Saturday, February 28, 2009

High Church Jealousy

I'm watching (on youtube) "Shadowlands" one of my favourite films. There are these scenes with the High Church Anglican services at Oxford with full choirs in Latin, etc. That movie always makes me jealous and angry that the Anglicans are now (in some places) more high church than the Roman Catholics.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Malachi's Lenten Message

"For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished. Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’" - Malachi 2.16-3.8

A few things stick out to me here. God is talking about St. John the Baptist obviously with the messenger who purifies, and the offering of Judah as Christ's crucifixion - that's the offering - Or the Eucharistic Sacrifice (because it says it is of Old, and in Mal 1, it has the verse about a perfect sacrifice).... In any case, the Sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the mass are the same sacrifice, so it's still being presented which makes sense of the verse, or perhaps it is just that it stretched through all time past and future. But again as John judged the hypocritics of his day as Christ did, so the final judgment is foreseen here where some are purified (purgatory for Catholics, whatever the hell the Orthodox believe in -they probably all disagree-, or sanctification for Protestants).

I like that verse about the Lord not changing and therefore the true covenant people will not change. So the Church being the new israel in the covenant will be purified - but they will be saved - and they will be cleansed of sin and Christ's pure sacrifice will be theirs which will please God.

At least that's what I got from it. I'm probably going to get destroyed by the covenant theologians wanting the great wall of China between OT and NT covenants, and the Catholics who try to make everything a proof-text for later developed doctrine.

Whatever..... what it practically means is God is kicking my ass right now with bad stuff that's happened this week and i need some explanation so i go back to the scary part of the Old Testament which makes more sense than this week's readings of "In him (Christ) every one of God's promises is a yes" -which sounds nice, but isn't really true, as I'm still praying for what I've been praying for for the last 3 years, etc.

Hence why the Old Testament and Lent makes sense. God obviously still has discipline and wrath to dish out, even to his kids. But eventually we'll be able to say that this cosmic child abuse 'made us the men we are today'. Blah blah C.S. Lewis problem of pain....blah blah Ken Gire Sanctification... blah blah life sucks at times.

yep. good thing everyone stopped reading this blog. heh.

I'll close on a good quote from Rabbi Abraham Heschel (who the emergents all love): God remains unreal to those who view him as anything less than a consuming fire. (or something like that.)

Now off to class.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thoughts on Lent: My Ash Wednesday

This is just an excerpt from my journal about Ash Wednesday written at about 1pm yesterday and a picture of me in the Brock library with my faint ashes:

So I just got ashes on my forehead for Ash Wednessday. [a mennonite friend] went with me and I think it was very strange indeed for him, to see me cross myself, etc. A deacon presided, I think he was Roman Catholic, and the Reformed/Anglican (he represents both I think) Chaplain also did readings and prayers. It was ecumenical. I felt strange knowing that there were actually these ‘hidden’ Christians (Anglicans and Catholics in this case) who were devout enough to want to identify themselves publicly. It feels like the University hammer of Atheistic Positivism/Secular Liberalism is somehow striking lighter now. I always felt like it was almost perfect in it’s job at crushing our souls, but today I saw the proverbial ‘remnant’. They weren’t ‘cool evangelicals’ with music that sounds normal, it wasn’t a ‘youth meeting’ where pizza was served. It was an amalgamation of those who recognized the tradition of the church and scripture, and followed it penitentially. Our whispered singing and faltering voices, the general nervousness around the place, as we sung “Amazing Grace” was terribly authentic in the tiny room with students passing by the open door.

It was like the early Christians, huddled together in a room. Afraid of everyone else ‘finding them out’. I think this will be one of the best experiences this year for my faith. It was a blessed time. [my friend] noticed that his pale complexion and the firmness of the deacon made his ashes much more visible – indeed they were – but maybe the worst for me was before I even saw my own, before, when I was so worried what people would say or think, believing them (my ashes) to be visible from miles away ... and then I looked in the reflection of the computer and saw that they were much fainter than I thought, and I could easily move my bangs to cover this marking. It made me realize that perhaps on days like today when all is brought out to the light, that maybe I am in need of an increase of faith and fervor. It’s a preview to judgment day in essence. I used to be very zealous, but time in the world weakens you. In subtle ways at first. But before long you are back into it with everyone else, and you are no longer what scripture calls ‘one of the peculiar people’. Maybe that’s why public penance in the Early Church was good, maybe that’s why the Jews did it. Maybe my entire life it wasn’t the “religion” and “dead ritual” of it all that troubled me. Maybe I was using that as an excuse just to not look funny, to not be peculiar, and to fit in like everyone else."

Thats where my journal left off, but I remember talking with my friend about why on earth he would want to get ashes if he wasn't even Roman Catholic or Anglican and he said it was to try out 'new' religious experiences. But we also discussed how it forces you to be public with your faith. I laughed about how embarrassed I was about it, even though I could argue for Christianity/against atheism in seminars all year long, suddenly this became much more problematic, and how the early christians would've probably excommunicated people like me. So even though I've missed the point of Lent in this post (repentance, prayer, fasting, almsgiving) at the same time I learned a good lesson. Echoed by Saint Paul:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation" - Romans 1:16

I also have to say as a funny story that a guy I met from Campus Crusade for Christ (or whatever new nice name it has) came up to me and saw me reading the bible and then looked at my forehead and was utterly confused. He just looked at me like I had stabbed him in the back and said "I thought you were a Christian?" and I said "I am a Christian, I have been my whole life, but I'm not an evangelical, I go to the Catholic Church". He then proceeded to look at me like a Magic Eye Picture, really confused and a bit troubled. Then he picked up his books and left. lol nothing more scary to an Evangelical Protestant than Traditional Christianity I guess.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hans Urs von Balthasar - Quote

"If one does away with the fact of the Resurrection, one also does away with the Cross, for both stand and fall together, and one would then have to find a new center for the whole message of the gospel. What would come to occupy this center is at best a mild father-god who is not affected by the terrible injustice in the world, or man in his morality and hope who must take care of his own redemption: "atheism in Christianity"" - Hans Urs von Balthasar "The Cross For Us"

This other article he wrote called "Why I Am a Catholic" I haven't read yet but the first line looks great: "The reason why I remain in the Church is certainly not that I have succeeded in seeing that the Church corresponds a) to my expectations, or b) to God's expectations" - the article is here:

He like many others refrences the Eucharist as a key point, and has some nice things to say about the Orthodox and Anglicans. Or at least one nice thing to say.

Have a Happy-err.... Penitential Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, a holiday started because the pope accidentally spilled ashes on his head and someone laughed at him, and so he made everyone else do it - or so I was told in grade 8 by a friend at Catholic School.

Actually it's a liturgical celebration that probably started somewhere long ago for a good reason by a saint in memory of something Christ did (40 days of fasting in the wilderness).

Here's the quote for lent:

"Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God's sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God." -Thomas a Kempis

....the Calvinists are going to crucify me for this quote.... but then I guess if they do, it will not pass without merit lol. win-win situation really.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I'm Not Finished My Journey - Constant Conversion

WARNING!!!!! - Personal/spiritual post rather than Polemical/religious post - Ye who enter here abandon all hope

The Humility of a Hero

"Christ’s death redeemed man from sin, but I can make nothing of the theories as to how!"-C.S. Lewis

As I gave my thoughts on the Substitutionary Atonement and how I had to more or less 'give it up' for Catholicism, I realized that one of my favorite Anglicans had also given it up. Borrowing from another blog: "In The Allegory of Love Lewis referred to a poem whose "theology turns on a crudely substitutional view of the Atonement." In Mere Christianity Lewis indicated that he did not accept the substitutionary view of atonement." (

But I love Lewis' humility. He was clearly an Anglican/Protestant Arminian and accepted Sola Fide/Faith Alone but he tried to find a middle ground for which all Christians could come together on.

For me, I just need to accept that there is much that I haven't decided on and that this indecision is OK.

What I 'know'

When it comes to Theology Proper (Trinity, Who God is, etc) I think all Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox agree. And regarding Ecclesiology and the Sacraments my position is staunchly Roman Catholic, which of course will never allow me to leave the Church, but will also give me a plaguing of constant fear and guilt until I get to have my first confession, communion, and confirmation.

What I don't 'know':

But even if I am settled in my mind on the Catholic view of Conversion and the work of the Holy Ghost, I still can't actually invision it practically. I never know anyone who actually changes. Just sinner saints as Luther would say. I would completely doubt the truth of regeneration if it weren't for the few months of it I experienced in Bible School 3 years ago, and a few of my friends who are doing much better than I. But all of them aren't Roman Catholic, and many aren't even baptized. So how does that fit with my theology? it doesn't seem to. Again I just don't know.

And just ask me about Creation, Theistic Evolution, Young Earth, Old Earth, etc. I have absolutely no idea. I don't think I fit into any category because I think they all have problems. I could write an entire blog on this issue (maybe I'll do that next), but currently I find the Christian narrative and the Scientific narrative at odds, and I don't like picking sides because I -like Galileo- think science will vindicate God if it is true, and I believe all truth is God's truth. So I'm waiting around right now, and utterly confused on the matter.

So it's ironic that I started this blog saying "I'm a Christian looking for a Church" and now I say "I found a Church, but I'm looking for a Christian".... hmm. I wonder what I'll be saying in 2 years from now. I started off a "saved and justified bible-believing Christian" at the beginning, and now I appraise myself a "repentant Roman Catholic candidate in a state of damnation (mortal sin)".

I'm still in the purgatory between Protestant and Catholic and working out all these glitches as it were and confused ideas. But I knew I was in a Catholic mindset when people asked me 'so are you going to trust Jesus or the Church' and I immediately thought "false dicotemy" and primarily, the Church.


There are some things that bring me comfort however.

1. Mere Christianity. That I at least gotten over the worst of the family strife over my conversion - C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" is now our household religion. My dad and I when we discuss the faith still speak only with regards to this shared grounds. I also make comments about how there are a great many 'unsaved' people in the Catholic Church and him and I agree on it. (though we use slightly different criteria). And I must say that I've never departed the teaching I received as a child that the Lord looks at the heart first, and so we view in my family now, "true Christianity" not as sola fide or sola ecclesia but as a living trust in Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI calls this the "constant call to conversion" that each Christian has. And while I might not be 'sacramentally' in a state of grace, God knows - I am sure - that my heart is in the right place. And I think that's more important than anything.

2. Kyrie Eliesen. That God is merciful - two of my favourite verses in the bible are: "The sacrifice acceptable to God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps 51.17) - a verse I emphasize when I talk to Muslims and Jews about salvation. And Jesus' promise "anyone who comes to me I will never drive away" (Jn 6:37). I also have taken comfort in the words of St. Gregory Nazianzen "God's joy in giving is greater than our joy in receiving".

3. Hope. While I cynically doubt I will ever be regenerate and suffer from constant feelings of guilt and inadequacy, I still take comfort in hope, which St. Paul says "will not disappoint" (Rom 5:5). President Obama -who ever Christian seems to hate- wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope". I read some of it, and regardless of political views here, I just wanted to use the title for something. As Christians we do have the Audacity to hope. It is audacious because all signs point to despair. Hope is probably my favourite thing in the world, it's one of those words that for me has special meaning. It reminds me of Tolkien and his writing for Hope against despair. It's like the word repentance (which for many people is bad) which for me is a beautiful word. And so I try to pray each day for the Gift of the Holy Ghost which Jesus says the Father will give to us if we only ask, and maybe I'm already receiving it without knowing, but right now I have the audacity to hope for the zoe the supernatural and indwelling life of Christ, which I long for above all else.


I'm still on the Journey, I'm not finished, and I need to spend some time enjoying the mystery of God, and I find it appropriate to quote the words of C.S. Lewis again:

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done..."

Thus begins another day.

Your Daily Erasmus

"We are dealing with this: would a stable mind depart from the opinion handed down by so many famous men famous for holiness and miracles, depart from the decision of the church, and commit our souls to the faith of someone like you who has sprung up just now with a few followers, although the leading men of your flock do not agree either with you or among themselves -- indeed though you do not even agree with yourself, since in this same Assertion you say one thing in the beginning and something else later on, recanting what you said is not credible that God for so many centuries should have overlooked such a harmful error in his church without revealing to some of his saints the point which you contend is the keystone of the teachings in the gospel ...How, then, are you sure that Wyclif was a holy man and the Arians were heretics? Is Wyclif holy precisely because he was condemned by the church which you call papistical? By the same token you will say that Arius was holy because he was condemned by the same church. At this point if you appeal to Scripture, did the Arians have any lack of Scripture? No, they did not, you will say, but they interpreted it wrongly. But how can we be sure of that except that the church rejected their interpretation and approved that of the other side? The same could be said of Pelagius . . . I think it is safer to follow public authority rather than the opinion of someone or other who scorns everyone and boasts of his own conscience and spirit." - Erasmus of Rotterdam responding to Martin Luther.

I think my favourite Roman Catholics are those like Erasmus and St. Thomas More who constantly attack the Church and try to reform it, but from the inside. The true reformers rather than rebels who wish to change it not out of spite, but out of love for what it could be. That's why I call myself a Roman Catholic and in the next breath decry the vanity of the Vatican, or the unnecessary Platonism of asceticism, etc.

I call the Counter-Reformers and Church Fathers the 'polemicals' of the faith, and I apologize for putting this up, I just thought it was funny how none of our arguments (Protestant or Catholic) has advanced beyond Luther and Erasmus. I'm hoping to read some Karl Rahner, Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, and Hans Urs Von Balthusar, who are much more modern and ecumenical. But I can't find any of their books anywhere, so I'm just going to read Donald Miller and feel less angry. I only posted the Erasmus cuz I found it on Dave Armstrong's blog.

Friday, February 20, 2009

'Bobby' Jindal

In Political Science Seminar at Brock the other day, someone brought up the newly elected Republican Governor of Louisiana. He's an Indian-American immigrant and Hindu convert to Catholicism. That seems impossible, but it certainly happened. Anyway, apparently he's a lay theologian as well, he had an intellectual conversion and he wrote an entire essay entitled "How Catholicism is Different - The Catholic Church isn't just another Denomination" in 1996 a while before his election.

It's pretty standard, it just goes through the Neo-Catholic ( convert arguments from scripture about Ecclesiology, authoritative tradition, catholic justification, and a critique of sola fide, and sola scriptura. Nothing new by any means. But I just thought it was interesting how the same arguments and the same verses and history is leading people like me to Rome.

I don't know if I like the man's politics (he's basically an Indian Ronald Reagan) but he seems like a good Roman Catholic.

A Quote From Donald Miller

"The very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is. By that I mean they have Him all figured out, mapped out, and as my pastor, Rick, says, "dissected and put into jars on a shelf." You've got a bunch of Catholics in Rome who think one way about God, and a bunch of Baptists in Texas who think another, and that isn't even the beginning. It goes on and on and on like this, and it makes me wonder if God created us in His image or if we created Him in my life, God is always changing the way I think of Him. I am not saying God Himself is changing, or that my theology is open and I blur the lines on truth; I am only saying I think I know who He is, then I figure out I don't know very much at all....that's one of the things you notice about Jesus in the Gospels, that He is always going around saying, You have heard it said such and such, but I tell you some other thing. If you happened to be a person who thought they knew everything about God, Jesus would have been completely annoying." -Donald Miller (Searching for God Knows What, "Imposters")

I don't know if I completely like or agree with this quote, I just thought I'd put it up for interest. I -at the very least - agree with his confusion and worry over how people are so 'sure' they comprehend the incomprehensible and eternal and infinite God.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Casual thoughts on Substitutionary Atonement

I was listening to a Sufjan Stevens song today and he mentioned the Substitutionary Atonement, the great dogma of Western Christianity. But I realized today that the doctrine of Penal Substitution - the central key to my lifelong faith - is not compatible with Catholicism... I think this is pretty stupid, as John Calvin pretty much just does a better job than Anselm at explaining the Atonement. I always saw Penal Substitution merely as a further improvement or development of Aquinas, which was a development of Anselm which was a development of Augustine and Athanasius.

I read Isaiah 53 today and Romans 5. There can be nothing clearer than the fact that Christ died in our place, was punished for our sins. St. Anselm just based his theory on some Regal understanding of God's kingship and the need for honour. But this is obviously outdated. Ugh and I found this page that made me feel sick: ... "Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ" - I've not heard such a blasphemous title in my life. How on earth could any human pay Christ for anything. Penance is a legal fiction.

Yep... well maybe I should just stop reading my bible, as even when doctrines are clearly outlined I'm not allowed to believe them unless someone said something about it in the 3rd or 4th century affirming them.. . stupid church fathers.... gah. I hate my religion. (but of course sola scriptura makes no sense, and protestant ecclesiology is untraditional and bankrupt, and the Orthodox are racist shut ins). I'm also obligated to believe that Christ established the Church, but on days like today I really wish he established a better Church, because his is annoying me.

On a better note I talked with the Monsignor today and he said that Baptist baptisms are valid. So that's cool, because I wouldn't have wanted to affront God's honour by using the wrong water or words or intent.

So in the end the substitutionary atonement makes sense to me and was a pillar in my faith but at the same time I understand Catholic attacks on it:

1. Giving pardon does not square with taking satisfaction;
2. There is nothing that conforms with justice about punishing the innocent and letting the guilty go free;
3. The temporary death of one is not a substitute for the eternal death of many;
4. Perfect substitutionary satisfaction would confer on its beneficiaries an unlimited permission to sin.

So I guess number 3 kinda proves it, but at the same time as i will say that I will stick with what the Church teaches and try to figure out Anselm's formulation, I just feel rather attached to Penal Substitution. It makes so much sense, and it makes me happier, just like sola fide and Lutheran anti-nomianism...

I prophesy that one day I will become an Anglican and indulge myself in all these wonderful biblical heresies and finally be at peace.

this is just me venting, don't bother taking anything too seriously written above.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Change of Heart

I've jumped back and forth in my religious investigation from theological minutism to pragmatism to utter doubt and deism. Right now I'm just a simple man, I'm entering the Roman Catholic Church - with annoyances and problems, but still in the end, glad about it - and I'm desiring more and more just to be forgiven. I've never killed anyone, and I don't do anything illegal, but my conscience is still unclean, there remains great sin in my life, and more and more I pray for one thing. A changed heart.

I've tried to fix things, to 'clean up my act', but it never seems to work, and I end up scolding myself for rejecting in practice, the principles of Augustinianism - God must act, I can only cooperate. And in the back of my mind I can hear either a pastor or my dad or a friend say 'out of the heart comes our actions' and I google it and find:

"My child, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life." - Proverbs 4:20-23

I remember the promise God made to the the Jews in Ezekiel that he will replace their heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and that he will enscribe his laws onto their heart. I've been praying for that, and I've gotten a bit of it. I've been doing what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls using 'cheap grace', calling Catholics legalists because they preach "be holy for I am holy" - but in the end I think while grace is important, regeneration, sanctification, justification even, makes holiness which comes from a changed heart.
And so I've found myself praying the words of David which Mr. Klassen made us memorize in my Mennonite High School long ago:

"Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me, do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me" - Ps 51 NIV

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brief Thoughts on the CoC/Campbellites

I was watching President Obama kiss a poor black woman tonight and tell her he'd help her out because she was in the dire straits and even though some of his policy (abortion and Israel) appal me, I firmly believe in that moment he was acting in Christian love. Being the labeller that I am - guilty as charged - everytime I see Obama or Max Lucado my first thought is - Churches of Christ or Campbellite.

The Restorationist movement is an interesting tradition within Protestantism. As a mock Church Historian and firm advocate of Tradition I despise them for their 'no creed but the bible' theology which is basically "sola scriptura on crack". BUT as a pragmatist, and constant critic of the apathy of my 'one true church' -which can't do 'one true thing' a Christian Church should do, I love the tradition of the Churches of Christ. I love their attacks on denominationalism and the petty differences which stop us from being a united Christendom, even if I disagree with some of their doctrines. If the Catholic Church was utterly destroyed and I had to rebuild everything I would build the Campbellite/CoC church. It's focus on practicality, Christian action, and general neglect of denominational badges or pride is what makes it one of my favourite 'wrong denominations' (like Hinduism is my fav. 'wrong religion' - I jest, it isn't meant mean-spiritedly).

The only Protestant Seminary I know of (I use the term Protestant loosely as many CoC deny their allegiance to any Reformer) is a CoC Seminary in Lancaster which I am looking at. My parents would never support me going to a Papist training camp/Catholic university so I have to find a school which would accept a Babylonian Whore worshipper like myself, and the selling point of this university was the last sentence "we also have students who are Roman Catholics and Jews". ... Wow if they accept the Jews, they mean ecumenical business.

But as I anxiously read up on the Churches of Christ and Campbell, even indulging myself for a minute that I might yet live me dream to preach in their denomination and yet remain faithful to Catholicism, I then found this book. "A Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion" between Alexander Campbell and the Bishop of Cincinatti. It was your typical polemic, and filled with all the hate of a normal denomination. Again I've entered the world of denominationalism...
But I found this quote funny from the debate, I've used this point with Protestants alot:

"I am prepared to show that the idea of a supreme head (Universal Bishop/Pope) has its origin in the bible, and is supported by the earliest ecclesiastical authority. I must here take notice of the promise he (Campbell) gave to put his finger on the precise day and date when the church called the Roman Catholic church, ceased to be the church of Christ. He has left us as much in the dark as ever on this most important of all events. It is a point which has puzzled the world, and will for ever puzzle it, to fix that date. It will, I am sure, puzzle my friend. The whole world has never been able to state at what particular moment the Catholic church lost her prerogative and the favor of God—when she ceased to be in the true sense the Catholic Church. The reason of this is obvious. She has never forfeited her prerogative." - Bp. John B. Purcell (p. 21 of "A Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion")

and I just took an online test and I'm officially 100% Roman Catholic now, and the next closest is 72% Anglican...I hate being a polemicist, God give me modern theology and ecumenism and people who generally dislike all of 16th century theology....

New Pauline Perspective - the only hope for a unified Church

"The more we consider Paul's writing in this context the less we see the acute psychological dilemma characteristic of the Augustinian-Lutheran interpretation as a whole. Krister Stendahl masterfully explores this in his ground-breaking essay "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West." Paul was certainly aware of his own shortcomings, but, Stendahl asks, "does he ever intimate that he is aware of any sins of his own which would trouble his conscience? It is actually easier to find statements to the contrary. The tone in Acts 23:1, 'Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day' (cf. 24:16), prevails also throughout his letters."8 Far from being "simultaneously a sinner and a saint" (simul iustus et peccator), Paul testifies of his clear conscience: "Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity" (2 Cor. 1:12a). He was aware that he had not yet "arrived" (Phil. 3:12-14), that he still struggled with the flesh, yet he was confident of the value of his performance (1 Cor. 9:27). He looked forward to a day when "all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Cor. 5:10), and he anticipated a favorable verdict (v. 11). He acknowledged that his clear conscience did not necessarily ensure this verdict (1 Cor. 4:4), but he was confident nevertheless. These are hardly the convictions of someone who intends to rest entirely on the merits of an alien righteousness imputed to his or her account.

It may be countered that Paul considered himself the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9a; cp. Eph. 3:8) and in fact chief of sinners (cp. 1 Tim. 1:15). But this is not the paradigmatic expression of humility and contrition, as if every Christian should regard herself more sinful than the next. Paul's chief sin was that he had violently persecuted the church (1 Cor. 15:9b; cp. 1 Tim. 1:13-16). This confession is obviously concrete and historical -- not subjective, existential, and universally comparable to every person's experience. At any rate Paul had put all of that behind him and made up for his sordid past (1 Cor. 15:10); he did not languish in guilt. From what we know of his extant writings, he did not seem to experience the unrelenting introspection which became so characteristic of Western humankind after Augustine. Nor, many historians agree, could he have in his time and culture." -

Praise God that finally someone has found the proper 1st century understanding of St. Paul. The NPP understanding of Romans is probably the reason I could become a Roman Catholic at all. It shows that the Catholic understanding of Salvation is a biblical option and generally discredits the idea of alien imputed righteousness.

With these Protestants jumping ship on Sola Fide in it's traditional understanding, and the emerging church investigating real tradition (icons, patristics, etc), maybe the Reformation could finally end. Well, it will never end of completely of course... the Calvinists would never give up, God himself could tell them they're wrong and they'd probably call him a heretic and tell him to read the institutes again. But to the rest of Protestantism, go out and buy N.T. Wright, Sanders, and Dunn.

Actually I'm far too optimistic, nowadays being Protestant is about 'not worshipping Mary', using the word 'Eucharist', having 'bishops' or having to kneel at church, it's no longer the issue of 'immediate Justification by Faith ALONE imputed' as opposed to 'Justification by Faith and the work of the Holy Spirit infused'. But if Luther could've read N.T. Wright, maybe the church would be one again...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chesterton on Saints

"The saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need. . . . Therefore it is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most."

Gregory the Great on Job

I've started re-reading the book of Job and was looking for a patristic commentary on it and I found out that Pope St. Gregory the Great, who according to Calvin was 'the last good pope', wrote a commentary on Job. I couldn't find it on Newadvent or any other site, but I finally found it here:,_SS_Gregorius_I_Magnus,_Moralia_in_Job,_EN.doc and it's like 177 pages. Right now I'm about 500 pages behind on reading for school, but I'd like to try and read it alongside Job. It could be fun.
I like the introduction to it already, it's really honest about his life and reminds me a bit of St. Augustine's Confessions:
"I had long fended off the grace that would convert me, and how even after I was touched by the longing for heaven I chose to stay hidden beneath worldly garb. I had already been shown the love of eternity that should fill my desires, but the chains of long-bred habit kept me from altering my outer way of life. While my heart forced me to go on serving this world (at least to all appearances) many worldly pressures began to arise that threatened to bind me to this world not in appearance only but (what is more burdensome) in mind as well. Finally I fled all that in my anxiety and sought the cloister's harbor. I thought, in vain as it turned out, that I had finally abandoned the things of the world and come to shore naked from the shipwreck that is this life. But often a storm arises and the waves blast a carelessly moored ship away from even the safest port. Thus suddenly I found myself, under cover of Holy Orders, back on the sea of secular affairs."
It's this kind of description which reminds me of how the monastic movement started, out of a sincere devotion to God. Ultimately anyone familiar with late medieval history will realize the dream eventually turned into a nightmare and in many places monasteries were quite corrupt. In any case, this is quite a story I hope I eventually get to read.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Observations In The Church of Rome (Pt.5) - A Love-Hate Relationship

I was talking to Claire the other day and complaining about the Pro-Life movement, the Rosary, and the RCIA program and she said "Are you even Catholic!?" because I was criticizing the Church so much. It was a funny question because I find if I criticized the Roman Catholic Church from the outside, I criticize it more from the inside, but these are very different criticisms and are motivated in an entirely different way.

From outside the Church I criticized all the typical Protestant complaints about Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, etc. But little to none of that was based on evidence, and it was motivated by a direct hatred for the Church. My Grandmother told me that Catholic Churches actually had rooms where they tortured "Christians" (I only believed Protestants were Christians, and I didn't know the Orthodox Church existed.). Those were the kind of typical problems I had with it. I criticized it to show it's untruth's, illegitimacy, and charlatanism. Funnily enough, I went on a tour of our Cathedral yesterday and I didn't see the Torture room, but I bet it's just hidden.

If someone asked me if I was a Reformer, I would probably say yes. I am all for Reforming the Church, if that is understood to be, challenging it in new ways, trying to bring a spirit of renewal, and urging it to act as it should. But I am not a Rebel. My understanding is that the Church is not something you and 2 friends can start in your basement. And even though the 3 people in the basement might be starting it for completely Christian ideals and goals, I still couldn't call it a Church in the proper theological sense (but that's a whole other issue)

So from within the Church I criticize it because I love it. I believe in the Innerancy of the Magesterium's official Church teaching, but I also believe that this teaching is not making it to the Laity, the People of God, the rest of the Church. It exists in the Catechism, it exists in the speeches of the Popes and nearly everything they do. But it doesn't exist in the minds of most ordinary Catholics. And for this reason, I criticize day and night the Catholic Church. Not because of what it teaches, but who it teaches. It rarely makes it to the front lines as it were.

Just look at this quote from JP II
"God passionately desires and ardently yearns for our salvation... Nothing is greater than this: that the blood of God was poured out for us."- Pope John Paul II.

That's the gospel my friends, nothing could be clearer. And that's what the Church teaches officially. But like I said, when you get down to the local church you'll find the misinformation, the heresy (almost always Pelagianism or Judaism, ie. telling the story of salvation without mentioning Christ), and the apathy which is rampant (in my diocese at least).

I heard my dad explain once about the way that a parent gets angry at their children not because they hate them, but because they see them doing stupid things and not living up to their full potential. It is in this way that I get angry with my Church.

But as the hero of Western Christian theology said, "If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love."- St. Augustine. That's what I try to do.

Finally as a Reformer within the Church I find myself in good company, and I love this quote:

"The more administrative machinery we construct, be it the most modern, the less place there is for the Spirit, the less place there is for the Lord, and the less freedom there is. It is my opinion that we ought to begin an unsparing examination of conscience on this point at all levels in the Church." - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

If the Pope is for Reform, count me in.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Christianity fueled by Hate

I've been so tired of theology this weekend, I was made to try to argue a Reformed Christian into the Catholic fold and I discussed doubts about scripture with another friend (which I actually enjoyed) and then argued with Dad again this morning about the P of tulip... I found this website tonight and wanted to kill these people or myself.

They are completely fueled by hatred. Now I'm a Catholic (don't read too much theology, or you'll end up in my shoes) but I love many Protestant preachers. I love Billy Graham, J. Vernon McGee, Tony Evans, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Colson, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, and Chuck Swindoll. All of those Christians are listed on this websites - False Teachers who if followed will lead to Hell.

This is the site:

I expected the "If you're Catholic you're going to Hell" I've read thousands of those websites -they're called Reformed blogs, but I had to burst out laughing when I clicked on a link about Calvinism vs. Arminianism and it said following both would lead you to Hell. LOL . Man people are idiotic.

This morning I was listening to Dr. James Boyce on "the bible study hour" because they were preaching on one of my favourite verses Romans 11:36. But then it was hillarious because his proof for the doctrines of Total Depravity and Election were literally: The Reformers believed them and they were nicer than Catholics, so they're true... he must've got his doctorate from Moody or something. Anyway, I also burst out laughing when he made a statement along the lines of 'the God of Catholicism, Liberal Theology, and Arminianism is no God at all, it is a false idol'.

Man Calvinists are jackasses (barring Jared) like who has the gaul to condemn such a huge group of people.... I found it funny because on the website Billy Graham was quoted saying that he loved Mormons who had faith in Christ, and that Pope JP2 was one of his good friends, etc, and I thought, way to go Billy, God is bigger than any denomination.

I think the rest of us Christians (non - fundamentalists, Arminians, Catholics, Orthodox, etc) should all try to scare the other Christians and dress up as "Free Will" for halloween and knock on R.C. Sproul's door, and then dress up as Today's newspaper and knock on the Fundamentalists door.