Atheism Intelligent Design theism

Getting the facts right on “unbelief”

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This item somehow missed the post last night. A study of atheists and agnostics, funded by Templeton, came up with some illuminating facts:

2. In all six of our countries, majorities of unbelievers identify as having ‘no religion’. Nevertheless, in Denmark fully 28% of atheists and agnostics identify as Christians; in Brazil the figure is 18%. 8% of Japan’s unbelievers say they are Buddhists. Conversely, in Brazil (79%), the USA (63%), Denmark (60%), and the UK (52%), a majority of unbelievers were brought up as Christians. (1.1, 1.2)

3. Relatively few unbelievers select ‘Atheist’ or ‘Agnostic’ as their preferred (non)religious or secular identity. 38% of American atheists opt for ‘Atheist’, compared to just 19% of Danish atheists. Other well-known labels – ‘humanist’, ‘free thinker’, ‘sceptic’, ‘secular’ – are the go-to identity for only small proportions in each country. (1.3)

Unbelief in God doesn’t necessarily entail unbelief in other supernatural phenomena. Atheists and (less so) agnostics exhibit lower levels of supernatural belief than do the wider populations. However, only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each of our countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists. (2.2, 2.3 More.


Stephen Sullivant, Miguel Farias, Jonathan Lanman, Lois Lee, Understanding Unbelief: Atheists and agnostics around the world – Interim findings from 2019 research in Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States

It would appear to explain a lot. Read the rest; it’s free.

See also: Why is the New York Times into witchcraft now? The good news is, we have far less to fear from hexes than from anti-free speech legislation and crackdowns on academic freedom at the universities. We really must encourage them all to spend more time, much more time, on hexes.

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120 Replies to “Getting the facts right on “unbelief”

  1. 1
    SmartAZ says:

    I’m not sure what the point of this post is. People in general have no idea what spirituality is about. If they profess this or that named system it is usually because it seems to suit what they already decided to believe, not because it added anything to their lives.

    You can spot such people when they speak of “converting” to a religion. No religion offers anything that can be called a conversion. Christianity involves a conversion, and Christianity is not a religion.

  2. 2
    PaoloV says:

    SmartAZ:

    “People in general have no idea what spirituality is about.”

    Can you explain it? Thanks.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    SAZ

    Christianity is not a religion.

    I would think that generic Christianity which is entirely subjective, individualistic, non-doctrinal and amorphous is not a religion. It is indistinguishable from secularism or any number of spiritualities.

  4. 4
    PaoloV says:

    SA,

    Christianity is not a religion. It’s a personal relationship between the Christians and their Lord/Savior.

    In most religions salvation is at the end. In Christianity it’s at the beginning.
    In most religions one does things to please god hoping to gain god’s favor at the end.
    In Christianity one does things to please, honor, worship and give glory to God because He poured His amazing grace on us right at the beginning. There’s nothing we could have done to gain His favor, so He provided the Way for us to be eternally reconciled with our Creator. Grace is undeserved favor. Praise Adonai!
    God has revealed Himself generally to all through His marvelous creation, and specially to His people through His word recorded in the scriptures.

    Untitled Hymn

  5. 5
    ScuzzaMan says:

    The biggest problem with these surveys is that people lie. There are a small percentage of self-styled atheists who actually understand the necessary logical and philosophical implications of materialism. Nearly all of that minority insist that those necessary logical implications are true because they are simply too proud and stubborn to give up the initial error that led them to this dead-end position.
    The multiverse is a classic example of this type of idiocy, as is the “illusion of consciousness” claim, as is the “we’re not wired for truth” pose. That’s all these things are; public poses adopted to avoid admitting to earlier error once the implications of that error become undeniable.
    There isn’t a single non-religious person on this planet, and never has been.
    There are simply some people who recognise and acknowledge the religious nature of our beliefs (and consequent behaviours), and there are some people who do not.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    The problem is the corporate, atheist billionaires, who are allowed to pay the piper. Period.

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    ScuzzaMan @ 5

    There isn’t a single non-religious person on this planet, and never has been.

    I am Spart…non-religious!

  8. 8
    Bob O'H says:

    I think this is very relevant for the discussions here:

    Atheists and (less so) agnostics exhibit lower levels of supernatural belief than do the wider populations. However, only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each of our countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists.

    i.e. don’t conflate atheism with naturalism.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob O’H states “don’t conflate atheism with naturalism.” Okie Dokie,,, And exactly what sorts of supernatural, (i.e. non-material beyond nature), beliefs do you cling to Bob? 🙂

    Warning Bob, any answer that you give will be used against your atheism! 🙂

  10. 10
    Bob O'H says:

    ba77 – I’m afraid you’ve missed the point.It’s not about me, the point is that many (but not all) atheists believe in the supernatural. If you want to find out more, you should ask them.

    There is a lot of variation in thought amongst atheists, just as there is amongst Christians.

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    PV

    Christianity is not a religion. It’s a personal relationship between the Christians and their Lord/Savior.

    That’s a religious tenet or belief. You are defining a religion – providing the rules and procedures.

    In most religions salvation is at the end. In Christianity it’s at the beginning…

    Christianity is a different religion from others, yes.

    God has revealed Himself generally to all through His marvelous creation, and specially to His people through His word recorded in the scriptures.

    Scriptures are texts believed to be revealed by God, which give the norms, history and meaning to a religion.
    The Christian Scriptures come from the Christian religion – from it’s hierarchy, Councils and Church.

    But anyway, I understand your view and I think I stated it. There is a generic sort of Christianity which attempts to dispense with all received teaching, history, community life, churches, authority – and tries to be entirely subjective and individualistic. We could say that kind of Christianity is not a religion, true. It’s just some opinions about various things that might have something to do with the idea of Jesus Christ.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Bob O’H, I take it from your comment that you do not believe in anything that might be considered supernatural, (i.e. non-material beyond nature).

    I’m afraid you’ve missed the point.It’s not about me, the point is that many (but not all) atheists believe in the supernatural. If you want to find out more, you should ask them.

    The problem for you ‘purely natural/material Bob’ is that not only can I use any supernatural claim that an atheist may make against his atheism, I can also use the purely natural/material beliefs, such as your own beliefs, against his atheism as well.

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft).
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    – Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387

    Thus, although the Darwinist may firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Thus Bob, it is very much a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, situation in regards to any beliefs that you may hold as an atheist whether they be supernatural or not.

    But don’t worry too much Bob, your old mental disease of denialism, and perhaps lots of alcohol, will help keep you from ever having to honestly deal with the catastrophic epistemological failure that permeates your atheistic worldview.

    Of course that will not prevent the rest of us from wondering what in the hell is wrong with you.

  13. 13
    Bob O'H says:

    Thus Bob, it is very much a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, situation in regards to any beliefs that you may hold as an atheist whether they be supernatural or not.

    Because whatever views I hold, you’ll accuse me of being insane and a drunk.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob O’H, “Because whatever views I hold, you’ll accuse me of being insane and a drunk.”

    Well your drinking habit is your own business, but I assure you it is not me that is accusing you of being insane, it is your own atheistic worldview that renders that judgement against you. Again,,,

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft).
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    – Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387

  15. 15
    Brother Brian says:

    I would classify myself as an atheist, but if you asked me which religious tenets I most identify with I would say Christian. Which is not surprising given that I was raised in a society that was largely Christian.

  16. 16
    Bob O'H says:

    You’re not a very pleasent fellow, are you ba77? You’re happy to accuse me of being a drunk (@12 and also here), but when called on it claim drinking habit is my own business. Well, if you think it’s my own business, don’t bring it up.
    You also accuse my of having a mental disease, but U don’t think you’re a psychiatrist. And you back it up by saying it’s not you, and quote a video by a “Phillip C”, who I’m guessing is also you. So you’re not accusing be of mental illness because I am, because you said so? You could at least have the courage of your convictions.

  17. 17
    OLV says:

    SA @11, regarding PV @4:

    “The Christian Scriptures come from the Christian religion – from it’s hierarchy, Councils and Church.”

    The Christian scriptures are a collection of important documents written by many authors inspired by God. The councils didn’t write them. They just put them together.

    The Wikipedia definition for religion does not work for Christianity.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob ‘O’H, @ 16

    You’re not a very pleasant fellow, are you ba77?

    Someone pointing out the reality of a situation is never very pleasant for those who live in a dream world of their own making.

    You go on,,,

    You’re happy to accuse me of being a drunk (@12 and also here), but when called on it claim drinking habit is my own business. Well, if you think it’s my own business, don’t bring it up.

    Number one, my exact words in 12 were,

    But don’t worry too much Bob, your old mental disease of denialism, and perhaps lots of alcohol, will help keep you from ever having to honestly deal with the catastrophic epistemological failure that permeates your atheistic worldview.

    The phrase ‘perhaps lots of alcohol’ is not a personal reference to how much you may or may not drink, I don’t even know how much you personally drink, it is a reference to the fact that some people who want to escape problems in this life, i.e. a divorce, a death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.., often turn to alcohol to avoid having to deal honestly with those problems.

    Number two, the link you provided, that you said showed I accused you of being a drunk yet again, did not even mention drinking at all but mentioned, ‘denialism’

    Well Bob O’H how you ‘seriously’ propose to get around the elephant in the living room problem of Chirality at the origin of life I have no idea. I guess denying it is a problem, as you, apparently, are doing right now, might be one way to go about it. 🙂 But others not so enamored to deny that monumental problems exist, might not find your particular ‘scientific’ method of denialism so appealing.

    Thus, you are falsely imagining that I am calling you a drunk. I did no such thing. But now that you have taken such offence to an off hand comment that I made, it has me wondering if your drinking is more problematic for you than it ought to be.

    You then go on to state

    You also accuse my of having a mental disease, but U don’t think you’re a psychiatrist. And you back it up by saying it’s not you, and quote a video by a “Phillip C”, who I’m guessing is also you. So you’re not accusing be of mental illness because I am, because you said so? You could at least have the courage of your convictions.

    Again my exact words were.

    ” I assure you it is not me that is accusing you of being insane, it is your own atheistic worldview that renders that judgement against you.”

    To back up that claim, I referenced the end of a video that I had made,,,

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft).
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    – Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387

    Again, it is not me that is forcing you into such an insane position, it is your own atheistic worldview that is forcing you into such insanity.

    Take the first claim that I made, “the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..),”,

    Now to make this point even more clear for you, the first part of this following video has Jerry Coyne stating to his class, “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    Jerry Coyne – No, You’re Not a Robot Made Out of Meat (Science Uprising 02) – video
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

    Jerry Coyne is far from the only atheistic professor making such an insane claim, Daniel Dennett claimed that ‘nobody is conscious … we are all zombies’

    “(Daniel) Dennett concludes, ‘nobody is conscious … we are all zombies’.”
    J.W. SCHOOLER & C.A. SCHREIBER – Experience, Meta-consciousness, and the Paradox of Introspection – 2004

    Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT, writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules”.

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    Now Bob O’H, if you walked into a psychiatrist’s office and stated that you were not really a real a person but were instead a ‘meat robot’, you would rightly be classified as having a mental disorder. But in academia stating such insanity is apparently cause for giving someone tenure.

    Again, it is not me ‘accusing’ atheists of being insane, it is the atheist’s own atheistic worldview that renders that judgement against them when it forces the leading proponents of atheism to claim that they do not really exist as a real person but are instead a ‘meat robot’.

    And if you really think that claiming you are a ‘meat robot’ is not an insane position for an atheist to hold, well all I can say is that you have been in academia, surrounded by fellow atheists who tolerate and condone such insanity, way too long.

    More on John Searle and Free Will – Michael Egnor – July 27, 2016
    Excerpt: “The denial of free will is a psychiatric, not philosophical, issue.”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2016/07/more_on_john_se/

  19. 19
    Silver Asiatic says:

    OLV

    The Christian scriptures are a collection of important documents written by many authors inspired by God. The councils didn’t write them. They just put them together.

    The men who wrote the Scriptures belonged to a Church. The Church authorized and published their writings. The Councils edited the collection that we call the New Testament. That’s where the Christian scriptures came from.
    We say that the Discovery Institute produces writings on ID. The texts, written by various authors, belong to the DI.

    The Wikipedia definition for religion does not work for Christianity.

    Ok? Your opinion is noted but it is not logical, coherent or historically accurate. Christianity has all of the markings of what we call “a religion”. To deny this you have to create your own definition of religion, or your own definition of Christianity – which is what many people try to do. But what authority do you have to define what Christianity is or isn’t? It is like me saying that the United States is not a country. My opinion would be worthless.

    A religion, among other things, is a system of beliefs that a person can adhere to and be a member of.
    If Christianity is not a religion, then there would be no difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. And that is what I agreed to. There is a generic Christianity which is not a religion because there is no system of beliefs, nothing to belong to, and no fundamental difference between it and any sort of secular idea one may have.

  20. 20
    Bob O'H says:

    ba77 @ 18 – You might also want to read the OP and the report it’s based on before telling someone what “their atheistic worldview” is, without first trying to find out what their atheistic worldview actually is. A major theme of that report is that there isn’t a single atheistic worldview.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob O’H states that, “You might also want to read the OP and the report it’s based on before telling someone what “their atheistic worldview” is, without first trying to find out what their atheistic worldview actually is.”,,, (Says the man who did not even comprehend my posts on his drinking alcohol before claiming I called him a drunk)

    And what exactly do you think has been going on in this thread thus far ‘purely natural’ Bob? I first noted that any supernatural beliefs an atheist might hold could be used against his atheism. You objected that you did not hold any supernatural beliefs. I responded that an atheist of ‘purely natural’ beliefs also winds up in catastrophic epistemological failure. I said ” it is very much a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, situation in regards to any beliefs that you may hold as an atheist whether they be supernatural or not.”

    Thus Bob, perhaps you yourself should hold yourself accountable to the same standard that you are trying to apply to me and actually read something for comprehension before making inane comments on it as you have done thus far so far in this thread.

  22. 22
    asauber says:

    “trying to find out what their atheistic worldview actually is”

    An Atheist is not honest at his or her or it’s core, so he/she/it isn’t going to tell you what’s actually going on in their mindless material brains. At the end of the day, this is what all exchanges about worldviews with Atheists invariably resolve into: a waste of time.

    Andrew

  23. 23
    hazel says:

    Not all atheists are materialists, Andrew.

  24. 24
    asauber says:

    “Not all atheists are materialists, Andrew.”

