The Guy Who Disproved the Scriptures

The Guy Who Disproved the Scriptures
Vol: 151 Issue: 30 Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody offered a similar argument: “They’ve been talking about the Second Coming since the First Coming. They’ll still be talking about it a thousand years from now.”

The Bible is under attack in this generation unlike any generation in history. The entire American educational system is dedicated to eliminating the ‘superstitious’ notion of Divine Creation and replacing it with the godless theory of evolution.

It is called “the theory of evolution” for a reason.  It is only a theory.  (Theory —  “an unproved assumption, abstract thought, speculation)  And, because it IS a theory, the ‘facts’ change with each new ‘discovery’.

The Christian is at an extreme disadvantage when discussing the truth of Scripture with a skeptic. The Christian has the Bible as his only source of information, and is bound to follow its teachings. The skeptic, however, is under no such restrictions.

While the Christian is bound to ‘thus saith the Lord’ the skeptic counters with ‘thus saith everybody’. Everybody knows’ is one of the most difficult argument to overcome, since ‘everybody’ cannot be cited, chapter and verse.

In short, the Christian is bound by rules, the skeptic gets to make them up as he goes along. This is the main reason that the Bible has a reputation as a ‘difficult’ Book.  Bible ‘difficulties’ like, ‘who did Cain marry?’ leaves many a Christian speechless.

The skeptic loves to cite ‘contradictions’ contained in the Bible, especially since Christians teach that the Bible interprets itself and that God’s Word never contradicts itself.

Who did Cain marry?’ is but a single example.

The critic generally falls back on one of a number major assumptions, all of which sound logical until you take a closer look.

The first mistake is assuming the unexplained is unexplainable. That this is a mistake is self-evident. The skeptic is more than confident that science will continue to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Science has mapped the human genome — it is only a matter of time before man will successfully clone a human being.

But where the Bible is concerned, unless and until we find an autographed picture of King David of Israel in a cave somewhere, the skeptic will argue David never really existed.

Actually, in 1993 an excavation dated to 850 BC uncovered a stele inscribed with “the House of David,” with a second discovery in 1994, the “Mesha Stel” which also contained a reference to Israel’s greatest King.

And although Israeli archeologists have identified the ruins of Goliath’s hometown, there remain skeptics who remain convinced King David is a myth. 

The second mistake made by the skeptic is assuming the Bible ‘guilty til proved innocent’ — that is, unless a Scripture can be exonerated by archeological or other supporting evidence, it is not true.

Skeptics long claimed Pontius Pilate never existed, so the Passion story is untrue. Until a plaque bearing Pilate’s name dedicating an arena to the Roman Procurate was uncovered near Ceasarea Phillipi in 1965.

Another mistake is failing to understand a passage in context. Perhaps the most common mistake is when a critic carelessly rips an isolated passage out of its proper context. Or, they interpreted it in a way that the author never intended.

Taken out of context, one can use the Bible to prove almost anything. (TV preachers do it all the time.) A skeptic can do the same thing to disprove almost anything. As the wise man said, a proof text without context is a pretext.

Another error is assuming that if two accounts differ, it means that they are mutually exclusive or contradictory.  For example;

“And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.” (1 Kings 4:26)

“And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 9:25)

So which is it? Is this an error?  No. The word translated ‘stalls’ has two meanings.

In one instance, it refers to the place where a horse is kept. On the other hand, the teams of horses that pulled Israeli chariots were also called ‘stalls’.

A Hebrew chariot was drawn by ten horses. Forty thousand ‘stalls’ would be necessary to house enough horses to pull four thousand Hebrew chariots.  The two passages are in complete harmony.

Another mistake is to assume that the Bible approves of all that it records. Solomon was a polygamist, but that doesn’t mean that God approved of the practice.

(God didn’t approve of Israel having kings, either.)

Another common assumption is that God wrote the Bible, without noting that He used human authors. It is a human book, written by human authors, using human literary devices.

Every word is divinely inspired, but every word was written down on paper by a human being. Consequently, James had a different writing style, used different examples and imagery than did Paul.

James says ‘faith without works is dead’ whereas Paul writes,

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

A contradiction? No. James preached to the Hebrew Israelites who had tremendous faith in their laws and religion.

Paul preached to the Gentiles who until Paul’s introduction, had no living God to have faith in.

Assessment:

“In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.” (Ephesians 3:12)

Ok, so where DID Cain find a wife? The Bible doesn’t say. Did he marry his sister? Not exactly. Cain undoubtedly married a relative of some sort, either a distant cousin, or possibly a niece.

Adam lived for 930 years, and Genesis says that he had many other children.  There is no Biblical reason to believe Cain and Abel were the firstborn of Adam and Eve.  It is merely assumed.  

When a man and women live to be 100 years old, there can be as many as 4 or 5 generations existing within their family.

If we do the math, by the time Adam died, using a template of 4 generations for the first 100 years and assuming that 5 children would be produced by each couple, by Adams death, there would be a population of over 7,812,500 people on earth.

In fact, by the time Adam was 500 years old, the earth would have had a population of over 250,000. Maybe more. This model assumes five children per family. But people lived hundreds of years and there was no birth control.

Most importantly, it should be noted that the Bible never said when Cain took a wife. But as pointed out from mathematics, by the end of the second century of Adam’s life, Cain would have had thousands of choices.

The Bible is true. We can have confidence in its teaching and its promises. The skeptics are always there, nipping away at the edges, but consider this. The Bible has been under more or less constant attack by the smartest guys in every generation since it was compiled.

If a single thing in Scripture were conclusively disproved, a named person who didn’t exist, a place that never was, an event that didn’t take place, then the Word of God is broken.

And of all the thinkers and philosophers who have lived during the last two thousand years, not one has been able to claim the title of the man who proved the Bible wrong.

Because nobody can

Another Angel, Another Gospel, Another Prophet . . .

Another Angel, Another Gospel, Another Prophet . . .
Vol: 151 Issue: 29 Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In the year 610 AD, an itinerant merchant named Mohammed ibn Abdullah was in a cave on Mount Hira, as had become his practice, when the angel Gabriel appeared to him and commanded him to memorize (Mohammed could not write) what Gabriel dictated to him.

According to traditional Muslim history the verses of the Koran were written on palm trees and fiber and memorized during the life of Mohammad and collected shortly after his death. At Medina, about forty companions are believed to have acted as scribes for the Koran. 

One thousand, two hundred and ten years later, a young farmer and treasure hunter named Joseph Smith was praying for forgiveness for the “gratification of many appetites” when the Angel Moroni appeared to him and directed him to a buried book of golden plates and a set of silver spectacles with lenses composed of seer stones.

The golden plates contained the religious record of when Jesus appeared to the native American Indians. Smith said he used the seer stones, called Urim and Thummin, for some of the earliest translations.  

Later, Smith said he was able to translate the golden plates by reading the reflections in a seer stone at the bottom of a silk top hat. The translation, now known as the Book of Mormon, was published in Palmyra, New York on March 26, 1830.

The Book of Mormon was not well received in Palmyra.  Smith and his followers established small churches, known then as the “Church of Christ” but Smith and his followers were soon run out of town ahead of a gathering mob. 

During that flight, Smith said he heard the voices of Peter, James and John, who gave Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, Apostolic authority.

When Mohammed first began to preach his new religion in Mecca, he didn’t win many new converts.  But as time went on and Mohammed grew stronger, he and his followers were considered a threat by the local merchants, particularly those of the Quriyash tribe. He was eventually forced to flee from Mecca to Medina.

They fled at first to Kirtland, Ohio, which Smith announced was “the eastern boundary of New Jerusalem” and that the Saints must gather there while Oliver Cowdery headed to Missouri to find New Jerusalem’s true location. 

While in Medina, Mohammed’s followers swelled in numbers and soon controlled the city.  From there, they began to raid Meccan merchant caravans.  The Koranic verses from this period are those that call for religious tolerance and practical issues (like how to divide the spoils of war.)

Smith also dictated a lost “Book of Enoch,” telling how the biblical Enoch had established a city of Zion of such civic goodness that God had taken it to heaven.  Smith taught that the Book of Mormon was a corrected version of the Old and New Testaments, which Smith claimed had been corrupted by apostate Christians and Jews.

 Mohammed’s new religion claimed to be a corrected version of the Old and New Testaments, which Mohammed claimed had been corrupted by apostate Christians and Jews. 

While in Kirtland, Smith converted Disciples of Christ Pastor Sidney Rigdon and took over Rigdon’s 100-member-strong congregation.  

At Rigdon’s suggestion, Smith began revising the Bible as new converts started pouring into Kirtland. By the summer of 1835, there were fifteen hundred to two thousand Mormons in the vicinity of Kirtland, virtually taking over the town.

About this time, Oliver Cowdery announced he found New Jerusalem was really in Independence, Missouri.  There were some disputes, principally surrounding Smith and underage servant girl, Fanny Alger.  

Mohammed’s new religion permitted polygamy, deception in the furtherance of Islamic ideals, and forced conversion. Mohammed had thirteen wives, his youngest wife, Aisha, was reputed to be just nine years old.

To reduce the whiff of scandal, Smith declared Fanny Alger was one of his plural wives, introducing the doctrine of polygamy into the Church.  

Oliver Cowdery called it a “filthy affair” and threatened to leave the Church.  Instead, Smith charged him with slander and excommunicated him.

Later, Smith and Rigdon established a wildcat bank called the Kirtland Safety Society.  It failed within a month, wiping out its depositors and investors. They fled in the middle of the night, just ahead of the sheriff bearing an arrest warrant, and headed for Jackson County, Missouri and the New Jerusalem.

There, he renamed his church “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” He also organized a Mormon ‘militia’ called the Danites, to intimidate Mormon dissenters and defend against “anti-Mormon militias.” 

The Danites soon expelled all ex-Mormon dissenters from Jackson County, including Oliver Cowdery and his group.

Mohammed eventually made a ten year truce with the Quriyash of Mecca, known as the Treaty of Hudabbiyah. Two years into the truce, Mohammed attacked and destroyed the Quriyash, seized Mecca and imposed the Zakat – a tax imposed on non-Muslims which allowed them to live there without converting to Islam.

In a fiery speech given that fourth of July, Rigdon issued similar threats to non-Mormons in the county, promising them a war of extermination if they attacked the LDS.  In 1838, after promising to “establish our religion with the sword” his followers attacked the Missouri State Militia at the Battle of Crooked River.

Governor Boggs ordered all Mormons be “exterminated or driven from the state.” On November 1, 1838, the Saints surrendered to 2,500 state troops, and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state.  Smith was imprisoned, along with Rigdon, in Liberty, Missouri on charges of treason. 

Smith and Rigdon escaped after bribing the sheriff, and fled to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Brigham Young had set up a new LDS headquarters.

Nauvoo grew rapidly, and so did LDS doctrine.  In Nauvoo, Smith established polygamy as a Mormon doctrine.  He established secret ceremonies whereby righteous people could become gods in the afterlife.

Smith also introduced his “First Vision” which later became regarded by the LDS as “the most important event in human history since the resurrection of Jesus.”

In 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered by a mob in Carthage, Illinois while being held on charges of treason. Their deaths caused a succession crisis with Brigham Young assuming command of the LDS and excommunicating the splinter groups that disputed his leadership.

Mohammed died of a fever when he was 63 years old. After his death, a succession dispute caused Islam to split into the Sunni and Shi’ite factions. Islam became the dominant religion everywhere that it went.  And everywhere it went, it established itself by war.

As the LDS began taking over Nauvoo, tensions rose with the local Illinois residents. After Smith’s death, Brigham Young and sixty thousand Mormons headed to Utah territory.  Brigham Young was appointed Utah’s first territorial governor.  

And everywhere that the LDS went, from Palmyra to Kirtland to Nauvoo to Utah, they established their religion by war; the Missouri Mormon War, the “Illinois Mormon War” the “Utah War” the “Morrisite War” and the “Black Hawk War”.

Does anybody else see a pattern of similarity here?  Anybody want to hazard a guess as to why? 

Assessment:

It is a matter of provable fact that Muslims are allowed to lie to infidels (non-Muslims) if it advances the cause of Islam.   Mormons are also allowed to lie to “gentiles” (or non-Mormons) if it advances the cause of LDS. (Milk before meat.)

Islam doesn’t integrate itself with infidel communities, it establishes itself as a separate entity, and then through proselytizing and intimidation, seeks to dominate and impose its own laws.  

LDS pretends to integrate within gentile communities, but immediately establishes itself as a separate entity and then through proselytizing and intimidation, seeks to dominate and impose its own laws. 

Both claim a kind of Jesus and a kind  of Gospel.  Islam claims Isa (Jesus) and the ‘injil´ or ‘gospel’.  But Isa is not God, but rather, an exalted prophet, second only to Mohammed.  The Islamic “injil”is the “true” gospel of Jesus, before it was corrupted by Christians and Jews.

The LDS claims a kind of Jesus and a kind of Gospel.  The LDS Jesus is “a” god, (one of uncounted millions) but the Mormon Jesus is just a man who became a god.  And the Mormon Gospel is the Book of Mormon, which the LDS claims is superior in accuracy and doctrinal truth to the Bible. 

The Apostle Paul wrote to the members of the Church at Galatia:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Paul is quick to say that while it is ‘another’ gospel, in the sense that it is different, there IS no other Gospel, in the sense that it can be legitimate.  The Gospel is the “good news” because it points the way to salvation.  There is but one way to salvation, according to John 3:16 and Acts 4:12.

Which is why Paul follows up with this carefully parsed statement;

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)

We’ve been discussing two claimants to the gospel, both of whom received their new gospel directly from an angel; in one case Gabriel, and in the other, Moroni.  Each of those conflicting gospels, delivered by angels, claim to the be true Gospel before it was corrupted by Christians and Jews.

Both deny that Jesus Christ has the power to save on His own, unless one also obeys an impossibly complex series of laws and ordinances that by their very existence, make salvation impossible, according to the Scriptures:

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”(Galatians 2:21)

If keeping the law was the path to righteousness, then Jesus didn’t have to die.  His death and His resurrection advantage us not at all, if our salvation is dependent on keeping the law. That is as it has been since the time of Moses – why add Jesus? 

He wasn’t necessary under the Mosaic Law. Why is He necessary to Mormon or to Muslim salvation? Answer: He isn’t. Neither faith requires a Messiah, since in either faith, salvation comes by keeping the Law. 

There is another similarity worth exploring Islam had a founder.  His name was Mohammed. He died on June 8, 632 and was buried where he died.  His tomb is still there, housed within the House of the Prophet in Medina.

The LDS had a founder. His name was Joseph Smith. Smith was shot several times inside his jail cell by an angry mob he had bilked out of a fortune. He died where he fell, and was buried in Nauvoo, Illinois.  His tomb is still there.

Christianity had a Founder.  His name was Jesus Christ.  He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.  The chastisement we deserved fell upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

He died on a Cross at Golgotha, crucified between two thieves.  He was buried in the tomb set aside for Joseph of Aramathea.  But His tomb is empty.  He is not there.  

He rose on the third day, was seen of over five hundred witnesses and ascended into Heaven in broad daylight in front of witnesses. If Jesus is not risen, we remain dead in our sins and our faith is in vain

Why do I risk the wrath of the LDS, not to mention Islam, every liberal on earth, the various self-appointed anti-hate groups, a lot of well-meaning but deceived Christians, and the probability that most ISP’s will bounce today’s OL?

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

That is the only Gospel.  Any other gospel leads people away from the truth and away from salvation. As such, it is accursed, according to the Scripture.  Even one revealed by an angel.   

The best way to determine the identity of the revealing angel is to compare his ‘truth’ to the simplicity of Christ.  The TRUE Gospel is simple.  It can be boiled down to just two words:

“Jesus saves.”

Note: Today’s Letter investigates the surprising similarities in two religions.  Wendy Wippel’s “The End of Until” takes an intricate look at one of God’s words.

”Never Again”

”Never Again”
Vol: 151 Issue: 28 Monday, April 28, 2014

I received a wonderful surprise in the mail in the form of a book that my friend Don Weitz sent to me. Don is a friend of mine whom I met when he was working in public relations for Zion Oil.

If his name seems familiar, its because Don is the one who first suggested the Israel Tour and helped me plan the itinerary. It was Don who convinced me that the tour should begin, not in Israel, but in Poland.

The surprise gift was a book, written by Don’s mother, Sonia, called, “I Promised I Would Tell.” It arrived at about noon. I opened it to give it a glance — when I finished ‘glancing’ at the last page, I looked up and it was after four.

I also realized I had a stiff neck, I was thirsty and had to go to the bathroom.

Don’s mother was just eleven years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. Sonia had been born in Krakow, only miles from the death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau where she was eventually interned.

In all, Don’s mother survived the ghettos and five separate concentration camps; Auschwitz-Birkenau, Plaszow, Venusburg, Mauthausen and Bergen-Belson.

“I was twelve and a half in March, 1941 when my family was forced into the ghetto. I remained there for two years.” During her time in the ghetto, little Sonia’s job was to scrub latrines in the German barracks. She describes vividly the humiliation, writing, “At night, as we returned to the ghetto, the soldiers forced us to sing “Roll Out the Barrel” for their amusement. They laughed at the humiliation we faced in singing a cheerful tune after a day of cleaning up their filth.”

In 1942, Sonia’s mother, Adela became sick with meningitis. It is hard to imagine what hell it must have been to be sick with meningitis while shivering in a cramped, unheated room shared with three other families. No medicine, no doctors . . . Sonia captured the hopelessness in a way nobody who hadn’t endured it could have.

I literally wept as I read of that day in October, 1942 when the dreaded knock came on the Schreiber’s door:

“We waited. Each moment seemed like an eternity. Somewhere, a clock struck midnight. Suddenly, there were heavy footsteps, and we heard the dreaded pounding on the door. Two men in uniform forced the door open and entered the room. “Adela Schreiber,” one voice said. “Get dressed. Immediately!”

I froze. My mother sat up on the edge of the bed and slowly started putting on her stockings and her shoes. She put a scarf on her head. “Dress warmly,” the voice continued. “You’re going on a long journey.”

Sonia writes that her mother fainted while getting ready. The two Nazis left to get a stretcher. While they were gone, the family had a few more precious moments together.

“I came into the room. My mother was lying on the floor. Although she had fainted, her eyes were now wide open. Absent-mindedly, she was smoothing out her hair. I heard my father cry, “Oh child, oh child.” I came up to him. He was weeping. Something inside of me died. I too wanted to cry but I could not. I wanted to speak, to comfort him. I wanted to . . . I do not know what I wanted.

By now, my mother had stood up. Once again, she began getting dressed. Slowly, deliberately, she put on her dress, her sweater, a coat. How carefully she dressed. Calmly, and with great care, as if she were getting ready to go to a cinema, she combed her hair. Then she took a bag from the closet. From the cupboard, she took a piece of dry bread and put it into the bag. Dry bread, how terrible! All the time, I stood there, watching her in horror. . . .

She took something from her bag, some money. She put it into my hand. “I know you will need this. It may help.” She put her arms around me and whispered, “Remember, I love you.” The world was spinning in front of my eyes. As if from afar, I heard her last words, “And remember to tell the world.”

Sonia writes that as the police were taking her mother away, somehow, her father and sister managed to create a diversion and somehow spirit her away and hide her in a locked shed.

The SS were rounding up Jews in the nearby courtyard so Sonia and her father were forced to hide in a cellar until the coast was clear lest they too, should be rounded up for resettlement.

It is impossible to picture the scene:

“We jumped into a basement . . .with horror, I listened to the sounds coming from the street. Gunfire. . . one shot after another . . . Terrifying screams, and then quiet and the sound of heavy boots. The blood-curdling screams of children. Those screams surely reached the heavens . . . or did they?”

