Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Anti-Traditional Essence of the Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation

According to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, the elements of bread and wine in the Eucharist (or communion, or Lord's Supper, depending on one's tradition) are physically transformed in substance, though not in form, into the literal flesh and blood of Christ by the words of institution, i. e., when the priest says the words "this is my body" and "this is my blood." This change in substance is called "transubstantiation."

The Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong explains this mystery by analogy to the Incarnation. He says (in his book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism) that the relationship of the elements before and after their transubstantiation is like the union of deity and humanity in the Person of Christ. The Catholic Encyclopedia also explains the doctrine in incarnational terms. I do not know whether that makes it official dogma, but I am responding to it as such, until shown otherwise.

That analogy presents a serious problem, even worse that the error of transubstantiation itself.

I agree with the Catholic Church that Christ is one Person, uniting in Himself the deity of the Second Person of the Trinity and the humanity born of the Virgin Mary. We also agree that these two natures are distinct, though not separate, not mixed or confused, but each retaining its respective nature. This is formulated in the Chalcedonian Creed. For me, the official statement is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith VIII:2, "So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion."

In contrast, in the Fifth Century, a man named Eutyches argued that the Person of Christ was of one nature, which was both divine and human.This doctrine is known as Eutychianism, in his honor, or Monophysitism. It is the official doctrine of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac churches, but is rejected by Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, as a perversion of the Person of Christ, in that it turns Him, not into God or man, but rather into a hybrid which is neither fully one or the other. This was the historical situation which resulted in the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Do you see why I bring this up? If Jesus is fully human, as both I and the Catholic Church affirm, then He has a body with the essential attributes of any other human being. That includes two things, off the top of my head, which are relevant here: first, that He can only be physically in one place at a time, and second, that His flesh is itself, neither transformable into something else, nor subject to transformation from something else. One aspect of that is the question of where Jesus now is. So, where does the Bible say that is? Heaven (Luke 24:51 and Rom. 8:34)!

The Church of Rome, on the other hand, claims that the flesh of Christ is wherever His deity is, which is, of course, everywhere! Is that not the teaching of Eutyches? Is that not what was rejected by Chalcedon, almost sixteen centuries ago? Yes, it is! The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation intermixes the humanity and divinity of Christ, so that each shares in the attributes of the other.

Rome claims that their doctrine is from "tradition," yet it wasn't formally adopted until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Thus, the orthodox doctrine which was expressed in the Fifth Century was denied by Rome in the Thirteenth. That, to my mind, puts the lie to Catholic claims of tradition, not that tradition would have justified a doctrine of such superstitious and idolatrous implications. It also indicates that no person, claiming the Name of Christ and housing the Holy Spirit in his heart, can participate in a Catholic eucharist, as if it were the same thing as true communion in the body and blood of Christ.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Evangelical Lunatics: "Blood Moon" Madness

"Thus says the Lord:
'Learn not the way of the  nations,
Nor be dismayed by the signs of  the heavens
Because the nations are  dismayed at them,
for the customs of the peoples  are vanity.'"
- Jeremiah 10:2-3

It seems less than a coincidence that I watched the lunar eclipse this morning, and then the verses above, Jeremiah 10:2-3, came up in my daily Bible reading. This eclipse was the second (the first was April 14-15) in a rare tetrad of eclipses, i. e., successive total eclipses, with no intervening partial eclipses. The other two will be in 2015.

These eclipses have been designated "blood moons" by John Hagee, due to the redness associated with the appearance of the moon during a full eclipse (the refraction of sunlight through the earth's atmosphere appears red, the same phenomenon that causes the red light at sunrise and sunset), as a way to connect them to prophecies regarding Israel (according to his interpretation) that describe the moon appearing like blood (such as Joel 2:31). In other words, while all full eclipses appear red, Hagee has designated these eclipses as "blood moons" purely on the basis of his whim. The fact that it also sells his book is completely coincidental.

Hagee claims that past "blood moons" were signs of significant events in modern-day Israel. for example, he mentions the independence of Israel in 1948. Perhaps it was a mistake to be so specific, because those "blood moons" took place in 1949-50, not 1948. Furthermore, of the current "blood moons," three of the four - including the one this morning - won't even be visible in Israel. How can they be signs to Israel, if they aren't visible in Israel?

The problem is that the whole thing is an invention of the fevered imagination of John Hagee. Yet it has a segment of the evangelical community whipped up in fear. Or, as Jeremiah says, in superstition.

The Bible certainly does mention astronomical signs for eschatological events. I happen not to think they're intended to be taken literally. However, whether they are figurative or literal, to look to the heavens as predictors of coming events is the mentality of the pagan, not the Christian. I am sure that both Hagee and his Hagettes would loudly, and properly, decry the use of astrology by Christians, yet they have done that exactly, simply changing the terminology! It is this pagan worldview, baptized though it be, that is judged by God in the words of Jeremiah above.

No matter what name a person puts on it, to adopt a pagan worldview is to be a pagan, and thus to be under the judgment of God.

And for John Hagee, to lead people into superstition brings an extra judgment, as Jeremiah also says. He adds (Jer. 10:21), "For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered." The stupidity of Hagee is already plain to see; I hope that his deceived flock will scatter, as soon as the falsity of his prophecies is revealed.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Biblical Repentance

My previous post on the idolatry of Mormonism has gotten a lot of attention. My prayer is that someone in bondage to that cult has had his eyes opened by the Holy Spirit. If so, he may be wondering what to do, how to move to a new relationship with the true and living God. So that is what I want to address here.

In Jeremiah 3:12-14, God says:
"Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say,
‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
and that you have not obeyed My voice, declares the Lord.
Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord;
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.'"

The circumstances of this prophecy are that Israel, the northern kingdom, has already been deported by her Assyrian conquerors, never to be seen again. Yet, Judah, the southern kingdom, has failed to learn the lesson laid out before her eyes. Israel had turned to idols, and Jehovah her God had judged her. Even with this testimony, Judah is also guilty of idolatry, and refuses to put away her idols. And now Jehovah pleads with her to repent, before He is provoked to judgment. It is sad to know how the story proceeds. Judah refused to repent, and God judged her through the Babylonians.

But anyone reading this, whether an idolatrous Mormon, or Jehovah's Witness, or mere unbeliever, you can learn the lesson that Judah failed to heed.

What does God say? He promises not to hold his anger against you, for He is merciful. And what does He expect from you? To acknowledge your guilt and rebellion against Him, for you have given what you owe to Him to gods of the imagination, instead - gods invented, whether by Joseph Smith or by the Watchtower. And if you do so, if you make that reversal, He will bring you to Zion, His true bride, the true Church of Christ (I'm not using that as a denominational name).

This is repentance, to turn from your sin and to God. But this isn't a trade. He doesn't say that your repentance is equal to His forgiveness. He doesn't say that your repentance earns His forgiveness. It's not a magical formula. Rather, the Bible tells us that God grants us repentance! We see this is Acts 5:31 and II Timothy 2:25 (hold your cursor over the references, and the text will come up in a box). Repentance is something that He does in your heart, not something that you work as some kind of favor to Him. So, if you have come to the point of sorrowing for your idolatry, and looking to Him for His forgiveness and redemption, then you should also glorify Him for this, His merciful gift to you.

And that has been my prayer, that He would soften hearts trapped in the poisoned claws of pseudo-Christian cults, that they may turn to the biblical Jesus, God in the flesh, for forgiveness and new birth.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Prophet Isaiah and the Pre-Refutation of Mormon Polytheism

"Before Me no god was formed,
   Nor shall there be any after Me."

The phrase quoted here is the last couplet of Isaiah 43:10. This profession of monotheism is a repeated theme in this section of the book of Isaiah (chapters 40-48). In 40:18, the prophet asks, "To whom then will you liken God?" And God Himself repeats the question in verse 25: "To whom then will you compare Me, that I should be like him, says the Holy One." And again in 41:4: "I, the Lord, the first, and with the last I am He." In 42:8, He says, "I am the Lord; that is My name; My glory I give to no other." In 43:10, He repeats the declaration quoted above: "Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be after Me." But then He continues in verse 11, "I, I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior." In 44:6, we find, "I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no god." And verse 8, "Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any." In verse 24, he proclaims, "I am the Lord, who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by Myself." In 45:5, He tells us, "I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no god." In verse 21, "There is no other god besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides Me." In 46:9, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me." And finally, in 48:12, "I am He; I am the first, and I am the last."

Why have I made such an extensive list? Because Mormons claim that there are many gods; Jehovah, they say, is god only here on earth, in reward from the god of his home world. They often try to wriggle out of the idolatry label. However, here is the evidence from the mouths of their own past leaders. To my mind, this feature alone makes them pagans, regardless of their claim to be "the Church of Jesus Christ" or protestations of commonality with Christians. Of course, while a sufficient justification, their polytheism is not the only reason that I insist that Mormonism is an anti-Christian cult.

Why do I consider these quotes from Isaiah so important? Well, look at what else God claims through that prophet. In Isaiah 43:25, God also says, "I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins." And in 45:22, "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." In other words, Jehovah, the solitary God of the Bible, reserves to Himself the power to save all those who confess Him alone. Whoever makes up a god of his own imagination, as the Mormons have done, is lost, forever judged for his sins. I want Mormons to come to recognize that they follow a false god so that they can repent, and return to the true and living God of the Bible.

As a side note, I also want to point out to the followers of the Watchtower that they, too, follow a false god. Twice, in the passages I quoted above (Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12), God, Jehovah, refers to Himself as "the first and the last." Jesus applies those same words to Himself three times, in Revelation 1:17, 2:8, and 22:13. Jesus my Redeemer is the incarnation of that Jehovah  who proclaims Himself to be God alone in the prophecies of Isaiah. My prayer for you, too, is that God will open your eyes to the superstitions of the Watchtower Society, and lead you to the true Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, that you may be saved. In order to truly witness for Jehovah, you must confess that He is incarnate in Jesus Christ!