More Obfuscation from Ashcraft…

Mr. Ashcraft issued a response of sorts… more like an elaborate excuse for why he is exempt from the educational standards the rest of the us are held to. His primary excuse is that as a “traditional Catholic,” he cannot attend seminary because all of the schools are inundated with homosexuals:

 A stumbling-block to orthodox men in the seminaries is a pervasive “‘gay subculture’, comprised of both students and faculty”; some of the seminaries have gleefully earned such nicknames as “Notre Flame (for the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans)” and “Theological Closet (for Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.).”  “St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore has earned the nickname the ‘Pink Palace.’”  Heterosexual, orthodox men who do make it into the seminaries often find themselves under siege by the homosexuals and having to fend off sexual advances, even rape.

Would Mr. Ashcraft really have us believe there is not a single seminary he could attend that isn’t over run with homosexuals? I wonder what real Catholics like Francis J. Beckwith might say?  Of course, this behavior is nothing new in Roman Catholicism. It traces back to the medieval period infamously known as the “pornocracy” by historians. The ex-Jesuit, Peter De Rosa, writes of the medieval popes,

“They were less disciples of Christ than of Belial, the Prince of Darkness. Very many were libertines, murderers, adulterers, warmongers, tyrants, simoniacs who were prepared to sell everything holy. They were nearly all more wrapped up in money and intrigue than in religion.”[i]

The behavior described by Ashcraft is simply nothing new for Roman Catholicism and indeed should be expected from an institution whose own policies encourage it. In truth, the rule of celibacy has been an albatross to the Roman Catholic priesthood by forcing them to pursue proscribed means of satisfaction. It is not a new problem. John Calvin commented on it in his Institutes:

“In one thing they are more than rigid and inexorable—in not permitting priests to marry. It is of no consequence to mention with what impunity whoredom prevails among them, and how, trusting to their vile celibacy, they have become callous to all kinds of iniquity.”[ii]

Unfortunately, the Roman system encourages and invites perversion. While we already covered Pope Benedict XVI’s role in covering up and protecting the pedophiles, here we offer some explanation. Number one, it is important to note that no one starts out as a pedophile. Pedophilia is at the end of a long-term addiction which continuously escalates requiring more and more bizarre perversions to titillate and satisfy. The problem for Rome is that it will never stop because enslavement to sexual sin is inherent in the design of the priesthood.

Priests are forced into the impossible (for most) demand of lifetime celibacy. The vast majority, of course, fail in one form or another. In regard to sexual desire, Paul also taught, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Co 7:9). But the celibacy rule makes it much easier to sin. If he commits a sexual sin like fornication, all that is required for absolution is confession to a fellow priest(s). All he has to do is tell one of his peers. It is easy to imagine a tit-for-tat arrangement: you forgive me of mine, I’ll forgive you of yours. However, if a priest were to engage in the only God-ordained means for sexual fulfillment—that is, within the bounds of a marriage covenant—then he is in big trouble.

In fact, the only way to get absolution for getting married is directly from the pope. If they do not get absolution, they believe they will suffer in hell. Can you see how they are virtually enslaved into a world of sinful, sexual pursuit? If they fornicate, they can easily gain absolution. If they marry, they risk excommunication. In this way, the system encourages them to pursue illegitimate perversions outside of God’s design. It is no wonder that Catholics with sexual attraction disorders flock to the seminaries. Because the homosexual issue is demonstrably nothing new, Ashcraft’s excuse amounts to so much special pleading.

Even unaccredited theology programs like Columbia Evangelical Seminary allow themselves to be accountable to the public. Unlike Ashcraft’s mystery school, transparency is indicative of holding high standards. Ashcraft has still failed to account for his listed degree. His LinkedIn profile lists an earned a Doctorate in Divinity from St. Sergius Seminary but only offers:

Sedevacantist bishops are purely sacramental bishops, and sedevacantist priests are purely sacramental priests. There are no claims of secular title, only religious titles and religious education alone. Such was the program I studied in, and I make no apology for doing so. …My own studies were partly formal and partly at the direct mentorship of a traditional Roman Catholic priest.

His argumentation is full of double speak. If formal then where? If via mentor then why create a fictional St. Sergius Seminary? If he is not looking for worldly recognition, then why list the faux credentials on a public profile?

 

[i] Peter De Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy, 1st American ed. (New York, NY: Crown, 1988), 47.

[ii]John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion, electronic ed., IV, xii (Garland, TX: Galaxie Software, 1999). 23.

Who Is Father Ashcraft?

mystery ManAccording to his website The Bare Fisted Cleric, “Fr. Ashcraft is a sedevacantist Byzantine Catholic priest and an independent author addressing topics in the realm of the Paranormal, Historical and Religious Mysteries, Cults, The Occult, Exorcism, Demonology, and Eschatology. He has been called ‘the Malachi Martin of the 21st century.’” That is a pretty tall claim. Malachi Martin held three PhDs  (in Semitic languages, archeology, and Oriental history), was an officially ordained exorcist and an adviser the three popes. Is Father Ashcraft really qualified as an expert in such matters? It seems dubious at best.

On his LinkedIn page, Ashcraft claims an earned Doctorate of Divinity from St. Sergius seminary where he allegedly attended from 1999 until 2009. Interestingly, an internet search  lists only one legitimate Christian theological institution going by that name: Institut de théologie orthodoxe Saint-Serge (St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute) in Paris, France.  Impressive credentials indeed… Giving Ashcraft the benefit of a doubt, I wrote them and they responded:

Dear Mr. Putnam,

Here at St. Sergius Theological Institut we have never heard of Father —- Ashcraft.

Sincerely,

Secrétariat de l’Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe Saint-Serge

(email to author dated June 25, 2014)

So now we have a mystery that no one but Ashcraft can solve. Yet, he refuses to identify the school. In the interest of fairness, I emailed to ask but he refused to give me a straight answer.

Your opinion of my credentials or lack thereof means absolutely nothing to either myself or the other clergy with whom I am associated. You see, we don’t seek your approval. We’re trying to serve Christ, not man. For someone who eschews sacerdotal titles, seeing them as some attempt to elevate oneself above others, you certainly cling to a form of that very sin yourself in your appeal to your educational titles and/or achievements. (personal email 6/28/204)

But Ashcraft’s claimed Doctorate is the same sin he is accusing me of, especially if it is not a legitimate degree. It might even be illegal. According to About.com, “In some states, using a diploma mill degree is actually illegal. In many cases, using such a degree to get a job, promote your business, or enhance your resume is punishable with a fine or even jail time.” Since I am still paying off my student loans, I take exception to phony credentials. 

Ashcraft sure seems to be hiding something because he even threatened to file criminal harassment charges when I pressed him to identify the school.  If he really held a Doctorate of Divinity it seems like it would be much easier to just to identify the school. I can’t conclude for certain if his credentials are valid, from a diploma mill, or made up out of whole cloth… but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it’s probably a duck.

Apostle Paul Antichrist? Putnam vs. Daugherty Debate June 28, 2014

I will be debating Jeff Daugherty on the following resolution: “The message of Jesus Christ was changed by the Apostle Paul (who was not a true apostle) in order to create a structure to control the general populace of the Roman Empire, setting the stage for the New World Order.” Daugherty is arguing the affirmative and I am arguing the negative. I reviewed his book here.

The debate is now posted for listening here: http://extraordinaryintelligence.com/beyond-extraordinary-ep-23-debate-apostle-paul-antichrist/

Apostle Paul Debate Promo

More Skiba Nonsense: the Mosiac vs. New Covenant

GrACE preferenceRob Skiba ventured a reply of sorts to my previous post, calling me a “Jesuit-Inquistor.” Responding to my identifying the Mosaic covenant as obsolete, Skiba ardently defends the notion that New Covenant Christians are still under the Mosaic covenant. (note the grammar and spelling are Skiba’s):

Obesolete Mosaic covenant??? Are you referring to the Law that was written on our hearts and minds just 3 verses prior? Are you saying you subscribe to and support the validity of INSERTING words that don’t belong in the text:

“Covenant” simply is NOT in the Greek text. It was INSERTED into the English text by translators who ignore the “MAIN POINT” of Heb. 8:1, which was the “sum” of what had previously been written about in the preceding 4 chapters. To insert “covenant” as in “Mosaic Law” into verses 7 and 13 (as many a English Bible does), it totally nullifies verse 10 and completely ignores Hebrews 4-7. But that’s another whole topic in and of itself.

Rob is correct that the word “covenant” is not in verse 13 but don’t you wonder why nearly every major English translation saw fit to insert it for clarity?  Is it really a Jesuit conspiracy? Here is a text comparison of the major English translations:

NIV | ‎Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
‎‎NASB95 | ‎Heb 8:13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
‎‎NRSV | ‎Heb 8:13 In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.
‎‎ESV | ‎Heb 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
‎‎NKJV | ‎Heb 8:13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
‎‎KJV 1900 | ‎Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

So has every Bible translation committee for the last 400 years gotten it wrong while Rob Skiba has it right?  It doesn’t seem likely. A strict literal translation is the Lexham English Bible and it renders:

“In calling it new, he has declared the former to be old. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is near to disappearing.”(Heb 8:13, LEB)

So what is the “it” that the author is calling “new” and what is the “former” that is old, obsolete, and near disappearing? In order to determine that, we first look to the context.  Simply read Hebrews 8 and it is very clear that the topic is the “new covenant.” The author cites  Jeremiah 31:31–34 in Hebrews 8:8-12.  Here is the LEB fully formatted:

Hebrews 8:10–13 (LEB)

10 For this is the covenant that I will decree with the house of Israel

after those days, says the Lord:

I am putting my laws in their minds

and I will write them on their hearts,

and I will be their God

and they will be my people.

11 And they will not teach each one his fellow citizen

and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

from the least of them to the greatest.

12 For I will be merciful toward their wrongdoings,

and I will not remember their sins any longer.”

13 In calling it new, he has declared the former to be old. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is near to disappearing.

In Greek, adjectives and nouns have grammatical gender (masculine and feminine) but it doesn’t necessarily imply anything about sexual gender but rather serves a grammatical function so that one can match adjectives to nouns and pronouns precisely. In this case, it proves helpful even though the context alone is pretty clear.

The word διαθήκη rendered “covenant” in verse 10 is singular and feminine. In order to verify that adjective καινός “new” in verse 13 refers back to “covenant” we verify that it matches in gender and number:  διαθήκην (fem. sing) –>  καινὴν (fem, singular). Likewise we verify that πρώτην “former” in verse 13 also matches in gender and number, it does: πρώτην (fem, singular).   Thus, in Greek the grammar along with context make it absolutely certain that verse 13 means “new covenant” and “former covenant.” That is why all of your English translations inserted it… no Jesuit conspiracy necessary. Verse 13 is obviously referring to the New Covenant as opposed to the former covenant (the Mosaic one.)  Indeed,  it is beyond question that this chapter teaches the Mosaic covenant is obsolete. So why accept Skiba’s yoke of slavery?

Reply to Rob Skiba’s Twisting and Distorting Colossians 2

Rob SkibaThis a reply to Rob Skiba’s Facebook note: Twisting and Distorting Colossians 2. The problem is that Skiba is simply uninformed and incorrect. In Colossians, Paul is addressing a situation quite similar to Skiba’s own “ministry” that also asserts New Covenant believers need concern themselves with the obsolete Mosaic covenant stipulations (Hebrews 8:13). Despite his special pleading, historians and biblical scholars universally agree that the dangerous teaching at Colossae was heavily steeped in Jewish customs. Recent President of the Evangelical Theological Society, Clinton Arnold of Talbot School of Theology and Biola University, observes, “The fact that there are many distinctively Jewish elements to the false teaching (such as Sabbath observance, Jewish festivals, and an interest in angels; see 2:16–18) has led a number of scholars to contend that the competing teaching had something to do with Judaism”[1] Arnold continues, “The best explanation for this dangerous teaching is that it comes from the context of the local Jewish and pagan folk belief.” [2] He believes a charismatic leader attracted a following and was presenting himself as a guide to the “true Christianity” which included Jewish customs, feasts, and Sabbath keeping (remind you of anyone?).

