Ten things about Eastern Orthodoxy

http://effectualgrace.com/2017/04/17/10-things-about-eastern-orthodoxy/

A very helpful summary of Eastern Orthodoxy, in light of the conversion of Hank Hanegraaff to Eastern Orthodoxy.  (by Sam Storms)  (Posted by Pastor John Samson at Effectual Grace. Samson links directly to Storms’ article.)

See also:

Causing Unbelievers to blaspheme

On Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy

Can a Consistent Eastern Orthodox Believer be “a Bible Answer Man” ?

“Flying Solo” analysis  of two articles by Perry Robinson, by Steve Hays

Addendum: And more to see for further study:

Jason Engwer on Hank Hanegraaff’s promotion of Eastern Orthodoxy

Historical Theology and development of Doctrine in relation to Roman Catholicism and much of it also relates to traditions and early church history and applies to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Riding a Time Machine back to 33 AD

Why one convert left Eastern Orthodoxy

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Posted in church history, early church history, Eastern Orthodoxy, Hank Hanegraaff, Tradition | Leave a comment

Why is Jesus called “the Son of God”?

Very good content by David Wood.  See also my article below on this issue.

Bad Witness: Praying to and bowing down to Mary 

See also here on Mary and the problems with Roman Catholicism

 

idolatry-mary_worship

(from an older article I wrote in 2009 at another blog; updated here.)

Witnessing to Muslims:  Explaining why we call Jesus “the Son of God”

Someone recently (around September of 2009) called into the Dividing Line Pod-cast Program (Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries; see www.aomin.org)  and asked for help on witnessing to Muslims. He told of his experience in a Muslim area in Africa (Uganda) and that the Muslims kept saying, “God cannot reproduce!”; How many times have I heard this over the last 26 years in witnessing to Muslims?!: “God cannot have a wife!” “God cannot have a son!” “God did not lust after Mary and marry her and have sex with her!”

To our Roman Catholic and Orthodox readers – see, here we have a living example of recent history of Muslims who still believe the Trinity is “Father, Son, and Mother”. (Surah 5:116) This is very common all over the Muslim world. I know from experience also. So, the Marian dogmas and practices and praying to her and having statues and icons and exalting her too much are still contributing to that mis-understanding. The Qur’an defines for them what we believe – Surah 6:101 – they don’t really care what the official doctrine of the Trinity is.

“Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth; How can He have a son when He hath no consort [spouse, mate, sexual partner]?” He created all things, and hath full knowledge of all things.” ( Qur’an 6:101, with my own parenthetical comments)

Pictures of John Paul 2 (and other Popes and other Roman Catholics) bowing down before a giant statue of Mary just confirms in their minds and hearts what the Christians really believe.

pope4

Only very educated Muslims who take the time to read and study find out what the doctrineof the Trinity is; and it is usually their “apologists” who are trained to come to the west to seek to win westerners to Islam.

I would like to suggest that believers in Jesus Christ slow things down a bit for the Muslims and, to use a mathematical learning analogy, instead of trying to teach them Calculus (the eternal Sonship of Christ and the Trinity); we should begin with simple math: like addition, subtraction and multiplication. We will get to Calculus, don’t worry, but don’t move there too quickly.

1. With passion and conviction, agree with your Muslim friend that it is Blasphemy to think God took a wife !! Get worked up over this and show them with passion that we do not believe this. There is a fun Arabic phrase that many Muslims know and use when someone says something wrong, “Estaqfr’ullah !” استغفرالله   (Literally in Arabic, this means “I seek the forgiveness/pardon of Allah”, but it seems to be saying to the person who said something like “Jesus is the Son of God” as a response to that – ie, “May God forgive you!”; “May it never be!”) I have used this and it is effective to show how strongly the Bible is against their idea of what “the Son of God” or the Trinity means. Focus like a laser beam and spend time on this with your Muslim friend before you try and explain the “eternal Sonship” of Christ and “eternally begotten” language, or the Trinity.  Most Muslims are so strong in their belief in monotheism, that if you move too fast and try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, they will not hear what you are saying, because you have not convinced them first of your own monotheism, that there is only one God.   As it is, only the Spirit of God can open people’s hearts, whether they are an atheist or Muslim or a teenager American who is the son of a Turkish father and Swedish mother.  (see John 6:44, 65; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:1-8; Acts 16:14; Luke 24:45;  2 Timothy 2:24-26)  Even so, that does not give an excuse for being rude or short with people and for not sincerely trying to explain things to them.  God works through the means of patience, explaining, teaching, suffering, praying, hospitality, non-verbal communication, tone, attitude, etc.  You have to work on these truths first – and show them verses from the Bible –  1. You don’t believe God got married or had sex with Mary; and 2. You don’t believe in three gods. It is also effective to stay on monotheism for a while and quote and use Mark 12:29 (Jesus quoting the Shema in Deut. 6:4).

Muslims are fun people to witness to! They are willing to talk about God and spiritual things. They believe in right and wrong and heaven and hell, and judgment day. I have had many Muslims say to me, “I respect you Mr. Ken, because you believe in your book as the truth.” “Most of the other Christians we meet don’t really believe they have the truth.”

They are incredibly hospitable and we need to learn how to reach out in friendship evangelism, along with apologetics and debate; and one time “contact” evangelism. Jesus was the friend of sinners and tax-collectors, eating with them. We need to show Christ’s love by being willing to have meals of shish kebab and hummus and drink strong Arabic/Turkish coffee with them.

Trying to explain the Trinity and the eternal Sonship of Christ too soon for Muslims is like trying to explain Calculus before addition, subtraction, and multiplication. You can and should eventually get to those truths; but it is better to start on the basic issues to help the Muslim overcome them; all the while praying that God will open their eyes and heart to understand and believe. ( John 6:44; Acts 16:14) It may not happen in one setting either. Many missionaries to Muslims have said that the average Muslim usually needs to hear the gospel 100 times over a period of 1 year in friendship with a true Christian. Obviously God can open the heart and draw in only one hearing of the gospel. We are only saying that this is the experience of many missionaries who have spent lots of time with Muslims; including this writer.

2. Point out that the Qur’an also uses metaphoric language of filial terms, “son” and “mother”.The Arabic phrase, “son of the road” ( Ibn ol sabeel ) = “traveler”, “wayfarer”; “mother of the book” ( um ol kitab ) = source of revelation; “Mother of villages” = Mecca. (Surah 6:93, 42:7, Pickthall’s footnote) In Egypt, the Arabic expression, “son of the Nile” – “one who lives on the Nile River.

“Son of the Road” (Qur’an 2:177; 4:36; 8:41; 9:60), “Mother of Book” (Qur’an 13:39; 43:3-4; 3:7) “Mother of Villages” – (Qur’an – 6:92; 28:59; 42:7)

Can roads, villages, rivers, or books have sex or get married? Asking this question will confound and silence the Muslim for his attacks and lack of listening to our explanations of “the Son of God”.

This proves that metaphoric language is used by the Qur’an, and the Muslims should then give respect and a ear to us when we are also using the term metaphorically.

This proves that is not blasphemous to call Jesus, “the Son of God”, because the Bible does not mean it in the way that Muslims think when they hear the phrase.

The Qur’an affirms the virgin birth of Christ. (Surah 3:47; 19:19-22) Affirm that Jesus had no human father; therefore, in this sense, God was His Father.

Luke 1:34-35 sounds very similar to the Qur’anic passages on the Virgin Birth of Jesus. It is powerful to use passages in the Bible that are similar to verses in the Qur’an to begin with to establish understanding, and then go forward.

3. Show them some specific Scripture. If possible have them read it in their heart language, whether it is Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Urdu, Pushtun, Kazakh, Malaysian, or Fulani.

I have found that Luke 1:34-35 along with Hebrews 10:5 to be very effective in answering the “Son of God” terminology.

Luke 1:35 – “ . . . for this reason, the Holy offspring will be called the Son of God”
For what reason? Because Jesus had no human father; and because of the “power of the Most High” and “the Holy Spirit” who conceived, unified, joined spiritually inside the womb of Mary – so, it is NOT from marriage and sex; that is blasphemy (and what Mormons and Greek mythology believed). Rather, the phrase “Son of God” describes the close eternal spiritual relationship that the Father and Son have always had from all eternity past, being of the same nature, but in personal relationship. God is personal, not an impersonal force or principle. God is Spirit (John 4:24), so there can be no physical sex or marriage. This is what Surah 112 and 6:101 and 5:72-73 and 5:116 are speaking against, they are speaking against understanding God and terms like “father”, “son”, and “begotten” in a physical, sexual way.

I have found that Hebrews 10:5 is very effective. – “a body You have prepared for Me”. This shows that Jesus existed before He was born and that God the Father prepared a body for Him.

4. Then you can go to John 1:1 and 1:14 and proceed from there. John 1:1, 14 are powerful for the Muslims because they clearly are calling Jesus “the Word”. In the Qur’an, Isa (the Arabic Islamic word for “Jesus”) Al Masih is called “the word” in Arabic. (Kalimat’allah) (Qur’an 4:171; 3:45) This is a powerful tool. Focus on “the Word” of God before you focus on the “Son of God”. “Allah’s word was with Him from all eternity, right?” You can ask your Muslim friend these kinds of questions: “Did Allah ever exist without His word (His mind expressing itself)? And what about Allah’s Spirit? Was there ever a time where Allah was without His Spirit?” Jesus is also called “a spirit from Allah”. (Ruh min Allah) in Qur’an 4:171. That verse denies the Islamic understanding of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ and the Sonship of Christ; but it does call him, Al Massih (the Messiah), the son of Mary, the Word, and a spirit from Allah; so it is useful to begin with Muslims from where they are coming from; and then go to Scriptures in the New Testament that we emphasized above. We can communicate the “eternal Son of God” (into the past in relationship with the Father) by focusing on the eternalness of the Word of God in eternity past.

Posted in Apologetics, Islam, Muslims, Prayers to Mary, Roman Catholic False Doctrines, Roman Catholic false practices, Roman Catholicism

A Muslim’s question about the Canon of Scripture

Ijaz Ahmad’s “10 Questions Christians don’t like to answer”

By the way, I love to answer these kinds of questions by Muslims, and have answered many questions by Muslims put to me personally since 1983, when I first started reaching out to Muslims in the USA; and then I lived overseas with Muslims from 1993-1995, and learned one Middle Eastern language fluently, and some of another one. Since 1996, I have continued in one on one friendships with Muslims.  We love many aspects of their cultures, their emphasis on family and hospitality, their tasty food, languages, poetry, and friendships.

Someone else pointed me to this article, and I realize it is several years old (from 2013), but it is a useful list of 10 questions that exposes us to how Muslims think, and reveals to us a typical Muslim attack upon the Christian faith.  I am going to break up his article into several parts, in order to not make the post too long, and to provide more information on each point, when necessary.  The funny thing is, Denis Giron did answer him, but Ijaz just refused to listen or accept his answers.  See Denis’ answers at the end.   Ijaz just seems to constantly respond with, “no”, no matter how good the answer is.

In this article, I am going to focus on the first question about the New Testament Canon.  Lord willing, I hope to address the other questions in more articles.

Question # 1 – About the New Testament Canon:

  1. If the earliest Christians within the first two centuries after Jesus did not need a New Testament to qualify their faith, why do modern Christians have such a need? If they did not sanction or consider any other writing beside the Old Testament to be scripture, then isn’t it a digression from the ‘true faith‘ of the earliest believers to incorporate something new as scripture? The first New Testament was codified and canonized by the heretic Marcion who believed that the Jewish YHWH was not the true God, the first time the largest Christian Church sanctioned a New Testament was during the 2nd Ecumenical Council of Carthage in 397 CE, some 360+ years after Jesus.

First, the way Ijaz asked the question the first time “to qualify their faith”, vs. the second time, in his rebuttal to Denis Giron, “to be considered a Christian” is different.   The second expression is more clear.  The way he frames his question is kind of tricky.  The New Testament does not say “Believe in the 27 books of the NT and then you will become a Christian.”  Rather is says, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) and “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)  (see also John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:21-26; Romans 10:9-10)  Also the early church preached the gospel orally for decades and many became Christians through their preaching.  No one ever claimed that one has to first read all the NT and/or have it in order to become a Christian.

Secondly, Ijaz makes a great mistake here in calling the Council of Carthage in 397 CE “the 2nd Ecumenical Council of Carthage”.    That Council of Carthage was not an Ecumenical (including the whole Christian World) Council, rather it was a provincial one, limited to the North Africa area.  The 2nd Ecumenical Council was the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD.  So Ijaz is just wrong there.

Thirdly, Ijaz fails to realize that the 27 books of the NT (letters, gospels, books) were individual scrolls rolled up and sent to different places all over the Christian world at the time.  The New Testament did exist by 100 AD, but they were all separated from each other in differing places, in different churches.  The modern book, as we know it, did not even exist in the first or second centuries.  The old codex (flattened out sheets tied together) only began to come into existence around 200-250 AD.  Many scholars believe that it was the Christians who popularized the usage of the codex, which later developed into what we know as a book today, with a binding.

Fourthly, Ijaz fails to mention that early church writers such as Clement of Rome (96 AD), Ignatius (107 AD), Polycarp (155 AD), Justin Martyr (165 AD), Irenaeus (180-202 AD), Tertullian (190-220 AD), and Clement of Alexandria (215 AD) together mention, quote from, and allude to almost all of the New Testament books by 180-200 AD.  The Didache, scholars believe was written between 70 -120 AD, one of the earliest Christian non-canonical documents, quotes from Matthew 28:19, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Fifthly, Ijaz ignored the fact that both Irenaeus and Tertullian quoted from as Scripture or referred to, 22-23 out of the 27 books of the NT by 180-220 AD.
Sixthly, earlier writers used and alluded to some, but earlier writers, of what we have, did not write much. (Polycarp, Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, Pseudo-Barnabas, and Justin Martyr (who refers to the memoirs of the apostles and obviously knew about the Gospel of John, for he wrote a lot about Jesus as the Logos, and born of the virgin Mary, and Justin Martyr clearly knew and cited the book of Revelation.

Seventhly,  Also, Origen actually did list all the NT 27 books earlier than Athanasius. Origen, around 250 AD. (Died in 254 AD)   See the link to the details on Origen’s list at Dr. Kruger’s cite, within this link.
https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/sola-scriptura-the-canon-and-roman-catholicism/ 

[ See also Dr. Kruger’s books on the Canon issues and early Christianity. I recommend all of them for study.]

Make sure you listen to Dr. Kruger and Dr. White on the Dividing Line there; and also read the extensive article there.

Dr. Kruger writes:

“When it comes to the study of the New Testament canon, few questions have received more attention than the canon’s date.  When did we have a New Testament canon?  Well, it depends on what one means by “New Testament canon.”   If one is simply asking when (some of) these books came to be regarded as Scripture, then we can say that happened at a very early time.  But, if one is asking when we see these books, and only these books, occur in some sort of list, then that did not happen until the fourth century.  To establish this fourth-century date, most scholars will appeal to the well-known canonical list of Athanasius, included in his Festal Letter in 367 A.D.

