Friday, February 12, 2016

WHEN DID THE WRITINGS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BECOME SCRIPTURE?





As soon as they were written! How do we know this? Well, for one thing, Jesus had commissioned His Apostles to do this very thing, both naturally and supernaturally:

* “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27 ESV)

The Apostles would be commissioned for this purpose in two ways. They would testify of what they had seen and experienced, and the Spirit would provide the rest. But how?

* “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

The Spirit would make up for their inability to understand:

* "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-14)

Jesus subsequently sent them off into the world with the Gospel:

* “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

He expected a lot of them. They had to teach ALL that they had been taught. This could only be accomplished by divine assistance.

The Apostles also came to understand that their teachings were indeed given by the Spirit:

* “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)

The fact that the Apostles had been divinely commissioned by the Lord to bring the Gospel to the world was made plain to all by Him:

* “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:3-4)

These signs and wonders accompanied the Apostles in order to validate their divine commission before the Church, and the Church got the message:

* “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” (Acts 2:42-43)

It therefore became clear to all that the Apostles were teaching with the authority of God Himself. It was also these signs that had enabled Paul to declare that he too was speaking and writing the very words of God:

* “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” (2 Corinthians 12:12)

The miracles Paul was performing were an unmistakable divine validation - a sign that God approved of Paul's teaching:

* “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” (Acts 14:3 ESV)

* “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12 ESV)

Consequently, there was never any doubt in the Church that Paul's 13 letters were each the Word of God. And they were received accordingly.

Some scholars claim that the Apostles would never have believed that they were writing Scripture. However, this claim does not accord with the Scriptural evidence. Clearly, Paul knew that he was penning the Word of God:

* “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-7)

* “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:37)

Not only did Paul declare his writings to be Scripture, he also claimed that this Word could supernaturally transform:

* “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Consequently, his letters were received as Scripture and were copied and carried around to other churches (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16). Evidently, the various churches regarded his writings as Scripture as soon as they were received.

Peter also regarded his writings as the commandments of the Lord:

* “You should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,” (2 Peter 3:2)

Peter also regarded Paul's writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). And John regarded his as Scripture:

* “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)

The churches didn't have to wait for a Church Council for them to adopt the Apostolic writings as Scripture. No expert pronunciation was necessary. Instead, the Lord had made these decisions quite obvious.

Clearly, only the Apostles had such authority. Consequently, there was only one way to partake of such influence - to pose as an Apostle, attaching an Apostle's name to their own letter.

Therefore, Paul had to warn the Church against such forgeries (2 Thess. 2:2; 3:17; 1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18). Such a warning would only be appropriate if his own letters carried significant weight.

Consequently, it wasn't until about 200 after the Cross that the Church began to seek further assurances for seven Epistles. The other 20 books of the NT were never questioned.

Monday, February 8, 2016

ARE CHRISTIANS LACKING IN MERCY FOR NOT WANTING TO RECEIVE MORE MUSLIM REFUGEES?





This is a common accusation. It actually seems to have merit:

* “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17)

However, is bringing in more Muslims who want to kill, rape, and eventually take over to set up their Caliphate "the good?"

Also, we are told that we are exercising discrimination and should be caring for these refugees:

* “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

However, if we truly care about orphans and widows, we should be careful not to bring among them those who will kidnap and rape them. Sadly, Western society is often unwilling to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. However, once we fail to uphold this critical distinction, society will decay, and God will be grieved:

* “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the Lord detests them both.” (Proverbs 17:15)

Instead, it is the essence of justice to discriminate between the guilty and the innocent. In fact, God ordained the criminal justice system to make these critical and necessary distinctions:

* “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:2-4)

The Islamic faith will not accept non-Muslim institutions and will battle against them. Should not the Christian, therefore, guard against this inevitable eventuality?

This does not mean that we shouldn't show mercy to the Muslims already here. Nor does it mean that we shouldn't show compassion to the Muslim refugees. However, it is better to support them in their own Muslim nations.

