Thursday, June 23, 2016

MARTIGNONI AND KORAH’S REBELLION



Today our focus is going to be on another of John Martignoni’s newsletters.  As you may remember, John Martignoni is a very popular and influential Catholic apologist who heads the “Bible Christian Society.”  In his Newsletter #278, he talks about Korah’s rebellion in the Old Testament (Numbers 16:1-40).  The newsletter can be found here:


Martignoni states:

“…Korah's Rebellion was a rebellion against authority - the authority of Moses and Aaron.  It was a rebellion against the authority of those that God had placed in charge of His people.”

First of all, we want to say that Martignoni is correct in his understanding of the events of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16.  Korah was indeed guilty of rejecting the God-ordained authority of Moses and Aaron.  Their (Old Testament) ministerial priesthood was absolutely legitimate.  But according to Martignoni, the sin of Korah suggests that we should have a New Testament ministerial priesthood, as well.  He points to the book of Jude, which looks back to the Old Testament and mentions the sin of Korah.  Concerning this, Martignoni says:

“The interesting thing is, and this is something that we, as Catholics, need to bring up more often than we do, is that the essence of Korah's Rebellion also existed in New Testament times.  We read in Jude 10-11 that there are men who ‘revile whatever they do not understand...’  and who ‘perish in Korah's rebellion’… Yet, what do we take away from Jude 10-11?  There were people, in the New Testament era, perishing in Korah's Rebellion.  What was Korah's Rebellion?  It was a rebellion against having a separate priesthood...an ordained priesthood...a priesthood that is set apart, in certain ways, from the royal priesthood of believers.   It's a rebellion against a priesthood that didn't include all of the people.”

Using Jude 10-11, Martignoni is insisting that 1) since Korah’s rebellion consisted specifically of a rejection of the Old Testament ministerial priesthood, and 2) since Jude applies Korah’s sin to some people in the New Testament, he then concludes that anyone rejecting a New Testament ministerial priesthood is also guilty of Korah’s sin of rebellion.  Martignoni continues:

“So, if that's what Korah's Rebellion was about, then how could Korah's Rebellion be occurring in the New Testament era, unless there was an ordained priesthood?  …This passage from Jude makes absolutely no sense unless there was, from the earliest moments of the Church, an ordained priesthood.  You can't have Korah's Rebellion in 1st century Christianity if there was no ordained priesthood - if there was no distinction between the royal priesthood of all believers and the ordained priesthood.”

There are a number of Catholic apologists who use this same type of argument and try to promote the idea of a ministerial priesthood in the New Testament.  But notice that Martignoni deals with no other verses in Jude except 10 and 11.  But verses 10 and 11 alone are not sufficient to determine the context of Jude’s use of Korah’s rebellion here.  We must look at the surrounding context to understand what Jude is saying.

Notice that there are other people, as well, who are mentioned in this context, and not just Korah:


  • The ungodly people (v.4), who crept into the church and rejected God’s concept of grace and turned it into a license to sin

  • The first generation of Jews (v.5), who were delivered out of Egypt but rejected God’s established covenant with them by their unbelief (Hebrews 3:16-19)

  • The fallen angels (v.6), who rejected God’s authority and special plan, and chose to follow Lucifer, instead (2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 12:4)

  •  The men of Sodom and Gomorrah (v.7), who rejected God’s natural order of “men with women” and chose the perversion of homosexuality, instead (Genesis 19:4-5)

  •  Cain (v.11), who rejected God’s plan of an innocent life dying for the guilty when he offered a gift of vegetables / fruit (the work of his hands), instead (Genesis 4:3-5)

  • Balaam (v.11), who rejected God’s special annointing on His people (the Jews), who were blessed by Him, but Balaam was willing to curse them for money (Numbers 22:5-21; 2 Peter 2:15)

  • And Korah (v.11), who rejected God’s plan of an Old Testament ministerial priesthood (Numbers 16:3)

The sins of all the others mentioned here had NOTHING whatsoever to do with rejecting a ministerial priesthood – it was ONLY KORAH (and his followers) that did this.  But the thing that all seven (mentioned above) were guilty of, is rejecting God’s intended plan.  This is what they all had in common.

The details of Korah are unlike all the others in this chapter.  To make Korah’s specific sin (i.e., rejecting a valid priesthood) the focus of Jude’s whole point, or to force the context of Korah onto the whole context of Jude is pure eisegesis (i.e., reading something into the context that is not there).  The purpose of Jude’s message is NOT to condemn all those who reject a ministerial priesthood, as Martignoni is suggesting.
 
Following Martignoni’s logic here would be like accusing everyone mentioned in Jude of being sodomites / homosexuals, just because Sodom and Gomorah happen to be mentioned (v.7).  Or it would be like accusing all those mentioned in Jude of rejecting God even after seeing Him face to face (as these angels had), just because the fallen angels are mentioned (v.6).  No, each person’s sin was somewhat different, but again, the common thread between them all is that each one was guilty of some type of rejection of God’s intended order.

