My Issues with Hermeneutics


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Introduction

        It is not mi intention, through this post, to dismiss the importance of Hermeneutics. Klein states that we are “in an era of increasing biblical illiteracy…”[1] and I can’t agree with him more. Furthermore, the Bible tells us “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 – NASB) I want to make it clear that I am not against any system that assists in giving us organized, structured and disciplined methods when studying and interpreting the Scripture. However, as I attempt to answer a few basic questions for this post, I will also, with great humility, present issues that deeply concerned me.

A Definition of Hermeneutics

           Hermeneutics describes the task of explaining the meaning of Scripture. The word              derives from the Greek verb hermeneuo “to explain or to translate,” while the                                    noun hermeneia means “interpretation” or “translations.”[2]

         Klein simplified the term hermeneutic by describing it as “The art and science of interpretation.”[3] Klein list several reasons to justify the need for hermeneutics. I do agree with Klein when he states, “the interpreter’s personal freedom has come with considerable risk of bias and distortion.”[4] However, bias and distortion has been around from the very beginning, when Satan tempted and deceived Eve in the Garden. Personal agendas have caused a lot of physical and theological murders through the pages of church history. Taking Bible verses out of context to conveniently fit a particular mindset continues to be a problem today and will continue to be so until the return of our Lord. It comes with the territory! In this regard I see the usefulness of Hermeneutics to be able to quickly disregard obvious atrocities when dealing with Bible interpretation. However, Klein gives other reasons to justify the need for hermeneutics that left me, either standing for the truth or, in need of a great deal of clarification.

         Klein stated, “The Bible is God’s Word, yet it has come to us through human means.”[5] This is a great talking point for an atheist or humanist who stand against the divine nature of Scripture. It implies imperfection in the way God delivered his Word to us. Klein added even more talking points to the atheist and humanist by stating, “The divine message must be clear, yet many passages seem all too ambiguous.”[6] Lastly, and this seems to be a theme through this initial reading, Klein stated that, “We acknowledge the crucial role of the Holy Spirit, yet scholarship is surely necessary to understand what the Spirit has inspired.”[7] It implies that even as the Holy Spirit plays a “crucial role”, He is not powerful enough to help us with the understanding of the Scripture that HE HIMSELF inspired. (2 Timothy 3:16 / 2 Peter 1:21) Later, Klein made his point crystal clear regarding this topic as he describes how the illumination of the Holy Spirit helps believers understand Scripture by giving us “the ability to apprehend, not comprehend, the meaning.”[8] What an amazing arrogant point of view! It is the Holy Ghost who guide us into the truth according to John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (NASB) Have we forgotten that God has given us the ability to know His voice and to follow him? (John 10:27) Professor Hanko stole the words out of my mouth when he states,

    From a certain point of view, the child of God needs no instruction in         Hermeneutics. If Hermeneutics is the science of biblical interpretation, it follows            from the very nature of Scripture itself that no formal instruction is necessary for a regenerated saint to be able to understand what God is saying in His Word.    Countless saints over the centuries have read the Word of God without ever           knowing the first thing about Hermeneutics, without even having heard the word. They have read Scripture, understood what God was saying to them with stark     clarity, and have taken that Word into their hearts.

      It is true that we teach Hermeneutics in Seminary as a required course for prospective ministers of the gospel. Students are obligated to learn the principles of biblical interpretation and to apply them to Scripture. But if they, with their  acquired learning, think that by these studies they have gained an edge on God’s  people, they are sadly mistaken.[9]

The importance of the following components as we search for effective ways to properly interpret Scripture

        If I focus on 1) the role of the writters of the text, I find myself handicap as, obviously, all of the writers of Scripture are long-gone. If I focus on, 2) the role of the original readers of the text, I run into two problems, a) they are also long-gone and b) I can be a victim of their own bias and personal agendas. Lastly, if I focus on, 3) the role of the interpreter then the focus is on me and that can’t be good either. I find it intellectually useful to study the cultures[10] of the day, to dig deep into the language differences[11] and so on, but at the end of the day what is the ultimate purpose of Scripture? Whose ultimate responsibility is to show us that purpose? And who will truly help us to live out that purpose?

What kind of impact does this particular participant provide on an attempt to discover the meaning of a text?

        For the sake of this post I will focus on the author of the text. At first, the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) gave me a great deal of hope. TIC is an attempt to look at Scripture in its context, the corporate and personal view of the Scripture by what was establish in the past and even what is established as truth in the present.[12] However, as Klein points out, “The danger is that TIS puts the authority of a text of the Bible not in the divine text itself but in how the church father’s, or creed, or some church community understands the meaning of the text.”[13] Therefor I see, in this initial reading of Klein, a lot of Catholic influences; the need for a “priest” to tells us what the Scripture means.

