Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Power of Early Popes

This is in response to Phil re: my last post on Pope Victor.

We both know this subject (early Church hierarchy / early papal authority) is a very complicated one. So it is extremely difficult for either of us to get our position stated briefly enough for a post of any reasonable length. I'll try to look at this from a 5,000 foot stand point.

It could be said that Catholic historians would like to paint a picture of the early Church as close to the modern Roman Catholic Church as possible whereas their Protestant counterparts envision other ideas for the 'canvas'.

From a starting point, we all agree that the office of the bishop of Rome did eventually become the type of office which we now refer to as 'pope'. Depending on how you like to look at history, all kinds of different dates or date ranges could be given for that transformation. Protestant historian Bruce Shelley places that transformation (the beginning of the papacy as we know it or round abouts) during the reign of Pope St. Leo I (440 - 462 AD). I would say this is stretching it in the favor of Protestants and (as has been said by two others so far) Protestants would say my slant on Pope Victor is stretching it in the opposite direction.

But how can we even hope to speak about whether or not the early bishops of Rome resembled the contemporary office of pope if we aren't even clear on what the contemporary office itself is? This, I find, tends to be a consistent point of breakdown in the communication on the subject. I would highly recommend (not only to Protestants but also to Catholics) this essay on the hierarchal structure of the Catholic Church called "Why Doesn't the Pope Do Something About 'Bad' Bishops?" from This Rock Magazine - H/T Curt Jester. I think many people will find that a lot of the disagreement on the early papal authority stems directly from one or more misconceptions regarding the authority and hierarchical structure of the modern day magisterium.

The Pope is not CEO of the Catholic Church - dividing his power among the bishops. The bishops do not have delegated authority in the Church from the Pope - they have their authority from Christ through Holy Orders. The Pope isn't dictator of the Church either. Those are the types of frameworks that people (Catholics and Protestants) tend to think of the office of the papacy in but aren't terribly helpful when trying to understand the office.

All that being said, looking at the early Church in the most objective light isn't terribly helpful for either Protestants, Catholics or Orthodox Christians. Catholics would like to see Pope Clement writing an encyclical on papal authority, Protestants would like to see at least one of the early Christians advocate something similar to sola scriptura or sola fide and Orthodox Christians would like to see as much emphasis placed on the bishops of Eastern cities as there was on Rome. Each group has a little going their way (but not as much as they would like), but which one has the most? The historical case rests on each person's evaluation of the data. My personal evaluation is that Rome has the most going for it. Second in line would be the Eastern Orthodox and a distant third would be the Protestant position.

The East/West tension is extremely interesting and is a very ancient debate - still left unsettled. The fathers kept for us, tedious records not only the succession of the Roman bishops but also of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. Although the emphasis on the Roman bishops is greater than the other three combined, at a first glance, this seems to be evidence in favor of the Eastern Orthodox position. But we must ask ourselves why the emphasis on these cities? Yes, they were all important centers for early Christianity as you well know - but why aren't any of the Asian cities listed? Ephesus? Smyrna? Etc...

Why Alexandria? It wasn't even founded by an apostle! It was founded by Mark - the disciple of... St. Peter. Antioch was also started by St. Peter. Nothing needs to be said of Jerusalem. So of the four cities which were closely watched and held to be of great importance in the Christian Church, Rome was by far the greatest focus followed by Alexandria and Antioch whose bishops were both also successors of St. Peter.

You conceded that the bishop of Rome did have extra-ordinary authority but asked the question - did other bishops have that authority as well? It is a fair question. But I don't know of any kind of evidence to support such a position. If you have any patristic writings suggesting such a thing, I would love to see them. But I think we both know, there aren't any in existence - at least nowhere near the kind of support that we would see for Roman authority. The East - West schism is a subject I'm pretty ignorant on so I can't really comment on the mutual excommunications. It is definitely a very puzzling episode for me - it's on my 'to study' list!

Now supposing that we could speak directly with the Church fathers, we could ask them directly about the Roman bishop. Just like any other person, we would get different answers from each. If we asked Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom and the other late fathers - we both know that their answer would be similar to a modern day Catholic's. But the question is, would the early Fathers answer the same way? I think both of us would answer - probably not.

The reason I say probably not, is because (again) I appeal to the parable of the mustard seed. St. Ignatius of Antioch may not have understood the papacy the same way that Chrysostom or Pope Leo did, but that doesn't detract from the office in the least. It doesn't disprove that it was established by Christ and it shouldn't even lead us in that direction. What sense would it make for Peter to be a pope in the upper room? What need is there to govern differences between the bishops when there are only a couple dozen total Christians on the planet?

But what we see in Scripture is Christ saying that He would build the Church on Peter. We saw Jesus also making metaphoric prophesies concerning the kingdom of God coming with power - we now know that was reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In the same way, we now know that the reference to Christ building His Church on Peter was literally what we see in the Church today - the Church would be protected from error in perpetuity by the see of Peter. We saw that the early Church went to the magisterium circa 49 AD where the Church made an infallible pronouncement on a doctrinal issue. The council was ratified by its head - Peter. The typology of Moses pronouncing judgments infallibly for the Israelites can hardly be missed. Indeed, Jesus said of the Pharisees that we must obey them because they sit on the seat of Moses. Now there is a new Israel - the Church and a new seat - the seat of Peter.

Catholicism makes sense of all of history - leaving nothing unanswered. The historical credibility of the Catholic Church is unparalleled by any sect of any religion on the planet. At least, that's how I interpret the data.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I've Been Tagged - 8 Things You Never Wanted to Know About Yours Truly

I've been tagged by Doc Rampage. Here are the rules:

The rules are simple…Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
And here are my 8:

1. I am currently translating a 'world's first' Jarai-English dictionary. (Jarai is a language of the Jarai tribe of Montagnards - indigenous to the central highlands of Vietnam)

2. Quirk: I can't stand the sound of water being poured into a cup on a recording, the sound of recorded kissing and especially the sound of some idiot who thinks its 'creepy' to whisper. I'd rather hear fingernails scratch a chalk board then whispers on movies or audio.

3. I have a 3 year old German Shepherd named Lexi who is trained to open my refrigerator door and bring me a beer on command.

4. I used to play keyboard in a classic rock band and later fiddle in a southern gospel group (my uncle sings professionally for one of the most well known Southern Gospel groups). My favorite genres of music are sacred/traditional chant (especially Eastern/Byzantine) and southern gospel/bluegrass - go figure.

5. I work at a homeless shelter.

6. One of my all time favorite things to do is to have a cookout with good food and friends/neighbors/family.

7. Out of my entire extended family, I am the only Catholic.

8. I can quote the entire gospel of Mark in the NIV from start to finish (takes about 2 hours)

And now I hereby tag the following fellow bloggers:

Tiber Jumper
This Catholic Journey
Kenny Pearce
The Crescat
The Underground Logician
Proto Catholic
Exsurge Domine
Modern Bizzle

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pope Victor - So Much For the Concept of "First Among Equals"

Eusebius records for us yet another reminder of the authority even the earliest popes had. Of Pope Victor (late second century) regarding the East/West controversy over the celebration day for Easter he writes the following:

Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate.

But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.

Among them was Irenæus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord's day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom and after many other words he proceeds as follows...
How is it that the bishop of Rome could even presume to hold that kind of authority were the papacy not widely accepted to some degree throughout the Christian world? If Protestant and Eastern Orthodox claims are true - the papacy developed much later and there was nothing but an 'honorary' esteem held for the bishop of Rome - then what can we make of this incident? The power to excommunicate an entire region of Churches is not something that just any old bishop could presume to have.

Not only does he presume to have it, but St. Irenaeus assumes he has it as well and pleads with him not to do it. If he had no such authority, Irenaeus and other bishops would have simply ignored the gesture as meaningless. But instead, they took it very seriously.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Montanism, Pentecostals & Speaking in Tongues

I don't have enough interest in this subject to really dive too deep into it but I wanted to point out a few quick things. (If you're interested in deeper reading try Robert Sungenis' article on Speaking in Tongues) or for a much shorter snap-shot of the issues, try Catholic.com's article on the same issue.

I've heard that Pentecostalism and Catholicism (the two polar ends of what would widely be considered legitimate Christianity) are the only two groups of Christianity which are growing (in ratio to the others). In my limited experience around Pentecostals, I get a very uneasy feeling. There's a spirit of confusion - unwarranted confidence - and baseless fundamentalism (you either agree with my opinions or you're disagreeing with God's truth).

Although Pentecostalism is very new (early 1900s) the underlying heresies on which the sect is based go back some 1800 years to the Montanist heresy. Listen to what Eusebius (quoting a contemporary of Apolinarius of Hierapolis) says of Montanus:

There first, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning.
And later...
But others imagining themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of a prophetic gift, were elated and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the distinction of the Lord, they challenged the mad and insidious and seducing spirit, and were cheated and deceived by him. In consequence of this, he could no longer be held in check, so as to keep silence.

Thus by artifice, or rather by such a system of wicked craft, the devil, devising destruction for the disobedient, and being unworthily honored by them, secretly excited and inflamed their understandings which had already become estranged from the true faith. And he stirred up besides two women, and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely, like the person already mentioned. And the spirit pronounced them blessed as they rejoiced and gloried in him, and puffed them up by the magnitude of his promises. But sometimes he rebuked them openly in a wise andfaithful manner, that he might seem to be a reprover. But those of the Phrygians that were deceived were few in number.

"And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the entire universal Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received neither honor from it nor entrance into it.
So I was not too surprised when I found this article from a Pentecostal believer who feels that the Church fell into heresy immediately after the apostles. But at least this guy has a grasp on history - he (like the Mormons and the Muslims) knows that the very early "Catholic Church" held explicit doctrines to be part of the deposit of faith which contradict his (and other Protestant) beliefs.
Who were these heretics that departed from the oneness Pentecostal Church? They were Ignatius (AD 90), Clement of Rome (AD 90), and other of that ilk. Therefore, somewhere around AD 90, these bishops and their deceived followers, and other bishops of other cities, apostatized and departed from God’s oneness Pentecostal Church. As a result, they came together and formed the first ministerial organization in history; they called it the Catholic Church. The main Catholic Nicolaitan heretics of the second and third centuries are Justin Martyr (AD 150), Tertullian (AD 180), Clemens of Alexandria (AD 200), Origen (AD 220), Hippolytus (AD 225), and Cyprian (AD 255). All of these heretics loved the writings of the Greek philosophers, especially Plato, and the allegoric method of interpreting the scriptures that was used by Philo.
Nevermind his nonsensical idea that the very definition of 'heresy' somehow does not include the "Catholic Church" as the principal and only real Church one can apostatize from...(even if that 'Church' were to be the invisible - imaginary body of believers that Calvin preached). Also nevermind that he apparently has almost no concept of Platonism if he thinks the aforementioned Church fathers borrowed from it while modern day Protestants do not...

I love what he says about Montanus though:
Montanus was a second-century Catholic ascetic, who considered himself to be a prophet. He, like Luther, tried to reform Catholicism, but later gave up after being excommunicated in AD 177. It was at this time, he started his own denomination. Therefore, in a real sense, he was the first Protestant Reformer.
Yea, that sounds about right. And on Eusebius he says:
Eusebius, a Catholic Bishop and one of the early Catholic Church historians, wrote against Montanus in no doubt very exaggerated terms; that is, he claimed that Montanus, Maximilla, and Priscilla claimed to be the Lord Jesus Christ, and sometimes the Holy Spirit. This is nothing but foolishness. For anyone who knows anything about the spirit of prophecy or the interpreting of tongues, knows when God speaks through any of His children, in either of these gifts, He always speaks in the first person and not the third person!
(As mentioned above, Eusebius was actually quoting another author on the Montanist heresy)...later...
Therefore, when we read Eusebius, or any ancient Catholic priest’s writing, who wrote against their enemies, we should bear in mind he is speaking from a heart that is full of bias and hate.
Just remember, only Oneness Pentecostals have the ability to write without any bias and in perfected love.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hate Crimes

I recommend this article on hate crimes by Chuck Colson via Catholic Education.

I'm Justinian


You’re Justinian!


In the sixth century, Justinian accomplished the brief recovery of the empire’s old territory in the east, in Africa, and in the west. His victories, however, were hard won over the course of decades, and they came at a great cost in human life, not to mention taxation. Paradoxically, Justinian’s military successes probably contributed to the empire’s subsequent decline. The conquered lands were hardly secure, and many were lost in the years after his death. During his reign there was a great flowering of Byzantine culture, whose monuments remain in Istanbul (e.g., Hagia Sophia) and Ravenna. His reconstitution of Roman law, the so-called Justinian Code, is still the basis of civil law in some modern states. Justinian is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church.


Find out which Byzantine ruler you are at The Way of the Fathers!



Friday, July 20, 2007

Another Convert

This one is from one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. His new blog is called Pax Anima. Hat tip Amber at This Catholic Journey.

Silly Catholics...

Random short story: About 10 years ago, I ran into a Catholic who said "you know, I kept hearing Protestants tell me how un-biblical and wrong my faith was - so I decided I'd study for myself and see. But after extensive research, I've found that they're wrong - history and the bible is on my side" and I remember thinking to myself "How on earth can this guy be that stupid?" I thought it was a self evident truth - Catholicism was for idiots.

Little did I know...I was the idiot. I always think back to that moment and my vain attempts to 'enlighten him' by the teachings of the reformers... I wish I could find that guy again and tell him I was wrong - and now I'm Catholic... Oh well.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today's Top Five Keywords

I'm really getting a kick out of keywords people are using to find my blog. Today's top 5 are:

5. "Widney Brown Karate"
???

4. "White person pretending to be black"


3. "Apocalypto Philosophy"


2. "Did Paul founded cat?"

and the number one strange keyword string....

Drumroll please...

1. "Church fathers on cockfighting"

(Wonder what ole' Irenaeus would have to say about that...and maybe we could get Justin Martyr's advice on this Mike Vic case while we're at it)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Catholic News Site

This (relatively) new Catholic News site looks really good. Give it a look.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Damn Right It's 'None of the Above'

A recent article from the AP opens:

WASHINGTON - And the leading Republican presidential candidate is ... none of the above.

The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney,
What a breath of fresh air. Just got one word for you: Brownback.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Population Control - Forced Abortion



Via this article from Catholic Education.

The Results are in... I'm Catholic!

You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


100%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


82%

Neo orthodox


68%

Fundamentalist


57%

Reformed Evangelical


36%

Classical Liberal


36%

Emergent/Postmodern


32%

Charismatic/Pentecostal


21%

Modern Liberal


7%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Some of the questions are a little ambiguous - and of course all the results depend on the author's presuppositions about each denominations beliefs (not that Roman Catholic is a denomination)... Hat tip Tiber Jumper.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pollution Caused by Birth Control

Here's a great article on a study that examines the negative environmental effects that birth control has and the liberal hypocrisy regarding it. Hat tip Crescat & Curt Jester (some of the comments on Curt Jester's site are also worth a look).

Funny Keywords

Do you ever check your hit counter to see which keywords people are using to find your site? I check them periodically, usually just for a good laugh. The most bizarre keyword string I ever saw someone use to find my site was "gay orthodox freemason"........What they were actually looking for I have no clue and why they found my site I'm not sure either...

This one today was funny: "does god allow you to win the lottery"

The answer is ... .000001% yes 99.99999% no.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

When Were the Gospels Written?

It's surprising how many Christians believe that the gospels are inspired...inerrant while at the same time believing the most current consensus among New Testament scholars regarding the dates and authors of the gospels. Until recently, I was one of those Christians as well. I have since put quite a bit of thought into the subject and have changed my opinions.

The current consensus is Mark was written first about 68 AD - followed by Matthew & Luke written in the 70s or possibly 80s. John was written around 100 AD. Many also deny that they were written by eyewitnesses or even close to eye witnesses.

Some fringe scholars actually place the gospels much later, but even some secular scholars place the dates earlier. I would say though, that the dates above represent the predominant view among both Christian and secular scholars.

I found this article on Matthean Priority to be extremely helpful on the subject and would highly recommend reading it. The problem is, if Mark wrote first and Matthew & Luke came later - adding their own theology into Jesus' mouth, then their gospels aren't really inspired at all. They're not Scripture if they're not true.

Though I have seen some convincing reasons to believe in Markan priority, I think there are even more convincing reasons to believe in Matthean priority. Here are a few quick reasons... In Luke's gospel, Jesus' prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem uses very specific language - the city will be surrounded by an army etc... In Mark Jesus says no such thing, if Luke wrote after Mark and after 70 AD this means that Luke was changing Jesus' words to fit history. Unacceptable for orthodox Christian belief.

If Luke wrote so late and also wrote Acts (which is uncontested as far as I know) then why did he leave out the martyrdom of Peter and Paul? Why did he leave out the destruction of Jerusalem? Outside of the Resurrection and Pentecost, these are three of the most significant events in early Christian history... The argument from silence may be a weak one when it comes to history, but there is a thin line where it crosses from a weak argument to a no-brainer... Luke not mentioning these events would be the equivalent of a 21st century historian who focused on Islamic terrorism not mentioning 9-11. It's inconceivable.

All the Fathers place Matthew first. Is it so hard to conceive of that they were privy to some evidence that we no longer are? On the contrary, I would argue that it's inconceivable that they weren't. In fact, I would say it's a certainty that they not only had some additional evidence, but a substantial amount of additional evidence.

From various patristic sources it is as certain of a historical fact as anything else that Matthew's gospel was originally written in Hebrew (or Aramaic). We know this because of the Church fathers' testimony including St. Jerome who stated that it was still extant in his day. He would never write such a thing were it not.

How can his gospel have been written in Hebrew originally if Mark was written first since so much of the Greek is verbatim? Again, this is conceivable as a physical possibility - but in reality, we can instantly recognize that it's not true.

Eusebius records that when Pantaenus visited India, he found a copy of Matthew's gospel in the original Hebrew. We know that Thomas went there in the year 52 AD and Bartholomew also evangelized in India.

It is therefore my opinion that Matthew wrote in Hebrew (or actually Aramaic) before 52 AD but it saw limited circulation and did not eventually survive. Perhaps one of the only copies was taken by Thomas or Bartholomew to India. Luke wrote his gospel based on a Greek translation of Matthew's gospel and careful research of other documents extant at the time but no longer extant now. (Some of the Gnostic gospels such as Thomas may have also used some of those sources). Luke then proceeded to write the Acts of the Apostles probably in the early 60s. Between 62 & 67 AD (probably closer to the latter) Mark wrote his gospel. Mark's gospel was based on shorthand notes of a homily from St. Peter in Rome (at the request of the Christians there) based on St. Matthew's gospel. Mark, in compiling the shorthand notes into full length also reconciled accounts using a copy of Luke's gospel but was 'careful to change nothing'.

St. Peter approved the gospel and Mark took it to Alexandria (where he had founded the Church earlier but had been succeeded by Anianus as bishop). This timeline is certainly not what typical scholars believe - but it reconciles 98% of patristic witness on the subject and is easily conceivable as actual history.

John wrote his gospel after 70 AD - probably towards the end of the 1st century - as a supplement to the synoptics.

I don't believe that any of the apocryphal gospels extant today were written before any of these gospels. The so called gospel of Hebrews may possibly precede John's but it's impossible to know. I don't believe the gospel of Thomas was forged until about 120 AD.

Again, I highly recommend reading the above article which makes a much more detailed argument than I did. I'm simply challenging readers to rethink their current suppositions on the gospel dates (and authors).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The New Exodus - Protestants Crossing the Tiber

This is a very interesting article (hat tip Tiber Jumber) talking about the recent surge in Protestants converting to the Catholic Church.

It reminds me of a conversation my friend was telling me about recently. His brother is PCA and the two are engaged in a perpetual theological argument over email. When the fact of the tremendous growth in the Church due to conversion was brought up, his brother pointed out that many Catholics have converted to various Protestant faiths as well. I pointed out, 'yea but look at who converts from the Catholic Church - without any exception that I know of, those who left the Church are those who knew their faith the least'. Almost no-one leaves the Church for theological reasons but rather, for the living room liturgy the typical Protestant church. On the contrary, those converting to the Catholic Church (not all but a great many) are typically extremely knowledgeable about their former Protestant beliefs and are converting precisely because they realized that Protestant theology doesn't work (for examples, see my side bar - many if not most of those links are blogs of fellow converts from Protestantism and you'll find plenty more if you just look). From the article above:

It is most encouraging that Catholicism is getting the crème of the crop from other churches. Entry into the Church for these converts is usually made after a long, difficult journey to come to terms with something that they never thought possible.
The other interesting thing is the criticism and rebuke often felt by former Protestants. I was both amazed and disappointed at the hateful rhetoric hurled by respected Protestant scholars and theologians on Dr. Beckwith's recent conversion. The same could hardly be said for Catholics who leave the Church. Theirs is usually a very easy road.

My family was unusually supportive of my conversion from the beginning but I have a number of friends who were all but disowned and from what I read on convert blogs, their story isn't too abnormal.

A PCA minister emailed me quite some time ago.. he was toying with the idea of conversion but had some theological issues with the Church. We only had a brief dialogue then but I decided to dig up his email and give him a curiosity checkup. He emailed me back from Rome - literally! He had just converted.

I was having dinner with a friend of mine last weekend - a PCA elder and if you find anyone who knows Presbyterian doctrine or Calvinism or the Westminster Confession of Faith more than him, I'll give you a dollar. I told him about this incident with the other PCA minister and I said "No wonder the PCA is so small, they're all joining the Catholic Church!" He too, is considering conversion.

He made the remark that "I don't think its a big secret that the Catholic Church had some big problems in Luther's day... but the Catholic Church then - doctrinally was a far better Church than mainstream Protestantism today." I of course agreed. I have another good friend - an elder in the OPC. He is fond of quoting the founder of his denomination "We have more in common with the Catholic Church than with the mainstream liberal Protestant denominations".

Luther and Calvin must have seemed reasonable at the time - after all, they deceived no small number of the faithful...if I had been alive at the time, I'm sure I would have bought into it as well. But 500 years and 33,000 denominations later... it's no mystery why so many are returning to Rome.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Pope Soter

In 166 AD, the year following Justin's martyrdom, Soter succeeded Anicetus as bishop of Rome. Dionysius, the bishop of Corinth records the following (as quoted by Eusebius):

For from the beginning it has been your practice to do good to all the brethren in various ways, and to send contributions to many churches in every city. Thus relieving the want of the needy, and making provision for the brethren in the mines by the gifts which you have sent from the beginning, you Romans keep up the hereditary customs of the Romans, which your blessed bishop Soter has not only maintained, but also added to, furnishing an abundance of supplies to the saints, and encouraging the brethren from abroad with blessed words, as a loving father his children.
He also mentions Pope Clement's earlier letter to their city and how they still read it in public worship along with Soter's letter which is no longer extant (remember the canon was not settled at this time and Clement could rightly be called a direct disciple of the apostles).

This is about the only information we know of Soter - he was known for continuing the Church at Rome's generosity and as did the former bishops of Rome he acted as a father to the Church elsewhere. O how I wish we still had his epistle!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

2007 Charlotte Bon Odori Festival

Although it's unrelated to my blog, this festival never gets good publicity so to let people know where it is - the 2007 Charlotte Bon Odori Festival will be held on August 4th at the same place it was last year - the Wachovia center on N Tryon St.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bad Statistics

I make a living using statistics, it's my favorite science. I think there are two types of people in the world - those who have a fundamental grasp on statistics and... the other people. What gives statistics such a bad name is that they require so much common sense to interpret the data. The math is correct, the statistical theorems are all solid mathematically. But it's studies like this one that make people suspicious of statistics altogether. Well I'm not necessarily criticizing the study itself but the way the Associated Press is running with it.

WASHINGTON - Another stereotype — chatty gals and taciturn guys — bites the dust. Turns out, when you actually count the words, there isn't much difference between the sexes when it comes to talking.
Funny how since contemporary society (especially the left) ignorantly hate all stereotypes are using the principal science behind stereotyping - statistics - in order to disprove one!

The researchers placed microphones on 396 college students for periods ranging from two to 10 days, sampled their conversations and calculated how many words they used in the course of a day.

The score: Women, 16,215. Men, 15,669.

The difference: 546 words: "Not statistically significant," say the researchers.

So a joe schmoe reading this article may think the issue is settled when it's far from it. You can read further to get some more clarification but let me just interpret what this really means: it means that this particular survey did not produce enough evidence to say that college girls (in that particular area) spoke more than their male counterparts when they knew they were being recorded for survey purposes. That's what "not statistically different" means. They may very well be different and in fact, by all observable evidence they probably are, but we simply don't have enough evidence from this survey to conclude that they are with 95% confidence or more. So we may be 94% confident that they talk more but it's not confident enough to meet the .05 alpha which is the typical standard.

It may be true that they don't talk much more I don't know. From my own personal observances I would bet that it's not true, but all I'm saying is this survey doesn't disprove the stereotype.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Catholics Against Rudy


If you don't have one of these, save it and put it up on your blog.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Throw Out the Good & Keep the Bad?

If (as according to Protestants) the "Roman Catholic Church" now isn't the same one that drafted the Nicaean Creed etc... How is she the same one that embarked on the Crusades? How is she the same authoritative body that executed the Inquisition?

How come only "bad" things (assuming that either of those even were bad) are handed down through succession?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Who Really Wrote the Gospels?

I recently stumbled on a website (apparently Catholic) with an encyclopedia like entry that stated scholars agree that the gospel authors were not eyewitnesses of Christ. I e-mailed the webmaster the following:

In your document “St. Thomas the Apostle” you stated:

“Scholars of the New Testament generally agree that none of the gospels were written by people who had ever met Jesus of Nazareth during his lifetime.”

I’m not sure if your site is supposed to be Catholic or what but you should know first that your statement is not in line with Church teaching. Apostolic Authority was one of the key criteria for selecting the books of the canon. If it is true that the authors were not apostolic (either eye witness or close disciple of an eye witness) then several councils (ratified by popes) would be in error thus pretty much invalidating the entire faith.

Secondly, it is not true that scholars generally agree on that statement. Yes there are a number of liberal scholars who reject all written history available and say that the authors were not Matthew-Mark-Luke John… But there are still a huge number of Orthodox scholars who believe that they were written by the said authors .

I hope you will take time to consider how important it is to be in line with Church teaching and tradition in the future.

The peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you both now and forever. Amen
I was pleasantly surprised to receive the following response the same day:
I reviewed the statement that you pointed to in your email. The encyclopedia used for the source of this statement verified its usage. I decided that the statement is an opinion and removed it. Thank you for taking the time to email me of your concern.
Just goes to show ya never know what can happen - and don't sit by while lies are being told about your faith!