Sunday, September 15, 2019

Religion Is A Product Of Evolution?

          "Dow is by no means the first scientist to take a stab at explaining how religion emerged. Theories on the evolution of religion tend toward two camps. One argues that religion is a mental artefact, co-opted from brain functions that evolved for other tasks.

          Another contends that religion benefited our ancestors. Rather than being a by-product of other brain functions, it is an adaptation in its own right. In this explanation, natural selection slowly purged human populations of the non-religious.

          “Sometime between 100,000 years ago to the point where writing was invented, maybe about 7000 BC, we begin to have records of people’s supernatural beliefs,” Dow says (https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13983-religion-is-a-product-of-evolution-software-suggests/#ixzz5zdTln4g7)

          To preface, the idea of religion evolving over an enormously long timespan is incompatible with the Judeo-Christian framework. According to Genesis 1-3, religion started with the worship of the true God. However, mankind rejected God and worship deteriorated into the worship of creation. God is Creator and not a product of evolution.

          Secondly, there were no psychologists alive to even observe the behaviors of any alleged hominins.

          Thirdly, nobody really seems to be discussing how atheism and naturalism evolved.

          If religion developed gradually to meet various emotional or adaptive requirements for continued survival, then what brought about that need?

          If our senses and intuition bring us into contact with reality, then would not religious belief connect us with God who actually exists?

          Even if it could be proven that a few religions were the product of evolution, that would still not prove all religions had the same origin or falsify the existence of God.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Were the Earliest Christians Only Concerned About Oral Tradition?

First, early Christianity was not an oral religion. Sure, traditions of Jesus were transmitted orally, but this is not the same thing. We cannot confuse a medium of transmission with a mentality (or disposition) of early Christian culture. I have argued elsewhere that early Christianity was a religion of textuality, even if most its adherents were illiterate (as were most people in the ancient world). For more, see my Question of Canon, 79-118.

Second, the authors represented in the Apostolic Fathers were obviously literate. Not only were they producing written sources, but they show awareness of (and interact with) other written sources. Indeed, the letter exchanges in early Christianity were rapid and extensive (see such exchanges in Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians as one example).

So, if these authors were quite textually oriented, why should we assume they mainly drew on oral tradition? Of all the people in early Christianity likely to be influenced by written texts, it would’ve been these authors!

Third, by the time these authors wrote in the second century, earlier generations of Christians had already exhibited significant interactions with written texts. For instance, the authors of Matthew and Luke seemed to know Mark (and possibly Q) and interacted with these writings textually. John may have known the texts of the Synoptics. And all of these Gospels interacted with the text of the OT.

So, if first-century Christians interacted often with written texts, then why would we assume Christian writers in the second century only used oral tradition?

Fourth, a number of times the Apostolic Fathers actually mention that they know of written Gospels! As just one example, Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis and wrote around 125AD (see inset picture!). He tell us plainly about the written gospels of Mark and Matthew:

The Elder used to say: Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he [Peter] remembered. . . . Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could.

What’s particularly noteworthy is that Papias received his information directly from “the Elder” who is no doubt “John the Elder” he mentions elsewhere as a follower and disciple of Jesus himself. Thus, although Papias is writing around 125 AD he is actually referring to a much earlier time when he received this tradition, probably around 90AD.

Here, then, is the key point: Papias attests to the fact that at the end of the first century, one of the primary ways Christians were receiving Jesus tradition was through written gospels, two of which were named Matthew and Mark (!). This fact alone should challenge the notion that only oral tradition can/should explain all citations in the Apostolic Fathers.

In sum, there’s little doubt that oral tradition still played a role in the second century and beyond. But, the evidence above suggests that there’s little reason to prefer oral tradition as the default, catch-all explanation for the Gospel tradition in the Apostolic Fathers.

On the contrary, the “bookish” nature of early Christianity, and its deep textual identity, suggests that we should be open to the idea that these authors—at least sometimes—knew and used written Gospel texts.

https://www.michaeljkruger.com/were-the-earliest-christians-only-concerned-about-oral-tradition-2/

Friday, September 13, 2019

God Will Provide A Way

         "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

         The Apostle Paul reminds us that God will assist us during times of temptation. We are assured that He will provide a means of escape from temptations to sin. This does not mean that God will make matters easier or more bearable for us, but that He will sustain us. He will empower us to endure temptation by His all-sufficient grace.

         A noteworthy point should be extracted from this text: every potential urge to wrong God or neighbor has been experienced by mankind. We are not alone. Our times of temptation are not hopeless or unconquerable. Thus, we have reason to be encouraged. God is faithful. He is greater than all of our temptations.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Topical Scripture Cross Reference Study On Sanctification

  • Sanctification Involves The Lord Conforming Believers To The Image Of His Son Jesus Christ:
          -"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:28)
          -"This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:11)
  • This Growth In Holiness Is A Consequence Of Being Filled With The Holy Spirit:
          -"to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)
          -"...Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
  • The Holy Spirit Works In Us So That We Can Please And Glorify God:
          -"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)
          -"But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
  • Believers Gradually Become More Like Christ As They Continue In Their Daily Walk With The Lord Who Consecrated Them:
          -"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." (Galatians 5:22-25)
  • The Process Of Sanctification Involves Human Effort:
          -"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Does Leviticus 19:20-22 Support Roman Catholic Confession To A Priest?

  • Discussion:
          -Sometimes Roman Catholic apologists will cite Leviticus 19:20-22 in an effort to give credence to their dogma of confessing sins to an ordained ministerial priest with the intention of receiving forgiveness from God. This argument is elaborated on by a Catholic source as follows:

          "Leviticus 19:20-22: A man who committed adultery had to bring a guilt offering for himself to the door of the tent of meeting (holy place where the ark of the covenant, which contained God’s true presence was kept). But then it adds “And the priest shall make atonement for him …before the Lord for his sin…and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven.” (see also Leviticus 5:5-6) The priest could not make atonement if he were not aware of the man's sin. He is acting as a mediator for the repentant sinner."

          First of all, it should be noted that this text says nothing regarding auricular confession or priestly absolution. Rather, sinners were simply to bring their guilt offerings (which were temporary coverings for sin) for the priest to make atonement. The priests managed the particulars of the Mosaic system. They supervised faithfulness to the Law. The priests presented gifts and animal sacrifices according to God's commandments.

          In offering up sacrifices for the sins of people, priests were to announce the means by which God chose for forgiveness. They were only doing as God had instructed them. This is similar to how Christians under the New Covenant clearly communicate the gospel and proclaim the way that God has chosen to offer forgiveness for our sins (1 Peter 2:5-9). The sacrificial system of the Old Covenant pointed to the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Besides, it is not as though Roman Catholics bring bloody animal sacrifices each time that they go to the confessional.

          There is no evidence in the Old Testament that the Jews were supposed to get their sins absolved by a priest or even confess sin to them. Even if the latter happened, the point remains that Christ abrogated the Levitical priesthood. His sacrifice has done away with the Law. We have direct access to God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22). An ordained ministerial priesthood has been cancelled out by His everlasting High Priesthood. We must place our trust in His work alone for salvation. While the confession of sin is very much a biblical concept, there is no basis for receiving the forgiveness of God by confessing sins to a mortal man.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Revelation 2:23 And The Deity Of Jesus Christ

        "And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds." (Revelation 2:23)

        It can readily be deduced from this text that Jesus Christ is a divine self. He is the One who rewards people according to their deeds. He is our Judge. We are accountable to God because He is our Creator.

        Furthermore, Christ's right and authority to judge us is rooted in His omniscience. He is divine in the same sense as the Father and Holy Spirit are divine. He is God incarnate. The Lord has fully comprehensive knowledge of everything.

        Jesus Christ searches the hearts and minds of people. He knows everything about us all. Another point which has significance here is that Christ in this passage quotes Jeremiah 17:10. God Himself in the verse from the Book of Jeremiah is speaking. Nonetheless, Christ makes a formal application of those exact attributes to Himself.

        Thus, we see that from Revelation 2:23 that Jesus Christ is God. He is not a created being. Noteworthy cross references for this passage would include 1 Chronicles 28:9 and Matthew 9:4.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Against Claims Of The Four Canonical Gospels Having Anonymous Authorship

        One claim raised to undermine the credibility of the four canonical gospels is that they were not written by the traditionally ascribed authors. Rather, unknown people during the end of the first to early second centuries created embellished records of Jesus Christ ministering and performing miracles. However, there are no good reasons for us to dismiss the four gospel narratives as being circulated legends or myths.

        First of all, any and all available manuscripts of the four gospels have the same titles designating their respective authors. All copies of Matthew have the same name. All copies of Mark have the same name. All copies of Luke have the same name. All copies of John have the same name. The titles of the traditionally attributed authors are present on all of the manuscript copies of the gospel narratives.

        Secondly, we have no early Christian rejection of the traditional authorship of the four gospels. A few examples of patristic support would include Irenaeus, Papias, Tertullian, and the church historian Eusebius. There exists no other tradition which conflicts with conventional claims of authorship.

        Thirdly, the four gospels are named after relatively unimpressive individuals. Matthew was a tax collector. Luke was not even an apostle. If the four canonical gospel narratives were forgeries, then it would have been far more probable that the authors used names of better known people such as Peter or Thomas. After all, that is the pattern we observe amongst heretics who produced their spurious works during the second and third centuries.

        Fourthly, if the four gospels were forgeries, then how come the authors did not simply make up an easier path to worship God? Why would the early Christians follow a way of life that would result in them being persecuted? Even the Jews allowed sacrifices to be offered to the Roman Emperor.

        How come the four gospel narratives contain embarrassing details regarding the twelve apostles? For instance, Peter denied Jesus Christ three times in a row (Luke 22:54-62). Matthew records Christ calling Peter Satan and a stumbling block (Matthew 16:23). Judas betraying Him to the chief priests and students of the Law also serves as a perfect example of embarrassing details. Paul prior to his conversion persecuted Christians. If the four gospel narratives were forgeries, then we should not expect their authors to incorporate such shameful and humiliating details regarding these people.

        Even if it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the original canonical gospels were anonymous, that point by itself would still not rule out traditional authorship attribution. Professor Michael J. Kruger provides these insightful comments:

        "For one, this did happen from time to time with Greco-Roman biographies. We do have examples of formally anonymous biographies, so this would not have been unheard of (e.g., Lucian’s Life of Demonax, Secundus the Silent Philosopher, Lives of the Prophets, Arrian’s Anabasis, and Sulpicious Severus’ Life of St. Martin ). But, Armin Baum has suggested another, and even more fundamental reason. Baum has argued that the Gospels were intentionally written as anonymous works in order to reflect the practice of the Old Testament historical books which were themselves anonymous (as opposed to other Old Testament writings, like the prophets, which included the identity of the author). Such a stylistic device allowed the authors of the gospels “to disappear” and to give “highest priority to their subject matter.” Thus, the anonymity of the Gospels, far from diminishing their scriptural authority, actually served to increase it by consciously placing the Gospels “in the tradition of Old Testament historiography.”

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Transgendered?

"Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future."

Dr. Paul R. McHugh, Transgenderism: A Pathological Meme

Monday, September 2, 2019

Ignatius Of Loyola And Submission To The Roman Catholic Church

          "To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed." (Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, Thirteenth Rule)

          Irrespective of whether or not we interpret Ignatius as using hyperbole, it stands to reason from the above excerpt that he taught unconditional surrender of the intellect and will to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It is the Magisterium that pronounces the allegedly infallible dogmas we are to embrace unquestioningly; dissenters are anathematized. This excerpt from Lumen Gentium provides us with additional commentary:

          "...the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated."

          Consider this excerpt from Est Sane Molestum Apostolic Letter by Pope Leo XIII:

          "To scrutinize the actions of a bishop, to criticize them, does not belong to individual Catholics, but concerns only those who, in the sacred hierarchy, have a superior power; above all, it concerns the Supreme Pontiff, for it is to him that Christ confided the care of feeding not only all the lambs, but even the sheep [cf. John 21:17]."

          Consider this excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Religious Discussions:

          "By a decree of Alexander IV (1254-1261) inserted in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii, and still in force, all laymen are forbidden, under threat of excommunication, to dispute publicly or privately with heretics on the Catholic Faith. The text reads: “Inhibemus quoque, ne cuiquam laicae personae liceat publice vel privatim de fide catholica disputare. Qui vero contra fecerit, excommunicationis laqueo innodetur.” (We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.)

           God has ordained the existence of various authoritative offices for our own good. We should obey our leaders to the extent that their decisions are sound and godly. However, the Roman Catholic Church requires a level of allegiance that simply cannot be substantiated on scriptural and logical grounds. The pope requires the submission of both intellect and will in all situations. It is not good enough to simply obey. Hence, we see that the Roman Catholic Church actually wields a significant amount of power over its adherents.

          The Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Society is known for thought control. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden by their church government to obtain blood transfusions. They have regulations as to what they can even look up on the internet. Mormonism is another perfect example of a sect whose government has established all sorts of legalistic rules and regulations. For instance, Mormons are forbidden to drink coffee and tea. In the same vein, the Church of Rome has dietary regulations on various holidays as a requirement for salvation. What all three groups have in common is that adherents are made to obey an authoritarian leader. The hierarchies of these three sects claim to play an indispensable role in the salvation of their followers. All sorts of harsh and arbitrary rules are imposed on these deceived people.

          There are drastic, unfortunate consequences of submitting to an organisation that requires unconditional submission. The New Testament gives us the liberty to individually choose whatever days to observe and foods to eat in thanksgiving and glory to God. No self-proclaimed pastor has the right to dogmatically impose rules that can be found nowhere in Scripture. The Apostle Paul called out Peter for potentially splitting the Christian church as he ceased eating with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-16). Even the most godly and intelligent ministers and theologians can make serious blunders in matters related to faith and morals. 

           If we uphold the principle of Sola Scriptura, then it follows that we have an objective standard by which leaders are held accountable for their actions (Acts 17:10-11; 2 Timothy 3:16). God is the only One who we owe unconditional submission of the intellect and will (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29; James 4:7). It is to Him alone that all will give an account for their deeds performed in the body on Judgement Day.

Is Earth Just A Pale Blue Dot In A Huge And Hostile Universe?

"Response #1: “I agree that the universe is hostile to life. But how does that make the case against God? Doesn’t the existence of a planet like Earth, that overcomes the statistically impossible odds of existing in such an unfavorable universe – especially given the level of fine-tuning that is required for a planet to support life – demonstrate the need for Divine intervention? The odds of a planet like Earth, supporting the life that it supports, is more than just statistically improbable. It’s miraculous. Why wouldn’t the existence of a planet like ours demonstrate the existence of a Divine Creator?”

Response #2: “OK, imagine finding yourself in a vast desert stretching for hundreds of miles in every direction. As you walk in this huge wasteland, you discover a stone. Examining it closely, you find that something has been written on it. The words appear to be freshly scribed in dried blood: “Help! I have been kidnapped, and I am being held hostage a mile from here in a small red shack. Please contact authorities!” Should we ignore the stone and toss it back to the ground along with all the millions of other stones in this huge desert? Why should we consider this stone to be anything special? After all, this is just another stone among millions. They’ve been here a long time. Can you see why it doesn’t really matter how big the desert is, how many stones there are, how long the stones have been out here, or how old the desert is? This stone is special. It bears the hallmark of design and intelligence. It begs us to investigate further and to find the author. In a similar way, it doesn’t really matter how big the universe is, how many planets there are, how long the planets have been out here, or how old the universe is. Our little pale blue dot is special. It bears the hallmark of design and intelligence. Can you see why it begs us to investigate further and to find the author of life?”

https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/quick-shot-earth-is-just-a-pale-blue-dot-in-a-huge-hostile-universe/