        The Bible is very clear about our need to deny ourselves. That is dying to our ideas, to our culture, to the way we are raise, to what is popular and even to what we like and everything that is against the culture of the Bible. The more we put ourselves in Scripture the more bad theology and bad interpretations will occur. The idea is for us to die to self, to come to the Lord naked, without any ideas or agendas and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

How important is this component?

        To know about the author has an intellectual value; who is he, his time, the culture that surrounded him, the political atmosphere, some interesting contemporaries, etc. I suppose, in a minuscular way, knowing these things, could help us understand the Scripture a little better. However, I can’t place my hope in hermeneutics as a way to properly interpret Scripture. If that is so, then any unbeliever with the ability to read will be able to use hermeneutical tools in order to be able to understand Scripture and, we know, that is biblically inaccurate. The lost cannot see the reality of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is the power of the Holy Ghost that is able to navigate through all the geographical distance, cultural distance, language distance, bias and selfish agendas through the ages, etc. etc. etc.

Conclusion

      Lastly and in conclusion, I refuse to subscribe to the central idea of what the following quote is trying to communicate regarding the Bible; that it “was originally written to somebody else…”[14] Klein expanded by stating that, “Though the Bible originates through human agents in the normal circumstances of life, it is fundamentally God’s word to his people, it has an “eternal relevance.” The Bible DOES NOT ORIGINATE through human agents. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NASB). 2 Peter 1:20-21 explained this truth even further as he states, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (NASB)

         Human agents were not the authors of Scripture, God is. Human agents simply wrote what the Spirit of God uttered. When it comes down to interpretations, human agents can definitely assist, God has indeed given us teachers (Ephesians 4:11), but it is only God who is able to transform, to give us revelation of Scripture and cause us to grow (1 Corinthians 3:7). Through God and only through HIM we are able to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord. (2 Peter 3:18)

Bibliography

Klein, W.W., C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition. Zondervan, 2017.

Richards, Randolph E., O’Brien, Brandon J. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes.       Inter Varsity Press, 2012.

Hanko, Herman C. Issues in Hermeneutics. Protestant Reformed Theological Journals: 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submit your threads by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday and your replies by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

 

[1] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017), 33

[2] Ibid. 39, 40

       [3] Ibid. 42

[4] Ibid. 39

[5] Ibid. 39

[6] Ibid. 39

[7] Ibid. 39

[8] Ibid. 41

[9] Herman C. Hanko, Issues in Hermeneutics, (Protestant Reformed Theological Journals: 1990), 2.

[10] E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes. (Downer’s Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2012), 15.

[11] Ibid. 70 – 72

[12] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. 50

[13] Ibid. 50, 51

Misleading Definitions of Grace


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Grace is the maximum expression of God’s love, His ultimate gift, the greatest manifestation of power and the most effective instrument of success. Grace is not the enemy of the law, but the fulfillment of it. Did grace not come through Jesus?[1] Is not Jesus the fulfillment of the law? In Matthew 5:17 Jesus tells us, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (KJV)

         For those who speak against the law as if the law is some kind of disease, you are dangerously mistaken. The law is God’s standard and his standard has not change.[2]

         The law proved the point that none of us is able to follow it. The law pointed straight at Jesus as our only Savior.[3] I have been reading and watching videos in social media with absolutely incorrect interpretations and definitions of grace. Boy, they sound good! But there is one major problem; the message is dangerously incomplete.

         If you listen to these folks, they make it sound as if folks under grace are exempts from any works. Let me make this clear, grace is not a reason or an excuse for us to be lazy, it is indeed the reason why we do good works.

         We do not do these works to gain or retain salvation; we do these works because it is what the Word tells us to do. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (KJV)

         This theme of good works and of being a blessing in this world, is not a new one; it is clearly established from the very beginning with Abraham. God raised the nation of Israel to be a blessing to the world.[4] So, if the Old Testament establishes God’s people as the instrument of blessing in the world, how much more, we, New Testament folks, ought to be a blessing, as we are partakers of a greater promise?[5]

         To these new evangelicals of grace I say, do not read beyond the Word of God in trying to find new definitions of biblical concepts. What you are doing is not new, Paul told the Corinthians Church, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” First Corinthians 4:6 (KJV)

         I heard a man saying, “Grace is more than an unmerited favor.” Does this man realize that grace is a word that already has an established Greek definition? John 1:17 tells us, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (KJV) The word grace here is the Greek Word cháris, meaning: “To rejoice. Grace, particularly that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude. A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor.”[6]

         Notice that, in listening to these Neoevangelicals, they say a lot of things with very little or no Scripture and when they do use Scripture, for the most part, is used out of context. Some, not all, are borderline inclusionist; that is the belief that everybody is going to make it to heaven.

         When you see folks going beyond the original meaning of the words, ignoring and minimizing Scripture and teaching private interpretations of Scripture, run from them.[7] In order for us to be Jesus’ disciples we must remain in His Word.[8] In other words, the Bible is the place where we find and confirm truth, not in Dr. Joe Blow’s fancy and private interpretations.

         The truth is that we as Christians are not called by God to be lazy; we are actually called to do many things; make disciples, teach Jesus commands, care for the poor, the widows, minister to those in prison and in hospitals and the list goes on and on. This idea that we are just floating around in this world doing nothing, is not biblical. We as Christians have so much to do that indeed, without God’s grace we won’t be able to accomplish anything.

         As Christians we should be equipping the saints to the work of the ministry according to Ephesians 4:12-16. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). As the direct result of all these lazy, hippie gospel promoters and these misleading definitions of grace, we have many saints walking with dead faith.

         We will be judge by Jesus for the things we did and did not do while on this earth.[9] Doing something is not a recommendation, is a biblical mandate. So I conclude with these words: Get up your BUTT and DO Something for GOD!

Biblical Reference:

[1] John 1:17

[2] Matthew 5:18

[3] Galatians 3:15-22

[4] Genesis 22:18

[5] Hebrews 8:6

[6] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[7] 2 Peter 1:20

[8] John 8:31

[9] 2 Corinthians 5:10

The New Testament Canon: Manmade or Divine?


NT Canon

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY

The New Testament Canon:

Manmade or Divine?

Submitted to Dr. John M. Landers, in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the completion of the course

CHHI 520 DO6

History of Christianity 1

by

Angel Casiano

May 2016

Table of Contents

 Introduction…………………………………3

The New Testament is Real…………..……4

The Archeological Voice……………….…….4

The Announcement of a New Covenant….5

Where do we Look First? ……………………7

Apostolic Authority and Antiquity…………..8

Catholicity……………………………………..11

Orthodoxy………………………………………12

The Rule of Faith……………………………….12

Conclusion………………………………………14

Bibliography…………………………………….15

 Introduction

            There is much argument as to the validity of the Canon in regards to whether or not it was man-made or divinely inspired. There has also been, among the catholic community, a horrendous degree of heresy with a foundation of contradictions in regards to the Canon.

            Though much of the debates over this topic may end in emotional battles or webs of fallacies, the main intent for this paper is to establish that the canon of the New Testament is not a man-made activity, but indeed a divine one. Skeptics and Catholics alike embrace a man-made approach to the Canon while disregarding basic criterion. Even as this paper is addressing the skeptics by making an effort to establish an apologetic argument concerning the authenticity of the New Testament, an effort is also made to do apologetics from within. This paper will make an effort to show that God is not only the fountain of inspiration for the Scriptures,[1] but also the force behind the establishment of his own Word.

The New Testament is Real

The Archeological Voice

            Without necessarily dealing with which books should or should not be in the Bible, archeology gives us overwhelming evidence that a manuscript called the New Testament existed in antiquity. Skeptics may argue that they’re more or less books, that some books were left out, that there are secret books still out there or whatever the new argument is. However, any person with some basic common sense cannot intelligently argue against the reality of the New Testament. So before we enter into the canonical discussion, lets listen to the archeological voice.

            Discoveries ranging from evidence for the Tower of Babel, to Exodus, to the           Walls of Jericho, all the way to the tombs of contemporaries of St. Paul, have greatly enhanced the believability of the Bible.[2] 

            The Institute for Creation Research reports that the evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament is far greater than any other document of antiquity.[3] For example,

            The New Testament was written in first century A.D. There are some 20,000        manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 100 years after the original. In contrast:

  • Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written in the first century B.C. There are only 10 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,000 years after the original.
  • Aristotle’s Poetics was written in the fourth century B.C. There are only 5 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have     was copied 1,400 years after the original.[4]

            The following table gives us an impressive look at how solid the archeological evidence of the New Testament is compared to other ancient writings. Pay attention to when the book was written, the earliest copy from the original date and the time span and how many manuscripts were written during that time.

Manuscript Evidence for Ancient Writings[5]

Author Written Earliest Copy Time Span # Mss.
Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,000 yrs 10
Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,200 yrs 7
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,300 yrs 8
Tacitus 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1,000 yrs 20
Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D. 800 yrs 8
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643
New Testament 40-100 A.D. 125 A.D. 25-50 yrs 24,000

There is no other document written in antiquity that can come close to the New Testament in terms of authenticity. Notice that the New Testament not only has the shortest time span between the original manuscripts and the first copy, but there were also far more copies made in that time period. The more copies made in the shortest period of time, especially with the fact that the printing press wasn’t invented yet, the greater the validity and accuracy.

