Monday, April 27, 2009

Clyde's View of the Gospel

OK, I know I have written about Clyde's articles for the past few weeks. Hopefully after this one I'll put down this keyboard and never read another one. This week's was just too much. Here is a man who completely misses the category errors of descriptive texts as opposed to prescriptive texts. He targets the heart of the matter...the Gospel or at least what he thinks is the Gospel. He wrote,
When the question is asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Many will answer, "You need only to believe." Many think that is what Paul said in Acts 16:31, but he went further and told them they must do more than that.
If I did not know Clyde is a member of the Church of Christ, I would swear he is a member of the church of Rome, for the rest of his arguments are exactly the same. He offers what you must do to be saved.
Salvation comes only after obedience to God's commands, to believe, (Heb. 6:11) repent, (Acts 17:30-31); confess Christ, (Rom. 10:10); and be baptized, (Acts 2:38).
In case you might be thinking that Clyde believes in Justification by Faith Alone he then cites James 2:24 and concludes, (Here is the kicker!)
When one has been justified by obeying God's commands, he has not earned his salvation, rather, he has simply fulfilled God's requirements for what God has required of us, God having already done His part in our salvation by sending His Son to die on the cross.
First, I want to admit up front, that it is true to say we must obey the Gospel. But, again, he misses the descriptive verses the prescriptive. Nobody is able to obey God commands. If we say that we are merely cooperating with God's grace, then we are right back at Rome, and we lose the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement. This causes Clyde's reference of Jesus dying on the cross to be meaningless.

Second, is this all we have to do? Is the assumption here that perhaps we could have obeyed the Old Covenant Law and been saved? Is it possible to be saved apart from Christ?

Third, this point ties in with the last one. Is Clyde saying we are saved by obeying commands? We do our part, Christ does His part, then we get saved? We get saved by obeying commands, but then we don't earn salvation by obeying the commands? Fulfilling our part is not grounds for earning our justification? Can anyone truly follow this logic?

Fourth, Clyde clearly misses the different aspects and definitions of Justification. What is his justification for appealing to James 2 when Paul deals with this particular topic in Romans 4 & 5. James is not speaking about Justification in the manner Paul is. Therefore, to never even discuss Paul's doctrine in Romans 4 & 5, is to miss the heart of the gospel. It is a proper method of interpretation of Scripture to go to the primary texts that speak to particular issues that are under discussion. Clyde simply does not do this. Instead, he runs to different verses that appear to support his position. This is caused by his Tradition.

Allow me to illustrate. In my car manual, there is a section that talks about my car tires. If I want to know how to change a flat, the manual gives enough information as to do just that. However, if I want to know much more about the subject of tires, perhaps a Chiltons manual would be a better resource.

Yes, James mentions justification. But James 2 is hardly a discourse on the subject, much less the particular aspect Paul addresses in Romans 4. The same is true for the doctrine of election. We don;t run to texts that talk about repentance and believing when there are texts that address election clearly and specifically. Yet this is the method of many today.

Fifth, unless you are truly anti-nomian (against law), if someone accuses you of preaching a Gospel that appears anti-nomian (So you just believe and now you may kill people and still be saved response), you know you are preaching the Gospel. It is odd that Clyde and many others take the position of the Apostle Paul's objector in Romans 6:1. Paul wrote a proper response.
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Rom 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Rom 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Lastly, I need to comment that no one is able to obey the Gospel. It is the preaching of the Gospel that creates faith. So when Paul speaks of our obedience to the Gospel, he is speaking descriptively. Our Evangelical faith and obedience is a result of His grace.

Faith does not save you. All of the Reformers are unanimous on this point. It is the object of our faith that saves us. It is the righteousness of Christ and His Substitutionary work in our place. The London Baptist Confession of Faith states,
Those whom God effectually calls He also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting them as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone. They are not justified because God reckons as their righteousness either their faith, their believing, or any other act of evangelical obedience. They are justified wholly and solely because God imputes to them Christ's righteousness. He imputes to them Christ's active obedience to the whole law and His passive obedience in death. They receive Christ's righteousness by faith, and rest on Him. They do not possess or produce this faith themselves, it is the gift of God. (emphasis mine)
You might be asking, "Why pick on Clyde?" When many in our Evangelical churches think inconsistently about these issues. This opportunity provides a great means of explaining the Biblical nature of Justification and the Gospel itself.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Covenant Children Today: Physical or Spiritual?

