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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Answering - Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics Chapter 4 (Pt 1)

Chapter 4 – Sola Scriptura Versus Tradition – Part 2

The Issue: Catholics offer some examples of tradition that is found in the New Testament and this chapter addresses those verses offered as proofs.
The Facts: Let’s see what he has to say.

1.   (65) Matthew 2:23 - He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean."
The issue – Catholics point to this verse which claims that Jesus is fulfilling an oracle of the prophets. But when the Old Testament writing are searched there is no prophecy given it writing, but there was an oral prophecy, which is what the verse suggests, that was in circulation at the time of Jesus and that is what is being fulfilled here.
He Asks – He suggests that the town of Nazareth in Biblical times was infamous for being associated with sinners. This makes some sense because Philip asks the question John 1:46 – can anything good come out of Nazareth? So in Jesus’ day being called a Nazorean would be associated with being despised and hated. The prophets in the Old Testament do tell us that the Messiah would be despised and hated and Jesus is partially fulfilling this by living in a despised and hated town.
I Respond – It is as simple as this – A prophetic statement has been made – It can’t be found written – therefore it must be in oral. It is authoritative because it comes from God so it must be believed. That is what we call Oral Tradition. We don’t have to do mental gymnastics over the character of the town of Nazareth, find that character in the Old Testament applied to the Messiah, and then apply it to Jesus. The Catholic apologist is simply trying to point out that there are authoritative statements made by God that might not be written down.
·       (67) He Asks – ‘Did you know that Nazarene was a term of scorn back in biblical times, indicating “one who is despised”?’
I would say  - I know that now.
·       (67) He Asks – Since numerous Old Testament passages indicate that the Messiah would be a despised character, can you see that possibility that Matthew’s use of Nazarene in reference to the Messiah was intended to give the substance of many Old Testament prophecies and not a direct quote from a single prophet?
I would say – I hear what your saying but I think here the Scriptures are clear. A prophetic statement has been made – It can’t be found written – therefore it must be in oral. It is authoritative because it comes from God so it must be believed. That is what we call Oral Tradition. To bring this into modern times let’s say Jesus He went and dwelt in a town called Gloucester, Massachusetts, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Gloucesterite? ( I might be butchering that one)." Hey, Gloucester is known for its fisherman, let’s see what the Old Testament says about fisherman. It says God would some day call many fisherman as fulfilled by Jesus. Therefore it doesn’t need to say explicitly by any one prophet in the Old Testament that He shall be called a Gloucesterite.
I just say stick with the word of God.

2.   (68) Matthew 23:2, 3   saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.   Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.
The issue – Catholics point out these verses to non-Catholics because of the term “the chair of Moses.” Just from the context we can tell that this is a place of authority. Historically it was a physical seat in a synagogue. The idea of the “chair of Moses” is not found in the Old Testament. Now I have never used this verse to prove Sacred Tradition, but I have used it to prove just plain old oral tradition. Not everything was written down.
·        (70) He Asks – “Since Jesus in this same Gospel of Matthew indicates that tradition can be wrong and lead people astray – and since He places God’s Word over tradition (Matthew 15:6) – is it not unwise to argue for the authority of tradition from Matthew 23:2, 3?”
I Respond – I don’t think so, for two reasons. The first is that Jesus condemns the traditions of man that nullify the Word of God. We agree and do that as well. The second is that Matthew himself is only writing down a portion of his experience with Jesus. Think of this, Matthew spent three years of his life with Jesus, and yet his Gospel can be read in about 2 hours. We know Jesus said more, because of the other Gospels. We know that there is more important information to be known because of the teachings of St. Paul and the other inspired writers. Dare we say that is all that there is, how can we be so sure?
I would follow up with – Would you be obedient to Jesus’ words here is they were in your hearing? Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you” Would you do that? If you say no, then we disobey Jesus. If you say yes, then you are subjecting yourself to an authority, namely the Pharisees, whose position has no Biblical basis. There are no Pharisees in the Old Testament mentioned. Yet Jesus recognizes them as those who are to be obeyed, yet not imitated.

·       (71) He Asks – “Did you know that synagogue worship first emerged in postexilic times, long after the time of Moses?” (Meaning synagogues weren’t probably invented until after the Jews returned from their exile in Babylon 500 years before Jesus.
I respond – Yes, I know that now.
·       (71) He Asks – “Since historically the “chair of Moses” in the synagogue came into use far after the actual time of Moses, is it not clear that the reference to this chair cannot be cited in support of an oral tradition that goes back to Moses?”
I Respond – It doesn’t matter if it goes back to the time of Moses or not, my point in bringing up the “chair of Moses” was that there was an idea of this in the first century that is not written about in the Old Testament, yet existed obviously in Old Testament times. What I am trying to show you is that there ideas that were lived out by the Jews that were not explicitly written down before Jesus yet they had a place in the lives of the Jewish people in Jesus’ day.

I Would Ask – If you agree to this then why couldn’t that be true about the apostles day? There were things they did and taught that were legitimate, but didn’t make it into the pages of Scripture, yet made it into the lives of the first Christians.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Answering Dr. Ron Rhodes Concerning Why We Have More Books In Our Bibles.

Chapter 2 - The Apocrypha – Does It Belong In The Bible?


All quotes are from "Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics" by Dr. Ron Rhodes
A Step-by-Step guide to sharing the Good News with Catholics
The (numbers in parenthesis refer to page numbers in the book)
The Issue: Catholics have 7 more books in their Bibles than non-Catholics. Catholics say that they belong in the Bible, while non-Catholics say that they do not.
The Facts: In Jesus’ day there were several groups of Jews – Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Jews that lived in Palestine and Jews that lived outside of Palestine – who while they agreed on major doctrinal issues disagreed on others, like which books belonged in the Bible. This issue was not settled in Jesus’ day. Jesus comes and preaches the Gospel which is then partially written down and discussed by the various New Testament authors. These books and letters were distributed to their audience, then copied and made available for other Christian communities to read. At the same time other authors began to write who were not apostles, some were legitimate and others were not.  In time the apostles died leaving their authority to other worthy men. In first quarter of the second century (135 A.D.) the Jews, zealous concerning a new religious leader in their midst (Bar Kokhba), closed the Hebrew canon and condemned the beliefs of the Christians. Meanwhile the true and false writings concerning Christ continued to circulate. No counsel was held to judge the legitimacy about certain books because from the year 65 to 313 A.D. Christianity was illegal under Roman law.  Yet in that period many individual Christians had drawn up lists of books that they believed were inspired by God. While there were core books that everyone listed, there were other books from both the Old and New Testament that were disputed. Finally at the local counsels of Rome (382), Hippo (393), and Carthage (397), Catholic bishops (for all Christians were Catholic at this time, except for the Arians) recognized 73 books that made up the Old and New Testament. This was the list that everyone accepted. In 1431 a council was held in Florence, Italy that reaffirmed that those 73 books were in fact inspired.
Years later in 1517 Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church, he removed from the Old Testament books that Jews in his day did not have in their Bibles ( these are the 7 books of the Old Testament their are - Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (a.k.a Sirach), Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees. Many do not know that he also wanted to remove Hebrews, James, and Revelation from the New Testament as well.
                In response to his protests, the Catholic Church once again held a council, this time in the city of Trent (1545-1563) where they re-reaffirmed that it is 73 books that belong in the Bible.
The Misconception: In 1545 the Catholic Church added 7 books to the Old Testament to support its teachings.        

1.       Apocryphal Books Do Not Claim To Be Inspired
·         He Asks – What does it say to you that not a single apocryphal book claims to have been inspired by God?
I Respond – It doesn’t say much considering most of the books of the Bible don’t claim to be inspired by God.
I Would Ask – If a book does in fact claim to be inspired by God like the Book of Mormon, does that mean that it is inspired? – Obviously not. What happened was that the same Holy Spirit who had inspired men in the 300’s to say officially that the New Testament books were inspired, also lead the same men to say that those 7 books in the Old Testament were inspired as well. So if you trust them with their decision of the New Testament books, why not trust them with their decision of the Old Testament books as well. The opposite is true also – if they got it wrong about the Old Testament, maybe they got it wrong about the New Testament.
·         He Asks – If the apocryphal books are inspired, why weren’t the writers of these books confirmed by divine miracles like the Old and New Testament writers?
He then sites 1 Kings 18 – which is the story of when Elijah confronted Ahab about who the Israelites were going to serve – God or Baal. Fire then falls from heaven and consumes the sacrifice which Elijah has made in front of many witnesses proving that God and not Baal is the true God.
Honestly I thought this question was confusing because it either means that a book much contain miracles to prove that it is inspired, or the writer of the book worked miracles.
I Respond - If a book must contain miracles to be inspired, then books like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Philemon are out. If a book must have been written by someone who performed miracles then St. Luke is out because no miracles are attributed to him. If you need miracles in those seven books, then Tobit and the Maccabbees have those in them.
·         He Asks – If the apocryphal books are inspired, why didn’t they contain predictive prophecy like the Old and New Testament books?
I Respond – Many Old and New Testament book don’t contain predictive prophecy does that negate their inspiration?
I Would Ask – If it did contain prophecy would that make it inspired? If they say yes then read
Wisdom 2:12 12 Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. 13 He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. 14 To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, 15 Because his life is not like other men's, and different are his ways. 16 He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. 17 Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. 18 For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. 19 With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. 20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him."

2.       New Testament Writers Do Not Quote The Apocrypha
Introduction – Dr. Rhodes begins on faulty footing when he says, “Jesus and the disciples virtually ignore these books-something that would not have been the case if they had considered them to be inspired.”
I Respond – There are several problems with this argument. The first is that just because a book is quoted in the New Testament doesn’t mean that it is inspired. The second is that the pagan poet Epimenides and the Book of Enoch are both quoted in the New Testament does that mean that they are inspired? No. Likewise just because these 7 books are not quoted doesn’t imply that they aren’t inspired or else Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah – because these books that are accepted by everyone are not quoted in the New Testament as well – would call their inspiration into question.

·         (34)He Asks - What do you think that suggests to you that the New Testament writers often quoted from the Old Testament, but never quoted from an apocryphal book?
I Respond – I would answer that I guess God didn’t want them quoted in the New Testament along with many other books from the Old Testament. (See my response in the introduction to this section)
·         (35)He Asks – In view of the fact that the New Testament writers virtually ignored the Apocrypha, do you think that they viewed it as Scripture?
I Respond - I can’t say for sure – they do allude to them many times in their writings – I would even ask if they thought that their own writings were inspired. I don’t imagine that they did. What I do know is that the Church that Christ gave us with His own authority recognized in the late 300 which books, were and were not inspired and it is was those 73 (not 66) books that made up the Bible for everyone until the Martin Luther threw them out.

3.       Many Church Fathers Denied The Apocrypha
Introduction – Dr. Rhodes begin by saying, “certain church fathers spoke approvingly of the Apocrypha.”
I Respond – not only did they disagree about the Old Testament books, but they disagreed about the New Testament books as well. This debate would continue until the late 300’s. The reason that this issue wasn’t settled officially by the church until the late 300’s is because they had been persecuted more most of that time by the Roman government. Many Church Fathers gave lists of books that they considered inspired. Some Old Testament books and New Testament books were called into question, but with the councils of Rome in the 380’s, Hippo in 393 and Carthage in 397 (all of which accepted those 73 books that we have today) – the question was settled.
So calling into question what the early Church Fathers thought was inspired also kind of backfires because it was at those same councils that the New Testament canon was recognized officially as well.

4.       Early Christian Evidence Argues Against The Apocrypha
In this section Dr. Rhodes gives us an example of a church father who outright denied all of the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. This doesn’t turn out to be a true as he probably would have hoped. Dr. Rhodes quotes Eusebius who is quoting Melito of Sardis who says this:
‘Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to you as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book ; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books. Such are the words of Melito.’ (Eusebius, Church History, Book 4 Ch 26:14)
Dr. Rhodes then goes on to say, “Notice that Melito affirmed all the Old Testament books except the Book of Esther, but did not mention a single apocryphal book (RFS p.36).” The problem can be seen with the emboldened and underlined word Wisdom. This refers to the Wisdom of Solomon – one of the ‘apocryphal’ books that Melito is supposedly not mentioning. Now the fact that Melito doesn’t mention Esther ( a book everyone today has in their Bibles), just goes to show that in Melito’s time (170 A.D.), the debate still continued about which books should go in the Bible.

5.       The Early Jews Of Palestine Rejected The Apocrypha
Dr. Rhodes tries to make that case that because the Jews after Jesus’ day rejected the apocrypha, we should reject it as well. It should be noted that these same Jews rejected the New Testament books as well, so should we do the same?

6.       There Are Historical Errors In The Apocrypha
·         (37)He Asks – Does God make mistakes?
I Respond - Nope
·         (37)He Asks – Do books inspired by God contain mistakes?
I Respond - Nope
·         (37-38)He Asks – Did you know that history and archeology are true friends of the Old and New Testament because they verify numerous customs, places, names, and events in Bible times?
I Respond - Yep
·         (38)He Asks – Did you know, by contrast, that the apocryphal books contain many historical errors?
I Respond – No they don’t.
                He suggests - pointing out some historical difficulties in the book of Tobit
I would follow up - Many people say that there are historical problems with the New Testament and other Old Testament books. While this has been the claim, God’s word throughout time has always proven to be true, and this has been confirmed through archeology and the discovery of other ancient texts. Like Cardinal Newman said, "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt."
The ancient times were just as complicated as things are today, and we only get to see a small fraction of this history through the little texts that remain. Therefore while at times things seem to contradict, it is our lack of information that might be the problem, not the text.
Something else to consider is that we believe that only the original works of the authors are inspired by God. Copyists do make errors, which very well may be the case in the book of Tobit.
Finally I would say this – If God appeared to the person and assured them that it was inspired and reliable, then would the person still doubt because of the current history, or would they trust God? Hopefully they would trust God. We believe that God has spoken through the Church and revealed which books are inspired both Old and New and we have faith that what he is given is infallible.
·          (38)He Asks – What does that tell you regarding whether the Apocrypha is inspired by God?
I Respond – I believe that it is inspired

7.       The Apocrypha Contains Unbiblical Doctrines
·         (38-39)He Asks – Since we know that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God and that the Apocrypha clearly contradicts the Old and New Testaments at numerous points, what can we conclude about the Apocrypha?
I Respond – Catholics agree that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, but no part of the Bible contradicts any other part of the Bible. Now what is happening is that these Biblical teaching found in these 7 books of the Old Testament are contradicting Dr. Rhodes private interpretation on the New and Old Testament, therefore he sees a contradiction where there really is none. Let’s examine the ones presented:


I will answer these questions below later.
8.       The Septuagint Argument Is Flawed
9.       The Catacombs Argument Is Not Convincing
10.    The Church Council Argument Is Not Convincing
11.    The Qumran Argument Is Not Convincing
12.    Tests Of Canonicity
13.    Hebrews 11:35 – A Citation From The Apocrypha


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making Sense of Mary


On special Marian feasts , there are some who wonder why we hold Mary up to such a high degree, we can at times find ourselves at a loss of words trying to explain why we believe those particular things about Mary. Today is recommended the remedy to such a situation.

The long awaited work by Gary Michuta called – Making Sense of Mary – is finally available for purchase.

What makes Gary’s book different from all of the other apologetic works on Mary – that you know of?

I have heard some amazing apologists make bulletproof arguments for the different Marian doctrines that we believe as Catholics.  What Gary does in his book is take a few steps back from the individual Marian doctrines and gives us the bigger picture of how Mary fits into the story of our salvation.

Now before I read the book, I could defend each one of the doctrines particular to Mary, Her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and Assumption etc. But what I couldn’t do, that – Making Sense of Mary – helped me do, is show how they all fit together and are a necessary part of the story of our redemption.

He does this in just two easy to read chapters. First he goes back to the beginning and presents an in-depth study of the fall of Adam and Eve. Then, because you now know exactly what was lost by in the fall of our first parents and what was gained by the devil, he takes you through the story of salvation and shows now what is lost to the devil and regained by Jesus and Mary.

