Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Can't Even Start to Cover the Range of Topics in Today's Jumbo DL
11/29/2012 - James WhiteBut I can tell you the last 45 minutes was dedicated to finishing off Paul Williams' opening statement (finally). The 45 minutes before that allowed me to empty out my "DL Materials" bookmark folder---all sorts of incredible stuff about how quickly Western culture is embracing rebellion and depravity. A study in Christian worldview application and defense, to be sure. Here's the program.
Yesterday on the Dividing Line
11/28/2012 - James WhiteI did not intend to spend pretty much the entire hour finishing up our response to Jason Stellman, but I did. TurretinFan did not join me, as I really did not think it would take as long as it did. But, we provided nearly four hours worth of response---a response Jason Stellman says he is not even going to listen to. He recently commented: "I actually haven’t listened to James’s podcast, so I don’t know what he says about me there. My guess it would be hard to listen to it without getting upset or frustrated, so I have just decided to ignore it." There you go---he wouldn't engage in a defense of Roman claims, but, then claims no one offered compelling arguments, and then when you provide refutation---well, he can't be bothered. Not the first time I've encountered this kind of attitude---joining "infallible" groups has that effect on folks. As much as I'd like to see Jason rescued from Romanism, whether he ever listens doesn't matter. Others need to know what the issues are and how Rome's answers are empty. Of course, if he goes "on the circuit" and especially if he decides to start debating---well, then he needs to be taking the time to listen to what is being said in response to his claims. In any case, I did start off the program with a few minutes on Paul Williams and his recent debate with Chris Green, as well. Here's the program.
Is MuslimByChoice Actually Trying to Make the Muslims Look Bad?
11/27/2012 - James WhiteYou decide!
But, even while I was uploading this, MuslimByChoice uploaded another video along the very same lines, but this time posting even MORE of my comments, making a strong, strong contrast between Adnan Rashid's very surface level commentary and the full discussion I provide. You tell me...doesn't this advance the theory that MuslimByChoice is trying to make the Muslim position look bad? Check it out for yourself:
Keep it up, MuslimByChoice! You are getting the truth out to Muslims! Well done!
Sunday's Sermons on Hebrews 11:1 and Biblical Faith
11/26/2012 - James WhiteIt has been quite some time since we last delved into our Hebrews series, and I finally got back to it this past Lord's Day. I hope these are useful to the brethren!
An Interesting Internal Islamic Dialogue
11/24/2012 - James White
Today on Radio Free Geneva: Winford Claiborne and the Church of Christ on "Calvinism"
11/23/2012 - James WhiteOnly got about seven minutes into the presentation of this talk on Free Will from Church of Christ minister Winford Claiborne, but I think most folks will agree---that was far enough! Lots of discussion of the nature of God's decree and what "unconditional election" actually means. Hope it is helpful to those who are in dialogue with folks who would have a deep prejudice against "Calvinism" due to teaching like this. Here's the program.
Tremendous Blessings for Bible Students Today
11/23/2012 - James WhiteI get lots of promotional e-mails from various companies from whom I've ordered materials, computer programs, etc. A few weeks ago I saw something from Logos that caught my eye. I have a huge Logos library. In fact, once I upgraded to Logos 5 (I guess I should be more specific...I was upgraded through the generosity of someone else) I was able to generate a bibliography of my entire library (something Logos 4 had constantly croaked upon attempting to do). The resultant PDF was 232 pages long. Yowsers. What a blessing! Add to that what I have in Accordance, in my Kindle library, and in my Papers library, and I clearly have passed the tipping point when it comes to electronic versus printed resources. Anyway, I was scanning through an ad from Logos when I saw something about a memorization tool. I looked at the ad and went, "Now THAT is useful."
Having gotten Logos5 up and running (the upgrade was easy, though, be warned--if you have a library my size, even a high powered MacBook Pro will get quite hot and bothered re-indexing your stuff) I have been busily entering my old memorization cards into the program so that I can make use of the memorization tool. I have suggested to Logos that it would be awesome if they could incorporate that feature into their mobile apps for iOS and Droid (since I use Logos on both platforms on my iPad and my Galaxy Nexus phone). Of course, you don't have to have the full tool to use those mobile apps to work on memorization, but it would be really nice.
Anyway, looking over my Logos library, using my Accordance program every day, recording books to mp3 through my Kindle, organizing papers and articles in Papers---really makes you wonder how Calvin ever wrote all those commentaries without this stuff! But seriously, we live in a day where we have so much available to us! Programs like BibleWorks, Logos, Accordance, etc., have become so amazingly advanced, so amazingly useful, it is incredible. Talk about something worth being thankful for!
Which program is best? The simple answer to that is...the one you have been using the longest, probably. In other words, the "big three" can all do the same things when it comes to Biblical research. Logos is in the lead as far as a library program is concerned, obviously---which would give a small edge to BibleWorks and Accordance in the strict Bible research area, but they are all moving in the same direction. I started with BibleWorks and added Logos back in my PC days. I moved to Accordance from BibleWorks when the folks at BW told me they were not going to provide a Mac version. Of course, that has now changed, and BW is moving into the Mac realm (too late for me, but that might be useful to others of you). Logos went Mac right around the time I did, so I was able to transition my library fairly easily. In any case, many, like myself, have to "double dip" in the sense that I am invested way too deeply in each platform to abandon those resources and repurchase them in another platform just to have singularity. So I will have Accordance and Logos running concurrently. For me, often I am using Accordance to do my linguistic studies while using Logos for my commentaries and background materials.
For someone just moving into these programs, it is obviously better to choose one and stick with it. And these days, any one of them offers you such a massive amount of material, it is truly an "embarrassment of riches." Surely something to be thankful for!
My 2012 Holiday Challenge! Care to Join Me?
11/22/2012 - James WhiteSo, I have taken up rowing again, something I enjoyed doing back about five years ago. In 2007 I completed the Concept2 Holiday Rowing Challenge, rowing more than 200,000m (i.e., 200 km, approximately 122 miles) between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. So I am committed to doing that again this year.
But---I am a cyclist who rows (not a rower who cycles), so I was thinking, how can I add a cycling element? So I started doing some numbers in my mind and figured that a good balance would be 200km rowing/800km on the bike (total of 1000km covered in two different ways). I have a three day trip to St. Charles next weekend, so I don't have a clear path as far as workout days goes, and my grand daughter will be arriving during that time, too, so I will need to get a good jump on it to be sure.
But that's just the physical side. I need some intellectual and spiritual goals too. So, I want to finish all of Sahih Al-Bukhari by Christmas Eve (that's 40 hours worth of audio at normal speed, but about 32 at high speed). And I want to do some memorization work as well. Some will include some texts in the Qur'an (in both English as well as portions in Arabic), but on the positive side, I wish to memorize a few NT texts in Greek (Hebrews 1:1,3, John 6:37, Mark 5:30) some Proverbs (28:4 in English and Hebrew), and the 46th Psalm in English.
So how about you? I know, I know, it is a BUSY time. I preach eight times during that period, do a full seminar on the Trinity as well, do the Dividing Line, and all the family stuff that goes with it. But if you don't set goals, you will never reach them! So as I seek to keep this aging body going strong (I enter my sixth decade during this month as well!) I need to combine goals of Scripture memorization as well. In my next blog article I will address some of the tools we have available to us to help. But for now, I hope you are challenged! Obviously, you do not have to do what I'm doing specifically---you can choose your own verses, your own workout patterns, etc., but I hope you will consider a full-orbed challenge for this holiday season!
Radio Free Geneva on "Black Friday"
11/21/2012 - James WhiteNot into the shopping scene? Me either. So, how about a Radio Free Geneva in the morning to help start working off all those extra calories? I will be responding to the "Free Will" sermon found here by Winford Claiborne, a Church of Christ minister who demonstrates that you can oppose Calvinism but not have a clue what Calvinism actually teaches. Join us for an early morning edition at 11am EST, 8am on the Left Coast.
Store Closed, Please accept our apologies
11/21/2012 - Rich Pierce-For some time we have been working on upgrading our systems. While we knew that our shopping cart software was a bit old we didn't realize that it was so old that it wouldn't function under the new platform that we installed last Saturday. Well after a couple of days of trying to revive it we had to make the decision to temporarily shut down the bookstore while working toward the setup of our new cart system. While the new cart system was already in the plan we hadn't planned on the switchover until the first of the year so this outage certainly wasn't part of the plan. We will keep you updated on our progress as it unfolds.
During this time we will experience a shortfall in income and would certainly appreciate any support that you could provide. If you would like to donate click on the Support Us link above.
Imputation of Righteousness in Church History (As discussed on the Dividing Line today)
11/20/2012 - Tur8infanPastor David King was of great help in providing the following example of an early church Father, a medieval Father, a Doctor of the Church (according to Rome), and a cardinal of the Roman church, all affirming imputation in some form or other.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): The fragrance of your wisdom comes to us in what we hear, for if anyone needs wisdom let him ask of you and you will give it to him. It is well known that you give to all freely and ungrudgingly. As for your justice, so great is the fragrance it diffuses that you are called not only just but even justice itself, the justice that makes men just. Your power to make men just is measured by your generosity in forgiving. Therefore the man who through sorrow for sin hungers and thirsts for justice, let him trust in the One who changes the sinner into a just man, and, judged righteous in terms of faith alone, he will have peace with God. See Kilian Walsh, O.C.S.O., Bernard of Clairvaux On the Song of Songs II (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, Inc.,1983), Sermon 22.8, p. 20.
Latin text: Porro sapientiae tuae odorem ex eo percipimus quod audivimus quia si quis indiget sapientia, postulet eam a te, et dabis ei. Aiunt siquidem quod des omnibus affluenter, et non improperes. At vero justitiae tuae tanta ubique fragrantia spargitur, ut non solum justus, sed etiam ipsa dicaris justitia, et justitia justificans. Tam validus denique es ad justificandum, quam multus ad ignoscendum. Quamobrem quisquis pro peccatis compunctus esurit et sitit justitiam, credat in te qui justificas impium, et solam justificatus per fidem, pacem habebit ad Deum. Sermones in Cantica, Sermo XXII, §8, PL 183:881D.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Man therefore was lawfully delivered up, but mercifully set free. Yet mercy was shown in such a way that a kind of justice was not lacking even in his liberation, since, as was most fitting for man s recovery, it was part of the mercy of the liberator to employ justice rather than power against man s enemy. For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of him self to recover that righteousness which he had formerly lost? Therefore he who lacked righteousness had another’s imputed to him, and in this way: The prince of this world came and found nothing in the Saviour, and because he notwithstanding laid hands on the Innocent he lost most justly those whom he held captive; since He who owed nothing to death, lawfully freed him who was subject to it, both from the debt of death, and the dominion of the devil, by accepting the injustice of death; for with what justice could that be exacted from man a second time? It was man who owed the debt, it was man who paid it. For if one, says S. Paul, died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor. v. 14), so that, as One bore the sins of all, the satisfaction of One is imputed to all. It is not that one forfeited, another satisfied; the Head and body is one, viz., Christ. The Head, therefore, satisfied for the members, Christ for His children, since, according to the Gospel of Paul, by which Peter’s [i.e., Abelard] falsehood is refuted, He who died for us, quickened us together with Himself, forgiving us all our trespasses, blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross, having spoiled principalities and powers (Col. ii. 13, 14). Dom. John Mabillon, ed., Life and Works of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, trans. Samuel J. Eales, Vol. II, Letter CXC – Against Certain Heads of Abaelard’s Heresies, 6.15 (London: Burns and Oates Limited, 1889), pp. 580-581. Cf. Epistola CXC, ad Innocentum II, Pontificem, Tractatus de erroribus Petri Abaelardi, Caput VI, §15, PL 182:1065B-D.
Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621): And in this way, it were not absurd, if any one should say that the righteousness and merits of Christ are imputed unto us, when they are given and applied unto us, as if we ourselves had satisfied God. For translation, see The Works of John Owen, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, General Considerations, ed. William H. Goold, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, Third printing, 1977), vol. V, p. 56.
Latin text: Et hoc modo non esset absurdum, si quis diceret nobis imputari Christi justitiam et merita; cum nobis donentur et applicentur; ac si nos ipsi Deo satisfecissemus. Roberti Bellarmini, Opera Omnia, De Controversiis, Tomus Quartus, Pars Prima, De Justificatione (Neapoli: Apud Josephum Giuliano, 1858), Liber II, Caput 10, p. 523.
Bellarmine cannot deny this when he says that Christ can rightly be said to be made righteousness meritoriously "because he satisfied the Father for us, and gives and communicates that satisfaction to us, when he justifies us, so that he can be called our sanctification and righteousness, as if we ourselves had satisfied God" ("De Justificatione," 2.10 Opera , 4:523). This he confirms on 2 Cor. 5:21: "The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us as to the satisfaction, which he made for us" (ibid., p. 524). Nor can that which our opponent adds in the same place help his cause when he says: "But not on this account can we be reckoned righteous, if the stains and corruption of sins truly inhere in us" (ibid.). For if the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us (as he had already confessed), then certainly we are considered righteous in him; for no one imputes righteousness to him whom he does not count righteous. And if the satisfaction of Christ is imputed to us, then our debts for which he satisfied are not imputed [to us], but are remitted. Falsely also he holds "that the righteousness inhering in us is here called the righteousness of God because it is given to us of God; or also because it is the image and effect of the righteousness of God" (ibid.). For the little clause "in him" stands in the way; for how could it be said to be in Christ, if it was in us? [Cardinal] Contarini acknowledges this: "The righteousness of God in him, since his righteousness is made ours, is given and imputed to us" (cf. "De Justificatione," Casparis Contareni Cardinalis Opera , p. 592).
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 2, pp. 652-53, Sixteenth Topic, Third Question, Section XVII, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1994)
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Psalm 22:1: Let it [i.e., the LXX] therefore heed John’s loud cry, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and the divinely inspired Paul’s words, “For us he made him to be sin who did not know sin so that we might become righteousness through him,” and again, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us.” So just as the one who was a fount of righteousness assumed our sin, and the one who was an ocean of blessing accepted a curse lying upon us, and scorning shame endured a cross, so too he uttered the words on our behalf. After all, if he willingly submitted to chastisement prescribed for us—“Chastisement of our peace is upon him,” the inspired author says—much more is it the case that it was on our behalf that he employed these words in our person, crying out, The words of my failings are far from saving me: do not have regard to the faults of nature, he is saying, but grant salvation in view of my sufferings. Robert C. Hill, The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 101, Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Psalms, 1-72 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000), pp. 146-147.
Greek text: Ἀκουσάτωσαν τοίνυν Ἰωάννου τοῦ πάνυ βοῶντος· «Ἴδε ὁ Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου.» Τοῦ δὲ θεσπεσίου Παύλου λέγοντος·«Τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα δικαιοσύνη ἐν αὐτῷ.» Καὶ πάλιν· «Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατά ρας τοῦνόμου, γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα.» Τοιγαροῦν ὥσπερ δικαιοσύνης ὑπάρχων πηγὴ, τὴν ἡμετέραν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνέλαβε, καὶ εὐλογίας ὢν πέλα γος, τὴν ἐπικειμένηνἡμῖν ἐδέξατο κατάραν, καὶ σταυρὸν ὑπέμεινεν αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας· οὕτω καὶ τοὺς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐποιήσατο λόγους. Εἰ γὰρ τὴν ὡρισμένην ὑμῖν παιδείαν ὑπῆλθενἑκών· «Παιδεία γὰρ εἰρήνης ἡμῶν ἐπʼ αὐτὸν,» ᾗ φησιν ὁ προφήτης· πολλῷ μᾶλλον τοῖς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀνθʼ ἡμῶν ἐχρήσατο λόγοις, καὶ βοᾷ «Μακρὰν ἀπὸ τῆςσωτηρίας μου οἱ λόγοι τῶν παραπτωμάτων μου.» Μὴ ἀποβλέψῃς, φησὶν, εἰς τὰ τῆς φύσεως πλημμελήματα· ἀλλὰ δὸς τὴν σωτηρίαν διὰ τὰ ἐμὰ παθήματα. Interpretatio in Psalmos, Psalmi XXI, v. 1, PG 80:1012.
Addendum, thanks to Bruce McCormack's Justification in Perspective:
Ambrosiaster (fl. 4th century): This he says, that without the works of the law, to an impious person (that is, a Gentile) believing in Christ, his faith is imputed for righteousness, as it was to Abraham. How then can the Jews imagine that through the works of the law they are justified with Abraham's justification, when they see that Abraham was justified not from the works of the law, but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law, since an impious person is justified with God through faith alone. Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul's Epistles, on Romans 4:5 (PL 17:86).
Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225): In short, faith in one of two gods cannot possibly admit us to the dispensation of the other, so that it should impute righteousness to those who believe in him, and make the just live through him, and declare the Gentiles to be his children through faith. Such a dispensation as this belongs wholly to Him through whose appointment it was already made known by the call of this self-same Abraham, as is conclusively shown by the natural meaning. Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 5, Chapter 3 (see here).
TurretinFan joins me today on The Dividing Line
11/20/2012 - James WhiteToday was an important program, for TurretinFan joined us to continue our response to Jason Stellman's appearance on the Called to Confusion podcast. In this program we tackle his statements about patristics and sola scriptura. Important for those dealing with the claims of Romanism. A full 90 minutes of response. Don't miss this one! Here's the program.
Continued Response to Jason Stellman Today at 5:30pm EST
11/20/2012 - James WhiteTurretinFan will join me again this evening at 5:30pm EST to continue our review of, and response to, Jason Stellman's appearance on the Called to Confusion webcast. Make sure to join us then!
A Better Way to Donate?
11/19/2012 - Rich PierceThis may shock you but not everyone is in love with PayPal. While the vast majority of our donors have no problem with the PayPal system some folks have let me know that they have found a 'better way.' What is that 'better way' you say? These folks do 'online banking' and have their monthly bills setup for the bank to automatically send a check out every month. Well, they setup Alpha and Omega Ministries as a payee into that same system and now their monthly donations come directly to us from their bank. Is it a 'better way?' You decide. Either way we so appreciate your support.
If you would like to setup Alpha and Omega Ministries as a payee in your online banking system just use the following information:
Alpha and Omega Ministries
P.O. Box 37106
Phoenix, AZ 85069-7106
Replying to Sam Gipp on KJV Onlyism: Episode 4
11/16/2012 - James WhiteIn this episode Sam Gipp attempts to explain away the archaic language of the King James Version.
Today on a Special Friday Morning Dividing Line
11/16/2012 - James WhiteGot back to the Licona/Martin debate, seeing again and again how vitally important it is to examine presuppositions, especially when dealing with post-modernists! Hopefully useful material once again! Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
The Treacherous Waters of the Tiber: TurretinFan and I Review Jason Stellman's Slide into Romanism
11/15/2012 - James WhiteTurretinFan joined me today as we began reviewing Jason Stellman's recent appearance on the Called to Confusion podcast. Jason Stellman is a former PCA minister who has turned his back on the gospel of grace and bowed the knee to the Papacy. Vitally important issues are raised and addressed in this program. We will continue our review in the near future. Here's the program.
Tomorrow at 12pm EST I will do another episode of the Dividing Line, continuing our review of the Licona/Martin debate.
Transcript: Does The Bible Teach Sola Scriptura? - James White vs. Jerry Matatics - Vintage
11/15/2012 - James WhiteOpening Argument
It is good to be with you this evening on a rather chilly evening outside. You need to remember that in Phoenix it has not been this cold in probably about 3,000 years. But I enjoy it, the air is clean and it is good to be with you here in Omaha.
I want to take you back, as we discuss sola Scriptura this evening, to the period following the Council of Nicaea in 325. You may recall from your church history that the Council of Nicaea the full deity of Our Lord Jesus Christ was affirmed by the council--that Jesus Christ was not a creature, he was not a created being-- yet you may also be aware that in the period that followed the Council of Nicaea, for the next number of decades, Arianism reigned supreme in the Church. For example, Athanasius, the great bishop, was driven from his See five times during the period of time following Nicaea because of the political activities of the Arians. During that particular period of time, Athanasius, writing to his friend, Adelphius, against the Arians, wrote the following. Please listen closely.
"Such then, as we have above described is the madness and daring of those men (speaking of the Arians). But our faith is right and starts from the teaching of the Apostles and tradition of the fathers, being confirmed both by the New Testament and the Old. For the Prophets say, 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name 'Immanuel' which is being interpreted 'God with us.' What does that mean, if not that God has come in the flesh? While the apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, 'For as much then as Christ suffered for us in the flesh' and in what Paul writes, 'Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.'"
Now why do I bring this to your attention? First of all, if you read Athanasius' letter, he argues solely from the Scriptures as the rule of faith against the Arians. He argues that this is what defines what Christians are to believe. In fact, if you listened to the passages that he cited, for example, Titus 2:13, a passage that I have often cited in dealing with modern Arians and there are many of them out there today--Jehovah's Witnesses, The Way International, individuals who deny the deity of Christ--Titus 2:13 is one of the passages that I have frequently used as well. He uses those same Scriptures and he defines the apostolic tradition by the words of Scripture. Apostolic tradition, in this letter from Athanasius, refers to the Scriptures and that may explain why this same writer, Athanasius, said, for example, "The holy and inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the preaching of the truth." And he also said, "These canonical books are the fountain of salvation so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them. In these alone the school of piety preaches the Gospel. Let no man add or take away from them."
When the early Church Father, Basil, was attacked by his opponents regarding his beliefs about the Godhead, he replied much like Athanasius. When his opponents talked about the customs they had he responded, "If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them." Listen closely. "Therefore, let God-inspired Scripture decide between us and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth."
Now we have come here this evening to discuss sola Scriptura. Well, what does that mean? Well, first, I'd like to start with the negatives, what it doesn't mean, because I've discovered there's a lot of confusion about what it does mean. Let me tell you some of the things it doesn't mean. First of all, it is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. It is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible is not exhaustive in every detail. In John 21:25 we read that if everything that Jesus said or did had been recorded that the world itself would not be large enough to contain the books that would be written, but it does not have to be exhaustive, either, to be the rule of faith for the Church. We don't need to know the color of Matthew's eyes. We don't need to know the menu of each of the apostolic meals of the Lord Jesus by the Sea of Galilee to have a sufficient rule of faith for the Church. Curiosity that goes beyond what God has revealed is not godly.
Secondly, it is not a denial of the Church's authority to teach. I Timothy 3:15 describes the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth. And what is the truth? The truth, of course, is Jesus Christ. And how do we know Jesus Christ? We know Jesus Christ from his Word. The Church teaches truth and calls men to believe in the truth, calls men to believe in Jesus Christ. But the Church does not add revelation or rule over the Scriptures. The Church, being the Bride of Christ, listens to the Word of Christ, which is found in the God-breathed Scriptures.
Thirdly, it is not a denial that God's Word was, at one time, spoken. Apostolic teaching was authoritative in and of itself, yet the Apostles proved their message from Scripture. You'll note, for example, Paul's example, in Acts 17:2 or Apollos in Acts 18:28 demonstrating the consistency that existed between the message that they preached and the Old Testament Scriptures. And remember, also, that John commended those in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2 for testing those who claimed to be Apostles, and how would they have done that, if not by the Scriptures?
And finally, number four, it is not a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church. It is in no way a denial that the Holy Spirit is absolutely, positively necessary for anyone to have a full understanding of the Scriptures because they need to be spiritually discerned.
What then, is Sola Scriptura?
Well, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura simply states that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fide, the rule of faith, for the Church. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source. That which is not found in Scripture is not binding upon the Christian conscience. To be more specific, I provide the following definition. The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man, church or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting and self-authenticating. The Christian Church looks to the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and the Church is always subject to the Word and is constantly reformed thereby.
Now I want you to recognize that I am emphasizing that the doctrine of sola Scriptura is based upon the inspiration of Scripture. Now that term, inspiration, that you will find, for example, in II Timothy 3:16, is really not the best way of rendering the term. The Greek term, theopneustos, is best rendered as "God-breathed." And in fact, in the New International Version, that is how it is rendered. In II Timothy 3:16 we read that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction, for training in righteousness, in order that the man of God might be complete, fully equipped for every good work." We learn from this that Scripture's authority is God's authority. You don't have Scriptural authority over here then God's authority over here. You don't have different authorities in the Church. The authority of the Church is one: God's authority. And when God speaks in Scripture that carries His authority.
Notice, for example, from the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 22 when he is talking with the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, he says, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures, nor the power of God, for in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels in Heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead have you not read what God spoke to you, saying 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.'" Please notice that from the Lord Jesus' perspective that which was found in Scripture was God speaking and he held those men responsible for what God had said to them, even though what was spoken had been written a thousand years earlier. Scripture is God speaking to man. It is theopneustos. God-breathed.
Note as well Peter's words in II Peter 1:20-21, "Knowing this first of all that no Scriptural prophecy ever came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For no prophecy ever was born by the will of man. Rather, while being carried along by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God." That is why the Scriptures can function as a rule of faith for the Church, because they are God-breathed. What God says is the final authority for the Church. ...
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Why I Left The Roman Catholic Church - by Benny Diaz - Vintage
11/14/2012 - Rich Pierce(Part I)
In October of 1981, while visiting a friend in the hospital, I was confronted with the question, “Are you a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Word at God?” I was also asked, “Would you like to invite the Lord Jesus in your heart to save you and to give you eternal life?” Well, these phrases were foreign to my vocabulary. You see, my friend happened to be a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn’t.
In his hospital room he shared with me from the Bible how God in us Supreme love and grace, provided a way for me to have all my sins forgiven and washed away. He shared with me how God sent us only-begotten Son to die for me. It was amazingly revealed to me that Jesus Christ died once and for all on the cross at Calvary for the sins of all that would believe and call upon his name. Tears filled my eyes when I began to realize how Jesus carried the cross, shed His blood on that cross, was ridiculed, spat on and beaten for ME! It was shown to me from God’s glorious Word how Jesus then died, was buried and how He arose in glory to be my Savior! He is now my only way to God and my only Mediator.
Yes, I needed salvation and I came to realize then, and every day since then, that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ alone. No other can fill His place nor can He again be put to death for He died once and for all on that cross at Calvary almost 2000 years ago! On that day I prayed and received Christ Jesus and believed in His Lordship! And do you know what? He saved me because He promised to in His Word, the Bible!
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my leaving the Roman Catholic Church. Everything! I was a Roman Catholic for 23 years prior to my conversion. As a Catholic I believed many things which were necessary in order to be a “good” Catholic. I came to realize at the time of my conversion and the months following that most of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church stand contrary to the Bible. I realize this may sound shocking to some but I believe if anyone is willing to take God's Word in one hand, the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in the other, one will come to the same conclusion. With this conclusion one is left with the decision of following the teachings of Rome or the teachings of God’ s Holy Word, the Bible. I would like to, lovingly and Biblically, share with you these differences. I prayerfully hope God might use this information to edify and help you. ...
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Today on the Dividing Line
11/13/2012 - James WhiteThe Big Brains of Brussels (i.e., the EU) are worried about "stereotyping" the family---we can't have kids thinking a mommy and a daddy are the norm! That's heterosexism, you know. Yeah---tell me about it. Then we looked at some post-election issues relating to the great "unity" brought about by denying sola scriptura. The last half hour I spent looking at Hebrews 6 and making application to those who have stood in our midst and preached the gospel, but who then trade it away for the trinkets of Rome, announcing that on Thursday I will again, Deo volente, be joined by my dear brother TurretinFan to discuss the recent appearance of former Presbyterian minister Jason Stellman on the Called to Confusion podcast. We may be starting early on Thursday, probably getting rolling at 5:30pm EST so as to have enough time to get through at least a good portion of the interview. Here's the program.
Afternoon Dividing Line Today
11/13/2012 - Rich PierceRemember, today's Dividing Line has been moved across the street.....er....uhh.....no. Today's Dividing Line will be on at 4:00MST. ;-)
A Biblical Basis for the "Immaculate Conception"? - Vintage
11/13/2012 - James WhiteA Review and Rebuttal of Patrick Madrid's Article "Ark of the New Covenant" in "This Rock" magazine, December 1991.
Catholic Answers has some interesting ways of grabbing your attention. By placing the beginning paragraph or two of the lead article of their monthly magazine, This Rock, on the very cover of the work, they draw your attention into reading the rest of the article. True to form, the December, 1991 edition sported Pat Madrid's article, "Ark of the New Covenant" with the interesting lead in, "His face stiffened, and his eyes narrowed to slits. Until now the Calvary Chapel pastor had been calm as he `shared the gospel' with me, but when I mentioned my belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception, his attitude changed." Using a "real-life" backdrop for the presentation of some particular topic is another fine writing tool used by the folks at Catholic Answers. As you continue to read about this encounter, you discover that our author, Pat Madrid, is going to provide Biblical support for his belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. He writes of his encounter with the Protestant pastor,
After we'd examined the biblical evidence for the doctrine, the anti-Marianism he'd shown became muted, but it was clear that, at least emotionally if not biblically, Mary was a stumbling block for him. Like most Christians (Catholic and Protestant) the minister was unaware of the biblical support for the Church's teaching on the Immaculate Conception. But sometimes even knowledge of these passages isn't enough. Many former Evangelicals who have converted to the Catholic Church relate how hard it was for them to put aside prejudices and embrace Marian doctrines even after they'd thoroughly satisfied themselves through prayer and Scripture study that such teachings were indeed biblical.
Such words indicated to me that I was going to have the opportunity of seeing solid, Biblical argumentation for the concept of the Immaculate Conception in what followed. Unfortunately, what was presented as "biblical evidence" turned out to be much less than convincing.
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Removing One's Name From the Rolls of the LDS Church - Vintage
11/12/2012 - James White
Attached to this sheet is a copy of what can be called a ‘representative sample’ of a letter that requests that a person’s name be removed from the rolls of the Mormon Church. Some introductory comments are necessary.
First, there are some folks who leave Mormonism, come to Christ, and have no desire whatsoever to have their names removed from the rolls of the Mormon Church. We know of some folks like that. However, most of the time a person who finds out the great deception they have been under in the Mormon Church have a great desire to have their names removed from the Church’s membership rolls. They can’t handle the idea of still being counted as one of the “Saints.’ However, it has been proven more than once in the past that the Mormon Church does not like to remove anyone’s name from their roll. In the past people have spent great amounts of time, even money, in trying to get their names removed. Others have found that the LDS Church has “excommunicated’ them, even though it was they who requested that their names be removed. Some have suffered loss of friends and loved ones because of the stigma associated with “excommunication.”
In recent years, certain lawsuits have demonstrated that the attached letter should make removal of one’s name a simple, easy process, if done correctly. Certainly there will be some who encounter more resistance than others - however, generally, we have found that following the outline here given will result in action being taken within a month’s time, or even less. The Mormon Church has no right to maintain your membership in an organization that you do not want to be a part of.It is important to include each of the following elements to assure a smooth procedure:
1. Send letter in triplicate, certified mail, return receipt requested. Many people have written letters that the Church denied having received - make sure that doesn’t happen to you! The letter should be sent to three persons - first, to the Bishop of the ward where you are currently assigned. If you don’t know who that would be, contact a local ward and ask. There shouldn’t be any problem in getting the information, even if you have to write to Salt Lake first to get it. The second person is the President of the Stake of which your ward is a part. Once you know what the ward is, there should be no problem tracking this person down, either. Finally, send a copy to the Office of the First Presidency, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
2. Make your intentions clear. This means that they must understand exactly what it is you are saying - you want your name removed from the rolls. Let them know that you do understand what this means in their eyes (see second paragraph of the letter).
3. Give a positive testimony of your salvation in Christ. This letter can be an opportunity of witness, and even if you are confused at this time and have feelings like ‘I’d just like to get this over with,’ you won’t regret having taken the time to share with these men later.
4. Give reasons for rejecting the LDS system. This is for two reasons: 1) they need to know that there are problems in their belief system. Exactly what you bring up will be up to you and your own situation. What most concerned you about LDS teaching? Was there something that God particularly used to open your eyes to the false teachings and deception in Mormonism? Talk about whatever it was that was important to you. 2) This functions to give the Mormon Church what it needs to have a reason to remove your name - "heresy."
5. Lay the groundrules. It is at this point that you must make a decision. The sample letter requests that no representatives of the Church try to contact you to change your mind. We suggest this as the best possible course of action, as many people who wish to leave Mormonism are in a state of flux at this time, and don’t need home teachers and Mormon missionaries banging on their door while they are working on getting into the Word and getting to know the Lord in a personal way. However, at the same time, if you are in touch with a solid, Biblical church, or with a counter-cult ministry that can be of help, you may wish to allow the opportunity for dialogue to have the chance of sharing the gospel with these folks. The decision is yours. Remember, however, that if you are looking for a quick, simple process, it would be best to close off communication immediately at this juncture.
Also, the mention of legal action is not meant for spite - there have been such legal actions, and the Church has come out on the losing end enough times that they aren’t interested in playing around.
6. Sign your name! May sound simple, and it is, but it is important. If you are a parent, and are including the name(s) of your children, make sure they sign as well. The signed names must correspond to the name(s) listed at the beginning of the letter.
If the above procedures are followed, there should be no problem in having your name removed, and that quickly. If there should be a problem, we would like to hear about it. You may wish to contact a Christian lawyer as well, if need be. Be assured of our prayers and support at this time, and if you should need any information, counsel, whatever, just let us know. We would be happy to help.
Phoenix 20th Ward
City, State, Zip
Dear Bishop Jones:
This letter is being sent in triplicate to Bishop Jones, State President Robinson, and to the Office of the First Presidency in Salt Lake City. These letters are being sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
I am writing to ask you to remove my name, <give full name as it appears in the signature at close of letter>, from the roles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do this with full understanding of the consequences as taught by the LDS Church. I ask this due to my having found the real Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I have found that Jesus is not the spirit-brother of Lucifer, and just one of many gods, but that He is the eternal God of creation who died on the cross for me. By simple faith He has become my personal Savior, and all my sins have been washed away. I now know that my salvation comes as a free gift of God (Romans 6:23), and that there is absolutely no way that I can earn it, and that even to attempt to do so is to insult the One who offers salvation to me. I have been born again, saved by grace, which is totally inconsistent with the teaching of the Book of Mormon at 2 Nephi 25:23.
I have also found that the LDS Church has not been honest and open with its people. Joseph Smith was not a true prophet of God, as he violated the Biblical standards of a true prophet as laid down in Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and 18:20-22. He violated the first passage by proclaiming, “...you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you...” (The King Follett Funeral Discourse as recorded in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-348). This is in direct violation of what God has said in Isaiah 43:10: “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” This teaching is causing people to follow after ‘another god’ as Deuteronomy 13:2 said would happen. This alone makes Joseph Smith a false prophet. However, it is quite easy to list a number of false prophecies of Joseph Smith that allow him to qualify under the teaching of Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Some of these would include Doctrine and Covenants section 111, 114, and 124:59-60. The most amazing, however, is the entire Book of Abraham, which is, in reality, the Egyptian Book of Breathings taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, all of which is totally pagan material.
I am taking this action of my own initiative. This is my right as a citizen of the United States. I am not to be excommunicated. No communication from the LDS Church is to contain the word “excommunication," - as I am the one initiating the action. Should the word appear in any of the letters from the LDS Church concerning this matter, legal action would definitely be in order. Also, I am hereby requesting that no elders, home teachers, or any other representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visit my home to attempt to persuade me against this action. I trust my request will be honored.
It is my hope that you, too, Bishop Jones, will come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. He is the ‘way, the truth and the life.’ He is not an organization. Accept Him by faith, and the gift of eternal life can be yours.
I sign my name in witness of this request that my name be removed from the rolls of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
(Signature of full name)
Name and Address
Three Levels of Heaven? - Vintage
11/11/2012 - James White
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints teaches that there are three levels of heaven: the celestial (the highest), the terrestial (the middle), and the telestial (the lowest). The clearest teaching concerning this is found in section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Mormons refer to 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 as Biblical support for this teaching. But did Paul believe in three levels of heaven? Lets examine that.
The King James Version translates this passage as follows:
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”
The Mormon church has latched on to the terms “celestial” and “terrestial” in its teaching of various levels of heaven. The third word, “telestial” is not even an English word, but was created by the imagination of Joseph Smith by combining the first two letters of “terrestial” with the last seven letters of “celestial.” A much clearer translation of the above passage is provided by the New American Standard Bible:
“There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”
No Bible text can be understood outside of the context in which it is found. Such is also the case here. 1 Corinthians 15 is known as the “resurrection chapter.” Paul is here discussing the topic of the resurrection of believers. Notice the two questions he has addressed in this chapter so far; verse 12 addresses those who did not believe in resurrection, and verse 35 asks the question, “with what kind of body do they come?” Paul is still answering this question in verses 40 and 41. What, then, is Paul’s point?
Paul is here discussing the connection between our physical body, and the spiritual body we will have at the resurrection. He maintains that there is definitely a connection between the two, but the future, glorified body will far transcend our current physical body in so many ways. To make his point, he brings in a number of illustrations. One is the seed and the plant (vs. 36-38), another that of the flesh of the animal kingdom (v.39). When we come to the verses under discussion here, we see that he is continuing with the same train of thought here comparing the glory of heavenly bodies with the glory of earthly bodies. This verse simply continues his comparison - there is no reason to believe that all of a sudden he decides to talk about different levels of heaven! The very next verse substantiates this quite well:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
Notice the continued parallelism - perishable, imperishable; dishonor, glory. Since it is therefore obvious that Paul is describing the nature of the resurrection body, and not different levels of heaven, what about the passage at 2 Corinthians 12:2?
This passage reads, in the New American Standard Bible, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” Then, in verse 4 Paul identifies this “third heaven” as “Paradise.” What is the third heaven?
The Bible does describe three heavens. The first heaven is that of the sky above us - the atmosphere of the earth. The second heaven is the abode of the stars and earth - “space” as we know it. The third heaven, however, was always the abode of God Himself, “heaven” as we would use the phrase. This was a common conception in Paul’s time, and was a convenient way of describing things. Hence, Paul was caught up into the presence of God, into the “third heaven.”
The teaching that there is a special place reserved only for people who have completed certain ceremonies and endowments in a temple on earth, who themselves will progress to becoming gods themselves, is completely without support in the Bible, and in fact is flatly and utterly contradicted by the teachings of God’s Word, the Bible.
Min is Not God! - Vintage
11/10/2012 - James White
An Examination of Joseph Smith’s “Explanation” of Facsimile #2 in the Book of Abraham
In 1835 Michael H. Chandler arrived in Kirtland, Ohio. In his horse-drawn wagon he carried four Egyptian mummies. Along with the mummies were included displays of the papyri rolls found on the mummies themselves. Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, was fascinated by Chandler’s exhibit, so much so that his fledgling Church purchased the entire display from Chandler for a large sum of money: $2,400.00. Joseph Smith said:
Soon after this, some of the Saints at Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus...and with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc...(Documentary History of the Church, 2:236, emphasis added).
It should be remembered that at this time the study of Egyptian was, on a scholarly level, in its infancy. Smith was claiming to be able to translate what was, for all practical purposes, an unknown language. Of course, he had claimed this same ability in translating the Book of Mormon, which was said to have been written in “Reformed Egyptian.” That Smith was indeed claiming to translate in the normal sense of the term can be seen from his own words:
The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients (DHC 2:238).
Over the next nine years Smith continued to work on his translation of the Book of Abraham. The work was included in the Pearl of Great Price when it was accepted as Scripture in 1880.
The Book of Abraham is unique amongst the books of LDS Scripture: it is the only book that contains illustrations in the form of three “Facsimiles,” each with an “Explanation” provided by Joseph Smith. Since the actual papyri were thought lost (some of the original papyri were found in 1967 and turned over to the LDS Church), the “Facsimiles” provided the only means of testing Joseph Smith’s translation, and his understanding of the documents that were before him.
In this small tract we cannot discuss all the evidence that now exists regarding the Book of Abraham, the papyri that have been found, and the various explanations put forward by defenders of Joseph Smith. Instead, we wish to look at just one aspect of the Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2 (found on the front of this tract), and even more specifically, one section of this drawing and what it really means.
Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove.
Is this indeed a representation of the one true God sitting upon His throne revealing the grand Key-words of the priesthood? Was Joseph Smith a man ahead of his time, able to decipher Egyptian writings in a time when scholarship was just starting to get a clue on the topic?
The object that Joseph Smith included in the Book of Abraham is, in reality, a “hypocephalus,” a common item of Egyptian funeral literature (all of the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham are drawn from common Egyptian funerary documents). It was placed under the person’s head, and was to aid them in making the journey through the netherworld by bathing their bodies in light. Many examples of this kind of hypocephalus are to be found. One of the many pagan gods pictured in this hypocephalus is shown above as it appears in the current edition of the LDS Scriptures. Egyptologists tell us that this is the god “Min.” Min is an “ithyphallic god,” that is, a sexually aroused male deity, as the picture clearly indicates. Min is the god of the procreative forces of nature. Joseph Smith told us that the Egyptian god Min was in point of fact the one true God.
And what is Min doing? Joseph tells us that he is revealing the grand Key-words of the priesthood, with the sign of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove before him. In reality, he is holding up the “divine flail” in one hand and is being approached by the figure Joseph Smith identified as the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. In point of fact, Joseph’s hypocephalus was damaged at the border so that only the head of the “dove” was visible. So, Joseph had to restore the picture. Did he do so correctly? No, he did not. The figure to the right provides us with the proper scene from another hypocephalus (Leyden AMS 62). The being that is approaching Min is not the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove; it is yet another ithyphallic figure, specifically, a serpent, probably the Egyptian God Nehebka, presenting to Min the wedjat- eye, the symbol of good gifts.
The single LDS scholar who has written the most on the Book of Abraham, Dr. Hugh Nibley, has written of Min:
As the supreme sex symbol of gods and men, Min behaves with shocking promiscuity, which is hardly relieved by its ritual nature...His sacred plants were aphrodisiacal...and he is everywhere represented as indulging in incestuous relationships with those of his immediate family; he had the most numerous and varied religious entourage of all the gods, consisting mostly of his huge harem...The hymns, or rather chanting of his worshippers were accompanied with lewd dancing and carousing...to the exciting stimulus of a band of sistrum-shaking damsels (Abraham in Egypt, p. 210).
It must be remembered that Joseph Smith said that this figure represented God sitting on His throne! Incredible as it may seem, intelligent, well-read LDS are fully aware of the true nature of the hypocephalus, including the presence of Min and Nehebka (the vast majority of LDS, however, are not). How do they explain this? Mormon Egyptologist Michael Dennis Rhoades said,
Joseph Smith mentions here the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove and God ‘revealing through the heavens the grand key-words of the priesthood.’ The procreative forces, receiving unusual accentuation throughout the representation, may stand for many divine generative powers, not least of which might be conjoined with blessing of the Priesthood in one’s posterity eternally (BYU Studies, Spring 1977, p. 273).
In other words, since the God of Mormonism is sexually active, begetting children in the spirit-world (indeed, God’s power is often described by Mormons as being made of the power of the priesthood and the power of procreation), and Min is obviously sexually active as well, this then is the “connection.”
We believe that Joseph Smith was utterly ignorant of what was represented in the Egyptian papyri that lay before him. Incapable of translating the figures, he made things up as he went along, claiming God’s direction and inspiration as his guide. In the process he demonstrated his own inability as a “prophet, seer and revelator,” for he grossly misidentified each of the items not only in this Facsimile, but in the other two as well.
Joseph Smith’s defenders today seek to find any connection whatsoever between LDS belief and Egyptian religion, even to the point of seeing in the sexually aroused Min a picture of God upon His throne. But to grasp at this straw is to ignore the Biblical testimony to the one true God. Isaiah saw God upon His throne in Isaiah 6:1-10, but instead of an incestuous god, surrounded by lewd dancing girls, the angels surrounded His throne and cried, “Holy, holy, holy.” God describes the gods of Egypt as “idols” that tremble before him (Isaiah 9:1); these false gods will literally be captured by God in His wrath (Jeremiah 43:12). God reveals the worship of these gods to be an abomination that brings His wrath (Jeremiah 44:8), and mentions one Egyptian god by name in speaking of the punishment he will bring against Egypt (Jeremiah 46:25). Those who worship such gods are “defiled” in God’s sight (Ezekiel 20:7-8). The Bible has nothing but contempt for the gods of Egypt, which would include the abominable figure of Min, identified by Joseph Smith as his God.
We will gladly admit that there is a similarity between the pagan god Min and the Mormon doctrine of God developed in the later years of Joseph Smith’s life. What is equally clear is that the God of the Bible is not similar to either Min, nor the LDS God. As God Himself said:
“To whom will you compare me?” Isaiah 40:25
What the Rest of the Bible Says About Genesis
11/09/2012 - Jeff DownsBack on 10/25 I mentioned in this post a lecture titled "What the Rest of the Bible Says About Genesis." The lecture was given by Joseph Pipa at the 2012 October meeting of the Creation Study Group held in Greenville, SC. I have heard very good things about this lecture. GPTS has decided to send a DVD to its donors. I mention this only because I believe the board of the seminary fully supports the material presented in the video and believes it is important enough to get in the hands of the public.
I posted the audio on Sermon Audio, so, if you are interested (and you should be) click here.
I would also recommend Dr. Morton Smith's lecture from 1999 titled Theological Implications of the Doctrine of Creation. One last recommendation would be the Princeton and Evolution/Creation2012 lecture by Fred Zaspel. Dr. Zaspel had a pastoral emergency and could not present the lecture, so Dr. Pipa read his paper.
Psalm 12:8 Illustrated Yet Once Again
11/08/2012 - James WhiteThe light Tuesday's election cast on the degradation of Western culture's expression in the United States should not have surprised us. But we still hope for some restraint, some sign that God will restrain the madness of men rushing to destroy everything that is good and holy and just. But what did we see? An open lesbian elected to the United States Senate. A trans-sexual elected to office in the Northeast. A bisexual here in my own state of Arizona. The profaning of marriage in multiple states, for the first time by popular vote. It was truly an amazing revelation.
I have avoided watching much media since Tuesday evening. I know too well that Psalm 12:8 is being played out repeatedly:
The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
Yesterday I was thinking about how quickly things have changed in the United States. There has literally been a revolution in worldview, a degradation of ethics and morals that is stunning in its openness and bravado. But I think my generation has trouble with this kind of change. We want to hold on to how things have been. We still see signs of stability from the past and so we struggle to realize how much the ground is shifting under our feet.
I was riding along a trail I ride all the time when I noticed something that struck me as an illustration of how some of us middle-aged/older folks are feeling. I have ridden this section hundreds of times. But I happened to notice something I had not noticed before. I stopped and took a picture. Notice the sign. It is warning about the severe dip ahead. But, if you look past it...well, they have put in a bridge. Now, I rode that section before they put in the bridge, and yep, it was a pretty severe dip. You had to get out of the saddle just to navigate it. It was a bit of a challenge. But, last year they closed the route for a while and put in a bridge. It's been there quite a while now, in fact. But, for some reason, they forgot about this sign. Well, there's one on the other side, too. They just left them there. I have no idea why. Maybe it wasn't on the work order, I don't know. But there stands the sign, pointing to a reality that is now in the past. The sign is now a lie.
There are many artifacts left in our society of how things used to be, echoes of a day when openly immoral men and women knew the meaning of the word "shame." But those signs are pointing to a reality that does not exist anymore. Someday someone will come along and remove those signs along the pathway. And someday, unless God grants repentance, they will come along and banish the last vestiges of our past when God's hand of restraint held back the public display of man's depravity. Till then, they still stand there, reminding some of us of the world we once knew, but pointing to nothing anymore.
And, of course, I wonder what folks think who come upon that sign for the first time today. Do they stand there and wonder what it is talking about? Wonder if maybe some confused government worker put it in the wrong place? Are they as bemused as many young people today when they encounter Christian morality and ethics (over against the materialistic worldview they have been spoon fed by government indoctrination)? I can only wonder...and keep pedaling.
Continuation of Licona/Martin Dialogue on the Deity of Jesus on Today's DL
11/08/2012 - James WhiteI resisted the temptation to comment on the election on the DL today, as there is so much that could be observed, but instead stuck to our review of the Licona/Martin dialogue on whether Jesus recognized His own deity. I think this is an important exercise in examining the presuppositions of what is truly "worldly wisdom." Here's the program.
The Hall of Shame - Vintage
11/08/2012 - James White
Below I deal with a few classic examples of the kind of errors made by McKinsey in BE over the years. This is by no means anywhere near an exhaustive list - just a few (to use his own words) imbroglios he has managed to get himself into in his attack upon God’s Word.
In the December 1983 issue of BE McKinsey says on page 5, ‘The word “Sanhedrin” never appears in the Bible.” The Greek term “sunedrion" - (translated ‘Sanhedrin”) is found 22 times in the New Testament (Mt. 5:22, 10:17, 26:59, Mk. 13:9, 14:55, 15:1, Lk. 22:66, Jn. 11:47, Acts 4:15, 5:21, 27, 34, 41, 6:12, 15, 22:30, 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28, and 24:20). McKinsey’s studying methods are seen here to be based on an exhaustive concordance following the KJV, for the term is normally translated “council” by the King James, hiding its true significance. (McKinsey did say, in a later issue, that the term never appears in the King James Version - whether this was an acknowledgment on his part of the earlier mistake is unclear).
In the February 1983 issue, page 3, McKinsey alleges that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecy of Matthew 12:40 concerning the sign of Jonah. This he bases on the idea that Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and three nights, but Jesus was not in the tomb seventy two hours (Friday evening to Sunday morning). He bluntly says "His prophecy failed." Now, some have taken a Wednesday crucifixion position to avoid this, but that is not only unnecessary, but Biblically insupportable. Rather, the answer lies in the obvious fact that the Jews counted any portion of a day as a full day. Therefore, Friday was day one, Saturday day two, Sunday day three. The push for an absurdly literalistic interpretation of Matthew 12:40 seems just a little inconsistent for Mr. McKinsey, does it not?
In the next month’s issue (March 1983) we find the following: According to McKinsey, Matthew 8:20 (“...the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”) is contradicted by Mark 2:15, where McKinsey claims that the Bible says Jesus owned a house! This one is truly amazing, as the passage makes it clear that the house was Matthew’s home, not Jesus’, and this is corroborated by the parallel passages in Matthew 8:10 and Luke 5:29. So much for close study!
A classic example of how to completely ignore context can be found in the August, 1987 issue, page 1 under the title “Paul the Deceptive Disciple.” I won’t even bother commenting on it, as anyone even somewhat familiar with the Bible will recognize the vast difference in the contexts of the two passages, rendering any charge of “contradiction" or duplicity on Paul’s part absolutely inane. McKinsey writes: " “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing....” (Rom. 7:18) versus “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." (Gal. 2:20). Paul said no good thing dwells within him yet he has Christ within.”
Finally (certainly not due to lack of examples - one could literally find hundreds and hundreds of examples in BE over the past four years) in the March 1983 issue, page 3, it is alleged that Deuteronomy 23:3 is a “false prophecy” due to Ruth 1:4, 22, etc. Deuteronomy 23:3 says that "no Ammonite or Moabite shall enter into the congregation of the LORD.” Since Ruth was a Moabitess, McKinsey alleges that this is a false prophecy But is it? Certainly not! First, Deuteronomy 23 is not a prophecy - it is a law! Are we to say that every time a law is broken that it was a false prophecy to have made the law? Ridiculous! One cannot make a prophecy out of a law. Second, the “assembly of the LORD” was restricted to men only, therefore Ruth could not have entered into it anyway. A little more study into the Old Testament law and Old Testament customs could have saved this anti-theist another embarrassing error.
The above supposed "contradiction" (Deuteronomy 23:3/Ruth 1:4) came up on a local talk program while debating a representative of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Mr. Dan Barker. Mr. Barker called my explanation of the case “weak" (though he did not elaborate on that). During a break the subject of what might be the most well-known alleged contradiction came up - that of Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9. In October of 1986, I received a letter from Mr. Barker. He sent me a four page document entitled “Did Paul’s Men Hear A Voice?” In it he gave a great deal of information on the usage of the genitive and accusative cases relevant to the word akouo (to hear) and its direct objects, primarily phone (sound, voice) since these are the important terms in discussing Acts 9:7/22:9. Though not dealing with all of the issues involved (in my opinion), Mr. Barker did a fine job in stating his belief that the two passages are contradictory. To close our presentation of "Letters to an Anti-Theist,” we will examine this “contradiction."
It is quite easy to see the supposed contradiction at this point. The King James Version reads:
9:7 - “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
22:9 - "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
Clearly the question is - did the men hear the voice or not? To answer that question, we must, obviously, deal with the text as written by Luke in its original languages. This is an excellent example of a situation where the original words must be allowed to be heard in the argument, for we could be charging Luke with a simple mistake that he did not make. Also, we need to notice that modern versions translate the passage differently. For example, the New International Version reads as follows:
9:7 - “The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
22:9 - “My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.”
Note that in the NIV the contradiction no longer exists; in the first passage the men hear a sound; in the second they do not understand the voice of the one speaking to Saul. Mr. Barker and other critics would assert that the NIV has translated in accordance with interpretation and convenience rather than according to language and usage. But is this so? Lets examine these passages and see.
First, before going into the text itself, we must address the issue of “what is a contradiction?” The law of contradiction, stated briefly, would be that you cannot have A and non-A simultaneously. You cannot have a chair in a room and outside the room at the same time. That would be a contradiction. But, is this what we have in this case in Acts?
The answer can only be no, we do not have a contradiction here. First, let’s transliterate the passages so that their differences can be seen:
9:7 - akouontes men tes phones
22:9 - ten de phonen ouk ekousan phones legouses moi
It would be good to list the differences between the passages:
1. In 9:7 akouo is found as a nominative plural participle; in 22:9 it is a plural aorist verb.
2. In 9:7 phone is a singular genitive noun; in 22:9 it is a singular accusative noun.
3. In 9:7 akouo precedes its object; in 22:9 it follows its object.
4. In 9:7 the phrase is not modified; in 22:9 it is modified by “of the one speaking to me.”
5. In 9:7 Luke is narrating an event in Greek; in 22:9 Paul is speaking to a crowd in Hebrew (or Aramaic).
Clearly the critic is placed in an impossible position of forcing the argument here, for the differences between the two passages are quite significant. Hence, the argument must proceed on the grounds of contradictory meanings only, for the grammar of the two passages will not support a clear “A vs. non-A” proposition.
We then must answer the question, are the differences between these passages significant enough to warrant the NIV’s translation? Do we have a solid basis upon which to assert that what Paul meant was that the men heard a sound but did not understand what the voice was saving? I believe we do, and I am not alone on this. Following are some of the comments made by some eminent Greek scholars about these passages:
Thus in Acts 9:7, “hearing the voice,” the noun “voice’ is in the partitive genitive case [i.e., hearing (something) of], whereas in 22:9, "they heard not the voice," the construction is with the accusative. This removes the idea of any contradiction. The former indicates a hearing of the sound, the latter indicates the meaning or message of the voice (this they did not hear). “The former denotes the sensational perception, the latter (the accusative case) the thing perceived." (Cremer). In John 5:25, 28, the genitive case is used, indicating a “sensational perception” that the Lord’s voice is sounding; in 3:8, of hearing the wind, the accusative is used, stressing “the thing perceived." (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, pages 204-205).
Instead of this being a flat contradiction of what Luke says in 9:7 it is natural to take it as being likewise (as with the “light” and “no one’) a distinction between the “sound’ (original sense of phone as in John 3:8) and the separate words spoken. It so happens that akouo is used either with the accusative (extent of the hearing) or the genitive (the specifying). It is possible that such a distinction here coincides with the two senses of phone. They heard the sound (9:7), but did not understand the words (22:9). However, this distinction in case with akouo, though possible and even probable here, is by no means a necessary one for in John 3:8 where phonen undoubtedly means “sound” the accusative occurs as Luke uses ekousa phonen about Saul in Acts 9:4. Besides in Acts 22:7 Paul uses ekousa phones about himself, but ekousa phonen about himself in 26:14, interchangeably. (Word Pictures in the New Testament by Dr. A.T. Robertson, volume III, pages 117- 118).
The fact that the maintenance of an old and well-known distinction between the acc. and the gen. with akouo saves the author of Acts 9:7 and 22:9 from a patent self-contradiction, should by itself be enough to make us recognize it for Luke, and for other writers until it is proved wrong. (A Grammar of New Testament Creek by James Hope Moulton, vol I., page 66. Robertson quotes this approvingly in A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research on pages 448-449).
The partitive gen. occurs in NT with verbs of perception, especially with a personal object. For akouo, the class(ical) rule is that the person whose words are heard is in the gen. ...but the thing (or person) about which one hears is in the accus., and akouo c. accus. may mean to understand...We have to ask whether the class, distinction between gen. and accus. has significance for exegesis in NT. There may be something in the difference between the gen. in Ac. 9:7 (the men with Paul heard the sound ) and the accus. in Ac 22:9 (they did not understand the voice). (A Grammar of New Testament Greek vol. III by Nigel Turner, pg. 233).
Basically, these writers are referring to the possibility that the difference in the case of the term akouo would in this instance (9:7, 22:9) point to a difference in meaning. However, as Mr. Barker points out in his letter to me, and as Dr. A. T. Robertson said above many years earlier, this distinction cannot be written in stone. Why then do we feel that we are correct in asserting this difference as the the "answer” to this supposed contradiction? Context. Though none of the above authors went deeply into the subject, an examination of the context of the passages in question here make it very clear that Luke meant a difference to be understood in what he was writing.
The key element in this investigation is pointed out by R. J. Knowling (Expositor’s Greek Testament vol. 2 ed. by W. Robertson Nicoll pages 231 -233) and by John Aberly (New Testament Commentary edited by H. C. Alleman page 414). In Acts 22:9 Paul is speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem. According to Acts 21:40 Paul addressed the crowd in Hebrew (NIV says Aramaic - exactly which dialect it was is not very relevant). He mentions to his Hebrew listeners that when Jesus called him, he called him in their own language - Hebrew. How do we know this? In both Acts 9:4 and in Acts 22:7 Saul is not spelled in its normal form, but is spelled in its Hebrew (or Aramaic) form Saoul. What does this tell us? It tells us that the “voice” spoke in Hebrew. Therefore, Acts 22:9 would he referring to the fact that the men who accompanied Paul did not understand what was said for they could not understand Hebrew! The text supports this very strongly, for Paul modifies his saying “they did not hear (understand) the voice” by adding the vital phrase, “of the one speaking to me (to lalountos moi).” The emphasis is on the speaking of the voice, which would indicate comprehension and understanding. Now, given the above scholar’s quotations, and the context of the passages, can anyone seriously deny that there is a perfectly plausible explanation for this supposed contradiction? I think not.
Finally, it must he stated that part and parcel of dealing with almost any ancient or even modern writing is the basic idea that the author gets the benefit of the doubt. It is highly unlikely that a writer will contradict himself within short spans of time or space. Luke was a careful historian, and it is sheer speculation that he would he so forgetful as to forget what he wrote in Acts 9 by the time he wrote Acts 22. Some critics of the Bible seem to forget the old axiom “innocent until proven guilty.” The person who will not allow for the harmonization of the text (as we did above) is in effect claiming omniscience of all the facts surrounding an event that took place nearly two millennia ago. Most careful scholars do not make such claims. The above presented explanation is perfectly reasonable, it coincides with the known facts, and does not engage in unwarranted “special pleading.” If a person wishes to continue to claim that Acts 9:7 contradicts Acts 22:9, there is little I or anyone else can do about that. But let that person realize that 1) his position cannot be proved; 2) he (or she) is operating on unproven assumptions (Luke was not intelligent enough to notice a contradiction in his own writing); and 3) there is a perfectly logical explanation, based on the original languages and contexts.
It is my prayer that this short look at some of the issues raised by anti-theists in their seemingly never ending quest to discredit the Bible as God’s Word has been helpful to you, the reader, no matter what your current position or belief. If you are a Christian, I hope you have been strengthened in your faith and encouraged to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). If you are an atheist, or a skeptic, I certainly don’t think that this short examination of a narrow spectrum of subjects is sufficient to cause you to change your thinking. Rather, my hope for you is that you will realize that there are answers to the questions posed by people such as McKinsey, and that you will take the time to honestly examine the claims of Christ and His Word.
Answering Common Questions and Objections Part 2 - Vintage
11/08/2012 - James White
8. How can Exodus 33:20 and John 1:18 (both stating that no one can see God) be reconciled with Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11 which say that men have seen God?
Answer to Question #8: Seeing God.
Using John 1:18 to demonstrate the Deity of Christ has been a long tradition in apologetics. There is indeed a contradiction here if one does not have a Tri-Une conception of God. Indeed, I have pointed this out more than once to representatives of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Deity of Christ, so they obviously do not believe that Jesus is Jehovah. I have often used John 1:18 in comparison with Isaiah 6:1 to demonstrate that the Bible shows that the Jehovah of the Old Testament who was seen by men was the Jesus of the New. This can be seen in the comparison of Isaiah 6 with John 12:39-41. Indeed, a proper understanding of John 1:18 would have cleared up the original problem, for here John is using the first term "God" to specifically refer to the Father, not the Son. He calls the Son the "only-begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father" and says that Jesus has "made Him (the Father) known." Jesus is the Word who has made the Father known. Therefore, the Bible is again correct - no one has seen God the Father at any time. But man has seen God the Son on numerous occasions in the Old Testament as well as in the New.
9. How can the resurrection be so important when others were raised before Jesus was?
Question #9: Jesus’ Resurrection
It is true that others were raised from the dead before Jesus was. This statement assumes that the Biblical statements concerning those resurrections are true, and therefore the question is really a theological one, and must be answered in that way.
There is no indication in the Bible that any of the others who were raised from the dead lived eternally. Instead, it is clear that they lived on and then died a natural death. Jesus did not die again - he lives eternally.
This makes His resurrection unique as it is a true resurrection to life eternal.
Secondly, Jesus was God in human flesh. None of the other people who were resurrected were Deity!
Third, Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied long before. He himself foretold it (none of the others foretold their deaths and resurrections). He also said that he had authority to take hack his life again (John 10:17-18). No other person claimed to have a part in raising himself (or herself)!
Finally, Jesus’ resurrection makes possible the resurrection of all who trust in him. We as believers have the promise of our own resurrection because of the resurrection of our Lord. My resurrection is not guaranteed because of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain or of Lazarus; but, as I am united with Christ, and he was raised, so shall I be.
Just these few points are sufficient to demonstrate to anyone willing to examine the information the uniqueness and importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
10. How can Jesus be our perfect savior when he made many false and deceptive statements?
Answer to Question #10: Jesus’ integrity
The question of going to the feast (John 7:8) revolves around a textual variant and is therefore hardly something that can be the proverbial "smoking gun." The reading "not yet going up to this feast” is supported impressively by P66 and P75 (two of the earliest known manuscripts of John) as well as by B (Vaticanus) and the majority of the tradition. This reading is also in harmony with the contextual mention of Jesus’ time not yet being fulfilled. Even if the reading “not going up to this feast" is accepted, a number of things mitigate against a charge of duplicity on Jesus part. First, the meaning of “going up” may refer to the public ascension in procession to Jerusalem with its attendant festivities, psalm singing, etc. Also, the situation in which Jesus was living (the death threats of the Jews should he go into Judah again) comes into play as well. Perhaps the statement of Jesus was nothing more than a non-announcement of his plans? Given the fact that his brothers were at this time antagonistic to Jesus’ claims and would undoubtedly reveal his arrival, prudence would be the better course in that situation.
Be that as it may, the other references hold no weight. What is deceptive about Jesus’ promise that the thief would be with him in paradise that day when it was true? The atheist must assume that Jesus was lying to prove that he was! Circular argumentation at its best. In an earlier issue of BE McKinsey expanded on his charge at this point. He states that since Jesus did not go to heaven until three days later, and paradise is heaven, then Jesus was lying. He then takes Dr. Gleason Archer to task for what he said concerning this in his book Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (pages 367-368) charging Dr. Archer with coming up with an explanation that "abounds in suppositions, conjectures and hypotheses...’ Actually, it is McKinsey’s attack that abounds with suppositions, none of which he can prove. First, why does he say paradise is in heaven? Is he aware of the Biblical teaching concerning sheol, the realm of the dead? Has he allowed Jesus’ story concerning the rich man and Lazarus to be a factor here? Why does he assume that paradise could not have been moved from sheol to heaven after the resurrection of Jesus? Why does he consistently (and here McKinsey is always consistent!) deny the Bible the ability to explain itself? Why does he apply rules to the Scriptures that he would never apply to anything else? His consistent underlying assumption is that the Bible is contradictory, and therefore any explanation that would deal with his "proof” can be nothing but "rationalization."
Matthew 5:22 is hardly an immoral statement. As above, McKinsey elaborates on what he means by pointing out that Jesus called the religious leaders “fools" thus supposedly contradicting himself. He lists Matthew 23:17, 19 and Luke 11:40 as his examples. Here again we see the “foolishness” of attacking Scripture in the way McKinsey does without knowing the languages of the Bible. In Matthew 5:22 Jesus uses the technical term "Raca" followed by the term “More” which means "fool." In Matthew 23:17 the term is moroi which is the normal term for “foolish persons." Whether verse 19 uses moroi is questionable on textual grounds. The term in Luke 11:40 is aphrones, meaning "one without understanding.” Therefore, we must look at two things - first, Matthew 23:17 is the only reference to Jesus calling someone a "fool” (the corrupt religious leaders) and second, what is the context of the original passage in Matthew 5:22? Jesus there uses Hebrew parallelism to connect the terms “raca” and "more." What does this mean?
It is clear that the context of the two statements is completely different. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus is speaking of the true intent of the law and how this relates to each individual. In 5:21 he points to the command against murder, and then in verse 22 goes beyond this to say that to harbor hatred in one’s heart against one’s brother is to start on the path to murder. Here the Lord shows us what we know ourselves - few murder without first hating, and Jesus warns us that obedience to the law is a matter of the heart preeminently. The outer actions are determined by the inner motives. What then of Matthew 23:17? Was Jesus harboring hatred in his heart for the Jewish leadership? Was he breaking his own rules, so to speak? No indeed! In the 23rd chapter of Matthew we have hard words spoken to equally hard men. The occasion more than justifies the terminology! Here we have the men who were supposedly the stewards of God’s law twisting that law to the opposite end. Jesus uses the term “fools" precisely in the context of true "foolishness." Jesus is not using it as a pejorative term as he proscribed in 5:22; rather, he is using it as an accurate description of the "foolishness" of the religious system they had built up. The Jews were saying that if someone swore by the gold in the temple that he was hound by the oath. Jesus rightly points out that the gold is made "special" by the temple, not vice versa. Their position on oaths was “foolish” and was accurately described by the Lord. In no way is Jesus’ usage of the term "fools” here the same as what was discussed in Matthew 5:22 if for not other reason than the fact that Matthew 5 relates to relationships between believers ("he who calls his brother") while Jesus is dealing with un-believers in Matthew 23 (the Jewish leadership).
