Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jesus Words Only

During Jesus ministry the Pharisees seem at face value to be the main adversaries of Jesus (mainly to those who don't know the Priests were Sadducees at this time).  But throughout Acts the persecution of the young Church came mainly from the Sadducees, the few exceptions (last one being Saul/Paul himself) were very early on.

The difference between the two is often defined by their views on the Resurrection, but it goes deeper then that.  The Pharisees added to God's word with their Oral Torah now passed on by the Rabbis.  But the Sadducees limited God's Word to only the Five Books of Moses.  That's why they could sorta get away with denying the Resurrection, they gave no credence to Isaiah 26, Ezekiel 37 or Daniel 12.  But Jesus in Matthew 22:32 did prove the Resurrection to them from The Torah.

There is a "Jesus Words Only" movement out there, seeking to deny that Paul was inspired or a true Apostle, and that we should build our doctrine on Jesus words alone (though they generally feel the non Pauline Epistles don't contradict them).  There is a tendency for them to favor Matthew and John over Luke, but the main website I've viewed of them seeks to defend Luke against the accusation that he was a Paulian and insists the Jesus in Luke was consistent with the Jesus in Matthew and John.

I'm glad frankly that there are enemies of Salvation by Faith Alone and Eternal Security who admit that's what Paul taught.  Now they slander Paul by saying he taught Calvinism and other Gnostic things.  As far the Calvinism I addressed that here.

The basis for saying Paul was a Gnostic is argued by lots of enemies of The Bible, the problem with this movement's premise is the case for Paul being Gnostic is slightly weaker then the case for John being Gnostic (all that talk about The Logos, The Light and the Archon of The Kosmos).  The Gnostics borrowed language from both of them, as well as Philo.

To me all of The Bible is Jesus words, because Jesus is The Word.  But at any-rate Jesus dealt with the Saducees by sticking to their ground rules, fortunately I feel my job here is easier then Jesus was.  But first I want to clarify something.

Faith Alone and Eternal Security get treated as separate issues, to me they are not, believing Salvation can be obtained without works but then lost based on them is absurdly illogical.  And for that reason everything Paul said on Faith Alone proved Eternal security.  But as far as the Bible verses I use against those who insist they can be separated, there is really just one or two key things from Paul.  Frankly the strongest verses on specifically Eternal Security to me do come from what is often printed in Red.

Now, to begin.

These people like Catholics do not deny Faith is also needed, no one who doesn't believe in Jesus is gonna be saved by their good works.  They know Jesus said he is the only way in John 10.  So I won't be quoting every verse that mentions Faith.

I don't want to hear those people responding with talk about active ongoing belief vs one time moment belief.  Those semantics are used to deny Paul taught Faith Alone as Evangelicals understand it also.  Any verse where that interpretation of what belief means is plausible to me I won't be using.

John 3:14-18
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
 Perhaps people think my view of these verses are undermined by what follows about men who do evil deeds hating the Light, and those who know Truth being drawn to the light.  That discussion perhaps tells us something about what kinds of people become Believers, but not about Salvation itself.  Verse 19 is clearly meant to be a slight change in subject.

On the subject of specifically Eternal Security, no one has Eternal Life if that salvation was latter lost.  Which brings me to John 11:25-26
Jesus said unto her, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
Believing makes Death impossible, that is the plain reading of that statement.

John 10:28-30
I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.  I and my Father are one.
 John 17:12
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Now the first part of this verse is popular for those of us who believe in Eternal Security.  Those who believe Salvation can be lost feel the statement about Judas disproves Eternal Security.  Regardless of one's view on if Judas was ever truly Saved.  He is defined here as the absolute one and only exception. And it's part of fulfilling Scripture, he is the Idol Shepherd of Zechariah 11.

Verses from John used against Eternal Security or Faith Alone may include 4:36-37.  That is about earning rewards not Salvation.  Mostly they would be the verses that mention his Commandments.

Enemies of Faith Alone love John 14:15
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
First of all loving him is a work, he defined Loving God elsewhere as the greatest commandment.  There are I believe Saved people who during their walk fail to Love him adequately.   Similar statements are used from John's Epistles and I respond the same way, none say the person who doesn't Love him either never was or is no longer saved.

I'm more concerned with how this is used by Legalists to support using a rigid interpretation of Scripture to judge the validity of one's walk with God.  They ignore the context of what comes next.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
This is tied in with The Prophecy from Jeremiah we are reminded of in Hebrews. The Law is no longer written in Stone but on our Hearts by The Holy Spirit.  He gives us our commands now, and we should read Scripture because among other things that is part of how the Spirit communicates with us.  But God's intents for different people are different as Romans 14 and the various times Jesus did things on The Sabbath shows.  We are under the Law of Liberty.

Statements from Matthew tend to be what's most often used against Faith Alone.  Matthew perhaps does stress it the least of them in a sense, that is why we have more then one Gospel.  But what's used from Matthew against it is stuff that is meant to show the impossibility of earning Salvation.

The Sermon on The Mount makes God's Laws stricter then how many understood them.  But the point of the Sermon is in Chapter 5 verse 20.
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This is about the impossibility of earning Salvation by our own righteousness.  We are supposed to obtain it by Jesus righteousness.

Most uses of the word Saved in Matthew's Gospel are when talking about surviving Persecution, those verses aren't on Eternal Salvation yet enemies of Eternal Security as well as Calvinists continue to misuse them.

Matthew 7:21-23
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
 Verse 21 gets cited without what comes next to try and contradict Faith Alone.  Sometimes Faith Alone and Eternal Security advocates will out of laziness or brevity quotes 22-23 without the prior verse, then the critics of Faith Alone will complain about our "ignoring" the context of verse 21.

The way this is constructed clearly defined verses 22-23 as defining what is meant by verse 21.  The "Will of my Father" is clearly meant to be Knowing Jesus not doing good works.  On the subject of Eternal Security it's important to note all of these NEVER knew him, there is no acknowledgment of such a state as being one who formally knew him not being allowed into the Kingdom.

Now this "Jesus Words Only" movement will argue that because Iniquity in the Greek is Amonia which means Lawless that Jesus is describing Paulian Christians.  They are deemed Lawless because they choose to be judged by the works of The Law.  Paulian Christians, who believe Faith Alone and Eternal Security would never say "Lord, Lord, look what we've done", we would say "Lord Jesus, we Believed in you".

There is no getting around that these were people seeking to be judged by their works.  Whatever your view on the Old Testament Law, what these people were bragging about doing was what Jesus told followers to do.  Anyone trying to justify themselves by the Law will be deemed Lawless.

The references to "Outer Darkness" I've explained in another post.  It's not Hell or the Lake of Fire but being outside New Jerusalem in the New Creation in Revelation 21-22.

The Sheep and Goats Judgment in Matthew 25 is not about Eternal Destiny directly.  It's neither the Bema Judgment or White Throne Judgment, it defines itself as being when he returns to establish his Kingdom.

Those who were already Saved before this are neither the Sheep or Goats, they are his Brethren he is referring to.  The post Rapture Believers who were facing Persecution were the "least of his bretheren" since they were to late to be part of The Church, and are at this moment already Resurrected.

I don't think they include those that took the Mark either, those were killed at Armageddon.  This is simply those who managed to stay neutral all through the Revelation 13-19 period, they are getting a second chance based solely on how well they treated those who were Believers being persecuted.

Or maybe that view is wrong and it is the White Throne Judgment, still demands that the Brethren are separate from either group.  That it is framed as a parable shouldn't be forgotten.

Matthew 19:17 gets misused by many people, I've even seen it refereed to as an instruction to the Disciples which it was not.  In verse 16 the rich young ruler asks "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?", he asked the wrong question.  Jesus demonstrates how high the standard is to earn Eternal Life,
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, "Who then can be saved?"  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
This alone doesn't settle the matter of how Eternal Life is obtained.  This is similar to other incidents like with the Lawyer who we are told tried the justify himself, and the man Jesus rebukes for calling him Good when thinking he was only a man.

Matthew 20:21-22 isn't about Salvation, it's about being able to rule as Jesus right hand and left hand.  Not all of the Saved will co-rule with him.

Matthew 21:28-31 isn't really about works, that's merely an analogy in the parable.  It's about it not mattering if you do the Father's will right away or not.

The only thing unique to Mark really relevant to defining Soterology I addressed in my Baptism study.

