Category Archives: Theology

Fifteen Major Heresies the Church has Faced

This work deserves to be re-blogged, and so it is….

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The history of the Catholic Church is full of all sorts of heresies that have assailed the truths of the faith.  From the earliest days of the Gnostics and Docetists all the way down to the Jansenists and Quietists of later centuries, it seems there has never been a shortage of heretical thought.

But in each age, God has brought forth great members of the faithful to combat each one.  Each one gave their life in service to Christ and His Church in their own way, either as martyrs, confessors, or simply as servants to others for the sake of the love of Jesus.

The following is a list of fifteen of the major heresies that the Church has faced, and the illustrious persons who stood against them.

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New Testament: Sacrifice or Execution

Dr. Hahn explains why we call the Cross a Sacrifice and the implications of Christ’s command to “Do this” at the Last Supper. Listen closely and you’ll never view the New Testament the same way again…

SOURCE: St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology — YouTube — Facebook — Home page

The Truth About Mary and Scripture — Video

The Mother of God is a gift from the Cross in a world reduced to a desert because of its want of love…

John Corapi — “Thrown out like yesterday’s garbage…” Full Text/Video

John Corapi: Special Announcement. June 17, 2011

About the Black Sheep Dog… 

THE BLACK SHEEPDOG
On June 17, 2011, Corapi released an audio announcement on his Facebook page, YouTube channel, and his company, Santa Cruz Media’s, website proclaiming his new movement towards “The Black SheepDog.”  Combining the personified characteristics of “a black sheep,” and the “sheep” and role of a “sheepdog,” Corapi claims his newfound mission is the same, delivering messages of ‘hope’ and ‘truth,’ but now to a wider-audience.  He launched a blog-site: http://www.TheBlackSheepDog.us to allow his fans to begin establishing a ‘home’ where they can be in touch with him, directly.  A member from his media team shared “this is a very exciting move for John and his fans, as for the first time, in a long time, John will be directly in touch with this fan-base by way of social networks.”

Video announcement…

Written announcement….

This Sunday, June 19, 2011, is both Trinity Sunday on the Catholic liturgical calendar and Fathers’ Day on the secular calendar. It is a day I’ll never forget, and sadly so. It is the twentieth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. For twenty years I was called “father.” I am very thankful for those twenty years. I could have easily died any number of times, any number of ways in my life before that, so I consider it all a bonus, an undeserved bonus. To all of you that have communicated support, ordination anniversary congratulations, and other kind sentiments, I am greatly thankful, and I do not take that for granted.

All things change, only God stays the same, so I have to tell you about a major change in my life. I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer. There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone. I have been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest. The present complaint that you have heard about is, as far as I know, from the one person that I can honestly say I did more to help and support than any human being in my entire life. I forgive her and hope only good things for her. I am not going to get into a back and forth or argument with the Church or anyone else about this matter.

Suffice it to say that I love the Catholic Church and accept what has transpired. Unfortunately, the process used is inherently and fatally flawed, but the bishops have the power, apparently, to operate anyway they see fit. I cannot give a lengthy explanation of what has transpired, but I can tell you that the most likely outcome is that they leave me suspended indefinitely and just let me fade away. They can’t prove I’m guilty of the things alleged because I’m not, and they can’t prove I’m innocent because that is simply illogical and impossible. All civilized societies know that. Certain leaders in the Catholic Church apparently do not.

I accept moving on, but I am not ready to be altogether extinguished just yet. In the final analysis I have only one of only two viable choices:
1. I can quietly lie down and die, or
2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on.

I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it. He in fact threatened to release a reprehensible and libelous letter to all of the bishops if they did not suspend me. He has a perfect right to do so, and I defend that right. Bishops aren’t bound by civil laws and procedures in internal Church matters. I agree with that, and would defend to the death the Church’s right to proceed as they see fit. He is the bishop and he has the right to govern as he sees fit. It isn’t an easy task. Many forces besiege him, including pressure from other bishops.

