Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scripture Shorts - Fraternal Correction

Admonishing the Sinner is not “Judging” is an Act of Mercy.

"…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Mt 7:5)

“…If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…”(Mt 18:15-17)

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart: You shall in any case rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” (Lev 19:17)

“My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any sin, you who are spiritual should recall him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:1-2)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” (Col 3:16)

“And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14)

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you…Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus ...Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened….I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men…not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you”.” (1 Cor 5:1-13)

“If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thess 3:14)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Is the Church Insincere in Her Stand Against SSM while Promoting the Best Interest of Children?

That appears to be one stance amongst promoters of keeping religion out of the “marriage business”.  I say “appears” because I had to tie a couple statements together to draw that conclusion.  At any rate, Catholics should be prepared to logically and intelligibly talk about this when it comes up, so here are the paraphrased statements, with my own remarks to each:

-Gay couples can already adopt, so opposing SSM doesn’t affect how children are raised.  If the Church wants to make a stand against something that will affect children, it should be standing against divorce.  Regardless, the Church should not claim moral authority on the well-being of children.

First of all, just because a same-sex couple CAN adopt and WANTS to adopt does not logicaly mean that this is what's BEST for children...and science does not support any such notion (source below).  Secondly, the Church DOES stand against divorce.  In fact, in its 2,000 year history, the Catholic Church is one of very few religious groups that have NEVER CHANGED its stance on divorce.  Thirdly, I’m not certain what was meant by “should not claim moral authority on the well-being of children”, but the question needs to be asked then, “should the Church be concerned about the well-being of children?”  Regardless of whether there should be a moral authority, or whether the Church should be it, the fact is that the Church is concerned about the well-being of children.  Anyone arguing against this must necessarily explain why the Church should not be…and then be prepared to accept the logical consequences of their position and concede that they have zero basis upon which to complain about the next point…clerical abuse.

(Source  , see item 7)

-If the Church cared about children, they’d be excommunicating pederast Priests instead of moving them around and quietly retiring them.

First, this betrays a misunderstanding of what an excommunication is.  Excommunication is not punishment, per se, but a warning and act of mercy to get a person back into communion with Christ’s Church.  Secondly, while the Church was moving accused Priests around for treatment at the time these things were taking place (30 years ago) it was doing exactly what psychological science was saying was best.  The Church does now, in fact, realize that this wasn’t good science and has not only handed Priests over to authorities, but has even changed its own Canon Law to make it easier to punish them, even in cases where evidence is not sufficient for civil prosecution.  Now, with the Church’s zero-tolerance policy, every accused Priest is immediately removed from duty and reported to authorities.  The Church has trained children how to recognize and report abuse, trained adults to recognize abuse, installed Victim Assistance Coordinators, cooperated in the John Jay Report, initiated its own independent compliance monitoring, and has instituted review boards of psychologists and other experts to examine all abuse cases brought forward.  No other organization has come close to protecting children in the way the Church has done recently…and all this in light of the fact that public schools are 100 times more likely to have abuse cases, and the fact that there are still 225 cases of admitted sexual abuses in New York alone that were never reported to authorities.  (Source: )

But let’s get back to Same Sex “marriage” (SSM).  The focal point I drew from the argument is this:  In the argument against homosexual "marriage", The Church is insincere in claiming to protect a child's best interest because it needs to first defend Marriage and protect children from abuse.” 

Let's break it down and point out the facts:

The Church is insincere because the Church should be focusing more on divorce...except the Church DOES speak out against divorce...for the past 2,000 years. In fact, the Catholic Church is one of very few religious groups that has NEVER CHANGED its stance on divorce. 

The Church is insincere because some Priests abused children and it needs to focus on protection of childrenand in order to make a logical argument out of this, one would have to presume that therefore the Church supports abusive behavior...except the Church does NOT support such behavior, has spoken out against it, has opened itself up to scrutiny on the matter so that ith can be rooted out, and has even changed its own Canon Law to make it easier to prosecute the accused.  The Church has done more than any other organization, religious or otherwise, to protect children from abuse. 

(And to go to the ridiculous, but only logical, conclusion of the point:  if the Church is insincere because of the actions of some Priests...then humanity as a whole, in arguing for protecting the lives of children, is insincere because some humans have killed children. )

The Church has always supported Marriage and stands alone (or nearly so) in its unchanging teaching against divorce.  The Church is interested in the best interest of children and has done more than any organization in the world to stamp out abuse, despite the fact that abuse is more rampant outside the Church.  So, how exactly is the Church insincere in wanting what is best for children??

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How did the Early Christians Worship?

[65] “After we have thus washed the one who has believed and has assented, we lead him to where those who are called brethren are gathered, offering prayers in common and heartily for ourselves and for the one who has been illuminated, and for all others everywhere, so that we may be accounted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, to be found keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an eternal salvation. Having concluded the prayers, we greet one another with a kiss. Then there is brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of water and of watered wine; and taking them, he gives praise and glory to the Father of all, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and he himself gives thanks at some length in order that these things may be deemed worthy.

When the prayers and the thanksgiving are completed, all the people present call out their assent, saying: “Amen!” Amen in the Hebrew language signifies so be it. After the president has given thanks, and all the people have shouted their assent, those whom we call deacons give to each one present to partake of the Eucharistic bread and wine and water; and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.”

[66] “We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration, and is thereby living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the Word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.

The Apostles, in the Memoirs which they produced, which are called Gospels, have thus passed on that which was enjoined upon them: that Jesus took bread and, having given thanks, said, “Do this in remembrance of Me; this is My Body.” [cf. Lk 22:19, Mt 26:26, Mk 14:22, 1Cor 11:23-24] And in like manner, taking the cup, and having given thanks, He said, “This is My Blood.” [cf. Lk 22:20, Mt 26:27-28, Mk 14:24, 1Cor 11:25] And He imparted this to them only. The evil demons, however, have passed on its imitation in the mysteries of Mithra. For, as you know or are able to learn, bread and a cup of water together with certain incantations are used in the initiation to the mystic rites.”
(Justin Martyr, [First] Apology, 65-66 [A.D. 148 (155)] )

[bracketed Scriptural references provided in The Faith of the Early Fathers by William Jurgens, Volume 1, pp.55, 57]

St. Justin Martyr goes on to explain, in even more detail, the celebration of what Catholics today call “the Mass”.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why Do Catholics Pray the "Hail Mary"?

Well, it’s not one of the most common questions that Catholics get asked, but it’s closely related to a very common question, and in reality, it is the more appropriate form of that more common question [why do you “worship” Mary?].

First and foremost, let’s clear the air really quickly:

1) Catholics do NOT* worship Mary. (*In truth, we need to define “worship” (latria, dulia, hyper-dulia) if we are going to address this more deeply than what I’ll cover here. But for purposes of talking to normal people with a normal vocabulary in post-18th century English speaking dialog…no, we do not worship Mary.)

2) Asking for prayers from the “dead” is NOT the same as asking prayers from those who have passed on before us…at least according to Jesus and Paul and John. In Scripture, the “dead” are those damned, or otherwise “dead” or not with us and might be used as mediums (see Deut 18:10-11) while the others are referred to as “saints” or children of God, or members of Christ’s Kingdom, or those “who have fallen asleep”, etc… Asking departed brothers and sisters, who are more alive than ever in God’s Presence, is not the same as “necromancy”, nor does it contradict Christ as our One Mediator. And there are a host of Scripture passages to back that up (Rom 8:35-39, Rom 15:30, Rev 5:8, Mk 12:26-27, Mk 9:4, Rev 6:9-11, 1Tim 2:1-7, 1Pet 2:5, Jn 21:15-16, Eph 4:11, etc…).

Okay, so why the “Hail Mary” then? Sure, we are allowed, and even encouraged and even told to pray for one another and ask one another for prayers. And sure, it can be a noble thing to ask the woman who carried God in her womb to pray to Jesus for us. But why the prayer itself…the words, per se?

Well, let’s look at them.

Hail, Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The first two parts should be obvious…but unfortunately, they are not that obvious to a great many folks (including myself until I had to explain to someone else). Let’s look at the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you! (Lk 1:26-28)

Now, some more recent Bible translations render the words “full of grace” as “highly favored daughter” or something along those lines. We can look another time why “full of grace” is more correct. For now, if you doubt that it’s appropriate, I encourage you to research the Greek work “kecharitomene”, which is the word found in the original Greek translations of Scripture.

So then, the first part of the “Hail Mary” is right out of the Scriptures. Is there any reason why we should not quote/repeat what Scripture says?

How about the second part? “Blessed are you…”?

41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! (Lk 1:41-42)

There it is…word for word. The only thing different is that we call on His name here…”Jesus”. We identify exactly WHO the Fruit of Mary’s womb is…it’s Jesus! And just in case there are any doubts as to whether it’s really Jesus, Scripture goes on to tell us:

43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Lk 1:43-45)

What was spoken to her from the Lord that was being fulfilled? Well, the Angel Gabriel helps us out there:

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:31-35)

It’s pretty clear then, for the first 2 parts of the “Hail Mary”; they are straight out of the Scriptures…a recounting of what took place those 2,000 years ago when our Lord took on flesh for our salvation. But what about the other half? And why do we continue to repeat it?

The other half does two things: 1) it addresses Mary personally for who she is (cf. Lk 1:31-35, 43-45), and 2) asks her to pray for us…just like we ask everyone else to pray for us…only it’s Jesus’ Mom instead of the average fella’ we meet or know. And assuming that Jesus is God [and He IS], well then, it’s a completely accurate statement to call Mary the “Mother of God”…the “Theotokos”...the “God-bearer”.

So why repeat it? It’s partly for the same reason we repeat the Psalms or any other part of Scripture…because it’s God’s Word (at least the first half). And partly because God’s Word records Mary as saying that we would. Scripture records Mary as saying, “…My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:46-48). If “all generations” are to call her “blessed”, that kinda tells me that ALL generations are supposed to do it…which means we actually have to do it…which involves actually doing it…which, in practice, involves some amount of repeating it more than once (so that future generations will continue to do it).

Why do Catholics pray the “Hail Mary”? Because it is Scripture, and because Scripture said that we would, in some way, continue to call Mary blessed. And what better way to call her blessed than to repeat what the Scriptures say? And who better to ask to pray for us [whether we ask our kinfolks, our friends, or even our own moms] than the mom who carried God in her womb?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Love Desires Knowledge...

“Love desires knowledge, and knowledge serves love.” (Frank Sheed, from a speech in 1957)

When we “love” someone (“love” being the action word, not the fuzzy feeling), what do we want of them? What do we desire of those we love? Probably many things, but I'd say primarily it could be boiled down to “getting to know”, or “knowing” them. Getting to know, and knowing, them serves the love we have for them. And the more we love them, the more we want to know them...and the more we know them, the more we understand of them to love, so to speak. I believe this is mostly true of just about anyone.

So, how much desire do we have to know God? Can our hunger for “knowing” God be any indicator for how much we “love” Him? Or what of our efforts to “know” Him? And if there is any truth to what this suggests, then how shall we go about getting to know Him, if we realize we have not done a fair job in doing so? Allow me for a moment to turn “knowledge” into “food”, and a “hunger for knowledge” into “hunger”.

“Not on bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds form the mouth of God.” said Jesus to the devil after His 40 days in the desert and the subsequent temptation the devil presented Him with. As Mr. Sheed put it, “Revealed truth, then, is food. Now it is a peculiarity of food that it nourishes only those who eat it. We are not nourished by the food that someone else has eaten. To be nourished by it, we must eat it ourselves.” (Sheed, Theology for Beginners, p.4)

And where do we find these words that proceed from the mouth of God? Crack open that Bible! ;-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Secular Arguments on Same-sex "marriage" Rights - Refuting Senator Diane Savino

Senator Diane Savino, on December 2, 2009, gave a speech at a Senate hearing in support of redefining “Marriage” to include same sex couples.  I watched her video and noted each point she made (in orange italics), and have addressed each one respectively. In the responses, the bolded blue quotes are from the OSV article linked below. I have also provided the video to Senator Savino's speech for context.

tens of thousands of lives hanging in the balance

-The argument begins with an emotional plea with absolutely no justification or support. How exactly are lives hanging in the balance? Is not being married detrimental to a person? I’d like to see some credible evidence for this assertion. This is an appeal to emotion with no substance to back it up.

"[This is about] fairness and equality…people of right age, sound mind… who choose to live together….and want protection that gov’t grants to the married…

- Redefining “Marriage” is NOT an issue of equal rights. It’s an issue of the meaning and purpose of marriage, and why the state should promote it.

Why exactly does the government promote marriage in the first place? If you don’t know that answer, that may be part of the problem which has led to the push for re-defining Marriage. Fairness and equality do not mean “equivalency”. “It does not mean treating every person or every group in exactly the same way. To use an analogy, men and women have equal rights, but because they significantly differ they require separate restrooms. Equality means treating similar things similarly, but not things that are fundamentally different.” (Source below)

who are denied the right to share their life together… ready for a commitment…”

-No one, NO ONE, is denied the right to share a committed life together. This is an existing legal protection for all couples, regardless of orientation. This is not about a right to share a life together, it’s about a demand to change the definition of marriage so that 2-5% of the population can have government benefits for their lifestyle choice. What they don’t realize is that, once marriage is redefined…it will cease to mean anything at all…and there will be no reason for the state to promote it in the first place.

…[redefining Marriage] won’t affect the Church [or anyone else]

- “First, it would weaken marriage. After same-sex marriage was legislated in Spain in 2005, marriage rates plummeted. The same happened in the Netherlands. Redefining marriage obscures its meaning and purpose, thereby discouraging people from taking it seriously.

Second, it would affect education and parenting. After same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada, the Toronto School Board implemented a curriculum promoting homosexuality and denouncing “heterosexism.” They also produced posters titled “Love Knows No Gender,” which depicted both homosexual and polygamous relationships as equivalent to marriage. Despite parents’ objections, the board decreed that they had no right to remove their children from such instruction. This and many similar cases confirm that when marriage is redefined, the new definition is forced on children, regardless of their parents’ desires.Third, redefining marriage would threaten moral and religious liberty. This is already evident in our own country. In Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., for instance, Catholic Charities can no longer provide charitable adoption services based on new definitions of marriage. Elsewhere, Canadian Bishop Frederick Henry was investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for simply explaining the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality in a newspaper column. Examples like this show how redefining marriage threatens religious freedom.” (Source below)

When marriage revolves around procreation, it makes sense to restrict it to one man and one woman. That’s the only relationship capable of producing children. But if we redefine marriage as simply a loving, romantic union between committed adults, what principled reason would we have for rejecting polygamist or polyamorous — that is, multiple-person — relationships as marriages?

Thomas Peters, cultural director at the National Organization for Marriage, doesn’t see one. “Once you sever the institution of marriage from its biological roots, there is little reason to cease redefining it to suit the demands of various interest groups,” Peters said.

This isn’t just scaremongering or a hypothetical slippery slope. These aftereffects have already been observed in countries that have legalized same-sex marriage. For example, in Brazil and the Netherlands, three-way relationships were recently granted the full rights of marriage. After marriage was redefined in Canada, a polygamist man launched legal action to have his relationships recognized by law. Even in our own country, the California Legislature passed a bill to legalize families of three or more parents.

Procreation is the main reason civil marriage is limited to two people. When sexual love replaces children as the primary purpose of marriage, restricting it to just two people no longer makes sense."(Source below)

What are we protecting [in view of the divorce rate] in protecting marriage?” (Appealing that marriage is already a failing institution...)”

- So, does this mean that removing further the meaning of marriage will not have more adverse effect on the sanctity of marriage? The fact that 'marriage has already suffered' justifies adversely affecting it further? And, if it is of no consequence that marriage will lose all meaning (such is the implication here) regardless of same-sex unions, then why should the state bother changing the definition in the first place?  Isn't this a self-defeating argument?  If marriage already has lost its meaning and value, then WHY are activists fighting for this supposed right to marry (which they are not denied in the first place)?

In summary:

This is not an issue about equality , but rather about the purpose/meaning of Marriage and why the state should promote it. It’s not about extending Marriage to same-sex partners, rather it’s a demand to redefine Marriage. The idea of Marriage that has always and everywhere been understood as being a biological union of a man and woman for children…will be redefined as an emotional commitment between “two people”. It becomes an issue of the state no longer promoting Marriage, which has supported and built our societies, but rather supporting “emotional commitments”, regardless of what is in the best interest of the children. The state cannot take a neutral stance… it must promote Marriage as either a conjugal relationship, or not. And if it’s not conjugal in nature, then there is no reason for the state to promote any set of relationships over another…and the battle to redefine Marriage is a moot point because Marriage then has no true meaning aside from how one feels for another...and then (again) why should the state bother to promote it? (One could just go around in circles all day long with this.)

In discussing this topic with some other folks , it seems like the topic is also being framed under a view that "gay couples" deserve the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. But this goes back to why the state promotes marriage in the first place. It does so, currently, because Marriage, in the conjugal view, benefits society and is the building block for society. I don't think people realize that once "marriage" becomes a soley emotional construct, that it will lose its meaning altogether...(and there we are again in the never-ending circle of having no reason for the state to promote it).

It also gets painted as “Christians wanting to withhold Marriage from same-sex partners”. NO. Everyone, regardless of orientation, currently has the legal right to live as they wish, to do what they wish with whom they wish, and all have the right to "Marriage" (to enter into a lifelong monogamous relationship with a person of the opposite sex). The problem is not that Marriage is being withheld form anyone...the problem is that some people want to re-define Marriage so that they can reap state benefits for a lifestyle choice.

Senator Savino's video speech:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Church Fathers on: Baptism of Blood

What did the Early Christians Believe?                                                            
Baptism:  Baptism by Blood (Martyrdom) (part1)

"We have, indeed, a second [baptismal] font which is one with the former [water baptism]: namely, that of blood, of which the Lord says: ‘I am to be baptized with a baptism’ [Luke 12:50], when he had already been baptized. He had come through water and blood, as John wrote [1 John 5:6], so that he might be baptized with water and glorified with blood. . . . This is the baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received, and restores it when it has been lost" (Tertullian, Baptism, 16 [A.D. 203]).
"[Catechumens who suffer martyrdom] are not deprived of the sacrament of baptism. Rather, they are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord said that he had another baptism with which he himself was to be baptized [Luke 12:50]" (Cyprian of Carthage, Letters, 72[73]:22 [A.D. 253)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

That doesn't count! It's the OLD Testament!

Not often, but on occasion, one might be digging deep into the Old Testament Scriptures to defend their Christian beliefs only to hear, "but that's in the old doesn't matter anymore" (or something kinda like that).  So what do you do? 
Well, the first thing to recognize is that, while the Old Testament does contain some old laws that we are no longer bound to (like splitting the calf in half, and laying its parts across from one another and waking through them when making an oath), they are STILL the Word of God...they are STILL Scripture.  And we also need to be mindful of the fact that , even ignoring the many instances where Jesus and other NT figures quote from the Old, the New Testament does have a bit to say about these.
So, let's observe what the NT Scriptures tell us about the Scriptures themselves. Scripture says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2Tim 3:16).
Did you catch that?  It says "ALL" Scripture.   Not just "some", not just "the new"...but "ALL" Scripture is 1)inspired by God, and 2) profitable/useful in righteousness.

Scripture also tells us that the Old Covenant is a foreshadowing of the New...that the Old bears witness to the fullness of the good things to come. “Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them...” (Heb 10:1, NAB). The “Good News Bible” states it: “The Jewish Law is not a full and faithful model of the real things; it is only a faint outline of the good things to come.” And the Douay-Rheims: “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things...”.
We also know that Christ did not abolish the law, but came to fulfill it, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Mt 5:16-18)

So, don't be afraid to discover and discuss what the foreshadowing of God's plan involved, which Christ came not to abolish, but to fulfill and to tell us to let our good work in it shine before all. Let's see how ALL Scriptures can profit us in teaching and training in righteousness.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Church Fathers on: Authority of Bishops

What did the Early Christians Believe?
Authority of the Bishop

“For Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the will of the Father, just as the bishops, who have been appointed throughout the world, are the will of Jesus Christ. [4,1] It is fitting, therefore, that you should live in harmony with the will of the bishop – as indeed, you do.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Ephesians, [3,2] and [4,1] )

“Let us be careful, then, if we would be submissive to God, not to oppose the bishop.” (ibid. [5,3] )

I will [send you further doctrinal explanations] especially if the Lord should reveal to me that all of you to a man, through grace derived from the Name, join in the common meeting in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David according to the flesh [see Rom 1:3], the Son of Man and the Son of God, so that you give ear to the bishop and to the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one Bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.” (ibid. [20,2] )

Scripture Shorts - Celibacy

What Does the Bible say about Celibacy?

"To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (1Cor 7:8-9)

"Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. . . those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. . . . The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband" (1Cor 7:27-34).

"If such is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry” (Mt 19:10)

"Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it" (Mt 19:11–12)

Fraternal's What's for Dinner!

Someone once shared a quote after a bit of “fraternal correction” that was going on: “The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticize others.” (Dalai Lama)

True to a point…but is that ALL? In other words, is the Dalai Lama saying this to the extent that we should not correct sin? I doubt it. And even if he is, are his words TRUE? I believe he shares that same view that Christ and the Apostles taught (though I may be wrong), that somewhat deeper view; one by which we not only learn to control ourselves, but cooperate with God’s grace and grow in holiness and to help our brethren to do the same. I think there are some who might read these words of the Dalai Lama and misunderstand them for a rebuke against correcting one another. I don’t think this is that is his message, and more importantly, I think we should focus on what Christ had to say (He is God after all). Msgr. Charles Pope explains, “far from forbidding the correction of the sinner [Jesus, in Lk 6:36-38] actually emphasizes the importance of correction by underscoring the importance of doing it well and with humility and integrity.” (See link below for source.) The Apostles taught it as well. In fact, there are MANY passages in Scripture that admonish us to correct our neighbor when he/she sins. For example:

“…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Mt 7:5)

“…If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…”(Mt 18:15-17)

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you…Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus ...Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened….I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men…not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you”.” (1 Cor 5:1-13)

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any sin, you who are spiritual should recall him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:1-2)

“My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19)

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart: You shall in any case rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” (Lev 19:17)

“If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thess 3:14)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” (Col 3:16)

“And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14)

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I think we get the point. Correcting the sinner is an act of much so that the Church has listed it as one of the “spiritual works or mercy” (admonish the sinner). So, regardless of what the Dalai Lama meant with that quote, and regardless of whether it was taken out of context or anything like least we know what the Word of God has to say about it. And I DO believe that we can effectively correct and admonish one another in that sense of charity and patience...without “criticizing”.

For more examples and in-depth discussion on them, please visit the source I quoted from above:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Which Church is THE Church in the Bible?

In Timothy 3:15, we see Paul explaining to Timothy that, should Paul be delayed, he writes to Timothy so that one may know how to conduct himself in “the Church…which is the pillar and bulwark of Truth”.  But which Church was he talking about?  Obviously he is talking about God’s Church, since he says, “…the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth…” (1Tim3:15)  But what did this Church look like?  Was it an invisible body of all believers?  Was it a visible Church?  Could it be both rather than either/or?

Firstly, we Catholics believe the Church is One…meaning Christ founded one Church and intended it to remain as such.  (Jn 10:16, Jn 17:17-23, Eph 4:3-6, Rom 12:5, Rom 15:5, Rom 16:17, 1Cor 1:10, 1Cor 12:13, Phil 2:2, Col 3:15, etc…)

Catholics believe the Church that Paul is talking about in 1Tim 3:15 has both visible and invisible aspects. For example, in the verses immediately prior, Paul speaks about Bishops and Deacons and how they are to conduct themselves. So, this Church had a visible hierarchy...which included Bishops and Deacons, which is also seen in Eph 4:11. Also, Christ tells us that if our brother sins against us and it can't be resolved, that we should take it to the Church in Matt 18:15-17. Well, if the Church is not visible, how do we know where to go for this? So, we believe the Church is visible...something like would be set high on a mountaintop...or a light for the world (Mt 5:14)...a light that would not be hidden under a basket, but visible for all to see.  We believe it also has some invisible aspects, such as the communion of believers…but it was also visible.

Catholics also believe that this Church is Apostolic. Jesus chose specific men to lead His Church (Jn 15:16), gave them His own mission (Jn 20:21), and conferred on them a Kingdom (Lk 22:29-30). Christ chose to build His Church on one of His Apostles, (Mt 16:18) and said that it would be One Flock with One Shepherd (Jn 10:16) and then He appointed a shepherd to tend His Flock on earth until He comes again (Lk 22:32, Jn 21:17). When one of them betrayed the Lord, he was replaced...succeeded (Acts 1:20, 25-26), and so this Apostolic Church has Apostolic Succession. We believe that the OT verses 2Chr 19:11, Mal 2:7 point to this and the NT verses Eph 2:20, 4:11, 1Cor 12:28-29, 1Tim 3:1,8 1Tim 5:17, Acts 14:23, 2Tim 2:2, Titus 1:5, etc...confirm it, even showing how that succession takes place (Dt 34:9, Acts 6:1-6, 1Tim 4:14, 1Tim 5:22 and 2Tim 1:6).

Catholics also believe it is universal...that it applies to ALL. This is confirmed for us when Christ says to preach the Gospel to, and baptize, all nations…all the world (Mt 28:18-20, Mk 16:15-16).  It is also evident in Christ’s words that all who listen to the Church listen to Christ, and vice versa (Lk 10:16). We see it again in the fact that this Church decided, under the direction of Peter, to forgo circumcision for the Gentiles and to allow Gentiles to be admitted to the Church (Acts 10).

Further, we believe it is Holy because it is founded by Christ (Mt 16:18-19) and not by man, and because it is led by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16,26; 16:13).  It is also Holy because Christ is its Head (Col 1:18) and the Church is His Body (1Cor 12:20-27, 1Cor 6:15 Eph 5:30, Rom 12:4-5) as well as the Bride of Christ (cf. Eph 5:22-32).

We also believe that this Church is perpetual...that it goes on until the end of the world. We believe that Is 9:6-7 and Dan 2:44; 7:14 allude to this and that it is confirmed in Lk 1:32-33, Mt 7:24, Mt 13:24-30, Mt 16:18, and Jn 14:16.  In these, we see Scriptural evidence of a Church that shall not be destroyed, built on a rock, with weeds and wheat growing together until harvest, which the gates of hell cannot prevail against, and which the Holy Spirit is always with and whom Christ is always with, for “all days” (Mt 28:19-20).

Being perpetual...the Church should be for “all time”….”perpetual”. And being in time, we ourselves cannot look into the future, we can only look into the past. So, looking in to the past, looking for a Church that is visible AND invisible, Apostolic and universal and Holy, and not founded by man, we can work our way backward to see what Churches there were and if they meet these criteria. If we go back 400 years or so, for example, we can rule out the Mormon Church and the SDA and JW's...because they did not exist yet. Go back another 400 years, get the idea...

Refuting Mike Gendron's "Are Catholics Deceived?"

Mike Gendron will be quoted in black; my responses will be in red.

Deception will always be exposed by Truth. Have you ever realized that you could be deceived and not even be aware of it? Those who are deceived will never know it unless they are confronted with the truth. Many go to their grave deceived about the most important issue we all face, and that is, locating the narrow road that leads to eternal life. Who are you trusting to show you the way and the truth to eternal life? What is your source for truth? Is it absolutely trustworthy? Will it protect you from the schemes and lies of the master deceiver?   The prophet Jeremiah gave us wise counsel for choosing whom we should trust. He said if you trust in man you will be cursed liked a bush in the parched places of the desert. But if you trust in God you will be blessed. You will be like a tree planted by water always bearing fruit, whose leaves are always green. No worries or fears will come upon you in a year of drought or when the heat comes (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Amen, Mike!  And here, we are about to see that truth will expose the deception you have put forward, whether intentionally or not.  It’s interesting here that, while Gendron is about to launch into decrying Catholics for trusting “in man”, as he’d have you believe, the entire article he wants us to trust and accept as being truthful is written by...God? a man. So, how trustworthy is Mike Gendron?  Let’s find out.

Who will you trust? Many people disregard Jeremiah's advice and put their trust in religious leaders. Catholics believe that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church accurately teach what Jesus and His Word reveal. This can be a fatal mistake.

Hold it.  It can be a mistake to trust that God was telling the truth when, after establishing His Church on earth He said that He would guide it in all Truth?  Jesus said He would establish a Church (Mt 16:18-19) and that the Holy Spirit would guide it in all Truth for all ages in the very voice of Christ (Jn 16:13, Jn 14:26, Lk 10:16, Mt 28:20).  Are we not to trust God that the Church is the pillar and bulwark...the support and defender...of truth?  Would Gendron have us believe that 1Tim 3:15 is wrong?   It seems to me that the issue here is that Gendron has an unbiblical view of what God’s Church is and he thinks God only established an invisible body of believers...another topic for another day I suppose.

Those who disregard the objective truth of the Bible and rely only on the subjective teachings of men leave themselves open to deception.

“...subjective teachings of men...” like....Mike Gendron?  Or does Mike enjoy the gift of infallibility?  You see, at the very best, when it comes down to it, the very best Mike can hope for when interpreting or seeking to understand the Bible, is a fallible disagreement with the Catholic view.    If he claims his understanding is THE correct one, then he has set himself up as an authority, and is now completely contradicting himself.

We know God would never deceive anyone because He wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (l Timothy 2:3). He gave us His Word so we could know, understand and believe the truth (John 17:17).
AMEN! We also know that God gave us a Church (Mt 16:18-19), that we are to go to this Church when an unresolvable issue arises (Mt 18:17-18) and that His Church is the pillar and bulwark of Truth (1Tim 3:15).  We also know that His Word, Christ (Jn chapter 1) is not limited to what is written (Jn 1:1 and Jn 21:25) and that He also left us with His Sacred teachings passed down in a way other than in written form (Rom 10:17, 2Thess 2:15, 2Tim 1:13, 2Tim 2:2).

Would the Pope have a person believe what is not true? Maybe not intentionally, but what if he was deceived by previous popes who were also deceived? How do we know if any of the pope's teachings or dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church are true? The only way we can be 100% sure is to do as the Bereans did --- check everything with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). If the apostle Paul's teaching had to be verified for its truthfulness, it stands to reason we must use the same standard for any religious leader.

Would Mr. Gendron have us believe that he, as opposed to any Pope, cannot deceive or be deceived, even unintentionally?  The question can be asked of any man:  how do we know if their teachings are true?  I would pose another question:  Where does the Bible say we should go for an infallible answer?  It says, “the Church” (Mt 18: 17-18, 1Tim 3:15, Jn 16:13).

Further, Gendron misapplies the story of the Bereans.  If you read the first part of the story in Acts 17 (verses 1-10), you will see the reason why the Bereans are called “more noble”.  It’s because they received Paul’s spoken words.  You see, those in Thessalonica adhered ONLY to Scriptures and rejected Paul’s preaching.  They were “sola Scripturists” of the 1st century.  His preaching did not match their beliefs about Scripture, so they rejected his preaching.  Yet it is the Bereans, who accepted his preaching compared it to the Scriptures (Scripture + Tradiditon) that were “more noble”.  They accepted the spoken Truth, and THEN checked to see how it applied to the written Truth.  This story in Acts 17:1-11, in my opinion, is a strong argument AGAINST sola Scriptura.

Unfortunately the elevation of tradition along with infallible teachings of popes to the same authority as Sacred Scripture has allowed deception to go unabated in the Roman Catholic Church. Popes and their teachings constantly change, whereas Jesus and His Word are constant and never change.

Hang on a minute. Is Mike saying that Scripture (the Bible) is an authority?  Now, I know that God’s Word is Authority...but to say that Scripture is God’s Word, doesn’t that require an Authority to infallibly declare what is/isn’t God’s Word in the first place?  Afterall, not even Scripture tells us which books belong in Scripture.  And if the Authority that told us which ones do belong is not an infallible Authority, then we can’t really trust that our Bible really is the Word of God, can we?  Fortunately for us, it was Christ, not the Church, that elevated Sacred Tradition and the Church (the Magesterium) as an Authority (Mt 18:17-18; Lk 10:16; Jn 20:21:23; Mt 28:18-20; 1Cor 11:23-24). 

The Apostle Paul revealed the source of all deception, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). You may be familiar with some common deceptions taught by religious leaders today: heaven is a reward for those who live good lives...

Yep, that would certainly be a falsehood.  Thankfully, the Catholic Church does not teach that.

water baptism is necessary for salvation... he accusing Jesus Christ of teaching a deception?!  Jesus said that Baptism IS necessary for salvation (Jn 3:5, cf. Jn 3:22, Mk 16:16).  In fact, Scripture could not be more clear!  Col 2:11-12, 1Pet 3:21, Acts 3:28, Acts 22:16, Rom 6:3-4, etc...).  In fact, John Calvin pointed out in the 16th century that it was none other than a deception of Satan to deny infants a Christian Baptism.  I wonder if Gendron would explain his position on the man-made tradition of denying Baptism to infants, or in claiming that Baptism is NOT necessary for salvation, and cite an early Christian source (including the Bible) where Christians denied Baptism to infants or believed it to NOT be necessary?  I have a strong hunch he won't find anything pre-dating the 16th century, except where Christians were refuting these non-Christian positions.

purgatory purges and removes sin...

So, is he concerned about purgatory, per se, or with what purgatory *does*?  At any rate, we know there is temporal punishment for sin, even after forgiveness (2Sam 12:13-14) and that we all fall short (James 3:2) and that some who are NOT damned can suffer loss as through fire (1Cor 3:15) and that nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Rev 21:27).  So, I’m not sure what point he’s trying to make here.  Scripture is clear that we will be made clean and purged of all uncleanness.  A place/process where a “purging” takes place prior to entering into Heaven seems pretty darn Biblical to me.

....the sacrifice of the Mass can turn away God's wrath on sinners...

Well, that can’t be the Catholic Church he’s talking about, right?  I wonder if there is some source he was planning on providing to his readers so they could verify his claims.  Surely he wouldn’t stoop so low as to make stuff up that isn’t true just on his own whim.  Surely he read this somewhere, right?  Source Please!  Or maybe he is just resorting to deceptive tactics, using ambiguous terms to set up a strawman of sorts?

...God's grace can be earned and purchased.

Wow! I’m glad the Catholic Church doesn’t teach this one, either!  The fact that Gendron implies that the Church teaches this shows his lack of honesty in discussing the Catholic Faith. 

Satan has used lies like these to become the greatest "soul winner" in human history. For two thousand years, the master deceiver has perverted the Gospel of salvation by grace. His ferocious wolves, disguised in sheep's clothing, preach counterfeit gospels that seduce people who are ignorant of God's word (Matt. 7:15). A counterfeit Christianity is Satan's ultimate weapon, so he can, one day be worshipped as Christ. His worldwide religious system is taking shape and unfortunately it includes many people in our churches today.

I have to agree with Mike here, except for his last sentence.  It seems as though he insinuates that religion is only a tool of the devil...that God did not give us a religion.  Perhaps his definition of “religion” is different?

All this should come as no surprise to those who know the Scriptures. For this scenario was revealed by Christ and the apostles as a warning of things to come. Jesus announced that right before His second coming the deception will be so convincing that even the elect might be deceived (Matt. 24:4,11,24). The deceit will come from false prophets, false teachers and false Christs, who will snare people from both inside and outside the church. Peter warned people of spiritual deception, "There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies...and will bring the way of truth into disrepute" (2 Peter 2:1-2).

[snipped from end and placed here...since it follows the same line of thought]...There are consequences for those who do not seek God's truth through His Word. Those people who blindly put their faith in religious leaders are most susceptible to deception. Many assume that religious leaders would never seduce anyone with a false plan of salvation. Yet Luke warned, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).
Other people choose not to let truth interfere with their lives. They turn away from it and listen to teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Truth demands a response. The choice is to believe it and conform, or reject it and go our stubborn way.

There are people who are devoted to God, but do not know Him personally because religious leaders conceal the source and authority of truth. People who have been indoctrinated with false teaching have difficulty believing the truth. They are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth (2 Tim. 3:7). Acknowledging the truth requires a "turning away" from all unbiblical doctrines....[end snip]

Oh, the irony, that anyone who knows Scripture and actual Catholic Doctrine will know that there is NOTHING in Scripture contrary to Church teaching, or vice versa, and that no Christian group/denomination/ immune from deceiving or being deceived by their own leaders, especially when they reject the Authority of the Church Christ established and rely on their own personal interpretations of Scripture (2Pet 1:20), potentially twisting it to their own destruction (2Pet 3:15-16).

Satan uses deception to prevent people from being saved. God uses the truth to proclaim salvation to all who believe it. Man is either saved by believing God's truth (Ephesians 1:13) or condemned by believing Satan's lie. Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers by perverting God's truth through false religious systems (2 Corinthians 4:4). Any religion that teaches salvation is obtained through human effort and merit is nullifying the grace of God to its followers. We are saved by grace, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works, if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:6).

It’s a good thing we have Christ’s Church to be the pillar and bulwark of Truth (1Tim 3:15) for us and the Holy Spirit working in that Church (Jn 16:13) to guide us to all Truth through that Church (Jn 14:26).  

The truth will set you free. How can we avoid falling prey to these subtle and scheming impostors? Our only defense is to experience the emancipating truth of Scripture (John 8:32).

Wait a minute!  Jn 8:32 says “Scripture”?!  That doesn’t sound right.  Let’s see:
“...and you shall know the [Scriptures], and the [Bible] shall make you free.”  No!  No, it doesn’t say that at all!  It says, “...and you shall know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH shall make you free.”  (Jn 8:32)  I don't see anywhere where TRUTH is made equivalent to “Scripture”.  (Though we DO know the Scriptures are PART of the Truth.  How we know that would be an interesting question.)  Maybe he meant to include Jn 8:31, “Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine...”.  Even still, I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that says “My Word” is equal to “Scripture” [ONLY Scripture].  Nowhere at all.  In fact, the only Word spread among the disciples prior to the writing of the NT was His SPOKEN Word.  I don’t see anywhere where He says to write His Words down anywhere.  Gendron doesn’t expect that we should believe that Christ means ONLY the Scriptures here does he?  Because that isn’t what Christ said...and we only want to believe what Christ said...right?!

We must know and live the truth.


All teaching must be filtered through God's Word.

Hmmm...I could almost agree here, except I have a suspicion that Gendron’s definition of “God’s Word” is limited to ONLY what has been written in Scripture.  In that case, I’d like to see a Bible verse that explicitly states we are to use the "Bible alone" for this purpose.  (Such a verse doesn’t exist.)

We are to use the Bible to lovingly correct and rebuke all teaching that contradicts God's inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16).

Well, what does that verse ACTUALLY say?  It says all Scripture is “profitable” or “useful” for such...but Gendron’s statement seems to suggest that it is ALL we are to use, or that Scripture is “sufficient”, or that we “must” use it.  The problem there is that, this isn’t what the Bible says.  In fact, if it weren't for an authoritative Church, we would not know which Scriptures belonged in the Canon of the Bible in the first place.

The Scriptures must become our ultimate authority in all areas of our faith.

Now, I know THIS isn’t in the all.  This is a false doctrine of man.  And if Scripture is the “sole” authority, then the person making this claim must necessarily show where Scripture explicitly states this...and it doesn’t even hint at it.  God's WORD is our authority.  And God, Himself, in the Person of Christ, has chosen to give us His Word both orally and in writing, through the authority of His Church.

We must cling to Jesus who came to testify to the truth (John 18:37) and who is the truth (John 14:6). We are to stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waists (Eph. 6:14). It is through living the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). Does the church where you worship submit to the truth of the Gospel? It is of vital importance to God that you worship Him in truth (John 4:24).

Hurray for the Catholic Church which lives this daily!  No where else can we find a Church that fulfils the OT prophecy of Malachi 1:11, “ “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My Name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My Name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My Name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts. ”  Yep, “incense”, and a “pure” offering, offered every hour of every day in every nation...only in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

It was a lack of faith in God's purpose, plan and word that separated Adam and Eve and their offspring from God. They chose to put their faith in the deceiver, which brought spiritual and physical death to us all. How divine for God to use the very instrument that separated us from Him--faith, to restore us back to Him. It is now through faith in God that we receive His gift of spiritual and eternal life (Ephesians 2:8).

(When presented with something like this, ask the person to define “Faith” will either result in an unbiblical theology...or a Catholic one.)

The object of our faith determines who we are --- a child of the devil (John 8:43-45) or a child of God (John 1:12); how we live --- as slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18); and how we will spend eternity --- under the wrath of God or in his loving presence (John 3:36). Faith in anyone other than Jesus, and in anything other than His Word will allow deception to creep into our lives. Those who follow the traditions, opinions and philosophies of men and reject Christ and His Word will be condemned on the last day (John 12:48). By contrast how wonderful are the words of Christ that those who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Jesus and His Word teach...
  • You are saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). (It’s actually “by grace, through faith...but whatever.  NOW, please show us the verse that says “by faith alone”...(James 2:24).
  • All who rely on observing the law (commandments) are under a curse (Galatians 3:10). “Law” = “commandments”??  I’m not seeing where Scripture says that!
  • Salvation occurs at the moment you believe the Gospel (Ephesians 1:13). That’s a far stretch of that verse in its context.  Mike suggests that just hearing the Gospel =- salvation.  I don’t see where Scripture makes that equation.
  • Jesus purifies sin (Hebrews 1:3). AMEN!
  • You can know for sure you are saved (1 John 5:13). ...have been saved, are saved, are being saved...working out salvation with fear and trembling.  Scripture, when taken as a whole, flatly rejects assurance of salvation.
  • The sacrifice of Jesus is finished (John 19:30).  Yet we are commanded to commemorate it and participate in it...amen!

The Pope and his church teach...
  • You are saved by faith plus works. More appropriately called “faith working through love”...Just like the Bible says...Gal 5:4-6, cf. James 2:14-24
  • Obedience to the commandments is a condition for salvation. Hmm...I’d like to see the actual Church teaching he is referring to...too bad he didn’t provide that source to support his assertion or to show the context of the teaching he may be referring to.
  • Salvation is a process from baptism through purgatory.  Huh?  Seriously...where is the source for this?
  • Purgatory purifies sin.  Well, purgatory is a purging, as it were...a means by which we experience temporal punishment prior to entering into Heaven.  Afterall, nothing unclean can enter Heaven, right?
  • You are condemned if you claim to be saved.  Again, WHAT?  Source please!!!
  • The sacrifice of Jesus continues in daily Mass.  No, it is commemorated...just like Jesus said to do in Luke 22:19.
  • As you can see these two teachings [false dichotomies Mike invented] directly oppose one another. You must make the choice as to which is true and which is deception. Your choice will determine your eternal destiny.  And being solidly steeped in Scripture, and having an honest desire to seek Truth, wherever it may lead, will help in making that choice.