Sunday, February 19, 2017

MARTIGNONI AND MATTHEW 19:12



A little over a year ago, we posted a couple of articles addressing some of Catholic apologist John Martignoni’s newsletters.  The articles can be found here:



Martignoni also has a series of videos titled, “Questions Protestants Can’t Answer.”  We recently ran across one that we would like to comment on.  This is from his Question #21 and the video can be found here:


The question revolves around Matthew 19:12:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.  

So, Martignoni’s question is, “Who is Jesus talking about here?”

He seems to automatically think that Jesus is speaking of a very specific group, organization, or denomination here.  And since this doesn’t “fit the profile” of Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, or non-denominational ministers (at least he says that he is not aware of any), he seems to think that it is obvious that Jesus must be speaking about the priests of the Roman Catholic Church here.  He must be speaking of the Latin Rite in the Catholic Church.  According to Martignoni, it is these Roman Catholic priests who “fulfill” Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:12.

While we agree with John Martignoni that here Jesus is speaking about celibacy (abstaining from sex), we cannot agree with Martignoni’s conclusion.

This passage is not about members of one particular denomination or organization who are celibate.  We find no such thing in Scripture.  It is about individuals from all walks of life with a special gift from God (the ability to abstain from sex in order to devote one’s total focus and energy on serving God).  This is the Protestant answer to Martignoni’s question.

Does Martignoni think that no one apart from the Roman Catholic Church is celibate?  Or, if not, does he feel that they are not important enough to mention?  Must it be that God could only be referring to a group or organization of celibates?  No, indeed.

But Martignoni’s logic would be like the Mormons saying that Jesus’ words in Luke 24:32 (“Did not our heart burn within us?”) are specifically referring to THEM (with their famous “burning in the bosom” reference).  Just because they can identify with the words of Jesus does not prove that Jesus is speaking specifically of the Mormon church.

Or it would be like a particular Baptist church saying that John the baptist immersing people in baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10) is a reference to their church, specifically, since they do the same. 

Of course, that is ridiculous, but this is what John Martignoni is doing.  He seems to be pretending that Jesus is referring only to Roman Catholic priests.  But no, you cannot apply a scriptural text to yourself and act as though God is referring specifically to your group just because you have, or do, something similar to what’s in the text.  Sorry, John, it’s not all about you and your church.

Furthermore, Martignoni also mentions that the celibacy in this verse applies “whether they are currently single or currently married.”  But we would contend that this cannot be.  It cannot apply to those who are married, since those married are obligated to tend to the sexual needs (“due benevolence”) of their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:3, 5).  Matthew 19:12 is speaking of those who voluntarily choose to not be encumbered with the responsibilities of a spouse and family.  It is unwise and unbiblical to marry and then try to be celibate for the rest of your life.  So, Martignoni’s statement about those “currently married,” yet celibate, is wrong.  Jesus’ point is IF YOU HAVE THIS GIFT, then, and ONLY then, should you abstain from marriage / sex to serve God more fully.

But we believe that there are many in the Catholic Church (and also in Protestant and Orthodox churches) who have thought that they had this gift, but were sorely disappointed when they found out they didn’t.  No doubt, much damage has been done to the cause of Christ because of this.  So, if you think that you have this gift, you’d better make sure!

Conclusion

Catholics, like Martignoni, are quick to “see themselves” in certain passages of Scripture.  In too many places in the Bible, they think that they see certain unique teachings of their own church when there is no such reference.  They’ll try to force Catholic meaning into such verses.  This is simply a pitiful attempt to legitimize the Roman Catholic Church.

It would not be so objectionable if John Martignoni had said, “We, as Roman Catholics, follow and obey that particular Scripture in Matthew 19:12.”  But it is altogether arrogant to say that God is speaking specifically about his church when there are, undoubtedly, others who also “fulfill” that passage.

Again, there is no special organization or class of priests that Jesus is speaking of here.

Not only is John Martignoni’s question easily answered by Protestants, but it also reveals that he is simply assuming  / reading something into the text.


Friday, January 20, 2017

SOLA SCRIPTURA AND THE “CONSTITUTION” ARGUMENT



As our readers may already know, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”) is a key part of many Protestants’ world view.  Since Catholics believe in an inspired “Magisterium” and an inspired “Sacred Tradition,” both (supposedly) being on equal footing with Scripture, they have come up with a number of arguments against the Bible Alone concept.  One of those is the “Constitution” argument.

The Constitution argument goes something like this:

“Sola Scriptura doesn’t work because, in this view, each person interprets the Bible for himself, causing all sorts of disagreements and confusion.  You Protestants would never allow the interpretation of an important document like the Constitution of the United States of America to be subject to the whims of any and every citizen, would you?  There would be no unity.  This would only lead to chaos!  So why would you allow this kind of abuse to happen to an even greater document, like the Bible?”
   
Ok, first of all, no true Sola Scriptura person believes that the Bible should ever be subject to the “whims” of anyone reading it.  If you truly want to get something out of it, the Bible cannot be read flippantly or haphazardly.  It should be studied carefully and read with a humble, prayerful and reverent attitude (Isaiah 66:2; 2 Timothy 2:15).  It is not a toy to play with, or a book you can mold into anything you desire.  This is a misrepresentation of Sola Scriptura.

Furthermore, there are basic hermeneutical principles involved in Bible interpretation on which we pretty much all agree.  Hermeneutics is the science of Bible interpretation.  Certain rules must be followed when reading Scripture, for example, observing the context of a passage (both immediate and overall), historical perspective, genre, grammar, and the writer’s intent.  So again, the Bible cannot be interpreted “just any way you feel like it,” as those using the Constitution argument would accuse us.

Second, Catholics using the Constitution argument assume that there will be ONE human head over everyone in the church, just as there is one person (or body of persons) over the United States.  But the Bible doesn’t say this about the church.  The Constitution of the United States of America was meant to have a very specific group of elected officials to determine / interpret the exact meaning of the Constitution.  But this concept of one person being over the church is absent from the Bible.  So, this is not an accurate premise to start with, and thus, not a valid comparison.

When it comes to law and order (as in the Constitution), there must be a final human arbiter (to at least make people behave “on the outside”), but Scripture is able to deal with the heart and make people behave “on the inside,” as well.  The law deals with the external behavior, but Scripture deals with the conscience.  The judge’s responsibility is interpreting the Constitution for lawmakers.  But God, the Creator, is able to reveal His truth (Scripture) even to babes, i.e., to the simple, humble and “unlearned” (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21). 

Third, concerning unity, remember that unity is not the Constitution’s nor the Bible’s sole reason for existence, nor its greatest emphasis.  Is unity more important than truth?  Is unity greater than righteousness?  Of course not.  Unity is indeed important, but that unity has to be built upon something greater than itself.  But listening to Catholics attacking Sola Scriptura, one would swear that unity has to be the highest of all virtues, the greatest good, and the solution to mankind’s problems.  We have to remember that any cult or unorthodox group can have unity, but God wants us to have UNITY IN THE TRUTH OF HIS WORD (John 17:17; Ephesians 4:11-14).  In the Bible, God puts far more emphasis on truth and sound doctrine than He does on unity.  Without truth and sound doctrine, unity is meaningless.

No doubt, Catholics will say, “But we do have truth and sound doctrine.  In fact, it is only the Catholic Church who has the ‘fullness of the truth’ (CCC #819).”

But not only does the Catholic Church not have the sound doctrine and “fullness of truth” that it claims to have (as this blog and many other websites attest), but it doesn’t even have the level of unity that it claims for itself.  See here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/12/sola-scriptura-and-divisions.html

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2014/02/there-aremany-important-choices-that-we.html#comment-form

Interestingly, the Catholic Church’s idea of “unity” also includes union with Protestants (for example, the dangerous and unbiblical “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document) and also union with pagan and demonic world religions, as well.  See here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/08/cant-we-all-just-get-along-ecumenical.html

We are here warning everyone that this same false unity will also be used by the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), also known as the antichrist, to form his ungodly one-world church (Revelation 13:7-8, 12).  We can only hope and pray that this thought is just as disturbing to others as it is to us.  You see, this craving for unity at any cost is very dangerous.

Conclusion

Having a single “authoritative” human authority over the church does not guarantee truth, just as a single ultimate authority over the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee that the right thing will be done.  An ultimate human authority can become corrupt.  This same “ultimate authority” over the Constitution has produced evil things like the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, which regrettably, became the law of the land.  In the same way, having a person (pope) over the entire church does not guarantee truth or righteousness, either. 
 
But the Catholic will say, “But, unlike the judges who interpret the Constitution, the pope is infallible!”  Then why try to use the Constitution argument in the first place, since it is a false analogy?  So, now they must admit that the Constitution argument is an invalid “apples and oranges” comparison, and the resulting mismatch negates this whole argument.

So, the bottom line on this unity issue is this - you can either:

1) Accept the fact that there are always going to be differences / disagreements in Bible interpretation, (yet with imperfect, but acceptable, levels of unity in different places) or 

2) You can default and let someone else “infallibly” decide what Scripture says, like a church whose “unity” is an all-inclusive tolerance for false doctrine, or a dictator-type church with its forced unity.

