The Cost of Materialism (Nihilism)

Hat-tip to EVOLUTION NEWS & SCIENCE TODAY for this.

The role played by the Judeo-Christian tradition in the rise of Western science is a contentious topic — but not an obviously emotional one. Or so you might think. Stephen Meyer spoke on the subject at our most recent Dallas Conference on Science and Faith. The video is up now. In a new presentation using the story of Isaac Newton and his investigation of the nature of gravitation as a case study, Meyer recalls an earlier talk he gave at the Dallas Conference on related themes where a young woman, a member of the video crew, broke down in tears as Steve spoke. She later confessed in a communication to us:

Throughout my college career, professors would constantly lecture that based on the evidence they had provided…there should be no way that anyone in the class could believe in God. They’d argue that the science was proven… and God was hence a myth. I was not equipped to present a valid opposition in a debate. I was desperate to find a commonality between my beliefs and my [scientific] education. [Emphasis added.]

“Desperate” is a remarkable word. How many young people are being educated to believe that thinking scientifically means discarding a relationship with God?

[….]

As these comments suggest, the nihilism that is being sown by materialism is not just an intellectual problem. The desperation that goes with it cuts to the heart of many people. If you have children in college, as I do, it’s a very scary thing. Many thanks to Steve Meyer for tackling the science-versus-faith “warfare” myth directly. One viewer notes that he sent the lecture to his “agnostic brother” who is “really into the sciences.” Good idea.

Bestselling author Stephen Meyer explores how three key Judeo-Christian presuppositions encouraged the rise of modern science, and he explores the influence of faith on the life and work of Sir Isaac Newton. Meyer is Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute and author of Return of the God Hypothesis. This talk was presented at the 2022 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith in January 2022.

Is Martin Luther’s “Plague Advice” Good for Covid?

Personal Statement: J-and-J in May 2020, boosted with Covid, end of December. Raging headache for days. Like a bad cold, slight fever for 2-days, have lost all sense of smell and taste….just in time [/sarcasm] to try out my wife’s Christmas present – an air fryer.

A few thoughts on a Martin Luther quote I have seen used since 2020… first, the quote fashioned by RPT

I am only writing this post because I have just seen a similar Luther quote [albeit mine is more complete] on the Facebook of someone that should know better. One commentor noted:

  • False equivalency, among other logical fallacies. — C.P.

I responded thus (with a slight addition):

Really? A quote about the Black Plague?

The Bubonic plague was a deadly pandemic that wiped out a massive chunk of population in the World during the mid-1300s. In Europe alone the plague wiped out nearly 50% of Europe’s population. Some estimates even claim that Black Death wiped out around two-third of Europe’s population. According to National Geographic the plague killed around 25 million people, almost one-third of Europe’s population (National Geographic). The plague also killed half of London’s population in almost 4 years (Sciencemag). The Bubonic plague is reported to have killed an estimated 75–200 million people (Shipman). Historians report that people died rapidly. The streets were filled with corpses mounted over each other. And the priests were too scared to perform the death rites. Florence, a city of Italy, alone is reported to have 50,000 deaths out of a population of 80,000. The mortality rate was as high as 50% during the Bubonic plague era. (Joshua Mark)

….How serious is Covid-19 exactly? And how will the outcome of the pandemic differ if vaccines were mandatory rather than optional? What additional loss of life can be expected if we do not make vaccination compulsory?

That Covid-19 is serious is beyond question. But let’s look at a few markers to help us evaluate the severity of the risk to humanity.

The deadly Spanish Flu from 1918-1920 is estimated to have killed somewhere between 20-50 million people, or close to 3% of the world’s population. By contrast, Covid-19 has so far killed about 5.3 million people in two years. That represents about 0.07% of the global population.

How deadly is Covid-19? The overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of Covid has been estimated to be between 0.1% and 0.2%. Quoting from an analysis by Professor John P.A. Ioannidis of multiple studies which calculated inferred IFR by seroprevalence data:

“Interestingly, despite their differences in design, execution, and analysis, most studies provide IFR point estimates that are within a relatively narrow range. Seven of the 12 inferred IFRs are in the range 0.07 to 0.20 (corrected IFR of 0.06 to 0.16) which are similar to IFR values of seasonal influenza. Three values are modestly higher (corrected IFR of 0.25-0.40 in Gangelt, Geneva, and Wuhan) and two are modestly lower than this range (corrected IFR of 0.02-0.03 in Kobe and Oise).” (emphasis mine).

For people under 60, the IFR is much lower still. And for vaccinated people, the risk of death from Covid-19 is reduced about ten fold.

