Jesus in the Old Testament? Yup!

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament
Christopher J. H. Wright
IVP Academic, 2014, 288 pp.

After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and was born again in the Spring of 1983, I thoroughly enjoyed diving into God’s Word. I couldn’t get enough. After I finished the New Testament, I began reading the Old Testament. Things were going along pretty well until I got to parts of Exodus and then Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Man, those books were heavy lifting with lengthy passages involving the intricacies of the Mosaic ceremonial law and the tabernacle, etc., etc. Around that time, the pastor at our church mentioned “types” (i.e., foreshadowings, symbols, prefigurings) of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament. That really triggered my curiosity and I went to the local Christian bookstore and bought a couple of books on Old Testament types/typology. Fascinating stuff! You’re probably already aware of such types as young Isaac as a sacrifice, the slain Passover lamb, and Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. The list of such symbols is as long as the “red thread” of Jesus Christ’s coming redemptive work that is interwoven throughout the entire Old Testament narrative, from Genesis to Malachi. Admittedly, there were some Bible scholars who were a bit too zealous in their search for veiled types and sometimes attempted to make a case where there wasn’t one.

In “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament,” Christopher Wright focuses primarily on the Israelites, God’s chosen people, as a foreshadowing of Christ. As with all Old Testament types, the Israelites were an imperfect prefiguration that would find perfect fulfillment in the incarnation of God of the Son. Some of the characteristics of Israel by which they were to foreshadow Christ include:

  • Israel as the nation “son” of God the Father
  • Israel as the servant of God
  • Israel as a witness/light to the nations
  • Israel as a holy nation

The fact that chosen Israel failed so miserably in its role as a prefiguration of Christ is one of the prime examples of mankind’s absolute need of the Redeemer. Wright does an excellent job of examining other examples of the fulfillment of Old Testament history, prophecy, and song (psalms) in Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The reader will feel like one of the sojourners on the road to Emmaus. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27). Wright’s suggestion that Jesus was somewhat limited in His knowledge/omniscience as a condition of His humanity and was therefore not initially confident of His divine identity and mission will raise some eyebrows, however I’ll leave it to theologians to debate “What did Jesus know and when did He know it?”

There are some popular, progressive mega-church pastors we know (i.e., Andy Stanley) who would do away with the Old Testament if they had their druthers. That’s sheer idiocy and this book will explain why. “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament” is informative as well as a blessing to read. Thanks, Mandy!

Chapters

  1. Jesus and the Old Testament Story
  2. Jesus and the Old Testament Promise
  3. Jesus and His Old Testament Identity
  4. Jesus and His Old Testament Mission
  5. Jesus and His Old Testament Values
  6. Jesus and His Old Testament God

Throwback Thursday: Why did Jesus tell the apostles to buy a sword?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 29, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Bible is an inexhaustible fountain of knowledge and wisdom. I need God’s Word every day just like I need food, water, and oxygen. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to teach me, correct me, admonish me, encourage me, comfort me, and delight me. Praise the Lord for His wonderful and glorious Word!

The depths of Scripture can never be plumbed in this lifetime. I’ve read verses and passages many times without really understanding the full extent of their meaning. Then one day I’ll be reading a verse and, “Pow!,” the Holy Spirit illuminates it to me so that I really “get it” for the first time. I’m sure that’s happened to many of you as well.

I’m currently reading through Luke and yesterday I was reading chapter 22, verses 35-38:

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

I’ve read this passage many times before but it never “clicked” with me. Why did Jesus instruct His apostles to buy a “sword” (Greek: makhaira: generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge) when He subsequently rebuked Peter for violently wielding one of those swords in the Garden of Gethsemane just a few verses later (v. 51), causing the reader to question if Jesus had contradicted Himself. I asked the young pastor of the church we attended last year about this seeming contradiction and he confessed he didn’t know the answer. In the documentary, “Fight Church,” the macho son of the macho former-pastor of the independent fundamental Baptist church we used to attend, who is now the pastor, uses these verses to justify Christians owning guns and violently kicking some butt whenever needed.

But as I read the verses yesterday, the Holy Spirit finally illuminated their meaning to me. Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword to fulfill prophetic Scripture:

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12.

Jesus was with Peter and the apostles in Gethsemane when Peter transgressed by using a sword to cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus was counted among the violent anomos (lawbreakers). Oh, I get it now! It’s so simple. So easy. Why didn’t I understand it before? Jesus even states QUITE CLEARLY in the passage that the need for a sword was to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be numbered among the criminals:

“…and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’”

Why didn’t my previous pastor just out of seminary know this? Why does the IFB macho pastor not see this, but instead twists the passage to support his own misguided, macho man viewpoint? Why didn’t John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, and other notable Bible commentators understand this clearly obvious reason for Jesus’ instruction to buy a sword? Because it’s the Holy Spirit who illuminates God’s Word to us. Understanding of God’s Word doesn’t come to us from our own human wisdom.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” – John 16:13

Jesus would also be numbered with the transgressors when He hung on the cross between the two criminals.

“With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” – Mark 15:27-28

Jesus interceded for Peter after his violent act and He also interceded for the repentant criminal hanging beside Him (along with all the rest of us sinners who trust in Him by faith alone), just as Isaiah had foretold.

Lord, thank You for Your Word and for illuminating Your Truths which we can’t possibly discern through our own human understanding.

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Note from February 11, 2021: I’m a bit embarrassed by my bold certitude regarding the interpretation of this difficult “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” passage. I still hold to the above interpretation (which seems quite obvious to me), but in retrospect I would ratchet down my “triumphant” tone a few notches.

Jesus Christ in the Old Testament?

The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament
By Edmund P. Clowney
P&R Publishing, Second edition, 2013, 220 pp.

I remember reading the Old Testament for the first time as a new believer thirty-seven years ago. It was quite challenging, especially such portions as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But in his sermons, our pastor at the time would occasionally point out “types” or foreshadowings of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Ah, that was VERY cool. I remember subsequently reading a couple of books specifically about Biblical Typology. The first thirty-nine books of the Bible are full of veiled references to the coming Messiah. I subsequently read the Old Testament with a new appreciation for the many symbols and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ contained within.

This book about OT types recently caught my eye and I gave it a read. Below, I’ve listed the chapter titles and the respective Old Testament characters examined, who, as Clowney demonstrates, foreshadowed Christ in some form or fashion. “The Unfolding Mystery” is a very good introduction to Typology.

Chapters

  1. The New Man (Adam)
  2. The Son of the Woman (Abel & Seth)
  3. The Son of Abraham (Isaac)
  4. The Heir of the Promise (Jacob & Joseph)
  5. The Lord and His Servant (Moses)
  6. The Rock of Moses
  7. The Lord’s Anointed (Joshua, Samson, Samuel, David)
  8. The Prince of Peace (Solomon)
  9. The Lord to Come (the Prophets)

Catholics Burning Bibles

Yep, we’re currently in the middle of a national emergency. There was an event that happened 178 years ago, which also whipped the nation into a frenzy, but has largely been forgotten.

I recently reviewed a very biased book about the alleged anti-Catholicism of 19th-century American Protestants titled, “The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism” (1938) by Ray Allen Billington. See here. While the book was disappointing as a whole, it did discuss several interesting historical events. One of those was a ceremonial Bible burning in 1842 instigated by Catholic clerics near the northern border of New York State (see map far below).

I don’t have a lot of information about the event, but I was able to patch together the following account with bits and pieces from the internet:

The village of Corbeau (now Coopersville) in the township of Champlain, New York, and five miles from the Canadian border, was originally settled by French-Catholic Canadian refugees who had sided with the American invaders during the assault on Montreal in 1775 during the American Revolutionary War. The refugee population grew even larger following the Canadian Rebellion of 1837-1838. In 1842, representatives of the American Bible Society distributed French-language Protestant Bibles to the inhabitants of the village of Corbeau. Jesuit priest, “father” Telmonde, from Montreal was assigned to the Champlain region and subsequently learned that many of the Catholic villagers of Corbeau had Protestant Bibles in their possession. He immediately demanded that the Catholics surrender their Protestant Bibles. An undetermined number of Bibles, anywhere from one-hundred to three-hundred, were collected, stacked, and duly burned by the Jesuit and his assistants. According to the sworn testimony of one of the participants, there were several private burnings prior to the public ceremonial burning near the Catholic church on October 27, 1842 (see illustration above). The Jesuit’s chief assistant in the Bible burnings was later convicted by the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone and joined the Protestant mission at Grande Ligne in Quebec Province. The Champlain Bible Burning enraged the Protestants in the area and Jesuit Telmonde beat a swift retreat back to Montreal. The news of the Bible burning soon spread to all corners of the United States, fomenting great anger among the nation’s Protestants. It was a tremendous scandal. In our current era of spiritual lethargy, it’s difficult for us to relate to the outrage felt by 19th-century American Protestants over the ceremonial burning of Bibles. The Champlain Bible Burning was one of several Catholic provocations that contributed to the rise of nativism in the nation, which eventually culminated in the creation of the American (Know Nothing) Party in the mid-1850s.