In addition to the above, it might he noted briefly that God, the one described in the Bible as “seeing the hearts of men” is in the proper position to judge whether a man is a "fool” or not. It is precisely because we as humans are not able to see the attitudes of the heart that we are told not to call anyone fool, nor even to judge the intents of another’s heart in these matters.
What is meant by a "non-existent cross” is anyone’s guess, as everyone in Judea knew what Jesus meant by the term "cross." Crucifixion was a common mode of death at the time, and to “take up one’s cross” would be filled with meaning for anyone living in that culture.
Of all the people of the world, Jesus’ integrity is the last to be questioned. This is admitted by believer and infidel alike. His moral teachings and standards have been the basis of civilization and society ever since.
11. How can the Bible he the epitome of morality and virtue when it uses profanity such as that found in 2 Kings 18:27, Ezekiel 23:20-21 and Song of Solomon 5:4?
Answer to Question #11: Supposed Profanity in the Bible
We here encounter a question that is based on a common misconception - the Bible was not written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with some chapters in Aramaic) and the New Testament was written in Greek. Therefore, we must differentiate between translations of the Bible (such as the King James Version or the New International Version) and the Bible itself. The Bible does not use “profanity” as the above question says. The Bible does refer to such items as "urine” (2 Kings 18:27) and feces (note the context of these items - that of the stark reality of the siege of a city and the resulting starvation) as well as to the genitalia of animals and man as well (what Song of Solomon 5:4 has to do with anything is very unclear). But the frank way in which the Bible deals with these subjects is hardly grounds for impugning its high morality and virtue! Such is silliness! Because the law mentions specific sinful acts and says thou shalt not does that make the law any less holy? Certainly not! Such a question is based on an obviously irrational desire to put the Bible down and to judge it by standards that are completely capricious and without basis.
12. How can the various accounts of the Resurrection he reconciled?
Answer to Question #t2: The Resurrection Accounts
Though a full discussion of all the factors inherent in the discussion of the various accounts of the Resurrection would take quite some time and space, it would be good to deal with a few of the more common objections. Some of the objections are inane simply due to the fact that they will not allow for harmonization . This is a vital point - the Gospels are four different perspectives on the same events. They do not say the same thing about each and every story - one emphasizes one thing, one another. It is only logical to allow for this fact in our interpretation and study of the books. Now, if one of the Gospels says “Jesus did A at B time” and another says “Jesus did not do A at B time’ then we obviously have a contradiction. We cannot have “A” and "non-A” at the same time, obviously. However, one Gospel writer may say “Jesus met with A” and another may say “Jesus met with A along with B” without contradicting one another. The second writer is simply providing additional information that the first did not. This is by far the most common occurrence (i.e., Matthew 20:30/Mark 10:46; Mark 5:2/Matthew 8:28). Other objections are impossible to answer due to lack on information. For example, Mark 16:2 indicates that the women traveled to the tomb “after the sunrise.” John 20:1 says it was still dark. We don’t know whether the sun rose as the women arrived and that they started out in the pre-dawn darkness or just how that all worked - the text simply is not exact enough to make a decision about that. This, however, does not make the text “wrong” or "errant.” It just means the author did not give the information needed to answer the question. It is like faulting the Bible for not being able to answer the question, “what color were Jesus’ eyes?” We don’t know, neither does it matter.
Some point out that some gospels (Matthew and John) mention angels while others (Luke and Mark) mention men. This is not a contradiction, of course, but simply two ways of referring to the same beings. Angels normally appear in human form in the Old Testament, and seemingly did so here. In the same way it is wrong to limit the angels’ movements to an either/or situation - in some instances they are in the tomb speaking to the believers (Mark, Luke, John) while Matthew says the angel was outside. However, Matthew only mentions the angel being outside; he does not restrict the angel to the outside of the tomb nor does he say that the angel spoke to the women while still outside.
Another point need he made that will be vital to any Christian who is called on to face the attacks of anti -theists. Before you get defensive in a situation with an anti-theist, stop long enough to examine the claims he or she is making. Very often an anti-theist such as McKinsey will make statements that would require the maker of that statement to have all -knowledge of the surrounding events. They are in effect claiming omniscience! It is completely illogical to fault the Biblical record for not providing answers to every question that could be asked - no book ever written could do so. Simply because there are questions concerning the events that took place 2,000 years ago does not mean that we should doubt that those events took place. We don’t know what color of cloak Caesar wore the day he was murdered - should we therefore say that we don’t know that Caesar died because we can’t answer all the questions that might be asked about the events of that day? Shalt we say that a historian’s record is false simply because it is not exhaustive in what it says? No one would seriously suggest that this is true, yet this is exactly what Biblical critics have done and continue to do with the Bible. Now, before the anti-theist says “but you claim that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God so it must be open to more scrutiny than any other book” allow me to point out that in matters relating to that claim, the anti-theist is perfectly right - we must examine the Bible as closely as possible to support such a claim as we Christians make. However, this does not mean that we abandon logic and reason in some wild search for supposed errors.” When dealing with historical subjects we need to utilize our best historical knowledge and technique. We must do what we do with all other books of antiquity - we must give the book the “benefit of the doubt” for a very basic reason - we weren’t there! We don’t know all of the facts. The writer was a whole lot closer to the events than we are, so, unless there is some overriding reason to do so, the ancient writer is judged to be correct in what he or she has to say. We are optimistic to say that we have so much as 5% of the information needed for a “complete” picture of all the events taking place in Palestine in those days. Are we wise to contradict those who lived at that time from such a position that we find ourselves in? I think not. The New Testament provides us with a wealth of information - far more than we would need to make historical decisions. It does not, however, lend itself to the fancies of man. It does not describe “non-essentials." Faulting it for this is illogical.
13. How can women support the Bible in light of the demeaning status accorded them in 1 Corinthians 11:3, 9, Ephesians 5:22-24, and other appropriate verses?
Answer to Question #13: Women in the Bible
I have encountered this type of question on numerous occasions in radio debates. I recall that Ben Ackerly, the gay/atheist author of The X-Rated Bible brought this up as well, as did a representative of “Fundamentalists Anonymous.” I have little patience for such drivel, sorry to say. Anyone familiar with the cultural background would know - the revolutionary stance that Christianity took relative to women. I find it very offensive when people “pontificate” on matters when they have never taken the time to do the necessary background study to give them the authority to make such statements. Such is the case here. Women were nothing more than property in the ancient culture in which Christianity found itself. They were not “persons” of equal standing before God. The Gospel narratives make this very clear. Jesus treated women as women individuals who were created in God’s image and were of worth as people. He elevated them far above anything that was known at the time, or even today!
The modern critic, however, is zeroing in on the fact that the Bible, old fashioned book that it is, naively suggests that there is a difference between men and women, and that God designed that difference for a reason. Gracious! How backwards! How out-of-date! I do hope I can get my tongue out of my cheek, but this is the very objection that is being made. Since the Bible does not conform to modern, liberal standards of “unisex" and “liberated women" then it must be archaic! Hardly! My wife is happy to be a woman and I’m happy to be a man and I sure am glad my wife is a woman and she’s glad that I’m a man! God made us differently and we don’t try to play around with God’s design. He has a purpose for it, and his purpose in my opinion is very wise.
The New Testament presents women as co-heirs right along with the men in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. See if you can find that in any culture of the day! Interestingly enough. McKinsey’s citation of Ephesians 5 ends with only the woman’s duties to her husband, but does not include what is an amazing passage for a Jewish man like Paul to write: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Eph. 5:25, 29, 33). This is a “demeaning status"??? Hardly!
14. How can Jesus, who is allegedly God, talk to God the Father and yet only one God exist?
Answer to Question #14: The Trinity
Since we provide tapes and information on the subject of the Trinity and its basis in the Bible, I will not take too much time here to deal with this objection. However, for some reason, critics seem to enjoy taking “shots” at that which they know precious little about, and the Tri-Une nature of God seems to be a favorite target. Therefore a brief answer is in order.
The Bible is abundantly clear on the fact that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10 etc.). It is also beyond serious dispute that three persons are called by the one title of God in the New Testament - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now, some have denied the separate personhood of the Three, but the Bible will not allow for this. The Father is a Person, the Son another Person, and the Spirit the third Person. McKinsey calls this a “rationalization” which is OK since it is rational and it conforms to the Biblical evidence. Therefore we have one God presented to us in three Persons. This can be seen in a multitude of facts, one of which is that the Father is identified as Jehovah, the Son also is identified as Jehovah (Isaiah 6/John 12:41 is one example) and the Spirit is said to share in that same name as the Father and Son (Matthew 28:19). Now, given the fact that the Bible teaches an infinite God, there is no problem with three co-equal and co-eternal persons sharing the one Being that is God. The anti-theist may not be able to comprehend this, but that does not make it untrue. We cannot comprehend eternity, but that does not mean that eternity does not exist. I suggest the study of our tape "The Tri-Une Nature of God” as well as our material on the Deity of Christ (series title: “Son of God, Lord of Glory") and our information sheet “Is Jesus Yahweh?”
Thoughts on the US Election of 2012
11/07/2012 - James White
The video from 2008 that remains amazingly relevant:
Yesterday on the Dividing Line
11/07/2012 - James WhiteOn an election day version of the Dividing Line we pretty much avoided the topic and instead started listening to the debate between Mike Licona and Dale Martin on whether Jesus believed Himself to be divine. A fascinating insight into a "post-modern" mindset, Martin, himself a homosexual, likewise confesses to being a Trinitarian Christian, yet, he doesn't believe Jesus believed Himself to be divine! A study in contradiction. Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
Answering Common Questions and Objections Part 1 - Vintage
11/07/2012 - James White
1. Why are people today being punished for Adam’s sin? Why do women have to endure pain in childbirth because of Eve’s sin, especially in the light of Deuteronomy 24:16 and other references?
Answer to Question #1: Original sin.
Few doctrines come under more consistent and heavy fire than that of man’s sin. This is hardly to surprise us, as man does not like to be reminded of his sin, nor of his responsibilities before God. So we can see the basis for such a question about original sin.
First, we are not being “punished" for Adam’s sin. Instead, we are living with the consequences of Adam’s sin. There is a big difference between them. God does not punish someone else for Adam’s sin, and if someone thinks he does, that person is mistaken. First, we must remember that in the Eastern culture of the peoples of the Bible, we do not encounter the fierce individualism that marks the Western mindset. Rather, we see much more of a communal system. The individual is subserviated to the good of the whole. So, when Achan sinned (Joshua 7:20) he was punished by death and his whole family perished with him. They were not punished, but they experienced the results of Achan’s sin. They were not said to he guilty, but Achan, as the head of his house, was their representative, and what he did was considered to be their responsibility as well.
The same goes for Adam. As our representative, Adam fell, and (according to Paul in Romans 5) we fell with him. We are not punished for his one act - rather, we live in a world that is completely affected by that act. Now, the Christian message is that God, in his mercy, is willing to do the same again - this time with our representative as Jesus Christ. We can have the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ when we are united with him (Romans 5:12-19).
Therefore, it is inaccurate to say that we are punished in Adam’s place or for Adam’s sin. Of course, the anti-theist may reply, but that’s not fair! Why should I live in a messed-up world because of what someone else did?” That is true - it’s not fair. It is not fair that an innocent person dies when a drunk crosses the line and collides with the innocent person’s car. But it happens. It is also not fair that God would allow anyone salvation in Jesus Christ. Mercy is not fair. So, if we want only justice, we are in big trouble, for there is none righteous, no not one. I’m glad God shows mercy, fair or not!
2. How could two perfect beings, Adam and Eve, have sinned?
Answer to Question #2: Adam’s Fall
This is an extremely common question which is based on a purely false assumption. Indeed, the Christian must learn to recognize the false assumptions that underlie most of atheistic thinking, and be prepared to point those errors out. This question provides us with a classic example of this.
The flawed assumption inherent in this question is as follows: if a perfect being sins, then that being was not perfect to begin with. Or, in other words, Adam and Eve’s “perfection" also made it impossible for them to sin. The question is, where does the Bible say that? Where does the Bible say that Adam and Eve could not sin? Where does
it say that because God created them innocent that they did not have the ability to sin? On what basis can we say that if something created by God and proclaimed by him to he "good" sins, then it wasn’t perfect? As you can see, we have to assume that perfection = inability to sin, and therefore, the inability to choose! This means that the only beings God could create that were perfect are those who have no personal choice. But we are now seeing the foolishness of this line of reasoning. There is no basis for stating that perfection includes within it the inability to become imperfect. Besides all of this, where does the Bible use the term "perfect” of Adam and Eve in this context? It doesn’t. Always remember this kind of false logic when dealing with anti-theists - it will come up every single time!
3. Christians claim that in order to be saved you must accept Jesus as your savior. If so, then how are babies who die in infancy, the mentally infirm, those who lived before Jesus, and those who lived in the New World before missionaries arrived, saved, and how could God be just if he condemned people because of where or when they were born?
Answer to Question #3: The Pygmies in Africa
Few Christians have been able to avoid this type of question that basically objects to the specificity of salvation in Jesus Christ. The lost do not like Jesus’ claim to be the “way, the truth, and the life, and they constantly bring this question up. Two things - first, Christians need to do better in their understanding of God and sin to he able to deal with this, and second, we must again deal with a false assumption at this point as well.
The first and most basic thing that must be asserted is the holiness of God. God is holy, and he is sovereign, and has the perfect right to do with his creation as he sees fit. God does not sit before the judgment bar of man’s reason or man’s sense of what is right and wrong. Instead, our senses and reasoning must be attuned to his. I say this because many Christians are afraid to state what the Bible says so clearly: "The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth..." (Psalm 135:6).
The most basic error in thinking in this question is the idea that God somehow “owes" everyone an equal chance at salvation. This error is so common that many Christians have fallen into it. It is wrong to think that God owes us anything - salvation is a matter of grace, and grace is never “owed." God did not have to save anyone at all - he could have allowed us to go on our way, under his judgment and wrath. He did not have to devise the plan of salvation. He did because of his mercy, grace, and love. But we must remember that he did not have to provide salvation for anyone. Given this we can see the problem with the above question - it is based on the false assumption that God owes everyone salvation - he doesn’t. This brings up the question of those who have not heard the gospel. Can God possibly condemn someone who has never heard the Gospel? The Biblical answer is, yes, he can. God does not judge on the basis of whether one has or has not heard the Gospel - sin is the criterion, and all have sinned. We must remember that all are condemned regardless of the matter of having heard or not heard. Only God’s grace and mercy makes possible the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. How can we complain that God shows his mercy to some and not to all? This would be like faulting the governor of a state who extends a pardon to one man on death row. Would we be right to say, "he pardoned one, but he is unfair because he did not pardon the other 65 people who are condemned to die”? Of course not, since the governor was under no compulsion to pardon the one that he did. In the same way, God is under no compulsion to save anyone, so how can we get angry with him when he saves some and not all? Every man receives either justice or mercy - none receive injustice.
The question above also asked about infants and mentally incompetent individuals. The Bible does mention an “age of accountability as we call it, where a youth knows the difference between good and evil and is responsible for that decision (Isaiah 7:15- 16). Little is said other than this. Therefore, we have little to go on in discussing the condition of the infant or the mentally incompetent. Since they have made no conscious decisions against God, it is inconceivable that they undergo any kind of punishment. Rather, it is clear that they are ushered into the presence of the Lord. Huldreich Zwingli felt that all who died in infancy or who were mentally incompetent were of the elect of God, and I feel comfortable with that idea. Now, of course, anyone who asks you this question is neither an infant, nor mentally incompetent, nor someone who has never heard the Gospel, so they cannot hide from the clear implications of the Gospel in their lives.
In our radio debate, McKinsey pushed the idea that since Jesus said that no man comes to the Father but by him, and babies can’t accept Jesus, then they must to hell. I tried to point out to Mr. McKinsey that people are punished for sin; babies have committed no sin, therefore how could they be punished? At that point Mr. McKinsey said, “I don’t know where you got the idea that you had to be a sinner in order to go to hell - you go to hell not because of your acts - you go to hell because of whether or not you accept Jesus.” I tried to get him to see that Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 is in reference to all men because all have sinned, not in reference to those who died in infancy and never committed sin. Interestingly enough, this is what McKinsey would call an “extra-biblical” topic, and he claims to avoid such topics. The Bible nowhere says "Babies go to hell" - McKinsey is making up his own ideas as he goes along on this one. Since he has created a position that is not biblical, am I not just as safe to say the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for all infants and mental incompetents? I could say that if I wished (if someone simply would not allow for babies to be innocent - i.e., have a sin nature while not yet being guilty of individual sin).
McKinsey added something about escaping via Romans 1 and 2. His comments show that again he knows little of Biblical theology. Romans 1:18-20 definitely says that man is inexcusable before God. But McKinsey makes it sound as if the biblicist will say that ‘belief in God and inherently knowing the good’ is how we “escape” from this dilemma. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and no good apologist would make that statement.
4. How could Noah (Genesis 6:9) and Job (1:1) have been perfect if all have sinned (Romans 3:23)?
Answer to Question #4: Perfection and Sinlessness
Little time need he spent on this, as it is clearly answered by asking the question, “why do you equate perfection and sinlessness?” The Hebrew terms used in these passages do not mean sinlessness. Rather, the Hebrew word is tarn, which refers to completeness, not sinless perfection. When applied to man, it would refer to a complete man with moral integrity (see Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon for details). Also, we see that Noah offered sacrifices (Genesis 8:20) as did Job, for it was his “regular custom” (Job 1:5). Why would these men sacrifice if they did not know of their own sin?
5. How could Paul have said we are saved through faith in Jesus when Jesus himself repeatedly said good works are the pre-requisite?
Answer to Question #5: Grace and Works
Pauline theology most definitely teaches that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). Paul does emphasize good works for the Christian, but those works always follow - salvation and are the results of the indwelling Spirit - good works are never the pre-requisite of gaining salvation. The above question posits a contradiction between Paul and Jesus at this point. But does such a contradiction exist?
By no means!
When asked by the Jews “What must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’ (John 6:28-29). Note that the “work” Jesus mentions is belief - faith! Jesus never taught that a man could come to God by his works, nor that good works brought salvation. Instead, he taught that he was the way to God, and that salvation was by faith in his atoning sacrifice (John 3, etc). Therefore, the skeptic’s question is again seen to be based on a falsehood - the assumption that Jesus taught works-salvation. Now, certainly, if one wishes to sacrifice context, and if one assumes that Jesus was inconsistent with himself, then one could assert that Jesus taught works salvation. But if one takes Jesus’ words at face value, and examines the context and over-all meaning of his teaching, one will quickly see that Jesus, and his foremost disciple, Paul, were completely in agreement on this most vital subject. The burden of evidence, then, lies with the skeptic to prove that Jesus taught what he asserts above. It is clear, though, that such an assertion is false.
6. Ask someone if they believe. The answer is nearly always yes. Then ask if they would be willing to drink arsenic or handle deadly snakes since Mark 16:18 says, those who believe shall take up serpents and drink any deadly thing with impunity.
Answer to Question #6: Demonstrating how little one knows.
I saw an entire little “tract” built around this theme once - I cannot express in words the stupidity of such a question, and I sometimes wonder why I bother even dealing with it. But, it does crop up once in a while (rarely from an honest person) and therefore it should be addressed.
The first and most obvious thing is the simple fact that Mark 16:9-20 is not included in the best and most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, and it is not included in the actual text of most modern editions of the Bible. (For further information on this, write and request our information sheet entitled Mark 16:9-20: Scripture or Not?) But, I have learned that it is fruitless to expect anti-theists to be willing to study such subjects as textual criticism, so it does not bother them that they are using a passage that is not original in the Bible. What is worse, many of the believers they encounter are not aware of textual criticism either, and therefore such inane, senseless, and idiotic questions as the above tend to carry more weight with the uninformed Christians. Of course, such questions as the above completely discredit the questioner in the eyes of anyone who has done more than a cursory study of the Bible.
7. How can Numbers 23:19 and I Samuel 15:29 (both stating that God does not repent) be reconciled with Exodus 32:14 and I Samuel 15:35 (which say that he does)?
Answer to Question #7: Repentance and God.
This is again a rather common question. The answer lies, of course, in realizing that the context of the usage of any word must be examined before a “contradiction” can be alleged. We must also examine the meaning of the term itself, for words can be used in different contexts with different emphases. This is especially so in Hebrew which uses one word in one form for one meaning, and then turns around and uses the same word with a completely different meaning a little later on. This is not as common in Greek, but since we are dealing with the Old Testament here, that is irrelevant.
The Hebrew term nacham is used to express a range of meanings, from the idea of “relenting" or “repenting" to "grieving" and “being sorry.” It can mean a changing of the mind or simply a permissive action, all depending on the context of the passage. Now, atheists like to make fun of the fact that the Hebrews could use a word within one minute in two different ways, but this objection does not weigh much with those who have studied the subject. Indeed, if one would take the time and trouble to learn to read Hebrew writing, one would be better able to determine if the objection is right or wrong. And notice also the fact that in the last two sentences I used two sets of words with completely different meanings (ways/weigh; writing/right). I doubt anyone was confused by those words because the context was clear in each instance. We normally assume that a person who is relating a story does not desire to contradict himself - in other words, we give the writer the benefit of the doubt.
This can clearly be seen in the example given by the question itself: 1 Samuel 15:29 and I Samuel 15:35. Here the writer uses the term nacham in two different settings - first, in verse 29, in reference to God’s unchanging purposes and will - that of the fact that God would tear the kingdom from Saul. Only seven verses later the author writes, “And Jehovah was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.” The context is completely different. In the first we are told what God does not do - that is, change. In verse 35 we are told that God experiences sorrow over Saul and his state. Given the range of meaning of the word itself, and the fact that it is completely illogical to assume that the same author would contradict himself within seven short verses, the objector is left searching for some reason for his objection; unless, of course, we assume guilt a priori, something that no one does with any other book of antiquity. Why the Bible is treated differently is left unanswered. However, when one admits the possibility of harmonization and the idea that accounts can be complimentary, many objections fade away.
