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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Exalting Resurrection This Resurrection Season

THE RESURRECTION (His and Ours) Is Not An Asterisk


We covered the comforting of the bereaved in a short series elsewhere on this blog, but let me pause and offer a quick reminder of the place of resurrection in our hope. The mythology of the "immortal soul" (which we have also looked at in previous posts) and the simplistic "heaven/hell" traditional dichotomy have combined to distract us from great undoing of the curse on men and the creation.

Let's turn back to scripture as we get closer to the seasonal celebrations.


JESUS WEPT


When an undiluted understanding of the resurrection is appreciated, its glories rise above all other things.

The glory of the resurrection of Christ is the great undoing of the curse of Adam ("In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" - 1 Cor 15:22). He died, but did not decay (first reversal) and then rose in an immortal body (final reversal). The "Last Adam" (1 Cor 15:45) is the first of many who will rise from the sleep of death (1 Cor 15:20,23). 

If we understand that all who have died are dead (in the fullest sense) and that our hope is that of Job's (though we die and are eaten by worms, we will see our Redeemer in our resurrection, and not before, "yet in my flesh I will see God" - Job 19:26), the resurrection rises above all else. It is not an afterthought, but it is the great victory over death!

WHEN we are resurrected, only THEN we can say "death where is thy sting? Grave where is thy victory?" (1 Cor 15:54-55)

William Tyndale notes this about the doctrine of "bodyless souls" in his answer to Thomas More, 

"And I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine [1 Thess 4:13-15], if he had wist [known] it, that the souls of their dead had been in joy; as he did with the resurrection, that their dead should rise again. If the souls be in heaven, in as great glory as the angels, after your doctrine, shew me what cause should be of the resurrection)."

IOW, if joy and heaven and glory are experienced at the moment of death, the resurrection is then relegated to as asterisk. When we exalt the hope of our future resurrection as our ONLY hope, we exalt His resurrection above all else!

COMFORT ONE ANOTHER WITH THESE WORDS


No one in scripture is ever comforted with any thought apart from the hope of a future resurrection. As we have seen, the great resurrection chapter, 1 Cor 15, speaks of the sleep of the dead and the conquering of death only in resurrection.

No parties in heaven. No water fights in the River of Life. No partaking of the Tree of Life before their time. As scripture says of David, the dead are dead and their bones are with us to this day. No one, apart from Christ has yet ascended (Acts 2:29; 34).

We ask the bereaved why they weep. The answer comes back, we weep because of our loss. This is true, but if knew that a loved one had been taken away to a glorious mansion in the south of France, living without a care, without sickness, without pain, enveloped in love and fully aware that we would be joining him soon... would we weep? Well, our understanding is limited, but the Lord's is not.

We tell the bereaved about life in a mansion, but the Lord speaks of death as sleep, with the promise of resurrection. He never suggests anything else.

OUR FRIEND LAZARUS SLEEPS


When Lazarus died, the Lord wept (Jn 11:35). When Lazarus' sisters are told by the Lord that they will see him again, they do not answer, "yes, when we die and go to glory!" No, they answer (correctly), that they will see him "in the resurrection." They wept. Jesus wept. Because Lazarus was dead (the Lord previously referring to his death as "sleep"). But we do not weep as those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13), our hope is future, our hope is resurrection (1 Thess 4:14). It is a future hope that will be realized in resurrection.

That is the glory of the resurrection of Christ. It is not an asterisk. It is not just "proving" something. It is the great undoing of Adam's curse! It the hinge upon which all scripture swings.

Here is comfort, just as we do not sense time passing in sleep, so it is with death. We lay down in sleep and open our eyes as though no time has passed. Because He lives, we will live also! "God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power." (1 Cor 6:14)

"We should learn to view our death in the right light, so that we need not become alarmed on account of it, as unbelief does; because in Christ it is indeed not death, but a fine, sweet and brief sleep, which brings us release from this vale of tears, from sin and from the fear and extremity of real death and from all the misfortunes of this life, and we shall be secure and without care, rest sweetly and gently for a brief moment, as on a sofa, until the time when he shall call and awaken us together with all his dear children to his eternal glory and joy. For since we call it a sleep, we know that we shall not remain in it, but be again awakened and live, and that the time during which we sleep, shall seem no longer than if we had just fallen asleep. Hence, we shall censure ourselves that we were surprised or alarmed at such a sleep in the hour of death, and suddenly come alive out of the grave and from decomposition, and entirely well, fresh, with a pure, clear, glorified life, meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the clouds . . . . Scripture everywhere affords such consolation, which speaks of the death of the saints, as if they fell asleep and were gathered to their fathers, that is, had overcome death through this faith and comfort in Christ, and awaited the resurrection, together with the saints who preceded them in death." 
-Martin Luther A Compendium of Luther's Theology, edited by Hugh Thomson Ker, Jr., p. 242 
(as quoted here: http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/luther-tyndale.htm)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Traditions That Interfere With True Understanding

Becoming a Berean


I was born, raised, educated, and immersed in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a place steeped in tradition. While serving as a Religious Education teacher in 1991, I had a crisis of faith. I started my search for the truth. I read my textbooks, Catholic publications, history books, and finally the Bible. Cut to the end, the Bible won.

After coming out of everything I had ever known into the new life as a regenerated follower of the Lord Jesus Christ (Kýrios Iēsoûs Christós) over the course of only a few weeks, I was blessed with the conviction that I was never going to just take someone's word for something again. That does not mean that I will not listen to or read the works of others, but (as I've stated many times on the pages of this blog), in the end, I am responsible for my personal beliefs. Over the years, my personal theology has grown and changed (and will continue to do so until my death).

The Bereans listened to Paul, but checked what he was teaching against the scripture (Acts 17:11).

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica,for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scripturesevery day to see if what Paul said was true. -Acts 17:11 (NIV)


Seeking God's Plan Not Our Version of It


The Lord has been patient with me during the past 28 years. I (eventually) came out of the RCC into loneliness of sorts (I initially tried to stay in the RCC, but knowing what I know, that didn't last long). I suddenly had no faith community. I quickly filled that void with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (I worked at a university at the time) and eventually found my way into an Assemblies of God community.

Lovely Christians, but as with all groups, I wasn't going to just adopt their doctrines sans scrutiny. After a little over a year, I decided to move on. Well, the rest of the story is over two decades long, so I will get back to the central point of this post.

If we are to going to understand God's plan and purpose for the ages, we must put aside the traditions of men. Some of these traditions are not as egregious as others. For example, I think it can be demonstrated that there were 5 crosses on Calvary and not the traditional 3. Doesn't make or break the faith, but if you hold to 3 you may run into critics who will accuse scripture of having mistakes or contradictions.


Truth Over Tradition (Hades, Gehenna, and Hell)


From my perspective, Christianity is hindered by the general adoption of Catholic mythology which is borrowed from Greek mythology. These taint our understanding of scripture and the plan and purpose of the ages. For example, when we read of those cast into out darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, or of those thrown into Gehenna, the "fiery hell" of mythology is assumed instead of a scriptural understanding.

We have covered Gehenna and Hades (both translated as "hell" in many translations) in previous posts, but just as a quick review, let's look one example of each and search the scriptures for context lest we end up in confusion.

But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court [Gk: Sanhedrim]. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell [Gk:Gehenna]. 
-Matt 5:22 (NIV)
This verse is from the Sermon on the Mount; a passage some call the Magna Carta of the Church.

 We also compare its use in just one example from Mark 9.

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell Gk:Gehenna], into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

-Mark 9:43

Setting aside the enormous problems created when we try to apply these to regenerated believers in this age, let's look at what the Lord is referencing (time, place, audience) and let scripture interpret scripture.


And they have gone forth, And looked on the carcases of the men Who are transgressing against me, For their worm dieth not, And their fire is not quenched, And they have been an abhorrence to all flesh! 
-Isaiah 66:24

If the "Sanhedrim" (Young's Literal Translation) isn't enough to let us know this is not the Body of Christ in this age, but rather points to Israel, the context of Isaiah 66 should inform us. This is after Israel has been restored to her land, her promises, and her kingdom. We also see that those thrown in "Gehenna" (the Valley of Hinnom, the "Valley of Slaughter" Jer 19:6) are "carcases." That is, these are real, physical, dead bodies. These is not ghosts thrown into a ghostly fire to be tortured by God.

Greek mythology and Catholic teaching on "hell" confuses us. When we see "Hades" or "Gehenna," tradition inserts "fiery eternal torture." We've just looked at Gehenna (as we have in a previous post in greater detail), now just one example of Hades. I've chosen the New Living Translation here as it is triply influenced by tradition.

Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
-Matt 16:18

The triple problem here is that the NLT fails to distinguish the two "rocks" referenced here (Gk: Petros/petra); it inserts its presumption of "powers" instead of "gates" (Gk: pyle); and it changes "prevail" (GK: katischýōto "conquer." This last change is in the neighborhood, but the context of "gate" leans towards the primary meaning of "to be stronger."

That is, "gates" don't attack, overpower, or conquer anything, but they can be stronger than a force coming against them. We wouldn't say "gates" could "conquer" anything as such.

If you're a fan of the CCM artist Carman, you'll know he built half his career on the mythology of Satan leading an army from "hell" against Christians. Unfortunately, this verse has nothing to do with such a thing. Scripture informs us that Satan is "the prince and the power of the air." He is currently nowhere near "Gehenna" nor does he control it. Gehenna has no fire as I write. Again, the Lord refers to a future age (Isaiah 66).

So where does the Lord get this picture? The NIV, which is full of reference notes, rightly notes that the "gates of hell/hades" is "the realm of the dead," but it fails to cross-reference two key verses which clearly give us the meaning (NKJV).


Will they go down to the gates of Sheol? Shall we have rest together in the dust?
-Job 17:16

I said, “In the prime of my life I shall go to the gates of Sheol; I am deprived of the remainder of my years.”
-Isaiah 38:10

This a picture of death (the return to dust). As we have consistently seen on the pages of this blog, pointing directly to scripture, "death" is the great enemy of man. Death is what needs to be overcome. Death is what Christ reversed in his burial (lack of decay) and resurrection and what we will destroy in our own resurrection!

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
-1 Cor 15:54-55

This is Paul's only use of "Hades" (hell) in his writings, and it refers to believers. His only other reference (in Acts 13) refers to the Lord conquering the grave (quoting from the Psalms). He never uses it of unbelievers.


Dump the Traditions of Men


We must get traditional ideas, born out of mythology, out of our thinking if we want to fully understand and rejoice in what Christ accomplished in his death, burial (lack of decay/corruption), and resurrection.

So let's look at Matthew 16:18 again in Young's Literal Translation (plus some original Greek) with Job and Isaiah and "the gates of Sheol" in mind:

`And I also say to thee, that thou art a [pebble], and upon this [boulder, Peter's confession of faith] I will build my assembly, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Death will not hold those who profess alone the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior in the grave! When we are called, we will burst through death unto new, resurrection life! Death is the "final enemy" (1 Cor) and we look forward to that day when death shall be no more (Rev)!

We do have an enemy in Satan and the principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph 6), but the answer to those fiery darts of doubt, confusion, religion, false light, etc... is found in "the whole armor of God" (Eph 6) and in "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2).

A good parallel study concerning the traditions of men and the resurrection is our study of 2 Cor 5:8.

Link: The Most Misquoted Verse in Scripture








Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Quick Note on the Malefactor's Request of the Lord on Calvary

I hope to cover the numerous traditions connected to this time of year which depart from scripture (we've already looked at Lent), but I wanted to note something quickly about Luke 23:42 and the plea by the malefactor on the cross near our Lord.

We will address the content and context of the conversation in a future post, but here I wanted to look at the difference in English translations. We've noted elsewhere that Gentiles during the Lord's earthly ministry needed to recognize him as eternal Creator God and not as the promised Messiah of Israel. But when we look at the English translations, we see one enormous omission in some:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (KJV)


Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (NKJV)


he said to Jesus, `Remember me, lord, when thou mayest come in thy reign. (YLT)


Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (NLT)


Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (NIV)


And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (ESV)

Note that in most of the newer translations the word "Lord" is omitted. This is because the word (Gk: κύριος or kýrios) does not appear in he "critical" texts. This is a major change. We will see in another study on this exchange that the malefactor (not the thief) is only promised "Paradise," not necessarily a place in Israel's earthly Kingdom (the only kingdom in view here). Our point here is that the omission of "Lord" borders on blasphemy. "Jesus" should be accompanied by Lord, especially when used by Gentiles. 

I have noted in another post that sometimes the more modern versions give a better sense of a verse (so I am not condemning them altogether), but we must understand the shortcomings of some of the manuscript evidence used for those translations. 


Monday, March 18, 2019

Catholicism And Contradictions


The majority of mankind think that they think; they acquiesce, and suppose that they argue; they flatter themselves that they are holding their own, when they have actually grown up to manhood, with scarcely a conviction that they can call their own. So it was, and so it ever shall be.
-E.W. Bullinger
 In my 27 years in Christendom, I have discovered the above to be too often true. I can see where I have been guilty of adopting certain views or interpretations before doing the necessary work. But I believe this dangerous problem is no more true anywhere than it is in the Catholic Church.

This past Friday, according her wishes, a funeral mass was held for my mother. As the child who is in the city with the church, I was tasked with working with the church on the arrangements. I didn't have a lot of say, but I was asked to choose the scripture readings. I was given a list of choices for each reading (Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel). My choices:


  • Job 19
  • Romans 5
  • John 11


I chose scriptures that speak of the hope and truth of resurrection because of the finished work of the Savior. Those familiar with my posts know that I hold that resurrection is the great hope of believers. This is how believers in scripture are comforted.

When it came time for the homily, we were pleasantly surprised. The priest gave a wonderful message on the great hope of resurrection for all who believe. I had chosen John 3:16 as the response verse and he referred to it as the great promise of life to those who believe. He cast a large net to all present who believe. Give the man his due, he spoke great truth! It was a message on the hope of resurrection rarely heard in Evangelical pulpits.

He spoke of what Christ did for all of us on the cross. He spoke of Christ's one act undoing Adam's one act. It was pretty spot on.

But then the man turned to the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" wherein we were offering a sacrifice for my mother's soul? The whole thing, and every prayer, turned from the Savior to our offerings for my mom's soul. (I won't quote the mass here, you can search Catholic prayers for those in Purgatory.) It was a complete denial of the work of Christ we were just celebrating. They also make clear that when they say "church" they mean the Roman Catholic Church alone. And, of course, only Catholics in good standing were invited to participate in communion (which is fine with me, I reject transubstantiation and I don't participate in the "Lord's Supper" in this age anywhere).

That brings me to my mother's friends. From the priest to every Catholic who visited the family receiving line, they all said things along two lines: her suffering is over, she is now in bliss with my deceased father. No. That is not what you teach! That is not what the Catholic Church believes at all! They teach and believe she is suffering beyond anything we can imagine. She is suffering for her sins in flames (the "flames of love" as one Catholic "saint" put it).

The even greater irony is that several of these people gave us cards informing us mass will be offered for her by some Catholic order or another. But you told me her suffering is over and she is rejoicing with my father?

I briefly covered Purgatory in a recent post. You can read that if you want more information. The point here is that they don't even follow their own doctrines. If I had said to these devout Catholics when they said her suffering was over that they were wrong and that she is suffering for hers sins in flames with pain we cannot imagine, I'd most likely be labeled a "Catholic-basher" or worse (I know because that has been true for the last 27 years). Or they might simply think I'm a cruel monster.

I am not even touching the hem of the garment on Papal teaching in regard to non-Catholics and ex-Catholics. As the priest spoke to all us as believers who will find life in resurrection, he was denying Pope, Council, and Catechism which teach salvation only for Catholics and the certainty of fiery torment forever for those of us who have left the CC.

People are free to believe what they want. But if you're going to claim the Catholic Church is keeper of all spiritual truth, then contradict it, don't trouble me when I contradict it. I'm glad these Catholics don't just parrot Catholic dogma, but when a clear contradiction is presented, they don't seem to care or question it either. As I noted in a another post:

On that day, no denomination, no church, no board, no council, no catechism, no creed, no pastor, no teacher, no seminary... no one will stand in your stead. There are 7 billion theologies in the world and you are responsible for ONE... your own.... and you will answer for it.

My mother is dead. My father is dead. Our hope is that the professions they made in Christ's perfect sacrifice and resurrection means we will see them in the flesh in an age to come. This is the hope the priest spoke of... I just don't think he really believes it. Of course, he could have purposely been speaking in double-speak. I attended a seminar as a Catholic Religious Education teacher wherein we were taught this technique when speaking with Evangelicals.

Since I have no way to read a man's heart, I hope he truly believes what he spoke in that homily and that he will experience resurrection. God is calling Catholics (as I was when he found me) into the light of the truth of the finished work of the Savior, unfortunately some choose to stay in the Catholic Church (more on that in another post).

All praise and glory and honor to our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Is the Masoretic Text Corrupted? (Quick Take)

Quick Take!


Another guy I like, Doug Woodward, has the following chart in his book which is intended to show that the Jews corrupted the Hebrew text to hide the truth that the Gentiles would trust in the Messiah. The evidence for this particular charge is based on Isaiah 42:4.






The man who posted the page on Doug's Facebook page noted that the ESV is taken 90% from the Septuagint (LXX) and is thus a superior version as the KJV is taken from the "corrupt" Masoretic text.


The chart suposedly reveals the "corruption" in Isaiah 42:4, noting that the passage in Matthew lines up better with the Septuagint. What is missing from the chart is the ESV translation which looks amazingly similar to the KJV.

He will not grow faint or be discouraged
    till he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his law. (ESV)
He shall not fail nor be discouraged,
till he have set judgment in the earth:
and the isles shall wait for his law. (KJV)



Just a cursory look at the use of "isles" and it's clear this is a reference to the nations/Gentiles as Matthew clarifies.

And the ESV regularly uses "coastlands."

Isaiah 51:5b "the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust." (KJV), 
Isaiah 51:5b "the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait" (ESV)

That's better? The KJV here, at least, uses "shall trust" instead of "wait." Isn't that the original "problem"? Well, that addresses the ESV issue (it's essentially the same as the KJV), but what about the "corrupt" Masoretic text and the "inspired" Septuagint?

Gen 10:5 introduces us to the "isles" of the nations (Gentiles). Greek "nēsos" (LXX). Read what the "waters" in Revelation 17 represent. 

"The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages." (17:15). 
Waters = Nations = Gentiles.

(I leave a caveat here only because I have never broken down that verse, but in any case "waters" is used figuratively of people.)

νῆσοι (isles) used in Gen 10:5 is also used in LXX Ps 97:1 and is both times translated in the ESV as "coastlands."

Another Psalm of the Messiah's reign is Ps 72 wherein we see the "isles" ("coastlands" ESV) representing the nations/gentiles. God obviously inspired figurative language as we see "isles" and "waters" used in both OT and NT for "nations" (gentiles). The ESV consistently uses "coastlands."

May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him! (ESV)

I'm not seeing where the ESV or the LXX is somehow better (and I'm not a huge fan of the KJV)?

Granted, I have not seen the whole chart or book, but the chart in the picture is somewhat misleading. The poster boasts of the ESV, but it uses the same language as the KJV (and in the case of Isaiah 51 it's worse).


Be Careful with the Septuagint 


I realize the KJV has its issues (and many translations use "isles" or "coastlands"), but the Septuagint contains the Apocrypha (and its heresies). The Hebrew Canon excludes those books. The Septuagint is useful for helping us understand some Greek words as they may be used in the NT, but it's not superior to the Hebrew texts, in my opinion.


"Isles" is a reference to the Gentiles, clarified in the Greek NT. Isaiah 11, the great chapter on Israel's kingdom, gives us the same word and its sense in the Hebrew. Here it is in the NKJV (vs. 11-12):

It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the ISLANDS of the SEA.
He will set up a banner for the NATIONS,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.


The blessings of Gentiles through Israel was known since Abraham. "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (NKJV). This truth goes far beyond Is 42. If they wanted to hide it, they did a terrible job.


To sum: I don't think Isaiah 42:4 is corrupted in the Hebrew. The sea (coast-lands, nations just beyond Israel) is often a picture of the nations (gentiles) in both OT and NT. The Lord's ministry as given in Matthew is to Israel alone and he uses the sea to refer to the nations. I don't believe you will find any gentile from Gen 12 - Acts 28 who is blessed apart from some connection to Israel or an Israelite. The "nations" often listed are those around Israel. When Paul references Gentile blessings in that Romans 15 passage, it is in light of the "grafting in" to Israel that was going on in that age. The scriptures quoted from 2 Sam, Psalms, Deuteronomy there all refer to "Goy" in the Hebrew texts.

The future blessing of the nations (gentiles) is right in the same chapter:

"I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles [Hebrew, TR: Goy]" -Isaiah 42:6. 

It is not fully hidden nor fully obscured. What Paul does say was obscured was the understanding of Gentile blessing (see Romans 16:24-26). Do we charge God as a deceiver? Of course not. "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter." -Prov 25:2

The exalting of the Septuagint over the Hebrew texts gives credence to the Apocrypha and the arguments of the Christ-denying churches in "Christendom" who take the position that it is correct and the Hebrew Canon is in error.

When the Lord lays out the breadth of the Canon, he refers to the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias (Mt 23). Genesis to 2 Chronicles and the captivity. The Septuagint (and the KJV from 1611-1884) include the questionable books of the Apocrypha. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Lent Comes of Age

The original post was written in 2009


“You make the Word of God of none effect by your tradition.”


Christianity Today (repeated in The Alabama Baptist) notes that Lent is “one of the oldest Christian Traditions.” TAB laments that the season is not practiced in many Southern Baptist churches. I have a similar lament: that it is practiced at all in Southern Baptist churches (or by Evangelicals anywhere).

Let’s take a look at this “old Christian tradition.”

We can all agree that it certainly is not a practice given to us in the pages of scripture. So what does that mean? Well, it means that some guy made it up. Whether he made it up in AD 100 or in AD 2000 makes no difference; he still made it up. Now, if you are one who has no problem with stuff people make up that isn’t in the Bible, then this post isn’t necessarily directed at you.

I just can’t understand why groups which claim Sola Scriptura (authority comes from the scriptures alone) would fawn over such a glaringly unbiblical and historically deadly practice. It’s not terribly surprising, though, as more and more Evangelicals fawn over the “beautiful” and unbiblical practices that go on all around us (practices that were denied by the faithful for centuries - at the risk of their very lives).

How we got here…


OK, so we have some guy who created this “holy season." He likes it so much he starts telling his friends about it. They can’t seem to find it in their Bibles either so some of them don’t care to follow the “new Christian tradition.” This upsets the originator of Lent so he gets his like-minded buddies to form a council and they vote that Christians MUST practice Lent.

Lent was formalized at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. The earliest evidence of any kind of Lenten practice dates to the 3rd Century.  CatholicEducation.org gives us a picture of the original restrictions:

For example, Pope St. Gregory (d. 604), writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: "We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs." Second, the general rule was for a person to have one meal a day, in the evening or at 3 p.m.

But those rules were eventually abandoned (or as CE puts it "evolved").

These Lenten fasting rules also evolved. Eventually, a smaller repast was allowed during the day to keep up one's strength from manual labor. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Friday. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed totally.
Remember as you read these directives, violating them is deemed "sin," in some cases very serious, soul-destroying sin. The season puts true Christians in bondage to fear and succors unbelievers in their delusion that they are pleasing God. It hides the fact that these practices are a mockery of the finished work of the Savior.


The Bible is Sufficient



Heresy and false shepherds were alive in Paul’s day… and more were expected. Shall we look at their “traditions” and say to Paul, “Well, Paul, that stuff may have been wrong in your day, but nearly 2000 years have passed! Surely, doctrines that old must have become truer over time”?


No, that would be silly (I’m trying to be nice).

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. - Acts 20

God’s dealings with man have changed at different times for different purposes, but those changes originated with God and are confirmed by his Holy Word. Now, we may debate the content of that Word, but we surely should be able to rule out anything contradictory to it.

The Evangelical site gotquestions.org notes:

The rule that Catholics cannot eat meat on Fridays during Lent is actually more lenient than what most Catholics in history have had to observe. Centuries ago, the Catholic Church had a law that forbade consuming meat on all Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Later, this rule was relaxed to remove meat from the diet on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays. In 1966, Catholic bishops in America, with the blessing of Pope Paul VI, further relaxed the rule. Nowadays meat is only prohibited on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Fridays of the Lenten season. Catholics are obligated to observe this fast as a minimum..
The "threat" accompanying all these rules is standard in Catholcism: knowingly eating meat on a Friday in Lent, with the full consent of your will, may result in being tortured by fire by God for eternity if not confessed and absolution received from a priest via your assigned act of penance.

Just one of the countless Christ-denying doctrines of the RCC. The only reason the RCC exists (according to her) is to be the sole channel of God's specific grace which can get you to heaven (eventually). If the work of salvation is complete, there is no need for the RCC. This is why (a) they cannot accept the finished work and (b) why we should stop pretending the RCC is just another expression of true Christianity.

Ancient Doesn't Make It True


Yes, Lent is old, but just because something is “old” doesn’t make it any better than if I invented it yesterday. Next time you hear about some “lovely” tradition, do as the “noble” Bereans did with Paul’s doctrines in Acts 17:11 “search the scriptures whether these things are so.”


The progression:
  • Doesn’t Exist 
  • Some Guy Makes it Up 
  • It Gets a Little Older 
  • It Gets Even Older and Changes 
  • It Becomes “Ancient” 
  • Nobody Remembers that Somebody Made it Up
  • It's Ancient, so people assume it's true 

Time is not the arbiter of truth. The passage of time doesn’t make anything more “true” nor does it make the statements of men any more authoritative.

I’m trying to reconcile the words in Christianity Today… they used the adjective “Christian” for a practice they know well is not biblical (a doctrine connected to promises and condemnations that are antithetical to Evangelical Christianity). It makes me wonder… if I made up an unbiblical practice today and declared that failure to honor it as I dictate would amount to one risking his eternal fate… how quickly would Christianity Today and the Southern Baptist Convention swoon over my lovely “Christian tradition”?

You know what I'm giving up for Lent? The unscriptural traditions of men.

"Let no man judge you in regard to a holy day..." (Col 2:16)

I am free of the rudiments of this world (Col), biblical (practices given for other dispensations) and unbiblical. It would be sin for me subject myself to those rudiments. For these reasons (among others) I neither practice nor acknowledge the practice of observing man's Lent. The Alabama Baptist, Christianity Today, and the Southern Baptist Churches which endorse it should be ashamed.