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Friday, June 2, 2017

"Eternal Life" according to Scripture

I thought I had written a dedicated post about the Biblical teaching on "eternal life," but after doing a search it seems I only wrote about it in passing (e.g. Here and Here). As with many of my posts, the heart of good apologetics is defining key theological terms according to the Bible. Most theological errors are due to people unconsciously assigning their own definitions to key theological terms, which results in building other theological conclusions on an faulty foundation. In this case, many people will read verses such as "whomever believes in him will have eternal life" (Jn 3:15) as if it were saying once you accept the Gospel your spot in heaven is secure forever. This is understandable, but it's a serious mistake and even misses the beauty of such texts. 
 
Doing a simple word search, the term "eternal life" appears in approximately 45 verses in the Bible. To keep this post short, I wont go through every verse, but you can and should follow the link to see the verses for yourself. The key verses I want to highlight are as follows:
  • John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
  • John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
  • John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  • 1 John 3:14-15 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him
In these passages from John, it is clear that "eternal life" is not something that comes in the future, it is not a ticket to heaven, but rather it is something you presently experience. In John's mind, to have "eternal life" means you have a relationship with the Trinity, the Trinity dwells within you. You "know" the Father and the Son, you have a spring of water flowing within, you have passed from spiritual death to inner spiritual life. In short, you have "eternal life abiding within" yourself (1 Jn 3:15). So all those times in John when Jesus says "believe and you will have eternal life," this is simply saying if you believe Jesus is your Savior, you will be in communal relationship with the Trinity. This communion can obviously be broken, as we see Adam originally had communion and fell, and 1 John 3:15 warns that mortal sin will result in no longer having eternal life in yourself (unless you repent). 

It is understandable why the term "eternal life" would confuse many, but it's pretty clear once you stop and try to understand the term from John's mystical perspective. That said, now it's time to look at how the term "eternal life" is used by Paul and other Apostles, because we will see a different usage than John's. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Are we saved by Wine Alone? (The Apostolic dogma of mixing of Water & Wine in the Chalice.)

Most of us know that during the Sacrifice of the Mass there comes a point when the priest is preparing the chalice when he mixes water with the wine prior to Consecration. I have always seen this as a beautiful 'ritual', but until recently I didn't realize how plainly it was included in Early Church Father writings and that the Church has always insisted it is part of proper celebration of the Eucharist. In this post I want to quote some of the ancient sources I found testifying to this practice, and from there I want to bring up the question of how this squares with Sola Scriptura. (This is another post in my How Liturgy Refutes Protestantism series, see HERE and HERE for two of the main articles.) 

Here are some early Church testimonies I came across: 
  • Justin, AD150 (First Apology, Sec65):
    There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father . . . those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true . . . Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings
  • Irenaeus, AD180 (Against Hereies Bk4:Ch33):
    Moreover, how could the Lord, with any justice, if He belonged to another father, have acknowledged the bread to be His body, while He took it from that creation to which we belong, and affirmed the mixed cup to be His blood? ... (Bk5:Ch2) When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported
    ... (Bk5:36) For the Lord also taught these things, when He promised that He would have the mixed cup new with His disciples in the kingdom

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How Protestants violate Paul's instructions on married clergy. (1 Timothy 3:2)

Protestants often bring up 1 Timothy 3:2 against Catholicism's rules on married clergy. Protestants say that Paul plainly says a Minister must be married, and thus Catholicism must use "traditions of men" to enforce celibacy to get around Paul's requirement for Church ministry. The irony here is that Catholicism actually does follow Paul's rules, and it is Protestants who pretty blatantly violate them. Let's first take a look at the passage in question and then I'll show why Protestants don't take the Bible as seriously as they think they do.
1 Timothy 3: 2 Therefore an overseer [Pastor/Minister] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
The first thing to note is that Paul is talking about candidates for ordination here, Paul is not talking about those already ordained. This is important because Paul is saying that the married man who seeks ordination must already be married and he must already have children (note the plural). Nothing in this text indicates someone already ordained can still get married later on, and yet Protestants teach someone who is already a Pastor can still do these things after ordination. In fact, Protestant seminaries typically consist of young men studying for ordination, and of these young men a good number of them aren't already married, and an even larger percentage of them don't have children (note the plural) yet. Thus, Protestants are blatantly violating Paul's teaching here, all the while thinking they are following Paul's teaching. So Protestants should be careful when using this verse against Catholicism, because any Protestant seminarian who is not married, or married without more than one child, or even infertile, is thus prohibited from ordination based on their own Protestant logic!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When was Jerusalem sacked by the Babylonians? (A huge Jehovah's Witnesses apologetics find.)

I've been interacting with some Jehovah's Witnesses and I've focused most of our discussion on their key 1914AD Doctrine. The year 1914AD is important for world history because that was the year World War I began. The JWs claim that, decades earlier, they were able to use the Bible to know 'something big' would happen in 1914, and thus by accurately predicting WWI while everyone else was caught off guard, this signifies the JWs are God's true Christian body on earth. There is certainly some appeal to this claim, since if the Bible does predict such a major event, then those who were able to recognize this prophecy certainly hold some clout within Christian history. I've already spoken about this doctrine on a dedicated post a while ago (HERE - not a prerequisite for this article), but since my recent interactions I've learned about a more elegant, yet equally devastating argument which I'd like to present now. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Does falling away from the faith mean you were never really saved in the first place? (1 John 2:19)

Many Protestants teach that you cannot lose your salvation, so when a person "falls away" from the faith, some of these Protestants conclude that this person was never really saved in the first place. Their favorite prooftext for this claim is 1 John 2:19. Their interpretation is quite convenient, but is actually quite unreasonable, and it's is hurtful towards Christians who struggle with sin (thinking they might never have been saved). 

To begin, consider the context of 1 John 2:19,
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
These Protestants read 2:19 as saying these people who "went out" of the community by apostasy demonstrate that they never really were saved, since true Christians remain in the community. This interpretation is somewhat understandable, but it is very weak when you consider the context, the Greek words themselves, similar verses, and theological coherence. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

This simple picture helps explain "Divine Simplicity" and God's many "attributes".

This post is more of a theological reflection rather than an apologetics argument. Oftentimes I've heard people talk about how God is "both infinitely Merciful and infinitely Just," or some similar comparison, as if God somehow was able to hold together many conflicting "attributes" at the same time. I think the answer to these kinds of questions is to recognize that what we think of as God's "attributes" are only half the picture. Consider the following diagram:

This is a picture of White Light (sunlight), which is invisible to the human eye, but when this White Light hits a Glass Prism, the White Light reflects off it and result is the spectrum of the colors of the rainbow. (This is real science you can do at home.) 

The analogy to draw from this example is that God is similar to the White Light in that He is normally invisible to us, while the Prism is similar to Creation, and when God interacts with Creation we see Gods many beautiful attributes throughout nature and in divine revelation. The point being that the colors of the rainbow represent God's attributes, such as Justice, Mercy, etc, and these are truly distinct from Creation's point of view, but in reality these terms are only human terms to describe an ultimate reality (White Light) that is far beyond our mind's ability to grasp. This is one reason why Christian theologians throughout history have described God as "simple," not to suggest God is easy to understand, but rather to say that God isn't composed of many 'parts'. We cannot really fathom or understand God directly, but we can still understand Him 'indirectly' in a real and true manner.

Friday, January 20, 2017

He who sees Mary sees the Father. A simple yet mind-blowing insight to increase Marian devotion.

Marian Devotion is hard for a lot of people, both Catholics and Protestants. This usually stems from the Protestant tendency to denounce the Blessed Virgin as a way to take a swipe at Catholicism. The poison that is usually introduced comes in the form of fear of idolatry, fear of elevating Mary too high, thus detracting from the honor and devotion due to the Trinity alone. But the greatest of Catholic saints, those who were very close to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, got that way through their closeness to and high esteem of Mary (and Joseph, but that's for another time). This post is intended to break through that fear, and come out on the other side as madly in love with Mary as your actual mother and not fearing to use very flowery language in honor of Her. I want to keep this post short and hopefully follow it up with other reflections as I am able. 

To get the ball rolling, I want to begin with a profound insight I heard in a homily by Fr Ryan Erlenbush (I highly recommend following his blog and hearing all his sermons). I will summarize what he said and add my own thoughts: Jesus famously said of Himself that "He who sees me sees the Father" (John 12:25). This is one of the most astonishing claims ever made. You can hardly take it in. There's something so beautiful and simple about it, yet so mysterious and mind-blowing. You really have to be a spiritual master to even begin to break this down into digestible pieces for the rest of us. One such profound insight on this is that there is a real sense in which we can say the same thing of the Blessed Virgin Mary: he who sees Mary sees the Father. This is so outrageous sounding that you should be uncomfortable at first just hearing it, and yet it's so eye-opening once you see it that you can never unsee it. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Countering the Protestant claim that "Oral Tradition" was invented to justify unbiblical teachings.

Protestants are understandably concerned when Catholics appeal to "Tradition" when justifying certain teachings. There is a certain objectivity, and thus safety, about having a written document like the Scriptures. Indeed, that's one of the reasons why Catholics believe God gave us the Scriptures in the first place. Too often, appeals to Tradition are framed in terms of "Catholics cannot justify this teaching from Scripture, so they must turn elsewhere," and that "elsewhere" is seen as some secrete list of teachings passed on orally, from one bishop to another, even though nobody knows when or where. If this is what "Tradition" refers to, then this should be troubling to any Catholic. But fortunately, that's not the case, and in fact the answer is deceptively simple: Oral Tradition within historical Christianity is basically synonymous with the Liturgical Life, that is how the Sacraments are celebrated, the Liturgical Calendar, etc. These are very 'public' sources to consult, and more or less objective as well, so there is no hiding things and then randomly appealing to some unwritten unverifiable "tradition" when need be. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Why Protestants reject the Council of Nicaea.

The Council of Nicaea is a very useful apologetics tool beyond just discussing matters of the Trinity. What most people don't realize is that Nicaea produced more than just a Creed, it also issued 20 canonical laws which were binding on all Christians living at that time. The information contained in these Canons is just as useful (if not more so) as any Church Father when it comes to evaluating Protestantism against the bar of Church history. Below, I will mention why each of the 20 Canons are incompatible with all Protestantism in one way or another. This leaves Protestantism in a significant bind, because virtually all Protestants wholeheartedly affirm the Creed and deem the Council to be an orthodox testimony in early Christianity. After reading these Canons, the Protestant must recognize that they cannot embrace the Creed without also embracing the Canons, because if the Canons teach heresy and error, then the Protestant has no business at all embracing the Creed which this same Council produced. Protestants have no problem affirming the Catholic Church is correct on a lot of things, but they say the Catholic Church is false and cannot be trusted because it also teaches many errors. By this same logic, a Protestant must reject Nicaea as well, for Nicaea teaches many "errors" in its Canons and binds all Christians to these "errors" as well.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Love this quick yet effective refutation of sola fide (which the Protestants didn't see coming).

I think I've come upon a devastating yet subtle 'quickie' argument against the Protestant (especially Reformed) notion of justification by faith alone. Catholics will often point out that "faith that works through love" is what Paul meant when he spoke of the essence of a justified believer (Gal 5:6), and that without love we are told by James that "faith is dead" (James 2:24-26). Protestants think they have an answer for this, by insisting (without proof) that "true faith always comes with love" with it. This seems like a save at first, but thinking about this means the Protestant is saying that when a person receives the gift of faith prior to justification, they also receive the gift of love along with it. That's a problem, and here's why. 

If a person receives faith and love prior to justification, it means the unsaved individual loves God already, prior to even accepting the Gospel message! This cannot be, and thus the Protestant must reject this and say faith doesn't automatically include love along with it prior to justification. This leads to a few significant but plain conclusions:
(1) Faith prior to justification lacks love, and thus this faith must start off 'dead'. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just an incomplete thing, which is why justification is still needed. 

(2) Justification must be what bestows love, and this seems confirmed by Scripture (e.g. Romans 5:5), and thus the Protestant can no longer say justification is purely forensic, but rather infuses divine gifts into the soul.

(3) Dead faith prior to justification becomes living faith after justification by the addition of love to faith, and herein is the essence of a justified believer. This would mean it isn't Christ's Imputed Righteousness that makes all the difference, but rather the presence/absence of love, and thus suggests your justification (salvation) hinges upon what you do with that love. This is why texts like Revelation 21:8 list "unbelief" as one of the many sins that can damn a person, because it's possible to have faith and be damned by other grave sins.
Given the above, when Paul says we are "justified by faith," he isn't saying we are "eternally saved by faith," rather he's saying that we receive God's love within us by believing in the Gospel, and that this is just the beginning of our salvation (Rom 13:8-14; Gal 5:13-14).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How Protestants completely botch the Biblical teaching on what being "Born Again" means (a.k.a "Regeneration" in Calvinism)

As I looked upon the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on "Regeneration," I was fascinated by what I saw. Below I will quote from the entry, but trim it down for brevity and to highlight some key points:
Regeneration is a Biblico-dogmatic term closely connected with the ideas of justification, Divine sonship, and the deification of the soul through grace. Confining ourselves first to the Biblical use of this term, we find regeneration from God used in indissoluble connection with baptism, which St. Paul expressly calls "the laver of regeneration" (Titus 3:5). In His discourse with Nicodemus (John 3:5), the Saviour declares: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The idea of "birth from God" enjoys a special favor in the Joannine theology. Outside the Fourth Gospel (Jn 1:12 sq.; 3:5), the Apostle uses the term in a variety of ways, treating "birth of God" as synonymous now with the "doing of justice" (1 John 5:1, 4 sq.), and elsewhere deducing from it a certain "sinlessness" of the just (1 John 3:9; 5:18), which, however, does not necessarily exclude from the state of justification the possibility of sinning. It is true that in all these passages there is no reference to baptism nor is there any reference to a real "regeneration"; nevertheless, "generation from God", like baptismal "regeneration", must be referred to justification as its cause. Both terms effectually refute the Protestant notion that there is in justification not a true annihilation, but merely a covering up of the sins which still continue (covering-up theory), or that the holiness won is simply the imputation of the external holiness of God or Christ (imputation theory).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Was the 'one bishop per city' model of church leadership an unbiblical corruption by Catholicism? (A brief look at the monespiscopate)

One anti-Catholic argument I'm seeing come up more and more frequently is the claim that Scripture describes church governance (polity) as done by a plurality of elders/bishops who are co-ruling over a city/church, whereas the notion of authority concentrated into the hands of one elder/bishop ruling over a city/church is a later invention. The goal of this anti-Catholic argument is to suggest the office of Papacy grew out from this earlier one-bishop (monepiscopacy) corruption of true Biblical polity.

The Protestant/Liberal argument is basically this: in the New Testament, the term "bishop" ("elder") is always used in the plural, and that it wasn't until AD150 that the monepiscopate (i.e. one bishop per city) model arose in some places. At first, this claim seems to have some plausibility, but looking at it with the right glasses on will reveal the desperation of these Protestant/Liberal folks to do whatever they can to smear Jesus' one and only Catholic Church.

The first thing I noticed about this anti-Catholic argument is that it claims this major heresy arose as "late" as 75 years after the Apostles died, around AD150. It is unlikely that such a significant error would arise that early on, only to be universally embraced by even the great Church Fathers, and nobody to oppose it. Further, this small window of time doesn't leave much room for a fair look at the evidence, since the early Christian writings for this period are minimal. This kind of argument is essentially based on the Liberal/Protestant notion that Christianity as we know it was invented over the centuries by the workings of men, who corrupted Christ's simple teachings early on and invented basically every doctrine we now affirm. If it can be argued that Christianity is a series of inventions, like the monespiscopate, then this leaves Christianity with little credibility before the world. It's sad that Protestants would want to go there, but Liberalism is quite literally an outworking of this kind of Protestant thought. Just looking at the Council of Nicaea in AD325, which historically Protestants pretend to accept when Catholics aren't looking, in Canon 6 it explains there is a head bishop in Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome - the three biggest Christian metro areas. Are these Protestants seriously going to say Nicaea espoused both orthodoxy and heresy? Sadly, many Protestants would rather throw out Nicaea than grant any points to Catholicism. I call this the ABC mindset - Anything But Catholic - wherein an opponent of Catholicism would rather accept the most absurd conclusions (e.g. throwing out Nicaea) rather than admit Catholicism got something right.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What the Quran says about Jesus - One of the strongest apologetics on Islam I've ever seen.

A priest had shared a fascinating video of a convert to Christianity from Islam. I looked up the details, and it turns out this convert named Mario Joseph (probably his conversion name) was not only an Imam, but he also converted to Catholicism (see Here)! I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more attention, and I'm also surprised what Mario said hasn't gotten more attention within Christian apologetics. 

Mario's claim was pretty simple: What does the Quran say about Jesus? Here are some things Mario discovered while still a Muslim:
  • The name "Jesus" appears in the Quran in about 25 verses, while "Mohammed" appears in only about 4 verses of the Quran. [This is significant because even though Mohammed is "mentioned" under different names, the name itself barely appears in 114 chapters of Islam's holy book (more on this later).]
  • The only woman mentioned in the Quran is "Mary the mother of Jesus". There is no other woman mentioned, including no mention of Mohammed's mother. On top of this, two chapters of the Quran are named after Mary. The Quran also says that Mary was born without sin, that Mary never sinned, that Mary was ever virgin, and that Mary was Assumed into Heaven. [This is obviously significant because the Quran repeatedly honors Mary and no other woman!]
  • The Quran says Jesus is "Word of God" and "Spirit of God" and "Christ".
  • The Quran says Jesus (1) spoke normal sentences a few days after his birth, (2) He created a bird out of clay and breathed life into it, making it a real bird, (3) He cured leprosy, blindness, and brought back people from the dead.
  • The Quran says Jesus was taken to Heaven, is still alive, and will come again.
  • The Quran does not say any of these or similar things about Mohammed. Mohammed never performed miracles, never healed anyone. Islam teaches Mohammed is not alive, he died and his tomb is still here, and that he will not come again. 
While Jesus doesn't get much attention in the Quran overall, and in fact is presented in a very shallow way as a mere prophet, it is fascinating that these details are in there (and that Muslims don't even object)! So what does this all mean? A few things. 

First of all, it means that the Quran definitely testifies to Jesus in a way that puts him beyond a mere prophet. This should get any Muslim thinking about why this is. Imagine if the Bible said all kinds of fascinating things about Joseph Smith, that would definitely startle a lot of Christians. 

Second of all, there is a growing scholarly consensus that the man we call Mohammed never actually existed. Catholic author Robert Spencer wrote a book recently called "Did Mohammed Exist?" The question is outrageous on it's face: of course Mohammed existed, there's all kinds of evidence, and no scholar in history has ever doubted it. But wait, it really wasn't until modern times when scholars have even dug into the question! 

The thesis that Robert Spencer holds is that Mohammed never actually existed, and instead Islam was originally a heretical Christian sect and the Quran was originally a Christian Liturgy book. Now when you compare all of what was said about Jesus in the Quran above, this starts to make a lot of sense! The name "Mohammed" means "The Praised One," which is precise who Jesus is. So to go full circle, the evidence suggests that Jesus was "Mohammed" the whole time in that Mohammed ("The Praised One") is another of many titles for Jesus. 

Over time, the heretical Christian sect was taken over by successive warlords, and these warlords started to weave together a new narrative, similar to how Joseph Smith weaved together a narrative of Jesus coming to America.

I know it all sounds outrageous, but as secular scholars become less afraid for their life, this critical scholarship will show more and more a consensus that Mohammed Never Existed. Even those scholars like Bart Ehrman who love to trash Christianity have said he hasn't equally applied his critical scholarship to Islam "because I value my life too much". I hope to write another post soon from more proofs from Robert Spencer's book.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Was there really no Bible until the year AD381?

I'm writing on an urgent matter that I think needs to be addressed within Catholic apologetics, namely the widespread Catholic claim that there was no Bible until Pope Damasus gave us the canon of Scripture in AD381. At best, this is a half truth, and at worst this is an implicit heresy and undermines Christianity. While it might score points against Protestants during a Sola Scriptura discussion, it's a bad argument that does far more harm than good. 

The problem with the "no Bible until 381" claim is that those who make the claim typically have in their mind that in the early Church - sometime after the Apostles died (~AD80) and up to 300 years later (~AD380) - there was mass confusion as to what books were Scripture and what weren't, such that the Pope had to call a Council to settle the matter by sifting through a massive pile of books, some which were inspired and some which were uninspired, and the "result" was the canon of Scripture. This mindset suggests that the Bible wasn't something passed onto us by Tradition, but rather something that was basically invented. The Pope most certainly did not walk into a library and start reading random books and try to "detect" if this or that book should be in the Bible.  In fact, this false 'personally feel out if this book is inspired' method is closer to the Protestant and Mormon approach to the canon of Scripture.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Why Head Coverings blind Protestants.

I think I've formulated a new apologetics argument that should prove fun and (hopefully) fruitful when talking with Protestants. Basically, the way Protestants view the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist is similar to how Paul describes the reason for Head Coverings in 1 Corinthians 11. The result of this line of thinking would not only force Protestants to make Baptism indistinguishable from Eucharist, but also to 'raise' Head Coverings up to the level of a new Sacrament in itself. Let's see where this goes. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

As (Not So) Often As You Do This - another round of the crushing Protestant liturgical dilemma

Though I haven't had much time to blog recently, I wanted to show people a beautiful real-life example of the crushing effectiveness of the Ultimate Catholic Apologetics Argument (UCAA) against Protestants (which I posted about previously). 

A "Reformed Baptist" pastor named Ken at the Protestant apologetics site Beggars All had a post focused on criticizing Catholics for following "traditions of men" rather than the Bible, which turned out to be highly ironic shortly after I brought up the UCAA in the combox. There's no need to read the post or most of the comments, but if you're interested just see the last ten comments or so for how effortlessly the UCAA can take down the most committed "Bible Christian" (see THIS link to take you straight to the last few comments). 

The key post is when I responded to Ken saying, 
[Pastor Ken said]: None of what you say really carries any weight with me, since you are right in the sense that that an order of worship is not laid out word for word, but the general idea is for us to worship God by Scripture, prayer, singing, teaching, etc. and we can arrange the order however we want to and that is not a big deal to me.

[Nick's response]: The main problem I have here is that you haven't actually given any Scriptural verses that say what the "general idea" is for Christian Liturgy. The closest thing you've listed is the Lord's Supper, which you say you only do once a month. I don't even think you've given a verse that says singing is supposed to be done during liturgy.

As for your admission that you only celebrated the Lord's Supper once a month, this is astonishing because either it is part of liturgy or it isn't. If it is part of liturgy, you have no right to only do it 25% of the time. This suggests a person can celebrate the Lord's Supper as rarely as they feel like it, and by extension they can leave out Scripture, prayer, etc, as often as they feel like it. All this reduces down to a liturgical relativism, which really isn't liturgy at all, but more and more a man-made event according to personal taste.
As you can see, Ken was pretty trapped here, because while the Bible does indicate the Eucharist is the essential part of the liturgy, and thus is done "often" (1 Cor 11:26), both Ken and most Evangelicals do not do this that often. And as I also point out, to compound the dilemma they are in, that line of thinking means there is nothing actually essential to the Christian Liturgy, which is ridiculous, and results in the Protestant being able to leave out anything they want on any given Sunday.

Now, it's important to note that while this massive problem didn't bother Ken nor will it trouble most other Protestants, the fact is it should, and I believe that it eventually will bother them. For now, it's great that some seeds were planted. I strongly believe that if more Catholics would start using the UCAA, I swear that this will be the downfall of Westminster Seminary in a few short years.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The ultimate and most effective Catholic apologetics argument against Protestantism.

I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful apologetics argument that a Catholic can make against Protestantism is that their Sunday Liturgy is actually man-made and thus blatant idolatry. Let me explain this more.

The most important duty a human has, regardless even of whether they are a Christian or not, is to worship God. This should be - without a doubt - an obvious truth that everyone can agree upon. Given this, a person must not only worship God, they must do so properly, i.e., they must worship as God has instructed them to do. This means that Liturgy requires divine revelation, because otherwise the person is "worshiping" God based on what sounds good to their human mind...but there is a word for worshiping according to what sounds good to you: it's called idolatry. So the only way to escape idolatry is to worship according to how God has divinely revealed it. Which leads us to the key problem which all Protestants face.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A powerful OT foreshadowing of the Papacy.

A friend of mine pointed out an amazing Old Testament foreshadowing of the Papacy that I'd like to share (and I think it's as important as Isaiah 22:22-23). The passage comes from the conclusion of Genesis, where the Patriarch Jacob (later renamed "Israel," Gen 32:28) was on his deathbed and giving each of his 12 sons (the Twelve Tribes of Israel) a specific blessing. When it came to his son Judah (Genesis 49:8-12), this is part of what Israel said to him:
Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your father's sons shall bow down before you. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Here Jacob (Father Israel) predicts that the Tribe of Judah would one day come to lead the Twelve Tribes of Israel. As you can probably guess, a Catholic should see a parallel here for the Papal Office, with Peter being one of the Twelve Apostles being selected to be the leader of the other Apostles.

Some might object that if an OT image is not explicitly called out in the New Testament, then the OT image cannot really be said to be a prefigurment/prophecy. But this "rule" simply isn't valid, for the Early Church Fathers were steeped in OT typology, and even though texts such as Genesis 3:15 are never directly quoted in the New Testament, nobody would deny this text is the Proto-Evangelium (i.e. First Gospel). And given that the Twelve Apostles are most certainly premised on the prefigurement of the Twelve Tribes (Matt 19:28; Rev 21:12-14), the notion that there would be other prefigurments is not at all a stretch. 

Another parallel to note is that even after the united 12 Tribes later fell into sin, idolatry, and broke into two kingdoms (the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah), it was clear that God's favor and chosen kingly lineage still remained with Judah (Micah 5:2; Rev 5:5). From this analogy we can gather that even if a Pope were to fall into sin, this in no way entails the Papacy somehow loses it's authority or that schism is ever justified. It was no accident that Saint Paul told the Holy Roman Church, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Rom 16:20; cf Gen 3:15)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Is sinfulness what prevents "Works" from saving us?

I'm glad to say this blog is not dead. I did take a break, but mostly because I was busy with life and didn't have anything new/original to share. I never wanted this blog to be about posting for the sake of posting, so I deliberately limited my number of posts and only would post when I felt I had something worthwhile to share that wasn't the same old apologetics you read anywhere else. 

For this post I want to discuss an interesting twist on the "not saved by works" discussions a Catholic will typically get into with a Protestant. First, the Catholic must understand that, in the Protestant mind, man is absolutely saved by his own works apart from faith and God's grace, but because of sin man is now unable to save himself and must have Jesus do those works for man in man's place. Human works alone (apart from faith and grace) are still what save us in the Protestant mind, the only thing that changes is that now Jesus does that work in man's place. This is completely contrary to the Catholic understanding of salvation, in which man can only be saved by faith and grace, never by his own works no matter how good those works are. I discuss this more HERE

This leads me to the main focus of this post: Did Paul say that the reason why "works" cannot save us is because those works are 'tainted by sin'? That's certainly the typical Protestant answer, but as you will see, that's not the 'plain teaching' of Paul at all. For this post I will look at some of Paul's key salvation 'apart from works' texts. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Penal Substitution is the key to understanding Protestant Evangelicalism.

Over at the CCC Blog I recently posted "Understanding Christ's Cry of Abandonment" and I began by 'predicting' that by Good Friday we'd see a flood of posts from well-educated Protestants (mostly Calvinist/Reformed) who were going to completely botch the meaning of "My God, Why have you abandoned me?" And it turned out, a number of Protestant outlets posted on precisely this.

As you read the following quotes, take note of how the Protestant understanding of the Cross (Penal Substitution), in which they openly speak of "Christ being damned to hell in our place," is directly linked to Justification by Faith Alone and is the heart of the Gospel as Protestants understand it. So if you want to improve your apologetics and dialogue with Protestants, you should be ready to talk about this issue. Even the average Evangelical you run into believes this stuff, they just don't realize this is what they're espousing with their "Just say the Sinner's Prayer" theology.

And now the quotes from famous conservative Protestant ministry blogs (with my highlights). Since it's about 2.5 pages of quotes, I have trimmed them only to cut down on size:

How much did prayer cost God?
March 30, 2015 by Justin Taylor [The Gospel Coalition blog network],

[Quoting Reformed Pastor Tim Keller:] The only time in all the gospels that Jesus Christ prays to God and doesn’t call him Father is on the cross, when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus lost his relationship with the Father so that we could have a relationship with God as father. Jesus Christ bore all the eternal punishment that our sins deserve. That is the cost of prayer. Jesus paid the price so God could be our father.
“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”  
Mar 30, 2015 by Dr. Pastor Joel Beeke [Ligonier Ministries],
Experiencing the full brunt of His Father’s wrath, Jesus cannot stay silent. He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Here Jesus descends into the essence of hell, the most extreme suffering ever experienced. It is a time so compacted, so infinite, so horrendous as to be incomprehensible and, seemingly, unsustainable. All the sins of the elect, and the hell that they deserve for eternity, are laid upon Him. With Jesus as our substitute, God’s wrath is satisfied and God can justify those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). You are immune to condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and to God’s anathema (Gal. 3:13) because Christ bore it for you in that outer darkness. 
This is a beautiful summary of the Protestant understanding of the Gospel. Jesus died in our place, we accept this by Faith Alone, and we can never lose our salvation.