"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

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.