Daily Archives: September 15, 2014

Catholic Questions: Do Catholics Worship Idols / Practice Idolatry?

 

Sadly, our Catholic friends and family members have been indoctrinated to believe that the use of statues, relics, and other articles is acceptable and even necessary for worship. They have been taught by the Roman Catholic Church that the images and icons used in the church are not actually “worshiped” but are simply “visual aids” to worship.

The Catholic Church long ago began making allowances for the idolatrous use of images by the way they reference the Ten Commandments. In the Catholic catechism and in most official Catholic documents, the first and second commandments are combined and then summarized with “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods beside Me.” Suspiciously absent is what comprises the second commandment in the Protestant numbering of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make any graven images.”

While it is understandable for “you shall not make any graven images” to be considered an aspect of “you shall not have other gods beside me,” based on the history of idolatry involving graven images throughout biblical and extra-biblical history, it seems unwise to not include “you shall not make any graven images” in every listing of the Ten Commandments. The omission seems especially suspicious in light of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has long been accused of the idolatrous use of graven images.

There are good reasons for not using images in worship. First of all, the use of physical images to “aid” worship violates the command to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24). Also, no one knows what God looks like, and John 1:18 is clear concerning this truth: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” And, because God is Spirit (John 4:24a), it is irreverent to delineate Him as an iconic representation. No one alive knows what Jesus Christ looked like in the flesh, and, since there were no cameras when He walked the earth, the only description of His appearance is found in Isaiah 53:2–3, which says that He had “no stately form or majesty.”

The lack of a physical description of Christ has not stopped the Catholic Church from depicting Him. Throughout Catholic churches, institutions, convents, monasteries, and every other Catholic-affiliated building and shrine, there are paintings of God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, Joseph, and a myriad of canonized saints. There are statues in abundance; there are relics, such as bone fragments, said to have belonged to certain saints. Some shrines even contain pieces of wood purported to be part of Jesus’ cross. All of these things are held to be sacred objects worthy of high regard. The idolatry is rampant and fairly obvious to non-Catholics, yet Catholics do not believe they are committing idolatry. They have been cleverly taught to believe that they do not worship these idols; they simply “venerate” them. The problem is that “veneration” still gives honor and reverence to something and/or someone other than God; therefore, veneration is idolatry.

Yes, Catholics do practice a form of idolatry, in violation of God’s command. The best way to reach our Catholic friends with the gospel of grace is to pray that the Holy Spirit will draw them and that they will respond to the Spirit’s leading. Their eyes and hearts are blinded by the false teaching they are continually hearing, and, until they begin to seek the truth, we must leave it in God’s capable hands. As we pray, we must keep loving them and trust that God will prepare the soil of their hearts (Luke 8:11–15). Never give up hope; the Holy Spirit does miracles every day.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: If Homosexuality Is a Sin, Why Didn’t Jesus Ever Mention It?

 

Many who support same-sex marriage and gay rights argue that, since Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, He did not consider it to be sinful. After all, the argument goes, if homosexuality is bad, why did Jesus treat it as a non-issue?

It is technically true that Jesus did not specifically address homosexuality in the Gospel accounts; however, He did speak clearly about sexuality in general. Concerning marriage, Jesus stated, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh[.]’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4–6). Here Jesus clearly referred to Adam and Eve and affirmed God’s intended design for marriage and sexuality.

For those who follow Jesus, sexual practices are limited. Rather than take a permissive view of sexual immorality and divorce, Jesus affirmed that people are either to be single and celibate or married and faithful to one spouse of the opposite gender. Jesus considered any other expression of sexuality sinful. This would include same-sex activity.

Also, are we to believe that any and every action is good unless Jesus specifically forbade it? The goal of the Gospels was not to give us a comprehensive list of sinful activities, and there are many obvious sins that are not found in the “red letter” section of the Bible. Kidnapping, for example. Jesus never specifically said that kidnapping was a sin, yet we know that stealing children is wrong. The point is that Jesus did notneedto itemize sin, especially when the further revelation contained in the Epistles removes all doubt as to homosexuality’s sinfulness.

Scripture is clear that believers are to have nothing to do with sexual immorality: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sexual immorality, whether same-sex activity or otherwise, is a sin against a person’s own body.

It is important to note that sexual immorality, including same-sex activity, is listed alongside other sins in Scripture, indicating that God does not rank one sin as worse than another. While the consequences of some sins are greater than others, Scripture often simply lists sins side by side. For example, Jesus said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19–20; see also Romans 1:24–31).

The Bible teaches that followers of Jesus are to practice sexual purity, and that includes abstaining from same-sex activity. In addition, unbelievers who practice homosexuality stand in need of salvation just like any other unbeliever. Christians are called to pray for those who do not know Christ, to serve others in love, and to share the message of Jesus with all people, including those involved in homosexuality.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Does the Bible Say to Follow Your Heart?

 

There are many calls to “follow your heart” in movies, novels, slogans, blogs, and memes. Related pieces of advice are “trust yourself” and “follow your instincts.” A corollary dictum is “your heart will never lead you astray.” The problem is that none of these quips are biblically supportable.

Rather than trust our hearts, we are to commit our hearts to God: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). This passage gives an explicit command not to trust ourselves. And it gives the promise of guidance to those who choose to follow the Lord.

For anything to provide proper direction it must be based on objective truth. That is to say that whatever is consulted for guidance must reach a conclusion based on objective truth and not subjective, emotional inference. The Bible teaches that man is to follow God. God declares, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7). God has perfect knowledge of everything (1 John 3:20), a trait often called omniscience. God’s knowledge is not limited in any way. God is aware of all events that have ever transpired, are currently occurring, and will ever happen (Isaiah 46:9–10). God’s knowledge goes beyond mere events and extends to thoughts and intentions (John 2:25; Acts 1:24). It is not all this knowledge, however, that makes God a perfectly reliable source of guidance. God is also aware of every possibility, every eventuality, every imaginable outcome of any series of events (Matthew 11:21). That ability, combined with God’s goodness, enables God to give the best possible direction for people to follow.

God says this about the unregenerate heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). This passage makes clear two reasons why no one should bind himself to following his heart when making decisions. First, there is nothing more deceitful in all of creation than the heart of man because of his inherited sin nature. If we follow our heart, we follow an untrustworthy guide.

We are, in fact, blinded to our own heart’s deceitful nature. As the prophet asks, “Who can understand it?” When we rely on ourselves for wisdom, we end up unable to tell right from wrong. The hit song of 1977, “You Light Up My Life,” contains these unfortunate words: “It can’t be wrong / When it feels so right.” Determining right from wrong based on “feelings” is a dangerous (and unbiblical) way to live.

Second, Jeremiah 17:9 teaches that the heart is desperately sick. There is no way to fix the heart. Rather, man needs a new heart. That is why, when a person comes to faith in Christ, he is made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus does not fix the heart; instead, He replaces it with a new one.

But that does not mean that we can rely on our hearts after we come to faith in Christ. Even as believers, we are encouraged to follow God’s will over our own desires. The Bible teaches that “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17).

We have an omniscient, benevolent Lord who promises to give us wisdom (James 1:5); we have His inspired, inerrant Word written down for us (2 Timothy 3:16). Why would we turn our backs on God and His eternal promises in order to pursue the whimsical impulses of the heart?[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

An Apologist’s Insights on “God’s Not Dead”

J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

gods-not-deadI recently had the chance to watch “God’s Not Dead,” a film which presents a story in which a college student decides to take a stand for his faith against the pressure of an atheistic philosophy professor. A summary of the plot may be found here. As an apologist with an MA in the field, I thought my comments might help provide some insight into the film. I’ll offer a look at some aspects of the film which I wanted to address. Feel free to chime in in the comments with your own thoughts.

Apologetics

The movie presents a clear picture of the need for apologetics. When challenged by attacks on the faith it is important to always have a reason for the hope within (1 Peter 3:15). Josh Wheaton–the protagonist–put together a decent presentation of various evidences for theism in the snippets that viewers get through the film…

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Podcast Recommendation: Chris Rosebrough Debunks “Holy Ghost” Movie

Steak and a Bible

This episode of Fighting for the Faith is not to be missed! Pirate Christian Chris Rosebrough tackles the newly released “Holy Ghost” movie and shows that the “miracle” healings are easy parlor tricks and cold readings and illustrates that the theology about hearing from the Holy Spirit promoted by the film makers is wholly in contrast to Scripture.

Don’t fall for it brothers and sisters. Read your Bible and understand how the real Holy Spirit works (John 14-16 is a great start!) so you’re not taken in by stuff like this.

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For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two- edged sword

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two- edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)

In this day in which the truth is said to be unknowable, Christians must rely on the only source of pure truth we have. There is no truth that we can say is the complete truth unless we take it from God’s Word. The Bible is pure truth and it is the authority we rely on in order to have a firm foundation in this lost and dying world that is consuming itself in rebellion against God.

Just a few weeks ago we learned that “Christian music artist” Michael Gungor is a “Christian Liberal,” that is, he rejects the infallibility of…

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