Main reference – Dwight, Henry Otis. The Centennial History of the American Bible Society, 1916, pp. 203-204

Catholic clerics certainly aren’t burning Protestant Bibles these days. They have since found that friendly ecumenism is much more effective in advancing Catholicism than militancy. But history holds some valuable lessons.


The Burning of the Bibles: Defence of the Protestant Version of the Scriptures Against the Attacks of Popish Apologists for the Champlain Bible Burners
By John Dowling
Original printing by Nathan Moore, 1843
Kindle edition, HardPress, 2017

1 Star

I was hoping to find a history of the Champlain Bible Burning and thought I struck gold with this Kindle ebook. Boy, was I fooled. The book is mainly an argument in defense of the superiority of the Protestant King James translation of the Bible in comparison to the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation, which would later be discredited and abandoned by Catholics themselves. Following the Bible burning, Catholic clerics had defended the controversial event, claiming that the Protestant Bibles were faulty translations and worthy to be destroyed. Protestant John Dowling wrote this book as a rebuttal. There is very little mentioned in this book about the Bible burning incident itself. HardPress did a lousy job of transferring the original text to ebook. Paragraphs are chopped off and begin again elsewhere. Very sloppy and amateurish.

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St. Joseph’s Catholic church in Coopersville (Corbeau), New York, site of the infamous 1842 Bible burning

 

Final Word

Nope, it’s not my goodbye to the blogosphere, but, rather, it’s the title of John MacArthur’s latest book!

Final Word: Why We Need the Bible
By John MacArthur
Reformation Trust, 2019, 136 pp.

5 Stars

Over the past couple of years, Reformation Trust has published three short books written by Pastor John MacArthur on some of the basics of Christian belief. This latest one focuses on God’s Word, the Bible. Whether you’re new to the Christian faith or you’re a “seasoned saint,” you’ll enjoy this book, which explains why the Bible is our totally reliable standard of faith and practice. Argh! We Christians sometimes take God’s Word for granted. May we always cherish the Bible for what it is; God’s inerrant and infallible Word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Chapters:

  • The Bible is Under Attack
  • The Bible is Truth
  • The Bible is Authoritative
  • The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • The Bible is Food for the Soul

Order this book from Amazon here. See my reviews of the two other books by JMac in Reformation Trust’s basics-of-Christianity series, “None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible” here and “Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ” here.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 87, 88, 89, & 90: Relics and Sacramentals?

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week we will examine chapter eleven of Armstrong’s book in which the Catholic apologist presents four passages as proof-texts for the Catholic belief in the miraculous power of relics and sacramentals.

#87) 2 Kings 13:20-21: “20 So Eli′sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli′sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli′sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.

#88) 2 Kings 2:11-14: “11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli′jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Eli′sha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the mantle of Eli′jah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Eli′jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Eli′jah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eli′sha went over.”

#89) Acts 5:15-16: “15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

#90) Acts 19: 11-12: “11 And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

Following these passages, Armstrong writes, “Catholics believe that physical matter can be a conveyor of spiritual grace. This is the foundation for the use of relics (objects associated with saints) and sacramentals (sacred or devotional objects)…The Catholic Church does not teach that there is any magical virtue or any curative efficacy in the relic itself. The Church merely says, following the Scriptures, that they are often the occasions of God’s miracles.” – p. 147.

The Roman Catholic church has accumulated a vast collection of purported relics over the centuries, although, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, the authenticity of many of those relics is less than questionable. The RCC accords amazing powers to its relics including the power to heal physical illnesses and reduce the time a soul must spend in purgatory. Over the centuries, Catholic pilgrims have traveled far distances to churches and shrines to receive the alleged benefits of relics. I recently posted on one such relic, the alleged seamless tunic of Jesus in Trier, Germany (see here)

Armstrong cites the four passages listed above as proof texts for Catholicism’s use of relics, as if the passages teach relics are normative for the present age. God certainly enabled the Prophets and the Apostles of old to use physical objects in miraculous ways as signs of their God-ordained authority. But we now have the New Testament as God’s solely authorized Gospel message to mankind. There is no need for miracle-performing prophets like those in the Old Testament. The Apostles were comprised of men who personally witnessed the earthly ministry of Jesus. People who claim to be apostles today do so deceitfully. It’s quite revealing that people today will claim some of the gifts of the apostolic age, but not others, like raising people from the dead (Acts 9:40-41), and drinking deadly poison and being bitten by venomous snakes without harm (Mark 16:18). Hmm, how do they explain that?