All that night and all the next day, the Jews were rounded up.

“Through the crack in the window, I saw feet. Thousands of feet. Some were clad in boots; some in once-elegant high-heeled shoes. Some were marching; others stumbled. Then I saw a tiny foot, tripping on a stone. The little girl, perhaps four years old, was crying as she fell. The next thing I heard was a gunshot. The crying stopped. . .”

Sonia and her father hid in the basement all that night, all that next day, venturing out at sunset to sneak back to the shed and rescue her mother.

“By now, I was so numb that the scene before me did not penetrate my consciousness. It was too horrible to confront. The doors to the shed had been ripped open by an axe or a rifle butt. My mother was gone. On the floor lay a crumpled blanket. . . “

If you saw the movie, “Schindler’s List” the camp commandant, Amon Goeth, was played by actor Ralph Fiennes.

There is a scene in the movie where Goeth would take up a rifle and, from his perch on his front porch, randomly select one of the Jews in the courtyard and shoot him.

It was into Goeth’s camp at Plaszow that Sonia was next transferred. Sonia describes a harrowing few moments when she was on a work detail, smashing old Jewish tombstones with a sledgehammer to make gravel.

Goeth came up behind Sonia and her sister, Blanca, as they were working.

“Blanca whispered in my ear, “Work, Sonia, work.” She repeated urgently, “Work. If he should kill me, if he should shoot me, you must be very quiet and keep working. Otherwise, he will kill you as well.”

Sonia says that Goeth was distracted by an old woman who wasn’t working as hard as he felt she could. He beat her to death with her own sledgehammer while Sonia and her sister continued working feverishly only a few feet away.

It is beyond comprehension. But it is true.

Sonia’s narrative takes us inside Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Venusburg and Mauthausen as the Nazis fleeing the Allied advance transferred the Jews to camps deeper inside the Third Reich. She was transferred from Auschwitz in January, 1945, only ten days before that camp was liberated.

Over the next four months, she stayed just one step ahead of the Allies and freedom, until finally, she was liberated at Mauthausen by the Americans on May 5, 1945.

Of the eighty-four members of Sonia’s family who lived in Poland on September 1, 1939, only Sonia and her sister were still alive on May 5, 1945.

Assessment:

Sonia’s story is the reason that the Omega Letter Tour began in Poland, at Auschwitz, before moving on to Israel. We’ve just skimmed a few highlights of Sonia’s story — believe me, there are more gut-wrenching scenes in her book than those I shared with you — but without an understanding of the Holocaust, how can anyone truly understand what makes Israel tick?

Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948, midwifed by survivors of the horrors described by Sonia Schreiber Weitz, under the rallying cry of “Never Again.” Never again will the Jews allow themselves to be helpless and stateless.

During the war, thousands upon thousands of Jews managed to escape Nazi Germany, only to be turned away by other countries and sent back to Germany for the slaughter.

The S.S. St. Louis left Germany on May 13, 1939. Its Jewish passengers, most of them from Germany, had expensive documents – some bogus – for entry into Cuba. When the ship arrived, however, Havana – and the US – refused to admit them. The St. Louis sat in the harbor for days.

Desperate relatives packed motorboats and approached the anchored liner, shouting messages to loved ones. All awaited the outcome of frantic international negotiations to allow the refugees to disembark. Ultimately, only 29 passengers were permitted to land in Havana. America refused to accept a single Jew.

Then the ship was ordered to leave – maneuvering slowly and tantalizingly near the coast of Florida before turning back to Europe where more than half perished in the Holocaust.

Former undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat published a report on the US role during the Holocaust. Eizenstat noted that the United States accepted only 21,000 refugees from Europe and did not significantly raise or even fill its restrictive quotas, accepting far fewer Jews per capita than many of the neutral European countries and fewer in absolute terms than Switzerland.

“No country, including the United States, did as much as it might have or should have done to save innocent victims of Nazi persecution – Jews, Gypsies, political opponents and others,” Eizenstat said in an earlier report in May 1997.

“Restrictive US immigration policies kept hundreds of thousands of refugees from finding safety in the United States, most tragically exemplified by our refusal to allow the St. Louis to dock with its cargo of refugees – many of whom perished when the ship was forced to return to Europe.”

When it came to saving the lives of innocent Jews, even the Americans let them down. The State of Israel was reborn as a safe haven for the world’s Jews. That’s why we’re going to Poland first.

For Sonia. For her eighty-two murdered family members. For the six million murdered innocents. To see Israel (at least vicariously) as the Jews see her — not just as their country but as their deliverance. 

I have a new appreciation for the traditional Israeli toast: “L’chaim!”

It means, “to life.”

Note: Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day; this Letter shares a personal account of that terrible time in history.  Pete Garcia explains what causes “The Extiction Level Event” and how the world will be devastated by the results. 

Hell and A Merciful God

Hell and A Merciful God
Vol: 151 Issue: 26 Saturday, April 26, 2014

The question has been asked so many times that has morphed from a question into a challenge; “How can a merciful and loving God condemn people to eternal torments in hell?”

The question is not just posed by atheists and skeptics, but also by some sincere, but woefully uneducated Christians.  The argument has some merit on the surface.  God is love. All men are created with a sin nature.

Since, by definition and design, all men are sinners and our Creator God is love, it logically follows that a loving God who created sinners would be unjust in condemning them to hell for being what they are.

God is the Righteous Judge.  If He is so righteous, it seems logical that He would take into account the mitigating circumstances.

Especially since the chief mitigation is the fact it was the Righteous Judge that created the unrighteous sinner and that unrighteousness is the default condition of man.  That cannot be stressed strongly enough.

The default condition of mankind is that of utter depravity.  People are not born good and then learn bad things.  It is precisely the opposite.

There is a common canard in our society that dictates that racism, for example, is learned behavior.  A ‘learned behavior’ is something that has been taught to someone, or a way of thinking that they did not come up with themselves.

The prevailing worldview is that children who grow up to be racists are taught to be racist as a child.  In this view, unless a child is taught to be racist, he will grow up to be ‘color-blind’ so to speak.

An article posted on the American Psychiatric Association’s website attempted to argue against racism as a ‘mental illness’, claiming that racism “is mainly a product of learned behavior,” and “a majority of explicitly racist persons do not have any psychopathology.”

I don’t know if racism is a mental illness, but I know that racism is not something that children are taught. It is something that they must be ‘untaught’.

Children are racist by nature.  Studies conducted that put one black pre-schooler into a classroom full of white pre-schoolers showed the white pre-schoolers abused, ostracized and teased the black kid corporately, that is to say, they did so as a group.

