Jimmy Akin on Sola Fide

(This posting is the result of a challenge from the Catholic
Debate Forum (CDF)
made by Bob Jaffray there, I post it
here as well as the original posting which can be found by
clicking here).
Jimmy Akin has an article on sola fide and his perception of the
Catholic teaching on this subject. Let us look at that site and
engage the discussion. Mr. Jaffray states that no Catholic has
been willing to engage him on this subject. I find that rather
hard to believe, and have searched the archives here on CDF
where he claims to have made this challenge "several times"
and I have come up empty. I did find a FEW passing comments
regarding Mr. Akin - but none which specifically dealt with the
subject of sola fide and/or included a link to Mr. Akin's site so
that we even COULD engage the discussion. If such a post
from Mr. Jaffray does indeed exist on CDF, I would like to see

Rather than wait for documentation from Mr. Jaffray (which
almost never - if ever materializes) here is the link to Jimmy
Akin's article on sola fide:


And below I will interact with Mr. Akin's article. For clarity I
will put Mr. Akin's words in blue and preface them with a ">"


Justification by Faith Alone

> by James Akin
> Many Protestants today realize that Catholics adhere to the
> idea of salvation sola gratia (by grace alone),

Mr. Jaffray, are you among those who realize that Catholics
adhere to the idea of salvation sola gratia (by grace alone)?

> but fewer are aware that Catholics also do not have to
> condemn the formula of justification sola fide (by faith alone),
> provided this phrase is properly understood.

I too have said this in the past. However, as Protestantism
understands the terminology - it is heresy. Also, if we go
by a "straightforward reading" of Scripture - the ONLY place
the words "faith" and "alone" are used together in the same
sentence is James 2:24 and it is in NEGATION of faith

> The term pistis is used in the Bible in a number of different
> senses, ranging from intellectual belief (Romans 14:22, 23,
> James 2:19), to assurance (Acts 17:31), and even to
> trustworthiness or reliability (Romans 3:3, Titus 2:10). Of
> key importance is Galatians 5:6, which refers to "faith
> working by charity." In Catholic theology, this is what is
> known as fide formata or "faith formed by charity." The
> alternative to formed faith is fide informis or "faith unformed
> by charity." This is the kind of faith described in James 2:19,
> for example.

In other words - there are many ways to look at the word "faith"
in Scripture - not just one. Mr. Akin would then appear to be
positing that the kind of faith which MAY be applicable to sola
fide is not an "alone faith" but one which is WORKING through
CHARITY, per the Galatians 5:6 reference. Mr. Akin continues
this thought process...

> Whether a Catholic will condemn the idea of justification by
> faith alone depends on what sense the term "faith" is being
> used in.

Which is precisely my point as well.

> If it is being used to refer to unformed faith then a Catholic
> rejects the idea of justification by faith alone (which is the
> point James is making in James 2:19, as every
> non-antinomian Evangelical agrees; one is not justified by
> intellectual belief alone).
> However, if the term "faith" is being used to refer to faith
> formed by charity then the Catholic does not have to condemn
> the idea of justification by faith alone. In fact, in traditional
> works of Catholic theology, one regularly encounters the
> statement that formed faith is justifying faith. If one has
> formed faith, one is justified. Period.

My problem, however, is to embrace terminology invented by
the Protestants who came up with this terminology in direct
opposition to the Catholic Church. Perhaps Mr. Akin makes
this argument in a "spirit of ecumenism" - but in my humble
opinion, it would be a false ecumenism, for we truly do NOT
adhere to nor embrace what the Protestants embraced when
they invented the terminology.

> A Catholic would thus reject the idea of justification sola
> fide informi
but wholeheartedly embrace the idea of
> justification sola fide formata. Adding the word "formed" to
> clarify the nature of the faith in "sola fide" renders the
> doctrine completely acceptable to a Catholic.

And therein lies the rub - Protestants who embrace sola fide
would not permit the "addition" of the word "formed" (or
formata) to one of their pillars of the so-called reformation.

> Why, then, do Catholics not use the ther (word?) in this
> regard, we would have to say, "Jesus is not God." Obviously,
> the Church could not have people running around saying
> "Jesus is God" and "Jesus is not God," though both would
> be perfectly consistent with the Trinity depending on how
> the term "God" is being used (i.e., as a noun or a proper
> name for the Father). Hopeless confusion (and charges of
> heresy, and bloodbaths) would have resulted in the early
> centuries if the Church did not specify the meaning of the
> term "God" when used in this context.
> Of course, the Bible uses the term "God" in both senses,
> but to avoid confusion (and heretical misunderstandings on
> the part of the faithful, who could incline to either Arianism
> or Modalism if they misread the word "God" in the above
> statements) it later became necessary to adopt one usage
> over the other when discussing the identity of Jesus.

With all due respect to Mr. Akin here, I do not accept this
logic. Jesus IS God, and "God" is not merely a proper
noun/name for the Father. God the Father is not God the
Son, and neither are God the Holy Ghost - but ALL THREE
are God. It would NEVER be a proper Catholic argument
to say Jesus is not God. In every sense that the Father is
God, so is the Son and so is the Holy Ghost.

> A similar phenomenon occurs in connection with the word
> "faith." Evangelical leaders know this by personal experience
> since they have to continually fight against antinomian
> understandings of the term "faith" (and the corresponding
> antinomian evangelistic practices and false conversions that
> result). Because "faith" is such a key term, it is necessary
> that each theological school have a fixed usage of it in
> practice, even though there is more than one use of the term
> in the Bible. Evangelical leaders, in response to the
> antinomianism that has washed over the American church
> scene in the last hundred and fifty years, are attempting to
> impose a uniform usage to the term "faith" in their community
> to prevent these problems. (And may they have good luck in
> this, by the way.)

Before we proceed, for those who do not know the terminology,
we should define "antinomianism." Literally the word breaks
down as follows: anti = against nomos = law, thus the
Antinomians are "against the (moral) law." They hold to a
radical, yet logical, conclusion of the statement on sola fide,
and that being that good works do not promote salvation nor
do evil works hinder it (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01564b.htm
for a more in depth discussion of this topic).

> This leads me to why Catholics do not use the formula "faith
> alone." Given the different usages of the term "faith" in the
> Bible, the early Church had to decide which meaning would
> be treated as normative. Would it be the Galatians 5 sense
> or the Romans 14/James 2 sense? The Church opted for the
> latter for several reasons:
> First, the Romans 14 sense of the term pistis is frankly the
> more common in the New Testament. It is much harder to
> think of passages which demand that pistis mean "faith
> formed by charity" than it is to think of passages which
> demand that pistis mean "intellectual belief." In fact, even in
> Galatians 5:6 itself, Paul has to specify that it is faith formed
> by charity that he is talking about, suggesting that this is not
> the normal use of the term in his day.
> Second, the New Testament regularly (forty-two times in the
> KJV) speaks of "the faith," meaning a body of theological
> beliefs (e.g. Jude 3). The connection between pistis and
> intellectual belief is clearly very strong in this usage.
> Third, Catholic theology has focused on the triad of faith,
> hope, and charity, which Paul lays great stress on and
> which is found throughout his writings, not just in
> 1 Corinthians 13:13 (though that is the locus classicus for
> it), including places where it is not obvious because of the
> English translation or the division of verses. If in this triad
> "faith" is taken to mean "formed faith" then hope and
> charity are collapsed into faith and the triad is flattened.
> To preserve the distinctiveness of each member of the triad,
> the Church chose to use the term "faith" in a way that did
> not include within it the ideas of hope (trust) and charity
> (love). Only by doing this could the members of the triad be
> kept from collapsing into one another.
> Thus the Catholic Church normally expresses the core
> essences of these virtues like this:
> Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God
> and believe all that he has said and revealed to us . . .
> because he is truth itself. (CCC 1814)
> Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the
> kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness,
> placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on
> our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the
> Holy Spirit. (CCC 1817)
> Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God
> above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as
> ourselves for the love of God. (CCC 1822)
> In common Catholic usage, faith is thus unconditional
> belief in what God says, hope is unconditional trust in
> God, and charity is unconditional love for God. When
> we are justified, God places all three of these virtues in
> our hearts. These virtues are given to each of the justified,
> even though our outward actions do not always reflect
> them because of the fallen nature we still possess.
> Thus a person may still have the virtue of faith even if
> momentarily tempted by doubt, a person may still have
> the virtue of trust even if scared or tempted by despair,
> and a person may still have the virtue of charity even if
> he is often selfish. Only a direct, grave violation (mortal
> sin against) of one of the virtues destroys the virtue.

