Sunday, April 22, 2007

International Apologetics

Im on vacation but an apologist is always on duty! Im not a real apologist but I felt like I had to respond to this guy who wrote the following in reply to this post (which was defending Christianity against paganism not Catholicism from Protestantism):

For someone so young you surely feel you know a lot, a lot of what I don’t know. The Catholics are use to omitting and contradicting the scriptures so what’s new. The ten commandments if you have ever read it states the following Exodus 20: 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments. That by the way means that you can’t make an image of anything, not of Jesus or Mary or Peter or any one else and then bow down before it like the Catholics so love to do. Even kissing the feet of a dead lifeless statue, this is for your information called idol worship. Don’t assume you can inform others of there errors and there ignorance if you yourself have not the foggiest inclination of the word of God and his instructions to us. Go on keep on kissing the feet of that daemon figure on the cross you and your Pope so love to do and then see Gods judgment in the end of days or turn from your error. Time is to short to waist. If my words sound harsh they are meant to be.
I dont think a real apologist would dignify this with a response. But Im just a young stupid Catholic who thinks I know a lot about stuff. After I finish this post I'll go back to contradicting Scripture and ommitting certain parts of Scripture that don't agree with our doctrine. I need to make this quick though so I can get back to my statue of Mary that I worship every three times per day. Tiber Jumper made a good point responding to my last post - no matter what you say to some Protestants they will never change their mind about certain superstitions they have about Catholics. You can say - "We dont worship Mary or statues" but they wont accept it. Anyway, Im sitting at a tropical beach so ... I cant "waist" any more time on this response. Peace !

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The God Fearin Fiddler Goes to Manila

So I have taken my addiction overseas – yes I am now officially an international blogger. Heres what I wrote on the plane:

On my way from Detroit to Nagoya, I sat beside a pastor & his wife who were on their way to Nagoya for a 2 week mission trip. Please excuse any redundancy or typos because im typing this on a laptop cramped in my coach seat.

This pastor was a PCA minister (or at least that’s the church he was going to work with). Doesn’t seem likely to be a coincidence. We didn’t talk for most of the way but during the final 3 hour stretch (which can be the worst) we struck up a conversation on why I had converted from the PCA to Roman Catholicism.

We touched on all the typical areas of disagreement and I thought it was a pretty fruitful discussion. We weren’t getting anywhere with sola scriptura of course. I just really cant figure that one out. Im no genius but Im no dummy either and I simply cant imagine any way for sola scriptura to be true – so it just utterly baffles me that anyone with a mind coherent enough to put a sentence together could believe such a thing.

Our main disagreement was on the Eucharist. He told me that he didn’t think that the early Church fathers were very explicit about it. So of course.. I got his email. Something tells me he’s gonna get a healthy dose of Ignatian quotes (toss in a little Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Ambrose to top it off). That should be fun- but unfortunately I am sure he will find a way around the quotes. There are some Protestants who claim that Augustine was basically a primitive Calvinist –sola scriptura and all. Then again, if you can read John 6 and think Jesus is only speaking metaphorically it shouldn’t surprise us to see that you also misread the fathers.

He said something to me when I mentioned how much I respect the PCA & OPC. He said both of those denominations will eventually liberalize “they have a shelf life”. I said I know they will and that’s part of my point, One of the selling points for the Catholic Church for me has always been the fact that they’ve been around for 2000 years and have not liberalized. In fact, they are the only branch of Christianity (actually theyre the trunk) that has not liberalized on the issue of birth control. This speaks volumes.

He said – that’s the problem, they’re adding to Scripture and have thus caused a lot of abortions. We had an interruption at that point and I wasn’t able to respond but that logic is hopelessly erroneous. Stay with me here:

1. Prohibiting birth control causes more unwanted pregnancy
2. More unwanted pregnancy leads to more abortions
3. Therefore, prohibiting birth control causes more abortions

Do you see where this breaks down? It is logical but based on some enormous assumptions than can be readily dismissed as untenable. So lets just take one case study of an imaginary Catholic named Jane (shes married). Jane doesn’t want a baby but she wants to have sex. She would use birth control but she knows that the Church teaches against that and although no one would ever know, she must follow her conscience. Well she ends up being pregnant… so she murders the child.

Now what is wrong with this scenario? Anyone who is going to follow Church teaching behind closed doors on easily the most controversial moral law for Catholics is not going to publicly violate in a most heinous way a doctrine to which there is no real controversy – abortion is a grave evil period. Therefore it is completely false to say that the Church by prohibiting birth control causes more abortions.

The other thing he said (which ive heard before) is that 70% of the cardinals have petitioned the pope (and it will eventually happen) to include Mary in the Trinity. He told me he read it in a Newsweek article. I tried (to no apparent avail) to assure him how confident I was that his information was completely incorrect although I will try to find that Newsweek article and see exactly what it said. I told him that if that ever happens, I’ll fly to Houston and buy him dinner. But it wont. Well my plane is set to touchdown in Manila in 22 minutes so better wrap this up.

Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Catholic in the Making

I ran across this blog of another Protestant who is in the process of converting to the Catholic Church. Be sure to check out her blog- Proto Catholic.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Off to the Philippines

I'm leaving tomorrow for the Philippines for vacation so the the God Fearin Forum is going to be slow for a while - 2 weeks + recovery time. I'm sure y'all will manage without me. If I get some interesting photos I'll be sure to post them.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fiscal Conservative - Moral Liberal?

Rudy Giuliani gives another nod in favor of the culture of death saying that the Republicans need to "get beyond" issues like abortion.

Hat tip - Pro Ecclesia

Friday, April 13, 2007

If We Criminalized Abortion Would Millions of Women Die From Illegal Abortions?

I stumbled across this essay from this site (full of lots of good pro-life arguments and abortion statistics).

Myth: If abortion were illegal again, millions of women would die from illegal abortions.

Truth: In 1966, the average number of women each year who died from illegal abortions had plummeted from about 250 per year in 1950 to 120 per year right before the first state legalize infanticide. By legalizing abortion, you can see by the chart provided at that site that the trend wasn't even affected!

However, even if the number of deaths dropped to zero, the moral evil of the deaths of 120 criminals does not compare to the millions of innocent humans being murdered in cold blood each year. It's time to stop the bloodshed. Only the Church can do it.

Mother Mary pray for us.

Is NFP Just Catholic Birth Control?

From Father Euteneuer at HLI

Forward to a friend

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What Catholics Need to Know About Abortion

The Catholic Church has always led the way in the fight against abortion (this is not to take anything away from the others who stand with us in the fight whether Protestant , Orthodox or Jewish - we definitely need your help) but most Catholics are woefully unprepared on this subject. Much of this again goes back to the abuses that followed Vatican II by liberals within the Church. Make no mistake, we are in the middle of a significant spiritual war and the Church's greatest enemies by far are those within her own walls. They have done a good job dumbing down the liturgy and installing their liberal theologians in seminaries.

So I want to help shed some light on certain aspects of abortion that all Catholics should be aware of (and sadly many are not). We all agree that abortion is intrinsically evil. Great. I'm not going to debate about that here, that is a discussion on an entirely different level. What we need to address are the following four questions:

  • Why is abortion wrong?
  • Even if it's wrong, should there be a law?
  • Why should we legislate abortion but not adultery (for example)?
  • What about in cases of rape?
Why Is Abortion Wrong?
Both contraception and abortion are intrinsically evil because they are antagonistic to life (Catechism 2271, 2370). Of contraception the Catechism says:
In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.
But abortion is not simply wrong because it is antagonistic towards life which God intended. Abortion is wrong because it is literally murdering a human being and is thus dealt with in the catechism under the 5th commandment (you shall not murder) and not under the 6th commandment (you shall not commit adultery) like contraception is. Attempts to soften the maliciousness of this crime against nature by calling the infant a 'fetus' are nothing more than semantic. (Even if it wasn't murder it would still be wrong but on a different level).

To understand the gravity of the offense it helps to understand the eternal consequences as pronounced by the Church. Those who procure an abortion or even those providing necessary assistance are excommunicated from the Church latae sententiae. Canon law states:
Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.
And 1329 says:
§2. Accomplices who are not named in a law or precept incur a latae sententiae penalty attached to a delict if without their assistance the delict would not have been committed, and the penalty is of such a nature that it can affect them; otherwise, they can be punished by ferendae sententiae penalties.
You are not excommunicated for simple disorders of the flesh or of God's intrinsic plan for us or even for disorders which impede the natural law of life. It speaks volumes of how deplorable the Church considers this sin to know that a Catholic is automatically excommunicated even by helping make the sin possible! For a Catholic, this issue is not up for debate:
2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:
The catechism also quotes the Didache (composed in the late first century and may well be based on the results of the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15) :
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.
Thus we are not speaking of a disordered behavior but an action which is a grave evil. But just how grave of an evil is it? Every human knows in their heart how intrinsically evil and disordered an abortion is. But in case there's any question, according to the Catechism (2268), abortion belongs to a category of evil that is even more grave than other intentional murders:
Infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break.
The liberal argues "but its my body I can do what I want" but even your flesh does not belong to you. The very air we breathe is on loan from God. All we are and all we have belongs to Him and was given to us a gift. Stewardship does not mean ownership. If your own body is not yours, how much less the body of another living human inside you?

Summary: Abortion is gravely evil first and foremost because it is a mother hiring a doctor to murder her child. There is no wiggle room on this topic.

Even if its Wrong Should There Be a Law?
Now it's time to start getting real honest with each other. No one thinks that abortion is a good thing. No one. Even the godless liberals who hate the Church and hate Christ who protest in support of this culture of death would never say abortion is a lovely thing. It's viewed by almost everyone as sort of a 'necessary evil'.

This is the ultimate liberal lie: "I wouldn't personally have an abortion but I don't think you should force anyone not to have one". There aren't many pro-abortionists (no matter how morally depraved) that wouldn't start their defense with that line. But sadly many Christians and even Catholics share this view with the left wing.

First of all, it is deception from the beginning to distinguish legislation dealing with abortion from other moral sins (we will deal with this more directly in the next question). But for now, understand that we legislate many other types of sins already (theft, rape, assault).

So the objection is raised "but those sins hurt others". As a first objection, I demonstrated previously that it is false on multiple levels to equate abortion to an evil that only affects yourself. It is demonstrably true that you are ending the life of another human being (and again, even if it did only affect yourself, you are a steward of your body and have rights only to act according to the intrinsic goodness you were created for). The second and most undeniable objection to this poor logic is that we have many other laws that really do only affect yourself (and no one raises any objections): the seatbelt mandate, personal drug use, suicide etc... Even in a case where it unquestionably deals with your own body (lets look at suicide), we legislate and no one has any objections. It is illegal for you to commit suicide in most states. Those who attempt and fail are punished and we don't have a problem. Where are the pro-choicer protests now? Why is it only 'your body' when it is another human being inside of you? So if we are to argue that abortion should be legal (even though it's unpleasant or even wrong) because we don't have the right to 'legislate morality' or 'impose our morality on someone else's body' then we are living in complete hypocrisy unless we also intend to legalize suicide, drug use, no seat belt laws and a host of other laws which deal solely with ourselves and do not inflict harm on others. However, even then we are still mistaken since it is not our body as explained above.

Secondly, the moment 'choice' enters the debate all integrity has been forfeited. It is completely illegitimate to speak of this issue as justified by the necessity of free will. If that line of poor logic worked here, it would work in other cases so lets test it. If I were 'pro-choice' when it came to rape (that is; I would never personally do it but I dont think you should legislate your morality--- everyone should have free choice) would the pro-abortionist agree with me? Certainly not. So their objection must be - 'thats completely different, it harms another person!' Again, see the previous paragraph as to why this logic doesn't work. But assuming it did, the objection only answers the previous assertion (that no law should be made against abortion because it only affects the aggressor) and is thereby false according to the previous arguments and has nothing to do with an issue of 'choice'. What I'm saying is, let's keep the arguments where they belong. If you say no law should be made because it impedes 'choice' you are unquestionably wrong. According to that poorly conceived rationale, forcing rapists not to rape would therefore be wrong since it impeded their 'choice'. Finally, if your idea of 'freedom' is the right to murder your child without consequence, there are some very fundamental and grave disorders at work and not simply a failure of logic.

But what about the Church? What does she say about the issue?
2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.

From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
And the Catechism goes on to quote the Scripture:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.
We can therefore discern two things from this text. First, an infant (yes even a fetus) has the same rights as an adult human. Second it is our moral obligation to protect human life. Just as we would be in serious sin by voting for a politician who openly called for the legalization of murder (adult murder) or rape, we are guilty of the same by voting for a pro-abortion politician. (We would never consider the politician in the former, why do so many 'Catholics' do so willingly for the latter? I will return to this question later). Again from the Catechism:
2271 ... God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.
2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined....As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."
Therefore our question is answered. The Church unequivocally affirms that it is society's solemn duty (and the duty of every Catholic) to defend the life of all human beings from conception until natural death. It is not optional. Therefore to say 'there shouldn't be a law restricting abortion' is in stark opposition to clear Church teaching.

Why should we legislate abortion but not adultery?
This is a much more difficult question than the previous two. However, it can be simplified. First, the Church does not teach that we should not legislate adultery and in fact, adultery is a crime in most places. In Christian countries the sentence for adultery is usually fairly light. But I am not dealing at this point with the severity of the sentence but rather whether or not it is justifiable to legislate it.

When Jesus pardoned the adulteress in John chapter 8, the point isn't that adultery isn't wrong or even that it doesn't deserve death; in fact, it does. It is a mortal sin. The point is that God is willing to forgive us even of such grave sins. He is also willing to forgive us of abortion. But today we neither call abortion not adultery permissible. Neither should we say that either should not be legislated. In deed, we have a duty to protect human life (as explained previously) and a duty to protect the sanctity of marriage. That is why when we break wed-lock by adultery, we have committed not only a sin but a crime. If marriage is a legal contract, then adultery is a breach of that contract. Just like lying, it is a crime and should be legislated to some degree.

So we haven't even addressed the issue of severity of punishment. It's not like the culture of death wants abortion to be punished by a slap on the wrist (as opposed to say an electric chair) but they don't even want to admit its wrong or that we have any right whatsoever to legislate it!

Even in the comparison of adultery and abortion, abortion is worse. Adultery can be mended (in the relationship) by repentance & forgiveness. Abortion can be forgiven by God but the relationship cannot be healed, it has been severed permanently! The effects on society are probably worse as well. The West is now, by process of abortion, killing itself off. We will reap severe consequences.

What About In Cases of Rape?
Finally, this is an issue that needs to be faced head on and without reserve. The Church has done a terrible job of educating laity on this issue and as a result - the majority of Catholics are entirely unprepared intellectually to deal with this question. Firstly, this is almost always a dishonest attempt to justify abortion. The fact is that rape and incest account for an infinitesimal amount of abortions. The number of women whose health could actually benefit from abortion is likewise almost non-existent. Ron Fitzsimmons (head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers) - an abortionist - said this:
"When you're a doctor who does these abortions and the leaders of your movement appear before Congress and go on network news and say these procedures are done in only the most tragic of circumstances, how do you think it makes you feel? You know they're primarily done on healthy women and healthy fetuses, and it makes you feel like a dirty little abortionist with a dirty little secret."(1)
US News & World Report said:
"Only 9.4 percent of late abortions at clinics that responded to the U.S. News survey were done for medical reasons, either to protect the mother's health (a rare situation) or, more commonly, because of fetal defects such as spina bifida and Down's syndrome"(2)
So it should be noted from the start that this is a rare minority of cases (health concerns or rape). Now, from the Catechism:
2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. the murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.

Infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.
So we should be understanding a clear precedent from Church teachings - ends do not justify the means! On the issue of rape, parents often try to drill two fundamental principles of life into their children's heads. 1. Life is not fair 2. Two wrongs don't make a right. Anyone who argues that rape justifies abortion fails to grasp one or more of these two fundamental (while yes difficult to swallow) facts of life. It's not pretty and there's no way around it. But forcing a defenseless, innocent child to forfeit his or her right to life as a result of another man's sin is grossly disordered in the extreme.

Lets imagine a man born with some hideous disfigurement (details aren't important). Needless to say, he would grow up discriminated against and made fun of his entire life. He had few if any friends and he lived a life of misery. Even his parents abandoned him to an orphanage. He has never had a girlfriend and he feels sure he never could marry. But one day he meets a beautiful woman and for whatever unlikely and improbable reason she falls madly in love with him and wants to marry him. But she can't because she has a husband and it simply isn't possible to divorce and remarry him (they must be Catholic). So this man, our hero has been born in to an unfair situation. He is the victim of an evil and arguably an evil worse than being raped. But he does have one way to fix the problem. If he murders her husband (and gets away with it) he can marry the woman and be happy. Of course, we all instantly recognize this as immoral. Regardless of how bad his situation is, we would never agree that it is permissible to murder in order to 'fix' the wrong which was done to him. In the exact same way, we can never under any circumstances, say that murder is justifiable because of rape either.

So, those Christians who believe that abortion is ok in the case of rape have contradicted themselves. If it is murder - then it is wrong whether rape is involved or not. If it is not murder, then it's never wrong (even if just done for the mere convenience of it). Two wrongs never make a right.

Now I'm not going to spend much time on the issue of the health of the mother. I have already explained that this is rarely even a suggested cause for abortion much less a valid justification. The real fact is that abortion itself is demonstrably hazardous to a woman's health and yet this is routinely concealed in post Roe V Wade health reports. Here are a few sites for further reading:

The Church on Abortion In Cases of Rape & Health Concerns
Abortion Myths

And there's plenty more if you'll just spend a small amount of effort. Bottom line - the defense is there and it's strong if you're willing to hear it.

Now in closing, I urge all of my Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters to keep one thing in mind: we are not warring against flesh (unless God's Word returns void). (Ephesians 6:12)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
In blunt terms, the Culture of Death is an army orchestrated by Satan. They have an evil agenda. Take for example a story I read today in LifeLine Volume XVI No. 1 - in Arizona, a 12 year old girl was raped by her foster brother. After receiving an abortion at Planned Parenthood they returned her home with full knowledge of the incident but due to their 'dont ask dont tell' policy, neither her parents nor the police were notified and she wasnt counseled to do so either. SHE WAS RAPED AND IMPREGNATED AGAIN. This is the type of evil we're facing. Its not a game. Its not politics, it is evil.

Just as at mass by receiving the Body of Christ we are taking a communion of life, participating and cooperating with heaven, so by sin and apathy to sin we are partaking of death and communing with hell.

To say "we should not legislate abortion" or "abortion is ok in the case of rape" is to give aid and comfort to the enemy.

Embryonic stem cell research & contraception are both also part of the culture of death but those are topics for another time. Again, the resources are abundantly available to anyone who wants to learn. I suggest you do so because our enemies are studying as we speak.

Suggested for further reading:

Portugal Legalizes Abortion

From HLI:

FRONT ROYAL, VA — “Prime Minister Jose Socrates and President Anibal Cavaco Silva will be remembered in history as the men who gave legal sanction to the mass murder of Portuguese children” said The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI).

Father Euteneuer was responding to Tuesday’s press reports that Portugal’s President Anibal Cavaco Silva ratified a measure liberalizing Portugal’s restrictive abortion laws. Portugal is one of Europe’s most Catholic countries.

The law had been promoted by Prime Minister Jose Socrates and passed by Parliament in February to bring Portugal more “up to date” with its European neighbors. Socrates called the old laws “backward” and a “national disgrace.”

Father Euteneuer responded by saying, “Any move liberalizing abortion is not human progress. That move, not the protection of life, is the genuine step backwards. HLI condemns this action in the strongest possible terms. History will remember Socrates as the one who gave Portuguese babies the cup of hemlock and Cavaco Silva as the one who signed their death warrants.”
Pray for Portugal and for the whole Church.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why Dont IPODs Have An Off Switch

I would love to see some video footage of the Apple meeting where they decided to build IPods without an on/off switch. "So today's topic - should we have an on off switch on the IPODs or not?"

(Pause for contemplation)

"If we had an on off switch it would help save battery power"

"Thats true. And if we had one it would also allow users to reset their IPod in case the software messed up"

"On off switches would allow users to comply with with airlines when they require passengers to shut off all portable electronic devices"

(Long pause ... everyone deep in thought)

"Its settled! There will be NO on / off switch on our IPODs. Won't that be so neat and unexpected?"


Sunday, April 08, 2007


Happy Easter - Here are some debates by William Lane Craig in audio format on the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. If you've never heard him, you might be surprised how much he dominates the debates. (It helps when you have the truth on your side but he is an excellent debater)

Versus Crossan

Versus Ludemann

Versus Edwards

Versus Avalos

Versus Spong


Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Saints - They've Been There, Done That

I have to admit... there is one frustrating thing about being Catholic. Every time you think you've come up with something new or some clever exegesis or allegory - you'll only find that if there's any truth in what you've thought, you can rest assured that a Church father has already come up with it.

In response to the most fundamental objection to transubstantiation, (it's obviously still bread - look at it!), I would reply with my 'own' explanation: If you were a first century Jew and you saw Christ walking around in Palestine and someone told you "that's God" you would laugh. You might respond, "I can see he's not God! He's a man. Man isn't God, therefore he's not God" and we are saying the same thing of the Eucharist "that bread is not the body of Christ, I can see it is bread. Bread isn't flesh and therefore that is not the flesh of our Lord".

But you would be mistaken in both accounts. Because if you were to shake Jesus' hand, you literally just shook the hand of God. You did not shake the hand of a shell God was living in. Jesus' body was and is literally the body of God. It is actually much easier for me to conceive of that bread became God than that God became man.

So I thought I was clever. Only to find out recently (thanks to Mike Aquilina's book - The Fathers of the Church) that St. Ambrose had already explained this entire argument and much better than I could 1700 years ago!

Perhaps you will say, "I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?" And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent. Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod. You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. The streams of Egypt were running with a pure flow of water; of a sudden from the veins of the sources blood began to burst forth, and none could drink of the river. Again, at the prophet's prayer the blood ceased, and the nature of water returned. The people of the Hebrews were shut in on every side, hemmed in on the one hand by the Egyptians, on the other by the sea; Moses lifted up his rod, the water divided and hardened like walls, and a way for the feet appeared between the waves. Jordan being turned back, returned, contrary to nature, to the source of its stream. Is it not clear that the nature of the waves of the sea and of the river stream was changed? The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock, and water flowed out of the rock. Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain? Marah was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water, and the water lost its bitterness, which grace of a sudden tempered. In the time of Elisha the prophet one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.

We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet's blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: "He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created." Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

But why make use of arguments? Let us use the examples He gives, and by the example of the Incarnation prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? If we look to the usual course, a woman ordinarily conceives after connection with a man. And this body which we make is that which was born of the Virgin. Why do you seek the order of nature in the Body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a Virgin, not according to nature? It is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body.

The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: "This is My Body." Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name,after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks.
Hope you had a wonderful Holy Thursday. I thought it fitting to post on the Eucharist before the day on which our Lord instituted it ends.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Which Early Church Father Are you?

Awesome quiz!

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Liberals And Islam

Catholic Education reprints an awesome article written by a Muslim living in the west on how anti-American liberals are fueling radical Islam and preventing its reform. Make sure to read it if you get a chance.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Resurrection

As Easter approaches, National Catholic Register reminds us of 10 good reasons to believe in the resurrection.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cleansing of the Temple

According to Mark's gospel, today (the day after the triumphant entry) was the day that Jesus cleansed the temple. I love what N.T. Wright points out about the incident - that this event is not to be viewed as merely a simple tourist's protest. That is, Jesus didn't just come to the temple to worship and get angry because they were people capitalizing on the 'business' of temple worship, but rather He had very specfic aims. The cleansing at the temple was highly symbolic. It signified, among other things, the eventual literal destruction of the temple.

From a Jewish persepective, this is indeed one of the key reasons He was crucified. According to Mark, 'the chief priests and the teachers of the law began to look for a way to kill Him for they feared Him because the entire crowd was amazed at His teaching'.

I always find myself with somewhat of a skewed image of the temple incident. Perhaps its from a lifetime of church sponsored passion plays on limited budgets. But my image tends to be Jesus walking into a small courtyard where about 20 or 30 people are present and He gets really upset and starts knocking over all the tables and yelling at everyone --- chickens are flying and its a quite a scene. Well if you've ever seen a model of the temple you will immediately recognize that the historical scene would have looked quite a bit different. And we're not talking dozens of people we're talking thousands upon thousands! Its a little too easy to forget the grandiose scale of the event.

Peace of our risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all this Holy Week.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Short History of Gnosticism

Gnosticism is a broad term given to a number of religious systems which thrived particularly in the second century and have been largely associated with Christianity though its roots extend back even further.

Gnosticism seems to have latched on to Christianity very early on but did not become popular until the early part of the second century. We can describe Gnosticism in very broad terms by saying this religion taught a world view in which the very creation of the world was part of the problem of evil. The creator-god (called the Demiurge) was responsible for creation of the physical universe (some Gnostic schools taught this was done by using an eternal matter) and was intrinsically part of that evil.

Of course, the term Gnosticism comes from the Greek – Gnosis meaning knowledge and holds the key to another and more prominent ideal of the various sects – a secret ‘knowledge’ that more or less explains this entrapment of human souls in an intrinsically evil – physical world.

Since the Gnostic communities sprang up in popularity around the middle of the 2nd century and the Christian rebuttals (for example Justin Martyr, Irenaeus) sprang up in the mid to late 2nd century and not earlier, it is obvious that the Gnostic material should not be dated in the first century. Secular scholars typically love (without good historical reason) to place Gnostic writings in the first century and sometimes even pre-dating the canonical New Testament as if the original Christianity were Gnostic and the New Testament authors thoroughly revised actual history by inserting their fabricated theology. This viewpoint (or something similar) is surprisingly held by a number of secular scholars.

Elaine Pagels in her book “Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas” insists that the “doubting Thomas” story was invented by John in his gospel as a rebuttal to the Gnostic gospel of Thomas in order to prove an early date for the gospel of Thomas. I find this to be very weak evidence. It seems to me to be decidedly more likely that John is describing an event that actually took place. If we are to agree with tradition that John truly was the author of the gospel of John of course, it is inconceivable that this was a fabrication.

This is typical – anti-Catholic revisionist history. They start with a conclusion – Christianity is false (Jesus didn’t rise from the dead and miracles don’t happen) so how can we make sense of all the evidence that points to such things? We start by labeling all the Christian writers as dishonest apologists.

I suggest that the gospel of Thomas was forged somewhere around 110 - 120 AD. The Greek fragments of Thomas are usually dated between 140 & 200 AD but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t based off an original that predates those.

By the year 126 AD, Quadratus & Aristides had both written apologetic material for Christianity. Of Quadratus’ work, only a small fragment is still extant but Aristides doesn’t address the problem of Gnosticism which leads us to believe that it must not have been perceived as much of a threat to the Christian community at that time. I believe by this time, there were Gnostic writings in limited circulation (being recently written such as the Gospel of Thomas and possibly the Gospel of Matthias) but their communities were still in the stages of infancy.

Basilides was a Christian teacher in Alexandria who apostatized somewhere around this time and probably reached his height of popularity around the end of Hadrian’s reign (117-138 AD). None of his writings are extant now and his teachings are somewhat hard to pin down due to the conflicting reports from Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Clement of Alexandria.

Valentinus founded the most popular school of Gnosticism. He was a Christian priest (and possibly a bishop) born in Africa and trained in Hellenistic science in Alexandria. He came to Rome during the papacy of Hyginus (136 – 140 AD) and is reported by Tertullian to have been a candidate to be elected as bishop of Rome at one point. Like many other Christian-Gnostics, Valentinus taught that Christ did not have a real body and did not suffer and die.

This goes to show the utter necessity of Christian orthodoxy and an infallible Magisterium. Were it fallible, there is absolutely no guarantee that Christianity wouldn’t have fallen into Gnosticism or any of the many other heresies that abounded in the first few centuries.

In hindsight, it seems clear to us that orthodox got it right; the Catholic Church that emerged from this ancient doctrinal battle truly maintained the apostolic teaching handed down initially from Christ Himself. Of course, the victor writes the history books (which as I understand it is one of the premises behind ‘the Da Vinci Code’) so how do we know that the Catholic Church didn’t just invent history that would show herself in a good light?

That is a predicament for a non-orthodox Christian to answer. We orthodox Christians insist that the Church was founded by Christ, that her traditions and teachings are infallible and that God would not allow her to slip into heresy. We believe that the same Holy Spirit in active guidance portrayed in the New Testament (the One that descended at Pentecost, infallibly pronounced through St. Peter at the council of Jerusalem and wrote the New Testament through the apostles and their disciples) didn’t just stop His activities after St. John died. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit remained active! He did not allow His precious Church – the bride of Christ to slip into the heresy of Gnosticism, Marcionism, Montanism, Arianism or any of the others that would come later.

Some ‘Christians’ still hold to these heresies to this day. There are Gnostics who think that the Church ultimately got it wrong. There are those who think that the Arian Catholic Church is the true Church and Catholics went astray. There are those who follow the reformers and say that the Catholic Church fell into apostasy and even became “anti-Christ”. Take your pick – but the one true Church still stands firm by the grace of God.

New Catholics

Check out Money Bag's post at 'A Catholic Life' regarding bloggers who are coming into the Church this Easter. Be sure to give a warm welcome to all the new bloggers. I was particularly interested in this story from Coffee Klatch.

Another benefit of becoming a Catholic is that so many of the problem passages in the Bible now make sense. Catholic teaching explains them all in ways that make sense logically, religiously, and contextually. I’m talking about the passages that many Christians either ignore, gloss over, or have to twist to get them to make sense within their particular denomination’s framework.