Monday, May 08, 2006

Review of Post-Biblical History (6)

This is part 6 of chapter 8 of my book, Biblical Glasses.

I grew up very much involved in the Catholic Church, and I hate to criticize it too harshly as I have many family members in the Church; however, it simply does not teach the Bible. It is my opinion most Catholics—if they ever really think about it—believe that all people are basically good and will go to heaven, that people earn salvation by believing in God and living a good life or doing the best they can, and that ultimately there is no reason to be concerned about salvation, because God is a God of mercy. We have already seen why this is Biblically incorrect teaching. (God is also a God of justice!)

Less than thirty percent of American Catholics go to church weekly, and many of those who attend regularly do so because of tradition saying they are supposed to go. The Catholic Church has long been corrupted with un-Biblical customs and unrepentant hearts. The corruption, which some consider apostasy (beyond the point of no return), is now at a peak as we see numerous law suits brought against priests for child molestation. Many of the priests are countersuing for slander! A recent survey showed that fifty-three percent of Catholic priests believe there is a homosexual subculture overwhelming their seminaries and dwellings. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in the Bible (see Genesis 19:4-13; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), yet it seems to run rampant within the Catholic Church. There have been cover-ups going on for years at the highest levels of the Church government.

To keep this from being a totally one-sided argument, it is absolutely true that Protestant Churches have experienced scandalous moments as well. In many cases, their moments are equally as revolting. I am not in any way saying Protestantism is perfect. I simply want people to know the facts, study the Bible, come to know Jesus Christ personally as their only Savior and Lord, and grow in fellowship with Him through the Holy Spirit. Quite frankly, having been there, I can say that is hard to do in the Catholic Church.

By getting onboard a growing church with sound Biblical preaching of Christ, a discerning group of elders at its helm, and Christ Himself as the captain, we can learn, discern, and grow, not in a religion, but in a relationship with our Creator! We must engage in Christian fellowship and follow the Bible, God’s Word revealed to us, which says: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Returning to Church history, as previously mentioned, the New Testament was divided into verses by Robert Stephanus around 1551. The Presbyterian Church was founded in 1560. Anabaptists had concerns with infant baptism and separation of church and state issues, so they broke away and formed the Baptist denomination in 1609. The King James Version of the Bible was first published in 1611 and is still today the mostly widely used!

The Protestant Westminster Confession, which confirmed that the sole doctrinal authority is Scripture and gave reformed views of the sacraments, the ministry, and grace, was drafted in 1646. The Society of Friends, known as Quakers, was founded in 1648. In 1678, John Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, which is today the second most circulated book behind only the Bible [Editor's note: Now (May, 2006) Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code has eclipsed the mark set by Bunyan's book]. Jonathan Edwards led the great awakening in 1735; John Wesley founded Methodism in 1738. 1780 saw the first “Sunday School” classes being taught.

The nineteenth century saw fundamentalism develop, as the conservative standard of regarding the Bible as both infallible and inerrant began to dissolve in liberal Protestant churches. The Christian cult of Mormonism, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, originated in 1827. The Disciples of Christ denomination officially began in 1832. Charles Spurgeon was England’s finest preacher in the mid-1800s. 1870 saw the First Vatican Council, when Pope Pius IX declared Papal Infallibility. The 1870s also saw the beginning of another Christian cult, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The twentieth century opened with the beginning of the Pentecostal denomination in 1901.

The Scopes Trial of 1925 opened the door for evolution theory to be taught in schools; a high school teacher was convicted, and later acquitted, of teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution, which was contrary to the law prohibiting any teaching that denied the divine creation of humans. It embarrassingly showed that many Christians are ill-prepared “to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have” (1 Peter 3:15).

1949 saw Billy Graham step into the limelight as one of America’s finest preachers. The United Church of Christ was founded in 1957. 1962 began the Second Vatican Council, which ended Latin Masses and actually allowed Bible study by laymen within the Church; Pope John XXIII felt like the Catholic Church needed to better relate to modern culture by recognizing modern man’s abilities and desires within the ever-changing culture. 1966–1976 saw China accept and begin to rapidly grow its Christian population despite persecution under Communism.

Whereas almost all English Bible translations tended to be literal prior to the 1900s, the twentieth century saw the rise of other, less literal forms of translation. There are four primary types of Bible translations from ancient manuscripts:

- Word-for-Word (Literal): Such as the KJV, AV, RV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NKJV, [Editor's addition: ESV] and NRSV.
- Meaning-for-Meaning: Such as the GNB, TEV, and NEB.
- Word-for-Word and Meaning-for-Meaning Blends: Such as the NIV, JB, NJB, and REB.
- Paraphrases: Such as the J.B. Phillips Bible, the Living Bible, and the Message Bible.

Regarding God’s Word, Jesus said in Matthew 5:18: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.” The King James Version says it like this: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

The ‘Jot’ is the Hebrew word ‘Yodh’ which is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is also the smallest letter. It’s European or English equivalent is the letter ‘Y’ as in the English term Yahweh or in Hebrew YHVH since there were no vowels used in the ancient script. The word ‘jot’ itself is an English transliteration of ‘iota’ which is the 9th letter of the Greek alphabet. ‘Iota,’ in turn, is the nearest Greek equivalent for the Hebrew yodh. The ‘tittle’ is the small decorative spur or point on the upper edge of the yodh. … Imagine a tiny letter with a slightly visible decorative mark. Tittle is used by Greek grammarians of the accents and diacritical points. It means the little lines or projections by which the Hebrew letters differ from each other. One example
would be the difference between the letter L and I. The difference is only one small mark. We use phrases like ‘the dotting of the i, and the crossing of the t,’ and ‘every iota.’ It is interesting that the Jewish scribes who copied the … Hebrew Bible scrolls paid the greatest attention to the minutiae of detail and such marks attached to each consonant throughout the entire text. They even numbered every letter, word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, section, and scroll to insure that the total equaled that of the text being copied before allowing it to enter the holy synagogue. The meaning of the passage is very clear. Not even the smallest letter or even its decorative spur will ever disappear from the ‘God Breathed’ Word until all is fulfilled. In fact when heaven and earth are replaced by a new heaven and earth, the Word of the Lord will have accomplished its purpose and will be fulfilled in every detail even to the very letter.
Post-Biblical history, with all its imperfections, shows us the need to return to Biblical authority. After all, God’s Word will continue to move toward complete fruition in the Rapture of God’s chosen people, the return of Jesus Christ, the punishment of sin, and eternity with no more pain and suffering. In the next chapter, we will answer a couple important questions about God’s presence in our lives today by looking at His character. We will also see where America is standing from a spiritual perspective by looking at our great nation through “Biblical Glasses.”

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