I did not interject for a while here because I wanted Mr. Akin's
point to be contextually made. In short, though he's making
an argument where a Catholic could accept a properly
defined concept of sola fide - he's defined his way right out
of the "sola" of sola fide! Mr. Akin's argument (which is, the
Catholic and scriptural argument) is in reality that we are
justified by faith, hope AND charity - and NOT by faith alone!

> As our sanctification progresses, these virtues within us
> are strengthened by God and we are able to more easily
> exercise faith, more easily exercise trust, and more easily
> exercise love. Performing acts of faith, hope, and charity
> becomes easier as we grow in the Christian life (note the
> great difficulty new converts often experience in these
> areas compared to those who have attained a measure of
> spiritual maturity).

Again I emphasize, Mr. Akin is NOT preaching faith ALONE
here, but faith, hope and charity.

> However, so long as one has any measure of faith, hope,
> and charity, one is in a state of justification. Thus
> Catholics often use the soteriological slogan that we are
> "saved by faith, hope, and charity." This does not disagree
> with the Protestant soteriological slogan that we are "saved
> by faith alone" if the term "faith" is understood in the latter
> to be faith formed by charity or Galatians 5 faith.

I would like to see a proponent of sola fide accept Mr. Akin's
conditional soteriological statement of sola fide. It has been
my experience that once we start putting "conditions" on it,
they will reject it as no longer "sola" fide.

> One will note, in the definitions of the virtues offered above,
> the similarity between hope and the way Protestants
> normally define "faith"; that is, as an unconditional "placing
> our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own
> strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."
> The definition Protestants normally give to "faith" is the
> definition Catholics use for "hope."
> However, the Protestant idea of faith by no means excludes
> what Catholics refer to as faith, since every Evangelical
> would (or should) say that a person with saving faith will
> believe whatever God says because God is absolutely
> truthful and incapable of making an error. Thus the
> Protestant concept of faith normally includes both the
> Catholic concept of faith and the Catholic concept of hope.

In other words, faith is not alone. Protestants must combine
two Catholic concepts (which existed before there ever was
a Protestant) to make one concept which they would call the
"faith" of sola fide. In short, they must play a word game and
Catholics really should have no part of this. We should insist
upon the traditional and scriptural view we have ALWAYS
held on to in this regard. To imply that we (Catholics and
Protestants) are really saying the same thing with different
words implies a unity which truly does not yet exist between
us. Again, I would be quite interested to see/hear an adherent
to sola fide actually accept what Mr. Akin says here. If they
do, then they have rejected faith alone, for what Mr. Akin has
presented is faith, hope AND charity are ALL THREE
necessary for justification. It would seem to me to be outright
deceptive to say the concept of sola fide includes hope and
charity - for now faith is not alone, and that is what "sola fide"
literally means.

> Thus if a Protestant further specifies that saving faith is a
> faith which "works by charity" then the two soteriological
> slogans become equivalents. The reason is that a faith which
> works by charity is a faith which produces acts of love. But a
> faith which produces acts of love is a faith which includes the
> virtue of charity, the virtue of charity is the thing that enables
> us to perform acts of supernatural love in the first place. So a
> Protestant who says saving faith is a faith which works by
> charity, as per Galatians 5:6, is saying the same thing as a
> Catholic when a Catholic says that we are saved by faith,
> hope, and charity.

And again, if it is faith, hope AND charity - it is no longer faith
ALONE, and the concept of "sola fide" is null and void, no
matter how many word games we try to play to try and force
a unity between Catholics and Protestants. I might add, for
the same reason I don't play the word game over sola fide, I
do not play the same game with those who claim they are
not Protestants, while they stand there in "protest" of what
the Catholic Church teaches. I add this point because I
know there are some "Evangelicals" out there who are saying,
"I'm not a Protestant." That's another discussion for a later
time, but I wanted to make the point that I am consistent when
it comes to these word games.

> We may put the relationship between the two concepts as follows:
> Protestant idea of faith = Catholic idea of faith
> + Catholic idea of hope + Catholic idea of charity

In other words, a word game. My mentor and godfather always
told me, "words mean things," and that's a point I cannot forget.
So long as "words mean things" we cannot accept a watered
down concept of "sola fide" really meaning what Catholics have
said all along. IF it is as Catholics have taught all along, then
let's be honest about it - and drop this Protestant invention of
"sola fide."

> The three theological virtues of Catholic theology are thus
> summed up in the (good) Protestant's idea of the virtue of faith.
> And the Protestant slogan "salvation by faith alone" becomes
> the Catholic slogan "salvation by faith, hope, and charity (alone)."

He's repeating himself, I believe I've made my point here.

> This was recognized a few years ago in The Church's Confession
> of Faith: A Catholic Catechism for Adults
, put out by the German
> Conference of Bishops, which stated:
> Catholic doctrine . . . says that only a faith alive in graciously
> bestowed love can justify. Having "mere" faith without love, merely
> considering something true, does not justify us. But if one
> understands faith in the full and comprehensive biblical sense,
> then faith includes conversion, hope, and love good Catholic
> sense. According to Catholic doctrine, faith encompasses both
> trusting in God on the basis of his mercifulness proved in Jesus
> Christ and confessing the salvific work of God through Jesus
> Christ in the Holy Spirit. Yet this faith is never alone. It includes
> other acts

And this is exactly what I am saying! "(T)his faith is never alone.
It includes other acts!"

> The same thing was recognized in a document written a few
> years ago under the auspices of the (Catholic) German
> Conference of Bishops and the bishops of the Council of the
> Evangelical Church in Germany (the Lutheran church). The
> purpose of the document, titled The Condemnations of the
> Reformation Era: Do They Still Divide?
, was to determine
> which of the sixteenth-century Catholic and Protestant
> condemnations are still applicable to the other party. Thus
> the joint committee which drafted the document went over
> the condemnations from Trent and assessed which of them
> no longer applied to Lutherans and the condemnations of the
> Augsburg Confession and the Smalcald Articles, etc., and
> assesses which of them are not applicable to Catholics.
> When it came to the issue of justification by faith alone, the
> document concluded:
> "[T]oday the difference about our interpretation of faith is no
> longer a reason for mutual condemnation . . . even though in
> the Reformation period it was seen as a profound antithesis
> of ultimate and decisive force. By this we mean the
> confrontation between the formulas 'by faith alone,' on the
> one hand, and 'faith, hope, and love,' on the other.
> "We may follow Cardinal Willebrand and say: 'In Luther's
> sense the word 'faith' by no means intends to exclude either
> works or love or even hope. We may quite justly say that
> Luther's concept of faith, if we take it in its fullest sense,
> surely means nothing other than what we in the Catholic
> Church term love' (1970, at the General Assembly of the
> World Lutheran Federation in Evian).
> If we take all this to heart, we may say the following: If we
> translate from one language to another, then Protestant
> talk about justification through faith corresponds to Catholic
> talk about justification through grace; and on the other hand,
> Protestant doctrine understands substantially under the one
> word 'faith' what Catholic doctrine (following 1 Cor. 13:13)
> sums up in the triad of 'faith, hope, and love.' But in this
> case the mutual rejections in this question can be viewed as
> no longer applicable today
> "According to [Lutheran] Protestant interpretation, the faith
> that clings unconditionally to God's promise in Word and
> Sacrament is sufficient for righteousness before God, so that
> the renewal of the human being, without which there can be
> no faith, does not in itself make any contribution to justification.
> Catholic doctrine knows itself to be at one with the Protestant
> concern in emphasizing that the renewal of the human being
> does not 'contribute' to justification, and is certainly not a
> contribution to which he could make any appeal before God.
> Nevertheless it feels compelled to stress the renewal of the
> human being through justifying grace, for the sake of
> acknowledging God's newly creating power; although this
> renewal in faith, hope, and love is certainly nothing but a
> response to God's unfathomable grace. Only if we observe
> this distinction can we say
> "In addition to concluding that canons 9 and 12 of the Decree
> on Justification did not apply to modern Protestants, the
> document also concluded that canons 1-13, 16, 24, and 32
> do not apply to modern Protestants (or at least modern
> Lutherans)."
> During the drafting of this document, the Protestant participants
> asked what kind of authority it would have in the Catholic
> Church, and the response given by Cardinal Ratzinger (who
> was the Catholic corresponding head of the joint commission)
> was that it would have considerable authority. The German
> Conference of Bishops is well-known in the Catholic Church for
> being very cautious and orthodox and thus the document would
> carry a great deal of weight even outside of Germany, where
> the Protestant Reformation started.
> Furthermore, the Catholic head of the joint commission was
> Ratzinger himself, who is also the head of the Congregation for
> the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, which is the body charged
> by the pope with protecting the purity of Catholic doctrine. Next
> to the pope himself, the head of the CDF is the man most
> responsible for protecting orthodox Catholic teaching, and the
> head of the CDF happened to be the Catholic official with
> ultimate oversight over the drafting of the document.

