elsewhere in Scripture. Jesus at the Last Supper said: “This is My body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19, emphasis added here and in the verses that follow). Likewise, in John 10:15 Jesus affirmed, “I lay down My life for the sheep.” Paul thus exults that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; see also Gal. 3:13; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9). Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us” (Titus 2:14), “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18; see also 2:21). The idea of substitution richly permeates these verses."

           "Third, the Bible never speaks of imputing sin from a sinner onto an innocent substitute, such that guilt is transferred from one person to another, so to say “made sin” refers to imputation has no Biblical basis whatsoever. Thus, Christ being “made sin” must be assumed to refer to something other than imputation."

           This point is invalidated because of the background of the Old Testament sacrificial system, which is all about the transfer of guilt. Look at Genesis 22, Leviticus 16, and Exodus 12. In all three instances, there is an innocent substitute provided. The lamb died in the place of a person, etc.

           The very idea of forgiveness (not counting people's trespasses against them) is legal in nature.

           "Fourth, the meaning of “made sin” need not only refer to Imputation or Infusion, for that’s a false dilemma fallacy. The Church Fathers shed valuable light on what “made sin” refers to."

           The meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is crystal clear. Jesus took our sin and gave to us His righteousness. We do not deserve His righteousness, anymore than He deserved to bear our punishment. That is the legal, binding transaction which takes place in the "court" of God. He has voluntarily paid an infinite sin debt on our behalf because of His love for us. He saved us because He is gracious. He is our sin offering.

           "Fifth, the context clearly explains the goal of God the Father sending His Son was to bring about our reconciliation, thus undermining the whole presumed forensic-imputation theme Protestants project onto verse 21."

           Why would a context speaking of reconciliation with God be inconsistent with a forensic-imputation theme? If we are to be reconciled with God, then it requires that the questions of sin, righteousness, and judgement be addressed. The text of 2 Corinthians 5:21 specifically addresses how man can be reconciled to God.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Intellectual Sophistry Of Roman Catholic Apologists

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?, providing evangelistic tips for fellow Catholics to use in dialogues with non-Catholics on the subject of Sola Fide ("faith alone"). This critique begins with a quote from the author:

          "First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place."

          It is an indisputable fact that the Law of God requires perfect obedience. If there was no sin, then there would be no need for God to show forgiveness, as there would be no spiritual corruption in the first place. There would be no need to speak of "getting saved," as everything would already be functioning in a perfect order. But the fall of man has brought about sin and thus condemnation. God has voluntarily paid an infinite sin debt on our behalf because of His love for us. He saved us because He is gracious.

          "This is completely contrary to the Catholic understanding of salvation, in which man can only be saved by faith and grace, never by his own works no matter how good those works are."

          The fact that Catholics are required to obtain and maintain their justification on the basis of good works proves that it is indeed works-based. The concepts of purgatory and the treasury of merit further render the claims of the author unconvincing. In Roman Catholic theology, God gives grace through baptism (which itself is a work) so that man can perform good works to merit more grace.

          "Without going into detail on each of these passages [Romans 4:1-3, Galatians 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:4-7, and Titus 3:4-5], notice that in the 'plain reading' of these texts, there is no mention of the works in question being 'tainted by sin'. In fact, such a reading would make these texts nonsensical. The only reason given for why works don't save is to prevent boasting. That's it."

          The texts that Nick mentions are quite straightforward, in that they say we are not saved by works of righteousness. We are saved because God is loving and merciful. He is literally reaching out to helpless mankind because of His love. The contexts of each passage that Nick lists makes mention of our problem of sin. We are not deserving of His salvation.

          The Bible tells us that the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness (Romans 1:18). We have all sinned against Him. We all have a stained record. Therefore, we have all incurred His wrath and judgement. But Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice to appease that wrath. He is our propitiation (Romans 3:24-25). Christ is our advocate before God the Righteous Judge (1 John 2:1-2). The Law is what makes us conscious of sin (Romans 7:7). It condemns us. Christ obeyed the Law perfectly in our place (Romans 8:1-4). He took our punishment. We have redemption through Christ's blood (Ephesians 1:7-8). We are purified by placing our trust in His work. He is our reconciliation. His grace is unmerited.

          "Now it is true that the "works" Paul has in mind are "Works of the [Mosaic] Law," which are the 613 individual Commandments found in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), centered around the Ten Commandments. But even this doesn't change anything, because keeping the Law never did save."

          We can agree with the author that nobody was saved by keeping the Law. Justification has never been by works. Nonetheless, the contexts of Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 nowhere limit "works" as exclusively referring to the Mosaic Law. That is not what the Apostle Paul said. We are justified by faith, apart from the merit of any and all good works.

          "And it is true that all men come into this world dead in sin and separated from God, but even that's not the point behind Paul's repeated 'works don't save' statements."

          It would be proper to allow the reader to decide who has a more reasonable interpretation of Scripture by citing one of those "not by works" passages that the author alludes to in context:

          "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)

          If the "works" spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-9 are a reference to the works of the Mosaic Law, then why not interpret Ephesians 2:10 in the same fashion (created in Christ Jesus for good works of the Mosaic Law)?

          "Protestants think you are worthy of Eternal Life upon being Justified, but that's not what Paul teaches. In reality, Justification and being Judged worthy of Eternal Life happen at two different times in a person's life - and to confuse the two events and turn them into one event the way Protestants do is a huge mistake."

