Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In Memoriam: Our Beloved "Pebbles" 1991 - 2006

Due to some work I’ve had to do and some health issues (I recently had an appendectomy and a hernia repaired), I haven’t had much time to blog. Eventually, I will be a bit more faithful in posting some thoughts that I hope you’ll find interesting, but for now, I break my silence in memory of “Pebbles”, our pet of the past 13 years who passed away last Sunday. Yes, for a guy to be writing this, I feel a bit corny, but what can I say-- I loved the ol' girl!

Needless to say, my kids are devastated as am I. She was a wonderful little munchkin, a bit temperamental at times (I think it was the Pekingese blood), but even on her off days she was a pleasure. We saw the writing on the wall the past few months. She was nearly blind due to glaucoma, was getting a bit slower due to arthritis, had quite a few accidents due to circumstances beyond her control, and eventually couldn’t make it up the smallest flight of stairs. Due to the accidents, I was forced to keep her in the basement at nights, but she would always scratch on the door in the morning, reminding us to let her out. Eventually, the scratches ceased because she couldn’t get up the stairs to the door and we would carry her up and down as she got worse. As time progressed, it became evident that her hind legs were becoming non-functional and she couldn’t take three steps before sitting down. Eventually, it got to the point where she couldn’t use them at all. Yes, the writing was on the wall. It was heartbreaking to see the condition she was in and our denial could only go so far. It culminated last Friday, when we went down to the basement to get her, but found her lying in her urine. This was the first time she couldn’t move enough to urinate. It was then that we realized it was time.

The following Sunday was surreal. I couldn't believe what we were about to do. My daughters accompanied me to the vet, hoping that it was a matter of a shot or two for "Pebs" to be as good as new, but the vet brought us back to reality, stating the obvious, compassionately explaining to us the process of euthanasia. He told us that Pebbles was the equivalent of a 105 year old (doggy years), a dog that has lived way beyond the life expectancy of her breed. To prolong it would mean that she'd only get worse. It would be a pretty selfish thing to put her through any more suffering. We knew it would be best to put her down, but we loved her and wanted her to stay. Yes, the vet was right, there was a whole lot of selfishness involved, but reality bites and we knew what we had to do. Needless to say, my daughters were in tears, but wanted to be present, out of love and support, to see her through her final moments.

(Bethany & Pebbles circa 1996)

The process was very humane—a sodium pentothal injection that would put her to sleep instantaneously. After explaining the process a bit further, they shaved a spot on her leg to locate a vein, gave her the injection and, no sooner then that, our beloved Pebbles was gone. I knew it would be a bit traumatic, and my daughters were sobbing frantically, but they wanted to be there. All I could do was comfort them. My mind wandered back to a time when my kids were “kids”, Pebs was just another one of the kids, and it really saddened me. Pebbles’ death reminded me that my kids really aren't kids anymore. My son, the oldest, is 21 and my daughters are 19, 17, and 15 years of age. I realized that, at that moment, Pebs wasn’t only our pet, but a doorway to a time that has long passed us. A simpler time when life involved running in the park, summers at the pool, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony and Barbie dolls, collecting Beanie Babies (Bongo the Monkey, where are you!!), training wheels on bicycles, Skittles, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and bubblegum flavored ice cream. Wayne Watson's "Watercolour Ponies" was playing in my mind as I looked at Pebbles' body, at my daughter and their tears, but all I could do is caress my babies and cry with them.

When we got home, we all reminisced amongst yet more tears. When she came to live with us, she was about 2 years old, the victim of a “no pets” policy, her former owners moving to a new apartment. Sure, she wasn't the prettiest dog around, the product of an amorous Pekingese and a Pug (at least we think), but man was she a cutie! At least to us she was. “Pebs” fell in love with my daughter Bethany, who was about 6 years old at the time, and the two were instantly inseparable. They were chums, pals in the strictest sense of the word, and it became rare to see one without the other. On those occasions when Pebs got locked out of Bethany’s room, she would scratch on the door until someone let her in. It wasn’t long before Beth would be woken up by a cold nose and a wet tongue. And, if that didn’t work, Pebs would literally sit on her chest until she woke up. Pebbles was very protective and would get defensive if anyone she didn't know got near our kids. I was sure that she would stare danger in the eye and give everything she had to protect our children. She was a brave little thing and would stand up to any dog or anyone, even those who were six times (or more) her weight and size. She was fearless! She was a “jelly dog”, a nickname we gave her because she would get very jealous when there was a hug involved that didn’t include her. It was funny to see my girls hug each other purposely to see the way she would react. She would jump on them, claw away, and wriggle her way into the hug. She was just one of the girls. She was quirky. Other dogs will sit near the dinner table and stare at you pitifully until you gave them a morsel, but Pebs grabbed the bull by the horns—she would put her paws on your lap and bark you into submission. You'd find yourself practically giving your dinner away. Once you gave her the first taste, she'd munch it down and then repeat the process. Sure, it was a little annoying, but an annoyance I would gladly put up with if we could only have her back. When we'd run errands, we'd sometimes take her along for the ride. When we'd return, we'd tap on the car window and she'd attack the glass, barking ferociously at our hands tapping on the windows. She couldn’t stand it, but the faces she would make were hilarious. Pebbles was also very sociable and you would always find her in the room with the most people. She wasn’t embarrassed to get dressed up and didn’t mind the cowboy hat or a Santa Claus costume the girls would put on her. She was never particular about style. She had good instincts and we could let her outside knowing full well that she would always be back. She always knew which house was her home…but now…she’s gone…and it's sad to know she won’t be home anymore.

It’s been only three days since she passed away and “man!” do we miss her. The house seems a bit emptier and we still expect to see her around the corner, sleeping on her favorite patch of carpet, under the computer desk, or in Bethany’s room. We still expect the “jelly dog” to wriggle her way into our hugs. Our dinnertimes? Well, now they're silent. Old habits are hard to break and my son found himself saving some leftovers for her. He forgot she was gone. It’s amazing how these little guys just come into your lives, take over, get you loving them and treating them like royalty and, before you know it, they're gone. Yes, I expect that we will eventually go out and get another little guy. Who knows! It may be a Yorkshire or maybe a Corgi—but for now, we grieve and reminisce about our little Pebbles, who will always remain a part of our lives.

Dearest Lord Jesus, thank you for enriching our lives by providing this wonderful little dog. We will miss her and pray for Your comfort as we grieve, but she will always live in our memories and in our hearts. Again, we thank You and praise You for remembering our family and blessing us with the ability to care for one of Your creatures. Amen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

2 Timothy 1:16-19 - Onesiphorus in Purgatory???

Seems I indirectly started a series on the Scriptures (and assumed “Scripture” verses) which are alleged to support purgatory. I think I will stay on this subject for awhile. I figure that if a refutation of the doctrine is to be made, it starts with the Scriptures Catholics claim imply a purgatory. With this in mind we go to 2 Timothy 1:16-19 which reads:

May the Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me, and he was not ashamed of my chain, but having come to Rome, he more diligently sought and found me. May the Lord give to him to find mercy from the Lord in that Day. And in what things he served in Ephesus, you know very well.

The argument usually goes like this:

From the context, it seems certain that Onesiphorus is dead (This is also the opinion of the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible; vol 3; p 603). Paul praises his Christian friend, Onesiphorus, for his good work, but notice Paul does not presume immediate entrance into heaven for his dear friend (Even if Onesiphorus is not dead, Paul still asks the Lord to be merciful). Why be merciful, if all Christians go straight to heaven? We either have Paul praying for a dead person, or we have him interceding for him for mercy on his judgment day. In either case, purgatory alone can explain such thoughts of Paul. If there is no purgatory, then Christians go straight to heaven, which is the popular Protestant belief. If this is so, then Paul's remarks are totally off base; it would be meaningless to ask mercy for Onesiphorus. Purgatory alone makes the passage coherent (see here Purgatory).

Onesiphorus was very faithful. In spite of Paul’s situation (remember Paul was chained to a soldier), he not only sought him out, but did so diligently. Paul was very thankful for his faithful disciple and bestowed his blessing upon him and his family. The context of the passage doesn’t really reveal if Onesiphorus is alive or dead. Paul could have easily stated the same if Onesiphorus was away or jailed; thus he bestows these blessing upon his family residing in Ephesus. The Roman Catholic priest who wrote this allows for the possibility that Onesiphorus is alive, which is a rarity considering many do not waver and claim he is dead. Yet, Catholic tradition state that Onesiphorus died in 81 A.D. (see here: St. Onesiphorus) and considering that these sources place Paul’s death at around 67 A.D. (see here: St. Paul) this would place Onesiphorus’ death some 14 years AFTER Paul. For those who insist that Onesiphorus is dead in the passage, this would be a case where a Catholic tradition contradicts Catholic apologetics.

