Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dr. Robert Koons and the Case for Catholicism

Recently, Lutheran Scholar Robert Koons PhD joined the Catholic Church. He has been received by Catholics with open arms and sent off with gracious regrets by many of his co-religionists. But as we have come to expect he has also been vilified by the usual suspects among the Death Eater crowd of anti-Catholic bigots.

Dr. Koons has given us a detailed explanation for why he decided to join the Catholic Church. What I find most interesting is that gives many arguments that I have used in defending the Catholic faith against Pseudopodeo and his fellow travelers. I think this essay is quite good and a Catholic Apologetic classic. Here it is for your perusal. Download it and savor it carefully:



Monday, May 28, 2007

Anti-Semitism is Fascist Pornography

There is a voluble, virtually rabid controversialist who has been targeting we Catholic apologists who have opposed Anti-Semitism within our ranks. This gentleman hails from California and seems obsessed with claiming that Jews practice bestiality and sexual molestation of children and he has the Talmud quotes to PROVE IT! Or does he. Sadly this kind of accusation concerning Jewish people is not new. It is, in fact older, than the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and equally spurious. But on searching the net, you can find this fellow's name associate with Neo-Nazi web sites, anti-gun-control groups, pro-militia causes, and letters to the editor condemning homosexuals. This man has also come to the defense of a certain "Catholic" controversialist whose attitude about the Jewish people had become so outrageous that he attacked JPII and the then Cardinal Ratzinger for their advocacy of better Catholic-Jewish relations complete with quotations from Nazi sources. As you can see, a pattern is forming here and it is not pretty.

Spurious stories of moral (usually sexual) turpitude on the part of people of other religions has been fairly common in times past. We Catholics were the target of many of these salacious stories told by Puritans in England and America in which lascivious priests seduced women in the confessional and nuns in the convents siring bastard children that were smothered and buried in secret tunnels connecting the rectory to the convent. These stories were told in such lurid detail that some commentator have described this form of Anti-Catholicism as "Puritan Pornography".

Well now SOME Catholics are passing the buck and attacking Jewish people in a similar fashion. And they seem to share values with Fascist groups that foment racial hatred. They are extremists at best on the fringe of Catholicism and at worst well outside the Church in the LA-LA land where the Sedevacantists long for a strong reactionary Pope and an even stronger reprise of the Inquisition.

This sad controversialist seems to me to be very disturbed and I have elected not to argue with him directly. There is nothing worse than arguing with a madman about his delusions. It just agitates him and frustrates you. I have advised him that he needs to seek professional help, but in his case that probably means hiring some guy from the Soldier of Fortune magazine personals to have me whacked.

Christian-Jewish relation have not been very good over the centuries. There has been inappropriate behavior towards each other from both sides, but in all fairness we Christians have almost always out numbered the Jews and most of the uncharitable behavior must be blamed on us. The watershed of Christian anti-Semitism was the Holocaust in which one third of all the Jews in the world were the victims of Nazi genocide. This event was a wake-up call to western Christians and it prompted a reevaluation of Judaism and a deeper appreciation of it as part of our Christian heritage and on its own merits. The Second Vatican Council specifically addressed Judaism in the document Nostrae Aetate

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so
great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

JPII later apologized for any suffering caused to Jews by those claiming to be Catholics and he did more than any other Pope to build bridges between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.

In light of this I am embarrassed that there are still many "Catholics" who harbor prejudices against the Jewish people and who perpetuate scurrilous myths about them. We already know where such prejudices come from: the Fascist mindset with its racist and genocidal agendas. And we know where they lead: Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Bergen-Belsen.

When I was growing up, I was blessed to live in a home where racial, ethnic, and religious prejudice did not exist. My family had friends from among people of all faiths (and none) and we were taught to respect them and to appreciate the diversity in American culture. On the residential street where I lived, there was an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue across the street, an American Baptist Church on the opposite corner, a Pentecostal house church on the next block, and our Catholic Chapel across the main drag. And everybody got along just fine.

During my life I have know many Jewish people who were friends and colleagues. My attitude towards Jews was shaped by them and by the respect that I was taught on my mother's knee for people from whom Jesus and Mary came to us. They represent a short roll of honor:

-Mr. and Mrs. Sender who ran the store where we got most of our clothes as children and who extended credit to us when we needed it.

-Sam Goldberg the Rabbi's son from across the street who loved comic books as much as I did and who was my best friend.

-Mike Knapp from college who was in ROTC with me and helped us with the drill team even though he was not a member.

-Barry Wind my classmate at Vanderbilt Med School whose family welcomed us students into their home and openly shared their faith with us. His Mom and Dad were like surrogate parents for many of us. And they taught me how to chant the Berakah over dinner.

-Dr. Rosenthal my Orthopedics professor who taught us medicine with panache and a wry sense of humor.

-Dr. Eugene Winter and the several other Jewish house staff at Vanderbilt and Walter Reed took the time to teach me the craft of medicine

-Ginny, the girl that Barry married. During my residency, her family opened their home to me and treated me like one of their own.

-American Army Captain Drickey and his wife who were my sponsors upon my arrival in England as an exchange officer. They let me stay with them until my RAF quarters were ready and drove me to Mass on Sunday and waited for me in the parking lot until it was over to take me home.

-My friend Lou who commanded the OHARNG Med Det during the transition in the mid 90's. He was a good commander and an even better friend.

-David and Kathleen Moss , Marty Barrack, Athol, Ariela and the others at the Association of Hebrew Catholics who have been good friends and fellow Catholics and who share a love of what is good and beautiful in our common heritage.

Maybe that is the problem with our sad Anti-Semite controversialist. He has gone through life with blinders on and never been able to see the good people around him who were different. To him, Jews were always "THOSE people" and never his friends and neighbors. Let us pray for him and for all of those who have been too blind to see.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bernie gives his private opinion

Bernie writes:

I was once a Catholic. Catholicism is probably the best religion there is. The Priests and Pope have great costumes, great cathedrals, burning incense, etc. However, it is all really detracting from a Christ-like life. Anyone who has a devotion to Mary or the Saints, they should instead be having a devotion to Christ Himself. Don't be afraid to approach Christ. You don't have to go through His mother to reach Him. Also, I think it is sick how Catholics have relics in churches (fingers of dead saints, etc.). Gross.

This may come as shock to you, Bernie, but you are still a catholic and will be judged as one on the Last Day.

I agree with you Catholicism is not only the BEST religion, it is the ONLY true religion. No one can be saved apart from the Catholic Church. Placing yourself outside the Church has endangered your salvation. You need to repent and return to the Lord.

The self serving drivel about how the trappings of Catholicism detract from following Christ is a damnable lie and I rebuke you in the name of Christ! Our entire devotional life is directed towards Christ in the Mass and the sacraments. The veneration of angels and saints are accessory devotions that enhance our fellowship with other members of the body of Christ. We venerate the angels and saints because we are all siblings who have God as our Father, Christ as our brother, and Mary as our Mother in the Holy Spirit. Hatred of the saints in glory is hatred of their Father. All of our liturgical prayer and worship is drected to God and His Christ.

The use of relics proves that ours is a real historical faith and that the martyrs and saints were real historical people. The Protestant cults do not have this because they are all man-made religions with no historical depth that are cut off from the physical reality of the Church. The Protestant cults have been tainted with gnostic error and are afraid that Created beings will lead men away from God. In Catholicism creation is redeemed and under grace we have nothing to fear from created things. All of creation is good and can lead us to God if we rightly order ourselves before Him.

I feel sorry for you, Bernie. You have sold your birthright and now are even afraid of the mess of pottage you traded for it.


Bernie asks about Bible translations

We have an apostate from the Catholic Church named Bernie who thinks he so smart. He asks the following:

I still don't understand. If the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church and all others have errors, then why can't the Catholic Church produce the best Bible translation?

Well, first of all we Catholics WROTE the NT and that original text is the "Best Bible" that there is. Translations are ephemeral contemporary phenomena that become less useful with time. For example, the KJV is practically worthless these days for many reasons: forced translations, poor original language texts, anachronistic vocabulary and grammar, etc. There will never be a definitive vernacular paraphrase of Scripture. In each time period, older versions will be supplanted by newer ones for good or ill.

As I tried to explain to you, no translation is ever perfect. It cannot be. One always has to make compromises in trying to translate from one language to another. We have an old saying in Italian: Tradutore traditore! (The translator is a traitor!) Any serious biblical scholar will tell you that certain portions of Scripture are difficult to interpret and can be understood in different ways. It is simple Protestant arrogance to think that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the words of the Bible and what it is trying to convey. In many cases the same verses give us several different pieces of information. So any serious study of the Biblical text has to take account of the original languages and cannot be restricted to any vernacular paraphrase.

There are two tendencies in biblical translation: literal and dynamic. Literal translations try to convey an almost mechanical translation from the original languge to the vernacular. It does not take into account figures of speech, hyperbole, or other literary devices which are hard to translate. Dynamic versions try to use linguistic equivalents in the translation to make it more readable. It tries to give one the flavor of the original as a reader of the language might have understood it, but it deviates from the literal meaning of the text and sometimes, makes many compromises in the translation. In the end, neither method is perfect.

We have several excellent Catholic versions in English: the DRV, NAB, JB, Challoner, Confraternity, Kleist-Lilly, and Knox. These have good study notes and critical apparati. We use the NAB at Mass in the USA and it is perfectly fine. But to make the NAB and JB more readable, the translators made them less literal.

The most literal version remains the RSV. It was done by Protestant translators who tried very hard to avoid figures of speech. But they still made some translation decisions that I do not carte for and so I always have my Greek NT and other language helps to elucidate complex passages. The RSV-CE has corrected some of these dubious renderings, but even it is not perfect.

Why would we use a Protestant translation instead of making a new one for ourselves? For one thing, the actual content of the biblical text is not in question between Catholics and Protestants and there are fewer problems when a translation remains as literal as possible. Why waste time and effort reinventing the wheel? The RSV is good enough and readily available. For another, as an apologist, I like to use an ecumenically common version as much as possible so we can all be talking about the same text. Thirdly, the RSV uses modern word order and syntax and is just plain more readable while tacking close to the literal meaning. Nevertheless it is choppy in some places reflecting what you have in the origianl text. The NAB and JB were designed really to be read at the Mass and have tried to smooth over some of this chopiness. The other Catholic translations are older and not as readable or current in their language.

Modern biblical scholarship is an ecumenical effort. One of the most widely used books by Protestant seminarianss on the Greek NT is written by Fr. Max Zerwick S.J. And during the composition of the RSV, NEB, GNV, and NRSV, Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish scholars were consulted.

The really serious question you have to face Bernie is that in ALL the good translations James 2:24 says that "Justification is not by faith alone but by works." In essence, the Bible openly, literally, and diametrically contradicts the false premise at the heart of the prot apostasy. I think you need to deal with that plank in your own eye before you start questioning us about the splinter you perceive in ours.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Did Luther's idea of "justification by faith alone" exist in the Church before his day?

A dyspepsic fellow with the handle "Vermigli" (naming himself I think after the Deformer Peter Martyr Vermigli) has thrown down the gauntlet. In a comment made to my first posting on this blog he has claimed that Luther's doctrine was not new at all:

Not exactly, Mr. Sippo. As the noted Church history scholar Harold O.J. Brown (Ph.D., Harvard University) observed:
"The concept of justification by faith alone was by no means new with Luther. Indeed, the ecumenically minded Roman Catholic scholar Hans Küng has in effect contended that Luther's doctrine really was fully and satisfactorily Catholic, but of course Küng himself has been rebuked by the pope".


Well, first of all it is DOCTOR Sippo. Mr. Sippo was my grandfather. But don't be so formal. On my blog you can call me Art.

Secondly, "noted" historian Brown is fibbing....badly. Let us set the record straight.

First of all, the Scriptures themselves CONDEMN the Lutheran idea of "justification by faith alone" in no uncertain terms:

James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Luther himself admitted that St. James' views were incompatible with his system, but instead of submitting to the Word of God, he tried to have James removed from the Canon! So much for Sola Scriptura! But in any case, Luther was far more honest than his spiritual spawn down through the centuries. They have tried every tactic possible to prove that the Bible does not mean what is says but that it actually means the complete opposite of what it says. None of it is either convincing or edifying.

James 2:24 stands as a Scriptural refutation of all that Protestantism stands for. St. James makes it clear that good works COMPLETE a saving faith and are and integral part of justification, not a mere by product of "being saved" (James 2:22). And it is very clear that St. James is not talking about being "justified before men" as opposed to being "justified before God". He is addressing specifically the questions:

James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?

The answer he gives under Divine Inspiration is a resounding "NO!" and it is high time that Protestants admitted that.

But it is true that the term "justified by faith alone" WAS used in the Patristic and Scholastic literature prior to Luther. But not in the way that Luther used it and consequently, not in the manner that St. James condemned it.

The Fathers and Doctors of the Church long before Luther recognized that no one could stand before God in righteousness apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ. No human effort alone could possibly gain any merit before. And so, quite rightly they taught that being justified before God could be achieved by Christian Faith ALONE.

But these Fathers and Doctors were Realists, not Nominalists. They comprehended that being justified before God was an ontological reality, not a mere external imputation of an "alien" righteousness belonging properly to someone else. In support of this they once again had the Scriptures:

Rom 6:1
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2
By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Rom 6:3
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Rom 6:6
We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
Rom 6:7
For he who has died is freed from sin.
Rom 6:8
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
Rom 6:9
For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
Rom 6:10
The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Rom 6:11
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:12
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.

Rom 6:13
Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness.
Rom 6:14
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 6:15
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Rom 6:16
Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Rom 6:17
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
Rom 6:18
and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Rom 6:19
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.
Rom 6:20
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom 6:21
But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.
Rom 6:22
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Rom 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here St. Paul teaches that in Baptism were are regenerated. We die to sin and rise to a new life in Christ Jesus in which we cease being slaves of sin and become instead the slaves of righteousness. We now yield our members to righteousness in order to be sanctified and the end of that SANCTIFICATION is ETERNAL LIFE.

It can clearly be seen that in St. Paul's view, justification per se was more than merely some forensic declaration. It was a state of being that began with Baptism and came to its full fruition in righteous living (sanctification) which was the basis for our hope in eternal life with God.

The Catholic Tradition taught this quite clearly. It was recognized by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Commentary on Romans that justification was a product of a saving faith composed of three elements:

1) Believing about Christ - Faith properly so-called

2) Believing in Christ - Hope

3) Believing into Christ - Charity

He saw this as the natural progression from a mere intellectual belief , to a heartfelt personal understanding, and finally a life commitment. Note that these are the Three Theological Virtues from 1Corinthians 13 understood as the logical progression of an ever deepening act of faith.

(H. Richard Neibhur would label these three elements of a saving faith as Fides, Fiducia, and Fidelius. I like these labels because they emphasize that the Theological virtues can only be properly understood as types of of faith.)

So for the Fathers and Doctors a saving Christan faith had three elements: intellectual, affective, and volitional. But this was ONE act of faith taken to its logical conclusion. If one really believes the promises of God, he not only trusts in them but acts in light of them. So good works are the result of volitional acts of faith and a true saving faith is incomplete without them (See James 2:22).

Luther would have none of it. For him, the act of faith was a trusting belief in God's promises of forgiveness alone without any volitional component. Any "good works" which resulted were the external by-product of the internal "saving" faith. In essence, salvation became intensely subjective and personal to the exclusion of any objective or interpersonal elements. And internal moral regeneration as the foundation of righteousness was excluded. Sanctification was a process that followed after forensic justification and contributed nothing to salvation.

Recognizing this, evangelical Anglican and Oxford Professor Alister McGrath wrote at the conclusion of his book IUSTITIA DEI: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification (Cambridge Univ Press, 1986), Volume 1, Chapter 5, Section 19 --

"The significance of the Protestant distinction between -iustificatio- and -regeneratio- is that a FUNDAMENTAL DISCONTINUITY has been introduced into the western theological tradition WHERE NONE HAD EXISTED BEFORE [emphasis by McGrath]."

"However, it will be clear that the medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the Reformers departed from it."

"The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between JUSTIFICATION and REGENERATION. Although it must be emphasised that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the -ordo salutis- [the order of salvation], the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before in the history of Christian doctrine."

"A fundamental discontinuity was introduced into the western theological tradition where none had ever existed or ever been contemplated before. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification -- as opposed to its mode -- must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum."

So I am afraid that your "noted" scholar got it wrong. Luther's doctrine was not known or taught prior to his time. It was entirely new: unbiblical, untraditional, and thereby heretical.

As to the Hans Küng business, Brown is lying there as well. Küng wrote a book "Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection". In it, he showed that the basic elements of justification in the theology of Karl Barth were also present in Catholic teaching from Trent onwards. Barth was rather impressed and in a foreword to the book opined that if Küng was right, there was no further need for a Reformation. The book has been criticized by both Catholics and Protestants, but frankly, I read it and I think Küng did a reasonably good job. In one short book he summed up what the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialog would take over 20 years to do. He did NOT show that Luther was orthodox in Catholic terms. What he did who was that both Catholics and Protestants had shown due diligence with regard to the threat of Pelagianism and that despite Protestant misrepresentations, Catholics were not "Semi-Pelagian". IMHO, the book is accessible to the intelligent layman and worth reading. The scholarship is a bit dated but this is a classic that anyone interested in this question ought to take it into account.

The one criticism I have of Küng's book is that it does not take into account the importance of the difference in the formal cause of Justification as understood by Catholics and Protestants. Dr. Brown has no excuse for his ignornace of this particular problem since a student in his class 20 years ago, Richard White, wrote a discerning paper demonstrating this. White later expanded this paper into a dissertation at Marquette:

R. A. White, Justification in Ecumenical Dialogue:An Assessment of the Catholic Contribution (dissertation, Marquette University, 1995) 229.

But contra Brown, Küng was never censured by anyone for the Justification book. He wrote other books denying Papal Infallibility and describing the act of faith in increasingly subjectivist and Lutheran terms. He also has abandoned the Christology of the early councils and is postulating a modalist/monarchian view of the Trinity that most Protestants (including Karl Barth) would find unacceptable.

Brown compounds his lies with this real whopper:

"From the early Middle Ages onward, the doctrine of the merits of Christ's work
underwent a decisive change...It was not justification by faith that was the
innovation and therefore the heresy; transubstantiation was the innovation that
made the orthodoxy of the past into the heresy of the present."

Brown - on his own authority - attacks Transubstantiation as a "medieval innovation". Do you know why? Because Transubstantiation is about an ONTOLOGICAL change in the nature of the Eucharistic elements which parallels the Biblical and Traditional Patristic/Scholastic doctrine of an ontological change in Justification at baptism! He attacks the one to attack the other. But he is wrong about both of them.

So that you will know Brown is a liar, here area few quotations for you:

"For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66 (A.D. 110-165), in ANF,I:185

"He acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as his own blood, from which he bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of creation) he affirmed to be his own body, from which he gives increase to our bodies."
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V:2,2 (c.A.D. 200), in NE, 119

"He once in Cana of Galilee, turned the water into wine, akin to blood, and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood?"
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XXII:4 (c.A.D. 350), in NPNF2, VII:152

"Having learn these things, and been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ; and that of this David sung of old, saying, And bread strengtheneth man's heart, to make his face to shine with oil, 'strengthen thou thine heart,' by partaking thereof as spiritual, and "make the face of thy soul to shine."
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XXII:8 (c.A.D. 350), in NPNF2, VII:152

"Then having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual Hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth His Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before Him; that He may make the Bread the Body of Christ, and the Wine the Blood of Christ; for whatsoever the Holy Ghost has touched, is surely sanctified and changed."
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XXIII:7 (c.A.D. 350), in NPNF2, VII:154

There are many more similar quotations here:


So yes, Brown is a damnable liar who misrepresents Christian history in the service of his man-made religious cult. Anathema Sit!

As for the oxford lectures of Colet, they are not as clear cut as you misrepresent them to be. For a detailed discussion of Colet and Luther, I recommend the article John Colet on Justification by C. A. L. Jarrott , Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Apr., 1976), pp. 59-72. Colet was not an advocate of external forensic justification but of internal illumination and perfection by traditional devotions and the sacraments. He clearly had a transformational understanding of grace that was theologically Catholic, not Protestant. His views are not easily classifiable since he was an original thinker who left no movement after him. He was a good friend of St. Thomas More and Erasmus and like them remained in the Catholic Church for his entire life. He wanted to correct abuses in the Church but did not follow the Reformers out of it. His views were eventually superseded by the theological consensus that proceeded from the Council of Trent among Catholics and replaced among the Anglican Protestants by the ideas of Calvin and the Caroline Divines.

So, Vermigli, I am afraid that it is YOU who does not know what he is talking about.


"If Protestants are so off-base, why do we see so much fruit within Protestantism?"

The title of this blog is based on a question Randy Carson asked in response to my blog entry: http://art-of-attack.blogspot.com/2007/05/one-true-catholic-and-apostolic-church.html

This is a great question and one that apologists for both Catholicism and Protestantism have to face about each other.

First of all, it is our belief as Catholics that God wills the salvation of every human being. He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1Timothy 2:4). God "is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9). "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11).

In one of the most neglected portions of Romans, St. Paul sums it up for us:

Rom 2:6 For he will render to every man according to his works:
Rom 2:7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
Rom 2:8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
Rom 2:9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
Rom 2:10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
Rom 2:11 For God shows no partiality.
Rom 2:12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
Rom 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Rom 2:14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
Rom 2:15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them
Rom 2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

It was never God's intention to close salvation against anyone. That is what makes the Calvinoid heresy of "unconditional election" so heinous and unbiblical.

The reason that our Separated Brethren bear so much good fruit is because so many of them are seeking Jesus Christ with a sincere heart. God the Father draws them to His Son and Jesus will not turn away those who seek Him. Furthermore they study God's Word diligently and as God promised:

Isa 55:11 ...[My] word that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Jesus himself dealt with this question in another often ignored passage:

Mar 9:38 John said to [JESUS], "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not of our company."
Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.
Mar 9:40 For he that is not against us is for us.
Mar 9:41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you are Christ's, will by no means lose his reward.
Mar 9:42 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea."

This passage is near to my heart. Because of it, when my patients ask for a drink of water in the ER, I make every effort to fetch it for them myself.

The grace of God has been poured out on all men in the name of Jesus Christ. For this reason we cannot treat anyone with contempt or look down upon their honest efforts to be good disciples of their Savior and Lord. In many cases they pursue wrong-minded goals but with a sincere desire to do good and it is on that basis that God will judge them.

This is why, despite our disagreements, we should try to find the image of Christ in our fellow men, especially among those who confess Jesus with their lips. Even when we feel that we must take a strong principled stand, it must be with a sincere desire do good to others and see good in them. The truth sometimes hurts, but so does lancing a boil. The pain is necessary to bring about a greater good.

Meanwhile we can do no better than to remember the words of Pope St. Peter:

Act 10:34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality,
Act 10:35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The New Perspective on St. Paul and the Catholic Apologist

In an essay on his web site Bob Sungenis has this quotation from me and his own comment:

Sippo: Scott is very well read in the Patristic literature and is on the cutting edge of modern biblical scholarship. Anyone who has tried to keep up with the field knows that the movement for "biblical theology" is a new and exciting area of study that crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective which has been systematically dismantling the classical Protestant interpretation of Scripture in favor of a view of soteriology that is more favorable to the traditional Catholic position.

R. Sungenis: Thanks for proving my point. In case you didn't catch it, Sippo has admitted by the statement "crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective," that he and Hahn have received their newfound ideas on soteriology from Protestants. Need I say more?


In good conscience, I cannot let this comment pass. It betrays not only Mr. Sungenis' narrow prejudices with regard to what he feels is Catholic orthodoxy but it also betrays his refusal to join in full dialog with real scholars struggling to understand St. Paul's sitz im leben as a 1st Century Jew. This latter endeavor must be the spear head of any modern attempt to engage Protestants is serious ecumenical dialog on the merits of their foundational beliefs about justification. If it can be shown by the best of ECUMENICAL scholarship that Luther was wrong and that the Catholic objections to the Protestant religions were justified, then we have a most powerful argument with which to lead our Protestant brethren back into the Church. The New Perspective on St. Paul (NPSP) can be a part of this endeavor.

Among the Catholic concerns are to preserve the integral necessity of good works in Christian salvation (Matt 25:31ff, Romans 2:7, James 2:20ff), the transformative power of Sanctifying Grace through Baptism (Romans 6:1ff) , love of God and neighbor as fulfilling the requirements of the Jewish Law (Luke 10:25ff, Romans 13:7-10), and good works as the final cause of our justification (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The NPSP has its roots in the early 20th Century when Protestant and Jewish scholars began to seriously reflect on the Jewish background of Jesus. Many times in debates during the Deformation, Catholic exegetes had argued that St. Paul was not as concerned in his writings about Pelagianism as he was about Judaizing. These arguments generally fell on deaf ears. But men like Alfred Edersheim, George Moore, Adolf Schlatter and C. G Montifiore started to discuss them openly challenging the narrow views of Protestant orthodoxy. At that time, Protestant exegesis was still strongly influenced by apologetic concerns and confessional theology. And we must also recognize that a nascent theological anti-Semitism made it had for Christians to find anything worthwhile in Judaism. It just made sense in that context that St. Paul was attacking Judaism per se as a religion of "works righteousness".

In the aftermath of WWII, Christian scholars took a more positive and sympathetic look at Judaism, both ancient and modern. The pioneer work in this field was "Paul and Rabbinic Judaism " by W. D. Davies. While this book would be considered somewhat dated by today's standards, it was a break through for Christian scholarship about Judaism. Then in 1960 Swedish scholar Krister Stendahl gave his seminal talk "Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West." In this talk, he showed that the performance anxiety that concerned St. Augustine in his Confessions and Luther in his Tower Experience was not present in the writings of St. Paul. Paul had a robust conscience and was not tortured by fears of his own inadequacy or the impossibility of pleasing God. St. Paul was more concerned with living the "new life in Christ" and continued to do so while remaining a practicing Jew.

The next major milestone was the book "Paul and Palestinian Judaism" by E. P. Sanders. It was the first in a series of books exploring the interface between Jesus, St. Paul and the Judaism of the first century. James D. G. Gunn contributed his insights in his Romans and Galatians commentaries and in a series of Books on Jesus and St. Paul. The central theme of these books was a systematic critique of classical Reformation exegeses of the Scriptures across the board but most centrally on the issue of justification. They made it clear that IN CONTEXT the Protestant idea of a purely forensic justification existed neither in the Bible nor in the Pseudepigraphal literature. In fact righteousness in Judaism was inseparable from orthopraxis and Jesus and St. Paul reaffirmed this.

In the book The Justice of God: A Fresh Look at the Old Doctrine of Justification by Faith by James D. G. Dunn and Alan M. Suggate, this idea is fleshed out in detail. Some scholars thought that they had gone too far towards the Pelagian end of the Spectrum (e.g., Scott Hahn). But in my opinion we were seeing the pendulum swinging back towards a more robust and Catholic understanding of the integral nature of works with faith.

Other authors like N. T. Wright, Don Garlington, John Gager, and Brendan Byrne S. J. have continued to develop NPSP and thereby undermine the credibility of the Protestant system. Some of the Protestants in this movement have tried to deny the "Catholicity" of this new turn (e.g., N.T. Wright), but Dr. Francis Beckwith on his return to the Catholic Church made it clear that the coherence of the historic Catholic witness on justification with the Bible was one thing which motivated him to revert.

We are in the midst of an apologetics revolution. Protestant scholarship is sawing off the limb it has been standing on and we are seeing the beginning of what I anticipate to be a ground swell of Protestant theologians returning to Catholic orthodoxy.

Mr. Sungensis sadly cannot see this. He is not alone among Catholic scholars in not following the NPSP. Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer S.J. also does not accept it. But Bob seems to forget that Catholicism is not a theological monolith and that good Catholics may disagree on some matters of theology. Sadly, I am concerned that part of Bob's motivation in rejecting NPSP is an excessive antipathy to Judaism which does not allow him to see much good even in the Judaism of the 1st Century. In this attitude he is way out of touch with the teaching Church from VCII, JPII, and BXVI.

In any case, the idea that Dr. Hahn and I "get" our soteriology from Protestants is ludicrous. We get it from God's Inspired Word, the Tradition of the Catholic Church, and the Magisterium. Whenever we find a matter of exegesis where we can agree with our Separated Brethren, we rejoice in it as another opportunity to draw us closer together so that as Jesus wished we might be one even and he and the Father are one.

ADDENDUM: It has recently come to our attention that two Protestants scholars have recently reconciled with the Catholic Church: Dr. Francis Beckwith and Dr. Robert Koons. Both of them have made it clear that recent scholarship which has called into question the traditional Protestant interpretation of St. Paul was instrumental in their decision. I think NPSP is starting to bear fruit!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dungeon, fire, and sword: Catholicism survives!

A recent comment made on one of my earlier blogs by a Protestant visitor requires a brief response:

I think that the Orthodox have been declining for the last 700 years because they, more than the Western Church, have born directly the brunt of Islamic and Communist domination.

The European west had been invaded several times in the past by infidels of all stripes. As the Roman Empire collapsed, marauding Germanic tribes professing an Arian form of Christianity sacked Rome and ravaged the imperial cities. Attila the Hun himself penetrated deep into Italy and almost sacked Rome but was dissuaded from doing so by Pope Leo the Great in 452 AD. The Muslims invaded and conquered Spain in the 8th Century and it would be another 700 years before they were expelled. Meanwhile Muslim armies threatened the Byzantine Empire and the forces of Christian Europe waged a series of military campaigns known collectively as the Crusades to keep them at bay. The Muslim forces eventually overpowered the Byzantines and conquered them after the Eastern Churches reneged on their acceptance of the Council of Florence which would have healed the Great Schism. They had been turned back at the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571 by the outnumbered CATHOLIC forces led by the Spanish. No Protestant monarchs lifted a finger to help despite urgent pleas from the Pope. All of Catholic Europe prayed the new devotion known as the Rosary petitioning God for victory in that battle. Muslim forces continued their imperialistic advances and reached as far as Vienna itself before they were turned back in 1683! After that, they nevermore threatened western Europe.

The Communist menace had plagued both east and west. The Communist dominated government in Portugal in 1917 was the site of the Fatima apparitions where the miracle of the "Dance of the Sun" was seen by thousands, including the reporters for the Communist newspaper who had come to scoff. Communist regimes were ousted in both Brazil and Austria after WWII due in large part of Catholic activists. The most heavily Catholic counties in the old Communist block were Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. All three of them actively resisted the Communists and were inspired in doing so by their Catholic faith. Cardinals Mindszenty and Wyszyński were openly persecuted by the Communists in an attempt to discredit the Church. Pope Pius XII who had done so much to help war refugees -- Jewish, Christian, and otherwise -- and who was named a righteous-gentile by the Israeli government when he died in 1958 came under slanderous attack by the Communist Rolf Hochluth in his scurrilous play "The Deputy" which we now know was part of a KGB plot against the Church. And the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II was most certainly linked to the Bulgarian Secret Service acting as surrogates for KGB policies.

Don't tell me that the Latin rite has not "born directly the brunt of Islamic and Communist domination." The Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church has come into direct conflict with both the Islamic and Communist oppressions and not only survived but won out in the end!


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sola Scriptura vs. Historic Catholic Christianity

Recently, a Protestant school -- Biola Univeristy -- published a position paper on Eatern orthodoxy. It included an interesting quotation from the Acta of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II) from 787 AD. I must give credit to my friend and fellow catholic Apologist John Betts for pointing this out to me.

"Anathema to those who spurn the teachings of the holy Fathers and the tradition of the holy Catholic Church, taking as a pretext and making their own the arguments of Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Dioscorus, that unless we were evidently taught by the Old and New Testaments, we should not follow the teachings of the holy Fathers and of the holy Ecumenical Synods, and the tradition of the Catholic Church"
(The Council of Nicea 787, Acts of Session I)...

[T]he [Eastern Orthodox] regard this council (Nicea 787) as infallible and inspired. Written over 700 years before the Reformation, this anathema could not have Protestantism in view. Yet, the Protestant position of sola Scriptura is roundly condemned and associated with some of the most notorious heretics in church history. The council correctly notes that Arius did appeal to Scripture in his denial of Christ's deity, just as the Jehovah's Witnesses do today. However, from our perspective, the problem with Arius was not that he held to sola Scriptura and thereby failed to give enough place to tradition, but that he twisted scripture's true meaning...

The names of Luther and Calvin could with equal propriety be placed alongside the notorious heretics listed. (Indeed, there were seventeenth-century EO confessions that did condemn the teachings of the Reformers by name. However, these are not mentioned here because these are local and not ecumenical councils.)

Sadly, the folks at Biola do not understand the distinction between "infallible" and "inspired" in Catholic and Orthodox theology. They have also confused the Acta of the Council for its output. And I find it highly amusing that the Biola folks think that Arius' main fault was "that he twisted scripture's true meaning" and not that "he held to sola Scriptura and thereby failed to give enough place to tradition". Anyone even remotely familiar with Arianism knows that its adherents appealed to Scripture against the traditions of the Church in an attempt to change the teaching about who Jesus was. There is an excelent explanation of this in a talk Begotten Not Made? Athanasius and the Creeds given by Protestant Scholar Hans Boersma:


According to the Edinburgh Edition of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,
Series II, Volume XIV
, this was part of a confession of faith that was used to reconcile to Catholic unity some bishops who had fallen into the Iconclast heresy.


Even though this was not part of the official teaching generated by the Seventh Ecumenical Council, it does represent the faith of the Catholic Church that met at the Council. As the Biola University paper states quite clearly, this statement could very easily have been directed against the scions of the Protestant Deformation. What is more important is that this quotation demonstrates clearly that the 16th Century Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura had been considered 750 years earlier as the very source of heresy and was therefore NOT compatible with the faith of the Patristic Church. In fact this very idea of a "neutral interpretation of Scripture" apart from the Church's Rule of faith had been condemned by St. Athanasius at the first Council of Nicea in 325 AD.

This is not an attempt to minimize the importance of Scripture which remains one of the three pillars on which the Catholic faith is established and is in the opinion of some Catholic scholars (e.g., Cardinal Ratzinger and Scott Hahn) the Primary source of our theology.

But Scripture cannot be understood properly unless it is in context within the bosom of the Catholic Church and the worldview established there by the superintendence of the Holy Spirit. Quite frankly, in the Arian case, the Protestant system would have been inadequate to deal with the challenge. A position based SOLELY on Scripture interpretation cannot be refuted by another mere human opinion. There must be an overarching authority that offers a definitive interpretation to which all the faithful must submit. We can see this problem within Protestantism with regard to the questions of the baptism of infants, paedocommunion, the necessity of baptism, church order, "eternal security," and the very meaning of salvation as in the Arminian vs. Calvinist controversy.

Had the Patristic Church practiced Sola Scriptura, she would never have been able to deals with the myriad of heresies that arose in that time about Christ, the Godhead, the use of images, and other issues. But in fact she adhered to the three fold triad of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium which still guides the Catholic Church today.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

The One True Catholic and Apostolic Church and our Separated Brethren

I received some feedback from an apostate Catholic who felt that I was being "hypocritical" because I criticized Mr. James "Pseudopodeo" White for his open bigotry towards Recent Catholic revert Dr. Francis Beckwith when I myself am highly critical of Protestants and their religions. And, as usual, the Second Vatican Council's use of the term "separated brethren" is thrown in my face as if I must be an indifferentist in order to be a Catholic. I have decided therefore to explain the Catholic position and why it is the Protestants who are the ones who need to repent.

First of all, Historic Christianity -- which can be traced directly to the Apostles -- is unambiguously Catholic. Protestantism is an aberration that originated in the 16th Century from a cobbling together of secular humanist ideas, Nominalist Philosophy, and fringe elements from the anti-realistic, voluntaristic, and anti-intellectual trends that were current in late Medieval urban centers.

Secondly, it is the Protestants who abandoned the faith delivered one and for all to the saints for "another gospel". It must be made clear that it was the Protestants who broke fellowship with us Catholics to go off and invent novel cults in discontinuity with the historic Churches of East and West. We have not changed our doctrine or our ecclesiastical affiliation. We catholics are in communion with the Church in all times and places.

Thirdly, the Catholic Church is not just a collection of individual believers. We are the Mystical Body of Christ and each of us is a functioning organ in that body. We are incorporated into Christ by Baptism which makes us a new creation and joins us to Christ in his life death and resurrection (Romans 6).

Fourthly, membership in the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. This has been stated numerous times from the Bible (Acts 4:12) and Tradition (Unam Sanctam). No one can be saved apart from the Catholic Church.

The Second Vatican Council summed it up this way in Lumen Gentium :

14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the
Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a "bodily" manner and not "in his heart."(12*) All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.(13*)

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

124 Cf. Mc 16, 16; Jn. 3, 5.

(12*) Cfr. S. Augustinus, Bapt. c. Donat. V, 28, 39; PL 43, 197: Certe manifestum est, id quod dicitur, in Ecdesia intus et foris, in corde, non in corpore cogitandum. Cfr. ib., III, 19, 26: col. 152; V, 18, 24: col. 189; In Io. Tr. 61, 2: PL 35, 1800, et alibi saepe.

(13*) Cfr. Lc. 12, 48: Omni autem, cui multum datum est, multum quaeretur ab eo. Cfr. etiam Mt. 5, 19-20; 7, 21-22; 25 41-46; Iac., 2, 14.

So there is no question about it. The Catholic Church considers herself to be the one true Church founded by Jesus and teaches that membership in her is the norm of salvation. Anything other than full communion with the Catholic Church is less than adequate.

But Lumen Gentium goes on to say:

15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate,
celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*)
Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

(14) Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Apost. Praeclara gratulationis, 20 iun. 1894;
AAS 26 (1893-94) p. 707.

(15) Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Encycl. Satis cognitum, 29 iun. 1896: ASS 28
(1895-96) p. 738. Epist. Encycl. Caritatis studium, 25 iul. 1898: ASS 31
(1898-99) p. 11. Pius XII, Nuntius radioph. Nell'alba, 24 dec. 1941: AAS 34
(1942) p. 21.

(16) Cfr. Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Rerum Orientalium, 8 sept. 1928: AAS
20 (1928) p. 287. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl Orientalis Ecclesiae, 9 apr. 1944: AAS
36 (1944) p. 137

(17) Cfr. Inst. S.S.C.S. Officii 20 dec. 1949: AAS 42 (1950)

The above teaching makes it clear that while we Catholics honor those who profess to be Christian, we do not find the current divisions either acceptable or permanent. The goal for us is Christian unity IN the Catholic Church, not with other religious groups outside of catholic unity.

So while we wish to be respectful of people from the Protestant religions, we cannot condone their religions since they are in both doctrinal and ecclesiastical error. Frankly, those professing any non-Catholic religion are endangering their souls. No amount of personal piety or private biblical interpretation can excuse this.

Make no mistake about it. Antipathy to the Catholic Church is a sign of non-Election. Hatred of the Body of Christ is hatred of Christ himself (Matt 25:31ff). Ignoring the ordained ministers of Christ is ignoring Christ and thereby ignoring God as well (John 13:20).

When Protestants come to argue their petty little theories by which they seek to make void the word of God and follow the teachings of mere men, they are not on a level playing field with the Catholic Magisterium. Protestants can only give their own private opinions. The Catholic Magisterium speaks under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit (Matt 10:20).

In summary, the 16th Century Protestants apostatized and left the Catholic Church and have invented thousands of separate cults which not only contradict the Catholic Church but each other on serious points of doctrine. The Catholic Church has not changed any of her teachings since before there were Protestants. Consequently it is the Protestants who must now admit that we who have remained in the Catholic Church are true Christians and that we are entitled to our own interpretation of Scripture.

Conversely, it is not possible for Catholics to recognize any Protestant group as being on par with the Catholic Church. There will always be something deficient in them. Whatever partial goods they may have, the total package of true Christianity only subsists in Catholicism.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Mr. James "Pseudopodeo" White continues hate barrage against Dr. Francis Beckwith

Well, Ol' Jimbo White has decided that Dr. Francis Beckwith needs to be "disciplined" for deciding to return to the Catholic Church. Speaking "ex cathedra" from his high horse in Phoenix, AZ, Jimbo has declared that "whatever church, if any" Dr. Beckwith was affiliated with needs to punish him by excommunication. He also has the bad taste to insist that his own sister, Patty Bonds, should have received a similar punishment but -- he is disappointed to say -- she did not. It seems that Mr. White doesn't care what Protestant Church anybody belongs to but when they become Catholic they deserve vilification.

Gosh! Do you think it is possible that some non-Catholic Christians are realizing that Catholics are Christians too and some of the bigotry and hatred that has marred relations between Catholics and Protestants from both sides needs to be discarded? Is it possible that not everyone in the Protestant world HATES Catholics like James does?

I am reminded of what my Lord and Savior once taught us:

John 13:34
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

I must ask humbly in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, how Mr. White is showing his love for his fellow Catholic Christians by his wholly negative and uncharitable attitude? We have suffered vilification and misrepresentation at his hands for many years without a single apology from him. Now he rabidly denounces being a practicing Catholic as "a denial of the gospel." A quaint idea since this would necessarily excommunicate EVERY CHRISTIAN from Apostolic Times until Luther made his "discovery."

Is it not just POSSIBLE, Jimbo, that you are NOT infallible and that we Catholics might have a point in our criticisms of the Deformation? After all, in your Protestant systems, you insist on private interpretation of the Bible and freedom of conscience. Why not extend that same privilege to those of us who interpret the Bible in a Catholic manner?

Jimmy, we love ya! And we would love you to join us in fellowship. But right now we are welcoming our brother Francis back to Catholic unity. Any gestures of spite from you or your co-religionists will sit in judgment against you and have no effect on him or us. Francis is part of the Body of Christ and your spite cannot touch him.


James' Swan Song

The Protestant apologist James Swan has now started a new line on his blog where he quotes me out of context. This is par for the course with ol' Jim whose idea of a "Catholic theologian" was the late Fr. Josef Lortz, a card carrying Nazi who reinterpreted European history through Hitler's eyes and agreed with Uncle Adolph that Martin Luther was a great German (i.e., Anti-Semitic) hero right up there with Himmler, Eichmann, and Heydrich.

But he has this great cartoon which I find kinda cute. Since it is of me, there is no copyright problem.

I think that this goes to show that the Death Eaters are indeed desperate. They cannot muster a decent argument among them and they need to stoop to personal intimidation and insults to make their point.

Satire is a valid method of criticism especially when one's opponents are illogical and continuously misrepresent the truth or frankly LIE in defense of their position. Anti-Catholics like Swan, Webster, Ensweger, Svendsen, Chick, and White constantly preach to the choir. Their fans want to believe their lies and so -- like their forbear Uncle Adolph -- they tell big ones and they tell them often. When challenged about this, they whine and make excuses for themselves, but they cut no one else any slack and descend into personal insults whenever they can. Despite what they want to believe, they are the ones who started the ad hominem insults but while they can dish it out they just can't take it.

I use terms for them like the Kampus Krusade for Kthulhu, and Death Eaters to make a point. They are KNOWINGLY lying and insulting towards Catholics and other people who do not agree with their narrow religious views. And they do so with a complete lack of charity. When you read what these people write you can see that they have no doubts about their own infallibility and will not admit any ambiguity in their position or that the rest of us might have a point.

I will go out on a limb here and state rather boldly that not one of these people has ever shown me anything that would make me think they were disciples of Jesus. The positions they defend are amoralist: they think that a righteous person is merely declared so by God not someone who possesses a good character. This position they hold in contradiction to the Scriptures:

Mat 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
Mat 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mat 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Mat 5:47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Mat 5:48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mat 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
Mat 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Mat 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Mat 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
Mat 7:21 "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'

Luk 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Luk 10:26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?"
Luk 10:27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Luk 10:28 And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."

Gal 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Rom 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
Rom 6:18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Rom 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.
Rom 6:20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom 6:21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.
Rom 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
Jam 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
Jam 2:23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
Jam 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

{I apologize for the long Scriptural Quotations, but as a Catholic I am committed to reading the Bible IN CONTEXT and not taking mere snippets as the "slogans" on which my religion is based. My opponents cannot say the same thing.}

In short, their false religions of JBFA contradict the Bible and yet they hypocritically claim to affirm the Bible as their "sole rule of faith." We Catholics have been trying to correct them for almost 500 years, but they love the darkness of amoralism and hate the light of true righteousness of the heart. Yet those who stand up for the ancient faith "delivered once and for all to the Apostles", for Scripture, and the teachings of Jesus are insulted and defamed by them constantly.

It is the words of my Lord and Savior that give me comfort:

Mat 5:11 "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
Mat 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
Mat 5:15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

One more point. A couple of years ago, the sad Mr. White published a self aggrandizing caricature of himself on his website. Some of his critics took that caricature and modified it slightly to satirize the original cartoon. Mr. White went into a rage and threatened law suits denouncing their actions as "libelous."

This caricature of me I find amusing and -- dare I say -- flattering. If positions were reversed, Mr. White might take umbrage and make threats. But as a Christian, I know that my first duty is to know who I am in Christ and to "count others better than" myself (Phil 2:3). I make no threats. Instead i am enjoying the limelight.

In the meantime I challenge Mr. Swan to come up with SOME valid argument in defense of Webster's bogus Esdras argument. So far, he has just parroted back the same arguments that were refuted years ago.

I mean, fun's fun, but so far, this cartoon does not address my point that he has not given any new arguments but is serving up old lies in a new forum. I hope that Mr. Swan takes the hint.

Art Sippo