But, is Athanasius really the first complete New Testament list?  Despite the repeated claims that he is, we have a list by Origen more than a century earlier (c.250), that seems to include all 27 books.  Origen, in his Homilies on Joshua, writes:

“So too our Lord Jesus Christ…sent his apostles as priests carrying well-wrought trumpets.  First Matthew sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel, Mark also, and Luke, and John, each gave forth a strain on their priestly trumpets.  Peter moreover sounds with the two trumpets of his Epistles; James also and Jude.  Still the number is incomplete, and John gives forth the trumpet sound through his Epistles [and Apocalypse]; and Luke while describing the deeds of the apostles.  Latest of all, moreover, that one comes who said, “I think that God has set us forth as the apostles last of all” (1 Cor 4:9), and thundering on the fourteen trumpets of his Epistles he threw down, even to their very foundations, the wall of Jericho, that is to say, all the instruments of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers.[1]”

This is a fascinating passage.  A reasonable interpretation of Origen’s words would leave us with a list of 27 books (he obviously puts the book of Hebrews with Paul’s letters).”   Dr. Michael J. Kruger  (emphasis in bold my own)

Tertullian wrote 5 works specifically against Marcion, and one generally against all heretics, including Marcion, around 193-207 AD. (Prescription Against All Heresies)

“Marcion expressly and openly used the knife, not the pen, since he made such an excision of the Scriptures as suited his own subject-matter.”  (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heresies, 38) 

If a Muslim took the time to read works like Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Clement of Alexandria, he would see that these authors prove that the New Testament books were already in existence.  Read his 5 works against Marcion, Tertullian is citing them and pointing out how Marcion is both deleting books, and cutting out sections within books that he did not like.

“The faith was once for all time delivered to the saints” – Jude 3, by 96 or 100 AD, but since the written documents were separate individual scrolls, a codex or book, was not even invented yet, and the first 3 + centuries were marked by persecution, and we have records of the pagan Romans burning many of the New Testament books (especially during the great persecutions of Decius (210-254 AD), and Diocletian (303-312 AD) ; it took a while for all of them to be collected together in one “book cover”.

Ijaz claims that Denis did not answer his question:

He does not directly answer my question. I have asked that since the first Christians did not need to believe in the New Testament to be considered Christians, why does it matter if Christians today believe in the New Testament or not?

Again, the way Ijaz asked the question the first time “to qualify their faith”, vs. the second time “to be considered a Christian” is different.   The second expression is more clear.  The way he frames his question is kind of tricky.  The New Testament does not say “Believe in the 27 books of the NT and then you will become a Christian.”  Rather is says, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) and “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)  (see also John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:21-26; Romans 10:9-10)  Also the early church preached the gospel orally for decades and many became Christians through their preaching.  No one ever claimed that one has to first all the NT and have it in order to become a Christian.

But Denis did answer the basic import of of Ijaz’s question, which was, in other words, why did it take so long for the Christians to come up with the full NT 27 book canon?

“On a side note, it is worth noting that there are various 2nd century writers who quote many of the texts of the New Testament, and some scholars date the Muratorian fragment to the 2nd century, ergo it seems much (if not all) of the New Testament was used as Scripture by Christians within the first two centuries after Jesus.” Denis Giron

The fact that we have the 27 NT books, and they were all written from around 45 AD to 96  AD, and that the early church examined, sifted, and discovered them, collected them, and compared them to other heretical and non-inspired books and found only these 27 books to be “God-breathed”, and that they are useful for teaching and spiritual growth and correction to error, does not assume that one must have all of them available in order to become a Christian.  Once one becomes a Christian through hearing the gospel, reading and studying the entire NT regularly is good for spiritual growth, but not a requirement in order to become a Christian.

More background on the concept of “canon”:

The English word “canon”, comes from the Greek word, “canon” ( κανων ) which came from Hebrew קנה ( QaNeh ), which originally meant a “measuring rod”, “a reed”, and came to mean “standard” (in Arabic and Farsi = معیار ،”criterion” (Furqan) فرقان , “rule”, “law” قانون , “principle” قاعده. It is related to the Arabic word, Qanoon (قانون ), which is another for “law”, “rule”, besides Sharia/Shariat شریعت / شریعه.   The Greek word, “canon” (κανων) meant “standard”, “rule”, “principle”, “law”, “criterion”.

“Canon” eventually came to mean the list of books that Christians believed were “God-breathed”/inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) and inspired. (2 Peter 1:20-21) They were only “canon”/ “standard” because they were already “God-breathed”/inspired. As R. C. Sproul has written, “the Bible was canon as soon as it was written”. (p. 82, Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible, Don Kistler, editor, Soli Deo Gloria, 1995) The books of the Bible were God-breathed and therefore canon, the minute they were written and the ink dried, for the NT, in the first century, for the OT when they were written. Because the 27 books of the NT were God-breathed at the time they were written, from around 48 AD to 96 AD, they were already canon because they already existed as God-breathed, inspired books. (same principle applies to the OT canon – they were inspired / God-breathed at the time of writing.) That is what Dr. White means by “canon is an artifact of inspiration”; “a book is canon, because it was already “God-breathed” when written.

