Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #207

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Hey guys, for everyone in the Birmingham area, I want to let you know that I will be giving a series of presentations at my parish in Hoover, St. Peter the Apostle, on three consecutive Wednesday nights – March 6, March 13, and March 20 – from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM. Topics will be: 1) “Why Evangelize? Does God Want Everyone to Be Catholic?” 2) “Salvation By Faith Alone? How to Answer the Evangelical Test Questions” 3) The Bible Alone? Is the Bible All We Need to Be Saved?

I will speak for 45 minutes each night and then we will have up to 45 minutes for Q&A. If you don’t want to stay for the Q&A, then you’ll be done in less than an hour.

I hope you can make it!


This week I want to respond to an article someone sent me that appears on the blueletterbible.org website. It was written by Don Stewart, who is identified as the “Bible Explorer.” The article is an apologetic against the 7 books of the Old Testament that Catholics have in their Bibles that Protestants don’t. I don’t have the time, nor the inclination, to respond to every single point he makes, as some of them are a bit absurd, but I will respond to his main points, which should be enough to show that this guy’s arguments just don’t hold any water.

I will give his point, then I will respond to it. His words will be in italics. You can find all of what he says at this link: http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=395


Why Were the Books of the Old Testament Apocrypha Rejected as Holy Scripture by the Protestants?

Don Stewart

The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of eleven or twelve books, depending upon how they are divided, that the Roman Catholic Church adds to the Old Testament. The Protestants reject these books as Holy Scripture for the following reasons.

My Response

I’m not really sure where he is getting the number 11 or 12 from.  The Catholic Bible has 73 books, the Protestant Bible has 66, making a difference of 7 books, not 11 or 12.  Those 7 books being: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees. 

Don Stewart

1. The Apocrypha Has Different Doctrine And Practices Than Holy Scripture

There are doctrines and practices contained in the Apocrypha that are contrary to what the Scripture teaches. They include the following.

They Teach A Person Is Saved By Works

In the Apocrypha proof texts can be found to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by human works and not faith alone. The Apocrypha contains the following verses.

For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life (Tobit 12:9).

In another place in Tobit it says.

So now, my children see what almsgiving accomplishes, and what injustice does it brings death! (Tobit 14:11).

In the Book of First Maccabees it says.

Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (First Maccabees 2:52).

The Bible, on the other hand, says that a person is saved by grace through faith. It is not based upon our good works.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).

My Response
Well, he’s got a problem here, because in the New Testament proof texts can be found to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by human works and not faith alone.  (And, just to be clear, Catholics believe it is not works alone that save us, but faith and works, all done by the grace of God.)  So, if the “Apocrypha” needs to be tossed out of Scripture, then so, too, do a number of New Testament books. The New Testament contains the following verses:

    “For He [God] will give to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”  (Romans 2:6-7).

    “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?…If you would enter life, keep the Commandments.”  (Matthew 19:16-17).  

    “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24).

    “Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”  (1 Tim 2:15).

    “And all the churches shall know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.” (Revelation 2:23).

There are many, many more verses in just about every, if not indeed every, book of the New Testament that I could cite, but these will suffice to make the point.  So, will Mr. Stewart argue for these books to be tossed out of the Bible as well?  In addition to the New Testament having passages that support Roman Catholic doctrine, let’s look at the verse he quotes from Tobit, Tobit 12:9, and see if the New Testament doesn’t in fact support this verse.

First, let’s give a bit more of the passage: “Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness.  A little with righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing.  It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold.  For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin.  Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fulness of life; but those who commit sin are the enemies of their own lives.”

Remind you of any New Testament verses?  “It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold.”  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” (Matt 6:19-20).  Also, almsgiving is clearly cited as charity…or love.  So, Tobit is essentially saying that love purges away every sin, not simply the act of almsgiving, but what is behind the act – love.  “Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8).  Love covers a multitude of sins, which is pretty much what Tobit is saying.  And, what about that passage from Matthew 25 – he who feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, etc. (works) will inherit the Kingdom? 

Now, let’s look at the quote he cites from 1 Maccabees, “Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” (First Maccabees 2:52).  It seems the Bible Explorer has a bit of a problem with what it says here.  Yet, it says almost the exact same thing in the New Testament.  Look at this passage: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar [when he was tested]…and the scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’” (James 2:21-23).  James says exactly what Tobit does – that Abraham was justified by what he did.  So, does the Bible Explorer think that James ought to be tossed out of the New Testament?  Of course not.  It seems either the Bible Explorer needs to explore his Bible a little bit more. 

Finally, let’s look at his quote from Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast.”  Amen! says the Catholic.  But, he leaves out Eph 2:10, which says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  So, God prepared these works beforehand, that we should walk in them.  If we don’t walk in them, if we don’t do these works God has prepeared for us to do, are we still saved?  Well, the Bible Explorer undoubtedly says, “Yes,” since works have nothing to do with our salvation.  But, he is wrong, at least, according to the Bible.  If it is God’s will that we walk in the works that he prepared for us beforehand, but we don’t, then we are not doing God’s will.  And, in Matthew 7:21, it says that only those who do the will of God will enter Heaven.  Hmmm….

So, we are indeed saved by grace through faith, but we must also do the works that God has prepared for us.  Works that we cannot boast of, because the only way we can do them is by the grace of God!

Don Stewart

The Non-biblical Doctrine Of Purgatory Is Taught In The Apocrypha

The doctrine of purgatory – a place of purging between heaven and hell – is taught in the Apocrypha. It says.

So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin (Second Maccabees 12:41-45).

The Bible teaches that, upon death, one either goes to be with the Lord or is sent away from Him – there is no middle place. The writer to the Hebrews stated.

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

My Response

Indeed, a man dies once and then faces judgment.  That, however, is right in line with the doctrine of Purgatory which states that when a man dies, he faces judgment.  He may be judged damned or saved.  If he is judged saved, he may need to first purge any attachment to sin, any imperfections that he had on his soul at the moment of his death, before being ready to enter Heaven.  We see this in 1 Cor 3:13-15, "Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [his day of judgment] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward,.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." 

We see in this passage a purging of a man’s works of hay, stubble, and straw, through fire, after his death.  Where is it that a man can, after his death, suffer loss, as through fire, yet still be saved?  Heaven?  No!  You don’t suffer loss in Heaven.  Hell?  No!  You can’t be saved once you are in Hell.  There must be somewhere else where all of this is taking place. 

Don Stewart

According To The Apocrypha God Hears The Prayers Of The Dead

We find the Book of Baruch teaching that God hears the prayers of those who have died.

O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear now the prayer of the dead of Israel, the children of those who sinned before you, who did not heed the voice of the Lord their God, so that calamities have clung to us (Baruch 3:4).

The dead do not pray for the living. Only the living upon the earth pray for the other living ones on the earth.

My Response

Notice, very carefully, that he gave no Scripture verse to support what he says as he has done previously.  Why not?  Because nowhere in the Bible does it state that the members of the Body of Christ in Heaven, do not pray for the members of the Body of Christ on Earth.  He is imposing his own peronal views here and trying to make you believe they come from the Bible, when they do not.  If death does not separate us from the love of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:38-39), that why does the Bible Explorer believe that death will separate us from the love of our fellow Christians?  Will we not still love our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ when we get to Heaven?  After all, the rich man, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, shows concern for his still living brothers and he is in a place of torment (Luke 16:27-30).  If someone in a place of torment shows concern for the living, how much more so would someone in Heaven show concern for the living?  So, will we not continue to pray for the living in Heaven as we did on Earth? 

Don Stewart

The Apocrypha Teaches The Pre-existence Of Souls

The doctrine of the pre-existence of souls is found in the Apocrypha.

As a child I was naturally gifted, and a good soul fell to my lot; or rather, being good, I entered an undefiled body (Wisdom 8:19,20).

Scripture does not teach that souls have any existence before they are united into a body.

My Response

Notice, again, there is no Scripture verse to support his claim.  As I write this, I can’t think of a verse that teaches anything, either way, about the pre-existence of the soul.  So, he is relying on…tradition…for what he is saying here.  Now, Catholics do not believe in the pre-existence of souls.  We believe that God does indeed create the soul at the moment of conception, but the thing is, those verses from Wisdom are not really saying anything contrary to that.  He is deliberately interpreting them in a way that is advantageous to his claims, but which is not necessarily what the author was trying to say. 

Two things to note: 1) When the author of those verses says he "entered" an undefiled body, there is actually no time frame given.  I would ask Mr. Stewart, when did his soul "enter" his body?  Was it not at the moment of his creation?  Does that mean his soul pre-existed his body?  Not at all.  This is a perfectly legitimate way to speak of the union of body and soul at the moment of creation.

2) We have to be very careful to make sure we understand what people are actually saying when we talk to them face-to-face, how much more so when we simply read their words 2 or 3 thousand years after the fact?  For example, the weatherman on TV this morning said that sunrise was at 6:30 AM this morning.  I could interpret that to mean that my weather man is an idiot who believes the sun revolves around the earth…because that is what the term "sunrise" literally means, or I could realize that he is speaking imprecisely, but in a way that everyone who hears him understands.  In other words, he is using an idiom of speech.  Well, the folks who wrote the Bible quite often used idioms of speech, they spoke imprecisely, but in such a way as the folks of their day and time understood exactly what they meant, whereas, we may have some trouble understanding what their intent was and we need to be very careful when interpreting what they wrote.

Don Stewart

It Teaches Creation Out Of Pre-Existent Matter

The doctrine of creation out of pre-existent matter is taught in the Apocrypha.

For your all-powerful hand, which created the world out of formless matter, did not lack the means to send upon them a multitude of bears, or bold lions (Wisdom 11:17).

The Bible says that God’s creation was out of nothing.

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3).


My Response

Uhmm…has he read Genesis, chapter 1?  "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep," (Gen 1:1-2).  The earth was formless matter, at least, according to Genesis.  So, when God set about creating the Earth – creating the firmament, creating the waters above the earth and the waters on the earth, the dry land (which He called "Earth"), and creating the vegetation, and the animals, and then finally man – He did all of that from formless matter.  To interpret that passage from Wisdom in the manner that he did is a bit ingenous, if not downright deceitful.

Don Stewart

The Apocrypha Say The Body Weighs Down The Soul

The idea of the body as a weight upon the soul is found in the Apocrypha.

For a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind (Wisdom 9:15).

The idea that the body weighs down the soul is not biblical – the body is not evil.

All of these doctrines are contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture.

My Response

Again, I think the Bible Explorer needs to explore the Bible a little bit more.  For example, look at what Paul says in Galatians, chapter 5, "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other to prevent you from doing what you would."  Hmm…seems like Paul is saying the body weighs down the soul, don’t ya think?  I mean if the flesh is against the Spirit – the Holy Spirit – then the flesh would be weighing down the soul, would it not?

And how about these verses from Romans, chapter 7: "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh, I can will what is right, but I cannot do it." (Verse 18).  "For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members…who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Verses 22-24).  It seems to me that Paul is saying that the flesh does indeed cause problems for (weighs down) the soul.  Flesh and soul seem to be, at least at times, at war with each other.

So, I believe I have shown that on this point, the Bible Explorer simply does not know what he is talking about.  In several places he ignores New Testament verses that clearly say the same thing as the verses from the "Apocrypha" that he says are contrary to Scripture.    In other places he simply makes assertions, without any scriptural support, to make his case.  Well, with all due respect, but by what authority does he make these claims?  And, in other places, he twists the meaning of Scripture verses to get them to say what he wants them to say, when it is not at all clear that his interpretation of a particular verse is correct, or it is in fact very clear that his interpretation of a particular verse is clearly wrong. 

Don Stewart

2. The Apocrypha Is Never Cited In The New Testament As Scripture

Though the New Testament cites directly, or alludes to, almost every book of the Old Testament as Scripture, it never cites the Apocrypha as being God’s Word. The Apocrypha was not the Bible of Jesus or His apostles. While Jesus and Hs apostles often quoted from the Septuagint, they never quoted from the Apocrypha….If the writers of the New Testament considered the Apocrypha to be Scripture, we would certainly expect them to refer to it in some way. However we find no direct quotations. This is in contrast to over 250 quotations from the authoritative Old Testament Scriptures.

The fact that the present canon was repeatedly quoted as being divinely authoritative as well as the absence of any direct quote is another indication of the extent of the canon – it did not include the Apocrypha.

My Response

I didn’t include every single point he made here, because I didn’t think it was necessary, as a lot of what he said was a bit tedious.  However, if you would like to read it all, you can check out the link I provided above.  There are a couple of problems with what he has said.  First of all, he is making the assumption that if a book is not mentioned in the New Testament, then it has no claim to be in the Old Testament.  Well, first problem is, where in the Bible do we have this test for the authenticity of Old Testament books?  Nowhere does the Bible say that the canon of the Old Testament should be determined by whether or not an O.T. book is quoted in the N.T.  This is a requirement that has been made up by a fallible man.  It is not scriptural. 

Secondly, he needs to be very careful here, because Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Judges, 1 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Lamentations, and Nahum are nowhere quoted in the New Testament.  Not quoted and not even alluded to by Jesus or the Apostles.  So, by the Bible Explorer’s reasoning, none of these books should be included in the Old Testament, yet he includes them in his Old Testament.  He is being a bit hypocritical here it seems to me.

Furthermore, the deuterocanonical books are indeed brought up in the New Testament.  Not by name, but you can see that they are indeed being reference.  Read Wisdom 2:12-20 and see if that doesn’t ring some Gospel bells, particularly Matt 27:42-43.  Paul alludes to Wisdom chapters 12 and 13 in Romans 1:19-25.  Hebrews 11:35 refers to 2 Maccabees 7.  Jesus observed the Jewish feast of Hanukkah (John 10:22-36).   But, this Jewish feast is divinely established only in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees.  Yet, Jesus treats Hanukkah, as a prefiguring of His own consecration to God the Father.  There are a number of other examples I could give, but those suffice to make the point. 

Don Stewart

The Apocrypha Has Always Been Rejected By The Jews As Scripture

My Response

Well, the Jews have always rejected the entire New Testament as Scripture, too.  Does that mean we should also reject the New Testament, because the Jews do?  This raises the question, though, of why he believes the New Testament is the divinely inspired Word of God?  He obviously doesn’t accept the Jews’ authority for the inspired nature of the New Testament, since they reject it, so whose authority does he accept on this matter?  Who is it that tells him which books of the New Testament era should and should not be considered the inspired New Testament?  It has to be someone who tells him this, or how else would he know?  It’s not the Bible, since there is no list in the Bible of which books should be in the Bible.  So who told him?  It seems to me he must be relying on tradition to know this.  But, again, which tradition?  Whose tradition?  Well, you know, if you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, who he relied on for his knowledge about the New Testament.  He relied on the authority and the Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. 

4. The Books Of The Apocrypha Were Written During The Silent Years

The books of the Apocrypha were written during the four hundred silent years between the Book of Malachi and the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist. Jewish and New Testament sources both agree that no divinely inspired prophetic utterance occurred during this time.

My response

First of all, Jewish sources should not be quoted to determine what is and is not considered Scripture by Christians.  Second of all, what New Testament sources is he speaking of.  I can’t really respond to him, because for some reason, he doesn’t cite any.

Now, he had another 20+ reasons he gave in this article for why the Deuterocanon (the 7 books he calls the Apocrypha) should not be considered Scripture.  But, these were his four big ones.  And, as I’ve shown, they have been weighed, they have been measured, and they have been found wanting. 

He has two big problems in his reasoning: 1) By what authority does he claim the things he claims in this article?  He often just says things without any scriptural support; and he often says things that are clearly contrary to New Testament verses that he claims to believe in.  If asked, I can guarantee that he cannot give the answer to the question of: Who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and how do you know?  Which Mark wrote Mark?  How does he know he was inspired by the Holy Spirit?  Who told him these things?  If he can’t answer those simple questions, which he can’t, how does he then claim to be expert on which books should and should not be considered Scripture? 

2) He simply does not seem to know the Bible very well.  To say that some of those passages from the 7 books in question are contrary to the rest of the Bible, when there are New Testament verses that say almost the identical thing as the verses he rejects, is just mind-boggling to me.  Bible Explorer?  As I have said a few times, I think he has a bit more exploring that he needs to do.

In Conclusion

I hope all of you have a great week!

How to be added to, or removed from, the list

If this newsletter was forwarded to you by a friend, and you would like to be added to our distribution list, all you have to do is go to www.biblechristiansociety.com and click on the “Newsletter” page to sign up. It will take you about 10 seconds.


Apologetics for the Masses