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Archive for March, 2012

Sola Scriptura

Christian Definition and Description of Sola Scriptura

            Scripture is the writings of the Old and New Testament, which have been historically recognized as God’s Word in written form.[1]  And it is by these two books that we can say sola Scriptura (Scripture alone).  Scripture alone teaches that the Holy Bible is our final and sole infallible source of authority when it comes to matters of life and practice of the Christian faith.[2]  Moreover, sola Scriptura echoes the concept that perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture is the invaluable source to the Christian faith; and that church tradition is not necessary for determining the right interpretation of Scripture.[3]  Since the Catholic Church seems to assume or attack Protestants for totally ignoring tradition, let’s take a look at what the early Church Fathers had to say about Scripture alone.  Protestants don’t ignore tradition totally (except for bad tradition), but Protestants have a problem with how Catholics see tradition contrary to Scripture.

According to Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), he pronounced this about Scripture,

He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord, which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded] faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things.” (The Stromata, 16).

Tertullian (c. 160-235) said

That Scriptures . . . indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith. (Against Praxeas, 11).”

Origin (c.185-254) said,

In proof of all words which we advance in matters of doctrine, we ought to set forth the sense of the Scripture as confirming the meaning which we are proposing . . . . therefore we should not take our own ideas for the confirmation of doctrine, unless someone shows that they are holy because they are contained in the divine Scriptures (Homily 25 on Matthew).”

Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) said,

Do not then believe me because I tell these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures. (The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril 4.17).”

Athanasius (295-375), the man who was prolifically known to defend the Trinity against heretics declared,

In the Holy Scriptures alone is the instruction of religion announced—to which let no man add, from which let no man detract—which are sufficient in themselves for the enunciation of the truth.”

Chrysostom (344-407) said,

When there is a question of Divine things, would it not be a folly rashly and blindly to receive the opinions of others, when we have a rule by which we can examine everything? I mean the Divine law. It is for this reason that I conjure you all, without resting in the slightest degree on the judgment of others, to consult the Scriptures.”

Augustine (354-430), who John Calvin modeled after when it came to the Doctrines of Grace, said this concerning the Scriptures,

What more shall I teach you than what we read in the apostle? ‘For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare be wiser than we ought.'”

And Theodoret of Cyrus (393–457) said,

Bring me not human reasoning’s and syllogisms, for I rely on the divine Scripture alone.”

Proof that Scripture has Divine Authority

We have heard much about the definition and description of Scripture alone from the early Church Fathers, but lets take a deeper look into how the early Church Fathers argued specifically for the divine authority of sola Scriptura.  We will take a look mainly into the origin of Scripture (the Words of God), and the nature of Scripture (infallible) from Clement of Rome.  Then we will take a look at the origin of Scripture and the nature of Scripture from Irenaeus.  The last person we will refer to is Tertullian’s (ca. 160-225) address concerning the nature of Scripture.  There are many other early Church Father’s I can refer to, but I will narrow it to a few so it won’t be too superflous.

Concerning the origin of Scripture as being the very Words of God, Clement of Rome said,

Let us act accordingly to that which is written (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 13).[5]

Clement said that we must look carefully into the Scriptures because they are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit (ibid., 45).[6] He also said that the Word of God is also infallible because they are the very Words of God.  In his First Apology Clement pointed out,

But when you hear the utterances of the prophets spoken as it were personally, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired men themselves but by the divine Word who moves them.”[7]

He continues by saying,

We must not suppose that the language proceeds from the men who are inspired, but from the divine Word, which moves them.  Their work is to announce that which the Holy Spirit, descending upon them, purposes, through them, to teach those who wish to learn the true religion.”[8]

And he has this to say about the passing down of divine revelation to the prophets,

To him [Moses] did God communicate that divine and prophetic gift…and then after him the rest of the prophets…These we assert to have been our teachers, who use nothing from their own human conception, but from the gift vouchsafed to them by God alone (Justin’s Hortatory Oration to the Greeks 8).”[9]

According to Irenaeus, a second century Church Father, he too said the Scriptures are the Words of God.  To him the Scriptures are perfect since it was spoken by God and His Spirit (Against Heresies 2.28.2).[10]  When it came to the nature of Scripture, Irenaues pointed out that Scripture is the foundation of faith because Scripture is the ground and pillar of our faith.[11]  And it when it came to the infallibility of Scripture, here is what he declared,

