Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
An Exegesis of 1 Timothy 4:10 "...who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."
09/30/2009 - Alan Kurschner
“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim 4:10).In 1 Timothy 4, Paul is exhorting Timothy that sound doctrine and persistent godliness should be the thrust of our life because of the hope of the living God — in this age and the one to come. We should be confident in our creeds and ethics because of the certainty of salvation. Paul introduces verse 10 with the inferential indicator eis touto gar (For to this end), followed by the grounding conjunction hoti (because), which highlights his main point: "we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." His main point is corroborated by his use of the perfect tense ēlpikamen (we have our hope set), which marks out this action. Interestingly, the only other instance of a perfect tense in this immediate section is found in verse 6:
“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed (parēkolouthēkas)” (1 Tim 4:5–6).
This is an uncommon term in the New Testament, only used four times (Mark 16:17; Luke 1:3; 1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim 3:10). In the context of following a belief or practice, this term means "paying special attention, follow faithfully." In other words, for Paul, following sound doctrine is not about a static affirmation of creedal statements on paper — it is an active, conscious, engaged conforming. (Paul would not have anything to do with an ambiguous Church "Statement of Faith"!)
Back to verse 10. In the next statement, and our focus of this article, what is meant by, "who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe"?
Many modern believers read this with the assumption that Christ came to earth with the intention to die for every single individual who has ever lived; hence, "who is the Savior of all people." But only those who believe will have his atonement applied to their sin; hence, "especially of those who believe." Therefore, many modern readers, particularly Arminians, believe this verse undercuts any notion of particular redemption and election, which is affirmed in Reformed theology.
However, we should probe more than a prima facie reading of this verse and ask ourselves certain questions. Is there a theological connection between "the living God" and its qualifier "who is the Savior of all people"? What does "all people" mean here for Paul? Does it mean all people without exception or distinction? And most importantly, how can God be the Savior of those who do not believe? Or is there some other element that has escaped our notice?
A universalist reading should be ruled out since that would contradict Paul's unambiguous teaching in his corpus that many will indeed perish eternally.
Next, the Arminian interpretation reads too much into the statement, "Savior of all people," with two assumptions: (1) that the term "Savior" here must mean "possible Savior" and (2) it denotes "every single person."
But if Christ died for all sins, then there is no legal basis for him to punish or condemn any sinner to perdition; thereby making the Arminian an inconsistent universalist. What basis is there to punish the same sin twice: on the cross and on the sinner. There is none.
In addition, the context here does not state what Paul means by "all people." He could refer to every single person, or he could refer to all kinds of people. Earlier in this same epistle, in the similar context of salvation and all people, Paul makes it clear that he is referring to "all sorts of people," not every single person who has ever lived on planet earth. (See my exegesis on 1 Timothy 2:4 here).
Some interpreters have suggested that God is "Savior of all people" in a physical-preserving sense — if you will, a "common grace Savior." And then he is a spiritual Savior, especially of those who believe.
This is an unlikely interpretation since there is nothing in this context where Paul defines "Savior" in these two different ways. Further, v. 8b provides a soteriological context, "the present life and also for the life to come." And in v. 10, the natural reading is that Paul uses the same meaning for "Savior" for humanity in general, and believers in particular.
The most plausible interpretation of this verse is what I call the Monotheistic-Exclusivism Interpretation. What Paul is saying is that God (and by extension Christ as Redeemer) is the only true Savior in the world, therefore humanity cannot find any other competing Savior outside of the living God. They have no other Savior to turn to.
It is not by mistake that the phrase "living God," a term that suggests monotheism, is connected with this verse. This phrase is often found in the context of polytheism (e.g. Acts 14:15; 1 Thess 1:9; Josh 3:10; 1 Sam 17:26, 36; 2 Kgs 19:4). Since there is only one God who is alive, there is only one Savior for humanity to embrace.
Also, earlier in this same epistle Paul makes a similar exclusive statement that there is one medium of salvation for humanity: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5). Here Paul connects this with the truth of "one God" with only one mediator, anticipating what he says two chapters later.
In addition, this is similar to Jesus' exclusive statement:
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
And in the same vein, Peter proclaims:
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
For all humanity, there is only one way, truth, life, Father, name, mediator, and Savior — especially of those who believe.
Finally, I want to conclude with another interpretation that is compelling. The term for "especially" is malista. George W. Knight III argues that this term here should be rendered, "that is," thereby functioning as an explanation or further clarification of the preceding statement. The translation would be as follows: "who is the Savior of all people, that is, of those who believe." So this interpretation does not view "those who believe" as a subset of "all people"; instead, "those who believe" identifies who the "all people" are. He writes:
The phrase [malista pistōn, "especially of believers"] contains the one qualification that Paul and NT always posit for receiving God's salvation, i.e., "trust" in God as the only Savior. Absolute [pistōn], as used here and elsewhere in the NT, refers to those who believe in Christ, i.e., Christian believers…[malista] has usually been rendered "especially" and regarded as in some way distinguishing that which follows it from that which goes before it. Skeat ("Especially the Parchments") argues persuasively that [malista] in some cases (2 Tim. 4:13; Tit. 1:10, 11; and here) should be understood as providing a further definition or identification of that which precedes it and thus renders it by such words as "that is." He cites several examples from papyrus letters that would seem to require this sense and that would in their particular cases rule out the otherwise legitimate alternative sense. If his proposal is correct here, which seems most likely, then the phrase [malista pistōn] should be rendered "that is, believers." This understanding is also in line with Paul's assertion that all sorts and conditions of people are in Christ (even at times using [pantes] ) and with his insistence in those contexts that all such are in Christ and have salvation by faith (cf., e.g., Gal. 3:26–28). NIGTC, The Pastoral Epistles, 203–4.
Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church AM Service, 9/27/09
09/29/2009 - James White
Brief Debate Commentary, Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel Leaders Demonstrate How NOT To Handle Scripture
09/29/2009 - James WhiteI started off today's program with a brief recap of the debate from Newberg, and Dan Barker's continued damage control campaign. Moved fairly quickly on to the comments of Chuck Smith and his co-hosts on the "Pastor's Perspective" radio program, as found here. This just under five minute clip is a study in shallow eisegesis. It is incredible that these men who are leaders of such a large movement could be so simplistic in their traditionalism. Simply shocking. Then we took calls on a wide variety of issues. Here's the program.
Rich reminded me that I cut off the clip about thirty seconds too quickly (I wanted to get to our callers), so I skipped replying to the last statement made by the Calvary Chapel speakers, that being that Calvinism is "Christianity without Jesus." Now, I realize these men have purposefully remained ignorant of the positions they lampoon and attack. There is a fear on their part regarding engaging in serious scholarly study of such issues. But that aside, it is amazing to hear someone spout off such an absurdity as if it has serious theological value. Christianity without Jesus? How about Christianity with a Jesus who can actually save? How about Christianity with a LORD not a wanna-be who tries and tries but normally fails? I would dearly love to have any one of these men on my program to walk through John 6 or John 8 or John 10 or John 17 to see whether they will allow Jesus to actually speak His truth or whether they will muzzle Him with their man-made traditions. These are the same men who misquoted Matthew 23:37 in this clip again (how many times have we heard Arminians twist that Scripture?), so they should be very careful about throwing around such accusations as they did in this clip.
Was Jesus a Myth? James White vs. Dan Barker
09/29/2009 - James White
Islam on Capitol Hill
09/28/2009 - James WhiteJust a quick note: I heard much about the Islamic rally in Washington this past weekend. Many were all up tight and worried that Bibles would be banned on Monday and women would have to wear the hijab by Wednesday. Now don't get me wrong. There is reason to resist the imposition of sharia to be sure, but let's face it: between 3,000 to 5,000 people showed up. That's not even a decent 3rd party showing. And at the most, despite what the President says, or CAIR says, there are between 1.8 and 2.5 million Muslims in the US: about the same, maybe fewer, percentage wise, than the number of Buddhists here. Europe has a real issue with Islamization (though, the phenomenon of the second and third generations adapting to the West, having far fewer children, etc., needs to be kept in mind as well), but outside of the incoherent promoters of political correctness promoting Islam as one of the "untouchable" taboo topics in public dialogue, I don't see the US establishing sharia anytime soon.
An Atheist Review of the Newberg Debate
09/28/2009 - James WhiteI was directed to this review of the debate from Saturday. I am thankful the writer identified himself as an atheist, for that, at least, explains the oddity of the review found in its praise of Godless. He writes, "I, as an Atheist, was happy to see Dan Barker defend our positions so deftly. I would invite anyone to read "Godless" or any of his works." After he abandoned the entirety of his argumentation on the very topic of the debate in Godless, and in essence admitted that his arguments on that topic were not worthy of even being presented, let alone defended, against knowledgable opposition, what would lead someone to think that the rest of his book is any more carefully or accurately researched?
Dan Barker: Yes, I've Made the Same Argument for Seventeen Years. So What?
09/28/2009 - James WhiteAs soon as I got into the office today I went over to my atheism section in my library and pulled down Dan Barker's 1992 publication, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. This book is the immediate predecessor of Godless which came out, not two years ago as Dan recalled in the debate, but in 2008. I immediately began thumbing through the book, and very quickly encountered chapter 51, beginning on page 359. Now, there may be some minor editing of this chapter as it appears in Godless (pp. 251ff), but the sub-headings are the same, as are the citations.
Consider for a moment what this means. Dan Barker has been promoting the Barbara Walker "Mithraism parallels" foolishness, in print, for seventeen years. Seventeen years! Same argument---even to having eight self-contradictory "natural explanations"---over the course of two books. And I replied to that argument. What else would you expect me to do? Dan Barker has been promoting the same material for nearly twenty years. Should I ignore the consistent argumentation, documented for nearly seventeen years, in print in books Dan Barker has been distributing through the Freedom From Religion Foundation and at all his speaking events, let alone on the very day of the debate, in the foyer of the church? If you have been presenting the same arguments for that long, and have never given the slightest indication (until your opening statement anyway!) of having changed your views, upon what possible grounds should I have concluded that I should ignore his own published arguments and respond to...something else?
Let's be honest here. If Dan Barker had a meaningful ethical foundation upon which to stand (his open, smiling, knowing violation of the rules of debate which we had discussed immediately before the debate during cross-examination gives you a good example of atheistic ethics) he would have had to act in the following fashion: first, he would have allowed me to make my opening statement without interruption. Then he would have gotten up and said, "James is right. For seventeen years I have promoted horrifically unscholarly arguments in my published books. And I am going to ask folks out in the foyer to take my books off the table and sell no more of them. I am going to take my book out of print and re-do the entire section on the historicity of Jesus." Of course, that would lead most folks to ask themselves a very logical question: "If he could promote such shallow and easily refuted material for nearly two decades, what does that say about the argumentation in the rest of his book?" Evidently, it is that very problem that kept Mr. Barker from owning up to his own failures. Instead, he tried as best he could to avoid taking responsibility for his own published arguments. He refused to repudiate Barbara Walker's material, instead saying he would have to "lower" his view of her "scholarship." What? Why not just admit her arguments are bogus? Because that would reflect on the vast majority of what Dan Barker has promoted as "serious" and meaningful scholarship all along. And that just isn't a possibility when you are Dan Barker. No, try to put it off on the Christian. Say he's trying to make this a debate about your book rather than the topic. Hope no one realizes that your book contains an entire chapter on the very topic of the debate and that you are obviously incapable of defending your published statements and arguments. At the same time, hope no one thinks enough about this to realize that you well knew White was going to torpedo your materials. You knew White would do his homework and Richard Carrier told you your published arguments are susceptible to powerful refutation. So whatever you do, don't man-up to your own works. Instead, throw up a smokescreen that surely won't save you in the eyes of Christians, who will all see that you are just ducking your scholarly responsibilities, but may keep your adoring followers happily chanting "Flying Spaghetti Monster."