By crediting miraculous powers to relics and other physical objects such as sacramentals blessed by priests, Catholicism has encouraged rampant superstition and idolatry among its members. In addition to pilgrimages to displays of relics mentioned above, Catholics often utilize blessed statues, medals, rosaries, palm fronds, crucifixes, holy water, candles, etc. in their homes in hopes of warding off misfortune.

If Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Paul were to enter Catholic churches and homes today, they would be appalled by the rank superstition and idolatry found within.

For more information on relics, prayer cloths, and such like see the informative articles below:

How should a Christian view relics? – Got Questions
https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-relics.html

What is a prayer cloth? – Got Questions
https://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-cloth.html

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 81, 82, 83, 84, & 85: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 3

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will continue with our examination of chapter ten of Armstrong’s book that we began two weeks ago, in which the Catholic apologist presents passages that allegedly support veneration/worship of “saints.” Armstrong presents the five passages below as proof texts for his claim that saints in Heaven intercede for people on earth. I’ve used hyperlinks for the last two passages because I think you’ll agree they aren’t germaine to Armstrong’s assertions.

#81) Revelation 5:8: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

#82) Revelation 6:9-10: “9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’”

#83) Revelation 8:3-4: “3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.”

#84) Matthew 17:1-3

#85) Matthew 27:52-53

Beneath these passage Armstrong writes, “Catholics believe that saints and angels in heaven can pray for us on earth and can hear our intercessory requests, just as people on earth can do; in fact, because the saints are so near to God’s presence in Heaven, their prayers are more powerful than ours on earth.” – p. 139.

Revelation 5:8 mentions the elders in heaven with “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” This is an allusion to the practices of the priests of the Old Testament who burned incense in the tabernacle and temple to symbolize the prayers of God’s people. The OT Israelites did not pray TO the priests and neither do Christians pray TO the alleged “saints.”

Revelation 6:9-10 only describes the Christian martyrs in heaven who cry out to the Lord for justice for their murder back on Earth.

Revelation 8:3-4 describes circumstances similar to Revelation 5:8. With the two passages from Matthew, Armstrong is simply grasping at straws to prove his case. The passages do not have the slightest connection to his argument.

The five passages presented here by Armstrong do NOT demonstrate his claim for the prayerful intercession of saints, not even in the slightest. In contrast to Armstrong’s torturous, forcing-a-square-peg-through-a-round-hole eisegesis, nowhere in Scripture can we find an example of a believer praying to anyone other than God. Armstrong and his fellow Catholic apologist are well aware of this fact and so they must resort to painfully twisted misinterpretations.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 77, 78, and 79: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 1

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will examine three passages that Armstrong claims support Catholicism’s veneration of “saints.”

#77) 1 Corinthians 4:16: “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”

#78) Philippians 3:17: “Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us.”

#79) 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9: “7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8 we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. 9 It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate.”

Beneath these passages, Armstrong writes, “These verses provide a primary biblical basis for the Catholic practice of venerating the saints. We honor the saints because the Bible instructs us to do so. There is nothing wrong or unbiblical in venerating or trying to emulate the saints, unless we were to put them in the place of God, which is idolatry.” – p. 133.

First of all, Catholicism’s notion of “saints” is un-Scriptural. The New Testament refers to ALL believers as saints (Greek, “hagios,” called out ones, separated ones). The Roman church hijacked the word to mean super-sanctified individuals who, according to its judgment, definitely merited Heaven.

Secondly, in the three passages the apostle Paul is encouraging believers to follow the example he has set in living the faith. Paul was not perfect, but his faith in Christ and his submission to the Lord were exemplary. Paul was certainly not urging believers to venerate HIM!

“For I am the least of the apostles and am unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul never encouraged praise and honors to himself, but always deferred to the Lord.

“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:28-31

The Roman church teaches that its members can pray to those it has canonized as saints as mediators. But nowhere in the Bible does a believer pray to anyone other than God. God’s Word specifically teaches that Jesus Christ alone is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and that we are not to attempt to communicate with dead souls:

“And when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” – Isaiah 8:19

If all of the dead Catholic saints were able to hear all of the prayers said to them by Catholics all around the world, they would have to be omnipresent, a quality that God alone possesses. By attributing various deitifical powers to saints, the Catholic church crosses the line from “venerating” saints to “worshiping” them. Catholics are encouraged to develop strong devotions to a particular saint and many Catholics spend most of the “prayer” time attempting to communicate with their “patron” saint.

