Archive for August, 2008

More Effective Rosary Use

August 31, 2008

On the same Catholic Answers Live episode (May 8, 2008), in which Steve Ray seemingly endorsed 18th Century superstitions (see my previous discussion), Mr. Ray discussed another Rosary-related topic.

A caller (Willie in Fredericksburg, TX) asked:

I tell somebody I’m going to say a rosary for them, and then I do, and in the process I might have told somebody else, and so I end up with two, three, four people – I’m just wondering, is that diluting it some way? Or is better to say individual – well its probably better – but is it diluting it some by combining several people?

Steve Ray responded:

I think that’s a good question, but I don’t think you have any fear of that, because if you are praying the rosary with sincere intent to pray it for several people instead of just one, the weakness would not be with you, but the weakness would be with God. And God isn’t weak. He can make sure that that prayer that you pray is responded to for each of those individuals, because God is perfectly capable of hearing your prayer and reaching out his wonderful fingers to touch 4, 5, 6, or 10 people just as well as one. And as long as its your intent to pray for them, and you say, “Lord, this person has a real need here, and this person there, and this person there, and this person there, and I only have a half an hour to pray Lord, but I really really want you to help every one of those people I’m going to pray for, so when I pray, would you please make up for any of my weakness of mind, and my weakness of memory, and you take care of them for me.” I guarantee by my little experience with God, and by knowing who He is and what He wants to do. He actually wants to help those people more than you want Him to help those people. So I think you add as many people as you want, and you pray for them, and then you watch God work in their life.

Let’s assume for a second that Steve Ray actually understands Catholicism, and further let’s assume that his statements are accurate. After all, he was introduced in the show as “one of the leading proponents of the faith” and he himself stated “if I don’t know something, I’m going to be honest and right up front and let you know that.”

If Steve Ray is right, isn’t it somewhat limited to pray as Steve proposes? Wouldn’t the following be a still more generous prayer?

Lord, I only have one half hour to pray, but I really really want you to help every one of the people on Earth who has a need, and each person in Purgatory who is suffering the temporal punishment of their sins. So, when I pray, would you please make up for my finite mind and my finite knowledge of all their particular problems, and their particular names, and take care of them for me.

In fact, if God would like to help all those people, wouldn’t God being willing to accept an omnibus request of that sort? I hope that most readers sense intuitively that a rosary prefaced in such a manner would not be used by God for billions of times more good than the same rosary prefaced by “So that Joe, my neighbor, will get a job.”

What’s wrong with Steve’s answer is that he doesn’t see the problem in the man’s question. Prayers, including collections of prayers, like the rosary, do not have merit. I’ve seen this problem in other contexts, normally in the context or people talking about requesting the prayers of “Saints.”

This problem usually becomes visible to us, Reformed folks, when we see Catholicism interacting with this verse:

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

What James writes is true, of course. The problem that we see is not people taking James at his word, but instead drawing inappropriate conclusions from what James says.

The inappropriate conclusion is that prayers have intrinsic power on God, as it were.

Thus, the improperly adduced formula works out to something like A*B = C

where A = the effort in prayer;
&nbsp B = the level of righteousness of the person praying; and
&nbsp C = the effectiveness of the prayer.

And even A could be then broken down into categories of length of the prayer, sincerity of the prayer, inconvenience suffered in praying, etc. etc.

This is all a mistaken notion. It is the error into which the heathen fell:

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

And we even see an Old Testament example:

1 Kings 18:26-28

26And they [the prophets of Baal]] took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

I don’t think that there should be any doubt about the sincerity, length, or inconvenience of their prayers. They offered Baal not only the bullock, but their own bodies (leaping on the alter themselves, so that when he answered with fire, they would themselves be consumed – and cutting themselves to spill their own blood and prove their devotion). Obviously one problem was the god to whom they prayed: they prayed to a god that did not exist.

But Elijah did not just pray to a different god, Elijah prayed differently. After building an altar and dousing it in water he simply prayed: “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)

No long prayer from morning till noon – no shouting – no cutting himself – none of these things marked Elijah’s prayer. Why not?

Because, while God is pleased to answer prayer, God cannot be moved. God is the uncaused cause. God is pleased to give good things to those who ask him, but He gives those things freely. Much speaking doesn’t impress God. Saying the same from prayer one time, ten times, or a hundred times doesn’t impress God.

Recall also Jesus warned against the scribes describing them as those:
Mark 12:40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
Luke 20:47 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

Be careful not to over-react. The point is not that long prayers are necessarily only for show … instead the point is that even those wicked people who take houses from widows can make long prayers. Long prayers are not, in themselves, meaningful. They match the world’s expectations of religion, but they are not what God sees.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Matthew 6:5-6
5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

What is James saying, he’s making clear the same concept that Proverbs describes:

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

And the Psalms say:

Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 69:33 For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.

So then, the primary problem underling both Willie’s undoubtedly sincere question and Mr. Ray’s sincere answer is that prayer is not something that has power in itself. The power of prayer cannot be “diluted” because prayers do not have intrinsic power or certainly cannot, by its strength, move God.

(I should mention in passing that there is another problem with Mr. Ray’s answer – namely that God doesn’t have to wait around for people to pray, in order to help them. God does whatever he pleases to do.)

How then should a Christian pray?

God delights in answering prayers, so pray for what is on your heart. Jesus provides what we call “The Lord’s prayer,” and what used to be called the “Pater Noster.” This template for prayer provides us with a way in which we should pray:

“Our Father which art in heaven,”

We pray to God and to Him alone.

“Hallowed be thy name,”

We reverence God in our prayers, not invoking his name lightly or trivially. We place his glory before all else.

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

We pray for things that we know to be agreeable to God’s will, including the promotion of His kingdom by the salvation of men. We qualify all our requests with acknowledgment that his will has the preeminence.

“Give us this day, our daily bread”

We pray for those things that are necessary and convenient for ourselves. Notice that Jesus mentions daily bread, not either weekly crumbs or daily feasts.

(Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:)

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”

We pray that God will forgive our sins, and we forgive those who sin against us.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

We further pray that God will sanctify us, enabling us to avoid sin.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.”

We again acknowledge that all things are under the rule of God, controlled by the power of God, and directed to the glory of God, both in this life, and in that which is to come.


We pray the prayer sincerely, assenting to the words that come either from our own mouth, or – if we add our amen to another’s prayer – to the words of that other person.

That is the form of prayer that is honoring and acceptable to God. A prayer that is not simply reciting rote what the beads say comes next, but a prayer that expresses our true desires to God.

In conclusion, allow me to leave you with an example. If you are parent, consider what request from your child you would prefer to hear: a request made clearly and tailored specifically to the item the child wants, “Father, may I play baseball with my friends?” or rote recitation of some formula? Surely you’d rather simply hear his request than the rote recitation or the combination of the two.

Hopefully, this example, and the Scriptural evidence above should help you see that praying the Rosary – even if the Rosary were limited to prayers to God – is not the proper practice of Biblical Christianity. It’s not what God has asked from us, and it is not how God wants us to pray. Our prayers do not have merit, but instead are like incense that we offer before God.

Thus, we sing:

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.


The real Turretin on: Old Testament Salvation

August 30, 2008

JetBrane at Iron Ink has a nice post providing a quotation from the real Francis Turretin on the topic of the salvation of believers in the Old Testament (link). Although their temporal relationship to the true atonement was different than ours, Old Testament saints were saved the same way that we, New Testament saints, are.


Steve Ray – Wearing Rosary Keeps Away Demons?

August 29, 2008

On the May 8, 2008, edition of Catholic Answers Live, I was amazed to hear Steve Ray reference (seemingly approvingly) a book called, “The Secret of the Rosary,” for the idea that wearing a rosary “around your neck keeps the Devil away – it keeps the evil powers away, because they hate the rosary and they hate the crucifix … .” I can safely say that wearing a rosary has about equal efficacy in keeping demons away as does wearing a scapular or dousing oneself in “holy water.” In short, it has no power at all.

Meanwhile, enjoy the ecumenical flavor of that most lovely work:

The heretics, all of whom are children of the devil and clearly bear the sign of God’s reprobation, have a horror of the Hail Mary. They still say the Our Father but never the Hail Mary; they would rather wear a poisonous snake around their necks than wear a scapular or carry a rosary.

And truly, I would rather (as Louis de Montfort claims) have a king cobra round my neck than participate in the superstitious and anti-Christian tradition of the rosary or the scapula. I think the portion Steve Ray was referring to was this:

Blessed Alan relates that a man he knew had tried desperately all kinds of devotions to rid himself of the evil spirit which possessed him, but without success. Finally, he thought of wearing his rosary round his neck, which eased him considerably. He discovered that whenever he took it off the devil tormented him cruelly, so he resolved to wear it night and day. This drove the evil spirit away forever because he could not bear such a terrible chain. Blessed Alan also testifies that he delivered a great number of those who were possessed by putting a rosary around their necks.

This may be from an eighteenth century book, but make no mistake, these superstitious beliefs are alive today, as evidenced by Mr. Ray’s comment.


Free Apologetics Course

August 29, 2008

The Parchment and Pen blog has made available for free an apologetics course taught by Rob Bowman (link). That would appear to be Rob Bowman, president of the Center for Biblical Apologetics, not Rob Bowman the noted filmmaker. While I would certainly not be able to endorse absolutely every aspect of Bowman’s viewpoints, and while I am particularly concerned by the apparent lack of historical awareness of the course (as evidenced by the dearth of recommended readings from notable Reformers or early churchmen and the fact that the KJV is not even an acceptable version for Scripture memorization for his course), nevertheless given the price, it may be worth checking out.


Response to Paul Hoffer – Salvation of Muslims

August 29, 2008

This article is in response to one by Paul Hoffer (link to PH’s article). I had written:

Question for my readers who follow Vatican 2’s proclamation that “the plan of salvation includes” Muslims: Can you see from the example above that zealously following Islam leads to eternal destruction? If so, how do you justify to yourself your church’s claim? Can you not admit that your church has erred on this point?

Mr. Hoffer has characterized my statement by claiming that “TF suggests that Catholics believe that Islam is salvific.” Let’s leave aside whether Mr. Hoffer’s ability to extract suggestions is correct, for now.

Assuming this to be the case, Mr. Hoffer complains for a full paragraph about how this is an “prime example” of “plurium interrogationum.” Again, for the moment, we will leave aside whether Mr. Hoffer has actually found a p.i. or not.

Mr. Hoffer proceeds by stating what he believes to be my motive: “Turretinfan hopes to create the impression in the minds of his audience that the Catholic Church teaches that Islam is salvific …,” meanwhile disputing as untrue this impression that he supposes I intended to convey. Again, let’s set aside, for the moment, whether he has correctly divined my intent.

Mr. Hoffer then offers “Proof” of his “contention that TF’s questions are based on a false premise … .”

Mr. Hoffer first confirms that my quotation “plan of salvation” is accurate, and provides a context for that quotation. I appreciate the fact that he has acknowledged that I accurately quoted the document, and I think it is fair to observe that the quotation must be understood as it was intended in context, and not simply according to what serves one’s apologetic or polemic needs.

Mr. Hoffer provides the following excerpt:

Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Emphasis Mr. Hoffer’s).

The first sentence that Mr. Hoffer highlighted makes sense: it is the sentence from which my quotation was taken. I found Mr. Hoffer’s second highlighting an odd choice. I would have thought in fairness he should highlight second, “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.”

I would think that sentence, and particularly that phrase, and most especially that word “also” would inform the reader that the comment about the people in the two previous sentences (1) “in the first place” the Muslims and (2) “those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God … ,” were comments about people who “can attain to salvation.”

Mr. Hoffer, however, argues that the reason is that “they claim to profess a belief in the God of Abraham” and that this is “a step closer to accepting the fullness of His Gospel even if there is much error in what a Muslim may otherwise believe.” Mr. Hoffer goes on to claim that, “If we accept that Muslims do in fact believe in the God of Abraham, then such a belief would make them more receptive to accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thus be saved.” We’ll return to this briefly.

Mr. Hoffer then tries to support the idea that truth contained in a pagan religion can prepare adherents to accept the Gospel of Christ. Of course, I don’t think anyone doubts this. That is to say, God can use truth contained in anything to prepare people for the Gospel.

Mr. Hoffer, however, does not rest on this argument, but quotes from Dominus Jesus (2000), which states that “It would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her.” I found it a bit odd that Mr. Hoffer (after seemingly chastising me for providing only a snippet) does not even quote the whole sentence. Since he would doubtless not be opposed, I provide the entire paragraph:

21. With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83 Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God’s salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished. However, from what has been stated above about the mediation of Jesus Christ and the “unique and special relationship”84 which the Church has with the kingdom of God among men — which in substance is the universal kingdom of Christ the Saviour — it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God. (emphasis in original, though form of emphasis changed from italics to bold)

What is especially interesting is the tail of the sentence that Mr. Hoffer snipped off, the part about these other religions “converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.” Also of note is the initial sentence of paragraph, “With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.”

Mr. Hoffer also provides another quotation, from the next paragraph, “If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation” (emphasis omitted by Hoffer restored). This quotation seems rather helpful to the idea that in fact followers of other religions receive divine grace, even if they do not have the fullness of the means of salvation.

Mr. Hoffer provides a further quotation from John Paul II, in which the pope notes that “Islam is not a religion of redemptino.” Mr. Hoffer, however, appears not to appreciate the fact that JP2 is simply describing Islam for what it is (forgiveness of sins in Islam is arbitrary, not based on redemption), not suggesting that Islam cannot serve as a means of divine grace.

Next, Mr. Hoffer links to an argument from Mr. Armstrong, which I plan to address some other time. Since Mr. Hoffer does not reproduce the argument, and since it appears to reflect Mr. Armstrong’s rather unique views on the subject, I trust Mr. Hoffer will not mind me passing it by for now.

Mr. Hoffer concludes his line of thought by stating in bold capital letters (not shown here): “The Catholic Church does not believe that a person can be saved through adherence to Islam.” Even if that is true, it is somewhat moot. After all, a good adherent of Catholicism will insist, consistent with the following, that the “Catholic Church does not believe that a persona can be saved by adherence to” Catholicism:

However, “all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged”.93 (Dominus Jesus, 22)

The question is whether God graciously rewards those who follow Islam, not whether adherence to Islam is itself meritorious in the sense mentioned in the above block quotation. Catholicism claims not to believe in such salvation through meritorious adherence to religion.

Now, let’s return to some of those issues we previously deferred.

1) “TF suggests that Catholics believe that Islam is salvific.”

In response, I should point that many Roman Catholics do actually believe that following Islam will save you. “I believe that all roads lead to the same place,” is the way I once heard a very elderly Roman Catholic put it. That, however, is a moot point. Inclusivism, as popular as it may be amongst the laity, is not (as such) official church dogma, at least not yet.

Next, I should point out that saying that Muslims who practice Islam faithfully will be saved is different from saying that Islam itself is salvific. In fact, given the emphasis on grace, a consistent, conservative Roman Catholic would be hard-pressed to argue that even Catholicism itself is salvific (since salvation is by grace, not adherence to religion).

Finally, I should note that Mr. Hoffer doesn’t ever seem to dispute that Muslims who are Muslims (not Muslims who become Christians) are able to be saved as such. Furthermore, that is the best and plainest sense both of Vatican 2’s Lumen Gentium and JP2’s Dominus Jesus (which, again, Mr. Hoffer does not seem to expressly dispute).

2) This is an “prime example” of “plurium interrogationum.”

No. This is not a prime example. Even if it were what Mr. Hoffer suggests, it would not be a prime example, because of the fact that (at a minimum) Mr. Hoffer seems to have overlooked an alternate premise upon which the questions can be founded, namely that practicing Muslims (as such) can be saved (i.e. that Muslims can be saved without becoming Christians). That lesser premise Mr. Hoffer only reaffirms via his quotation of church documents. Thus, even if I were guilty of what Mr. Hoffer tries to charge (i.e. loading the question), this is not a prime example.

3) “Turretinfan hopes to create the impression in the minds of his audience that the Catholic Church teaches that Islam is salvific … .”

No. I actually directed the question to those who hold to Vatican 2. I was assuming that my audience would be familiar with Lumen Gentium, and consequently place the snippet quotation I provided in its proper context. I assumed (perhaps rashly) that the reader would recognize that modern Catholicism does seem to teach that non-Christians can be saved, without becoming Christians, as demonstrated above.

In fact, popular apologist for Catholicism, Jimmy Akin recently (about two years ago) stated:

Thus any atheist who could say, “I don’t think that God exists, but if I was shown convincing reasons to believe that he does then I would go and get baptized immediately and become one of his devout followers” then this person’s heart is such that God will not hold his ignorance against him and will allow him to be saved.

On the other hand, if an atheist says, “Even if there is a God, I’ll still refuse to believe in him and I’ll spit in his face when I die” then this person is toast.

Between the two would be atheists who display some openness to God but who also to one degree or another resist compelling reasons to believe that he exist when they encounter such reasons. These individuals would seem to be in an ambiguous condition. If their openness to believing in and following God is their more fundamental motive then they would be open to his grace and be saved. If their resistance to believing in or following God is their more fundamental motive then they would be closed to his grace and thus lost.(emphasis changed from italics to bold)


At the end of the day, I’m afraid I feel that Mr. Hoffer’s comment in his first paragraph, “I have been accused at times of reading things into what people write,” is supported by the present illustration. Mr. Hoffer read something into what I wrote, and got it somewhat wrong.

Against Mr. Akin and Vatican 2, I insist that the only way to be saved is by explicitly believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Thus, I deny that non-Christians can be saved as such. Of course, the only sense in which “the plan of salvation includes” non-Christians is in the sense that there are some non-Christians today who are among the elect: men for whom Christ died, who will – some day – come to a saving faith in Him and be justified by faith alone in Christ alone, thereby being saved by grace alone.

Glory to the One Name under Heaven whereby men are saved, Jesus,


P.S. It is something of a pet peeve of mine to note that what Mr. Hoffer has called “Begging the Question,” is more properly called the fallacy of the “complex question” or more colloquially, “asking a loaded question.” In logic, the fallacy of “begging the question” normally refers to petitio principii, where an argument is made in which the conclusion is smuggled in as a premise. I am especially sensitive to this, because of the rampant abuse of the phrase “begging the question” to mean simply “raising the issue.” Mr. Hoffer, thankfully, does not fall into that ditch. Likewise, the example of the question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” is a prime example of the plurium interrogationum fallacy, although it can take several forms. Incidentally, “plurium interrogationum” literally conveys the idea of “many questions” – hence the English “complex question.”

Update: Mr. Hoffer, in a new post (link) seems to miss the point of my correction of his irregular use of the term “begging the question” to describe plurium interrogationum. So that things are clear for him, I’m saying that his accusation/objection should have been to “complex question” or “loaded question” if he was objecting to a fallacy of plurium interrogationum (and I have assumed that it was his intent to object to plurium interrogationum, as petitio principii would be an even less appropriate, for the formal reasons Mr. Hoffer outlines in his post). The phrase “begging the question” derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy. As well, the preferred spelling of petitio principii is ending with two “i”s (i.e. four total “i”s in the word).

Update: In yet another new post (link), Mr. Hoffer has tried to continue to insist on his nomenclature. The fact that “begging the question” derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy is something that would be obvious to anyone who knows Latin. I commend to Mr. Hoffer’s reading the following:

  • “Fallacies” by Alfred Sidgwick (link), particularly p. 175
  • “The Laws of Discursive Thought, Being a Text-book of Formal Logic” by James McCosh (link) particularly p. 184
  • “An Elementary Treatise on Logic” by William Dexter Wilson (link) particularly p. 184
  • “Logic” by George Hugh Smith (link) particularly pp. 174 and 189

Additional rudimentary books on Logic could be brought to bear to establish by authority what should be plain to everyone by now.

Wes White – Thoughts on Church Music

August 28, 2008

I enjoyed reading Wes White’s interesting discussion of Church music – and mostly agreed with it (link). The major point he makes regarding the fact that singing is to be congregational singing is an important one that is overlooked by many folks.


On the Exercise of Charity

August 28, 2008

I was recently told (by someone who was there), of a certain elderly Roman Catholic lady, unwilling to be so uncharitable as to pray that the unhelpful bank teller be damned in hell, compromised by indicating her intention to pray that the teller would be stuck in Purgatory.

I don’t bring this up to suggest that the woman was in any way expressing proper Roman Catholic doctrine or approved practice. I suppose that most Roman Catholic bishops would acknowledge that such a prayer would be improper.

I bring it up to highlight the need to distinguish between our own perceptions of Charity and true Charity. True Charity is turning the other cheek, not punching the villain with only 50% of your strength. It’s a lesson we can all learn, not just this otherwise sweet old lady.


Serious Question for my Readers

August 27, 2008

Question for my Muslims readers: When you read this article (link), does your conscience tell you that this sort of behavior is wrong? If so, are you aware that this sort of activity is a natural consequence of zealously following the teachings of the Koran?

Question for my readers who follow Vatican 2’s proclamation that “the plan of salvation includes” Muslims: Can you see from the example above that zealously following Islam leads to eternal destruction? If so, how do you justify to yourself your church’s claim? Can you not admit that your church has erred on this point?

Question for my readers who are Evangelical: What steps are you taking to convert Muslims to Christianity? Muslims are an increasing fraction of society, and they desperately need the gospel, without which they will be lost.

These are mostly rhetorical questions. I’m not looking for debate in the comment box, just asking people to think seriously about eternal matters.


Escape from the Flooding Mine

August 27, 2008

“What a jerk,” thought Mike as he headed steadily westward along the mine’s tunnel, stomping angrily in the rising floodwaters.

Mike felt insulted. He had been traveling westward at a good clip, in the company of a sizable crew of his fellow miners. They were covered with various patches of dust, and the light from their helmets created an ever-shifting pattern of shadows on the tunnel wall.

The cause of Mike’s hurt feelings was the message on a shirt of a single minor headed eastbound. “Go East,” screamed the shirt in bright yellow letters on a black background, “Westward Escape Route Not Open.”

What was worse, on the back of the shirt – this time in neon orange – the shirt announced that the Eastern Escape Route was the way designed by the engineer of the mine, and that the Western Escape Route was simply wishful thinking that had gained group appeal.

“Who does this guy think he is?” thought Mike. “His shirt screams out hatred for me and my friends.” Even as Mike thought this, though, he realized that it wasn’t quite fair: the shirt was about a position, not a person.

“Well,” continued Mike’s thoughts, “if not hatred for me, hatred for everything I and my group of miners stand for: all of our hopes of escape and all of the effort we have put into making sure each other continue successfully on our Western path.”

What aggravated Mike even more was that the miner hadn’t been content to let Mike’s group pass in peace and quiet. Instead, the lone miner had shouted out that he had found a source of knowledge – a map – that showed the one true path of escape. The miner had insisted that all the other paths, including the Western path led only to doom and drowning.

Mike tried to point out the size of his group, but the man just kept pointing to the map. Mike had even tried pointing out how the map supported the Western path, but the man had insisted that he knew better, and that in fact – when properly read – the map indicated that the Eastern path was better – in fact was the only way.

Eventually, the lone miner continued on his way through the rising floodwaters to the East, while the group of miners with Mike at their lead continued to the West. “Stupid Anti-Westerner,” Mike complained to his colleagues, and they all assented, joking about the fact that the lone miner cut a sad sight trudging in such a lonely manner and trusting in some map.

One may have already guessed how things turned out. There was but one survivor that day: the man who followed the map provided by the engineer of the mine. It was by this revelation of the design of the mine that the man was able to get to safety. It was not hatred of his fellow miners, but love of them, that motivated that miner’s shirt and his message to them. But alas, they called him names, questioned his motives, and refused to listen. In the end, they perished.

(inspiration for this allegory)


The Real Turretin on: Covenant of Works – Reward for Obedience

August 27, 2008

Joshua Lim at Reformed Blogging has provided an interesting quotation from the real Turretin on the Reward of Life that would have been given to Adam for his obedience for as long as he continued in obedience (link).


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