Imagine for a moment that I agreed to debate one of the leading advocates of King James Onlyism. My book on that topic has been out for fourteen years now. And let's say that in my opening statement I did not use a single one of the arguments I used in my book. You might find that odd. But then, as soon as my opponent began to respond to the claims I've made on this topic for a decade and a half I interrupt and say, "Wait, this debate isn't about my book! Stick to the subject!" What would my action tell you? It would tell you that I am unwilling to stand behind my own claims, wouldn't it? Wouldn't that be an open confession that I have abandoned my original position and arguments, and therefore, repudiate them? Most assuredly. And that is exactly what Dan Barker did Saturday morning.
Let me provide a personal word here to Mr. Barker: Dan, when someone has published a book wherein he addresses in the public venue the topic of a debate, it is not only fair, proper, and simply necessary, to draw from those published sources in a scholarly, meaningful debate, it is the only way to do meaningful debate and the only way to show respect for one's opponent. It would have been disrespectful to ignore the fact that for seventeen years you had been distributing two books with the same arguments in them on the topic of this debate. It would be disrespectful to you, and even more so, disrespectful to the entire audience, to pass-by the primary source of your opponent's position, that being his own words! It seems to me, Dan, that you well knew (evidently, not by listening to serious, sober historical scholarship, but by your asking Richard Carrier) that your arguments on the topic of our debate in your published books are without merit and easily refuted. Instead of doing what you should have done, you attempted to cover over this fact. I find this behavior, coupled with your willing violation of the cross-examination rules (you recall you said you were "proud" to violate our pre-debate rules discussion, which gives us a real insight into the reality of your atheistic ethical system), truly reprehensible. Thankfully, these did not detract from the clarity of the debate and the facts presented therein, and I do hope you will promote the debate widely to your followers and supporters.
Thoughts on the Barker/White Mythology Debate
09/28/2009 - Tur8infanLast weekend, Dr. White debated Dan Barker on whether the Biblical account is derived from prior mythology (Topic, with Dan Barker Affirmative: "The Jesus Story is Cut from the Same Story as Other Ancient Mythologies"). I understand that eventually Alpha and Omega Ministries will make a DVD of the debate available. In the meantime, here's my take on the debate (having listened to it live).
1) Barker's Opening Speech
Mr. Barker gave a reasonably interesting opening speech in which he attempted to claim that much of the New Testament account was simply derived from various pagan mythologies. If one took his speech alone, it might actually sound as though he had an arguable case for his contentions.
2) Dr. White's Opening Speech
Before Dr. White could even get started, Barker committed what can be considered at best to be an enormous faux pas. He interrupted Dr. White's speech to object to Dr. White responding to Barker's own book. It was a boneheaded move, since it made Barker appear to be attempting to disrupt his opponent's speech. Furthermore, the rationale for the objection tended to undermine Barker's credibility, since normally scholars are willing to stand behind their books, especially when they are still selling that particular book.
3) The Remainder
Dr. White recovered well from the interruption and went on to demolish (quite thoroughly) the argumentation used by Barker against the New Testament. The cross-examination section was especially good, in that during Dr. White's time to ask questions he was able to demonstrate the weakness of Barker's position, while Barker had to resort to trying to argue and grand-stand during the cross-examination section.
What made things worse for Barker was the fact that such argumentation in the cross-examination is not just against the general rules of debate, but against the specific rules that Barker had agreed to just before the debate. Barker acknowledged this but then indicated that he was "proud" to violate the very rules to which he had agreed. At that point, I think that most of any remaining credibility he had was shot.
Other Views on the Debate
Barker made reference during his opening speech to the fact that there were a significant number of unbelievers present. I have looked for any atheist commentary on the debate and have found none. I have found a couple of Christian comments regarding the debate, which seem to confirm that the impression I got, of how the debate went, was accurate (first post, second post). (UPDATE: Here is one atheist view of the debate. (link))
Overall, I felt that the debate was a clear victory for Dr. White. Obviously, I am biased. Dr. White is a friend and I'm on his blogging team. I'm not sure, but I think that Barker realized that the debate was going against him. Barker is obviously a bright guy with good rhetorical skills, but his case was demonstrated to be weak. In my view, one of those weaknesses was that one of Barker's techniques seemed to be:
1) Assert that similarities between a myth and the Scripture show derivation; and
2) Assert that differences between the myth and the Scripture show "improvement" over the myth.
It should be apparent that if one uses that technique, one will be able to show derivation for any two stories that have any kind of superficial similarity.
Consider the example of the Iroquois (one of the North American aboriginal tribes) tale of the salvation of the human race. There are some similarities to the Scriptural account of the flood. Practically all the people of earth are wiped out. Their mode of salvation had to do with water, and the way in which their salvation was obtained was via divine revelation. In both cases, the hero's name begins with an "N", as an "o" in the middle of the name, and ends with an "a" sound. Notice how I've emphasized the similarities. But when you read the actual account (link for the skeptical), it's practically nothing like the history of the Great Flood. In fact, there's not even a flood in that story (instead, the calamity is a plague). The point, however, is that one can do the same kind of thing with virtually any two stories, especially those that go for any significant length.
I will not spoil the debate further by getting into the detailed arguments that were presented. After all, if you have to deal with typical atheist arguments against Christianity, this is a debate you will want to watch.
UPDATE: You can watch the first hour of the debate here:
Don't Quote Me, Bro! Video
09/27/2009 - James WhiteAs I noted in the previous article, Dan Barker's attempt to hide the horrifically bad argumentation he presented in his 2007 book Godless failed badly. I promised the video, and here it is (my system is currently cooking along at 162 degrees in the CPU importing the gigabytes of video of the entire debate). I note that it is a meaningless argument to claim that quoting Dan's book on the topic of the debate is tantamount to changing the topic of the debate to the book itself. For someone who prides himself in his "rational" thinking, the recordings of this debate will provide a large amount of evidence that Dan Barker often abandons the laws of logic in his promotion of the hatred of God.
The Most Unusual Event in All of My Debates Took Place Today
09/26/2009 - James White
I never saw this one coming. I had a feeling Dan Barker would be going a different way in his presentation than he had in his 2007 book, Godless. But when he gave a completely different presentation than he had in a book published only two years ago (with a foreword by Dawkins---a book he was selling in the foyer of the church, and which I have heard him promoting at colleges around the US this year), I knew something was up. He went first, so I had the second 20 minute opening statement. Exactly 20 seconds into that statement he interrupted me, objecting to the moderator. His objection? I was quoting from his own book! "This debate isn't about my book. Please stick to the topic!" Can you believe it? He wanted me to do my presentation without any reference to the very arguments he himself had put in print on the very same topic in a book he was selling in the foyer of the church! I couldn't believe it. In all my nearly twenty years of debate I had never encountered a more absurd situation. Someone demanding that you not hold them accountable to their own published statements on the topic of the debate! Amazing beyond words. Obviously, I refused to let him silence me, and I proceeded to document error after error in his work. But it was truly the most amazing thing I had ever seen. He later openly, and without repentance, broke the rules of cross-examination we had agreed to before the debate, and openly said that was a rule he was "proud" to break. It was an amazing display of atheistic ethics, to be sure. I know the atheists in the audience were rowdy, doing a fair amount of vocal "participation" from what those sitting next to them tell me. One yelled out at the end of my closing, "What about Islam?" As if I haven't debated that topic enough! But these were the same zealots who applauded wildly every time Barker mentioned the "Flying Spaghetti Monster." When I pointed out how irrational and absurd Dawkins and his argument actually is, they were very displeased. They just about worship Dawkins, sad to say.
I can't pull the video of Barker's objection to my quoting his own book (please note, he was not saying I was misrepresenting him, he was objecting to anyone even quoting him, even in context!) until I get home (I am at the gate at the Portland airport about to get on my return flight: I preach both services at PRBC tomorrow), but I will post that portion first so you can see for yourself. Despite that, the debate went very well, and I think will be very helpful to those dealing with this subject. Thank you for your prayers and support!
Ready to Listen to the Debate?
09/26/2009 - James WhiteI should be firing up the feed about now, so, I've timed this blog article to appear so as to provide the link you will need to listen live to the debate in Newberg, Oregon between myself and Dan Barker. Lord willing, the following link will get you connected! Click here to listen!
Who Wrote Hebrews According To An Infallible Magisterium?
09/23/2009 - James SwanRecently, I came across a web page of a convert who appears to have been smitten by the popular Roman Catholic claim to canon certainty. How does one know who wrote particular books of the Bible without infallible Tradition? The answer must be: one couldn't know without an infallible church! Well, if the Roman Catholic Church has the power to declare biblical authorship, when they have sort of said who wrote what, I wonder if anyone takes such a declaration seriously. For instance, the Council of Trent stated,
"Of the New Testament: fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews."
Notice that last book and who they say wrote it? Eric Svendsen points out:
"Until the latter half of the fourth century the Western church almost unanimously resisted ascribing Pauline authorship to Hebrews [Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and the Muratorian Fragment all insist that Paul is not the author]. However, both Jerome and Augustine appealed to the Eastern Church's view that Paul wrote the epistle, and their view was eventually adopted at the Sixth Synod of Carthage in 419 A.D., and then reaffirmed at the Council of Trent. Yet, the number of New Testament scholars that would defend Pauline authorship today is practically nil." [Eric Svendsen, Evangelical Answers: A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists (New York: Reformation Press, 1999), p.11].
I haven't found many Roman Catholics willing to defend the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong distinguishes the author of Hebrews from Peter and Paul: "The author of Hebrews, like Peter and Paul...", and "St. Paul and the author of Hebrews." Similarly, a web search over on Catholic Answers will produce a myriad of hits referring to the "author of Hebrews," not Paul. Catholic Answers via This Rock states,
"Internal examination of [Hebrews] does show that it is in many ways different from the rest of Paul's writings. For example, it is more elegant, more eloquent, it does not carry the usual greeting and introduction, and it does not quote Scripture in the way Paul does. Its doctrine is Pauline but the way it is expounded makes it difficult to attribute its direct authorship to Paul."
When I've mentioned Trent's determination of Pauline authorship in the past, it was counter argued that such a statement from Trent is only infallible in the area of faith and morals. Well, who determines which is and which is not an element of faith or morals? Some Roman Catholics use canon arguments to prove the necessity of the Roman Church for any sort of certainty, hence they use it to argue for infallibility. So, the authorship of Hebrews would indeed then be a matter of faith and morals. This Rock answers the dilemma differently: "The letter's canonicity is not in doubt; it was included in the canon by the Council of Trent (8 April 1546) among the other writings of Paul, although the Council chose not to state categorically that it was written by Paul." What? When Trent says, "Of the New Testament: fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle" according to This Rock, this doesn't categorically state Paul wrote Hebrews. Once again, we see that infallible statements are open to interpretation. So much for the clarity of the Roman magisterium.