Dealing with Common Questions and Objections - Vintage
11/07/2012 - James White
Having finished the published debate itself, I will now turn to dealing with some of the common questions and tactics utilized by anti-theists when talking with Christians about the Bible. Notice first of all that I have used the term anti-theist. Many atheists like to say that they have no beliefs, hence they have nothing to defend. But, if atheists have no beliefs, how can they write books about atheism? How can they publish monthly periodicals attacking the Bible? Are they not by doing so asserting something even if that something is negative? Of course they are. So, when dealing with people such as Mr. McKinsey using the term anti-theist is perfectly accurate. It is clearly Mr. McKinsey’s goal to destroy any trust in the Bible and, by so doing, belief in God. Therefore, he is rightly called an anti-theist.
In the final installment of Mr. McKinsey’s response to my letters he suggested I deal with the issues raised in an earlier issue of BE. Since the fourteen questions listed by Mr. McKinsey are some of the most common raised by skeptics and atheists, I will take his advice and deal with these questions. I will begin by listing the questions, taking the liberty to edit them to be the most representative possible. I will then provide some possible answers for each.
1. Why are people today being punished for Adam’s sin? Why do women have to endure pain in childbirth because of Eve’s sin, especially in the light of Deuteronomy 24:16 and other references?
2. How could two perfect beings, Adam and Eve, have sinned? (Mr. McKinsey adds here, The usual reply that they had free will is of no substance. They can have all the free will desired, but if they chose to sin then they weren’t perfect.)
3. Christians claim that in order to he saved you must accept Jesus as your savior. If so, then how are babies who die in infancy, the mentally infirm, those who lived before Jesus, and those who lived in the New World before missionaries arrived, saved, and how could God be just if he condemned people because of where or when they were born? (McKinsey adds, “Don’t let them escape via Romans 1 and 2. Belief in God and good works does not save. Only belief in Jesus. If belief in God and inherently knowing the good is all that’s required, then many non-Christians are included).
4. How could Noah (Genesis 6:9) and Job (1:1) have been perfect if all have sinned (Romans 3:23)?
5. How could Paul have said we are saved through faith in Jesus when Jesus himself repeatedly said good works are the pre-requisite?
6. (I include this one only to show the insanity of some of these types of questions). Ask someone if they believe. The answer is nearly always yes. Then ask if they would be willing to drink arsenic or handle deadly snakes since Mark 16:18 says, those who believe shall take up serpents and drink any deadly thing with impunity.
7. How can Numbers 23:19 and / Samuel 15:29 (both stating that God does not repent) be reconciled with Exodus 32:14 and I Samuel 15:35 (which say that he does)?
8. How can Exodus 33:20 and John 1:18 (both stating that no one can see God) be reconciled with Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11 which say that men have seen God? (One might add numerous other references to seeing God, such as Isaiah 6:1).
9. How can the resurrection be so important when others were raised before Jesus was?
10. How can Jesus be our perfect savior when he made many false and deceptive statements such as John 7:8-10), Luke 23:43 (you will be with me in paradise today) Matthew 5:22 and Mark 8:34 (at this point McKinsey says “take up a nonexistent cross.” What he means by that is a mystery)?
11. How can the Bible be the epitome of morality and virtue when it uses profanity such as that found in 2 Kings 18:27, Ezekiel 23:20-21 and Song of Solomon 5:4?
12. How can the various accounts of the Resurrection be reconciled?
13. How can women support the Bible in light of the demeaning status accorded them in I Corinthians 11:3, 9, Ephesians 5:22-24, and other appropriate verses?
14. How can Jesus, who is allegedly God, talk to God the Father and yet only one God exist? (McKinsey adds “Don’t let biblicists escape with the rationalization that there is only one God but three persons.")
Obviously many others could be added to this list and we will address other questions at a later point. But, since Mr. McKinsey suggested dealing with them, and as they do pose a fairly representative sample of the kind of questions posed by hostile non-believers, they will do for our present purposes.
3rd Reply to James White from Mr. McKinsey - Vintage
11/06/2012 - James White
(The following is Mr. McKinsey’s lengthy response to the first section of the above letter as it appears in the April 1987 edition of BiblicalErrancy).
Dear JW. After several months of correspondence it’s rather obvious, but unfortunate, that you have a notable array of shortcomings including a failure to listen very well, a strong propensity to belabor points that have already been answered, a tendency to uncritically parrot pat answers learned in Bible class and/or seminary, a deceptive and dishonest inclination to build strawmen for appearances sake, a poor grasp of logical processes in key areas, an attraction to glittering generalities rather than evidence, and a lamentable lack of comprehension of the overall imbroglio in which you find yourself. You hear what you want to hear, what you have been told to internalize. Your letters exude a distinct aura of deja vu and reek with examples of each failing. Apparently, you still don’t understand the problem but I’ll go through it one more time as succinctly as possible. Hopefully the audience can endure the repetition. I’m tempted to say, just re-read our correspondence and you’ll see the error of your ways, but I don’t think you’d do that any more than you’d read all of our back issues as I suggested. First, I never said, much less insisted, there was a textual variation in the Hebrew at Isaiah 7:14 nor did I say there was a textual variant between Matt. 19:18 KJ (‘Thou shalt not murder”) and Rom. 13:9 KJ (“Thou shalt not kill”). You attributed a position to me and then proceeded to dismantle your strawman. I never said the dispute was over text rather than rendering nor did I say how the contradiction arose. All I said was that a contradiction existed. Specifically, I stated the following which you chose to ignore. “You said there was no difference between Matt. 19:18 and Rom. 13:9 because both came from ‘ou phoneuseis’ in Greek... The translators of the KJV say ‘murder’ is the proper word in Matt. 19:18. while ‘kill’ is the best term to use in Rom. 13:9. Are you saying they don’t know the difference, that they don’t know how to translate? Are you saying you know Greek and Hebrew better than those who assembled the KJV? They say there is a difference, while you say there isn’t....several of the newest versions agree with the King James....8 The dispute as to whether ‘almah' in Isaiah 7:14 means a ‘virgin’ or a ‘young woman’ has never been resolved, I could become one of the world’s greatest Hebrew/Greek scholars and still find many knowledgeable people who disagree with my interpretation. So who is right? Who knows Greek and Hebrew best? 9 Many of these men have devoted decades to these languages (far more years than the 24 you have lived--Ed.) (Issue #44, p. 4). Later on page 4 of Issue 46 I provided three reasons translators may disagree with your equating of Matt. 19:18 with Rom. 13:9: (a) you picked inaccurate manuscripts, (b) you chose accurate manuscripts with identical words having different meanings, or (c) the original text is so imprecise as to be susceptible to several interpretations. As I stated months ago, your disagreement is with your colleagues as much as me. If all the manuscripts say “ou phoneuseis” as you contend and the words have identical meanings as you allege, then you have only scaled two lesser hurdles to reach an even higher barrier, namely, what does the Greek mean. If scholars can’t agree on how to translate the manuscripts, even though there are no textual differences, then what the text says is of no consequence. Locating the problem’s source is of less importance to this publication than noting the fact that it exists. If recognized experts give contradictory interpretations of the same words, then we have a problem equal in magnitude to that of contradictions between manuscripts. That’s the hurdle you either refuse to recognize or can’t surmount. If you think you have the solution then tell us what Matt. 19:18, Rom 13:9, and Isa. 7:14 say in English. 10 Whatever response you give will prove you view yourself as more knowledgeable in Greek and Hebrew than recognized experts in the field. If so, I again recommend that you write your own version of the Bible as did Wycliffe, Tyndale. Know, Lamsa, Moffatt, and Fenton. If you’re as capable as you seem to believe, then follow their lead and by all means send me a copy. You don’t seem to realize that translating or rendering is as serious a problem as disagreements among manuscripts. Contradictions in one instance are as fatal as in the other. What difference would it make if there were no contradictions among the manuscripts if authorities still couldn’t agree on what they said; the practical result would be the same.
You erroneously created a strawman when you said I accused you of picking “inaccurate manuscripts among the thousands available.” In point (b) above I repeated my original charge that your fellow apologists many (sic?) so contend. You also erred with another strawman when you said I “postulated a difference in meaning between the two instances of the same word,” i.e. “ou phoneuseis.” I postulated nothing of the sort.11 I originally said in point (c) above that your critics or fellow apologists may see a difference in meaning between two instances of the same word. On page 4 of Issue 46 1 noted that the word "pound” could have many different meanings. Your problem is with your colleagues while BE is primarily concerned with the bottom line, the contradiction that’s present. Whether its among manuscripts or interpretations of those manuscripts is of secondary importance. The result is the same. People don’t know what to believe. Even if the Greek/Hebrew manuscripts were in unison throughout, which is by no means true, the Bible would still be of no value in many areas because of contradictions within and between versions. 12
Second, with reference to these same verses, I stated that the problems problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude you, JW” (sic) and you responded by sending me two of your papers on textual criticism. How two textually critical papers on topics A and B, assuming they are valid throughout, proves your analysis with respect to topic C is correct, eludes me, JW.13 Using that kind of logic I might as well not grade Johnny’s paper because he got 100’s on the last two. Isn’t that known as a non sequitor?
Logic is also sadly deficient when you challenge me "to dispute the findings of such scholars as Bruce Metzger, Kurt Aland...." You mean I’m supposed to research their data? That’s your responsibility, not mine. Since the burden of proof lies on he who alleges, you, not I, are obligated to provide the findings. Imagine a defense attorney in court doing nothing more than saying, "I have three witnesses corroborating my client’s testimony. Prove them wrong." What do you think the judge would say? I seriously doubt he would instruct the prosecutor to research their data to see if it’s true. 14
Third, and in close conjunction with what has gone before, is your attraction to glittering generalities and summations to the jury without evidence. 15 You said I "did not at all deal with the facts... relevant to our main discussion” which is wholly inaccurate. I not only dealt with them but did so in some detail. The problem is that you didn’t like what you heard and chose to ignore that which did not fit your preconceptions of biblical criticism. 16 I again recommend that you re-read our dialogue, especially my responses in Issues 44, 46, and 47. You made a blanket indictment of some comments I made on page 4 of Issue 46 without providing evidence to the contrary. Specifically you denounced my disbelief that the original writings ever existed, my belief that textual criticism involves educated guesses, and my assertion that apologists can’t prove with certainty that most contradictions are the result of copyist errors. 17 Yet, you provided nothing than another demeaning generalization with respect to my knowledge of the field. It’s not that I “demonstrate a lamentable lack of knowledge of the field” hut that you demonstrate not only a lamentable lack of evidence for your sweeping generalizations and those of the people you quote with a mindset indicative of those who have been told what to accept as valid criticism and reply. Your repetition of the common apologetic defense that variations in the text provide “the means of its own correction” is not only notably unsubstantiated by concrete examples but exposed by my “homicide detective” analogy. Following your logic, one could more accurately recreate the “original manuscripts" as the number of contradictions and inconsistencies between and within manuscripts increased. I’ve never seen a solid example of this apologetic ploy which receives a lot of play but no proof. It’s comparable to saying that “the more chaotic things become the clearer they are.” 18
Incidentally, you built another strawman by intentionally giving a misleading impression of what I said regarding the original writings. I did not flatly state they never existed. I said there is little reason to believe they did. As in an earlier discussion of Jesus, which you apparently refuse to read, I never said he didn’t exist; I said there is practically no extrabiblical evidence that he did.
In essence, then, if you want to contend there is no contradiction in the Greek manuscripts between Matt. 19:18 and Rom. 13:9 while admitting these verses should be stricken from the Bible because reliable, non-contradictory interpretations don’t exist, I have no objection in this instance or others we could discuss. The result is the same. The verses mean nothing because nobody definitely knows what they are saying; only contradictory translations exist.
Again, if you’re sure you know their correct meaning, then, by all means, translate them into English.
I look favorably upon this discussion in general and the kill/murder example in particular because they strike at the heart of the Greek/Hebrew escapist defense and the basic fallacy contained therein. The principle underlying this discussion is also applicable to other verses of crucial importance.
In concluding, several additional observations are in order. First, you’re not really interested in objective scholarship and a comprehensive discussion of the Bible, JW, as much as forcing me to say uncle on one point. This accounts for your narrow focus and intense concentration. Your limited range of concern and failure to confront the substantive issues I’ve posed in prior issues only confirms my belief that you’re insecure in other areas and, like VT in earlier issues, are desperately trying to put me on the defensive. VT became almost obsessed with his “Sabbath Days Journey” problem to the exclusion of all else. If I followed that tactic, many an apologist could be nailed to the wall while many readers would become thoroughly bored with the repetition. One might have some respect for your scholarship if you discussed a far wider range of issues as do more capable apologists such as Gleason Archer, Josh McDowell, and Norman Geisler. They exhibit more intellectual honesty by facing a much broader spectrum. 19 On page 5 of November’s issue (#47) 1 said “I’d especially like for you to address more substantive problems such as most of those posed on pages 2 and 3 of Issue #34.” So far, your silence has been deafening. Literally hundreds of statements with respect to the Bible’s validity have been made throughout the history of this publication and the fact that your criticisms have been so narrow in scope is practically an endorsement of the 98% outside of your purview. Second, having read several issues of Alpha and Omega’s publication and witnessed the dearth of meaningful material contained therein, I’d say you’d do well to look homeward before complaining about other periodicals being intellectually wanting. 20
And finally, please don’t send critical letters while asking that they not be published. We prefer open debate so all can judge for themselves. Moreover, insufficient time is available for protracted off-camera discussions with single individuals. 21
End of Debate
[Note: On July 18th, 1987 Mr. McKinsey appeared on The Dividing Line, the radio ministry of Alpha and Omega Ministries. I brought up the main issue that we debated above - that of the supposed contradiction between Jesus and Paul. Mr. McKinsey was completely unable to defend his original charge at all - he had rather to go to a discussion of translations just as he did above. He masterfully avoided answering my question when I asked him if he was aware of the fact that Jesus and Paul had said the same thing before I had written to him. I do not believe that he did, but he would not answer that question when put to him. The best Mr. McKinsey could do was to challenge me to write my own translation and send it to him for his review, Since he admitted on the air that he could not read Greek or Hebrew. I’m not sure how he could evaluate such a project anyway. Should you wish to hear the discussion. write and ask for the tape from Alpha and Omega Ministries.]
8. What Mr. McKinsey seems ignorant of here is the fact that translations are not done by one big group sitting around discussing these things. Rather, translations are done by groups - one group might do the Gospels, another the Pauline epistles. etc. Therefore. it is impossible to say that the KJV translators specifically meant to differentiate between these two passages. Further, McKinsey will on numerous occasions accuse me of being in disagreement with scholars who are far better trained than I. He accuses me of putting myself up as some sort of expert. Problem is. McKinsey never sites so much as one “expert" who disagrees with me. Not once!
9. It absolutely must be pointed our here exactly what Mr. McKinsey is doing. Aside from the fact that everything Mr. McKinsey is here bringing up has already been answered in previous letters. I must point out that Mr. McKinsey is here abandoning his original charge and coming up with another one, and then faulting me for not addressing an issue that I never intended to address in the first place. If the reader will look back at the original quotations from Biblical Errancy, one will discover that what Mr. McKinsey first said was as follows: "Jesus and Paul can't seem to agree on the wording of the 6th Commandment regarding killing." Now that it has been shown conclusively that Jesus and Paul did agree on the wording of the commandment (as McKinsey admitted above). He is forced to change his original charge - now he is dealing with what he sees as “problems in translation.” What does that have to do with his original charge? Nothing, absolutely nothing. What people 2,000 years later would do in translating ou phoneuseis into a language that didn't even exist yet was probably of little concern to Paul or to Jesus. Jesus and Paul were in perfect agreement as to what the 6th Commandment said - McKinsey is shown to be wrong, but is just as obviously unwilling to admit it. When I began corresponding with him, it was my intention to deal only with the issues and not with a lot of side issues. McKinsey will criticize me for so doing, mainly to direct attention away from the fact that it is he who has avoided the real issue.
10. Can you imagine someone faulting Shakespeare for writing something in English that is difficult to translate into German? Can you imagine saying that the difficulty in translation from English to German is as serious as not knowing what it says in English? That is exactly what McKinsey is saying here.
11. I will leave it to the individual reader to decide whether Mr. McKinsey is correct in charging me with the creation of 'strawmen’ as he puts it. The implications of Mr. McKinsey’s words in his last response were very clear.
12. Therefore, anything not written in English is useless, for there will always be so-called "translational difficulties" present! Good logic!
13. Again Mr. McKinsey misses the whole point (or rather, changes the point of discussion in the middle of the river) - he had stated that the "problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude” me, and I simply provided him with evidence that he was wrong. I am, very familiar with the process of textual criticism and have taught informal seminars on that subject. The papers sent to him simply proved that he was wrong in saying that I was unfamiliar with the area of textual criticism.
14. The problem is, it was Mr. McKinsey who was attacking the Bible and the subject of textual criticism. It was he who was making completely unfounded and untrue allegations, and it was he who was showing an abysmal ignorance of the entire subject of textual criticism. Therefore, since it was he who was alleging, it is he who must provide the data. The simple fact is Mr. McKinsey is completely unable to deal with the facts as presented by the above mentioned scholars.
15. I must admit guilt at this point. I did attempt to be as brief as possible, and I also assumed that my opponent in the debate would be aware of the scholarly material on the subject. In respect to the latter point, I was obviously wrong - Mr. McKinsey proved himself to be very unfamiliar with the scholarly arena of discussion. Relevant to the former point, I made the mistake of trying to keep my responses brief due to the fact that BE is only six type-written pages long. I could have sent McKinsey pages and pages and pages of documentation and writing - but very little of it would have been printed. So, I stayed on the issue and tried to summarize the argument as much as possible. Mr. McKinsey will spend quite some time criticizing me for this.
16. It is amusing to note that this statement is a fantastic attempt of a “glittering generality” and a "summation” without any evidence. Mr. McKinsey does not know what I am thinking, nor why I react in certain ways, so he has no basis upon which to say this.
17. Actually. Mr. McKinsey did not mention anything about contradictions relevant to “copyist errors” - if you wilt reference his original comment, he was talking about textual variants, not contradictions. There is a world of difference there.
18. Here again Mr. McKinsey shows absolutely no familiarity with textual criticism. The use of ”famities" of manuscripts that contain similar variants (Alexandrian, Western, Byzantine, etc.) in textual criticism is very common amongst all who have taken the time to study it. Mr. McKinsey seemingly has not taken that time.
19. Here Mr. McKinsey is forced to throw in the proverbial “red herring’ to get the attention off of the fact that he is avoiding the issue even to the point of deleting half of my letter. I believe the reason for the deletion of that section of the letter is clear - he could not answer the clear errors he had made. Now he attacks me for not having dealt with three years worth of his publications. And just how was I supposed to do that? If Mr. McKinsey would provide me with half of his publication each month, I would gladly deal with the various points he has brought up in the past. As it is, I have been unable to see any other single person get more space in BE than I did in our debate, Mr. McKinsey, of course, would not be aware of the fact that I have dealt with the vast majority of his attacks on the Bible in the past as they we're brought up by members of various pseudo-Christian cult groups that I have been involved in evangelizing. But the point again is this - I wrote to Mr. McKinsey on three specific points. Why should I be faulted for following that topic to its conclusion? Is it my fault that Mr. McKinsey made as many substantive errors as he did in his replies?
20. I could fault Mr. McKinsey for not having dealt with the many issues brought up in our publication of The Dividing Line to which McKinsey here alludes - but I won’t. That would be using his logic.
21. Mr. McKinsey is here referring to the letters I had written to him asking if he was going to ever print this final letter, I also mentioned in one letter one other issue relevant to the "King James Only” controversy, to which he must be referring here.
3rd Letter to Mr. McKinsey from Dr. James White - Vintage
11/06/2012 - James White
Quickly, in reference to your material on immortality and eternal life, I would like to simply point out that you again made two very basic, factual errors. You referenced Mark 9:17 and John 10:20, indicating that my explanation of the usage of echon was in error due to the use of echon in these two passages. Unfortunately, echon is not used in either passage, as anyone familiar with the language could see. Echon at 1 Timothy 6:16 is in the present participle active nominative singular masculine form; the word at Mark 9:17 is echonta, the present participle active accusative singular masculine form (a completely different case), and the word at John 10:20 is not even a participle - it is a finite verb, echei. Hence, you completely misidentified the two examples you listed, while continuing to ignore the factual presentation I made concerning the syntax of the participle at 1 Tim. 6:16.
Finally, you wrote, “You also dwell on ad hominem comments to such an extent that if it continues you could notice a change in the tenor of my responses.” Seemingly, you have arbitrarily decided that when I point out errors on your part in regards to subjects that you are ignorant of (there is nothing wrong with being ignorant of something as long as you don’t try to act like you know what you are talking about) I am being “patronizing” and utilizing "ad hominem” argumentation. When you question my information and make ad hominem comments about me, you are simply debating. I have pointed out on a factual level that you made errors in the topics under discussion - if you can only respond by charging me with patronization and ad hominem argumentation while threatening me with a “change in the tenor” of your responses, I hardly see that further discussion is advisable. If you will admit your factual errors, and come up with facts and documentation of your own to support your charges, maybe we could continue this debate in the way debates are supposed to run. Till you are able to deal with this subject on a scholarly level, I thank you for your time and the opportunity of discussing this issue.
7. I did not go into depth in dealing with all the facts that demonstrate Mr. McKinsey’s errors at this point See footnote #1 for suggested sources for scholarly information on this subject. BE is only six pages long, and I could have filled all six pages with documentation on any one of the areas I here listed. Of course, Mr. McKinsey, in his response, will criticize my brevity, but as he knew, I could not send him a letter that was excessively long. Any person who bothers to read even an introductory text on the subject of textual criticism will he able to see Mr. McKinsey’s errors.
Mark Shea Defends Mariolatry Regardless of the Facts
11/05/2012 - James Swan
Posted by Mark Shea on Friday, Nov 2, 2012 5:18 PM (EST):
Luther, by the way, believed in the Immaculate Conception.
"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin" - Martin Luther's Sermon "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527.
"She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. - Martin Luther's Little Prayer Book, 1522.
