Friday, November 1, 2019

A Rejoinder To Roman Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin On Genesis 15:6 And Reckoning Righteousness

  • Discussion:
          -Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers wrote an article on the text of Genesis 15:6 as it relates to justification and how he thinks that the text should be applied in soteriological discussions. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

          "Abraham is already a follower of God, someone who already has faith in him, and the context stresses Abraham’s good works and righteousness: (1) He defeated the evil kings. (2) He rescued Lot and the other captives. (3) He went to a priest of God and gave thanks for the victory. (4) He refused any reward from the wicked king of Sodom. (5) And so God himself promised to give Abraham a reward instead. (6) The fact that God is rewarding Abraham for what he has done shows this isn’t a case of a sinner coming to God and repenting so he can obtain forgiveness. It’s God rewarding a follower for faithful service. That means Abraham isn’t acquiring righteousness here for the first time. He is already righteous, as his actions have shown. Then Abraham believes the incredible promise that he will have a multitude of descendants, despite his age (cf. Rom. 4:19, Heb. 11:12), and God reckons that act of belief as a new act of righteousness on Abraham’s part."

          None of the above comments really address the text of Genesis 15:6 on its own terms. There is no interaction whatsoever with the language that Abraham "believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness." The "it" is a reference to his faith. His faith is the basis for receiving righteousness. That belief certainly does not preclude the obedience of Abraham. This man's trust in God and His promises was the instrumental cause of him being counted righteous, not any good works that he did. Consider also the following excerpts from the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (New King James Version) on Romans 4:3 and Romans 4:6-8:

          "In context, Gen. 15:6 (cited here) refers to dependence on God's promise. Jewish teachers developed the implications of texts they expounded; here Paul highlights the Greek term "accounted," which he uses 11 times in ch. 4 ("impute" in v. 8), to emphasize God's generosity. Many Jewish readers, by contrast, understood Abraham's faith here as one of his virtuous works that accrued merit."

          "Jewish interpreters often linked texts based on a common key term; they also often expounded a reading in the Torah in connection with a reading elsewhere in Scripture. Paul here explains "credited" in Genesis 15:6 (quoted in v. 3) in light of Ps. 32:1-2 (quoted in vv. 7-8), which also speaks of what God credits to the righteous (cf. Ps. 32:5)."

          "Some translations bring this aspect out better than others. The New American Bible does a particularly good job. It says that the Lord “attributed it to him as an act of righteousness.” Notice, by the way, that Abraham’s act of faith also wasn’t generic in nature. Abraham already believed in and trusted God in a general way. Here he is believing something very specific: that God will give him a multitude of descendants—a point Paul recognizes when he uses the verse (Rom. 4:17-22). And notice that the righteousness isn’t a counterfactual, purely legal thing. Instead, believing God when he tells you he will do something is a righteous act. Abraham did something actually righteous here."

          There are translational differences. Many readings are legitimate. However, it is important to note that the addition of the word "act" is not present in the vast majority of translations. Moreover, it is absent from the Hebrew. The Hebrew word in Genesis 15:6 is "tsedaqah," which refers to justice or righteousness. It denotes a state of being righteous or just. It is referring to what something is. Abraham was declared righteous (something that he is), not Abraham does righteousness. The New English Translation has this footnote on Genesis 15:6:

           "tn The sentence begins with vav (ו) plus a perfect verb. It does not show simple sequence, which would have been indicated with a vav plus preterite as in the surrounding clauses. The nuance may be that Abram had already come to believe or did so while God was speaking. For a detailed discussion of the vav plus perfect construction in Hebrew narrative, see R. Longacre, “Weqatal Forms in Biblical Hebrew Prose: A Discourse-modular Approach,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 50-98. The verb אָמַן (ʾaman) occurs with a Niphal and Hiphil opposition. In the Niphal it means “to be faithful, reliable, firm, enduring.” While in the Hiphil, the form used here, it means “to consider or treat something as reliable, or dependable.” Abram regarded God as reliable for this promise; he believed."