A Twitter Convo...England 2010...Theology Matters at Biola
09/22/2009 - James WhiteHad a brief "conversation" on Twitter today. Trying to discuss topics like this with 140 character limits is often frustrating, but, sometimes, challenging in a good way. Started with the following question:
Hey Doc, listening to stuff on WLCraig. can you explain the dif between some Calvt's "best of all poss worlds" vs molinism?
I replied: Molinism: God is constrained by counter-factuals that He did not create; Bible: God creates all according to His good pleasure.
Follow up question: So can we say something like "God created the world that would bring Him the most glory"?
My reply: God created the world that displayed His glory, holiness, justice, wrath, grace, and love, in the way that pleased Him most.
Conversation concludes: Very nicely put. Thanks Doc, looking forward to the next DL. God bless.
I will have more to say about it next week, but we are on for London in the second half of February, 2010, the week before and after the weekend of the 20th and 21st. Looking at trying to arrange to be with Justin Brierley, try to arrange a visit to Revelation TV again, and at least two debates, apart from preaching and speaking at Trinity Chapel in London. But, once again, I am somewhat inviting myself, so please consider helping me make it to London.
Friday evening, October 23rd I will be making a presentation in the LA area, not far from Biola, titled "Theology Matters." In two parts I will be speaking on the biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty over against man-made philosophical substitutes, and then on how this vitally important truth impacts evangelism and apologetics. I will post details next week, Lord willing, as to location and time.
Today on The Dividing Line
09/22/2009 - James WhiteEcumenical hysteria continues today on the DL as we work through the Beckwith/George dialogue from Wheaton. I will do my best to do a live DL from Newberg, Oregon on Thursday afternoon at the regular time. Don't forget the live webcast of the debate with Dan Barker at 10am Saturday (PDT)! Here's the program.
ISI Discussion Regarding Harold Camping
09/22/2009 - Tur8infanI was recently on the "Iron Sharpens Iron" (ISI) radio program. Here's a link to the ISI page about the call (link) and here is direct link to the mp3 (link).
The following is an outline of some of the topics discussed. This is not a transcript, but more or less notes for the discussion.
I. In General - Regarding Harold Camping
a) False Teacher
He has been seen to be a false teacher at least since his date setting book "1994?" (which was demonstrated by history to be false).
Now, he teaches annihilationism and some form of Modalism.
Perhaps, worst of all, he severs himself and his followers from communion, declaring the church age to be over and discouraging his followers from gathering together.
1 Corinthians 11:25-26
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
Jesus has not come, and consequently we continue to show (symbolically) the Lord's death in the Lord's Supper, whereas Mr. Camping and his followers have excommunicated themselves.
b) Familiar with the Bible
Mr. Camping is obviously quite familiar with the text of the Bible. He's been studying it for many years. Unfortunately, his studies are misdirected in that he applies Scripture for purposes for which it was not intended.
II. Regarding Amram and Moses
During the call-in segment of Mr. Camping's debate with Dr. White, I had an opportunity to ask one question of Mr. Camping. My question was:"What was the name of Moses' father?"
Why did I ask the question?
I knew that his answer would demonstrate that he was unwilling to submit to Scripture.
What does Scripture tell us is the name of Moses father?
Scripture tells us:
Exodus 6:20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
Numbers 26:59 And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.
1 Chronicles 6:3 And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
1 Chronicles 23:13 The sons of Amram; Aaron and Moses: and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever.
Mr. Camping is fond of saying that things are doubled to emphasize their importance. This statement of paternity is not simply doubled but doubled twice - that is to say - it is quadrupled. There are four Scriptural testimonies all agreeing that Moses' father was Amram, and no Scripture suggesting any other name for Moses' father.
Why does Camping not follow this plain teaching of Scripture?
Camping needs to avoid following this plain teaching of Scripture, in order for his date-setting method to work. One of Mr. Camping's methods of calculating the end times is to place it exactly 7000 years from the date of Noah's flood. One sees this in his articles and books. For example he writes: "Because the year 2011 A.D. is exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C. when the flood began, the Bible has given us absolute proof that the year 2011 is the end of the world during the Day of Judgment, which will come on the last day of the Day of Judgment." (source)
To give you a sense of contrast, Archbishop Ussher in his "Annals of the World" gives a date for the flood of about 2350 B.C. I'm aware that there is a lot modern scholarship that suggests that disputes Ussher's date, but the point is simply to give you a sense of contrast between a more literal reading of the text and Mr. Camping's view.
How does Camping date the flood so much earlier (about 2500 years earlier)?
As you can imagine, it is not easy to fit an additional 2500 years into the text, and there is no chance that Mr. Camping is going to date the end of the world to be about 2500 years from now. To accomplish his purposes, Mr. Camping has to rely on what he calls a "clue phrase" in the text.
What is this clue phrase?
The clue phrase is "called his name." In some of the genealogical accounts there is a statement that father called the name of his son "Seth" (or whatever the child's name is). Camping asserts that when such a phrase is used, the literal son is being mentioned. Otherwise, in Camping's view, the father-son relationship should not be assumed, and consequently we should be free to view the genealogies another way, such that the "father" is simply an ancestor, and that the "son" is simply a descendant that happened to be born the year his father died.
What are the problems with this?
At first this may seem like a fairly reasonable system. After all, there sometimes some inconsistencies in the biblical genealogies (a matter we can perhaps address a little later). However, there are some real problems:
1) This idea of a "clue phrase" is wrong from a positive usage sense.
Camping writes: "A more careful examination of the Scriptures reveals why the phrase "called his name" which is the Hebrew qara, was used. In every place where this phrase is employed, there can be no doubt of the existing relationship; invariably it is indicative of parent and child." (link)
Mr. Camping's claim about this supposed clue phrase is wrong:
Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
It should be plain that Eve is not Adam's child.
1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
Plainly, an inanimate object is not a child.
Ruth 4:17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Obed was the son of Boaz and Ruth not of Naomi's female neighbors.
Exodus 2:10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
Moses was not biologically the son of Pharaoh's daughter: he held that relationship only by adoption.
2) This idea of a "clue phrase" is wrong from a negative usage sense.
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
Both Cain and Abel were the direct children of Adam and Eve without any "clue phrase" being provided. In fact, Seth is the first one where it is said that someone "called his name" Seth.
Exodus 2:2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
This is a report of Moses' conception and birth. His mother (Jochebed) is not said to have "called his name" Moses, but she was nevertheless his biological mother.
Even if the "clue phrase" is off, isn't it possible that the Hebrew genealogy works this way?
As far as I can recall, Mr. Camping is not the first to come up with this idea that Hebrew genealogies might sometimes be based on dating from the death of an ancestor to a descendant born about the same time. There are at least two serious problems applying such a principle to Amram and Moses though:
1) Aaron AND Moses
Amram is called the father both of Aaron and Moses. This might be fine if those were twins, but they were three years apart:
Exodus 7:7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.
2) And Miriam
Furthermore, they had an older sister, Miriam who (when Moses was three months old - Exodus 2:3) was resourceful enough to persuade the princess of Egypt to hire Moses' mother as a nurse for him (Exodus 2:7). Amram can't have died in three different years (one for Miriam, then again for Aaron, and finally for Moses).
What other reasons does Camping give?
There is one other main argument that Mr. Camping presents, namely that adding a speculative generation (or more than one) between Amram and Moses is necessary to make the stay in Egypt 430 years.
Camping provides the following breakdown:
Levi 77 years in Egypt
Kohath 133 years in Egypt
Amram 137 years in Egypt
Aaron 83 years in Egypt
430 years total time
This enumeration is alleged to correspond to the 430 years that Scripture says ended the day of the Exodus.
What are the problems with this analysis?
1) The 430 years should be measured from the Promise to Abraham
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Notice that Paul is explicit that the giving of the law was 430 years from the promise to Abraham. Since Abraham died before the entry into Egypt, it is impossible that there could have been 430 years in Egypt.
2) Kohath wasn't born in Egypt
Genesis 46:8-26, especially vs. 11 let us know that Kohath was one of the sons of Levi who came into Egypt with Levi and Jacob as one of the "seventy souls" mentioned in Genesis 46. It states:
Genesis 46:11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
So then how long was the stay in Egypt?
The stay in Egypt itself was 215 years. It was 215 years from the promise until the entry into Egypt, as we can determine from Genesis, and we know the total time was 430 years, so we can deduce that the time in Egypt was 215 years.
Does the 215 year view fit the genealogies?
Yes, the genealogies have Levi and Kohath coming into Egypt. Amram is the only one in the series who lives his entire life in Egypt and that was 137 years. Some of the time before his birth and after his death were also time in Egypt, of course.
Additionally, it should be noted that Jochebed is described as being the daughter of Levi.
Exodus 6:20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
Numbers 26:59 And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.
This evidence again suggests that Levi was not dead over a century before Amram was born, but rather that there was some overlap between Amram and his grandfather Levi (though both Amram and Jochebed were born in Egypt and apparently died in Egypt).
Is Mr. Camping the only one who holds to the 430 year theory?
No. In fact, we find many modern scholars who have a similar view, and even many of the modern translations translate one of the key verses in such a way as to require the 430 year theory. For example, the King James Version states:
Exodus 12:40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
Whereas the more modern English Standard Version states:
Exodus 12:40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.
Are you a King James Version Only-ist?
No. I simply think that the KJV better preserves the ambiguity of the original text here.
What is the historical view of the text?
Both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint provide an additional phrase "and in the land of Canaan" that clarify that the 430 years is not to be understood as simply the time in Egypt.
Eusebius of Caesarea, who got his information from the Jewish historian Alexander Polyhistor (who flourished in the first century before Christ) took the 215 year view. In at least one place Joseph adopted the 215 year view:
They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt. It was the eightieth year of the age of Moses, and of that of Aaron three more. They also carried out the bones of Joseph with them, as he had charged his sons to do.-Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, Chapter 15, Section 2 (I am told that in another place Josephus disagrees with his opinion stated here, although I could not locate that other place.)
The Reformed commentators whom I checked on this matter (John Calvin, Matthew Henry, John Gill, and Matthew Poole) all likewise agreed with the 215 year view as well. Even Luther appears to agree.
More recently, however, there has been some debate over the topic.
Do you have any other significant issues with Camping's Theology?
Yes, I think his view of the atonement is seriously flawed (see my post: link)
Continuation of Examination of Ecumenical Dialogue Between Frank Beckwith and Timothy George
09/17/2009 - James White
I managed to get a good bit of ground covered in the Beckwith/George dialogue today, but once again, over and over again, the centrality of the Gospel, and the shallowness of ecumenism, were illustrated. Important interaction that, sadly, isn't taking place nearly as often as it should in our truth-starved culture. Here's the program.
The Triune God of Scripture Lives: DVDs Now Available
09/17/2009 - James WhiteRich was learning a new program, so it took a while to get the original Barker debate onto DVD, but it is now available here. The mp4 of the debate is available here, and mp3 recording here. Don't forget to be praying for the next debate with Dan Barker up in Newberg, OR. I will be taking my mini computer to live webcast the debate as long as my Verizon signal is strong enough. I will also be taking up my new micro camcorder for a full recording of the debate, as well as the Flip Video unit for backup. I think that should cover it, since the church is video taping as well! No more losing recordings of debates!
Revelation About God (from Nature, Man, and God)
09/17/2009 - Jeff DownsI have to privilege of sitting under Dr. Morton Smith this semester for Prolegomena & Theology. Instead of writing one long paper for the course, students are required to turn in a 3-5 page paper every other week, reading it before the class and fielding questions. The aim of the paper is to summarize the view(s) of a theologian of your choice, on topics topics related to prolegomena & theology. For example, this week, the topic is revelation and I am up to bat. I decided to go with Cornelius Van Til. I know a little bit about Van Til, his apologetic and theological methodology, but I did not realize how hard it was going to be to summarize him on this topic. His chapter "Christian-Theistic Revelation" was more then I could handle in the time frame I had, and with the work load I have over the next two weeks. I decided to only deal with a portion of his thinking on this topic, that being revelation about God. Below, is my short paper. Perhaps if my summery does not help, it will at least wet your appetite to pick up Van Til's Introduction to Systematic Theology (2nd ed.), edited by William Edgar. ...
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Carmenn Massa and Dodging the Real Arguments
09/16/2009 - James WhiteI was directed to a blog article that took a shot at A&O based not upon what I have published in my books on Catholicism or Mormonism (the writer is a young Roman Catholic), not upon what I have written on our website, not upon what I have said in formal debates against Catholics or Mormons (more than forty such debates are widely available), not even upon what I have written in a blog article or taught in a Sunday School class or Sunday sermon. No, Mr. Massa, though he has all of that material available to him upon which to draw for foundation for criticizing me and this ministry, chose instead to go after some short e-mails written by my partner in ministry, Rich Pierce. Rich often answers the e-mails that he doesn't think need to be sent on to me (which is the vast majority of incoming mail) and yet which may require some kind of response. The topic, ironically, involved the interchange between Massa, a Roman Catholic, and a Mormon, on the use by LDS apologist Kerry Shirts of materials from Dr. Michael Heiser, one of the Academic Editors for Logos Bible Software. Over the years various folks, primarily evangelicals of one sort or the other, have called and promoted Heiser's views of the "heavenly council" as a "better" way to approach the issues surrounding the LDS use of Psalm 82. Heiser takes the view that the beings referred to in Psalm 82, while ontologically distinct from Yahweh and lesser than the one true God, are yet, in some sense, divine beings, following the common view of much of secular scholarship in asserting a kind of "divine council" in early Hebrew thought. Heiser's interpretation of Psalm 82 is quite different than my own, and evidently some folks (one fellow in particular) called, and wrote, repeatedly, asking us to have Heiser on The Dividing Line. Rich mentioned this to me, but aside from looking at his view, noting my rejection of it, I didn't give it too much more thought.
Evidently, at some point, a correspondent sent Rich's challenge to Heiser's view, which was basically, "What does Psalm 82:7 mean when it says 'You will die like men'"? to Heiser directly. Heiser responded:
I see he still hasn't read my ETS papers. Oh well. The questions are a lot easier if you don't look at all the data. Those of us who are in the orthodox camp and whose training is in semitics know things aren't this easy, and glib responses won't suffice.Rich says he forwarded these to me, but looking at the dates (May, 2006), I know this was around the time of my debate with Shabir Ally at Biola, hence, I do not even recall reading them in more than a superficial manner. I know I would have responded to a statement like that, had I been in a position to do so. Rich attempted to explain to the correspondent that he was wasting everyone's time trying to get us to have a guest on the DL that we clearly were not going to invite, but some folks just don't give up. One more round of "cc this to such and such a person" took place, and Heiser commented again:
I don't mind people disagreeing with me when they read and understand the material. I do mind being dismissed (even if I am not privy to the discussion that refers to me) since I have spent my life as a believer defending the faith. I'm not offering "theories" - I am offering exegesis that was good enough for a doctoral degree in semitics, one that was earned while retaining a belief in the orthodox faith and inerrancy. I believe you when you say your answers were serious. Please believe me when I say they are deficient, and will provide no sound defense against those who seek to use Psalm 82 and other passages against the faith. I speak here primarily of Mormons, neo-gnostics, and neo-pagans. My agenda is to oppose error and nothing more. When someone like Mr. Kennedy takes an interest in these topics, you should read the material before answering in ways that won't address the issues he has detected in my own papers and (I guess) others. We're all on the same side.Both of these comments are dated May 23rd in the e-mails I am looking at.
So though this is really not "on my plate" at the moment, being ten days out from a debate on the uniqueness of Jesus over against the multitude of secular claims about Jesus being the creation of early Christians drawing from such materials as the Osiris myth, Mythraism, etc., I am taking a few moments here to respond to Massa's citation of a particular paragraph from Heiser's "Heavenly Council" document which in essence summarizes the conflict. And may I say directly to Mr. Massa: if you want to attack A&O in the future, I would suggest you do so on the basis of published materials, not e-mails that directly and repeatedly state that the opinion being offered is NOT based upon first-hand research. It would help your credibility out a good bit. You might start with my exegesis of James 2:14ff in The God Who Justifies.
Let me first provide my comments on the citation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34 from Is the Mormon My Brother? pp. 155-158:
I Said You Are Gods
John chapter ten is one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture, for it speaks of the Lord Jesus' relationship to His people in the terms of the Shepherd and His sheep. In the midst of talking about the glorious salvation that belongs to those who know and trust Christ, Jesus asserts that He and the Father are one in their bringing about the final and full salvation of all those who are given by the Father to the Son (vv. 28-30). When the Lord says, "I and the Father are one," He offends the Jews, who realize that such a claim implies deity. No mere creature can be fully one with the Father in bringing about redemption itself! This prompts the dialogue that concerns us here:
"I and the Father are one." The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?" (John 10:30-36)
The use of this passage in LDS literature is widespread. "I said, you are gods" is used to substantiate the idea of a plurality of gods, and men becoming gods. Yet, even a brief review of the passage demonstrates that such is hardly a worthy interpretation, and some of the leading LDS apologists today avoid trying to press the passage that far, and for good reason. The unbelieving Jews seen in this passage, with murder in their hearts, are hardly good candidates for exaltation to godhood. What is more, the Lord Jesus uses the present tense when He says, "You are gods." So, obviously, He is not identifying His attackers as divine beings, worthy of worship by their eventual celestial offspring! What, then, is going on here?
When we allow the text to speak for itself, the meaning comes across clearly. As usual the context is determinative. The Jewish leaders were acting as Jesus' judges. They were accusing Him of blasphemy, of breaking God's law. Their role as judges in this instance is determinative, for the Lord is going to cite a passage about judges from the Old Testament. The Jews make it plain that they understand Jesus' words to contain an implicit claim of equality with God (v. 33). It is at this point that the Lord quotes from Psalm 82:6, which contains the important words, "I said you are gods." But when we go back to the passage from which this is taken (and surely the Jewish leaders would have known the context themselves), we find an important truth:
God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, "You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High." (Psalm 82:1-6)
Here we have the key to the passage, for this is a psalm of judgment against the rulers of Israel. God takes his stand in His own congregation, that being His own people, Israel. He judges in the midst of the "rulers." The Hebrew term here is "elohim," which could be translated "gods." The NASB however, recognizes that the context indicates who is being discussed, for the next verse reads, "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked." Who judges unjustly and shows partiality? Human judges, of course, human rulers amongst the people. Hence, the NASB rendering of "elohim" as "rulers." It is important to recognize the use of the term elohim in verse 1, for the very same term appears in verse 6, and is what lies behind Jesus' citation in John 10:34. Before moving on in the text, it should be noted that even at this point recognizing that this passage is talking about unjust human rulers removes this passage from the realm of possible passages to cite in support of a plurality of gods, and certainly, Jesus was not, by citing this passage, calling His accusers true divine beings.
When we get to verse six, we find that God has placed the judges of Israel in a position of being "gods" amongst the people. They were entrusted with the application of God's law. God calls them to vindicate the weak and fatherless and to do justice to the afflicted and destitute (v. 3). This is their task, their duty. But they are failing that duty. They are not acting as proper, godly judges. Verse six, then, begins the pronouncement of judgment. Jesus only cites the beginning of the judgment-which was enough to make His point. But since many today do not immediately know the context the way the Jews did, we need to point it out. The rest of the phrase Jesus quotes is this: "Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes." Such is hardly the terminology one would use of divine and exalted beings! And this explains the use of the present tense verb "You are gods" in John 10:34. Jesus is saying His accusers are, right then, the judges condemned in Psalm 82. And what kind of judges were they? Unrighteous judges, who were judging unjustly. Jesus was calling His accusers false judges, and they well knew it.
That this is the meaning of Jesus' use of the passage is seen by going back to John chapter ten. Jesus refers to these rulers as those "to whom the word of God came." Surely this is an apt description of the rulers who were set to judge in God's place. Once He has made His application, and identified His accusers as false judges, He then asks, "Do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God.'" Here He points to their judgment of blasphemy and contrasts their errant decision with the Father's sanctification and sending of the divine Son. The folly of their false judgment is manifest to all. This is the meaning of the passage, and pressing it to support the idea that men can, after aeons and aeons of evolution, become gods, only shows how far removed the LDS position is from biblical Christianity.
1) We should note that this passage is not teaching that the Father is the Son. The doctrine of the Trinity expressly denies the identification of the Father and the Son as one Person. The verb used in this passage is plural; hence, it can literally be translated “I and the Father, we are one.” LDS often assume that Christians are modalists, who believe the Father and the Son are one person, when this is untrue. The issue is always one Being shared by three Persons.
2)In fact, the common LDS usage of the passage is directly contradicted by a leading LDS authority, James Talmage, in his book, Jesus the Christ, 15th ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), p. 501, LDSCL. Note Talmage's words:
Divinely Appointed Judges Called "Gods." -- In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called "gods." To this scripture the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon's porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title "gods." Compare the similar appellation applied to Moses (Ex. 4:16; 7:1). Jesus Christ possessed divine authorization, not through the word of God transmitted to Him by man, but as an inherent attribute. The inconsistency of calling human judges "gods," and of ascribing blasphemy to the Christ who called Himself the Son of God, would have been apparent to the Jews but for their sin darkened minds.
In light of Dr. Heiser's claim that this viewpoint cannot give you grounds for responding to Mormons, I point the reader to the rather lengthy and in-depth discussion of just this very text with Brigham Young University professor Dr. William Hamblin from eleven years ago, found here.
With this in mind, we note Dr. Heiser's objections to this exegesis, an exegesis that he himself notes is held by "many scholars":
Many scholars understand the plural elohim of Psalm 82 and 89 as human rulers, namely the elders of Israel, no doubt due to the specter of polytheism. This position is highly problematic. If these elohim are humans, why are they sentenced to die “like humans”? A clear contrast is intended by both the grammar and structure of the Hebrew text (Prinsloo; Handy, “Sounds”). At no time in the Hebrew Bible did Israel’s elders ever have jurisdiction over all the nations. There is no scriptural basis for the idea that God presides over a council of humans that governs the nations of the earth. In fact, the situation is exactly the opposite—Israel was separated from the nations to be God’s own possession, while the other nations were abandoned by Yahweh to the rule of other elohim in the wake of the incident at Babel (Deut 4:19-20; 32:8-9 [LXX, Qumran]; cp. Dan 10:13, 20; Heiser, “Deut 32:8”). It is also difficult to see how the corrupt decisions of a group of humans would shake the foundations of the earth (Ps 82:5).("The Divine Council, 2.2")
Let us begin by laying aside non-issues. The Old Testament makes reference to angelic beings, creatures of God that are not human but are not divine either: they are creatures, created beings, dependent upon Yahweh for their existence, yet they inhabit heaven, worship God, and are used by Him to accomplish His purposes. The issue here is a simple one: does Psalm 82 give us sufficient contextual information to determine the audience addressed relating to the judgment of God? I believe it does, and that its answer to the question of who the "gods" are is different than that offered by my LDS opponents, as well as Dr. Heiser. As he well knows, scholars have divided over the issue, and I am surely not alone in my viewpoint. I do believe, however, that there is an important point to be made about lining "scholars" up on one side or the other. This text is cited in John 10:34. Only a (today) relatively small percentage of modern "scholarship" will care about how this text is used in John. That is, outside of believers, how this text was understood centuries after its original writing is irrelevant, since they believe the Bible to be merely a collection of books without any coherent, let alone consistent, message. And amongst liberal Christians who do not hold to a canonical view of inspiration and consistency, it is common to ignore the relationship of one's interpretation of one text in relationship to another (for an example of how the Psalm can be handled in such a fashion, see Marvin E. Tate's comments in the Word Biblical Commentary series, volume 20). But for the believing Christian, Jesus' use of the text must be taken into consideration, and I truly believe that the exegesis offered above fits perfectly with Jesus' own citation of the text and conclusions drawn therefrom. I do not believe Heiser's allows for Jesus' application in John 10. ...
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Crimson Catholic, Calvin, and Real Blasphemy
09/16/2009 - James WhiteTurretinFan, whose RSS feeds seem to be considerably more advanced and useful than mine, noted a comment by Jonathan Prejean ("Crimson Catholic") that contained the following statements:
In my opinion, Calvin's Institutes is the equivalent of spiritual pornography, worse than anything you hear in 99% of Beatles' songs, and most people who read it aren't doing it as an example of Middle French theological literature or as a purely historical document. There's no doubt in my mind that God hates that book in terms of its theological content, because he hates evil, and that book teaches blasphemy and all sorts of other evils.Let's compare some of this "spiritual pornography" from Crimson Catholic's viewpoint, with some of his own religion's statements. The contrast should be telling.
On the other hand, it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also, He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white. Nay, the bodily sense may furnish a still stronger illustration of the extent to which we are deluded in estimating the powers of the mind. If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity. (I:1.2).
Frighteningly terrible stuff, that. But compare:
When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.Or, how about this one?
Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man, not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest's command.
Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest is and should be another Christ. (John O'Brien, The Faith of Millions, 255-256)
“On this account it was,” says St. Bernard, “that the Eternal Father, wishing to show all the mercy possible, besides with giving us Jesus Christ, our principal advocate him, was pleased also to give us Mary, as our advocate with Jesus Christ.” “There is no doubt,” the saint adds, “that Jesus Christ is the only mediator of justice between men and God; that, by virtue of his own merits and promises, he will and can obtain us pardon and the divine favors; but because men acknowledge and fear the divine Majesty, which is in him as God, for this reason it was necessary to assign us another advocate, to whom we might have recourse with less fear and more confidence, and this advocate is Mary, than whom we cannot find one more powerful with his divine majesty, or one more merciful towards ourselves.” The saint says, “Christ is a faithful and powerful Mediator between God and men, but in him men fear the majesty of God. A mediator, then, was needed with the mediator himself; nor could a more fitting one be found than Mary.” (Liguori, The Glories of Mary, pp. 195-196)Yes, well, they only made Liguori a Doctor of the Roman Church, right? We could fill an article easily with such quotations, all highly offensive to any biblically-minded person. I think the comparison is highly educational.
Offered Often or Once?
09/16/2009 - Tur8infanWe're sometimes told that it an incorrect "either/or" mentality that causes us to reject the sacrifices of the mass on the basis that Christ was offered only once and not often. Yet Scripture itself has that mentality.
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Notice that there is a continual either/or mentality exhibited in the text. Jesus is not in a holy place that men built (sorry, my Roman Catholic friends, he is not in your golden tabernacles) but in heaven itself. It is an either/or.
Again, it is not "often" like the priests of old but "once in the end of the world." It is not both, but either/or.
He will appear a second time, coming from heaven to judge the world in righteousness on the last day. That is when he will come back to earth, not pulled down by priestly incantations however biblical the words are that they utter.
The Bible expresses it in either/or terminology. You cannot have it both ways. The Bible says Jesus offered himself once. Rome says that Jesus offers himself daily, even while elsewhere inconsistently affirming the Biblical truth.
Of course, the most excellent prayer of all is the one offered daily at the altar by Christ Jesus, the High Priest, to God the Father when the holy sacrifice of Redemption is renewed.- Pius XII, Fidei Donum, Section 52, 21 April 1957
Above all, you will be ministers of the Eucharist: you will receive this sacrament as a priceless inheritance in which the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice is renewed daily and the decisive event of his Death and Resurrection for the world’s salvation continues. You will celebrate the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine, as he himself offered it for the first time in the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion. You will thus be personally associated with the mystery of the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep.- John Paul II, Priestly Ordinations, Section 2, 3 May 1988
The third end proposed is that of expiation, propitiation and reconciliation. Certainly, no one was better fitted to make satisfaction to Almighty God for all the sins of men than was Christ. Therefore, He desired to be immolated upon the cross "as a propitiation for our sins, not for ours only but also for those of the whole world" and likewise He daily offers Himself upon our altars for our redemption, that we may be rescued from eternal damnation and admitted into the company of the elect.- Pius XII, Mediator Dei, Section 73, 20 November 1947
Alternatively, the priestly role is given to the church and specifically the priests, but still it is a daily thing:
There is one amongst all others, the loss of which is more deplorable than words can express; We allude to the most holy Sacrifice in which Jesus Christ, both Priest and Victim, daily offers Himself to His Father, through the ministry of His priests on earth. By virtue of this Sacrifice the infinite merits of Christ, gained by His Precious Blood shed once upon the Cross for the salvation of men, are applied to our souls.- Leo XIII, Caritatis Studium, Section 9, 25 July 1898
Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt. 28:19) and "Do this in remembrance of me" (Lk. 22:19; cf. 1 Cor. 11.24), i.e:, an obedience to the command to announce the Gospel and to renew daily the sacrifice of the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for the life of the world.- John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Section 1, 25 March 1992
Most abundant, assuredly, are the salutary benefits which are stored up in this most venerable mystery, regarded as a Sacrifice; a Sacrifice which the Church is accordingly wont to offer daily "for the salvation of the whole world."- Leo XIII, Mirae Caritatis, Section 17, 28 May 1902
And consequently we even see this embodied in Canon law:
they are to nourish their spiritual life from the two-fold table of sacred scripture and the Eucharist; therefore, priests are earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic sacrifice daily and deacons to participate in its offering daily;- Code of Canon Law, Book 2, Part 1, Title, 3, Chapter 3, Canon 276, Section 2, Subsection 2
Offered once or offered often? You can pick the Bible or you can pick Roman Catholic theology, but since the Bible expresses itself in a mutually exclusive way, you cannot have it both ways. It is not both once and often, but only either once or often. The Old Covenant sacrifices were often, the New Covenant sacrifice is once for all time. While Roman Catholic theology will affirm that Christ is offered once for all (in some places), in many other places (some of which are illustrated above) Rome makes the offering of Christ a daily event, not a once-for-all event. As such, Rome's theology is unbiblical and ought to be rejected and/or reformed.
Seeing Past the Fog of Ecumenism: Part I
09/15/2009 - James WhiteToday I began working through the Timothy George/Frank Beckwith dialogue that took place recently. It will take a number of programs to play the entire dialogue and interact with it, but I think it is necessary to do so. There is so much muddled thinking on this issue in our day, and ecumenical dialogues that start with an abandonment of the gospel as a definitional element of the Christian faith only add to the confusion. Here's the program.
Why You Will Want to Listen to Tuesday's Dividing Line Live
09/14/2009 - James WhiteI will be slamming more church doors in my face tomorrow on the DL as I begin working through the entirety of the Timothy George/Frank Beckwith dialogue from Wheaton. What I mean by that, of course, is that it is grossly unpopular to address, in a fair, biblical, historical fashion, the subject of Roman Catholicism, and even more so, to criticize non-Catholics who refuse to see the real issues of the gospel that are at stake when we speak of Roman Catholicism. But, it must needs be done. Someone has to speak up when men are intent upon reducing the gospel to a mere matter of opinion. So I will begin working through the dialogue--all of it--on the program tomorrow, beginning with Timothy George's opening assertion that the gospel of Rome saves---not that he said those words, but, within the first minute he referred to Beckwith as his "brother in Christ," making it very clear from the start that whatever "differences" that exist, they do not separate us from salvation. Beckwith likewise provided a number of quotes I will be adding to the chapter I had already finished (but will now expand) on whether he ever actually crossed the Tiber in the first place. The Dividing Line airs live at 11am MST.
You Just Gotta Love Liberals
09/14/2009 - James WhiteSome of you who are new to Alpha and Omega Ministries might not know that a number of years ago I had the privilege of debating Barry Lynn, ACLU attorney and head of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Lynn is an ordained minister in one of the most liberal denominations in the world. We debated whether homosexuality is compatible with biblical Christianity, and, like John Shelby Spong a few years later, Lynn showed up to such a debate without a Bible. Here is a sample of the exchange:
After the debate (which, in his closing statement, Lynn admitted he had lost), Lynn informed us that he would not allow the videos to be distributed. When we began to do so, he sent us a cease and desist letter, threatening to file suit in the 9th Circuit (where else?). With the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, we filed suit first, in Virginia, the proper location where copyright issues should be decided, and the location which also had jurisdiction over the place of the original debate (New York). The day before our attorneys were to start taking depositions, Lynn gave in. We found it ironic, of course, that someone who would speak so highly of free speech rights would attempt to use litigation to attempt to suppress the record of a public debate, but, what I learned then was this: free speech is only for those on the left, not anyone else. And we surely see that on every hand today as well.
In any case, you might find the entire debate very useful to watch. You can obtain it here.
I have found it interesting to follow Lynn's public escapades since then, and this morning a truly stellar persona, the great and incomparable Mylo Hatzenbuhler himself, pointed me to an article about Lynn. I had no idea the Obama administration had given Lynn a position, though, of course, given Lynn's radical views, that is hardly surprising. Radicalism is the new orthodoxy in Washington. But given how strongly Lynn had criticized the very office he is now a part of, listening to his tortured reasoning in defense of his hypocrisy is, well, educational:
Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was a vocal critic of Mr. Bush's faith-based office. Now, under Mr. Obama, he serves on the advisory council's task force to improve the functioning of the office. Explaining his turnaround, he said he doesn't view Mr. Obama's office as partisan -- the way Mr. Bush's was. But acknowledging that there was no substantive difference between the offices yet, Mr. Lynn said: "We have a guarded optimism that when the advisory council, Justice and the White House act and get down to the nitty gritty, they will make this a constitutionally protected program. However, we have no proof of that and no guarantee."
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #12
09/13/2009 - James SwanCatholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth.
In this installment, let's take a look at John 6 according to Catholic Answers and contrast it with St. Augustine on the same text. "Catholic Answers is one of the nation's largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization." "Augustine, the Doctor of Grace, is perhaps the greatest of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. So brilliant was his intellect that his ideas dominated Western theological and philosophical thought for a thousand years." That's quite a match up: the collective of America's great defenders of Roman Catholicism against one man living centuries ago.
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves."
I recently read an article from Catholic Answers about John 6 and the Eucharist. Of this text, they state,
"His listeners were stupefied because now they understood Jesus literally and correctly. He again repeated his words, but with even greater emphasis, and introduced the statement about drinking his blood: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him' (John 6:53?56)."
"Notice that Jesus made no attempt to soften what he said, no attempt to correct 'misunderstandings,' for there were none. Our Lord's listeners understood him perfectly well. They no longer thought he was speaking metaphorically."
"As Fr. John A. O'Brien explains, 'The phrase to eat the flesh and drink the blood, when used figuratively among the Jews, as among the Arabs of today, meant to inflict upon a person some serious injury, especially by calumny or by false accusation. To interpret the phrase figuratively then would be to make our Lord promise life everlasting to the culprit for slandering and hating him, which would reduce the whole passage to utter nonsense' (O'Brien, The Faith of Millions, 215)."
"Whatever else might be said, the early Church took John 6 literally. In fact, there is no record from the early centuries that implies Christians doubted the constant Catholic interpretation. There exists no document in which the literal interpretation is opposed and only the metaphorical accepted."
The last comment was substantiated by quotes from Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Interestingly, this quote from St. Augustine on interpreting John 6 didn't make the collective team:
If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man," says Christ, "and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us. Scripture says: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink;" and this is beyond doubt a command to do a kindness. But in what follows, "for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head," one would think a deed of malevolence was enjoined. Do not doubt, then, that the expression is figurative; and, while it is possible to interpret it in two ways, one pointing to the doing of an injury, the other to a display of superiority, let charity on the contrary call you back to benevolence, and interpret the coals of fire as the burning groans of penitence by which a man's pride is cured who bewails that he has been the enemy of one who came to his assistance in distress. In the same way, when our Lord says, "He who loveth his life shall lose it," we are not to think that He forbids the prudence with which it is a man's duty to care for his life, but that He says in a figurative sense, "Let him lose his life" that is, let him destroy and lose that perverted and unnatural use which he now makes of his life, and through which his desires are fixed on temporal things so that he gives no heed to eternal. It is written: "Give to the godly man, and help not a sinner." The latter clause of this sentence seems to forbid benevolence; for it says, "help not a sinner." Understand, therefore, that "sinner" is put figuratively for sin, so that it is his sin you are not to help. [Source]
Let's not miss the point. I'm not discussing Augustine's view of the Eucharist or whether or not he believed in some form of transubstantiation. I'm pointing out that Augustine says John 6 is not literal, and Catholic Answers says it is. They also are in error when they state "there is no record from the early centuries that implies Christians doubted the constant Catholic interpretation" of this passage. Who decides who's right, the man whose ideas dominated Western theological and philosophical thought for a thousand years or the nation's largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization.... or neither? Unless the magisterium decides, I guess it's up to the personal preferences of each individual Roman Catholic to understand John 6 as desired, the very thing they criticize non-Catholics of doing.
A Brief Introduction to the Reformation
09/13/2009 - James White
Oh That Those Who Follow Rome Would Know the Finished Work of Christ!
09/11/2009 - James WhiteI am in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Discern 09 Conference at Calvary Chapel, Santa Fe. I was surfing the channels in my hotel room as I was getting ready to hit the hay, and I ran across EWTN. They were showing the Eucharistic Congress going on in, as I gather, Washington, DC. A woman was speaking, and as I listened, she spoke of the "gift of the priesthood," and then summarized the same quotation I have used many times in speaking on Roman Catholicism's grotesque perversion of Scriptural truth. She spoke of the great dignity of the priest, for when he, the priest, speaks, God "bows in obedience" to the priest's command. Her words echoed these from John O'Brien's The Faith of Millions:
When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.Though I have quoted these words many times in my debates, always to great effect upon anyone who is biblically oriented, my Roman Catholic opponents have never repudiated the words. They have had little comment to offer, in fact, on these incredible statements. The true nature of the Roman religion is exposed by them.
Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of mannot once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priests command.
Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest is and should be another Christ.
As I was typing these words, I watched the reading of only a portion of John 6 by a priest during the opening mass. After swinging a censor about before reading the text, as normal, the message of John 6, which is so counter to Rome's gospel, was completely obscured and missed. I sit watching the pomp and pageantry, the robes and regalia, and I think of the Lord Jesus, standing in the synagogue of Capernaum, speaking the gospel of truth, and I see a huge chasm between the two. Justin Cardinal Rigali is giving a homily at the moment, where he is speaking of "the sacrifice of enduring love." How utterly sad that he, and those who follow him, does not know a finished sacrifice, a perfecting sacrifice, but only one which has to be "re-presented, perpetuated, and renewed in the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass" (quoting him directly just now). Oh, how precious become the inspired words in the face of such falsehood:
What About King Saul?
09/11/2009 - Tur8infanPreviously, I had written regarding the one true shepherd (Christ) as contrasted with the Roman bishop who seeks essentially to usurp that role (link to my post). In response, I have received some rather typical comments. Rather than beginning by characterizing the response, let me provide it to you:
In my reading of Catholic literature, I have never came across any author/theologian/bishop who has denied the fact that our Lord, Jesus Christ is the “single chief Shepard” of His Church. Yet with that said, I also do not of know any Catholic author/theologian/bishop who would deny that there is one true King of God’s Kingdom; and yet, Scripture speaks of many who were anointed as kings of God’s earthly Kingdom. If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds such a difficult concept for you?(Comment by Roman Catholic David Waltz - spelling, grammar, and any other errors are his)
Now that you've already read the comment, I'll provide my commentary on it. As I will show below, the comment contains misdirection/misinformation, scriptural confusion, ecclesiastical confusion, and confusion of reasoning. What's sad is that this response (while it comes from someone who has not, to my knowledge, promoted himself as an apologist for his church) is not far from the typical response we see on this matter, and consequently worthy of a thorough response. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Wheat and Tares
09/11/2009 - Jeff DownsA couple of weeks ago I had the special privilege of preaching at Shepherd's Fellowship of Greensboro, NC. My text was Matt. 13:24-30, the parable of the Wheat and Tares. There are two different interpretations of this parable. I am more in line with modern interpreters. If you are interested, click here to listen.
Brothers and sisters, If you are looking for a church (or know someone who is, or are passing through) in the Greensboro, NC area, I (a Presbyterian) would HIGHLY recommend Shepherd's Fellowship (a Baptist Church). They currently have two teaching elders, both very godly men: Dustin Segers and Sterling VanDerwerker. You can check out their website to learn more about the church, or go here to listen to some of the preaching. Dustin spoke at a conference I put together a few years ago on the topics: "No Good Reason to be An Atheist," and "Protecting and Contending: A Pastoral Perspective."
No DL Today: Plague Sweeps A&O Headquarters!
09/10/2009 - James White
OK, not quite the plague, but Rich has had this sinus stuff since Monday, and I got it Tuesday. I told him to stay home and rest, and I will take it easy while packing for my trip to Santa Fe. I surely pray I won't have any problems speaking this weekend at Discern 09! I'm on the "downside" of it anyway, so I don't think I'll be "spreading the joy" anyway. Lord willing, we will be back live, and healthy, for the DL on Tuesday. I know I am looking forward to reviewing the George/Beckwith dialogue on "Evangelical Catholics" at that time.
Believing About the Holy Catholic Church
09/10/2009 - Tur8infanIntroduction
A perennial issue in our discussions with Roman Catholics is the issue of whether, in addition to believing God's word in Scripture, we ought also to trust (in a similar way) in the church. While nothing in Scripture suggests that the church is another rule of faith in addition to Scripture, such that we would accord the church the same credence we give to God and his written word, we are sometimes presented with folks who want to latch onto the creeds.
The so-called Apostles' Creed (not formulated by them, as some have supposed, but taken from the Scriptures that they left behind for us) includes a phrase regarding the "Holy Catholic Church," which is often seen as problematic for those who are unfamiliar with the meaning of the creed. The usual way in which this section of the creed is recited in English-speaking churches that recite it is thus:
I believe in the Holy Ghost;Grammar of the Creed
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
The grammar of the creed makes a distinction that is not immediately apparent in English. What we "believe in" is God. He is the one in whom we trust. Thus, we "believe in" the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In contrast, we believe that there is a holy catholic church (not the Roman Catholic church, but the universal body of Christ: all those who believe on the name of the Lord), that the saints (by which mean again those who believe) ought to commune together until the Lord's return, that sins are forgiven by God on the merits of Christ, that the body will be resurrected and re-united to the soul, and that heaven will be eternal. Thus, we are not saying that we trust in the church despite the ambiguity of the English wording (as well as the ambiguity of the wording of the Constantinoplean Creed).
Perhaps it would be helpful to have more than the word of a pseudonymous blogger on this grammatical point. In Creeds of Christendom, historian Philip Schaff explains it this way:
Then, changing the language (credo in for credo with the simple accusative), the Creed professes to believe 'the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.'- Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Volume 1, Chapter 2, Section 7
Paschasius' or Faustus' Testimony
The significance of this distinction was not lost on the ancients. Indeed, when we draw this distinction (which today we refer to as Sola Scriptura) we are in agreement with those ancient Christians whose writings have survived (even one from the Rome of that day, which had not descended to the depths of Rome today):
Paschasius, Deacon of Rome (flourished about A.D. 491 - 512) wrote:
Therefore thou sayest, ‘I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,’ because, in supplying the little syllable in, dost thou attempt to produce great darkness? We believe the Catholic Church as the mother of regeneration; we do not believe in the Church as in the Author of salvation. For when the universal Church confesses this of the Holy Ghost, can she also believe in herself? ... He who believes in the Church believes in man. For man is not of the Church, but the Church began to be from man. Desist therefore from this blasphemous persuasion, to think that thou oughtest to believe in any human creature: since thou must not in anywise believe in an angel or archangel ... We believe the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, everlasting life ... The unskillfulness of some have drawn, and taken the preposition ‘in’ from the sentence going next before, and put it to that which follows, imprudently adding thereto more than needed.- Paschasius, Deacon of Rome, Two Books on the Holy Spirit, Book 1, Chapter 1 (This work is sometimes alternatively ascribed to Faustus of Riez who flourished from about A.D. 433 - 485)
We see the same thing from Rufinus, about a century earlier, who made roughly the same point.
Tyrannius Rufinus (lived about A.D. 344 - 410) explains with reference to the Apostles' creed:
“The Holy Church; The Forgiveness of Sin, the Resurrection of This Flesh.” It is not said, “In the holy Church,” nor “In the forgiveness of sins,” nor “In the resurrection of the flesh.” For if the preposition “in” had been added, it would have had the same force as in the preceding articles. But now in those clauses in which the faith concerning the Godhead is declared, we say “In God the Father,” and “In Jesus Christ His Son,” and “In the Holy Ghost,” but in the rest, where we speak not of the Godhead but of creatures and mysteries, the preposition “in ” is not added. We do not say “We believe in the holy Church,” but “We believe the holy Church,” not as God, but as the Church gathered together to God: and we believe that there is “forgiveness of sins;” we do not say “We believe in the forgiveness of sins;” and we believe that there will be a “Resurrection of the flesh;” we do not say “We believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” By this monosyllabic preposition, therefore, the Creator is distinguished from the creatures, and things divine are separated from things human.- Rufinus of Aquileia, A Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, Section 36
(for a larger context, see here)
While we would certainly have some disagreements with the much later writings of Thomas Aquinas, we find some similar sentiments in his discussion:
Objection 5. Further, Augustine (Tract. xxix in Joan.) expounding the passage, "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1) says: "We believe Peter or Paul, but we speak only of believing 'in' God." Since then the Catholic Church is merely a created being, it seems unfitting to say: "In the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 2b, Question 1, Article 9
Reply to Objection 5. If we say: "'In' the holy Catholic Church," this must be taken as verified in so far as our faith is directed to the Holy Ghost, Who sanctifies the Church; so that the sense is: "I believe in the Holy Ghost sanctifying the Church." But it is better and more in keeping with the common use, to omit the 'in,' and say simply, "the holy Catholic Church," as Pope Leo [Rufinus, Comm. in Sym. Apost.] observes.
Notice how Aquinas agrees with the substance of the objection while seeking to find an acceptable sense for the words.
The idea of arguing that one should be "believe in" the church from the creed is an anachronistic misuse of the creed. It is as anachronistic as supposing that the term "Holy Catholic Church" was supposed to refer to the Roman Catholic church. Both the grammar of the creed (as noted by Schaff) as well as early Christian authors and even the most notable medieval scholastic.
With Alexander of Alexandria (died about A.D. 326), we affirm that we believe in the existence of only one body of Christ, relying on the authority of Scripture:
“And in addition to this pious belief respecting the Father and the Son, we confess as the Sacred Scriptures teach us, one Holy Ghost, who moved the saints of the Old Testament, and the divine teachers of that which is called the New. We believe in one only Catholic Church, the apostolical, which cannot be destroyed even though all the world were to take counsel to fight against it, and which gains the victory over all the impious attacks of the heterodox; for we are emboldened by the words of its Master, ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world [John xvi. 33].’ After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God (ἐκ τῆς Θεοτόκου Μαρίας); in the fulness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead. He rose from the dead, was taken into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.- The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret, Chapter III, The Epistle of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria to Alexander, Bishop of Constantinople.
How can we know whether a church is part of the Church? If it is apostolical. How can we tell if something is apostolical? Look at the books left behind by the apostles. Human successors can pervert the path of those who went before them, but the unchanging Word of God found in Scripture is the alone reliable measure of apostolicity and catholicity (in the true sense of the term).
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
09/09/2009 - James WhiteA two-part program, basically. In the first half I discussed the debate between TurretinFan and William Albrecht on the topic of the propriety of the use of the phrase "Mother of God" with reference to Mary, and in the second half I took a call that took up the whole half hour on the subject of Mormonism and the Book of Abraham. Here's the program.
Mark Shea: Always On Top of Those Pesky Facts!
09/08/2009 - James WhiteWhen you think about it, if you can write a three-volume set about a theology based upon thin air in Scripture, you can't be too concerned about little things like facts, truth, reality, etc. And surely, Mark Shea doesn't sweat the "little stuff" along those lines! No indeed. He noticed the Newser mistake where someone threw my picture up instead of Anderson's (mistake corrected a few hours later) and just had to write about it. Can't pass up a shot at Baptists now, can you? But, in the process, he demonstrated that once again, facts are not his strength:
Poor James WhiteIt only takes a moment to search on "Anderson" on my blog: and the first appearance of any discussion of the fellow is September 1, 2009. Sure I knew about him before. His "sermon" about standing while...relieving yourself is an Internet sensation, to be sure. But Shea seems to think he drives me "crazy," when nothing could be farther from the truth. I've been dealing with KJV Only folks for so long the last thing they do is drive me "crazy." So my first reference to him was actually when I addressed his "I Hate Barack O'Bama" sermon on 9/1; I posted the "Burning NIVs" video shortly thereafter. And that is it. So what is Shea talking about when he says I "periodically issue a bulletin refuting whatever nutty thing Anderson has said lately"? I haven't a clue, do you? But as I said, no chance to take a shot at the Baptists can be passed over---though, it would be nice if Shea had read my own comments on the description offered by his fellow Roman Catholics who originally pointed out the error. That would have been nice.
From our "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Dept." we find James White being muddled up with Lunatic Pastor Steven Anderson by some newsite that specializes more in panic about Theocracy than in accuracy. Anderson garnered some attention over the past few weeks when he graduated from obsessing over urination to praying for Obama's death. He's been a focus of White's wrath for some time because of his other obsession: the King James Version, God's only Truly True Bible. Oh, and he's also a Baptist from a not quite perfectly perfect Baptist sect (meaning "not White's perfectly perfect sect".) White (whose infallibility is multi-faceted) has for years defended the One True Faith not only from Romanists, but from JWs, Mormons, Muslims, and sundry obscure religious movements such as the "KJV-only" crowd. Anderson drives him crazy so he periodically issue a bulletin refuting whatever nutty thing Anderson has said lately.
However, in the world of high-paced Secular Theocrat Panic, if you've seen one Fundy Baptist, you've seen 'em all. So Newser just went out and grabbed the first photo they could find from a Google of "Steven Andersen Baptist" and slapped it up there without bothering to find out if the photo was actually of Anderson or of somebody opposed to Anderson. Voila! White has finally achieved what he always hungered for: fame and recognition! It's like a Greek comedy.
Nothing New Under the Sun: Servetus the Yawner
09/07/2009 - James WhiteI received a copy of The Restitution of Jesus Christ by "Servetus the Evangelical" recently. Not too unexpectedly, it is a spiral bound book, like almost every other "I've gone apostate and now I deny the Trinity and I'm going to explain why now in this awesome book with insights no one has ever produced but me" type book I've seen over the years (beginning with Nelson Herle's tome back in the late 1970s). The claims for his book from his website are interesting:
The book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ, is my magnum opus. Over twenty-five years in the making, it is a sophisticated theological tome of about 600 pages. In it, I seek to restore the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Solely on the basis of the Bible, this book challenges the traditional church dogma that Jesus is God; yet it affirms all other major church teachings about Jesus, including his virgin birth, miracles, sinless life, atoning death for others, resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, exaltation there, and future return to earth to establish his glorious, worldwide kingdom of peace.Ah, the old "sophisticated theological tome" claim! That's great. I've looked through enough of it to know that is it, in fact, a rehash of all the Arian arguments of the past century. I simply did not see anything new: the same old reliance upon sub-biblical scholarship, naturalistic scholarship, etc., that has been around for a very long time. Maybe the answer as to why this allegedly former Trinitarian evangelical professor or author of some sort has abandoned his self-professed faith can be found in this paragraph:
This author of The Restitution of Jesus Christ has been an Evangelical Christian involved in public ministry almost all of his adult life. As a former Trinitarian, I believed that Jesus was God because, like most Christians, that is what I was taught. Years later, I undertook a very deep study of this subject and changed my belief about it. I have largely kept this study and theological change a secret all of these years mostly to avoid persecution and disfellowshipping by my Christian brethren. I plan to reveal my identity on September 29, 2011, which will be the 500th anniversary of the birth of Michael Servetus.First, I believe in the Trinity because the Bible teaches 1) absolute monotheism, 2) the existence of three divine Persons, and 3) the equality of those divine Persons. The fact that he had a said faith, a "I was taught this, so I believed it" faith, says volumes. Further, I have to admit I find the "I've kept this secret to avoid persecution by all those mean (and benighted) Christians" claim nauseatingly self-serving. If, as others have speculated, S-the-E is, in fact, teaching somewhere, and his academic contract expires at that time, or if there is some other such self-serving reason for his continued anonymity, such claims become self-refuting and hypocritical. Are we to assume that his "Christian brethren" will become tolerant of Arianism on September 29, 2011? That there will be no "persecution" then? Hardly.
In any case, apostasy is big business today (ask Bart Ehrman), so I'm sure he'll get his 15 minutes of fame on "Fresh Air" on PBS, get his book contracts and some speaking gigs. But dragging old, lame, uninspiring, liberal Christologies back out of the dustbin of history isn't going to accomplish much more than cause those interested to re-examine their foundations once again, as happens in every generation. That's not to say there is no need to respond, again, to the compilation of often-refuted, sub-biblical attacks upon the deity of Christ: but for those who know this area, S-the-E has only shown himself a competent compiler of previous heresies, nothing more.
Primer On Roman Catholic Epistemology
09/05/2009 - James SwanYears ago I sat through a number of philosophy courses debating how or if one could know ultimate reality. How do I know what color the desk really is? How do I know I even exist? At the time, I recall thinking, who sits around wondering about how they know something? These "how do you know" issues, while fun in college, will never be something I'll face in daily conversation. At the time, I did not engage Roman Catholic apologists. Now, years later, a large chunk of my time is spent in philosophic chess with Roman Catholics over how do you know?
Roman Catholics think their epistemological problems have somehow vanished by their choice to believe the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants approach the certainty claims of Roman Catholics a bit differently than a skeptical gadfly in a philosophy class arguing over the basis for reality. We ask similar questions, but with the purpose of showing that allegiance to a secondary infallible authority or an infallible interpreter gives no such thing as the absolute certainty Roman Catholics claim to have. Rather, their claims to certainty when scrutinized reveal blatant double standards.
As a refresher course for those of you engaging in the same mental chess games with Roman Catholics, Eric Svendsen's, Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Claims to Authority [New York: Calvary Press, 2002] asks helpful questions that you should commit to memory:
1. When the Roman Catholic apologist asks, "How do you know your private interpretation of the Bible is correct over against the private interpretation of every other denomination?," we should respond by asking a question of our own: "How do you know that your private interpretation of Roman documents is correct over against the private interpretation of other Roman Catholics?"
2. When the Roman Catholic apologist asks, "how can you be certain that you are in the truth since all you have to go on is your own fallible private judgment that your church is right?", we should counter with a similar question: "How can you be certain that you are in the truth since all you have to go on is your own fallible private judgment that Rome is right?"
3. When the Roman Catholic apologist asks, "How do you know you've picked the right denomination?," we should respond by asking, "How do you know you've picked the right infallible interpreter?"
4. When the Roman Catholic apologist insists that the principle of Sola Scriptura has resulted in 25,000 denominations, we should in turn insist that the principle of Scripture plus an infallible interpreter has resulted in an even greater number of religious cults.
Source: Eric Svendsen, Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Claims to Authority [New York: Calvary Press, 2002] 65-66.
A mantra-like point made by Roman Catholic apologists is that Protestants rely on their own fallible private judgment when reading the Bible or studying Church history. A Protestant therefore can have no actual certainty, because they have no infallible interpreter making doctrine and history explicitly clear. A Protestant is forced to pick and choose which interpretation of Scripture and history seems best to them. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this put forth, I could pay my mortgage every month with the money collected.
Of this line of reasoning, Dr. Svendsen points out:
"[T]his implies that if one decides on Rome as that choice, he must do so without engaging in the very private judgment that the Roman Catholic apologist has told us is illegitimate. That means, for instance, that the Roman Catholic cannot appeal to his interpretation of Matthew 16, which he thinks identifies Peter as the first pope; nor to any other biblical passage for that matter, since appealing to any passage of Scripture would necessarily force the Roman Catholic to engage in private interpretation. Nor can he look down the annals of Church history to find evidence that the churches granted primacy to the Roman bishop, for those writings too are subject to interpretation, and most church historians disagree with Rome's understanding of them. Hence, he would again be forced to engage in private judgment." [Upon This Slippery Rock, 33].
To put it bluntly, those that have chosen to become Roman Catholics have to use their own private judgment to do so. One who converts to Rome had to engage in private judgment when making a decision to become Roman Catholic. Those touting Catholic certainty over against Protestant uncertainty are putting forth a double standard. They are claiming that their position is certain, while anything else is uncertain. But their own decision to become Catholic comes from their own private judgment. Svendsen notes of the convert to Rome:
"The fact is, he had to engage in the very same principle of private judgment that we all must use to decide among the various options; namely, a thinking, objective reasoning process, apart from reliance upon the system to which he would eventually subscribe. But it is that very same principle of private judgment that leads him to Rome and others of us away from Rome. Certainly Rome condemns the decision we reached, but she cannot condemn the principle we used to that decision, since it is the very same principle that all Roman Catholics must use to decide that Rome is the 'true' church. The Roman Catholic cannot introduce a double standard at this point and still be consistent." [Upon This Slippery Rock, 34].
But the final blow to the Roman argument comes with the fact that the entire basis it rests on is self-refuting. Svendsen notes: "The body of literature we are told plainly identifies the 'infallible interpreter' for us (namely, Scripture and church history) is the very body of literature that we are later told we cannot understand without an 'infallible interpreter'" [Upon This Slippery Rock, 36]. When asked how the Roman Catholic Church can establish her authority, the Catholic apologist answers that it is proved by the testimony of the Scriptures. Hence, they use a circular argument: they prove the authority of the Scriptures by the Church, and the authority of the Church by the Scriptures.
Protecting the Flock: A Pastoral Perspective, Pt. 1
09/04/2009 - Jeff DownsHave you ever thought about writing a book? Have you ever read a book, and thought to yourself, “this is the book I wanted to write”? Well, I am almost certain many readers of this blog have had that experience. Perhaps at that point, your dream was dashed to pieces. I trust that is not the case, and even if it was, you got over it quickly. On the other hand, as you began reading the book (that you wanted to write), there was a sense of joy, and even perhaps, a bit of relief.
You will not have sleepless nights. You will go through the trouble figuring out what to say, where to say it, how to say it. You will not be rejected by this or that publisher, only to find out that you need to go through Xulon. You will not have to deal with those nasty book reviewers on Amazon, and you will not have to deal with Issue, Etc., Christ the Center, Knowing the Truth, etc., etc. breathing down your neck for an interview (just joking).
Take a deep breath, and rejoice! ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
An Apologetics Reader
09/04/2009 - Jeff DownsI have been waiting for this volume for sometime, and it is now available. Bill Edgar and Scott Oliphint (both professor at WTS) have put together "an unprecedented anthology of apologetics texts with selections from the first century AD through the Middle Ages. Includes introductory material, timelines, maps, footnotes, and discussion questions."
"This first of two proposed volumes features primary source documents from the time of the early church (100-400) and the Middle Ages (400-1500). Featured apologists include Aristides, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas."
The titled of this new volume is Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader (Crossway, 2009).
You can take a look at the TOC and sample pages here.
Great Stuff on Justin Brierley's "Unbelievable" Program from the UK
09/04/2009 - James WhiteJustin Brierley is hosting a two-part conversation featuring Richard Bauckham on the topic of his views of the eyewitnesses and Jesus' ministry on his "Unbelievable" radio program this week and next. I listened to the first part while riding yesterday, and found it fascinating (though at one point I was a bit distracted by riding through a long stretch of swarms of white flies in the darkness before sunrise---I can't wait till those little creatures are no longer a regular part of my morning diet!). It is a two-parter, so the second section should air this weekend. At the end of the program Justin read e-mails, and played comments on both of my own recent appearances on "Unbelievable," both with the Fosters to discuss Calvinism/Arminianism and then eternal punishment. I found the commentary fascinating, to be sure. You can listen to the current program with Richard Bauckham, as well as the two programs I did last month, here. Let Justin know you are listening, as that is always an encouragement. If I get a chance to get to London in February, I hope to join Justin in studio again.
Hello, I Am A Fringe Baptist Minister, and the New American Taliban
09/04/2009 - James WhiteI got a couple of notifications of the Newser mistake yesterday morning wherein my picture was put in the place of that of Steven Anderson, resulting in the graphic to the right. I know, I know, all us Baptists look alike to the press, right?
I really appreciated the fact that the first person to inform me of this, a Roman Catholic, Brian Saint-Paul, described me as follows in his blog article:
Anyone even lightly familiar with the world of Catholic and Protestant apologetics knows of Dr. James White, founder of Alpha & Omega Ministries. The popular Reformed apologist has a small library to his name, and has taken part in public debates with Catholics, atheists, Muslims, KJV-Only Fundamentalists, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. When he's not writing or speaking, he teaches seminary, serves as an elder at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, and enjoys marathon bike rides through the Arizona heat.Now that's what I call refreshing! Someone who rises above the "anti-Catholic" rhetoric. Almost enough to make you consider post-millenialism! Almost.
And now, according to media Website Newser, Dr. White can add another item to his lengthy resume: He's the face of the "New American Taliban."
Ratzinger on Purgatory, Then Calls on Acts 13:46-48, Islam, and God's Sovereign Decree
09/03/2009 - James WhiteHere's the program.
Burning NIVs: King James Onlyism and the Faithful Word Baptist Church
09/03/2009 - James White
An Excellent Example of Why We Need to Think Clearly and Consistently About the Bible
09/02/2009 - James WhiteI received the following e-mail a few days ago through our contact link on the aomin.org website:
I just want you to know straight forward this is not an attack, but,
a legitimate concern.
I've been doing a lot of research about the occult recently and I must say that the newer versions give lots of breathing room for the Isaiah 14:12 debate. Here's a link to a pro HP Blavatsky page. As you're probably well aware, HP Blavatsky is one of the HUGE names of the occult. Please read the text on the upper right of this page.
Notice how she connects Jesus with Lucifer as being the same person. Remember that Satan said in his heart that he will ascended into heaven. Why is it that 99% of the versions drop Lucifer, son of the morning and replace it with "morning star" like the NIV or the "bright morning star" in the CEV or "daystar" in the Amplified Bible,
which is one of Jesus' titles in 2 Peter 1:19, and in Rev 22:16.
I'm sure you know how much the occult is impacting our culture these days and people in Wicca and other witch cults, and occult organizations like Freemasonry read the Bible. Being a person from a High School with several practicing witches in it, I can honestly tell you that one of these neo pagans scoffingly, said directly to me that the bible was translated from pagan sources. I quickly answered them and said, "Maybe if you read the NIV". This guy was usually argumentative, but, he had nothing to say back. Don't you see this as being a huge problem with our younger Christian people? How will they defend themselves?
You won't be able to make such an occult connection in the KJV. Again I'm not attacking you or anyone that reads the modern bible versions. BTW, I watched some of your videos with your friend LaneCH and enjoyed them.
This is one of the best examples I've seen of someone thinking with their heart, not with their head. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand someone's desire to defend the truth, but you do not translate the Bible based upon your fear that someone might misinterpret it or misuse it. The most perfectly accurate translation will still be abused and twisted by false teachers. God has not seen fit to wipe false teachers from the face of the earth, so as long as the church exists we will have to teach with clarity and refute those who contradict.
Now, here are my comments on the disputed text from The King James Only Controversy, 2nd ed., pp. 180-182:
Jerome and Lucifer
How deeply we are influenced by our traditions can be seen in Isaiah 14:12:
KJV NASB NIV How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
The term "Lucifer," which came into the biblical tradition through the translation of Jerome's Vulgate, has become so entrenched (even though it does not come from the original authors of Scripture) that if one dares to translate the Hebrew by another term, such as "star of the morning" or "morning star" (both of which are perfectly acceptable translations of the Hebrew word), one will be accused of removing Lucifer from the Bible! Such a change surely preaches well, and this example is often used as the capper to prove the true intention of the devilish modern versions.
Yet, a person who stops for a moment of calm reflection might ask, "Why should I believe Jerome was inspired to insert this term at this point? Do I have a good reason for believing this?" Given that Jerome's translation is certainly not inerrant itself, one would do well to take a second look and discover that the very translations being accused of hiding Lucifer's name refer to Satan, the accuser, the old serpent,the devil, each and every time the terms appear in Scripture. Again, the inconsistency of the argument is striking.
But, someone is sure to retort, isn't Jesus the morning star at Revelation 22:16? Yes, He certainly is. So doesn't translating Isaiah 14:12 with morning star identify Jesus with Lucifer? Aren't the modern translations trying to connect Jesus with the devil? Only if one does not read things in context very well. The person under discussion in Isaiah 14 is obviously not the Lord Jesus Christ, and how anyone could possibly confuse the person who is obviously under the wrath of God in that passage (note verse 15) with the Lord Jesus is hard to imagine. Further, aren't the terms being used in Isaiah 14 sarcastic in nature? Didn't this person claim lofty titles that were proven to be misapplied? Doesn't the Scripture speak of his pomp (v. 11) and his inward boasting (v. 13)? Should we not recognize that the terms that are applied to him in verse 12 are meant to be taunts rather than actual descriptions of his person? And doesn't this differ dramatically from the personal description that Jesus applies to himselfin Revelation 22? All of these considerations make it obvious that there is no logical reason to take offense at the proper translation of Isaiah 14:12 in the NIV or NASB.
So the issue is this: do you accurately translate the Hebrew term הֵילֵ֣ל or, out of fear of someone misusing the text by ignoring sound principles of interpretation and exegesis, insert another term to "help out"? I think the answer is clear, plain, and obvious.
Today on The Dividing Line: Steven Anderson Gets Famous, Some Calls, and More William Lane Craig
09/01/2009 - James WhiteAs the video I posted earlier documents, I took the first quarter of the program to discuss Steven Anderson of "I Hate Barak O'Bama" fame, then took some calls and played more of William Lane Craig's defense of Arminianism. Here's the program.
Steven Anderson: King James Onlyism Makes People...Odd
09/01/2009 - James White
Tuesday Morning Miscellaneous
09/01/2009 - James WhiteCarla has put together a new graphic that I think a number of folks are going to like, and given how many people mention the Dividing Line when I travel, this might be one you want to get in sticker form so you can advertise around town, on your notebook at school, whatever. Carla tells me Katy came up with the idea, and I would never hear the end of it if I didn't mention that.
I have been coming across important resources in my research for the debate on the uniqueness of Jesus against Dan Barker in just a few weeks. Some have come from unexpected places, to be sure. There are only two more left on the Ministry Resource List that are in the "high" or "highest" priority category. Please pray that this debate will have long lasting value in vindicating the claims of Christ. I know that I am praying that we will be able to add this debate immediately to the jump drive tracts that yes, believe it or not, we hope to roll out in October.
The Shepherd Knows His Sheep: John 10:19-30
09/01/2009 - James White