          So, a person who is justified in the sight of God is not necessarily entitled to heaven? That statement is ridiculous, as well is it illogical. If an individual is converted to Christianity and one day later just so happens to die in a vehicle accident, then would he or she not be allowed into the kingdom of God at that point? Was that person not saved? Is that person automatically going to hell for potentially not getting a chance to greet a neighbor or feed the poor?

A Response To Catholic Nick On Colossians 2:14

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger named Catholic Nick wrote an article titled What is the "certificate of debt" that Jesus canceled for us?, where the author parallels Colossians 2 with Ephesians 2 and says:

          "Given the above, it is pretty obvious that "canceling the certificate of debt with its legal demands" means essentially the same thing as "abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances". That is, the Mosaic Law was canceled, abolished, fulfilled, etc, (all terms the NT uses) through Christ's death on the Cross. This is an undeniable theme throughout the NT (e.g. Acts 13:38-39)."

          First of all, it is not enough to say, “Look at those two passages. They are parallel. Therefore, they are saying the same thing.” Ephesians 2 contains an element that the Colossians passage does not have, which is Paul is working to unite Jews and Gentiles. That is the whole point of Ephesians 2:5. That portion of it is missing from the Colossians passage. Here is a helpful note on Colossians 2:14 from the Reformation Study Bible:

          "2:14 canceling the record of debt. The law is compared to a certificate of indebtedness written in the debtor’s own hand. Jesus was born “under the law,” subject to its demands and curses (Gal. 4:4). On the cross, He was “made . . . to be sin” (2 Cor. 5:21) and endured the law’s curse against unrighteousness (Gal. 3:13). In the execution of the death sentence on Jesus when He was nailed to the cross, Paul sees the cancellation of the death warrant that stood against transgressors of the law. Paul also sees here the fulfillment of their obligation to keep perfectly the law’s demands in order to enter into life. The believer is no longer subject to the threat of the law’s condemnation."

          The author fails to understand Colossians 2:14 in its immediate context, which is most certainly speaking about our debt of sin. The excerpt from the study Bible quoted above is relevant here. Nick is correct in saying that the Jews and Gentiles were separated, but is denying what Scripture teaches in terms of our justification in this passage. In addition, the metal nails and the wooden cross are vividly representative of Christ's propitiatory work.

          The author is correct when he says that the phrase ("certificate of debt with its legal demands") can be understood as "blotting out the handwriting." However, especially with phrases that are not used frequently, we must translate the phrase in its respective context. Colossians 2:14 is clearly speaking of our justification before God in terms of our sin. With almost all Greek and Hebrews words, there is a semantic range which is appropriate. While the word"cheirographon" can mean handwriting, it can also mean "certificate of indebtedness." That word is translated such from the context. Responsible translators of the Bible do not simply apply that meaning to that word to fit their theology.

          "I would say appealing to Colossians 2 is terrible for Protestants for a few reasons. My favorite reason is that the reference to "being dead in trespasses but made alive" (Col 2:13; Eph 2:5) is speaking of inward transformation. This passage is clearly talking about Justification, which Protestants say is purely legal in nature and by Imputation, yet Paul says it is about being made spiritually alive."

          Contrary to the claims of the author, justification being legal in nature (the process of Christ taking our place and our debt) does not exclude regeneration of the heart. In other words, the concept of inward renewal is not incompatible with a forensic justification framework. The two are not mutually exclusive. That is a completely false argument made on behalf of this Catholic apologist.

          Justification is never separated from the work of the Holy Spirit to make us holy. We would only seek to maintain that specifically the declaration of us being righteous (justification) is not based on our good works. We are made alive in Christ by faith, as Ephesians 2:5 says. Nick assumes that the texts which speak of internal transformation are about justification. That would be wrong because such an interpretation would result in a system of works righteousness, which is condemned by Scripture. These texts are associated with other aspects of salvation such as regeneration.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Does Exodus 32:30-32 Support The Treasury Of Merit?

"...First, note that there is no mention of-not even a slight allusion to-any treasure of merit to which someone can contribute and from which other people can draw. All this passage does is portray Moses as being willing to engage in great sacrifice on behalf of his people.

Here is the backdrop: Though the most blatant idolaters in the nation had already been put to death by the sword for their sin of idolatry with the golden calf, Moses knew that the nation as a whole was still guilty before God. The fact is, God had made a covenant with the nation as a whole, and the nation as a whole now bore collective guilt for this breach of the covenant (see Joshua 7).

Moses, therefore, wanted to make things right by seeking to make atonement (literally, "cover" the sin) for the people (Exodus 32:20). Moses seems to have assumed that the penalty for their sin would be death, as is often threatened in the law (28:43). Moses informed God that if He did not forgive forgive the people (removing the death penalty), he wanted to have his name removed from the book God had written (32:22).

......it is clear from this passage that God rejected Moses's offer and promised to punish the sinners themselves by premature death (Exodus 32:33,34). This indicates that no human being can atone for the sins of another. The prophets often spoke of individual responsibility for sins (Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Ezekiel 18; 33:10-20)....

Clearly, then, this passage provides no support for any so-called "treasury of merit" from which those in need can draw by indulgences. Such an idea is completely foreign to the context."

Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 160-162