Thursday, December 29, 2011

Does Purgatory Disprove Roman Catholicism?

Purgatory is defined by the Catholic Church as the place of the final purification of the Elect. It serves the purpose of allowing those souls whose earthly life finished while they were imperfectly in God's friendship the final purification so they can enter Heaven in a state of perfect holiness (cf. Rev. 21:27).

In a recent post on his blog, Hiram Diaz, claims that Holy Mother Church's belief in such makes her claim of being the church founded by Christ a falsehood. According to the subtitle of his post it is a scriptural refutation; however in all of his bullet points I see only one mention of scripture (Jer. 31:34), and very little refutation.

I like this particular verse which says in effect that God will forgive us all of our sins and remember them no more. However in no way does this refute Purgatory nor Roman Catholicism. It seems to me that to disbelieve in the overwhelming scriptural evidence that would seem to support Purgatory is an attempt to deny God's eternal mercy.

First let's unpack that verse from Jeremiah and show how it in no way refutes Purgatory. The idea of Purgatory is that it is intended to help cleanse a person from all attachments to sin, from love of self, so that when they enter Heaven they will have only love of God.

In 2 Sam. 12 we see the story of King David's affair with Uriah's wife. David confesses his sin to the prophet Nathan, who tells him The Lord has taken away your sin and you shall not die (2 Sam 12:13). However as punishment for that sin the child conceived of that union dies (verse 18).

We also see in 2 Maccabees that Judas Maccabeus offers prayers and sacrifices for the dead (2 Macc. 12:43-46). Now, Mr. Diaz of course would dispute the canonicity of 2 Macc. however even if it isn't canonical it is no less accurate as a historical document. Thus showing that Jews in the time of Christ believed in offering prayers for the dead. Prayers which would not be efficacious for those in Heaven nor Hell, so they must be intended for those in a third place, i.e. Purgatory.

We also see Jesus mention this third state of post-Earthly life. Matthew 12:32 sees Jesus telling the disciples that speaking ill of the Son of Man can be forgiven; but that blaspheming the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in this age nor in the age to come. Which again shows that there are in fact sins which can be remitted after death, and also some sins so severe they can never be forgiven.

We also see in St. Luke's Gospel (Lk. 16:19-31) the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Now the rich man is suffering in his state, and wants to warn others. Since compassion is a gift of God's grace he is not in Hell as that would be the permanent removal from the grace of God. And he is not in Heaven since he is in fact in a state of discomfort. He must be in Purgatory.

St. Paul's epistles also feature numerous references to the idea (such as 1 Cor. 3:10-15).

It seems the flaw in Diaz's attempt to discredit Holy Mother Church comes from his poorly constructed straw man detailing what Purgatory is and is intended to accomplish.For as I have shown even scripture details that God can forgive us our sins, yet still require us to make reparations for them. Much like if a father loaned his son the car for the night and the son had an accident; the father might forgive the son for having the accident but still require him to pay for the repairs.

God is both boundless mercy and boundless justice. This is one of the many paradoxes of the faith that we must come to terms with. In His desire that all men shall be saved (1 Tim. 2:4) God is merciful. In His desiring reparations for all of our transgressions (Mt. 5:26) He is infinitely just.

Finally let's take a look at St. Augustine's writings concerning the idea of Purgatory:

"For our part, we recognize that even in this life some punishments are purgatorial,--not, indeed, to those whose life is none the better, but rather the worse for them, but to those who are constrained by them to amend their life. All other punishments, whether temporal or eternal, inflicted as they are on every one by divine providence, are sent either on account of past sins, or of sins presently allowed in the life, or to exercise and reveal a man's graces. They may be inflicted by the instrumentality of bad men and angels as well as of the good. For even if any one suffers some hurt through another's wickedness or mistake, the man indeed sins whose ignorance or injustice does the harm; but God, who by His just though hidden judgment permits it to be done, sins not. But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment of the world to come."  
Augustine, City of God, 21:13 (A.D. 426). 
"But since she has this certainty regarding no man, she prays for all her enemies who yet live in this world; and yet she is not heard in behalf of all. But she is heard in the case of those only who, though they oppose the Church, are yet predestinated to become her sons through her intercession...For some of the dead, indeed, the prayer of the Church or of pious individuals is heard; but it is for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not spend their life so wickedly that they can be judged unworthy of such compassion, nor so well that they can be considered to have no need of it. As also, after the resurrection, there will be some of the dead to whom, after they have endured the pains proper to the spirits of the dead, mercy shall be accorded, and acquittal from the punishment of the eternal fire. For were there not some whose sins, though not remitted in this life, shall be remitted in that which is to come, it could not be truly said, "They shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in that which is to come.' But when the Judge of quick and dead has said, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,' and to those on the other side, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels,' and 'These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life,' it were excessively presumptuous to say that the punishment of any of those whom God has said shall go away into eternal punishment shall not be eternal, and so bring either despair or doubt upon the corresponding promise of life eternal."  
Augustine, City of God,2 1:24 (A.D. 426).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A New Blog To Follow

As a faithful Catholic the pro life issue is a big one for me. I just started reading a new blog tackling the subject purely from the Natural Law perspective.

Naturally Prolife looks to the Natural Law as defined by St. Thomas Aquinas and as expounded by the Magisterium epecially Bl. John Paul II. The blog's author Christopher Apodaca, writes meaty articles that examine the issue and tear it into bite sized thoughts without watering down the arguments.

His scholarship is evident throughout as his articles are chock full of quotations from Aquinas, JP II, and others such as C.S. Lewis.

I'm sure Apodaca's isn't the only blog to tackle the Pro-Life issue from this perspective, but the strength of the writing and the ability to take such a difficult argument and boil it down make his blog worth reading.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I know Chris, we went to school together. He is an incredibly well reasoned man and a faithful Catholic. Don't let the fact that I know him keep you from reading his blog though it is good stuff.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Just a quick note

I didn't die or anything during the move just haven't had much time to blog...Hoping to open up sometime in the schedule here soon so I can return to the blog...Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 5 -- Idaho, I'll Miss You....

--- 1 ---

As anyone who read last Friday's quick takes knows we are packing up and leaving Idaho. It will be hard to say goodbye. This is the place our two kids were born, baptized, and have lived their whole lives. Tommy's had amazing medical and social care. I have seen the hand of God in why we were here and in why things have gone certain ways, but it is definitely time to open a new chapter....

--- 2 ---

This is also the state where I went grouse hunting for the first time. Fun, hardy, birds that just obliterate the quiet when they take flight...Plus they are delicious...I will definitely miss trekking up Moscow Mountain looking for them...But I hear Minnesota has some grouse to be hunted so I will definitely be going out there...

--- 3 ---

I will miss St. Mary's Church, in addition to being the place where the boys were baptized it has been a wonderful Spirit-filled parish, with good leadership. Fr. Joe who has now retired was wonderful. And Fr. Brian has proven to be a wonderful priest, who demonstrates God's joy and love marvelously from the Altar. Deacon George has been a great friend and has always had time for my questions, no matter how inane. It has been nice having a parish that has always felt like home, from our first Mass, till this weekend when we go to our final Mass there as parishioners...

--- 4 ---

Too many wonderful people in this place have demonstrated to me that no matter their persuasions they can come together to help when one of their own needs it. I will never forget being handed a $100 check, for an ancient Hi-Ho Cherryo game, at the benefit rummage sale after Tommy was born. Brings me to tears even today to think about someone being so generous for a family and a baby they didn't know...How do you ever repay an entire town's generosity. Because that is one example out of many of the things this town did for us as we struggled to find our way out of the shock of Tommy's beginnings. 

--- 5 ---

I'll probably even miss the Vandals a little. The reason we came to Moscow was for me to take a job with the U of Idaho. After it didn't work out I took perhaps a little too much pleasure in seeing them fail. Now that things have shaken out and I realized God's Hand was in all of it, I can root for them to a certain extent. Never against my Aggies, but against other teams, sure why not.
--- 6 ---

I'll miss the old rolling hills of wheat, seemingly always brown, seemingly always with a little stubble on them. This place has gotten into my soul a bit, I'll admit it.
But come on...Look at it...

--- 7 ---
Hot Stove time for MLB. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will be the top dogs on the market this year. I wonder if new Cubs GM Theo Epstein will try and make a splash by luring one of them to Wrigley Field. I mean it's a band box of a field and either one of them could literally leave the yard with some of their monster shots. Plus I think Theo wants to find something to show Cubbies Fans he is serious about doing for them what he did in Boston.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 4--Minnesota Move Edition

--- 1 ---

I hate it when God waits for me to decide I am ready to do something, rather than just making it happen and letting me see how good it was later. For instance moving, Traci and I are just slowly sinking out here in Idaho...we love it, but it hasn't been easy and now the time has come to move on. So we will be leaving Idaho on November 11.

--- 2 ---

That opening sentence in point one stems from the fact that we have been discussing the idea of moving to Minnesota, since Tommy was born, the medical care and educational opportunities seem to be much better there than in my home state of New Mexico. However I was always scared to be so close to her family, my own insecurities getting in the way I suppose. On Sunday I was at Mass alone, with no kids to wrangle I had time to shut up and let God talk to me. And talk He did. I prayed if it was the right move that things would open up for us and they have, we have our apartment subleased, Tommy's daycare attendant is also quitting to focus on school--whew, was worried about breaking her heart telling her Tommy was moving. So things are moving quickly now.

--- 3 ---

Of course on Sunday God also told me that Traci and I needed to work a little harder at being a cord of three strands again. Which is from Ecclesiastes 4:7-12. That scripture was used during our wedding and we haven't always lived up to it. Hopefully with some family help around now we can work on those things. 

--- 4 ---

Ok I'll say it the winters and summers I am about to get myself into scare me. Growing up in New Mexico I am used to hot, but not humid. The first time I went to see Traci in Minnesota it was 95 in El Paso, no big deal. It was 100 in Minneapolis, still no big deal, however the humidity was 90% I thought I would pass out on the jetway the air was so heavy. Idaho has toughened me up in regards to cold, but it has nothing on Minnesota. So here's hoping I can get used to the weather.

--- 5 ---

These next two weeks will be a busy time of packing and phone calls and getting organized as we close this chapter of our lives. Already working on calling all of Tommy's many specialists and getting recommendations on who to see in Minnesota.
--- 6 ---

Did you watch the baseball game last night? How St. Louis managed to keep coming back is amazing. Texas had three blown saves in last night's game. Unreal. Here's hoping they give us another classic tonight in Game 7 to close the Series.
Sorry Rangers Fans:
Freese's Walk-off Sends Series to Seventh Game

--- 7 ---
Is there anything better than Game 7. Any sport. Everything is do or die. Every shift in momentum feels like the final nail in the coffin. The first Game 7 I remember caring about anyway, involves Minnesota oddly enough. In 1991 the Twins and Braves locked up in what a lot of people say was the Best World Series ever. In Game 6 Kirby Puckett seemingly single-handedly insured that there would be a Game 7. He had a home-run saving catch against Ron Gant in the third inning. But Puckett sealed the win in the 11th belting a home-run into the seats giving the Twins a 4-3 win and forcing the dramatic Game 7 pitcher's duel.
Now I have to move into Twins country and learn to like them I guess.... 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Early Christians are Inadmissible...

The title of today's post comes from my ongoing opponent. Who informed me that my use of the practices of the Early Church was inadmissible evidence to support my assertion that his faith was not that of the apostles as he claimed.

Seems a bit like a judge deciding to throw out potentially damaging eye-witness testimony, purely because it is damaging.

To be fair this was his initial quote: "My religion is the same as that of the apostles. I can prove it from the Scriptures. Yours is not." 

His words will be in blue....

I responded to that with a 10-point list of ways in which his religion differs from the one taught by the Apostles. 
My List:
1. They believed in regenerative baptism (of infants even)
2. They believed in the Real Presence
3. They quoted, used, knew and taught ergo believed in the Septuagint
4. They submitted to the authority of the Church
5. They called Mary Blessed
6. They taught 7 sacraments
7. They didn't believe Sola anything
8. They believed in a ministerial priesthood
9. In fact they had Bishops, Priests and Deacons
10. They refrained from eating meat on certain days...

This is where the discussion got funny...

His response

1. They believed in regenerative baptism (of infants even)
There is not a single verse of Scripture that (a.)teaches regenerative baptism and (b.)infant baptism.

This one made me laugh... I admit I have to give him a little credit for point b as there truly are no specific verses which say infants were baptized, there are numerous instances however of "whole households" being baptized, so is he really saying none of those households had infants or very small children...Argue from silence much...

However to say not a single verse teaches regenerative baptism, really, really, St. Paul uses the words washing of regeneration in his letter to Titus. (Titus 3:5-6) Further Acts 22:16 tells us Arise be baptized and wash away your sins...

My favorite baptism verse in Acts however has to be Peter telling the people in Acts 2:38-39 that baptism is for the remission of sins and that the promise is to "you and your children."

Seems one has to go a long way to avoid or ignore these references to baptism as a regenerative act.  

2. They believed in the Real Presence
They did not believe your doctrine of Transubstantiation. If they did, then they were deceived by the devil or Christ was a sinner, I proved this to you. You merely touted back: “bbbbbbbut the early church!” That’s not proof. That’s called begging the question.

This has been his argument all along...the apostles were deceived by the Devil or Christ was a sinner, it's a tiresome argument that I have rebutted on this blog several times.
 Here is the post in question where he supposedly rebutted my defense of Transubstantiation. As I said not much of a rebuttal. But let's look at it. 
Deceived by the Devil: Doesn't hold water Christ told his believers unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall not have life within you. Jn. 6:54-55. Jesus in fact adamantly over the course of  John 6 tells his listeners some 12 times that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. I don't know about anyone else but if God tells me something 12 times I might listen to Him.

His other argument about Christ being a sinner stems from his errant belief that if Christ told his disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood before the "fulfillment" of the law that makes Him a sinner. I pointed out that He abrogated the law by issuing the command to eat His flesh. Not so says my opponent after all the law wasn't fulfilled. His argument stems from Jesus saying It is finished must be the fulfillment of the law. I referred him to a post from Shameless Popery where Joe investigated what exactly was finished... 
I don't think he read it because he continues to parrot this argument. Regardless Christ was fully divine therefore even in the Incarnation a part of Him exists with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the eternal Now. When you are outside of time all things are currently the present so it doesn't really matter when something happens in earthly time. 
Also notice the quip here about "The early church,"
3. They quoted, used, knew and taught ergo believed in the Septuagint
(a.)Many people knew the Septuagint, (b.)show me where the Septuagint is quoted, (c.)show me where they show their faith in the Septuagint.

Point a here is self evident so we won't go there. Point b is something I have done many times, showing him numerous references to the sheer volume of NT quotations that come directly from the LXX canon. This link from Scripture Catholic was largely ignored, or made fun of in previous discussions. Now to point C logic dictates that the Lord and the Apostles would quote from Scripture that which they believed to be Scripture. Ergo the Septuagint was considered Scripture by the Lord and the Apostles

4. They submitted to the authority of the Church
They submitted to the authority of the Lord God Christ, not the church. Insofar as a minister of the Word of God is in accordance with the Word of God that person is to be listened to. Your religion contradicts the Word of God at many points. Therefore, it is not to be listened to. I say that on the authority of Christ, the only Head of His Church.

Once again let's look to Scripture shall we: Acts 15 details Paul and Barnabas going to the Apostles for a decision regarding how Gentile Christians are to live among Jewish Christians. Notice here Paul was a "minister of the Word of God" appointed by Christ himself, why couldn't he merely make the decision why did he need to return to Jerusalem and meet with Kephas and James and the rest. Notice also that the council essentially ends when Kephas (Peter) says his piece. Now true James closes the council but it is Peter's words that have the entire crowd silenced. Which is of course a rebuttal to the anti-Catholic rant at the end of this point, Christ gave Peter His flock asking Peter three times to tend his sheep, feed his lambs. Jn 21:15-17.

5. They called Mary Blessed
Of course they did, and they called one another blessed. For the Scriptures say: “Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed US with EVERY spiritual blessing…” They didn’t pray to her – they knew that prayer to anyone but God is idolatry.

I won't attack this one from the Marian angle just from the Communion of Saints. I can't specifically say whether Mary was prayed to in the Early Church I would suppose she was, however I can say the Early Church did pray to the Saints for intercession. Which they continue to do today, which they did in Jesus time as well (2nd Mac. 12:42-46). Now granted the Maccabees reference is more about offering prayers for the dead.
"Even if we make images of pious men it is not that we may adore them as gods but that when we see them we might be prompted to imitate them." Cyril of Alexandria, On Psalms 113 (115) (ante A.D. 444)." This was true then and it is true now...
 "Only may that power come upon us which strengthens weakness, through the prayers of him[i.e. St. Paul] who made his own strength perfect in bodily weakness." Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 1:1(A.D. 380).
"But God forbid that any in this fair assembly should appear there suffering such things! but by the prayers of the holy fathers, correcting all our offences, and having shown forth the abundant fruit of virtue, may we depart hence with much confidence." John Chrysostom, On Statues, Homily 6:19 (A.D. 387).

Darn it, it looks like early Christians thought highly of the intercession of Saints....No wonder he didn't want me to use them in my argument. 

6. They taught 7 sacraments
lol. Where? Show me from the Scriptures. 

Evidently he thinks the Sacraments are funny...Curious. This one I think will be merely Scripture references without comment.
Baptism: Already covered but St. Paul details how baptism is the new circumcision many times in his epistles. 
Eucharist: John 6, Luke 22:19-20, Mk. 14:22-24, Mt. 26:26-28, 1st Cor. 11:23-26
Confirmation: Acts 8:14-17, Acts 19:5-6, Heb. 6:2, Rev. 9:4
Marriage: Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18
Ordination: Acts 6:6, Numbers 27:18
Confession: Jn 20:20-23
Anointing of the Sick: Mk. 6:13, James 5:14-15

7. They didn't believe Sola anything
They believed in Sola Scriptura (2 Tim 3:14-17, Ps 119, etc),

No, Protestant proof text be damned, they didn't. Reading the passage from 2nd Timothy it is clear that St. Paul is encouraging Timothy in knowledge of the Old Testament as he directs him to the Sacred Writings he had known since childhood. Seeing as the New Testament was as yet unfinished this can't be an appeal to Sola Scriptura. Nice try. Ps. 119 is great let your words be a lamp unto my feet, light unto my path sure...but it doesn't preclude other things. Also St. Paul makes numerous references to Traditions (paradosis in Greek) which are unwritten and handed on by word of mouth. 
Sola Fide (Gen 15:3, James 1:18, James 2:23, Eph 2:8-10, Romans 3-4, John 3:16, etc), 

When Paul speaks of works, he is generally referring to "works of law" (read also Galatians) which refer to works done under the Mosaic law. The Jews believed that they still had to perform their ritual works to be saved (e.g., circumcision). In Acts 15, Peter declared that circumcision was no longer required for salvation. We are saved by grace, not works. When Paul refers to "works," he is also referring to any type of work where we attempt to obligate God and make him a debtor to us. The Jews were attempting to do this in their rigid system of law. 
James's poor misunderstood, proof-texted, epistle also doesn't teach Sola Fide no matter how much anyone wants it to. James 2:20-24 in totality repeatedly says that faith needs works. In fact vs. 24 says Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?
So if you torture the Scripture you can make it say Sola Fide, that doesn't make it right.
To be fair I edited his comment here and chose merely to address the two most heretical solas. 

8. They believed in a ministerial priesthood
Scripture please. You’ve asserted this before and when I asked for Scripture you ignored me. “Show me the [Scripture]!” 

Mt. 28:19 Baptism is a priestly function, The Last Supper instruction to do that in remembrance of Him is a priestly function...Forgiving of sins was a priestly function...

9. In fact they had Bishops, Priests and Deacons
Those words are used in the New Testament, but they don’t refer to what you think they refer to :/

Oh really Inigo Montoya...Why because you don't want them to? Or do you have an actual argument here? Have those offices changed in 2000 years, certainly. Has the office of President changed in the US over the last 300 years, certainly. Does that mean Barack Obama is more or less President than George Washington (politics aside), no of course not.

10. They refrained from eating meat on certain days...
I’m sure some of them did. Paul admits this much in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10, you know, those passages where he explicitly refutes your religion on this matter and says:

Again not much more to report here than his anti-Catholic rantings. These verses do not refute Catholicism, they merely show that judging others for what they chose to do in regards to eating is sinful. But I suppose it's a nice try....

It is more than clear that the only reason to refuse to entertain the thoughts of early Christians is purely because it undermines his argument that he somehow holds the faith of the Apostles. It shows an intriguing amount of intellectual dishonesty.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tying Up Some Loose Ends....

In recent posts I wrote a defense of  Transubstantiation and showed some writings from Ignatius of Antioch. It occurred to me today that the two dovetail nicely into a third topic. That topic being the idea that one of Catholicism's bedrock claims for Transubstantiation relies on John 6. Ignatius was a student of John's and he was so blatantly Eucharistic in his thinking so clearly a defender of the Real Presence that that should speak volumes to us about the topic.

Now if John was the last living apostle (tradition says he was), and one of his students teaching from one of his texts says that we are to take Christ literally in the account of the Bread of Life Discourse (Jn. 6:48-70); wouldn't he (John) have done something (written something against Ignatius, counseled others that he (Ignatius) was "off the reservation", something, anything).

It stands to reason it's not like the early church was free of disagreement or that the Church Father's didn't know how to call someone out for teaching what they thought was heresy. I mean I realize this was a couple hundred years later but just look at how St. Jerome hands Rufinus his ass:

"I have learned not only from your letter but from those of many others that cavils are raised against me in the school of Tyrannus, "by the tongue of my dogs from the enemies by himself" because I have translated the books Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν into Latin. What unprecedented shamelessness is this! They accuse the physician for detecting the poison: and this in order to protect their vendor of drugs, not in obtaining the reward of innocence but in his partnership with the criminal; as if the number of the offenders diminished the crime, or as if the accusation depended on our personal feelings not on the facts. Pamphlets are written against me; they are forced on every one's attention; and yet they are not openly published, so that the hearts of the simple are disturbed, and no opportunity is given me of answering."

So clearly church fathers knew how to disagree. Now returning to the topic at hand, men of goodwill can and have disagreed mightily about the Lord's words in John's Gospel as well as other passages Catholics proclaim as teaching the Real Presence; however if a student of the last living apostle was already that far afield how can any of us proclaim the Truth, unless of course that was Truth.

After all John was (to borrow from the six degrees of separation idea) one degree from Christ; ergo Ignatius was only two. Now if someone two degrees from Christ was preaching, teaching and expounding on the idea that He was fully, truly present in the Eucharist. If that wasn't the catholic view, then when did such heresy began and take such root to be the Catholic view.

After all if Christ couldn't maintain His promise to lead us into all truth (Jn. 16:13) or that the Gates of Hades wouldn't prevail against His church (Matt. 16:18). Then He also failed to be with us always even unto the end of the age (Mt. 28:20).

After all Ignatius was as I said living mere decades after Christ and he taught a Real Presence. If that was false then, it would still be false today. However as we see in John 6:55. Christ promises to raise us up on the last day if we "eat His flesh and drink His blood." has a great selection of quotes from the Early Fathers discussing the Eucharist and the Real Presence. Some of which have been mentioned in this space before.

And if you missed Joe's recent post at Shameless Popery about the Early Church remaining silent in the face of this "heresy" check it out.

Another great post of recent vintage is this one from Brantley over at Young, Evangelical and Catholic.

So if this is such a grave heresy, where is the evidence? Has that big, evil, monolithic Catholic church merely destroyed it all in order to maintain power? Is it hidden in some wing of the Vatican Archives, or could it maybe, just maybe be that Catholics have held the same view for lo, these 2,000 years because the Apostles handed that view on and succeeding generations maintained it as part of the Deposit of Faith.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts on Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius studied under the Apostle John and became a bishop in Antioch, one of the main hubs of early Christianity. Ignatius also wrote letters so Catholic in their theological bent that John Calvin denounced them as forgeries. That's my kind of Church Father.

Here is an example of the venom Calvin laid out against Ignatius:
"With regard to what they pretend as to Ignatius, if they would have it to be of the least importance, let them prove that the apostles enacted laws concerning Lent, and other corruptions. Nothing can be more nauseating, than the absurdities which have been published under the name of Ignatius; and therefore, the conduct of those who provide themselves with such masks for deception is the less entitled to toleration."
Emphasis added

That's right Ignatius was nauseating to Calvin; let's have a gander at why that might be:

Ignatius on the Eucharist: 

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.
Epistle to the Smyrnaeans Chp. 7

Ignatius on the Authority of Bishops/The Church:

Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him. For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, (Matthew 24:25) as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself. And indeed Onesimus himself greatly commends your good order in God, that you all live according to the truth, and that no sect has any dwelling-place among you. Nor, indeed, do you hearken to any one rather than to Jesus Christ speaking in truth.
Epistle to the Ephesians Chp. 6

Now it becomes you also not to treat your bishop too familiarly on account of his youth, but to yield him all reverence, having respect to the power of God the Father, as I have known even holy presbyters do, not judging rashly, from the manifest youthful appearance [of their bishop], but as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all. It is therefore fitting that you should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey [your bishop], in honour of Him who has willed us [so to do], since he that does not so deceives not [by such conduct] the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible. And all such conduct has reference not to man, but to God, who knows all secrets.
Epistle to the Magnesians Chp. 3

As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do anything without the bishop and presbyters. Neither endeavour that anything appear reasonable and proper to yourselves apart; but being come together into the same place, let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is more excellent. Therefore run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.
Magnesians Chp. 7

In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrim [sic] of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church. Concerning all this, I am persuaded that you are of the same opinion. For I have received the manifestation of your love, and still have it with me, in your bishop, whose very appearance is highly instructive, and his meekness of itself a power; whom I imagine even the ungodly must reverence, seeing they are also pleased that I do not spare myself. But shall I, when permitted to write on this point, reach such a height of self-esteem, that though being a condemned man, I should issue commands to you as if I were an apostle?
To the Trallians Chp. 3

Wherefore, as children of light and truth, flee from division and wicked doctrines; but where the shepherd is, there follow as sheep. For there are many wolves that appear worthy of credit, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry captive (2 Timothy 3:6) those that are running towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place.
To the Philadelphians Chp. 2

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.
To the Smyrnaeans Chp. 8

No wonder Calvin didn't like this guy, he is almost obnoxiously Catholic. What with all that Real Presence talk and submitting to the authority of the Church. Perhaps we should all strive to be a little more like him.

And if you want to see true faith in action read his Epistle to the Romans, dealing with his impending martyrdom.

All quotations from New Advent's section on the Church Fathers available here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 3

--- 1 ---

For now I am officially off the Rick Perry bandwagon. Taking a stand on principles, I know he has distanced himself from Robert Jeffress, but one of my reasons for not liking Obama was the company he kept. It would be disingenuous to do otherwise with any candidate in this election. That being said if I have to vote for Mr. Perry to try and limit Obama to a single term I will do so.

--- 2 ---

I had a dream the other night that Tommy stood up and took a step. I love dreams like that. They tend to make me a little sad, but the happiness outweighs the sad. Plus it was neat to see him struggle to his feet and take one step before he got his legs all tangled up like he is wont to do. Also it helps to remind me to pray for the grace of God to heal him, or at least help him develop some skills.

--- 3 ---

In light of my recent post on Transubstantiation, I think a full treatment of some of the Eucharistic Miracles is in order but for now here's a look at one of the more well-known:


Miracle of the Rosary has a story as well

--- 4 ---

Time to highlight one of my favorite blogs. Brantley Millegan does great work over at Young, Evangelical, and Catholic. If you aren't reading his stuff. Get to his page now, well okay finish reading mine first. He does a great job at highlighting and defending essential aspects of the faith.

--- 5 ---

I hate being out of work, it's so easy to get down on myself. So easy to think I am a failure because I am not taking care of my family. Here's hoping that I find work soon.

--- 6 ---

If you ever wanted to read papal documents, the encyclicals and what not there are a couple of great places to find them. The Vatican website of course has from Benedict XVI back to Leo XIII. If you really want to dig into history, and read say the Bull of Excommunication for Martin Luther or the Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council. head to
I like to copy them to word documents and send them to my kindle.
--- 7 ---
My revised World Series prediction: Milwaukee vs. Texas....

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Defense of Transubstantiation

Buckle up everyone as we are about to take a tour through perhaps the oldest doctrine of Roman Catholicism. In our tour I will define, explain, defend and prove that the idea of Transubstantiation is not only biblical, historical and necessary, but also truth itself.

Let's start with definition of a few key terms:
  • Transubstantiation: The belief held by Catholics (and all Christians until the Protestant Era) that during the words of consecration the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper become truly His Body and Blood, in a real and sacramental way. 
  • Real Presence: The belief that Christ is really and substantially present in both species of the Eucharist. 
  • Consubstantiation: Martin Luther's teaching that the bread and Christ are both present in the Host. Rejected by Catholics and later "Reformers" alike. Those reformers after Luther maintained a strictly symbolic view of the Eucharist.
I have mentioned in this space an ongoing debate I was having on Facebook. My opponent quit the debate but posted his refutation of the doctrine at his blog here

So in many ways this shall serve as my answer to him as well as just a good chance to examine a core Catholic belief.

The crux of the whole argument comes down to a few key passages from Scripture.

For starters John 6: 48-70 is a passage known as the Bread of Life discourse. It is one of Jesus' longest teachings in John's Gospel. In the course of that teaching Jesus instructs his followers that if they desire eternal life they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Jesus counterweighs this radical, and obviously scandalous new teaching by discussing the manna in the desert. We know from Scripture that the manna was considered among the holiest of holy things as the Jewish people kept a jar of it in the Ark (Heb 9:4).

In Psalm 78: 24-25 we see the manna called the bread of Heaven; the bread of the angels. This was indeed special bread. Reading from a strict typological perspective the New Testament bread from Heaven must be even more spectacular. Indeed Christ tells us He is the new bread of life, the new Manna from Heaven.

Now some raise the point that Levitical law prohibited the drinking of blood. Indeed it did, however Christ as the fulfillment of the old law abrogates that, as He commands the people that if they wish to be raised on the last day they must eat My flesh and drink my blood. Christ clears this up at the end of the discourse after many people "drew away and no longer walked with Him... (John 6:67)." Christ looks to the Twelve; asking them will you also go away? St. Peter answers Him in the negative. The apostles have heard and don't quite understand but again they know that Christ is the "Son of God."

There is a similar passage in Matthew 5:21-35. Wherein Jesus abrogates or in some cases strengthens portions of the Mosaic law.

With those points out of the way let's investigate some claims made against the doctrine by my opponent. He cites Luke 24:38-39 as somehow proof that Christ had no blood in His resurrected body. An interesting claim, but one without an exegetical basis. For in Genesis 2:23 Adam refers to Eve as flesh and bone...does that mean she has not blood within her? After all this is before the fall she is immaculately created, so her body should in fact be every bit identical (save basic gender differences) to Christ's resurrected body.

Further St. Ambrose of Milan uses those very verses (Lk. 24:39) to defend Transubstantiation:

123. If, then, there has neither been a time when the Life of the Son took a commencement, nor any power to which it has been subjected, let us consider what His meaning was when He said: Even as the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father? Let us expound His meaning as best we can; nay, rather let Him expound it Himself.
124. Take notice, then, what He said in an earlier part of His discourse. Verily, verily, I say unto you. He first teaches you how you ought to listen. Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall have no life in you. John 6:54 He first premised that He was speaking as Son of Man; do you then think that what He has said, as Son of Man, concerning His Flesh and His Blood, is to be applied to His Godhead?
125. Then He added: For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink [indeed]. John 6:56 You hear Him speak of His Flesh and of His Blood, you perceive the sacred pledges, [conveying to us the merits and power] of the Lord's death, John 6:52 and you dishonour His Godhead. Hear His own words: A spirit has not flesh and bones. Luke 24:39 Now we, as often as we receive the Sacramental Elements, which by the mysterious efficacy of holy prayer are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood, do show the Lord's Death.

When I pointed this passage out to my opponent I was accused of proof-texting. Right, because I need to pull one quote by one father to support my view. He also submits that there is a "disagreement" on what Ambrose meant, I submit it is no disagreement it is merely Protestant academics attempting to cast shadows to support their theologically novel doctrines. Ambrose is evidently being targeted now as they failed to do the same with Augustine.

Further to dispel his biggest argument, hardly merits discussion other than to quickly correct his false explanation. Reminds me of what Abp. Sheen once said "There are not even 100 people in this country who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church to be." I think the late Archbishop even expanded on that frequent remark adding that even Catholics would hate the church if it was what it was purported to be.

Now Catholics as I say do believe in the Real Presence of Christ. However while that Presence is Real it is a Sacramental presence. Meaning that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is contained in that consecrated bread and wine. In other words He is not physically present, but that Presence is still literal.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood...the Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering.153
1336 The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"158 The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?":159 The Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life"160 and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.
1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."199 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."200 "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."201
1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. the Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion.
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."204

My opponent also claims that this doctrine cannot be true because Christ or the Apostles did not teach it. This is a rather weak case of arguing from silence and I believe he knows that to be true in his heart. For if they did not teach this doctrine where was the outrage when certain of the father's taught it to be true. Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr. Ignatius is especially damning of his argument since he learned from the Apostle John. Yet he proclaimed the truth of the Real Presence. If someone who learned from an Apostle held and taught this to be true and there were no cries of heresy from the other bishops or fathers to be heard than in fact that must have been the universal teaching of Holy Mother Church.

Edited to Add: For another thing if  the Apostles didn't teach a Real Presence/Transubstantiation view, then St. Paul's warning to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:27) is ridiculously overblown. To in essence be called guilty of murder for unworthy consumption of  a symbol is a bit much.

As to the supposed moral dilemma presented by my opponent:

"The Lord tells His people that He does not change;[3] therefore, the command to literally eat literal flesh and literally drink literal blood cannot be a command from God. For the Lord expressly forbids the eating of meat with blood still in it, as well as the drinking of blood; both of these practices were pagan abominations which the Lord strictly commanded Israel to not engage in."

Has he ever eaten a piece of meat cooked short of being charcoal? For that would be a sin as he points out. He is trying to have it both ways. Either we are still under the Mosaic law or we are under the New Covenant. We can't be both. Further, if God cannot change then the Mosaic law still applies, period. As to his opinion that the Jerusalem Council kept the Mosaic law for the new Gentile converts that seems to stretch the text to an unusual degree.

Some scholars think that this apostolic decree suggested by James, the immediate leader of the Jerusalem community, derives from another historical occasion than the meeting in question. This seems to be the case if the meeting is the same as the one related in Gal 2:1–10. According to that account, nothing was imposed upon Gentile Christians in respect to Mosaic law; whereas the decree instructs Gentile Christians of mixed communities to abstain from meats sacrificed to idols and from blood-meats, and to avoid marriage within forbidden degrees of consanguinity and affinity.

However regarding one other point here it is crucial to note that while Christ instituted the Eucharist while He was still in his incarnated flesh, it was not celebrated by the Apostles until after the Resurrection. Thus the law had been fulfilled. Moreover this view doesn't in any way preclude the institution at the Last Supper from being identical to the Sacrament celebrated to this day, confected by the successors of the Apostles, the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church.

After all Christ doesn't tell His Apostles after my Resurrection this will be my body. And as St. Augustine pointed out the Psalms speak to this moment:

" 'And was carried in His Own Hands:' how 'carried in His Own Hands'? Because when He commended His Own Body and Blood, He took into His Hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said, 'This is My Body.' "

As I mentioned even Martin Luther maintained a belief in some sort of Real Presence. He merely taught a heretical, theologically novel position on it. However certain other "Reformers" chief among them Huldrich Zwingli taught that the lesson in John 6 was intended merely as a symbol. Zwingli to prove his case pulled a single verse, Jn 6:63 and declared that Christ's teaching that the flesh was of no avail clearly intended a symbolic reading of all the preceding text.

This is absurdly false for several reasons; not the least of which is that Christ didn't say His flesh was of no avail. For we know it avails much, after all it was Christ's flesh through which it was prophesied "By His stripes we are healed. (Is 53:5)" It is also false because it presupposes the word spirit to mean symbolic. If that is the case then Jesus tells us God is merely a symbol in Jn. 4:24.

Finally perhaps a poetic defense is in order. The Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas wrote numerous poems and hymns about the topic, which even his own massive intellect couldn't rationally explain. My favorite happens to be the Adoro Te Devote:

 Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
 Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory's sight. Amen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 2

--- 1 ---

Well my World Series prediction is halfway to wrong, since Tampa Bay lost. But the Phillies are still in it. So I could still end up right on the winner.

--- 2 ---

I've been thinking for a little bit (read since late last night sometime, seeing as Tommy kept me up till 2 am) that I would like to add some of the more important Papal Documents (i.e. encyclicals, Bulls, perhaps some of the important Conciliar docs) to my Kindle. So I think I see the easiest way to do it is to save them in word and email them to my Kindle, let Amazon do the converting for me. Now if I could just find a Kindle version of the Catechism, I'd be good to go. 

--- 3 ---

Got up the mountain one time last weekend for a little bird hunting. Saw 3, maybe four birds. Hurried one shot, came home empty handed. But I got to see some nature and have a little fun. Didn't end up taking the Tomster. I need to this weekend, he sure likes bouncing up and down that hill.

--- 4 ---

My dad had an endoscopy of his throat and lungs this morning. Everything looked clean from what the Dr. told my mom. So praise be to God for that. Now if they could just figure out what's causing his cough.

--- 5 ---

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. I should be more dedicated in praying the Rosary, it's not like its hard, and I know most of the prayers (I have to cheat a little for the Hail Holy Queen and Apostles Creed), but for some reason I never make time to say it. Which is weird because it invariably makes me feel better when I am done.

--- 6 ---

I'd be remiss to not point out that earlier this week was the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was a great reformer of the Church in the early middle ages. He also was a great lover of nature. Surely you are familiar with statues of him surrounded by animals. He was also my pick for my confirmation patron saint. I know he has prayed with and for me for strength as I have passed through rough periods in my life. In fact I seemingly just starting praying the prayer of St. Francis and the O Divine Master for no reason, then suddenly come to some challenge and feel fortified.

--- 7 ---
If you haven't read Brant Pitre's Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist,get on it. That book is solid theological gold for explaining and defending the Eucharistic theology of Catholicism. Pitre does it through the lens of what first century Jews would have intrinsically understood when Jesus spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Amazing book.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Which Came First?

The chicken or the egg? Ok, so today's post will not be about that at all. Rather let's look at which came first the Church, or the Bible and how that informs how denominations view themselves in light of that.

According to the Catholic viewpoint, the Church, Christ's spotless bride came first. In fact Christ Himself instituted it by according Peter a share in the powers He Himself holds in Heaven. In Matt. 16:13-20 Jesus blesses Simon, changes his name and gives him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Pretty weighty stuff, followed in a couple chapters by Christ conferring some of that same authority on the other eleven bishops (Matt. 18:18) of His church.

Christ before His death promised to send another (The Holy Spirit) to guide the church into all truth (Jn. 16:13). The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost and they began to go out into the world preaching the Good News (Gospel) that the Messiah had come, been crucified and had risen again.

On that first Pentecost St. Peter urged repentance and baptism for the gathered crowd and 3,000 people were added that day(Acts 2:38-41).  

"Only five out of the twelve wrote down anything at all that has been preserved to us; and of that, not a line was penned till at least 10 years after the death of Christ, for Jesus Christ was crucified in 33 A.D., and the first of the New Testament books was not written till about 45 A.D. You see what follows? The Church and the Faith existed before the Bible." An important point as Henry Graham noted more than 100 years ago, in his collection of essays Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church:

"Thousands of people became Christians through the work of the Apostles and missionaries of Christ in various lands, and believed the whole truth of God as we believe it now, and became saints, before ever they saw or read, or could possibly see or read, a single sentence of inspired Scripture of the New Testament, for the simple reason that such Scripture did not then exist. How, then, did they become Christians? In the same way, of course, that Pagans become Catholics nowadays, by hearing the truth of God from the lips of Christ's missionaries."

Graham goes on to make the point that Neither St. Paul, nor any of the other writers of what became the New Testament would likely have felt all that great about their work being intended as the sole Regula Fide of Christianity (as the leaders of the Protestant Rebellion would attempt to make it 1500 years in the future.

"And we can imagine St Paul staring in amazement if he had been told that his Epistles, and St Peter's and St. John's, and the others would be tied up together and elevated into the position of a complete and exhaustive statement of the doctrines of Christianity, to be placed in each man's hand as an easy and infallible guide in faith and morals, independent of any living and teaching authority to interpret them...
No one would have been more shocked at the idea of his letters usurping the place of the authoritative teacher—the Church, than the great Apostle who himself said, 'How shall they hear without a preacher? how shall they preach unless they be sent? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ...True, he [St. Paul] was an Apostle, and consequently inspired, and his letters are the written Word of God, and therefore are a final and decisive authority on the various points of which they treat, if properly understood; but that does not alter the fact that they nowhere claim to state the whole of Christian truth, or to be a complete guide of salvation to anyone; they already presuppose the knowledge of the Christian faith among those to whom they are addressed; they are written to believers, not to unbelievers; in one word, the Church existed and did its work before they were written, and it would still have done so, even though they had never been written at all."

Graham goes on to make the Catholic Church's point that the totality of Scriptures (particularly the New Testament) are Her book, to Her alone was it entrusted.

"What follows from this is self-evident. The same authority which made and collected and preserved these books alone has the right to claim them as her own, and to say what the meaning of them is. The Church of St. Paul and St. Peter and St. James in the first century was the same Church as that of the Council of Carthage and of St. Augustine in the fourth, and of the Council of Florence in the fifteenth, and the Vatican in the nineteenth—one and the same body—growing and developing, certainly, as every living thing must do, but still preserving its identity and remaining essentially the same body, as a man of 80 is the same person as he was at 40, and the same person at 40 as he was at 2."

"Rome claims that the Bible is her book; that she has preserved it and perpetuated it, and that she alone knows what it means; that nobody else has any right to it whatsoever, or any authority to declare what the true meaning of it is. She therefore has declared that the work of translating it from the original languages, and of explaining it, and of printing it and publishing it, belongs strictly to her alone; and that, if she cannot nowadays prevent those outside her fold from tampering with it and misusing it, at least she will take care that none of her own children abuse it or take liberties with it; and hence she forbids any private person to attempt to translate it into the common language without authority from ecclesiastical superiors, and also forbids the faithful to read any editions but such as are approved by the Bishops."

 Because of the facts of history (namely the Church existing before the writing, compiling and codifying of what Graham terms the Christian Scripture) we (Catholics) have two fountainheads of Divine Revelation (Scripture and Tradition). Neither one contradicts the other and neither one contains the totality of the other. As then Cardinal Ratzinger (now of course Pope Benedict XVI) notes in God's Word (pg. 71)

"We can further note that the New Testament Scriptures do not appear as one principle alongside apostolic tradition; still less (as is the case with us), do the New Testament Scriptures, together with the Old Testament, stand as one single entity “Scripture”, which could be contrasted with “tradition” as a second entity. Rather, the complex of New Testament event and reality appears together as a developing dual yet single principle, that of gospel; as such, it is contrasted, on the one hand, with the Old Testament and, on the other, with the specific events in the subsequent age of the Church."

So Catholics have as Pope Benedict pointed out a concept of "gospel" that encompasses not merely Scripture but also all of those things that weren't written down (Jn. 21:25). St. Paul speaks many times of these traditions and urges his charges in various letters to carry on those things.  

It wasn't until Martin Luther in the 1500's when those Traditions came under attack as somehow less than the true deposit of Faith (2nd Tim. 1:13-14). Luther and those who followed after him tried to divorce the book from the church "The pillar and foundation of the Truth" (1st Tim. 3:15). We can see how well that worked out for them by the sheer number of Protestant denominations all claiming they follow the Bible alone.

Pope Benedict answered the idea of Sola Scriptura in God's Word:

"Trent had established that the truth of the gospel was contained “in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus”. That was (and is to this day) interpreted as meaning that Scripture does not contain the whole Veritas evangelii and that no sola scriptura principle is therefore possible, since part of the truth of revelation reaches us only through tradition." (Ratzinger pg. 48)
Beyond that however, we see in the disunity of Mainline Protestantism how Scripture is not perspicuous, especially given the wide ranging disagreements on things like infant baptism, communion, and the number of sacraments. 

As Graham noted the Protestant idea quickly devolves into absurdity: 

On the Catholic plan (so to call it) of salvation through the teaching of the Church, souls may be saved and people become saints, and believe and do all that Jesus Christ meant them to believe and do,—and, as a matter of fact, this has happened—in all countries and in all ages without either the written or the printed Bible, and both before and after its production. The Protestant theory, on the contrary, which stakes a man's salvation on the possession of the Bible, leads to the most flagrant absurdities, imputes to Almighty God a total indifference to the salvation of the countless souls that passed hence to eternity for 1500 years, and indeed ends logically in the blasphemous conclusion that our Blessed Lord failed to provide an adequate means of conveying to men in every age the knowledge of His truth.

Clearly the Church antedates the Bible and as such holds a certain authority regarding the Bible. None of this disputes the material sufficiency of the Scriptures if read without the aid of Holy Mother Church to effect salvation; however it is not the way that was intended in the Divine Plan.

As Pope Benedict points out after all:

"What kind of meaning does talk about “the sufficiency of Scripture” still have, then? Does it not threaten to become a dangerous self-deception, with which we deceive ourselves, first of all, and then others (or perhaps do not in fact deceive them!)?" (ibid. pg 49)

So if the church precedes the Bible, doesn't it then make sense to be in communion with the church that begat the bible; the one church appointed to preserve, protect and defend it as it were.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 1

--- 1 ---

Let's start with the most important item of the day: Today is the last day to flood Health and Human Services with calls and emails, letting them know we disagree with their conscience violating mandate in the new healthcare takeover. The mandate forces hospitals and insurance companies to cover contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. Since Tommy's primary hospital is the wonderful Sacred Heart Children's in Spokane, this issue hits home for me on a couple fronts. I don't want to see Holy Mother Church have to stand up for Herself by shuttering hospitals.

Contact the (allegedly) Catholic Secretary of HHS, and give her an ear full.
Phone:   (202) 690–7000
Read Catholicvote's take here.
--- 2 ---

Here we are a month into grouse hunting season and I haven't been out more than three times. Sad. I think this weekend may be time to load Tommy up and take him out to bounce along those rutted old roads up Moscow Mountain and see if we can find some birds

--- 3 ---

Well, I am now officially unemployed again. My "season" with Dr. Pepper is now over. While I hate being out of work I am somewhat glad to be done with this job. It wasn't a good fit from the start. So now the search for employment begins anew.

--- 4 ---

Saw Moneyball last night: Darn good movie. Brad Pitt was really good in it. This is one movie I won't necessarily say "The book was better..." about. Although it was. It is really like they were two different takes on the same story. The movie had to be a little different than the book, just by the nature of the story it told. Anyway I definitely recommend it, plus it just helped me get fired up for the playoffs which start today.

--- 5 ---

Another good viewing experience had lately at Casa de Musings was The Conspirator. It is the Robert Redford directed story of the military tribunal held that convicted Mary Surratt as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination plot. Even knowing the historical facts of the case I was riveted. As much as I like Redford as an actor I believe he has done some of his best work as a director.

--- 6 ---

My World Series Pick: Phillies vs. Rays. Phillies in 6. Starting pitching is just too good in Philly. That with an offense that can explode at times, but seemingly always just does enough to win gives Philly the title.

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Since Jen at Conversion Diary is trying to come up with some of these: My favorite pithy Saint quote is this one from St. Augustine:
Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.

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