Monday, September 30, 2019

A Rational Argument For The Existence Of The Human Soul

"In this discussion, many modern scientific thinkers have taken position that consciousness is an illusory faculty created by our neuronal activity. According to this position, our subjective self-awareness is wholly imagined fantasy that has no objective existence:

“Despite our every instinct to the contrary, there is one thing that consciousness is not; some deep entity inside the brain that corresponds to the “self”, some kernel of awareness that runs the show ... after more than a century of looking for it brain researchers have long since concluded that there is no conceivable place for such a self to be located in the physical brain, and that it simply doesn’t exist.” (Journalist Michael Leminick, Time Magazine)

“We feel, most of the time, like we are riding around inside our bodies, as though we are an inner subject that can utilize the body as a kind of object. This last representation is an illusion ... “ (Atheist author Sam Harris)

“The intuitive feeling that we have that there’s an executive “I” that sits in the control room of our brain ... is an illusion.” (Dr. Steven Pinker)

These thinkers all readily acknowledge that our actual experience of reality seems to fly in the face of their description of it — hence Professor Dennett’s “problem of consciousness.” One would think that in order to draw conclusions about the true nature of this problem they would rely on carefully researched evidence and hard facts before informing us that every experience that we have (or will ever have) — from love and morality to the appreciation of beauty and free will — are fictitious. Here are some examples of what the world of science does actually offer on this topic:

“Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious.” (Dr. Jerry Fodor, Professor of philosophy and cognitive science)

“The problem of consciousness tends to embarrass biologists. Taking it to be an aspect of living things, they feel they should know about it and be able to tell physicists about it, whereas they have nothing relevant to say.” (Dr. George Wald, Nobel Prize winning biologist)

“Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all.” (Dr. Nick Herbert, Physicist)

Based on these honest assessments of the state of scientific knowledge on this topic one might think that these thinkers — who have a priori drawn conclusions on a subject for which they seem to have little to no evidence — would speak in far more humble and guarded tones. No one seriously suggests that protons, quarks or chemical compounds possess innate awareness. Why then do they suggest that the products of these foundational materials will suddenly leap into self-cognizance? Is this a truly rational position to hold? Exactly how many electrons does it take for them to become “aware” of themselves? Cells do not wonder about themselves, molecules have no identity and a machine — no matter how sophisticated — is imbecilic (without its programmer).

If our decision-making faculty was indeed an illusion of the brain it should be impossible to physically affect the brain through our own willful decisions and yet research has demonstrated that the “I” can and does alter brain activity through the agency of free will as described by Canadian neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard:

“Jeffrey Schwartz ... a UCLA neuropsychiatrist, treats obsessive-compulsive disorder — by getting patients to reprogram their brains. Evidence of the mind’s control over the brain is actually captured in these studies. There is such a thing as mind over matter. We do have will power, consciousness, and emotions, and combined with a sense of purpose and meaning, we can effect change.”

Why then should we not consider the possibility — the one that satisfies our deepest, most powerful and intuitive sense — that the “I” that we all experience is the human soul? And that the reason that science has not discovered its whereabouts is not that it doesn’t exist, but rather that it is not part of physical reality as we know it and as such is undetectable and unmeasurable by material means. It is certainly understandable that for those who believe that material reality is the only reality this would be an unwelcome notion. Nonetheless, I submit that in absence of any compelling alternative and with the obviousness of the reality of our self-awareness so manifestly apparent — it is the rational conclusion to draw."

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/rational-argument-human-soul_b_920558

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Granville Sharp Rule And Evidence For Jesus Christ's Deity

  • Titus 2:13 Is An Example Of Where The Granville Sharp Rule Is Applied:
          -"In the original Greek, the words for “God” and “Savior” are joined by kai, and the definite article ho is only used once, preceding “God”; according to the Granville Sharp Rule, both God and Savior must refer to the same person, namely, Jesus Christ. The NASB 1977 renders the verse more literally: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”...The grammatical construction of the Greek makes it plain: definite article + singular noun + copulative conjunction + singular noun = the same person." (Got Questions, "What is the Granville Sharp Rule?")
  • The Granville Sharp Rule Does Not Apply To Things, Plurals, Or Proper Names. Daniel B. Wallace Gives These Pertinent Remarks Here:
          -"In native Greek constructions (i.e., not translation Greek), when a single article modifies two substantives connected by kai (thus, article-substantive- kai-substantive), when both substantives are (1) singular (both grammatically and semantically), (2) personal, (3) and common nouns (not proper names or ordinals), they have the same referent."
  • The Following Excerpt Has Been Taken From The Same Source As The Previous One:
          -"...solid linguistic reasons and plenty of phenomenological data were found to support the requirements that Sharp laid down. When substantives meet the requirements of Sharp’s canon, apposition is the result, and inviolably so in the NT. The canon even works outside the twenty-seven books and, hence, ought to be resurrected as a sound principle which has overwhelming validity in all of Greek literature. Consequently, in Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1 we are compelled to recognize that, on a grammatical level, a heavy burden of proof rests with the one who wishes to deny that “God and Savior” refers to one person, Jesus Christ."
  • Dr. James R. White Provides Similar Clarifications Of The Granville Sharp Rule As Follows:
          -"Basically, Granville Sharp's rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word 'and,' and the first noun has the article ('the') while the second does not, both nouns are referring to the same person."
  • Examples Of Granville Sharp Construction Found In The New Testament (Excerpt Taken From James White Of Alpha and Omega Ministries):
          -"Kenneth Wuest in his Expanded Translation brings out the Sharp constructions in a number of other instances. For example, 2 Thessalonians 1:12 reads, “in accordance with the grace of our God, even the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Timothy 5:21: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of our God, even Jesus Christ,…” and 2 Timothy 4:1: “I solemnly charge you as one who is living in the presence of our God, even Christ Jesus,…” All these demonstrate further examples of Sharp’s rule. Not all examples, of course, deal with the fact of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 3:2 reads, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ συνεργὸν, “our brother and fellow-worker,” in reference to Timothy. Philemon 1 contains a similar reference, and Hebrews 3:1 is yet another example. One of the most often repeated examples has to do with the idiom, “God and Father.” Pure Sharp constructions occur at 2 Corinthians 1:3, Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 4:20, and 1 Thessalonians 3:11. Finally, other examples of Sharp constructions occur at 1 Corinthians 5:10, 7:8, 7:34, Ephesians 5:5, Philippians 2:25, and Colossians 4:7."
  • The NET Bible Has This Footnote:
          -"Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. The only issue is whether terms such as “God” and “Savior” could be considered common nouns as opposed to proper names. Sharp and others who followed (such as T. F. Middleton in his masterful The Doctrine of the Greek Article) demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, qeos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, swthr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp’s rule."
  • The NET Bible Has This Footnote On 2 Peter 1:16:
           -"sn The term grandeur was used most frequently of God’s majesty. In the 1st century, it was occasionally used of the divine majesty of the emperor. 2 Pet 1:1 and 1:11 already include hints of a polemic against emperor-worship (in that “God and Savior” and “Lord and Savior” were used of the emperor)."
  • We Know That The Terms "God" And "Savior" Are Both Applied To Jesus Christ In Titus 2:13 Because The Next Verse Says The Following:
          -"who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."
          -Christ is the One who gave Himself up on our behalf as a sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. There is no contextual evidence for the "who" reference in Titus 2:14 being plural.
  • Dr. James White Gives This Commentary On Titus 2:13 (Following Excerpt Taken From The Same Article As White's Other Quotes Above):
          -"It might also be mentioned that verse 14, while directly referring to Christ, is a paraphrase of some Old Testament passages that refer to Yahweh God. (Psalm 130:8, Deuteronomy 7:6, etc). One can hardly object to the identification of Christ as God when the Apostle goes on to describe His works as the works of God!"
  • This Excerpt From The Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary On Titus 2:13 Is Also Relevant Here:
          -"There is but one Greek article to “God” and “Savior,” which shows that both are predicated of one and the same Being. “Of Him who is at once the great God and our Savior.” Also (2) “appearing” ({epiphaneia}) is never by Paul predicated of God the Father (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16), or even of “His glory” (as Alford explains it): it is invariably applied to Christ‘s coming, to which) (at His first advent, compare 2 Timothy 1:10) the kindred verb “appeared” ({epephanee}), Titus 2:)11, refers (1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:8). Also (3) in the context (Titus 2:14) there is no reference to the Father, but to Christ alone; and here there is no occasion for reference to the Father in the exigencies of the context. Also (4) the expression “great God,” as applied to Christ, is in accordance with the context, which refers to the glory of His appearing; just as “the true God” is predicated of Christ, 1 John 5:20. The phrase occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but often in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 7:21; Deuteronomy 10:17, predicated of Jehovah, who, as their manifested Lord, led the Israelites through the wilderness, doubtless the Second Person in the Trinity. Believers now look for the manifestation of His glory, inasmuch as they shall share in it. Even the Socinian explanation, making “the great God” to be the Father, “our Savior,” the Son, places God and Christ on an equal relation to “the glory” of the future appearing: a fact incompatible with the notion that Christ is not divine; indeed it would be blasphemy so to couple any mere created being with God."

Monday, September 23, 2019

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 Is A Problematic Passage For Roman Catholic Transubstantiation

        "They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:3-4)

        This passage of Scripture is relevant to Roman Catholic transubstantiation because it affirms that Jesus Christ is our source of spiritual nourishment. He is our spiritual food. He, the substance, is the same substance that is made mentally present by faith at the meal of the New Covenant.

        Transubstantiation does not involve the eating and drinking of Christ in a "spiritual" manner. That language is distinct from Roman Catholic dogma. Transubstantiation takes place when the priest pronounces the bread and wine to be Jesus Christ's actual body and blood (the change is not in the accidents, but substance).

        What matters in Roman Catholic theology is the participation in that physical substance. But this is directly contrary to the way that the Scriptures speak concerning the participation of those ancient people in the meal and water (during the Exodus).

         The Israelites "ate" and "drank" Christ, which must be spiritual and not physical because no transubstantiation took place during the Old Testament. We partake of Christ in the same spiritual way that the Old Testament Jews did: by faith.

Does Matthew 25:31-46 (Parable Of The Sheep And Goats) Refute Justification By Faith Alone?

        First of all, it should be noted that the context of Matthew 25:31-46 is about the quality of faithfulness. It is not about justification or how one gets right with God.

        Secondly, works are not being prescribed as criteria for salvation in this passage. Rather, they provide descriptions of who belongs in either one of two categories: sheep or goats.

        The former group experienced genuine conversion of heart which results in the performance of good works, whereas those in the latter group simply did not care for the things of God.

         Jesus Christ was addressing matters from a general standpoint, not giving specific ordinances or rituals that we must observe in order to earn God's favor. The Lord points to our works in judgement because they serve as convictable evidence of our obedience to Him.

         There is an element of grace alone present in Matthew 25:34 ("...blessed by My Father..."). The kingdom of heaven was prepared by God as a result of His kindness and mercy. This inheritance was prepared for us long before we were even born ("before the foundation of the world"). This is clearly not a matter of earning our way into heaven by good works. The concept of justification by faith alone goes hand in with grace (Romans 4:16).

         God will certainly reward believers for their good deeds. On the other hand, the reception of eternal life is a free gift that He gives. The works that we do perform are a result of His divine grace. Justification is not by works of righteousness which we have done (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are to place our trust in Christ's work alone for salvation.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Examples Of Medieval Expositors Who Used "Faith Alone" In Their Commentaries On Romans

"...a number of Latin commentators echoed the Pauline language of faith alone (sola fide) when commenting on justification in the book of Romans. Examples include Cassiodorus (ca. 485-583),26 Lanfranc of Bec (ca. 1003-1089),27 Bruno of Cologne (1032-1101),28 and Robert of Melun (ca. 1100-1167).29 A survey of these medieval commentators suggests that they limited their understanding of justification primarily to the remission of past sins only.30 Nonetheless, it is significant to note that the Reformers were not the first to use the phrase sola fide in their interpretation of Romans."31

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 138

Early Church Evidence For Sola Fide

"The fourth-century writer Marius Victorinus (who converted to Christianity around 355), says of Paul's teaching in Galatians: "Therefore righteousness is not from the law; that is, justification and salvation come not from the law but from faith, as is promised."13 Commenting on the book of Ephesians, he says of God's grace, "He did not give back to us what was merited, since we did not receive this by merits but by the grace and goodness of God."14 Later he adds, "The fact that you Ephesians are saved is not something that comes from yourselves. It is the gift of God. It is not from your works, but it is God's grace and God's gift, not from anything you have deserved."15 And again, "Only faith [sola fides] in Christ is salvation for us."16

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 66

7th Century BC Stamp Bearing Name Of King David's Son Unearthed In Jerusalem

"The less than half-an-inch sealing was uncovered by an Israeli teen volunteer at City of David excavation site.

