Monday, December 5, 2011

Infant Baptism (Paedobaptism) and Covenant Theology

Infant Baptism and Covenant Theology:
1. The Old Testament church and the New Testament church are in essence the same church.
2. God includes the children of believers as members of the visible church.
3. In the Old Testament, the children of believers, by virtue of being covenant members, were given the covenant sign of circumcision.
4. In the New Testament, God substituted circumcision for baptism as the sign of entrance into the covenant.
5. Therefore, children of believers, because they are covenant members, are to be given the covenant sign of baptism, just as they were previously given the covenant sign of circumcision.
1. The way of salvation (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3-13) and the Saviour (Romans 3:20-26, 1 Timothy 2:5-6) are the same for people before and after Christ.  Before Christ, people were saved by looking forward to Christ and what He would do. Today, people are saved by looking back to Christ and what He did (Hebrews 10:1-4). Both are under the same covenant (Galatians 3:27-29), members of the same body (Ephesians 2:11-19) and branches in the same olive tree (Romans 11:17-26) - unbelieving Jews were cut off, Gentile branches were grafted in.
As the Old Testament and New Testament churches are in essence the same church, their titles are interchanged: Old Testament Israel is called ‘the church’: [‘Church’ [Greek: ecclesia] = ‘congregation’ [Hebrew: qahal] (Psalm 22:22, Hebrews 2:12)]. Israel at Sinai is called "the church/congregation in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). The New Testament church is called Israel (Galatians 6:16), and terms used for Old Testament Israel are used for the New Testament church (1 Peter 2:9). God’s New Testament people are represented as a nation (Hosea 2:23, Romans 9:25-26, 2 Corinthians 6:16).
2. God included the children of believers in His covenant of grace – an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:7). God nowhere overturned the inclusion of the children of believers in the covenant: without such we cannot exclude them from the covenant. As the children of believers were covenant members, those who oppose infant baptism must prove that they were thrown out. Conversely, the New Testament affirms the covenant membership of the children of believers. Acts 2:39 “For the promise is to you and you children”. Peter was talking to Jews (people fluent in Old Testament); if their children were no longer covenant members, Peter certainly used the wrong words. The promise is the promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:8, 14) – the Abrahamic covenant is only referred to in the singular.
Paul when writing "to the saints who are at Ephesus", in Ephesians 6:1 addressed the children of believers, recognising them as church members. Paul said the children of believers are holy (1 Corinthians 7:14); ‘hagios’ is a covenantal word meaning to be ‘set apart’ to God (Romans 11:16, 1 Corinthians 3:17, Ephesians 2:21, 5:27, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, 1 Peter 2:5, 9). Paul proclaims that the law did not nullify the promise given to Abraham (Genesis 17), rather the promise “to you and you children” still holds (Romans 4:13-18, Galatians 3:13-18).
3. Children of believers received circumcision in the Old Testament (Genesis 17:10-12): a rite with spiritual significance (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 9:25-26, Romans 2:26-29).
4. Baptism replaced circumcision as the sign of entrance into the covenant. In the Old Testament, a proselyte and their household received circumcision as the sign of initiation into the covenant. In Matthew 28:19, Christ commanded his disciples to make disciples of all nations – but baptise, not circumcise them. The spiritual meaning of baptism (Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38) and circumcision are the same. Circumcision symbolised regeneration (Deuteronomy 30:6), conversion, repentance and faith (Jeremiah 4:4). In the Old Testament, a true Jew was not an outward Jew, but a person who had the inward reality (Romans 2:28-19, Philippians 3:3) – a person who was justified by faith (Romans 4:11).
God substituted circumcision for baptism as the sign of entrance into the covenant – the two share the same basic meaning – which explains why they are used interchangeably. In Colossians 2:11-12, we are said to have received the ‘circumcision of Christ’ ‘having been buried with Him in baptism’. Christ’s circumcision, which is the circumcision of the heart, signified by circumcision in the flesh, was accomplished by that which baptism signifies (Galatians 3:27-29).
5. Baptism is to the New Testament, what circumcision was to the Old Testament. Because the children of believers are covenant members they are to be given the covenant sign of baptism, just as they were previously given the covenant sign of circumcision.
The main objections to infant baptism are:
1. “There is not an explicit example of or command for infant baptism in the New Testament”. The refutation is that the burden is on them to show that the children of believers were thrown out of the covenant. Also, there is no example of or command for women participating in the Lord’s Supper either: does this mean they cannot?  Conversely, the New Testament speaks of the ‘covenantal’ baptism of whole households (Acts 16:15, 33, 1 Corinthians 1:16), upon the profession of faith of one parent. Lastly, there is not one example of the Baptist practise of a person growing up in a Christian home, then being baptised after years of proving themself to be a Christian.
2. “Faith comes before baptism, infants cannot have faith, therefore infants should not be baptised”. That objection could be rearranged to say “People cannot be saved without faith, ‘infants cannot have faith’, therefore infants cannot be saved”, which is clearly unbiblical (Psalm 22:9, Luke 1:41).  Also, their argument makes faith depend on human ability, rather than God’s grace: both infants and adults cannot believe of themselves (John 1:12-13). They are correct that an unbaptised adult must profess faith before being baptised, but they are incorrect to extend this thinking to children. This Baptist objection would be equally applicable against infant circumcision. If we apply this Baptist objection to 2 Thessalonians 2:10 we would have “Only those who work may eat, infants cannot work, therefore infants cannot eat.”
“Baptism is to the New Testament, what circumcision was to the Old Testament. Because the children of believers are covenant members they are to be given the covenant sign of baptism, just as they were previously given the covenant sign of circumcision.”
(C), J. Williams, December 2011.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The crux of the Protestant Reformation

Halloween is Roman Catholic. The Reformation is Protestant. Today is the 494th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: the rediscovery of the Biblical truth that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone according to Scripture alone. Martin Luther called Sola Fide ‘articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae’: ‘the article by which the church stands or falls’. This blog post will be devoted to this essential doctrine.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
“a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” Galatians 2:16
“Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” – Galatians 3:6-8
"Not by [human efforts] but by faith, a man is justified as was Abraham." - Athanasius
“We being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works…; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men.” - Clement of Rome
“The article of justification…is this: that by faith only in Christ, and without works, we are pronounced righteous and saved.” - Martin Luther
“To have a proper understanding of the gospel, we must recognise that we need to lean entirely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and his mercy alone as our only hope of salvation. … No one can be justified by the law; justification is through faith alone.” – John Calvin
“Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” – WSC 33
“Only Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God. And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.” – Heidelberg Catechism 61
“We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only.” – Anglican 39 Articles #11
The Bible, the church fathers, the Reformers and the Confessions all teach justification by faith alone. What does Roman Catholicism teach?
"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema." – Council of Trent, Canon 9
Who is correct? The Roman Catholic Church or God? Only one can be.
We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
(C), Jonathan Williams, October 2011.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abortion: The Second Holocaust

On Sunday, I received the following question: “In the 180 Movie, Ray Comfort compared abortion to the Holocaust. Is this a right comparison? Did Ray Comfort say anything wrong? What did you think of his gospel presentation?”

In case any of my readers are unfamiliar with the documentary, Ray Comfort walked the streets asking people their opinion on abortion before proving that their “pro-choice” potion is internally inconstant and grotesque. The video has since amassed over 420000 YouTube videos worldwide.

