Saturday, April 07, 2007

Response to Dave Barry

Today, April 7, 2007, the New York Daily News republished a "classic" Dave Barry column.

Among many other things, Dave Barry wrote regarding the televangelists available in South Florida on a 24 hour televangelism cable channel:

But as entertaining as these shows are, their message tends to be somewhat repetitive ("God loves you! So send us money!"), whereas on your local TV news shows, they're always surprising you with dramatic new issues that you should be nervous about.

Sadly, Mr. Barry, you do hear that message a lot. I know you are a humor columnist, and that you may not (no, certainly do not) even take your own column seriously. Nevertheless, your comic oversimplification demonstrates what people hear.

It's not the message of the Bible.

The message you should be hearing, Mr. Barry, is this:

  • All men, yourself included, were created by God.
  • As Creator, God demands that you follow the moral law.
  • He has given you a general sense of this moral law in your conscience. That's why, when you lie to someone, you have that icky feeling afterwards. Deep down, you know that it is wrong.
  • Whether or not you still hear your conscience, God wrote down those moral laws in summary form in stone and gave them to Moses. I'm sure you're well aware of this fact, Mr. Barry, since you live in the U.S. where people have virtually all heard of the ten commandments.
  • Because you have broken at least one of those laws in some form or another, God's position is that you deserve to die not just now on Earth, but for all eternity in Hell. I recognize that this is not what the "big-haired" (your words) folks tend to emphasize.
  • That's very bad news.
  • Nevertheless, things are not hopeless. If you trust in God, if you repent of your sins (your violations of His moral laws), if you confess them to Him, and beg Him to forgive you, He will. God is a merciful God. He shows mercy unto those who come to Him for mercy.
  • But go to Him quickly, and seek salvation from Him. Pray to Him that he will forgive your sins.
  • If you trust in Him, He will save you.

And, Mr. Barry, if you do not already trust in Him, I urge you to do so, sir. For when you pass on, it will be too late, and life is fleeting.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spanking Debate - Open Challenge

Open Challenge
to any professing Christian

Scripture, Historical Christianity, and especially Reformation theology are clear:

If you love your children, you will spank your children.

There are modernist in the church who are seeking to deny this, to assert that is wrong for parents to hit their children, or the like.

I hereby challenge any professing Christian to a debate on the topic of spanking.

I offer this affirmative thesis that I will defend:

Scripture commands parents to spank their children as a general rule when the children deserve such a spanking, it is hatred of one's child to refuse to follow this rule, and such an understanding is the consistent teaching of virtually all pre-modern Christian exegetes who have addressed the issue.

If you are interested in debating this topic (or a subpart of the topic), either comment on this post, or send me an email. You can access my email through my profile, which is linked on the left side of this blog.

I don't expect to get any serious offers from anti-spanking advocates, because - frankly - Scripture and History are clear on these issues. Nevertheless, if there is an overwhelming response, I'll let those anti-spanking advocates who post here pick a spokesman by a democratic process, and then they can all pile on with comments.

The proposed format is:

I will present a < 5000 word opening statement.
The anti-spanking advocate will present a < 5000 word opening statement.
I and the anti-spanking advocate will take turns asking questions for up to 20 questions each ( 500 word per question limit for questions and 2500 word per answer limit for answers).
The anti-spanking advocate will present a < 5000 word conclusion statement.
I will present a < 5000 word conclusion statement.
Then we will each take questions from the public, with the same question/answer word limits and with the public choosing who the primary answerer will be.

  • Any takers?


The Canon Votes at Trent

One Roman Catholic apologist has made a claim regarding a vote at Trent regarding the Canon of Scripture.

A few websites state that the Council of Trent voted 24 aff/ 15 neg/ 16 abstain to adopt the canon of the Old Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. It's interesting that the dogmatized view did not command a majority vote (only a plurality vote) on the topic. It really makes one wonder what goes through the minds of Roman Catholics who adopt Trent's definition as infallible.

So far, I cannot see any other references to votes on the topic of the canon that were made at Trent.

Can anyone point me to more information?



RCC apologist's claim: "From these we see that the bishops at Trent were not silent about their silence on this question. They had a discussion about it. At the end of that discussion, they took a vote. This is a matter of record, not of interpretation. On March 29, 1546 the Council Fathers took up the fourth of fourteen questions (Capita dubitationum) on Scripture and Tradition. At issue was whether those books that were not included in the official list, but were included in the Latin Vulgate (e.g. The Book of Esdras, Fourth Ezra, and Third Maccabees), should be rejected by a Conciliar decree, or be passed over in silence. Only three Fathers voted for an explicit rejection. Forty-two voted that the status of these books should be passed over in silence."

But a primary source:
Paolo Sarpi Istoria del Concilio tridentino ("History of the Tridentine Council), Libro secondo (Second Book), L'edizione volgata approvata in congregazione (The Vulgate edition approved in congregation).

La congregazione de' 29 tutta fu consummata sopra il quinto articolo, perché avendo parlato i teologi con poca risoluzione e col rimetter al voler della sinodo, a quale appartiene far i statuti, i padri ancora erano ambigui. (emphasis added)

The point that I'm drawing from this is that Sarpi claims that enitre 29th day (of March 1546) was consumed with discussion of the fifth (quinto) article.

No mention is made in Sarpi of any vote taking place on 29 March 1546.

Furthermore, from the same book, chapter "Il canone de' libri sacri stabilito, e si tratta della traslazione latina" (The canon of Holy Scripture established ...)

Sarpi writes:
"Il dí 15, proposte le tre formule, se ben ciascuna ebbe chi la sostentò, la terza però fu approvata dalla maggior parte. Nelle seguenti congregazioni parlarono i teologi sopra gli altri articoli, e molta differenza fu nel terzo sopra la translazione latina della Scrittura tra alcuni pochi che avevano buona cognizione di latino e gusto di greco, et altri nudi di cognizione di lingue."

The point I'm making here is that the 15th day of March is the day, according to Sarpi, when the canon of Scripture was established. Likewise, there is no mention in Sarpi of any such vote either on the 15th nor in the interim until the 29th as discussed above.

Here's a woodcut of Sarpi:


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Epistle of James

Some, following Luther, have questioned whether James is part of Scripture.

I take the view that it is part of Scripture, as do virtually all the Reformers after Luther and all the Reformers before Luther.

An objector asserted various points against James.

1) That it contradicts Paul's epistles and can only be reconciled by mental gymanstics.

2) That it was not relied upon for the first 400 years of the church.

3) That James was notoriously anti-Pauline, citing the proceedings of the council of Jerusalem.

I disagree with each of these contentions.

In terms of early use of James' epistle in the church, Irenaeus (died 202), "Against Heresies" Book IV, Chapter XVI quotes James 2:23.

In terms of reconciling James and Paul, James speaks of justifying oneself in the eyes of men ("show me thy faith") whereas Paul speaks of justification before God ("... by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight..." ... "if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God." ... "no man is justified by the law in the sight of God,"). Thus, Paul explains the importance of faith in salvation, and James explains a way to identify whether we and others have faith (and therefore have been saved), teaching what the Lord taught: "by their fruits ye shall know them." After all, the engrafted word will bear fruit in us.

As it is written "... the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

I'm not sure if the objector views that as gymnastics - but I don't think it is.

As for the council of Jerusalem, we see James' instruction in Acts 15:20 of what to write. We see it being written in Acts 14:29 (with an assertion that it is inspired in verse 28), and we see confirmation that it was written in Acts 21:25 and we see Paul confirming by deed his submission to the Holy Spirit in Acts 21:24-26.

In fact, while Paul was not afraid to oppose Peter and to record his opposition in Scripture, there is no record of Paul and/or Barnabus opposing the council. Instead, we see that they were sent out by the council (headed by James) and they came back and reported back to the council.

So, I do respectifully disagree with the objections, and I do not believe that they are factually supported.

Nevertheless, I welcome any comments.

May the God of peace bless all of us,


P.S. Today, James Swan has posted an interesting article that touches somewhat on this issue, and is worth reading: