Apologetics

Pastor Bob Preaches From The Word
By Steve Ray

Josh left Sunday services full of excitement, anxious to discuss Pastor Bob’s sermon with his sister Jennifer who had recently converted to the Catholic Church. The pastor had explained how salvation was by “faith alone” and not by rituals and works. He was anxious to discuss this with his sister; he was irked by her conversion to the “traditions of men” and “salvation by rituals.” How could she leave a Bible-believing Church to join the Catholics? Armed with Pastor Bob’s verses, he met his sister for lunch.

After ordering grilled salmon, Josh got right to the point. “Sis, I am dismayed that you have abandoned the Bible to follow Rome. Last Sunday Pastor Bob preached about Baptism right straight from the Word of God. I wish you could have heard him.” Jennifer smiled. Josh continued, “He showed how the Catholic Church ignores the Word of God.”

Josh pulled out his black leather Bible. “Baptism does not save you, Sis. Look at this verse.” After quite a few verses he turned to Genesis 15:6 which said that ‘Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness’. “Where do you see anything about Baptism?” After listening patiently for a while Jennifer interrupted the litany of out-of-context proof texts with a sisterly word of advice.

“You know Josh, you flip through that Bible with very little regard for the context. You treat the Bible as though it were a book of numbered quotations randomly collected and unrelated to each other. Did you know that the chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original text of Scripture?” Josh was more interested in finding the next verse than in listening to Jennifer.

“Remember Josh, even in Hebrews, when quoting the Old Testament the writer says that “one has testified somewhere, saying” (e.g., Heb 2:6) because there was no easy way of refer to the passage. The Old Testament Scriptures were written on huge scrolls that had to be unrolled-just straight text with no divisions. The New Testament writings were handwritten on papyrus or parchment. For more than 1500 years verse divisions, which we take for granted, did not exist.”

“Come on Sis, what does that have to do with Baptism? Verse numbers make it easier to use the Bible. I just gave you a lot of verses that prove my view of baptism, and you give me a history lesson.”

Jennifer smiled, “My point exactly Josh! Chapter and verse divisions have made it easier to abuse the Bible since people too often view the Bible as a collection of “sayings” divided numerically into bite-sized sound bits. You are a good example-just look at your list of proof-texts about Baptism. You treat the Bible as though it were a collection of unrelated, numerically arranged sentences to pluck out at will. The Bible is actually made up of whole writings to be read in context. Remember that ‘A text without a context is a pretext’. “

“Sis, let’s get back to Baptism. How can you believe that Baptism is necessary for salvation when the Bible says we are saved by faith alone? Read John 3:16 and you’ll see that ‘whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Do you see anything about baptism in that verse? Only faith!”

“You’re right Josh, you cannot find the word “Baptism” in that particular verse. But are you willing to set aside the practice of “proof-texting” and look at the whole context? You don’t start reading Gone with the Wind in the middle of the book and then skip around willy-nilly reading individual paragraphs do you? Of course not! Then why misuse the Bible that way. Let’s stop for a minute and look at the whole picture-what is St. John saying in context?”

Josh protested, “Jennifer, I have more verses about salvation by faith without mentioning baptism than you have that mention Baptism.” “Really,” said Jennifer, “so you feel we can ignore verses-cut them out-if they don’t fit our theology to balance the verses that do? Come on Josh, that’s not honest. Jesus doesn’t divide it into either faith or baptism. as you do; rather, He proclaims salvation through both faith and baptism. Don’t divide what God puts together. Let’s take a look at what the New Testament actually says.”

Josh agreed and they sat for almost an hour reading the text of St. John and comparing it with the other New Testament writings. Fortunately for us, they took good notes which we are able to pass on to you. Let’s see what they discussed.

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Biblical Context:

John 3: What does one have to do to avoid perishing and gain eternal life (Jn 3:16)? How are faith and sacraments both necessary, not mutually exclusive (CCC 161; 1236)? How does one become a child of God (Jn 1:12-13)? How does Jesus explain birth from God to Nicodemus (Jn 3:3)? What must take place for one to “see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3)? How does Nicodemus misunderstand Jesus (Jn 3:4)? In order to be “born from above”, what two elements are necessary (Jn 3:5; CCC 720; 1215)? Does Jesus describe “faith alone” as the means of New Birth (Jn 3:5)? How does the Catholic Church continue Jesus’ teaching (CCC 1238; 1257)?

All of John: What had previously happened to Jesus that was still fresh on the mind of Jesus’ listeners and John’ readers (Mk 1:9-1; Jn 1:29-34)? How were “water” and “Spirit” involved in Jesus’ baptism? After speaking with Nicodemus about being born again through Baptism, what does Jesus begin doing immediately (Jn 3:26; 4:1)? What did “believers” in Jesus do to obey Him and be born again (Jn 4:1)? How does this “framework” of John three explain St. John’s meaning about being born again, believing, and being baptized? (For more on the context of St. John, see Crossing the Tiber.)

