Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mister Rogers Remixed

Clever. The old folks like me will appreciate this.

Rhology Unleashed: Bowling at Tiber Lanes (and Update)

For those of you who want to see how it's done when playing at Tiber Lanes, visit this discussion [edit: the webpage was removed, but can be found here) and watch Uncle Rho bowl a perfect game, knocking down all the Romanist pins each time it's his turn. Take notes on his technique because this sort of ability doesn't just "happen." It's the result of years of careful analysis and apologetic encounters.

Addendum 1
Well now, this is an interesting twist. The recent conversion tale in question has disappeared (recall a recent CTC conversion tale disappeared as well).

2 convert posts, 2 deletions.

Perhaps one of them had a dream, confirmed by one of their wives, instructing them to remove the recent conversion tales.

Rhology has an update on all of this here.

Addendum 2
The entire blog which hosted the convert story has vanished, but the page in which Rhology interacted with it (along with the story) can be found here. Frankly, the conversion story doesn't interest me at all. Rather, Rhology's interaction with it and other comments makes it worth the read. Stories are just that: stories.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Refuting Muslim attacks on the Gospel of John

I just published this at my other blog, at "wordpress", called "apologeticsandagape", which I created in order to interact with Muslim blog articles by Paul Bilal Williams and the Muslim Debate Initiative.

I repeat it here:

Sam Shamoun has written a very good article that refutes Paul Bilal William's attacks on the Gospel of John, called "Jesus, John's Gospel, and Williams". (also linked again below)  Paul Williams likes to quote many different scholars on the Gospel of John, and also tries to use the more conservative ones like Richard Bauckham, F. F. Bruce, and Ben Witherington to make his case.

Paul Bilal Williams' favorite quote from Bauckham is this:

"All scholars, whatever their views of the redactional work of the Synoptic Evangelists and of the historical reliability of the Gospel of John, agree that the latter presents a much more thoroughly and extensively interpreted version of the story of Jesus." (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses; Richard Bauckham,  p. 410.)

[By the way, "all scholars" agree that Jesus the Messiah was crucified and died on a Roman cross in real history.  The Qur'an denies real history - Surah 4:157. ]

Richard Bauckham does say that John's Gospel is more "interpretive", but that is not a problem, as we can see that John wrote John 1:1-18 and writes what the Holy Spirit told him to write about Jesus. John chapters 14 and 16 clearly say the Holy Spirit will come and teach the disciples and lead them into all the truth.  Remember also that John (and Peter and James) were the inner circle of friends of Jesus' disciples.  John had more access to Jesus than Bartholomew and Philip and Matthew and Thomas.  Peter was a man of action, and Mark writes his Gospel reflecting Peter's action oriented personality.

Bauckham never says in the quotes that Paul Williams supplies that "John put words in Jesus' mouth".  You can read the quotes that Paul provides from Bauckham at the beginning of the article at answering-islam.org.  (see below)  So, Richard Bauckham never says the words recorded by John as spoken by Jesus are "made up".  And John 1:1-18 is not something that is just "made up", but is inspired truth that the Holy Spirit led John the apostle to write.  If that is what Bauckham means by "interpretive", then that is fully compatible with the Christian view of inspiration and that all the 27 books of the NT are "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

"Jesus, John's Gospel, and Williams", by Sam Shamoun:  http://answering-islam.org/authors/shamoun/rebuttals/williams/john_different.html

What follows is Sam Shamoun's rebuttal, with my added comments and my numbering and emboldening of his main points.

"Williams calls into question the veracity of John’s Gospel, even though it is a first century document that Williams’ own cited author [Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eye-Witnesses]  admits was written by an eyewitness of the historical Jesus, solely because it reads differently from the other Gospels!

And yet Williams follows a book which comes over 600 yeas later (which assumes that the traditional dating is correct, an assumption which we have no good reasons for accepting), that was composed by a so-called prophet who never met the historical Jesus, and never knew (let alone interviewed) the eyewitnesses to Jesus, whose views about Jesus contradict the testimony of the Synoptic Gospels!  [ And by someone who clearly who did not know the contents of "the gospel" - the Injeel - الانجیل .  If God was inspiring Muhammad, he would have known about the New Testament' content and doctrines and quoted from it and accurately reported what Christians believed and did not believe.  As it is, it is obvious he is just hearing things - bits and pieces of information - like Jesus is the Messiah, is born of the virgin Mary, is the word of God ( Kalimat Allah = کلمه الله - which shows that the Christians were speaking about John 1:1 and John 1:14, even though Muhammad interpreted that wrongly.); that Jesus is a "spirit from Allah" روح من الله  (see Surah 4:171), and that Jesus did miracles, etc.  ]

Now wouldn’t this mean that Williams would have to reject Muhammad’s testimony, much like he rejects John’s Gospel, seeing that the former’s statements concerning Christ do not agree with the Synoptic Gospels?

The irony here is that, unlike Muhammad, John at least agrees with the other Gospel writers concerning the Person and work of Christ.

1.  For instance, all four of the Gospels testify that Jesus is God’s unique, beloved Son:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’ And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.” Mark 9:2-8 – cf. 1:11; 12:1-8

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matthew 11:27 – cf. Luke 10:22

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:35-36

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.’” John 5:19-20
2.  All of them [all 4 Gospels] agree that Jesus is the Son of Man:
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Rise, take up your bed and walk”?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’ And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” Mark 2:5-12 – cf. Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26

“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:8 – Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5“While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’” Luke 22:47-48

“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7:55-56

“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,’” John 3:13-14

“Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” John 6:62 – cf. 6:27; 8:28, 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31-32
3.  In fact, they [all 4 gospels] even agree that Jesus is the Danielic Son of Man (cf. Dan. 7:13-14) who judges and determines the eternal fate of all the nations, with angels attending and serving him:
“Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send HIS angels, and they will gather out of HIS kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.’” Matthew 13:36-43“When the Son of Man comes in HIS glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on HIS glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’… Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’… And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46 – cf. Mark 8:38; 14:61b-62

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in HIS glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26 – cf. 12:40; 17:22-30; 18:8; 21:27, 36

“Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered him, ‘Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” John 1:49-51

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him… And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:22-23, 27
4.  All of them [all 4 gospels] agree that Jesus receives reverence and worship:
“Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:33

“Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when he had come out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said to him, ‘What have I do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God that you do not torment me.’” Mark 5:1-7

“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him.” Mark 5:22-24a

“But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.” Mark 7:25-26

“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:50-53

“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Who is he, Lord?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” John 9:35-38
5.  All [4 gospels] of them agree that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ and that Jesus baptizes his followers with the Holy Spirit:
“Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” Mark 1:6-10 – cf. Matthew 3:11-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

“John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.”’ … The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”  And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:15, 29-34
6.  All of [the 4 gospels] them agree that Jesus is the Savior:
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17

“They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” John 4:42

“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” John 12:47
7.  All [4 of the gospels] of them agree that Jesus came to save people from their sins by offering his life as a vicarious sacrifice:
“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 – cf. Mark 10:45

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28 – cf. Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20

“‘I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:48-54
8.  All [4 of the gospels ] of them agree that Jesus would (and did) rise from the dead on the third day:
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Matthew 16:21 – cf. 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 27:62-66; Mark 8:31-32; 9:30-31; 10:32-34; 14:58; 15:29

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest… That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ And he said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.’… Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:1-9, 13-24, 44-47 – cf. 9:21-22, 43-45; 18:31-34

“And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” Acts 10:39-41

“So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:19-22
9.  All [4 of the gospels] of them agree that Jesus was crucified alongside two others, with the Roman soldiers dividing his garments among themselves and casting lots for his clothing, and with an inscription placed above his head with the charge “King of the Jews” written on it:
“And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left… Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” Mark 15:21-27, 32 – cf. Matthew 27:32-38; Luke 23:32-43

“So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but rather, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.’ This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.’” John 19:16-24a
10.  All [ 4 gospels] of them agree that there were a group of Jesus’ followers who were present at his crucifixion:
“There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.” Mark 15:40-41 – cf. Matthew 27:55-56, 61; Luke 23:55-56

“… So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:24b-27
11.  All [ 4 gospels] of them agree that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in his own tomb:
“And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” Mark 15:42-47 – cf. Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:50-56

“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” John 19:38-42
12.  All [ 4 gospels] of them agree that it was a group of Jesus’ women followers that first discovered the empty tomb:
“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:1-8 – cf. Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:1-12, 22-24

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and WE do not know where they have laid him.’” John 20:1-2
13.  What makes this all the more damaging to Williams’s criticism is that the oldest extant document on Muhammad’s life identifies John’s Gospel as the very Gospel which God revealed to and through Jesus!
“Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted FROM WHAT JOHN THE APOSTLE SET DOWN FOR THEM WHEN HE WROTE THE GOSPEL FOR THEM FROM THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS SON OF MARY: ‘He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, “They hated me without a cause” (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord’s presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord’s presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.’“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete.(The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The above Muslim biographer quotes John 15:23-16:1 and says that it is taken from the Gospel of Christ which John wrote down for Jesus’ followers, without a word of it being corrupted or unreliable!

What makes Ibn Ishaq’s witness all the more important is that his biography underwent a purging at the hands of Ibn Hisham in the ninth century AD. Ibn Hisham omitted material from Ibn Ishaq that he felt was either weak or damaging to Muhammad’s credibility. And yet he left Ibn Ishaq’s testimony concerning John’s Gospel intact, which implies that it met his demands for authenticity.  

Now if Williams still wants to question the reliability of John’s Gospel on the grounds that it doesn’t read exactly the same way as the other Gospels do, or that it contains more explicit statements from Jesus concerning his divine identity not found in the others, despite their complete agreement with one another concerning Christ’s Person and work, then wouldn’t consistency and integrity demand that he also reject the Quran seeing that it totally opposes the portrait of Christ found in the Synoptic Gospels?

Hopefully, Williams will prove to be a man of integrity and do the honest thing by rejecting Muhammad as a false prophet. After all, if he is going to consistently apply his own criticisms of the Holy Bible to the Quran then he has no choice but to abandon Islam and stop being a Muslim. He simply has no other choice."  (Sam Shamoun, "Jesus, John's Gospel, and Williams", with my numbering and emboldening the main points, and some comments.)

