Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Reformation Polka

Don't mean to bump JohnMark, but...bump!

The Reformation Polka

by Robert Gebel
From here.

[Sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious"]

When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian!
Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!


When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!"
Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!


They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!"
Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!


Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek!
Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!


Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance!
Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Reformation Day 2007: The Sinner’s Justification

Today, we don't hear as much about sin from the pulpit as was once popular. I'm not talking about just preaching hellfire and damnation either. I'm talking about our actual biblical stance as a sinner before a holy God. I know it's not PC to talk about sin in such a way because it's not peaceful, welcoming nor comforting to the unbelieving world. As the world listens we must tell them we are sinners just as they are while pointing to the cross. And there is nothing good in any of us to earn favor with God, but they, like us, must come to Jesus Christ by grace through faith relying only on His righteousness imputed to us that we may be just with God.

It is probably even more important that the faithful get back to preaching this doctrine of justification in light of our sinfulness. Not only preaching it, but living it out in our local churches. This must be done before we can be honest with the unbelieving world. How humbled our local fellowships would be as we'd have no choice but to focus on the cross of Christ with a total reliance on the Gospel.

In closing, I offer a couple of quotations from the 1866 lectures of James Buchanan.
The best preparation for the study of this doctrine is-neither great intellectual ability, nor much scholastic learning, -but a conscience impressed with a sense of our actual condition as sinners in the sight of God. A deep conviction of sin is the one thing needful in such an inquiry, -a conviction of the fact of sin, as an awful reality in our own personal experience, -of the power of sin, as an inveterate evil cleaving to us continually, and having its roots deep in the innermost recesses of our hearts, -and of the guilt of sin, past as well as present, as an offence against God, which, once committed, can never cease to be true of us individually, and which, however, He may be pleased to deal with it, has deserved His wrath and righteous condemnation. Without some such conviction of sin, we may speculate on this, as on any other, part of divine truth, and bring all the resources of our intellect and learning to beat upon it, but can have no suitable sense of our actual danger, and no serious desire for deliverance from it. To study the subject with advantage, we must have a heartfelt interest in it, as one that bears directly on the salvation of our own souls; and this interest can only be felt in proportion as we realize our guilt, and misery, and danger, as transgressors of God's Law. The Law is still, as it was to the Jewish Church, 'a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith;' and the law must be applied to the conscience, so as to quicken and arouse it, before we can feel our need of salvation, or make any serious effort to attain it. It is the convinced, and not the careless, sinner, who alone will lay to heart, with some sense of its real meaning and momentous importance, the solemn question

-'How shall a man be just with God?'1

No change is more striking or more instructive than that which is often produced instantaneously on all a man's views of the method of salvation, when from being a careless, he becomes a convinced, sinner. As a careless sinner, he presumed on mercy; as a convinced sinner, he can scarcely dare to hope for it: once he reckoned on pardon, or rather on impunity; now 'his heart condemns him,' and he knows that 'God is greater than his heart:' formerly he imagined that reformation of life would be sufficient to secure his welfare; now he feels that a radical heart-change is necessary, such as he is altogether unable to work in himself, -and immediately on this change of his views in regard to sin, there follows a change in all his views of salvation, and those very doctrines of free and efficacious grace, which he once despised or rejected as 'foolishness,' are found to be the 'wisdom of God.'2


Amen and Amen!

Mark

1. James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification: An Outline of Its History in the Church and of Its Exposition from Scripture (Birmingham: Solid Ground Classic Reprints, 2006), 222-223.

2. ibid., 224-225.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Iron Sharpens Iron interview went well. The MP3 can be found here. The topic was "MARTIN LUTHER: FACTS AND FICTION." I addressed the indulgence controversy, the historical understanding of sola fide in church history, and other facts and fiction surrounding Luther's life.

Special thanks to John Mark for calling in!

Radio Interview

I will be on Iron Sharpens Iron Tuesday, October 30, 3-4 PM. You can listen in live, or wait for the MP3 later in the day. The Iron Sharpens Iron website has information about the show, as well as some great archives of previous shows.

The topic will be "Luther and The Reformation Facts and Fiction." I'm going to talk about indulgences, justification, sola fide, the way Catholics and Protestants understand Luther, and maybe, if there is time to look at some other Luther myths & facts.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Surveys on Catholic "Unity"



The following post is one that I made on my own blog a few months back in response to some comments on another post on Catholic unity with regards to beliefs of the laity. The original comment said:

“We are unified in that there is a core set of beliefs (dogmas) that all catholics believe. There will always be people who disagree on this aspect or that one. But, our beliefs on these dogmas are resolute. Protestants, on the other hand, cannot agree on any aspect or teaching. They all claim Sola Scriptura, but that is all.”

Recently, "anonymous" had this to say on the Gerry Matatics post:

“go to 100 Catholic Churches, gather 500 people at random and ask them what are the roles of scripture, clergy, grace and the sacraments, then do the same with 100 Reformed Baptist churches and see what happens. There isn't a person reading this that does not know that the former group would be nearly homogeneous compared with the latter which would sport as many theories as a 9/11 Truther symposium.”

In response to these assertions on Catholic "unity", I am providing the following excerpts from surveys published on Catholic websites:


Catholic beliefs and practices: the challenge ahead for Australia

-Only 6.8 per cent of 20-24-year-olds attended regularly (down from 7.2 per cent in 1996) and 5.6 per cent of 25-29-year-olds (down from 7.0 per cent) attended [Mass].

-Acceptance of the virgin birth among Mass attenders ranged from 73 per cent for 18-24-year-olds to 81 per cent for those aged 56 or over.

-In the case of belief in the Eucharist truly being the Body and Blood of Christ. Only 46 per cent of 15-17-year-old Mass attenders accepted this doctrine, whereas 81 per cent of those aged over 56 did so. In between these groups the level of belief rose with age.

-Belief in God as the Holy Trinity again reflected age differences, with 51 per cent of 15-17-year olds accepting it, increasing to 78 per cent for over 56-year-olds.


Young adults’ lack of participation problem for U.S. Catholic Church, study says

-One of the main results of the new survey was to confirm and reinforce earlier findings that younger adult Catholics tend to have a looser, more tenuous relationship with the church than their older counterparts.

-The younger Catholics are less likely to accept church teachings on issues of sex and marriage or to consider the church's teaching role important in such matters, for example, and they are less likely to attend Mass regularly or to consider Mass attendance important for being a good Catholic

-Only one-fourth go to Mass on a weekly basis.

-Less than half believe that the teaching authority claimed by the Vatican is very important. A majority disagree with church teachings related to sexual and reproductive issues.

-And if a sizable number of young adults report that they do not understand their faith well enough to explain it to their own children, they have a problem, and so does the church.

The Cara Catholic Poll

-Seventy percent of Catholics believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist while 30 percent believe bread and wine are only symbols of Jesus.

Clearly all Catholics do not agree on the essential dogmas (and very clearly they don’t agree on general teachings like prohibition of birth control). A preemptive strike by a commenter on my introduction post said this:

"Are there dissneters in the Catholic Church? Sure. Does any Catholic claim we are 100% unified? No. Besides Carrie, what do you hope to accomplish? That Catholics are just as disunited as Protestants? So what?"


The answer is: parity is not good enough. Catholicism claims a superior position to Protestantism in matters of unity and certainty and yet those claims can not be backed up. The "so what, you're no better" answer does not cut it in these discussions.


Fan Club Testimonials

Here's a comment from someone called "Sexy Secularist". My blog entry on "Luther and Reason" was evaluated, and my review of a Luther quote was said to be a "fatuously windbaggish and unconvincing contextualization. "

[Luther said] "Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God."

(I should note here that the trouble in sourcing this quote is that we can’t be sure that Luther actually said it. It’s taken from
Tabletalk, a collection of sayings attributed to Luther, transcribed by his friends and students.

A fatuously windbaggish and unconvincing contextualization of the quote can be found
here— at one point the author reasons that Luther’s embrace of self-contradictory and irreconciliable [sic] beliefs was proof of his genius. But I digress.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rain

Rain. We try not to go out in it or drive in it if we can help it. We put on special water proof clothes and use umbrellas to keep from getting wet from it. But at the same time we can't live without the water it brings. Water is a sustainer of life and even the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives "living water" which brings eternal life. Like many here in the U.S. land of plenty who take this living water for granted dare I say we also take our everyday water even more for granted.

How often do we think about taking a long hot shower or excessively running the kitchen or bathroom water in light of water conservation? Probably not much. We're in the U.S. we can' t run out of anything. Normally, water is pretty much plentiful, however, not at this time. God has seen fit in His providence to limit our water supply in certain areas.
Psalm 147:8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains

We must repent and pray that God has mercy on us. I refer to the need for God's grace in the current state of drought here in Atlanta and the other areas affected on the east coast as well as the fires in California. This plea has further implications than just this particular time of need. This speaks to the whole of the Christian life to call upon God and praise Him in all we have and don't have. To live a life of repentance for His glory.

Even though it's a different kind of trial Paul writes to believers showing us what we should do during these times. Pray for each other, trust in the Lord.
2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

James tells us also.
James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Some of us can be thankful that we still have water left though not much. It's been devastating for those involved in the California fires. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters there and pray God may bring unbelievers to Himself through those events. A hard message both for us to tell and for unbelievers to hear are Jesus' words in Luke 13. To tell someone out of love that "unless you repent, you will likewise perish" using those who've died in a disaster as the example is tough. But we are called to share the Gospel and thank the Lord we live in a country were we can.

We have to understand that we are only in believers in Christ because of God's grace. And we continue to need God's grace to trust in Him and not worry about our lives. Though we continue to fall short He will provide for us.
Matthew 6:25 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

I also want to thank Gene, Tom and Frank for the exhortations to pray and repent for the grace of God in a major time of need.

Many times it's the simplest things in life we forget to be thankful for whether it be the water He provides or the next breath we take.

Forgive us,

Mark

Rain

Rain. We try not to go out in it or drive in it if we can help it. We put on special water proof clothes and use umbrellas to keep from getting wet from it. But at the same time we can't live without the water it brings. Water is a sustainer of life and even the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives "living water" which brings eternal life. Like many here in the U.S. land of plenty who take this living water for granted dare I say we also take our everyday water even more for granted.

How often do we think about taking a long hot shower or excessively running the kitchen or bathroom water in light of water conservation? Probably not much. We're in the U.S. we can' t run out of anything. Normally, water is pretty much plentiful, however, not at this time. God has seen fit in His providence to limit our water supply in certain areas.
Psalm 147:8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains

We must repent and pray that God has mercy on us. I refer to the need for God's grace in the current state of drought here in Atlanta and the other areas affected on the east coast as well as the fires in California. This plea has further implications than just this particular time of need. This speaks to the whole of the Christian life to call upon God and praise Him in all we have and don't have. To live a life of repentance for His glory.

Even though it's a different kind of trial Paul writes to believers showing us what we should do during these times. Pray for each other, trust in the Lord.
2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

James tells us also.
James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Some of us can be thankful that we still have water left though not much. It's been devastating for those involved in the California fires. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters there and pray God may bring unbelievers to Himself through those events. A hard message both for us to tell and for unbelievers to hear are Jesus' words in Luke 13. To tell someone out of love that "unless you repent, you will likewise perish" using those who've died in a disaster as the example is tough. But we are called to share the Gospel and thank the Lord we live in a country were we can.

We have to understand that we are only in believers in Christ because of God's grace. And we continue to need God's grace to trust in Him and not worry about our lives. Though we continue to fall short He will provide for us.
Matthew 6:25 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

I also want to thank Gene, Tom and Frank for the exhortations to pray and repent for the grace of God in a major time of need.

Many times it's the simplest things in life we forget to be thankful for whether it be the water He provides or the next breath we take.

Forgive us,

Mark

Luther Listens To the Staples / Slick Radio Discussion


Galatians 3:11 "Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the Law; for the righteous shall live by faith."

Another argument, derived from the testimony of the prophet Habakkuk. It is a very weighty and a clear authority that Paul sets against all the statements about the Law and works. It is as though he were saying: “What need is there of a long debate? Here I am producing a very clear testimony of the prophet, at which no one can carp: ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ If by faith, then not by the Law, because the Law is not by faith.” And Paul interprets the term “faith” in its exclusive and antithetical sense.

The sophists, ready as they are to evade the Scriptures, carp at this passage as follows: “ ‘The righteous shall live by faith,’ that is, by a faith that is active, working, or ‘formed’ by love. But if it is an unformed faith, it does not justify.” They themselves have made up this gloss, and with it they do injury to this passage. If they were to call “formed” faith the true and theological or, as Paul calls it, the νυπόκριτος faith (1 Tim. 1:5), which God calls faith, then this gloss of theirs would not offend me. For then faith would not be distinguished from love; it would be distinguished from a vain idea of faith, as we also distinguish between a counterfeit faith and a true faith. A counterfeit faith is one that hears about God, Christ, and all the mysteries of the incarnation and redemption, one that also grasps what it hears and can speak beautifully about it; and yet only a mere opinion and a vain hearing remain, which leave nothing in the heart but a hollow sound about the Gospel, concerning which there is a great deal of chatter. In fact, this is no faith at all; for it neither renews nor changes the heart. It does not produce a new man, but it leaves him in his former opinion and way of life. This is a very pernicious faith, and it would be better not to have it. A moral philosopher is better than such a hypocrite with such a faith.

If they were to distinguish between a “formed faith” and a false or counterfeit faith, their distinction would not offend me at all. But they speak of faith formed by love; and they posit a double faith, namely, formed and unformed. This noxious and satanic gloss I cannot help detesting violently. “Although infused faith may be present,” they say, “which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, as well as acquired faith, which we ourselves produce by our many acts of believing, nevertheless they are both unformed and must be formed by love.”  According to their opinion, faith by itself is like a picture or a beautiful thing in the darkness, which is perceived only when light, that is love, reaches it. And so love is the form of faith, and faith is merely the “matter” of love. In this way they prefer love to faith and attribute righteousness, not to faith but to love. For that by virtue of which something is what it is, is the same thing, only more so. Therefore when they do not attribute righteousness to faith except on account of love, they are attributing nothing at all to faith.

In addition, these subverters of the Gospel say that even infused faith, which has not been received by hearing or produced by any actions but has been created in man by the Holy Spirit, can coexist with mortal sin, and that the most wicked men can have it; and therefore, they say, if it is alone, it is vain and completely useless, even if it should perform miracles. Thus they deprive faith of its task and give this to love, so that faith amounts to nothing at all unless the “form,” namely, love, is added to it. According to this malignant figment of the sophists, faith, that miserable virtue, would be a sort of unformed chaos, without any work, efficacy, or life, a purely passive material. This is blasphemous and satanic; it calls men away from Christian doctrine, from Christ the Mediator, and from the faith that takes hold of Christ. For if love is the form of faith, then I am immediately obliged to say that love is the most important and the largest part in the Christian religion. And thus I lose Christ, His blood, His wounds, and all His blessings; and I cling to love, so that I love, and I come to a moral kind of “doing,” just as the pope, a heathen philosopher, and the Turk do.

But the Holy Spirit knows how to speak and, as the sophists wickedly imagine, could easily have said: “The righteous shall live by a formed faith.” But He purposely omits this and simply says: “The righteous shall live by faith.” Therefore let the sophists go hang with their wicked and malignant gloss! We want to retain and to extol this faith which God has called faith, that is, a true and certain faith that has no doubts about God or the divine promises or the forgiveness of sins through Christ. Then we can remain safe and sure in Christ, the object of faith, and keep before our eyes the suffering and the blood of the Mediator and all His blessings. Faith alone, which takes hold of Christ, is the only means to keep us from permitting this to be removed from our sight. Therefore this malignant gloss must be repudiated, and this passage must be understood of faith alone.

Source: Luther, M. (1999, c1963). Vol. 26: Luther's works, vol. 26 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (26:268). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House. pp.268-269

Fan Club Testimonials

The fans speak on my research into the Reformers Mariology:

"Oh don't worry, James Swan knows exactely how to minimize this and cover it up as if Luther had said nothing at all. Just wait and see-- he will be on here talking about how you have somehow taken Luther out of context, how you have misrepresented his views, how there is a 'fundamental misapprehension and misapplication' of the views of Luther among Catholics, and how Luther never had devotion to Mary, about how all of what you said is most likely an interpolation by a later Catholic trying to make Luther look bad, or in the end, if he cannot minimize Luther they way he does Calvin, he will basically just say "So what? Luther is not my pope. He can believe what he wants." or whatever he might like to say. Whatever he says, I am sure it will be interesting."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Assertions on Catholic Unity


The always-brave “anonymous” commenter had this to say on the Matatics post:

“Riiiight. One in 700 million people who profess Catholocism reject the Holy See and this compares with the fact that you're lucky to find any Protestant congregation of 40 or more where half of them agree on any half-dozen salvation-critical doctrines. Wonderful argument there.”

“go to 100 Catholic Churches, gather 500 people at random and ask them what are the roles of scripture, clergy, grace and the sacraments, then do the same with 100 Reformed Baptist churches and see what happens. There isn't a person reading this that does not know that the former group would be nearly homogeneous compared with the latter which would sport as many theories as a 9/11 Truther symposium.”

A similar assertion is made by the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"That the mark of unity which is distinctive of and essential to the true Church of Christ is to be found in none other than the Roman Catholic Church, follows naturally from what has been said... Between no two of the hundreds of nonCatholic sects is there a common bond of union; each one having a different head, a different belief, a different cult. Nay more, even between the members of any one sect there is no such thing as real unity, for their first and foremost principle is that each one is free to believe and do as he wishes. They are constantly breaking up into new sects and subdivisions of sects, showing that they have within themselves the seeds of disunion and disintegration." Source

Bold assertions? Are Catholics really that unified in their beliefs?

I have some surveys of lay Catholics which I will be posting soon that will speak to this topic of unity.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Party Hearty Marty & the Protestors


For the upcoming Reformation Celebration, please review this link: Party Hearty Marty & the Protestors.

Staples vs. Slick


I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, but Catholic apologist Tim Staples was on Matt Slick's Internet show: Matt Slick and Tim Staples Discuss Salvation. Slick is the founder of CARM, and, if I recall, he is also Reformed (a graduate of WTS). It's always interesting to listen to Tim Staples (as the Catholic Answers clips on the Dividing Line prove).

Update: I listened to almost all of the broadcast. My overall conclusion was that the dialog was not fruitful. I'm not one who appreciates conversations that wander all over the place, even though I realize the topic was "salvation" and that entails a lot of different related points.

Positively, Tim Staples was treated respectfully by Matt Slick, and I appreciated Matt's tone and demeanor. Matt asked some good questions, and sought to have Tim define his position.

But Matt did a less than adequate job of corralling Tim. Tim can speak quickly, and throw out a lot of content. I recall more than once hearing Matt say something like "No it isn't. you're wrong," and then Tim saying, "O.K. why am I wrong?" And then the discussion moved on to other points. In fairness to Matt, Staples is a very difficult person to do a radio dialog with. Just go back and listen to Staples on the BAM show with James White a few years ago. Hank would try to go to commercial, and Tim was still talking! Tim frequently would not stop talking to give the opposition a chance to speak.

I know some people like the free-for-all type of discussion, I don't. Probably what would have been helpful, would have been to pre-pick a particular passage of Scripture about salvation, and then discuss the text. A crucial passage to concentrate on would be Romans 3-4 (I think these verses only came up briefly, and the topic was salvation!). I think the structure of looking at a key text like this, and trying to stick with it would have helped the conversation stay coherent. Give Tim 5 minutes to state his case, then let Matt make his case, then try to set up some form of constructive dialog. Maybe let Tim ask Matt questions for 5 minutes, and then let Matt do likewise with Tim.

My gut feeling is this will be another one of those broadcasts Catholic Answers will sell like the the BAM show with Akin vs. White. Catholic Answers sells that set because Akin got most of the time. Dr. White was not given the opportunity to even respond to most of the points Akin brought up (in case your interested, Dr. White has gone through that old radio show, and proved this). They sell this set gleefully, knowing full well, that Akin would be bulldozed by Dr. White in a formal debate.... Best let the Catholic Answers folks have a James White (alleged) debate in which he isn't given time to respond to points raised.

In this case, Slick allowed Tim to make multiple points and use multiple verses, and simply didn't seem to be able to keep up with all Tim was saying. This is the type of stuff Catholic Answers loves to sell. They will say something like, "See, Tim made all these points that went unanswered!" "Swim The Tiber!"

Anyway, Matt if you read this- I respect you for doing this dialog, and for also standing up for the gospel, as well as not holding back what your position is on Roman Catholicism. But if you have Tim back, you better come up with a better strategy to dialog with him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Weight of Gluttony No More

johnMark

Not long ago I posted Southern Baptists and the Weight of Gluttony. And God has blessed me from that post through a commenter named Jane. She went through the course I listed in the above mentioned post and has a great testimony I thought should have it's own entry and I don't want to take away from that by saying too much. For your consideration I do want to provide two recent articles reporting on the effects of obesity: The Global Problem of Obesity and Brits Find Obesity Deadlier Than Smoking.

Let's read Jane's testimony that she has graciously allowed me to share that she wrote as she finished the Setting Captives Free Course.

Before starting this course, how much I ate seemed to me to be completely disconnected from my spiritual life. I would go to church or a Bible study and then go home or out to eat and eat a big meal without giving it a second thought. I would snack throughout the day (while listening to Christian radio as I did my housework) and never realize how I was turning to food instead of Christ. To my shame, it didn’t occur to me to give the Lord control of my eating habits and patterns.

I have never been thin, but I really packed on the pounds over the course of two pregnancies. This excess weight didn’t come off even during my children’s busy toddler years. Sadly, I had convinced myself that I would always be overweight and that it was an area of my life that I would just have to live with.

I was blind and I had bought a lie!

God started speaking to me through this course as I worked through the very first lesson. The fact that God wanted me to learn about how to eat and drink to His glory struck a deep chord in my heart. I was absolutely delighted that God was very interested in demonstrating His strength as I sought to honor Him in what I ate and drank.

While doing this course I have learned about when it’s okay for me to eat and when I should refrain. I have learned to use scripture to combat urges to snack. I have studied about the proper role that food needs to have in my life and have turned more often to the true source of real satisfaction and nourishment; Jesus Christ.

My eating habits have drastically changed. I seldom eat between meals. I almost never eat after dinner. And I am exercising regularly.

The bottom line is that food doesn’t have the pull on me that it used to have. I have been set free.

I have lost over 20 pounds and I have a lot more weight to lose. My outside will eventually catch up with the change that has happened on my inside. I am so thankful that God is teaching me these lessons at this time in my life. I could have been in bondage for who knows how many more years or additional pounds, but instead God has used the truths in the course to change me forever. God is good, and faithful, and committed to sanctifying me to His glory alone. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Thank you Setting Captives Free!

Thank you for the blessing Jane,

Mark

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Uncertainty of Infallibility


The lack of a list of infallible teachings by the RCC has been discussed here previously. We are often told by RC e-pologists that we Protestants suffer from uncertainty in faith and morals due to the lack of an infallible organization to lead us, yet RCs cannot even define their own body of infallible doctrine. Additionally, a few weeks ago I posted on my own blog about an old dispute (in the Catholic community) over whether or not a particular papal decree by JPII was actually infallible. Ironically, the confusion was bore out in the comments section where it was clear two Catholic commenters were still in disagreement over what exactly made the declaration infallible (although I think they may have figured it out eventually).

The comments in James’ previous post on the authorship of the Book of Hebrews has flushed out another interesting principle in regard to infallibility. It appears that not all portions of conciliar decisions and papal statements are infallible. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

"But before being bound to give such an assent, the believer has a right to be certain that the teaching in question is definitive (since only definitive teaching is infallible); and the means by which the definitive intention, whether of a council or of the pope, may be recognized have been stated above. It need only be added here that not everything in a conciliar or papal pronouncement, in which some doctrine is defined, is to be treated as definitive and infallible. For example, in the lengthy Bull of Pius IX defining the Immaculate Conception the strictly definitive and infallible portion is comprised in a sentence or two; and the same is true in many cases in regard to conciliar decisions. The merely argumentative and justificatory statements embodied in definitive judgments, however true and authoritative they may be, are not covered by the guarantee of infallibility which attaches to the strictly definitive sentences -- unless, indeed, their infallibility has been previously or subsequently established by an independent decision."

The illusion of certainty in the RC position is quickly disappearing.

First, one must determine what documents and decrees could be considered infallible. Second, one must determine exactly what is or is not infallible within those documents/decrees. Is the determination of the above made fallibly or infallibly? And by whom is such a determination made?

(Note that the Catholic Encyclopedia affirms that a believer should know what is infallible before giving assent but we have yet to see an RC who can produce a list of all infallible statements. How can one assent to infallible doctrines that they can't clearly define?)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gerry Matatics: Counterfeit Catholicism

James informed me that Gerry Matatics was speaking in my area this week, so I headed out Friday evening to attend one of his seminars. James attended one of Gerry’s seminars a year ago and wrote about his experience here. The overall content of the seminar wasn’t much different than what James described, but I thought I would add some additional details that I found interesting.

First, for those not familiar with Gerry, he was formerly an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) before converting to Catholicism where he became a mainstream Catholic apologist (formerly working with Catholic Answers and debating James White a few times in the early 1990s). More recently he has embraced Sedevacantism and seems to be devoting himself full-time to defending his beliefs (although he appears to not be too fond of the Sedevacantist title).

Gerry’s current “mega-tour of over 300 cities and towns”is focused on his current position that “a) the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church are the one true Faith and the one true Church, outside of which there is no salvation (as both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition repeatedly affirm and as the Sacred Magisterium, or teaching office, of the Church has infallibly defined many times), but that b) that authentic Catholic Faith and that authentic Catholic Church are no longer found at the local parish, in the local diocese, or even ruling from Rome in our day.” Gerry’s seminar flier entitled “Counterfeit Catholicism” promised to share some “startling, eye-opening facts” over a 2 hour period follow with some Q&A time.

I am not sure if the particular seminar I attended would attest to the size (or makeup) of the sedevacantist following or not, but besides Gerry, there were 5 men and myself in the room. One man who was wearing what I believed to be a rather large rosary had his tape recorder but other than that, I was the only one taking copious notes (and the only one who brought my bible as suggested in the flier). Luckily, James had forwarned me about the opening prayer so I was prepared to not join in as “Our Lady” was called upon, followed my a Hail Mary, then some type of responsorial pray to Mary, followed by a rattled off list of saints to “pray for us” (I only caught St. Pius and St. Bellarmine).

Gerry then moved on to his presentation warning us up front that he would have to cut out some portions of his usual talk due to the time, but offering tapes for sale that cover the full material. After a quick joke he opened with 3 prophecies from “Our Lady of La Salette” (1846): “In the last days, Rome itself will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist ... the Church will be in eclipse". Gerry seems to believe these prophecies have come to fruition and goes on from here to support his belief from both biblical and more extra-biblical prophecies. He speaks quickly and covers a lot of material and rather than share my notes here, I would recommend you read a summary of the content of these seminars from his website (also briefly excerpted below).

It is clear that Gerry has spent a lot of time researching Church History, papal documents and I think he makes a good case that the Roman Catholic Church of today has broken away from many of her historical beliefs. I found it odd though that he seems to give a lot of credence to extrabiblical prophecies (listed under “fact #2 on his site). He spoke of “Our Lady of La Salette” more than once and also seemed intrigued by a supposed vision of Pope Leo XIII in 1888 which springboarded into accusations of freemasonry infiltration into the Church at the beginning of the 20 century (see Alta Vendita). At that point I began to wonder how many in the room really believe Oswald shot Kennedy.

For a small group, the Q&A was more lively than expected. Gerry’s presentation ended around 9:45pm and when I finally got up to leave at 10:50pm, the discussions were still continuing. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to peruse Gerry’s book table as he had many sources there that he mentioned during his talk, but I did write down a few titles he particularly recommended and will list those books at the end of the post.

During the Q&A, Gerry claimed that there were a few bishops at the Vatican II council who refused to sign the documents and soon after retired, not agreeing with the changes made at that Council to “the faith”. He also mentioned that there are still some men living (but quite old) who were bishops under the reign of Pope Pius XII. Apparently Gerry has been tracking down these men and meeting with them to try and find one to step forward and reclaim the Church (denouncing Vatican II). While I don’t agree with his position anymore than the modern day RCC, I do have to give him credit for his persistence.

One of the questions during the Q&A mentioned the Dimond Brothers website which I decided to look up today. These guys appear to also be sedevacantists although they appear to have a beef with Gerry because he is a little soft on “baptism of desire”. Prior to going to Gerry’s presentation I came across this post from the Saint Benedict Center, a traditionalist group who while holding many traditional beliefs in common with Gerry, feel he has gone too far with his sedevacantistism. Looking around there appear to be a variety of Catholic splinter groups, some still in communion with Rome, who can’t seem to find complete unity in their beliefs.

To summarize, these are Gerry’s main points (excerpted from his site):


1. The Vatican II Church, though it has much in common with the Catholic Church, does teach doctrines, offer worship and sacraments, and promulgate laws that have all been previously condemned by the Catholic Church as being fundamentally incompatible with the Catholic Faith.

2. The rise of such a counterfeit "church," successfully masquerading as the Catholic Church because a) composed of nearly all the former clergy and laity of the Catholic Church who lost their membership (and, in the case of the clergy, their offices) in the true Church by being spiritually seduced into subscribing to heresy, and b) possessing the real estate and controlling the infrastructure (chanceries, marriage tribunals, schools, colleges, universities and seminaries, publishing houses, etc.) formerly owned and operated by the true Church, has been foretold by numerous prophecies given, not only in Sacred Scripture but also by Our Lady and numerous saints -- including, Popes, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church.

3. …next in the talk we examine the beliefs of the men who have sat on the throne of St. Peter since the death of Pius XII in 1958: John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I & II, and Benedict XVI. An examination of their writings, speeches, and actions readily reveals that these men were not orthodox Catholics -- even before their elections -- but modernists and manifest heretics, Freemasons, and abettors of Communism (yes, even John Paul II) and Talmudic Judaism.

4. This in turn means that, as unlawful usurpers of the papacy, John XXIII had no authority to call, and Paul VI no authority to consummate, a lawful and valid general council of the Church. The therefore illicit and invalid council John XXIII and Paul VI did, respectively, call and conclude would not and could not enjoy the protection and infallibility of the Holy Ghost.

Summary: "the only possible conclusion is that what is found in Rome, in your diocese, and at your local parish is no longer the Catholic Church, but the above-mentioned clever counterfeit that God Himself has permitted to take over the infrastructure of the Church, in order to fulfill His prophecies and plans. One who denies this conclusion by arguing that, while these modern doctrines, worship, and laws are not fully Catholic, the Vatican II Church which offers them is nevertheless the Catholic Church, rejects the teaching of Pius XII (and other popes) that the true Church can never offer such aberrations. In thus rejecting the Church's authoritative teaching regarding its own fidelity and purity, such a person shows he is not a Catholic at all -- he himself has become a "counterfeit Catholic"."

Some books recommended by Gerry:
Tumultuous Times
The Popes Against Modern Errors
The Ottaviani Intervention

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mystery Solved: The Author of the Book of Hebrews Revealed

[revised 10/21/07, 9:36 AM with additional commentary]


Ever wonder who wrote Hebrews? Was it Barnabas? Apollos? Priscilla? ...or Paul?

Tertullian (c.200) says it was Barnabas. He is cited as the earliest Western witness to the author of Hebrews. Well, it really doesn't matter what Tertullian said way back when. The Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly declared it to be Paul, so it infallibly must be Paul:

Synod of Laodicea. a.d. 343–381. Canon LX:
"Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon."


The Canons of the CCXVII Blessed Fathers who assembled at Carthage. Commonly Called The Code of Canons of the African Church. a.d. 419. Canon XXIV: "The New Testament....The Epistles of Paul, xiv."

The Canons of the Holy and Altogether August Apostles (Appendix containing Canons and Rulings not having Conciliar Origin but Approved by Name in Canon II. of the Synod in Trullo.) Canon LXXXV: "...those of the New Testament, are.... fourteen Epistles of Paul"

Council of Trent: "Of the New Testament: fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews"


Eric Svendsen points out,

"Until the latter half of the fourth century the Western church almost unanimously resisted ascribing Pauline authorship to Hebrews [Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and the Muratorian Fragment all insist that Paul is not the author]. However, both Jerome and Augustine appealed to the Eastern Church's view that Paul wrote the epistle, and their view was eventually adopted at the Sixth Synod of Carthage in 419 A.D., and then reaffirmed at the Council of Trent. Yet, the number of New Testament scholars that would defend Pauline authorship today is practically nil. [Source: Eric Svendsen, Evangelical Answers: A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists (New York: Reformation Press, 1999), p.11].


The Catholic Encyclopedia points out:

"While the Council of Carthage of the year 397, in the wording of its decree, still made a distinction between Pauli Apostoli epistoloe tredecim (thirteen epistles of Paul the Apostle) and eiusdem ad Hebroeos una (one of his to the Hebrews) (H. Denzinger, "Enchiridion", 10th ed., Freiburg, 1908, n. 92, old n. 49), the Roman Synod of 382 under Pope Damasus enumerates without distinction epistoloe Pauli numero quatuordecim (epistles of Paul fourteen in number), including in this number the Epistle to the Hebrews (Denzinger, 10th ed., n. 84). In this form also the conviction of the Church later found permanent expression. Cardinal Cajetan (1529) and Erasmus were the first to revive the old doubts, while at the same time Luther and the other Reformers denied the Pauline origin of the letter."

___________________________________________
Addendum: A few comments and responses from the comment section:

Turretinfan stated:

"Your faithful readers will note "Theodoret of Cyrrhus" among the early (beginning of the 5th century) advocates of Pauline authorship, from your immediately preceding post."

Theodoret's comment was what actually got me thinking about this. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter who wrote Hebrews, since the author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I think it's interesting what happens when a group declares itself "infallible." Svendsen points out that in DA Carson's introduction to the book of Hebrews, the last major defense of Pauline authorship was written in 1939.

My New Catholic Answer Bible doesn't make any statement one way or the other, and this on a book whose authorship was confirmed at Trent! This was not the case for an earlier generation of Catholic apologists. Note this statement from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"From what has been said it follows that the most probable solution of the question as to the author is that up to the present time the opinion of Origen has not been superseded by a better one. It is, consequently, necessary to accept that in the Epistle to the Hebrews the actual author is to be distinguished from the writer. No valid reason has been produced against Paul as the originator of the ideas and the entire contents of the letter; the belief of the early Church held throughout with entire correctness to this Apostolic origin of the Epistle."

My questions to the mass of Roman Catholics that have over-run the comments section of this blog is this: Since Trent is infallible, can we safely assume Paul wrote Hebrews?

That granted, If I start searching through recent Roman Catholic commentaries on Hebrews, and find your writers not simply following an infallible pronouncement on this Pauline authorship, can we conclude that the misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source?

If you grant this, I will further argue it is simply ridiculous for Roman Catholics to hold Protestants to a standard they themselves can’t live up to. That some people misinterpret or twist the Bible is not the fault of the Bible, hence not a proof against sola scriptura. In the same way, that I may possibly configure my computer incorrectly is not the fault of the owner’s manual that comes with it. The misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source, and Trent's statement on the Pauline authorship of Hebrews proves it.

Lucian stated:

"This comment is not meant to be a mean, ill-intended, poisonous arrow aimed at good Protestants (like my oher ones), ... but You have to understand here something (technical in nature) : There are five books *traditionally* ascribed to Solomon; and the fifth is *likewise traditionally* ascribed to Jesus, son of Sirach. There's more to ascribing a book to someone, other than just mere writing or authorship. *Also traditionally*, the entire Psalter is ascribed to the hand of the Holy Prophet and King David, but even Scripture itself makes it pretty clear that many of its Psalms were fathered from completely different persons other than the King himself. Hope this helps."

Clever, but no, it does not. Note the comment above from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Paul, not some vague notion of ascribing "Paul" as the author, was the intent of an earlier generation of Catholics. Is this the defense now, that Trent and earlier councils simply meant to ascribe Pauline authorship similar to David's authorship of the entirety of the Psalms? If that is so, I find the Catholic Encyclopedia's argument...odd.

But even worse, if your argument is the standard current Roman Catholic argument, it shows that infallible documents (like Trent) are open to private interpretation. In other words, what a typical Catholic claims provides certainty, is open to private judgment. I can either believe you, or the Catholic Encyclopedia. How do I choose which opinion is correct?

Note I have used two typical Roman Catholic arguments: the need for an infallible authority for certainty, and the blueprint for anarchy argument. If both arguments can be used against the Romanist position, it should make one stop and consider what it means for the Romanist position. I think it should be obvious: The Roman Catholic paradigm does not properly interpret the facts of reality. If they use arguments that can be applied to their own position, it shows their arguments are not valid arguments.
___________________________________
A recent comment (10/22/07):

Kepha stated:

"I thought Ecumenical Councils, like the Pope, were only infallible in the area of Faith and Morals. If this is correct, then a conciliar attribution of Pauline authorship is not infallible."

I'm going on the information commonly put out by Catholic apologists. For instance, if I recall, Scott Hahn argues that only the RCC can provide the information as to historical authorship of the New Testament books. For instance, how does the Protestant know, Matthew wrote Matthew? Catholic apologists argue they know because Rome has told them. If indeed Trent is only infallible in the area of area of faith and morals, I would be interested in reading any information as to, who determines which is is which and which is not, as applied to Trent.

and just one last point: I would argue, that if Catholic apologists use the "Who wrote Matthew?" argument to prove the necessity of the RCC in establishing certainty, then any information as to "who wrote which book" contained in Trent, or any other offical infallible RCC document is indeed crucial to faith and morals. How could it not be, if the argument being put fort as to New Testament authorship is meant to convince a Protestant of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #22

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) states in the preface to his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews:

"Those who give admittance to the Arian disease are doing nothing unexpected in raging against the apostolic writings, separating the letter to the Hebrews from the others and calling it spurious. After all, if they direct their diatribes aganist God and our Savior, what would they stop at in opposition to his kindly and eloquent heralds of truth? It was in fact the Lord himself who said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” They ought, however, if nothing else, at least respect the length of time the Church’s nurslings have spent reading this letter in the churches; from the time the churches of God had access to the apostolic writings, they have been reaping the benefit of the letter to the Hebrews. Now, if even this does not suffice to persuade them, they should at least have given credence to the Palestinian Eusebius, whom they class as a supporter of their own teachings: he admitted this letter to be by the most divine Paul, and said all the ancient commentators held the same view of it. Insisting with everyone, however, that the disease is not on their part, they shamelessly resist the truth, unable to bear the brightness of the insight into divine things on the part of the apostle with which he adorned the opening; they were unable to resist what is clearly stated about the divinity of the Only-begotten, and so presumed to reject the whole letter, despite its teachings and other arguments having a clear relationship with the other letters."

Source: Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 136 .


Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) states in the preface to his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews:

"This is surely the reason the divine apostle at the very opening presents him [i.e. Christ] as superior to all the inspired authors. Then beginning with the true doctrine about God, he shows him to be eternal, equally eternal with the Father, and creator of all things. Next, after comparing him with the angels, he brings the divine Scripture to the fore, which clearly teaches that whereas he is Son and God, they are servants and creatures."

Source: Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 137.


Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Hebrews 1:3:

"Since the image of the effulgence gave sufficient indication of their shared eternity and oneness in being, while providing those under the baleful influence of the positions of Sabellius and Photinus with no grounds for their blasphemy, the effulgence having no subsistence of its own, he eliminates this blasphemy by means of of a different image as well."

Source: Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 140.


Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Hebrews 1:2-3:

"Likewise the blessed Paul called him Son to show him to be different from the Father in regard to personhood; he spoke of him as creator of the ages to bring out in these ways his eternity, and called him also effulgence of glory to indicate by this his shared eternity and the sameness of being, the effulgence being of the nature of the fire. He added that he is imprint of his substance to bring out both things at the same time, that he subsists of himself and that he reveals in himself the paternal characteristics. He adds also something else: carrying all things by the word of his power: he not only made everything but also directs and guides it. He brought out the surpassing degree of his power by saying a word was sufficient for him for the creation and care of everything; he said, remember, “Let there be light, and there was light,” and he said, “Let a firmament be made, and so it was made,” and all the other things in similar fashion. Likewise also blessed David, “He spoke, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created.” On seeing this unambiguous doctrine of God, those of the mind of Arius endeavored to reject this letter from the apostolic treasury — hence our showing it to be consistent with the evangelical teaching."

Source: Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), pp. 140-141.


For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Pope's email address

The Pontificator said:
It does not surprise me in the least that individual Catholics, especially if they have not studied the matter in depth, will get one or more of the particulars wrong.

and then
I took the liberty of correcting David because I happen to know more about the Catholic view of justification than a lot of folks.

This raises some questions in my mind, which are all serious questions, not rhetorical:
1) How do I know you're not getting it wrong?
2) Why doesn't your priest blog for you?
3) Come to think of it, why doesn't the Magisterium take care of this kind of thing so as to make sure RC dogma doesn't go astray?
4) Can you make the obvious connection between:

Magisterial teaching VS how it is represented by individual RCs

and

Biblical teaching VS how it is represented by individual Prots ?

Then he says:
But my opinions still remain my opinions and are subject to correction by Catholics who know more than I.

How about by the Magisterium? Why not by them?
And if by them, will you tell me with a straight face that you have a way to communicate with one or more members thereof? If so, how? Email? Telephone?
I guess I'm asking, echoing Steve Hays, why those of our RC readers who object to things we say here don't take those things to their priest in order to make sure we here at the blog can get the Magisterial answer to stuff. Why don't the Pope and/or Magisterium do their own apologetics?

Bush vs. Carter: Theological Differences?

johnMark

Very recently at Emory University former President Jimmy Carter gave a talk about faith. The difficulties of being theologian and chief international religious conflict came up.
On the topic of international religious conflict, President Carter referred to his term in office.

“I was president once, in ancient times,” he joked, adding, “I had some difficult discussions at Camp David with people of different faiths, but we acknowledged that we were all children of Abraham.”

The recently President Bush had an interview with Al Arabiya at the White House.
Well, first of all, I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That's what I believe.

Evangelicals got their man, but now they've got to apologize for his theology while pointing the finger at Carter about how liberal he is. Yes, Carter is liberal and Bush may even be conservative, but that won't save them.

This reminds me of John MacArthur's sermon Can God Bless America? that he turned into a small hardback book.

So what's the real difference?

Mark

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An X File From Jimmy Akin


Pope JP2 returns from the grave as the Human Torch. Read all about it here.

NOT as a result of works

The usual Roman Catholic claim regarding the interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-10 was recently repeated, that the works by which we are not saved are works of human invention and/or are works of the now-obsolete Old Testament law. I'd like to devote a post to dealing with this by itself. This is mostly, ISTM, an exegetical question.

8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Now, let's be clear - our RC friends are saying that justification is at least PARTLY due to works, ie, justification is not by faith alone.
As for this passage, let us note how the ***same*** good works that God has prepared for us to do are the same works that are *NOT* the cause of our salvation. So if the 1st "works" are works of human invention or of the OT Law, then why isn't the 2nd "works" the same?

How can this be (pardon the pun) justified in the RC view?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By Grace Alone is by Faith Alone

"Some Romanists will say that they too teach justification by grace — by Christ’s righteousness, in fact. But the righteousness of Christ which they claim justifies is not Christ’s own personal righteousness reckoned or credited or given or imputed to believers. Romanists refer to the righteousness which Christ works into the life of the believer or infuses into him in his own living and behavior. It is not Christ’s personal righteousness but the believer’s personal righteousness, which he performs by the grace of God.

It is Christ’s righteousness versus the believer’s own righteousness. It is Christ’s achievement versus the Christian’s achievement. It is an imputed righteousness not an infused righteousness. It is a gift of God versus an accomplishment of man. These two righteousnesses are as different as righteousnesses could conceivably be.

It does come down to the way it has been popularly stated for the last four and a half centuries: Protestantism’s salvation by faith versus Rome’s salvation by works. That is not a technically accurate way to state this vital difference, But it points to the truth. The Protestant trusts Christ to save him and the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself. It is faith versus works. Or, as the Spirit of God puts it in Romans 4:16 (NIV), "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace, and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring." It is "by faith SO THAT IT MAY BE BY grace...."

If a Romanist wants to be saved by grace alone, it will have to be by faith alone. "The promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace." You can’t be saved "sola gratia" except "sola fide"...

...We agree with Roman friends — salvation is by grace. That is the reason it must be by faith. If it is a salvation based on works that come from grace, it is not based on grace but on the Christian’s works that come from grace. The works that come from grace must prove grace but they cannot be grace. They may come from, be derivative of, a consequence of, but they cannot be identified with it. Faith is merely union with Christ who is our righteousness, our grace, our salvation."

-Excerpt from Justification by Faith Alone by Dr. John H. Gerstner

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Double Standards, Presuppositions, and Determining Truth

Here are two comments from a recent Beggars All comm box, that when juxtaposed, point out one of the double standards used by Roman Catholics. In other words, the arguments put forth, when applied to their own position, refute their own position.

Argument 1:
"But then, Holy Writ is CLEAR…clear after 1500 years! (For it took Luther to “discover the Gospel” which was lost…uhhh…unknown…)"

Argument 2
"Altaner,the patrologist from Würzburg...had proven in a scientifically persuasive manner that the doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was unknown before the fifth century."

In argument #1, sola fide is untrue because Luther's understanding of justification cannot be traced in the particular formulation he used backward in church history. For sake of argument, grant this is true, and then apply the same standard to argument #2. Should it not follow that Mary's assumption is not true because it cannot be traced in the particular formulation first noted in the 5th century backward in church history?

Now think further along these lines using the same methodology Roman Catholics use. The dogma of the assumption is the product of development. Its earlier formulations are not as clear or complete. For instance, the Byzantine theologians in the 7th- 9th centuries more-a-less think Mary's soul was taken to Heaven. But by the end of the development in the 1950's, Mary's soul and body are in Heaven. Now, keep your Roman Catholic glasses on. Earlier formulations of justification say faith is required in justification. With the advent of the Reformation, the Reformed Biblical exegetes arrive at faith alone. Development has occurred. But yet, the development of sola fide is false, and the development of the assumption is true. What makes the final developed Assumption true and the final developed sola fide false? ...The infallible church.

Roman Catholics want to argue for development, while arguing against development. They should say, "...sure doctrine develops, but it is only true development if our infallible church says so." This is pure sola ecclesia. Really then, it doesn't matter what happens in development, because only the infallible church can tell you what is correct or incorrect development. Thus, the study of historical development becomes trivial and meaningless.

Arguing for truth as Roman Catholics do, does much more harm to their position than they realize when the same standards are applied to their arguments. The big question that needs to be asked is, "How is truth determined?" Is it determined by a statistical analysis of church history? Roman Catholics may try to argue along these lines, but let us not forget Athanasius, showing that one can stand seemingly alone with the truth against the universally accepted falsehood of the day.

Truth, as finally determined by the current batch of Catholic apologists, is ultimately determined by the infallible church. This is their beginning presupposition, and each engagement with those committed to Rome should never lose site of this.

Fan Club Testimonial

This was simply too good to not share:

"Catholic apologists do I admit get a little less then scholarly when the report on Luther. However James Swan is not exactly exempt from mis-reporting the fact either. He misrepresented the popes theology on Scripture. He made the false claim that the pope was condeming the position of "Material Sufficiency" when in fact he was not. So James Swan is not perfect either.

Luther was not stupid, neither were the other reformers, however Luther did have some daddy issues, and I think one would have to stick their head in the sand to maintain his daddy issues did not affect his abberent theology of God.

In any case BOTH sides have an agenda to push. Swan's agenda is to show that Luther was 100% right to break from the Church, and begin the "Reformation Movement." In other words Swan wants to show that Lutheranism is the pure form of Catholocism, and that Catholocism got off track. The Lutherans in his mind, as well as the Lutherans themselves are what true Catholocism looks like- purged of all the barnicles such as Mary, the pope, Purgatory, etc.

The Catholic apologist on the other hand wants to show that Luther was wrong to break from the Church, and that while some of his thesis were correct, and indeed reform was needed, that he went to far by breaking from the Church and not submiting to the authority. The Catholic apologist wants to show that the RCC is the one true Church, and while always in need of reform, and always reforming, that the reformation churches which stem from the reformation are not the true Christian Church.

Thus, James Swan as well as other Lutherans are going to want to tend to minimize some of the more embarrasing facts about Luther. They will also want to minimize some of his very Catholic thought like devotion to Mary, etc. James Swan does exactly this on his website. Catholic apologists on the other hand will of course want to draw emphasis to them, and even exagerate them. Each side interprets the facts according to their own agendas, and of course it is no different when reading the ECF, and the Bible itself. That happens.

So in short, I agree that the Catholic apologists in their zealousness to defend the One True Church, do exagerate and distort facts. However so do protestants. James Swan and pals are just as guilty.

Here is the thing:

1) I can readily admit some of the embarrasing facts about Roman Catholocism. I can readily grant the errors of our popes, especially James White's very best excellent friend Pope Honorius. (Of course I am giving him the benifit of the doubt that White is correct in his understanding of history and the incident with him.) I can readily admit that the RCC is far from perfect, and that some of our doctrines can seem to be difficult to defend. None of this affects my Faith, none of this gets me to even consider that the RCC is not the Church of Christ. Why? Becasue Faith is not always easily demonstrable, since Faith is something supernatural. I can't always defend in a rational manner, and a scientific something that transcends their boundaries. This leads me to my next thought:

2) Why can't James Swan just admit the embarrasing facts about Luther, and admit his very Catholic thoughts on Purgatory, Mary, etc. Even James White admitted Calvin believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary in a debate- then said "But I hold Calvin to the same standard he holds me: The Bible." In other words- White even admited that Calvin would not have agreed with him on many issues. White didn't care. It as far as he was concerned was a non-issue for him. So why can't Swan simply admit the facts, rather then minimize them, and go from there? If what Pope Honorious taught or untaught doesn't affect my Faith, why should Luther's devotion to Mary affects Swan's?

In the end, I can say to White "Yeah, Honorius may have been a heretic- if I give you the benifit of the doubt. So what? What do you think that proves, besides Pope Honorious made a mistake?" Why can't swan just say "Yeah, Luther was very Catholic in some of his theology, there were some embarrasing things Luther did and taught that I wish he did not, but what does that prove, except that Luther made a few errors?" I mean, even if Swan admits Luther did and said the embarrasing things he is accused of saying and doing by Catholic apologists, would Swan even consider for even one milli-second that Catholocism might be right? So what does it really matter in the end what Luther did and said, or what he undid or unsaid? Swan is Lutheran, and Lutheran he will stay regardless of the facts
."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trinity vs. Assumption


This is almost sad in a way. Ryan L. over on the Catholic Answers forum posted the following:

Marian Apologetics - An Easy One
"On James White's blog, protestant Apologist James Swan posted about something from Steve Ray's blog. In effect, it attacked the Marian dogmas en masse. This is a very poor showing of the apologetics being produced from that camp, so I thought it would be a nice article for beginning Catholic apologists to pick apart. I'm going to post the whole article, so I trust that if the mods think it's too long they'll edit it appropriately."

"I would like for folks to start with the logical errors / false argumentation used before moving to the Biblical basis for the dogmas, but please feel free to post as you see fit."
God Bless, Ryan L

Well, so far, this post has been up on the Catholic Answers apologetics forum for a few days, and hasn't gotten any responses. This is fairly odd, because usually the Catholic Answers boards are teeming with responses (the good, the bad, and the ugly). I expected something.

Well for those of you who read my aomin entry about the comparison of the doctrine of the Trinity to some of the Marian dogma's, you may recall I stated:

"For the defenders of Rome to make their parallel between the Trinity and the Marian dogmas, they would have to demonstrate the Marian dogmas are the result of God's people dealing with, and only with, God's Word. Recall a few days ago I mentioned The New Catholic Answer Bible stated, "Is Mary's assumption described in the Bible? No, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen." Here is as blatant a denial of true Biblical doctrinal development as one can find."

This statement and Ryan L.'s post are brought into a state of irony by this recent Catholic Answers post:

Scriptural basis for the Assumption

Gen. 5:24, Heb. 11:5 - Enoch was bodily assumed into heaven without dying. Would God do any less for Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?

2 Kings 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58 - Elijah was assumed into heaven in fiery chariot. Jesus would not do any less for His Blessed Mother.

Psalm 132:8 - Arise, O Lord, and go to thy resting place, thou and the Ark (Mary) of thy might. Both Jesus and Mary were taken up to their eternal resting place in heaven.

2 Cor. 12:2 - Paul speaks of a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven. Mary was also brought up into heaven by God.

Matt. 27:52-53 - when Jesus died and rose, the bodies of the saints were raised. Nothing in Scripture precludes Mary's assumption into heaven.

1 Thess. 4:17 - we shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Rev. 12:1 - we see Mary, the "woman," clothed with the sun. While in Rev. 6:9 we only see the souls of the martyrs in heaven, in Rev. 12:1 we see Mary, both body and soul.

2 Thess. 2:15 - Paul instructs us to hold fast to oral (not just written) tradition. Apostolic tradition says Mary was assumed into heaven. While claiming the bones of the saints was a common practice during these times (and would have been especially important to obtain Mary's bones as she was the Mother of God), Mary's bones were never claimed. This is because they were not available. Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven.

This post on the Assumption proves my point. I would argue Roman Catholics are forced to begin with the Assumption, and then secondarily seek to refer back to Scripture for support or implicit proofs. So if there is any development here, it is backward development. It is taking a developed concept and seeking to read it back into Scripture. The Roman Catholic Marian dogma of the Assumption is not mined from Scripture. The assumption is not the result of God's people delving deeper and deeper into God's Word. It is not the result of using Scripture to interpret Scripture. It is not the result of in-depth exegetical studies. It is an idea found outside of Biblical revelation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Sola Ecclesia"

Since the use of the term “sola ecclesia” is being questioned in the previous post, I thought I would try to briefly clarify (since Rhology is on hiatus).

In regards to the rule of faith, "Sola Ecclesia = Church Alone" as "Sola Scriptura = Scripture Alone".

From the Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading “THE CHURCH AS THE RULE OF FAITH”:

This follows necessarily from any adequate view of the Church as a Divinely constituted body, to whose keeping is entrusted the deposit of faith, but the grounds for this doctrine may be briefly stated as follows…If faith is necessary for all men at all times and in all places, and if a true saving faith demands a clear knowledge of what we have to believe, it is clear that an infallible teaching Church is an absolute necessity. Such a Church alone can speak to men of all classes and at all times; it alone can, by reason of its perpetuity and ageless character, meet every new difficulty by a declaration of the sound form of doctrine which is to be held. If the teaching of Christ and His Apostles is distorted, none but the Church can say "This is its true meaning, and not that; I know that it is as I say because the Spirit which assists me is One with the Spirit which rested on Him and on them"; the Church alone can say, "Christ truly rose from the tomb, and I know it, because I was there, and saw the stone rolled back". The Church alone can tell us how we are to interpret the words "This is My Body", for she alone can say, He Who spoke those words speaks through me, He promised to be with me all days, He pledged Himself to safeguard me from error at all times".