For those who do not know, then Cardinal Ratzinger is now His
Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

> Before the joint commission met, Cardinal Ratzinger and
> Lutheran Bishop Eduard Lohse (head of the Lutheran church
> in Germany) issued a letter expressing the purpose of the
> document, stating:
> "[O]ur common witness is counteracted by judgments
> passed by one church on the other during the sixteenth
> century, judgments which found their way into the
> Confession of the Lutheran and Reformed churches and
> into the doctrinal decisions of the Council of Trent.
> According to the general conviction, these so-called
> condemnations no longer apply to our partner today. But
> this must not remain a merely private persuasion. It must
> be established in binding form."
> I say this as a preface to noting that the commission
> concluded that canon 9 of Trent's Decree on Justification
> is not applicable to modern Protestants (or at least those
> who say saving faith is Galatians 5 faith). This is important
> because canon 9 is the one dealing with the "faith alone"
> formula (and the one R.C. Sproul is continually hopping up
> and down about). It states:
> "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, so
> as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate
> in the attainment of the grace of justification . . . let him be
> anathema."
> The reason this is not applicable to modern Protestants is
> that Protestants (at least the good ones) do not hold the
> view being condemned in this canon.

"The good ones?" That terminology would seem to be a bit
offensive to both sides (Catholic and Protestant).

> Like all Catholic documents of the period, it uses the
> term "faith" in the sense of intellectual belief in whatever
> God says. Thus the position being condemned is the
> idea that we are justified by intellectual assent alone
> (as per James 2). We might rephrase the canon:
> "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by intellectual
> assent alone, so as to understand that nothing besides
> intellectual assent is required to cooperate in the
> attainment of the grace of justification . . . let him be
> anathema."

We start walking on thin ice when we start paraphrasing
the Council of Trent. The statement from Trent is "faith
alone" and it should remain such.

> And every non-antinomian Protestant would agree with
> this, since in addition to intellectual assent one must
> also repent, trust, etc.
> So Trent does not condemn the (better) Protestant
> understanding of faith alone. In fact, the canon allows
> the formula to be used so long as it is not used so as
> to understand that nothing besides intellectual assent
> is required. The canon only condemns "sola fide" if it
> is used "so as to understand that nothing else
> [besides intellectual assent] is required" to attain
> justification. Thus Trent is only condemning one
> interpretation of the sola fide formula and not the
> formula itself.

Again, I respectfully beg to differ. Trent condemned the
theology of "faith alone," period. When we start playing
with the words - we can get them to say anything we
would want them to say. A straight-forward reading of
the text from Trent is faith alone is condemned and any
Catholic who would hold this statement is anathema.

> I should mention at this point that I think Trent was
> absolutely right in what it did and that it phrased the
> canon in the perfect manner to be understood by the
> Catholic faithful of the time. The term "faith" had long
> been established as referring to intellectual assent, as
> per Romans 14:22-23, James 2:14-26, 1 Corinthians
> 13:13, etc., and thus everyday usage of the formula
> "faith alone" had to be squashed in the Catholic
> community because it would be understood to mean
> "intellectual assent alone"

Again, I respectfully beg to differ. The statement of "faith
alone" - as understood or used by the adherents to the
soteriological slogan of "sola fide" - does not include
anything added to faith. We do find the doublespeak of
the likes of RC Sproul, stating "it is faith alone, but not
a faith which is alone," and that - again - leaves us with
nothing more than word games or doublespeak.

> The Church could no more allow people to run around
> indiscriminately using the faith alone formula than
> other confusing formulas. While this formula can be
> given a perfectly orthodox meaning, that is not how it
> will be understood by the masses.

And again, this is and has been my point! Using the
terminology of "sola fide" has a different meaning to the
masses. For Catholics to embrace the Protestant slogan
would be confusing, to say the least, and since our God
is not a God of confusion - neither should His Church be.
Let us stand FIRM in the traditions we have been taught!
Let us not wilt to the "spirit of ecumenism" and compromise
our faith - or even have the appearance of compromising
our faith for the sake of (a false) ecumenism.

> There must be continuity in the language of the faithful
> or massive confusion will result.

And again, this is and has been my point!

> In fact, one can argue that the problem of antinomianism
> in Protestantism is a product of the attempt by the
> Reformers to change the established usage of the term
> "faith" to include more than intellectual assent. The
> English verb "believe" (derived from Old High German)
> and the English noun "faith" (derived from French and
> before that Latin) were both formed under the historic
> Christian usage of the term "faith" and thus they
> connote intellectual assent.
> This is a deeply rooted aspect of the English language,
> which is why Protestant evangelists have to labor so
> hard at explaining to the unchurched why "faith alone"
> does not mean "intellectual assent alone." They have
> to work so hard at this because they are bucking the
> existing use of the language; the Reformers effort to
> change the meanings of the terms "believe" and "faith"
> have not borne significant fruit outside of the Protestant
> community.

In short, Mr. Akin is again agreeing with the stance which
I have maintained throughout. Protestantism started playing
a "word game" and invented the slogan of "sola fide" - and in
choosing Latin (which was still the "standard" for educated
and literate individuals in the 16th century) they do more
harm to their position than good. The pertinent question is,
if this were such a foundational teaching - why do NONE of
the Latin Early Church Fathers use this Latin phrase? Why
is it that the ONLY place in Scripture where the words "faith"
and "alone" are used together is in James 2:24 and the
statement is a DENIAL of faith alone? The conclusion here
is rather simple - for the objective reader, that is.

> This is also the reason Evangelical preaching often
> tragically slips into antinomianism. The historic meaning of
> the terms "believe" and "faith," which are still the
> established meanings outside the Protestant community,
> tend to reassert themselves in the Protestant community
> when people aren't paying attention, and antinomianism
> results.
> This reflects one of the tragedies of the Reformation. If the
> Reformers had not tried to overturn the existing usage of
> the term "faith" and had only specified it further to formed
> faith, if they had only adopted the slogan "iustificatio sola
> fide formata" instead of "iustificatio sola fide," then all of
> this could have been avoided. The Church would have
> embraced the formula,

So why would we now want to embrace the failed terminology
of the "Reformers?" Mr. Akin makes the point quite clearly
that Luther and those who followed, invented this terminology
in redefining the meaning of Justification. To ask the question
IF they had included "formata" in the statement really begs
the question in the first place!

> the split in Christendom might possibly have been avoided,
> and we would not have a problem with antinomianism today.

Well, there was more going on in the 16th century than a
mere scrimmage between Rome and Luther. The German
princes were using Luther to help them separate from the
authority of Rome. If it weren't Luther and justification, it
would have been someone else shortly thereafter. Who
knows if the split would have been so "successful" (in the
worst sense of the word) but such speculation is really
meaningless - it happened the way it happened and today
we must deal with the consequences.

> So I agree a hundred percent with what Trent did.

As do I!

> The existing usage of the term "faith" in connection with
> justification could not be overturned any more than the
> existing usage of the term "God" in connection with
> Jesus' identity could be overturned.

Again, I am not crazy about the analogy Mr. Akin uses here,
but the point is - saving faith is not alone. A faith which is
alone is a "dead faith" and a "dead faith" cannot save you.

> What both communities need to do today, now that a
> different usage has been established in them, is learn to
> translate between each others languages. Protestants
> need to be taught that the Catholic formula "salvation by
> faith, hope, and charity" is equivalent to what they mean
> by "faith alone." And Catholics need to be taught that
> (at least for the non-antinomians) the Protestant formula
> "faith alone" is equivalent to what they mean by "faith,
> hope, and charity."

Again, I'd like to see how many Protestants would actually
agree with Mr. Akin's assertions here. I, for one Catholic,
do not agree. I do not believe that what Protestants believe
is sola fide is in agreement with what Catholics teach on
justification - not without playing word games, and as I
said earlier - and even Mr. Akin agrees to a point - such
melding of terminology can serve to confuse the masses.

> It would be nice if the two groups could reconverge on
> a single formula, but that would take centuries to develop,
> and only as a consequence of the two groups learning to
> translate each others' theological vocabularies first.

Why should we go an retranslate what we have ALWAYS
taught? We are not the ones who came up with this
invented terminology in the 16th century. No, there was
no "reformation" in the 16th century - the Protestants did
not "reform" they developed new churches and used new
terminology and new definitions of existing terms. True
ecumenism does not cave in to what is true and what is
right. True ecumenism might explain to THEM that if they
really examine their arguments - it is THEY who need to

> Before a reconvergence of language could take place,
> the knowledge that the two formulas mean the same
> thing would first need to be as common as the knowledge
> that English people drive on the left-hand side of the road
> instead of on the right-hand side as Americans do. That is
> not going to happen any time soon, but for now we must
> do what we can in helping others to understand what the
> two sides are saying.

Again, IF they are not REALLY meaning anything different,
then let them CONVERT or REVERT back to the One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church! Let's not submit to their
word games. Let us remain firm in the traditions we were

> (Needless to say, this whole issue of translating theological
> vocabularies is very important to me since I have been both
> a committed Evangelical and a committed Catholic and thus
> have had to learn to translate the two vocabularies through
> arduous effort in reading theological dictionaries,
> encyclopedias, systematic theologies, and Church documents.
> So I feel like banging my head against a wall whenever I hear
> R.C. Sproul and others representing canon 9 as a manifest
> and blatant condemnation of Protestant doctrine, or even all
> Protestants, on this point.)

Well, I too have been an "Evangelical" - in fact, I was a Lutheran!
And when I converted, I did not make a statement that I accept
that what I had believed all along was the same thing that
Catholics teach - just with different definitions! No! I stood there
and RENOUNCED my former faith! I publicly declared that what
I once believed was ERROR and that I now embraced the One,
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as THE Church which Jesus
Christ Himself built. Again, with all due respect, I believe it is
a serious error to embrace the 16th century errors as a simple

> The fact "faith" is normally used by Catholics to refer to
> intellectual assent (as in Romans 14:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13:13,
> and James 2:14-26) is one reason Catholics do not use the
> "faith alone" formula even though they agree with what (better)
> Protestants mean by it. The formula runs counter to the historic
> meaning of the term "faith."

EXACTLY! So let's not water down OUR FAITH for the sake
of appeasing those who "protest" against OUR FAITH!

> The other reason is that, frankly, the formula itself (though
> not what it is used to express) is flatly unbiblical. The phrase
> "faith alone" (Greek, pisteos monon), occurs exactly once in
> the Bible, and there it is rejected:
> "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
> (Jas. 2:24)"

Again, that has been the point I have been making all along! We
should stand firm in the biblical statement and boldly correct those
who wish to play word games and alter the plain reading of the
Scripture in James 2:24.

> Without going into the subject of what kind of justification is
> being discussed here (which is misunderstood by most
> Evangelical commentators on Catholicism, see below), the
> phrase "faith alone" is itself rejected. Even though Protestants
> can give the phrase orthodox theological content, the phrase
> itself is unbiblical. If we wish to conform our theological
> language to the language of the Bible, we need to conform
> our usage of the phrase "faith alone" to the use of that phrase
> in the Bible.
> Thus, if we are to conform our language to the language of the
> Bible, we need to reject usage of the formula "faith alone" while
> at the same time preaching that man is justified "by faith and
> not by works of the Law" (which Catholics can and should and
> must and do preach, as Protestants would know if they read
> Catholic literature). James 2:24 requires rejection of the first
> formula while Romans 3:28 requires the use of the second.

Again, that is EXACTLY what I have been saying all along! So,
in summary, Mr. Akin negates all the platitudes he offers in the
earlier part of his article! In the end - WE AGREE 100%! It
would be ERROR for us to embrace the terminology of the
Protestants! It would be, on the other hand, desireable for us
to teach them what we mean and show them that what they
must REALLY mean is in compliance with what we have been
teaching all along. If they remain insistent on the protest
language of the original Protestants - then they are just not
yet ready to convert.


3 Days, 3 Nights - Wednesday Crucifixion?

The following came from a discussion (now closed) on
CDF (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/catholicdebateforum )
and I offer it here for futher comments, should anyone desire...

So, let's objectively look at this...

Robin, Sandra and Bob (hereafter referred to as "The Three")
want us to "accept Jesus at His word"
when it comes to Matthew 12:40:

Mat 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in
the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and
three nights in the heart of the earth.

The Three insist upon an absolute literal reading of this
verse, yet even though it is a similitude (a comparison
to Jonah) and other verses, like John 6:53ff:

Joh 6:53 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.

Let's not get too distracted into discussing John 6 here, I
just raise that as a point that where Jesus is clearly NOT
using similitude and even says "Verily, verily..." (like I
REALLY mean this folks!) The Three will insist this is NOT
to be taken literally. I only bring this up to demonstrate
their inconsistency on the matter of reading Scripture.

Back to Matthew 12:40...
Point 1:
It IS a similitude - a comparison to Jonah - and thus not
a literal statement, but "AS Jonah..."

Objection 1 to Point 1:
It is a direct comparison to Jonah's three days and
three nights in the belly of the whale - so this reading
demands a literal three days and three nights "in the
heart of the Earth."

Response 1 to Objection 1 to Point 1:
Even still, this can be interpreted in a way which a
literal view of "three days and three nights" can be
applied, IF you begin counting at the time of Jesus'
betrayal, on Thursday night. If you do that, then
there's exactly three days and three nights in
Jesus' suffering/passion until He rises from the
dead on the Third Day.

Response 2 to Objection 1 to Point 1:
If we are taking Jesus "literally" on "heart of the Earth"
then we should assume they are burying Him at the
molten core of the Earth - for that would be the "heart."
Thus, unless we are to believe Jesus was buried in
the molten core of the Earth, then we must accept
that this is NOT a literal statement. If it is not a
literal statement then we must use interpretation to
get to what Jesus really means. Thus, the
interpretation that He was buried in a tomb as the
"heart of the Earth" is valid. This also opens up the
interpretation that "heart of the Earth" could be
referring to the time of His Passion, until He rose
victorious from the grave and death.

Point 2:
Jesus rose from the dead on the Third Day, which is
Sunday, and Scripture tells us it was about dawn
when there was a great earthquake and the stone
was rolled away and an angel sat upon the stone
as the two Marys approached. Keeping in mind as
well they were on their way to the tomb just before
sunrise, then the earthquake happened, then they
spoke to the angel, then they spoke to Jesus who
instructed them not to touch Him because He had
not yet risen to His Father, and yet shortly there-
after He appears to the Apostles and encourages
St. Thomas to touch His wounds.

Objection 1 to Point 2:
Scripture says Jesus rose AFTER the third day,
not ON the third day. (This was an actual objection
on CDF).

Response 1 to Objection 1 to Point 2:
Well, Scripture does NOT say "AFTER" the third day!
The references are just "the third day..." allow me to
quote: (all quotes here are from the KJV)

Mat 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to
shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto
Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders
and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and
be raised again the third day.

Mat 17:23 And they shall kill him, and the
third day he shall be raised again. And they
were exceeding sorry.

Mat 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to
mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the
third day he shall rise again.

Mat 27:64 Command therefore that the sepulchre
be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples
come by night, and steal him away, and say unto
the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last
error shall be worse than the first.

Mar 9:31 For he taught his disciples, and said
unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the
hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after
that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

Mar 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall
scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall
kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Luk 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer
many things, and be rejected of the elders and
chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be
raised the third day.

Luk 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and
tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do
cures to day and to morrow, and the third day
I shall be perfected.

Luk 18:33 And they shall scourge him, and
put him to death: and the third day he shall rise

Luk 24:7 Saying, The Son of man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be
crucified, and the third day rise again.

Luk 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he
which should have redeemed Israel: and beside
all this, to day is the third day since these
things were done.

Luk 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is
written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer,
and to rise from the dead the third day:

Act 10:40 Him God raised up the third day,
and shewed him openly;

1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that
he rose again the third day according to the

Not ONE of these verses say "after!" It is more
logical and contextual to say it was "on" the third

Why do our challengers say it was AFTER the
third day? Because they argue for a Wednesday
crucifixion. This heretical teaching did not see
the light of day until the 20th century and primarily
from the pen of Herbert W. Armstrong. There are
problems with a Wednesday crucifixion theory, it
doesn't match the antitype (see graphics on:
http://www.wednesdaycrucifixion.com ) whereas
the Friday crucifixion most certainly does.

How do we trace this down? Let's start with the year.
Tradition holds that Jesus died when He was 33 years
old. We know that the sun was darkened and there was
a great earthquake.

Phlegon was a Greek historian who wrote an extensive
chronology around AD 137:
In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33)
there was the greatest eclipse of the sun and that
it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon]
so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There
was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things
were overturned in Nicaea.
- Phlegon, 137 AD
So we have pretty good evidence that it was in 33ad that
these events, also recorded in Scripture, which signified
the death of our Lord. We also have a letter from Pontius
Pilate to Tiberius Ceasar:
Now when he was crucified darkness came over
all the world; the sun was altogether hidden, and
the sky appeared dark while it was yet day, so
that the stars were seen, though still they had
their luster obscured, wherefore, I suppose your
excellency is not unaware that in all the world
they lighted their lamps from the sixth hour until
evening. And the moon, which was like blood,
did not shine all night long, although it was at
the full, and the stars and Orion made
lamentation over the Jews because of the
transgression committed by them.

- Pontius Pilate, 33 AD
Well, what was recorded (100 years later) as an eclipse
could not have been - for Pilate records that the Moon
was full (which it would have been for Passover falls on
a full moon - so an eclipse is out of the question). The
real point here is it went dark and some tried to explain
this away as an eclipse - but it was truly the power of

Anyway, the point is 33ad is the year and what DID happen
that year, on April 3rd, was a LUNAR eclipse - which would
make the moon appear blood red. This according to the
NASA evidence provided earlier.

Passover also occurred on April 4, 33ad. This makes the
Friday beforehand the "day of preparation" and Saturday
is a "High Sabbath" as opposed to the regular weekly
Sabbath. The "meal" Jesus was eating with the Apostles
on Holy Thursday was the "Feast of the Unleavened" and
on Friday, at 3pm, the paschel lamb was to be sacrificed,
and - HE WAS! It was at 3pm on Friday, April 3, 33ad,
that Jesus cried out, "It is finished."

The ONLY response our detractors have had is that Jesus
said 3 days and 3 nights in Matthew 12:40 and "I'll listen
to Jesus before I listen to the Catholic Church." Well, we've
shown how this CAN be interpreted as a literal 3 days and
3 nights and/or that one doesn't HAVE to view this as
absolutely literal. We have demonstrated FROM SCRIPTURE
the course of events AS THEY HAPPENED and AS
SCRIPTURE RECORDS THEM - and the heretical view of
Herbert Armstrong and a Wednesday crucifixion just doesn't
add up.


Originally posted here:

The Rude Parrot

A little humor for Thanksgiving week... (USA)

Recently I received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. I tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else I could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, I was fed up and I yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. I shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. So, in desperation, I threw up my hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that I'd hurt the parrot, I quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto my outstretched arms and said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

I was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As I was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"


Will You Join Me?

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in wishing your friends and accaintences "Happy New Year" this weekend? It is, afterall, OUR New Year! Sunday, November 23rd was the "Last Sunday After Pentecost" (or the Last Sunday in Ordinal Time, if you prefer) thus ending the liturgical year. This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent! ChristMass is right around the corner! People may look at you a little funny to begin with, but you could use this as an ice-breaker in conversation to allow you to discuss your faith a little.

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in answering the "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" wish with, "and a Blessed Advent to you!" ?? The season of the ChristMass begins with Midnight Mass, the First Mass of ChristMass, and lasts through Epiphany (some could argue it lasts through the Ordinal Time After Epiphany too). The point is - from the First Sunday of Advent up to the First Mass of ChristMass - it is NOT the "ChristMass" season! We are in a season of anticipation of the ChristMass. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of he coming of the Messiah to the world.

Fasting in Advent?

Well, for the Latin Church, this is not required - though it is part of the Eastern tradition. Eastern Christianity begins the "Advent Fast" on November 15th and lasts through December 24th. It is called the "Nativity Fast" (Advent itself is a term from Latin tradition). It is like a "little Lent" where one prepares their soul for the coming celebration of the Nativity, or again in the Latin/Western tradition - the ChristMass. The "Nativity Fast" in the East lasts for 40 days, whereas Advent in the West lasts 4 weeks.

Can Latin Rite Catholic fast during Advent? Certainly! Latin Rite Catholics can use this period of preparation and anticipation of the ChristMass to mortify their souls, making the ChristMass season all the more meaningful and joyous. There is no requirement in the Latin Church to fast during Advent, but the practice is almost never discouraged. (Fasting is never necessary on "Feast Days" - which all Sundays are as well as other high holy days).

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in spelling "Christmas" as "ChristMass?" It is, afterall, the Mass of Christ which we celebrate on December 25th! It may also serve as a reminder to Protestants that ChristMass is truly a Catholic Holy Day (holiday).

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in NOT being upset when someone says "Happy Holidays" and return the wish with "Happy Holy Days to you too!" ?? Sometimes we hear this time of year people getting upset with the removal of Christ from ChristMass - and using terms like "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings." Rather than getting upset - which can make us look and sound like an extremist - if we smile and wish them a "Happy Holy Days" back - it may get them to think a little bit about what the season truly is about.

I hope you'll try one or more of these suggestions this year and perhaps continue the practice as a tradition in your households and parishes. We can put a positive spin on the secularization of ChristMass - and perhaps get people to celebrate Christ with us in the true spirit of the true season. If you do try one or more of these suggestions - please try to come back to this blog/post and leave a comment or two about how it went.


What is Advent?

I posted this a couple years ago, but felt as Advent is approaching, it was worth repeating. This coming Sunday is the LAST Sunday after Pentecost, or the Last Sunday in Ordinal Time, so Advent is upon us quickly!

What Is Advent?

Advent is the beginning of the ecclesial calendar. It is the first season in the Church year. The word comes from the Latin "advenire" which means "arrival." This is the season of anticipation of the Messiah wherein we put ourselves in the place of the ancient Jews. Advent then
culminates with the Christmas season - which begins on Christmas Day.

The season, though the precise date of when it started is difficult to ascertain, is of Catholic origins. There is some evidence of the season as early as the late 4th century. Christmas itself did not have a concrete date, some celebrated it on December 25th, others on January 6th. In
the Acts of Saragossa, a synod held in 380, the fourth canon prescribes a period from December 17th through January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, when no one can be permitted absence from church. This indicates a "season" of preparation.

Late in the 6th century, in 581 AD, at Macon, Gaul, a synod convened and decreed in its ninth canon a period from November 11th to the Nativity that the Sacrifice be offered according to the Lenten rite - demonstrating a call to penance and sacrifice during the Advent season. When it
was established as 40 Days prior to Christmas, beginning the day after the feast of St. Martin, November 12th, it also was called "St. Martin's Lent."

In the Eastern Church, there is no evidence of this season prior to the 8th century. In Eastern tradition there was no liturgical change, rather it was - as in the Latin tradition - a period of fasting and abstinence.

Today the season of Advent is the four sundays prior to the Feast of the Navitiy (Christmas - or the Christ Mass). Officially Advent begins with the Evening Prayer 1 of the
Sunday falling on or closest to November 30th and ends before Evening Prayer 1 of Christmas (the Vigil of Christmas on December 24th).

Many traditions mark the season, from Advent calendars to Advent wreaths. Perhaps the most recognizable in the Church is the Advent wreath. It consists of four candles, three of them are purple and one is pink. The pink candle is used on the Third Sunday in Advent to represent the
Gaudate, which means "rejoice" in Latin and is taken from the first word of the Introit for that Sunday. The joy of anticipation is stressed on Gaudate Sunday. The Gaudate Sunday also corresponds with Laetare Sunday in Lent, also a day in Lent when the vestments are permitted to be rose colored instead of purple.

Again, the purpose of the Advent season is to recall the anticipation of God's People awaiting their Messiah. It is also used for today's Christians in anticipation of the Second Coming of the Lord. It is a season, much like Lent, of fasting and penance to prepare one's soul for the
coming of the Lord. We should remember this during the weeks prior to Christmas - that this period is NOT the season of Christmas! The wish we should give to one another instead of "Merry Christmas" should be something like, "Blessed Advent to you!" And we can start wishing others a "Merry" or "Blessed Christmas" beginning with the Vigil of Christmas on Christmas Eve.

I hope you found this educational. If you have more to add, or perhaps can share your own Advent traditions - please do!

God be with you all!

A blessed Advent to you!


Passover Lamb

The following was posted to CDF and is reposted here with the author's permission and he wishes to be known only as "Nathan."

It all started on that fateful night when the Angel of Death came to kill the first-born son of every family whether Egyptian or Hebrew. The Hebrew people were to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the doorposts and lintel of their homes so that the Angel of Death should 'pass over' their household. *That night marked the birth of the nation of Israel but it also was a picture of a greater birth and a greater sacrifice to come many centuries later; the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death upon the cross as the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (*added comment by Phil).

But before going on let's see what John wrote about the circumstances of Jesus' death, the death of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

John is at the foot of the Cross holding Mary, suffering a mothers grief at losing ones son. John tells us in his account of Jesus'' death that although they broke the legs of the other two being crucified they didn't break those of Jesus "so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: 'Not a bone of it will be broken.'" Here John is referencing the requirement that the bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken as found in Exodus 12:46 "You shall not break any of its bones."

We can confidently say that John wants us to link the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to the first Passover because not only does John mention 'not breaking any bones' but even before that statement John still points to this night of the first Passover when he mentions how Jesus was given wine to quench His thirst by using a sprig of hyssop, the same type of plant used to mark the doorframes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs on that fateful night (Exo 12:22).

So what happened at the first Passover that John would bring us back to this point in time while Jesus is being crucified? Maybe because John wants us to see the connection between the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29) who saved us from the bondage of sin with the lamb who saved the Israelites from the bondage to the Pharaoh in Egypt. Maybe because he believed the same as Paul did when he wrote to Timothy that "All scripture is…useful for teaching… and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16). So we know that the sacrificial system of the Jewish liturgy of the Passover celebration teaches us, trains us in righteousness. We also see in Malachi that this liturgy will be changed and fulfilled or brought to fruition through his prophecy that: "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:11)

First, we see that at the time the book of Malachi was written, God's name was NOT great among the nations, therefore this is a prophecy of things to come. Second, at the mention of "a pure offering", what is the only pure offering ever brought to His name? Jesus. Third, we see that at that same event incense is also brought. This rules out most Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups as they cannot and do not fulfill this part of the prophecy because they don't use incense in their worship/liturgical ceremonies. And finally, "from the rising of the sun to its setting". All day long in other words. Which worship ceremony uses incense and brings a pure offering all day long (from rising to setting of the sun) all around the world? The Catholic Church is the only church which can claim this.

But what about the pure offering? What are we to do with it when we offer it to God? Well, just look at what John was pointing to when Jesus was dying on the Cross. Look At what the Israelites had to do at the first Passover sacrifice – they to kill the lamb and then eat it (Exo 12:7-8 or Exo 12:43-47). It wasn't enough to sacrifice the lamb and to put its blood on the door frames. To save the first-born sons of each household, they also had to eat the lamb as well. How can we be sure of this? By listening to Jesus' own words of John 6 which states "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.". And to confirm this suspicion, the account of the Last Supper as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul all say the same when holding the unleavened bread once it was blessed. Jesus says "This IS my body...this IS my blood".

God Bless

Before the Fall, This Cometh...

I was asked to do another posting on "Pride" - so I began today. Below are some quick references to give us a head start, I'll add some more comments of my own later...

"The Devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked." - St. Thomas More, 16th Century
"God is stern in dealing with the arrogant, but to the humble He shows kindness." - Proverbs 3:34
"Hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to the love of God ..." - The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2094
Overweening pride, arrogance, haughtiness: these have been the stuff of tragedy. Vanity, fussiness, delicacy: the stuff of comedy. These are all forms of self-delusion, and paper-thin masks over rotting features. Pride and vanity refuse the truth about who we are and substitute illusions for reality. While vanity is mostly concerned with appearance, pride is based in a real desire to be God, at least in one's own circle.
The first requirement of pride is spiritual blindness. Any glimpse of God reveals our frailty and sinfulness, just as a well-lit bathroom mirror shows the flaws in our complexion. Like Oedipus, we are driven to gouge out our eyes at the sight of our wretchedness and wander away from our heavenly home, with no purpose or direction. Unlike Oedipus, we build up myriad illusions about who we are and what we are about. We can busy ourselves with career, family and even church work, thinking we are being driven by a strong work ethic, moral values or the fire of the Holy Spirit. In reality, we may be running away from God by running away from ourselves. Nearly everyone else can see that we are putting on a show, but not us. Our coworkers may hate us (they are just jealous), our children may self-destruct or leave us (they are ungrateful), and we may never truly pray but merely stand in the presence of a god we have created, but we still refuse to see.
A second requirement of pride, indeed a symptom, is that each challenge to our pride drives us harder to improve our illusion of productivity, sanctity or compassion. It has been said that the definition of a zealot is "one who has lost sight of his goal, and so redoubles his efforts." We might say the zealot works twice as hard to keep up appearances.
When we hear sermons about pride, or read this text, we may be tempted to think of all the people we know who really need to read it. We need to read it. Pride is about us, and we would love to retain our illusions by pointing to others, saying: "But they are very proud. I really don't think I'm that great, but they do."
The best pride detector is this: how much are we bothered by the pride of others? And if we feel attacked, is our response: "other people are worse."
A strong indicator of pride is competitiveness. There is nothing wrong with playing to win, provided the joy is in the playing. If our happiness depends on defeating others or knowing our child is the star of the team, we are building a world of illusion.
At death, all illusions are stripped away. God's judgment will not take into account our bank balance, how much we own, how smart our children are or how much self-esteem we have. All that will matter is whether He recognizes us (Matthew 25:12).
There are three ways to destroy Pride, and they must all be taken together:
1) Be grateful to anyone and everyone. Treat even the things people are expected to do as great gifts. Be grateful for your food, your change at Burger King, rain, life itself. Thank everyone.
2) Beg forgiveness of God for the sin of Pride. Go before Him in prayer every day or every few hours and implore His mercy. The more this offends you, the more Pride you have.
3) Ask God for a spirit of Humility and Gratitude. Read Philippians 2:3-11 and imitate it. Understand that without God's Grace, we will never cast away our illusions. Ask God to break your pride and vanity using whatever it takes: illness, loss of friends, loss of family, public humiliation. This is unbelievably difficult to request, and every fiber of our being fights it. We protest it is not fair, or "God doesn't work that way." My friend, what good is health, friends, family, a good reputation, if you have no real love for God, but only a hollow illusion? In the end, all but true love for God is lost, so count all else but God as loss now.
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Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas said of Pride "inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin (1,77) ... the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule."

Pride (Latin, superbia)
Main article: Pride
In almost every list pride (or hubris or vanity) is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to others though they may be deserving of them,[citation needed] and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor." In Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. Vanity and narcissism are prime examples of this sin. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitent were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility.

What We Sow...

Our priest last Sunday gave a sermon on the Sower (I guess loosely connected to the parable of the Mustard Seed, which was the Gospel reading). He asked the question, "What kind of seeds are we planting?" He also cautioned us about planting seeds which either are or lead to the Seven Deadly Sins. Father stressed especially "anger" which brought to mind some instances going on in a couple of the email groups I host through A.C.T.S. I'll not go naming names, if the participants in the group(s) are reading this, they know who they are – and I will add, that I myself am not immune from this criticism and/or suggestion for keeping in mind what I am saying and to whom and where what I say may lead (either myself or the persons reading).

Falling into one of the Seven Deadly Sins (see links below) is especially dangerous for if we willingly do so, we are separating ourselves from Sanctifying Grace. If we respond in anger or with angry words, what kind of seeds are we planting? What will these seeds mature into? It may, at times, seem like we're just responding off-the-cuff and don't even realize it. Perhaps we don't think too much about it at all, but consider the seeds we're planting. What we sow, so shall we reap. Words which are posted in anger tend to merely reap anger - plus the more one posts with anger, the more that person appears to BE and angry person. The more we use that approach, the more we are truly becoming an angry person. In short, we're not making progress in getting angry and we may be putting ourselves into mortal sin.

This is not to say there aren't times when anger can be and is justified. Jesus Himself was angry with the moneychangers in the Temple. He also referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites and the blind leading the blind. Still, Jesus used anger sparingly and if we look at the overall method of Jesus - He is very reserved in His delivery and more often uses a peaceful message.

Back to the point of the sermon...
We need to be mindful of our actions and words so that we are not planting seeds of the Seven Deadly Sins. If those seeds mature in us - then we have lost Sanctifying Grace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins <- Wiki Article

A lighter look at the Seven Deadly Sins - but makes you think!
http://www.deadlysins.com/features/isle.html <- 7 Deadly Sins of Gilligan's Island.

The Brown Scapular

Recently in the Catholic Debate Forum (CDF) the discussion of the Brown Scapular has come up. The Protestants challenging have asked how the "promise of Mary" can be true, arguing "either it is true or it is not." The Catholics have given answers, some short and others a bit evasive (I'm not going to name names), so rather than post to CDF to be lost in literally thousands of messages, I am posting a fuller response here - where it is a bit easier to read and much easier to search for (since I'm "labeling" it, see side panel).

What is the History of the Scapular?
Originally scapulars were worn by religious to protect their habit while working. They were originally large squares attached by cords and worn over the shoulders, or "scapula" again, as a protection to the habit they were wearing. After an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock - Mary attached a promise to those who faithfully wore the Brown Scapular. This promise was initially and specifically for those of St. Simon Stock's order - the Carmelites.

What IS the Promise of Mary?
This is what bothers and even offends our Protestant/separated brethren. The promise is: "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." Taken out of context, this sounds like a superstitious promise and practice of those who would wear the Brown Scapular. Context is important in all things, as I am sure our Protestant/separated brethren would agree. There's more to it than just wearing it! You wear it because you are devoted to the Blessed Trinity. You wear it as a reminder that the pains of hell await those who reject Jesus Christ and His Free Gift, or more importantly those who do not persevere in the Faith. The wearing of the the Brown Scapular does not give you a free pass to Heaven, or allow you to live a life of sin and heresy then show up at the Pearly Gates and just wave your scapular at St. Peter and he lets you in! However, THAT is the way many Protestant/separated brethren look at the sacramental of the Brown Scapular. They seem to think that we believe there is this superstitious "power" behind the mere wearing of the Brown Scapular. While this is NOT the official understanding of WHY we would wear it, there are some stories and/or private revelations which lend some credence to the Protestant/separated brethren concerns - but a closer look at those stories (again, context) reveals something deeper.

If you look at the link to Sr. Mary Agatha's blog (linked below under "Sources") you will see her responding that if one is unfaithful, but superstitiously wears the scapular - essentially, the Blessed Virgin Mary will not be tricked! If you lead a life of treachery and also wear the brown scapular, she relates, somehow that scapular will be removed from your shoulders prior to you dying. A nurse "caring" for you may remove it; you may stumble down a flight of stairs and in the process it falls off, landing beside you at the base of the stairs - and you see it laying there, off your neck, as you breath your last breath, etc.

I have also seen it argued that in wearing the Brown Scapular "faithfully" - that if you do so, you will be given the opportunity, even at the last moment, to repent of your sins and be saved.

In then end - the REAL IMPORTANT FACTOR IN WEARING THE BROWN SCAPULAR IS FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. You don't get to Heaven by by-passing persevering in faith. The special devotion to wearing the Brown Scapular is really more than merely wearing it. There are prayers you agree to pray - DAILY - when you are invested into the community - and to NOT pray those prayers, you're not "faithfully" wearing the Brown Scapular. One would have to ask the question - why would anyone living a life of sin and treachery take the time and effort to not only wear the scapular, but to devote themselves, DAILY, to prayer and supplication to our Lord?

Another important factor to remember is that these ALL fall under the realm of "private revelation." Absolutely no Catholic is required to accept, believe or practice the sacramental of the Brown Scapular. One could be a completely faithful Catholic and never partake in or be invested in the Brown Scapular.

I hope this helps answer questions and/or concerns some of you may have had regarding the wearing of scapulars. The Brown Scapular is only one of several, the different colored scapulars carry different promises.

I may add to this blog as well, so I hope you refer back to it often when you have questions - and/or refer others to it.


Here's another excellent reference:

Brown Scapular
Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmelites)
A.D. 1251

"The Brown Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel," associated with the Carmelite Order, is the most well-known. In A.D. 16 July 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock in Cambridge, England after he prayed for help for his Order. She appeared to him with the scapular and said, "Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant."

Whether this happened exactly in this way or not (St. Simon's original descriptions of the vision are not extant and the wording may not be exact), the Scapular was given to St. Simon Stock, and the devotion spread and was well-known by the 16th c. What can be safely believed because of papal decree is the promise known as the "Sabbatine Privilege." The Sabbatine Privilege is the promise that Our Lady will intercede and pray for those in Purgatory who, in earthly life:

* wore the Scapular in good faith;
* were chaste according to their state in life;
* daily recited the Divine Office or, with the permission of one's Confessor, the Little Office of Our Lady [a shorter form of the Divine Office in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, used by certain religious orders and laity. It is similar to the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Roman Breviary] or the Rosary; and
* departed earthly life in charity.

You can be enrolled in the Confraternity of our Lady of Mount Carmel by any priest. Just obtain a scapular, take it to him to have it blessed, and express your desire for enrollment.

Warning: Some falsely believe that wearing the Brown Scapular offers some sort of guarantee of salvation because of the legendary words attributed to Our Lady. This is against Church teaching, is superstitious and a grave error. Sacramentals are not magical ways to manipulate God; they are Church-instituted rituals/objects that remind us of what we are supposed to be doing/thinking of, that depend on the faith, hope and love of the user, and which help prepare us to receive God's saving grace. One must do more than "wear the scapular"; one must wear it worthily.



An Interesting Response from Sister Mary Agatha Blog

Catholic Debate Forum (CDF)

Fisheaters Site on Brown Scapular

Luther and Purgatory

Martin Luther

I tried to post this response once before, but it seems to have disappeared, so I will post it again now and also post a copy of it to my blog:

I am also not implying that there was any ill-will on Mr. Swan's part and that he may have deleted my earlier response. I was quite tired that evening when I attempted to post it - and it's possible after I did a
few "previews" that I neglected to click "publish." So, on with the response:

Mr. Swan, quoting Luther:
St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3, says of the fire of the last day that it will prove the good works, and by it some shall be saved because they keep the faith, though their work may suffer loss. Of this fire also they make purgatory, according to their custom of twisting the Scriptures and making of them what they will.

Well, there's no "twisting" done by Catholics
here! If Luther would just read on in the same
context he'd find Scripture provides us with
the truth of the matter. Let's do that now,
and I will bold the text which Luther
quotes from and italicize the text which
answers him:

1Co 3:12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
1Co 3:13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.
1Co 3:14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (NASB)

It must be noted, this "testing by fire" is done as a judgment for those ALREADY SAVED and it mentions that if a man's work is burned up, he will "suffer loss." He will "suffer" yet, still is saved! This is a VERY CLEAR reference to Purgatory in Scripture.

May God allow each of us to read this with objectivity and humility. Purgatory IS scriptural - even if
Luther didn't see it as such. It also must be noted, this article of Mr. Swan's reveals that even though
Luther did not believe Purgatory was scriptural, he still believed it was true! Quoting again from Mr.
Swan's blog:

"That there is a purgatory cannot be proved by those Scriptures which are approved and trustworthy. I have never yet denied that there is a purgatory, and I still hold that there is, as I have many times written and confessed, though I have no way of proving it incontrovertibly, either by Scripture or reason..."

(We have just seen it is clearly found in Scripture)

"...in a word, I have decided for myself that there is a purgatory, but cannot force any others to the same decision."
(1521, Luther's response to Exsurge Domine qtd.
at: Beggars All Blog.

So Luther, though he THOUGHT he could not prove Purgatory by Scripture - still believed in it.


Answering James Swan's Eucharist Questions

1. If a person is unknowingly in mortal sin, and takes the Eucharist, what are the dangers? Should those in such a state simply be excused for being ignorant of the gravity of their state?

In order for a sin to be a mortal sin, one of the conditions is the person must be willfully aware that it is a sin and commit it anyway. For example, "You shall not commit adultery" is one of the Ten Commandments. For a Christian person to engage in an adulterous relationship it is a mortal sin for every Christian knows the Ten Commandments, and to participate in such a relationship is clearly contrary to God's Law and an utter rejection of His Authority in one's life. They choose self pleasure and lust over God. No Christian could possibly NOT be aware of this sin as it is foundational to the Judeo-Christian faith. In short, one cannot be in mortal sin without KNOWING they are in mortal sin and in need of reconciliation.

2. Where does the Roman Church outline these dangers?

The Catholic Church teaches this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (I can post references if you wish) and straight from Scripture (ditto on references).

3. Should a priest be concerned about the possibility of giving someone the Eucharist who should not have it? If so why? If not why?

Yes, a priest should be concerned and if he KNOWS the person approaching him for Eucharist is in mortal sin, he should refuse that person. If the priest has no knowledge of the person's state, then he should not refuse the Eucharist and if one is receiving is not "receiving worthily" then this is between that person and God, and that person eats and drinks judgment upon him/herself.

I hope this helps.



Responding to James Swan on Sola Fide

I found a blog which "challenges" a statement from my website. That blog can be found here: beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com - by James Swan. James responded to my article over a year ago (March 1, 2007) but I did not see it until recently. I meant to respond when I saw it, but lost track of it. I found it again tonight so will respond now. Let's look at what he said, and I will add my responses here now.

> Scott says,
> “One of the mainstays of Protestantism is the
> concept of “sola fide.” Two very straight-forward
> words which translated mean “faith alone.” The stand,
> foundationally started with Martin Luther, is in
> opposition to the Church's position that true
> “saving faith” is never alone. True “saving faith”
> is always accompanied by good works, the first and
> foremost of these works is believing. Believing in
> Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is the foundational
> work of faith in our lives. That is the Catholic
> position. Now what Protestant really disagrees with
> this position? I am not aware of any, yet they have
> this “doctrine” of “sola fide!”
> James replies:
> It should be noted that Luther believed “true
> ‘saving faith’ is never alone,” and “True
> ‘saving faith’ is always accompanied by good works.”
> “Faith,” wrote Luther, “is a living, restless thing.
> It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works;
> but if there be no works, there must be something
> amiss with faith.” Luther scholar Paul Althaus notes:
> “[Luther] also agrees with James that if no works
> follow it is certain that true faith in Christ does
> not live in the heart but a dead, imagined, and
> self-fabricated faith. The book of James describes
> a real true faith in Christ: a real saving faith is
> a living faith. If no works are found in a person,
> that faith is a dead faith (c.f. James 2:17). James
> then describes a dead faith: the faith of a demon.
> A demon has faith that God exists, that Christ rose
> from the dead- I would dare say a demon knows
> theology better than you or I. But is the faith of
> this demon a saving faith? Absolutely not. Luther
> says, “Accordingly, if good works do not follow, it
> is certain that this faith in Christ does not dwell
> in our heart, but dead faith…”

To which I reply:
Thank you James! You have confirmed what I said in that article, which you have linked to my "featured" article - one which changes periodically. The permanent link to that article on sola fide can be found by clicking here. It was and is my contention that "saving faith" is never alone - which is what Luther clarifies as well. The confusing factor is that this invented doctrine of "sola fide" gets attributed to Luther, when in actuality - he didn't believe in it either! When Luther clarifies, his position really IS the Catholic position. Let's continue with what James (Swan) wrote:

> James continues:
> Scott went on to revise his paper after I provided
> him with these quotes and a link to my paper, which
> goes into this in great detail. Of the first quote Scott
> says, “…this quote (which TQuid cited only a secondary
> source to a secondary source, not giving the primary
> source of the quote)…” . Yes, I cited a secondary source,
> Roland Bainton, who cited the primary source. Normally,
> I would not do this- however the evidence of Luther’s
> position on this is overwhelming, and I liked the way
> the quote was phrased.

I reply:
Thank you again James for admitting to the use of a non-
primary source. Regardless of the rationalization for
doing so, and that you "liked the way the quote was
phrased" - it's still a "secondary source to a secondary
source." I do appreciate you clarifying this fact.

> Had this been my only quote to prove Luther’s view,
> I would agree that such methodology is spurious.

Quoting a secondary source to a secondary source is
always spurious methodology when such is not pointed
out up-front.

> If you read this blog regularly, you know I have a
> field day with context-less quotes from secondary
> sources.

I do not read your blog regularly, I stumbled upon it and now am responding to it. Again, regardless of what you do regularly, to cite a secondary source to a secondary source and not let the reader know up-front is spurious.

> Had Scott read section 6 of the link I gave him
> “Quotations from Luther on Faith and Works”, he
> would have read dozens of quotes from Luther
> substantiating the position I outlined.

Again, I do not deny that Luther upheld the Catholic position on a true "saving faith."

> James continues:
> Scott makes a big deal out of the “sola” in sola fide,
> because the classic Protestant position states
> justification is by faith alone, it is not by a faith
> that is alone. Scott says, “What I find even more
> ironic is that few, if any, Protestants see the
> double-speak of that statement! Is it “alone” or not?
> If it is by faith alone, then nothing – and we must
> insist that nothing – stands next to it for
> justification.” Theological terms can’t be handled
> the way Scott Windsor insists.

James is backpedaling now, as just about every Protestant apologist does when confronted on this subject. Why CAN'T theological terms be handled this way? After all, WORDS MEAN THINGS! If it is "sola" then it should truly be "alone," and not, as Luther said, "always accompanied by good works," and whom also states "it is never alone." Hence my question remains! "Is it alone or not?!"

And now the diversion tactic:
> James continues:
> Roman Catholics should especially know this. They
> have nuanced certain theological concepts to make
> them say, or not say, whatever will best suit Rome.
> For example, take the Roman Catholic phrase, "no
> salvation outside the church." Try dialoging with a
> Roman Catholic on this concept and watch how nuanced
> the explanation becomes.

James, the subject here is sola fide, not extra ecclesiam nulla salus! I am more than willing to discuss and debate THAT subject with you, but I will not be distracted/diverted into that subject here and now.

Then comes what I found to be quite typical when I was on the NTRMin webboard regularly:

> I find Scott's argument to be the typical double
> standard approach put forth by Roman Catholics.

What "double standard" is James talking about? The terminology "sola fide" is not a "nuanced" phrase! Translated to "Faith Alone" - it is a simple phrase, but when we ask about it we find Protestant apologists who hold to it start saying, "it's alone, but it's not alone." Yes, that would be a classic example of double speak. They will give us all sorts of rationalizations, but it boils down to double speak. James claims that if you ask Catholics about EENS you will find us using all sorts of nuances. Well, I disagree. Again, I will not venture into a debate on EENS here and now, as that is purely a distraction from the FACT that to say "we are justified by faith alone, but not by faith which is alone."

> James continues:
> Protestants arrive at what Windsor calls “double speak”
> because they seek to be faithful to the Biblical text.
> Our best efforts are tainted with sin. If God demands
> perfection in order for one to be justified before Him,
> no one would ever be justified. Justification is actually
> totally of works, but those works were perfect and
> performed by the perfect savior, Jesus Christ. These
> works are acquired by faith, imputed to the sinner.
> Grace, faith, and the work of Christ are essential
> ingredients that justify, and that justification is a
> gift as well as the very faith involved. As Paul says in
> Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace have ye been saved through
> faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
> not of works, that no man should glory.”

And above we see that James (Swan) has added even MORE to the "sola" making it even LESS ALONE! James doesn't even mention "good works" in the above explanation, but "grace, faith and the work of Christ are essential ingredients that justify, and that justification is a gift as well as the very faith involved." So on top of what Luther said, that "good works" always accompany "saving faith," James is adding grace and the work of Christ. We're finding this "sola fide" is less and less "sola" all the time!

It should also be noted that Ephesians 2, as with nearly all times which St. Paul is speaking out against works, is speaking about works of the law, of the Old Covenant. The context of Ephesians 2 deals with the work of circumcision, and confirms that whether circumcised or uncircumcised - that work doesn't justify. Otherwise, the "work" of circumcision would be one men could boast of.

> James continues:
> If God judges a man by Christ’s perfect works, why
> should any Christian ever care about leading a
> righteous life? If grace, faith, and justification are
> God’s gifts, what is left for us to do? Eat, drink,
> and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Perhaps James can explain what drawing Ecclesiastes 8:15 into this context has to do with the subject? The FACT is that each of us WILL be judged according to our works - and that judgment will be by fire! If any works are burned up, we shall suffer loss - but for those works which remain, we shall receive reward (1 Cor. 3:14-15). Again, I do not see the connection James is trying to make here, perhaps he will see this and qualify what he's trying to say. It seems to me to be yet another distraction from the fact that "saving faith is never alone."

> James continues:
> Paul answers in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His
> workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
> which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”
> Faith performs good works, not to keep one justified,
> but out of heartfelt gratitude to God graciousness.
> Salvation is unto good works. Note what this means:
> good works are not unto eventual salvation. We are
> saved in order to perform good works, not by
> performing them.

It seems Mr. Swan is just adding "fluff" now (another distraction tactic). Nothing said in the above statement confirms or contradicts sola fide. It seems rather a straw man he's building up here so that he can easily knock it down. Catholics do not deny that justification through faith and good works go hand in hand - in fact, THAT IS THE POINT! The point is - saving faith is not alone, period. Again, James fundamentally agrees with me on this point! MY point is that the terminology of "sola fide" gets lost in double speak when they go to explaining themselves.

> James concludes:
> The catch phrase "justification is by faith alone, it
> is not by a faith that is alone" is just a way to
> describe a living faith. I'm not going to quibble with
> Scott over this. The phrase was coined to try to point
> out, as simply as possible, the relationship between
> justification and good works.

It is good that James is not going to quibble with me over this - for it is a lost cause for him to do so! He's already, with Luther, conceded the Catholic truth here the only question is why hold on to the terminology of "sola fide" - when a "true saving faith is never alone?!"

The REAL clincher though remains - and no Protestant apologist can get around this one. The ONLY PLACE the words "faith" and "alone" are used together in Scripture is found in James 2:24 - and it is in flat out DENIAL of sola fide!

James 2:24:
"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (NASB - emphasis added).


Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...