My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process. The Church will conclude that I am not cooperating with the process because I refuse to give up all of my civil and human rights in order to hold harmless anyone who chooses to say defamatory and actionable things against me with no downside to them. The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be. Some of the things that might surprise you about the way some of the bishops treat accused priests are as follows:

1.    The identity of the accuser is not revealed. You can guess, but you don’t actually know. Nor are the exact allegations made known to you. Hence, you have an interesting situation of having to respond to an unknown accuser making unknown accusations (unknown to the accused and his counsel).

2.    The persons chosen to investigate the allegations normally have no qualifications to do so. They certainly didn’t graduate from the FBI academy, nor do they have any other background to qualify them to interrogate or otherwise interview witnesses.

3.    There are no set rules of evidence or norms of procedure.

4.    You are for all practical purposes assumed guilty until you can prove you are innocent. This one is truly baffling. No civilized society operates that way. If you are accused of something you are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

5.    The accused and his counsel have no right to obtain and review any of the evidence against him.

6.    The accused and his counsel are not provided the names of witnesses, nor are they permitted to cross-examine them.

7. There is a general unwillingness or outright refusal by certain of the         bishops to abide by applicable statutes of limitations, both in canon and civil law. There are good reasons for these statutes. Time has a way of clouding memories and distorting perceptions.

By the way, Canon Law does not dictate this. They choose to selectively ignore or violate both Canon Law and Civil Law, as they deem appropriate and or expeditious. Once again, they apparently have the discretionary power to do this, and if that’s the way it is I have to accept that as reality.

The bottom line is that the only way a just outcome is likely, in my view and that of my counsel, both civil and canon lawyers, is by accident, rather than as a result of the process.

I will not try to fight this irrational and unjust situation for the simple reason that I don’t want to be placed in an adversarial posture against the Church. For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep. Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that.

I can’t do what I can’t do. I can only do what I can do. I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep—this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world. I am, indeed, not ready to be extinguished. Under the name “The Black Sheep Dog,” I shall be with you through radio broadcasts and writing. My autobiography, “The Black Sheep Dog,” is almost ready for publication. My topics will be broader than in the past, and my audience likewise is apt to be broader. I’ll do what I can under the circumstances.

Please don’t bother the bishop or complain because it will do no good and it wastes valuable time and energy, both his and yours.

I hope you stay with us and follow us into our new domain and name of “The Black Sheep Dog.” Through writing and broadcasting we hope to continue to dispense truth and hope to a world so much in need of it. For those of you who choose to part company and go away from us, we wish you well and thank you for your many kindnesses over the years. We’ll miss you in our usual meeting places, but assure you that there will be new places for us to meet, just like in “the good old days,” so for now,

God bless you, God love you, and goodbye.

John Corapi (once called “father,” now “The Black Sheep Dog”)

The Church Or The Bible

“Where is the man, no matter what denomination, church or religion, that will deny that we are bound to believe what God has taught?”

The following sermon is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago when it was first preached by Father Arnold Damen, S.J.  This message was and still is a challenge to the many who pride themselves as being “Bible-and-Bible-Only Christians.”

One cannot have God for his Father, who will not have the Church for his Mother, and likewise, one cannot have the Word of God for his faith who will not have the Church for his teacher.  It is the infallible teaching authority of the Church, as promised by Christ, which alone preserves God’s Word from erroneous interpretation.  This is the essence of Fr. Damen’s sermon.

Every sincere Bible reader deserves to know the true relation God has established between His Church and Holy Scripture.  Therefore, we invite all who love the Bible, to read Father Damen’s exposition with an open mind, lest while reading the Scriptures “… the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:16]

The Church Or The Bible

I.

