Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THE POWER OF LOVE

Thank God this doesn't happen often in this life: 

God's discipline. 

I am not writing about just any discipline, but a different type. Sometimes discipline isn't about being punished for something you did, but enduring suffering for something someone else has done. God is disciplining you in self-sacrifice for someone else.

Hebrews 12:
For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 
****************


You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect...
There are moments when you stand in front of a fire and you peer into it not knowing how deep or how hot the flames are. But what you do know is that someone you love set this fire whether on purpose or not and that you have to walk through it.
...for our “God is a consuming fire.” 
It may be excruciating--since you could stay where you are, or walk away. Nothing is making you walk through it; nothing except that you know it is the right thing to do
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 
You may not feel love towards the person who put you in such a position. In fact, you may feel deep rage. Perhaps you didn't deserve this. You may be the innocent party having to suffer the unbearable consequences of someone else's choices or mistakes. Maybe the person started this fire from doing something catastrophically selfish or stupid or without thinking. 
They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.
You run through the list of good excuses. There are a thousand legitimate reasons why you should not have to be selfless and put this stupid or irresponsible person ahead of yourself. You know it is unjust and unfair for you to have to suffer. 
Why is it always you who has to be unselfish? 
Why is it always you who has to be courageous?
Why is it always you who has to quietly suffer heartbreak? 
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. 
It doesn't matter now. Someone has to walk through the fire. In the end, no logical explanation is going to solve the problem, the right thing is to walk through this blinding, searing fire of humiliation and pain for the love of another.

Somehow, if you do the right thing, you trust that God will heal this. "Though You slay me, yet will I serve You," you grit your teeth and power-yell out to the cosmos. You steel yourself and take many deep breaths. All you know is that you must walk through it to do the right thing.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
At those moments, I pray you will feel very close to
Christ in the Garden crying out to God, "Please let this cup pass from me, but not my will, Oh Lord, not my will but thine be done!" 
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
The moment may very well feel like your own personal crucifixion. 

If you have to ask yourself if you have ever been through this type of experience, I can assure you, you haven't. You know if you have walked through the fire, for you will have the scars; you cannot escape the memory of the burn, the self-sacrifice. Perhaps this moment for you was miraculous act of forgiveness or giving up your lifelong dream or a set of beliefs you hold dear. Maybe the Lord called or is calling you to move or to stay or to love when someone doesn't deserve or even want your love. 
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. 
Or perhaps it really is something you have done to yourself. This is a self-inflicted fire and God is asking you to stop doing something you are addicted to. 
...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 
You are staring into to the fire of obedience and you know it will kill you to walk into it--or at least feel like it will kill you. But, you know it is the right thing
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 
Walk through it on your knees. God will never send you alone into this situation. It is going to hurt like nothing has ever hurt you before. 
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
But when you are out and on the other side (usually some distance) you will never regret for even a moment that you went through it. You will feel forged like steel and stronger. In fact, you will be stronger through God's grace. 
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. 
Then, when it is over, then you will understand love in a whole new way. You will look at the Cross in a whole new way. And you will thank God that He gave you the courageous grace to walk through to authentic love.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Church Christ Started is a Family



Daily, I have Protestants challenging me about my Catholic faith showing me texts of scripture that supposedly prove that Catholicism isn't Biblical. 

And here is the problem: we are simply not going to agree on Biblical interpretation. Catholics have a very different understanding of the church. Once you see that, it will help you understand how to approach a Catholic. 

Here is the Christian worldview of a Catholic: 
Christ started His New Covenant family at Pentecost with the Catholic Church. When you are baptized into that church, you enter a family covenant with God. Christ becomes your brother, God becomes your father. And all those who have been baptized are your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

You may not get all the family rules right or even understand the family rules. But that doesn't make you less of a family member. Are your biological brothers and sisters perfect? Of course not. It is not logical to demand that they be perfect. 

See a Protestant is looking for a church with perfect theology--or one that best fits the person's interpretation of theology. They believe the church they deem has the scriptural truth is the one God wants them to be a part of. 

Catholics believe Christ started the Catholic Church and is revealing Truth to them through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Even if they don't get theology perfect, that doesn't mean the church is wrong anymore than if your dad were to give you wrong directions or were to blame you for something you didn't do makes him less your father. If we are family, we are family through Christ, not perfect theology. And not perfect behavior from the kids. 

Catholics are family. We are struggling to understand truth together. If some of the children don't quite understand Catholic teachings, that doesn't make the family break up. 

So it is really useless to say, "Your priests are bad." Because if someone said to you, "Your dad is bad." That just makes you ashamed, it doesn't make him less your dad.

If someone said to you, "Your family is stupid for believing God wants babies baptized." Well, even if that were totally true, even if Catholics were 
absolutely wrong about some teachings, that still would not take away the fact their Father is God and that Christ died for their sins. 

Theology isn't the measurement of whether a church is the right church. We look to the church Christ started and understand it is a group of people struggling to live up to the name of Christ. That's how we look at it. We look to Who is the Truth, not what is the truth. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

THE JOY OF LOVING!



If you are not involved in cyberspace Catholic interfamily drama--be happy! Be very happy. But if you cringe in pain when you hear these names referenced:
Rad-Trad, SSPX, Rorate Caeli, Michael Voris, Catholic Match, the spirit of Vatican II, Cardinal Dolan, Mark Shea, Bill Donohue, Bishop Robert Barron, National Catholic Reporter....
Then you probably will get why I am writing the next word: 





While there always seems to be something to disagree about (especially in politics); in the last year the Catholic factions have been talking about: how many people go to hell. What percentage of humans will end up rejecting eternity with Christ?

Michael Voris believes, like many saints, that the vast majority of souls will chose hell rather than obedience to God and an eternity with Him. I prefer Bishop Barron's hope that all may be saved. 

Lets be abundantly clear, though: The Catholic Church answers with the same voice as Christ when He was asked who can be saved?

"Things impossible with man are possible with God." 
God did not tell us how many will choose hell.  

However, I am going to live as if there may be a lot of people who choose hell. 

What do I mean by that? 


Well, I think of what I would feel like if I were God and had some precious children who would refuse to ever be acquainted with me (their father or mother). Children who never came to my house; never got my birthday cards, nor answered by phone calls. My little babies who would ignore my love for them while on earth and then hate me so much that they would prefer hell to me for all eternity. I would never be able to reach out and hold them, kiss them, show they my love. That would be so heartbreaking! 

However, what if I had a child who was very close to me, who talked to me daily and spent a lot of time in my home? What if that child could relate my love to the other child who rejected me? Not that they would go directly their sibling and say..."Hey this is from mom," but simply be my love. Love them for me. Touch them with my love. Help them. I would feel like for those moments I got to be connected to that child who hated me and pour out my love for that child through the child who loved me. As their mother, I got to make that connection with that child even if only for a
fleeting moment; even if it was the only connection I got for all eternity. 

I think about that when it comes to God's love for His children who hate Him.

So, if God wants me to connect Him to the children who hate Him, those who refuse to love Him or even accept His love, then I volunteer! 
I want to be that connection of God to His children. His heart, through my heart to the heart of the other child. You have the supernatural honor of being the conduit, where such great love can reach down and grasp the beloved. Wouldn't that be wonderful?! 

What a privilege to pour forth such love to everyone you meet, that God has a direct contact with all those He created, even the ones who may eventually chose to reject eternity with Him. 

And maybe, just maybe, when those who hate Him see Christians pouring out that kind of love, there will be less souls who chose hell. 










Wednesday, July 20, 2016

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

This is how I see Christianity:

The Catholic Church is a city shining on a hill. Just like the colonnade reaching out from St. Peter's basilica into the piazza in Rome, the Church is the arms of God embracing
everyone who enters her gates. And the gates are always opened for anyone who wishes to go in or to leave and go back to the world. Love always embraces its beloved without locking its arms, giving the beloved room for escape. 

Those who enter her often become discouraged by the flood of sickened, wretched and pitiable souls at her entrance. Many have given every ounce of their strength to make it and collapse with exhaustion just as they step inside. But do not be discouraged. The fount of life is inside.

The longer we live inside this city--this Kingdom of Heaven on earth now, a foretaste of what is to come--the more we understand the beauty of its laws and the lavish love of its Creator. As the church, His Bride, gives herself to Him in the eternal dance of love, as the Church learns the steps and is more easily guided by Him, we can abandon ourselves to ecstasy of holiness.


Each of us who call ourselves Christians are an important, vitally important, light in that city. At home in our Father's arms, our lights are fueled by His love and as we are obedient, the fire of our righteousness blazes brilliantly. 

This communal light, harmoniously synthesized together as One Body, shines across the distant, dark world calling out to those who are seeking the warmth and safety of illumination. All those who are weary and confused, all those sick from sin, those who are lonely or despair, all who yearn for
authentic love and the light of truth are able to see God's heavenly love lit up through His people inside the Kingdom. This is the great hope of the world. This is salvation and the good news of God's Kingdom. And each one of our lights matter. 

There is great mercy upon those wee flickering, ephemeral lights of the wounded who have stumbled so recently (or not so recently) into the kingdom. Their lamps must often be reignited from the oil of those stronger flames around them. But each lamp is called by God to grow in His grace. For His promise is true. You shall receive as you give, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, into your heart. 

And as we increase in this fiery righteousness, the brighter and farther our illumination will reach. That is why God desires that we follow Him even closer--never tiring of prayer, never giving up the spiritual fight, never giving into temptation--that through the obedience of faith, we may receive greater graces to bring those lost and lonely souls into the protective Kingdom of God. 

That is why we wish to be holy. It is for the sake of others. Holiness is not for ourselves, it is our life poured out so that others may see Christ through our light. Christ's light shining out of us is what will heal the wounded, bind the broken-hearted, and show people the cross in the most intimate of ways. 

Do not fail to become holy. Your light is vital. Burn brightly. You may never see the results, you may feel your light has failed, but burn the brighter, for there in the distance is a fragile, hurting soul who will see it and it will give them the hope to pull themselves out of the quicksand of despair and head towards the Kingdom. 






Tuesday, July 12, 2016

HOW DONALD TRUMP IS LIKE GIDEON (Judges 6 & 7 Bible Story)


The story of Gideon from the Bible in the book of Judges, chapter 6 begins by reporting that Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord and so He gave them seven years of terrorism by the Midianites. Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help. An angel from God came to Gideon who was secretly threshing wheat. God said to him, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Then the angel gave him the command to lead Israel into battle against the Midianites, leaving none alive.

We join the story in verse 25:
 “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
In the morning, the townspeople were outraged and demanded that whoever cut down the Asherah pole be executed. Gideon's father, Joash replied, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

The Asherah pole must have been rather large for everyone in the town to notice its absence first thing in the morning. Because the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern people joined forces and crossed the river preparing to fight Israel. Gideon sent messengers to rally Israel's troops to defend Israel.

The story continues in chapter 7:

Early in the morning, Gideon and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’
The Lord gave Gideon several ways to weed out those who had no courage by testing them in various ways. And so the army's size went from thirty-two thousand down to three hundred. Gideon divided them into three groups, gave them trumpets and torches. As they descended into the camp, three groups blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”
  "When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled..."

_______________________________________________________________________

While reading the story of Gideon this morning, it dawned on me how this story is a mirror of what is going on in our nation today. 

We have made an idol out of political correctness. While some of political correctness deals with non-moral issues, much of it is the fear of being "judgmental" about God's laws.

No one breathes a word about sin and the grotesque abominations of the twisted ideas of gender and the family. Into the midst of our country that has always had a Christian culture, we have allowed a idol to the god of perversion to be erected and everyone is terrified to go and cut it down.

As far as I can tell, with my limited view, we have only two politicians who have strongly come out against this monolithic idol in a very public way: Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump. 

Of the two, why has Donald Trump been more successful in stirring the momentum of America against this tower of political correctness? Why not Ben Carson?

Ben Carson : Moral Gravitas

Dr. Carson has a background of moral fiber. He is a resolute, successful man of integrity and honesty. Carson has moral gravitas, but what he lacked was the passion of a great leader. Men want to follow a man of charisma, of visual powerful determination. (Note: While Ted Cruz had this, he came across as a southern preacher rather than a statesman.) Carson is a teacher, not a leader. He did not have the ability to stir an outnumbered few to action as did the real Henry Vth in the battle of St. Crispin's day dramatized in the video above. Carson, personally, has the backbone, the guts; but he has no ability to inspire in others to strive and sacrifice for the same backbone and guts. 

Donald Trump: Capitalistic Gravitas


Mr. Trump is a capitalist. He lacks a history of conservatism and the USA's traditional moral values. However, Trump has something Carson and Cruz never had. He had the charisma to walk up to Ba'al's tower of political correctness in America  and cut it down. It was terrifying and breathtaking all at the same time. He toppled what was enslaving us. Cruz and Carson did it to, but they didn't do it like Patton. That is what Trump did. But he did it for different reasons than Cruz and Carson.

Trump is a hero for those whose god is fame, fortune and promiscuity. He knows how to rally the troops by tickling the ears of his Christian conservative listeners and then maneuvering and leveraging to get what he wants. And make no mistake about it, he will play the conservatives, perhaps throwing us a bone with a few conservative Supreme Court nominations, and Christians across the US, will bow in prostrate servitude to him for throwing us the crumbs off his table. (And I am including myself in this, for I see no way out of having to cast my vote for him in order to prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency.)  He has us all under his fist already. 




And I fear that most Christians in the US will fall for the Trump charisma that elevates personal rights and freedoms above their duty to God and just assume a president who stands for American capitalism will stand American Christianity. And right now, the distinction between the two that has been blurred for two centuries is becoming clearer. There is now a demand to choose between patriotism and obedience to God. Trump may look like Gideon because he took down the Ba'al's idol. But Trump is no Gideon. 


Bishops and Pastors

You are the ones called to be Gideon. You don't need political power. You don't need tens of millions of votes. God chose only three hundred out of over thirty thousand.What you need is the fire of the Holy Spirit. In the Biblical story of Gideon, it says that God's Spirit came upon Gideon. 

That is all you need pastors. Pray for the courage you need to rally the Christian troops with the passion of God. Thrust from your breast the fist of fear that is protecting your heart and soul. Do not ignore the idol of Ba'al looming over the US from sea to shining sea. There is silence among our Christian leaders as families fall apart because of disobedience to Christ. Our shameful secrets have been exposed and instead of seeking repentance, we are now glorying in them. Do not sit by wringing your hands while our children are falling prey to the Father of lies. 

Set ablaze your anointed hands with the fiery sword of the Spirit that Christians may light our torches upon them. Give us the leadership we need to join you in sounding our trumpets to war in this spiritual battle. Shout loudly enough that the word will hear, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

Catholic bishops and priests, Protestant pastors: BE GIDEON!  Let the truths of Christ ring out boldly against the moral depths to which we have fallen. Do not fear for numbers, God doesn't need numbers he needs men of passion, men willing to strike down Ba'al in the form of Planned Parenthood, families collapsing because of divorce, pornography, indifference, sexual perversion, media distortions. The wolves are devouring the flocks. Time to stand against them. 











Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Alister Begg's Podcast Series on the Church

Alister Begg is senior pastor at Parkside Church 
near Cleveland, Ohio. He is an author and his canty Scottish brogue is heard on his daily radio program, Truth For Life. His series called, "What is the Church" was recommended so I listened to several of the broadcasts.While he sticks to mainline Protestantism, I enjoy hearing him. I believe him to be a Christian who had dedicated his life to Christ. And who couldn't like anyone who so favors FOX News priest-commentator, Father Jonathon Morris?
 However, as a Catholic I have to stress to his listeners that he doesn't get a lot correct when it comes to understanding Catholicism. It's strange he almost brags that Catholics complain that he twists their beliefs. 

Perhaps we should, gently as possible, deconstruct some of his assertions so that the light of God's love and truth will bring us together in unity.  

Pastor Begg asserts that Christ is the head of the Church--not humans. As correct as that sounds, it doesn't work in reality. If taken literally, Begg would have to admit that if Christ is the head of the church, why do we need a pastor? Why do we need a Bible? Let us explain this with a sports analogy:

GOD'S SPORTS TEAM

If the Kingdom of Heaven (the Church) was a sports team, we could think of the coach as the local pastor and the rule book as the Bible. While these are necessities for playing the game, what if there is someone offsides or seems to foul? Imagine if the doctrine of sola scriptura was the final authority for this sports teams. It would be total chaos, for the Bible gives us general rules, but can't make calls on specific plays. Nor are we able to ask God. 

There must be a human referee. God understood that and gave us His authoritative Church. (Very similar to what Jesus says in Matthew 18 and I Tim. 3: 16. When there are disputes, the Church is the final word.) A game without a referee, based solely on the rule book would be miserable because everyone would be insisting on his own take of the rules and plays.

In the first of the Church series, Begg quotes Pastor John Stott as saying that many Christians reject the authority of scripture, preferring their own teaching, neglect study, fail to relate the Bible to the real world, manipulate it into meaning what they want it to mean, selecting, discarding, and substituting the Word down to threadbare speculations. 

And yet Stott disagreed with Begg on several subjects including one of the most basic Christian beliefs--the nature of eternal hell. And Begg disagrees with many other Protestants on the necessity of confessing sin. So are Protestant scholars neglecting, selecting, discarding, substituting the Word? I doubt that Stott would say that about Begg. And yet they disagree on how to interpret scripture. 

God knew we would need a theological referee. Even if His authority isn't perfect and makes a wrong call, Christ knew that without the referee, no one would ever attend a game. It would take the point out of it. For everyone would go about doing what was right in their own eyes. 

PERSPICUITY OF SCRIPTURE

Pastor Begg, as do most Protestant pastors, teaches that the Bible is so clear that the lay person can read and interpret it correctly. And yet, to make his points about scripture, he regularly goes to the original Greek and Hebrew. If the scripture is so apparent, why would anyone need to learn the original language? Why would anyone need to know the historical context? Why would anyone need to know hermeneutics and exegesis? Why would Christ need a church and set up teachers? This flies in the face of both reality and logic. As well as undermines the actual teaching of scripture. For the teaching of scripture is most clearly that the church is the foundation and pillar of truth and the final authority for the Christian. (See Matt. 18. I Tim. 3: 16) 

I love analogies, so I ask your patience for one more. Christ is both the head of the church and the family and the individual Christian. And yet if the children are fighting the kids don't go to scripture and decide for themselves who is correct. 

A Protestant pastor saying that the Bible is the final authority for the Christian is a self-defeating and logical fallacy something similar to a person saying, "Don't believe one word that I say." (Should we believe that?) 

Begg absolutely and authoritatively declares that Christians are obligated to believe that the final authority is the Bible. Why should I listen to him, then? Because with all sincerity, I go to scriptures and find that God gives His final authority to the Catholic Church. 

Now to Alister Begg's two broadcast on the The Nature and Meaning of the Lord's Supper.

DEFINITION OF SACRAMENT

Pastor Begg begins by defining a sacrament as,"an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace" as written by, interestingly, the 5th-century Catholic bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine. The reason that Pastor Begg does not use a scriptural text to define the term sacrament is because the word is nowhere found in the Bible. It is completely a Catholic concept.

Note: The Wycliff and the Douay-Rheims versions are the only translations that use the word Sacrament and only in a handful of New Testament verses. However, the definition of sacrament means something quite different than a sign of grace. These translations go back to a much earlier usage that means hidden truths. Some of the texts also use it to mean dispensations or in the fullness of time. So there is actually no time the Bible ever uses the word sacrament as it is being used by Pastor Begg. So Pastor Begg must go to St. Augustine to get a definition of the Catholic term: sacraments.


He claimed that the meaning of the term changed over time, originally meaning a sign or symbol and that it was only after the time of St. Augustine that the church began to refer to it as containing and conveying grace. Since he did not give any source for that statement, no one can verify if there were some early church fathers quotes that back up his statement.

However, if you read the early church's discussions of what Catholics would eventually call sacraments, they did believe they were efficacious in conveying grace, even if they didn't have a fully developed theology to clarify what the church always believed.

He challenged Christians to find seven sacraments in scripture. The problem with that, as we wrote before, the word sacrament isn't in scripture. So one would have to look for a word or phrase that means an outward sign of inward grace. Which there is none. Therefore Pastor Begg changed the definition to ordinances. Which the word ordinance is not found in the New Covenant but to roundly condemned it. So he brings in a third definition to try and discern what a sacrament is: the public profession of our faith.

This definition is utterly dissimilar to Catholic's definition of a sacrament. Then he says we can find only two sacraments that meet this Biblical criteria—baptism and the Lord's Supper. So now we are speaking of the Protestant definition and not the Catholic definition. But even within that new context, we do not understand why marriage or holy orders wouldn't fit that definition. They are both public professions of our faith. Especially marriage which, if performed by the church, emphasized the correlation between marriage and the church being one flesh and the Bride of Christ. 

Begg tells us that if a sacrament contradicts the Bible it is not a sacrament. However, the sacrament of marriage and the priesthood doesn't contradict scripture. Under this new Protestant definition we could easily find four sacraments: the Lord's supper, Baptism, Marriage and the Holy Orders.

Then Begg brings up that baptism's grace does not remove original sin. However, he did not indicate any Bible verse that would support his view because original sin is another theology that comes from Catholicism.

Since the Bible does not refer to sacraments, it is interesting that Begg would make the statement that the Bible says that sacraments are symbols. Again, this is his interpretation of Catholic concepts not based in scripture, but based in tradition.

PROTESTANT DEATH FOR DOCTRINE

Begg becomes impassioned as he reminds Protestants that some of the Reformers died in a fiery death, so it behooves them to stand firm on the beliefs of the Protestant martyrs. 

The logic of this falls apart because Catholics were persecuted and martyred for their beliefs. In fact, often by the Protestants. Because people are willing to die for a belief does not make it ipso facto true. Anabaptists died for their beliefs. David Koresh and the branch Dividians as well as radical Moslems are willing to die for their beliefs. What if people die for a falsehood? 

In fact, many of the most bitter disagreements between the Protestants themselves that led to these martyrdoms were precisely because they disagreed on Biblical interpretations. This shows that the Bible is not always clear, nor does it claim to be perspicuous.  


FAITH ALONE?

Alistair Begg says that the true understanding of the Catholic sacrifice of the mass is clearly salvific. If you beleive wrongly you may be damned. 

Therefore I must take issue with Begg claiming this and also teaching sola fide or faith alone at the same time. For salvation, he is including proper doctrine and faith. Protestants, unfortunately, continually claim that a Christian must absolutely understand the correct doctrine of child baptism. Or absolutely understand the correct doctrine of baptism as a symbol and not regenerative. Or absolutely understand that baptism cannot be pouring but immersion. Or absolutely understand that it is a believers' baptism. 
These doctrinal requirements of baptism seem to add significantly to faith thus destroying the "alone" part. Protestants actually teach faith plus correct doctrine.


SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

It astonishes myself and anyone who has ever attended a Catholic mass that Pastor Begg would say that, "when you observe the sacrifice of the mass you understand why there is hardly any scriptures at all." Has he ever  been to a mass? Unfortunately this statement alone destroys his credibility in the area of Catholicism. The mass is nothing but scripture from the three readings to the songs to the prayers. The entire first half is dedicated to scripture.  

THE EUCHARIST AS THE SUMMIT 

Pastor Begg seems to be scandalized that not the gospel, but the Eucharist is to the Catholic the source and summit of our faith. If there ever was an example of semantics this is it. 

The source and summit means that the mass gives us the totality of the gospel. The mass tells us the entire gospel story from the first to the last in prayers and scripture. We go back to the cross. That--the Cross--is the source and summit of all Christians. 

Begg claims: 

1. The Mass is Idol Worship
We are worshipping Christ and not the bread and wine. How can you idolize Christ? That is impossible. Christ is God. 

2. The Mass is Re-crucifying Christ
It would be impossible for Catholic priests to re-crucify Christ unless God gave them that authority. But, Catholics vehemently reject the assertion that we are re-crucifying Christ! That is against scripture. We are re-presenting the one sacrifice of the Cross. Every time a Protestant asks God to forgive his sin, in essence he is also re-presenting the Cross. 

Christ commanded His disciples to do this in remebrance of him, thus, we are repeating the Lord's Supper that He did with his disciples. Are we doing a new one? Absolutely not. Just as the Passover was once and for all, when the Jews celebrated Pasch, they understood they re-presented it as if they were reliving it again. They were making it present in their liturgy. It is in a sense bilocating.

When we celebrate anniversaries with our spouse we are not getting remarried, we are in a much more superficial sense reliving our commitment. If we were remarried, then I would understand the problem.


3: The Eucharistic Sacrament is not a Saving Ordinance
We have to ask ourselves as Christians, does Pastor Begg have the authority to make a positive assertion that his interpretation of scripture is absolutely unquestionable? That he knows for a fact that it is solely symbolic when Christ specifically says that if you are to have life in you, you must eat His Body? I would think you would have to be absolutely certain about this interpretation, for it can be absolutely salvific if you take Christ's words literally. How does he and we know that his interpretation of John 6 is the authoritative one?

He brings up the instance where the thief on the cross did not partake of the body and blood of Christ as a sacrament, yet Christ said to him that he would be in Paradise. 

Firstly, the thief spoke his faith in Christ before Christ died. Pentecost hadn't come, when the New Covenant was formally instituted. Also remember all commandments of Christ are for us to obey who follow Him. He can change the rules for anyone He wants; He is sovereign. He has ways of saving we are not privy to. There is a huge difference in not knowing to do something and hearing Christ's commandment but disobeying Him.


4. Wrongly considered an application of the Atonement
Scripture teach that when we are repentant and ask forgiveness we are forgiven but not before hand. That is how Jesus can say that if we don't forgive we will not be forgiven. That is how he can say to the Apostles whatsoever you forgive will be forgiven. Forgiveness happens after we repent and not before or why are we not all in heaven now? If we are all forgiven without our freewill choice to repent why aren't all saved?  

THE EARLY CHURCH


Pastor Begg made a false historical statement that the early Christian (Ante-Nicene Church) didn't beleive in the real presence. This is easily refuted.


FlRST CENTURY

AD 70
The Didache

Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24].

SECOND CENTURY

Ignatius of Antioch. Antioch
was the town where the followers of Christ first were called "Christians." After Jerusalem fell in AD 70, this was the main hub of Christianity until Rome. Ignatius, born less than twenty year after the Cross, was instructed in the faith, anointed and ordained as bishop by the Apostle John. He also met other of the Apostles and disciples who spoke to and learned from Christ., He wrote the following letters after many decades as the bishop of Antioch as he was on his way to Rome to be martyred. Keep in mind that when the books of the New Testament were being decided upon, the church went back to these early church fathers to authenticate the gospels and epistles. (As there were many spurious letters claiming to be written by one of the Apostles.)


AD 110 From the Letter to the Romans:

I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible.

AD 110 From the Letter to the Smyrneans:

Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the
Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. 

AD 110 From the Letter to the Philadelphians

Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice—even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God.

Justin Martyr

AD 151 From the First Apology, 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 [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ 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 nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus. 

AD 155 From the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 41

God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles . . . [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist. 

Irenaeus
AD 189 From Against Heresies 4:33–32: 5: 2  

"If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?"  

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" 

THIRD CENTURY 
Cyprian of Carthage
AD 251  From The Lapsed 15–16 

"He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. All these warnings being scorned and contemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord" 

FOURTH CENTURY
Cyril of Jerusalem
AD 350 From the Catechetical Lectures 19:7 and 22: 6, 9

"The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ" 

"Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul"


FIFTH CENTURY
Ambrose of Milan
AD 403 Homilies on Hebrews 17:3, 6

"Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ" (The Mysteries 9:50, 58 [A.D. 390]).

What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice" 

Theodore of Mopsuestia
AD 405 From Catechetical Homilies 5:1 

"When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood’; for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit" 

Augustine
AD 411 From Sermons 227, 272

"I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ"

"What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction." 

Council of Ephesus
AD 431 From Session 1, Letter of Cyril to Nestorius  

"We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving"

I enjoy listening to Pastor Alister Begg, however, he truly needs to become more acquainted with Catholicism. I consider him a brother-in-Christ and it is with great sadness that I hear that he feels Catholics are not within the definition of Christian. He in essence excommunicates us. And that is the problem with rejecting God's authoritative voice (referee) in Christendom. Everyone believes they personally have the right to excommunicate others depending upon their own personal interpretation of scripture. 

May God more fully reveal His will to each one of us and may we be humble enough to obey Him at every step of His revelation. Blessings.












Friday, July 1, 2016

Understanding the Catholic Perspective (for Debating Purposes)

For over fifteen years I have been reading and listening to debates between Catholics and Protestants. I have been on both sides of the discussion in that time. 

What I have discovered is that every single discussion, every single one without exception, comes down to the authority issue. Who or what is God's authority: Is it a church or a book? Upon this question hinges all theological disagreement. If you don't believe me, have a debate on any topic that causes division between us and take it to its logical conclusion. 

Protestants believe scripture is God's final authority. 
Catholics believe the church is God's final authority. 

So, in order for us to respect each other and listen without hearts open, instead of with our minds closed, we need to understand each other's sincerely-held perspective. 

When a Protestant wants to dialogue with a Catholic, they must first and foremost understand that Catholics have been convinced that Christ started the Catholic Church. 

We don't believe in in the doctrines of sola scriptura or in sola fide because we believe Christ started a church.

We remain faithful to the pope, not because we like him or think he is infallible or pray to him or think he is God. We remain faithful to the bishop in Rome because we believe Christ started a church.

We are horrified by the priestly scandal and the witch trials and the inquisition and all other things the people in the church have done over its 20 centuries. We understand Judases infiltrate us and people fail God but God will not fail Catholicism because we believe Christ started a church.

IF Christ started a Church and He gave it His authority, we will be a part of that church and obey her.... because of our love for Christ. Just as we obey our biological fathers because Christ told us to. It is about obedience. Because Christ started a church. 


Now on the other hand:

Catholics need to understand that Protestants do not accept Marian Dogmas, the Councils, the rosary, the sacraments, the sacrifice of the mass,  the pope, the saints, purgatory. They do not believe Christ started the Catholic Church. They believe Christ gave us a Bible.

We must respectfully engage in dialogue understanding the other's perspective. All the demands of a Protestant that Catholics "show them in scripture" that a belief is true, is only attempting to bolster the Protestant position in the Protestant mind, because it does nothing to impress a Catholic. 

That is like a stranger coming upon a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Smith and demanding proof they are married. Then assuming if they can't produce a certificate right then and there it means they aren't married.Then the stranger walks off believing he has really shown them how unmarried they are. That type of encounter means nothing to the couple who were at their own marriage. 

For us to ever really accept each other as Christians--which may not be some Protestants objective when they discuss things with us--we need to be gracious and respectful when we dialogue. We need to know enough about with whom we are discussing to have a logical and fruitful debate. Blessings. 

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