Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hebrews 10:14 does not prove Calvinism

This article is long overdue.

Calvinism, and a number of other Protestant sects (which descend from Calvinism including "evangelicalism," Baptists, etc) teach that when a person is saved God magically pretends not to see all their sins and filth, pretending they are morally perfect--just like His Son! One of the verses they love to appeal to, the Calvinists especially, is Hebrews 10:14 which is the King James Version says:
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.-Hebrews 10:14 
The Greek text of Hebrews:
μιᾷ γὰρ προσφορᾷ τετελείωκεν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους.--Hebrews 10:14
At first glance, it seems to say exactly what the Calvinists say it means, that we are permanently made perfect at the moment of regeneration. But, is Hebrews 10:14 saying that? No!

Hebrews uses the word "perfect" in a special way.  As I show, the word for perfect is τετελείωκεν.
Let's go through all the times Hebrews uses the root word τελειόω ("perfect"), how Hebrews uses it may shock, considering who one of the people that are "made perfect" in Hebrews.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.--Hebrews 2:10
Ἔπρεπεν γὰρ αὐτῷ, δι' ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα, πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι.--Hebrews 2:10
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;--Hebrews 5:9 
καὶ τελειωθεὶς ἐγένετο πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ αἴτιος σωτηρίας αἰωνίου,--Hebrews 5:9
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.--Hebrews 7:19
οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος, ἐπεισαγωγὴ δὲ κρείττονος ἐλπίδος, δι' ἧς ἐγγίζομεν τῷ θεῷ.--Hebrews 7:19
For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.--Hebrews 7:28

ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν ἀρχιερεῖς ἔχοντας ἀσθένειαν, ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον υἱόν, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον.--Hebrews 7:28 
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;--Hebrews 9:9
ἥτις παραβολὴ εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα, καθ' ἣν δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι προσφέρονται μὴ δυνάμεναι κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι τὸν λατρεύοντα,--Hebrews 9:9
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.--Hebrews 10:1
Σκιὰν γὰρ ἔχων ὁ νόμος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων, κατ' ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις ἃς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς οὐδέποτε δύναται τοὺς προσερχομένους τελειῶσαι· --Hebrews 10:1
 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.--Hebrews 10:14
 μιᾷ γὰρ προσφορᾷ τετελείωκεν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους.--Hebrews 10:14
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.--Hebrews 11:40
τοῦ θεοῦ περὶ ἡμῶν κρεῖττόν τι προβλεψαμένου, ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν.--Hebrews 11:40 
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect--Hebrews 12:23
καὶ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς, καὶ κριτῇ θεῷ πάντων, καὶ πνεύμασι δικαίων τετελειωμένων,--Hebrews 12:23
 As we see according to Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 5:9 Christ was "made perfect" similar to how Hebrews 10:14 has people "made perfect" because of Christ. If we assume as the Calvinist do, that "made perfect" means that we who were once sinners BECAME perfect through an alien imputation, then Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:9 (and Hebrews 7:28) would mean Christ was not always morally perfect, but only became morally perfect! We know this is not the case, because the Holy Scriptures are clear that Christ was always sinless and morally perfect!

When Hebrews says made perfect in these verse, it means "made consecrated" or "ordained." In fact, Hebrews 7:28 as I showed above uses the same Greek root for "perfect" but the KJV translates it in this instance as "consecrated" instead of "perfect." In fact many Protestant lexicons such as Strong's says:
G5048 From G5046; to complete, that is, (literally) accomplish, or (figuratively) consummate (in character): - consecrate, finish, fulfil, (make) perfect. 
I should also mention that many commentaries note that the word "perfect" may have a technical meaning that's related to the Septuagint. τελειόω in this view may be an ellipse for the "filling of hands" used in the Torah for the ordination of priests, since most of the time its followed with the works "the hands [of]"--"τελειώσεις τὰς χεῖρας". The translation I am using says "validate" instead of "perfect", however, another translation I have does use the word perfect for the Greek word τελειώσεις . τελειώσεις is seen in the LXX the following times (generally in relation to the priesthood):
καὶ ζώσεις αὐτοὺς ταῖς ζώναις καὶ περιθήσεις αὐτοῖς τὰς κιδάρεις καὶ ἔσται αὐτοῖς ἱερατεία ἐμοὶ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ τελειώσεις τὰς χεῖρας Ααρων καὶ τὰς χεῖρας τῶν υἱῶν αὐτοῦ--Exodus 29:9 Septuagint (LXX)
"and gird them with the sashes and put on them the turbans, and they shall have a priesthood to me forever. And you shall validate the hands of Aaron and the hands of his sons"--Exodus 29:9 (NETS, LXX translation)
καὶ ἡ στολὴ τοῦ ἁγίου ἥ ἐστιν Ααρων ἔσται τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτοῦ μετ’ αὐτόν χρισθῆναι αὐτοὺς ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ τελειῶσαι τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν--Exodus 29:29 (LXX)
and the vestment of the holy place that is for Aaron shall be for his sons after him, for them to be anointed in them and to validate their hands.--Exodus 29:29 (NETS, LXX translation)
ἔδονται αὐτά ἐν οἷς ἡγιάσθησαν ἐν αὐτοῖς τελειῶσαι τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν ἁγιάσαι αὐτούς καὶ ἀλλογενὴς οὐκ ἔδεται ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἔστιν γὰρ ἅγια--Exodus 29:33 (LXX)
they shall eat these things that they have been consecrated by, to validate their hands, to consecrate them, and an alien shall not eat from these things, for they are holy--Exodus 29:33 (NETS, LXX translation)
καὶ ποιήσεις Ααρων καὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτοῦ οὕτως κατὰ πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην σοι ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας τελειώσεις αὐτῶν τὰς χεῖρας--Exodus 29:35 (LXX)
And you shall do to Aaron and his sons thus according to all things I commanded you, For seven days you shall validate their hands--Exodus 29:35 (NETS, LXX translation)
καὶ λαβὼν ὁ ἱερεὺς ὁ χριστὸς ὁ τετελειωμένος τὰς χεῖρας ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ μόσχου καὶ εἰσοίσει αὐτὸ ἐπὶ τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ μαρτυρίου--Leviticus 4:5 (LXX)
and the priest, who has his hands validated, after taking some of the blood of the bull calf, shall then bring it into the tent of witness--Leviticus 4:5 (NETS, LXX translation)
καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς θύρας τῆς σκηνῆς τοῦ μαρτυρίου οὐκ ἐξελεύσεσθε ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας ἕως ἡμέρα πληρωθῇ ἡμέρα τελειώσεως ὑμῶν ἑπτὰ γὰρ ἡμέρας τελειώσει τὰς χεῖρας ὑμῶν--Leviticus 8:33
And you shall not go outside the door of the tent of witness seven days until the day of your validation is completed.  For for seven days he will validate your hands.--Leviticus 8:33 (NETS, LXX translation) 
ἐξιλάσεται ὁ ἱερεύς ὃν ἂν χρίσωσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ὃν ἂν τελειώσουσιν τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ ἱερατεύειν μετὰ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐνδύσεται τὴν στολὴν τὴν λινῆν στολὴν ἁγίαν--Leviticus 16:32 (LXX)
the priest, he whom they shall anoint, and he whose hands they shall validate to serve as priests in his father's place shall make atonement, and they shall put on the linen garment, the holy vestment.--Leviticus 16:32 (NETS, LXX translation) 
καὶ ὁ ἱερεὺς ὁ μέγας ἀπὸ τῶν ἀδελφῶν αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἐπικεχυμένου ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ ἐλαίου τοῦ χριστοῦ καὶ τετελειωμένου ἐνδύσασθαι τὰ ἱμάτια τὴν κεφαλὴν οὐκ ἀποκιδαρώσει καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια οὐ διαρρήξει--Leviticus 21:10 (LXX) *other version of the LXX add the "the hands" that is "τὰς χεῖρας"
And the priest who is great among his brothers, when the anointing oil has been poured on his head and when he has been validated * to wear the vestments, shall not unbind his head and shall not tear his vestments-Leviticus 21:10 (NETS, LXX translation)  *other version of the LXX add the "the hands" that is "τὰς χεῖρας"
ταῦτα τὰ ὀνόματα τῶν υἱῶν Ααρων οἱ ἱερεῖς οἱ ἠλειμμένοι οὓς ἐτελείωσαν τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν ἱερατεύειν--Numbers 3:3 LXX
These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priest, whose hands they had validated to serve as priests.--Numbers 3:3 (NETS, LXX translation) 
 Anyway, these are times it appears in the Torah. It appears around a half more dozen times elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures.

So, it may be Hebrews is using this meaning, though it lacks the "the hands" part, but this may be because literal hands had nothing to do with Jesus "ordination." Or perhaps it is an ellipse for the whole phrase.

Regardless, the case is when Hebrews 10:14 says "made perfect forever" it does not refer to "imputed righteousness" or anything else of the sort at all, but refers to consecration, a non moral "perfection," perhaps the ordination to the priesthood (of believers) that is the "royal priesthood" mentioned in Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:8-9.

Finally, I should also note that when reading Hebrews 10:14, Calvinists are awful fond of reading the KJV at this point, and ignoring many translations that read the latter half of the sentence different. The KJV and Calvinists read it as  having all the "sanctification" as if it occurred once and in the past, as we see:
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.-Hebrews 10:14 KJV
However, some other translations state:
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.(NIV)
For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.(NLT)
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.(ESV)
Here is what the NIGTC says on Hebrews 10:14 on the matter that concerns us:
Here, as elsewhere in Hebrews (->2:10), τελειοω implies the fulfillment of the Christian goal, namely an access to God which was formerly open only to the high priest. Hebrews emphasizes the unique priesthood of Jesus. (Vanhoye 1980.242-247), and thus does not speak explicitly of the priesthood of all believers; but he comes close to doing so here, in language which is not only cultic (Bourgin 1959.79-81) but priestly (Zimmermann 1977.116-125, following G. Delling in TDNT 8.83f.) The perfect tense joins with the following phrase to emphasize the permanent effects of Christ’s sacrifice.
Εις το διηωεχες: Christ now has continuous and uninterrupted access (v. 12) to the Father, and shares authority at his right hand.  Because of his one sacrifice, Christians, though still on earth, share in the same permanent access to the Father.
Εις αγιαζομενους: ->2:11. The force of the present participle, in apparent contrast with the perfect ηγιασμενοι in v.10, is disputed (MHT 1.127): is it timeless (so Riggenbach, Bruce), iterative (“those who from time to time receive sanctification”: unlikely in this context), or durative (“those who are in the process of sanctification”; so Michel)? The most likely explanations, not mutually exclusive, are (1) that the author felt that yet another perfect here would be redundant; and (2) that the present was used to balance the previous words and avoid the possible implications that Christians had already reached their goal. “Sanctification has taken place, but it still remains a task” (Braun); “the appropriation of the enduring effects of Christ’s act is an ongoing present reality” (Attridge). ‘Αγιαζω and τελειοω (->2:11).are used interchangeably in Hebrews Ƥ46 reads ανασωζομενουσ**, “who are being saved” (26x LXX). Here by transcriptal error (Attridge. Against Hoskier 27-30).--The New International Greek New Testament Commentary: The Epistle to the Hebrews, on Hebrews 10:14, p 511, by Paul Ellingworth

Interesting this book was given a positive review by Reformed Theological Review.  According to this commentary Hebrew 10:14 is saying were are always given access to God by Christ's offering and though sanctification was set up by Christ, we still have to go through the process.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Did St Augustine become a Calvinist in his last years

Once again the same anti-Catholics mentioned in my previous article about baptism in Judaism, accuse me of lying, this time about St Augustine--insisting he adopted in his final years the Calvinistic view that salvation cannot be lost.

