Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As much as I've divinized these men, the Church Fathers did teach some strange things. Origen for example said, "The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all.". A more simple definition of the Pelagian heresy could hardly be put forth.
As much as I've villainized the men, Luther and Calvin have taught things which resonate deeply with my Christian experience. I am disgusted with reading all this Jesuit/Molinist/Humanistic garbage about the goodness of man and his ability to triumph. I'm at the point where I'm obliged to believe that everyone is made Imago Dei and to downplay the fall to a slight mistake, so my current theology is that while I cannot apply St. Paul's, St. Augustines, Blaise Pascal's, Martin Luther's, or John Calvin's theologies of human nature to the world at large I can apply them to myself.
I know and have learned in the last year that above all I am a reprobate. I don't actually read Calvin alot anymore so i'm not trying to show off -as if I found this myself- but I found this online and liked it alot. It totally slaps Catholicism in the face, but only post-trent semi-pelagian Catholicism.
"...our nature is not only destitute of all good, but is so fertile in all evils that it cannot remain inactive. Those who have called it concupiscence have used an expression not improper, if it were only added, which is far from being conceded by most persons, that everything in man, the understanding and will, the soul and body, is polluted and engrossed by this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that man is of himself nothing else but concupiscence." (Institutes, Vol. I, Bk. II, Chap. 1, Para. 8; Allen translation.)
We had to listen last week in RCIA to a lecture on not being able to sin without willing it or wanting to, which I thought was the most anti-Augustinian thing I'd ever heard, and so I wanted to meditate on some Calvin. In Catholicism we say only some actions have concupiscence or we are culpable - blameable for. Here Calvin is saying that man is NOTHING but guilt and willful sin. lol. it's sad because it's true.
I find it funny that when I discussed theology last night it was in an intense debate with a Protestant Pastor, I was challenging him with the high ethical standards of scripture when I realized that I had spent the entire day in sin, utter chosen sin, and here I was preaching. It was at that moment that I remembered St. Paul in Philippians talking about those who preach for benefit or personal glory. I myself I think do it out of habit or for the sake of argument, there is no genuine desire for real virtue or godliness, just winning an argument, or shattering someone's certainty.
A Buddhist I debated last month said to me "Are you so closed minded as to think ONLY Christians go to Heaven!?" and I actually laughed and said "Far from it, I don't even believe all Christians are going to Heaven, I don't even think I'm going to Heaven (I'm currently in a state of Mortal sin and haven't confessed to a priest and received absolution so in Catholicism I am hell-bound)". Frank Schaeffer once got alot of flak for saying "I hope God exists, I hope I go to Heaven but my faith is less certainty and more hope" - or something to that effect. Well I know God exists philosophically, I know there is a standard, and I know that I do not measure up to it, as Calvin says: "soul and body, is polluted"
Thus while I may not be able to say much from scripture without hypocrisy, on that fateful day when it is read from the pulpit "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." (Jer 17.9) I can add an "Amen".
And when I look at the world I see everyday I have to agree with the observation that: "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain."
Monday, December 29, 2008
All of this pointed out to me the utter inclarity of scripture. One Protestant doctrine is "The Perspicuity of Scripture" or the Clearness of Scripture. I decided to show how ridiculous that idea is by beginning with John - which I've been told my whole life is where we are supposed to start. A professor once said to me at Brock, 'I have no problem with the Bible but you can make it say anything you want, it isn't incorrect, it's just ambiguous'.
John 1:1-14 - The Word
This passage which describes Jesus as the Word is one of the most debated passages in all of scripture. Jehovah's witnesses think that it says "and the word was A god" not "and the word was god". Aside from translation, what does 'word' or logos mean. Logos is a platonic term that carries with it lots of baggage. Does it mean 'the word of God' as in his voice in Genesis 1 or his word - like the eternal law. OR does it mean the logos -the logic of the world personified. Is it the goddess Sophia - Who knows!
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" v 14 - Enter Gnosticism, Docetism, Arianism, and John Shelby Spong/modern liberalism. Very few people believe Jesus 'actually' was God incarnate, or the rational principle of the universe incarnate etc and see it as an impossibility etc.
"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." 1:18 - every world religion is wrong because only Christ has shown us God?
1:32 "John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him" - is this the moment Jesus became the son of God as Adoptionism teaches and many believe?
"I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." 1:34 - Does Son of God mean God incarnate or does it mean political leader as Dominic Crossan and others have proposed. How could God have a Son?
John 1:49 "Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." How is Jesus the King of Israel? he has no political power. Does this show that Nate thought Jesus would become a political ruler or does it mean Israel as in 'God's people'?
1:51 "He (Jesus) then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." - When did Philip see heaven open up? The ascension? maybe it's not mentioned, is this a lie? who knows? What is Jesus referring to?
John 2:4 "Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." - then Jesus performs a miracle... was he lying, how had his time not come but then he did it anyway. How does God change his mind? isn't he omniscient (all knowing) so why would he say his time hadn't come if it actually had and isn't that a lie, and how can God lie? (see Descartes). With Catholics, why is Jesus so dismissive of Mary, but then bends to her will? is this proof of Mary's greatness or inferiority?
"In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables." - How isn't beating people with a whip a sin? Ya I've heard 'righteous anger'...don't think it works.
3:5 "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit" - Here's the clear verse that was clearly about baptism for over 1000 years. Now being born again apparently means going to a Billy Graham crusade. I've argued about this before but I'm tired, and I'm clearly right, it's about Baptism, give it up. And what kind of a controversial passage is this? You have to be baptized for salvation? Crazy as the thief on the cross wasn't baptized. Catholics fix this with 'baptism by desire' as the Calvinists and Pentecostals fix it with 'baptism of the Spirit'.
3:13 "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man" Does this mean that no Jews went to heaven? what about David, what about Abraham who is apparently feasting with God (see parable of the rich man and lazarus). What about Enoch, Elijah, etc? and those who ascended to heaven.
3:15 "everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" - What about James 2 which says that even the Demons believe and tremble. do they have eternal life?
this one is interesting:
3:18 "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world...but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" - So God didn't send Jesus/Himself? to condemn the world but because he came into the world everyone who doesn't believe in him (the overwhelming majority of the world) stands condemned. Quite contradictory.
I obviously believe it does have a true meaning as infallibly interpretted by the Catholic Councils and the Magisterium, but I just find the idea that any individual can fully understand the bible or that it is 'clear' in meaning, ridiculous.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
"It becomes you to be mindful of us, as you stand near Him Who granted you all graces, for you are the Mother of God and our Queen. Help us for the sake of the King, the Lord God Master Who was born of you. For this reason you are called 'full of Grace'..." (373 St. Athanasius)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"he (St. Augustine) possessed a strong, capacious, argumentative mind; he boldly sounded the dark abyss of grace, predestination, free-will, and original sin; and the rigid system of Christianity which he framed or restored has been entertained with public applause and secret reluctance by the Latin Church...The church of Rome has canonised Augustin and reprobated Calvin. Yet, as the real difference between them is invisible even to a theological microscope, the Molinists are oppressed by the authority of the saint, and the Jansenists are disgraced by their resemblance to the heretic. In the mean while the Protestant Arminians stand aloof and deride the mutual perplexity of the disputants. Perhaps a reasoner still more independent may smile in his turn when he peruses an Arminian Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans"
though I definately see how the modern and early modern Papacies have anathema'd St. Augustine's views on limited atonement and predestination as well as irresistible grace, Calvin is still very different than St. Augustine. Calvin doesn't acknowledge bishops, the necessity for complete church unity, the same definition of the real presence, the efficacy of relics, and the authority and infallibility of the Papacy.
Still I realize today St. Augustine got it right, and no matter what the Church says, he still got it right. So Calvinists and Catholic Augustinians rejoice together in our common teacher.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
“You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of the gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. … Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (From “The Weight of Glory,” pp. 39-40)
And of course:
"There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." - Mere Christianity
...Lewis believed in the real presence.
just like luther...just like augustine... yay real presence.
I'm getting "Letters to Malcolm" by C.S. Lewis for Christmas, and I'm stoked to read it because it contains his thoughts on Purgatory etc. Oh Lewis, that crazy Anglican who was so Catholic...what a guy.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"There is only one physician - of flesh yet spiritual, born yet uncreated, God incarnate, genuine life in the midst of death, sprung from Mary as well as from God, passable yet impassable - Jesus Christ our Lord" (7:2) - St. Ignatius letter to the Ephesians (ca. 107 CE)
"Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian tradition, and held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea (325 CE)...many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon - the date of Easter...the administration of sacraments, and of course, the divinity of Jesus... until that moment in history, Jesus was viewwed by His followers as a mortal prophet...Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.... Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits" - Dan Brown, "The Da Vinci Code" p. 233-234 (ca. 2003 CE)
I just read that in the Da Vinci code the other day and had to laugh. I know there's about a hundred websites that attack the book but I figured I'd take 10 minutes and prove that the Deity of Christ was an idea LONG before Nicea. Congratulations Dan Brown, you read the wikipedia entry on Arianism and found out some people didn't believe in the co-eternality of Christ with the Father...but you didn't read the part where it said many Arians believed Jesus was a demi-god or God but created....
At least Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan have a working thesis "Son of God" is a secret joke misunderstood by the Church for 2000 years. That is plausible, though unlikely. The only respectable way you can debate the historical account of Christianity which include all those troublesome Church Father references to his divinity is if you claim that all of the history is unreliable....which some have tried.
So take it or leave it, as C.S. Lewis once said:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"In Brussels, I heard a good sermon in a Romish church. The place was crowded with people, many of them standing, though they might have had a seat for a halfpenny or a farthing; and I stood, too; and the good priest — for I believe he is a good man, — preached the Lord Jesus with all his might. He spoke of the love of Christ, so that I, a very poor hand at the French language, could fully understand him, and my heart kept beating within me as he told of the beauties of Christ, and the preciousness of His blood, and of His power to save the chief of sinners. He did not say, ‘justification by faith,’ but he did say, ‘efficacy of the blood,’ which comes to very much the same thing. He did not tell us we were saved by grace, and not by our works; but he did say that all the works of men were less than nothing when brought into competition with the blood of Christ, and that the blood of Jesus alone could save. True, there were objectionable sentences, as naturally there must be in a discourse delivered under such circumstances; but I could have gone to the preacher, and have said to him, ‘Brother, you have spoken the truth;’ and if I had been handling the text, I must have treated it in the same way that he did, if I could have done it as well. I was pleased to find my own opinion verified, in his case, that there are, even in the apostate church, some who cleave unto the Lord, — some sparks of Heavenly fire that flicker amidst the rubbish of old superstition, some lights that are not blown out, even by the strong wind of Popery, but still cast a feeble gleam across the waters sufficient to guide the soul to the rock Christ Jesus.” (Quoted in Lewis Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, 343-344).
Friday, December 5, 2008
Phrases like these make me weary of studying theology. I would prefer to be a physicist or chemist - something with empirical evidence. But I suck at science so I'm a History student who reads theology for personal enlightenment.
This is the phrase which John Duns Scotus used in the Middle Ages to 'prove' the immaculate conception (sinlessness of Mary). (for other terrible things about Duns Scotus see Jared's blog on why he isn't a Roman Catholic). To be honest that quote is a really bad argument and goes against several other Christian principles. The fact that a great philosopher and theologian like St. Anselm didn't notice it's flaws is simply another proof of the near infinite ineptitude of humanity.
First of all, 'God could do it'. I believe it was God himself/Jesus who said "with God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26). Now when you learn philosophy you actually discover that Jesus was wrong, he can't do 'all things'. He can't microwave a taco too hot for himself to eat, just as he cannot create a triangular circle (mutually exclusive statements). He is limited to logic and his character - therefore I guess reason is divine if even God can't escape it. But in any case this first phrase is a misnomer.
"it was appropriate" - This is more annoying to refute as I now reside in a communion which believes it is God's mouthpiece. However I would still argue that it is very difficult to determine what God thinks is appropriate. Especially regarding Mary whom divine revelation (Tradition and Scripture) tell us very little about already. How do you presume to know the mind of an infinite unknowable (see previous post) being? very carefully...
"therefore he did it" - Once again no proof whatsoever. Ironically an apparition/superstition of Mary appeared to many monks in the Reformation era which actually claim the Virgin told them that she was born with original sin. On a side note I have no idea why Mary comes back as a ghost all the time and does what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do - I guess he's been getting lazy or something. Anyway, once again we make a claim that God did something without empiracl knowledge or even revelation. I guess it comes down to Catholicism's: "some people look at illustrius titles for Mary and say why? I look at them and say why not".
Finally it's a ridiculous argument in that it's very possible for God to make me lose 90 pounds in my sleep, it would be appropriate, and therefore he must've done it. But he didn't... And so false logic stewed over for 500 years would become infallible dogma on December 8, 1854 (154 years to this week).
I've been reading "The Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine and I read a quote the other day that I liked: "Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."
This seems to be the foundation of the Anglican Church at least. But to me it's not so much that it is a lack of fidelty to disbelieve but that I think it should have certain consequences. It should never be a sin not to believe but one shouldn't take communion if they don't believe. So if you don't believe or at least see yourself believing in the Immaculate Conception then don't be Catholic, if you can't see yourself believing that Muslim Suicide Bombers have just as valid a path to Heaven as you do, then don't be a Unitarian or United Christian. And if you even consider choosing between the options I've just given you don't become a Presbyterian, because you believed you had a libertarian free will between those options and really you're totally depraved an therefore only able to choose the sinful unitarian option...it requires special grace to choose Catholicism.
Gah, I must start studying for this world religions exam and begin memorizing part of the Qu'ran... which is like a more boring and repetative Old Testament.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Deism is the belief in one God who is revealed by reason, experience, and nature. Not scripture. After nightmarish exegetical fights with Protestants and Catholics alike I ended up realizing how problematic Scripture was with it's multiplicity of interpretation, ambiguities and contradictions (mostly numerology and historically, as well after fighting about it so much I think maybe Rom 4:4 and James 2:24 are a contradition in a matter of faith and morals). It also was funny to me the other day when I was talking with Lance a friend and theology student who brought up some issue with the divinity of Christ and the gospels and I said "ya some days I trust Church Tradition more than Scripture" (I truly am Catholic I guess) and we both laughed.
Traditional Theology after Nicea said that God was understood two ways. The ousia and kergyma (my greek is terrible) but it was explained to me that the character of God is explained through his kergyma or persons and those are his actions which we understand him by The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. BUT they also taught (as Plato and others did) that God's essence was a mystery, and unknowable, his ousia was incomprehensible. Many Eastern Theologians said that the best way to express the essence of God was silence.
St. Gregory of Nyssa said of Moses' journey that God was most present in absolute Darkness on Mount Sinai. St. Augustine said “We can know what God is not, but we cannot know what he is” (On the Trinity). Likewise St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "In this life what God is is unknown to us by the revelation of grace; and so we are joined to him as to something unknown." (Summa Theologica). "No single thing of all that is created has or ever will have even the slightest communion with the supreme nature or nearness to it" - Gregory Palamas.
So I'm thinking that we've become tricked into thinking that we some how perfectly understand God and can say what he thinks or his opinion from everything to who he would vote for, to what he thinks about birth control.
I'm starting to think that he is much more incomprehensible than I even imagined. I also heard this quote from a desert father "The sin of humanity is but a fistful of sand thrown into the ocean of God's grace". I always thought I was just hopefully unregenerate, but I'm starting to think that our own egotism makes us think God is really sitting there with a checklist to write down our actions everyday. I think that kind of just gives meaning to people rather than it being logical. So maybe Enlightenment Deism and Ancient Christianity are closer than I thought.
Counter-Arguments against my post:
Presbyterians will say: "you are an unregenerate sinner who wants to live in sin and thus are trying to advocate this heresy which you were probably taught in that false Church by Satan himself"
Baptists: "Stop thinking! all thinking is vain philosophy, read your bible!"
Anglicans: "I agree"
Catholics: "who are the Church fathers?"
Intelligent Conservative Theologians: "Hebrews 1 says that Christ is the exact image of God, he has given us an interpretable revelation which says things which are at odds with your quotes, and you probably just quote farmed those things and haven't read them in context"
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Well as such tomorrow is my 'rite of acceptance' an interesting liturgical innovation by which we stand at the front of the church and 'receive'? the sign of the cross/signum crucis. I was supposed to be a 'candidate' rather than a 'catechumen' because I've been baptized already (in a church which Rome has declared a defective false heretical group) and apparently it would be 'offensive' to say their baptism wasn't real (even though it somehow isn't offensive to say that everything else they do is wrong).
The problem: I forgot to pick up my 'baptismal record' (which I doubt my church even has, why would you record an event that is merely symbolic and entirely ineffectual?). So it's too late now and I don't know what to do as tomorrow morning I need it. SO i've turned the problem into a final attempt to receive conditional baptism and be accepted as a Catechumen - I've written this document on it. If they don't let me in and continue to show that they can't even understand their own theology - that's it. ....seriously ... there's no way God's true Church could be that idiotic. (Though that may not be true, I've read some medieval church history). In any case, I've already said I'm becoming Anglican if they refuse or it becomes an issue (because I KNOW that the CofE isn't God's true church and so at least I'll have certainty - aka I'll have certainty I'm wrong).
Here's the document I wrote:
Catholic Declarations on Baptism:
Canon 4 - “If anyone says that the baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit with the intention of doing what the Church does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema.” – Council of Trent on Baptism
1213 “1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."
Baptism is Regenerative (saving) and is done with the intent to bring the baptized individual into the Church.
1284 “In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate's head while saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."”
On February 16, 2004 I was baptized by full immersion at Harbour Fellowship Baptist Church in the proper Trinitarian formula, but it was not done with the intention or understanding that the Catholic Church has of baptism. In almost no ways is it possible to link the Baptist understanding of Baptism with the Catholic position.
Fellowship Baptist and Baptist Declarations on Baptism:
Baptism, which is the immersion of the believer in water, whereby he obeys Christ’s command and sets forth his identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
Even if the Baptist Minister did intent me to enter into ‘the church’ the Baptist definition of Church is:
“The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. In Him… is vested in a supreme and sovereign manner all power… The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be head of the Church, but he is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, who the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” – London Baptist Confession (1689) 26.14
The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
“the only two sacraments, or ordinances as they call them, which Baptists generally admit, are not productive of grace, but are mere symbols. Baptism does not bestow, but symbolizes, regeneration, which has already taken place.”
Therefore, I would like to ask for a conditional baptism, not out of stubbornness, but out of genuine belief and study of the documents of the Catholic Church.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves;
but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New
Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the
spirit giveth life."
The apostle speaks of this apostolic activity. Preachers of this Christian era must bear in mind that they are preachers, not of the Old Covenant, but of the New. That is the reason why the apostle refers to the letter, that is, the Law, which kills, and to the spirit, this is, the Gospel, which gives life. A New Testament preacher as such has to preach nothing less than the Gospel. He is really discharging an alien function when he preaches the law. It is due to the horrible blindness that papists assert that in the Scriptures two doctrines must be distinguished, the old Law and the evangelical law. The latter term is self-contradiction. How can there be glad tidings in a law? Add to this that the Antichrist goes so far as to contend that the evangelical law is the more grievous of the two: for the Mosaic Law had been satisfied with external obedience, while the evangelical law lays its injunctions on men’s innermost heart." -C.W. Walther "Law and Gospel" Lecture 39
I remember reading Matthew after reading the Old Testament at Bible School and being horrified as I listened to Jesus and talked with my dad. I said to him "I was just getting used to the rigorousness of Jewish law - I could live with taht - but now Jesus is saying we have to be perfect and putting the heaviest yoke we've ever had on us", and I remember talking with Lance about the question: Didn't Jesus just make holiness harder for us, as God now judges everything according to the letter AND the spirit of the law? Oh anti-nomianism, how appealing you are sometimes. Until then, back to the rigorous rules of Rabbi Jesus 'be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect'
I think Walther's idea is neat but not backed up by scripture, the truth of the matter is that New Testament morality is a high bar, much higher than Old Testament. But I just like Walther's thoughts because being a Lutheran would be so easy - it's like the Utopia of religion, you don't have to do anything, you don't even have to be good and God still loves you, which sounds like a whole religion altogether. Didn't Luther say something about Religion and Gospel? ... ah nevermind, back to mass, rite of acceptance this week...
I realize that all of our orthodox systems in Christian theology focus greatly on merit - even if it is hidden. Obviously for the Catholics, it is: belonging to the right Church, and doing the right motions, and the Priest saying the right words, and you having the right intent. This is the Catholic system of merit which has long been attacked and ridiculed etc.
BUT - the Protestant system equally relies on merit - though they try to hide it. I would argue that the Protestant system actually focusses more on Human merit than the Catholic one, in that the Catholic one actually shows grace to those who don't deserve it at a few points whereas the Protestant system shows grace to those who don't deserve it not even once. Let me explain this possibly ridiculous claim.
For the Protestant you have to have sola fide - faith alone and THEN you are Justified. You have to understand the gospel, accept the gospel, and decide. Just ask most Evangelicals (excluding the usual suspects: Lutherans, True Calvinists/Presbyterians, Anglicans) what they think about infant baptism. Chesterton says that men who wish to become Baptist ministers do so out of the 'horror that an infant could unconsciously come to Christ'. In Catholicism a baby who doesn't understand anything can be baptized and said to be unequivocally 'saved'. For Protestants (at least the modern ones) this is high heresy. The idea that someone could be saved without earning it by believing and having knowledge and rejecting false heretical papist versions of the gospel - that is terrible!
So we have the Catholics who are fighting their way through earth and purgatory by faith and works and sacraments to reach Heaven and the Modern Protestants who are preaching a sort of Gnostic idea that knowledge will save you and that if you say the sinners prayer of believe the "right" theology then you'll be saved (See Sproul on believing the "right" (Reformed) theology for salvation). Each equally trying to earn their way into Heaven or at least to point the finger at those around them to try and prove that they're more deserving than their neighbour.
There was once a man named Martin Luther who taught alot of things - but aside from his theories on driving the Jews our of Germany as dogs, he had one interesting idea (which Hitler didn't later advance). It was the reinterpretation of Sola Gratia - Grace Alone, and imputed righteousness. He was wild enough to propose that humans actually didn't have to do anything to be saved, that they were freely justified by grace alone and predestined by God to go to Heaven no matter what they did. (Luther was a Calvinist/Classic Reformed in this view but later Lutherans changed him) He wrote to Sin boldly with confidence in Christ. He was a grace-high psychopath who actually believed God loved people even when they didn't earn it.
But, I began to wonder something even MORE crazy, something heretical, something unorthodox... what if God actually loved people unconditionally.
Seriously, like REALLY unconditionally.
Like if he loved Richard Dawkins. Like if someone cursed God and spit on him and God still loved that person.
Clearly that's not the biblical view of God as he says that those who keep his commandments will be loved by him (Jn 14:21) and that we will be judged by our works (Mt 25:44, Rev 22), and that he hates the proud, and obviously hates the Canaanites as he ordered their genocide. And obviously God hates Idolaters as they were killed by the Levites after Moses brought down the 10 commandments and the people were worshipping the golden calves..
What if God loved people who worshipped golden cows...
Well philosophically I'd then have to say that God would not be Just or Holy or a bunch of other good things that he is, and apparently there's no loophole for him to get out of his obligation to hate sin. But it boggles my mind that someone who can see everything and upholds all existence would be so shocked and appalled by sin. It kind of reminds me of when I watch Lord of the Rings and I KNOW Boromir is going to die, but Boromir is my favourite character and I get angry and sad and cry every time I watch it. Does God do that every day as he upholds our existence and sees the endless sin of humanity, does he cry and lament our every sinful and human mistake which he consequently knew would happen and even allows to continue to happen.
Even if Deism does show us an uncaring God, at least it makes sense in that God can deal with the consequences of his creation, it's almost like the God of theism created a sandcastle on the beach and then freaks out and blames the castle for being knocked down by the waves.
But ya, I'd have to be some kind of wild non-Christian Episcopalian to believe nonsense like God actually loving people who don't have the right religion. What was I thinking.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I was reading about my 'hero' Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams and his views on Jesus and the Apostles Creed. He said he thought "(Jesus)who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary" was an intentional metaphor...
This man is in charge of the souls of 70 million worldwide in the Anglican communion and he thinks the gospel is a metaphor... What is the point of liberal theology? It's just vague moral platitudes and empty ritual. (as opposed to clear legalistic morality and meaningful ritual - which is Catholicism j/k). I no longer have any desire to become Anglican, and I have no more respect for the Archbishop.
I was listening to John MacArthur on the radio the other day and he was preaching about Jesus - a topic of his which I prefer to his previous series 'Evolution: Fact or Fiction' in which he claimed all proponents of theistic evolution or old earth creationism were heretics. But Johnny Mac was preaching like Spurgeon on the centrality of Christ. He was talking about how the Christology in Colossians says that Jesus created the Aeons (i hope that's the right greek word) and he explained it as:
'Jesus created every age, and the framework for ontological
existence, every second that the world continues to function it does so by his will and power. I often find it ironic that as Jesus walked the earth he was upholding not only his own existence but that of the entire universe' - John MacArthur (paraphrased by my memory)
Wow. And he didn't mean that metaphorically.
In mass today they read aloud: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 3:11), and I opened my missal to a hymn in the back and read:
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet
sorrow and love flow mingled down
did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
O wonderful cross!
O the wonderful cross
bids me come and die
and find that I may truly live.
O wonderful cross!
O the wonderful cross!
All who gather here by grace
draw near and bless your name.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offer far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
O wonderful cross!
O the wonderful cross
bids me come and die
and find that I may truly live.
O wonderful cross!
O the wonderful cross!
All who gather here by grace
draw near and bless your name.
O wonderful cross!
O the wonderful cross
bids me come and die
and find that I may truly live.
Jesus. YWHW is Salvation. "and on that cross where Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied". That is a message worth teaching.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I was reading this post: http://highergroundonline.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/evolution-of-the-creeds/ , and feeling very glad that I'm still becoming Catholic. It is a great image of the destruction that happens when you abandon ecclesiology - the doctrine of the Church - (Catholic and Traditional Protestant alike). At least if you're a Baptist you can accept what the Baptist Church has decided and accepted (like the Trinity), if you're Emerging, suddenly everything can be thrown out. I love Rob Bell and lots of self-described Emergents, but I don't like this theological liberalism. In my opinion, when you ask the hard questions of theology you can do one of 5 things:
1. Become a Liberal, doubt everything and have no faith at all.
2. Stop asking questions, reject all philosophy and logic and base everything on feelings and emotions.
3. Become a Presbyterian/Calvinist.
4. Become a Catholic/Orthodox/Traditional Anglican/submit to apostolically succeeding bishops and Tradition and actually believe the catholic faith.
5. Stay Evangelical
Monday, October 27, 2008
"Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us." - Charles Spurgeon
I'll say it, outside of reading for class and RCIA I haven't read the bible (until tonight) for weeks. I am afraid of what I have become. I'm so worned out with everything in life, I'm too afraid to go forth anymore. I feel extremely guilty about life and I read this passage tonight.
"There was a certain man ... whose name was Elkanah... He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh... On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb." - 1 Samuel 1:1-6 NRSV
I was thinking about Hannah and how in her world she was probably seen as cursed by God. She had no sons, and in that world this meant she was shamed and had basically nothing - except her husband. The woman she has to compete with as wife also criticizes her. It says something hear that I always seem to gloss over when I read the bible. "year by year", or year after year. This was going on for years.
I'm only 20 years old and I have very few problems and stresses which have lasted for years, nothing this bad for sure.
I also like that Elkanah gives her a double portion. At this point in the story Hannah has not talked to God and did not know why she was in this predicament, and in all likelihood felt absolutely abandonned. But her husband gives her a double portion... because he loved her. I bet after all that time she ended up hating herself as well, and that her husband was the one who reminded her of her value and great worth. I think maybe, Hannah, was her own worst enemy.
In some small incomparable way, I feel alot like her.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I love this passage. I was reading the Qu'ran the other day for World Religions and I was reminded of John Stott's quote about why he could never be any religion other than Christian, he says that it is the Cross, and that it stands at the centre of our faith, history, and the divine drama that we find ourselves in, it is on that Cross that Jesus made it possible for all men to come to faith (though Stott would disagree with the last part), and it is a redemption by GRACE, in fact it is a redemption by GRACE, ALONE!!!!
I was sitting in my heretical RCIA class today listening to the teacher exhort us in a Pelagian fashion that if we are nice to people and talk to them, even if we still hate them, this is Christian love and God will then let us into heaven if we do it.
"But if it is BY GRACE, it is NO LONGER ON THE BASIS OF WORKS; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." -Romans 11:6
This annoys me to no end. I'm definately not advocating justification by faith ALONE, but I am advocation salvation by Grace Alone, and Justification by faith first. (which is actually what the Catholic Church teaches, if you didn't know)
I read this passage from Peter Kreeft the other day who says that we cannot buy our way into Heaven by good works, and that we do not do good works to get to Heaven, we do good works because Heaven has gotten into us.
Kreeft also writes:
"The plant of our new life in Christ is one; the life of God comes into us by faith, through us by hope, and out of us by works of love. That is clearly the biblical view, and when Protestants and Catholics who know and believe the Bible discuss the issue sincerely, it is amazing how quickly and easily they come to understand and agree with each other on this, the fundamental divisive issue . . ."
But many Catholics to this day have not learned the Catholic and
biblical doctrine. They think we are saved by good intentions or being nice or sincere or trying a little harder or doing a sufficient number of good deeds . . .
"I remember vividly the thrill of discovery when, as a young Protestant at Calvin College, I read Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent on justification. I did not find what I had been told I would find, `another gospel' of do-it-yourself salvation by works, but a clear and forceful statement that we can do nothing without God's grace, and that this grace, accepted by faith, is what saves us."
For the love of God, I hope everyone who knows me, knows firmly that Salvation is not by good intentions, nice things, or going to Church, it is about the gracious salvation that Jesus Christ is offering to you, you choose whether to accept it or not. I guess I'm still an Evangelical at heart, and pray that I always will be. I'll leave you with this line from an amazing hymn (which I happened to make an entire post ridiculing, but nonetheless it's good)
"For on that Cross where Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied, for every sin, on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ, I live" - Hymn "In Christ Alone"
Friday, October 10, 2008
"Sanctification is obedience, and, as a progressive thing, consists in obeying God more and more perfectly. Young converts should be taught so as to understand what perseverance is. It is astonishing how people talk about perseverance. As if the doctrine of perseverance was "Once in grace, always in grace," or "Once converted, sure to go to heaven." This is not the idea of perseverance. The true idea is, that if a man is truly converted, he will continue to obey God. And as a consequence, he will surely go to heaven. But if a person gets the idea that because he is converted, therefore he will assuredly go to heaven, that man will almost assuredly go to Hell." - Charles Grandison Finney "Instructions of Young Converts in Lectures on the Revivals of Religion".
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It is the great Protestant myth that the Catholic Church is somehow 'scared' of the Bible. It is a natural assumption of most people, that the Protestant Reformation saved the bible from the ashes. This is a lie. Over 100 editions of the Bible were produced by the Catholic Church in the 50 years preceding the Reformation in the vernacular languages (spoken or common languages) of the people. Martin Luther produced one, which the Church forbid -as it did with Wycliffe's because it was an improper translation, Luther added 'alone' to Eph 2:8-9, and other such disfigurements of the word of God as preserved by the Catholic and Orthodox Church.
People complain about the 'Vulgate' - the Latin Bible being used, and that it's purpose was to 'hide' the bible from commoners in a foreign language. The name Vulgate is interesting because it comes from the same english root as Vulgar - meaning in the common speech of the people.
Here is an amazing article showing that this Protestant Myth is just that - a myth - and not a fun myth like Lord of the Rings, or a true myth like Gen 1-3, but a fake bad myth.
here it is: (thank you Lord for Dave Armstrong)
"because of the human tendency to dichotomize differing viewpoints and to create "good guys" and "bad guys" in the most sweeping terms, it becomes almost "psychologically necessary" to come up with a villan, historically-speaking. If Protestants are for the Bible, then (in this mindset) someone has to be the "bad guy" and against the Bible. Therefore, in a movie of this sort, which deals with the myth and folklore of Protestant origins, the Catholic Church "must" be the "bad guy" and enemy of the Holy Scriptures (otherwise, much of the Protestant self-understanding and historical importance and rationale for the very movement itself is greatly hindered). Alongside this is the commonly-held Protestant caricature of claiming that the Catholic Church "feared" the Bible, and how it would expose the falsity of Catholic beliefs, which is why she allegedly forbade it to the common people, in the common tongue, and discouraged its study.
The only problem with such embellishment of one's own epic and noble tale of origins is that it can't hold a candle to the true history concerning the Catholic high reverence for Scripture. It is a simple, indisputable historical fact that the Catholic Church was the guardian, translator and preserver of the Bible for the nearly 1500 years between the time of Jesus Christ and Martin Luther. Anyone at all familiar with the Middle Ages knows about learned monks copying the Scriptures laboriously by hand.
Had the Catholic Church hated or feared the Bible as is so often absurdly claimed, it was an easy matter during this period to destroy all copies. Nor were the masses ignorant of the Bible in the Middle Ages before the Protestants came into the picture. If anything, Bible literacy in the fifty years before Luther's revolt (1467-1517) among lay non-scholars was arguably greater than in our own time.
Before the modern printing press was invented in the mid-15th century, Bibles were chained at libraries not in order to "keep them from the people," as the stereotype goes, but rather, to protect them from thieves, so the common people could have more access to them, as books were very expensive. This practice persisted long after 1517 in Protestant countries such as England, since older books would have continued to be very valuable. Every Protestant (even the most anti-Catholic sort) ought to be profoundly thankful to the Catholic Church, without which they would not possess their Bible.
Nor is it at all true that the Catholic Church was opposed to the printing and distribution of Bible translations in vernacular languages (it did oppose some Protestant translations which it felt were inaccurate). For instance (utterly contrary to the myths in this regard which are pathetically promulgated by the movie Luther), between 1466 and the onset of Protestantism in 1517 at least sixteen editions of the Bible appeared in German, with the full approval of the Catholic Church:
Strasburg: 1466, 1470, 1485
Basel, Switzerland: 1474
Augsburg: 1473 (2), 1477 (2), 1480, 1487, 1490, 1507 [also in 1518]
Cologne: 1480 (2)
Delf: [before 1522]
(From Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 vols., translated by A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 [orig. 1891], vol. 1, 56-57, vol. 14, 388)" - Dave Armstrong in a Response to the movie "Luther" http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/05/catholic-response-to-movie-luther-2003.html
Sunday, September 28, 2008
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid;
that foundation is Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 3:11
St. Thomas Aquinas describes Christ's sacrifice on the cross as superabundant, it's like the famous evangelical worship song lyrics 'All of you, is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need, you satisfy me with your love, and all I have in you, is more than enough'.
This morning I was thinking about the motto of Notre Dame University, crux spes unica 'the cross is our only hope'. It was then that I learned this is from an ancient latin hymn called "Vexilla Regis" dating back to 6th century Rome written by the Bishop of Poiters. (now aside from a debate about St. Helen and the True Cross, I want to include a portion of a translation of it)
"Abroad the regal banners fly,
now shines the Cross's mystery:
upon it Life did death endure,
and yet by death did life procure.
Who, wounded with a direful spear,
did purposely to wash us clear
from stain of sin, pour out a flood
of precious water mixed with blood.
Blest Tree, whose happy branches bore
the wealth that did the world restore;
the beam that did that Body weigh
which raised up Hell's expected prey.
Hail Holy Cross, our only hope!
Now, in the mournful Passion time;
grant to the just increase of grace,
and every sinner's crimes efface.
Blest Trinity, salvation's spring
may every soul Thy praises sing;
to those Thou grantest conquest by
the Holy Cross, rewards supply. Amen."
This hymn reminded me of another hymn I heard the other day, which I am not trying to commit to memory. It was written by Annie Johnston Flynt who was extremely sick and frail for most of her life, and wrote this wonderful hymn in spite of everything she endured:
He Giveth More Grace
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again."
May you find hope in the glorius Cross of Our Lord, who provided more than enough grace for everyone to be washed of their sins in. May Grace lift us up, help us stand, and lead us on the path to Heaven. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"Faith is a divine work in us, which transforms us, gives us a new birth out of God (John 1:13), slays the old Adam, makes us altogether different men in heart, affection, mind, and all powers, and brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, energetic, active, mighty thing, this faith! It cannot but do good unceasingly. There is no question asked whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked the works have been done, and there is a continuous doing of them. But any person not doing such works is without faith. He is groping in the dark, looking for faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, although he indulges in a lot of twaddle and nonsense concerning faith and good works. Faith is a living, daring confidence in the grace of God, of such assurance that it would risk a thousand deaths. This confidence and knowledge of divine grace makes a person happy, bold, and full of gladness
in his relation to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit is doing this in the believer. Hence it is that a person, without constraint, becomes willing and enthusiastic to do good to everybody, to serve everybody, to suffer all manner of afflictions, from love of God and to the praise of Him who has extended such grace to him. Accordingly, it is impossible to separate works from faith, just as impossible as it is to separate the power to burn and shine from fire. Accordingly, beware of your own false thoughts and of idle talkers, who pretend great wisdom for discerning faith and good works and yet are the greatest fools. Pray God that He may create faith in you; otherwise you will be without faith forever and aye, no matter what you may plan and do" - Martin Luther preface to Romans Commentary
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way...The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." - Psalm 46:1-2, 11
"Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations."- Psalm 90:1
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." - John 6:37 KJV
"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling." - Martin Luther
"Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars...I will not forget thy Word" - Blaise Pascal after a near death experience
Thursday, September 18, 2008
"A young man will suddenly become a Catholic priest, or even a Catholic monk, because he has a spontaneous and even impatient personal enthusiasm for the doctrine of Virginity as it appeared to St. Catherine or St. Clare. But how many men become Baptist ministers because they have a personal horror of the idea of an innocent infant coming unconsciously to Christ? How many honest Presbyterian ministers in Scotland really want to go back to John Knox, as a Catholic mystic might want to go back to John of the Cross?"
"What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail-foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense. The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on. I can understand the spectator saying, "This is all hocus-pocus"; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, "Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh." But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed? To say to the priests, "Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense," is sensible. To say, "Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest," is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street."
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Jansenism is intriguing to me because I like it's emphasis, in only a few ways does it contradict Church teaching (possibly teaching limited atonement, and irresistible grace), but it places great emphasis on Election and the sovereign grace of God and faith in the work of Christ. It never denies that works justify or the nature of the communion or anything else like that (from the little of what I've read), but it does emphasize what I think at least is the 'best' of Protestantism and Catholicism.
Jansen himself wrote that if his doctrines were offensive to the Church that they should of course be disposed of and that he wished to be faithful to the Church, and I believe that is the point. The point is that emphasis needs to be reformed at times or shifted depending on the situation. Baptists for example believe in an eternally Hell for all believers which they will be conscious during, but I've never heard a sermon on it, because it's just alluded to briefly or like an 'unwritten law' that it exists. Thus if their churches start to doubt Hell, they should emphasize it.
Thus while I am not a Jansenist because it has been declared heretical, I definately agree with the emphasis and that the good parts of it's theology should be emphasized more. I don't know why people think Election is such a horrific doctrine, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and alot of others are in agreement that it is a beautiful thing. Active reprobation...is another story.
Monday, September 15, 2008
It seems very good as it blends alot of the truth about the fall, the gospel, predestination, and grace together and presents a truly Augustinian theology. I am planning on reading alot more of it.
Wikipedia says it well here:
"Jansen also insisted on justification by faith, although he did not contest the necessity of revering saints, of confession, and of frequent Communion. Jansen’s opponents (mainly Jesuits) condemned his teachings for their alleged similarities to Calvinism (though, unlike Calvinism, Jansen rejected the doctrine of assurance and taught that even the saved could not be assured that they were saved). Blaise Pascal's Ecrits sur la Grâce, based on what Michel Serres has called his "anamorphotic method," attempted to conciliate the contradictory positions of Molinists and Calvinists by stating that both were partially right: Molinists, who claimed God's choice concerning a person's sin and salvation was a posteriori and contingent, while Calvinists claimed that it was a priori and necessary. Pascal himself claimed that Molinists were correct concerning the state of humanity before the Fall, while Calvinists were correct regarding the state of humanity after the Fall.
The heresy of Jansenism, meaning here its denial of Catholic doctrine, is that it denies the role of free will in the acceptance and use of grace -- that God's role in the infusion of grace is such that it cannot be resisted and does not require human assent. The Catholic teaching is that "God's free initiative demands man's free response" (CCC 2002)  that is the gift of grace can be resisted and requires human assent."
Even if one is not allowed to believe in Irresistible Grace and be a Catholic, at least this shows me you can still believe in Total Depravity and Unconditional Election. Augustinian Thomism still offers some hope for me yet.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
“Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel” (1 Cor 4:15).
I understood what St. Paul was to the Corinthians now, he was an example in faith, a Bishop who corrected their errors, but more than that, a father in the gospel who showed them in some small way the Fatherhood of God. Of course if a person abused this position (as has occurred in many sex scandals, etc) the image could be the exact opposite, but it can also be of great encouragement. I guess I was just writing this story to say that the Lord is good, and is teaching me this through his servants.
God is good, and I will live with that. In the triumphal entry in St. Luke’s gospel it describes Jesus entering the town, and the Pharisees are upset, the people are crying out hosanna (‘save us’) and other cries that anticipated the messiah, and this would probably not escape the notice of the Roman guards. Jesus has this entry in fulfillment of Jewish scriptures (Zechariah) and people are crying to them as their king. This is when the pharisses say “Teacher, rebuke your disciples” (Lk. 19:39) and this I guess was a reasonable request, for if he did not rebuke them he risked causing a riot and a rebellion with Roman force to crush it. But the Pharisees miss the cosmic significance, they miss the God they worship, even though he is standing in front of them (and we probably would too). But Jesus says this classic line to them, “If they kept quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Lk. 19:40). It’s as if Jesus is saying: ‘I am Good, I am God, this is the day Israel has been waiting for since God first called Abraham, but if you miss this, if you refuse to recognize the significance of this, Creation itself will speak be your witness’.
Even in the bad times of life I must always remember the simple truth I sung to kids in Church of England schools over and over again during outreach: “our God is a good God, he’s a good good good good God”.
Friday, September 12, 2008
"And crimson crosses on the dirty white...
The mist still hung in snags from dripping thorns;
Absent-minded guns still sighed and thumped.
And then they came, the walking wounded,
Straggling the road like convicts loosely chained,
Dragging at ankles exhaustion and despair...
Remembering after eighteen years,
In the heart's throat a sour sadness stirs;
Imagination pauses and returns
To see them walking still, but multiplied
In thousands now. And when heroic corpses
Turn slowly in their decorated sleep
And every ambulance has disappeared,
The walking wounded still trudge down that lane,
And when recalled they must bear arms again" - "The Walking Wounded" By Vernon Scannell
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion (splagnidzomai) for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd...." - Matthew 9:36
The Gospel is our only hope to heal the walking wounded, with the wounded healer
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5
"‘Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.’" - Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20
Here it is: http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/tulip.htm
It's nice to be reminded that of all the good doctrines Catholics can hold - even though the Church at large seems to hide quite well or water down quite a bit the doctrines of grace.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
This is also not so much a Catholic - Protestant issue, as it is a more specific Calvinist & Zwinglian versus Catholic and to a lesser extent Lutheran and Anglican.
The question is not simply one of whether there are 7 Sacraments: Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Penance, Marriage, Extreme Unction, and Holy Orders, or just the first 2. It is also a question of what do the sacraments do? what is their purpose. The question after that though is one of the very character of God. Does God care about the outward and physical or is he only concerned with the inner and spiritual.
The problem is that our Christian Ethics are Ontological rather than Teleological - they are based on the motive of the doer, rather than just the outcome. Was it T.S. Eliot who said the greatest sin was doing the right thing for the wrong reason? (if not it was some other British poet). SO one has to question why God would imbue special powers to actions.
The Calvinist position as I understand it is that God works effectually outside the sacraments in that the baptism which forgives you is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which occurs at the moment of saving faith. The infant baptism is just a covenantal sign, but ultimately it has no purpose other than marking the visible from the invisible church, but since in Calvinistic Ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church) the 'true' church is always the invisible church anyway, so there really isn't any point in being in the 'visible' church.
The Catholic position as I've argued before is that the sacraments have power. They actually are objective means of receiving grace. Every time you receive the Eucharist you are recieving the physical body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ (I don't know how one receives his soul if it's his body, but there is probably something about it in Aquinas or a Scholastic, so I won't argue it...maybe I got it wrong by including his soul, nevermind). Likewise when you are absolved and forgiven of your sins by a priest you are forgiven by God Himself.
There are many biblical and historical arguments I've already listed in favour of a literal interpretation of Christ's words about the Holy Communion, and the Sacrament of Confession/Penance, and an argument for regenerative baptism (it forgives your sins). If you wish to see more just check out one of these sites: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/10/topical-index-pages.html, or http://www.phatmass.com/directory/
The basic question though is why God would promise such Power to the Church? Why would he give frail men the ability to bind and loose, why would he give the keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter and allow men to determine who enters the Kingdom of Heaven. In all honesty, it gives me two thoughts:
1) God has stupidly given too much power to the Church
2) The Bible must be written by the Church as a means to claim supernatural power
The third option of course is that the Sacraments actually do have power and are efficatious, that God does care about physical actions. As C.S. Lewis put it in his defense of grace through the sacraments in Mere Christianity, God has no problem with matter, he created it, and it's no use trying to be more spiritual than God.
I was thinking the other day about Rob Bell's "The gods aren't angry" and how he proposes that none of the Israelite offerings in the Old Covenent satisfied God as he didn't 'need' blood. He also asked the question "Does your God need to hurt someone so that he can love?" it sounds like a great atheistic question and I've finally come to believe (as all Christians holding to either Calvin's Substitution or St. Anselm's Satisfaction theology of Atonement should) that yes God does have to hurt so that he can Love. But in essence he hurts himself, in Christ, he provides the sacrifice, which becomes an eternal part of his nature (Christ's eternal sacrifice).
I also remembered the 2 stories of God's anger towards violations of his covenants. The Second is of course 1 Corinthians 11 where St. Paul writes that those who partook of the Eucharist in an unworthy manner 'drank God's wrath against themselves' and 'were guilty of the body and blood of our Lord' and that this misuse resulted in illness and death. The first however is more obscure, I read about it in Exodus 4 at Capernwray Bible School and it was a blessing to be 'forced' to read the whole bible so that now I am more aware of all these extra stories.
The story is about Moses going into Egypt after receiving his mission from God in the Burning Bush, Zipporah and Moses are travelling with their son when we hear this:
"On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him and tried to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, ‘Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!’ So he let him alone. It was then she said, ‘A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.’ "" - Exodus 4:24-26
It seems odd to us that God would plan on killing Moses for not performing this outward circumcision rite. We are constantly taught in the New Testament that "circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything" (Gal 5) and likewise by St. Stephen the Martyr that we are to have 'circumcised hearts' not dead rituals. However it seems that in this story God disagrees, not in a way contradictory to the New Testament but in a way contradictory to my former interpretation. What if God really does care about the Sacraments about his Covenantal signs and realities. It isn't all bad though, it's also a huge gift, for maybe God really does work through the sacraments. Maybe that is why the Eucharist means 'the Good Gift' (or at least that's what someone told me).
The real question then is why no angel killed Zwingli? but I guess 'where sin abounded grace abounded all the more' (Rm 5.20)
An interesting book on this topic which I hope to buy soon is Dr. Scott Hahn's "Swear to God: God's Promise and Power of the Sacraments" http://www.amazon.com/Swear-God-Promise-Power-Sacraments/dp/0385509316/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221099823&sr=1-11.
Monday, September 8, 2008
1. Polemical and Repetitive:
Today Michael described my blog as being jerky Catholic or something to that effect. It is true that my brief stint in Anglicanism was the only religion I ever had that wasn't constantly attacking something. My Baptist upbringing was based in attacking Catholicism and Evolution, my Catholicism was based in attacking Scripture Alone and Faith Alone.
No one wants to hear a 20 something simply rehash the same 500 year old arguments for or against a certain theology, if you've heard it once you've heard it a thousand times. Everything gets turned into a 'schismatic' or 'romish' category, there is no in between, no middle ground, it's always all or nothing.
It's also hard for readers to constantly guess which side of the Tiber I'm standing on that particular day, sometimes it switches half-way through a post. There is no ground to stand on. Scripture has been undermined by ecclesiology and ecclesiology built on the Scripture it just undermined.
I don't have any new theological ideas to bring to the table, I'll read others and then stand on their shoulders expounding on how "I've come to study" this or that, when really I've just read something else and put it in my own words and pretending that it means I am a theologian. This reminds me of the line from Team America: World Police when a Hollywood actor says: "I think we should read newspapers and then tell people what the newspapers said but claim the ideas are our own!". In the academic world this is known as plagiarism
3. Self Depricating and Awkwardly Personal:
Many times my objection to something will be emotionalism or sentimental reasons, many times I base my theology on personal experience (geez only Methodism does that! crazy Wesleyan Quadrilateral)
4. Uses Big Words like Quadrilateral
Most times in Theology - much like any other "ology" there are ridiculously huge words used for simple concepts like "Infralapsarianism" which I believe has something to do with Calvin telling God to ordain a fall.
5. Continually Changing my mind about John Calvin
See I just made fun of John Calvin, but now you might be thinking: "hey didn't he say he was a 5 point Calvinist just yesterday? why is he insulting the man?". That is a good question. I think I consistently insult John Calvin because it is easy to invent mean polemics against him in the spirit of the #1 reason no one is reading my blog, and most people dislike him already, so I can make myself look smarter than him by insulting him.
I claimed at the beginning of the blog that I would only have 3 reasons, but lo and behold, I actually have 6. As Revelation 21:8 reminds us of course in the great evangelical anthem I learned at bible school: "liars go to Hell, liars go to Hell, burn, burn, burn"
This is an open apology to anyone who has wasted precious moments of their life trying to advance my knowledge of God, I am desperately sorry for all of the innumerable ways I have probably offended or annoyed you. Rest assured that you will probably not see me in Heaven. I also apologize for the previous sentence which was a classic example of #3 Self Deprecation.
Well I think I'm going to go read my Bible without the official magesterium of the Catholic Church or the Canons of Dordt, only the illumination of the Holy Spirit... look out Quakers, here I come!!!
-Catholic apologists have won the argument on Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, and are loaded with patristic and bible quotes to attack with.
-Catholic Historical Theologians show that there is no scriptural way that the Church could fall into universal apostasy for 15 centuries.
-Catholics hold Protestants accountable if they know about Catholicism and choose against it, J.R.R. Tolkien said that to look at the Catholic mass and the Blessed Sacrament and turn your back on it, or call it a mere symbol is 'calling Christ a liar to his face'. (...I wonder if the apostles telling Jesus he wasn't a door, a gate, or a vine, were lying to his face)
-If I were ever to go Protestant again Philip Wilson would drive to Canada and kill me on the place where the Altar should be in said Protestant 'ecclesial community' (church?)
Why I will never be a happy Catholic:
-Protestant and Orthodox Church Historians prove that the modern Papacy is complete innovation.
-According to many Protestants for me to convert would be a rejection of the gospel and thus in becoming Catholic I would be falling into apostasy, proving myself unelect, etc.
-I believe the 5 points of Calvinism or at least something very close to them.
-My friends and family are all Protestant.
-I don't "really" believe everything about Catholicism, I stand with C.S. Lewis in saying that my problem is not their doctrine but that by joining the communion I would automatically approve of every future doctrine. And if the Pope declared that salvation was not Sola Gratia then I'd have to say he was a heretic, no matter what Matthew 16 or St. Cyprian says.
I have no idea what to do anymore, and am sure that either way the rest of my life will be terribly plagued by doubts and frustration...May God help me...
Sunday, September 7, 2008
I'm hoping to cover 3 topics:
1. The Gospel
2. The Holy Spirit
3. The Sacraments
*note: Today I signed up for RCIA at the Catholic Cathedral in town, so please don't guilt trip me about not being Catholic enough, I'm following through with it. Thus my Catholic Ecclesiology has beat my Protestant Soteriology, and Church Tradition/History has beat Scripture.
"Man is nothing but a subject so naturally full of error that it can only be eradicated through grace." -Blaise Pascal
I've heard alot of arguments on the subject, I think in the end that St. Augustine, and John Calvin are correct in their assessment. I believe that the unregenerate man can neither do good, nor even think it, as the Bondage and Liberation of the Will says. I think mankind only has the free choice to choose between sin and sin.
I believe that at the culmination of the ages, Christ came as the God-Man to reconcile the world to God and redeem those the father had given him. I believe as Scripture says that Christ died for all, and his message should be addressed to all people, yet at the same time his sacrifice was only efficient for some. I've been influenced alot by reading "Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism" by Iain Murray, in understanding the balance and historic Calvinism.
I don't know about the saints or mother teresa or others, but in my own personal opinion and in contradiction to the teaching of my church, I believe that I have nothing to offer God, and that as a begger I come to the Lord, unconditionally elected, and saved solely by his grace alone. Even my repentence is done in selfishness and fear of Hell, but trusting Christ, I believe he will lead me to Heaven.
I read this verse today which comforted me greatly "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me" -John 10:14
For those of you who know theology, you'll realize I basically have a completely Reformed/Calvinistic view of Salvation (Soteriology), you are right in saying that. I just don't know how to explain the Gospel in Catholic terms, the Reformed/Augustinian way is the only way I understand.
Whenever I explain the gospel in Catholicism, I can usually convince people - it's almost the same gospel as Methodism/Wesleyan/Arminianism - but for me on a completely individual and personal level the Gospel of the Church Fathers and of the Catholic Church is terrible news. It's a requirement I could never live up to (perfection), and it makes Christ more of a legalist than a lover. The Early Church (2nd century) even taught that if you sinned after baptism you could not be forgiven, as J.N.D. Kelly points out. But I think I'll be a sinner my whole life. Simul Iust et Pecatur or something like that right?
I hope against hope that Christ loves me unconditionally and not based on my own merits or acheivements. These are the things that God has revealed to me personally in my life, as I said, I cannot provide logically indefensible proof for why I believe them, and I am branded a heretic for believing them in the Communion of Rome, please don't remind me, I KNOW.
I am still becoming a Roman Catholic, but this kind of message or Gospel -whether or not it is 'another gospel' (Gal 1:8) - will always bring tears to my eyes. If God took me back in time and gave me one request, one thing I could make to be true, it would be salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. But as I said, I don't 'really' believe it, and see tons of problems with it, etc. But again this is just at a personal level.
I really wish I was " justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith" - Romans 3:24-25