Yet, the writer assumes that a purgatory is implied even if Onesiphorus is alive and he bases this on Paul’s prayer for mercy on “that Day.” This is a leap in logic considering that God can grant mercy at the general Judgment without the need for a purgatory. This would entail reading purgatory into the verse. There is no reason to jump this far considering that the fact that God allows us into heaven is based on His mercy. But why did Paul specifically pray for mercy upon Onesiphorus, especially if there was no reason to? It can be gathered from the context of the verse that Paul was merely being reciprocal to the house of Onesiphorus. In other words, he prays for mercy upon Onesiphorus because Onesiphorus had mercy on him with his visits. There is no need to inflict purgatory into the verses when there is nothing which lends to it.

In closing, I must mention that, according to Rome, the majority of us will endure purgatory. Only the saints and those who die in martyrdom will bypass it. Scripture evidently speaks of a heaven and a hell, but for purgatory, where the majority will go, it’s odd that the writers can only muster “implications.” That's quite an oversight. Indeed, it is odd that one could only muster implications considering its importance in the afterlife. Asides from its absence in Scripture, we realize that for almost two centuries there was nothing which even remotely resembled afterlife purgatorial thought, Origen and Clement of Alexandria being the first to indulge a concept of it with its fruition coming in the 12th century.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Let's look at 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Some observations on the verses:

"And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each will be revealed; for the Day will make it known, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire will prove the work of each, what sort it is. If the work of anyone which he built remains, he will receive a reward. If the work of anyone shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss; but he will be saved, but so as through fire" (1Corinthians 3:12-15)

It is claimed that the man in the verse "...will be saved, but so as through fire." According to Roman Catholics, this puts the man squarely in the fire and, thus, the man becomes the object of purification. Of course, common sense tells us that the fire must come into contact with the object in order to cause purification, thus, once again, the man must burn in the fire to which effect causes the purification.

It is further claimed that the man will "suffer loss." Some Roman Catholics will interpret the word "suffer" to mean that the man will endure some sort of extreme discomfort or pain. The word for "suffer loss" is zēmioo which, according to Strong's Concordance, means:

To injure, that is, (reflexively or passively) to experience detriment: - be cast away, receive damage, lose, suffer loss.

So, the next logical step is to determine what the man is suffering the loss of or if the man himself is going through some sort of suffering. Before we can determine this, the verses speak of the fire testing each man's "work"; thus, we know that the "work" passes through the fire. According to vss. 12 and 13, the works are those men build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. In the context of the rest of the chapter, these are the "works" of ministry. Contextually, the incorruptible materials used to build upon the foundation of Christ will endure the fire, but that which is corruptible will burn away. So, it makes perfect sense that the corruptible works of the man will be destroyed by the fire, thus this correlates with how he suffers. He suffers in the same manner one does when he sees his possessions go up in flames. Yet, he isn't the object of the flames. He escapes the fire. This is comparable to the man whose home catches fire. All his possessions, that which he worked for remain inside. He runs out before the flames claim him. When the flames are put out, he salvages what he can. Yet, almost everything is gone with the exception of that which the fire could not burn. He finds his jewels and other valuables, but that which couldn't endure burned away. Yet, as the verse plainly states, he escaped the the fire. He managed to get out. In essence, this analogy is what the passages show clearly, thus to say that it is purgatorial, placing the man as the object of the "purifying" flames, is forcing the text to say something it doesn't say.

One other thing that bears mentioning, there is no salvation in purgatory according to Rome. The soul who goes there is already saved and, whether it be a literal fire or not, must endure a cleansing in purgatory. Yet, the verses show this to be in reverse. When the man escapes the fire this is when he is "saved." According to Rome, the soul in purgatory is already saved, yet must endure the fire and released when satisfaction is attained, the stains of his sin having been purged, but this doesn't exegete well with the passages which would have the the man saved after he endures the fire.

All in all, it's a wonder that folks would actually believe these passages imply a purgatorial cleansing, when the only objects enduring the flames are those which are away or apart from the man and not those which are attached to him. How one sees a purgatory in a passage which seems to be so anti-purgatory is beyond me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Vicious Circle: the "Anti-Catholic"...

The term “anti-Catholic” is used quite often in Catholic apologetics and in a misleading way. Many Catholic apologists, books, and apologetic websites use the word liberally and without looking back. It instills in their listeners and readers the thought that someone hates their church. In many cases, I believe it is done purposely. After all, who would want to listen to an awful “anti-Catholic”?

The word is often used in conjunction with words such as “misrepresents” and “ignorant.” For example:

Anti-Catholics are ignorant and misrepresent what we truly believe.”

Now, the average Catholic will look at rhetoric such as this, formulate a opinion, and react accordingly, usually rejecting what the Protestant has to say even before hearing it. There is no need to hear the "anti-Catholic" because he hates Catholicism and he hates Catholics. The word brings bonding, solidarity, a sense of being, belonging, and commitment.

Admittedly, there are some who may wear their hearts on their sleeves on both sides, Protestant or Catholic, and some may just be spiteful, hateful, ignorant, and misrepresentative people to begin with, but for the majority of Evangelicals involved in apologetics this is simply not true. The majority of us are simply concerned Christians who disagree with Roman Catholic distinctives (the doctrines that define Roman Catholicism) enough to voice our our opinions against these distinctives. We believe that the Gospel is at stake here. One cannot forsake it for the sake of unity, thus we exercise our God-given right to voice our disagreement with doctrines we feel are a part of "another gospel" (see Galatians 1).

The irony in all this is that Catholics are inherently “anti-Protestant” although many don't realize it. Why? Because they are of the position that Protestants are those who left God's true church and this church is the Roman Catholic Church. Now this is a concern because the Catholic desires that Protestantism, however one defines the term, ceases and returns to the ancient Catholic church. Well, Protestants consider themselves "catholic", a part of the universal church, and that's all well and good, but regardless of the antiquity Rome claims, when the Protestant mentions to the Roman Catholic that Rome doesn’t resemble the church of old and that she- because of her distinctives- isn't the church of old, the Catholic regresses and claims that the Protestant is “anti-Catholic” because he tries to take away what from this evident "truth." The Protestant's position is never indulged because he is "ignorant" and "misrepresentative" and those who hear these words walk away from the "anti-Catholic."

Yet still we persist, following what we feel to be Paul's mandate. Trying to bring these issues into the forefront. Yet, when we try to bring them up, the Catholic apologists, books, and websites call us "anti-Catholics"...

... And so it goes...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Purging purgatory from 2 Maccabees

It is a common Roman Catholic argument that 2 Maccabees 12:40-45 implies purgatory in a stronger sense then our common Scriptures. It is further argued that, because Evangelicals don't accept this book as canonical, it doesn't impede what is stated in these passages. It reveals a belief in praying for the dead and the expunging of sin in the afterlife. Thus, it is argued, purgatory would be the sensible outcome of this expiation. I've read the passages over and over again, but cannot find anything which remotely supports anything which implies anything more then the resurrection. Neither have I found any writings of the early church which uses these passages in the way Rome uses it today. So, let us break down these verses and see what it leads to:

2Maccabees 12:40 - Now under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by the law.
Then every man saw that this was the cause wherefore they were slain.

Clearly, those who were slain died in the state of idolatry as the law forbids. Those who were present knew this to be the reason for their deaths. Parallel this to the Catholic teaching on mortal sin which would be comparable to their transgression of the law. Those who die in a state of mortal sin cannot be prayed for. They are lost. Judas' prayer would have been unanswered.

2Maccabees 12:41 - All men therefore praising the Lord, the righteous Judge, who had opened the things that were hid,

God has revealed before all the cause of their deaths. They died because they were idolatrous.

2Maccabees 12:42 - Betook themselves unto prayer, and besought him that the sin committed might wholly be put out of remembrance. Besides, that noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forsomuch as they saw before their eyes the things that came to pass for the sins of those that were slain.

These men prayed that the sin committed might be put out of God’s remembrance. Judas used these men as an example for the people to refrain from sin. He warned them what can happen if they indulge sin. It is unclear if the people prayed that God forget the sin in their midst or for these men.

2Maccabees 12:43 - And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:

Judas took a collection and sent it to Jerusalem so as to offer a sin offering. His intentions were pure and honest and because Judas believed in the resurrection he did so. There is no purgatorial implication here, but only that Judas believed in the resurrection—that the dead will rise again. He was hoping that his men would be raised. There was a Jewish belief that seems to have arisen later where the wicked would be destroyed. It is just as plausible to believe that Judas' believed in annihilation as he would in a purgatory.

2Maccabees 12:44 - For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.

Again, this passage pertains to the resurrection. The dead CAN rise again without inflicting a purgatory into the mix. Also, why must it be purgatory that Judas is implying? What if Judas was of the view that God can forgive and forget sin before the general judgment? So far, the implication Judas leaves us with is that if one dies in sin then one can pray that his sins be forgotten.

2Maccabees 12:45 - And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.

Understand that the book was written by an "epitomizer" of “Jason the Cyrene” and he’s speaking about Judas Maccabeus. From his vantage point, he assumes that Judas is of the thought that these men may have died godly due to their service to God and regardless of their blatant disobedience to the law. Judas believed in the resurrection, thus he prayed for them. The writer assumes this to be a “good and holy thought.” Judas does the “reconciliation” because he believed they may be delivered from their sins. Again, all this is written with the resurrection in mind and all the Catholic can do is inflict “purgatory” and assume that this is what Judas is implying, but there really is no reason to believe this to be the case considering it doesn’t say how this “deliverance” is to take place. Judas could have assumed that God would merely forget their sins due to their servitude sans a purgatory. IOW, there is no reason to believe that Judas, much less the Jewish people, implied or believed in a purgatory, but could have believed that God could forgive sins after death forthright.

In ending, it seems the passages in 2 Maccabees 12 aren’t any more provocative then the common Scripture verses Catholics claim imply a purgatory. Truth is, Catholics cannot uphold this as evidence of a purgatorial belief anymore then the passages they claim from our common Scriptures. Again, there are no early writings which would corroborate that the early church viewed these passages to be purgatorial. Instead, as they do the common Scriptures, they seek implications and read their doctrine back into them.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rocks In My Head: Some thoughts on the Matthean view of Peter

Some Protestants, such as D.A. Carson, agree with the Catholic position that it is Peter who is being called the "Rock" in Matthew 16:18. However, they do not agree with Catholics regarding the charisms and authority they claim comes with the office. In other words, the same Protestants do not agree that a papacy was being established here, complete with successors, universal jurisdiction, infallibility, and all the other charisms Catholics claim for him and the office. Yet, I feel that because the "Rock" argument is essential to the Catholic belief in the papacy, if it can be refuted, then we must refute it. Take the "Rock" away from Peter and you take away a major factor in the Roman Catholic argument for the papacy. With that in mind...

It is argued that Jesus spoke Aramaic, thus there would be no gender difference considering Kepha would be employed. This is mere speculation because the Palestinians of His century would've spoken one or more idioms (Aramaic, Hebrew, and/or Greek) so there is no way of knowing for sure which language Jesus used when He stated the words in Matthew 16:18. It is further argued that Matthew may have been originally written in Aramaic. However, this assumes much considering there are no Aramaic Matthean manuscripts in existence and, until one surfaces (we won't hold our breath), there is no such thing. Yet, what speaks volumes to me is that the Greek Matthean manuscripts we do possess, do not employ any word which would give substance to the Catholic claims for the Aramaic. Why didn't Matthew write "Thou art Petra and upon this Petra I will build my church"? It would be silly to give Peter a feminine name. Is it because Peter was a "dude"? Then why wouldn't Christ say "Thou art Petros and upon this Petros I will build my church"? Whether it be a small stone or a rock, the message wouldn't be lost and Christ would be saying that Peter is who the church is built on. But there is nothing to lead that way. Instead, this divinely inspired Apostle differentiates between the feminine and the masculine form. No, there is nothing in the passage that would lead us to believe that Peter is the Rock. All in all, what this means to me is that Matthean support for Peter as the Rock is basically nonexistent.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Meanwhile, over at Jim's blog...

Jim Swan posted my "Did Jerome Change His Mind on the Apocrypha ?" over at his blog found here. It is a refutal of the Catholic apologists who attempt to recreate Jerome's stance on the Apocryphal books. Jerome is considered a Doctor of the Catholic Church. Throughout history, only a few have been given this title, so to have someone of his stature disagree with the added books of the LXX (Septuagint) is rather embarrassing to some. Give it a read. Hopefully, by God's grace, I did a half-decent job :-)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Are the "Spirits in Prison" Those in Purgatory?

A Roman Catholic asks:

Anyway, please educate me CM, what does it mean when St. Peter wrote that ... Christ preached to the Spirits in prison? For sure our Lord cannot be in Hell, and not in Heaven for why would the Spirits still be in prison? Wouldn't this correspond to a middle way?

My response:

Even though I have answered this in other threads, I would be more than happy to oblige. Let’s look at the verse:

1 Peter 3:18-20For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit; in which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, to disobeying ones, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared (in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water).

In context, immediately one notices that the verses aren’t, in the least, purgatorial and speaks in specifics. Who are these “spirits in prison”? They are the antediluvians, those who disobeyed during the days of Noah as the verse plainly states. There is nothing in the verse that gives credence to the concept of purgatory because it states nothing resembling a purgatory. Now, it states that Christ was put to death, but His “spirit” was made alive. IOW, this event happened in between His crucifixion and resurrection when His spirit descended into Sheol (Hades) and preached the will of God to the spirits there. In Luke 16:20-31, Jesus gives insight into the places of the dead by telling us his story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Dives, if you believe the traditional name of this man). Both went to Sheol (Hades in the Greek), but to two distinct places within Sheol. Lazarus went to what is known as Abraham’s Bosom or “paradise” (Luke 23:43), the place of the OT saints, while Dives went into the hell of the damned. There was a “gulf” between these places where one couldn’t cross to the other side (Luke 16:26). Since Christ is the only way to the Father (John 14:6) the Old Testament saints could not enter the Father’s kingdom until He came, thus they remained in Sheol in a place of “comfort” (Luke 16:25) which was called Abraham’s Bosom (Rome calls this “limbus patrum” or “limbo of the fathers”). When Christ died, He went into Abraham’s Bosom and proclaimed the gospel to the souls there. Just as in Luke 16, those within the hell of the damned could hear Christ proclaim this gospel to the saints in Abraham’s Bosom, and this gospel brought freedom to the saints in the Bosom, but to those in the hell of the damned, it condemns them all the more. Thus, it can be said that Christ preached to the “spirits in prison.” Yet, as you can plainly see, none of these “spirits” were in a purgatory, but the righteous were within Abraham’s Bosom and the wicked were within the hell of the damned. The “spirits” in Abraham’s Bosom were released a few days after the Resurrection where they appeared to many (Matthew 27:52-53).


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fragments of Deceit: The Gospel of Judas

Thursday, ABC provided just another of their perennial anti-Christian fare by presenting a special on the Gospel of Judas, a document purportedly written by Judas, where it is claimed that Christ asked Judas to betray Him. That it was all a part of "the plan." ABC presented this as if it were breaking news, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is disappointing to see ABC continue in this digression, attempting to bring skepticism to the very heart of Christianity while ignoring everyone else. Lord knows what would happen if they attempted to do the same with other central religious figures (Buddha, Mohammed, etc). Yet, James White wrote an excellent article exposing the biased nature of their reporting and shedding light on the document itself, which is a Gnostic work, older then the manuscript found, and one known to the early Christians, in particular, Irenaeus, an early church father, having written of it in the mid to late 2nd century and calling it a work of fiction. Anyway, you can read it here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I would encourage everyone to read Jim Swan's blog. Presently, he has a pretty interesting series on Catholic misperceptions of Luther and Calvin. I think everyone will find it very informative and helpful when addressing the misrepresentations found on many forums throughout the WWW. I've been exposed to them as I know many others have. Take the time to read them and see a real Luther-aficionado at work.

Augustine speaks...

Sorry for not posting the last couple of weeks, but the arm has been very sore and I thought I'd lay off the keyboard for awhile. However, I was inspired after reading this and thought I'd post it:

As regards our writings, which are not a rule of faith or practice, but only a help to edification, we may suppose that they contain some things falling short of the truth in obscure and recondite matters, and that these mistakes may or may not be corrected in subsequent treatises. For we are of those of whom the apostle says: "And if ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." Such writings are read with the right of judgment, and without any obligation to believe. In order to leave room for such profitable discussions of difficult questions, there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles through the successions of bishops and the extension of the Church, and, from a position of lofty supremacy, claims the submission of every faithful and pious mind. If we are perplexed by an apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, The author of this book is mistaken; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood. In the innumerable books that have been written latterly we may sometimes find the same truth as in Scripture, but there is not the same authority. Scripture has a sacredness peculiar to itself. In other books the reader may form his own opinion, and perhaps, from not understanding the writer, may differ from him, and may pronounce in favor of what pleases him, or against what he dislikes. In such cases, a man is at liberty to withhold his belief, unless there is some clear demonstration or some canonical authority to show that the doctrine or statement either must or may be true. But in consequence of the distinctive peculiarity of the sacred writings, we are bound to receive as true whatever the canon shows to have been said by even one prophet, or apostle, or evangelist. Otherwise, not a single page will be left for tim guidance of human fallibility, if contempt for the wholesome authority of the canonical books either puts an end to that authority altogether, or involves it in hopeless confusion (Reply to Faustus the Manicheaen, XI, V).

Augustine is clear that the Scriptures are sufficient in determining doctrine and that one can exercise private judgment in determining its interpretation. He is careful to point out that truth is weighed by the proper exegesis of Scripture, but he recognizes even his own fallibilities and points out that his writings are just a means to edify. Compare this to those who claim that Scripture is subservient to the Church's "infallible" interpretation and not meant for anyone's private judgment.

Just thought you'd like to know...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On the Canon: Part 1...

Seems like I've spent a lot of time dealing with canon issues lately. I don't know why, but it seems that assumptions rule the day when it comes to the issue of the Jews, the canon, their alleged exclusion of the deuterocanonical books, books which were allegedly held as Scripture by the Alexandrian Jews, the issue of when they closed the canon, and so on. No one denies that, in largely Hellenistic times, the Greek LXX (Septuagint) would be the translation of choice, especially for a gospel that was being preached to the Greeks. Allegedly, the Jews of Alexandria included the extra books, those which comprise the Apocrypha (deuterocanonicals if you prefer), within their text, but inclusion into a set of books doesn't necessarily mean that these were held to be divine and inspired. Usually, it is argued, these book were part and parcel of their canon, but it seems they disappeared at Jamnia, some say as a polemic against the Christians.

When the OT Scriptures were translated into the Greek language, it was done by a group of Jewish elders commonly known as "the 70" (by some accounts there were as many as 72), at the request of Ptolemy II. Although some credit them to have translated the entirety of the Old Testament and the other books, it was solely the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) which they translated. There is a legend that these elders translated the books independently of one another, when they compared the translations, they were found to be completely uniform, word for word. I've heard this story from many of the Catholics I've dialogued with, but it is stated under the assumption that the "70" translated the entire Alexandrian text. As time progressed, other books were translated by various translators. The earliest codex of the LXX (Vaticanus) is dated early 4th century and was transcribed by Christians, not Jews. It is obvious that the Apostles quoted from the Greek LXX, but again, there is no real evidence that the text they used included the extra books (from here on referred to as the LXX+). I'm sure they were familiar with the books, but to equate familiarity with canonical acceptance would be assumption at its purest. Paul wasn't hesitant to use pagan sources if they conveyed a certain truth, as he did in Acts 17:28 with the Stoic philosopher Aratus, in 1 Corinthians 15:32 with Menander, and in Titus 1:12 with the poet Epimenides. These citations, by virtue of their inclusion in Scripture, become Scripture. However, their inclusion into Scripture doesn't make the entirety of their writings Scripture as a result.

Then we get to the issue of books being "tossed out" at the so-called council of Jamnia, but this was not a council in the sense of one that comes together to vote, neither did they toss out books. Talmudic sources recorded the debates over canonical books, such as Esther, Ecclesiastes, and others, but there are no records indicating that deuterocanonical books were ever debated, much less "tossed out." Roger Beckwith, in his book The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, mentions the debates over canonical books and makes an excellent point. He states that if history records the debates over books which remained in the canon, how much more it would have recorded debates over books which were taken out. Yet, there are no such records to indicate that this was ever the case. Instead, from Catholics, we find them associating the Jewish absence of recognition towards the Apocryphal books with the debates surrounding the few "canonical" books. They relate the two regardless of the fact that there were no issues regarding the Apocrypha. The canonical books debated remain part and parcel of each of our canons to this very day.