That it took some time for the early church to discover all the books was because:
1. When they were originally written from 48-96 AD, they were individual scrolls written to different areas, communities, churches, by various people. So churches in certain areas did not even have all the books or letters yet, because others were written to other areas.
2. The codex form of a “book” was not even used much until the middle of the second century.
3. Many scholars believe it was the Christians of the early centuries that made the codex form popular and eventually evolved into our modern “book” form with a binding.
4. The Romans burnt many of the Scriptures during the first 3 centuries.
5. The persecution of Christians and difficulty of travel and communication contributed to the time it took to gather them all together under “book cover”, so to speak.

Posted in Apologetics, Canon of Scripture, church history, Islam, Muslims | 3 Comments

An Excellent argument vs. Muslims on John 17:3

    • Denis Giron wrote:

in combox of discussing with Muslims at Blogging Theology

 

    “Regarding John 17:3, the Father bears the title μονος αληθινος θεος. I see the Son bearing nearly identical titles, such as μονογενης θεος in John 1:18, and αληθινος θεος, as per a perhaps hyper-literal reading of 1 John 5:20. Moreover, I propose that we see a tacit recognition of the ability of the Persons to bear the titles of the one God in the way the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed seemingly combines John 17:3 with a hyper-literal approach to 1 John 5:20, and refer to the Son’s relationship with the Father as Θεον αληθινον εκ Θεου αληθινου. Hence why I don’t see the Father as bearing that title exclusively.”
    Denis Giron
    Very good, except I would not call understanding 1 John 5:20 as affirming that Jesus is God by nature, a “hyper-literal approach”.  I would have also added in John 17:5 into the context of the discussion, which affirms that Jesus existed eternally with the Father with the same glory.

 

Posted in Apologetics, Deity of Christ, Islam, Muslims, Theology

Debate: Is the cross necessary for salvation? (Adnan Rashid vs. James White) (and interaction with a Roman Catholic Response)

This was an excellent debate on the subject of the necessity of the work of redemption/ the atonement that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross.

Except Adnan spent a lot of time shifting the discussion from the cross/ sacrifice of Christ/ atonement of Christ, to the alleged tension between the apostle Paul’s theology (Galatians, Romans) vs. the epistle of James (Paul vs. James).

A Roman Catholic blogger, Allan Ruhl has made some comments.  

I left a response at his blog and repeat it here:

There is no contradiction / dichotomy between the apostle Paul’s theology and the epistle of James or Acts 15.

Luther (in his negative comments on the epistle of James)  was over-reacting to the 15 centuries of justification by faith alone being eclipsed and covered over by adding the merit of good works to justification, purgatory, treasury of merit, praying to saints before statues and icons, over-exalting of Mary, Transubstantiation, etc.

Luther also said that true faith is living faith that results in the fruit of good works. His statement that the epistle of James is a “right strawy epistle” meant in comparison to Galatians, Romans, I Peter, gospel of John, Acts, regarding justification by faith alone.

The other reformers and the Westminister Confession of faith and 1689 2nd London Baptist Confession get it right: “We are justified by faith alone, but true faith does not stay alone” (it results in good works, deeper levels of repentance and spiritual growth, sanctification, etc.)

Adnan was a little tricky in that he subtly shifted the discussion from “is the cross (atonement and forgiveness through Christ’s work on the cross) necessary for salvation” to “Paul vs. James” and claiming that James, Jesus, Matthew & Luke taught Pelagianism – “just repent and obey the law and you will get to heaven.” (assuming that unregenerate humans even desire true repentance and obedience)

James 2:14-26 does not contradict Galatians or Romans, properly understood. James White was right in that James is talking about the kind of faith that justifies. It is not a dead faith of intellectual assent only, as in that demons believe (James 2:19), but they do not repent or trust in Christ. (and cannot) They know the truth about the Lord, but they don’t commit or trust or surrender to the gospel.

James the apostle and half brother of Jesus, (James 2:14-26) cites the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make in Genesis 22 as the good work of obedience that confirmed his true justifying faith that is communicated to us in the text in Genesis 15:6. Abraham was first justified in Genesis 12:4; but the Genesis text does not communicate that to us; so that the apostle Paul and the rest of the NT (Romans 4, Galatians 3, James 2) is right to quote Genesis 15:6 as proof that a person is justified by faith alone, before any condition and merit of good works. (before the good work of circumcision – Romans 4, Genesis 17; and before the good work of obedience in Genesis 22)

“justify” in James 2 means “confirm”, “prove”, “vindicate”, as in Luke 7:35; Matthew 11:19; 1 Timothy 3:16

“wisdom is vindicated / proved right, by her deeds”

Addendum:

Allan graciously responded:  (see in the combox)

Hi Ken,

Hope all is well. We both agree on one thing. James and Paul don’t contradict each other, however we both think that they taught the opposite.

What cannot be denied is that people like Adnan Rashid, other Muslims and liberal “Christians” are convinced that this contradiction exists because of Luther. Rashid quoted Luther for support of his position that they contradict each other. Why didn’t he quote a Catholic theologian from the previous 15 centuries where Sola Fide was being “eclipsed” as you put it? No one had this problem until Luther came along. Luther is the reason why this exists.

Could you imagine me debating Rashid in this debate? His argument would have been completely useless.

One more thing Ken. Since Luther thought there was a contradiction between the two authors, can you admit that Luther is a heretic?

 

My response:

Thanks. I hope you are well also. I enjoy discussing and debating with you.