Dearly Beloved Christians, when our Divine Saviour sent His Apostles and His Disciples throughout the whole universe to preach the Gospel to every creature, He laid down the conditions of salvation thus: “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned”  [Mark 16:16].  Here, then, Our Blessed Lord laid down the two conditions of salvation, Faith and Baptism.  I will speak this evening on the condition of Faith.

We must have Faith in order to be saved, and we must have Divine Faith, not human faith.  Human faith will not save a man, but only Divine Faith.  What is Divine Faith?  It is to believe, upon the authority of God, the truths that God has revealed.  That is Divine Faith, to believe all that God has taught upon the authority of God, and to believe without doubting, without hesitation.  For the moment you begin to doubt or hesitate, that moment you begin to mistrust the authority of God, and, therefore, insult God by doubting His word.  Divine Faith, therefore, is to believe without doubting and without hesitating.  Human faith is belief upon the authority of men, on human authority.  But Divine Faith is to believe without doubting, without hesitating, whatsoever God has revealed upon the authority of God, upon the Word of God.

Therefore, my dear people, it is not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes, providing he be a good man.

You hear it said nowadays in this Nineteenth Century of little faith that it matter not what religion a man professes, providing he be a good man.  That is heresy, my dear people, and I will prove it to you to be such.  If it be a matter of indifference what a man believes, providing he be a good man, then it is useless for God to make any revelation whatever.  If a man is at liberty to reject what God revealeth, what’s the use for Christ to send out His Apostles and disciples to teach all nations, if those nations are at liberty to believe or reject the teachings of the Apostles or disciples? You see at once that this would be insulting God.

If God reveals a thing or teaches a thing, He wants to be believed.  Man is bound to believe whatsoever God has revealed, for, my dear people, we are bound to worship God, both with our reason and intellect, as well as with our heart and will.  God is master of the whole man.  He claims his will, his heart, his reason and his intellect.

Where is the man, no matter what denomination, church or religion, that will deny that we are bound to believe what God has taught?  I am sure there is not a Christian who will deny that we are bound to believe whatsoever God has revealed.  Therefore, it is not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes.  He must profess the true religion if he wants to be saved.

But what is the true religion?  To believe all that God has taught.  I am sure that even my Protestant friends will admit this is right, for, if they do not, I would say they are no Christians at all.

“But what is the true Faith?”

“The true Faith,”  say Protestant friends, “is to believe in the Lord Jesus.”

Agreed, Catholics believe in that.  Tell me what you mean by believing in the Lord Jesus?

“Why,”  says my Protestant friend, “you must believe that He is the Son of the Living God.”

Agreed again.  Thanks be to God, we can agree on something.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, that He is God.  To this we all agree, excepting the Unitarians and Socinians, but we will leave them alone tonight.  If Christ be God, then we must believe all He teaches.  Is this not so, my dearly beloved Protestant brethren and sisters?  And that’s the right Faith, isn’t it?

“Well, yes,”  says my Protestant friend, “I guess that is the right Faith.  To believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, we must believe all that Christ has taught.”

We Catholics say the same, and here we agree again.  We must believe all that Christ has taught, that God has revealed.  Without this Faith, there is no salvation.  Without this Faith, there is no hope of Heaven.  Without this Faith, there is eternal damnation!  We have the words of Christ for it, “He that believeth not shall be condemned.”

II.

But if Christ, my dearly beloved people commands me under pain of eternal damnation to believe all that He has taught, He must give me the means to know what He has taught.  And the means Christ gives us of knowing this must have been at all times within the reach of all people.

Secondly, the means that God gives us to know what He has taught must be a means adapted to the capacities of all intellects, even the dullest.  For even the dullest have a right to salvation, and consequently they have a right to the means whereby they shall learn the truths that God has taught, that they may believe them and be saved.

The means that God give us to know what he has taught must be an infallible means.  For if it be a means that can lead us astray, it can be no means at all.  It must be an infallible means, so that if a man makes use of that means, he will infallibly, without fear of mistake or error, be brought to a knowledge of all the truths that God has taught.

I don’t think there can be anyone present here, I care not what he is, a Christian or an unbeliever, who can object to my premises.  And these premises are the groundwork of my discourse and of all my reasoning, therefore, I want you to bear them in mind.  I will repeat them, for on these premises rests all the strength of my discourse and reasoning.

If God commands me under pain of eternal damnation to believe all that He has taught, He is bound to give me the means to know what He has taught.  And the means that God gives me must have been at all times within the reach of all people, must be adapted to the capacities of all intellects, must be an infallible means to us, so that if a man makes use of it he will be brought to a knowledge of all the truths that God has taught.

III.

Has God given us such means?  “Yes,”  say my Protestant friends, “He has.”  And so says the Catholic.  God has given us such means.  What is the means God has given us whereby we shall learn the truth that God has revealed?  “The Bible,”  say my Protestant friends, “the Bible, the whole of the Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”  But we Catholics say, “No, not the Bible and its private interpretation, but the Church of the Living God.”

I will prove the facts, and I defy all my separated brethren, and all the preachers, to disprove what I will say tonight.  I say, then, it is not the private interpretation of the Bible that has been appointed by God to be the teacher of man, but the Church of the Living God.

For, my dear people, if God has intended that man should learn His religion from a book, the Bible, surely God would have given that book to man.  Christ would have given that book to man.  Did He do it?  He did not.  Christ sent His Apostles throughout the whole universe and said, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Christ did not say, “Sit down and write Bibles and scatter them over the earth, and let every man read his Bible and judge for himself.”  If Christ had said that, there would never have been a Christianity on the earth at all, but a Babylon and confusion instead, and never one Church, the union of one body.  Hence, Christ never said to His Apostles, “Go and write Bibles and distribute them, and let everyone judge for himself.”  That injunction was reserved for the Sixteenth Century, and we have seen the result of it.  Ever since the Sixteenth Century there have been springing up religion upon religion, and churches upon churches, all fighting and quarreling with one another, and all because of the private interpretation of the Bible.

Christ sent His Apostles with authority to teach all nations, and never gave them any command of writing the Bible.  And the Apostles went forth and preached everywhere, and planted the Church of God throughout the earth, but never thought of writing.

The first word written was by Saint Matthew, and he wrote for the benefit of a few individuals.  He wrote the Gospel about seven years after Christ left this earth, so that the Church of God, established by Christ, existed seven years before a line was written of the New Testament.

Saint Mark wrote about ten years after Christ left this earth, Saint Luke about twenty-five years, and Saint John about sixty-three years after Christ had established the Church of God.  Saint John wrote the last portion of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, about sixty-five years after Christ had left this earth and the Church of God had been established.  The Catholic religion had existed sixty-five years before the Bible was completed.

Now, I ask you, my dearly beloved separated brethren.  Were these Christian people, who lived during the period between the establishment of the Church of Jesus and the finishing of the Bible, really Christians, good Christians and enlightened Christians?  Did they know the religion of Jesus?  Where is the man that will dare to say that those who lived from the time that Christ went up to Heaven to the time that the Bible was completed were not Christians?  It is admitted on all sides, by all denominations, that they were the very best of Christians, the first fruit of the Blood of Jesus Christ.

But how did they know what they had to do to save their souls?  Was it from the Bible that they learned it?  No, because the Bible was not written.  And would our Divine Saviour have left His Church for sixty-five years without a teacher, if the Bible is the teacher of man?  Most assuredly not.

Were the Apostles Christians, I ask you, my dear Protestant friends?  You say, “Yes sir, they were the very founders of Christianity.”  Now, my dear friends, none of the Apostles ever read the Bible, not one of them except perhaps, Saint John.  For all of them had died martyrs for the Faith of Jesus Christ and never saw the cover of a Bible.  Every one of them died martyrs and heroes for the Church of Jesus before the Bible was completed.

