Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Ridiculousness Of The Roman Catholic Eucharist

"But seeing, for the frequency of pretending the change of nature in their consecrations, it cannot be esteemed a work extraordinary, it is no other than a conjuration or incantation, whereby they would have men to believe an alteration of nature that is not, contrary to the testimony of man’s sight and of all the rest of his senses. As for example, when the priest, instead of consecrating bread and wine to God’s peculiar service in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (which is but a separation of it from the common use to signify, that is, to put men in mind of, their redemption by the Passion of Christ, whose body was broken and blood shed upon the cross for our transgressions), pretends that by saying of the words of our Saviour, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood,” the nature of bread is no more there, but his very body; notwithstanding there appeareth not to the sight or other sense of the receiver anything that appeared not before the consecration. The Egyptian conjurers, that are said to have turned their rods to serpents, and the water into blood, are thought but to have deluded the senses of the spectators by a false show of things, yet are esteemed enchanters. But what should we have thought of them if there had appeared in their rods nothing like a serpent, and in the water enchanted nothing like blood, nor like anything else but water, but that they had faced down the king, that they were serpents that looked like rods, and that it was blood that seemed water? That had been both enchantment and lying. And yet in this daily act of the priest, they do the very same, by turning the holy words into the manner of a charm, which produceth nothing new to the sense; but they face us down, that it hath turned the bread into a man; nay, more, into a God; and require men to worship it as if it were our Saviour himself present, God and Man, and thereby to commit most gross idolatry. For if it be enough to excuse it of idolatry to say it is no more bread, but God; why should not the same excuse serve the Egyptians, in case they had the faces to say the leeks and onions they worshipped were not very leeks and onions, but a divinity under their species or likeness? The words, “This is my body,” are equivalent to these, “This signifies, or represents, my body”; and it is an ordinary figure of speech: but to take it literally is an abuse; nor, though so taken, can it extend any further than to the bread which Christ himself with his own hands consecrated. For he never said that of what bread soever any priest whatsoever should say, “This is my body,” or “This is Christ’s body,” the same should presently be transubstantiated."

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Of the Kingdom of Darkness (Chap. XLVI)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Men Of Faith Who Were Also Men Of Science

 "We, the undersigned students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researchers into scientific truth are prevented by some in our own times into occasions for casting doubt into occasions for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.

We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ.

We are not forgetful that physical science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular.

We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ.

We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong.

Rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree."

A manifesto signed by 617 men of science at the British Association of Scientists in 1865; cited by Alfred M. Rehwinkel in The Flood, p. XVIII-XIX

Friday, April 15, 2022

Exegetical Analysis Of Ephesians 2:4-7

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us." (Ephesians 2:4)

Man has broken the laws of God and has come under His righteous judgement. Our sentence of eternal condemnation in the divine court is duly deserved. However, there is another dimension to be considered in which there is a remedy for our situation. Man has no merit on his own account, but God does. The Apostle Paul defines the means by which our salvation has been brought about: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7). What is the extent to which God loves us? It is very great, meaning a depth beyond our comprehension. His love is infinitely wide in scope. He reached out to us with His graceful offer of eternal life even though we were not seeking after Him.

"even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." (Ephesians 2:5)

Our disobedience toward God made us spiritually dead and destined for His wrath. It meant certain doom for us apart from the intervention of God Himself. Paul elsewhere specifies a number of ways that a person can violate God's Law: "...the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers..." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The point to be made is that no one on earth can live up to God's perfect moral standard. So, how can we be made alive with Jesus Christ? We are made alive together in Christ through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. We were once dead to heathen ways. Now we live a new life of holiness. Our old ways have passed away. Paul expounds further on the phrase about grace in parenthesis in Ephesians 2:8. The New Living Translation renders it as, "It is only by God's grace that you have been saved." We have been purchased by the blood of Christ to be vessels of honor to God. He initiates this transformative process of sanctification and brings it to completion.

"and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6)

We have been raised together to newness of life in union with Christ. That is the greatest benefit of having been reconciled to a holy God. We have a new identity in Christ as children of God. We have a new purpose in this life which is to bring glory to God. We become partakers of His kingdom, which is a kingdom of righteousness: "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). There is a radical change of heart which happens in the lives of those who place their faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul's former lifestyle was that of a murderer, since he persecuted the church of God. He went from zealously chasing after Christians to becoming a member of that very group that he had once despised. His transformed life was one of service to God in preaching the gospel. Paul now enjoys the fullness of fellowship with Christ in heaven. He has seen Him face to face in glory, and so can we.

"so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7)

Christ's sacrifice for our redemption is the greatest expression of love made by God to us. It serves as a testimony to His generosity for eternity. The greatest demonstration of love took place when Jesus Christ made atonement for our sins on the cross. He laid down His life for us. God ought to be praised forever for this wondrous deed. This act was not done because we were righteous and deserved His favor. It was solely because of God's benevolence.

There Will Always Be Inequality

"Human beings are obviously unequal in numberless ways, including: health, opportunities, abilities, energy, moral character, and contribution to society. It is essential, therefore, in asserting the equality of all men to delineate the nature and the source of that equality. In Christian ethics the nature of equality is that all men are equally to be loved — not equally admired, or emulated, or praised; but equally loved."

Calvin D. Linton, Wycliffe Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Carl F.H. Henry editor, p. 213-214

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Early Church Evidence Against Transubstantiation

"It is not we who eat human flesh — they among you who assert such a thing have been suborned as false witnesses; it is among you that Pelops is made a supper for the gods, although beloved by Poseidon, and Kronos devours his children, and Zeus swallows Metis."

Tatian's Address to the Greeks, Chapter XXV

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Was First Century Judaism Legalistic?

  • Defining the Issues:

          -Advocates of the New Perspective on Paul argue that first century Jewish people did not actually believe that righteousness is obtained through the keeping of the Law, but rather subscribed to a religion of grace or covenantal nomism. Theopedia expounds on that term as follows:

          "This term is essential to the NPP view, as Sanders argues that this is the "pattern of religion" found in Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism...as long as a Jew kept their covenant with God, he remained part of God's people. How does one keep the covenant? Sander's tells us "the covenant requires as the proper response of man his obedience to its commandments." All of Judaism's talk about "obedience" is thus in the context of "covenantal nomism" and not legalism. As a result, Judaism is then not concerned with "how to have a right relationship with God" but with "how to remain his covenant people...Advocates of the NPP say that it was not their works that helped them attain salvation, but it was their "nationalistic boundary markers" (i.e. circumcision, food laws, sabbath, etc.) that kept them within the people of God. Thus, the works, along with the boundary markers were used to keep themselves within the boundary of God's people. Paul was not fighting legalism, but was instead fighting the works and national pride that separated the Jews from the Gentiles."

          Even assuming for the sake of argument that the necessity of grace was upheld in Second Temple Judaism, that does not prove no system of one becoming accepted before God on the basis of faith plus meritorious works existed. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that precisely such a viewpoint was common amongst Jews in the first century.

          Evidence from the Intertestamental Period:

          "Not merely in 4 Ezra but also 2 Enoch it seems clear enough that we have what could be called a works righteousness based on law-keeping such that there is a post-mortem judgment based on the deeds done in this life—resulting in rewards and punishments. Interestingly in Jubilees while ‘getting in’ may well be on the basis of election, staying in and final salvation is said to be on the basis of obedience to the Law.[5] In 2 Baruch God bestows mercy on those who keep the Law, the ones called the righteous. In these same sources when God’s righteousness is discussed it is not a cipher for God’s covenantal faithfulness, but rather has to do with his just judging or ruling." (Ben Witherington, The "New Perspective" on Paul and the Law)

          Evidence from the Four Gospels:

          Jesus Christ repeatedly rebuked the Jews for them looking down at other people whom they perceived as being less faithful to the Law. For example, the Pharisees had inquired as to why Christ ate with people of lower stature (Matthew 9:11). He scolded them for seeking after an outward righteousness (Luke 11:38-39). Jesus even said, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees..." (Matthew 5:20). He said to the chief priests and elders, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:1). Jesus addressed a rich young man who wanted to enter heaven on the basis of his faithfulness to the Law (Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30). Consider also the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.