Thus, the excuse that folks who cite Colossians 2:16 against Skiba’s Judaizing heresy is some sort of “bible twisting” is completely spurious. It is also instructive that the only people who make such a claim are folks like Jim Staley and Michael Rood who are also deeply invested in Hebrew Roots teaching. Real biblical scholars, steeped in study of the historical context, univocally identify it in a Judaizing context. For example, Robert Wall writes:

Several scholars have recently concluded that the clipped references in Colossians (cf. 2:9, 18, 21, 23) to a “hollow and deceptive philosophy” that “depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world” (2:8) to fashion “fine-sounding arguments” (2:4) suggest that the Colossian congregation was being influenced by a Hellenized form of piety (Francis 1975), probably of Jewish origin (Bornkamm 1975). If to be a Christian meant in some important sense to be Jewish, as opponents to the Gentile mission would have argued, then believers would quite naturally look to their Jewish-Christian teachers (perhaps even to the rabbinate of the local synagogue) for instruction. [3]

Indeed, this sounds very much like Skiba’s teaching that to be Christian means to keep the Jewish feasts, dietary restrictions and Sabbath observance. Now that the context is clear, let’s examine the passage.

Skiba argues that the passage is teaching believers not to let pagans judge them for doing the things of God. But the passage actually says “let no one pass judgement on you” not just pagans.  Thus, the passage teaches do not let Rob Skiba imply you will be a “janitor in heaven” for not keeping the feasts.  Many similar HRM teachers seem to operate under the delusion that the festivals mentioned in Colossians were not the typical Jewish feasts but no historian will support that contention. It’s just a manufactured excuse for the HRM error. While in English translation it is easy to generalize a term like “festival” and then assert it was some unknown pagan festival, the original text is crystal clear. The Greek term used is ἑορτή transliterated heortē and below is a snip of the Lexham Greek-English Septuagint which verifies that the term ἑορτήis used in Leviticus 23.

Feasts Lev 23

More pertinent to the discussion at hand, ἑορτή appears 25 times in 23 verses of the New Testament. A few examples include:

  • “But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people” (Mt 26:5).

 

  • “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover”(Lk 22:1).

 

  • “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing” (Jn 2:23).

 

  • “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand” (Jn 6:4).

 

  • “Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand” (Jn 7:2).

 

Indeed, without exception the term heortē is used to denote the Jewish feasts in the New Testament. Skiba has not provided one shred of historical evidence that it meant anything different in Colossians: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath” (Col 2:16).

The fact of the matter is that no one outside the Hebrew Roots Movement agrees with Rob Skiba and Jim Staley. Again scholars are univocal. Arnold comments, “The false teacher(s) were advocating a number of Jewish observances, arguing that they were essential for spiritual advancement”[4] Wall’s comment is particularly instructive:

The list of these celebrations, which includes a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day, is fairly typical (compare Hos 2:13; Ezek 45:17; Jubilees 1:14). Since the list encompasses annual festivals (such as Passover or Yom Kippur), monthly meetings (such as the New Moon celebration) and the weekly observance of sabbath, it is evident that Paul’s opponents required a rather comprehensive obligation. Moreover, within Judaism most of these celebrations were intended to help the community look forward to Messiah’s deliverance of Israel from its suffering and to its entrance into God’s promised shalom. Thus, for the Christian to participate in these Jewish celebrations was tantamount to a denial of Jesus’ messiahship. [5]

That last line brings this Judaizing heresy into sharp focus and ought to bring deceived Christians still amongst Skiba’s following to heartfelt repentance. This is not a trivial error, especially now that one has been made aware of its depth into apostasy.

 

 

[1] Clinton E. Arnold, “Colossians” in The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2290.

[2] Arnold, “Colossians,” 2290.

[3]Robert W. Wall, Colossians & Philemon, The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Col 1:1.

[4] Arnold, “Colossians,” 2297.

[5]Wall, Colossians & Philemon, Col 2:18.