Tuesday, July 28, 2009

3 Great Catholic Blog Posts

If you want to read 3 good posts, read these:

1. Explicit New Testament example of St. Paul praying for the dead:


2. St. Paul teaching the Eucharistic Sacrifice/Sacrifice of the Mass:


3. The relationship between Lutheranism and St. Augustine


I like the one quote from Melancthon:

"Augustine is not in agreement with the doctrine of Paul, though he comes nearer to it than do the Schoolmen. I quote Augustine as in entire agreement, although he does not sufficiently explain the righteousness of faith; this I do because of public opinion concerning him."

so much for the claims of being an "Augustinian" tradition...

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Joys of Catholicism (3) - Spirituality

My old Baptist Pastor (John) who has always been a spiritual guide to me ever since I was a child under his teaching gave me 4 books yesterday. He has continued to accept me and encourage me in the Christian faith even though I've gone to Rome. The books he gave me were his favourites of the late Fr. Henri Nouwen (Dutch Catholic priest, Harvard Lecturer, L'Arche Community Pastor, Ontario-dweller, author of the famous "The Return of the Prodigal Son" http://www.amazon.com/Return-Prodigal-Son-Story-Homecoming/dp/0385473079/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248798612&sr=1-1)

Anyway, I've been reading his insights as well as bits and pieces of Thomas Merton, Thomas a Kempis, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux and really enjoyed their deep spirituality. Like the charismatic movement, I think christian spirituality is an area where Protestants and Catholics can come together in mutual respect and appreciation alot.

I grew up hearing Nouwen quoted from the pulpit and at bible school, only to find out he was a Roman! But I'm enjoying a book about his spiritual journey at a Trappist monastery. I also was reading his thoughts on celibacy which were very interesting (he was gay apparently, but lived chaste and celibate his whole life, and the Catholic Church denies the view that people have homosexual orientations, only that they commit the acts, so he is still clean in our books).

Monastic spirituality is something I greatly enjoy. I can't say I feel much empathy with R.C. Sproul when he attacks it in his book on the Holiness of God or when the Reformers mocked it (Zwingli broke chastity how many times?!). I have alot of the Mennonite Brethren mindset and framework that sees Christian brotherhood in the purified monastic sense that the early Anabaptists had. I still remember hearing this quote from a lecture on "The Transforming Friendship of Jesus" at Capernwray:

"If there's anything that Roman Catholics can teach Protestants, it is how to do devotions. They're experts at it. For more than a thousand years, Roman Catholics have had monks who wanted nothing more than to experience Christ" - Tony Campolo "Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God" p.65

That's probably one of my greatest joys in Catholicism. For example, I was at mass one day and I was about 20 minutes early. I sat there looking at the stained-glass windows and in my peripheral vision I caught a middle-aged man kneeling with his eyes clenched shut and his hands clasped tightly, his lips were moving silently and he was sweating in prayer. He sat there for at least 15 minutes on his knees praying. I get crabby in the 2 minutes of the Mass we have to kneel for...

As I read things about Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier, and St. Maximilian Kolbe it gives me the same joy, and passion, to follow Jesus, to take up my cross along with these 'common saints', heroes of the people. These are the Roman Catholics that get quoted in Evangelical books. They are the ones who show ecumenism by love and exemplify that favoured quote of mine "where there cannot be a unity of faith, there can be a unity of love" - Hans Urs Von Balthusar.

Below I've just put some quotes I've found that are reminiscent of the deep spirituality I've found in the Roman Catholic Tradition.


“Our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need. If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form.”

“Still, when we remain faithful to our discipline (praying), even if it is only ten minutes a day, we gradually come to see–by the candlelight of our prayers–that there is a space within us where God dwells and where we are invited to dwell with God. Once we come to know that inner, holy place, a place more beautiful and precious than any place we can travel to, we want to be there and be spiritually fed.”

Father Henri Nouwen


"Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends."

"Ask those who love Him with a sincere love, and they will tell you that they find no greater or prompter relief amid the troubles of their life than in loving conversation with their Divine Friend."

"God is displeased at the diffidence of souls who love Him sincerely and whom He Himself loves."

"Your God is ever beside you - indeed, He is even within you."

"True, He is infinite Majesty, but He is also infinite Goodness and infinite Love. There can be no greater Lord than God; neither can there be a more ardent lover than He."

-St. Alphonsus Liguori


"When we have spiritual reading at meals, when we have the rosary at night, when we have study groups, forums, when we go out to distribute literature at meetings, or sell it on the street corners, Christ is there with us."

"Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily."

Dorothy Day

The Joys of Catholicism (2) - Marian Devotion

I'm very hesitant to post this, because it's so full of Popery. It's the most Romish I think I've dared to go here, and so I'm warning everyone.

I started this post with the warning because I feel like if I talk about the personal spiritual joys I've experienced as a Catholic, Protestants will dismiss it as meaningless emotion. I know they'll do it, because that's what I would do if I were them. So please don't dismiss it outright. I announce my joys in Catholicism only after and sometimes in the midst of my difficulties with it.

Mary Mother of Christians?
When I "signed on" to Catholicism, one of the remaining "cons" was the Blessed Virgin. I think Baptists are instilled with a special hatred for Our Lady - or at least I was, because the only thing I remember being taught about her in church was that she was a sinner and that she didn't follow Jesus, just like the Roman Catholics who worshipped her. I was given 3 rosaries after my confirmation and despite my remaining struggles with the Virgin Mother, I am starting to lighten up about it. I was reading in Pelikan today about how Christology is linked to Mariology and how Christ who had won superabundant grace on the cross, chose to mediate it through his Mother. This made me almost physically sick. I wanted to scream and burn the book (Yes the Baptist force is still strong with me). I could not imagine how such doctrines of Mary could ever point people to Jesus, to the God who claims his own name as "Jealous". None of it made sense, but again I was reminded, this is the original doctrine which people criticized. This is the liturgical tradition of the church and the sum of her prayers, IT is to be accepted, and the burden of proof rests on those against St. Mary theotokos.

(Mis)Translating with St. Jerome!
I've been finding titles for Mary that I feel comfortable with, St. Mary Theotokos, Our Lady, Mother of the Church, Mother of God, and a new favourite I picked up in Pelikan today he is describing titles for her that had to do with "tricks of language".

"One was the identification of the Virgin as "Mary, star of the sea [Maria maris stella]," a name that was said to have been given her from on high. The name was thought to have been prophesied in the oracle "a star shall come forth out of Jacob" (Num 24:17)...its origins seem to lie in Jerome's etymology for the name "Mary" as "a drop of water from the sea [stilla maris]," which he preferred to other explanations. This etymology was taken over by Isidore of Seville, but in the process "drop [stilla]" had become "star [stella]."" - Jaroslav Pelikan "The Christian Tradition" Vol. 3, p. 162 (Mary as Mediatrix). - yes, another Marian title based on a mistranslation, there are many.

Anyway, I was about to go to bed and then decided I would pray first. So I took a rosary and lay on my back on the balcony of our house, looking at the stars and prayed it. The bright stars mixed with "Star of the Sea" made it an interesting time of prayer. It was very good.

I really thought about "gratia plena" (full of grace - my use of the Ave Maria in latin, might be a subconscious method of pretending I'm not praying to Mary). Anyway the 'gratia plena' reminded me of a verse I liked from bible study the other day: "From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." Jn 1:16. I think this verse is one of my new favourites, not only is it a great prooftext for a scholastic/thomistic/catholic understanding of grace (lol), it's also beautiful, about grace, and about Jesus.

My Big Fat Greek Marian Dogmas
As I find out that the Greek Catholics/Orthodox also 'worship' Mary, it helps put me at ease to know that even without the Vulgate include Mariology in the "catholic faith" (including her title as mediatrix).

And so St. Mary, Star/Drop of the Sea, is becoming daily less of an issue, I feel no trouble of conscience in praying the Rosary (just occasional boredom). I also find that much of my "hatred" for Mary comes from the Misogeny I naturally have. I've said before that if there were a rosary to St. Thomas More, I'd have no problem at all, part of it seems to be what I was taught about Mary in sunday school, and part of it is the fact that I've never before had a woman held up as a good Christian. Another problem seems to be my latent racism which makes me cringe at the thought of attributing beauty to a wrinkled old Jewish woman from the 1st century. Give me classical greek sculptures or blonde-haired, blue-eyed Western European statues, but not the real thing. May God change my sinful heart.

St. Alphonsus Liguori I've been told is good to read on Mariology, but his "glories of Mary" still sounds a bit scary to my newly Roman ears. I need to ease into this.

7 Issues - Vulgate, Saints, Development, Works, Communion, Unity, Tradition

I've just picked 6 random things to discuss concerning the Christian Tradition that I've thought about recently. I could write for pages and pages about them, but I'll try to sum up the thoughts as briefly as possible.

Bible translations are in general deceptive. The Vulgate and the NIV are the 2 archetypal mistranslations I can think of that SEEM (note this word) to be translated solely for the purpose of deceiving people about the bible. It horrifies me to know how much Mariology was based on the Vulgate's rendering of Genesis 3:15 which makes it appear that Mary not Jesus would crush Satan. The issue is of course, how much Latin Mariology has to do with this passage, as the Greek's seem to have given Mary similar titles like "mediatrix". This brings me to my next point.

Mary and Mediation
While the Greeks also teach ALOT more about Mariology than Protestants would like to admit, they've still not reached Rome. It seems like from the 10th to 12th century (this is all according to Pelikan's book I haven't read alot here) there is this native Mariology that is intrinsically tied to Christology. As a former Protestant it boggles my mind as there is always a dichotemy between Mary and Christ, and just when I see these proto-protestant descriptions by St. Bernard of Christ's righteousness as being our righteousness, and justification being his remission of our sins alone, there it is! an entire book with the title abbreviated as (De Laud. Virg.) Now my one year of Latin reminds me that the verb Laudo Laudere Laudatum Laudatavi or something like that means to worship. So obviously this isn't a secret protestantism if he's worshipping Mary by his own word choice. But I just find it annoying how Catholicism while it allows you to seek mediation solely through Christ, it always encourages you to seek saintly mediation. It always tries to shove as many people in line as possible. Now this doesn't mean they're wrong or whatever, and Catholic apologists have answers to each of these issues, but at the same time, I have to add an amen to N.T Wright who says:

"(after saying that saintly intercession is not in the New Testament or in "the earliest Fathers" he writes) ... we should be very suspicious of the medieval idea that the saints can function as friends at court so that while we might be shy of approaching the King ourselves, we know someone who is, as it were, one of us, to whom we can talk freely and who will maybe put in a good word for us. The practice seems to me to call into question, and even actually to deny by implication, the immediacy of access to God through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, which is promised again and again in the New Testament...you have a royal welcome awaiting you in the throne room...why would you bother hanging around the outer lobby trying to persuade someone there, however distinguished, to go in and ask for you? To question this, even by implication, is to challenge one of the central blessings and privileges of the gospel." - Bp. N.T. Wright "Surprised By Hope" p. 172 (Purgatory, Paradise, Hell)

I read the exact same critique of C.S. Lewis in his book "Letters to Malcolm" -who even though he believes in Purgatory - denies any purpose to praying to saints. Even Maccabbees only has praying for the dead, not asking saints to pray for us.

Development of Doctrine

Are the Eastern Theologians correct in attacking the development of doctrine. The Protestant argument only makes sense - as the Catholic argument only makes sense, if we hold to the development of doctrine. The Easterners kind of deny it or at least set a point which it cannot move past. I'm not decided on this issue yet, but it's an interesting point. Penal Substitution / Substitutionary Atonement models of Calvin and other Reformed theologians I see as a development of Anselmic Satisfaction doctrines, and the penitential system of Catholicism is a development from the general principle of repentance and temporal punishment for sin. The Orthodox seem to have ended doctrinal development with 1054, and this may be a result of their fracture and disunity, but it might be an interesting opposing theory to the idea that doctrine develops.

It was Anglican Divine Richard Hooker who finally showed me how there is no such thing as a doctrine of salvation by faith and works. If you attach works as necessary for salvation, you are teaching salvation by works. This seems to go against Romans 4:5... But I still think James 2 teaches it. St. Augustine teaches it. All the Fathers teach it. So really the Protestants may be right that we all (Orthodox and Catholics) teach salvation by works, but the question then becomes, does the bible? This of course leads to other issues and questions about the defectibility of the Church, tradition, etc. But it's still a valid issue I have to think more about, and whether there is a Pauline vs. Augustinian (and even Patristic) issue here.

Communion in both kinds

I hate that the Latins don't do communion in both kinds. It's pretty stupid, and I didn't realize they did it when I started, because when I was confirmed I was allowed to partake of the cup and I assumed I'd always have that privilege. The Orthodox are clearly more faithful to the command "take this all of you and drink from it"


But in spite of all else, I am constantly reminded of the Patristic and early medieval doctrine of Church Unity. St. Augustine says that there is never, any, just reason for schism. Never.... so was he wrong? (as well as Eph. 4 one bread, one faith, one body, one Lord, etc) The invisible Church thing is just B.S. to me right now, he started a visible Church.

I think Tradition is important to the point of being beyond important, I think whatever your doctrines of Soteriology and Sacraments, they cannot alienate the majority of the Church throughout the ages. As long as the canon issue is unresolved, the authority of Tradition remains.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Catholic Assurance

Obviously Catholicism doesn't teach certainty of salvation officially, so no comments about how much better Reformed theology makes people feel are necessary (universalism is even more comforting). But I figured I'd put up 2 quotes from St. Alphonsus Liguori (probably the most hated doctor of the Catholic Church by Protestants, because of his book "the Glories of Mary") on assurance. In any case, here are 2 thoughts on assurance from this great Roman thinker:

"[On 2 Peter 3:9, "He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."]...From all this can you now have any doubt that God wishes to save you? From this moment onward never dare to utter again: "I wonder does God wish to save me. Maybe He wishes to see me damned on account of the sins I have committed against Him." Get rid of all such thoughts, once and for all, since you must now realize that God is helping you with His graces and calling you insistently to love Him."

"The Lord is full of goodness to those who seek Him. No one has ever trusted in the Lord and been rejected."

To read more, check out : http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3280

St. Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Questions I Still Have

I'm trying very hard to be Roman Catholic without being triumphalistic, which is usually the key feature of converts, John Donne was so right when he wrote "the heresies men leave are the one's they hate most" - obviously Donne wasn't referring to Protestantism (a Catholic convert to Anglicanism himself), but the point is, I don't want to seem over-zealous, but still remain firm in my faith.

So I figured, I'd post a bunch of questions I still have of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism (Hopefully many of which will be answered as I read more Church History).

1. How on earth do you justify "satisfaction" as a part of penance? (I'm reading St. Anselm's "Cur Deus Homo" on this)

2. Why on earth does the Roman Church still use the Vulgate and claim it is accurate, and translate to English based on it (Douay-Rheims, Ronald Knox) when manifest errors remain in it that they know about like "do penance", and a mistranslation of Genesis 3:15 which claims Mary instead of Christ will crush Satan's head? (I'm guessing an argument about the indefectibility of the Church will be used to go against the facts in support of the Vulgate)

3. What is the importance of the "filioque" and what did the Fathers say about the procession of the Holy Ghost? (probably divided)

4. If it's the Holy Spirit that transforms the elements at consecration in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition (as the Reformed keep arguing it is) then why do they believe a valid priest is necessary?

5. How do the Reformed justify their ecclesiology from Tradition?

6. How do Anglicans justify their Church's authority outside of England?

7. What do the Lutherans believe the "point" of their confessions and absolutions are?

8. What did the Fathers teach about Mary? specifically, the orthodox Fathers.

9. Aren't C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright correct that while the invocation of the saints is not anti-biblical it's emphasis can practically deny the New Testament doctrine of Christ's intercesion for us and our direct access to God?

10. How does Catholicism understand predestination? What is Molinism?

11. Why do the Orthodox believe God stopped defining things in 1054?

12. Why do the Reformed love the Eastern Orthodox, when the Eastern Orthodox clearly deny salvation by faith alone and the validity of Reformed Churches?

13. How did the reunion of Eastern-Rite Catholic Churches occur?

14. Is Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism more Augustinian?

15. Why should we care so much about Augustine? Didn't all the other fathers (expecially the Greeks) deny Original Sin?

More Ecclesiology From Your Favourite Ignorant Papist

I openly admit I am no expert on ecclesiology, but as a layman, I read Pelikan, Cardinal Newman, and J.N.D. Kelly as well as Traditional Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox Christians. From such reading I've seen that the Church must be a visible hierarchical Episcopate with valid apostolic succession. No doctrine, no issue, can violate this. It seems that it is an inviolable tradition of the Church and only leaves the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church as the two possible options for those who would adhere to traditional ecclesiology (I exclude the European Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Communion from the list, who ordain women and thus destroy their succession).

I've chosen the Roman Catholic Church for many reasons, and the local Eastern Orthodox Churches have saved me the trouble of investigation by declining membership to those not fluent in a Slavic language (I don't remember that in the bible or the fathers).

If of course you accept Scripture Alone as authoritative, this is a different matter. But for anyone who accepts the binding authority of apostolic tradition on the conscience of a Christian, the idea that the Church can exist visibly outside the historic episcopate in a normative sense is wrong.

As a member of the Roman Church, I enjoyed this:

"not only did the church decide which books belonged in the catholic canon of Scripture; it was also the attestation of "the holy see of Rome" that provided credentials for the church fathers..." - Jaroslav Pelikan "The Christian Tradition" Vol. 3, pg. 48

"So fundamental was the unity of the catholic church to Christian faith and life that apart from its fellowship all faith was vain and all good works devoid of reward; only within "the unity of the catholic church and the concord of the Christian religion" could either faith or works have any value. Those who set themselves against this unity not only in questions of dogma but also in matters of church discipline and practice, were without excuse, even if they claimed to adhere to the authority of the Old and New Testament and to that of the trinitarian dogma of the church" - Jaroslav Pelikan "The Christian Tradition" Vol.3 Pg. 45 "The City of God"

Oh what a friend we have in Pelikan

So I finally got my volumes 3 and 4 of "The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine" and have been flying through volume 3. In less than a day I'm on page 130 of 307 and I am enjoying it alot, but it scares me because it's so challenging, I'm realizing that my "education" in medieval and late medieval history that I received at university was almost nothing more than Modern Humanist Propoganda. I also learned that Roman Catholic attitudes that Protestantism is COMPLETELY innovative are also incorrect.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
In complete honesty Pelikan I find is very fair, but does clearly read like an Orthodox Christian who was educated by Lutherans. My bold assertion there is based on a few facts. He likes to point out the Western acceptance of the filioque as kind of a universal 'accident' and talks about how the West (Anselm particularly) F-ed up Christology pertaining to the 2 wills of Christ. He also talks about the "seeds" of the Lutheran Law-Gospel distinction in the 10th century preaching of "consolation and warning" and the "two-fold fashion" and sacramental nature of preaching. So yes he seems very fair, but it's just interesting to note those hints of the traditions he's most familiar with. (I think he's awesome I'm not trying to call him biased).

There's Something about Augustine:
His story-like telling of the history of Western Dogma is very kindred of my favourite historians who at the price of possibly over-simplifying, commit the sin of "making History interesting" by telling it as a narrative (Gibbon's account of the Roman Empire was the same). But the narrative seems to be all about St. Augustine of Hippo. Augustine is always the source and summit (to borrow the phrase on the Eucharist from the Catholic Catechism) of theology. Everyone is always fighting about Augustine and the story which ends up as a tragedy with the Reformation seems to be all because of Augustine. Pelikan's Lutheranism also is evident in his constant affirmations that the catholic faith was always "prima scriptura" scripture as the highest authority followed by the fathers (mostly Augustine) and then reason.

So it seems VERY interesting to me to know more about Pelikan's conversion as he had spent so much time studying the West and how to become East Orthodox you ultimately have to say that this whole Augustinian school of thought that becomes the centre of every debate was just wrong from the start. Original Sin is untrue, Predestination is only a mystery, etc. I really need to buy his volume on the East.

What's it to Me?
The interesting thing is seeing his sort of commentary on authentic developments and inauthentic developments of tradition. For example he seems to be completely Orthodox in his assessment in this book. He notes wherever the supremacy of Peter or the Papacy is called into question but unlike a Lutheran, he always asserts that it was the bishops who held this equal authority with Peter having Primacy but not Supremacy (a very Orthodox assertion). He also always notes that the belief in Justification by faith alone was an innovation and not to be found in medieval teaching (a very non-Lutheran assertion). But he also talks about penance and the penitential system with great disdain (a very Orthodox and Lutheran assertion), and talks about the constant belief in the objective efficacy of the sacraments (an everyone but Reformed and Anabaptist assertion).

So maybe he's just recording history. I'm just too stuck in polemics. It's great to have a challenge though. During this whole conversion process things would've been much better if people told me to read more Church History and used more Church History to sway me. Oh well, nothing is set in stone, it's good to have this 'dead theologian' Pelikan to 'dialogue' with through his writings, perhaps if I ever gain Slavic citizenship the Orthodox might eventually consider me worthy of attending their eucharistic celebrations and I could see what he was 'on about'.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I need to change

I was going to start with the Chesterton story I've told a thousand times, but then I realized everyone has heard it. The short version is that Chesterton answered the question of "What is wrong with the world?" by saying "I am".

There are so many areas which I know almost nothing about in theology, I need to figure out alot, but I firmly believe the Catholic Church is Christ's Church, and that when I learn, my learning must be shaped by her teaching.

I have a quasi-Anglo-Catholic view of Ecclesiology, and an ever-shifting confused theory of justification that resembles all the nicest parts of Trent, Peter Kreeft, Richard John Neuhaus, and Louis Bouyer. I also have a heart-wrenching desire for ecumenism and for everyone I know to just tell me that I am indeed a Christian. This is a foolish, dangerous and unreachable quest.

I am reminded by this blog http://pontifications.wordpress.com/ecclesiological-relativism/
of how much I need to just accept that I have chosen Rome, I've made my decision, and most people aren't going to like it, understand it, or agree with it.

But such is life, I have sided with Newman, I have swum the Tiber, and I must now continue my catechesis...

Peter Kreeft said that the Catholic faith is either the greatest story ever told, or the most terrible lie ever developed. I think I was looking for a middle road (no wonder Anglicanism always appealed to me).

At the end of the day when asked that terrible question : When Did The Catholic Church Stop Being The One True Church? I can't answer with the Orthodox: 1054, I can't answer with the Protestants: 1563, and I have already publically joined the Communion with Rome, I am glad I did it, I still affirm it as the best choice, but it still hurts because of all the loved ones and friends I have outside it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Joys of Catholicism (1)- The Unity Of The See Of Peter

Today I was reading Pope Benedict XVI's theology in a book I bought which holds a collection of his writing. He's a theological genius in my opinion, the smartest man I've ever read, and the most biblical Roman Catholic theologian I've ever read. He is totally a man of resourcement theology (a return to biblical and patristic sources for theology - rather than Neo-Scholasticism). Today as I sat in the Cathedral at Mass I realized, I'm in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, Papa Benny 16. We're one body, it's as if we were sharing in communion together, along with all the Roman saints in Heaven, St. Thomas More, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc. I have had temptations to Anglo-Catholicism recently again (luckily Anglicanism has continued to kill itself, if there are any anglo-Catholics left), but as I thought about it, I enjoy the unity and doctrinal clarity of "romanism".

My self-hating Evangelical friends talk about East Orthodoxy as if it were the Celestial City, personally I'd become Missouri-Synod Lutheran before crossing the Bosphorus. Aside from the racism of Orthodoxy, there's the whole mess of jurisdiction, and the controversy of the Antiochan Orthodox Church in America right now: http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090713/NEWS16/907130324

We had priests rape children, but no bishops who got drunk in casinos and grabbed womens...well just read about it. That was a bit of a red-herring and an unfair shot at the Greeks. We`re all sinful. Anyway, I was just reminded of how much I enjoy the unity that comes from the Monarchical Rule of the Papacy, for all the evil it can do when we have a bad pope, it makes times sweet when we have an awesome Pope like Benny (this is true of all Monarchy really).

God be with the Successor of Peter, the Servant of the Servants of God, Papa Benny 16. Augustinian, German, and Cat-lover. Who would`ve thought that a former Nazi and head of the Inquisition (Congregation of Faith) would make such a lovable grandpa figure Pope.

I have grown to hate Roman Triumphalism, and have tried to avoid it in this blog (though failed on MANY occasions), but I found this Chesterton quote expresses my affinity for my Roman Catholicism well:

So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility, I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity), for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead, and that it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated. - G. K. Chesterton

Good Catholic Quotes for the Day

"He who walking on the sea could calm the bitter waves, who gives life to the dying seeds of the earth; he who was able to loose the mortal chains of death, and after three days' darkness could bring again to the upper world the brother for his sister Martha: he, I believe, will make Damasus rise again from the dust."- St. Damasus (from an epitaph written for himself)

"To love God is something greater than to know Him." - St. Thomas Aquinas

"You cannot please both God and the world at the same time, They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions." - St. John Vianney

"Stop entertaining those vain fears. Remember it is not feeling which constitutes guilt but the consent to such feelings. Only the free will is capable of good or evil. But when the will sighs under the trial of the tempter and does not will what is presented to it, there is not only no fault but there is virtue." - Padre Pio

"The devil strains every nerve to secure the souls which belong to Christ. We should not grudge our toil in wresting them from Satan and giving them back to God."- St. Sebastian

"God gave Himself to you: give yourself to God." - Blessed Robert Southwell

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Controversial Newman Quote

"There are but two alternatives, the way to Rome, and the way to Atheism: Anglicanism is the halfway house on the one side and and Liberalism is the halfway house on the other" - Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman.

This I think is a little uncharitable, but I definately get where he's coming from. There's a simplistic metanarrative of Western European historiography that holds the Renaissance to be an individualizing period of "ad fontes" (back to the sources) movement followed by the Reformation which made religion individualistic and attacked hierarchy and absolute monarchy, and that this ushered in democracy and intellectual freedom and thus followed the Scientific Revolution and the Non-Christian "Enlightenment" which secured Atheism. This is way too simplistic, but it does make sense on a grand scale. The problem is that I think Confessional/Historic Protestantism is just as Dogmatic as Roman Catholicism, and likewise Anglicanism was Caesaro-Papism which consolidated Royal Power and increased anti-democratic pro-royalist ideas.

Still, an interesting quote of Newman (after he became Catholic) that you will see on many Catholic apologetics sites.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Lutheran Convert

Robert C Koons I'm told is a Lutheran Philosopher who converted to Roman Catholicism a few years back (2005) and here is his case for the Roman Church:


I like it alot because he's fairly honest and openly admits the weak points in Roman theology like Marian devotion, indulgences, etc. But he explains it all very well and makes a good case against sola fide, sola scriptura, and for Rome's ecclesiastical authority. Definately not mean-spirited or openly polemical, just an examination of the issues.

Short Quote By Newman- Interesting View On Justification

"...Christ in us is said to be the hope of glory. Christ then is our righteousness by dwelling in us by the Spirit: He justifies us by entering into us, He continues to justify us by remaining in us. This is really and truly our justification, not faith, not holiness, not (much less) a mere imputation; but through God’s mercy, the very presence of Christ." - Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman "Lectures on Justification"

These lectures on Justification by Newman have been criticized heavily by Alister McGrath, that it fails to understand both Trentine Catholicism and Lutheran Soteriology. It is imperative to note that at this time he was not trying to defend either position, but rather trying to find an Anglican "via media" between the two views. I believe this passage is almost identical to the teaching of Peter Lombard, a heretic the Church condemned for teaching that the Holy Spirit alone is necessary for salvation.

Still, heretical, heterodox, or orthodox, it still stands as a more unique view on justification.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Bible-Believing Christian"

I'm very grateful to have been raised Fundamentalist Baptist and Mennonite, it taught me to believe firmly in the innerant Word of God. But as I was reading 1 Corinthians tonight it amazed me how few Christian bodies actually believe in the relevance and truth of God's word for today.

I apologize to Continuing/Traditional Anglicans for my centering ot of your church in this post.

N.T. Wright says in his book "Surprised by Hope" that the bodily resurrection of Christ in the Church of England is "a take it, or leave it" doctrine. St. Paul on the contrary states:

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins...if for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" - 1 Corinthians 15:17,19

I'm always amazed at how many "Christian" scholars and clergy reject the dogma of the bodily resurrection. I guess it's just the spirit of the times.

But then I realized another doctrine right before St. Paul mentions the resurrection and things started to make sense:

Women's Ordination:
"...As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or did the word of God originate with you?..." - 1 Corinthians 14:33-36

I love that St. Paul/Holy Spirit adds the question "or did the word of God originate with you?" as if to further announce the point that they are to be subject to it. I'd always heard from my egalitarian evangelical professors that this was applicable only in the 1st century. But what magesterial interpretation led you to this? If Scripture's condemnation of women speaking in Church is only for the 1st century, why not limit the Resurrection as a belief only for "unscientific" ancients, like those who St. Paul was teaching.

This is why I've recently gone back to Creationism rather than Theistic Evolution, to me, Scripture is first and foremost above Reason in authority and I can't add such an anti-biblical view as the idea that death occurred before sin.

Finally, another Anglican issue (sorry guys, most protestants follow in your footsteps here)

Philip Yancey in his book "What's So Amazing About Grace" writes hopefully that the Christian condemnation of homosexuality will one day fade away much like - to use his own words - 'the clear teaching of Christ on divorce' has.

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." - Jesus (in Mark 10:11-12)

Now I will add that in another passage this is reiterated but with the exception being 'porneia' (greek) which most translations render as "adultery". I've had debates on this word when I was a sola scripturist because it can also be used to denote incest or prostitution. In any case, many churches today have left the traditional Christian teaching on divorce and openly allow and bless remarriages after divorces that weren't because of adultery.

3 issues to think about and review what your church/Tradition teaches on them. I hope and pray orthodox Christianity has been preserved better than it seems it has these days....

Why Apologetics Annoys Me

My Baptist friend once told me that I should stop simply repeating what Catholic apologetics websites say.

I have come to enjoy apologetics alot, it's kind of where I live most of the time. But there is something that really bugs me about apologetics. When proving your point is more imporant to you than finding the truth. For example, there are Roman Catholic apologists I could think of who would probably still prefer us not to have a vernacular bible just so that everyone would be Catholic. Or as Tolstoy would put it, arrest Jesus for going against Magisterial Teaching if he came back.

Protestant Proof Texting:
It's not just something Roman Catholics do either, many Protestants are similarly guilty. Still using prooftexts like Romans 3:28 "For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law." against Catholicism when we clearly agree that faith apart from the Mosaic law justifies a man. Or one of my favourites 1 Corinthians 4:6 "do not go beyond what is written" as a proof text for sola scriptura. This verse is so raped of it's context that instead of refuting it, I'll just put a link to an entire essay refuting such use: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1992/9208chap.asp .

Roman Catholic Patristic Deceptions:
Many Roman innovations like the Immaculate Conception are based on Patristic quotes taken completely out of context. I found one the other day which almost reached to the deception level of Melancthon's misquoting of St. Augustine's Letter and the Spirit in the Book of Concord. It was for the Immaculate Conception, and the proof-quote was Justin Martyr talking about Mary being the new Eve, etc. Well as I read J.N.D. Kelly I found out that Justin Martyr didn't believe in Original Sin (kind of obvious as this was pre-Augustine, but I missed it) and didn't believe it was that unbelievable that many holy characters were without sin. So while I may still be able to use my St. Irenaeus "new eve" quotes, I guess I'll have to throw out those Justin Martyr ones I read on a Catholic apologetics site.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, I'm still praying for it, and I hope one day we will reach the point where we can all be honest in our investigation. Jaroslav Pelikan describes his hopefulness for the future of Church History by discussing developments that have occurred on both sides of denominational lines. He writes that in recent years Protestants who study St. Cyprian have found that he is even firmer than once thought in support of Ecclesiastical and Papal Authority, whereas Catholic studies have apparently gone the opposite way.

Anyway, let this be a reminder to stick to the Truth of Christ first and Traditional obligations afterwards.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Episcopal Church Furthers Apostasy


Yesterday, The Episcopal Church (American Anglican Church) removed the moratorium on ordaining openly gay bishops. Apparently Kathryn Jefferts (the American Primate) also claimed that personal salvation through "the sinner's prayer" and faith in Jesus Christ was "the Western heresy". So they not only denied the words of scripture on homosexuality, but also the Reformation. Just as I was rethinking Canterbury, this happens (maybe it's a sign). Well, it appears that not even God can save the Anglican Communion now.

Rome welcomes you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Anglican Divine Kicks My Papal Ass

Anglicanism has always held a spot in my heart since the day almost 3 years ago I first did ministry in the Church of England (it was the first Church I went to in England and they had the audacity to name it after a saint! - I asked our driver if it was Catholic lol).

Anyway, tonight I read Richard Hooker's "Learned Discourse on Justification" and it blew my mind.


Maybe it was just your average Reformation thesis, but it was very significant to me. First of all, he's writing in the age of polemics in the 16th century, and even though he calls the "Church of Rome", "Babylon" and "Anti-Christ", he actually was quite ecumenical in arguing that many Roman Catholics could be saved and many could be saved without even hearing about the doctrine of justification by "faythe ownly" (faith only). He shows a perfect understanding of Trent (something I've not seen in another Reformer - though I haven't read many) and shows how they agree with them and that indeed they hold the foundation of all Christian faith, namely that salvation is through the blood of Jesus Christ alone. But he says they add things heretically. He even distinguishes from a more Lutheran reading of Rome as teaching what the Judaizers did (very perceptive), and says that while it is partially right, it is a false gospel and that this and the obligatory belief in transubstantiation are enough to merit separation from Rome.

I'm not saying I'm becoming Anglican (I'd like to hear Richard Hooker's thoughts on Today's Canterbury), but it certainly has given me alot to think about.

Here are some quotes I enjoyed:

"Our very virtues may be snares unto us. The enemy that waiteth for all occasions to work our ruin hath ever found it harder to overthrow a humble sinner than a proud saint. There is no man's case so dangerous as his, whom Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness shall present him pure and blameless in the sight of God."

"we acknowledge a dutiful necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of well doing we utterly renounce. We see how far we are from the perfect righteousness of the law. The little fruit which we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world for it, we dare not call God to a reckoning, as if we had him in our debt-books. Our continual suit to him is, and must be, to bear with our infirmities, to pardon our offences."

"the scope of Christian doctrine is the comfort of them whose hearts are overcharged with the burden of sin; and had proved that the doctrine professed in the Church of Rome doth bereave men of comfort, both in their lives and at their deaths; the conclusion in the end whereunto we came was this: "The Church of Rome being in faith so corrupted as she is, and refusing to be reformed as she doth, we are to sever ourselves from her. The example of our fathers may not retain us in communion and fellowship with that church, under hope that we, so continuing, might be saved as well as they. God, I doubt not, was merciful to save thousands of them, though they lived in popish superstitions, inasmuch as they sinned ignorantly; but the truth is now laid open before our eyes." The former part of this last sentence, namely, these words. "I doubt not but God was merciful to save thousands of our fathers living In poplsh superstitions inasmuch as they sinned ignorantly" -- this sentence I beseech you to mark, and to sift it with the strict severity of austere judgment, that if it be found as gold it may stand, suitable to the precious foundation whereupon it was then laid; for I protest that if it be hay or stubble mine own hand shall set fire to it. [Cf 1 Cor 3:11ff] Two questions have risen by occasion of the speech before alleged: the one, whether our fathers, infected with popish errors and superstitions, might be saved; the other, whether their ignorance be a reasonable inducement to make us think that they might. We are therefore to examine first what possibility, and then what probability, there is that God might be merciful unto so many of our fathers."

"heresy is heretically maintained by such as obstinately hold it after wholesome admonition. Of the last sort, as also of the next before, I make no doubt but that their condemnation, without actual repentance, is inevitable."

"What way is there for sinners to escape the judgment of God but only by appealing unto the seat of his saving mercy?"

"if any of them did die so persuaded, whether before or after they were told of their error, their case is dreadful, there is no way with them but one, death and condemnation"

"we are justified by faith alone, and yet hold truly that without good works we are not justified"

"(Describing a Roman Catholic dieing) when the hour of death approacheth, when they secretly hear themselves summoned forthwith to appear and stand at the bar of that Judge whose brightness causeth the eyes of angels themselves to dazzle, all those idle imaginations do then begin to hide their faces. To name merits then is to lay their souls upon the rack; the memory of their own deeds is loathsome unto them; they forsake all things wherein they have put any trust and confidence: no staff to lean upon, no ease, no rest, no comfort then, but only in Christ Jesus."

"I grant that we are apt, prone, and ready to forsake God; but is God as ready to forsake us? Our minds are changeable; is his so likewise? Whom God hath justified hath not Christ assured that it is his Father's will to give them a kingdom?"

"They acknowledged Christ to be their only and their perfect Saviour, but saw not how repugnant their believing the necessity of Mosaical ceremonies was to their faith in Jesus Christ"

"Then what is the fault of the Church of Rome? Not that she requireth works at their hands that will be saved, but that she attributeth unto works a power of satisfying God for sin, and a virtue to merit both grace here and in heaven glory. That this overthroweth the foundation of faith I grant willingly; that it is a direct denial thereof I utterly deny."

"Canst thou think thyself a bishop when thou hast denied all those things whereby thou didst obtain a bishoply calling?" [John Cassian, DE INCARNATIONE DOMINI CONTRA NESTORIUM, 6:17f]

"I will not be afraid to say unto a cardinal or to a pope in this plight, "Be of good comfort, we have to do with a merciful God, ready to make the best of that little which we hold well, and not with a captious sophister who gathereth the worst out of everything wherein we err.""

"I saw it convenient to utter that sentence which I did, to the end that all men might thereby understand how untruly we are said to condemn as many as have been before us otherwise persuaded than we ourselves are"

I see in his writing his firm conviction that the gospel is of Christ's merit and not our own, but also that Anglican spirit of forgiveness for others and his constant reaffirming that even if we hold on but by a thread with our faith to Christ, we are still in his mercy. Oh for me to only be born before Priestesses and Female Bishops, to be in the Church of John Donne, T.S. Eliot, and C.S. Lewis

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Pelikan Brief

I decided to order 2 theology books today. I asked myself:

What Christian History is universally praised by everyone?

Jaroslav Pelikan's history of the Christian Tradition.

Already having J.N.D. Kelly's early Christian Doctrines which teaches about the Patristic era, I bought book 3, "The Growth of Medieval Theology" (600-1300)

and because I wanted to better understand the European (rather than just the English) Reformation and Counter-Reformation, I ordered book 4, "Reformation of Church and Dogma" (1300-1700) which I dearly hope deals fairly with Roman Catholicism.

I've heard good things about Pelikan, but only from the Orthodox and from Reformed people, which makes me suspicious.... I'd like to know how he treats Roman Catholicism, and how Roman Catholics like his work. In any case, these books will teach me alot I'm certain, and whether he likes Romanists or not, he still is the best Church Historian who ever lived, so I should probably listen to him before judging.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Difficult Gospel: Issues with Catholicism -Today at the church...

I went to confession today and got in line behind my friend (who had just come back to the church). I waited in line for my turn. I stared at the icon of Christ blessing the saints on our hymnal. I waited... I prayed for forgiveness... I read the Nicene creed. Right as all my Protestant emotion built up and I was about to ridicule the institution of confession I got to "we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church"... *so do Lutherans, Presbyterians and the Orthodox* I thought cynically.

At 4 minutes to Mass, with someone still in confession I realized I wouldn't make it. I quietly told the man behind me that he could take my place, and that 4 minutes wasn't enough time, he smiled and asked me if I would go another time as a concerned Christian brother and I reassured him I would. As I walked out, disenchanted by yet another practical faillure of Roman Catholicism, I looked up at the crucifix. The way it was positioned on the wall made it look like some Cleric had nailed him there. As if Jesus was trying to walk into the church to talk with someone and they nailed him to the wall. In all my doubts I found comfort in the thought that at least he was still there on the wall, looking down at people.

I once read that Tolkien used to stare at the crucifix and see it as a whole philosophy of life. That for Christ to become man it meant that he had to suffer. To be with us, he would endure the cross, there could be no fellowship without pain.

I was reading a comment Jared posted on my blog a year ago about how embracing Protestantism was not rejecting Church History. While I am now a Roman Catholic (mostly for the reason of my disagreement with him there), I actually find I agree with him alot. They are a part of a Catholic and Orthodox tradition. If I had to label it, it would be Christocentrism. Everything must point to Christ. I could endure the Mass, the Latin, Mary, the Saints, the whole sacramental system, and the cumbersome theology of scholasticism all if at least they pointed to Christ. While I can find some Roman Christians like Peter Kreeft, Thomas Howard, and Henri Nouwen who see Christ in it all, I am finding alot of difficulty. It feels more like he's been nailed to the wall in his own Church. An infant trapped in the arms of the Virgin Mary, unable to speak for himself... Trapped in the confessional with a long line of people whom there is not enough time to absolve (I still see the Priest as Christ's representative).

The problem for me isn't that Catholicism has removed Christ from their official doctrine, but rather that they've put him behind bars. They've trapped him in the Eucharist - not that he isn't present there - but what a safe Jesus the Eucharist is, only to be distributed to those the Church deems worthy, only those who've met the 'standard' (mortal sin, 1 hour previous to mass of fasting, confession). It's not the dogma, it's the practice.

There's a great biting critique of Roman Christianity here http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/oct1960/v17-3-bookreview1.htm, and I'm planning on buying Jaroslav Pelikan's book "The Riddle of Roman Catholicism" to see his arguments against Trent etc. But I'm temporarily comforted by people like Kreeft and Howard, and Pope Benedict XVI, who seems to be a man genuinely in love with Jesus.

I am comforted -as I always have been- as well by Holy Scripture which has always taught me that "all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved" and so I am not too worried about confession. I wrote down a list of my sins to confess, so if I die, I'll have "proof" that I was contrite. I read a passage with my friend Lars the other week:

"you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." -Colossians 2:13-14


I got back from confession and folded up my paper and wrote "sins" on both sides of it, and placed it under my crucifix.


Still I submit myself to Pope Benedict XVI and the magesterium of the Roman Church, but I will ever detest and attack Christless Christianity wherever I see it, and will try with all my power to restore an emphasis on the grace of Christ, and his lordship. May God help me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rocky and the Bible

"He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter)." -John 1:42

This is the part in the gospels where Jesus nicknames Peter "Rocky" as I've always been told it would translate. Then I started realizing the hillarity behind this. I wonder if Our Lord would wake Peter up in the morning by singing 'Eye of the Tiger', or at least hum it really loud, and then burst out laughing while all the other apostles just looked at each other and got worried. Or if he would yell "Adrienne!" whenever Peter's wife came around. I think this issue should be a part of the ongoing Predestination-Foreknowledge debate, it's a lighter side.

But then I realized it was just the beginning, suddenly the Catholic-Protestant debate verses had a humorous side to them as well:

Speaking of divisions in the church at Corinth St. Paul writes:

"it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’" - 1 Corinthians 1:11-12

So this could be transliterated into english as "each of you says...'I belong to Apollos', or 'I belong to Rocky'"

Rocky and Apollo(s) - it's as if the Holy Spirit was pre-figuring those terrible boxing movies!

If Papal Supremacy is every restored, I think the Vatican should use this poster to celebrate the end of denominations:

...except they should probably remove the 3D part...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on Judgment Day

I was thinking about Roman Catholics I really love today and I looked up Fr. Richard and found this great quote. It summarizes exactly how I feel, I think I'm going to print it off and put it in my wallet. He was also born a Canadian, even better, an Ontarian :). Requiem in Terra Pax, Father Richard

“When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their company, their example, and their prayers throughout my earthly life I will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my won. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of “justification by faith alone,” although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth that much misunderstood formulation was intended to protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints, whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways - these and all other gifts received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will…look to Christ and Christ alone.” - Father Richard John Neuhaus "Death on a Friday"

Super Post, Must Read - Today's Catholicism - Variety in the Roman Kirk

"Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church" - The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 16, Verse 18

What's the Rock?
For Protestants it is St. Peter's confession - God bless them, as a former Protestant I have to say I believe they do more to advance the Catholic faith by teaching orthodox Christological and Trinitarian and Biblical theology than 9 out of 10 of the lapsed Catholics you meet throughout high school and wherever Italians and Francophones dwell.

Catholics believe St. Peter is the Rock (along with his successors, the bishops of Rome, or "popes"), but as a little bit of a tour of the Roman Church, I've replaced 'the Rock' with those things which some Catholics emphasize the most.

What's the Rock?: Abortion

I once told a Catholic "Christ died to start a Church, not a Pro-life Movement"

I've been reading the American Papist blog today and a number of the other "top" Catholic blogs and I find them dreadfully boring. They're just Abortion this, Abortion that, Abortion... yes, if I lived during the Holocaust I would be talking about how horrible it is, but the point is, the Gospel must still be preached, theology must still be taught, the Liturgy should still be refined, etc. As a student of Political Science, it is my firm conviction that abortion will never be illegal, and that probably something worse will come up eventually that Catholics will rave about all the more.

Needless to say, I am pro-life, I do think abortion is a moral evil, but I do think it is a subordinate issue. I have a friend who was a lapsed Catholic for over a year and he was HEAVILY involved in the pro-life movement, i'll never forget when I said to him "salvation is by grace" and he said "what's grace?" - that almost stopped my conversion immediately, but I'm simply saying all of this to emphasize how abortion has usurped the message of salvation which after all is the whole purpose of Christianity.

What's the Rock: Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Charles Spurgeon (still one of my heroes) once said in regards the Wesleyan movement that he didn't care about being filled with enthusiasm, and that the only emotion he wanted to feel deeply was repentance. I agree with him. But there are some things I like about the Charismatics, the fact that they actually believe the Bible is one refreshing thing. I empathize with Lutheran Theologian Paul Tillich who once said "I am excited for the day when we can all talk about God again without embarrassment". This article in first things by the Episcopal (famous Catholic sympathizer) writer Philip Jenkins is all about the Charismatic movement (specifically in the global south):


Their stories fill me with hope that once again supernaturalism will triumph over the arbitrary western tyrant of naturalism.

What's the Rock: All Things Idolatry

C.S. Lewis said that Catholicism goes wrong when it becomes the world-old folk religion of amulets and magic. In spite of Newman's wonderful sophistry about "dulia" and "hyper-dulia" and "latria" I've been unfortunate enough to have to read medieval british books on popular Piety and they always talk about how we should "worshippe the Saintes in a goodley waye" or some other myspelld idolatri. It's really annoying how they write. In any case, many Roman Christians in my estimation easily jump over the line from mere dulia (devotion) to latria (worship). Maybe it's just me, but my own brain has a worship and non-worship switch. Anyway, I still like the saints but I think the Anglican Communion has a healthier theology on them... it could be worse, we could be East Orthodox, there's worship for you (I don't know the Greek word for Latria otherwise I'd use it to sound smart).

I find that others are so ridiculous about protecting the Eucharist that it is just ridiculous. I understand respect and treating the Eucharist in a worthy way, and I believe transubstantiation, but seriously, we are talking about the same Jesus right? They stopped serving the Eucharist by intinction (dipping the bread into the wine and giving it to the communicant) because a drop of the blood might fall on the ground. ... does anyone in the Catholic Church remember that Christ's blood was poured out onto the ground for our sake. That he was despised, trampled, and spat on. I think he can take a carpet at St. Alexander's parish church.

And for the life of me, I'm tired of trying to explain my way out of awkward moments at mealtime when a Protestant friend or family member will ask me about upside-down buried statues of St. Joseph and real estate. (St. Thomas More, pray for the destruction of idolatry and false veneration!)

What's the Rock?: The Church

Dave Armstrong and many Protestant Converts boast about the awesomeness of the Church and use grandiose statements about how humungous and gigantic "our" (as if they did any of it) Ancient Communion is. They teach what the (self-proclaimed) Bishop James White describes as sola ecclesia, or 'the church alone' for salvation. I don't believe this is official church teaching - and neither would Protestants if they had to sit through the dreaded "subsistit in" debates which are now every discussion on Vatican II (the council says that true Christianity -or something to that effect - "Subsist in the Catholic Church", the debate is thus, 'are Protestants unknowingly in the Catholic Church, or is this Feeneyism - only the visible Catholic Church is the true elect church). Anyway, whether they changed Tridentine declarations or not (I think they kind of did) Vatican II now teaches something much closer to a catholic/orthodox view of Tradition, that Scripture is materially sufficient as the source of faith and morals and that Tradition is the interpretive lens.

The Church and Ecclesiology is important, but even Papa Benny says that the more offices and mechanisms the Church adds for itself the more the Spirit is quenched.

What's the Rock?: Social Gospel

This group is the inverse of the previous group, they seem to think that Jesus was a 1st century Che Gueverra who was killed for resisting "the man". The whole purpose of Church is to protect the poor and the innocent. To accept Homosexuals and outcasts. Like the Charismatics, I don't have as much of a problem with the Social Gospel people, they do a hell of alot more to live their faith than I do. But my issue is always with their watered-down theology, and dodgy leftist politics. This group reminds me of a female Catholic theology student I talked with the other day with whom I voiced my concern "I think the Church (Catholic) has contradicted itself" and she replied to the effect of "so what? you thought we were infallible?". Strangely when the Catholic Church advertised "Infallibility", I assumed it's adherents believed in it, but it's ok, I still do, but not with the fervor I used to, and now with the knowledge that many in the fold do not.

What's the Rock?: Christ

This final group are to me the group I associate myself with. I have found a small communion of Catholics (most of which are dead) with whom I associate myself. St. Thomas More, the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Peter Kreeft, Henry Nouwen, Thomas Howard, Richard John Neuhaus and to a lesser extent J.R.R. Tolkien & the Anglo-Catholics (C.S. Lewis, and others). These are the people who always centre Roman Catholic theology on the person, work, and teachings of Jesus. When they discuss the faith, they talk about the love of Christ, about the mercy of God, about true repentance and Christian living. They emphasize the Eucharist, the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints only to point to Christ. Peter Kreeft says that Protestants will only become Catholics if they see the Christo-centric nature of Catholicism (which for me was like finding Waldo, but it is there somewhere). I feel at home with the Anglican converts to Rome, because most of them seem to share this similar view, a view taught quite alot in Traditional Anglicanism (may she rest in peace), and I feel like a thoroughly English Catholic. My faith isn't centred on abortion, or 'christian' marxism, or speaking in tongues, it's about Jesus. It's not that those things are wrong, it's just that they are subordinate in importance. To Sum this camp up, I'll close with a quote I love by C.S. Lewis about this:

"This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objectives -- education, building, missions, holding services. The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christ's. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Strange Theory/Heresy of Justification From the Psalms

I realized as I read Lewis' reflections on the Psalms today that I could never stand before Holy God and be judged righteous. "Enter not into judgement with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." (Psalm 143:2).

My theology therefore in trying to dodge around Trent which merely says anathema to those who believe justification comes from the SOLE imputation of Christ's righteousness. So I tend to theorize and teach this version (probably heretical) of justification, probably the only justification theology based almost solely on the Psalms.

So we already have Psalm 143 saying that no living person will be deemed righteous by himself (or herself). Then in Psalm 32 "Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity". So now it is the idea that the sin of the individual is washed away in Baptism and by faith and repentance actual sin is imputed to Christ on the cross (somehow it time travels?). So then we have an individual who has no sin on their soul, they are forgiven (Ps 51:1). Then we have God judging a person only on their merits which he has given them by grace and worked through them (Phil 2:13).

I also tend to assume that the only mortal sin is that of not having faith. I think this places me somewhere between Catholicism and Arminianism.

All this is my personal theology - officially I've submitted to that of the Roman Catholic Church

But on judgment day I think the only words I will be able to get out are those of David:
"according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions." - Ps 51

I've just read a funny thing on the Catholic Encyclopedia under Justification it says:
"We have seen that Protestants claim the following three qualities for justification: certainty, equality, the impossibility of ever losing it. Diametrically opposed to these qualities are those defended by the Council of Trent (sess. VI, cap. 9-11): uncertainty (incertitudo), inequality (inaequalitas), amissibility (ammisibilitas)."

Why would anyone defend uncertainty, inequality, and amissibility. Like I know the whole 'they're true' or 'they're biblical' argument works, but just at a personal level, I want to know what kind of people think about the gospel and think of those concepts and thinks they're worthy of a fight to defend. Who loses sleep at night over the thought that some are content and certain in their trust of God's grace. It boggles my mind...

Augustine and Chrysostom on John 1:12

I'm doing a bible study on John's Gospel tonight and I was reading some of the Patristic commentaries and I found these two quotes on John 1:12 - a verse I had to memorize in bible school:

"But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God." - John 1:12

"all, He says, are deemed worthy the same privilege; for faith and the grace of the Spirit, removing the inequality caused by worldly things, has moulded all to one fashion, and stamped them with one impress, the King's. What can equal this lovingkindness? A king, who is framed of the same clay with us, does not deign to enrol among the royal host his fellow-servants, who share the same nature with himself, and in character often are better than he, if they chance to be slaves; but the Only-Begotten Son of God did not disdain to reckon among the company of His children both publicans, sorcerers, and slaves, nay, men of less repute and greater poverty than these, maimed in body, and suffering from ten thousand ills. Such is the power of faith in Him, such the excess of His grace. And as the element of fire, when it meets with ore from the mine, straightway of earth makes it gold, even so and much more Baptism makes those who are washed to be of gold instead of clay; the Spirit at that time falling like fire into our souls, burning up the image of the earthy (1 Corinthians 15:49), and producing the image of the heavenly, fresh coined, bright and glittering, as from the furnace-mould." - St. John Chrysostom Homily 10 on the Gospel of John

"But John adds: As many as received Him. What did He afford to them? Great benevolence! Great mercy! He was born the only Son of God, and was unwilling to remain alone. Many men, when they have not sons, in advanced age adopt a son, and thus obtain by an exercise of will what nature has denied to them: this men do. But if any one have an only son, he rejoices the more in him; because he alone will possess everything, and he will not have any one to divide with him the inheritance, so that he should be poorer. Not so God: that same only Son whom He had begotten, and by whom He created all things, He sent into this world that He might not be alone, but might have adopted brethren. For we were not born of God in the manner in which the Only-begotten was born of Him, but were adopted by His grace. For He, the Only-begotten, came to loose the sins in which we were entangled, and whose burden hindered our adoption: those whom He wished to make brethren to Himself, He Himself loosed, and made joint-heirs. ...He did not fear to have joint-heirs, because His heritage does not become narrow if many are possessors. Those very persons, He being possessor, become His inheritance, and He in turn becomes their inheritance. Hear in what manner they become His inheritance: "The Lord has said unto me, You are my Son, this day have I begotten You. Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance". Hear in what manner He becomes their inheritance. He says in the Psalms: "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup". Let us possess Him, and let Him possess us: let Him possess us as Lord; let us possess Him as salvation, let us possess Him as light. What then did He give to them who received Him? To them He gave power to become sons of God, even to them that believe in His name; that they may cling to the wood and cross the sea." - St. Augustine of Hippo Tractate 2, On the Gospel of John, 13.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

C.S. Lewis Being My Hero Again

In the last week I've read "C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church" by Joseph Pearce, "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis and read the majority of "Surprised by Joy" and "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.

The closest theologian I could place Lewis next to is Richard Hooker the Anglican Divine (and philosophically, G.K. Chesterton). Anyway, I just read this quote which reminded me of why I love C.S. Lewis so much. He was such an ecumenical bad-ass a true via media Anglican, a man after my own heart. He writes in the Screwtape Letters (in Devil's Advocate):

"The real fun [when attacking Christians] is working up hatred between those who say "mass" and those who say "holy communion" when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things - candles and clothes and what not- are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite remove from men's minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials" - C.S. Lewis "The Screwtape Letters" p 84

He then talks about "high" Anglicans genuflecting and crossing themselves and "low" church brothers being offended and how they should get over it. LOL, Luther called the Mass "a damnable impiety" and Lewis sees it as irrelevant. He was in the best sense of the word an Anglican. It's a shame they're led by a druid arian these days....

It's also funny that Lewis refers to the anonymous Christian's religious leader as "Fr." aka Father. And he makes reference to Maritain as being a true theologian they (demons) should be worried about. Jacques Maritain was a Catholic Neo-Thomistic Theologian. Oh Lewis, he's so flippant when it comes to the Reformation, he acts as if it were a glass of spilled milk or something.

Friday, July 3, 2009

T.G.I.F Quote - St. Bernard "On Loving God"

I was reading St. Bernard of Clairvaux's treatise "On Loving God" tonight and found these wonderful passage about the grace of God and the Lord's love for his faithful, if you have some spare time, check out the book here (http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/onloving/onloving.html)

"He gave Himself for us unworthy wretches? And being God, what better gift could He offer than Himself? Hence, if one seeks for God's claim upon our love here is the chiefest: Because He first loved us (I John 4:19)" - St. Bernard of Clairvaux "On Loving God". Chapter I, 5.

"So it behoves us, if we would have Christ for a frequent guest, to fill our hearts with faithful meditations on the mercy He showed in dying for us, and on His mighty power in rising again from the dead. ... surely there is proof enough and to spare in that Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification, and ascended into heaven that He might protect us from on high, and sent the Holy Spirit for our comfort. Hereafter He will come again for the consummation of our bliss. In His Death He displayed His mercy, in His Resurrection His power; both combine to manifest His glory." - St. Bernard of Clairvaux "On Loving God". Chapter III, 5.

"What could result from the contemplation of compassion so marvelous and so undeserved, favor so free and so well attested, kindness so unexpected, clemency so unconquerable, grace so amazing except that the soul should withdraw from all sinful affections, reject all that is inconsistent with God's love, and yield herself wholly to heavenly things? No wonder is it that the Bride, moved by the perfume of these unctions, runs swiftly, all on fire with love, yet reckons herself as loving all too little in return for the Bridegroom's love. And rightly, since it is no great matter that a little dust should be all consumed with love of that Majesty which loved her first and which revealed itself as wholly bent on saving her. For 'God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life' (John 3:16). This sets forth the Father's love. But 'He hath poured out His soul unto death,' was written of the Son (Isa. 53:12). And of the Holy Spirit it is said, 'The Comforter which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you' (John 14:26). It is plain, therefore, that God loves us, and loves us with all His heart; for the Holy Trinity altogether loves us, if we may venture so to speak of the infinite and incomprehensible Godhead who is essentially one." - St. Bernard of Clairvaux "On Loving God" Chapter IV, 5.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Difficult Gospel - Issues with Catholicism (2)

1. I just read the best argument I've ever read against Catholic apologetics : http://scholasticus.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/that-protestantism-is-not-inherently-vicious/#more-95 - I didn't say it was genius or even astonishing, but that among the cookie-cutter arguments against Catholicism, this is actually a reasonable, unique, and non-polemical argument.

His argument is that Protestantism trusts authority based on Expertise, whereas Catholicism trusts authority based on Office (Papacy).

It also shows that for one who believes the Magesterium to be an inerrant interpretor of Scripture, no argument using Scripture can levelled against such a person. Which is philosophically also true.

Historical Theology
2. The claim has been made - I haven't had time to investigate it thoroughly - that the Council of Trent affirms the "Two-Source Theory" of Revelation, that Revelation was partim et partim partly written and partly unwritten, and that Trent declared Tradition and Scripture to be the two sources for faith and morals. Whereas Vatican II taught to the contrary that Scripture - God's written word, was materially sufficient and that Tradition was merely a tool of interpretation. Ergo=> the Roman Church taught Sola Scriptura - a fact that would finally get my Reformed friends to recant Sola Scriptura , the Catholics taught it lol.

Personal Experience (part 1)
3. a) I felt peace while in the Roman Catholic Church for about a month after I joined. Quite possibly because whether officially damned or officially saved, at least there was some closure. I also stopped reading theology. I just started up again and have found the same old feelings and frustrations. The constant weight of my own soul upon my shoulders. The fact that at any moment I could fail to persevere and lose my salvation.

It's EXACTLY like when Jonathon Edwards is writing in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God about how men are on the very precipice of Hell, waiting to fall into it for eternity, completely helpless. Just imagine that Sermon without the gracious call at the end to repentence and salvation. And then imagine living that for your whole life.

The resistible intrinsic grace of Catholicism seems so weak to the dominating extrinsic grace of Protestantism. The problem being that both pale in comparison to the complete extrinsic grace of Universalism. If it's a game of which theology makes me personally feel nice, then the Quakers win every time.

Personal Experience (part 2)
3. b) The problem of course is that part of me wants my free-wheeling Lutheran Anti-Nomianism (which the Reformers didn't really teach, but I always malign them as teaching) which allows me to live a life of sin free of guilt and in the constant blessing of salvation. I want, in short, God to bless my hedonism. I would plunge into the depths of my sloth and gluttony, and burn only with lust. And I would baptize all that unholiness with the doctrine of imputed righteousness.

I would use the snow to preserve my dungheap.

This too is against the religion of the bible which states in 1 John that those who deliberately sin continually have neither seen him, nor know him.

4. Find The Gospel in Catholicism - The whole Roman system is based around the idea that humanity is always thinking it will be saved and constantly doubting the reality of Hell and the wrath of God. There remains for ones like myself who are terrified and (mostly) obedient children to be the ones constantly fearing judgment when we should least (maybe). I'm tired of the Law, I need some Gospel. If there really remains no Gospel in Catholicism then I'll have to rethink some things (become a deist after all or an anti-nomian lutheran). But I'm sure Pascal, A Kempis, De Sales, or others have hidden it somewhere. I'm sure in one of the vaults of the Vatican, the gratuitous grace and mercy of God has been hidden festering next to the doctrine of Predestination.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Newman : Sermon 2 - The Religion of the Pharisee

I was saying to an Evangelical Seminarian friend of mine that the prayer I pray every night has been either the Jesus Prayer (in English or Latin) or a modified version of it: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinful man'. This comes from the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in St. Luke's account chapter 18, verse 3.

I read a sermon by the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman about it today : http://www.newmanreader.org/works/occasions/sermon2.html

It was an alright sermon, if you don't like Newman I wouldn't bother reading it.

His main message was that Paganism was the Same Religion of all mankind and that of the Pharisee. It was based on self-sufficiency and social rewards. He calls it 'religious in the worst sense of the word'. It is not a religion of repentance, but pride. He states that the "The Catholic saints alone confess sin, because the Catholic saints alone see God" and his argument is that because as Christians we see God, we know we can never reach his standard without resting wholly on his grace and mercy. Thus the prayer of the Christian is always for God's grace and mercy.

"...whether it be the thief on the cross, Magdalen at the feast, or St. Paul before his martyrdom:—not that one of them may not have, what another has not, but that one and all have nothing but what comes from Him, and are as nothing before Him, who is all in all.... Let us thank Him for all that He has done for us, for what He is doing by us; but let nothing that we know or that we can do, keep us from a personal, individual adoption of the great Apostle's words, "Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief." - John Henry Cardinal Newman 1856

I love Newman, he always focuses on God's grace, he's very Augustinian.