This second type of “unity” does not work, and neither does the “Constitution” argument.


Monday, November 28, 2016

THE AMILLENNIAL DECEPTION



Revelation 20:

v. 1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of  the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

v. 2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 

v. 3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The Bible refers to a specific 1000-year period that we call the Millennium.  This is a period of peace, tranquility and justice when Jesus Christ will rule and reign, when Satan will be bound and is no longer free to deceive the nations.

Present or Future? 

There are a number of different views on the Millennium, but the purpose of this article is not to address each one of those views.  We are only addressing the “amillenial” view.  The word “amillenial” actually means “no millenium” (the Greek prefix “a” meaning “no” or “not”).  Those people who hold this view do not actually say that there is no millenium, but rather that there is no future Millenium.  These believe that we are living in the Millennium NOW.  To them, the 1000 years is not literal, but only symbolic, and simply means “a long time,” or “an undetermined amount of time.”  They also believe that Jesus Christ is reigning on His throne now through the church.

This “amillennial” view is accepted not only by Catholics and Orthodox, but even by some Protestant groups, as well.  Nevertheless, we intend to demonstrate that it is an unbiblical and illogical view.

How Long is a Thousand Years?

First of all, is this 1000 years mentioned in Revelation literal?  If not, why not?  Catholics often tell us that this time frame is symbolic, and they will give other examples of “a thousand” in Scripture, like when it says that God owns “the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10).  Well, we know that God owns all the cattle on every hill, so this is obviously symbolic.   Or, they will point to 2 Peter 3:8, which says that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”  Again, symbolism.  But just because the term “thousand” is used figuratively in these places in the Bible, does not necessarily mean it has to be figurative in Revelation 20.

It is also quite interesting that Catholics emphasize the words of Jesus, “whoever eats My flesh” and “whoever drinks My blood” in John 6, in a literal sense.  They believe that His words are to be taken literally because of the fact that He is repeating them several times.  Yet, the term “thousand years” is mentioned six times in chapter 20 of Revelation, but they refuse to see this as literal.  We are not saying that repetition makes something literal, we’re saying that Catholics are inconsistent with their logic.

Ok, so suppose that it doesn’t really mean exactly 1000 years?  Suppose it is only symbolic of “a long time”?  So what?  That wouldn’t present a problem for the “Pre-millennial” crowd (those who believe that Jesus returns before the Millennium).  If the Millennium is only approximately a thousand years, then that’s still ok.  That doesn’t negate the “pre-millennial” view, nor does it necessarily support the amillennial view.  But we don’t see any reason to doubt that it is an actual 1000 years. 

But there is a more important issue in all this concerning the binding of Satan and his work on earth…

Imprisoned or Just “Limited”?

What does it mean for Satan to be “shut up” in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:3)?  Amillennialists believe that this simply means that he is now limited in his ability to deceive the nations.  They believe that before Jesus came, Satan had much more reign over the nations, but that now he is “bound” and therefore restricted in the sense that he cannot destroy the church, and he cannot stop the spread of the gospel.  In other words, there won’t be as much deception as there used to be.  But this is not what the passage says.  The text says nothing about a lesser degree of deception, or that Satan will merely be limited in his deceiving of the nations.  Revelation 20:3 specifically says “that he should deceive the nations NO MORE, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.”  

But Satan is still “the deceiver” in our modern world.  He didn’t just deceive the nations in the Old Testament, but he is also alive and well today.  Satan’s activity in the world is obvious.  

·      Revelation 12:9 – “Satan… which deceiveth the whole world…”

·      2 Corinthians 11:14 – How can Satan disguise himself as an angel of light if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?  

·      Matthew 13:19 – How can Satan “catcheth away that which was sown in his heart” if he is bound and locked up in the abyss? 
  
·      2 Timothy 2:26 – What “snare of the devil” is there if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?

·      1 Thessalonians 2:18 - “Satan hindered us” - How can Satan hinder someone if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?

Why Have Armor?

If Satan is bound, then why are we told to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17)?  If he is bound, he should not be able to attack… therefore, why are we “wrestling” at all?  And why is there a need for a shield to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”?  Someone who is imprisoned, bound by a chain, and sealed away in the abyss should be no threat to us, should he?  There seems to be a great contradiction here.