In the past I have disputed with Baptist pastors that deny Particular Redemption (Limited Atonement) for the simple reason that a consistent definition of Substitutionary Atonement demands a consistent application of Jesus' death to believers only. This logic and reasoning would also be consistently applied to believers baptism.

Over the years, I have sought to be more consistent with my own theology. As a Baptist I have grown in my understanding that Particular Baptists of the past saw the inconsistencies of their own day and sought to correct them.

With a return to a more consistent Covenant Theology among some Baptist churches, an interesting problem has occurred at one church in Oklahoma. According to Pastor Alan Conner (I don't remember where I read this) members of his church were beginning to be converted to the Reformed Paedo-Baptist (infant baptism) position. The reason is two-fold. First, many that are becoming Reformed in theirs views and going back and reading the great Reformed theologians such as John Owen and Jonathan Edwards. Since these men are paedo-baptists, then to be consistent with their views, so it would seem, many are embracing their views of baptism.

A second aspect of this so-called problem is that modern Reformed writers have written a slew of books in the last decade defending and promoting paedo-baptism. There has been very little in response by credo-Baptists. Due to Dispenationalism, most Baptists would not be able to write a consistent rebuttal or critique of the paedo-Baptist position, since they would refuse to apply the same logic and reasoning to other aspects of their own theology.

Pastor Alan Conner has stepped up to the plate with an excellent book. As a Covenantal theologian, he is able to write about the New Covenant and it application in a broad scope. Each chapter is fairly short and very readable to the average layman. The book's length is little over a hundred pages.

I recommend this book to any and all Baptist churches that are seeking to be consistent with their theology. It is also a great book for pastors that live in areas that are heavily dominated by churches that practice infant baptism. How often do we receive new converts with an infant baptist background and are forced to explain our views over and over again. This book will serve the church of Christ for years to come and equip our members to think consistently and Biblically.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Is Greedy?

Just thought this was interesting. The New York Times has reported
BIG corporations, buffeted by widespread economic pain and heightened scrutiny of lush compensation packages, appear to be paying attention to a longstanding complaint from shareholders: When it comes to executive pay, greed — even the appearance of it — is not good.
So here the Times refers to executive pay as possibly being greedy. In this NY Times post they list Executives and their performance. Yet notice one company that seems to be missing, or I missed it. Read here.

The Huffington Post has reported,
At a time when New York Times managers are forcing all employees to take a five percent pay cut, and demanding even larger sacrifices from the NYT-owned Boston Globe, top executives of the beleaguered newspaper received substantial bonus and fringe benefit payments over and above their salaries, according to a proxy statement released on March 11.
So we have the Pot is calling the Kettle black...I mean "greedy".
According to the New York Times proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, corporate president and CEO Janet L. Robinson received a total compensation package valued at $5.58 million in 2008, up well over a million from the $4.14 million she received in 2007, and the $4.4 million she received in 2006.
I wonder if the New York Times' workers will start protesting at the homes of the Execs?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mr. Perez Is a Creator-o-phobe

According to CitizenLink, "The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the legislation — H.R. 1913 — this week."
Democrats in Congress are pushing to create a new class of crimes based on the victim's "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

Under such "hate-crime" laws, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. and abroad.

We know for a fact that secret tribunals exist in Canada that specifically go after Pastors that are faithful in the preaching of both Law and Gospel. Since the Secret Tribunals of Canada are coming this way, it should not shock us that Miss California should lose simply because she said that states have the right to choose (contrary to what Perez said in his video) and that she personally believes marriage is defined as a man and a woman (Yes, she was in the lead and lost solely due to Perez's purposeful controversial question).

In this clip, you can watch the normal comment that could have come from almost any American about Gay marriage.

Yet this judge (imagine him as a judge on your secret tribunal panel?) thinks he is so intelligent while acting like the very wickedness he think this lady is. How did this guy get to be a judge? Is he not a clear picture of Romans 1?

He tells us in this video how Miss California should have answered. Yet everyone knows homosexual activists don't believe in the Constitution as the law of the land. He most likely wants the Courts to rule when states don't go towards his view. So his pomp is just that...pomp. Her answer should have been:
What does it matter to you what Vermont or any other state does? You would just take it to the Courts and make the law go your way anyway.

Here is a good commentary by Dr. White that says what we ought to be saying.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Facing the Real Problem

Some time ago I had a problem with the right rear tire on my personal pickup. I diagnosed the problem. I saw that the tire was low. The cause seemed to be that more air was needed to be in the tire. So I drove my truck to my shop and pumped the tires with more air. Sure enough, that fixed my problem.

About a week later I noticed that the tire was low again. I diagnosed the problem and once again, I found the solution was to put more air into the tire. After several months of this, I began to realize that maybe I was not fixing the real problem. I took my truck to a mechanic, and he fixed my tire by plugging a tiny hole. From then on, my tire was fine.

In this week's article by Clyde Schinnerer, we have a similar problem/solution cycle. Clyde wrote,

It is often said, "Infants must be baptized to have salvation from Adam's sin." But let's see what the Bible says about that.
In some sense Clyde comes to a solution which seems correct. He states that salvation comes to those who repent. Since babies cannot repent, they need not be baptized. This is fine and dandy. Who disagrees that babies cannot repent? However, not only does Clyde have major category errors as to why many do baptize infants (he equates baptism with salvation), but he seems to outright deny Original Sin.

Now I must be fair to the Church of Christ. I do not know if Clyde's article accurately represents their church's viewpoint. Also, I do not know that if Clyde were pressed on the doctrine of Original sin that he would necessarily deny it. Yet this weeks article is at best inconsistent with the doctrine of Original Sin. I decided once again to interact with Clyde's theological viewpoint since many Evangelicals think inconsistently as well.

Clyde states,

Furthermore, sin is not transferred from one person to another.
He then uses the typical arguments from Ezekiel 18:20

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son."
Due to length I will link to another article that deals specifically with the Ezekiel argument HERE by R.C. Sproul.

Since Clyde apparently denies that babies may inherit Adam's sin, he concludes,

Babies have no sin to be forgiven of, nor can they obey the commands given to adults, therefore they are not candidates for baptism.
So here we have a correct conclusion based on bad arguments. This in the end only leads back to Rome and needing the tire reinflated.

I have a couple of obvious questions. Does Clyde deny the imputed righteousness of Christ? If he does, then he firmly denies the entire purpose of the Reformation.

Another question is this. If Christ never came, would anyone be saved? If Christ never came, would all children still be saved (from what?)? If so, and since sin brings death, why do children die? For whose sin have the billions of children died?

This is exactly the Apostle Paul's point in Romans 5 when he wrote,

“Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin” (v. 12).
“By the one man’s offense many died” (v. 15).
“Through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation” (v. 18).
“By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (v. 19).
In conclusion, Clyde's theology has only been refilling his tires with air. He may cover his own personal guilt by doing certain sacraments such as being baptized in his church's fount. However, he seems to have never fixed the real issue. All men are born with Adam's guilt. If he has not been freed from Adam's guilt by trusting in Christ's finished work on the cross alone, and if he has never received the positive imputation of Christ's righteousness alone to his own life, then in the end, his tire will be flat. He will need more than air to fix his problem on the final day of judgment.

By Grace alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone is the Biblical teaching on salvation. No amount of washing in someone's bath tub can take away sin.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dr. Bock Nerve Pinches Ehrman

Darrell Bock's review of Bart Erhman's book, Jesus, Interrupted, is quite helpful. Here is a quote from the second paragraph.
I think what is most bothersome in this book is the way it sets up discussions, pursues a topic for several pages, often noting the point is not as devastating as the impression given (usually with a sentence that qualifies things so the author has cover) and then continues to launch in a direction that implies more than the evidence really gives, leaving a greater impression about what is said than the author claims in the qualification.
Ehrman makes a big deal of the differences of the crucifixion accounts between Mark and Luke. Was Jesus in control or utter despair? Dr. Bock quickly deals with Ehrman's arguments.
(3) The theologies are not in as great an opposition to each other as Ehrman claims. Rather what we have are emphases in which Jesus goes triumphantly in his death genuinely fully suffering as Mark shows, presenting Jesus as an example to suffer.
His third point parallels the fake conservative, Colbert. Watch the end of this video. It is hard to believe that a comedian, perhaps unwittingly, makes the same point.

Watch Video

Monday, April 13, 2009

He Is Risen Indeed!

This past Lord's Day was of course the special day we call Easter Sunday, the Day Jesus was raised from the dead. As a part of our celebration of this historical event, my family and I spent some time in the afternoon going through and contrasting the different accounts found in the four Gospels with our children. Yes, I not only teach my children about differences in the Gospels, but I also teach them (dare I say it?) textual variants within the texts themselves. We even discussed Mark's longer ending!

While studying the resurrection accounts, I was reminded of the apparent contradiction between Luke's Gospel and John's Gospel. If you are not familiar with this problem (there are others), take a careful look at Luke's account of the women going to the tomb verses John's.

In Luke, it seems that the women first arrive at the tomb and see the Angels before they tell Peter and Peter's arrival at the tomb. In John's account, it appears that the women do not initially see the angels but instead go and tell Peter that the tomb was merely empty. So now I must ask the same question I asked my kids. Do we throw out the Bible because of its apparent contradictions?

After spending some time explaining to my children what is a contradiction and why differences in the Gospel accounts is truly a great thing, I began to think about this supposed problem for the rest of the evening.

For years I have read different apologists try to come up with all kinds of explanations. Some were good and some were bad. After thinking about the texts and the style of writing, I didn't see any problem at all. If you read Luke carefully, Luke isn't giving a blow by blow account that John does. Notice Luke's words in the first eight verses. Luke uses the term "they" to refer to the women that went to the tomb. He then gives a general description or summary of the morning events by explaining that the women saw the Angels.

In verse 10 Luke then backs up and gives us some of the name of the women that went to the tomb. He then gives us another summary account of the fact that these women told the Disciples including Peter. Yet none of them believed. Then Luke recounts how Peter did check out their story by going to the tomb himself. Luke is simply stating some facts in a summary way. He never intends to give a moment by moment account. when read that way, isn't this something we might do today?

John's account is more specific in the precise order of events. John says that the women went to the tomb and found it empty. They went and told the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb and went home. Then the women went back and saw the angels.

There is simply no contradiction unless we want to force our modern thinking upon the ancient writers. Yet Luke does what many of us have done today, even with our supposed modern thinking. So be encouraged that we have varying accounts. If they all said the same thing in the same way, then DaVinci Code conspiratorial theories would have some basis for an argument. They don't!

Jesus Is Risen. He Is Risen Indeed!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Theology Matters: Born Again in the Watch Tower

Once again, our local Jehovah's Witnesses stopped by to hand me another tract. The April 1,2009 issue is about "Born Again: What Does It Mean?" What is interesting about this issue is not how much they get wrong, but that they actually see something many Evangelicals miss.

On page 6 the section is titled "Is It a Command?" This is a great question. How often have we heard the Billy Graham style of preaching in which we are basically commanded to go get "born-again"? Yet even the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society sees this error. Within this section the authors wrote,
A closer look at that phrase in its original language shows that it is not rendered in the imperative mood, or in the form of a command. Rather, the phrase is rendered in the form of a statement. In other words, when Jesus said you must be "born again," He was stating a fact, not giving a command.
Although, one hardly needs to look at the original language. Jesus is describing a truth that must take place for a man to see the Kingdom of God.

Yet even the Watch Tower denies the clear Biblical teaching about this subject. After agreeing that God must do this act, they take away with one hand what is apparently given with the other. Under the section "How Does It Take Place?: A Twofold Process", the article states,
First, a person repents of his sins, turns away from a wrong course, dedicates his life to Jehovah to worship and serve Him, and makes his dedication public by water baptism.
Now how does this differ from Billy Graham or much of the Evangelicalism that this article seems to be responding to? It doesn't. It is still in the power of man to choose to be born again by obeying within his own power.

The contradiction is glaring since the tract spends much time explaining how God must adopt you first before you may do the requirements that gets you adopted and born again. Yet here we are told what a man must do to be adopted or born again.

The rest of the articles go of into la la land. I am reminded that theology matters. Jehovah's Witnesses prey on unsuspecting members of our churches, who are not theologically trained on any level. How many are we losing to the cults and other -isms simply because we do not do what Jesus and His Apostles command. Losing Weight for Jesus simply won't prepare a man against this kind of proselytizing.

If we are not preparing our members against false religions, perhaps we are not preaching the Gospel in a fashion that brings about true conversion. Just a thought.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Does Clyde Know the Truth

Clyde Schinnerer's weekly religious column Let the Bible Speak is titled Knowing the Truth. As a member of the local Church of Christ denomination, he is one who claims to believe in Scripture Alone while remaining ignorant of his traditions. This week's article is one of which I think his human traditions are easily seen and make for a great example of how to recognize one's traditions. So I will simply interact with each paragraph in order to demonstrate my claim.

Before I do, I want to make this clear. I do not know Clyde personally. I have nothing against Clyde. If Clyde is going to take his understanding of the Bible into the public sphere and publish his errors, then he should be willing to defend his views publicly and receive public criticism.
As we continue looking at some of the statements some people make about salvation, some will say, "Only those predestined by God will be saved. We cannot do anything about it."
To be honest, I have never understood those who would object to this. Is there another group of people, who will be saved that are not of the elect? Does man have the power to change the number of the elect? Does God base His decision of election based on some great prediction of "Who will choose Him"?

This kind of statement also seems to confuse category errors such as man's responsibility. It also seems to deny the doctrine of Original Sin. The irony of his article is that while attempting to say that he believes his doctrines to be derived from the Bible, he seems totally unaware that his view of man and God's grace is exactly that of Roman Catholicism (If he only knew I said that!).

The idea that God is not merely offering salvation, but that through the preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit takes dead sinners and raises them from the dead, granting to them faith and repentance, is completely foreign to his thinking. He simply assumes philosophically that man has some kind of autonomous free-will, and then reads that belief into the verses he cites later.
Such statements come from Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 2:7; Acts 4:28; Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:5,11 where words such as ordained, predestinate, foreordained and election are used.

A casual reading would seem to give the above understanding of those Scriptures. However, a more thorough and complete study of the Scriptures with their full contexts shows that what was predetermined was God's plan for what would happen to Jesus by Herod, Pontius Pilate and the Jews, resulting in Jesus' death for which He willingly went to the cross and "became the Author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:7-9, NKJV).
1) Was God only planning Jesus' life? What does this mean? Did God not ordain Jesus' death? Did God not actually bring this about? How is it that evil men committed an act of evil, the murder of the Son of God, according to God's plan and purpose?

2) Do these texts only speak of a plan for Jesus? How did he arrive at that conclusion? Are we saying that Jesus went to the cross to purchase a plan? This thinking historically has led Arminians to deny Substitutionary Atonement. Clyde simply has never been challenged in his own erroneous theology. Apparently, Jesus didn't actually save the elect and all those in union with Him at the cross. Jesus only made men savable. He did not actually save anyone.

3) Now let us do the obvious thing. Let's actually go and read these texts and exegete them to see if they actually say what Clyde thinks they say. However, Clyde does not do that (as he has done in the past). Instead Clyde does the typical interpretive method when a verse contradicts one's theology. He runs a muck throughout the Bible looking for proof texts (as we will later see) in order to deny the clear teaching of Ephesians 1.

4) If you read the entirety of Ephesians 1, you will see that the entire text speaks to this issue. There is nothing about a plan. Instead we see an Almighty and Sovereign God who raises dead sinners to a new life. So the Calvinist is not merely using proof texts such as Ephesians 1:5, but instead reads the whole thing.

5) Clyde totally misses the doctrine of union with Christ. When Christ died, we died. When Christ was raised, we were raised. Read this portion for your self.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Does this really sound impersonal and just about a plan? These personal pronouns hardly allow that at all.
Peter tells us, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:34-35), and that God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
1) Why does Clyde get to determine the clear texts from what he considers the difficult texts. Are we really going to take texts that are not speaking about the issue of election and predestination and allow them to overthrow the texts that do?

2) Clyde again makes category errors when using texts such as 2 Peter 3:9. He seems totally unaware of the prescriptive will of God and the secret purposes of God.

Also, 2 Peter 3:9 hardly affirms his position. Please start with verse 1 and follow the pronouns. God is patient with the elect, not wanting any of them to perish. Guess what. They won't!

Now I understand that the term elect is not in the text. Are we really going to say that God is desperately wanting you to repent but fails to bring about the "manifold wisdom of God" when He fails to bring about your salvation?
It was of no "Wild goose chase" that God sent Jesus into the world, but "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church [a nebulous group?] to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:10-12).
1) Irony of ironies in the first sentence. If Jesus did not die a substitutionary death for those in union with Him, who are the elect, then Jesus may have just gone on a goose chase. Has Clyde ever really read the water tight and logically demanding conclusion of the Son of God that the elect will and must be saved from John 6:35-45? That is a text that will most certainly reveal Clyde's own traditions. Traditions that he is unaware he even possesses.

2) Again, the interpretive method is revealed. In order for Clyde to defend his beliefs, he must run off to texts that are not addressing election directly and then read into those texts the philosophical free-will of man.

Now the famous ballot proclamation:
It has been said three ballots are to be cast in the election process for the soul: God votes for heaven, Satan votes for hell, and the individual casts the deciding vote.
This is just Pelagianism. No where is God seen to be casting a vote. Jesus was sent to raise the dead and to save His people perfectly. The election of your President may be decided that way. But the election of a personal people is hardly a toss of a vote.

Instead God sent His Son to save a people that He has given to the Son. The Son comes to do the will of the Father, which is to save them perfectly. The Holy Spirit is sent to apply the work of the Son in the union of the elect. For Clyde, this mighty work of God fails because of the almighty!

In conclusion, we must all be willing to see our own traditions and to acknowledge their existence. When our interpretive method causes us to run to texts that are not addressing the issue of election, and then to force our assumptions into those texts, we should recognize that we have abandoned Scripture Alone.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Reverting Back to Rome...If They Ever Really Left

Quite some time ago, I had interacted with Crossed the Tiber's blog when he was writing against Sola Scriptura. If any of you managed to read that, you will remember that this so-called former Protestant claimed to believe Protestant doctrines but now sees their error. However, if you read his definitions of Scripture Alone, it was obvious he had no idea what that doctrine is.

After several attempts at correcting his straw-man definitions, I could see that he simply was not going to stop. Roman Catholic reverts quite often are simply being consistent with their shallow Protestant churches and their former Roman Catholic background. Here in this video we see this again with last year's revert Francis Beckwith.

Spurgeon Quote

Better, I sometimes think, to have no religion than to have a false religion. I am quite certain that the man is much more likely to be saved who knows that he is 'wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked', than the man who says, 'I am rich and increased with goods'. It is infinitely better to take the road to heaven doubting than to go in the other direction presuming.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Missing Hebrew New Testament

Last night while waiting between scenes at our local Easter pageant practice, I had an interesting conversation with a friend about the origins of the New Testament. He explained to me that he was reading a book about how the New Testament was possibly written in Hebrew. Now I must admit I have not heard the position that the entire New Testament was written in Hebrew, but I am aware of some who claim that Matthew was written in Hebrew along with the first several chapters of Acts. In light of the recent debate between James White and Bart Ehrman on the topic "Does the Bible Misquote Jesus", I gave him a couple of responses.

First, after doing a little searching, I did find a site that believes the entire NT was originally written in Hebrew. Although I am not certain they would be orthodox, an initial survey through their site did not preclude their orthodoxy. I was just not able to ascertain their full understanding of the person of Jesus as being both fully God and fully man.

I did read at one point that the website would be using the King James version of the Bible. Yet while reading their commentary of Revelation, the very first verse is cited as
A revelation of Messiah Yeshua, that God gave to him, to show to his servants what things it must soon come to pass quickly; and he did signify [it], having sent through his messenger to his servant John
Last I checked, the text does not say "Messiah Yeshua". Although this really isn't a big deal, it is the assumption that I find interesting. This page states this very clearly.
Another contributing factor to misinterpretation is that the books of the "New Testament" are "Greek documents." The fact that the "New Testament" texts we have are in Greek, makes them no more "Greek documents" than the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old Testament, which the rabbis wrote into Greek 200 years before Yeshua. The rabbis did this (as did someone at some point with the "New Testament" letters), for the benefit of the non-Jewish world so that they could also learn of the God and faith of Israel.
There you have it. We know that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew just as the Septuagint was originally written in Hebrew. How do we know this? Well if you read on at the above link, it basically argues that it just had to be because Hebrew was not a dead language and the Apostles would have not written the originals apart from a proper Hebrew understanding of the Torah.

