Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Historical Adam

I. The Historical Consensus of the Church
Throughout the history of the Christian faith the common consensus has been that Adam is a literal, historical person. So much so that Sacred Scripture actually gives us an age for him at death. The New Testament certainly presents this view (see for example I Corinthians 15:45) and thus, since the earliest Christians viewed scripture as inerrant and divinely inspired this consensus is evidenced in the writings of the early church. For example, Irenaeus presupposes a literal historical Adam in his discussion of salvation and the curse that followed the Fall of Adam.

Tertullian, in writing of exomotgesis also presupposes a literal, historic Adam as the first man and progenitor of the human race. He states,

I cannot easily be silent about that thing concerning which also the very head and fountain of the human race, and of human offense, is not silent. I mean Adam, who was restored by penitential discipline to his own Paradise.” 

The examples from the Patristic witness of the early church are numerous and span all of the Church Fathers. This understanding of Adam as an historical and literal person has informed Christian theology across denominational barriers down to our modern era. Indeed it is a fact to say that New Testament soteriology and christology are founded upon this historical consensus and understanding.

II. Challenges to the Historical Consensus
The consensus of the church on this issue went largely unchallenged (outside of minor philosophical debates or heretical sects such as the Gnostics) until the development of what has become known as Darwinism. Darwinism presented the case against a divine Creator and replaced the historical, literal Adam with the “scientific” myth of the gradual evolution of humanity from ape-like creatures millions of years in the past. In such mythology there is no room, nor need for a historical, literal Adam. Today many Christian teachers, pastors, and apologists, in an effort to accommodate Sacred Scripture to what they perceive as unassailable science, have capitulated on the historical consensus. In simple terms, they have rejected the necessity of the historical, literal Adam. Rather than “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered” (Jude 1:3), they have simply compromised that faith. Jewish scholar Louis Jacobs is quoted as saying, “There is no doubt that until the nineteenth century Adam and Eve were held to be historical figures, but with the discovery of the great age of the earth . . . many modern Jews [and Gentiles] have tended to read the story as a myth.” (Jacobs, L. 1995) For such Theistic Evolutionists, Adam ceases to be a real person, and is instead demoted to a mere symbol of the human race in its infancy. Others, such as Alister McGrath, a popular English theologian, see Adam as a gnostic figure. He claims that Adam represents “human potential as created by God but also with the capacity to go wrong”

These modern attacks on the historicity of Adam are not new (in fact they were addressed even by the Church Fathers), and in their current form find their origin not so much in Darwin himself, but in the work of a Jesuit priest, of whom it can fairly be said that he is the modern father of Theistic Evolution. This Jesuit was a pantheist philosopher and self described paleontologist by the name of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin's philosophy is what can be described today as Scientism. He wrote of evolution:

It is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow, and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts.”

The problems with these challenges are numerous and will be discussed herein not from the scientific viewpoint, but from their theological and, to some extent philosophical viewpoint.

III. The Challenges Fail
In addressing the challenges to the traditional Christian understanding of Adam what must first be stressed is their impact on Christian theology as a whole. As noted, such mythologies (albeit under the name of science) undermine soteriology and christology. Indeed the entire soteriological history of Sacred Scripture is rendered a fallacy if Adam is not a literal, historical person. If there was no Adam, then there is no inherited depravity. And if there is no inherited depravity, then there is no need for a “last Adam”, as Paul calls Christ (I Corinthians 15:45). Even such adherents of Scientism as Richard Dawkins noted this impact on the theology of Christianity.

Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic? So, in order to impress himself, Jesus had himself tortured and executed, in vicarious punishment for a symbolic sin committed by a non-existent individual? As I said, barking mad, as well as viciously unpleasant.”

Teilhard stated rather honestly that:

Creation, spirit, evil, God – and more specifically, original sin, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Parousia, charity – all these notions once they are transposed to an ‘evolutionary’ dimension become amazingly clear and coherent.” 

So rather than allowing Scripture to interpret itself, or relying on the Apostolic Tradition and consensus of the church to inform theology, Teilhard (along with the modern Theistic Evolutionists) attempt to view Scripture through the lens of evolution. Teilhard states openly what most modern Theistic Evolutionists rarely ever dare to admit; that is, fusing evolutionary principles with Christian theology produces an entirely different religion- one that collapses and fails in light of orthodoxy. Furthermore, it is one that cannot embrace the inerrancy of Scripture, since Scripture presents an historical and literal Adam.

Consider as well the various genealogies of Sacred Scripture, many of which trace family lines back to Adam. Those who suggest Adam is symbolic of all of humanity face the problem of proving that any genealogy would include a vague grouping of unknown people as if they were a distinct and literal person. Furthermore, if there is no historical Adam then the very genealogy of Christ as given by the apostle Luke (through Joseph) is fallacious as it includes Adam as a literal person, tracing Christ back to Adam through Joseph. (see Luke 3:23) Also, the exact designation of Adam's age at death (930 years in Genesis 5:5) does not fit the symbolic or allegorical hypothesis. Thus to deny Adam is an historical person is also to deny the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture and to ignore all contextual evidence to the contrary. This does not end with the genealogical. The denial of Adam as an historical person also undermines soteriological history. If Adam is not a real historical person then the Law is unnecessary, as there is no substantive foundation for sin offerings.A symbolic literary figure cannot be used to substantiate the very concept of sin with any degree of veracity, as it would merely be one myth among many in the ancient world. And connected to this is the fact that, if there is no need for sacrifice, no foundation for the inherited proclivity to sin (and indeed the concept of sin itself), then Christ, as Dawkins pointed out, allowed himself to be beaten and murdered for absolutely nothing more than a mythical symbol and fallacious theological extrapolations based on that mythical figure. Simply put, one cannot be an orthodox Christian and at the same time deny the historical and literal Adam. Nothing that follows the story of Adam and the Fall means anything whatsoever if he is simply a literary device.

IV. Conclusion
What must be said is that Darwinism exemplifies a sort of scientific gnosticism that reiterates the ancient Gnostic rejection of the historicity of Adam. The fact is that a denial of the historical Adam by Theistic Evolutionists (and others) is a denial of all the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith and the establishment of an entirely different religion masquerading under Christian theological terminology. Such a denial, in pursuit of a synthesis between Evolutionary myth and Sacred Scripture is really just a cheap reiteration of paganism and panentheism more akin to the Valentianians or Cathars than Orthodox Christianity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Head Coverings and Gender Roles

“Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head."
(Cor. 11:5).

“There is neither male or female, for ye are one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28)

There is considerable resistance, even among so-called conservative and holiness oriented Christians, to women covering their heads in Church, or to use the more common phrase, to women wearing veils. Now, the veiling of woman is an Apostolic command (I Cor, XI:4-16), and hence the attitude of a faithful Christian is one which accepts Apostolic injunctions without question. Let it be clear from the start that the idea that Paul was only accommodating himself to Jewish or middle eastern practice and that therefore such restrictions no longer apply, is a totally post-modernist and relativist concept. Tertullian specifically states that this command applies “everywhere and always.” The Apostle Paul provides us with two reasons for this practice. The first is that “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man… the man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man, for the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man.” The second reason, perhaps less explicit, is that a woman should have a cover over her head (‘power’ being an alternate word for ‘cover’) “because of the angels.” The first reason seemingly speaks to the subordinate role of women. Paul however is not concerned with the sexes as such, but rather with higher realities of which men and women are reflections. As Claude Chavasse explains: “the sexes signify eternal varities, and for that reason they must illustrate the qualities of direction and submission. It is not because Paul is a ‘typical oriental’ that he says ‘the head of the woman is the man,’ but because she is the type of the Church and he of Christ. …just as the Church should have no Head but Christ, so the woman should have no head but her husband.” 

The Church Fathers in discussing this issue make it clear that this “subordination” in no way implies that women are inferior to men or in any way limited in their relationship to God. Paul himself says that “in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female.” However, within the social relationship, reflecting the relationship of the Church to Christ, she does have a subordinate position. As Ambrosiaster says “Although man and woman are of the same substance, the man has relational priority because he is the head of the woman. He is greater than she is by cause and order, but not by substance. Woman is the glory of man, but there is an enormous distance between that and being the glory of God.” Severian of Gabala, another early father is even more explicit: “what we are talking about here is not nature but a relationship.” Under normal conditions the majority of women live within the married state. The family is in fact the building block of any healthy society. Those imbued with Progressive socialist indoctrination – conscious or unconscious – no longer consider the family as a norm and whatever loyalties they have are more oriented towards the government, which encourages single parent “families,” same sex “marriages,” homosexuality and a host of parallel agendas. But for the Christian, the family unit remains the norm, and to understand the proper status of women in the married state we should turn once again to Paul, who speaks to this in Chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians: “For the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all thing. Husbands love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life. …so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself… This is a great sacrament.”

I am fully aware that militant feminists dislike this passage because it speaks of obedience. Yet, under normal circumstances the father is head of the family. In this he reflects the presbyter who is “father” to the local Christian community, and both in turn reflect God who is “our Father in Heaven.” The father of the family is spiritually responsible for those under his care, and following the teaching of Our Lord, he can say: “if you love me you will obey my commandments.” He is of course himself under the obligation of obedience to Christ. He rules the family by “divine right,” – “right” being an older word for “law.” If he rules by other than divine right, that is, if he institutes his own private rules for those of God, he becomes a tyrant. If indeed the head of the family is to pattern his behavior after Christ, the woman should have little trouble in giving him obedience. The end result of such a relationship is that the family itself becomes a microcosm of the Church, or a Nazareth in which the children can grow up “subject” to their parents as Jesus was to his parents. Paul tells us in the next sentence that children are obliged to obey their parents. It will be argued that this is a rather “idealized” picture, but if the normal has become only an idealized picture in our age, this is indeed a tragedy, the fruits of which we see all around us.

The Progressive feminist agenda holds that women and men are equal in everything. It is the subordinate role that agitates and infuriates the Progressive woman. Now clearly justice requires that working women should have equality in the workplace. There is no justification for paying women less or making them work longer hours for the same pay as men. But this in no way militates against the Pauline precept. The Progressive feminist attitude is not entirely modern. John Chrysostom commented in the fourth century that “a woman does not acquire a man’s dignity by having her head
uncovered but rather loses her own. Her shame and reproach thus derive from her desire to be like a man as well as from her actions” (Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 25.4). He likens the situation to a governor approaching a king without the symbols of his office, and holds that a woman in covering her head in church is approaching God with the symbol of her office. For those in the Christian faith, the same subordinate role requires their obedience both to the rule and to the superior who is spiritually speaking, Christ. If there is “rebellion” in the family, there is even greater rebellion in the orders, and this very often starting with the superiors who are themselves refusing obedience to Christ. All this does not deny that women are of the same substance as man, but rather gives expression to a relationship between them. As Ambrosiaster says, “man is the head of the woman. He is greater than she is by cause and order, but not by substance. Woman is the glory of man, but there is an enormous distance between that and being the glory of God.” (Commentary on Paul’s Epistles). Augustine further comments that “it is not as though one part of humanity belongs to God as its author and another to darkness, as some claim. Rather the part that has the power of ruling and the part that is ruled are both from God” (Against the Manicheans 3.26.40).

The idea of obedience is of course not without its difficulties. Paul stresses this with regard to marriage. It is forgotten that if obedience is incumbent upon the wife, it is also incumbent upon the husband to be Christ-like. Like a king who rules by divine right - that is by God’s laws, so also the husband must rule as an alter Christus. If he were to rule by his own law, he would in fact be a despot. If then the husband is truly Christlike, then obedience becomes a blessing. What is frequently not realized is that it is far better to live under obedience than to be placed in command. Of course we are all under obedience to Christ, but as is true in any organization, Obedience flows from the “top,” through a hierarchy of authorities to those below. Obedience is not blind and can never be used to command what is sinful. One must always understand what one is obeying. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Confirmed By The Vatican? Not So fast!

In the world of fringe history and fringe personalities it isn't uncommon to see a sort of morbid fascination with the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar, or more properly the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were a Roman Catholic military equestrian order of monk-knights, endorsed by the Church in 1129. Despite their bravery in battle, the secrecy of their initiation rites spawned much suspicion. Add to this the wealth of the order, and falling prey to the greed and machinations of King Philip IV of France (who was deeply in debt to the Templars), and you have a recipe for disaster. The Templars were arrested en masse, tortured, many forced to confess to all manner of occult crimes and heresy, and finally disbanded by Pope Clement V in 1312.

Today there are a whole host of pseudo-Templar groups, each loudly proclaiming their legitimacy and pedigree. One such is the Hereditary Knights Templars of Britannia. Some readers may recall that in an earlier article I mentioned them as the self styled "Dr." John Ward (business partner,Intrepid Magazine editor, and co-author of Scotty Roberts) is a member and received his title of "Doctor" from them. As a student of Church history I wanted to know whether the organizations claim to being "Confirmed by the Vatican" is in fact valid or not. I wrote to the Vatican several months ago and quite simply forgot about the issue. Then yesterday I received a response. I was contacted by Dr. Stefano De Pasquale Ceratti, Pontifical Head of Section Associations- Church Movements. His response is at the right.

The official Vatican document he referred me to and attached lists the only Military Orders recognized and confirmed by the Vatican. It states:
Vatican City, 16 October 2012 (VIS) - In response to frequent requests for information concerning the recognition by the Holy See of Equestrian Orders dedicated to the saints or to holy places, the Secretariat of State considers it opportune to reiterate what has already been published, namely that, other than its own Equestrian Orders (the Supreme Order of Christ, the Order of the Golden Spur, the Pian Order, the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, and the Order of Pope Saint Sylvester), the Holy See recognises and supports only the Sovereign Military Order of Malta - also known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta - and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The Holy See foresees no additions or innovations in this regard.
All other orders, whether of recent origin or mediaeval foundation, are not recognised by the Holy See. Furthermore, the Holy See does not guarantee their historical or juridical legitimacy, their ends or organisational structures.
To avoid any possible doubts, even owing to illicit issuing of documents or the inappropriate use of sacred places, and to prevent the continuation of abuses which may result in harm to people of good faith, the Holy See confirms that it attributes absolutely no value whatsoever to certificates of membership or insignia issued by these groups, and it considers inappropriate the use of churches or chapels for their so-called "ceremonies of investiture".

So it appears their claims are as worthless as their titles and "doctorates".

* The original document is available by sending me an email requesting it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Time Travelers, Lunacy and Intrepid Magazine

Many of my long time readers know I penned a column for Intrepid Magazine, owned by the fringe writer Scotty Roberts. My articles appeared during its formative years, when the focus was on science, politics, and culture with a dose of the Fortean. You will know also that I left the publication, mostly due to what I felt was the increasing lunacy and blatant anti-Christian agenda building in its pages. Recently I was afforded the commentary of one of Intrepid's new breed of self styled "researchers" and columnists, Jeff Daugherty. Daugherty is the author of a horribly written book "Apostle Paul Antichrist". How bad is it? Let's just say that the fact that any part of a tree had to die to print this is almost criminal. The author claims..

  • Paul murdered the Apostle James
  • Jesus didn't die on the cross. He had a double take his place.
  • Paul had a grudge against Jesus from childhood.
  • Paul and Nero conspired to invent Christianity, and much more.
Now, one may rightly ask where this author who boasts in his author profile on Amazon of being a "Bible college graduate licensed by three Pentecostal denominations in the world", would get such obviously fallacious ideas. Fortunately for us, Jeff Daugherty has provided us with the answer. You see, the giant leaps in what passes for logic and research in this book, along with its wild conclusions aren't based on the New Testament writings. No. Mr. Daugherty is capable of a much more sound methodology in his special research. Want to know his secret? 

He claims to be a "time traveler"

You read that right. A time traveler. Well now, how could one possibly argue with the "facts" presented by a time traveling eye witness? Daugherty explains in the following video that he can describe the things in his book so vividly as a result of his time travel.

