Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can someone be Catholic AND Gay?

It is both heartbreaking and troubling that I felt the need to post about this, but an otherwise orthodox Catholic blogger recently came out as Gay. He made it clear that he was proud to be 'out' and did not appreciate nor include any such qualifications as "struggling but chaste" or anything similar. Rather, he said we all understand what coming 'out' as Gay means. When I asked him if he was still Catholic, he responded somewhat offended that this question is so often on the minds of people when they hear the news. I simply asked him because I've know people who went down that path and ended up abandoning Christianity in favor of the Gay lifestyle. Unfortunately, it has become common to push the limits with identifying oneself as "Catholic AND Gay," but this trend is dangerous to the souls of all who are involved. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Two Christmas Gifts: Why December 25 is right & The real reason Joseph sought to divorce Mary

These are two gold nuggets that I've picked up from other great minds over the last few years that I think are worth re-sharing.

Why December 25 is the most likely day Jesus was born. 

It has become fashionable to downplay or deny the December 25 date as the traditional day for Our Lord's birth. The typical argument is that Catholics wanted to replace the pagan feast day of the Unconqured Sun with something Christian, so since the Nativity was yet to be accounted for on the calendar they thought this pagan festival in late December was a good idea to supplant. This attack on December 25 really began a few centuries back with Puritan Calvinists wanting to trash the Catholic Faith by undermining the date in which we celebrate this feast and thus make it look like it was purely arbitrary act of the Church. Of course, Liberals took up this banner, especially in the modern day media, in order to make Christianity as a whole look ridiculous and render it no different than any other pagan religion or holiday. But the traditional date of December 25 was by no means arbitrary, and in fact there are very good reasons to accept it, and these reasons have nothing to do with supplanting a pagan holiday. 

The first good reason to accept December 25 is because of March 25. Traditionally, the Feast of the Annunciation was held in higher regard than the Nativity, since the Annunciation is when The Word first became Incarnate. Naturally, this would mean that 9 months later the Nativity would take place. Thus, December 25 comes about by the simple fact that the Annunciation was the anchor point. Great minds (such as our current Holy Father) have pointed out that March 25 carries its own significance, with it being a date that Passover has fallen on as well the date in which some Jews consider the first day of Creation. 

The second good reason to accept December 25 is a bit more involved to explain, but I'll do my best. The basic argument looks something like this: We know that Jesus had a public ministry of 3.5 years and that He died on the 15th of the Jewish month of Nisan (basically late March). If you count backwards the 3.5 years, which are 42 Jewish months, this puts you at November 8. In Luke 3 we are told that Jesus was baptized on the cusp of turning 30, which is when a Jew became a 'man' and could teach. Since His Baptism was followed by 40 days in the desert and 7 days of temptation, then adding 47 days to November 8 puts us at December 25, which makes sense because it means Jesus had no further 'prerequisites' stopping Him from immediately beginning His public work (e.g. calling the Apostles) the moment He became of age.  

Why Joseph did not suspect adultery of Mary when he thought about getting a Divorce. 

A very natural reading of Matthew 1:18-21 suggests that St Joseph had suspected that Mary was pregnant due to fornication, so Joseph sought to divorce her. This can be called the "Suspicion Theory." But some good Catholics have pointed out that there is an alternative tradition which makes a little bit more sense and thus should be preferred. This alternate interpretation goes back to the time of the early Christian scholar Origen, who lived around the year 225 AD, and St Thomas Aquinas considered this alternate interpretation to be superior. The alternative interpretation states that St Joseph felt unworthy and overwhelmed to be the father of the Messiah, so he sought to get out of this calling. This can be called the "Humility Theory." This is what St Thomas Aquinas says: 
He sought to put her away, because he saw in her a great sacrament, to approach which he thought himself unworthy. ... Joseph was minded to put away the Blessed Virgin not as suspected of fornication, but because in reverence for her sanctity, he feared to cohabit with her
Given that St Thomas is no lightweight, I think all Catholics should at the very least give the Humility Theory at fair look, even though this isn't a dogmatic issue.Once one is aware of the Humility Theory, they can then try to see how it fits into the text of Matthew 1:18-21. Here are some of the advantages of this interpretation: 

First, the text points out that Joseph wanted to divorce Mary "quietly" so as not to "put her to shame," because he was a "just man." Yet if someone was guilty of adultery, it would make sense that Joseph was more concerned about God's Law, which was to expose sinners and get them punished. So the Humility Theory makes more sense of the "quietly" detail.

Second, in verse 21 is when the Angel appears to Joseph to reassure him, but in verse 18 it says "she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit," suggesting Joseph "found" this out from Mary's own testimony. In other words, Joseph first found out about Mary being pregnant from Mary's own mouth, and She surely included the fact an Angel appeared to Her and the child was "of the Holy Spirit." The Suspicion Theory suggests Joseph had zero trust in Mary and was oblivious to the circumstances. Yet even pagan men would at least want to know the details, such as whether rape was involved, since this could seriously mitigate against wanting a divorce.

Third, we know that whatever God consecrates for a Holy Purpose can never be used for an ordinary purpose. For example, see how the Holy Objects of the Mosaic Law were to be treated, carrying the death penalty if they were used as ordinary objects (Numbers 4:15; 4:20; Cf 2 Timothy 2:20-21). Since Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant, this means that She was consecrated for strictly Holy purposes, never to be de-consecrated for ordinary use. Recognizing this, St Joseph would not want to violate The Ark in any way, choosing to humbly back down instead. This also strongly proves why we should regard Mary as Ever-Virgin.

I hope you enjoyed these two nuggets as much as I did. Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One of the most stunning apologetics article I have read in years!

There is an amazing article on Eastern Orthodoxy, by an Eastern Orthodox author, being hosted on Devin Rose's amazing blog. If there is any article you should read this year, it's this one. It is stunning in it's sheer honesty and humility. I really cannot even describe it, you must read it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why "Catholic Cruises" are not a good idea.

I'm shocked to see Catholic news and apologetics outlets have started to advertise "Catholic Cruises" these last few years. This just seems wrong. It seems too much like the American Protestant approach to Christianity, where a congregation is built around a business-entertainment model. That model is the opposite of what Catholicism is supposed to be based upon. While going on a Cruise is not intrinsically immoral, it still seems to me that Cruises are a not a good thing, especially when formally united to a Catholic event.

I can see Protestants having Cruises, there is some logic there. In most Protestantism (not all), there is no sanctuary and entertainment is a key factor in bringing in the crowds, so a Cruise makes sense. Plus, with the contraceptive and divorce mindset firmly implanted, a Cruise is great for those couples who are holding off having kids so they can see the world first, as well as a great place to find a second spouse. And with Christians in general not too far removed from the mainstream Paganism, it seems a Cruise is a venue all Americans should be up for. And that's why Catholics should not be following behind.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another gold nugget in Romans 4:6 (against Faith Alone)

Most people who read this blog know I'm a huge fan of studying Romans chapter 4 because of its pivotal role in Protestantism. As I continue to study the chapter, I continue to find powerful arguments against the standard Reformed (Calvinist) interpretation of this chapter. This short post will be presenting an argument drawn from the first half of chapter 4, specifically how one is to understand the “works” mentioned there. The best part about this argument will be that Reformed Baptists apologist John Piper ends up doing most of the work for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Conservative Protestantism is the biggest threat to the Pro-Life cause.

I have become convinced that the central threat to the Pro-Life movement is none other than Protestantism itself. This is because what Protestantism considers "Pro-Life" is not what the term actually means. So when Protestants and Catholics "join forces" for Pro-Life causes, the Pro-Life cause is undermined from the very start. Let me explain.

As everyone knows, within Protestantism there is no official position on abortion. Indeed, there's no way for them to even say whether it's an essential or non-essential Christian doctrine, much less what the parameters are. A large percentage of major Protestant denominations allow divorce. While it is true that these pro-abortion Protestants don't engage in Pro-Life causes, the mere fact they operate under a "Christian" banner is a huge blow to the Pro-Life cause. But that's only half the picture.

The other half of the picture consists of the anti-abortion (Conservative) Protestant denominations who allow "exceptions" to the rule. For example, allowing abortion in the case of rape, incest, health of the mother, and birth defects. The great majority of Conservative Protestants embrace some form of the "except for" clause, and these are the ones often joining forces with Catholicism. But if murder is allowed for certain "exceptions," then one is not really opposing murder (itself) at all, but rather something else. At that point, it's virtually impossible to push for a coherent anti-abortion legislation, since it would amount to saying it is permissible to kill innocent life in one case but not another. So why do Conservative Protestants allow for "exceptions"? The reason is because Conservative Protestants are more focused on "taking responsibility" rather than a firmly established notion of "sanctity of life." They view the abortion problem as anyone who engages in sexual relations should "know the risks" and "take responsibility" if new life is conceived. On the other hand, this means that if a woman is raped or has mental/physical health risks she should "not have to take responsibility." This is why they use language in their statements such as forbidding abortion for matters of "personal convenience." That said, I don't believe this is due to any malice on the part of Conservative Protestants, but rather I believe it is because they lack the intellectual abilities that Catholicism is granted by the Holy Spirit in virtue of being the one true Church. That's not a boast, it's a humble statement of reality: such confusion on what it means to be Pro-Life is impossible when the Holy Spirit is guiding.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A "word of wisdom" from & for the Mormons

One bizarre teachings of Mormonism is the so-called "Word of Wisdom" which was a revelation that Joseph Smith received and recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants, section #89. This is considered inspired Scripture to Mormons, and all good Mormons today follow the "Word of Wisdom". The heart of the text is as follows:
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation

5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. 6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies. 8 And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill. 9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man— 11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; 13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
This "divine revelation" is the reason why Mormons don't drink alcohol, coffee, or smoke tobacco. This is the extent of what most good Mormons know and are encouraged to follow in regards to this Word of Wisodom. But the person who reads the entire section (particularly the parts I highlighted in red) will see that there is more to the Word of Wisdom than what most Mormons care to follow - despite the fact God is allegedly giving these commands.

Notice how the text plainly says only those fruits and herbs in season should be used, meaning all canned fruits and packaged herbs are technically forbidden. And the same is true for meats, which in this case man is commanded to use "sparingly," namely only in times of winter or famine. What Mormons do you know of who follow this teaching? I don't know of a single one, nor have I ever heard them write or speak on these 'forgotten' parts of the Word of Wisdom.

To add to this confusion, Mormons have said caffeine is included in these prohibitions, yet I see nothing in these prohibitions indicating that. While "hot drinks" most likely does refer to coffee, I don't see why this also wouldn't exclude hot tea, hot milk, hot cider, etc, nor would it exclude 'cold drinks' with caffeine like sodas. Another interesting oddity is that in verse 17b it says "mild drinks" that are grain based are allowed, which logically would allow some mildly alcoholic beers, yet Mormons shun these as any other alcohol. There doesn't seem to be any objective standard to judge this.

As a tangential note to all this, despite the fact the Word of Wisdom clearly says wine can be used for the Communion service (v5b), the LDS have officially abandoned even this, and now exclusively use water instead of wine for their worship service. Note what the LDS site that welcomes seekers even says: "We partake of the sacrament (communion), which consists of prepared bread and water, blessed and passed to members of the congregation by priesthood holders." This is because another of Smith's revelations in 1830 (Doctrine & Covenants, section 27) states God doesn't care what elements one uses for Communion, what matters is the heart and intent when partaking. This means one can use anything from pizza and milk to cookies and water. This only feeds into the Mormon 'fear' of alcohol, again despite the fact Smith officially taught it was ok.

So the question is, are the Mormons really being wise about their own teaching? Does the Wisdom of God include picking and choosing what commands and advice to obey or ignore? I would say the answer to both of those questions is "No". This is aside from the fact the Bible nowhere forbids these things or puts such restrictions, aside from the commands to avoid gluttony and drunkenness. That Mormons would even put this kind of teaching forward as something necessary to be saved or be a good person in God's sight is more foolishness than wisdom.

P.S. This post has nothing to do with the health benefits of avoiding tobacco or alcohol, but rather whether such words really came from God and whether Mormons are actually obeying God's commands.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Obama's Protestantism

In the last post, I looked at Romney's Mormonism, specifically why a candidate's religion does matter, and why Romney's religion should trouble people. In this post I'm going to focus on Obama's Protestantism. I am not doing this to 'be fair' to both sides, but rather to use Obama's religion as an object lesson on why the last post is so true. What most people don't realize, and what I didn't realize myself until recently, is that Obama's Protestantism explains nearly everything about how Obama has governed these last four years. While most people think that he's secretly a Muslim, that claim doesn't explain or shed light on his policies nearly as good as his publicly professed Protestantism does.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Romney's Mormonism

If there is one thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon, it's that a candidate's religion doesn't really matter. While Republicans commentators like to scare people by associating Obama with Islam and Democrat commentators like to mock Romney by pointing out Mormon oddities, these commentators do not do this for the noble purpose of seeking the Truth, but rather the ignoble purpose of smearing the opponent. The main reason Republicans hate Obama because he's a Democrat, and the main reason Democrats hate Romney because he's a Republican. In reality, the majority of citizens don't care about what religion anyone chooses to espouse. But Natural Law and Divine Revelation both teach us that religion is at the very heart of our humanity, and thus is a chief concern for every man. This is because what one believes will always impact how one lives their life, both in public and in private. For this reason, Romeny's Mormonism should be one of the decisive issues of this debate.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Are all men "under the Law"? (Exposing another fatal flaw in Calvinism)

Calvinists teach that all mankind is under a "covenant of works," where eternal life is promised to those who keep the law of God perfectly. But this leads to a problem. If all mankind is "under the law," then why does St Paul speak as if only some are "under the law" and warn others not to put themselves "under the law"? This post will expose a very serious and fatal equivocation that is at the root of Calvinist theology.

Consider these passages from the Epistle to the Galatians:
  • But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5)
  • Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? (Gal 4:21)
  • I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. (Gal 5:3)
It should be pretty obvious that the "law" here has to mean the same thing in each passage (since it's the same context). Whatever this "law" is, it is clear that not everyone is "under" it, meaning bound to observe it. If this "law" is the 'covenant of works' which all men are born into, then this contradicts the Calvinist notion that all men are under the "covenant of works," since it is clear by these texts not all men are "under the law". The only acceptable answer here is that the "law" is none other than the Mosaic Law, which not all men are under, and one only becomes obliged to obey it if one is circumcised (e.g. Jesus only became "under the law" at His circumcision).

The ramifications for realizing this are huge: Since the "law" Paul is opposing cannot be the "covenant of works," it logically follows that Paul's warning about getting circumcised and putting oneself "under the law" could not have been a matter of people thinking they could 'work their way to heaven'. So the Calvinist is in a bind: either equivocate by equating "law" and "covenant of works" and thus claim not everyone is under the "covenant of works," or else admit "law" is the Mosaic Law and thus deny keeping the Mosaic Law has any bearing on salvation (since that's the task of the "covenant of works")

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Does Imputation make the Resurrection superfluous?

On a recent post I made about Calvinists denying the sufficiency of the Cross, a Calvinist named Miguel made the objection that if Active Obedience is considered to be "adding to" the sufficiency of the Cross, then logically the Resurrection should be considered as "adding to" the sufficiency of the Cross as well. In the course of responding to him, I explained how the Resurrection has no place in the Protestant understanding of Justification, while it has an integral part of the Catholic view of Justification. I decided to dedicate a short post to this subject, because it has just hit me as to how serious the ramifications of severing the connection between the Cross and Resurrection are on the issue of Justification. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why do Calvinists reject the sufficiency of the Cross?

I am becoming more and more irritated by the double-standards of much of Calvinist theology. One of the more outrageous instances involves the Reformed view of Christ's work on the Cross. I've heard James White make the repeated accusation that Catholics "deny the sufficiency of the Cross," and yet as truth would have it, White and other Reformed have it exactly backwards! In this post I will quote an short article by Calvinist R.C. Sproul advocating for the doctrine of the Imputation of Christ's Active Obedience, which will also show that it is Calvinists who reject the sufficiency of the Cross. Sproul's comments represent the majority of Reformed theologians, so this isn't just his lone opinion. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Romans 9 Debate (Concluded)

A Reformed Protestant named Miguel has agreed to a debate on Romans chapter 9.
The Debate Thesis:
Is corporate (as opposed to individual) election the true focus of Romans 9?
I will be affirming; he will be denying.

The debate format is as follows (I will link to the Essays below each week):

Week 1: Opening Essay (Due 9/8)
Affirmative / Negative

Week 2: Rebuttal Essay (Due 9/15)
Affirmative / Negative

Week 3: 5 Cross Examination Questions (Due 9/18)
Affirmative / Negative

Week 3: Answers to Questions (Due 9/22)
Affirmative / Negative

Week 4: Closing Essay (Due 9/29)

If anyone has ideas on the best way to host the Essays, please tell me. I'm using Google Docs, which is kind of annoying, but better than creating a new Blog Post each essay.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A knock-out blow to Calvinism (Romans 4:6-8)

Anyone following this blog will note my obsession with Romans 4 and imputation (logizomai), particularly in my recent posts (e.g. Here and Here). I've studied and discussed with Calvinists enough to know just where to go for the "knock out punch," and it's at the point where few Calvinists will dare take on my claims. It is my hope that more and more Catholics become aware of these simple arguments, so that they can send a message to the Protestants they know.

Regarding the text in the title of this post, Romans 4:6-8, what has been traditionally considered by Protestants as a knock-out punch to Catholicism will be shown to be just the opposite. This post will consist in a formalized restating of what I presented (and stunned silent) a Calvinist on a post I made at the Called to Communion blog. The following are 4 reasons why Romans 4:6-8 (quoting Psalm 32:1-2) soundly demolishes Calvinism:
(1) Paul says a Justification took place in the prayer David made when composing Psalm 32. Since David is not converting to Judaism at that time, it can only mean he lost his justification through grave sin (adultery and murder) and was repenting to become Justified again. In fact Luther himself taught David lost his salvation: “[W]hen holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them” (Smalcald Articles #43). This irrefutably contradicts the Calvinist idea that Justification cannot be lost. 
(2) The text of Ps 32:2b says “in who’s spirit there is no deceit,” which means an inner sanctification took place at that moment as well. Some might object that Paul didn't quote the rest of Psalm 32, including this stanza, and thus he didn't mean to include 32b in his lesson in Romans 4. But if that is true, it means Paul selectively quoted David out of context (which nobody believes). This conforms to David’s description of being forgiven elsewhere, such as being “upright of heart” (32:11) and “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin … purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (51:2,7). It is plain that Psalm 32 and 51 go together, especially since there cannot be two forms of God's forgiveness. This description of what Justification entails, namely an inner sanctification of the soul, is precisely what Catholics teach but completely unacceptable for Calvinists because they think it would be conflating Justification and Sanctification (though Paul never makes this distinction that Calvinists teach). 
(3) When David says “blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin,” this can only mean God will not reckon him a sinner because his sins have been forgiven, as the context clearly speaks of forgiveness (32:1). The term “reckon” here puts the Calvinist in another serious bind, since it’s the same Greek term Paul uses throughout the chapter when speaking of “reckoning righteousness”. The Greek term (logizomai) cannot mean “to transfer,” since it would then mean “Blessed is the man whom God will NOT transfer his sin” – and thus the term “reckon” can only mean to ‘evaluate as’. This means that when Paul speaks of faith being “reckoned as righteousness” (in the very same context), he cannot be speaking of transferring an alien righteousness, but rather must mean ‘evaluating faith itself as having a righteous quality’. 
(4) In Romans 4:6-8, Paul equates the phrase “reckoning righteousness” with David's phrase of “not reckoning sin”. In other words, rather than being two different reckonings, they are one and the same, simply from two different perspectives. For example, if I clean a stain off my shirt, I can just as easily "reckon cleanliness" to my shirt as I can "not reckon a stain" on it, since both phrases refer to the same reality. This realization is huge and explicitly refutes the Calvinist notion of double-imputation, where not reckoning sin (i.e. forgiving) is seen as one half of the equation, bringing the sinner from a "-1" to a "0" state, and reckoning righteousness (i.e. transferring a perfect obedience to God's law to his record) is seen as the other 'half' of Justification, bringing the sinner the rest of the way from a "0" to a "+1" state. Given Paul's equating of the two, it’s impossible to say “reckon righteousness” is one half of the picture and “not reckon sin” is the other half, since they are synonyms here. To buttress this point, Luther and Calvin made this same claim, namely that Paul is teaching the two phrases are synonymous, which is also why they didn’t believe in the Active Obedience of Christ

Monday, August 27, 2012

7 Reasons to reject Sabbatarianism (Seventh Day Sabbath Keeping)

Sabbatarianism is the movement within Christianity that teaches the Seventh Day of the week (Saturday) is the day of rest, dedicated to the worship of God, and that to disregard this teaching is an abomination. It's strongest appeal is that the Ten Commandments seem to plainly teach that man is to "Keep the Sabbath Day holy," in which the Third Commandment states, "six days you shall labor, but the seventh day is the Sabbath". Though historically in the minority, Sabbatarians (especially the Seventh Day Adventists) have been very vocal and quite often very anti-Catholic. The reason for this is because they (rightly) realize that to boldly disregard one of the Ten Commandments is a grave error, and since the Catholic Church has been very strongly promoting Sunday worship then this can only mean the Catholic Church is some sort of anti-Christ movement set out to "hide" the Ten Commandments from mankind. Since the number 7 is the theme of this post, I will give seven reasons why Christians should reject Sabbatarianism.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The third most important passage in Protestantism (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I cannot count the number of times I have seen a Protestant appeal to 2nd Corinthians 5:21 in support of their view of Imputation. In fact, they quote it so often and place so much emphasis on it that I consider it the 3rd most important passage in all of Protestantism, behind Romans 4:5 (which I wrote about here). In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Protestants see encapsulated the epitome of salvation: the doctrine of Double Imputation. In this post, I will show that the Protestant understanding of this text is totally erroneous, and just how desperately they will latch onto such verses to support the heresy of Sola Fide.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The second most important passage in Protestantism (Romans 4:5)

Following closely behind 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 (which I address here), the second most important passage of Scripture for Protestants is Romans 4:5, especially the part that says God "justifies the ungodly". In the Protestant mind, Paul's chief concern in life is how a holy God is able to declare an unrighteous person to be righteous, without violating His justice. This mindset first originated with Luther, who struggled to explain and understand how he, being a rotten sinner, could stand before an all-holy God and yet be found acceptable. The "solution" to this dilemma is what Luther and Protestants think is the heart of the Gospel: that God formulated an ingenious legal scheme, through Jesus Christ, which made it possible for God to declare the unrighteous person to be righteous and thus justify them, all without violating his holiness, justice, and integrity. This mentality has taken over the minds of most Protestants throughout history, and is perpetuated through the mistaken appeal to Romans 4:5.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sorta-Scriptura or Sola-Scriptura?

Those who follow this blog (and my comments) know that I am a huge fan of Biblical exegesis, that is making apologetics arguments from properly interpreting Scriptural texts. Everyone is well aware that Protestants like to parade around holding up the Bible as if it is their trusted book for guiding their paths, but over the years I have come to see how utterly false and deluded this attitude is. In reality, it is just the opposite: Catholics are the ones who base their teachings from Scripture, while Protestants do not. And any Truth in Protestantism was already considered Truth in Catholicism, so it follows that any uniquely Protestant doctrines are unscriptural by this very fact. Since Protestants do not follow Scripture alone but rather traditions of men, Catholics need to start insisting the term "Sola-Scriptura" is inaccurate and rather opt for the more correct slogan: "Sorta-Scriptura". I say this for the same reason that Catholics should stop granting Protestants the use of the term "Reformation" when in reality what happened was a DEformation. St Francis de Sales (patron of this Blog) was even in the regular habit of calling Luther and Calvin "Pretend Reformers," because they didn't do any genuine reforming at all.

What does Sorta-Scriptura mean? It means Protestants "sort-of" follow Scripture. Throughout Protestant history they have had good insights to various texts when defending traditional Catholic teachings, so this should not be discounted. In those situations, Protestants are following Scripture. But when it comes to unique Protestant teachings (including Sola Scriptura itself), most Catholics have no idea just how embarrassingly shallow the Protestant proof-texts are. Take the widespread doctrine of The Rapture as one prime example: the chief Protestant proof-text is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, which they claim teaches that Jesus will "take up" (Rapture) all true Christians just prior to the Great Tribulation in order spare them the suffering it will entail. Yet this passage indicates no such thing, instead it is plainly talking about the very end of the world, when Jesus returns and separates the Sheep from the Goats to judge them (Matthew 25:31-46). Can you believe that millions of American Protestants (including many with Ph.D.'s) actually believe in the Rapture and think that there is all this great Biblical proof for it? Or take another example, the Reformed teaching that Christ, in our place, kept all the commandments we were required to keep: their chief proof-text is Romans 5:19, yet the "obedience" mentioned here says nothing about keeping the commandments for us. Rather, when the Bible uses the term "obedience" in reference to Christ, it is referring to Christ's sacrificial "obedience unto death" for us (Phil 2:8; Heb 5:8).

Other examples of significant Protestant doctrines being built on the most laughable of "Biblical foundations" are: the Baptist notion that Baptism is purely symbolic; the Anglican idea that the King of England holds a supreme leadership position in God's Church; the Lutherans name their church after Luther and give Luther a Popish status; the Seventh-Day Adventists say Ellen White is a prophetess and that Jesus judged the world in the year 1844; the Salvation Army rejects the Sacraments of Baptism & Communion; and the Pentecostals believe speaking in tongues is a ordinary rather than an extraordinary gift. The list could go on, but you get the idea.

The problem, in a nutshell, is this: Protestantism is not built on Divine Revelation, but rather on traditions of men, and so the Protestant mind first embraces the tradition of men and only then proceeds to "find" Biblical support for it. Catholics would do well to remind other Catholics and Protestants that Catholicism is the only Biblical religion while Protestants reject and denigrate the full teaching of Scripture. The Bible is a Catholic book, and the Catholics who know their Bible can easily trounce any Protestant of any denomination.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1 Corinthians 15:44-50, a Jehovah's Witness favorite

Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) love 1 Corinthians 15 because they think it teaches that Jesus was resurrected as an angelic “spirit-creature” (St Michael the Archangel, to be exact, but that's another story) rather than being resurrected as a human with His same body. Most don't realize it, but the JWs deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which is a cornerstone of the Christian faith. Instead, JWs teach human bodies cannot go to heaven, only “spirit type” creatures, like angels, can go to heaven. So when the Bible speaks of Jesus being resurrected, the JW will say they agree, but that's because they've tampered with the definition of “resurrect”. To add insult to injury, they teach there are two types of resurrection, one type as a spirit-creature reserved for Jesus and 144,000 faithful witnesses, and a second type as a bodily resurrection for regular faithful Witnesses and all those billions of people who never heard about the Gospel. The reason why they teach this dual resurrection is to support their other twisted doctrines, for example their denial of an immortal soul. The unsuspecting Christian should be on the lookout for this, because the key proof-text the JWs use can scandalize the unsuspecting Christian. That text is from 1 Corinthians 15:44-50, which will now be examined.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Five Patriarchs (Pentarchy) - Separating Fact from Fiction

It is often argued by the Eastern Orthodox that rather than there being a Papacy in the early Church, there was a Pentarchy, consisting of the co-equal leadership of the Church by the Five Patriarchates: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. From this the Eastern Orthodox argue that Rome "fell away" from the orthodoxy of other Four Patriarchs, demonstrating that Rome is the odd-man-out and clearly in the wrong. Obviously only one of these can be correct, as they are two mutually exclusive forms of ecclesiology. The focus of this post will show that the Eastern Orthodox concept is false, and from this refute the idea that Rome is effectively 'out voted' 4-to-1 by the other Patriarchs. I will be presenting two definitive blows to Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology in this matter.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My biggest work on Imputation/Logizomai. Protestantism is in trouble.

I cannot believe I forgot to alert readers about Devin Rose hosting a long article on Imputation/Logizomai that I worked very hard on. You can read it HERE. The article consists of basically two parts, a Biblical look at imputation and a look at what Protestant pastors and scholars say about imputation. People will be shocked to see what they say.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Southern Baptist Professor tells how the books of the New Testament were chosen.

Protestants are an interesting bunch. On one hand, they radically distrust Church history, on the other hand they rush to appeal to Church history when it suits their needs. This is especially true for Baptists, who stand alone against 99% of all Christians (Lutheranism, Calvinism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Catholicism) on the issue of infant Baptism, which means history is an extremely unreliable guide in the Baptist mind. Confirming this, Baptist John Piper wrote an astonishing article last year on how Christians today are on a more sure foundation doctrinally because we have the complete Bible, where as the early Christians did not. Just a few days ago, a Baptist professor named Timothy Jones wrote an article explaining how the New Testament canon was formed. Unlike Piper, who wasn't opposing any errors in general, Jones has to defend the NT canon against an apostate (and now anti-Christian) apologist, Bart Ehrman. The sole defense Jones has to appeal to is, ironically, the testimony of the Early Church Fathers - which, in turn, refutes the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

Monday, June 11, 2012

5 Ways Evangelicalism Has Failed Our Children

I came across an interesting post recently written by an Evangelical, titled "5 Ways Evangelicalism Has Failed Our Children". I thought it was well written overall, but he doesn't seem to realize some of these problems are self-stemming from Protestant itself, not just an abusive 'strain' of Protestantism. I'll quote his 5 reasons and give a brief commentary on them.
1. Evangelicals have identified themselves with the conservative political movement. Being pro-life and anti-gay marriage doesn’t mean those who hold those positions can communicate the Gospel in any coherent manner, and if we can’t communicate the Gospel clearly, lucidly, then our conservatism means very little, if anything, doesn’t it?
I thought this was very insightful. He clearly shows that "Conservative" is not synonymous with "Christian". That's because, as I noted in other posts on the matter, Conservatism says nothing specific about religion. In effect, what we have today is a large Conservative base with less and less specifically Christian content or rational supporting it. But it almost has to be this way because Conservatism has a 'big tent' mentality behind it, meaning that one can be pro-life and allow abortion under certain circumstances, allow contraception, or promote otherwise anti-family policy (e.g. mothers working outside the home). The same thing goes for being anti-gay-marriage, since Conservatives, as a whole, allow divorce, and more and more are in favor of "civil unions"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why do bikinis fit Conservative women so nicely?

By the title of this post you might be wondering why a blog dedicated to Apologetics and Traditionalism has to do with bikinis fitting. Don't worry, this post isn't about some diet or exercise regimen that a lot of Conservative women must be into these days while gearing up for summer, but rather a different type of fit all together. All Conservatives "know" that Liberals are all about being promiscuous and immodest, but what Conservatives don't realize is the striking inconsistency with their own position. If you stop and think about it, wearing a bikini is the epitome of immodesty and promiscuity, so why do Conservatives (in general) see nothing wrong with bikinis?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kicking kids out of the house at 18 years old.

This time of year is both a time of excitement and of dread. Graduating is obviously something to celebrate, but what about the next step? While millions of these high school graduates will be looking forward to going to college, a significant percentage are living in unnecessary fear. This fear isn't about which college they will attend, or what vocation they're called to, or even what job they will pick up over the summer. Those are normal fears. The fear I'm talking about comes from none other than their own parents, who tell their children they will kick them out of the house now that they've turned 18. What is not surprising to me, but will be to many readers, is that this problem is the worst among Conservative parents (both Protestant and Catholic), and I've seen them make such comments quite frankly. But what many don't realize is that it is very anti-Catholic, since it's totally contrary to Catholic Social Teaching and the furthest thing from being Pro-Life.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blessed is the man whom the Lord will NOT forgive? (A Silver Bullet against Calvinism)

I'm pretty sure I have discovered another devastating verse against the Protestant doctrine of Imputation. If you have followed this blog or know the basics of Justification by Faith Alone, you know that Protestants interpret "faith is counted as righteousness" in Romans 4:5 to mean "faith transfers the righteousness of Christ to the believer". (Protestants flatly deny that faith itself is what is counted as righteousness.) But is this consistent with how Paul argues in Romans 4:8, using the same term "counted" (Greek: logizomai)?

Consider the verse: "Blessed is the man whom the Lord will not count his sin."
Now the substitution: "Blessed is the man whom the Lord will not transfer his sin."

Clearly, with the substitution, the text is now saying the blessed man is the one who's sins God will not take away. That's plainly absurd, especially considering the verse prior (v7) explicitly says "who's sins are forgiven." Thus, the only possible answer is that "counted" (logizomai) cannot mean "transfer". Instead, "counted" must mean something akin to "regarded," so the blessed man is he who God will not regard as a sinner, but consistency requires a reinterpretation of the prior verses, meaning we must read verse 5 as "faith is regarded as righteousness". This is unacceptable to the Protestant side, and thus they either must embrace a contradiction and shoddy exegesis or abandon their doctrine of Imputation.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gold nugget in Galatians 3:9 (Sola Fide)

I came across a 'gold nugget' while researching information for a bigger project that I wanted to share. I noticed it when reading the famous "Abraham believed God and [his faith] was reckoned as righteousness" in Galatians 3, which many overlook since they're so fixated on reading this in Romans 4. Here is how Paul recounts the passage in Galatians 3,
5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? [Gen 15:6] 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” [Gen 12:1-3; Heb 11:8] 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
What this Protestant translation (ESV) and various other modern Protestant translations 'hide' (not sure if it's intentional) is that in verse 9 when it says "along with Abraham, the man of faith," the more accurate rendering of this verse is "along with faithful Abraham". See this list of standard translations and note how the more literal and older versions are more accurate.

This, to me, is a significant translation error, because verse 9 uses two different Greek words for 'faith' here: pistis (faith, G4102) and pistos (faithful, G4103). The words are extremely similar and they derive from the same Greek word for 'trust', but the point here is that though different they are being used the same. Why does this matter? Because Protestants insist "faith" in this context, especially for Abraham, is an 'empty hand' that has no intrinsic value, but simply 'reaches' and takes hold of the "righteousness of Christ". Though that Protestant notion of faith is totally novel (with no basis in Scripture, cf Heb 11:6) and read right into the text, this Protestant idea is further refuted by the fact Paul employs (see Gal 3:9b KJV) the term "faithful" instead of "faith". The term "faithful" is synonymous with "faith" in Paul's thought here, and it's plainly ridiculous to suggest "faithful" can mean faith is an 'empty hand'. So what Paul is saying, and this fits perfectly with the Catholic understanding, is "those who are of faith are justified along with faithful Abraham," which is not the sort of "faith" that Protestants can accept.

The significance of this seems to be missed in the various Protestant commentaries I've consulted, but this is understandable since it's easy to overlook (particularly when a poor translation is used).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sola Fide dilemma: When did Abraham turn 100 years old?

I've come upon another argument that I believe further turns up the heat on Protestants claiming Romans 4 as their own. Though many don't realize it, Protestants basically 'tune out' after verse 8 in Romans 4, treating the rest of the chapter as an appendage. I've already written extensively about the horrendous exegesis Protestants have for Romans 4:1-8, so I wont go into that now. Instead, I'm going to focus on Romans 4:16-22,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Were Saints Justin Martyr and Pope Clement really Christians?

I am currently in the process of writing one of my most important articles on Sola Fide, and as I was doing some research I came across an astounding facepalm quote in a well respected Protestant dictionary. The TDNT speaking on imputation says this about Romans 4:3-8:
Justin Dialogue 141.2-3 rather misses the point when he suggest that repentance is the ground of nonimputation (cf. Faith in 1 Clem. 10.6).
This is a polite way of saying Saint Justin and Saint Clement totally misunderstood and botched a fundamental text of salvation (Rm 4:3ff). Upon tracking down those two quotes, I felt it worth making a short post about it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The importance of 70AD for Christianity - Was Revelation actually the first NT Epistle?

I have come to truly appreciate the relevance of the year 70AD. This date is most popularly associated with the year the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed for the second time (and has never been rebuilt to this day). I have posted on this subject tangentially in the past on a post I made about Judaism. For anyone who takes the Bible and Christianity seriously, it cannot be seen as an insignificant event in Salvation History for the Temple to be destroyed (2 Kings 25:8-9; Jer 21:10; Jer 26:18; Mich 3:12 - and see these Church Father quotes). We often forget that God still directs the events of history, and instead tend to think God only interacted with Israel and the Church during Biblical times, after which He left man alone. That latter view is called Ecclesial Deism, and it must be rejected.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why identifying the Papacy with the Antichrist is an "essential" doctrine of Protestantism.

Over at the Called To Communion blog, Dr David Anders (who is one of the most solid converts in recent memory) wrote an article called Why Protestants Need the Antichrist. I highly encourage you to read the article and subscribe to CTC's feed. The thesis of the article is how some Protestants (not all!) have shifted their historical world-view from that of a restored Gospel to a developed Gospel. The tough part about the restoration thesis is that the Protestant must necessarily approach Christianity from an anti-intellectual standpoint, essentially ignoring Christian history from approximately the Apostolic Age up until the (Pretend) Reformation. Since this doesn't sit well with the more educated class, the "alternative" is essentially that of the classical Liberal Protestant thesis, which holds that the Gospel truths developed over time, right up to today. While classical Liberal Protestants went so far as to suggest doctrines such as Christ's Divinity were developments from primitive Christianity, this (rightly) doesn't sit well with many modern Liberal Protestants (i.e. Evangelicals) today, who thought that took "scholarship" too far. Instead, these Evangelicals felt there had to be some way to not ignore Christian history, yet still ignore or downplay the very unProtestant (and very Catholic) looking historical facts.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Did John Calvin preach a false Gospel? The honest Calvinist says yes.

Over at TurretinFan's blog he just posted an exchange between a Cardinal and John Calvin, where Calvin allegedly soundly defeated the Cardinal in the span of a few paragraphs. However, as Calvin was teaching the Cardinal, he seems to have been ignorant of the true saving (Protestant) Gospel. This is a quote of what Calvin said to the Cardinal:
First, We bid a man begin by examining himself, and this not in a superficial and perfunctory manner, but to sift his conscience before the tribunal of God, and when sufficiently convinced of his iniquity, to reflect on the strictness of the sentence pronounced upon all sinners. Thus confounded and amazed at his misery, he is prostrated and humbled before God; and, casting away all self-confidence, groans as if given up to final perdition. Then we show that the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete. As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by his obedience, he has wiped off our transgressions; by his sacrifice, appeased the divine anger; by his blood, washed away our stains; by his cross, borne our curse; and by his death, made satisfaction for us. We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy. When we embrace Christ by faith, and come, as it were, into communion with him, this we term, after the manner of Scripture, the righteousness of faith.
Here, Calvin is speaking on what takes place at Justification, more or less in line with what Scripture says. But, unknown to him, there is an essential part of justification that Calvin never knew about (and neither did Luther, it seems), and that is the doctrine of Christ's Active Obedience. In the Reformer's mind, Christ's Righteousness, by means of Christ's Obedience, resulted in the forgiving of sins. However, the later Calvinists denied this as heresy, stating not only is forgiveness of sins required, but also a "perfect law keeping" record as well.
Consider this analogy: If Adam started his life at "Level 0," he needed to keep the commandments perfectly to reach "Level +1" to be justified. Since he sinned, Adam took himself and all mankind to "Level -1". In Luther and Calvin's mind, Christ needed to forgive man's sin in order to take from from "Level -1" to "Level +1," but in the mind of later Calvinists, Christ's Cross only took man from "Level -1" to "Level 0." Man still needed Christ's perfect law keeping record transferred to their account to bring the "Level 0" to a "Level +1," just like Adam originally required. Clearly, this is two different Sola Fides, two different Gospels! In Calvin's Gospel, the Cross was sufficient; in the Gospel of most of Calvinism today and throughout history, the Gospel is that the Cross was insufficient. We know what Paul had to say about false Gospels (Gal 1:8).
Most Protestants are totally unaware that the Gospel their Seminaries and Pastors are teaching is "another Gospel," and indeed many think Calvin taught Active Obedience. See my Calvin & Active Obedience article or my John Calvin & Double Imputation article for more information.

Sola Fide Debate (vs Drake Shelton)

The following are the Essays for this Justification by Faith Alone Debate (vs Reformed Blogger Drake). As the Essays are transferred to Google Docs. Hopefully Google Docs keeps the proper formatting.

-Drake's Opening Essay
-Nick's Opening Essay

-Drake's 1st Rebuttal Essay
-Nick's 1st Rebuttal Essay

-Drake's 2nd Rebuttal Essay
-Nick's 2nd Rebuttal Essay

-Drake's 5 Cross-Examination Questions
          -Nick's Responses
-Nick's 5 Cross-Examination Questions
          -Drake's Responses

-Drake's 3rd Rebuttal Essay
-Nick's 3rd Rebuttal (including Concluding) Essay

-Drake's Concluding Essay 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two JW Whoppers: God is neither omnipresent nor omniscient

Many don't realize that the god of Jehovah's Witnesses is not the Almighty God of the Scriptures. While it is true they believe they worship the same God as mentioned in Genesis 1:1, the official JW teachings state that God is neither omnipresent (present in all places) nor omniscient (knowing of all things). Though these conclusions are based on apparently plain texts of Scripture, these conclusions are neither Biblical nor logical.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Does going to Prom promote the contraceptive mentality?

I have not done much research on the history of (high school) proms and formals, but if I had to guess I would assume they originally began or were done in a era/culture where couples married early (i.e. around 18 years old) and the prom facilitated the dating/courting process. Like the hedonistic and antiChristian craze over sports, the tradition of going to the prom has likewise devolved into something very unnatural and even sinful. Proms encapsulate everything false about what love and responsibility is supposed to entail.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Does the Letter of 3rd John refute Protestantism?

The 3rd Letter of John is one of those interesting books of the Bible that everyone knows is there but pays little attention to. Being the shortest book of the Bible (with only 219 Greek words; 2nd John having 245, and Philemon having 335), one can wonder how much significance it has. Glossing over it, you see the standard stuff found in the rest of the New Testament, but since it's so brief it naturally it gets neglected. But could 3rd John actually contain information that knocks-out Protestantism in one punch? I believe so.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Daniel Wallace: "There is no Protestant Ecclesiology" - Can Ecclesiology be a "Non-Essential" for Christians?

A Catholic friend sent me a link to a recent blog post titled The Problem with Protestant Ecclesiology, written by Dr Daniel Wallace, a Reformed Protestant who is a professor and Greek scholar. The post is short enough that I will be able to quote "long" portions that highlight his frank admissions that all Protestants will have to come to terms with some time or another.
I am unashamedly a Protestant. I believe in sola scriptura, sola fidei, solus Christus, and the rest. I am convinced that Luther was on to something when he articulated his view of justification succinctly: simul iustus et peccator (“simultaneously justified and a sinner”).
But with the birth of Protestantism there necessarily came a rift within the western church. By ‘necessarily’ I mean that Protestants made it necessary by splitting from Rome. Jaroslav Pelikan had it right when he said that the Reformation was a tragic necessity. Protestants felt truth was to be prized over unity, but the follow-through was devastating. This same mindset began to infect all Protestant churches so that they continued to splinter off from each other. Today there are hundreds and hundreds of Protestant denominations. One doesn’t see this level of fracturing in either Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. Not even close.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Does Romans 9 condemn Unconditional Election as heresy?

Pope St Peter warns believers that St Paul's Epistles contain things "hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort" (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Undoubtedly, the 9th chapter of Romans would have to be one such text St Peter had in mind, for it has been twisted and distorted for a long time, particularly at the time of the Reformation when the Pretend Reformers were pushing for Double Predestination (the teaching that God decides to save and damn apart from any good or evil on the part of the individual). For centuries, Protestants (especially Calvinists) continue to be unaware that they are guilty of not heeding St Peter's warning, twisting Paul's lesson on God's sovereignty to teach almost the opposite of what he intended to teach.

Those who have engaged in such discussions with Protestants are aware that their chief (and favorite) text is Romans 9:16-21, focusing particularly on the phrase "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." The Protestants contend that this is crystal clear proof that God saves and damns according to his pleasure, apart from considering the lifestyle of the individual. To suggest otherwise, they say, is to twist Paul's message and argue in favor of the Judaizers, who taught man could save himself by his own works. Sadly, this kind of argumentation is not only wholly false, it has scandalized many Christians and continues to deceive many Protestants.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How do we know we are living in the Last Days? (JWs)

The so called "Last Days" mentioned in Scripture are not what many people conceive them to be. Many people mistakenly (but understandably) think the Biblical term "Last Days" refers to a period some time in the future of untold suffering and hardship with the end of the world being immanent. In reality, while that concept has much truth to it, that is not the Biblical terminology for it.

So why is this distinction important? The reason why it is imperative to be aware of the distinction is because rabidly anti-Christian groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) build grand (but false) dogmas from such confusion and twisting of Scriptures, and being aware can not only protect you and other Catholics, but even plant seeds in the JW's mind (which hopefully could take root some day). It is also important to be aware that most JW's are genuine and innocent at heart, but deeply deluded and under serious pressure to conform and never question their authority, The Watchtower. Given that, you should only approach this subject with them if you are sufficiently grounded in the truth of Catholicism and falsity of Jehovah's Witnesses (see this link for some good apologetics), and taking special care to present the Truth to them calmly and in Charity. JW's are taught to 'shut off' and 'retreat' as soon as they feel they are losing an argument or don't feel they are making progress - this means that a key strategy when dealing with them is dealing in subtlety, slowly bringing upon them the Truth.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You have got to be kidding me: one of the biggest JW whoppers ever!

Today I present to you another "you've got to be kidding me!" moment in Jehovah's Witness theology. As with other JW oddities I've come across, I'm likewise amazed that this has not gotten much attention in the apologetics realm since it's a very vulnerable spot of JWs.

This article will deal with the JW doctrine concerning Judgment Day, what it is and when it will happen. Fortunately, their main door to door evangelization book, What Does the Bible Really Teach? is available on their official website and basically lays out their view of Judgment Day in the Appendix. But first to whet the appetite I will quote from a passage in Chapter 7 of the Really Teach book (all highlights by me):
The apostle Paul said: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) What does that mean?

18 “The righteous” include many of the people we read about in the Bible who lived before Jesus came to the earth. You might think of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, and many others. ...

19 What about all the people who did not serve or obey Jehovah because they never knew about him? These billions of “unrighteous” ones will not be forgotten. They too will be resurrected and given time to learn about the true God and to serve him. During a period of a thousand years, the dead will be resurrected and given an opportunity to join faithful humans on earth in serving Jehovah. It will be a wonderful time. This period is what the Bible refers to as Judgment Day. (see Appendix) 
20 Does this mean that every human who ever lived will be resurrected? No. The Bible says that some of the dead are in “Gehenna.” (Luke 12:5) ... Although Jesus will have a role in judging the living and the dead, Jehovah is the final Judge. (Acts 10:42) He will never resurrect those whom he judges to be wicked and unwilling to change.
I know what you are thinking: you have got to be kidding me! The term "unrighteous" plainly means one who does evil, and this is clear especially when the context contrasts them to the good guys, the righteous. Why in the world are the JWs redefining "unrighteous" to mean those billions of good people who were simply ignorant about God? The answer to that will come later, because now we have to consult the Appendix referenced above:
Judgment Day—What Is It? 
HOW do you picture Judgment Day? Many think that one by one, billions of souls will be brought before the throne of God. There, judgment will be passed upon each individual. Some will be rewarded with heavenly bliss, and others will be condemned to eternal torment. However, the Bible paints quite a different picture of this period of time. God’s Word portrays it, not as a terrifying time, but as a time of hope and restoration. ...
The book of Revelation shows that Judgment Day begins after the war of Armageddon, when Satan’s system on earth will be destroyed.* (Revelation 16:14, 16;19:1920:3) After Armageddon, Satan and his demons will be imprisoned in an abyss for a thousand years. During that time, the 144,000 heavenly joint heirs will be judges and will rule “as kings with the Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 14:1-3; 20:1-4; Romans 8:17) Judgment Day is not some hurried event lasting a mere 24 hours. It lasts a thousand years
During that thousand-year period, Jesus Christ will “judge the living and the dead.” (2 Timothy 4:1) “The living” will be the “great crowd” that survives Armageddon. (Revelation 7:9-17) The apostle John also saw “the dead . . . standing before the throne” of judgment. As Jesus promised, “those in the memorial tombs will hear [Christ’s] voice and come out” by means of a resurrection. (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) But on what basis will all be judged? 
According to the apostle John’s vision [in Revelation 20:11-12], “scrolls were opened,” and “the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” Are these scrolls the record of people’s past deeds? No, the judgment will not focus on what people did before they died. How do we know that? The Bible says: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7) Those resurrected thus come to life with a clean slate, so to speak. The scrolls must therefore represent God’s further requirements. To live forever, both Armageddon survivors and resurrected ones will have to obey God’s commandments, including whatever new requirements Jehovah might reveal during the thousand years. Thus, individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day
Judgment Day will give billions of people their first opportunity to learn about God’s will and to conform to it. ... However, not all will be willing to conform to God’s will. ... These wicked ones will be put to death permanently during Judgment Day.
By the end of Judgment Day, surviving humans will have “come to life” fully as perfect humans. (Revelation 20:5) Judgment Day will thus see the restoration of mankind to its original perfect state. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) Then a final test will take place. Satan will be released from his imprisonment and allowed to try to mislead mankind one last time. (Revelation 20:3, 7-10) Those who resist him will enjoy the complete fulfillment of the Bible’s promise: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) Yes, Judgment Day will be a blessing to all faithful mankind!
Again, I know what you are thinking: you have got to be kidding me!  All of this is so unscriptural and false that it's hard to know where to even begin, but it's still a great opportunity to show just how far people will go to prop up false teaching. The most important thing you should take away from the following analysis is that the JW view of Judgment Day is not some isolated doctrine, but deeply tied to many other JW errors on which their entire system rests. In other words, they came to this absurd idea of Judgment Day in order to protect other erroneous teachings.

The first thing to notice is that they give off the impression Christians just made up the traditional view of Judgment Day. The JWs insinuate that there is no Scriptural basis for claiming Judgment Day is a very quick event at the very end of time in which all men are judged based on their good or evil deeds and consequently rewarded with Heaven or Hell. This is absurd, as numerous texts teach this plainly (e.g. Romans 2:5-8; Matthew 16:27), including the very texts JW's appeal to like Revelation 20:11-12, John 5:28-29, and Acts 24:15. 

John 5:28-29 is plainly speaking about evil doers and Revelation 20:11-12 is plainly saying the same thing as the other similar texts: the dead will be judged based on their deeds. The simple fact the text is speaking in the past tense also debunks the idea the 'deeds' in question are future deeds: the dead haven't even done these yet, and in fact are actually 'new commandments' that God issues along the way. The JW appeal to Romans 6:7 is likewise ridiculous, entailing physical death wipes away one's record. Whenever you see desperation going on like this when doing apologetics, it's almost always a sign that there are other more important doctrines the person is trying to protect

The next thing to note is the JWs have embraced the popular (mostly Protestant) view that the "thousand years" mentioned in Revelation 20:1-10 is a literal thousand years that will begin in the future. While this is possible, granting this has no effect one way or another on the main issue at hand. The common Catholic interpretation of the text is that the "thousand years" are figurative, referring to the present Christian age, beginning when Jesus condemned Satan at Calvary. Then at the very end, Satan will have one more all-out offensive to try and hurt as many as possible before Jesus returns for the Final Judgment. This is not a cop-out, it has a good basis in the text.

To begin to see the real problem at hand, consider that the JW view of the 'end' is ironic for it basically makes it the start of another trial period: Judgment Day is now a second try to get it right, and only if you survive this 1,000 year test then you will 'live forever' - and if not, you will be annihilated (since the JWs don't believe in hell). But Scripture says nothing about giving mankind a second chance, nor does that fit with Christ's mission to address sin at the Cross. As I noted earlier, all these JW errors are tied together, so with that in mind we can see a few precious doctrines the JWs have sought to defend are at stake, ultimately causing them to interpret "unrighteous" as 'ignorant of God's ways' as opposed to evil doer. 

Simply stated, the JW consider Christian doctrines like the immortality of the soul and hellfire to be Satanic inventions corrupting pure Christianity. Thus, to believe that the unrighteous will be resurrected directly calls into account both of those doctrines since they have to explain why resurrect an unrighteous person in the first place. If the grave is the end, especially as one's ultimate punishment, then resurrecting an unrighteous person makes no sense, which is why JWs say "unrighteous" refers to good-hearted ignorant folks rather than evil doers. But since the unrighteous are resurrected, this suggests their punishment is not over! Now if the soul is not immortal, then resurrection is nothing more than a total recreation from 'memory' of the person (which the JWs affirm), and it makes little sense to go through with this only to turn around annihilate the evil doer out of existence again. Thus, resurrecting the unrighteous directly implies the reality of hellfire and an immortal soul, though Scripture is already clear about this truth (e.g. Rev 20:10). 

But I also believe they say this because their view on heaven is corrupt as well, teaching only a small group will go to heaven while the rest remain on earth, but that will have to wait for another post! In a future post, I hope to address how JWs equivocate with the term "resurrection" and "salvation" (again both to protect other errors) and thus are ultimately caught in one big web of absurdity and falsehood. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses errors encapsulated in Matthew 13

The parables contained in Matthew chapter 13 are of immense importance when doing apologetics, particularly when talking with Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons. The Parable of the Weeds is especially useful when addressing the most anti-Catholic claim out there: the heresy that the Church Jesus established fell into Total Apostasy and had to be "restored" at some point (for Luther this was the 1500s, for Mormons this was the 1800s, and for JWs this was the 1900s).

In this article, I'll show why the Parable of the Weeds is extremely devastating to Jehovah's Witnesses and how just turning to Matthew 13 when talking with them can go a long way in planting seeds (pun intended) in their minds.

Monday, January 30, 2012

7 reasons Protestant anthropology is to be rejected

(If you want to double your effectiveness as a Catholic apologist in 30 minutes, read this article.)

Anthropology refers to the study of human nature in general, but within the context of theology it refers to man's nature as it corresponds to his final goal, his abilities, and the effects of Adam's sin. This subject is indispensable in forming good theology, especially when discussing salvation, because if you get this subject wrong, you'll likely get salvation wrong as well. As an analogy, if a medical doctor fails to understand how the body functions, he will most likely fail to properly diagnose and treat the ailment. Well-informed Catholic theologians have understood this and explained why incorrect anthropology is at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. Luther's decision to reject the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church came ultimately as a result of him severely erring on his view of human nature, and thus turning that into an erroneous view of salvation. From an apologetics point of view, any discussion with a Protestant is bound to fail if you don't understand that each side has issued a radically different "diagnosis" to the "illness" mankind finds himself in after Adam's disobedience. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do Muslims deny the Crucifixion of Jesus?

Like most Christians living outside the Middle-East and northern Africa, my knowledge of Islam is limited, yet Islam's massive influence on world history from the time it began in the Seventh Century up to today make it a subject worth looking at. The question is: where to start? My most recent interest in looking into Islam came when a blogger named David made a post regarding the Muslim view of the Crucifixion. In particular, David was addressing a verse from the Muslim holy book, the Koran, which plainly says Jesus was not really crucified, but David came upon a few scholars who say otherwise. In looking into the evidence for myself, I believe that David is incorrect, and that I believe the Koran clearly denies the Crucifixion. This matter is important for Christian apologetics for obvious reasons: the Crucifixion is one of the central aspects of the Christian faith - if it didn't happen, Christianity is a lie; if it did happen, then the Koran is wrong and thus so is Islam. The first step then is to show the Koran does in fact deny the Crucifixion. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Call no man Pastor" - a fresh look at Our Lord's prohibition.

In seeking to 'refute' the naive Protestant attack of appealing to Our Lord's instructions to "call no man father" (Matthew 23:9) as a prohibition of calling a priest "father," most Catholics have fallen into an entirely 'defensive mindset' and thus failed to apply this teaching at all. Typically, a Catholic will point out how this instruction cannot literally mean don't use the term "father" in reference to biological (Mt 15:4) or adoptive (John 6:42) or spiritual fatherhood (Rom 4:11-12; 1 Cor. 4:15), but once they've 'disarmed' the Protestant they feel their duty towards this verse is finished. In reality, the lesson from this verse is as important as ever, particularly with the rise of Protestantism.

I have become increasingly disturbed over the past few years as I stop and realize how much sway Protestant "pastors" have within the culture at large. This is disturbing because of the nature of their authority: it's ultimately self-appointed. I cannot think of any (functional) system in which the human authorities are self-appointed, and yet this is precisely a cornerstone of Protestant ecclesiology. Millions of people, including Catholics, have the mindset that just because someone is a "pastor" that they are entitled respect and even some level of submission. I write this having had that mentality until recently, only now realizing how dangerous and anti-Christian it is. And I realize now this is the true context in which Our Lord said "call no man father," meaning do not bestow titles of religious authority upon usurpers and detractors from God's true leaders.