For a vaccinated person, the risk of Covid-19 is no worse than seasonal influenza.

And this was before Omicron, the new variant which looks set to become the dominant strain around the world in the coming weeks, and so far appears to cause much milder symptoms and a much lower fatality rate. Why are we still in panic mode?

Over the last two years, there were roughly 120 million all cause deaths. Only 5.3 million of those (less than 5% of all deaths) were Covid-19 deaths. Thanks to the media’s scaremongering, there are many people who seem to think that Covid-19 was the leading cause of death in 2020 and 2021. Based on historical mortality data we can estimate that deaths due to cardiovascular disease probably exceeded 40 million over the last two years, while cancer deaths are likely to have exceeded 20 million. That reality does not nullify or make light of the tragic 5.3 million Covid-19 deaths so far. But it helps to put Covid-19 in perspective. …..

Arguing From The Other Side – Onne Vegter Sets Out The Case Against Mandatory Vaccines (December 2021)

AGAIN, this is in no way parallel to even the 1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic. The city had reached about 50,000 residence, and over the course of the fever 5,000 died. That is 5% of that cities population. Comparing…

  • These unparalleled public health actions were enacted for a virus with an infection mortality rate (IFR) roughly similar to seasonal influenza. Stanford’s John P.A. Ioannidis identified 36 studies (43 estimates) along with an additional 7 preliminary national estimates (50 pieces of data) and concluded that among people <70 years old across the world, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.57% with a median of 0.05% across the different global locations (with a corrected median of 0.04%). AIER

Back in June of 2020 I noted the following:

  • The CDC just came out with a report that should be earth-shattering to the narrative of the political class, yet it will go into the thick pile of vital data and information about the virus that is not getting out to the public. For the first time, the CDC has attempted to offer a real estimate of the overall death rate for COVID-19, and under its most likely scenario, the number is 0.26%. Officials estimate a 0.4% fatality rate among those who are symptomatic and project a 35% rate of asymptomatic cases among those infected*jump, which drops the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) to just 0.26% — almost exactly where Stanford researchers pegged it a month ago.RPT

Keep in mind in March of 2020 I noted that the rates would be from 0.03% to 0.25% — not to brag or anything, but I am in the 23-studies lane-lines of the Stanford study mentioned in June. I just couldn’t differentiate between age groups, but that was assumed as the average age of deaths.

All this is to say is that to compare such an even is at best a non-sequitur. Much like the same person’s comparing

Dr. Sarfati, with whom I agree on most things, shows unfortunately his twisted logic on vaccines — all the while calling those who disagree with his position in the slightest: anti-vaxers.”

Here is his posting:

Anti-vaxers: Is there any other vaccine in history that required three doses in a year and yet still didn’t prevent transmission of the virus it was meant to protect against?

Reality: remember your childhood vaccines which kept you safe and which you are depriving your children from.

Here are the two responses I wish to note:

S.L. – I shouldn’t respond because I am not an ‘anti-vaxxer’ (I am vaccinated with every vaccine my GP recommended), but I’d just like to comment on this vaccine schedule. I (and most people my age) received FAR less vaccinations that suggested on the above or the current schedule in Australia. I received 6 vaccinations in my first five years of life in Germany in 1970: tuberculosis, smallpox, measles, diphtheria, polio and whooping cough. Some of these were boosted ONCE. So apart from the occasional influenza vaccine (which I take when the ‘season’ looks particularly ominous) I have had perhaps 15 shots in my life. My children (born in the early millennium in Australia) had many additional vaccinations but still not as many as required above. We followed the increased schedule but spaced out and separated the MMR vaccines at the suggestion of our pediatrician at the time. We also refused the HPV vaccine for both children at 14. They were not about to be sexually active. We decided (with them) that they can choose to take the HPV vaccine as adults. Both kids (19 and 22) are healthy and have always been. Same with me – though I’ve worked in education all my life i.e.. in contact with many different people every day and exposed to every ‘childhood disease’ outbreak you can think of. I have no compelling reason to accept uncritically that vaccinations requirements should have needed to go up the way they have because someone wants to improve our health. lol.

Here is my response as well… a bit shorter:

ME – I honestly do not know. Are those doses minimized due to age? And a single or two dose be given to adults? To Wit….

To support my observational question…. well, somewhat answer it — the ATLANTIC notes the following:

  • ….10 micrograms of RNA in each Pfizer shot, a third of the 30-microgram recipe that’s given to people 12 and older. Further down the road, pending another set of votes, authorizations, and recommendations, kids 4 and younger will get a wee 3 micrograms, a tenth of what their parents get…..

Historically, variola major [smallpox] has a case-fatality rate of about 30% (FDA | TIME). In the United States, the 1952 polio epidemic became the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of the nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.

(FLASHBACK) Dr. Kelly Victory says delta variant is far, far less lethal

So, even if say 3 adult vaccination shots are needed for such a horrible disease… to require boosters and laws regulating Covid “vaccines,” is not where the evidence leads. The fatality rates and survivability of Covid compared and an argument for vaccinations is moot. Both in the IFR, CFR, and the efficacy of these “vaccines” for Covid are the basis to reject such logic in the OP (original post).

I have also in the past questioned the death rate and other factors are wildly overcounted.

Hospitalization Numbers:

Death Numbers:

Two examples from this post to make a point:

Example One:

A pair of gunshot deaths that counted among COVID fatalities have earned the ire of a county coroner in Colorado. Grand County, in the sparsely-populated (but breathtaking) northwestern quarter of the state, is home to fewer than 15,000 people and has been lucky enough to endure only a handful of deaths related to the Wuhan Virus.

But of those five deaths, County Coroner Brenda Bock says two actually died of gunshot wounds.

Bock sounded furious in her interview with CBS4 News in Denver, and with good reason. Grand County’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, and as Bock told CBS4, “It’s absurd that they would even put that on there.”

“Would you want to go to a county that has really high death numbers?” she asked, presumably rhetorically. “Would you want to go visit that county because they are contagious? You know I might get it, and I could die if all of a sudden one county has a high death count. We don’t have it, and we don’t need those numbers inflated.”

Bock told CBS4 that because the victims had tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days of having been shot, the county classified them as “deaths among cases.”

That’s a curious definition, but one required by the national reporting rules created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….

(PJ-MEDIA)

That is literally 40%!

Example two:

  • Just one more of the many examples I could share is the New York Times getting 40% wrong of their “died from Covid-19 under 30-years old” front page news story. Mmmm, no, they didn’t die of Covid.

Another four-zero. Just sayin.

First Omicron Death (With or Of)

Promises, Promises

I.E., if masks work, why don’t they work? If lockdowns work, why don’t lockdowns work?

I think these stories are related to the non-sequitur nature of the OP… in that it is a false equivalency:

Martin Luther would surely be on the “keep society open” side considering the evidence.

Jehovah? Or Yahweh? J-Dubs Miss The Mark As Usual

(Updated from 4-2010)

The name, “Jehovah,” comes from the mixing of two words. Hebrew has no vowels, so how did we end up with God’s name having them? God’s name in the Hebrew was YHWH, but the Jews took the passage of taking God’s name in vain as applying to even just mentioning His name. So, in public readings, the Jews would use such words as ADONAI (or adhonay), meaning LORD. As translations of the scriptures became common, the merging of the two words (YHWH and adonai) became warranted to allow vowels into the word via the changing dialect.

Therefore, the letters a – o – a were taken from adonai and added to YHWH. The result for the English version of God’s name? Yahovah. or Jehovah. Now, the Jehovah Witness would say that Jehovah is the most correct form of God’s name. Unfortunately for them, it is a crude mixture of two.

  • By the way, what does YHWH mean? It is part of the root verb which means, “to be.” Remember Exodus 3:14 where God said I AM is My name? This “I AM” is from the root verb “to be.” God is basically saying that: He is eternal, beyond even the time-space dimension, worthy to be worshipped, followed, and adored as well as being set apart from every other “being” known to Moses or the world.

Back on track. Lets see what some resources say the correct pronunciation of YHWH is:

Jehovah – “False reading of Hebrew YAHWEH.” Webster’s College Dictionary

Jehovah – “Intended as a transition of Hebrew YAHWEH, the vowel points of Hebrew ADHONAY (my lord) being erroneously substituted for those of YAHWEH; from the fact that in some Hebrew manuscripts the vowel points of ADHONAY (used as a euphemism for YAHWEH) were written under the consonants YHWH of YAHWEH to indicate that ADHONAY was to be substituted in oral reading of YAHWEH. Jehovah is a Christian transliteration of the tetragrammaton long assumed by many Christians [not this one] to be the authentic reproduction of the Hebrew sacred name for God but now recognized to be a late hybrid form never used by6 the Jews.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

Jehovah – “is an erroneous form of the name of the God of Israel.” Encyclopedia Americana

Jehovah – “the pronunciation ‘Jehovah’ is an error resulting among Christians from combining the consonants YHWH with the vowels of ADHONAY.” Encyclopedia Britannica

Jehovah – “false form of the divine name YAHWEH” New Catholic Encyclopedia

Jehovah – “is a mispronunciation of the Hebrew YHWH the name of God. This pronunciation is grammatically impossible. The form ‘Jehovah’ is a philological impossibility” The Jewish Encyclopedia

Jehovah – “an erroneous pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, or four-lettered name of God made up of the Hebrew letters Yod He Vav He. The word ‘Jehovah’ therefore is a misreading for which there is no warrant and which makes no sense in hebrew” The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia

Jehovah – “is an erroneous form of the divine name of the covenant God of Israel” The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia

Jehovah – “is an artificial form” The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible

Jehovah – “the vowels of one word with the consonants of the other were misread as ‘Jehovah’” Encyclopedia International

Jehovah – “is an inaccurate reconstruction of the name of God in the old testament” Merits Student Encyclopedia

Jehovah – “When Christian scholars of Europe first began to study Hebrew, they did not understand what this really meant, and they introduced the hybrid name ‘Jehovah’… The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian church testify that the name was pronounced ‘YAHWEH.’ This is confirmed, at least for the vowel of the first syllable of the name, by the shorter form Yah, which is sometimes used in poetry (e.g. Exodus 15:2)… The personal name of God of Israel is written in the Hebrew Bible with the four consonants YHWH and is referred to as the ‘Tetragrammaton.’ At least until the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. this name was regularly pronounced with its proper vowels, as is clear from the Lachish Letters, written shortly before that date.” Encyclopedia Judaica

Jehovah – “a supreme deity recognized and the only deity worshipped by Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

On page 195 of the Jehovah Witness book, Reasoning from the Scriptures, it reads that the original form was lost, and that no one actually knows the correct pronunciation of the name Yahweh:

As usual, misinformation and misrepresentation. But if page 195 in this book by the Watchtower disagrees with all the available evidence, the Jehovah Witness will clasp to the Watchtower’s understanding of truth.

 

The Crusades | Dr. Clay Jones (Apologetics315)

(Originally posted May, 2011)

APOLOGETICS315 INTERVIEWS Professor Clay Jones in regards to church history and the Crusades. He deals with some myths and corrects many historical errors in understanding. Apologetics315 interviews can be uploaded via i-Tunes for free:

Assistant Professor of Apologetics, Biola University

Dr. Clay Jones (D. Min and M.Div) is Assistant Professor of Apologetics in the graduate program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. For several years, Jones was the host of “Content for Truth,” a weekly, call-in-talk radio program (nationally syndicated through the USA Radio Network), which sought to provide a forum for how to think Christianly about issues of the Bible, theology and culture. He has also authored Prepared Defense, an interactive apologetics software program, along with diverse encyclopedia articles on theodicy, evil, and suffering; journal articles on why God ordered the destruction of the Canaanites, and has a forthcoming book, Why God Allows Evil. Dr. Jones has been on the pastoral staff of two large churches and continues to speak widely on why God allows evil; how to think about the Crusades, Inquisitions, Witch-hunts, etc.; the glory that awaits the Christian in heaven; and related topics. (His blog can be found here: CLAYJONES.NET)

The above are these three combined:

The article and books Dr. Jones recommends are here:

One should also visit my large post on the CRUSADES:

I deal — somewhat — with the beginning of the crusades and their cause in an older post, reproduced below:

THE CRUSADES

This is from a philosophy 101 class my son and I took at a local community college. Francis Collins, one of America’s leading scientists and head of the Genome Project for America – one of the most important scientific programs of our day, stepped outside his expertise and tried to don on a cap of a historian at times. Here is my critique of a portion of Collins book[5] for class:

b. Faith in God is harmful, since “throughout history terrible things have been done in the name of religion” (p. 39).

Another favorite of the skeptic. Here Collins drops the ball in my opinion. I will critique two aspects of his work: i. his understanding of Islam, and ii. His understanding of comparative crimes.

i. Collins is getting out of his genre a bit. If I met him I would probably hand him two books by Robert Spencer. Quickly, before I quote Spencer. Muhammad personally ordered (and partook in) the slitting of 900 throats of men, women, and children. Jesus, when Peter cut off the Roman soldiers ear, told Peter to put the sword away and healed the soldiers ear.

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great re­ligious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been wor­shipped, even with multitudinous idols.

All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their prac­tical policies under change of circumstances.

Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a con­sistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the com­prehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.[6]

Not to mention that just saying the Crusades were wrong is almost jeuvinile. Robert Spencer talks a bit about the lead up to Christendom finally responding — rightly at first, woefully latter.