    I have to disagree with you Hazel. If one is to go as far as a declaration of Atheism, one has to use something to base that belief on. The only thing to base it on is Materialism. Otherwise, God is extremely possible.

    Andrew

  25. 25
    ET says:

    Andrew- It all depends on how you are defining “atheist”. So, how are you defining “atheist”?

    Seeing that ID does not require God nor a belief in God, why isn’t possible to be an atheist and an IDist, for example? ID doesn’t require the supernatural and ID is contrary to materialism.

  26. 26
    asauber says:

    “Andrew- It all depends on how you are defining “atheist”. So, how are you defining “atheist”?”

    ET,

    I am using the simple definition of “someone who believes there is no God.” If you explore this position, you discover that it relies on a whole bunch of deliberate ignorance or denial or both. The Atheist has to (pretend to) believe that he can perceive all there is to ever know, and therefore there is no God. This is the absurdity of materialism.

    Andrew

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    GOD, GODS, AND FAIRIES
    by David Bentley Hart – June 2013
    One of the strangest claims often made by purveyors and consumers of today’s popular atheism is that disbelief in God involves no particular positive philosophy of reality,,,,
    it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be described there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.

    Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

    It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/06/god-gods-and-fairies

    Myself, I hold the primary prerequisite of atheism to be ‘denialism’:

    Studies establish that the design inference is ‘knee jerk’ inference that is built into everyone, especially including atheists, and that atheists have to mentally work suppressing their “knee jerk” design inference!

    Is Atheism a Delusion?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Richard Dawkins take heed: Even atheists instinctively believe in a creator says study – Mary Papenfuss – June 12, 2015
    Excerpt: Three studies at Boston University found that even among atheists, the “knee jerk” reaction to natural phenomenon is the belief that they’re purposefully designed by some intelligence, according to a report on the research in Cognition entitled the “Divided Mind of a disbeliever.”
    The findings “suggest that there is a deeply rooted natural tendency to view nature as designed,” writes a research team led by Elisa Järnefelt of Newman University. They also provide evidence that, in the researchers’ words, “religious non-belief is cognitively effortful.”
    Researchers attempted to plug into the automatic or “default” human brain by showing subjects images of natural landscapes and things made by human beings, then requiring lightning-fast responses to the question on whether “any being purposefully made the thing in the picture,” notes Pacific-Standard.
    “Religious participants’ baseline tendency to endorse nature as purposefully created was higher” than that of atheists, the study found. But non-religious participants “increasingly defaulted to understanding natural phenomena as purposefully made” when “they did not have time to censor their thinking,” wrote the researchers.
    The results suggest that “the tendency to construe both living and non-living nature as intentionally made derives from automatic cognitive processes, not just practised explicit beliefs,” the report concluded.
    The results were similar even among subjects from Finland, where atheism is not a controversial issue as it can be in the US.
    “Design-based intuitions run deep,” the researchers conclude, “persisting even in those with no explicit religious commitment and, indeed, even among those with an active aversion to them.”
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/richa.....dy-1505712

    i.e. It is not that Atheists do not see purpose and/or Design in nature and biology, it is that Atheists, for whatever severely misguided reason, live in denial of the purpose and/or Design that they themselves see in nature. And yes, ‘denialism’ is considered a mental illness.

    In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.
    Denialism – Wikipedia

  28. 28
    asauber says:

    BA77,

    I agree with your ‘denialism’ inclusion. See, the more the Atheist is honest with himself about what he doesn’t know, the greater the possibility of God becomes. This is glaringly obvious to people outside Atheist circles.

    Andrew

  29. 29
    ET says:

    ID doesn’t require God nor a belief in God.

    ID doesn’t require the supernatural.

    ID is contra to materialism.

  30. 30
    Axel says:

    If I may interject, see Asauber’s #24, ET.

  31. 31
    Axel says:

    Maybe the derivation of the term, ‘religion’, from the Latin, ‘religere’, to bind, indicates the soundest definition.

  32. 32
    hazel says:

    re 24 and 30. There is a difference between not believing there is any God in the sense of some cosmic intelligence at some level of reality, which I think one should be agnostic about as there is no way we can know, and not believing in any of the Gods described by human beings as part of some religion, which is quite reasonable, and my own personal position. (And remember, IANAM*)

    So when one says “an atheist is one who doesn’t believe in God”, I think one needs to be more specific about what one means.

  33. 33
    ET says:

    Yes, Axel, I saw that. Just because he can say it doesn’t make it so. What I posted in 25 and 29 are facts. And those facts say that you can be an atheist and accept ID. That means that atheism doesn’t equate with materialism and why the use of “amats” is used to specify.

  34. 34
    hazel says:

    I agree with ET that one can be an atheist and accept ID. For instance, one can believe that some cosmic intelligence is the cause of the design in the world, but also believe that cosmic intelligence is not a God in the sense of taking an active role in the lives of humans, or even of being “personlike” as Gods are usually conceived.

  35. 35
    ET says:

    hazel, I don’t know how well versed you are with the pro-ID literature. But I have plenty that backs up everything that I have said. So you got it. And those guys extend the design inference to the universe. To them it’s ID all the way down and God isn’t required (even though their money is on God). Meaning it very well could be that there is a purpose but salvation and heaven isn’t part of it.

  36. 36
    hazel says:

    ET writes, “Meaning it very well could be that there is a purpose but salvation and heaven isn’t part of it.”

    I agree with that. However, I also think it could be “ID all the way down” and yet not for any purpose that has anything to do with human beings: in fact the idea of “purpose” might not even be a quality that could be ascribed to the cosmic intelligence.

  37. 37
    ET says:

    The evidence that the universe was designed for (scientific) discovery is pretty strong. Whenever there is intelligence involved intent is sure to follow. And I don’t know about any “cosmic intelligence”- what is that?

  38. 38
    ET says:

    The evidence that the universe was designed for (scientific) discovery is pretty strong. Whenever there is intelligence involved intent is sure to follow. And I don’t know about any “cosmic intelligence”- what is that?

  39. 39
    hazel says:

    I’m just using “cosmic intelligence” for a very generic term for the source of design. You’re pointing out that it doesn’t have to be a God of some sort, even though many believe it is. You also say it doesn’t have to be supernatural, although I don’t see how a non-supernatural “something” could be the source of the design of the cosmos in respect to fine-tuning.

  40. 40
    ET says:

    Why does it have to be that only a supernatural entity can produce this universe? Do tell. If prefixes bother you then use PRE-natural.

  41. 41
    hazel says:

    Pre-natural is good.

  42. 42
    PaoloV says:

    OLV @17:

    I wouldn’t use Wikipedia to explain Christianity.
    The Christian scriptures are sufficient.

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    per posts 34-35,,,

    34
    Hazel June 20, 2019 at 6:36 pm
    I agree with ET that one can be an atheist and accept ID. For instance, one can believe that some cosmic intelligence is the cause of the design in the world, but also believe that cosmic intelligence is not a God in the sense of taking an active role in the lives of humans, or even of being “personlike” as Gods are usually conceived.

    35
    ET June 20, 2019 at 6:42 pm
    hazel, I don’t know how well versed you are with the pro-ID literature. But I have plenty that backs up everything that I have said. So you got it. And those guys extend the design inference to the universe. To them it’s ID all the way down and God isn’t required (even though their money is on God). Meaning it very well could be that there is a purpose but salvation and heaven isn’t part of it.

    Well that is a bizarre conversation. I wonder exactly how one proposes to artificially put limits on where the scientific evidence is allowed to lead us in our investigations???. Instead of methodological naturalism, I guess ET and Hazel propose some new type of ‘methodological anti-personal God in our lives’??? 🙂

    Well, regardless of what some may prefer to believe beforehand, empirical science has a way of breaking through any artificial limits we try to artificially place on it beforehand.

    For instance, both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics themselves, (our two most accurately tested theories ever in the history of science), overturn the Copernican principle and restore humanity back to centrality in this universe.

    – Overturning of the Copernican Principle by both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/bill-nye-should-check-wikipedia/#comment-671672

    How one proposes to avoid the direct inference to a personal God in our lives I have no idea.

    Personally myself, I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Moreover, the following interactive graphs, one of which was recently constructed by William Dembski and company, point out that the smallest scale visible to the human eye (as well as a human egg) is at 10^-4 meters, which ‘just so happens’ to be directly in the exponential center, and/or geometric mean, of all possible sizes of our physical reality. As far as the exponential graph itself is concerned’ 10^-4 is, exponentially, right in the middle of 10^-35 meters, which is the smallest possible unit of length, which is Planck length, and 10^27 meters, which is the largest possible unit of ‘observable’ length since space-time was created in the Big Bang, which is the diameter of the universe. This is very interesting for, as far as I can tell, the limits to human vision (as well as the size of the human egg) could have, theoretically, been at very different positions than directly at the exponential middle and/or geometric mean;

    Magnifying the Universe – William Dembski’s graph
    https://academicinfluence.com/ie/mtu/

    The Scale of The Universe – Part 2 – interactive graph
    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale.....olor=white

    Moreover, there are now found to be anomalies in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) that strangely line up with the earth and solar system. Here is an excellent clip from “The Principle” that explains these strange ‘anomalies’ in the CMBR in an easy to understand manner.

    Cosmic Microwave Background Proves Intelligent Design (disproves Copernican principle) (clip of “The Principle”) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htV8WTyo4rw

    Moreover, Robin Collins established that the light coming from the CMBR is fine tuned for discovery for intelligent life such as ourselves. As well, Michael Denton, in similar fashion, has shown that Chemistry itself is of maximum benefit for intelligent life such as ourselves.

    And again, how one proposes to go about avoiding the clear implications for a personal God in our lives from all this powerful scientific evidence I have no idea.

    It is tragedy that one would even be predisposed to even try to deny the clear implications for us personally.

    Moreover, as if all of the preceding lines of the evidence were not bad enough for those who wish to deny a personal God in their lives, advances in quantum information theory, now strongly indicate that God is forming each of our immaterial souls individually in our mother’s womb.

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – Part II – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSig2CsjKbg

    Moreover, towards the end of the following video,

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

    , it is now shown that, with the closing of the ‘free-will loop-hole’ in quantum mechanics, that the Agent Causality of God, and even the agent causality on man himself, are brought into the laws of physics at their most foundational level.

    And as is also touched upon in the video, this has some very profound implications for us personally. Allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”.

    Moreover, besides the empirical verification of ‘free will’ and/or Agent causality within quantum theory bringing that rather startling solution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’, there is, to put it mildly, also another fairly drastic implication for individual people being “brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” as well.

    In order to support the physical reality of heaven and hell, I can appeal directly to two of our most powerful and precisely tested theories ever in the history of science. Special Relativity and General Relativity respectfully. As the following video shows, with General Relativity we find an ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with it. And with Special Relativity we find an extremely orderly eternity associated with it:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    To put the drastic implications for us even more clearly, we, with either our ‘free will’ acceptance or rejection of God and what He has done for us through Jesus Christ on the cross, are choosing between eternal life with God or eternal death separated from God:

    Verse:

    Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Because of such dire consequences for our eternal souls (which are now verified to be physically real entities via our advances in quantum biology), I plead with any atheists who may be reading this to seriously reconsider their refusal to accept God, and to now choose God, even eternal life with God, instead of choosing eternal death separated from God. Not to sound cliche, but that decision is, by far, the single most important decision that you will ever make in your entire life.

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

  44. 44
    ET says:

    Wow, all I said was that ID does not require God nor the belief in God.

    Guillermo Gonzalez tells AP that “Darwinism does not mandate followers to adopt atheism; just as intelligent design doesn’t require a belief in God.”

    Let’s take a look-in “The Design Revolution”, page 25, Dembski writes:

    Intelligent Design has theological implications, but it is not a theological enterprise. Theology does not own intelligent design. Intelligent design is not a evangelical Christian thing, or a generally Christian thing or even a generally theistic thing. Anyone willing to set aside naturalistic prejudices and consider the possibility of evidence for intelligence in the natural world is a friend of intelligent design.

    He goes on to say:

    Intelligent design requires neither a meddling God nor a meddled world. For that matter, it doesn’t even require there be a God.

    REQUIRES is the operative word. ID is NOT falsified by a personal God. ID is NOT falsified by the existence of salvation.

    So I am not sure what set off bornagain77 as there wasn’t anything bizarre with what I posted. It all comes from the ID leaders.

  45. 45
    hazel says:

    ba is not interested in ID. He is interested in proselytizing for Christianity. Suggesting that ID might not require Christianity set him off.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    Well sure, there is no mandate to follow the evidence where it leads in science. People who are interested in finding the truth find it desirable to do so though.

    But as I said, “regardless of what some may prefer to believe beforehand, empirical science has a way of breaking through any artificial limits we try to artificially place on it beforehand.”

    And as I laid out, via empirical evidence from our most powerful theories in science, science now leads us to a direct implication for a personal God, and even when including the recent closing of the free will loop-hole in quantum mechanics, and when the Agent Causality of God is rightly let BACK into physics (as originally envisioned by the Christian founders of modern science), then that leads to a direct implication for Christianity.

    I note that neither ET nor Hazel challenged the evidence. ET quoted Gonzalez, as if personal opinion can out weigh empirical evidence in science, and Hazel, predictably, disparagingly attacked my laying out the evidence for a personal God as “proselytizing for Christianity.”

    Well call it what you will. The scientific evidence is what it is. To disparage my motives instead of addressing the scientific evidence that I laid out does nothing to overturn the evidence that I laid out. Good luck overturning it. Both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are confirmed to almost absurd levels of precision.

    Again, the evidence is what it is, whether you personally like it or not, and it leads to a direct inference for a personal God who created us. Even, (when including evidence for our unique ability to create information) leading us to a direct inference for God creating us in His image. (i.e. “Kingdom of Speech”; T. Wolfe).

    If you don’t like the direct inferences that are to be drawn from these powerful lines of evidence, for what ever ill conceived personal reason you may have, at least have the honesty to forthrightly address the scientific evidence I’ve presented instead of arguing from authority and/or attacking my personal motives as Hazel has done,,, (as if Hazel has no personal motives that can’t be attacked if I so chose to do so)

  47. 47
    ET says:

    Oh my. What Gonzalez said has NOTHING to do with the evidence and EVERYTHING to do with ID in general.

    What Dembski said has NOTHING to do with any evidence and EVERYTHING to do with ID in general.

    Personal God? Then why doesn’t God just re-create Eden for us? I will tell you why- because we messed it all up.