Here is St Augustine in AD 428/429 (1-2 years before his death in AD 430) said
But, lest perchance it be said that perseverance even to the end is not indeed lost when it has once been given—that is, when a man has persevered unto the end—but that it is lost, in some sense, when a man by contumacy so acts that he is not able to attain to it; just as we say that a man who has not persevered unto the end has lost eternal life or the kingdom of God, not because he had already received and actually had it, but because he would have received and had it if he had persevered; — let us lay aside controversies of words, and say that some things even which are not possessed, but are hoped to be possessed, may be lost.--St Augustine, On the Predestination of the Saints, Book II: On the Gift of Perseverance, Chapter 11
Let the inquirer still go on, and say, "Why is it that to some who have in good faith worshipped Him He has not given to persevere to the end?" Why except because he does not speak falsely who says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, doubtless they would have continued with us." [1 John 2:19] Are there, then, two natures of men? By no means. If there were two natures there would not be any grace, for there would be given a gratuitous deliverance to none if it were paid as a debt to nature. But it seems to men that all who appear good believers ought to receive perseverance to the end. But God has judged it to be better to mingle some who would not persevere with a certain number of His saints, so that those for whom security from temptation in this life is not desirable may not be secure. For that which the apostle says, checks many from mischievous elation: "Wherefore let him who seems to stand take heed lest he fall." [1 Corinthians 10:12] But he who falls, falls by his own will, and he who stands, stands by God's will. "For God is able to make him stand;" [Romans 14:4] therefore he is not able to make himself stand, but God. Nevertheless, it is good not to be high-minded, but to fear. Moreover, it is in his own thought that every one either falls or stands. Now, as the apostle says, and as I have mentioned in my former treatise, "We are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." [2 Corinthians 3:5] Following whom also the blessed Ambrose ventures to say, "For our heart is not in our own power, nor are our thoughts." And this everybody who is humbly and truly pious feels to be most true.--St Augustine, On the Predestination of the Saints, Book II: On the Gift of Perseverance, Chapter 12
What else is interesting about this treatise is St Augustine uses many of the popular Calvinist proof text without coming to the Calvinist conclusions, and uses 1 John 2:19 and interprets it to refer to the elect and non elect, whereas Calvinists generally read it as false converts and true Christians. 

The following is St Augustine in AD 427, 3 years before his death:
It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children— whom He has regenerated in Christ— to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children. Who would not wonder at this? Who would not be exceedingly astonished at this?--St Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 19
This is perhaps the most explicit denial of Calvinism in the later writings of St Augustine, saying some are "REGENERATED" and "His own children" yet NOT GIVEN PERSERVERANCE.

Here is St Augustine in AD 427 (3 years before his death in 430) writing to Boniface, a man whom St Augustine fears may have or may lose salvation by sins:

What shall I say regarding these evils— so patent to all, and so great in magnitude as well as number— of which you have been, directly or indirectly, the cause since the time of your being married? You are a Christian, you have a conscience, you fear God; consider, then, for yourself some things which I prefer to leave unsaid, and you will find for how great evils you ought to do penance; and I believe that it is to afford you an opportunity of doing this in the way in which it ought to be done, that the Lord is now sparing you and delivering you from all dangers.--St Augustine, (AD 427) Letter 220 Paragraph 5
This paragraph 5 where St Augustine states to Boniface, he is a Christian, so any Calvinist ideas of tares, cannot be read in.

Nevertheless, I would not wish you to belong to the number of those wicked and unjust men whom God uses as instruments in inflicting temporal punishments on whom He pleases; for He who justly employs their malice to inflict temporal judgments on others, reserves eternal punishments for the unjust themselves if they be not reformed. Be it yours to fix your thoughts on God, and to look to Christ, who has conferred on you so great blessings and endured for you so great sufferings.--Letter 220 Paragraph 8
St Augustine here expresses his hope Boniface does not became one of the unjust that are hellbound.

But if you consult me regarding your relation to God and the salvation of your soul, and if you fear the word of truth which says: "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" [Matthew 16:26] I have a plain answer to give. I am prepared with advice to which you may well give heed. But what need is there for my saying anything else than what I have already said. "Love not the world, neither the things, that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever." [1 John 2:15-17] Here is counsel! Seize it and act on it. Show that you are a brave man. Vanquish the desires with which the world is loved. Do penance for the evils of your past life, when, vanquished by your passions, you were drawn away by sinful desires. If you receive this counsel, and hold it fast, and act on it, you will both attain to those blessings which are certain, and occupy yourself in the midst of these uncertain things without forfeiting the salvation of your soul.--Letter 220 Paragraph 9

St Augustine plainly warned him not to forfeit salvation by loving the things of the world!

