Category Archives: Bible Thoughts

Questionable Biblical Interpretations: Prv 22:6 & Mt 28:10

I should be in bed, but …

In my Twitter feed, I found a disagreement among a few Twitter users.  One Christian was getting pummeled by a group of atheists.  Julie Ann (@__iplay4god) would try to fend off the attacks with logical retorts, and the logical retorts were then rebuffed by the atheists using Scripture.

Supposedly, the Scripture “proved” that she was disobedient to God, or that she was contradicting God’s clear command.  However, in each case, the atheists were twisting the meaning of the passages to “Pants on Fire” proportions.

I will now take on two such questionable interpretations.  First, JoeUnseen on Proverbs:

Interesting way of looking at that.  Now let’s look at the actual wording:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

That mentions nothing about religion.  King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wasn’t writing a how-to guide on doing religion or evangelism.  He was writing a guide for living.

This is an example of simple wisdom, not a command for indoctrination.  It calls for disciplining your children properly.  Doing so in their formative years means that they will be far more likely to walk the straight-and-narrow.

Second, Jeff Groves on proving God to unbelievers:

Is that what Jesus had in mind?  Again, the actual words:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, …

The question, then, revolves around what it means to “make disciples” — which is literally mentoring people.  As Jesus mentored his disciples, they were to then go into the world and mentor others.  And still today we, the chosen of God, are to disciple others and teach them the Christian faith.

Some might think that implies somehow “proving” God exists, but that’s not it at all.  God is self-evident: no proof needed.  In Twitterspeak:

Those who ask for proof have already gotten all they are going to get in Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection.  That was all Jesus gave the generation walking the earth in his time, and should be more than sufficient for all time.

Ephesians 4:18 and 2 Peter 3:15-17 suggest that those who are not in Christ cannot rightly understand the Word of God.  Moreover, these enemies of God twist the Scriptures — and do so to their own destruction, unfortunately destabilizing well-meaning Christians.

Peter warned us 2000 years ago.  A warning more timely than ever!

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Contradiction Tuesday: Creation Narrative

Now is as good a time as any to get back to Contradiction Tuesday, so let’s get right to it.

In Genesis 1:25-26, beasts are formed and then God creates man.  However, in Genesis 2:18-19, man is created first and then God creates all of the animals to search for a mate for the man.

To resolve this conundrum, we have to understand the purpose of each chapter of Genesis.  In other words, we have to put each in its narrative context. Read the rest of this entry

Contradiction Tuesday: Jesus in the Pecking Order

Better late than never, right?

I skipped the next contradiction in line.  It’s easy to resolve, but I’m saving it for Easter.

So for today’s contradiction Tuesday, we have another both/and resolution.

I and my Father are one. (Jn 10:30)

set against

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (Jn 14:28)

The Trinity is the most misunderstood doctrine of Christianity.  Atheistic challenges to it amount to little more than “I don’t understand the Trinity, so it must be false.  Now I shall mock it to appear clever.”

Jesus and the Father share an essence.  But they do not share an identity.  Meaning they are ontologically the same, but still separate people.  John 10:30 refers to sharing the essence, while the pecking order established by 14:38 refers to the separate persons.

Scripture Saturday: The Christmas Story (Lk 2:1-20)

No lesson this week, just a long reading:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration whenQuirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Merry Christmas!

Scripture Saturday: Who Conceives Evil? (Ps 7:14)

Recently a commenter going by Patrick asked me, regarding this article, if it mattered whether God created calamity or evil.  He wondered if that was just semantics.

Well, no, it isn’t just semantics.  Evil here means “moral evil.”  If God created moral evil, then he cannot be good by any definition of the term.  A perfectly good God could not look back on his creation and say it was “good” if he had created moral evil.

On the other hand, “calamity” is neither this nor that.  It’s a force of nature, neutral.  In the hands of a righteous God, argues Clay Jones, calamity is a powerful call to repentance.

So for this Scripture Saturday Sunday (better late than never, right?), I wanted to take a peek at Psalm 7 to determine just who creates “moral evil.”  The answer is in verse 14:

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.

This verse describes a potentiality — the potential to sin.  It all begins with the will to evil; a desire to commit mischief and that gives birth to lies.  James, the brother of our Lord, explains it this way:

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (Jms 1:15)

So the desire is our own, not the fault of God.  The desire, having taken root, produces the sin.  Sin, fully realized, is death.  That’s why God takes all of this so seriously — and why we should, too!  But, alas, Francis Schaeffer was right to observe “. . . that none of us in our generation feels as guilty about sin as we should or as our forefathers did.”

Contradiction Tuesday: Is God Good to All, or a Few?

Today, we introduce the second feature new to Josiah Concept Ministries: Contradiction Tuesday.  Each Tuesday, I will discuss an alleged contradiction in the Bible and why it is not, in fact, a contradiction.

Barring specific reader requests, I’m working off of Jim Merrit’s list of biblical contradictions from the Secular Web.  I’ll start at the top and work my way down.  No skipping.

So, unless I specify that Contradiction Tuesday comes from X or Y reader, then assume I am continuing with Merrit’s list.

Yesterday, I explained why Merrit’s rebuttals to specific replies are silly.  Now, let’s look at a specific contradiction and see if it really is a contradiction:

The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.  (Ps 145:9)

versus

And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the LORD. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them. (Jer 13:14)

Let’s first hammer out “good.”

The objection centers on the unspoken contention that punishment is bad, and if God punishes someone then God is not good.

But that’s ludicrous.

When God tells Abraham of the impending destruction of Sodom, what does Abraham object to?  Not to the destruction of the city.  Not to the punishment of the sinners in it (it’s already established that Sodom is wicked; see Gen 13:13).  Abraham objected to the punishment of innocents, challenging God rhetorically: “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen 18:23).

God is, in fact, good to everyone regardless if they happen to deserve his goodness.  Let’s look at a couple of examples, starting with Job’s astute observation that God does allow evildoers to flourish:

Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?  Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes.  Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them.  Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and does not miscarry.  They send out their little boys like a flock, and their children dance.  They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.  They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. (Job 21:7-13)

Jesus confirms: “For [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:45), the context of that making it clear that it is good in the eyes of God to treat all with the same respect and impartiality (as he does).

Therefore, God is good to all — whether they accept or reject him.  He prospers the wicked, as Job laments, and he allows all to enjoy the fruits of this world.

Somehow, in the eyes of the skeptic, God eventually punishing these wicked is not considered “good.”

On what planet?

Does that mean that if a human judge repeatedly lets murders and rapists go free without prison time that he is “good?”  I’d hardly say so.  I’d think that he’s apathetic, and so would any of these skeptics.  Somehow, when God executes justice on the unholy, the skeptics think that he is a big meaniehead, but when a human judge is tough and ruthless to deserving individuals he is lauded as just.

Double standard.

Contradiction Tuesday Pre-Launch

Tomorrow begins Contradiction Tuesday, a new feature on Josiah Concept Ministries that will spotlight alleged biblical contradictions and make some sense out of them.

The list I’m starting with comes to us from Jim Merrit of the Secular Web.  He lists over 60 alleged contradictions, which will keep me busy for over a year (given this is a weekly feature).

Jim has taken the most common replies to these perceived contradictions and did a preemptive strike, explaining why these responses fail.  So I’m doing a pre-preemptive strike to explain three things:

  1. Merrit doesn’t get the Bible at all
  2. Merrit is as stuck in his worldview as he accuses us of being, but is worse off because he doesn’t realize he is stuck in his worldview
  3. These only suffice as starters if the thought processes are developed a bit more

With that, let’s begin: Read the rest of this entry

Scripture Saturday: Importance of Bible Study (Prv 28:9)

I’ve heard that some folks benefit from a regimented blogging schedule, so I thought I’d give it a shot to see if it helps me.  And that means I will now introduce two new features.  If I blog nothing else in the course of a week, I will blog the two features.

The first is Contradiction Tuesday, where I will detail a perceived contradiction in the Bible.  I’ll take requests for this series from skeptics and believers alike — e-mail me.  It will begin next Tuesday; I didn’t have time to do one this week.

On a side note, I’m thinking of adding Anti-Testimony Wednesday sometime in the future.  I would critique the latest “Why I’m not a Christian” bit from ex-Christian.net, with a private offer to the poster to defend him or herself here.  Since they don’t like their unbelief challenged on the site, this would be playing by their rules.  After all, the anti-testimony is posted publicly so it’s unrealistic to think that someone won’t pick it up and challenge it somewhere.

The series beginning today is Scripture Saturday.  What better way to kick off Scripture Saturday than with a verse on the importance of studying Scripture?

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.  (Prv 28:9)

Strongly worded.  If a person stops studying God’s Law, then that person’s prayer is an abomination.  An abomination!  That’s the strongest way God can revile something.  And here, God is saying that he will revile a person’s prayers if that person refuses to hear God! Read the rest of this entry

Renewed Denial of the Roman Catholic Church, part 3: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Recently, in a conversation on Facebook, I confessed that much of Protestantism annoyed me.  Longtime readers will know that I believe in consistency — hermeneutics should be consistent, interpretations of passages should incorporate what has gone before, and your bar of acceptable proof should be even across all areas of your life.

Protestantism just isn’t consistent.  The first post in this series laid the groundwork for why I don’t think Protestantism is very consistent with regard to Sacred Tradition.  The previous post discussed the concept of high church, how Protestantism lacks it, and why it is biblical.  However, submission doesn’t mean surrendering one’s mental faculties.  For an application of that idea, we turn to the main issue I’ve always had with Catholicism, and a true biblical contradiction in its teaching: the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

To believe this doctrine, you have to totally subvert the meaning of Mark 6:3, when the crowd in Jesus’ hometown asks, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”

The Catholic argument is that the word translated “brother” (αδελπηοσ) can be used for any close family member, since there wasn’t a Greek word for “cousins.”  Therefore, James, Joses, Judas, and Simon are actually Jesus’ cousins.  In fact, according to Strong’s, αδελπηοσ means “brother,”  “sister” or “fellow believer.”  However, we know from other New Testament passages that these folks are not fellow believers.

In fact, there is a Greek word meaning “cousin.”  It is ανεπσιοσ, and is used in Colossians 4:10 to describe Mark, cousin of Barnabas.  (The word actually refers to a niece or a nephew, and I’m at a loss to find out why it is universally translated “cousin.”)  Which means the Catholic argument normally presented for Jesus’ brothers being cousins holds no water whatsoever.

The January 1990 issue of This Rock magazine has an article by Father Mateo specifically stating that:

Kilmon obscures the state of the question by alleging a “premise that ‘brother’ in the New Testament, like its counterpart in the Old Testament really means ‘cousin’ or ‘kinsman.'” No one holds such a premise. Both Hebrew and Greek dictionaries report that there are words in both languages whose primary meaning conveys uterine brother/sisterhood, but that these words are also used in both languages with much wider meanings: half brother/half sister, wife, kinsman, fellow tribe member, and so on, but not, as a matter of fact, cousin. (emphasis added)

But Father Mateo has spoke too soon.  The Catholicism Answer Book (Sourcebooks, Inc: Naperville, IL, 2007), written by Catholic priests John Trigilio, Jr. and Kenneth Brighenti, does hold the very position that Father Mateo repudiates:

Scripture scholars have also delved into the question of brothers and sisters of Jesus.  It all centers around the Greek word adelphoi.  This word can be translated to mean brothers, cousins, or relatives, such as nephews and uncles.  Therefore, when we read in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 13:55 concerning the brothers of Jesus, it is ambiguous whether the word adelphos is refering to brothers, cousins, nephews, or uncles. (57, emphasis added)

Just a few pages prior, Trigilio and Brighenti make a similar point.  Ancient Hebrew (yes, they said Hebrew–remember that point) didn’t discern between close family (brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, and nephews), and thus the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus could have referred to other family members that didn’t have precise names (49).

The problem is that the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew.  Greek is exceedingly more complex, and does have those distinctions.  The passages in question, read plainly, indicate family related by blood is under consideration.  One hardly mentions the mother of a person and then a few cousins without some sort of context key.  Nope, these are biological brothers and sisters, not close family or fellow Christians that are being discussed.  It is difficult to argue otherwise.

Renewed Denial of the Roman Catholic Church, part 2: The Centrality of the Church

Recently, in a conversation on Facebook, I confessed that much of Protestantism annoyed me.  Longtime readers will know that I believe in consistency — hermeneutics should be consistent, interpretations of passages should incorporate what has gone before, and your bar of acceptable proof should be even across all areas of your life.

Protestantism just isn’t consistent.  And my previous post laid the groundwork for why I don’t think Protestantism is very consistent with regard to Sacred Tradition.  In this post, I’m going to discuss the concept of high church, how Protestantism lacks it, and why it is biblical.

The Bible is clear, as any Catholic will tell you, that we should hold to a high church concept.  That means the church should be visible, evident, and hold the power of discipline over its members.  If my church excommunicates someone because he is an unrepentant adulterer, then the church down the street should not welcome him with open arms.

Also, the church should be there to interpret Scripture’s teachings for us.  Peter tells us that no teaching comes in a vacuum (2 Pet 1:20).  In Acts, Phillip is shown to interpret Scripture for a man; indeed, the man recognizes that he needs someone to interpret Scriptures for him (8:29-30)!

It is the visible and powerful church, therefore, that should help us understand the teachings.

Combining the lack of centralized teaching and the invisibility of the church, you can easily see the problem of Protestantism.  If Susie doesn’t like what the United Methodist Church is saying, then she can go to my Grace Brethren church.  If she doesn’t like Pastor Steve’s next sermon (she will love Nate’s music — I mean, who wouldn’t?), then she can move on to the local Episcopal church down the block.  Ultimately, if Susie doesn’t like any of the Protestant denominations, then she’s free to start her own denomination.  There are thousands; what’s one more?

Bottom line: this isn’t the church that Christ promised us in Scripture.  This isn’t the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15).

Here, it was extremely tempting to rejoin the Catholic Church.  That would require some humility; after all, I would have to submit to some dogma that I don’t like.  But, that is what the high church concept is all about.  I expect my beliefs to be challenged, and I expect God to change me in order to conform to the image of his Son (Rom 8:29-30).

But, at the end of the day, I just can’t do it.  I really tried.  But I can’t believe submission means that I have to leave my mental faculties at the door, and believe things that I know simply cannot be true.  There’s a difference between submission and cultic mind control.  After all, the Bible tells us to test everything and hold on to what is good (1 The 5:21) — a passage written to the individual.

For example, the Bible says that my wife is to submit to me as spiritual head of household, as if to Christ.  Now, if I tell her the sky is green, does she then have to submit to me as her husband, even though she can evidently see that is not the case?  According to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (5:21), no.  Testing my statement, it isn’t good and she therefore isn’t under an obligation to submit.  In marriage, Jesus gave us the out of a spouse creating serious disunity (Mt 19:1-9; note that “sexual immorality” isn’t the best translation of v. 9 — the Greek word doesn’t imply adultery, but rather putting asunder or dividing).

So, if the teacher isn’t “rightly dividing the word of truth,” I should think we aren’t under any obligation to submit (2 Tim 2:15).  This is the standstill of Catholic vs. Protestant.

On one hand, the Catholic says that the Protestant is still the final arbiter of what Scripture says (private judgment or interpretation), even if he’s holding a high church concept.  To some degree, this is correct.  But, these same Catholics don’t realize that they themselves have engaged in private judgment as well.  They have made the private judgment to submit to the teachings of the Magisterium.

On the other hand, Protestants have made the private judgment not to follow the teachings of the Magisterium.  Some of us have investigated some troubling claims and found that they are not as well-supported as the Magisterium would have us believe.

In the next post, I will disseminate one such unsupported doctrine, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.  I will show that it is unbiblical and illogical, and this is why I simply can’t submit to it.  Ultimately, it was my investigation of this doctrine that affirms me as a Protestant.