A minute stamp seal from 2,600 years ago bearing the name of King David’s son was recently found in an excavation site in Jerusalem, the City of David Foundation announced Sunday in a press release.

The seal, believed to be used by the highest ranking ministers in ancient Jerusalem to sign documents, bears the Hebrew name and title, “Adoniyahu by appointment of the house,” (“Asher Al Habayit”) and appears numerous times in the Bible under different kings in each of the ancient kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

The phrase appears for the first time on the list of ministers of King Solomon, the Foundation said.

“This tiny stamp seal has immense meaning to billions of people worldwide,” said Doron Spielman, Vice-President of the City of David Foundation.

The personal signet dates back to the era of Solomon's Temple in the 7th century BCE and “is another link in the long chain of Jewish history in Jerusalem that is being uncovered and preserved at the City of David on a daily basis,” Speilman added.

The name Adoniyahu was given to one of King David's sons as mentioned in the Book of Kings. It is also mentioned as one of the Levites in the days of Jehoshaphat, and finally in the days of Nehemiah as one of the “Heads of, the people…” (Nehemiah 9:16).

Eliyahu Yanai, City of DavidThis unearthed bulla is approximately one-centimeter-wide (less than half an inch), and according to the type of writing that appears on it, dates to the 7th century BC in ancient Jerusalem.

The unearthed seal is approximately one-centimeter-wide (less than half-an-inch), and based on its calligraphy, dates as far back as the Kingdom of Judah during the 7th century BCE. These types of stamps were small pieces of tin used in ancient times to sign documents, and were meant to keep the letters closed en route to their destination, the City of David Foundation said.

The item was discovered as part of excavations that began in 2013 underneath Robinson's Arch at the foundations of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was uncovered last month by teenage volunteer Batya Offen."

https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/1568040407-7th-century-stamp-bearing-name-of-king-david-s-son-unearthed-in-jerusalem

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Why Bible Translation Is So Important

The Bible is one of the oldest and most popular books of all time. But is it just a book, or is it much more?

We believe that the Bible is God’s Word to us — something that everyone should be able to understand in a language and form that clearly speaks to their hearts. But approximately 2,000 languages* around the world are still waiting for a translation project to begin.

When people finally get Scripture in their own language, lives often change in amazing ways. People are transformed as they discover Jesus Christ and enter into a right relationship with God.

That’s why [groups such as] Wycliffe Bible Translators exists — to help speakers of these remaining languages get the Bible for themselves. And we won’t stop until all people have God’s Word in a language they understand.

The Worldwide Status of Bible Translation:

More than 1,500 languages have access to the New Testament and some portions of Scripture in their language.

More than 650 languages have the complete translated Bible.

At least 7,000 spoken or signed languages* are known to be in use today.

At least 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their language — that’s more people than the entire continent of Africa!

More than 2,500 languages across 170 countries have active translation and linguistic development work happening right now.

Approximately 2,000 languages still need a Bible translation project to begin.

https://www.wycliffe.org/about/why

Monday, September 16, 2019

Early Church Evidence For The Deity Of Christ

The oldest surviving sermon of the Christian church after the New Testament opened with the words: “Brethren, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ as of God, as the judge of living and dead. And we ought not to belittle our salvation; for when we belittle him, we expect also to receive little.”

The oldest surviving account of the death of a Christian martyr contained the declaration: “It will be impossible for us to forsake Christ . . . or to worship any other. For him, being the Son of God, we adore, but the martyrs . . . we cherish.”

The oldest surviving pagan report about the church described Christians as gathering before sunrise and “singing a hymn to Christ as to [a] god.”

The oldest surviving liturgical prayer of the church was a prayer addressed to Christ: “Our Lord, come!”

Clearly it was the message of what the church believed and taught that “God” was an appropriate name for Jesus Christ.

[Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100–600) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 173; emphasis added.]

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/can-know-new-testament-teaches-jesus-god/

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.