Archive for November, 2010

Who wrote the Book of Hebrews?

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

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What is the evidence for Paul writing the Book of Hebrews?

Firstly, let’s observe that this book does not begin as a typical NT epistle. While the ending is like a regular epistle, the beginning differs in that there is not the usual greeting with names of the writer and the people to whom it is addressed. Throughout the epistle it seems to be addressed to a Christian community, but it is not named.

This epistle was known to Clement of Rome before the end of the first century (ca. AD 96) in a letter he wrote to the Corinthian church from the Roman church. See 1 Clement 36:1-5. Some of the language of Hebrews is interwoven in these verses from 1 Clement.

As for the author of Hebrews, I believe the best answer is that we do not know who wrote it. Clement of Rome gives not the slightest indication who the author was. There was an Alexandrian belief of Christianity from the East in the 4th century that Paul was the author. This seems to have influenced the view that people espouse that Paul was the author. Clement of Alexandria in Hypotyposes [quoted by early historian Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History 6.14.2] claimed that Paul wrote it in the Hebrew language and it was translated by Luke and then released for the Greeks to read.

We do have another early reference to the authorship of Hebrews from Tertullian (On Modesty, ch 20). He claimed that it was written by Barnabas. Look up the writings of The Muratorian Canon, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Gaius of Rome, as none of these regarded Paul as the author of Hebrews. The main early influences in pointing to Paul as the author of Hebrews came from Jerome (Epistle 129) and Augustine (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants 1. ch 50). Augustine supported the Eastern church’s view and the placing of the Book of Hebrews in the canon of the NT. Jerome said that there were 3 views of the authorship of the Book of Hebrews when he wrote about AD 414. The Epistle was written by Paul, Barnabas or Clement, according to him.

From the Synod of Hippo in 393 and the Third Synod of Carthage in 397, we have the statement, “Of Paul the apostle, thirteen epistles; of the same to the Hebrews, one”. At the Synod of Carthage in AD 419, we have affirmed “fourteen epistles” assumed to be ascribed to Paul. From this time forward, Hebrews was said to be from the pen of Paul in the Western church, but Clement of Rome or Luke as a translator or editor of the epistle were ascribed authors. Thomas Aquinas (AD 1225-1274) in his Preface to the Epistle of the Hebrews wrote: “Luke, who was an excellent advocated, translated it [Book of Hebrews] from Hebrew into that elegant Greek” (quoted in F. F. Bruce 1964. The Epistle to the Hebrews, Eerdmans, p. xxxix).

Therefore, assigning the authorship of Paul to the Book of Hebrews is questionable in my view. For me, the best view is that the author is unknown, but that the Book of Hebrews was an important book in the canon of Scripture from the early years of the Christian Church.

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Evidence for Jesus: Testing the transmission evidence

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

By Spencer D Gear

How do we know if the historical Jesus, the God-man historical Jesus, existed and was the Jesus manifested according to the New Testament. On Christian Forums, I asked Hillard, “So what historical evidence will you accept to determine the date of Jesus’ birth?”(#16 of this thread). This was his response (#18 of this thread):

Historical evidence is all we need to tell us if there was a particular man named Jesus who was the leader of a group, a few words written thousands of years ago and passed down to us are not enough because too many things have happened in history that might have tainted or changed the writings, don’t forget, people throughout history could be killed for writing the wrong things also peoples opinions are not evidence they are only their opinions.
For all we know the stories in the Bible could have been written by the supporters of a Jewish left or right -wing political nationalist named Jesus who was trying to undermine the Romans, his supporters would write anything if they thought it would help their cause they might even give him a God like status, if all we had were the writings of Stalins supporters we might be misled into thinking he was a really nice man.

In my reply, I said that I take history more seriously than you seem to do and have written on this topic. In determining if the NT is a trustworthy and accurate document, historians use three tests: (1) The Transmission Test; (2) The Internal Evidence Test, and (3) The External Evidence Test.

The transmission test is an examination of how the documents reached us from when they were written. Since we don’t have the original documents, how reliable are the copies we have in:

  • The number of manuscripts (MSS);
  • The time interval between the original and the earliest copy

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A.    NEW TESTAMENT

Transmission Test for Historical Documents (incl. New Testament)

Author/
Book
Date
Written
Earliest Copies Time Gap No. of Copies %
Accuracy
Hindu Mahabharata 13th century B.C. 90
Plato c. 400 B.C. A.D. c.900 1300 yrs 7 ?
Homer,
Iliad
900 B.C.
(900-700 B.C.?)
400 B.C. ? 500 yrs ? 643 95
Demosthenes 300 B.C. A. D. c. 1100 1,400 yrs 200 ?
Caesar,
Gallic Wars
100-44 B.C. A.D. 900 1,000 yrs 10 ?
Tacitus, Annals A.D. 100 1100 A.D. 1,000 yrs 20 ?
Pliny Secundus,
Natural History
A.D. 61-113 c. A.D. 850 750 yrs 7 ?
New Testament A.D.50-100 c. 114 (fragment)
c. 200 (books)
c. 250 (most of NT)
c. 325 (whole NT)
c. +/- 50 yrs
c. 100 yrs
c. 150 yrs
c. 225 yrs
5,366(Gk)
24,000+
(with other translations)
99+
The chart above is a comparison of ancient manuscript totals (Josh McDowell, Christianity: Hoax or History? Tyndale House Publishers, 1989, pp. 50-51; Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Press, 1986, p. 408)
B.    AN ASSESSMENT

I am in agreement with the late Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, formerly director and principal librarian of the British Museum, who wrote just before his death:

“The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established” [1]

  • These people who were used by the Lord to write the New Testament, were living in a hostile culture. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies. They would dare not manipulate the facts because they would be challenged by those who wanted to discredit them.
  • A witness must testify of his/her own knowledge. When we apply this to the NT, we see clearly that we have primary evidence from eyewitnesses. I John 1:1 states, ” That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (NIV)”. [2]

Would you dare to suggest that the writings of Plato, Demosthenes, Caesar, Tacitus and Pliny Secundus are not accurate. The historical writings of the NT present superior evidence to all of these other ancient writings. These are assessments by eminent historians have reached these conclusions about the New Testament.

A.N. Sherwin-White, distinguished Roman historian, says this about Luke’s writings: “For [the Book of] Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. . . Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd.  Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” [3]

Luke is commended by classical historian, G.A. Williamson, for demonstrating “complete familiarity with the thought, expression, and habitual terminology of the speakers, and . . . what memories the people of that time possessed!–if not on written notes, which we have reason to believe were commonly made.” [4]

Thanks to the archaeological efforts of the late Sir William Ramsay, many of the critical views of the NT have been overthrown. Ramsay himself was converted from the critical view of liberal theology. He wrote:

“I began with a mind unfavorable to it [the Book of Acts], for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself often brought into contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.”[5]

I suggested to Hillard that he become better informed about assessing historical evidence. His retort was (in #21): “It would seem to me that you have a lot of modern day opinions and not much more, I for one believe that Jesus lived, but again that’s only my opinion (and incidentally my hope)”. I came back with: “You don’t seem to care about the standards by which one judges whether a document is historical or not. Could it be that you are establishing your own “modern day opinions” for this topic?” (#22)

Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tübingen, Germany, Dr. Martin Hengel wrote:

Ought we not rather to reckon that in the early period of the Gospel tradition, the roughly forty years up to the composition of the Gospel of Mark, the weight of the authority of the eyewitnesses was still very tangible and that oral traditions initially predominated, i.e. that in this stratum of the tradition we come very close to the remains of the preaching of Jesus himself? [6]

Notes:

[1] Sir Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology. New York: Harper and Row, 1940, pp. 288f, in Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Revised and Expanded). Chicago: Moody Press, 1968, 1986, p. 405; also in Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter. Eastbourne, Sussex, England: Kingsway Publications, 1977, p. 48.

[2] Suggested by John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1975, p. 88.

[3] A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, p. 189, in Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1979, p. 55.

[4] G. A. Williamson, The World of Josephus. London: Secker & Warburg, 1964, p. 290, in Geisler, Christian Apologetics, p. 326.

[5] William M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1896, p. 8, in Geisler, Christian Apologetics, p. 326.

