Friday, February 17, 2012

Note the Response of the Community...

That St. Joseph's has a couple of Leviticus 18:22 alumnae is not really a news story.  What is remarkable is the approbation of their story by their fellow alumni.  The school, it seems, initially tried to exclude them from a contest, "How I met my Hawkmate," but then caved.  (read more here - not for tender eyes)

There is also a remarkable story to be considered in their seared consciences as contrasted with the more tender consciences of the men in our previous story. They have pride in their sin, not shame, whilst their Colombian counterparts were absolutely overcome (in Judas-like fashion) with shame.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lent is Biblical?!

So proclaims one blog. Of course, there's no mention of Lent in Scripture. So, how could it be Biblical? The tortured reasoning is that there are "several forty day parallels in Scripture." Let's look at those parallels:
Moses’ fasts on the the holy mountain (Ex 24:18; 34:28; Deut 9:9) and his intercession for Israel (Deut 9:25), Elijah’s journey to Mt. Horeb (1 Ki 19:8), Ezekiel’s lying on one side (Ezek 4:6), and Christ’s fast in the wilderness (Mt 4:2).
And what to do the texts say:

Exodus 24:18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Deuteronomy 9:9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:

Deuteronomy 9:25 Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you.

The following was curiously omitted by the author:

Deuteronomy 10:10 And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty nights; and the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also, and the LORD would not destroy thee.

1 Kings 19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

Ezekiel 4:6 And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

Matthew 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Oddly, the author didn't include the other synoptic accounts:

Mark 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

Luke 4:2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

Except for the Ezekiel reference, these are all examples of fasting for forty days. But note:

a) These are not prescriptive. There is nothing about these passages that suggests "imitate this example." Moreover, while there are three examples (Moses, Elijah, and Jesus) none is described as imitating the other.

b) These are supernatural and miraculous. No normal human being under ordinary circumstances can survive for 40 days without food and water. These are not part of some general plan of godly living.

c) These are isolated, not annual, events. Moses apparently fasted for forty days more than once, but it was an occasional, not regular fast. The others fasted for forty days once.

In short, these fasts are only similar to Lent in a very superficial way. Lent is simply dietary restrictions for forty days (not even consecutive days) and the way it is practiced in places like the U.S. and U.K., it's' not even really that.

The Ezekiel example is just a strange inclusion. For you will see that although a special diet is mentioned, it is not simply for forty days:

Ezekiel 4:1-17
Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: and lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about. Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.

Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.

Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.

And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.

And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.

Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth.

Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: that they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.
a) As you can, Ezekiel's curious diet was not for forty days, but for nearly four hundred days.

b) Moreover, the whole point of the diet was to illustrate the coming siege, destruction, and dispersal of the Israelites.

c) Thus, for example, the dung-baked bread was to be dung-baked to illustrate that the Israelites were going to be eating defiled bread. The odd combination of ingredients illustrates the destruction of the usual separation that Israel had experienced. The measured food and water illustrate the times of austerity that were coming. The "eat it as barley cakes" is to show that these austere portions would be considered a blessing.

In short, the Ezekiel fast (if we can call it that) points forward to a curse from God. It is descriptive and prophetic, not prescriptive. Like the fasts, it is occasional - not annual (indeed it could not be annual on this planet).

This seems absurd, ridiculous, and frankly beneath response. Yet it is apparently being offered on Facebook (evidence) as though it were a serious defense of the practice of the Roman communion.

Of course, none of this is to suggest that fasting, in itself, is wrong. Nevertheless, Christian fasting is purposeful and, usually, secret. Jesus taught us:

Matthew 6:16-18
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

See people with ash daubed on their face? They are not following this teaching.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Goes Beyond Lampoon ...

I'm not sure what else to say about this story about a pair of Columbian priests (Roman communion) who made the headlines when they were discovered murdered. Martyrs, do you think? It turns out it was a murder for hire. They were the ones who hired the hitmen. There's more, but it's not for tender eyes.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fenner on the Second Commandment

From Christs Alarm To Drowsy Saints: Or, Christs Epistle to his Churches, by William Fenner (1600-1640):
Q. 66. What art thou commanded in the second Commandment?

A. Not to serve God with will-worship, though it seem never so wise and humble, and mortifying (Colossians 2:23). To abhor all gross thoughts of God (Acts 17:29) as that he is such a one, as mens' selves do think him to be (Psalm 50:21). Not to make any Image (Deuteronomy 5:8) unless God should reveal a new Commandment, as once he did for Cherubims in the sanctuary (Exodus 25:18) and the brazen Serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:8) or unless it be in a civil use (Matthew 22:20). To abhor images of Idolaters, either to worship God before them (2 Chronicles 25:14) or in them, as the Jews did God in Baal (Hosea 2:16) or to be put in mind of God by them (Hosea 2:17) or being at Mass or communion of Service with them (1 Corinthians 10:21) or housing them (2 John 10) or bidding them God speed (2 John 11) or learning any of their devises or customs of them (Deuteronomy 12:30) or familiar reading their Books (Acts 19:19). Unless it be to confute them by their own writers (Acts 17:28) and to upbraid carnal Professors with their strictness in their kinds (Romans 2:14-17, &c.).

Q. 67. What else art thou commanded in the Second Commandment?

A. Not to lean to mine own knowledge (Proverbs 3:5) nor to serve God by the precepts of Men (Isaiah 29:13) nor as men bid me (Mark 7:6). Nor according to the Traditions and customs of the lives of our Fore-fathers (1 Peter 1:18). I am commanded to do, not only in matter what, but also in manner, as the Lord commandeth (Genesis 6:22). For otherwise my prayers and services that I do unto God, and all my sacrifices and oblations are no better then murder, or a Dog's neck, or Swine's blood, or Idolatry; so indeed it is, if I serve him after my own ways (Isaiah 66:3) not only sticks and stones are Idols (Leviticus 26:1) but carnal fancies, imaginations, dulness, deadness, luke-warmness; for there be idols in the heart (Ezekiel 14:3-4). Covetousness is Idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Stubbornness is as idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23). A careless Christian is an Idol, there is an idol Professor, an idol Christian, an idol Shepherd (Zechariah 11:17).

(Thanks to Matthew Lankford at the Idolatry Condemned blog for bringing this to my attention)

Vatican Politics - Not Quite the 15th and 16th Centuries But ...

There have been some interesting happenings at the Vatican (link to article). The Vatican was busy last week denying what the leaked communication implied (and who knows where the truth lies), but it will be interesting to see how this pans out in terms of who is the next pope. The article suggests that Tarcisio Bertone may be the one we should expect to succeed Benedict XVI. It would be an interesting change of pace, in terms of different personalities. One imagines he would be more willing than Benedict XVI to define the dogma of the co-redemptrix.


Monday, February 13, 2012

"Your Interpretation of" - a Common Objection Debunked

The Called to Communion clique is fond of replacing "Scripture" with "your interpretation of Scripture." This has the rhetorical effect of making the appeal to Scripture sound less authoritative. After all, "that's just your interpretation" is idiomatic of something that has little value. It's part of the culture of relativism, in which your interpretation is just as good as my interpretation is just as good as anyone else's interpretation.

Of course, Called to Communion uses this bait to try to plant the hook of "The Church's Interpretation" as a non-relativistic alternative to the sea of relativism. The sea of relativism, though, is not a true alternative. Not all interpretations are equally valid, and the fact that something is one's interpretation doesn't mean it has no validity or that it has equal validity with the interpretation of someone else.

In the case of a document, like Scripture, that has an intended meaning, the meaning is what the author intended, which is generally a single meaning - or in the case of certain genres a pair of meanings (the technique of double entendre is an example of the latter). And, of course, certain texts which employ figures of speech have multiple layers of meaning (depending on how one analyzes meaning - a topic really beyond this short article).

What makes an interpretation correct is it's correspondence to authorial intent. Things like majority vote of the people, or endorsement by the right number of credentialed and certified scholars, do not matter in this sphere. Instead, all that matters is alignment with what the author actually intended.

There are a variety of hypotheses about how we can determine what an author meant. If we assume that the book is incoherent or corrupted, so that it cannot convey its actual meaning itself, then we need to go to another source. This is what the Gnostics alleged, and what - in essence - each of Rome, Islam, and Mormonism have had to allege.

On the other hand, if we believe the book to be preserved and coherent, then the best way to determine the meaning of the book is from the book itself. If we want to know what some phrase or word means, we look to the context. When we read the Scriptures as a whole, we read them harmoniously - not discordantly. Paul's teaching of justification by faith apart from works doesn't contradict James' teaching on justification - even if the solution does not immediately smack everyone in the face with a two-by-four.

If we adopt the former hypothesis, we undermine Scriptural authority, if we adopt the latter hypothesis, we affirm Scriptural authority.

In a previous post, I made a comparison between the religion of Roman Catholicism and Islam (as well as Mormonism). The one particular comparison I made, which is significant, has to do with whether the Scriptures are themselves the rule of faith. Catholicism, like Islam and Mormonism, rejects this - along, I might add, with Gnosticism (see this more detailed discussion of Gnosticism's hermeneutic).

Islam makes the Qur'an (and the teachings and example of Mohammed) their rule, Mormonism makes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrines and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price (and the teachings of Joseph Smith and subsequent alleged apostles) their rule, while Catholicism makes the teachings of the Magisterium (the "universal and ordinary magisterium" but also and chiefly the teachings of the allegedly ecumenical councils and the allegedly ex cathedra statements of the bishops of Rome) their rule.

The analogy is very precise: these religions offer an authority that supersedes Scripture's authority. Rome doesn't call the decrees of their allegedly ecumenical councils and "ex cathedra" papal statements "scripture," but they give them superior authority to Scripture. (I should point out that the teachings of the "universal and ordinary magisterium" are also given authoritative weight. The only problem here is that it is far from clear what exactly that body of teachings is. While the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful sometimes appeals to the UOM on certain points, they themselves are not considered infallible.)

One objection that I received in response from "Ryan" is the sort of objection promoted at the "Called to Communion" blog. The objection is as follows: "I give statements of the Magisterium and ex cathedra papal statements superior authority to MY OWN interpretation, not to Scripture itself."

It may sound nice to those in the Roman communion to say "interpretation" but what they are really saying is that it doesn't matter to them how clearly Scripture contradicts the allegedly ecumenical councils and ex cathedra papal statements, they are going to believe the magisterium. That's just saying that Scripture has no authority to them - or at least no authority in matters on which the magisterium has also spoken.

The objection continued: "What you are really saying is YOUR INTERPRETATION of Scripture is more authoritative than the Catholic Magisterium."

I answer:

a) "The Catholic Magisterium" has very rarely actually interpreted Scripture. Try to find me any whole chapter for which there is an allegedly infallible interpretation (and this supposedly after almost 2000 years of existence).

b) What I'm really saying is that Scripture itself has more authority than the Roman magisterium. After all, you have to "interpret" the magisterium just as you have to "interpret" the Scriptures. So, compare apples to apples.

c) In other words, if you insist on pedantically inserting "interpretation of" into the discussion (as the Called to Communion crowd encourages folks to do), then the comparison is between "your interpretation of Scripture" and "your interpretation of the magisterium." But really, the comparison is between the Scripture and the magisterium. The "your interpretation of" or "my interpretation of" is just a needless insertion.

d) In some cases, the insertion of "your interpretation of" next to "Scripture" but not next to "magisterium" is part of the overall campaign of trying to supersede Scripture's authority. I don't assume that was Ryan's intent. Nevertheless, the result of adding "your interpretation of" next to "X" is rhetorically speaking to make the "X" sound less authoritative. "Scripture" sounds more authoritative than "your interpretation of Scripture," as well it should!

e) In some cases, the insertion of "your interpretation of" next to "Scripture" is just wrong. For example, our rule of faith in Christianity is not "my interpretation of Scripture" (which is something changeable) but Scripture itself (which is unchangeable). Scripture (like everything else, including the magisterium's writings) must be understood to be applied. Nevertheless, it is Scripture itself that is our rule of faith.

The objection continued: "Because you believe the Bible teaches monergism, and the Catholic Church does not believe the Bible teaches monergism, you are really comparing your interpretation to the Church's interpretation, whereas I submit my own interpretive authority to the Church."

I answer:

a) As I noted above, that's just another way of saying "no matter how clearly the Scripture teaches monergism, I will follow what the magisterium says to the contrary." It's not "submitting [your] own interpretive authority to [Rome]" it's failing to do your duty of discernment, for Scripture warns you that false teachers will arise, and it warns you about this eventuality quite clearly.

b) Your church may well insist by dogma that the Bible does not teach monergism, but she does not do so by interpretation of Scripture. Look at Trent, for example. There cooperation is defined dogma, but where is any interpretation of any particular scriptures provided? So you should see that she is not so much interpreting as just insisting.

The objection continued: "You might not think baptism regenerates us, but the Church has interpreted the Bible to mean we are indeed regenerated by baptism."

I answer: I think as you look more closely, you will find that this too is a matter of insistence, not interpretation, per se.

The objection continued: "The difference is not that the Church has superseded Scripture by daring to interpret it authoritatively; the difference is that you think your interpretation is better."

I answer:

a) Actually, I think that Scripture's meaning is truth and it is objective. So, in questions of interpretation, the question is who is right, not who is "better."

b) Your church has attempted to supersede Scripture by demanding that you understand Scripture only in ways that do not contradict what you understand your church to be saying is true. In other words, your interpretation of Scripture must be submitted to your interpretation of the magisterium, or to speak normally - Scripture's authority must be submitted to that of the magisterium.

The objection concluded: "If your analogy holds, YOUR own authority has also superseded Scripture."

I answer: Unlike your church, I don't purport to be infallible. What I insist is true is always open to correction from the authority of Scripture. What your church insists is true is not open to similar correction. She feigns to speak infallibly, I do not.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Who Led Dr. Caner to Christ? Was his Grandmother involved?

We saw that a pre-9/11 poster advertising Dr. Caner as a speaker says that Dr. Caner's grandmother led him to Christ. We also see that in this video (about half way through - note the "almost in college" claim for his conversion date at the beginning) Dr. Caner says: "All it did, was take one simple grandmother, to explain to me that everything's a trinity. Space is a Trinity, Time is a Trinity."  (link to current place)(link to original source - now broken)
I don't know whether Dr. Caner's grandmother was influential in his conversion.  I don't know the truth of how he came to serve Christ - and I don't need to know that.  I wonder whether perhaps his grandmother was influential in that process, along with his classmate from high school, but I obviously have no way of knowing.  Indeed, in the video clip linked-to above, Dr. Caner does not even say that the grandmother was his grandmother, or that this explanation was provided before his conversion.  Still, it is an interesting clip.

I don't really care for the spatial and temporal analogies to the Trinity.  I don't see any need here to get into why that is, but I think it's sufficient to say I don't think the Trinity as Trinity is directly analogous to anything in nature - the Trinity is other.


More Ergun Caner stuff ... from MosesModel

MosesModel has a few more Caner-related posts.

One offers a comparison of Caner's statements regarding what is allegedly written on the wall of a mosque in Kabul.

One highlights an amusing error regarding Caner's marriage status. It also demonstrates that not every erroneous statement about Ergun Caner's biography is the fault of Ergun Caner.

Another highlights some issues with a sermon by Ergun Caner from January 1, 2012.


Caners on the John Ankerberg Show

There are a number of clips of the Caners' previous (before 2013) appearance(s) on the John Ankerberg show.  It is unclear how this appearance will compare with the 2013 appearance in terms of the Caners' biographies/autobiographies.  The following are some notes from those clips, with links to the clips.  I'm not sure how much use these are, but I offer them more or less by way of an index for interested people, since it appears quite a few people are interested in the subject.

What is Christmas time like for a Muslim?

Ankerberg's question seems to assume that the Caners both came to America, when in fact Emir was born here.  Emir does not clarify this in the clip.

Emir claims that they did not celebrate Christmas due to their father's protectiveness.

What is Salvation for a Muslim?

No biographical details.

Former Muslim Testimony

Ergun claims that they did not have close friends, even in high school.

Ergun credits Jerry Tackett with being tenacious for years.

Ergun claims that walking into a church would "defile" him.

It is interesting to hear Emir claim that the verse in the Quran that says that "they did not crucify him" says that someone took his place.  That's definitely a predominate Muslim interpretation of the verse, but it is not what the verse says.

Ergun claims that Shabir Ally would always ask in debate, "What does one man's death have to do with me?"

Former Muslim Disowned by Father

How did you survive being disowned by your father, Ankerberg asks.  Ergun talks about how his father was a hero to him.

Islam Proselytizing America

No biographical details.

What do Muslims Believe about Jesus?

No biographical details.

Leading a Muslim to Christ

Emir cites "volume 5 of the Hadith, number 266."

Muslim Belief about Grace and Unconditional Love

No biographical details.

What do Muslims Believe?

No biographical details.

What happens when a Muslim Becomes a Christian?

Ergun talks about coming forward the fourth or fifth time he had been in church, to be led to Jesus by the minister.

Emir says that Ergun was saved about a year prior to Emir.  Emir says that the same friend "along with my brother" invited Emir to church as well.  Emir claims he went forward that night and was saved.  Interestingly, at page 19 of "Unveiling Islam," the Caners had claimed that Ergun invited Emir to church after Erdem had been saved in their basement (link).

Emir claims that he and Ergun were disowned at separate times by their father.

Emir cites "Hadith, Volume 9, Number 57," but adds "of Bukhari's hadith."

Ergun claims he went to his father and told him that he believes Jesus is the Son of God.

He said that after he didn't see his father for another 17 years.

How can a Muslim know he is going to Heaven?

No biographical details.

Do Muslims have to Pay for their Own Sins?

No biographical details.

What will happen if Islam keeps Growing?

No biographical details.

What will happen if Christian keeps getting "watered down"

No biographical details.

Sharia Law

Emir claims that in Sharia if a woman is raped it is considered her fault.

Is Jihad Physical Warfare?

No biographical details.

How Many Countries have Sharia Law?

Ergun claims he does debates.

Muslim Beliefs about End-time Events

No biographical details.

Muslims and Eschatology

Ergun claims that he was taught that the Jews drink the blood of Palestinian children.

Why is Jerusalem important to Muslims?

Ergun claims he was raised to hate the Jews.

Ergun also claims he believes Jesus died so that Osama bin Ladin could be saved.

Does Islamic Eschatology Depend on Conquest of the World?

Ergun claims that his father died believing that the first gulf war didn't take place, because Islam can't lose.

Is Mohammed the Prophet that we all should Follow?

No biographical details.

Is Mohammed the Exemplar we should follow?

The Caners claim to be working on a commentary on every verse in the Koran from an Evangelical standpoint ("2.3 million words" - Ergun Caner).

What is the Influences on or of Mohammad?

Ergun treats the "Gospel of Barnabas" as being written "five centuries after any apostles have been on the planet."  (In fact, it's a 14th century forgery, more than five centuries after Mohammad)  Ergun claims that this development gives Mohammad credence.

Interestingly, Ergun suggests we should beware of a man who is the hero of every illustration, beware of a pastor who is the hero of every story.

Compare Jesus with Mohammad

No biographic details.

What about the Dark Side of Islam?

No biographic details.

Who is Allah?

Ergun refers to his and Emir's debates, and claims that they have not met one scholar who would say that Allah and Jehovah God of the Bible are the same God.

What is the plan of salvation in Islam?

No biographic details.

What about Hell in Islam?

No biographic details.

What about the Holy Spirit in Islam?

No biographic details.

Where do the five pillars of Islam come in?

No biographic details.

What is the good news Islam doesn't have?

No biographic details.

Why is it so hard for Muslim people to become Christians?

Emir notes that he and Ergun were disowned by their father.

Caners talk about their father, a devout Muslim

Ergun talks about being cut out of pictures.  Ergun claims he never got to see two sisters born or raised.

Ergun describes coming to see their dying father.

Emir talks about how he and Erdem were saved the same week and baptized the same Sunday.

Emir mentions that his mother had become a Sunni Muslim because of their father.  Emir also mentions the salvation of his grandmother, without claiming she had been a Muslim.

Emir also refers to his half-sisters as sisters.

What can happen to Muslim women who are saved?

No biographic details.

Can we reach Muslims here in America?

No biographic details, aside from mentioning international trips.

A Palestinian Arab that became a Christian

No biographical details.

Leading a Muslim to Christ

No biographical details.