To add a laugh to this tragic tome, the forward is written by none other than George Noory of Coast to Coast AM fame.

Apparently Daugherty's book isn't being received very well at all, judging by the reviews at Amazon. Some of the comments are as follows: View original reviews in full
  • "Book is made up...utter nonsense and full of is mentally deranged." 
  • "There are many misspelled words and bad grammar.."
  • "A very bad read"
  • "Ridiculous nonsense!"
  • "A complete waste of your intellect! Move on!"
  • "This book is complete drivel.
Not surprisingly, Daugherty is steeped in Theosophical and New Age pablum, as his website makes clear. He offers "cosmic knowledge", "numerology", "palm reading", and even "exorcism". He can even do it via phone! Aren't we lucky? 

What is also not surprising is that, according to Daugherty's Google + profile, he is now authoring a column in Intrepid Magazine titled "The Christian Whistle Blower". So, the magazine that wants us to believe it contains serious research offers its subscribers the anti-Christian and occult ramblings of a self proclaimed time traveler. 

A fool and his money...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Scotty Roberts: Vegetable Man

Readers of this website know that I am an open critic of fringe history, and in particular the absurdities promoted by Scotty Roberts, aka Scott Alan Roberts. Roberts is the owner of Intrepid Magazine, an internet magazine that at one time showed promise, but is now filled with the usual mindlessness of the far reaches of fringe subculture. He is also the author of two books which I have critiqued on this site as well and the organizer of Paradigm Symposium, a gathering of the usual fringe science and history suspects. Yesterday I  was sent a screen capture of a post made by Roberts on his personal Facebook page.

Allow me to share it with you on the right. The priest in question is of course myself. Now, had I said what Roberts claims I said, I suppose he would be correct in his sarcastic query. However, Roberts posted a fabrication. Yes, a complete and utter lie. 

Allow me to share what I actually posted, on the left. As you can see, I said something entirely different. Now one might have expected Roberts as a seasoned author, (and self proclaimed "theologian", and "historian") to perhaps have done his research before posting such blatant misinformation, but that wasn't the case. In his defense, when one cannot be bothered to actually research one's own claims that have an impact on how one's writing is received, such as his laughable and oft repeated claim that the Nicene Council removed books from the canon of scripture, how could we expect anything different when it comes to statements regarding one's critics? I'm not certain whether Roberts was lied to and simply recycled the lie he was told ( a common approach in fringe history circles,as they often repeat the same myths and bad information on historical topics, gleaned from each others writings), or if it was a product of his own fertile imagination. I can't say which. It seems obvious though that the goal of Mr. Roberts' post was just to take a jab at me, and try to cast me as a fool. In the end he emerges looking foolish himself. And of course a host of responses from his sycophants ensued, some claiming to be Catholic and saying (paraphrasing) that I am just wrong. However, if those good Catholics would also do a little research they would find that the Vatican and American Bishops have taken the same stand as I. Though I honestly doubt that, even if they knew the facts, this would deter the screeching of the intellectually vacuous fringe, who prefer emotive outbursts and Progressive socio-religious meandering to anything remotely Orthodox. I ask my readers to pray for these people that they would be in some way informed of the moral problems with the "ice bucket challenge" and the plight of the unborn. And pray for Roberts as well that Christ would reveal Himself to Roberts, and that, at the very least, Roberts can refrain from such public calumny in the future.

ADDENDUM: Desperate to avoid admitting he posted a lie, Roberts has now insinuated I changed my Facebook post. Everyone on my friends list who responded to the discussion and participated from the start must be accomplices as well. I wish I could say I am surprised, but alas I'm not. For those unfamiliar with Scotty Roberts and friends, I provide the following links:

Scott A. Roberts: Noah Was Racially Pure, Not Righteous

Fringe History and the Survival of Esoteric Nazism

Race Interrupted: Nephilim, Eugenics and the Radicalization of Fringe Fundamentalists

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Recent Interview

I appeared on the Josh Tolley Show on 8/15/2014 to discuss Exorcism, Possession and Demonology.