The Third Crusade (1188-1192). This crusade was proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII in the wake of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Crusader forces of Hattin in 1187. This venture failed to retake Jerusalem, but it did strengthen Outremer, the crusader state that stretched along the coast of the Levant.[7]

The almost Political Correct myth is that the crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world.[8] I can see with quoting Tillich and Bonhoeffer, although worthy men to quote, they are typically favorites of the religious left. Robert Schuller and Desmond Tutu on the back of the cover of Collins first edition are also dead give a ways. So PC thought is entrenched in Collins general outlook on religion and life. Continuing:

The conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood as the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution. A few examples: Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam; and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children.

Brutal subordinations and violence became the rules of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.[9]

A pastor once made mention to me that to paint a picture of the crusaders in a single year in history is like showing photos and video of Hitler hugging children and receiving flowers from them and then showing photos and video of the Allies attacking the German army. It completely forgets what Hitler and Germany had done prior.

While the church withheld the Bible from most, so the misuse of it wasn’t the case as much as a drive for political supremacy – and in fact was the catalyst for the Reformers and pre-Reformers getting copies of it into the laities hand so they could actually read what the Bible said on such matters – the response by the West’s only large organization to the Islamo-Fascism of the day was in fact a net-good. (Actually showing that God can bring good out of the bad.) This response may have been carried out wrongly at times engendering people’s fears and prejudices, however, the Bible played no role in these fears or prejudices. Mainly because the people involved in these atrocities had no access to a Bible. That aside, the totality of the Crusades [good and bad] was a net moral good for our planet and shows God’s providence over the course of history.

Read more: RPT Homosexuality-A Christian Ethic? (FYI, I need to update this post… a lot)

How the Reformation Shaped Your World

Can one man change the world? The life and work of Martin Luther prove the answer to that question is an unqualified, “yes.” Stephen Cornils of the Wartburg Theological Seminary details the rebellion that fractured a centuries-old religion and changed the course of history.

Is Roman Catholic Views of Tradition, Biblical?

This is from a larger debate between Ken Samples and Fr. Mitch Pacwa . I think this intro does it’s due diligence in explaining many of the false views I have heard from people as of late. In other words, one should not define Protestants as believing Sola Scriptura wrongly, and then responding to this false view.

The below is from an excellent book by William Webster:

  • William Webster, Salvation, The Bible, and Roman Catholicism (Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth Trust, 1990), 13-20

AUTHORITATIVE STATEMENTS OF ROMAN CATHOLIC TEACHING ON TRADITION AND THE WORD OF GOD

The Documents of Vatican II

Hence there exist a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit . . . Consequently, it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence. Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, which is committed to the Church.[1]

The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism

59. Where do we find the truths revealed by God?

We find the truths revealed by God in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

60. How does Sacred Scripture compare with Sacred Tradition?

Both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are the inspired word of God, and both are forms of divine revelation. Sacred Scripture is divinely inspired writing, whereas Sacred Tradition is the unwritten word of inspired persons.[2]

89. Why is Sacred Tradition of equal authority with the Bible?

The Bible and Sacred Tradition are of equal authority because they are equally the word of God; both derive from the inspired vision of the ancient prophets, and especially from the infinite wisdom of God incarnate who gave to the apostles what he came down on earth to teach, through them, to all of mankind.[3]

TRADITION AND THE WORD OF GOD – SUMMARY OF NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING

The first issue to be addressed in any discussion of spiritual truth is that of authority. To say something is true or false implies an authoritative standard by which we can make such a judgment. But is there such an authoritative stand­ard by which we can judge whether a particular teaching or system is true or false? The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. That authoritative standard is the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus Christ himself said of the Bible, ‘Thy word is truth’ (Jn. 17:17). In settling issues of spiritual controversy the Lord Jesus always appealed to the Word of God as an authoritative standard by which to judge truth and false­hood.

Mark’s Gospel records an incident in which certain Sad-ducees came to Jesus to question him. The Sadducees were the religious liberals of Jesus’ day and they rejected many of the teachings espoused by the more orthodox sect of the Pharisees. They did not believe in angels or in the resurrec­tion of the dead. A number of these men came to Jesus to ask him a trick question about life after death. Jesus demolished their trick question but went on to say this:

Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God?… But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken (Mk. 12:24,25-27 NASB 1963).

Twice in this passage Christ tells these men they are greatly mistaken in their views. The reason is that they do not understand the Scriptures. He appeals to those Scriptures to correct the false concepts these men held. He points to the Word of God as an authoritative standard by which to judge truth and error. These men are greatly mistaken because the views they hold and the doctrines they teach contradict the Word of God.