          Evidence from the Epistles of Paul:

          The Apostle Paul wrote extensively to combat the error of works-righteousness (Romans 9:30-10:4). He, being a former Pharisee, testified to his own efforts of obtaining righteousness through the Law (Philippians 3:4-9).

          Arguments Based on Liberal Scholarship:

          "...For instances of a similar, general use of the language of "works" in Paul's epistles, see 2 Cor. 11:5; Col. 1:21; Gal. 5:19. For instances of this usage in passages that are not universally acknowledged as authentically Pauline, see Eph. 2:9-10; 5:11; 1 Tim. 2:10; 5:10, 25; 6:18; 2 Tim. 1:9; 4:14; Titus 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:5, 8, 14. Even if we were to grant the view that these texts are not Pauline (which we do not), they minimally suggest that an author influenced by Paul took him to exclude all boasting in any works whatever in the matter of salvation (Eph. 2:9)." (By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Cornelis P. Venema, p. 53, note 50)

God Intended Sex To Be Sacred And Treated As Such

"Reducing troth to physical sex is to reduce human sexual intercourse to animal copulation. Physical intercourse is a good gift of the Lord which ought to stay in the marriage-room of the creation. If sex in principle can be had with anyone—so-called free love—without exception elements of selfishness, exploitation and insecurity enter in."

James H. Olthus, Wycliffe Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Carl F.H. Henry editor, p. 408

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Showing Mercy To Those Who Offend

“Let mercy keep company with courage. Follow my advice in this: if in battle you win a man’s surrender, then unless he has done you such grievance as amounts to heart’s sorrow, accept his oath, and let him live.”

Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Exegetical Notes On 2 Timothy

CHAPTER 1:

Verses one through three constitute a prologue in which Paul wishes divine favor to be showered on Timothy. He desires that his pupil receive grace, mercy, and peace from God. The phrase '...according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus...' may be indicative of the apostle knowing that he was soon to face martyrdom.

In verses four through seven, we read of Paul wanting to visit Timothy in order that he himself be filled with joy and to encourage his younger companion to remain strong in the face of intimidating circumstances. It is also worth noting that Timothy had a godly upbringing. He had exposure to the Old Testament Scriptures since childhood (2 Timothy 3:15).

Verse nine is theologically rich content. The Phillips New Testament in Modern English accurately captures the thrust of this passage: "Before time began he planned to give us in Christ the grace to achieve this purpose, but it is only since our saviour Jesus Christ has been revealed that the method has become apparent." God has made known to us the way to a holy life through Christ. It is by the grace of God that we are able to bring glory to His name.

In verses twelve through fourteen, the Apostle Paul says that Christ appointed him to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world. He endures suffering for the cause of Christ, yet remains bold in doing this work. Paul urges Timothy to carry on the ministry that he handed on to him, to follow his life example. He expresses full confidence in the power of Christ.

CHAPTER 2:

In verses one and two, Paul tells Timothy to pass on what he had been taught to others who were faithful so that the work of ministry could make further progress. The latter was to labor in preaching the Word of God just as the former had done. 

The apostle uses a soldier on active duty, athletic competitors, and a farmer as illustrations to make the point that our loyalty to God gets His approval. That is what truly matters. It is very much worth being persecuted in this life to be rewarded by Him in eternity. Being imprisoned as was the case with Paul cannot stop the seeds of the gospel from growing.

The New English Translation has this footnote: "sn If we are unfaithful…he cannot deny himself. This could be (1) a word of warning (The Lord will exact punishment; he cannot deny his holiness) or (2) a word of hope (Because of who he is, he remains faithful to us despite our lapses). The latter is more likely, since Paul consistently cites God’s faithfulness as a reassurance, not as a warning (cf. especially Rom 3:3; also 1 Cor 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor 1:18; 1 Thess 5:24; 2 Thess 3:3)."

Paul calls on Timothy to be a man of integrity (2 Timothy 2:15). He must be a man of virtue. He must avoid profane arguments that distract from godly living (2 Timothy 2:16). Verse 17 tells us that this corrupt form of conversation spreads "like gangrene" (New American Standard Bible and most other translations follow this rendering) or "like cancer" (New King James Version and few others take this rendering). The idea to be gathered from this is that such arguments are spiritually deadly and contaminating.

Timothy must pursue purity of heart. He must flee from fleshly lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). He must pursue '...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy..." (Philippians 4:8). Timothy had to put whatever he saw in or heard from the Apostle Paul into practice. We must be holy if we desire to be a vessel of honor for God (2 Timothy 2:21).

CHAPTER 3:

Verses one through five offer a general description of fallen humanity in terms which are self-explanatory: "...lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..." That is the spirit of the age which we ought to steer clear from.

Verse thirteen describes the judicial hardening of the heart that God pronounces on those who are impenitent. These are people who continually blaspheme God. They reject His offer of grace so they 'wax themselves worse' in each passing generation. These godless people deceive themselves and others around them. This process does not take place immediately but slowly over time. Compare with Romans 1:24-32 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

Is all Scripture a better reading of 2 Timothy 3:16 than is every Scripture? Henry Clarence Thiessen writes, "...The translation, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable," etc., is open to several criticisms: its rendering of pasa graphe and of kai, and its disposition of the verbal adjective theopneustos. Robertson says, with abstract substantives, proper names, and single objects pasa is tantamount to "all"; and "since graphe is sometimes regarded as definite pasa graphe (2 Tim. 3:16) can be "all Scripture" or "every Scripture'." Lock so translates it. Other considerations make this the preferable reading. There is no copula in the Greek text, but we have to insert one in the translation. The rendering we are criticizing treats theopneustos as an attributive and so inserts the copula after "God." This requires that the particle kai be rendered as "also," an adjunctive participle. Now "also" implies that we are adding one co-ordinate idea to another; but the words "is also profitable" are not an addition to anything that goes before, It is better, therefore, to treat theopneustos as a predicate and to insert the copula after "Scripture." The statement will then read as it is in the Authorized Version: "All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable," etc. In other words, the correct rendering of this verse makes Paul teach the full inspiration of the entire Old Testament." (Introduction to the New Testament, p. 87-88)

CHAPTER 4:

Paul begins the final chapter of his epistle by exhorting Timothy to uphold the truth of the gospel. He must have a sense of solemnity at all times. The situation is dire because there are people who want to 'have their ears tickled' and 'listen to myths' (2 Timothy 4:3-4). There were already individuals who turned away from the truth such as Hymenaeus (2 Timothy 2:17), Philetus (2 Timothy 2:18), and Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14).

The New King James Version Study Bible, edited by Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, has this footnote on 2 Timothy 4:6, "Paul is aware that the time of his death is near. A drink offering was an offering performed by pouring wine out on the ground or altar (Num. 28:11-31). Paul's life was already being poured out to Jesus Christ, the Lamb (Rev. 5:4-6). my departure is at hand: Paul was confident that no one could touch him until the Heavenly Father ushered him into his eternal home with a victory celebration."

The Apostle Paul says that he has finished his assigned duties by God and looks forward to receiving praise from Him upon leaving this world (2 Timothy 4:8). He has finished the course, awaiting to receive a crown of righteousness. Now the work of ministry has been entrusted to other people so that more souls can be saved. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

Paul requests that Timothy bring an overcoat along with the books and parchments (2 Timothy 4:13). The written material could possibly have been the Old Testament. The apostle kept his mind at work even on the verge of his physical life ending. That would be an example for us all to follow.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Emphasizing the Importance of Courage

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky."

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter 29