Friday, August 31, 2007

Fun Post Friday

I don't care who you are this is cool as hell. How to turn a flashlight into a laser.

Fundamentalist Spammer

Well I've got a fundamentalist spammer trolling my site. So since he won't take a hint when I've deleted his spam comments twice - I'll do him a favor. I'm gonna advertise his website for free for him.

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com

Here's just a taste of the intellectual stimulation you'll find inside:


Be sure to swing over and check it out - it'll make you feel smart.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is There Salvation Outside the Catholic Church?

This is a reply to Joe on my previous post. I wanted to start a new thread since it is a different topic.

This is the official teaching of the Church which you have quoted. Thanks for posting it - it's very relevant and authoritative. I agree fully with the quote you gave. Anyone who knows the truths of the Catholic Church and rejects them does not receive salvation. There is no salvation outside the Church. In the same way, there is no salvation outside of Christ (which I know you will agree with) - but a tribesman who is brought up completely ignorant of Christ may be saved by special grace in the same way that those outside the visible Catholic Church may be saved due to their "invincible Ignorance" of the truth.

From Lumen Gentium:

"This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved."
And later:
"The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth."
And there are some other more powerful and pertinent writings on this subject from Cardinal Ratzinger but I can't seem to locate them at the moment. The short answer is - if you knowingly reject the truths of Christ & His Church (which are inseparable) you are going to hell. If you are ignorant of the full truth - you may be saved though without the sacraments you are at a disadvantage.

Keep in mind that my entire family (except my fiancee and step son) are Protestant - many of who are devout Christians (including my grandmother - the most devout follower of Christ I know) so don't think for a second that I'm saying Protestants are going to hell. I would say the ones in my family have been brought up in a tradition that has kept them comfortably ignorant of the Catholic Church (this is not an insult - I love my family dearly).

I wish they would all come to full communion with the Church and naively I hope they one day will. But I know many of them have strong dedication to Christ and although incomplete - since their faith is practiced in sincerity to the best of their knowledge and ability - with ignorance of Christ's Church - they may escape damnation as I pray to God for the same mercy for myself.

Just don't expect me to latch on to hyper-ecumenism and start saying we're all going to heaven - because some of us aren't. (I'm talking very broadly here not by any means pointing to any individual or even group).

"Narrow is the gate and few are those who find it".

"He cannot have God as Father who has not Church as mother".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sola Scriptura - No Divine Table of Contents

From a former evangelical turned Catholic (h/t Pro Ecclesia) -

Soli Scriptura Not Self-Evident, but Sacred Tradition is an Historic Fact

I will offer a legal objection to soli scriptura. In a court of law, a piece of paper is only considered a page of a contract, will, or mortgage if it is obviously such, that is, it must fit logically with the rest of the document by page numbers, reference, handwriting, notations, notarizations, etc. Collections of documents not obviously of the same source and time must be incorporated by reference or authenticated by someone who knows them, i.e., the secretary of state, the county clerk, the attorney of record, the treasurer of a corporation, or a council of bishops. The Bible is not a self-authenticating document; more specifically, what we call the New Testament was not given an official “table of contents” until the Council of Hippo in 393.

The Protestant doctrine of soli scriptura presupposes about the Bible what lawyers call res ipsa locquitur: “The thing speaks for itself.” The doctrine of res ipsa locquitur allows a court to lower the standard of proof for causation in extreme cases, such as a plane crash. If you are suing an airline for wrongful death after a plane crash, the court does not require you to prove every step of how the airline pilot or mechanic committed some error or negligent act because “the thing,” that is, the wreckage, “speaks for itself.”

If you ask a Protestant how he knows the thirty-nine books of the Protestant Old Testament and twenty-seven books of the New Testament are God’s Word, he will not likely give you a convincing answer because he will generally argue that the Bible is self-authenticating, or that it was self-evident to almost all Christians during the first five centuries of the Church as to which writings were divinely inspired, even though debate on the canon continued into the 6th century. However, if the New Testament were a contract or a will, it would require authentication to be valid under law. Soli scriptura cannot stand upon res ipsa locquitur. The Bible simply is not a self-defining collection of documents.
This is an excerpt from part 7 of his conversion story. I recommend giving the whole thing a read.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Church Will Never Liberalize

A bishop from Australia has voiced his view that priestly celibacy should end and women should be ordained. (Funny how those two always go hand in hand). Let me guess... he's pro-abortion too (this is a guess I don't know his position)...

In a public response to a campaign by Australian Catholic activists to end the celibacy discipline, Bishop Power said that while Vatican leaders are unwilling to reconsider the issue, among "ordinary Catholics" he has found both support and "a sense of urgency" about the need for change.
What's great about this is a reminder - Catholicism (like science) makes predictions. If those predictions turn out to be false, Catholicism ends up being false. The Church has set her reputation on the line repeatedly. What decisive event can you imagine that would falsify Protestantism? Viewing the less-than-beautiful history of this young deviation from Christian doctrine, one can rest assured if such a thing were possible, it would have already happened.

Catholicism on the other hand, makes certain claims that could easily falsify the Church's claim to authority. If the body of Mary were found, it would falsify the magisterium. If women were ever ordained priests, it would falsify the magisterium. Both of these things could easily happen (well maybe the second more easily than the first). Almost all other Christians ordain women so it's certainly not a hard thing to conceive of happening. These are mere examples; the Church has hundreds if not thousands of similar scenarios that would disprove her authenticity with objective certainty were they to occur.
Pope John Paul II closed the discussion of women's ordination with his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (doc). Pope John Paul wrote: "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
So there you have it. If Catholics ever ordain women, it will prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that she is not the true Church of Christ. You can hold your breath but I'm not losing any sleep over it. She hasn't gone wrong for 2,000 years, what would posses me to think she's gonna start now? Long live B16 and God bless the Catholic Church.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Octavius of Hierapolis - Early Reformer?

Until recently (the last 60 years) almost nothing was known about Octavius of Hierapolis (called by some the 'proto-reformer') except for a brief mention in the fragments of Hippolytus.

Fragments of a (supposed) letter from him to the bishop of Alexandria were discovered in Egypt in 1951 though many scholars doubt their authenticity. The author does not identify himself but Protestant scholar James P. Whittington said the following:

It can be said with near certainty, the author is none other than Octavius of Hierapolis12. If not, we must be looking at another of his contemporaries.
Even several Jesuit scholars have agreed on their authenticity. Personally, I don't think it matters whether it's the same Octavius mentioned by Hippolytus or not. This shows that the Reformers were not the first to have the sort of false ideas they had about Church authority & the Scriptures. Listen to Octavius (circa 225 AD):
and worse yet, the bishops of various cities, not the least of which Rome herself, have set themselves above God by their instruction. They contradict the Scriptures with vain teachings. Did our Lord himself not say, 'heaven and earth shall pass but my words shall never pass away'? How then have they set themselves above the very words of our Lord?
And later:
The blessed apostles did not deliver this man-made hierarchy of bishops lording over the people of God. Or tell me then, which of the apostles did set himself as a king over Jerusalem? Or which has made himself a prince over Ephesus? Did not Christ also say 'even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve'? Therefore, all Christians should be servants to one another; not under the rule of any except Christ and the sacred Scriptures.
At a first glance, he seems to be teaching something like an early version of sola scriptura. However, if you read what he is actually saying (especially in the full context or at least what we have of it) you can immediately recognize that what he is concerned with is corruption of bishops. The Church has always had corrupt bishops. This isn't anything new. But just because we have corruption doesn't mean we abandon the structure of the Church.

Octavius was never canonized (for obvious reasons). Perhaps his most blatant attack on Church tradition was the following:
So tell me how it is possible that these [bread and wine] have become the body of our Lord. Is this not madness? Does one look at a goat and call it a tree? Or can one man taste a fig and call it a fish? How much less then shall we say that ordinary food has become the immortal flesh of God? Such men and such teachings have led many astray.
Unfortunately, we only have portions of his writing so it's hard to grasp the full context of everything he is saying. Obviously denying transubstantiation was a heresy. We don't know of an excommunication but it can be fairly certain that he would have been swiftly excommunicated for such heretical teachings.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

There's Gonna Be A Mrs. Fiddler!

Well I'm getting married in a couple weeks (less actually). It's gonna be mighty interesting seeing my parish packed with Protestants. The only Catholics there will be friends from Church.

I have some Orthodox friends coming; so at least they can participate in Holy Communion. I wish my entire family could participate in the mass. At least they're coming though.

Although our chant schola is going to do a few latin chants, I specifically want certain parts in English- such as the Kyrie - "Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy." and the Agnus Dei - "Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us... Grant us peace" and the Gloria - "Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father - Lord God Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world" and of course the Nicaean creed - "We believe in the Holy Catholic Church. We acknowledge ONE baptism for the forgiveness of sins".

So all the Christ centered stuff I want in English (like you know... all the prayers how we pray them through Christ - in Christ's name and all that jazz) and when we get to the part of the mass where we worship the saints, Mary and the pope I'll make sure we say that in Latin so those meddling Protestants won't figure us out!

My first mass was a funeral. I want to call attention the "Lord's Prayer" in my program the same way the funeral called attention to it - "stop after 'deliver us from evil' " you know.. stop the same place that the Bible actually does! I want Protestants to see how the Church actually reveres Scripture and holds it to be so sacred that she dare not add to it (such as this line - routinely included in Protestant Bibles - and Martin Luther's deceitful addition of "faith alone") and certainly would never take away from it (again - Martin Luther's 'removal' or 'de-canonization' of the deutero-canonical books and several NT books like James).

I also can't wait for them to recognize and see how (as my PCA friend put it) "There is more Scripture embedded in our liturgy than in the typical Protestant readings for any given Sunday" forget the actual Catholic readings.

I'll also have a "Please be quiet as you enter the sanctuary" notice on my program. You know - the sanctuary - the place where God is literally present - the place where we are about to re-present the most sacred sacrifice just like all the early Christians did. Just like any mass - we're here to worship God - not socialize (of course, I wish they had this notice there for Catholics too).

I want our schola to chant the "Our Father" Byzantine style and then the Salve Regina. During the mass I want them to chant the Sanctus XI, and for communion - Ave Verum Corpus ("Hail True Body")

Anyway... It'll be interesting.

Friday, August 17, 2007

10 Things Catholics Will Never Hear God Say In Heaven

10. "Noooooooo... I meant I would build my Church on Peter's FAITH not Peter himself. You wouldn't believe how much I shook my head in disappointment up here in heaven as I watched the huge majority of my followers completely misinterpret this statement. In hindsight, maybe I should have sent Luther & Calvin sooner."

9. "Depart from me you evildoer into the fiery furnace prepared for thee. I can't believe how carelessly you consumed energy - running water while brushing your teeth - not recycling... How dare you treat my fragile planet that way. I just wish I had anticipated the abuse the Earth would take from you humans, I would have made it much stronger."

8. "Actually sola scriptura is true - it's another one of those mysteries... you know like a square circle and other thing thats don't seem to possibly be true. You'll just have to trust me on this one. Oh and the KJV really is my version of choice."

7. "How dare you Catholics honor my mother!"

6. "And what is it with these graven images? Do you not realize that I detest 3 dimensional objects? Ask Plato, (or any of your Protestant brothers) they got it."

5. "Why did you excommunicate my prophet Montanus? It took me another 1600 years to get that revival going again! Thank ... well me.. for the Pentecostals."

4. "Free will? Ability to co-operate with or reject my grace? Pshhhh.. Yea right. Calvin! Hey Calvin! Come over here and explain Pre-destination to these stubborn Catholics again."

3. "Keys to the Kingdom? Oh come on. You don't actually think that was a reference to Isaiah's prophecy do you?"

2. "Well I'm personally against abortion too but you know you have to separate faith and daily life - especially politics".

Drum roll please...

1. "I can't believe you actually took all those miracle stories seriously. Boy do you feel stupid."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Faith

Faith is such a strange animal. Why is it so hard to trust God? Though it doesn't seem like this sometimes, if I look back on my life of prayer I can't think of anything that I really prayed for and He didn't give me. Why do I worry so much about each thing I pray for then? It just doesn't make sense. I literally cannot think of anything which I have earnestly prayed for and not received. Hmm maybe I should earnestly pray for a million dollars...

In all seriousness, if I really trusted God and in prayer, I wouldn't worry about things like I do.

Now Here's a Cool Post

Jeff over at DUiB has a very interesting post on the correlation of God's grace and our own effort to receive it. Do we really get out of Church what we put in? Swing on over to his blog and find out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Hypocrisy of Those Who Reject the Assumption

What are the principle objections Protestants have regarding the dogma of Mary's Assumption?

1. It's not in Scripture.

2. It's not found in writing earlier than the early part of the 5th century.

Why are these objections hypocritical?

1. Like the doctrine of the Trinity, it is not explicitly taught in Scripture yet affirmed by apostolic tradition (albeit we have less evidence for the apostolicity of the Assumption since it wasn't a critical doctrine for the early Church - they had bigger fish to fry). There are a handful of other Christian doctrines not explicitly taught in Scripture yet most if not all of us believe them. This line of logic disproves the objection.

But why is it hypocritical? Consider all of the other exclusively Protestant doctrines which are not only not found explicitly in Scripture but not even found implicitly and some even directly contradicted by Scripture!

Examples:

Not found explicitly (but is arguably compatible with Scripture): Calvin's re-invention of the word "Church" to mean the invisible collective body of true believers all over the world.

Not even found implicitly (and arguably contradicts other parts of Scripture) Sola Scriptura

A direct and unequivocal contradiction to sacred Scripture (see James chapter 2) Sola Fide


2. See this post on the reliability of tradition as to why the reasoning that "its first appearance is at this year, therefore the doctrine originated at this time" is completely bogus. Now that we know the objection is faulty, why is it hypocritical?

For starters, even if the doctrine did originate in the early 5th century - that is about 1100 years before any of the exclusively Protestant doctrines originated. Any claim whatsoever that written accounts of Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide (on which all other Protestant errors are built) precede Luther is completely ludicrous. Although the Protestant doctrine of rejecting Christ's words regarding the Eucharist and the Real Presence date back to the very ancient (in Protestant terms) 14th century Wycliffe, and the heretical practices of the Pentecostals have obvious roots in the Montanist heresy, there is absolutely zero historical proof that any of the basic tenants of Protestantism precede the 16th century reformation.

The Protestants say they reject this doctrine (the Assumption) because it is "young", but would they believe it if it were proven to be ancient? It is beyond any doubt whatsoever that the doctrines of transubstantiation, redemptive baptism and the current hierarchy of the Church (bishop-priest-deacon system) dates back to the first century. Yet Protestants reject those as well. So why do they pretend they reject this doctrine because of its (mistakenly) assumed youth?

Before (and during) conversion, I had major problems with this dogma for the above two reasons. So this post is as much directed to my old self as it is to any Protestant. I am pointing out my own hypocrisy after having realized it. I caught myself doing the same thing with other areas of Mariology - having hypocritical objections to it. Anti-Marianism runs deep and is hard to shake.

(Yes, I anticipate someone replying with a (perhaps) less-than-honest - "that's not why I disagree with it"... in order to avoid facing the arguments).

The Atheists Fire Back

After our friend Rick made himself look a little silly on the previous post, "The Professor" replied to my arguments regarding evidence of a proposition and its correlation to the proposition's validity. I intended to reply on the comments section on his blog but it required a log in and I have enough accounts already - so I'll just respond here with a link.

First off, unlike Rick, the Professor directly addressed my points with well thought out arguments. I was thoroughly impressed! And what a great post he had. Step over and take a look at it.

Now to address these points briefly.

So thanks, Fiddler, for giving us a quick demo of the current state of Christian apologetics.
First, I'm no apologist and my humble ramblings on this blog hardly represent the "current state of Christian apologetics". There are scores of apologists far more capable than I to deal with questions that plague non believers. You on the other hand (I say this as a personal compliment to you and an insult to your faith) have posted some of the clearest and well thought out arguments I've ever heard from the side of atheism. The problem with believing in falsity though is that no matter how bright of person you are, you're fighting an uphill battle. So while you seem to be a better writer than me and probably more intelligent, I may be able to match wits with you seeing as I have the upper hand (truth).
On the other hand, it is far from true that a proposition’s validity is entirely unrelated to the presence or absence of supporting evidence.
I agree 100%. Luckily, that's not what I said at all. "First - in the search for truth, ability to produce sufficient evidence is completely unrelated to a proposition’s validity."

The question is do we believe a certain individual's claim on a certain proposition. I'll state it again, whether or not he has the ability to produce evidence is entirely unrelated to his proposition's validity. Or perhaps a better way to say it is this - one may make a proposition and have absolutely no ability to produce evidence for it - yet the statement still be true. The actual existence of evidence is directly and causally correlated with a proposition's validity (things produce evidence) but a said individual's ability (or inability) to reproduce (or for a skeptic to test/examine/comprehend) that evidence is not related to that proposition's validity. Which is what I was commenting on.

The atheist said he rejects extraordinary claims unless he has extraordinary evidence to go along with it. It's a fair statement on the surface and to be sure I use the same techniques all the time. If someone told me they won a $10 gift card yesterday I say congratulations. If someone told me they won the lottery yesterday I say "show me the ticket". But it's unreasonable to say that if something is true we would always have the ability to reproduce or even to examine/comprehend the evidence. It is true that many times we do and even most times. Also extraordinary events don't produce anymore evidence than ordinary ones. You can't produce any more evidence for winning the lottery than you can for winning a $10 gift card. Less may satisfy a friend's skepticism in the more ordinary cases, but the ability to produce more or less is unrelated to the truth of the matter. I think this point is self-evident.
And if certain evidence is needed in order for a proposition to be consistent with itself or with reality, then the absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence, because truth must always be consistent with itself.
Very true I agree.
Not surprisingly, the Fiddler carefully omits any reference to what would constitute “substantial evidence” that Santa Claus could not exist.
Good point. I have anticipated this response and haven't yet thought this through too much. Perhaps I should have used "does not exist" instead of "could not". God could snap His fingers and make a Santa Claus - yes all Christians would agree. You have a very good argument (I think anyone with their head on straight can look at it and instantly know it's wrong) but it's a good one logically.

Here's some substantial evidence against Santa Claus - 1. There aren't any legitimate reported sightings of him or experiences of him 2. Almost no one over the age 6 believes in him 3. It is incompatible with natural law therefore it would require a supernatural power 4.. Out of all the theologies on the earth allowing for the supernatural, none includes a 'Santa Claus' 5. Santa Claus skeptics don't spend time refuting believers' arguments.

In short - everyone knows there is no Santa Claus. However, the vast majority of people think they "know" there is a God. That is significant. Freudian Psychoanalysis falls far short of the mark explaining this phenomenon.

Now the very proposition of God's existence is not a 'scientific' one as you know - it cannot be disproven. But it cannot be disproven for a valid reason due to the very nature of God. The same could be said of Santa Claus - no one can disprove him but only in the same way that we can't prove that we're not living in "The Matrix" and we just think we are experiencing life but really our bodies are somewhere else.
Meanwhile, the evidence against God is pretty much the same as the evidence against Santa: neither one ever shows up in real life outside the stories, superstitions, and subjective feelings of men.
See the third proposition (I disagree that there isn't evidence.. Again for specifics go to more capable sources than I since even a 5000 foot discussion like this is already becoming quite lengthy). Plus to say God doesn't show up outside of stories and feelings is a bit ridiculous. I've had not one or two but many experiences myself of God's intervention in my life (sure I could be delusional about it) but any atheist would, upon seeing what they considered an actual intervention of God - burning bush, witness the risen Lord on the road, seeing a dead person raised etc, reject their own cosmology instantly and succumb to theism without assuming themselves delusional. In short - we trust our senses. My senses (like most other people's) have told me that He is real. Either yours' haven't or you're delusional yourself. The question is, who is more likely delusional the majority or the minority?
There’s one simple and obvious consequence which we would expect to be able to see if Jesus rose from the dead: he should still be here. There’s no reason for him to leave, nothing he can do in heaven that he couldn’t accomplish from Jerusalem. The whole point of his ministry is supposedly that he wanted to be with us. Why, then, would he immediately leave once he had done what was needed in order to make that possible? That’s the single most significant piece of evidence a genuine resurrection would have produced, and it is quite striking in its absence.
That sounds reasonable, but along those lines that is hardly the only objection to Christian cosmology one would have. Why stop there? Like CS Lewis asked, if the universe is designed, why aren't the planets in ascending order of size? Why does God have to die anyway? Why didn't He just stop Adam & Eve from eating the apple? Or wait, why didn't He just ... not create the apple in the first place? In short, why did/does God do all these unexpected things? I mean those kinds of questions can be asked until infinity.

This is when philosophy has to come in and trump our practical sensibilities a bit. (Much like science has to trump our immediate sense that tell us objects are smaller as they move farther from us when in reality they are the same size) . Philosophy can answer these questions with minimal effort.

If there were a God like the Christian God, would He do everything exactly as we had expected? A child says "if my parent loved me he/she would do this" but the child is mistaken. Try as he may, the child cannot grasp what reasoning the parent has. And yet again, if the Christian God is real, the gap between our intellect/reasoning and His is incomparably larger than that between a child and his mother or father. So we have no logical reason to assume that God would do things in precisely the way that we expected.
So the argument from testimony tells you only what people believe, and not what literal, physical events transpired in the Tomb.
Fair enough.
For example, if the Gospel were really telling the truth about a loving God who wants to save each of us, would it make any sense at all that only one person would have a true experience of Him? The Fiddler would like to argue that there are so many people who believe in God that surely one of them must be correct, just by the law of averages.

The problem is, first of all, that the law of averages applies to random phenomena. If God is real, His existence and interactions with mankind shouldn’t be the kind of mindless, random phenomenon that would lend itself to a discussion of probabilities.
My point was more of a reference to Dr. Unwin's proposition in his book "the Probability of God". Our question is not - [out of all people who claim to believe in God, is it likely by the law of averages that at least one of them is correct?] but rather [does a huge number of people claiming to believe in God speak in favor of or against the proposition that God exists?] In which type of world is this more likely to occur, one in which God exists or one in which He does not? This is a mere piece of the puzzle, a small piece of evidence - certainly not enough to make our decision on.
We look at believers, and we find some that agree pretty well with whatever seems right in our own eyes, but of course each individual has a somewhat different idea of what “that which seems right” is. Overall, however, no one group has any advantage over any other: each attracts only those who have a natural affinity for their views, due to personality, culture, education, etc, and maybe those who have some kind of social attachment to other members.
As stated, the original Catholic Church stands far above the branches of Christianity which have strayed in terms of doctrine. I find many atheists base their apologetics on Protestant Christianity which only imitates the fullness of Christian doctrine and unity. But it's impossible to start talking about without agreeing on whether God exists or not.
Is that consistent with the idea that one small group has direct access to the full power, wisdom, and spirit of the True and Living God, and that the rest are all fakes? Is God’s influence over a person’s life so mild and insubstantial as to leave him or her indistinguishable from the fakes and wannabees? If God really were leading, filling, and illuminating a select few believers, would we be left with nothing but the law of averages as our basis for guessing that they might exist somewhere?
That is a question for a Protestant to answer, not me. Catholics are no "small group" but are as large as all other Christian communities combined and is the oldest group of Christians. We still believe and teach the same thing we did 2000 years ago.

Again, thanks for the post. Very stimulating!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On the Existence of God - How Much Evidence Do We Need?

I listened to a debate between an atheist and a theist recently. Can't think of the atheist's name at the moment - it was the guy who's always suing someone to take the pledge out of schools and what not...

He made a statement that extraordinary claims require extra evidence to believe. He used an illustration (can't remember his exact one but I'll make up a similar one). If someone said 'hey my brother got his tooth pulled last week' ... oh ok I'll believe that. Sounds very reasonable. I'll accept it just by the testimony of whoever told me. But if someone told me "hey my brother got his tooth knocked out by a unicorn who kicked him in the mouth." well then I'd require some pretty hefty evidence to validate such a claim.

Sounds reasonable enough on the surface. I'm sure we all would need some extra evidence to believe in such things. The atheist used this line of logic to reject the resurrection of Christ. Let me note a few problems here.

First - in the search for truth, ability to produce sufficient evidence is completely unrelated to a proposition's validity.

Consider a remote African tribe many years ago in which a young boy while out in the wilderness by himself catches a glimpse of an airplane - something no one from the village had ever seen. The plane flies low enough for him to describe it in detail when he returns to the village - a wooden house that flew like a bird and roared like a 100 hornet nests. Inside it rode a man whose skin was pale and wore strange clothing. The tribe may have mocked him and asked to produce substantial evidence. Surely such a wild and ridiculous claim would require an extraordinary amount of support. Yet, he couldn't produce even the slightest. Is his story true or not?

Second - in the above example (and the ones he cited), we don't disbelieve in the story of the man's brother merely because of a lack of evidence, but because of substantial evidence that such a thing could not be true.

There is no such evidence that God doesn't exist. Many Darwinists and (some popular Christians who mock Intelligent Design such as Ken Miller) would also do well to grasp this point. We disbelieve in Santa Claus not because we lack evidence for his existence, but because we have significant evidence that such a person could not exist. Likewise for evolution, we don't propose Intelligent Design because of a lack of scientific ability to explain certain processes of evolutionary theory (which is freely admitted even by the likes of Ken Miller), but because of significant evidence that such a thing could not happen (the argument rests on the strength of Intelligent Design's arguments which have as of yet been largely unaddressed and rather ignored as 'unscientific').

Third - in spite of the two facts listed already, there IS substantial evidence to validate the claims of Christ's resurrection. So much so, in fact, it's uncanny.

See debates from William Lane Craig vs (insert loser here) or NT Wright's book "Jesus and the Victory of God" (not apologetic in nature yet carries more apologetic weight that most apologetic books). Then go read the professors of fraudulent history: James Tabor, April DeConick, Dominic Crossan, James Crossley etc... The history of the matter is so one-sided in favor of Christianity it's really surprising. God didn't have to give us so much evidence - but because of our weak faith He did.

Finally, one thing that no atheist could ever grasp which is the ultimate undeniable fact of life. Even one true experience of God would completely invalidate atheism. Out of all the billions of experiences / supernatural interventions / miracles that have been claimed from the beginning of the earth, it's an incredible leap of blind faith to assume that they were all false. (Dr. Stephen Unwin in his book "The Probability of God" makes the same point and ties it in to his greater conclusion of God's probability using the Bayesian theorem). In fact, calling such a delusional mindset blind faith is being generous. Blind faith is when you have no evidence to support your claim yet you believe it for reasons unrelated to the evidence.

Let's suppose a rescue team of thousands and thousands of people are digging and digging to rescue trapped survivors of an earthquake and they finally reach a point where it's possible to continue but only at great cost. At this time, they are very certain that they've rescued anyone who is able to be rescued. One by one each rescuer tests a certain area which they believe may contain a survivor by knocking on the partially buried room. Each one walks away disappointed as no one responds. Late in the evening, one man claims he heard a voice from within the room and it said distinctly "help me" and proceeded to carry on a conversation with the trapped individual. This one experience completely invalidates all the others.

Maybe the man was crazy. But then look at theists, are all theists crazy? Such a belief is surely a stretch of credibility beyond breaking point. For those of us who have had an experience with God (or multiple), it's not a guessing game for us. We know God is real. Could we be wrong? Sure we could. But only in the same way that I could be wrong about the concept that I'm actually typing this blog right now. Maybe there really is no computer in front of me. It could be a complete illusion. But all my senses are telling me that this computer is real and so is the fact that I'm blogging right now. It's the same with God, I might be wrong about His existence but every sense that I trust to tell me truth about other things tells me that God is very real.

I'd be a complete fool to doubt these senses on this issue and trust them on any other. And if I'm wrong about God 1. No one will ever find out 2. It doesn't matter anyway.

With the facts of reality stacked so strongly in favor of theism and in particular Christianity, it's not hard to see why most people are theists and the largest group of theists (by far) is Christian. (Likewise) With the facts of Christianity stacked so far in favor of Catholicism, it's not hard to see why most Christians are Catholics. Mere popularity doesn't prove correctness of course... but hey - unpopularity sure doesn't either.

Amnesty International to Help Worsen the Genocide In Darfur

The liberals over at Amnesty International have decided that instead of making things better for these war torn people, they'll make it worse by helping to eliminate inconvenient children:

London, Aug. 13, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Amnesty International plans to support abortion services for rape victims in Darfur, in spite of strong protests from the Vatican, the British Independent newspaper reports.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Catholic Art in Seville

A reader passed along this site which is dedicated to the passion of Christ and to the Blessed Virgin. Very beautiful artwork.

Ave Verum Corpus

Our schola chanted the "Ave Verum Corpus" at yesterday's 11:30 mass for the Eucharistic meditative song. Below are the lyrics:

Latin:

Ave verum corpus, natum
De Maria Virgine,
Vere passum, immolatum
In cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
Unda fluxit et sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
In mortis examine.

English:

Hail, true body,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Truly suffered, sacrificed
On the Cross for mankind,
Whose pierced side
Flowed with water and blood,
Be for us a foretaste
In the trial of death.

We will sing it again at the upcoming Saturday vigil.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Another From the PCA Considering Conversion

Swing over and take a look at the blog called Ecumenicity. The author has commented on here several times (and for some very interesting discussion). He is a member of the PCA (as I was formerly) and is considering a conversion to the Catholic Church.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My Blog Rating



Apparently my blog has been rated so highly because of my frequent use of the word "abortion". Hat Tip: Pilgrim's Arbour (whose blog is apparently much more family friendly than mine).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Prayers for the Dead

As I mentioned in the comments of my previous post, the Christian (Catholic) concept of the 'dead' saints praying for you clearly dates to the 1st century or early second century at the latest. Of course, the Catholic practice of living Christians praying for their dead dates back even further (anyone with a complete Bible would know that). Thanks to NotMyOpinion for passing along this jewel:

Paris, Aug. 10, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Paris bade farewell to the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger on August 10, with a funeral in the basilica of Notre Dame preceded by the recitation of the Kaddish, the traditional Hebrew prayer for the dead.
Just passing it along for what it's worth. (Of course I speak in terms of 'living' and 'dead' only as far as the earthly life is concerned. Our Lord of course affirmed that the forefathers of our faith are not dead but alive thereby disproving Calvin on yet another point - the 'communion of saints' does not amount to necromancy.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sola Scriptura - A Fish Out of Water

This is a new thread continuing our discussion sparked by my recent post on Lutheran ministers marching in a gay pride parade. The subject was originally sola scriptura and how this doctrine has failed to address problems with the branch of Christianity that adheres to it in the same capacity that the magisterium has handled those same problems within the ranks of the Church.

Phil, It is true, almost all of what I argue against in Protestantism is not even true Protestantism - a distortion beyond what the reformers intended. Many of the early reformers would probably be shunned by most Protestant communities now because they were too "Catholic".

But I can't base my arguments on the exceptions rather than the rule. These pockets of Protestantism which are faithful in most everything are much closer to Rome than many of them want to admit.

Rome condemns certain doctrines - (like sola fide) and Calvin reformed Luther's idea of sola fide to fit with Scriptures. As a result, he created something very near what the Church has always maintained. Therefore he just reworked the heresy until it resembled orthodoxy enough to be difficult to argue against.

Sola Scriptura is not too terribly different. Even if sola scriptura were true - the Church would be the one to authoritatively interpret it. Orthodox Protestants might say they agree - but they've made the mistake of redefining 'Church' (Calvin did). So who cares if 'the Church' interprets Scripture if no one can point to "the Church" and say "here is what the Church interprets this to mean"? It's completely pointless.

Similarly, "Scripture interprets Scripture" is true enough and you are right to point out that the fathers taught this. But they didn't teach it in the capacity which it is often used today in Protestant apologetics. Scripture interpreting Scripture doesn't mean that any individual with a bible in their hand suddenly becomes a qualified theologian - ready and armed to challenge the bishop of Rome, it just means that you can't remove Scripture from its greater context.

Finally, the "Holy Spirit interprets Scripture" argument also fails for a number of obvious reasons. It is unintelligible to imagine that the Holy Spirit's interpretation so abruptly began in the 1500s - leaving the prior Christians shrouded in ever-growing spiritual darkness (even if incomplete; that is, no one disagrees with everything or even most of what the Catholic Church teaches). I will return to this point momentarily.

It is therefore most reasonable to interpret Scriptures not merely by using other Scriptures and not merely by proclaiming that the Holy Spirit agrees with your interpretation and certainly not by redefining 'Church' and then claim to be interpreting Scriptures with the authority of the Church as your guide.

No matter how much you'd like it to be, a fish out of water will never be the same as it once was. If you don't put it back into the water, it will die and become rotten. (If you want an illustration of this, see the original post - Lutheran ministers in the gay pride parade). The water is sacred tradition and the magisterium. Both are needed for the fullness of truth. What separates the faithful Protestants from the others is that they are dipping the fish in the water from time to time as they remain close to the source. More and more of their contemporaries say "we don't need to keep dipping the fish in the water, the [fish alone] suffices" and they move away from the life giving water. (This is hyper-sola scriptura) Their fish quickly dies and rots. There is no use returning it to the water at this point. So yes, you can believe in a version of sola scriptura that works, as long as you keep your fish close to the water and draw from the fathers and from the eternal truth which is found from its very own pillar and foundation (the Church - 1 Timothy 3:15) .

Now you have to ask yourself, is it really worth keeping your fish out of the water in the first place? Scripture belongs nestled in sacred tradition - yes interpreted by Scriptures - yes interpreted by the Holy Spirit and the single test to know whether you really are interpreting Scripture by Scripture and by the Holy Spirit is whether or not your interpretations match the 2,000 year old tradition which the Church herself has perpetuated originating from none other than Christ and His apostles.

How can you obey the Husband if you think you know better than his wife? The mother preserves the words of the Husband while He is away, the children must obey her and not their own intuition and not their own opinions of His words.

Now I said I would come back to the point about the first 1500 years of Christianity being shrouded in darkness. When I look at Islam I must ask myself, why was God (or supposedly Allah) so silent for all those years before Mohamed? (Nevermind the poor historical work that says Jesus & Abraham were Muslims). Every Protestant must ask themselves the same question. Why was the Holy Spirit so silent for the first 1500 years of Christianity? Most Protestants answer in their mind - the Holy Spirit was not silent, He was moving in many different people in the collective "church" (again using the anachronistic 16th century redefinition of the word) but humanity being corrupt, gradually departed from the simplicity of the original [sola scriptura - sola fide] 1st century group of believers until drastic reform was necessary.

Now, like Islam there are no historical documents to back this up and again like Islam, the historical documents we have paint us a portrait of a very - very different early Church. But for the sake of the argument let's assume that is correct. Let us assume that the apostles believed in something similar to the reformed doctrines - a believable version of sola scriptura and a sola fide that worked within the confines of James chapter 2. Ok. We still have one problem; one that is absolutely key - it's the same thing that tipped me over the edge and caused me to drop my pride and convert to Christ's original Church -

Transubstantiation. Not Consubstantiation and not merely "where two or more are gathered" but 1500 years of Christianity universally affirming that these substances which are (apparently) bread and wine are literally the sacred Body and Blood Soul and Divinity of our God - Christ. We say it is the very blood of the God of the universe since we believe in but One. If the Catholic Church went wrong on this point (and all Protestants say we did) then - damn did she ever go wrong. That would be no small error; it would be in the order of idolatry. Therefore the Church that Christ started immediately fell into apostasy and worshiped the created rather than the Creator.

The Mormons believe this openly as do the Muslims. But Protestants won't admit it because they can't fathom the world in which Christ would let all of Christianity slip into such error and be entirely uncorrected or even challenged until Wycliffe came along in the 14th century. Therefore the Protestants say "the Church didn't really believe that" or "the version of Real Presences they believed was..." fill in the blank.

When I start discussing these things with Protestants, the conversation always turns to - "Yea but the Eastern Orthodox..." "Yea but Mary was..." "Yea but indulgences..." "Yea but the saints are dead" etc... Those things are seen as errors because of the Protestant tradition (remind yourself as often as you need to how young it is). Just like the secular scholars all have but one thing in common - they disbelieve Christ - so do Protestants from Luther to Dobson all have but one thing in common - they disbelieve in the Catholic Church. There is no common ground on which to deny it. If you attack Luther's doctrine - every Protestant washes their hand - "I disagree with Luther too". If you point out Calvin's errors, same thing. Now each man is "his own pope".

But what if the very premise of Catholicism were true? How easy it is to accept almost everything the Church teaches! You can't accept the Catholic Church's authority by debating or by studying or by reading a blog (certainly not mine). You can accept it by cooperating with God's grace. Intellect can and will certainly pull you towards the Church - but she (intellect) will always offer you an excuse as well.

Look at which Protestant communities are the most faithful, are they close to Rome? Or are they the ones farthest away? If Rome is wrong in general (which is conceivable) then how is she so consistently close even while being so big and so old? (That to me is inconceivable).

It was sola scriptura which actually led me to the Church. Because of the doctrine of sola scriptura - I studied the Scriptures myself and found my own faith tradition (PCA) to be lacking. Although I saw it was good, and the best that I could find; I knew it wasn't complete. I therefore, like so many others, became a denomination unto myself. And finally, when I saw that my objections weren't mine at all but had been around since the beginning of the Reformation and my questions concerning Scripture which Protestants could never answer had all been answered many hundreds of years ago by the Church fathers (which were silently considered a taboo to read) then I began to suspiciously eye the Catholic Church.

I wish you could have seen my jaw hit the floor when upon reading certain Church fathers on the Eucharist the light bulb finally went off. Christ did start a Church! The Holy Spirit does keep her from error! The same Church found in Acts 15 is still alive and well to this day!!!

My imagination is a romantic one - that this Church still exists and in tangible - visible form. Christianity itself is a romantic religion - that our God loved us so much that He came and died for us. Though we are mocked, we believe that one day we will be vindicated. It is in this same capacity that I trust in His Church only I believe that history has been and continues to be her perpetual vindication. There is still just one universal Church. We have not strayed nor will we.

It may not be enough to convince some Protestants, but it's enough to convince this simple fiddler. Whether you agree with me or not, just do us all a favor - keep your fish close to the water.

Is This the Guy Who Should Run the Country?

Iowa, Aug. 8, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, told reporters on August 7 that Catholic priests should settle the question of whether or not he was a Catholic in good standing.

When questioned whether he considered himself a loyal Catholic, Giuliani declined to respond, saying it was a question that "I prefer to leave to priests." He added that clerics would "have a much better sense of how good a Catholic I am or how bad a Catholic I am."

Giuliani has been legally married three times and divorced twice. His first marriage was annulled by a Church tribunal; his second was not. The New York Republican has also been at odds with Church teaching in his support for legal abortion, gay rights, and stem-cell research.
Hey Rudy - I'll solve the mystery - no you're not in good standing with the Church.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lutheran Pastors Leading the Gay Pride Parade In Stockholm

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Sweden's Lutheran Church participated for the first time in Stockholm's Gay Pride parade Saturday as tens of thousands of revellers marched under the slogan "Love is stronger than everything".
...

The parade was kicked off by some 30 pastors from the Church of Sweden -- the country's main church -- which earlier said it also wanted to "break the masses' big silence" regarding gays, bisexuals and transexuals.

"The Church of Sweden is a church open to everyone," Uppsala pastor Ann-Katrin Bosbach explained.

This is your faith...

(Disclaimer - yes I know a small minority of Protestants hold both to Sola Scriptura and something somewhat similar to orthodox morality minus a few things so I'm not lumping all Protestants in with this blatant abandonment of Christian values).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Abortion - The Devil's Masterpiece

While we're on the subject of abortion, here is another "Spirit & Life" column from Father Euteneuer from HLI.

A few weeks ago, I visited Leroy Carhart's partial birth abortion mill in Omaha, NE and beheld for a few uncomfortable moments a totally repulsive center of human wickedness. Just looking at the dilapidated former car repair garage turned into baby-killing factory and the squalor of the entire surrounding area, I could not help but notice that the evil of abortion degrades everything that it touches. Abortion is not only a social plague; it is also the spiritual negation of God's entire plan for man's happiness and eternal welfare. Whenever God says "Yes" to life and fertility the devil yells a resounding "No!"

Abortion's spiritual power is its perfect violation of all the commandments. First of all, most abortions are the result of sins against the sixth or ninth commandments (adultery/fornication/lust). Abortion is certainly a sin against the fifth commandment prohibiting murder. Likewise, it violates the third commandment because the vast majority of babies are killed on abortion's heaviest business days, Saturdays (the Sabbath). Abortion is also a reversal of the fourth commandment where father and mother "dishonor" the child in the most heinous way and, in doing so, curse the holiness of God (second commandment) which is manifested in the only creature made in His "image and likeness." As a false religion, abortion is a violation of the first commandment forbidding the worship of any other gods but the Lord, and this religion is undoubtedly fed through a highly sophisticated system of falsehoods and deceits (eighth commandment) which lead women into the abortion chambers.

Furthermore, abortion literally steals (seventh commandment) both our personal and national futures by depriving us of children! Anyone concerned about the present immigration issue should remember that the presence of more than 40 million Hispanic immigrants in this country tracks the destruction of 47 million of our own children by abortion since the Roe death decision. The saying, "nature abhors a vacuum" is as true in demographics as it is in physics. Finally, the tenth commandment (coveting our neighbor's goods) is about the capital sin of greed, the very thing that drives so many of the abortionists to do the killing work. Abortionists often claim to hate abortion, but they love the money behind it.

Abortion is like a huge spiritual vortex of sin pulling people into it, and even the Church can be compromised by this evil too. Most of the sins listed above are sins of commission, but the Church's sins are generally sins of omission, which abortion inspires - the terrible silence of the clergy on this topic, heretical "Catholic" politicians who are never disciplined by bishops, the easy justification of abortion by Catholic educators, the moral compromise by Catholic medical personnel on abortifacient contraception and sterilizations, etc. I am sure the devil just laughs and pats himself on the back when he sees the Church, that has the spiritual power to undo "all his work and all his empty promises," sitting back and pretending that abortion is a non-issue.

All of this is to point out that abortion is a spiritual power that negates God's plan for love, life and the family. It not only destroys bodies but destroys souls, which from the point of view of eternity, represents the devil's greatest masterpiece of evil.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wanna Defend the West?

Then get busy doing what this couple is doing - having babies! While Western society is cutting off its posterity by birth control (hat tip at least in part to the Reformers on this one) and literally killing itself off by abortion, the rest of the world - (most importantly the Islamic nations) are growing by astronomical rates.

So while the average self centered-high powered business wife-metrosexual husband-bound to be divorced in 3.5 years-American couple is busy planning for early retirement without the hassle of worrying about kids (at least not yet), this couple just had baby number 17!

"We are just so grateful to God for another gift from him," said Jim Bob Duggar, 42, a former state representative. "We are just so thankful to him that everything went just very well."
Great to hear a positive attitude about kids for a change. Typically Americans view kids as burdens. How sad. God bless this couple.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Our Solemn Duty To Protect The Unborn

This post is a response to PilgrimsArbour from the comments in this post.

PA - we were on a roll, but I have to stop the roll here and raise no small protest on this issue. I am inferring from your response that you are pro-choice (and of course privately hate the evil of abortion). I know several Catholics of that persuasion as well. In fact, I was both horrified and saddened to learn that my sponsor (studying to become a deacon) was also pro-choice. So here is where I have to draw a sharp line in the sand and be very clear about what I'm going to say - just note that I'm not questioning in the least your sincerity or your fidelity to the gospel of our Lord. It is clear that you love Christ as does this particular Catholic that I mentioned.

As a Catholic, we are not at liberty to be "pro choice". Our duty to protect the unborn is listed under the section of 'thou shall not murder' in our catechism. I wrote two posts to explain this clear teaching of the Church to him. I don't know if he read it - he didn't respond. The first is called "What Catholics Should Know About Abortion" although it is lengthy, it addresses the issues you raised and it applies to all Christians (although aimed at Catholics). For Catholics, this kind of departure from Church teaching is not an option for us. I followed it up briefly with a short post dealing with the baffling myth that the number of women who would die from illegal abortions justifies permitting this modern day holocaust.

What I don't get is, how any Christian can justify being pro choice when it comes to murdering an unborn infant but not pro-choice when it comes to murdering say a toddler or a new born. Let me put this in no uncertain terms - choice has absolutely nothing to do with it. It's either murder or it isn't. Period. Either what is happening with the abortion industry is reaching the point of the all time worst phenomenon that's ever happened, or it simply isn't even bad at all. Apply the reasonings that permit abortion to any other crime and you will see how faulty they are.

If we criminalized crack cocaine think of the black market it would cause...

If we criminalized rape, many rapists might be injured or even killed performing rapes in secret with women trained to defend themselves..

If we criminalized murdering 11 year old kids then think of the power it would give illegal drug lords who would murder the kids for money in secret.

Why is it illegal to kill yourself, but not your child? Is the issue really about "a woman's body"?

Bottom line - All Christians have the solemn duty to protect the innocent and the weak in society. The pinnacle of this truth lies in stopping the abortion holocaust. Pro Choice doesn't work in any other sin and it doesn't work with this one. In the above argument I also dealt briefly with the objection you raised - we don't legislate other sins (like adultery) why this one?

I know that you are personally against abortion (as was my sponsor). But I feel very strongly that your political view points on this issue are highly inconsistent with the moral tragedy of abortion. I hope you will put some very serious thought into this very serious issue.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Speaking of the Flood

If the flood in Genesis was only a local one, covering just the Mediterranean valley, why didn't God just tell Noah to get up and travel for a few months to safety instead of building an ark for 100 years? And what about this animal nonsense?

There was a professor who explained that the Israelites actually crossed the Red Sea at a certain point during a certain time of year where the water was only knee deep. A student exclaimed "what a miracle!" but the professor replied - "Didn't you hear what I just said? It was only knee deep" the student replied - "No I mean it's a miracle that God could have drowned an entire Egyptian army in knee deep water".

Bottom line - taking the miracles out of the Bible leaves you with a picture of Christianity even harder to swallow. Just believe it or don't - systemization of disbelief is still disbelief. Hey - if miracles don't happen - no one would ever find out that you're wrong for believing in them since it takes a miracle to resurrect from the dead!

Evan Almighty Review

Aside from the movie being genuinely unfunny... I have to admit how depressing it is to live in a society where mainstream 'Christian' ideas of morality have denigrated into the kind of embarrassingly impotent slush we could have just as well expected to spew from the likes of the Disney channel.

And fitting neatly within the tired tradition of Disney / Hallmark / Whatever movies which pretend to have some sort of moral message but actually fall so far short of the mark you wonder just where they aimed...the attempted moral of the storyline would have been laughable were it not such a gloomy reminder of the shallowness of 'mainstream Christianity'.

I'm sure liberals loved the movie - it's everything they want Christianity to be - politically correct, social activism, more emphasis on the temporal than on the eternal etc... But the truth of the matter is: Jesus Christ didn't die on a cross because of capitalism.

BTW - that's main "moral" theme of the movie: Capitalism is the great evil of our time. It's not even clear what evil is taking place. There is a bill (which isn't really explained in the movie) but it's an evil one because it has something to do with private ownership of land etc... God (played again by Morgan Freeman) shows the hero a valley which used to be a lush green valley but is now filled with homes. I'm not sure if we were supposed to cringe at the evil of humans building habitations for themselves or what... but... (Maybe we should have been shown a before and after shot of the land around Al Gore's bazillion dollar mansion).

At any rate, the moral message isn't clear and even if it was it would be so watered down - you might as well not even have a moral to begin with. This sorry environmentalism is just pathetic. It's disturbing when it comes from the secular world but it's sickening when it comes from a so called 'Christian'.

This reminds me of the all time dumbest comment I've ever heard any one make when Al Gore said - [on the subject of environmentalism] "You know, in my faith tradition... we have a saying... it goes like this - 'wherever the things are that you treasure, there your heart shall be also'" With all the IQ points he could muster up, he interpreted this to mean that if we treasured the environment our heart would be intent on saving it or something... IDIOT! Jesus said DO NOT store up treasures on Earth! Store them up in HEAVEN! THATS THE FREAKING POINT! Thats the POINT OF CHRISTIANITY - (You know... the 'Faith Tradition' which you are so decidedly disconnected with). And THAT, my friends, is reason number 237 why sola scriptura is a dead doctrine but I digress.

Christianity is principally about the eternal - not the temporal. Keep reminding yourself about that if you need to. So when you see a movie like this focused not partially but entirely on the temporal (whatever the cause may be) don't be mistaken - this is a direct attack on orthodox Christianity.

When you hear 'learned Christian scholars' making fun of "fundamentalists" who believe in miracles, creation, exorcisms etc... just remember that Jesus went around performing miracles and casting out demons and He spoke about the Scriptures not as "true in so far as faith and morals are concerned" but "heaven and earth will pass away" before one jot or tittle return void. He taught us that our primary battle is against Satan and not against man or the temporal things of this world.

Israel had a much greater enemy than Rome and folks... by God we have a much greater enemy than capitalism or the free market! And this kind of radical departure of priorities in mainstream Christianity is EXACTLY what the enemy wants.

The theme of the movie is Noah's ark. The Fathers wrote for us that the ark prefigures the Catholic Church. The Church is here to offer hope to those who otherwise have none. We're the life boat on the Titanic, we're here to rescue what we can, not polish the brass. Here was an opportunity for a Christian to deliver the gospel message... or at least a shadow of it... or even a good moral message ... but instead it was used to spew hippie propaganda focusing on the temporal. I hope the rest of us are not as ashamed of the true gospel as these Christians were.