Indeed, all four gospels have the feeding of the five thousand, the trials, the crucifixion, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Al Masih.  The Qur'an denies real history by denying the crucifixion and death of Christ, which all scholars agree - that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and died.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Creation Museum and Luther: Oops.

I found the picture below on this blog. The author rightfully points out a number of errors in the picture of Luther from the Creation Museum exhibit. Here's a very obvious one, at least to me. The quote is probably not something Luther said:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
As far as I know, there isn't any proof Luther actually said this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Luther Said: Doing Good Is More Dangerous Than Sinning

The web page The Truth About Martin Luther and Why So Few Read His Works, presents a number of Luther quotes and confidently states, "You'll find that not one of these passages means anything apart from what appears here; indeed, I challenge you to try to imagine any context that could possibly change the meaning of these words." With this challenge in mind, they present the following Luther quote with accompanying commentary:
Luther Said: Doing Good Is More Dangerous Than Sinning
"Those pious souls who do good to gain the Kingdom of Heaven not only will never succeed, but they must even be reckoned among the impious; and it is more important to guard them against good works than against sin." (Wittenberg, VI, 160, quoted by O'Hare, in 'The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, p. 122.)

You must be thinking, "What? Could he possibly have written what I thought I just read? 'It is more important to guard them against good works than against sin.'" Well okay, read it again, just to make sure. We'll wait. See? You were right the first time. Luther cautions us against good and upright actions. He says, don't worry about sin -- Jesus will take care of it. But doing good -- that you'd better watch out for. Especially if you think being kind and generous and loving will affect your outcome at the final judgment. In his hubris, he ignores verse after verse of Scripture — New Testament and Old — where we are told that the way we live out our faith will be the criterion upon which we will be judged. As Paul makes eminently clear in Rom. 2: 5-11, "...the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works." And again in 2 Cor. 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat... so that each one may receive recompense , according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil." Luther was utterly and monumentally wrong -- wrong for the ages.
The web page cites "Wittenberg, VI, 160, quoted by O'Hare, in 'The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, p. 122." It's extremely unlikely  "Wittenberg, VI" was actually utilized. This refers to the earliest collection of Luther's Works (dating 1539-59).  Rather, the work of Roman Catholic author, Father Patrick O'Hare's book, The Facts About Luther serves as the context for this quote. There is indeed irony here, because the web site hosting this web page is opposed to Romanism. In other words, this web site, while vehemently opposed to Romanism doesn't mind using Romanist argumentation when it's suits their purposes.

Father O'Hare states,
It cannot be denied that Luther taught that "good works are useless," that "they are sin," and, in fact, "impossible." In his "Babylonian Captivity" (Chap. de Bapt.) he says, "The way to heaven is narrow; if you wish to pass through it, throw away your good works." "Those pious souls," he says further, "who do good to gain the kingdom of heaven, not only will never succeed, but they must even be reckoned among the impious; and it is more important to guard them against good works than against sin." (Wittenb. VI. 160.) Thus, good works, the practice of piety, and the observance of the Divine commandments, the only way, according to Jesus Christ, which leads to eternal life, are in his estimation troublesome superfluities, of which Christian liberty must rid us. Rather, according to this false teacher, they are invincible obstacles to salvation, if one places the least reliance upon them. "Faith alone," said he, "is necessary for Justification: nothing else is commanded or forbidden." "Believe, and henceforth you are as holy as St. Peter."
I've been through enough of these old quotes to know the way things were cited in previous generations often makes what should be easy to locate very difficult. Often the quotes cited are loose translations (maybe not even from the original language the quote was in) and may not actually be to the source cited. O'Hare refers to one Luther's main treatises, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, specifically, the chapter on "Baptism."  This was was one of those times in which trying to figure out what O'Hare was specifically referring to wasn't easy to determine.  I was helped by another similar citation and reference by this old Romanist source:
Let us give a few other texts from Luther, for they are more conclusive than argument. "How rich is the Christian! Even if he would he could not be disinherited by sin: not to believe in the Son of God is the only sin in this world. Believe, therefore, and you are sure of your salvation." (Luther, "Captivity of Babylon.") "There is no more dangerous, more pernicious scandal than a good life exteriorly manifested by good works. Pious souls who do good to gain the kingdom of heaven not only will never reach it, but will be counted among the damned." (Works of Luther, vol. vi.) "The Gospel does not ask our works for our justification; on the contrary, it condemns these works." "Murder, theft are not sins so great as to wish to reach heaven through good works, which are the things most prejudicial to salvation." (Sermons inedits publics par Mack.)
The similarities of these two English renderings, both appealing to volume vi of the Wittenberg collection of Luther's Works, and both mentioning the Babylon Captivity treatise make it probable  that Luther's Babylonian Captivity of the Church is indeed the source in question.

If the quote in question does come from the Babylonian Captivity treatise, here's how Luther presents the argument. The sacrament of Baptism has a mighty power, and men must have faith in it as divine work of God:
Now, the first thing to be considered about baptism is the divine promise, which says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” [Mark 16:16]. This promise must be set far above all the glitter of works, vows, religious orders, and whatever else man has introduced, for on it all our salvation depends. For unless faith is present or is conferred in baptism, baptism will profit us nothing; indeed, it will become a hindrance to us, not only at the moment when it is received, but throughout the rest of our lives. That kind of unbelief accuses God’s promise of being a lie, and this is the greatest of all sins. If we set ourselves to this exercise of faith, we shall at once perceive how difficult it is to believe this promise of God. For our human weakness, conscious of its sins, finds nothing more difficult to believe than that it is saved or will be saved; and yet, unless it does believe this, it cannot be saved, because it does not believe the truth of God that promises salvation. (LW 36:58).
Since baptism is a divine promise, it should be used to nourish faith. When a Christian struggles against sin and doubt, he needs to be reminded of his baptism:
Therefore, when we rise from our sins or repent, we are merely returning to the power and the faith of baptism from which we fell, and finding our way back to the promise then made to us, which we deserted when we sinned. For the truth of the promise once made remains steadfast, always ready to receive us back with open arms when we return. And this, if I mistake not, is what they mean when they say, though obscurely, that baptism is the first sacrament and the foundation of all the others, without which none of the others can be received.(LW 36:59)
What had happened though, according to Luther, is that the Roman church rather instructed to men to place their hope in penance rather than in their baptism:
But Satan, though he could not quench the power of baptism in little children, nevertheless succeeded in quenching it in all adults, so that now there are scarcely any who call to mind their own baptism, and still fewer who glory in it; so many other ways have been discovered for remitting sins and getting to heaven. The source of these false opinions is that dangerous saying of St. Jerome—either unhappily phrased or wrongly interpreted—in which he terms penance “the second plank after shipwreck,” as if baptism were not penance. Hence, when men have fallen into sin, they despair of the “first plank,” which is the ship, as if it had gone under, and begin to put all their trust and faith in the second plank, which is penance. This has given rise to those endless burdens of vows, religious orders, works, satisfactions, pilgrimages, indulgences, and monastic sects, and from them in turn has arisen that flood of books, questions, opinions, and man-made ordinances which the whole world cannot contain. Thus the church of God is incomparably worse off under this tyranny than the synagogue or any other nation under heaven ever was. (LW 36:57)
The quote in question appears after this basic argumentation:
Thus you see how rich a Christian is, that is, one who has been baptized! Even if he would, he could not lose his salvation, however much he sinned, unless he refused to believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins, so long as the faith in God’s promise made in baptism returns or remains, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because he cannot deny himself if you confess him and faithfully cling to him in his promise. But as for contrition, confession of sins, and satisfaction, along with all those carefully devised exercises of men: if you rely on them and neglect this truth of God, they will suddenly fail you and leave you more wretched than before. For whatever is done without faith in God’s truth is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit [Eccles. 1:2, 14]. (LW 36:60)
When some read citations like this from Luther, they assume Luther was promoting antinomianism. This would be grossly incorrect.  The thrust of Luther's thought is to not rely on one's own work for salvation, which is what was popularly going on in Luther's day. After the quote in question, Luther goes on to say:
Beware, therefore, that the external pomp of works and the deceits of man-made ordinances do not deceive you, lest you wrong the divine truth and your faith. If you would be saved, you must begin with the faith of the sacraments, without any works whatever. The works will follow faith, but do not think too lightly of faith, for it is the most excellent and difficult of all works. Through it alone you will be saved, even if you should be compelled to do without any other works. For faith is a work of God, not of man, as Paul teaches [Eph. 2:8]. The other works he works through us and with our help, but this one alone he works in us and without our help. (LW 36:62).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Luther and Baptism

"Could you comment on the following work of Luther where he states that salvation comes by baptism. Luther stated in his large Catechism 1529 used to aid clergy: "But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body." ... No greater jewel, therefore, can adorn our body and soul than Baptism, for through it we obtain perfect holiness and salvation, which no other kind of life and no work on earth can acquire"[source].
Sure. Keep in mind though, I'm not a Lutheran, so while I can explain his view of baptism, this doesn't mean I hold to Luther's view of baptism.

The quote you've posted is from the end of Luther's exposition of baptism in his Large Catechism. That is, it's part of the conclusion of his previous argumentation. This section of the Large Catechism is a fairly easy read for anyone interested in Luther's view on this subject.

My basic explanation of Luther's view is thus: Luther held the sacraments are a form of the Word of God. Luther believed that the Word of God was oral, written, and sacramental. The Word comes to change our hearts, minds, reason, and will. If one is baptized in faith, they have received one of the promises that God will be their savior. It is His promise to us that he will save those with faith. Luther held that Word of promise is the power of God unto salvation, not works of penance like the Romanists of his day popularly held. Baptism establishes that we are children of God. Luther argued that the validity of the promise does not rest on faith. Faith is simply the response. It grasps and makes use of the benefits, but the promise of God is there. Christ saves, not faith. Faith only receives the salvation Christ gives. Luther believed that God, through the power of His Word, establishes the relationship with His people.

If you read through the link to the Catechism (I've provided above), you'll notice Luther places a heavy emphasis on Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be." So, with the quote you've asked me about, Luther is using baptism as an assurance of salvation, or holding God to His Word. He says in the Catechism,
"...since we now know what Baptism is and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn for what purpose it was instituted, that is, what benefits, gifts, and effects it brings. Nor can we understand this better than from the words of Christ quoted above, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” To put it most simply, the power, effect, benefit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is to save. No one is baptized in order to become a prince, but as the words say, to “be saved.” To be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death and the devil and to enter into the kingdom of Christ and live with him forever."
He then states,
Our know-it-alls, the new spirits, assert that faith alone saves and that works and external things contribute nothing to this end. We answer: It is true, nothing that is in us does it but faith, as we shall hear later on. but these leaders of the blind are unwilling to see that faith must have something to believe — something to which it may cling and upon which it may stand. Thus faith clings to the water and believes it to be Baptism in which there is sheer salvation and life, not through the water, as we have sufficiently stated, but through its incorporation with God’s Word and ordinance and the joining of his name to it. When I believe this, what else is it but believing in God as the one who has implanted his Word in this external ordinance and offered it to us so that we may grasp the treasure it contains?
Baptism is God's Word and God's Promise. According to Luther it is God's work:
Without faith Baptism is of no use, although in itself it is an infinite, divine treasure. So this single expression, “He who believes,” is so potent that it excludes and rejects all works that we may do with the intention of meriting salvation through them. For it is certain that whatever is not faith contributes nothing toward salvation, and receives nothing.

However, it is often objected, “If Baptism is itself a work, and you say that works are of no use for salvation, what becomes of faith?” To this you may answer: Yes, it is true that our works are of no use for salvation. Baptism, however, is not our work but God’s (for, as was said, you must distinguish Christ’s Baptism quite clearly from a bath-keeper’s baptism). God’s works, however, are salutary and necessary for salvation, and they do not exclude but rather demand faith, for without faith they could not be grasped. Just by allowing the water to be poured over you, you do not receive Baptism in such a manner that it does you any good. But it becomes beneficial to you if you accept it as God’s command and ordinance, so that, baptized in the name of God, you may receive in the water the promised salvation. This the hand cannot do, nor the body, but the heart must believe it.
According to Luther, when one goes through doubt or struggle, one must cling to God's Word of promise:
To appreciate and use Baptism aright, we must draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and we must retort, “But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.” This is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism: the body has water poured over it, though it cannot receive anything but the water, and meanwhile the Word is spoken so that the soul may grasp it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Luther and Romans 3:28

I was sent over this link from its author: Romans Chapter 3 Verse 28 (Updated). It's a well-constructed post examining the thrust of "alone" in Romans 3:28. Most interesting are the different renderings in different languages of the verse. Well done!

Martin Yee (Lutheran Theology Study Group) has a concise post up on the same subject: Sola Fide - Luther's justified by faith "alone" in Romans 3:28.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Luther's Assurance of Salvation: Baptism

I came across an interesting article, Sola Fide: Luther and Calvin by Phillip Carey. I have to admit to not reading all of this article yet, but I found the article at least food for thought whether one agrees with it or not (I have initial reservations of some of his points in regard to Calvinism). One thing Carey does helpfully frame is the assurance of salvation in Luther's thought:
Luther’s Syllogism
Major premise: Christ told me, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and HolySpirit."
Minor premise: Christ never lies but only tells the truth.
Conclusion: I am baptized (i.e., I have new life in Christ).The major premise here is based on a Scriptural promise (Matt. 28:19)
I think there's still a problem with the epistemology of assurance here (with similarities to that which Carey charges to the account of Calvinism), but that's something for another time. The purpose of this little blog post is for my Reformed brethren. Luther, more often than not, links the assurance of salvation to baptism. Note the following from one of his most important writings, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church:
Now, the first thing to be considered about baptism is the divine promise, which says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” [Mark 16:16]. This promise must be set far above all the glitter of works, vows, religious orders, and whatever else man has introduced, for on it all our salvation depends. But we must so consider it as to exercise our faith in it, and have no doubt whatever that, once we have been baptized, we are saved. For unless faith is present or is conferred in baptism, baptism will profit us nothing; indeed, it will become a hindrance to us, not only at the moment when it is received, but throughout the rest of our lives. That kind of unbelief accuses God’s promise of being a lie, and this is the greatest of all sins. If we set ourselves to this exercise of faith, we shall at once perceive how difficult it is to believe this promise of God. For our human weakness, conscious of its sins, finds nothing more difficult to believe than that it is saved or will be saved; and yet, unless it does believe this, it cannot be saved, because it does not believe the truth of God that promises salvation.

This message should have been impressed upon the people untiringly, and this promise should have been dinned into their ears without ceasing. Their baptism should have been called to their minds again and again, and their faith constantly awakened and nourished. For just as the truth of this divine promise, once pronounced over us, continues until death, so our faith in it ought never to cease, but to be nourished and strengthened until death by the continual remembrance of this promise made to us in baptism. Therefore, when we rise from our sins or repent, we are merely returning to the power and the faith of baptism from which we fell, and finding our way back to the promise then made to us, which we deserted when we sinned. For the truth of the promise once made remains steadfast, always ready to receive us back with open arms when we return. And this, if I mistake not, is what they mean when they say, though obscurely, that baptism is the first sacrament and the foundation of all the others, without which none of the others can be received.