Let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel…The writings of those apostles,…being the disciples of truth, are above all falsehood.”[12]

And here is what he has to say about those who tried to twist Scripture,

Heretics adduce an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings which they themselves have forged, to bewilder minds of foolish men, and of such as are ignorant of the Scriptures of truth.”[13]

Now for our last Church Father, Tertullian.  Here is what he has to say about the authoritative nature of Scripture:

In granting indulgence, he [Paul] alleges the advice of a prudent man; in enjoining continence, he affirms the advice of the Holy Spirit.  Follow the admonition which has divinity for its patron.  It is true that believers likewise no “have the Spirit of God;” but not all believers are apostles.  When, then, he who had called himself a “believer,” added thereafter that he “had the Spirit of God,” which no one would doubt even in the case of an (ordinary) believer; his reason for saying so was, that he might re-assert for himself apostolic dignity…Apostles have the Holy Spirit properly, who have Him fully, in the operations of prophecy…Thus he attached the Holy Spirit’s authority to that form [of advice] to which he willed us rather to attend; and forthwith it became not an advice of the Holy Spirit, but, in consideration of His majesty, at precept.[14]

With that said, I think it is appropriate to leave you off with with a quote from Martin Luther concerning Scripture alone.  May we mediate upon this sobering quote.

Before I do that, let me first give you the context behind this quote.  It was after nailing the 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, that Martin Luther was later held on trail in the Diet of Worms in 1521.  It was there where Martin Luther boldly proclaimed before the secular dignitaries and powerful Roman Catholic clergy with this statement,

Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments, I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the Word of God: I can not and will not recant anything, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against the conscience.”[15]

Martin Luther was clearly a man that championed sola Scripture.  Scripture was his absolute source of authority, not tradition.  Tradition was subordinate to sola Scriptura.  Sola Scriptura in a sense is the Father and tradition is the son.  But if tradition went bad, tradition would be an apostate  child.  Martin Luther clearly understood that all matters of life and practice of the Christian faith was seen through the lens of Scripture.

Luther continued and ended his bold statement by saying:

Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me! Amen.”[16]

We have seen much concerning the authority of Scripture pronounced from the early Church Fathers, but we will take a look at the message from “Scripture itself” concerning sola Scriptura in the next installment.


[1] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1254.

[2] Busenitz, Nathan. “The Faith of Our Fathers.” Lecture, The Master’s Seminiary, Sun Valley, CA, September 24, 2009..

[3] Nathan Busenitz, Class Lecture 7, Faith of Our Fathers.

[4] Nathan Busenitz, Class Lecture 7, Faith of Our Fathers.

[5] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide For Yourself (San Francisco, CA: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), 23-24.

[6]Ibid, 23-24.

[7] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide For Yourself , 23-24.

[8] Ibid, 23-24.

[9] Ibid, 23-24.

[10] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide For Yourself , 26.

[11] Ibid, 26.

[12]Ibid, 26.

[13] Ibid, 26.

[14] Ibid, 26-27.

15] Charles R. Biggs, “The Story of Martin Luther: The Reformation and the Life of Martin Luther Until the Diet of Worms (1521),” Monergism,http://www.monergism.com/Reformation.Church.History.Martin.Luther.pdf(accessed March 17, 2012), 130.

[16] Ibid, 130.

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Please see the link regarding John Piper’s transition from pastoral ministry.

John Piper

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Sola Ecclesia

Roman Catholic Definition of Magisterium

The Latin word magister for the English word magisterium means, “master.”[1]  The meaning master is not only in the sense of “teacher” but it also means in the broader sense, someone who possesses authority or mastery in a particular field.  In the contemporary Roman Catholic usage, this term basically means that the teaching is reserved exclusively for the office of the pope and bishops. [2]  It is important that we consider the topic of the magisterium, because without it, we would not be debating the subject of tradition versus Scripture in the first place.  In regards to the magisterium, the Catholic Church considers themselves the master or the entity that possesses the authority—whether it be the written Word of God or in the form of tradition.  This concept of the Roman Catholic Church being the master dates back to the fourth session of the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D.  For example, in the first decree in the Council of Trent, it states that the Old and New Testament were not the only inspired source, but the traditions concerning faith and morals are also inspired because the Roman Catholic Church believes it came from the mouth of God; and it believes that it is preserved by the Holy Spirit in continuous succession in the Catholic Church.[3]

When defining their source of authority, the Roman Catholic Church continues by saying,

The totality of the Bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered (has to be unanimously agreed by the bishops) over the earth, propose a teaching of faith or morals as one to be held by all the faithful.”

[4]  Moreover the pope, who is part of the magisterium and who is the icon of the magisterium is believed to be infallible when he defines doctrines concerning faith and morals.[5] To question the pope in matters of infallibility is to second-guess him.[6]  The so-called divine promise given to him through the succession of Apostle Peter, concerning the pope’s definition of doctrine concerning faith and morals cannot be revised or altered. [7]  For example, papal infallibility in the area of making saints is final and irrevocable.[8]  The pope who is the iconic leader of the magisterium can speak ex cathedra, which means, that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the Pope speaks without error.[9]

Church’s Proof that Magisterium Has Divine Authority

For the Roman Catholic Church, this is more than apostolic succession, but it is the gift of inspiration itself.[10]  Here is what the Roman Catholic Church says concerning the very gift of inspiration itself being passed down to them,

But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.'”

[11] Dei Verbum 8 says,

This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything…”[12]

Because apostolic succession is key to this belief of authority, let’s take a look at how the Roman Catholic Church validates this claim.  For example, they try validating their claim by using the apostles as an example to validate apostolic succession.  They claim that all of the activities such as delegating authority (2 Corinthians 3:5-6; 5:18-6:1; Ephesians 6:28) in matters such as the proper interpretation of the Gospel (2 Peter 2:20-21), the norm of sound teaching (2 Timothy 1:13) that is to be found with the apostles, the eye witnesses of Christ and His resurrection (Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8-9; Jn 20:31; 1 John 1:3; 4:16), delegated authority to others within the church of God.[13]  The leaders appointed by the apostles within the church, that received delegated authority from the apostle, (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22; cf. Titus 1:6-9) would assume the tasks such as teaching and government duties in the church of God.[14]  This thinking results in the logic that the Catholic Church too received delegated authority that was passed down to the bishops of the church. The biggest proof they have in order to validate the infallibility of the magisterium is Apostle Peter.  They believe that their apostolic succession came from the line of Apostle Peter.[15]  Because Christ promised that Hades will not prevail against the church that is founded on the faith of Peter (Matthew 16:18); and that God will remain with the successors of the apostles to the end of time (Matthew 28:20), then the magisterium can be reliable and will never lead the church into doctrinal error.[16]

Since the bishops of the Catholic Church received authority because of apostolic succession, then the bishops have authority to teach salvation in the name of Christ; and also the bishop through the Catholic Church, reveals what God wants us to know whether it be via the inspired written Word of God or in the form of tradition.[17]

Tradition

Roman Catholic Church believes that tradition is everything that contributes to the holiness of life and the increase of faith of the people of God.[18]  Tradition is key to Catholics because the Bible would not be understood rightly if we limit it to sola Scriptura.[19]  They will go on to say that the church’s history and experience cannot be excluded if the Bible is to be rightly understood.  According to Vatican II Council, the Catholic Church believes in the unity and consistency of Scripture because tradition and Scripture are closely connected.[20]  Scripture and tradition is illustrated as two streams flowing from the same divine well-spring; and they actually merge together.[21]  They say the apostles handed down the traditions to them.

Another significant aspect concerning the church’s perspective is that tradition does not stay static or fixed.[22]  Instead, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, tradition keeps progressing until it reaches the fullness of divine truth when the Lord returns.[23]

Another category that is important when it comes to the Vatican view of tradition is the context of locations or loci of tradition.  There are four loci of tradition: rite of baptisms accompanied with prayers, repetition of the Eucharist, the writings of the church fathers, and the life of the church.

The loci of tradition in the area of liturgy for example such as baptism, imparts a sense of the universal need for redemption and the removal of sin by grace; and the Eucharist, together with the elevation of the consecrated elements impresses a realization of the real presence of God.[24]  Church Fathers are also important sources of tradition, because they are believed to be the one’s who established the canon of Scripture, articles of the creed, the basic dogmas of the faith, the basic structures of the church, and also the essential forms of the liturgy.[25]  The last location of tradition, which is the life of the church, is key, because the Roman Catholic Church believes that the Holy Spirit gives inspiration to the church in producing faithful members a sense of what is agreeable and disagreeable when it comes to revelation.  Vatican II says this about the faithful members of the church,

The sense of the faithful is not a totally autonomous source of doctrine, since it depends in part on the other bearers of tradition and overlaps with them, but it can often help to identify the true content and meaning of tradition, especially when it confirms what is also attested by other sources.”[26]

The Roman Catholic Church contests that traditions are important.  For example, they believe that Paul spoke about tradition when he wrote to the Corinthian Church.  In his letter, Paul says,

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2).”[27]

Karl Keating a Catholic apologist has this to say about this verse,

There is no contradiction here.  On the one hand, Paul condemned erroneous human traditions; on the other, he upheld truths handed down orally and entrusted to the Church.  It is these truths Catholics know by the term tradition.”[28]

It is clear that the Roman Catholic Church sees that tradition, the magisterium, and Scripture cannot be without the other.  They have a problem with the idea of sola Scriptura.  There are three reasons why the Catholic Church rejects the doctrine of sola Scriptura: the Bible does not argue for the doctrine of sola Scriptura, the Bible teaches the authority of tradition, and the Bible cannot correctly be interpreted without tradition.[29]

Please stay tune for the next post, as I will be giving arguments in favor for sola Scriptura.

 

 


[1] Michael Glazier and Hellwig Monika, The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994), 536.

[2] Ibid, 536.

[3] James J. Megivern, Bible Interpretation (Wilmington, N.C.: Consortium Books, 1978), 179.

[4] Ludwig Ott, “A Summary of the Dogmas and Teachings of the Catholic Church,” Catholic Apologetics, http://www.catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/councils/summary.htm (accessed December 1, 2011).

[5] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1991), 357.

[6] Garry Wills, Why I Am a Catholic (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2002), 254.

[7] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 426.

[8] Garry Wills, Why I Am a Catholic, 254.

[9] Michael Glazier and Hellwig Monika, The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, 426.

[10] Robert Michael Zinns, “Why the Bible Alone?” A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism, http://www.cwrc-rz.org/whybiblealone.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

[11] Pope Paul VI, “Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum,” Vatican, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

[12] Ibid.

[13] Michael Glazier and Hellwig Monika, The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, 65.

[14] Michael Glazier and Hellwig Monika, The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, 65.

[15] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 104.

[16] Ibid, 104.

[17] Michael Glazier and Hellwig Monika, The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, 536.

[18] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 102.

[19] Ibid, 102.

[20] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 102.

[21] Ibid, 102.

[22] Ibid, 102.

[23] Ibid, 102.

[24] Ibid, 102.

[25] Ibid, 102.

[26] Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 103.

[27] Karl Keating, The Usual Suspects: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1994), 129.

[28] Ibid, 129.

[29] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, 50-51.

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Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Lit!, Tony Reinke. Reading about reading can seem somewhat pardoxical (especially since you are reading it), but I don’t think it’s at the point where it’s irrational. In the same way that a person reads a logic textbook even though we do “know” the laws of logic intuitively, so a Christian reading a book on reading might help them to become more conscious and aware what it is one is doing when they, and further refine one’s reason for reading. In that vein, I’ve enjoyed reading Tony Reinke’s work titled “Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books.” I was wondering if it would nothing more than a repeat of the classic, “How to read a book.” Reinke’s unique contribution is his attempt to lay the foundation for a theology of reading, which is the subject of the first half of the book. I enjoyed how he pointed out that as Christians, we must get our worldview from the Bible, and that it should not be from other source of literature. Using the analogy of a “touchstone” which tests for real gold, Reinke wonderfully explain that every literature must be evaluated through the lens of what Scripture tells us reality is. Only then can one find the joy of even benefiting from non-Christian literature if one is already strong in one’s foundation in the Word and reading with a discerning spirit. The second book has been equally as helpful, with practical consideration and tips about how to read, developing a habit of reading, etc. I thought the practical suggestions were suprisingly good, especially since at first I was kind of skeptical if the author would just present things so common sense that everyone could have said it themselves, but it surpassed my expectations. Here in the second half of the book, the author also discusses about reading together as a community, and for the benefit of others and with others, and the importance of asking others for recommendation. As a pastor and a father of a young five month old daughter, I also appreciated the chapter on what pastors and parents can do to foster the desire to read among kids and other Christians. The biggest change in my life from reading this book is a reconsideration on my part concerning reading fictions; I’ve always though fiction were of little significance, but it has made me want to revisit the issue again. I would recommend this book for veteran readers and those who struggle to read as well.

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Back in July 2011, I wrote a post here on Veritas Domain on a “prophecy” that Asian preacher and prophet Jaeson Ma wrote back in 2006 ,that has been receiving a lot of attention and comments.  Most of the comments on that page has been offering up defenses for Jaeson Ma, and some of these objections are frequently brought up again and again.  The most recent one was by a brother in Christ name Kells, and I thought his concern was typical of the comments I have been getting and for the purpose of this post I  reproduce it in full here:

Doesn’t the Bible (in the NEW testament) also say you will know a false prophet by his fruit (Matthew 7:15-23)? I think Jaeson Ma genuinely believed he received a dire message from God. Perhaps he simply misinterpreted- it happens. If this is a singular, isolated occurrence, I don’t think it’s fair to put that label on him. One mistake versus years of work in the ministry, leading countless people to peace, fulfillment, and happiness in the salvation of Jesus Christ? Do you really think in GOD’S eyes he is a false prophet for this? A false prophet is a liar and a deceiver. Would you agree he is these things too? You are certainly allowed your opinion and I don’t know the guy but to jump to such a conclusion sets an unhealthy precedent for less mature believers and sets the unattainable standard that Christians must always be right about everything or they are “false prophets.” Furthermore, isn’t the whole point of this type of “prophecy” to get the people in that community to repent of their sins so that the proclaimed judgment could be avoided? Jonah proclaimed judgment on Nineveh. A judgment that never came to pass (because the people REPENTED). By your standard, that makes him a false prophet. Nobody can make anything happen, all we can do is try to be obedient to God to the best of our ability. You almost sound angry that it DIDN’T happen. For whatever reason, Jaeson was wrong (unless it’s yet to happen) and I for one am glad he was!

Now what follows is not a personal attack Kells, but rather I wish to address the issues that he has brought up and my concern for them that they are unbiblical in nature or even self-refuting, etc.  I thought I make this post as an easy way to offer a link for the frequently brought up objections defending Ma, so that I don’t have to keep on writing them again and again, using Kells’ comment in particular.

I hope that people will read this with consideration of the Word of God and not just subjective feelings masked under the guise, “The Spirit tells me otherwise…”  I think the general attitude of some who goes by their feelings and confusing that with the Word of the Lord is what has gotten Jaeson Ma in trouble in the first place!  As Christians, we are to tests things with the Bible as the Word of God and go by the what the Scriptures say rather than a preacher or someone who claims to be a prophet.  To be honest I am somewhat sadden the extent people will go in defending the reputation of a man rather than the reputation of God who have been suggested by Ma as saying something when He did not.

I do hope that supporters of Jaeson Ma read what I have to say in a better light rather than question my motive and say that I am mean spirited, that I wish for Ma to fail or something like that.

Objection #1: Jaeson Ma is not a  false prophet in light of Matthew 7:15-23.

Stated:Doesn’t the Bible (in the NEW testament) also say you will know a false prophet by his fruit (Matthew 7:15-23)? “

Response: The Bible in Matthew 7:15-23 does talk about a false prophet being known by their fruit.  For context, I think it’s appropriate to quote Matthew 7:15-23 in it’s entirety:

    15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will [a]know them by their fruits. [b]Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will [c]know them by their fruits.

   21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [d]miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Note that this passage also makes it clear that false prophets might not be as obvious as some people think, for some are even pretending to be a believer of God (“sheep”) when really they are not, per Matthew 7:15.

Readers must also realize that Matthew 7 is not the only place God’s Word talks about false prophet; we must consider other passages as well.  How do we distinguish between false and true prophets?  What are the “fruits” that one can identify so as to know whether or not someone is a false prophet?  I think Deuteronomy 18:21-22 addresses the epistemological concern more directly with the first question of how we will know a prophet has spoken the Word of the LORD:

You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’  When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the things does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken.  The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

Thus, one of the fruits of a false prophet is this: If a prophet makes a prophecy that did not come about, Deuteronomy 18:21-22 makes it clear that such a person is not speaking on behalf of the Lord.

Objection #2: Jaeson Ma “only just” misinterpreted his prophecy from God.

Stated:I think Jaeson Ma genuinely believed he received a dire message from God. Perhaps he simply misinterpreted- it happens.”

Response: First off, concerning the first sentence, just because someone thinks they received a message from God does not mean it’s really a message from God.  Secondly, even if we were to grant that Jaeson Ma genuinely believed he received a prophecy from the Lord, he could also be genuinely mistaken since unfortunately sincerity is not the standard for truth.  Thirdly, a biblical perspective concerning God’s true prophets (as opposed to someone who claims to speak on behalf of God but isn’t) is that a true prophet will not misinterpret his own prophecy; to say that misinterpretation of true prophecy from God by true prophets of God is to bend the meaning of “true” in true prophets, and what is “false” about false prophets.  In addition, to say that a true prophet of God can misinterpret the true prophecy God has given Him is impossible, and is slanderous against the Holy Spirit, since a true prophet will have a true and accurate interpretation of the prophetic materials he has recieved since the Holy Spirit will ensure this to be the case as 2 Peter 1:20-21 demonstrates:

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Note what has been stated above.  I wonder if Christians would accept this kind of argument, that a false prediction “is not really false but just mistaken” if someone like Harold Camping (who predicted May 21st 2011 was the end of the world) would have said it, etc.  The practice of saying a prophet of God can make a mistake in interpreting it’s meaning does not have any biblical support.

Objection #3: Jaeson Ma only made one false prophecy, therefore it’s not fair to call him a false prophet.

Stated:If this is a singular, isolated occurrence, I don’t think it’s fair to put that label on him.”

Response: Even if Jaeson Ma made one false prophecy, I think it does qualify him as a false prophet, just as someone is a murderer even if that person only murder one, or a rapist if he raped one person, etc.  If one were to say that making one false prophecy is not in the same heinous bad category as rape and murder where one is warranted being labeled as a doer of those things even if it happened once, I think that individual needs to revisit the Word of God and see how seriously the LORD takes the sin of falsely presuming the LORD has spoken when HE has not, for such an offense at one point in redemptive history even carry the weight of capital punishment.  I think the greater issue should not be that I “put a label” on Jaeson Ma as a false prophet, but whether or not Jaeson Ma’s prophecy really is from the Lord, and if it’s not then…the one issuing those words is not a true prophet of God, but a false one.

Moreover, I think if one were to do a search here on this blog on Veritas Domain, one would realize that it’s not true that Jaeson Ma and his friends have just made one prophecy…he and those whom he associate with seem to have a habit of being interested in “prophecies” that does not come from Scripture, “prophecies” that are either downright false or highly questionable as coming from the LORD.

Objection #4: Jaeson Ma is not a  false prophet in light of Matthew 7:15-23 PART II.

Stated:Doesn’t the Bible (in the NEW testament) also say you will know a false prophet by his fruit (Matthew 7:15-23)? …One mistake versus years of work in the ministry, leading countless people to peace, fulfillment, and happiness in the salvation of Jesus Christ? Do you really think in GOD’S eyes he is a false prophet for this?  A false prophet is a liar and a deceiver. Would you agree he is these things too?”

Response: Again, let’s look at Matthew 7:15-23 in it’s entirety:

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will [a]know them by their fruits. [b]Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will [c]know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [d]miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Kells here admits that Jaeson Ma has made a “mistake,” but I think that when the LORD speaks it is clear and there is no doubt about it, which is the precedence taught in Scripture.  One must ask the awkward question then of how would anyone mistaken the Lord speaking something when He did not, especially when it was not from Scripture.  That is quite an arrogant and a lying thing to do, to claim that God is saying something to you when He did not.  So I do not have a problem with calling Jaeson Ma a liar when it comes to his prophecy (of course,  Jaeson Ma can and  has told things that are true outside the realm of prophecy).  Our brother Kells asks the rhetorical question that Jaeson Ma cannot be a false prophet, since  how can one mistake go against Jaeson Ma’s“years of work in the ministry, leading countless people to peace, fulfillment, and happiness in the salvation of Jesus Christ?”  And the scary thing is that Matthew 7 directly tells us that false prophets can do those things that Jaeson Ma does.  Look at verse 22: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [d]miracles?”  And the most frightening passage in all of Scripture follows in verse 23.  The implication from Matthew 7 turns out not to be a defense for Jaeson, but one that should make us truly frightened for any one who claims to do great miraculous things for God and speak presumptuously as a false prophet; Matthew 7 should make us concern of whether or not one who makes false prophecy about the LORD is self-deceiving themselves in regards to whether or not they truly are believers.

Objection #5: Exposing Jaeson Ma sets unhealthy precedence for less mature believers.

Stated:You are certainly allowed your opinion and I don’t know the guy but to jump to such a conclusion sets an unhealthy precedent for less mature believers and sets the unattainable standard that Christians must always be right about everything or they are “false prophets.”

Response: First off, I think there’s a caricature that I believe “Christians must always be right about everything or they are “false prophets.”  Nowhere did I ever suggests that if a Christian errs on something, they are then false prophets!  Rather, a person is a false prophet only if they claim to speak for the Lord something outside of the Bible and it’s not from the Lord, and it does not come to pass.  Also, nowhere did I  claim that Christians per se must be always right about everything.  However, that does not mean people claiming prophecies are then off the hook.  I hope it’s evident from the Scriptures cited earlier that Bible demands that those who make prophetic utterances to be 100 percent accurate, and that’s what I’m concern with in my original post.  I do not think I am jumping to conclusion prematurely about Jaeson Ma’s prediction, for even Kells agree with me that Ma is in error.

Secondly, I also think this objection also suffer from the additional problem that while Christian can and do err, that does not mean it’s wrong to point out error.  That is, it’s not altogether wrong either for Christians to point them out to one another.  Even the Apostle Paul dared to point out the hypocritical behavior that does not match up to the preaching of the Apostle Peter, as readers of Galatians 2:11-21 will recall.  And Peter was an Apostle, how much less will the rest of us claim a status of being immune from criticism!  Lest someone misapply Galatians 2:11-21 to defend that a prophet can err in their prophecies, Galatians 2:11 was about the Apostle Peter’s hypocritical action, not his utterances of the Word of God since it’s more about Peter not living up to what He knows and revelation of the Lord to him such as recorded in Acts 10.

Thirdly, in regards to the issue that what have been written exposing Jaeson might set an unhealthy precedence for less mature believers, I think the greatest threat with the whole discussion about Jaeson Ma is not the practice of Christian discernment and the exposure of error (for the epistles in the New Testament does that all the time), but Jaeson Ma’s false prophecy itself, which would stumble young believers when they see that they are not fulfilled and being seeds of doubt of whether or not God’s Word is true.  The true dangerous precedence that’s unhealthy for less mature believers is to think that dreams in today’s world in our current dispensation are prophecies from God.

Objection #6: Jaeson Ma and Jonah’s Prophecy

Stated:Furthermore, isn’t the whole point of this type of “prophecy” to get the people in that community to repent of their sins so that the proclaimed judgment could be avoided? Jonah proclaimed judgment on Nineveh. A judgment that never came to pass (because the people REPENTED). By your standard, that makes him a false prophet. Nobody can make anything happen, all we can do is try to be obedient to God to the best of our ability.

Response:  It does not seem the parallel with Jaeson Ma and Jonah is really that strong.  I agree that the Bible does show that one of the function of prophecies has been to get a community to repent of their sins and avoid judgment, Jonah being a good example of that.  However, to say that my standard would make Jonah a false prophet is not being totally fair.  I would grant that if a people repent, God may choose not to bring the prophecy of judgment to pass, being part of His plan.  However, this is the exact point where the parallel between Jonah and Jaeson Ma is most needed, fails to materialize: For Jonah, Nineveh repents, even up to the level of her leaders, and as a city collectively; when it comes to Jaeson Ma, could we really say that Los Angeles has repented and turn to the LORD corporately and that is the reason why God held back his prophecy from being fulfilled???
Though I mentioned about the discontinuity of the parallel between Jaeson and Jonah, space does not permit us to look at the messages Jaeson preaches in contrast to that of the Prophets’ delivery found in the Bible.

Objection #7: You are angry that a false prophecy did not happen.

Stated:You almost sound angry that it DIDN’T happen. For whatever reason, Jaeson was wrong (unless it’s yet to happen) and I for one am glad he was!

Response: If this is to imply that I’m angry that the Tsunami did not happen, and that I am some how sick and not compassionate because of it, I think this is not a fair representation of what I believe.  Of course I do not wish to see such a tragedy.  I’m not angry that the Tsunami did not come to pass, for my family would suffer too since they are in the area!  But I think that if I sound angry, it’s more of the passion for the Lord’s reputation.  I think that should be everyone’s primary concern as well.  Of course, I am glad that the Tsunami did not occur!  I suppose I do see it as kind of strange that someone would look at Jaeson Ma’s prophecy not being fulfilled with gladness and perhaps this illustration capture why I think so: Say you notice a doctor in the hospital telling everyone they have cancer when they did not, even though he did not come to know that by medical established means.  In one sense, you are relieved all the patients did not have cancer, but you would also be more upset that the doctor engage in such a speculation apart from the medical method, and you cannot even see how and why he would speculate with his dreams as being medical.  In the same way, I’m shocked at Jaeson Ma not going by the Bible as the Word of God, but his own dreams to say that it’s the Word of God when it was not.  I’m sad that people believed him.

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A Christian needs to pay careful attention when the Roman Catholic Church challenges sola Scriptura.  When they are challenging the Bible alone as the only Word of God, we as Christians need to ask them, “What other sources do you have that are equal in weight of authority to the Bible?”  If they say that there is a source outside the Bible that is equal in weight to the Bible, then we as Christians should let the Roman Catholic present his or her case.  At the same time, we need to ask them, “Are there other words of God outside of Scripture that is inspired by God?”

The topic of Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) as being the only source of authority, is a big deal to the Catholic Church.  When the belief of sola Scriptura is presented to them, there is a question that often arises, “Does the Bible teach sola Scriptura?” That is a good question because that leads into a discussion of the implicit versus explicit method.  According to New Oxford Dictionary, the word implicit means that something is implied but not expressed clearly; and explicit means something is stated clearly. When it comes to sola Scriptura, the Christian should consider the dichotomy surrounding the implicit and explicit method.

When articulating sola Scriptura, one must consider using logic and necessary deduction.  Logic and necessary deduction should be considered because sola Scriptura is not explicitly taught in Scripture.  For example, there is not one Scripture in the Bible that will use the expression, “the Bible alone is the Word of God.”  But just because the Bible does not explicitly use the expression, “the Bible alone is the is the Word of God,” does not mean that sola Scriptura is not a fact in the Bible.  Sola Scriptura is taught, but it is demonstrated implicitly. So the question that arises is this, “Does implicit evidence teach sola Scriptura?”  The answer to that is yes!  Just like how the Trinity is proven implicitly by overwhelming evidence, sola Scriptura is proven implicitly too with overwhelming evidence.

When it comes to sola Scriptura, there are two different viewpoints from the Catholic Church.  For example, the traditional viewpoint believes that the pope and bishops have power over the body of beliefs and practices from Jesus Christ.[1]  People are called to obey the written Word of God and also the unwritten word of God—tradition (with a capital T).[2]  In other words, this viewpoint believes that God passed down the written and unwritten word of God to the Roman Catholic Church.  According to the nontraditional viewpoint, the Roman Catholic Church believes that divine revelation is taught within the pages of Scripture and is also taught within tradition.[3]  This viewpoint believes that tradition is taught implicitly in Scripture.[4]  This means that their teachings such as the immaculate conception of Mary, papal infallibility are taught implicitly.[5]  At the end of the day, whatever viewpoint a Roman Catholic adheres to, it is transparent that the Roman Catholic Church rejects sola Scriptura.  This is evidential because their presupposition is rooted in sola ecclesia.

When discussing sola Scriptura, point out to the Catholic person that the Roman Catholic Church admits that the Bible is one source that God sees as inspired.  Tell them that according to their dogmatic constitution on divine revelation that was solemnly promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965, the DV 24, NCC #135, says, “The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God.”[6]  This is an important quote to help stir them to search the Scriptures.  But since DV 24, NCC #135, believes the Bible is the written Word of God, they will still need to dig through Scripture in order to have an cogent and logical conversation.

When Roman Catholics makes the claim that the Bible is not the only source of authority, the burden of proof falls on their shoulders because they are the ones that will need to show us how their tradition, Scripture, and the magisterium cannot stand without another.  They will need to show us if there are others sources that can give people “certainty,” besides the Bible.  As Christians, we believe the Word of God is the only source of revelation that has absolute certainty.


[1] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 48.

[3] Ibid, 48.

[4] Ibid, 48.

[5] Ibid, 48.

[6] Pope Paul VI, “Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum,” Vatican, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

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Praise God when the Gospel is preached in a dark world.  Whether it be one-on-one or open-air preaching, I am uplifted when the Gospel is proclaimed.  Please check out this video as a brother-in-Christ passionately, ardently, and methodically gives a clarion call to the unbelievers to accept the Gospel at the traffic lights.

Please see this video:

And for those of you who oppose open-air preaching, please consider reading this blog by Pastor Geoffrey Kirkland, an alumni of The Masters’ Seminary.  He provides some very biblical logical points that buttresses the notion of this lost art called open-air preaching.

The (Lost) Art of Street Preaching — Must It Be Resurrected?

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