            The number of New Testament copies is over thirty times the number of all the documents of antiquity combined. It is astonishing how some skeptics can completely refute any possibility as to the validity of the New Testament, and yet accept the validity of other writings with far less archeological evidence. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, for we know that Satan is the god of this world’s system![6]

The Announcement of a New Covenant

            The New Testament did not appear out of nowhere. The Old Testament clearly announces the establishment of the New Testament[7]. Jeremiah 31:31 states,

            “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant        with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the           covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a   husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make  with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My  people.” (NKJV)

            The most important aspect of these verses to gather, as far as the Canon of the New Testament is concern, is a very distinct link between the Covenants. Though often times the New and Old Testaments are seen as two different books, the Old Testament prophesies unify the texts. Jesus is the ultimate link between the Old and New Testament, as He is fulfilling the climax of the New Testament by quoting the Old. The Old Testament prophesies of the New Testament are set at approximately 600 years before the New Testament manuscript was written through the Prophet Jeremiah!

            Every single word from Genesis to Revelation was already in existence. This is not just a book; the Bible represents the very essence of the character of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (KJV) The Logos, we can say, is beyond our time and beyond our space.

            The reality is that many Christians do not know the first thing about the canon of Scripture; however they don’t need to know to believe, they know it by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are so overwhelmingly true for the believer because it’s far beyond any other book; it is the heart of God, the Creator of heaven and earth. This will never be enough explanation for any skeptic, but we must also remember that God has made his existence obvious to every human being according to Romans 1:18-20[8]. In reality we are not dealing with skeptics and atheists, we are dealing with suppressors of God’s truth.

Where Do We Look First

            The Bible states in Revelation 22:19, “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (NKJV) Paul declares in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (NKJV)

            Changing, twisting, adding and taking away from God’s truth are satanic strategies that can be clearly seen through church history. Satan has done a remarkable job in planting seeds of doubt concerning the reliability of God’s Word. Satan told Eve “…You will not surely die,”[9] a statement that totally contradicted God’s instructions. The Catholic Church and its traditions is not the place we should be looking first for canonical answers. As a matter of fact we should not be looking at the catholic Church for any Biblical answer; that is because they have not only added to the Scriptures itself, they have also taken the liberty of establishing other divinely inspired elements.

            Roman Catholicism denies the ultimate authority of Scriptures alone (sola scriptura) and has consequently adopted the well-known trifold authority structure      that includes Scripture, tradition and magisterium (The church’s teaching authority). The key component in this trifold authority is the Magisterium itself, which authority teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily    manifested in the popes and his bishops.[10]

            The idea that something else outside of Scripture is divine is in fact the greatest obstacle against good theology and sound doctrine. Traditions and the teachings of the church should not be ignored; they are extremely important; however those traditions and teachings must be based on God’s Word. God’s Word represents the absolute truth. These liberties taking by the Catholic Church is what led to so many lies added to God’s Word; purgatory, the praying to dead saints, praying and the veneration of Virgin Mary and the list goes on and on. There is no telling what Pope Francis will come up with next.

            In a society that increasingly rejects absolutes, where everybody is free to have their own version of truth, it is vital that the Word of God be defended as the document that carries the acceptable dogmas for life given by God through the teachings of what is righteous according to God’s standard, not in accordance to an open and never ending idea of what is right and what is wrong according to liberalism.

            Looking at the Catholic Church’s definitions of their own Canon, it is easy to see their lack of respect for sound doctrine, their theological blindness and an arrogance that precipitated their falling away from the basic truths of Scriptures. In the Catholic Church’s arrogant attempt to define the canon, “the canon has so much become the church’s book that it is unable to be God’s book.”[11]

            In a serious study concerning the canon, the Catholic Church should not be taken seriously. In finding any answer to the canon we must find true orthodoxy. That orthodoxy can only be found through the original apostles.

Apostolic Authority and Antiquity

            The canon of the New Testament seems to be a complicated thing; after all, there were many books that claimed canonicity. However, when looking deeply at the matter, it was not a hard task. The focus of the canon is found in the apostles, not in the church’s fathers, not in Marcion’s sickly ideas of the canon, and not in the arrogance of the Catholic or any other church. To be able to identify the canon of the New Testament, we must look first at who did the writing. Ephesians 2:20 tell us, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,” (NKJV).

            Antiquity gave us a strong tool to begin to identify the authenticity of the New Testament canon. This meant that in order for any writing to be considered a part of the canon, it needed to have been written by an apostle or by a direct associate of an apostle.[12] Any writings after 100 AD were automatically rejected.

            As we will see, authority and antiquity are not the only criterion to determine the canon of the New Testament; but they must be the first ones. There were apostolic fathers and disciples of the original apostles that were indeed men of integrity and whose contributions were phenomenal. Nevertheless, if we engage in trying to confirm the canon based on what the fathers of the church quoted, then some will pick and chose who they consider fathers of the church; after all, Second Timothy 4:3 gives us a very human characteristic, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;” (NKJV) Very clearly this means that we can get lost in quoting men with the objective of feeding confirmation for our selfish agendas.

            Did the apostles know they were writing the heart of God? Kruger speaks of Apostolic Self-Awareness.[13] Scriptures such as, 2 Peter 3:15-16, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved     brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard   to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction,  as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (NKJV)

            Notice that Peter was aware that Paul was writing Scripture. Also notice the uniformity of Scripture, “…in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things…” The Scripture has no contradictions! Lastly, notice at the end of this portion of Scripture that the twisting of God’s Word is not new. Skeptics continue to present suppose contradictions of Scripture that when looked at further are clearly not.

            First Thessalonians 2:13 tells us, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you  who believe.” (NKJV)

            People still have the choice today to look at this book as words from men or words from God. God has given us that choice. Nevertheless there is a promise on this verse that this book will effectively work in the lives of he who believes.

            There are other verses that are able to demonstrate that Apostolic Self- Awareness that Kruger is telling us about, I want to end this portion with these verses out of First Corinthians 14:37-38, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (NKJV)

            Again, expanding from some of the points I made earlier; Paul made it very obvious that if somebody is to be considered a true prophet or a spiritual person (Born Again Believer), they would have no problem recognizing God’s Word. Not recognizing God’s Word as true is indeed a sign that we are dealing with unbelievers who are blinded to God’s truth according to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.[14]

Catholicity

            Catholicity has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, as we know it: this term simply means universal. However, we must also remember that even the Catholic Church recognizes the same 27 books of the New Testament as the Protestants recognize.

            Obviously, as we stated before, the Catholic Church has gone beyond the Scriptures and continue to make claims of other sources for divinely inspired material. F. F. Bruce made the point, concerning the book of Hebrews that, “…the Roman Church ultimately consented to receive Hebrews as canonical so as not to be out of step with the rest of the orthodox Christendom.”[15]

            As Catholicity is used as criterion, the idea of secret and lost books is thrown out the window. The Scripture was not to be in the dark, but out in the open. “A work which enjoyed only local recognition was not likely to be acknowledged as part of the canon of the Catholic Scripture.”[16] It is said, that if all of the copies of the New Testament were burned, we will still be able reconstruct the New Testament almost in its entirety, based on the many quotes of the first and second century apostolic fathers and Christian writers.

Orthodoxy

The Rule of Faith

            Each of the early churches had a Rule of Faith. This was a set of basic doctrines     learned and confessed at baptism, somewhat centered around a confession of the         Trinity (Tertullian, Against Praxeas 11).[17]

            The point that I want to make here, and it is perhaps the strongest point I would like to make, is that after we deal with the antiquity of a book written during the apostolic age, the best way to determine if that book was part of the canon is by simply assessing what that book teaches. The fact that the original apostles were fighting Gnosticism, in part, made it relatively easy to get rid of heresy. Heresy was actually made obvious to pinpoint!

            Gnosticism comes from the Greek word Gnosis, meaning knowledge. They claim that Salvation is gained not through Jesus Christ, but through special knowledge. From the pulpits of many churches during the times of the original apostles, the Gnostics presented their heresy by teaching that there is a god outside of the Old Testament God who was so pure and so perfect that he viewed all matter as evil; therefore, they presented the God who created the Universe as an evil god.[18]

            “The danger of Gnosticism is easily apparent. It denies the incarnation of God as the Son. In so doing, it denies the true efficacy of the atonement since, if Jesus is    not God, He could not atone for all of mankind, and we would still be lost in our  sins.”[19]

            So after apostolic antiquity and catholicity was established, the deal could only be sealed by the Orthodoxy brought forth by the apostles. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 allowed us to see that there was indeed an orthodox apostolic tradition, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (NKJV). “They had had to defend the Apostolic Teaching, summed up in the rule of faith, against the docetic and gnostic presentations which were so attractive to many in the climate of opinion at the time.”[20] This statement of faith expanded as heresies expanded, but it always came straight out of Scripture. We can learn so much from the work of Irenaeus.

            “The tradition that carried authority with the apostolic churches—the churches the           apostles started themselves—was the body of tradition given to them by the apostles. Those churches believed it was their job—and, more specifically, the job  of the elders—to preserve that tradition unchanged. Irenaeus, a noted bishop of the late 2nd century, explains the process as an answer to gnostic heresies:

            We refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, which is            preserved by means of the succession of elders in the churches. (Irenaeus, Against       Heresies III:2:2, emphasis mine)”[21]

            That orthodoxy includes the following nonnegotiable truths of Scripture: 1) God is the Creator of the universe. 2) God is good. 3) Because of Adam’s sins there is a need for redemption. 4) Redemption can only be found through Jesus Christ. 5) Jesus was all human and all divine. 6) Jesus’ death and resurrection was real and the foundation of our faith.

            You will be able to find a Scripture to support every single one of these and many other points.

Conclusion

            In conclusion, through the various subjects presented, it is clear that the canon of the New Testament is not a subject that can be ignored by the skeptics and twisters of the word. Archeology and the curious instances of prophesy are voices speaking to the skeptics. The Apostles are a voice to the Catholics. The canon of the New Testament is not a man-made tradition. No word from a man that is considered half of the world and half with God can challenge the true canon. No skeptic can dismiss the archeological foundation of the canon. There are firm grounds as to why the 27 books agreed upon by the Protestant Church are the true canon of the New Testament. These books have no contradictions and are verified through the apostles, who were tasked with ensuring that Jesus’ pure gospel would be released, unchanged and unaltered by the many enemies of the faith and their personal agendas.

            Oh, how much we need to go back to the rule of faith! How much we need to go back to the teachings of the apostles, to our core beliefs, to our dogmas and to the smell of blood shed by our Lord, by the prophets and by the apostles as they gave us the gift of what is right, what is perfect, what is beneficial, what is powerful, what is pure and what is… the canon of the New Testament!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Archeological Evidence, http://bibleevidences.com/archeology.htm

Bruce, F. F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1988.

Deem, Rich. Is Our Copy of the Bible a Reliable Copy of the Original. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/bibleorg.html

New King James Bible

Kruger, Michael J. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.

Slick, Matt. Gnosticism, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, https://carm.org/gnosticism

The Manuscripts. http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

http://www.icr.org/bible-message

The Council of Nicea, Part II, The Rule of Faith, http://www.christian-history.org/rule-of-faith.html

http://www.theopedia.com/marcion

 

 

[1] 2 Timothy 3:16

[2] Archeological Evidence, http://bibleevidences.com/archeology.htm

[3] The Manuscripts, http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

http://www.icr.org/bible-message

[4] Ibid.

[5] Rich Deem, Is Our Copy of the Bible a Reliable Copy of the Original, http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/bibleorg.html

[6]

[7] Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited, 166-170

[8] “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” Romans 1:18-20 (NKJV)

[9] Genesis 3:4

[10] Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited: Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012) 39

[11] Ibid., 66.

[12] Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 259

[13] Kruger, Canon Revisited, 184

[14] “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

[15] Ibid., 263

[16] Ibid., 262

[17] The Council of Nicea, Part II, The Rule of Faith, http://www.christian-history.org/rule-of-faith.html

[18] Matt Slick, Gnosticism, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, https://carm.org/gnosticism

[19] Ibid.

[20] F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 260

[21] The Council of Nicea, Part II, The Rule of Faith, http://www.christian-history.org/rule-of-faith.html

Atheism and Us


hitchensanddawkins

If you, as an atheist, tell me that you hate God and religion, I believe you. If you as an atheist blame God for all death and injustices in the world, if you don’t like how God does things, if you blame him for every rape, slavery and every evil in the world, I believe you. But if you tell me that you don’t believe that God exist, you are deceiving yourself.

         Brothers and sisters of the Christian faith, you probably have not heard these terms before, but get use to because they are defining our societies. Humanism is defined as “Any system of thought or action concerned with the interests or ideals of people … the intellectual and cultural movement … characterized by an emphasis on human interests rather than … religion.” Secular Humanism is defined as, “a comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance incorporating:

  • A naturalistic philosophy
  • A cosmic outlook rooted in science
  • A consequentialist ethical system”[1]

          Beloved, this is what is happening in our nation and this is what is happening in Europe. These folks are convinced that they are great intellectuals; however, God does not agree, in Romans 1:22 the Bible tells us, about these folks, Professing to be wise, they became fools,” (NKJV).

         They subscribe to the Advancement worldview; this is a worldview that believes that we are progressing, that we are advancing as a society, without the need for God or any supernatural intervention. In this worldview the claim is that God is not real and that if he is, he is not needed, we can progress on our own.[2] Because Satan is the god of this world[3] and because his job is to move the whole world away from God and towards him, he is accelerating the growth of this worldview.

         When the focus of life is anything but God, we serve the devil. Romans 1:21 tells us, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful…” (NKJV) This focus on us is a clear sign of the last days; the bible tells us that “…men will be lovers of themselves…”[4]

         Later, I will give you Biblical instructions on how to deal with the new atheist. But lets us take time now and look at five biblical truths that we all know, even if we refuse to recognize them.

  1. Everybody knows of God’s existence. (Romans 1:18-20)[5]
  2. Everybody knows of God’s power. (Romans 1:18-20)[6]
  3. Everybody knows that God is the ultimate authority. (Romans 1:18-20)[7]
  4. Everybody knows of God’s judgment against evil. (Romans 1:32)[8]
  5. Everybody knows of God’s law. (Romans 2:14-15)[9]

         Let me also tell you that today’s atheist are the worst; they are not seeking truth; they are passionate about destroying any form of religion around the world. It is funny to me that the late Christopher Hitchens, a self proclaim atheist would spend so much time and energy in writing a book entitle, God is not Great: How Religion Poison’s Everything. I assure you, Christopher Hitchens new that God was real; he for sure know now!

         These atheists are changing societies; they are successfully infiltrating cultures; that is, including ours. Atheism, by far, has being directly responsible for the murderess of millions, more than any ideology in the history of humanity, that is, including the Catholic Church and Radical Islam combine. Communism is a total rejection of God; atheism shines is communist governments and societies. Now lets take a look at these horrendous statistics.

“…the Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these. Most of the deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto. Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from 1949 through the cultural revolution, which alone may have seen over 1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer. Then there are the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito’s Yugoslavia. Obviously the population that is available to kill will make a big difference in the total democide, and thus the annual percentage rate of democide is revealing. By far, the most deadly of all communist countries and, indeed, in this century by far, has been Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot and his crew likely killed some 2,000,000 Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a population of around 7,000,000. This is an annual rate of over 8 percent of the population murdered, or odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol Pot’s rule of slightly over just over 2 to 1. In sum the communist probably have murdered something like 110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987. Of course, the world total itself it shocking. It is several times the 38,000,000 battle-dead that have been killed in all this century’s international and domestic wars. Yet the probable number of murders by the Soviet Union alone–one communist country– well surpasses this cost of war. And those murders of communist China almost equal it.”[10]

            I mention these facts because atheist love to blame us for religious crimes, but they may need to look at themselves. We as born again Christians are not perfect people; God is still working in us and through us, but we have never had a murderous agenda. Again, there were crimes committed by the Catholic Church that we get blame for, however one must understand that born again Christians were also getting killed during time.

         Now, todays’ atheists, in general, are not mass murderess. As a matter of fact, many of them are good people, according to normal society expectations. They are intellectuals and that, I admire about them. They criticize us for being ignorant, non-intellectuals, against science and so on. In part, they are right about some of these accusations. There is a wing of the Body of Christ that embraces ignorance. If you want to hear sermons about how to get rich and do things without effort go for the charismatic church. If you want to get into a deep theological topic about God and answer the tough questions you will have to go to the more orthodox wing of our family of believers.

         This secular humanism ought to encourage us to know our faith more, to study, to show ourselves approve, to rightly divide the Word of truth[11] and to basically know what we are made of. However, let me also say that there is a Biblical way to respond to this foolishness and that is, by not responding at all. We need to be aware of them, love them and pray for them, but if God gave them up,[12] what do you think we are going to gain by debating them?

         The Bible tells us that a fool says in his heart that there is no God.[13] In Proverbs 26:4-5 the Bible gives us specific instructions,

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

Lest you also be like him.

Answer a fool according to his folly,

Lest he be wise in his own eyes. (NKJV)

         The word “Folly” here has a very interesting meaning in the original language. It is the word, “anoia, meaning without understanding, senselessness, it denotes violent or mad rage, “madness.”[14] When dealing with an atheist, the first thing they want to do is to take Jesus and the Word out of the equation. Some are as ignorant as to question that the historical Jesus even existed.

         When we allow these fools to take away the Bible from us, we are indeed responding to them according to their folly. The warning for us as Christians is that we can become like them. We can find ourselves thinking that we are wise in our own opinion. When we take God’s Word and our precious testimony out of the debate, we position ourselves in a place of defending God. Does God need anybody to defend Him? When we do that we, without realizing it, we also make them wise in their own eyes.

         Nobody will come to Christ via the intellect; salvation is a gift from God given to us by grace through faith; it requires no works.[15] First Peter 3:15 tells us, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” (NKJV) Notice that the Bible encourages us to be ready to make a defense; that is the word Apology, meaning verbal defense. But what is it that we are called to defend, God? Absolutely not; what we are defending is the reason for our faith to whomever takes the time to ask. The idea that we go around debating people and requesting debating this or that person is not biblical.

         You may ask, what about if they, the atheist call us for a public debate? If they ask, should we go? The question is for what? They are oppressors of God’s truth and the wrath of God is upon them; again, if God turn them over, why debate? We are dealings with debased minds.[16]

         So what do we do with these oppressors of God’s truth? We pray for them; they are objects, not of God’s love, but of God’s wrath. We pray that they may repent of their sin and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

         Lastly, I am convinced that the ministry of apologetics is biblical, is sound, and is real and necessary. This ministry defends the core values of our faith. Because of this reality I believe that we have plenty of apologetics to do from within, from within all who call themselves Christians.

         We, as Christians, are facing a greater issue amongst ourselves. An issue that is worst before the eyes of God, than the demon of secular humanism, it is call the lukewarm spirit spoken in Revelation 3:15-17,

 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— (NKJV)

          Beloved, what I see here is the prosperity gospel’s heresy that is consuming our churches. Secular humanism is a worldly thing; it is what is expected from the world, the lukewarm spirit is in our congregations, is in our pulpits, Sunday schools, etc. God is saying that He prefers that we were on fire for him, but his second option is coldness, that is what you get with these new atheists, a high level of coldness. However, it is those in the vomit zone that God despises the most; these are the ones that causes God to feel nauseated.

         I pray that we be a people on fire for God, passionate about His Word, passionate about sound doctrine, pursuing good theology, respecting our dogmas and what is unchanging… the orthodoxy of our faith. Yes, we are open for change, the change that our Lord directs; that change will never over-right God’s Word, but must, like everything else, submit to Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Council for Secular Humanism, https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3260

[2] Russ L Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age, Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003.

[3] 2 Corinthians 4:4

[4] 2 Timothy 3:2

[5] “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (New King James Version)

[6] Same as above

[7] Same as above

[8] “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (New King James Version)

[9] “or when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)” (New King James Version)

[10] R. J. Rummel, How Many Did Communist Regimes Murder, https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

[11] 2 Timothy 2:15

[12] “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1:24-27 (NKJV)

[13] Psalm 14:1

[14] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 245.

[15] “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

[16] Romans 1:18-32

My Frustration with the Charismatic Movement


It is not necessarily theological matters and discussions that have caused such division in the Body of Christ. If anything, we should have our little theologies challenge constantly.

It seems like we do not have a problem talking about sports, our jobs, our families, our neighbors, our cousin, etc. However, when it comes down to God, we want to remain as ignorant as possible.

The pride of men in forcing their unconfirmed interpretations of Scripture and traditions in the form of denominations, are indeed to be blame for our current mess and our idolization of ignorance. It is bad theology the cause of our divisions; not theology. Pastor John Piper stated, “Bad theology will eventually hurt people and dishonor God in proportion to its badness.”[1] Hosea 4:6 backs Mr. Piper with these words;

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Because you have rejected knowledge,

I also will reject you from being priest for Me;

Because you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children.” (NKJV)

Our ignorance causes personal destruction and, notice, that it will also hurt our children. Have we forgotten what the Scripture is saying regarding the study of God’s Word? “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Honestly, how many pastors and teachers you know who are rightly dividing the Word of truth? No definitions of words in the original language are taken into consideration as if the Word was written in English; context is thrown out the door half of the time. They just grab something to make their little personal and selfish points or to take a shot at something going on in their congregations and run with it.

They become bullies in their pulpits where they can swing at everything and everybody without giving that other person a fair chance for a respectful debate.      Therefor is no longer about seeking and teaching truth, is about manipulating and teaching personal and untested opinions! This careless attitude is not helping, but hurting the Body of Christ.

I have to say that I am growing increasingly frustrated with this charismatic movement that is constantly manipulating people’s emotions with music and, either outrageous claims or super simplified statements with very little respect and honor for God’s Word.

I don’t know much, but I know that the church is in great need of a reformation that will get God’s people back to fellowshipping with the Holy Ghost, a people that truly have a relationship with God, not just praying only before a meal; a reformation that will take us back to confirming everything through God’s Word, the seeking of sound doctrine; a reformation that can clearly establish that there are not a million truths, but one truth, that you either have it, you are growing in it, you are in error or perhaps you and I don’t know what we are talking about as we are bound to knowing in part.[2]

I am believing God for a reformation that will truly brings us together in true Apostolic fellowship under the banner of God’s love and truth. I am believing God for a reformation that will take us back to the place where God’s people understand that we serve a God that also loves to talk to us personally; we can’t ignore the Logos, but we can’t disregard the Rhema. Beloved, lets “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”[3] and lets say no to ignorance!

 

[1] John Piper, A Godward Life Volume Two, pg. 377

[2] First Corinthians 13:9

[3] 2 Peter 3:18 NKJV