Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Mary Refutes Protestantism

[Updated 12-30-13: I'm in discussion in the comment box with someone who is suggesting the Lutheran view might have a solution to this. If so, then my original argument obviously no longer should be used. For now I'll just leave this whole thread up.]

I feel bad for not getting a new post up for over a month now because I've been so busy, but in some ways that's a healthy thing. I've always believed that posting too frequently is not a good idea because it drives down the quality of posts, promotes a consumerist mentality, and tends to overwhelm readers. For this post, I want to share a brief argument that overturns the entire Protestant paradigm. 

We know that Mary was the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but this is a more significant claim than we typically realize and give credit for. Mary gave Jesus His humanity. Without Him receiving humanity from Her, no Incarnation would have taken place. So how does this refute Protestantism? Here's the fun part.

Protestants believe that human nature was "radically corrupted" and made "totally depraved" by Adam's sin. As a result, every person from Adam onward, including Mary, was born with a corrupt/depraved 'sin nature'. The only exception is Jesus, who did not have a 'sin nature' but rather a perfectly upright human nature. But how can this be if Jesus received His humanity from Mary, who Herself was born with a 'sin nature'? As the saying goes, you cannot give what you don’t have. So how can She give Him an upright human nature if She didn't have this already? Really, what we have here is two human natures, a corrupt human nature and an upright human nature. So the Protestant has to decide between two devastating options: Either Jesus took on Mary's 'sin nature' in order to become Incarnate, or Jesus did not take Mary's 'sin nature' and thus Jesus couldn't have truly shared in our humanity, meaning the Incarnation never happened. 

So which of the two difficult choices would you go with: Did Jesus have a 'sin nature' or did the Incarnation never happen? Thanks be to God, Catholics don't have to pick either! Rather, Catholics have always taught that there was nothing wrong with Mary's humanity and thus there's no dilemma. This is why the early Ecumenical Councils had no problem saying: "Consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood." During the Creed when we say Jesus is "consubstantial with the Father," the same Councils said consubstantiality applies also in regards to Mary's humanity! 

To better understand all this, you must recognize that Adam didn't cease to be human the moment he sinned. Rather, he ceased to be in communion with God, forfeiting the Divine Indwelling of the Trinity in his soul, as well as forfeiting other divine gifts such as immorality. These gifts "clothed" humanity, they didn't destroy, nullify, or conflate with humanity. Losing the gifts doesn't mean losing humanity, it just means humanity was no longer 'clothed with grace'. This is why some in the Early Church interpreted the Biblical phrase "man was made in the image and likeness of God" to refer to two realities: the "image" referring to humanity as a rational being, and the "likeness" referring to the gracious gifts that 'clothed' humanity and bestow special super-human powers to man, such as immortality. This distinction is sometimes known as the Nature-Grace Distinction.

Realizing this, it becomes clear that God intended man to cooperate with grace, since grace was to compliment the person's natural human abilities (Lk 24:49; 1 Cor 15:53). Since Protestants reject the idea man can cooperate with grace, this forced Protestants to conflate "image" and "likeness" (i.e. collapse Nature and Grace into one thing rather than keeping them distinguished). And to add insult to injury, Jesus' Divinity became of no real significance since Protestants see Jesus as doing what Adam only as a human was supposed to do (e.g. love God by only human powers, not by grace). As a result of this thinking, we have the original dilemma I mentioned earlier on: Protestants are forced to either say Mary passed on "sin nature" to Jesus or else Jesus wasn't truly Incarnate at all. What a Christmas present for Protestants to wake up to!  

With Christmas coming up next week, I would hope this article helped give readers a better appreciation for just what happened at the Annunciation and on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What you didn't know about Romans 8:29-30 and Predestination.

The purpose of this post will be to look at one badly neglected reading of Romans 8:29-30. Though a lot can be said about Predestination itself, I think this is a good article that summarizes the Catholic view. For now, I just want to look at these two verses, since I think the details given are often get overlooked because people don't know what to do with them. 
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
This passage is often read as referring to man's whole life being predestined, from their conversion ("called") all the way to Heaven ("glorified"). While there is truth to that concept and a legitimate interpretation of this among some of the Fathers, notably St Augustine, there is also an illegitimate interpretation that the reads it in a way that denies free will and that some are predestined to hellfire. (This illegitimate understanding of predestination has been formally condemned by the Church.) But there are other interpretations that are worth noting that don't really see this as predestination 'from start to finish', but rather the "glorious" predestination to adoption.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Did St Paul really rebuke St Peter? ... Maybe not!

I came across a fascinating article by Catholic apologist James Likoudis which I'd like to discuss on whether or not Peter and Cephas were the same person. There appears to be strong evidence that would lead us to not make the identification of the two men, even if many people throughout Church history have. While this would not affect any dogma of the faith one way or another, it would shed a whole new light on the Incident at Antioch when Paul confronted "Cephas" (Gal 2:11-14) - which is a common text which opponents of the Papacy like to focus on. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pope Francis and the end of Catholicism

I'm starting to get sick to my stomach with the non-stop slew of posts with gloomy-themed comments regarding Pope Francis. Why are so many Catholics, especially among traditionalists, so worried about Pope Francis? Ever since the election of Francis a storm of radically disappointed gloom-filled traditionalists has surged, and it's really soured my experience at certain blogs. Now before I go onto make any further comments, I don't want people fallaciously accusing me of blindly supporting anything and everything the Pope does and treat it as pure gold. I don't do that, but more importantly, that's not the point. The point is that people are blowing things way out of proportion, and I fear it's leading them to the brink of apostasy. That's what's more concerning, and I'm surprised more people aren't alarmed by that eminent danger. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

That time when Jesus came into His Kingdom - More Problems with Penal Substitution

I thought I was off the subject of Penal Substitution for a while, but I've come up with yet another serious problem with that heresy. The good thing is, this should be short. 

When the subject of Penal Substitution comes up, our attention is typically focused on the last hours of Jesus' life. But in reality, Jesus suffered for us the entire course of His earthly life. Even Protestants agree with this, though they interpret Christ's sufferings incorrectly. In the erroneous Protestant view of "imputing guilt," this means the guilt of the elect was imputed to Jesus from the moment of His Conception . . . which means the Father viewed His Son Jesus as a sinner from the moment of the Annunciation!

This error is so outrageous that everyone seeing this should automatically realize it's wrong. I shouldn't even have to dig up Scriptural support, but I will.

At Our Lord's Baptism, the Father's spoke from Heaven saying: "You are My Beloved Son, in You I am well pleased." This is impossible if Jesus was under God's displeasure! And yet the same words were spoken at another time in the Gospels, compounding the absurdity and blasphemy of that doctrine. In the Gospels we see Jesus making some cryptic comments: "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Many people take these words of "coming in his kingdom" to be speaking about Jesus' Second Coming at the end of time, but the Early Church Fathers saw this as referring to the Transfiguration. But how? St. Peter himself tells us:
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1)
A lot of people don't know about this passage and how it explicitly links Jesus' "coming in glory" comments with the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor - which is also why Jesus' words appear immediately before all three Transfiguration accounts, Mt 16:28; Mk 9:1-2; Lk 9:27-28. What amazing light is shed on that glorious event! As with the Baptism, this was a situation where God the Father was bestowing honor and glory on Jesus, again saying "I am well pleased". 

Penal Substitution makes it impossible for God the Father to view Jesus in a favorable way at any point in all 33 years of Jesus' earthly life. Therefore, Penal Substitution cannot be true.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Imputation and Jesus' "Be Ye Perfect" (Mt. 5:48)

One very sly argument I have seen many Protestants make over the years is to quote Jesus' words in Matthew 5:48, "You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect," and claim that the only way we can be as perfect as God is by having Christ's perfect Righteousness imputed to us. This post will show why this Protestant argument is simply desperate and exegetically bankrupt, being one more proof that the Protestant understanding of Salvation is flatly unbiblical and leaves them grasping at straws.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Roamin' Catholicism (Roaming - Part 2)

Having established the foundation in Part 1, I'm now going to focus specifically on Catholicism. 

I would argue that one of the most fundamental problems in the Church today is taking place at the parish level, where the problem of "roaming" is rampant. The bishops need to put the breaks on this by setting a good example and by warning the faithful of the negative effects of this mindset. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Roaming - Part 1

Moving far away from your extended family isn't a good idea. In fact, I think it's one of the worst problems our nation has succumb to and is a leading cause behind the break down of the family. Issues such as abortion are more symptomatic of deeper problems, and deracination is one of them.

The word deracinate literally means to "de-root" (the term racine is French for 'root', deriving from the Latin term radix). The very concept of 'uprooting' should cause discomfort in our minds, and rightfully so, since the roots are what provide the basis for a healthy and stable life. So it's obvious that a culture that is founded (if you can use that term) upon deracination will ultimately lead to unstable and unhealthy families. Indeed, civilization becomes impossible without roots. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Is God the Father or is Jesus the actual High Priest? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

I know I've written a lot about Penal Substitution lately, but I believe I've come up with yet another devastating proof against the Protestant heresy of Penal Substitution which I must share. Don't worry, this will be brief. 

Basically, my argument is that the doctrine of Penal Substitution makes God the Father the High Priest, which is impossible for two reasons. First, the High Priest offers sacrifice up to God, and yet if God the Father is 'at the top' of the hierarchy of existence already, then there can be nobody left to offer sacrifice to. So philosophically it's nonsense to say God the Father is or could be the High Priest. Second, the Bible plainly says that Jesus is the High Priest (Heb 2:17; 4:14-15; 8:1, etc), and as part of the Incarnation.

According to the error of Penal Substitution, the innocent person or animal receives the full punishment the sinner deserves. In the case of the Levitical Sacrifices, the animal was put to death, and Protestants see this as the Priest inflicting the punishment upon the animal which the sinner deserved. Ignoring the fact that putting the animal to death wasn't even an essential job of the priest for making atonement (since the sinner could put the animal to death, Lev 4:4-5; 4:15-16; 4:24-25), even Protestants agree that as High Priest Jesus was never pouring divine wrath upon Himself. So the Protestant is ultimately in a bind: they cannot say the Father was inflicting the punishment when inflicting the punishment was the job of the High Priest. (Note that "inflicting the punishment" is the Protestant view, not the Catholic one.) This problem is compounded by the fact that on the Day of Atonement, it was the High Priest who 'imputed the sins' (using Protestant terminology) onto the scapegoat, which likewise does not parallel the Protestant idea of God the Father 'imputing our sins' onto Jesus. 

The only 'escape' for the Protestant is to say something to the effect that Jesus and the Father were effectively acting as one person, but that's the heresy of modalism, collapsing the Three Persons of the Trinity into one person. Only Jesus suffered and only Jesus was High Priest. PSub causes Christ's High Priesthood to fall by the wayside into irrelevance, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What does it mean to "put on" Christ?

Though Protestants have often tried to argue that the 'clothing analogies' in Scripture correspond to the notion of "Imputation" (having our unrighteousness covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ), upon careful examination they actually far better align with the Catholic view of salvation.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Pope's Infallible Interpretation of Isaiah 53 (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

Protestants, as their name suggests, don't recognize the authority of the Pope. So it's not surprising that they don't recognize the Pope's infallible interpretation of Isaiah 53 as not involving Penal Substitution. In this post, I'll show the Papal commentary on this crucial passage, which was actually written quite a few decades back by a prior Pope but is still as valid today.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. [Isaiah 53:9] 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten [cf Isaiah 53:7], but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins [Isaiah 53:11] in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. [Isaiah 53:5] 25 For you were straying like sheep [Isaiah 53:6], but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 
Those are the words of St Peter himself, from the 2nd chapter of his First Epistle. He is speaking directly on Isaiah 53, showing how it's to be understood, giving practical illustrations
What the Pope is saying here is that when it comes to suffering, it's clearly a bad thing in itself (being a product of original sin). But enduring unjust suffering has a meritorious quality about it, since you're suffering for the noble purpose of serving God and exemplifying love of neighbor. It is the patient enduring of unjust suffering that is how the Pope describes how "Christ suffered for you" (v21), and that this was to be an example for how we should patiently endure suffering.

For Protestants who see the Cross as a situation where Jesus suffered the Father's wrath in our place, this talk by the Pope makes little sense. In fact, I'm not surprised that every time I bring up this text in context that Protestants ignore the overall message. But this context is precisely how the Pope quotes and interprets Isaiah 53, not as a matter of suffering the Father's wrath, but rather suffering persecution at the hands of wicked men. The only thing Protestants can really do is fixate on an incorrect interpretation of verse 24, thinking that to "bear sins" means to have the Father punish Jesus in our place, but that's not what this phrase means nor does the context support it. 

Since there were no chapters in the original text of the Pope's letter, there's no need to cut off the thought at the end of chapter 2, since the Pope continues on with the same theme: 
3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Continuing with the "be subject to" theme, the Pope gives the example of how a woman properly submitting to the unjust treatment of her husband can by her humility win her husband to Christ. The Pope went onto summarize: "Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing ... But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed." (v9,14). Note how the phrase "for this you were called" appears also in 2:21, again teaching that not repaying evil for evil is how you gain God's favor. This is identical to what Our Lord taught on the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Mt 5:10). Jesus Himself was Blessed because we was persecuted for righteousness' sake.

Indeed, this "let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (4:19) theme is found throughout the Pope's Letter, since "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (1 Pt 5:5-6). Clearly there is a plain and united theme about meritorious suffering running throughout, none of which involves suffering God's wrath.

So the question is, are Protestants going to listen to the Pope as to what Isaiah 53 really means?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Did Saint Paul have to suffer God's eternal Wrath? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

In Galatians 2:20, Saint Paul makes a powerful statement: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The Greek word for "crucified with" is used in the Crucifixion accounts when speaking of the two thieves who were crucified along with Jesus (Mt 27:44; Mk 15:32; Jn 19:32). But in Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6:6, Paul uses this term in speaking of the Christian as crucified along with Jesus. This is no mere figure of speech, but actually describing a very real inward transformation. And since the context of Gal 2:20 and Rom 6:6 is clearly that of justification (the word "justify" appears in both contexts), the Protestant notion that justification involves no inward change is hard to imagine. It is plainly about Christ living "in" us, giving us new spiritual life.

Equally important though is the fact this kind of language refutes Penal Substitution, for it's nonsensical to think that Paul was crucified "with" Christ if the whole point of the Cross was so that Christ was enduring God's wrath in place of the Christian. This amounts to saying that "I have endured the Father's wrath along with Christ," which is nonsense. Any atonement theory that entails Jesus taking your guilt and receiving the due punishment of that guilt makes nonsense of the fact the Christian without any guilt now is also receiving that punishment. It's a logical contradiction and abuse of justice.
I don't even think you can call it substitutionary punishment if Paul was getting punished vicariously. It would be like someone saying they are going to punish a husband's wife instead of the husband, but the fact is the husband is surely going to feel the punishment in virtue of the fact his wife is so closely one with him. Or since this union with Christ is even more profound than marriage, it would be like saying your hand is going to get punished but you aren't. It just cannot be. It's a plain fact that we undergo a Crucifixion ourselves according to Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6:6, and if Crucifixion is fundamentally about God venting His wrath on the person, then that's a problem.

The only way Paul can say he was crucified with Christ is if this crucifixion wasn't about God dumping His wrath on Christ, but rather a dying to sin in the sight of the Father. This carries both meritorious and medicinal aspect. God is pleased that Christ would undergo persecution for the sake of love and obedience (the meritorious aspect), while this suffering has the ontological medicinal benefit of destroying death and man subduing his disordered passions. 

Thus, in Galatians 2:20, Paul can speak of Christ giving himself "for me," speaking of the meritorious aspect of the crucifixion, while Paul can speak of being "crucified with Christ" as far as the subduing of sin in your life is concerned (Rom 6:6; Gal 5:24; 6:14-15).

Surely Galatians 2:20 is conveying a profoundly mysterious idea, one which you could meditate upon for years, but it surely isn't suggesting Jesus was enduring the Father's Wrath in your place.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Does the Bible say Jesus was our Scapegoat? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

In a recent post where I discussed the Mercy Seat as it relates to Romans 3:25, a Calvinist named Michael objected by saying that I had neglected to address the Scapegoat of Leviticus 16. Because this is an important enough issue, I decided to make a post addressing the Scapegoat, especially because it's one of the (few) Biblical examples that comes anywhere close to teaching the erroneous Protestant doctrine of Penal Substitution. 

Thought the Bible gives only a few details about the Scapegoat, I will take a look at them and examine whether they give evidence of Penal Substitution or not. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

To supplement the last post I made, a commonly abused text that I regularly see Protestants quote when attempting to prove Penal Substitution from Scripture is Hebrews 9:22, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." They interpret this to mean that God cannot forgive unless someone pays the ultimate price for sin, taking your guilt and dies in your place. 

On the surface level, this reading does make sense, but ripped out of context and completely misunderstanding the Levitical Sacrificial system (which I've written about elsewhere), that reading falls immediately flat. In this post I will focus simply on the context and show just how off the mark this Protestant claim is. 

The context here is some of the richest in the Bible, being a place where the old and new testaments (covenants) are compared side-by-side. As you read the following passage, keep in mind that I've replaced the terms used in the ESV with the term "testament" because thats the Greek term (diatheke) used from verse 15 to 20. For whatever reason, many translations are very inconsistent in how they translate "testament" here, mixing in terms like "Will" and "Covenant," which I see as very bad form because Paul was using the same term throughout and clearly wanted people to connect the dots.
15 Therefore [Jesus] is the mediator of a new [testament], so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first [testament]. 16 For where a [testament] is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a [testament] takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it [Greek: testator] is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first [testament] was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the [testament] that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
The first thing to notice is that Protestants only quote the second half of 9:22 and ignore the first half, since they don't see how it fits. But what Paul is saying here is that forgiveness of sins is connected to the purifying by blood. The link between blood purifying and sins being forgiven is well established in the Bible (e.g. Heb 9:13-14; 10:29; 1 Jn 1:7; Rev 1:5). This is why Catholics say justification is based upon (or includes) sanctification, rather than something that merely accompanies justification (as Protestants teach). 

The second and more important thing to notice is that the "death" and "blood" mentioned here is not about transferring a punishment, but rather inaugurating a covenant (also called testament). Thus, the language Paul is using here is that of something along the lines of a "Last Will and Testament", distinguishing between the Old Testament and the New Testament dispensations.

This is interesting because it sheds a new light on how Christ's death is understood. The analogy given in verses 16-17 is that of a Last Will that a parent writes of how he wants the inheritance to be split up and which goes into effect upon their death, inaugurating a new dispensation of sorts. Clearly this death of a parent doesn't have anything of the nature of Penal Substitution about it, so this strongly suggests that Penal Substitution is not the model which Christ's death patterned after in ushering in the new testament. 

To build immediately on that, verses 18 and following say the old testament was inaugurated in this death/blood fashion, and yet Moses wasn't resorting to Penal Substitution when he inaugurated the old testament (Exodus 24:1-11). Thus, the death/blood of Jesus in patterning after that when instituting the new testament likely wouldn't have had the nature of Penal Substitution either. 

The way I see this, the death inaugurates a new dispensation, which makes sense in a way (e.g. the Resurrection signifies a new way of living and new hope). The sprinkled blood then serves the purpose of consecrating the members for their new life under the covenant (Heb 9:13-14). This death is 'natural' in the sense that, after Adam, suffering became a 'natural' part of life, but it carries with it a bitterness and 'sting' since we all know suffering and death is not enjoyable. In becoming man, Jesus both made Himself subject to natural suffering and natural death (mortality), and in getting circumcised put Himself under the Mosaic Testament and made Himself subject to suffering and death at the hands of the Jews. This suffering in virtue of the Incarnation addressed in a 'medicinal' way (e.g. destroying death) the global sin-death problem, while the suffering under the Mosaic Testament addressed the violated covenant problem the Jews found themselves in (Heb 9:15) that was in a sense stalling God's promise to Abraham from being fulfilled in reaching the Gentiles (Gal 3:13-14). There's probably more that could be explored here, so I definitely have some pondering to do.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why is "Mercy Seat" mentioned in Romans 3:25? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

I've been wanting to write about Romans 3:25 for a year or two now, but I never got around to it. I think it actually contains an interesting nugget that strongly goes against Penal Substitution, so it's definitely worth exploring. What recently got my interest was that a Calvinist lady I was talking to online had kept bringing up Romans 3:25 and I just found out another Calvinist that often posts here has written up his own article on Romans 3:25 in support of Penal Substitution. So I take this as a sign that I need to talk about it too! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Christians & Colleges: What your parents and teachers don't tell you, and what could cost you dearly.

Now that the school year is over for many high school seniors, their next big move is to decide which college (if any) they should attend. Unfortunately, there is a lot of ignorance and deception with regards to finding the right college, and these poor kids are led like sheep to the slaughter by those closest to them, namely their teachers and even their own parents. As someone who sees the light on this matter, I think it's my duty to warn others, and hopefully help many from going down the path of serious suffering. 

Many might think that I'm going to talk about the moral depravity going on inside and outside the classrooms of almost all of these institutions of higher learning, but I'm going to address a most pernicious issue that even many of the good Christian institutions (both Catholic and Protestant) are caught up in. 

The problem I'm going to talk about here is the issue of tuition. Everyone knows deep down there is a problem, but most don't think twice about it. Simply stated, the great majority of college students leave college (with or without a degree) saddled with massive debts, and I think something is very wrong with this picture. The matter is principally one of sheer greed on the part of colleges, with the generally gullible and misinformed "guidance" of high school counselors, teachers, and parents. 

A parent, teacher, or counselor who is truly concerned about the well being of an 18 year old child would never suggest the child put themselves in a position to be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of crippling debts. Obviously, that's a very unchristian thing to do, but tens of thousands of these 'role models' effectively send tens of thousands of these children to sign away their freedom.

To get to the heart of the problem, people need to realize that the great majority of colleges follow a business model, meaning the primary goal of the college is to make a profit, with the secondary goal being to educate. This already means that the very notion of college has been effectively corrupted, since the well being of the person is subordinated to the profit making motives of the institution. This is nowhere more plain than when it comes to the sickening issue of "financial aid." 

The term "financial aid" is very innocent sounding, giving the impression that the less well off should be equally entitled to an education as the rich folks. But that's not what "financial aid" is nor has been for quite a while. Consider the fact a majority of students at most colleges have to rely on financial aid and loans. What this translates into is that the school knows it can charge an outrageous sum of money for tuition, and the government will pick up the tab, with the student being saddled with loans for the remainder of the cost. This isn't an exception, it's the norm, and it's happening on even the most reputable Catholic colleges. Common sense should tell anyone that if a college's primary income is based on "financial aid," then something about the tuition costs is not right.

I think the tuition for a single year at a typical college should be around $10,000. Of course, that sounds unrealistic to most people, but if you stop and think about it, that's a very reasonable number. This amount minimizes the need for loans, minimizes debts, and still gives the college a decent income to cover expenses. Plus, it makes it more reasonable and realistic to pay off any loans if all the student can find is a minimum wage job. Sadly, even good Catholic places like Franciscan University of Steubenville charge around $30,000 per year (including room and board), which means most students will be forced to rely on financial aid and leave school with many thousands of dollars in debt.

So what's the right approach? I think the first thing that all these kids need to know is that getting into massive debt isn't smart and that there are reasonable alternatives. These kids deserve to be warned about that rather than being given the impression they shouldn't worry about going in debt. They need to know that it's perfectly fine to start off at a community college and attend college close to home (so as to at least minimize room and board expenses). They need to know that it's not acceptable to feed into these greedy institutions or turn to financial aid as a primary means of paying for such things. And Catholics in general need to be aware that even most Catholic colleges are greed based institutions, and this greed feeds into the overall lessening of Catholic values as a result.

I don't care how Catholic a college claims to be, if they're saddling students with massive debts, they've failed their duty and are acting in a very unchristian manner. The madness needs to stop.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Did Jesus drink the Cup of God's Wrath in our place? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

This article is going to be a quickie. We all know the account of Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-46), where Jesus prays, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." In order to support their erroneous doctrine of Penal Substitution, many Protestants have incorrectly assumed that this "cup" must be the 'cup of God's wrath' spoken about a few times in the Old Testament, particularly in Isaiah and Jeremiah (e.g. Jer 25:15). But this is easily disproved. 

The key text to look to is Mark 10:38-39, 
37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
This is the time when James and John request to be honored by sitting at the Lord's right and left in the Kingdom. Jesus responds by saying that this is no small honor, and in fact it comes at a hefty price. Jesus asks them if they will be able to drink the same cup and undergo the same baptism He is about to undergo. This is undoubtedly the same "cup" of Gethsemane. But what Jesus says completely undermines the Penal Substitution reading, since Jesus isn't drinking it in their place, but rather inviting them to drink it as well! The only acceptable reading is that this "cup" is physical persecutions that God's servants must endure, which explains why the Apostles were martyred. Thus, the 'cup of God's wrath in our place' thesis is instantly and elegantly disproved.

There's no way this "cup" could be the Eucharistic cup, and there's no way to read this as Jesus draining the wrath from the cup so that it can be drunk like sweet wine, since both of these require no heroic or challenge about them. (I've actually had Protestants make these kinds of claims.) This is further supported by the fact Jesus speaks of a "baptism" He will endure, which cannot be a water baptism since that already happened. Only the most desperate folks will deny the "cup" and "baptism" here refer to the same thing, physical persecutions.

And even with all that said, the "cup of God's wrath" in the Old Testament was that of physical persecutions as well, and Jeremiah 49:12 gives an interesting insight on the matter: "If those who did not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, will you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you must drink." This text shows that surrounding nations who were not deserving of the conquering armies had to suffer at their hands, and this corresponds to the fact sometimes God sends sweeping judgments across areas that sometimes include innocent people. The point isn't that these innocent people were taking wrath in place of the guilty, but rather along with. So in this sense, we could also say that Jesus suffered along with us in virtue of His humanity, without suggesting it was in place of us. And the Bible is very clear that Christians suffer for the kingdom, they're not exempt! 
I've never been sure how Protestantism can address the fact that if Jesus suffered and died for us that we still have to suffer and die. That apparently disproves PSub in itself.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Trample upon TULIP

Jimmy Akin wrote an article 20 years ago titled "A Tiptoe through TULIP" in which he set out to briefly cover the 5 Points of Calvinism and basically show how each of them were either compatible or incompatible with Catholicism. The article remains popular to this day, but I feel the need to comment upon it because I feel it's by no means the best Catholicism has to offer. It simply was too soft on the issues. In fact, a Catholic who knows the right things can easily "trample" upon TULIP, which Catholics should be doing if we want to stamp out this heresy. In this article, I'll go through and comment upon where Jimmy (who is a great apologist) could be improved upon, especially since this is a 20 year old article and I'm sure he's improved a lot on his apologetics since then.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

In what way did Jesus become "a curse" for us? (More problems with Penal Substitution)

Frequent readers of this blog know that there isn't any good Biblical evidence for the Protestant heresy of Penal Substitution. And because of that, they're forced to desperately cling to whatever they can to attempt to justify their error. One of the few primary texts they appeal to is Galatians 3:13, which speaks of Jesus being made "a curse" for us.

Everyone can agree that it's not enough to just make an assertion, especially on a disputed text. Instead, some actual exegesis must be done and an actual argument must be made. I'll say right off the bat that Protestantism doesn't have a leg to stand on with this verse, so all they can do is desperately assert that "curse" here means something along the lines of Jesus being eternally cut off from the Father and suffering the Father's Wrath. But if that kind of exegesis was valid, then the Arians would win the day when Jesus said "The Father is greater than I," since the Arians can simply insist this can only mean Jesus is inferior to the Father in every way. 

So with the Protestant desperation is clearly established I can go onto show how real exegesis is done. 

First consider the passage in question:
12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” - 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
The context is that of justification, particularly noting that the Mosaic Law is not what saves, and that in fact Jesus save us from it. Before saying any more, let's look at Paul's quote from Deuteronomy 21:
22 And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
At first glance this can seem pretty harsh, since the text comes off as implying that Jesus was indeed cursed by God. But the catch is that we cannot just make up our definitions of what "cursed by God" here means. So unless there's a compelling reason to think this curse refers to suffering eternal wrath, then one is not free to simply assert this as fact. 

The Church Fathers, from what I could find, didn't comment on this text in detail, but they were clear that this did not mean Jesus was in any sense spiritually cursed by God nor that Jesus endured the Father's wrath. Instead, the Church Fathers maintained that the 'curse' here was the curse of a humiliating death, and that's where the Biblical data points to also. This is plainly what Deuteronomy 21:22-23 is talking about, a capital punishment for grave sinners. And this makes perfect sense in light of the fact this style of execution took place a few times in the OT (Josh 8:28-29; 10:26-27), and the lesson is that crucifixion is a humiliating way to die. The implication is that anyone who suffers that way must be under God's displeasure. Thus, in short, Jesus 'became a curse' in that He endured a humiliating death by crucifixion. But there's more.

Now we can turn back to Galatians 3:13-14 and draw out a few key details. First note that Paul says Jesus "redeemed" us from the curse of the Law, meaning His work functioned as a redemption, a pay-off price, and not a transfer of punishment. This is crucial and not an irrelevant detail. So, reading the grammar properly, Jesus endured the curse of crucifixion, and this functioned as a redemption price that offset/paid the price of another curse, the curse of the Law.

Next notice why Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law: so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles. This indicates that the real problem at hand was that the Law was preventing salvation from reaching the Gentiles, and thus the Law had to be addressed. And thus Christ's death functioned as a way of breaking down the Mosaic Law, and not about some generic taking of the Father's Wrath for mankind's sins. Consider the following paralle texts: 
Hebrews 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Notice the three-fold theme in each text: redemption, the Mosaic Law being removed, so that adoption can result. Basically, the Mosaic Law (Covenant) was violated by Israel's unfaithfulness, and as a result this was stalling God's plan to fulfill His promise to Abraham, namely that he would be spiritual father of the Jews and Gentiles. Since the Law was violated, it had to be atoned for, and that's what Christ's death accomplished as far as being "under the Law" was concerned. 

Now consider the anti-type motif, where Jesus is prefigured in the OT stories but in the opposite way you'd expect. For example, John 3:14 says: “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” This recalls Numbers 21:4-9. Clearly, Jesus doesn’t correspond directly to a serpent (of all possible animals, since the serpent corresponds to Satan!). So this means Jesus can be prefigured in a way contrary to how Jesus should be seen. Now consider Deuteronomy 21:22, which says: “if a man has committed a crime punishable by death,” yet clearly Jesus didn’t commit a civil crime punishable by death, so the full horror of this statute wouldn’t even technically hold it’s force (an innocent man being unjustly killed undermines the statute). Not to mention, the statute is not saying that a person hung on a tree has the Father pouring out His wrath on their soul, suffering hellfire at that moment. And surely this law was not originally written and understood to mean some day the Messiah would be murdered by Crucifixion by a foreign army. Thus, there is good reason to see Jesus being 'cursed' as sort of unjust curse or anti-curse, since the whole point of this penalty was for the State to condemn truly guilty people, and Jesus should never have had to endure this. And this anti-type lens is further proven by the fact that every time the Apostles publicly preached on the subject of the Crucifixion in Acts, they always made a sharp distinction between Jesus being unjustly killed and hung on a tree by the Jews, versus God's vindication in rescuing and resurrecting Jesus for the injustice (Acts 2:23-24; 3:15; 3:10; 5:30-31; 10:39-40; 13:28-30).

I think this just about covers the main bases. I believe this approach I've taken completely invalidates the desperate claim that the term "curse" necessitates that Jesus was spiritually cursed and cut off from the Father. If Protestants want to push that error, they'll have to address these points I made, and I don't think they can.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When Jesus said "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" was Jesus suffering the Father's Eternal Wrath? (More problems with Penal Substitution)

I have said for a long time that one of the strongest arguments against Penal Substitution is the fact that nowhere does the Bible state that Jesus suffered the Father's Wrath. And this is especially true when we examine the very place we'd most likely expect to find it, in the Crucifixion accounts in the Four Gospels. Instead, what we see plainly conveyed is that Jesus was falsely accused and put into the hands of wicked men who murdered Him by crucifixion. Obviously, God foresaw that this monstrous crime would take place, but in love He sent His Son to earth anyway, and God turned this monstrous crime on it's head, making it a means of Salvation.

In this post I will go over the Crucifixion accounts in the Four Gospels, along with a brief look at how the Crucifixion was preached in Acts. I will show that nobody in good will and fairness can claim to find any reasonable proof for this Protestant heresy in the place it should be most clearly taught.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Catholic Grand Slam against Protestantism

In baseball, a Grand Slam is when the batter hits a home run while the bases are loaded, resulting in an instant score of 4 home runs. Using that analogy, have come across 4 devastating quotes against Protestantism (and even Eastern Orthodoxy) coming from the Third Ecumenical Council, the Council of Ephesus (431AD). As I present the quotes, it will become clear from the significance of the things taught that one must take a stand and conclude either this Council was orthodox and Catholic or heterodox and untrustworthy.

Quote #1 - 
Forasmuch as the divinely inspired Scripture says, “Do all things with advice,” it is especially their duty who have had the priestly ministry allotted to them to examine with all diligence whatever matters are to be transacted. (Letter to the Synod in Pamphylia)
First off, credit goes to Joe and his excellent Catholic apologetics blog for finding this quote. The quote "Do all things with advice" comes directly from the deutero-canonical book of Sirach 32:19, and the footnote on this text quotes famous Protestant historian Philip Schaff who agrees that this Ecumenical Council plainly saw this book as divinely inspired Scripture. But Protestants say that this book is for sure not inspired Scripture and they threw out this book.

Quote #2 -
Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the Only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the Unbloody Sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his Holy Flesh and the Precious Blood of Christ the Saviour of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the Life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the Life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his Flesh, he made it also to be Life-giving, as also he said to us: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood. (Second Letter of Cyril to Nestorius)
This quote contains three powerful statements that should make any good Protestant cringe. First, St Cyril describes the Mass as the "Unbloody Sacrifice," meaning the Mass is a Sacrifice and re-presents the same sacrifice of Calvary but only in an 'unbloody' manner, the very thing Catholic Dogma teaches. Second, St Cyril says that the Eucharist is Christ's actual flesh and blood, not mere bread symbolizing Christ's flesh. Third, at the end of this quote Cyril quotes John 6:52-53, saying that this refers to the Eucharist. But Protestants cannot affirm any of these things, and in fact hold them as hallmarks of a false church. 

Quote #3 - 
Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors.  The holy and most blessed pope Cœlestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place in this holy synod, which the most humane and Christian Emperors have commanded to assemble, bearing in mind and continually watching over the Catholic faith. For they both have kept and are now keeping intact the apostolic doctrine handed down to them from their most pious and humane grandfathers and fathers of holy memory down to the present time (Session III)
This quote plainly says that there is no doubt and that it is known by all that Peter was the prince and head of the apostles and leader of the Church, and that Pope Celestine was Peter's successor and rules in his place. This quote is an abomination for both Protestants and Eastern Orthodox for obvious reasons: if the Papacy is true, both of those groups are in deep trouble! Eastern Orthodox love to espouse that the Papacy is the worst heresy ever, even worse than Arianism and Nestorianism. And yet nobody at this Council noticed the worst heresy ever being spouted right off in front of them! They must pick whether this Council taught heresy here or whether the Catholic Church is right. The truth is plain for those who want to see it.

Quote #4 - 
If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Θεοτόκος), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh let him be anathema. (Anathema #1 against Nestorius)
If anyone does not agree that in a real sense that Mary is the "Mother of God," then they are embracing heresy. Of course, this dogma has been widely misunderstood to mean Mary created/produced the Trinity, but all it means is that Mary bore and gave birth to the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son. There are many Protestants who disagree with this dogmatic teaching and do not believe Mary is "Mother of God" and consider this a major heresy and blasphemy.

In the end, the Protestant really has to decide whether the Church went completely in heresy this early on in Church history or not. These teachings are too significant to sweep them under the rug or cherry pick the Council's teachings. This Council provided a benchmark for all Christianity at the time as to what was orthodox and what wasn't, so to claim heresy effectively entails the whole visible Church went apostate. I know many Protestants will try all kinds of fancy tricks to get around this, but really this isn't a hard issue to address. Catholics have no problem taking these things at face value as they're plainly taught, and we affirm these things even today. 

Either take Christian history seriously or don't. I would just hope that Protestant seminaries would be honest enough to admit that this Council sounds nothing like what any Protestant denomination would ever teach.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Romans 4:6-8 crushes Calvinism (Faith Alone)

I'm convinced that Romans 4:6-8 is the most powerful text against Calvinism, and if Catholics utilized this one text I believe there would be astronomical success in their apologetics. While I've written about this before, I want to focus on one thing in particular because I cannot emphasize enough how powerfully this verse crushes Calvinism. Here is Paul in Romans 4 (quoting Psalm 32:1-2):
5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the
blessing of the one to
whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.
I have color-coded this text to help get the point across. When Paul says "just as David speaks of counting righteousness," this means David is speaking of the same crediting of righteousness that Paul just talked about. But David doesn't use the phrase "counting righteousness" in Psalm 32:1-2, and instead he speaks of "lawless deeds forgiven" and "not counting sin". This means that for Paul, "counting righteousness" is synonymous with "lawless deeds forgiven," which is also synonymous with "not counting sin". Simply put, when a persons sins are forgiven, God does not regard that person as a sinner any longer, and in fact God regards them as righteous. Using the analogy of a shirt with a stain on it, after I clean the stain I could either "not reckon a stain on the shirt" or, equivalently, I could "reckon cleanliness to the shirt," and I'd be saying the same thing. The only difference is perspective, similar to asking if the glass is reckoned as half full or is reckoned as half empty.
Once you recognize that "counting righteousness" is synonymous with "not counting sin" (meaning forgiveness), you can now proceed to hammer the Calvinist on the issue of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Since the two phrases are equivalent, then it's impossible that "crediting righteousness" refers to "imputing Christ's righteousness," because you'd then have to read "not crediting sin" as referring to "imputing Christ's righteousness" as well, which makes little grammatical sense. How does transferring Christ's righteousness to your account come out of the phrase "not count sin"? It doesn't. 
And speaking of "not counting," since the word "count" is the same in both phrases, this means it must carry the same meaning. So when the Protestant thinks "count" means something along the lines of "transferring," so that the text is interpreted as "transferring [Christ's] righteousness," this fails when "transferring" is carried over to David's words, for then David says "the Lord will NOT transfer sin." How can a person who's sins the Lord will NOT take away be a Blessed man? He cannot be a Blessed man if his sin remains, and thus "count" cannot mean "transfer" in either case. Rather, the only definition that makes sense is to read "counted" as simply "regards as," and this gives a coherent interpretation of each phrase: "regards as righteous" and "does not regard as a sinner". Thus, the imputation of Christ's righteousness has no place in this crucial justification text.

The beauty of this passage is that it goes right to the Calvinist's favorite place in the Bible, Romans 4, and it turns their interpretation on it's head. No need for James 2:24 since Romans 4 does the job and does it quite well.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What's stopping you?

One question all Protestants need to ask themselves is what is stopping them or any other Protestant they know from going off and independently starting their own denomination. Most Protestants simply don't think about it, but every Protestant who has gone off and started his own church obviously has pondered this question and recognized their 'right' to do this. Ultimately, it reveals a fatal flaw in their system, and that flaw is that ultimately nobody is subject to anyone else. In fact, a well-informed Calvinist I spoke to recently came right out and said he doesn't submit to anyone but Scripture. But how is another Protestant going to stop him from believing this? I don't see a principled way out of this dilemma. And how can a Protestant truly accept texts like Acts 16:4 and Hebrews 13:17, along with the Pastoral Epistles, I truly don't know. I don't think they can. (So much for Protestantism being Biblical.)

This is one of those issues that the more informed Protestants like to keep hushed because it would completely expose the absurdity of their system. A lot of them know that they cannot challenge the 'pastorship' of even their most bitter enemies, because they know what would happen to their own claims to authority. And so they parade around as if their most bitter enemy with even less 'credentials' than themself is still entitled to be regarded as a pastor. When I've confronted Protestants on this issue, they'll often try to get around it by claiming their pastor was ordained by some board of elders or at a Protestant seminary, as if this sufficiently answered the question. But all they're doing is taking the question one step back to who authorized the board of elders or who authorized the seminary. Ultimately, it will always come down to a group of self-appointed pastors who made themselves into a board of elders or who founded the seminary, and acted as if their self-appointed authority was true authority. It's no different than a random dude starting his own mega church. It happens all the time. But the Catholic sees right through all this. The Catholic sees that this is one of the biggest hoaxes foisted upon the world.

In the end, this Protestant mindset ultimately says the visible Church isn't held together by anything concrete, since a person can break off into schism or heresy and be just as much part of the visible Church as anyone else. With this moral, doctrinal, and ecclesial relativism in full swing, the "visible Church" thus goes from something concrete to something abstract, and thus a self-refuting concept (since an abstract thing cannot be visible). And by this point you can realize that just thinking about such a world-wide hoax like this is exhausting. No wonder our society is so much in shambles when this kind of "logic" is running rampant.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

St Cyril of Jerusalem gives an example of Tradition (Were the Early Church Fathers Protestant?)

Often times Protestants ask Catholics to "define Tradition," expecting to find some long drawn out list of teachings that weren't written down in Scripture. The problem is, that's not how Tradition is understood. Rather, a better understanding of Tradition is the Church's Liturgical life, seeing the oral tradition expressed in ancient prayers of the Mass. A good example of this can be seen in St Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Is there a link between abortion and Calvinism? (More Problems with Penal Substitution)

A famous politician made some ghastly remarks some years back when he spoke of the need for easy access to abortion since he wouldn't want to "punish his daughter with a baby" if she accidentally got pregnant. I was reminded of those remarks as I was pondering over a passage in Leviticus which spoke of the legal requirement for a woman who had recently given birth to offer a sacrifice to God. Since Protestants (particularly Calvinists) understand the Biblical sacrificial system to be a matter of transferring punishment from the sinner onto an innocent animal, this came off as suggesting that having a baby automatically merited a punishment (worthy of death, in fact) that had to be atoned for. 

The passage I had in mind was Leviticus 12:
2 If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. ... 6 And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, 7 and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. 
Clearly, at least two animals must die for what this woman did, give birth to a child. But does it make sense to think that in this situation what the woman did was sinful, especially so sinful that it warranted the death penalty? Could a baby really be a punishment, with the alternative being abortion? I suppose that twisted conclusion can be made if one espoused the theory of Penal Substitution. But clearly this conclusion (abortion) is so absurd that the premise (Penal Substitution) must be faulty. 

Really, there's no reason to think that giving birth to a child is a sin at all, and thus this 'burnt offering' and 'sin offering' must not be about punishing an 'innocent' animal in the place of the woman. And thus neither is this atonement about satisfying God's wrath by transferring it to a substitute. This means that the sacrifice and atonement must be about cleansing/expiation, making the person ceremonially clean again to be in the presence of God. This of course would 'map over' to the spiritual realm and indicate that a person's soul must be cleansed in order to be worthy to be in God's presence. 

This proper understanding would also explain the need for those with diseases or bodily discharges to make atonement, as instructed in Leviticus 14-15. Clearly having a disease or bodily discharge is not a sin, especially not a grave one. 

This is yet another good proof for why the Levitical sacrifices did not operate in a Penal Substitution framework. If you'd like to know more about the error of the Protestant doctrine of Penal Substitution, start with this link and search the blog for others.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thoughts on Evolution

Evolution is a touchy subject, even among Catholics. Generally speaking though, traditional Catholics are against Evolution, and I'd like to talk about why I think this is so. And while Evolution can be a loose concept, I think the following 'blanket approach' is more or less fair.

The first reason is that Evolution originated as a way of explaining the origins of life from a purely atheistic-materialistic standpoint. In other words, there is a philosophy behind evolution, and that philosophy is that of atheistic materialism, the belief that everything can be explained without any reference to God. This is precisely why science is largely dominated by atheist-materialists. This isn't an accident, and it's not lost on traditionalists who are well aware about the link between bad philosophy and bad lifestyles. 

The second reason is that Evolution is taken as a secular dogmas that all are required to believe in. I use the term "dogma" on purpose, because Evolution is held as so important that if one were to even question it (even if they don't deny it), they are viciously attacked and slandered. You cannot get a job in certain fields, especially teaching on the university level, if you have any doubts about evolution. In many places, you're forced to learn it in schools, in the form they want it presented. If you deny evolution, you're slandered with the worst name calling and treated as a piece of ignorant garbage. This is taken by traditionalists as highly suspicious, since the truth doesn't need such force, and such an approach is usually a sign that some sinister agenda is taking place.

The third reason is that Evolution isn't even a specific and sturdy of a thesis, but rather contains many unanswered questions, both on the philosophical and experimental level. There aren't any specific explanations for how and why Evolution takes place, only that it must be so. There are no plain experiments that the average student can even engage in to witness evolution taking place, nor is there any way to verify astronomical numbers that are spit out by equations and instruments. When it comes to examining history, things become more and more speculative and uncertain the further you go back, and after a certain window of a few thousand years, one really cannot say much with confidence. Thus, traditionalists would view Evolution as more of a pseudo-science, masquerading as a open-and-shut case.

The fourth reason is that the Church has yet to give any stamp of approval on Evolution. The closest thing the Church has come to an official statement on Evolution is in a 60 year old Encyclical by Pope Pius XII called Humani Generis (On Human Origins), where the Magisterium said Evolution was by no means a given. All that the Pope said is that in the realm of scholarly debate, it is permissible to explore Evolution as a theory, and weigh its merits and demerits as objectively as possible (paragraph 36). In fact, Pius made it clear: "Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts." As any faithful Catholic should do, traditionalists have simply said we must carefully follow the Magisterium on this matter, and not go beyond it, especially not in the rash manner that many Catholics have done, treating evolution as a completely settled matter for Catholics. 

Some might ask: What about theistic Evolution? So called theistic Evolution teaches that God providentially guided the evolutionary process, and thus one need not be atheist to believe in evolution. This is implausible in my opinion for a variety of reasons. Recall that Evolution is founded upon the idea that what we see today came about as a result of billions of years of failed mutations and mass extinctions. Evolution teaches that fully 99.9% of every species that has ever existed has become extinct. So what does that make us? From the atheist point of view, we're a random accident, and that's the most logical thing to say given the premises. This is why so many of these men are also Nihilists, who see life as having no meaning, since we're just one (temporary) successful mutation. Given that, a theistic Evolutionist has to have the nerve to say that an all Providential God had to rely on billions of years of failed mutations and extinction of 99.9% of creation to eventually come around to His crowning achievement. As an analogy, it's as if someone wrote a massive 1000 page book and yet only the last sentence of the entire book (i.e. when man finally arrives on the scene) was relevant to the main issue (i.e. Salvation history). It really sounds quite silly, which is why those advocating theistic Evolution are never taken seriously by the atheistic science community at large. Rather, the atheistic scientific community sees these folks as poor confused and inconsistent individuals rather than robust academic thinkers. 

Solid Catholic theologians like professor Lawrence Feingold (an atheist to Catholic convert), has given a nice lecture on why he doesn't believe in Evolution (along with a Q&A session). One primary argument he gives is the fact that the way man's body is constituted, man's body is uniquely suited only for a being with the capacity of rational thought, which animals don't have. For example, man is born naked, as opposed to having something like a fur coat, because man can chose to end up living in any environment, rather than being restricted to either hot (no fur), moderate (some fur), or cold climates (a large coat of fur). Another example is man's hands, which are his primary means of survival, by which he can use to build all kinds of tools and such. The use of hands for survival only is possible for a rational being, because the being must be able to envision the concept of tools and formulate plans on how to go about achieving his desired ends. This is why man can build anything from a modest hut all the way up to a sky scraper. This would be impossible for an pre-human species that had hands but lacked the use of reason, because the animal wouldn't be able to make proper use of hands. 

On top of that, the notion that God's crowning earthly achievement was conceived in a non-human being, and was nursed and raised by that same non-human beast, is simply preposterous. It degrades everything about the fact man is superior to the animals. This is why Adam is depicted in Genesis as being created as an adult, since as a baby he would have been entirely helpless and not have reached the age of reason until at least 8 years old. So that's a huge strike against the theistic evolutionary idea that man evolved. Rather, that's a story more akin to the Jungle Book, where a human was raised by apes.
I personally am against Evolution for a variety of reasons, all encompassed above. I think Evolution gives away the farm by ceding too much ground to the atheist-materialist end, all for fear of being labeled "stupid" by the establishment. I don't mind being called stupid, but what I do mind is ceding to bad philosophy and dubious science out of fear. I think far more harm is done by blindly embracing Evolution. I think the heavy push for Evolution is akin to the heavy push to normalize homosexuality, because once it takes root in every day life, then the average citizen is radically corrupted and confused in their thought process.