Now again, how does this prove anything? Obviously it doesn't. But again, notice the underlying assumption. The original New Testament had to be Hebrew for right doctrine. So just as in the verse cited above (Revelation 1:1), the original text must have said Messiah Yeshua. But this is simply working backwards based upon assumptions that may be false. It is also assuming doctrines and then forcing our doctrines in an imaginary original text.

A second and related problem is the problem of inspiration and inerrancy. Let's face it. If we do not have the original Hebrew texts, and we don't, then (1) we may either make up our own original text or (2) we do not have the original inspired text preserved anywhere or (3) we may do as the King James people do and move the locus of inspiration to translators in order to have an inspired copy of a copy or an inspired translation of the original.

Of course, this again leads to theological problems. We may easily dismiss sound doctrine simply because we think original manuscripts are lost, whatever we might think they originally have been like. Remember the author wrote
Another contributing factor to misinterpretation is that the books of the "New Testament" are "Greek documents."
This thinking only leads to a text that is untrustworthy and a God who is not able to preserve His Word. And we may literally make the Bible say whatever we want.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Coal Will Kill You...After You Live Longer Than Any Previous Generation

A few months ago I was again invited to be one of many judges in our local high school forensic debate competition. The hot topic this year was on energy. What amazed me is the false presupposition that we are subtly teaching out kids. In every single debate, the assumption was that the almighty government was the solution. No one ever challenged the idea that government might actually be the problem.

Be that as it may, there was one argument used by a couple of teams I thought was simply nonsense. An EPA study on air pollution was cited against coal fired plants. This study supposedly demonstrated that fine particles were a cause for cancer and therefore the cause for higher medical bills and, of course, more deaths. This article states something similar to what I heard in the debate.
The risk is from what scientists call combustion-related fine particulate matter - soot emitted by cars and trucks, coal-fired power plants and factories.

The researchers took into account other risk factors for heart and lung disease such as cigarettes, diet, weight and occupation.

Lung cancer death rates were compared with average pollution levels, as measured in micrograms per cubic meter of air. The researchers found that the number of lung cancer deaths increased 8 percent for every increase of 10 micrograms. Other heart- and lung-related causes of death increased 6 percent for every 10-microgram increase.
The last line of this quote simply amazed me. The idea that we may be dying due to coal dust is just silly. This is a great example of how we are able to lie to ourselves simply because we hate Capitalism, freedom and liberty.

The evidence is literally all over the place that even if we grant that coal pollution is bad for us, that coal fire plants actually help in our living longer lives. Americans are living longer lives today than any generation ever! Yet we are actually presenting evidence such as coal pollution to be shortening our lives. Live Science reported in 2005,
The average life expectancy for Americans is 77.6 years, a record high according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC released the numbers Monday. Life expectancy is calculated based on mortality in 2003, the most recent year for which substantially complete data is available.

The figure is up from 77.3 in 2002 and comes in spite of a decades-long rise in obesity reported by the agency in October.

According to this article,
Cleaner air over the past two decades has added nearly five months to average life expectancy in the United States, according to a federally funded study.
Wow, five months have been added to our lives. Yet clean water and technology (technology such as burning coal!) has increased our life spans much more. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet the Political Left hates our way of life. It should be obvious that man has a great ability to lie to himself.

Why are Politically Left leaning groups self-deceived? There are all kinds of reasons why people do what they do. Overall, I think the reason is simple. It is the same reason dictators and thugs take over countries. Power.

Let's keep our freedom and liberty. I say bring on the smoke stacks baby!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

I keep forgetting to mention that my pastor preached an excellent sermon on the Sabbath (click here to listen). If you are a confessional Baptist, you may be blessed and troubled at how we have broken it. If you are a Dispensational Baptist that uses the New Hampshire Confession, then you might find this sermon a little troubling.

Definition of Sanctification by Owen

Kudos to Paul for this great definition of Sanctification cited from John Owen's work The Holy Spirit, His Gifts and Power:
“Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believer, purifying their natures from the pollution and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God and thereby enabling them, from a spiritual and habitual principle of grace, to yield obedience to God, according to the tenor of the new covenant, by virture of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Or more briefly, it is the universal renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit, into the image of God, through Jesus Christ.” P 257