Instead of ignorantly and reflexively regurgitating whatever an American Evangelical might say after 20 minutes of glancing at the New Testament, consider the possibility that the Church doesn't just make stuff up and actually has real grounds for considering this to be apostolic teaching.
Sorry Mark, the first quote has been debunked for quite a few years now. I originally took this bit of Luther propaganda apart in 2003. You can read a detailed explanation here. You can read about the second quote here.
And while we're on the topic of Luther's Mariology, back in 2007 you put out this blunder about Luther's tomb supporting Luther's belief in Mary's assumption. I suggest sticking to defending your Romanism rather than exegeting Luther. That is, "instead of ignorantly and reflexively regurgitating" pop-apologetic Romanist propaganda about Luther posted on the Internet, why not do a little homework first?
Inerrancy and the Gospels
11/05/2012 - Jeff DownsObviously (typing with tongue-in-cheek), with the recent republication of the exchanges between James and Mr. McKinsey on this blog, professor Vern Poythress, of Westminster Theological Seminary has made his brand new book Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible available free of charge. Grab the PDF by clicking here.
You can also purchase a hard copy of this book by clicking here
Serious Bible readers all recognize that there are differences between accounts of the same events in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and no responsible reader can simply sweep these differences under the rug. But can all of the accounts still be reconciled with a belief in biblical inerrancy?
Responding to the questions surrounding the gospel narratives, New Testament scholar Vern Poythress contributes a worthy case for inerrancy in the gospels and helps readers understand basic principles for harmonization. He also tackles some of the most complicated exegetical problems, showing the way forward on passages that have perplexed many, such as the centurion's servant, the cursing of the fig tree, and more.
All those interested in the authority of Scripture will find in this volume great encouragement and insight as Poythress has provided an arresting case to stem the tide of skepticism.
(HT - Domain for Truth)
2nd Reply to James White from Mr. McKinsey - Vintage
11/05/2012 - James White
Mr. McKinsey's response to the above letter as contained in the October and November issues of "Biblical Errancy."
Dear JW. So many of your comments warrant analysis that one hardly knows where to begin. (1) You state that there is no reason to suppose that Jesus' original command to his disciples was meant to be eternal. But what else could have been intended when he said "I am not sent but unto?" If you're going to employ this line of defense you're going to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Literally thousands of biblical statements will be brought into question. One could ignore any biblical maxim by simply saying it only applied to the individuals directly involved and the period in which it was uttered. If the absolutist nature of many biblical teachings is jettisoned, the structure will begin to disintegrate. One could argue, for example, that the "Thou's" in the Ten Commandments only apply to the persons being directly addressed. Secondly, what evidence do you have that it was not eternal? I see no such qualifier in the text. You talk about a "supposition"; yet, you are supposing something less than eternity when nothing in the text justifies your belief. Thirdly, even if the statement were meant to be valid only for a short period, you have only shown that Jesus changed his mind and strategy. The perfect, omniscient being altered his course! This could he seen as more damaging than a contradiction. Fourth, you said "Jesus could direct His ministry in the best way possible." Yet, one can't help but ask, "What's best about it?" The supposedly prescient, perfect being changed tactics and abandoned a crucial teaching. (2) Your comment that Mal. 3:6 was misapplied and taken out of context has no merit not only because biblicists constantly quote the verse in any context deemed suitable but because it is appropriate. Jesus is God and God does not change his basic nature, which includes consistency. For Jesus to change a basic teaching, especially because it was rejected by those to whom it was directed, would not only be inconsistent but expedient. (3) You accuse me of contending that Jesus changed his mind because of his death and resurrection when that was your position. Remember saying, "Your final statement read, 'Jesus told his followers to go only to the Jews'..." This ignores the fact that Jesus' statements were made before his death, burial and resurrection. After that event Jesus said...teach all nations (Issue #44, p. 3). (4) You accuse me of applying unrealistic standards to Jesus when all I'm requesting is consistency. Is that too much to ask of a perfect being? (5) What do you mean by saying, "the gospel was opened up...?" You mean Jesus only came to save the Jews and only turned to the gentiles because the Jews rejected him? You mean we can all be saved only because the Jews eschewed him. (sic) How does it feel to be a consolation prize, separate from God's first choice, especially when this flies in the face of Acts 10:34 and Rom. 2:11 which say God is impartial? (6) Finally, it isn't a question of whether I think this is a contradiction; I know it is. Jesus originally said I am notsenthutunto and later sent his followers to all nations. The "most" whom you contend would not feel this is a contradiction are biblicists and that's to be expected.
Again, JW, your comments are misleading. To begin with, you speak as if you had the autographs (the original writings) in your lap when, in truth, you and your compatriots have never seen them nor have any other living human beings. Apologists concede that they do not exist and I see little reason to believe they ever did. "The autographs are not extant so they must be reconstructed from early manuscripts and versions" (A General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix, p. 237). All scholars have are thousands of manuscripts, codices, lectionaries and other writings purported to be accurate representations of the non-existent originals. How, then, do we know for certain what the originals said? We don't! Scholars only make educated guesses based upon the best evidence available after analyzing and comparing those writings that are available. They boast about the large number of existing NT manuscripts as if this confirmed the reliability of today's NT. "There are now more than 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the NT. Add over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions and we have more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the NT in existence today. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers and attestation" (Evidence that Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell, p. 39). "There are no known original manuscripts of the Bible; in fact, none are needed because of the abundance of manuscript copies" (Ibid. Geisler and Nix, p. 267). Yet, they also admit there are over 200,000 disagreements among these writings on what verses should say and what verses should he included. "The multiplicity of manuscripts produces a corresponding number of variant readings, for the more manuscripts that are copied the greater will be the number of copyists' errors.... The gross number of variants increases with every new' manuscript discovery.... To date there are over 200,000 known variants and this figure will do doubt increase in the future as more manuscripts are discovered' (Ibid. Geisler and Nix, p. 360-361). Notice that Geisler and Nix try to diminish the importance of this figure by attributing the variants to just copyist errors which they have no way of proving. They also minimize the problem by contending that some errors are merely repetitious and few have any real bearing on important Christian doctrine which is utterly false. Because of wide variances among manuscripts scholars can't agree on whether the last 12 verses of Mark (which involve some very important tests for belief) should even be in the Bible. They can't agree on whether Isa. 7:14 says virgin or a young woman, which has a direct bearing on the only OT prophecy of a virgin birth. They can't agree on whether the word "yet" should be in John 7:8, which is crucial to Jesus' honesty. One need only read critiques of the latest versions of the Bible written by the King James advocates to see that many disagreements over wording involve important beliefs. Apologists even go so far as to imply that the greater the number of variants the greater the precision. "At first, the great multitude of variants would seem to be a liability to the integrity of the Bible text. But, just the contrary is true, for the larger number of variants supplies at the same time the means of checking on those variants. As strange as it may appear, the corruption of the text provides the means for its own correction (Ibid. Geisler and Nix, p. 366). "Strange is hardly the word; absurd" is much better. Imagine a homicide detective saying his knowledge of what occurred grows as the number of conflicting testimonies increases. Twenty- four thousand manuscripts would provide a tremendous support if they agreed, but when they don't, when over 200,000 disagreements exist, precisely the opposite occurs.1 Secondly, as a result of speaking as if you have the autographs and ignoring manuscript variances, you erroneously conclude that your source is the final authority. You said that if I "have problems with Matt. 19:18/Rom. 13:9" I should bring it up with the translators, not with the Bible. But it is not I but you who should consult with the translators. You said, "both Jesus and Paul said exactly the same thing -- "ou phoneuseis" -- yet translators used different words- - murder and kill -- which you erroneously called synonyms. You mean soldiers in battle and those shooting in self-defense or to protect loved ones are murderers? The translators with whom you disagree might have any one of several reasons for rejecting your interpretation and using "murder" in one instance and "kill" in another. The following are only a few available: (a) You (sic) picked inaccurate manuscripts among the thousands available. Some translators might have good reasons for using manuscripts with something other than "ou phoneuseis." For example, 100 manuscripts may have "ou phoneuseis" and 50 something else yet the 50 are preferable because they are far older and closer to the source. (b) "You chose accurate manuscripts but don't realize that identical words can have different meanings." "Pound," for example, can refer to an enclosure for animals, English money, or hitting something, rather than weight, and "hand" can refer to a sailor, part of a clock, a unit of measurement or a game of cards rather than the end of an arm. One "ou phoneuseis" might mean something quite different from another and if you would consult with the translators they might show you why one was translated "murder" and the other "kill." A contradiction could exist even though the words are identical.2 Identical words need not have the same meaning. Context is a major factor. (c) If you manage to surmount these two obstacles as well as others, an even larger one could be looming on the horizon- -the imprecision of the Greek language. If "ou phoneuseis" can mean both "kill" and "murder" as your Greek- English lexicon of the NT says, then the verse means nothing and might just as well be stricken from the Bible. Unless definite guidelines exist by which to determine which is appropriate, and that's highly unlikely in light of the disagreements among the experts, the words can't be translated reliably. How do you know which to use in the English translation - - kill or murder? The distinction is crucial. If they were synonymous in English there would be no problem. But they are not. The problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude you, JW. The large number of disagreements among the major versions on the market today are something biblicists would just as soon avoid for obvious reasons. If people realize experts are at loggerheads over many key points then what is the layman to believe. (sic) Dissension erodes people's faith in the Bible to such an extent that biblicists would rather have you believe in any version than nothing at all.
Your comment with respect to the Jehovah's Witnesses New' World Translation exposes a distinct bias. BE quotes the most prominent versions available regardless of the source. We also quoted the Living Bible and for you to include it among the "truly scholarly editions" borders on the absurd. The NWT, with all its imperfections. is considerably more scholarly than the pathetic paraphrase known as the Living Bible.
You speak of ignorance, JW, when the tapes and literature I received from your organization continually try to make distinctions without differences in order to escape imbroglios. You assert that athanasia applies to Christ while zoen aionion applies to believers. Where does the Bible make such a distinction? First Cor. 15:53-54 says. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immorality (from athanasia -- Ed.)...and this mortal shall have put on immortality,..." As you see athanasia could apply to any believer and need not to be restricted to Jesus. Moreover, several verses show zoen aionion could apply to Jesus and need not be restricted to believers: "God hath given us eternal life (zoen aionion), and this life is in the Son" (1 John 5:11), "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath eternal life" (John 6:54), "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it...and shew unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (John 1:2) [note: McKinsey's citation is in error, it is 1 John 1:2] and 1 John 5:20. If eternal life is in the Son, if eternal life enters one by eating the Son, if Jesus can he called that eternal life which was with the Father, then it's safe to conclude "zoen aionion" can apply to Jesus as well as believers. You said, "Just because you don't understand the difference does not mean it doesn't exist," when the truth is that just because you created one doesn't mean it does. Your interpretation of "echon" (hath) in 1 Tim. 6:16 ("Who only hath immortality) is even more tenuous. On page 4 in the August issue you originally asserted that, "the word translating 'hath' in the KJV of I Tim. 6:16 is a participle in the original, echon, The (sic) continuous action, without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of the passage." Although you are yet to make your point very clear, I assume you meant then, and are repeating now, that echon means Jesus had immortality throughout eternity while others merely obtained it at a point in time. Following your logic, echon (hath) at Mark 9:17 ("my son, which hath a dumb spirit") means his son had a dumb spirit throughout eternity and echon in John 10:20 ("He hath a devil and is mad") means he has been mad throughout eternity. These are only a couple of the many examples available. The question is not when immortality or eternal life is obtained but who has it. First Tim. 6:16 said only Jesus has it. Nearly every major version translates the verb in 1 Tim. 6:16 as "has," "possesses," or "is," and none even imply that the verb requires eternity. If it did then their translators aren't very proficient because that's a major distinction . .judging from the verbs they employed those on translation committees apparently don't see your capricious distinctions either. You need to either get with your apologetic colleagues on these committees and create a consensus version or devise a version of your own. Should you decide on the latter, send me a copy and I'll be glad to critique it.
You have several lamentable habits, JW, including inadequately explaining or proving your position, generating arbitrary distinctions to escape dilemmas, rationalizing the obvious, and patronizing your opponent. You also dwell on ad hominem comments to such an extent that if it continues you could notice a change in the tenor of my responses.
Again, JW, you continue to summarize to the jury before the facts are heard and make misleading or inaccurate statements. (1) You allege BE shows much less research than does material from groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses. Are you comparing newsletter to newsletter or newsletter to books? Have you compared their newsletters to BE, i.e., 6 pages to 6 pages? Have you compared their material to all of my notes, including 3 large loose-leaf binders? (2) Your comment that I obviously borrowed freely from the Jehovah's Witnesses is totally erroneous. I've never needed their literature to notice the same problems with orthodox biblicism. (3) If you wish to reject 1 Peter 1:2, Matt. 28:19 etc. as proofs for the Trinity, I certainly have no objections. Since these are among the few that directly link the three parts of the Godhead and have been interpreted as evidence for trinitarian beliefs, I support your efforts wholeheartedly. A few more comments like that, JW, and perhaps you might want to consider joining us.3 (4) You accuse me of "deliberately deleting" factors and predict that I will "not allow a logical, contextual, and linguistic interpretation of Scriptures." Apparently you consider yourself a long.distance mind-reader and a forecaster of the future as well. (6) You implied I did not address a trinitarian question with respect to the gender of the word "one" in "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) because I had no answer. The real reason was that the question is of little import since the gender of "one" is of less importance than the number. Incidentally, I listened to your trinitarian seminar tape-recording and found little more than typical Christian metaphysics in which rationalization and obfuscation are sold as erudition and perception. However, I do appreciate the fact that you sent your materials.
First, as far as your comment that "I had not demonstrated a single contradiction" is concerned, JW, that's merely an opinion and we all make mistakes. In your current frame of mind I don't think you would admit the Bible has contradictions if Jesus and Paul supported me. Secondly, I've never claimed to be a Greek and Hebrew scholar nor could you. As in-depth knowledge of these languages is not necessary as apologist W. Arndt explained quite well, "With the various revised versions at hand, with an analytical concordance, with reliable commentaries, and with the help of dictionaries of the Bible language, the reader need not know Greek or Hebrew to verify the original meaning of a given passage. He has in his mother tongue the means whereby he may determine the correctness of most of the obscure translations" (BibleDifficulties, page 20). Thirdly, as I've said before, JW, Greek and Hebrew scholars are by no means agreed on what texts say, what they mean, or how they should be translated. You seem to think that by throwing your chips into the Greek/Hebrew basket you are going to emerge with a body of beliefs, teachings, and words resting on granite after emerging from God's mouth. You have succumbed to one of the cornerstones of Christian mythology. Fourthly, your assertion that "classical Hebrew and koine Greek are not changing and evolving" is almost beneath comment. There is nothing so permanent as change and nowhere is this more evident than in languages. No language is fixed in time and above evolution. The classical Hebrew and koine Greek of 100 B.C. were different from those of 100 AD. and both were different from those of 200 A.D. So the question becomes one of determining which classical Hebrew and koine Greek you are referring to.4 You, not I, missed the point when you decided to find truths that were good at all times and under all conditions. Not I, but you, dodged the issue when you refused to acknowledge the fluidity and imprecision inherent in all languages, classical or otherwise. You tend to minimize the wide variances among modern translations and ignore the fact that knowledgeable scholars disagree on many points. Some of your disagreements are more with your compatriots than with me. You're seeking a kind of permanence in life that doesn't exist my friend. Good luck!
Again, JW, you summarized the jury without knowing or weighing many of the facts, took verses out-of-context, displayed a poor knowledge of a principle of logic, and exhibited a strong proclivity for tendentious reasoning. (1) 'What additional relevant information does Jude 6 ("And the angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation he hath reserved in everlasting chains...") add to 2 Peter? Nothing! 5 Both are merely noting the fact that some angels were punished for sin just as were those living in Sodom and Gomorrah. (2) Where does Peter say they were the ones (the angels- -Ed.) who sinned in the days of Noah, thus narrowing it down a good bit? Talk about taking verses out-of-context! After mentioning that some angels were punished for sinning (2 Peter 2:4) the text merely notes that people living in the days of Noah (verse 5) and those living in Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 6) were also punished for their wickedness. Nowhere does the text imply, much less state, that verse 4 is discussing angels who sinned in the days of Noah. (3) Where does the Bible ever say angels were cast down for their sins in the days of Noah? (4) I'm surprised you mentioned the parallel verse in Jude 6 because, following your logic, I could also conclude that some angels were also cast down for their sins when the Israelites were saved from Egypt. The prior verse (Jude 5) says, "...the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." if you are going to link 2 Peter 2:5 with 2:4, then I'm going to link Jude 5 with Jude 6 in the same manner. In fact, I think I'll also bring in 2 Peter 2:6 with 2:4 and say some angels were also east down when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. It's amazing what can be devised when you let your imagination run wild. If there is anyone who should refrain from attributing preconceived prejudices to others.... You read just enough of the text to try to create a plausible rationalization while ignoring that which went before and after. (5) Where did I "equate the angels who sinned" with Satan? I implied, then, and state now that he was included among those cast down. Obviously he couldn't be equated with them since "angels" is plural. My textual support lies with 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. "The angels who sinned" means all the angels who sinned, not some or most. I learned that logical construct years ago in college. And wasn't Satan among those who sinned and were cast down? You just displayed one of the great errors common to those who have been reared in an uncritical Christian environment, JW. You have been so thoroughly imbued with a cardinal belief, e.g., the Devil is loose throughout the world and responsible for so much evil, that any evidence to the contrary couldn't possibly he valid. You even closed you eyes to contrary biblical verses and dismissed them out-of-hand, thus showing why people want to reach children as soon as possible. You said you couldn't resist bringing up this issue, JW, but you should have.6
One final point. I recommend that you read all of the hack issues of BE before making additional criticisms, as some of your points have already been discussed. Since you apparently consider yourself an authority in biblical defense, I'd especially like for you to address more substantive problems such as most of those posed on pages 2 and 3 of issue #34.
1. The material presented here terribly misrepresents what these scholars have to say on the subject. Should the reader wish to read some truly scholarly information on the subject the above referenced book is to be recommended - A General Introduction to the Bible by Drs. Geisler and Nix, published by Moody Press. See also The Text of the New Testament by Dr. Bruce Metzger (Oxford Press) and for a good introduction. see Dr. Greenlee's Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture (Eerdman's Publishing Company). Needless to say Mr. McKinsey knows almost nothing about the subject he is here addressing.
2. Notice what is being said here - a contradiction could exist even though Mr. McKinsey's original accusation against the Bible was that Jesus and Paul could not agree on the WORDING of this commandment. Yet, here we clearly see that Jesus and Paul said exactly the same thing. Here Mr. McKinsey begins a process that will continue in the next letter - that of changing the supposed "contradiction' we are discussing.
3. This author cannot see how Mr. McKinsey could possibly misunderstand the statement upon which his comments here are based. The point made in my letter was that Mr. McKinsey misunderstood the Trinity and the fundamental basis of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible, that being the Biblical teachings of monotheism, the Deity of Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit.
4. Again, McKinsey's original point had been to dispute the accuracy of the rendering of Greek and Hebrew by pointing out that languages evolve and change, which of course, they do. But koine Greek and classical Hebrew are dead languages - they are not changing anymore (dead things normally do not engage in change). Therefore, we can study exactly what that language meant at that time and can thereby translate effectively.
5. Mr. McKinsey again missed the entire point. Jude 6 is speaking of a specific group of angels who sinned by "lusting after strange flesh" (v. 7). Satan is not included in this group by either Peter nor Jude, and neither writer says that all fallen angels are included in this group that are in chains. Unfortunately, Mr. McKinsey feels he has some basis upon which to make his comments.
6. I did not bother going into depth at this point in my reply, mainly due to my belief that it is useless to attempt to deal with any subject in context with Mr. McKinsey. The number of logical and factual errors made in the above statements is truly astounding. Possibly Mr. McKinsey had never read 1 Peter 5:8-9? Peter certainly differentiated between the "angels who sinned" and Satan, that is for sure!
2nd Letter to Mr. McKinsey from James White - Vintage
11/05/2012 - James White
Letter #2 from James White, responding to Mr. McKinsey’s comments as contained in the August 1986 edition of BiblicalErrancy. As above, sections correspond to Mr. McKinsey’s response as printed in the October and November issue of his publication.
I will attempt to he brief, as your space is limited. DM, your point that Jesus contradicted Jesus by, after His death and resurrection, commanding the disciples to go unto all the world is built upon the supposition that Jesus’ command to the disciples originally was meant to be eternal. There is no indication that it was. You don’t seem to feel Jesus could direct His ministry in the best way possible. Quoting Malachi 3:6 begs the issue as it removes the phrase from its context and misapplies it to a completely different issue. Jesus did not “change his teaching” merely because He died and was resurrected - the death and resurrection of Christ (as the Bible makes clear) was the focal point of the entire NT revelation. The standards you apply to Jesus are at best extremely unrealistic. During His ministry He sent the twelve to the Jew’s only as He came as their Messiah; upon their rejection of Him and His death and resurrection, the Gospel was opened up to all who would believe. If you think this is a contradiction, fine. Most would disagree.
Part (b) truly amazed me. The main point you attempted to argue had to do with the fact that you had claimed a contradiction between Paul and Jesus at Matthew 19:18 and Romans 13:9. You wrote, "Jesus and Paul can’t seem to agree on the wording of the 6th commandment regarding killing.” I simply pointed out to you that you were wrong. Both Jesus and Paul said the exact same thing - ou phoneuseis - hence, they did agree on the wording of the 6th Commandment. Your claim was wrong. How an English translator or German translator or French translator or anyone else renders ou phoneuseis into their own tongue is completely irrelevant to the issue you brought up. If you have problems with Matthew 19:18/Romans 13:9 bring it up with the translators, not with the Bible. There is no contradiction as the exact same word is used. You spent nearly a full page begging an issue that had not even been raised. I would challenge you to look up the passages in a modern critical text and see for yourself. And then to say that my comment is in direct opposition to some of the most widely accepted versions on the market today. Really, DM, this is ridiculous - phoneuo is defined as "murder, kill" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , p. 864). You contend that since various versions use synonyms (murder, kill) they are trying to point out a difference in the two passages - please, DM, since you failed to answer my question of your own ability to translate Greek I can only assume that you are unqualified to make the assertion that you do. These versions are not trying to differentiate these passages at all. Again, all of this is irrelevant as your charge was that Jesus and Paul used different wording which they obviously did not. Let the reader decide for himself. (By the way, the very fact that you list the NWT (New World Translation of Jehovah's Witness) along with truly scholarly editions is amazing - I would like to suggest you look into the NWT and find out what it really is - I enclose a tract pointing out some interesting facts about that subject).