Alive and Well

If Satan is already bound, then why does the apostle Paul call Satan “the god of this world,” who is still blinding the minds of those who are not believing the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)?  Paul also said that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that NOW WORKETH in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
 
Furthermore, the apostle Peter tells us that Satan is free to roam about “as a roaring lion… seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  And again, the same John who wrote Revelation, says in his epistle (1 John 5:19) that the whole world “lieth in wickedness” (KJV)… “lies in the power of the evil one” (NASV)… “is under the control of the evil one” (NIV).  Why would these apostles, these trusted men of Jesus, say such things if Satan is indeed bound and we are living in the “golden age” today?  Does anyone really think that the nations are not deceived today?  Unfortunately, deception is everywhere.  Amillenialists want us to deny the obvious.

If Satan is still the god of this world, and still blinding unbelievers, and is now working in those unsaved people, and this world lies in his power and people are in his control today, then it is utterly foolish to think that we are now living in the glorious Millennium.  Just watch the evening news any day of the week.  We are flooded with stories of war, terrorism, persecution of Christians, violence and death worldwide.  We are also seeing the rise of atheism, false religions and apostasy within the church. 

An honest person would conclude that this is proof that Satan is extremely busy and influential in the world today.  His continual deception and activity is seen throughout the New Testament.  Furthermore, 2 Timothy 3:1, 13 warns us that the world is getting worse and worse, not better.  One has to ask, how can there be a falling away from the faith if Satan is “bound”?  We clearly see him working throughout the church age.  The truth is, Satan is far from “chained,” isolated, and “sealed” in the abyss today.  

The Overall Picture

If the apostle John wanted to portray the absolute disabling of Satan and his influence, making him completely inactive, he could not have described it in a better way than in Revelation 20!

This passage, whether symbolic or not, is NOT a picture of Satan merely being “hindered” or “on probation,” but totally paralyzed and isolated.  To say that he is merely “limited” in Revelation 20 is a gross (and unbiblical) understatement!  Rather, this prophetic imprisonment will be a complete and abrupt ending of his influence (at least during the Millenium).  All this points to the fact that we are NOT living in that special time of calm, peace and harmony today.  

The Real Millennium

If the Millennium is happening today, then one is forced to ask, where is the worldwide peace and righteousness promised during this period (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Isaiah 9:6-7)?  Where today can you find the wolf that dwells together with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6)?  Or the bear and the cow happily feeding together (Isaiah 11:7)?  Or has anyone casually allowed their children to play near the hole of the poisonous snake lately (Isaiah 11:8)?  Do we see everyone in the Middle East beating their swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4)?  Not hardly.  These things will happen during the Millennium, the 1000 years of peace, tranquility and justice that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we know for a fact that we are not yet in the Millennium.  

Scriptures Amillennialists Use

Catholics and other amillennialists will use certain Bible passages to try and prove that Satan is bound today.  Many will try to say that Jesus has already bound Satan through His work on the cross, and they will try to apply verses like Matthew 12:29 (where Jesus is casting out demons by “binding the strong man”), or John 12:31-32 (where Jesus says that the devil is “cast out”), or 1 John 3:8 (where the works of the devil are destroyed), along with many other similar passages.  They will try to equate these types of verses with Revelation 20:1-3 and its binding of Satan, saying that this is happening today, putting us in the Millennium now.  But none of these passages clearly refer to the event in Revelation 20. 

But a much greater problem arises here when you equate these passages with Revelation 20.  If the binding of Satan in Revelation 20 is simply referring to Jesus’ work on the cross, then what does the release of Satan in that same passage point to?  Does this mean that the work on the cross will be reversed or will somehow be incomplete at that time?  God forbid!

If verses like Matthew 12:29 , John 12:31-32, and 1 John 3:8 (above) really do apply to the devil’s binding in Revelation 20, then they must also necessarily connect to his release, as well.  In other words, whatever is accomplished in Satan’s imprisonment, must necessarily be UNDONE when he is released!  If we are going to be true to the comparison, then you would have to say that Jesus’ finished work on the cross becomes unfinished after Satan is loosed (even if temporarily)!  No real Christian would want to say that.  So, we cannot equate these verses with Revelation 20:1-3.  They are two different situations.

Yes, Satan was defeated and bound legally at the cross, but he is bound literally in this pit in Revelation 20:1-3.  We must distinguish between the spiritual accomplishment at the cross and its outworking in the physical and spiritual realms.  It will be in the future, but one day, we will see the full realization of Satan’s defeat.  Although Satan legally still has access to mankind today, he will have access to no one during his imprisonment in the pit.

If it can be demonstrated that Satan is NOT BOUND today (and we believe that this is obviously the case), then this is proof that we are not now in the Millennium.  Therefore, the amillennial position is false.