Was a Luther a heretic?

No, Luther was not a heretic because his statement about James being a strawy epistle was about it on the contents of justification by faith alone, in comparison with Romans, Galatians, the Gospel of John, Acts, and 1 Peter. No one allowed Luther to take James out; and later, Luther was not against James. He used it and quoted it in sermons.

The other quote that Adnan brought from Luther – I would need to see the reference (which he did not give) and when he said it and the context; and beyond that, it might be one of those RC myths that James Swan is constantly having to correct. (At “Beggars All Reformation and Apologetics” )

As others have pointed out, Luther also said that true faith results in good works; so ultimately, Luther did not speak against James, only against his wrong surface level understanding of it at the time; and only in comparison to how those other aforementioned epistles teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone much more.

Could you imagine me debating Rashid in this debate? His argument would have been completely useless.

Only in the aspects of what Adnan brought up pertaining to Luther. Adnan would still try to divide up the NT, using liberal scholars, into what he thinks is Pelagian (“just repent and obey the law in your own strength” = “Islam on steroids”) vs. the apostle Paul’s letters; and he would use James D. G. Dunn and liberals to try and bring a wedge between Jesus’ teaching, Matthew, James, and Luke vs. Paul’s epistles and Mark 10:45 and the Lord’s supper passages. but then you would have to explain original sin and internal corruption in the heart (concupiscence) and how faith in the atonement of Christ (Romans 3:21-26) justifies us and perfects our salvation (Hebrews 10:10-14) and then why there is a need for all that other Roman Catholic man made traditions that are added to faith alone.

It might (if the Muslim’s way of questioning and presenting his case) force you to explain how you put all those RC centuries later traditions of the 500s AD to 1500s back into verses like Acts 13:38-39; Romans 1:17; 3:21-26; Romans chapter 4; book of Galatians, Ephesians 2:8-9.

But it would be very interesting to see a debate like that, a Muslim vs. you or someone like Robert Sungenis. The Muslim would not be able to use Luther as a smokescreen, and it would force the RC side to deal more with what the Muslim would bring up in Paul’s epistles and letters.

Allan’s very interesting response:

Hi Ken,

I actually agree with most of what you said here.

Something else I should have pointed is that you brought up Mark 10:45. He mentioned that Luke “takes it out” based on liberal scholarship. What should have been stressed is that in Matthew which he stated has a huge emphasis on Law, keeps it in. I was going to add this to my review but I didn’t want this to be that long a post.

Btw Ken, Bart Ehrman has a book coming out in less than a month. I’m going to post a review. I’d be interested in your input.

One earlier question I forgot to answer:
Why didn’t he quote a Catholic theologian from the previous 15 centuries where Sola Fide was being “eclipsed” as you put it?

Probably because Muslims don’t know much about those guys, and are not forced to think about Roman Catholic theological issues on salvation, because 99 % of Roman Catholics don’t do evangelism to Muslims (as you alluded to; even Robert Spencer puts politics/civilizational issues/ Jihad and terrorism issues as first priority in his debates and never even mentions the gospel / salvation/ theology issues), and the current official Catholic Catechism says that Muslims are saved without Christ ( paragraph # 841 – a result of post Vatican 2 theology).  Most of what Muslims know about Catholicism are the massive statues and emphasis on Mary, and the Pope and his big hat (many Muslims have said this to me over the years), and the tendency toward Universalism and/or Inclusivism.)

Most people today, not just Muslims, but since Vatican 2, in Roman Catholicism, because of Vatican 2 and Post Vatican 2 theology, and the last few Popes of recent decades, consider Roman Catholicism as Universalistic or Inclusive (see paragraph # 847 of the Catholic Catechism) and they don’t try to do evangelism to atheists, Muslims, Hindus (as Mother Teresa confessed – she did not try to share the gospel with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists before they died; she said to them “go to their own gods to prepare for death”. (see article at Tim Challies blog. “The Myth of Mother Teresa”)

“While she worked with the poor, Mother Teresa was adamant that any type of evangelism was unnecessary. In her book, Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers, she says:

“We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.” (Pages 81-82)

With such a statement we can only be left believing that she was more than a Catholic, but was a Universalist, believing essentially that all religion leads to the same God. Time and again we see her expounding such universalist beliefs. In an interview with Christian News a nun who worked with Mother Teresa was asked the following in regards to the Hindus they worked with, “These people are waiting to die. What are you telling them to prepare them for death and eternity?” She replied candidly, “We tell them to pray to their Bhagwan, to their gods.”

from Tim Challies’ article, “The Myth of Mother Teresa”

 

Regarding Allan’s question about Mark 10:45:

Yes, Matthew keeps it (Mark 10:45, cross theology) in Matthew 20:28.
But Muslims are wrong to accuse Luke of “deleting” it; and Paul Williams does.

Not mentioning something is not the same as deliberately deleting it.

Also, the Lord’s supper passages in Matthew and Mark are also good; and Dr. White did an excellent job on dealing with the textual variant in Luke 22:19-20.