Once again, Jude’s book is not an appeal to the church to go back to an Old Testament-type ministerial priesthood (Hebrews 10:18).  Jude was simply warning us to contend for the faith and to be careful of rejecting God’s plans, and he gives us different examples of rejection.

Catholic apologists like Martignoni try really hard to find a ministerial priesthood in the New Testament.  But there is no biblical evidence for such a thing.  Actually, the scriptural evidence points to one that has been discontinued in the New Testament church (e.g., Matthew 27:50-51; Hebrews 9:12, 28; 10:10-12, 14, 18).  See these articles:



Although John Martignoni correctly understands the facts of Numbers 16 (the story of Korah’s rebellion), he is misapplying what Jude said about it, and is promoting a false teaching.  There IS no ministerial priesthood within the pages of the New Testament, but only the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:1) and the universal priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5).

Sunday, May 15, 2016

DOES EXODUS 19:6 SUPPORT A CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD?



And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)

In the Bible, some things carry over from the Old Testament into the New.  Some things don’t.  Certain laws were specifically for the Old Testament Jews and for a specific limited time in history.  For example, grain and animal sacrifices… certain ceremonial, clothing and dietary laws… and the tabernacle and its furnishings are all only types and shadows of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1).  Those things were just for the Old Testament Jews to follow and they don’t carry over into the New Testament.  They were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4).  Another practice that is not intended for the New Testament is the “ministerial” priesthood, where only certain “ordained” men using certain ceremonies and rituals could mediate between man and God.

But the Catholic Church will insist that there is indeed a New Testament ministerial priesthood (like in the Old Testament) and one Catholic argument that they use to try and prove this is the “three-fold priesthood.”  This brief article is to specifically address this (and only this) three-fold argument.  The Catholic reasoning goes something like this:

1) In the Old Testament, the Jews had a high priest (Leviticus 21:10).
2) In the Old Testament, the Jews had ministerial priests (Exodus 19:22).   
3) In the Old Testament, the Jews also had a universal priesthood [one that makes every believer a priest] (Exodus 19:6).
4) Conclusion:  Therefore, since the New Testament also has a High Priest like the Old Testament does, and it also has universal priests like the Old Testament does, it would make sense if all three of these same positions would carry over into the New Testament.  If the Old Testament has three types of priest, so should the New Testament.

We could possibly agree with our Catholic friends if, AND ONLY IF, the premises were all correct.  Now, we agree with the first two premises, but not the third.  Therefore, we don’t reach the same conclusion, either. 
 
Many who read Exodus 19:6 still don’t realize that the Old Testament did NOT have a universal priesthood.  Why would we say this after reading that verse?  Well, a universal priesthood was indeed promised by God to the Jews, but it was a CONDITIONAL promise (i.e., it was dependent on the Jews’ obedience).  Read it in context.  Just one verse before, God said:

Exodus 19:5 - “Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine:” 

Please notice the “IF ye will obey My voice” part.  Catholics seem to always miss this point - that the Jews first needed to be fully obedient to God’s covenant in order to obtain such a special priesthood.  But we all know of Israel’s failure (as a nation) to obey God’s voice in the Old Testament.  They were clearly and willfully disobedient over and over again.  Therefore, the Jews never got to enjoy this status of being a universal priesthood.
 
For the Old Testament Jews, the promise of a universal priesthood was dependent on THEIR obedience to the Law.  For New Testament believers (both Jew and Gentile), the promise of a universal priesthood is dependent on our faith in JESUS’ obedience to the Law, and on HIS work on the cross.

Exodus 19:6 is still a valid promise to the Jews and they will indeed enjoy that privilege one day (Isaiah chapter 61).  There are many, many promises to the Jews not yet fulfilled, and Exodus 19:6 is only one of them.
 
So, the bottom line in this priesthood debate is this:  There were only two functioning priesthoods in the Old Testament – a high priesthood (Leviticus 21:10) and a ministerial one (Exodus 19:22).  And there are only two in the New Testament, as well - the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1), and a universal priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6).  No other Christian office of priest is mentioned in the New Testament.  Since there are only two in each Testament, and since the high priesthood is common to both, it follows that our New Testament universal priesthood has taken the place of the Old Testament ministerial-type priesthood.
 
Therefore, Catholics can’t use this “three-fold argument” to support the Catholic priesthood.  Not only does this apply to Catholics, but this also applies to the Orthodox Church and certain Protestant groups, as well.  It affects any group who claims to have such a “sacramental” or ministerial-type priesthood for today.

As stated earlier, this article was written specifically to address this one Catholic argument.  For a fuller treatment of the priesthood issue, see here:



Thursday, April 28, 2016

THE INFLUENCE OF MOTHER TERESA



Few people would recognize the name of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  But Agnes came to be known as “Mother Teresa of Calcutta” and this title was a name recognized worldwide by the time of her death in 1997.  Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who also actually won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  She spent a great part of her life caring for the sick and dying, the “poorest of the poor,” in the slums of India. 
 
Mother Teresa is an icon in the Catholic Church and has influenced multitudes, causing many to want to be like her.  It has been said of her that:


  •    She “spent her life with the Lord”

  •  [Upon her death] “The world has lost a saint on earth, but gained an extraordinary powerful intercessor in heaven”

  • “I am convinced that she is already in glory”

  •  “Mother Teresa imitated Christ and her life was a lesson in love”

  •  She was “an extraordinary missionary”

  •  “She was in every sense a woman of the Gospel”

  • “She is the United Nations.  She is peace in the world”

  • She has “opened for mankind the portals of heaven and shown us the Heart of God”

These are just a few of the things said about her by archbishops, cardinals, fellow nuns, and a former U.N. secretary-general.  See the quotes on the Catholic EWTN link here:


But Mother Teresa has made some comments that should be disturbing to any true Christian.  According to an EWTN article, Mother Teresa is quoted as saying:

“There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.  I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”  See here:


On another website devoted specifically to Mother Teresa, a priest who knew her states:

“Here is a short testimony of someone who was closely associated with Mother Teresa for 23 years:  ‘I am a Hindu and I never saw the slightest evidence in all my 23 years of knowing Mother Teresa in the Missionaries of Charity, of converting [other people to Christianity]…’”

And also:

“When I asked her whether she converted, she answered, ‘Yes, I convert.  I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist.  And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.’  She wanted people to come closer to God (however they understood Him)…”  See here:


So Mother Teresa was concerned about making you a better “whatever you are.”  Really?  And if you were a Satanist, would she have helped you to become a better Satanist, as well?  Is it an act of Christian love to cause someone to be more deeply entrenched in false doctrine than he is already?  It seems so, according to Mother Teresa.  But this is not love at all and this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The truth of the gospel will help a person to remove himself from that false doctrine, not embrace it (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
      
In encouraging them to be a better Hindu / Muslim / Sikh, etc., she absolutely ignored the fact that Jesus said that He is the only way to God (John 14:6).

To make matters worse, many of those whom she steered more deeply into their false religions were on their deathbeds, desperate for one last chance at the hope of eternal life.  Herein was a small window of opportunity for real hope and real help for those dying souls, and she held back the truth of the gospel from them! 
 
She could have attempted to turn them away from their error.  But what began as an incredible opportunity for salvation in a place of deep spiritual darkness, ended up being a wasted opportunity.  Those poor heathen souls in India had great physical needs, but their greatest need, salvation, was not met by Mother Teresa’s message.  What they needed was the simple, biblical gospel of Jesus Christ, which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

We have seen attempts by Catholics to justify Mother Teresa’s method, but no argument and no amount of damage control can justify this clearly unbiblical behavior.  This is not how a Christian should share the gospel or convert the lost.  Instead of having “profound respect for all religions,” she should have presented Jesus Christ alone as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Not only was Mother Teresa a voluntary victim of the Catholic Church’s unbiblical works-based system of salvation, she was also a voluntary victim of her own unbiblical universalist idea (the idea that everyone is a child of God).

Sadly, in spite of her undeniable faithfulness to the Catholic Church and her unmatched labor and continual sacrificial giving, she experienced what she called “the dark night of the soul” for many years during her ministry.  In her very personal writings to her superiors, she wrote:

“How cold – how empty – how painful is my heart – Holy Communion – Holy Mass – all the holy things of spiritual life – of the life of Christ in me – are all so empty – so cold – so unwanted.  The physical situation of my poor, left in the streets unwanted, unloved, unclaimed – are the true picture of my own spiritual life, of my love for Jesus…” [Emphasis added]  See the link below.

What an incredible statement to make by someone who claims to belong to Christ!  She wholeheartedly held to the Catholic Church’s teachings, and a more faithful follower could hardly be found.  Yet, the pitiful Mother Teresa felt miserable, alone, and desperate.  By her own admission, she never knew God’s peace during these many years, if she ever knew it at all.  Maybe – just maybe -- God intended through this to show the utter futility of salvation by works, by using someone of her caliber to reveal that truth.  If Mother Teresa (who was so totally devoted to her works) could not have peace about her salvation through good works, then how could anyone?!! (Philippians 3:2-9)

We fear that the canonization (sainthood) of Mother Teresa is inevitable.  She was so loved by so many that she will be eagerly rushed by the Catholic Church to the status of “saint.”  This makes her increased influence all the more disturbing.  Multitudes will end up in a Christless eternity (Matthew 7:13-14) because of her words.  She should have heeded and shared the simple biblical gospel (Acts 16:31), rather than her false universalist / Catholic “gospel” (Galatians 1:8-9).

Please prayerfully read the link below.  It is an article from a former priest who makes a hard-hitting, yet compassionate, case concerning Mother Teresa’s work and her pitiful plight: