Evening Prayer – Gospel Reading for Today

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mark 8:27-9:1
8: 27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” 28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him. 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” 9: 1 And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

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Evening Prayer – Gospel Reading for Today

March 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mark 7:1-23
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” 6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘ This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men-the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”-‘ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” 14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” 17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Evening Prayer – Gospel Reading for Today

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mark 6:47-56
47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. 49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. 53 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, 55 ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. 56 Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

Evening Prayer – Gospel Reading for Today

March 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mark 6:30-46
30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men. 45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.

Evening Prayer – Gospel Reading for Today

March 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mark 6:13-29 NKJV

And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed  them.  Now King Herod heard  of Him,  for His name had become well known. And he said, John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him. Others said, It is Elijah. And others said, It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets. But when Herod heard, he said, This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead! For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philips wife; for he had married her. Because John had said to Herod, It is not lawful for you to have your brothers wife. Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he  was  a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief  men  of Galilee. And when Herodias daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, Ask me whatever you want, and I will give  it  to you. He also swore to her, Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom. So she went out and said to her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist! Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter. And the king was exceedingly sorry;  yet,  because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard  of it,  they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.

The Insistent Use of Bad Arguments Part 2

March 8, 2007 § Leave a comment

I want to tell you a story that will illustrate the difficulty getting someone to recognize a bad argument. I want to tell you about a discussion that Fred the paedo-baptist (infant baptism) had with Joe the credo-baptist (believers only baptism).

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Fred and Joe were discussing Mark 16:16.

Mark 16:16, Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

Fred was attempting to show Joe that one of the major arguments used by credo’s to refute the paedo-baptist position is a bad argument because it comments a glaring fallacy. The argument is stated as thus:

1.Believers are to be baptized.
2. Infants cannot believe.
3. Therefore Infants are not to be baptized.

Now this seems like a good argument to Joe. So Fred says to Joe, “This argument is invalid because the subject of premise one and two are not the same therefore the conclusion does not follow from the premises.” So Fred attempts to illustrate this by using the same form of argument from the same scriptural text to show Joe that he would also have to conclude something about infants that he wouldn’t be willing to hold as being truth. The argument is stated thus:

1. Believers will be saved.
2. Infants cannot believe.
3. Therefore Infants will not be saved.

Now, Joe seems to be catching on at this point, and Fred is encouraged by Joe’s reply, “I see, Fred, that this is not a possible conclusion because I realize that infants can be saved, and I would not be willing to say that they are excluded from salvation because they cannot believe.”

But, as Fred and Joe continue to discuss this argument, it starts to become clear to Fred that Joe is not willing to concede that this form of argument is not valid. Joe says to Fred, “Fred, infants cannot believe therefore they do not need to be baptized. So I say we should not baptize them because they don’t need it.”

At his point Fred realizes that Joe is still insisting on using the same form of argument. So he says to Joe, “Joe, if you argue that infants don’t “need” baptism because they cannot believe, then you are committing the same fallacy, you would also have to say, based on the argument you are using from this text of scripture, that infants don’t “need” salvation either.”

Joe is horrified by this reply from Fred and does not see the inevitableness of this conclusion. So, he asked Fred, trying to catch Fred in what would be an obvious doctrinal error i.e. baptismal regeneration, “Fred, do you believe children “need” to be baptized?” Fred answers, “No, Joe, infants do not need to be baptized.” So Joe replies, “You agree with my argument, Fred.”
By this time Fred is wanting to bang his head against a wall in frustration. Fred replies to Joe, “No I don’t agree with your argument, I only agree on the fact that children don’t need to be baptized. My reasons for infants not needing to be baptized are not because I agree with you that it follows from the fact they cannot believe! My premises are not the same as yours, Joe.”

Well, Fred and Joe go around and around for a bit debating this issue. So, eventually Fred tries to show Joe how bad the argument is by replacing the words “believers” and “infants” with squirrels and dogs. The argument would be like this:

1. Squirrels have tails.
2. Dogs are not like squirrels.
3. Therefore dogs don’t have tails.

Joe looks at Fred with an expression of disbelief and says to Fred, “Well, you are just being silly now, Fred. That is not what I am saying at all!” Fred replies, ” Yes it is Joe, It is the same argument.” But Joe is unwilling to concede his argument. So, Joe and Fred decide to continue the discussion later after some thought.

_________

I think it should be obvious by now the mistake that Joe was making. He could not see that If the subject of premise one is not the same as the subject of premise two, then the negative conclusion cannot follow. What is stated as “positive” truth about the subject of premise one, cannot be concluded as “negative” truth about the subject of premise two. And the last argument presented by Fred shows this clearly.

No matter how you phase it, if the form of the argument stays the same the conclusion must be fallacious. lets look at the arguments again and replace believers with “squirrels”, infants with “dogs”, and baptism with “tails”.

Argument 1:
Premise 1. Believers should be baptized.
Premise 2. Infants cannot believe.
Conclusion 3. Therefore infants should not be baptized.

Argument 2:
Premise 1. Squirrels have tails
Premise 2. Dogs are not like squirrels.
Conclusion 3. Therefore dogs do not have tails.

Lets try it this way.

Argument 1:
Premise 1. Believers need to be baptized.
Premise 2. Infants cannot believe.
Conclusion 3. Therefore infants don’t need to be baptized.

Argument 2:
Premise 1. Squirrels need tails.
Premise 2. Dogs are not like squirrels.
Conclusion 3. Therefore dogs don’t need tails.

These are all just obvious bad arguments. Let me end this article with a good argument using squirrels that I think will illustrate the point.

Premise 1. Some squirrels are gray.
Premise 2. Some squirrels are not gray.
Conclusion 3. Therefore not all squirrels are the same color.

Blessings in Christ,

Terry W. West

The Insistent Use of Bad Arguments

March 8, 2007 § 1 Comment

One of the lessons that the Holy Spirit has taught me in the recent past is that it is hard to break the habit of using bad arguments to defend one’s position. This is true for a number of reasons. Some bad arguments are hard to recognize, they seem so “reasonable” and logical. Sometimes it is hard to be willing to recognize them as bad arguments because to do so may mean one has to change his/her position on something that is held as true, so the argument becomes a means to a supposed “good” end, i.e. the truth.

Let me illustrate this from personal experience. I was a credo-baptist until about a year ago. I have since embraced paedo-baptism. I have always been covenantal in my understanding of scripture, but I was convinced that the explicit statements in positive affirmation excluded infants from being the proper subject of baptism. My reasoning went as follows:

1. Believers are to be baptized.
2. Infants cannot believe.
3 Therefore they are excluded from baptism.

Now this seems like a sound argument, but it is actually a very fallacious one. I will let Peter Edwards explain the fallacious nature of the argument. If anyone is interested in reading the entire book you can do so here.

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ARGUMENT II.

The Scriptures require faith and repentance as requisite to baptism; but as infants cannot have these, they are not proper subjects of baptism. Infants, say the Baptists, cannot believe, cannot repent; and none should be baptized without faith, &c.

The most expeditious way of destroying this argument, would be this. They say the Scriptures require faith and repentance in order to baptism. I ask, Of whom? The answer must be, Of adults; for the Scriptures never require them of infants, in order to any thing. Then frame the argument thus: – The Scriptures require faith and repentance of adults, in order to baptism; but as infants cannot have these, they are unfit subjects of that ordinance. Now it is a glaring sophism; with adults in one proposition, and infants in the other. Were I only to leave the argument thus, and say no more upon it, it would not be possible to save it from destruction; but since it is the only remaining half of the Baptist strength, I will examine it more at large.

In order to judge of the real worth of an argument, I lay down this rule: “Every argument that will prove against an evident truth; or, which is the same thing, every argument which will support a falsehood, is clearly a bad argument.” This rule is self-evident; for that must needs be false, which tends to prove a falsehood.

I will proceed by this rule, and attempt to show, I. That this argument is entirely fallactious. II. Point out wherein its fallacy consists.


I. Of the fallacy of this argument. The principle of it is, that infants are excluded from baptism, because something is said of baptism which will not agree to infants. To see therefore the tendency of this argument, whether it will prove on the side of truth or error, I will try its operation on these four subjects.

3. On the salvation of infants. That infants may be the subjects of salvation is universally admitted; that those, who die in infancy, are actually glorified, is also granted; and yet there is something said concerning salvation, which will by no means agree to infants – “He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned,” &c.

What shall we say in this case? Why, the same as before. If infants must not be baptized, because something is said of baptism, which does not agree to infants; then, by the same rule, infants must not be saved, because something is said of salvation, which does not agree to infants. And then, the same consequence again follows, that this argument, by proving against an acknowledged truth, proves itself to be fallacious.

I will lay down a plan of their logic on this text, which will produce more conclusions that there are principal words in that part of the verse. The place is Mark xvi. 16. “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” Now as the Baptists reason from the order of the words, I will mark them with figures, 1believeth – 2baptized – 3saved.

The logic is as follows: Take the first and second, believeth – baptized – and say with the Baptists –

1. None are to be baptized but such as believe, because believing must be before baptizing. – “1Believeth” – “2Baptized.”

This will conclude against infant baptism.

Next take the first and third – believeth – saved – and in the same way:

2. None are to be saved, but such as believe, because believing must be before saving. – “1Believeth” – “3Saved.”

This concludes against infant salvation.

Now take the second and third – baptized – saved – and argue in the same manner:

3. None are to be saved, but such as are baptized, because baptizing must go before saving. – “2Baptized.” – “3Saved.”

This will conclude on the side of infant baptism, they must be baptized, or they cannot be saved.

Lastly, take all three – believeth – baptized – saved – and say:

4. None are to be saved but such as believe and are baptized, because believing and baptizing must be before saving – “1Believeth” – “2Baptized.” – “3Saved.”

This concludes against the salvation of believers in Jesus Christ, if they have not been baptized. And so upon the principle of the Baptists, it concludes against the salvation of all Paedobaptists.

All these conclusions, arising from the same way of reasoning, may serve as a specimen to show the fallacious mode of arguing against infant baptism, adopted by the Baptists.

Let it be tried once more:

5. On the temporal subsistence of infants, As the reader may perceive the drift of the reasoning, on these instances, I will use but few words on the present one. Now that infants should be supported, not only Scripture, but nature itself teaches. And yet, if we form the Baptist argument, on a few places of Scripture, it may be proved, in opposition to Nature and Scripture both, that infants should actually be left to starve.

We have nothing to do but mention the texts, and apply their reasoning to them. Isaiah i. 19. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” 2 Thess. iii. 10. “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” Take the first, and say with the Baptist in another case: Willingness and obedience are required of those who are to eat of the good of the land; but since infants can neither will nor obey, they must not eat the good of the land. In the same way let the other be taken: He that will not work, neither shall he eat; infants cannot will to work, then infants must not eat.

This argument, in whatever way it is viewed, proves against the truth. Is it a truth, that infants should subsist? This argument proves against it. Is it a truth, that infants should be saved? This argument will prove to the contrary. Was Christ rightly baptized? According to this argument it could not be. Were infants proper subjects of circumcision? This argument will prove they were not. Then, if it invariably support a falsehood, we are compelled to say it is a false argument.

II. I will point out wherein this fallacy consists. As this argument, notwithstanding it is false, is used by the Baptists in general, both learned and unlearned, I will attempt to lay open its fallacy; and thereby put those persons upon their guard, who may be in danger of being seduced by it. The judicious reader may have observed, that I slightly hinted at the outset, wherein its fault consisted; but to make it yet more evident what that fault is, of which it is guilty, I will take the liberty of saying a few words more.

That particular rule, against which this argument offends, is this:

“Non debet plus esse in conclusione quam erat in praemissis. Ratio manifesta est, quia conclusion educenda est ex praemissis.”

That is, “There should not be more in the conclusion than was in the premises. The reason is plain, because the conclusion is to be drawn from the preminses.” We will try to make this plain, by examples of both of true and false reasoning.

1. In the Baptist way of reasoning. When the Scriptures say, “Repent and be baptized;” and, “If thou believest thou mayest,” &c. they address only sinful adults; and then, an argument formed upon them should reach no further than adults of the same description. But the Baptists form their fallacious argument on these passages, by bringing infants into the conclusion, who as they are not addressed, are not at all concerned in the premises. This will appear plain by three instances on the Baptist plan.

The Baptist argument runs thus: The Scriptures require faith and repentance in order to baptism; but infants have not faith and repentance: therefore they are not to be baptized. Now as the Scriptures require faith and repentance only of adults, we must place that word in the argument, and then it will stand in this form: The Scriptures require faith and repentance of adults in order to baptism; but infants cannot have these: therefore infants are not fit subjects of baptism. In the same way, we may form the two following instances, viz. The Scriptures require faith and repentance of adults in order to salvation; but infants cannot have these: therefore infants cannot be saved. Again, He [an adult] who will not work, neither should he eat; but an infant cannot will to work, therefore an infant should not eat. The reader may perceive, that by placing the word adults in one proposition, and infants in the other, (which makes it a sophism,) there are three things proved in the same way, viz. That infants cannot be saved—that infants should not eat—that infants should not be baptized. And so, for the same reason, that an infant cannot be saved, that an infant should not eat, it will follow, that an infant should not be baptized. For all these are equally true, and supported by the same reasoning. (Peter Edwards, Candid Reason For Renouncing The Principles of Anti-Paedobaptism, Chapter 2, Argument 2)

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When I read this as a credo-baptist I was amazed at how easily the central argument of my position was shown to be fallacious, but I still did not want to give the argument up, because I knew to do so would mean the defeating of my dearly held “truth”. The lesson that I learn, by the grace of God, is that if something is indeed true, then I should be able to arrive at the truth through good reasoning. If my “truth” can only be supported by a bad argument, then what I am holding as truth must be discarded.

I have found this to be true of myself in other areas as well. So, in light of this knowledge of my own tendency, I have to be careful in the way I approach scripture, I must pray that the Holy Spirit shows to me my tendency toward dishonesty and that he grant me the grace of coming to the sacred word of God with an honest heart to be taught the truth and to in turn defend it with good and honest arguments.

Blessings in Christ,

Terry W. West

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