Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Comments ...

Well, I would just like to divert some of your attention to the comments section for the post on the Preservation of Scripture. Due to the limitations of blogger.com software, my recent comments section is not what I would like it to be, so it does not display comments from posts that are waaay back in the publishing line, though the comments may be the most recent. So do look at it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Article: The test of Faith

Paul Proctor has hit the nail on its head. After analyzing the sinking ship known *affectionately* by Rev. Ken Silva as the Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD), Paul has distilled the reasons for such blatent compromise in the visible Church today to two R's: Results and Relationships, in this excellent article. That is to say, the persuing and valuing of these two good things above the things and the truth of God. That certainly makes everything much, much clearer. Thanks, Paul, for your service to the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Compilation: Sola Scriptura series

Since the Sola Scriptura blog series have been rather long, I have collated all the posts on the Sola Scriptura series here:

Introduction

The necessity of Scripture

The sufficiency of Scripture / (Part 2)

The authority of Scripture

The extent of inspiration of Scripture / (part 2)

The inerrancy of Scripture

The Canon of Scripture

The issue of ultimate authority

The preservation of Scripture

The perspicuity of Scripture/ (part 2)

Conclusion

Sola Scriptura: Conclusion

In conclusion, we have proved the necessity, sufficiency and authority of Scripture. We have also proved the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture, the inerrancy of Scripture, discussed the Canon of Scripture with regards to the ultimate authority of Scripture, proved the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture and also the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. All of these points are summed up in the concept of Sola Scriptura, and therefore Sola Scriptura has been proven to be biblical.

Now, so what does all of this have to do with us? The first application which I had mentioned before is that we Christians ought to read the Scriptures in order to grow in Christ. Since all of these concepts of Sola Scriptura are biblical, we are to act upon them. Since Scripture is sufficient, we are to cleave to what God says in the Scripture alone, not add our own marketing ideas and plans, or our philosophies, to God's Word and in our service to Him in an attempt to 'improve' it; to make it more 'relevant' to so-called seekers. Since Scripture is authoritative, we are to obey it in whatever it commands. Since Scripture is verbally plenary inspired and inerrant, we are to treat is as such and use it as our authority. Since Scripture is preserved, we can take heart that we do have the inerrant, infallible Word of God with us even today and forever until Christ comes again in the future. Finally, since Scripture is perspicuous, we are to approach it humbly without presuppositions and have confidence in interpreting it as long as we submit to Christ in our interpretation. Furthermore, we can take heart and not be troubled by the so-called scholarly 'deconstructive interpretations' and strange interpretations advanced by non-Christians, since they are intellectually deficient as concerning the contents of Scriptures, not having the Holy Spirit's guidance in interpreting it, and thus all their scholarly talk ends up as so much high level profound nonsense.

With this, let us continue to cleave to Scripture, and obey it as our ultimate authority, so that we can grow in Christ-likeness, and continually being transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2).

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. — Rom. 11:36

*** THE END***

Sola Scriptura: The perspicuity of Scripture (part 2)

[continued from the previous post on the perspicuity of Scripture]

The first difficulty posed to the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture is the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration of the Scripture. Some people have pitted the two against each other[1], since if the Scriptures are verbally, plenary inspired, then there is a need to study the Bible in the original languages in which they were written. Such requires scholars who can read, understand and translate the biblical languages, and thus it seems that this doctrine is contrary to the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture.

However, this is not the case. Although on the surface such a contradiction seems plausible, the fact of the matter is that the doctrine of preservation of the Scriptures have been proven, thus we can be certain that we have God's Word with us. One aspect of this preservation is in the work of the Holy Spirit is safeguarding the translation process of the Scripture so that the Gospel message would not be significantly distorted in the translations in general so that the Gospel message and the essentials of the Christian faith would be preserved[2]. Note that this does not say that any particular translation attempt or pseudo-translation of the Scriptures would be kept free from error, which the Bible nowhere promises. Also, there is evidential proof for such errors as can be seen in the New Age "Bible version" called The Message, which substantially distort the Christian message.

Since that is so, this seeming contradiction ceases to exist, as although looking at the original languages is important, our English translations, especially the more literal word-for-word translations like the ESV and NASB and KJV, are faithfully translated to such a degree that we virtually have almost the exact Word of God in our own language such that our Bibles in our languages would be able to function as the Word of God to teach and edify us. Even in the more liberal dynamic equivalence versions like the NLT or the LB, some elements of the Gospel message and the original meanings of the Scripture remain which allow it to function as the Scriptures to a certain extent. Thus, the Scriptures could be said to be perspicuous. Also, with the plethora of resources like lexicons, concordances and interlinear Bibles available especially for the English-speaking world, it is possible to find out to a certain degree what the original text says.

Now, all of this seem to apply only to the English-speaking world. However, how about peoples and cultures that do not have the Bible in their own languages, or only have them in dynamic equivalence translations? Well, such situations do not have any bearing on the validity of the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture, since the doctrine is not talking about whether people in fact do have a good translation of Scripture in their own language, but only prescribe what would happen — that Scripture would be plain to them, IF they have good translations of the Scriptures in their own language. Since this is the case, it is imperative that proper faithful translations of the Scriptures be done by people who revere God's Word and seek to give an accuate translation of the Scriptures, in order that each language group would have, as much as possible, the Word of God with them which would thus be plain to them, so as that these translations could function properly to teach them God's truth.

Another objection which could be made is the fact that Scripture cannot be perspicuous since there are instances whereby two groups of Christians claim that their interpretation is the correct one, and sometimes their interpretations can be diametrically opposite of each other and thus contradict each other. An example of such a case would be the Calvinist/ Arminian controversy, whereby both Calvinism and Arminianism are antithecal to each other yet both sides claim to be biblical.

Such an objection, however, forgets that one aspect of perspicuity is the fact that Scripture is plain to those who approach Scripture without bias and willing to submit their traditions, known and unknown, to the authority of Scripture. Therefore, Scripture is not plain to people on the matters in which they read their traditions into Scripture. For example, in the example stated above, I believe that the Arminian position is the result of reading Humanist presuppositions into the text of Scripture. Therefore, this objection refering to multiple interpretations existing within the visible Church fails to disprove the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture.

Some people may think that this doctrine would lead us to read the Bible literally. However, this is not always the case. By saying Scripture is plain does not mean that Scripture is to be read literally in all its passages, but that people could understand the Scripture just like any normal piece of literature without the need to resort to esoteric measures. Scripture is thus to be read in context and interpreted accordingly. Therefore, historical narrative passages are to be read as such, and parable and poetry are to be understood allegorically. In short, the Scriptures are to be interpreted in context and the way it is read and interpreted also is determined by the genre in which the Scriptural passages or verses belong to.

After looking through the various objections raised and supposed problems which the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture caused to other doctrines, it can be seen that the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture still stands. Therefore, the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture has been proved and has proven to be true and biblical.

(to be concluded)


References:

[1] Another look at Plenary Verbal Inspiration (http://www.accuros.com/thornbush/pollen/plenary_verbal_inspiration.htm)

[2] This is a logical deduction from the doctrines of the preservation of Scripture and the perspicuity of Scripture. Since for a person to be saved, he must believe the Gospel, which is found in the Scriptures, the person must be able to understand the Gospel. The Scriptures are however, written in languages which most people do not understand, so therefore in order for the Gospel to be understood by a person who does not know the original languages, the person must be able to hear the Scriptures in his/her language. We have seen that the Scriptures are plain to its readers, thus the person reading it must be able to understand the Gospel without external help. Therefore, the Gospel message and the Scriptures also must be preserved in the translations in order for them to convey the Gospel and Scriptural truths in the language the person can understand.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sola Scriptura: The perspicuity of Scripture

[continued]

The perspicuity of Scripture is basically the doctrine which states that Scripture is plain to all who will read it. Scripture is thus not an esoteric text whereby only a select elite few could decipher its 'deeper meaning', but to all who would read or hear the text for themselves in a language they understand, they could learn from Scripture and know God from it.

Now, what does this doctrine actually mean? Does this doctrine negate the necessity of studying the Bible, especially in the original languages? To answer this and other questions, I would like to further expound on what this doctrine actually means and what it does NOT mean, and then showing the proofs for this doctrine from Scripture.

First of all, this doctrine says that the Scripture is plain to all people who truly are interested in finding out what it actually says. It does not mean that it is plain to someone who comes to Scripture with preconceived bias and conclusions, and definitely not with a superior prideful attitude towards Scripture. Secondly, this doctrine says that a person is able to know what the Scriptures say if they could understand the words and concepts as expressed in a language they can understand. It thus does not mean that the person who reads it can understand everything in the Scriptures if they do not comprehend the words used in it. This doctrine also DOES not say that all things in Scripture can be similarly understood easily, but it confesses with the Westminster Confession where it states that 'All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them'[1].

So does the Scriptures support this doctrine of perspicuity? It does. First of all, we can take note that the Scriptures are written to be read, memorized (Ps. 119:11), meditated upon (Josh. 1:8, Ps. 119:97), taught (2 Tim. 3:16), applied (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and obeyed (Ps. 119:129). This is just but a sample of the verses that can be used to support the ways in which Scripture is to be used. Now, if Scriptures are to be used by Christians in such a manner, surely this presupposes that the Scriptures can be understood by those who read it, otherwise how can they be utilized in such a manner? However, could it be that perhaps the Scripture were to be read and interpreted by the clergy and then the laity would then do all these godly things, while leaving the interpretation of Scripture exclusively to the clergy?

We can see from the Scriptures how the Scripture were read and interpreted, which would inform us on whether there exists such a clergy/ laity distinction with regards to the interpretation of Scripture. First of all, during the time of Moses, the Jews were commanded to obey all the commands and the decrees of the LORD (Deut. 11:13; 11:1), to memorize them (Deut. 11:18), and to teach their children the Law of God (Deut. 11:19). Note that this command was given to all the Jews. More specifically, the command to teach their children was given to the father who is the head in the household. This shows that all the Jews are to know the Law (the given Scriptures of their time). Furthermore, since for the fathers it involves teaching the children, they must first understand the Scriptures before they teach their children. Therefore, such reading and understanding of the Scriptures is not limited to the 'clergy' of their day only, the Levites and the Aaronical priesthood, but to all Jews. Since Israel is the Old Testament Church, this represents the fact that all Christians are to know the Scripture for themselves, and also that fathers must teach their children the Scriptures.

During the time of Jesus, it was the custom to read from the Scriptures in the synagogue, as Jesus did (Lk. 4:16-17). From this, we can see that the Scripture were read to the ordinary folks, even to ordinary Jewish villagers in the town of Nazareth. Therefore, we can see that even ordinary unlearned villagers were expected to be able to understand the Scripture by themselves, in order to abide by them.

When we go to the Apostolic age, we find that the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture is even more explicit. Of special note is the case of the Bereans, who test the Apostle Paul's teaching by the Scriptures they had (Acts. 17: 11) and were commended for doing so by Luke who called them noble-minded. This presupposes the doctrine of perspicuity as they can only test Paul's teaching by Scripture ONLY if they can understand what Scripture teaches in the first place. Another place in the New Testament where the doctrine of perspicuity is implied in the various places where we are told to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:3), which would be meaningless unless one can know the faith through reading the Scriptures. Even more explicit is the words in Scripture by Luke stating that the reason why he is writing the Gospel named after him (Lk. 1:4) is so that 'you may have certainty concerning the things you [Theophilus] have been taught'. Also, in 1 Jn. 5:13, a verse used often to talk about having assurance of salvation, the whole book of 1 John was written so that believers can know that they have eternal life. Therefore, the Scripture are written so that we would know for sure the things which God wants us to know, which is thus plain to us.

Now, another aspect of the doctrine of perspicuity is that, although it is plain to all, those who are wise in their eyes and who thus approach the Scripture with bias unbelief, together with those whose eyes are blinded, would not be able to discern the true meaning of Scripture. The former is found in 1 Cor. 1:18-25, especially in verse 20 where it is stated that God has made foolish the wisdom of the wise, which expresses itself through them ridicuing the way of salvation through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since through the Scriptures alone, Man can know God and be saved (Rom. 10:14-17), therefore those who are wise in their eyes would not be able to understand Scripture. The latter is seen in 2 Cor. 4:3-4 where the god of this world or Satan has deceived and veiled the eyes of the unbelievers who do not know God, so that they can't see Him nor hear the Gospel which is found in Scripture.

Then, how can Man truly know and understand the Scriptures? Although the Scriptures do tell us that each of us can know the Scriptures through the commands of Scripture and the examples in Scripture as seen above, we have also seen that the Scriptures are veiled towards those who are wise in their own eyes, which include Christians who place their traidtion above Scripture and all non-Christians. Of course, it can be said that Christians who plce their traditions above Scripture should humble themselves and submit to the Word of God and become babes (Lk. 10:21) so that they might know the Scriptures. However, what about the non-Christians as stated in 2 Cor. 4:3-4? Where does that leave the doctrine of perspicuity?

The answer is to be found in 1 Cor. 2:12-16. In this passage, we can see that the key to understanding Scripture is through the infilling of the Holy Spirit who will teach us Christians all things and guide us into all truth (Jn. 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:13). Therefore, the doctrine of perspicuity of Scripture is indeed correct, with the clarification that the Scriptures though perspicuous but can only be rightly understood by those who are the children of God, and thus have the Holy Spirit's guidance in understanding Scripture.

Now, this is not to say that unbelievers cannot intellectually know the meaning of Scripture. In fact, it is precisely because they can intellectual understand the claims of Scripture that they scoff and reject the Gospel, as it is foolishness to them (1 Cor. 1:24). Therefore, what is meant by the fact that they cannot know the Scriptures is that they could not comprehend the reasonableness of the Christian faith. In fact, since God is the only Truth, and Christ is the Logos of the World (Jn. 1:1), this shows that all non-Christians are actually intellectually deficient when it comes to things of eternity (though they could be genuises in other fields), which spring from their spiritual rebellion against God.

Last but not least, the doctrine of perspicuity says that not all things in the Scripture are 'alike plain in themselves', which means that some things in Scripture are easier to understand than others. The classic proof text for this can be found in 2 Peter 3:16, where some of the Apostle Paul's teaching is harder to understand than others. Therefore, this clarification on the doctrine of perspicuity is proved.

In the next installment, we would look at some objections to the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture.


References:

[1] Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I Sentence VII. As seen at http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reply to Munchy regarding the GDOP (and other issues)

With regards to the Global Day of Prayer, this is what Munchy has to say:

my original concern was the nature of the letter that you sent to the organisers, which i felt was extreme.

Assume I am an organiser and church leader and even though I am not a fan of mass events, I would like my church to be involved in this event as it is a good opportunity for my congregation to come together in unity with other christians to pray and pray for singapore as well. Why? Being in CC I think you can empathise to a certain extent rite.

Now I do not know TD Jakes, and I see this utterly uncompromising email saying that is is "UNBIBLICAL to associate with a trinity-denying heretic" and it condemns the event and all that.. now seriously how do you expect me to respond. Cancel the event cuz of your email? Jus cuz someone who is a heretic is in someway associated with it? Does that alone automatically make the event a sinful one? The whole tone of the letter does seem to go overboard, and I dont really want to go into all the details about what I think is too extreme about the letter here. After all you do know that you are accusing them of a lot of things right?

Let us look at each of the points as stated above:

Assume I am an organiser and church leader and even though I am not a fan of mass events, I would like my church to be involved in this event as it is a good opportunity for my congregation to come together in unity with other christians to pray and pray for singapore as well.

Well, my question to you then would be: Should you obey God or obey Man? Do you think visible organizational unity is of enough worth that we can violate the commands of God to manifest it? If you really want to pray for Singapore, can't you do it privately? After all, a prayer of a godly person is powerful (Jas. 5:16b) and thus worth much more than the prayers of compromisers. And if you really want to pray in a group, I think I did mention in my blog that people who want to pray together can come together to pray APART from the event. Why is such a visible manifestation of unity important? Why is numbers important, anyway? Wasn't Elijah alone when he faced down the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel? If God is for us, who can be against us? Why this unbiblical fascination with numbers?

Why? Being in CC I think you can empathise to a certain extent rite.

Let me just say that I can pray together with other Christians when no such compromise occurs. However, when they do, I seperate from them. See what I did on 4th June, the day of the GDOP, as an example of how I do not compromise the faith when the situation arises.

now seriously how do you expect me to respond. Cancel the event cuz of your email?

Well, this question should have been asked by Rev. Dr. Alfred Ong, who sadly is too proud and arrogant to even talk to me (Oh well, one of the pitfalls of ministry: Being too proud to be corrected by people who you deem beneath you). Anyway, back to the question. This is what I think the GDOP committee memebers should do:

1) Individual members should withdraw from the committee and warn their members against going for this event.

2) If all the members are penitent (perhaps they only realize their error when I mention it to them) then they should repent of their errors. They should then either

2a) Cancel the event OR

2b) Go ahead with the event BUT denounce T.D. Jakes as a heretic during the event AND disavow any linkage with the global GDOP movement during the event itself, alongside with repenting of their errors. As such, they should cut all links with all GDOP committees worldwide.

And, if you think that that would entail perhaps a loss of respect from the Christian community, I would just say this: Would you rather face the wrath of God because of your sin or just face the prospect of losing some of the respect of your fellow pastors and your church members? You decide who to fear: God or Man.

Jus cuz someone who is a heretic is in someway associated with it? Does that alone automatically make the event a sinful one?

Yes, it does. Go read 2 Cor. 6:14-18 for a start. Vincent and Jenson can also chip in on this one. Just to show you by way of analogy: Is it sinful to associate with a Satanist in ministry through prayer? If not, why? And is there any difference between a Satanist and a heretic? Why or why not?

The whole tone of the letter does seem to go overboard, and I dont really want to go into all the details about what I think is too extreme about the letter here. After all you do know that you are accusing them of a lot of things right?

Let's see. ... Rereading my open letter ... Hmmm..... Here's what I accuse them of:

1) Compromising on the Gospel (NOTE: not denial. Well... believing in the Trinity is part of the Gospel, and therefore by partnering with T.D. Jakes, they obfuscate the Gospel)

2) Not protecting the flock of God against the enemy (Well, if T.D. Jakes if protrayed as a Christian, as he is in the video, then the GDOP committee members have allow this wolf in sheep's clothing to come in. Thus, they didn't protect the flock of God against him)

3) Sinning against God and His Word (Anytime you misquote the Bible, twisting verses out of context, you are showing contempt for God and His Word [See Prov. 30:5-6 for starters]. Furthermore, don't you think that it is interesting that the master of twisting Scripture is the devil when he tempts our Lord in the wilderness?)

4) No scholarly intergrity (Why the miscitation of the Apostle's Creed? It is delibrate since they did not change it after I have informed them.)

OK, so which part is extreme about the letter? If your bone to pick is only because I, a nobody, dare to question all these reputable somebodies, then take heed lest you think the same way as how the Pharisees thought of Jesus and his unschooled disciples.

Also, you may want to take note of the fact that I have given them ample time (2 weeks plus) to think through the consequences. They are without excuse as with regards to their sin.

OK, with regards to your next comment-post:

I got your site link from Sharon [sic] whom you went on a mission trip with recently. we're in the same church, and im in nus vcf currently

Well, think I should thank Sharon then :P. But I wonder what was the catalyst for you getting the site link from her. ....

Anyway, my church is embarking on 40DOP soon and I must say though I have yet to read the book, I already have deep reservations about the program because to me it seems to 'sell' a very diluted gospel message

You can wait for my book to come out where I deal with all these issues and more. In the meantime, I would recommand a book by Pastor Bob DeWaay entitled Redefining Christianity - Understanding the Puporse Driven Life Movement. You can't get the book conventionally in Singapore, unfortunately; I bought my copy online. He does know what he is talking about, and provides substantial documentation to prove his points.

But im willing to submit and be a facilitator. 1) i think it is a gd opportunity to be doing something together as a church. 2) something is better than nothing, esp for the many nominal christians it is a chance for them to re-examine their lives 3) in my group i too have a chance to guide the discussion in a doctrinally sound manner 4) i am not in a position to propose AND carry out a better alternative than 40DOP for my church to embark on, not like im a church elder or something 5) 40DOP though dubious, has great opportunity to do good as well

Hmmm, let's see

1) Well, you can basically do almost anything together as a church, as long as someone hypes and markets it well. Therefore irrelevant.

2) Well, I would think that poison is worse than nothing, so it isn't necessarily the case where something is better than nothing. If you want a good book for Christians to examine their lives, may I recommand to you the book Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus by Pastor John F. McArthur, Jr. I have been greatly blessed by it. Unfortunately, it is not sold in Singapore also, though you may probably be able to get some from Grace To You ministries in Singapore.

3) Let's see how you do that. I would be interested to know. From friends that I know, this is done by basically 'transforming' Warren's teaching, which consists of censoring the questionable parts and addition of biblical content not found in the book. You might as well write your own book by then.

4) I understand this. You may be interested to know that I tried but was declared persona non grata in my former church. Thank God that I currently attend a church which is more biblically sound and oppose the Purpose Driven Life.

5) Just because good may result does not make something good in and of itself. David's lust of Bathsheba was evil and sinful, but out of that line came the line of Solomon and the Davidic Kingdom, a good outcome wouldn't you say? The crucification of our Lord was an evil deed, yet through that evil deed Christ purchased salvation for us his people. Just because something good may come out of if does not make the promotion and execution of this program good.

If you agree with my stand on 40DOP, then perhaps you to can understand a bit of what i am trying to drive at when i feel you are being too extreme in the case of the GDOP letter that you posted on your homepage

Believe me when I said that I once thought like you on a related subject, and have only ostracism, rejection and no fruits to show for this effort. As it is written,

I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people,who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; (Is. 65:2)

Maybe you would one day come to see the futility of your efforts, or perhaps Bethesda Frankel Estate is better than my previous church. Time will tell.

Trinity isnt even mentioned in the bible right? it is a doctrine that is biblically and realistically sound, but one that has been fleshed out in words by man (whilst being inspired by God [sic]).

Hmmm..... The term Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible but the concept is. However, do not try to play semantics with me. The word Trinity has a certain meaning due to its time-honored historical usage and therefore it should not be redefined or thrown aside just because 'it is not found in the Bible'. In that case, you can throw away the words ' rapture' as well (not found in the Bible), also 'sinner's prayer' and 'altar call' among others, and especially the 4SL.

i hope you do not rule out the possibility that different views and not necessarily conflicting views. (For eg. maybe such as arminiansm & calvinism ?)

You mean 'are not necessarily conflicting views', right? I agree that different views may not necessarily be conflicting views. However, the example you give is definitely not one of them. Both of them are antithecal to each other, and therefore one of them must be correct and the other wrong.

OK, that's all for now.

TD Jakes and his Sabellian heresy

This is a post specifically regarding Munchy's comments on TD Jakes. This is what he said:

ok i agree that manifestations is not a good word used to describe the trinity.. but the church statement does not just end there, it also talks about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in subsequent paragraphs. That's why although "manifestations" seems a wrong word to use, the subsequent paragraphs do clarify the issue. And I am definitely not prepared to call someone a heretic based on one word alone!

Manifestation is just "not a good word"? The church statement talks about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and therefore the subsequent paragraphs clarify the issue? Let us analyze this in detail:

The word 'manifestation' when stated to define the Trinity has historically been associated with the Sabellian or modalist heresy in Church history[1]. It has been resurrected by the Oneness Pentecostal cult, of which the United Pentecostal Church constitutes TD Jakes' background[2]. So what does the word manifestation mean?

The word manifestation, when used to describe the relation between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, simply say that God was God the Father in creation. Then, at the Incarnation, part of God the Father 'morph' into God the Son in Jesus Christ. Following his death, God's spirit, which 'morph' to become God the Holy Spirit, came down from heaven to be present on this world.

Therefore, the word 'manifestation' is NOT just 'not a good word to use', anymore than the word 'evil' is NOT just 'not a good word to use' to describe God. T.D. Jakes denies the Trinity and thus blasphemes God[3]. As such, he is not a Christian and needs to repent of his errors and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the second person of the Trinity, not the 'Jesus' of his own making.

Now, we can look at the other aspects of Jakes' belief statement as stated on his church's website[4]. We can then see whether, as Munchy says, 'subsequent paragraphs clarify the issue'.

Let's look at the 'fuller description of Jakes' doctrine of God':

God — There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three Manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ — Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He died on the cross, the complete and final sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate.

The Holy Spirit — The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and during this age, to convict men of sin, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for godly living and service.

Well, I don't think I see any clarifying or modifying of his basic thesis regarding the oneness of God manifested in three different forms in the Bible. None of what Jakes says here change or alter (or 'clarify')his Sabellian heresy. In fact, judging by his association with the apostate Higher Ground Always Abounding Assembly which similarly embrace the Sabellian heresy, I shouldn't be surprised by his embrace of the modalist error[5].