           The line of reasoning in the excerpt from Mr. Akin seemingly depends on a reduction of what those promises to Abraham are: namely to some promise short of the gospel. Galatians 3:8, however, flatly calls it the gospel. Abraham looked forward to Jesus' day, and rejoiced (John 8:58). The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote on the text from Genesis 15:

           "15:6 This verse provides the early core doctrine of justification by faith, not by works (Gal. 3:6–14). Abraham believed the promise of the birth of an heir from the dead (Rom. 4:17–21; Heb. 11:11, 12), and God counted Abraham to be righteous...Abraham’s justification by faith is a model of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s sacrifice for sin, and God’s crediting His righteousness to us by faith (Rom. 4:22–25)."

          Defining faith as a work is a huge mistake. The two are always contrasted throughout Scripture. Ephesians 2:8-9 is a well-known example. Justification is expressly an unmerited and undeserved gift of God. If faith is a work, then that passage from Ephesians becomes self-contradictory. Faith is not a meritorious cause. Thus, to say that Abraham "does faith" is nonsense.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Note On Seemingly Cruel Words Found In The Book Of Psalms

"...some prayers and divine commands express but the purpose of a sovereign God Who frequently uses men to carry out His designs (Ps. 35, 69, 109, 137; Deut. 7:1-5, 16; 20:16-18). Strong says, the imprecatory Psalms are "not the ebullition of personal anger, but the expression of judicial indignation against the enemies of God," and, "an exterminating war was only the benevolent surgery that amputated the putrid limb, and so saved the religious life of the Hebrew nation of the after world."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 96

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

John 1:4 And The Deity Of Jesus Christ

"Take, for instance, the statement in the 4th verse, "In him was life." In the original Greek, this verse actually declares Jesus Christ to be not only the possessor of life, like you and me, but the originator and disposer of life. In John 10:18, Jesus said of His own physical life, "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." No human being in his right mind would dare to make such claims. Either Jesus Christ was God or he was insane. He could not have been a mere human being, as the whole Gospel of John illustrates. But what He said in John 10:18 was declared succinctly in John 1:4."

Spiros Zodhiates, Was Christ God?, p. 1

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Debunking Roman Catholic Apologist Tim Staples On Romans 5:1 And Sola Fide

  • Discussion:
          -Tim Staples of Catholic Answers wrote an article on how Roman Catholics should respond when objectors cite Romans 5:1 as proof for justification by faith alone. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

          "First, as baptized Catholics, we can agree that we have been justified and we have been saved. Thus, in one sense, our justification and salvation is in the past as a completed action. The initial grace of justification and salvation we receive in baptism is a done deal. And Catholics do not believe we were partially justified or partially saved at baptism."

          In attempting to deal with the text of Romans 5:1, the author approaches matters as if they are simpler than what they really are. The Roman Catholic plan of salvation is complicated with numerous laws and ordinances of the hierarchy. This intricate process is explained in its entirety through sources such as the Code of Canon Law. One can see the nature of the seven sacraments, purgatory, indulgences, liturgical calendar, monastic vows, instances of self-flagellation, etc. What has been described is obviously a legalistic system of works righteousness. In fact, the gospel presented by the Roman Catholic Church is so complex that it would be virtually impossible to even accurately describe what it is on a witnessing tract!

          Romans 5:1 says plainly that we are justified before a holy God by faith. Romans 5:2 elaborates on that thought and states that we have been reconciled to Him. In other words, we can now approach God with confidence because of what Christ has done on our behalf at Calvary. Nowhere does Romans 5:1 speak of getting justified and saved "in a sense" at infant baptism. Such an analysis utterly misses the point of Romans 5:1 and its context. Faith is our point of access to God.

          "This text indicates that after having received the grace of justification we now have access to God’s grace by which we stand in Christ and we can then rejoice in the hope of sharing God’s glory. That word “hope” indicates that what we are hoping for we do not yet possess (see Romans 8:24)."

           The term "hope" does not denote a state of doubt or uncertainty as it indicates a confident expectation that things will be done as God wills them.

          "The major part of the puzzle here that our Protestant friends are missing is that there are many biblical texts revealing both justification and salvation to have a future and contingent sense as well as these we have mentioned that show a past sense. In other words, justification and salvation also have a sense in which they are not complete in the lives of believers. Perhaps this is most plainly seen in Galatians 5:1-5."

           Justification is the first aspect of salvation. It is fully completed at the moment of our conversion. Sanctification will be completed at the end of our redemption. The idea of justification being "in a sense" incomplete should be rejected, unless we are referring to the evidential type spoken of in texts such as James 2:14-26.

         "The Greek word used in verse 6 [actually referring to Galatians 5:5] and here translated as “righteousness” is dikaiosunes, which can be translated either as “righteouness” or as “justification.” In fact, Romans 4:3, which we quoted above, uses a verb form of this same term for justification. Now the fact that St. Paul tells us we “wait for the hope of [justification]” is very significant."

          In Romans 4:3, the term "righteousness" is not a verb but a noun.

           "The truth is: this example of justification being in the future is not an isolated case. There are numerous biblical texts that indicate both justification and salvation to be future and contingent realities, in one sense, as well as past completed realities in another sense [Matthew 10:22; Romans 2:13-16; 6:16; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 5:5]."

           In what sense is the term "justification" being used in the above texts? If it is used in the sense of proved or vindication (evidence of a changed heart), then they do fit into a forensic justification framework.

           "While the Catholic Church agrees that Abraham was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6 as St. Paul said, we also note that Abraham was justified at other times in his life as well indicating justification to have an on-going aspect to it. Again, there is a sense in which justification is a past action in the life of believers, but there is another sense in which justification is revealed to be a process."

           This is nothing but circular reasoning. Even granting that Abraham was justified multiple times throughout his life, that does not prove he was justified in the sense of having been declared righteous in the sight of God. He could have been justified in an evidential sense, which we would expect to be ongoing. 

            "For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has taken all of Sacred Scripture into the core of her theology harmonizing all of the biblical texts. Thus, we can agree with our Protestant friends and say as Christians we have been (past tense) justified and saved through our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But we also agree with our Lord that there is another sense in which we are being saved and justified by cooperation with God’s grace in our lives, and we hope to finally be saved and justified by our Lord on the last day (Matthew 12:36-37)."

            It seems that Tim Staples has only made feeble excuses to dance around Romans 5:1. Dr. Cornelis P. Venema gives this commentary regarding judgement on the last day:

            "Paul regards justification as a thoroughly eschatological blessing...The notion of a final justification on the basis of works inevitably weakens the assertion that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). A final justification on the basis of works also undermines Paul’s bold declaration that no charge can be brought, now or in the future, against those who are Christ’s (Rom. 8:33–34). Rather than treating the final judgment as another chapter in the justification of believers, we should view Paul’s emphasis upon the role of works in this judgment in terms of his understanding of all that salvation through union with Christ entails. Because believers are being renewed by Christ’s Spirit, their acquittal in the final judgment will be a public confirmation of the genuineness of their faith and not a justifying verdict on the basis of works....these good works are the fruits of faith, not the basis for a future justification. For this reason, Paul speaks of a judgment “according to,” not “on the basis of” works."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Details On The Accuracy Of The New Testament

Archaeological discoveries have done much to confirm the historical accuracy of the Scriptures. Hammurabi, Sargon II, the Hittites, and Belshazzar are no longer problems to the historian. Garstang has now established the date of the Exodus on solid ground,12 which makes it possible to work out a consistent chronology from Abraham to Solomon. The large sums of money of which we sometimes read can be partly explained as required by the recurring changes in the value of money and partly as transcriptional errors. This latter suggestion applies also to the large armies of which we sometimes read. Robt. Dick Wilson shows that forty-some kings of Scripture have been found in archaeological research.13 Geo. L. Robinson, formerly of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Chicago, says: "No explicit contradiction of Scripture of any moment whatever moment has ever been found. More and more, scholars are coming to recognize the substantial verity of the Bible. And less and less do archaeologists endorse the evolutionary hypothesis of Higher Criticism to explain the growth of Law and religion in Israel."14

Similar solutions may be adopted for the problems that are brought forward from the New Testament...The "level place" in Luke 6:17 was probably on the same mountain as is mentioned in Matt. 5:1, and so the "Sermon" in the two gospels is the same sermon. There was an old Jericho and a new Jericho, and the blind man was probably between the two Jerichos (Matt 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35).The fact that Matthew speaks of two men and Mark and Luke only of one may be explained on the ground of the particular interest of the writers. This is also true of the account of two (Matt. 8:28) or one (Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27) demon-possessed men in Decapolis. The so-called mistakes of Stephen (Acts 7) have been harmonized satisfactorily.15

Archaeological discoveries also confirm the truthfulness of the New Testament Quirinius (Luke 2:2) was apparently twice governor of Syria (B.C. 16-12 and 6-4), the latter being the time referred to by Luke. "Lysanias the tetrarch" is mentioned in an inscription on the site of Abilene at the time to which Luke refers. An inscription at Lystra, by the native Lycaonians, records the dedication of a statue to Zeus (Jupiter) and Hermes (Mercury), which shows that these gods were classed together in the local cult, as implied in Acts 14:12. Ramsay found that when Paul went from Iconium to Lystra he crossed from Phrygia into Lycaonia (Acts 14:6); but before this discovery every authoritative geographer taught that Acts was wrong.16 Luke calls the officials of Philippi "praetors," which is not technically correct, but Ramsay declares that the inscriptions indicate that the term was "frequently employed as a courtesy title for the superior magistrates of a Roman colony."17 An inscription from Paphos refers to the "proconsul Paulus," who has been identified at the Sergius Paulus of Acts 13:7.

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 92-94

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Does God Infuse Righteousness Into Our Souls Or Declare Us To Be Righteous?

  • Discussion:
           -Karlo Broussard of Catholic Answers wrote an article on how we should understand the word reckoned as translated in Romans 4:3. Are we to understand that term as a legal status that God declares us to be or is righteousness infused into our souls? The purpose of this article is to counter a few of this Roman Catholic apologist's claims on the matter:

           "First, just because the Bible uses the language of God “reckoning” a person as righteous, it doesn’t follow that there is no ontological transformation—a change in what the sinner is. There is no reason why God’s declaration of our righteousness and our transformation by grace must be mutually exclusive. The two can be harmonized."

            The legal declaration of us being righteous in His sight (justification) is to be distinguished with the gradual process by which God makes us righteous (sanctification). He not only erases our record of transgressions against Him, but also transforms us to live in accordance with His will.

           "But God’s forgiveness of David’s sins [Romans 4:8, where Paul quotes Psalm 32:2] was not merely a legal declaration without some existential effect on David. To the contrary, David describes God’s forgiveness of his sins as being made “clean” and “whiter than snow” (51:7). And herein lies the key to God no longer reckoning David’s sin: the objective guilt of those sins had been removed. God’s reckoning was an evaluation that correctly corresponded to the objective reality of that which was being reckoned."

           The forgiveness of sins enables us to overcome personal guilt and be at peace with God. Everything that surrounds justification is not to be conflated with justification itself. Forgiveness is an aspect of justification, but it does not make up its entirety.

           "There are other passages that fit the same pattern. For example, in Romans 8:18 Paul “considers” [logizomai] that our current sufferings are not worth comparing with our glory that is to be revealed in heaven. Paul’s mental evaluation of our present sufferings compared to our glory in heaven matches the objective reality about the two. In Romans 9:8, Paul “reckons” [logizomai] Abraham’s spiritual children as God’s children. Paul’s evaluation about Abraham’s spiritual children corresponds to what they really are: God’s children."

           Notice that in each of the above examples a reckoning according to reality takes place—a mental evaluation that correctly corresponds to reality. Never does the reckoning in these verses suggest a mere declaration that is not intended to match up to the reality. There are some passages in Scripture where people “reckon” something in a way that doesn’t match the true nature of the thing being reckoned (see Mark 15:28; Rom. 2:3). But in these cases the reckoning is seen as flawed."

           The King James Version translates Strong's G3049 (logizomai) in the following manner: think (9x), impute (8x), reckon (6x), count (5x), account (4x), suppose (2x), reason (1x), number (1x), miscellaneous (5x). It has a slightly wide semantic range of meaning (For example: to reckon, count, compute, calculate).

           The term logizomai has many instances in which something is accounted, reckoned, or regarded in a manner that corresponds with reality. But this accounting term does not always have to carry that meaning. This is the grounds for the Apostle Paul’s argument in Romans 4.

           Interestingly, the form of logizomai that occurs in Romans 2:26 is an instance that can clearly be understood in a judicial or declarative sense. It would be absurd to assert that circumcision is infused into somebody. God treats a righteous man who is uncircumcised as if he is circumcised. 2 Timothy 4:16 also has a form of logizomai that can mean impute something on somebody’s behalf. So we can indeed interpret the Greek word in the sense of Christ’s righteousness being credited to our account. 

           Furthermore, opponents of penal substitutionary theory have the dilemma of explaining what it means for God to not impute sin to believers in passages such as Psalm 32:1-2, Romans 4:7-8, and 2 Corinthians 5:19. God credits righteousness to the ungodly "apart from works." Their sins have been "forgiven" and "covered" (Romans 4:7-8). This source sheds more light on the meaning of logizomai in Romans 4: 

          "...In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the term often appears where individuals must treat a person or object as if it were something other than what it is inherently. For example, when the Levites received tithes, they were not to treat these tithes as actual tithes that had already been devoted to the Lord. Instead, they had to regard these tithes as their income and then pay a tithe to the Lord themselves from what had been given to them. Inherently, what the people gave were tithes. But the Levites reckoned them as income (Num. 18:25–32). Taking this all together, we see that in Romans 4 logizomai means to credit something to a person’s account and regard that person not according to what he has done or who he is but according to what is credited to his account."

           "So, when we come to Romans 4:3, where God “reckons” Abraham as righteous, it’s reasonable to conclude, in light of the foregoing analysis, that God evaluates Abraham to be righteous because in reality his faith truly has a righteous quality to it, thus making Abraham ontologically righteous. To say that God “reckons” Abraham as righteous even though he’s not, you either have to say that God was wrong in his reckoning or that you’re using the term reckon in a way that Paul does not. No Protestant wants to concede the first horn of the dilemma. And I doubt that many want to concede the second. So, rather than undermining the Catholic view of justification, God’s reckoning of Abraham as righteous in Romans 4:3 supports it."

           Following is an excerpt from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible on the text of Romans 4:4:

           "of debt: it must be his due, as wages are to an hireling. Now this was not Abraham's case, which must have been, had he been justified by works; he had a reward reckoned to him, and accounted his, which was God himself, "I am thy shield, and exceeding, great reward", Genesis 15:1; which must be reckoned to him, not of debt, but of grace; wherefore it follows, that he was justified, not by works, but by the grace of God imputed to him; that which his faith believed in for righteousness. The distinction of a reward of grace, and of debt, was known to the Jews; a the one they called פרס, the other שכר: the formerF4 they say is הגמול, "a benefit", which is freely of grace bestowed on an undeserving person, or one he is not obliged to; the other is what is given, בדין, "of debt", in strict justice."

           Following is an excerpt from Matthew Henry's Commentary on Romans 4:6-8:           

           "He further illustrates this by a passage out of the Psalms, where David speaks of the remission of sins, the prime branch of justification, as constituting the happiness and blessedness of a man, pronouncing blessed, not the man who has no sin, or none which deserved death (for then, while man is so sinful, and God so righteous, where would be the blessed man?) but the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin, who though he cannot plead, Not guilty, pleads the act of indemnity, and his plea is allowed. It is quoted from Ps. 32:1, 2, where observe, 1. The nature of forgiveness. It is the remission of a debt or a crime; it is the covering of sin, as a filthy thing, as the nakedness and shame of the soul. God is said to cast sin behind his back, to hide his face from it, which, and the like expressions, imply that the ground of our blessedness is not our innocency, or our not having sinned (a thing is, and is filthy, though covered; justification does not make the sin not to have been, or not to have been sin), but God's not laying it to our charge, as it follows here: it is God's not imputing sin (v. 8), which makes it wholly a gracious act of God, not dealing with us in strict justice as we have deserved, not entering into judgment, not marking iniquities, all which being purely acts of grace, the acceptance and the reward cannot be expected as debts; and therefore Paul infers (v. 6) that it is the imputing of righteousness without works. 2. The blessedness of it: Blessed are they. When it is said, Blessed are the undefiled in the way, blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, etc., the design is to show the characters of those that are blessed; but when it is said, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, the design is to show what that blessedness is, and what the ground and foundation of it. Pardoned people are the only blessed people. The sentiments of the world are, Those are happy that have a clear estate, and are out of debt to man; but the sentence of the word is, Those are happy that have their debts to God discharged. O how much therefore is it our interest to make it sure to ourselves that our sins are pardoned! For this is the foundation of all other benefits. So and so I will do for them; for I will be merciful, Heb. 8:12."

           We are under no obligation to conclude that God was wrong to credit a righteous status to Abraham even though he was not. That conclusion does not logically follow. The Lord knows what is in our hearts. Believers are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His righteousness belongs to us. This "legal transaction" is not a lie just because it is a gift. This is not a matter of legal fiction. Christ is a real Mediator. Christ is truly our Advocate. He truly obeyed the Law perfectly. He paid the penalty for sin on our behalf. These points are all rooted in fact.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

If The Four Gospels Were Not Written By Eyewitnesses, Then Does That Undermine Their Credibility?

        The four gospel narratives were written either by eyewitnesses themselves or from secondhand accounts of direct eyewitnesses. In regards to the writing timeline, they were all written within thirty years of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is a relatively short period of time in comparison to other ancient texts. It means that most of those who were eyewitnesses to the resurrection were still alive, even as Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:6).

       Even assuming that the four gospel accounts were not written by eyewitnesses, the conclusion that they are rubbish or inaccurate does not follow. A secondhand account (such as Luke) is not unreliable as long as the writer works closely with the original eyewitness. We do not doubt biographies that are carefully written. Eyewitness accounts are trusted on a daily basis in courtrooms.

        Moreover, the four gospels were written during a time when people committed to memory lengthy speeches upon hearing them. Consequently, it is not reasonable in this scenario to simply dismiss the memory of the eyewitnesses to the risen Christ as unreliable.

        Somebody might object that miraculous explanations are beyond the ability of the historian to verify. Such a premise would be valid only if we start with the presupposition that the miraculous is not a part of history. Even the disciples themselves were originally skeptical of Jesus’ resurrection. They were convinced of its truthfulness when they saw, heard, and touched Him in His glorified body (John 20:24-29; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-4).

Monday, October 21, 2019

Religious Titles Of Honor In The Roman Catholic Hierarchy

           Roman Catholic priests are addressed by the name "Father" as a formal religious title of honor. In addition, the pope wields the title "Holy Father." However, these titles of exaltation become problematic in light of Jesus Christ's teaching on this matter:

           "But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)

           The context of this passage focuses on religious elitism and hypocrisy. The Scribes and Pharisees of the Law loved being the center of attention. They did good works with the intention of receiving praise from other people. These men were outwardly righteous, but were actually depraved to the very core of their being.

           There certainly are figures of authority in the church. We can recognize an individual as being a spiritual father, a spiritual leader or teacher, bishop, elder, overseer, pastor, or a deacon. We can recognize doctorate degrees. But there is no biblical warrant for emphasizing titles to the point of self-exaltation. We never see people in the New Testament called "Father David," "Reverend Peter," "Doctor Timothy," etc.

           We are all "brethren" in Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:8), which means that no one in the church has intrinsic superiority over another. We are all servants of Christ who is our Master. We are not to use titles to call attention to our own accomplishments. God already knows our hearts. He knows whether or not we are faithful to Him. That is what really counts. There is nothing scriptural about pastors requiring members of God's church to address them by special titles of honor.

           Matthew 23:5-13 specifically forbids the love of flattering religious titles or believers striving to be placed on a pedestal. The underlying problem with insisting that we be addressed by formal titles of honor in the church is that we have a tendency to become puffed-up. The church is God's kingdom. Nothing could be more haughty than the pope taking on the title "Holy Father" when that title in Scripture is applied only to God (John 17:11). Nobody is pure except God alone (Mark 10:18).

    Sunday, October 20, 2019

    Commentary On Leviticus 10:17

    "[Leviticus] 10:17 eaten the sin offering. The purification (“sin”) offering absorbs the impurities that it was presented to remedy. When a great deal is absorbed, the offering is burnt (see 4:12), but on most occasions the priest’s eating of the offering is part of the purification process. Aaron’s reluctance to eat the offering may be caused by the presence of the corpses of his sons (v. 2), which add dangerous levels of impurity."

    Excerpt taken from the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture

    Thursday, October 17, 2019

    A Damning Mormon Quotable

    "I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting."

    Elder Boyd K. Packer, Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, p. 103, fn 22