[6] Martin Hengel 2000. The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ. Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, p. 173.

 

Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document is free content.  You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the OpenContent License (OPL) version 1.0, or (at your option) any later version.  This document last updated at Date: 8 August 2013.

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There are many scientific reasons to oppose fluoridation of Queensland’s water supply

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

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By Spencer D Gear

Yes, fluoride is more acutely toxic than lead. See HERE. See also, “Silicofluorides & Higher Blood Lead: Statement from Dr. Roger Masters”.

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Moderate/Severe Fluorosis
Photo by David Kennedy, DDS

On 7th February 2008, I wrote this letter to:

The Hon. Andrew McNamara MP,

Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation,

Member for Hervey Bay

Dear Mr. McNamara,

Thank you for your letter of 30th January 2008, presenting your government’s one-eyed perspective on fluoridation. Your letter was a template of your government’s way to provide only one side of the fluoride debate and censor the other negative information about fluoride.

I could take up many of the points made in your letter and challenge them with scientific and logical information, but I don’t have the time because I work for a living. I will challenge one of your points: “There is no credible evidence to link water fluoridation with adverse health effects” (p. 3).

The very latest edition of Scientific American, January 2008, has an article by Dan Fagin, “Second Thoughts about Fluoride” (pp. 74-81) that challenges some of your government’s views.[1] Here is a dot point summary of some of the information from this article that contradicts your statement that there is no credible evidence to link use of fluoride in the water supply with adverse effects:

  • Researchers are intensifying their scrutiny of fluoride, which is added to most public water systems in the U.S. Some recent studies suggest that overconsumption of fluoride can raise the risks of disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland.
  • A 2006 report by a committee of the National Research Council recommended that the federal government [USA] lower its current limit for fluoride in drinking water because of health risks to both children and adults.
  • Most fluoridated water contains much less fluoride than the EPA limit, but the situation is worrisome because there is so much uncertainty over how much additional fluoride we ingest from food, beverages and dental products. What is more, the NRC panel noted that fluoride may also trigger more serious health problems, including bone cancer and damage to the brain and thyroid gland. Although these effects are still unproved, the panel argued that they deserve further study (p. 75).
  • TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: Fluoride is in many foods, beverages and dental products. The ubiquity of the cavity-fighting chemical can result in overconsumption, particularly among young children (p. 75).
  • Scientific attitudes toward fluoridation may be starting to shift in the country where the practice began (p. 78).
  • But enamel fluorosis, except in the severest cases, has no health impact beyond lowered self-esteem: the tooth marks are unattractive and do not go away (although there are masking treatments). The much more important question is whether fluoride’s effects extend beyond altering the biochemistry of tooth enamel formation. Says longtime fluoride researcher Pamela DenBesten of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry: “We certainly can see that fluoride impacts the way proteins interact with mineralized tissue, so what effect is it having elsewhere at the cellular level? Fluoride is very powerful, and it needs to be treated respectfully” (p. 79).
  • Clashes over the possible neurological effects of fluoride have been just as intense. Phyllis Mullenix, then at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, set off a firestorm in the early 1990s when she reported that experiments on lab rats showed that sodium fluoride can accumulate in brain tissue and affect animal behavior. Prenatal exposures, she reported, correlated with hyperactivity in young rats, especially males, whereas exposures after birth had the opposite effect, turning female rats into what Mullenix later described as “couch potatoes.” Although her research was eventually published in Neurotoxicology and Teratology, it was attacked by other scientists who said that her methodology was flawed and that she had used unrealistically high dosages. Since then, however, a series of epidemiological studies in China have associated high fluoride exposures with lower IQ, and research has also suggested a possible mechanism: the formation of aluminum fluoride complexes—small inorganic molecules that mimic the structure of phosphates and thus influence enzyme activity in the brain. There is also some evidence that the silicofluorides used in water fluoridation may enhance the uptake of lead into the brain (p. 80).
  • The NRC committee concluded that fluoride can subtly alter endocrine function, especially in the thyroid—the gland that produces hormones regulating growth and metabolism. Although researchers do not know how fluoride consumption can influence the thyroid, the effects appear to be strongly influenced by diet and genetics. Says John Doull, professor emeritus of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, who chaired the NRC committee: “The thyroid changes do worry me. There are some things there that need to be explored” (p. 80).
  • “What the committee found is that we’ve gone with the status quo regarding fluoride for many years—for too long, really—and now we need to take a fresh look,” Doull says. “In the scientific community, people tend to think this is settled. I mean, when the U.S. surgeon general comes out and says this is one of the 10 greatest achievements of the 20th century, that’s a hard hurdle to get over.  But when we looked at the studies that have been done, we found that many of these questions are unsettled and we have much less information than we should, considering how long this [fluoridation] has been going on. I think that’s why fluoridation is still being challenged so many years after it began. In the face of ignorance, controversy is rampant” (pp. 80-81).
  • Opponents of fluoridation, meanwhile, have been emboldened by the NRC report. “What the committee did was very, very important, because it’s the first time a truly balanced panel has looked at this and raised important questions,” says Paul Connett, a chemistry professor at St. Lawrence University and the executive director of the Fluoride Action Network, one of the most active antifluoridation groups world-wide. “I absolutely believe it’s a scientific turning point because now everything’s on the table.  Fluoride is the most consumed drug in the U.S., and it’s time we talked about it” (p. 81).

The following are some of the points in your letter to me that could be challenged if I had the time:

1. “Fluoridation of our water supplies represents one of the Bligh Government’s most significant public health initiatives” (p. 1).

2. “Research has semonstrated that fluoridation – together with oral hygiene and good nutrition – can reduce tooth decay by up to 40%. We cannot ignore the extensive scientific evidence which shows that fluoridation is a safe and effective means of improving oral health” (p. 2)

3. “In June 2007, Australia’s highly respected National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released an extensive review about the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation” (p. 2)

4. “The decision is about responding to the very clear wishes of the majority of Queenslanders who support the fluoridation of public water supplies” (p. 2). [with 60-70% support of Queenslanders]

5. “The Government has long supported water fluoridation as a safe and effective means of combating tooth decay” (p. 2)

6. “Fluoridation of drinking water is not mass medication, but is simply adjusting the levels of a naturally-occurring compound to provide substantial health benefits” (p. 2).

7. “Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in water, plants, rocks, soil, air and food” (p. 2). Arsenic is also a “naturally-occurring compound” in some water supplies (see “Managing arsenic in water supplies“).

8. “There is no credible evidence to link water fluoridation with adverse health effects” (p. 3).

9. “While fluoride can cause a slight increase in dental fluorosis – a barely detectable condition which does not damage the teeth – there is no scientifically or medically documented cases involving adverse health effects in these states [of Australia that have fluoridated water]” (p. 3).

10. “Fluoride will only be added to our water supplies at low levels which are not toxic for humans or animals” (p. 3).

11. “I would also encourage you to explore the Australian Dental Association’s website at www.ada.org.au/OralHealth/finfront.aspx for further information on the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation as a means of promoting good oral health” (p. 3).

12. You recommend the US Centers for Disease control website “for further information on rigorous, peer reviewed scientific studies which have demonstrated fluoridation to be safe and effective” (p. 3).

13. “Reviews of peak health bodies around the world . . . have found there is no redible scientific evidence to link water fluoridation with allergies or other ill health effects wuch as cancer or asthma” (p. 3).

14. The Victorian Government’s Dept. of Human Services and the Cancer Council of Victoria “found no link between fluoride and bone cancer” (p. 3).

15. “While people of all ages benefit from drinking fluoride throughout their lives. . .” (p. 3)

16. “. . . a key prevention strategy such as water fluoridation . . .” (p. 4)

17. “The Government’s decision is not intended to disadvantage those opposed to fluoridation . . .” (p. 5).

That your government should choose to mass fluoridate Queensland when there is credible scientific evidence opposing your views, amazes me.