  48. 48
    bornagain77 says:

    So you are claiming that Dembski and Gonzalez are against ID advocates following the evidence where it leads? 🙂

  49. 49
    ET says:

    LoL! I never said, implied nor ever thought such a thing

  50. 50
    asauber says:

    Maybe I can help by asking some questions:

    What kind of mental framework has to be in place prior to a person professing to believe there is no God?

    Is denial of design in nature something that occurs before that conclusion is made or afterwards?

    What is the logical progression of these ideas?

    Andrew

  51. 51
    hazel says:

    asauber, see 32, 34, and 36, and then be more specific about what I said at 32.

  52. 52
    ET says:

    asauber:

    What kind of mental framework has to be in place prior to a person professing to believe there is no God?

    The Missouri mental framework

    Is denial of design in nature something that occurs before that conclusion is made or afterwards?

    That is a strawman. An atheist who is an IDist clearly does not deny design in nature.

  53. 53
    asauber says:

    “An atheist who is an IDist”

    ET,

    Where is one of those?

    Andrew

  54. 54
    ET says:

    Could be anywhere. All I am saying is that the definition of an atheist and of ID does not prevent one from being both.

  55. 55
    asauber says:

    “All I am saying is that the definition of an atheist and of ID does not prevent one from being both.”

    ET,

    I think that virtually all atheists would disagree with you. But then, like I said back when I started commenting, Atheists are about posturing for each other, not about being honest about anything. So God knows what they really think. They aren’t going to inform the rest of us.

    Andrew

  56. 56
    ET says:

    From the American Atheists:

    Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

    So if ID isn’t about God or the supernatural then what is the problem?

  57. 57
    asauber says:

    ET,

    Thank you for the quote from American Atheists. Its only point of clarity is this: “nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes”.

    Proving my point that Atheists are about the posture of Atheism, not providing useful information to anyone.

    Andrew

  58. 58
    ET says:

    “Get to work as you are not entitled and make yourself happy in what you do”, could be useful.
    “Stop being self-righteous and make yourself useful”, could be useful.
    “Fend for yourself and take responsibility for your actions”, is definitely useful.
    “You have one go at this so make it count”, could be useful.

  59. 59
    asauber says:

    “Get to work as you are not entitled and make yourself happy in what you do”, could be useful.
    “Stop being self-righteous and make yourself useful”, could be useful.
    “Fend for yourself and take responsibility for your actions”, is definitely useful.
    “You have one go at this so make it count”, could be useful.

    ET,

    Anybody could say this stuff. What does it have to do with Atheism?

    Andrew

  60. 60
    asauber says:

    ET,

    Are you defending American Atheist nonsense? Why?

    Andrew

  61. 61
    ET says:

    I am just saying that according to the alleged experts in ID and the alleged experts in atheism, one can be an atheist and an IDist. That would be a freethinking atheist.

  62. 62
    hazel says:

    asauber, given your belief that atheists lie about their beliefs, it’s probably not worth asking you to participate in a discussion, but if you are interested and willing to accept my honestly telling you what I believe, see post 50.

  63. 63
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes.

    A person says, “I do not believe that the continent of North America exists”. I then ask, “do you think any of the founding documents of the United States exist”?

    Is the answer to that question, according to the definition above: “My denial of the existence of the North American continent does not answer any other question about what I believe.” ?

    … I don’t think so.

  64. 64
    PaoloV says:

    SA @19:

    “The men who wrote the Scriptures belonged to a Church. The Church authorized and published their writings. The Councils edited the collection that we call the New Testament. That’s where the Christian scriptures came from.
    We say that the Discovery Institute produces writings on ID. The texts, written by various authors, belong to the DI.”

    Please, help me to understand your point. Please, say it with your own words if possible. Thanks.

    What is the Christian church?
    What is the Discovery Institute (DI)?

    Who founded the Christian church?
    Who founded the DI?

    When was the OT and NT text written?
    When did the Councils that you’re referring to meet and decided which text was included in the Bible ?
    Was any of the authors of the OT or NT text among the members of the councils that determined which text was to be included in the Bible?
    IOW, did those councils include any of the authors of the OT or NT text?
    Does the DI include any of the authors of the text the DI publishes?

  65. 65
    PaoloV says:

    SA @19:

    “A religion, among other things, is a system of beliefs that a person can adhere to and be a member of.
    If Christianity is not a religion, then there would be no difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. And that is what I agreed to. There is a generic Christianity which is not a religion because there is no system of beliefs, nothing to belong to, and no fundamental difference between it and any sort of secular idea one may have.”

    Can you explain —in your own words— what’s the difference between a Christian and everybody else?

    Thanks.

  66. 66
    Silver Asiatic says:

    PaoloV

    Can you explain —in your own words— what’s the difference between a Christian and everybody else?

    As I explained, in the notion of a generic Christianity, there is no real difference between the Christian and everybody else. In that view, it is not even possible to become a Christian or to know if one is or isn’t a Christian. There is no church, no membership, no defined teachings, no requirements, no authority, no consistency, no common ground. As I said, it’s entirely subjective and individualistic. Belief in God is not required to be that kind of generic Christian. Nothing is required. This is where I agreed, that kind of Christianity is not a religion.

    If you are asking to move beyond that kind of generic Christianity, which is not a religion, towards a different sort of Christianity which is, in fact, a religion – I can explain all of that to you. But I don’t think this blog is the place for that kind of detailed discussion.
    The Church established by Jesus Christ was founded by Him and then carried on by His apostles, and handed down through the centuries to the successors of those apostles, the bishops of the Catholic Church. If you want to call the Church that Jesus Christ founded, “Christianity”, then there is a lot of good information around about how you can become a member of that religion.

  67. 67
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Paolo

    What is the Christian church?

    The Church founded by Jesus Christ.

    What is the Discovery Institute (DI)?

    An inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.

    Who founded the Christian church?

    Jesus Christ

    Who founded the DI?

    Bruce Chapman and George Gilder.

    When was the OT and NT text written?

    Between 1200 BC and 60 AD.

    When did the Councils that you’re referring to meet and decided which text was included in the Bible ?

    360 AD the first council decided on the final canon of the Bible.

    Was any of the authors of the OT or NT text among the members of the councils that determined which text was to be included in the Bible?

    Jesus gave divine power to his apostles which enabled them to decide correctly on matters of doctrine. This power is handed on to the bishops that followed, along with the teaching that came from the apostles to men like Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp and others, The actual author of the NT is God, and God is present in any authorized council of the Church.

    Does the DI include any of the authors of the text the DI publishes?

    Yes.

    The key element in the above is whether Jesus Christ established a Church or not, and did He give that Church the divine power and authority to correctly identify the teachings He provided, and therefore the authority to know which books were divinely inspired Scripture and which were not.

    Only God could communicate that information. You, for example, cannot pick up a text and declare that it was divinely inspired by God. When you read the New Testament, you rely on the Church which told us which books were divine Scripture. The Bible is a book that belongs to the Church that Christ founded. It cannot be understood correctly outside of the context of the Church.

    People think they can pick up the New Testament and read and understand it correctly on their own. But real-life shows us that they can’t do it. An authoritative Church is required to declare the correct interpretation of the Scriptures. The same Church which declared what the Scriptures actually are, and which compiled them into the collection we call the New Testament, gives us the correct meaning of the New Testament.

  68. 68
    PaoloV says:

    SA@66:

    Is the term “church” mentioned in the Christian Bible?

    What does it mean?

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, as a FYI, there is a difference between formal documented recognition of what is authentic, central and historic and essentially arbitrary composition, censorship and imposition. It is for example demonstrable from the very first writing “Fathers” from c 95 – 115 AD, writing to address circumstances and implicitly recognising that certain documents are valid inspired and authoritative scripture [along with the received hebraic OT, usually in the Septuagint, en bloc], that 25 of 27 NT documents were already widely known and recognised by church leaders. The Rylands fragment of John from Egypt 300 mi from Asia Minor [presumptive place of composition c 90 AD], dated to c 125 AD, a codex fragment from Gospel of John, ch 18 [as we number it] secures the C1 provenance By mid-late C2, given the case of Marcion and rise of what we call the Gnostics more generally, with their syncretistic tendencies, there was pressure to recognise and distinguish authentic from schismatic on one hand and what was either spurious novelty or a cutting down and cutting out to suit peculiarities on the other. Do not overlook the initial acceptance of Marcion’s gift of 12,000 sesterces and its return by the elders of the church in Rome on recognition that something was wrong. In short, we can see outlines of chain of custody. The 325 and 381 Nicene Creed, phrase by phrase, is directly rooted in the scriptures and is the second general council, once the era of persecutions had ceased. The AD 49 Jerusalem Council of Ac 15 dealt with the question of gentile converts and was 15 years before the era of widespread persecutions began. KF

    PS: You may profit from this discussion on church as body in union with living head, pondering how from NT era on this finds institutional forms to fit its needs.

  70. 70
    PaoloV says:

    KF,
    Very insightful commentary. Thanks.

  71. 71
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Paolo

    Is the term “church” mentioned in the Christian Bible?
    What does it mean?

    “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14,15).
    The Christian Bible indicates that the foundation (pillar and ground) of truth is the Church, or house of God.
    The Church is the society or community founded by Jesus Christ.

    In the book of Matthew, Christ states that He built his church upon the apostle Peter.

  72. 72
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    It is for example demonstrable from the very first writing “Fathers” from c 95 – 115 AD, writing to address circumstances and implicitly recognising that certain documents are valid inspired and authoritative scripture [along with the received hebraic OT, usually in the Septuagint, en bloc], that 25 of 27 NT documents were already widely known and recognised by church leaders.

    Yes, those church leaders were the Fathers and bishops of the Church. But there was still debate and additional books were recognized that later were excluded as divine scripture. You’ve just illustrated my point – the Bible came from the Church.

    … there was pressure to recognise and distinguish authentic from schismatic on one hand and what was either spurious novelty or a cutting down and cutting out to suit peculiarities on the other.

    Exactly. The Church was authorized and given divine power by Christ to make these determinations. There would be no other way to sort out that which is divinely inspired from orthodox texts like Clement’s epistle (which was read as Scriptural in churches) or Epistle of Barnabus.

    The 325 and 381 Nicene Creed, phrase by phrase, is directly rooted in the scriptures and is the second general council, once the era of persecutions had ceased.

    Rooted in Scripture but containing developments on the Trinity that are not literally Scriptural (as the term Trinity is not).

    The AD 49 Jerusalem Council of Ac 15 dealt with the question of gentile converts and was 15 years before the era of widespread persecutions began. KF

    Yes, exactly. That first council in Jerusalem was the model for councils of bishops that followed for the next two thousand years through to Vatican II. Bishops joined together to sort out various questions, as they did on the question of gentile converts and the judiazing tendencies that some had.

    PS: You may profit from this discussion on church as body in union with living head, pondering how from NT era on this finds institutional forms to fit its needs.

    The foundation remains the same today. It is the body of believers with the successors of the apostles in leadership, and successor of Peter at the head, as delegated by Christ. While yes, at the same time, various changes in order and disciplines have occurred over time.

  73. 73
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    I enjoyed your essay “Seeing the Eph 1 & 4 Fullness of Christ vision …”

    For purposes of this discussion, you outlined various formulations of the Christian religion, as a religion. You discuss also the mission of the Church, as an entity. These are counterpoints to the idea that “Christianity is not a religion”. I think the profession of the Nicene Creed, for example, would be an ordinary indicator of the presence of a religious body, bound together by a Creed of beliefs.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, first, I have never denied that the Christian faith is in the technical sense a religion. Second, Christian leaders (starting with the apostles and Christ) will be by definition church leaders. Third, I noted historically on the recognition of documents as being scripture 200+ years before formal lists were made in councils. Indeed, there are places in the NT where other identifiable NT documents are recognised as scripture, i.e. theopneustos writings of the same rank as the body of the OT. The authority and truth do not come from the council but from the source and power manifested. Councils etc are secondary, historical witnesses. There is no good reason to infer or suggest councils arbitrarily excluded things. As to the triune understanding of the Godhead, I suggest that such can be abundantly warranted from the text of Scripture; which as I noted has authenticity prior to councils. Further to this, that God is credible root of reality is separately warranted on many grounds. That the gospel can be similarly warranted and that a core creedal confession such as the Nicene can be warranted phrase by phrase, is evidence of credibility. That some truths about reality and its roots are of religious or philosophical character does not put them in a particularly suspect class, nor does it lend credibility to a conspiracist suspicion. KF

    PS: You are a rock, on this Bedrock Foundation I will build my church: Peter’s confession of Jesus as Messiah in fulfillment of the eschatological expectation of Israel.

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Collection of dictionaries:

    religion
    Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
    re·li·gion (r?-l?j??n)
    n.
    1.
    a. The belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers, regarded as creating and governing the universe: respect for religion.
    b. A particular variety of such belief, especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice: the world’s many religions.
    c. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order: a widow who went into religion and became a nun.
    3. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion: a person for whom art became a religion.
    Idiom:
    get religion Informal
    1. To become religious or devout.
    2. To resolve to end one’s immoral behavior.
    [Middle English religioun, from Old French religion, from Latin religi?, religi?n-, perhaps from relig?re, to tie fast; see rely.]
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
    religion (r??l?d??n)
    n
    1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
    2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion.
    3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers
    4. (Roman Catholic Church) chiefly RC Church the way of life determined by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience entered upon by monks, friars, and nuns: to enter religion.
    5. something of overwhelming importance to a person: football is his religion.
    6. archaic
    a. the practice of sacred ritual observances
    b. sacred rites and ceremonies
    [C12: via Old French from Latin religi? fear of the supernatural, piety, probably from relig?re to tie up, from re- + lig?re to bind]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
    re•li•gion (r??l?d? ?n)

    n.
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usu. involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code for the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion.
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
    4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
    5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
    6. something a person believes in and follows devotedly.
    7. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion.
    Idioms:
    get religion,
    a. to become religious; acquire religious convictions.
    b. to resolve to mend one’s errant ways.
    [1150–1200; religioun < Latin religi? conscientiousness, piety <relig?re to tie, fasten (re- re- + lig?re to bind, tie; compare ligament)]
    re•li?gion•less, adj.
    Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

    –> This can be broadened from the tendency to theism in the above; there are non theistic religions and certain worldviews and movements or ideologies are de facto religions even though anti-theistic. Note Merriam Webster’s in sense 4:

    religion noun
    re·?li·?gion | ri-?li-j?n

    Definition of religion

    1a : the state of a religious a nun in her 20th year of religion
    b(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
    (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
    2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
    4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

  76. 76
    PaoloV says:

    SA @65:

    “The Church established by Jesus Christ was founded by Him and then carried on by His apostles, and handed down through the centuries to the successors of those apostles, the bishops of the Catholic Church.”

    I assume that by “Catholic” you mean “universal” and not the organization that has its headquarters in the Vatican, right?

  77. 77
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF
    I think we are in agreement. Other commentators here have claimed that Christianity is not a religion. I am glad you disagree with that opinion. Of course, Christianity is a religion, as you point out.

    Third, I noted historically on the recognition of documents as being scripture 200+ years before formal lists were made in councils.

    Yes, this is the development of the canon of Scripture. The very same apostolic-line of bishops approved various texts in the local communities and then, finally, making official, formal statements in Councils. It was never a matter of private opinion, but always an exercise of Church authority.

    The authority and truth do not come from the council but from the source and power manifested. Councils etc are secondary, historical witnesses.

    Authority and truth are given to the Church. The Church meets in Councils. So, the authority is manifested in Councils. The authority comes from God. He gives the divine promise to the Church, that the Church will teach rightly in the name of Christ. That is how the Councils knew which books were divine. There is no human, historical, scientific or logical means alone to determine if a book is divinely inspired. Only the power of God, given to men (the apostles and their successors) can give that kind of knowledge. That’s what the Church was given. That is how we know what the New Testament is. When you read the New Testament, you are reading a book that comes from the Church. Without the Church, we would not know. St. Augustine said that very thing. “For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.” It is the authority of the Church that teaches us what the Gospel books are.

    There is no good reason to infer or suggest councils arbitrarily excluded things.

    Of course, Councils do not act in an arbitrary manner on any matter of Christian doctrine or practice. Some books were excluded from the Canon as proposed by previous local churches, others were validated and included. Eventually, a final collection of books was authorized.

    As to the triune understanding of the Godhead, I suggest that such can be abundantly warranted from the text of Scripture; which as I noted has authenticity prior to councils.

    The Council of Jerusalem took place before the final letters of the New Testament were written, so really, the Councils pre-date the Scriptures. It is the Councils through the Church that gave us the Scriptures. Without the Councils, the letter of St. Clement would be believed to be Scripture, as it was through the 4th century until a formal list of books was published. The New Testament was written in the Church, for the Church, and ultimately collected, published and preserved by the Church. It was never a project by individuals outside of the Church – at least until the 16th century when individuals felt they could create their own official canon of texts based on their own, subjective, authority.

    That some truths about reality and its roots are of religious or philosophical character does not put them in a particularly suspect class, nor does it lend credibility to a conspiracist suspicion.

    Yes, exactly. That is the traditional Christian teaching.

    PS: You are a rock, on this Bedrock Foundation I will build my church: Peter’s confession of Jesus as Messiah in fulfillment of the eschatological expectation of Israel.

    Yes, a minority of Fathers give that interpretation but virtually all teach, what the Church today teaches, that the rock, foundation, is the apostle Peter himself and his successors the bishops of Rome. Of course, people disagree with what the Church teaches, and we can find all manner of various opinions about what New Testament passages mean. But that illustrates my point about Generic Christianity that is lacking authority and an apostolic Church. One can read a text in any manner and arrive at a variety of contradictory, subjective and basically useless opinions and interpretations.. That renders Christianity as meaningless as the person’s opinions are themselves. The Bible cannot be properly interpreted outside of the divine authority given to the Church by Christ. None of the individuals, from the Reformers down to various preachers today, can claim that they have been given the divine authority to interpret the Bible correctly. The Church makes that claim – the same Church that gave the world the New Testament itself. Individuals, even intelligent ones, or scholars, or would-be reformers, simply cannot do it, and history shows the results that follow from those who attempt it. We have people here who think Christianity is not even a religion. Others dispense with the New Testament entirely, except as a book of some general guidelines. That is the result of private interpretation based on the supposed, but non-existent divine authority of an individual believer.

  78. 78
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Paolo

    I assume that by “Catholic” you mean “universal” and not the organization that has its headquarters in the Vatican, right?

    I mean the universal Church which has its headquarters in heaven and which is governed on earth by the bishop of Rome and his brethren, the successors of the apostles of Christ.

  79. 79
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I refer PaoloV and OLV to KF’s post @ 74. Christianity is a religion.

  80. 80
    PaoloV says:

    SA @77:

    “I mean the universal Church which has its headquarters in heaven and which is governed on earth by the bishop of Rome and his brethren, the successors of the apostles of Christ.”

    Huh? Say what?
    And you refer me to KF? What for?
    Does KF agree with your comment @77?
    I let KF answer for himself, but I really don’t understand what your wrote @77.
    Maybe KF can translate what you wrote to a simple language that is more understandable to me.

  81. 81
    PaoloV says:

    James 1:27

    Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world

    Pure and undefiled religion. James picks two synonymous adjectives to define the most spotless kind of religious faith—that is which is measured by compassionate love (cf. John 13:35). orphans and widows. Those without parents or husbands were and are an especially needy segment of the church (see notes on 1 Tim. 5:3; cf. Ex. 22:22; Deut. 14:28, 29; Ps. 68:5; Jer. 7:6, 7; 22:16; Acts 6:1–6). Since they are usually unable to reciprocate in any way, caring for them clearly demonstrates true, sacrificial, Christian love. world. The evil world system (see notes on 4:4; 1 John 2:15).

    Religion that is pure and undefiled. James stresses concern for widows and orphans as a true measure of obedience that is pleasing to God. It reflects the concerns of God Himself (Deut. 10:18; Ps. 9:18 note; 68:5; 146:9). Israel was given this responsibility in the Old Testament (Deut. 14:29; Ezek. 22:7).

  82. 82
    PaoloV says:

    Acts 25:19
    Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive.

    25:19 religion. Such charges did not belong in a Roman court (cf. 18:12–16).

    25:19 religion. Or “superstition,” the same word used by Paul in 17:22

    Acts 17:22
    So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.

    17:22 religious. Or “superstitious.” The Greek for this word could be used either to congratulate people or to criticize them, depending on whether those using it included themselves in the circle of individuals they were describing. The Athenians would not know which meaning to take until Paul continued. In this context it is clear that Paul wanted to be complimentary in order to gain a hearing.

    religious. Lit. “in fear of Gods.”

    APOSTOLIC AGE. Derived from ?????????, G693, (Ezra 7:14; Dan 5:24). Translated “apostle” seventy-eight times, “messenger” two and “he that is sent” once in the NT. Meaning: that period of Early Church history during the life and work of the original apostles which extended from the day of Pentecost (c. a.d. 30-33; Acts 2, to the death of John, c. a.d. 100). The main sources for the period are the Book of Acts and the NT letters.

    1. The inauguration of the Apostolic Age (c. a.d. 30-33; Acts 2). The success of Christianity in the Apostolic Age is due to the initial effusion of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s 120 disciples at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost in fulfillment of the prior divine promises (Joel 2:28-32; Matt 3:11; John 14:26; 16:7-11; Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit became the “other self of the Christ” at Pentecost (Chadwick, p. 21), indwelling the disciples for the completion of the work begun by Christ Himself (Acts 1:1, 2, 8). An analysis of this historic event (2:1-4) reveals a fourfold divine provision, as suggested by the symbolism employed: (1) “rushing mighty wind”—divine power (v. 2; cf. Acts 1:8), (2) “tongues of fire”—divine purification (v. 3; cf. Deut 4:24; Isa 6:5-8; 10:16; 30:27-30; Matt 3:11, 12; 5:22; Acts 15:1-9; Heb 12:29); (3) “all filled”—divine possession (Acts 2:4a); and (4) “began to speak with other tongues”—divinely inspired proclamation (v. 4b).

    The advent of the Spirit at this time was most opportune. The importance of the Jewish Temple in centralizing and unifying Hellenic with Judean Judaism in the 1st cent. is emphasized by the vast patronage of the diaspora Jews. While Josephus’ estimate of three million attending a single Passover is likely an exaggeration (Crownfield, p. 230), it nevertheless points up the cultural and spiritual unity of all Judaism. Through the Spirit-animated witness of the apostles, 3,000 Jews, mostly Hellenists, were converted to Christianity (2:41), with an increase to at least 5,000 soon after (4:4). The genuineness and influence of this spiritual occurrence is attested by the quality of its converts (2:41-47; 4:32-37). With the return of the Hellenist converts to their respective locations (2:5-11) following Pentecost, they carried their witness with them and thus disseminated widely the Gospel to such outlying centers as Damascus, Antioch of Syria, Cyprus, Cyrene and even Rome (11:20). There were doubtless many other locations of which those recorded are representative.

    2. The martyrdom of Stephen (7; 8:1, 2). At the outset Christianity was recognized as only a new-life movement within Judaism. The Christians continued worshiping in the Temple and observed the regular Jewish ceremonials (3:1). Little opposition was manifested by the Jews until Christianity was recognized as a distinct religion and the Hellenists, esp. Stephen, began to insinuate the universality of Christianity, and that it would supplant Judaism, for which insinuations he became the first Christian martyr (7; 8:1). The full fury of Jewish persecution broke upon the Christians, but esp. upon the Hellenists following Stephen’s martyrdom, and consequently the Gospel spread afar through the witness of these dispersed Hellenist disciples (8:1, 4). Thus it was the martyrdom of Stephen that shattered the bars of legalistic Judaism and set Christianity free for its universal mission. The apostles and Jewish Christians remained to constitute the Jerusalem mother church (8:1) and afford a central nucleus and base of authority for the church until the Rom. siege of Jerusalem in a.d. 68.

    3. The conversion of Saul (8:3; 9:1-22; 22:6-16; 26:9-23). In the first stage of the Apostolic Age Peter and Stephen dominated the scene (1-8:1); in the second, Peter, Philip and Barnabas were prominent (9:27; 12); but in the third, it was Paul (chs. 13-28). With the conversion of Saul, the archenemy of Christianity (9:1, 2), a new era dawned upon the young church. From vicious persecutor of the church because of the universal implications of its message, Saul became the great apostle to the Gentiles (Gal 1:23). A period of peace and spiritual prosperity for the church followed Saul’s conversion (9:31). Paul (his Rom. name), himself a Hellenist Jew with Rom. citizenship from Tarsus in Cilicia, was educated in Jerusalem under the relatively liberal-minded Gamaliel (22:3), and was thus better able to understand and appreciate the Hellenist stance than were the other apostles. Paul was present at the martyrdom of Stephen and approved his death sentence as well as that of other Christians (7:58; 8:1; 22:20; 26:10). He was prob. one of those from Cilicia who could not cope with Stephen’s “wisdom and the spirit” (6:9, 10). He was never able to free himself from the influence of Stephen’s message and martyrdom. All of his recorded addresses reflect the influence of Stephen’s arguments. With the conversion and subsequent leadership of Paul, the Christian Gospel passed into its world-wide Gentile mission.

    The generous attitude of Rome toward the Christians was due to the allowance of freedom granted all approved religions within the empire. Judaism was such a religion, and since Christianity had flowered from Judaism Rome appears not to have distinguished between the two (18:1, 2, 12-17). Actually Christianity enjoyed the protection of Rome until about the time of Paul’s first imprisonment under Nero when the distinction between Judaism and Christianity became clearer, and the Christians became convenient scapegoats for Nero. The martyrdom of James under Herod (12:1-5) should prob. be understood in the light of Herod’s Jewish connections and his desire to curry favor with the Jews, rather than as a hostile act of Rome toward Christianity.

    4. The Council at Jerusalem (c. a.d. 48 or 49; Acts 15). The first general council of the Christian Church prob. occured between the first and second missionary journeys of Paul. The principal issue was the condition required of the Gentiles for membership in the church. The decision reached by the council was one of the most momentous of all church history as it saved the young movement from a Jew-Gentile schism. It also established salvation by grace without legalism (for a full treatment of this subject see Council of Jerusalem).

    5. The mission to the Gentile world (chs. 13-28). (1) Whatever social, economic, political or other implications the Gospel may have had, the primary and distinctive aim of the 1st cent. Christians was to make Christ known to all the world as Savior and Lord. Christ’s universal lordship is linked inseparably with His saviorhood (110 times in Acts His lordship is emphasized). (2) For the apostolic Christians the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord was absolute (4:12). (3) The responsibility for the universal witness was obligatory upon each believer, and not just upon the apostles and leaders. (4) Apostolic methods were considered means to make Christ known, and never ends in themselves. Important items were: a). personal witness to Christ through social intercourse; b). miraculous acts of God that inspired faith in Christ as Savior; c). oral preaching; d). itineration; e). charities; f). church organization and supervision; g). training of promising converts; h). planting of the Gospel in strategic centers; and i). writing and circulation of Christian letters, from which all of the NT letters came. (5) Simplicity characterized Christianity in the apostolic era. There were no church buildings as such (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Philem 2), government was at a minimum, and generally worship was patterned after the informal synagogue. (6) Christianity was considered to be a spiritual life movement rather than an organization or an institution. Christians were the people of the Way (Way is capitalized six times in Acts KJV), “the new and living way” (Heb 10:20). (7) The full extent of the gospel outreach in the 1st cent. cannot be determined with certainty. However, some idea can be gained from the representatives of the fifteen nations mentioned as present at Pentecost, which included most of the Middle E and Rome (Acts 2:7-11). Paul’s missionary journeys took him through Palestine, Syria, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and to Rome. He further mentioned Illyricum (Rom 15:19), and even Spain was a possibility (15:24). Peter may have reached Babylon (1 Pet 5:13), and there is a strong tradition that Thomas went to India. Paul boldly wrote to the Romans within thirty years of Pentecost: “…your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Rom 1:8), and to the Colossians: “…the gospel…in the whole world…is bearing fruit and growing” (Col 1:5, 6). Reliable extra-Biblical witnesses support Paul’s claims, including Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, Clemens Romanus, Ignatius and Hermas (Harnack, II, 4, 5, 7, 16, 24). Harnack says, “This belief that the original apostles had already preached the gospel to the whole world, is…extremely old….The belief would never have arisen unless some definite knowledge of the apostles’ labors and whereabouts (i.e., in the majority of cases) had been current….Hermas is exceptionally clear and definite; and this evidence…is all the more weighty, as he may invariably be assumed to voice opinions which were widely spread and commonly received” (ibid).

    Bibliography B. W. Robinson, The Life of Paul (1918); F. J. F. Jackson and K. Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity, Pt. I, “The Acts of the Apostles” (1920); B. S. Easton, “The Apostolic Age,” ISBE, Vol. I (1939); W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (rep. 1949); F. F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame (1953); W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire (rep. 1954); H. J. Cadbury, The Book of Acts in History (1955); F. R. Crownfield, An Historical Approach to the New Testament (1960); G. Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the NT, Vol. I (1964); S. Neill, Christian Missions (1964); C. W. Carter, “The Acts of the Apostles,” The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, Vol. IV (1964); J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (1964).

  83. 83
    PaoloV says:

    Acts 26:5
    They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.

    26:5 strictest party . . . I have lived as a Pharisee. Knowing the background of Agrippa, Paul stressed his dependence on the God of his fathers (cf. 24:14) and his link with the Pharisees (Phil. 3:5, 6) to show the legitimacy of his Judaism. Paul argued that God had promised the resurrection of the body. Although this was the belief of Jews in general and the Pharisees in particular, it was being used as the basis of charges against him.

  84. 84
    PaoloV says:

    Colossians 2:23
    These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    2:23 A rather detailed analysis of the Colossian heresy: (1) It appeared to set forth an impressive system of religious philosophy. (2) It was, however, a system created by the false teachers themselves (“self-imposed”), rather than being of divine origin. (3) The false teachers attempted to parade their humility. (4) This may have been done by a harsh asceticism that brutally misused the body. Paul’s analysis is that such practices are worthless because they totally fail to control sinful desires. self-imposed worship. The false teachers themselves had created the regulations of their heretical system. They were not from God.

    2:21–23 These verses point out the futility of asceticism, which is the attempt to achieve holiness by rigorous self-neglect (v. 23), self-denial (v. 21), and even self-infliction. Since it focuses on temporal “things which perish with the using,” asceticism is powerless to restrain sin or bring one to God. While reasonable care and discipline of one’s body is of temporal value (1 Tim. 4:8), it has no eternal value, and the extremes of asceticism serve only to gratify the flesh. All too often, ascetics seek only to put on a public show of their supposed holiness (Matt. 6:16–18).

    2:23 self-made religion. God accepts worship offered according to His will revealed in Scripture, not religious exercises done at the dictate of presumptuous human whim (Matt. 15:9). The idea that God must be worshiped only in the way He has instituted has had a profound influence in Reformed churches.

    of no value. The Greek of this verse is very difficult. It apparently means not only that the ascetic disciplines Paul is opposing are worthless, but that they are actively harmful, exciting their own sort of “indulgence of the flesh.” This is precisely what the Reformers—preeminently Luther—saw themselves up against in the extra-biblical rituals that had emerged in the medieval church.

  85. 85
    PaoloV says:

    James 1:26
    If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

    1:26 religious. Refers to the outward acts of religion: e.g., giving to the needy, fasting and public acts of praying and worshiping (see Mt 6:1–18 and note on 6:1). keep a tight rein on their tongues. See 3:1–12.

    1:26 religious. This refers to ceremonial public worship (cf. Acts 26:5). James chose this term, instead of one referring to internal godliness, to emphasize the external trappings, rituals, routines, and forms that were not followed sincerely. bridle his tongue. “Bridle” means “control,” or as another translation renders it, “keep a tight rein.” Purity of heart is often revealed by controlled and proper speech (see note on Matt. 12:36).

  86. 86
    PaoloV says:

    Matthew 16:18
    And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    Matthew 18:17
    If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

    Acts 5:11
    And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

    Acts 8:1
    [ Saul Ravages the Church ] And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

    Acts 8:3
    But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

    Acts 9:31
    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

    Acts 11:1
    [ Peter Reports to the Church ] Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

    Acts 11:19
    [ The Church in Antioch ] Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.

    Acts 11:22
    The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

    Acts 11:26
    and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

    Acts 12:1
    [ James Killed and Peter Imprisoned ] About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.

    Acts 12:5
    So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

    Acts 13:1
    [ Barnabas and Saul Sent Off ] Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

    Acts 14:23
    And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

    Acts 14:27
    And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.

    Acts 15:3
    So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.

    Acts 15:4
    When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them.

    Acts 15:22
    [ The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers ] Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,

    Acts 15:41
    And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

    Acts 16:5
    So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

    Acts 18:22
    When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.

    Acts 20:17
    [ Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders ] Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.

    Acts 20:28
    Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

    Romans 16:1
    [ Personal Greetings ] I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,

    Romans 16:4
    who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.

  87. 87
    PaoloV says:

    Matthew 16:18

    Peter . . . rock . . . church. In the Greek “Peter” is petros (“detached stone”), and “rock” is petra (“bedrock”). Several interpretations have been given to these words: The bedrock on which the church is built is (1) Christ; (2) Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah (v. 16); (3) Christ’s teachings—one of the great emphases of Matthew’s Gospel; (4) Peter himself, understood in terms of his role on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2), the Cornelius incident (Ac 10) and his leadership among the apostles. Eph 2:20 indicates that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (see note on Jn 1:42). church. In the Gospels this word is used only by Matthew (here and twice in 18:17). In the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT) it is used for the congregation of Israel. In Greek circles of Jesus’ day it indicated the assembly of free, voting citizens in a city (cf. Ac 19:32, 39, 41). Hades. The place of departed spirits, generally equivalent to the Hebrew Sheol (see note on Ge 37:35). The “gates of Hades” (see note on Job 17:16) here may refer to the powers of death, i.e., all forces opposed to Christ and his kingdom.

    on this rock. The word for “Peter,” Petros, means a small stone (John 1:42). Jesus used a play on words here with petra which means a foundation boulder (cf. 7:24, 25). Since the NT makes it abundantly clear that Christ is both the foundation (Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Cor. 3:11) and the head (Eph. 5:23) of the church, it is a mistake to think that here He is giving either of those roles to Peter. There is a sense in which the apostles played a foundational role in the building of the church (Eph. 2:20), but the role of primacy is reserved for Christ alone, not assigned to Peter. So Jesus’ words here are best interpreted as a simple play on words in that a boulder-like truth came from the mouth of one who was called a small stone. Peter himself explains the imagery in his first epistle: the church is built of “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5) who, like Peter, confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Christ Himself is the “chief cornerstone” (1 Pet. 2:6, 7). church. Matthew is the only gospel where this term is found (see also 18:17). Christ called it “My church,” emphasizing that He alone is its Architect, Builder, Owner, and Lord. The Gr. word for church means “called out ones.” While God had since the beginning of redemptive history been gathering the redeemed by grace, the unique church He promised to build began at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit, by whom the Lord baptized believers into His body—which is the church (see notes on Acts 2:1–4; 1 Cor. 12:12, 13). the gates of Hades. Hades is the place of punishment for the spirits of dead unbelievers. The point of entry for such is death. This, then, is a Jewish phrase referring to death. Even death, the ultimate weapon of Satan (cf. Heb. 2:14, 15), has no power to stop the church. The blood of martyrs, in fact, has sped the growth of the church in size and spiritual power.

    Peter . . . rock. The name “Peter” is a play on the Greek word for “rock” (petra). There are four leading interpretations of this play on words: (a) Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ” (v. 16) is the rock upon which the church is built; (b) Jesus Himself is the rock, as Peter later testifies (1 Pet. 2:5–8); (c) Peter, as the representative apostle, is a foundation in the church (Eph. 2:20); (d) Peter represents by his confession the type of person on which the true church will be built.

    The first and second possibilities are often defended by pointing out that Peter’s name is petros and the rock is petra. But this linguistic difference is not significant for this context. The second possibility is unlikely because Jesus describes Himself in this passage as not the foundation but the builder of the church.

    If it had not been for the abuse of this passage by the Roman Catholic Church, it is unlikely that any doubt would have arisen that the reference is to Peter. But the foundational rock is Peter as a representative apostle (v. 15 note) whose confession of Christ has been revealed to him by the Father. As Peter himself later declares (1 Pet. 2:4–8), all believers have become “living stones” by virtue of their association with Christ, with the apostles as the foundation (Eph. 2:20, 21; Rev. 21:14). When Peter says that Jesus must not go to the cross, he is not called a foundation rock, but a stumbling block (v. 23 and text note).

    gates of hell. In the Old Testament and other literature the “gates of Sheol” or the “gates of death” are equivalent to “death.” “The gates of hell” may also be a reference to “death.”

  88. 88
    PaoloV says:

    Matthew 18:17

    church. Local congregation. Here and 16:18 (see note there) are the only two places where the Gospels use the word “church.” pagan. For the Jews this meant any Gentile. tax collector. See note on 5:46. This verse establishes one basis for excommunication (when people refuse to respond to church discipline; see 2Th 3:14 and note; cf. Ro 16:17).

    tell it to the church. If he still refuses to repent, step 3 requires that the matter be reported to the whole assembly (v. 17)—so that all may lovingly pursue the sinning brother’s reconciliation. But failing that, step 4 means that the offender must be excommunicated, regarded by the church as “a heathen and a tax collector” (see note on 5:46). The idea is not merely to punish the offender, or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and henceforth to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than as a brother. Ultimately, the sin for which he is excommunicated is a hard-hearted impenitence.

    church. The use of the word “church” by Jesus may appear premature, but only if the “church” is divorced from its moorings in the Old Testament. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the “assembly” of the people of God is called the ekklesia, or “church.” Jesus’ use of Deut. 19:15 in v. 16 implies that the church is equivalent to Old Testament Israel.

    let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Such individuals are to be cut off from fellowship and suspended from full social relations with other Christians. Paul applies this discipline in 1 Cor. 5 and 1 Tim. 1:20.

  89. 89
    PaoloV says:

    Acts 5:11

    church. The first use of the term in Acts. It can denote either the local congregation (8:1; 11:22; 13:1) or the universal church (see 20:28). The Greek word for “church” (ekklesia) was already being used for political and other assemblies (see 19:32, 41) and, in the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT), for Israel when gathered in religious assembly.

    church. This is the first use of “church” in Acts, although it is the most common word used to describe the assembly of those who had believed (cf. 4:32). See center-column note on Acts 2:47.

    the whole church. This is the first of more than twenty occurrences in Acts of the Greek word ekklesia, usually translated “church.” Stephen uses this word for the Old Testament “congregation” of the people (7:38). In the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), the worshiping assembly of God’s people is often designated with this word. In ancient Greece, the ekklesia was the political “assembly” of citizens (19:32). The New Testament uses the word initially to refer to an organized body of believers (8:1; 11:22; 13:1).

  90. 90
    PaoloV says:

    Acts 8:1

    all except the apostles. For the apostles to stay in Jerusalem would be an encouragement to those in prison and a center of appeal to those scattered. The church now went underground. scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. The beginning of the fulfillment of the commission in 1:8—not by the church’s plan, but by events beyond the believers’ control. See map.

    consenting. Paul’s murderous hatred of all believers was manifested here in his attitude toward Stephen (1 Tim. 1:13–15). scattered. Led by a Jew named Saul of Tarsus, the persecution scattered the Jerusalem fellowship and led to the first missionary outreach of the church. Not all members of the Jerusalem church were forced to flee; the Hellenists, because Stephen was likely one, bore the brunt of the persecution (cf. 11:19, 20). except the apostles. They remained because of their devotion to Christ, to care for those at Jerusalem, and to continue evangelizing the region (cf. 9:26, 27).

    Acts 8:3

    Saul was ravaging the church. The Greek verb is strong; not just harassment, but an attempt to destroy the church is meant.

    Acts 9:31

    church. The whole Christian body, including Christians in the districts of Judea, Galilee and Samaria. The singular thus does not here refer to the various congregations but to the church as a whole (see note on 5:11). encouraged by the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit is particularly noted throughout the book of Acts (see 13:2 and note on 1:2). This is why the book is sometimes called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

    the churches…had peace and were edified. Paul’s conversion and political changes contributed to the rest. A stricter Roman governor and the expansion of Herod Agrippa’s authority restricted the persecution.

    Acts 11:1
    believers. Lit. “brothers.” At times “brothers” is used to refer to those of common Jewish lineage (2:29; 7:2), but in Christian contexts it denotes those united in Christ (6:3; 10:23; see note on Ro 1:13). In matters of deep concern, the “apostles” did not act alone. The divine will gave guidance, and the apostles interpreted and exhorted, but the consent of the whole church was sought (“the whole group,” 6:5; “apostles and the believers,” here; “the church,” 11:22; “the church and the apostles and elders,” 15:4; cf. 15:22).

    Acts 11:19
    persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed. See 8:1–4 and notes. Phoenicia. A country about 15 miles wide and 120 miles long, stretching along the northeastern Mediterranean coast (modern Lebanon). Its important cities were Tyre and Sidon. Cyprus. An island in the northeastern Mediterranean; the home of Barnabas (4:36). Antioch. The third city of the Roman Empire (after Rome and Alexandria). It was 15 miles inland from the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. The first largely Gentile local church was located here, and it was from this church that Paul’s three missionary journeys were launched (13:1–4; 15:40; 18:23).

    See notes on 8:1–3. Phoenicia. The coastal region directly N of Judea, containing the trading ports of Tyre and Sidon. Cyprus. See note on 4:36. Antioch. Located some 200 mi. N of Sidon, Antioch was a major pagan metropolis, the third largest in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria.

    Acts 11:22

    Barnabas. See notes on 4:36; 9:27. Antioch. See note on v. 19. The sending of Barnabas was apparently in keeping with the Jerusalem church’s policy of sending leaders to check on new ministries that came to their attention (see 8:14).

    Barnabas. See note on 4:36. Since he was a Cypriot Jew, he came from a similar background to the founders of the Antioch church.

    Acts 11:26

    whole year. Luke notes definite periods of time (18:11; 19:8, 10; 24:27; 28:30). Christians. Whether adopted by believers or invented by enemies as a term of reproach, it is an apt title for those “belonging to Christ” (the meaning of the term). It occurs elsewhere in Scripture only in 26:28; 1Pe 4:16.

    Christians. A term of derision meaning “of the party of Christ.” Cf. 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16.

    called Christians. The word “Christian” occurs three times in the New Testament: here, 26:28, and 1 Pet. 4:16. It means a person belonging to or following Christ. The name may have originated in the church, or it may at first have been a derogatory term used by outsiders.

    Acts 12:1

    12:1 about this time. Some hold that the events recorded in ch. 12 group together matters concerning Herod Agrippa I (see below; see also chart) and may not be in strict chronological order. For example, the arrival of Barnabas and Saul in Jerusalem (11:30) may have followed Herod’s persecution and Peter’s release from prison. Since the date of Herod’s death was AD 44, these events would probably have occurred in 43. According to this view, the famine of 11:28 occurred c. 46, following Herod’s death (v. 23). Others hold that such juggling of events is unnecessary. Thus the relief gift of 11:30 came before Herod’s death in 44, and the return of Barnabas and Saul (v. 25) followed Herod’s death. According to the former view, the Jerusalem visit of Gal 2:1–10 was the famine visit of v. 25; 11:30. According to the latter view, the Gal 2:1 visit was the Jerusalem council visit of 15:1–29 (see chart). King Herod. Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (see notes on Mt 2:1; 14:1) and son of Aristobulus. He was a nephew of Herod Antipas, who had beheaded John the Baptist (Mt 14:3–12) and had tried Jesus (Lk 23:8–12). When Antipas was exiled, Agrippa received his tetrarchy, as well as those of Philip and Lysanias (see Lk 3:1 and note). In AD 41 Judea and Samaria were added to his realm.

    Herod the king. Herod Agrippa I reigned from A.D. 37–44 and was the grandson of Herod the Great. He ran up numerous debts in Rome and fled to Palestine. Imprisoned by Emperor Tiberius after some careless comments, he eventually was released following Tiberius’ death, and was made ruler of northern Palestine, to which Judea and Samaria were added in A.D. 41. As a hedge against his shaky relationship with Rome, he curried favor with the Jews by persecuting Christians.

    Acts 13:1

    prophets. See note on 11:27. The special gift of inspiration experienced by OT prophets (Dt 18:18–20; 2Pe 1:21) was known in the NT as well (2:17–18; 1Co 14:29–32; Eph 3:5). The prophets are second to the apostles in Paul’s lists (1Co 12:28–29; Eph 2:20; 4:11; but cf. Lk 11:49; Ro 12:6; 1Co 12:10). teachers. See 11:26; 15:35; 18:11; 20:20; 28:31; 1Co 12:28–29; Eph 4:11. Barnabas . . . Saul. The church leaders at Antioch, perhaps listed in the order of their importance. Barnabas. See note on 4:36. He was sent originally to Antioch by the church in Jerusalem (11:22), had recently returned from taking alms to Jerusalem (12:25) and was a recognized leader in the church at Antioch. Simeon called Niger. “Simeon” suggests Jewish background; in that case, “Niger” (Latin for “black”) may indicate his dark complexion. Lucius of Cyrene. Lucius is a Latin name. In the second group of preachers coming to Antioch, some were from Cyrene (11:20), capital of Libya (see 6:9 and note). Manaen. In Hebrew, Menahem. He was the foster brother or intimate friend of Herod Antipas.

    Chapter 13 marks a turning point in Acts. The first 12 chapters focus on Peter; the remaining chapters revolve around Paul. With Peter, the emphasis is the Jewish church in Jerusalem and Judea; with Paul, the focus is the spread of the Gentile church throughout the Roman world, which began at the church in Antioch. prophets. These had a significant role in the apostolic church (see notes on 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20). They were preachers of God’s Word and were responsible in the early years of the church to instruct local congregations. On some occasions, they received new revelation that was of a practical nature (cf. 11:28; 21:10), a function that ended with the cessation of the temporary sign gifts. Their office was also replaced by pastor-teachers and evangelists (see note on Eph. 4:11). Barnabas. See note on 4:36. Simeon…called Niger. “Niger” means “black.” He may have been a dark-skinned man, an African, or both. No direct evidence exists to equate him with Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21). Lucius of Cyrene. Not the Lucius of Rom. 16:21, or Luke, the physician and author of Acts. who had been brought up with. Can be translated “foster-brother.” Manean was reared in Herod the Great’s household. Herod the tetrarch. Herod Antipas, the Herod of the gospels (see note on Matt. 14:1).

    Barnabas. See note 4:36.
    Simeon . . . called Niger. His second name means “black” in Latin and he may have come from Africa. He may be the same as Simon of Cyrene (Luke 23:26) whose sons, Alexander and Rufus, were among the Christians at Rome (Mark 15:21; cf. Rom. 16:13).
    Lucius of Cyrene. Cyrene was the capital of the Roman province of Cyrenaica (in modern Libya).

    Acts 14:23

    appointed. The Greek for this word (used also in 2Co 8:19) can mean (1) to stretch out the hand, (2) to appoint by show of hands or (3) to appoint or elect without regard to the method. In 6:6 the appointment of the Seven included selection by the church and presentation to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. Because these were new churches, at least partly pagan in background, Paul and Barnabas may have both selected and appointed the elders.

    Acts 14:27

    opened a door of faith. God had brought Gentiles to faith—had, as it were, opened the door for them to believe (cf. 11:18).

    Acts 15:3

    Throughout its history, the church’s leaders have met to settle doctrinal issues. Historians point to 7 ecumenical councils in the church’s early history, especially the Councils of Nicea (A.D. 325) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451). Yet the most important council was the first one—the Jerusalem Council—because it established the answer to the most vital doctrinal question of all: “What must a person do to be saved?” The apostles and elders defied efforts to impose legalism and ritualism as necessary prerequisites for salvation. They forever affirmed that salvation is totally by grace through faith in Christ alone.

    Acts 15:4
    The first meeting was a report, cordially received, about the work done among the Gentiles.

    Paul and Barnabas and others went into great detail to report the many works God was accomplishing through their efforts. No doubt they provided sufficient evidence to verify the genuineness of the Gentiles’ salvation (cf. 10:44–48; 11:17, 18).

    Acts 15:22

    apostles and elders, with the whole church. Apparently there was unanimous agreement with the choice of messengers and with the contents of the letter (vv. 23–29). Judas (called Barsabbas). The same surname as that of Joseph Barsabbas (see 1:23 and note). The two may have been brothers. Silas. A leader in the Jerusalem church, a prophet (v. 32), a Roman citizen (16:37–38) and Paul’s companion on his second missionary journey (15:40).

    Judas. Nothing more is known about him except that he was a prophet (v. 32). Silas. See note on v. 40. Also known as Silvanus, he accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (v. 40; 16:19, 25, 29; 17:4, 10, 14, 15; 18:5) and later was Peter’s amanuensis (scribe) for his first epistle (1 Pet. 5:12).

    Acts 15:41

    Syria and Cilicia. Paul visited congregations he had most likely founded before his connection with the Antioch church (Gal. 1:21). The circumcision question had been raised there also.

    Acts 18:22

    gone up…went down to Antioch. Although Luke does not mention it in detail, his description of the geography indicates Paul went to Jerusalem to greet the church. Because Jerusalem was elevated over the surrounding region, travelers had to go “up” to get there and “down” to any other place. Paul also had to return to Jerusalem so he could fulfill his vow. This ended the second missionary journey.

    Acts 20:17

    elders of the church. The importance of the leadership of elders has been evident throughout Paul’s ministry. He had delivered the famine gift from the church at Antioch to the elders of the Jerusalem church (11:30). He had appointed elders on his first missionary journey (see 14:23) and had addressed the holders of this office later in Philippi (Php 1:1, “overseers”). He requested the Ephesian elders to meet with him on this solemn occasion (see v. 28). Some years later he wrote down instructions about the elders’ qualifications (1Ti 3; Titus 1; see chart).

    elders. These were the ordained representatives of the Ephesian congregation, called to be overseers and shepherds of the church of God (v. 28; cf. 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9).

    Acts 20:28

    overseers. Be shepherds. The “elders” (v. 17) were called “overseers” and told to pastor (“shepherd”) the flock—demonstrating that the same men could be called “elders,” “overseers” or “pastors.” his own blood. See NIV text note; the reading there refers to the sacrificial death of God’s own Son.

    take heed to yourselves. Paul repeated this call to self-examination to Timothy when his young son in the faith served as pastor of the Ephesian congregation (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:20, 21). overseers. These are the same as elders and pastors (see note on 1 Tim. 3:1). The word stresses the leaders’ responsibility to watch over and protect their congregations—an appropriate usage in the context of a warning against false teachers. Church rule, which minimizes the biblical authority of elders in favor of a cultural, democratic process, is foreign to the NT (cf. 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17). with His own blood. See note on 1 Pet. 1:18. Paul believed so strongly in the unity of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that he could speak of Christ’s death as shedding the blood of God—who has no body (John 4:24; cf. Luke 24:39) and hence no blood.

    with his own blood. The phrasing is remarkable in the way it acknowledges that the blood of Christ is the blood of God. Many ancient manuscripts have a different word order, reading “the blood of His own,” that is, of Christ.

    Romans 16:1

    our sister. In the sense of being a fellow believer. Phoebe. Probably the carrier of the letter to Rome (cf. v. 2). deacon. See NIV text note; one who serves or ministers in any way. When church related, as it is here, it probably refers to a specific office—woman deacon or deaconess. Cenchreae. A port located about six miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf.

    Phoebe. Means “bright and radiant,” which aptly fits Paul’s brief description of her personality and Christian character. servant. The term from which we get “deacon” and “deaconess” (see notes on 1 Tim. 3:10, 11, 13). In the early church, women servants cared for sick believers, the poor, strangers, and those in prison. They instructed the women and children (cf. Titus 2:3–5). Whether Phoebe had an official title or not, she had the great responsibility of delivering this letter to the Roman church. When they had served faithfully and become widowed and destitute, such women were to be cared for by the church (see notes on 1 Tim. 5:3–16). Cenchrea. A neighboring port city of Corinth, where Paul wrote Romans. The church in Cenchrea was probably planted by the Corinthian church.

    Phoebe. Probably the bearer of Paul’s letter. The name is common in Greek mythology and indicates a Gentile background.
    a servant. Paul’s word (Greek diakonos) is variously translated as “servant” (1 Tim. 4:6), or “deacon” (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8). It is uncertain whether Paul uses the term to refer to the specific church office of deacon, or describes Phoebe as a servant of the church in a more general sense.
    Cenchreae. The port of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf, indicating Paul’s location when Romans was sent.

    Romans 16:4

    risked their lives for me. There is no other record of this in the NT or elsewhere, but it must have been widely known, as the last part of the verse indicates (cf. Php 2:25–30 and notes).

    risked their own necks for my life. Probably at Corinth or Ephesus, but the details are not known.

    Paul’s letters typically end with personal news and greetings. The closing chapter of Romans is remarkable for the large number of fellow believers mentioned. These verses give an insight into the warmth of the apostle’s personal relationships as well as the fellowship of the early Christians.

  91. 91
    PaoloV says:

    Ephesians 5:23
    Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

    Acts 11:26
    and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

    Acts 26:28
    And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”

    Romans 12:9
    [ Marks of the True Christian ] Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

    2 Corinthians 9:1
    [ The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem ] Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints,

    1 Peter 4:12
    [ Suffering as a Christian ] Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something

    1 Peter 4:16
    Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

    Acts 11:26
    whole year. Luke notes definite periods of time (18:11; 19:8, 10; 24:27; 28:30). Christians. Whether adopted by believers or invented by enemies as a term of reproach, it is an apt title for those “belonging to Christ” (the meaning of the term). It occurs elsewhere in Scripture only in 26:28; 1Pe 4:16.

    Christians. A term of derision meaning “of the party of Christ.” Cf. 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16.

    called Christians. The word “Christian” occurs three times in the New Testament: here, 26:28, and 1 Pet. 4:16. It means a person belonging to or following Christ. The name may have originated in the church, or it may at first have been a derogatory term used by outsiders.

    Acts 26:28

    in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian? His question is an evasion of Paul’s question and an answer to what he anticipates Paul’s next question will be. His point is that he will not be persuaded by such a brief statement. Christian. See note on 11:26.

    You almost persuade me. A better translation is “Do you think you can convince me to become a Christian in such a short time?” Recognizing his dilemma, Agrippa parried Paul’s question with one of his own.

    would you persuade me to be a Christian. The king used a delaying tactic, arguing that a half-hour speech is insufficient time to become a Christian. In the first century, “Christian” (cf. 11:26) was probably a term of contempt (1 Pet. 4:16).

    Romans 12:9

    Love. Believers’ love for fellow Christians and perhaps also for other people. sincere. True love, not pretense. In view of the preceding paragraph, with its emphasis on social concern, the love Paul speaks of here is not mere emotion but love in action, as delineated in the rest of the chapter (cf. Jas 2:1–4, 14–17; 1Jn 3:16–18; 4:19–21). evil . . . good. See Am 5:15. “Evil” and “good” frame vv. 9–21.

    love. The supreme NT virtue, which centers completely on the needs and welfare of the one loved and does whatever necessary to meet those needs (cf. Matt. 22:37–39; Gal. 5:22; 1 Pet. 4:8; 1 John 4:16; see notes on 1 Cor. 13). hypocrisy. See note on Matt. 6:2. Christian love is to be shown purely and sincerely, without self-centeredness or guile.

    be genuine. In classical Greek drama, the hypokrites (actor) wore a face-mask. The Christian’s loving behavior should not be acting a part or wearing a mask, but an authentic expression of goodwill.

    2 Corinthians 9:1

    Paul addresses the question of the collection of money for the distressed believers in Jerusalem, which the Corinthians had started but not completed.

    ministering to the saints. The offering they were collecting for the believers in Jerusalem (see note on 8:4).

    This section concerns the collection of money for poor Christians in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 19:21, 22; Rom. 15:25–28; 1 Cor. 16:1–4).

    Colossians 3:18

    submit. See notes on Eph. 5:22, 23. The Gr. verb means “to subject oneself,” which denotes willingly putting oneself under someone or something (cf. Luke 2:51; 10:17, 20; Rom. 8:7; 13:1, 5; 1 Cor. 15:27, 28; Eph. 1:22).

    See note Eph. 5:22–32; “The Christian Family” at Eph. 5:22.

    1 Peter 4:12

    do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal. See 1:6–7 and note on 1:7; 2:20–21 and note on 2:21.

    the fiery trial. Peter probably wrote this letter shortly before or after the burning of Rome (see Introduction: Background and Setting), and at the beginning of the horrors of a 200 year period of Christian persecution. Peter explains that 4 attitudes are necessary in order to be triumphant in persecution: 1) expect it (v. 12); 2) rejoice in it (vv. 13, 14); 3) evaluate its cause (vv. 15–18); and 4) entrust it to God (v. 19). some strange thing happened. “Happened” means “to fall by chance.” A Christian must not think that his persecution is something that happened accidentally. God allowed it and designed it for the believer’s testing, purging, and cleansing.