No, the three Bible passages that Armstrong cites definitely do not support venerating/worshiping “saints.”

See the post below for more information on how Catholicism adapted paganism’s plurality of gods into saint veneration/worship.

Patron gods and patron “saints”
https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/patron-gods-and-patron-saints/

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – Pausing to note a paradox

Since early-August, we’ve been examining the 95 Bible verses presented by Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong, in his book, “The Catholic Verses,” that allegedly validate Catholicism and “confound Protestants.” This week, I thought we’d take a break from the 95 verses and examine a bit of a paradox regarding the author that came to my attention a couple of weeks ago.

In his defense of the Catholic doctrine of penitential suffering, Armstrong criticized some Protestant Pentecostals and charismatics who propagate the health and wealth, name it and claim it, prosperity gospel (see here) and who blatantly ignore Bible passages that contradict guaranteed temporal health and wealth for the believer. Our sister at Biblical Beginnings commented that Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospelers was inconsistent because of the popularity of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement, which boasts over 160 million followers. I responded that while Catholic charismatics do share many of the beliefs and practices of Pentecostals and charismatics regarding glossolalia, prophecy, and healings, they generally don’t focus on accumulating wealth and still value suffering as expiatory and penitential. However, Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospel brought to focus an apparent contradiction based upon some of his other articles.

Many/most conservative Catholic apologists dismiss Pentecostalism’s gifts of the spirit as a Protestant novelty. For instance, apologist, David Anders, regularly dismisses Pentecostalism as an innovation begun by Charles Parham in 1900. Pentecostalism began its infiltration into the Catholic church at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh in 1967 and blossomed into the CCR. While Anders is careful not to condemn the practices of Catholic charismatics because popes and prelates have tolerated the CCR and looked upon it as a valuable tool for ecumenism, he views the movement as a departure from Catholic tradition with roots in Protestantism and with the very real potential for heterodoxy.

Unlike most of his fellow conservative Catholic apologists, Dave Armstrong, the author of “The Catholic Verses” is quite at home with the CCR. He admits to attending charismatic and healing Masses occasionally.* I did a little research and discovered that Armstrong was a member of a Pentecostal church before he converted to Roman Catholicism.**

The interesting paradox is that Armstrong views Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli as rebellious and dangerous heretics, yet is very comfortable with the non-Catholic innovations of Charles Parham and William J. Seymour, the pioneers of Pentecostalism! Does not compute my friends. It is contradictory for Armstrong to attack the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and yet embrace the experiential practices that originated with Parham and Seymour in the early-20th-century outside of Catholicism.

Sources:

*Catholic Charismatic Renewal: A Defense
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/catholic-charismatic-renewal-a-defense.html

**Is Catholicism Christian? My Debate With James White (Dave Armstrong vs. James White from 1995)
http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/DebatingJamesWhite.htm

Full disclosure: I’m a cessationist regarding the apostolic gifts of the Spirit. I believe the “showy” gifts were given to verify the authority of the apostles and ended after the apostolic era.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 71 and 72: Transubstantiation? – Part 2

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

We continue in the same chapter that we examined last week in which Armstrong argued for the Catholic claim that its priests transform bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Armstrong presents the following two passages as further proof:

#71) 1 Corinthians 10:16: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

#72) 1 Corinthians 11:27-30: “27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

Beneath the second passage, Armstrong writes, “St. Paul hints at the sacredness of the Eucharist when he warns (using extremely strong language) of the consequences of receiving it without reverence and discernment. The implication is quite clear: something more than mere bread and wine, more than a pleasant “memorial meal,” is going on here.” – p. 124.

It certainly should be a sobering moment for born-again Christians to contemplate how the Lord Jesus Christ presented His broken body as a sacrifice for their sins when they receive communion. The Lord’s Supper is not to be taken casually. But it is quite another thing to extrapolate from those two passages that Catholic priests actually change bread wafers and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ! However, it is entirely understandable why the emerging clergy class of the early church would desire to elevate communion to a salvific exercise which they alone controlled. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of what He had done for each person who trusts in Him as Savior by faith alone, not as a means to salvation through “transubstantiated” bread and wine.

“23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

For more information on the Lord’s Supper and 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, see the article below:

Transubstantiation and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
https://carm.org/transubstantiation-and-1-corinthians-11-27-29