For some funny reason, it seems that the Jews just don't factor in anymore when it comes to the Old Testament canon. At least that's how it seems when speaking to the Catholic apologist. They boldly claim that Protestants are following a Jewish decision rather then a Christian one. Yet, Paul states in Romans 3:2 that the Jews were "...entrusted with the oracles of God." Paul wouldn't have said it unless he was familiar with the books they were familiar with. It would seem that the Jews understood what comprised the divine words of God and Paul gives credence to this. On another note, Jesus seems to imply the extent of the Jewish canon with His words in Luke 11:51. If we go with the Jewish chronological order of the books, this would place Genesis, where Abel's murder is recorded, as the first book and 2 Chronicles, where Zechariah is killed, as the last book of the canon. One particular Catholic argued that, for this to work, the Zechariah spoken of here must be the "son of Barachiah" according to its parallel verse in Matthew 23:35, thus this would be a reference to Zechariah 1:1 and not 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, but this doesn't allow for Christ's words considering the Zechariah of Zechariah 1:1 didn't die in the manner Christ describes. So, why does Matthew associate the "son of Barachiah" with Zechariah? It could be that the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 had a common ancestor who had the name "Barachiah." It wasn't uncommon for the Jews to use the term "son of" with the name of a well-known ancestor, rather then with the paternal. A good example of this would be Jesus, He was known as the "son of Joseph" (Luke 3:23; John 1:45) but He was also known as the "son of David" (Matthew 12:23; Mark 10:47).

To be continued...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wes King...

Many of you are familiar with Christian artist Wes King who was diagnosed with lymphoma. He recently received his last chemo treatment, blood count is up, and is doing a lot better. His treatments have really left him and his family financially unable to keep up, thus the Life is Precious: A Wes King Tribute CD was born. It will be released Tuesday, March 14th, but you can preorder and get 3 bonus tracks. There are various artists involved, amongst the most notable Phil Keaggy, Cheri Keaggy, and Derek Webb (who most of us Reformed folks know), former founding member of the band Caedmon's Call. Wes and his family needs your prayers in these trying times, but please, throw a little works into the mix and buy the CD. Click the link with the album name above for the link. Peace.

"Life is precious, life is sweet
Like the earth beneath my feet
Though I know I'm passing through
I know I belong to You
Life is precious, life is sweet
And this truth makes it complete
Knowing Jesus died for me
Life is precious
Life is precious, life is sweet"
-------Wes King-------

Monday, March 06, 2006


Had a bit of a spill yesterday. I was watching a rerun of "Leave It To Beaver" and, during the commercial, I ran downstairs to grab a slice of Entenmann's Banana Cake (love the stuff). There was a wet spot on the floor that I didn't see and "WHAM!!" I took flight and wound up on my shoulder under the table. Me, being the bozo that I am, didn't bother to go to the hospital and, here I am, almost certain that my shoulder's dislocated. I had a heckuva time trying to sleep last night and I'm popping Tylenol's every few hours. Although I can move everything under the elbow (I can even type), I can't raise my arms past a few inches. Well, I have committed that I will go to the hospital if there is no improvement by tomorrow, but as you've probably assumed, I hate hospitals. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Private Man

The bummer about being a novice at this is that I have to post my picture on my blog in order to use it on my profile. Well, being the private person that I am, I really hate the thought of posting my pic. It just unhinges me that I would have to do this when I want my rugged, handsome features to remain incognito. So, realizing that this really sucks, here I am in all my glory. Ladies, please control yourselves. I'm married with children.

A doctrine that needs a little "purgation" (heh..heh) Part 1

Good ol' Martin Luther really had his work cut out for him. I mean trying to dialogue with a Church about things you just don't dialogue about. The poor guy just had something to say, but alas, poor Martin was running with the wind and stirred Christians into understanding what we had become.

One of the springboards of the Reformation was the issue of indulgences and purgatory. I think I'll give it a tackle as soon as a I get a chance.

Gee...this blogging thing is easier than I thought. Makes me wonder what would've happen if good ol' Martin were here today, blogging his 95 Thesis here on the WWW.

Who links to my website?