Here you have two opposing views of truth. One says there is no resurrection from the dead, the other says there is. How do you determine which is true? You go to the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God in human flesh and therefore whatever he teaches is absolute truth. And according to him the Word of God is the final and authoritative standard by which all claims to truth are to be judged.

This principle obviously has a direct bearing upon the whole issue of tradition. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that tradition as well as the Bible constitutes the revealed Word of God. It teaches that the teaching of the Church Fathers, the Church Councils, and the Traditions of the Church are all ‘one sacred deposit of the Word of God’.

John Hardon S. J. makes the following statements in his Question and Answer Catholic Catechism:

Sacred Tradition is the unwritten word of God that the prophets and apostles received through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and, under His guidance, the Church has handed on to the Christian world.[4]

Both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are the inspired word of God, and both are forms of divine revelation. Sacred Scripture is divinely inspired writing, whereas Sacred Tradition is the unwritten word of in­spired persons.[5]

Jesus Christ had some interesting things to say about tradition:

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ And He answered and said to them, `And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and mother”… But you say, “Whoever shall say to his father or mother, ‘Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God,’ he is not to honor his father or his mother.” And thus you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men”‘ (Matt. 15:1-9).

In a parallel passage in Mark 7:5-13 much of the same teaching by Jesus is recorded. The Pharisees ask why the disciples do not walk according to the tradition of the elders. In response Jesus denounces the scribes and Pharisees and their observance of tradition which is in violation of the Word of God. In effect they have elevated the teachings of men above the Scriptures. The following sums up Jesus’ evaluation:

  1. You teach as doctrines the precepts of men.
  2. Neglecting the commandment of God you hold to the tradition of men.
  3. You set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.
  4. You invalidate the Word of God by your tradition which you have handed down.

We should note that Jesus is not condemning tradition simply because it is tradition. All tradition is not wrong. What he is condemning is the elevating of tradition or the teaching of men to equality with the Word of God. He condemned the scribes and Pharisees for following tradition which violated and invalidated the Word of God. And then he rebuked them for so teaching others.

Tradition is not necessarily wrong, but tradition is not the Word of God, and for tradition to be acceptable to God, it must never contradict or violate the clear teaching of the Bible. All tradition must be judged by the truth of Scripture, including traditions which have their original roots in Scripture. The traditions that the scribes and Pharisees adhered to, but which Jesus denounced, were traditions which had their roots in mistaken interpretations of the Bible.

There is one obvious and definitive test which we can apply to all teaching and tradition to determine if it is true. That test is this: if the tradition or the teaching, even though it arises from the interpretation of a passage of Scripture, contradicts the clear teaching of another portion of Script­ure, then that particular tradition or teaching is incorrect, for Scripture never contradicts Scripture.

The Word of God alone is our final authority, never tradition. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 that ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.’ All Scripture is inspired and is therefore authoritat­ive. And because it is inspired, that is, because it is the Word of a self-consistent God, it will never contradict itself.

Consequently, we can judge whether or not a particular teaching or tradition is true by comparing it to the Word of God. If it is consistent with the Word of God, then we can accept it as truth. However, if it clearly contradicts the teaching of the Bible or makes the Word of God contradict itself, then we know that it is error, and is to be rejected. Otherwise we shall fall into the same condemnation which Jesus uttered against the Pharisees.

One question this whole issue brings up is this: can the true church of God fall into error? The answer to that question, based upon the history of God’s people in the Bible is ‘yes’. It is possible for the church leadership to fall into error and be led astray from the truth. For example, the apostle Peter was publicly rebuked by Paul for the hypocrisy of which he was guilty (Gal. 2:11-14).

On an earlier occasion the apostle Peter was rebuked by Christ because he tried to hinder the Lord from going to the cross. ‘But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”‘ (Matt. 16:23). The Lord Jesus actually addressed Peter as Satan, for Satan was using Peter to try to divert him from the will of God. This all transpired after Peter had been told that he was to be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18-19).

Of course, the example of God’s chosen people, the Jews, during the time of the Lord Jesus himself, shows us clearly that it is possible for the church’s leadership to be deceived. Jesus’ words about tradition were spoken against the scribes and Pharisees, the religious leadership of God’s chosen people and the true church of that day. They had fallen into error and had become so blind that they failed to recognise

Jesus as the Messiah. They fell into the error of misinterpret­ing the Word of God and of elevating tradition and the teachings of the elders to a level equal in authority to the Scriptures, even though those teachings contradicted the Word of God. In addition to this Jesus claimed that the religious leadership of his day, because of their adherence to tradition and misinterpretation of Scripture, were actually responsible for hindering people from entering the kingdom of God: Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered’ (Lk. 11:52). ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in’ (Matt. 23:13). If this was true of the religious leadership of God’s chosen people in the day of Jesus Christ, there is absolutely no guarantee that a church leadership will not fall into error and mislead people.

Were the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day intentionally trying to deceive people? Not necessarily! Many of them were doing what they sincerely felt was right. But they were wrong and consequently they were deceiving people and leading them astray. Sincerity is no guarantee against error. A man can be sincerely wrong. In the final analysis, as Christ taught, the Word of God is the final authority for determin­ing what is truth and what is error. Any teaching which contradicts the Word of God must be rejected: ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them’ (Is. 8:20, A.V.).

Luke records that when Paul came to Berea, and preached the gospel in the local Jewish synagogue, the Bereans ‘were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so’ (Acts 17:11). The Bereans compared Paul’s doctrines with the Word of God to see if his teachings were consistent with the teachings of the Word of God. Only then would they accept the gospel he was preaching. They knew that any teaching that truly originates from God would not contradict what he had already revealed in his Word.

It is in this spirit that we shall examine the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church….

[1] Walter M. Abbot S.J., The Documents of Vatican II (Westchester, IL: Follett Publishing Co., 1966), 177.

[2] John A. Hardon, S.J., The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (New York, NY: Image Books, Doubleday, 1981), 37.

[3] Ibid., 41.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 41.

Is Christianity Bad News for Women? (Amy Orr-Ewing)

Center for Public Christianity (2017) – Amy Orr-Ewing delivers the 2017 Richard Johnson Lecture at NSW Parliament House.

Q & A

A Man Named Martin Luther – The Movement

Lutheran Hour Ministries (2017) – From Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, God was at work in the Reformation. Fierce debates over Scripture, church doctrine, and late medieval church practice led to theological positions articulating salvation as God’s grace in action, with man being left to add nothing to his own salvation. In A Man Named Martin – Part 3: The Movement, viewers will see how the Reformation transformed European society and, eventually, left a profound impression around the globe.

The “Office” of Marriage and Love in the Reformation

The reformers’ early preoccupation with marriage was driven, in part, by their jurisprudence. The starting assumption of the budding Lutheran theories of law, society, and politics was that the earthly king­dom was governed by the three natural estates of household, Church, and state. Hausvater, Gottesvater, and Landesvater; paterfamilias, patertheologicus, and patapofiticus— these were the three natural offices through which God re­vealed Himself and reflected His authority in the world. These three offices and orders stood equal before God and before each other. Each was called to discharge essential tasks in the earthly kingdom without impediment or interference from the other. The reform of marriage, therefore, was as important as the reform of the Church and the state. Indeed, marital reform was even more urgent, for the marital house­hold was, in the reformers’ view, the “oldest,” “most primal,” and “most essential” of the three estates, yet the most deprecated and subordinated of the three. Marriage is the “mother of all earthly laws,” Luther wrote, and the source from which the Church, the state, and other earthly insti­tutions flowed. “God has most richly blessed this estate above all others, and in addition, has bestowed on it and wrapped up in it everything in the world, to the end that this estate might be well and richly provided for. Married life therefore is no jest or presumption; it is an excellent thing and a matter of divine seriousness.”

The reformers’ early preoccupation with marriage was driven, in part, by their politics. A number of early leaders of the Reformation faced aggressive prosecution by the Catholic Church and its political allies for violation of the canon law of marriage and celibacy. Among the earliest Protestant leaders were ex-priests and ex-monastics who had forsaken their orders and vows, and often married shortly thereafter. Indeed, one of the acts of solidarity with the new Protestant cause was to marry or divorce in open violation of the canon law and in defiance of a bishop’s instructions. This was not just an instance of crime and disobedience. It was an outright scandal, particularly when an ex-monk such as Brother Martin Luther married an ex-nun such as Sister Katherine von Bora —a prima facie case of spiritual incest As Catholic Church courts began to prosecute these canon law offenses, Protestant theologians and jurists rose to the defense of their co-religionists, producing a welter of briefs, letters, sermons, and pamphlets that denounced traditional norms and pronounced a new theology of marriage.

Evangelical theologians treated marriage not as a sacramental insti­tution of the heavenly kingdom, but as a social estate of the earthly kingdom. Marriage was a natural institution that served the goods and goals of mutual love and support of husband and wife, procreation and nurture of children, and mutual protection of spouses from sexual sin. All adults, preachers and others alike, should pursue the calling of marriage, for all were in need of the comforts of marital love and of protection from sexual sin. When properly structured and governed, the marital house­hold served as a model of authority charity, and pedagogy in the earthly kingdom and as a vital instrument for the reform of Church, state, and society. Parents served as “bishops” to their children. Siblings served as priests to each other. The household altogether — particularly the Chris­tian household of the married minister — was a source of “evangelical impulses” in society.

Though divinely created and spiritually edifying, however, marriage and the family remained a social estate of the earthly kingdom. All parties could partake of this institution, regardless of their faith. Though subject to divine law and clerical counseling, marriage and family life came within the ,jurisdiction of the magistrate, not the cleric; of the civil law, not the canon law. The magistrate, as God’s vice-regent of the earthly kingdom, was to set the laws for marriage formation, maintenance, and dissolution; child custody, care, and control; family property, inheritance, and commerce.

Political leaders rapidly translated this new Protestant gospel into civil law. Just as the civil act of marriage often came to signal a person’s conversion to Protestantism, so the Civil Marriage Act came to symbol­ize a political community’s acceptance of the new Evangelical theology. Political leaders were quick to establish comprehensive new marriage laws for their polities, sometimes building on late medieval civil laws that had already controlled some aspects of this institution. The first reformation ordinances on marriage and family life were promulgated in 1522. More than sixty such laws were on the books by the time of Luther’s death in 1546. The number of new marriage laws more than doubled again in the second half of the sixteenth century in Evangelical portions of Germany. Collectively, these new Evangelical marriage laws: (1) shifted primary marital jurisdiction from the Church to the state; (2) strongly encouraged the marriage of clergy; (3) denied that celibacy, virginity, and monasticism were superior callings to marriage; (4) denied the sacramentality of marriage and the religious tests and impediments traditionally imposed on its participants; (5) modified the doctrine of consent to betrothal and marriage, and required the participation of parents, peers, priests, and political officials in the process of marriage formation; (6) sharply curtailed the number of impediments to betrothal and putative marriages; and (7) introduced divorce, in the modern sense, on proof of adultery, malicious desertion, and other faults, with a subse­quent right to remarriage at least for the innocent party. These changes eventually brought profound and permanent change to the life, lore, and law of marriage in Evangelical Germany.

John Witte, Jr., Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 200-202.


God’s Ideal Should Be Mine


Persons should accept marriage not only as a duty that served society, but also as a remedy against sexual sin. Since the fall into sin, lust has pervaded the conscience of every person, the Lutheran reformers insisted. Marriage has become an absolute necessity of sinful humanity, for without it, the person’s distorted sexuality becomes a force capable of overthrowing the most devout conscience. A person is enticed by his or her own nature to prostitution, masturbation, voyeurism, homosexuality, and sundry other sinful acts. The gift of marriage, Luther wrote, should be declined only by those who have received God’s gift of continence. “Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God.” The Apostle Paul has identified this group as the permanently impotent and the eunuchs; few others can claim such a unique gift.

This understanding of the created origin and purpose of marriage un-dergirded the reformers’ bitter attack on celibacy and monasticism. To require celibacy of clerics, monks, and nuns was beyond the authority of the church and ultimately a source of great sin. Celibacy was for God to give, not for the church to require. It was for each individual, not for the church, to decide whether he or she had received this gift. By demanding monastic vows of chastity and clerical vows of celibacy, the church was seen to be intruding on Christian freedom and violating scripture, nature, and common sense. By institutionalizing and encouraging celibacy the church was seen to prey on the immature and the uncertain. By holding out food, shelter, security, and opportunity, the monasteries enticed poor and needy parents to condemn their children to celibate monasticism. Mandatory celibacy, Luther taught, was hardly a prerequisite to true service of God. Instead, it led to “great whoredom and all manner of fleshly impurity and… hearts filled with thoughts of women day and night.” For the consciences of Christians and non-Christians alike are infused with lust, and a life of celibacy and monasticism only heightens the temptation.

John Witte, Jr., From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 50.

Hank Hanegraaff’s Conversion (Friel, White, Craig)

(A good quick summation of Orthodoxy can be found here at GOT QUESTIONS) Here is WRETCHED’s take:

(Below) A two hour program today playing nearly 50 minutes worth of comments (ok, at 1.2x speed!) by Hank Hanegraaff relating to his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy and asking the simple question: can an Eastern Orthodox believer function as the Bible Answer Man? Important issues to be sure!

I have to include this discussion by William Lane Craig on the matter: