Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, therefore know thinking person would deem it to be a duck.

I just wanted to go on the record regarding the claim that the Biblical book, 2 Peter could not be written by Peter. One summary is here. This was inspired by a counter claim here. If I understand the arguments correctly, the book of 2 Peter is given its name because it begins with

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ ..."

Supposedly this proves that Simon Peter didn't write the letter. If I signed a letter with "Love, Looney", would that prove that I didn't write the letter? It wouldn't prove that I wrote it either.

There are other arguments. 2 Peter has the same themes as Jude and Jude quotes from the book of Enoch, and the book of Enoch is suspect. To be precise, however, we really don't know that Jude quotes from the book of Enoch, but rather that Jude quotes something that is also contained in the book of Enoch. There are other arguments based on the notion of "genre", but they don't make any sense to me. The real test must be something else, and this is the content.

An example starting with the book of Jude:

"For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." - Jude 1:4

Ooops! And isn't this a perfect characterization of many of today's mainline churches and seminaries? Are we going to dispute the prophecy?

And a sample from Peter:

"Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. " - 2 Peter 3:15-16

And in case you doubt the content above, consider an item from Paul:

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." - 1 Timothy 2:12

The argument against is that Paul's letters weren't considered scripture until the 2nd century, thus, Peter could not have written the above. That assertion, however, is undoubtedly false: Clement of Rome rants in the 1st century about the removal of the elders from office in Corinth, and the instructions on elders come from Paul's writings. Ah, but scholars have been disputing the authorship of 1 Timothy also. Now what would happen if we took the same criteria and started going through the dissertations of these scholars?

The fact is that there is no smoking gun here like a reference to Hadrian's Wall that would convincingly prove a 2nd century date for 2 Peter or Jude. Only speculation. Meanwhile, the content is entirely Christian and would undoubtedly offend any church teacher with corrupt motives, thus, it is unsurprising that the authorship would be disputed. Does that prove conclusively that Peter was the author of 2 Peter? No more than anything else can be proven in history. At some point you are going to have to place your faith in something, and I will choose to put my belief that Peter is the author. You simply can't read 2 Peter or Jude without recognizing that the authors are truly inspired by God.


Delirious said...

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..." Frankly this is how I look at the Book of Mormon. Any person who really studies it will clearly see that it is scripture. It is curious to me that people can believe that Bible, despite any unknown origins of some parts of it, but refuse to even consider the Book of Mormon. I think I might write more about this on my blog.

Looney said...

:-) As I have said, I think Christianity centers around the person of Jesus and his work on the cross, with theory being secondary, although increasingly vital as it deviates further and further. At the same time, it is clear the the LDS is much different from orthodoxy on many important theological points. God has a purpose in everything.

Delirious said...

I do think that many religions are increasingly straying from the gospel that Jesus taught, as well as the gospel as taught in the Bible.

I'm curious which points of theology to which you were referring. I know that our view of the nature of the Godhead is different. We also believe in modern revelation and that there is additional scripture is included in the Bible, and that more scripture can come forth. Were there some other areas that you were thinking of?

Looney said...

Certainly I believe that the trinity is settled theology.

In the early 19th century, the French writer Alexis de Toqueville said that Catholicism would be successful in America due to people being drawn to and awed by the rituals of their faith. He was certainly right, and the Easter Orthodox has been growing for similar reasons. Rituals with priests are a powerful emotional force, regardless of religion.

From the New Testament, I see Christ as the high priest (per Hebrews), a priesthood of all believers, and no other priesthood. The system of priests based on Aaron ended when the temple veil was torn. That is why the Reformation did away with the office of priest and changed it to pastor.

I haven't heard anyone argue against the Eastern Orthodox being Christians because they believe in an intermediate priesthood and rituals.

A person can be theologically correct in all areas, but not a Christian (e.g. Satan). One can also be theologically ignorant and/or badly confused, yet at the same time genuinely having a relationship with Christ, trusting in salvation and forgiveness of sins. Thus, my approach to things.

Delirious said...

I totally agree with the point about Jesus being the great high priest. We believe that too.

I want to do a little research before I comment on some of your other points. But I did have a thought today. When you use the term "orthodox" for me, it means the gospel as practiced after the death of Christ and the apostles. But we believe an apostasy occurred at that time, and that the fulness of the gospel was lost, as well as the priesthood authority. This is one reason that we see so many differing Christian religions. So you are right, we do not follow the modern "orthodox" religions. We believe that the gospel needed to be restored in it's fulness in these latter days. We believe this is the restitution that was spoken of by Paul. This modern day is the time of the restitution of all things. So I think you are right, we are not orthodox in the sense that we do not believe in many of the teachings of many of the modern Christian churches. We believe our church is the restored gospel, which was found in the original church, but which was changed through the course of time. We believe that many "plain and precious" doctrines were lost to the world, and needed to be restored.

You know I love a good discussion Looney. ;) Sometimes I get too zealous, but I do very much respect you because of your patience. :)

Delirious said...

Looney, your comment about the calling of Priest being ended when the veil of the temple was rent was a little confusing to me. We have the temple ordinances restored in our temples today, and I couldn’t see the connection. My understanding of the veil, and the symbolism of it is much different, and to me the two things are not connected. I don’t find any scripture to back up the idea that the office of High priest was discontinued at that time. You mentioned that this teaching came about during the “Reformation”, which we believe occurred as a result of the Great apostasy. (I would agree that there are many apostasies, but we refer to the one at the death of Jesus as the “great” apostasy.) I found this quote that might explain better our view of the meaning of the rending of the veil:
“At Jesus’ death, the veil in the Temple’s most sacred chamber, the Holy of Holies, was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” (Matt. 27:51.) For generations, only the high priest had been permitted to pass through the veil and enter the symbolic presence of God—and even he had that privilege only once a year. But through his death, Jesus rent that partition, signifying, among other things, that all people could reach God’s presence. (See Paul’s explanation of the symbolism, Heb. 9:11–14; Heb. 10:19–22.)”
The ordination of “High Priest” is the highest Priesthood office. As I previously said, we too agree that Jesus is the “Great High Priest”. This office within the higher Priesthood is essential to performing many of the needed ordinances. (The Levitical Priesthood, which was held by the Levites who worked in the temple in Old Testament times is considered the “lower Priesthood”.) This higher Priesthood was lost, not at the time of the rending of the veil in the temple, but after the death of Jesus Christ, when the apostles who held that ordination were killed. With it, the temple ordinances were also lost to the world. It is interesting that Jews today have expressed their desire to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, but at the same time are not quite sure what to do with it once it is built.
I submit that ordinances were an essential part of the early church, clear back to the time of Adam, and that they continue today. It isn’t out of a desire for “ritual” that we perform them, but because of the knowledge we gain from the temple ceremony, and out of obedience to God’s will. The temple was at the center of the worship of the people in the Old Testament. The temple is sacred, and the knowledge gained therein isn’t shared with the outside world. This is why the world at large doesn’t use temple worship. It continues to be at the center of our worship today.
These ancient temple ordinances were restored to the earth in these latter days, thereby completing the “restitution of all things”. But they can only be performed through the Priesthood that is held by High Priests. The Priesthood, by definition is “The power and authority to act in God’s name”. Without the authority of the High Priest, we would not be able to fully participate in every necessary ordinance, nor would our church leaders have the authority to govern the church. It is this priesthood that was also restored by an angel of God to Joseph Smith.
And believe it or not, I really tried not to write too much! lol