 The New Testament: How does Peter conclude the first Gospel message (Acts 2:38)? Does he mention “water” and “Spirit”. What did Ananias tell Paul to do after Jesus confronted Paul-when were his sins washed away (Acts 22:16)? How does Paul later describe this experience of “water and Spirit” (Titus 3:5; CCC 1215)? According to Peter, what saves us now (1 Peter 3:21; CCC 1219)? What does Mark say (Mk 15:16)? How would the Jews have understood the Prophets on this matter (Ez 36:25-27)? Is context important (CCC 109-114)?

For more on this, see my article “Are You Born Again?”

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Context from History and the Fathers and even Martin Luther

Historical Note on Chapter Divisions: Archbishop Stephen Langton (d. 1228). Verse divisions: Robert Stephens in 1551. First Bible with chapter and verse divisions: 1555 edition of the Latin Vulgate.

 Tertullian (c. 160-c. 225)
“Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life” (On Baptism).

Tertullian (c. 160-c. 225)
“Now this heresy of yours does not receive certain Scriptures; and whichever of them it does receive, it perverts by means of additions and diminutions, for the accomplishment of it own purpose; and such as it does receive, it receives not in their entirety; but even when it does receive any up to a certain point as entire, it nevertheless perverts even these by the contrivance of diverse interpretations. Truth is just as much opposed by an adulteration of its meaning as it is by a corruption of its text” (Prescription against Heretics, 17).

Justin Martyr (martyred AD 165)
“They are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’. . . . And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles” (First Apology).

Origen (c. 185-254)
“Let us remember the sins of which we have been guilty, and that it is not possible to receive forgiveness of sins without baptism.”

Origen
“The Church received from the Apostles the tradition [custom] of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit. 

 St. Augustine (354-430)
“Who is so wicked as to want to exclude infants from the kingdom of heaven by prohibiting their being baptized and born again in Christ?” (On Original Sin).

Martin Luther
“This fountain might well and properly be understood as referring to Baptism, in which the Spirit is given and all sins are washed away” (Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan [St Louis: Concordia, 1973], 20:331).

 

 Martin Luther
“If the world last long it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of the faith we should receive the Councils and decrees [of the Catholic Church] and fly to them for refuge” (Letter to Zwingli).

Catechism of the Catholic Church
“In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention , the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current· Be especially attentive ‘to the content and unity of the whole Scripture.’ Different as the books which comprise it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan·” (110, 112).

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Infant Baptism

by Steve Ray on November 26, 2014

100_1650Infant Baptism is discussed and argued about quite a bit in some circles. I, of course, was raised Baptist and taught that Infant Baptism was a man-made tradition invented by the heretical Catholics who abandoned the Word of God to follow ill-advised tradition.

(Picture: My granddaughter Elizabeth Arabella Rose Ray is baptized.)

But not all Protestants reject Infant Baptism. My favorite theologian during my later years as an Evangelical Protestant was Dr. Francis Schaeffer. He actually wrote a booklet on Infant Baptism. Granted, they do not accept the full Catholic understanding, but they did teach and practice infant baptism. Another author that I read was R. C. Sproul.

Protestant Reformed theologian R. C. Sproul writes, “The first direct mention of infant baptism is around the middle of the second century A.D.  What is noteworthy about this reference is that it assumes infant baptism to be the universal practice of the church.  If infant baptism were not the practice of the first-century church, how and why did this departure from orthodoxy happen so fast and so pervasively?

“Not only was the spread rapid and universal, the extant literature from that time does not reflect any controversy concerning the issue. . . . Those who dispute the validity of infant baptism make it less inclusive with respect to children, despite the absence of any biblical prohibition against infant baptism” (Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, [Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992], 228).

For my simple article on Infant Baptism, click here. For my blog on Baptism in general, click here. The whole middle section of my book Crossing the Tiber goes into the biblical and early Church teaching and practice of baptism, including that of infants.

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DAVE PALM WRITES: The really exciting thing about this latest update of Geocentrism Debunked (www.geocentrismdebunked.org) is that I didn’t write any of the new material myself.  Others are seeing the problems with the geocentric enterprise and weighing in.

 Over four years ago physicist Dr. Tom Bridgman issued the “Lagrange point challenge” in response to geocentrist Rick DeLano’s breezy claim that “Geocentrism perfectly accounts for LaGrange points”. We’ve already seen in past articles that their “answer”, four years in the making, consisted of basic math blunders and material plagiarized wholesale from two scientists. Now, in a new article Dr. Bridgman adds his own commentary on the failure of the new geocentrists to meet his challenge:  Dr. Tom Bridgman Weighs in on Geocentrists Flunking the Lagrange Point Challenge (http://www.geocentrismdebunked.org/bridgman-on-flunking-lagrange-challenge/)

 Camille M. Carlisle, the science editor at Sky & Telescope magazine, has weighed into the geocentrism controversy with a new article. I am very pleased that other people of faith—in this case specifically a Catholic—are pointing out that the arguments deployed by the new geocentrists are not just bad science, but bad philosophy and bad theology as well.  Wow, bad science, bad philosophy, bad theology—it’s a dangerous combination.  See Protecting Faith From Pseudoscience, by Camille Carlisle (http://www.geocentrismdebunked.org/carlisle-protecting-faith-from-pseudoscience/)

 Robert Sungenis, the leader of the modern geocentrists, attempted to rebut Miss Carlisle and demonstrated yet again that he is simply not competent to handle even high school level physics.  Dr. Alec MacAndrew has drafted a new piece pointing out still more basic errors in Sungenis’s work. These are compounded by Sungenis’s replacement of the well-known and perfectly adequate mechanism of gravity with a made-up medium that, “magically [does] just what he needs it to do, while remaining completely undetectable whenever he doesn’t need it.”  See “Elementary Physics Blunders in Sungenis’s Reply to Sky and Telescope’s Camille Carlisle” (http://www.geocentrismdebunked.org/sungenis-elementary-physics-blunders/).

 And I found a great article written some months ago by one “Anthony T”, who does a fine job of critiquing geocentrism scientifically, philosophically, and theologically.  Be sure to check out Geocentrism: A Dangerous Pseudo-Science by “Anthony T” (http://www.geocentrismdebunked.org/geocentrism-a-dangerous-pseudo-science-by-anthony-t/)

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Have They Discovered a New “Lost Gospel” that Says Jesus was Married?

November 13, 2014

Jimmy Akin writes: It’s getting near Christmas, and you know what that means. That’s right! It’s time for another book to be released telling us the sensationalistic “truth” about Christianity. This time we have The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson. [...]

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Bishop Conley’s Comments on our Cruise: “In the Footprints of St. Paul”

November 12, 2014

The ancient Christian writer and theologian Tertullian once asked the Church, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” He asked the question as Christianity spread from Israel into the Greek world; and as Greek intellectuals looked for deeper insight into the Christian mystery. Tertullian was asking whether pagan Greek culture—philosophy, poetry, the arts, history [...]

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Did Solomon’s Mother Bathsheba Demonstrate Mary is NOT a Good Intercessor?

November 9, 2014

I put up a post a few days ago with a video of my talk in Ephesus about Mary being Queen of Heaven and an Intercessor for the people of God’s kingdom. Someone wrote to object saying, It is interesting Steve, as to what you left out in your reference to 1 Kings 2:19 , Solomon’s Mother [...]

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Holy Father – is he Holy?

November 8, 2014

A young man stood up at my conference in the Philippines a while ago and parroted (yelled out) the Fundamentalist mantra: “The Pope is a sinner like everyone else; why do you call him ‘HOLY Father’?” I leaned into the microphone and said to the young man in front of 2,000 people, “You should really [...]

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Were the Bereans “Bible Alone”?

November 1, 2014

Since we are in Thessalonki today, just a few miles from Berea I thought I’d share my argument which turns the PROTESTant idea of “sola Scriptura” on its head. You know, many Protestents appeal to the Bereans as proof of their false doctrine. Regarding the Bereans, it just ain’t so. St. Paul traveled through Thessaloniki [...]

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

October 29, 2014

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It [...]

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What My Grandpa Said About the Pope – A Boy’s Story

October 28, 2014

My grandpa is a nice old gentleman, with gray hair, and gold spectacles, and very fond of his little grandson Billy—that’s me. Grandpa and I often go out to walk together, that is, on fine days, because on cloudy days he never goes out of the house, but stays at home to keep “comfortable with [...]

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Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter

October 14, 2014

              St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my [...]

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

October 10, 2014

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a [...]

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“The Sinner’s Prayer” – All You Need to Get to Heaven?

October 9, 2014

When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the [...]

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Response to a Southern Baptist

October 7, 2014

I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edifited by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His email is contained in regular text and MY RESPONSE IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. **************************************************** HELLO FRIEND: I WILL ANSWER BRIEFLY [...]

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Is There a God? Does Heaven Exist? The Best Allegory Ever! The Stupidity of Atheists

October 6, 2014

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replies, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense,” says the other. “There is no life after delivery. What would [...]

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From Baptist to Catholic

October 2, 2014

Stacy Trasancos Stacy is a Catholic convert from the Baptist tradition. A former chemist, Stacy is now a stay at home mom pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostle’s College and Seminary. I am Catholic, simply, because I am alive. I began conversion in 2004 and entered into Communion with the Catholic Church in [...]

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