    1 Peter 4:16

    Christian. In the earliest days of the church, “Christian” was a derisive term given to those followers of Christ (cf. Acts 11:26; 26:28). Eventually, followers of Christ came to love and adopt this name.

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, there are various points of agreement, some of discomfort or disagreement. Let me quote a classic text or two on the eve of Peter’s martyrdom and likely about the time of Paul’s:

    2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. [–> Parallel with the glory at Sinai]

    19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed [–> recognition of OT], to which you will do well to pay attention [–> study, live by it] as to a lamp shining in a dark place [–> light of truth dispels darkness of untruth, a key function of scripture], until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture [–> notice focus on written, God inspired communication, in a recognised body of writings, a canon by implication] comes from someone’s own interpretation. [–> both as originally spoken and now as soundly taught and applied, not twisted to deceive] 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along [–> with typhonic force] by the Holy Spirit [–> nature and power of inspiration].

    False Prophets and Teachers

    2 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies [–> the counterfeit, so the need for a yardstick of correct and corrective reference against what snuck in under false colours — wolves in shepherds’ clothing cf Ac 20 and misled out again], even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. [–> effect of scandals caused by the counterfeit] 3 And in their greed [–> a mark of the false] they will exploit you with false words. [–> contrast, GENUINE words coming from God and not twisted to exploit] Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep . . . .

    3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. [–> take the full weight of that “other”]

    17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. [ESV]

    Likewise note allusion to Mark etc in Luke’s prologue and thesis statement:

    Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. [ESV, note implication of using other sources and being a written yardstick of certain, holy truth. Paul cites Lk in a Pastoral Epistle.]

    Now, again, notice these from Paul:

    1 Cor 14:36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

    2 Tim 3:10 You, however, have followed my teaching [–> this implies the written also, not just oral], my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

    14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed [–> The underlying Gk, Pistis, speaks to convincing rhetorical proof], knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [–> thus OT, first learned from Mother and Grandmother], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [–> cf. esp Isa 52:13 – 53:12 as a classic text from Ac 8:26 etc, also cf Heb]

    16 All Scripture [–> note class of document, characteristics to follow, extends from OT to the then emerging NT, long before councils formally acknowledged by listing the even then historic documents as scripture] is breathed out by God [–> plenary, verbal inspiration working through human authors, a partnership of inspiration] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness [–> the end and intended application, cf Isa 55:1 – 12], 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work. [All ESV]

    There is more.

    Here is a key one from Paul’s School, likely by Apollos (in my view as advised):

    Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son [–> thus, the gospel proper and the Gospels etc that bear it], whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature [–> This is in the Nicene Creed, as part of the Sonship . . . creator is a primary defining characteristic of God, hence the assiduous attacks on this principle under false colours of science], and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. [–> one reference is to the partly intelligible to us laws of creation and providence sustaining the cosmos, another is to law in our hearts the law of our morally governed nature, a third is to written scripture, which we may search diligently as the Berean Jews of Ac 17:11 to see if teachings are so] After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. [–> key gospel themes] [ESV]

    Note the recognitions and claims.

    Note the provenance, c 40 – 67 AD.

    The stories of kings and councils locking out arbitrarily and imposing what they will — cf Dan Brown’s silly claims and many others of like ilk — are examples of false teaching intended to undermine and discredit manifest truth bought at horrific cost.

    KF

  93. 93
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Yes, guys. I have read the New Testament several times. In fact, I read it every day and have done so for decades. No need to paste long selections. I know the text. It’s a question of authoritative interpretation. If you do not believe that any such authority exists, then any interpretation must be accepted.

  94. 94
    PaoloV says:

    SA,

    In any book we may read, the most valid interpretation of the written text is the author’s interpretation.

  95. 95
    PaoloV says:

    SA,

    We all should keep reading it until we get it right.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, pardon but it’s not clips without context or reasoning. Notice, particularly highlights and interleaved comments. The above demonstrates that in the key window, 40 – 70 AD, the established hebraic scripture principle was understood by the earliest Christians as being extended by the Living Word, who authorised record by his commissioned, Spirit empowered Apostles and certain close associates who served as co-authors and/or aides (here, Mark, Luke, likely Apollos; also note others recognised as co-authors and scribes, similarly James the just and Jude). Consequently, within that mid-C1 text [right time, place, people] we see a personal and mutual recognition of Scripture-writing inspiration, theopneustos, which brought the emerging writings into the circle of documents useful to build sound conviction [from infancy up], to teach truth with the voice of God, to rebuke, correct and train towards being fully equipped to do good works. Thus, too, the need for skill to cut a straight furrow [rightly divide] on the part of leadership based on sound knowledge and capability extends across not only OT but the NT also. Then, their successors continued to recognise the writings with theopneustos power, as the first circle of post apostolic writers [95 – 115 AD] shows, involving 25 of 27 plus of course the OT, with use of Septuagint implying recognition of the legitimacy of sound translations. Also, note solemn warnings against false scripture-twisting teachers, often described as wolves pouncing on the flock, sometimes as disguised as sheep . . . and by extension as false shepherds. Paul also warns against spurious documents purporting to be from him, taking steps to authenticate . . . both of which further underscore the force of the accepted scripture principle by c 50 – 68 AD. This is 200+ years before formal recognition of lists of books by councils. Such shows that the councils recognised established facts rather than imposing essentially arbitrary lists and rulings. Likewise, the Nicene creed demonstrates beyond doubt that such councils and leaders sought to teach based on the counsel of the text, rather than imposing novelties, though of course novel terminology was used in key cases, indeed the notorious debate over an iota shows how careful they were to secure sound summary that would correct heresies, here, Arianism — and Constantine accepted the summary for the sake of Empire unity despite his own clear Arian sympathies, which continued in his family leading to the 381 reaffirmation and expansion. The theopneustos principle and power are antecedent to such councils and demonstrably date to the point of composition and mutual recognition. The Christian faith has been scriptural from its outset, indeed the very first sermon by the church pivoted on drawing out the significance of texts, cf. Ac 2. Therefore, I suggest a rebalancing of remarks in such light. KF

  97. 97
    PaoloV says:

    SA,

    It may help to read what KF wrote @91 & @95 in order to further reduce misunderstandings.

  98. 98
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    Such shows that the councils recognised established facts rather than imposing essentially arbitrary lists and rulings.

    Again, there remained disagreement and variation on what the canon of the New Testament should be through the 4th century as I already pointed out. The councils gave authoritative rulings on what the New Testament was. That was an action of the Church, which had authority given by Christ to determine the canon. You are speaking as if the local communities were independent of Church authority, but that is not true. The local churches complied with the rulings of the Councils and that’s how an official text was made known to all the local churches.

  99. 99
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    The Christian faith has been scriptural from its outset, indeed the very first sermon by the church pivoted on drawing out the significance of texts, cf. Ac 2.

    The New Testament, as a scriptural text, did not exist when that sermon you reference was preached. The authoritative Church is the “pillar and ground of truth”. The New Testament came from the Church. The Christian Faith did not come from the Scriptures. It came from Christ, preaching to the apostles, then the apostles establishing local communities and writing the texts. The New Testament came later. The Christian faith came before the New Testament was written.

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, on canon: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/canon-scripture-wayne-grudem KF

    PS: I noted Ac 2 as first sermon, noting how it is rooted in the scripture principle, this is that. This has ever since been the pattern: scripture grounds preaching and its substance is built on it. As I noted above, what we have is a recognition of fresh, gospel driven writings with theopneustos, as part of the fulfillment of the promise of messiah. The NT era and general church age are part of the fulfillment of say 2 Pet 1. The gospels, history, epistles and apocalypsis came first, they were clearly collected quite early and the collection was used with Septuagint, leading to structure of the Bible as two testaments, long before councils acknowledged then centuries long practice.

    PPS: I add, Jesus taught 26 – 30, by 35 – 8 Creed was there in what 1 Cor 15 records, by 37 – 49 initial writings, with bulk at same time as Pauline Mission and then the persecutions, final works early 90s.

  101. 101
    PaoloV says:

    The scriptures were written for those of us who weren’t there when Jesus ministered in the Middle East, was crucified and got resurrected.

    They were written and circulated within the church long before the C4 councils reviewed and discussed them.

    John 20:29-31
    Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
    Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  102. 102
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Agreed, the Scriptures came from the Church. The Church existed for 400 years before the final New Testament was compiled. In fact, the Church existed before the Gospels were written. St. Peter preached the Gospel without having texts – he preached what Jesus had taught him directly and from what he experienced. St. Paul did the same thing. So, the Church was not founded on the New Testament, but rather, the New Testament emerged out of the Church community that was created by Christ and founded on the apostles.

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I note as fair comment that you keep repeating phrasing which is open to questionable interpretations; despite our already expressed concerns. This reminds of the principle of systematic theology (and a lot of other disciplines) that key statements must be carefully worded to avoid undue ambiguity, indeed that was a focal point on the debate over an iota. It finds reflection in Jesus’ remark on jots and tittles [small distinctions between Heb letters]. More generally, linguistic communication pivots on distinctions as Paul observed on musical notes in 1 Cor 14. BTW, hence the importance of precise technical language and terms; e.g. the triune view of Godhead. I suggest you read again the above, especially on the theopneustos power root of why a document was scripture from the moment of composition, on the recognition of such status from the outset, on the mutual recognition of a corpus of scripture across C1 [i.e. it is established fact that the Christian faith emerged as a faith in its own right (more than just an odd sect of Judaism) across the same forty-year window that the core of the NT was written and recognised as scripture — thus one cannot properly claim that the one or the other came first], and also the already linked fuller discussion by Grudem: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/canon-scripture-wayne-grudem . Yes, we find by 95 – 115, use of 25 of 27 books (two short ones were not used incidentally) as scripture in the first surviving post-apostolic writings, and later in that Century we see the Muratorian list, then across the first several centuries, we can reconstruct the entire NT less 11 vv from cites, and finally we come to the conciliar lists of 367 and 397. The existence of theopneustos power writings (functional scripture) mutual recognition among the apostolic circle and the reception by early communities as functional scripture forming a de facto corpus that went with the already existing hebraic canon was an organic phenomenon of the founding generation of the Christian faith, rather than a product of rulings by councils or decrees of local bishops [overseers] etc. KF

  104. 104
    PaoloV says:

    KF @102:

    “key statements must be carefully worded to avoid undue ambiguity”

    “key statements must be carefully worded to avoid undue ambiguity”

    “key statements must be carefully worded to avoid undue ambiguity”

    Should it be repeated more?

    The contextual meaning of words is extremely important. However, unfortunately very few care about this. Perhaps that’s a reason why communication between people is broken.
    Most conversations seem like individuals talking past each other. Really sad.

    Also, when we read any text, we shouldn’t make it say more than it does.

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    PaV, I am afraid, you are hitting close to the mark. This is Grudem:

    “[i]n systematic theology, summaries of biblical teachings must be worded precisely to guard against misunderstandings and to exclude false teachings.” [Systematic Theology, Zondervan (1994), p. 24.]

    I keep thinking how carefully worded key statements in Mathematics, the Sciences, Philosophy and Law are.

    KF

  106. 106
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    indeed that was a focal point on the debate over an iota.

    Debate resolved in Council, through the authority of the Church. The same process was used in the discernment of New Testament canon.

    why a document was scripture from the moment of composition, on the recognition of such status from the outset

    There was debate within the Christian community for centuries. The Church made a final declaration on what the New Testament contained. It is the authority of the Church that resolved the debates. The fact that some local communities recognized the sacred character of books is merely from the power of the authoritative teachers (bishops) who were the same men (or their successors) who met in council. The local churches are not separate from the Church. There are debates at the local level, and these are resolved with the authority of the Council. The New Testament came after the local churches already existed.

    Christian faith emerged as a faith in its own right (more than just an odd sect of Judaism) across the same forty-year window that the core of the NT was written and recognised as scripture — thus one cannot properly claim that the one or the other came first

    Here is our disagreement. I believe you are saying that Christianity “emerged” across a forty-year window. So, that prior to the existence of the New Testament writings, there was no Christian faith. But that contradicts what Paul says as he writes to existing Christian communities who possessed the faith, before the New Testament was written. The Christian faith did not emerge over 40 years. It came from Christ and was given to the apostles. They spread the faith before the New Testament was written. The New Testament comes from the Church, which pre-existed the writings.

    mutual recognition among the apostolic circle and the reception by early communities as functional scripture forming a de facto corpus that went with the already existing hebraic canon was an organic phenomenon of the founding generation of the Christian faith, rather than a product of rulings by councils or decrees of local bishops

    The councils are part of the organic process. Local apostolic communities had the authority of bishops, who made local decisions on what the inspired scripture was. The authority of writings was known from the origin, and in the early years, it was known if an apostle wrote the text and if it was divine by that aspect. But there was considerable debate. The Councils do not make arbitrary decisions. They make authoritative decisions by the power of God. That is how the debates were resolved.

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Charles Hodge gives more detail on how serious theology is developed:

    CH 1: In every science there are two factors: facts and ideas; or, facts and the mind. Science is more than knowledge. Knowledge is the persuasion of what is true on adequate evidence. But the facts of astronomy, chemistry, or history do not constitute the science of those departments of knowledge. Nor does the mere orderly arrangement of facts amount to science . . . . The Bible is no more a system of theology, than nature is a system of chemistry or of mechanics. We find in nature the facts which the chemist or the mechanical philosopher has to examine, and from them to ascertain the laws by which they are determined. So the Bible contains the truths which the theologian has to collect, authenticate, arrange, and exhibit in their internal relation to each other. This constitutes the difference between biblical and systematic theology. The office of the former is to ascertain and state 2the facts of Scripture. The office of the latter is to take those facts, determine their relation to each other and to other cognate truths, as well as to vindicate them and show their harmony and consistency. This is not an easy task, or one of slight importance . . . .

    CH 2: Every science has its own method, determined by its peculiar nature. This is a matter of so much importance that it has been erected into a distinct department. Modern literature abounds in works on Methodology, i.e., on the science of method. They are designed to determine the principles which should control scientific investigations. If a man adopts a false method, he is like one who takes a wrong road which will never lead him to his destination. The two great comprehensive methods are the à priori and the à posteriori. The one argues from cause to effect, the other from effect to cause . . . Every one knows how much it cost to establish the method of induction on a firm basis, and to secure a general recognition of its authority. According to this method, we begin with collecting well-established facts, and from them infer the general laws which determine their occurrence . . . .