WHY MACRO-EVOLUTION IS A FICTION




The atheist Daniel Dennett called Darwinism a corrosive “acid” because of its power to dissolve away competing beliefs. I have found this to be very true of the hundreds of dialogues I have had with “Christian” evolutionists, who have consistently compromised the Bible’s teachings, wherever they clashed with evolution. This has occurred so extensively that their opinions are almost indistinguishable from the secular community.

Because of this, I welcome those who can present reasonable and coherent critiques of this theory. The following is a part of Robert P.Crowner’s critique of evolution:

“Geoffrey Simmons, M.D. in his book What Darwin Didn’t Know points out the incredible complexity of the human body and the interdependence of its parts. He points out many examples in the body that illustrate irreducible complexity:

  • “Every significant change in the male’s reproductive system had to have been met with a reciprocal change in the female’s (or vice versa).”[11] 
  • “The egg knows when it’s time to ovulate, how to pop out, how to travel through the fallopian tubes, how to receive a single sperm and close out other sperm, and how to eventually implant in the uterus.”[12]
  • “A cell resembles a miniature industrial complex that is much more complex than a General Motors or Boeing plant.”[13]
  • “The brain can store between 100 trillion and 280 quintillion bits of information in a mere three pounds of matter.”[14]
  • “Eyes are like antennae for the brain. Millions of cells lining the interior of each eye function as photochemical receivers, converting light waves into a myriad of electrical impulses that are forwarded at a speed of about 200 miles per hour to the brain. There the impulses are sorted, organized and analyzed in holograph ways. All of this is accomplished in milliseconds.”[15]
  • “Many hormones work in parallel or tandem, some compete, and some have double and triple functions.”[16]
  • “Every action involves a complex array of interacting nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones. Millions to billions of cells work in unison.”[17]
In his chapter “Purposeful Design,” Simmons lists 81 facts that he believes point to design rather than chance as postulated in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Simmons points out that Darwin had little knowledge of genetics, physiology, and conception. So how could his theory still be accepted as valid?”

Sunday, February 7, 2016

CONVERSION THERAPY: BANNED, BIASED OR ESSENTIAL




Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York just announced a series of measures intended to eliminate so-called conversion therapy:

  • Mr. Cuomo’s plan relies on economic incentives meant to discourage conversion therapy’s use on young people. Insurers in New York, for instance, will now be prohibited from covering the cost of such therapy for anyone under 18.
  • That action… would prohibit the use of Medicaid to pay for conversion therapy. Centers overseen by the State Office of Mental Health would also be barred from providing conversion therapy to minors, according to the governor’s office.
How does Cuomo justify prohibiting the free choice of both parents and their children from seeking counseling for their unwanted same-sex attraction? Cuomo charges:

  • “We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish L.G.B.T. young people for simply being who they are,” 
Are the parents and their adolescent-teenage children “misguided?” Does Cuomo think he knows what is best for them? The horrific consequences for this lifestyle are undeniable – highly elevated levels of suicide, mental illness, depression, STDs, domestic violence, shortened life, and substance abuse. Could any therapy incur worse results!

Cuomo claims that those who administer such treatment are “intolerant to punish L.G.B.T. young people for simply being who they are.” But how does Cuomo know that they are “intolerant” rather than compassionate. He doesn’t. Instead, he has employed the carefully honed rhetoric of manipulation – tarring the opposition as “intolerant” or just haters.

Besides, are these youth really gay or are they simply going through a period of identity confusion? They is a lot of evidence that sexual attraction is quite fluid, rather than settled, at these ages. Why try to lock them into a lifestyle that dooms them to a life of self-destruction! It would seem that, in light of the horrific consequences, that almost anything should be tried to channel the youth into more a salutary lifestyle.

If there have been some therapeutic interventions that have been found to be unproductive or harmful, then make their failures known and explore or promote other more promising forms of therapy.

Instead, our pundits have condemned all forms of conversion therapy. It would be like condemning all forms of bipolar therapy because of the failure of one particular intervention. The fact that Cuomo wants to ban all forms of conversion therapy demonstrates, not a concern for the youth, but an entrenched political agenda. Instead, he should fund other more hopeful ways to address this horribly self-destructive lifestyle.

Cuomo’s sexually indulgent approach is also the approach of the Feds:

  • Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, described its [conversion therapy] “potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.”
Their approach is to damn anything that might have the promise of helping youth to avoid a life of despair.

Last year, the New York State Assembly labelled conversion therapy a form of “professional misconduct that could put medical licenses at risk.” But is it misconduct or is it professionally responsible to help youth overcome what they regard as a problem? There are many indications that such therapy can be effective:

  • There are two major studies most often cited to support the potential benefits of reparation [conversion] therapy. One, originally published in book form in 2007, was conducted by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse. A follow-up to the study, which appeared in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy in 2011, concluded not only that it was possible to change one’s homosexual orientation, but also that psychological harm was unlikely to result from the effort. (Salvo, Issue 22,34)
The Robert Spitzer study, published in 2003 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, also offers promise:

  • After studying efforts on 200 volunteers who had experienced predominantly homosexual attractions for many years before beginning therapy, Spitzer found that, for all subjects, “there was a marked reduction [of homosexual tendencies]…not only on the three measures of overt behavior and sexual orientation self-identification…but also on the seven variables assessing sexual orientation itself.” (34)
Had Cuomo and others, who want to ban all forms of supportive therapy for those who have chosen to resist same-sex attraction, merely publicized against those interventions associated with negative outcomes, they might be more credible. However, they are not taking the middle road. Nor are they asking for further research to identity interventions that offer the most promise. Instead, they seek to ban all forms of such therapy, thereby revealing their own intolerance and disregard for the struggles of these youth.

THE NARROWING OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN




Maximizing our humanity requires us to use all of our faculties, integrating sensual awareness and experience with rationality and wisdom. This means that we cannot reject any of our faculties. If we reject our eyes, we will stumble. If we reject our ears, we will not be able to socialize. If we reject our minds, we will not be able to make wise decisions.

However, rejecting rationality and, with it, moral certainty, mindlessness has become acceptable. The evidence of this is all around us. Mindfulness training requires us to close down our minds and only to observe without making moral judgments.

I just read an appealing advertisement for a new meetup group:

·       "From the time we’re just out of diapers we’re charged by our parents, our peers, our lovers, ourselves, with the task of maintaining certainty, and if we don’t feel certainty, of manufacturing it. Tonight’s going to be different—tonight we’ll ask all who come to drop the certainty and gather around a comfortable white sofa with a glass of wine and a sense of curiosity. What brings you joy? What keeps you up at night? How’s your heart? What do you love, and what would you like to be different? What do you want to share, or hear from your brothers?"

Understandably, wisdom and certainty are demanding, while experience and feelings are just what they are (or however we want to interpret them), and, without making judgments about them, they are all acceptable.

Admittedly, this might prove comfortable for the short run. More importantly, this trend reflects a narrowing and a dangerous cultural trend. We feel uncomfortable about judgment, more specifically, about being criticized. Even more, we cannot endure criticism. It attacks the very basis who we are as people - our value and personhood.

In fact, we feel so threatened by criticism, many have gone so far as to deny freewill. After all, if we lack freewill, we couldn't have done otherwise and, therefore, bear no guilt.

Ironically, to defend ourselves against criticism and guilt, we demean who we are as humans. Consequently, we see ourselves as wet machines – not very edifying.

Well, if we are merely machines that cannot do otherwise, why then should we try to oppose our desires to steal and cheat? The only rationale that then remains to oppose our selfish instincts is the fear of getting caught, but fear alone is often not enough. Consequently, lying, stealing, and cheating have become so prevalent that no one trusts our institutions. Can we survive such cynicism?

What is the answer? How are we to bear our moral failures and accept criticism? Simply through confidence that when we confess our sins and failures to our Savior, He forgives and cleanses us completely! And when we come to live according to His opinions, we gradually lose our fear of the opinions and criticisms of others. Instead of people-pleasers, we are liberated to become God-pleaser. It's beats being a wet machine.