Posted in Apologetics, Atonement for sin, Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Islam, Justification, Martin Luther, Muslims, Roman Catholic False Doctrines, Roman Catholicism | 1 Comment

Faith and Repentance

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/faith-repentance/

 

Posted in Faith, Repentance, Salvation, Sanctification/Holy living, Spiritual growth

Causing unbelievers to blaspheme God (Romans 2:24)

Note: In order to really understand this, the reader must do his best to read a lot of links provided.  Also, see the discussion with Perry Robinson in the comboxes.

Triablogue has been linking to Perry Robinson’s blog where he lays out over several blog entries over several months, the history of what happened at CRI with Hank Hanegraaff, and Hank’s recent conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy.  (See my other articles on Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy.)  Perry is a former employee of CRI and was fired (it seems, for asking too many questions, etc.); and later converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church.  When Hank Hanegraaff recently also converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, but was still promoting basic Protestant Evangelical doctrine at CRI, and not really accurate about many things within Eastern Orthodox theology, Perry has rightly been speaking out about this at his blog and in interviews.

Listening to whole interview that Perry Robinson did on the link with Paul Vendredi in this article, brings up lots of feelings of sadness and discouragement over what Hank Hanegraaff did to CRI and Walter Martin after Martin died.

When I first heard about how Hank Hanegraaff took over CRI  (please read the whole thing, especially how Darlene Martin, Walter Martin’s widow, described what happened to her; and Walter Martin’s daughter, Jill Martin Rische).  I remember hearing hearing Jill Martin Rische on Janet Parshall’s radio show; sometime between 1996-2000 – I don’t remember exactly, ?), I became disillusioned with HH and CRI, but I kept listening for a while because Dr. James White was on the show about the King James Version Only Controversy and his radio discussions/debates with Roman Catholics Jimmy Akin and Tim Staples (along with finding web-sites/ blogs like

Beggar’s All,

William Webster’s materials,

Eric Svendsen,

AOmin, and

Triablogue

and Turretinfan

on the web) and I slowly realized the shallowness of the apologetics of CRI and at the same time I had become Reformed in my theology and local church issues /but was still learning how to “put it all together”, etc. Hank around that time also promoted Joni Eeareckon Tada’s book, When God Weeps, (her PCA pastor at the time Steve Estes, co-wrote it with her) – that was the best book I had read that explained God’s Sovereignty and Suffering.  He also had John MacArthur on the program at least once, if I remember right, so I had to find a way to continue to trust God to work out whatever was going on behind the scenes, and at the same time use discernment and stay in the word and in prayer and “watch over your own heart” (Proverbs 4:23).

Hank, on the BAM radio show, for a while allowed debate on the issues of Calvinism vs. Arminian theology and related issues, but he was also promoting Joni E. Tada’s book; and when I read it, it make me think HH was Reformed, but then later he came out against Reformed theology and was very strident against Calvinism and called it “believing that God created us puppets and “Chatty Kathy dolls”, (robots, no will at all, etc.)

For details on how the Martin family has been accusing Hanegraaff of sinfully taking over CRI, see here under several sections, especially,  “Behind the Scenes” – the whole thing seems to comport with what Perry Robinson and others have been saying.  The Rische’s documented a lot of other problems with Hank Hanegraaff.  Much later, after I already stopped listening to the BAM show and decided to just let God work out all the unknowns and secret sins that were going on;

Another member of Walter Martin’s family came out in support of Hank Hanegraaff and they provided a recording of Walter Martin that seemed to say that Hank was the man to lead CRI in the future.    

They also provided several audio tapes of Walter Martin (from his Sunday School classes) saying basically the same thing as the last paragraph in the above article. Read the whole article linked above.  I remember listening to some of those linked above and hearing Dr. Walter Martin speak highly of Hank Hanegraaff and his gifts in marketing and business, etc. – whether Walter Martin meant for that to mean that Hank would be the President of CRI AND for Hank to be the main Bible Answer Man on the radio program, replacing more qualified people like Craig Hawkins, Ron Rhodes, Rob Bowman, and Kenneth Samples if Walter died, I doubt that, but that is up for interpretation.  One reason I did not write about this stuff in previous blog articles about Hank Hanegraaff, is that a lot of this is a matter of “he said, she said” kind of thing that I do not have time to sort out on my own; and even now, it makes me wonder if the whole thing is just an example of jealousies between family members and lots of mixtures of both good and bad motives and actions on both sides.  Here is an excerpt of Cindee Martin Morgan’s article:  (see the audio tapes also; I don’t have time to track down every detail.)

These tapes bear witness to the fact that Dr. Martin did not leave CRI without an anchor. Twenty years ago he was faithful to fulfill his responsibility the Lord had given him, and to this day the anchor holds. Walter Martin successfully navigated the ‘ship’ of CRI and was faithful to protect her until the day God called him home.

“Hank Hanegraaff personifies the next phase of development for CRI and is uniquely equipped through his dynamic leadership abilities, knowledge of God’s Word, and teaching ability to make sound, biblical apologetics a simple yet effective tool in the hands of the laity. His success as a businessman, strategic planner, author, and speaker have equipped him to lead the ministry of the Christian Research Institute aggressively into the future and to build on the work that I by God’s grace began.” Dr. Walter Martin, 1988Christian Research Newsletter, vol.. 2, no. 5, 6.

[Addendum:  See in the combox.  Perry Robinson has informed me that the date  (1988) of this statement is wrong.  It is 1989, after Walter Martin died, and Perry wrote that even CRI had to admit that and change the date.  I wonder why Cindee Martin Morgan did not change the date?]

When those tapes came out and I heard it ( 2010 ?), I thought, “oh, this is a lot more complicated than I thought”, so I decided to put it out of my mind again, and trust in God to work it all out.  (see the many audio clips that is provided here of Walter Martin and his Sunday School classes that speak well of Hank Hanegraaff, etc. ) 

Although I did become disillusioned with him and CRI, I still thought his books were pretty good (as far as they go), and I especially liked his takedown of the whole Word of Faith movement, etc. (Christianity in Crisis, IMO, is still very good and accurately describes the whole Prosperity / healing / Name it – claim it heretical teachings. I did not realize that others did a lot of the research work (like Brad Sparks, who filed a lawsuit against Hank, etc.) and, that according to Perry Robinson, a lot of it was originally from Michael Horton’s work in “The Agony of Deceit”, etc.

But now with all the recent information that Perry is providing, along with the strange way that Hank is trying to hold onto Protestant-Evangelical faith/ doctrine, and also Eastern Orthodoxy, and how he is proving that he does not understand enough of EO yet; based on everything Perry testifies to and documents, along with the Rische family website of Walter Martin, it seems that Hank was doing the same thing that he accused the Word of Faith heretics of doing (doing ministry for money and greed), but on a smaller scale. He was using balanced mainstream Protestant Evangelical doctrine at least partially, to make money and used it like a business marketer. ( I don’t doubt that HH has some level of sincere belief in Christian truth and history.)  His was much more subtle and it seems, as far as I can tell, that Perry is right on this. (along with the other former CRI employees that HH got rid of over the years). I was also surprised back in the early 90s when Craig Hawkins suddenly was not on the air BAM program anymore.  I always liked Craig Hawkins and was impressed with his knowledge of cults and the Bible, and his tone and demeanor.

I always appreciated Rob Bowman, Ron Rhodes, and Kenneth Samples, and I was also surprised when they were no longer on the BAM show.   It does seem that Hank slowly got rid of people who questioned too much or disagreed with him too much.

The whole thing with Hank Hanegraaff and CRI and the way he took over the leadership and subsequent years, and now his “conversion” to Eastern Orthodoxy, if someone takes the time to research and read and listen to Perry’s material, (and the other information from the two different daughters of Walter Martin, linked above) is very shameful and grievous and drags Christ’s name in the mud; for it can be used by unbelievers, atheists, skeptics, and the heretics like Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and Benny Hinn (any of the Word of Faith heretical teachers), etc. to use against sound doctrine; and they will probably feel justified; and will give others occasion for “the unbelievers to blaspheme the name of God” (Romans 2:24).

It would be interesting to me and many others I am sure, if Perry Robinson would explain how and why he went from being Reformed to high Anglicanism and then to the Eastern Orthodox church. What kind of Reformed church was he a part of? (Presbyterian or Reformed Baptist ?)

Perry said he took 4 years to read through the Early church fathers. I can respect that. What was hard for me to believe was that when Francis Beckwith (former President of Evangelical Theological Society and a good writer against abortion) claimed that he read them all with comprehension in 3 months. (and then went back to Roman Catholicism). I suppose that can be done if one has the time, and I guess Beckwith is just really smart, etc.; but it is hard to believe that it is done with actually meditating and thinking through all the historical theological issues and using other books to help on understanding the big picture. ( or I am just incredibly slow and dumb.)

This whole issue shows the need for local church accountability structures that should have been in place with CRI and Walter Martin to help in the transition if he died; and also the need for Hanegraaff to have been accountable and to have had more training in theology and historical theology; at least he should have an M.Div. (historically, this has been based on Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3, where it says that a church leader must be “able to teach” and “refute false doctrine”, etc.) and had been commissioned by a local church to do the ministry of CRI.  One of the reasons many Evangelicals are becoming either Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox is because of the lack of local church authority and accountability and lack of perspective on church history and historical theology.  It behooves Protestant Evangelicals to be diligent and be always reforming in these areas.  The mistakes of Hank Hanegraaff should not repudiate or discredit the good Evangelical doctrine, teaching, and apologetics that was done over the years at CRI; but it should give us all humility and crying out for balance and mercy from the Lord to do ministry properly with local church authority and accountability.  Even the apostle Paul and Barnabas were accountable to a local church and confirmed and sent out by a Biblical local church with a plurality of leadership before they started their first missionary journey.  (see Acts 13:1-4)

Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was thereprophets and teachers (a plurality of leaders/elders, see also Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4): Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.  Acts 13:1-4

Saul, (the apostle Paul) and Barnabas had already been serving in the local church there for a while (Acts 11:26, with the time until Acts 13, it may have more than several years).  When a Biblical local church confirms and sends people out for a new ministry, the Holy Spirit also sends them out.  (church planting, new pastoral work, evangelism, missionary work, or Para-church work.)

Another Addendum:

See here for another analysis of Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Posted in Accountability, Apologetics, Eastern Orthodoxy, Hank Hanegraaff, Local Church authority vs. Para-church accountability, Truth | 29 Comments