Reversing the situation produced the same results; the black kids abused, ostracized and teased the white kid, again corporately.  Were all these pre-schoolers taught to be racists?

Moreover, who taught them to be abusive?  Who taught them the principles of boycott, or ostracization?

These are fairly advanced principles for pre-schoolers — it took Jesse Jackson a lifetime of effort to fine-tune them into the social weapons they are today.  Where did these kids learn to be racist?

Any school teacher will confirm that children are not only racist, they are mean.  Kids are really small terrorists without advanced weaponry or a cause.  And we were all kids.

If we reach back far enough into our memories, it is fairly obvious that the cruelest people we ever met were our own classmates.

Everyone remembers that one kid who was taunted unmercifully, (maybe it was you) because of their skin color, their religion, their social status, or some other characteristic that made that kid different.  (I remember a kid we all teased because he was ugly.)

I was teased unmercifully because I had no hand-to-eye coordination.  When we would choose up sides to play baseball, the two team captains would choose their players until they got to me.  Then they’d fight over who got ‘stuck’ with me — as if I wasn’t there.

My nicknames were alternatively, “Easy Out” and “Butterfingers” — two terms that make me cringe to this day.

Children have to be taught not to hit each other, bite each other, they have to be taught not to steal, to show respect, not to lie, etc.

Prisons are full of folks who blame their upbringing for their shortcomings.  That’s a cop out. Children needn’t be taught bad values because ‘bad’ is their default state.

Prisons, as rehabilitation centers, attempt to teach ‘good’ values — or the word ‘rehabilitation’ is meaningless.

A long example to prove a short principle; We are born sinners.  Evil is our default condition.  It is goodness that is the learned behavior.

To return to our original premise, if a loving God created us without a spark of goodness, then how could He then condemn us to an eternity of torment for being what He made us to be — and still call that ‘perfect justice’?

It is worth noting that the only inherently evil creation in the corporeal (physical) world is humanity.  Animals aren’t evil by nature.  They do what comes naturally.

Sin isn’t a learned behavior.  It is something that must be unlearned.  The degree to which a human being ‘unlearns’ selfishness, cruelty and sadism becomes the measure of his goodness.  Provide the right set of circumstances, say, New Orleans after Katrina, and humanity reverts to type.

Doctors murder patients to save themselves.  People with no criminal record become looters.  The strong prey on the weak.  Right and wrong, as social concepts, essentially evaporate.

Man was created in God’s image.  He was created with the ability to discern between right and wrong, and was also created with the ability to choose which path to take.

This planet is the only place in God’s creation where evil is permitted unfettered operation.  Theologians call it the ‘cosmos diabolicus’.  It is enclosed by an atmosphere which keeps evil from escaping out into the universe.

When Satan came to present himself before the Lord, “the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7)

It is Satan’s domain. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he offered the Creator of the Universe a bargain:

“the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, All these things will I give thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

Although Jesus is the Creator (and Satan knew it) the ‘cosmos diabolicus’ was Satan’s to offer.

So, again we return to the central question: “How could a loving God condemn us to eternal torment for being what He made us to be?”

A lion who hunts down and kills an injured wildebeest that can’t keep up with the herd isn’t doing evil because he selected the weakest and most vulnerable prey.  That’s what he was created to do.  He has no other choice.

And THAT is where God’s perfect justice comes in.  We DO have a choice.  We were created specifically to that single purpose.  So that, when given the choice, we could then choose God.

God’s perfect justice demands that there be some provision of salvation for those who choose Him — or He could impose no penalty for those who choose to reject Him.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  Therefore, man has a choice between ‘good’ (God) and man’s default nature of evil (self).  Jesus Christ represents God’s perfect justice.

Having defeated the sin nature by living a perfect life, He was uniquely qualified to pay the penalty perfect justice demands, because no created being could earn the currency necessary to pay the price on their own behalf.

Each of us is acutely aware of our sin nature.  We spend a lifetime seeking to overcome it, and in so doing, learn that it is impossible.  We then are confronted with a choice.

We can choose Heaven by humbly accepting the offer of Pardon extended to us, knowing it is not something we earned, cannot earn, and cannot buy or steal.

Or we can choose hell, the place prepared as the eternal repository for sin after this cosmos diabolicus is destroyed at the end of human history.

The earth will have served its purpose as a confinement area for sin, and having served that purpose, “shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” (2nd Peter 3:12)

After Satan is banished to hell and sin is contained, the cosmos diabolicus gives way to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2nd Peter 3:13)

God doesn’t condemn us to hell.  He condemns sin.  But in His mercy, He provides a way for us to shed our sin nature through the regeneration of salvation.

But we are the ones who make the final choice.  It is indeed perfect justice that the condemned be given the choice — while still in their sins — of where they will spend eternity.

Having expressly provided the choices to us, it would be utterly unjust of God to ignore the choice we make.

God is just, so He honors the choice we make.

Why We NEED To Know What We Don t WANT To Know

Why We NEED To Know What We Don t WANT To Know
Vol: 151 Issue: 25 Friday, April 25, 2014

From time to time it becomes necessary to revisit the central purpose of Bible prophecy for the last days insofar as it impacts the Church.  It is to give the warning that time is running out.  Not for the Church.   But for those who will be left behind.

The destiny of the Church is to participate in the Blessed Hope articulated by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. . .  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

The Rapture of the Church signals the conclusion of the Age of Grace in the same manner in which it began.  The Lord explained the equation to the Apostles before His crucifixion.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” (John 16:7)

It isn’t too difficult to follow – it doesn’t need much interpretation.  If the Lord does not “go away” then the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) will not come (indwell) them.  Still, the Apostles didn’t get it.  Right up to the moment of His Ascension, they were still expecting Him to usher in the Millennial Kingdom. (Acts 1:6)

They wouldn’t get it — until the Holy Spirit clued them in.  But to this point, the Lord was still among them, and so the indwelling Holy Spirit was not.  So there they stood, clueless and afraid, while the Lord explained the Holy Ghost would soon empower them for the Great Commission.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)

If they were clueless and afraid while the risen Lord Jesus was standing there talking to them, one can only imagine how clueless and afraid they were as they stood there, staring into the clouds hoping for one last glimpse of the Master.

“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”

There it is.  Do you see the chronological order?  The Holy Spirit will not indwell men until after Jesus is “taken away” at the Ascension.  How is He taken away?  That is extremely important to this study.  Look again.

He is raised up from the earth alive, in His Resurrected and transformed Body, and taken up until He vanishes in the clouds.   That is how He is taken away – and the Promise given is that is how He will return.

Now fast forward from the event that kicked off the Church Age to the event that signals its conclusion. 

The Apostle Paul described it in detail to the Thessalonians in his first letter.  He returns in reverse order to His departure.  The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven, where He will resurrect the dead in Christ and then those living will be ‘caught up’ into heaven at the Rapture.

But the Apostle Paul evidently left out a few details that caused the Thessalonians some confusion.  Apparently, it left them confused enough that he felt it necessary to write them again to straighten things out.  

There was a heresy in circulation that said that Nero was really the antichrist, and the Thessalonians were afraid they had been left behind. 

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

No, no, Paul says. “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” he asks, before filling in the missing blank spot in the equation

Remember, the issue under discussion here was a rebuttal of the false doctrine claiming that Nero was the antichrist.  Nero can’t be the antichrist, Paul says, and here’s why.

“And now ye know what withholdeth that he [the real antichrist] might be revealed in his time.”

Let’s go back and quickly review what we’ve covered about the beginning of the Church Age.

  1. Jesus is bodily taken out of the way by rising from the earth and ascending into heaven
  2. The two witnesses in white reveal that Jesus will return in the same manner in which they watched Him go.
  3. The Holy Spirit comes upon and indwells the Church.

Here is what the Apostle Paul says will signal the end of the Church Age.  It ends in reverse order to the way it began.

  1. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven into the air in like manner as He left,
  2. The restraining Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way, together with the vessels He indwells.
  3. The antichrist is revealed and the Tribulation Period begins.

 First the Holy Spirit must go away, then Jesus will come.  In like manner as we saw Him go.

Assessment:

There is but one purpose for the indwelt Church of Jesus Christ to be on the lookout for signs of the antichrist.  For the same reason that meteorologists look for signs of bad weather – to give the warning.

But in order to obtain an accurate forecast, it is necessary to look at all the signs in their totality – we can’t just pay attention to the ones that make us feel good about ourselves. 

It is a good news-bad news situation, which makes it a difficult balance.  The Bible is the epitome of good news – the very word “Gospel” means good news.  Bible prophecy is also a message of good news – but from a somewhat more limited perspective.

The good news is that the Bible predicted all the bad things that we are seeing unfold upon the earth, because it means that God still has everything under control.  The bad news is that all the bad things the Bible predicted would unfold upon the earth is, well, unfolding upon the earth.      

There are no signs to signal the Rapture.  There is nothing to look out for.  There isn’t even a perspective that anyone can hang their hat on.  The Rapture is ‘the vanishing’ – but we only vanish from the perspective of those left behind. 

We can’t look at signs like earthquakes, famines and wars and conclude anything about the Rapture.  Those signs aren’t of the Rapture.  They are signs of impending Tribulation.  They are only important because the Rapture comes first.  

So as much as we really WANT to be looking for the approaching Christ, the only tangible thing we can nail our hopes to, weirdly enough, is the signs of the coming antichrist.  If we can discern the approach of the antichrist, then it means that the Rapture is just that much closer.

There are many well-meaning Christians that believe that pre-tribbers do the Church a great disservice because the pre-trib doctrine doesn’t prepare Christians for what to do about the Mark of the Beast.  To my way of thinking, this is one of the more baffling arguments, but it must gain traction somewhere because I hear it so often.  

Here is my rebuttal to that argument.

In the event that a world leader demands to be worshipped as a god as a condition of economic participation and requires you to accept a mark in your right hand or forehead as a token of worship, don’t do it.

There. 

Now, to justify the title of today’s OL – why we need to know what we don’t necessarily want to know.

Since there are no signs preceding the Rapture, the only benchmark measurements available to us are the signs that precede the antichrist, of which there are many.  

The antichrist is a politician.  He carries a bow, but no arrows, because his principle weapon is politics.

By all accounts, the antichrist does not seize power, he achieves it by universal acclamation – “Who is like unto the beast?  And who is able to make war with him?”

The antichrist of whom the Bible speaks does not arrive in secret – he explodes onto the world stage at a time when the world is looking for answers from anyone but Jesus.   He is not one of many choices – he is the ONLY choice available.

He is a liar whose rise to power is accompanied by many lying signs and wonders – but he is thrust into power by the people ­– if we are right on the timing, by people that are alive right now.

So it is extremely illuminative of the lateness of the hour when a charismatic politician rides into power on the back of lies and disinformation, shows total disregard for Congress, or any law, buys off the money trust, starts wars in the name of peace and reverses sixty years of friendship with Israel as part of his commitment to globalism.

It isn’t that Obama is the antichrist – I expect the antichrist will be far more competent.  But before Obama, it was a lot harder to imagine how the antichrist would be able to accomplish all that the Bible sets before him in just seven years.

Until you look at what Obama has accomplished in less than five.

I am as sick of the Obamanation as you are.  And there are a lot of things I am learning that I really, really would rather not know.

But it isn’t possible to understand unfolding Bible prophecy without an understanding of the political machinations that bring the antichrist to power or enable him to accomplish his mission.

It isn’t possible to explain how he will use the economy to enforce his edicts without understanding how it works.  I don’t believe that the Lord provided us with such a clear and unambiguous model if we weren’t to learn from it.

The three main pillars of government during the Tribulation Period are the antichrist’s control of a global economy, religion and government.

If we are to be watchmen on the wall prepared to give the warning, we need to know what we are warning of.  The antichrist isn’t a cartoon character wearing a red union suit and carrying a pitchfork.

Neither is he an amateur buffoon with no concept of how to lead or any clue of the Law of Unintended Consequences.  (That’s how we know it isn’t Obama.)

In any case, he won’t be wearing a name-tag.   

Since there are no signs preceding the Rapture, the only signs we have are those that warn of the Tribulation.  But they are not there to prepare the Church to endure it.  

“Hey, bad things are coming.  Nothing you can do about it, though. If you manage to avoid the Mark of the Beast, you’ll die a horrible death.  If not, you’ll spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.  Being saved has nothing to do with it.  So suck it up, buttercup!”

What kind of warning is that?

Note: Today’s Letter is a logical examination of the what to expect in the Last Days.  Alf Ceniga’s report “Let My People Go” summerizes the responses of key religious groups this past Easter. 

All Hail Mother Gaia

All Hail Mother Gaia
Vol: 151 Issue: 24 Thursday, April 24, 2014

The first Earth Day celebration was conceived by then U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson and held in 1970 as a ”symbol of environmental responsibility and stewardship”.

What is interesting is the universal recognition — in this generation — that the Earth is in trouble. Everybody, regardless of their religious views — or lack thereof — can see the handwriting on the wall — even if they refuse to admit it was written in advance.

For the most part, the proponents of Earth Day are pagans who would scoff at the idea of a Creator God, preferring ‘Mother Gaia’ instead. While they laugh at the idea of a living God, the concept of a living, intelligent, planet seems perfectly rational to them.

“Earth Day” founder Senator Nelso explained, “When I first conceived of Earth Day, a global holiday to celebrate the wonder of life on our planet, I thought long and hard about the day on which it should fall. It must be meaningful. One that might be accepted universally for all of humankind. What could be more appropriate than the first moment of Spring, when day and night are equal around the world and hearts and minds can join together with thoughts of harmony and Earth’s rejuvenation.

Senator Nelson adds, “Just as a single prayer can be significant, how much more so when hundreds, thousands, millions of people throughout the world join in peaceful thoughts and prayers to nurture neighbor and nature.”

Former Vice President Al Gore in his book, ‘Earth in the Balance’ wrote what he called the ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ using quotes from an ancient Hindu dictum: “The earth is our mother, and we are all her children.” He quotes from the gurus of Sikhism who claim that the “Earth teaches us patience, love; Air teaches us mobility, liberty; Fire teaches us warmth, courage; Sky teaches us equality, broad-mindedness; Water teaches us purity, cleanliness.”

He quotes from Baha’i that teaches that, “Man is organic with the world. His inner life molds the environment and is itself deeply affected by it.” And he quotes from James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis.

Gore wrote in his book that the root problem in Western civilization is that “we lost our feeling of connectedness to the rest of nature.”

Near the end of his book, he offers an answer to this alienation by quoting from a prayer of the Onondaga tribe in upstate New York.

Assessment:

A single prayer CAN be significant, if it is addressed to God, but Nelson’s vision is of the prayers of millions addressed to the god of this world, just as Christian Southen Baptist Al Gore preaches any god will do.

Addressing a prayer to a mythical earth god in the expectations it will be answered is like addressing a letter with no return address to ‘Fred’ and dropping in a mail box, expecting it to be delivered to the correct Fred. And then expecting Fred, who doesn’t know you, to grant your request.

The results of praying to the earth are more obvious to the pagan earth worshippers than they are to the rest of us — they pray and pray, and the planet’s ecology gets worse and worse. You’d think they’d get the hint. Either Gaia isn’t listening, she doesn’t care, or — maybe, just maybe, GAIA IS A BIG ROCK FLOATING IN SPACE.

Because, according to the high priests of the god of this world, the planet isn’t healing itself, it is falling apart. That is the reason for Earth Day –to give Gaia a big hint that we’d like her to fix things, or, if Gaia won’t, (or CAN’T) then maybe everybody can meet together on Earth Day and give her a hand. (After all, the Earth doesn’t have any hands of its own)

According to guys like Al Gore, the earth is billions of years old, and man has been here for millions of years. Al Gore has been around for a bit over a half-century.

When Al Gore’s dad was born, the air was clean, the water was clean, the environment was largely unspoiled and few people thought about praying to the planet to please grow more trees so we don’t run out of oxygen. Thus had it been,(using Al Gore’s timetable), for millions of years.

(Amazing what a difference a half-century can make.)

So Earth Day is the day when millions of people will all come together, hold hands, sing ‘Kumbayah’, share a universal Coke and pray TO THE PLANET for the protection of the environment. They deny the God of Scripture, but embrace the god of this world, while giving him credit for God’s handiwork.

The skeptics can argue that they don’t believe in God, but Earth Day proves the opposite. They just prefer a god of their own design, one more in keeping with their own worldview.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul makes that exact point:

“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

(God is dead, but the EARTH is alive — and worthy of prayer and worship?)

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:19-25)

Note: Today’s Letter gives a historical account of ”Earth Day”.  J.L. Robb examines examines ”The Cyrus Cylinder” in light of the scriptures.

Brand Name Salvation?

Brand Name Salvation?
Vol: 151 Issue: 23 Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Store brand toasted oat ring cereals aren’t really Cheerios. They are made from oats, by the same processes, oftentimes in the same factories by the same employees, but they come in a different box, and therefore, they cost about a third the price.

When you pour them in your bowl at breakfast time, they look like Cheerios. They taste like Cheerios. But stores can’t call them Cheerios, so they aren’t Cheerios.

If they called them Cheerios, they’d have to charge the higher price for them to help General Mills pay that cute little bee’s salary for buzzing around the box.

General Mills Inc., tells you their brand of Cheerios are superior to the store brand. That’s why they cost so much more. Exactly how they are superior isn’t clear, but millions of people walk right by the store brand and buy the more expensive box.

But nobody eats the box. The nutritional value isn’t in the packaging, it is in the product. It isn’t the contents you are paying for.

It’s the box they come in.

According to a document signed by Pope Benedict XVI, God is like General Mills.

It isn’t the message that Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins, rose again on the third day, and extends an offer of pardon to all who repent of their sins and trust Him for their salvation that is important.

It’s the messenger.

The Pope explicitly said that non-Catholic Christians aren’t true Christians and that non-Catholic churches are not true churches.

Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” said the document.

Other Christian communities such as Protestants “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” since they don’t have what’s known as apostolic succession – that is, the ability to trace their bishops back to the original 12 apostles of Jesus.

It was “difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to them,” said the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, purporting Roman Catholicism was “the one true Church of Christ.”

The Vatican statement said that non-Catholic denominations, since they can’t really be churches, “do not have the means of salvation.”

What is this statement really saying? In a nutshell, it is saying that the “means of salvation” is a church, not faith in Christ.

It can’t be understood to mean anything else. It can’t be twisted to mean anything else. If the ‘means to salvation’ is restricted to the Catholic Church, then it is church membership, not Jesus.

Salvation comes by faith in a particular church, its pronouncements and its dogma. That is the Vatican’s position. So, what exactly, does the Vatican teach about salvation?

Babies who are not baptized are not saved and cannot go to heaven. They go to someplace called “limbo”, not heaven, and not hell, since they aren’t saved, but have not yet committed a sin.

The Vatican takes its concept of “Limbo” from Jesus’ description of Paradise, (Abraham’s Bosom), the place where those who died in the friendship of God, like Abraham or Moses, waited for redemption by Christ.

But while Abraham and Moses were redeemed, innocent unbaptized babies remain there for eternity. That is entirely an invention with no support in Scripture.

Still, “true” Christians must take that as a matter of faith, since the Catholic Church is the only one with the “means for salvation,” and that is what the Vatican teaches is the truth.

For the rest of us, we don’t go to heaven when we die. We go to “purgatory.”

The Catholic encyclopedia defines ‘purgatory’ as “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”

In other words, satisfaction for sins was NOT fully paid by the Blood of Christ. However, full satisfaction COULD be made through the Church through one of two ways.

In mediaeval times, you could buy your way out for cash. This was called an ‘indulgence’. If you ponied up enough cash, you could get a ‘plenary indulgence’.

If you didn’t meet the full asking price, you could reduce your sentence by fifty years, a hundred years, five hundred years, whatever.