Again, DM, you beg the question by dodging the clear fact that the Bible differentiates between athanasia which is Christ’s by right, and zeon aionion which is given to the believer at the time of the new birth. Just because you don’t understand the difference does not mean it doesn’t exist. In the same way, you said that my explanation of the use of echon in relation to immortality was "muddled" and that what the relationship of the continuous action of the participle to the passage was “one can only surmise.” Again, simply because you do not understand the passage as it was written is no excuse for continuing to suppose contradiction. Anyone familiar with the language would be able to follow what I said and would see that you are arguing from ignorance. You simply will not allow for the possibility that the Bible might indeed be consistent on this point., DM. You are making the exact same kind of error you decry in others.
You mentioned a list of issues that dealt with the Trinity - I now have access only to #15 and #18, hence I can only comment on them. Our ministry deals with the cults, and what you wrote in those articles shows much less research than does the material printed by such groups as Jehovah’s Witnesses (from whom you obviously borrowed freely). The very fact that you could list as the Trinitarian’s main support such passages as I Peter 1:2, I John 5:7 (are you kidding?), 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Matthew 28:19 demonstrates one of two things: 1) you have not read much on the subject, which obviously is not true as you make reference to a number of works in your article, or 2) you are deliberately deleting a number of important factors. I would hope the reason for #2 is that you don’t have a lot of room with which to work. At any rate, the view you gave of the Biblical view of the Trinity is, at the very best, contorted and twisted. It is not my desire to enter into a long discussion of the Trinity with you, as you would not allow a for a logical, contextual and linguistic interpretation of the Scriptures. I enclose more information on the subject for your personal reading. By the way, I asked you a simple question that anyone familiar with the subject of the Trinity would know the significance of and would be able to answer. It was not meant to insult you - it was meant to make you deal with the issues. You did not.
I did not condemn BE in my letter - I mentioned only the single issue I had at that time. I simply stated that you had not demonstrated a single contradiction in that paper, and I hold to that claim. I would like to kindly submit to you, DM, that it is you who will not admit your own limitations with respect to Greek and Hebrew." I have given my qualifications* - what are yours? And finally, I would like to point out that Greek and Hebrew as modern languages are indeed always changing - but that misses the whole point. We are dealing with classical Hebrew and koine Greek - they are not changing and evolving. Such a dodge does not work. I do hope that in your reply you will answer the issues rather than attacking me personally - much more good could he accomplished in that way.
(Under Peter versus Peter on page 3 of Issue #44 is the following “contradiction": "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4) versus “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The question then became one of determining how the devil could be walking around if he was chained in hell until judgment--Ed.). [The above section preceded the next section of this letter when published in BE to give the proper background and context.]
One other point I cannot resist bringing up - in the August issue of BE, page 3 under “Peter vs. Peter” #3 - please give me the reason you equate "the angels who sinned” with Satan. Jude gives more information about those angels mentioned in 2 Peter, and even Peter says that they were the ones who sinned in the days of Noah. That narrows it down a good bit. This again demonstrates that it is your misunderstanding of the passage that creates the difficulty - the Bible nowhere says that Satan is chained, awaiting judgment. That is only your erroneous conclusion based on preconceived prejudices and mistakes.
*I had given Mr. McKinsey my educational background in a separate part of the letter, which, at that time included three years of koine Greek and basic training in Hebrew through Fuller Theological Seminary. Aside from this, I also graduated summa cum laude from Grand Canyon College with a B. A. in Bible.
1st Reply to James White from Dennis McKinsey - Vintage
11/04/2012 - James White
Reply by Mr. McKinsey, as contained in the August 1986 edition of “Biblical Errancy." Sections correspond to the sections placed in the above letter.
Dear JW. Like you, I have encountered the same arguments on numerous occasions and your “out-of-context” pleading is one of the most common. You alluded to point #18 in the May 1986 commentary and held that there was no contradiction between Jesus and Paul because the former adopted a new position after his death and resurrection. Oddly enough, we agree on one point. His posture did change. Before his death Jesus said, ”l am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt.l5:24) and “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:5), while afterwards he said, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matt.28:19). So which view represents the real Jesus? I’m not sure. Are we to assume God, i.e. Jesus, changed his mind and completely reversed a very important teaching. (sic) I assumed he did not, which accounts for the disagreement with Paul who said, "For there is no difference between Jew and Greek." If you insist he altered his stance, then you have eliminated a contradiction between Jesus and Paul by creating one between Jesus and Jesus (which was discussed in Issue 28’s commentary- -#78). Jesus initially said one thing; afterwards he said another. One of his comments is false unless he originally came to save only a small group instead of all mankind. Is that what you are contending? If so, then you had better rewrite some Christian theology. Or, are you saying Jesus, i.e. God, the perfect being who changes not (Mal. 3:6), changed his mind and reversed his teaching merely because he died and was resurrected? Why would his death, burial and resurrection warrant such a major change or be of significance and weren’t those to whom he spoke before his death on the cross given false information? After all he knew he was sent to save more than just the Jews.
I realize that apologists, such as yourself, place great reliance on the "back to Greek and Hebrew” defense, JW. Some even like to think of it as their ace-in-the-hole. If there were unanimity among scholars and only one version available, their dreams would be plausible. But, unfortunately for them, anything but agreement reigns supreme and widely varying versions abound. Your own example shows this quite well. You said there was no difference between Matt. 19:18 (Thou shalt do no murder”) and Rom. 13:9 (Thou shalt not kill”) because both came from "ou phoneuseis” in Greek. That is in direct opposition to some of the most widely accepted versions on the market today. Since you questioned my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, I’d like to pose some questions to you. How many years have you studied Greek and Hebrew? Have you ever taught it on a professional, full-time basis? Are you an expert, a recognized authority on these languages? With all due respect, I doubt it. Those who translated Greek and Hebrew into such versions as the King James, the Revised Standard, the New American Standard, the New American Bible etc. are such experts. indeed, many have devoted their lives to linguistics. And the consensus of several of these committees is opposed to your analysis of our example. The translators of the KJV say “murder” is the proper word in Matt. 19:18, while ”kill" is the best term to use in Rom.13:9. Are you saying they don’t know the difference, that they don’t know how to translate? Are you saying you know Greek and Hebrew better than those who assembled the KJV? They say there is a difference, while you say there isn’t. Before leaping to the common response that later research has corrected some errors in the KJV, you had better take note of the fact that several of the newest versions agree with the King James. The Modern Language says “murder” (Matt. 19:18) and “kill” (Rom. 13:9). the New American Bible says “kill” (Matt. 19:18) and “murder” (Rom. 13:9), and the New English Bible says “murder” (Matt. 19:18) and “kill” (Rom. 13:9). So clearly the experts on several committees say there is a difference where you deny one exists. This is typical of the problem that arises when you return to the “original” Greek and Hebrew to see what the text says. Even the experts clash. They often don’t agree on which text to use among the multitude available and they often don’t agree on what the text says even when agreement is reached on the text to use. The dispute as to whether “almah” in Isaiah 7:14 means “virgin” or a “young woman" has never been resolved. I could become one of the world’s greatest Hebrew/Greek scholars and still find many knowledgeable people who disagree with my interpretation. The example you gave demonstrates the problem clearly. Does “ou phoneuseis” mean “kill” or "murder."(sic) Certainly there is a difference between killing and murdering. The KJ, and NAS, the Modern Language, and the NE versions contend one “ou phoneuseis” does not equal the other. So we have disagreement within these versions. We also have the problem of versions that are internally consistent but in opposition to one another. For example, the RSV says “kill” (Matt. 19:18) and “kill” (Rorn. 13:9) as does the Living Bible, the New American Standard and the New Jerusalem. The NIV, the NASB, the NWT, and the TEV, on the other hand, say "murder” (Matt. 19:18) and “murder” (Rom. 13:9). So who is right? Who knows Greek best? Which group of Greek scholars should we accept? And these men have devoted decades to these languages. That’s why BE does not become involved in linguistics and translations. It’s a never-ending struggle often decided more by political expediency than objective scholarship It’s the same kind of expediency that decided which books would enter the canon to begin with. BE only requires apologists to stay with one version or the other and relates problems primarily from the KJV because it’s accepted by the largest number of people. Relating every disagreement within and between all versions is out of the question.
Your reconciliation of the disagreement between 1 Tim. 6:16 (“Jesus only hath immortality”) and John 3:16 (“whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”) doesn’t fare much better, JW. You say the word in 1 Tim. 6:16 is athanasian which Webster defines as “immortal (Greek: a-without + thanatos-death) and view that as different from the “eternal life” in John 3:16. How “immortality” differs from “eternal life” is a distinction only theologians can visualize. I’d say we are comparing apples to apples. Like many apologetic theologians you are trying to create a distinction where none exists.
Your attempt to solve the “only Jesus has immortality” problem is muddled at best. You said, “the word translating ‘hath’ in the KJV is a participle in the original, echon. The continuous action without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of the passage.” How it is significant and what “continuous action” has to do with the issue, one can only surmise. Either Jesus is or is not the only immortal being.
You implied that only those fluent in Greek and Hebrew are qualified to critique the Bible. But, that goes two ways. Are you sufficiently fluent in these languages to defend the Book? And, even more importantly, are you more fluent than recognized experts on translation committees such that you can tell them their understanding of a passage is in error? You need to realize that some of your points exhibit disagreement more with them than with me, JW. You say there is no difference between the “ou phoneuseis” of Matt. 19:18 and the “ou phoneuseis” of Roman 13:9; whereas, the translators of the KJ the NAB, the ML, and the NE versions say there is. With all due respect, I’m more inclined to believe them than you. And since BE can only focus on one version at a time we have stressed problems within the KJ.
In all honesty, JW, I fail to see the humor in #31. Seems like a clear-cut inconsistency to me! Your comment with respect to #33 does, however, have some merit. As long as you are willing to admit that the statement attributed to Jesus by Paul does not exist in Scripture, I am willing to admit there could be an extra-biblical comment to that effect. But don’t give people the impressions, as is often done, that such a statement by Jesus can be found in the Bible. As far as #34 is concerned, some of that “in-depth theology" on the Trinity was covered in Issues 15, 18, 36. and 38 which you don’t appear to have read. Instead of answering the trinitarian dilemma posed, you merely belittled my understanding and asked an innocuous rhetorical question about gender which has little relevance and less impact. I’ve debated the Trinity on numerous occasions and seriously doubt you could add anything new. But I’m willing to listen.
Do you honestly expect me to believe that you “do not blindly accept anything”, JW. (sic) You condemned BE before hearing my responses, without reading prior issues, without addressing many other points that were made; without giving clear, unmuddled responses to the problems you chose to discuss, and without acknowledging your own limitations with respect to Greek and Hebrew. You have not examined my “facts” hut only examined some facts, very few, in fact. Moreover, confounding the “Word of God” is not the purpose of this publication, JW. We only ask that you examine all the evidence before accepting the Bible as the “Word of God.” But you have acted in precisely the opposite manner. You accepted it as the Word of God long ago and have been judging all evidence accordingly. That which corroborates your belief has been retained; that which doesn’t has been discarded.
And finally, since you are rather generous with gratuitous advice let me respond with some of my own. Never talk as if you have the final word on what the text says when even the experts don’t agree and, remember, Greek and Hebrew are no different from other languages. They are constantly changing and often open to varying interpretations.
1st Letter to Mr. McKinsey from James White - Vintage
11/04/2012 - James White
(I first give the specific sections of the May 1986 edition of "Biblical Errancy" that I cite in my first letter).
Jesus Vs. Paul ...(18) Jesus -- “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24) and "...Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-6) and “Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine..." (Matt. 7:6) and (Matt. 15:26, Mark 8:27, John 4:22) versus Paul -- "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him" (Rom. 10:12) and For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom. 1:16) and "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and [upon] all them that believe: for there is no difference" (Rom. 3:22) and (1 Tim. 2:6, Rom. 4:16, 2:26-29, 4:9-13, 23-24, 11:19-25). Jesus told his followers to go only to the Jews, while Paul said there was no difference between Jews and Greeks.
(21) Paul -- "Who (Jesus -- Ed.) only hath immortality..." (1 Tim. 6:16) versus Jesus -- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Paul had said only Jesus had immortality, while Jesus said others have everlasting life, too. If Paul had said only Jesus can provide immortality to others, there would have been no problem. But he said only Jesus has immortality. Incidentally, how can Paul say only Jesus is immortal when everyone is immortal according to Christian beliefs whether desired or not. It’s not a question of whether we are immortal but one of where we will spend eternity.
(29) Jesus -- “Thou shall do no murder (Matt. 19:18) versus Paul -- “Thou shalt not kill” (Rom. 13:9). Jesus and Paul can’t seem to agree on the wording of the 6th Commandment regarding killing. Every moral and legal system recognizes a difference between murder and killing. Paul outlaws killing while Jesus prefers a less comprehensive restriction. If Paul’s rule prevails, soldiers, police, and those killing in self-defense are in trouble.
(31) Paul -- “..for he -- one’s ruler -- beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God (Rom. 13:4) versus Jesus -- “Put up again thy sword into its place for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword’ (Matt. 26:52).
(33) Paul -- “...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35). Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus make such a statement. Matt. 10:8 (“...freely ye have received, freely give”) does not apply.
(34) Jesus -- “I and my Father are one (John 10:30) versus Paul -- “It is Christ...who is even at the right hand of God..." (Rom. 8:34) and “...the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3) and (Col. 3:1, Heb 9:24, 10:12, 1 Thess. 2:5). If Jesus is one with God as he claims, then how could he be sitting beside, or subservient to, God?
Letter #1, Section A:
May 29, 1986
Dear Mr. McKinsey:
I was recently sent a copy of your periodical entitled “Biblical Errancy.” (May 1986). I found it quite interesting, and representative of a view-point I have encountered on numerous occasions. Though a full refutation of the information in the newsletter would be impractical, a few points should be brought up.
First, your commentary entitled “Jesus vs. Paul" amazed me. Do you, sir, understand the implications of the word “context? Does background, chronology and language enter into this discussion? For example, your first mentioned ‘contradiction’ (number 18) completely ignores the chronological progression of events. It tears the texts from their context and creates nothing but confusion. Your final statement read, ‘Jesus told his followers to go only to the Jews, while Paul said there was no difference between Jews and Greeks.’ This ignores the fact that Jesus’ statements were made before his death, burial, and resurrection. After that event Jesus himself said, ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations...’ (Matthew 28:19). To postulate a contradiction between Paul and Jesus on the basis of the passages you cited is simply illogical. Only preconceived prejudice against the Bible could allow such a contention. Is it possible, sir, that you are just as guilty of such a preconception as many Christians are in their remarks?
Section 21, contrasting 1 Timothy 6:16 with John 3:16 provides another example. Later in the periodical you mention people jumping from version to version in an attempt to defend the Bible. I am surprised that this would even be a problem. You, as the person initiating the discussion, should realize that you are attacking (if you don’t mind that term) the veracity of an ancient document that was written in two languages - Hebrew and Greek (with some Aramaic). Hence, I would assume that you would be fluent in both languages, or, at the very least, in Greek, as Hebrew is fairly basic, especially in comparison with koine Greek. At any rate, a basic knowledge of Greek would have cleared up your confusion concerning this example. The word found at 1 Timothy 6:16 is athanasian, whereas at John 3:16 it is a phrase that is translated “eternal life,” that phrase being zoen aionion. As you can see, you are comparing apples to oranges. Also, you mention that only Jesus “has" immortality, supposing this to be a contradiction of Christian teaching concerning immortality of all people. Again, a simple examination of the text is in order. The word translating “hath” in the KJV is a participle in the original, echon. The continuous action, without relationship to time expressed by this participle is significant to the meaning of the passage. I submit that it is your misunderstanding of the passage in its original tongue that causes your “contradiction." Your assault on the Bible without reference to its original tongue is comparable to my attacking Goethe’s Faust without a knowledge of German - few would seriously consider my remarks valid.
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the comment found under number 29. You imagine a difference between Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:18 (Greek: on phoneuseis) and Paul’s in Romans 13:9 (Greek: on phoneuseis). As you can see, there is absolutely no difference whatsoever in the two occurrences - both are quoting directly from the Septuagint (LXX) version at Exodus 20:13 (20:15 in the LXX). Your comments demonstrate an extremely shallow depth of research on your part. I would hope that you could remove this example in a coming edition of “Biblical Errancy.”
The examples such as the above abound. Number 31 would be humorous if it were not found in context of your periodical, as is #33 (see John 21:25). Number 34 deals with in-depth theology, a subject that I really don’t believe you are prepared to handle, given the above examples of your work. What gender is the word “one” in, and what significance does that have?
At any rate, I do look forward to receiving your work. I do not believe that you demonstrated so much as one contradiction in your paper, and looking over the vain attempts of atheists and others to confound the Word of God only strengthens my faith in that book. I do not blindly accept anything. I have examined your “facts” and found them wanting. Please reply to the information I have provided you.
Letters to an Anti-Theist - Vintage
11/03/2012 - James White12/11/1987
The following letters were written during 1986/87. They comprise the correspondence between Mr. James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, and Mr. Dennis McKinsey, the editor of a periodical entitled “Biblical Errancy.” As Mr. McKinsey feels free to publish letters written to him in his periodical, and as there is no copyright on "Biblical Errancy,” we have felt free to include Mr. McKinsey’s responses. Only that material relevant to the matters addressed in the debate between Mr. White and Mr. McKinsey will be reproduced here.
In the spring of 1986 a copy of the March edition of "Biblical Errancy” was sent to James White. The full title of the paper is: "Biblical Errancy: The only national periodical focusing on Biblical errors, contradictions, and fallacies, while providing a hearing for apologists." The periodical is six pages long. After reviewing some of the supposed "contradictions” found in the May issue of this paper, Mr. White wrote the first letter of three to Mr. McKinsey. This letter was printed in the August, 1986 edition of BE. This precipitated a rather lengthy exchange, both in the size of the letters as well as the number of issues of BE in which the debate appeared. The following gives the letters written by Mr. White, and the replies of Mr. McKinsey, just as they appeared in “Biblical Errancy.” The final section comprises Mr. Whites reply to Mr. McKinsey’s final words.
“Biblical Errancy” is obviously designed to promote the distrust and rejection of the Bible as God’s Word. Anyone who has read the periodical for any time at all is very aware of this. The uniqueness of the work is not what it has to say; indeed, much of this material can he found in Thomas Paine or in the material published by the American Atheists. “Biblical Errancy” comes out on a monthly basis with the same old tired arguments and materials that atheists have been passing around for years. But, Mr. McKinsey allows for some dialogue on the issues he brings up, and this, of course, generates interest and controversy.
Someone might well ask the question, why bother debating this kind of issue? Aside from the fact that I as a Christian believe the Bible when it claims to he the Word of God, I also wished to see for myself what kind of response would he elicited from an anti-theist like Mr. McKinsey when faced with actual facts. I knew that he had made a rather simple error in regards to his claim of a contradiction between Jesus and Paul (see letters below for all the details) - that was clear. I wished to know if his drive to attack the Bible would keep him from admitting a simple mistake. If so, then I could write off ‘Biblical Errancy” and tell anyone else that it was not worth their time to read. However, if Mr. McKinsey would admit such an error and retract the false statement, then I would go on and research more of his material, given the idea that he was indeed honestly intent on the truth as he saw it. Unfortunately, the following debate makes it clear just how that issue ended up being resolved.
Another question might he asked. This debate does not deal with all the great issues of theism versus atheism. It deals with some pretty specific issues. Why not deal with a broader range of topics? First, we have done so in the past and plan on continuing to do so in the future (contact Alpha and Omega for a materials list). But one of the best ways people learn is by example. And this debate provides repetitive examples of logical errors, misinformation, and ad hominem argumentation - all the hallmarks of the anti-theist’s trade By seeing the progress of the debate, and the subtle ways in which points were avoided and other issues brought up in attempts to cloud the issue, the reader will be better prepared to meet similar tactics at work or school.
One final observation concerning the debate. The reader will notice that Mr. McKinsey exercises his position as the editor of BE by writing responses that average at least twice as long as the original letter. Hence, you will read a great deal more by Mr. McKinsey than by I in the first section of the debate. To help “balance things out” a little, I will footnote certain parts of his responses, especially in his near epic-length response to part of my last letter.
One note must be added concerning the format of BE. The letters printed in the newsletter are divided into sections with Mr. McKinsey responding to each section with a section of his own. In this reproduction of the debate, we have indicated the divisions used by Mr. McKinsey while keeping the letters and responses in one section. By cross-referencing the sections of the letters the reader will he able to follow- the argument more closely. With this in mind, here we present “Letters to an Anti-Theist.”
100 Verses for Witnessing to Mormons - Vintage
11/03/2012 - James White"The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 KJV). The ability to utilize the Word of God accurately and correctly in the witnessing situation is a great asset. When dealing with people who already have a faith structure, it is vital.
This booklet outlines 100 verses of Scripture that have proven effective in the witnessing situation with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or, the Mormons. This listing of verses is the result of many hundreds of hours of one-on-one and sometimes one-on-twenty witnessing, ranging from people's homes to street corners, Mormon pageants, and even the Temple in Salt Lake City during General Conference. They have been tested under fire, and, when properly used, have proven their worth.
Of course, any verse without a context is a pretext, and you will want to be thoroughly familiar with the context of each of these passages. Still, the ability to quote a verse from memory and skillfully utilize that text in debate is needful to the person who wishes to be truly equipped and prepared. Most conversations between a Christian and a Mormon will be moving far too fast for looking up verses in the concordance of a Bible, and I have found that being able to quote a verse quickly and accurately gives the Christian the advantage of keeping control of the conversation, an occurrence all too rare in most cases.
This booklet alone cannot provide you with all the information you need to be properly prepared to enter the battlefield. Study of Mormon doctrine is important, and even more important is the study of the basic Christian doctrines. Hopefully memorizing 100 verses will set you on a life-long course of Scripture memorization that will help you grow in the knowledge of God's Word and in your relationship with Him. I openly acknowledge the great influence of one of the best missionaries to the Mormons, Wally Tope. Though not specifically involved in the production of this work, his book On the Frontlines Witnessing to Mormons provided me with my "basic training" years ago, and that influence can be seen in the Scripture selections found herein.
How Do I Memorize that Many Verses???
Different people memorize in different ways. Don't believe the old excuse that you simply cannot memorize verses - I feel anyone is able to accomplish that task. When you think about it, you memorize a great deal of information every day. How many phone numbers do you know? How many addresses? Most of us, if we sat down and took the time to do it, could create a long list of names and phone numbers and combinations and codes and so on and so on. Hence, you are able to memorize Scripture is you really want to. That is the key - you must desire it with all your heart, and be willing to make the commitment that it takes to get the job done.
Repetition is important in learning. Somehow you must devise a system whereby you are able to review your verses on a daily basis. This is not something that will end after the 100th verse is memorized - it will go on for the rest of your life if you really want to keep the verses fresh in your mind. My system began by keeping a master list of all verses memorized, as well as those being worked on. Once a verse is memorized, it is placed on the list and reviewed each day for ten days, a place for a mark being available for each of the days. When the ten day review is over, it is placed in a category that is reviewed once every week or month.
But how do I memorize the verse? The most effective method I have found involves quotation and writing. Read over the verse three or four times, noting the natural breaks and rhythms. Begin trying to quote from memory, making sure to check your accuracy - you don't want to start off memorizing it incorrectly! Once you can quote it ten times straight, take out a sheet of paper and begin to write it. Check the written verse for correct-ness. Write it again, and check it again. Write it at least 5 times. This seems to really ingrain the verse in the memory. Make sure to review it each day for at least 10 days.
Once you begin to have a fairly extensive list, you may want to upgrade your system. I eventually had to go to a 3 X 5 card system. This is especially handy in reviewing a long list of verses, as it cuts down on having to look up each verse in the Bible. It is also helpful to be able to categorize the verses in general category headings.
There are numerous variations on the above method, and you may not like any of them. No matter how you do it, make it a priority. Without a commitment to following through you will never get the verses down. Believe me, the thrill of being able to answer the attacks of a whole group of Mormon Elders while pushing forward the claims of Christ on their lives is well worth the effort of memorization.
But Which Version Do I Use??
That is a very good question. Most would immediately answer - "why, King James of course!" It is true that since the LDS Church accepts only the KJV, it is the one familiar to most Mormons. However, many Christians today perfer memorizing the Word in a translation that re-presents both modern language and modern textual inform-ation. As many of these verses will mean much to you in your personal life, the choice is up to you. I personally began with the King James Version and switched to the New American Standard at a later time, a situation which presents its own problems, to be sure. If you choose to go with a more modern version, realize that you will need to be able to give a good, quick, concise and accurate explanation of how we get the Bible, including textual history and translation. Most Mormons don't know a thing about the subject whatsoever, and rarely does a Christian have to go very in-depth. But if you use another translation other than the KJV, you will have to give a good reason for it. For the sake of simplicity, I will follow the KJV in quoting the verses, and will point out translation difficulties when they arise.
The Program ...
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The President's Views on Social Issues
11/02/2012 - Jeff DownsDon't you love titles that capture your attention? Well, now that I have your attention, let me point you to an audio program that featured the president. No, not Obama, but the president of Greenville Seminary, Dr. Joseph Pipa. On the latest Confession Our Hope, Mr. William Hill and Dr. Pipa discussed social issues such as homosexuality, women’s ordination, head coverings and other such issues in light of a properly understood, biblical hermeneutic. To listen click here.
Speaking of social issues and cultural engagement, you may want to check out this new book. Sample chapter is located here and Table of Contents is a sample chapter and the here.
17 POINTS OF THE TRUE CHURCH - A Response - Vintage
11/02/2012 - James WhiteThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prints a small card that is normally entitled "Seventeen points of the True Church." At times the front of the card will read "Does it meet the Test?" Whatever the form, many Christians have been handed this card. What of its claims? Are the 17 listed points true? Do the claims made by the LDS Church stand the test of the Bible?
This article will examine, briefly, the claims made by this little card. It is not intended to be an in-depth doctrinal treatise on each point, as the card hardly attempts to be, either. Instead, it is meant to give the Christian reader more background into just what the Mormon Church is claiming, and how this does not in any way reflect the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles as recorded in the Word of God, the Bible. We will follow the outline of the card itself. (Some cards list more or fewer points. This card seems to be the most prevalent).
#1. Christ organized the Church. Ephesians 4:11-14. This is true. However, we might ask our Mormon friends, since Ephesians 4:11 lists evangelists and pastors, where are these "offices" in the LDS Church? Since "apostles" in the original Greek language refers simply to a "sent one," does it not make sense to understand this to refer to missionaries, the very ones who, like Paul and Apollos, spread the word concerning Christ throughout the entire known world? Should we not also point out that the very same book here quoted (Ephesians) also says in chapter 3, verse 21, that God would receive glory "in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end"? How does this square with the Mormon teaching that the Church of Jesus Christ disappeared after only a few years?
#2. The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:23. Exactly how Ephesians 5:23 relates to this is difficult to say. At any rate, the point normally made by Mormons in regard to this is that the name on the letterhead of your church must include the phrase "Jesus Christ." Just how official names are involved in saving someone is again not clear. Biblically, the Church is called the Church of Christ. It is also called the Body of Christ. Does that mean we should make sure the phrase "Body of Christ" is on our letterheads, also? Or is it more consistent to see that the Church as it is expressed universally is the Church of Christ, and the local assembly takes the name that would best describe it - such as the Church at Rome, the Church of the Thessalonians, the Church at Philippi? The Bible nowhere commands us to attach a specific name to our local congregation. Christians are Christians whether they worship in the same building and in the exact same manner or not.
#3. The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets. Ephesians 2:19-20. This, again, is true, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, the LDS Church takes it too far. The Mormons take this to mean that the true church must have official positions entitled "Apostle" and "Prophet," which, of course, they have. This is not what Ephesians 2:19-20 teaches. First, the context includes verses 21 and 22, and these must be read also. The text actually says that the church is built on a foundation. Stop there. The word "built" as translated in the King James Version translates the Greek participle epoikodomethentes, which, properly syntaxed is translated "having been built." It is an aorist passive participle. It refers to a past action, one that (in this case) has been completed. To say that today we must continue to build the foundation of apostles and prophets is to misunderstand the text. Next, we would like to point out that the Bible identifies Jesus Christ as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). The Church is built upon this foundation, and is continually growing unto an "holy temple in the Lord." The question must be asked, how many times does one lay a foundation? If one is continually laying a foundation, how will the house be built? The answer is obvious. The Mormon Church is still trying to lay a foundation that was laid two thousand years ago. Since this is so, it is obvious to see that in this passage Paul is referring to something other than a continuing office of apostle and Prophet.
The phrase "of the apostles and prophets" is in a genitive construction that can easily give the sense that the foundation of the apostles and prophets is Jesus Christ Himself. This would be completely consistent with Paul's use of themelios (foundation) in other letters. Again we see how examining the actual text of the Bible we can avoid errors such as the kind propagated by the Mormon Church.
One final thing. In the lists of "offices" in the church (e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:28), the apostles" are placed before the "prophets." Aside from the fact that there were obviously many "prophets" in the Church (rather than the one of the LDS Church), it is clear that the Mormon hierarchy of Prophet then Apostles is backwards, at least Biblically speaking. It is also plain to see that "apostles" (literally, "sent ones") and "prophets" functioned quite differently than the LDS Church believes they did.
#4. The true church must have the same organization as Christ's Church. Ephesians 4:11-14. This point overlaps with the discussion given above. We have already pointed out that the organization the Mormon Church has forced upon the Bible is not an accurate understanding of just how the ancient church was organized. As examples of this have already been brought up, we will move on to the next point. ...
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Yesterday on the Dividing Line: Potpourri Max!
11/02/2012 - James WhiteI can't even start listing the topics from yesterday. I had 8-10 tabs loaded up and I think we threw a few other topics in for the fun of it. And, given a cold and hence some real difficulty speaking, I didn't talk quite as fast as normal! But hopefully some useful information anyway. Here's the program.
Many Gods, Many Lords - Vintage
11/02/2012 - James White
"As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
The above passage opens a discussion by the Apostle Paul on the sensitive topic of behavior among believers, and the matter of each person's conscience. He is answering a question that must have been included in a letter sent to him by the congregation at Corinth. Idols were a very common sight in Corinth, as in most ancient cities of the time. Some of the believers, having been involved in idol worship, could not with a clear conscience partake of meat that they knew had been sacrificed to idols. This was a serious problem, as just about every bit of the meat supply in the city may have been involved in such practices.
Paul addresses the problem by first saying that idols "are nothing in the world." An idol has no power over the Christian. It has no reality other than the demonic power that would cause someone to worship it. There was no real Diana, or Jupiter, or any of the other false gods of the era. He then puts forth the fact that though things or people may be called gods, to the Christian there is only one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (obviously connecting them in a supernatural way.) In the process, Paul says that "there are gods many and lords many." Obviously what he meant by this is that there are many false gods and false lords being worshiped by non-believers, but these are simply idols. One can make a god out of almost anything - as one person put it, some people get up in the morning and shave their god in the mirror, others get into their god and drive to work, others sit in front of their god for hours each night and watch it.
The fact that Paul is alluding to false gods is brought out more clearly in more modern translations:
"For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,..."(New American Standard Bible)
"For even if there are so-called gods, whether in in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords),..." (New International Version)
The Bible clearly says that "all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens." (Psalm 96:5). In context, then, Paul is not saying that he believed in polytheism, the belief in many gods, but rather that he was a monotheist - he believed in only one God.
In light of the clear Biblical position on this, it is amazing to read the words of the Mormon "prophet" Joseph Smith in regards to this verse: "You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 371.) Which would you rather believe - God's Word, or a false prophet?
The Evolution of Mormon Theology - Vintage
11/01/2012 - James White
Is the teaching of the LDS Church today consistent with that of the early 1830’s? If the Mormon Church’s claim to be the “only true church on earth today” is to be believed, one would expect consistency in teaching from the beginning until today. However, based on the earliest works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (then “The Church of Christ”), the answer to the above question is an emphatic no. Since the first version of the Book of Mormon was published (1830), an evolution of theological thought can be clearly traced.
On page 186 of the original Book of Mormon (B.of M.), in the book of Mosiah (15:4-5), we find an example of the relationship of Jesus Christ and God the Father, from the original Mormon perspective.
...thus becoming the Father and Son: and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of Heaven and of Earth; and thus the flesh becoming subject to the spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God,... (emphasis ours).
This verse teaches two fundamental concepts that were present in Joseph Smith’s original theological ideas: monotheism (the belief in one God), and the spiritual nature of God the Father. We also note that Joseph Smith attempted to emulate the doctrine of the Trinity in this passage and in the process produced a view that is not only contrary to modern LDS teaching, but to the actual Christian doctrine of the Trinity as well.
Another example is found on page 544 (Ether 3:14) of the same version quoted earlier, which states:
Behold, I am he which was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son (emphasis ours).
A third example is found in the book of Alma, page 253 of the first version, which asks,
...Is there more than one God? And he answereth No. Now Zeezrom saith unto him again: How knowest thou these things? And he saith An angel hath made them known to me (Alma 11:28b-31).
From these examples, it is clear that at the time the Book of Mormon was first published, Joseph Smith believed that God the Father and God the Son were different manifestations of a single God. Even the Preface to the B.of M., written by the three witnesses concludes by stating:
And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
When combined, these examples undeniably show a monotheistic belief on the part of Joseph Smith which differs greatly from the polytheistic (a belief in many gods) concepts he developed later in his life. For the Book of Mormon, there is only one God, not three, or many more.
A departure from the monotheistic view established with the B.of M. can be traced to the 1851 version of the Pearl of Great Price. By placing parallel passages in the books of Moses and Abraham side by side, an evolution of thought is clearly demonstrated within the Pearl of Great Price itself.
|And I God said: let there be there light; and there was light....||And (the Gods) said: Let there light; and there was light...|
|And I, God, called the dry land Earth;....||And the Gods pronounced the earth dry,....|
|And I, God, made the beasts of the earth after their kind,...||And the Gods organized the of the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind,....|
|And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden....||And the Gods planted a garden in Eden,....|
|Moses 2:3,10, 25, 3:8||Book of Abraham4:3,10,25,5:8|
The emphasis in these passages is ours, highlighting the departure from a single God to the current view of multiple Gods.
In 1835 a series of lectures was published that was contained within the same volume as the original “Doctrines and Covenants.” In the preface of the work we read the following:
The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of Lectures as delivered before a Theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work....There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving any thing purporting to be articles of religious faith, in consequence of there being so many now extant; but if men believe a system, and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly, the more intelligibly they can present it, the better.
The “Theological class” spoken of in the quote referred to a class of Elders in Kirtland, Ohio. The “articles of religious faith” refers to the “Lectures on Faith.” The preface concludes with the endorsements of Joseph Smith Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and F.G. Williams. Represented in those “Lectures on Faith” are the following attributes of God the Father:
God the Father is a personage of Spirit:
-They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: (Lecture Fifth, page 53).
God the Father is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient and without beginning of days:
We here observe that God is the only supreme governor, and independent being, in whom all fulness and perfection dwells; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; (Lecture Second, page 12) .
The “Lectures on Faith” were removed in the 1921 edition of Doctrines and Covenants. The reasoning behind the removal is not consistent with the endorsements that supported the lectures prior to that point in time such as,
...that the lectures were judiciously arranged and compiled, and were profitable for doctrine;... (1835, Doctrines and Covenants, page 256)
Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?
A. It does. (1835, Doctrines and Covenants, page 58)
It becomes quite apparent that the “founding fathers” considered the “Lectures on Faith” to be theologically true, concise in its presentation and “profitable for doctrine.”
So when did the doctrines in these important areas change to present day LDS beliefs? In the middle to late 1830’s Joseph Smith’s beliefs about God changed tremendously. He developed the concept that “God was once a man.” This great swing in belief created a ripple affect in the Mormon concept of the attributes of God. To demonstrate this, specific citations from LDS sources relevant to individual attributes of God will be quoted, even though they may not be the earliest writings of those views.
God the Father is a personage of flesh, not spirit:
First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God, who holds this world in its orbit, and upholds all things by his power; if you were to see him to-day, you would see him in all the person, image and very form as a man;... (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp.613-14, 1844
God is not omniscient:
We are now, or may be, as perfect in our sphere as God and Angels are in theirs, but the greatest intelligence in existence (God) can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 93,1852).
God is not omnipotent:
God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end (Wiltord Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 120, 1857).
God has not always been God:
He is our Father- the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted Being (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333,1859).
So where does one turn to determine the very character of God? Does one stand with the beliefs of the LDS Church in the early 1830’s, or does one stand with the attributes of God as presented by the current church doctrine? And if God were to have chosen Joseph Smith to be a prophet, why would that prophet teach such utterly contradictory concepts of God within the space of less than twenty years?
In response to the question of where one finds true information about who God really is, we would direct your attention not to a human organization, but to the revelation of God in the Bible. First of all, God doesn’t change. For I am the Lord, I change not; (Malachi 3:6). God has always been God. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God (Psalm 90:2). God is spirit, and is not limited to a physical body like human beings. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God is omniscient (all knowing). In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). God is omnipotent (all powerful). But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased (Psalm 115:3). God is omnipresent (unlimited by time and space). Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24). God the Father is identified as God. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God, our Father... (1 Corinthians 1:3). Jesus Christ is identified as God. In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). God the Father and God the Son share the one being that is God. Believest thou not that I (Jesus) am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works (John 14:10). The Holy Spirit (Ghost) is God. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and keep back part of the price of the land ? . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God (Acts 5:3-4). There is only one being of God, but three persons who share that one being. God’s being, since it is infinite and eternal, can be shared by three persons (not in the sense of a physical person, but in the sense of a thinking, willing entity). l am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:5-6).
Why is it important to know who God is? Because Jesus said, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). To believe in a false God is to engage in idolatry and to risk losing your soul.
The Other Three Solas
11/01/2012 - James White
ETERNAL SECURITY: Based in the Tri-Unity of God - Vintage
11/01/2012 - James WhiteI remember passing notes with a friend of mine in high school. We were debating that age old doctrine of eternal security. He didn’t believe in it, and I did. A few months ago, while cleaning out one of those old drawers that you haven't opened in about ten years, I found one of those notes. I had to chuckle some as I read it. From a hopefully more mature position I could see that my friend was not realty talking about eternal security - he was pushing works-salvation. And I could also see that I was doing little more than quoting a verse here and a verse there - I never got into the basis for the belief. Maybe that’s why we never got anywhere in the discussion? And, probably, that’s why so many Christians today who engage in the same debate feel that they, too, never get anywhere.
During the summer I translated the Gospel of John. While translating the sixth chapter of that wonderful book, I ran across Jesus’ clear presentation of the doctrines of election and eternal security in verses 37 through 46. My Greek professor has many times said that the best commentary on the New- Testament is the New-Testament in Greek - and he is right. One of the reasons is that you see things that you would not otherwise notice when reading an English translation. From this work of translation, I came to set how the eternal security of the believer is based upon the very nature of God. In John chapter six, this is represented by the functions of the Father and the Son in salvation. And in Ephesians 1:13-14, the Holy Spirit’s role is presented. We will look at both of these passages to see how our salvation is based upon the Tri-Une nature of God.
Secure in the Father and the Son
Jesus said, “Everyone whom the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the one coming to Me I will never cast out; because I have come from heaven not in order to do My will but the will of Him who sent Me; and this is the will of the one who sent Me: that of all which He has given Me from Him, I lose nothing but raise it up at the last day.” (John 6:37-39). Jesus presents the complete sovereignty of God in salvation. All that the Father gives to Jesus - everyone - will come to Him. The operative factor in answering the question of why some come and others, presented with the same opportunity, do not, is simply the nature of the Father’s choice. The Father "gives" persons to the Son - a gift of love, to be sure. When the Father gives to the Son a person, that person will come to Christ (as the one avenue to the Father). There is no question that if a person is so given to Christ (or, to use the terminology of verse 44, is so "drawn" by the Father) that he/she will come to Christ. This is the "Godward" side of salvation - absolute certainty and security. Yet, He says that they will "come to Me” which speaks of the human response - not that the human can change the decision of God - but that the response is there all the same. Man is not pictured simply as a “thing” that is bounced around like a ball, but rather a vastly important person who comes to Christ for salvation, all as the result of the gracious working of God in his/her life.
Jesus continues by stating that when one is so given to Him by the Father, and comes to Him, that one is secure in their relationship with Him He will never cast them out, The aorist subjunctive of strong denial makes it clear that rejection of one who seeks refuge in Christ is a complete and total impossibility. What words to a sinners heart! Those who come to Christ will find Him a loving Lord who will never cast out those who trust in Him!
Why will the Lord never cast out those who come to Him? Verse 38 continues the thought with the explanation - the Son has come to do the will of the Father. And what is the will of the Father? That “of all which He has given Me from Him I lose nothing hut raise it up at the last day.” Can we doubt that Christ will do what He promises? Will the Lord Jesus ever fail to do the Father’s will? Here is eternal security beyond dispute. But note that again all is pre-eminently balanced - the security of the person is based on two things - the will of the Father that none he lost, and secondly, the fact that those who are not lost are those who are given to the Son by the Father Himself. So, in reality, there is security in the Father (He gives us to Christ) and security in the Son (He always does the Father’s will).
The realization of the co-operation and interaction of the Father and the Son in the salvation of each individual Christian is an awesome thing! It is self-evident why so many soteriological systems cannot deal with eternal security - it is based on the understanding that salvation is completely the work of God! Man is the object of salvation, the object of God’s sovereign grace. The gospel is the message of grace, and grace is something given totally on the basis of God’s desire to give it. Such is terribly damaging to man’s “self-esteem” and to any concept of our being able to save ourselves or even to “help God along” in our being made righteous. We must realize that we come to God wholly unworthy of His love and grace, totally incapable of effecting even the beginning of His work in our hearts.
Once we rest ourselves in God’s provision of salvation, however, we see that our position in Him is one that is based upon the sovereign act of the Father in giving us to the Son, and in the eternal obedience of the Son to the Father in effecting our salvation! Can we possibly picture a more secure situation than this? I think not! But wait, there is more...
Sealed by the Spirit
Paul wrote, "...by whom also, having believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the down-payment of our inheritance, unto the redemption of His possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14). In this signal passage that is found, rather significantly I think, on the heels of some of the loftiest teaching on the eternal predestination of God in verses 3 through 12, we find the fact that the Holy Spirit is described in two important ways relevant to our eternal security. First, we are said to he “sealed” by the Holy Spirit of promise. This term was used in secular documents to refer to the act of placing a seal upon one’s possessions to mark them as one’s own. In this case, the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is God’s way of sealing that person as His own. The believer is shown to he God’s “own property” - His possession.
Paralleled with this is the phrase “who is the down-payment of our inheritance.." Both phrases speak of the same fact. Here the Spirit is described by the Greek term arrabon - a term used in secular documents to refer to guarantee money. The giving of an arrabon contracted the giver to finish the process of payment. In our context, this would refer to the fact that the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is the guarantee on the part of God the Father of completing the work which He has begun in that life (Philippians 1:6). Both phrases are then tied together by the paralleling of “promise" and “inheritance.” These terms are used by Paul of the completion of God’s work of salvation in our lives in the end time.
Hence, we see that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is God’s way of “this person is mine - I have begun of salvation in his/her life, and by placing My Spirit in this life. I am telling all that this person belongs to Me, and I will finish the work I have begun!”
We learn from other discussions of the role of the Spirit in the believer’s life (e.g., Romans 8) that the Spirit empowers and sanctifies the believer as well. So it is clear that each of the Divine Persons is vitally involved in the work of salvation. The Father sovereignly and unilaterally chooses us for salvation. He gives us to the Son, who, in obedience to the Father’s will, saves those who are joined to Him by the Father, and raises us up to eternal life. The Spirit of God is placed in our lives to empower and seal us as God’s own possession. Salvation, then, is of God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Since salvation is of God, and is God’s work, its eternal character is simply the reflection of the nature of its author - God Himself. Each of the three Persons is intimately involved in bringing about the salvation of the elect, and that salvation is eternal and secure.