The End Is Near -- Where Can I Find a Hair Shirt?
In Defense of the Faith
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor
I was chatting this morning with our webmaster, Mike about some issues with the website, particularly the Yahoo! news feeds on the main page not working. Evidently new anti-piracy software interferes with legitimate feeds.
Goodbye, Yahoo news feed.
Our discussion soon turned toward the events of the day and how much more difficult it is becoming every day to keep from going over the same ground without sounding like a broken record. Or a nutcase.
Because in a sense, I am the literary equivalent of the disheveled nutbar wearing a hair shirt and carrying a big cardboard sign warning everybody that it is time to "Repent! The End is Near!"
How many ways are there to say; "Repent, the end is near?"
So far, I've found there are 3,391 ways -- today I am looking for Way # 3,392. Because when you get right down to it, that's what we do here. We look for new examples that confirm our belief that the end is near.
And new ways to explain, accurately, what that all means.
Ok, so the end is near. What must I do to repent? The word "repent" as understood by our English speaking ears, means to feel sorry for a past action and to feel such remorse for that action as to change one's ways.
When a preacher shouts from the pulpit about repenting of one's sins, we hear, "confess your faults and change your ways while there is still time." That might even be what he intends to teach, but that isn't what it means to 'repent.'
Because it is impossible to change all our ways in this life -- we are born sinners with an inbred sin nature, living in a sin-sick world with other sinners. If that kind of repentance is the way to salvation, nobody will make it.
The Latin term Poenitentiam agite is where we get our modern English understanding of the word "repent" which translates as either "repent" or "do penance."
The two oldest complete manuscripts of the Bible are the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinacticus. The Codex Sinaiticus was a complete copy of the New Testament written in classical Greek uncial (all capitals).
The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered by a German, Stanley Tischendorf in the 1840's, and it dates to the 4th century AD. Not to be outdone, the Vatican announced that it had its own Latin copy of the New Testament that also dated to the 4th century AD.
Both these codices differ from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) used by the translators of the King James Bible. So there are huge differences between the three different translations. The oldest existing complete Textus Receptus dates to about the 10th century, some six hundred years after the other two codices.
For this reason, many scholars consider the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus to be far superior to the Textus Receptus. That conclusion is reached primarily on the strength of the age of the two older manuscripts, although fragments dated earlier are more consistent with the T.R.
"Current scholarship considers the Codex Vaticanus to be one of the best Greek texts of the New Testament, with that of the Codex Sinaiticus as its only competitor. Until the discovery by Tischendorf of the Sinaiticus text, the Codex was unrivaled. It was extensively used by Westcott and Hort in their edition of The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881. The most widely sold editions of the Greek New Testament are largely based on the text of the Codex Vaticanus."
This is one reason why the Catholic definition of 'repent' is different than the High Protestant definition of repent, which is different yet again from the non-denominational Christian understanding of what it means.
But the Bible wasn't composed in English. Neither was it composed in Latin or classical Greek. The New Testament was composed in Koine Greek -- the universal language developed and imposed by Alexander the Great.
But I am not making an argument for the superiority of the T.R over the CS/CV. My intent is to explain the different understandings among Christians concerning what it means when somebody tells you to; "Repent, the end is near." It doesn't mean -- and it CAN'T mean, "Don't sin, the end is near."
If that is what it meant, then, near or not, we're all toast.
One notices right away the significant differences between the various versions tend to favor specific doctrines not found in others. For example, neither the CS or CV include Acts 8:37.
The Vatican's doctrine on baptism is that babies that are baptized as babies can go to heaven, but babies not baptized cannot.
But according to Acts 8:37, infant baptism is not Biblical. In Acts Chapter 8, the evangelist, Phillip, encounters an Ethiopian reading from Chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah. The Bible's account has the Ethiopian asking Phillip to help him understand what was he was reading.
Acts 8 details the conversation that ensued, with the Ethiopian finally surrendering to Christ and asking to be baptized.
The KJV, (translated from the TR) records the exchange thusly:
"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36)
Look at the question being asked. "Look! Here is a body of water. What prevents me from being baptized right here, right now?"
The Bible goes on to say that after being baptized, the Ethiopian went "on his way, rejoicing."
One of our OL members is a police officer in Illinois. He is also an amazingly dedicated evangelist. One day, he led a prisoner in the back seat of his patrol car to Christ. The prisoner asked if he could be baptized before going to jail.
My friend pulled over at the shore of Lake Michigan and took his prisoner out into the cold waters of Lake Michigan and baptized him, right there, on the spot. And the prisoner went on his way to jail, rejoicing.
Both the Sinaticus and Vaticanus exclude Acts 8:37. Now, look carefully at the verse that is omitted, keeping in mind the doctrine of infant baptism practiced by the Vatican and some High Protestant denominations:
"And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. " (Acts 8:37)
Babies can't believe. Neither can they confess. So that verse had to go.
Now, we return to the issue of repentance and what it means in the original language of composition, rather than what it means in a translation of a translation.
Repent doesn't mean to change one's ways -- except in English. Repent doesn't mean to "do penance" -- except in Latin.
In Hebrew the word repent is nacham which means "change (one's mind)" as in "the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do" (Exodus 32:14) .
In Koine Greek, the word repent (metanoeo) means "to think differently, reconsider." That is what our salvation is based on. On our willingness to think differently about our sin, to reconsider our relationship with God, and upon our willingness to change our minds about our own goodness.
We cannot recognize the kingdom of God until we change the way we think. When we change the way we look at things, it changes the things we look at.
You don't need a hair shirt and a sign to change your mind about having a right relationship with God. You just need to change your mind. And you need to do it real soon.
Because the end really IS near.
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