In modern times, you can get “indulgences” by saying certain prayers on certain feast days. (The Vatican abolished the cash payments principle, after it decided that the previous Vicars of Christ’s infallible pronouncements were in error.)

Now, saying the stations of the Cross prayer litany on November 1st would buy you a ‘plenary indulgence’ — cash donations are optional.

Say you had a loved one who had already died and was suffering in purgatory. You could buy them out, too. (When I was 12, I bought my mother out of Purgatory by saying the stations of the Cross.)

Further, states the Catholic encyclopedia, “All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God’s law.”

Which sins does God consider more serious than others?

Ummm, only the Vatican knows for sure. When I was a kid, eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin.

If you ate a hamburger on Friday and died on Saturday, you wouldn’t go to limbo or purgatory, but would instead go directly to hell. But then, Vatican II determined that eating meat on Friday was no longer a mortal sin. (Another infallible pronouncement bites the dust.)

Can you imagine God’s embarrassment when He was forced to bring all those previously-condemned meat-eaters back into Heaven?

“Sorry, guys, My mistake. The Pope says you can come in, now.”

(Full disclosure: I was a devout Catholic until I thought that one through.)

So, non-Catholic Churches don’t “have the means of salvation” because they can’t pray somebody out of purgatory, buy a plenary indulgence, or baptize a baby out of limbo.

Non-Catholic clergymen (can we call them that?) cannot baptize, cannot forgive sins, neither can they turn bread and wine into the literal Body and Blood of Christ.

No sinner can be saved, according to the Vatican, unless they are officially baptized, forgiven their sins by a priest, and receive communion in the form of eating a wafer that is, by the ‘miracle of transubstantiation’ the literal Body of Christ.

Well, almost. The Vatican makes an exception for those who were never baptized by a priest as infants, but wish they were. The Vatican calls that “baptism by desire.”

God is required to honor that.

And, if you are killed in combat, or a car wreck, or some other violent means, there is a certain period of time after you are dead where a priest can perform Last Rites.

Whether you believed and repented in life is irrelevant, because if you receive Last Rites within that prescribed period, God is also required to honor that and admit you into heaven.

(I used to pray the priest wouldn’t get held up in traffic or be otherwise delayed.)

Non-Catholics do not accept the doctrine of purgatory, so they can’t buy or pray themselves or their loved ones out of it. They don’t have infant baptism, don’t receive absolution for their sins by a priest, cannot eat the literal Body of Christ, or receive Last Rites.

Therefore, they do not have “the means of salvation.”

Catholic apologists argue that the Church is constantly in the process of re-evaluating its positions on plenary indulgences, baptism, purgatory, etc., or that it doesn’t teach those positions today.

The fact is, the Vatican DOES teach those positions, and if it changes its mind, it is either the equivalent of God changing His mind, (which the Bible says is impossible) or it MUST be a case of the Vatican dictating the terms of salvation to God.

Neither of which makes any sense.

Assessment:

This is a good place for the chicken and the egg question. Which came first? Salvation or the Church? Was the thief who was crucified beside Jesus a Catholic? (Even Peter wasn’t a Catholic yet.)

Yet Jesus said to him, based on the thief’s confession of faith, “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.”

Catholic dogma elevates Peter to the position of the first Pope based on his answer to a question Jesus posed to His disciples.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14-15)

Since that was the wrong answer, a buzzer sounded, and then Jesus asked the Double Jeopardy Question.

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

“That’s absolutely correct! You win the Double Jeopardy Round. Tell the audience what he’s won, Johnny.”

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

“That’s right! For being the first one to correctly answer the Double Jeopardy Question, you win the Ring of the Fisherman! You are officially the First Pope.”

The fact that Jesus is the “Christ, the Son of the Living God” was NOT the Rock upon which He would build His Church, the Vatican teaches. Instead, the Vatican claims that PETER is the Rock upon which the Church would be built.

The whole “Christ, the Son of the Living God” part is therefore irrelevant.

Since Peter is “the Rock” — and not Christ’s Deity that the Church would be built on, Christ was addressing Peter, (and his successors) and NOT those who put their faith in Christ, when He said,

“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

If this were the correct reading of these passages, that the Lord was giving Peter the keys to heaven and the power to bind or loose in heaven, then the context of the next verse would mean the Church would never consist of any more than those present on that day.

“Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:20)

The Vatican argues that this particular verse was negated by His subsequent giving of the Great Commission.

But they also deny that His claim that He, Jesus, was the only way to heaven (“I am the way the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me”) has any bearing on Peter’s (and his successor’s) authority to let people in, or exclude them from heaven.

It’s all quite convenient.

Only three verses after Jesus Christ elevated Peter to the position of Pope, giving him God-like power and authority, Jesus specifically calls Peter “Satan.”

“But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

That’s not quite so convenient. So, therefore, it is irrelevant.

Please understand this: I am NOT saying that no Catholic can be saved, even though the Pope says no non-Catholic can be saved. One can be a Catholic and be saved, if one puts their faith in Christ for their salvation and merely attends a Catholic Church.

What I AM saying is that nobody can be saved solely by membership in the Catholic Church or that membership is the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation.

Nobody can be saved by keeping the rules the Catholic Church. Paul says anyone who seeks to be justified by the Law will be judged by the Law.

Both the Bible and honest self-evaluation make it clear that nobody can keep every single tenet of the Law. And “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

The idea that God divides sins into minor (venial) and major (mortal) is not supported by Scripture. And if He does, which sins are which is a closely guarded cosmic secret.

If breaking the Ten Commandments qualify as mortal sins, then the Vatican is in violation of the prohibition on graven images. Therefore, the Catholic version of the Ten Commandments omits that one.

(Don’t take my word for it. Look it up for yourself. The official Vatican version omits Exodus 20:4 and then divides Exodus 20:17 into two parts so as to still add up to ten.)

The pronouncements of the Vatican CANNOT be the “means to salvation.” Salvation is a “gift of grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Faith in Peter does not qualify. Keeping Church Law does not qualify. Doing good works does not qualify.

Being baptized does not qualify. Going to confession does not qualify. Receiving communion does not qualify. Receiving last rites does not qualify. Obtaining plenary indulgences does not qualify.

The Bible outlines the qualifications for salvation.

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For HE is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, EVEN THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:” (Ephesians 2:13-16)

The Pope is a man. The ordinances of the Vatican are not Biblical, but the ordinances of men. The Vatican’s legacy from Peter IS Biblical, but it isn’t that Peter is “the Rock”.

It’s legacy is from three verses down: “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

There is but ONE Rock upon which Jesus Christ built His Church; the confession of faith that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It isn’t the messenger that saves us.

It is the Message.