How, then, did those Christians, that lived in the first sixty-five years after Christ ascended, know what they had to do to save their souls?  They knew it precisely in the same way that you know it, my dear Catholic friends.  You know it from the teachings of the Church of God and so did the primitive Christians know it.

IV.

For not only sixty-five years did Christ leave the Church He had established without a Bible, but for over three hundred years.  The Church of God was established and went on spreading itself over the whole globe without the Bible for more than three hundred years.  In all that time the people did not know what constituted the Bible.

In the days of the Apostles, there were many false gospels.  There was the Gospel of Simon, the Gospel of Nicodemus, of Mary, of Barnabas, and the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus.  All of these gospels were spread among the people, and the people did not know which of these were inspired and which were false and spurious.  Even the learned themselves were disputing whether preference should be given to the Gospel of Simon or that of Matthew, to the Gospel of Nicodemus or the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Mary or that of Luke, the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus or the Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist.

And so it was in regard to the epistles.  Many spurious epistles were written and the people were at a loss for over three hundred years to know which was false or spurious, or which was inspired.  And, therefore, they did not know what constituted the books of the Bible.

It was not until the Fourth Century that the Pope of Rome, the Head of the Church, the successor of Saint Peter, assembled together the Bishops of the world in a council.  And there in that council it was decided that the Bible, as we Catholics have it now, is the Word of God, and that the Gospels of Simon, Nicodemus, Mary, the Infancy of Jesus, and Barnabas, and all those other epistles were spurious or, at least, unauthentic.  At least, that there was no evidence of their inspiration, and that the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the Book of Revelation, were inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Up to that time the whole world for three hundred years did not know what the Bible was.  Hence, they could not take the Bible for their guide, for they did not know what constituted the Bible.  Would our Divine Saviour, if He intended man to learn his religion from a book, have left the Christian world for three hundred years without that book?  Most assuredly not.

V.

Not only for three hundred years was the world left without the Bible, but for 1,400 years the Christian world was left without the Sacred Book.

Before the art of printing was invented, Bibles were rare things.  Bibles were costly things.  Now, you must all be aware, if you have read history at all, that the art of printing was invented only a little more than four hundred years ago, about the middle of the Fifteenth Century, and about one hundred years before there was a Protestant in the world.

As I have said, before printing was invented books were rare and costly things.  Historians tell us that, in the Eleventh Century, eight hundred years ago, Bibles were so rare and costly that it took a fortune, a considerable fortune, to buy oneself a copy of the Bible!  Before the art of printing, everything had to be done with the pen upon parchment or sheepskin.  It was, therefore, a tedious and slow operation, a costly operation.

Now, in order to arrive at the probable cost of a Bible at that time, let us suppose that a man should work ten years to make a copy of the Bible and earn a dollar a day.  Well, then, the cost of that Bible would be $3,650.  Now, let us suppose that a man should work at the copying of the Bible for twenty years, as historians say it would have taken him at that time, not having the conveniences and improvements to aid him that we have now.  Then, at a dollar a day, for twenty years, the cost of a Bible would be nearly $8,000.

Suppose I came and said to you, “My dear people, save your soul, for if you lose your soul all is lost.”  You would ask, “What are we to do to save our souls?”  The Protestant preacher would say to you, “You must get a Bible.  You can get one at such-and-such a shop.”  You would ask the cost and be told it was $8,000.  You would exclaim, “The Lord save us!  And can we not go to Heaven without that book?”  The answer would be: “No, you must have the Bible and read it.”  You murmur at the price, but are asked, “Is not your soul worth $8,000?”  Yes, of course it is, but you say you do not have the money, and if you cannot get a Bible, and your salvation depends upon it, evidently you would have to remain outside the Kingdom of Heaven.  This would be a hopeless condition, indeed.

For 1,400 years the world was left without a Bible — not one in ten thousand, not one in twenty thousand, before the art of printing was invented, had the Bible.  And would our Divine Lord have left the world without that book if it was necessary to man’s salvation?  Most assuredly not.

VI.

But let us suppose for a moment that all had Bibles, that Bibles were written from the beginning, and that every man, woman, and child had a copy.  What good would that book be to people who did not know how to read it?  It is a blind thing to such persons.

Even now one-half the inhabitants of the earth cannot read.  Moreover, as the Bible was written in Greek and Hebrew, it would be necessary to know these languages in order to be able to read it.

But it is said that we have it translated now in French, English, and other languages of the day.  Yes, but are you sure you have a faithful translation?  If not, you have not the Word of God.  If you have a false translation, it is the work of man.  How shall you ascertain that?  How shall you find out if you have a faithful translation from the Greek and Hebrew?

“I do not know Greek or Hebrew,”  says my separated friend; “for my translation I must depend upon the opinion of the learned.”

Well, then, my dear friends, suppose the learned should be divided in their opinions, and some of them should say it is good, and some false? Then your faith is gone, you must begin doubting and hesitating, because you do not know if the translation is good.

Now with regard to the Protestant translation of the Bible, allow me to tell you that the most learned among Protestants tell you that your translation, the King James edition, is a very faulty translation and is full of errors.  Your own learned divines, preachers, and bishops have written whole volumes to point out all the errors that are there in the King James translation, and Protestants of various denominations acknowledge it.

Some years ago, when I lived in St. Louis, there was held in that city a convention of ministers.  All denominations were invited, the object being to arrange for a new translation of the Bible, and give it to the world.  The proceedings of the convention were published daily in the Missouri Republican.  A very learned Presbyterian, I think it was, stood up, and, urging the necessity of giving a new translation of the Bible, said that in the present Protestant translation of the Bible there were no less than 30,000 errors.

And you say, my dear Protestant friends, that the Bible is your guide and teacher.  What a teacher, with 30,000 errors!  The Lord save us from such a teacher!  One error is bad enough, but thirty thousand is a little too much.

Another preacher stood up in the convention, I think he was a Baptist, and, urging the necessity of giving a new translation of the Bible, said for thirty years past the world was without the Word of God, for the Bible we have is not the Word of God at all.

Here are your own preachers for you.  You all read the newspapers, no doubt, my friends, and must know what happened in England a few years ago.  A petition was sent to Parliament for an allowance of a few thousand pounds sterling for the purpose of getting up a new translation of the Bible.  And that movement was headed and carried on by Protestant bishops and clergymen.

VII.

But, my dear people, how can you be sure of your faith?  You say the Bible is your guide, but you cannot be sure that you have the faith.  Let us suppose for a moment that all have a Bible which is a faithful translation.  Even then it cannot be the guide of man, because the private interpretation of the Bible is not infallible, but, on the contrary, most fallible.  It is the source and fountain of all kinds of errors and heresies and all kinds of blasphemous doctrines.  Do not be shocked, my dear friends.  Just be calm and listen to my arguments.

There are now throughout the world 350 different denominations or churches, and all of them say the Bible is their guide and teacher.  I suppose they are all sincere.  Are all of them true churches?  This is an impossibility.  Truth is one as God is one, and there can be no contradiction.  Every man in his senses sees that every one of them cannot be true, for they differ and contradict one another, and cannot, therefore, be all true.  The Protestants say the man that reads the Bible right and prayerfully has truth, and they all say that they read it right.

Let us suppose that there is an Episcopal minister.  He is a sincere, honest, well-meaning and prayerful man.  He reads his Bible in a prayerful spirit, and from the word of the Bible, he says it is clear that there must be bishops.  For without bishops there can be no priests, without priests no Sacraments, and without Sacraments no Church.  The Presbyterian is a sincere and well-meaning man.  He reads the Bible also, and deduces that there should be no bishops, but only presbyters.  “Here is the Bible,”  says the Episcopalian, and “here is the Bible to give you the lie,”  says the Presbyterian.  Yet both of them are prayerful and well-meaning men.

Then the Baptist comes in.  He is a well-meaning, honest man, and prayerful also.  “Well,”  says the Baptist, “have you ever been baptized?”  “I was,” says the Episcopalian, “when I was a baby.”

“And so was I,”  says the Presbyterian, “when I was a baby.”  “But,”  says the Baptist, “you are going to Hell as sure as you live.”

Next comes the Unitarian, well-meaning, honest, and sincere.  “Well,” says the Unitarian, “allow me to tell you that you are a pack of idolators.  You worship a man for a God who is no God at all.”  And he gives several texts from the Bible to prove it, while the others are stopping their ears that they may not hear the blasphemies of the Unitarian.  And they all contend that they have the true meaning of the Bible.

Next comes the Methodist, and he says, “My friends, have you got any religion at all?”  “Of course we have,”  they say.  “Did you ever feel religion,”  says the Methodist, “the spirit of God moving within you?”  “Nonsense,”  says the Presbyterian, “we are guided by our reason and judgment.”  “Well,”  says the Methodist, “if you never felt religion, you never had it, and will go to Hell for eternity.”

The Universalist next comes in, and hears them threatening one another with eternal hellfire.  “Why,”  says he, “you are a strange set of people.  Do you not understand the Word of God?  There is no Hell at all.  That idea is good enough to scare old women and children,”  and he proves it from the Bible.

Now comes in the Quaker.  He urges them not to quarrel, and advises that they do not baptize at all.  He is the sincerest of men, and gives the Bible for his faith.

Another comes in and says, “Baptize the men and leave the women alone.  For the Bible says, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  “So,”  says he, “the women are all right, but baptize the men.”

Next comes in the Shaker and he says, “You are a presumptuous people.  Do you not know that the Bible tells you that you must work out your salvation in fear and trembling, and you do not tremble at all.  My brethren, if you want to go to Heaven shake, my brethren, shake!”

VIII.

I have here brought together seven or eight denominations, differing one from another, or understanding the Bible in different ways, illustrative of the fruits of private interpretation.  What, then, if I brought together the 350 different denominations, all taking the Bible for their guide and teaching, and all differing from one another?  Are they all right?  One says there is a Hell, and another says there is not Hell.  Are both right?  One says Christ is God, another says He is not.  One says they are unessential.  One says Baptism is a requisite, and another says it is not.  Are both true?  This is an impossibility, my friends.  All cannot be true.

Who, then, is true?  He that has the true meaning of the Bible, you say.  But the Bible does not tell us who that is, the Bible never settles the quarrel.  It is not the teacher.

The Bible, my dear people, is a good book.  We Catholics admit that the Bible is the Word of God, the language of inspiration, and every Catholic is exhorted to read the Bible.  But good as it is, the Bible, my dear friends, does not explain itself.  It is a good book, the Word of God, the language of inspiration, but your explanation of the Bible is not the language of inspiration.  Your understanding of the Bible is not inspired, for surely you do not pretend to be inspired!

It is with the Bible as it is with the Constitution of the United States.  When Washington and his associates established the Constitution and the Supreme Law of the United States, they did not say to the people of the States: “Let every man read the Constitution and make a government unto himself.  Let every man make his own explanation of the Constitution.”  If Washington had done that, there never would have been a United States.  The people would all have been divided among themselves, and the country would have been cut up into a thousand different divisions or governments.

What did Washington do?  He gave the people the Constitution and the Supreme Law, and appointed his Supreme Court and Supreme Judge of the Constitution.  And these are to give the true explanation of the Constitution to all the American citizens, all without exception, from the President to the beggar.  All are bound to go by the decisions of the Supreme Court, and it is this and this alone that can keep the people together and preserve the Union of the United States.  At the moment the people take the interpretation of the Constitution into their own hands, there is the end of the union.

And so it is in every government.  So it is here and everywhere.  There is a Constitution, a Supreme Court or Law, a Supreme Judge of that Constitution, and that Supreme Court is to give us the meaning of the Constitution and the Law.

In every well-ruled country there must be such a thing as this: a Supreme Law, Supreme Court, Supreme Judge, that all the people abide by.  All are bound by decisions, and without that, no government could stand.  Even among the Indian tribes such a condition of affairs exists.  How are they kept together?  By their chief, who is their dictator.

So our Divine Savior also has established His Supreme Court, His Supreme Judge, to give us the true meaning of the Scriptures, and to give us the true revelation and doctrines of the Word of Jesus.  The Son of the Living God has pledged His Word that this Supreme Court is infallible, and therefore, the true Catholic never doubts.

“I believe,”  says the Catholic, “because the Church teaches me so.  I believe the Church because God has commanded me to believe her.”  Jesus said:  “Tell the Church.  And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”  [Matt 18:17].  “He that believeth you believeth Me.”  said Christ, “and he that despiseth you despiseth Me.”  [Luke 10:16].  Therefore, the Catholic believes because God has spoken, and upon the authority of God.

But our Protestant friends say, “We believe in the Bible.”  Very well, how do you understand the Bible?  “Well,”  says the Protestant, “to the best of my opinion and judgment this is the meaning of the text.”  He is not sure of it, but to the best of his opinion and judgment.  This, my friends, is only the testimony of a man.  It is only human faith, not Divine Faith.

It is Divine Faith alone by which we give honor and glory to God, by which we adore His infinite wisdom and veracity.  That adoration and worship is necessary for salvation.

I have now proved to you that private interpretation of the Scripture cannot be the guide or teacher of man.  In another lecture I shall prove that the Catholic Church is the only true Church of God, and that there is no other.

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(Full Text) Pope Benedict XVI Lenten Message — You Were Buried with Him in Baptism, in Which You Were Also Raised with Him

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism…”

Ananias Baptizes Paul

Pope Benedict XVI Lenten Message — You Were Buried with Him in Baptism, in Which You Were Also Raised with Him

1. This very life was already bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism, when we “become sharers in Christ’s death and Resurrection”, and there began for us “the joyful and exulting adventure of his disciples” (Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January, 2010). In his Letters, St. Paul repeatedly insists on the singular communion with the Son of God that this washing brings about. The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives “the mind of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely. The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that “I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.

particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.

2. In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.

The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.

The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.

The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.

The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.

On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.

The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples.

3. By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. In Christ, God revealed himself as Love (cf. 1Jn 4: 7-10). The Cross of Christ, the “word of the Cross”, manifests God’s saving power (cf. 1Cor 1: 18), that is given to raise men and women anew and bring them salvation: it is love in its most extreme form (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 12). Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way.Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).

In our journey, we are often faced with the temptation of accumulating and love of money that undermine God’s primacy in our lives. The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practice almsgiving – which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. How can we understand God’s paternal goodness, if our heart is full of egoism and our own projects, deceiving us that our future is guaranteed? The temptation is to think, just like the rich man in the parable: “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come…”. We are all aware of the Lord’s judgment: “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul…” (Lk 12: 19-20). The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God’s primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy.

During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God’s Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer; by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his “words will not pass away” (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him “that no one shall take from you” (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life.

In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life.

From the Vatican, 4 November, 2010

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2011 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Josephine County Christians: What would John Calvin and Martin Luther think of Evangelical Protestantism(s) today?

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder, pain...
Image via Wikipedia

Always keeping in mind and heart the following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Speaking of the separation of our brothers and sisters, paragraph # 818 states, “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these community [that resulted from such separation’ and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers… All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.” (C.C.C. # 818)

I’m embarking on a new series of posts for the unity of the one Church Christ the Lord prayed for, and all responses towards that end or welcomed–Today’s first post asks the question:

What would John Calvin and Martin Luther think of Evangelical Protestantism(s) today?

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