Christian, Catholic authors need Bible Knowledge

If you are a Christian and/or Catholic writer or blogger, whether you like it or not, your readers are going to be taking you for a knowledgable authority on Christianity and the Bible. And so it is your job to become more knowledgable— at least a little.

In earlier generations Protestant/Evangelical Christians often taught that good Christians were ones that read the Bible every single day. Good Catholics were seen as those who attended daily Mass every day, if possible, and would hear the assigned Bible readings for that day. But today people think they have so much less time for such activity, and in addition many listen to preachers like Joel Osteen who tend to be very ‘lite’ on actual Bible teaching.

Many Christians do read the Bible— but they find much of the Bible difficult. Some end up reading the same few Bible passages over and over, and others read, but without much comprehension. What can take your Bible reading to the next level is reading the Bible using a good Bible commentary.

I learned about Bible commentaries when I was in high school or just starting college. I was a Presbyterian at the time, but planning on becoming Lutheran. At that time, a Bible commentary series, the Tyndale commentary series, was available for sale in Christian bookstores and my college bookstore. Volumes were available for the New Testament and the Protestant books of the Old Testament. I wanted a full set of those commentaries! I know I got Romans, and Revelations. But I lost those volumes over the years.

Now that I’m Catholic, I want commentaries written by Catholics— but I like the format of the Protestant commentaries I read when younger. Luckily, there are commentaries for that: the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. So far I only have the one on the Gospel of Matthew.

These commentaries are nice because after every Bible passage it gives parts of the Catholic catechism that clear up points in the reading, and it also tells related passages from other books of the Bible, and if the Bible passage in question is part of the Church’s Mass readings, it tells the Church feast or occasion that the passage is used for.

There are also sections on ‘Reflection and Application—‘ which help prevent your Bible study from being a mere intellectual exercise. Very helpful. The only bad part of this series is that it is new, and only the New Testament books have been covered. Is an Old Testament series in the works? I don’t know, but I’m hoping one is forthcoming.

Both the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture and the Tyndale Old Testament and New Testament commentaries were written by Bible scholars who teach at seminaries and colleges, or who at least have a comparable level of knowledge. They have deep knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew texts. This is the kind of commentary we need to build our knowledge.

I have a few other commentaries in my collection that don’t measure up to that standard. Some are slim volumes by J. Vernon McGee, an old-time radio Bible preacher. Now, I used to listen to McGee on the radio, but he was not a Bible scholar. And when  you hear what he says about various Bible passages, you can wonder if what he was saying was based on knowledge, or just on a human opinion. For example, McGee believed that the Apostles did the wrong thing when they chose Matthias by lot to replace Judas Iscariot. McGee thought that St. Paul was the man God had chosen to replace Judas, but I don’t know if there is a single Bible passage that would confirm that.

Now, if I were stranded on a desert island with only my Bible and a complete set of McGee commentaries, I would read them, but I would not take McGee’s words as necessarily correct or wise. For that matter, even the best Bible scholars can have unwise or incorrect opinions. But I have more confidence in these two scholarly commentary series, and would prefer to use them since they are available.

Bible knowledge and your writing life: First thing to remember is that you don’t have to use everything you know. Even the most pious of Evangelical publishers does not like to publish books with long church-sermon-scenes and Bible-study-scenes. Such scenes slow down the action and make the work more dull for readers. You want to be planting seeds of faith, not dumping Bible and faith knowledge by the truckload.

  • My reading plan: I am currently reading the Gospel of Matthew with the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series. After I finish, I’m planning to do an Old Testament book, probably Psalms, using the Tyndale series. (I have a lot of OT commentaries from that series since I found a bunch for sale on Ebay.) After I do that, I’m hoping to afford the Epistle to the Hebrews in the Catholic series.
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Was Mohammed a false prophet?

Some people on the outside of Christianity think that ‘faith’ is about ‘blind faith.’ Some also believe that there is no such thing as a theistic religion that is true, and that only the non-theistic religions like atheism, agnosticism and secularism could be true, and that is why the non-theists have blind faith in their non-theistic religion.
But in the real world, different religions make different truth claims, and contradictory claims cannot both be true. Aztecs believed that large numbers of human sacrifices pleased the gods. People in the Judeo-Christian faiths believe that God expressly rejects human sacrifice. Christianity rises or falls on whether Jesus Christ was, in fact, the Son of God (in a unique way) and whether He rose from the dead and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And Islam is based on the belief that Mohammed was a prophet in the Hebrew tradition, like Moses or Jesus.
A prophet in Judaism & Christianity is someone who has been given a message from God. The test of a prophet is whether he claims words as a prophecy which are not true. God does not give false information to prophets. So, then, what about Mohammed?
First I must say this: by asking questions about Mohammed I am not being mean to Muslims. Muslims are human beings that God loves. If their religion is false, shouldn’t someone tell them? I’ve had people claim my religion is false just because those people have blind faith that atheism is true and that ‘ha, ha, there is no God’ is a logical argument. And if Islam happens to be true, it will stand up to any questioning.
Mohammed claimed that all the words of the Koran were given to him by the angel Jibril (Gabriel.) Since God and His angels know the truth, the words of the Koran would not contain false information or mistakes— if Mohammed were, in fact, a prophet.
The worst sin of all, according to Islam, is shirk, or ascribing a partner to God. According to one modern-day Muslim writer, shirk is worse than murder, rape, child molesting and genocide. And although the Koran does say that Jews and Christians are not infidels like the pagans are, both religions, according to the Koran, are guilty of shirk.
Let’s take the Jews first. In Koran 9:30, it says ‘The Jews said ‘Ezra is the son of God.’ That is utterly false. That is not what Judaism teaches! If Mohammed were getting messages from the angel Gabriel, he would not say this false thing.
What about Christianity? Koran 5:116 says: “When God says ‘Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to people, “Take me and my mother as two gods alongside God?” this shows clearly that Mohammed misunderstood the Christian concept of the trinity. It never included Mary! There are New Testament passages that clearly speak of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, though the term ‘trinity’ was not used in the Bible.
Now, it does not disprove Mohammed as a true prophet that his message rejected the doctrine of the trinity. What disproves Mohammed as a prophet is that he was mistaken about what the Christians believed, and he incorporated this mistake into words he claimed came from God through the angel Gabriel. God would know what the Christians of Mohammed’s day were teaching!
There are many other places in the Koran which clearly show that the Koran was based on Mohammed’s personal and highly limited knowledge of what Jews and Christians believe. It claims that Abraham offered to sacrifice his illegitimate son Ishmael, and not his ‘child of promise’ son Isaac. It presumes that Mary the mother of Jesus and Miriam the sister of Moses were the same woman.
Of course, if a Muslim were to come across this evidence that Mohammed was a false prophet, he probably couldn’t do anything about it. In many Muslim countries, there are apostasy laws. These state that if anyone is a Muslim, he must not leave Islam, and can be executed or imprisoned if he tries. On the other hand, these laws welcome Christians and Jews and others to become Muslims— so long as they never try to leave Islam.
Even in Western nations, there is a perspective that Muslims who leave their faith must die. Americans Ergun and Emir Caner, two brothers who became Evangelical Christians, were estranged from their Muslim father by their conversion, and disowned. So Muslims who question the truth of their faith are in an impossible position, and we must pray that God will help them.
Are you a Muslim who questions? Ask God to guide you to the truth. Read the book below by the Caner brothers, both former Muslims, if you can obtain it. Do internet searches on former Muslims and web sites that tell the story of former Muslims— they will tell you the things that those other Muslims questioned. Don’t endanger yourself or your job by sharing your doubts with Muslims who may not sympathize. If you have questions about Christianity specifically, read a good information source like Dave Armstrong’s blog. Feel free to ask any questions you have here in a comment— if I don’t know the answer, I will try to find out. And at least I will pray for you.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I am not an expert in Islam or a scholar. Any information in this article came from books I read about Islam. In addition, I have looked up Koran verses in my own copy of the Koran. I find the books listed below useful for those searching out information about the possibility that Mohammed was not a true prophet.

 

Bible Verses against #MarriageEquality

Don’t you just hate propaganda terms like ‘marriage equality’ and ‘the Jewish problem?’ It’s just a way to hide what you are really talking about— eliminating marriage or eliminating Jews, in those cases.
The campaign to replace marriage with ‘marriage equality’ doesn’t like to mention the fact that it will require essentially closing down all Bible-believing churches (and synagogues) lest they read ‘hate speech’ off the pages of the Bible. I honestly believe that many of the Left-wing politicians preaching ‘marriage equality’ don’t give a fig for gay people. They just want to shut down their rival for power— the Church.
A new generation is growing up that hasn’t learned the teachings of the Church or of the Bible. They preach odd stuff like the idea that if Jesus didn’t personally say ‘No Gay marriage’ then the fact that the Bible speaks out against homosexual behaviors and lusts does not count. Here is what Jesus has to say about that bad theology: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17 KJV
Here are some verses to consider when making up your mind whether to conform to progressive ideology on #MarriageEquality:
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” Romans 1: 26-28 KJV
If we conform to the world and accept same-sex marriage, rejecting God’s word, will we be given over to a ‘reprobate mind?’
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7 KJV
The world calls sins of the flesh ‘sexual liberation,’ but God takes such sins seriously.
 
“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” 1 Timothy 1:9-10 KJV
Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, but we are not called to live in our sins. Murders, unchastity, homosexuality and lying are not a part of a Christian life.
 
“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” 1 Cor. 7:2 KJV
Fornication is a sexual sin which includes any sexual act outside of a valid man-woman marriage. Homosexual relations and heterosexual adultery are both forbidden.
 
Know yet not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 KJV
Effeminate (Strong’s #3120, Greek) means effeminate, soft, a catamite. A man who dressed as a woman to lure men into homosexual behavior. Roman culture distinguished between the effeminate man who took the woman’s role in sex, and the ‘manly’ man who took the masculine role in homosexual sex, and who was not considered a homosexual person. The Bible condemns both types of homosexual behaviour along with fornication drunkenness, theft and other sins. And it says ‘such were some of you!’ So it means people with gay/homosexual attractions, even with a long history of gay sex, can be saved if they repent, just like the drunks and the thieves can be saved if they repent.
 
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind, it is abomination.” Leviticus 18:22
It does not say that it is wrong to ‘be’ homosexual or to be tempted by homosexual relationships. It’s all about what you do. God understands that some of us are tempted by same-sex relationships.
 
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Leviticus 20:13
This seems harsh, but God in Leviticus was teaching the people the way to be holy. God teaches us right from wrong, but when Man sins, God comes to earth as Jesus Christ to die on the Cross so we don’t have to suffer eternal death for our sins. Praise the Lord!
 
NOTE: if you feel you are ‘Gay’ or are troubled by attractions to persons of the same-sex, you are not condemned by God for those feelings! Look at 1 Corinthians 11— And such were some of you. You can overcome Gay feelings and be forgiven for Gay-related sins. The Church has a ministry, Courage International, to help people with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) deal with this issue. I have Same-Sex Attraction myself (I don’t use the terms Gay or Lesbian any more since Courage Int. discourages it) and the people I met through the Courage FB group have helped me have hope. Jesus never gave up on me when I was a Lesbian looking for love, when I gave up on Christianity and became a neopagan for years. He still brought me back to reality and to the Catholic Church (I was raised Protestant.) God is Good!
SECOND NOTE: If you tweet these Bible verses you might get banned from Twitter. I’m tweeting them anyway, but I’m on Gab and MeWe as well so I can’t get wholly shut down. I hope.

 

Cyndi Carter: Faith is a Gift (guest post)

Today’s post is a guest post by Cyndi Carter, author of the fantasy novel ‘The Road Home‘, which I am currently reading.

Everybody loves getting gifts. Shiny, neat packages, wrapped with ribbon and topped with a bow. Sometimes people get stealthy, take a gift marked for them, and start shaking it to see if they can guess what’s inside. And it’s not just children – adults do it too. There’s surprise, excitement, and pleasure, both for the recipient of the gift as well as the giver of the gift.

When I was a child, I spent most of December waiting on pins and needles for Christmas to arrive. What was in the burgeoning numbers of boxes piled embarrassingly high under our Christmas tree? On Christmas Eve, my brother and I tore into our pile of gifts at breakneck speed. And on Christmas morning, there were still gifts from Santa to open.

Have you ever seen someone who didn’t like getting gifts? I have. I watched a kindergarten class exchanging small gifts just before Christmas. The gifts were piled in the middle of the circle of children sitting on the floor, and they were to take a present from the pile when the teacher called their name. But there was one child who, when his name was called, just sat there, staring straight ahead. Even though the teacher encouraged him to go get a present, he remained immobile, staring fixedly in front of him, the entire time.

In Ephesians 2:8, Paul says that we are saved by grace through faith. He goes on to say that we don’t even have the ability to have faith – it’s a gift from God. It’s not having faith in faith, but faith in Jesus. In Romans 3:22, he says that our righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ. From start to finish, it’s a gift from Him. And after we place our faith in Jesus for salvation, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Master of our lives, we live each day by that grace and faith. We can’t do anything under our own power. Things we do part from faith in Him leave a taste as satisfying as cardboard.

I believe God offers the gift of grace and faith to each and every person. However, not everyone opens that gift, or receives it. Just like that kindergartener, we can refuse to open the gift. Sometimes it’s because we don’t even want it or believe it exists. Maybe we don’t believe the gift is ours (“You must have gotten me mixed up with someone else who deserves this gift”). The result is the same. The gift is actually ours, but we leave it sitting there, all wrapped up its paper and bows, unopened.

My friend, open that gift of grace and faith. Tear into it the way my brother and I did at Christmas. Shred the bows, rip the paper off. Because the gift is yours, if you’ll only open the box.


Hi! It’s Nissa, back again. Thanks to Cyndi for her guest post, and also thanks to the new people who signed up for my newsletter, which is coming out tomorrow. It includes a kitten picture, a book recommendation, and a little blogging secret I’ve learned. If you want to sign up, either use the dreadfully annoying pop-up or go to: http://eepurl.com/FN2hr before tomorrow morning.

Jon del Arroz: Faith in Writing

The following is a guest post from Jon del Arroz, the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction.

For a long time, I was hesitant to mention my faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the context of my science fiction writing. Within the halls of sci-fi conventions and within the major author community, there’s a scorn that’s held for “those backward anti-science” types, which is how they think of us. For years, I would be silent while I’d attend panels at conventions where they praised paganism, actually ran panels like “combating Creationism,” and created a hostile environment for Christians. It intimidated me, and actually succeeded in keeping me from talking about my faith as an author.

I feared that people would see my faith, and it would turn them off from reading my books, which I simply wanted to be fun science fiction for everyone—and I still strive for that within my books. But last year I made a determination not to hide who I was for the sake of the few who would get outraged. They did. They are some of the loudest people in science fiction and on the internet, but at the end of the day, their influence is small, and that’s what I found encouraging.

As I feared, my outspokenness has caused me to lose several of the contacts who I was afraid would. My sense on that was correct, but my perspective on it had changed. If these people who spent time with me broke bread with me, and shared my hobbies with me were going to hate me for being me—it’s a fault with them, not with me.

That mindset was freeing. It allowed me to speak what’s on my mind without fear, which is what’s important. Fear only holds us back, it doesn’t do anything for us. Living with fear makes it harder to produce good work and good art, and it’s not what God intended for us. How do I know this? Because fear is the opposite of love, and the scriptures clearly say that God is love. If you operate without fear, you free yourself from shackles, and that’s exactly what God’s grace is intended to do.

We’re also intended to praise Him. When you start to be more open about your relationship with the Lord, it starts to feel better inside, and it also helps you to more consistently think about Him, pray more, and live your life more as He intended. It really is a snowball effect where everything piles in a good way, and it starts with making a commitment to yourself to not be afraid, to trust God and not worry about your speaking being offensive to the non-believer.

It can be tough out there in the entertainment field, but I say this a lot and it also holds true—the more of us there are who are vocal, the less “odd” and “stand out” it tends to be. This is a good thing, because it also creates less fear of the other from the people who are vocally opposing Christianity when they see so many of us. As it stands now, very few are willing to take the slings and arrows, and for good reason, as they can be many, but the more we’re present, the safer it becomes for us to be able to speak our minds, and most importantly, create art that is true to ourselves. When you get to that point where you’ve got no critic who matters to you but God, your creativity can flow better than ever before, because you are made in the Creator’s image.

Jon Del Arroz is the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction, a multi-award nominated science fiction author. His new book, The Stars Entwined, is out now.


Thanks to Jon del Arroz for his post! I’ve enjoyed his books and follow him on Twitter. Go thou and do likewise!

Why German (Protestant) Bibles are bigger than English ones #Bible

Recently I finished reading the book ‘Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger’ by Gary G. Michuta. It tells the story of some Old Testament books not found in many ordinary Protestant Bibles. These books are called the Deuterocanonical books. Protestants today call them Apocrypha, which confuses these books with a whole set of ancient books such as the Gospel of Thomas.

An interesting point is that the Protestant reformers did not remove these books at the time of the Reformation. Martin Luther, who started the Protestant Schism and translated the Scriptures into his native German, translated the whole Bible, including the Deuterocanonical books, which he questioned. He also disliked the New Testament books of James, Hebrews, and Revelation. But he translated them anyway, and when I bought a Martin Luther translation of the Bible in Germany, it had ‘die Apokryphen’ tucked away in a special section between the older Old Testament books and the New Testament.

In England, the famous King James Version translation of the Bible included the Deuterocanonical books. But the KJV Bibles I grew up with lacked these books. Why, if the KJV translators took the trouble to translate them?

It started in 1804, when the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed. They did not have a high opinion of the Deuterocanonical books. Plus, it was cheaper to print Bibles without them. They decided to cut funding to foreign Bible societies that were printing complete Bibles with the Deuterocanonical books left in. There was a controversy for some time over this, since the foreign Bible societies being helped often did not want to provide people with partial Bibles. But in time British opinion hardened against the Deuterocanonical books and no Bibles would be printed in any language that contained the Deuterocanonical books. There were some that feared these books taught ‘popish’ doctrine and might make people Catholics.

Interestingly, this tradition of the English Bible society affected the Esperanto translation of the Bible. The English and Foreign Bible Society did the translation of the New Testament, L. L. Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto and a Jewish man, translated the accepted books of the Jewish Bible— which does not contain the Deuterocanonical books. Since the English and Foreign Bible Society did the printing, Esperanto Bibles containing the Deuterocanon were not available until recently.

Although I am now a Catholic, even when I was Protestant I didn’t believe that the British Bible Society was an authority chosen by God to make the final decision as to which books are in the Bible. I felt that since the early church, including the Apostles, seemed to favor the Septuagint, a Greek language Old Testament translation which included the Deuterocanon, that was a good argument for those books being included in the Bible. Why, if they were bad books, wouldn’t Jesus have had something negative to say about them rather than making reference to them?

If you have any curiosity about how it got determined which books are in the Bible, Michuta’s book is a good place to get started. His ‘Selected Bibliography’ includes works by Protestants as well as Catholics.

I personally prefer the KJV Bible when I read the Bible in English. For some years I used my old KJV Bibles along with a copy of just the KJV ‘apocrypha’ in paperback form. I now have a leather-bound complete KJV Bible for my personal Bible reading.

Should Sunday Schools teach moral law or not?

Jesus. He’s a Friend of mine.

 

I always understood that one of the things we were supposed to be taught in Sunday School was the Moral Law: things like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. How to do the right things God wants us to do, instead of behaving the way that the Devil likes.

But I’ve read that some people worry that doing that will teach the kids Works Righteousness— the idea you can earn your way to heaven by doing good deeds and avoiding evil ones, no Jesus or cross required.

Works Righteousness does not work. Not even if you are Catholic. Not even if you are the Blessed Virgin Mary. I mean, we Catholics pray ‘Hail Mary full of grace’ and not ‘Hail Mary who is full of good works and doesn’t need grace.’

But children need to be taught, and God leaves it up to us. He doesn’t send down angels to teach kids that stealing is wrong even if they really, really want something that belongs to someone else.

Many of us Christians have been raised in the faith and taught well about the Moral Law from such an early age we don’t even remember all of our instruction. We don’t really know how far astray a young human can go if not taught.

I remember reading on the news years ago of some young woman who was auctioning off her virginity online to help pay for her college tuition. She didn’t seem to have any sense that she was doing anything wrong, rather she thought she should be praised for being responsible and seeking out a higher education. My thought was not to blame her, but the people who raised her who should have taught her the Moral Law to a much greater degree than they did.

When I was a young kid in the Presbyterian Church, we had catechism classes where we were to memorize the statements of a catechism, where we learned about the Ten Commandments among other things. My mother had to memorize these things in her church as well.

People discount this as rote memory and therefore not worth doing, but it is something to hang on to. And there is no rule that learning something by rote memory excludes the possibility of the teacher instructing the pupils to understand what they are memorizing and learn to apply it.

These days the Sunday School instruction tends to be far weaker— in my mom’s church instead of having a Sunday School hour for all ages, the children are trotted out after that pastor gives them a children’s sermon. I wonder how much time they have to teach everything to the few children that come to that church.

I think that these days parents have to take responsibility for the religious education of their kids. You can buy an old-time catechism book related to your faith. Or just teach the kids to memorize appropriate Bible verses. Teaching Biblical moral rules doesn’t teach your kids they can be righteous enough on their own. Just trying to keep moral rules teaches us the opposite— that no matter how much we want to do what is right in God’s eyes, we just can’t do it on our own. We need the forgiveness that Jesus Christ bought for us at the cross.