A Response To Humanist U.P Professor Part II: Sacred Scriptures

[Note: Gospels that were not included in the New Testament are called the “Apocrypha” e.g the Gospel of Magdalene, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, etc. Question: Who decided not to include the Apocrypha in the New Testament? Where they inspired by the same Holy Spirit? Why were the Apocrypha not included?]

Apocrypha means “hidden”, in the early Church there are a lot of writings that was circulating in the early Church some are authentically written by the apostles like for example the four gospels in the Bible (Matthew, Luke, Mark and John), and some are written by Agnostics or heretics such as the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Magdalene, Gospel of Judas, Gospel of Peter etc.

 The apocrypha were not included in the New Testament because they contain teachings that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. For example in the gospel of Magdalene it teaches that Jesus Christ is married, in the Gospel of Judas, Judas was the real hero in the early Church. It was the Catholic Church in synod of Carthage in which the canon of the New Testament was formed it was in this synod where heretical writings where excluded in the New Testament. 

The succeeding Councils Rome, Florence and Trent ratified the decision of the Synod of Carthage. The Church is inspired by the Holy Spirit when choosing which scriptures are inspired and which are not. The Church is not just a religious building or an organization of people professing the same faith, the Church is the body of Christ (Col.1:18) and the pillar and bulwark of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).


[On the Consistency of the Bible: Birth of Jesus Christ versions: 1. Matthew – Jesus was an aristocrat who descended from King David; Luke – Jesus was less exulted but also descended from King David; and Mark – Jesus the “Poor Carpenter” thus the legend.]

I don’t see any inconsistency in the accounts found in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) concerning the Birth of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus Christ was portrayed as a descendant of King David and in fact that is true however that doesn’t mean that he will wear crown of jewels, royal clothes and a reside in a castle. 

Jesus is an aristocrat not by our standards but by virtue of having King David as his descendant. Matthew is not only providing us with a detail of Christ’s life, or a trivial knowledge that Jesus Christ is a carpenter. Christ being a carpenter has a theological meaning; a carpenter is a person who builds houses and fixes broken furniture. 

In like manner Christ is the builder of the kingdom of God and he fixes the souls of the people by redeeming it through his passion and death. Reading the scripture in the light of the living tradition of the church we can remove and doubt of inconsistency in the biblical data about Christ’s life.

[2. Luke – Jesus was visited by the shepherds, while in Matthew, visited by the Kings]
There is no contradiction in this statement of Matthew and Luke, Jesus Christ was both visited by the shepherds and the Magi or three kings as we popularly call it.


[3. Luke – Jesus’  family in Nazareth, while in Matthew, Jesus’ family was a well-to-do resident in Bethlehem and all along was born in a house, not in a manger. Therefore, the bible is not unimpugnable esp. on this issue of birth.]

For those who do not have knowledge on Jewish culture would generally conclude that this is a clear contradiction. Matthew wrote that Jesus was born in a house while the other gospel writer wrote that Jesus was born in a manger. Our understanding of the term “house” is different from how the Jews understand it. For them a “house” is a place where they slept over night, it doesn’t have to be a house with roof and doors. For example if a shepherd spends the night in a cave while watching over his sheep, the cave for him is his house.

 If a merchant spends the night in an inn the inn for him is his house, thus he can say “a house in Galilee” even if it is not an actual house but an inn. In like manner Joseph and Mary spent the night in a manger thus the manger is considered their house. Henceforth, there is not contradiction when the gospel writers wrote that Jesus Christ was born on a manger or a house.

[On the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ: Question: 1. Did Jesus really die on the cross?]

There are sufficient biblical and secular data that can prove that Jesus Christ historically died through crucifixion. I don’t think that this is an issue since this fact is universally accepted either by Catholic or Protestant scholars.


[2. Who asked for Jesus’ crucifixion, the Jews or the Romans?]

Although it was under Roman authority and law but it was the Jews who called for the death of Jesus Christ.

[3. Why put the blame to the Jews and exonerate the Romans?] 

The Catholic Church did not blame the Jews for the death of Jesus Christ, Christ’s death was an act of sacrifice in order to redeem mankind.

[On Jesus’ Last Words: 1. Mark and Matthew – “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me.” 2. Luke – “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” 3. John – “It is finished.” 4. Peter – “My Power, my Power, why hast Thou forsaken me.”Therefore, the bible is not definitive.] 

The gospel writers (excluding Peter) independently recorded the words of Jesus Christ, even though there are various on how they record the words of Jesus Christ yet essentially they all have the same meaning and thought. Jesus Christ’s words signify that his mission is already finish, even though the wordings of the gospel writers are different yet they contain the same thought. Therefore, the bible is definitive on this matter.

[On the Marital Status of Jesus Christ 1. The bible is silent about Jesus marital status (a product of Medieval spurious deletion and edition) but Jesus preached about marriage. In Matthew, “Jesus said unto them, ‘have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female…. for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh.’”]

Cleary the premise above contains logical fallacy; first it assumes that the scripture is silent about Christ’s marital status. Then it begins with the argument that Jesus Christ is teaching about marriage hence the conclusion would be that Jesus Christ is married based on his teaching about marriage. 

A truth cannot be discerned with a fallacy, since the premise above starts with a fallacy then its conclusion logically is erroneous. First and foremost the scripture is not silent about Christ marital status in fact it supports that belief of Christians that Jesus Christ is not married. Nowhere in scripture ever mentioned that Jesus Christ was married, at his death on the cross the gospel writers never mentioned about his allege wife and lastly the theory that Jesus Christ is married can only be found in apocryphal writings, no early Christian writers ever mentioned or teach that Jesus Christ is married.

[2. There is no teaching on celibacy in the bible, thus there in no reason to suppose that he also practiced celibacy.] 

Here is another fallacy, an argument from silence, not because celibacy is not mentioned in the Bible means that celibacy is not practice. In fact we have historical data of a group of Jews called Essene which practices celibacy.

Among common features shared by Essene and Christian theology and community life we may list the following: a basic appeal to Isa. 40:3 , “Prepare the way of the Lord. . .in the desert.”; a firm sense of community and oneness, including some community of goods; entrance to the community on Pentecost; initiatory washing connected to the outpouring of the Spirit; a sacred meal of bread and wine; eschatological stress on celibacy. . .[1]

The practice of celibacy is not only limited to the Essene, Jesus Christ also mentioned the Eunuchs which also practices celibacy (Mt.19:11-12). St. Paul himself is a celibate and preaches about the virtue of celibacy (1 Corinthians Chapter 7).

[3. Jesus also preached the “Wedding in Cana” which is believed as his very own wedding..John’s Wedding in Cana: By custom, shall be reserved for the host to replenish the wine, which Mary acted as if she was the hostess ordering Jesus to do his first ever miracle of turning water into wine, ala Bacchus. Moreover, according to the account, the governor of the feast after, called the bridegroom and said unto him, “every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have all drank, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now. – This would have been addressed to Jesus but to the groom, therefore, Jesus and the groom are one and the same.]

This is the most preposterous argument I ever heard against celibacy, not even hard core anti-Catholics use this kind of argument. If we are to read John 2:1-11 carefully it will tell us that Jesus Christ and the groom are not one and the same. In verse 2 of John 2:1-11 it says; “Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.” Will the groom invite himself to his own wedding? Common sense tells us that Jesus Christ and the groom are not one and the same. A person who concludes that John chapter 2 speaks of Christ’s own wedding clearly lacks reading comprehension.

[4. Under Mishnaic Law, by the time the son reaches 17 or puberty, it is obligatory for the father to look and to provide the son a wife. If Jesus was a Jew, he could have been subjected also by this Law in the context of his time.]

Jesus Christ superseded the Old Covenant thus he and his followers are not obliged to obey the law of the old covenant. Christ started a New Covenant between God and his disciples (Christians) therefore they are to follow the laws of the New Covenant not of the old. There are numerous passages in the New Testament that tells us that Christians are no longer under the laws of the Old Covenant (Romans 6:14, Romans 7:4, Romans 7:6, Galatians 3:24-25, II Corinthians 3:11, II Corinthians 3:13, Colossians 2:14, Hebrews 8:13 and Hebrews 10:9). 

[5. Jesus is referred to as a “Rabbi” frequently in the gospel. A Rabbi in a Jewish context, must be married. An unmarried  man may not be a Rabbi. Thus, chances are, Jesus Christ is married for being recognized as one.]

In the Jewish religion only those who lead the worship are the ones who are required to be married. For the Jews they have to inherit the priesthood from their father in order for them to become a priest. The book of Leviticus in the Old Testament laid down the requirements to become a priest. However, a rabbi doesn’t have to be married because a rabbi’s function is only to teach he do not lead the congregation in worship.[2] This argument will not hold water it is not sufficient to discredit the belief that Jesus Christ is celibate. The person who asserts that a rabbi will have to be married displays his gross ignorance of Jewish custom.

[6. Finally, according to a theological scholar, granted that the cultural background as witness, it is highly impossible that Jesus Christ was not married well before the beginning of his public ministry. If he had insisted on celibacy, it would have created a stir, a reaction which would have left some traces (esp. in the bible). So, the lack of mention of Jesus’ marriage in the gospels is a strong argument not against but  for the hypothesis of marriage, because any practice or advocacy of voluntary celibacy would in the Jewish context of the time have been so unusual as to attract much attention and comment.]

There are also theological scholars who believed that it is not a taboo to be a celibate during the time of Jesus Christ. Previously we already mentioned about the Eunuch and the Essene who practices celibacy. St. Paul himself is also celibate and preaches about the virtue of celibacy. Throughout the New Testament there is not mention about Christ’s wife or Christ’s wedding. 

The only sources that we have that mentions that Jesus Christ is married is the apocryphal gospel, the gospel of Mary Magdalene which is clearly not written by an apostle or Magdalene herself. It was an early Christian fabrication written by Gnostics a heretical group. Celibacy is common practice in some Jewish sects in the time of Jesus Christ, it is no longer a big deal if a Jew wishes to become a celibate like Jesus Christ and St. Paul.
Refences:

[1] Raymond Brown, Recent Discoveries and the Biblical World, p.42

[2] http://judaism.about.com/od/jewishbeliefsandlaws/f/rabbis_celibacy.htm

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Is John 1:1 Referring To Christ As The “Word”?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
St. John begins his Gospel with a theological formulation pointing to the identity and nature of the “Word”. Three important elements can be deduced from the passage above.

1. The Word is preexisting 

2. The Word is present with God

3. The nature of the Word

The identity of the Word is very obvious in the passage, it perfectly reflects the divinity and true nature of Jesus Christ. In St. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians he speaks of Christ’s preexistence.

He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17 NRSV-CE

The only plausible explanation for Christ’s existence before all things is that he exists even before everything else was created. To those who do not believe in Christ’s divinty this passage is hard pill to swallow because one cannot be just mere human being, yet, exists even before the creation of the universe. Christ’s nature being God is necessary for him to exists before the world begun.  

St. Paul’s belief of Christ’s preexistence can be traced back into what John wrote in his Gospel that Christ is with the Father’s presence before everything else was created.

So, now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. John 17:5

When debating with the members of a local cult they will only quote verse 3 of the 17th chapter of John’s gospel because it states that fact the Christ existed before all things, not just an idea in the Father’s mind but as a distince person. 

Lastly, this passage reveals that Jesus Christ is a God incarnate (John 1:14), He is not just a human being as what the arianism asserts but a true God and true man. 

The following passage points to Christ’s divinity:

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God”. John 20: 28 

To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:5 

But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. Hebrews 1:8 

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. he is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 

Jesus Christ’s true nature as true God and true man is biblically well founded and one cannot deny Christ’s divinity without twisting and misinterpreting the Scriptures.

  


Nature of Christ’s Death, Figurative or Literal?

4-jesus-christ-crucifixion-on-good-friday-silhouette-reflected-in-matthew-gibson

It is however, our belief that the body of Christ alone was interred. The above words propose, as the principal object of our belief, that God was buried; as according to the rule of the Catholic faith we also say with the strictest truth that God died, and that God was born of a virgin. For the Divinity was never separated from His body which was laid in the sepulchre, we truly confess that God was buried. (Catechism of Trent, Article IV)

The statement from the Catechism of Trent which says “God was buried, God died and God was born of a virgin”, was a point of disagreement among people who failed to grasp the teaching of the Council of Trent. In order to water down or explain away the dogmatic formulation of Trent concerning Jesus Christ’s death they arrived to a conclusion that the Catechism of Trent construed its wording in a figurative way. Therefore the statement “God was buried, God died and God was born” is only a figurative statement and not a literal one where Jesus Christ was literally born, died and was buried.

However, such an interpretation is totally detached from what the council have in mind. The idea that Christ’s death is just figurative and not literal is foreign from the Catholic faith, from the scriptures to magisterial documents it has always been taught and preached that Jesus Christ suffered a literal death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the statement of Trent that Christ’s death is literal and He died as a person.

Since the “Author of life” who was killed is the same “living one who has risen,” the divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death. CCC 626

Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse. . . CCC 627

To the benefit of every man, Jesus Christ tasted death. It is truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried. CCC 629

Basing on correct interpretation of the statement of Catechism of Trent, Christ death is not figurative but literal and historical. Another explanation that they proposed is that Christ’s death should only be attributed to Christ’s human nature. There are two fundamental problems with this explanation.

1. It wrongfully predicates that act of dying to the nature rather than the person.
2. It assumes that nature (an abstract reality) can be subjected to physical death or harm

According to the renowned dogmatic theologian Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle, Ph.d, D.D. actions of either the Divine and human nature of Christ should always be predicated to the divine person.

Whatever is predicated of the Divine person of Christ according to His Divine nature, can and must be predicated of the same Divine Person also in His human nature, and vice versa; but the predicates proper to the Divine nature must not be assigned to the human nature, and vice versa. (Christology. A dogmatic trietied on the Incarnation, Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle, Ph.d, D.D., p.186)

To sum up what this great dogmatic theologian is saying is that actions that belong to the Divine and Human nature are always predicated to the person of Jesus Christ. So when the Catechism of Trent said that “God was buried, died and born” it is attributing these actions to the person of Jesus Christ not to His divine nature.

These major modern errors in Christology must be refuted and corrected before it can cause major confusion and doubts among the faithful.