4/12/17

AN UNBEATABLE SPIRIT (World War Two: 1 September 1939 – 2 September 1945) Donald R. Fox

http://essaysbyfox.org/html/essays/


AN UNBEATABLE SPIRIT
(World War Two: 1 September 1939 (1939-09-01) – 2 September 1945)
Donald R. Fox (1945-09-02)

On December 7th, 1941, the United States of America was thrust into the raging war that literally encompassed the world. Although my generation was youngsters, we all understood the great threat to our way of life. Europe was ablaze by war since 1939. China was engaged in war with Japan since 1937. Further, Japan fought an undeclared war with Russia in 1939. Many Americans believed because of the two great oceans separating us, we would be safe from the war. The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor awakened us with fear and anger. We knew we must be strong and with an unbeatable spirit and believe in God Almighty, we would prevail. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor)

This whole nation of one hundred and thirty million free men, women and children is becoming one great fighting force. Some of us are soldiers or sailors, some of us are civilians. Some of us are fighting the war in airplanes five miles above the continent of Europe or the islands of the Pacific -- and some of us are fighting it in mines deep down in the earth of Pennsylvania or Montana. A few of us are decorated with medals for heroic achievement, but all of us can have that deep and permanent inner satisfaction that comes from doing the best we know how -- each of us playing an honorable part in the great struggle to save our democratic civilization.” (Reference: http://www.mhric.org/fdr/chat23.html “Fire Side Chat 12 Oct 1942”)

THE WAR BETWEEN SECULARIZATION AND CHRISTIANITY

Just like the surprise attack on the USA, many of us have been caught off guard by the hidden influence of the religion of secularism. The drive for a secularized society has the tenets of a religion. Religion can be defined in part as a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” (Reference: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion) When compared with those who believe in Jesus Christ and the Word of God as authority to those who are followers of Secularism, Christianity wins hands down. Our Christian heritage and biblical ethical principles in the USA are well documented, and our founder’s writings are abundant concerning these truths. “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 KJV)


Let us define the secular spirit or tendency, A system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.” Further, Secularization refers to the declining influence of religion and religious values within a given culture. Secular humanism means, loosely, a belief in human self-sufficiency.” (Reference: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/secular)

WITH AN UNBEATABLE SPIRIT AND BELIEF IN GOD ALMIGHTY, WE WILL PREVAIL.
(The secularization of the United States of America will not triumph.)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4 KJV)
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36 KJV)
End Note: This essay was designed to be positive by way of our WW2 zeal and firm intention to impart peace and stabilization to the war-ravaged world. To be honest with you in this present time since the invasion of orthodox Islam, liberalism, and a drastic change in our Judaic/Christian ethical standards and poor governmental leadership with the religion of party inflation, etc. things are looking bleak. However, I still have faith in the old-fashioned American way, and our worldwide allies and friends of peace coupled with fairness and stabilized international commerce. Only time will tell if we as a nation will cave-in to these current trends. It is my prayer; we will stand firm, recapture and maintain our heritage, In God We Trust.

NOTE: For additional study on similar subjects seeRELIGION OF POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION,” “SECULARIZING THE UNITED STATES,” “STATESMAN VS. POLITICIAN,” “TRANSFORMATION,” and “UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES.”

Biblical Canonicity by Louis Rushmore

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/oct/page2.shtml

Biblical Canonicity


 Have you ever pondered: "Which books belong in the Bible?" Probably not. The question of biblical canonicity, though perhaps never considered by most people, is of paramount importance if men are to appropriately serve God. God’s Word must be sure in order for men to confidently prepare themselves for eternity. God’s Word must also be free of corruption, subtraction or addition that might otherwise adversely affect that preparation.   Fortunately, mortal man has no need to become alarmed pondering which books belong in the Bible. Our God is powerful enough to preserve his Word. Ample evidence overwhelmingly confirms that the Bible with which we are familiar is the complete and uncorrupted Word of God.  
Insofar as translations have been accurately translated from the original languages, those translations are the inspired Word of God. No doctrine has been corrupted in reliable translations. Some translations, however, have not been accurately translated, but there is no doubt concerning the validity of the Bible text in the languages in which it was originally written.  
The word "canon" appears in the Greek New Testament about five times (2 Corinthians 10:13, 15-16; Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16) and its meaning has been applied to the inspired body of Scripture--the Bible. Frequently, the word "canon" is translated as "rule" and refers to God’s rules by which men are supposed to live righteously before God, and certainly the rules by which men will ultimately be judged for their non-compliance.  
"Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing" (Philippians 3:16).
"And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).
Which books belong in the Old Testament? The Old Testament as we know it has never been seriously doubted. The Old Testament books claim for themselves divine inspiration (e.g., "Thus saith the Lord"). The prophets quoted one another and recognized each other as inspired of God (Micah 4:1-4; Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 9:2). Joshua received Moses’ teachings as the Word of God, and some of the writing prophets are even listed in the Bible (1 Chronicles 29:29).   Historically, the Old Testament books can be traced back to the time in which they were supposed to have been written and in which the writers lived. The Old Testament books agree with all known facts characteristic of the time of their purported writing and make no mistakes concerning historical information or geography. The Jewish people, the long time custodians of God’s Word, always received the books that comprise the Old Testament. The inspiration of the Old Testament canon was never in doubt by God’s people.  
Confirmation of the Old Testament is also abundantly found in the New Testament. All the Old Testament books are said to be quoted in the New Testament except Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. These books only lacked opportunity for use in the New Testament.  
The New Testament claims that the Old Testament is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Jesus Christ placed his stamp of approval on the Old Testament (Luke 24:44). The early church, first under the direction of inspired apostles, recognized the Old Testament as inspired and true (Acts 13:16-41). Further, in one sweeping statement, Jesus endorsed the entire Old Testament, from Genesis 49:10 to 2 Chronicles 24:20-21 (2 Chronicles was the last book according to the Hebrew arrangement of the Old Testament, Matthew 23:35).  
Which books belong in the New Testament? The vast majority of New Testament books were never doubted by God’s people. The determining factor of whether a book belonged in the Bible rested with the integrity of the book, not with the integrity of the church. The uninspired church was not charged with officiating a list of inspired books (canon). The merit and divine qualities of the New Testament books themselves determined the New Testament canon.  
The proof, testimony and evidence of the validity of the New Testament as we know it are abundant. The books themselves claim inspiration. The New Testament writers believed their writings to be inspired Scripture and commanded Christians to circulate them as such (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16; Revelation 1:3). The apostle Peter recognized the apostle Paul’s writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). Warnings appear in the New Testament concerning deviation from or corruption of the New Testament, which attests its divine nature (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19).  
The basis of the New Testament is fulfillment of the Old Testament, chiefly the incontrovertible resurrection of Jesus Christ, which the New Testament affirms. The New Testament is historically correct in all of its facts and geography. The New Testament was accepted as Scripture from the time it was first written, at least initially by those to whom various parts of it were addressed.  
Uninspired writers who knew some of the inspired writers personally verified the validity of many of the New Testament books. Some of those upon whom the apostles had laid their hands doubtless participated in the early collection of our New Testament books. Miracles were to last until the "unity of the faith" (Ephesians 4:13) or until "that which is perfect is come" (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).  
Which ancient books do not belong in the Bible? First, there is a vast amount of literature that never claimed nor was thought to be biblical (e.g., poetry, legal documents, histories). Additionally, the Apocrypha are extra-canonical books that do not belong in the Bible. None of them are ever quoted or referred to by the biblical books.  
The Old Testament apocryphal books were written in the period between the testaments when admittedly there were no prophets of God. Some apocryphal books do not claim to be inspired. The apocryphal books contain factual errors concerning events and geography. The oldest catalog of canonical books of the Old Testament does not include the apocryphal books. The Old Testament apocryphal books were never accepted by the Jewish community as inspired. The New Testament apocryphal books are also biblically inaccurate and often conflict with inspired books about which there is no question.  
There are about 15 apocryphal books which were written between the testaments, which once even the Catholic Church did not accept. There are also about 15 New Testament apocryphal books besides about 20 pseudepigraphal books.  
Pseudepigraphal books do not belong in the Bible either. These books are falsely ascribed to Bible times or to inspired writers. They were never accepted as inspired. Both the apocrypha and the pseudepigrapha are spurious writings and therefore sometimes both are referred to simply as the apocrypha. The same criticisms leveled against the apocrypha largely apply to the pseudepigrapha.  
In summary, there are sufficient copies of the original texts in the original languages of the Bible to verify both the Old and New Testament texts. Further, enough ancient translations of the Old and New Testaments have survived to verify the Bible text. Some of the versions are even older than the manuscripts surviving.  
The Old Testament canon was accepted as it is at least by the second century B.C. The New Testament canon was accepted within one generation after the death of the apostle John. The Bible canon has stood the tests applied to it by critics throughout the centuries. Counterfeit books of the Bible have been discovered to be false when compared with the genuine. The inspiration of the Bible books is inherent and does not rely upon verification by outside sources.  
(Suggested reading includes: Revelation and the Bible by Berkouwer and others, published by Baker Book House (1958); Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible by Harris, published by Zondervan Publishing House (1974); General Biblical Introduction by Miller, published by Word-Bearer Press (1960); and, Introduction to the New Testament by Thiessen, published by Eerdmans Publishing Co. (1973).   The Old Testament apocrypha includes: The First & Second Books of Esdras, Tobit, Judith, The Additions to the Book of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, The Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and First & Second Books of Maccabees.  
The New Testament apocrypha includes: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, The Epistle of Barnabas, The First & Second Epistles of Clement, The Shepherd of Hermas, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Acts of Paul, The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, The Seven Epistles of Ignatius, The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, The Protevangelium of James, The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, The Gospel of Nicodemus, The Gospel of the Saviour’s Infancy, The History of Joseph the Carpenter.  
The pseudepigrapha includes: The Gospels of Andrew, Bartholomew, Barnabas, Matthias, Thomas, Peter, and Philip; The Acts of John, Paul, Peter, Andrew, Thomas, Matthias, Philip, and Thaddaeus; The Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans; The apocalypse of Peter, Paul, Thomas, and John the Theologian.)

