"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I am Catholic

On Sunday, my wife, my four daughters and I were received into the Church. My wife and I received the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation (something I could never achieve as a Pentecostal), and I received my first holy Communion. I was shaking like a leaf up there (literally) because of the importance of the occasion and what I knew was about to happen and was embarrassed for that, but when Father Dufner raised his hand to bless us before our confirmation I felt immediately and physically calmed down. I'm not saying it was supernatural or whatever, but it felt like it to me. Anyway that was strange and very cool. A strange salty liquid came from my eyes during the consecration which my wife later told me were tears. ;-) I pulled myself together until it was time to go forward to receive Christ. The amazing full choir started "let all mortal flesh keep silent" and I had to will my body to move like in a fog. One of those moments when time did really and actually slow down. I tried not to think too much about the gift I was receiving in the Eucharist because I thought I might not make it through. My two oldest girls who were in front of me got a blessing and walked the wrong way away from our pew and I didn't even notice! (my wife told me later) What an amazing thing to receive a gift like that! I thought I knew the way God loved us before... as in "A lot". Now I don't think I would dare try to explain the extent of it. Seeing His Body layed on an altar for me and then being invited to partake of His sacrifice was the most... sacred... thing I have ever experienced in my life. I am convinced that God's love can never be explained now. It can begin to be understood by participating in a mass, but words words will just fail. It as if every sermon on God's love I ever heard was saying "I just told you about God's love, now go to a mass and let Christ show you!" As I walked weakly back to my pew and knelt down I thought to myself that this is more than just me partaking of His sacrifice. I realized that what I was in the process of eating was going to become part of my body. (Me becoming part of His Body more properly I think) This thought drove home forcefully the idea that I was being set aside for the same sacrifice I had just witnessed, again, no words necessary, it was all there to witness. The sacrifice of the mass explains these things in what is said, but even more in what happens. Absolutely beautiful!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May the miracle of the incarnation overwhelm you this Christmas. From David, Bridget, Annabel, Noel, Violet, and Penelope.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Being recieved into the Church Dec. 19

Holy Family Catholic Church, St. Louis Park, MN This December 19th, which is the fourth Sunday of Advent, I will be recieved into Christ's Church, the Catholic Church. My wife and I will both be confirmed as well. My wife Bridget is a revert so only needs confession and confirmation. I can't express my feelings about all of this properly. It is... sublime, but at the same time strange and frightening. My family is so very blessed and I thank God that He lifted the scales from our eyes to see His Church. In our meetings with our Priest, Fr. Thomas Dufner, he has often asked what questions I have for him, or pointing out some doctrine that is radically different from my Reformed past he will ask if I understand it. My reply has been "That is why I am here, I want it all". In our first meeting, he drew a picture of Luther's snow covered dunghill on a piece of paper, and gave a very good description of the crucial difference between my former religion and my new one. Is the dung (me) covered with snow (imputation) or is it changed into snow (infusion)? When the question came to Papal infallibility, I said "that is why I am here, bring it on!" I want whatever Christ has to offer, and therefore whatever his Church has, I want it! Our church is just an amazing place filled with very holy people. There will be plenty of oportunities for spiritual growth for us if we look to their example! I am reminded of Chesterton's three stages of conversion now that I am reaching the culmination of the third stage. The first is giving the Catholic Church a fair viewing, or just being objective with it. The second is a result of the first... being aware of the percieved falsehoods as well as the stunning truths of the faith, and being excited and amazed at the quantity and quality of the truths. The third I will just let Chesterton himself give: It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair. The man has exactly the same sense of having committed or compromised himself; of having been in a sense entrapped, even if he is glad to be entrapped. But for a considerable time he is not so much glad as simply terrified. It may be that this real psychological experience has been misunderstood by stupider people and is responsible for all that remains of the legend that Rome is a mere trap. But that legend misses the whole point of the psychology. It is not the Pope who has set the trap or the priests who have baited it. The whole point of the position is that the trap is simply the truth. The whole point is that the man himself has made his way towards the trap of truth, and not the trap that has run after the man. All steps except the last step he has taken eagerly on his own account, out of interest in the truth; and even the last step, or the last stage, only alarms him because it is so very true. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CONVERSION BY G. K. CHESTERTON As I prepare to take that last step, the image comes to mind of the Jewish High Priest having a rope tied around his ankle when he went in to sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood of the lamb on the day of atonement. (the rope was to pull him out if he didn't uh-hum make it out). How much more sacred and profound an event I will participate in when I finally recieve the Lord's Body and Blood in the Eucharist. I might come to mass with a rope around my ankle. Any local Twin City readers can come and celebrate with us at the 9am mass on Dec. 19. Directions in the link under the picture above.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turretin says: "It's all about conscience, dude."

(From my response to Matthew Schultz in the previous post:) Here is the quote from Francis Turretin again for reference. As you put it, he is referring someone who disagrees with the decisions of his local church authority: “...they ought to undertake nothing rashly or disorderly and unseasonably, so as to violently rend the body of their mother, but to refer the difficulties they feel to their church and either to prefer her public opinion to their own private judgment or to secede from her communion, if the conscience cannot acquiesce in her judgment. Thus they cannot bind the inner court of conscience, except inasmuch as they are found to agree with the word of God” (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 3 [Phillipsburg: P&R, 1997], 284). Refering to my claim that sola Scriptura requires the right of the individual to identify the church You said: "As for the meat of the matter, it is unclear how this "right" is "required" given what you've said. Perhaps it is because your language is confusing given the stage of inquiry in your critique. To say someone has the right to "identify" the Church suggests a time before one has completed such an identification. Do you mean something like re-identify? Or, really, the right to break fellowship with the Church? Yes, both. Although for the Protestant I would put it completely in the "re-identify" category because of the need to identify based on "apostolicity". For the Catholic, with apostolic succession, it is nearly all the former "initial" type with a dash of the latter (keeping on the lookout for heretical bishops that break communion with Rome). I mean, the Turretin quote is really clear on this. He puts this "right" squarely in the hands of the individual and it certainly is required to be in his hands considering that adherents to sola S. disagree on the identity of the church. He comes out and says basically that if your conscience says leave, then leave. As far as I can tell Turretin makes my point for me. Perhaps I am not a good communicator here, because it does just seem very clear and non-controversial. And when you say "the right to break fellowship with the Church?" that is not at all what a Catholic or a Protestant would say. NO ONE would ever think they were doing so. They would think they were moving closer to the true church. This is precisely what Turretin is talking about when he says people should follow their conscience. He is not saying they should be able to in good conscience "leave the church". He is talking about the right to identify the church. I think Arius could fully agree with Turretin and give him a big high-five. I don't see how Turretin could then fault Arius in any way considering the subjectivity in his (Turretin's) statement. You said: "If so, I don't see how that's anything of an "honest" admission, or why it would "influence" your conversion, as if this is somehow damaging to sola Scriptura." I was referring to the Turretin quote, and it was influential, because it is a very clear, concise, and orthodox (for Reformed theology) description of the nuclear fallout of sola Scriptura. (Keep in mind my view of sola Scriptura as a Protestant has been that it leads to an objective identification of the one true church). Turretin is being "honest" in this sense: I don't think he is very exited about the prospect of people doing what he says they are able to do, namely to leave their church to follow their conscience in another branch of the "church". That is something no Protestant likes to think about, but it is necessary to think about it, and Turretin gets down to the "dirty diaper" of sola Scriptura when he points out the fact that the whole thing is totally subjective. The fact that you and Keith use this quote as somehow defending sola S. is something I just don't understand. It is exactly this subjectivity that pushes people like me to the banks of the Tiber. And as for the tu quoque, the initial "identification" of the Catholic Church is just simply an order of magnitude in difference from the subjective "identification" of the church one must by necessity make constantly as a Protestant. Is the Turretin quote damaging to sola Scriptura? No, I found it to be devastating to it. And I spent two days depressed and walking around like a zombie when I realized this. (also Calvin's "let them eat cake" statement where he says a synod of true bishops should be convened to decide matters... uh ok Calvin, how?) Peace, David Meyer

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Catholic Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

The following is Keith Mathison's definition of sola Scriptura.
"The magisterial reformers argued that Scripture was the sole source of revelation, that it is to be interpreted in and by the church, and that it is to be interpreted within the context of the regula fidei."
I found it while reading here. Doesn't this sound a lot like what a Catholic would say about Scripture/Tradition? And if so, is not sola Scriptura just an emasculated Catholic doctrine? Especially if the term "sole source of revelation" is read as Scripture being materially sufficient. I mean, as far as I know Catholics don't deny that Scripture contains everything that Tradition contains and vise versa. I think a Catholic could (with proper qualification) say that at the end of the day the Scripture is his sole source of revelation. And Keith Mathison could (would!) say it as well (with proper qualification.) It is in the qualification that the subjectivity of the Protestant doctrine is revealed. The identity of the "church" is really the key here. Really what the meaty version of sola Scriptura (as opposed to solo Scriptura)is demanding is a subjective identification of what the church is. Of the three points in the statement, a Catholic only has to qualify #1. A Protestant must qualify all 3 and blush at the verbiage required for him to qualify #2 and #3.
1. Scripture is the sole source of revelation 2. it is to be interpreted in and by the church 3. it is to be interpreted within the context of the regula fidei
For the Protestant, #2 is out the window. I mean "in and by" what church? What if I disagree with that "churches" interpretation? Subjective identification (by the individual Christian) of a "church" who will do the actual interpreting mentioned in #2 is critical to the Protestant doctrine. #3 just boils down to a sort of "Vincentian cannon" for the Protestant. Which boils down to a mere Christianity that has every interpretation under the sun. So my question put another way is this: Is it fair to say that (A.) the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura first and foremost requires the right of the individual Christian to identify the church, while (B.) the Catholic doctrine of sola Scriptura (If there could be such a thing) requires a church that explicitly rejects and reverses (A.)? So as Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Luke, sola Scriptura is "true... from a certain point of view." And my main point is that the doctrine as written is not bad, but dies the death of a thousand qualifications as a Protestant doctrine. Not so as a Catholic one. After all, there is a reason why the Scriptural cannon is closed for Catholics. Scripture is complete and sufficient. And of course it needs interpreting... no one denies this. I think there may be a place for a Catholic to sometimes say "yeah, I agree with sola Scriptura... IF it means..." Perhaps granting this "sola" of the reformation in the qualified way I suggest could be way to help Protestants see the faulty assumptions underlying their view of Scripture.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Childrearing advice

You might think hard liquor is a great way to soothe baby. But trust me, they develop a tolerance and soon will drink you out of house and home.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chesterton on Abortion

"Let all the babies be born. Then let us drown those we do not like."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues?

Chesterton rocks. If you have short attention span, watch this cheesy video. If you just want to read it like a caveman, I include the words below.
What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail-foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense. The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on. I can understand the spectator saying, “This is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.” But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed? To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible. To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street. - G.K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion (1926).

Monday, November 1, 2010

When a person is not satisfied with Christ...

TurretinFan to me:
David, You’ve provided an excellent example of what happens when a person is not satisfied with Christ.
Find the exchange here. This is what he is responding to: TFan said: “Instead of having any pope, Christ is the only head of our church. For us, God’s word alone is infallible. Do you think that’s not enough? If so, why?” David M. said: It is not that I think it is not enough, your religion SHOWS me the proof it is not enough. Look around dude, where is your unity? If Protestants were unified (as Luther and Calvin perhaps thought they would be before 500 years went by) your comment here would have some weight, and I most certainly would not have ever dared question sola Scriptura as a Reformed Christian. Its truth would be clearly displayed by its fruit. But its fruit is rotten. You say “Christ is the head” and “his word is infallible”. Agreed. Heretics like Greg Boyd or Ken Hagen or John Macarthur would agree too. For all I know you consider them Christians because they have some similarity to your understanding of the Gospel. (of course you know what a Roman Catholic would be bound to think of them… every Christian would need to personally ask YOU however if you consider them part of the church) Your visible church is a hodgepodge of disagreeing opinions about what they claim the infallible word says. But if I look at the fruit, it is pure disagreement, which means that the supposed “church” that results is by its own definition FULL of error. The book may be infallible, but your church has certainly not been a witness to that by a resulting unity in the truth of Scripture. You guys can say all day that the Catholic “fruit” is evil heresy and such, but instead of the weight of authority behind your claim, it has all the weight of a paper airplane of opinion lightly tossed in my general direction. THEY have the unity. Show me your unity and I will take you seriously when you say Christ is your head. Until that is shown, Christ’s own words in John 17 accuse you day and night. For you to say Christ is the “head” of a church with obvious and serious doctrinal disunity (doctrines your respective church authorities fully admit are disagreed on) just falls flat. Like a politician promising “change” it is just sort of one of those things Protestants say, and is *winked at* when it is known by all too just be viscerally not true. For Protestants, any “unity” spoken of can only be in the distant past or relegated to the far reaches of eschatology in the future. The divisions in the Protestant “church” run deep, are increasing, and the least common denominator of “clear” teachings to agree on to maintain the pretended unity are so watered down there can be only a nominal authority over each watery branch, but none over the Protestant tree. Your church, (whatever it is you describe has THE church, not just your local congregation) by your own admission (correct me if I am wrong) has: (A) Clipped haired female Pastors (B) Grape juice drinking memorialists who vacuum up the crumbs (C) Arminians (those absolutely opposed to pure monergism ala Calvin) (D) Credobaptists And all these areas have the OPPOSITE view accepted as a valid view in your “church”! I know you wish this weren’t so. How could you want this kind of disunity if you (I know you do) love Christ? Think on this sad scenario. Godly leaders in your church wanting to protect the unity of that church admonish someone that he is straying from the Scriptural path, but all he has to say in response is “my conscience is held captive by the word of God” to make their “authority” vanish like the fog at sunrise. AND THEY KNOW IT. I will not even be excommunicated for leaving the PCA. Not that it would matter a wink to me if I was, because I feel convinced based on THEIR authority (Scripture) that I am right and they are mistaken. they self admittedly have no more authority than I do. All they can do is say “we think you’re wrong”. Uhhh, …ok. I think you’re wrong too so see you later. Wow, the hammer of authority feels more like a rubber chicken. TFan, whoever makes the final doctrinal proclamation is the “Pope”. For you that is *you*, informed by other worthy sources like Scripture, tradition and councils of course. For me it is the actual Pope, who is informed by Bishops and the same sources as you. Someone needs to decide what “this is my Body” means. Your Pope decides for you, my Pope decides for me. You submit to your Pope (you) I submit to mine (THE Pope). You can say all day that “Christ is the only head of our church.” but the for you the way His headship is represented here on earth is by your interpretation of His inerrant word. The Protestant fruit I see is division, and Christ is not divided.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Church is ONE

Neal Judisch said this:
"One of the things that paints an easy target on the chest of the Catholic Church is that there is such a thing as the Catholic Church. So when you see Catholic Christians doing superstitious or potentially idolatrous or just “pretty damn weird” stuff nowadays, it’s easy to say that that is the sort of thing Catholics do. Or again, when you look back in the past and see bad stuff — inquisitions, burnings-at-the-stake, or really any other bad thing the Church has ever done — it’s just irresistably tempting to say, “Welp, that’s what the Catholic Church did;” and when you look back into the past and see all the cool stuff — Nicaea, for instance, or saving Western culture and inspiring Western Science, for instance — it’s tempting in just the same way to say, “Welp, that’s the stuff the real Christian Church did, and look, I’m a part of that Church.” One of the cool things about Protestantism is that it lets you do this. Protestants get to dissociate themselves from all the bad things (past and contemporaneous) and lay claim to all the good stuff. Since there isn’t any “Protestant Church,” per se, there’s no Churchish chest on which a target might be painted. Ladies who see Mary in tortillias can be excluded from the denomination with which you affiliate. People who read “The Prayer of Jabez” either don’t darken the doors of your local church, or, if they do, they’re handed the most recent copy of Tabletalk, or handed a copy of the WSC to look over; and over time, they either just leave your church or they start acting and talking like the other folks in your church act or talk. “Fellowship.” And that takes care of that. No need to come to the Table with Mary-Tortillia or Prayer-of-Jabez people. And there is always the possibility of plausibile deniability: *these* people aren’t part of *my* church, even if they might by some charitable stretch of imagination be Christians. The Inquisition? The Catholics did that. Chalcedon? That was us."
That is a part of a comment in this article. I post it here today because I am going to a "Reformation Celebration" this evening and have been pondering the meaning of it. The stated purpose is to celebrate the "true catholicity" of the church. I guess I just find that quite sad. Because if what we see around us in Protestantism today is true catholicity, then the term catholic (universal) has been fully drained of all meaning indeed and Christianity is certainly a man made religion. If no visible, verifiable unity is needed to be in church, gee that sure looks a lot like I am making crap up as I go along. Think about this every-day scenario: A group of Christians has some picky doctrinal beef and splits off yet again from a church to form yet another church in yet another new denomination with new doctrinal distinctives and then has a "celebration" of the principles that led to the destructive schism. What the hell is there to celebrate about schism? If anything it should be a day of mourning and repentance for rending the Body of Christ. But of course Christ's Body cannot be rent, it is one in unity. You can point to my foot and say "that is you". And you are correct. But if you cut off my foot you can no longer say that. You might be able to place it near the stump of my leg and fool people for a time, but it will start to putrefy and break apart into pieces after some time and even it's own unity will be destroyed and become dust. The unity of my body will still be sound however. But I will have a hurt leg and perhaps a "phantom foot" that haunts me. I may even walk with a limp. But there will still be only one of me. One head, one DNA, one soul, undivided. “You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off. Number the Bishops even from the very seat of Peter: and see every succession in that line of Fathers: that is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not.” -St. Augustine in A.D. 393 to the schismatic Donatists, Patrologia Latina 43.30 Protestants, it is time to come home to the Church, She needs you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reformed solo Scriptura in action

The following is from a comment I left on Jeff Cagle's blog: Here is Jeff:
“One of the issues that we may not ever be able to resolve satisfactorily is whether a text has a meaning, or whether a text's meaning is always subject to one's interpretation. I hold to an inductive and non-exhaustive version of the former. In my understanding, texts have meaning (original authorial intent), which is reasonably clear given a standard methodology; and when unclear, the reason for unclarity is usually evident.
(Italics mine) I want to gently and respectfully point out that this statement is very frustrating to me. You claim the high ground of “texts have meaning” as opposed to them needing interpretation, and then you include interpreting in your description of “texts have meaning”. Which is it!? You can’t just slip that in the back door like that! If you are going to claim texts have a meaning that is not subject to interpreting (as your dichotomy certainly does) then your interpreting is excluded along with everyone else’s. You also say there is some “issue” that can’t be resolved when there is nothing of the sort. EVERYONE HERE agrees that texts have a meaning (original authorial intent). EVERYONE HERE (including you Jeff) agrees that texts are interpreted. If you want to exclude yourself from the later group that kind of thinking reminds me of talking to my brother in law about the perpetual virginity of Our Lady. Him: “Matt. 1:25 says “he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” That means he DID know her after that!” Me: “No it does not say that. You are making the text say something it is not saying.” Him: “Matt. 1:25 says “he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” That means he DID know her after that!” Me: “The final verse of Matthew says “And surely I am with you always, UNTIL (heos, the same Greek word) the very end of the age."” Him: “Matt. 1:25 says “he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” That means he DID know her after that!” Me: “Mmmm kay then.” He would say the text has one meaning and that I am just interpreting it how I want and ignoring the truth of it. He would say he is not “interpreting” but just letting it speak. I should just “let God’s word speak for itself”. The way you say something is reasonably clear given a standard methodology” is exactly what he is doing, his is just a less complex “methodology” than you would use. I think at the point I read your statement here Jeff, I really think the discussion went off a cliff. You will perhaps try to qualify your words, but I think your methodology is the same as my brother in law, but cast in a much more intelligent and erudite mold. But other than a more scholarly hermeneutic and lexical analysis, and more theological knowledge, I see no difference in your method. *Note: I got the hilarious picture here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Reformation Day" Humor

"Reformation Day" is coming up. This is the day that some Protestants celebrate the separation of millions of people from the Catholic Church. Many other Protestants sit at home with the lights dim hoping no satanic trick-or-treaters come knocking. Or perhaps they do the meanest "trick" by putting a christian tract in their candy bag. (Dear Lord let them not give Chick tracts!) Yes, I find it ironic that this day is on the vigil for the feast of all saints. A day when Catholics are celebrating the incredible unity of the Church by honoring all saints known or unknown. A day more than any other which celebrates the concept of the communion of the saints, the belief that all of God's people whether on earth, in heaven, or in a the state of being purified, are in the closest bonds of communion. So what day do my Reformed brethren choose to celebrate one of the greatest separations (schisms) in the history of the church? The vigil of All Hallows. Whether you think the Reformation was justified or not, isn't it a bit odd that the Reformed, out of a dreadfully boring and stark church calendar with only three holy days on it that one of them celebrates a schism from the church? "Let's toss out the communion of saints and celebrate us!" yippee. Well, if any of you need a Halloween costume here is an idea. Call him Pope Martin I:
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the Popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.
-Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms (no they did not eat worms) And hey, don't worry, Pope Martin I certainly doesn't claim infallibility so go ahead and keep reading those scriptures just how you like. (all the Baptists and Dispensationalists give a sigh of relief) Go ahead and curl up on the couch with your TNIV and let the Holy Spirit guide you into all truth... just like all the people who disagree with you think the Holy Spirit is guiding them. But all smarmy jokes aside, by all means, step into a Catholic Church this October 31st and join in a true celebration of the great cloud of witnesses of great men and women who have carried their cross and won their prize. It beats celebrating division. UPDATE: Opps. There was already a Pope St. Martin I (649-55). So I guess he would be "Luther I". I wonder if Luther was named after a Pope? Prophetic if he was.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where's the Church?

Let's not complicate things. Finding the Church is not like finding the little key in a Where's Waldo book. If one is willing to read the Scriptures and let them speak, the Church becomes glaringly obvious. Read Is. 22:14-25 Now read Matt. 16:17-19 Hmm. Seems obvious what Jesus was referencing in Matt. 16 right? What kind of authority was He conveying to Peter? Well, what kind of authority was conveyed in Is. 22? Now ask yourself why you as a Protestant have never looked into this issue before. It is sort of like those ruby slippers Dorothy was wearing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bryan Cross Cuts Deep

Bryan Cross from the Called to Communion blog has a way of cutting down to the red marrow of the Protestant bone. He is a machine. I wish I could be half as smart, clear and respectful in my conversations. The Pope needs to give this man a medal. (Something with a cross of course... Maltese cross perhaps)Here is an example: Bryan Cross to Jeff on Green Babbins blog: October 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm
Jeff, (re: #334)
In your argument, if the church sins, then Jesus must have sinned.
The Church cannot sin, for Christ is the Head of the Body, and Christ cannot sin. The Church is holy. This is one of the four marks of the Church specified in the Creed. But members of the Church can (and do) sin; when they do this, they separate themselves from the Church’s holiness. They are restored to holiness by the Church. But the Church could not give holiness if the Church were not holy, since nothing can give what it does not have.
This has naught to do with the Church as the visible or invisible body of Christ.
It has everything to do with invisible-church ecclesiology, just as the Docetic view of the Eucharist was based on their Docetic Christology. One’s ecclesiology follows from one’s Christology. Because Christ truly took on human nature, His Body, the Church, is a visible human society. To deny that His Body is visible, is to deny that He truly became flesh and blood.
But in reality, the Church as Body of Christ can sin — and does sin, and has sinned
You’ve just denied part of the Nicene Creed, the part that says that the Church is holy. The Church could make no one holy, if the Church itself were not holy, because no one can give what he does not have.
She is his body as a bride is one with her husband — it is a union, not an ontological oneness.
It is an ontological union; this is why Jesus said to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4) Is your body not ontologically united to your head? Jesus is the Head of the Body, the Church, and we are the hands and feet and other members of His Body. (1 Cor 12) “As you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matt 25:40)
Yes, you are correct that a premise in my argument is that it is highly unlikely that Christ established an office of visible steward such that the visible steward is always right and everyone else is always wrong. Nothing confirms such a possibility, and the whole rest of the church stands against it.
The Church has never claimed that St. Peter and his successors are “always right and that everyone else is always wrong.” That’s quite an obvious straw man. St. Peter and his successors are not impeccable. And, as you well know, according to Catholic dogma, the Magisterium of the Church is protected from error only under certain specified conditions.
It is heat towards an idea: the idea that we might interpose human authority who commands the obedience due only to Christ.
Every Catholic I know would oppose that notion too. No mere human authority has the authority speak for God or to govern His Church. No mere human has the authority to impose human authority that commands the obedience due only to Christ. Amen! But, if the God-man gives divine authority to men, and instructs them to pass this authority on to successors, teaching them to do the same to their successors, then it is to those humans that we ought to submit, as the Israelites were to follow Moses (who was a divinely authorized human) rather than self-appointed ‘authorities’ like Korah. You are presenting a false dilemma: either we submit to Christ alone, or we are submitting to merely human authority. Luke 10:16 shows that that is a false dilemma: “He who listens to you listens to Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me.”
When the angel appeared to John, he refused to be worshiped; but the doctrine of the papacy unabashedly places him in the place of Christ.
An angel is a mere creature, and should not be worshipped. But, if an angel brings you a divine message, and you disbelieve it, you may rightly be punished, because the angel is God’s messenger, and so to disbelieve God’s angel is to disbelieve God, all other things being equal. (See Luke 1:19-20) Likewise, to disbelieve the Apostles, is to disbelieve Christ. “He who listens to you listens to Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me.” (Luke 10:16) So the dilemma you are presenting is a false dilemma: it is not true that either we can dismiss divine messengers or we must worship divine messengers. There is a middle position. A human can be given divine authority to which we are obliged to submit for the sake of God, without that human being God.
Our interactions on this issue have left me more determined than ever that this constant insertion of the visible church as a sacramental filter between the believer and Jesus, as an interpretive filter between the believer and the Scripture, as a supplicatory filter between the believer’s prayers and the Father, is not what the Lord intended, taught, or commanded.
You may then find yourself to be fighting against God, trying to destroy the visible Catholic Church that men much greater than yourself have been unable to destroy for 2,000 years. You might just as well treat Jesus’ human nature as a “filter” that annoyingly gets between you and God. That’s gnosticism all over again. Instead of seeing these physical things as a filter, the saints see Christ’s body and the sacraments He instituted as the glorious bridge, Jacob’s ladder, by which and through which the graces He merited for us are brought to us, and we are raised to glory with Him. In the peace of Christ, - Bryan

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Walter Martin Disses George Lucas

I like Walter Martin. His point from C.S. Lewis here is great. The point is that in the end there will only be Hinduism and Christianity. Because Hinduism absorbs all religions and Christianity excludes other religions. It is interesting how up in arms he is about the "new age movement". Seems as if that ship has sailed a bit? But all things will reinvent themselves, so it will be back. Preach it Walter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Basilica of St. Mary Takes out the Trash

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are a weird place to live sometimes. It's sort of a Village People meets Little House on the Prairie kind of place. Now that I am becoming Catholic, it is weirder than ever. From CatholicCulture.org:
The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, which serves as the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has suspended its artist in residence after she announced that she is opposing Archbishop John Neinstedt’s efforts to defend marriage as an institution of one man and one woman. Lucinda Naylor wrote on her Facebook page: "n September 22, the archbishop sent Catholics in the Twin Cities a DVD warning that the sky will fall if Minnesota legalizes same-sex civil marriage. Donate your DVD and I will use it to create a piece of art that transforms that message of fear into one of hope … Let’s use the Archbishop’s DVD to change the message from one of division and fear into a piece of art about inclusion and the joyful Spirit that moves among us."
You see, there are a lot of people here who say they are Catholics with their mouth, but from that same mouth comes heresy and rebellion to basic, settled Church teaching. They are in the strange habit of thinking this kind of thing is OK for some reason. Well, I don't play that way. Your day is done. It is time for you to leave the Church. As a convert who after 15 years wandering in the fog of Protestantism is now falling to my knees in St. Peter's square, I am disgusted by these filthy heretics. You are not Catholics people! Just because you were baptised by a priest and were raised attending mass does not mean you get to make your religion up as you go and pretend it is Catholicism. Read Romans chapter 1 you sick degenerates. If you do not obey the Church on issues which are abundantly clear in Church teaching AND scripture like homosexuality and abortion then you are in danger of hell, pure and simple. Wake up and smell the brimstone. And if you keep insisting by your loud braying and fist pounding to have evil called good by godly bishops like John Neinsted, you really need to ask yourself why you really care what he says. You see, faithful Catholics care what he says because he is our Bishop. But heretics like you care only about your itching ears getting tickled with the latest social garbage spewed by the godless culture we live in the midst of. To Lucinda Naylor and any other heretics in the pews of Catholic parishes in the Twin Cities I say this: Why even call yourself a Catholic if your degenerate beliefs completely contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church? I don't claim to be a member of the local Mosque, because... news flash, I don't believe what they believe. So why pretend to be a member of a Church you fundamentally disagree with so much? Why not just become a mainline Protestant (I recommend the PCUSA or ELCA) where you can have all the abortion, homosexuality, and female clergy you can handle? If you refuse to repent and submit to the authority of your Bishop, the Magisterium, and the Pope, then get out. NOW. It is really that simple. If you do what I hope you will do, which is to repent and submit to the Church, then God be praised. Here are excerpts of an article from the Minnesota Independent each are followed by my comments.
With over a million anti-gay marriage DVDs hitting the mailboxes of Minnesota Catholics in the weeks leading up to Election Day, there’s been no shortage of ideas for what to do with them. OutFront Minnesota says that recipients should mark them “return to the sender” and drop them back in the mail to the Catholic diocese which sent them, while others have suggested leaving them in the collection plate at Sunday services. But Minneapolis artist Lucinda Naylor is encouraging Minnesotans to send her the DVD so that she can create an art project to counter the discriminatory message carried by the DVDs with one of “creativity and hope.”
OK. First off, if you disagree with the Archbishop's DVD then you can ask me and I will tell you just what you can "do with them". I will tell you precicely where you can shove them. What you need to ask yourself is this: "why am I pretending to be a Catholic still? I don't agree with the Church on a number of issues that are really important to me, so why am I still going through the motions and pretending to be a Catholic?" You fell away from the faith in college or whatever, and now you want the faith to conform to your twisted view of the world. Why not just leave the Church behind? Second, if I catch you disturbing mass at my parish by putting the disc in the plate or standing outside with a box, you will not be ignored by me, and I very well may silly string you from head to foot while loudly mocking you. (also stay away from my children you sick degenerate)
“I’m an artist who has been doing a lot of work for Catholic churches over the past 15 years, so coming up with an artistic way to deal with the DVDs was my immediate first response,” said Naylor of the 14-minute created by the national Knights of Columbus and distributed by Catholic bishops in Minnesota. “I feel that the archbishop is particularly bent in regard to this issue of same-sex marriage.”
This is a funny one. She is a self described "artist". The fact she wants to make her "art" out of DVD's says a lot. Chesterton said: "The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs." I suspect this is what is going on with this lady. "On Eagles Wings" is probably her favorite song in church as well. It's so "artistic". You can see her version of the Stations of the Cross here. My 18 month old could do better with a box of crayolas and a full diaper to work with. This not art. It is an assault on and a mockery of great art. "Art" like this must be thrown out of the church root and branch and the great patrimony of Church art returned to the people who have been starved to death for decades by "artists" like Naylor for real liturgical art. Below is a picture of Station II: Betrayed by Judas. Ridiculous: Next she calls the archbishop "bent in regard to this issue". Well, it is possible for a Bishop to be bent. It has been known to happen. But the Church makes that determination, not you. What does the Pope say? What does the Catechism say? What does the magisterium say? It is not up for grabs, it is not debatable, it is not up to heretics to decide what they want to believe about it. The Church has spoken, submit to it or abandon the faith. Those are your choices. You are the one who is "bent" on this issue, not archbishop Neinsted.
Lucinda is asking anyone who receives a DVD from the Catholic church to send them to her for an art project. “I have ideas, but it really depends on how many DVDs I get. I’d love to make a large sculpture — probably something rather flame or water like–since both are important Catholic symbols of the Holy Spirit,” she told the Minnesota Independent.
Again, whatever monstrosity you make with these DVD's, your "art" will suck, my children will laugh at it and wonder what in the world it is. You should be ashamed to publicly call yourself a Catholic. Repent.
Naylor says that earlier this year, several of her friends, mostly mothers of gay children, wrote to the archbishop asking him to “open his heart” on the issue of homosexuality, but, she says, “these people received back form letters that called into question their very salvation!” “This alone made me want to act.”
God bless archbishop John Neinsted for caring about the sheep in his flock! He cares enough to tell them the truth. May his reign be long and prosperous in the Twin Cities.
She also said the focus of the election in November should be about justice issues like education, health care and jobs. “The whole gay thing seems to be [Archbishop John] Neinstedt’s personal vendetta and a red herring taking us away from the real important issues.”
Notice no mention of abortion. The all out attack on the family unit in our culture seems to be on the back burner for this heretic, where as "education, health care and jobs" are just so very crucial. How can minds become so twisted? If it was Poland in 1943 I guess she would say "The whole 'concentration camp' thing seems to be [Archbishop John] Neinstedt’s personal vendetta and a red herring taking us away from the real important issues.” Defeating the culture of death is the "real important issue". If you can't submit to the Bishops on that issue, then get out of the Catholic Church.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sungenis White Debate

I love debates. This one is on papal infallibility. I just watched this dedate again and it is great. Of course I think Robert Sungenis wins it, but James White is certainly not a ringer. This debate was one of the last things I watched before deciding that there were no solid Protestant rebutals to the Catholic claims. The examples White gives of papal non-infalibility were evidence of the opposite as far as I could tell. My guess would be that both the Protestant and Catholic will each think their guy won. Either way, I learned a lot both times I have watched this debate. If you watch it and feel it was a waste of your time, for the Protestants I will dress up like Martin Luther for Halloween/Reformation day this year and preach sola fide up and down my block. For the Catholics, I will pray a Rosary for your intention.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"But what does the Bible say about X?”

This is my comment to "Lawwife" and Zoltan on Called to Communion concerning new converts asking the "But what does the Bible say about X?” question. In short, we still ask the question, but with different intent, and a different result! Lawwife: My conversion process for my heart took only a day. Once I saw the naked “sola scriptura” emperor parading down the street I was through with the reformation. For the mind to do the due diligence study took a few more months. I do still find myself asking the “what does scripture say” question. All the time! And the nice thing about asking that question now is that MY QUESTION GETS AN ANSWER! Then I can actually learn from the scripture, and plumb the depths of it’s truth instead of so many doctrines staying on a surface level. In #895 Zoltan makes this statement:
Problems arise I believe when we become too precise with these matters (as transubstantiation does in my view) … [] With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I believe we will discern much in this through the centuries. However, it seems unreasonable to me that a previous generation’s limited view of the sacraments will hold sway over the rest of Church history as though they have already plunged the depths of such mystery and we need only blindly affirm what they believed.
This thinking is what I am glad to leave behind. (no offence brother Zoltan!) Notice how Zoltan refers to transubstantiation as being too precice a doctrine in his view. I thought that as well as a Protestant. But I couldnt repress the nagging thought “what if i’m wrong that it is too precice? Perhaps this issue of the the Lord’s Supper is one of the most important issues?” The importance level of an issue is its own issue and in Catholicism, those importance levels are well defined. Contrary to the Church having “already plunged the depths of such mystery and we need only blindly affirm what they believed” it is the opposite. Someone that knows better than me here can explain doctrinal developement, but one thing I know is that it is not about blindly affirming OR some how fully explaining mysteries. The Church self consciously has not plumbed the depths of Christ present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. From what I have experienced in the Church so far, it is a profound mystery to Catholics! And contrary to blindly affirming, there is an ability to furhter plumb the depths of this inexhaustible mystery of faith when you have a starting point like the Real Presense to begin with. Scripture can then “come alive” and really speak with authority. But for the Catholic, it does not speak with a forked tongue, through Tradition it speaks univocally and with a richness and depth unfound in Protestantism. Protestants claim *mystery* concerning the Eucharist to the point of accepting opposing views as orthodox that are incompatible with each other. This is not somehow admirable or protecting the mystery of God. I know for me it was a cop out. I believed Calvin’s view but I knew it was more of a personal conviction of what scripture taught. Therefore I instinctively knew that someone who was a Zwinglian was probably in my same boat. They did the best they could to interpret the scripture but ended up with a different view. So in order to maintain MY prefered view, I claim the doctrine must be a *mystery* since two spirit filled believers came up with different interpretations. But disagreement of this kind is not the result of mystery. In my personal experience, the claim of mystery is an attempt to make the discord and schism seem not as bad as it is. Ironically my cry of “mystery” was a sort of blaming God for not being clear enough in scripture, where I knew instinctively He was/should be clear on such an important doctrine. What I love about Catholicism is the increased respect for the scriptures. I no longer say “where is that in scripture?” as a sort of litmus test or doubt, I say it because I want to plumb the depths of mysteries that are now true mysteries of faith, not mysteries of disagreement. And the scriptures have not disapointed this catechumen in any of his meager attempts so far! Peace, David Meyer

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This was posted at Called to Communion by Ray Stamper (NOT Rat Stamper!). Great stuff:
The Catholic Church, the true home of all Christians, has a lot of vacant living space. We are missing enormous reservoirs of zeal and talent and evangelistic force that should naturally be found within the family of God. Why? Because many years ago, some of our Catholic forefathers behaved very badly, and quite naturally offended and alienated many of their sons and daughters in the faith. Those sons and daughters left home and built new houses to live in (some of them quite attractive), far away from their unholy relatives. Still, there is no place like one’s true home – no matter how bad or embarrassing some of the relatives may be. The winds of modernity are blowing very hard against some of those homes and outpost these day, in which the children of those first offended sons and daughters still live – just as it is blowing against the house built on the rock. It would be wonderful, if we Catholics could repent and humble ourselves at the most fundamental level before our estranged family members. And it would be more wonderful still, if those family members would consider coming home – with all their talents and holiness – so that we can share a meal – THE meal – and then go to work together with all the graces and gifts of God working as one!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Crucified Thee!....

This would have been the birthday of our precious son Jude, who I held in my hands, stillborn on Divine Mercy Sunday of this year. God rest his soul and grant him peace. May his spirit, unstained by personal sin, intercede before the Father for his parents and four sisters who continue for a time here in the Church militant. See you soon Jude. The Divine Mercy Chaplet is a great devotion, please pray it with my family in mind if you wish. Our Father... Hail Mary... The Apostle's Creed... Then, on the large bead before each decade: Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. On the ten small beads of each decade, say: For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Conclude with (Say 3 Times): Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. On a lighter note, this is a wonderful hymn. I will now say that I am starting to miss the singing in my old Protestant church. This hymn has always for me brought tears as communion is being shared, which is when it is sung. Attending Mass now and not partaking, I am getting "hungry" for Jesus the longer I go without breaking the bread. This is an old Lutheran hymn, I am sure my mother would have memories of singing it in all the parts from her childhood in Mankato Mn. Herzliebster Jesu, text by Johann Heermann and melody by Johannn Crüger. This hymn is transcendant.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burn the Gospel of Straw

Martin Luther called the book of James an "Epistle of straw" because he did not like what Saint James had to say concerning how faith and works relate to our justification. It would have been so much more convenient for Luther to just be rid of the epistle so he could more easily explain his *biblical* doctrine of sola fide. The problem for Luther, is that James has the authority and Luther does not. Luther's characterization of the Gospel according to the book of James amounts to a "straw man" argument in the debate on justification. Catholics have always affirmed that justification is the work of God from start to finish, the Holy Spirit going before us with us and behind us to help us on the journey, with all glory going to God. Here is a fun exercise: Walk up to any evangelical Protestant and ask them to define infusion and imputation, and how each of them relate to the ground of our justification. Now watch for the blank stare... There it is. Heck, I would give a blank stare most days. It is a complicated web of sins and merits flying around courtrooms, cloaks, snow on manure piles, and it is hard to describe coherently. Now describe the Catholic doctrine of justification by grace without naming it as such. Tell them it is salvation by Gods grace alone where he changes our heart from stone to flesh (infuses grace into our hearts) so that Christs love can work through us. And then He declares us righteous. Because He makes us righteous. NOT because of us, but because of Christ in us... "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Phil. 2:13 They will agree with this doctrine nearly every time, because it is the Gospel of God's free grace. Now tell them they just affirmed the Catholic doctrine, and they will probably puke. Protestants hate what they think the Catholic gospel is (Us working our way to God) and not what that Gospel actually is. I think Dr. RC Sproul may be the only man alive who understands and hates the actual Catholic gospel and not just the straw man "Gospel of works" one. It's high time you protesters throw down your "Sola Fide NOW!" banners and come on home to Rome. Hey, your leaders have long since walked away, you can't decide where the protest rally should even be located so you are scattered all over town, and most of you have forgotten what you're even protesting, and those of you that do remember have a much different looking Christendom than Luther saw. If Luther were here he would be in sackcloth and ashes to see the current state of the Reformation, and would crawl over broken glass to kiss the Popes ring. "search your feelings... you know it to be true!" (Gotta love the Star Wars reference.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Discerning Theological Truth

I came across a sermon given at my former church the other day. The title was Discerning Theological Truth. It was given by Dr. Paul Helseth, who is one of the most mild mannered, nicest guys I have ever met. Dr. Helseth is Associate Professor of Christian Thought at Northwestern College, St Paul, MN. He has a Ph.D. from Marquette University, an M.A. and B.A. from Wheaton College, and has studied at Reformed Theological Seminary. I listened to the sermon on my lunch break yesterday and just have to respond. Here is an excerpt of the last couple minutes of the sermon:
“One of the great things about being a Presbyterian as opposed to being a Reformed Baptist is that Reformed Baptists at the end of the day are more at the mercy of the judgments of an individual person, at least as far as I understand it. Presbyterians on the other hand, can appeal to an authority that is greater than themselves. “ “O.K. we’ve recently had so some folks leave church over the whole question of authority. Well frankly that kind of confused me because it seems to me that Presbyterians DO have an authority to appeal to. We have the authority of our session, we have the authority of our Presbytery, we have the general assembly. So to bring it back to the issue at hand, how do we understand or determine what is true in matters of theology? Well I would suggest that that is not a call that we as individuals should make. When there is a question, we should ask our elders, who in turn will speak about these things among themselves, I assume, and if there are questions there they’ll kick it on up to the next level. Um, what you have in a group of elders, in a Presbytery, in the General Assembly, well at least as far as I understand things, you have people who have been appointed to be overseers who have the capacity to think spiritually. Who have the capacity to see spiritually, who have the capacity to make good, sound theological judgments. And their capacity to make good sound theological judgments exceeds the capacity of any one of the individuals. Again, for whatever it’s worth, it seems to me that at the end of the day for those of us who are Presbyterians when we have questions about what scripture says in relationship to some contemporary truth claim, whether its scientific or sociological or whatever, when we have questions, when it’s not transparently obvious what the answer is based on what the truth claim is and based on what scripture says, when there’s a tough judgment call to make, it seems like we should appeal to those who are in authority over us."
Paul, First off, I wish you and yours the best, please take nothing here personal. You are certainly my better in knowledge of philosophy and theology, so with that in mind I wish to try to point out a very basic error in your thinking. St. Thomas Aquinas said “an error in the beginning is an error in deed.” I will point out the error as I see it. I listened to your sermon and have some challenges for you. First a few questions.
1. The PCA was formed in 1973 because people within the Presbyterian church (PCUSA) saw the “authority” over them teaching things they didn’t like and ignored that authority (their elders, sessions, and general assembly) by leaving to make their own church (PCA). Were they justified in ignoring the authority over them? 2. Assuming you think they were right (which for a member of the PCA should be the case), does it not follow that the authority they originally had invested in their PCUSA sessions and general assembly was shown to be a secondary authority to their own theological judgments? 3. Does it not then follow that any church authority for the men who started the PCA was seen by them (proved by their actions) as being mutable, and able to be disobeyed if they felt necessary? 4. Is such a mutable authority the authority we should see in the church? You said (referring at least in part to myself): “we’ve recently had so some folks leave church over the whole question of authority. Well frankly that kind of confused me because it seems to me that Presbyterians DO have an authority to appeal to.” 5. Did this really confuse you? Really?
Respectfully I don’t believe you sir. You are to obviously smart to be so easily thrown off the trail of a very simple argument. Let me try to relieve your alleged confusion. First lets clear something up. You DO have authority. Yes. That is something I would never deny. And Presbyterian authority is better than the Baptist authority you mention, yes, but for the same reasons that a Republic is often better that a Monarchy. This is beside the point and it is odd that you brought it up. Denominational distinctives are interesting, but it is a straw man to say that this constitutes the “authority issue” people leave Protestantism because of. I think you have missed the point. It is not some generic authority people like me are seeking. If I wanted that then the PCA provides that ‘structure’ (session, presbytery, G.A.) of authority very well for someone already convinced of the Reformed faith. That is all beside the point. My point is that the authority that the church of Jesus Christ provides is a legitimate, divine authority that is guarded from error in certain circumstances. (the PCA does not claim this of its authority) It is an authority that is… well, authoritative. It is true. It must be obeyed by all Christians because it is from the Holy Spirit. There is ONE Faith. ONE baptism. Overlooking differences for the sake of a pretended ‘unity’ is not acceptable to the authority of the Church. This real authority can be seen anathematizing monothelites in the early church. Can you imagine modern Evangelicals anathematizing monothelites? Or even caring one iota what they are? No way. Truth gets flushed for the sake of a pretended unity. I will be blunt, Paul. In the end, you are your own authority as a Protestant. I do not accuse without proof. My evidence will be overwhelming and decisive. Let’s run through a scenario.
The year is 2040 and your PCA session has just approved funding for abortions from the tithes of the people and promoting gay marriage from the pulpits. You “have a question” (understatement!!!) as you put it, so you go to your elders, who “have been appointed to be overseers who have the capacity to think spiritually”. They “think spiritually” for about 10 seconds and shoot your objections down. You appeal up to Presbytery and to the general assembly. You get shot down.
What happens next is what proves that you do not believe a word of what you said from the pulpit in your sermon concerning your respect for church authority. You and I know exactly, precisely, and very specifically what you would do. You would ignore their “authority”, judging it to be false, and leave the PCA to put your family under the “authority” of a session that more closely fit your interpretation of scripture. This is definitive proof that YOU are the final authority.
6. Am I correct that you would leave in this situation?
Sure you can pick a session that already agrees with you (like I did when I chose the PCA) and pretend to submit to their authority, but that is a shell game. By submitting to them based on mutual theological agreement, you submit to yourself. If I only submit when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me. Sure you might be like I was and make a show of deferring some theological opinions to them and submitting to their will. I did this for Paedocommunion for instance and that made me feel good about my “submission.” And in truth, this attitude among the Reformed of a willingness to submit their will in some areas of theology is commendable, and is a better way than the typical Evangelical decides doctrine, but it is in principal the same. And of course it is always only in ‘less important areas’ (as defined by the individual Protestant) that this deferring of personal opinion ever occurs. You say (Bolding mine):
“When we have questions, when it’s not transparently obvious what the answer is based on what the truth claim is and based on what scripture says, when there’s a tough judgment call to make, it seems like we should appeal to those who are in authority over us.”
Forgive me for saying it but this sounds somewhat pompous. To say that you can determine if something is or is not “transparently obvious” in Sacred Scripture without a special charism is just subjective and silly. At the least it is naïve. I’m sure the open theism theology of devils like Greg Boyd is “transparently obvious” to them. But the millstone is around his neck. Christ having 2 distinct wills is not at all obvious to my mind from scripture. It is silly when some believers claim it is. But He has 2 wills and it should be a heresy to deny it because the teaching office of the Church declared it a heresy. Not because I agree it should be. The Arian heresy was shown from scripture and was honestly and conscientiously believed by Arius. I’m sure he thought it was “transparently obvious”. What is obvious on the one hand and what is more difficult on the other is the very distinction we need a theological authority to make for us! And if they are just men with a Bible (like you and I), why is their interpretation more valid than ours? Other that being the wisest and most learned men in the building; they are using their judgment just like you or me, and can make bad theological errors just like you or me. (And they will readily admit that fact!) So other than the pragmatism of a group deciding over an individual, why listen to them? Like I said, if it were 1972, you absolutely would not have listened to your session if they told you abortion is not forbidden in the scripture. You would disobey them in an instant, curse them (I hope) and walk out. Asking the advice of those more mature in the faith is always a good idea. NOBODY disagrees with that. But that is a pragmatic reality, not the basis for determining if something is true! The proof is in the pudding. Look around at the myriad branches of the Protestant tree. Now focus on just the Reformed ‘branch’ (‘twig’?). These are the ones with the ‘orthodox’ view of what sola scriptura means. These are the ones with the ‘high view’ of church authority. This is the branch that pounds its chest in obedience to church authority. But it is mere chest pounding because they have chosen the authority for themselves, and will submit if and only if that authority stays within the bounds of orthodoxy as they see it. When it strays out of those bounds, they will instantly disobey, preferring their private opinions, and split, split, split. Again, this is in no way submission. It is the worst kind of false submission because it can lull the believer into actually thinking they are submitting to the church (and Christ) when they are merely submitting to themselves! If the PCA had ever budged on any issues I thought were important to my personal theological understanding such as abortion or gay marriage, or justification, BOOM. I would have been out of there. And you would too. You said:
“how do we understand or determine what is true in matters of theology? Well I would suggest that that is not a call that we as individuals should make.”
This statement is great, and quite true. As individuals we should not determine what is true in matters of theology, the church should. But as I have shown, that individualism is exactly what (in principle) Protestantism is based on, and exactly what Protestants do every day they submit to self appointed church authority. As I have clearly shown, you as an individual ARE making the calls. Just because there are other people that agree with your personal judgment and you “submit” to them makes it no less a personal judgment call. At this point the tu quoque objection might be tempting. It does not apply to a Catholic (there is a way out!) because we submit to bishops in succession from the apostles that have divine authority to define theological truth, but that is a whole other discussion. Listen to this conversion story for an eye opener.
7. The point I have clearly made here is that you are your own theological authority. Another way to say it is that your authority is in practice greater than that of any authority in the PCA. Do you concede this point?
Peace, David

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Classical Liberal Arts Academy

St. Thomas Aquinas Following a tip from Tim Troutman on his blog, I decided to enroll my school age children in this school. It is the Classical Liberal Arts Academy. It is only a year old, but looks great. After much searching for some great Catholic homeschool place, My wife and I hope this is it! Bridget and I are excited to try it out. It is rigorous, ubber classical and hey, I found out the creator of the program is a convert who used to write the Omnibus program for Veritas Press (We were using Veritas previously). Anyone into homeschooling (and you should be unless you have an amaaaaazing Catholic school near you) might want to check this place out. There are some great articles on the homepage to listen to or read. Pray for our homeschooling efforts that the arrows in our quiver would be sharp!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Repudiation of Postmillenialism

I have learned from Taylor Marshal that the Catholic Church is dogmatically Amillenial. (Johnny Carson voice in my head) "I did not know that." So far in my conversion process, I have "crossed my fingers" and hoped for the best on a few issues that to me are just so crystal clear. One was the 6-day Creation without evolution. I was worried that evolution had been dogmatized or something. What would I do then? I don't know if I could stomach believing such a fairy tale as being true. But lucky for my fragile faith the dogma on Creation not only allows my favored interpretation, but is far more on my side of things. Another was the death penalty. I had thought it was Catholic dogma that the death penalty was wrong. I was surprised that this is not the case. I also thought it was dogma that priests cannot marry. Again not the case. I thought the Church sells indulgences. Not true anymore. I was worried that Catholic belief about Mary would not not find much biblical support. Turns out she is prominant in both testaments and from Genesis to Revelation when one reads the scriptures typologically. There is more but you get the idea. So, I repudiate Postmillenialism and will submit to the magisterium of the Church on this issue. My post on Orthodoxy included some talk about Postmillenialism, and this just goes to show that there is a lot I still need to learn about Catholicism. Now don't get me wrong, I want to remain as positive as I can about the end-times, and I will be considering myself a "positive-Amillenialist". By that I mean that I now believe in a future anti-christ (because that is Catholic dogma) but I still may (and will) hold to partial preterism, which says Nero was the antichrist. Although I must now say Nero was "a" anti-christ and is a type of the one to come. To be perfectly honest, I have had my fingers crossed hoping I could still be a partial-preterist. From what I have studied as far as eschaetology, I just cant see things any other way. So I was relieved that I will not have to conform my mind to pre-millenialism or some such "left-behind" nonsense. This has increased my faith in the truth of the scriptures and the ability of the Catholic Church to interpret them correctly and give definitive interpretations. The magisterium seems to "get it right" even in areas like eschaetology that are not as important as any number of other doctrines. Peace, David

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox (or How I learned to stop worrying and love the atomic bomb of Holy Orders)

There is a great article at Called to Communion about Orthodoxy. Here is an excerpt that resonated with me. "in Catholicism there is an authoritative, principled basis for a mutual respect of the successors of the Apostles that springs from this view of Holy Orders. In relegating the Bishop of Rome and those in communion with him to something lower, there is a sense in which Orthodoxy has lowered Herself at the same time, tragically." I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox (or How I learned to stop worrying and love the atomic bomb of Holy Orders)

Monday, August 9, 2010

True Freedom in Catholicism

Jeffrey Steele, a former Anglican Priest who recently came into the Catholic church, has a great post on his blog about the freedom available in Catholicism. Does freedom in Catholicism sounds like an oxymoron to you? Catholicism actually makes freedom from ones own whims and fancys possible. Find it here. Here is an excerpt:
"The question that is begged is, 'who has the right to make decisions?' As an Anglican, I saw how fraught this system was. The minority, no matter how large, had to submit to the majority. There was no guarantee that the majority would speak 'my' position of freedom. Decisions from others must be accepted so as not to jeopardize the entire system. Everything that happened in one decision-making body could be undone by another. What was liked by one body could be hated by another and hence revoked and a new majority formed. What is this? This is a human church not something that is divine. It is not true freedom but bondage to a political system that is forever changing with the majority. Opinions replace faith and truth and self-made formulas become dogma. For me, there is no freedom in that at all. This system only forced me to be in more bondage to my own opinions and self. As the Holy Father said when he was still in the CDF,
'A self-made church is reduced to the empirical domain and thus, precisely as a dream, comes to nothing.'
What is so great about the freedom given in the Catholic Church that I discovered and continue to discover afresh each day I spend in her is that she is not something that is self-made by the opinions of others but is a gift from God that has come down out of heaven and given to us all. As Pope Benedict said,
The reform that is needed at all times does not consist in constantly remodelling "our" Church according to our taste, or inventing her ourselves, but in ceaselessly clearing away our subsidiary constructions to let in the pure light that comes from above and that is also the dawning of pure freedom.
This is exactly what I have experienced as a Catholic, true freedom."
Well said Jeffrey.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brace Yourself! Shocking image!

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” -Ronald Reagan Where have all the heros gone? With bloodthirsty Molech worshipers like this in charge, i'm bracing for the fire and brimstone. Christ have mercy on this country.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Catholicism or Orthodoxy?

A few months ago I had my sola Scriptura world crushed. I’ll skip past the soul searching and hair pulling to the acceptance of the facts. Protestantism cannot possibly be part of the church Christ founded. Wonderful, Jesus loving people, absolutely. Will they be throwing stacks of crowns at His feet in heaven? Absolutely. Do they have the slightest credible claim of being the church Christ gave to the world, no way. Even before I accepted this fact, I knew that if I did I would be forced into one of two rival churches both claiming to be the one and only church on the face of the planet. Those two communions are Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The reason these are the only two in the running is that they are the only ones that have a plausible claim to succession from the Apostles. If sola Scriptura is false, which I became fully convinced of, then a tangible measure of orthodoxy in the form of submission to a particular leadership is needed. Rome and Constantinople are the only serious options. So where to go? First, my qualification. This decision between Catholicism and E. Orthodoxy was not a huge question for me. By that I mean that I was following the assumption that if Christ founded a single, visible church, then He made it easy for even a layman to find. If I ask for wisdom, do some looking into history from various sources on all sides of the question, I will be able to easily identify the true church. I really believe God gives us BIG, knock you on the head clues about the identity of the church. For instance, the disunity in Protestantism is a biggie. It is as inescapable as air, and it points the Protestant to look elsewhere. Also the lack of the sacraments in varying degrees pushes them away. So whatever the answer, the answer must include the element of simplicity infused through it. So that was my starting point: For me as a layman who can only spare an hour or so a day to reading Scripture, history and theology, I have to assume that the question “what is the church?” must be one of those big questions like “how am I saved?” that is both easy to answer initially, but also has depth. It must be a question that a child could answer easily, and a scholar could study for a lifetime. Knowing myself pretty well, I went for the “child could answer easily” half of the equation! I have no stomach any longer for the pompousness of scholars and theologians that come up with elaborate “systems” for simple things like the gospel that supposedly just can’t be understood without more and more study. This is the failure of Dispensationalism, which takes what it sees as contradictions in the Scripture and comes up with an either/or rather than a both/and hermeneutic. I am fully convinced that concerning Divine revelation, the most important things for humans to understand will be simple enough for a human child to understand. That doesn’t mean they can’t also be complex enough for a brilliant mind to spend a lifetime on, but when the brilliant mind can’t seem to coherently explain their “system” to me, I get suspicious that it is the thoughts in the brilliant mind itself being promulgated, and not Divine revelation. To answer the Catholic vs. Orthodox question, I quickly turned my sights on Rome, because it is the bigger target. Not because it is the larger communion, which it is, but because it’s claims are so audacious. To claim infallibility is to invite investigation. Also it has a unified hierarchy by having one Bishop claiming to be the measure of unity. These two aspects give it what appear to be big weak spots ready for prodding. Orthodoxy does not claim infallibility in the same sweeping and targetable way that Catholicism does, and has many “autocephalous” heads that although sharing a surprising amount of common belief, have no single unifying head who is himself the measure of true doctrine. So I set out to cut the Achilles heel, to show that the Catholic magisterium has contradicted itself, to prove to myself that they are just as autonomous in their doctrines as Protestants are. I was humbled by the 20 centuries of what could only be divine protection from contradiction. I sought out the best Protestant examples of where the Magisterium has shown itself to be fallible, and found their best arguments to be but straw in the face of 2000 years of stalwart protection of the faith that is the Catholic Church. For me this recognition came while watching an online debate on the infallibility of the Papacy between Protestant apologist James White and Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis. White’s best examples of a Pope contradicting previously defined doctrines were so minor, so petty, so infrequent, and ultimately very explainable, that I literally was flooded with an emotional feeling of discovering what must be the biggest miracle in history: that the largest (1.1 Billion adherents) and oldest institutional organization on the planet has never contradicted itself. The claim is huge. Papal infallibility of hundreds of Popes for two millennia. It is so huge it is dismissed outright as being impossible by Protestants and Orthodox. And in a way they are right, it IS impossible for a mere human institution to be infallible. IF, that is, it is merely human. But the next step is rarely taken by the naysayers, please show where it has failed. Please show where there has been even the slightest contradiction between one infallible statement and previous infallible statements. Once this is attempted to a reasonable degree, the biggest miracle (other than the Incarnation) in the history of mankind is revealed, and it points to the claim of infallibility being true. It is common at this point in the search for truth for Protestants to get hung up on the “yeah, but” argument. “Yeah, but Purgatory is false doctrine, so the Pope is fallible.” Or “Yeah, but Catholics believe in salvation by works, so the Pope is fallible.” These are important topics, but completely beside the point. All I wanted to do at this point in my journey (and what I challenge anyone to do) is show where a Pope has preached as true doctrine something later defined as heresy or vice versa. It is shocking how Protestants never seem to get around to actually attempting to show this. It is assumed that the very claim of infallibility itself can be dismissed outright, because after all the Pope is just a man, not God, and has to be fallible. Or the Galileo argument is put forth or some such nonsense. What is rarely attempted is to try to show where any one of these 265 men have contradicted each other in the last 20 centuries. Seems easy right? Go ahead and try. You will end up Catholic. As a Christian in the Reformed camp, I was always a staunch postmillennialist. Basically that means I think the millennium is now and Christ is here with us in his Church. Things will progressively get better and better until we wake up one day, and look around to find out history is over and sin has been eradicated for good. So for me to see this miraculous example of infallibility within recorded history of an organization that claims to be THE Kingdom of Christ, how happy that made me! I felt like a modern day Jew who has been waiting and hoping for the messiah who first hears about Jesus. Something he thought could never happen in his lifetime has already been going on for 2000 years! For me, Postmillenialism is no longer a doctrine to be studied, but a church to submit to. The Catholic Church IS Postmillennialism! Now after reading* a sufficient amount on this issue of the Papacy to convince me of its protection from error, the arguments for Eastern Orthodoxy became hollow. Strangely, their arguments against Papal infallibility were the same old Protestant ones that seemed to be “after the fact” arguments. For instance, when the Protestant Reformation happened all of a sudden Luther and Calvin were in the position of believing in the authority of the “church” as they defined it, but at the same time having removed themselves from the way true doctrine has always been measured by the church. i.e., communion with those Bishops in succession from the Apostles. So instead of submitting to the Bishops in succession, they conveniently denied the need for succession. “Apostolicity” (as defined by them of course) was to be the measure of true authority. In the same way I see ample patristic evidence of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome from very early on in Church history. The 7 ecumenical councils from Nicaea I (325) to Nicaea II (787) were all ratified by the Pope for goodness sake! When I first heard that I chuckled out loud. Not only were they ratified, but the ratification was seen by everyone as necessary for those councils to be binding. Many Orthodox still would say that the Popes ratification is still a necessary criterion for an Ecumenical council. Is it any wonder the Orthodox have not had an Ecumenical council since Nicaea II? There is disagreement amongst themselves as to how one would even occur! WAIT. HOLD ON. I can hear the gears grinding in the Orthodox heads with the objections to what I just said. Save it. I have had enough of the disunity and excuses of Protestantism for a lifetime, and I don’t want to further examine Orthodox disunity and excuses. Here is the undisputed fact: there is disagreement between leaders within Eastern Orthodoxy as to:
1. How an ecumenical council would be called. 2. If it were called how it would be ratified in a definitive way without the signature of the Bishop of Rome.
The fact that individual Orthodox Christians feel they have an answer to these questions is about as impressive as a Protestant who feels he has the correct interpretation of John 6. That is to say it is not an authoritative opinion. The only point I need to know is that there are a variety of views on this question within Orthodoxy and they have not had a council since 787 A.D. Does anything more need to be said? I don’t see how someone leaving Protestantism because of a lack of Divine authority would then go to a church that is so fundamentally emasculated. The Catholic Church is under no such fog of confusion when it comes to defining doctrine and holding ecumenical councils. Another reason I rejected Orthodox claims is what I recognize as a Protestant smelling circular reasoning in regard to identifying the church. The church is composed of those who believe the true doctrine, and true doctrine is that which is believed by the whole church. Hmmm, sounds very similar to the “bootstrap” theory of Protestant church identification I just left. Orthodox believers will have complaints with what I just said above. Keep in mind that your intricate explainations fall utterly flat for a Protestant tired of the subjectivity and self rule of sola Scriptura. I want simplicity, and I know that Christ must have made it simple. Here is simplicity: How do we find the true doctrine? The churches in communion with the holder of the keys to the kingdom (the Bishop of Rome) have the true doctrine. See how there is no circularity? Here again you Orthodox will complain, but there you go again, sounding so Protestant by trying to convince me of your interpretation! "But the Pope said X!... that can't be right!" This attitude sounds like the self serving authority of Protestantism I am fleeing from. I have discussed the Filioque issue with Orthodox people and it was shocking how Protestant they sounded, trying to convince me how the Orthodox view makes more sense from Scripture, etc. That’s not the point! The point is WHO DECIDES what the true doctrine is. Is it the church or me and you? When Bishops disagree about the Filioque, who do I follow? Orthodoxy has the same answer Protestants do... "follow us." Well that's not good enough. So in the end, Catholicism just makes sense to my mind. How best can unity be kept in the church? The answer is obvious to me: one, single, visible beacon of unity. Outside of communion with that beacon is something else than the one true church. How can multiple heads function if there is no ultimate uniting force? This is the point that a child can understand but is often lost on the “wise” and highly educated. Just the idea of multiple “autocephalus” “heads” is an oxymoron. A body has one head. Only a hydra has multiple heads. “Christ is the head” you retort. Yeah, but on earth as in heaven there needs to be a single head. Ask a child which system works better and they will tell you what you already know in your heart. Other reasons I rejected Orthodoxy that I would categorize as “intuition” are:
1.There have been times in church history where the Pope was alone in his holding to the true faith. This fits with Christ supernaturally protecting the purity of the church’s doctrine. During these times, the patriarchates that now comprise “Eastern Orthodoxy” were (by their own admission) an utter heretical mess. Again, smells like Protestantism. 2.Orthodoxy is still comprised of regional churches which strongly identify with the nations they are in. 3.Numerically, Catholicism is way bigger. This means something to me. It seems to me to be something we should expect 2000 years after Pentecost. 4.The Catholic understanding of the Filioque fits better with a proper understanding of the family as a picture of the Trinitarian relationship. From man comes woman, from man and woman comes child. Again, makes sense. 5.Orthodoxy is more likely to side with mystical experience than intellectual. I don’t trust mystical experience unless it is firmly rooted in the intellectual. I see Catholics as doing both, while Orthodoxy seems to distrust the intellect. 6.Orthodoxy does not have a well defined, universal dogma on some very important issues like contraception and divorce. This is a clue to me that they have stagnated theologically. Christians need firm guidance from the church on these issues. 7.I see more variety in the modes of service of laity and Catholic monks and nuns than Orthodox. (this touches on my #4) 8.Catholicism has objectively produced better art. To me this is a sign of better theology, and a sign of God’s blessing. 9. I get the feeling that Orthodoxy is a "step behind" Protestantism. My money is on Protestantism disolving within half a millenia. Orthodoxy has more momentum from having all 7 sacraments and from true succession, but if the Orthodox churches remain in schism from Peter, they will eventually dissolve. I want to leave my descendants a legacy of a christendom that is true and lasting.
I don't expect to amaze anyone with my critique of Orthodoxy here. These have just been the reasons I personally found totally compelling in favor of Rome. I hope the Orthodox can give up the autonomy soon and just come back into full communion with the key-bearer. Imagine the witness to the world that would be! *The Early Papacy To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451, by Adrian Fortescue and Studies on the Early Papacy, by Dom John Chapman were very eye opening for a Protestant unfamiliar with the early church.