It will therefore be no small gain to a penitent to remember above all his baptism, and, confidently calling to mind the divine promise which he has forsaken, acknowledge that promise before his Lord, rejoicing that he is still within the fortress of salvation because he has been baptized, and abhorring his wicked ingratitude in falling away from its faith and truth. His heart will find wonderful comfort and will be encouraged to hope for mercy when he considers that the promise which God made to him, which cannot possibly lie, is still unbroken and unchanged, and indeed, cannot be changed by sins, as Paul says (II Tim. 2[:13]): “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” This truth of God, I say, will sustain him, so that if all else should fail, this truth, if he believes in it, will not fail him. In it the penitent has a shield against all assaults of the scornful enemy, an answer to the sins that disturb his conscience, an antidote for the dread of death and judgment, and a comfort in every temptation—namely, this one truth—when he says: “God is faithful in his promises [Heb. 10:23; 11:11], and I received his sign in baptism. If God is for me, who is against me?” [Rom. 8:31].

The children of Israel, whenever they turned to repentance, remembered above all their exodus from Egypt, and remembering turned back to God who had brought them out. Moses impressed this memory and this protection upon them many times, and David afterwards did the same. How much more ought we to remember our exodus from Egypt, and by this remembrance turn back to him who led us through the washing of regeneration [Titus 3:5], remembrance of which is commended to us for this very reason! This can be done most fittingly in the sacrament of bread and wine. Indeed, in former times these three sacraments—penance, baptism, and the bread—were all celebrated at the same service, and each one supplemented the other. We also read of a certain holy virgin who in every time of temptation made baptism her sole defense, saying simply, “I am a Christian”; and immediately the enemy recognized the power of baptism and of her faith, which clung to the truth of a promising God, and fled from her.

Thus you see how rich a Christian is, that is, one who has been baptized! Even if he would, he could not lose his salvation, however much he sinned, unless he refused to believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins, so long as the faith in God’s promise made in baptism returns or remains, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because he cannot deny himself if you confess him and faithfully cling to him in his promise. But as for contrition, confession of sins, and satisfaction, along with all those carefully devised exercises of men: if you rely on them and neglect this truth of God, they will suddenly fail you and leave you more wretched than before. For whatever is clone without faith in God’s truth is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit [Eccles. 1:2, 14]. Luther, M. (1999, c1959). Vol. 36: Luther's works, vol. 36 : Word and Sacrament II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (36:58-60). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
We as Reformed people need to understand the weight to which Luther places on baptism, and in my own experiences in Reformed circles, Luther's emphasis is not the current Reformed emphasis.  Carey certainly is correct pointing out how important Luther considered baptism in his overall theology. Sometimes we as Reformed people know nothing other than Luther's pummeling of free will in the Bondage of the Will. I'd say this is a one-dimensional view of Luther, and Lutherans have a correct concern as to whether we really understand Luther or not.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Truth About Martin Luther and Why So Few Read His Works (Introduction)

Here's another collection of context-less Luther quotes: The Truth About Martin Luther and Why So Few Read His Works. Normally such a web page would be the handiwork of someone advocating Roman Catholicism. This web page though appears to be the work of what Luther would refer to as "Schwärmerei" or "Schwärmer." That's the term Luther used to describe the religious radicals of his day.

This page doesn't have an author attributed to it,  but it may be the work of the mastermind behind this web page. There are quite a number of Luther-related materials on this site, mostly dedicated to attacking Luther's view of baptism. In fact, the site offers a free 277-page pdf book dedicated to this topic: Martin Luther — Master Of Deceit, as well. I'm going to go through the quotes  presented on The Truth About Martin Luther and Why So Few Read His Works  web page (occasionally) over the next few months. Some of them I've covered already, some I haven't.

The author states,
"Luther was a troubled, surly, intemperate -- and occasionally even blasphemous -- man. Hardly the picture of a Spirit-led leader of the faith. Does this sound outrageous to you? Inconceivable? I'm not surprised. In fact, I myself was surprised to discover Luther's true nature. But once you read his own words, his nature is undeniable. In this document, you can review some of Luther's more surprising utterances for yourself. And don't think you can find them in any neighborhood bookstore, either. I had terrible trouble finding anything besides the great man's 'Small Catechism.' Even the highly sanitized anthologies of his work are not easy to locate -- if you can find them at all, it's usually in secular bookstores. Why the scarcity of Luther's writings in mainstream Protestant bookstores? I cannot speak from first-hand knowledge. But if you read the passages below, you may suspect — as I do — that Luther has been silenced because his true theology is an embarrassment to his followers. They would much rather propagate the image of the benevolent bombast, the passionate leader, the enlightened patriarch — because if people really know what Luther thought and taught, they would be appalled."
Well, the Internet has plenty of Luther's writings. Often these are presented by Lutherans and those interested in the Reformation, and this is really the way people access most of their information now. But in regard to bookstores, it's actually not that sinister. In my area, there were a number of Christian bookstores. Now with the Internet and online shopping, most of them have closed up. When those stores were open, they were typically filled with trinkets and popular current books, many of which had little depth or substance.  But, occasionally I would find a book by Luther in the Christian bookstore. The simple awful truth is that most bookstores want to sell books so they can pay their rent and feed their families. They need to sell books people want to buy, like a Joel Osteen book.
Since his work extends to more than 50 volumes, we won't even try to give an overview here. Instead, we'll be selecting some of his more surprising — and, yes, inflammatory — ideas. For the strength of a chain is determined by its weakest links. Now, an objection by those who have not read Luther first-hand will be, "These passages are taken out of context, and therefore they cannot be trusted as accurate representations of Luther's thought." However I will give citations for each excerpt. Go to the source and see for yourself. You'll find that not one of these passages means anything apart from what appears here; indeed, I challenge you to try to imagine any context that could possibly change the meaning of these words. Luther's meanings are all too clear.A further objection is that other of Luther's writings can be cited that contradict some of what you find here. We would reply that self-contradiction does not make an individual more reliable, but less.
Words do not mean what one wants them to mean. Rather, words are defined by their context. With any historical person, singular statements need to be read in context and properly placed within the contextual framework of of an overall theological paradigm and historical setting of that particular writer. In Luther's case, this is complicated by the fact that he lived in a different time period and in a different country.

The goal of going through particular quotes is not to defend Luther as a Protestant saint. I see the study of any person in church history as an exercise in the love of God and neighbor. How do I love my neighbor in the study of church history? There probably are many ways, but the one that applies here is in my words. If I bear false witness against my neighbor, even if he's been dead for hundreds of years, I am not loving him. I say let the people in church history be exactly who they were, warts and all. Luther certainly had warts and sins, but he did not "kick the cat" as well on the way to posting the 95 Theses. That is, he is not as bad as many portray him to be.

Addendum- Luther Said: 'Be a Sinner'
The first quote on this web page is one I've covered quite a few times. Here's how it's cited and interpreted by the author of The Truth About Martin Luther and Why So Few Read His Works:
"Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides... No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day." ('Let Your Sins Be Strong, from 'The Wittenberg Project;' 'The Wartburg Segment', translated by Erika Flores, from Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter No. 99, 1 Aug. 1521).

Luther is actually saying that our actions -- even the most sinful actions imaginable -- don't matter! He is saying we can commit any sin we want -- willfully, presumptuously, purposefully -- and we will not offend God! After all, we require nothing more than "faith" to be saved. What we do is incidental. Of course anyone familiar with Scripture will point out that this is not a Christian teaching. For throughout the Bible we are told that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). No believer has a license to sin. Christians who willfully sin WILL be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 12:14; 1st Thessalonians 4:6).
Documentation: The "Wittenberg Project" refers to Project Wittenberg, an on-line source for Luther-related documents. " 'The Wartburg Segment', translated by Erika Flores, from Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter No. 99, 1 Aug. 1521" refers to this web page from Project Wittenberg. If one looks at the page carefully, it isn't "The Wartburg Segment" but rather It's a letter Luther composed "From the Wartburg" and only a segment is translated.

If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner [LW 48:281-282].
I've written an extensive treatment of this quote: Did Luther say, “Be a sinner and sin boldly”? A Look at Justification By Faith Alone and Good Works in Luther’s Theology.

Luther was prone to strong hyperbole. It's his style, and this statement is a perfect example. The first thing to recognize is that the sentence is a statement of comparison. Luther's point is not to go out and commit multiple amounts of gleeful sin everyday, but rather to believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly despite the sin in our lives. Christians have a real savior. No amount of sin is too much to be atoned for by a perfect savior whose righteousness is imputed to the sinner who reaches out in faith.

But what then is the practical application of sinning “boldly”? What is at the heart of this comparison? Luther explains elsewhere how to take on the attitude of sinning “boldly”:

Therefore let us arm our hearts with these and similar statements of Scripture so that, when the devil accuses us by saying: You are a sinner; therefore you are damned, we can reply: The very fact that you say I am a sinner makes me want to be just and saved. Nay, you will be damned, says the devil. Indeed not, I reply, for I take refuge in Christ, who gave Himself for my sins. Therefore you will accomplish nothing, Satan, by trying to frighten me by setting the greatness of my sins before me and thus seducing me to sadness, doubt, despair, hatred, contempt, and blasphemy of God. Indeed, by calling me a sinner you are supplying me with weapons against yourself so that I can slay and destroy you with your own sword; for Christ died for sinners. Furthermore, you yourself proclaim the glory of God to me; you remind me of God's paternal love for me, a miserable and lost sinner; for He so loved the world that He gave His Son (John 3:16). Again, whenever you throw up to me that I am a sinner, you revive in my memory the blessing of Christ, my Redeemer, on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins; for "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" and "for the transgression of His people was He stricken" (Is. 53:6-8). Therefore when you throw up to me that I am a sinner, you are not terrifying me; you are comforting me beyond measure[Ewald Plass, What Luther Says 3:1315].
The strong hyperbolic comparison Luther makes between “sinning boldly” and believing and rejoicing in Christ “even more boldly” comes clear. When assaulted by the fear and doubt of Christ’s love because of previous sins or the remnants of sin in one’s life, one is thrust back into the arms of Christ “on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins…”. Rather than promoting a license to sin by saying “sin boldly,” Luther compares the sinner to the perfect savior. Left in our sins we will face nothing but death and damnation. By Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the world, we stand clothed in His righteousness, the recipients of His grace, no matter what we have done.

No historical information exists that indicts Melanchthon of ever murdering or fornicating, even once. The point Luther is making is not to go out and murder or fornicate as much as possible, but rather to point out the infinite sacrifice of Christ’s atonement. There is no sin that Christ cannot cover. His atonement was of an infinite value. That this statement was not to be considered literally is apparent by Luther’s use of argumentum ad absurdum: do people really commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day? No. Not even the most heinous God-hating sinner is able to carry out such a daily lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"You have received an infraction at Catholic Answers Forums"

Well, it was bound to happen, I was cited with a 10 point infraction on the Catholic Answers Forums.

 Today, 8:03 am
Join Date: September 30, 2009
Location: Non-Catholic Religions
Posts: 3,781
Religion: Catholic
Default You have received an infraction at Catholic Answers Forums

Dear TertiumQuid,

You have received an infraction at Catholic Answers Forums.

Reason: Contempt for Catholicism
Contempt for Catholicism

This infraction is worth 10 point(s) and may result in restricted access until it expires. Serious infractions will never expire.

Original Post:
Originally Posted by Gabriel Serafin View Post
Dear Mr. Swan, I'm sorry if my comments offended you; I was simply responding to the post in this thread. You are free to disagree with me, but .
The use of "but" negates the apology.

Is this typical of Roman Catholics, that they can compare something I wrote to the defense of a murderer? Recall it was stated of my blog entry, that I used the "same skill that O.J. Simpson attorneys rationalized away all the damning and obvious evidence".

This is truly offensive, and if it were up to me, you would be banned.

I assume because I'm Protestant, no one will call you out on this, and will simply let you get away with it.

This is yet another reason why I will never convert to your religion.

James Swan
All the best,
Catholic Answers Forums
Forum Rules and guidelines

In fairness to Catholic Answers:

They've allowed me on their forums since May 2004. Granted, I don't post all that often, so there's less opportunity for me to express my "contempt" for Romanism (I mean that in a humorous way). A fair amount of links back to this blog site (and alos aomin.org) have been posted on the Catholic Answers forums (most not by me), and to my knowledge, they have never deleted one of these links.

In this particular instance, a Roman Catholic compared my link about Luther and Romans 3:28 to the reasoning of O.J. Simpson's lawyers. Typically, I'd simply get a chuckle out of something like this and move on. This time, after the chuckle, I decided to experiment and ask the Roman Catholic saying this for an apology. He gave me the "I apologize... but" speech. In other words, he didn't apologize, nor did anyone else come to my defense.

So, after a few sips of coffee the other morning, with one eye open, I penned the comment that was given the infraction. What I think provoked the infraction was my final line: "This is yet another reason why I will never convert to your religion." And I do mean this. Other than a few people over the years, the majority of Roman advocates I've come across are the real anti-Catholics. More often than not, their demeanor is entirely like the zealot on the forum that provoked my ire.

In fairness again to the Catholic Answer moderator, he did remove the posts I took offense to as well. I'm not sure if the other person received an infraction or not. Let us keep this final thing in mind: Romanism has come a long way. Back in the 15th Century, they could've ripped out my tongue for alleged expressing "contempt" for Romanism.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Who is Larry Brinkin? A leader of the Gay Agenda recently arrested for child porn; and yet not much coverage in the Media

Another example of pro-homosexual media bias. 

Thanks Michael Brown, for bringing this out into the open.  Sunlight kills nasty mold that grows in the dark.  More and more, the homosexual agenda is getting exposed for what it really is.

Ephesians 5:3-14

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Addendum:  More Facts about Brinkin:
"Brinkin, who has a longtime partner and a teenage son, retired in 2010 after working for 22 years with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
In 1982, he was the first to use the phrase “domestic partner” in a lawsuit he filed against his then-employer Southern Pacific Railway. He claimed he was denied three days’ bereavement leave given to married employees after the loss of his partner of 11 years. Brinkin lost the case, which city officials said “laid the foundation for marriage equality.”
As a city employee, Brinkin helped implement and enforce the landmark San Francisco Equal Benefits Ordinance of 1997, the first in the U.S. to mandate that employers provide equal coverage for domestic partners. He also developed laws protecting against discrimination based on gender identity or a person’s height and weight.
Upon his retirement, Dufty introduced a Board of Supervisors resolution declaring the first seven days of February 2010 “Larry Brinkin Week” in honor of his advocacy.
Brinkin remains president of the board of directors for the California Association of Human Relations Organizations."  (my emphasis in bold)