The query above includes three rather broad questions, so will best be addressed by overviewing the entire video. A few things to remember are (1) the video only showed scenes from each conversation (2) the purpose of the video is political: to combat abortion (3) Ray did not have the luxury of having time to think and respond behind a computer screen. No matter how much you know, you can always say things better if given even just 10 seconds to think.

1) Is it accurate to compare abortion to the Holocaust:

The video begun with host, Ray Comfort, randomly asking numerous American citizens what they knew about Adolf Hitler; the man responsible for killing over 6 million Jews during World War 2. Most interviewees had never heard of Hitler, some knew he was a world leader, while only a small minority knew of his atrocities. Conversely, German children are specifically taught about Hitler and his crimes to safeguard against another Holocaust. Comfort said, “Those who forget history, are destined to repeat it”. Adolf Hitler said “He alone who own the youth, gains the future”.
Hitler deceived the German people into believing that “the Jews are undoubtedly a race, but not human. They cannot be human in the sense of being in the image of God”. Similarly, abortion advocates have deceived people into believing that babies “are not human”. If babies are human, then abortion is murder, period. The Jews are people, therefore killing Jews is murder. Babies are human, therefore killing babies is murder. If life starts at conception, then the comparison is 100% correct. This is the point Comfort conveyed, which I will explain below.

2) Supporting the Premise:
Ray Comfort then asked those he interviewed the following question, from which the discussions continued. “Its 1943, A German officer is pointing a machine gun at you, and tells you to get in a bulldozer and drive it forward. In front of you there is a big pit. Hundreds of Jewish families have been shot. In the pit many of them are dead but some of them are still alive. Hitler tells you to bury them alive. You know if you say ‘no’ he will shoot you with his machine gun and someone else is going to do it [kill the Jews}. Would you do what he says? If you do what he says, he will let you live”.

I decided to evaluate six respondents one by one. Many more respondents changed their view on abortion to become pro-life, including some who’d personally had abortions or initially said unequivocally “I’m for abortion”. Admittedly, a small minority of people remained pro-abortion.

Respondent 1: In response to the above question, she answered “No – I would rather die not doing that”. From an anti-abortion position, how inconsistent would it then be for this person to believe that a baby should be aborted to save the life of the mother? It would equate to saying “I would hate to die having killed a complete stranger, but it would not bother me if I died knowing that I had killed my own child”. That this is the absurd logical conclusion of her response is confirmed in that she agreed that a baby is a baby in the womb.

This girl later affirmed belief in the existence of God. When asked why she would ‘advocate murder of a child in the womb, if God says do not murder’ (6th commandment) she replied that “abortion should be allowed (women’s choice) though I personally wouldn’t do it”. Comfort pointed out that this equates to saying I would not personally kill Jews but other people should be allowed to do it if they want to. To put it bluntly and from a Christian standpoint, she believes that other people should be allowed to get away with disobeying God. That will not be the story on the day of judgement.

Respondent 2: The most interesting respondent was a young blond wearing sunglasses. She answered the original question, which I will henceforth refer to as the “bulldozer predicament” by saying “I would only (drive the bulldozer) because of fear for my own life, feeling I had no other choice… what can one person do…everyone needed to rise up against him. Where was the world?” Firstly, does the fact that everyone else does something mean it is the right thing to do? That is an ad populum fallacy. Her action or lack thereof against Hitler is not a legitimate argument either way. Needless to say, she clearly admitted that driving the bulldozer would be wrong.
In repose to Comfort asking “Do you value human life”, she replied “I do value human life”, but then modified her answer to include the clause “it is a women’s right to choose”. Logically, this would mean that Hitler also had the right to choose. Comfort responded “Just as you felt strongly about the life of Jews and that we need to rise up as one person and speak against it, don’t you think we need to do the same thing when it comes to abortion.” She acknowledged this “parallel” to be “a valid point.”

Comfort continued by asking “do you think it’s a baby in womb?”, to which she responded “yes”. Next Comfort asked “what justification is there for killing a baby in the womb – can you think of one?” She could not “Um… for killing baby in the womb” **long pause** “Everyone’s situation is d…” She intended to say different, but Comfort interjected to ask “Give me a situation where it is justifiable… you can kill a baby because of…”. To this, she replied honestly “You know what - I can’t think of one.” From here she was convinced, she responded to his final question on abortion “Do you think you will vote and think differently” by saying “Yeah I definitely will. I had just said about the Holocaust where was the world. If everyone was to band together and make a difference”. She changed her stance on abortion from the mother can always choose, to abortion is a murderous Holocaust that should be actively opposed.
Just as Hitler convinced the German people that Jews were not human, so too have politicians convinced the populous that foetus’ are not human. Comfort convinced the respondent, we need to proclaim that abortion is wrong and educate people that and why abortion is wrong. This is precisely what Germany is continuing to do regarding the Holocaust.

Respondent 3: This respondent was a female in her thirties. She answered “I’d do it” to the bulldozer predicament; of abortion she said that “I think in some situations it can be necessary”. However, she then admitted the humanity of the child in the womb, and when Comfort asked her to “Finish this sentence for me… killing a baby in the womb is okay when”, she replied “never”. She was convinced, shown by her answering “Would you ever vote for anyone who is for the killing of children in the womb?” with a resounding no, and “Changed you mind about abortion?” with a resounding yes.

Respondent 4: This respondent was a man, likely in his twenties. He answered the bulldozer predicament with an unequivocal ‘no’. However, this respondent then gave an unusual answer as to whether abortion is wrong: he agreed that it is “not okay to kill child in womb”, but then said the mother has the right to abort her baby.
Comfort pointed out that this response equated to saying “What Hitler did was wrong. I think it’s his choice. I don’t think it is okay, but he did it. It was his choice to do so. He had the sanction of German people because they allowed him in. It was okay even though I don’t agree with it.” The respondent recognised that “Me saying that it is okay for someone to choose is the same thing as saying it is okay for Hitler to choose”. He changed his mind on abortion, to embrace pro-life.

Respondent 5: He answered “no” to the bulldozer predicament, then said of abortion it is “better to have a plan and give it thought” before undergoing an abortion. Comfort correctly pointed out that this equates to saying “Before you bury Jews, give thought, then you can bury them alive”. He accepted the legitimacy of this comparison, and became pro-life.

Respondent 6: This Asian lady, firstly stated her belief that “there is a foetus there not a baby”, but confessed that she did not know “when a foetus becomes a life.” Comfort then responded by way of analogy “I am a construction worker, I am going to blow up that building. There is a possibility that there is someone in there but I am going to blow it up anyway.” After a pause, she responded that abortion should happen if the baby would be born with birth defects, and therefore a low quality of life. To this, he asked her if it was okay that the Nazis killed kids with downs syndrome. She responded ‘no’, in acknowledgement that the analogies were both correct, and said that abortion was ‘never’ acceptable.

3) Where Comfort went wrong:

I remarked in my introduction that “Ray did not have the luxury of having time to think and respond behind a computer screen”. There were certainly occasions where he could have improved his phraseology or given a better response altogether, but overall he did a great job in applying the law of contradiction to abortion. However, while acknowledging that abortion was the topic of discussion, he needed to provide the biblical framework to tell exactly why abortion is wrong.
Abortion is not wrong because it can be legitimately compared to the Holocaust. Abortion is not wrong because it violates the law of non-contradiction. Abortion is not wrong because the pro-choice position is purely subjective. Don’t get me wrong, to condemn the Holocaust yet support abortion is contradictory, and the pro-choice position is purely subjective and therein contradictory; these are all valid arguments, but they are not the Biblical framework as to why abortion is sinful.
Abortion is sinful because people are from conception humans made in the image of God who commands that people are not to be murdered. Abortion is wrong because it transgresses the law of God, which expresses His holy and righteous character and standard. This is where Ray Comfort needed to begin: Christian morality does not start with “the Holocaust was wrong”; it starts with God as the standard of morality.
Ray Comfort convinced people that abortion is immoral and contradictory according to logic and their subjective standards. However, he failed to Biblically communicate why abortion is wrong, what standard abortion is wrong against, or show people how they are suppressing the truth of God by accepting morality but rejecting the necessary precondition for morality (God). The Bible was sometimes used as secondary. He would have swept the floor in a political debate, but would have been deducted marks in a theological essay.
Charles Spurgeon once said “Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.” Comfort appealed to the morality and rationale of the respondents, when God’s standard should have been his starting point. This is evidenced by the nature of the responses of those who became pro-life, of which I will give two examples:

“I had just said about the Holocaust where was the world. If everyone was to band together and make a difference.” She saw abortion to be wrong because she in her conscience was convinced that the Holocaust was wrong. She changed her mind due to logic, not conviction of sin. “Me saying that it is okay for someone to choose is the same thing as saying it is okay for Hitler to choose”. This man saw abortion to be wrong because he saw it illogical to be against the Holocaust yet for abortion. The answer lacks a Biblical framework as to why either of them are wrong; the guy got educated on logic, not sin.
I remarked earlier that “If life starts at conception, then the comparison is 100% correct.” The comparison is 100% correct, but that the comparison is correct does not make either abortion or the Holocaust right or wrong. They are both wrong because murder is lack of conformity to the character of God. What would Comfort have said to someone who supported the Holocaust?
While recognising that the focus of the video was to raise political awareness that abortion is murder, a Christian in bringing every thought captive to Christ, should make God, not logic the final arbiter of truth. Ray Comfort separated morality from the foundation of morality.

Ray said that “As we spoke about abortion it often lead to the issue of morals.” The issue of morals should have been where Ray started, not where he ended up; abortion should have been the example he used within this framework, not the framework itself. He could make logical points, but a logically constructed tower without a foundation cannot stand. He needed to prove that (1) life starts at conception (2) babies are human (3) murder, therefore abortion is wrong (4) because God is the standard of morality, not because of a common belief that the Holocaust was an atrocity.
4) What about his gospel presentation:
I noted earlier that Ray convinced people that abortion is wrong, yet did not convince them it is sin against God. I explained that the former is not the launching pad to the later, but an example to be used when proclaiming the later.

That they believed in morality, yet suppressed the source of morality is most clearly shown by how they responded when Ray Comfort finally explored why abortion is wrong. The respondent wanted to feel as if they were doing the right thing, yet did not want accountability to God. They saw themselves as good people getting better, not as sinners under the wrath of God.

Comfort asked one person “Do you believe God exists”, he answered with a dual denial of the existence of God and any sort of afterlife. Ray then asked a second question “If there is a heaven, do you think you’d get there. Are you a good person”, to which he responded “Yeah, I’m a good person.” This person was a Holocaust denying Neo-Nazi.

A girl who changed her mind to oppose abortion said “Oh yeah – for sure [I would get to heaven] God wouldn’t be mad at me.” What? So you supported murder, yet God does not care? This is a textbook answer of a humanist who likes to think of themselves as moral and logical, while suppressing the foundation for morality in unrighteousness.
Ray Comfort then correctly told many “You’re a self-admitted lying thief and blasphemous adulterer and you have to face God at judgement day and the thought of being morally responsible to him is abhorrent to him, so you deny his existence.” To most people, they admitted that they would go to hell if God judged according to His commandments, being confronted with the truth. Some of them admitted that the prospect of hell frightened them. But this is not faith.
When it came to the blond mentioned earlier (affectionately called respondent 2 by myself), Ray asked “Does it concern you if you died today and God gave you justice you’d end up in hell”, to which she replied “I think God’s a loving God… and he would see my heart”, to which Ray replied “He does and he sees a liar and adulterer and blasphemer at heart”. He then presented her with the gospel. She listened intently to the gospel message (unlike the others), and as with all the others, I pray that God uses 180 as the seed to grant her repentance.
When Ray presented the gospel message, he did a very good job, incorporating all the key elements of sin and salvation, Christ and Him crucified. My friends concern was regarding what he thought to be an Arminian slant in the gospel message.
Telling the unregenerate sinner to repent and believe is not Arminian. It is Biblical. If a Calvinist does not do this, they should certainly learn to. Telling the unregenerate sinner that if they repent and believe, they will be saved is also Biblical. You should give the imperative command, without making it an indicative that they can believe apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Also, Ray Comforts is not Arminian: he would never say “God is knocking at the door waiting for you to let Him into your heart.”

The only part of Ray’s gospel presentation that I disagree with is “Jesus stepped in and paid you fine on the cross.” Jesus may have paid for that persons sins on the cross, or he might not have. We do not know the elect from the reprobate. If Jesus died for those who will go to hell, then God would be punishing them for the exact sins that Christ paid for. That would make God unjust. The gospel is not who Jesus died for, it is what Jesus work accomplished - that Christ alone is sufficient for salvation. We should not proclaim “Jesus died for you” but (and expound of course) “If you have trust in Jesus Christ alone (Who He is, and what He did), you will be saved”.
Ray also said “Not willing that any perish”, undoubtedly quoting 2 Peter 3:9. The verse certainly cannot mean that God decreed to save everyone, yet will not save some. It regards God’s perceptive will, that He wants everyone to obey His command to repent and believe (read John Calvin). I believe this is how Ray Comfort was using the verse.
My evaluation:

Everything Ray Comfort said about abortion was 100% correct. The comparison to the Holocaust, the subjectivity of pro-choice, that abortion is murder, that abortion transgresses the 6th commandment. His presentation would have been ever better if he started with God’s revelation of His standards.

In all, Ray Comfort has made a phenomenal documentary that will be of priceless benefit in combating abortion. We have already seen its effects in challenging and convincing many of pro-life, and many pro-lifers have found some helpful points in the video. I hope that the video helps create inroads politically, by influencing people to prioritise voting for pro-life candidates, and to lobby and campaign against abortion.
After six weeks, a baby has eyes, hands and heartbeat. Over 53 million unborn babies have been killed in the Holocaust of abortion in the first 37 years after Roe vs. Wade in the USA alone.
A left wing politician once said to me “History will recognise our movement [pro-abortion] as the great battle for women’s liberation, a liberation from the curse of Mount Sinai. You are a tyrant who orders women to do the very things one doesn’t like [have a baby]”.
Change a few nouns and you have the actual quote “History will recognise our movement as the great battle for humanity’s liberation, a liberation from the curse of Mount Sinai. God is a tyrant who orders one to do the very things one doesn’t like”.

That was said by Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler hated the 10 commandments, he hated the command “You shall not murder” because it contradicted his political agenda to murder Jews. Abortion advocates hate the 10 commandments, they hate the command “You shall not murder” because it contradicts their political agenda to murder the unborn.
“Over 53 million human beings have been murdered in Americas holocaust, sanctioned by political leaders who have been put into power by American people. Never give your vote to any politician who advocates the murder of a child in the womb”. Do not vote for Barrack Obama and others who support abortion. Let us vote them out of power, to ensure that out textbooks recognise abortion for what is it: a Holocaust against the unborn.
A baby is a person from conception (Psalm 51:5 139:13-16). Therefore, a baby is in the image of God from conception (James 3:9). What does God say about shedding the blood of a person in God's image (Genesis 9:6)? God condemns it!
As every single baby is a person made in God's image, what must God think of abortion and infanticide (Genesis 9:6)? God views abortion and infanticide as murder.
Do you support abortion and agree with Hitler’s actions during the Holocaust, or do you agree with God that the Holocaust was murder and Abortion is murder? There is no third option.
(C), Jonathan Wiliams, October 2011.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Doing a 180 on Abortion

Yesterday, I posted a quick refutation of the pro-choice stance on abortion and infanticide, which can be read at the following link. A Biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Refutation of Abortion and Infanticide.

Yesterday, Ray Comfort released a 33 minute documentary which correctly compared abortion to the Holocaust. The video showed that it is inconsistent for a person to support abortion at the same time as they oppose the actions of Adolf Hitler towards 6 million Jews during World War II. The bottom line is that both the Holocaust and Abortion are murder. If you oppose the Holocaust, to be consistent, you must also oppose abortion. 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, while over 53 million babies have been murdered in the United States alone via abortion since Roe vs. Wade is 1973.

While I do not agree with Comfort's use of Amyraldian undertones at the end of the video, I highly recommend taking thirty minutes out of your life to watch the video. If everyone sits back, abortion will continue. Only if we expose abortion for the evil that it is, then act and pray accordingly (for example by not voting for those who support abortion) will people learn that abortion is murder.

The documentary can be viewed at the following link: 180 Documentary on Abortion.

(C), J. Williams, September 2011.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Refutation of Abortion and Infanticide

1. The Debate:

These topics have become controversial frontiers of political and religious debate in recent decades. Those labelled as pro-life are staunchly opposed to both and justify their position by appealing to the sanctity of human life. Conversely, those labelled as pro-choice are in favour of abortion and/or infanticide and justify their position by appealing to the women’s right to choose.

2. A Philosophical and Scientific Case:

Former Republican and U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said “I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”  The pro-choice advocate must now answer this question: “Why is the right of the mother more important than the right of their child”? They must answer with an unequivocal denial of the humanity of the unborn child, or else declare their support for murder and genocide in order to be consistent. Why is it right to kill some people and not others?

As you can see demonstrated above, the debate essentially boils down to the question of “At what time in the life cycle do we classify a person as a person”? Firstly, it is an absurd contradiction to say “I want an abortion of this potential life inside of me”, as the fact that without an abortion there would be life presupposes that the foetus is alive! Otherwise, the abortion advocate must violate the law of biogenesis: that life cannot come from non-life whereby each living thing reproduces according to its own kind. If human life does not begin at conception, human life cannot scientifically begin, (moreover exist) at all!

3. A Biblical Case:

a) God condemns infanticide:

There are numerous examples in the Bible where God punishes those who commit infanticide. God's people were commanded not to imitate their neighbours who committed infanticide through child sacrifice. The law strictly instructed them to “not give any of your children to offer them to Molech” (Leviticus 18:21), prescribing the death penalty for violating this command (Leviticus 20:2–5).

Child sacrificing was also known during Solomon's reign (1 Kings 11:7). The brutal practice spread to Moab (2 Kings 3:27), Judah (2 Kings 16:3), and the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:17). Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel condemned the practice (Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 7:31; Ezekiel 16:20–21).

b) God condemns abortion too:

God made man in his own image (Genesis 1:26–27). Since God is the Creator of human life, all human beings belong to God; life can only be taken (1) by God Himself or (2) by man on God’s terms. Killing without jurisdiction from God is a violation of the special dignity vested in human beings by God himself (Genesis 4:8–16, Exodus 20:13).  Every human life - from conception to natural death - is to be received as a gift from our sovereign Creator, so treated with reverence and respect, and not harmed without biblical justification.

Psalm 139 directly addresses the humanity of the unborn. In verse 13 David celebrates God's intricate involvement in his own foetal development: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.” David also explicitly confessed that he was sinful from conception (Psalm 51:5); which testified that he and all other people are human from conception, as all of mankind fell in Adam (Romans 5:12-21).

God's judgment fell on those who killed the unborn. Elisha wept when he foresaw the crimes of the king of Syria, who would “kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women” (2 Kings 8:12). Amos prophesied against the Ammonites because they “have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13).

A baby is a person from conception (Psalm 51:5 139:13-16). Therefore, a baby is in the image of God from conception (James 3:9). What does God say about shedding the blood of a person in God's image (Genesis 9:6)? God condemns it!

As every single baby is a person made in God's image, what must God think of abortion and infanticide (Genesis 9:6)? God views abortion and infanticide as murder.

4. How should abortion and infanticide be punished?

As abortion is murder (Hebrew ratsakh: the unjustified taking of human life), it should be punished as murder. The biblical punishment for murder is capital, with a reckoning demanded from fellow men; “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9: 5-6). As the reason given, man is made in the image of God remains, and the verse predates the Mosaic Law judicial laws, the “that is no longer binding” argument is invalid.

5. Should this issue influence how I vote?

To that question I would reply with two rhetorical questions:
1. Does prayer work?
2. Are we to pray for our Governments?

If you answer yes to both (as you should) then you have your answer (yes). If you pray for your government that they would govern according to God’s moral law, but do not vote according to God’s moral law, then you are voting against God’s perceptive will. You should vote for politicians according to the same standards you pray they rule by. Just as you should not pray “God, please legalise that which you detest”, you should not vote for those who are pro-abortion or pro any other form of murder.

The stance of a politician on abortion should strongly influence your voting. You should not vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion (e.g. Barrack Obama, Bob Brown), as to do so would be to vote pro-murder. God’s view of abortion/infanticide/murder should also be your view of abortion/infanticide/murder. You must live and vote according to this truth:

A baby is a person from conception. Therefore, a baby is in the image of God from conception. God condemns shedding the blood of a person in God's image. As every single baby is a person made in God's image, God detests abortion and infanticide. You should detest them too.

(C), J. Williams, September 2011.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Importance of Doctrine

One disagreement within Christianity regards the importance of doctrine. The opponent of my “all doctrine is important” position will argue “Doctrine is Divisive”, “We should just focus on living a godly life” or “We should be evangelising to non-Christians instead” to justify their position.

Agreed, evangelism is a Christian duty, we should absolutely live a godly life and some false doctrines don’t warrant excommunication. Labelling someone a heretic for believing supralapsarianism or traducianism (dictionary at bottom) when I don’t would be radical in light of the conduct prescribed by Paul in Romans 14. However, pointing out doctrinal errors of varying magnitudes is not wrong as the notion that doctrine is unimportant is thoroughly unbiblical and dangerous.

It must be clarified that the statement that all doctrine is essential does not mean all doctrines are essential for salvation. Secondly, not all doctrines share equal importance; for example, the holiness of God is more important than liturgy. There is a difference between essential doctrines (all Scripture), and doctrines essential for salvation as such as:

- There is one God; the God of the Bible (Isaiah 43:10).
- Jesus Christ is Lord and God (John 8:24, Romans 10:9).
- Christ died for sins, was buried and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
- We are sinners saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9).

There are numerous reasons why all doctrine is essential, though citing brevity I’ll detail just four and answer objections along the way.

Firstly, Scripture itself affirms all doctrine is essential. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB) states “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”. The quoted traits are attributed to the entirety of the OT, and by implication the whole NT also (c.f. 1 Timothy 5:18, 2 Peter 3:15-16, Revelation 22:18-19). “All Scripture is…profitable…equip(s) for every good work”. This asserts that the Scripture - authenticated by its Divine origin - affirms its own importance and the requirement for it to be studied in its entirety to equip for every good work.

Further verses proving Scripture itself asserts the importance of all doctrine include Matthew 4:4 where Jesus commands Man to live “On every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”; 1 Timothy 4:6 where God describes “a good servant of Christ Jesus” as someone who is “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine”.

 Hebrews 5:12-6:1 which contrary to the ‘doctrine is unimportant movement’ commands that Christians “leave the elementary teaching about the Christ” and instead “press on to maturity” meaning harder doctrine. "The milk" or "the elementary principles of the oracles of God" are not prescribed for the "mature" in faith: they are to press on to maturity: the "solid food". Just as newborns drink milk rather than eat steak, but eventually progress from milk to solid food, so to the milk (the basics) is for the new believer, while the mature Christian is commanded to press on to maturity: eat the solid food. It is clearly evident that God’s own testimony affirms that all doctrine is essential.

Secondly, Matthew 22:37 quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 by stating “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' Loving God isn’t only emotional - rather it includes the mind too; studying doctrine expresses loving God with your mind. Pursuing theological truth honours and glorifies God as learning doctrinally is an aspect of sanctification. Verses supporting this include John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” and Ephesians 4:24 “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Learning doctrine is inseparable from loving God. Here we see that "doctrine divides" those who are eager to love God with their mind for those who would rather not.

Thirdly, it’s impossible to separate Christ from the Scriptural truths revealing Him. Therefore, to imitate Christ you must learn the truths about Him. (Ephesians 5:1-2, Matthew 5:48, Luke 6:36, Ephesians 4:32). This fact refutes the “We should just focus on living a godly life” argument, as the two are inseparable because knowing what a godly life encompasses revolves around knowing theology. How can anyone imitate Christ if they do not know what to imitate? Christ lived the godly life, for us to do likewise in gratitude towards Him, we must know about Him.

To the objection that “We should be evangelising to non-Christians instead”, I reiterate that evangelism is a commanded duty of believers (Matthew 28:18-19, Mark 16:15), but it isn’t the only commanded duty of believers as proven earlier. Furthermore, knowing doctrine and evangelism are not polar opposites but interrelated and interdependent.

1 Peter 3:15 commands “always being ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” and Colossians 4:6 states we are to “know how you should respond to each person”. These verses command us in evangelism not just to be able to recite the gospel – but always be able to answer objections raised against Christianity.

Four of the most common objections to Christianity are:

1)      People believe in thousands of different God’s, why is the Christian God the true God and not Allah, Buddha or Zeus?
2)      Science has disproven
3)      The Bible is filled with scientific errors; for example it says that rabbits chew their cud (Leviticus 11:6), grasshoppers have four legs (Leviticus 11:20-23) and the earth is flat (Micah 5:4, Romans 10:18).
4)      You say that God is all powerful and without sin, yet there is evil and suffering in the world. So either God likes the presence of evil and suffering so is evil or He hates them but cannot stop it so he is not all powerful. Either way the Christian God cannot exist.

Obviously you require far more doctrinal knowledge than Romans 10:9 and John 3:16 to be able to answer these objections to Christianity, so rather than doctrine preventing evangelism, biblical evangelism actually requires doctrine!

To the first, you must understand the Attributes of God, the Trinity and the work of the Holy Spirit. To the second "Jesus died on the cross" will not suffice; the non-Christian would reply to that "the resurrection is scientifically impossible".

To the third,  the Hebrew doesn’t say rabbits chew their cud, rather correctly states rabbits practise refection – yes Hebrew required here! The grasshoppers two hind jumping legs aren’t included as ordinary legs as the passage states grasshoppers ‘go on all fours (and) have jointed legs above their feet’. ‘Ends of the earth’ doesn’t imply the earth is rectangular with edges; rather the ends of the earth are gentile nations. After Pentecost the gospel spread to semi-Jewish nations, then to gentile nations.

To the fourth, God is all-powerful, without sin, can stop evil and hates evil, but to actually refute the fourth objection, would require explaining the eternal decrees, the sovereignty and providence of God, which are "highly divisive doctrines"! I guess, "God is evil or has been defeated - take your pick" will have to do.

Conclusively, all doctrine is important because Scripture explicitly states so. Additionally, knowing doctrine is to love God with your mind and doctrine is essential to imitate Jesus Christ and for biblical evangelism.

Supralapsarianism and Traducianism: Don’t bother what they are; they are theological jargon to express my point
Sanctification: Process whereby believers are conformed to the image of God until death

(C), J. Williams, September 2009.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sola Scriptura Quotes of the Church Fathers

Roman Catholics often argue that Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that is foreign to church history and instead only originated with the Reformers. While the Latin term Sola Scriptura certainly arose during the Reformation, most Church Fathers held to the theology encompassed in the term Sola Scriptura. That the Church Fathers rejected the Romanist concept, but adhered to Sola Scriptura is clearly evidenced by the following quotes:

“On consideration...of the reason wherefore men have so far gone astray, or that many – alas! – should follow diverse ways of belief concerning the Son of God, the marvel seems to be, not at all that human knowledge has been baffled in dealing with superhuman things, but that it has not submitted to the authority of the Scriptures” – Ambrose

“For how can we adopt those things which we do not find in the holy Scriptures?” - Ambrose

“The holy and inspired Scriptures are fully sufficient for the proclamation of the truth” - Athanasius

“Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith's sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture” – Athanasius

“These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me” – Athanasius

“If anyone preaches either concerning Christ or concerning His church or concerning any other matter which pertains to our faith and life; I will not say, if we, but what Paul adds, if an angel from heaven should preach to you anything besides what you have received in the Scriptures of the Law and of the Gospels, let him be anathema.” - Augustine

“Neither dare one agree with catholic bishops if by chance they err in anything, but the result that their opinion is against the canonical Scriptures of God.” - Augustine

“Whatever they may adduce, and wherever they may quote from, let us rather, if we are His sheep, hear the voice of our Shepherd. Therefore let us search for the church in the sacred canonical Scriptures.” - Augustine

“For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life.” - Augustine

“What more shall I teach you than what we read in the apostles? For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare be wiser than we ought. Therefore I should not teach you anything else except to expound to you the words of the Teacher” - Augustine

“What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin” – Basil

“The hearers taught in the Scriptures ought to test what is said by teachers and accept that which agrees with the Scriptures but reject that which is foreign.” – Basil

“If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth” - Basil

“For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.” - Cyril of Jerusalem

“We endeavored as far as possible to hold to and confirm the things which lay before us, and if the reason given satisfied us, we were not ashamed to change our opinions and agree with others; but on the contrary, conscientiously and sincerely, and with hearts laid open before God, we accepted whatever was established by the proofs and teachings of the Holy Scriptures.” - Dionysius

“We are not entitled to such licence, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings” - Gregory of Nyssa

“There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source… so all of us who wish to practise piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things, then, the Holy Scriptures declare, at these let us look; and whatever things they teach, these let us learn.” - Hippolytus

"I do not, like Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles.” - Ignatius

“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith” - Irenaeus

“Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast” - John Chrysostom

“They say that we are to understand the things concerning Paradise not as they are written but in a different way. But when Scripture wants to teach us something like that, it interprets itself and does not permit the hearer to err. I therefore beg and entreat that we close our eyes to all things and follow the canon of Holy Scripture exactly.” - John Chrysostom

“It is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments” – John of Damascus

“I revere the fullness of His Scripture, in which He manifests to me both the Creator and the creation. In the gospel, moreover, I discover a Minister and Witness of the Creator, even His Word. If it is nowhere written, then let it fear the woe which impends on all who add to or take away from the written word.” - Tertullian

Having said this, caution must be taken to avoid the dangerous ideal of disregarding everything but Scripture altogether. We must carefully distinguish Sola Scriptura from Solo Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is Biblical, recognising that while Scripture alone is the rule of faith and practise, other authorities do exist (e.g. Synods and Councils) whose decrees are binding on Christians and authoritative insofar as they are consonant to the word of God.

Solo Scriptura: the 'Me and my Bible' mentality, is an unbiblical doctrine and practise wherein each individual views his own understanding as self-authenticating and authoritative. To ignore or reject the creeds and confessions equates to saying "I alone, being immune from error am better equipped than the best theologians of many eras combined". To quote Dabney, "He who would consistently banish creeds must silence all preaching and reduce the teaching of the church to the recital of the exact words of Holy Scripture without note or comment."

In summary, the Church Fathers held to Sola Scriptura. Against Roman Catholicism, they believed that the Holy Scriptures were the self-authenticating perspicuous rule of faith. Against Solo Scriptura, they recognised the existence of authorities additional to, yet in subjection to Scripture.

(C), J. Williams, April 2011.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is Van Tillian Presuppositionalism?

Van Tillian Presuppositionalism is the Reformed and therefore Biblical apologetic school. This method proves that man cannot prove anything unless the Triune God of Scripture is presupposed; said otherwise, the Christian worldview must be presupposed (the Christian) or borrowed from (the non-Christian) in order to know anything. An Intelligible argument cannot be formulated from any assumption that denies the Triune God of Scripture. Cornelius Van Til in summarising his method stated that “The only proof for the existence of God is that without God you couldn't prove anything."
Van Tillian Presuppositionalism presupposes the existence of the Triune God of Scripture. There is no neutrality between the Christian and the Non-Christian, as the Christian accepts the truth of God, while the non-Christian suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1). God’s existence is ontologically necessary, and because man’s knowledge is dependent on God’s knowledge, our reasoning and logic must be in subjection to Scripture. The Christian interprets facts in light of the self-authenticating Scriptures; therefore, because Scripture has its foundation in the all-embracing plan of God, this God must be presupposed.
The Christian worldview is the only self-consistent worldview, as the atheist cannot account for the existence of anything without borrowing from the Christian worldview. Thus, the Triune God of Scripture is proven by “impossibility to the contrary”. Because the atheist denies the source of everything (God), they cannot account for the existence of anything; therefore, whenever the atheist uses logic, reasoning, morality etc., they are borrowing from the Christian worldview in doing so. Unless the existence of the Triune God of Scripture is presupposed, it is impossible to prove anything, as God is the necessary foundation for proof itself.
The Christian communicates to the Non-Christian the truths they supress; the non-Christian will either 1) continue supressing the truth of God in unrighteousness (Bahnsen compared this suppression to denying the existence of air while breathing it) or 2) by the Holy Spirit accept the truth of God that they formerly suppressed. In both outcomes, God remains sovereign: the non-Christian will continue to supress the truth of God, unless God appointed that specific time to effectually call them by His word and Spirit to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ, monergistically enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God.
(C), J. Williams, July 2011.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Norwegian terrorist is not a 'right- wing fundamentalist Christian'

After the tragic news of the twin terror attacks in Norway on July 22 2011, news outlets throughout the world described the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik as a "right- wing fundamentalist Christian".

1) "Right Wing"

"Right- wing fundamentalist Christian" is loaded description. Firstly, to label him "right wing" without any further clarification is very misleading; such a view of the political spectrum is black and white, therefore inaccurate.

If we used those identical black and white standards used by the media to describe the right wing to likewise describe the left wing, I could just as easily argue "Robert Mugabe is left wing and extremist, Barrack Obama is left wing; therefore Barrack Obama and the entire left wing are extremists." The media's line of reasoning is therefore pure nonsesne.

The misleading journalism did not stop here. The media continued to point out Breivik's severe hatred for Muslims. And may I ask, are the moral beliefs or Islam (i.e. their views on homosexuality) right wing or left wing? If Breivik's views represent those of the entire right wing, then we must conclude that Muslims unequivocally hate themselves! Do not be fooled by the media; Breivik is not right wing, he is an extremist, just like Hitler on the extremist right, and Jong Il and Stalin on the extremist left.

2) "Fundamentalist Christian"

The second part of the phrase 'right wing fundamentalist Christian' is an even more inaccurate description. In fact, it is a blatantly dishonest attack on Christianity from the media, as the fundamentals of Breivik are certainly opposed to Christianity.

A 21st century intellectual said "I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian". That statement is from Christopher Hitchens: a man who vocally speaks out against religion, more accurately represented Christianity that the 'unbiased' media.

Breivik himself stated "If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian." Here, Breivik explicitly confesses that he does not have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God"; therefore by even Hitchens definition, Breivik is "really not in any meaningful sense a Christian". As Breivik does not even understand what Christianity is, how can we expect him to successfully and honestly explain what the "cultural, social, identity and moral platform" is? It is certainly not terrorism.

Furthermore, Breivik denied being religious, confessed that he doubts God's existence, stated that he does not pray. These are not marks of a Christian.
A Christian will keep God's commandments - not ignore them, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15 NASB); a man who doubts the existence of God cannot strive to keep that which he doubts to exist. He certainly does not obey God's command that He be prayed to (Phil. 4:6-7). The Christian does not doubt God, but believes and trusts in God in faith "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Is doubting the existence of God reconcilable with having assurance that a promise of God will come to pass by God? Breivik obviously does not have faith.

This brings up a third question: because his fundamentals are not Christian, where do his fundamentals come from? Breivik stated ‘As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings. Europe has always been the cradle of science, and it must always continue to be that way. Regarding my personal relationship with God, I guess I’m not an excessively religious man. I am first and foremost a man of logic. However, I am a supporter of a monocultural Christian Europe".

"Science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings" shows that this man's authority is not God as revealed in Scripture, but is Science as interpreted by man. Holding the science of man as authoritative over the word of God is atheistic - not Christian! Scripture declares that "God created" (Gen 1:1); it is atheism, not Scripture that removes God from creation. Darwinism is athiestic, not Christian; Breivik's authority it atheistic, not theistic. As a self-confessed Darwinist, Breivik is a fundamentalist atheist: not a Christian. 
The terrorist said further "Efforts should be made to facilitate the de-construction of the Protestant Church whose members should convert back to Catholicism. The Protestant Church had an important role once, but its original goals have been accomplished and have contributed to reform the Catholic Church as well. Europe should have a united Church lead [sic] by a just and non-suicidal pope who is willing to fight for the security of his subjects, especially in regards to Islamic atrocities."

It is clearly evident that this man is not Protestant: he described "Protestantism as the Marxism of Christianity" and referred to sola fide as "everything we do not want". Further, he longed to fight crusades under a "Crusader Pope" looking to the Roman Catholic Crusades for inspiration. He believed that those who died would receive an indulgence, and enter heaven for their martyrdom... of course this eternal life will be with the God who probably does not exist and should not be prayed to or obeyed...

3) Final Remarks:

Breivik is neither right wing, nor a fundamental Christian. Politically he is an extremist, period. Religiously he discards creation for evolution, replaces Christian duty with autonomous aggression, rejects sola fide for indulgences and rejects the truth of God for a lie. He is an atheist - not a Christian: atheistic (evolution) not theistic (God as creator). Terrorism is an ungodly result of disobeying God, not the godly result of obeying God. Terrorism is atheistic to its core.

(C) J. Williams, 2011.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Refutation of Racial Discrimination, and indirectly Kinism

The Bible in no way supports racism of any kind, and does not state that one skin colour in inferior or superior to any other. All races are equal in the eyes of the Lord, seen clearly by the fact that He has elected people from all nations.

The Image of God
God created both man and woman in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-28), from whom the entire human race descends (Genesis 3:20). James 3:9 states that all men remained in the image of God, although a fallen version. All people, black and white descend from one gene pool with a common forefather. Modern science supports these verses, as research has proven that 99.9% of all peoples DNA is identical.

Genesis 41:50 states that Joseph, who was Semitic, married Asenath who was an Egyptian woman. Numbers 12:1 states that Moses married a Cushite woman from the area now Ethiopia and Sudan. Furthermore, God punished Aaron and Miriam for criticising this inter-racial marriage. Both are occasions where a Christian married an African, if Africans could not be Christians, God would have supported a marriage between a believer and a non-believer.

Scripture states that Christians are only to marry Christians (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6: 14-18). Scripture states that marriage must be strait, not to certain relatives and to another believer. Race plays no part in God's marital laws.

Worldwide Election
In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), Jesus commanded His disciples to 'make disciples of all nations'. If a continent of unelected people existed, Jesus would have lied in saying 'all nations'.

In Galatians 3:28 Paul affirmed worldwide racial equality by saying ''There is neither Jew nor Greek... for you are all one in Christ Jesus.". Similarly, Ephesians 3:6 states that 'the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.' In essence, both verses state that racial differences are not a factor in salvation.

Revelation 7: 9-10 speaks of those saved consisting of ''a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages". People from all nations and all peoples will be saved; Jews and Gentiles, Black people and white people, etc.

All nations and races are equal in the eyes of the Lord, people from all races and nations will be saved, and the Bible does not endorse racism. People should imitate God, and not think less of others due to genetic or racial factors.

(C), J. Williams, 2010.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Protestantism and Roman Catholicism: Part 2 of 3

1)      An Introduction
This is only a very brief comparison of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Importantly, Christianity is NOT a coin with two legitimate sides to one common faith. The disagreements between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are not peripheral - rather they encompass the crux of the gospel. Stated bluntly, Roman Catholics believe that Protestants are unregenerate, while Protestants believe that Roman Catholics are unregenerate. In light of Galatians 1:8-9, Protestants are right (c.f. Ephesians 2:8-9)
When I refer to Protestantism, I use the creeds of the Reformation as the standard; for example, while many Protestants reject infant baptism, the Reformation creeds affirm it; therefore, it is the stance of Protestantism. For Roman Catholicism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Council of Trent are the standards I used. A denial of a more minor aspect of Protestantism does NOT deem someone unregenerate. I denote which teachings are damnable.
2)      Ecclesiology
It may seem tedious initially, but I must start with ecclesiology. Roman Catholics CLAIM that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ with the Apostle Paul being given “the keys to the kingdom”. Roman Catholics believe Peter was the first Pope and by Divine Institution a succession of Popes will have authority over the entire church until the return of Christ[i]. Protestants reject the Papacy, which to us has no more validity than the hierarchy of the Taliban.
Catholics and Protestants have DIFFERENT definitions of ‘church’. While Roman Catholics define the church as the visible church of Rome worldwide, Protestants distinguish between the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church is the community of those who profess faith and their children, while the invisible church refers to all of God’s elect (every person chosen by God before the foundation of the world across all time) or the worldwide totality of those who currently believe. However, the visible and invisible church are not two separate churches, but two aspects of the one church of Jesus Christ.
I will evaluate two verses on this topic:

1 John 2:19-20 states “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know”.
John is discussing people who seemed to genuinely profess faith, but then ceased fellowship. John remarks that “they were not really of us” – that is they were never genuine members of the invisible church: they never believed and were never In Christ: they were members of the visible church, but never members of the invisible church.
These people were never true Christians, as true Christians cannot apostatize “if they had been of us, they would have remained with us”; their departure from the visible church empirically proved that they were never true Christians “they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us”. The true church is not only visible but internally SPIRITUAL, as the Holy Spirit is what secures true believers against apostasy “But you have an anointing from the Holy One”.
Romans 9:6 states “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel”.
Paul differentiated between the invisible and visible church in the context of explaining why the majority of the Old Covenant Jews rejected Christ. In the broader context, “the ordo salutis” of Romans 8:29-30 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” notes that salvation is completely of the Lord: God ALONE predestines, efficaciously calls, justifies and glorifies those exact people He foreknows. The Greek word for foreknew means “to know beforehand" "fore-love" or "fore-appoint"; in Romans 8, Paul is saying the salvation of believers is rooted in God’s eternal, electing love “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
In Romans 9 Paul answers the question “How can the apostasy of Jews be explained if election is rooted in the eternal love of God?” The Old Covenant Jews partook in the sacraments (circumcision and Passover), and even lived in a theocracy, but Paul explains that the nationalistic Israel is not the TRUE SPIRITUAL Israel whom Paul is talking about in Romans 8, and later in Romans 9; it is the TRUE SPIRITUAL ISRAEL to whom God’s electing love is directed. Nationalistic Israel was the visible church, most of whom did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19), but within nationalistic Israel, there was the true Israel: the invisible church, just as within our visible congregations, there is a mixture of non-believers (visible church) and the believers (the True Spiritual Israel).
The Invisible Church is ‘Abraham’s seed’ (Gal 3:26-29) and ‘the Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16); both Jews and Gentiles scattered worldwide (remember that the covenant promises to Abraham included children, in an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:1-14), and under the theocracy of Israel, infants were likewise circumcised). “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit”. Romans 2:28-29, clearly distinguishes between the outward visible church (who partake in the sacrament of circumcision[ii]) and the inward invisible church (who are circumcised inwardly by the Holy Spirit).
Jacob and Esau were twin brothers, born at the same time, to the same parents in the same location: they were “womb mates” (thanks R.C. Sproul). Although both womb mates were circumcised as they belonged to the visible church, Esau was NOT part of the invisible church. In Romans 9:13 God said “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”: a person does not belong to the true Spiritual Israel because of flesh/nationality (verse 8), a person belongs because of "God's purpose according to His choice... because of Him who calls" (verse 11). 
Scripture distinguishes between the visible church and the invisible church; the true church is not an organisation, but a royal priesthood consisting of God’s chosen people: 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION”.
In part one (my previous post), I showed how the Roman Catholic ecclesiology is illogical (with a lot of illogical satire). Here in part two, I provided an exegesis of key Biblical passages to prove Protestant ecclesiology is Biblical, which will provide the avenue for me to in part three conclude this series by Biblically detailing "The Five Solas of the Reformation"

(C), J. Williams, June 2011

[i] Roman Catholics, like Historic Protestants (me) believe in amillennialism. This includes the belief that there will be one coming of Christ, NOT two comings separated by a literal millennial kingdom.
[ii] Circumcision was replaced with baptism as the sign and seal of God’s covenant promise (see Acts 2). Circumcision was a bloody sacrament whereas baptism is a no-bloody sacrament.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Having trouble commenting on blogger?

The question: Many people have recently asked me "Why am I unable to comment on blog posts?".

The problem: Blogger automatically logs you out off when you leave your dashboard.

The Solution: Before you log into blogger, ensure the box "keep my signed in" is not ticked. This will allow you to comment as you please!

God's Holiness, Man's Sinfulness

In recent eschatological debates, three things stand out, the common denominator being an anthropocentric worldview. These are interpretating Scripture by humanistic standards rather than by God’s perfect standards, and consequent failures to recognise the severity of sin and the absolute holiness of God. I address these below.

1)      God’s Standard, not man’s.

Yes, there will be people spending eternity in hell: universalism (everyone will be saved) was condemned as heresy by the Council of Constantinople (533). Case Closed. Is this topic emotive? Yes; in fact, the idea of “A Christian who is indifferent to Christ saving them from hell” is rather oxymoronic.

However, human emotions are not God’s standards. If you believe what you like about God and reject what you dislike about God, are you actually believing God or yourself? As Isaiah 55:9 states “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts”. We must with meek docility embrace whatever God reveals about Himself in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16); nothing more, nothing less (1 Corinthians 4:6). God’s standard of justice is what the Bible states God’s standard of justice is: not what we would like it to be. Thankfully, the standards and thoughts of an infinitly wise God are infinitely higher than ours.

'Disliked' Bible verses such as Psalm 11:5, Proverbs 16:4 or Isaiah 45:7 are to be believed, not suppressed. The Bible stresses the creator-creation distinction from Genesis 1:1: humans are utterly dependant on our Sovereign, self-sufficient, creator God for our very existence; we are commanded to submit to His decrees and commands, and are never permitted to question Him or Scripture. Man is accountable to omnipotent God: God is not accountable to sinful man. “No one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35)

In Romans 9:22, Paul reminds objectors to double predestination of this: “On the contrary, Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” I am stressing the biblical axiom to “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4). We are not permitted to answer back to God, “He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth” (Daniel 4:35). A personal dislike for a doctrine is irrelevant as God is God and we are His creations. In Ephesians 1, Paul does not emotionally object to predestination: he praises God for it and rejoices in it! We are commanded to believe God as He reveals Himself through Scripture, not according to our fallible emotions and standards, regardless of the topic of discussion, in this instance hell.

2)      The Severity of Sin and the Holiness of God

Consequential to faliure to submit to God's standards is faluire to recongise the severity of sin and the holiness of God. After the fall, God revealed as decreed before creation that He would send His Son to willingly save His people (2 Timothy 1:9). But briefly suppose a different scenario. Suppose that after the fall, God said “I said eating from the tree would be punished by everlasting death. You ate from the tree, therefore you will have everlasting death” (Genesis 2:17). If God did not decree to provide a way of salvation, on what ground could anyone call God unfair? None - hell is what our sins justly deserve (Romans 6:23).

We cannot belittle sin; we must recognise it as cosmic treason that deserves eternal punishment by an eternally holy God. God does not owe mankind anything; if something intrinsic to man obligated Christ to die on the cross, there would be no gospel of grace. That hell is what man deserves since the fall on account of personal performance is what universalism ignores: it ignores the severity of sin “If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3) and destroys the holiness of God “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD” (Isaiah 6:3). God caanot pardon any sinner without receiving due satisfaction through the penalty for sin being fully paid, as a Holy and Righteous God cannot overlook sin, but must justly react against it. (Exodus 23:7, Numbers 14:18, 1 John 1:5).

Universalists have it around the wrong way; A holy God sending people to hell is not unjust, but for a holy God NOT to punish sin with everlasting death would be unjust! As “All His ways are just” (Deuteronomy 32:4), a just and holy God must punish every sinner as they deseve; we are either justified by faith on the ground of Christ's perfect righteousness, or condemned for unbelief and sin on the ground of our utter unrighteousness.

3)      Sola Christus

On Sola Christus (English: Christ Alone) universalism stands diametrically opposed to the gospel. Firstly on a practical level, if everyone goes to heaven regardless of whether or not they believe Christ and Him crucified, then evangelism is a complete waste of time.

Attacking the crux of the gospel, if everyone is saved regardless of whether or not they believe Christ and Him crucified, then there would be more than one way to be saved, contracting Acts 4:12. If there is more than one way to be saved, then Christ died for no reason as salvation could be attained outside of Christ, contradicting Galatians 2:21 (c.f. 1:8-9). The Bible says that salvation is by God's grace alone wherein he declares us righteous only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, received by faith alone. (John 14:6, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-9).

4)      Dealing with some final objections:

a)      How can a loving God send people to hell? That question wrongly makes God’s attribute of love (wrongly using man’s, not God’s definition of love) superior to all His other attributes. God’s justice means salvation is impossible apart from Christ. If God’s is not just, His standards and love are arbitrary. Also, who do Psalm 5:5, 11:5; Romans 9:13, Ephesians 1:4-5 say are and are not the objects of God’s love? Be careful not to reject common grace though (Matthew 5:43-48).

b)      How could God punish men eternally for sins committed during a finite time on earth? That question wrongly presupposes that sinners will cease sinning upon entering hell. The opposite is true: those in hell will continue to sin for eternity (Pr. 1:24-31, Rev. 9:20-21, 16:9-11). Regardless, as no person is eternally perfect or Divine (Heb. 2:17, 4:15), payment for their earthly sins is impossible anyway.

c)       (1) God will accomplish all his purpose (2) He decreed to save everyone. Therefore won’t everyone be saved? If premises (1) and (2) are both correct, then the conclusion is true; otherwise God fails. However, while premise 1 is true of God's decree (Isaiah 46:9-11, Job 23:13, Psalm 135:6), premise 2 is false of God's decree (Proverbs 16:4, Romans 9:22). However, we must be careful not to confuse God's decreetive will (What God ordains) with His preceptive will (what God commands). God by precept desires the repentance of all people in the later sense (the obedience of his creation).
d)      Do those who never hear the gospel go to hell? Yes, No one is saved outside of Christ (John 14:6). If those who never hear the gospel are saved, then evangelism is the worst thing a Christian could do. They are condemned ‘without excuse’ on account of their sins (Romans 2:14-15) and for rejecting ‘God’s eternal power and divine nature’ clearly revealed to them in creation (Romans 1:18-20). They are condemned for their sins and unbelief.

5)      Conclusion:

The historic doctrine of hell is true: not universalism. If there are not literal people who will literally spend eternity in a literal hell, then there cannot literal people who will literally spend eternity in a literal heaven either. (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46). Anyone whose name is not written in the book will be in hell “forever and ever” (Rev. 20:11-15). This is God’s justice, by His perfect standard! We cannot neglect the wretched character of man, or any attribute of God.

(C) J. Williams, 2011.