Gary shows that just as Jesus is presented in scripture as The New Adam, Mary can then be rightly seen as The New Eve. It is on this scaffolding – so to speak – that all of these teachings hang.

Who is the target audience of this book?

This book is written with non-Catholic Bible believers in mind, and Catholics in mind. It begins in chapter one laying a foundation to put the non-Catholic at ease. Gary has three ground rules

#1 Christ alone saves us.
#2 God’s plan of redemption is perfect and complete and lacking in nothing.
#3 Satan’s defeat in redemption is perfect and complete and lacking in nothing.

These are super important for the non-Catholic to hear, because the reason that they aren’t honoring Mary to begin with is because they believe that this somehow eclipses the honor that we give to Jesus. The other reason why they don’t see these doctrines in Scripture is two fold. Firstly, these doctrines have been passed on more explicitly in Catholic Tradition than in Scripture. Secondly, you have to study the language and culture of the Israelites of the Old Testament and understand how Jesus is fulfilling that in the New Testament – which is hard to do when each generation of Bible believing non-Catholics is trying to reinterpret the scriptures for themselves.

Give us a quick insight into some of the things that Gary is trying to point out.

One thing that struck me is from the Magnificat of Mary. This is the scene where she is visiting Elizabeth and begins this prayer -

Luke 1:46-55
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
Later she says this:
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
So when she says that God has looked with favor on this lowly servant – who is she talking about? She is talking about herself. She is the lowly servant.
But then she says this, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.”
So the might have been cast from their thrones, and the lowly have been lifted up – up to where? Up to the thrones.
Here in the magnificat, we have Mary implying that she the lowly servant will be lifted up to a throne. Now don’t we know that as Mary’s Queenship? Yet it is hidden here in the magnificat.
Another beautiful example is when he is comparing Adam and Eve to Jesus and Mary – that when it speaks of the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden it says this:
Genesis 3:23 The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24 When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

So we read how the man was expelled from the garden of Eden, well did the woman get expelled? It never says it right out that she was expelled. But then we read the next verse:

Genesis 4:1 1 The man had relations with his wife Eve.

So we see that Eve did get expelled and was with Adam, because we then see them together.
So what had happened to the Adam, had also happened to Eve, though never explicitly stated, but the next time we see them, they are together.

What about Jesus the New Adam, and Mary, the New Eve? The Bible shows that Jesus ascended into heaven, the Bible never says that Mary was assumed into heaven.

Yet, just like the first Adam and Eve, what had happened to him, then happened to her, Jesus and Mary are the same way. The Bible never says that Mary was assumed into heaven, yet after the ascension, in Revelation 12 what do we see…

Revelation 12:1 1 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman 2 clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

We see Mary in a heavenly vision, crowned queen – along with the New Adam, Jesus
Revelation 12:5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

He is a New King. It never says explicitly that Mary was assumed into heaven, but what happens to the New Adam also happens to the New Eve.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why Do Catholics "Keep Jesus On The Cross"?

 Catholics are often accused of keeping “Jesus on the cross” which to some Bible believers seems to deny that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and lives right not at the right side of the Father. So why do we have pictures of Jesus on the cross.

They say that a picture is word a thousand words. The crucifix is a picture worth and infinite number of words, but today we will stick with some inspired words from scripture, because they are from God.

The cross is picture of radical love. We have all heard Jesus say:

NAB John 15:13 1 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.

But here are the words that we forget from St. Paul

NAB Romans 5:7 Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.  8 But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9 How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. 10 Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

You can imagine being in a back alley and it looks as though a mugger is not only going to take your money, but your life as well. If there is someone else there you might try to courageously defeat the mugger so your friend’s life will be spared.

Now imagine as though you are the mugger, and you are trying to mug Jesus, when suddenly a murderous gang heads down the same alley and Jesus throws himself into the crowd so that you can escape. THIS is what St. Paul is talking about.

NAB Romans 5:8 But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Again the cross is a picture of a radical kind of love.

The cross is a picture of Christ in His Glory.


RSV John 12:23 23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.

Now if I were to ask you outside the context of this radio broadcast – when was Jesus glorified? Most people would naturally respond – at his resurrection, or ascension, and they would be correct to a certain extent because yes at the resurrection Jesus has a glorified body and is back from the dead and when Jesus is ascending into heaven it is to be seated at the right hand of God – amen.

But listen to what else Jesus describes as his Glory.

RSV John 12:24 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.

Jesus says:
RSV John 12:23 23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.
And then talks about wheat dying, and losing you life, and following Jesus. So this glory doesn’t sound very glorious.

Finally

RSV John 12:27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.

Father save me from this hour – is Jesus asking the Father to save him from the resurrection and ascension into heaven? No, he is saying Father save me from the this death, and cross. Yet the cross is described as his glory. Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

This is also a picture that has medicinal properties.
RSV John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,
-        Moses lifted the serpent up in the wilderness so that all who looked upon it would be healed on their snake bites. Jesus on the cross heals all those who look upon Him on the cross who have been bitten by the devil.
RSV John 8:28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.
RSV John 12:32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."


The crucifix was a picture of God’s wisdom and power.

RSV 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
RSV 1 Corinthians 2:1 When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Finally the crucifix is a picture of our marriage to Christ. Just as God put Adam in a deep sleep and from his side formed his wife Eve, So from the water and blood of Christ’s side did we come forth (in our baptism and Eucharist) when he slept the sleep of death on the cross.

The catechism says this in:

1067 … For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth 'the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church."'

For this reason, the Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rock Solid Faith

In an age of uncertainty it seems as though this attitude has infected many who believe in Jesus. These are some things I hear people say that suggest this.

When discussing and disagreeing about doctrine people say, “I guess we will find out when we meet Jesus.” Or, “Maybe you are right, maybe I am right – who can know?”

It seems to me as though this is a faith that is built on sand, ever shifting, with no foundation. The tide will push and pull it this way and that until it falls.  Then we have a cranky Catholic who isn’t going to Mass and find fault with the Church at every turn. This is not what Jesus wants for us.

Jesus is described in the Bible as being a stone. But He is stone in two senses. For the believer, He is a foundation stone that can be stood upon and built upon. But for the unbeliever, Jesus becomes a stone that causes you to stumble. Listen to St. Peter who is quoting the Old Testament here:

 1 Peter 2:6 For it stands in scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame."  To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,"  and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Now listen to Jesus:
 Matthew 7:24 "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;  and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand;  and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."

So this is not the kind of faith that we can cultivate. What do you think is that cause of this kind of sandy faith?

I think that there are several factors, but the first is poor education in the faith. Many people believe that because they had twelve years of Catholic education, served as an altar boy, or served as a lector that these kinds of experiences have given them a sufficient knowledge of the faith, and possibly at that time they had. Then they left those elementary institutions and continued on with their vocational studies while neglecting to study their faith at a deeper level. They then are deep in the world looking at it through the lenses of an elementary education and one of four things could happen I think:

1. The first person didn’t originally care in school and they don’t care now.
2. The second person, if they had doubts about the faith before – continuing education just confirmed that doubt and they continued out the church door.
3. The third person wants to remain Catholic while at the same time holding on to the doubts and falsehoods.
4. The forth person sees the challenges and realizes that they have to step up their faith and begin to search for answers.
Another large factor is pride.  Folks feel like they know more about the faith again, because they had that basic education and experiences.

Finally, we are all a bit lazy. We aren’t encouraged many places outside of EWTN and the like radio and TV to study the faith. Yet this is something we need to do weekly if not daily.

So what is the solution to this sandy faith?
Something I have been encouraging people to do as of late is to read the lives of the saints. When you read the lives of the saints you get to see what actually happens to people when they live the faith.  This reading should remove some of the fear that people feel when they finally choose to live the faith. It should also inspire them to in fact deepen their faith. They will see that as a Church and as individuals that Christ has not abandoned us, but desires a radical relationship with us unlike any we could have with anyone on earth.

I recommend Matt and Colleen Swaim's book for those going into any kind of continuing education.