Friday, August 17, 2007

From Jesus through Mary

Here ye, Here ye! Found on the internet...

Top Ten Reasons Why We Should Consecrate Our Lives To Jesus Through Mary

1. To emulate the sanctity of our previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who selected the de Montfort Consecration (True Devotion) for his own Marian Spirituality

2. To provide the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation

3. To obtain Our Lady's help in bringing us from our own unworthiness to the level of conversion, holiness, and perfection in our lives needed to enable us to become saintly

4. To turn our lives over completely and without reservation in service to Jesus through Mary to reflect our love and our trust in them now and for all eternity.

5. To obtain special graces and protection under Our Lady's sheltering mantle

6. To help bring others to Jesus through Mary for their conversion, holiness, and perfection through this total consecration devotion

7. To hasten the day of the Triumph of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart and the day when Mary and Jesus will reign in all hearts

8. To fulfill Our Lady's request for individual consecration of our lives to her Immaculate Heart, as given to us through Sister Lucia during the Fatima apparitions

9. To become an effective counter-force to the legion of evil so prevalent in the world by offering up our prayers, sacrifices, and sufferings to Jesus through Mary

10. To renew our Baptismal promises and to evangelize the world to Jesus through Mary

Now if one promises to do the above they will receive...
...a free Saint Louis de Montfort Total Consecration package, anywhere in the world, at no cost to you, if you pledge to use the package to Consecrate your life to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary (for full text see here)

We go to the Scriptures and fail to find one instance of anyone going to Jesus through Mary. The message of Scripture is that we have an advocate to the Father in the Son. It defeats the purpose of the gospel-- where we find an advocate in Christ (1 John 2:1), the "only one" mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5)-- if we need another advocate to get to the Son. But within Roman Catholicism, we find Mary as both an advocate for us and an mediatrix to Christ. Even at the feast at Cana (where Catholics attempt to derive from this story a spiritual application to Mary), no one went through Mary to get to Christ. Mary simply asked Christ upon hearing of the dilemma and was rebuked for attempting to "speed up" His ministry. The writer goes on to cite some early fathers, but nothing earlier then the late 3rd century (granting that these are cited within their context).

In a church were there are many "mysteries" this is surely an oddity. I guess that's what happens when one incorporates the fallibilities of human reasoning. You wind up with sophistry.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cruising around the WWW

Every now and then I look around the web to see if anyone has written anything that's bypassed me. I've found some good things and some bad in regards to my articles. Some demand more attention then others do and some, due to time constraints, will remain in the backburner until I'm free to devote some time to them. Some I don't feel the need to respond to given that the writer(s) haven't really refuted anything I've put on my blog (or any of the articles I've written for Jim's blog for that matter). Although, I may eventually respond to these as well. Well, I found a response to my article Onesiphorus in Purgatory?, by a poster who calls himself "Mad Dawg." The article itself was submitted by a poster named "Ottofire" on the Free Republic forums. The responses are over a year old, but I registered on the forum and am presently awaiting approval. My intent is to let "Mad Dawg" know of my response here.

Mad Dawg's words will be in blue blockquote, any citations will be in brown blockquote, and my response will remain in black and standard format....

The first thing to say is that this is sloppy. What exactly does "according to Rome" mean? Is the statement de fide, an opinion, or what? and "the majority of us" is the majority of whom, please? Certainly we'd guess that the majority of those whose final stop is heaven will spend some time in purgatory, but that's not doctrine.

According to Rome” means according to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m sure he is fully capable of understanding that Purgatory is a de fide teaching and, yes, it is understood that the majority of Christians, with the exception of martyrs and saints, WILL be going to purgatory. I never said that the amount of those going there is a “doctrine” but only that this is what is proclaimed by Catholics. I base the latter on my experience as a Catholic, on the dialogues I've had with Catholic clergy and laity and from the Catholic apologists I’ve interacted with.

ALL of those who "endure", as churchmouse puts it, Purgatory, will end up in Heaven. Purgatory is an interval, a way station, a pause, and from the point of view of eternity, almost a triviality. SO I think it's tendentious to call it "quite an oversight."
I am only using a word (endure) which has been used by many Catholics in my discussions. I think the word is appropriate considering this is ultimately what those in “purgatory” must do, they must "endure" the temporal punishments, the purgings, while awaiting their release (regardless of how instantaneous or prolonged it may be) to heaven. Mad Dawg trivializes the concept almost to the point of it being just a mere "waiting period" in a sea of infinity but this wasn't always the case. Prior to the Reformation, the emphasis was great on purgatory which was portrayed as a realm to which the souls were subjected to suffering in fire. How Rome portrayed the concept of purgatory historically is downplayed today. Yet, considering that the majority of Christians will go to purgatory, it isn’t a triviality, its impact on Christians cannot be downplayed, thus it speaks volumes that the “state/realm/place” where most Christians go doesn’t muster a single clear passage in Scripture. Instead, we are told that there are “implications” of the doctrine within it, but there is no evidence that these "implications" were interpreted as such by the early church? As medieval scholar Jacques Le Goff proves in his book The Birth of Purgatory, the concept didn't appear in the writings of the church until Clement of Alexandria and Origen. They were those who planted the seeds that would lead to a full-blown doctrine several centuries later. Thus, there is no purgatory in which to call an “…interval, a way station, a pause…” or even a “triviality.”

As a matter of fact, we do not "Realize" that,l and that statement is indicative of the lack of care which characterizes this attempt at a refutation. What churchmouse can reasonably say is that we have no surviving record from before Origen and Clement of "afterlife purgatorial thought". He cannot conclude from that that "there was nothing which even remotely resembled ...." He does not know. (or if He does know, he doesn't show us how he knows.

Using the same logic, the absence of any “surviving record” can mean there was no purgatory to teach. Yet, there are other ways of gleaning that no such concept was being taught in the early church. Not only is there no evidence of it being taught prior to Clement of Alexandria and Origen, but even even Augustine regarded it to be a theory. The question arises: How does one theorize that which is claimed to have been taught historically by the church? Either it was taught or it wasn’t and there would be no need for “theories” if it was truly a teaching of the church. In light of this, Mad Dawg's appeal to silence really doesn’t make much sense. And, yet there are other ways to show that the church didn't teach purgatory, but we'll get to this in a bit.
Succumbing to the temptation to present conjecture as known and demonstrated fact is easy and hard to avoid. In this case it casts doubt on the reliability of the writer.

As I have shown, it is hardly conjecture and CAN be derived from the history of the church. Rather, it is completely illogical to assume that a belief in a purgatory was the norm when there isn't any evidence of even the "recognition" of the concept. Again, why claim it as an Apostolic teaching when these same men aren't aware of such a teaching in the church and are left to speculate it? If purgatory were truly a teaching of the church then WHAT is there to speculate. It seems Mad Dawg's attempt to cast “doubt” isn’t grounded considering he is the one who assents to purgatory, yet doesn't provide any evidence that the church truly taught the concept.
And that doubt is justified, since we find Tertullian writing in the early 200's about 'sacrifices' for the dead being a custom of Christians. I think that would count as "before Origen" and as remotely resembling.
Tertullian doesn’t justify the concept. Le Goff clearly proves that Tertullian held no concept of purgatory in his eschatology. Tertullian believed in the concept of refrigerium (see the link below) which is much like the Orthodox. He believed in an intermediate place (Abraham’s Bosom and the hell of the damned of Luke 16) where the dead enjoy a “foretaste” of their eternal destiny, the righteous in Abraham's Bosom and the wicked in the hell of the damned. There is no comparison. For further evidence of what Tertullian believed, see my blog article here: Purgatory and the earliest Fathers

I wonder what churchmouse thinks of the doctrine of the Trinity and and its mention or lack thereof in the early days.

You know, I’ve always viewed this as a red herring. I don’t need the word “Trinity” present, front and center, to validate what Scripture teaches regarding the Godhead. I view the Trinity as a logical extension of Scripture. The "early days"? What did the Fathers see in the "early days"? Did they appeal to a longstanding “tradition” in the church regarding the Trinity? Or did they appeal to what I use—Scripture! For example, Augustine stated:

"For we behold and see as it were in a divine spectacle exhibited to us, the notice of our God in Trinity, conveyed to us at the river Jordan. For when Jesus came and was baptized by John, the Lord by His servant (and this He did for an example of humility; for He showeth that in this same humility is righteousness fulfilled, when as John said to Him, 'I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?' He answered, 'Suffer it to be so now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled'), when He was baptized then, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a Dove: and then a Voice from on high followed, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' Here then we have the Trinity in a certain sort distinguished. The Father in the Voice,-the Son in the Man,-the Holy Spirit in the Dove. It was only needful just to mention this, for most obvious is it to see. FOR
. For the Lord Christ Himself coming in the form of a servant to John, is doubtlessly the
Son: for it cannot be said that it was the Father, or the Holy Spirit. 'Jesus,' it is said, 'cometh;' that is, the Son of God. And who hath any doubt about the Dove? or who saith, 'What is the Dove?' when the Gospel itself most plainly testifieth, 'The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove.' And in like manner as to that voice there can be no doubt that it is the Father's, when He saith, 'Thou art My Son.' THUS THEN WE HAVE THE TRINITY DISTINGUISHED." (Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, 2:1)

And what about his mentor Ambrose who stated...

""God, then, is One, without violation of the majesty of the eternal Trinity, as is declared in the instance set before us. And not in that place alone do we see the Trinity expressed in the Name of the Godhead; but both in many places, as we have said also above, and especially in the epistles which the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians, he most clearly set forth the Godhead and sovereignty of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit....But if you require the plain statement of the words in which Scripture has spoken of the Spirit as Lord, it cannot have escaped you that it is written: 'Now the Lord is the Spirit.' Which the course of the whole passage shows to have been certainly said of the Holy Spirit....So he not only called the Spirit Lord, but also added: 'But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. So we all with unveiled face, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are formed anew into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord the Spirit;' that is, we who have been before converted to the Lord, so as by spiritual understanding to see the glory of the Lord, as it were, in the mirror of the Scriptures, are now being transformed from that glory which converted us to the Lord, to the heavenly glory." - Ambrose (On the Holy Spirit, 3:14:94, 3:14:101-102)

And Basil certainly wouldn't agree that Scripture is unclear on the matter...

"But all who maintain that either Son or Spirit is a creature, or absolutely reduce the Spirit to ministerial and servile rank, are far removed from the truth. Flee their communion. Turn away from their teaching, They are destructive to souls. If ever the Lord grant us to meet, I will discourse to you further concerning the faith, to the end that you may perceive at once the power of the truth and the rottenness of heresy by Scriptural proof." (Letter 105)

And then there is Gregory of Nyssa who said...
"For that there is a Word of God, and a Spirit of God, powers essentially subsisting, both creative of whatever has come into being, and comprehensive of things that exist, is shown in the clearest light out of the Divinely-inspired Scriptures." (The Great Catechism, 4)

And Hilary of Potiers claimed that he knew of the Trinity through his study of Scripture before he heard the Nicene Creed (forgive me if the Greek fonts don't translate)...
"I call the God of heaven and earth to witness, that when I had heard neither word, my belief was always such that I should have interpreted o0moiou/sion by o0moou/sion. That is, I believed that nothing could be similar according to nature unless it was of the same nature. Though long ago regenerate in baptism, and for some time a bishop, I never heard of the Nicene creed until I was going into exile, but the Gospels and Epistles suggested to me the meaning of o0moou/sion and o0moiou/sion." (On the Councils, or the Faith of the Easterns,
Overall, I'm in good company. I see the Trinity in Scripture without the need for councils, but cannot derive a purgatory in the same way.

But I guess it needs to be said yet
again that the role of "proof from Scripture" is very different in Orthodoxy and
Catholicism from what it is in much of Protestantism.

Excuse typos, etc. In haste here ...

If I asked for “proof from tradition” would Mad Dawg be able to produce purgatory for me? And, ironically, he demeans the Protestant rule of faith and parallels his view with the Orthodox, but regardless of Scripture, tradition, or the authority of the church the Orthodox hold to no such doctrine and yet, claim the same antiquity as Rome. Why is it that the Orthodox share the same history, yet completely deny purgatory? How can one church claim that it was an apostolic teaching while the other denies it was ever taught, yet both claim to have received their teachings from the Apostles? And we are talking about a church that split with the West in the early 11th century? This implies that there was no real purgatorial view in the West until after the schism and none in the East? I think the answer is obvious folks—there was no such teaching in the church and the concept arose later through the musings of two Greek church fathers which would eventually lead to a full-blown belief in purgatory for the West.

Monday, August 13, 2007

On Sola Fide and Canon

Xavier, a Catholic participant at the Bereans Forums, commented and questioned some things I stated regarding Sola Fide. Considering his post also implicates canon issues, I thought I would post it here. If there is a question of context, I would ask that the reader review the original thread found here What Sola Fide Is/Isn't
Xavier's comments will be in blue font and blockquote. Mine's comments remain as is. Citations are in green font and Scripture verses in brown. He states:

It is essential to point out why this statement is misleading.

1.Martin Luther who first defined Sola Fide never thought that works was essential for justification. This is why he had reservation about the canonicity of James. He exerted considerable effort to have James bracketed with the deuterocanonicals all because James was very clear about the role of works in justification.

The doctrine is justification by Faith alone not by Faith and acts of Faith alone.
You are misrepresenting Luther. There were other factors by which Luther judged the epistle of James, the first being that it was questioned in the early centuries of the Church (along with 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, etc.). This is why he held Paul’s view regarding justification over James, of whom Luther thought put a great emphasis on works. The only “misleading” being done here is in your attempt to draw a conclusion by associating his criticism of James TO his views on Sola Fide. Luther recognized clearly that a faith that is alone is no true faith at all. Why else would he state…

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” (Luther’s Works 69:46, 20).

“Accordingly, if good works do not follow, it is certain that this faith in Christ does not dwell in our heart, but dead faith…” (Luther’s Works 34:111)

Again, all the way up to the time of the Reformation, the Catholic Church had no fixed canon and various views abounded as to what comprised canon. Contemporaries of Luther, such as Erasmus, who published the first Greek New Testament in 1516, questioned the canonicity of books such as James, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, Revelation, etc. and cites Jerome as an authority. Cardinal Cajetan, the same who opposed Luther, in his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament commends Jerome for separating the canonical from the uncanonical. We all know that Jerome excluded books which Trent later deemed “canonical.” Cajetan goes even further and brings up Jerome’s skepticism of the book of Hebrews. As Lutheran theologian J.A.O Preus II rightly states in his expository The New Testament Canon in the Lutheran Dogmaticians…

Thus, when Luther in 1522 published his German New Testament with its much-quoted strictures on Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation, he was re-echoing some rather common, though new, thinking of the period. In other words, if Trent had not condemned Luther, his views perhaps would have gone largely unnoticed. Luther rejected these books partly on the basis of historical precedent and partly on the basis of his own rather subjective criterion of canonicity, namely, their seeming lack of witness to Christ.

And then there was Cardlnal Ximenes who, in his Complutensian Polyglot Bible, distinguishes between the apocryphal and the canonical books. My whole point in telling you all this is to show you how you tend to isolate Luther and paint him into someone who would stop at nothing to promote a Sola Fide devoid of works, even at the cost of endorsing the “Luther hated James” straw man once again.

2.Faith alone and Faith that is not alone mutually excludes each other. If Faith
is taken with Charity and Hope, then it is not alone. Faith + Charity +Hope does
not equal Faith Alone. Faith + good works does not equal Faith Alone.

Once again, this is but semantics on your part. The Protestant position is that salvation comes by “faith alone.” That’s it! There is nothing to add to salvation. However, the salvation which comes via “faith alone” does NOT present itself empty, devoid of works. This salvation presents its legitimacy by the works which comes as a result of that salvation. It is a byproduct of true salvation. It is not “faith + good works” but faith alone which results in good works through Christ.

3. St James made it very clear that good works was not a result of justification
but that justification resulted from good works.
Where does James say that justification “results” from good works? You are evidently reading something into James that he isn’t saying, but we’ll see this as we go on.

James 2:21-24
21Was not Abraham our father justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

22So you can see that his faith was working together with his deeds; his faith became perfect by what he did.

23In this way the scripture was fulfilled: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was considered as making him upright; and he received the name 'friend of God'.

24You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified.

25There is another example of the same kind: Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified by her deeds because she welcomed the messengers and showed them a different way to leave?

As shown by James, Faith and Works are distinct but inseparable when it comes to salvation. And this is also taught by Paul who taught that God will give to each person according to what he has done.
It must be remembered that James is addressing “Christians’ who, evidently (from the context of the verse), aren’t helping brethren in need, but WHERE is James equating works to salvation? Especially in light of what other Scriptures say about “salvation” apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:5; Titus 3:5). Usually, it has been my experience to see Catholics isolating these verses FROM what Scripture states elsewhere, but here you divorce these verses from vss. 17-18 where James state very clearly…

Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works.

Furthermore, preceding these verses, James speaks of the hypocrisy of saying one has faith, but fails to help their brethren when they are in need…

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)

Who is it that James is speaking to here? It is the church, to those who claim to be Christians. Given this fact, no, James is NOT saying that works “save.” These folks believe to be saved already. Neither is he saying that the equation of faith and works brings salvation. He is rebuking those who allow needy brethren to walk away in their need under the false superficial religiosity that only serves to disprove their faith. James is telling them the truth—it is “dead faith” to think that salvation exists in a vacuum, void of good works. The type of faith that leads to justification is evidenced by the works which proves this faith. Again, one cannot take verses out of their context and out of what Scripture states as a whole to make a case for their own biases.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sometimes we need to reawaken...

So many people, young and old, profess to be Christians. Many deceive themselves into thinking that, because they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they are therefore "saved." They get caught up in the emotionalism of their "salvation" but never truly show the change that comes with being a child of God. Their lives reflect what they've had before their "conversion", a life without the fruits worthy of repentance. They are "saved" but dishonor their parents. They are "saved" but continue to dress in a manner that dishonors God. Some claim to be "saved" but abuse alcohol and drugs. They are the ones found in churches lifting their hands in praise on Sunday and living like the "unsaved" on Monday. They profess that they "gave their lives to the Lord", but it is clear that all they did was mentally assent to a notion that--by saying a small prayer--they are somehow miraculously "saved." The life of repentance is lost under the delusion of their prefabricated assumptions about salvation. Only Christ is able to bring convinction of sin. Only Christ is capable of saving the sinner. Only Christ is capable of bringing a change in the sinner because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), we are unclean, thus the only righteousness God will accept is the righteousness of His Son.

Pastor Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society, who has worked in a variety of missions, such as Romania, Peru and Zambia, preached an eye-opening "in your face" sermon before a gathering of 5,000 people. It is a sermon which speaks to all. It is a cry for repentance in the church. Please listen with an open mind and an open heart. For those with slower connection speeds, you can download the mp3 file via Sermon Audio here: A Shocking Message to the Church

(*Before viewing the video, don't forget to turn off the music. You can do so by going to the bottom of this page and clicking the pause button)

Who links to my website?