Finally, lets see St Augustine's view of works and salvation--had a modern Catholic stated this a Calvinist or Baptist would scream "works based!":

For who is so ignorant, who so foolish, as not to see that the health of this mortal body, and the strength of its corruptible members, and victory over men who are our enemies, and temporal honours and power, and all other mere earthly advantages are given both to the good and to the bad, and are taken away both from the good and from the bad alike? But the salvation of the soul, along with immortality of the body, and the power of righteousness, and victory over hostile passions, and glory, and honour, and everlasting peace, are not given except to the good. Therefore love these things, covet these things, and seek them by every means in your power. With a view to acquire and retain these things, give alms, pour forth prayers, practise fasting as far as you can without injury to your body. But do not love these earthly goods, how much soever they may abound to you. So use them as to do many good things by them, but not one evil thing for their sake. For all such things will perish; but good works, yea, even those good works which are performed by means of the perishable good things of this world, shall never perish.--Letter 220 Paragraph 11
Here St Augustine states "retain these things," referring to the previous sentence, which included salvation.  Calvinism has no place for telling someone to "retain" salvation.  Also, notice St Augustine claims these things are given ONLY to the "good."

Certainly, there is much more that can be said about St Augustine and his view of salvation. This should suffice to show St Augustine did not magically convert a Calvinistic view of perserverance of the saints in his later life.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Infant Baptism in the Talmud

Today, I was in a room where Anticatholics, who are Reformed, in this case reformed Baptist, insisted infant baptism is completely without basis in ancient Israel, one of them even said Jewish Encyclopedia does not mention it, and he also alluded to the Talmud implying that it too does not teach infant baptism. I objected and said if a baby were part of the family of a "ger" a convert to Judaism--the child would be baptized. I showed them this website which states the procedures for a baby converting:
The conversion of a female infant or child according to Conservative and Orthodox practices only requires tevilah (immersion in a ritual bath called a mikveh). A male child also requires immersion in the mikveh. While parents might have trepidation about immersing a newborn completely in water, the supervising rabbi will facilitate the procedure with great care ensuring that the infant is safe during this momentary immersion.....A beit din, usually consisting of three rabbis, is convened for the immersion. Parents can enter the mikveh. If the children are old enough, they recite the needed prayers; if not, a rabbi does so for them. After the tevilah ceremony is completed, and a name chosen if one has not already been selected, the child is declared by the beit din to be Jewish.
Furthermore, I have found in the Talmud, which they requested I use, it states:

R. Jose stated, It happened at 'En Bol that the infant was made to undergo ritual immersion  before her mother; and Rabbi stated, It once happened at Beth She'arim that the infant was made to undergo ritual immersion  before her mother; and R. Joseph stated, It once happened at Pumbeditha that the infant was made to undergo ritual immersion  before her mother;  One can well understand the incidents spoken of by R. Joseph and Rabbi  since [immersion was necessary as a protection for] the terumah  of Palestine; but why was that necessary in the case spoken of by R. Joseph,  seeing that Samuel had laid down: The terumah of a country outside the Land of Israel is not forbidden unless [it came in contact] with a person whose uncleanness emanated from his body,  and this applies only to eating but not to contact?-- Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah 32a
 As we see, this issue was not even one that Rabbis debated over, it was already accepted as a fact that babies were baptized, and why wouldn't they be, they can become ritually "unclean" like adults! 
What, however, of the following statement of Raba. 'If a pregnant gentile woman was converted, there is no need for her son to perform ritual immersion'.  Why is there no need for him to perform immersion?-- Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah57a
Note the discussion here is why SHOULDN'T a baby still in a mothers womb be subject to baptism after birth, the reason is because his mother while still pregnant converted(and assumedly was baptized) therefore making the child have no need for baptism in the Jewish mindset.

Also, Tractate Kethuboth11a discusses the conversion of minors, including ones less than "three years and one day old" and states "A minor proselyte is immersed by the direction of the court."

There are other sources too, but this should suffice for now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

God blesses Abraham due to works

In Genesis 12 we see no works mentioned at all as to the reason why Abraham was blessed, let's look at what God says:
No mention of works--God just blessing Abraham
Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'--Genesis 12:1-3 
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said: 'Unto thy seed will I give this land'; and he builded there an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.--Genesis 12:7
And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him: 'Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.  And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.  Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for unto thee will I give it.'--Genesis 13:14-17
And He brought him forth abroad, and said: 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if thou be able to count them'; and He said unto him: 'So shall thy seed be.' And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.--Genesis 15:5-6
In that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates;--Genesis 15:18
In these prior verses Abraham did not do much besides move where God said to and believe. However, after Genesis 22 when Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac because of God's request, God now cites His previous promises as being done BECAUSE of Abraham's works and obedience, even using the same language about the stars and sand.
By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;  and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice.'--Genesis 22:16-18
And the LORD appeared unto him, and said: 'Go not down unto Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father;  and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these lands; and by thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves; because that Abraham hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.'--Genesis 26:2-5
 Genesis 26 explicitly refers to Abraham's blessing because of his commandment/statute/law keeping.

Abraham also tells others about the Covenant with God in Genesis 24, not mentioning his obedience:
The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house, and from the land of my nativity, and who spoke unto me, and who swore unto me, saying: Unto thy seed will I give this land; He will send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife for my son from thence.--Genesis 24:7
 Why doesn't Abraham mention his works this time after Genesis 22? Because of humility, and it was all possible BECAUSE of what God did.

We see in Abraham a man that believed God and was accredited with righteousness, but the very thing he believed was partly accomplished because of Abraham's obedience to God. God made these promises because God knew in advance that Abraham WOULD be obedient and keep His Commandments once he believed!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Does Genesis 1 teach there are gods?

A while ago two missionaries from "World Mission Society Church of God" came to my door. They are a religious organization that believes in the Protestant bible canon, but goes further and insists that two Koreans are "Gods." One man and another a woman (ie "God the Mother"). Their missionaries showed me a view and asked me to comment on it. Their video is on youtube. The video has a "commentary" on Genesis 1 which insists the Hebrew word Elohim as it is used in Genesis 1:1 means "Gods." While it is trux suffix -im is plural, and the word elohim is at times plural in the Hebrew bible, referring to multiple deities, judges, angels etc, this is not one of them because of the grammar. 

Genesis 1:1-3 says:
    בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם. וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי-אוֹר
 My transliteration (I don't follow the normal convention, but aim more at accuracy an pronunciation, the word "Eloheem" it typically spelled "Elohim") :

B'résheet bara Eloheem ét hashshamayeem v'ét ha'aretz hay'tah tohu va'vo'hu v'ḥosheḥ al-p'néy t'hom v'ruaEloheem m'raḥefet al-p'néy hammayeem. Vayyomer Eloheem y'hee or vay'hee or.
One of the translations of it is:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.

The words in read are the words that have the plural ending in Genesis 1, they are "God-Eloheem," "hashshamayeem-heaven", "hammayeem-water." Most people don't know the words water and heaven in Hebrew have plural endings, in fact does the word face.  Anyway, let's focus on the phrase וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי-אוֹר which means "(and) God said "there shall be light", and there was light." The word for said here is singular וַיֹּאמֶר its used for when there is one person speaking, not more than one, it shows the plural ending ים of the word אֱלֹהִים Eloheem does not refer to the third person plural (that is "they"), but rather the third person singular (that is "he). Let's compare a verse where multiple people say something with this (the word for speak is highlighted):

Genesis 11:4 says:

וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָבָה נִבְנֶה-לָּנוּ עִיר, וּמִגְדָּל וְרֹאשׁוֹ בַשָּׁמַיִם, וְנַעֲשֶׂה-לָּנוּ, שֵׁם

And they said: 'Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name;

Genesis 1:3 said:
וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי-אוֹר
And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.

The word in in Genesis 11:4 וַיֹּאמְרוּ vayyom'ru is the third person PLURAL, which means 2 or more are speaking, however, Genesis 1:3 uses וַיֹּאמֶר vayyomer, which means just one person is speaking! If "Gods" were intended in Genesis 1:3 it would've read:

...וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר

In this case it would be translated:

"And gods said: "Let there be light!"..."

 (Note, I leave the rest of the verse out, so as not to tarnish the sacred text with corruption.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Calvinism: Keeping the commandments is not impossible

First of all, many Calvinists (such as Matt Slick) insist its IMPOSSIBLE to keep the commandments (whether old or new). This is contradicted by the fact Revelation says:
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.-Revelation 12:17
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.--Revelation 14:12
 Likewise, he told me that the first and greatest commandment which says that we must love God "with all your heart..." is impossible to keep, however, the Scriptures say otherwise.
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not whole with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. -1 Kings 11:4
And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; and his heart was not whole with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father. For because of David, the Lord his God gave him rule in Jerusalem to set up his son after him to preserve Jerusalem. Since David did what was just in the eyes of the Lord and he did not turn away from all that the Lord had commanded him, all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. -1 Kings 15:3-5
But the high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was whole with the LORD all his days.-1 Kings 15:14
For he clave to the LORD, [and] departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses--2 Kings 18:6
And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.--2 Kings 23:25
And I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart.--Jeremiah 24:7
And ye shall call upon Me, and go, and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.--Jeremiah 29:12-13 (notice this verse also says people can seek God)
And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments, and His testimonies, and His statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.And he caused all that were found in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. -2 Chronicles 34:31-32 (A Calvinist might say they simple agreed to this covenant but did not do it, however it clearly says they "did according to the covenant...")
St John also in his epistles states:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.-1 John 5:2-3
Notice St John doesn't even think for a moment that it is impossible to love God, or to keep the commandments, but uses this as evidence, then states the commandments are not grievous.

St Luke states about Elizabeth and Zechariah (the parents of the Prophet St John the Baptist):
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.-Luke 1:6
Although Abraham did commit some sins in his life the LORD still said about him:
Abraham hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.-Genesis 26:5
Abraham DID keep the commandments and the law, despite Calvinists insistence that such is not possible. If you read the previous verses you will see why God blessed Abraham's seed.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mary in the Canticles of Solomon (Songs of Songs)

A Protestants questioned when did Catholics start saying Mary was the woman in the Songs of Solomon, specifically chapter 6.  Though, I have no idea about chapter 6, what I can say is that around 446 Songs 2:2 was applied to Mary.

"A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns. [Songs of Songs 2:2]"—Theodotus of Ancrya,Homily VI:11(ante A.D. 446),in THEO,339
 This is taken from
Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.--Song of Songs 2:2 (aka Songs of Solomon aka Canticles)
 Another reference is by St John Damascene (generally considered the "last" early Church Father):
"Then, having spoken these words, she would have raised her hands, I imagine, and would have blessed those there; and she would have heard, "Come, my blessed Mother, 'into the place of my rest' [Ps 132:8 (LXX); cf Ps 95:11 [LXX]]. 'Arise, come, my dear one; beautiful among all women; 'for behold, winter has passed, and the time of pruning has come' [Songs of Songs 2:10-12]. 'My dear one is beautiful, and there is no blemish in you' [Songs of Songs 4:7]. 'The odor of your ointments surpasses all fragrance' [Songs of Songs 1:3 cf. 4:10]. And having heard these words, the holy woman would have committed her soul to the hands of her Son."--St John of Damascus, Homily II on the Dorimition, paragraph 9 (pg 290)
He is quoting:

My beloved spoke, and said unto me: 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.  For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone--Song of Songs 2:10-11
Thou art all fair, my love; and there is no spot in thee.--Song of Songs 4:7
How fair is thy love, my sister, my bride! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all manner of spices!--Song of Songs 4:10
 The 7th Century Patriarch of Jerusalem Modestus of Jerusalem applied Songs to Mary too:
"She who remained a Virgin, the "sealed fountain" [Songs of Songs 4:12] of divine gifts, has been led out to meet him through her, the garden of the orthodox Church is watered, and is tended by the second Adam, born of her, who drank from the virginal fountain of her breasts as from a flowing spring, and who gave life to Adam, God's first creation, as he lay in death."--Modestus of Jerusalem, Patriarch of Jerusalem (c. 630-634), "An Encomium on the Dormition of Out Most Holy Lady, Mary, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin" paragraph 6

 Another reference is Songs of Songs 4:12
A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

I have also read that St Ephraim the Syrian refers to her as such in his Carmina Nisibena.

Another point that should be mentioned is that the idea that they mocked the idea Songs could be about Mary, since one of the insist it was about Solomon's wife.  Well whether it was about Solomon's wife is irrelevant, since it perhaps was originally. Though it should be mentioned Solomon did not have a wife, but rather countless wives. The idea that its just about Solomon and his wife is absurd, what benefit is it really to anyone if its just chapter of Solomon and his wife? The most common interpretation among the Fathers was that it was about Jesus and the Church, the other interpretations were the Holy Spirit and Mary. The Rabbis interpreted it as Israel and God.

To be continued