A Real Abyss

Some amillennialists maintain that the “abyss” in Revelation 20 is not literal, but only symbolic of the spiritual sphere or dimension in which Satan and his demons function.  They don’t believe that it is an actual location.  But if this is true, then why did the demons in Luke 8:31 beg not to be sent there?  Why would they fear being “sent” to the spiritual realm in which they already live?  Furthermore, how could Satan be captured and “cast into” the place where he normally functions anyway?  This makes no sense at all.  Thus, we see that this same abyss in Revelation 20:1-3 (although not physical) is a real and literal place. 
   
But the fact is, amillennialists seem to overlook such verses as Luke 8:31 above.  This is the case of the Gadarene demoniac, where the demons in the man begged Jesus not to send them into “the deep” (“bottomless pit” or “abyss” – the same Greek word used in Revelation 20).  They were speaking of a specific place which terrified them.  This abyss is not just a “symbol” or “metaphor.”  It is an actual place.  It is a prison for evil spirits, and it is the same place spoken of in Revelation 20:1-3.  Demons are not physical, but they are real.  The same can be said of the abyss.

A Strange Hermeneutic

A strange thing happens in the amillennial camp when dealing with prophecy.  They seem to interpret all of the prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus literally.  Yet, when interpreting the prophecies of His Second Coming, they are buried in allegory and symbolism.  They will only interpret these in a figurative way.  But why should anyone think that the prophecies about His Second Coming should be interpreted any differently than those of His First?  This is a poor and inconsistent hermeneutic (principle of Bible interpretation).  No wonder there are so many people that are confused on this topic.  But such is the result when there is too much emphasis on allegorizing or “spiritualizing” God’s Word.

Israel in Prophecy

Amillenialism is also an attack on Israel, at least indirectly, although perhaps not intentionally.  But this teaching has contributed to much of the anti-semitism (discrimination against Jews) existing today.  The biblical role of Israel in these last days is often missed altogether by such groups.  Many amillennialists say that the church is now the true Israel, and because of the Jews’ denial of Jesus Christ, their Messiah, the church is now receiving what was meant to be for the Jews.  Many believe that Israel has been rejected and the Jews have actually been permanently replaced by the church.  But this is not so (Romans chapters 9, 10, 11).

There are many unconditional promises to the nation of Israel and to its people.  In other words, they are going to receive ALL that God promised, sooner or later.  In many of the Old Testament prophets, major and minor, we see an abundance of promises concerning Israel in the Millennium.  Here is just a sampling:


  • Promises concerning a supernatural change in nature – Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1-2, 6-7; 62:4; 65:25

  • Promises concerning the Jews returning to Israel – Isaiah 11:11-12; Amos 9:15; Zephaniah 3:19-20

  • Promises with specific geographical references – Zechariah 14:4, 10

  • Promises of righteousness – Isaiah 9:7; 11:4-5; 35:8; 60:21; 62:1-2; Jeremiah 23:5-6

  • Promises of peace – Isaiah 2:4; 9:7; 60:18; Zechariah 14:11

  • Promises of overall blessings – Isaiah 35:10; 62:8-9; 65:19, 22-23; Amos 9:13-15

  • Promises of the rest of the world finally embracing Israel – Isaiah 2:2-3; 62:7, 12; Jeremiah 3:17; Zephaniah 3:19-20; Zechariah 14:16

Was God only trying to take up space in these Old Testament books?  Are all these promises just meaningless verbiage to be spiritualized away?  Not if God is faithful to His Word!  These promises make sense because the physical and geographical land of Israel was NEVER promised to the church, but to the Jews.  So these promises are indeed relevant for future Israel.

Why Does it Matter?

So what if a person believes in the amillennial view?  Does that mean he is a bad person, or that he can’t be saved?  No, that’s not what it means.  So why then should it matter which end-time view a person holds? 

Because truth matters.
 
If we think that this really is the Millennium we’re living in today, then we’re all living in a fantasy land… we’re living a lie.  God specifically said that the nations would NO LONGER be deceived during the Millennium, yet we are seeing more deception than ever today, even in our “enlightened” society.  If this is God’s Millennium, then this is a poor excuse of a “golden age,” and a terrible reflection on God’s idea of “peace, tranquility and justice.”  The amillennialists are truly insulting God in this.

Attacking God’s character even further, amillennialism is a view that paints God as One who makes empty promises of land and blessings; promises that are meaningless.  Worse yet, these promises were made to people who are called “His own” (John 1:10-11), even those He has called the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).  What kind of God does this?  After making such wonderful promises to His children, is He now admitting it all as a cruel hoax?  No, but this is the result of too much allegorizing of the Scriptures.

Since there are no hard and fast rules when interpreting prophecy in the way they do, amillennialism is a deceptive teaching, and its illogical, subjective, and unbiblical nature opens the door to greater deception.

See also these excellent articles: