Monday, June 22, 2009

Where are the golden plates?

A question for anyone who adheres to the Book of Mormon. Why was God so secretive in the translation and preservation of the Book of Mormon? Why did He work so differently in the way He preserved the Bible for 1900 years, but hid the Book of Mormon for at least 1600 years?

The New Testament alone has over 20,000 ancient manuscripts that date to within 150 years of the originals (50 if you include a fragment of the Gospel of John) that attest to its historical reliability. In other words we can take what we have today and compare it to manuscript copies that were written by third generation Christians. The chances of the text being corrupted within that time span are zero. Not to mention that if you compare all of the copies with each other, they are 99.5% similar. The majority of the differences are in spelling and grammar. Of the 20,000 lines that make up the New Testament, only 40 are disputed by scholars (none of which jeopardize any orthodox Christian doctrine).

Compare that to the manuscript evidence that the Book of Mormon The only known manuscript, the Golden Plates, were never seen by the general public and only attested to by a scant few individuals, some of whose pasts are pretty sketchy. To add to that, they were returned to an angel and are now inaccessible according to Mormon theologians. Hmmmmm... Why would God do that? He provides endless evidence for one of His holy books, but the other, which is the "fullness of the Gospel," He provides nothing but the testimony of one guy whom He hopes we'll all believe (and what in the world is "reformed Egyptian"?).

So to put this in perspective, one book has more evidence than any other book of antiquity ever; the other has absolutely no evidence that it ever existed until 1830.

This is an honest inquiry. I have no desire to attack or make any of my friends who use this book angry. I enjoy thinking and I want to encourage others to think as well. Subject your beliefs to scrutiny. I have done so with mine and am more convinced than ever that the Bible is God's word and is sufficient for what we need to know to be saved, that Christ is God who became man to die for our sins, and that He sent the person of the Holy Spirit to dwell with His people.

A good book to check out about the reliability of Christianity is Josh McDowell's New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Check it out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Amazing Testimony of Josh McDowell

A few weeks ago, the Focus on the Family radio show featured noted apologist Josh McDowell giving his testimony. It was a great blessing to hear and I urge everyone to listen to it, believer or not. If you're not a believer, consider the truths expressed. Study the evidence. There are no intellectual issue in believing in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monergism, Synergysm, and Arminianism

Monergism-The view that God through the Holy Spirit effectually works salvation in individuals without the cooperation of the individual.

Synergism-in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.

So, what's up with this?
It is often charged by Calvinists that Arminians believe that man must work with God to procure their salvation. Man must make a move toward God and then God will make a move toward them. It is often described as God meeting man half way. Is this what is taught by Arminians? Did Jacobus Arminius believe this way?

The answer is no. Arminians believe the work of salvation is started and completed by God. The Bible says in order for man to come to God, He must draw them to Himself (John 6:44). That is, the initial work of salvation is done by God. God must do this, because due to the effects of sin, man's will toward faith in Christ has been lost and destroyed. God must free the person's will in order for them to make a conscious decision whether to accept His gift of grace or not.

God the Holy Spirit acts upon the heart of a man when that man is exposed to the grace of God. This is done through the hearing of the Gospel (Romans 10:17) which God has declared as the great commission for His children; to spread His gospel (Matthew 28:19). Upon the hearing of the word, the Spirit of God calls the sinner to repent of his sins, draws the sinner to accept Christ, enables the sinner to accept Christ, and convicts the sinner of his or her sins and their need for Christ. After being enabled by the Spirit, the response of the sinner is passive. The sinner must stop resisting, repent of their sins, and place their faith in Christ. This gift, like any gift, is not irresistible. The sinner must accept the unmerited gift of God. Once this is done, following the plan of the Father, the Spirit joins the sinner to Jesus and thus begins the Savior's relationship with the sinner.

This is the part of Arminianism one could call synergistic, the acceptance of the gift of salvation, and it is nothing to be scared of because it is Biblical. The process of salvation is monergistic. He enables, He convicts, He draws, and He calls. Once the sinner places their faith in God, He is the one who justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies the sinner; just as He had predestined to do (Romans 8:29-30) because the work of Christ on the cross was made for our atonement. Calvinists cannot seem to get past the synergistic aspect of salvation, but it is the Biblical view (Acts 16:30-31, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc).

The gift of salvation is entirely God's to give. Man accepting that gift no more means they have merited that gift than if someone offered you a monetary gift and you accept it. God commands us to believe in His Son for salvation. It is not that obeying the command earns the salvation that results. It is simply the means to receiving salvation.

God has determined that this gift be offered to all men (John 3:16) and has determined to draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). If you place your faith in Jesus Christ and turn from your sins you will be saved. Truly whosoever will may come.

Arminius wrote:
"In this [fallen] state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace."
And also:
"I affirm, therefore, that this grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good. It is the grace which . . . bends the will to carry into execution good thoughts and good desires.

"This grace . . . goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, co-operates lest we will in vain. It averts temptations, assists and grants succour in the midst of temptations, sustains man against the flesh, the world, and Satan, and in this great contest grants to man the enjoyment of the victory . . .
"This grace commences salvation, promotes it, and perfects and consummates it. I confess that the mind of . . . a natural and carnal man is obscure and dark, that his affections are corrupt and inordinate, that his will is stubborn and disobedient, and that the man himself is dead in sins."
So as we can see, Arminius didn't teach that man meets God half way either. He clearly thought that the work of salvation is of God, and man's only and necessary choice is to accept the gift or to reject it. Arminian synergism gives all the glory to the One who deserves it, namely God, but does not deny the responsibility God has given man to accept the gift He offers.