Now to Luke, starting with Chapter 8 verses 12-15 where he explains the parable of the Sower.
Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.  But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
The word "Saved" is used only to describe the first category, which tells me there is something distinct to them about how that word related to them.  The popular thing is to interpret this as saying only the last category are truly Saved.  But I disagree, without using Paul to influence my interpretation at all.  Only the first group are categorized as not being Saved.

The next are those who Believe but Fall Away, Matthew 7 allowed no room for former believers among the damned, and John says Belief period gets you Eternal Life.  So yes I see this as proof that truly saved people can Fall Away but not that they lose their Salvation from it.

The third group are believers who don't fall away but are worldly.

Only the fourth bears Fruit.  They and they alone are those who will receive great Rewards and Co-Rule with Jesus in New Jerusalem.  But there are also Nations of The Saved outside New Jerusalem.

Luke 18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
Luke 7:50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Revelation is a coded book.  At face value it doesn't seem interested in Faith Alone, you have to understand what being written in the Book of Life means.

Now that I feel that is settled.  One more amusing thing, the main Jesus Words Only website also insists that Luke's account in Acts was ignorant of Paul's by Faith Alone doctrine or else Luke wouldn't have spoke so highly of Paul.  Acts 16:29-32
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."  And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
On an issue other then Faith Alone, they insist that Jesus contradicts the doctrine that Yahweh no longer lives in a Temple made by Man.  I suggest they read John 4.

Baptism and Baptists

Baptists are called Baptists because they are the Christians who try the hardest to practice and understand Baptism Biblically.  But even they slip up.

Even the ones who understand it's not needed for Salvation, have this issue where they add other requirements besides profession of faith for it.  Basically in response to others who Baptize everyone and everything without consent, many Baptists want to put all kinds of restrictions on Baptism.

Most even Independent Baptists require you to become a member of their Church (I don't think Churches should even have official membership lists), which in turn often requires an agreement (that they usually don't really try to enforce) to live by a bunch of rules.

Even if not requiring membership they feel that they have to ask all kinds of questions, to make sure you're ready for a Christian life.

Before things like Infant Baptisism became an issue these problems were popping up, The Didachae around 100 AD was saying you should fast for a day before Baptisim.

Let's look at Acts 8: starting in verse 36
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
No membership, no joining any earthly group.  No making sure he got various Doctrines right.  No asking him what he was willing to give up for Jesus.  No asking him how he intends to live his life.  He just asked him if he believed, and he believed, and that was it.

People also have this notion that Baptism is a public declaration of Faith in Jesus.  This wasn't Public, they were alone, no one else saw this.

John The Baptist alone Baptized people Publicly.  Paul defined John's Baptisim as distinct from the water baptism the Church practiced after Pentecost.

Acts 13:24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.  And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
Acts 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
Acts 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Lots of Baptists don't understand this, I'm kind of disturbed how often Baptists act like John not Jesus and the Disciples was the founder of their religion.  John is defined Biblically as the end of The Old Testament, not a beginning.

They think Apollos only needed to be Baptiszed again because it doesn't really count if you weren't Saved when you were Baptized before.  I think it is good to Rebaptize converts from other forms of Christianity.  But that isn't the point here, the emphasis was on it being of John rather then Jesus.

When we receive the Holy Spirit we are Baptized spiritually, not with Water.  The Water Baptism The Church does is mainly an outward symbol of that Baptism, as well as being "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:12.

A lot of Baptists seem really afraid of accidentally Baptizing someone who's not really Saved.  But why care?  All you did was waste some water.

As far as the error of thinking Baptism is necessary for Salvation.  There are really only two verses that doctrine is built on.

Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

The condition of those that Believe but aren't Baptized isn't addressed either way.  Clearly this verse alone doesn't settle the issue.  Some might argue that this means the salvation isn't secure until Baptism.  I think the reason Baptism is excluded from the second statement is to make clear that Baptism without belief doesn't Save.

Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

First of all, the Context of this being Pentecost and addressing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit tells me this isn't Water Baptism but the Baptism of The Holy Spirit.

Secondly, nothing said here makes it needed for Salvation, on Salvation he just said "all who call upon the name of The LORD".

I also feel many people added to The Church at this time were already Saved, I think a lot of the early mass conversations were merely bringing into The Church those already Saved.  Because I'm not and have never been the kind of Dispensationalist who thinks Salvation used to work differently.  Paul proved his doctrine of Salvation from The Old Testament, where Baptism never existed.  I disagree with the claim of some Hebrew Roots people who think it came from the Mikvah custom.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Are you not preaching the real Gospel if you're not offending people?

That is a popular notion among some "Conservative" Christians.  Like here.
If You're Not Offending Someone You're Not Preaching The Gospel

That article really doesn't use much Scripture to back up it's premise.  Luke 5:32 I feel is particularly misused there.  The intent there was clearly not to offend obvious sinners but those who thought they were righteous.

The people who were offended by what Jesus and Paul were preaching, were those who thought they were already believers in The God of The Bible.  The Jews in their various sects were the limit of that at the time, but now we have various forms of Christianity that are effectively the same things the Pharisees and Sadducees were, and many of them seem Evangelical.

Yes we are told we will be hated by The World, the Greek terminology there means more precisely the world System (ruled by Satan).  But this notion I've seen from some Baptist preachers that your not a real Believer if non-believers find you tolerable at all is not supported by Scripture.  Joseph was pretty good at making friends in Egypt, his problems there only came when one person liked him too much.

The people of Faith through out the Old Testament that became hated by heathens were not really hated for their faith.  Mordecai wouldn't bow down in-front of an ego-maniac, Daniel and his Friends were the object of envy because the King was fond of them.

Likewise in Acts 16 Paul got into trouble for depriving some greedy people of their cash cow.

Jesus had mixed receptions from Jews, but never once did a Greek or Roman dislike him, Pilate was flabbergasted how much the Priests and Pharisees wanted him dead.

Paul's sermon at Mars Hill in Acts 17 didn't outrage anyone.  Some laughed at it, some were curious, and some believed.  But none were offended.

Now back to the article I linked to.
Jesus didn’t seem to care about the rich young ruler’s feelings when he told him to sell everything and give it to the poor.
I'm really tired of people alluding to this incident from Matthew 19 without the proper context that he asked the wrong question.  That I will be talking about more in a future post.
Jesus didn’t seem to worry about offending the adulteress when he told her to go and sin no more.
I would respect citing this incident from John 8 more if it was about her accusers being possibly offended by realizing they were no better then her.   As for the Adulteress, the fact that he just saved her life pretty much guaranteed there would be no offense.  A good perspective on that line is here.
Jesus didn’t seem concerned about the Pharisee’s feelings when He called them a brood of vipers.
You see there is a theme here, the only people offended by Jesus were those who went around offending others.
Jesus didn’t give Nicodemus other options to being born again.
And Nicodemus was not offended by this, he was merely confused at first.
Jesus wasn’t worried about driving away the multitudes when He commanded them to eat His flesh and drink His blood.
The people who went away didn't understand his message here.

Of course the premise of this rant was that the Truth is offensive.  It will be to some people, but not all people, and it's often those who think they know The Bible but are blinded by tradition that find the Truth most offensive to their sensibilities.

Intricately linked to this is the idea that we shouldn't be afraid of offending LGBT people.  Even putting aside my disagreement with the traditional view of Homosexuality.  You can preach "All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God" without pointing fingers at any specific sins, and yes Id say the same about murder.  Give the message of Salvation, and once they have The Holy Spirit leave it up to the Spirit to direct them in what they do or do not need to change about their lives in their walk with God.

But some people think you have to "Repent" (thinking Repent always means turn from Sin) to be Saved.  That is an error that undermines Faith Alone just as much as denying Eternal Security does.

If the Gospel your Preaching has works in addition to Faith it might be offensive to many people

If the Gospel your Preaching requires repentance it might be offensive to many people

If the Gospel your preaching denies assurance of Salvation it might be offensive to many people.

If the Gospel your preaching says Salvation can be lost it might be offensive to many people

If the Gospel your preaching says not everyone is eligible for Salvation it might be offensive to many people.

But if the Gospel your Preaching is that Salvation is by Grace through Faith alone apart from works lest any should boast.  The only people offended will be those who want to boast.  Maybe the modern world has those people in larger numbers then Ancient times, I don't know.

If someone is offended that they might be be unable to qualify or because they think it's too difficult for them to do it, we've hindered The Gospel which is supposed to be that Salvation is easy, Jesus did all the work.  If your presenting that Gospel in a way that makes it seem offensive, you are doing a disservice to it.

 If someone is offended about the possibility of others getting into Heaven with them who did less then them, then yes it's Okay to offend those people.

My personal family experience is that my Catholic Father is far more offended by my Free Grace approach to Faith then my Neo-Pagan cousin.

Was Simon Peter of Rome really Simon Magus?

This is a follow up to my post where I discredit the Peter being n Rome tradition.

There is an hypothesis out there that Simon Magus's travel to Rome got confused with Peter, and he's the real founder of the Catholic Church via influencing men like Valentinius.  This theory is sometimes presented by people who still think Peter went to Rome.

The traditions of Peter's time in Rome connects him to Simon, the references to him arriving in 42 AD say he came there to oppose Simon Magus.  Some sources contradict the idea of Peter coming twice and list him as ruling Rome for 25 years, from 42-67.  Later apocryphal literature has Peter and Simon battling in Rome during the time of Nero.  It is curious that Peter's death is traditionally dated to 67 AD while the brief Persecution of Christians in Rome under Nero was in 64, right after the fire.

Jerome is the oldest source for Peter coming to Rome to oppose Simon, he's a post Constantine source.  Justin is the oldest source on Simon magus coming to Rome and doesn't mention Peter opposing him there.  Justin is older then any chief source on Peter coming to Rome at all.

One of the over looked implications of what Simon Magus tried to do in Acts 8 was to buy the office of Apostle.  When that failed perhaps he sought to make himself a false Apostle.

Josephus in Antiquities of The Jews Book 20 Chapter 7 discuses another Magus named Simon, who is linked to Antionus Felix and his marriage to Herod Agrippa II's sister Drusilla.  This Simon appears to be a Cypriot Jew rather then a Samaritan however.

Acts 13 has a False Prophet called Bar-Jesus encounter Paul in Cyprus, who is also called a Magus.  The use of that same word has occasionally caused speculation that he is Simon Magus, independent of the possible Josephus connection.  But I feel Luke would have made clear if this was the same man as Acts 8.  But Simon was a common enough name that it could be the same Magus as Josephus.

A different Josephus account in Book 18 of Pilate's removal includes a sort of False Messiah or False Prophet figure of the Samaritans who helped get them riled up, and who remains unnamed.
"The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there"

Acts 8:9-11 says of Simon Magus.  " But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries."

 The Samaritan chronicler Abul Fath mentions a sect headed by a R. Zadok which was tied to the heretic who claimed to be the “booth” or “booths” of the new Tabernacle. He speaks of “five brothers who from [the Samaritan holy mountain Gerizim] who were called [the Sons of Zadoq] and also another man called Zadoq the Elder from Bayt Far who deviated from “booths” and his companions, saying that Mount Gerizim is as holy as if the Samaritan temple were [still] standing upon it and that while one was obligated to do what was written [in the Law of Moses] he need not do what was not possible for him.” His community apparently “invoked him by the name mentioned [in the report of Booths] above, i.e. the Mediator, and agreed with [Booths] about abolishing … the rule of “Moses commanded for us a Law” [Deut 33:4]

I think, maybe these were the same individuals.  There are other reasons to view Acts 6-11 as being about 36/7 AD.  Wikipedia speculates that the martyrdom of Stephen must've been during the brief administration of Marcellus.  And Paul synchronizes the time of his Conversion to when Aretas controlled Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32).  Which he didn't before Caligula became Emperor.

Justin Martyr (in his Apologies, and in a lost work against heresies, which Irenaeus used as his main source) and Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses) record that after being cast out by the Apostles, Simon Magus came to Rome where, having joined to himself a profligate woman of the name of Helen, he gave out that it was he who appeared among the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father and among other nations as the Holy Spirit. He performed such miracles by magic acts during the reign of Claudius that he was regarded as a god and honored with a statue on the island in the Tiber which the two bridges cross, with the inscription Simoni Deo Sancto, "To Simon the Holy God".

Modern archaeologists have found a statue on the Island Justin describes.  It is actually to an obscure ancient Roman deity and reads Semoni Sanco Deo.  Scholars tend to assume Justin simply misread the statue.  But it could be Simon had sought to identify himself with that deity, or his followers did.

Justin says he also sought to be called The Father.  When Jesus said "Call no man father" the Greek text uses the word Pater.  That is one of the Greek words that is basically the same in Latin.  Jupiter means "Father Jove" (some scholars have sought to identify Semo Sancus as an early form of Jupiter).  The name Peter is actually Petros in Greek, and Pater is also sometimes Patros.  It's also possible that if Simon Magus ever called himself "Simon Piter" while in Rome, it could have been a source of confusion.

A number of traditions related to Simon in Rome say he was buried there, and that he was liked by Nero.  Those are possibly merely further embellishments of the same legends saying he was in conflict with Peter.  But if he did ever have Imperial connections, and was possibly made an honorary Pontiff (priests of Pagan Rome) he could have been buried in that same pagan cemetery where tradition says Peter's body was buried.

His heresy was Gnostic in nature, and as I've said elsewhere Catholic Dogma has a lot of Gnostic roots, especially their attitude toward Sex.  Gnosticism doesn't need the weird Cosmology that Simon and others taught, the root of it is viewing the Flesh as inherently evil and denying a bodily Resurrection.  His mistress Helen was given the Sofia role, his Queen of Heaven.

Simon Magus is considered the first Christian Gnostic (whether or not the less well known non-christian Gnostics already existed is heavily debated).  The next three figures usually cited in the history of Christian Gnosticism are Cerinthus, Valentinus and Marcion.  I am skeptical of how accurately the views of such figures are represented by their critics.  Marcion is considered debatable whether or not he was really a Gnostic.

Cerinthus we have the least biographical information on.  But he seems to be the only one of those three old enough for his life to have overlapped with the Apostolic era, since there is a legend about John fleeing a bath house he entered.  However I know of nothing linking him to Rome or Italy.

Valentinus lived from about 100-160 AD.  Valentinus was a candidate for the office of Bishop of Rome in 136 AD but lost out and then founded his own sect.  Reportedly he said his mentor was a Thaudes (not identified with anyone who has a similar name in The Bible) who claimed to be a student of Paul.  It might be he was being deceptive and was really a successor of Simon.

Question is if a man such as him could be a candidate and the competition wasn't that far off, could those who did became Bishops of Rome in this era really be much better?  The man who won out was Hyginus, who supposedly decreed that all churches be "consecrated" (not sure what he could have meant as there were no church buildings yet, possible he didn't really say this but it was attributed to him later).  The Liber Pontificalis also relates that he organized the hierarchy and established the order of ecclesiastical precedence.  He is also said to have been buried on Vatican Hill.

Where might Simon's ideas have come from?  Well he was a Samaritan.

The religion of Jeroboam was never a non Yahwhitic religion.  Ahab and Jezebel worshiped Baal but they were distinct from the usual religion of Jeroboam.  Jehoram and Jehu both continued the sins of Jeorboam and had Yahweh theophoric names.

Jeroboam erected two Idols that were Bull or Calf animals at Dan and Bethel.  Probably modeled after the Golden Calf from Exodus, who was identified by the people with the God who delivered them out of Egypt.  He worshiped Yahweh just in an idolatrous form.  He created a new Feast a month after Tabernacles.  And he created a non Levite Presithood, the Levites all went to Judah after he started his Idolatry.

After the Northern Kingdom was deported, many people from Mesopotamia were settled in the lands around Samaria and Shechem, and they brought their native Babylonian Idols with them.  Then a descendant of Jeroboam's priesthood was brought to them who restored the religion of Jeroboam.

Now the Samaritan community today does not have these idolatrous practices anymore, while still unbelievers from a Christian POV they have become a strictly Mosiac religion.  How did that happen?  Well Josiah destroying the Idol at Bethel no doubt helped, if you've studied Spiritual Warfare you know that Idols do develop demonic power over time from receiving worship that further draws people to them.  The reason they have an Aaronic Priesthood now is because as Josephus records in the time of Alexander The Great a brother of the current High Priest in Jerusalem married the daughter of the gentile Governor of Samaria and with Alexander's support built his own Temple on Mt Gerizim.

Some heretical sects did pop up among them however.  The Dositheans are speculated to have had Gnostic elements.  The Samaritan Chronicler Abu al-Fath says their founder Dositheos lived before the time of Alexander The Great, while others make him a contemporary of Ptolemy IV.  But many Christians traditions about him developed confusing and contradictory connections to Simon Magus.  Dositheos is not mentioned by Justin.

Hadrian also refereed to Samaritans falling into Idolatry in Alexandria.  Alexandria's Samaritan population like it's Jewish one goes back to it's founding.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Apostolic Fathers and the tradition of Peter in Rome

I've had a theme on this blog of addressing the error of appealing to the Church Fathers as an authority.  Whether doing so for or against Catholic dogma.

I want to talk specifically about the so called "Apostolic Fathers" these are often considered distinct from the other Church Fathers, they were supposedly the direct successors of The Apostles, the 2nd, 3rds and 4th of the various Bishoprics.

Their period is sometimes arbitrarily dated as ending in 125 AD.

There should be at least 20 (each of the 12 plus Paul, plus the half siblings of Jesus, plus Joseph of Arimathea and Nicdemus and Lazurus, and Cleopas, at the very least all held Apostolic rank, and that is with me reluctantly conceding to those who would deny the rank to the Female Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection) individuals to hold such a rank, but really a lot more since they each brought The Gospel to many cities, and founded many churches, and it can be shown Biblical church government was not originally monarchical.  There is also the 70 Disciples to consider.  There were actually 100s of people in the upper room at Pentacost.

But only a handful are preserved as having written or said anything for us to quote.  Since history is written by the winners, and it was the scribes of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions who decided what works to preserve, it's safe to assume that they were very selective.  Some of those other supposed successors we have traditions about, but not writings or sermons they preached.

Most of that handful we have are from being quoted by later Church Fathers. It's Clement of Rome and Ignatius alone who left significant writings behind that we still have, and of the many works attributed to Clement only First Clement (aka The Epistle of Clement to The Corinthians) is genuine.  And it's valid to question if those writings were even preserved accurately.  God promised to preserve his Word, not anything ever written by a Christian.

Other works affiliated with this era are unnamed authors like Shepherd of Hermas or the Didachae (which I glibly call the first Baptist Constitution).  The Didachae is often considered the oldest extra Biblical Christian writing.  It has nothing majorly objectionable, but does add to Scripture like saying you need to fast for a day before Baptism.  It doesn't seem to address Faith Alone or Eternal Security either way.

Of all the supposed Apostolic Fathers who left writings behind.  Only Clement of Rome is identified by tradition with a person named in the NT, the Clement Paul mentioned in Philippians.  Contrary to how Catholics try to twist it First Clement definitely teaches Salvation by Faith Alone, but doesn't address Eternal Security one way or the other.  But he's a problem because the whole motive behind the letter was thinking he had authority to tell the Corinthians what to do, the root of Papal authority was kind of there already.

Yet when he refers to Peter only once in the Epistle, he is very vague, and does not say where he was when he died or confirm him having been to Rome at all, or claim to be a successor of Peter or to have been appointed by Peter as Tertullian claimed Clement was.  He talks about Paul far more but doesn't confirm he was a student or associate directly of him either.

He also never mentioned Philipi or the Philippians.  So is this really the same Clement?  It was a not uncommon Roman name (Philipi was a city where everyone had Roman Citizenship).  Later Clementine traditions would seek to say he was Titus Flavius Clemens, a member of the Flavian family.  There is reason to suspect Titus Clemens might have become a Christian, but given his age and biography no way he was ever in Philipi, or prominent at all while Paul was alive.

Many Protestant and Evangelical Christians have grown accustomed to accepting the Catholic Tradition linking Peter to Rome.  Often arguing based on Irenaeus and the Apostolic Constitutions that it was Paul not Peter who appointed Linus to be Bishop of the Roman church.  But still believing Peter had been there.  I myself in the past had accepted it, saying based on Eusebius that Peter had came to Rome twice, in 42 AD and later in the 60s when he died.

Sometimes extra-Biblical traditions can seem universal but still be false.  Like the whole Nimrod masterminded Babel thing.

The oldest source on Peter in Rome is really the apocryphal Ascension of Isaiah, but that doesn't even name the one of the 12 it says Nero Martyrded.  The author could have considered Nero responsible simply for it being done by the Roman government, even if there was no direct personal involvement from Nero.  Andrew was traditionally held to be martyred in Achaia Greece, the city of Patrae in the northern Peloponnese, by the order of the Roman Governor.  Traditional date is November 30th 60 AD.

But also maybe the assumption that the Ascension of Isaiah was identifying Nero is wrong.  It never says anything about Rome, the main identifier with Nero besides supposedly killing one of the 12 is having killed his mother.  But certainly others throughout history have killed their mothers.  The Ascension of Isaiah is the product of a time when the trendy thing was to identify The Antichrist (who this killer of one of the 12 is supposed to be) as a Jewish False Messiah.  Also if the author wanted readers to think of Nero and Agrippina, the incest angle would have been much better to lead with.

The only one of the 12 who's martyrdom is documented in Scripture was James the Son of Zebedde.  He was killed by Herod Agrippa, there are reasons in Acts 12 to see Agrippa as a type of The Antichrist, especially if you have Ezekiel 28 in mind.

Agrippa's mother was Berenice, the daughter of Herod The Great's sister Salome.  We don't know what happened to her, she's last mentioned retiring to Rome well before her son becomes King.  Our main source on Agrippa's life is Jospehus who was a friend of his son Agirppa II and tended to portray Agrippa very positively.  If he had for some reason murdered his mother Josephus would have concealed it.  In the 2nd century other sources on the 1st century AD were around that haven't survived, like the other 3 of Philo's 5 books about Jewish persecutors contemporary with Caligula, and Justus who had an antagonist relationship with Josephus and Agrippa II.

I don't want to accuse Agrippa of anything, but it's highly possible a critic of the Agrippas like Justus could have slandered them.  And then that slander influenced the author of the Ascension of Isaiah.

But it could also simply be that the author meant something allegorical rather then literal with "Slayer of his Mother", like being a slayer of his own people.  If he had Gnostic heresies in mind (for or against them) he could have been thinking of the relationship between Sophia and the Ialdobath in Gnostic cosmologies.  It also certainly could be he meant this to allude to The Beast killing the Whore of Babylon in Revelation 17.

How did The Gospel come to Rome?

From The Bible, we know in Acts 2 some Jews who lived in Rome were present right at Pentecost, wouldn't surprise me if Priscilla and Aquilla were among those.  Later Cornelius was a Centurion from Italy, it's safe to say he wound up spending some time later back in Italy.  Rome didn't need an Apostolic mission to plant the initial seed of The Gospel there.

From Romans 16 we know Peter wasn't in Rome when Paul wrote to them.  Same with Paul's later Epistles written when he was in Rome and occasionally references people there with him, no Peter. Peter has still never left the Near East the last time we see him in Acts.

Romans 1:11 says that while there were Christians there The Church wasn't really established in Rome yet, and it was Paul's mission to go there and establish it.  In Romans 15 Paul said he wouldn't be building on another man's foundation.

In Galatians 2:11 Paul mentioned having an encounter with Peter in Antioch.  The Christians of Antioch had local traditions of Peter being their "first bishop" also.  In fact there were people in Antioch who claimed to be descended from Peter, in fact to this day certain families still claim it.  Peter like all of the 12 did have a wife and possibly children.

And then there is First Peter where he clearly says he was in Babylon.  I'm amused by those Protestants and Evangelicals who want to use the "Babylon is code for Rome" argument to back up their view of Revelation 17.  But the whole origin of that argument was made by the Catholic Church to twist 1 Peter 5:13 into supporting their tradition.  Rarely is it acknowledged that there is equally strong regional tradition among Mesopotamian Christians that he meant exactly what he said.

Some people will claim Peter called himself The Apostle to The Gentiles in Acts 15 and use that as evidence he clearly wouldn't have not gone to the capital of the world.  But in the KJV, I don't see that in Acts.  In 15:7 he refers back to the events of 10-11.  But in general the 12's mission was to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.  Matthias who replaced Judas went to Ethiopia where there were Jews.

"The gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)" (Gal. 2:7-8).  Another Galatians passage calls Cephas, John and James the Apostles of the Circumcision.

Recent investigations of Hellenistic Mesopotamian records have even challenged the view that Babylon shrank in the shadow of Seleucica during the Greeco-Roman period.  It was a city with many Jews and Gentiles.  Antioch too we know had a strong Jewish population.  And he wrote 1 Peter to areas in Turkey, and clearly refereed to the exiles of the dispersion (translated strangers in the KJV) those who were still scattered abroad from the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles.

In addition to the City of Babylon itself there were other Jewish populations in Mesopotamia, the city of Seleucica also had a Jewish Population.  As did Nisibis which is a key modern Kurdish capital.  As well as Edessa the capital of Osroene.  All three of those were among the ones were Jewish uprisings happened during the Kitos War decades later in the reign of Trajan.  There was also a Jewish kingdom in Mesopotamia at this time ruled by a proselyte, Adiabene, I don't know whether Peter's letter would have been written during the reign of Izates II or Monobaz II, but it was likely one of those.  Some have even speculated that it was specifically Christianity they converted to but that Josephus and the Talmud obscured that fact.

Rome had a Jewish population, but it was not nearly as significant.

Papias statement about the origin of Mark's Gospel does not mention Rome btw, that is just something constantly read into it when people have referenced it.  But even how Eusebius quotes it is unclear about where they were when Mark wrote it.

There is a rarely talked alternative fate for Peter's Body.

What I feel like noting is being buried on the Mount of Olives doesn't mean he died near there, Jewish Tradition has often said that is where the Resurrection will begin so being buried on the Mount of Olives is something many Jews have desired.  And it's importance in the New Testament means early Jewish Christians could have shared it.

But I find it unlikely that from Italy anyone would have risked trying to transport his body there.  There was always a risk traveling the Mediterranean Sea.  But from Antioch or Babylon I could find it being fairly plausible.  This also hurts the traditions about Lazurus, Martha and Mary of Bethany traveling to southern France, those were always late traditions.

Even a lot of the early sources that do support linking Peter to the Roman church fail to support the entirety of the traditional narrative.  Tetullian as I said before says Clement was appointed by Peter, unaware of Linus or Cletus it seems.  But he is also our oldest Christian source on Nero persecuting Christians, and doesn't mention Peter or Paul.  Eusebius was the first to say that both Peter and Paul were martyred by Nero.

In Tetullian's Apology quoted by Eusebius he doesn't mention Peter or Paul talking about Nero  He is cited as backing up the tradition with what he says in his Poscription Against Heretics 34.
"Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood; where Peter endures a passion like his Lord's; where Paul wins his crown in a death like John's[the Baptist]; where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile."
The problem is we know John's being plunged into oil according to every other source on it happened in Asia not Italy.  It looks like copiers may have corrupted something that was originally merely about Rome being responsible for martyrdoms.   It's really starting to seem to me like even Paul dying there is questionable.  First Clement says nothing of where Paul died, but says he took the Gospel to the extremity of the West.

Eusebius cites a Caius who worked for Bishop Zephyinus of Rome as referring to Apostles being buried on Vatican Hill.  The Vatican Hill was a cemetery of Rome's pagan priests, the idea that Peter or Paul would have been buried there is absurd.  Even Catholic sources admit it was a pagan cemetery.

"On the night of his death on the cross Peter’s followers BURIED his body. As in the case of Jesus on the hill of Calvary it was wrapped in linen  and secretly taken to a PAGAN BURIAL GROUND on the Via Cornelia, behind the stone structure of the arena. This PAGAN CEMETERY lay on a knoll called VATICANUS: the Latin word ‘vatis’ means a ‘prophet’ or ‘SOOTHSAYER’. In days gone by there had been an Etruscan oracle on this spot" (Keller’s comment – the official comment of the Roman Catholic Church p. 368).

In addition to Caius being likely an official propagandist for the Roman Bishop.  Eusebius says he said this disputing a Proclus who was advocating the "Phyrgian Hersey" which is what he called the Montanists.  So there were early Christians disputing this tradition.  I'm not sure how I feel about the Montanists, but dispute did exist Pre-Constantine about Peter being buried in Rome.  Phyrgia was in the region 1 Peter was written to, Asia, so they might have known more then most about where it came from.

It's also entirety on Eusebius word that Dionysus of Corinth (around 171) said what Eusebius says he said.  Dionysus is the earliest witness that Peter and Paul were in Rome together, something none of even the highly fictionalized and illogical Apocryphal acts of the Apostles claimed.

Peter being in Corinth however briefly is more Bibliclally supportable then being in Rome, Given how he comes up in the Corinthian Epistles.  But even that is unclear.

Another early source on Peter in Rome  (but later then Dionysus or Caius) was Lactantius.  His account of it is awkwardly expressed.

Hippolytus of Rome was a Bishop of Rome, so he had a clear bias for wanting to promote such a false idea.

Also Justin Martyr was the first to mention Simon Magus going to Rome and he doesn't mention Peter being there at the time.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Doctrine of The Nicolaitanes

Was not named after a man called Nicolas.  The Nicolas of Acts 6 is mentioned in a positive context.  We don't need to go outside scripture to determine what this doctrine was, it's deduced from the etymology of the name.

Nico-, combinatory form of nīko, means "victory" in Greek, and laos means "people", or more specifically, "the laity"; hence, the word may be taken to mean "lay conquerors" or "conquerors of the lay people".

The name Balaam is perhaps capable of being interpreted as a Hebrew equivalent.  Balaam means "lord of the people".

It was early Church Fathers who were guilty of this sin like Victorinus of Pettau,  Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret who started claiming the name came from a person called Nicolas, and sought to identify it with various views they didn't like, particularity some form of "Antimonianism".

There are people out there who want to deny that the Pre-Nicean fathers were guilty of this.  JesusWordsOnly (which wants to label Paul a heretic) says it was only in Rome that monarchical church hierarchy existed prior to Constantine.  Their documentation that the the church services during this period didn't revolve around sermons is interesting to me as a House Church advocate.  But that is irrelevant to this issue.  Terullian (one of their favorites as he was blatantly Hostile to Paul in Against Marcion) clearly believed in the Heresy of Apostolic succession.  In Perscripiton Against Heretics Chapter 32.
"Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed."
Their claim that Paul supported Hierarchical Church Structure I believe is false.

So this website wants to blame Paul for hierarchical and monarchical church structure.  Yet they believe it only caught on in Rome.  Not in Asia Minor and Greece where he founded countless churches..

Some sources make it seem like in Asia Minor the churches founded by John had multiple elders and one bishop, while the ones founded by Paul had multiple elders who were all bishops.

Their premise is dependent on saying the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes only caught on in Rome, not in the Eastern Churches where they are specifically refereed to in Revelation.

In the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3, this heresy is brought up in two of them,  Only the church in Ephesus is commended for totally rejecting it (which happens to also be the one of the Seven with the strongest ties to Paul, being visited by Paul in Acts and the recipient of one of his epistles).

Only Pergamos is condemned for having them, but Pergomas is not one of the two worst over all, nor is Ephesus one of the two best, so your position on this doctrine is not the be all end all of being a good church.

Why is it seemingly irrelevant to the other five?  I have a hypothesis.  Let's use HIV as an allegory for the Nicolatian heresy. Only Ephesus was HIV Negative, completely free of it.  Only Pergamos had full blown Aids.  But the other five all had the illness to some degree, maybe in some it was more benign then others.

The Jesus Words Only movement is also an enemy of both Faith Alone and Eternal Security.  It's refreshing to see an enemy of Eternal Security admit Paul taught it.  And he doesn't even question Paulian Authorship of select Epistles (Besides Hebrews which they say based on their reverence for Tertullian was Barnabas).

This desire to blame the evil of organized religion and Eternal Security on the same source is totally illogical.  Just imagine a power hungry Pastor trying to pound into his flock a belief that they must be obedient and submissive to his pastoral authority to be right with God.  But he also teaches that no matter what they won't lose their salvation.  Wow, that'll sure keep em in line.  Many Pastors do do that, to me that just shows that you can get salvation right and still be wrong in other areas.  But the two notions do not logically go together.

Calvinists and Augustine and others who say Salvation can't be lost but don't teach assurance of Salvation, or "if you're really saved you won't".  That belief has the exact same effect on a believer as thinking Salvation is by works or can be lost, it's just a matter of semantics.

But this website thinks Paul taught Calivnism, apparently so did Tertullian, and maybe Marcion (I'm skeptical of just how accurately Marcion's critics presented his doctrine).  Paul refereed to "Predestination" but not the Calvinist understanding of it.  Paul clarified we are Predestined by the Foreknowledge of God in Romans 8:29, consistent with Peter in Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2.

Paul taught in his depiction of the Bema Judgment in Corinthians that some will receive no Rewards but still be saved.  It's clear elsewhere he considered not sinning one of those rewards.  He refereed to being afraid of losing his own rewards.  His response to Antimonian attitudes in 1 Corinthians 6 and Hebrews 6 was to warn of a loss of Inheritance, which Revelation 21-22 also alludes to, not all the Saved are in New Jerusalem, that is the Outer Darkness of Matthew.  Laodicea's problem was not a belief that Salvation couldn't be lost but a belief that their Reward couldn't be lost.  Romans 4 refers to him that worketh not but is still saved.

None of that is good for the 5th point of Calvinism, it's all material that Calvin and his followers are uncomfortable with and tend to avoid.  Everything people use to try and make it seem like Paul didn't teach Eternal Security, does prove he didn't teach Calvinism.

There is perhaps a variation of the fifth point that says it's only actual Apostasy a saved person can't commit.  Apostasy means "falling away", that's the term in Greek every time you see that phrase in the KJV of the New Testament.  I feel no matter which NT author is using it it's illogical to suggest any fake believer truly qualifies as apostasy.  So the existence of the term means it can happen.  Paul predicted it in II Thessalonians 2.  The issue is can you lose salvation from it?  Surely Paul doesn't think so.  But you can lose your inheritance.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marriage Licence vs Marriage Covenant

A few of the the Christians out there who are advocating that Christians stop getting Marriage licencees, like I believe.  Still advise  Christians to document the marriage with a certificate signed by the couple and two witnesses, in case legal proof of the marriage is needed later.

They say the State should not give permission to marry, but does have authority over marriage in cases of divorce and adultery.  And then decry that the state today allows divorce for any reason and doesn't punish adultery as a crime.  And one calls for the state to make "sodomy" illegal to solve the Gay Marriage "problem".

I just talked about why there was civil authority over marriage in the Old Testament and why that's invalid under the New Testament.

These people are only talking about how the modern concept of legal marriage developed only since the 1800s, how the marriage license was originally only for giving permission for "interracial" marriages which were originally illegal.  But not willing to address that maybe Traditional Christianity went wrong waaaay before that.

Even the "Pastor" or whatever you want to call that office is not an appropriate third party to bring in.  No spiritual leader presides over the marriages in Genesis 2 or Revelation 19.  Even when under the Law of Moses, you never heard of a Priest or Levite or Prophet having marrying two people together as one of their responsibilities.  And it's certainly not covered in the Pastoral Epistles or any of Paul's teachings on marriage.

Don't put your Marriage on paper at all, paper is as worthless as the federal reserve notes printed on it.

The only Biblical Requirement for Marriage is for the Man and the Woman to agree to be married, to make a commitment to one another.

As for divorce,

First, Christians should not get divorced, the one excuse Jesus theoretically allows when debating with the Pharisees under the Law of Moses (prostitution), is still for Christians invalidated by our command to forgive.

Second, if the state wasn't involved in starting the marriage, why are they needed to end it?

As for Adultery, the punishment for Adultery under the Old Covenant was death, which is done away with under The New Covenant in John 8.

Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6 and some other places talk about how Christians should resolve disputes among ourselves, within The Church.  No third party, the state included, should be brought into it.  Based on this many evangelicals agree it's a Sin for Christians to ever sue each other.  I don't know why people have trouble realizing that that should include marriage disputes.

BTW, I don't even think Christian women should change their names.  The Family Name concept wasn't really in Biblical Culture, you were just refereed to as a relative of someone or from a certain town, or by profession, to distinguish you from others with the same name.  And besides that the woman's identifier being the one to change reflects the women as property aspect we should reject under the New Covenant.

If you feel called by The Holy Spirit to change your name or give yourself an additional name to reflect being a new creature in Christ, which there is much Biblical precedent for, that can be done legally for males and females.  But marriage isn't a reason to do that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's talk about the office of Pastor

Mostly as it's understood by Independent Baptist and sometimes Pentecostal forms of Christianity.  Who are in different ways the closest to being Biblically accurate on the nature of The Church as well as the local church.

I did a post in the past defending Female Pastors.  I stand by my main points there, but my views on the nature of the office have progressed somewhat as I've further studied The Word, and are still progressing really.

The Pastor who I don't like to name said some things in a few of his sermons I viewed recently that interest me.

1. He says in The KJV only three words ever refer to the office of Pastor.  Pastor (obviously), Bishop, and Elder.  Others however certainly see other NT terms as potential synonyms for the office of Pastor.

2. None of three titles is ever applied to Paul, so Paul never was a Pastor, he started Churches and then appointed other Bishops over them.  My post on Women Pastors had assumed Paul to be a Pastor, so that is interesting.

3. Deacon in The Bible doesn't mean what most Churches today use the word for (which he says shouldn't exist), Deacons were the Assistant Pastors.

Some, not all, but some in the House Church movement have been saying the Office of Pastor should be abolished and isn't really Biblical at all.  I'm not sure I entirely agree with that, in-spite of my disdain for organized religion in any form.

But I have grown annoyed at seeing certain Independent Baptist Pastors (even some within the House Church Movement), who greatly over emphasize the "authority" of the Pastor.  Making it sound a lot like to them the local church is supposed to be a dictatorship ruled by The Pastor.  It becomes just another variation on the doctrine of the Nicolatians (victory over the lay people).

The first New Testament office I want to address is Apostle.  I'm a continuationist on the issue of the Spiritual Gifts.  But The Apostle is one NT office that did end with the first Generation.  It refers to the Eye Witnesses of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1) of whom Paul defined himself as the last (1 Corinthians 15:9).

It is starting to seem to me like this view of Pastoral authority has been built up by merging various New Testament offices (or callings as I'd rather call them) together. But it is possible for more then one such calling to apply to one person.  At the very least the different words refer to different aspects of the Pastor's responsibility.

The word Pastor itself as the usual default among Baptists is perhaps an unfortunate misnomer.  The word is used in the KJV only once, in Ephesians 4:11, a verse that lists numerous offices or callings.  At least one other word there has been used as a synonym for the office of Pastor, Prophet.

Prophecy and Prophet in The Bible is not just about predictions of the future, it's proclaiming the word of God.  So any Preacher is a Prophet. But I also feel strongly from Corinthians that the head(s) of a congregations should not be the only people to Prophecy.

The only 3 times you see "Preacher" in the KJV of the New Testament it's a Greek word that means herald.  One time it's referring to an Old Testament figure, Noah in Peter's Epistles.  In the Epistles to Timothy Paul twice calls himself a Preacher of The Gospel.  Preach, preached, and preaching are sometimes the verb form of that noun, but the verb form of the noun translated Gospel is also translated that way.  As well as the noun translated Evangelist, another title used in Ephesians 4:11.

Every Christian should be an Evangelist to an extent, the Great Commission is for us all.  But we don't all have the ability or the calling to dedicate our lives to traveling to bring the Gospel to new regions like Paul did.

The word translated Pastor is very similar to words translated Shepherd elsewhere (Strongs treats it as the same word, but it has a unique distinct spelling in the Greek text).  But also similar to words for flock. No other Bible verse justifies making any member of The Body a Shepherd, Jesus makes clear in John 10:16 he is the only Shepherd of his flock, Jesus doesn't need "under shepherds".  Hebrew 13:20 included.

The grammar in Ephesians 4:11 pairs Pastors and Teachers together in a way that isn't done with the others.  Sometimes in a flock the more well trained sheep help keep the others inline by setting an example.  Perhaps that is all the word translated Pastor means.  Teaching by example.

Teacher here does not mean the modern notion of a Teacher, nothing in The Bible ever approved of the modern notion of school.  Tutor might be more accurate.

Elder is not always used as a title of a special office at all.  Sometimes it just means an older or more experienced person. Anyone entrusted with a leadership position should be an elder certainly, so it does seem to be a synonym sometimes.

Bishop is the least popular KJV word among KJV only believers.  Since we feel what it means has been completely corrupted by the Catholics and Orhtodox and Anglicans.

The Greek word means overseer, and the KJV does also translate it Overseer in Acts 20:28.

Even some Evangelicals (who support the idea of denominations above the local church) will insist Overseer refers not to the local "Pastor" but to a higher rank that over sees "pastors".

I believe the word, when used of Christians (It is used of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:25), refers to the person who over sees the church service, when the believers gather together, to make sure things go orderly and isn't complete anarchy.  It may be that it was not meant to come with the assumption that they also Preach or Prophecy during a service.

1 Timothy 3 gives the Deacon largely the same instructions as the Bishop.  That might explain why some have interpreted it to mean an "assistant pastor".  As well as Philippians 1:1.

Another word used as a synonym for what we perceive the "Pastor" to be is Minister.  Minister (as a noun) in the KJV comes from the same word translated deacon.  It's also translated sometimes servant.  The verbs minister, and ministry and ministered are from the same Greek roots.

Phebe in Romans 16:1 is a deaconess in the Greek.

The word translated "rule over" in 1 Timothy 5:17 (and used of Phebe in Romans 16:2) means to stand before, to attend to like a caretaker.  1 Peter 5:3 tells the Elders not to be lords over God's heritage.

Matthew 20:25-27
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:"
Matthew 23:8-11
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Many even Independent Baptists still feel you can't start a church on your own, a "Pastor" has to be appointed by another "Pastor".  And I also see lots of people attacking controversial famous pastors by asking what seminary they attended and what their credentials are.

Matthew 21:23
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?"
 And Jesus answered and said unto them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.  The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?"
 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?  But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet."
 And they answered Jesus, and said, "We cannot tell". And he said unto them, "Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things".
The Authority of any Christian to do what The Holy Spirit wants them to do comes solely from The Holy Spirit.

There are Overseers and Deacons appointed by others in the New Testament era, these were all by Apostles, a rank we don't have anymore.  I think even Timothy and Titus were possibly witnesses of The Resurrection.

The different congregations are told to appoint elders or overseers over themselves.  Which implies an election of sorts.

1 Corinthians 12:28
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
There are no Apostles anymore, they were the Author's of The New Testament so we don't need them anymore having The Bible.

The word translated "governments" there most literally means directorship, which is a good synonym for Overseer.

That verse isn't listing how they are ranked, in any kind of hierarchy, just the order God gave them.  Because we don't see anyone besides the 12 being appointed offices till Acts 6, which I date 6-7 years after Pentecost.  By then The Apostles had already served as Prophets and performed Miracles.
Paul goes on to explain no Believer is all of those things, but I feel some can be more then one.

The Overseer should organize the service.  But it shouldn't be only one person who Preaches or Prophecies or Testifies.  The Prophets should proclaim God's Word.  The Elders should offer advice and lead by example.  But no one has the authority to bud into other people's lives, or question how they run their families.

Some have argued that having only one "Pastor" or Overseer is wrong.  The beginning of Church Government is again in Acts 6, and that was one single congregation, they appointed seven leaders, all are presented as the same rank but  Stephen seems to have some seniority.

Titus 1:5-7 is seen as supporting seeing Elder and "Bishop" as synonyms, but I don't quite see that as proof.  I could also point out that "Elders" is how The Gospels and Acts most commonly refers to the Sanhedrin, and that the word Senate in origin most commonly means a council of Elders.  Throughout the Old Testament the term Elders is frequently used to refer local leadership of various cities.

Here is an interesting article I don't entirely agree with.  Also this.

I don't think there needs to be a universal rule for how each local church should be organized.  It seems from some early sources about the churches in Asia Minor, the ones founded by John tended to have multiple Elders and one Bishop, while the ones founded by Paul tended to have multiple Elders who were all Bishops.  But church structure shouldn't be oligarchical or monarchical.  All the leadership should be servants, and if there is a single leader among the leadership he should be merely a first among equals, or a spokesperson for the group.

Now the Pastor who I do not name, was doing this sermon for the point of condemning those who say the "Pastor" or Bishop or Elder shouldn't be paid.  He points out that Paul was never called a Bishop to diminish Paul's lack of being paid as an example.  But what Paul explains is that one reason he doesn't wanna get paid in this life is it'll take away from his rewards in the next life.

Here is the thing, the main Paul passage cited in support of paid Bishops, First Corinthians 9, never mentioned Bishop or Elder or "Pastor" at all.  The people Paul is talking about are clearly those serving the same role as himself, spreading the Gospel, which would be Evangelists.  He says it's not wrong for them to be paid, especially the ones who unlike him have a wife and kids to support, they have a right to be.  But he also says it hinders the Gospel when one is getting paid.

I Timothy 5:17-18 also refers to elders who are preaching (which Biblically refers to Evangelizing as I pointed out above) and teaching receiving wages, not to anyone overseeing or prophesying in church.  The stuff Jesus says in The Gospels quoted in support of being paid is also about Evangelizing.

A traveling Evangelist is not a member of a fixed local congregation who supports each other, that's why he and he alone of the New Testament Church offices may be in need of a salary.  But it's also better if he can manage to do it without.

I don't think there is any absolute rule one way or the other if the Elders, or Overseers or Deacons should be paid.  Each church should decide between themselves guided by The Holy Spirit how to use the money that comes into the collection plate.

What I do know is it's unBiblical for New Testament churches to demand Tithing.  Tithing was a Tax, it was part of the Old Testament system needed to support The Temple and the Levite cities.  Under the New Testament we're are told to give as the Spirit Leads us, Tithing only comes up in a few of Jesus parables where it serves an allegorical purpose.

One shouldn't forget however that the Early Churches were essentially communes, everyone shared their wealth.

There is no Marriage Ritual ordained in The Bible

Think about that for a minute.

The Torah has laws related to marriage.  And has lots of rituals laid out to be performed.  But no Marriage ritual.

People talking about The Church as The Bride of Christ doctrine talk a lot about the "Jewish Wedding" but this Jewish wedding is never laid out in Scripture.  It seems to have developed by New Testament times and therefore was maybe in the minds of some New Testament authors for certain statements.  But that would make it canonical no more then any other Extra-Biblical writings alluded to in the New Testament, like the many Pagan Greek writers Paul showed familiarity with.

Revelation 19,  has no wedding ceremony.  We are told it is time for The Lamb's Marriage.  Then there is a marriage supper to celebrate it, but no ceremony.

In Genesis 29 Jacob was married back in the country Abraham was told to leave, the Jews didn't have their own nation and laws yet.  Yet even there, there is only a feast, no ceremony with vow saying.

That's interesting to think about in light of the origin and destiny of Marriage in The Bible.

Now under the Law of Moses marriage certainly wasn't like how it is for Tolkien's fictional Elves, where Heterosexual potentially reproductive Intercourse and Marriage are the same thing.

But there is no evidence the NT Christians didn't do it somewhat like that.  Jesus said a Husband and Wife become "one flesh" and lots of people interpret that terminology as if it were about sex rather then marriage.

The end of Genesis 24 has Isaac and Rebecca consummating their relationship as soon as they meet.  And Adam and Eve certainly never had a formal marriage.

Also Hagar, Bilhah and Zilhah are all refereed to as becoming wives as soon as Abraham or Jacob "knew" them.

In The State, The Church and Marriage, I mentioned how I could talk about how "Legal Marriage" in the Law of Moses was different then Legal Marriage in the modern Western World but chose not in light of a greater point.  I will explain it here.

The Law of Moses was Imperfect.  It tolerated certain things not part of God's will that Man wasn't ready to abandon.  Among those things was Slavery.

The "legal marriage" practiced in Ancient Israel and the Near East was effectively slavery.  It was based on seeing women as property, as an asset.  Legal Marriage was how one family bought a woman from another.  Now you'll find a lot written on Apologetics websites about how women had more rights under the Law of Moses then they did in other ancient Near Eastern cultures, and that is all valid.

But the fact remains the Law of Moses still acknowledges that system, that's why the fathers of brides are constantly getting paid money.  That's why there was no ritual in-spite of the legal status, the marriage was legal when the financial transaction was complete.

The aspects of The Law and even secular customs that imply the woman to be property are implied in passages about The Church as the Bride of Christ only because Jesus shed his Blood to purchase us from The World.  Now that we belong to Christ we are not bound to such barbaric worldly customs as "legal" marriage.  The Marriage of Genesis 3 is done away with, only the Marriage of Genesis 2 still stands.

And the Greco-Roman world still saw Marriage that way, just without the tolerance of Polygamy the OT had and NT not as much. That's the only reason the Greeks never had Gay Marriage for the same sex relationships that were accepted in their culture, and none of those Gay/Bi men had a problem with it.  If a Man with wealth and/or property wanted to legally give his male lover legal rights to his wealth or property, he did it by adopting him.

That is why no where in Paul's statements about how Christian Marriage should work does he recommend going to get legally married by the local Greek or Roman authorities.  Because under the New Covenant the separation of the Genders is over just as the separation of Jews and Gentiles is over.

The only Biblical Requirement for Marriage is for the Man and the Woman to agree to be married, to make a commitment to one another.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Judaizers are not the only Legalists

So I watched a sermon from the pastor I don't like to name, where he was defending Christmas.  I agree essentially with what he was saying.  But he then went on to condemn celebrating Jewish Holy Days.

This reminded me of stuff I already covered slightly.

I know there is a Hebrew Roots movement out there calling for trying to put Christians back under the Law, and that is wrong.

But we also have counter to that a new kind of Legalisim, that says no matter what the reason it's a sin period for a Christian to be Circumscribed, or follow the dietary laws, or keep the Sabbath, or observe Jewish Holy Days.  All the passages they are drawing on for this are about Judiazers.

It's wrong to teach you need to follow The Law to obtain Salvation, or to keep Salvation or to prove Salvation.  Or in my view even that it's needed to lead a good obedient rewarding Christina Life.  The Law is written on our Hearts now, it's between each individual and The Holy Spirit how he lives.

He started his Christmas sermon with Romans 14, I love Romans 14.  But he pretty much makes it sound like the specific context of Romans 14 is about Vegetarianism.  It's not, Romans 14 like most of what Paul was dealing with in Romans came down to disputes between the Jewish and Gentile Christians living in Rome.  It's about the dietary laws, he is saying it's ok to eat non kosher foods, and also ok not to.  But if EITHER side tries to judge the other that is wrong.

Colossians 2:16 is often misused.  "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:"  It's saying let no one Judge you concerning them, but it gets taken as saying it's bad to observe them.

Zachariah 14 and Ezekiel 45 both show that the Holy Days and the Sabbath will be apart of the future when Jesus Reigns on Earth.  And I believe Ezekiel 40-48 is the New Creation not the Millennium.

Jesus we know during His life kept the Passover and Tabernacles, and Hanukkah.  No matter what your excuse, no matter what your view on The Law or dispensations is.  To say it's a Sin to do something Jesus did is absurd.

Now I also think it's wrong to require people to do anything Jesus did, especially for Salvation.  He lived a perfectly Sinless life FOR US so we don't have to.  But he did nothing that can be considered a Sin.

Acts references numerous times the Early Church observed Old Covenant customs.  I've spoken elsewhere against the Sunday replacing The Sabbath myth.

Also right after the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 Paul goes and gets one of his new gentile converts circumcised.  Now that gets abused by Rob Skiba to say you don't need circumcision for Salvation but you still need to do it to obey God.  That is wrong, but it does show if someone wanted to purely for like it's health benefits to be circumscribed Paul was not gonna throw everything he said in Galatians at them.

This Pastor says that any holiday he celebrates is going to be about Jesus (though elsewhere in the Sermon he offhandedly mocks those calling Thanksgiving bad).

Messianic Jews and other Christians who keep the Jewish Holy Days make them about how they point to Jesus and The New Testament.  Because all Scripture points to Jesus.

During the Passover Seder they draw on how Jesus is the Passover Lamb, and tie that into Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, and I think Esther is more relevant to Passover then people realize.  And of course they quote from The Last Supper.  On First Fruits they are reminded how Paul called Jesus our First Fruits.  On Shavout they talk about Acts 2 and the end of Joel 2, to me Revelation 6 and 7 should also be thrown in.

Basically the Nisan Holy Days are when we should be observing the "Easter" Holy Week, and the Feats of Weeks (Shavout) when we should observe Pentacost, (Karaite reckoning rather then Rabbinic) as opposed to the convoluted Catholic reckoning.  Still I would not call it a Sin to observe them on the Catholic dates (or Rabbinic reckoning, or the Samaritan one for that matter), since we're not bound by the Law at all anyway, commemorating the Passion is good even if it's not actually on the right day.  But the Pagan traditions that filtered into it (including the name "Easter" itself, we should call it Resurrection Sunday and/or First Fruits) like the Bunny and the Eggs I would recommend dropping.

If one wants to adapt them to our modern Solar Calendar for convenience sake but not using the Catholic method.  First I'd say still begin each day the previous Sunset.

My recommendation would be to have April 6th (or the Thursday closest to it) function as the 14th of Nisan, with the previous Sunday (or April 2nd) as Palm Sunday/The Triumphal Entry and the following Sunday as Resurrection Sunday/First Fruits.  Then the Sunday 7 weeks from First Fruits would be Pentecost and the Thursday a week and a half before that Ascension Thursday.  And if you wanna do something for Second Passover that'd be May 6th.  March 6th would be the fast of Esther, the 7th and 8th would be Purim and the 10th Yom Adar.  And the New Year would be March 24th.  And the last day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 21) would be April 13th.

An alternative method would be to make Nisan 14 equal March 25th and Nisan 17 equal March 25th, I actually like using those days for The Annunciation and the Visitation.  Along with June 24th or 25th for the Birth of John The Baptist and the Summer Solstice for the marriage of Mary and Joseph.

If one wants a similar adaptation to our Calendar for the Tishri Holy Days.  Simply having September equal Tishri can be convenient, since September literally means 7th month.  But if you want Hanukkah to fall on Christmas then you'd rather have October be Tishri.  People who support a September 11th 3 BC birth of Jesus have reason to make that day the first of Tishri.  I however believe between the Yom Kippur and Tabernacles following that is when John The Baptist was conceived (Sunset September 20th to Sunset September 24th).  I have an eschatological hypothesis that involves Yom Teruh being Sunset September 25th to sunset September 26th in 2033 AD.

The Fall Feast Days tend to be viewed as Eschatological in how they apply to Jesus.  I think The Rapture is very relevant to the Feast of Trumpets and maybe also Yom Kippur.  The 7th Trumpet will sound on Tishri 1st I believe, and Yom Kippur may be the Bema Judgment as well as much later the White Throne Judgment, and I see Tabernacles as when New Jerusalem will descend.

But Tabernacles could also be just a good excuse to read John 7, and I think 8, 9 and the beginning of 10 were on Tishri 22.  I also think the First of Tishi was when the Star of Bethlehem was first observed, But the Magi arrived in Jerusalem a year and three months later.  I think Yom Kippur is possibly the day Gabriel appeared to Zachariah.  But at the very least it's a great time to talk about the significance of The Veil being torn when Jesus was on The Cross.  Many of course look to the Tishri Holy Days for the Birth of Jesus, but I don't anymore.

Some also think the Transfiguration happened on Tabernacles, I do not believe that chronologically works.  But seeing a thematic connection to Tabernacles is still valid.

Purim can be used as a great time to show how the Book of Esther points to Jesus.  Mordecai was honored and Haman hanged on the 17th of Nisan, the same day as The Resurrection.  And I've talked about the significance in Haman and his sons technically dying the same way Jesus did.

Of course he doubles down on Hanukkah saying it isn't even ordained in the Old Testament.  I have refuted that notion elsewhere too.

How does one make Hanukkah about Jesus?  Those who say Jesus was born on a Fall Feast Day often place his Conception during Hanukkah (first of Tevet most likely) making that the time of the Annunciation and Visitation, I supported that in the past but not anymore.  Some who are among the minority defending the traditional date for Christmas think Jesus was born during Hanukkah.  I however have argued that the December 25th Jesus was born on was late in Tevet.  That would make it one of those years where Hanukkah fell near Thanksgiving.  There is evidence the early origin of Thanksgiving (which was not originally in November) was The Pilgrims observing a form of Tabernacles.  And Hanukkah has been called a sort of Second Tabernacles based on 2 Maccabees 10:1-8.  1 Maccabees 4:44-59 does talk about "Sacrifices and Thanksgivings" being offered in some translations.

At the very least Hanukkah can be a good excuse to get people to read John 10.  Many also seeing how it revolves around The Menorah (being often called The Festival of Lights) as a good time to talk about all the New Testament symbolism it has, the 7 Lamp stands surrounding The Throne in Revelation 4, the Seven Fold Spirit.  As well as Jesus being the Light of The World.

Hanukkah is about history that we know is a type of the End Times, Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of The Antichrist.  So it's a good prompter to studying Bible Prophecy.

Oh, that's right, this Pastor had in another Sermon ranted on how he rejects the notion of Antiochus Epiphanes having anything to do with Daniel, people like him are the straw-man Preterists cling to to make all Futurists look bad.

His logic was that you shouldn't have to read anything else to understand The Bible.  Only The Bible is God's Word, but part of the purpose of Prophecy is to authenticate God's Word, therefore proving from secular historical documentation that Bible Prophecies have been fulfilled is vital.

But showing his hypocrisy again he brings his understanding of New World Order conspiracy theories into his view of Bible Prophecy, a lot of extra Biblical sources are needed to make that work.