Thursday, February 16, 2017

30 - Re-Introducing "Think Again"


I was gone, now I'm not

If you look back, way, way back into your past, when you were still younger than you are now, look back to just before Christmas of 2016. If you were following my blog, you may recall that I closed the blog called "Spaceship theology". 

I suggested then that I might start a new blog to study the New Testament as we had studied the Old Testament.  Well, here I am again!  However, rather than starting a new blog I have decided to resurrect my first blog, which is called, THINK AGAIN, and which was closed in July 2012. 

As in our study of the Old Testament, we did not touch on every story or even attempt to analyse every doctrine; that is the same format we will continue with here.   Just as in my other blog I use red for Bible quotations; blue for quotations from other works and purple for those times I put words into people's mouths.  Unless otherwise stated I use the Modern King James Version.

In 2012, in the first 29 posts of this blog, we looked at various doctrines held by the Protestant church at large. It became apparent that many of the doctrines accepted by numerous churches, in fact, do not agree with what the Bible actually says about the subject.

The Bible as the Center Piece

What an individual chooses to believe is certainly his or her choice but it seems to me that every person that chooses to believe something, should, at the very least, know that what he or she believes is supported by the book he or she has chosen to follow.

By way of introduction to this section of the blog, we will review a few previous posts from this blog.

Picture the New Testament as a bookshelf with four shelves. 

Some would have it with 5 shelves.  In doing that they have the first four books, "the Gospels", on one shelf and one book, "the Acts of the Apostles", on the second shelf.  I see it as though they belong together because all 5 books are historical.

  1. 5 books of History. 
  2. 13 books by Paul. 
  3. 8 books called, "General Epistles". 
  4. 1 book which is, Prophecy. 
5+13+8+1=27, the number of books in the New Testament.

Most Bible students put 14 books into Paul's writings and only 7 into General Epistles.  However, I think that perhaps Dr Luke, and not Paul, wrote the Book of Hebrews, and so I place the Book of Hebrews with the General Epistles.  As early as the third century AD there already was a debate about this issue.

1. On the first shelf, we find the books of History.
  • Matthew 
  • Mark 
  • Luke - all three tell the story of Christ while He lived on earth.
  • John - focuses on the teachings and spiritual impact of Christ.
  • Acts - (of the Apostles) - reports the history of the early church.

Acrostics help to memorise the order of the books. Here is an acrostic.: 
Mother Mary Likes Juicy Apples

2. On the second shelf, we find the letters of Paul; this shelf is divided into two sections. Nine letters to churches, and four letters to people whom Paul knew:

As the name implies, each of these books is a letter written to the people whose name it bears:
  • Romans - to the church at Rome in Italy
  • Corinthians, 1st and 2nd - Two letters to the church at Corinth in Greece
  • Galatians - A letter to the church at Galatia
  • Ephesians - A letter to the church at Ephesus
  • Philippians - A letter to the church at Philippi
  • Colossians - A letter to the church at Colossae
  • Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd - Two letters to the church at Thessalonica
Acrostic: Real Christian Generosity Emphasises Personal Commitment Throughout.

The following four letters were written by Paul to people who needed some guidance from a more mature person.

  • Timothy, 1st - Timothy was a young pastor, and Paul sent him some advice as to how to lead a church.
  • Timothy, 2nd - general guidelines about a preacher's lifestyle.
  • Titus - Similar information for Titus.
  • Philemon - Was the owner of a slave who had run away and Paul gave Philemon some advice.
Acrostic: Tony The Tiger Perspires

3. On the third shelf we find "The General Epistles"

  • Hebrews - to Jewish Christians who were not clear about the value of Christ's death
  • James - Martin Luther, erroneously, called this "a letter of straw"
  • 1st Peter - If we really are Christians our lifestyle will show it by our mild demeanour
  • 2nd Peter - Speaks of life on earth just before the return of Christ
  • 1st John - Christians must have genuine love one for another.
  • 2nd John - Avoid false teachers and
  • 3rd John - hold to that which is upright
  • Jude - Probably written by the brother of Jesus Christ.  Mostly a repeat of 2nd Peter.
Acrostic: However, Just Peter Joined Jude.

4. The Revelation - The book of prophecy: Things that were still future to Saint John.  This book is often called "The Revelations".  That is absolutely wrong because there is only one revelation; it is a revelation of Jesus, The Lamb of God.

It is also often called, "The Revelation of Saint John the Divine". If one is going to call it by that name the word "of", must at least be changed to "written by" and the word divine would only mean, "a notable person".

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Doctrine of the Trinity revisited

The first quotes in this post (in blue text) are taken directly from the booklet, Is God A Trinity, printed in 2011, by United Church of God, 
In the early church it wasn't long before true servants of God became a marginalized and scattered minority among those calling themselves Christians. 
The doctrine of the Trinity is considered so sacred and fundamental that many churches ... view it as a litmus test for defining who is and who isn't a true Christian.  For example, author and theology professor James White writes; "We hang a person's very salvation upon the acceptance of the doctrine ... No one dares question the Trinity for fear of being branded a 'heretic' ... We must know, understand, and love the Trinity to be fully and completely Christian".
Another author writes: "You cannot be saved if you don't believe in the Trinity". 
The booklet continues with many more examples from teachers who insist that the unscriptural belief in the Trinity is essential to being a Christian.  Ironically, Christian churches say they base their doctrines on what the Bible teaches.  
The following quotes (in blue) are from the United Church of God web page: 
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia acknowledges that "'trinity' is a second-century term found nowhere in the Bible, and the Scriptures present no finished trinitarian statement" (1988, Vol. 4, "Trinity," p. 914). It further states that "church fathers crystallized the doctrine in succeeding centuries"—long after the apostles had passed from the scene.
The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism states: "Today, however, scholars generally agree that there is no doctrine of the Trinity as such in either the OT [ Old Testament ] or the NT [ New Testament ] . . . It would go far beyond the intention and thought-forms of the OT to suppose that a late-fourth-century or thirteenth-century Christian doctrine can be found there . . . Likewise, the NT does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity" (Richard McBrien, general editor, 1995, "God," pp. 564-565).
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its article on the Trinity, explains:"Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies . . . It was not until the 4th century that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three persons" (1985 edition, Micropaedia, Vol. 11, p. 928).
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology points out that "primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds of the early church" (Colin Brown, editor, Vol. 2, 1976, "God," p. 84).
Martin Luther, the German priest who initiated the Protestant Reformation, conceded, "It is indeed true that the name 'Trinity' is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man" (reproduced in The Sermons of Martin Luther, John Lenker, editor, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 406).
Professor Charles Ryrie, in his respected work Basic Theology, writes: "Many doctrines are accepted by evangelicals as being clearly taught in the Scripture for which there are no proof texts. The doctrine of the Trinity furnishes the best example of this. It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity . . . In fact, there is not even one proof text, if by proof text we mean a verse or passage that 'clearly' states that there is one God who exists in three persons" (1999, p. 89). 
Ryrie goes on to state: "The above illustrations prove the fallacy of concluding that if something is not proof texted in the Bible we cannot clearly teach the results . . . If that were so, I could never teach the doctrine of the Trinity" (p. 90).
Professor Erickson further states that the Trinity teaching "is not present in biblical thought, but arose when biblical thought was pressed into this foreign mold [of Greek concepts]. Thus, the doctrine of the Trinity goes beyond and even distorts what the Bible says about God"
This post could be made almost infinitely long by quoting Bible teachers who say they believe that the Trinity exists, but who, at the same time admit that such a teaching is not logical, not believable or taught in the Bible.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat

If you have enough faith you will be financially well off

The idea that Christians are to be wealthy, or at least, be well off, is another one of those doctrines that many in the modern church teach because it makes the members feel comfortable in their selfishness.  To prove their stance, they quote verses from the Bible, such as the words of Christ,  I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10.  Surely, it is agreed, by any spiritually mature person, that, in this case, Christ was not speaking of material wealth, but rather of spiritual fulfillment.
Note also that Christ said that he who received much, of him much would be required.  If Christians, or local congregations, are fortunate enough to have ample financial blessings their duty is to supply the needs of the hungry and the destitute.  Their responsibility is certainly not to build superstructures that contain rotating choir stages or a few twenty-five foot waterfalls or other selfish, self-touting, superfluous physical adornments.  To be sure, on the judgment day, those Christians who endorsed such selfishness will be reminded of the parable Christ told about the master who gave five talents to one, two talents to another and one to the next.  Each was to use what they received and thereby increase the master’s bottom line.  The one who received only one talent buried that talent in the ground and made no profit.  This is a picture of those who have enough money to feed the hungry but rather than doing that they build fancy, ornate buildings where they, supposedly, go to worship; they also go to see what other people are wearing, or what kind of cars they are driving.  Christ said, I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, ...and these will go away into everlasting punishment. Mat. 25: 42+46
Those who believe that Christians will be rich if they have enough faith should perhaps take a closer look at the saints throughout history. 
Do we associate the Apostle Paul with faith?  Yet, he said that he knew what it was like to go hungry.  Was Saint John not a man of faith?  He did not live in a plush house with servants.  He was a prisoner, probably suffering beatings at the hands of Roman guards.  His faith did not make him financially well off.  The book of Hebrews, in chapter 11, writes of the heroes of faith, and when he sums up the list, he writes, others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. Heb. 11:35-39.
It goes beyond understanding how anyone, who has studied the Bible, can honestly maintain that God expects that all Christians, with enough faith, will live an affluent life.  The whole idea that Christians should be rich, is based on the selfishness of those who prefer being self centered, to Christ, but they cannot quite let go of the idea that they are Christians.
In the book of The Revelation, the city of Babylon represents the materialistic selfishness of our modern society.  In The Revelation, Babylon is called a woman.
Immediately, after John saw the wanton pleasures of sinful Babylon, he heard a voice from heaven say, Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  Rev. 18:4.  As God called Lot out of Sodom, Abram out of Ur and Israel's sons out of Egypt, so our God, in mercy, before it is too late, is calling to us, Come out of her.  He is saying to us, Come out from among them And be separate…Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters. 2 Cor. 6:17-18.  Is our love for pleasures and comfort so great that we willingly ignore our Lord, our Redeemer? 
It was in Babylon that man first built a tower to reach into heaven, now, at the end of time; our materialistic, selfish, Godless society has finished that tower.  It is a tower of sin, for Babylon’s sins have reached into heaven. 18:5.  The cup of iniquity is full, the tower of sin is finished and God "has had it" with the corrupt life style of the people of the twenty-first century.  It is deplorable that we, the church at large, have become so hopelessly entangled in the same selfish web in which non-Christians find themselves.  Note the mansions, the toys and vehicles of many Christians.  Note, how Christians “do” Christmas, all the while forgetting that there are starving children all around the world, including Canada.
She, in her pride, says, I sit a queen over all the kings of the earth, 17:18, I will see no sorrow, 18:7 In these words, it is easy to see the pope of the Roman Church foreshadowing the state of the final carnal church?  The fact that Babylon is the Mother of Harlots, indicates that she has offspring, her children are the harlots.  Some see in this picture the Roman Church as the Mother and her offspring as the carnal Protestant churches, which grew out of the Roman Catholic Church.  All of them together, the mother and the children, are so involved with pleasures that they cannot, or will not look into the future to see their doom.  Babylon is the mother of harlots, 17:5, selfishness is the ruler of kings. 17:8. 
The Bible lists, and condemns, our attitude towards these pleasures.  The merchants of the earth will weep because Babylon (the selfish lifestyle) is destroyed and is no more buying merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. Rev. 18:12-13. This lengthy quote is from: The Amazing Amalgamated Apocalypse Amplified.  You can find it on the web.
In this regard, as in many other major doctrines, the church has closed her eyes to the truth, she refuses to believe that God will judge, in righteousness, and the church’s selfish lifestyle demands condemnation.