Archive for the ‘Roman Catholicism’ Category

Not So Much Mystery, as Error

December 10, 2015

Per Cardinal Koch (link to report), the RCC affirms salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ and says that Jews can be saved without explicitly confessing Christ:
“While affirming salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ, the Church does not question the continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel.” (17)
“That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.” (36)
It would be better to characterize that as a real contradiction and consequently an error, not a divine mystery.

Interestingly enough, the report acknowledged the fact that this view is a departure from tradition:

On the part of many of the Church Fathers the so-called replacement theory or supersessionism steadily gained favour until in the Middle Ages it represented the standard theological foundation of the relationship with Judaism: the promises and commitments of God would no longer apply to Israel because it had not recognised Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, but had been transferred to the Church of Jesus Christ which was now the true ‘new Israel’, the new chosen people of God.


The same section goes on to admit the novelty of the Vatican II position:

Arising from the same soil, Judaism and Christianity in the centuries after their separation became involved in a theological antagonism which was only to be defused at the Second Vatican Council. With its Declaration “Nostra aetate” (No.4) the Church unequivocally professes, within a new theological framework, the Jewish roots of Christianity.

It should be interesting to listen to the various attempts to deal with this from various “conservative” RC groups.

Possible ideas:

1) It’s only a report by a commission, it’s not a papal encyclical. Therefore, even though it’s on the Vatican website, it’s not “really official.”
2) The old standby, “well, this isn’t ex cathedra.”

Never Thirst – Taking Jesus "Literally" can be Fatal

July 17, 2014

Roman Catholics like to try to claim that they are just taking Jesus “literally” when they interpret “this is my body” to mean that what was in Jesus’ hands was not bread but his physical body [FN1]. Three passages in John help to illustrate the problem with that approach: John 4, John 6, and John 7.  In the first, Jesus refers metaphorically to living water, in the second Jesus refers to himself as food and drink, and in the third Jesus offers drink to those who thirst.

In John 4, Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  He asks her for water, she objects because he’s Jewish, and he responds that she should be asking him for water, because the water he offers is better than the water from Jacob’s well. She misunderstands him as speaking physically, even after some further explanation.  She wants to stop the labor of drawing water and misunderstands Jesus’ comments about “never thirst.”

John 4:6-15
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

In John 6, Jesus interacts with a number of “disciples” who want Jesus to repeat the miracle of the loaves that’s reported at the beginning of the chapter.  Jesus explains that the person who believes on him will never thirst and whoever comes to him will never hunger, calling himself the “bread of life” that “came down from heaven.” Jesus insists that the bread he offers is better than the manna that the people ate in the wilderness.  Jesus talks about them eating his flesh and drinking his blood, but they take him physically and go away in disgust.  Jesus explains that the words he speaks are spirit and life.  Jesus asks the twelve if they will go away too, but Peter (speaking for the group) says that they will stay with him because they believe and know that his words are the words of eternal life.

John 6:26-71
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. 

In John 7, Jesus interacts with those at the temple for the feast.  Jesus offers the thirsty people water.  John explains to us that Jesus is speaking about the Spirit as the “rivers of flowing water.”

John 7:37-39 
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

These passages illustrate Jesus’ fondness for using food as a metaphor for trust in him.  We approach the Lord’s table by faith, coming to Him as represented by the bread and cup.  We gain a benefit from this if we do so by faith, but not if we do so any other way.  It is not the physical elements that provide the benefit we receive, it is the Spirit.

Remember what Jesus said about clean/unclean foods:

Matthew 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Unfortunately, it seems our Roman Catholic friends and relatives fail to understand this.  Christ is our spiritual food and drink, not our physical nourishment.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Psalm 105:41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
Isaiah 48:21 And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
Psalm 78:20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The blessings we receive in Christ are primarily spiritual blessings.  We drink the spiritual drink from the spiritual Rock, and that Rock is Christ.  He is our Rock, we trust in Him.

To the glory of his grace!


Footnote 1: I should add that the Roman Catholic position is particularly absurd in that it takes “this is my body” as implying that the bread ceases to be bread and becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.  Likewise, it is claimed that “this is … my blood” implies exactly the same thing about the contents of the cup.  That’s quite far from taking the words literally, in which the bread would just be the body, and the contents of the cup would just be the blood.

When did Roman Catholicism Begin?

March 20, 2013

Over at Greenbaggins, Scott asked:

TF, when, exactly, do you believe Roman Catholicism began?

I answer:

If Roman Catholicism is defined by her (supposedly) infallibly defined dogmas, her birthday is November 1, 1950, which is when her pope defined the fiction of the bodily assumption. If she is defined by the last (supposedly) ecumenical council she accepts, she’s even younger (December 8, 1965), the date of conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. If she is defined by her canon laws, the most recent major edition was January 28, 1983. If she’s defined by her current pope, then she’s newborn.

But if she’s simply vaguely defined as a movement, it’s hard to provide a fixed date. Benedict XVI treated Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) as the father of Roman Catholicism – despite the fact that Thomas Aquinas’ views would place him outside the RCC today.

Perhaps better dates would be the dates of the councils of Constance (1418), Florence (1445) and Trent (1563), where certain strands of scholastic theology gained ecclesiastical dominance over other strands. Then again, a lot of Tridentine RCism has been undermined in contemporary RCism.

And frankly, that’s probably the best way to date the movement – to the “late medieval” period – 15th or 16th century, although there were undoubtedly doctrinal roots that go back earlier, even while recognizing that RCism continues to change even today.

That doesn’t mean that no one before 1054 held to any views in common with Roman Catholics, and it doesn’t mean that things like the Edict of Milan or the forged “Donation of Constantine” were insignificant factors in producing what eventually came to be RCism. Still, calling anyone in the late patristic or early medieval period “Roman Catholic” is anachronistic.


"The Real Catholics" – R. Scott Clark and Perkins

October 11, 2012

R. Scott Clark has posted a series (so far two, I’m not sure if more are in the works) drawn from the works of William Perkins (1558–1602) discussing what constitutes true Catholicity. (part 1)(part 2)

In general, both Clark’s and Perkins’ comments are excellent. Clark notes, “Vatican II changed none of the doctrines against which the Reformation reacted.” I would caveat that with “almost none” or “none of the major.” Of course, on these points, a “conservative” Roman Catholic might argue that the points of change were never doctrinal issues, despite the fact that things like the use of Latin to the exclusion of the common tongue, forced celibacy of deacons, and rigid rules for orders were defended by Rome’s advocates on doctrinal grounds.

And Rome has worsened her doctrines in several ways, in addition to what Clark mentions, Rome has subsequently made the Bodily Assumption and Papal infallibility dogma. Moreover, the exclusivity of Rome has certainly be downplayed to the point where inclusivism is rampant throughout the Roman hierarchy.

Clark states: “Perkins was concerned about a false ecumenism then and we have just as much right to be concerned about it now.” Just as much, and perhaps even more. Rome is approaching ecumenism more winsomely today than she did back when she was having the Reformers imprisoned and burnt at the stake.


UPDATE: Part 3 is up (link).

And the Difference Between This and Simony is …

September 27, 2012

The German bishops are demanding that German members of the Roman Catholic Church either pay a tax or forego the sacraments, including absolution – as explained at the linked report.  Naturally, the tax goes to the German churches.

(American) Roman Catholic, Jimmy Akin, has a variety of thoughts on the matter, but his defense to the charge of simony (which he recognizes) is awefully weak.  He states: “Telling the state that you’re not a Catholic just so you can get out of paying some taxes is just another form of denying the faith before Caesar.”

On the other hand the report itself says: “German taxpayers can opt out of paying the religious tax by formally leaving their church through a declaration on their tax forms, though it does not require a renunciation of their faith.”

But even assuming Akin is correct, surely the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize “ticking a box on a tax form” (or even swearing on a stack of Bibles) as a legitimate way of leaving membership.  Doesn’t baptism allegedly leave an indelible mark?  Aren’t people just “lapsed Catholics” if they deny Rome?  And isn’t absolution in confession the ordinary way to restore them?

If so, they ought to be able to receive absolution through confession and penance, not payment.  Whether ticking the box on the tax form is a mortal sin is a red herring. What the German bishops are doing is, in essence, putting a price on the sacraments.  It’s this kind of nonsense that led an Augustinian monk named Luther to spark a Reformation in Germany in the 1500’s.

Perhaps it will be God’s good pleasure to use this situation as a fresh spark to rekindle the Reformation in Germany.


P.S. Mr. Akin notes that the tens of thousands of people who have taken advantage of the tax form option are less than 1% of the German Roman Catholics.  He suggested that this means that the RCC is losing less than 1% of her income from the taxes.  That assumes that the people who take advantage of this are randomly selected.  One suspects that those with higher incomes are more likely to be looking for ways to reduce their taxes than those with smaller incomes.  Moreover, in a progressively taxed society like Germany, a large amount of the tax revenue comes from a relatively small amount of people.  So, the numbers may be considerably more dramatic than Mr. Akin suggests.

Solomon vs. Postmodernism and Her Roman Companions

July 23, 2012

Proverbs 22:17-21

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Does the written word communicate the words of truth with certainty to the individual (thee = you singular) reader?


Post-Modern Roman Catholicism – Guest Post by Adam Blauser

May 25, 2012

Recently, in the comment box on this blog, a member of the Roman communion provided the following comment:

Again and again. Who has the authority in Protestantism to determine the correct interpretation of the Bible?. No one.

Adam Blauser has provided a thorough response, namely:

Again and again, why does Roman Catholicism pull out the arguments of Jacques Derrida and Stanley Fish, when postmodernism destroys Roman Catholicism too? What is the assumption behind this statement: that the only thing that factors into the interpretation of a text is the interpreter. If I allow for the author and his intention to play a role in interpretation, then it is easy to see who has the authority to determine the correct interpretation of the Bible-the authors of the Bible. Correct interpretation, then, is more of an ethical issue. The interpreter has an obligation to “not bear false witness” against the author of the text, and accurately represent what he is saying. If that is the case, then the issue of interpretation is actually an argument against Roman Catholicism, because, once you impose traditions upon the text, you are changing the world of the author, and thus, not accurately representing the world he has constructed accurately.

More than that, destroying the author as a reference point leads to total and complete postmodernism. For example, why do you accept Rome as the infallible interpreter of scripture and history? Eastern Orthodoxy also makes the same claim, as does Syrian Orthodoxy. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses make the same claim. Before you go running off to history, let us also remember that these groups claim the right to infallibly interpret history too, just like Rome does. So, who has the authority to decide which group has the authority to infallibly interpret history and scripture? It becomes totally dependent upon which group you are a part of as to what the correct interpretation of both history and scripture is. Hence, it is relative to community. That is utter and complete postmodernism.

Not only that, but if you need an “infallible interpreter” to know which interpretations of a text are correct, then how do we know what the correct interpretations of the Egyptian Book of the Dead are? Scholars disagree. How do we know what the correct interpretation of the Baal epic is? Scholars disagree. How do we know what the correct interpretation of the Epic of Gilgamesh is? Scholars disagree. The point is, there is no text upon which there is not disagreement as to the correct interpretation. However, where is the infallible magisterium of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Apparently, because it doesn’t exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Book of the Dead says. Where is the infallible magisterium of the Baal epic? Apparently, because it doesn’t exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Baal epic says. Where is the infallible magisterium of the Gilgamesh Epic? Apparently, because it doesn’t exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Epic of Gilgamesh says. Such results in utter destruction of all of our knowledge of what written texts say.

The real problem here is that the church is finite. Not only can other groups claim the authority to infallibly interpret both history and tradition, but, because of the finitude of all of these groups including Rome, the issue can never be settled. Not only that, Rome cannot explain why, in the instance of other texts, we can come to the correct interpretation despite differences of opinion. All of these things relate to the limited and finite nature of the church. I really wish Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would consider these things before they go making this argument again and again. A limited, finite church is a poor base for meaning in language.

Vatican and Economics

April 10, 2012

The Vatican may be a lot of things, but it is not especially capitalist. According to a report by the Vatican Information Service on March 30, 2012, the Bilateral Commission of the Delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, held in Rome from March 27-29 (presided by Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, and Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson)issued a joint statement at the end of the meeting:

At the heart of Jewish and Catholic visions for a just economic order is the affirmation of the sovereignty and providence of the Creator of the world with Whom all wealth originates and which is given to humankind as a gift for the common good … the purpose of an economic order is to serve the well being of society, affirming the human dignity of all people, each created in the divine image … [this concept] posits the obligation to guarantee certain basic human needs, such as the protection of life, sustenance, clothing, housing, health, education and employment …

(emphasis added)

Very interesting, don’t you think?

I have heard a traditionally minded Brazilian member of the Roman communion tell me that the Communists are trying (successfully) to infiltrate the Brazilian hierarchy to destroy the Church.  I think he’s only partly right.  The Roman church’s views on economics are left-leaning already.  They are not capitalist, free-market views.


This Goes Beyond Lampoon …

February 15, 2012

I’m not sure what else to say about this story about a pair of Columbian priests (Roman communion) who made the headlines when they were discovered murdered. Martyrs, do you think? It turns out it was a murder for hire. They were the ones who hired the hitmen. There’s more, but it’s not for tender eyes.


Vatican Politics – Not Quite the 15th and 16th Centuries But …

February 14, 2012

There have been some interesting happenings at the Vatican (link to article). The Vatican was busy last week denying what the leaked communication implied (and who knows where the truth lies), but it will be interesting to see how this pans out in terms of who is the next pope. The article suggests that Tarcisio Bertone may be the one we should expect to succeed Benedict XVI. It would be an interesting change of pace, in terms of different personalities. One imagines he would be more willing than Benedict XVI to define the dogma of the co-redemptrix.


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