    CH 5: . . . The man of science comes to the study of nature with certain assumptions. (1.) He assumes the trustworthiness of his sense perceptions. Unless he can rely upon the well-authenticated testimony of his senses, he is deprived of all means of prosecuting his investigations. The facts of nature reveal themselves to our faculties of sense, and can be known in no other way. (2.) He must also assume the trustworthiness of his mental operations. He must take for granted that he can perceive, compare, combine, remember, and infer; and that he can safely rely upon these mental faculties in their legitimate exercise. (3.) He must also rely on the certainty of those truths which are not learned from experience, but which are given in the constitution of our nature. That every effect must have a cause; that the same cause under like circumstances, will produce like effects; that a cause is not a mere uniform antecedent, but that which contains within itself the reason why the effect occurs.

    Second, The student of nature having this ground on which to stand, and these tools wherewith to work, proceeds to perceive, gather, and combine his facts. These he does not pretend to manufacture, nor presume to modify. He must take them as they are. He is only careful to be sure that they are real, and that he has them all, or, at least all that are necessary to justify any inference which he may draw from them, or any theory which he may build upon them.

    10Third, From facts thus ascertained and classified, he deduces the laws by which they are determined . . . .

    The Bible is to the theologian what nature is to the man of science. It is his store-house of facts; and his method of ascertaining what the Bible teaches, is the same as that which the natural philosopher adopts to ascertain what nature teaches. In the first place, he comes to his task with all the assumptions above mentioned. He must assume the validity of those laws of belief which God has impressed upon our nature. In these laws are included some which have no direct application to the natural sciences. Such, for example, as the essential distinction between right and wrong; that nothing contrary to virtue can be enjoined by God; that it cannot be right to do evil that good may come; that sin deserves punishment, and other similar first truths, which God has implanted in the constitution of all moral beings, and which no objective revelation can possibly contradict. These first principles, however, are not to be arbitrarily assumed. No man has a right to lay down his own opinions, however firmly held, and call them “first truths of reason,” and make them the source or test of Christian doctrines. Nothing can rightfully be included under the category of first truths, or laws of belief, which cannot stand the tests of universality and necessity, to which many add self-evidence. 11But self-evidence is included in universality and necessity, in so far, that nothing which is not self-evident can be universally believed, and what is self-evident forces itself on the mind of every intelligent creature . . . .

    In the second place, the duty of the Christian theologian is to ascertain, collect, and combine all the facts which God has revealed concerning himself and our relation to Him. These facts are all in the Bible . . . It may be admitted that the truths which the theologian has to reduce to a science, or, to speak more humbly, which he has to arrange and harmonize, are revealed partly in the external works of God, partly in the constitution of our nature, and partly in the religious experience of believers; yet lest we should err in our inferences from the works of God, we have a clearer revelation of all that nature reveals, in his word; and lest we should misinterpret our own consciousness and the laws of our nature, everything that can be legitimately learned from that source will be found recognized and authenticated in the Scriptures; and lest we should attribute to the teaching of the Spirit the operations of our own natural affections, we find in the Bible the norm and standard of all genuine religious experience. The Scriptures teach not only the truth, but what are the effects of the truth on the heart and conscience, when applied with saving power by the Holy Ghost . . . .

    [I]n theology as in natural science, principles are derived from facts, and not impressed upon them. The properties of matter, the laws of motion, of magnetism, of light. etc., are not framed by the mind. They are not laws of thought. They are deductions from facts . . . It is no less unscientific for the theologian to assume a theory as to the nature of virtue, of sin, of liberty, of moral obligation, and then explain the facts of Scripture in accordance with his theories. His only proper course is to derive his theory of virtue, of sin, of liberty, of obligation, from the facts of the Bible. He should remember that his business is not to set forth his system of truth (that is of no account), but to ascertain and exhibit what is God’s system, which is a matter of the greatest moment. If he cannot believe what the facts of the Bible assume to be true, let him say so. Let the sacred writers have their doctrine, while he has his own.

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I have even more reason to hold points of concern given your last, and though UD is not in the main on such matters I believe these cases illustrate diverse ways of thought and their effects. For instance, the Christian Faith was a movement within Judaism c 30 AD, but by c 70 AD, there had been a generation-length process that led to an independent character even though there were many Christians who were practising Jews and saw themselves as serving the Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures, rightly so. Do not overlook that Paul was seized captive in 57 AD in the Temple while completing Nazirite vows and could rightly call to the Pharisees among the Sanhedrin as a valid member of their party, pupil of Gamaliel. At the same time, the emergence of the gentile mission established (after Cornelius and Co) that one need not become a Jewish proselyte to be a Christian, the focal issue of the 49 AD council. In that context, the core of what is now the NT was written, being written, received and recognised as having the same theopneustos power as the existing OT corpus. My point is, such a writing speaks with the voice of God from the moment it is written, and its power and authority come from that voice. Church leaders and councils recognise this, on the inner and outer signs such documents have. Those documents specifically shaped the understanding of the faith, and were part of its founding process, though the cornerstone is Jesus of Nazareth and the core claim: messiah. It is that confession that is the cornerstone of the faith. Councils and their debates or conclusions are secondary — they sought to recognise, they did not create out of whole cloth or arbitrarily impose. Yes, the very first churches were founded before documents including the creed of 1 Cor 15:1 – 11 were composed, and such could have been all over the Mediterranean basin. However, it is clear that by 40 – 50, theopneustos-level writings were being composed, the Passion narrative of Mk may date to 37. The 1 Cor 15 confession may not have been reduced to writing until 55, but was formally composed 35 – 38 (the authority lies in the substance, not the reduction to text — which creates record). The letter of 49 AD is clearly scripture, and not merely incidentally so as background information like the letter to the Governor when Paul was taken from Jerusalem by night. Galatians and 1 and 2 Thess are about 50, the bulk was by 67 or so. These came about organically with the churches but take their essential nature from the theopneustos factor, not from in effect being voted in. KF

  109. 109
    PaoloV says:

    SA and KF,

    After listening to these two messages:

    Religion (video 1)

    Religion (video 2)

    I have realized that some of my statements, at the beginning of our discussion about “religion” in relation to the Christian faith, were inaccurate and must be corrected. My mistake.
    You may want to watch the above messages if possible in order to understand this better. Pastor Alistair Begg explains it quite well.
    Please, accept my correction. Thanks.

  110. 110
    PaoloV says:

    KF @104:

    Yes, agree.

  111. 111
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    Yes, the very first churches were founded before documents

    Thank you

  112. 112
    PaoloV says:

    Clarifications:

    Christians are people who know their own spiritual poverty. They look to Jesus for what they do not have, and know that in Him they have all that they need. (Colin Smith)

    Jesus said that blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Humility goes against the trajectory of religion.
    In all religions salvation is hoped for at the end. One does things hoping to please God and gain His favor.
    In Christianity salvation is at the beginning. Christians do things in response to having received God’s grace (undeserved favor).
    Christians are sinners that have been saved by God’s grace, through genuine repentance and faith in Christ’s redemptive crucifixion and resurrection.
    That is not in any religion.

    However, as pastor Begg indicated in the videos posted @108, our relationship with Christ is religious too. But it’s unique. Note that not all who claim being Christians really are.

    BTW, no bishop in Rome or anywhere else has the primacy in the church. That’s misleading misinformation at best. Let’s make that clear.

    The church -the community of Christ’s followers everywhere- is one and it belongs to its founder Jesus Christ alone and it doesn’t have any main headquarters on Earth.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, I should say NT documents, as Ac 2 underscores through copious use of OT cites and exposition. The Christian faith has been scripture-based from the outset; the concept, Messiah or Christ, is rooted in scripture as a key part of hebraic eschatology. The NT came about as amplification on fulfillment placed on record in the age of messiah and was organically tied to the founding, apostolic generation. I repeat, the authority and power of scripture comes from the theopneustos factor, which is there from the moment of composition — even, before the ink dried. KF

    PS: Notice, Lk 24:

    13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles1 from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    Also, Ac 1:

    Ac 1: 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach [–> implication, how was this CONTINUED through his Spirit and Apostles and church?] , 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Back to focus, using dictionary stack, on

    atheism
    Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
    Related to atheism: Richard Dawkins, New atheism
    a·the·ism (??th?-?z??m)
    n.
    Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
    [French athéisme, from athée, atheist, from Greek atheos, godless : a-, without; see a-1 + theos, god; see dh?s- in Indo-European roots.]
    a?the·ist n.
    a?the·is?tic, a?the·is?ti·cal adj.
    a?the·is?ti·cal·ly adv.
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
    atheism (?e?????z?m)
    n
    (Philosophy) rejection of belief in God or gods
    [C16: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos godless, from a-1 + theos god]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
    a•the•ism (?e? ?i??z ?m)

    n.
    the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    [1580–90]
    Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
    atheism
    the absolute denial of the existence of God or any other gods. — atheist, n. — atheistic, adj.
    See also: God and Gods
    -Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

    There is of course a classic definitional move since at least the 1880’s, to redefine as ABSENCE of belief in God. This is often used rhetorically to suggest that as only those who make an affirmation have a burden of proof, this is a default and it is theists who have a burden of proof that it is doubtful can be met.

    Nonsense.

    We all have intellectual duties of care in general and as regards worldviews and linked cultural agendas. There are associated duties to truth, right reason, prudence (including warrant), sound conscience, fairness, justice, etc. So, when one holds a belief about a core issue on the root of reality, it is not isolated from wider worldview commitments and duties under comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power.

    Also, given that post Godel, not even sufficiently complex mathematical systems are subject to proof beyond doubt, that one cannot provide absolute demonstration is not at all the same as that one does not have adequate warrant to hold responsible certainty about key points of knowledge. In this context, the issue is reasonable, responsible faith in a credible worldview. Where, the claim one has “absence of belief in” God is often patently evasive. Why such a strange lack?

    Could it be that one knows enough to realise that trying to disprove the reality of God is an almost impossible task, once there is no demonstrable incoherence in the theistic concept of God? (Where, we note, that the old attempt to use the problem of evil to lead to such a contradiction has failed; a failure that is particularly evident, post-Plantinga.)

    Now, such is significant, especially given point 7 from the cited six-country study on atheists:

    7. Also perhaps challenging common suppositions: with
    only a few exceptions, atheists and agnostics endorse
    the realities of objective moral values, human dignity and
    attendant rights, and the ‘deep value’ of nature, at similar
    rates to the general populations in their countries. (3.1)

    A key to this, is the point that our mental lives are inescapably under moral government, through undeniably known duties to “truth, right reason, prudence (including warrant), sound conscience, fairness, justice, etc.” The attempt to deny such rapidly undercuts rational discussion and the credibility of thought and communication, much as is implicit in what would happen were lying to be the norm. So, one who rejects the objectivity of such duties discredits himself. However, it is also possible to hold an inconsistency; accepting objective morality but placing it in a framework that undermines it.

    A start-point is to see that our rationality is morally governed through said duties. This means, our life of reason operates on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap, requiring that it be bridged. That can only be done in the root of reality, on pain of ungrounded ought. And no, BB, indoctrination, socialisation and even conscience do not ground ought. We need that the root of reality is inherently and essentially good and wise, a serious bill to fill.

    You may dispute this (so, as a phil exercise, provide an alternative _____ and justify it _____ ), but it is easy to show that after many centuries of debates there is just one serious candidate: the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. This is the heart of ethical theism.

    ET provides another angle. How much of reality do we know, how much of what is knowable do we actually hold, and how much of that is certain beyond future correction? The ratio is obviously trending infinitesimal.

    So, what if what is required to know God is, is beyond what one happens to know, or what one is willing to acknowledge? In short, the positive affirmation that there is no God is an act of intellectual irresponsibility, given our inability to show that being God is incoherent and our effectively infinitesimal grasp of what is knowable. Indeed, as it is easy to see that reality has a necessary being root (something of independent existence that therefore has neither beginning nor end), given that traversal of the transfinite in finite temporal-causal steps is a supertask and given that were there ever utter non-being, as such has no causal powers that would forever obtain, if a world is, something always was. Thus, the question is, what that necessary being is, and that is further shaped by our being under moral government starting with our rationality.

    Where also, a serious candidate to be a necessary being either is, or is impossible of being as a square circle is impossible of being. God is clearly such a serious candidate (if you doubt, kindly justify: ____ ), and so the one who poses as knowing that God is not implies having warrant to hold God impossible of being. Where, given the centrality of root of reality, ducking the question is clearly irresponsible.

    So, atheism is intellectually questionable.

    KF

  115. 115
    PaoloV says:

    KF @112:

    “the authority and power of scripture comes from the theopneustos factor, which is there from the moment of composition — even, before the ink dried.”

    “the authority and power of scripture comes from the theopneustos factor, which is there from the moment of composition — even, before the ink dried.”

    “the authority and power of scripture comes from the theopneustos factor, which is there from the moment of composition — even, before the ink dried.”

    Should this be repeated more times?

    BTW, the Greek term KF used means “given by inspiration of the Spirit of God : divinely inspired“

    That was in C1 long before the councils in C4.

  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    PV, literally, God-breathed, as in to speak, one must breathe out. KF

  117. 117
    PaoloV says:

    KF,
    Good clarification of such a fundamental term. Thanks!

  118. 118
    PaoloV says:

    KF,
    I appreciate the insightful comments you have posted in this discussion. They have made quite a difference in the understanding of the fundamental concepts we have discussed, which can’t be compromised.

  119. 119
    OLV says:

    KF,

    Your comment @113 is very important too.

    BTW, I want to expand on what I wrote @108 trying to correct my previous comment @4 on Christianity not being a religion. After listening to the messages in the two video links @108, where the term “religion” is understood as the outward expression of an internal reality, I realized that a more accurate statement would have been that true Christianity is not a worthless religion, but a religion acceptable to God, because it’s based on a relationship that was initiated by God through His grace poured on individual sinners that were brought to saving faith in Christ as their eternal Lord.

    This clarification should be added to the ones @111 which try to correct some misconceptions that were expressed in this discussion.

  120. 120
    OLV says:

    KF,
    The time has come to reveal that I have used different names to post comments here.
    It was an interesting learning experience to participate in the discussions taken place in this serious website.
    You’ve done a tremendous work maintaining this forum active. Well done. Keep it going.
    You’re on the good side of history. Stay in it.
    Thanks.

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