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Author Topic: Dishonest Distortions and Omissions, Recipe for a Ministry of Error  (Read 1841 times)

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Azenilto Brito

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Dishonest Distortions and Omissions, Recipe for a Ministry of Error

       The two last editions of Proclamation! Magazine bring nothing about what would be the logical sequel of the edition in which its promoters discussed the nature of man, advocating the popular thesis of immortality of the soul. But, where are the consequent discussions on the fate of guilty men? Where is the analysis of the final punishment? Is the theme of an eternally burning hell just too embarrassing for Mr. Ratzlaff and his team to deal with, so they prefer to lay the matter untouched, left to the imagination of each one? Belief in immortality of the soul must lead to serious discussions on what happens to the folks of the “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29). But Ratzlaff has nothing to say about it, just complete silence, in spite of having attempted to “prove” with an entire special edition of his magazine the immortality of the soul issue. What a disappointment! But we did discuss this aspect of man’s destiny in our analyses, as can be checked through this link:


       In the September/October edition the magazine discusses, with cover highlights, the Israelite festivals, with an analysis of how Seventh-day Adventists would be divided on the subject. But the exact proportion of Adventists who are really enthused about the subject is never revealed. What proportion of the SDA Church membership, of 16 millions and counting, are trying to introduce the celebrations of Israel--as Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacle, Day of Atonement--within Adventism? In my over 40 years of Adventism I never saw this as a dominant concern in our midst, and if there are small groups here and there, restricted in time and space, this does not indicate absolutely any denominational “trend” or a big sensation in that direction. Again we witness the usual dishonest distortions, some small thing conveniently blown out of proportion.

Is God an Incompetent Legislator?

       In the editorial page, Colleen Tinker tinkers again with Theology matters discussing the “problem” of the impossibility of the Sabbath to be universally observed, due to circumstances of modern life. She decided being really something simply out of touch with the reality of modern days. Of course that is not as much offensive to Sabbath keepers as to God Himself, as a Legislator who didn’t anticipate such terrible problem of having the entire world obeying this command in His moral law. This God of Tinker’s imagination really didn’t think of the terrible consequences of having everyone keeping the Sabbath, for He extended this invitation to ALL FOREIGNERS:

       “Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.’ And let not any eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree.’ For this is what the LORD says: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.’“

       The serious difficulty among many who study the Bible is that they ignore the reason why God chose Israel to be His people, first of all. This ignorance leads to this idea of a Sabbath exclusive to Israel and nobody else, when God intended that Israel were His “witnesses”, the light of the nations to the ends of the Earth (Isa. 43:10, 11; 49:6). So, if Israel had fulfilled its role of announcer of the true God, His law and His plan of salvation, entire nations would turn to the Lord, accept Him and His promise of salvation,  and keep His holy law, which would include the Sabbath, as the invitation and promises to ALL FOREIGNERS make clear.
       We can see Mrs. Tinker’s handicap on that point—this “new alliance” theology she adopted blinded her understanding of this matter (and several others), and her comments just point to this sad condition.

Mr. Palmer’s 360-Degree Journey

       The most regrettable, however, is an article written by a certain pastor, called Dennis Palmer, who was first an Evangelical Protestant, then became a Seventh-day Adventist who attended some of our colleges, “evolved” to a Seventh-day Baptist, becoming even a pastor of that church. But now he says he “discovered” that there are no day to be dedicated especially to the Lord, alleging that his “struggle” with Colossians 2:16 is over as he submits himself to the light of “no Sabbath at all” to be kept, to probably return to his original Evangelical non-Sabbath observant community.
       Now, he quotes Samuele Bacchiocchi’s book From Sabbath to Sunday, but in just a very limited manner. He tries to explore the fact that Bacchiocchi admits that the Sabbaths referred to in the text are the weekly ones, but never shows what is the whole gamut of his reasoning. Besides, he ignores the tremendous historical and biblical research carried out by the same book that proves the true origins of Sunday, and the truth of the seventh-day Sabbath as a perennial principle adopted by the Church. These omissions can only be seen as a very dishonest attitude, not worthy of a real scholar.
       This kind of impregnable-fortress-texts theology, based on two or three selected and isolated verses, is a well-known methodology of error. It is the same rationale of Catholics to defend their Petrine theory, based on Matthew 16:18 and some few other texts. The Mormons also resort to that in their practice of baptism for the dead based on a misunderstood exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15:29. Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, follow the same route with their ban on blood transfusions, based on a few misunderstood texts.

The Impregnable-Fortress-Texts Methodology

       Not long ago I saw in Youtube the testimony of a former Baptist minister, who came to be even a seminary teacher, as he told his story of his finished “battle” over the Transubstantiation theory. He alleged to have found grammatical details in John chap. 6 that for him were undeniable “evidences” that the Catholic interpretation is correct, as he was interviewed in a Roman-Catholic TV station and gave witness of his acceptance of Catholicism as a whole. He said he had “discovered” that there is no way to challenge the “truth” that the bread that Jesus was referring to was His literal body, and he wine was the real blood He shed on the cross.
       In the Assembly of God Church, which is the largest Brazilian evangelical denomination, the problem was with a pastor of a large congregation of Portuguese and Brazilian immigrants in Boston, USA. He not only maintains a very “lively” worship system, with practices that their leaders in Brazil frowned upon (as the “fall under the power”--the “miraculous” touch that causes people to collapse on their backs, supposedly under the power of the Spirit, in the well-known style of Benny Hinn), and came to claim that he had direct communication with angels and other biblical figures as Abraham, Elijah, Moses, etc. He certainly had also his “discoveries”, but his Church headquarters, established in Brazil, ended up discarding his system, which led him to the creation of one more “independent” religious group, forming what is called Renewed Assembly of God Church. . .

Preferring the Styrofoam Cross

       Thus, these “discoveries” and “unsuccessful battles” with Bible texts are not new in the Protestant religious field. The methodology of the texts that taken in isolation become “interpretative impregnable fortresses” is neither new nor surprising when pretexts are found to overcome intimate conflicts, by those who chose an easier or more popular path for their religious lives, or something of greater impact. Jesus bade everyone to pick up his cross and follow Him. However, He didn’t give a definition of what material this cross should be built. Then, some reason—”Well, who knows one made of Styrofoam wouldn’t do?” The number of so-called Christians who carry around Styrofoam crosses is legion. . .
       The belief that in Colossians 2:16 Paul is releasing the Christian’s obligation to observe a Sabbath is a decision that might be very convenient to Mr. Palmer, but brings immense difficulties as well.
       First, if Paul is discarding the obligation of the Sabbath commandment, he leaves nothing in its place, so the very principle of a regular day of rest, beneficial to physical and spiritual health (as a scientific article proves), is “optional”. Based on that, a believer might disregard that practice completely thus negatively affecting his/her health.
       Second, it makes no sense to believe that because of the death of Christ the principle of a day devoted entirely to the Lord became optional, as if He were no longer worthy of it.
       Third, the false attribution of the Sabbath as merely a symbol of spiritual rest in Christ, a  mere type of His death, finds no support in a serious analysis of the Scripture. So much so that this interpretation is not what characterizes the “Protestant tradition”, since the confessional documents of those Mother-churches, from which so many other were derived, establish that the 4th commandment proceeds from Creation, thus being of moral and universal character (even though wrongly reinterpreted to Sunday).
       To quote texts such as Hebrews 4, where it is never says that the Sabbath symbolizes salvation in Christ, thus having been abolished by His death, is pure distortion of Scripture, a serious danger in the light of 2 Ped. 3:15-17. Furthermore, when the apostle had the opportunity to discuss the symbolism of the law of Israel, in the chapters 7 to 10 of Hebrews, he never mentions either the Sabbath or the dietary laws as having fulfilled any ceremonial, typological role. That is unthinkable of, in the face of the great importance that both types of law had in the day-to-day life of the Jews. These are issues already covered in previous discussions.
       And Romans 14 (another “impregnable fortress” of anti-sabbatarians) deserves a questionnaire to be submitted to the promoters of these theories, which we do below but without any slightest hope of objective, specific answers, as our question on the transition from the old to the new covenant never was (see: http://www.adventtalk.com/forums/index.php/topic,195.0.html).
       Whatever is the case, we submit two questionnaires dealing objectively with these texts so much explored by these anti-sabbatical theorists, one on Romans 14, another on Colossians 2:16, as can be seen in the following frame.


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Azenilto Brito

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Serious questions on Romans 14:5, 6 and Colossians 2:16
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2009, 12:07:45 PM »


10 SPECIFIC QUESTIONS REGARDING ROMANS 14:5, 6

1 – Since Jesus said that “the Sabbath was established because of man” (Mar. 2:27), why did Paul feel he had a right to turn it into an optional principle?

2 – Since when did this optional mentality for the observance of the “Lord’s day” begin? From the Resurrection time? From the writing of the epistle to the Romans in AD 56-58?

3 – Why is it that in Galatians 4:9-11 Paul doesn’t allow for any day to be observed, while in Romans 14:5, 6 he leaves it up to each one to have a day or no day to observe? Wouldn’t that seem a clear contradiction on the part of the Apostle?
 
4 – What either Biblical or historical proof is there that among the early Christians there was this criterion of each one observing the day that best served his interest (or that of his employer), some observing Sunday, others Monday, even others Tuesday, besides observers of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, as well as the adherents of the “nodayism”?
 
5 – In what day did they gather for worship and fellowship? Or else, were there services every day, according to the options of days to observe?

6 – And how about the adherents of the “nodayism”? How did they act in the face of the Hebrews 10:25 recommendation, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing”?

7 – When did the Christians depart from the “any day/no day” criterion to adopt Sunday officially and collectively?

8 – If any day was equally good, why does John, in Revelation 1:10, speak of a specific “Lord’s day”? Was it his private “Lord’s day”, according to his decision?

9 – Where is it said that, with the transfer of the Old to the New Covenant, as God writes His laws on the hearts and minds of those who accept His New Covenant [New Testament] (Hebrews 8:6-10), He records the principle of a day of rest setting a different day for each one?

10 – If any day is equally good, why shouldn’t we stick to that which is clearly established in the divine law--the seventh-day Sabbath--instead of remaining under this ambiguity, being God a God of order, not of confusion?



10 QUESTIONS ON COLOSSIANS 2:16

1 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16), with what authority did Paul engage himself in changing the divine law that Jesus said He did not come to abolish, but to fulfill (Mat 5:17-19), and in His entire Sermon on the Mount never indicated that He: a) came to abolish the law, b) came to change the law?

2 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16) what did Paul leave in its place, since that would indicate the end of the principle of a rest day established by God since Eden, and there is no indication of what has been left in its place?

Note: Those who raise such sophistry are good at the task of destroying, but not in that of building something better to replace the “eliminated” thing. It is always easier to destroy than to build.

3 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16), how would John ignore this fact, since he indicates having himself a day dedicated to the Lord (Rev. 1:10)?
 
Note: He certainly is not referring to Sunday, for when he dealt with the episode of the Resurrection he does not employ any special title for the day, calling it simply “the first day of the week”, or mía twn sabbatwn [the first regarding the Sabbath, according to the Greek original, reflecting the Jewish time reckoning] (see John 20:1).

4 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16) why was not that listed as one of the things the Gentile Christians should abstain from in the recommendations of the Jerusalem Council, if that was one of the things agitated by the Judaizers, as some allege (see Acts 15:20, 29)?

Note: It is no use to quote vs. 5 that speaks of “law of Moses”, because that is not limited to the Sabbath precept, but encompasses “ye shall not kill”, “not steal”, “not commit adultery”, etc.

5 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16) why is not that confirmed by Paul as he mentions the WHOLE contents of the cold stone tables as having to be transferred do the hearts warmed by the divine grace of those who accept the terms of the New Covenant (cf. 2 Cor. 3:2, 3, 6 e 7)?

Note: If he wanted to exclude the Sabbath, his language in vs. 3 would be something like: “. . . not on tables of stone but on tables of flesh, that is, on the hearts, with the exclusion of the Sabbath commandment. . . “ To make full sense of his illustration, since he bases his rationale on an allegory used by Ezekiel (36:26, 27), he clearly implies that he covered the entire contents of the “tables of stone” transferred to the “tables of flesh”, which unavoidably includes the Sabbath.

6 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16) why does the author of Hebrews give a very special treatment to the Sabbath in chaps. 3 and 4, instead of dealing with it in chaps. 7 to 10, dedicated to the discussions of the Jewish ceremonies in the epistle?

Note: Far from saying that the Sabbath was abolished for being ceremonial, the author of Hebrews says that “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” (Heb. 4:9-NIV). There were also those in Israel who really entered in the spiritual “rest”, although the nation as a whole failed (as the heroes of Heb. 11) and did not fail to observe the Sabbath (see, for example, Psalm 40:8 – the experience of David that should have been that of the entire nation).

7 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16), why do important theology Christian authorities interpret these passages not indicating that at all, like the Baptists Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, the Methodist Adam Clarke and the Presbyterians Albert Barnes and Charles Hodge?

Note: Here are excerpts from their writings:


       “There is no intimation here that the Sabbath was done away, or that its moral use was superseded, by the introduction of Christianity. I have shown elsewhere that, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, is a command of perpetual obligation, and can never be superseded but by the final termination of time. As it is a type of that rest which remains for the people of God, of an eternity of bliss, it must continue in full force till that eternity arrives; for no type ever ceases till the antitype be come. Besides, it is not clear that the apostle refers at all to the Sabbath in this place, whether Jewish or Christian; his sabbaton, of sabbaths or weeks, most probably refers to their feasts of weeks, of which much has been said in the notes on the Pentateuch. – Adam Clarke’s commentary.
 
       “SABBATHS” (not “the sabbaths”) of the day of atonement and feast of tabernacles have come to an end with the Jewish services to which they belonged (Lev_23:32, Lev_23:37-39). The weekly sabbath rests on a more permanent foundation, having been instituted in Paradise to commemorate the completion of creation in six days. Lev_23:38 expressly distinguished “the sabbath of the Lord” from the other sabbaths. A positive precept is right because it is commanded, and ceases to be obligatory when abrogated; a moral precept is commanded eternally, because it is eternally right. If we could keep a perpetual sabbath, as we shall hereafter, the positive precept of the sabbath, one in each week, would not be needed. Heb_4:9, “rests,” Greek, “keeping of sabbath” (Isa_66:23). But we cannot, since even Adam, in innocence, needed one amidst his earthly employments; therefore the sabbath is still needed and is therefore still linked with the other nine commandments, as obligatory in the spirit, though the letter of the law has been superseded by that higher spirit of love which is the essence of law and Gospel alike (Rom_13:8-10). – Commentary by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown.


       And we have this commentary by an unsuspected Sunday observer:


       “They [the texts of Col. 2:16 and Rom. 14:5, 6] make no reference to the weekly Sabbath, which had been observed since Creation, and which the Apostles themselves introduced and perpetuated in the Christian Church.”— Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge, pp. 1269 [translated from the Portuguese text].


       Dr. Albert Barnes, known Presbyterian authority, adds his comments on the text of Colossians 2:16:


       “. . . the apostle does not refer particularly to the Sabbath properly so called. There is no evidence from this passage that he would teach that there was no obligation to observe any holy time, for there is not the slightest reason to believe that he meant to teach that one of the ten commandments had ceased to be binding on mankind. If he had used the word in the singular number – ‘the Sabbath,’ it would then, of course, have been clear that he meant to teach that that commandment had ceased to be binding, and that a Sabbath was no longer to be observed. But the use of the term in the plural number, and the connection, show that he had his eye on the great number of days which were observed by the Hebrews as festivals, as a part of their ceremonial and typical law, and not to the moral law, or the Ten Commandments. No part of the moral law -- no one of the ten commandments could be spoken of as ‘a shadow of good things to come.’ These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal obligation”.


8 - If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16), why then important Christians confessional documents, such as the confessions of faith of Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, deal with the principle of the day of rest as a MORAL commandment originating from Eden?

Note: Here is what some of the most representative confessions of  Protestant Christianity say:


       VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
       VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. -- Chapter XXI - the Westminster Confession of Faith.
 
       7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished. . . . The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. – 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


Note: The document is right on the premise that Sabbath day should still be considered a commandment of the Decalogue valid and current. However, it is wrong to say that Sunday took the place of the seventh-day Sabbath, because there is no biblical evidence of that (as the next question makes clear).

9 -
If the Sabbath was a ceremonial precept to be abolished later (something which would be reflected in Colossians 2:16) why doesn't the author of Hebrews, when dealing with the transfer of the Old to the New Covenant, indicate, as he refers to what is called “My laws” written on the hearts and minds of those who accept the terms of this New Covenant [New Testament], that in this process God 



a - leaves out the 4th. commandment of the moral law?

b - includes 4. commandment, but it changes the day of observance of the Sabbath to Sunday?
 
OR

c – leaves the principle of a day of rest as a vague, voluntary and variable practice, that could be reinterpreted as any day that best suits the believer’s interest (or his/her employer’s)?

10 - Why deny that which Christ established for the physical, mental and spiritual benefit of man and to serve as a “memorial of Creation” preferring the sophistry of incompetent people who deny that the authors of greater intellectual and spiritual category, of the past and present, as Wesley, Calvin, Billy Graham, James Kennedy, the Classic authors of Bible commentaries as Barnes, Clarke, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, etc., taught regarding God’s moral law and its day of rest principle?

Note: It is clear that all this discrimination against the commandment of the Sabbath has as one of its chief reasons—the preference to tread on a more spacious and comfortable path in religious life. It is much easier to roar in the direction that current goes than contrary to it, and not everyone is willing to face sacrifice to their self-indulgence. . .




Minor edits at request of author, on more than one occasion.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2009, 09:51:13 AM by Emma »
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