Oh, regarding the condemning of people as heretics because of one word, I would like to put forward the same counter-example as stated above. If I said that God is evil, am I a heretic? If I say that Jesus became a sinner at the Cross, am I a heretic? Notice that they both revolve around single words: 'evil' and 'sinner'. I guess my point is proved by now.


References:

[1] The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology (http://www.aomin.org/CHALC.html)

[2] About T.D. Jakes (http://www.apologeticsindex.org/j11.html)

[3] See also my friend Wenxian's similar post here: Proof of TD Jakes' denial of the Trinity (http://tanboonhian.blogspot.com/2006/05/proof-of-td-jakes-denial-of-trinity.html)

[4] The Potter's House: Belief Statement (http://www.thepottershouse.org/PH_beliefs.html)

[5] For other heresies embraced by T.D. Jakes, see "Get ready" for T.D. Jakes - The Velcro Bishop at http://www.pfo.org/jakes.html

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sola Scriptura: The preservation of Scripture

In this installment, I would now like to go on to the topic of the preservation of Scripture.

In the section regarding my defence of Verbal Plenary Inspiration (VPI), a friend of mine, Vincent, has commented that the particular defence I have made does not establish that what we have now is the very Word of God, only that it is 99% of the Word of God. I agree with him. Although Verbal Plenary Inerrancy of the original autographs have been proved from the Scriptures, the existence of errors in the apographs, and the fact that the science of textual criticism will never by itself be able to confidently deliver a text which is 100% free from error, could erode our confidence in the Word of God. What use is an inerrant Bible if we do not have it with us? Or so the saying goes.

Before we go on further, it must be granted that the doctrine of VPI is useful in and of itself apart from any consideration of the preservation of Scripture. Although we do not have the autographs with us now, acknowledgement of the VPI of the autographs would give us the right to say that we have an objective absolute standard of truth. Conversely, if VPI is rejected, then what right does anyone have to say that this word or phrase or even concept is actually found or not found in the Scriptures? Also, consideration of Greek and Hebrew grammatical constructs would be of no use in the interpretation of Scripture, and thus alternative readings which contain serious errors in biblical exegesis could not be faulted. For example, if the Scriptures were not verbally inspired, why can't a person who read John 6:44-45 say that the act of coming to Christ determines who is being drawn to Christ, and not the biblical understanding that the drawing of the elect to Christ determines who will come to Christ? Therefore, although the doctrine of VPI does not by itself give us any confidence that we currently have the inerrant Word of God with us, it does have its practical benefits.

To have assurance that our current bibles are indeed the inerrant Word of God, the doctrine of preservation of Scripture is required. The doctrine of preservation of Scripture basically says that God has preserved His Word in all ages and at all times such that believers can be certain that what we have with us now is the authoritative Word of God which is theopneustos (God-breathed). Note that it does not say that any particular copy of any particular version of the Bible that we have is the Word of God, otherwise anybody with the blasphemous pervasion called The Message could say that he/she has the authoritative, inerrant Word of God with him/her when he/she in actual fact doesn't have it. It does, however, say that if we get a good Bible where the translators honor God's Word in its translation (word for word translation), we will have God's authoritative Word with and for us.

Now, there has been in some conservative/ fundamentalist circles a ontroversy regarding the preservation of the Bible. Some of them propose that the preservation of the Bible be extended to the apographs also. More specifically, they extend preservation to include either the KJV (Ruckmanite[1]), or to the TR (Textus Receptus) (which include people currently in the Bible-Presbyterian church like Dr. Jeffrey Khoo, academic dean of FEBC[2]). I am not going to enter this particular debate, except to note that the doctrine of preservation can and does exist independently of these two teachings.

The doctrine of preservation can be found in passages of the Bible like Ps. 119:89, 160 which state that God's Word is eternal. Similarly, Is. 40:8 in its context (Is. 40:6-8) states explicitly that though men die and their glory fades away, God's Word still remain. The doctrine of preservation is boosted with the verse Mt. 5:18 where Jesus, as the Son of God who never lies, proclaims that not even a dot or an iota would disappear from the Scriptures. Since such is the case, definitely in every age and time, the people of God will never fail to have the Word of God with them, and thus the doctrine of preservation is proved.

Another line of deductive argument can be made from the fact that Jesus has promised that his Church will always be present on this earth until he comes again, in Mt. 16: 18. Since the Church of God will always be preserved by God, and also since the people of God need the Word of God in order to grow (2 Tim. 3:15-16) and to multiply (Rom. 10:17), therefore in order for the Church to stand, her people must have the Word of God. Thus, the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture is hereby proved.

But then, some may ask, how does this doctrine of preservation works out in the face of the facts of textual variants and copyist errors? As stated above, we start off with the facts of Scripture a priori (by faith), then we tackle the issues, not the other way round using textual criticism in an attempt to discover the inerrant Scriptures. Therefore, starting from the standpoint of a preserved, verbally plenary inspired Bible, we can see that the phenomena of textual variants and copyist errors do not pose a problem at all to the doctrine of preservation, as we shall see.

Firstly, the idea of plenary preservation of Scriptures has no conflict whatsoever with the facts of the known errors and variants, judging by the nature and type of errors and variants. This is the most important aspect, since it is the content of the Scripture that is most important for us Christians. Secondly, although there are textual variants and minor errors, it could still be the case that we have the very words of Scripture in the autograph found among the many different manuscripts that are available to us. Since such is the case, all these facts do not pose a problem for the doctrine of preservation, and thus we can be certain of our bibles being the very Word of God itself. But then what about the saints in ancient times who do not have so many manuscripts to look at? Well, if we believe that God is faithful to His people, then of course we can believe that what they had is sufficient for them, just as what we have is sufficient for us.

Ultimately, the whole issue boils down to a matter of faith; faith in the Word of God and in the Sovereignty of God to do what he says he would do regardless of human intentions or free will. If we believe in a God who is absolutely sovereign, and He has decided to reveal Himself in His Word, then He will never fail to preserve His Word even though Man may try to distort and corrupt it, or lost or destroy the various Bible manuscripts, or just let it disintegrate over time.

With this, let us continue on with the section on the perspicuity of Scripture.


References:

[1] Read James. R. White's correspondence with Peter S. Ruckman at http://aomin.org/ruckcor.html

[2] The view called VPP (Verbal Plenary Preservation) can be seen promoted in the Bible-Presbyterian Bible College (Far East Bible College or FEBC for short) at http://www.febc.edu.sg/Verbal%20Plenary%20Preservation.htm

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sola Scriptura: The issue of ultimate authority

Having proven the necesity, sufficiency, authority of Scripture, and then looking at the extent of inspiration of Scripture; proving the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture, then the inerrancy of Scripture and the Canon of Scripture, I would now go into the fundamental issue of the key concept of Sola Scriptura: that of ultimate authority.

As it can be seen, I have been using Scripture so far to prove all its own attributes. Of course, epistemologically, one must take into account one's own holy text in order to find out what it says about itself. Through the use of Scripture and a few other evidences, I have managed to prove all the above attributes of Scripture. However, isn't the whole argument so far just an exercise in circular reasoning? Using Scripture to prove the attributes of Scripture; using Scripture in fact to prove and undergird almost every argument for these attributes, seems like reasoning in one big circle. So why should our arguments to be taken seriously at all, since circular reasoning is normally one big logical fallacy?

This whole idea of engaging in circular reasoning, however, does not constitute a logical fallacy in this instance. It must be reminded that the issue here is about ultimate authority. What I have done so far, in appealing to Scripture over and over again, is to treat it as my ultimate authority. In the post on the inerrancy of Scripture, it was stated that opponents of verbal, plenary inspiration would say that Christians (or fundamentalists as they call us) turn the Bible into a 'paper pope'. In the technical sense of the term, these opponents are right. We are treating the Bible as our ultimate authority.

Now, then, an ultimate authority cannot appeal to anything but itself, since by doing so it would acknowledge another to be an authority higher than itself and it is therefore not the ultimate authority. Therefore, epistemologically, all reasoning on ultimate authority would by necessity be circular. Let us see how the liberals and other non-Christian wordlview are actually circular also.

The old-time liberals of the Higher Criticism group, when deconstructing the Bible, are actually postulating that their intellect, or rather the collective intellect of the liberals, are to function as the ultimate authority in all things. There is simply no reason whatsoever that can be given as to why they are so sure that all of them by their intellect could not be wrong. They may admit that they could individually be wrong, but collectively, they would deny that they could be wrong since they believe that they could correct each other's mistakes. However, false premises give rise to false conclusions. If everybody share the same false premises, then no matter how much thought is given to the problem, the best you can get are valid arguments which are unsound due to the false premise embraced. This is the fallacy of Rationalism and all who base their beliefs on their mind or the collective worldview in society (like for example the scientific evolutionary establishment). In fact, this describe the entire discipline of philosophy apart from God and all secular humanist thought.

As for non-Christian religions, it need not be said that they have their religious books or teachings which are similarly circular in reasoning (unless they are read through the lens of rationalist discourse, which would come under the fallacy of Rationalism). Islam for example have as its ultimate authority in the Koran. Try asking a devout Muslim why something is correct and they will say that the Koran (or the Hadiths) say it is correct. Try questioning their holy books and they would not be able to answer that question except to say that the Koran (or the Hadiths) say so.

Since that is the case, the liberals and rationalists among others who attack Christianity by saying that all such proofs for its inerrancy etc are circular are by themselves engaging in circular reasoning. They have no right whatsoever to call us to account for doing so since no one can do otherwise.

But this then opens up a Pandora's box. For then how can we decide which system is correct? Since there is no such thing as neutral ground, upon which can one make an informed decision regarding the correctness of any religious/ philosophical system, how then can one make a correct choice? What makes one system better than the other? Some try to validate postmodernism by claiming such epistemologically nihilism. However, if postmodernism is correct, then there is not one system that is better than the other, except that the postmodern system is better than all exclusive systems (which goes to show that postmodernism is self-defeating). How then can one decide between different systems?

I, of course, as a Christian, would claim the Scripture as ultimate authority and God the ultimate authority over the world. Many other religions and religo-philosophies claim ultimate authority status for their respective books and figures and ideas also. What then differentiates the true and the false one, or the good and the better one? Since Christianity is an exclusive religion (Jn. 14:7), the contrast is between true religion in Christianity and the other false religions and philosophies. How one could compare them is by comparing the consistency of each religious or religo-philosophical system, since truth is consistent with itself. Test its internal consistency and also check its consistency with the external world, as they are supposed to describe the external world. It is my contention that Christianity passes both tests, and none others do so, and thus taking Scripture as our ultimate authority is the supremely and only rational thing to do.

Sola Scriptura: The Canon of Scripture

Carrying on after proving the inerrancy of Scripture, I would like to go on to a related issue — the Canon of Scripture, before going on to the issue of ultimate authority which undergirds everything, and finishing with the preservation of Scripture.

The Canon of Scripture refers to the books which are to be found in the Scriptures, to be regarded as the Christian's Rule of Faith. In fact, the word Canon comes from a Hebrew and Greek word and basically means something by which to keep straight; a rule[1]. Thus, the Canon delineates which books are considered to be the Word of God and which books aren't to be considered as such.

Most liberals, probably knowing the weakness of their position with regards to the Bible, question the Bible itself at its core, by questioning the Canon of Scripture. If one holds to the Canon of Scripture as delineating between the inspired writings and the non-inspired ones, then there is simply no logically consistent way that one can hold to errancy of Scripture in light of the evidences, manuscript and otherwise, and thus there is no way one can reject the other doctrines about the Bible without rejecting Christianity. Therefore, the liberals attack the Canon of Scripture, as only then can they still logically be a 'Christian' (in the sense that their worldview is logically consistent with their idea and understanding of Christianity) and remain a liberal.

The Christian Canon is typically made up of 66 books; 39 books in the Old Testament (OT), and 27 books in the New Testament. They are made up of:

OT

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy — Torah or Law
Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadaih, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi — Prophets
Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Songs of songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles — Writings

NT

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John — Gospels
Acts — History
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galations, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon — Pauline Epistles
Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude — General Epistles
Revelation — Apocalytic

The Christian Canon differs from the Roman Catholic Canon in that they add the Apocrypha into their Canon, and their Canon differ from the Orthodox churches also. I would not go into detail over which version of the canon is correct, but instead focus more on the issue of canonicity with regards to the liberals.

The liberals question and reject the idea of the Canon by essentially positing that the Canon was decided by men and thus they could have added in or rejected certain books which are actually authentic books representing what they call 'true Christianity'. The most well-known example of such liberal thinking is that found in the blasphemous and hugely popular novel (and adopted to film) by Dan Brown entitled The Da Vinci Code, in which Brown had his fictitious expert in his novel saying that the Council of Nicea and the Emperor Constantine had decided which books were placed into the canon of Scripture. Liberals can also use the example of the different Canons found within Christendom to show the fact that the Canon is ultimately decided by Man. Of course, the historical development of the Canon shows that the Church was the one who finally decided on the Canon, after accepting some disputed books and then rejecting them, or rejecting other disputed books and then accepting them later[2], which the liberals use to promote the idea that the Canon was decided by fallible, biased Man. The Nag Hammadi finds of the Gnostic gospels and the idea of secret gospels in general also have given liberals fuel to bolster their claims of the Bible being essentially a work of men and not the Word of God.

So, how should we respond to all these attacks? To the existence of different canons in visible Christedom, it must be said that to infer from this that the Canon of Scripture is suspect is a non sequitar. All three traditions (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox) believe in a fixed Canon while disputing on some of the books which the other side has or hasn't in the Canon of Scripture. Obviously, one side is right and the others are wrong. As an Reformed Evangelical Protestant, I would definitely say that the Protestant Canon is the Christian one, and this is backed up by historical and internal evidence of the rejected writings[3]. Also, based on historical and literary evidences, the 'secret Gospels' like for example those in the Nag Hammadi finds are also rejected as being part of the Canon[4].

The main thrust of the liberal arguments is the argument that the Canon was decided by Man, who were often assumed to be biased in their selection of books to add in the Canon. Feminists and New-Agers could therefore claim that these people suppress the Gnostic 'gospels' as they were patristic and biased against women. Alos, would like to take note that Roman Catholics use a similar form of argumentation also to push their argument for the primacy of the Church over that of the Word. What all these arguments have in common is the argument that people create the canon of Scripture. However, this argument is flawed. The canon was recognized by the Church, not created by it[5]. Since the canon was recognized by the Church, the Church did not have any liberty to add to or remove books from the Scriptures, but to humbly recognized and receive these canonical books as Scripture. Was it possible for the Church and Christians in general to rebel against God and not accept those books which are meant to be canonical? No, for God has said that His Will shall be accomplished and not be thwarted (Dan. 4:35). If God intends for these books to be His Word, it will be done as such. Also, it is written that God's Word in the Scriptures is eternal, standing firm in the heavens (Ps. 119:89), and thus its contents do not dependent on Man's decision of the books of the Canon.

But what about the Roman Catholic church or the Orthodox churches, some might ask? We can see that the Roman church-state only added the Apocrypha during and after the Council of Trent[6], and the Orthodox churches basically accepts all of the Apocrypha, even those that the Roman state-church rejects. The Roman acceptance of the Apocrypha is thus rather recent and was after the Reformation and therefore this does not infringe on the canon of Scripture. As with regards to the Orthodox churches, they do not make a clear distinction between Scripture and Tradition, in fact placing Scripture as the preeminent tradition among many forms[7]. Therefore, nothing much about the Canon can be made from the Orthodox position.

Since this is the case, all the arguments by the liberals and the defense of Rome for Sola Ecclesia is undercut and rendered unsound. The doctrine of the existence of the inspired Canon of Scripture in its present form as stated above with 66 books is thus validated.

[to be continued]


References:

[1] M.G. Easton (1897), Easton's Bible Dictionary, Published by Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI. Public Domain

[2] See Disputed books of the Old Testament (http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon4.html) and The New Testament Canon (http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon3.html)

[3] See The Old Testament Canon and Apocrypha at http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon2.html . For more research into the Canon, look at http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon.html . Also Are the right books in the Bible? (http://www.angelfire.com/nt/theology/theology/04canon.html) See the articles in the Canon section at Monergism.com also at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/bible.html#canon

[4] The Gnostics and Jesus (http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/gnostics.html). Even a cursory look at some of these books will show that they are radically different in style and writing from the canonical books. See Lost Books of the Bible, so-called at http://www.carm.org/lostbooks.htm where you can read some of these books for yourself.

[5] See James R. White (2004), Scripture Alone, pp. 101-103, published by Bethany House, Minneapolis, Minnesota

[6] Reasons why the Apocyrpha doesn not belong to the Bible! (http://www.bible.ca/catholic-apocrypha.htm)

[7] Eastern Orthodoxy (http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/EasternOrthodoxy.html)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Chinese theological words...

Just for some fun, I would like to post some names and theological words in Chinese. [Note: Chinese (simplified) font must be enabled to see them]

John Calvin = 约翰 。 加尔文

James Arminius = 雅各 。 阿民念

Calvinism = 加尔文主义

Arminianism = 阿民念主义

Reformed = 改教

Reformation = 改革时期

Puritan = 清教

Canons of Dordt = 多特信条

Heiderberg Catechism = 海德堡要理问题

Belgic Confession of Faith = 比利时信条

Westminster Confession of Faith = 韦斯敏斯德信条

Monergism = 神恩独作论

Synergism = 神人合作论

For the last two, I sortof coined them on the spot. Perhaps there already exists translated words for these two. If so, does anyone know of them?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sola Scriptura: The inerrancy of Scripture

With the theory of partial inerrancy done away with, let us go to the next topic: the Inerrancy of Scripture.

Now, to say that Scripture is inerrant is to say that all of Scripture, every word of Scripture as it is in the autorgraphs is inerrant (Verbal Plenary Inspiration). The opposite view is that the Scriptures are errant; with errors in it, with no viable middle ground. As stated before, there are no explicit evidence for inerrancy, but there are a lot of implict evidences in Scripture for it. If one abides by the absolute authority and truth of Scripture, one can be confident that there are no errors in the Bible, since the Bible itself say it is without error. Of course, this is a circular argument, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

So how do opponents of the inerrancy of Scriptures, all liberals, try to disprove inerrancy? Basically, they use the same points and more which the partial inerrantists borrowed to argue against total inerrancy. However, at least the liberals are consistent with their philosophy, since they do not postulate certain parts of Scripture as being inerrant. They attempt to prove their case by (i) Pointing out alleged contradictions in the Bible, (ii) Contradiction with established scientific and historical facts, (iii) Pointing out textual variants and then extrapolating that to say that this show errors in the Bible, and when all else fails, (iv) Saying that doing so makes the Bible a 'paper pope' and is bibliolatry (OR Christ is bigger than the Scriptures).

Now, what do we Christians say to this? All of these are extra-biblical evidences, for sure. That does not necessarily make it wrong, but we must see if they are actually sound arguments against the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture.

(i) Pointing out alleged contradictions in the Bible

If Scripture is inerrant, then all of its facts must be correct. One way of testing this is to see if facts stated in the Scripture are consistent among the different accounts found in certain parts of Scripture. For example, the Resurrection accounts in the different Gospels seem to be different in some places. In the account in Matthew, it is stated that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb (Mt. 28:1) whereas in John, it is stated that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb (Jn. 20:1). This appears to be a contradiction here. However, just because the Johannine account mention Mary Magdalene only does not imply that only Mary Magdalene was present. If I say that there is one marble (on a plate containing two marbles), I would not be lying unless I say there is only one marble. Thus, in evaluating supposed contradictions in the Bible, we must check to see whether the 'contradictions' is due to our reading our low-context interpretation into the Bible, as the Bible is a high-context text rather than a low-context one as our modern society now is. It is my belief that most of the supposed errors and contradictions in the Bible are in actually neither and are simply presenting the truth in different ways which may cause difficulties due to our low-context reading lenses[1].

However, are there any errors or contradictions in the Bible which are really valid? A few numerical errors found in the Bible, like a numerical inflation of 10 times could be seen when comparing passages like 2 Sam. 10:18 and 1 Chron. 19:18. Also, there seem to be a discrepancy found between the genealogies of Luke and Genesis, with Lk 3:36 having an extra Cainan, supposedly the son of Arphaxad, in it, which is not found in the Genesis account[2]. However, when one counts such errors, there are in actual fact extremely few of such genuine errors in the manuscripts[3],[4] and such errors do not necessarily show that these contradictions are also found in the autographs. Also, such errors only implicate a small amount of the Scriptures and their existence do not touch any major teaching or doctrine in the Bible. Since such is the case, their existence do not negate the teaching of the inerrancy of the Bible in its autographs.

But then some may say that such a move make the inerrancy of Scripture unfalsifiable and also it is ridiculous for us to say that the Bible is inerrant except for the few errors in the Bible. First of all, inerrancy is preserved for the autographs only, not the apographs, which are inerrant inasmuch as they conform to the autograph. For the charge that such a claim would make the teaching unfalsifiable, let it be clear first that this doctrine is primarily for Scriptural and theological reasons, not for its 'scientific' verifiability. Secondly, that is what the science of (lower) textual criticism is for, to correct any copyist errors which had made its way into some of the manuscripts and our Bibles. Thirdly, as I have mentioned, no major doctrines, in fact not even one doctrine mentioned in the Bible, is affected by these copyist errors[3]. For all these reasons, the doctrines of the inerrancy of Scripture and the preservation of Scripture, which will be talked about later, are still maintained.

(ii) Contradictions with established scientific and historical facts

As I have mentioned before in the previous sections, the scientific method is fallible, especially when dealing with the historical sciences, as there are way too many variables and events which are assumed a priori when trying to reconstruct what actually happaned. Typically, the philosophical theory of uniformitarianism is assumed which the scientific data can neither prove nor disprove. The historical theories and 'facts' of relevance to the biblical data falls to the same fallacy also since their dates are often found using scientific methods such as carbon dating. Since such is the case, such contradictions are not important to the doctrine of inerrancy, since if there exists a contradiction, the scientific or historical 'facts' can legitimately be assumed to be wrong as they rest on an unproved philosophical principle.

(iii) Pointing out textual variants and then extrapolating that to say that this show errors in the Bible

The existence of textual variants, most notably that between the Critical Text and the Majority Text traditions, could very well be exploited and extrapolated to say that such variants show that there are errors in the Bible, since the autograph would definitely have only one reading. However, approximately 99.5% of the Bible which account for all the doctrines in the Bible agree completely all of the time[3], and therefore to extrapolate from the existence of textual variants to the existence of errors found in the Bible is invalid.

(iv) Saying that doing so makes the Bible a 'paper pope' and is bibliolatry (OR Christ is bigger than the Scriptures).

When all else fails, this is often the 'best' accusation, often made by the liberals within so-called Protestant circles[5]. However, this is simply ridiculous, as obviously, this charge is not about people bowing down to a physical Bible and offering incense and sacrifices to it (which would be true bibliolatry) but of people revering God's Word. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, and the words therein are God-breathed, then what the Bible says is what God says. Since that is the case, believing the Bible and following its precepts is the same as following God. These people therefore blaspheme God by implying that to obeying Him and to treat His words with reverence is idolatry. To liken the words of God to the pope is highly insulting, noting that the Pope is an antichrist[6]. Nevertheless, the issue of the comparison is related to that of ultimate authority, which we shall cover later.

(to be continued)


References:

[1] For more information, see Josh McDowell (1999), The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, IMprint Edition (2006), published by Campus Crusade Asia Limited, Singapore.

[2] For an examination of this contradiction, see the article Cainan: How do you explain the difference between Luke 3:36 and Gen. 11:12? at http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/3748.asp

[3] Illustration of Bible text manuscript tree and variant readings (http://www.carm.org/bible/textualexample.htm)

[4] See also Gleason L. Archer, Alleged Errors and Discrepancies in the Original Manuscripts of the Bible, in Norman L. Geisler (1980), Ed., Inerrancy, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Gran Rapids, MI.

[5] Making the Bible an Idol, Mainstream Messenger, 3:3 at (http://www.mainstreambaptists.org/mob1/bibliolatry.htm)

[6] The Wesminster Confession of Faith Chapter XXV Sentence VI states that the Pope is The Antichrist. I will not speculate about whether the Pope is indeed THE Antichrist, but I believe he is definitely one of the anitichrists.

Another article on judging

I would just like to link to this article on the topic of Judging here, especially for those people who are tempted to pass judgment on what I am doing without even proving anything. Here also is my earlier article on judging, on my website.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Regarding my review of Ed Silvoso's sermon

I have received some feedback on my review of the Ed Silvoso's sermon and would just like to briefly comment on them.

The negative feedback regarding the review focuses mainly on my calling Silvoso a heretic and insinuating that he is possibly unsaved. I would like to show here why my doing so is justified.

First of all, I would like to just say that before writing my review of Ed Silvoso's sermon, I did a background study on him first. I try to see where he is coming from, what worldview does he holds to and so on so as to find out what he means by his words and thus what he actually believes. Although I do not have the time or opportunity to read his books, his website and affiliations prove invaluable in discerning his worldview. With much popularity comes much public scrutiny and more exposure of your views to the public, and thus from his website and other apologetic sites which research on him, I manage to discern his worldview and thus interpret what he says in light of his own worldview.

Therefore, regarding certain punchline sentences and phrases made by Silvoso such as "There are some cities where people will find it very hard to go to hell. They can go there if they want to, but they will have a heaven of a time to go there", they are not to be treated as hyberbole but as actual factual beliefs that Silvoso holds to. Since such is the case, Silvoso is a semi-Pelagian heretic. Ditto for his statements on his website which show his liberation thelogy leanings. For those who do not see his semi-Pelagianism, the question is asked why is he so confident that people will find it hard not to come to Christ when there are a lot of Christians evangelising. Let us ignore his false 'Christ-less gospel of miracles' for the moment and answer such a question. Why is Silvoso so confident that people will find it hard to reject Christ when there are a lot of Christians evangelising? It can only be due to two reasons: semi-Pelagians thinking on the partial depravity of Man, or presumption of God to act when we believe so (Word of Faith), which shows a person's occultic view of faith. Silvoso further adds that such a person is still able to go to hell, which shows his synergism, as despite all that God and believers do to try to win them for Christ, people are still able to reject God and go to hell. Therefore, Silvoso is a semi-Pelagian heretic and possibly also an Occultist.

Since Silvoso has been proven to be a heretic, I further add that he is most likely unsaved. This is an extension of the fact that Jesus said that he will preserve His flock (Jn. 6:39) and also the fact that heretics were said to be cut off from salvation (Gal. 1:8; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 Jn. 2:19-20), thus if one is truly a heretic, then one is not saved. These passages talk about people who are teaching heresies, thus teachers of heresies are not saved at all. Since the Lord preserve His flock, no true Christians would ever be allowed to teach heresy at all. This has nothing to do with judging hypocritically (cf. Mt. 7:1), but of judging rightly (Jn. 7:24)

In conclusion, I trust that some of the questions people may have had have been answered here. Anyone with more questions on the topic are welcomed to contact me here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More on the NAR

Upon further research, it seems that there is a link between Rick Warren, the Global Day of Prayer (GDOP), Ed Silvoso and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). All of them are working to bring about the "second reformation", which undermines the first one and will lead to totalitarianism and oppresion. You can read more about it here. Oh well, birds of a feather ....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Billy Graham: Universalist?

The renown evangelist Billy Graham seemed to have gone off the deep end. In a recent Newsweek interview, he was heard to say things which seem to imply his acceptance of Universalism. Here is an article by Ingrid Schlueter on this subject.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Analysis of Ed Silvoso's sermon

OK, finally here is my analysis of Ed Silvoso' sermon during this year's Festival of Praise. For those who missed it, here is my report on the FOP this year. In summary, I would just ask all and every person to stay away from Ed Silvoso. He is a heretic and Scripture commands him to repent of his errors or face the wrath of God.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches ... (Rev. 3:6)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Thank You Lord!

I just want to share with all my readers how joyful I am today. Even as I work to expose the errors in the various 'Christian' movements and also perhaps to edify the Body of Christ by my articles on various doctrines, I can see that my efforts on behalf of the Lord has not been in vain. OK, I know that as a Christian, we are not supposed to seek anyone's approval, and I endeavor to do all of this for the audience of One, our Lord Jesus Christ. Though I am reviled by Man and even so in the supposedly Christian commuity, I will continue pressing on towards the goal God has called me in Christ Jesus. Even then, I am still human. It isn't easy to go against the 'Christian' establishment, you know.

Yesterday, it was good to be encouraged (in turn) by Rev. Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, after he quoted one of my comments in one of his missives, which had encouraged him. Although we are physically seperated by the Pacific Ocean, of different ethnicities and nationalities (and also on our views of infant baptism = P), what unites us is the family bond in our Lord Jesus Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). I am encouraged by his kind words in an email he sent to me, as I had initially misinterpret his words and thus he had emailed me to correct my misinterpretation.

Today, words of encouragement from my brothers-in-Christ Jason and Wenxian have also given me strength to carry on. Moreover, even as I talk to my fellow (Campus) Crusaders as we serve together, I can see that there is an openess in some of them in talking about some of these controversial issues, totally unlike the mainstream church leaders in Singapore who in their carnal pride often treat you like dirt and ignore the clear commands of our Lord Jesus Christ (do look up Jer. 50:6 and Ez. 34:1-16). I have yet to hear from Mr. Chen Huilin, the director of Campus Crusade Mass Media. Can I safely put him in the same category as the Singapore GDOP leaders?

Anyway, thanks God for giving me all of this. I do not deserve such grace, and I thank You for giving me all of this even though I do not even deserve to pick up the crumbs under Your table (Mt. 15:27). To God be the highest glory, amen.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Report on Festival of Praise 2006

I am taking a short break from the Sola Scriptura series for the moment. Over the weekend in Singapore, the Charismatic movement in Singapore in the Festival of Praise (FOP) committee have organized this year's Festival of Praise event. I went for the FOP on the 5th Aug 2006 to observe the event. Here is my report of this event. An analysis of the sermon given by Rev. Ed Silvoso will be posted later.


On Saturday the 5th Aug 2006, I decided to go to the Festival of Praise (FOP) 2006 with my brother, to see what it has become. I went for the FOP a few times in my earlier years before I came to embrace the doctrines of grace, and have not gone for the event ever since then (2003). Therefore, I have decided to go for this event as an observer, noting that most of the people going there will be youths and young adults from Charismatic churches, and even some from supposedly conservative denominations. Since this is the case, they represent the direction mainstream Christianity in Singapore is heading towards. This is especially so when I came to know of some of the churches that are supporting and taking part in the event – City Harvest Church (CHC), Riverlife Church, Church of Singapore, and even CEFC (Covenant Evangelical Free Church) is at least supporting it.

I arrived just when they were about to begin, with Canon James Wong and then Pastor Kong Hee of CHC leading the people in a time of prayer for the Middle East. After some time for the next prayer items, some of the people started to pray in tongues. As if on cue, some of the pastors on stage started to pray in tongues also. As some of them have a clip-on microphone with them, some of their prayers (in tongues) could be heard softly over the microphone. After some time, Pastor Kong Hee closed with a prayer, in which he mixes a bit of his “tongue-language” into his prayer ( … "shamballah umballah" … Hey, look, I can speak ‘tongue’! ) . Now, this is a clear violation of Scripture (1 Cor. 14: 27-33), assuming that their tongues are valid in the first place, as there is no interpretation. Also, no mass speaking or praying in tongues in public is allowed.

Next, there was worship lead by Don Moen of Integrity! Music. As a more conservative Evangelical, his music was not towards the pop rock style characteristic of more modern bands like Hillsongs or Delirious?. He played some of the classic Don Moen pieces like God is good all the time and a few others which I don’t know of. During the worship, the spotlights were used to flash around, some were dimmed and other lighting effects were done so as to manipulate the atmosphere. This is against Scripture’s injunction to worship in spirit and in truth. God did not ask us to manufacture worship but to worship Him as He commanded us to. By manipulating our emotions using lighting effects, we are first of all not worshipping God in spirit, merely hyping up our emotions, but secondly we are bringing strange fire unto the Lord, which God utterly detests (Lev. 10:1-3).

Another thing which Don Moen did was during the song God is good all the time, where he started the song by singing the first verse slowly, then he asked the audience the question “Are you ready?” to which the audience responded with a resounding yes, then he restarted the song with a fast beat. This type of question and response shows once again the orchestration of the worship experience, which is similarly antithecal to true worship of our God as we are not worshipping God in spirit but only hyping up our emotions. During another song, he started to have 'instrumental worship', in which halfway through a praise song, he stopped leading worship and then one instrument after another started to perform various harmonies to ‘praise God’. Concert is the name of the game, definitely not worship. Oh, and not to mention the repetition of choruses many times (OK, not that many. I heard one Charismatic church which did it much worse) to hype up the emotions again. All of these are antithecal to true worship and are in fact expressions of carnal rebellion against God Almighty, the Lord of hosts, the Holy One of Israel, to which everyone will one day give an account of their lives and actions before Him.

After around half an hour of worship, Don Moen left the stage for the sermon by Rev. Ed Silvoso. Now, I initially didn’t know who he is, so I was just listening to see what this man of God would preach on. Sadly to say, his ‘sermon’ was one whole bunch of biblical errors, poor exegesis, logical fallacies, and even heretical notions, which I will document in my examination of his sermon soon. Anyway, after his ‘sermon’, Don Moen came back to "lead us in a time of worship", after which Pastor Kong Hee closed the event with a prayer and a benediction, after having everyone shout out the name of the company or school whatever, their “marketplace” area, as a declaration that they will be redeemed by the Lord (we shall examine this concept in the sermon). After this, anyone is welcomed to leave, while the Christian City Church band stepped on stage to lead anyone who wants to stay for "another half an hour of worship". Basically, it was totally a pop rock music concert. If Don Moen could not get worship right, I think there are no words to describe this type of abomination which masquerades as worship. Anyway, I decided to return home then.


May God have mercy on us all for this heretical teaching conducted in the name of Christ, and may he grant the people involved repentance unto eternal life in our Lord Jesus Christ.

UPDATE: Some unregenerate people have thought that I am attacking all people going for the event. Those people should just go back and retake their reading comprehension exam.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Last post on cessationist/ continualist issue

[Carrying on from here]

No, this is not the last post on this issue, God willing, by me or anyone else, but here is the last post of Dan. J. Phillips' response to Adrain Warnock regarding the issue.

Sola Scriptura: The extent of inspiration of Scripture (part 2)

[This is a continuation of a blog series on the topic of Sola Scriptura]

In the last post, I have proved from Scripture that Scripture itself teaches the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration (VPI), which is to say that every word of Scripture in its totality is inspired of God, and thus necessary, sufficient, and authoritative for us. I would now go on to look at some of the arguments commonly used to disprove VPI, and to see whether the stand of the partial inerrantists are internally consistent.

When one surveys the arguments by the partial inerrantists, one is hard-pressed to find any biblical argument for partial inerrancy. Obviously, the Scriptures do not explicitly proclaim itself inerrant, but they implicitly do so. The main arguments used by partial inerrantists are mainly by pointing to alleged discrepencies and contradictions in the Bible, or to point that this doctrine of total inerrancy is not believed by others within church history. With respect to Scripture, none of them could validly refute the claims of Scripture regarding its inerrancy, since they hold to the inerrancy of the Scriptures as with regards to spiritual matters. As the inspiration of Scripture is a spiritual issue, none of them could claim that the verses used to prove the inspiration of Scripture are errant. The only thing they could do is to try to give examples of errors in the Bible so as to limit the extent of the application of these verses.

Now, it must first be said that proving errors in the Bible does not by itself disprove the theory of verbal plenary inspiration. By careful exegesis of these verses in context, these verses do not lend themselves to any other interpretation. Therefore, proving errors in the Bible could only undermine the inerrancy of Scripture in all things, including spiritual things, as the verses used to support the inspiration of Scripture are proven false. This is shown in the logical diagram below:

p = The verses used to support VPI are inerrant
q = VPI of the Scriptures is true

If p, then q
~ q
Therefore, ~ p (Modus tollens)

Therefore, we can see from this valid argument that the only conclusion that could be gotten from the proving of errors in the Bible is to disgard the theory of inerancy in all things to begin with. Therefore, these partial inerrantists are inconsistent in their view of Scripture. Unless they can prove that the verses used can not support VPI, they should either abandon their unbiblical theory or just follow the path of the liberals before them and throw out the Scriptures. Charges of circular reasoning in this case would not be applicable as the partial inerrantists do state that they believe in the inerrancy of Scripture in spiritual things.

With regards to this doctrine being a new doctrine and not held by the saints in former times, this is certaintly not the case. Granted, the term 'verbal plenary inspiration' may not be used, but the concept is still believed[1]. Even if few people in the early church believe in it, the fact of the matter is that Scripture is the ultimate authority, not what other Christians believe.

We now come down to the major reason people embrace the partial inerrantist position — alleged discrepancies in Scripture and the contradiction the Bible has with certain theories of naturalistic science like evolution. We will deal with the alleged discrepancies in Scripture in the next section under the inerrancy of Scripture and only discuss the contradictions the Bible has with certain theories of science or history. Now, if Scripture is the ultimate authority as in a Christian's life, then Christians should uphold the Bible by faith and reject these naturalistic theories, having faith that these naturalistic theories are actually false. In fact, if one knows how science actually works, one will also know that science has no way of proving Scripture false, since in order for science to know and prove anything, a correct formula is not enough - one must also make a few assumptions regarding the object under investigation and whether there was any interference with the system. For example, science can never prove anything about the age of the earth. Using radiometric dating and rock samples, the scientist must assume uniformitarianism (that the decay rate of the radioactive elements are always constant), and more importantly, the scientist must make certain assumptions about the initial radioisotope ratio and/or amount in the rock. Both of these assumptions cannot be proven or tested, so therefore science cannot know or prove the exact age of that rock. This is the case with all scientific disciplines, so for believers the results from this type of "historical science" inquiry should be ignored. Far better by far to believe in the words of our God who created history than to believe the fallible interpretations of men who are fallible and themselves subjected to the depravity of our human nature.

For history as well as for science, the problem of replying on them is that all of us are daily faced with our own sinful desires, including those people doing the research. The idea that any discipline can ever be neutral (i.e. the myth of the objective scientist following where the evidence leads him) is a lie. As someone who is studying in the life sciences, I can personally say that there are no objective scientists. If we find data which is not consistent with our hypothesis, we would either discard the data by writing it off as contaminated data, or we come out with a hypothesis or other reasons to explain this anamoly. This is so especially when we are doing experiments where the end results are more or less known. And I think most people would be astonished by how many reasons we can use to explain why an experiment was unsuccessful (i.e. contamination due to unwashed test tubes). Of course, this is not to say that scientists are out to deceive people, but the fact of the matter is that scientists are not quite the objective enquirers of truth that they are made out to be. This is the same for historians too, who use fallible scientific methods sometimes to date artefacts, and who will sometimes make mistakes also.

Since this is so, people who embrace partial inerrancy due to such factors as the Bible being contradictory to naturalistic science are actually very much in error. Whether Scripture is totally inerrant or not must be established through Scripture itself, not by appeal to fallible human disciplines.

One objection which has been raised to the theory of verbal plenary inspiration is that the New Testament writers did not seem to treat the Old Testament as being verbally inspired, since they did not exactly quote the OT writings word for word, not even the Septuagint[2]. However, this is an invalid argument. It could very well be the case that as the NT writers quoted OT scripture, their quotes were themselves inspired to be different from the Septuagint and other Greek translations of the OT, and thus we have two different inspired wordings for certain OT texts. Another possibility is the fact that the Septuagint was never verbally inspired in the first place. Just as translations of the Bible into other languages seek to reflect the original meaning of Scripture but will never quite do justice to it, the Septuagint could be similar to our English translations of the Bible like the KJV and not primarily verbally inspired, only secondarily inspired. Since that is the case, the NT writers when quoting the OT scripture in their books would have create a 'primary verbally inspired OT scripture' in the Greek. Whatever the reason, this could not disprove the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration, since there are ways of explaining how this could be so.

We would now go to the Achilles' heel of the theory of partial inerrancy — epistemology. Why do the partial inerrantists' claim that the spiritual content of Scripture is inerrant, whereas the 'natural' contents found in Scripture are errant? Upon what basis is such a division created? If the 'natural' contents of Scripture are errant, upon what basis could a person defend the inerrant nature of Scripture? Isn't such a division just arbitrary? As I have stated above, if Scripture is errant in its 'natural' facts, then the entire Scripture is suspect to be errant too. Therefore, the partial inerrantists' position is undefendable. Either they return to the biblical view of verbal plenary inspiration, or they should consistently follow the path of the liberals, and throw out the entire Scriptures as being errant.

In conclusion, we have shown that the doctrine of the verbal plenary inspiration (VPI) of Scripture is sound, and that the partial inerrantists' position is untenable. Those who do insist that there are errors in the Bible should reject the inerrancy of Scripture as a whole, and it is to those people that we would now turn to.

[to be continued]


References:

[1] Norman L. Geisler (1980), ed. , Inerrancy, pp. 357-410, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

[2] Another look at Plenary Verbal Inspiration (http://www.accuros.com/thornbush/pollen/plenary_verbal_inspiration.htm)