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Way (9:2) by Mark Copeland


                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                            The Way (9:2)

INTRODUCTION

1. Today it is common to use terms referring to the people of God such as...
   a. The church of Christ, the church of God - Ro 16:16; 1Co 1:2
   b. The body of Christ, the kingdom of Christ - Ep 1:22,23; Col 1:13
   c. The temple of God, the bride of Christ - 1Co 3:16; Re 19:7-8

2. In the early days of the church, they were also known as people of "The Way"...
   a. Saul of Tarsus persecuted those of "the Way" - Ac 9:2; 22:4
   b. Others spoke evil of "the Way" - Ac 19:9
   c. At Ephesus there was a riot about "the Way" - Ac 19:23
   d. Paul confessed to worship God according to "the Way" - Ac 24:14
   e. Felix the governor gained accurate knowledge about "the Way" - Ac 24:22

[Today the expression "The Way" is rarely used, except by parachurch
organizations, individual congregations, and even some cult groups.  But
what did it mean in the early days of the church...?]

I. THE MEANING OF "THE WAY"

   A. PROBABLE ORIGIN...
      1. Jesus taught about two ways - Mt 7:13-14
         a. The broad way that leads to destruction
         b. The narrow way that leads to life
      2. Jesus claimed to be the way - Jn 14:6
         a. The way to truth and life
         b. The only way to the Father
      -- It is likely that Jesus' statements led to the use of "The Way"

   B. POSSIBLE MEANINGS...
      1. Simon J. Kistemaker (BNTC) suggests it refers to:
         a. The teaching of the gospel
         b. The Christian's conduct directed and guided by the gospel
         c. The Christian community in general
      2. W. A. Ewell (ECB) suggests it connotes something of:
         a. The way of salvation - Ac 16:17
         b. The true way of God - Ac 18:25-26
      3. J. B. Polhill (NAC) suggests it reflect an early 
         self-designation of the Jewish Christian community in which they
         saw themselves as the "true way" within the larger Jewish 
         community - cf. Ac 24:14
      -- It likely referred to following Jesus as "the Way" in both
         doctrine and life

[Here are several things involved in following Jesus as "The Way" in
doctrine and life...]

II. THE WAY OF JESUS
  
   A. THE WAY TO GOD...
      1. Jesus is the only way to God - Jn 14:6
      2. Through Jesus, both Jew and Gentile have access to the Father - Ep 2:18

   B. THE WAY TO TRUTH...
      1. Jesus came to this world to bear witness to the truth - Jn 18:37
      2. He offers the truth that sets us free from the bondage of sin - Jn 8:32-36

   C. THE WAY TO LIFE...
      1. Jesus came that we might life more abundantly - Jn 10:10
      2. He offers life beyond this life - Jn 11:25

   D. THE WAY OF LOVE...
      1. Jesus taught His disciples to love one another - Jn 13:34
      2. He even taught them to love their enemies - Mt 5:43-45

   E. THE WAY OF JOY...
      1. Jesus spoke in order that His disciples' joy might be full - Jn 15:11
      2. He did so that they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves - Jn 17:13

   F. THE WAY OF PEACE...
      1. Jesus offered a peace unlike any the world could give - Jn 14:27
      2. A peace that overcomes tribulation in the world - Jn 16:33

   G. THE WAY OF UNITY...
      1. Jesus prayed for unity among those who believe in Him - Jn 17:20-23
      2. He died on the cross to reconcile Jew and Gentile - Ep 2:11-17

   H. THE WAY OF PRAYER...
      1. Jesus taught us how to pray, diligently and humbly - Lk 11:1-13;18:1-14
      2. He serves as High Priest and Advocate as we pray - He 4:14-16; 1Jn 2:1

   I. THE WAY OF FORGIVENESS...
      1. Jesus taught the importance of forgiving others - Mt 6:12,14-15
      2. He demonstrated the attitude of forgiveness on the cross - Lk 23:34

   J. THE WAY OF BEARING FRUIT...
      1. Jesus taught the necessity of bearing fruit to being His
         disciples - Jn 15:1-2,8
      2. Abiding in Him is the key to bearing fruit - Jn 15:4-5

   K. THE WAY OF SERVICE...
      1. Jesus came to serve, and taught His disciples to do likewise 
         - Mt 20:25-28; Jn 13:12-17
      2. Therefore His followers are to serve one another in love - Ga 5:13; 1Pe 4:9

   L. THE WAY OF SUFFERING...
      1. Jesus had to suffer to enter His glory - Lk 24:25-26
      2. He calls us to follow in His steps, if need be - 1Pe 2:20-23

   M. THE WAY TO GLORY...
      1. Jesus will one day be revealed in glory - 2Th 1:10
      2. We too shall be revealed in glory in Him! - 2Th 1:12; Col 3:4

CONCLUSION

1. We may or may not refer to ourselves as people of "The Way"...
   a. Other designations are just as scriptural
   b. In some circumstances it could be misunderstood as a cult

2. But we should never stop thinking of Jesus as "The Way"...
   a. To God, truth, life, and glory
   b. To love, joy, peace, and unity
   c. To prayer, forgiveness, bearing fruit
   d. To service, and suffering for righteousness' sake

Have you accepted Jesus as your Way to salvation and eternal life?  Are
you willing to become His disciple and learn from Him...?

   "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will
   give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am
   gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
   For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Mt 11:28-30

   And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been
   given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples
   of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
   the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things
   that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the
   end of the age." Amen. - Mt 28:18-20
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012



"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Conversion Of Saul (9:1-19) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                    The Conversion Of Saul (9:1-19)

INTRODUCTION

1. From the conversion of "The Ethiopian", we now turn our attention to
   the most famous conversion in the New Testament...
   a. That of Saul of Tarsus, chief persecutor of the early church - Ac 8:1,3; 9:1-2
   b. Later known as Paul the apostle (Ac 13:9), who suffered much
      persecution for the cause of Christ - cf. 2Co 11:23-28
   c. Whose conversion stands as a powerful testimony to the resurrection
      of Jesus Christ

2. There are three accounts of his conversion in The Book of Acts...
   a. Ac 9:1-19 - where Luke describes it as it happened
   b. Ac 22:6-16 - where Paul recounts his conversion before a large crowd
   c. Ac 26:12-18 - where Paul defends himself before King Agrippa

3. From "The Conversion of Saul" we find...
   a. Not only a powerful testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ
   b. But more evidence concerning the nature of conversions as revealed
      in The Book of Acts

4. For example...
   a. When was Saul saved?
      1) Was it on the road to Damascus, when the Lord appeared to him?
      2) Was it in Damascus, at some point after he arrived there?
   b. How was Saul saved?
      1) Through saying a sinner's prayer?
      2) By being baptized?

[Such questions can be answered by a careful consideration of Biblical
evidence. Let's begin with a review of the evidence provided by all three
accounts of Saul's conversion...]

I. A HARMONY OF SAUL'S CONVERSION
 
   A. SAUL ON HIS WAY TO DAMASCUS...
      1. To persecute more Christians - Ac 9:1-2; 22:4-5; 26:9-11
      2. When a light shone around him from heaven - Ac 9:3; 22:6; 26:12-13
      3. When a voice began to speak to him in Hebrew...
         a. Identifying itself as the voice of Jesus - Ac 9:4-5; 22:7-9; 26:14-15
         b. Jesus then tells Saul...
            1) Why He has appeared to him - Ac 26:16-18
            2) To go on to Damascus, where...
               a) He will be told "what you must do" - Ac 9:6
               b) He will be told "all things which are appointed for you to do" - Ac 22:10
 
   B. SAUL ARRIVES IN DAMASCUS...
      1. Led by the hand, having been blinded by the light - Ac 9:8; 22:11
      2. For three days, he neither eats nor drinks - Ac 9:9
   
   C. THE LORD SENDS ANANIAS TO SAUL...
      1. The Lord appears to Ananias in a vision, and tells him to go to Saul - Ac 9:10-16
      2. Ananias goes to Saul, and...
         a. Restores his sight - Ac 9:17-18; 22:12-13
         b. Tells him why the Lord appeared to him, how he will be a
            witness of what he has seen - Ac 22:14-15
         c. Tells him to be baptized and wash away his sins, calling
            upon the name of the Lord - Ac 22:16
      3. After which Paul breaks his fast and spends some days with the disciples - Ac 9:18-19

["The Conversion Of Saul" is a powerful testimony to the resurrection of
Jesus Christ.  What other reasonable explanation can be given for the
drastic change from chief persecutor to chief proclaimer of the Christian
faith?  But Saul's conversion is also valuable for insights regarding the
process of conversion.  With that in mind, allow me to share...]

II. SOME OBSERVATIONS

   A. WHEN SAUL WAS SAVED...
      1. Some state that Saul was saved on the road to Damascus
         a. When the Lord appeared to him
         b. That his conversion took place at that moment
      2. Saul was not saved until after he arrived in Damascus
         a. Note that while on the road, the Lord said it would be in
            Damascus where he would be told "what you must do" - Ac 9:6
            b. In Damascus, Ananias told him to "wash away your sins" - Ac 22:16
            1) Up to that point, Saul was still in his sins!
            2) In other words, he was still not saved!
      -- While in one sense he was "converted" on the road (his view of
         Jesus certainly changed), conversion in the sense of salvation
         did not occur until after he arrived in Damascus

   B. HOW SAUL WAS SAVED...
      1. From Ananias' statement in Ac 22:16 (to wash away his sins), we learn that:
         a. Saul had not been saved by the vision on the road to Damascus
         b. Saul had not been saved by prayers and fasting for three
            days - cf. Ac 9:9,11
      2. Saul was saved when his sins were "washed away" - Ac 22:16
         a. Which occurred after spending three days in Damascus
         b. Which occurred when he was baptized to wash away his sins!
      -- This concurs with what Peter said about the purpose of baptism in Ac 2:38

   C. BAPTISM AND CALLING UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD...
      1. After quoting Joel who wrote of calling upon the name of the
         Lord to be saved, Peter told the crowd at Pentecost to be 
         baptized - cf. Ac 2:21,38
      2. Ananias commanded Saul to be baptized, "calling upon the name
         of the Lord" - Ac 22:16
      3. Peter wrote baptism saves us, as an appeal to God for a good
         conscience (ESV) - 1Pe 3:21
      4. In the act of baptism, in faith we are...
         a. "Calling upon the name of the Lord"
         b. Appealing to God by the authority of His Son Jesus to forgive our sins
      -- While we can certainly pray as we are being baptized, baptism
         itself is a prayer (an appeal) to God for a good conscience!
      
CONCLUSION

1. From the conversion of Saul we learn that one is not saved by...
   a. Visions of the Lord (who could have a vision more impressive than
      Saul's?)
   b. Saying the sinner's prayer (Saul had been praying and fasting for three days!)

2. In keeping with what is taught elsewhere, one is saved when...
   a. They are baptized "for the remission of sins" - Ac 2:38
   b. They are baptized to have sins "washed away" - Ac 22:16
   c. They are baptized "as an appeal to God for a good conscience"
      (ESV) - 1Pe 3:21
 
3. Paul later wrote in Romans 6 that baptism is efficacious because in baptism...
   a. We are baptized (buried) into Christ's death - Ro 6:3-4
   b. We are united with Christ in the likeness of His death - Ro 6:5
   c. We are crucified with Christ, and our body of sin is done away - Ro 6:6
   d. We die to sin, and are therefore freed from sin - Ro 6:7
   -- Such baptism is conditioned upon our faith and God's working 
     - Ac 8:36-37; Col 2:12

4. In his commentary on Ro 6:3, Martin Luther wrote:

   "Baptism has been instituted that it should lead us to the blessings
   (of this death) and through such death to eternal life. Therefore IT
   IS NECESSARY that we should be baptized into Jesus Christ and His 
   death." 
                    - Commentary On Romans, Kregel Publications, p. 101

And so we say, as did Ananias, to anyone who has yet to be baptized for
the remission of their sins...

"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your
sins, calling on the name of the Lord." - Ac 22:16
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

The Ancient Origins of Hinduism by Alden Bass


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1408

The Ancient Origins of Hinduism

by  Alden Bass

The word Hindu originated, not as the name of a religion, but as a geographical marker. Hindu derives from the Sanskrit word for river, sindhu, from which the Indus River received its name. Sometime in the first millennium B.C., the Persians, who were then South Asia’s closest neighbors, mispronounced sindhu, and designated the land around the Indus River as hindu. Over a thousand years later, in A.D. 712, the Muslims invaded the Indus Valley. To distinguish themselves, they called all non-Muslims hindus; the name of the land became, by default, the name of the people and their religion (Schoeps, 1966, p. 148). Christians, upon entering Hindustan (as it was then called), committed the same error of reduction. From their perspective, the indigenous people were all idol-worshipping pagans, so they christened the Indians gentoo, a derogatory synchronization of “gentile” and “hindu.” Thus the name hindu originally was given by outsiders to denote a geographic territory, but through the encroachment of various other religious groups it came to encompass all native religions in South East Asia.
As the history of its name demonstrates, unity in Indian religion has been superimposed by outsiders, first by the Muslims, then the Christians, and much later by the British colonialists who through their censuses unintentionally reified the South Asian peoples under that banner. It has only been in the last couple of centuries that the Indian people have embraced the name Hindu as their own, though two Indians rarely use the word with the same meaning. Some scholars suggest that it is more appropriate to speak of “Hinduisms” than to risk giving off a false sense of unity.
The genesis of Hinduism is nearly as elusive as its contemporary definition. Unlike Islam, which began with Mohammed, or Judaism, which began with Moses, Hinduism has no founder, nor any traditional time or place of origin; it emerges from the jungle as a continually evolving religious system. Scholars debate the primary source of what would become the Hindu religion, though all agree that several cultures had an influence. Basham, Buitenen, and Doniger suggest that ancient Hinduism evolved from at least three antecedents: “an early element common to most of the Indo-European tribes; a later element held in common with the early Iranians; and an element acquired in the Indian subcontinent itself ” (Basham, et al., 1997). The oldest of these influences are the symbols and deities indigenous to the Indus valley, part of the ancient and abstruse Dravidian culture. Archaeologists date this magnificent society to the third millennium B.C., making it one of the oldest known civilizations. This early date also places the religion of the Indus over a thousand years before the writing of the Old Testament, in the time of the Patriarchal Age. If the archaeologists’ dating is correct, the Indus civilization was established soon after the Tower of Babel incident. The archaeological sites along the Indus have revealed many terra-cotta figures resembling gods and goddesses in the Vedic literature, some of which are still worshipped. Though religious figurines abound, temples inexplicably are absent from the Indus cities. Because the Indus valley script has yet to be deciphered, much of the Dravidian culture and religion remains a mystery.
The Christian must ask how the Hindu religion fits into the biblical narrative. Islam grew out of Judaism and Christianity, and Buddhism derived from Hinduism; Hinduism is the only major religion lacking an adequate explanation as to its origin. No substantial texts exist beyond 1000 B.C., and the texts after 1000 do not contain narrative. The earliest of these is the Rig Veda, which is nothing but a collection of praise hymns to the gods rather than the record of a people as in the Bible. Unlike western cultures, which tend to view time as a linear progression, the eastern religions generally reckon time to be cyclical. As a result, they emphasize the eternal over the transient and historical. Scholars are able to piece together the earliest Indian religion only through archaeology, clues in the later texts, and by extrapolating from existing traditions. Using these same resources, Christian scholars can reinterpret the available data so that the Hindu religion fits into a biblical scheme of world history. Reconstructing the ancient history of any civilization is tentative, however, and all such projects are educated speculations at best.
Bible believers would expect all civilizations to post-date the universal Flood, which destroyed every human save the family of Noah (Genesis 7). The peoples that sprang from Noah’s sons then spread over the Earth, though the Bible is silent as to when and how. Though it is possible that some colonies were established, the text indicates that most of the people stayed together in the land of Shinar (Genesis 11:2), where they began construction on that fateful tower. The hubris of Noah’s descendents kindled the wrath of God, Who, after He had confused their languages, “He scattered them abroad over the face of all the Earth” (Genesis 11:9). Josephus wrote that “each colony took possession of that land which they lighted upon and unto which God led them; so that the whole continent was filled with them, both the inland and maritime countries” (Antiquities I.v.1). From this point the Old Testament records the history of the children of Abraham; the events of the rest of the world can be known only through secular history. We must try to trace the origin of Hinduism back to an original belief in the true God—a belief passed down from the progeny of Noah. In a passage particularly descriptive of the Indian religion, Paul argues that the ancient Gentiles knew God, but they did not “retain their knowledge of God,” instead changing “the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:28,23).
Evidence for the historical digression from the worship of Jehovah God to the worship of nature and nature-gods is found in the ancient texts and myths of South Asia. The earliest Hindu literature, the Rig Veda, speaks often of “the Creator,” of “the One,” a Great God over all the other gods. He is called Varuna, and is closely related to the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazdā (“Wise Lord”) and the Greek god Uranus (Ourania). Though an insignificant sea god in the current pantheon, Varuna was a prominent god in the ancient system, and the subject of many hymns in the Rig Veda. Zwemer writes that Varuna is “the most impressive of the Vedic gods. He is the prehistoric Sky-god whose nature and attributes point to a very early monotheistic conception” (1945, p. 86). This god is an ethical god, capable of great wrath or merciful forgiveness of sins. Note this passage from the Vedas:
I do not wish, King Varuna,
To go down to the home of clay,
Be gracious, mighty lord, and spare.
Whatever wrong we men commit against the race
Of heavenly ones, O Varuna, whatever law
Of thine we here have broken through thoughtlessness,
For that transgression do not punish us, O god (Rig Veda VII.lxxxix.1-3).
Varuna is already on the decline by the time the Vedas were committed to writing; Indra, a warrior god, takes prominence in the later Vedic period. Yet even then, Varuna is qualitatively different from Indra and all the other gods that follow him in the Vedic literature; he is less anthropomorphic and more majestic (cf. Zwemer, p. 88). Other Hindu deities act like humans in the same way as the Greek gods, yet Varuna is above that. It would seem that this god embodies many of the qualities of Jehovah, albeit diluted and removed by many hundreds of miles and years.
The myths of ancient Hinduism likewise contain echoes of the distant past similar of Genesis. There are several different, though not exclusive, creation myths in the Vedas (and even more in later literature), but in one of the earliest writings, Indra is the maker of all. “Who made firm the shaking earth, who brought to rest the mountains when they were disturbed, who measured out the wide atmosphere, who fixed the heaven, he, O folk, is Indra” (Rig Veda II.xii.2). This version of creation by a personal god is more similar to the Old Testament account than to later Hindu formulations. Hammer remarks, “In the early creation myth Indra was seen as the personal agent in creation, bringing existence out of non-existence. In later speculation the ‘One God’, described in personal terms, gives way to ‘That One’—the impersonal force of creation” (1982, p. 175). As time passed and the true God was forgotten, the creation myths became more fantastic, involving giant snakes and four-mouthed gods growing out of lotus flowers (Basham, et al., 1997).
In addition to the creation myths, a story persists in the epic tradition (written between 300 B.C.-A.D. 300) of a great flood. It was so great that “there was water everywhere and the waters covered the heaven and the firmament also” (Mahabharata III.clxxxvi). The hero of the story is Manu, who is analogous to Noah in the Hebrew story. One day a fish approached Manu and asked him for protection in exchange for a blessing (later tradition identifies the fish as the god Vishnu). Manu helped the fish, who gives him this warning:
The time for the purging of this world is now ripe. Therefore do I now explain what is good for thee! The mobile and immobile divisions of the creation, those that have the power of locomotion, and those that have it not, of all these the terrible doom hath now approached. Thou shall build a strong massive ark and have it furnished with a long rope. On that must thou ascend, O great Muni, with the seven Rishis and take with thee all the different seeds which were enumerated by regenerate Brahmanas in days of yore, and separately and carefully must thou preserve them therein (Mahabharata III.clxxxvi).
Manu alone survived the great flood, and from him the world was repopulated. The connection between the Hindu story and the Genesis account is strengthened by etymological ties between the name “Noah” and “Manu” (Sage, 2004).
The evidence from India’s earliest literary traditions reveals that Hinduism is a corruption of true religion. Though for most of its existence Hinduism has been an extremely pluralistic religion—being influenced by several cultures originally, and later by surrounding religions (Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity)—it appears to have grown out of monotheism. The renowned Sanskritist of Oxford, Max Müller, wrote: “There is a monotheism that precedes the polytheism of the Veda; and even in the invocations of the innumerable gods the remembrance of a God, one and infinite, breaks through the mist of idolatrous phraseology like the blue sky that is hidden by passing clouds” (as quoted in Zwemer, p. 87).

REFERENCES

Basham, Arthur, J.A.B van Buitenen, and Wendy Doniger (1997), “Hinduism,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 20:519-558.
Hammer, Raymond (1982), “Roots: The Development of Hindu Religion,” Eerdmans’ Handbook to the World’s Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Sage, Bengt (2004), “Noah and Human Etymology,” [On-line], URL: http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-083.htm.
Schoeps, Hans-Jachim (1966), The Religions of Mankind (Garden City, NY: Doubleday).
Zwemer, Samuel (1945), The Origin of Religion (New York: Loizeaux Brothers).

The Value of Biblical Sex Laws by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=832

The Value of Biblical Sex Laws

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In 1998, the Committee on Adolescence published an article in Pediatrics titled “Adolescent Pregnancy—Current Trends and Issues: 1998.” According to the statistics in the report, in 1998, 56 percent of the girls polled in the United States had had sexual intercourse before they were old enough to vote (at age 18). That same year, 73 percent of all boys were sexually active. The average age for the first intercourse experience was 17 for girls and 16 for boys. Even more troubling is the fact that 19 percent of sexually active high school students reported having four or more successive partners.
Television and movies portray sexual intercourse as a harmless, fun activity in which all “cool” people engage—regardless of their marital status. As a result, it sometimes is difficult to convince people of the negative effects of illicit sexual intercourse. After all, the debonair James Bond slept with as many women as he could in any given 007 movie. Yet he suffered no negative repercussions from his sexual promiscuity. The picture in real life is not quite as harmless, however. Here are a few statistics on the harmful effects of the promiscuous sex lives of many people today.
  • More than 10,000,000 children in Africa are orphans because their parents died of AIDS (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 115).
  • In America, up to 60 percent of the young adult population carries the incurable genital herpes virus (p. 120).
  • In America, about 30 percent of the young adult population carries the venereal wart virus (p. 122).
Amazingly, the Old and New Testament writers penned commandments—which derived ultimately from God—that would stop these terrible diseases from spreading. Proverbs 7:4-27 and Leviticus 19:29 are good examples of these laws as found in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the inspired apostle Paul explained that sexual immorality is a sin against the body (1 Corinthians 6:15-18). Throughout the pages of Scripture, God commanded that sexual intercourse be enjoyed only within the confines of a God-approved, monogamous, marital relationship. Jesus Himself stated:


Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”? And said “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-5).
The biblical rules regarding intercourse help illustrate that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. How could the biblical writers have known the proper place for intercourse, when the nations around them engaged in various perverted practices? The simple fact is, God created humans, and He always has known how they should behave in every area of their lives. Just think how much heartache and physical pain people today could avoid—both for themselves and for those they love—simply by following biblical teaching concerning sexual intercourse. We would be wise indeed to abide by these rules—and to teach others to do the same.

REFERENCES

McMillen, S.I. and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition.

The Omnipotence of God by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1396

The Omnipotence of God

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

God is the only being Who possesses omnipotence. In the Oxford English Dictionary, “omnipotence” is defined as “all-powerfulness,” or “almightiness.” In other words, when God wants something to be done, it is done. God has all power in heaven and on Earth (Matthew 28:18), so unlike the limited power of humans, which is constrained by time, space, and force, God’s capabilities are limited only by His own character (see Miller, 2003). Paul wrote of God’s omnipotence in the sense that He is “above all, and through all, and in you all,” (Ephesians 4:6). God is preeminent for many reasons, not the least of which is His great power.
God has complete power over the Earth. The very first chapter of the Bible (Genesis 1) is full of references to God’s power. The words of His mouth brought the Universe into existence; He spoke the Cosmos into existence with only a word (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3). In order to create the Universe, God needed no pre-existing matter with which to work; rather, He Himself spoke the very first matter into existence (see Thompson, et al., 2003a, 2003b). After He created “the heavens and the Earth,” He spoke “light” into existence on Earth (Genesis 1:3). After creating light, He created the firmament, and much more, all by the power of His word.
God has complete power over the spiritual realm. Just as the first chapter in the Bible reveals that God created light on Earth, the last chapter in the Bible reminds us that God’s power will be responsible for the eternal light in heaven (Revelation 22:5). Christ repeatedly cast out devils during His earthly ministry (Matthew 8:16; 9:32-33; 12:22), and James revealed that the demons believe in the one God of the Bible, and that because they are aware of God’s omnipotence, they tremble (Luke 8:31; James 2:19). God now limits Satan himself, keeping him from directly inhabiting people or causing people physical pain (Zechariah 13:1-2).
Only God can perform “wonders,” and only God can furnish that capability to others (Job 5:9; Psalm 72:18; John 3:2). Christ again revealed His power over the spiritual realm when He brought Lazarus’ soul back from the realm of departed spirits, and returned it to Lazarus’ body (John 11:43). Similarly, God will resurrect all the dead one day, having already determined the fate of their souls (Mark 12:26-27; Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:15,32; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
God has complete power over the affairs of men. John Waddey observed: “God was known to the patriarchs as El-Shaddai, God Almighty (Exodus 6:2-3). The term Shaddai, when connected with the Hebrew word El (God) means, ‘the mighty One to nourish, satisfy and supply.’ Thus we see His power to send forth blessings for He is the all-bountiful One” (1987, p. 1). It makes sense, then, that when Moses spoke to the entire assembly of the children of Israel the lyrics of a lengthy song, he included this line: “Nor is there any that can deliver out of My [God’s] hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). Of course, just as God has the power to bless us and deliver the righteous from spiritual harm, He also has the uncontainable power to destroy the wicked, as can be seen in His utter destruction of the world through the global Flood of Noah’s time (except eight souls; see Thompson, 1999a).
The plural form of El, Elohim, brings to light the fullness of God’s power, in that it highlights the Trinity (Psalm 38:75). Still another Old Testament expression used to denote omnipotence is Abhir, or “strong One” (Genesis 49:24; see Vos, 1994, 3:2188-2190). Jesus said that God is Spirit, emphasizing that God is not limited by impotence of flesh, as are humans (Isaiah 2:22; 31:3; John 4:24).
God’s power over the nations of the Earth is evident. Though God used the children of Israel as His means for bringing Christ to Earth, God’s power over large groups of people has never been limited to Israel. God has authority over all nations, and frequently has used them to accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 10:5; Jeremiah 25:9; Amos 1). Job said: “He makes nations great and destroys them” (Job 12:23). Kings have their dominion only because God allows it (see Custance, 1977, p. 134). Vos observed: “The prophets ascribe to Jehovah not merely relatively greater power than to the gods of the nations, but His power extends into the sphere of the nations, and the heathen gods are ignored in the estimate put upon His might (Isaiah 31:3)” [1994, 3:2189]. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was warned:
This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men…. This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses (Daniel 4:17,24-25, emp. added).
God has complete power over the devil, whom He created (though the devil was not evil at the time of his creation; see Colley, 2004). While the devil has certain powers that humans do not possess (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; see Thompson, 1999b, pp. 11-12), Satan is not omnipotent. During his temptation of Christ, Satan admitted that whatever power he possessed had been “delivered to him” (Luke 4:6). Satan had to ask for God’s permission to harm Job (Job 1:7-12). Jesus said that Satan had desired to sift Peter as wheat; that is, Satan sought the express permission of God. Without it, Satan would be powerless to tempt Peter. While God never had a beginning, Satan was created (Colossians 1:16). For this, and other reasons, Satan is not omnipotent, and his power is far less potent than the power of God. John wrote: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
If we were to try to imagine someone whose power approached God’s might, we might think of Satan. Yet, the Bible reveals that nothing is too hard for the Lord—even defeating Satan (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17). In fact, Christ already conquered the devil, and eventually will punish him everlastingly in hell (Matthew 25:41; see Thompson, 1999b, pp. 12-13). Hebrews 2:14 reads: “He [Christ] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Milton, in Paradise Lost, wrote of Satan: “Him the Almighty Power hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky…Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms” (1.49).
God’s complete power is unending. Because God would not be God if He were not omnipotent, and because we know that God will never end, we can know that God’s power will never cease or diminish (see Colley, 2004). Furthermore, Isaiah plainly stated: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable” (40:28).

CONCLUSION

God’s omnipotence reassures us, because it is through the Divine power that His servants know that “nothing will be impossible” to those who faithfully serve Him (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:23; Philippians 4:13). Those who are not faithful to the Lord should be terror-stricken by God’s omnipotence, because, in the Day of Judgment, the very force that created the Universe will condemn them to an everlasting punishment. Vos commented that omnipotence
evokes a specific religious response. This is true, not only of the Old Testament, where the element of the fear of God stands comparatively in the foreground, but remains true also in the New Testament. Even in our Lord’s teaching the prominence given to the fatherhood and love of God does not preclude that the transcendent majesty of the Divine nature, including omnipotence, is kept in full view and made a potent factor in the cultivation of the religious mind (Matthew 6:9). The beauty of Jesus’ teaching on the nature of God consists in this, that He keeps the exaltation of God above every creature and His loving condescension toward the creature in perfect equilibrium and makes them mutually fructified by each other. Religion is more than the inclusion of God in the general altruistic movement of the human mind; it is a devotion at every point colored by the consciousness of that Divine uniqueness in which God’s omnipotence occupies a foremost place (1994, 3:2190).
Little wonder that the multitude of Revelation 19:6 cried: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” The fact that God so willingly uses His omnipotent capacity for the ultimate benefit of His servants should motivate everyone to obey the Gospel (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). We will not escape the vengeance of God if we neglect the great salvation offered us (Hebrews 2:3).

REFERENCES

Colley, Caleb (2004), “The Eternality of God,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2565.
Custance, Arthur C. (1977), Time and Eternity and Other Biblical Studies (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Things God Cannot Do,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2292.
Lockyer, Herbert (1997), All the 3s of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Thompson, Bert (1999a), The Global Flood of Noah (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), second edition.
Thompson, Bert (1999b), Satan—His Origin and Mission (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2001 reprint).
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003a), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part I],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/22.
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003b), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part II],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/26.
Vos, Geerhardus (1994), “Omnipotence,” The International Bible Encyclopaedia, ed. James Orr, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Waddey, John (1987), “The Omnipotence of God,” Firm Foundation, 104[18]:1,4, September 22.

Lessons Learned from the Practice of Law: Interpretative Aids by Kevin Cain, J.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=10

Lessons Learned from the Practice of Law: Interpretative Aids

by  Kevin Cain, J.D.

When interpreting a statute, courts adhere to general canons of construction to aid in the proper interpretation of that statute. The first and most important rule of statutory interpretation is that the resolution of a dispute over the meaning of a statute begins with the language of the statute itself (United States v. Ron Pair Enterprises, Inc., 1989). In other words, the cardinal rule of statutory construction is “that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there” (Connecticut National Bank v. Germain, 1992). As such, “[i]f statutory language is plain, permitting only one construction, there is no occasion to seek out congressional intent by reference to legislative history or other extrinsic aids” (Lapine v. Town of Wellesley, 2002). However, if the statute’s language is not plain, courts may rely on the legislative history of the statute to help interpret that statute (United States v. Fields, 2007). Legislative history is comprised of the comments and statements of senators and congressmen made while a bill is being debated.
Occasionally, a judge will cite a statement made by a legislator to help explain or support a particular interpretation of some statute. For example, when trying to determine the exact meaning of a less-than-clear statute, the judge may look to a record of statements made by various legislators while the bill is being discussed and ultimately passed into law. These statements may help clarify the meaning or purpose of a particular law.
Not all scholars think that legislative history is a proper tool in determining the interpretation of a statute. One of the most outspoken scholars on this subject is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He has clearly identified himself as one who does not favor the use of legislative history when interpreting a statute. In one of his more colorful explanations of this view, Justice Scalia recalled the statement of Judge Harold Leventhal who once compared arguments from legislative history to “entering a crowded cocktail party and looking over the heads of the guests for one’s friends” (Conroy v. Aniskoff, 1993). The point being, everyone can find a friend in that setting. Likewise, everyone can research and find some remote statement made by a legislator that supports his subjective interpretation of a statute. Accordingly, many scholars and judges believe that there may very well be a good reason why such language was left on the legislative floor and never made its way into the statute itself. Simply put, if it is not in the statute, it should not resolve the meaning of a statute. Accordingly, the law says what it means and it means what it says.
The same comparison can be made with God’s holy Word. We have many extrinsic aids: books, commentaries, research tools, historical statements, church fathers, and scholarly interpretations of God’s Word. These can be both a blessing and a curse, depending upon how we use them. However, we often turn to these aids not because we cannot understand what God has revealed through His Word. Rather, we often turn to these extra-biblical sources because we are either (1) lacking in diligence to study the Bible for ourselves, or because (2) our judgment is clouded by our preconceived ideas about what we think that passage should mean.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed this problem. During the lifetime of Jesus, just like today, people were prone to listen to scholars, religious leaders, and other sources outside the Bible, and consider them just as important and binding as God’s word. Jesus says no less than six times in that sermon, “You have heard that it was said...” (Matthew 5:21,27,31,33,38,43). Jesus is contrasting the true word of God with what the people have heard their religious leaders teach over the years (see Lyons, 2009). Scholars and religious leaders may teach one thing, but of infinitely greater importance is the pure and simple Word of God. When Jesus continues in the Sermon on the Mount and says, “but I say to you,” he is turning our attention from scholars, commentators, and “legislative history,” and is directing our minds and hearts toward the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I have heard the phrase before that the Bible is its own best interpreter (Miller, 2003). In other words, when we come to a passage that we do not clearly understand, rather than turning to non-inspired sources to help us understand the Bible, we should be turning to other passages in the Bible to help us understand more clearly.
For example, we can literally see the Bible interpreting itself through a literary style called Hebrew parallelism. This beautiful style of writing involves the repetition of a thought, but expressed in different terms. The author makes a point, and then emphasizes that point by repeating it, but in different language that adds further depth, meaning, and application to the first phrase. For example, Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Then, that same verse goes on to repeat itself in Hebrew parallelism when it declares, “And the firmament shows His handiwork.” How do the heavens declare the glory of God? They demonstrate the fine work of God’s own hands. The last half of this verse helps us interpret the first half. A little later in this same psalm, the psalmist writes, “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:8). That same verse then interprets itself when it states, “The commandments of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8). These two phrases are not distinct and unrelated. This is parallelism; the Bible interpreting itself through thoughtful reiteration.
An understanding of the “whole counsel of God” will cause us to dig deeper into the Scriptures and less into what others have to say about the Bible. When Paul addressed the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20, Paul declared that he had not hesitated to declare unto them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). No doubt, a person familiar with the whole counsel of God will spend more time in the Bible and less time studying other sources. But how do we become a person who is more inclined to turn to the Word of God rather than the words of men?
Paul gave some excellent advice to the young preacher Timothy describing the nature of how we become more familiar with the Bible, so that we can preach the “whole counsel of God.” Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). Other translations replace the word “study” with “be diligent” (NASB, NKJV), “make every effort” (NCV), and “do your best” (NIV, ESV). All these translations are accurate. Study is designed to be hard, arduous work by its very nature. To study God’s Word in such a way that we can rightly divide the word of truth, we must make great effort and work hard at familiarizing ourselves with the Word of God.  Certainly devotional reading for the pure pleasure of God’s Word has its place, but we must also roll up our sleeves, work hard, and apply ourselves to the diligent study of God’s Word so we can answer those who question us about our faith and our hope (1 Peter 3:15).
We must be people of the Book—people who are drawn to and guided more and more by the word of God, and less and less by what others say about the Word of God. Commentaries, treatise, scholarly writings, and other uninspired works can be useful and have their place in a Christian’s life. But this “legislative history” can only be helpful after we have plumed the depths in ardent study of the way, the truth, and the life—God’s holy Word (John 1:1, 14: 14:6).  You have heard that it was said, “I read a good book recently.” But I say unto you, “Read the good book.”

REFERENCES

Connecticut National Bank v. Germain, 503 U.S. 249, 253-54 (1992).
Conroy v. Aniskoff, 507 U.S. 511, 519 (1993) (Scalia, J., concurring).
Lapine v. Town of Wellesley, 304 F.3d 90, 96 (1st Cir. 2002).
Lyons, Eric (2009), “This Is the Law and the Prophets,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=526.
Miller, Dave (2003), “The Bible Is Its Own Best Interpreter,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1242.
United States v. Fields, 500 F.3d 1327, 1330 (11th Cir. 2007).
United States v. Ron Pair Enterprises, Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 242 (1989).

Jesus Was Rational by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=1245

Jesus Was Rational

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

A study of the life of Christ on Earth quickly reveals that Jesus functioned rationally, logically, and sensibly. Unlike many religious people who claim to represent Him, Jesus possessed high respect for doctrinal correctness (after all, He authored the Law!). In all of His interactions with people, He conducted Himself with logical precision. One example of this attribute of our Lord is seen on the occasion when Jesus entered the synagogue and encountered a man who had a deformed hand (Matthew 12:9-13). This circumstance prompted His enemies to ask Him a question in hopes of being able to accuse Him of breaking the Law. They asked: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Of course, they had pre-decided that the answer to the question was “no,” that, in fact, the Law would naturally forbid such an action.
Unfortunately, the prevailing interpretation of the Law of Moses at the time, at least among the Jewish leaders, was that the Sabbath law enjoined total inactivity—as if everyone was to sit down for 24 hours and do nothing. This view was a distortion of God’s law on the matter. The Law gave the right, even the obligation, to engage in several activities (that could rightly be designated “work”) that did not constitute violation of the Sabbath regulation. On this occasion, Jesus pinpointed one such instance: “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?” (vs. 11). Jesus was recalling a directive from the Law of Moses:
You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself. You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again (Deuteronomy 22:1-4; cf. Exodus 23:4-5).
Such passages give insight into the nature of God, and provide tremendous assistance in making proper application of God’s laws to everyday circumstances.
Observe that God’s laws never contradict or countermand each other. Unlike manmade laws which often manifest inconsistency and contradiction, God’s laws function in perfect harmony with each other. The Mosaic passage to which Jesus alluded demonstrates that the general principle of the cessation of usual work on the Sabbath did not conflict with any number of specific circumstances in which benevolence and compassion were to be expressed. In an agriculturally-based society, a family’s survival depends on its farm animals. If a sheep, ox, or donkey were to break out of its stall, flee the premises, and then fall into a pit from which it would be unable to extricate itself, the animal would most likely die or become seriously ill if left in its predicament for 24 hours. To expend the necessary effort (i.e., “work) to retrieve the animal from danger was not considered by God to be included in the Sabbath prohibition. Hence, Jesus stated the logical conclusion: “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?” (vs. 12). If action could be exerted to see to the well-being of a dumb animal, then obviously, God would approve of action taken to see to the physical care of a human being! The logic is penetrating and decisive. Far from suggesting that law is unimportant and may be ignored under the guise of “human need,” or implying that humans can break the “letter of the law” in order to keep the “spirit of the law” (see Miller, 2003), Jesus demonstrated that inherently built into God’s laws are all concerns deemed by Deity to be necessary. The benevolent, loving thing to do will always harmonize with God’s laws, since “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10), i.e., every truly loving action has already been defined by God in His legal admonitions.
The religion of Christ surpasses all human religion. It is rooted in the very essence of Deity. When Jesus took on human form on Earth, He showed Himself to be the Master logician Who always conducted Himself in a rational manner. May we do likewise.

REFERENCES

Miller, Dave (2003), “The Spirit and Letter of the Law,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1225.

Heterozygous Lethal Mutations by Joe Deweese, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1699

Heterozygous Lethal Mutations

by  Joe Deweese, Ph.D.

Q:

I have heard someone argue that changing even a few nucleotides in DNA could kill an organism. Is this a good argument to use against evolution since most theories of evolution involve genetic changes (mutations)?

A:

It is possible for a single amino acid change in a protein (which results from changing one to three nucleotides), or the deletion of a single nucleotide from DNA, to be fatal to an organism. In the scientific literature, this is called heterozygous lethal and instances can be identified by a search of literature databases (e.g., Burkitt-Wright, et al., 2012; Tsurusaki, et al., 2012). Heterozygous lethal means one of the two copies of a given gene in an organism are defective due to mutation (heterozygous) leading to the death of the organism (lethal). Normally, humans have two functional copies (homozygous) of all genes (except those on the X and Y chromosome in males). In some cases, mutations in one copy of the gene do not lead to a major problem (this is called “haplosufficiency”). When a gene is “haploinsufficient,” the loss of one copy of that gene can lead to major problems (like cancer) and sometimes death (as in heterozygous lethal).
Normal:         ATGGCTCCTC TGTCGAGCTG ATCACACCCA
Insertion:         ATGGCTCACTC TGTCGAGCTG ATCACACCCA
Deletion:         ATGGCTC_TC TGTCGAGCTG ATCACACCCA
Substitution:         ATGGCTCGTC TGTCGAGCTG ATCACACCCA
Figure 1: Some of the most basic forms of DNA mutations include insertion, deletion, and substitution. Insertions can be one or more nucleotides added within a sequence. Deletions can involve one or more nucleotides lost from a sequence. Substitutions can involve changing one or more nucleotides to a different nucleotide. Each of these occur at random under natural circumstances, and DNA repair systems are designed to monitor and repair these forms of damage. If not repaired, these relatively simple changes do not always lead to a detrimental impact on the organism. In most cases, the effect is considered neutral. There are numerous other types of mutations, both small scale (e.g., base modification) and large scale (e.g., gene duplication or deletion).
While it is true that relatively “small” mutations can cause major problems and conversely, some “larger” mutations do not result in immediate lethality (for example, the extra copy of chromosome 21 in Down’s Syndrome), this argument may be missing a more relevant point. It is clear that mutations cause many problems, including cancer (Hanahan and Weinberg, 2011), and that documented mutations in long-term evolution experiments do not show major evidence for macroevolutionary change (Behe, 2010). Perhaps the more important point has to do with the types of changes that can be expected. As one geneticist argued in a recent book, mutations cause the decay of the “message” of the genome rather than the formation of new information (Sanford, 2008). A summary of long-term evolution experiments also suggests that even mutations considered “beneficial” (for the organism) in these studies generally involved the loss of genetic information (Behe, 2010).
In order for organisms to progressively evolve from one form to the next, new genetic information is needed. However, there is no known mechanism or natural process for generating new information (Gitt, 2005; Sanford, 2008; Meyer, 2009). Some theorize that naturally occurring mutation processes like duplication could account for increases in genetic information. But duplication does not explain the origin of the gene being duplicated, much less explain how position-specific nucleotide changes could develop a new feature or function (Sanford, 2008). The random mutations occurring naturally have no direction and do not have a “plan” for developing a particular function (Sanford, 2008). The expectation that random changes will develop new information does not fit the available evidence, nor is it statistically likely to occur (Sanford, 2008; Meyer, 2009; Behe, 2010). [NOTE: This topic gets very complex very quickly, and care should be taken any time this is discussed to be sure that the underlying science is very well understood. Misunderstanding can lead to misrepresentation, which can harm the cause and discredit those responsible.]
In summary, some very small, but very harmful, genetic changes have been documented, and their occurrence supports the concept that the genome is decaying over time (Sanford, 2008). A larger challenge for the macroevolutionary approach is to explain how new information can develop by random, undirected means in order to facilitate the development of new features and ultimately new organisms. A better explanation? We are here by design (Romans 1:20).

REFERENCES

Behe, M.J. (2010), “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 85[4]:419-445.
Burkitt-Wright, E.M., L. Bradley, et al. (2012), “Neonatal Lethal Costello Syndrome and Unusual Dinucleotide Deletion/Insertion Mutations in HRAS Predicting P. Gly 12Val,” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 158A[5]:1102-1110.
Gitt, W. (2005), In the Beginning was Information: A Scientist Explains the Incredible Design in Nature (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Hanahan, D. and R.A. Weinberg (2011), “Hallmarks of Cancer: the Next Generation,” Cell, 144[5]:646-674.
Meyer, S.C. (2009), Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperOne).
Sanford, J.C. (2008), Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome (Waterloo, NY: FMS Publications).
Tsurusaki, Y., T. Kosho, et al. (2012), “Exome Sequencing in a Family with an X-Linked Lethal Malformation Syndrome: Clinical Consequences of Hemizygous Truncating OFD1 Mutations in Male Patients,” Clinical Genetics,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1399-0004.2012.01885.x.