“In most European countries, where community water fluoridation has never been adopted, a substantial decline in caries [i.e tooth decay] prevalence has been reported in the last decades, with reductions in lifetime caries experience exceeding 75%.”[2]

Dr. Arvid Carlsson, Nobel laureate in medicine in the year 2000, wrote this about adding fluoride to the water supplies:

I am quite convinced that water fluoridation, in a not-too-distant future, will be consigned to medical history. . . The fact that in this situation a poison should deliberately be distributed throughout our environment in enormous quantities represents an ill-considered action. . . Water fluoridation also goes against leading principles of pharmacotherapy. . . The addition of drugs to the drinking water means exactly the opposite of an individualized therapy. . . The dose cannot be adapted to individual requirements.”[3]

I urge your government to become responsible, in light of the BRIEF challenges I have provided to your position to mass medicate Queenslanders with fluoride. Dr. Carlsson, who is no medical idiot, has clearly stated the case against your view that “fluoridation of drinking water is not mass medication” (p. 2 of your letter). Dr. Carlsson’s medical statement is: “The addition of drugs to the drinking water means exactly the opposite of an individualized therapy. . . The dose cannot be adapted to individual requirements.”[4]

Yours sincerely,

Spencer Gear,

Hervey Bay 4655

Notes

[1] This information is made available by the Fluoride Action Network at: http://www.fluoridealert.org/sc.am.jan.2008.html[cited 7 February 2008].

[2] Pizzo G, et al. (2007). “Community water fluoridation and caries prevention: a critical review,” Clinical Oral Investigations 11(3):189-93.

[3] “Dr Arvid Carlsson, “Nobel Laureate in Medicine (2000), Opposes Fluoridation,” available from: http://www.fluoridealert.org/carlsson.htm [cited 7 February 2008].

[4] Ibid.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.

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I object strongly to the Queensland government forcing Queenslanders to ingest fluoride

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

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Spencer D Gear

I wish to register my strong objections to the Queensland (Australia) government forcing local councils to place fluoride in our water supply. I object for these reasons:

1. We know the case against ingesting fluoride has been substantiated by scientific evidence. The scientific research shows the negative effects of fluoride on the brain, bones, thyroid, kidneys, links with cancer, birth defects and fluorosis.

See http://www.slweb.org/bibliography.html for a bibliography of the scientific case against fluoride.

Dr. Hardy Limeback, Associate Professor and Head, Preventive Dentistry University of Toronto, Canada, moved from supporting fluoride to one officially opposed since 1999 because of new evidence showing the lack of effectiveness of fluoride in water (see: http://www.citizenshealth.org/limeback.htm).

2. At a time when we know the damaging effects on human beings of asbestos, DDT and other chemicals, I believe it is an irrational move by the Qld. government to introduce fluoride to our cities’ water supplies when we know the scientific evidence against mass medicating the population with this toxic chemical.

3. Adding fluoride to Queensland’s water violates one of our most fundamental rights — informed consent to medication. As stated by Dr. Peter Mansfield, a physician from the UK and advisory board member of the recent government review of fluoridation (McDonagh et al 2000):

“No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: ‘Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay.’ It is a preposterous notion” (cited in: “Overview of Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation“).

4. No Qld. Council will be able to control the dose of fluoride ingested by each Queenslander who is forced to ingest fluoride as the amount of water ingested by a person varies individually. Therefore . . .

5. Each Council cannot track each person’s response to ingesting fluoride. This Qld government legislation ignores the fact that some people are more vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic effects than others. Some people will suffer while others may benefit.

6. Compulsorily adding fluoride to our water supplies, violates the Nuremberg code for human experimentation which forbids human experimentation without the informed consent of the patient.

Dr. Arvid Carlsson, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2000, stated it clearly:

“I am quite convinced that water fluoridation, in a not-too-distant future, will be consigned to medical history…Water fluoridation goes against leading principles of pharmacotherapy, which is progressing from a stereotyped medication – of the type 1 tablet 3 times a day – to a much more individualized therapy as regards both dosage and selection of drugs. The addition of drugs to the drinking water means exactly the opposite of an individualized therapy” (see http://www.fluoridealert.org/carlsson.htm).

7. Some recent studies by eminent researchers strongly suggest that fluoride works best by direct action on the surface of the teeth through toothpaste, or gels used in dental treatments.

I object strongly to your government’s forcing Queenslanders to ingest the medicinal fluoride, without their consent, and especially when we know the deleterious consequences of ingesting fluoride.

Yours sincerely,

Spencer Gear,

Hervey Bay 4655

P.S. I included my Hervey Bay postal address but no longer live in Hervey Bay so it is no longer applicable.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.

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The Bible’s support for inerrancy of the originals

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

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By Spencer D Gear

Introduction

How are the Christian Scriptures divinely authoritative? Evangelicals like myself have come to the conclusion that both Old and New Testaments are inerrant (without error) in the original manuscripts. How have I reached that decision? It did not come from an a priori assumption. I had to examine the Scriptures carefully and examine the teaching of the church throughout its history.

An example of a statement on inerrancy, representing many in the evangelical church, is The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978), Section VI, which states:

WE AFFIRM that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.

WE DENY that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole”.

Why is it necessary to include “down to the very words of the original”? Why include the original manuscripts (called the autographa) in a statement on inerrancy? Why is this important? Is there a chapter and verse in the Bible that states that “the originals” must by in an orthodox doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture? Why aren’t the various Bible translations authoritative and inerrant?

Are these translations inerrant? – The King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), Jerusalem Bible (JB), New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), Revised Standard Version (RSV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), English Standard Version (ESV), Good News Bible (GNB), New American Bible (NAB), The Message (TM), New International Version (NIV), Today’s New International Version (TNIV), New English Bible (NEB), Revised English Bible (REB), J. B. Phillips translation (JBP), Living Bible (LB), New Living Translation (NLT), Douay-Rheims Bible, Contemporary English Version (CEV), the Revised Version (RV), the American Standard Version (ASV), and the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

These are but examples of some contemporary English Bible translations. Are the translations inerrant or does this status belong only to the originals (autographa).

I was responding on a Christian forum on the www and came across this post. AVBunyan asked and commented:

“Who Says Only the Originals Are Inspired?
“The issue seems to be inspiration – can a translation be inspired?
“Where in any Bible does it say ‘only the originals’ are inspired? Who invented this doctrine and ‘made it a fundamental of the faith’? Some folks are really hung up on this ‘original’ issue. There is no verse in any Bible that say ‘only the originals are inspired” – someone dreamed that one up – sounds really good – just not scriptural” (Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, “All Scripture God breathed“, #11).

These are good questions that deserve biblical answers. Back in 1881, scholar C. A. Briggs, had similar questions about making the autographa (the original writings of Scripture) inerrant. He wrote:

“We will never be able to attain the sacred writings as they gladdened the eyes of those who first saw them, and rejoiced the hearts of those who first heard them. If the external words of the original were inspired, it does not profit us. We are cut off from them forever” (Briggs 1881:573-74).

In a summary of his chapter addressing the topic of the inerrancy of the original documents, Greg Bahnsen wrote: “While the Bible teaches its own inerrancy, the inscripturation and copying of God’s Word require us to identify the specific and proper object of inerrancy as the text of the original autographa” (Bahnsen 1979:150).

Yet Bahnsen also stated that “there is, as one would expect, no explicit biblical teaching regarding the autographa and copies of them (1979:161). Therefore, how can the doctrine of inerrancy in the autographa have any meaning without the original manuscripts? Is what we have in translations less reliable than the original manuscripts? How can we have an authoritative Bible when we only have copies and these could be centuries after the originals?

In about the year A.D. 180, church father, Tertullian, wrote that originals of the New Testament manuscripts (NT Scripture) could be inspected in churches of his day. These were his words:

“Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings[1] are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally” (Tertullian n.d.)

Do we have any hints or direct statements in the Old and New Testaments of the original texts being authoritative or even inerrant? While the evidence is not extensive, “Scripture has scattered indications of interest in or recognition of copies and translations of God’s Word in distinction from the autographical manuscripts” (Bahnsen 1979:159).[2]

The Old Testament position on the original documents

There are four OT situations where the importance of the authority of the original documents of Scripture has some significance (based on Bahnsen 1979:165-166):

1. Exodus 32 and 34

We know from Exodus 32:15-16[3] that God himself wrote the first “two tablets of the testimony” (the law). These tablets were the work of God, but in his anger, Moses destroyed these tablets (32:19). So what did God do? God arranged for the rewriting of the original tablets (Ex. 34:1, 27-28) by whom? “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (34:27). In Deut. 10:2, 4, the Scriptures emphasise that the copy of the law contained “the words that were on the first tablets that you broke” (10:2) and were “in the same writing as before” (10:4).

This is a pertinent example of how copies were made of the original.

2. Deuteronomy 17:18

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests” (Deut. 17:18). The original manuscript written by Moses was placed beside the Ark of the Covenant by the Levites (Deut. 31:24-26). But the copy of the original received the approval of the Levitical priests.

3. Jeremiah 36:1-32

Here the prophet dictated the word of God to Baruch who wrote it on a scroll. However, because the message was not beneficial to King Jehoiakim, the king cut it up and burned it. God moved upon Jeremiah: “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned” (36:28). The standard was the original and this was a copy, but its words were “all the former words”.

4. 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34

Here the Jews showed particular respect for the original text. The story relates to the temple copy of the Book of the Law during the reign of Josiah. The Book of the Law was already known as it had been placed beside the Ark of the Covenant for public reading (see Deut. 31:12, 24-26; 2 Chron. 35:3). It is possible that copies of the Law were with some priests and prophets (Keil 1970:478).[4]

5. Warnings

The biblical writers knew how to distinguish between the original manuscripts and copies. Deut. 4:2 states: “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it”. In Deut. 12:32 is clear: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it”. From Proverbs 30:6 we have this command: “Do not add to his [God’s] word, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar”.

For the Jews, the honest approach to the Word of God was to remain faithful to the originals.

So from the OT we can see some indications of the value of original documents for an authoritative Scripture. This led Bahnsen to state, “The sufficiency of a copy is proportionate to its accurate reflection of the original. Deviation from the autograph jeopardizes the profit of a copy for doctrinal instruction and for direction in righteous living” (1979:167).

The New Testament position on the original documents

The NT also coveted the value of the original manuscripts of an authoritative document. Perhaps one of the best known examples is:

1. Revelation 22:18-19

These verses counsel, “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”.

While these verses particularly apply to the Book of Revelation, the originals as the standard are assumed.

2. Various NT emphases

The normative standard of the originals is assumed with these emphases:

a. In passages such as Matt. 15:6 and Col. 2:8, the originals were the principal standard when there was a conflict between tradition and the doctrines taught by Christ and his apostles.

b. In passages such as Matt. 5:21ff, the tradition of the OT text was not allowed to hide the genuine word of God (see mark 7:1-13).

c. What did Jesus do when the Pharisees altered the OT text? They were condemned in their teaching on hatred (Matt. 5:43) and divorce (Matt. 19:7).

d. Paul told the believers not to tamper with the God’s word (2 Cor. 4:2);

e. Only accept teachings that do not contradict the original apostolic message (see Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:8; 1 John 4:1-6);

f. 2 Thess. 3:14 gives a warning to “anyone who does not obey what we say in this letter” (the apostolic message).

g. Believers are warned not to be troubled (“quickly shaken”) by “a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter” that was purported to be from the apostles but was not (2 Thess. 2:2);

h. Paul usually wrote his letters with the help of an amanuensis (see Rom. 16:2) which could provide an opportunity for forgery. To guard against this, he would sign with his own hand (see I Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18).

These emphases cause Bahnsen to

“summarize the attitude that the Bible itself displays to the autographa and copies in this fashion. The authority and usefulness of extant copies and translations of the Scriptures is apparent throughout the Bible. They are adequate for bringing people to knowledge of saving truth and for directing their lives. Yet it is also evident that the use of scriptural authority derived from copies has underlying it the implicit understanding, and often explicit qualification, that these extant copies are authoritative in that, and to the extent that, that, they reproduce the original, autographic text” (Bahnsen 1979:168-69).

While the evidence is scattered throughout both OT and NT, we can conclude that in Scripture there is a distinction between the original documents and copies. However, the authority relates to the original. This kind of emphasis is found in an oft-repeated statement in the Bible, “It stands written” or “it is written” (e.g. Isa. 65:6; Rom. 3:10).

Bahnsen notes that “Jerome maintained in his dispute with Augustine over this matter, [that] only the Hebrew text [of the OT] was strictly inspired” (Bahnsen 1979:170).

Does the Bible teach inerrancy?

Norman Geisler in his chapter, “Philosophical presuppositions of biblical errancy”, stated:

The doctrine of inerrancy is the only valid conclusion from two clearly taught truths of the Scripture: (1) the Bible is the very utterance of God; (2) whatever God affirms is completely true and without error. Anyone familiar with the basic laws of reasoning can readily see that one and only one conclusion follows from these two biblical premises, namely, whatever the Bible affirms is completely true and without error (Geisler 1979:310).

Let’s check out these two truths:

1.  The Bible is the very utterance of God.

This is what the Scriptures state:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God [theopneustos] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (ESV). Theopneustos only occurs at this verse in the New Testament and indicates that the “author [Paul] is differentiating the writings ordained by God’s authority from other, secular works” (Schweizer 1986:454). Colin Brown states that this adjective, theopneustos, means literally, “God-breathed” and “it does not imply any particular mode of inspiration, such as some form of divine dictation. Nor does it imply the suspension of the normal cognitive faculties of the human authors. On the other hand, it does imply something quite different from poetic inspiration. It is wrong to omit the divine element from the term implied by theo-, as the NEB [New English Bible] does in rendering the phrase ‘every inspired scripture’. The expression clearly does not imply that some Scriptures are inspired, whilst others are not. The sacred scriptures are all expressive of the mind of God; but they are so with a view to their practical outworking in life (Brown 1978:491)
  • John 17:17. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (ESV). Lutheran commentator, Richard Lenski, rightly affirmed that “’Thine own word is truth’ [his translation] certifies the inerrancy and the infallibility of the Word excepting no portion of it. The holy garment of the Word is seamless; it has no rents of errors – or call them mistakes – …. ‘Thine own word’ signifies all of it, the Word of the Old Testament on which Jesus placed his approval again and again, plus revelation that Jesus added in person with the promise of its perfect preservation through the Paraclete (John 14:26; 16:13)” (1943:1149).
  • Psalm 19:7. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (ESV). While the “law” was originally associated with the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, but it eventually became associated with what we know today as the Word of God – Scripture. Please not that it is the word of Yahweh, the covenant keeping God. So God’s law, which comes from God Himself, God’s Word is perfect.

2.  Whatever God affirms is completely true and without error.

What is the nature of God in what he says and does? Here are a few verses to affirm the truthfulness (without error) of the nature of God.

  • Numbers 23:19.  “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (ESV). Thus God’s very nature is that he will not lie, change his mind or refuse to do what he has stated.
  • Deuteronomy 32:4. “”The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (ESV).
  • Psalm 86:15. “But you, O Lord, are a God(A) merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness“ (ESV).

These are but samples of God’s attributes. He is the God of truth who cannot lie. He only does what is just, upright and without iniquity. To these attributes he is the God of faithfulness.

Therefore, we can conclude that the Scriptures affirm the two assertions: (1) the bile is the very utterance of God, and (2) Whatever God affirms is true, without error, without iniquity and completely just.

My son, Paul Gear, has summarised material from one of Wayne Grudem’s articles. Paul Gear wrote: Wayne A. Grudem, “Scripture’s Self-Attestation and the Problem of Formulating a Doctrine of Scripture”, in Scripture and Truth, ed. D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), argues decisively that Scripture itself gives Christians no option but to accept inerrancy.

Here are some quotes from his article (emphasis in the original in all cases):

God’s words, especially God’s words as spoken and written by men … are viewed consistently by the Old Testament authors as different in character and truth status from all other human words; … In truth status they are seen as being different from all other human words, for human words invariably contain falsehood and error (Ps. 116:11), but these do not; they are spoken by God who never lies (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29). They are completely truthful (Ps. 119:160) and free from impurity or unreliability of any kind … (Grudem 1992:35)

Perhaps it has not been stated emphatically enough that nowhere in the Old Testament or in the New Testament does any writer give any hint of a tendency to distrust or consider slightly unreliable any other part of Scripture. Hundreds of texts encourage God’s people to trust Scripture completely, but no text encourages any doubt or even slight mistrust of Scripture. To rely on the “inerrancy” of every historical detail affirmed in Scripture is not to adopt a “twentieth-century view” of truth or error; it is to follow the teaching and practice of the biblical authors themselves. It is to adopt a biblical view of truth and error. (Grudem 1992:58-59)

To believe that all the words of the Bible are God’s words and that God cannot speak untruthfully will significantly affect the way in which one approaches a “problem text” or “alleged error” in Scripture. To seek for a harmonization of parallel accounts will be a worthy undertaking. To approach a text with the confident expectation that it will, if rightly understood, be consistent with what the rest of the Bible says, will be a proper attitude. (Grudem 1992:59)

I have looked at dozens of [“problem texts”], and in every single case there are possible solutions in the commentaries. If one accepts the Bible’s claim to be God’s very words, then the real question is not how “probable” any proposed solution is in itself, but how one weighs the probability of that proposed solution against the probability that God has spoken falsely. Personally I must say that the “difficult texts” would have to become many times more difficult and many times more numerous before I would come to think that I had misunderstood the hundreds of texts about the truthfulness of God’s words in Scripture, or that God had spoken falsely. (Grudem 1992:367-368; 59, n. 84)

The Bible’s doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture is based on its being God-breathed, theopneustos (2 Tim. 3:16). The ESV translates this verse as, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness”.

D. A. Carson, in “What is inerrancy?” wrote:

Obviously the Bible is made up of many different literary forms and genres, so sometimes the ways God discloses himself are very different than other ways that God discloses himself even in words. For example, through the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament, about six centuries before Christ, God gives Jeremiah certain words. Jeremiah dictates these words to his secretary. And his secretary writes them down. In the story, eventually some bad guys come along and pick up the manuscript – the only manuscript – and they start tearing it up and throwing it into the fire. As the reader, you are supposed to laugh because, after all, this was not a PhD dissertation by
Jeremiah; rather God gave this to Jeremiah. Do you really think God has forgotten what he has said? So God gives it to Jeremiah again. This example is plain dictation

In other passages, like Psalm 23, David can say “the Lord is my shepherd. I shall lack nothing.” David was not given that by dictation. He was expressing his own feelings and own understandings from his days as a shepherd boy. He thought this was a terrific analogy to talk about God. In both cases – Jeremiah and David – God used human individuals. This is true in other cases – some by dictation, some by visions and the like. In the case of Psalm 23, through the experiences of David, God produces a text that is simultaneously a text of the human writer and God’s own ordained, providentially-determined words.

However, the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture does not support the idea that God dictated all of his Word to all who were involved in the writing of Scripture. But all of Scripture is “breathed out by God”. That is not the case with the writing of C. H. Spurgeon, C. S. Lewis and others. Having a special gift from God for preaching, teaching and apologetics, is vastly different from Scripture that is breathed out by God.

I find it impossible to be convinced of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible and support a dictation theory of inspiration in which God’s Spirit treated the Bible writers like a CD recorder. That kind of view would make the writers passive recipients or robots. If the Scripture were inspired through a dictation theory of inspiration, it would not make sense of passages like Luke 1:1-4 where Luke states that he depended on other sources:

1Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught (ESV).

I also refer you to Thomas Watson’s article, “The Truth of God” and D. A. Carson’s, “What is inerrancy?“.

In conclusion: an illustration

People commonly say to me: But we don’t have the originals so it is pointless to talk about the inerrancy of documents we do not have. Do you think so? I have found R. Laird Harris’s explanation helpful in explaining the need to have authoritative original documents behind the copies, even though we currently do not have access to the originals (autographa). He wrote:

“Reflection will show that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is worthwhile even though the originals have perished. An illustration may be helpful. Suppose we wish to measure the length of a certain pencil. With a tape measure we measure it as 6 1/2 inches. A more carefully made office ruler indicates 6 9/16 inches. Checking with an engineer’s scale, we find it to be slightly more than 6.58 inches. Careful measurement with a steel scale under laboratory conditions reveals it to be 6.577 inches. Not satisfied still, we send the pencil to Washington, where master gauges indicate a length of 6.5774 inches. The master gauges themselves are checked against the standard United States yard marked on platinum bar preserved in Washington. Now, suppose that we should read in the newspapers that a clever criminal had run off with the platinum bar and melted it down for the precious metal. As a matter of fact, this once happened to Britain’s standard yard! What difference would this make to us? Very little. None of us has ever seen the platinum bar. Many of us perhaps never realized it existed. Yet we blithely use tape measures, rulers, scales, and similar measuring devices. These approximate measures derive their value from their being dependent on more accurate gauges. But even the approximate has tremendous value—if it has had a true standard behind it” (Harris 1969:88-89).

References

Bahnsen, G. L. 1979, “The inerrancy of the autographa” in N. L. Geisler (ed.) 1979. Inerrancy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 150-193.

Briggs, C. A. 1881. “Critical theories of the sacred Scriptures in relation to their inspiration”. The Presbyterian Review, vol. 2, 573-74.

Brown C  1978. Graph?, in C Brown (gen end), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3. 490-492. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Geisler, N. L. (ed.) 1979. Inerrancy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. Also available online at: Inerrancy.

Harris, R. L. 1957, 1969. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Keil, C.F. 1970. Commentary on the Old Testament, vol 3, 1 & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Lenski, R C H 1943. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of John’s Gospel. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers.

Schweizer, E 1968. Qeopneusto?, in G Kittel & G Friedrich, G (eds) 1968. Theological dictionary of the New Testament, vol 6, 453-455. Tr and end by G W Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Tertullian n.d. De Praescriptione Haereticorum (The prescription against heretics), in P. Schaff n.d. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, ch. 36, “The apostolic churches the voice of the apostles”, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, available at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.v.iii.xxxvi.html).

Notes


[1] Latin, “authenticæ”. At this point Schaff notes, “This much disputed phrase may refer to the autographs or the Greek originals (rather than the Latin translations), or full unmutilated copies as opposed to the garbled ones of the heretics. The second sense is probably the correct one.”

[2] For many suggestions and some content in this article on “the biblical attitude toward autographa and copies” (Bahnsen 1979:159), I am indebted to the insightful article by the late Greg Bahnsen (1979). “Greg L. Bahnsen (September 17, 1948 – December 11, 1995) was an influential Christian philosopher, apologist, and debater. He was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies” (This biographical information is from the Preterist (Study) Archive, available at: http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/b/bahnsen-greg.html [Accessed 21 March 2010].

[3] Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version 2001. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Keil’s words were, “But it by no means follows from this that before its discovery there were no copies in the hands of the priests and prophets” (1970:478).

 

Copyright © 2010 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2016.

Blue Greek Key With Lines Border by GR8DAN - A blue greek key based border.Blue Greek Key With Lines Border by GR8DAN - A blue greek key based border.

Exodus 21:22-23 and abortion[1]

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

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Abortion photo courtesy of  The Abortion Gallery

By Spencer D Gear

Exodus 21:22 reads: “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine” (ESV).

This verse has sometimes been interpreted to state that the foetus is not fully human. From the exegesis of the passage, I cannot conclude this way for these reasons:

1. The Hebrew word translated in the ESV as “come out”, is yahtzah and it means “to give birth.” This is the same Hebrew word used throughout the OT for live births. So, in this passage it refers to a premature birth of a live child. It does not refer to a miscarriage.

2. Another Hebrew word is used for miscarriage, shakol, and that is not the word used in Ex. 21:22.

3. The name of the mother’s offspring in this verse is called “children,” yeled. This is the same word that is used in verses such as Gen. 21:8 and Ex. 2:3 for babies and young children. If there was harm done to either the mother or child, the punishment was “life for life” (Ex. 21:23).

4. So, Ex. 21:22-23 demonstrates that the unborn was equal in value to the mother.

Geisler quotes the famous Hebrew scholar, Umberto Cassuto , also known as Moshe David Cassuto (1883–1951), who translated Exodus 21:22-23 this way:

“When men strive together and they hurt unintentionally a woman with child, and her children come forth but no mischief happens—that is, the woman and the children do not die—the one who hurts her shall surely be punished by a fine. But if any mischief happens, that is, if the woman dies or the children, then you shall give life for life”.[2]

Therefore, these verses confirm that unborn children in the womb are human, on the same level as an adult woman who gives birth to a child, and the punishment for killing an unborn child is “life for life”.

Notes:


[1] Information based on Norman Geisler 1989, Christian Ethics, Apollos, Leicester, England, p. 145.

[2] Umberto Cassuto 1974. A Commentary on the Book of Exodus, trans. Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: Magnes, p. 275 (cited in Geisler ibid.)

 

Copyright (c)  2010 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 0 October 2015.

The Church Fathers on Abortion

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

image image image

Abortion pictures courtesy of The Center for Biological Reform (but the link no longer operated).

See also, ‘Images of aborted children‘.

Opposing abortion is not a recent innovation. We know this from these historical sources, from some of the Church Fathers on abortion (dates given are at the end of the quote):
The Didache

“The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).

The Epistle of Barnabas

“The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following. . . . Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born” (The Epistle  of Barnabas 19:5 [A.D. 74]).

The Apocalypse of Peter

“And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion” (The Apocalypse of Peter 25 [A.D. 137]).

Athenagoras

“What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers?
. . . [W]hen we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it” (A Plea for the Christians 35 [A.D. 177]).

Tertullian

“In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed” (Apology, chapter 9 [A.D. 197]).

“Among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery.
“There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: They give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] “the slayer of the infant,” which of course was alive. . . .
“[The doctors who performed abortions] all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and [they] pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive” (The Soul 25 [A.D. 210]).

“Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does” (The Soul 27).

“The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion [Ex. 21:22–24]” (The Soul 37).

Minucius Felix

“There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide” (Octavius 30 [A.D. 226]).

Hippolytus

“Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time!” (Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, chapter 7 [A.D. 228]).

Council of Ancyra

“Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees” (canon 21 [A.D. 314]).

Basil the Great

“Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years’ penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not” (First Canonical Letter, canon 2 [A.D. 374]).

“He that kills another with a sword, or hurls an axe at his own wife and kills her, is guilty of willful murder; not he who throws a stone at a dog, and unintentionally kills a man, or who corrects one with a rod, or scourge, in order to reform him, or who kills a man in his own defense, when he only designed to hurt him. But the man, or woman, is a murderer that gives a philtrum, if the man that takes it dies upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway, and rapparees” (First Canonical Letter, canon 8).

John Chrysostom

“Wherefore I beseech you, flee fornication. . . . Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit?—where there are many efforts at abortion?—where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot you do not let continue a mere harlot, but make her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to prostitution, prostitution to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then do thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with his laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine” (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).

Jerome

“I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother. . . . Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder” (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).

The Apostolic Constitutions

“Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for he says, ‘You shall not suffer a witch to live’ [Ex. 22:18]. Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. . . . [i]f it be slain, [it] shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed” (Apostolic Constitutions 7:1.3 [A.D. 400]).

 

Copyright (c)  2010 Spencer D. Gear.  This document is free content.  You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the OpenContent License (OPL) version 1.0, or (at your option) any later version.  This document last updated at Date: 19 December 2013.

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Roman Catholic vs. Protestant views on theological authority

Friday, November 26th, 2010

I have engaged in a discussion on the use of wine at the Lord’s Supper on a Christian Fellowship Forum thread, “Rebirth and resurrection”.

Richard, one of the moderators on the Forum, responded to me at #116 of this thread. He stated:

Consider for a moment the obverse of that. Where is it ever allowed to use anything other than real grape wine? Who has the authority to say you can use coconut juice? Who gave you the authority to use coconut juice? How was that authority given to you? I’ll maintain that nobody on earth has the authority to say you can use other than grape wine. And you don’t have the authority to use other either.

Why not coffee and donuts instead of bread and wine? It’s actually a serious question.

Chris is echoing Tradition when he says what he says. I suspect he has no particular chapter and verse. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with.
I’m not saying there is any line of Scripture that commands bread and wine, but I’ll bet the apostles would give you the strangest look before correcting you if you proposed anything other than real wheat bread and real grape wine.

Again, no line from Scripture, but for a Catholic Mass there has to be real grape wine or at least the partially fermented must of grape juice.  It’s just da rulz and that’s that, at least for a Catholic.

I responded (see #125) as follows: Your position demonstrates the difference in the nature of theological authority between your understanding as a Roman Catholic and mine as an evangelical Protestant. You accept the authority of Tradition and of the Church, but for me as a Protestant, there is only one authority that is theopneustos (“Breathed out by God”) and that is Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16 ESV). Only Scripture and all Scripture is theopneustos. The Scripture does not affirm the “breathed out by God” position of tradition, councils, creeds or the church.

Tradition and creeds are interpretations of Scripture by fallible human beings. The Scripture (in the original writings) is the only infallible rule for faith and practice – biblically speaking.

<<Where is it ever allowed to use anything other than real grape wine?>>

It is practised in many places around the world. In my almost 50 years as a Christian, I have never attended or been a member of an evangelical Protestant Church that had other than grape juice and bread/wafer at the Lord’s Supper. They have been churches in Australia, England, Canada and the USA of Baptist, Australian Churches of Christ, and Pentecostal persuasion. We occasionally attend a local Presbyterian Church (my wife is their evening pianist for the service) and grape juice is used there for every Lord’s Supper celebration. OTHER THAN REAL GRAPE WINE is used in many Protestant churches around the world.

<<Who has the authority to say you can use coconut juice? Who gave you the authority to use coconut juice? How was that authority given to you? I’ll maintain that nobody on earth has the authority to say you can use other than grape wine. And you don’t have the authority to use other either.>>

That is your Tradition speaking, Richard. It is not from the Scripture which is breathed out by God. There is not a word in Scripture that says any church MUST use “real grape wine”. The only document with the authority of God is the Scripture.

<<Why not coffee and donuts instead of bread and wine? It’s actually a serious question. >>

It’s not a question, the answer to which relies on biblical authority. There is not one word in Scripture with the authority of God that states that “real grape wine” must be used in the memorial service (“do this in remembrance of me”, 1 Cor. 11:24 ESV) of the Lord’s Supper.

<<Chris is echoing Tradition when he says what he says. I suspect he has no particular chapter and verse.>>

I don’t expect that he will come back with the authoritative Scripture which states that one MUST use alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine for the Lord’s Supper, otherwise one is a sinner before God.

<<Again, no line from Scripture, but for a Catholic Mass there has to be real grape wine or at least the partially fermented must of grape juice.  It’s just da rulz and that’s that, at least for a Catholic.>>

That is your Roman Catholic tradition speaking. There is no command of Scripture to assert Chris’s line that <<except in holy communion, where drinking a bit of wine is commanded of us>> (#78 of this thread). In #84 he wrote: <<God does command all to take bread and wine in communion with Christ and in Christ>>. There is ZERO command in Scripture to use wine in Communion at the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, Chris’s statement comes without biblical authority:

<<Is the use of coconut juice in communion wrong even sinful? YES, it is being disobedient. It may be EXCUSABLE sin, but it is sinful in terms of what it does. They should import some wine>> (#114 of this thread).

When there is no biblical command to drink wine at the Lord’s Supper, there can be no sin against God by using grape juice, coconut juice or any other drink.

From a Roman Catholic understanding of theological authority, see “Francis A. Sullivan’s argument with Archbishop Bertone”. Sullivan, a Jesuit priest, states:

The history of Catholic doctrine suggests the need of great caution in claiming that something has been taught infallibly by the ordinary universal magisterium, if there is reason to judge that a position on which there was a consensus in the past no longer enjoys such a consensus. In such a case, it would be wise to put off any peremptory declaration until it becomes clear whether a question has been raised that obliges the Church to look at an old problem in a new light and perhaps come up with a better answer to it.

In his defense of the authority of Scripture, Protestant theologian, Wayne Grudem, is correct in his summary: “All the words in Scripture are God’s words. Consequently to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God himself” (1994:81).

Reformed teacher, James White, defines sola scriptura: “Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church.  The doctrine does not say that there are not other, fallible, rules of faith, or even traditions, that we can refer to and even embrace.  It does say, however, that the only infallible rule of faith is Scripture.  This means that all other rules, whether we call them traditions, confessions of faith, creeds, or anything else, are by nature inferior to and subject to correction by, the Scriptures.  The Bible is an ultimate authority, allowing no equal, nor superior, in tradition or church.  It is so because it is theopneustos, God-breathed, and hence embodies the very speaking of God, and must, of necessity therefore be of the highest authority”.

Reformed systematic theologian, Wayne Grudem, has stated that “the sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly” (1994:127).

Heinrich Heppe, in his classic work on Reformed dogmatics, states that, “The only source and norm of all Christian knowledge is the Holy Scripture” (cited in R C Sproul, “Sola Scriptura: Crucial to Evangelicalism”).

Thus, these Reformed authorities, confirm that the doctrine of sola scriptura means that the only infallible source for all Christian knowledge is Scripture – not traditions, councils, creeds or the magisterium.

See my article, “The Bible’s support for the inerrancy of the originals“, for a Protestant defense of the authority of Scripture alone.

References

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

 

Copyright (c)  2010 Spencer D. Gear.  This document is free content.  You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the OpenContent License (OPL) version 1.0, or (at your option) any later version.  This document last updated at Date: 19 December 2013.

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Just accept it by faith – a No! No!

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Faith

(image courtesy  ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

In the letters-to-the-editor, Time Australia, 10 January 2005, I read: “As a southern Baptist Sunday-School teacher, I tell my students what most of us here in the Bible Belt [USA] believe: the Scripture is the inerrant word of God, given by inspiration to the writers of the Bible. That Matthew and Luke record different details makes neither of them inaccurate. Nor does the fact that some of this cannot be corroborated by other sources. That’s why we call it faith” (on 18 June 2016, this article was not available online)

This was a response to a one-eyed liberal theological view that debunked the Christmas story, “Secrets of the Nativity” (13 Dec. 2004 cover story, Time).

Is this Sunday School teacher’s response the way to communicate with unbelieving Aussies who don’t give a hoot about God and who wouldn’t go near a Bible?

This seems to be a call to some blind leap of Bible-Belt faith that accepted the inspired, infallible word of God. When the apostle Paul was dealing with the pagan philosophers at the Areopagus, Athens (see Acts 17:16-34), he took a different line.

Dialogue with them

If they didn’t care about God, he started where they were. He got to know his audience: “He was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols” (v. 16).

If God was not at the forefront of their agenda, he reasoned daily with them – even in the marketplace (v. 17). This was no one-way communication. It was a vigorous dialogue.

For those who had very different views of God, he even debated the professional philosophers (v. 18). This is not everybody’s cup of tea. Thank God for leading apologists such as William Craig, Norman Geisler, John Montgomery, Josh McDowell and others who debate some of today’s leading secular philosophers.

For those with a view that we ought to “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” Paul still proclaimed the Gospel, even at the risk of being called a “babbler” (v. 18). Even in that pagan paradise, he proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

If these pagans were interested in philosophy other than the one true God, Paul continued his listen-observe-proclaim approach and other doors of opportunity opened. Those at the Areopagus asked: “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?” (v. 19).

With this new opportunity, he identified with the fact that “you are very religious” and have an altar “to the unknown god” (vv. 22-23). Now he’s back to using dialogue with the views of his audience.

He even discusses these issues: the nature of the one true God (vv. 24-25), the nature of human beings and their responsibility before God (vv. 26-27), ordinary quotes from secular people (vv. 28-29), and then he proclaimed the Word (vv. 30-31) – repent (the cross), judgement (the Christ) and the resurrection (Christ’s alive). This is hardly a politically correct method in these days of tolerance toward most things – except born-again Christianity.

K.N.N.O.W. the steps:

Know people and their “idols”

Nature of God

Nature of human beings

Ordinary quotes from life

Word of God (repent, judgement, and resurrection)

An example

Let’s try to flesh this out in a very compact summary of three one-hour conversations with John, a secular counsellor (he could be a school teacher, labourer, medical doctor or a bus driver), who is fairly vocal about his postmodern views. Postmodern? Just hang in there.

Spencer (S): John, in your presentation to that sex education class, I appreciated your enthusiasm for the subject and the practical and thoughtful ways that you answered their questions. You did say that all values were relative. You left it up to the students to choose their own values and you wouldn’t suggest the best way to respond to sexual choices. Are you saying that there are no sexual values that are absolutely fixed?

John (J): Yep! I would never tell students that this or that is a wrong view about sex. That would be judgmental. Besides, there are no such things as absolutes.

S: Are you saying that there is no way to say that having sex with anybody is wrong?

J: Absolutely! Choice of these values is up to the individual. Who are you to say that Peter (a 20-year-old) having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, Jane (as long as Peter uses a condom), is wrong?

S: You are committed to free choice in your view of sexual ethics. Are you absolutely sure of that?

J: You got it! Absolutely.

S: So you do believe in absolutes? Do you see what you are doing with sexual values? You say that there are absolutely no fixed standards. Relativism reigns! And yet you are absolutely sure about that.

J: It’s the only sensible way to go. As a counsellor, I am committed to being non-judgemental with my clients (and sex ed. students).

S: If those sex ed. students want to have sex with a 10-year-old, that’s OK – because you can’t be judgemental?

J: Don’t be ridiculous! I don’t support paedophiles.

S: So you have given up being the postmodern, trendy guy. You really do believe in absolutes. Sex with children is absolutely wrong. I agree with you. But let’s talk about absolutes and values.

J: You caught me out on that one.

S: But there’s more to it, John! You are left to your own human devices to decide what’s right and wrong. It’s self-defeating!

J: I’m not going to give up that easily. It makes sense to my grey matter that being non-judgemental is the way to go.

S. You mean that being non-judgemental is right. So you do believe in right and wrong after all! Let’s talk about another way of deciding right and wrong. Your god of relativism has let you down. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of values that will never let you down and you don’t have to make arbitrary judgements.

J: What do you mean? I don’t know of any other way. Any other way will put me out of step with my counselling and sex ed. colleagues.

S: Ah, you want to be postmodern, politically correct, good-guy counsellor in your profession! The Lord God of heaven and earth who made us as moral beings, has taken the guesswork out of value judgements. He sets the rules for morality and they make sense in a world that wants to throw out His kind of morality.

Let’s look at a few examples: (1) “You shall not murder.” (2) “You shall not commit adultery.” (3) “You shall not steal.” [1] Sounds pretty restrictive, doesn’t it? Law and order in Australia are built on two of these – laws against murder and theft. But it’s too bad the other has been ignored.

You’re a counsellor. You know the heartache that adultery and busted marriages cause for adults and for children. What would happen if murder and theft also were unregulated according to your rules? The Lord God states that good law invokes rules against murder, theft and adultery.

Remember situation ethicist, Joseph Fletcher? When he debated John W. Montgomery, he stated “that none of the Ten Commandments represents a normative principle for human conduct which is intrinsically valid or universally obliging regardless of the circumstances, so that, for example, in some situations theft is the right thing to do; in other situations, respect for property of others is the right way to act.” Fletcher stated that a feature writer for a national news organisation reported this comment and Fletcher “received in ten to twelve weeks about 1,500 letters, almost all of them of protest and denunciation.”[2]

You as a counsellor know what relativism is doing to sexual morality for your clients and in this country. According to your premises, you have no grounds for opposing paedophilia, sexual abuse, domestic violence, murder or theft, if we choose our own values.

J: Your view sounds too religious and restrictive for me [ends dialogue].

Dr. J. Budziszewski calls all of us to unmask the “intellectual bluff” [3] of people like John and “follow-through” with an expose of their ways.

Biblical Christianity does not say, “Just believe!” Acts 1:3 states, “After his suffering, [Jesus] showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” He gave evidence to the disciples, as he did for “doubting” Thomas after His resurrection (John 20:27-29).

In the traditional verse in support of the ministry of apologetics, Peter wrote, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [an apologia, defence of the faith] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect . . .” (I Peter 3:15 NIV).

Endnotes

1. Exodus 20:13-15.

2. Joseph Fletcher & John Warwick Montgomery 1972, Situation Ethics, True or False, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, p. 13.

3. J. Budziszewski 2003, “Off to College: Can We Keep them?,” in Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler (gen. eds.), Is Your Church Ready? Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 121.

 

Copyright (c)  2010 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 18 June 2016.

Is the Seventh-Day Adventist atonement doctrine orthodox?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Sealed  Seventh-Day Adventist Church logo.svg
Courtesy ChristArt                                            Courtesy Wikipedia

By Spencer D Gear

Does the Seventh Day Adventist church represent an orthodox, evangelical church in its teaching on Christ’s atonement? Let’s check out the evidence.

This discussion began on Christian Fellowship Forum. Harold, a Seventh Day Adventist, commented to another poster, “If you can’t find any examples in your own Bible, don’t bother. I don’t read fiction”.[1]

I (ozspen) responded: “But you do read Ellen White and promote the Investigative Judgment!”[2] Harold’s response was, “Pick up your well used Bible, find the passages that disprove that and send them to me.  She has never contradicted the Bible”.[3]

My more lengthy response to Harold was as follows:

Concerning Ellen G. White’s false teaching, including the Investigative Judgment, you wrote: ‘Pick up your well used Bible, find the passages that disprove that and send them to me.  She has never contradicted the Bible.’ I have done that and this is a glimpse of what I find.[4]

Ellen White wrote this falsehood: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (Ellen G. White 1903, ms 150, SDA Commentary V, p. 1129). This is clearly false doctrine. Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30).

Egw1899.jpg(Ellen G White 1899, courtesy Wikipedia)

Ellen White wrote in The Great Controversy (pp 6, 422):

“As in typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for redemption of men is completed, there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary.  This is the service which began when the 2,300 days ended (according to Mrs. White this was in the year 1844!  Evidently the nineteenth century was more wonderful than we had imagined!-Ed.).  At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our high priest entered the most holy to perform the last division, of his solemn work to cleanse the sanctuary … in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ, and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary … so the actual cleansing to cleanse the sanctuary… in the new covenant the sins of removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded.  But, before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement.  The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation–a work of judgment.  Those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844 (as Prophet William Miller had so dogmatically and widely proclaimed.—Ed.), Christ then entered in the most holy place of the heavenly, to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to his coming.”

The Investigative Judgment is a fantasy, a heresy. Of Jesus crucifixion, it is stated in Scripture:

“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-3- NIV).

In “What Adventists believe”, which is a statement of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, it states, “Through baptism we are truly born again in Jesus”. This is clearly false doctrine. The Scriptures state: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV). Baptism is a statement about discipleship and obedience (Matt. 28:18-20). It has NOTHING to do with entrance into the Kingdom of God by being born again. (Note: Mark 16:16, which is often used to support baptismal regeneration is not in the oldest MSS and is not considered to be part of Scripture but a later addition.)

I said to the person online: Your mind is not open to disproof, from the Bible, of Ellen White’s false doctrine.  That’s why I don’t waste my time, generally, in replying to you. Your mind is so closed that no matter how often I refute your false doctrine, you continue to come back with the worn out phrase:

‘She has never contradicted the Bible’.  She contradicts the Bible over and over, but Harold the indoctrinated SDA, doesn’t want to hear it.

Harold’s retort was:[5]

‘Ellen White wrote this falsehood: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (Ellen G. White 1903, ms 150, SDA Commentary V, p. 1129). This is clearly false doctrine. Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30)’.

I don’t know what commentary you have, but the one on my lap right now says: “But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did NOT cease to be God when He became man.  The human  did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human.  This is the mystery of godliness. …. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the God head was still His own.” Page 1129 paragraph 3, on Matt 27:54 and 1 Tim. 3:16.

I went through all her writings with the phrases ‘the man Christ Jesus’ and Lord God Almighty and found nothing like you posted.

>>The Investigative Judgment is a fantasy, a heresy. Of Jesus crucifixion, it is stated [this is an excerpt from a statement I made]:>>

You can twist that one, too.  I guess if you want to make the RCC [Roman Catholic Church] happy, you will.

Harold.

I countered:[6]

Harold,
When you are challenged about Ellen White’s false teaching, what do you do?

  • She does not believe in the deity of Christ;
  • Christ’s atonement is not enough; it needs an Investigative Judgment.

You come up with your standard line: ‘You can twist that one, too.  I guess if you want to make the RCC happy, you will’.

I am a Protestant and will never ever be a Roman Catholic. When you are shown that the Investigative Judgment is fantasy, fiction, falsehood, you trot out your logical fallacies and create straw man arguments.
Enjoy your falsehood!

Sincerely, Spencer

In my further investigation, I found, on the official Ellen G. White website, an electronic copy of Ellen White’s The Great Controversy[7]:

In Ch 23 it reads:

“For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work–to cleanse the sanctuary.

“As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary (emphasis added). And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation–a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people (emphasis added); for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12.

“Thus those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to the earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to His coming (emphasis added) (pp. 421-422).[8]

This is an example of Ellen White’s fiction when compared with the Bible. When Christ died on the cross to obtain atonement for sin, it was not enough in Ellen White’s SDA teaching. Further work was needed to be performed in atonement prior to the second coming of Christ. This is the heresy of SDA teaching: Further “cleansing of the sanctuary” by way of an Investigative Judgment is needed after Christ’s death on the cross to “redeem His people”. This must be done “prior to the [second] coming of Christ”.

This is the false teaching of Ellen White. In At Issue, an SDA site, ‘Seventh-Day Adventists Believe. . .‘, it is stated what SDAs believe about Christ’s atoning sacrifice and its association with the peculiar SDA doctrine of Investigative Judgment:

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.—Fundamental Beliefs, 23

See here for a brief explanation of The Investigative Judgment by Ellen G. White.

This is the kind of false teaching that Ellen White and the SDAs promote: The atonement is not yet finished, they say. The atonement through Christ’s death on the cross was only a commencement and it needed an Investigative Judgment that began in 1844, according to false prophetess, Ellen G White.

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What does the Bible teach?

1.  When Christ had paid the full penalty in atonement for the sins of all people, he said from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
2.  Because Christ had paid the full penalty for sin when he died on the cross, no further sacrifice or additional work was needed. Paul to the Romans was able to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 ESV).

3.  Absolutely nothing more was needed, in contrast to the SDA false teaching, to achieve atonement for sin. The Book of Hebrews confirms the finality of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross and no Investigative Judgment of “atonement preparatory to His coming” (Ellen White).

Hebrews 9:25-28 states:

25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (NIV).

4.  This is as clear as crystal: “[Christ] has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself”. There is no hint of an Investigative Judgment here. There is not a word about the blood shed on the cross as only the beginning and the atonement isn’t finished yet. John 19:30 clearly refutes such wavering with, “It is finished”.

The New Testament emphasis is that Christ’s once-for-all, one time sacrifice for sin was final. No Investigative Judgment was needed. No repetition or continuation of Christ’s sacrificial death is required. It is a heresy to emphasise any teaching that requires an addition to Christ’s one-time atonement for sin on the cross.

There is no need for anything else to be done to assure us that the penalty for sin has been paid. The penalty for all sin for all time has been paid by the once-only death of Christ on the cross. There is no need to fear condemnation for sin or further punishment for sin that had been redeemed – through Christ’s ONE death on the cross.

The SDA Investigative Judgment is a false doctrine that is condemned by the teaching of Scripture.

See, ‘Investigative judgment made simple‘, by Robert K Sanders.

A Quick Introduction to Seventh-Day Adventism: The cultic doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventism


Notes:

[1] Christian Fellowship Forum, The Fellowship Hall, “Advent – Do you or don’t you?”, Harold, #22, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=21&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=120418 (Accessed 21 November 2010).

[2] Ibid., #23.

[3] Ibid., #24.

[4] Ibid., #27.

[5] Ibid., #30.

[6] Ibid., #33.

[7] Ellen G. White The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. The Ellen G. White Estate Inc., 1999, available at: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/gc/gc.asp#23 (Accessed 21 November 2010). This is the 1911 edition.

[8] Ibid., ch. 23, “What is the sanctuary?”, available at: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/gc/gc23.html (Accessed 21 November 2010).

 

Copyright (c)  2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2016.

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